My eyes slowly blinked out. I could still feel the lingering effects of sleepiness in my very soul. Is this something already programmed into the primitive «VRMMO» «Sword Art Online», or is it just something etched between the souls of every living being? Either way, I don't like it. It just means that I can't just camp in enemy territory and expect to be alert when a new monster or Player Killer could spout out. Although, in the 1 month since the very incident, things have gone out extremely easy on me. Heck, even in terms of Levels, all these sudden finds of new «EXP Farms» and «Floor Swarming» is just insane.
How can I put this to words?
In January 4, we've managed to complete «Floor 10», that is, the last of the floors with known beta tester knowledge. While at first, people were a bit terrified at the fact of having to go through the higher floors with zero knowledge, there wasn't any real reason anyway not to go on. After all, they've gone this far, and if they don't push forward they would never leave the game. The new faction, the «Aincrad Liberation Front» seems to be quite a fitful bunch too. They had all the organization, just enough to keep some players from taking stupid risks, unlike that on the «Floor 1», or at least that's what I heard. I already settled to myself not to interfere in any major battles anyway, as a promise I gave to this man, the mastermind behind this entire shambles, Kayaba Akihiko. After all, not only was really there no actual reason to interfere anyway, and if I really did, I always run the risk of changing history and screwing up my own timeline, and, personally, I don't want to deal with that kind of trouble.
In January 9, «Floor 11» was cleared. Then, at January 13, «Floor 12». Racking up the pace like there's no tomorrow, the now ever-increasing frontline continued to accelerate their progress through the floors in an insanely fast timetable, no thanks to the most easily attributed to the one thing a «VRMMO» is often barred on: EXP Farms. Around January 8, one of the ninjas apparently found the «Antler Farm», which I had already found 4 days prior. These non-humanoid «Antlers» are quite high in EXP because of their insanely high attack rates, however, they themselves don't have much of an attack power and should be practically harmless when taken individually. In fact, their EXP was so broken that «Cardinal» had to lower all of its stats by the time 10 days had past, but it was already too late. By the time «Cardinal» fixed the "bug", I was already at Level 25, while others could easily have been at similar levels, including the main front-liners, «Kirito» and «Asuna». In fact, by the time the Power Leveling ended, we were much as easily walking on Floor 21 at Level 40+, which was quite a real eye-opener for many, who suddenly saw the potential to actually get on and level up, hoping to catch up to the front-lines.
But of all the things in the world, what I have always hated the most…
It was a bug.
My groggy "self-meditation" crumbled under the holy power of Lizbeth's words.
『Chapter 4: An Anomalous Program』
"Let me guess, are you in Floor 23 again?!"
I always kinda knew in my heart that she would turn out to be such an annoying girl, but today, even I am surprised how annoying her words really are right now.
"Well," I heaved an inevitable sigh. "A nice long rest should be stellar every once in a while. Well, I have to admit that simply farming and finding these stealthy EXP farms are quite a real pain in the neck."
"Well, come over here, then! I'll be waiting at Floor 3." She commanded, with a rather stern voice. "You're probably already bored with all of that training right? Do you EVER take a break?"
"W-Well I do," I chiseled out of my usual routine and stretched my arms; I felt like my short complaint about my life here has been utterly ignored. Even though I don't feel anything indicating fatigue, I do feel my mind getting a bit tired from the monotonous routine. "I should be there in around 15 minutes."
My groggy hands, on instinct, waved and slashed over an incoming «Ant». If it hit me, I would have been dealt a really annoying «Ant Poison» debuff which would give me an odd sensation of numbness, particularly on the part hit by that ant. It became extremely annoying with a numbed area that's essentially useless, with many of the usual skills essentially undoable with a numb hand, for example.
"Oi, oi, oi, you're still «Power Leveling» aren't you?!"
"No," I shook my head. "It's just an instinct reaction."
"Well then, just come over here!"
Normally by this time, I'd just plain ignore that rather annoying girl and continue on monotonously slashing ants without a care in the world (I've been so used to these moments in MMOs that I never die even if my enemy had the capability of OHKOing me, but then again, this is «Lizbeth» we're talking about. This girl's apparently some kind of VIP that I must protect from some guy who went to the past or something to ruin my timeline. Ah, as I narrated to myself my situation at the very moment, I felt a sense of helplessness in this ridiculous situation, which I have no idea what's really going on. Like some kind of bystander in the middle of a crossfire, I felt like I simply chose a side out of the mere fact that this girl, «Sapphire Controller» came to me first. What would have happened if there was a different outcome: if this person trying to change the timeline was the one who first approached me, and asked for my help? Would it change a lot?
Moving on to things at hand, I had packed my things, 5 minutes right before the meet-up time. Perfect! I can't seem to think of anything right now, except, well, just «Leveling Up»; It's been that way ever since I got into «VRMMOs». Every time I'd indefinitely «dive» into a VRMMO I'd go on for hours full of farming, monotonously beating down on everything until «Cardinal» fixes the EXP values, after which I'd go on hunting for another and continue. But it's a bit different here. With «SAO», I could now go on for weeks without taking much of a break except for the obligatory food breaks. After all, mental hunger still exists, and it seems that this game supports such. I would merely sleep for 4 hours before waking up 6 AM in the morning and continue. Who wouldn't feel empty after 2 days just doing it? Yes, it could be a bit dangerous to be associating myself with her, but I guess it's better than losing my mind over power leveling. I know for a fact that I shouldn't be involved personally, but, so far, my encounter with Liz hasn't changed the timeline at all, so I guess it should be fine. I know there was a theory regarding this, I just can't put my finger on it…
"Ah, ah," I feinted boredom; in spite of feeling empty, I still enjoy all the mindless farming. "I think I'll go there and see something different for once."
I reluctantly stood up, and took a step back to town, thoughts of home gave me another sigh. I wonder what's happening back in the future? (I find it sarcastic how I use the word "future" as a place now.) I really hope «Kuroyukihime-sempai» isn't worrying about me so much; after all, if my thoughts and brain process is being accelerated a million times, even 3 years worth shouldn't be too taxing back in real life, right?
The thickening forest is really annoying, but otherwise, except for that really secluded place near the south-western edge, the entire floor remains quite a relatively peaceful place. There are too few, if not any, of the common mobs in the lower floors, and, not to mention, the entire place is riddled with lakes and ponds and forests; it's pretty amazing how you'd wonder how the water isn't leaking to the lower floors Either way, 10 minutes before I would reach the wooden rugged town, where the «teleport portal» to the lower floors resides, and I still felt almost certainly lost in this thick, never-ending forest, full of humungous maple trees (or are they pine trees? I really can't tell the difference), stretching almost half into the ceiling. Overall, a picture-perfect site for a camping floor.
"I wonder why Liz would invite me over though," I scratched my head, my voice echoing through the vast forest. "I don't think she is that kind of person to just invite people over without much reason."
Haru… a nearly robotic voice pierced through my ears, or at least that's what I relatively hear, since for most people that would be a human-like voice. Being just a whisper in the whistling wind, I caught its voice as clear as day. My head twirled, swiveled, looking for what only seems to be the endless stack of green sticks in the clear daylight.
Surely, no one was there. How could I not? I could easily distinguish any player, just from that player's green (or orange) indicator, while an NPC would have a name. But instead, only trees covered my view. Well, it he were hiding in the trees, I wouldn't see the indicator or the name, but considering the clarity of the voice, I shouldn't be able to hear it off the echo of a tree.
Haru… the voice resounded in my ears.
"Oi, «Sapphire Controller», i-if it's you I really don't like it." My voice quivered yet managed to squee in. "I-I am ABSOLUTELY horrible at horror movies, y-you know?!"
Haru, come and play with me… the unfamiliar eerie voice sent sparks flying through my skin.
Without a doubt, I lost any sight of reason. My feet swiftly stepped on the ground, and rocketed, pointing to the reflex direction my panicked head pointed to. As my feet dashed off with «Sprint», fleeing through the dense forest, I felt the occasional curiosity on actually looking back on that thing that I ran away from without a single thought, but her voice – it echoed and echoed through my mind with an outrageous sense of panic, as if to haunt me. I could feel my feet, trying to crush me if I even took a step back or lunge backwards, or even look back into my back. Yes, I know it's a bit embarrassing, but if it's anything that I'm really scared of, it's really these odd horror stories. Honestly, just recalling the thought sent shivers down my spine.
Minutes passed. Still in a panic, my eyes, straight ahead, sighted the wooden logs of the town proper. I could feel a sense of relief just at the sight on the mundane wooden logs, but my racing, beating heart still pushed me to egg on. As my feet stepped foot on the open flat grass-less ground, my legs almost collapsed; the feeling of safety slowly enveloped my soul, but along with it, a seemingly never-ending fatigue, which my body only remembered just now. I looked back at the dense forest behind me: The wind blew, like the gust from an eagle's wings, rustling with the thick forest leaves; and finally, I felt a relieving sensation, the feeling of certainty.
"I really hope that was just my imagination," I muttered to myself, huffing with a short breath. "I-I mean it was just my imagination, right?"
My memories are quite a fragile thing. Or at least, that's what I think. Whenever I try to recall something that happened in «real life», meaning that from 2040+, I can still vividly remember most of the details, as in when «Kuroyukihime-sempai» and I discussed how we had to deal with «Sapphire Controller» or my actual life as a «Burst Linker». However, the memories I have of everything that's transpiring in this "past" «MMO» is a little bit fragile, in that often tend to forget many trivial details about this game. Maybe it's just a real side-effect from whatever that girl is using in order to actually make this phenomenon possible. But that's really the thing, I don't really get how «time travel» works anyway? Why use «Brain Burst» anyway? Why even both with all the trivialities of getting me and using me to participate in this «death game»? Even more so, why didn't she just went herself? I have a feeling that I won't get the answers for any of those anytime soon… Now what's it got to do with the dilemma I'm currently facing? Well, for starters, I seemed to have forgotten that voice I heard. Every time I tried to remember it myself, I … just can't remember, as if that memory never existed. Even if I panicked and ran away, consciously or unconsciously (or even whether I like it or not) I should be able remember such recent memories? Instead, I get a blank answer.
A familiar ring caught my attention.
I want to sleep.
I just want to rest and all everything a day.
"I almost forgot about it…" I almost remembered the last conversation we had. "I was supposed to meet Liz at Floor 3. Well, I could do just that, so might as well…"
Again the feeling of uncertainty crept into my mind. Somehow I'm doing something wrong, my gut told me something bad was going to happen, yet, I shrugged it off as my own imagination. That being said, to which end does the impossible become real, and when does fiction become fact, I felt that I was just about to learn that sooner than I thought. Yet, in my conscious mind, I just couldn't accept such a thing. I myself have faced countless of moments of despair, and shut myself in misery, but as I have always done, since I got «Brain Burst», I had the courage to stand up. But, when I think about it, I was quite considerably «tired» seconds ago, but I guess all that "negative-positive thinking" got me felt a bit refreshed just now. I figured since this would be some kind of past MMO they'd have less complicated systems; the «fatigue system» of «Sword Art Online» can be rather bonked at times. I almost giggled to myself; maybe if the system were just as realistic as «Brain Burst», I should be dead by now.
My nearly crippling feet took a step into the marble stone pavement, probably the only few in the entire floor, save the dungeon entrance. Ah, I almost forgot where I was supposed to go to, the city on the 2nd floor, I guess. The voice seeped right out of my mouth.
A sky blue light flashed before my eyes; a bolt of caution filled my spine, just as I materialized right at the transport gate. A certain girl's fist hit the wind.
"Eh… you can actually dodge, huh?"
Half-hearted and a bit sarcastic, I laughed with a fake smile.
"My apologies!" I bowed, as if I was begging for my life. "I al-"
Oops, I almost hit a land mine there.
"No worries," she smiled back at me. "I figured it would take time for you to get back here, so I already had the plan just in case you'd take a while."
My mind just felt speechless with that witting retort. Still quite shocked on the sudden intrusion, as swift as a dashing motorcycle, she just stole my hand and strolled down the rather busy streets. I felt nothing as people continued to stare at the rare sight of a girl being dragged over by a boy over the 2nd floor town like a cart in a supermarket. Perhaps a bit of, "I wish I never knew this girl", or "Maybe I should just escape from here and pretend nothing happened today", or most likely, "I'm doing this for the future, so bear with it, not that I care being dragged down by a girl; it's like how Kuroyukihime-sempai continues to drag me down, I guess."
"Well don't just stand there," Liz pouted. "Walk, lazybones!"
Without realizing it, I had been dragged down, not just through a couple of blocks down the road, but almost through the entire town by some brown-haired somewhat-speckled girl with a knack for being way more aggressive than a «Boar».
"Anyways," Liz sighed as we strolled through the town, me roughly following her footsteps. "Do you ever get tired just doing that for 3 days straight? "
"Well," I scratched my head. "If you think about it, well, isn't it proper that we Level Up as much as we can, if we want to finish this as quickly as possible?"
Talking to people around here makes my head ache. Particularly because I always need to avoid getting the impression that I'm not from this timeline, nor that I have any actual body to get killed by that brain-frying pan. That being said, I'm usually not in the mood to talk to anyone; I mean, doesn't the "I haven't ever actually took major part on most of the frontline battles." ever ring a bell to these idiots? Even if this «Aincrad Liberation Front» and the other front-liners, always taking extra precaution simply to avoid dying and strong as ever, blowing my proportions of common standard MMO practice out of the water, they actually aren't that special. In fact, if anything, I notice how this game, compared to all the other «VRMMOs» I experienced, is quite forgiving so far. However, considering this isn't just some kind of simple game, I can never call any of this fair.
"Well, yeah, you do have a point," her face pouted for a short brief moment. "But, I really don't think we'll be able to get out of here anytime soon. We're still at «Floor 23» after all."
"Ah," I lifted a finger. "But you do realize that the boss of «Floor 23» was already found, you know? In fact, the guys at «ALF» have already devised a strategy for the floor boss. It's rather amazing how fast those guys are getting now."
"You're right," she smiled. "But, you've got to be careful out there. I mean, you can't rely on those shady guys forever. I call them shady because some of the particular members there are always picky about who they fight against. It's a shame…"
It's probably that incident at the «Floor 1», no doubt. That stupid guy, taking the scapegoat for all the «Beta Testers» was comparatively courageous, but it'll just make his fares harder. Well, I'll just summarize what happened that day. Some guy wanted to get the «LA» (Last Attack) on the boss in order to get the 100% rare unique drop, and stupidly failed, because they didn't even bother doing «scouts» even when it was obvious that there would be differences between the «beta test» and the actual thing; leaving Kirito and Asuna to kill the boss for good. The problem was, there were people who still took the blame on «beta testers» for their stupidity. So what does he do? Take all the blame and have the term «beater» (That is cheater + beta tester) created. A "good plan" in theory, but I felt like there were a bit of flaws with the concept…
"I'm particular about their methods," I replied with a surprisingly straight face. "We're at «Floor 23», well within 13 floors above the beta test finish; everyone is in the dark anyway, and only guys who don't want to clear this «death game» would keep information for themselves."
"That's the thing I worry the most," she turned a corner, only to stop at front door of a «Cake Shop», 2 meters right from the corner. "I worry there ARE people who want to stay here forever."
"That being said," Liz smiled. "We're here!"
"Here for what, exactly?" I scratched my head.
She entered that shop like some kind of championship winner, puffed her chest, and turned around. Her ridiculous giddy dancing felt like I was a back cargo of a 5-star cruiser: dead weight, only serving to serve this Princess. The shop itself isn't too bad. Apart from the otherwise dense forest of the 3rd floor and the unsurprisingly brazen wooden aura of this particular city, this particular «Cake Shop» is quite famous, even among those staying at the «Starting City». Sure, most of them still aren't even stepping out on fears that he/she will die, but, at the price of 300 col, which is, by the way, the col you get by smiting a total of 5 Level 1 «Boars», you get a satisfying dessert worth the heads of a hundred Boars.
"Well," she turned aside. "I'll introduce you to the members of my new guild!"
"Wait…" I might have took those words a bit too late. "You're going to what?"
"Oh and I almost forgot," Liz snickered. "You're joining with me."
Oi, oi, I haven't even heard anything about this. Have I already changed the timeline so much? Am I even going back to my world, my timeline? Really, «Sapphire Controller», getting me into this mess without even a guide; what was she thinking? A little help here would be nice, sigh.
"Uh," I know I can't refuse that. "Wh-what?"
"Well," Liz opened her mouth. "As you can see, we're only five members. But it should be enough right?"
I glanced the eyes of her so-called other members; well, when you combine them with Liz, who totally looks like a speckled girl out of the shy box, we would definitely look like a bunch of high school student cosplayers with swords and partisans in their backs, with dull blue colored suits with dirt brown leather breastplate of some sorts that makes us look like we're some sort of spiffy mob.
"You want to recruit me into some guild of total strangers," my head dropped. "As expected of you, I guess."
"Allow us to introduce ourselves."
Three other guys at the back glanced at Liz' convenient handshake, and took the initiative to hand wave Liz's chatty monologue, and stood up from their stools. I tried hard not to instead stare at their pale-white wooden table, which was filled with royal tea and conspicuously fancy red-laced cakes, with white daisies at the center.
"Well, let's just say we, along with Liz, know each other in «Real Life». We're her classmates back on your grade school days." The short-head rallied his voice in a clear yet steady-slow gesture. "You can call me «Raki»."
Raki. Even if this game didn't allow you to put hiragana or katakana in the game (or at least, that's what I see from the different names I've seen popping out so far), its name does, in fact, mimic something that would be better written in katakana, and does strike a bit of a curious chord in me. Lackey? Lucky?
"Well, you heard the guy." The rather thin-poised boy coughed and cleared his throat. "«Lynx» here. It's pronounced Li-n-ku-zu, by the way."
Ah, I wish I had access to the «Neuro Gear» interface right now, just so that I could search the meaning of that name. Back in «Brain Burst», I can't access the «Neuro Gear» interface, along with messages and internet search functions for the obvious reason, obviously: you can't access most of those functions, especially with your brain functions at, at the very least, 10,000 times speed. In here, add the mere fact that we're time travelling at a further accelerated speed kind of supports that particular argument better, does it not?
The last guy closed his eyes, right before opening his mouth. Like a ninja, he swished his hand through the red-laced white-chocolate cake I had been trying to avoid staring at and chugged it in his mouth.
"Umm, I'm «Hibiki»!" he squeaked out with a pale voice. "Let's work together from now on!"
"Well, there you go." Lizbeth snickered. "Happy now? Just sign the thing and let's get on it."
Heh, she's as pushy as ever.
The unfamiliar sign flashed through my eyes (screen).
[Guild «Silver Stars» invites you. Would you like to accept?]
"Well, that's actually a pretty nice name." I will try to at least hold onto my breath, trying to not freak out on the concept of joining a guild in this time. "I honestly don't see why not…"
I stared blank at the notification window, held the button, and my breath.
[Accepted. Welcome to the «Silver Stars»!]
Hopefully, by joining this rucksack guild of (somehow) decently level-upp'd players, I'd be able to hold more ground, especially as the story of «Sword Art Online» unfolds before my eyes. There are various reasons I'd want to join a guild other than «Liz's connections»; first, it at least gives me some leverage into the raid teams right now, especially the «Aincrad Liberation Front», which is a really massive guild right now. Second, it doesn't really change how I will do what I do, except that Liz will probably be able to see to my location and maybe power-level on the same pace as me, but then again, it goes to anyone who's in my «Friend List» right now. Third, it seems that nothing happened as soon as I accepted that guild request. I've seen way too many anime and MMO quest to know how it normally worked: join something unnecessary in a time paradox quest and something bad is bound to happen. Instead though, nothing happened. Well, I was expecting some static noise, and whatnot, but, unusually, nothing happened. Could it be that I was actually meant to click on that «Yes» button, join the guild, and make friends with Liz, and consequently, all the other frontliners? I don't really feel like answering those questions anytime soon; I might just regret asking.
"Thanks a bunch!" Liz's glee reached the stratosphere. "Well, now that's everyone!"
"Everyone huh," I tried to fake out a smile. "A guild like this… its members aren't even the size of a party. Oh well, thanks for the invitation, Liz, now I think I'll go back to my hole and lynch some more mobs for more EXP."
Slowly, my feet stepped backwards, trying to reach the door.
"Oi, oi," Liz grabbed my shirt without the slightest hesitation. "Oh c'mon «Haru», you aren't even going to invite us to some Floor 10 dungeon? Cheapskate."
"I-I still feel that it's still a bit dangerous for you guys, I mean, you're all at the «Lv 20» range right?" I totally need an alibi right now, or else I'm going to be stuck with the bunch for the rest of the day, probably doing nothing except to get a mediocre amount of dungeon spoils and Col. "I mean, do any of you even have «Rare weapons»? It would be nice if we could go to a higher floor like Floor 15 or so, but I feel that it's way too dangerous, even for you. I don't want a head on my conscience, you know!"
Yes, judging from their looks, it seems that I've already somehow scared off two of the members. Only «Lynx» and «Liz» remained. I should keep up with the reasonable strides.
"Well, I'm sorry for not being on a frontliner level like you, «Haru»," Liz frowned. "I don't even think I met someone who simply walked around with a high level yet stayed away from the floor raids like you, «Haru»… What are you even pushing yourself for? Are you really just wasting everyone's time by not helping out?"
"Using the ad hominem, huh, Liz…" I smirked. "Well I don't blame you; I know my resources are better off if I'm constantly being in floor raids, but mind you, I do have some contribution to the frontlines, you know! For one, I'm usually with the dungeon entrance raids, especially now, with the bosses being quite comparable to the «Floor 5» bosses, which are sometimes tricky to beat. Second, I also help, especially with scouting the map. You know very well how the Floor 20 and above maps now have secret rooms that spawn humungous amounts of mobs, and, often, have «Anti-Crystal Measures» built-in. You'd need to have a high level, not to mention trap detections skills and map traverse skills, in order to do that; not even the main clearing team right now does all of those by themselves, you know!"
"Well, «Liz», you shouldn't don't bully him that much," Lynx went ahead and spoke up. "It's true that we don't have much experience when it comes to the frontline culture and skills, but, considering how «Liz» went ahead to recruit you, you should know very well how we wanted to move up into the frontlines and help out. The very reason «Liz» wanted you was for that reason. I know it's rather silly, and dangerous, but, with our situation, it'll at least take us 4 years to clear this death game, and who knows what danger lies ahead, or how many more will die. I would rather die myself than to do nothing or slack off. If that 4 years could become 3, I'll take my chances."
I've been defeated.
"Alright, you win." I sighed. "But well, if we're going to a dungeon, let me remind you to always stick in formation, and don't do anything stupid. If things go bad, don't hesitate to use Crystals to return to the town. Lastly, don't hesitate to go on without me. I've handled many things as a «Solo Player», so I can do everything just fine."
"Well then," I smiled. "Shall we go? Our first guild raid, that is."
We stepped out into the open air.
Instead, I felt a tingling sensation.
That tingling sensation turned into a wrecking ball of pain.
I felt my voice as bleak as a mouse. My static hands couldn't get a hold on the ground, neither my eyes could get a hold of the entire landscape, which had changed into a red inferno of triangles. «Lizbeth» was gone, or at least, that's what it felt like. It definitely didn't feel like any kind of pain that I've endured so far, not even in «Brain Burst». This kind of pain can only be done by literally setting your body on fire. In other words, whoever this did wanted to torture me.
"The time has come to end this pitiful façade." The voice of a girl echoed of what seems to be a system announcement. "Your so-called mastermind «Kayaba Akihiko»? I've already killed him. You'll suffer his same fate. Goodbye humans."
I should have bit my tongue back there, but now I felt nothing but this unending writhing pain. Ah, I've failed: I knew I shouldn't have involved myself with Lizbeth over there, now the timeline's going to be doomed by some AI over this VRMMO who apparently gained enough access, much like an administrator. Ah, I'm already losing consciousness. Human minds aren't really designed to endure such kind of pain for so long, after all. I find it kind of funny how all the pain I've experienced so far, the feeling of being slashed in half, or cut an arm, can never compare to this feeling of being burned alive. Is it really the time to be funny right now? I can still somehow see through the fiery triangular-ish flames, the divergence meter, centered right on the right-corner of my sight.
I can't believe it.
This is actually what happens when you exceed 10%? I haven't even noticed anything, not anything at all. In these past 2 or so months I've felt nothing, nothing like that when I felt when I was trying to rescue Lizbeth, the feeling of static fever, the feeling of things happening the way as if they had already happened. Nothing to suggest anything for such a disaster. I don't get it. Did I really hit a land mine somewhere? Was I such a foolish man to have involved myself so much? Ah, I could already hear in my head how disappointed «Kuroyukihime-sempai» must be. There isn't enough words to describe how foolish I was. Was I supposed to run away back then?
Back then… I should have…
Back then… I…
My mind felt blank, as I heard the crashing glass, piercing through my ears.
[End of Part 1]
And done for Part 1 huh. It's a bit long edged, and I know you might say "Well, derp, a cliffhanger ending." But it's really hard to get the sticks glued especially with some of the details still unclear. (Goddamn no Progressive translations yet.)
You could see how it took more than enough months… now to work on actually writing the other Parts. That feeling when you already have the skeleton written out but the details… It's frustracious.