Currently listening to –> A Narrow Escape from the Sword Art Online OST
Well, I have officially finished Week 2 of NaNoWriMo 2015, and I am actually keeping up!
At this point, I’m not even concerned with whether or not I’m making sense or putting in too much explanation. My inner editor has been successfully gagged for the moment, although she still manages to cause some minor trouble from time to time. And I have officially decided that my muse gets lost more than Wrongway Feldman (and unless you have watched Gilligan’s Island, you are not going to get that reference).
So far, I’m really loving my characters, though I would like to delve more into them in the rewrite. Hopefully by the time I finish this project I’ll be familiar enough with them to write them properly for the rewrite.
It’s been a bit rough at times, but I have already written more this year than I have the other 4 NaNoWriMos combined, so I’d say I’m doing pretty good. I’ve actually managed to stay pretty much on track (when I’m not getting sidetracked by writing poems in Dovahzul, translating verses from the Hebrew Bible, playing Virtual Families 2, and trying to finish this knitting project I started a couple weeks ago).
Anyway, now that my muse is lying practically lifeless on the ground thanks to my marathon sprint (and demanding that I put her to bed immediately), I think I’ll end this post with a few of my favorite parts from Week 2. Please excuse the errors I’m sure you’ll find. Other than that, best of luck for the next to weeks, and happy reading!
Alex and Yoshitsune (from Chapter 3):
Wraith looked like she was about to say something in response when, all of a sudden, a bloodcurdling wail split through the still afternoon air, and instantly all four turned in the direction of the sound.
“You think a monster got someone?” Wraith mused, glancing over at Vigil.
The elf frowned, then clenched her fists together.
“Guess we’ll find out.”
And then with that they set off at top speed in the direction the wail had come from.
A moment later, Vigil spotted a figure curled up at the edge of the riverbank. An NPC? Was this some sort of event?
Quickly the elf hurried up to the figure, kneeling down next to him and placing her left hand gently on his back. He might have been an NPC, but that had never stopped Vigil from treating them like real people before.
“Are you all right?” she inquired gently.
The man, who looked like he was a fisherman NPC, was holding the sides of his head in his hands as he stared wide-eyed at his reflection in the water not more than a few centimeters from his face. He looked to be young, maybe in his mid twenties, with sandy brown hair and brown eyes. His gear was definitely fisherman’s gear, but of a higher quality than most wore. If Vigil had to guess, she would suspect he was a level 50 or 55 fisherman. This might be a new quest…
“Please, sir, can we help you?” Vigil prodded, trying to break the fisherman from his daze.
“My face…” the fisherman’s voice suddenly squeaked.
Vigil paused at this, blinking as she stared down at the man crumpled up in front of her.
“There something wrong with his face?” Wraith inquired, leaning over the elf’s shoulder in curiosity.
“I don’t…think so…” Vigil responded, her brow wrinkling in confusion.
“My face…” the fisherman repeated again. “My beautiful face. What has happened to my beautiful face?”
At this the elf leaned back, exchanging wondering glances with Wraith before glancing over at Searos and Tara, who looked equally confused.
“Who is this guy supposed to be? Narcissus?” Wraith inquired, standing up straight and crossing her arms over her chest.
“That would make sense…” Vigil responded, removing her hand from the man’s back and resting both hands on her thighs. “This is Occidio, the island with Greco-Roman mythology. Still, though…Narcissus fell in love with his image and drowned in Greek mythology. This guy…doesn’t look like he’s in love with his image.”
All of a sudden, however, the fisherman sat bolt upright, turning to Vigil and grabbing her by the front of her robes.
“Oi!” the elf yelped, leaning back as the fisherman nearly shoved his face into hers.
She could hear a sizzling sound behind her as Wraith lit one of her swords on fire.
“Hey,” the Berserker growled. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Where am I?!” the man suddenly wailed.
He then let go of Vigil, sitting back and grabbing his head again.
“Where is this place?! Who am I?! What happened to me?! My face! What happened to my beautiful face?!”
Searos snorted at this, Tara rolled her eyes with a groan, and both Wraith and Vigil let out exasperated sighs.
“Then again…” Vigil shrugged. “Maybe this is just a new twist on the Narcissus story.”
“Come to think of it,” Tara mused, “the whole story surrounding the world of Infinite is that the inhabitants of the 6 continents surrounding the central continent of Aeternum can’t remember anything before the Emergence, right?”
“That’s true,” Vigil nodded. “And since the Hermes expansion is relatively new, it would make sense that there would be a new quest about this lore arc.”
By now the fisherman had calmed down some and was glowering at the four warriors from where he sat.
“What in the world are you people talking about?” he asked sourly. “And what kind of stupid getup are you wearing? I swear, if that stupid portal dropped me in the middle of a cosplay convention…”
At this, Vigil’s jaw dropped slightly, and even Wraith had gone perfectly silent by now.
“Hold on,” Wraith suddenly said, pointing an index finger at the fisherman in front of them. “How do you know about portals and cosplay conventions?”
Now it was the man’s jaw that dropped, and he sucked in a quick breath, as though highly insulted by the woman’s words.
“You dare insult my intelligence?” he fumed, bounding to his feet. “Do you have any idea who-”
He didn’t get any further than this before he tripped over his own feet, and both Vigil and Wraith sidestepped out of the way, allowing him to fall face-first on the ground.
“Ouch…” the man groaned, pushing himself up onto his hands and knees. “I have never been this humiliated in my life. First that stupid portal does something to my beautiful face and now I can’t even walk right. It’s like I’m not even in my own body anymore.”
“Hey,” Searos said suddenly, crouching down next to the man. “Who exactly are you?”
The fisherman frowned at this, then tottered hesitantly onto his feet again and puffed out his chest.
“You have the pleasure of speaking to none other than Alexander Roth III, son of the greatest inventor of this age. Now you had best tell me where I am immediately or I will have you all arrested for kidnapping.”
Vigil glanced over at her companions who were looking just as annoyed and confused as she felt.
“I swear, if the developers thought this would be a funny quest, they’ve lost their touch,” Wraith sighed. Then turning to Vigil, she questioned, “Hey, Vigil. I know he’s an NPC, but you think he might be one of those rare killable types?”
The fisherman’s face went white as a sheet at the woman’s words.
“Are you a demon?!” he gasped in horror. “W-Why are your eyes glowing red?”
“You’re really slow on the uptake, aren’t you?” Tara snorted. “You’ve been staring straight at her the whole time. But you know,” she glanced over at Searos who was standing off to the side with his arms crossed over his chest, looking completely unamused, “he does seem to be more dynamic than the other NPCs we’ve come across.”
“NPC?” the fisherman inquired warily. “You keep using that term. Is that some sort of cultic jargon?”
Vigil blinked over at him for a minute, then, all of a sudden, began to laugh.
“NPC. Non-Player Character. It’s a character run by an AI instead of a human inside the game.” Then, with a more serious face, she added, “That’s what you are. I wonder…are you a sentient AI?”
A look of pure offence crossed the man’s face at this.
“How dare you demean me? I am a human, thank you very much. Of the highest breeding and education, I’ll have you know. Now show me where the nearest portal station is. I have an appointment in London, and if I’m late-”
“Hold up,” Wraith interrupted, a hint of shock in her voice. “London?!”
She paused, then glanced over at Vigil.
“There’s no London in any sort of mythology, is there?”
“Not that I know of,” the elf answered, a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Something did not feel right about all of this. Then, turning to the fisherman, she inquired, “Mr. Roth, are you…actually…a player? I mean are you a person living in the year 2250?”
“Well…” the man mused, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “I suppose there are some people who have called me a player. I just say that I enjoy life, though.”
“You can’t be serious…” Wraith groaned. “He’s probably so stupid he thought he was using a portal when he was really just using a gaming semi-portal.”
“How dare you call me stupid!” the man fumed. “I was just at the Los Angeles International Portal Station, using a certified portal conduit. You don’t seriously think you’re going to trick me into thinking that I’ve somehow been warped into some stupid game.”
“Hey! Infinite isn’t a stupid game!” Wraith growled. “I know. Maybe if I kill you it’ll delete you from the system and send you back where you came from, you pompous little rich brat.”
“You’re going to do what?!”
Vigil was just about to intervene when a deep voice cut through the tense atmosphere.
“I know that voice,” someone said from behind.
Quickly the group turned to see who was speaking, and Vigil felt like her breath had gotten stuck in her throat when she saw him.
He was a tall man, clad in a black samurai kimono and pants, an S-class katana and short sword strapped to his hip. His eyes were a bright sapphire blue, and his long, jet-black hair had been pulled up into a high ponytail, a red strip of cloth tied around his head.
Breath, Vigil, the woman scolded herself mentally. It’s just an avatar. Just an avatar.
“Who are you?” the fisherman inquired warily. “How do you know me? I don’t recognize you.”
“You wouldn’t even if I was in my real body,” the samurai answered. “I just so happen to be the man you pushed away from the portal this morning. I thought something strange was up when I ended up in my game avatar instead of the Tokyo portal station, but if you’re here, too, something is definitely up.”
“What do you mean?” Vigil inquired, glancing between the supposed NPC and the samurai in black.
“Have you tried logging out?” the samurai inquired.
“Well…no, not yet. I wouldn’t want to leave my avatar out here in the open like this.”
Vigil, Wraith, Searos, and Tara all exchanged wondering glances, then did as they were bade.
“Um…why can’t I log out?” Tara inquired, her eyebrows knitting in concern.
Vigil glanced up at her companion, then clicked on the “Log Out” icon in front of her.
Again she clicked.
“It’s not letting me log out either,” she frowned, swallowing down a feeling of panic. “What does…this mean?”
The samurai frowned, then glanced off toward the eastern horizon.
“I have my suspicions, but I won’t be able to check until I can get to town.”
“What kind of suspicions?”
The samurai glanced at her briefly, then headed in the direction he had been looking.
“You’ll find out,” he responded bluntly. “Though I don’t think you’re going to like it when you do.”
Yoshitsune the Hacker (from Chapter 5):
Without a word, the samurai held his hand up slightly, palm flat, and swiped horizontally through the air in front of the statue’s base. Instantly a holographic screen and keyboard appeared in front of him, a series of algorithms and codes floating through the air.
“Wow, is that the access point you were talking about?”
Yoshitsune nodded as he reached out and began messing with the keyboard and holographic screens.
“How did you find it so easily?”
“As I said before, I already know where all the access points are on Aeternum. That garden over there is an Oracle location, so I knew the access point had to be close.” He nodded with his head back toward the nearly-hidden garden gate across the road from where he stood. “These things usually have some sort of identifier. The statue of a god is not an uncommon one.”
“So now what are you doing?” Wraith inquired. “If this contraption can gain access to the system, isn’t it going to be password protected or something?”
“Of course,” the samurai responded non-chalantly.
“So…how do you plan on getting in?”
“I’m going to hack it, obviously.”
For a moment the whole group fell silent, and Alex’s jaw dropped visibly. Then, all of a sudden, a wicked grin crossed Wraith’s face.
“It’s official. You’re awesome.”
“Y-You can’t do that!” Alex suddenly exclaimed, pointing an accusing finger at the samurai in front of him. “Hacking is a crime, punishable by law! I can’t believe my father supports a system full of criminals and sadists. If you hack into this system, I am bound by law to turn you in.”
Instantly Yoshitsune snapped an icy glare over his shoulder at the rich boy.
“I’ll make sure you stay stuck in here then.”
The other man’s face paled at this.
“You can’t do that!”
“I’m hacking into the system to try and get us out of this game. But if you’re threatening me, I’ll be sure to leave you in.”
“That’s called blackmail!”
“That’s called common sense, you moron. Now shut up. You’re distracting me.”
Alex couldn’t even finish his sentence before Wraith reached out, bringing her fist down hard on top of the rich boy’s head and knocking his feet out from under him. The young man landed on his backside with a yelp as the words “Immortal Object” appeared above his head in ethereal lettering.
“Ouch! That hurt! What was that for?!”
“See, Wraith. You couldn’t kill him if you tried,” Vigil chuckled.
The Berserker frowned at this for a moment before grinning again.
“That means I can hit him whenever I want, right?”
“Excuse me?!” Alex exclaimed, looking between the two women with a horrified expression on his face.
“Wraith, tone down the violence,” Vigil grinned sarcastically. “We have children with us.”
The rich boy, who still sat on the ground, gave the elf a look of indignation at this.
“I hope you’re not implying what I think you’re implying.”
“Oh, I’m probably implying more than you think I’m implying.”
Then, turning away from the baffled rich boy on the ground, she said, “So, Yoshitsune, exactly how do you know how to hack into a computer system anyway? You’re not a professional hacker, are you?”
“What kind of a question is that?” the samurai answered, not looking away from what he was working on. “What kind of professional hacker would tell you he was one when you already know his in-game information?”
“Oh. I suppose you have a point.”
For a moment, both fell silent as Yoshitsune carefully navigated through the system coding. Vigil wanted to ask more, but something felt awkward about the thought, so she kept her mouth firmly shut. And it wasn’t like it was proper etiquette to ask about another player’s real life anyway.
“Actually, I’m a surgeon IRL,” Yoshitsune said suddenly. “Hacking is just a passtime.”
“What kind of weird passtime is that?” Alex grumbled, tottering to his feet and putting a fair amount of space between himself and Wraith who eyed him sharply. “How can you possibly view criminal activity as a passtime.”
“It’s not like I steal anything,” the samurai sighed in irritation. “It’s just fun breaking codes. I’ve got nothing better to do with my time between surgeries.”
All of a sudden a light flashed across the screen, and with a satisfied smirk, Yoshitsune stood up straight.
“And I’m in.”
“That was really fast,” Tara mused, leaning over to take a look at the holographic screens. Her face screwed up in a look of confusion, then she stepped back and added, “Not that I can understand anything, though.”
“That’s impressive,” Vigil nodded in agreement. “You’re really good at hacking, aren’t you?”
At this comment, the samurai flashed the elf a sadistic grin.
“I’m as good at taking apart a computer system as I am at taking apart bodies.”
“Uh…huh,” Vigil responded. “Somehow I feel like that comment was meant for someone else.”
She glanced over her shoulder at Alex who gave them both a disgusted look.
“I was right. You people really are the devil,” the young man grumbled.
Night Raine (from Chapter 5):
“So…if we’re inside the system…what does that mean for when someone dies in-game?” Tara questioned at length.
Vigil sucked in a quick breath at this. Right. Hadn’t that girl in the city square said something about that?
“After everything that we’ve seen and heard, I would think that the answer would be obvious,” Yoshitsune replied evenly.
The thought of Wraith’s risky stunt from earlier, right around the time of the surge, crossed Vigil’s mind then, and she clenched her fists as she turned to look at her friend with a stern gaze.
“That means that if you had died after that stupid stunt…” the Cleric said, her voice low and warning.
Wraith jumped at this and held up her hands in surrender.
“Hey! How was I supposed to know the game system was going to go psychopathic and turn everyone into atomic dust?”
“Atomic dust?” came a voice from nearby.
All six pairs of eyes turned to look at the speaker, and they paused when they saw him. He was a tall Human man, broadshouldered, with wavy blond hair pulled back into a short ponytail and sharp blue eyes. He was clad in a black shirt and trenchcoat, black trousers, knee-high leather boots, and black gloves cut off at the middle of his fingers, and he had an S-class hand-and-a-half sword slung across his back. He was currently holding a mug in his right hand, but he looked down at the group with a curious and slightly worried gaze.
“Sorry for eavesdropping, but…” The man sat down in the empty seat between Alex and Wraith. “What was this about the game going psychopathic and turning everyone into atomic dust?”
“Uh…” Tara responded nervously, glancing around at the others, “how should we put this…?”
“There’s no sense in beating around the bush,” Yoshitsune sighed, leaning back in his seat. “There’s going to be panic whether we tell everyone the truth or not. And honestly, it might be good to tell them. At least everyone should know to be more careful now.”
“I’m guessing this has something to do with no one being able to log out?” the blond inquired.
“Yeah,” Vigil nodded. “Simply put, it looks like everyone connected to a portal has been dematerialized and stored in the Network.”
“Demat…Is that even possible? I mean, shouldn’t we all have lost consciousness if that happened?”
“Not with the new Hermes System,” Yoshitsune answered. “The Hermes System has the ability to preserve a person’s matter down to the neuroelectrical function of the brain atoms. We’re actually lucky that Infinite has such a complex system. Judging by the data I saw earlier, I don’t think there are any other system hubs that are equipped to handle matter data for long periods of time.”
“Yeah, well, it’s probably this stupid game that caused it all to begin with,” Alex interrupted with a huff, crossing his arms over his chest. “There’s no way the Hermes System would crash without a good reason, and this game is so weird that-”
Instantly Wraith brought her fist down hard on the table, sending a dozen cracks spiderwebbing through its wooden surface.
“Quit mouthing off about the one thing that’s keeping you alive right now, you snot-nosed brat,” the woman growled.
“Oh? How are you going to stop me? I’m immortal, remember?”
Instantly the blond swordsman stood to his feet, and for a moment Vigil thought that perhaps he had decided to leave. Then, all of a sudden, however, the man picked Alex up by the back of his tunic and practically tossed him over his shoulder as he hauled the young man toward the front door of the inn. Without so much as blinking, the swordsman opened the door, tossing the rich boy out the door and slamming it shut. He then propped a chair up under the door handle before returning to the table where the others sat.
Even from that distance, Vigil could hear Alex banging on the door, his muffled voice only barely echoing above the nervous din of the inn’s occupants as he shouted, “Hey, you can’t do this to me! I am Alexander Roth III, I’ll have you know! You’re going to regret manhandling me like that! Hey! Are you even listening to me! Let me in! I order you to let me in right this second!”
“Where did you find that guy?” the blond inquired, rotating his arm as though he was merely returning from a workout.
“Thank the elf,” Yoshitsune sighed. “She decided the compassionate thing to do would be to let him tag along. I guess that’s to be expected from a Cleric, though.”
“Says the doctor,” Vigil frowned in response.
“The people I help are pretty quiet.”
“That’s because they’re unconscious.”
“I’d help that guy, too, if he was unconscious.”
“I can fix that,” Wraith offered with a mischievous grin, making as though to stand.
“Down, Wraith,” Vigil ordered, pointing back toward the other woman’s seat. “And he’s an immortal object, remember? I’m not sure there is anything that would work on him.”
“A gag should,” Searos offered. “That doesn’t count as attacking.”
At this, Vigil let out an exhasporated sigh.
“Anyway, all joking aside, we really need to decide what to do from here on out. You don’t think there is any way for someone on the outside to rescue us, do you, Yoshitsune?”
The samurai shook his head in response.
“Not as of the moment,” the man replied. “The system is completely locked down. It could be a week before they get it back up and running, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to immediately figure out what’s happened to us once they get it working again. And then there’s always the question of how long the Infinite servers can maintain our matter data. There are a lot of things we don’t know at present.”
“But one thing we do know is that death here in the game is death for real now, right?” Tara said, leaning her elbows against the table. “That means that soloing just became a whole lot more dangerous.”
For a minute, the whole group fell silent, each lost in their own thoughts. Then, after a while, Yoshitsune shifted in his seat and looked back at the others.
“I don’t do a lot of team playing,” the samurai mused slowly. “I’m more of a lone wolf sort of player. However, every scenario I’ve run in my head comes out the same. Our best chance of survival is to live as a team for the time being, at least until we figure out how this is going to work with us being stuck in Infinite.”
“I agree,” Vigil nodded in response. “Working as a team is our best bet. It will allow us to share resources and benefit from each other’s skills. And since we don’t know what we’re going to face, the more allies the better.”
“In that case, would you mind if I joined you guys?” the blond swordsman asked then, leaning forward slightly. “I know you don’t know me, and honestly I’m not sure if I understand what’s going on, but from what I do understand, soloing isn’t a good idea right now.”
Yoshitsune glanced at Vigil and the elf woman nodded in response. Then with that she opened up the UI. Party…Targeted Invite…
Instantly a little orb of white light appeared in front of her and she placed her finger on it, directing it over to where the blond swordsman sat and releasing it in front of him. A dialogue box popped up then, and the blond accepted the request immediately.
“Thanks,” he grinned, sitting back in his seat. “I guess I should introduce myself then, huh? I’m Night Raine, but you can just call me Raine. I’m a level 40 Human Skirmisher.”
“Nice to meet you Raine,” Vigil nodded in greeting. “I’m the party leader for the time being. Level 50 Elf Cleric Vigil. This is Wraith, level 50 Human Berserker; Tara, level 50 Faerie Mage; Searos, Level 50 Dwarf Skirmisher; and Yoshitsune, level 51 Human Knight.”
“Woah…all level 50 and above, huh?” Raine mused in surprise. Then he grinned, relaxing visibly. “I’m glad I ran into you guys. I just got here shortly before everything happened, so I’m glad to know my teammates are actually at the right level for this continent.”
Just then the sound of Alex’s voice caught Vigil’s ear again.
“Guuuuyyyyssss,” the rich boy whined. “Let me iiiinnnn!”
It could have been her imagination, but it almost sounded like the fisherman had flopped his full body against the door.
The whole group turned to look in the direction of the sound, then Raine glanced back over at Vigil.
“Is he part of the party, too?”
The other five sighed in unison at the question.
“Thanks to Vigil, yes,” Yoshitsune responded.
“No kidding,” Wraith huffed in reply. “At least he’s in an NPC body, so I can hit him as many times as I want.”
“Wraith,” Vigil warned.
The crimson-eyed woman pouted, then dropped her chin into the palm of one hand with another huff.
“Anyway, shouldn’t we let him in now?” Vigil sighed, glancing over at the door again.
For a moment, the rest of the group remained silent. Then Yoshitsune leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms behind his head as though he was ready to take a nap.
“Nope,” the samurai said in response. “I think he’s just fine right where he is.”
An Official Party (from Chapter 6):
“Anyway,” Yoshitsune interrupted, completely ignoring the rich boy, “I’ve pinpointed the access points I need, but it’s too dangerous for me to go alone. So I have a proposition to make.”
“What’s that?” Searos inquired.
For a moment, the samurai thought deeply. Then he responded, “Make this party official. If you guys come with me, I should be able to access the system at these key points and send us all back home. I’m not going to lie to you. It will be a bit risky, especially in the higher level zones, but no matter whether we go or not, we’re facing danger.”
“That’s right,” Vigil mused. “Didn’t you say that the autorenew function has stopped working?”
“What does that mean?” Alex inquired, glancing between the elf and the samurai.
“The autorenew function in the system is what controls a player’s ability to revive after dying in battle, as well as the availability of renewable resources such as NPC vendor stock, monsters, and wild crops. With that system down, resources will become much more difficult to find, too.”
“Then I guess we have no choice,” Searos frowned. “We’ve got to try this. Who knows how long it would be before the people on the outside figured out what was going on otherwise?”
“Exactly,” Yoshitsune nodded in response. “So do we have a deal?”
Quietly Vigil drew in a deep breath, then put her hand out toward the middle of the table.
“Deal,” she said, looking straight at the samurai.
There was no lying about the fact that she was afraid. But if she only had the option between dying an inglorious death and going out like a hero, she would go out like a hero.
For a moment, there was a pause as the others stared at the woman’s outstretched hand. Then, slowly, Yoshitsune put one hand on top of hers and nodded. With a sigh, Wraith shrugged, then also put her hand out.
“Deal,” she replied, flashing Vigil a quirky grin. “I’m not gonna let you have all the fun without me.”
“I’m in, also,” Raine said, putting his hand on top of the others’. “It’s worth the risk, I think.”
“Me, too,” Tara nodded.
“Likewise,” Searos added.
The others then turned to glance at Alex, and the young man’s face paled.
“W-Why are you looking at me?”
“Deal or no?” Yoshitsune asked evenly.
“Why on earth would I risk my life to help a bunch of psychopaths like you?”
“Then I’ll make sure to leave you in here.”
“Fine! Fine! D…deal…”
With a huff, Alex added his hand to the pile, and then the others nodded to each other.
“All right,” Vigil grinned. “Let’s make sure that no matter what happens, Infinite will never forget us.”