Sword Art Online 1: Aincrad | Chapter 19 of 57 - Part: 1 of 2

Author: Reki Kawahara | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 7729 Views | Add a Review

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4

Two thousand players were dead within a month.

In that time, we never received a single message from outside, much less any kind of resolution to our crisis.

I didn’t stick around to see it for myself, but tales of the panic that erupted when it finally sank in that there was no escape told of sheer madness and chaos. The crowd wailed, cried, and raged. Some even claimed they would destroy the game world, making futile attempts to dig up the cobblestones of the city square. Needless to say, the structures were permanent, immovable pieces of the game environment, and the demolition didn’t last long. It took several days for full acceptance of the status quo to sink in and new plans to emerge.

The players split up into four rough categories.

First and largest of those groups, at nearly half the game’s population, were those who chose not to believe Akihiko Kayaba’s conditions for release and simply waited for help. Their reasons were painfully understandable. Our bodies were sitting on chairs or beds in real life, living and breathing. Those were our real selves, and what happened here was just temporary. One simple little change of circumstances and we could go back. Not through the log-out button in the menu, perhaps, but surely there was something if we just figured out what it was…

The other source of hope was that the game’s developer, Argus (to say nothing of the government itself), was most certainly making every effort possible to rescue us. If we were simply calm and patient, we would eventually wake up in our beds, surrounded by our loving families. We might even be temporary celebrities at school or work.

It was hard not to fall into this line of thinking. Part of me was hoping for the same thing. This group of players chose to “wait.” They stayed within the first city, using their initial allotment of money—measured in a currency known as col—bit by bit to buy food and cheap lodgings, grouping together in loose cliques.

Fortunately, the Town of Beginnings took up nearly a fifth of the first floor, as large as one of the smaller wards of Tokyo. This meant there was more than enough capacity for five thousand players to settle in without feeling cramped.

But as time dragged on, there was no sign of help. Every waking moment brought the same scenery outside the window: not a blue sky, but the gloomy cover of rock and metal looming overhead like a giant lid. Their initial allotment of money wouldn’t last forever, and the waiters would eventually have to do something.

The second group made up about 30 percent. These three thousand players decided that cooperation was the best chance of survival. The leader of the group was the manager of one of Japan’s biggest websites about online gaming.

Under his supervision, players were grouped together into smaller bands, sharing items and col, and trading information about the labyrinths that housed the staircases to the next floor. The leader’s group claimed Blackiron Palace, the castle that loomed over the central square of the Town of Beginnings, from which they sent instructions to smaller parties and accumulated supplies.

This massive gathering was without a proper title for some time, but once they all started wearing the same uniform, the “Army” label stopped being just a cute nickname.

The third category, of which there were about a thousand people, were the ones who wasted their col early, didn’t feel like braving the monsters in the wilderness, and began to get desperate.

Incidentally, even in the virtual world of SAO, there are inescapable natural urges—hunger and sleep. It made sense that you needed to sleep. Regardless of whether the stimuli received are real or virtual, the brain needs to turn off and recharge at some point. When players get tired, they find inns, rent rooms that suit their pocketbooks, and sink into their beds. With enough col, it’s possible to buy a residence in the town of your choice, but it’s a monumental task.

The hunger was more of a mystery. Though we don’t like to imagine it, presumably our real bodies are being kept alive through some means of force-feeding. Eating food in SAO doesn’t actually fill our bellies in real life. Yet stuffing virtual bread or meat into your face will get rid of the hunger and make you feel sated. You’ll have to ask a neurologist to explain how that works.

On the other hand, once you start feeling hungry, it’ll never go away until you eat. I don’t think fasting could actually end in starvation, but it’s still a natural urge that is incredibly hard to resist. So every day, players rush into pubs and restaurants run by NPCs, stuffing their bellies with food made of pure data. And that’s where the digestive process ends, by the way. No use dwelling on the less pleasant aspects.

But enough about that.

Most of the players who’d wasted their initial earnings and started going hungry wound up with no other choice but to join the Army. After all, orders were easy to follow if they were the only way you got fed at the end of the day.

But even in virtual worlds, there are those to whom cooperation is anathema. The ones who resisted joining any groups or got kicked out for causing trouble wound up inhabiting the slums of the Town of Beginnings, living a life of crime.

Town interiors were a protected zone where the system prevented players from harming each other, but there were no rules outside of town. Vagabonds teamed up with their own kind, avoiding monsters for the easier and more rewarding prey of unsuspecting adventurers.

At least they didn’t stoop to killing—for the first year. This group of players grew over time until it reached my estimated count of around a thousand.

The fourth and final category might as well be titled “miscellaneous.”

Around five hundred players who wanted to help conquer the game but didn’t want to join the Army formed roughly fifty smaller groups known as guilds. They were a positive force in our advancement through the game, using their limited resources more nimbly than the Army’s massive bureaucracy could manage.

There was also the extreme minority of crafters and traders. These two to three hundred players formed guilds of their own, focusing on the skills that would enable them to raise col and make a living without fighting.

The remaining several dozen adventurers, myself included, were the solo players. We were the individualists who chose to act alone rather than join any group, either out of self-interest or because we felt it was the most effective means of survival. Most of the solos were former beta testers. We’d called upon our prior experiences to fly out of the gate at the game’s start, but once we were powerful enough to handle monsters and robbers on our own, we found little reason to work with others.

On top of that, SAO was a game without magic (i.e., easy long-range attacks), which meant that enemies were fairly easy to manage single-handedly, even when they came in groups. With proper skill, a good solo player could earn experience much faster than he could with a group.

Not that this was without risks. For example, contracting paralysis while in a party just meant that someone else had to heal you. On your own, it could be a death sentence. The fatality rate among solo players was easily the highest of any category.

Comments

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SubToMRBEAST
I love anime and it’s for free
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Kirito
This is the best book Sword Art Online is the most anime watch
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Marchessa
Perfect! I love sword art online
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dolphin
i mean, sword art online is already a masterpiece, i just want to see the other canon
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Best book
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