Rather than the burst of blinding golden light he had been treated to several times at this point, Zack's vision faded to pitch-black darkness. His senses became mute, and it was as if he was experiencing sleep paralysis.
It was like this for a short time, before his senses returned.
He felt a hard surface against his back, and a rough texture all over him. He slowly opened his eyes, and saw wooden support beams holding up an aged wooden roof.
He could see that it was night time outside, and felt a bit of a chill. His health bar was at the side of his vision, and he could see that he had around two hundred health points to his name.
Getting up, he looked around the room. The bed he had just got off of was made out of the same wood as the rest of the one room house. It was small, but it had the essentials. A fireplace, a place to put his sword, a small chest for his clothes, and the aforementioned bed.
His back was sore, and his hair was flowing down messily, a few locks in his face. He shook his head to get the hair out of his face, and then stretched to ease the soreness he felt. Soon after that, he opened the small chest and found his clothes neatly folded within, along with a rope to tie his hair back.
He took the clothes out, and the sound of a gust of wind rang out in his mind, followed by a robotic voice.
"Much like other VR games, you can access your menu in two different ways. The first way to access your menu is by closing your eyes and thinking about the word menu. Secondly, you can manifest the menu in front of you, as a physically interactable user interface after toggling the 'physical' option in the settings."
Zack wasn't one to use the physical menu, as it felt slower than doing it within his mind. As such, he left it alone.
"Currently, you can only carry four large sized consumable items on your starter utility belt. Four large consumables takes up the same amount of space as eight medium consumables, or twelve small consumables. "
With a sigh, Zack instinctively equipped the clothes, having long since become second nature to him in other VR games. With a flash of white radiance, the folded clothes disappeared from his hands, leaving behind glimmering specks of white light.
As the specks fell, the clothes appeared on his person and got rid of the slight chill.
The V-neck wool shirt had strings to tighten or loosen it, and his pants were somewhat baggy, the ends tucked into his leather boots.
And just like the voice said, there were four large pouches for consumables on the belt on one side, and a place to hang his sword's scabbard on the other.
Deciding to manually equip his sword, Zack went and grabbed it off the wall, loosening the hook that the scabbard would go through and then tightening it when the scabbard was in a good position, not hitting the ground and not annoyingly hitting him in the ankle. He looked like a rookie adventurer, ready to explore new frontiers.
With a pleased grin from seeing what he looked like in third-person, he unsheathed the sword and took a close look at it. The blade was simple, a few scuff marks here and there, and the hilt's grip was wrapped in a decent leather, that seemed to be made for his grip specifically.
It had a nice weight to it, and upon taking a few practice swings, he couldn't help but chuckle. 'It may not be much, but for what it's worth, this will be the first weapon I use in this world.'
Sheathing it again, Zack walked out into the area that surrounded the house he had spawned in. It was a clearing, trees blocking some of the horizon, with a cliff overlooking the coast of that land. It seemed he'd spawned half way up a small mountain.
As he looked around, the robotic voice rang out in his mind again, saying "Tutorial Quest: The Basics. Accept?"
Before accepting though, he took in the view. From where he stood, he could see the moon reflecting off the ocean's surface, and the clouds passing by lazily. After having his fill on the scenery, he silently accepted the quest.
As such, the voice began speaking about the quest. "The objectives in no particular order are as follows: Develop your character, gather raw materials, hunt and forage for food, learn the basics of magic and employ that knowledge, and earn fifty copper. You must complete these objectives within an hour or you will face a penalty."
Closing his eyes, Zack checked the quest log and probed for more information about what developing his character entailed. He read the description and hummed in curiosity. There was a lot on his plate, and he wondered if an in-game hour was enough time.
Pushing the thought aside though, he ventured down the mountain path and scouted the area below. He could vaguely make out a bald spot in the forest, as well as a town further South. Deciding to go to the town, he began jogging down the mountain path into the forest below.
While jogging, he took a quick look at his friends list by closing one eye and saw Ivan and Nick on their alternate accounts still. They were both level seven, meaning they had to have been on for quite some time already. He quickly sent a text message.
[El Tres Amigos]
[I'm online, where are you bastards at?]
[Sent At 9:36 P.M.]
And as soon as it sent, he nearly tripped, having not paid close attention to the messy path.
After a few more minutes of jogging though, he ran into another player picking berries, a muscle-bound black man.
He had long braided hair and had a bow slung over his shoulder and a quiver at his back filled to the brim with arrows. His clothes were similar to Zack's, but they looked like they offered far better mobility.
"Yo! What are you up to Disappeared2.5?" Zack said, trying to get that guy's attention. The man turned from the bush he was crouched at and eyed Zack up and down.
"Not much, Valerio. I'm doing the Tutorial Quest because I joined a few minutes ago." He then turned back to the bush and plucked another round berry off the branch he was holding.
"Ah, what a coincidence, I actually just joined a few minutes ago myself. I started in a small run down cottage, what about you?"
Zack then crouched down, having asked his question, and picked six berries from a similar branch, much less skillfully than the other man, who seemed to pluck the berries off the bush with ease.
"I started in a tent nearby, and there was a pack of Viper Bears patrolling the area. They're no joke, I tell ya'. After failing to fight one I snuck away and ended up here on this dirt path."
Zack hummed curiously when he heard about the man's escapade. "So, did you manage to get his health down? I'd imagine we could take it on together if that were the case."
The man shook his head. "You kidding? We're both only level one, we haven't even unlocked the character sheet function, let alone the scan ability. I only managed to land a few hits from afar before the thing knocked down the tree I had perched on. I was lucky to get out of range otherwise you'd have found some free loot."
Zack shook his head, this guy wasn't much of a risk taker. "Come on, I'm pretty experienced with moving about in Virtual Reality, with some back up I'm sure it'd be easy. Like you said, we're level one, the penalty for dying is negligible."
"Yeah but I'm not one to die in excruciating pain, man. I mean sure, no pain no gain, but I'm better off just hunting some small game and calling it a day." Disappeared2.5 then got up and dusted his pants off, ready to search for the small game he'd just mentioned.
"Lame. . . How's this then, if we die I'll reimburse you by giving you my first fifty coppers. Deal?" Zack was confident he'd take the offer, in-game money could be changed to real bills after all, and fifty copper was worth a bill.
"My life for a single bill? You don't even have the money right now, and the only basis for your skill is what you've told me, not what you've shown me." He shook his head, starting to walk away.
"Add me as a friend and you'll be able to keep tabs on our deal, how's that? If I go back on my word you can run my reputation through the mud." The man turned around after hearing Zack's offer. His eyebrow was arched in a questioning matter.
With an exasperated sigh, Disappeared2.5 shook his head and opened his menu, sending a friend request. "Fine, if you're that adamant about it then I'll take you up on the offer." He then began leading the way while Zack quickly accepted the request through the menu.
As they walked, the two had been conversing about some of the ongoings in the forums, like how people were hunting for the field boss Ethan and Olivia had been slain by in order to steal their loot. Ethan and Olivia had been complaining about how people had been stalking them down.
While they could easily kill them, being level eight and nine respectively, they'd be hounded by town guards and would get more severe death penalties until the next in game day. They were basically trapped in the town they had spawned near.
The two had a good laugh at their expense, and when they got near Disappeared2.5's tent, Disappeared2.5 put his pointer finger up to his lips and made a "Shhh," noise.
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