Duo of Darkness

As you may know both my current stories are on hiatus because I can't come up with what to write, but I still want to write so I'll start writing this story and possibly delete it at a later date if it goes terribly.

In some places I will make the reasonable assumption that the reader has watched the anime or read the light novel, if you haven't, dafuq are you doing reading SAO fanfics?

Unlike my other stories I have chose to do away with chapter names because they just give spoilers, though in some cases I may still use them if I forget or there is some reason.

I think I have problem where I write author's notes that are too long.

The 'main character' is an OC, but Kirito and other canon characters are still important (especially Kirito).

Whether or not this story continues to ALO or further depends on two things: Whether I can write it, and whether people read it.

For reading all this, you get a cookie. (A virtual one of course, I don't have any cookies, claim your intangible cookie with a review.)

The OC won't be a coward and—I know this isn't realistic—isn't going to panic in the slightest when something like the Death Game announcement happens.

This story will be ALMOST entirely first person through my main characters eyes. Please read this anyway those of you who don't like first person because on my other story I got review(s?) saying that when I switched to first person I had butchered the story like some others (don't know who) but turned out as an improvement.

This story—and all future ones—I will attempt to remove the remaining grammar mistakes I make. For example, I always end sentences in quotes with a period, even when I have the 'he said' after, so those will be replaced with commas. That kind of thing. The reason for this is my sister text-scolded me for my mistakes when I asked her for some help, and since she got an A in EXPO Writing in Harvard, I think I should listen to her on this.

Well anyway, after 300 words of author's notes, let's get started.


(1st person, Jun, 2022, November 6th, 5:30pm)

"Last but not least, I've placed a little present in the item storage of every player, please have a look."

As Kayaba finished his announcement I swiped with my fingers pinched together on my right hand to open my menu and tapped the inventory button. Scrolling through the few items currently there I looking for anything new. The new item was an item called [Hand Mirror] and I pressed the materialize button.

The menu disappeared and in my hand appeared a small rectangular mirror with a brown metal edge. A brief moment later I am surrounded by a very bright blue light, but unlike with a teleport, this prevents me from seeing anything, including my own body.

The light clears and a few strands of long white hair fall in my face. Wait... white?! My avatar's hair is dark blue, not white, and it's not this long either.

I look in the mirror and see a girl entirely different from my avatar, in fact, I see my own face.

And for that matter, I'm also several inches shorter and a lot, lot paler. My real height. My real skin color. Everything about this new avatar is like my real body. Except the lack of scratch on my hand...

The face it could get from the high power scanner, it should easily be able to get every detail of peoples faces, to a higher resolution then the game can render. But what about my height? And proportions and such.

[Flashback start]

"Please pat yourself down to calibrate the NerveGear and ensure that movement feels natural," spoke the mechanical, vaguely female voice, or maybe it was projected directly into my hearing nerves and not from speakers which the NerveGear has no reason to have.

[Flashback end]

Oh yeah, that, I had forgotten because I did it before the Beta test which was a little while ago.

People around me, still in shock, started dropping their mirrors. Shattering could be heard all around of two types, the shattering of any object's, mob's, or player's life running out, and the shattering of glass from the mirrors breaking. The two sounded almost the same but the sound for something's life running out was likely derived from a different kind of glass breaking and thus they were different.

I put the mirror back into my inventory—because I generally don't like breaking things, even useless objects in games—by opening my menu, tapping the 'Dematerialize' button and then tapping on the mirror. Its surface blurred as if it was vibrating very fast and then it turned into rapidly dispersing, outwards moving, blue flames that vanished a moment later.

"But... but why? Why is he doing all this?" asked some player nearby, whether he was asking a specific person or rhetorically someone answered "I'm sure he'll tell us in a moment."

Using the silence that was probably short lasting I looked around and saw two things about the average population, one is that the number of girls has dropped from nearly a quarter to only about 5%, and the other is that people looked a lot less like someones ideal and like normal humans. While the second one is to be expected, what kind of weirdo pretends to be a girl despite being a guy in this kind of game, though I'm sorry for them now because we still have our made up names, which they probably had girls names, and as far as I know, in the Beta test there is no way to change that.

Then Kayaba spoke "I'm sure some of you are wondering "Why?" Why would Kayaba Akihiko, the creator of NerveGear and Sword Art Online-"

Nice place to brag...

"-do this? Is this some sort of terrorist attack? The answer is that my reason for doing this was to create this situation."

Totally helps, WHY would you want to create this situation though?

"That concludes the tutorial of the official Sword Art Online launch and I wish you good luck as you clear the game."

If you really wished us well you wouldn't create this world in the first place, right? Just me? Okay...

The barrier surrounding us dropped, we should be able to leave now.

Time to get out of here before panic starts.

With that a started to run from the plaza. No friends can be a lonely sometimes, but right now, not having friends is probably what will keep me alive, at least until everybody comes to their sense.

As I ran from the plaza I saw a pair of people running, or rather, I saw a black haired boy dragging along a redhead who looked a lot like someone I had seen earlier with Kirito from the Beta test, which would make the boy Kirito. Teaming up with him might not be a bad idea...

They went into an alley and the footsteps stopped.

He sure as hell knows how to use a sword, but he is too...

The redhead came out of the alley and started walking back in the direction of the plaza, why would he do that? Oh, right, friends.

Well if I want to team up with Kirito now would be as good a time as any.

I run into the alley where they were to find that Kirito was gone already. Following him would be hopeless given which path he chose, I had gotten lost in these alleys before, finding someone in them would be next to impossible.

(Did you think I would make them team up right at the start? Got ya! I considered it but decided to not do it, unlike my previous story.)

I took off down the road at a run, in this world I could run practically as long as I wanted as long as I didn't think about it, since the only fatigue was mental.

I had gotten to level 3.7 before the announcement, making me probably one of the highest leveled players, which is irrelevant in this case, what is relevant is that for each of those levels I got ten [Attribute Points]—plus 2 points in each Attribute—of which I put most of in [DEX] (speed and accuracy), in the Beta I put 3 or 4 in [STR] (Obvious) and everything else in [DEX] for every level, entirely disregarding [VIT] (HP, damage resistance) because it effected what happens to you when you get hit... and I don't get hit. Not literally of course, but my style involved dodging and occasionally blocking my enemies strikes, with the 'two points into everything' you get every level being enough to ensure that I don't die in one or two hits.

This time however I decided to put only 2.5 in [STR] to start with—meaning I alternated being 2 and 3 every level—and the rest into [DEX] to start with and then somewhat increase the strength later because I felt I had enough skill to get comparable DPS out of it and it would make dodging easier at the cost of blocking, but since I was better at the former anyway that was a good thing.

[DEX] also had the nice perk of improving your accuracy with throwing weapons and increasing your run speed, both of which—mostly the latter—were extremely useful. The reason I put anything into [STR] is because A: I prefer long swords to daggers which is what a pure [DEX] build has to rely on, and B: [STR] increases the total max 'mass' of your inventory, which is basically inventory space. The way inventory works in SAO you get infinite—or maybe there is just a limit I never managed to reach, like 9.223372 * 10^18 (yes I remember that kind of stuff) (Though the author doesn't, I just googled it. The maximum value of a 64-bit integer for those of you who don't do that kind of stuff. And yes, in 6 years it will not be 128-bit because that isn't useful until your computer was 2^64 bits of RAM (That's 17179869184 GB of RAM), and that isn't happening for at least 50 years even at the current rate, and the NerveGear isn't a quantum computer(I know nothing about those)) items or something—slots and the max you can carry is based on the weight of the items.

(Tell me if I should break up this kind of blocks, and whether I should even have this in the middle of the chapter mini-notes?)

Anyway, all that put together made me likely the fastest player in the game because I'm likely one of the very few who reached level 3 and the only other person who probably did is Kirito who has a much more [STR] build.

Even someone who put all their points into [DEX] at level 2 would have a total of 22 [DEX], I have 26 [DEX]. It also depends on your running technique and how fast you are used to running because, in the end, your brain is still behind the wheel and it is used to running some way.

Thankfully I was all good on that front since I rather liked, well, running... Okay maybe I started a little into the Beta test to be faster there, but same difference, I was alway athletic anyway. How do I have time for being a nerd and being athletic? I sacrificed my social life to the time gods (translates to I have no friends) and since I live alone I have my own schedule.

I had people basically lining up to be my friends, but I didn't want to be their friend. Most of them were guys...

(Back to story)

I crossed through the city gate and the invisible-at-a-distance, light-blue barrier and the edges of my vision briefly flashed red and a warning message appeared at the top of my vision saying WARNING: You are leaving a Safe Zone, monsters may be present and your HP can be depleted. Underneath was a timer counting down from 3.0, the timer reached zero and the message disappeared.

Despite this being a death game I decided to be impatient and instead of following the path to the next village, I decided to head there in a straight line.

That meant I would would fight way more monsters, but also had the plus of me getting there faster, and thus giving myself more of a head start on any competition. In this case, Kirito and any other skilled Beta testers that come to their sense. Other then Argo, she was skilled in a different way, the perverted rat.

It was winter so Aincrad's setting sun could be seen through the several hundred meter gap between this floor and the next. Aincrad had no walls, though from the outside—seen only through SAO promotional pictures, there was no real way to get there that I knew of—it looked to have walls because of how wide it was so from the angle of the picture you couldn't see the sky on the other side and because the floors were thicker then the gap between.

I ran by another boar, dodging next to it an bisecting it with a horizontal swipe sword skill [Horizontal], as I executed the sword skills I also moved with it instead of letting the system do all the work because the system rewards execution of sword skills, reducing the the freeze time after. With this very low-level skill and my perfect execution of it the freeze was over before I needed to make my next step, this didn't mean that I could use the sword skill again because with my low level [One-Handed Longsword] skill the cooldown was still long.

I tended to avoid combo skills and stick to simple, customizable ones like [Slash] and [Jab] which were very versatile and made in a way where you could make a combo out of them and then they would cooldown after that, but they weren't available yet so I used the simple [Horizontal], [Vertical], and [Slant] which were available to me. All of those had their customizability limited at their slight position and which side you start them from.

These boars were harmless even to a level 1 player as long as they knew how to play, so I was still completely safe.

The dangerous part came when I reached the lightly forested area where my mobility would be limited and wolves would show up, individually wolves were stronger then boars, though not by much, but they went in packs and could call reinforcements so they could be dangerous. The key to fighting them if you didn't have a torch with which you could scare them away and not fight was to not get surrounded and find a place where the trees force them to move in a few wolf wide line, limiting your problem to fighting several wolves a bunch of times instead of a bunch of wolves, making it easier.

I ran through the plains, slaying the boars for experience and reached the forest in about half an hour.

Immediately I could hear wolves following me, even with my [DEX] I wouldn't outrun them without getting lucky.

Judging by their footsteps this pack had been weakened because there wasn't nearly enough wolves, I guess I'm lucky sometimes—the Beta entry, unlike what players are led to believe, was merit based with the top thousand players based on some standards as the testers, meaning that the best gamers or sword fighters in Japan (and a few from other countries) were the Beta testers—after all.

I glanced behind me and saw them slowly gaining, but with the number of them there I could take them on if I'm careful.

They can't climb trees, I can, so I can use that to me advantage.

Looking around I see a tree that has a branch low enough that by kicking off of the tree using my momentum—wall jumping, kinda...—I would be able to reach it without slowing down, it was also low enough that if they tried to jump up to me they would almost reach, getting in range of my amazing [Steel Longsword]—which is the second worst long sword in the game—and leading to free kills.

Kicked against the tree, noticing for the first time that Kayaba added some pain back—which I guess was a good thing because it meant you would not notice an injury—when my foot hit the tree, even in my nice boots it still hurt a bit.

I pushed up and converted my horizontal speed into vertical—granted, inefficiently, but well enough—and ran a few steps up the tree, kicking off and landing on the target branch. I drew my sword and spun round, with a [Slant] which I dragged out so that I turned a full 180° turn, hitting two of the wolves which had jumped at me in the face and killing them. At this level most things died in one good hit, except the player, which took 2 or 3.

The wolves were all trying to get as close as possible, bunching up directly under me. They jumped sometimes but they didn't seem to be able to jump into my reach without a running start. My options were to either jump down and fight or try to get out of the forest by running along the branches.

In the Beta it would have been more of a choice, but in this case I decided to go for the 'run' route because my life was on the line and I wasn't interested in being the first player to die.

I sheathed my sword and squatted down, then jumped to the next branch in the right direction. I made the jump and barely made it, catching it with my hands, thank god I put so many points into [DEX].

Putting my skills from my few years in gymnastics I used the branch as a bar and swung forward, letting go at the right moment and flinging my self in the right direction.

This maneuver combined with just jumping between branches allowed me to get through the forest without touching the ground anymore and at rather high speed.

"Well, that was fun, somewhat," I said to myself.

Now that I was out of the forest it was pretty much a straight shot to [Horunka], the village I—and probably every other Beta tester with half decent skills soon—are heading to.

The only thing in the way are some more boars, though they are stronger then the ones at the [Town of Beginnings] because they are boars they are straight line charging enemies with no special moves, making them easy regardless of their stats.

Unlike the blue boars at the start these ones are red, otherwise they are fairly similar visually.

What made these somewhat more dangerous then the other boars for most players is that a single good hit will kill a player at around this level unless they focus entirely on [VIT], for me this wasn't a really big problem because even if I do get hit, it will be by no means a clean hit as I would be either partially out of the way or blocking, and I've only been hit by a boar once, and that was the first time I fought one.

One directly ahead of me charged so I side-stepped to the side and activated [Vertical] with the perfect timing to cut its head clean off, obviously insta-killing it.

This process continued for a while longer as I ran towards the town. There was no need to try to level up here, [Little Nepents] were much better for that anyway and I wanted to hurry and get the [Anneal Blade] and get rid of this junk called a steel 'sword.'


(8:40pm)

During the Beta the rather long distances and 24 days increased the immersion, but now I'd rather the first one not exist. It had taken me about two hours to get here, which was much longer then I preferred as the next part required something called luck, which I had not all that much of. I walked through the relatively small town to find the house where the [Secret Medicine of the of the Forest] quest is started to get my [Anneal Blade].

The house was slightly worn down and near the edge of town and the door was slightly open, this quest was hidden in a way because people aren't used to walking into random houses. I noticed that the house was slightly more worn down then in the Beta.

I walked into the house and saw a women in the kitchen cooking something in a large pot.

The unrealistically kind women saw me and said "Have a seat, I'd offer you some food but there is nothing to eat. You can have some water if you like."

I sat down and accepted the water, then went through the dialogue which doesn't make much sense in the realism department and set off to find a [Little Nepent] ovule to complete the quest and get myself the [Anneal Blade].

The forest where the [Little Nepents] were located was right next to the village, on the edge that this house was located on.

Setting off in that direction at a jog I went into the forest.

The [Little Nepents] were sentient plants and as such blended into the forest rather well. They had large, blobish bodies and moved on a bunch of roots/vines. They had a small green blob as a head which took increased damage as well. On the top of their 'head' they either had nothing, the flower I'm after, or a fruit which when slashed attracts all the [Little Nepents] in a few kilometers.

Of these the rarest of these is the flower one because after a bit the flower slowly turns into the fruit while the majority of them had nothing.

I saw my first nepent, though sadly it had no flower.

Against these nepents a speed build like mine was far better then a strength build because they would block with their roots which were very difficult to cut through and hit very hard so it would be very difficult to block, but if you do manage to hit them on the main body they die very easily, meaning that a speed build has an easy time. I ran forward with my sword to the side and jumped onto the root that it lashed out with, running along it.

As soon as I was in range I activated [Horizontal] and cut through the nepent at its thinest point, near the roots. The nepent was cut nearly in half and then a moment later shattered to nothing.

I looked at my XP and saw that after all my adventures on the way here I was barely a hairs width away from level 4. At level 5 I would get my first extra skill slot, where I would put the [Detection] skill. In my three starter slots I put [One-handed Longswords], [Throwing] and [Hiding].

When the game had first started I picked up some 30 basic [Iron Throwing Picks], 3 of which were currently between my four fingers excluding thumb and ready to throw, I had practiced doing that mostly useless maneuver purely for the purpose of showing off, but it can be useful to throw multiple picks accurately. I am able to throw the 3 picks with good accuracy along a line, or just use them one a time and have 3 ready at once.

I traveled through the forest on the look out the nepents, hoping to find one with a flower on its 'head' soon.

I see a nepent spawn in the distance, which looks like a combination of the teleport effect and the destruction effect played backwards.

It—sadly—didn't have a flower on its head but that wasn't all that surprising, it wouldn't be like me to get lucky.

The number of a type of mob in the area has a limit and more won't spawn if that limit is reached and because each [Little Nepent] spawned has a chance to have the flower I need to kill off the existing ones for new ones to spawn.

I threw my picks at the nepents head, nearly killing and stunning it before closing the distance between us and finishing it off. When monsters other then bosses get low on HP they get somewhat sluggish and make mistakes—like a human near death from sickness or blood-loss—so it is easy to finish them off. Bosses on the other hand generally get stronger when their HP gets low.

I grab my three throwing picks out of the air between my fingers and get hunting again. Now some might I'm showing off but I'm just to lazy to pick them up off the ground and it is easy for me... okay I may have spent several tens of hours practicing it, but now that I had the skill it made sense to use it.


(11:14pm)

I heard the spawning sound about 30 meters to my right and looked over to see a [Little Nepent] with a bright red flower on its head.

A smile instantly lit up on my face and I looked around for any other nepents, seeing a small group behind the the one with the flower I threw a pick at it to pull its agro, basic video game stuff. At this distance I couldn't hit very accurately, but I could hit it and that was enough. I readied 3 more picks.

The monster started to move in my direction and away from the relative safety of the group.

Once it was more then 20 meters—which is the range at which a nepent will smell you without any wind—away from the other ones and only ten meters from me I threw the three picks at the head beneath the flower, which dealt major damage, and then charged at the monster. The ones with flowers had somewhat higher speed, strength, and HP so this wasn't enough to nearly kill it, another thing is, if you don't chop off the flower either before or as the killing blow you won't get the flower, you will get a withered version which is used for some [Alchemy] but at this stage is useless.

It shot out with one of its roots and I leapt into the air, landing onto the root and running along it. It lashed out with another root—being smart enough not to bring me to it by retracting this one—and I jumped onto it.

Because of the way the root was moving it swung back around to right next to the nepent. I jumped up and kicked off its side, reaching a large enough height to activate [Horizontal] and remove the flower.

Incidentally, this also dealt enough damage to remove its remaining HP.

The monster shattered and I caught the picks that fell down with one hand while sheathing my sword and catching the slow-falling flower with my other.

I put the flower in my inventory and started walking back in the direction of the village, not bothering to kill the other nepents.

It had taken me two and a half hours to do the quest, which is about two and a half times longer then in the Beta, but because this is a 'get one rare drop' type of quest there weren't enough data points to know whether the spawn rate had been changed or whether I had just gotten less lucky. I knew a bit more about the game then even the average Beta player because, as the top player, I had gotten an in-game interview with Kayaba and got to ask him some questions.

Supposedly, it so I would tell him what I thought about the game, but I think it was so that I/the players would have an easier time in the release. It's possible that he didn't even choose me based on me being the top player, but based on something else, like a lottery, or maybe because most gamers aren't the smartest.

The walk back should only take about 20-30 minutes-

"AAAHHH!" someone screamed nearby from the direction of the town.

Scratch that, this would probably take a lot longer. Any Beta player could take on nepents, so the only way there was someone in danger would be if they cut the fruit or somehow got here already despite not being a Beta. The latter one was very unlikely so it was probably the former, which means there will be tens of [Little Nepents] to fight, at once.

All this I thought while running in the direction of the scream.

I saw what was practically practically a wall of the [Little Nepents], forming a circle I jumped into the air, bouncing off one of the nepents and then off its head, drawing my sword in midair, I landed in the circle.

In the middle of the circle was located none other then Kirito, whose HP was in the low green.

Near the edge of the circle, surrounded tightly by a few nepents was a brown-haired boy with a cap-helmet in the low, low, red. In other words, he was almost dead.

I ran towards him but one of the nepents slammed its root down on top of him and his HP drained to zero. A moment later, he blurred and shattered, making a crystal clear sound slightly different from the sound everything else makes when it breaks, I guess player death sounds were made special in the full release.

"Fuuh-" I started to swear, then cut myself off on habit.

Deal with that later, first make sure nobody else dies here, including myself.

I tried my best not to think about the fact that someone had just died in front of me and retreated to the middle of the circle, parrying a root.

"Who are you?" Kirito asked.

"The person saving you," I answered before parrying an attack that was about to hit him because he was too busy worrying about me.

"Worry about yourself, I'll be fine," I said to him before leaning my head to the right to dodge a root, which impaled itself into the ground behind me.

I reached into my breast pocket where I had 6 throwing picks of my remaining 13 and pulled out 3.

I threw them at three of the nepents 'heads,' stunning them, and ran towards them.

Dodged through the roots of the ones attacking me from the sides and activated the sword skill [Horizontal Arc], which basically is a [Horizontal] with more coverage through body rotation.

It cut through a root and deep into the thinnest point of the middle stunned nepent.

The nepent blurred and shattered, its HP dropping to zero, I caught the pick as it full and threw it at one of the other nepents before bisecting one of the other two stunned ones.

The third of the stunned ones became no longer stunned before I expected and lashed out.

I barely managed to parry the root and got sent flying into the middle of the circle, losing about 25% of my HP.

"What armor do you wear?" asked Kirito in surprise, probably at the amount of damage I took from one, blocked blow.

"None," I answered as I stood up.


(11:34pm)

The last of the nepents shattered as the second set of throwing picks entered its head and it 6 picks dropped to the ground.

I walked over and picked them up, putting them back in my pocket, noticing that there were only 5 of them left.

Every time your throwing pick hit something there is a chance for it to break. This chance depends on the type of pick, what you're throwing at, your [Throwing] skill's level, and how well you throw it. I had broken 18 of my 30 on this trip so far and would need to restock soon.

Kirito walked over to where the boy had died and picked up the sword and helmet. Equipped weapons and metal armor would fall to the ground as an item belonging to nobody while everything else would drop in an [Inventory Sphere] which was basically a glowing ball of light on the ground.

When a player touches an [Inventory Sphere] an inventory window pops up next to theirs and they can transfer anything they want out, but not in. If it is emptied it disappeared.

It was also possible to put the sphere into your inventory, but it takes up the same amount of weight as if you had all the items directly in your inventory, this feature was used in the Beta to return the items of a dead party member to them. When in your inventory or when looting it the sphere has the name of the player who dropped, so people might leave some junk, light item in it and leave it as a memorial to the dead player.

After that Kirito tapped the sphere and tapped the button, which—if I remember right, as I couldn't see from this angle—put the sphere as a whole in your inventory.

He stood up and I asked "Who was he?"

"Some Beta tester named Cooper, he offered to team up and then tried to MPK* me by cutting a bulb then using his [Hiding] skill, he forgot or didn't know that [Hiding] only protects from sight and that [Little Nepents] use smell," Kirito answered.

*Mob Player Kill, when you use mobs to get a player killed without the system blaming you and then take the loot.

Well, that made me feel less terrible, but still... If I had been that much faster I could have saved him.

"Did you get an ovule already?" I asked the swordsman.

"Yeah, by the way, who are you? The way you fight seems familiar, and you're obviously a Beta player, but I don't remember, well, any girls as skilled as you from the Beta," he said.

Hmm? Well he noticed, I guess I'll give him a hint.

"Think of somebody you knew who's name could be a girl's or a boy's name," I said.

He scratched the back of his name and after a second he asked "Are you Jun?"

"Correct."

"B-but... you were a boy..." he said awkwardly.

"My Beta character was a boy because I didn't want anybody to ask me out me, because face it, most adult gamers are desperate, and I decided that since the Beta was only 2 months and I would be able to make a new character for the full release it shouldn't be a problem," I answered. Now you might say it's a bit hypocritical given what I thought about the boys who played girls, my reason for being a boy was exactly to stay away from boys.

"Oh... I guess that makes sense... The first player I met was like that," he said.

"Okay, let's go back now, Kirito," I said.

"How did you know my name?" he asked.

"I saw you before we got changed into our real selves and recognized you with that red-head, and then after that the red-head looked similar enough so I guessed you must be you. Anyway, I've been here for long enough, I wanna go back now," I said.

"How long have you been here?" he asked.

"Nearly 3 hours now," I said.

"But, with your skills it shouldn't have taken you that long," he said.

"I'm the unluckiest person I know," I said with a goofy grin.

"It only took me an hour or so, granted, I had his help, but still," he answered.

"Let's get back, I want my sword and I want to sleep so if you're not coming I'm leaving you behind," I said and started running at a speed he should be able to keep up with.

Behind me he muttered "Cold," and ran after me.

We reached the village and walked into the house. We partied up so we could both submit the quest and receive the rewards at once because both of us wanted to be done with it.

We submitted the quest and the flowers disappeared from our inventories, then a flower appeared in her hand and she put it in the boiling pot.

After a moment she poured the tea into a mug and carried it to a back room.

From the room could be heard the sound of coughing and we walked to the door.

Looking though the door a girl could be seen sitting on the bed, holding the mug and sipping form it.

The girl looked to be about 9, had fairly long, dark brown hair, green eyes, and was unhealthily pale. She was also very skinny and at first glance it was obvious she was sick.

As she drank from the cup a bit of color returned to her face and she smiled, she looked adorable, as little kids tend do.

"Thank you onii-chan." said the little girl.

Kirito froze at the seemingly harmless thanks.

I could see tears in his eyes, starting run along his face.

"Are you okay?" I asked him.

He didn't answer and I felt the urge to comfort him, he reminded me of a friend I had about 10 years ago, who then moved somewhere else and I never saw him again after. Given that I'm still 14, ten years ago is a long time, so I might not recognize him even if I did see him.

He was a bit older than me and lived with his mom, dad, and sister. But he might not even remember me at this point. Or our promise, made despite being impossible to fulfill.

[Flashback start]

"Let's meet again and go on an adventure to a magical world, someday!" said the black-haired boy.

"We will, I promise!" I said.

"Pinky promise?" asked the boy holding out his pinky.

"Pinky promise," I said and we grabbed each others pinkies, shaking them.

[Flashback end]

Funny enough, if he was here, which I hope he isn't, we would be able to fulfill that ten year old promise. We promised we would meet again at our last meeting but the chances of it happening are slim at best.

"Yeah, I'm okay," he said, snapping me out of my thoughts.

"She just reminded me of my c-sister a few years ago, when she was sick and mom wasn't home, she was just like that when I brought her hot cocoa," he said. I elected to ignore the fact that he was about to say something that started with a 'c' before saying 'sister.'

"I had to call my mom to ask how to make hot cocoa and I burnt my hands making it, but it was all worth it for seeing the smile on her face," he continued.

The clock in the corner of my vision blinked, alerting me of midnight.

I didn't really no how to answer so I said "Well, I think I'm gonna go sleep because it is almost midnight."

"Good night." he said and I left the building.

There were inns in every town so it wasn't a problem to find one.

I looked on the town map at the town square and found an inn/cafe/pub called the [Nepents' Brew].

I walked along the midnight streets to it and entered.

"Welcome! What can I do for you?" asked the NPC bartender.

"I'd like a room with one bed please," I said.

"Would you like to rent it for a day or a week? A day is 50 col and a week is 250," he said.

Hm, I'm probably not gonna stay here for a week, and probably not even 5 days, so I guess it makes sense to get it for a day.

"I'll have it for one day, please," I said.

While player trading is generally done through trade windows, NPC trading is done through materializing col and giving it to them.

I opened my menu and selected inventory, then tapped the [Materialize Col] button next to the amount of col which I had, which was about 10000 at this point.

I entered 50 and a small bag of 50 copper coins appeared in my hand.

I handed it to him and he passed me the key saying "Room number 4, that's the second one on the left after you go upstairs."

After nodding at him, I head upstairs and enter my room. Because it is a game the key isn't actually necessary to open the door and whoever holds a key for the room can open it without using the key.

I look around and see a single chair, a window, a small table, a slightly open door to a bath room, a wardrobe and a bed.

It was also visible that this was a rather 'old' room by the slight cracks in the ceiling.

I sit down on the bed and open my menu. What I was doing was basically like looking at the home screen of your phone and moving the apps around.

When I tap the skills menu I see a fourth and empty slot... when did I reach level 5? Speaking of levels, I haven't even assigned points for level 4.

I go to attributes and assign 5 of 20 points to [STR] and the rest to [DEX], I can feel myself get significantly lighter.

For the 4th slot I go through available skills looking for [Detection], after I found it I tapped it and the skill list disappeared.

My skills read [One-Handed Longswords; Mastery: 4/1000; XP: 13/50], [Throwing; Mastery: 5/1000; XP: 34/60], [Hiding; Mastery: 2/1000; XP: 9/30], [Detection; Mastery: 0/1000; XP: 0/10].

Those might seem like low stats but they are balanced so that a skill you start with will be mastered at around floor 50 if you didn't level them an extreme amount, after that you would unlock a new skill which included the previous one.

I unequipped my 'armor' which was the most basic black leather gear, but it was still bulky enough to be uncomfortable for sleeping.

I also removed my sword, throwing picks, and everything else down to my casual clothes.

Climbing into my bed I went into my menu and turned off the lights in the tab that appears when you are in a room you own. I closed my eyes and in moments everything faded away.


(3rd person, Unknown, Time:Unknown)

The two children chased each other around through the forest, grabbing each other, and tumbling around.

The sun shined through the trees as the boy caught the girl and they tumbled to the ground, rolling over each other until they came to a stop at the bottom of the hill with the girl on top, she rolled off the boy and they lay on their backs laughing.

The girl took off her backpack and looked in it, pulling out a pair of sandwiches.

"Here, mom made these, there are really good!" she said as she handed the boy one.

They ate happily, sitting in the shade in the pleasant breeze.

"It's so sad, that after today we won't see each other for a long time." said the girl.

"Let's meet again and go on an adventure to a magical world, someday!" said the black-haired boy.

"We will, I promise!" said the girl.

"Pinky promise?" asked the boy holding out his pinky.

"Pinky promise," said the girl and they grabbed each others pinkies, shaking them.

Suddenly the sky was covered in a red dome of hexagons saying 'Warning' and 'System Announcement.'

And a giant rat faced, red furred, fat humanoid monster dropped down with a katana in hand.

The girl drew her sword and jumped forward, only to be swatted away by the monster.

The monster ran straight for the boy, who drew his own sword and parried a strike before being sent flying.

The boss got ready to charge again but the girl got between them and held her sword with two hands in front of her.

The monsters sword clashed with her sword and bounced off, she jumped forward and cut its leg but the sword barely made it through the fur and only a few drops of blood dripped out. The boss screamed with rage and swung its sword at the girl, who tried to block but her sword was cut clean in half and a gash appeared on the girls chest.

The boss ran forward and stabbed.

The sword hit the girls chest-


(1st person, Jun, November 7th, 4:31am)

I shot up in the bed, breathing heavily. Breathing deeply, trying to calm my heart rate I sat their for a bit. What a crazy dream.

I lay back down hoping to go back to sleep but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't.

I got up and equipped my gear.

It was nice that the [Detection] skill had night vision as well, which meant that I should be fine even though it is very dark.

Rubbing my eyes I walked out of the room, wishing that there would be someone to talk to. I hope that dream wasn't a premonition of me dying to the first floor boss, because I had no intention of being Ms. Hero or dying in here, I planned to survive, and while saving as many people as possible while I'm at it would be a plus, I'm not planning on dying for anybody, at least random people.

The only thing I can really do right now is go look for the boss dungeon, I should probably go from town to town looking for anything new, as even with my skill I'm nowhere ready to fight the boss alone, and even if everybody together fought the boss right now, I doubt we would win, hell, I doubt anyone but the Beta players have killed their first 10 monsters or so and reached level 1.

The chance that Kayaba left the game as it was during the Beta is low, especially because he made it a death game so he wouldn't make it as easy as to not change anything. And I already know he changed some minor things, like the house where I started/finished the quest.

The road was about the same length as the distance between [Horunka] and the [Town of Beginnings], but since I'm following the road it should be somewhat faster than two hours.


(6:02am)

The trip had taken about one and a half hours, which wasn't really all that long considering the amount of time we would probably spend in this floating castle.

Because of the fact that this was a game I wasn't remotely tired from the walk and just bored. Now what to do next?

I felt a pang of hunger in my stomach and remembered that while in the real world our bodies were probably hooked up to life support and perfectly fine, our subconscious—trapped in here—didn't know that, and as I exercised and time passed I would get hungry on instinct, I guess it is a good thing that Kayaba added virtual food to satisfy the virtual hunger.

I walked along the streets, looking for some place open this early.

After about 15 minutes of searching I found a place that was open and walked in.

The waiter gestured me to a table and gave me a menu.

The menu contained mostly various game meats, such as deer, boar, rabbit, etc. Which I didn't have a problem with, meat is always great... most of the time.

Since I hadn't ever tried deer or rabbit and the deer was cheaper I ordered a venison steak, which arrived about 15 minutes later.

It was similar to the goat leg I happened to eat that one time when I was in America, but somewhat tougher and tastier.

After trying it I ate the whole extremely large steak in a few minutes and felt a lot less hungry.

I paid for the meal, which cost 10 col, which was less then one would get for killing a single one of the boars, so I had no problems paying it.

I left the restaurant at about 6:45 and head out to scout the surrounding area for anything new or interesting. During the Beta Kayaba had hidden some secrets around the place which contained loot or skill boosts, so it was easily possible he had done the same now.


I think I might have gotten a bit carried away... I wrote this chapter in less then 24 hours.

Anyway, the updates might not be daily, and almost certainly will not be this long generally, but as a first chapter I decided to make it longer instead of writing 2 or 3 chapters.

I think that unlike the last, um, 3 stories that I started I might actually be able to get somewhere with this one because I'm enjoying writing this to a much greater extent, for example, I only ended this chapter here because I felt like it was a good place and I was going to do a huge time skip, which would be better between chapters. I am probably going to start writing the next chapter literally right away.

Tell me what you think of the story so far and please follow, favorite, and review!

Anyway, me gone!