Sword Art Online: Revive (Chapter 1)
Chapter 1: The Beginning…
Still dazed from the initial startup, my eyes slowly adjusted to the world around me. I started moving my hands around to get the feeling of this new environment. And not a second after getting used to controlling this new avatar I have just created I sprint out into the world that awaited me. I’ve never felt so free in my life! Everything was so new and exciting compared to the prison I called “home”. So this is what a VRMMORPG, an acronym that stands for Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, is like. This was a world where I could escape and follow my own principles not restrained by the shackles of reality and its rules.
I made my way through the Town of Beginnings, the starting town here in SAO, it stands for Sword Art Online. There are so many people, shops, weapons, and buildings the likes I’ve never seen before. With bated breath, I walked up to the shops to look through the merchandise. I could smell the aroma of the food stalls and the weapon shops were lined with rows of weapons, ranging from typical swords to claymores and katanas, and even maces and rapiers. But which one do I pick?
“Ah!” I rub my head in frustration.
This is an important decision! I can’t just carelessly choose a weapon, but looking at the prices for the weapons, the only thing I can afford at the moment is the standard sword. With a sigh, I pay with what little cor, the currency in the game, I have and make my way across town. I know it’s the day of the official launch for Sword Art Online, but this place is really packed. I can’t even cross the street to the next shop without bumping into someone. It looks like most of the players here are hanging around and checking out the equipment like I am. I quickly make my way to the other shops to get some necessities and head towards the gates that lead outside of town.
Beyond the gates lies the rest of Aincrad where there are vast lush plains and glistening lakes; a world of unlimited possibilities and adventure! I turned my head to see the birds flying across the blue sky as the clouds slowly drifted along. The scenery went on as far as the eye could see. Returning my gaze back to the landscape ahead I walked under the gates and stepped onto the grassy terrain. I felt a soft breeze brush against my face. This place is not that much different from the real world if anything it actually seems more real than reality itself. I walked around aimlessly, admiring the breath-taking scenery that surrounded me. Looking out in the field, I spotted a herd of <<Frenzy Boars>>. They were the roughly the size of your typical pig but they are covered in a dark reddish fur and equipped with two horns where their molars would be. I began to rush at them with my sword in hand. As I prepared to attack, my assault suddenly came to a halt when the entire herd was taken out by another player. I could hardly believe it. The entire herd was annihilated with just one sweep! I was in complete shock. After staring at the empty field, I snapped out of my trance and express my anger.
“Hey! Those were mine!” I yelled.
The boar thief responded with nothing more than a smirk at me as she sheathed her sword. She looks a bit older than I am, with short black hair and eyes as cold as ice. She’s carrying a long Kanata and wearing light but sturdy looking armor; she has curves in the right places if you know you catch my drift. What really stood out to me is the way she attacked the herd. It was as if the sword was an extension of herself like it was part of her own body. Even if she is stronger than me, there’s no way I’m letting this go without a fight.
“UGH WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!” I shouted.
“Oh please! A weakling like you wouldn’t be able to handle a herd, go find yourself a rat to play with or something.” she squawked holding her hand to her face to hide her laughter.
“Little boys should go play in the sandbox back in the Town of Beginnings,” she snickered, laughing like a hyena as she walked away.
“Hey!” I called out to her out of spite but it was no use. I might as well be yelling to the wind because she gave me no attention as she and walked away.
“Tch,” I clicked my tongue as I walk in the opposite direction.
After the “boar thief” incident, I spent hours grinding all the creatures around the fields. Before I even knew the sky began to change from a clear light blue to a scarlet red and I realized I haven’t eaten anything since this morning. Thinking it should probably be around dinner time, I swipe my right hand down in front of me to hear the chime of the game menu revealing itself. I clicked settings option and was about to press the log out button when I realized– there’s nothing there.
That’s strange…where’s the log out feature? It must be a bug or something. I hope the GM or someone will fix it soon because I can hear dinner calling my name. There’s no point in just sitting around and doing nothing, so I might as well go level up a few times until they fix the dumb bug. I started to headed back to the fields when I heard the ringing of an ominous bell. Once, twice, three times, the bell rang with a haunting tone. My surroundings began to change, the clouds in the sky began to spin in circles; I was moving faster and faster through space and before I could even move a muscle, a bright flash of light blinded me and stopped me in my tracks. When I regained my vision, I was back in the center of the Town of Beginnings. Players began to appear one after another, everyone with confused looks on their faces. Is this some special event? Maybe this is where they tell us “Hey! We have a problem with the game and we’ll fix it as soon as possible!” or something along those lines. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the lousy boar thief. I was ready to walk over there and give her a piece of my mind, but my action was stopped by the sky. The bright scarlet colored sky began to cut into sections labeled as “Warning” and “System Announcement” that filled the sky with an eerie red. But that wasn’t the end of it, a substance that what seems like red ooze began to drip between the warning panels and accumulated into a giant glob before shaping into a daunting humanoid figure wearing a red cloak with a hood covering its face.
You can hear murmurs in the crowd.
“What is that?”
“The Game Master?”
“What’s going on?”
“Why doesn’t he have a face?”
Is this really some sort of event? I have a sick feeling in my stomach that now makes me want to vomit. Then, with a voice that resonated through my entire body, the figure spoke.
“Players! Welcome to my world. I am Kayaba Akihiko. I am currently the only person who can control this world.” The murmurs in the crowd get louder with excitement.
The pain in my stomach still remains.
“I trust that you have already noticed the logout button is missing from the main menu. However, this is not a game malfunction.”
Did he just say NOT a malfunction? Nausea just gets worse, and my heart starts beating harder. I could feel the sweat from my forehead drip down my face.
“I repeat, this is not a game malfunction, but an original feature of Sword Art Online. You cannot log out of SAO on your own. No one on the outside will be able to shut down or remove the NerveGear. Should this be attempted, the transceiver inside the NerveGear will emit a powerful burst of microwave radiation, destroying your brain and thus ending your life.”
What the hell? This can’t be real, can it? So many thoughts run through my mind at once and my head begins to throb. I can feel my heart beating in my chest like a drum.
“Unfortunately, the friends and family members of several players have ignored this warning and attempted to remove the NerveGear. As a result, two-hundred and thirteen players have permanently retired in both Aincrad and the real world.”
I hear a scream.
“I don’t believe it– I WON’T BELIEVE IT!”
The player in front of me collapses in despair onto his knees with both hands over his head, quivering in fear. The people around me are getting uneasy, their faces filled with despair and grief.
“As you can see, news organizations across the world are reporting on this incident and the many deaths. Thus, you can now assume the danger of having your NerveGear removed to be greatly reduced. Please relax and work hard to clear the game.”
Wait, clear the game?
“However, do take note of this. You can no longer respawn in this game. Once your HP reaches zero, your avatar will be permanently erased. At the same time…”
My heart is beating so hard it feels like it’s about to rip my chest apart. I could feel every muscle in my body grow tense with uneasiness.
“…the NerveGear will destroy your brain.”
The quivering stopped, the headache vanished and my breathing froze. There was a silence louder than any scream in Town of Beginnings. Every single player looked up at that cloaked figure with the look of utter terror and agony.
“You need only fulfill one condition to set yourselves free–clear the game. You are currently on the first floor, the lowest level of Aincrad. Make your way through each dungeon and defeat the floor boss and you will advance to the next level. Defeat the Final Boss on the One-Hundredth floor and you will clear the game.”
He wants us to complete all one-hundred floors of Aincrad!? That’s insane! It’ll take days, months, years even! Even the beta testers never made it that far!
“And finally, you can find a gift from me in your item storage. Please check for yourselves.”
With a slight hesitation in the back my mind, I opened the item storage menu. Most of it was what I gained from hunting the herd of boars earlier: boar meat, boar pelts, and tusks. Finally, I saw something that I don’t remember ever obtaining. It was labeled “Mirror”. I selected its icon, pulling it out of my storage, and it immediately materializes into my hand. There was nothing strange about it. It was just like a regular mirror. I could hear screams around me and my eyes were quickly drawn away from the mirror and towards the flashes of light that began to appear from the players around me, quickly consuming the entire town square.
Regaining my vision from the light, I noticed something strange about the players around me. They looked…different like their avatar has changed. And just like that, it hit me. I quickly looked back at the mirror that I was holding. The mirror reflected a face that I had long forgotten even existed. How long has it been since I could see the reflection of my own face? It’s the same old me, white hair and dull brown eyes. They never did put mirrors in my room. But why, what’s the point of changing us to how we look in real life?
“All of you must be wondering why. Why would Kayaba Akihiko, the creator of Sword Art Online and the NerveGear, do all this? My goal has already been achieved. I wanted to create this world and admire it. That is why I created Sword Art Online. And now, it has all been fulfilled.”
Why would a person do such a thing? To have thousands of lives in their hands and just play around with them like puppets! Are you even human? I have to do something, but what can I do? I never have been the best at games and to make matters worse, I know nothing about this world, maybe a few towns around the first floor because I bought the map, but other that, I really don’t know anything.
“This ends the tutorial for the official Sword Art Online launch. I wish every player the best of luck.” With those parting words, Kayaba Akihiko began to dissolve back into the haunting red sky. The eerie red color faded with him disappearing and the sky went back to the way it was.
The town center was filled with an earsplitting silence, but it didn’t last long, a few seconds later the crowd breaks into a frenzy of players running around, frantically trying to piece together what they had just witnessed. As I look around, trying to decide what move to make next. I quickly made my decision. I pushed and shoved my way to the exit and then I ran. I ran as hard as I could, straight ahead. I had to move on because staying there would only waste my time. My best course of action had to be moving southwest, to the next town. I turned back, looking at the chaos that had come over Town of Beginnings. I put this image in the back of my mind and turn around, knowing there’s nothing I can do. I started my way towards Horunka Village.