Kiro was once again back at the character design space.
It was the same white room as last time, but for some reason, the disembodied voice was female.
“Beta Test player detected. Will you keep your character or create a new one?”
“I will keep him.”
“Very well. Please select your starting city.”
“Can I choose a city with a Beginner Training Center?”
“As Beginner Training Centers are still undiscovered, they may not be selected as a criteria.”
“In that case, can I have a view of the world map.”
“The entirety of New World is still undiscovered, so showing a map of the only continent available to players, Ysilar continent.”
The map of Ysilar appeared in front of him. It was extremely similar to the map he had seen in the Basic Training Center. Kiro visualised the map he had seen there, concentrating on the location of the points as he remembered them.
Pressing his finger on a location of the map, he said: “There is a Beginner Training Center here.”
He started moving his finger around different places on the map.
“There is also one here, and here, and here…”
He stepped back.
“Can I start at a city at one of those locations, or the city closest to one of those points?”
He was suddenly transported in a maelstrom of light. He reappeared in a crowded square, in the center of a big city.
“Hum, I wonder if she got mad?”
YOU HAVE STARTED IN THE CITY OF GERENDAL, IN THE CENTRAL KINGDOM. CITY ALIGNMENT: GOOD, KINDOM ALIGNMENT: GOOD. THE CENTRAL KINGDOM IS CURRENTLY AT PEACE. THE KING, AND HIS MANY, WELL ARMED SOLDIERS TAKE A DIM VIEW OF THOSE THAT TRY TO DISTURB IT.
Ah, so I’m still in the Central Kingdom.
Curious, Kiro opened his inventory. Inside, he saw that must of the stuff he had, such as the loot he had collected from the monsters he had killed, was all gone. The only thing he had left were the books, the sword and the training weapons he had gotten in Astelam. In addition, he had 10 new pieces of bread and a canteen of water.
He also checked his status window. Since he hadn’t allocated any stat points from his level ups, his stats were the same as before the end of the beta test.
Then, he opened the menu. There, he indeed saw the System Assist button that he had been told about. Just under it, there was also a Privacy button. Curious, he scrolled over it with his finger to see what it did.
Allow other people’s cams to record your actions.
With a frown, Kiro deactivated it. He liked his privacy.
All that done, he decided to head for the training center. He tried to take a step and he was shocked at how the ground felt under his foot.
Having spent a year in a world with no friction, it was weird to feel his foot scrapping against the floor.
Tentatively, he took another few steps. The way he had learned wasn’t wrong, he decided, it just needed to be readjusted. It looked like he would have to
postpone his visit to the Beginner Training Center for now.
It had been a week. During that week, Kiro had done nothing but readjusting himself to moving around.
He didn’t leave the city even once. He walked, ran, jumped around and climbed up buildings. He did some of the same exercises he did during the year, and spent some time swinging his weapons around to get re-used to the sensation of a weapon in his palm.
During this week, as if to confirm the words of Mr. Durnal, his proficiencies all increased by at least one or two reasons, including his Unarmed Combat Mastery that raised to intermediate.
But most importantly, all of his Parkour Proficiencies jumped to intermediate lvl 4 or 5. His stats also increased tremendously.
Everything increased at such a high rate, to catch up to his true abilities, that he decided to block all windows except those that showed that he learned new skills or proficiencies.
All through the week, the players around and the Npcs were looking at him as if he were crazy, but he ignored them, focusing on perfecting his adjustments.
He took the time to visit the library, where his title allowed him to replace the textboxes he had finished with new ones. He resumed solving problems to increase his intelligence and wisdom.
Throughout the entire week, as in the entire year before, Kiro practiced meditation. It had become easier and easier to focus, which translated in great increases in concentration.
Finally, at the end of the week, Kiro had gotten used to the change in his environment, allowing him to move with as much ease as before.
It was time for him to visit the Beginner Training Center. He had already located it during the week, so he headed towards it without hesitating.
The Basic Training Center’s building reminded Kiro of a miniature Factory building. It was short building, with probably only one floor, and it was far longer than it was large. There were no windows that Kiro could see and the walls were made of very thick-looking gray stone.
It had a large wooden door on one end that looked like it could withstand a battering ram. Kiro assumed that was the entrance and knocked on the door as hard as he could.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
The thick door and walls muffled the sound from inside so he could only hope someone was there to hear his knocking.
Just as he was about to hit the door again, it opened, revealing a short man with spectacles staring at him. Kiro wondered how such a small person could open a door that big until he noticed just how buff the guy actually was. Is he a dwarf? Wait, no, there is no beard.
The man looked at him. “What do you want?”
“I’d like to do the Beginner’s training,”
“Go away.” Said the man, about to close the door.
“You strangers don’t seem to understand that there is a requirement to fulfill before doing the Beginner’s training. First you must complete the Basic training, and only then you can come to do the Beginner’s training. You can’t interchange them.”
“But I did complete the Basic training!”
“Show me the sword you got from the Basic Trainer.”
Without a word, Kiro pulled the Good Iron sword from his inventory and presented it to him. After hardly a glance, the man nodded and took a step back.
“Ah, yes. The stranger named Kiro. Master Roderick sent word about you. You are still the only stranger to have completed the Basic training. Come inside.”
Kiro followed the man into the training center and the door closed behind them.
Unknown to him, Kiro’s actions had been noticed by a few other players in the immediate area. He had become rather famous in town for his weird actions so it was no surprise that the players recognized him on sight.
A lot of other players, having heard from guards that this was one of the best place to train themselves, have knocked on the door trying to get in. But they were all sent back.
“Did you see that? That muscular dude let him in.”
“Does he have some weird skill that allows him to dupe the guard?”
“I don’t think so, he didn’t activate any skill, and just showed him a sword.”
“Maybe it’s a quest item?”
Having no way to confirm their guess, the players left the area.
The interior of the Beginner Training Center was slightly disappointing. The room Kiro was in had bare walls and a wooden floor. There was an armchair in the corner of the room with a small table on which lay a book. In front of Kiro was a wall in which two doors could be seen. One directly in front of him and the other one closer to the wall.
As the doors were barely three meters in front of him, it was evident that the wall sectioned the training center into two sections, the smallest one being this room.
The man walked away from Kiro to stand behind the door in the middle of the wall.
“Let me introduce myself. I am Master Destrio, responsible for the Beginner Training Center of the city of Gerendal in Central Kingdom.” He did a small bow,
which Kiro decided to mimic. “From this point on, to past the training centers’ tests, it will not be a simple question of time.
From now on, every training center will give you a task, or tasks and if you manage to accomplish them you will have passed the training of that center and will be able to move on to a center of the next level.
Do you have a question?”
“No, not now.”
“Good. Are you ready to past my test?”
Kiro took out one of his remaining pieces of bread, and drank some water to refill his satiety. “Yes, I am, Master Destrio”
Master Destrio put his hand on the handle of the door and pulled it open. Behind the door the only thing Kiro could see was darkness.
“This test is simple. Walk through the corridor and reach the other side. If you want to abandon half-way you can, just shout for help and I will come to get you. But then you will not be permitted to try my test again, you will have to go to another center if you want to try again. If you fall unconscious and/or die,
I will allow you to try again if you get stronger. Are you ready?”
Kiro took out his sword and a wooden dagger, walked past Master Destrio, through the doorway and into the hall. With a Clang! the door closed behind him. The corridor was plunged into darkness.
Kiro took a few steps. In the silence of the room, his feet resonated loudly. Wincing, he tried to walk more quietly, and succeeded in advancing without making any more noise, as long as he moved slowly.
You have learned Sneak.
Allows you to move without noise, letting you remain undetected from most enemies. A higher level will allow you to move faster and conceal you from more powerful monsters.
-Reduces movement speed by 50%
-Weak monsters will not notice you.
Current level: Beginner lvl 1 – 5.56%
Happy with the new skill, Kiro continued walking at a slow pace. But very soon, the atmosphere started affecting him. It was too dark and too quiet.
If not for the sensation of the floor underneath his feet, he might have thought he was back in his real body.
Clenching his teeth, he considered walking more noise, but then discarded that idea, unwilling to inform whatever was lurking here of his position.
Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain on his hip. A blade had struck, leaving a shallow wound. It hurt like hell. Or like in real life, damn that stupid pain setting! Kiro just realised he forgot to ask Mr. Durnal to change it.
(*Note: at this point I’ll do something a comment suggested I should do. I thought it was a good idea.)
At least he wouldn’t die in real life because of the pain, as the VR Pod was equipped with a safety measure that forcefully logged out a user who suffered from too much pain or a death that was too convincing, to prevent the brain from believing it.
In any case, Kiro was almost grateful to the pain, as at least it snapped him out of the depressing state of mind he was in. He immediately put himself in a defensive stance, all of his 5 senses in high alert to catch the next attack.
It came almost immediately after, and just like the first one, he didn’t sense anything until it actually hit him in the lower back. More hurt, lovely. He immediately counter-attacked and felt his blade strike something tangible, along with a thud that indicated it was something difficult to cut.
He concentrated, trying to strain his hearing and his eyesight to their limit, trying to perceive something, anything that would indicate another strike was coming. The only result he achieved were three more gashes on his two arms and leg.
He was becoming agitated. With a deep breath he tried to calm himself. Ok, I need to think this through, he though.
First of all, with the absence of light and the way the thing, or things, that were attacking him did so without making a sound, it was clear that trying to locate his enemy or enemies that way was a waste of time.
That brought out a question: how were the things able to locate him? There were many possible answers to that question. They could have far better hearing, eyesight, sense of smell, infrared vision or maybe they could sense his energy? Life force? Presence? This was a game after all. Something like that was definitely possible.
He decided to ignore the first few ideas he had come up with as there was nothing he could do with them. Instead he concentrated on the last possibility. Was it possible that they were tracking him by his presence? And if so, could he do it too?
He had read a lot of manga and books where the characters could do things like that. It could serve as a starting point. He tried to extend his awareness. But the only reward he got for the effort was another hit, on the calf.
“Ouch!” He couldn’t hold in the cry of pain.
It wasn’t working. He started to get angry and panic at the same time. His hands clenched on the hit of his weapons. He had received enough small wounds for his health to start decreasing over time due to the bleeding.
Why isn’t it working, he thought, frustrated. I can’t sense anything. And that, Kiro realized, was the problem. He had been trying to sense his enemies. But by trying to sense, he would be relying on his already existing senses: hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste. He needed to find a new one.
With renewed determination, he concentrated on his task. But this time, he turned his focus inside, to what he could feel. He started with his sight. That one was easiest; he could see nothing. He put it aside. Then he concentrated on what he could taste. The taste of his own saliva, his own salty sweat, he acknowledged them and also put them aside. He moved on to what he could smell. Again, he could smell his sweat, his blood, his own body odor, which reeked, by the way, and then discarded them before going on to what he could hear.
At first, it was nothing, but after focusing on it he became aware of the sound of himself breathing, and the sound of his heartbeat. He concentrated on them as hard as more than a year practicing meditation allowed him, before making them vanish.
Finally, he focused on his sense of touch. He could feel the weapons in his hands, the clothes over his skin, the floor underneath his feet. He took all these sensations and them too, he threw away, leaving him with nothing, with a void just like his body in the real world.
But this time, this place filled him with hope, not dread. He realised that the invisible and silent corridor had been built specifically to make it easier for him to reach this state.
What he was hoping to gain he would find here, where there were no other senses to distract him.
He stopped thinking. Learning to use a new sense wouldn’t come through rational thinking, but through instinct. Therefore thoughts were unnecessary distractions.
He felt another blade hit him, but he pushed away that sensation to, concentrating even more on himself.
Eventually, after seconds, or maybe hours had passed, he couldn’t tell, he felt something he couldn’t describe. As if there was an even denser patch of darkness to his left. Trusting this sensation, he swung his sword in that direction and felt it connect.
You have learned a new skill, Sensing Presence.
Passive skill. You are able to feel the presence of others around you. At higher levels, you will be able to distinguish between individual presence, sense hostility, when they will attack and even increase the range at which you can perceive presences.
- Sensing range: 1.42 meters
-You can indistinctly fell presences
Current level: Beginner lvl 1 – 45.67%
Triumph, that was the only emotion that described what Kiro felt right now.
Just then, the enemies, and now Kiro could confirm that there were more than one, started attacking more frequently, but that just made Kiro redouble his efforts at sensing their presence.
Whenever he felt a new presence, he tried swinging his sword at it. Of course, he missed more often than he hit, as he wasn’t capable of estimating their exact location just yet, but he persevered nonetheless.
After almost an hour, he became precise enough to connect with every strike, so he decided to switch tactics. He started moving, stepping around the presences he felt and striking at any new one he discovered, while using his wooden dagger to parry attacks. After a while, one of the presences vanished and he only understood what happened once he felt the boost to his health and stamina from his Berserker’s Soul proficiency.
A feral grin appeared on his face. Now that he knew they could die his confidence increased. He started to attack faster.
Several hours later, he realized that he could now sense the presences of everything in the room. He was also able to distinguish each one, so he knew he had only three enemies left. He lunged at one of them and delivered a flurry of blows that slayed it. He then ran to one of the two remaining ones and started attacking it. The other one closed the distance to strike at his back, but he sidestepped at the last second and his counter attack killed it. Another two strikes were enough to dispatch of the last one.
With all of the enemies dead, Kiro finally remembered that the goal of the training was to make his way to the other side. Feeling slightly embarrassed, he started walking in the direction he thought the exit was. He arrived at a wall, and after a bit of prodding he discovered a door, and a door handle. As the door he had come through hadn’t had that, he felt confident he found the exit.
Opening the door, he found himself in a cosy room just slightly bigger than the entrance to the Beginner Training Center. Here there were multiple objects obviously to be used by someone having just come back from the test. On one side was a miny forge, obviously to repair equipment. Beside it was a clay oven, one were one had to start a fire to cook things.
On the other side of the room was a bed and a cabinet that was probably filled with medical herbs. There was also a table, besides which Master Destrio was sitting, next to a plate of steaming food.
Looking at Kiro, he said: “So you passed the trial. Well done. I don’t know of anybody else who passed it on the first try.” He looked at Kiro’s sword, and continued: “Your sword must need repairs. Give it to me and eat, you look famished.”
Kiro realised he was. With a grateful nod he gave up his sword, and settled down to devour his meal. He wasn’t curious as to why the Master was there, since he could see the second door in the room that probably linked it to the entrance.
After he was done, he went next to Master Destrio, who was applying the finishing touches on Kiro’s sword.
“Ask, lad, what is your question?”
“What were the things that I fought?”
“They were golems. Enchanted to be noiseless and to be only as strong as the challenger can handle, as here we don’t test your level, just your ability.”
“Are all of the Training Centers like this one?”
“No, not at all, they are much harder. Actually, your level in Blade Mastery makes this challenge quite easy for you. Most people do it while it is still at the beginner level."
That was nice to know. It was great that that challenge was something Master Destrio considered easy. Although, it was true that it could have been much harder if the golems had attacked more frequently.
Oh well, in any case, he knew he had to get much stronger to past the next Training Center.
As he was thinking about the future training he would do, Master Destrio came up to him with a pair of daggers.
“Here, I noticed you use these too. Take them and show them to the master of an Intermediate Training Center. It is the proof you have passed the Beginner Training Center.”
There was no message this time, which was because he blocked most of them.
Master Destrio wasn’t done. “Furthermore, as an additional reward, you have the possibility to create a skill.”
“Create a skill?”
“The gods were pleased with your performance. As a gift, they will let you describe a skill you would like to possess, and they will teach you how to use it. It must be related to melee. Also, the more vague or the more powerful the skill, the more restrictions they will put on it.”
It was a great reward. It was a chance for Kiro to learn something new. After a few minutes of thought, he spoke: “I’m ready.”
A message appeared:
|Please input the description of your skill:|
“A strike delivered as the user unsheathes his weapon, aiming for a one-hit kill.”
|Please name your skill.|
A strike delivered as the user unsheathes his weapon, aiming for a one-hit kill.
- Before activation, the weapon must be sheathed.
-The strike must be the first blow delivered to the target.
-Automatic Critical Strike.
-10% chances to cause stunning.
-Does 15% more damage.
-Costs 100 stamina.
Current Level: Beginner lvl 1 – 0.00%
Do you accept this skill?
Suddenly, he received a message indicating that combat assist was back on.
He said: “Iai Strike.”
His hand reached for his weapon on its own, pulled it out and delivered a smooth blow before sheathing his blade once more.
Having seen it, Kiro disengaged the System Assist and tried it on his own. It took a few times but he was soon able to do it.
“Well done.” Master Destrio said. “The exit is on your left.”
Unfazed with the abrupt dismissal, Kiro left the Beginning Training Center. He walked to the library and located a map of the continent. After locating his current position, he located the nearest Intermediate Training Center. It was almost directly south of him, in the middle of a huge forest.
Kiro didn’t have any more reason to stay in Gerendal. He walked out of the city still clothed in beginner’s clothing and with nothing else than books, weapons and a few pieces of bread.
A few users that saw him leave commented:
“What is he doing, is he crazy?”
“What a noob. That forest has monsters level 40 and higher.”
“Hahaha, he is sooo going to die.”
“Lol, I can’t wait to see him running out with his tail between his legs.”