Coming soon... Alright. Alright. I know what you're thinking. "Oh my god. He lost his sanity","We're going to suffer with another Kirito now","When we can burn you at the stake?","End this suffer now!" I was thinking to write another fanfic about SAO(for now, I'm holding the other one, "SAO: Parallel Works"). This time, I'd like to take out the harem/romance thingy revolving around Kirito. I'll try, somehow, to analyze each character personality throughout the series. From the accident until the end of Aincrad. And no, I'm not going to cover ALO and GGO...for now... If I need to, through this efficient poll, whether to substitute Kirito with another character or not. I guess that's it for now. Stay tuned for more. Hisoka out. Character sheets Spoiler: Kirisaki Yukito First name: Yukito Last name: Kirisaki Username: Kazuyuki Age:21 Gender: Male Appearance:5'80"(1,76 m)tall guy.Well trained build. Mid-short black hair reaching the cheeks and covering the nape. His eyes tend from dark brown to black. Personality: He's open to anyone willing to talk with him. When in difficult, he analyzes the situation with attention, avoiding to miss any particular. He tends to help out anyone who ask for help and has a particular care for her sister. Background story: Yukito and her sister Misaki were raised in a wealthy adoptive family, as their biological parents abandoned them at a young age. Yukito was brilliant and excelled in scientific and mathematic related subjects. As he reached 19, he has received a Nerve Gear as a birthday gift. Upon of the announcement of the closed beta of the Nerve Gear's first game, Sword Art Online, Yukito signed up for it and successfully managed to get in the thousand testers. As the game came out, he decided to buy a couple of copies for both him and his sister. Preferred weapon of choice: One-Handed Sword Preferred armor of choice: Light-Medium Likes: Games, computers, music and homemade cooking Dislikes: Sour foods Other: He has a fear of snakes and spiders Spoiler: Kirisaki Misaki First name: Misaki Last name: Kirisaki Username: Miki Age:15 Gender: Female Appearance:5'4"(1,64 m)tall. Slim build. Silky long black hair that reaches the shoulders and dark brown eyes. Personality: Her introvert personality doesn't make her an ideal person to talk with. Most of her times, she will try to find protection in her brother on her adoptive parents. Her personality as a writer, however, transforms her: she becomes determined and social. Such personality persists, most of the time when she talks to her family. Besides that, if something, or someone, hit her deeply, that determination fades away. Background story: Misaki and her brother Yukito were raised in a wealthy adoptive family, as their biological parents abandoned them at a young age. Unlike her brother, Misaki went to a female-only school. Her adoptive parents found her interest in poetry and literature and tried to encourage her to follow that path. Under the artistic name "Miki", she started writing a series of light novels, mostly focused on romance and drama. One day, a group of younger rival authors flamed her website, criticizing her work. Misaki, despite her parents reporting this event, got heavily depressed from it. Her brother, as an attempt to cheer her up, bought a couple of copies of SAO for him and Misaki, and a Nerve Gear as well. Preferred weapon of choice: One-Handed Sword Preferred armor of choice: Light-medium Likes: Romance and drama novels, cream puff pastries Dislikes: Tomatoes Other: Whenever she gets flustered, she would try to stay behind something or someone that would calm her down Aincrad Arc(started on 2/18/2017) Spoiler: Chapter 1: Land of Swords "Brother...Yukito. Wait!" Misaki ran after her brother Yukito, avoiding any eye contact with the other people in the street. As they ran around the corner, Yukito stopped. Misaki put her hands on her knees and tried to breathe. "Jeez, Yukito. Why were you running so much?". Yukito, as a response, slightly hit Misaki's head."Ow!What was that for?" "I told you not to call me with my real name,<Miki>. We're in a game. And you should not blurt out anyone's personal details. Understood?" Miki watched her brother with bothered eyes. That situation was unusual for her. It was her first time in a game, and she didn't know anything about how to behave in a game. "Ok. I got it, <Kazuyuki>...". She massaged the part that her brother hit. He went towards her and gently pat her head. "Good. Now, do you wanna practice?" "Brother. I...". She couldn't end her phrase, as Kazuyuki slightly hit her on the head with his palm. "Hush!Don't hold back. We're just having fun today, ok?" Kazuyuki started running again. Miki couldn't do anything except going after him. After half an hour of running, they arrived to the west fields of the Town of Beginnings. "Here we are. It's a great view, isn't it?". The fields were very extended. In the distance, there were a couple of cliffs showing up between a hill and another. Between the hills and the fields, there was a lake. "I thought I was going to die...". Miki layed on the ground, panting. "Why did you bring me here?" "To practice. Didn't I tell you that before?". Kazuyuki unsheathed the sword from the sheat on his waist and pointed it against a boar in front of him."Against them. They're easy to defeat. So it should not be a problem for us" Miki sighed as her brother looked her in the eyes like a defenceless kitten. "Why you have to make that face?It makes me feel uneasy...and it's kind of creepy" Kazuyuki laughed at her sister's reaction, and changed his expression to a normal one. "That's why I did that face" Miki smiled a little bit. Then, she unsheated the sword she kept on her back. "It's kind of heavy..." "Does it feel like it?". Kazuyuki roteated his, a longsword. It had a simple design. A double edged blade with a crossguard. But the grip was recurved. Miki's was, instead, a battlesword with a short crossguard and a straight grip. Just like her brother's, it had a double edged blade."I guess it's kind of surprising for someone who's experiencing the Full Dive for the first time. I felt the same way back then too" Kazuyuki went in front of a boar. He grabbed a pebble from the ground, and threw it with a throwing skill. The pebble glowed and hit the boar in an instant. The boar winced, and turned at Kazuyuki, charging at him. "Ok. Lessons starts now. Defeat the boar, Miki" "What?". Kazuyuki dodged the boar. But it continued its charging, targeting the next thing it could see: Miki."How am I supposed to do that?" "It's difficult to explain..." "What do you mean?Ah. It's coming this way!". Miki moved to the left, barely avoiding the boar. The boar, as it missed its target, turned back and charged again. Miki noticed it coming back, and dodged once again."For how long will it continue doing this?" "Until it hits one of us, and no one of us is a threat". Kazuyuki put his sword between himself and the boar, blocking the charge attack. The boar kept pushing, while Kazuyuki resumed his talking with Miki."How should I explain how the game works...?" Kazuyuki unbalanced the boar, and with a kick, it sent it away to buy some time. "...Consider the sword as an extention of your body. Ready the skill. And when you're ready, release it" The boar charged Kazuyuki, who blocked it once again. "What do you mean with that?". Miki was confused by her brother's explanation."How am I supposed to do that?Explain better" "It's hard to explain it, with a boar trying to constantly tackle you. Plus...". Kazuyuki moved the boar, sending it against Miki."...I think it's more about instinct. When you feel like you're ready, the system will automatically lock the skill on the target. So, you won't miss it" 'More about instinct?' Miki put the sword above her head, with the blade pointed at the boar. The left arm was pointed at the same direction. All of sudden, the blade of her sword glowed. Miki stepped forward and, in an instant, she went over the boar and hit it in the process. The boar's healthbar rapidly depleted, until the HP went to zero. The boar disappeared in a million shards, and a window popped out in front of Miki, showing up her rewards, Col and EXP points. "Congratulation. You just defeated your first mob, Miki". Miki looked at her brother, showing a broad smile. "But don't get too proud. That was one of the weakest mobs" "Really?". Miki sighed, as she sat down on the ground."And here I thought that it was a mob of medium difficulty" "Let's say it can become one, if you get overwhelmed by them". Kazuyuki sat beside his sister."Do you want continue practice?" The two continued practicing with the boars for 4 hours until Miki felt tired. "So...what do you think?How much do you rate it?". Kazuyuki sheathed his blade, while his sister kept hers unsheated. "I say I'd give it a 8/10. When we were at the Town of Beginnings, I saw no NPC that could give a tutorial about this game. All the other players just went to check the shops. Besides that...". Miki looked at her blade first, then she watched at the fields."...It's an incredible game. It's incredibly immersive!" "Is it?I guess so". Kazuyuki closed his eyes, and focused on hearing the sounds of the surroundings. The flow of the water, the tweeting of birds."I can say it's one of the few places that relax me..." "And what is the other one?Our home?" "Of course". Kazuyuki turned at Miki and tried to make irony over her question. "What were you thinking? I love being at school and such. But sometimes, it's a pain" "Ok. I got it. You don't have to joke like that". Miki continued."But I also feel like I entered one of the fantasy books you and mother used to read for me..." "It's kind of the same, I guess..." Miki stood up. She raised her hands and, with a swift movement of her fingers, she opened the menu. "Let's see the time. Oh. It's that late already?Brother, we should be preparing dinner for us. Our parents are out for business this week, remember?" "Oh...who was supposed to cook for today?" "You?". Kazuyuki looked at Miki with the expression of someone who didn't want to do anything."Ah. Come on. Don't get lazy now on me, Yukito!" "Alright, alright. I got it. Let's go". Kazuyuki smiled at his sister."I guess we'll play next time..." "Finally. Now let's...uh?" "What is it, Miki?" "...This is weird...The log out button isn't here..." "What?You might be wrong..." "I swear. It's not here" "Ok. Let me check it". Kazuyuki opened his menu and went to the <Settings>. His hand was frozen as he saw a blank space where the <Log Out> button used to be."It's not here..." "What is going on?" "I have no idea. Let me call a GM...". Kazuyuki went to the support section of his menu and requested for a GM."It could be only a bug. But..." "But...?" "It's weird. The developers go through a series of check-ups to see if there's any bug" "Could it be that they didn't warn the players about this bug to try not to bring chaos between them?" "It can't be. If they missed one right after the release of the game, they would usually close the servers to try to fix that. But in this case they didn't". Kazuyuki went from a calm face to a more nervous one. "But there's got to be another way to log out, right?". Miki looked and sounded more nervous for each second that has passed. "There is one". Kazuyuki tried to stay calm, but he sighed and continued."But we need someone from the outside to remove our Nerve Gear from our heads" "We have possibly the worst luck for today, uh?". Miki sat down and sighed as well."So...the only option for us now is to wait, right?" "Yeah..." Suddently, a light covered Miki who screamed."Brother!" "Miki. Are you...?". Kazuyuki couldn't end his phrase, that he got covered by a light as well. Kazuyuki closed his eyes, and when he opened them, he found himself in the middle of the plaza of the Town of Beginnings. "Teleportation?". Kazuyuki looked concerned about the reason of that forced teleportation."Why now?" He was also preoccupied about his sister's whereabouts. But that preoccupation disappeard as he heard his sister calling him. "Brother? Are you here?" "Yes, yes. I'm here. Don't start dragging the attention on us, Miki" "Sorry" The sky turned into a bloody red color. All of sudden, a weird liquid started pouring down from it. The liquid gathered above the dome of the Black Iron Palace, and slowly transformed in a human-like figure. Welcome to you, players of Sword Art Online! The voice echoed across the entire plaza, taking the attention of all the players in it. I know you're concerned about this sudden situation. But first thing first... My name is Kayaba Akihiko, the creator of this world The players started murmuring each other about that introduction "Kayaba Akihiko?Seriously?" "Really?The creator of the game?" "I think it's an announcement to introduce the game" As many of you noticed, the menu doesn't have the 'Log Out' button in it But this is not a bug. It's a feature of the game. I repeat. This is not a bug. It's a feature of the real Sword Art Online The voice of some players cracked, and the preoccupation started spreading across the crowd. "Brother, what is he saying?It's must be a joke, right?" "I...". Kazuyuki gulped and remained silent for a couple of seconds. "...I have no idea, Miki" The only way to exit from the game is to clear the entire 100 floors of Aincrad Clearing the 100th floor will permit you to log out from the game "You have to be kidding with us, Kayaba" "It's impossible. The beta testers didn't even manage to get over the 10th floor!" "Is it true, Yukito?" "Yes. As much as I know, the closed beta's frontline never managed to clear the 11th floor before the test was over" Kayaba continued his speech. However, if during this quest to clear the floors your healthbar gets depleted... ...microwaves will be sent to your brain, destroying its cells In other words, if you die in the game, you'll die in the real world as well Kazuyuki remained in silence. He didn't need to check his sister, as they both had the same reaction. 'I don't know, but I have the feeling he's saying the truth...' Your parents and guardians have been already been warned about this Also, if someone from outside tries to remove your helmet, the latter will still happen Microwaves will be sent, and you'll die Some people didn't want to care about that. And because of it, 213 players left us. Miki put a hand on her mouth to muffle a feeble scream. Now...If you check your inventory, there's an object I left for you. Everyone checked their inventory, and picked the object that they just received. "What is it?". Kazuyuki looked at the object. It was squared and had a reflective part."A...mirror?" Kazuyuki looked himself on it. He looked at his own avatar. Silver hair. Dark blue eyes... Without a second of reaction, Kazuyuki got covered by another beam of light. He closed his eyes once again. The light went through the eyelids, and Kazuyuki was sure that he heard his sister's voice. When the light disappeared, Kazuyuki looked on the mirror again. He was looking to a different person. Mid-short black hair. Dark brown/black eyes.... Kazuyuki recognized every particular of that face. His real face... He instinctively turned at his sister. Her appearance changed as well, turning to her real one. Their height changed as well. Miki was shorter than she was before. "What is going on here?" The preoccupation turned into shock, leaving the people with questions about what was happening. "Y-Yukito...how did he do that?". Miki dropped her mirror which shattered at the impact on the ground."Not only he managed to reproduce our faces...he reproduced our entire body as well..." "Uhm...I might have an explanation about that". Kazuyuki raised a finger, as to number his explanations. However, his expression was still nervous. He looked at the ground while he explained his hypothesis. "First of all, the face. Since the Nerve Gear covers the entire head, it could have analyzed every detail of our faces..." Then he raised a second finger."Second, the body. If I remember well, there's a calibration system whenever you ran the game in the Nerve Gear. I guess that calibration makes a scan of your whole body, in order to adapt it to your avatar..." Many of you are saying 'Why?', or 'How is it possible?' There's only one thing that you need to know. This is now your world, and, in order to survive, you'll have to clear all of its floors This concludes the introduction of the real Sword Art Online ...Good luck, players... The entity, as it appeared, it disappeared in an instant. The plaza went quiet. Then, all of sudden, the chaos spread across the players, who rushed to the exits. "Don't screw with us!" "Let us leave!" "I have things to do. Let us out!" While everyone ran away, a few people went on the floor. Crying. Praying. Saying it was all a bad dream. Kazuyuki and Miki stood there, undecided whether to run or stay. Then Kazuyuki came to his senses and turned at Miki. "No...no. This isn't happening..." "Miki...Miki...". Kazuyuki grabbed his sister by the shoulders and tried to take her attention."Misaki!" Miki raised her head, watching Kazuyuki. "Misaki. I know you're still shocked. But listen up. We need to get away from here" Kazuyuki grabbed Miki by her hand and dragged across the entire run. As they went far enough, Miki spoke. "Yukito...Yukito. You're hurting my hand" Kazuyuki left Miki, that started massaging her hand."Sorry, Misaki" "I'm fine...". Miki was panting. Her expression was emotionless."What's next?" "This town is no help for us". Kazuyuki sat down. Miki did the same. As they were recovering, Kazuyuki continued explaining."Most of the players rushed to the vendors and the shops, and most probably they took as much items as they could...Our only choice is to reach another town" Kazuyuki opened his menu, and selected the <Map> option. Then he pointed a place on the map."We could go through this path, avoiding most of the dangers out there" Miki began to space out as her brother continued his explanation. Then a snap of fingers brought her back. "Misaki, I know this is an unbelievable situation, but I need you to focus..." "I'm sorry" "You don't have to be". Kazuyuki put a hand on Miki's head and started caressing her, all of it while trying to show a smile at her."Don't worry. I'll always be with you" Miki wanted to cry, but she felt like it was not a good situation to do so. She wiped the tear that were coming out."Thank you, Yuki-...<Kazuyuki>" Kazeyuki made a step. Then he turned at his sister."Miki...?" "Yes?" "If you feel uneasy to call me <Kazuyuki>, just shorten it ot <Yuki>. Is it ok?" Miki smiled. Kazuyuki smiled back. "When we're going?". She asked. "Right now. Follow me" Spoiler: Chapter 2:The Anneal Blade(part 1) Kazuyuki woke up, feeling half of his body awaken and the other half still asleep. He tried to stand, but felt something forcefully holding him by his left arm. He turned around, only to see Miki who used his arm as a sleeping pillow. "Miki". He whispered. His sister mumbled for a couple of seconds, then she continued to sleep calmly. "Heeeey, Miki...My arm...Mikiii..." As he realized that his sister would keep sleeping, Kazuyuki carefully lifted her head with his free hand. He slided his left arm away, and proceeded to gently lay her head on the pillow. Kazuyuki sighed, looking at Miki as he massaged his left arm. He looked her child-like expression. His expression softened at that sight 'Guess there's no use to wake her up...' Kazuyuki stood up and went out the room. As he went down the stairs, he heard a conversation between players. They both sounded tired, like they just arrived. "Did you see him?" "Yeah...we still don't know if he actually made it" "But what if he didn't?He jumped off to his death?" The other one paused for a minute. Then he replied. "...I don't know. For now we know that we can't get out from this infernal game. We do know that if someone...well...dies...their names are being crossed out from that big stone wall that blocks what was supposed to be the respawn area...We already lost 11 people now..." They walked out the inn. Kazuyuki went down the stairs and sat on a table. The NPC went beside him and waited for Kazuyuki to choose what to eat. Kazuyuki didn't take anything, and the NPC walked back to the counter. With a hand trying to massage his forehead, he tried to recall the dialogue between the two players. 'This isn't good. We're already losing players...And this player? What did he think? Jumping off? Is it even possible that he did make it, and log out?Or he just fried his head in this futile attempt'. Kazuyuki stood up and went outside. 'Guess I'll just go for a walk. Maybe it will clear my mind for a while...' There wasn't anything much to search in Horunka. The village had 7 houses, a weapon shop, a tool shop and the inn. In total, 10 buildings. Kazuyuki walked past one of those houses, and noticed a NPC woman taking care of her garden. As she raised her head, the woman's eyes focused on Kazuyuki's. "Oh. Hello. You must be new in town" "Please, do come in. We're all open to travellers" Kazuyuki stood there, in silence. Then he proceeded to follow her in the home. It was a simple house. All the furnishing was made of wood. Only the kitchen was made of bricks. The woman went next to the corridor and indicated a chair. "Please. Take a seat" She went to the kitchen, and came out with a glass of water. "Here. Feel free to drink. I know it's not much. But I currently don't have food" Kirito looked at the glass he was holding. Then his eyes went to the nearby kitchen. It was small. All the pots were all gathered on one side. All empty. Except for one. He leaned a little bit over, and saw something that resembled some kind of vegetable soup. He looked the glass of water. Then he looked at the woman. "Yeah. It's not much. But I gladly accept it. Thank you" All of sudden, a loud cough came from a room nearby the one where Kazuyuki was in. "...I'm sorry. I'll be back in a minute". The woman went to the room where the noise came from. She later came back, with a more nervous expression. "I have to apologize. I lied about not having food at all. I do know we don't have much. But...". She paused for a second; then she resumed. "...I'd like to ask you something" Kazuyuki nodded. She started explaining. "You see...I have a daughter, living with me. Her name's Agatha. But she's been struck by a high fever" "The people of the village tried to help her with the medicines we had in storage, but it was no use. Her condition worsened" Her face went grim. She wanted to stop there, but felt like she had to continue. "Someone said that there's a particular flower whose ovules could be the cure for my daughter" "Unfortunately, the plant that produces those ovules is very dangerous" "I know it's too much to ask. But could you take one of those ovules" 'This doesn't look promising at all'. His expression, however, changed, as the NPC continued her dialogue with him. "I don't have anything to give you back...except for this...". The woman looked over a shelf, and put down a wooden case. She pulled out a sword from it."This sword belonged to my family for many years...but I'll be willingly give this to you, as a thanks for your help..." Kazeyuki carefully analyzed the sword. It looked like Miki's. But probably it was made of a better material than the default weapon given at the start of the game. A notification popped up in front of him. The quest was called <The Secret Medicine of the Forest>. The objective was to obtain 1 <Little Nepenthes's Ovule>. What Kazuyuki had to do was to accept the quest or not. Kazuyuki looked at the notification. Then he raised his head to see the woman. She was standing in silence, smiling at him. 'Those resources might come in handy, in order to survive...In the other hand, however, it might become a suicide quest, considering that we're going to have to fight...' His hand hovered over the notification, undecided whether to accept the quest or not. That decision was rather idiotic. However, it could make repercussions over the outcome. Refusing the mission would lower the chances of survivability. Accepting the mission could give a upper hand to him and Miki, but the percentage of success were rather low, if played on solo. Kazuyuki looked at the woman once more. Then he went back to the notification and made up his mind... Spoiler: Chapter 3:The Anneal Blade(part 2) Yuki sighed, as he pressed the button to accept the quest. 'Well...if I guess it's a risk worth to take if it means I can get gears for our survivability...'. Yuki stood up and walked out the house. The NPC followed him to the exit. As he turned to her, she made a small bow. "I can't thank you enough for the help you're giving to us. I'll pray for your success" Yuki made a small bow as well and left. As he walked far enough, Yuki let out a groan. He resumed his walking and went back to the inn. He took a seat and ordered a meal. The NPC innkeeper brought to the table a plate of what it looked like a steak and mashed potatoes, along with a glass of water. 'I'd like not to waste my Col on this minor things...unfortunately, my brain thinks anything else...'. He dug the spoon in the mashed potatoes and started eating bits of the food.'Well...at least, it's edible...The last thing I ate was some tasteless bread...' As he finished his mashed potatoes, he looked at the window beside him. The plaza where the inn was faced to was slowly getting filled with 4-8 players from the Town of Beginnings. Yuki knew that he could have just asked them to create a party in order to survive. But considering the immense psychological impact of Kayaba's speech, he knew that they would only care for themselves and/or their friend, just like he did for Miki. He went back to his plate and started cutting the steak into tiny bits. He took a bit one at a time and slowly chew it. Yuki checked his friend list on the menu and pressed on the option <Miki>. A dot appeared on a minimap beside the list, locating Miki in the inn. He turned at the stairs, to check if Miki would have come down to search him. Nothing. He went back to the bits of steak and calmly finished it. While he was taking sips of the water, he checked the map. The quest's location was somewhere on the northern side of Horunka. 'Inside the forest...this is going to be a pain...'. Yuki put a hand on the left cheek, while the other kept scrolling the menu. He pressed over the <Skill> option, showing up a list of the available skills.'This is more pain than the quest itself' Yuki dragged the list, checking each option on it. He spelled each word on the list each time he hovered his finger over them. 'Not this...not this...not this...'. Each time he repeated the same movement across the list, his patience decreased. As he scrolled the list for the sixteenth time, he nervously put his hands on his head and started messing around with his own hair. "Aaaah! Damn it!I can't think properly now!It's all because of that quest!". When he calmed down, he looked left and right, to see if someone saw his freakout."It's still the first floor...I should not react like that, or people follow the freakout...this game has lasted less than a day, and it already messed up with a few people's mind..." He went back to the skill list and checked it again. He put a filter on the menu and divided the skills into three main categories: Combat, Scout, Others. The Combat category was mostly focused on the weapons skills, with a few exception, like the Block skill. The Scout category was focused on the agility of the player, as well on the furtivity parts, such as the Hiding and Searching skills. The Others category gathered up any skill that wasn't related to the battlefield, or it was focused on the support. Yuki checked each category and looked at the skills in each category. 'I'll ignore the first one. I already took the <One-handed Sword> skill...Maybe I should pick the <Block> skill and buy myself a shield...but it's kind of a pain, to be honest...' 'For now, I'll ignore the last one. I don't think I'll ever need one of those, actually' 'That means I have one only list to check...' Yuki checked throughout the Scout list. After scrolling up and down a few times, he hovered his finger over the <Acrobatics> skill. After looking at it for a couple of minutes, he picked the skill. 'Somehow...I do feel like I'll need it...'. Yuki closed the menu and took the last sip from the glass. He looked up at the ceiling and sighed. "And I have solved a problem". He looked at the stairs once again. But he was sure that Miki wouldn't have come down in the meantime."Next one is to wake up my lazy sister..." He stood up and walked upstairs. He knocked at the door of his and Miki's room. As he heard no response, he grabbed the pommel and opened the door. Miki was still there, sleeping. Her whole body was wrapped in the soft sheets of the bed. Yuki sat next to her and started gently calling her. "Miki...". He leaned closer to her ear and whispered."Heyyyy, Mikiiii. Wake up..." Miki mumbled a couple of times. Then she slowly opened her eyes. "Stand up. We've got stuff to do" "What?". Miki stretched a couple of times. She gazed at her brother with sleepy eyes."*yawn*...What time is it...?" "It's already afternoon, sleepy head. Get ready now" "Come on...it's weekend. It's not like I'm late for school, or something like that...". As she said that line, she fully opened her eyes and checked her surroundings. A silence fell in the room. Neither Yuki or Miki spoke for at least two minutes or so. "Ah...it wasn't a dream, after all...". She looked at her brother. He wasn't making eye contact with her. He looked elsewhere a couple of times, and gazed at her from time to time."Yuki...I..." "Don't worry", he calmly replied."We're going to make it. That's because I accepted a quest" "Did you?". She went down from the bed and geared up. She went behind Yuki and followed him as he left the room. "The rent will last only for this week." Yuki said."After that, we're moving to the next city. You got it?" "Yes" "Feel free to grab something to eat, if you feel hungry. I'll wait for you at the plaza, next to the weapon shop". Miki nodded. Yuki let out a smile and went down the stairs. Then, he stopped midway."Miki...?" "Yeah?" "...Are you angry?Because I did accept that quest without warning you...?" "Kind of", she replied."After all, you went out without me..." "Well, I didn't want to wake you up, snow-white. You looked so happy to sleep that much" "Yeah. I guess you're right...". Miki went in front of Yuki. Then she turned at him."...Ok. I'll let it slide for now. But, next time, make sure to wake me up forcefully. Even if that means rolling me off the bed" "Don't exaggerate on that one, Miki". They both went down the stairs. As Miki went to take a seat, Yuki went directly to the plaza. The plaza wasn't very big. It was just a big area with an oak tree in the middle of it. The only two shops faced the plaza: the weapon shop and the tool shop. Yuki walked around the plaza for a couple of minutes. As he convinced himself that he was just messing around, he decided to head over to the weapon shop. He started a conversation with the dealer, and a trading menu popped out, showing the weapons and armors the NPC was selling. "Let's see". He checked the list and picked the <Leather Armor> As he stood up, Yuki felt like someone was watching him. As he turned his head to the right, he found another player in front of him, and it wasn't Miki. He was a male player, smaller than Yuki. Mid-short brown hair and narrow dark brown eyes looked at him from two meters away. "Sorry if I bother you, but...". The player made a small pause. Then he continued."Could you move a little bit? I'm quite interested in the dealer's items as well" Yuki was dumbfounded as the player leaned over to see the trading list of the weapon shop. As the player bought a <Leather Armor> and a shield, he left the area, without exchanging a couple of words with Yuki. Miki reached her brother and turned her head to the direction Yuki was watching, and her eyes landed on the player with the <Leather Armor> and "Who was he?", she asked."Do you know him?" "Not at all...By the way, you should buy something from there". He pointed the weapon shop with his thumb, then he gave little pats on his armor."To increase our chances of survival...sort of" "If you say so". Miki shrugged as she went to buy the <Leather Armor> as well."It kinda feels uncomfortable, though..." "Don't start complaining, Miki". He did a tired sigh as Miki started complaining about the armor."Look at the positive side about wearing that" "Which is?" "You don't have to worry about anyone groping you" Miki looked at her brother with disgusted eyes and promptly covered her chest with her hands. "Gross", she whispered."You're so gross, Yukito!" Yuki made a nervous laugh. Then his face went back to the neutral expression."By the way, there's one last thing you need to do" "What is it?", she said, while still keeping her chest covered and watching her brother with distrusted eyes. "The second skill to pick. Come on open your <Skill> menu". Miki did as she was said, and opened the <Skill> menu. "Ok. Done. Now what?". She scrolled the list, searching for a useful skill. "You said that there's plenty of skills in the game...but I guess we have to focus on combat-based skills, right?" "Not only that. I suggest you should rely on non-combat skills that can raise your percentage of survival. Sometimes, retreating is better than risking your own life" "Got it". Miki continued scrolling the list until she came over the <Acrobatics> skill."What about this?" "Let me see...". Yuki went by Miki and looked at her menu."The <Acrobatics> skill, eh? It's not a bad idea...but still..." "But still...?" Yuki put a hand on the chin and the other went on the elbow to hold the arm."It's a weird combination.<One-Handed Sword> and <Acrobatics>..." "What the hell are you thinking now?". Miki looked at her brother with bothered eyes. Then she looked back at the menu and picked the <Acrobatics> skill."Ok, done. What's next?" "Now...?". Yuki walked away from the weapon shop."We're going to the quest, obviously" The two walked to the north, heading to a path that led them to the forest. Yuki and Miki unsheathed their sword, as a pack of five wolves greeted them at the entrance of the forest. "Well...this was kind of predictable, to be honest" "Don't waste your time in talking, Yuki". Miki readied her sword skill. Her short sword glowed blue, and as she activated the skill, the sword made a horizontal strike, sending a couple of wolves back. The others roared at the siblings and charged them. Yuki activated a sword skill as well. This time, the sword glowed red He jumped and made a spin. The skill took the wolves that charged them. "Ok. Three down. Where are the other two?" "No idea. They ran away after the first strike" All of sudden, Yuki and Miki heard a couple of wolves whimpering. Then everything went silent. A player appeared from the direction where the two wolves. As he noticed the two siblings, he remained still. The three looked each other for a couple of minutes, then the player broke the silence. "What are you guys doing here?". His question was made with a stern voice, as he felt disturbed by the presence of Yuki and Miki. "I should say the same to you", Yuki replied to the player."I guess you're here for the same reason as ours..." "I guess so". The brown-haired player sheathed his sword. Miki and Yuki did it as well."Name's Coper" "Nice to meet you. I'm Yuki" he said. Then, he put a hand on Miki's head."And this beauty here is Miki" "Yuki, eh?", Coper pointed out the name, articulating each letter of the name."Were you part of the beta test?I do remember that name among the thousand names...Among the main players of the beta frontline..." "Why do you need to know?", Yuki nervously replied."What if I say 'yes'?" "I just wanted to know", Coper said. He twirled his sword a couple of times."After all, I was part of the thousand as well" "Were you?". Yuki scratched his head. Then he showed a more calm face."I guess I'll just say yes. I am Yuki from the beta test" Coper didn't reply. He just puffed and walked closer to the siblings."I guess I can say I'm for the same reason as yours...Want to join forces?" Miki looked at Coper with eyes full of suspicion. She dragged Yuki by the collar of his shirt away from Coper, and then she started talking to him in the ear. "Yuki, are you sure?" "Why not, Miki?". He turned a Coper and signaled him with the hand to say to wait for them. Coper nodded. Then Yuki went back to Miki."Listen, I know you don't trust people so easily, but we need to raise our chances of survival. If you want to, we can't stop cooperating with him once the quest is done" "Fine", Miki sighed. The two raised their heads. Then, Yuki turned at Coper and nodded at him. "It settled then. We're a party now", Coper said. They got closer and then headed to a direction in the forest. The trio walked in the forest for a couple of minutes, then they found themselves in a small clearing. "Must be the place", Coper said. He pointed in the direction of a group of unknown objects bunched up at the center."Those were the area the NPC talked about. But..." The trio stood there in silence, while some monsters stood up and started walking around the clearing. Some had some fruit on their head, others had bulbs. They didn't have any eyes. Instead, their huge face/body had a large mouth. "...we have to take care of those first...<Little Nepenthes>, uh?". Something came up in Yuki's mind. The mobs in that area looked familiar."Ah...I'm a fucking idiot..." "What?", Miki asked. She looked at her brother, who sighed and proceeded to put a hand on his face, as he self-pitied himself."Yuki, what is it?" "It's the quest. I remembered which one is it now...", he said, sighing once again. "Took you long enough, eh?", Coper said, showing up a little bit of self-satisfaction in his face."The <Secret Medicine of the Forest>. The quest to obtain a very useful weapon" "The <Anneal Blade>, yeah". Yuki raised his head and turned his head to the monsters in the clearing. He pointed one with a fruit on his head."Don't attack those. They will alert the other monsters" Coper and Yuki drew their weapons and headed towards the Little Nepenthes. Three turned as well and headed towards the two. Yuki held his sword backward. The blade glowed orange. Yuki leaped up and did a downward vertical slice, injuring the first one. Coper, instead, held his sword with both of his hands. The short sword glowed bright red. He spun and sliced the second monster horizontally. He noticed that Miki was behind them. "Did you hold our princess behind, or she didn't want to fight?" he sternly replied. "She's not helpful at all" As it was a response to the insinuation, Miki sprinted in front of them. She put her sword beside her hips, activating a sword skill and eliminating the third monster with a thrust of her sword. "You could have done it earlier." Coper said. Miki didn't reply to him. Instead, she turned around and looked at him with bothered eyes. "What a gloomy sight" Yuki pointed out. He snapped his fingers to grab their attentions. Then he pointed to another group of Little Nepenthes that was getting closer. "Get ready. Here comes another wave. Watch out for the ones with a fruit on their head!" The trio continued fighting for hours. They panted as they managed to defeat the last wave. "We already fought for ten hours, but still there are no drops" Coper angrily stamped his foot."This quest is a total scam! Damn you, Kayaba!" "Or maybe the drop is very rare. We just need to continue fighting" Yuki pointed out. "Here it comes another wave!" Another group of Little Nepenthes spawned. However, among those mobs, one, in particular, was different from the others: instead of a bulb or a fruit, this one held a blooming flower on his head. Miki noticed it and pointed at it with the tip of the blade. "Yuki, Coper. Look over there" she said. The two turned and their eyes brightened as they saw the Little Nepenthes with the flower. "That's the one!" Coper said. He readied his sword and went towards the group of mobs. Yuki and Miki went behind him. While Coper took care of the one with the flower, Miki and Yuki attacked the ones on the side of the group. Yuki put his sword on his back and activated a sword skill. The skill made him sprint over one monster, slicing it in the process. The Little Nepenthes twirled a little bit. Then it fell to the ground and disappeared. Miki did the same thing. She put herself on a stance that fencing practicers would call "Fool's guard". Then she pointed her sword towards the center of the body/head of the monster, activating her sword skill. Once again, she put her sword beside her hips. This time, however, she put a hand on the blade. The sword glowed bright purple and Miki killed the monster in a second, as she put away her hand and thrust the blade to the enemy. Coper was still fighting with a couple of Little Nepenthes. One of them was the one holding the flower. "Coper, hold on!" Yuki stretched his hand to try to drag Coper away, as he didn't notice that one of the two monsters was going to crush him. Miki noticed the danger and went in front of Coper. She activated another sword skill. The blade did a vertical slice, taking out the last bit of health that the monster had. The Little Nepenthes disappeared in million shards. Miki fell on her knees, as the sword skill gave her a motion delay. Yuki killed the last enemy near them and, as he noticed that the monsters stopped respawning, he headed over the two. A window popped out in front of Miki. Coper leaned towards to see what was the notification. As he read the message on it, he grabbed Miki by the collar of her shirt and tried to choke her. "Give it. Give that to me..." he said with a broken voice. "Give that damn item to me" "Coper, what are you doing?!" Yuki shouted as much as he can. "Leave her alone!" Coper dropped Miki on the ground. Then, he turned around and pointed Yuki with the blade. Yuki held his hands up as a sign of surrender. "Whoa! Hold on, Coper. Snap out" "Tell her to give me the quest item..." Coper's hands were trembling. He continued pointing the sword against Yuki. "Or I'll provoke the Little Nepenthis with the fruit" "Coper, don't...". Fear appeared in Yuki's eyes as Coper threatened them to provoke the monster with the fruit. "We both know what will happen if we attack those ones" "Well, then" Coper turned his sword against Miki. "Go to her and tell her to give me the item" Yuki walked past Coper, avoiding the blade of the sword. He sheathed his sword and went beside Miki. He grabbed her hand. However, instead of opening her menu, Yuki carried his sister on his back and used the <Sprint> skill. Yuki ran away from the clearing, leaving Coper behind, that started screaming in anger. Once the siblings went far enough from the clearing, Yuki put Miki down and started coughing. "I feel like I'm going to puke." he said. He then proceeded to leave Coper's party and create a new one for himself and Miki. "If you can move now, leave Coper's party. It's going to buy us time" Miki didn't do anything, besides shaking. Yuki went near her and tried to help her opening the menu. "Quick, we don't have much time left" "I...I can't" "Why not?" "His health...it's getting lower" Miki looked at her HUD, horrified, as Coper's health bar was slowly depleting in front of her eyes. She wanted to close her eyes, but they were stuck to that tiny health bar, which remained green at first. Then it went yellow. And then... "Miki, go back to the safe zone." Yuki said as he went back to the quest location. "If you encounter any enemy, do anything except fighting them. Head over to Horunka as fast as you can" "But..." "No 'but's, Miki. Do as I say" Yuki reactivated his <Sprint> skill, heading over to Coper's location. As he reached the area, a group of Little Nepenthes surrounded Coper, who was trembling. Yuki reached him, and activated a sword skill, creating a path for himself and Coper. As he killed one monster, Yuki grabbed Coper and activated the <Sprint> skill once again. The two escaped from the quest area and started panting as they felt like they were at safe distance. Coper was still holding his sword. Yuki kicked it away from them and instinctively pointed his against Coper. "Sorry. I'd like to higher my chances of survival from this talk, Coper" he said. The sword was fearlessly pointed at Coper as Yuki sat down and continued talking. "You've tried to kill us, after all...well...not really, you were going to let those monster do your dirty job..." "...So why did you come back to pick me?" Coper said while massaging his own shoulders. He looked at his sword for a second, then he looked back at Yuki. "You do know that my weapon will get back to me in a couple of minutes, right?" Yuki nodded. He stood up and opened the menu. "About why I came back to save you, I will only say that you should thank Miki for that" Yuki scrolled throughout the list and opened a trading option with Coper. He gave him a couple of healing potions. "If I didn't listen to her, I would have let you die back there..." Coper looked at his menu and set a fair amount of Col. "I need to get back to the quest area..." he said with a cracked voice. "I have to" Yuki held him by the shoulder. "Absolutely not." he said."Your health bar is in the red zone. For now, we retreat at Horunka" Coper reluctantly agreed. He grabbed his sword and sheathed it. He then went in front of Yuki. The two walked back at Horunka, where Miki was waiting for them at the main plaza. As she spotted them, she lightly waved at them. "Good. You listened to me" Yuki said, patting Miki's head."Now..." He turned at Coper, who looked on the ground, clenching and unclenching his fists. "Coper..." Yuki sighed and opened his menu."Let me give you something..." He looked over his inventory and, as he found the interesting item, he materialized it and threw it at Coper. "This...why?" Coper was dumbfounded, as he saw the item."After all that I have done to you...?" Yuki gave Miki the signal to leave. "I guess you were thinking to try to survive in this world" Yuki said, before leaving. "I guess giving you that is to help you out with that thought" The two left the plaza, leaving Coper in it. Miki decided it was the moment to leave Coper's party and join Yuki's. She opened her menu and proceeded to leave the party. She went over to her <Invitations> section and accepted Yuki's. They arrived at the house of the lady that gave them the quest. They looked each other a couple of times before opening the gate and knocking at the door. The door was instantly opened by the NPC who looked at them with relief. "You're back. Thank goodness you're in one piece.". She looked at Yuki first, then she noticed Miki. "Ah. Did you bring a friend?Please, come in" The two went inside the house. Miki looked wherever her eyes could. "So. How did it go?" Yuki shrugged. Then he turned to Miki, who took the pouch on her belt and she put it on the NPC's hands. The woman opened the pouch, and her eyes were wet with tears as she looked inside of it. "Oh. Thank goodness" she said while bringing the pouch with herself in the kitchen. "I'll be preparing the medicine and administer it to Agatha..." The NPC worked on the quest item for an hour or so. When she exited the kitchen, she rushed to her daughter's room, with her eyes full of hope. After a couple of minutes, the woman started crying tears of joy. The cry echoed through the corridors of the house. A whispering. And the NPC woman that sounded surprised. She went back to where the siblings were and made a sign to Miki to come over. "Could you come over here?Agatha would like to talk to you, dearie..." Miki hesitantly stood up. She looked at her brother, who nodded. He wanted her to go and give a look. She entered the room. A girl of her same age was sitting in the bed. Agatha was wearing a white dress. Her blue eyes gazed at Miki. "My mother told me you were the one that found the ingredients for my medicine" she said. She grabbed Miki's hands as she went closer and smiled at her. "I can't thank you enough. My life is in debt with you" That particular action touched Miki's heart. Tears streamed down her cheeks as watching Agatha reminded of herself. "Why are you crying?". The NPC girl took Miki's head and let her cry on her lap. She started caressing Miki's head, as Yuki ran in the room."There, there. It's going to be alright" After a while, Miki, Yuki and the NPC woman went back to the entrance. The woman held a box. As the two were approaching the door, the woman opened the box. Inside of it, there was a sword. It was a simple short sword. The crossguard was rather simple and quite short. The handle was covered in black leather. Near the sword, there was its sheath. "As I promised. Here's your reward". She handed both the sword and the sheath to Yuki. He looked at it with interest. "This weapon was my family's heirloom...but I think it will be useful in your hands, adventurers" Yuki sheathed the sword. A notification showed, saying that the ownership of the sword was given to him. "Good luck, adventurers. May the wind bring you to new paths. Travel safely" The two waved at the woman who waved back. The door closed, as they left the area. Yuki looked at his sister. Her eyes were still wet with tear. As Miki noticed her brother's gaze, she wiped the remaining tears in her eyes. "Miki, if you feel like you want to say something, say it" "It's nothing. Really" Yuki stopped. He grabbed Miki by the hand and stopped her. "Miki, I don't like when you lie" he said."Tell me" Miki tried to avoid eye contact with her brother, but she couldn't. She felt like that gaze wouldn't have ended unless she would have spilled everything. "I just...I miss the real world already" she said, with a cracked voice. Yuki sighed as he let go her hand. Miki started massaging her hand, and looked at the ground with a gloomy expression. "Me too...sort of" he said, holding his left arm with the hand. Miki looked at him, confused. "Sometimes I felt more alive in this world, rather in the real one..." Before Yuki could react, Miki looked at him with more confused eyes. She was probably thinking that he didn't want to leave that world. Yuki tried to say something, but he couldn't. All he could do was sighing all the time. "...But that doesn't mean I don't want to exit from this game" he concluded. He reached out his hand. "Fine, then. Let's make a promise: that we will always cover each other's backs. Do you accept?" Miki looked at her brother first, then she looked at her hand. She was reluctantly to reach out her hand to held his. But she gave up as he didn't give any sign of giving up. "Ok..." she said, with a feeble voice. The sun was setting down. It illuminated the two siblings as they sealed their promised by doing a pinky promise. "Good"Yuki said, while rubbing his hands. "Now, I want to get back to the inn. I'm starving, and I want more of that steak!" Miki smiled and followed him to the inn as another day in the death game has passed... Extra Episodes: Spoiler: Chapter 1.1:First Night <<November 6th 2022 23:30 I decided to start a journal, to keep up our progress throughout the entire game. Yuki didn't initially want me to buy this journal. But, in the end, he gave up and let me do it. I have to be honest...this is kind of weird. Despite the game represents this journal as a papery one, it needs to use a keyboard in order to write on it. Besides this curious trivia, we did manage the next town, Horunka. More of a small village, honestly. Our way to it was calm and dangerless.Well...except for a couple of wolves nearby the Town of Beginnings As we entered the village, we were sure we were in a safe zone, and we would not risk at all."For a while", Yuki said. He explained that the systems programs a scheduled raid of monsters each week. Unless the players team up in raid teams, it's almost impossible to be safe in a town for a long time... We entered the first inn we found, the one where I am right now. Luckily, it has a very cheap room renting. We decided to sleep in the same room for this night...and maybe it will be the same for long... He went out three hours ago, and he still didn't come back. Whathever he's doing, he should better be back now... I guess I'll just go to the room and sleep...>> Miki sighed as she put her journal back in her inventory and walked up the stairs. She entered the room that they rented, and immediately went to lay on her bed. She put a hand on her head and vaguely looked at the ceiling. She remained like that for a couple of minutes, until the door opened, letting in a tired Kazuyuki. "You're late" "Sorry. I scouted the entire village". Kazuyuki went straight ahead to the bed without thinking twice, sinking his head on the pillow."I can't feel my legs..." "Well. Next time think twice before doing a scouting". Miki stood up and sat on her bed, looking at Kazuyuki who looked to the opposite direction. "Hey!Look at me at least!" But she didn't receive any response. She went past Kazuyuki's bed, only to see him sleeping like a baby. "Jeez...". Miki went back to her bed and layed down as well. She reached over the lamp that was illuminating the room, and pushed the button floating near it, turning it off. "Good night, brother" She went under the blankets and slowly closed her eyes... After a couple of hours, Miki started moving on her bed, murmuring in her sleep. "Onii-chan...Don't cry..." "Please...don't cry" Tears coursed down her cheeks and disappeared in tiny pixels. Kazuyuki turned around, and opened his eyes. His dark brown eyes looked at Miki. He stood up and went near her. He could hear her sobbing in her sleep. He was at the point of wiping her tear off her eyes, when he suddently heard another phrase. "Onii-chan...don't leave me alone..." That phrase reminded Kazuyuki of when they slept together back when they were kids. Miki used to cry whenever she would hear a noise. She wasn't used to the new family and the new house, so she would get scared by anything. When that happened, Kazuyuki would normally get in her bed and hug her, while singing a little lullaby that their adoptive mother taught him. Kazuyuki raised the blankets high enough to get in the bed. He put an arm over Miki's shoulders, while with the other he held his head. He gently patted her back and started humming a melody at first. Then he started singing with the best intonation he could reach. At the end of the lullaby, Miki's voice calm. Kazuyuki looked at her, while a smile appeared on her face. He stared at his sister for a while, and then slept alongside her.