Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chapter 2: The Lone Wolf

It was 11 p.m. X1 was on a bed in the inn he rented trying to get some rest. It was raining outside, and the city itself appears to be sleeping. Although the sound of rain usually calms him down, but this time it's making him very uneasy.

(2 days before)
After X discovered he can't log out, he immediately went back to Beginner's Town to see if anyone else was having this problem. He saw a passing by defender and decided to ask if he could log out.

"Of course we can! It's a game you know. You just open the menu and press this button here.", the huge defender said in a very confident way. He put on a confused face at first, but then he agreed to do it. 

"Must I really do this? You owe me 50 GP for wasting my time you know". After X nodded as a confirmation, he pressed his log out button. Nothing happened. He panicked out and immediately spread out the news with his insanely thundering voice. Every single one of the players around them checked if they could log out. No one could.

"This is impossible! How is it that I can't log out?", a girl said in a panicked way. She freaked out, and apparently it got the crowd going too. Every single one of them simply lost their hopes. Some of them simply just sat down and mourn, while others are making a big fuss.

"We got to tell everyone about this. Most people are in the town square, lets go there", the defender X asked to log out at first insisted. He thought that it would just bring more harm than good, since it would just discourage everyone that plays this game. However, before X could talk out his thoughts, he was already being dragged to the town square. Well, the guy's enormous and also a defender class, so resistance is pretty much futile. But one way or another way, everyone will find out anyway, X thought.

As soon as they were at the town square, the defender looked for a place where he could stand and get the crowd's attention. There was a nearby small stage at a corner of the square. The defender thought it would suffice, so he stood on the stage and got the crowd's attention.

"Excuse me everyone! Can I have your attention for a moment?", a crowd soon formed in front of the stage.

"Thank you. I would like all of you to try to log out of the game.", the defender said.

"Why would we do that?", a random person asked him.

"Because my friend here...", the defender paused his speech and pointed at X, "...found out that we can't log out of this game", the defender explained. A huge murmur by the crowd occurred.

"I can't log out!", a random guy exclaimed. The crowd grew anxious and more of them tried to log out. More and more testimonials were shout out, and thus it became clear to the crowd that all the players were stuck in this game. Most of the crowd panicked. Some seems to try and act calm while persistently trying to press their log out button.

"This is a message from the game master! Everyone is to gather at the Beginner's Town Square now! We are in need to inform every single player an announcement!", suddenly a voice emerges from somewhere. It was the game's system message. Every single one of the players were able to hear it since the sound is basically like their own voice playing in one's head.

After quite some time waiting, the town square suddenly was locked down by some kind of barrier. Everyone panicked when they realize they're trapped. A hologram of a huge man appears. He was tall and slender, he also wore a full metal framed glasses. Some of the players recognized him immediately. The person was Kiyoshi Hayate, the head developer of Blademasters Online.

"Welcome to the world of Blademasters Online. I am Kiyoshi Hayate, the head developer of this game. I know that all of you here are gathered to know why is it that you can't log out. The reason that you can't log out is not because of a programming error. I intended to make this game like this. The only way you will be able to log out is to take the Blademasters' Title at the 100th floor.". A lot of complains can be heard, but it does not seem like Mr. Kiyoshi could see or hear all the complaints thrown at him, or he was acting as nothing happened.

"Oh yeah, there's also another thing I would like to say before I forget. If you die here, you will also die in the real world.", after those words the crowd grew silent. All of them in shock of able to be killed for real. Meanwhile the man shown as a hologram smiled from ear to ear.

"By the way, if your room isn't locked, you might be in danger. If you were disconnected of your BrainStorm in the game, your brain will be overloaded by the electrical discharge and you will also die.", most of the players were looking down at the ground, knowing that any of them could be killed at any moment by a certain accident.

"Everyone, I would like you to fight as your real selves, so by tomorrow, your appearance will be the same as how you look in real life. But don't worry, your names will still be your in-game username. Thank you for your cooperation and happy playing."

As the hologram disappeared, so does the force field around the square holding all the players in. No one moved an inch, shocked by the reality they refused to believe. Among the sea of shocked players, X was the first one to move. He calmly walked towards the square exit but was stopped. It was the defender.

"I can't believe this. Please tell me this is all a dream, or at least a joke."

"I don't have the power to do so. I did not created this world. I'm sorry but you just have to accept reality.", X said without care to him. The defender looked at X straight in the eye, unable to believe the words X just said. X could see hopelessness and desperation just from a look on his eyes. Those eyes are also easily seen on other people around, which were staring at X for being so laid back and calm.

"What are you going to do?", he asked.

"Isn't it obvious? I'm going to fight. I'm going to fight and reach the top floor."

"How can you still say that? You don't know what lies ahead. And you can't respawn in this game, Once you die, you die for real!", the defender caught X's collar and shook him.

"You won't know what lies ahead if you don't try. To put it in another way, mourning for your life here wouldn't do you any good. I'd rather die trying than die mourning for nothing", X gave a sharp reply. X released the defender's grip as his hands weaken from X's sharp comment. He faced the square exit and left without any other hindrance.

X looked for an inn to stay in for the night, and he decided on a decent inn to stayed in. The inn's room was simple. There was a bed and a desk beside it, and a toilet in the opposite side of the room. Pretty much everything X could ever thought he needed. He unequipped all his weapons and holsters and went to sleep.

X woke up somewhere at 8:30. He went to the toilet and washed my face to wash off all his drowsiness. When he look at the mirror, he saw his regular self. He widened his eyes at first, but he finally remembered what Kiyoshi Hayate had said, all the player's appearance will be the same as they are in the real world.

X had probably just a normal face, although back at high school he used to be feared for his dangerous looking obnoxious eyes. The front left side of his hair was spiked up towards the right, leaving an emo-like right pony which almost covers his right eye. Meanwhile the backside spiked up towards the middle and the sides of his hair was shorter compared to his hair at the top.

He rushed to equip his gear and went to the border of Beginner's Town. The situation was still sort of gloomy, but there were also some players who had found their fighting spirits back. X thought that it was a good thing to see, at least he won't be fighting alone to finish this game.

"Hey assassin!", a voice called out from somewhere. X noticed that voice. It was the defender yesterday. His appearance had changed slightly. The only thing X could notice was different from the avatar he saw yesterday was just the defender's face and hairstyle. Yesterday, the defender had a more western face and a mohawk hair, but today he seemed like a regular Japanese guy with a simple short spiky hair.

"Your real self seems to be rather small and skinny.", the defender said in a rather jolly way. X could only gave him an unimpressed look.

"Hahaha! Calm down. I'm just kidding. By the way, I haven't really introduced myself. I'm Barrios", the defender said. He puts out an arm to shake X's hand.

"Extorsion", X said while he shook Barrios' outstretched hand. "You can call me X for short"

"Hey, can I add you to my friend list? I'm sure we can be great friends.", Barrios said. X didn't expect to immediately be asked to be added to the friend list. He isn't someone who enjoyed a social lifestyle in the real world or any of the other games he had played. But after thinking about it twice, he thought that to make friends in a game like this might prove to be useful. Most of the players had the same goal, to finish the game and get back to the real world.

X gave Barrios a slight nod. Barrios smiled and opened his menu. He went to his friend list and sent an invitation to be friends with X, which X simply accept.

"So, what are you going to do now?"

"I'm going to the next town before nightfall."

"Alright! Let's go!"

"What do you mean 'we'?", X asked. He looked rather puzzled but then smiled.

"We're going to the next town, what else?"

"I'm sorry, I'd rather go alone."

"Is that so? Okay then. I'll probably rally up my own team and then go to the next town. Best of luck, lone wolf!", Barrios said and left.

"Making friends with the likes of him might be a good idea, especially in this game. We could exchange information since we don't know anything ahead of us.", X thought to himself. Barrios gave off a playful nice guy feel according to X. However it's pretty much in X's nature to work alone, like X always preferred to.

1 I will refer to Extorsion as X for short. This will also be his nickname

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