In Horunka Woods…


.

The sound of grass was heard swaying in the wind. As monsters known as "Little Nepenthes" began to follow two player, its giant Joker-like smile that could scare even the bravest of men, didn't even make the players flinch in fear. These two players had seen this monster many upon many of times.

.

"Aria, you okay?" Kai spoke.

"I'm fine. Let's just get it over with." Aria said as she pulled out her dagger. The daggers blade was a bit thicker than the handle, giving it more reach and damage.

.

As the duo began their attack, the Nepenthes swung its vine-like arms to attack. Rotating at a high velocity, Kai sliced off both of the vines giving Aria a chance to swoop in and finish the attack. As her dagger caught to top of the monster's head, she pushed down and yelled with all her might. In doing so, her blade cut straight through, slicing the monster in half and breaking into tiny little piece. After landing on her feet, Aria noticed a Congratulation board pop up. As she looked, she noticed her level, rise from Level 23 to Level 25.

.

After Leaving Horunka Woods…


.

"Ahhhh!" Aria yelled off a cliff and into the distance. "I…NEVER…WANT…TO…SEE THOSE NEPENTHES…EVER AGAIN!"

"You still have the energy to yell. Color me impressed." Kai said after unplugging his ears.

"I hate those type of monsters." Aria said with panic in her eyes. "They remind me of clown." Aria then took in a chunk of air. "I HATE CLOWN!"

"I get it. Next time, I'll be sure to leave you behind when it comes to gathering items from the Nepenthes." Kai answered as he began to rub his ears.

"NO!" Was Aria's response, then she rushed close to Kai and grabbed his shoulders. "If you're in a dungeon, I won't be able to message you. What if you get seriously injured, or worse die, I wouldn't be able to know about it until it's too late-" Aria was cut off when Kai slapped both his hands on both of Aria's cheeks.

"I'm not the type who just gives up. I'll make it back, and I'm make sure to survive so I can take a good lecture from you, okay?" Kai answered calmly, to which Aria nodded in agreement.

.

It had only been a month since the death game began, and more than 2,000 people have died. But the remaining survivors, had tried to live their lives as best as they could, some worse than others. But for the lives of Kai and Aria, it's been one hectic day after the other.

.

A week prior…


.

"I'm sorry, can you repeat that?" Kai asked as he held is cup in his hand as a random player spoke.

"I asked if you could look at the monster outside the Town of Beginning and grab their fighting patterns." The player repeated.

"No, I heard you the first time, but what I'm asking is…How the hell did you find me here?!" Kai yelled grabbing the attention of the entire room.

"I noticed you were at the booth giving away those pamphlets. So, I thought if anyone can do this request, it be you." The player answered.

"Fine, I'll see what I can do." Kai answered in defeat.

"Great, I'll be here counting my money and when your done just message me and I'll pay you, sound good?" The player said as he began opening his menu.

"There's no need. I'll just grab the info you need, and nothing more. Besides I'll be getting paid when I fight the monsters" Kai answered as he walked out of the inn.

.

Ever since Kai and Aria had helped Argo give away those pamphlets, their live have never been the same. People continue to find them no matter where they go. Asking them to assist them in quests, join their parties, guilds, etc. After leaving the inn, Kai walked around the Teleport Plaza to meet up with Aria. After several more seconds of walking, Kai spotted her.

.

"Aria, got another request." Was the first thing Kai said.

"Again?" Aria answered.

"Yeah, but this time, we don't have to go far. Apparently this player just needs the attack patterns of the boars in front of the Town Of Beginnings." Kai responded in defeat.

"Well, if that's the case, then lets' get it over with." Aria said as she began to equip her dagger.

"Lets' get going." Kai answered.

.

It's not like, Kai and Aria didn't like helping other, in fact it's just the opposite. They enjoy getting requests such as these, but they place up this front to see how desperate people are to grab the info they want. The only thing that annoys them, is when they're asked to do ridiculous task, such as: shopping to see what's the best armor to wear, what are the best places to take your partner for a romantic setting, and such. But other than request such as those, Kai and Aria feel like, if they help one person, they can eliminate the risk of death for others by a small percentage, and continue to bring down that percentage, even if it's just by a little.

After several minutes, Kai and Aria had defeated in total: 20 Frenzy Boars, 16 Dire Wolves, and 10 Nepenthes. Of course, when it came to the Nepenthes, Aria couldn't handle it and left it all to Kai. After returning, Kai handed over the info on the monsters' attack patterns before meeting back up with Aria in the Teleport Plaza.

.

"So, now what?" Aria asked as she laid on the ground looking up at the sky, but before Kai could answer, Aria's stomach growled. "I guess we should eat first." She said with an embarrassed smile.

.

As Aria then swiped her right hand down, she opened her menu to pull out a piece of bread. But much to her surprise, the bread she broke apart felt like rock when cracked in half. Shocked at the fact, she tapped on the bread to see its durability in the red, making it…

.

"Moldy Bread?! This is supposed to be a game! What kind of a sadistic man make in-game food expire so fast?!" Aria yelled to the top of her lungs causing Kai to stifle a laughter, and another, not from Kai.

.

The second stifled laughter caught the attention of the two player, that they turned their attention to their left to see a girl, dressed in light blue leather armor, with dark blue hair and pale-white skin, trying her best to hold back her laughter. Confused at the sight, Kai spoke up.

.

"Who are you?" Kai asked.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you two, but I just sat down when all of a sudden, Aria began to complain like everything was normal." Hearing Aria's name came as no surprise since both Kai and Aria were somewhat famous with the low-level player. "It was a nice change of pace from just hearing about monsters and quests."

"Um, I'm sure you know who we are but, who are you?" Aria asked.

"Oh, right. Kai asked that question too. My name is Sachi." The blue-haired girl known as Sachi introduced herself to both Kai and Aria.

"Oh, well, hi Sachi. I guess there really isn't any reason to introduce ourselves is there?" Aria asked as she began chuckling in embarrassment.

"It's fine. Really." Sachi answered as she began to explain her situation to the duo.

"Hmm, is that so?" Kai answered as Sachi finished her explanation. "So, your group went out to gather enough money to buy you a spear, but since their newbs, they don't know the monster attack patterns than for the monsters in front of the Town of Beginnings?"

"That about sums it up." Sachi replied.

"What should we do?" Aria asked only for her stomach to answer. "I mean we would like to help but, we can't fight on empty stomachs."

"That's true. Here." Sachi handed over two sandwiches. "I bought enough for everyone in my guild, but they're not back yet. And they're about to expire, might as well make use of them."

.

Accepting the sandwiches from Sachi, both Kai and Aria had begun to dig in.

.

A Good Sandwich Later…


.

"Oh, that hit the spot." Aria said as she began to look satisfied after consuming the sandwich.

"Yup, you're right about that." Kai said as he stood up. "So, where are your friend having trouble the most?"

"Oh, in the Plain." Sachi answered.

"Now that I think about it, no had ever asked us about going to the Quest Plains, huh Kai?" Aria asked after Sachi answered Kai.

"No, anyways we should get the info quick, before others decide to go and get themselves killed." Kai answered as he began to walk away.

"Ahh! Hey wait for me! We'll be back, Sachi." Aria said as she ran for Kai, and as soon as she reached Kai, Aria gave Kai a mouthful. "Why did you suddenly rush off like that. That so wasn't like you Kai. What's wrong-" Aria cut herself off when she noticed the look on Kai's face. A face that showed he was in pain.

"Sorry. I tried to hide this for as long as I can, but I guess I've reached my limit." Kai answered as he held his head in pain. "To be perfectly honest, I've been hearing a ringing sensation in his head since the beginning of this death game, and it's constantly ringing."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Aria asked worriedly.

"It's not like we could log out and see what's wrong with my nerve gear, now can we?" Kai said as he began to walk away like nothing happened.

"Kai…" Was all Aria could say knowing full well of her limits to try and help him.

.

As she saw his figure continuing to walk away, she proceeded to follow just behind him. Continuously looking back, Kai noticed the distance between himself and Aria but still trekked forward.

.

"I may not be the way I was before the game begun, but I am getting used to this sound. It must be his fault. But who is this 'he'?" Kai spoke to himself trying his best to remember the event that lead to this death game.

.

Several Minutes Later…


.

After retuning with the fight patterns of the monster from the Quest Plains, Sachi thanked the two players. But doing this had caught the attention of another player who just so happened to be nearby.

.

"My, my." A player dressed in a mix of light and dark blue armor and had blue hair said as he walked up to the duo, grabbing their attention. "Rather than hoard info all for yourselves, you share it with those in need."

Um, who are you?" Kai asked being on the defensive.

"Oh, sorry. I'm Diavel. Nice to meet you!" Diavel introduced himself and explained to the duo that he was gathering people to take on the floor boss. "Well, good day! I hope to see you soon, in Tolbana!" Diavel waved as he began to walk away.

.

As both Aria and Kai looked at each other, they began to ponder their next move.

.

"So… Yes? No?" Aria asked.

"Well if we fight on the front line, we could get more info. It'll probably help the low-level players a lot." Kai answered.

"Wait. You're going to fight the Floor Boss?" Sachi asked in worried voice.

"Oh, don't worry, it's not like we're going to just go up and fight the boss the way we are right now. We'll definitely get stronger." Kai reassured Sachi as he spoke.

"We'll it's not like I can stop you both, just… just survive okay? And come back alive." Sachi pleaded with hope.

"Don't worry. We'll protect each other and come back to you alive." Aria said with confidence.

.

On the way to the Tolbana Amphitheater…


.

Watching Kai from where she was, saw Kai's expression different then the week prior.

.

"Ever since our Nerve Gears were unplugged, Kai has been looking better and better." Aria thought to herself. "Maybe having the gears unplugged fixed something, I don't know."

.

Just happy with the result, Aria continued to make light conversation with Kai to pass the time. After several minutes of chatting, the duo had made their way to their destination.

.

"Oh, you back. That was quick." Diavel spoke as both Kai and Aria were within ear shot.

"What did you not want us here? We're you expecting someone else?" Kai sarcastically answered back.

"My apologies. It's just the meeting is in a few, so why don't we hurry this up." Diavel said as Kai began giving the info on the drops the Nepenthes gave, as well as the best grind spots to level up. After another two minutes of explaining both Kai and Aria sat down to wait for the meeting to begin.

After another good 4 minutes, it didn't seem like anyone else was going to join, so Diavel began to talk.

.

"Alright." He began as he clapped his hands to grab everyone's attention. "Thank you all for coming. Let's get this meeting started." As Diavel began to speak, he made jokes about jobs and such, only to be rudely interrupted.

"Hold on a sec!" Another player yelled, taking everyone's attention away from Diavel to the back of the Amphitheater.

.

As Kai and Aria looked to the back as well, they noticed a player with spiked up, sienna colored hair. He also had a small sienna goatee and brown eyes. He wore a scale mail armor with a large one-handed sword on his back.

As he jumped down, he jumped to the front of the stadium, and introduced himself.

.

"The name's Kibaou, got that?" He said with a condescending tone. "And before we get started, I want to get something off my chest."

.

As he said this, he looked directly at Kai and Aria. Seeing this, Kai began to stiffen up.

.

"We all know about the 2000 players that died so far, yeah? Well, some of you need to apologize right now!" Kibaou said as he pointed towards the crowed, not once taking his attention away from the duo.

"Kibaou." Diavel spoke, having Kibaou take his attention away from the duo. "I think I know who you are referring to. You mean the ex-beta testers, right?"

"Of course, I mean them!" Kibaou answered back. "Ever since this death game started, they just vanished and left all of us newbs in the dust. Then they went and hogged all the good hunting spots, and took the easy quests, too."

.

After hearing Kibaou say that, it caused Aria to stiffen up. She knew full well where he was going with his speech. She also knew that most of what he said was true. As just as she was about to stand, she felt a hand hold her down by her shoulder. Looking to her right, she noticed Kai's expression, calm and composed. Showing no hint of fear in his eyes, Aria had begun to calm down. But Aria had begun to panic once more when Kibaou pointed directly at the duo.

.

"Especially those two." Kibaou fully turned his attention to the duo who sat a bit farther away from everyone.

.

As everyone began to look at Kai and Aria, Kai noticed Aria beginning to shake a little. But without wasting a second, Kai spoke up.

.

"What about us two?" Kai rose to his feet and began walking towards Kibaou. "I mean, we're just simple players, like the rest of you. So, why point us out?" After Kai paused as he began to eye everyone who was seated and saw them whispering to each other, almost as if they were in agreement with Kai. Using this opportunity, Kai continued. "I mean, people don't usually point out anyone unless they have sufficient proof that their guilty of something. Or is it that you want us to be scapegoats so you won't have to admit the true fact that…" Kai pointed his finger towards Kibaou, who at this point couldn't even utter a word. "…you are a Beta-Tester?!"

.

As Kai said what he wanted to say, he began to hear gasps and shocked voices. His words had begun to sink in far too deeply that it not only silenced Kibaou to the point to where he couldn't fight it back, but everyone around since they didn't know how to top Kai's words. After a few seconds of silence, Kibaou sat down, and apologized to both Kai and Aria, then allowed Diavel to continue the meeting.