Chapter 4: A Fortunate Encounter

Guy rapidly tapped on the ‘Log Off’ button. Annoyed, he shouted, “Gah! I still can’t log off! And where the hell is this so-called ‘Brown Forest’? All I see is the forest!” He turned his head, seeing trees and shrubs all around.

The two players had already been walking on Durn’s western road for three hours. Before leaving Durn, they had each bought themselves a small flask of water and some slices of white bread, which were wrapped in a green leaf. And now, they were on the last of their provisions.

“How long have we even been walking?” said a fatigued Guy. Out of breath, he stopped and dropped his equipment down. He collapsed under the shade of a tree.

Ryu sat down, too, placing his sword down on the ground.

Guy brought out the round canteen from his satchel and dumped the last of his water over his head. Breathing heavily, he said, “I didn’t think a VR would be so damn hard to play! These things weigh a ton.”

Ryu looked at all the equipment Guy bought: a sword and shield; a dagger; another dagger; a leather satchel—much larger than his own—and many more miscellaneous items. Then he looked down at his own equipment: his sword and a medium strapped pouch, which was just large enough to hold his canteen of water, some leaves of bread, and the items he had received from Roland and Mirvena.

He looked especially at his sword.

He’s right. The weight of an item is having an effect on our stamina.

In Dream World, an item’s weight, be it armor or weapon, would affect a character’s movement speed and attack speed. Therefore, the heavier and more items you had, the slower you would move and attack. However, this penalty only applied for equipped items. Items in your inventory did not affect your movement and attack speed since, of course, items were held in a virtual inventory.

Yet, it seemed that in this game, both “equipped” and “inventory” items did not simply affect movement speed, but stamina as well. And unlike the penalty in Dream World that had only a flat or constant effect on movement and attack speed, the effect in Second World felt multiplicative. It seemed to represent the real-life notion of ‘your body can only handle as much as it physically can.’ In this case, it seemed that players could only carry as much as they could as long as they had the physical strength and endurance to do so.

It was truly a shame—more of an inconvenience, really—that this new VR didn’t have a virtual inventory. Not that it mattered since there wasn’t an inventory window. At least, not to Ryu’s findings.

Ryu picked his sword up and unsheathed it, re-examining the weight of it in his hand.

I’m lucky I didn’t pick a heavier one. It’s pretty light.

He then looked at Guy.

It looks like he’ll have to leave some things behind.

Sweating, Guy took off his shirt, revealing a lean and athletic body. Seeing it, Ryu’s face flushed with a light pink.

“Hmm…weird,” said Guy, who was checking his abs and arm muscles. “My muscles seem a bit bigger than they were last night—no, this morning.” Guy swung his biceps around. “Mmhmm. They’re definitely bigger. Just a little bit. Weird.”

Guy saw that his black book had fallen out of his satchel, so he picked it up. While he did so, Ryu examined Guy’s body.

Strange… He does look a little more lean from this morning.

Ryu thought for a moment, trying to piece together all the information he had gathered so far.

Maybe, if I’m right—

“Look!” Guy said, holding his journal. “Something’s written on the first page!”

Curious, Ryu took out his own journal. He turned to the first page and saw that something had been written. 

Find Bors
You have been advised by Roland to travel to the Brown Forest to begin your training.

Find Bors in the Brown Forest.

Failure is not recommended.
Category: Training
Time Limit: None
Reward: Unknown

Ryu turned the page, to which he saw more writing: 

The Token’s Origin
Find out about the mysterious bronze bade and report back to Mirvena.
You will fail this quest if one of the following conditions are met:

The Token is lost, stolen, or destroyed.
Mirvena dies.
This is a Party Quest and must be turned in together with [Sexy Guy]. Failure of doing so will result in a lesser reward.
Category: Promise

Sub-category: Party Quest
Time Limit: None
Reward: Unknown

This book contains quests. No… It records them.

“Woah!” Guy said, clenching his fists in excitement. “This is sooo cool!”

Ryu could only smile the tiniest bit. However, deep down, he was most curious and excited. But being that he was still suspicious about this new VR, he held it in.

Suddenly, there was rustling in the shrubs.

“Guy!” Ryu quickly said.

Both of them grabbed their swords.

Then, two young women appeared, walking out of the shadow of the trees. They stood about 15 feet from the young men. One was caramel-skinned. She had dark wavy hair, shoulder length, and was equipped with owl round glasses. She wore an orange and black-sleeved t-shirt and khaki shorts, with a pair of laced sandals wrapping up her feet.

The other girl, several inches taller, approximately the same height has Ryu—just a few inches shorter than Guy—was also skinny like the first girl, but a bit more voluptuous. She had dirty blonde hair and wore a tight pink shirt that had a kitten logo and Japanese characters written on it. Her jeans were bleached and fashionably ripped. The only thing she was missing was her shoes.

Players?

Noticing this, Ryu lowered his sword and gestured to Guy to do the same.

“Hello,” Ryu said.

Hearing his words, the blonde stood with a blank face, almost dumbstruck.

Suddenly, she jumped up in excitement and relief. “Oh my god, Suki! They speak English! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! We’re saved!” She violently hugged Suki and scurried to Ryu and Guy.

“Hi! Nice ta meet ya! I’m Kawaii Kitten,” she said, smiling in a cutesy way.

Upon hearing her name, Guy looked at the girl, carefully scanning her outfit. Then he broke into a hysteric laughter. “HAHAHAHAHA!” he laughed, so hard that his stomach cramped. “It’s a weeb!”

The blonde stood with a blank face, blinking, and thought about what Guy had just said. Then her faced turned red. “WHAT? WHAT DID YOU SAY, YOU LITTLE SHIT?” she yelled.

Hearing her say this, Guy’s expression change, and he responded, “WHO’S THE LITTLE SHIT, YOU BITCH?”

The both of them continued bantering and bickering. Meanwhile, the other girl walked over, standing next to Ryu. Both of them sighed from the embarrassing sight before them.

“Suki, I presume?” asked Ryu.

“Yeap,” she said. “You?”

“Ryu.”

Ryu and Suki awkwardly stood and watched as the other two people in front of them were fighting. It was like watching two kids fight. Suki sighed and drew her attention to the blonde girl. “Kawaii. You can stop now.”

Ryu gestured to Guy to do the same.

“Hmmpf! Fine!” Kawaii Kitten said, looking away from Guy.

“Sorry for earlier,” Ryu said. “Please don’t mind what my friend said. He’s very blunt. I’m sure he didn’t mean to offend you.”

Kawaii Kitten shifted her eyes at Guy for just a moment and crossed her arms. “Whatever.”

“Anyways, I’m Ryu. And this is Guy,” he said, extending his hand towards Guy.

“May I ask: How long have you two been online?” asked Suki.

“We’ve been here since the server went live,” responded Ryu.

“So have we,” said Suki.

“Have you met any other players?” ask Ryu.

“Yes,” she said. “We actually came across two groups yesterday, but we couldn’t understand them. They spoke in a foreign language. The first group seemed to be speaking in French, and the other group was speaking in Chinese I think. We think the developer accidentally sent everyone to the global server, and that’s why we were confused.”

‘Global server’? Hmm…

Normally, for any global VRMMO, there were multiple servers set up, dividing the world into regions. The purpose of creating these regions was to establish a community of same-language speakers. For example, Dream World had a Chinese-specific server—the Chinese region—where the server was intended to be played by people who lived in the China region, or players who intended to speak Chinese in-game. This meant that the NPCs would speak in Chinese and the words and letters would also be all in Chinese.

However, Dream World also had a global server—the main and most populated server—in which there was no intended official language. Because there was no official language, the global server’s default language was English, since the United States was where Dream World was hosted.

Because of this, Suki surmised that everyone had been sent to the global server, seeing as how she encountered French players and Chinese players whom did not know English.

However, Ryu suspected otherwise.

If my hunch is right, this should be the only server. If that’s indeed the case, then it’ll be difficult to communicate with other players from here on out. Not to mention that there are probably other places in this world that speak different languages.

“I see,” said Ryu. “Anyways, how did you two manage to get here through the woods all by yourself? You didn’t encounter any monsters on the way?”

“Nope. It seems we were lucky, strange as it seems. I’m quite surprised myself.”

“That is indeed strange,” Ryu said, stroking his chin.

“Perhaps this isn’t a monster zone?” Suki said.

“Perhaps,” said Ryu. “Anyways, you two should head that way.” He pointed in the direction of Durn. “There’s a small town, so you can get supplies there. There’s a man named Roland. He’s the village elder. Tell him that we sent you.”

Suki looked in the direction of Durn for a moment, carefully thinking about her options. Then she looked back at the two men.

“Mmm, I think we’ll stay with you guys,” she finally said. “We don’t know if we’ll meet English speakers again.” She turned to Kawaii Kitten. “Kawaii, what do you think?”

Kawaii Kitten didn’t immediately respond, as she thought how annoying it would be to travel with the two men, especially Guy. But she ultimately sided with Suki. “Fine. But if this turd calls me a weeb one more time, I’m kicking his ass,” she said, nodding to Guy.

Guy’s face twitching, he said very quietly to himself in a devious manner, “Yeah right, bitch. Let’s see who kicks whose ass first.”

“Alright,” Ryu said. “Let’s get going then.”

The two men grabbed their items, and the new foursome continued westward.

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