Experiencing the World
□ Ray Starling
Royal Capital, Altea
Before the Southern Gates
“Damn, that freaked me out…”
After being suddenly dropped from the sky, I had been taking a breather here, trying to calm my racing heart down.
I could still feel and remember some of the sensations from that fall.
The clear, yet quick-changing scenery.
The whistling sounds as my own body cut through the air at high speeds, descending.
The coldness of the atmosphere touching my skin.
The scent of the wind, one completely new to me.
And then, after an unnatural and also uneventful landing… the taste of soil as I fell over due to all the confusion.
As for the pain, I didn’t feel any. Looked like it was something set to “OFF” in the default game settings. Even then, I could experience this entire world through all my five senses—everything seemed so real it didn’t feel any different from reality.
“But… this is the real deal.”
A real, Full Dive VRMMO.
I was experiencing it first-hand, the true realization of the game that everyone dreamed of.
Even though the initial rush of adrenaline faded, I could say I finally made the plunge into the world of ＜Infinite Dendrogram＞.
When I casually surveyed my surroundings, I noticed some enormous gates behind me. Connected to them were white walls so high you’d strain your neck while looking at their top. Additionally, a soldier working as the gatekeeper was there, his body clad in a western-looking armor.
I had already seen those gates from one of the sceneries displayed in Cheshire’s room so, apparently, this must’ve been Altea, the Royal Capital of the Alter Kingdom. The entranceway that lead to the city was already open, and since a while ago a number of carriages and people kept either moving inside, or going outside of the capital’s grounds.
It seemed like you could enter Altea just like that. But since this was my first time here, I timidly—or rather, suspiciously—passed through the gates. Thus, without any problems, I managed to enter the city.
Yep, apparently anyone could freely access and leave this area, the very capital of the Alter Kingdom. Since I’d already made it safely inside the town, I just needed to go and find my brother at the meeting place he had previously mentioned.
“If I’m not wrong, it was the Great Fountain in the main street of the Royal Capital, I guess? He told me I would arrive there after entering the city and walking straight ahead, but… hmm, just in case, should I check it out?”
I then chanted 『Main Menu』 within my mind.
As soon as I did it, just how it had been mentioned in the manual, a game window appeared before me. Divided into two sections, the right one displayed my simplified status, similar to what you would see in the party windows from RPGs; meanwhile, the left side displayed a series of menu entries such as 『Equipment』, 『Tools』, 『Detailed Status』 and so on.
Taking a glance at my own status, it indicated that I was level 0. Apparently, in this game each Job had its own level, so a person like me, who currently had no Job, was always stuck at that experience ranking.
“Map, Map… here it is.”
Searching through the menu items, I found the correct entry and launched it. Immediately, a new window popped up, displaying the map of the Royal Capital Altea.
Usually, it seemed that as long as you kept walking, this ingame Map would fill itself out with the locations you had visited; moreover, when buying a normal map from a vendor, all its information would get assimilated by your own Map.
The manual, however, indicated that there was an exception to that rule: a player’s capital city—their starting point—and its surroundings were already mapped for that user. Pretty convenient.
“Hm hm, I see.”
Altea was a town surrounded by circular walls. There were four gates connected to them, each one placed in a different cardinal direction: north, south, east and west. And extending towards the heart of the city, from every gate, was a large, straight pathway made of stone.
One would usually think that those four streets would, in the end, cut across each other, but that wasn’t really the case. From what I could see, the Noble’s District that existed there required a special license to enter. In addition, right in the middle of that district was the Royal Castle. Well, I didn’t think I had any need to go there for the time being.
Okay then, the main street my brother had talked about was probably this one, starting at the southern gates and going on until the Noble’s District. Incidentally, since those were the same gates I’d crossed a while ago, if I followed the path ahead I would eventually reach the fountain.
With such thoughts in my mind, I looked at the map while walking and…
…met eyes with an unknown woman, at an extremely close distance.
If I were to give a reason for such an accident, it would be the fact that she had suddenly broken into a run from the side lane. Since I’d been carefully staring at the map, I didn’t notice her until she’d gotten this close to me. As a result, I was too late to react and couldn’t avoid the woman, so we ended up crashing into each other.
The outcome of it was that I was flung more than fifteen meters away.
With alarming thoughts going on in my head, it felt like I had suffered some damage. Looking at the game screen that was still open, the simplified status indicated that my HP had decreased by 80%. Moreover, it appeared that I had some broken bones now, as the abnormal statuses 【Left arm Fracture】 and 【Right leg Fracture】 were also displayed.
Hey, my body, how could you be so amazingly frail that just by colliding with a woman you managed to receive a fatal wound…
“A-Are you okay!?”
She then rushed over to me, her face pale. Along with her fluffy hair, she was a woman of gentle facial features… which contrasted with the white and metallic, absurdly heavy-looking armor she was wearing. I wouldn’t even be surprised if it weighed around 100kg or so; in the past, I had once experienced dressing in armor, so I could say that plate mail was something incredibly heavy for its usual thickness.
“I’m fine, that was nothing,” was what I tried to say, but probably influenced by the massive damage it took, my entire body felt numb and my tongue couldn’t move well.
“Sorry! 《Force Heal》!”
For a moment, the woman’s hand glowed white, and from it appeared tiny particles of light that fell onto me. Immediately after, my HP recovered completely and the 【Fracture】statuses disappeared.
That was healing magic for you, I guess.
Being close to death and then getting a complete recovery. Seeing how the game world felt so real, I wondered if that experience was close to what you would have faced in reality. Hey, that was a bit scary.
“I’m truly sorry! I was running without properly paying attention to what was in front of me, and…”
“Ah, n-no, I wasn’t paying attention either… by the way, what about you? Are you alright?”
Well, considering that I had collided with enough force to receive a fatal wound, I wanted to see if she had been injured too. A meaningless thought, however, as she appeared to be completely unhurt.
…Ahh right, it was that situation.
Looks like this woman was a high level player equipped with very strong items. And then, I guess, with her being so high leveled, her statuses must have been pretty high too. So, when she crashed into someone like me, who’s level 0, it ended in a disastrous way for me.
“I’m okay. But you received such terrible injuries…”
“M-Miss, you have already kindly healed me, so I am fine, thank you.”
On top of naturally changing my tone to sound more polite, it wasn’t just my imagination that my voice faltered, I think; the damage done by the accident still frightened me.
“S-Speaking of which, you seemed to be in a great hurry. Did anything happen, miss?”
When I asked that, the woman made a gesture as if she had suddenly remembered something.
“Err, the truth is that my little sister ran out of our home, so I was looking for her.”
“Your little sister?”
“Yes, she’s the kid in this photo here. Did you happen to see her anywhere?”
She explained, producing from her breast pocket a photograph——hmm, this might look like a fantasy world, but photos are common here...
Except for her hair type, that was straight instead of wavy, the appearance of the cute girl in that photo was similar to a younger version of the woman in front of me.
A younger sister, huh. Then those sisters were just like me and my brother, playing the game together.
She wasn’t really at fault for trying a desperate measure such as relying on me—a complete newbie—but I’d never seen that girl before.
“Sorry, I’m merely a beginner here. I have just entered this city through the gates over there, so…”
“Oh, is that so… then she’s already inside there… still, this is my contact. If you ever happen to see my sister, please contact me! And again, I’m truly sorry for slamming into you.”
The woman then wrote something on a card and handed it over to me.
“It’s fine, you don’t have to apologize anymore. You can’t waste any more time while searching for your sister.”
“Thank you very much… see you then!”
Saying that, she darted away, leaving behind a note in my hands. What she had written there was…
『Member of the Alter Kingdom’s Imperial Knights – Vice-Captain Liliana Grandelier』
Those weird characters were translated into Japanese inside my head.
Nah, forget about it, there was something even more important there: the continuation of the note had…
【The Quest “Missing Person——Miliane Grandelier // Difficulty: Five” has been generated.】
【For the quest details, please check the Quest Screen.】
In other words, that woman, who seemed to be a genuine human, wasn’t a player…
“She was an NPC!?”
Once again, I was made to realise just how much the reality within ＜Infinite Dendrogram＞ was incomparable to other Full Dive VRMMOs.