You are standing in a room displaying a curious fusion of the childlike and the mature upon all sides. Books of every description overflow from shelves, some of which are glowing- the books, not the shelves. Who would make glowing shelves? Well I suppose if you got up that many times in the night to find a book it could be handy, but a light spell would be easier, or just, I don't know, turning on a light? These books actually glow for effect, because I wanted them to, not because someone has actually taken the trouble to imbue a light spell into the... *ahem*Books. On shelves. Continue. Also to be seen on various, also non-glowing shelves, are dolls, neatly preserved in their original packaging, while figurines, plush toys and ancient video game machines crowd around them. Many of the figurines are scantily clad, but all seem to share a common large eyed heritage you could probably place if you thought more about it. All seem to have at one time been precisely placed, but now their display seems more haphazard. Almost as if a small familiar, like a cat, had at one time disturbed their positioning, and the owner was either pleased with the slightly more chaotic feel of the layout or was just too lazy to straighten them out again... this cannot be determined simply by looking.A large picture window to your left lets in sunlight through cream colored vertical blinds, and a yucky colored house with a black car can be seen outside, across the road. Despite the sun, the trees burst forth with not a single leaf, leading you to believe the season is early spring, which of course would be entirely correct. A calendar hangs from the computer desk, and shows it is sometime in March, proving in your mind just how good at the whole seasons guessing game you are. Turning around you can't help but notice the ungodly stack of ancient computers that sit in a heap behind you, and yet more shelves full of, as far as you can tell, junk, but it probably has sentimental value. As you continue to glance around, a gray cat charges up to you and begins demanding something with a curiously squeaky cry, and looking down at it you can't help but notice how much the carpet needs to be vacuumed. Obviously the home of a bachelor, you think to yourself, also noticing the wires trailing everywhere and the rack of swords on the wall. Yeah.Hearing his cat crying the man in the room, how did you not notice him before, turns from the curious machine he is standing in front of. Obviously a computer, but with a screen that lays flat on the desk, and currently projects upward an image of what looks like a map. The man regards you seriously, as though waiting for you to explain yourself, and seems reluctant to speak. He seems average looking enough, with wavy brown hair, blue eyes, perhaps slightly taller then average, and thin. Finally the silence (such as it is, the cat still hasn't given up meowing at you and rubbing your legs) stretches too thin even for him, and he speaks."Well, come right in, don't bother knocking or ringing the doorbell or swirling your cape dramatically and having a minion announce you." He pauses, then finally smiles. "I'm kidding with you, of course. I've been expecting you, and I didn't write you doing any of those things, so why would you? Also if you were not expected my barrier shields would have been fully active and done something either terribly hideous or humorously ironic to you as you entered, depending on my mood."You begin to wonder about this person's sanity, he didn't "write you" doing those things?"Yes, yes, you're in my power, you know. There's no getting around it apart from ceasing to read, and it's only the introduction, you wouldn't pick up something to read and then not give it a fair chance before putting it down again, would you? By that I mean you aren't that kind of person, are you? No, no, I thought not. I started directing your actions the instant you read the first word, which I graciously allowed to be about you, rather then me. Go back and look. I'll wait, go on."You recall that he is correct, the very first word you remember reading was "You" and the sentence was about what you were doing, but is this strange person expecting gratitude? Then you can't help but think... sentence? Are you reading about doing these things or doing them?"Oh, it's much the same to me," says the curious man. "And no, I'm not expecting anything, I'm just pointing it out. Now come, I'm just putting on the finishing touches. Oh you needn't worry about spoilers, it's all very high level at this point. Not even I know the ultimate direction yet- Take a look!"He gestures you over to the map, and you can see he's been working on the framework for an entire world, which he seems rather proud of. "Let me introduce you," he says, and dramatically centers his hands over the model, then draws them apart. The room seems to fall away, and you are drawn into the framework, and find yourself standing next to him on a plain looking city street. The people walking seem to take no notice of either of you, in fact, they pass right through the man as though he were not even there. You step around any person coming at you, just to be safe, and it is the cautious thing to do, even if evidence suggests you are currently intangible, or somehow not part of the current scene."This is just a set piece, of course. Wait, is that the right word?"The man looks off to the side and makes a curious motion with his hands, perhaps he is casting a spell of some kind?"No, it's the opposite of a set piece, according to Wikipedia, it's more like a storyboard. Facade? It's something, who cares? The name of the thing isn't important, in this case. Usually I would say the opposite was true, wouldn't you? But then I am a wizard, of sorts. This bit won't be seen again, it's just to set the scene, like an opening shot in a movie, where the camera pans down and everything? You know what I mean."You do."Of course you do. Take a look around!"As you do, you notice a curious blend of both the fantastical and the technological, both in the architecture of your surroundings and the people. In view you can see people with robot arms and legs, people who are obviously magical, regular people, and some fantastic creatures like fairies fluttering about. The buildings are both familiar city style dwellings and fantastic in nature, floating or otherwise showing the occupants are students of the mystical arts. In the distance you see a large shape in the sky and wonder if it's a plane, but as it comes closer you see it's a dragon, but no one seems concerned as it passes overhead."His name is Vexixarax, I've just made it up right this second when I wrote him in. I have no idea if his inclusion here foreshadows any event in this story or not. Well I do, of course I do. But that's the me in the future that knows, not this me, standing here now. You appreciate the distinction, I gather?"Again, you do."Again, of course. So, by now you've realized the story is not set in either the world of tomorrow or the fantasy world of yesterday or of true magic or even your world of the everyday, but rather the combination of these things, just because I can. This is the world of Paragon™, yes I said Paragon**™**. How do you pronounce "™"? Well I don't know!"You hadn't asked."You were going to. Anyway, I've created this world for the story you're about to read, so I thought you would like to know what you were getting into. This world is a crazy place, full of people who have given up their bodies to become mechanical, wizards of great knowledge and power, and some fantastical creatures, as I've just now recently described to you without saying a word. Speaking of that, everyone speaks the same language here, because honestly, get a worldwide language going already, people! At least one creature you might meet will seem to be from your mundane world, but which will have a hidden depth you wouldn't have expected. Remember I said that, you'll know him when you see him."You think to yourself that you'll certainly try."Good."The man closes his hands up again, and the world shrinks to reveal the cluttered room again."It's actually a rare opportunity, you know, you arriving as you did. I haven't put the forth wall in place for any of the major characters, so I'll let them introduce themselves. Oh, one important thing to always remember- these people know."The man placed a finger aside his nose, as though telling a great secret and wanting you to recognize it as such. The gesture is totally lost on you, you have no idea what he's getting at."I mean they know they're part of a story, a "role playing game" type story from the Paragon™ book, and they are the main characters. They have character sheets and everything, you'll see. It's a very taboo thing to ask to see someone's character sheet, of course, but that's in the world, and you're not part of it, so go ahead and ask them. They won't mind showing you. Now most people in stories don't know they're in a story, right? Also, typically, they don't know exactly how good they are at certain things, or how much effort they need to expend to improve themselves. The people of this world do know those things. They have inventories, they have a combat delay, it's totally without remark these things are true. For them, the natural state of the world is to be able to pull out a character sheet at any time to consult it, or add something to their inventory, or what have you. So don't be surprised if they express amazement when you ask them about it."You wonder if you're going to ask them about it."It's not an interactive media, so I have to sort of guess at what questions you would ask, and then have you ask them on your behalf. Like just then when I mentioned inventories and things, and you wondered what that all entailed. There is a glossary somewhere around here, you can look up terms in italic print there. I'll get it to you before long, in fact you may already have it. Look around, it's someplace. Anyway, you are under my power, as I said before, which is a big responsibility for me, but I'm not a prankster, don't worry. I won't comically harass you in any way. I could," he said, holding up a finger. "But I won't. Keep in mind, once chapter 2 starts the forth wall will be up, so you won't be able to interact with them at all, so don't try, it'll just confuse the issue."You nod appropriately."Excellent. If you don't get it, I appreciate your not letting me catch on, it's very mature of you. Live in ignorance, I guess that's the world's motto? I can't really tell, it's very confusing out there. Anyway, let's meet our ESPer character, he can tell you more about himself and the world. I won't say he's the main character, so take no notice of the order in which I introduce these characters, it's basically at random. I think?"You wonder what an ESPer is, but the Narrator (as you've come to think of him) gives you no chance to ponder this question, but again expands the map and you find yourself standing without him, looking instead at a young man who is currently making what appears to be his laptop float in the air.