Nasuverse Fate/Revelation Online - Tales from the Mid-Liners Preview


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With Daniel's permission, I've been working on a fanfiction set in his FSN + SAO world that has yet to receive a name. This is where I will post the parts of the chapters as they are completed for all readers to enjoy and comment on the faults and errors, upon which I will post a revised version and put it up.

FRO Links
Idea's Thread

Main Series Links (Daniel's FSN + SAO)
Idea's Thread

Preview Thread

Since my chapters are kind of long, each one may be divided into several pieces. When all parts of a chapter are completed they get their own post so you can read it in one go, and that chapter goes on

Initial Meeting Arc
Chapter 1: A Meeting of Five - Part 1
Chapter 1: A Meeting of Five - Part 2
Chapter 1: A Meeting of Five - Part 3
Chapter 1: A Meeting of Five - Part 4

Chapter 2: Collaboration - Part 1
Chapter 2: Collaboration - Part 2
Chapter 2: Collaboration - Part 3
Chapter 2: Collaboration - Part 4
As a fair bit of warning, due to the fact that the story takes place a few months into the game and slightly beyond the current setting, some thing may count as spoilers or be later rewritten. I welcome any comments, criticisms, and questions.

Moderator Notice: Changed title of thread by OP's request -chronodekar


Well-Known Member
RE: Fate/Revelation Online - Recursive Fanfiction

Chapter 1: A Meeting of Five - Part 1
{5,400+ Words}

Sword Art Online
—a game designed by the genius Kayaba Akihiko, where you sought to conquer all one-hundred floors of the world of <<Aincrad>> through the use of blades. Made with the latest advances in VR technology and the use of the NerveGear to allow for complete immersion, it allowed you to accomplish any goal or go anywhere with a sword in hand. That was the lure that drew in ten-thousand people from all over Japan…and the lure that trapped ten-thousand people inside at once, no way out except for death or to clear the hundred floors.

It was no longer a game, but reality for those who were trapped inside. With the introduction of the [Thaurmaturgy Patch], the first content expansion that appeared with no prior warning, the realization of mysteries and wonders became possible. In other words, [Magecraft] fell into the hands of those who now existed in this world.

In light of the changes there were those who took to the front lines and sought to clear the floors as fast as possible, venturing into the wild unknowns of the new and mysterious world at the behest of a man whose motives were unknown to the players within the game at this point. Armed with [Spells] and [Swords] they searched for the elusive [Floor Boss] on each floor and waged fierce and blood battle to slay it, moving onto the next floor to do that same. These [Front-Liners] carved a path forward for those left behind to follow at their own leisure.

This is a story about those who came in on the heels of those [Front-Liners], who followed in their tracks. This was a story about those whose purpose was not to advance with the 1% that stood on the top, but to support them and discover what was left untouched off the path that was forged ahead. This was a story about those known as [Mid-Liners]…

And this tale in particular was the meeting of five that took place four months into the game.


1st Floor – Outskirts of <<Starting City>>
The wind rolled past the grasslands that surrounded the largest city within the game of [Sword Art Online], the aptly named <<Starting City>>. As the breeze whistled through the sea of green that rustled as it bent to its whims, one player in particular could be found away from the path of trampled earth that led to and from the gates.

It was here that Ken Mori, known within this world by the username of [Endel], stood in the face of two [Frenzy Boars] that he had provoked into attacking him. Dressed in light armor, the brown-haired young boy of nine years of age felt confident in facing off against these trash mobs, his eyes not hiding that fact. He had slain at least two-hundred over the course of the month-and-a-half he had been sneaking to this spot every morning after his brother left out, never venturing further to avoid the risk of his brother finding him doing what he expressly forbid instead of staying inside the [Safe Zone], like he was his mother or something.

He was Level 7 already! Higher than those kids in the Church by far (even though it was because that Sasha lady didn’t let them experiment with the magic system) and even most of the adults in the city (although that was because the ones who were that level were typically on higher floors)! And he did it all on his own, without anyone else’s help (okay, a little help)!

At that level the trash mobs around there only provided a pittance of XP. But they did have their purpose. Because of how simplistic their attack patterns were and how they only reacted when provoked, they allowed him to experiment with the magic system of the game that he had chosen to learn: [Rune Magecraft].

He had heard good things about it from when a [Red-Haired Cactus-Headed Player] appeared in the Center Plaza of the city in an effort to recruit more players into a guild called the [Paladins]. It was supposedly an Art that realized mysteries through the use of a [Magic Foundation] that relied on simple letters and the guild sold a primer of their basic uses and advice from the leader of their guild himself, [The Paladin’s Guide to Runes for Beginners] for a single [Col], the currency of the game. So he bought and read it when he was in his room alone, while his brother was busy, learning about this system some of the things that could be done with it.

Just like that, he made up his mind and moved to act. He wouldn’t lie if asked; the [Circuit Activation] had hurt more than anything in his life. It was like a hot and arid twister stirred inside him, eroding pathways that were like canyons through his body that were suddenly filled with boiling water. But now look at him.

Even though he was still wielding an outdated [Small Sword] and equipped with [Light Leather Armor], he had earned enough Col from dealing with so many [Fury Boars] that Endel had managed to go through [Consecration] and determined his element was that of [Wind] itself.

Taking a step forward, he readied himself as the first of the [Fury Boars] charged him with a simple and predictable charging skill, which he avoided. There would be a small lag before it could charge again, so he paid it little mind and focused on the other one in front of him. It would serve as his test subject for his experimentation into his own brand of spells after over a month of practicing, the [Runic Lens].

Using [Psychogenesis] he generated his imaginary element. Saying it generated pure wind was wrong, but instead it generated the gases which shifted and formed wind. As it lacked a truly physical form or any damaging properties on its own upon creation, the wind itself held little offensive power at his skill level. However, he had found his own use for it combined with his [Rune Magecraft].

The main issue with using runes was that they needed to be engraved upon a surface as trying to rist a rune upon the world itself without a medium, such as earth or steel, made it easier for the cardinal system to wipe it away unless the prana used was so dense and great that it distorted the world around it. But, Endel wondered what if he used his element as a medium instead. What if he used the gases that formed the wind itself as a buffer against the Cardinal’s effects?

So he compressed the gases, making them denser, until they formed a thin lens that was also a canvas, upon which he could engrave the rune. By setting his finger alight with prana and placing it within the lens, he could engrave it with a rune that would remain fixed in place and allow his magical energy to flow through it. Thus, like light through the image of a projector lens, the mystery of the rune could be unleashed and allowing for even the conversion of imaginary elements.

In this case he decided to utilize the rune of cold and stillness, [Isa]. Engraving the simple line into the center of the lens as the second [Fury Boar] prepared to cross the distance and attack him, the rune shimmered and he sent a surge of prana he sent through it. The surging energy flowed into the [Runic Lens: Isa] and came out as a narrow gale of howling hoarfrost that ran over the grass, fanning out the further it went and making it crystalline and brittle as the frozen winds battered against the charging [Fury Boar].

The effort drank deep his reserves, but the mob came to a stop as its HP hit the zero mark and it collapsed while covered in rime. It soon shattered into countless polygons and Endel smiled as the first testing was successful, even though his body burned and his concentration wavered. He definitely couldn’t use something like that without refining it.

It was then he heard the squeal of the other [Fury Boar] and recalled there was another one. Spinning on the soles of his feet, he turned to see it charging him. While it wouldn’t do much damage, it was probably going to hurt a little, so he braced his sword in a guard position and awaited the impact…which never came, as a brown blur smacked into the boar from the side and ended its linear charge.

With all the recent patches, a lot of things changed. So when what he recognized now as a crossbow bolt pierced its skull and came out the other end, white fragments and pink brain matter left the exit wound with a spout of blood as it fell mid-charge and skidded across the grass. Only after a few moments passed did it shatter into bluish pixels and vanished, leaving no drop behind.

Endel didn’t need to guess who it was that stole his kill. He knew already, as there was one crossbow-user he knew personally who would interfere with his affairs. His stomach dropped as he slowly turned to the direction from which the bolt came and his hazel-brown eyes met with forest-green ones. He had been caught red-handed. “Nii-sama…”

Chikashi Mori, or [Endri] to everyone else, stood there with his [Wooden Crossbow] on his shoulder and a frown on his face. He was a young man of seventeen with hair dyed the color of the horizon sun, earth-toned boots, and a full-body cloak, long-sleeved shirt, and trousers that matched his eyes. His displeasure was quite apparent as he rhetorically asked, “Where do I begin to start?”


Forest to the Northwest of <<Starting City>> - One Hour Ago

Looking at the time located on his HUD, Endri mentally noted there was a minute left until it was time to move. Once that time passed the [Little Nepents] would be in position as he had considered optimal, following their set patterns every day when originally drawing up a personal map of the forest. As long as no one entered into that part of the forest and Aggro’d them, they would be there.

So, with his [Magic Circuits] already filled from [Generating Od], he flipped the imagery switch in his head to activate [Reinforce Agility] and bolster his legs to increase his [AGI] stat. While he had learned from [Argo’s Guide] the basics of using the general spell, he wasn’t willing to risk using it on an eye to ensure a hit, nor strengthening the [Wooden Bolt] that he was about to fire when it didn’t need to be enhanced any further or laced with a moderately priced poison of some kind. If he missed he could take as many more shots as long as it was done within thirty-seconds, so as to not make deviations to his plans.

Even though the ammunition wasn’t as cheap as [Throwing Picks] he at least found it easier to keep himself stocked with basic ammunition once he picked up magecraft beyond the basics of the basics and bought the instructions to make them from the NPC who sold them, since the resources could be found in the forest. As part of unlocking his own particular Art of choice, [Druid Magecraft], he gained an exclusive skill slot irrelevant to his level that couldn’t be replaced or exchanged called [Foraging], which let him gather and stock any natural resource in the game, whether an increased rate in drops from mobs by 5% or wood from trees. Although he had to equip a [One-Handed Axe] to do so from the trees and had to switch out on his [Dagger] skill as a result to use said axe, he could harvest the wood easy enough, just like he harvested branches from the [Apple Trees] to make woodchips, and the feathers he needed were dropped from the birds that often picked at the ripe berries of the [Rowan Trees].

Taking a second to think things over, Endri found it somewhat funny. It was the fact that he felt comfortable in the forest, sitting on the thick lower branch of a tree limb while taking aim with his crossbow at a hive of [Forest Bees]. After all, his last name in real life meant “Forest” and “Death” in Japanese and Latin, and he found himself in a “Forest” while in a “Death Game”.

The moment the HUD timer hit zero, he pulled the trigger of the his ranged weapon and the string twanged loudly as it was released from its taut position, sending the bolt traversing empty space and spearing through the hive. It fell to the ground and tripped the trap that the hive served as, spawning four yellow and black [Forest Bees] that sought out the nearest player and didn’t switch targets until they were out of range from the spawn location, which was made traversable when strengthened by his current spell. But since he needed them out of the way instead of loitering around his prizes until they vanished, he waited for them to start coming after him before he abandoned his perch and fell to the green below, allowing them to chase him.

As he moved through the forest with a practiced grace his [Stamina] dropped within expected calculations, until he managed to kite the swarming bees into a group of [Little Nepents] and used his enhanced legs to clear them with a jump. The predatory plants preyed on the [Forest Bees], their red lips that drooled with nectar opening and closing, sharp teeth crashing down upon the exoskeletons of the yellow and black insects that spilled inhuman fluids before they broke apart. They would certainly attempt to go after him next, but he had already doubled back to make to where the hive was.

It was there that he found the two drops that appeared whenever a hive was destroyed for a set amount of time, [Honey] and [Beeswax]. Taking them into his inventory, he considered the foraging of this particular point done for the day and prepared to move onto the next spot when he received a PM from a player-run shop owner requesting a delivery of twenty units of [Vulnerary Salve]. It was a unique ointment that he learned to make as part of learning [Druid Magecraft] from the [Wandering Druid NPC] on this floor and could be made from the common resources around the first floor.

While he had enough [Beeswax] with this last one in his inventory, he didn’t have enough [Betony] and would need to go to the grasslands around the city to stock up on them. The best spot to collect them just so happened to be where some distance from the gates, near the normally unoccupied central area. It was here that he gathered up bundles of them and where he just so happened to catch his little brother doing exactly what he told him not to and practicing magecraft against trash mobs with his back open to attack from the one behind him.

When they got ready to play the game his parents pulled him aside and told him to look after his brother. Naturally, he rolled his eyes and wondered how much trouble the shrimp could get into playing as some burly Avatar in a game. Then the stakes changed and he had to take things seriously.

Originally he kept himself and the shrimp inside of <<Starting City>> so they could wait for the adults on the outside to do something. After two months passed with no luck, it became abundantly clear they were on their own and they couldn’t really survive on a pension alone. So Endri took to becoming a [Gatherer] while forbidding his brother from leaving the city, never going too much further than the forest where he just so happened to stumble across an NPC that wasn’t there before the 4th floor was cleared and learned his current magecraft of choice.

Taking aim to the point between the [Fury Boar] and Endel as his little brother’s admittedly impressive spell ended and his guard was down, he let loose a bolt from his weapon of choice since ranged weapons were enabled and nailed it in the head. Once you got the speed of the charge down and took into account how fast the bolts crossed a certain distance, it was a 50/50 chance of a head shot or nailing its body. But at his level it would be killed in a single shot regardless.

Endel turned to him with a look that was akin to being caught with his hand in the cookie jar before dinner and said, “Nii-sama…”

“Where do I begin to start?” Endri mused aloud, drumming his free fingers against his outer thigh as he stood there in thought on how to practically punish him.

“W-why are you back this early?” Endel asked, with his voice somewhat frail.

“An order for more salve came in and due to the amount and lack of ingredients I had to cut the usual gathering short,” he told him, his boots falling upon the grass with soft crunches as he walked forward. “To think you were out doing something like this when I was away…considering that spell you’ve been doing this a lot, haven’t you?”

“I…” Endel trailed off as his brother now stood in front of him, towering over him by a good foot-and-a-half.

“I told you to stay in the city,” he said sharply, his green eyes narrowed as he looked down upon his younger brother. “Do you have any idea how dangerous it is out here? What if something happened? Did you ever think about if something went wrong and you died? How sad our parents would be because you went out and nearly got yourself killed? Honestly, if I hadn’t taken that shot you would have gotten a tusk to the back.”

“I had it under control!” the younger boy argued. “I was in a guard position, so I would have been fine! Besides, you’re a hypocrite saying all that when you go out all the time to that forest up north!”

“To support us,” Endri stated with his tone bland, despite being annoyed. “For starters you always rush headlong into things without thinking about the consequences. I plan things ahead. I have every inch of that forest mapped out, including every mob spawning point and every resource location, and I always have a way out. My priority is survival when it comes to this world…but you just want to have fun, thinking that this is the game we originally signed up for.”

Endel shook his head. “That’s not true!”

“Whatever,” Endri huffed as he walked past his little brother and plucked a [Betony] out of the grass, the purple flowers of the herb shaking as he lifted it. “This is the last one I needed. Let’s go back now.”
Heat gathered in the younger boy’s face as he gritted his teeth. His brother was always like this since they got in the game, demanding he stayed in one place with nothing to do, like he was some helpless little kid. With his sword shaking in his grip, he cried, “I don’t want to just stay in one place all the time!”

“Well, you think I like being promoted to the role of a parent and having to watch out for you?” Endri countered. “When we get back I’m taking all of your equipment and leaving you with the woman in the Church who watches over the rest of the kids when I go out, since I can’t trust you not to leave home on your own anymore.”

“I hate you!” Endel yelled without thinking, his eyes stinging. He was getting stronger and independent, yet his brother was going to push him to go be with a bunch of little kids like he couldn’t take care of himself. “You used to be cool!”

He stopped walking at that. There was silence for a moment, until he spoke in a voice that was more somber than before. “Neither one of us is satisfied with how things turned out. But I can’t play the role of a ‘Cool Big-Bro’ here. Not when the stakes are so high.

“Now…” Glancing over his shoulder at his younger brother, his eyes narrowed to the point they felt like daggers being pressed against his skin. “Let’s. Go.”

The tone left no room for argument and nothing his little brother said would sway him. Endel fell in line, following his brother into <<Starting City>>. The small place they stayed at was a two-bedroom apartment on a second floor they rented after Endri started earning Col from his gathering from the forest.

Since the taste engine made most food bland, [Honey] was appreciated. Even though it was somewhat of a luxury item for the people who received just enough Col to live from the [Mutual Aid Society], which was a subsidiary of the [Aincrad Liberation Force], some would occasionally splurge and there were other [Mid-Liners] and [Front-Liners] who would buy it.

With the patches that made wounds bleed his [Vulnerary Salve] provided a means of stopping the bleeding and healing the wounds that didn’t waste prana by using the [Cure] spell to make fake flesh. While how long it took to completely patch up the wounds depended on how deep they were, the salve clung to the flesh and stopped bleeding instantly like a bandage. Considering that pain was present and concentration wavered when under too much of it, making it difficult to use any spell if things were bad enough, it was an alternative means of healing that was sought out by many.

A few shopkeepers had sought out the recipe for it. As it was only learned from the [Wandering Druid NPC] in this floor and the magecraft taught by the NPC wasn’t as commonplace yet, he could still get some mileage out of it. Since anyone of an appropriate level would normally go to the higher floors to gather or explore, rather than checking every inch of the northwestern forest, he could provide it for an ample fee until the knowledge stopped being exclusive to him, after which he would sell it to an Information Broker and go from there.

No sooner than they go through the door, Endel ran straight into his room and locked the door. While meaningless, as he could open it because he was the one who rented it, Endri found it just as well since it kept his little brother out of the way as he started on the salve to sell. It would take a bit of time to make and cool, after which he would take it to the shop and restock on ammunition and supplies. Then he would sit down and lay out the new ground rules with the stubborn nine-year old…

Of course, if he had known how upset his brother truly was then maybe he would have also thought about the fact that there was a window in his room. One that Endel could open and climb down to the ground-level since, after all, if he hung off the ledge the ten-foot drop became a six-foot one that didn’t so much hurt.

Thus he was blissfully unaware that the young boy had run off towards the gates…


Outside the Gate of <<Starting City>>

Yasumi Sakata, known to all but one within this world as [Aoili], stood with <<Starting City>> to her back and the grasslands surrounding it to her front, expanding as far as her amethyst-eyes could see. The sixteen year old student wearing a black [Heavy Wool Cloak] with the hood down, allowing her onyx-colored hair to dance in the light breeze, hadn’t been back after she had set up shop on a higher floor to take advantage of the resources they presented, so she had felt somewhat nostalgic while there. To think it had been a little over four months since [Aincrad] became her reality was something she had trouble believing…or rather how quickly she adapted compared to so many others, including a dear friend named Yumina, who she hadn’t seen since the end of the first month.

She looked back at <<Starting City>>, knowing that the person within [Aincrad] she treasured the most was there. Probably in the same room they stayed in during for that first month, now supported on the pension provided by the [Mutual Aid Society]. It hurt, not seeing despite coming all this way to restock before she went about her business.

She thought to blame it on the time and distance between them playing a major factor. As one who held down multiple jobs, one being an [Amulet Crafter], and because of the latest challenges on the floors, her time and resources were fairly sparse. If she wasn’t working then she was researching and experimenting to further her craft.

While Aoili sent her a weekly PM as per usual, it went unanswered as all the others had, so it was pretty clear that the wounds from their argument were still festering. The rift between them was too wide a gap to fill at this point with a simple PM, she supposed. While she was sure she would need to visit her in person to make amends, Aoili just couldn’t face Yumina after seeing the sheer anger on her face.

That expression was burned into her memory, the words resonating in her heart. Not just because her dear friend was out of line, but because she was right to an extent. Aoili found this world they were imprisoned in somewhere she thrived and was able to find a purpose. At times she wondered…if she was trapped inside without the weight and responsibility of Yumina’s life on her shoulders, would she ever want to leave?

Aoili wasn’t sure, but at present she still had to do something to push away the myriad of feelings. So she focused on what she could do to remain productive to the joint cause of clearing the game without taking part on the front-lines. And she would continue to do so until she could gather the courage to apologize to Yumina, face-to-face.

As she turned to proceed with the next item on her agenda, in the <<Lake Region>> to the northeast of the city, she noticed a young boy running through the gates. Out of the initial thousands of players, kids were some of the rarest ones to actively take part in anything and never usually without some form of supervision or party members to watch out for them. Given that night would come to pass soon, she couldn’t help but wonder where he was doing out unattended.

So when the brown-haired youth came to a stop, breathing heavily as though he burned through his [Stamina] meter, she asked. “Are you going out there by yourself? It’s dangerous at this time.”

“I can…take care of…myself!” the boy claimed between heavy breaths, his eyes narrowed at the young woman. “Why does everyone keep treating me like a child?”

Because you are one, she thought to herself. Still, sensing she hit some kind of sensitive topic she raised her hands in order to pacify him. “Sorry, sorry. It’s just that there’s maybe another hour of light left and mobs at night are both numerous and tougher than during the daytime, so no one should try to go it alone. Depending on where you plan to go, it can be too dangerous for you to go alone and might need to wait until morning.”

With his expression easing out as he took in that tidbit of information he muttered, “Is that so…?”

She nodded. “The forest to the northwest itself is pretty bad since without a decent source of light or magecraft catered to it, you won’t be able to see well. Did you bring any [Torch] items with you?”

Looking abashed it shook his head. He didn’t exactly run out with anything on him beyond what he already had in his inventory. His first thought was to leave before his brother took away his sword and his freedom. “I don’t…so, I just won’t go that way!”

“Then you’re going to the same place I am?” she asked.

“I guess…?” he said, although it came out as more of a question. “I just go the opposite side of the forest, right?”

Crossing her arms at the sight and tilting her head, she found his expression and question odd for someone who was in such a rush. It left her wondering if he knew what he was getting into. “By any chance, do you not have the map data for that part of the floor?”

He shook his head. “No…”

“Then how will you know where you’re going?” Aoili asked. Even though it was clear at this point he didn’t plan on this at all, she waited for him to try and say something to defend himself. When he didn’t, she kneeled down and touched his shoulder. “It really might be better if you waited inside the city if you’re this unprepared.”

“I won’t go back!” he declared, closing his eyes as the corners started to tear up. “If I do, I won’t be able to leave…I don’t want to stay there and have someone looking after me like a little kid! I can fight too!”

“So you’re not going to go back?” she asked once more for confirmation, to which he made clear he wouldn’t and his muscles tensed to run away. It wasn’t like she could force him back, but if he ran off like this alone there was a good chance that he wouldn’t survive. “Tell me, what level are you?”

“I’m almost Level 8!” the young boy declared with the pride in his voice clear.

She smiled softly at him. “Aren’t you strong for your size then? In that case, how about you keep me company to the <<Lake Region>>?”

“You want me to party with you?” he asked skeptically. Given she was just telling him to go back, he was more afraid she would try to make him and treat him like a little kid.

“Yep,” she told him, extending a party invitation to him. “To be honest, even though I’m a few levels higher it’s all from experience given due to me researching with my Art. Combat really isn’t my thing, so I wouldn’t mind having someone strong to watch my back.”

While that was true, she wasn’t much of an experienced fighter, she knew how to take care of herself against the weak mobs on the floor. Really it was so she could keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t run off and get himself into any trouble. Even if she didn’t know the kid, letting him run off to his death would leave a bad taste in her mouth and, since he was so young and stubborn, this was the only ways she could think of to do it. Hopefully she would also manage to at least figure out why he would be so brash to run out without being ready for what he could run into and discourage doing so in the future.

After a moment of conflict over what to do, Endel accepted the invite into a party with the player known as [Aoili] and the two began to walk towards the northeast

Part -1 End


Well-Known Member
RE: Fate/Revelation Online - Recursive Fanfiction

It looks interesting.. Though I do wonder how the Elder Brother planned on actually taking the equipment from his younger brother if said younger brother wouldn't give it to him. I mean, with inventory space as a thing..


Well-Known Member
RE: Fate/Revelation Online - Recursive Fanfiction

Yeah, he was still thinking on it. That's the problem in the game, he can't physically force him to do anything without crossing a line that he doesn't want to cross (physically bullying him into submission), but he's still his older brother and still has influence over him.


Well-Known Member
RE: Fate/Revelation Online - Recursive Fanfiction

Maybe.. But even saying it, when both know perfectly well that it can't be done, doesn't give me a good impression of him. And if he was silly enough to try physical bullying, isn't that going to pop up harassment reports for the younger one to hit yes on and get the older one in trouble?

The simple fact is that once in the game, you really don't have much control over what other people do when it comes down to it. You can't take their stuff away from them, you can't easily lock them into rooms, you can't physically prevent them from doing things without being hit by the anti harassment controls and maybe being made a yellow player, depending on the details, and people can practice magecraft while sitting still without any gear so you can't even keep people from doing that part.

Someone pretending you can simply makes that person seem foolish or ignorant as a character.. Though I suppose loosing his temper would also be an explanation.

(I have some of the same issues with you claiming that Sasha doesn't let the kids experiment with magic when it's about impossible to stop them if they decide they want to do it.. Though I suppose they might just be to used to listing to adults for them to realize that..)

Prince Charon

Well-Known Member
RE: Fate/Revelation Online - Recursive Fanfiction

happerry said:
(I have some of the same issues with you claiming that Sasha doesn't let the kids experiment with magic when it's about impossible to stop them if they decide they want to do it.. Though I suppose they might just be to used to listing to adults for them to realize that..)
Except for the ones who normally don't listen, of course... and once the first few get away with it, more and more will.

It's more likely that the Orphanage simply has a reputation for not letting the kids experiment with magic, because it's dangerous. How would a nine-year-old who doesn't even live there know the difference?

Kayaba would probably even work in opportunities for them to practice, when he could.


Well-Known Member
RE: Fate/Revelation Online - Recursive Fanfiction

Chapter 1: A Meeting of Five - Part 2
{4,100+ Words}

<<Starting City>>

The evening sun was reaching for the horizon and made the world in the distance seem to waver as Yumina Noemi, or simply [Yumina], looked past the panes of glass that served as the sole window in her home from her bed and towards the tower in the distance that rose endlessly. She was bored, to say the least. It was the same sight everyday as she waited for someone else to clear the game as a [Retired Player].

From the beginning she wasn’t a fan of videogames. It was only because Aoili, her only real friend, wanted her to join her in this world that she put on the NerveGear and entered into the game. And now she was trapped.

She was trapped in a world where some lunatic was playing god and watching over them from somewhere, forbidding them from leaving until they submitted to his demands and played his game. She was trapped in a world where outside the walls of the [Safe Zones] were monsters that could kill them and end their lives, the sole sign they remained being a crossed out name on some stone tablet. She was trapped in a world with food that was simply not up to her standards, which were admittingly fairly high as she was used to a higher standard of living.

Fondling the last thing she received from her long gone friend, Yumina looked upon the [Concealment Pendant] with a conflicted gaze. This thing was a product of their last argument, the point at which it became clear that Aoili was intoxicated with the situation she found herself in, enamored by this elaborate cage that a madman trapped her in. It was the reason that their friendship was strained and would remain so until Yasumi came back and stopped playing this ludicrous game where she could die under the persona of Aoili.

Placing her forearm over her eyes, Yumina sighed and fell into a reverie on days gone past when the two stood side-by-side. Would those days ever come back if she remained in place? Or would she have to brave this new and dangerous world to see her again?


Grasslands between <<Starting City>> and <<Lake Region>>

“I’ve got this one too!” Endel declared as he rushed forward to confront the [Lesser Dark Wolf] that was charging at the pair, the steel of his [Short Sword] catching the light of the dying sun that was fading past the horizon. He dropped his body low and bent forward, drawing back his sword that turned azure, and was sent into a forward at a slight upwards angle as the [Rage Spike] skill went off.

At this point the wolf was somewhat aerial, having lunged for him with the intent on coming down and tearing open his throat. So the blade pierced through meat, bone, and fur of the trash mob to leave a trail of blood lingering in the air. The mob fell to the grass on its side, skidding a bit as the momentum carried it beyond its death, before bursting into pixels.

“That was pretty good,” his companion for their journey, Aoili, told him. “That’s the tenth mob you’ve taken down to this point without getting a scratch. I didn’t even get a chance to draw out my rapier.”

“I know, right?” He nodded to that, still caught up in the elation that he was feeling from her praise and the chance to venture out. “Not a scratch! And Nii-sama thinks I need to be watched over…”

To be honest, Endel felt nervous, excited, and grateful at the same time as he walked alongside the onyx-haired woman who looked about the same age as his brother. It showed as his grip on his sword in his right hand tightened, despite a few hours having passed as they set out. He was finally going further out than he ever did since the game started, partying with someone at that.

Lifting an eyebrow as a small smile came across her face, Aoili pointed out his slip of the tongue. “Ahh, you didn’t tell me you had a big brother. Couldn’t he have gone with you instead of you running out on your own so hastily?”

The brown-haired youth flinched at his mistake. “He’s not an active player, so…”

Amethyst-shaded eyes furrowed. “Hmmm, is that so? Did you at least tell him where you were going? You wouldn’t want him to worry about you, right?”

Endel could tell she was serious about it. Her tone was light, but fairly serious in the same manner his mother was back at home. But if he told Endri then he would tell him to come back or chase him down. Making the gesture to open his menu that was invisible to her, he said, “I’m doing it right now.”

He pretended to write the message, typing in some things, and then setting it in his [Draft] folder before going through his [Rune Magecraft Spell Tree] and looking through the basic notes from the primer he bought to see which ones could be used as a source of light. While he had been experimenting with the system, truthfully he had been going through and focusing on a few in particular, with [Isa] being one of the first because it was the simplest shape to memorize.

He came across the rune [Dagaz], the rune of daylight. It was noted that it could allow for the conversion of prana into luminescence and the symbol was rather simple, being an [X] with both end points connected through a straight line. Endel came to a halt and was pulled out of his attention when it came to the rune when Aoili held her hand out to stop him. “Aoili-san? What’s wrong?”

She pointed ahead, where there were five enemies grouped together. While four were just regular [Frenzy Boars] like by <<Starting City>>, perhaps with an additional level or two. However, at the center of the four was another one with a different color palette and at least twice the size of the normal boar-type mobs.

“It’s called a [Fury Boar],” she told him. “It’s basically a higher-level [Frenzy Boar], but it has an conditional attack that stuns players while around [Frenzy Boars] and triggers all the nearby ones to instantly target and run down the player. Given the response range we have to lure the rest away and pick them off before we move on.”

Looking towards the ground she found a few small rocks that were loitering and picked one up, holding her hand back as she did until her hand shone in the glow of a skill being used and she threw the stone forward to hit the nearest [Frenzy Boar]. The stone left a welt where it hit and the boar left the gathering to charge them down. It was quickly dispatched by the young boy’s sword, a [Horizontal] cleaving through it and letting fluids run before it burst into polygons. With one done, she proceeded to lure the next one over for him to dispatch, one after the other until the [Fury Boar] was left.

“Last one, Endel-kun,” Aoili told him, reaching for her rapier’s hilt. “I’ll handle this one myself.”

“I can finish it!” Endel declared as he rushed forward. Now that it couldn’t use a stun attack, to him it was just a bigger version of those trash mobs from before. Plus, he wanted to impress Aoili further, so he thought to show off his new [Runic Lens: Isa] spell against the mob. As soon as he entered the response range and the mob turned hostile, he generated the lens, risted the rune, and called forth the frozen winds by pouring in his prana as the boar charged at him.

The [Fury Boar] charged forward and into the spreading fan of chilled winds that carried white and blue frost. It was in the middle of it, its health slowly dropping and its speed falling…but it didn’t stop. The coating of rime was flaking off as fast as it was battering the boar and his prana reserves dwindled until the winds started petered out. The sensation of nothing being left to squeeze out hit Endel and the frozen winds stopped, leaving him exhausted and staring in fear as the boar charged down on him like a train upon a deer in the headlight.

Of course, he was slammed to the side before that could happen. Aoili had thrown herself at him and tackled him out of the way. It left him in her embrace, both on their sides in the grass as she trembled, with his hand in something warm and wet. He pulled his hand away to see her blood on it.

“Are you okay?” Endel managed ask, his voice small.

“I’m fine,” she huffed as she got onto her feet and faced the boar that had stopped to shake off the rime. From behind her he could see where the cloak had been torn and crimson bled through. “The tusk grazed me, but I didn’t lose too much health. I can close the wound after I handle this one, so focus on gathering mana.”

Looking at the boar coming around again, she materialized a large rough crystal that was manually labeled [P.Grenade] as she felt the sensation of mana being drawn behind her to the young boy like an eddy was pulling it in. Pulling her arm back until the glow of the [Single Shot] throwing skill was pronounced, she flung it forward. The object was sent forward in a blur, crossing the distance while leaving a trailing light like the tail of a comet as it struck the boar of minimum damage…and then she snapped her fingers.

The stone rupture, exploding from the inside out. The jagged stone fragments that formed its body were now shrapnel that decorated the boar. The damage scored a [Critical Hit] and the [Fury Boar] went down, defeated, as its health was reduced to zero.

Aoili took a deep breath and then fell to her knees, her back wound aching and sapping her strength as it continued to stain the cloak. “Ow, ow, oww…”

“I’m really sorry,” Endel apologized profusely, looking at the grass and afraid to look up. “It worked on the [Frenzy Boar] near the city. I was sure it would work…”

“But this one was bigger and a higher-level,” she pointed out as she held a strange pendant to just above the wound and slowly transferred her prana through it, the colorless energy being transformed and tainted as it passed through the pendant and then onto her skin. “It has more HP and the size means that you have more area to cover to get to the same results. And, while I’m a layman when it comes to the use of runes, didn’t that use up a lot of prana to pull off?”

Endel nodded somberly. He knew that already when he experimented on it back before his brother caught him. It was only his second time using that spell, but he wanted to impress the person he was with using more than his sword like he did until now. “I just wanted…”

She laid a gentle hand on the top of his head and ran in back and forth soothingly. “I’m not saying it was a bad thing to do, just that you should be more careful. Okay?”

“Kay,” he said, his eyes rising as she turned her back on him to continue forward. It was there he noticed the wound was gone from the tear in her cloak and shirt beneath it. “You healed it?”

She nodded. “I’m a [Amulet Crafter] by trade, although I do [Talismans] as well, and [Gemstone Magecraft] is my specialty. It’s a system where the properties of the stone and crystals are utilized. Some stones, for example, have properties that can be bestowed upon spells channeled through them, such as [Opal] having [Anti-Spiritual] properties. The pendant I used was designed for healing purposes by combining various ones that deal with different types of healing needs that have occurred with all the recent patches, such as closing wounds, stimulating the creation of blood and stemming the flow, mending broken bones, and so on…”

“So that explosion thing from before was part of your magecraft?” he asked.

“It’s the only real offensive use I have for any of the gemstones at this point,” she claimed. “I typically fill them with prana until they can’t hold anymore and then create a Pass so that I can remotely add more at the right time. Anyway, once the threshold is breached it ruptures, like a balloon filled with too much air, the prana and fragments making it like a grenade.

“The properties of most of the stones can be imparted onto other things and beings, which is how I make the amulets and talismans I sell, but that’s about all I can do with gemstones and crystals themselves at this point…although, I’ve been curious about something and wonder if you would want to help?”

“Sure!” he exclaimed immediately. If it would make up for his mistake, he would do whatever she wanted.

“You should at least wait until I say what it is I need help with, but…” She opened her menu with the unique gesture and surfed through her inventory before materializing a single [Small Rough Quartz] and [Engraving Pick]. The cloudy-white, rough crystal fell into her opened palm and she handed it to him. “Here you go.”

Endel looked at it, noting it was a smaller version of what she threw, and the pick. “What is it?”

“A basic and unrefined [Cloudy Small Quartz],” she told him. “That what you’re holding has no other purpose or quality except that it can store prana inside of it. And, because its unrefined and cloudy it can’t hold as much volume as it could otherwise. I want to change that.”

“How so?” Endel asked.

“Basically, the runes work by accessing a system already in place through pouring prana into shapes that fit the pre-set templates, right?” she inquired, to which he nodded. “Then what if you do like how you do with your element and engrave the rune into the crystal?”

He nodded slowly in understanding as he sketched the [Dagaz] rune he was studying before the battle onto the stone and then forced as much of his remaining prana, partially refilled from [Gathering Mana], into the small crystal and rune as fast as he could. “So if we place the rune on the crystal that serves as a source of prana then the crystal should be able to serve as a medium for the rune. So, if I were to use the stone plus a rune that creates light—”

It was at that moment she realized he was overdoing it and tried to stop him. “Wait, that’s too much—”

The rune it was like a newborn star that died in that instant. It shone, generating a pure white light through the conversion of prana into some form luminescence with heat as well, that was quickly snuffed out as the entire crystal was now dust in his hands. Endel shook his hand clean and grimaced at the pain, not noticing his HP went down a bit. “Sorry, it broke.”

She shook her head, instead apologizing to him as she carefully examined his hand. “No, I’m to blame. I underestimated your control when it comes to the transference and flow of prana and how much you would put into it, as well as the fact that the rune would draw out all the power at once and burn out the stone.”

Her face took on a grim expression as she outlined what could have potentially have happened. “It was risky in more than one way because if the rune didn’t release the prana before you managed to reach the threshold of what it could hold, it would have gone off like a firecracker with fragments as shrapnel at that size. Or worse, if your hand was closed it would have blown it off.

His stomach turned at the thought of that and his eyes fell upon his hand that now shook.

“How careless of me not to consider those as possibilities, but….” She materialized a [Medium Clear Quartz], one that was double-terminated, the size of her hand, and clearer than the one before. It was followed by her taking the [Engraving Pick] and using it to engrave something on it while muttering, “If we adjust the flow and transference of the prana so that it can be released when it goes through the first array…”

Endel watched in mild fascination as managed to accurately engrave some sort of semi-elaborate magic circle on it. There were three round layers that were lined through small pathways with one going straight up and out of the multiple layers. She then handed him the crystal and the tool she used to engrave the circle on it.

“This time don’t fill it with prana,” she said.“Etch the rune into the crystal with that in the center of the circle and then give it here.”

“It’s not going to blow up, is it?” he asked, to be safe.

“No, there’s no prana stored inside this time,” she assured him. “The circle’s a basic [Formalcraft] design for handling the output of prana within and object. It was part of my [Gemstone Magecraft Development Tree] after I earned a certain amount of experience in trying to regulate the flow of prana to and from various gemstones. However, since the branch ended there, I would assume any further or more efficient circles would need to be developed or sought out. Just engrave the shape of the rune and this time I’ll handle the process of transference.”

He cautiously drew the rune of daylight again and handed it to her. Taking the crystal into her left hand, she brought her thumb to her mouth and bit down just beneath the tip on the underside to trigger the blood patch into activating and filled the drop with as much prana as would afford to spare in this instance. The blood hit the engraving on the outmost pathway and transferred the prana into it, from which she controlled the flow by the circles acting as filters or regulators and only allowing a trickle of the total amount to seep into the rune at the heart of the array.

The rune shone with a light glow, not the overwhelming flare from before, and illuminated the pair’s visage. It was then a window appeared with a minor fanfare above both of them and they received bonus XP for [Consolidated Magecraft Development]. The bonus was marginally higher than when Endel practiced on his own while Aoili rubbed her chin in thought.

“Interesting,” she said after a moment. “So because we took our own magecraft and worked them into something together, we both receive more XP than if we did it within our own individual systems.”

“I leveled up too,” Endel stated somewhat subdued as his partner for the moment renamed the crystal in her hand and then transferred it over to him to be placed in his [Inventory]. It was named the [Glow Stone]. “Is this really okay for me to have?”

She nodded. “You said that you didn’t have a [Torch] item or similar spell, so it would be more beneficial to you. In addition, now that I have an idea on how to combine these two magecrafts, I can start on a new series of crafts to develop. I hope I’ll be able to count on you in the future for that too, partner?”

He nodded vigorously. “Yeah! I‘d be glad to!”

Continuing their journey Endel noted the air around the grasslands felt moist and wet, and the grass sparsely parted in certain spots to house small pools of water that seemed to multiple and grow in size the further north they went. Small trees began to pop up around the vast greenery that abruptly ended in front of his gaze, leading to the horizon that was starting to turn fuchsia from the sun getting ready to set. As soon as they reached that point he discovered that it was the top of a slope, the grasslands further ahead fell downwards at an angle before evening out.

It eventually came to a stop when it led to a point where it joined the waters of the lake. Dotting the lakes were small islands, each one connected to one another through a bridge to one another, with the initial one on the shore and the final one leading to the shore on the opposite end that led to a mountainous region before the tower.

“It’s over there,” Aoili said, pointing to one island in specific, just before he central island that had a ruin that he could see. “We should be able to find [Fire Agate] there, along the shore of the islands. The stones themselves are easy to find, to the extent they can be bought in certain stores, but we’re looking for a few [Abnormal Fire Agates]. ”

“What’s it do?” Endel asked as they made their way down the slope, past several pools of water that wouldn’t spawn mobs until night fell.

“They have properties that can increase stamina, strength, as well as fairly weak protective properties, an [Abnormal Fire Agate] has a crystal formation inside that can be cut away into a [Druzy Crystal], which can amplify the effects five-fold,” she explained. “I’d like to find three or so before heading back.”


<<Starting City>>

Endri yawned as he walked the streets of the largest city in [Aincrad] and brushed his heavy eyelids with the back of his hands. Night had fallen and it had been time consuming, but he had finally finished producing enough [Vulnerary Salve] to take to the shop keeper and earn his pay. With it he restocked on supplies and poisons before making a stop and picking up something to eat for him and his brother.

Thinking about his nine-year old brother who hadn’t come out of his room, he still wasn’t sure what to do. While he could have the Church-woman watch over him, he couldn’t technically take his supplies away from his inventory. But he had to do something before he got himself hurt sneaking out like that.

He could only imagine his parents worrying over him as they usually did, only this time they would be unable to do anything about their situation and would never know if both of them would wake up until the game was cleared…whenever that was. It could take years and left him stuck in the role of their parents to watch over him.

Their lives were his priority and so he had to do what he had to do to ensure them, even if some considered it cowardly compared to those who traversed the floors at the front lines in search of the boss. He was fine with being on the rear of things, no surprises or unexpected challenges, even if it did get rather boring in the end. It wasn’t like he couldn’t understand his brother's point there, so maybe he’d go with him to the second floor after getting the [Map Data] and just look around like a [Field Trip] or something.

Making it back home he noted the door was still locked to his brother’s room. Out of some measure of respect he knocked on the door, hoping to wake him up if he cried himself to sleep or something. When no answer came after the third set, he overrode the lock as the main renter of the home and opened the door to find the room empty and the window open.

His brother was gone. “Son of a bi—”

The swearword was cut off as he received a private message addressed from his brother. Ignoring the timing, he was more focused on the subject line of the PM. It had only one word: [HELP!!]

Part 2 - End

Prince Charon

Well-Known Member

BTW, are there any pics of the [Throwing Picks] or [Engraving Picks]? The image in my head is either a guitar pick, or something like a thin, metal golf pencil, but I've no idea if either is at all correct.


Well-Known Member
Prince Charon said:

BTW, are there any pics of the [Throwing Picks] or [Engraving Picks]? The image in my head is either a guitar pick, or something like a thin, metal golf pencil, but I've no idea if either is at all correct.
The only image I could find is this one:

Though from what I can see they could be something like this: Or kind of like the senbons in Naruto...
Why is there anyone using crossbows when its been established in the source material, the fic this fic is based on, that the throwing pic is the only built in ranged weapon?
Because range weapons are going to be introduced in Daniel's fic at a later time, and this fic takes place some weeks ahead of the current chapter of FRO.


Well-Known Member
Chapter 1: A Meeting of Five - Part 3
{3,100+ Words}

<<Lake Region>> - An hour prior

Endel found himself kneeling on the shore of one of the islands that littered the area he found himself in, holding the [Glow Stone] over the ground with one hand as he used the other to pick through the piles of [Fire Agate] that they had retrieved to find the one in specific that they were looking for. The player known as [Aoili] to him had shown him what one looked like, the subtle differences between it and the others, but according to her there was about a 1 in a 100 chance of finding them.

So far they had found only one and he was starting to get bored. This led to him absentmindedly throwing the stones that didn’t match what he was looking for into the lake next to him, as far as he could, to entertain himself. It was purely by accident that he hit a water mob and aggro’d it, pulling an [Lesser Axolotl].

The amphibious mob had a wide head and lidless eyes, resembling a cross between a walking fish and a lizard. It was roughly two feet in height and about the same across, coated in a slick black substance and bearing teeth as it opened its maw and charged up the shore towards Endel. Drawing his [Small Sword] he quickly engaged it, avoiding its sluggish charge and bringing the point of his sword across its torso.

From the long gash came a bluish-green ichor that spilled onto the shore as the mob gave a short death throe before it vanished in an explosion of pixels. The mob was weak, but it gave relatively decent XP for the lack of difficulty and the pop rate was fast since mere moments after it had been slain another marker appeared. His interest further peaked, Endel picked up another of the useless stones and tossed it at the marker, reeling in another one and dispatching it with just as much ease as before.

Seeing the opportunity to grind and pass the time, he repeated the process of spotting the distant makers that lurked in the water and slaying the weak mobs when they came to the shore of the island. He had paid no mind to his weapon, which had seen much use that day and had not been tended to, nor did he have any idea that for each one slain it added to an event counter. The invisible counter rose until it reached a threshold and the [Lesser Axolotls] stopped spawning completely for a moment, leaving Endel to toss the unnecessary stones to ease his reoccurring boredom until he saw one marker suddenly springing into existence and took a shot at it in haste, without noting that it was thrice the size of a normal marker.

That was when things went to hell as the marker shifted to hostile and a shriek emerged from the lake that reverberated throughout the area like a bomb being dropped as the fauna of the island shook along with the bones in the young boy’s body. The water shifted, curving around the large creature as it raised its massive head out of the water and fixed its lidless gaze upon the target of its unrelenting aggression and gave another bone-shaking cry. The call seemed to reach all across the lake, and distant markers that should have been out of the pulling range suddenly turned hostile and amassed towards the largest of their kind as it began dragging its massive frame forward.

Aoili arrived from the green behind the young mere moments later, having heard the inhuman shriek. Witnessing the impending threat she inquired into what happened and he quickly confessed what he had done. She noted the name in the distance, [Ruin Axolotl], and that it had two health bars, indicating it was a serious threat, and grabbed the younger boy’s hand and started to run. “Whether it’s a [Flag Mob] or the [Field Boss] for the region doesn’t matter, right now we need to get out of its range before it makes land!”

The pair made for the bridge connecting the island to the others and traversed it. The wooden planks groaned as the pair crossed, only stopping as their [Stamina] ran out as they made it to the end of the bridge. Both were panting as they looked back to see the [Ruin Axolotl’s] hostile marker still growing closer as it traversed the water to reach them and was joined by the [Lesser Axolotls] that had answered its call as though they were [Adds].

“We have to keep moving!” Aoili claimed, only to snap to attention when hostile markers appeared from the fauna ahead of them and more of the weak mobs appeared to cut off their escape. Setting her hand on the hilt of her rapier affixed to her hip, she spanned the world in her view and noted that the numbers were sufficiently high. “It’s a [Trap] after all.”

Taking heavy breaths as his [Stamina] had yet to replenish itself and running was out of the question Endel drew his blade and charged at the ones to his front. The sword was swung with impudence, cleaving through the pair in his way as he said, “We’ll have to cut our way forward! They’re all really weak, so if we keep going we can make it!”

Unable to argue the point, the sound of her blade leaving her sheath was pronounced as she joined him in guarding his rear as they advanced in a straight line through the island, standing their ground once their stamina ran out and waiting until it filled again before sprinting ahead of the largest of the enemies that chased them. They made it across the second bridge in short order and faced more of the same, but there was only one more island to go and they would make landfall and safety.

With that in mind, Endel’s grip on the handle of his sword grew tight enough that he could feel the worn leather that composed it eat into his skin. This was his fault. There was no doubt about that in his mind. After she went of her way to bring him along, all he did was make things worse.

He misjudged the effectiveness of his magecraft and she took a tusk in the back for him. He got bored when all he had to do was fish through the stones to find the one she was looking for after promising to help her, and then he started grinding XP instead. Now they were running for their lives because of him and all he could do was continue to swing his sword—

“Huh?” The sound of confusion came after the unmistakable noise of his [Short Sword] shattering into countless pixels as he brought it through the slimy body of another of the weak mobs. Coming out of his swing off-balanced at the sudden loss, Endel fell to a knee as, almost as if they were laughing at him, the [Lesser Axolotls] made a short and low gurgling sound as they advanced on the young boy staring at his now empty hand.

Aoili stepped in and struck them down in haste in response, standing over him as she checked the durability on her weapon. Behind pursed lips she gritted her teeth as she noticed it had sustained quite a hit and was nearing its end. Something was amiss, but there was no time to focus on that as another shriek shook her to her bones and she looked to the water to witness the [Ruin Axolotl] was nearing them, the speed at which it cut through the water had easily doubled as if some invisible condition had been met.

“Endel-kun,” she called, snapping him out of his frightful gaze at the impending threat as she materialized the largest of the charged quartz she had in stock. “Use your magecraft to clear out the ones to our rear so we can keep running.”

“Uh…right.” Endel stood up and proceeded to summon up the lens that called forth the hoarfrost in controlled bursts, moving it with [Telekinesis] to run it along the incoming trash mobs that hindered their escape. The cold-blooded amphibians seemed to be extra susceptible to the effects of the ice, something he noted as he thinned out their ranks.

Taking largest quartz and utilizing the Throwing Skill, Aoili threw it. The luminous streak marked the path through which it cut through the air towards the impending mob before she snapped her fingers. It ruptured with a roar like dynamite and a flare of prana great enough that it was visible for a moment, like the star in the night, and the [Ruin Axolotl] made a pained noise as it sustained damage, perhaps one-seventh of its health taken.

But, despite the inflicted damage its gaze never left the young boy to her back. Aoili could only conclude that it had marked the original target of its aggression with [Hate], a similar situation to what she had heard from the fake boss of the fifth floor. If that was the case, if she could simply damage it enough to reduce its health to the second bar she could draw its ire and give him a chance to escape before she saved herself…

The thought died as quickly as it came once she spotted it health bar being replenished, regenerating as it crossed the distance. Doing the math of the remaining ten crystals she had and taking into account her weapon’s durability as well as the additional mobs still approaching them, things looked grim but still manageable if she hit it with all of them at once. However, with a final shriek, there was no more time to think as the sensation of prana being pulled from the air and towards the advancing [Ruin Axolotl] made itself known. “It’s using magecraft!?”

Water churned and gathered, piling onto itself at the entrance of its gaping maw as the prana melded with it and brought it under the creature's command. Bundled into a spiraling sphere that soaked in the water in its path, it launched towards the shoreline with impudence and ruptured upon hitting solid land, the prana holding it together releasing it and allowing it to return to its loose and spread natural state in a wave that came crashing down upon that pair.

Swept off her feet by the surge, Aoili’s body ached as it caught itself against a tree and she let out a sharp cry as the impact slammed her shoulder against the unyielding wood that stood strong against her frail body. It hurt, pain radiating throughout her already sore and aching body with every breath as she gasped for air while writhing on the soaked grass at the base of tree. Gritting her teeth, she took hold of the pain and desperately pushed it aside to reach up for the pendant.

Taking shuddering breaths once she felt it was in her grasp, she allowed prana flow into it and be colored by it before she directed it towards the swollen and brushed flesh that was beneath the fabric of her clothing. Relief came quickly, the throbbing agony dulled as it did its work, and she let out a sigh of relief as she brushed the sopping wet hair clinging to her face out of her eyes.

That breath of relief quickly became one of despair as she and witnessed Endel struggling to get onto his knees as the creature entered the shallows of the island and its massive body emerged into clear view. Easily dwarfing them both, the [Ruin Axolotl] had the same shape as its lesser counterparts but was colored pale gold as it cast its shadow deep enough that it swallowed the young boy’s as he desperately clutched near his chest, most likely having something bruised or cracked from the impact of the water slamming into him as well.

Ignoring how it hurt just to breathe, she yelled at the top of her lungs as she witnessed the elongated tail rise up to meet the moon above. “Endel-kun! Move!”

Only able to throw himself to the side in a desperate attempt to avoid being crushed, the massive tail came down like a hammer. His small and frail body was thrown backwards as it crashed down, the moist earth dirtying his clothes and such as he tumbled like a ragdoll. Looking to the corner, where their health bars were displayed, Aoili ignored that fact that she was in the Yellow Zone and instead focused on the fact that he was borderline red and he was barely moving as the enemy began to advance.

Time. She had to buy him time. Taking a deep breath and delving into her already active circuits, Aoili could only pray that the [Reinforcement] spell functioned as it was supposed to as she activated the spell and scooped up her rapier. As the spell took effect, she forced her body to move as fast as possible to intercept the massive creature before it could finish him off with the silver light of a Sword Skill illuminating her rapier.

Crossing the distance in five steps, leaped towards the [Ruin Axolotl] Aoili unleashed the skill [Linear] towards the lidless right eye. The blade plunged deep into the black sphere that was its eye, fluid leaking as it registered a [Critical Hit] and the mob flinched with a shriek of agony. Abandoning the blade where it was, Aoili continued to press forward and took cover in front of the young boy as the mob shook its head fiercely to loosen the wedged blade while its adds continued onwards.

Wasting no time, she materialized multiple quartz crystals of various sizes and qualities and tossed her payload in a spread. Letting them hit the ground before surging prana through the passes she had established before venturing out, the prana grenades ruptured along the wet and moist earth, throwing up clumps of the soil deposits and water that peppered the various amphibians alongside the hard fragment that were carried by the force.

The concurrent explosions served their purpose two-fold. Penetrating deep into the slimy flesh of the weaker [Lesser Axolotls], they sustained the most damage and their numbers were thinned as those within the closest proximity of the detonating gems were devastated by the shockwave and the shrapnel.

Grabbing Endel’s body and holding him fast, Aoili ran into the fauna of the island to seek shelter while she had the opportunity to do so but only making it so far within as her stamina failed her upon reaching a large bolder that rose to twice their height. Clinging to the backside of the rocky protrusion and out of its immediate visual range, which she hoped was its primary sense rather than something like echolocation, Aoili went through her inventory and pulled up the [Concealment Amulet V.3] and materialized it into her right hand. Wrapping her fingers around it until they were closed tightly around it and holding the young boy tight against her, she uttered the words that served as her [Aria] to aid in her concentration as her circuits transferred prana into it. “S-Shroud!”

The words aid her as she cycled prana through the amulet and it then became a small shroud that wavered over their bodies like a second skin, slightly luminous as the prana that was colored by the amulet and given purpose. It worked steady as the [Ruin Axolotl] emerged from behind the outcropping and turned its head left and right. Aoili stilled her own breath, refusing to breathe until, despite being within its sight, they failed to draw its attention and it moved on further down the path.

Only then did she let out a deep breath as the [Reinforcement] spell gave out and pain once again lap at her body.


<<2nd Floor Teleportation Gate – Urubus>>

“So we’ll part here, said a young woman with a soft voice. With her body covered in a [Light Cloak] that fell to her shins and there was a [Steel Naginata] in her hand. “Will you be alright from here on, Sanda-kun?”

Wen Fukazawa, or [Sanda] as he named himself in homage to someone he looked up to, nodded. With a [Black Scarf] wrapped in a bundle over his shoulders and neck, hiding his mouth, he spoke reservedly with his voice somewhat muffled. “I…can’t thank you enough for accompanying me…”

“You sure weren’t much of a conversationalist, that’s for sure,” said the second figure, lifting the rim their [Straw Hat] to reveal a face belonging to an older man in his mid-twenties. Stubble was present on his chin and his black hair was in a ponytail. “Honestly, it felt like we were carrying the conversations ourselves.”

“Sorry,” Sanda apologized sincerely, his eyes downcast.

The older man set a strong hand on his shoulder and sighed. “I was jesting. Come on, you’ve got to stop being so feeble. Wasn’t the reason you gained this Extra Skill was because you wanted to live up to someone else?”

“Still…” The young woman cast her gaze down at the [Iron Gauntlets] he wore, heavy-type equipment typically belonging as part a set of armor. They stood out compared to the rest of his equipment, which was all light armor, scratches and gouges on the metal around the knuckles. “Using the [Martial Arts] exclusively is a bit reckless isn’t it. Are you sure you don’t want to get a set of claw-type weapons instead?”

Sanda looked at his armored fists for a moment and thought. Ultimately, he shook his head. “To be like that person…I need to use my fists. If I hide behind a weapon…well, it would be the same as before.”

The older man scrunched up his chin in thought before smiling and pulling down the rim of his hat to cover his eyes. Setting a hand on the [Steel Katana] affixed to his hip, he then said, “It’s not like we can’t understand that line of thought. Falling into the role of someone else was why we entered the game in the first place. All of the [Ronins] can sympathize with that much.”

The young woman nodded as well, “True, but I can’t help but worry. There were a lot of close calls to this point. ”

“He’ll be fine,” the older man assured his companion. “He gained enough experience partying with us and practicing with [Reinforcement] to go from Level 2 to Level 8. Plus, he pointed out some good things that made the trip profitable for the duration of our stay at that hut. Then again, that’s a Beta Tester for you.”

“Well, I guess you’re right…” Her expression of uncertainty vanished, replaced by warm smile again. “Just be careful. You’re on our [Friend’s List] so you can send us a message any time.”

He gave single nod. “Farewell, Sakamoto-san. Nakano-san.”

With that said he accessed the teleportation gate and was swept away from the second floor.

Part 3 - End


Well-Known Member
Chapter 1: A Meeting of Five - Part 4
{2,200+ Words}

With Endel

Endel ached as his consciousness surfaced, the sharp breath he drew in being his first one as his senses returned. The chilled air flowed down into his lungs and made him aware of the agony spread across his entire being, with the right side of his chest especially painful. As his lungs expanded and pressed against the source of that pain, he coughed violently at the burst of pain that followed.

Memory came before sight, his recollection of the weight of the water crashing down upon him followed by the massive tail leaving his small body in such a condition. He lurched forward at it, as if seeking to double over from the pain. But his body was caught by something and stilled him.

“Open your eyes, Endel-kun,” said a soft voice, beckoning him from the memory. He did so, coming across a pair of grateful amethyst-eyes that was joined by a somber looking smile. It was Aoili. “Thank goodness, you’re awake at last.”

Endel opened his mouth to say something, but the sound of crashing wood and something hard trampling the ground made her go silent and she covered his mouth while reaching for a pendant that he hadn’t seen before and saying…something. His senses blinked for the moment, his consciousness still weak and fleeting. But one thing he noticed was that she looked terrified as a large blur passed by while his vision was unfocused.

Only when the noise became distant did so breath out a breath she had been holding and removed the had she hand on his mouth. “Sorry, but it can only dampen sight and not sound. Anything that makes you stand out too much will break the concealment. Whatever variable is being used to mark you as its target of aggression hasn’t gone away, at least not until you can get out of its perimeter and it resets, so the boss circles around every five or so minutes searching for us.”

That was the boss…Endel thought, recalling the terror he felt. He almost jumped up, but agony over took his body and he trembled with a cry as the young woman held him still.

“Don’t move!” she ordered, holding him tight against her body. “You took a lot of damage and it’s taking time to heal. Moving now will only make things worse, Endel-kun.”

“I-it’ll find us…” he muttered weakly. He was scared.

“Extending the concealment amulet’s effects will hide us both as long as you stay close,” she explained in a controlled and low tone, despite the fact that as close as he was to her he could hear her heart beating rampantly. “But I can’t move very fast like this while maintaining my concentration to cover the two of us and I need to finish healing you.”

Listening carefully they could still hear the sound of the ground and fauna being trampled upon by the [Ruin Axolotl] circling the island looking for them. The noise made him want to instinctively reach for his sword, but then he recalled it had shattered while he was killing the adds.

…For starters you always rush headlong into things without thinking about the consequences… That was what his brother told him earlier that day. Hindsight was something that he rarely had due to his age, but looking back now it seemed to be clear there was truth to be had there.

The young boy’s entire body trembled as he clenched his eyes shut in an effort to stem the tears. He felt scared, in hostile territory without a weapon. He felt guilty, having dragged this woman who allowed him to come out this far and kept him safe into this mess. Taking a deep breath that made him shudder, he told her, “I’m sorry.”

She gave him gentle look as she applied the healing pendant to his body and relief slowly flooded him, trickling in. “For what?”

“For everything,” he whined, his voice cracking. “I should have listened to him…to my brother. He told me I…I never thought about the consequences…that this wasn’t just a game. If I had just listened to him…and now I can’t even…tell him I’m sorry in person…this is my fault.”

Letting out a soft breath, Aoili’s expression softened as she lightly rubbed his head to comfort him. For the briefest of moments she recalled her own friend who had chided her for playing along in the game, before she came to a decision. “I have two quartz left that I can use as grenades once I finish healing you…I’m going to use them to clear out the bridge while you use the amulet to hide yourself as you cross it. You should be able to make it out of the area and send him a PM for help.”

He shook his head, realizing the implications. “If I do that you won’t have any way to get back yourself. If its [Hate] resets…it’ll target you next without any way to defend yourself. It’s only after me, so if I…”

“I’m not leaving you behind,” she stated. “I brought you along so something like this didn’t happen, and I failed. There isn’t any other way, not before the boss catches us when the amulet breaks eventually, and we can’t lure anyone else here with the boss and adds being capable of damaging weapons on contact.”

“My brother can do it,” Endel stated as he made the motions for menu to open and to type in a message. He flinched though, the pain briefly flaring as it hurt to move.

She held him still. “Don’t move yet.”

“He’s past level ten,” Endel stated. “He uses crossbows and he can bring stuff to help us, like weapons. At least to help us get away.”

Aoili grimaced at the thought. True, if they could get weapons and maybe some more quartz, they could stand a chance or at least get away. As a [Flag Mob] on the first floor, it wasn’t impossible for a party of four or three if strong enough to take it. Long-Range weapons and magecraft would be their best bets.

But she’d hate to place someone else in trouble for her sake. But then again it wasn’t just her here, now was it? She let out a tense breath and agreed. “When the boss passes by again we’ll send the messages. I’ll hopefully be able to reach a contact of mine and be able give him a spare weapon for me or at least some extra gems.”

If she answers the PM, a less than optimistic voice whispered in the back of her mind.


1st Floor – <<Central Plaza>> of <<Starting City>>

Yumina stood with her back rigid as she waited from the arrival of the person that Aoili said to give the gems she had left over to upon his arrival and cheap rapier. When they started out she herself had one, but switched to the spear quickly on the first day to put distance between her and the monsters. She hadn’t sold any of them, so she still had them in her inventory.

As the cold of the night seemed to nip at her exposed legs, her hand that held the spear she had trembled in knowing that Aoili was in trouble. She knew something like that would happen and it did. And there was nothing she could do about it but give some equipment to player she knew nothing about and trust that he would get her back safely.

Her gaze fell upon a young man matching the description Aoili mention in the PM, just arriving at the near empty plaza and coming towards her.

“Are you [Yumina]?” he asked. When she nodded he promptly opened the trade window between them to get the equipment without banter or any dialogue. Not even any assurance that he was going to bring her back. It didn’t sit well with her, like she couldn’t get a feel for who he was without some context beyond his hair being abnormally colored.

How could she trust someone like this to bring her beloved friend back? She finished the trade and said, “I’m coming with you.”

He gave her an inquisitive look, taking in her equipment and noting it was that of starter gear. While some players liked to have certain clothing for the sake of appearance rather than practicality, she didn’t carry herself like someone good with a spear after being in the game for months. “What Level are you and are you good with any particular Magecraft?”

“Level 4 and I know how to use [Gemcraft],” she stated.

While Endri wasn’t familiar with that particular brand of magecraft, it was the tone of her voice that gave him his doubts…that, and the fact that she was way too low of a level to be of any use to him. After a moment of just staring at her with his forest-green eyes, judging her, he shook his head. “You might be better off staying here then. The level recommended for the area is 7 at least and there’s a Boss of some kind there, in addition to adds. No sense in having extra blood on my hands and you can’t move fast enough to keep up.”

Endri turned to continue to advance to the gate, only to come to a sudden stop as the neck of his green cloak choked him. He turned back to see Yumina clinging to it, He sighed at the sight and asked, “What now?”

“You think I’m unaware of being under-leveled or ill-prepared?” she inquired, her tone laced with anger. She was mad, to say the least, of someone looking down on her for not playing this game of the madman who trapped her in here. She didn’t want to play, she didn’t want to risk her life, and she didn’t like the pain that was associated with using the game’s magic system.

But Aoili needed her for once. Even if they hadn’t spoken to one another for a time, after all the years they’d known each other and Aoili never once asked for anything in return, she reached out and pleaded with her for help to at least save the boy. Yumina was afraid, but if she let Aoili die after her first cry for help…what would be the point in staying alive then because she abandoned her to die?

She was going. Even if she had to run out and save her on her own, she would do it. “I’m going to save my friend, whether you take me or not. If you won’t let me come then just give me the map data so I can go myself without running all over this Godforsaken place trying to get there before it’s too late!”

“Troublesome…” Endri scratched his cheek and thought it over, before he sighed again. Technically speaking, he could easily ditch her. But if she ran off and got herself killed his brother would probably blame himself for that since this was his self-admitted fault. “Fine, we’ll party up. I can’t stop you one way or another, but at least this way the odds of getting something done increases rather than adding to the number of missing persons.”

She released him at that point, and he opened up his menu to send a party invitation. He then factually added, “Still, it would be better to have an extra member with more experience.”

“If you don’t mind, I’ll join you,” spoke another player, standing next to the teleportation gate. They both turned their heads to see a black-scarf wearing player walking forward from the teleportation gate. “I was just coming in and heard her yelling…I think I’ve got the jist of everything. I’ll be the extra person. ”

“Reinforcements only make a difference when they don’t get killed in a single hit,” Endri stated, shooting a glance at Yumina. “I’m not taking on anymore dead weight, so what’s your Level and Magecraft?”

“I’ve been practicing with [Reinforcement] for a bit, to where I can do it safely and enhance my entire body, as well as others,” he stated. “Level-wise, I’m Level 8.”

“Not bad, not bad,” Endri admitted. But to be sure he understood the risks, he added, “We’ll probably be running up against a [Flag Mob] that’s capable of regeneration and potentially a dozen of trash mobs accompanying it. Are you willing to risk your life when you have no stake in this otherwise?”

The player’s closed in thought for a moment. Then he nodded and spoke with resolve. “I…don’t want to be a coward anymore. I can help, so I will.”

“Better odds than before, I suppose…” Endri extended a party invite to him as well, which was accepted. Thus he saw that the black-haired player with a scarf covering his lower face was named [Sanda]. “But let’s get this straight, both of you. I’m calling the shots since I’m the highest level at 11 and I know the way there. Got it?”

They both nodded, not really being able to argue with him on that point. With that settled, Endri turned towards the direction of the gate with the two others on his back. Pulling the hood of his cloak over his head, he said, “Let’s go then.”

Chapter 1 - End


KING (In Land of Blind)
Staff member
Yasumi is... she's nice, responsible, and brave. I really like her character. But... she also seems a little quick to be self-sacrificing, huh? Well, that might be a flaw in its own way.

Compared to that, Chikashi is more standoffish, and seems prone to saying things that get under people's skin just for the sheer hell of it. (That might be something he needs to fix to grow as a person?) But... he also seems better at being responsible, because his instinct is to make plans. So his nature as an "asshole" is redeemed by his sincere and effective responsibility.

Sanda joined the party... too quickly?

Also I half-feel like he talks like he's playing a character in a period drama about samurai; since that seemed to be a shtick for the [Ronin] guild though, I guess my advice is dial it up a little if it's intentional or re-think his dialogue if it's not.

Like, maybe you should make Chikashi a little more suspicious that someone is just wandering up to help, at the same time that he's hopeful that they actually could be help.

Also, the Endel/Ken thing reminded me; I think it would be better to have everyone referred to by their SAO name only, unless using their IRL name is worth making the reader keep track of twice as many names. That's up to your judgement though.

On the whole it's moving along well; I like it.


Well-Known Member
Well, originally I was going to have another break scene after he volunteered where it shows him arriving and overhearing their situation. He then thinks to himself about what he can do and wonders if he would run away like he did in the past, referencing his change was to distance himself from that and put him on the same level of the person he emulated that he sees as someone who would do that.

But I got lazy and decided I was going to move it to the beginning of the next chapter, when he reinforces himself and then Yumina, who still struggles to keep up because their agility is higher than hers under the same circumstances, so when they come across the mobs Chikashi decides to ensnare them and let her finish them so she could level up fast enough along the way to be more useful (and she wouldn't just let one of them carry her as they ran).

I'll revise the story to remove the real names except for when they are first introduced this weekend, although looking over it I think 14,000+ words for the first chapter may have been a little too long...

Edit: And done.


Well-Known Member
Chapter 2: Collaboration - Part 1
{3,145 Words}

1st Floor – <<Starting City>>
The sensation of traveling through the warp gate was something Sanda couldn’t get used to just yet. He felt his body turning into the air itself, a sense of weightlessness overtaking him as he moved in the same sense of someone in an elevator would but with limitless freedom, only to suddenly feel like he was lead as his body reformed on the first floor, inside <<Starting City>>. It was disorientating, but he supposed he would have to get used to it if he was going to live up to his namesake.

Looking around, he saw that the city was rather placid now that night had fallen and the number of player participation had risen in so they hung out on higher floors. There were still the occasional players every now and then, but aside from the assortment of NPCs that appeared during this time in specific, it was rather empty. Thus he felt a bit surprised to see that, past the cloister of closed stalls and stands that would come to life in the morning, there were two players standing there.

Well, to be more accurate, the male with orange hair and a green cloak was being held in place by the young woman holding his cloak, her face twisted in anger as she screamed out how she knew she was under-leveled but she was going to save her friend. The guy sighed and scratched his cheek in thought.

Sanda bit his lip behind his scarf. From what he gathered they needed help to rescue some other people. Was this a chance for him to do some good for once in his life? He took a step forward and opened his mouth to volunteer to help them, but the words wouldn’t come out.

In fact his legs were shaking as doubt filled him. He would probably just get in the way or they wouldn’t want his help. They’d probably tell him it was none of his business and to get lost. It had been done before, in the past. The desire to shirk away was palpable and he almost did so, walking away like it wasn’t his problem…

But he took a deep breath and crushed that desire down mercilessly. The coward was [Wen Fukazawa] back in the other world. Here, in what was now his reality, he was [Sanda]. He was a player who offered a hand to those who needed it even if it meant he would be risking his life.

That was who he was now. That was why he took up his gauntlets, why he went to the second floor and regained the same <<Extra Skill>> he had from the Beta, and why he came to the game in the first place. It was better to die as someone who tried doing the right thing than being a coward.

“Still, it would be better to have an extra member with more experience,” the male player said. An opening if he ever heard one. They needed at least another pair of hands and he had a decent amount of experience as a Beta-Player and as someone who was level 8.

“If you don’t mind, I’ll join you,” he said as calmly as he could, though his clenched fists trembled. There. No going back now. “I was just coming in and heard her yelling…I think I’ve got the jist of everything. I’ll be the extra person. ”

“Reinforcements only make a difference when they don’t get killed in a single hit,” the orange-haired player stated. The look he gave the girl wearing starter gear made it clear who he was referring to. “I’m not taking on anymore dead weight, so what’s your Level and Magecraft?”

“I’ve been practicing with [Reinforcement] for a bit, to where I can do it safely and enhance my entire body, as well as others,” Sanda stated. He was thankful that Nakano-san let him practice on her during their time in the same party. “Level-wise, I’m Level 8.”

“Not bad, not bad,” the orange-haired player mused. “We’ll probably be running up against a [Flag Mob] that’s capable of regeneration and potentially a dozen trash mobs accompanying it. Are you willing to risk your life when you have no stake in this otherwise?”

Hearing it was a [Flag Mob] gave him pause and he closed his eyes. Sometimes they were manageable as a threat proportionate to the estimated level-cap of the floor, other times they were stronger than bosses five floors up. But… but that didn’t matter if it meant he could help someone. He had to do it.

Sanda nodded and acknowledged the risk he was taking. “I…don’t want to be a coward anymore. I can help, so I will.”

“Better odds than before, I suppose…” When the party invite came he saw their names, [Endri] and [Yumina]. He accepted it, joining the three of them as one unit. “But let’s get this straight, both of you. I’m calling the shots since I’m the highest level at 11 and I know the way there. Got it?”

Sanda nodded. While he knew the way there himself, truth be told he wasn’t sure he could willingly take the lead. There was too much at stake, having not only his life but their lives and their friends’ lives on the line. Shameful as it was to admit it, if something went wrong at least this way it wouldn’t be all on him.

“Let’s go,” Endri said as he pulled on the hood of his green cloak after turning towards the gate. Then he addressed Sanda. “We’ll need to keep pace. Can you [Reinforce] her and yourself?”

Sanda nodded. “As you wish.”

Endri then closed his eyes beneath his hood and whispered something in a voice too low to hear before activating [Reinforce Agility]. There was a faint scent, a minor tinge that his nose registered coming from the prana that was centered on the orange-haired player’s legs. It was woodsy if Sanda had to place a name to the scent, like that of the plants his parents kept around the house.

Sanda himself then activated his own circuits and drowned his scent out with his own. The sensation was that of pain, a familiar pain that he’d experienced many times over the year before he even got to SAO. It was a punch to the face, the moment where the impact shook his world as everything in his vision flashed. The pain spread, rippling from his head to his feet as the circuit kicked open in response.

Mana was drawn to him, seeping into his skin and then into his circuits, filling them with the invisible energy of the world that turned him into a magus. The MP meter was soon topped and he cut the circuit off from taking in more than he could handle. Next was the [Reinforcement].

He didn’t have a verbal [Aria] like a few other players had. Instead he slammed his armored fists together, the impact and sound of steel meeting steel serving as the trigger as the shockwave of prana passed from his hands to his arms and the rest of his body, swaddling it with the nebulous energy and filling in the gaps.

Reinforced to be stronger, faster, better, he felt powerful. He then looked to the female of the group, Yumina. She looked nervous. “Try to relax as I do this, or your body might try and reject it and cause damage.”

She closed her eyes and nodded.

There was still tension when he touched her shoulders. He gave her a moment before sinking his prana into her, letting it strengthen her slowly and carefully since he wasn’t sure what kind of build she had and her level was so low. Once he judged she couldn’t take it anymore, he broke it off and asked. “How’s that?”

“Fine,” she said, wincing. “I guess. I never used this spell more than twice but it seems to be working…”

Sanda’s ears picked up the sigh coming from Endri at hearing that, but he only told them to get moving out loud. They left the gates behind, Endri taking the lead as he rushed forward like a gale was at his back. Even though there was a difference in their levels by three, the distance he pulled ahead was still quite far. He must’ve been a speed-based player, a build of probably 1:4 strength:agility if Sanda had to guess.

But at the edge of his vision he could see mobs coming ahead, [Fury Boars]. Basic mobs had some deviation in their levels depending on the floor and the time of day. These basic boars were level one near <<Starting City>> and level three further away from it, but at night they were level two and five respectively. While not a great threat to them, they would be a threat to their lagging party member, who was already at the distance of his vision and struggling to catch up.

Endri didn’t break his stride, his focus elsewhere. He simply shot the nearest boar targeting him in the head with a crossbow bolt and dashed past it as it died and broke into luminescent pixels. Given his level, it probably would stand that his [Stamina] was high enough so that he could get out of the aggro range before he needed to catch his breath.

Sanda could probably do the same, but Yumina had already stopped. Her stamina was probably worn out and needed to be replenished. She was too low a level to take them all on…but since she was part of the party she would gain experience regardless.

“Right…” Sanda skidded to a stop as the first of the remaining boars charged him. It was a fairly straight-forward rush, easy to counter when you had a blade by simply stepping to the side and letting it drag itself across the sharpened edge. All he had was his body, so it would require a little more effort. As it sped past him, he spun on his pivoting foot and brought his fist around, using the motion to launch a deep punch.

Because he was fighting with what was defensive equipment mostly, it didn’t give him any extra strength. But, his level and strength stat, which was bolstered by the spell, made it more than enough to wipe the mob in a single strike. Before it even dispersed into pixels he moved on to the remaining ones while using his fists for powerful strikes, ignoring the [Skills] of his class since they had too much of a charge time.

With them dealt with he waited until he saw the lagging player come into view, allowing his [Stamina] to refill, and advancing slowly to keep her track of her just in case any of the mobs respawned too quickly. It was tiring, he would admit, to be babysitting her for a lack of a better term.
But, seeing the look on her face as they were leaving her in the dust, Sanda felt as though he was looking at himself. Back in the real-world, during Gym. Forced to run a track thrice, his lungs burning in agony while his legs suffered the same, others would mock him as they passed him by.
He wasn’t like them. Here he was better, stronger, and the strong protected the weak…no, that wasn’t it. They guided the weak so that they themselves could become stronger.

She needed guidance more than the crossbow-user and he figured that Endri was doing just fine even though he was out of their line of sight most of the time because his health was still untouched and they occasionally ran into bursts of XP from the mobs he killed on his way. According to the map he was making for a straight line to the <<Lake Region>> with few breaks in-between. The number of breaks, pauses in movement, became more pronounced as he got closer to the northeast region until he eventually took some damage.

Sanda broke his usual pattern of ensuring his weaker party member was safe to catch up to see what threat could have injured him, her current pace leaving her out of range of any mobs until he could assess the situation and respond if necessary. When he caught up to Endri, he saw the green-clad player dealing with a stray [Armor Scavenger], level six given the location since they were too far <<Tolbana>>. Was it because it was night time?

Endri sported a bruise on his cheek as he fired a crossbow bolt that was blocked by the shield it had, the wooden bolt unable to pierce the metal enough to damage it. He probably got bashed by it while trying to get past. It would explain the mark that was starting to swell.

Endri clicked his teeth as he touched the next bolt and dragged his fingers along the length for a good moment before firing it. The bolt managed to rip through the cheap metal that made up its shield this time, but it only barely punctured its chest before breaking into pixels. Even reinforced the wooden bolt wasn’t enough to get through both layers of defense.

“Switch,” Sanda said as he blew past the crossbow-user as the [Armor Scavenger] held its shield forward and began to charge for a [Shield Bash] variant. With his fist held close to his chest he stopped and stepped out with his left foot, using it as a pivot point to avoid the attack and get to the mob’s opened side. Bringing his armored fist around he delivered a vicious hook towards the head of the mob, causing blunt damage as its head jerked to the side.

The kobold variant brought its mace-wielding hand around, the steel in it going for a horizontal swipe to bludgeon his skull in response to the blow. Sanda dipped, his scarf’s tail lingering for a moment as the swipe passed harmlessly and then he came up with an uppercut, smashing it from below the chin. The [Armor Scavenger] tanked it and then swept back again with the mace, but Sanda’s right gauntlet came up and stopped its arm from moving further while his left fist crossed its head that staggered it to the side for a moment. His right fist followed up, denting the helmet that covered its head, and an uppercut from the chambered left fist knocked the entire thing clean off. The mob’s head was exposed, a murderous gaze cast on the boxer with armored fists.

The look made him pause, being so close, and the mob shoved its shield into his body to knock him back. Sanda’s balance was compromised and it left him open. If there was one thing he’d learned while on the second floor, sparing with the mobs and Sakamoto during the lull between getting the <<Martial Arts Extra Skill>> and leveling up, it was he never wanted to be off-balanced and up-close. He backed away in two quick leaps and readied himself as the [Armor Scavenger] readied another [Shield Bash].

The attack was canceled as the mob’s head jerked to the side as something slammed into it. It tumbled to the ground, lifeless, as pale fluid leaked from its skull where a crossbow bolt had pierced it’s skull from the side. The mob broke into a shower of blue pixels and vanished then.

“I would’ve helped sooner, but you seemed to have it handled with another two or so hits.” Endri said. The swollen cheek was now back to normal, Sanda noted. Did he heal it somehow? “That shield was hard to get around and reinforcing arrows individually isn’t very efficient, not to mention my [Stamina] had run out…”

“If your bolt could pierce the shield before when you reinforced it a moment ago, I think… why didn’t you just reinforce the crossbow with it to increase the force?” Sanda asked, ignoring the experience and notification that he got the helmet that the mob lost as a drop.

“Crossbows are amongst the most complicated weapons due to all the parts,” Endri explained. “The different parts of it have to be reinforced at different values because the materials are different. If I reinforced the string too much then it might snap and if I do the frame it might break apart. The lever, the trigger, etc… the bolts are meant to be disposable and expendable, so it’s less of a risk.”

Sanda didn’t know that. Ranged weapons weren’t part of the game when he played it at the time. Too many complications when it came to them. He just nodded.

Endri pulled up the map screen, displaying the floor as well as the party member locations. They made good distance, but the <<Lake Region>> was still fairly far away. Yumina was still a bit away, maybe a minute running.

“She’s too slow,” Endri said tersely, the displeasure in his voice evident. “I should have left her behind, but she has the equipment….”

Sanda wanted to say that it couldn’t be helped, but he kept his mouth shut. There wasn’t much to it, but they were a party. At least for now. Instead he sniffed the air and noticed the woodsy scent coming from Endri as he refreshed his [Reinforce Agility].

“I’m going to run and get her, refresh your spell and get ready to get back to running,” he said. Then he took off, cloak billowing in the wind as he sped off towards where Yumina was.

Sanda took a deep breath and felt the spell about done after all. He slammed his fists together as the [Aria] he had chosen for that particular spell and let it take hold. It was comforting to an extent actually, being draped in the [Ether-based Reinforcement].

Since the spell was actually affected by the element of the caster to an extent, so him having the Ether element provided him with the boon of being able to affect things that could be affected by the element. At least that’s what he guessed. He hadn’t run against an enemy that was particularly only harmed by Ether, although he supposed the slimes on the fourth floor would count to an extent.

Before he could dwell on the thought of whether or not he should be grateful for not having to go against something like that, his ears perked as he heard the string of foul words and complaints coming from behind him. Endri had Yumina over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes as he ran, the weight slowing him down to around Sanda’s level. It…was honestly a decent idea that he should have thought of since it would have kept them together and her safe.

Although if she lived up to the threat of slapping the orange-haired player like she kept yelling it was probably for the best. Either way, Sanda moved and chased after the pair.

Part 1 - End


Well-Known Member
... between getting the <<Marital Arts Extra Skill>> and leveling up, ...

TeeHee ^_^


Well-Known Member
Interesting so far.

Is this limited to just your story, or is it a good place to post other Midliner stories as well?


Well-Known Member
Chapter 2: Collaboration - Part 2
{2,435 Words}

“Tsk!” Endri let slip from his clenched teeth as he came to a halt and tossed aside the spear-user who was perched on his shoulder to this point. They spotted a pack of mobs, [Lesser Dark Wolves] being led by a [Greater Dark Wolf], too many to fight head-on without the leader of the pack free to pick one of them off as they handled the lightweights and going one-by-one would take some time.

“We need to break through,” Sanda said, contrary to common-sense. He took the look the orange-haired archer gave him as a cue to continue. “We’ll end up running into other mobs like the [Lizard Scavengers] if we go around. And it would waste time we don’t have.”

“And you know this how?” Endri asked.

“I… spent a lot of nights here during the Beta,” he explained vaguely. These two weren’t the same type of gamer that he was, someone who used it as an escape and gladly stayed up past midnight to bask in the artificial breeze of the nighttime air. He didn’t want to come off as some sort of loser, not while he bore the name he did. “While the enemies have changed to include the magecraft patch somewhat, a lot of the basic ones have kept the same patterns when it comes to movement and patrols.”

“Hmmm…..” The archer’s hand drifted down to where he had a satchel to be used by his magecraft. The wind blew past them, making the grass roll like waves of green tipped with silver as the artificial moon shone down on them. He frowned. “Damn, if they were closer then we could do this quick and easy.”

“Why?” Sanda asked.

“I have a trap spell that works using a medium.” He patted the pouch for emphasis. “It takes a long time to make and the yield is very little by comparison. But if I can catch them we can bind the entire group for a minute, long enough to kill them.”

“But if you get closer they might notice and it requires set-up time?” Sanda guessed.

He nodded. “I wouldn’t mind using it, but since I have to seed an area it’s only worth it if we catch as many as possible by luring them all into the same area. You wouldn’t happen to have some sort of wide-range attack to pull that off, would you?”

“Not me, but…” Sanda looked to the girl in the starting gear and asked, “From what I’ve heard, Gemcraft-user can use them for long-distance assaults and elemental attacks. Can you?”

“Umm…” She opened her menu and checked her inventory. “I can use the basic gemstones. I remember being shown how to do it, charging it and then making it explode, but it’ll just do splash damage with the fragments.”

“Congratulations, you’re useful now,” Endri said as he grabbed the satchel with his left hand and his crossbow with his right. “Toss a handful of them then and make it rain when I give the word.”

She growled at the command. Or rather the insinuation that she was useless until this point. But she pulled some of the stones from her inventory as told.

“Here we go!” With an underhand toss he sent the satchel in a high arch that focused on height over distance. He waited until it reached the peak of its climb before he took aim. Then, while it was in the air, he sent a crossbow bolt into it.

The bag ruptured and showered its contents below. Ash fell like snow, gray flakes falling down and gently peppering a wide area of the grassland between them and the wolves. The trap was set. “Now!”

Yumina let the System Assist guide her hand as she reeled back a handful of the low quality gemstone and let them fly like white comets with thinning tails. The stones streaked forward before there was a rupturing noise as the hard stones broke from the inside and scattered, a spray of shrapnel propelled from the pressure being unleashed into a shower.

The Dark Wolves gave a shrill yelp as they were pelted, instantly turning hostile towards the one who unleashed the attack. Jet-black paws dug into the earth and then lunged for her. Sanda put his fists up in preparation as Yumina backed away, seeing the bestial rage in their eyes.

“Flourish!” Endri, on the other hand, began an incantation. “I plead the goddess of the earth, Macha! The sprouts of grass shall become fetters and bind! Reimbrioch!”

The ashes that were scattered about the grass became illuminated by a viridian hue. The blades of grass lengthened and strengthened, swaying at the behest of the archer. Like chains they wound around ankles and calves, snaring the wolves by their throats and lashing around their snouts.

[Druid Magecraft] was made available after the fourth floor was cleared and [Blood was enabled]. It was taught by a [Wandering Druid NPC] on certain floors. As it was an [Oral Tradition] it was learned via [Conversation] once and recorded to be recited later or passed along.

Having a [Wood Element] made it suit Endri well, as the ashes were formerly woodchips marked by marked by the Ogham Letter rune ‘Sallie’, which were a system much like the Nordic runes his brother used, and dropped in a small cauldron of blood that stained the letters with prana inside the blood. Absorbing the prana over the course of four days bound the wood chips with the [Alteration] properties of [Flexibility] from the letter.

The ashes kept that property and would pass it onto the flora to create a Pass between them and the original prana-source from the blood. The incantation was the activation, the self-hypnosis, and as it was said prana flowed through the Pass between him and the ashes and influenced the grass’ growth and strength and movement.

Bound as they were by the [Reimbrioch: Fetters of the Green] spell, they were sitting ducks. However, for all of the mobs that were bound, the [Greater Dark Wolf] was not hindered. Agile as the wind and just as fleeting, it slipped through the lashing chains of the green like a black blur and sped towards the group, eyes focused on Yumina as the one who earned Aggro.

Facing those bloodshot eyes, fear boiled up in her blood. Her heart hammered away at her ribcage, desperate to escape, while her feet remained paralyzed and fixed to the ground. All she could do was scream as the mass of bestial fur and muscle lunged, baring fangs and claws that would take her life away.

It was then there was a flash of phantasmal silver as a blur moved in front of her and met with the wolf. With the sound on something hard meeting flesh, there was a yelp as the wolf fell to the grass and then rose again, eyes now fixed on the scarf-wearing boxer now in front of her. One of his fists was still outstretched, the glow of the [Flash Hit] skill fading out.

The wolf snarled at the ethereal boxer, only to bound backwards as a crossbow bolt planted itself in the earth where it had been an instant ago. The green-clad archer chambered another bolt.

“Go and handle the ones that are snared,” he ordered as he took another shot, only for it to miss as the wolf moved again. “You can handle those, right? It’s not like they can fight back and they’ll keep coming after you if we have to waste time.”

Yumina’s lips pursed and hid her clenched teeth as she tightened her grip on the spear. She turned to the bound wolves and approached them with caution until she neared the closest one. It narrowed its eyes and tried to reach her, making her flinch despite the grass keeping it in place. Raising her spear and closing her eyes, she hacked away at it and shook at the sound of flesh being split, the spear almost falling from her hand in disgust at the wet noise.

She barely made it through one before a pained cry reached her ears and she turned her head towards the sound. The boxer was kneeling on one foot, three weeping red lines drawn over his chest where claws had torn through the ultra-thin armor he wore. The wolf was making its way back to him, a single crossbow bolt piercing its back and another landing near its feet.

“Knuckle Up,” she heard come from beneath the scarf. Prana seeped out on his hands to form a silver, ethereal shroud as he clenched his fingers into fists and rose again. As the wolf came in for the kill once more, he took a step back. Then he charged it.

For a second it looked like they were going to clash headfirst with one another. But then he angled his left foot as it lunged forward, coming in at an angle while it leapt for his throat. It would’ve pass over his right shoulder as it was, but he twisted at the waist as he brought his fist up and the silvery trail left behind that marked its path came to a halt as it slammed into the underside of the wolf’s head and sent it spiraling. The mass of black fur and muscle tumbled to the ground and then struggled to stand on all fours before its health bar emptied and it collapsed into flecks of light, spelling its defeat.

With his foe vanquished Sanda let the shroud covering his fists drop and then clenched at his chest, heaving. Turning his head towards the archer, he asked, “You wouldn’t happen to know a healing spell, would you?”

“No, but this works just as well,” Endri said as he tossed a container of something towards Sanda. As the boxer opened the container to see it contained a [Vulnerary Balm] the druid noticed the wolves still bound and clicked his teeth. . Withdrawing his dagger from its sheath he marched past her and proceeded to use the blade to slaughter the closest bound wolf.

Yumina turned her head from the sight and then back to the boxer. His chest was smoking from where the cream was applied as the wound was patched up almost instantly, flesh growing over the opening and stemming the flow of blood. He rose to his feet and then marched towards the other bound mobs to help get rid of them before the bindings broke.

“I didn’t want her coming exactly for this reason,” Endri said once they dispatched the last one. “She doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

Yumina felt the need to defend herself and said, “I didn’t ask to be stuck in this stupid game.”

“No one asked to be trapped inside of here, but that’s the reality of it.” The archer gestured to the boxer and himself. “We at least acknowledge that and make an effort to survive. But not only is it obvious you haven’t, but you forced yourself onto the team despite knowing that and are slowing us down.”

“You don’t know anything about me,” she retorted.

“Doesn’t change that you’re dead weight,” Endri put bluntly. Then he turned back towards the direction of their destination and kneeled, reapplying [Reinforce Agility]. He rose and looked back to the boxer and said, “You carry her this time. I’m running ahead.”

They watched as he tore out of there, darting ahead without looking back as his figure grew smaller in the distance. Sanda scratched the back of his head before approaching her. “Umm, can you—”

“Don’t touch me!” she snapped. He came to a stop at that, seeing her trembling with rage as the spear had clenched the weapon with a white-knuckled grip. “I don’t need to be babysat and carried like some child! I can walk on my own! Just go!”

“You shouldn’t let your pride interfere with your objective,” was all he said, his voice calm rather than biting. “We need to hurry to save your friend and his brother. And the fact is that we’re faster than you.”

She planted her spear into the ground and shook her head, her hair coming down like a curtain to block her vision. “I… I just can’t get used to this. It feels wrong. Stabbing into them and… feeling their bodies splitting apart and… and the blood….”

He stayed silent, thinking of what to say carefully. It wasn’t like he had experience in comforting others. All he could was wonder what his namesake would do or say.

She continued uninterrupted. “I came into the game at first because I wanted to spend time with her like a good friend should, not because I liked it. It was just particles and data and stuff before and there was no real threat. But now…”

Taking a moment, he licked his lips beneath his scarf and asked, “Why did you want to come out here in the first place?”

“I… I want to save my friend,” she confessed, falling to her knees while gripping the spear haft. “I want to apologize for letting her go off on her own because I was too scared to leave the safe zone. Because I accused her of enjoying being trapped like animals in this madman’s game.”

The sound of the grass being crunched underfoot made her look up to see him standing in front of her, a hand extended towards her with the palm up. “Then let’s go do that,” he said. “Let me help you get there so you can be the first person she sees. That’ll be enough, I’m sure. She’ll understand just how much you were worried.”

“But that jerk is right,” she murmured. “I’m… I’m useless.”

“Despite what he said earlier, you aren’t useless,” Sanda retorted. “If it weren’t for your gemstones we wouldn’t have been able to even clear them out that fast. We all have things we can do, even if we don’t know just what that is. So…”

For a moment he wondered if the advice he was giving was any good. But she reached up from the spear and grabbed his hand, her fingers wrapping around his tightly as she muttered something below his hearing range. “Can you say that again?”

“Kneel down,” she said again, louder. “I don’t want to be carried like a sack of potatoes again. I’ll get on your back.”

He nodded and turned his back for her kneeled. She climbed on his back and wrapped her arms around his neck, her spear placed back into her inventory. He wrapped his arms around the back of her knees and rose, before reinforcing himself once more and then taking to the grass to catch up with the wayward archer.


Well-Known Member
My social link senses are tingling.

Good work, Leidolf. The combat descriptions is detailed and the relationships are making themselves known.

Describing the spell in the middle of the action felt a little disruptive to the action, though I can understand how doing so helps keep it in line with Nasuverse mechanics. Perhaps it could be moved to the beginning or the end of the combat, as a dialogue between the characters to illustrate what it does?


KING (In Land of Blind)
Staff member
This was solid. After looking for things to nit-pick, there was pretty much only this:

Leidolf said:
With his foe vanquished Sanda let the shroud covering his fists drop and then clenched at his chest, heaving. Turning his head towards the archer, he asked, “You wouldn’t happen to know the [Cure] spell, would you?”

“No, but this works just as well,” Endri said as he tossed a container of something towards Sanda. Once the boxer caught it he noticed the wolves still bound and clicked his teeth. Withdrawing his dagger from its sheath he marched past her and proceeded to use the blade to slaughter the closest bound wolf.

Yumina turned her head from the sight and then back to the boxer. His chest was smoking from where the cream was applied as the wound was patched up almost instantly, flesh growing over the opening and stemming the flow of blood. He rose to his feet and then marched towards the other bound mobs to help get rid of them before the bindings broke.
Looking at this passage...

1) I advise you make the reference to healing magic more generic. I'm going to start introducing other "basic" heals soon (probably one of the things Kirito will gab about with the Black Cats), that work on completely different basic principles, so it's not something you could have possibly known about.

2) You skipped over Sanda both opening the bag to discover that the "container of something" was "healing cream", and also when it was applied. Since you also only had Endri kill one of the several [Lesser Dark Wolves], my advice is intersperse him finishing them off with these other two dealing with the healing.

...If it's a wound to her chest, does that mean Sanda is rubbing her boobs? Well, having her snap "I'll do it myself" when he hesitates would naturally feed into the argument they have after that.


Well-Known Member
Corrections noted and will be applied later...

Also, Sanda is a guy and Yumina didn't get injured, so where did boobs come from?


Well-Known Member
Chapter 2: Collaboration - Part 3
{2,497 Words}

With Endri

The green-clad druid burned inside and out as he dashed through the grassland as fast as his legs could carry him while the spell lasted. Hot blood ran through his body as his heart pounded in his ribcage hard enough that it seemed as if it wanted to tear itself free. Only the chilled air kept him from burning alive, slaking his lungs as they expanded and contracted faster and faster.

With no one to burden him he had taken off with no reservation and was closing in on the lakes. He was so close that he could feel the shift in the air, the moisture lacing it melding with the sweat on his face. His brother was nearby.

The thought drove him to push himself as hard as he could before his stamina bar ran out, but it wouldn’t be long. He could only damn himself that he didn’t learn a spell to reinforce it. And it seemed that he would be forced to stop sooner than later as another kobold-type enemy entered into his sight, dead ahead.

He damned the thing and his luck as worn fingers tightened their grip on the blade in his hand. The long sprint petered out to a hard-pressed jog right when he was in the mob’s range, with him coming to a stop just as it swung its weapon. He dodged it sloppily and then righted himself enough so that the [Shield Bash] it tried to follow up with missed.

It created an opening and he exploited it. He grabbed its helmet, drew its head back, and plunged the blade into its throat only to violently tear it out in a way that would have been fatal to any living thing. It only registered as critical damage, even as lifeblood cascaded from the wound, but the icon that marked it was {Paralyzed} made up for the damage.

He’d resorted to keeping the dagger on-hand and applied paralysis poison to the blade, though he was more than a little miffed about it. In all honesty had hadn’t expected to be doing this tonight, or ever to be truthful, so while he restocked earlier there were only a few vials of the different poisons left in total to use. Every drop count and, realistically, the DOT poison would be wasted since he couldn’t afford to slow down for long to kill it proper.

The steel in his hand gleamed in the moonlight as it savaged the mob’s neck again. The ichor that poured from the wound had a greenish tinges as it stained his blade, hand, and sleeve. It went limp as its life bar dropped down to zero. But it only broke apart into blue motes after a few second.

He exhaled and wiped the sweat from his face with his good sleeve before using his cloak to clean his hand and dagger while waiting for the stamina bar to fill again. The cloak was already stained in the ichor of the various monsters that had crossed his path, although none of them as great in number as the previous dark wolves pack. There was no time to go around them, so he went through them with extreme prejudice.

The aching, throbbing pain that ran through his lower limbs, from his thighs to the tip of his toes made him suck in a sharp breath. He was so tired, and his knees wanted nothing more than to submit to gravity. The [Reinforce Agility] had once more worn out and his legs yearned to rest.

He silenced the pain by activating his circuits and pulled deep from the limited reservoir of Od he had to draw from to reapply the spell. He wasn’t lucky enough to be able to [Gather Mana] as he had learned. And the limit of what he could generate was nearing at a damning rate, leaving him painfully aware that unless he reached his brother soon he wouldn’t have the strength to drag him out of the mess he got himself into.

Once the aching in his legs subsided as strength quickly replaced it he started moving again, before the stamina bar had filled halfway, not willing to wait any longer. There were only so many times he could do use the spell. Any time wasted for stamina to fill up completely could be spent getting him another series of steps closer to his brother before it wore out.

Endri couldn’t help the fact that a small part of him damned his little brother for making this harder than it had to be. Like he told that other girl before, he didn’t ask to enter the game either. He didn’t ask to be made his brother’s keeper when he could barely stand him in the real world before.

“Spend time with him,” his parents had said. “He looks up to his older brother and who knows who he might run into online. In fact we just read an article about that boy who met up with someone online and got mugged, blah, blah, blah….”

He damned them as well for putting him in this situation. He was only in the game because his parents had promised him concessions for looking after the boy for an hour or two as he played the game. It was at their behest that now he was stuck with keeping his brother alive, which would have been made much easier if he had just listened and stayed in the city.

Now the druid’s life involved taking care of someone else when he just wanted to go out with his friends or study in his room. He’d become what he never wanted to be. He was promoted to being a parent, managing their income and ensuring that they survived no matter what.

That was why he wanted his brother to stay in the damn city. He could go out and harvest without fear of something like this happening or coming back one day to see that his name was crossed out on the [Monument of Life]. Sticking to [Safe Zones] and following routines was what kept them alive until now—that kept him alive until now!

With that in mind he barely noticed the wind howling in his ears as he sped through the grass once more and the damp ground slightly shifted under his feet. He had to think. He had to plan.

His assets consisted of only fifteen crossbow bolts, three vials of paralysis poison, two of DOT poison, seven picks to throw, and his dagger. How much of the balm he made remained to be used varied depending on the level of injuries he sustained. The paralysis poison coating the blade remained active for ten minutes before it wore off, so thirty minutes of use remained. It would take anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five minutes more to reach the lake depending on random encounters.

The other two members of his party, with only one of them being useful, were too far behind him. Maybe fifteen minutes straight of running, not taking into account the weight burden of carrying the dead weight, i.e. the girl. Extended time would bring the ETA up anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour if he waited. He wouldn’t slow down that long to wait for them, let them keep chasing him instead.

Without them the rational part of him noted that he most likely would have to sacrifice the woman who had dragged his brother into this mess in the first place. Most likely as a meat shield to throw to the boss while he threw his brother over his shoulders and ran. To be honest he couldn’t bring himself to care since he, a stranger, was blameless.

It wasn’t his fault if that happened. It was hers for taking his brother along, and his brother’s for running away in the first place, and the drag-along girl’s since they had to carry her all this way because she didn’t hand the equipment over when he asked. His hands were clean of that blood and guilt; let it rest on the shoulders of the others as long as his brother was safe.

There was a minor tug in his mind, a memory of a time before all of this. A little girl crying because a flower that she had gotten was stepped on by his brother by accident, the guilt his brother felt afterwards, and how he begged him to take him to the flower shop and replace what was lost with his allowance. The memory reminded him of a time when he could afford to feel something other than resentment for his brother, when he could still feel that helping him was something other than a burden that ruined his life.

But the [Death Game] changed all of that. Sympathy? Empathy? Compassion? Those were things he couldn’t spare while they were trapped in this nightmare.

It stripped away everything that wasn’t necessary. Survival was what mattered: not the quality of the life they lived, or things like researching new spells, or exploring the world, or friends, or any of that. It was the two of them against the world, surviving until the very end.

Pain tore him out of the musings he was so deeply entrenched into until now as he was knocked back and sent sprawling across the ground. Something had struck him in the stomach from ahead. He sat up in time to see another cannonball of water barreling towards him and rolled out of the way in time as it broke on the surface of the grass and scattered, dampening his cloak.

Ahead of him were numerous red cursors that hovered over puddles. Out of one of them a figure with a set of black eyes emerged, revealing the title above its cursor that said [Scavenger Froglet]. Total number of puddles was twelve at a glance, four rows positioned in some form of an irregular pattern. The froglet raised its head out of the water and opened its mouth, firing another shot.

Endri and pulled out his crossbow, returning fire as he dodged. The bolt sailed through the air only to cut through empty space as it missed the retreating head that sank back into the puddle. It was deeper than it appeared. He kicked off the ground and ran at an angle to try and speed past it.

Two more of them raised their heads and opened fire from the left, while the one from before fired as well. He was forced to dodge at an awkward angle, staggering past the three shots only to be blindsided from the right and sent skirting back again.

The druid groaned in a haggard voice before forcing himself to roll out of the way of the follow-up shots. He tumbled until he got back to his feet and then kicked off the ground to retreat, noticing as he did so that the one further back retreated back into its puddle and didn’t surface again. Once he was back to where he started he took a moment to calm himself and think.

There’s a pattern here, he thought. I just need to see through it and find an opening.

He took off towards the one on the right, counting his steps until it rose up to try and blast him with the water cannonball. As it was fired he skirted aside to avoid it and then counted until the moment it would fire again, narrowly avoiding the cover fire that arose as more of the froglets stirred from their ponds while he closed the distance. The one he had been targeting fired once more, joining the others and forcing him to halt his advance and leap back until he stood where he had started a third time.

He exhaled and readied his crossbow. There were three seconds between shots per mob. Each had the same range that doubled as the range of their spell before gravity dragged them down to earth. He only needed to kill three to get past them. But the question was would he survive to kill three of them?

A small part of his mind whispered to retreat, but he crushed it down. There was no time to waste from this point on and it wasn’t impossible to overcome the obstacle. From the looks of it someone who had a shield or a tougher build would be able to tank the spells long enough to buy time for the remaining members of a party to intervene. Alone he simply had to be faster, agiler, better.

His muscles tensed like coiled springs, upturning the wet soil slightly as he threw himself forward. The shots came from the front and the upper-right. He pressed on, dodging the frontal assault by getting off-line and lowering his body closer to the ground so the other shot went just slightly over head.

The crossbow string thrummed as it was released, going taut as the bolt sailed forward between the shots of the second line of mobs, which were spaced at angles behind the first line, adding to the barrage. The bolt sank into the first froglet’s head as the second line sent him backwards again, sacrificing flesh to break bone as the saying went. One down, two more to go.

With the front line mob taken care of it created a gap in the firing line, an extended distance of safety from which he could act faster. Nestled within it he looked to his health as he sucked in the moist air to cool his burning lungs. There was less than half left.

The druid took off again. He was met with the same challenge, only the second line was joined by the third. He ended up having to slip into a slide to create an opening that allowed him to bury the second bolt into the second line froglet before he had to retreat again to the elongated safe zone.

Just one more—Pain wracked his legs once more as they buckled under his weight, cutting off his train of thought. The [Reinforce Agility] had worn out again at the worst possible time. No, not now.

He was so close. He only had to wipe out one more to make an opening he could exploit. He couldn’t stop now, otherwise all the time and bolts he spent would be wasted.

“Move, Damn It!” he yelled as he poured prana into his legs to redo the spell… Then he screamed as the spell failed. Muscles ripped and flesh tore, blood staining the fabric of his pants as his health dropped to a fourth. His frustration and impatience had cost him dearly, the damage too extensive for the medicinal balm to heal.

Endri was unable to move. He was unable to reach his brother. He would be unable to save even himself once the mobs respawned.

Thus he screamed into the night a wretched cry.

Part 3 - End