|The Revived Legend of the Black Swordsman (Side A)
Author: ronelm2000 PM
Haruyuki stumbles upon a special item from a mysterious Sapphire Controller. Combined with his curiousity upon the mysterious swordsman / Burst Linker Kirito, he finds himself inside the very game and very time his legend stumbled upon. Only this time, with an acceleration of 1000x, he's forced to play the cruel game of death for real. Haruyuki and Kuroyuuki-hime's Side/Route.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Fantasy - Haruyuki A./Silver Crow & Kuroyukihime/Black Lotus - Chapters: 5 - Words: 23,877 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 28 - Follows: 33 - Updated: 12-01-12 - Published: 08-03-12 - id: 8388864
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A piercing headache flew over me as I woke up with the overly fake, yet soothing feeling of grass whistling in my toes and bare feet.
I looked around – left, then right. The familiar sounds of a «Boar» in the distance, snorting with a content tone, seemed to pass by me as if telling me one thing – that this had happened before. Surely, it did, didn't it? I tried to remember the last thing that crossed through my mind. Yes, far into a cave – somewhere within the canyon, a certain girl was screaming, followed by a rather loud shattering BGM. What could it mean?
I quickly remembered my current level – it was still 12.
But, was it a mirage, after all? A hallucination? Or was it her work again? I couldn't tell anymore. I wonder when she'll show up (actually, only her voice would be transmitted), and listen to her semi-mindless chattering again? While I liked it over all, it quickly became almost annoying. Then again, I couldn't bring myself to hate that voice for some reason.
With a blank mind, I gestured my hand and revealed the menu, and tapped at the «Skills» Window. The familiarly cryptic skill passed through me yet again – yet it didn't have a single sign of showing up. The cryptic language stayed the same – which from the start itself, looked like a mix of Russian, Italian, and American accents and letters.
"I still wonder what happened during that day, huh…"
I couldn't bring myself to sleep anymore, but I remembered that face oh so well – Kayaba Akihiko.
『Chapter 2: The Three-Word Paradoxical Question』
"Y-You can't be serious…"
I muttered those words, but quickly bit them back. No, my character itself did not allow for that. I wasn't the same weak «Haru» I was in the Real World anymore, I was «Haru», the sole operator of «Silver Crow». One by one, each of the victims broke down, muttering a chant only a God would probably understand. Within seconds, everyone had quickly panicked, and scattered all throughout the entire «Starting City», which, by itself, was already amazing, as the «town» itself seems to have the size of Tokyo.
"Uuugh," the answer came from my lips: an inevitable truth – was this the job she was talking about?
My swift feet caught ahold of my fat, short body; however, being a known expert in fantasy VRMMOs, the momentum of my posture quickly changed, and, with a blast, I ran through the city, trying to reserve my energy as much as possible. Several «Skills» popped out of my screen, being unlocked, but only indifference was my response to them. Did she want me to clear this old game? It wouldn't be the first time someone asked me to clear a game – especially one that has gone through immense amounts of bugs.
In a few minutes, I had almost reached the outskirts of the town. Somehow, this old, retro game still had a rather advanced hunger and fatigue system, and somehow it's telling me to rest, but I've already dealt with such systems before. Usually, the easiest way to stave off that kind of limitation was to take short breaks, then, somehow, your fatigue somehow dissipates better than when you take longer breaks. It basically forces the system to give you better tolerance on fatigue and sleep. I wouldn't doubt if people here didn't knew about such a trick, however, since this was the first VRMMO in history.
I had ran far enough, seeing the rather open field before him. A wide grassland, with rolling hills filled with «Boars», with my nearly famished feet telling me to stop, I immediately opened the gesture part of my «Skills» menu and added the «Sprint» skill as my 2nd skill slot. With a wide booming sound, I dashed through the endless charade of «Boars», up until I could easily see a rather wide array of «wolves». Remembering my own «experience» in «Fantasy MMOs», I quickly formed the starting motion of a straight «Diagonal», and slashed the enemy at my path head-on, as I continued to dashing up until I had reached the wide forest.
"Gah," I blurted out to myself. "It would have been better if I had a guide or something… could I be lost, somehow?"
I was sure that there would usually be an event somewhere around these parts. It was one of the new «Taboos» in creating «MMOs»: to have a starting quest to earn a good sword. For some reason, I had come here just to do that. Yet, having no idea at all where to start, I immediately thought I saw my human lips drying up with out of words to express my anger at the one who sent me here without a single real explanation. I had to quickly assume that the original «job description» she gave me was false… I mean how can I save the world when I don't know how?
I looked to the left, and then to the right. Scattered all around this rather small, unplanted patch of land, several «Little Nepents» were buzzing around without a care.
"It looks like a spot that seems to be perfect for «farming»." I easily concluded, making a sure face. "Hmm, I wonder if «quest items» are only available when you accept them…?"
That part really wasn't on the Taboo at all. Sure, some MMOs would prefer to have «quest items» only available when you are actually taking them, but some take it to more realistic values and just made it so that the «quest item's spawning rate» would be lower when you took the quest than when you haven't. Some MMOs don't even do that sort of thing.
"Sigh," I muttered to myself. "I guess I'll have to find the «quest NPC» just to be sure…"
I strolled my way past the fields of «Little Nepents», then through the zigzagged forest path. I quickly took notice of the small birds flying around the different «Oak Trees» scattered in this relatively dense green luscious forest. What seemed to be «parrots» passed me overhead, making their rest on a rather vine-filled Man globe tree with a small, yet hallow hole. Behind this very tree, was a small, sparkling calm creek flowing right up to the «Starting City».
"Too bad this kind of scenery doesn't really exist in 2046 Japan…"
I muttered to myself as I passed along the creek, making my way to a fork, one leading to a small wooden hut, while the other leading rather a bit deeply into the forest, although, far beyond the distance, I could easily see the sight of a wooden wall, the sign of a town. Directly at the right, a climbing path separated me from the small, yet blinding light of freedom. Several «Boars», «Little Nepents», and some «a Lone Fox» overlap the path, but it didn't really matter, as they don't seem to attack when you don't attack them.
"Well, the quest for whatever it is should probably be at the wooden hut, or I could still go on through to the next town" I reasoned out, "But I guess it would be better to see the next town up from above…"
Usually, I would simply take the quest for what it's worth, but I have no idea of what the map itself is. Despite having a map that can be used for «searching friends», it didn't give enough details on stuff like «Elevation», «Mob Density», «Town Description», «Quest Checkpoints», and many other things usually reminiscent of a real «VRMMO» map. Making things short, it was just a map used for «searching».
With my own fatigue finally recovering, I ran yet again, this time as fast as I could, running towards the speck of clear light up beyond the green fields. Even in this «old virtual world», everything seems just as real as any other «VRMMO» in 2046. Isn't it weird per se? Even after 20 years, the quality of graphics in any VR game, save «Accel Assault» and «Brain Burst», have almost been the same from the so-called «very first full-pledged VRMMO» that is «Sword Art Online». Within minutes, the clear sky blue light just on the horizon finally completely covered my eyes. While the stone roof that covered what should have been the clear azure sky still stayed the same, nevertheless, the scenery of the small completely wooden town surrounded by comparatively small forest being swallowed by the rather large open fields filled with several «Wolves» was still as captivating as ever, especially when seen from a tall cliff such as this.
"Beautiful…" I muttered.
"Isn't it, so?"
A voice I had recognized came from behind.
"Hello, «Haru»," he greeted formally, but in a monotonous, gloomy voice. "I'm sure you already know me, but let me reintroduce myself. I'm Kayaba Akihiko."
The very fact that the GM was here made my eyes twitch. He wore a white lab coat covered behind a grey t-shirt, which covered his rather slim body. His pale face completely complements his simple boyish hairstyle. He was certainly a man capable of doing this – all of this.
"May I ask…?" he walked past besides me. "Where are you from? I have tried to check your «Software Serial» and it was certainly counter-feit."
"If you said I came from the future, would you believe me?" I replied with a question.
"It's certainly possible. There were supposed to be 10,000 players in SAO, yet the «Black Iron Castle» registered you as the 10,002th player. Three people have already died, so in order to hide those two's existence, I'm going to secretly override you and the other player's names into them." He placed his palm on his chin, and simply resolved to a sigh. "But, unfortunately, I have no way of assuring people won't know how this is weird in the future."
Was he expecting a thanks from me? I guess so, since, going by what he's saying, only 10,000 copies were sold on the first day, which means only if there are 2 other players joining SAO, then the most logical question would be who would have a copy of a software that only has 10,000 copies. The most obvious solution there would be that the GM (or Kayaba in this case) would be joining the game. Did I just screw a spoiler too early!?
"Well, you don't really have a choice, in the end," I shrugged. "You can say that I was forcefully sent here from 2046 by someone to do something. This 'something' I have no idea either. I don't even know this MMO even existed."
"Well, that's quite a shame," he frowned. "It seems that the government will choose to hide this MMO's existence, huh…"
"Surely," I nodded. "if I saw it from their point of view, that would most certainly be the most logical conclusion to avoid having to outright ban VR altogether…"
"I guess «the hero» really did use «The Seed»…"
«The Seed»? I think I heard it before. Back in the 2024, a revolutionary freeware for creating VR servers and clients were created in response to the scandal RECTO had aligned itself in «ALO». It was called «The Seed», and what was revolutionary about it was that it was the basis of all «VRMMOs» even up to 2046 – in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if «Brain Burst» was based upon it. From the technology that makes the «Neuro-Linker's Eye Auto-Correct» and «3DCCTV» work, almost every single «VR-related technology» had «The Seed» related to it. The reason for this was, in reality, really simple: it was free, intuitive, easy to develop in, and was extremely flexible. In 2033, «The Seed» was updated to version 2, again by an anonymous user, which allowed full compatibility with the «Neuro-Linker» and added functions to it, like «Full-Pledged Quest Generator» (inspired from «ALO»), «Random Coefficient», «AR Connectivity Function», «Advanced Object Properties» (it removed «Weight» with «Override Density», added «Override Atomic Composition», «Biological Composition», and «Material Composition»), «Weight Auto-Configuration», «Surface Tension», «Micro-organism Algorithm», «Fractal Water Algorithm», «Accelerated Senses», and many more.
"So… you're the one who developed that software, huh…"
He half-heartedly nodded.
"Well," his gaze met mine. "If I didn't do it, no one probably could."
"I don't know about that…" I honestly replied. "There were certainly others who contributed greatly to what VR will become in 2046. You probably won't know half of the people right now, though."
I paused, before I continued on.
"I know one thing that I shouldn't do," I calmly deduced. "That is… I shouldn't change what will happen in this world. I'm a «spectator» in this story, not a character."
"So that's how it is…" he turned a 180 degrees, and walked back towards the forest, "For a second, I thought you were going to kill me or something…"
Why would I think that? The very instant such a thing entered my mind, I quickly shook it off.
"Since you're just a spectator," Kayaba smiled. "I assume «Death» here won't mean anything to your «VR Console», which had probably been edited to avoid the player's inevitable scenario, so I edited your «Death Penalty» to «Reset Character» and «Respawn on the Portal Gate of Floor 1»… Feel free to enjoy the game, though, «Haru». However, you most certainly won't get the «Unique Skill» I planned for the «Hero»."
At that point, I already knew what that «Unique Skill» it could be, and where it would end up. That man, called «Kirito» - he must be the «Hero» Kayaba had assigned this role to, and thus, he must be the «Black Swordsman» that will end this «death game». It was the fate of this world. However, I wasn't here to change things. I was here to watch it unfold. It really does sound like a plan coming up from someone who watched too much shonen anime.
"Oh, I forgot something," Kayaba flicked a finger. "This was created by «Cardinal» after examining the connection between you and the server. It's most likely a «Unique Skill», probably the only one I have never designed."
"You should check your «Skill List» sometime."
His words lingered on, as the figure gradually disappeared and blended with the green forest. It was as if he designed himself to be a ghost. Anyway, it doesn't matter: at least I won't be truly getting the «Death Sentence» of this world. But, I still need to be on my toes. If anyone were to see me die, it would be a bit dangerous for my identity. Second, I can't completely trust that my own «Death Penalty» be that either, and even then, the «Death Penalty» is still just brutal, almost like a normal «Perma Death» rule I'm quite familiar with. In the end, I'll only have to rely on this rule when worst comes to worst. My equipment will still be a problem, in the end: «Death» to me means I have to repeat everything.
"In the end," I sighed. "I still have to avoid «Death» at all costs… but then…"
I opened the «Menu» and checked my «Skill List». Sure enough, beyond what small a list I have unlocked, one skill appeared right at the bottom, buried between the hundreds of locked skills. The skill itself was full of question marks, but, unlike the other «Skills» which used grey text to indicate «locked», this skill name was displayed in white text. There was a small red mark on the option, indicating something… that I didn't know. One good guess would be that it could be the mark of a «Unique Skill», or an «incomplete skill».
"Either I go downtown to buy some potions… or I could actually take the quest back at the forest. Such a difficult choice…"
Go downtown, of course.
Surprised by the gloomy, monotonous voice that suddenly pierced my ears, I instinctively turned around.
I'm one of her associates in the 9th dimension, Call me Yuki.
Correct, she quickly replied almost mechanically. I was sent by Ko-… Sapphire Controller to guide you while she's gone.
"That really sounded like a poor excuse."
She is currently talking to Black Lotus and her father right now, explaining the situation. As is, you must be briefed in order to accomplish your mission.
"What mission really is it?"
Judging from her actions, she seemed to have paused for a moment.
That's classified information, Yuki responded. I've been ordered not to brief you on that myself.
Either way, Yuki continued. You must make your way to «Horunka» and prepare «Health Potions». For now, you should focus on leveling up as fast as possible, in order to stand a chance.
"Your voice… so… cold," I moaned in resignation. "Are you always like that?"
I'm simply me; my temporal and spatial identification has not changed, my 3rd dimension designation has not changed, neither has my nth dimension raison d'etre. What do you mean?
It's amazing how she threw complicated words over like simple cards!
I climbed my way down the rough winding zigzag tread path, slashing away several «Bees» and «Boars» in the way with a «Horizontal» and a «Slash». It still felt a bit odd, but I can certainly feel how the speed of my slash had such an impact on the damage. Normally, just 1 or 2 hits will kill most of them. Considering «Bees» are «Level 2», by normal MMO standards, it should take at least 3 to 5 hits instead.
"It must be the «System Assist Boost»…"
The words slipped out of my mind. System Assist Boost, the term used in many MMOs when you stop being dependent on the system boosting your attack speed. It is when the speed and the image of your «virtual muscles» now determines, or rather boosts, your attack. «ALO», «REALO», «BB», «AA», among others use a similar system in the similar forms. In the end though, while for some people such a system is but fair, others, especially the «Neo-Modern Communists» that emerged in 2030 onwards, believed that such a system does not provide the fairness that was more prevalent in «Level System». But, what is the basis of success? What is the basis of a fail? What's the real basis of fair? I believe their lack of a concrete definition of the term would be the most basic reason I don't necessarily agree on their claims.
It took me a couple of minutes to get myself around 500 meters down the cliff and into the open luscious plains, this time surrounded by «Wolves». Based on both my previous experience in MMOs and the «Level 3» indicator, they must be geared for those honoring «permadeath» and managing in parties. How, perhaps? Based on the physique on these «Wolves», they are not geared for parties attacking it in a circle, or in a continual «Switch». Their «Bite» attacks may seem cruel, but in reality, even the formation of their cavities suggest that even a «Level 1» will only get killed after a serious bite to the chest. Otherwise, it'll probably take at least 7 hits. On solo, however, it may be a bit hard…
"I'm probably overanalyzing things again…"
Whatever your analysis was, will it work in the situation we're now in?
"You say that, Yuki," I replied. "… I wish you were a much better help, you know…"
Yuki talking or not, it's a bit hard to avoid encountering such ravaged wolves, especially on unsightly plains like this. In the end, though, I don't really have a choice. Encountering any more «Wolves» will potentially break the newbie «Copper Sword» I only have in my hand. There's also the rather rare «A-Rank» «Bee Pin» which can be used as a «Throwable Weapon», but I can't use it with such precision or damage if I don't have a «Weapon Throw» ability of some sort, which, for some reason, I haven't unlocked yet.
And thus, those minutes trying to avoid the eyes of the «Wolves» felt like hours as I cautiously traversed the open field, up until the distance between me and the inviting forest slimmed down to a couple of steps. Even then, I still kept a relatively safe eye-to-eye margin, up until I could touch the bark of the oak tree bordering the «Wandering Forest». A straight sigh of relief lifted my heart.
Yet, deep inside me, I had already known for myself how a gaping hole in my heart it would leave me with, which seemed to chase for something exhilarating. Back in 2046, where every single day was a tense acquisition and resolution from both sides of the «accelerated world». What really was the real agenda of the «research society» that had continued to battle all this time? The thought only came to me now.
Two days had passed, then three, then four.
Having acquired what seemed to be one of the powerful one-handed sword of its time, the Anneal Sword, which I could easily describe as quite heavy for now, but quite appropriate for its size overall, I had found myself in the open fields, killing what I have called «predictor mobs»… or at least that's what people dubbed those mobs which are usually scheduled to be buffed into ridiculous amounts of EXP due to «Cardinal's EXP Algorithm», which had been "cracked" by several hackers in 2035. They were called «Large Gnomes», found in the far west, almost near the border of the 1st floor. No one had yet explored this much, due most likely to how «Kayaba» had basically traumatized 90% of its players. I could definitely hear the echoes of my endless «Horizontal» slashes against the rather beefy sizes of the mobs, merely chipping away 1/30 of its HP per slash. However, I had utilized the use of again the known «Horizontal Arc + Vertical Arc» glitch from 2034 to double my attacking speed.
"This feels so void." I muttered to myself, hoping Yuki or Safu could hear me. "I still couldn't believe I acted like this when I had played MMOs."
That is somewhat understandable.
I twitched at the squeak of the familiar voice.
Yep, her voice was as clear as it was days ago. I was just here to check for a bit. How are things going there?
"I still don't get why you'd bring me to this place." I moaned. "Are you serious on making me stay here… for what… 3 years?"
So how did you get that kind of calculation, Einstein?
It was quite simple, really. If people would dash on each floor around 10 days on average, it would be easy to say that they'll be done… in around 1000 days. That means approximately 3 years' worth, just for finishing a «death game» like this.
Well, all in all, it certainly is a good prediction, I would have pictured her nodding, if I could actually see her. Well, you still have around 10 hours worth of gaming left, so it's all good. We'll be done by tomorrow.
Tomorrow meaning the next day in my own world, I would be done. It sounds like a really, really short time, doesn't it, when in fact, it would essentially mean I will really have to spend 3 years' worth of gaming on some obsolete game in that I have no idea what am I supposed to do. Wait… what really AM I supposed to do?
She's gone, yet again.
The last Vertical slash staggered the «Large Gnome». Stumbling onto the ground, it shattered into thousands of polygons. The pop-up of «Level Up» promptly appeared in front of me, indicating a clear Lv 7, right there. Considering how others have started quite late, it should be quite an accomplishment. However, this kind of victory would be far from over. Because I was battling rather large beasts, the «Durability Points» of my «Anneal Blade» was crumbling to a mere 10%. If I don't somehow farm some «Snarly» soon and start upgrading this weapon, it would be essentially bad.
Yet, as expected, my days continued to be as stale as ever, more or less having only myself to chat all through my farming hours, as late as the dead of night, as there is a rather substiantial percentage it was allocated for farming for the endless «Snarly» within the path before a rather wide cliff, which always seemed to be taken by a couple of twins. With my sword good enough for up to Level 15 or so, I had quickly scouted althroughout the 1st floor, looking for similar designs as I had experienced with several other medieval MMOs. As expected, however, nothing could beat the EXP ratio the «Large Gnomes» had, considering the combos I put up just to beef up my EXP ratio per second.
Every day, I had to thank myself for being hopelessly addicted to these kinds of games - more often addicted enough to warrant a permadeath run. I won't be making any such regrets any time soon, that's for sure. In the end, I'm probably just a hopeless fanboy of these kinds of games. How could such a thing bite me in the end?
Without me noticing, it was in this lonely path that a month had passed by almost too quickly for my eyes to notice it myself. For simplicity's sake, I kept my level as secret as possible, and avoided «Boss Conferences». Like I had promised «Kayaba» (somehow), I would just be a spectator. But what made me put this "promise" to myself? I still have no idea.
As for «Sapphire Controller», who kept on avoiding me whenever I seem to ask about what I am supposed to do… it was as if she was intentionally avoiding me. Is she trying not to lie, somehow? Considering the lies she had fabricated in a day to make me play this game, I'm not so sure anymore. However, Yuki was kind enough to give me a watch list. It wasn't as interesting as I had originally thought, however, since the only list Yuki gave me was a list of «names» and their endgame appearances, which would be essentially useless in this current development.
In the end, one truth remained: nothing can be hidden forever.
[End of Part 1]
I'm really sorry. I know I promised around 1 to 2 weeks per Part (or Chapter) but this particular part took me 23 rewrites. Ugh.