Sword Art Online: Revive (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2: Secret Medicine of the Forest

After traveling for what seemed like hours, I finally reached Horunka Village. I couldn’t make the beta-test back when it was announced so I’m still unfamiliar with the towns and quests in the area. Horunka Village is a very small and peaceful place with several small houses and farms. Walking through, I saw NPC’s, Non-Playable Characters, tending to their farms and animals. I can hear their conversations and their complaints about their labor. I decide to settle down on the side of the road against a giant tree for a rest. I pull <<dried bread>> from my item storage. My lunch materializes in my hand. The <<dried bread>> looks as nasty as it sounds; the bread is a ghostly white and feels as dry as desert sand. As I’m eating, I open the storage menu and check my weapons and armor; nothing out of the ordinary. I’ll be going towards the upper levels eventually, which means I’ll be needing some better equipment soon. With a gulp, I force down my lunch and continue through the village. I casually stroll for a while through the village enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, until I saw a large house atop a steep hill.

“I wonder who lives up there?” I thought.

With eagerness, I make my way up the hill towards the mansion, but the closer I got, the bigger it seemed. It was unnecessarily large for a simple village like this. The courtyard out front has a small fountain and the grey brick pathway leading to the residence with gardens of flowers that fill the spaces on the sides. The house is gargantuan and very monochromatic, being mostly white. The front porch expands across the entire facade of the house. It has four enormous columns supporting the outside frame. There are a lot of windows, but the curtains were all closed. That’s strange…it’s a nice day outside so why are the curtains closed? 

“BANG”

I heard a large crash that came from the inside of the house, concerned I quickly approached the house. I reach the front door and knock. No answer.

“Is anyone home?” I knock again.

I pause and wait until I hear footsteps slowly approaching the door. The door slowly opens and I am greeted by a fair looking woman with blonde hair tied in a ponytail. She’s wearing a dark blue dress and a gold necklace around her neck. She doesn’t look like your typical farmer NPC. Her complexion is very well kept, except for the dark bags under her eyes. She seemed very tired and it looks like she tried to cover the dark circles with makeup.

“Welcome to our home. I am Lady Cordelia. Please, come in. I’ll get you something to drink”. She said, invitingly.

A name tag pops up above her head that reads “Lady Cordelia”. It looks like she’s an NPC. I step inside the mansion, following Lady Cordelia’s footsteps. The walls are lined with pictures of Lady Cordelia and what seems to be her family. The interior is just as fancy as the outside was. The walls inside the house are decorated with very delicate artwork and lead to the grand staircase topped off with a chandelier overhead. I make my way to the living room, complete with a set of very expensive looking chairs, a table, fireplace, and a very suspicious door, which looks to be out of place. Lady Cordelia signals for me to sit on one of the couches as she proceeds to sit across from me. I’ve never been to a place like this before so I don’t know how to act, but I proceed to follow the Lady’s instructions.

“Would water suit your taste?” Lady Cordelia asks, as she gently places a cup of water on the table in front of me.

“Oh! Yes, please! U-Uh, T-Thank you, sir! UH… NO, WAIT, I MEAN MA’AM!” I panicked.

Man, this sure is nerve-wracking. I could feel myself sitting straighter and talking more formally than I usually do. It’s not every day you get to sit a noble’s house!

>>Accept cup of water?

>Yes        No

It would be rude to reject her kind offer here, so I select yes and pick up the cup and take a sip of the water. I could hear and smell something simmering with a sweet aroma in the kitchen.

“I apologize for the inconvenience but we have no food at the moment, I hope you’ll make do with the water.” Lady Cordelia sighed.

No food? Then what am I smelling in the kitchen? I was about to ask about the food smell coming from the kitchen, but was interrupted by the faint sound of coughing from the strange door I noticed earlier. You could see the sadness in Lady Cordelia’s face begin to sink in.

“Is someone in there?” I asked.

“Yes,” Lady seemed resentful to answer, but knew her secret was out. “Her name is Rose and she is my daughter. Rose has had a very fragile body since birth. We’ve tried many antidotes and medicines but nothing seems to work. I heard that if we can make a broth out of a <<Little Nepent’s Ovule>>, the flower that blooms on top of a <<Little Nepent’s>> head, she can be cured of her disease. <<Little Nepents>> live in the forest west of the village. Please, save my daughter.” Lady Cordelia seems pretty desperate, and I couldn’t say no. Right on cue, the prompt to begin the quest appears.

>>Would you like to accept this quest?

>Yes        No

As soon as I accepted the quest a timer appeared on the top left of my vision. It counted down from <46:36>. Why isn’t the timer starting from a whole number? Hearing the small little coughs during Lady Cordelia’s story was so heart wrenching I couldn’t help myself, quickly pressing the “Yes” button and stood up. 

“I’ll find this item for you, don’t you worry,” I tell her. 

“Thank you. Please bring me back the <<Little Nepent’s Ovule>>,” Lady Cordelia told me.

I chug the rest of the water and exit the Cordelia household. Stepping out of the front door, I looked back at the house, a familiar feeling comes over me. Determined, I make way across the village to get to the forest. I begin my search for the Little Nepent, and it didn’t take that long to find one either. I make quick work of the <<Little Nepent>> with a quick swing from my sword. The item drop menu appears, I scan it to see if it had the quest item, but it’s not there. I kill a few more <<Little Nepents>> to make sure, but oddly enough, I still don’t have the required item.

“Seriously? I’m sure she said <<Little Nepent>>,” I mumbled to myself.

After spending hours eliminating all of the <<Little Nepents>> in my sight, I still haven’t attained a <<Little Nepent’s Ovule>>. Exhausted from using sword skills the entire day, I sit under a large tree for a break. I could feel the rugged skin of the tree bark and the bristles of the grass that I was sitting on. Creatures inhabited the virtual forest like they would in the real world. Sometimes I forget that I’m in a virtual world and all of these things are just data following their commands. I pulled two pieces of <<dried bread>> from my inventory and I was about to enjoy my lunch when I hear the cries of several <<Little Nepents>>. I haven’t seen any non-NPCs in the village, so I assumed I was the only one there. Thinking there might be other players close by, I run towards the sound, using parkour to jump over rocks and slide under branches. I came across a small open area in the forest and there she was. A girl with long black hair, tied into twin tails. She’s up against eight <<Little Nepents>>, but she easily disposes of them with one swoop from her katana. Wait, katana? Where have I seen that sword? I kept racking my brain to remember where I had seen someone with such control over their sword, and then it hit me. Katana…girl….?

“AHHHHHHH!!!!! IT’S THE BOAR THIEF,” I shout, a little too loud.

“Kyaa!” she let out a small yelp.

She froze from my outburst.

“Kyaa?” I questioned.

“H-H-HUH!? B-Boar thief? I don’t have any idea of what you’re t-talking about,” she said clearly startled.

“Wait…Aren’t you that pipsqueak that tried to act all cool and take on those boars?!” She growled.

This is definitely the girl that humiliated with me yesterday and what’s with her avatar that she made? It looks nothing like her real self. I guess those “curves” were just for show because now she’s flatter than a washboard.

“I’d rather not be called a pipsqueak by a girl with a washboard for a chest!” I retorted.

“W-W-W-What did you say you bastard!?” she said, as her face blushed in embarrassment, but that look quickly turns into a glare that stared right into my soul, I could feel the murderous intent from where I’m standing. She begins walking towards me with heavy footsteps, slowly lifting her right-hand sleeve, her face filled with rage.

Knowing the end is near, I close my eyes, bracing myself for impact. I wait for the pain but feel nothing. Maybe she hit me so hard my body went numb? Slowly, I lift my eyelids and met by a quite bizarre sight. The girl that had been so intent on giving me a new face is being held back by a smaller boy who is holding her back with all his might.

“Severa, calm down! He might be able to help us!” cries the boy.

“I’M NEVER GOING TO FORGIVE THAT JERK, LET ME GO SO I CAN TEAR HIS FACE A NEW ONE!” She shouts in rage. Looks like I was right about the new face…wait, did he say help them? Maybe they’re doing the quest too?

“Severa, I know you’re angry but he can help us save Rose, so please calm down!” shouted the boy.

After hearing the boy’s words, the boar thief settled down and mumbled an irritated “fine”.

“A-anyway, you said something about needing my help?” I asked, curiously. Maybe they can’t find the <<Little Nepent’s Ovule>> either.

“Yes! We need help to clear out the <<Little Nepents>> so that we can get the <<Little Nepent’s Ovule>>,” he replies.

“Actually I’m in the middle of that quest too, but I’m having no luck on finding the quest item.”

“We’re having the same problem; the quest item doesn’t seem to be dropping from the normal <<Little Nepents>>”. He said as he scratched his head in thought.

“Hmph not like we even need your help, you’d probably just get in the way.” Severa shrugs.

“You know, I’m just trying to help…” I sigh.

“Oh, we forgot to introduce ourselves! I’m Toshio and this is Severa. It’s nice to meet you.” he said.

“Yeah, uh, same here, my name is Takeshi.”

“Hmph!” Severa gives me the stink eye, turning the other way and walking by herself back into the forest.

“I don’t think she likes me that much…” I sigh.

“She’s always like that, in the beginning, haha, you’ll get used to it” Toshio said with a nervous smile.

Toshio and I chat for a bit. I learn quite a bit about him, too. He’s fourteen years old and Severa is sixteen years old, the same age as me. Toshio had met Severa through the beta tests, so they were able to play the game before it was officially released to the public, and they would often pair up together, but don’t remember this quest being available in the beta tests. According to Toshio, they’ve been on this quest for about a day already and still haven’t found the quest item.

“Well, Toshio, any ideas on how to get the <<Little Nepent’s Ovule>>?” I ask.

“There is a way. The reason why we can’t get the drop is that the <<Little Nepents>> that we’ve been fighting don’t have the flower the Lady Cordelia mentioned on their heads” explained Toshio.

“Huh, now that you mention it, none of the ones that I attacked had a flower on their heads either.”

“Which probably means that the special <<Little Nepents>> have a lower spawning rate than the regular <<Little Nepents>>,” Toshio explains as he begins drawing pictures on the ground with a stick.

“So the plan was to eliminate as much of the regular <<Little Nepents>> as possible so that the chances for the special <<Little Nepents>> to spawn will increase,” he explains.

“Hm, that might work.” I said intrigued.

“I just thought that it was the logical choice in this situation,” he said, turning away while blushing like a giant red tomato.

“Alright I get the gist, let’s get to work!” I shout as I stood up, rolling up my sleeves.

“Yeah!” he said with a smile.

Toshio and I run into the forest to catch up with Severa, who is already in the middle of a fight. There’s a lot more than there was the last battle’ roughly twenty or so.

“What took you idiots so long?” Severa scolds at us.

“Sorry, we were having a little picnic” I joke.

“We’re here now, so let’s get this over with,” said Toshio as he drew his dagger.

The three of us make quick work of the <<Little Nepents>>, destroying them one after another, and then moving on to the next section of the forest. Six hours passed and there’s still no sign of the <<Little Nepent>> with the flower on its head. Exhausted, we all take a break, to regroup.

“How much longer you think this will take us?” I manage to say between breaths.

“Quit your complaining, stupid” Severa responds.

This girl gets on my nerves more and more with each passing minute.

“Well considering the fact that we already spent several hours farming the <<Little Nepents>> my guess is that’ll take us three days to finish the quest” answers Toshio.

“THREE WHOLE DAYS? This is impossible!” I sigh heavily, collapsing on my back. We’re already short on time with only <31:43> on my clock, I might fail the quest. Not to mention the other players that are going to migrate here looking for monsters to kill so they can level up. One of them might end up killing one with the quest item. 

Severa stood up abruptly and pointed an angry finger at me.

“If you’re gonna give up that easily, then how about you go somewhere else!” she shouts and storms towards the forest but not before stopping to whisper something to herself.

“I’ll complete this mission, whatever it takes.” she murmured.

“Huh? Did you say something?” I asked.

“I DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING, STUPID!” she growls and runs into the forest.

“What’s her problem?” I looked to Toshio for an answer.

After a moment of hesitation and a long sigh, Toshio began telling me why Severa was so desperate about completing this quest. In the real world, Severa had a little sister that died of an illness when she was only six, while Severa was only ten. Rose reminded her of that horrible memory, and Severa felt like it was her duty to see the quest to the end. Looks like there’s more to that girl than I thought, maybe she isn’t so bad after all.

“AHHH!” Out of nowhere came a scream is heard from the forest.

“That was Severa!” Toshio said in a panic.

“Toshio, grab your things, we’re going!”

Quickly rounding our equipment we sprinted through the forest, finally reaching Severa.

“Severa, are you alright!?” Toshio shouted.

“Do I look alright to you?”

Severa is surrounded by a pack of <<Dire Wolves>> that look strong, a lot stronger than usual critters in this forest. One of the Dire Wolves lunges itself towards Severa, knocking her down and begins gnawing at her sword. Out of desperation, I unsheathe my sword and plunge into the pack of wolves, quickly slashing at the attacking <<Dire Wolf>>. It lets out a little yelp and backs off. Her health bar is already low, around 10 percent. This isn’t looking good, as I have already used up all of my potions when we were searching for the <<Little Nepents>>.

“I assume you don’t have a potion,” I questioned.

“If I had one I would’ve used it already, stupid.” she hissed.

“Yeah I figured as much, guess we’ll just have to wing it with what we’ve got.”

The <<Dire Wolves>> begin to circle around us, their eyes gleaming red. You could hear their low growls and snarls, trying to intimidate us.

We both put our backs against each other and the <<Dire Wolves>> begin their attack. One lunges at me while another lunge at Severa, we both parry their attacks to the side, turn around, and slash at the other’s attacker doing slight damage to both wolves. They land with a small limp and begin to circle us again, observing our movements.

“Severa! Takeshi! The wolves’ eyes light up before they attack and it looks like their weak point is around stomach area!” shouted Toshio.

Nodding in agreement, Severa and I face the Dire Wolves one more time. My eyes dart between each wolf, their eyes showing no fear of death. I ready my sword in anticipation of the attack.

“Here it comes,” I whisper to myself.

We spot the glowing red eyes and braced ourselves. The wolf lunges at me with incredible speed. I didn’t have a lot of time to react, but I dodged it by a hair. As the beast lunges over us, the stomach is exposed

“NOW!” I signaled as I lunged for a counterattack.

Right on cue Severa joins in and we pierce through the vicious beast. It froze in the air as if stopped by time, and then it explodes into tiny geometric shards that dissipate into the air. We did it, we defeated one of them!

“This is no time to space out! The rest are coming at you!” yelled Toshio.

Three pair of eyes glow at once, and the sweat drips down my face. They all slowly crept closer as they circle around us and in the blink of an eye, they close the gap between us. All at once, they lunge at us. One launched itself up and above me, but knowing its weak spot, I quickly slashed upwards and striking the wolf. Severa struck both wolves on her side with one fell swoop. All three wolves shattered into tiny crystals, resulting in the appearance of the item drop menu. Severa and I immediately plopped down on the ground.

“That was way too close for comfort!!” I wheezed.

“For once we agree on something…” Severa panted.

“Here I have a few potions in my storage,” offered Toshio. “But wow, Takeshi you were amazing! Jumping into a dangerous situation like that without a moment’s hesitation!” Toshio was awestruck.

“Well.. you did pretty well, I guess” murmured Severa.

“Haha. Of course, it’s no surprise, I am quite the warrior,” I said with a giant grin on my face, only to have it kicked off by Severa’s boot.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself stupid! We still have to find that dumb plant!” Severa scolded.

“Hey isn’t that it?” Toshio was pointing toward a moving <<Little Nepent>> with a flower on its head.

“After it!” I screamed. We all rushed toward it all at once. We tore the poor Little Nepent to pieces, but we got the <<Little Nepent’s Ovule>>!

“Let’s head back to the mansion before the timer runs out,” Toshio suggested.

We made our way back to the Cordelia household and just like the first time I arrived Lady Cordelia is there to greet us at the door.  

“Oh my, it seems you have found the <<Little Nepent’s Ovule>>! Let me make the broth right away!” Lady Cordelia rushes to the kitchen and starts right away. Toshio, Severa and I were waiting in the living room when Lady Cordelia comes back with a small bowl in hand and opens the door to the room where the coughing had originated from. Curious, we all followed her to the room.

“Here, drink this dear, it will make you feel better,” Lady Cordelia said softly, as she lifted the small bowl to Rose’s mouth. The little girl with long blonde hair is wearing a long white gown. Her bone structure is clearly visible, I could see the outline of her jaw and cheekbones.

“How do you feel dear?” Lady Cordelia asked.

After drinking the special broth, Rose’s body began to glow. Her once fragile body began to rejuvenate, visible bone lines fade away. The face that was once pale as a ghost and lifeless was replaced with the face of a healthy little girl with rosy cheeks and a bright smile on her face. She slowly lifted up her blanket and took her first steps off the bed. You can hear the tiny thumps her feet made as she stepped on the hardwood floor. Looking at herself with disbelief, Rose looked up at her mother and her face lit up with a bright smile. She was a completely different girl compared to the one I saw a moment ago. This was a healthy girl, not ailed by disease or chained to a bed, she was someone who could live out the rest of her life knowing no boundaries, something I envy.

“Momma, I can walk again!” Rose cried for joy.

“Oh thank goodness!” Lady Cordelia wrapped her arms around Rose who was standing all on her own. Then turning to us, she bows her head in appreciation.

“Thank you! Oh, thank you, adventurers!” She was on the brink of tears; I’ve never seen someone so happy.

“There is not much I can do to repay you what you’ve done for us but please accept this sword, it’s been handed down my family for many generations, but since my husband passed away there was no one left to use it, I would feel better if it was in more capable hands.” She then proceeds to hand me a one-handed sword, over the sword it read <<Anneal Blade>>. It had a black hilt with a gold cross guard and the blade was longer than the length of my arm.

“Thank you, I’ll take good care of it,” I said with a grin on my face.

“Good for you, Bakashi” snorted Severa.

(Translation note: Baka means “Stupid” in Japanese, therefore it’s a play on Takeshi’s name.)

“Hey! Don’t give me dumb nicknames, Washboard!” I protested raising my fist.

“HEY STOP CALLING ME THAT BAKASHI!” Severa yelled back, grabbing the hilt of her katana.

“Now, now can’t we all just get along?” Toshio reasoned, trying to separate us.

“NO!” Severa and I yelled in unison.

 

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