In the process of creating my ki path, I was pleased to find that I had not only gained two levels in the Ki Control skill, but I had even gained a level overall. This made me smile, even though I knew that I would be nowhere near the top level of the area. Those who had been battling this entire time would be at least a couple levels higher than myself.

However, I wasn’t here to be the very best that no one ever was. I was here to enjoy myself as a player. And so, I smiled, sending a whisper towards Hela. So, are you ready to actually do some fighting now?

About time! Hela’s voice called out as soon as I sent the message. I just got another new skill, so I’m ready to test it out! Immediately after she said that, a window appeared in my field of view.

Hela has invited you to a party!

Mentally accepting the invitation, I was suddenly able to feel a presence off in the distance, internally identifying it as Hela. She was quickly rushing over towards me, so I went ahead and exited the inn to wait for her.

Sure enough, it only took her a minute before I saw her rushing over in front of me, stopping and lightly panting for breath. “Made it… okay, let’s go!” She linked her arm in mine, and the two of us began walking towards the city exit.

“So… going to tell me what skills you got?”

At the question, Hela turned her head to face me. She seemed to internally debate whether or not she should keep it a secret before shrugging her shoulders. “I decided to be a healer. You want your shadow to join us eventually, right? Neither of you are going to play healers… so I figured that I should.”

“Well, I say that… but right now, I only have basic alchemy and mana control. Healing magic is a higher level skill, so I’ve got to work my way up to it.”

I gave a small nod when I heard that, being in a similar position myself. “I suppose getting an item with healing properties would be too expensive as well?”

Hela groaned, her posture dropping for a second. “Five silvers for the cheapest one, I checked. Anything less than that only offers a slow, passive heal to the person wearing the object.”

“Well, I guess we have to do some farming, then. For now… do you have anything that could be used for combat?”

With her free hand, Hela reached into her inventory, pulling out a dagger. “All I could afford after getting the skills. Though, I think we should probably move a bit further out. Between the two of us, we should be able to take on more advanced monsters than the basic rats.”

“Wouldn’t other players be thinking the same thing by now?” I asked curiously, glancing towards the city gates as they came closer with every step. I could already hear the sounds of battle outside, and knew that the majority of the starting players hadn’t left the area yet.

“Well… They would have, if not for all the player killing going on.” Hela gave another shrug as she explained. “Since there were more players than monsters, grinding in this area became difficult. So people turned towards the only other source of experience that they could get, which was each other. A few managed to break past the blockade of killers, including Foxy’s group.”

“Those that broke past have been able to get into the better hunting areas, while those that dominate the area around the city itself are the ones that enjoy killing players. With the two of us… well, I think we should be able to get through.”

I sank into thought at that, my right hand clenching into a fist. “If not… I’ll just make a couple of scrolls and we can come back prepared.”

“See, that’s the spirit!” Hela smiled wide, nodding her head.

High above the sky, within the infinite void, a silver figure watched the world beneath her feet. Her body appeared relaxed, satisfied that the lifeless world she had been given charge of at last had people in it, real people with real thoughts and emotions.

As her eyes focused downwards, seeing through the clouds and across the vast distance, her head nodded gently. “It’s been long enough, and he’s moving. Time to start the first event.”

With a wave of her hand, a screen appeared before her, which she began to type in. A message to send to every player.

Attention everyone! Welcome to the launch event of Vision Expanse! As a celebration of this occasion, all exploration-based experience will be doubled for the next three days. Don’t miss out on this chance to be the first to discover new lands!

Outside of the three main cities, the fighting suddenly stopped. Players stopped attacking one another as they read the prompt that appeared before them. Only those who had to defend themselves against the monsters still split their attention enough to keep themselves alive.

There were some who thought that the event was too long to worry about immediately. Yet others who gave it more thought realized that it was just the opposite. By measuring the scale of the main cities, it was clear that the distance measured appropriately to real life, rather than a normal game. Running from the capital of one kingdom to another, even if they had a map, three days was simply not enough time.

For those who realized this, and wanted to take advantage of the event, there was only one thing standing between them and their goal. They gripped their weapons more tightly, forming into teams to attack the player killers in swarms. Within moments, a path had been opened up for players to leave over the corpse of their former oppressors.

By the time we got out of the city, I was able to see the result of Vivi’s little event… I felt like I was back in the fight against the elven army, back when I had previously been Tebor. My hand even reached subconsciously for one of the swords that I had prepared for that battle. It was a chaotic brawl, with one side having superior strength while the other had vastly more numbers.

Unfortunately for them, their strength simply wasn’t high enough yet to fight back the tide, and I saw one person after another falling. Some lost their grips on their weapons before they fell, leaving the weapon itself dropped, only to have it picked up by a passing player. Hela and I stood by the gates, stepping aside so that respawning players could run back out to fight again.

Ultimately, it took less than five minutes for the battle to die down after we won. Those players wanting to take advantage of the event took a moment to cheer and hug each other, some having clearly become friends in the battle. Most of them, however, simply dashed madly towards the road to flee the area.

“Well, I suppose that handles that…” I muttered, causing Hela to nod next to me. “Wonder if she has any more events planned?”

After asking that, I heard a response from my fairy, transmitted directly into my mind. I have several default events set up to assist the game’s development in the early stages. For this one, I used my discretion to determine that it was necessary for players to spread out far more than they were currently doing. In order to handle the incoming player traffic over the coming days, we will need at least twice as many starter cities available for them to choose from.

Players won’t be able to cover that much distance so soon, right? It took Aurivy and Tsubaki six months just to find two of them... It was pretty safe to assume that the message had come from Vivi, so I responded rather naturally.

Under normal circumstances, yes. However, the two of them were forced to travel very carefully due to their limited numbers and fear of lost progress. Likewise, Aurivy was purposely taking things slow so that she could properly enjoy herself. Here, there are several players that have skills which can enhance their movement speed.

Taking all of this into consideration, I determined that it would take five days to reach the requisite number of starter cities. Giving them three days to push themselves to the limit will ensure that they have covered over half the distance. Seeing the amount of experience that they gain from exploring, these players are more likely to continue for the remaining two days than turn around and head back.

I gave a small nod when I heard her reasoning. It didn’t seem to be inherently wrong, and someone who had already done half the work is more likely to commit themselves to finishing a project than to simply give up. However, the timing seemed a bit suspicious, and it was likely that she had triggered the event also as a way to give us an easy way out of the city.

“Well, let’s get going, then!” Hela tugged at my arm. “It’ll probably take a day or two before the monsters here are replenished, so we should grab another area in the meantime.”

At that, I couldn’t help but look around, the formerly chaotic battlefield now desolate. I couldn’t see a single monster still living, so my only choice to hunt was to move further out as well. “Alright. Keep an eye out for any materials, since we’ll both be needing them.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. But I wanna kill things!” There was a feral grin on the felyn girl’s face as we walked along the road. Every now and then, her ears twitched as if she was intently listening for anything that she could charge after.

It took about ten minutes of walking before we finally found a monster that hadn’t been wiped out by the wave of people moving ahead of us. A group of three that looked to be on patrol. If I remembered right from watching Aurivy and Tsubaki, they were known as hobs. Low level monsters, but they possessed their own tribal system.

Hela simply clutched her dagger, diving towards the three creatures in a manner entirely unbefitting of someone that wanted to be a healer. Of the three, two carried spears while the last dragged behind him a club as large as his body. He was her first target.

“Really?” I muttered quietly, charging over to back her up. They might be low level monsters, but we were still lower level. As soon as she got close enough to trigger their aggro, the three monsters immediately entered combat mode. The two with spears stood on either side of the third, lowering their stances and holding their weapons out threateningly.

On closer inspection, I could see what looked like fresh blood dripping off the tips of their spears. It’s not that they weren’t killed by the previous players, but they were too strong for those that had found them…

The third hob lifted his club just as Hela arrived before them. As the two spearmen stabbed at her with their weapons, he let out a loud shout, his weapon crashing down. It was a coordinated three-pronged assault, one that could easily kill a player of our level.

Thankfully, Hela had Terra’s combat experience. She was able to recognize the danger at the last moment and duck out of the way, though not before taking a vicious slash across her side by one of the spears. With a hiss of pain, she rolled off to the side, grabbing her wound.

That was when it was my turn to take the beating, having charged right behind her. With the club already lowered after his first attack, that hob was no threat to me. The two spearmen, however, were another story. I didn’t concern myself with the hob in the center of the formation, rather moving to the one on the right.

My right hand came up, its palm facing upwards to parry the goblin’s spear. Afterwards, that same hand lashed out, chopping down on the goblin’s head while my left hand grabbed the spear. To my relief, my strike was heavy enough to cause the goblin’s grip to loosen, allowing me to pull it from his hand.

The weapon was much too small for me to wield properly, but it was enough for me to twist it around in my hand and stab it back down into the head of its dazed former owner. Moments before I felt a heavy impact on my left side that sent me tumbling out towards Hela. Yeah, that was a club… he moves faster than I thought.

Still… one’s dead, and that left only two of them-- why are they running? I don’t like that they are running! As soon as the two hobs saw that their partner had died, they did not turn to avenge him. Rather, they immediately fled the scene. The one that wielded the heavy club even dropped it so that it wouldn’t slow him down.

“Did we win…?” Hela asked, still holding a hand to her bleeding side, her eyes watching the retreating figures.

“I… don’t think so? I vote we move quickly, before they return with reinforcements.” After saying that, I stood with a groan, walking over to the dead hob and looting it. When I did so, the spear that it had been wielding grew, left behind and adjusted to be an appropriately sized weapon. Aside from that, there was a single large copper coin.

Ten copper and a weapon… at least the hobs are valuable targets?


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