— 2 —
I opened my eyes to the wind brushing my cheeks.
While feeling something slightly off about that fact, I glanced at my surroundings.
I was standing on a wide road. On the left was a forest, and on the right was a grassy plain. The scenery was vaguely familiar. At the very least, I clearly remembered the signpost visible nearby, as well as the vegetation in the forest.
I was most likely near the low level area called The Forest of Beginnings on the outskirts of the first town, Ramlich.
(I was in the middle of the capital just a moment ago though…)
What exactly happened during that instant? Even if this game “Nekomimineko” – “New Communication Online” – was called a department store of bugs, I have never heard of a bug that sent you randomly teleporting somewhere just by standing in town.
(Could it be an undiscovered bug?)
For a moment that was what I thought, but the irregularity wasn’t simply limited to a change in location.
I tried calling out, but there was no response. The call seemed to have been cut.
I faltered slightly, then decided to call Maki back for now.
“The menu won’t appear…?”
I realized that I could no longer use network based functionalities like calls or text. I couldn’t open the menu.
(Is this a bug? But it’s a little…)
It was weird that I couldn’t even use the phone. That wasn’t a feature provided by the game, but rather a common functionality supplied by the VR environment. It wasn’t something that a bug from a game could affect.
(Then, is it a problem with the VR machine itself…?)
Perplexed, I reflexively tried to open the game menu.
But, that was also met with no response.
“What’s going on?”
Inadvertently muttering to myself, I caught sight of a further abnormality.
Scanning over my own getup, what I was wearing was not the equipment that I had poured my heart and soul into collecting. I was wearing some flimsy leather armor and leather boots, and hanging from my waist was a worn leather scabbard that contained a sword as well as a small pouch.
There was no need to dig through my memories. No matter how you looked at it, these were the lowest rank equipment. Only the beginner’s equipment provided at the start of the game was this frail.
(Come to think about it, this place…)
I looked over the surrounding scenery once again. This really did look familiar. Of course! This was the starting location of Nekomimineko.
Though I couldn’t confirm my stats without opening the menu, I could tell that my body felt different from before. It was possible that I had been reverted back to level 1.
(My save file couldn’t have been wiped… Right?)
I immediately shook my head at my own question. It was true that it wouldn’t be strange even if such a bug would occur in Nekomimineko, and that would explain warping back to the start location with starting gear. But, in the end that still couldn’t explain why I couldn’t open the menu screen.
In addition, those weren’t the only anomalies.
I couldn’t quite explain it, but something felt off about the surrounding scenery. As if… As if everything I was seeing was subtly different from usual…
“!? Who’s there!?”
However, my thoughts were forcibly cut off. Further down the road, what sounded like someone yelling could be heard.
“Could it be…?”
Thinking for a moment, the memory immediately returned to me.
If this was right after the start of a new game, then that might be happening.
If that was the case, then I couldn’t just leave it alone. I dashed towards the direction of the voice.
My body was light. My virtual body in the game world could move much more nimbly compared to my body in real life. The difference could be felt even during the initial state at the beginning of the game.
Saying this, I “ordered” the skill name set in the system. My surroundings blurred, and an intense acceleration that couldn’t be experienced in reality assaulted me.
Floating for a few moments, I landed, and was faced with the after-cast stun – the short stun after a skill finished. After the after-cast stun ended, I started moving again.
It seems like I could use the Step skill. I was wondering what I would do if, like with the menu screens, I couldn’t use skills either, but looks like that worry was unwarranted.
Step is one of the basic skills that everyone was able to use from the very start, but its great utility means it’s not just a basic skill that can be easily replaced. Though my inexplicable unease did not decrease but increased instead, knowing that I was able to use this skill offered me relief that could not be understated.
In that case, the next thing to test would be…
I tried to use the advanced movement skill that could be learned after mastering Step, but…
The test was a failure. At least, it seemed like all of my character data had been reset to its initial values.
Actually, rather than the data being reset, it might simply be the start of a new game from the very beginning.
“There it is!”
Moving onwards while confirming my body’s condition, before long, I was able to see the location of the battle. The first thing I saw was a large wagon. An old-fashioned horse-drawn wagon that you would be hard-pressed to find in the real world was parked in the middle of the road.
The wagon was surrounded by people fighting.
There were five of them. The first to catch my eye was a female wielding a sword, her back facing me.
Following that, the outlines of four lizardmen wielding weapons came into view, their backs facing the wagon, positioned as if trying to surround the female.
Seeing this, I was convinced.
This was, without a doubt, the first event of the game.
The unreasonable starting event that was said to be the cause of over 90 percent of first time player deaths, the infamous “Lizardmen’s Trap” awaits!