A/N – Ah, another couple of days, another review! My thanks goes to DragonMaster Reborn for said review; with that said, I bring you the next chapter.

Disclaimer: ...Okay, fine! I don't own .hack or any of it's characters...except for Zol and his real life counterpart.

The Guildmaster – Ovan, if the new recruit recalled correctly – cut another branch, allowing him and Zol to continue through the ancient ruins; the walls were literally covered in, if not made entirely of vines and branches (much like the one that was now split in two), a thick layer of dust covered the old stones that made up the floor, and spider webs were abundant on the ceilings and otherwise. Zol found one of said spider webs blanketing his arm as small spiders started to crawl around and trying yet failing to get through the metal plates in his armor, brushing them off as quickly as possible in a short-lived panic.

'God I hate spiders...' his mind trailed off, and he almost walked right into Ovan, who had stopped to take a portion of another spider web, holding up the fistful of webbing – now spun in a crude orb much like cotton candy – and showing it to the Adept Rogue.

"Have you noticed the level of interactivity with the floor plan of this game?" He brushed it off and grabbed one of the vines on the wall, pulling it out as a bit of dirt fell from the newly made gap. He threw the vine away, motioning to their surroundings with his right hand, "Look around you, Zol: every square of this dungeon is hand-crafted; there is no sign of repetition to be found." The Adept Rogue's brow furrowed in thought.

"So you're saying that this game has no linearity to it?" he questioned his superior, who beamed at him.

"Exactly." He replied. As the pair continued, he showed the recruit the floor – now, instead of old stones and dust, was merely mud; "Look behind you and you'll see the footprints we've left," he pulled one of the many torches that lined the hallway out of its sconce and pointed to their changing shadows, "and notice how your shadow grows and falls with a change in light; the only silhouettes that characters cast in previous games were a mere disc at their feet." Zol scooped a bit of webbing into his fingers, pulling and squeezing it; how in the hell was CC Corp. able to write the coding for all of this and not have the main servers crash?

"Talk about attention to detail..." he muttered to himself, Ovan overhearing the quietly muttered thought and smiling to himself.

"Yes, this game is very interesting." Again, the Guildmaster stopped suddenly, Zol nearly bumping into him again, and they walked inside the small chamber wordlessly, the Gott Statue floating over the pit in front of them.

"Now for the real reason that we are here;" He heard Ovan say and turned to face the Steam Gunner, who had drawn his weapon, "Shino has told me that you've had some PK trouble." He pointed the bayonet at Zol as the young man equipped his new weapon, "I'm going to teach you to fight them; if you die during the training I will resurrect you, but you must learn to fight as if this were real life." Zol nodded, but immediately had to block Ovan's attacks once he did. After blocking for a few seconds, the Adept Rogue jumped to the side and towards Ovan, swinging his sword in an arc hoping to slash at the Steam Gunner's sealed left arm.

Ovan moved out of the way as if the metal casing weighed nothing and slashed at Zol, who barely blocked the attack before he was shot a split second later and drained of all of his HP. The Steam Gunner used a resurrection spell on the recruit.

"Again, but try to hit me this time." He ordered, the fight beginning again.

Yet again the fight was over and Ovan was the victor; Zol was getting the hang of things, however, and had managed to strike the Steam Gunner five times in a row before having to block the inevitable attacks. Of course, Zol's small victory was short-lived, but that was aside the point. Ovan resurrected the newbie for the tenth time that day.

"You're getting better." He said, putting away his gunblade before looking away briefly, "I have to leave for now; something has come up. Remember what I've told you." And with that said he left the dungeon, leaving the Adept Rogue alone with the treasure chest still unopened. Kneeling down, Zol searched the treasure chest and found another weapon suited for his class: a one-handed blade that looked fairly simple, but had flames painted on both sides where the cross guard – one that also partially protected his knuckles from the front – and the blade met; not to mention that it had a level five rarity. He checked the name of the weapon (as well as the stats) once he placed it in his inventory.

Inferno Blade; it boosted his attack power and his fire affinity with every level gained, and had a strong fire-elemental attack. He smirked: it definitely fit his look too.

As he equipped his weapon, he heard someone talking to him.

"Hey! You must be new to the game, aren't you?" the person behind him asked and Zol turned around, recognizing the group he saw: a Tribal Grappler, a Lord Partizan, and a Shadow Warlock.

The same group that PKed him not too long ago.

"Wait a minute...that's the newbie we killed not even a day ago, isn't it?" the Shadow Warlock questioned the Lord Partizan – the leader of the group from the sound of things – who rubbed her chin in thought.

"Hey, you're right!" she unsheathed her lance and pointed it at Zol menacingly, "This is gonna be easy!" Zol, who held his new weapon in hand and was looking down at nothing in particular, scowled as his left hand balled into a fist in its sling.

"I'm sick of you people..." he muttered, one of the bindings that held the sling in place popping loose, "preying on others that are weaker than you." The other binding popped loose and the sling fell apart (still hanging by the strap on his shoulder blade), his left arm free as he switched the blade over to his left hand – he never knew why but he preferred his left hand over his right, even if he was ambidextrous – and pointed the blade at his opponents.

"So you want to fight, eh? Let's get him!" the leader shouted, and they all leaped at him in unison; he simply rolled out of the way and slashed the caster – who he thought should have stayed behind – in the side four times and a final time in the back, the man's HP falling to zero from the combo. The other two PKs backed away slightly: this guy was stronger than before, that's for sure.

"Huh, he wasn't this strong last time." The Tribal Grappler spoke, Zol grinning at the frown on the leader's face. He quickly moved in while they hesitated, taking down the Tribal Grappler with a ten hit combo and turning to face the Lord Partizan, who's eyes were wide with shock.

"How the hell did you get this powerful!?" she questioned in an exasperated voice, and he grinned, pointing the blade at her throat.

The same way she did when she PKed him.

"I just know how to fight, that's all." He answered simply, the grin still plastered onto his visage; the woman swung her lance in a wide arc and made him back flip away, but he leaped that distance just as quickly and attacked mercilessly, draining her HP completely in ten strikes. With a huff of air, he let his weapon disappear in a small flash of light: sure, he had reached level twelve just by fighting the monsters in this dungeon, but fighting as Ovan had taught him made the level twenty-five PKs – three of them, no less – seem weak.

"Maybe Ovan was right;" he muttered to himself, not caring whether his enemies – now completely grayed out and fading away in a puff of smoke – heard him, "maybe there is something unique about this character." He made his way to the warp point, returning to town and to the guild's HOME and finding it...empty.

Well, almost empty: the Grunty was still standing in its place on the rug. He walked over to it and stooped to its level.

"Has Ovan come by recently?" Zol asked and the pig-like creature initially glared up at him, but the look changed once it saw who was speaking.

"Whew! naru! I thought you were Sakisaka for a second. naru!" it explained. Zol's brow furrowed.

"Have you seen Ovan?" he asked again, and Nazo Grunty nodded.

"He said to tell you that he'd meet you at Δ Hidden Forbidden Radiation." It informed him, and he nodded as he stood, exiting the HOME and finally stopping in front of the Chaos Gate.

'So, Δ Hidden Forbidden Radiation...' he thought, putting in the keywords and watching his character's body fade away in a flurry of azure rings.

A/N – Again, reviews are like (insert favorite cookie here)! ...Oh! Before I forget: check out my other book too if any of you readers feel like it; it's a Final Fantasy one, so if you like that series then have at it. :)

Until the next chapter,
Lloyd Redgrave