After being dismissed by the AI, Darren once again found himself in a pitch black and silent environment looking at yet another goddamn countdown clock. If he had a body he would undoubtedly be tapping his foot impatiently. Of course, given that Karonite claimed to have gotten several million pre-orders for AoG it made sense that there would be a bit of a log in queue. That didn't make it any less annoying though!
Finally, after a little less than a five-minute wait, the darkness changed to bright white. When the white light faded Darren finally found himself inside of the game! He was standing in the middle of a massive circular room. The walls, floor, ceiling and Greco-Roman columns surrounding the room were all made of white marble. Carved into the floor beneath him was a massive magic circle that was lightly glowing blue and slowly fading away.
Also in the room with him were another nine people, all wearing the exact same clothes as him. Simple tan linen shirts and pants along with thin brown leather shoes. Darren looked around for a moment before a voice spoke from behind the group of ten, "Ahem! Welcome summoned heroes."
Darren turned around to face the voice, along with the rest of the players with him, and saw a middle-aged man wearing a scruffy looking breastplate. The man was resting his left hand on the handle of the longsword hanging from his waist, "Originally we only intended to summon one hero in each of the ten countries but it seems something has gone wrong and the summoning circles seem to be continuously summoning group after group of you."
The man sounded almost bored as he explained something he'd probably had to explain multiple times before, like one of those people working a ride in a theme park. Some of the other players began to whisper among themselves but Darren ignored them and focused on the man since he seemed to be in charge right now. The man continued, "In a moment we'll escort you into the next room where we need you to write down your name in our records. After that, we'll give you a small package to help you get started on your journey in this world. Unfortunately, since there are so many of you we can't give as much aid as we would have if there was only one of you. Ah, well, that doesn't matter." He coughed into his fist to clear his throat, "Welcome to the country of Reykhoten, you're currently in the city of Ulvstad and will be considered honorary citizens of Reykhoten from this point forward. Follow me."
With that, he turned his back on the group of players and walked through a large doorway leading into the next room. Darren and the rest followed, some of the other players still whispering among themselves. Darren grinned and made his way into the next room while marveling at the creative way the developers had decided to introduce the players to the NPC's. It seemed like the AI before was right though, the lead developer did have some unique tastes. In the large room was a row of tables with other men wearing breastplates sitting in chairs behind them. The guard that spoke before spoke once again, "Pick a table and simply write your name in the book. The guard behind the table will give you your welcome package. After that, I will explain a few things you should know."
Darren couldn't help but smirk a little while thinking to himself, "So this is what the AI meant about naming my character." He moved to an empty table and gave the guard a greeting nod before picking up the quill, dipping it in some ink and writing the only name he'd ever used in games into the book. The guard watched and when Darren was done he nodded, "Welcome to Reykhoten, Thomas Darkrose."
|System Notice: Name registered as Thomas Darkrose. Character sheet has been updated.|
Darren, now Thomas, nodded to the guard and accepted the small brown bag the guard handed over to him, "These are your starting supplies. First, a change of clothes, I dunno why all you otherworlders end up wearing the same thing when you arrive but these will offer slightly more protection. You will also find a small purse containing ten gold coins to help you get by for at least a few days. Lastly..." he bent down to pick up a shortsword and handed it over to Thomas, "Something to protect yourself with. It's not the best blade in the world, but it will cut just fine."
With that done the guard gestured for Thomas to let another player through so they could sign the book and get their supplies too. Thomas moved closer to the guard that welcomed them and waited, rather impatiently, for the other players to finish signing the book and get over to where he was. It only took a few brief minutes, but while he waited Thomas pulled a simple leather belt out of his starting bag and tied it to his waist to attach his cheap ass sword to. Once everyone was done the lead guard spoke up.
"So, a few things to let you know before you exit the temple. Originally the ten countries of the world agreed to summon ten heroes to help us deal with the growing unrest in the dungeons and the larger number of monsters appearing in the wild. Heroes like you always gain a special ability that we find extremely helpful in such times as these. Now, ironically, our problem is too many of you heroes. So, sorry for dragging you into this world but from this point on you're pretty much on your own. Don't worry, there are plenty of things you can do to earn your keep and help out the world at the same time."
Thomas almost started to laugh. Whoever came up with the setting was a genius. Taking the trope of a country summoning a hero and using the hero for their own ends then flipping it on its head by giving them too many heroes. Sheer genius. If he had actually been summoned to a different world like this he would be pretty pissed, but right now he was just amused. The guard continued, "For work you can head to the adventurers guild, or one of the various professional guilds, and pick up jobs or learn new skills. We've also assigned several of the guards to offer their help in training martial abilities for you, not for free of course. There's also a mages guild to help those of you with enough magic to learn some spells, also not for free. Or, you can head into the cities dungeon to defeat monsters and sell their magic cores and the monster drops you find. Most of the large cities in this world are built around dungeons. You're also free to leave the city and head out into the world to find other things you would like to do."
Thomas immediately decided to look for one of the profession guilds. He liked to craft and was curious about putting his 'Quick Learner' innate ability to the test along with finding out how crafting would work in AoG. Hopefully, it wouldn't let him down. He wouldn't have a basis of comparison for using 'Quick Learner' and not using it unless he talked to another professional player though, but that could wait. His first plan of action was decided. Get a profession and use it to make a bit of money until he can't afford to level it up anymore without supplementing his income. While Thomas was thinking the guard continued, "You should be aware that you are forbidden from committing any crimes within the cities walls and its surrounding areas. Any attempts will be met with swift responses from the guards. Offenders will be placed in jail for a certain amount of time depending on their offense. Within the city walls, the guards will respond immediately, outside the city walls it may take more time however. In the instance the guards cannot catch the criminal we will instead place a bounty on the criminals head that anyone can collect by defeating the criminal. So, do yourselves a favor and don't commit crimes!"
Thomas nodded along as he listened. It sounded like standard open world PvP rules to him. The city was a safe zone so no fighting unless you wanted to spend some time in jail. However, once you left the city you were fair game as long as the opponent wasn't worried about gaining a bounty on their head. Probably the further out into the wild you got the more 'lawless' the world would become. Not that it mattered to him, he planned to spend most of his time crafting and only going out to collect materials to save on money. He did like the idea of large cities having dungeons within them, it would make gaining experience to up his attributes a little easier in the future.
The guard looked over the group of new arrivals and nodded, "Well, that's pretty much it. If you have any questions you can ask any guard in the city. If there's nothing else feel free to leave this temple through the door behind me."
The guard walked off to the side leaving a wide-open path that lead out into the world. Wasting no time Thomas was the first to step forward and open the door. Walking through it he was greeted with bright sunlight shining down on a large city. None of the buildings were more than three or four stories tall and they all looked like what anyone would expect a medieval European town to look like. Thomas immediately made his way over to one of the guards and asked, "Is there an artisan quarter or something?"
The guard, a rather young looking man, turned and pointed down the main boulevard leading out of the temple's gates, "Follow that road until you come to the main intersection. If you turn left you will be heading towards the wharf and the docks, so turn right. There's a lot of shops and artisans on the main street."
Thomas turned to look in the direction the guard pointed while asking, "So this is a seaport city?"
The guard shook his head, "Nah, we're on the great lake. The ocean is about four-hundred miles east of us. Ulvstad is a city of trade on the lake, midway between the capital city named after our country, Reykhoten, and the port city of Kjel in the Kjersia Empire. If you went to the capital it would only be a journey of about thirty miles to the ocean, which you can take by boat since there's a brackish river that leads from the capital to the ocean."
Naturally, none of these names meant anything to Thomas, but he nodded along with the guard anyway. When the guard finished speaking Thomas thanked him and started to walk down the boulevard leading to the main street. The buildings lining the street were nothing special. Some were made of stone, others of brick, a few made of wood and several that were combinations of all three materials. They all seemed to be private residences since none of them had any business signs visible.
After walking a short distance Thomas turned around to take a look at so-called 'temple' he had arrived in and was surprised. It had to be the most beautiful building in the city. It was made completely of white marble with soaring columns and domed ceilings. The biggest dome in the center of the temple was even topped with a soaring golden spire. The sight was rather awe-inspiring.
After basking in the magnificent sight of the temple for a bit longer, Thomas turned around and continued on his journey down the boulevard looking for the main street. After walking for a while Thomas started to leave the residential district that seemed to be pretty empty at the current time of day and entered a slightly more bustling area. He saw NPC's and maybe even players walking around and having normal day-to-day conversations with each other. And that's when he finally noticed something he should have seen sooner. There was nothing he could see that differentiated players and NPC's from each other!
Coming to a stop Thomas looked at the people he could see and frowned. Everyone looked the same, well not literally the same. They were all human men, women and even children wearing clothing appropriate for the era the game was taking place in. Everyone looked and behaved so realistically that there was nothing to distinguish a player from an NPC. There were no nameplates, tokens, pointers or anything hovering above peoples heads to differentiate them. If he were to blend in with the crowd no other players, that didn't know him personally, would be able to tell he was a player.
He had been so excited and in such a rush to get started that he had failed to look for even the most basic of things. Grumbling about his own stupidity, Thomas took a step back and started to focus on himself for a moment. In most VRMMO's there was always some kind of heads-up display showing information like hit points and mana points. But like the AI had said there wasn't any of that in his vision. In fact, there was nothing in his vision but the world around him. He thought about his character sheet and it immediately appeared in his eyesight.
|Name: Thomas Dakrose|
|Experience Gained: 0||Experience Spent: 0||Experience Remaining: 0|
|Power: 3||(+) 40XP|
|Endurance: 3||(+) 40XP|
|Agility: 7||(+) 80XP|
|Magic: 1||(+) 20XP|
Aside from his name being added and some extra information tacked onto his Innate Abilities there were no changes to his character sheet. With a thought, he dismissed it and thought of opening a menu. Nothing happened. He thought about opening a text-based chat, and again nothing happened. He continued by trying to open a friends list or a party list, but still, nothing happened. Thomas found all of this to be exceedingly strange, after all these were basic features in about every game!
Since the only mental command that seemed to produce anything was thinking about his character sheet Thomas stopped trying to interact with the system for the moment and instead decided he needed to have a better look at the supplies he was given. He crouched down in a shaded gap between two buildings and began to dig through the small brown bag. Inside was a change of clothes that only looked to be somewhat more stylish than his current outfit. On the bright side, the cloth felt thicker and tougher than the linen he had on so it might offer some very basic protection. There was also the small pouch containing the ten gold coins the guard spoke of. They were small, not much bigger than the last section of his thumb and extremely thin. On one side was a relief of a man's head and on the other was a symbol that probably stood for the kingdom he was in or the mint that created the coin.
There was nothing else in the bag so Thomas stuffed it all back inside. He had very little to start with, but it would be enough for the time being. He climbed back to his feet and returned to walking down the boulevard until he came to an intersection with a large road. Looking to his left Thomas could see the road leading slightly downhill until it opened up into an expanse of crystal blue water. So, he turned to his right and started walking down the street and into the artisan district of the city.