• Announcements

    • Shark

      Donations and Recognition!   12/23/2016

      Hello everyone! We are becoming a huge community and that doesn't come cheap. All staff here are volunteers and do this because they love the site. Right now, everything is paid out of pocket, by Erroneous. We would love for you to donate in order to help out with the site costs (i.e. Forum License, Domain Name, Hosting) so that we can keep Security and Forum Software up to date and possibly add some new features. If you do decide to donate, we have some fun, snazzy gifts of appreciation for you ;) Please message me (Shark) so we can get you the gifts of appreciation! We thank you for your support! Please use this link for more info   _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ How To Donate Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the donate button.

      NOTABLE DONORS LIST Here is where we honor the donors who go above and beyond the call of Aincrad! Top Tier Donors! Row  Teayre Percival Nezumi Zandra Alice Arc Atzo Azrael Baldur Corvo Dominion Ignavus_veneficus Kaya Lee Mack Macradon Nocturn Piera Ruus Sarial Hawke Unyeilding To express our gratitude, here is a picture of the iconic duo for all you wonderful supporters!
    • Shark

      The SAO Staff Team!   02/22/2017

      Hello members of SAO-RPG!

      I'm sure most of you (if not some) have noticed or heard changes were made to the staff team. If you are applying to staff, you may have noticed that the application process has recently changed. This has all happened because of a reformation of the staff team and the way it operates. The staff now has separate teams for development. These teams are: Floor Creation Team [Floors, Quests/Events, Bosses], Systems & Clarifications Team, and Player Support Team.

      "Who is on these teams?" Well the answer to that lies below! Floor Team Systems & Clarifications Team Player Support Team * - Denotes Team Lead

      We also have a team to work on and develop the current systems but that team will search for its members and is not allowed to be applied to.

      Now you may be asking, "Shark, how does one apply to the Staff Team?" And I have but 1 simple answer!
      Go read this thread and it may answer all your questions!

      If you have any more questions, send me a PM and I will answer your questions about staff. (Only the format of teams and/or the application process)
    • Teion

      [Updated] Summer Events!   06/29/2017

        <<Summer Beach Party>>
          Location: Floor 16 - West of Oceanus
      Event Begins: July 1 | Event Ends: August 31
      Setting: Daytime (July 1 - July 31) | Sunset (August 1 - August 31)   A small guild calling themselves the Gladiolus Alliance have suddenly started putting up posters and making announcements about a beach party they are hosting on the sixteenth floor. Players may wear any equipment they like, but casual clothing and swimwear are highly encouraged. Weapons are prohibited from being equipped while in the vicinity. Food, drink, beach towels/umbrellas, and a volleyball court have all been provided and set-up by the guild for everyone's enjoyment.   Event Thread Rewards: Finished thread awards 1 SP per completed page. Participants receive 1 SP per (3) posts, up to the number of completed pages. Posts must meet the 150 minimum word count to be counted towards SP rewards.
          <<Mid-Summer Fireworks Festival>>
      Location: Floor 1 - Town of Beginnings
      Event Begins: July 12 | Event Ends: August 31
      Fireworks display begins August 12
      Orange players may safely enter the Town of Beginnings to participate in the event. A fireworks festival has appeared in the main plaza of the Town of Beginnings. The festivities run all night long with a variety of games, prizes, and food for players to enjoy. Halfway through the festival, when darkness has fallen over the city, a fireworks show will begin to light up the night sky. General Rules: Orange players are permitted to attend, and will not be attacked by guards if they enter the city for the event. Normal safe zone rules still apply. When spending col to participate in games, buy items, or enter the lottery, be sure to keep track of the col you have available. Final spending/winning totals will be posted by a staff member in the closing post of the event, which can be used to link to your Col logs. If a player had spent more col than they had available, prizes won as a result may be voided. Traditional festival attire (yukata) or casual clothing is encouraged, but not required. Event Thread Rewards: Finished thread awards 1 SP per completed page. Participants receive 1 SP per (3) posts, up to the number of completed pages. Posts must meet the 150 minimum word count to be counted towards SP rewards.
    • Cardinal

      July 2017 Patch Notes   07/08/2017

      <<July 2017 Patch Notes>>
      Profession Guide Updates: Blacksmith and Tailor guides have been rewritten. Blacksmiths and Tailors can no longer craft tools. The Merchant guide has been rewritten: Identifying now costs col, not materials. Shields can now be identified. Junk sale prices have been adjusted. Experience gain and number of identifications per day has been adjusted
      Loot Guide Update: The type of an unidentified item dropped by monsters and found in treasure chests are now declared by the looting player. Shields can now drop from monsters and be found in treasure chests.
      Sub-Dungeon Update: The Sub-Dungeon guide has been rewritten. Sub-Dungeon monster stats have been revamped. Sub-Dungeon rewards have been revamped and now scale with Floor Tier and Player Tier. Sub-Dungeon map rules have been added.
        Rebirth System Update: The Rebirth System has been rewritten. The 30-day restriction has been removed. Starting SP for Rebirth characters has been increased to 50%. New rules and procedures have been implemented for players creating a Rebirth character.

[SP-F1] The Dragon Killer <<DHA 1>>

21 posts in this topic


He materialized once more in the Town of Beginnings, surrounded by familiar sights and faces. The catcalls of local entrepreneurs, both player and non rose above the bustle of the market and vied for the attention of everyone at once. In half of the cases, they succeeded. Vanguard had not come to shop.

He rarely visited the first floor in recent times. Perhaps the last time he could recall was when he still spent time gathering materials and buying potions for the children at the church, fostering their Independence and ability to level up. He had not done that in nearly a year.

Instead of the warm, smiling face that this town remembered, he looked out at it through a dark simulacra, a view of the world distorted by his helmet. Vanguard strode slowly through the mass of people, all of them seemingly disinterested in his presence. It was nothing new, the sight of an armored player.

"There you are!" the information broker called out. "Tall, armor- jeez, fella, you weren't kidding when you said you'd be easy to pick out of a crowd."

The taller player stared down, his pointed gaze enough to send the intended message. Get to the point.

"R-right!" The broker stammered, scratching at his head. "So, thing is, the rumor mill is on fire with talk of dragons and such." Vanguard tilted his head. Had he come here on nothing but a baseless rumor? "But! Here's where it gets good, see," he leaned closer and dropped his voice to a hushed whisper.

"Someone got eyes on a hatchling here on the first floor," the man explained. "And I got map coordinated with your name on 'em, big guy. Provided you're interested. You're interested, right?"

Vanguard crossed his arms. "Where?"

"Not a big talker, huh?" The Broker shook his head. "Kids these days," he huffed. "They don't teach you guys how to talk to people in school anymore? Anyway," he threw up his hands defensively as the visor tilted downward. He could feel the heat of Vanguard's gaze. 

It could melt most men.

"Here you go, these are the coordinates," he started typing a message and showed the window to Vanguard. "Now, about that payment...?"

"When I confirm the kill," the player said. "And not before that. I don't appreciate paying for hearsay."

The broker gulped. Hard.

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The Emerald Hatchling.

An unassuming name for an audacious quest. Dragons in Aincrad were rare, powerful, and dangerous. It was not far from the truth to say that even a newly hatched beast could prove lethal to an unprepared adventurer, even at a moderately high level. Victory lies in preparation, Vanguard reminded himself. Potions might be in his best interests, though he would not expend the coin if he could manage without them.

"The sightings give it relatively low health," the Broker mentioned helpfully. The man was still visibly wounded by the accusation that his information was no more than a rumor. "That means you shouldn't have too much trouble cleaning up, provided your equipment is decent. You look like you're a decent level."

Vanguard grunted in response.

"It spawns in a general area," the man added. "So you might have to search for it."

"I'll deal," the armored man responded flatly. He waved the broker off.


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Vanguard walked along the path, past boar who seemed completely oblivious to his existence. After a certain level, the range at which a player attracted the aggression of lower level mobs became negligible. That meant he would only have to deal with enemies sent explicitly by the system to combat him- and those would number extremely few on floor one.

The alcove where he would purportedly find the Hatchling was tucked away in the plains, an area of the first floor largely unmolested by the weaker players. Since the inception of this quest, perhaps.

He watched the data stream and load as he approached, and once he got to his destination, he found an egg. A massive egg.


"It won't have gone far," he thought aloud. Search the immediate area. It will likely attempt to launch a surprise attack.

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Posted (edited)

His gaze swept across the area slowly, as Vanguard was careful not to miss even subtle details. A more advanced mob could utilize the terrain to launch a sneak attack, and that could prove fatal to even the most seasoned frontliners. Fortunately, while he could not see the diminutive dragon, he could certainly hear that it was nearby.

Which meant it was hiding, but it had no intention of making itself known. It was less a matter of "find it before it finds me" and more of a "I can't kill it until I see it" situation. In the immediate sense, the dragon was safe. 

He had his spear already in hand, ready to lash out at the beast the moment it reared its head. Vanguard heard something like a roar, but it was so small and fragile that it hardly seemed draconic in origin. This particular quest is considered safe for beginners, the broker had explained. But it's the start of a longer chain, from what we gather. You have to finish this one to take the next one, and they scale in difficulty as you go through them.

And so, the scene unfolding before him made a great deal more sense.

Failed to detect the hidden hatchling.

ID# 87754 Battle: 8 Craft: 6 Loot: 11 MOB: 7

Edited by Arc

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Posted (edited)

It appeared that the oversized reptile was destined to evade him, as he continued to the far side of the area and searched high and low. He was not heavily invested in search skills as some players were, and so a it would prove a more difficult task for him than a Scout archetype player. There were items that also improved those parameters, but likewise he spent no time delving into those, either.

For Vanguard, the old fashioned way was tried and true. When he found it, the encounter was unlikely to last long. If this quest is geared toward lower level players, then it should last no more than a round of combat. Two at most.

His claw-like metallic fingers etched a line in the dirt, testing the dampness and depth of the soil. If anything had come this way in several minutes, it was likely that the ground would still be warm, or that there would at least be impressions from footfalls. When he found nothing, the armored entity narrowed his search.

If not over here, then...

He rose slowly and turned to the southwest, where still more unturned stones waited for him to investigate. By the end, the warrior would have his dragonling.

And he would complete his quest to slay the beastie.

Failed to find the hidden hatchling.

ID# 87756 Battle: 3 Craft: 5 Loot: 8 MOB: 7

Edited by Arc

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Posted (edited)

Dragons were a marvel in any setting, and Aincrad offered no shortage of excitement where they were concerned. When Vanguard stumbled upon the beast at last, it gave a pitiful roar and turned on him. Jade flames roiled from its nostrils as it summoned the hellfire from within its gullet. Smoke twisted skyward, and the beast gave two great huffs.

The flames took shape, dancing embers that threatened to burn the player for daring to threaten their progenitor. Though it was unremarkable when compared to more legendary dragons, it had already prove to be a challenge in its own right.

Vanguard stepped forward, undaunted by the newfound Trinity of enemies. His inhuman gaze rounded from one mob to the next, considering. He pointed absently to the dragon first with his spear, then gestured with his free hand.

The universal sign, a finger drawn across the neck.

His challenge issued, the player held his weapon in both hands, haft parallel to the floor and over his head, tilted slightly diagonal so that the tip aligned with his target.

Let the games begin.

Emerald Hatchling found! It spawns two Emerald Embers to protect itself!

Vanguard: 495 HP // 48 Energy (+2 ACC/+1 EVA/13 MIT) 10 DMG 

Emerald Hatchling: 125/125 HP (DMG: 50 MIT: 25)

Emerald Ember

(1): 50/50 HP (25 DMG/ Burn 2 on 9-10)

(2): 50/50 HP (25 DMG/ Burn 2 on 9-10)

ID# 87757 Battle: 10 Craft: 4 Loot: 14 MOB: 4

Edited by Arc

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Posted (edited)

Three at once? That's a complex algorithm for the first floor, he mused, dimly aware that this quest might have been underrated in difficulty for someone less than half his level. Two adds made any encounter infinitely more difficult for someone at the recommended level, so this quest most likely led to something more than a little worthwhile.

It was probably a good thing it took so long for the brokers to find, because this particular chain might have sent several weaker players straight to hell. Fortunately for Vanguard, he had come a long way from "weak."

His spear glistened an eerie red color as he allowed the system to consume it with the intense power of a Sword Art. His body moved without his active control as the lengthy weapon glided through air and rent digital flesh in several vicious, sweeping strikes.

The flames shuddered beneath the weight of his thunderous blows, shivered, and exploded into fragments of data. Had they been allowed to last much longer, they would likely have proven a nuisance even for him. Got no time for that, he thought to himself.

Still, the dragonling appeared much less wounded by that attack than its minions. The beast must have had some sort of mitigation? He would investigate further with the next attack-

Provided it survived long enough to make it worth his while.

<<Trip Expand>> activated.

60 DMG. (10(6×1)) AoE

Emerald Hatchling: 125-(60-25=35)= 90/125 HP

Emerald Embers

(1): 50-60=0 DEAD

(2): 50-60=0 DEAD

Vanguard: 495/495 HP // 35/48 E (13 used)

Edited by Arc

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Posted (edited)

What came next startled Vanguard, though he was not moved to simply leave the creature be. The sound that rippled forth from its diminutive maw sounded less threatening than pitiful. Was the Cardinal System always so prone to emotional appeals?

In retrospect, it probably used them more than it did logic. The system was implemented to monitor brain waves and be aware at some level of the players' emotional state.  It probably even recognized Tobias as incredibly withdrawn and antisocial. The software used to have fail-safes that would eject at-risk players like that.

Of course that was overridden.

The Dragon reared back as he was inexplicably rooted in place by those thoughts, and it belched a spray of green fire that rippled across Vanguard's armor and tore into his health. Beneath the surging heat, the sound of its terror magnified and twisted into a sword easily misconstrued with hatred.

Vanguard knew better. Fear, hopelessness, and sorrow were no strangers to the ten thousand players trapped inside SAO. Some of them were just more aware of them than others.

Emerald Hatchling: 90/125 HP

Vanguard: 458/495 HP // 35/48 E (50-13=37 DMG taken)

<<Boss' "Cute Rawr?" Proc>>

ID# 87771 Battle: 7 Craft: 7 Loot: 19 MOB: 9

Edited by Arc

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Posted (edited)

The Dragon let out a less-than ferocious snarl as it finished burning the player, and Vanguard held up an arm to keep the warmth from his eyes. Aincrad had realism going for it, at the very least. He felt the flames lick at his armor and even threaten to burn the flesh beneath. While all of it was simple impulses sent across synapses in his comatose brain, everything seemed like he was experiencing it with his own eyes and hands.

He let the hand fall to his side and hang as he watched the creature throw a fit of rage, vomiting green flames and ichor. It almost begged to be put down.

Separated at birth from whatever mother birthed its egg, and within hours found before the might of a player intent on ending its life, the beast was almost vindicated in its indignation. Akihiko had a vicious sense of irony. He brought the spear up, gripped the haft in both hands, and slammed it forward toward his adversary.

It reeled from the first blow as Vanguard spun his weapon, ripped the blade free, and brought it back around once, twice, and a third time to rake the first wound open wide. Another thrust tore into the open wound and savaged the creature, and almost instantaneous thereafter, one last thrust gored into it for the last time.

The blade jutted out the other side of the creature just before he yanked it free. <<Vent Forth>> was currently his most damaging Sword Art, and his most brutal. He could see the hatchling shy away as its health meter fell drastically from green to red.

This fight is already over.

<<Vent Forth>> activated

100 DMG (10(5×2))

Emerald Hatchling: 90-(100-25=75) = 15/125 HP

Vanguard: 457/495 HP // 22/48 E (12 used)

ID# 87773 Battle: 7 Craft: 9 Loot: 9 MOB: 9

Edited by Arc

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Posted (edited)

The creature threw off the last attack with a defiant howl, and Vanguard fell backward to ensure it would not thrash into him and win an easy hit. With lance held tightly between himself and the beast, he had a fairly decent defense mounted.

It paid off. 

The dragon threw its small body toward him in a reckless tackle, which he callously threw off with a violent swing of his arm. It careened off the haft of his spear and sprawled out across the dirt gracelessly. As it picked itself up, Vanguard drew his weapon back and took a slight step back, lowering his body and drawing on his energy reserves.

The beast let out another angry noise, and Vanguard's armor clattered as his muscles contracted, his eyes narrowed, and he focused on his target. As much as the system aided his movements, the armored player had become familiar with his weapon and how to employ it in combat. He preferred to utilize his own muscle memory as much as possible.

The Repeat Offender glowed a virulent red color as he charged a Sword Art...

Emerald Hatchling: 15/125 HP

Vanguard: 457/495 HP // 22/48 E

<<Boss "Cute Roar?" Proc>>

Boss misses!

ID# 87779 Battle: 5 Craft: 6 Loot: 17 MOB: 1

Edited by Arc

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Posted (edited)

Combat had become his primary nature. The world slowed as the Dragon raged, spewing its flaming breath and thrashing wildly in an attempt to survive. The struggle drove them to each other's throats, and more times than either of them could count, a player or an NPC ended up dead. It was an endless spiral, a dance of death that had become their only reality.

Only for Vanguard, it was his purpose.

Too many times, he had attempted to alleviate the pain that Aincrad created with kindness, in an attempt to make life liveable while they were still trapped inside. He had become just as much a victim as the others, playing into the sophistry, roped into the helpless belief that someday, it would end. Someday, the Frontliners would push through to the end, and they would all be free.

Someday could have been tomorrow, or in twenty years, but someday had yet to come.

Vanguard was sick of "someday."

His best friend was dead. That was the Crux of it all. He believed another lie, a careless whisper turned vile that gave him more hope that this world was anything but what it was. Aincrad allowed him to believe his friend could return. The reality stung, but the real pain came from knowing he had done nothing, and could do nothing.

There would be more pain, more heartbreak, and more struggle before Aincrad came to its end, but the end would come.

He would stand at the vanguard, and his lance would be the blade that struck the heart.

The beast swung seemingly in slow motion, but the reality was that Vanguard was much faster. His spear raced forward and the impact forced the hatchling to lurch. It let out a startled cry as it was lifted airborne by the sheer power behind the blow, and its death rattle chilled the world around it as Vanguard drove its carcass into the grass of the first floor.

It dissipated almost instantly into a stream of data, and in his open hand, a green gem materialized.

<<Mighty Charge>> activated

40 DMG

Emerald Hatchling: 15-(40-25=15)= 0 DEAD

Vanguard: 457/495 HP // 18/48 E (5 used)

ID# 87787 Battle: 7 Craft: 2 Loot: 1 MOB: 9

<<Vanguard receives "Rhaegal's Emerald"!>>

Edited by Arc

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"It's supposed to be the starting quest for a chain," the broker reiterated when Vanguard returned to town, gem in hand. "I've got a lead on the next quest, but I'll have to send you the info once I've got it buckled down for sure. You know. Not rumors."

The man was still obviously hurt by the accusation, and as the armored player tucked away his spoils, the broker crossed his arms. "So, about that payment," the other man quirked an eyebrow and gave the faceless man an expectant stare.

Vanguard reached up, opened the inventory window on his HUD, and summoned a sizable amount of gold to his hand. He passed it to the broker without hesitation. "Hey, woah, this is more than we agreed," the weaker player felt a bead of sweat trickle down his neck.

"Your information was good," Vanguard replied. "Make sure to continue that trend in the future, and it will be worth your while."

"Y-you sure?" the broker asked uncertainly. "This is more than I've held at a time since I got to Aincrad," the man took the money in hand and blinked. "And definitely outside a trade window. You must not be worried about thieves."

"It's just col," Vanguard replied flatly. "Quests yield col, and slaying monsters. It's much easier to come by than real money."

"I... suppose that's true..."

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He left the broker with more questions than answers, but Vanguard only needed his services. They weren't friends. At best, the man would eat for several days and have a place to sleep, and that was the pragmatic outlook. He didn't care what the broker actually spent the excess on.

What occurred to Vanguard was the possibility that quests of higher difficulty were starting to appear across previously cleared floors. That meant the game was accelerating its difficulty all around, and it meant that weaker players would start to stumble across obstacles that might take their lives completely by accident.

He clenched his fist tightly. Well played, you damned game.

If that was the case, he needed to investigate further into just what kind of changes were occurring, and he needed to find in depth information about the kinds of mobs, bosses, and challenges that were being generated. The brokers were an excellent place to start, but before that, he needed a plan. 

The boards posted by the teleportation plaza often held their fair share of useful tidbits. Perhaps that was where he needed to go, first.

Vanguard struck off in that direction.

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Postings for field bosses that respawns across the first ten floors caught his eye immediately. More than half of them were recent findings, and it seemed that players flocked to those as a source of experience. That would be useful knowledge for him, and yet, how many softer players had taken that information into account and gotten themselves killed?

These sorts of things should not have been made public. Not this soon. He took one particular poster in hand, ripping it from where it rested on the wall and glanced over it. At least this one seems familiar.

Of the names listed, Sand Shark on floor five was one he recognized. There was Avalanche on the fourth floor, which he soundly defeated once upon a time, and at least several others he could not recall immediately.

One by one, he resolved to wade through that mire of postings and discern the difficulty ratings attached to them. On top of that, it would give him a massive experience boost and propel him toward his ultimate goal.

The Front Lines.


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"Did you hear about that quest?" Vanguard overheard two young girls talking as he walked past, headed for a place where he could buy new items and equipment. "The one with the dragon?"

Judging by their equipment, he wagered they were level four or five. Not nearly high enough level to handle the danger he just faced. He turned toward them, and the other spoke up.

"Yeah, I heard. Apparently one or two other low level players undertook it recently and didn't make it out alive." Her expression looked a bit grim as she spoke. "I don't think we should touch that one."

"Yeah," the other girl shook her head vehemently, "me neither. That sounded dangerous to begin with, especially having to collect multiple items and fight lots of boss level monsters. Way too far over our heads."


Vanguard paused as the girls walked away, and he opened his menu. His gaze rested on the name of his newly acquired quest item, "Rhaegal's Emerald."

Purportedly, there were more just like it.

And the difficulty rating went up with each one collected.

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A message popped up in his HUD entitled "Second Chain Quest."

Vanguard paused and glanced at the sender, noting the name of the player and recalling the information broker from before. This isn't a system message, he noted. That broker must have an extremely high level search skill, if he knew my name.

It did not bother him. Brokers didn't care what your name was, as long as your money was good. This one in particular seemed partial to Vanguard, because he was extremely liberal with his funds. The money didn't matter to him anyway.

"Mister Armor Guy," it started. Adorable. "I found more information on the second part of the dragon egg quest, and I will be forwarding it to you as soon as I verify. Thank you for your business, and have a nice day."

Vanguard cleared out the window and let out a snort. How many nice days have you had in this world, I wonder, Information Broker?

He started toward the nearest tavern, where he would plot the next leg of his journey and sort through his skills and inventory. I should try one of those field bosses, he considered. Maybe that will give me the boost I need to get back in the mix.

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The bar was his first choice, once upon a time. He used to listen to stories of mob combat and laugh at the blunders of newer players, then offer advice on how to improve their skills and increase their chances of survival. Now, that crowd of players still laughed, only he was alone.

Sat at a lone table, he dismissed the barmaid with a wave of his hand as he stared intently at the long list of items he had accrued. With Col, he had sufficient funds to get stronger gear, and he desperately needed the upgrade. He was less than a level out from the second tier of weapons and armor, and he would soon need all the stat boosts that entailed.

"You don't look like someone who I've seen around here before," a masculine voice approached him, and Vanguard looked up. The player was gruff, gray haired, and bore several aesthetic scars. He appeared to be a curved sword user, but the armored man did not care. "What brings a high level player to the drudges of the first floor? Reminiscing?"

Vanguard ignored the man.

"Not much of a talker, huh?" he asked. "Well, I got a tip about a quest chain not so long ago, and the guy pointed you out as his most recent buyer. Said you had some luck with it. Would you be willing to take me out that way and give me a few pointers about the beastie?"

Finally, he had Vanguard's attention.

"I'll take you there," he said. "But I won't fight it for you. If you're not strong enough, you run."

"No promises about running," the man laughed heartily. "I've never been much good at giving up."

That makes one of us.

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"You wouldn't try to kill a lower level character trying to get ahead, right?" It was an odd question, and Vanguard half expected it to be leading. He sighed loudly, and shook his head. "It's been a weird trend lately, players no one expects use strange circumstances to lure victims out into the open and PK them. A lot of players on the first floor are really worried about it."

Now I understand. He approached me less out of a desire to do this quest, and more to see if I was one of these Player Killers. "You did your research to get close to me," Vanguard replied. "Are you sure that you're not one of those infamous Player Killers?"

The man grinned a bit. "If I was, I wouldn't waste my time on someone who could fight back."

"A trait all the cowards seem to share," Vanguard replied curtly. "And one I have no time for. The dragon spawns this way. Keep up, or don't, I'll not show you the way a second time."

"You're sure of yourself," the man commented.

Vanguard stopped and fixed a sightless gaze on his companion. He said nothing, but he studied the man's features from behind his visor. "This world has taken enough from me," he said finally. "It won't take any more. I won't let it."

I won't let you, either.


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This world was mad enough when people started dropping like flies.

Vanguard watched the man approach the dragon Hatchling warily, searching the same way he had and failing in several attempts to uncover its hiding spot. The idle chatter about player killing had passed, and the man seemed disinterested in further pursuit of the topic. Vanguard's chosen attire may have intimidated him into the belief that this man might be a player killer, but he had since learned better.

Even the low level players on the first floor are terrified of being killed by other players. It's turned from a high stakes game of Russian Roulette into a full on, morally black gang war. If these players are so concerned with taking the lives of their fellow survivors, then they will reap what they so when Aincrad ends.

Unlike other, more passionate players who took Player Killing as a serious offense and actively decided to punish or reform those who committed the atrocity, Vanguard took a hands off approach. Aincrad itself was the enemy. They died because of an inconsistency programmed into Sword Art Online, and the whole world was out to get them all from the start.

Players who took to blood sport, or who lost their sanity in the process of acclimating to this new, no rules society were victims in their own right. They may have been true bastards in the real world as well, but even that was not his concern.

He folded his arms as the hatchling rose from the grass and leapt at his low leveled tagalong. Vanguard watched the man's moves, and when his health began whittling away, he called out. "Don't be ashamed to run," he said. "Discretion is the better part of valor. Live to fight another day."

"I'm not done yet!" the man cried back, determined.


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Posted (edited)

He watched the two pixelated figures trade blows for nearly a half hour before the dragon finally succumbed. The other player looked worse for wear, however. "Whew," the older looking man let out a harsh breath. "That was not an easy fight."

Vanguard refrained from comment.

"This isn't something I feel like the others in my guild would be safe doing just now," he stated, "so I'll go ahead and let them know to get stronger before they try. Thanks for your help, mister armor guy."

Vanguard shrugged. "You did all the fighting. I just watched."

"Something like that." The player walked up and offered his hand. "I get the feeling not a lot of people show you sincere gratitude."

It's more like I'd rather not give them the chance.

Vanguard shook the offered hand firmly once, not wanting to be rude. "Can we be friends?" the other player asked. "You seem like someone who's dependable and good to be around."

Vanguard shook his head. "I don't do friends," he said flatly. "Sorry."

"Well, uh, at least let me thank you some other way," the man offered. "Do you want Col? Maybe drinks?" Everything he tried, the armored player responded in the negative.

"It's fine," Vanguard stated. "You don't have to owe me anything. It wasn't a long walk anyway." 

I need to get out of here. He's persistent.

Before he could continue his speech, Vanguard held up a hand. "Sorry, but I've got somewhere to be. I might see you again sometime."

"What should I call you?" the man laughed. "You didn't give your name."


With that, he turned and disappeared into the crowd of the Town of Beginnings.

Edited by Arc

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