The Heart is a Void: Ashes to Ashes

The Heart is a Void: Ashes to Ashes


Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Traumatising content

For Karel, the search for power erodes the sense of mercy.

When a bug traps players in a new, immersive VRMMO, and begins to undermine the system that protects them from experiencing pain in combat, the players scramble to avoid becoming victimised. Some seek to hide or gain protection in Guilds, others seek power at all costs. Rumours of torture and possibly even real death begin to spread.

Many would-be heroes strive to protect themselves and others by becoming powerful mages, mastering the power of the elements, or training at combat with large weapons. While Karel had begun by trying to enhance his mage powers as far as possible, he eventually becomes disillusioned with this as he sees the power of others who use unconventional and amoral means to take advantage of the bugged game. As he explores this new, Free-For-All world, he must turn to cunning and ruthlessness to get ahead.

[participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge]

  • Overall Score
  • Style Score
  • Story Score
  • Grammar Score
  • Character Score
  • Total Views :
  • 802,484
  • Average Views :
  • 5,944
  • Followers :
  • 377
  • Favorites :
  • 87
  • Ratings :
  • 77
  • Pages :
  • 1,440
Go to Table of Contents
Fiction breaking rules? Report


Word Count (14)
75 Review Upvotes
Royal Writathon October 2022 winner
25 Reviews
1st Anniversary
Royal Writathon April 2022 winner
Table of Contents
135 Chapters
Chapter Name Release Date
Prologue: For the Glory ago
Chapter 01: Visions of a Dying Swan's Twisted Wings ago
Chapter 02: Boss Fight! The Protagonist Vs. a Chicken that is not a Chicken ago
Chapter 03: Aid dependency - Life passes by like someone else's film ago
Chapter 04: Chaos Emblem ago
Chapter 05: Tomorrow Started (Black Horizon) ago
Chapter 06: Far from Eden ago
Chapter 07: Altitis! The Strike of the Condor! ago
Chapter 08: An Assassin's Path ago
Chapter 09: The Art of The Gank ago
Chapter 10: The Gift of Betrayal ago
Chapter 11: Sacrifice to the Minotaur ago
Chapter 12: The MC gets loot, while the author contemplates the Chicken that is not a Chicken ago
Chapter 13: When you die in a sea of lava, that's amore! ago
Chapter 14: Ambushed! Intense Fight At Labyrinth's Edge! ago
Chapter 15: The Snake Boss Eats its own Tail! MC waits for the boss' HP to run out ago
Chapter 16: Storm the Gates! ago
Chapter 17: MC reads Light Novels ago
Chapter 18: Kill with Power ago
Chapter 19: The Ties That Bind ago
Chapter 20: The Noob and the Pendulum ago
Chapter 21: Where Demons Wake ago
Chapter 22: To the Batcave! ago
Chapter 23: Flying Rat Exterminator ago
Chapter 24: Draugr are bad, mkay? (The Draugr Invasion, pt. 1) ago
Chapter 25: Draugr Olympics (The Draugr Invasion, pt. 2) ago
Chapter 26: The 'I' in Team ago
Chapter 27: The Grey Horde ago
Chapter 28: Alien vs. Predator ago
Chapter 29: Iscariot ago
Chapter 30: Sensei is Displeased ago
Chapter 31: Do you know the way? ago
Chapter 32: Pronunciation Lessons ago
Chapter 33: Trial of Blades ago
Chapter 34: Final Wave ago
Chapter 35: Try spinning, that's a good trick ago
Chapter 36: Bleeding the Wounded ago
Chapter 37: The Replica Cottage ago
Chapter 38: Plants vs. Assassins ago
Chapter 39: Kill the King ago
Chapter 40: Anglerfish ago
Chapter 41: Blood Eagle, James Blood Eagle ago
Chapter 42: Final Answer (The Art of War) ago
Chapter 43: Aura ago
Chapter 44: A Saint's Tale ago
Interlude: HAIL THE BLUE BOX, GOD OF RR! ago
Chapter 45: Cave/Tomb ago
Chapter 46: Reptilian ago
Chapter 47: You Suffer, But Why? ago
Chapter 48: Sacrificial Ritual ago
Chapter 49: Raptor ago
Chapter 50: Fog of War ago
Chapter 51: Throne of Blood, Crown of Thorns ago
Chapter 52: Disapproval is the Real Spoils of War ago
Chapter 53: No Rest for the Wicked ago
Chapter 54: Bestiary ago
Chapter 55: In the Court of the Crimson King ago
Chapter 56: Bat Signal ago
Chapter 57: Shadow of the Bat ago
Chapter 58: Throne Room Mystery ago
Chapter 59: Coal Canary Robin ago
Chapter 60: Boss fight! A King With No Crown ago
Chapter 61: The Night Grows Pale (Queen Boss Fight, Part I) ago
Chapter 62: A Damned Kind (Queen Boss Fight, Part II) ago
Chapter 63: The Invocation (Demon's Gate) ago
Chapter 64: Will you forgive me for living? ago
Chapter 65: The Mask ago
Chapter 66: The Trigger ago
Chapter 67: Sherpa ago
Chapter 68: Alice in Hell ago
Chapter 69: A Charming Fairy-Tale ago
Chapter 70: Gadsden Rattlesnake's Venom ago
Chapter 71: Schoolyard Ghosts ago
Chapter 72: Edgecator ago
Chapter 73: School of Rawk ago
Chapter 74: Lutye ago
Chapter 75: The Man Who Laughs ago
Chapter 76: Chapter 1 Re-Write, Now More Exciting, Short and Attention-Grabbing ago
Chapter 77: Ite, mouse est ago
Chapter 78: The Mysterious Courtier Appears ago
Chapter 79: Out of the Den ago
Chapter 80: The Road Less Travelled ago
Chapter 81: The Mink Shall Inherit the Earth ago
Chapter 82: The Approaching Curve ago
Chapter 83: Burial Plot ago
Chapter 84: Leap of faith ago
Chapter 85: House of the Rising Sun ago
Chapter 86: So sad, her eyes ago
Chapter 87: Doorway to the Heart ago
Chapter 88 ago
Chapter 89: Candlemass ago
Chapter 90: Only the Vultures Will Come to See Me Hang ago
Chapter 91: Disturbing the Priest ago
Chapter 13?: The sound of the demon bell (Part I) ago
Chapter 13?: The sound of the demon bell (Part II) ago
Chapter 92: IH8 ago
Chapter 93: John ago
Chapter 94: SO MUCH I ago
Chapter 95: End Transmission ago
Chapter 96: The Impassive Eye ago
Chapter 97: Colossus ago
Chapter 98: Iron Fingers that Ply ago
Chapter 99: Hail to thee, blithe spirit! ago
Chapter 100: The Tao of Writathon ago
Chapter 101: Heavy Metal (Is The Law) ago
Chapter 102: Away from the Sun ago
Chapter 103: Serpent in Paradise ago
Chapter 104: Maricha ago
Chapter 105: Mechanism ago
Chapter 106: Endymion ago
Chapter 107; How? ago
Chapter 108: Another Candle Burning Down ago
Chapter 109: Crazy Eye of the Pyre ago
Chapter 110: Painbringer ago
Chapter 111: The Apocalyptics ago
Chapter 112: A Noble People ago
Chapter 113: The Overlord ago
Chapter 114: Your Cameo ago
Chapter 115: The Stage ago
Chapter 116: Ashes of Eden ago
Chapter 117: Gardener of Misery ago
Chapter 118: Just Closing Doors ago
Interlude: The Blue Box Returns ago
Chapter 119: Opposer ago
Chapter 120: Twinkle, Twinkle ago
Chapter 121: Pyre of Ashes ago
Chapter 122: Raising the Stake ago
Chapter 123: Dance of the Fireflies ago
Chapter 124: Swan Song ago
Chapter 125: In the Dark of Night ago
Chapter 126: Unity ago
Chapter 127: Speak of the Devil ago
Chapter 128: Take Everything From the Inside ago
Chapter 129: Eye of the Tiger ago
Chapter 130: Wildfire ago

Leave a review

Sort by:

Style: I don't think there's much I can say, the style is good in all ways. The word choice is great, the paragraph length is good, the word count is just right and not too short nor drawn out. The fight scenes are amazing, just need to point that out  absolutely amazing! So much action and you can really immerse yourself in the battlefield. That's one of the main strengths of this book, a lot of show when people are fighting and I absolutely love that.


Grammar: I'm not really a licensed English teacher, and I don't really live in an English speaking country. So with my current knowledge and understanding of the English language and its grammar, I think that it's pretty much correct.


Characters: CTiNAC (Chicken that is not a chicken) is the best character, and all other opinions are wrong because I said so. All jokes aside, the characters are good, though a bit bland. They're written nicely it's just that they just lack some pizazz. Maybe it's just me and I just like super complicated characters, but the characters just didn't feel exciting, though the fight scenes and the overall style and plot of the story still makes it super interesting, it's just a bit meh on the characters' side of things. 


Story: Super interesting premise, the story is LitRPG and the setting is very Overlord in like the main premise of the plot and what kicks things off (People are trapped in a VRMMO, if they die there they die for realsies.) But that aside, the story is super unique, if you like LitRPGs and Overlord then this is definitely the book for you! I also really liked the slice-of-life chapters before shit went down. Long live the chicken that is not a chicken, despite it being actually pretty terrifying if it were an actual real-life creature, just thinking of its cannibalistic glory gives me shivers.



Josh Wells

Overall: The Heart is a Void: Ashes to Ashes is a positively thrilling novel! Each chapter is jam-packed with lots of content, and the story does not shy from jumping right into the action. This gets a 5/5

Style: The style of the story is flawless. Each sentence flows very well from the next. As a personal note, I really love the paragraph lengths. They seem longer than what I am used to seeing but for me, that is really a good thing. They carry enough weight to immerse me in the scene without getting exceedingly long.  This gets a 5/5

Story: The story is fast pace. There is also plenty of litrpg elements present. I would say that the story follows lots of common tropes, but there is definitely enough variation there to keep you interested. The chicken that is not a chicken is definitely fun. Thos gets a 4.5/5

Grammar: No issues with grammar! Sweet perfection. This gets a 5/5

Character: The characters are great! I had no problem feeling for them, though they seemed a little two-dimensional at times. Largely though, I had no problem and thought the characters were all quite interesting to read about. This gets a 4.5/5

I'm excited to see where this goes! 


Style: The author is using the third person narration style. He was able to portray the expressions, actions and thoughts of the characters in a great way. One thing is certain, it really fits the novel perfectly.

Story: It's based on an immersive VRMMO's bug that undermines the system securities and begins to trap players making them experience real pain. One of them is the MC, Karel, who quickly followed the ruthless aggression way to gain power and protect himself from the bug. The storyline immediately grabbed my attention and the story itself is not disappointing at all. A beautiful take on the RPG genre.

Grammar: Top quality. As far as I read, I didn't find any grammatical error that could affect the flow of the story.  This shows that the author really devoted tome into this project. Great job by the author. 

Character: Only read a few chapters, but from the little I've read, the characters are well written. Characters are the heart of a novel. They bring life into it, and these characters really fit their role. The MC in particular,  he's a fun character to read if you don't mind a little ruthlessness. 

Overall: This is a great novel. Recommended. 


As usual, I like to get the technicalities sorted first!

-Style 4.5/5, Good worldbuilding, good choice of words, and damn is the action and fight scene great! I love the fact that when reading the action part I could vividly imagine it, but in my opinion you should split some of the bulky paragraphs, it's fine in all honesty, but sometimes it's just too thicc.

-Grammar 5/5, I don't have anything to say really, because there is no issues whatsover, it's clear and concise!


Now for the creme de la creme.

I frickin love it, the action, high octane, and pretty much nail-biting action scenes since the prologue is just great. the start is strong and pretty much gave me the gist of what this VRMMO is all about! especially the chicken that is not a chicken chapter, it was enthralling and weirdly funny for me on how much of an asshole the boss is! haha!

Now for the character though... they're a tini-tiny bit dull in my book, Karel especially, I feel like he could have been fleshed out more on being character, but nonetheless, it's written wonderfully and nicely by the book!


Overall it's great and I am excited on where the story will be going!


Sincerely, The Fiddling Cat.


James Tadhg

Here we have Cael in a VRMMORPG, where the stakes are raised by a bug in the system. I've only read to the beginning of when the bug takes place, so I can only comment on how the story starts out and where it might lead. 

I do think it might benefit the author to introduce the bug a bit earlier in the story, but what we get before it happens really did scratch that MMO itch for me. Even though shopping for spells and items isn't technically moving the story along, I did feel my inner MMO player scream with delight at all the options and possible combos and builds. I think the author has this part down really well and doesn't need any advice from me on that front. 

One of my favourite moments from the story so far is a small one: Cael gets to test out his new Spark spell and is bothered by how painful it looks on the first creature he casts it on. It happens quickly but it tells us a lot about him, and I hope we see more character inflection like this going forward. 

The chicken that is not a chicken needs to be mentioned as well, as it's the most entertaining quest in the first few chapters. Definitely some fun creativity there and I really enjoyed reading about that short encounter. 

Grammar is mostly strong. There are a few sentences here and there that should be reworked for the purpose of flow, but there really isn't anything here that breaks immersion. 

My only other suggestion would be to lower the amount of [bracketed spells/skills] that are mentioned in combat. This is another thing that scratches that itch for me, because I love skills/spells, but it can make longer combat sections feel a little more like a play by play. I think it would be awesome to have more colourful descriptions of skills we might already be familiar with, or even of ones we might not know, and have Cael occasionally ask at the end of combat what a particular move was. I understand not everyone will feel this way, though. As I said, it really does bring that MMO feel to life, and the author is quite good at designing them and coming up with cool ideas. 

All in all I think this is a very good start to an MMO gone wrong. Check it out! 


Story 4.5/5: A VRMMO game where players suddenly lose the ability to log out. Add into the mix the removal of pain management system and you end up with an interesting premise where people have to survive this new reality. How will they react? What will they do? All interesting ideas. The concepts been done before but it's a classic so the idea is fine by me. The story has potential to turn into something interesting. 

Style 4/5: Execution of the story needs some work. The author has done a good job creating the world, system, skills, and metrics. Now they need to bring it together in an interesting way that keeps readers attention. for example. It would have been great if the first chapter jumped straight into the story or set up the story to explain why the players are stuck in the game. Instead it took a few chapters to get going which made it hard to get invested.

Grammar 5/5: I wasn't able to spot any glaring issues with grammar. 

Characters 3.5/5: I think in this type of story setting, the characters become the bedrock behind the story. In this particular case, I wasn't able to get invested in the characters. Who they were and why we should care about them. This review may change over time. 

Overall 4/5: story and world have potential. Worth a read if you're a fan of VRMMO's and systems


I started reading the story and was a little turned off by the hard line LitRPG style, almost being a play by play of a player playing an game (how many times can I say play?). But it's obvious from the strict adherence that the author has a good grip on his systems he plans on using.

I should note, my review comes from a very early part of the story, but I do plan on reading this from time to time just because it's so well executed.

I knew I would love it when I realized halfway through chapter 2 that the "Chicken that was not a chicken" was in fact, not a chicken. When I realized what it really was I had a big dumb smile on my face. That was all I needed to know that the author really knows what they are doing and is more well read then what the genre might suggest. Over all, amazing story that I will definitely keep up with.


Overall-this story has started off great. I loved the plot and situations the main character put himself in and often find myself unsure of what he is going to do next and it has been very refreshing. 

Story- I feel like the last 10 chapters have drifted away from plot and things actually happening. It has turned into one long running discussion on poetry with very little development. 

I typically don't mind it and see it more as world building but when it's just one after another and then it the characters talk about it then another poem with someone else's thoughts with maybe a short story.... at this point I have lost enthusiasm to read more chapters and keep hoping for something to happen to change things. I would love to see MC snap and just start killing people just for a change of pace. 


If you’re interested in battles and long chapters mostly full of exposition, then this story is for you. It’s not bad, but could use a lot of improvement in keeping readers interested through all the mostly-unnecessary infodumps.

Style (4.5/5)

All of the early chapters are filled with exposition. It feels somewhat unnecessary at this point though, as not all of the information is really useful to what’s immediately going on. There are also very few interactions between characters, which really would’ve been much more interesting. Descriptions of characters and their surroundings are a bit lacking.

Story (4.5/5)

The prologue begins with a battle set some time after the first chapter. It didn’t quite pull me in though; there was fighting but not a lot of motives are given for it. The first chapter is mostly the MC wandering and testing out his new skills. I wouldn’t call it the most attention-grabbing (and keeping) of beginnings. The other chapters are also fights, but they still seem to lack something.

Grammar (5/5)

I saw very few, if any, grammar errors.

Character (4/5)

Nothing really particular shines about any of the characters. In what I read, we don’t learn much about any of them. In fact, I feel like we know more about the world than we do any of the characters in it; largely due to most of the chapters being exposition with very few places where the characters actually interact with each other.


Does a decent job of scratching the mmorpg itch. It's ok to turn your brain off and read. Very early on the game enables actual pain for the users and the mc responds with deciding to grief and basically torture people which I found pretty odd and unexplained.  Tarantino:feet levels of choking and shoving people face down into the ground. Like probably 8 people get choked every chapter it feels like.