Tales of The Heroic Kingdoms (LitRPG, Adventure, Fantasy)

Discussion in 'Original Stories' started by SmilingBlueWolf, Jul 1, 2017.

  1. SmilingBlueWolf

    SmilingBlueWolf New Member

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    Tales of The Heroic Kingdoms by SmilingBlue Wolf

    Edit: I should mention this is also in other places as clarification. I'm not sure I'm allowed to link to it so I'll leave it without.

    Summary: Yushin gave up gaming and focused solely on work. With life changing news, he finds solace in the recently released VRMMO "Tales of The Heroic Kingdoms". The game promised to be a new highlight to a stale MMO age. The golden age of MMO’s had long past. They became extremely repetitive and boring, just grind for gear and rush raids template that never seemed to go anywhere. That, combined with micro-transactions, almost ruined modern games. Kingdom Corp promised to change this, and expectations were high. Will Yushin be able to leave his mark in time and become one of the top players of his era?

    Table of Contents:
    (For Future Use)







    Chapter One: Five Years

    “Five years at most.”

    Yushin didn’t react at all, only stared back at the doctor, no anger nor sadness to show.

    “I’m sorry, brother. There are not many cases, and still no cure. Even treatment can only help a little.”

    The patient smiled, “I understand. It’s a recently discovered disease, after all.”

    Kirishima’s disease. Discovered abroad, it only affects 0.01% of the world’s population, but its fatality rate is 100%. The last years are very painful to the afflicted, even with medication.

    The doctor’s heart broke in silence. He was used to seeing terminally ill patients, but now his best friend was one of them.

    And there was nothing he could do about it.

    After exchanging some data on treatment and setting up a visitation schedule, Yushin got up to leave.

    “You’re not going to tell them, are you? You really should. They deserve to know.”

    “…I’ll think about it.” - Yushin answered before he left. But, in his heart, he already decided not to. What good it would do? To make people suffer, to see and treat him differently? Making them worry about something they cannot prevent?

    He didn’t need pity. He didn’t want his family to live with that burden.

    That was his burden alone.

    The bus usually took fifteen minutes to get home. Now, that seemed like eternity. Everything was dull and silent. Did knowing he was only going to live at most five more years affect him that much?

    Yushin was smiling to himself. He never cared that much about his own life, and always thought he’d die early.

    Now, knowing that moment grows near, his legs trembled…

    *SPLASH*

    Yushin got out of his daze, his face dripping wet. It was as if he woke up from a dream.

    “Oh my god!!” An elderly woman cried, the now empty bucket in front of her. She always splashed water on her dog that way. He loved it. “I-I’m terribly sorry, my son! Are you alright?!”

    “Woof, woof!” The husky seemingly laughed at him. Those alluring bright blue eyes sparkling.

    Yushin smiled. He had the kindest smile in the world. “Don’t worry about it, grandma. I was careless!”

    “No, no, please, let this old lady fetch you a towel…!”

    “No need, I mean it, grandma. I live just around the corner.” He told a small lie. It was still a few blocks away. “What a handsome dog! Huskies are my favorite.”

    The dog barked, as if happy with the compliment.

    “A naughty mutt! Made me splash the young master!”

    Yushin laughed while petting the husky. “What’s his name?”

    “Ma granddaughter calls him Silverbelly. This old lady just calls him mutt.”

    “Hahaha, grandma, that’s kinda mean, isn’t it?”

    “Humph, a mutt is a mutt. The way he behaves I should call him demon.”

    Yushin laughed again. That grandma and her dog really did lift his spirits. Still wet, he said his farewells and was about to leave.

    “Son, this is my shop. You come eat here, I owe you a free meal.” The sign said [Old Lady Buns, Homemade Food]. He chuckled a little, then nodded.

    At home, a few minutes later, Yushin quickly got rid of his wet clothes and took a bath. He didn’t want to think too much about his disease, but that was nearly damn impossible to do.

    All around him were many books, fruits of his hard labor as a writer and reader. Ever since he was twenty he only knew how to work. He wrote every day, without resting, as much as he could. In college, he took only the required classes and did everything for early graduation. Friends and family gradually became distant, most of them either gave up or got used to not seeing him often. But, in the end, was he even happy?

    He always thought that, at least, he wasn’t unhappy. After all, being a world famous novelist, he took care of the family, such that they would never need anything else in life. His fans loved his work with such burning passion. Among his brand and a lot of good investments, he never had to worry about money. In that regard, Yushin was really blessed.

    Yet all that came to nothing so suddenly. He couldn’t buy another life. He couldn’t extend his own life. He didn’t enjoy life and just worked.

    Until that day, that was the only thing in his mind.

    Upon entering his bedroom, Yushin suddenly saw the huge, recently installed capsule. It was sent by one of his friends, someone he knew from nine years ago. Among the gaming crowd, this capsule was known as [The Cockpit]. It really did remind him of one of those mecha interiors from anime, except that, in the end, it was just a really fancy box, with a chair and Virtual Reality helmet attached.

    It belonged to the upcoming VRMMO game called [Tales of The Heroic Kingdoms]. The hype around this game was over the charts, much beyond anything before. That anticipation was really well deserved.

    Tales was created by [Kingdom Corporation], the biggest gaming company that ever existed. Kingdom Corp was created by Luo Zhou, a creative tech super genius and visionary. Luo perfected the VR system used in the game and took virtual reality to a whole new level, with Neuro linking and other advances. His tech became widely utilized in several fields, from gaming to the military.

    Luo, however, was a known gaming addict. He grew bored with the state of current gaming and the same models and stereotypes. His wish was to create the greatest MMO of all times and thus began to recruit experts in every related field with unparalleled aggressiveness.

    Tales took eight years to complete and had a funding well over 10 billion WC (World Currency). It was a massive project with funding from several countries and private entities. In those few years, Kingdom Corp made several breakthroughs in [Artificial Intelligence] and [Virtual Reality Immersion]. Tales was finally ready to come into the world, and the server was coming online in a couple of hours!

    Back before he was published and poured his body and soul into his craft, Yushin was a true gamer. He breathed games so much he himself was worried to go off track and never be able to live a common life. One of his dreams was going pro on a very popular MOBA of the time, but even though he had the mind to it, his hands were not as fast. Hand speed was definitely below average. In Tales, this wouldn’t be a problem, since it uses a thought based interface with Virtual Reality Immersion. The tech behind this is highly classified and encrypted.

    Basically, it promised that people would be able to control their characters as if it were their real selves, except that they would not be bound to current physical limits. Wasn’t this exciting? To be able to fly, jump far away and even use magic, all while feeling like real life?

    Possibilities were endless. A True Gamer dream.

    The game promised to be a new highlight to a stale MMO age. The golden age of MMO’s had long past. They became extremely repetitive and boring, just grind for gear and rush raids template that never seemed to go anywhere. That, combined with micro-transactions, almost ruined modern games. Kingdom Corp promised to change this, and expectations were high.

    Tales would be based on a subscription model, with different types and values, to make it accessible to a wider range of people. The cockpit was a premium item, the player only needed it for comfort and to experience maximum sensation. Even the helmet could be leased, so theoretically cheaper payment methods would not affect gameplay in any form, instead, it would provide access to some new customization options and social media sharing services. Cosmetic changes only.

    Besides normal play, the company also vowed to endorse professional [eSports] within the game, after a period of time. Details of how it would work were not made public, but it was enough for a lot of gaming communities to become interested. As soon as tales opens, millions of players would flock to it, many of those aiming to become pros, whatever would that mean for the game.

    Yushin put his manuscript away. He didn’t plan on playing before, but right now he wanted something to occupy his mind.

    He wrote over a hundred books in ten years, now he had ten years of gaming to make up for!

    ...

    It was finally time.

    ...

    [Virtual Reality Interface activated. Helmet is secure. No abnormal conditions. Condition is green.]

    [Connecting…]

    […Welcome to Tales of The Heroic Kingdoms! This program is safe within the World Wide Virtual Reality Protection Act guidelines. Please behave within Terms of Service.]

    [Global Server selected]

    [Starting opening video…]

    [Before, the world was prosperous. Many kingdoms spread through the lands. Humans, dwarves, elves, fairies, dragons, lizards, beastmen. All those species, and still so much more. Each with their society and culture. Each with their pride and ambition. It was all shattered. Destroyed by fate…

    ...And them.

    When society advanced, so did magic. And no one wielded magic better than the [Heavenly Elves].

    Their power grew so large no other species could compare. They began to take more risks, to thirst for more and more power. Soon they were curious beyond this world. Had they known they would summon such [calamity] upon the kingdoms, would they have stopped?

    They came out of nowhere. Some say through magic gates, deep underground and even from the sky. They swept through the world like blazing storm. All that was left after their path was carnage and destruction.

    The far away kingdoms were the first to fall. The other kingdoms didn’t care. Whether they were human or not, they all thought this was not their problem.

    They were wrong.

    Enemies were endless. Take one down, more will come. Some were stronger than anything the world had ever seen before. Soon they were called [The Endless Demons]. Their true name was not known. They made no intent to communicate, only eradicate.

    Wave after wave cities fell. Fortresses were torn apart. When all but a few handful kingdoms were left in the world, surviving species created the [Council of Fate].

    Yet it was too late to fight back. How many died in those wars? How many were still left in the world that could fight properly?

    Near the end, only the first home of the elves was left. A refuge called [Graceful Wind]. Survivors of the world made their last stand there.

    With the demons came a powerful mist, a miasma that weakened and poisoned foes. Those with high magical affinity were the most affected. The Heavenly Elves were practically wiped out by this.

    In the midst of falling hope, one mage took upon himself to try one last desperate measure...

    Using the power of elves to cast a powerful magic, he sealed the demon’s advance and cut down their numbers. Whatever he did prevented gates from spawning. The demons would no longer be endless.

    The survivors managed to push them back.

    Yet the world was never the same. They had no strength to pursue the remaining foes too far. The miasma still stood, and demons roared through what once were the [Fallen Kingdoms]. Many of the world’s treasures and culture was lost.

    The fabric of reality itself was torn apart, and many mystical dungeons began to appear. Some had many treasures. Some led to other worlds.

    Dangerous worlds.

    Mana that was once abundant disappeared. Its flow was now so thin mages became mostly powerless. This was set in history as [The Mage’s Downfall].

    Now, two hundred years after that calamity, the kingdoms once again looked to prosper. The Council of Fate became secretive and kingdoms rose and expanded constantly. Many fell as well.

    The path was open for adventurers to thrive. Or die.

    You are one of those.

    What you decide to do…

    …Is up to you.

    Fight. Explore. Craft. Build. Conquer. Or Kill.

    But remember:

    They are still out there. And they will be back.]



    ‘Player freedom, huh? I hope that means crafting classes won’t be useless like other games.’

    [Please create your character according to your wishes.]

    [Face scanning is done…]

    [Please choose your race]

    The interface suddenly switches to a side by side view of several races, including [Human], [Dwarfs], [Fairies], [Gnomes], [Orcs] and [Giants] (!!!). Although it seems giants aren’t really giants, only around three meters or so.

    The screen shows a few of the unique characteristics of each race, but the game has so many subspecies that normal templates are useless. There are underground, surface and even sea (!) based Dwarfs! The same with each one of the species. To go over them and see each of their weakness and strengths was too much for Yushin. He took a look at humans and also saw they could be a half-breed with almost every other race there.

    [>>>Human >>> Half-breed] He pondered over what to choose until he saw at the end of all other options:

    [Randomize Origin]

    ‘That seems fun. What to do… Oh well, whatever.’

    [>>>Randomize Origin.<<<]

    [Are you sure you want to randomize your origin? There is no way to change this option in-game.]

    ‘Gah..’

    [>>>Yes.<<<]

    [Origin was chosen. Please adjust facial characteristics.]

    ‘What...? It didn’t say my origin, though… Did I miss it somehow? …Oh, my face is in there, but I can add stuff to it, change it a bit. Maybe a cool scar? Hehehe, an X… Oops, that’s way too common. I’ll throw in a tattoo. This one looks good!’

    [Please adjust height and weight.]

    ‘Eh, I’ll just leave it as default, it’s pretty close to myself actually…’

    [Are you happy with your choices?]

    [>>>Yes.<<<]

    [In Tales of The Heroic Kingdoms, there are no fixed [Classes]. You are what your [Skills] allow you to be. [Stat growth] is determined by your [traits], [Advantages], [Disadvantages], [Powers] and Skills. New skills can be acquired from masters, skill books, other players, hidden conditions and created through existing skills. Please select your starting skills. Your class will be announced thereafter.]

    ‘Whoa, sounds amazing. So skills are a big deal, and powers are different from skills.’

    [Please pick your two starting basic weapon masteries. Your starting combat skills will be based on them.]

    [Sword, Dagger, Rod, Staff, Spear, Bow, Unarmed, Shield, Mace, Axe…]

    [>>>Unarmed and Spear<<<]

    [Please select two starting crafting skills:]

    [Smithing, locksmithing, pottery, stonemasonry, tailoring, alchemy, cooking, engineering… The list went on and on]

    ‘That’s a huge list. I wonder if they made them all worth it or should I just go with the basics…? In a player based economy, the initial step makes a huge difference. I can learn the others later on. But everyone will be thinking the same…’

    [>>>[Engineering] chosen. [Hunting] chosen. <<<]

    [Please choose two additional skills:]

    The list showed a lot of non-crafting skills, even the weapon masteries that weren’t chosen before. Yushin skimmed through:

    ‘I’ll just choose those I think are interesting.’

    [>>>[Support Magic] chosen. [Leadership] chosen.<<<]

    [Please wait until the system announces your class…]

    [Your starting class definition is [Small-time Captain] (Hybrid Warrior-Magic class. Low leadership.)]

    ‘…WHAT? Small-Time Captain?! What’s up with this weird class?!”

    [Please choose a name:]

    [>>>Yushin<<<]

    Back when he was actively gaming, Yushin never used his real name. He was very concerned about private data and security.

    He himself didn’t know exactly why, but this time he strongly felt like using it. Although known worldwide as a writer, that happened to be under several different pseudonyms, so his identity would not be exposed.

    Maybe, after being aware that all things come to an end, he wanted to leave his name somewhere, his mark for all to see…

    [Your character creation is finished. You will start at [Red Clay City], [Vavell Kingdom.]

    And when his character finally spawned, his last journey was ready to begin…
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
  2. SmilingBlueWolf

    SmilingBlueWolf New Member

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    Chapter 2: Welcome, Player Yushin.



    Yushin felt warmth on his body and wind softly swept his hair. Did he get out of the game? It wasn’t possible. He had just logged in!

    His eyes opened and he looked around. Large buildings with a fantasy style, mostly wooden and battered. There were also some made in stone. The city went on and on as far as the eye could see, with huge fortress-like walls all around.

    It was clearly built to stand sieges, with several internal walls and watchtowers. He instantly felt amazed at the immersion and realism a VRMMO could provide.

    Tales was not the first VRMMO, and it wasn’t even Yushin’s first, but the scale was completely different. His body was still there, yet somehow it felt totally unlike it at first. He even felt weird for a bit when trying to move around. His limbs were a bit shorter and he was a bit slimmer. He could move however he wanted but felt his limits were much higher. It was as if he was in his own body, and at the same time, he wasn’t.

    No wonder Tales made everyone excited.

    For a writer like Yushin, he always lived immersed in adventures. He never left his country, but in his mind and books traveled to a thousand worlds. Now that Virtual Reality technology has advanced to this point, it would be hard not to be affected by it.

    ‘It takes a while to get used to, but it isn’t too hard.’ He stretched and jumped around a bit in the middle of Red Clay City. Fingers moved well and dexterously. There were other players around, but no one was making fun of him. They were busy doing the same.

    First thing Yushin noticed was the [User Interface (UI)]. With a simple thought, the interface could be changed fast and smoothly, hiding HUD elements such as Health, Soul and Mana bar for a minimal interface. He was, after all, wearing a highly advanced helmet.

    ‘Hm, it seems very easy to navigate. I just need to either shout or think of what I want to access. [Status Window.]’

    As in one of those sci-fi movies, a transparent display suddenly popped up. Besides thought, hands could be used to navigate, like a mobile touch interface in the air, and was much easier to do for some people. He looked at his character status:

    [Player Yushin Class: Small-Time Captain (Hybrid Warrior-Magic Class) Level: 01 Race: Half-Human]



    Title: none

    Bounty: none

    Fame/Infamy: 0

    Strength: 03

    Magic: 02

    Defense 01 (Total 02)

    Agility: 01

    Intelligence: 02

    Magic Defense: 02 (Total 02)

    Dexterity: 02

    Endurance: 03

    Charisma: 01

    Health Points: 1500/1500

    Mana Points: 100/100

    Soul: 120/120

    Wealth: 10c







    ‘What? Half-Human? …Is this a bug or intentional? Half-human, half-what!? ...Well, whatever.”

    “[Inventory].” - A pop-up appeared again. Yushin saw he had 20/100 weight, with a wooden spear and some wooden armor. Above that value, he would be slowed down gradually until not being able to move. There were several spaces for bags, armor, weapons, rings, other accessories, and mounts. Aside from that, there didn’t seem to be anything else special so he moved on.



    [Wooden Spear Lv1 Quality: One Star Condition: Normal]

    Attack Power: 1-3

    Speed:1.0

    Range: Mid



    [Wooden Armor Lv1 Quality: One Star Condition: Normal]

    Defense: 01

    Magic Defense: 00



    Consulting the in-game help, Yushin saw equipment had several quality ranks, ranging from one-star to ten stars. Ten stars were godly legendary artifacts, one star crappy starting equipment he got. Also, weapon condition went from terrible, poor, normal, good, excellent and godly. Terrible meant the weapon was only a bit better than trash and was near the breaking point, while godly meant it was a nigh indestructible weapon. Only the rarest carried this condition.

    Damage to an equipment would temporarily lower its condition until it was repaired. Also, every time an equipment broke its condition would be lowered by one tier; so if a normal sword broke two times, its default condition would be terrible from that moment on, making it always near the breaking point. If a terrible equipment broke it would be trash, and could only be scrapped for materials. To make things worse, there isn’t a number to estimate the condition. You can never know when it's safe to stop using that great sword, except for visual clues, like chips and cracks.

    Yushin knew that made blacksmiths even more valuable. Players would have to be careful with good equipment, and armor was especially vulnerable since no one would remove it during combat. He instantly regretted a little not starting with blacksmithing skill.

    ‘Skill list.’

    [Skill List]

    [Physical Skills]

    [Spear Thrust] Lvl 1. Atk 110%. Speed: 1.1. Soul cost: 5. Required: Spear.

    Info: a simple attack with the spear.

    [Strong Punch] Lvl 1. Atk 105%. Speed: 1.2. Soul Cost: 3. Required: Unarmed.

    Info: a strong punch.

    [Strong Kick] Lvl 1. Atk 110% Speed: 1.0 Soul cost: 4. Required: Unarmed.

    Info: a strong kick.

    Yushin stopped for a second to test out the skills. He waved the spear around, flowing from top to bottom. There was no big difference between real life and the game. Attacking was as simple as poking someone with it. Seems amount of strength and speed behind it varied according to his stats.

    As far as Spears went, Yushin was quite proficient at it. Growing up he loved “[Romance of The Three Kingdoms]”. Zhao Zilong was his favorite character, so taking spear lessons was mandatory, right?

    [Spear Thrust] was a direct short stab with the weapon, as simple as that. The range was ok because of the spear, but there was no other special movement behind it. [Strong Kick] and [Strong Punch] were also only a bit stronger versions of normal strikes.

    ‘It seems I can still use [Strong Kick] and [Strong Punch] with spear in hand, as long as I hold it one handed.’

    Satisfied with his findings, he moved on to the next set of skills:

    [Support Magic Skills]

    [Analyze Dungeon Gates] Lvl 1. Mana: 0.

    Info: gives information about [Dungeon Gates]. Data increases with skill level.

    [Open Dungeon Gates] Lvl Max. Mana 0.

    Info: common to all players.

    [Unlock Dungeon Gates] Lvl 1. Mana 0.

    Info: attempt to open locked [DG]. Depends on lock creator level or [Dungeon Level].

    [Lock Dungeon Gate] Lvl 1. Mana 5.

    Info: locks a [DG]. Lock efficiency depends on skill level.

    ‘[Dungeon Gates]? Are those the mystical dungeons mentioned in the opening? … Info: [Dungeon Gates].’

    Info: [Dungeon Gates] are entrances opened from rifts in the fabric of the world, resulting from the [Ancient Magic] utilized by [The Nameless Mage] to stop [The Endless Demons]. They can link to places in this world or another. Despite being called ‘gates’, the entrances are rifts caused by unstable mana flow and space magic. Upon leaving the beginner’s area, a tutorial on [Dungeon Gates] will initiate.

    ‘I see. They are just entrances, not the dungeon itself. Seems after I walk from this place the tutorial will start, so let’s move on.’

    [Crafting Skills]

    [Engineering]

    [Design Blueprint] Lvl 1.

    Info: Creates a blueprint used for crafting a tool or artifact. Designs are made with the [Designing Interface, D.I.]

    [Craft Blueprint] Lvl 1.

    Info: Crafts the corresponding tool or artifact from the blueprint. Needs a Workshop Bench and materials. Materials may be acquired from dungeons or crafted by other professions.

    [Use item] Lvl 1.

    Info: Able to use several kinds of items without proficiency, such as unidentified, bound and even with unmet requirements. Higher leveled and quality items require higher skill levels.

    ‘Tools and artifacts. I can either sell finished products or blueprints… and [Use Item] seems good too. I think I can do a lot with it. Info: [Designing Interface].’

    Info: [Designing Interface] is available to Engineers on a workbench. It can be utilized to create [Blueprints]. Blueprints can be:

    [Original]: No other blueprint was used in the process. Raw materials only. This is the simplest kind of blueprint. Example: [Simple Trap].

    [Derived]: Other blueprints and advanced materials are used in the process. It is a complex type of blueprint made from several other sources. Example: [Ballista].

    Blueprints are a trade secret. Formulas are only known to the creator, but they can be taught or sold (with restrictions or freely).

    ‘This system seems quite complex. I need to experiment with it later. Moving on.’

    [Hunting Skills]

    [Track] Lvl 1.

    Info: Able to follow clues to track individuals. They will automatically be shown on the minimap.

    [Skinning (Passive)]

    Info: Increases the drop chance of certain items by a small percentage.

    ‘These are pretty standard though. No surprises here.’

    [Leadership Skills]

    [Raise Morale (Passive) ] Lvl 1.

    Info: Allies (Friends, Party, Guild or similar, not recognized as a foe) on close distance receive several small bonuses. Current: +1% HP, Mana and Soul. The skill raises based on time and the number of people affected.

    ‘Only a single skill, and passive at that. Seems tough to level up. Also, a solo player would not be able to raise it fast. Those are all my skills for now. No point in dwelling on them until I learn a bit more about the game.’

    One thing Kingdom Corp did on Tales was to limit the amount of data available to players. There was no info on attributes effects on damage, no detailed explanation of what each attribute does and no data on future skills and which level they would unlock.

    There was no way for players to focus on pre-planning builds based on that information. Tales was designed with this in mind:

    [Information is worth more than anything.]

    In short, players would need to experience and analyze data and choose accordingly if they wanted to go the ‘min-max’ way. While it’s possible there will be optimal builds, Kingdom Corp would do everything in their power to make sure things are not that simple. Strategy and complexity should play a big part in this game.

    While playing, it was possible to upload data immediately to a social media of choice. It was easy to edit videos or screenshots in-game and even do live broadcasts. There was a lot of marketing going on around the game.

    Chat could be text or voice based. Text was considered old school, but many players still loved it; voice-to-text program was imbued directly in the code and capable of translating text from almost every existing language. The player could either speak directly, text using virtual keyboard or use voice-to-text. While using voice-to-text, they could mute outgoing sound so no one else could hear their whispers.

    Aside from that, there were many other functions, but Yushin was not in a hurry. That could be learnt as he progressed.

    Yushin trained for a bit using thoughts to navigate quickly through the menus. To avoid mistakes, usually commands had ‘Info:’ or something else before. If he wanted to learn about something, all he had to do was think ‘[Info: Dungeons]’.

    Also, as soon as something became known to him, it would be added to the info label. That was one of the tooltips on the skill page, but how it worked he didn’t know exactly. It seems if he learnt new things about one of his skills or items the system automatically added that info. There was no need for notes.

    After understanding these concepts, next was combat. The basic combat was just waving your weapon of choice around. Higher skill levels had a little bit of help from the system to target. Dodging was also the same way. Parrying, however, had a bit more complexity to it. Yushin wanted to learn about it, but the system said it would be explained in the Dungeon Gates tutorial.

    Traits, Skills, Advantages, Disadvantages and powers affected everything. Traits were a sort of “Awakening” system on the character's race and class; when some conditions are met the respective trait is activated. Advantages and disadvantages were gained during gameplay. There was no precise info. Powers were not explained at all.

    ‘They really are hiding a lot of info... I’ll just play my way. [Start: Dungeon Gates Tutorial].’

    Suddenly a blue arrow popped in front of him, pointing to a side door inside the beginner’s area. Yushin knew it was an [Instanced Room], typical from MMO’s. It meant he would be the only one inside. Reaching his hand a prompt appeared:

    [Enter Dungeon Gates Tutorial Room?]

    [>>>Yes.<<<]

    A light flashed and he was in a small room without windows nor doors. It was a pure black room with a white light right in the middle. The light looked unstable, and every few seconds trembled. Small thundering sounds could be heard. A clear voice spread:

    “Welcome, Player Yushin. To your first [Dungeon].”
     
  3. SmilingBlueWolf

    SmilingBlueWolf New Member

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    Chapter Three: Spear in Hand



    “Welcome, Player Yushin. To your first [Dungeon].”

    The voice came straight from the white light in the middle of the room. It blinked slightly and continuously.

    “This is what is known as a [Dungeon Gate]. Inside lies a door to other worlds or places. The reason it is called Dungeon is that it is always a limited space. No matter how big, always a confined space. Remember that well.”

    The voice then stopped and after a while Yushin realized it waited for his response. He then nodded.

    “There are many types of Dungeons inside gates. Some of them are short. Some long and wide. Some are as big as other worlds. Some are small as this room you are in. In fact, this space is a confined space, but not a dungeon. The true dungeon always lies through the gate.”

    The light flashed and a display appeared in the air. It reads:



    DUNGEON INFO

    BEGINNER’S DUNGEON

    TYPE ONE:

    RANDOM

    TYPE TWO:

    QUEST

    TYPE THREE:

    LIMITED

    DURATION:

    TEMPORARY

    MASTER:

    NONE

    AVAILABILITY

    PRIVATE (YUSHIN) - 47:45:56

    HARDCORE

    NO

    QUALITY

    COMMON

    PARTY SIZE

    1 (SOLO)

    LIMITATION

    ONE PLAYER



    “As you can see, Dungeons have several types and characteristics. This one is “Random”, “Quest” and “Limited”. It means the content inside is not predetermined and instead generated randomly. It is a quest based dungeon, which means there are one or more quests for players to fulfill. A limited dungeon will disappear after its completion, or if 48h have passed after it was discovered. On the contrary, a permanent dungeon will continue to exist. Permanent dungeons can be fixed or mobile.”

    “Can dungeons and gates be destroyed?” Yushin asked.

    “Yes. As for how that is for you to find out. Every info stated there is obtained through [Analyze Dungeon Gates]. Skill level and other factors will improve the data you obtain.”

    Seeing as Yushin didn’t ask any more questions, the light continued:

    “This dungeon has no master, which means it was generated naturally. Some dungeons can be conquered, others will disappear. Conquering a dungeon also gives you its domain. There is no limit on a number of dungeons one can have, and ownership rights can also be relinquished and traded. Dungeons are a source of power and wealth. Remember that well.”

    Yushin nodded again.

    “You can see this dungeon’s availability is set for you, making it a private dungeon. That probably means you were the first one to find it. From the moment you do, it’s generally 48h until the dungeon rights expire. Tougher and rarer dungeons have longer duration. Dying anywhere will relinquish the rights and turn it into a PUBLIC dungeon. Anyone can join a public dungeon.”

    ‘So dying has this penalty. That is pretty harsh. I can see people camping dungeons for kills… sounds fun.’

    “This is not a hardcore dungeon. Remember: dying in a hardcore dungeon will not only make you lose your own rights but also every piece of equipment you are carrying, including bags and space rings. Also, death penalties are doubled. Just do not die on hardcore dungeons. Really.”

    ‘Did it start to change the speech or am I imagining things?’ Yushin pondered. “What are the death penalties?

    “You will find out inside the dungeon.”

    ‘...What.’

    “Dungeons can be Common, Uncommon, Rare, Super Rare, Mystical, Heavenly and Godly. Of course, rarer dungeons give better rewards and opportunities but also are much harder than common ones. Whether to brave it or not is up to your skills.”

    “The last info I will give you on this topic is about party size and limitation of Dungeons. Solo means one can only enter alone, even if it’s public. Sizes go up until unlimited. About the limitation, it represents a number of players that can go in a dungeon at a certain time. This dungeon will only have one player to go in. If you leave a public dungeon, someone can go instead. In that case, you will not be able to go back in until that person leaves.”

    “There is much more to learn about Dungeons and Dungeon Gates. Not all dungeons are inside Dungeon Gates. Dungeons inside gates are called [Magic Dungeons], while those in the open world are called [Field Dungeons]. Exploring the world will yield many secrets. Also, Dungeon Gates can be used to link places. Find that out on your own.”

    “I understand.”

    “Now, go on and brave your first dungeon. You will learn about combat. Then the real Tales of the Heroic Kingdoms will start. Touch the gate and choose to enter.”

    Yushin went closer to the gate and touched it. A small prompt appears:

    [Do you want to go inside the Dungeon? Dying will result in the loss of Right. Going in and out of the dungeon is allowed at any time.]

    “Yes.”

    The bright light expanded and formed a real door. Yushin went inside, the door closed and a new area appeared in front of him. All happened very quickly.

    The ground was bloody red, the sky pure dark blue like open sea. No stars nor moon could be seen. It definitely was not the same world he was in before.

    “Hehe, surprised??” - That simple and infantile voice asked. It sounded like a young child.

    Startled, Yushin turned around only to see a small, ethereal form fluctuating near him. It had no fixed form, nor mouth or eyes, yet the sound still resounded clearly.

    Yushin bowed slight - “...You are?”

    “Your [Help Light]!!”

    ‘...Help Light…? Info: Help Light.’ - Yet no display came this time. He tried again with no success.

    “Hehehehe, It’s useless! I said I’m your help! I’m your [Living info]!”

    “...You kinda lost me there, buddy…”

    “Geez, slow, aren’t ya!? I’m the keeper of your logs and info! Every time you get new information it’s added to your command, right? Well, when you are in a solo dungeon I am summoned from that.”

    “So you are some kind of help A.I. for solo dungeons.”

    “Yes! Well, that’s all you know, right? hehehehe… By the way, I’m still nameless. Gimme a name.”

    “...Can you attack?”

    “Nope!”

    “...Can you scout ahead or use any kind of skills?”

    “...Nope…”

    “So you can only talk?”

    ‘Yes! hehehe”

    “I am calling you [Noisy] then.”

    “Eeeh, nooo… please have mercy, master…”

    “How about [Data]? Simple and clear.”

    “I like it!”

    “Ok, then your name is [NoisyData]. Let’s move on!”

    “Ehh, master~!!”

    Not paying any attention to the complaining ethereal form, Yushin moved on. The ground was uneven but steady. He was about to keep going when a display popped up:







    NEW QUEST



    Clear out the dungeon.



    P.S.: Simple, isn’t it?



    “Hehehehe, so it’s a [Mob Clear] type of dungeon. Just defeat everything inside and you’re done, master!”

    “...I see. Can you stop with the master thing? Just call me directly.”

    “Roger. Let’s go, punk!!”

    ‘...Why is the A. I. in this game so weird…’

    The layout was straight and without detours. Yushin walked and walked, but no sign of monsters. His tracking skill didn’t work either.

    ‘Am I doing something wrong?’ He looked puzzled.

    “Did you expect them to be out in the open?” NoisyData laughed.

    “...You could’ve spoken earlier if you knew something, you know.”

    “Hehehe, don’t give the fish… teach how to fish!!!”

    “...So they are not in the open. There are no signs of living things moving on the surface, so, either the sky or underground.” However, the sky was clear too.

    “Indeed, this is not a common world! They are [deep dwellers]. Your search skills suck, so I’ll help out this time. Here.” NoisyData pointed to an open spot. There was nothing special, just empty red ground. When Yushin got near, he felt the ground was soft and pierced it with spear. An entrance suddenly opened but took everything around him down. Including Yushin, who managed to land on his feet.

    “Hehehe, like a cat!!!”

    “...Do you have a mute button?”

    ‘Um, no… I’ll shut up…’

    This time he quickly looked around for clues but didn’t need to. The sound was getting louder and louder. There were a lot of enemies, but they sounded spread. His crash made a lot of noise.

    Spear in hand, his eyes wandered around searching for strategic places to use. He was in a closed space, about four meters wide. The only way was forward, so he did not need to be worried about being attacked in the back. There was also above, but since there wasn’t any activity on the surface it was highly unlikely there would be someone coming from there. Since he could not run, Yushin decided to hide in the shadows as much as possible.

    The first to come were two mid-sized figures carrying small sword and shield, with no armor and covered only by scrap clothing. They had hundreds of small, sharp teeth with a white glow and pointy ears, faintly reminding him of fantasy goblins with a darker outlook. As soon as they came in the space Yushin was, their eyes locked into him. Darkness was nothing to them.

    The first one opened mouth to scream, but Yushin was no newbie at gaming; He knew that was probably a battle cry to summon many other goblin-like enemies. Dashing forward, elegantly, spear pierced directly towards the enemy’s throat.

    CLANG!

    [PARRY!]

    The other one was not caught unaware. He didn’t even use shield, but lunged forward, sword in hand and parried the advance, deflecting Yushin’s blow easily. That was no easy duo!

    Yushin was surprised. Not only he acted quite fast but had good reach and surprise element. And he was still deflected. That was the ‘parry’ action. The goblin-like had a shield and still parried, which showed he was confident in his abilities. Seemed like those two were fairly high ranking and not common cannon fodder. Or so he would like to think because he was not ready to face many enemies of that caliber right away…

    Combat felt very natural. There was no delay from thought to action. His movement speed, precision, and power were all influenced by stats. Having real life training would certainly help here.

    The other foe chose not to scream and instead glared and rushed at Yushin, trying to slash him quickly. Seems he wasn’t considered a big threat. He was a bit open after the attack earlier and chose to step back quickly.

    It was not fast enough. The sword cuts lightly on his chest. Tales had no pain system, giving neurofeedback to the user, but there was still a tingling sensation of discomfort when damage was received.

    ‘Damn! They’re tough!’

    Yushin quickly steadied himself and held his spear with both hands. It wasn’t the best choice of weapon for that situation, but it would have to do. A spear master would not complain about space and instead, use his whole body as a weapon. There were many techniques for shortening spear attacks, but how far could he go in a VRMMO?

    The goblin-like on the right kept going forward. He was quite confident the other one had his back. This time Yushin didn’t begin but waited for the attack. The sword came from above the enemy’s head, about straight down to him. This time he was not caught unaware.

    Without attacking, Yushin quickly spun towards the left, preventing his enemy's shield use and trying to make it so that the other one reacted a bit slowly. As long as he couldn’t get there in time a blow would land, and it did. [Strong Kick] followed quickly after the spin, hitting sideways and throwing the goblin-like in pain to the side. The damage wasn’t as good as he initially thought; that thing still managed to bring back his arm and quickly block.

    He didn’t even get to finish the attack and the other sword was already coming to him; Instinctively raising his spear, he clashed the tip towards the blade of the small sword, promptly deflecting the blow.

    CLANG!

    [PARRY!]

    “...!”

    Now Yushin understood parrying was more complex than blocking by a wide margin. By blocking you would soak as much damage as possible on the weapon or shield, while parrying you would use it to deflect the upcoming blow and keep the momentum or make an opening on the enemy’s stance. Parrying had a timing window. If it clashed too soon or too late it wouldn’t work. It took a lot of skill to parry consistently, as attacks varied in speed, strength, and timing.

    Now he had an opening to exploit, and he wasn’t going to lose it.

    [Spear Thrust!]

    The goblin-like couldn’t raise shield in time, and the skill hit him straight in the chest. It wasn’t the most complex of techniques, only a straight thrust with a lot of power behind. A lot.

    The spear opened a hole in the enemy, but Yushin was careful not to leave it stuck. He didn’t know if that was a true possibility, but how could he risk it? Seeing the enemy wasn’t dead yet, he aimed for the throat, but the attack had no time to reach.

    The other foe had already recovered and rushed back, lunging at him with a [Shield Charge]. The damage wasn’t great, but it tossed him back a few meters. The goblin-like let out a huge cry. It was something that chilled Yushin’s spine down to the bone.

    It was not a battle cry.

    It was in mourning.

    His companion was at death’s door already. With that cry, the others would come...
     
  4. SmilingBlueWolf

    SmilingBlueWolf New Member

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    Chapter Four: Kill. Kill. And wipe them all out.



    There was no time to lose!

    Yushin rushed forward like lightning bolt, piercing high and low with spear as fast as he could. The goblin-like this time didn’t try to parry but instead used shield to block the attacks.

    Clang! Clang! Clang!

    Spear stroke yet shield still stood. There was no way Yushin could have penetrated through it with only those attacks. It was pretty sturdy.

    Meanwhile, the other foe started to disappear into nothing. No drop was left behind. Its equipment also vanished.

    If he wasn’t in a hurry, Yushin could’ve waited for the attack and countered, but now time was of the essence. More enemies meant the time to deal with each one was shorter. Those things didn’t have much HP, but their defense was solid. If he kept striking there was no way his crappy spear would hold out. If the dead one had dropped his equipment that would be a backup, but he had nothing of the sort in his inventory.

    Knowing he had no time, spear-wielding Yushin advanced one more time. This time he was forceful and determined. Instead of hitting with the tip of the spear, he feinted with it and went to hit with the end of the shaft. The goblin-like still blocked and at the same time slashed with sword.

    However, Yushin was ready for it.

    He never expected the enemy to be taken in by that feint. Instead, his goal was to draw in an attack and counter. Being ready, he quickly ducked, dodging sword and using spear at a low position to sweep his enemy's leg. The goblin-like fell, surprised, and Yushin stepped on his sword hand, proceeding to trespass him in the chest. A quick and well-executed kill.

    That thing looked with hatred in the eyes before dying, and our protagonist shivered a little. The hate felt so genuine it was hard to believe he wasn’t fighting a real life monster, but a virtual one instead.

    The body started to disappear and a small item dropped. It was a vial of blood.

    [Got Kruiknansian’s Blood of Hatred x1]

    ‘So either those things are called Kruiknansian’s or the one I killed was… I’m definitely calling them Kruik from now on. Anyway, since I can’t hide I might as well try to take them by surprise instead.’

    The structure didn’t change much going forward, bloody red badly illuminated. However, soon multiple paths appeared. They were narrower if compared to the ones before. There was absolutely no place to ambush. Those paths reverberated sounds very well, that was the reason he thought there were multiple incoming enemies. Their position was hard to grasp.

    At that time Yushin decided: he needed to be quick and deadly. One hit, one kill would work best here, but it definitely was not easy to achieve.

    ‘What are the odds of equipment dropping? One of those shields would help me a lot.’

    The good thing about being in a VRMMO is that he didn’t need to worry about physical stamina. His body would not tire. There was no stamina system right now, yet mental fatigue would still be a factor. How long was he able to play? How long could he grasp, execute and remember all those thought based commands? Could he maintain it for a long period of time? Could he do well under duress?

    So far combat has been quick and precise. Missing a few parries would mean death for sure. Maybe that was what the system meant when it said he’d learn about death. Are those enemies endless or is there a boss somewhere? He could ponder about it all day and still not find a solution.

    He could only throw himself forward and kill. Kill. And wipe them all out.

    Up on the surface, there were no traces of enemies, but down here his [Tracking Skill] started to be useful. He would see the small red dots on the minimap before even sensing the enemy’s position. From that moment on his actions were swift.

    First, he tried to run as fast as he could and attack before the enemy could react. The first time he did this the spear easily pierced a head. Strikes did more or less damage based on vital points and other physiological characteristics. Some would have weak points, some would have strong points there. For these goblin-likes, their anatomy wasn’t a lot different than expected. Head and Chest were fatal. Their thin legs and arms were also vulnerable.

    Yushin had no trouble taking down two more enemies very fast. After the first one got it on the head, the other one barely reacted. [Spear Thrust] finished the job.

    Soon he realized there were spots that could be used to run on the wall. In real life, this obviously wasn’t possible, but in Tales, it was easy for him to do. Even though he was a beginner’s character, he was still a [Hero] and far more athletic than the average person.

    With this new option, his attacks became diversified. Occasionally he would come from above, sometimes straight ahead. Around fifteen Kruiks had already fallen. They weren’t as organized as he initially thought.

    However, this wasn’t without loss. His HP dropped down to 1/3. [Strong Kick] and [Spear Thrust] were used ten times each. With the ones before, he only had 32 Soul left. His mana was full but he had no skills for it.

    ‘Is this not going to end? How many are there left?’

    Now in front of him was only one path straight ahead. The tracks showed two more dots. He had no way to heal and recover Soul. His weapon was also showing signs of breaking, like chips on the spearhead. He had a few material drops, such as [Kruik’s Blood] and [Kruik’s Teeth], but no more of the first one he got. There were no equipment drops whatsoever. He was really hoping his spear could hold on.

    ‘Looks like they know I’m here, no use in rushing ahead... ‘

    He walked slowly forward until the enemies came into view. Two more of the same Kruiks he had been fighting all dungeon. Those two were waiting for him in the middle of a circular underground room. There were no other passages or entrances and he saw no particular dangerous spots around, nor at the end of the corridor. In the middle, two stupid looking thrones made of bones stood. They had terrible taste.

    On the good side, this room was the last. But was it really that simple? Two enemies in an empty room?

    Well, it was not like he had many choices. No ranged weapons. No other useful skills. He couldn’t even detect any traps or hidden enemies, only go in and fight.

    Yushin took small steps and tried to be wary of his surroundings, but even that didn’t stop some kind of wooden gate to crash down and block his retreat. Now that circular room would either be the last of that dungeon or his tomb. At least until he revived, or however that worked in Tales.

    This time the enemy shouted something audible, like spoken language. Yushin couldn’t make anything out of it, but it was clear they were more intelligent than those before. None of the others could speak, at most grunted a little.

    The one on the right had sharp red eyes and used a two-handed sword. It seemed a bit too big for him to carry, but he didn’t seem to have any trouble with it. He also had leather armor. The one on the left had deep blue eyes and used a kusarigama. He wasn’t wearing any armor, but there were a lot of markings on his body that looked like [Runes].

    So, not only they were more intelligent, they carried different equipment. That meant the fight would be much harder. Yushin also had near zero margin for error, since both his Soul and HP were low.

    ‘Damn. That kusarigama looks way too troublesome. I can probably handle the two-handed sword, but if they fight well together… Those runes look like trouble as well. So this is the knowing about death part, huh.’

    He wasn’t in a hurry. There was no time limit, after all. Even though the dungeon info said he could come out anytime, that probably meant from the gate entrance.

    What would happen if he had to log out at that moment? While he wondered about it, the Kusari-Kruik grinned. He grinned and reached out his hand, calling Yushin over to him!

    The other one laughed and they both looked with pitying eyes. Those eyes would definitely work on most players. They pitied him so badly that there was no way Yushin would not be affected.

    Yet he wasn’t an impulsive person. He was calm and composed. Even overbearing. There were a few things in the world that pissed him off, but those kinds of taunts weren’t one of those. However, he still breathed deeply. Nothing was going to be solved by waiting around. With large strides, he went forward…

    Of course, the chain was the first to come. He was still a good distance away when he had to dodge. The sword-Kruik also went forward, but Yushin’s target was the kusarigama.

    He dodged yet another chain strike and met the two-handed sword halfway. Compared to the many strikes he had been dodging that one was almost too slow. This time he didn’t want to dodge left or right; he went straight for the Kruik, jumping while stepping in his shoulder. Not only he dodged the attack, but would also try to knock him down while aiming to get the other one unprepared.

    He jumped, spear in hand, but the chain strike still came.

    CLANG!

    [PARRY!]

    Now, that was a very difficult parry, and even he was surprised he managed to pull that one off. Just a little bit of strength and the mechanical timing just right, and the weight on the chain changed paths, allowing him to drop down on the enemy. While he was unable to use the spear after the parry, [Strong Kick] still fell upon the kusari-kruik.

    BAM!

    “.....!”

    The runes flashed and a small [Mana Shield] appeared around the enemy. The kick wasn’t able to break through. Yushin jumped back with the impact but the kusari-Kruik was ready for it. The chain went forward again and hit him straight in the stomach.

    Now, from his initial 1200HP, he had only enough for two similar chain hits or probably one from the two-handed sword.

    ‘A Mana Shield! Damn!’

    Well, he had no time to be worried about that. The sword-Kruik was already upon him.

    “...!” His body moved quickly. A faster sword would have hit. Instead, at the same time, he dodged and also extended spear, piercing and then slashing one of the enemy’s legs. He could’ve gone for a kill strike but feared the leather armor would mitigate the blow too much. Lowering the enemy’s mobility was a good thing right now.

    Yushin didn’t wait for the Kruik to respond. He rolled backward and just at the same time the kusari chain missed him. The coordination between the two of them was scary. When the distance was good enough, [Spear Thrust] went against the sword-Kruik’s throat. He was still recovering from his wound, albeit not deep. Like the others, they were no good with pain. Had he moved a bit sooner the spear would have missed.

    Yushin knew the enemy was already dead and wasted no time getting around him. The kusari chain came again, but it could not stop him. Now he was down to one enemy with a tough shield, but if no mistakes were made it still looked good.

    Seeing the chain was no good, the Kruik tried to go close combat, but it was already too late. Spear went again and again, and many times it hit shield, until both of them were finally broken.

    [Strong Punch] hit the kusari-Kruik face and his blade slashed Yushin’s chest, but in the end, it was Yushin’s victory. [Strong Kick] finished the job.

    ‘...Huff...Huff..Whew...Is there still more…’


    DUNGEON CLEAR!

    REWARD: [Soul of a Hero]



    “Wow~! You did it!” NoisyData was excited. Yushin smiled. He hung in there by a single hit.

    “So you can keep quiet when you want to. You didn’t speak at all during the action. When do I learn about death penalties?”

    “Erm… You won’t.” NoisyData said.

    “...What do you mean?”

    “You weren’t supposed to clear the dungeon!”

    “What?”

    “Well, most players can’t. They die and are taught about the system. Then teleported out.”

    “...Oh. What about this item then, [Soul of a Hero]? Give me info on it.”

    “I don’t know. I don’t have any!”

    “What about death penalties?”

    “Oh, I guess I can explain that. Like [The System] said before, dying will forfeit any dungeons’ rights currently available. Also, you lose 20% skill progress, money and is teleported back to the [Spawn Point] in thirty seconds. You are then confined to your spawn point for one hour of real life time. And this is only normal death penalties. It’s possible to have new rules in new places and modes. Be careful about it!”

    Yushin nodded. His first dungeon was quite the adventure, non-stop fighting and smart enemies. And it was only a common dungeon.

    “How do I get out, Data?”

    “Just go back to the entry point or use Command: Leave Dungeon. If the Dungeon is locked you need to force it open.”

    “Ok, got it. See you next time, NoisyData.”

    “Hehehe, I’ll still be with you, after all! I just think of it as a nap!”

    Yushin smiled. “Sure, see you later. Command: Leave Dungeon.”

    In the blink of an eye, Yushin was back outside in the room. The blinking light slowly disappeared.

    ‘Now I need to fix this weapon or get a new one. Come to think of it, drops were really poor. The bosses didn’t even drop any items. I wonder what this [Soul of a Hero] is though. It really has no info. My skills didn’t improve either and I can’t even see how much experience I still need.’

    [Exit Dungeon Gates Tutorial Room?]

    [>>>Yes.<<<]

    Yushin went back to the outside, but neither his HP nor his Soul went back to normal. Seems he had to find other means to heal. So, now, he needed to sell his drops, find a new one or fix his weapon and find a way to heal.

    Yet he felt refreshed. After all that action, he completely forgot what fateful event led him into [Tales of The Heroic Kingdoms] in the first place...
     
  5. SmilingBlueWolf

    SmilingBlueWolf New Member

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    Chapter Five: Learning About The World.



    ‘What should I do first? I only have 10 copper coins. These drops should net me some coins, but… As I thought, I need more info on Red Clay City, Vavell Kingdom, and surrounding areas.’

    Really, information was everything after all. To decide what to do and where to go for money and other activities the more info the better. Yushin had no idea about the city and its happenings, nor what kind of activities were profitable. The most direct course of action would be just to ask.

    Other players were still no good for this. There were some going around, many leaving to other areas and places. But since Tales was just released it was useless to go after them. Of course, in a few days a lot of info would still pop up around the net, but he didn’t plan to wait for it.

    “Where do I go for information?” Yushin asked a near Red Clay City Guard. They wore blue outfits with medium iron armor and glaives or swords. In most games, info could be obtained on [Taverns], [Guilds] or [Information Brokers].

    “Are you an adventurer, sir? If so, there are many [Adventurer’s Guilds] on Red Clay. Members of the [Temple] can also go there for information. [Mercenary Groups] and [Merchant Alliances] are also selling their info. The [City Lord Palace] will also gladly receive your honor and assist.”

    The guard was very respectful towards Yushin. Do they hold adventurers in that much regard? Are they afraid of pissing people off?

    Yushin nodded and bowed slightly. He planned on visiting all of them and gathering as much info as possible. He asked for directions to one of the Adventurer’s Guilds and then left the beginner’s area.

    There were many impatient players rushing outside the city, some forming groups and others going solo. The variety of races was also impressive. He had already seen about half of the races from character creation.

    After passing a few streets with nothing interesting on them, Yushin finally found one of the Guilds mentioned before. It was a very large blue building with Iron doors and a gaudy design full of bright lights. [Golden Rose Guild] read above the door.

    Yushin took a step in but was quickly stopped by one of the guards.

    “You are not worthy. Leave.” He said briskly.

    Yushin was stunned but quickly recovered. He nodded and bowed slightly, then left. He wasn’t someone willing to go in there after being told that, neither someone who would cause a scene for it.

    And yet he would never forget.

    Following left he quickly found another guild. It was much smaller, with a green outlook and made of some kind of very interesting wood. It indeed was much simpler than the one before and called [Free Forest Guild].

    Yushin looked around, but no one has stopped him this time. There were many other players and a few he recognized as NPC’s, such as the guards and attendants. A young looking man with small frame and blue short hair bowed in front of him.

    “Hello, Sir…?”

    “Yushin.”

    “Welcome, Sir Yushin. Are you here for registration or other services?” The young man asked, behaving very politely.

    “I would like some information first and to decide later.” He answered with a smile.

    “But of course.” Bowing, the attendant led Yushin to a small side room. A dwarf lady sat there and nodded when they came in. She had a dignified and serious air, and looked near middle-age. Hair styled like a single braid, no other defining features stood out.

    “Then, if you excuse me.” The attendant left.

    “Hello Sir Yushin, please welcome to the [Free Forest Adventurer’s Guild]. I am Moina, and I shall answer your questions today.” She pointed towards a well-built chair.

    Yushin bowed and sat. “I am new to Vavell Kingdom and Red Clay City. I would like as much information as you can share.”

    “Yes, if you join [Free Forest] you will have access to every bit of info we have. Of course, classified info requires a higher [Member Level], but basic info should be plenty for your current needs.” Moina smiled.

    “...” Yushin wasn’t willing to join an organization so fast. He first needed to understand how things worked and stood in the city, after all.

    Seeing he wasn’t willing to commit immediately, Moina added, “Of course, since you are new, I will share some basic info concerning the City and Guilds. Those are easy to find and I am allowed to share.”

    “Currently, Red Clay is the third biggest city in Vavell Kingdom, considered a [Second Class City], and is known by [Pottery], [Magic Dungeons] and [Archery]. Our Pottery art is unparalleled, hence the name “Red Clay City”. You can find many potters around the [Northern Edge] of the City. Merchants also sell it everywhere inside.”

    “For Archery, there are many teachers inside Red Clay. In fact, in the three oldest Adventurer’s guilds, all of them have an [Archery Master] present. We have pride in our arrows over here.” She smiled.

    “Three Oldest Adventurer’s Guilds? And how does one become an Archery Master?” Yushin asked.

    “Those are [Golden Rose], [Free Forest] and [Red Clay] guilds. They have many years of history and exploration, and hundreds of members. [Masters] are people recognized by a king because of their skills. That gives them glory and status everywhere, even other kingdoms. Recruiting of Masters can be very aggressive among powers.”

    “I see. Please tell me more about Adventurer’s Guilds.”

    “Well, there are many types of guilds, and Adventurer’s are just one of them. There are Mercenary, Merchant, Thieves, Mages, all sorts of Crafters and other related guilds. It’s one association for a common purpose. For the Adventurer’s, our goal is primarily to explore Magic and Field Dungeons, and expand our current [Frontiers]. In some guild’s case, they are also subordinate to a kingdom. You are allowed to rise ranks in a guild according to their rules and your contribution.”

    “Can anyone create a guild?”

    “Yes. As long as you have the funds for it. Though, in some cases and if you are creating them based on a specific location, the local administration might reject. In which case you’re better off finding another city or kingdom to dwell, right?”

    Yushin nodded.

    “Also, some types of guilds can have [Branch], [Divisions], [Subordinates], [Allies] or [Contract Partners].”

    “Sounds complicated.” Yushin smiled.

    “It does, right? But the basics are there. A Branch is merely an extension of the current guild, in the same city or another. A division is always part of the guild, be it a branch or main, and it is often delegated a different purpose. Mercenary guilds, for instance, have many divisions for different tasks. [Free Forest] has a crafting and hunting division, but no branches in other cities.”

    Yushin listened carefully. He was very interested in this subject.

    “A subordinate is created when one guild yields control to another. This can happen due to [Contract] or the result of a [War]. A contract is based on free will or previous [Binding Agreement], while yielding due to War will have other consequences. Allies are self-explanatory and will aid each other in times of War, and guilds can use each other’s dungeons if they are allied. Contract Partners are made with specific objectives in mind, such as the recurrent use of a facility or dungeon. It’s a temporary and less binding version of an Alliance.”

    ‘So these are NPC created guilds, but players can rise in ranks and become leaders. They can also create their own, and many subsidiaries, subordinates or partners. Those older guilds probably have some kind of backer though. Maybe even [The King] behind.’

    “What are the benefits of joining a Guild?”

    “Aside from information, help of the guild and other members, and special quests, some guilds have their own dungeons and facilities. Didn’t I say Red Clay is known for its Dungeons? In fact, each one of the three oldest guilds has their own dungeon. Some have more than one even. Those are well regarded as treasures, for obvious reasons.”

    “...I See. Then what would my obligations be?”

    “It depends on which organization you join. I can tell you about [Free Forest]. We are part exclusive of [Vavell Kingdom], and as such, any successful exploration you lead will result in a percentage of the gain turned over to the government as a form of Tax. They will also have priority on buying items from you, and you may only sell to outside sources after inspection. In return, they will offer you a position in the Kingdom itself in view of your contributions. You may even become [Lord of Red Clay City] or be bestowed upon a new city or settlement.”

    “Also, if the need arises, such as in the case of War or an external force attack, like a [Monster Invasion], you are obligated to participate and defend the kingdom. Failure to do so will result in being expelled, unless there is a good justification for it, such as being away on a mission. Every [Guild Member] receives special summon during times of need, so you should hurry back if you ever receive it.”

    ‘So, even though it is an Adventurer’s Guild, it still has ties to the kingdom. The other’s must be the same. If there are multiple factions within the city, then maybe behind each guild there is a different faction. Choosing who to help and who not to will definitely have an impact in the future.’

    “Besides, anyone is free to commission a “Quest” or “Task” from the guilds, and members will choose which to accept. There are even special missions regarded as very important. I can’t tell you more about the inner workings, but [Tasks] are simple objectives, such as gathering some kind of material, and [Quests] are more difficult requests, which can take longer and have many phases. Quest and Task Difficulty go from F, E, D, C, B, A, S, SS, SSS and SSS+. Needless to say, SSS+ quests are the most difficult and related to events like [The Calamity], and only just exist as a formality. There has never been a single quest that important in the history of the [Heroic Kingdoms].”

    “...I understand. What can you tell me about the Heroic Kingdoms?”

    “I can tell you that, besides Vavell, there is [Graceful Wind Kingdom] to the North, the [Aubrubia Empire] to the east, [Nealia Dynasty] to the west and [Grillia Kingdom] in the northeast, further from Graceful Wind. I cannot tell you any more than this unless you’re a member.”

    ‘So it seems the only one not bordering Vavell is Grillia, that means those other three kingdoms are the main competitors, probably even have some tension with each other.’

    “And the surrounding areas?” Yushin asked.

    “Each kingdom has many [Settlements], [Forts] and [Gates] protecting their territory, especially close to the [Frontier]. You might have heard about the Frontier already, but it is what we call the unexplored space after a kingdom’s domain. Each kingdom's law does not apply there and anyone can claim territory, as long as they can protect it from [Demons], [Bandits] or anyone interested, really. You can even grow your settlement into a city or kingdom! Isn’t that exciting?” Moina really liked this subject.

    “Sounds dangerously fun,” Yushin replied with a smile.

    “But it is not easy to do. Even the kingdoms only send a few expeditions outside the border, because there is a lot of preparation and danger involved. Holding a new fort requires great manpower and resources. Many new settlements are still being attacked nowadays, so few venture out the [Outer Walls]. There are many riches, including [Relics of The Fallen Kingdoms] to find and explore.”

    ‘And now players will try to get stronger quickly and go outside. Later on, there will be many new guilds and kingdoms, maybe even some Fallen Kingdoms revived. It’s a good thing they said this world is massive. Technology has come a long way…’

    “One last thing. Can you tell me about healing and selling items?”

    “Healing over time is really slow, so most adventurers go to the [Temple], [Tavern] or [Inn] for help. Each will help you heal in a different way and at a different cost. You also heal slowly outside most dungeons. Of course, [Healing Magic] and [Items] can also be used.”

    Indeed, Yushin had healed a lot since he left. It seems being inside Dungeons prevents his normal regeneration.

    “About items, there are markets and each crafter’s guild will buy specific materials. They prefer to buy in bulk though, so maybe selling to merchants and other players is a better option. You can receive coins for undertaking quests, and several guilds, kingdoms, and other organizations may retain you as an [Advisor], [Member] or [Guest] with a [salary]. Isn’t it wonderful? Though I spend mine mostly on wine. Wine is the best!”

    “I’ll remember that.” Yushin nodded. “Thank you for your help, Miss Moina. I will come back after I decide.”

    “Oh, you flatterer!” Yushin didn’t realize she was much past being called “Miss”. “I usually don’t tell people this much, but I got this familiar feeling from you… even though you’re clearly not a Dwarf.”

    Yushin eyebrows knit. ‘A familiar feeling? Maybe I’m half-dwarf? But I’m pretty tall for a dwarf half-breed…’

    Bidding farewell for both Moina and the attendant, Yushin left the Free Forest Guild. He had learned a lot about Tales of The Heroic Kingdoms, and there was a lot more to learn.

    However, now he knew the outside world was prime for exploration. A dangerous and exciting scenario filled with new discoveries and species. Of course, the enemies would also be many, including other players and NPC’s. Based on his first dungeon, the strength level needed to explore would not be low either.

    There was no need to rush into action.

    If information was key to understanding the world, connections were key to getting things done. He couldn’t do everything by himself, especially if he was going to compete with larger organizations.

    Joining Free Forest or other guilds had many benefits, but also many obligations. He would be bound to protect the kingdom at all times, limiting freedom and decision power. If he didn’t join, he wouldn’t get access to their dungeons and would be forced to rely on luck.

    How long would a small guild take to find a dungeon? And a good one at that? From what he could understand, the dungeons there were not common ones, but [Permanent] and most likely [Unlimited]. How else would it fit an entire Guild? How did they even get hold of them? Were them created or natural? Whose property are them? Can them be moved, destructed or stolen? If so, power was needed to protect everything.

    He got many answers, but even more questions right now. Even if he couldn’t answer them all, many options were there. Either joining a guild, creating one and becoming [Subordinate] or [Ally] to a more powerful one. He could keep exploring without affiliation as long as possible. He could join crafters or Mercenary Groups instead.

    But, to decide, he still needed at least to learn about [Red Clay Guild] and visit Merchants.

    In his mind [Golden Rose] was already nothing.
     
  6. SmilingBlueWolf

    SmilingBlueWolf New Member

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    Chapter Six: An Abyss Between Gamers


    Yushin was still walking around looking for Red Clay Guild when he found [The Crafter’s Street]. Of course, that wasn’t its real name, but it became known that way because almost every crafting guild in town was there. It was quite packed with player’s left and right.

    The street was long and wide, so people could carry stuff around without bothering others. There were many professions near, especially potters. Even though everyone’s clothes were still very simple, like the newbies they are, most people had already some symbol that identified which craft they belonged to.

    It was only then that Yushin realized he didn’t pay much attention to his clothes. He had a very simple attire on and nothing discerning his class or skills. With the absence of a very clear class clothing, it would hard to identify people’s skills and fighting style at first glance. That could be either very useful or very annoying if used right.

    To his left was [The Cauldron’s Smoke], an [Alchemist Guild]. It was pretty easy to spot with all the vials going in and out of the place…

    ‘It’s probable that [Kruik’s Blood] and [Kruik’s Teeth] are alchemist’s materials. I might as well go in and learn a bit about, maybe strike a deal.’

    Compared to the Adventurer’s Guild, it had much less manpower around and a lot fewer guards, but the number of attendants was doubled. One quickly approached Yushin. It was a sickly looking, long blue haired girl. Honestly, she looked about to faint.

    “...Welcome, sir…”

    “Uhm, hello. Are you alright…?”

    “Oh, yes, thank you very much.” She bowed again and again. “Would you like to browse our wares…?”

    “Oh, maybe later…” He was honestly worried that she’d faint on the spot. “I would like these appraised and some information.”

    Yushin slowly took out [Kruik’s Blood of Hatred], [Kruik’s Blood] and [Kruik’s Teeth].

    “I see… Then please follow me...” She then zigzagged to a side room, where many alchemists were waiting. All of them were NPC’s since players were not at that level yet.

    An old man was mixing a few vials while they approached. The attendant bowed, pointed to him and then left. Yushin was relieved she didn’t talk any more. He seemed to have forgotten this was only a VRMMORPG…

    “Son, which color are these?” The alchemist asked, holding a red vial.

    “Red,” Yushin answered right away.

    “...Your skills suck. If you are looking for a [Master], then leave.”

    Whoa!

    ‘Such huge difference in treatment. So, since I have no alchemy skills I am treated this way?’

    “I am only looking for info on these items and other subjects. I am not looking for an honorable master right now.”

    “Humpf, at least you have manners. The younger generation sucks. Badly.”

    ‘Weird. Definitely weird, the A.I. In this game is.’

    Yushin then showed him the items.

    “Hmm… Interesting. Those are [Unknown Monster Blood Type], [Rare Unknown Monster Blood Type] and [Monster Material Type]. All three of them can be used as alchemy material, however, I do not know their effects.” The old man held the items and used [Identify Alchemy Material] skill on them.

    “I used a skill on them. If the Guild had any info on those things called “Kruiks” I would’ve known about it. Those need to be researched, but the quantity is also too little.”

    Yushin just realized another difficulty in Tales: since there were many other worlds, there were many unknown monster types and materials. That means every new material would have to be analyzed and researched before their effects could be known. Many rarer materials could also pop up from new monsters, some very precious.

    Also, the old man saw the item as “Kruik’s Blood”, not “Kruiknansian’s Blood”. That means the name Yushin gave it became the new label for the item. The system really worked on perception and information.

    “Kid, I’m too busy to research this stuff. You take it and bring to a newbie. There are many outside who just joined.”

    “...I will. Thank you, senior. Can you tell me a bit about Alchemy?”

    “Do I look like your goddamn moving g**gl*?! Honestly, those brats!”

    ‘Eh? Did he just… mention RL stuff? Is it a bug?’ Yushin bowed and then turned around to leave, but the old man spoke:

    “Oh...Wait!!! You younglings give up way too early! Here, sit, sit… I’ll tell you about alchemy… I am an alchemist, after all!”

    ‘Make up your mind, old man!’ Yushin sat down.

    “Honestly, there is no secret. You just [Research] stuff, [Experiment] stuff and then [Mix] stuff! By the end you’re so stuffed you can’t see another vial.” The old man seemed pretty happy with his own small pun.

    “So, you need to research an item to know its effects, experiment with it to find [Alchemic Formulas] and then mix the materials? Something like that?”

    “Wasn’t that what I just said? Are you even listening, kid?!”

    ‘This old man…’

    “That is the basic stuff! The rest is trade secret, if you’re really interested you need to join... Hehehehe… But I still won’t take you as a disciple. Though you can do pretty much everything with only those three steps, like potions, pills, poisons, and others.”

    Yushin was about to thank him and find someone else to explain a few more things, but the old man was faster.

    “I know, I know, you want to know about the guild, right brat? It’s written all over your face… I’m no guide, but I’ll tell you about it. You remind me of a pet dog I had. He also looked sad and lonely…”

    ‘...WHAT…’

    “You know, the [Alchemy Guild] accepts any alchemists. They can take requests and see formulas, as long as their rank is enough. If they contribute with a few formulas of their own, it rises pretty quickly…. They’ll probably pass me soon… What a sad world.” The old man was lost in thought for a while.

    *Ahem* “Other guilds also recruit alchemists, so like most crafting professions they are not bound, unless it’s an [Exclusive Contract]. You might not know, but ever since that Nameless Mage thing used his power and made all mana go kapuff [Contracts] are a big thing in this world. You can also enter in an [Exclusive Contract] with an alchie or any other [Crafting Class] and exchange some benefits. Oooh… that’s what you should do. Find a trustworthy fledgling alchemist and make him your personal. That might get you access to good stuff.”

    ‘That is an interesting idea… I would be able to focus on other things and build a relationship. I’ll probably need a lot of alchemy stuff later on. But who to choose and where to find…’

    “That’s about it. I can’t tell an outsider anything too specific. Just remember we are very important in every country. [Master Alchemists] are as important as kings. If only I was one… Ah, woe is me…”

    “Thank you, senior. I will remember your words.” Yushin bowed.

    “Humpf, good kid. Now off you go. You made me talk too much.”

    ‘You talked all on your own!!!’

    Yushin was really tired. That was more draining than the entire beginner’s dungeon. And much harder to go through.

    Outside the room, the sickly looking girl was already gone. A plain man took over, and Yushin told him he was looking for an alchemist to form a contract with. The man then pointed around the room, where many people were trying to find their own partners and maybe form a party.

    Some of them cast a glance to Yushin and then moved on. He tried talking to a few people, but most of them already had guilds or friends to partner with. Finally, one was interested in it. It was a confident and bright looking fellow with sharp eyes and long brown hair.

    “Sure, I’m also looking for a [Contract]. What do you say you give me the materials, I experiment with it and then give you the results. If I make something interesting we can sell and share the profit. 70/30, since I’ll be doing the hard work.”

    Yushin pondered about it a little and nodded. It seemed a bit greedy and very vague, but he wanted to build a relationship anyway. If things didn’t work out he could break up the deal later on.

    “Hey, you!” A coarse and sort of annoying voice spread. “You’re an alchemist, right? Our group just joined [Red Clay Guild]. Do you want to become our private alchemist?”

    That request was directed at the alchie Yushin was talking to. The one who spoke was a fairly good looking man with blue eyes and golden hair. He carried an axe on his back and even had some equipment. He was in the lead of a group of five, with two women and two men in the back. The others only had basic starting equipment, but they seemed very organized about roles with diverse weapons.

    The Sharp-Eyes Alchemist looked towards Yushin and then the group, and quickly made a decision.

    “Sorry.” He said before going off. Yushin simply bowed slightly. The golden haired man gave a proud “heh” look to Yushin and the group left.

    ‘Back to square zero…’ He kept looking around once more until his eyes rested on a young alchemist trotting forward and backward in a corner of the guild. He looked really young, like around fifteen years old, and was worried out of his wits. It looked like he didn’t know what to do.

    “Hello.” Yushin approached slowly and smiling.

    “...H-Hello!” The boy answered back quickly, showing his good manners. He didn’t even look Yushin in the eyes and was already burning red with shyness.

    “...Are you an alchemist?”

    “...Y-yes!”

    ‘He looks a bit young, but… Well, let’s just see how it goes.’ Yushin tried not to look aggressive. “Do you want to make a contract?”

    The boy’s eyes suddenly lit up. “C-can we r-really…?”

    “Do you not have the confidence to do it?”

    “...I d-don’t… I-I mean!!! I d-do… but my skills are low level…”

    “I don’t care, as long as you do your best. Would you like to go adventuring as well?”

    “N-not really, s-sorry… I w-want to f-focus on Alchemy and become an [Alchemy Master]... I h-hate combat.”

    Wasn’t that even better for Yushin? Someone that had the guts to focus on his craft until he became one of the best? He really liked that sort of people.

    “I see! That is a great goal.”

    “T-Thank you! You are very kind, sir.”

    “Then, let’s set the terms. I will provide you with the material I find and you’ll report your findings to me. Formulas are yours, of course, but I will pay only the production cost of the items you can make. If we can sell them, we’ll split fifty-fifty. Is that good enough?”

    “Good!” The boy answered.

    “I am called Yushin. You are?”

    “Aurei!” Yushin was a bit surprised with the name, and a long carefree smile appeared on his face...

    Happy with the terms, both of them called up the system and made a [Contract]. Of course, right now there wasn’t much use for it, but it was proof of their deal and shared relationship. It was obviously a flexible system inside the game designed for people to make deals with some security.

    “I will add you as a friend, is that okay?”

    The boy nodded. He was very happy.

    “Then, please feel free to PM me anytime. I will give you these for now.” He then handed over [Kruik’s Blood of Hatred], [Kruik’s Blood] and [Kruik’s Teeth]. [Soul of a Hero] could not be moved nor taken out of his inventory. He still had no idea what was it for.

    “T-Thanks! I will work hard!”

    Yushin nodded. “I will go now, I also need to find a blacksmith to partner with.”

    “O-Oh! W-wait! My sister is playing with me, she is a blacksmith. She went over to the [Blacksmith’s Guild] right now! D-Do you want to meet her?”

    “Sure, let’s go then.” He was happy to speed things up.

    “Hum!” Aurei nodded.

    Both of them left and then headed towards the Blacksmith’s Guild, which was not a long way from there. In the middle of the way was a commotion in front of a building.

    “...Your character is trash. Either you change it or you’re no longer welcome to play with us.” Yushin could see it was the same golden haired man from before. He was arguing with a female member of his troupe.

    “...Why? Wasn’t it agreed before that we could play whatever we want?” The woman had white, double braided hair, and a lean, sad face. Her glittering blue eyes were quite alluring. She wore a common outfit and a [Mage’s Hat].

    “I can see this game is gonna be big. I want to take it seriously, what is wrong with wanting the best party?”

    “I will also work hard with this character. We just started.”

    “You don’t understand. You’re a [Pure Mage]. With thin mana, you can only use a couple of skills and they even do lower damage than normal attacks. Why the hell would you play that? It’s still early to change. Later on, you will drag everyone down and need to start over your skills.” He did not mince any words.

    “But… I want to try playing it, for as long as I can. We don’t even know much about the game yet!”

    The Golden Haired man sighed. “Then, you have to leave.”

    The woman looked around at the rest of the group, but they were all silent. Not a single one of them said anything, including the recently joined Sharp-Eyes Alchemist.

    “...Fine. I will leave [Red Clay Guild] and our group then. I hope you’ll be happy.”

    “There’s no way I’ll be, you know that. You should be less stubborn.”

    The woman didn’t answer and instead turned her back to leave. She passed by Yushin with tears in her eyes.

    He did not know it was possible to cry in the game.

    But he already saw that sort of scene many times in the past. To some people, games were more important than anything. To those that wanted to be the best, being casual was only a hindrance.

    That was the abyss between hardcore and normal gamers.

    Yet it wasn’t something he was willing to approve. It would never be.
     

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