Read an Excerpt
An Erotic Romance
By Piers Anthony
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2011 Piers Anthony
All rights reserved.
He logged onto the Eroma site and there it was: the Notice. He was accepted for the August Game! He had been trying for months. This was the leading erotic romance adventure site, with a competition that could make a player rich, notorious, and sexually satisfied for life. What more could a poor horny nonentity want? He had filled in the application form in advance and entered it, knowing that the selection would be random. All the selections were made in a two-hour window of opportunity, and his was ready.
YOU ARE PLAYER #16 MALE. SELECT AN AVATAR NAME FROM P.
He did a quick mental count, knowing the way the game proprietors thought. P was the sixteenth letter of the alphabet; that was why he had it. Pure chance.
He considered the alphabetic list. Pacian, Page, Park, Paul, Pedro ... That one appealed to him. He was not Hispanic, so that would help preserve his anonymity despite the audience of millions. He checked Pedro.
WELCOME PEDRO. SELECT AN AVATOR RACE.
Another list appeared: Elf, Faerie, Mongol, Moor, Nordic, Nubian. Race in an online fantasy game was not at all the same as in real life. Weren't the Moors the Arabs who conquered and ruled Spain for several centuries in medieval times? He knew nothing about them, but Pedro was a Spanish name, so maybe he should be a Moor. Not that it would have any relevance to the real Moors; the game had its own definitions.
There were other choices, which he handled with similar caution. It was just the avatar, after all: the figure he would animate within the game. But if anyone in real life—popularly abbreviated IRL—caught on that he was playing this particular game, he'd be a laughing stock. Unless he scored really well.
When he was done, the Game authority verified his choices, then gave the key instruction: REPORT TO THE GAME CENTER AT 0900 HOURS NEXT WEEK.
There it was. He was in, and his active participation would start as early as next week. The game aired once a week, in a four-hour session. That gave players seven days to recover.
He was so exited he hardly noticed the reminder card in the mail: he was due for a routine eye appointment on the morrow. But he was glad to get it out of the way before the game.
The test did not go well. The oculist wanted him to take anotherone. Pedro took it two days later. It would be a few weeks before the results arrived. He wasn't concerned.
The next week, Pedro reported to the game center as directed and identified himself. He was ushered into a private cell where he sat on a comfortable chair in an encompassing harness, donned a special helmet, gloves, boots, and had a device attached to his midsection with a complicated condom on his penis. This was to enable him to properly operate his avatar. He could exit it at any time by saying the null code phrase, I QUIT, or removing the helmet. Otherwise, the equipment would remain in play for the full four-hour session. He had no intention of quitting.
When he was ready, he spoke the magic words: "Pedro is entering Eroma."
Immediately the illumination in the chamber faded and the game scene opened around him. It was a breathtaking view. Why not? With computer animation they could have anything anyone could imagine.
He was sitting on a miniature throne that overlooked the lush valley ahead, centered between high snow-covered mountains, a steaming volcano, forests, fields, rivers, and a large central island-studded lake. Cleared paths wound through the forests and up the slopes, leading to attractive pavilions.
He stood up, faintly surprised that he could do so. But of course the equipment monitoring his body responded to his motions, and the harness prevented him from crashing into anything in real life. He could stand and walk, and wave his arms and look around. The animation tracked him perfectly. Already the scene seemed real.
After he had done these things, satisfied that his avatar was functioning, he knew it was time to start the game. His avatar was nude, but of course that was the way it was in Eroma. It was a sexual game and a sexual competition, and clothing would merely get in the way, at least in the early rounds.
There was a nearby pool. He went and gazed at his reflection. He was a swarthy, but otherwise neutral male, nothing distinguishing. That too was part of the game. He would have to earn his appearance. There was a small name plaque tattooed on his chest: PEDRO. He knew there was another on his back, identifying his dominant and recessive traits. He would have to get another player to read that for him, so he would know what he had been assigned. His familiarity with prior games guided him; this was a variant of the standard opening setting.
He walked down the main path, and came to a sign: INTERACTIVE ZONE. He passed it and glanced back. From this side the sign said: PEDRO PRIVACY ZONE. Good enough. He could return here when he needed to. But he had no intention of doing so. He was here to play the game, for all he was worth.
Soon he was in a minor labyrinth of diverging and intersecting paths. Other players appeared.
They were nude, male and female, of course, of all physical types, but all young and attractive. He was afraid he would get an embarrassing reaction as he got close to the girls, but he didn't. It seemed that being public stifled that particular effect. As had evidently been the case in the prior games he had watched so avidly.
"Oops!" He had almost collided with a girl on a merging path, having been so busy checking the variety of bodies ahead. "I'm sorry. I wasn't looking."
"My fault," she said. "My eyes were downrange."
"Uh, hello, uh, Fotina," he said, reading her name on the inset plaque above her small breasts.
"Hello, Pedro," she said, reading his plaque.
"You're a Moor," he said, faintly surprised, noting her swarthy skin and dark hair, matching his.
"Yes. I thought not many would choose that, so I did." She hesitated fractionally. "Could I ask a favor?"
"Let's exchange favors. We can read each other's traits."
"Yes." She turned around, exposing her back to him. Her buttocks were as modest as her breasts. In fact her overall proportions were barely nubile, as if she was not completely out of childhood. But that too was part of the game; the first round was always for defining the traits of the avatars.
"ARTS/magic," he read aloud.
"Oh, thank you!" Then he turned, as she returned, and she read for him. "MAGIC/arts."
"They're the same too!" he exclaimed, surprised. "By sheer coincidence." Or was it? Sometimes the game proprietors played little tricks on players, so as to make things more interesting for the television viewers. Had their meeting been arranged? He could break that up simply by walking away.
"If you don't mind—" She faltered. "I barely made it into the game, and didn't get to properly review the rules. Could you tell me why one word is capitalized and the other isn't?"
"No problem. Let's walk on down to the main assembly area, and I'll explain." He had studied all the rules carefully, and discovered he rather liked having someone to clarify them for—Especially an inexperienced girl. He wasn't walking away.
"Yes, of course," she agreed gratefully. "Thank you."
They resumed walking, tuning out the others converging on the main path. "It's to identify the dominant and recessive genes, as it were. Dominants are capitalized."
"I don't understand. I thought people would just interact and exchange what they have."
"They will. We will. But it's not completely straightforward. Each sexual exchange will give the other person the dominant trait, and half the recessive trait. There will have to be another exchange to get the other half of the recessive."
"Oh. So if you and I exchange, I'll get Magic and half of Arts, while you'll get Arts and half of Magic?"
"Exactly. We don't get to keep our assigned traits; we can only pass them along to others. For a person to get all ten traits, he'll have to make at least ten exchanges with different other players."
"Couldn't you and I make two exchanges and get both traits complete?"
"We could. But it would be wasteful. When a player has a full trait, it can't be added to. We'd each have two traits from two exchanges. If you and I make one exchange, then exchange with others who have those recessives, we'll each have two dominants and one recessive, or three complete traits from the two exchanges. Since time is limited, that efficiency counts."
"Now I understand," she said. "Thank you. Would you like to exchange with me?"
Why not? He hardly knew her, apart from the anonymity of the avatars, but their dialogue was compatible, and what counted was the exchange. "Yes. But there's a hitch: we can't do it in public. Not in the first round. It's a game rule that I understand is enforced."
"How is it enforced?"
He shrugged, embarrassed. "Well, for one thing, a man can't get an erection if observed by more than one person. A woman can't loosen up enough to let a man in to get an orgasm. It's the orgasm that effects the exchange."
Now she shared his embarrassment. "Oh. Yes. Of course. I knew that, but forgot. I'm sorry."
"No need. It's hard to keep everything straight at the outset. There's so much to acclimatize to."
"Can we go into a forest glade? Or isn't it supposed to be done outside?"
"Outside is all right if it's private. That is, with no other players watching. But there may be another factor: safety. Off the main paths there are monsters."
"Monsters," she repeated, glancing around nervously. "Then we need a house."
"There are some," he agreed. "We'll find one."
They took a diverging path that led to a pavilion on the side of the hill. It wasn't far, and soon they were at its door. It was a circular structure, hardly more than a roof with a surrounding thin wall.
Pedro opened the door. Immediately there was a howl and a nebulous shape loomed close. Fotina screamed.
Luckily, Pedro had virtually memorized the rulebook. "Begone, spook!" he cried, waving his arms.
"Oooo, shiiiit!" the ghost moaned, and faded away.
"What did you do?" Fotina asked. She was breathing hard from her alarm. That did things for her torso.
"Haunts don't count," Pedro explained, stepping inside and looking around to be sure there was nothing else. "All they can do is bluff. I called its bluff. Come on in; time is of the essence."
"Yes." She entered.
In the center was a round bed. That was all. "Let's do it," he said, suppressing his nervousness. He had had sex many times in real life, but how would it work in the game framework, with avatars? His member was twitching; being private with a woman was an automatic turn-on.
"Yes," she repeated, seeming as nervous. "How? I—I haven't done this before."
"Well, the game's just started," he said reassuringly, as if he were not suffering the same doubt.
Pedro paused, taken aback. "You mean You're a virgin? IRL?"
"Ire ell?" she asked blankly.
He smiled. "In Real Life. It's a shortcut. The game is fantasy life, but we do exist outside it."
"IRL," she repeated, getting it. "Yes. I am a virgin."
"But this is a sex game! For people who are jaded with the real thing, or can't get enough of it, like me. Are you sure you belong here?"
"Not at all sure," she said candidly. "But there's a big prize for the winner. I need the money."
He gazed at her half pityingly. "Oh, Fotina! Your chances are one in sixty four, and worse if You're not skilled. You don't want to start your sexual life this way."
"It's the only chance I have to get what I need. My family—" She broke off. "But That's no concern of yours. You know sex? Do it, so I can learn." There were tears on her face. Score one for the avatars: they were realistic.
"Fotina, you can exit the game at any time. Just say the words, and You're out. You don't have to have sex with strangers."
"It can't be worse than what I face if I drop out. Please, Pedro, you seem like a nice guy. I'm glad I'm starting with you. Just show me how."
What could he do? If she stayed in the game, she would have to have sex—many times, with many men. Some would not be considerate; all they would want was a fast exchange. At least he could break her in gently.
"Lie on the bed, on your back. Spread your legs."
She lay on the bed and spread her legs. Her eyes were tightly closed.
He got on her, his penis rising nicely despite his mixed emotions. What would help her? "It is okay if I kiss you? You don't have to do it."
"I prefer it. I wish kissing was all it took. To—to make the exchange."
"That's not the way of it. Men wouldn't join the game. They want sex. With multiple women." He did not add that he was such a man.
"I understand. But I'm glad you want to kiss me."
"I do." He kissed her mouth. She kissed back, desperately. "It's that purely business sex isn't my style, though it's the rule here." He kissed her again. "We can pretend we're doing it for love."
"For love," she agreed tightly.
This wasn't working. Oh, he could penetrate her, and that should trigger the exchange. But he wanted her to like it, or at least not feel as if she were being raped. She needed to learn to do it readily, so as to have a chance in the game. "May I kiss your breasts?"
She opened her eyes, surprised. "Is that the way it's done?"
"It is when it's a complete act of love. He likes it, and she can like it too. Breasts are kissable." She, as a template woman, had only moderate breasts, but in this situation they were more than enough to turn him on. The game proprietors knew what they were doing, ensuring that the avatars had what was required to play their roles. His functioning penis was part of that.
"Oh. I didn't know. Yes, do it."
She was a virgin, all right. He kissed her right breast, then her left, sliding up to the nipple. He sucked on it, and the aureole expanded. He felt her stiffen. "I'll stop," he said quickly.
"No. It just surprised me. Because—it just did. Go on."
But he was cautious. He tried his best not to freak her out. "Because why?"
"Because I liked it."
He had to laugh. "I was afraid you hated it!"
"No, it's nice. It makes me want to—to have the sex. Is that the way it's supposed to be?"
"Yes. Avatars have enhanced sexual capabilities. Lips, breasts, genitals—they're responsive. More so than IRL, generally. Only in this game, after this, you'll want to do the sex quickly, because there's only so much time. I just wanted you to—to be at ease this first time."
"I'm getting there. I'm glad You're teaching me."
He gave her nipple a final lick. He moved up and kissed her mouth again. This time her eyes Weren't locked shut in dreaded anticipation. He decided on one more spot lesson.
"My penis has gotten hard, as it needs to be for this. Put your hand on it. Feel it."
Hesitantly, she obeyed. "It's hot! And so big. I'm not a big girl. Are you sure it will—will fit?"
"It should. All the avatars are sized to be compatible. And IRL, her vagina stretches to accommodate his penis, so there's usually not a problem there either."
"Oh," she said doubtfully. Her hand was frozen on his member, as if holding a glass decoration. She had no idea what to do with it.
"After this, when You're alone with other men, and you see their penises get big, you'll know they will fit and that there's nothing to fear in that respect. Apart from the fact that none of this is really real in the physical sense. Our real bodies never are in contact, only our animated avatars. Everything we feel is tactile and electric feedback from the equipment. Our willing suspension of disbelief makes it all seem real. Even sex."
"Yes." But she seemed to remain uncertain.
He took his member from her hand. "Now I will penetrate you, slowly. If you are uncomfortable, say so, and I'll stop."
"I will." Her eyes squeezed closed again.
"Fotina, ordinarily I would not ask this. But you need to know exactly how it's done. For your effective participation in the game, with other men. Please watch."
"I'll try." She forced her eyes open, lifted her head, and looked down at his erection. She evidently remained somewhat wary of such a formidable instrument.
Then at last he fitted his penis into the slit of her vagina and pushed in slowly. The slit became an expanding hole. The fit was snug, but her flesh yielded graciously. There was no discomfort, in part because the genitals of all avatars were crafted to be pre-lubricated.
Excerpted from Eroma by Piers Anthony. Copyright © 2011 Piers Anthony. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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