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[PP-F1] On Picking Yourself Up, and Putting Your Enemy Down «The First Few Lessons»

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She stepped back onto the main street, holding the Leather Whip that she'd just bought in her hand. Not a bad find for the Town of Beginnings, she thought. The place was so big, there were bound to be some hidden gems among the various NPC shops, or so she'd speculated when—at last—she had picked herself up from her depression and decided to do something about it.

I'm way behind the front lines o' the clearin' effort now, though, Kyo thought, and winced at the notion of how much work she had to do to catch up. Still, the active clearing efforts had only reached, ah... what, floor twenty-eight or twenty-nine or thereabouts? There was plenty of time, then. Plenty of time. The only thing that really mattered was that she needed to be there when the clearing group finally faced down that bastard, because there was no doubt in Kyo's mind that Akihiko Kayaba would be waiting for them on Floor One-Hundred.

Attaching her whip to her belt (a process that, she was sure, would have been more complicated in the real world than it was in SAO), Kyo glanced around the street, biting her lip. Okay, she had her starting gear figured out... so where to begin? The sheer scale of just this one starting town was kind of mind-boggling. The total land-area of Floor One on its own was straight-up daunting, and there were a hundred of the flipping things. They got gradually smaller as one ascended the Steel Castle, of course, but it wouldn't be until the last quarter at least that floor-size became manageable. Kyo had seen the promotional images of Aincrad-from-the-outside...

"...Which is assumin' all the floors'll even be t' scale with that," she mumbled to herself. "It's not like we'd notice if the devs played fast and loose with temporal physics... or would that be quantum physics? ...Eh. Whatever..."

Well. No use dwelling on something so useless! Kyo suddenly recalled that, in their haste to get to their own little PvP tournament, she and the guys had blown right past a certain NPC who was clearly Tutorial Guy, back near the teleport plaza. MMORPGs usually did give players some useful rewards in their tutorial quests, for the purpose of getting them hooked. She might even be able to blitz the first few levels if she followed the tutorial, although... probably not, thinking about it. The devs of Sword Art Online seemed to be skewing things a bit old-school for this one, a design mentality she didn't exactly disagree with. Jumping into Full-Dive virtual reality just to spam the same skill-cooldown rotation over and over while dodging glowy area-of-effect warnings would've been like buying a PlayStation 5 to play mother-humpin' Pong.

Which way to the teleport plaza from here? She looked around, and realized that in her excitement she'd gone and lost her frickin' bearings. Well, of course. She might have spent all this time since Launch Day holed up here, but she hadn't exactly gone out to explore during that time. Mostly she'd just gone and... bought food from an NPC shop whenever she got hungry, and since there'd been one of those right next-door to the cheap inn she'd spent all her time in, she'd never had to go far. Finding that weapon shop today had been an interesting experience, but...

Welp. Nothing else for it, and sometimes the simple answer was always best. The green-haired girl cupped both hands to the sides of her mouth, drew in a great heaping pull of virtual air, and let out a yell:


It so happened (and Kyo would find the time to be embarrassed about this fact later, for sure) that the teleport plaza was not so far away at all. In point of fact, she was near the southern entrance, just a corner or two from finding the tutorial NPC on her own. Which also meant that her flippant call for aid could be heard by just about anyone who might be coming or going between floors at that moment...



Kyo | Level 1
HP: 20/20
EN: 20/20
DMG: 1
MIT: 0
EVA: 1
ACC: 0 [Keen]
LD: 0

Equipped Weapon:
Leather Whip | [Whip, Uncommon] [Keen I]

Equipped Armor:
Boarskin Jacket | [Cloth Armor, Uncommon] [Evasion I]

Battle-Ready Inventory:
Starter Healing Potion (x5) | [Heals 50 HP]

«Whip» Weapon Skill | Rank 1

Edited by Kyo
Changed from Open Party to Private Party. Players who asked to join on Discord may still do so.
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  • Kyo changed the title to [OP-F1] On Picking Yourself Up, and Putting Your Enemy Down <<The First Few Lessons>>

it would be easy to say that night was already on her way out of town, on another errand when she heard the call. but it was more likely that, in the midst of her morning routine, she'd heard a high-pitched shrill that had her fumble on her cooking.

"gah, shit!"

the sizzling oil but splashed out of the pan she had in her grasp, just in time for her double to look up. night shook off the mild pain, stepping back and allowing her duties to be relieved from home. it took no time for her homebody to double down on her leave, however, when she looked over her shoulder, knife placed down on the kitchen counter. "that was a player," was all night received as an explanation, "you might want to look into that."

"it's the first..." night murmured, voice trailing as she realised the futility in fighting back. leave it to her to know the absurdities of even the safest floor in the game. as the player shifted out the kitchen, her grumbles were in acknowledgement of the new quest. "alright; just eat without me. nyanko can have my bits."

at his mention, the tiny familiar kitten bounced down from his pedestal, bounding over to the new chef's feet, eager. night closed the door on them, staying only long enough to hear the retort to the feline, "i think you're more spoiled than me sometimes."

down the streets night went. having a home on the first often meant there was an unspoken duty to tend to the players in the town of beginnings to make sure things were okay. at least, that's what night believed, steadily contemplating the weight of this responsibility and what she lost because of it as she slid across the pavement, towards the road leading out towards the outskirts near the south. when she picked herself up, the player wasn't certain where to look for the mysterious yeller. unusually, the fields were empty, save for boars.

her head snapped to the closest player nearby, demeanour slightly on edge. "hey. did anything happen out there just now? you heard the scream too, didn't you...?"

R5tSbC7.png | NIGHT
 | Lv. 144 >> P. 112, Lv. 32
 | Status: //



NIGHT | HP: 1080/1080 | EN: 146/146 | DMG: 21 | ACC: 4 | EVA: 4 | MIT: 44 | LD: 9 | BH+HB: 108 | FLN/HLY: 16 | Stealth Rating: 6


  • oathkeeper.
  • regards.
  • signet.

battle-ready inventory

  • Teleport Crystal (3) | TELEPORT
  • imugi's inspiration. (5) | MASS HP RECOVERY



mod count: 5/7

    • focus, stamina, precision
    • shift: aoe
    • athletics, nimble
  • SEARCHING | RANK 3+1/5
    • emergency recovery
  • HOWL
    • focused howl


    • untraceable, vanish, surprise attack-t




  • MOTHRA | +1 EN Recovery
  • TANOS | +25 MIT
  • MORETSUNA | +50 HP
  • OROCHI | +1 LD


  1. - - -
  2. - - -


  • Lv. 5 | Gain additional col equivalent to 15% of EXP earned in that thread.
  • Lv. 10 | +1 LD to looting.

sword arts


en cost matches multiplier unless stated otherwise. shift underlined.

  • ST | x12 -> x15 | x20
  • AOE | x15 -> x18
  • TECH-A | x12 | STUN | 13EN
  • TECH-B | x12 | DELAY
  • TECH-D | x12 | SHATTER
  • TECH-F | x8 | AOE STUN 
  • TECH-G | x12 | BURN




  • Dimensional Backpack, Item Stash
    | +2 Battle-Ready Inventory Slots.
  • Well Rested
    | -1 EN for the first three expenditures of each combat. 
  • Relaxed
    | +(5 * Tier) HP per out-of-combat post. Full energy restoration occurs after two turns out of combat.
  • Squeaky Clean
    | -25% DoT damage taken from the first DoT applied to this player in a thread.
  • Skylight: Searching
    | +1 Expertise to declared utility skill. Cooldown of 30 days to reassign.
  • Multipurpose
    | +1 LD/Prosperity/Stealth/Detection to one post per thread. Can be applied after a roll.
  • Filling
    | +1 T1 slot to a food consumed by this player in a thread. Can exceed Cook enhancement caps.
  • Col Deposit
    | +5% col from loot-minimum mobs, +10% col from treasure chests.

foraging | r2 | xp: 69/150

  • Greenhouse
    | +2 G.EXP, +1 CD&LD to gathering attempts.
  • Familiar: Profession
    | +2 G.EXP
  • Demeter's Cornucopia
    | +1 CD to gathering attempts. 


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The first person to answer the call was, surprisingly, another woman. Kyo turned to look at her, blinking a bit owlishly at the question, Did anything happen out there just now? It took her a few moments of this blank staring for her brain to catch up and realize that her call for aid had been misheard as a distressed scream.

"Whaddaya mean, did anything...? Oh. Well. Shit," Kyo said with a tone-free flatness. "That was actually me, but I wasn't screamin', I was... well, I was just tryin' t' get someone's attention, is all."

Fidgeting uneasily with her Boarskin Jacket, Kyo grimaced for a beat and then seemed to force the expression away, pushing a smile into its place.

"I've, uh, I've been kinda hidin' away in the Town o' Beginnings since launch day, but I decided it's high time I go out and do somethin' with myself. I was thinkin' I'd do the tutorial quests for starters, since I kinda skipped 'em on day one, but... well. I never actually learned my way 'round this town, the whole time I've been here! ...Dumb, right?"

To say that SAO's emotional-expression system was doing Kyo no favors would have been an understatement. The longer she spoke, the redder her face became. But to her credit, she didn't let the embarrassment turn her into a gibbering mess or anything. In fact, she seemed to be looking over NIGHT with interest. Based on that gear... this was something of a more well-to-do player, looked like. Maybe even a fairly high-leveled one. Kyo hadn't had any notion that higher-level players might be sticking around the Town of Beginnings, even with it being a simple teleport away from any of the other floors' main towns.

I... really need to learn who the movers and shakers in the playerbase are... Kyo thought. As it was now, Kyo hadn't even tapped the local grapevine for such information. Her only friend over the past months had been a low-level tailor who'd just so happened to be living in the same inn as her... the maker of this jacket.

Kyo drew in a breath, closed her eyes, and said through her teeth: "...Sorry."

Golly gosh, but she was off to a wonderful start, wasn't she?

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"oh, that was..."

the calm and politeness set in before night could register its juxtaposition between her earlier anxiety. so the scream was... for nothing? at least, in terms of immediate danger. the player felt as though she should've been a little grateful, though part of her wrestled with the lack of a good meal and a calm morning. being on the first was starting to wear on her...

she tuned back into their conversation quickly. the new player had meant to work on tutorial quests -- the same deal most other starters did -- and night rustled the back of her hair quickly. it would be incredibly rude to reject them now, especially given how clear the streets were, she was practically the only one available... for the time being.

so night let out a short exhale, glancing over the equipment of the other, before looking towards the fields of beginnings. with what the newbie had, it wouldn't do well to be out with the boars alone. night repeated this in her head, if only to persuade herself from thinking ill of a stranger so soon.

the player took a step forward, extending a hand. "no worries," she lied. "what you did worked. better to be safe than sorry in the early levels. i'm night. it's nice to meet you."

she pointed her thumb over her shoulder once they'd exchanged pleasantries. "by the way, the quest starter was right over there... if you haven't picked it up, i mean. how much of town are you familiar with?"

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Kyo seemed to relax a little at NIGHT's reassurance that it had been no problem, but then she tensed up a little bit again, giving NIGHT a slightly squint-eyed look and half-opening her mouth as if to question the other player's answer.

But when NIGHT jabbed her thumb over her shoulder and said, by the way, the quest starter was right over there... Well. Any suspicion she had that NIGHT might have been lying flew from her mind in the face of that revelation.

"S-seriously?" Kyo blurted out, her eyes shooting wide.  "I didn't realize it was... I-I mean, I kinda got lost in the maze o' back-alleys over here on my way back from that weapon shop I found..."

Kyo looked down, patting the whip at her belt.

"...The Town o' Beginnings is bigger than any video-game town I've ever explored..." she said, pursing her lips. "This game has all the ambition of flippin' Daggerfall, with the tech to make it reality. It's pretty wild, now that I've taken time t' actually look. On launch day, me and the guys were... well, we had our own plans that day. I didn't have a chance t' explore until I really wasn't in the head-space for it."

Kyo coughed into her hand—the clothing that went with her "armor" had been specially selected to compliment the punkish look the Boarskin Jacket made for, so she was sporting fingerless black gloves. Then she looked up at NIGHT, smiling wanly.

"Are ya really offerin' t' help me just like that, though? I kinda figured a higher-level player like you seem t' be would have better things t' do with your time... being a big goddamn hero up on Floor Twenty-Whatsits, fightin' t' free us all from the death game, that sorta thing. Not that I'm sayin' no, mind, just... kinda wonderin' why you'd bother."

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  • Kyo changed the title to [PP-F1] On Picking Yourself Up, and Putting Your Enemy Down <<The First Few Lessons>>

                        It had been a bit since his ingredient quest turned escapade with his cousin, and Sorun had chosen to just take a rest for the day. After yesterday's events, he was gonna need some time, as he clearly needed some time to slowly readjust to his own cousin of all people. At first, being around Hana was being around someone who was both lucky and accident prone simultaneously and yet was somehow ignoring both due to personal reasons...and now? Now being around Hana was like becoming a damn moving target for anything that could aggro, every creature outside the safe zone had it out for her and anyone near her for some damn reason that Sorun had no way of figuring out. Yesterday was an absolute Roller coaster...first there were the boars, then there were the stray wolves, then there were those worms puppy-guarding the fruits...were there more? He was pretty sure there were more...

                      But when his nap was interrupted by a sudden call, he sleepily raised his hand as he attempted to wake up quickly. "Yo." He attempted to respond.
         Realizing he wasn't heard, he sighed, got up and stretched, then yawned, before looking around to try and figure out who made the sound and why. It came out louder than the usual noise for the Town of Beginnings, so it had to have been important enough to investigate. He looked around him, there didn't seem to be very much in terms of different, just the usual for a place like this...which meant that he'd need to try the next best thing...look for someone out of the ordinary.

        He ended up spotting a player that stood out in his mind, speaking with another player, who seemed to be wearing casual clothing. Well, maybe one of them knew something. First he'd approach the two. Once he got close enough to attempt joining the conversation, he'd need to get in somehow. "Excuse me, I don't suppose either of you heard someone call something out, did you? I'm wondering what's going on, and how I can help, if there's trouble." He said casually while scratching the back of his head, then tapping the axe at his waist at the end.

           Stellar introduction to the conversation, Sorun, just wonderful.

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  • Kyo changed the title to [PP-F1] On Picking Yourself Up, and Putting Your Enemy Down «The First Few Lessons»

It was the screaming that did it, really.

It had been quite some time since Oscar had graced the humble streets of the Town of Beginnings. It felt like an eternity, really. Since he'd gone to ground over that whole clusterfuck a while back, it simply hadn't been safe for him around all the newbies. But, things change. More specifically, his feelings on the matter. Far as he was concerned, let them come. They didn't want this smoke, even if they were sure they did.

But the screaming.

Oscar had scarcely taken a step off of the Teleport Platform when his ears were assaulted by the clarion call of a noob on the hunt. He turned quickly, emerald eyes hunting for the source of the sound. And there it was a green-haired woman accompanied by NIGHT of all people. Things had certainly become interesting. He'd not caught up with his old Guildmate in quite some time. He'd heard she'd become quite the fearsome Player since his days in The Tarot.

Shoving both hands into his pockets, he approached the pair. His coming was preceded by a fiery-haired individual. Oscar didn't know them and getting to know them wasn't really at the top of his to-do list. Standing on the fringes, Oscar cleared his throat.

"NIGHT. It's been a while. Been busy helping newbies?"


Level: 33
Paragon Level: 52
HP: 920/920
EN: 124/124

Damage: 24
Mitigation: 122
Evasion: 1
Accuracy: 2
Battle Healing: 50
Loot Dice: 5
REC: 4
V.O.: 151

Equipped Gear:
Weapon: <<Kyūketsuki>> T4 KATANA//ABS.ACC/PHASE/VAMP2

Custom Skill:

Katana R5
Battle Healing R5
Heavy Armor R5
Searching R5
Fighting Spirit

Active Mods:

Inactive Mods:

Iron Skin
Focused Howl

Active Extra Skills:
Restorative Strike
Forgotten King’s Authority

Inactive Extra Skills:

Battle Ready Inventory:

Housing Buffs:
Well Rested: -1 energy cost for the first three expenditures of each combat
Squeaky Clean: The first time you would suffer DoT damage in a thread, reduce damage taken from DoT each turn by 25% (rounded down)
Hard Working: +2 EXP per crafting attempt and +1 crafting attempt per day
Filling: Increase the effectiveness of a single food item consumed in a thread by +1 T1 slot.
Item Stash: +1 Battle Ready Inventory Slot
Delicious: Turn 3 identical food items (same quality, tier, & enhancements) into a Feast. A Feast contains 6 portions of the food items sacrificed.
Relaxed: Increases out of combat HP regen by (5 * Tier HP) and decreases full energy regen to 2 Out of Combat Posts.
Skylight (Searching): +1 Rank to the Searching skill.
Angler: +1 material gained when fishing
Advanced Training: +10% Exp to a thread. Limit one use per month [0/1]
Multipurpose: Gain +1 to LD, Stealth Rating, Stealth Detection, or Prosperity to one post in a thread. Can be applied after a roll
Decor []: This buff affects the player and their choice of up to two party members.

Guild Hall Buffs:

Scents of the Wild:
Kumatetsu Statue: +1 Base Damage for a thread

Wedding Ring:


Edited by Oscar
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a goddamn hero? night smoothed her hair over even more, releasing a breath she'd attempted to suppress, unsure of what to say. what would even be worth saving? "the upper floors are no different from the lower ones," she stated plainly, glancing over to the beginner's weapon of choice. a whip wasn't conventional, but neither was starting late and levelling as an adventurer. "besides… i'm off limits from the floor clearance thing at the moment."

(bistro's orders.)

she shifted her weight to the side, throwing her gaze towards the surroundings of town. "we'll take anyone who's willing to give it a shot." another lie – but they had plenty of time to figure out any underlying flaws later, if night was allowed to get a say on who lived and died. "besides, 'heroes' don't exactly appear out of thin air, now do they?"

night gave the other woman a glance, expression blank, as her attention jumped to an approaching redhead. the player raised a hand. "no trouble," was her reply. "we were just about to start the beginner's quest line." but she hadn't seen the man before her at all, even as a resident of town of beginnings. so she scanned him, lowering her hand. "have you done it before? it's been a while since i've done it, so you could help us out by jogging my memory."

not that she'd expected her offer to be taken seriously. but night regarded her audience with folded arms, after the irritating realization that, once again, she'd forgotten to introduce herself to the people she was talking to.

"ah, i don't mean to be rude… but the name's —"

"NIGHT. It's been a while. Been busy helping newbies?"

his voice was enough to make her jolt. it had been a while – long enough for her to have written him down as missing, like yukiro and the others – but his strength and standing meant she knew he could've handled his own. she wondered how he managed to get into one of her blind spots, and shifted herself a little to regard him.

"oscar." night nodded to him, trying to hide her surprise at his reappearance. she turned towards the others briefly. "it wasn't premeditated, if that's what you meant. care to join us? — or do you have a shop that needs tending to soon?"

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"Off-limits? ...Huh," Kyo thought, sounding nonplussed. Clearly this was another of the many, many things that she had missed while she had been trapped in her depression for the past while. She wondered what this woman had done to get the rest of the clearing group to force her onto the bench.

Ah, well. If it meant there was a high-level player who was perfectly free to help her get going, and who had just so happened to stumble across her path like this... well, that was a useful coinky-dink, wasn't it? Yeah. Useful. And quite the coinky-dink. Kyo's suspicion faded, but did not vanish completely.

Not that she had time to think about it for long. What had begun as a one-on-one conversation suddenly became a one-on-two conversation, and then a one-on-three, and Kyo gradually tensed up... then forced herself to calm down. Every time an unfamiliar player crossed her path she was reminded of her speculations about just where Kayaba might be hiding, and had to remind herself that the odds of her running into him on the first floor were less than zero. Besides, that was just one of several theories she'd formed about the man, and she had no reason to think that this one was more likely to be true than the others.

For all she knew the bastard might be living lavishly in the Ruby Palace instead, only sporadically checking up on the virtual-reality ant-farm below through a scrying mirror or something... checking up on the goings-on of his favorite players, spectating the boss fights... maybe with an alert set up in his admin hub for whenever players triggered certain quests or events that he was especially proud of...

Kyo shivered, and mentally drop-kicked her attention back to the moment.

"...Ah... that was me, I was jus' tryin' to get someone's attention for help on the tutorial quests..." Kyo said to Sorun, rubbing the back of her head. Her previous train of thought hadn't completely left her, though, and her voice quavered a bit with the discomfort of the images it had conjured. At that point she glanced at Oscar. "I was lost, see, so I had no idea the Teleport Plaza was so close. The town's big. But... NIGHT, was it? Goodta meetcha... anyway, she just told me."

Hitching a grin onto her face, Kyo hooked a thumb in the belt-clasp that held her whip in place and thrust her free thumb into her collarbone in confident introduction.

"I go by Kyo," she said. "I'm aimin' for the front lines. I just figure it's safer t' use the tutorial quests t' get past Level One, instead o' goin' off half-cocked without even a proper armor skill and gettin' mauled by a wolf or eaten by one o' those Nepenthes plant-monster things. I'm not really worried about fightin', but it's an RPG, yeah? Gotta play the numbers game."

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               The dark haired girl noted that there wasn't any trouble, but the two players were going to start the beginner questline. "I haven't really tried it yet, but I'm sure it'll be worth it, even if it's just some extra experience to level up a few times...I'm sure it'll go smoother than yesterday, anyway." He answered. It's not like there will be a bunch of crazier-than-usual monsters waiting to get aggro'd in a quest like that, unlike what Hana did the other day...
                       The green haired girl mentioned that she was the one who called out something loud, she was in need of help for the beginner quests. Sorun nodded his head. 
"Cool, well in that case, you don't mind if I join in, do you?" He responded.

                 Another player had recently joined the conversation, addressing the dark haired girl as Night, who in turn addressed the newcomer as Oscar. "You two know each other, then? Alright...by the way you speak and carry yourselves, are you high up on the level ladder? What would you be doing around here if you weren't carrying?" Sorun questioned, forgetting that some people preferred to have their shops in the first floor.

     The green haired girl introduced herself as Kyo, and explained her goals. "Front lines, eh? A risky but noble goal. For these low level areas, you usually just need some good equipment and you're good to go for a bit..." He remarked. He then glanced to the other two players for a short moment. "Though the presence of stronger players can also lure in stronger monsters, if I recall correctly." He added, remembering the time when that boar with the black cursor showed up and Yona handled it without a problem. He then looked back to Kyo. "Anyway, good to meet you, Kyo, I go by the username Sorun." He said in introduction, a pleasant half-smile on his face. He didn't know if the other two players were going to stick around, but if anything showed up, he could only hope that any tangles with something too strong could be avoided.

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“If it’s safety you’re looking for, avoid the Frontlines,” Oscar said. He didn’t mean to curtail Kyo’s enthusiasm. They needed more like her in their ranks. But to say something was safer implied than any activity beyond hunkering down in the city was safe. None of it was and the distinction was important. Crucial, even. To remain “safe” on the Frontlines required, at least for him, a fundamental shift in perspective. “People have died to the Tutorial, after all.”

None in recent memory that he could recall. But it needed to remain in the back of the mind that regardless of what you did outside the safety of a city, death was an ever-present risk. None of it was inherently safe and when you got extremely reductive with it, nothing was more or less safe than anything else at a certain point. But still, Oscar couldn’t find a fault in Kyo’s logic. It would be easier to fight through the tutorial instead of taking on a Field Boss, certainly. And, if he and NIGHT accompanied her on her task, the threat of death would be about as close to zero as feasible. Oscar didn’t have the measure of the fourth person in their little party, but he felt pretty confident that their presence would only have a positive effect on the overall goal. 

Oscar alone would be enough. Oscar and NIGHT would be overkill. Oscar, NIGHT, and rando? Good as done.

“But I can’t find any issue in your reasoning,” Oscar said. “Take it as a bit of wisdom. You’re putting your neck out no matter what you do out there.” The red-haired rando - who had since introduced himself as Sorun - echoed his sentiments quite well. Oscar could only nod in agreement as the man spoke. When a lull in the conversation finally presented itself, he elected to respond to Sorun’s questions.

“I’m high level, NIGHT’s higher. Technically we’re both Frontliners. She’s the badass and I lag out every fight,” Oscar said. “Although, I think it’s pretty badass that I can lag out with boss aggro and still be alive.”

Oscar very deliberately avoided the introductions. He'd helped lot of newbies and a good chunk of them had either disappeared or decided to return to hunkering in the city. At this point, the rule was make it past the Tutorial quests, and he might bother to remember your name.

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"a fourth is welcome," to sorun was all she was able to get out before the discussion somehow pivoted back to their levels. night was silent on the warning issued by oscar; it was appropriate and a given for anyone looking to venture out the city. it needed to be said from time to time, especially to starters. the flat of her index rubbed at her cheek, parallel to her jaw as he spoke. fidgeting. surely it would be safe with the two of them there, if oscar was interested in joining them on the quest.

“I’m high level, NIGHT’s higher. Technically we’re both Frontliners."

so there was the bullet she'd been expecting.

"don't put it like that," night meekly returned, hand lowering to her side. the introduction was missed, so she figured it fine to fill in the gap, jabbing a thumb towards oscar. "he's my senior. and i'm no badass. i just live here, and he just runs a hotdog stand. can we put it that way?" she turned her head towards oscar, as though it required his mutual agreement. whatever intent she had on following the comment through, though, she set aside, hands shoved into the pockets of her tracksuit. "well, we can ask questions all day. but let's save that for the expedition out if either of you are keen on getting the quest done."

the most obvious follow up would be to explore the reasoning behind aiming for the front lines, but those were usually personal, and night wasn't going to be burned again by asking keen of another on their first day out. quiet still, she turned and lead the party's way into the alchemist's shop. 

zackariah hadn't aged a day since she last saw him, but night felt her years in aincrad collapse back into her upon his sight. she'd never thought she could feel so old. his workshop had changed ever since the system update, moving bits and pieces of his setup all over the place, yet keeping the layout of his domain in tact. the vat that was usually on the counter was shifted towards the back, right next to the bookcases (poor choice, night thought), and the vials and philters on the counter were shuffled out of order from the organized rainbows they were before.

not that any of this was good for mentioning, however, so she stepped into his shop, past opening the wooden front door, making sure that those who needed to speak to him could file in. of course, however, she couldn't see the quest she'd completed once before.

"kyo, sorun. are you able to speak to him?"

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At Sorun's observation that her objective was "a risky but noble goal," Kyo actually looked away and let out a faint snort. Risky, for sure, but noble? Absolutely not. The only reason Kyo was doing it was because after so long, she had reached a point where the only way she would find any kind of closure was if she personally put an end to Kayaba... or was, at least, part of what did. If she died in the process of trying, it would still be a less-certain death than if she never tried at all.

If the game ended before she found that son of a... well. She wasn't sure what she'd do with herself in the real world, if that happened.

"Good t'meetcha, Sorun," she said after a moment. "And sure, may as well do the quest together then. With more'n one person, we could maybe even speed things up by gettin' more'n one o' the mobs into a cluster and usin' our AOEs on 'em. Not sure I'd risk that solo, not at this level."

As she spoke, Kyo idly swiped her hand through the air to open her menu, and with a few clicks sent Sorun a party invitation.

Oscar's warning prompted a flat stare while she waited for Sorun to confirm the invite.

"Would it make ya happier if instead o' sayin' safer, I said less dangerous?" she asked, a bit tartly. "Don't worry, I know how real the risks are. If I seem a bit casual about it, it's jus' 'cause I was already usedta fightin' IRL, before the NerveGear was even a thing. So the idea o' fightin' for my life doesn't scare me as much as others, that's all."

That of course left the big old question-mark of why Kyo had hid herself away in the Town of Beginnings for so long. But for all that Kyo had a slight tendency to over-share when she was nervous, sometimes, that wasn't something she was about to get into with a pack of strangers. Instead, she nodded toward NIGHT.

"Girl's got a point. We can talk while we quest. A buncha boars ain't gonna pose us much trouble, especially with a couple o' epic-level adventurers taggin' along t' keep an eye on things. Let's go see about initiatin' the quest, then..."

Kyo was mildly glad she had at least run into the NPC "Dorian" the previous day; though she wasn't sure if Sorun had completed that step, come to think of it. NIGHT seemed to have skipped to the alchemist's shop. Perhaps, Kyo mused, NIGHT had been at this so long that she'd forgotten the actual starting point of the quest... the tutorial was designed to push itself on new players, after all.


"You there! Stop, please!"

Kyo, who had in fact been standing completely still while trying to remember which way to go to get back to the inn from here, sighed and rubbed her temples as if suppressing a headache. It was the third or fourth time Dorian had approached her by this point, but since she was planning to do the tutorial quest soon, she figured it was time to actually engage with the guy.

"...Yes, good citizen?" she said, with exaggerated grandeur, turning back to look at the NPC striding toward her and making a cartoonishly heroic sweep of her arm. "Hastest thou rats in thine basement in needeth of slaying-eth? Or something?"

As she had expected, and indeed intended, the NPC came to a stop, blinking uncomprehendingly. "I'm sorry," it said. "I'm afraid I don't understand." Then it shook its head and, from that default response reverted straight back to its scripted lines: "Pardon me, but I am in need of some assistance, and you appear quite capable..."


The rest of the quest-starter dialogue went about as predictably and straightforwardly as could be expected. Dorian was apparently the Barliman Butterbur of municipal government, and had issued a loan to someone... then promptly forgotten who. The first quest was to find out who the loan had been given to, and collect the money. Kyo was interested to see if the quest allowed for players to potentially keep the money after collecting it. Not that she intended to, but it would be an interesting indicator of Argus and Akihiko Kayaba's quest-writing philosophy, which would be useful information to have going forward.

Since Sorun was in her party, Kyo assumed he could probably share her quest-progress, although... that might not be true. It would be awkward if they had to run back to Dorian's usual spawn point and get him to pester Sorun just so they could run back to the alchemist's shop and have the same conversation again.

Slipping past NIGHT into the shop, Kyo raised her hand in sardonic greeting at the alchemist himself, who had the "?" of a quest-in-progress hovering above his head.

"Yo," was all she bothered to say.

The alchemist, a bearded fellow who looked about as stereotypical as it got in these fantasy RPGs, greeted them in just as scripted a fashion as the poor mayor would have.

“Oh, hello," he said.  "Are you here to order something? I’m sorry, but I am currently swamped with orders, and I’m running out of supplies.”

"What a shock," Kyo said blandly, looking at her fingernails. "Good thing there's a convenient pair of scrub-tier adventurers handy alluva sudden, huh?"

"I'm not sure I follow," the NPC said distractedly. Then, as if he had a suddenly brilliant idea: “Would you gather a few materials for me? Flowers, herbs, rare woods, whatever you can find outside the city walls. I promise I’ll help you fill your order as soon as you return. In fact, I would be willing to show you how to do it yourself.”

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                      Yeah, Sorun had hardly anything to worry about by the looks of things, as well as the words that were spoken. Oscar noted that he and Night were frontline level players. He put Night on a bit of a pedestal, but Night would deny it, noting that the two high level players had residence here...and how one of them ran a hot dog stand? Sorun squinted as he looked Oscar up and down. "So, you're the Wiener Man, then?" He remarked. What was that popular hot dog brand in the states? "Oscar Meyer"? That's the same name as this dude's name or username, Oscar specifically...and this player was also the Wiener Man who ran the hot dog stand in the alleyway hood within the Town of Beginnings. The more Sorun thought about this, the more the guy seemed like a walking meme, despite his high level. The only way he'd be able to make use of this would probably be to make potential enemies not take him seriously, until it's too late...but it would be awful for first impressions with many others, in Sorun's opinion. He nearly chuckled at the thought.

                 Kyo sent Sorun a party invite as the others continued to chime into the conversation. Sorun accepted the invite, hopefully any monsters the players would encounter would be nothing like the many that he'd fought against alongside Hana. He really cared about her and wanted to help her out often, but hoo, boy, he was not ready for her adventures' level of crazy. "I've had my share of first battles. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that I'm not exactly a pushover. Monsters around my level will be hard pressed to get any progress against me." He remarked, hoping this would encourage the player who invited him to her party. Then Kyo decided on initiating the quest. Sorun nodded his head. "Have you met the mayor guy yet? I know I did, so the quest's just been sitting there in my quest log since, like, four days ago, I think." He noted.


Four days ago...


"You there! Stop, please!"

A confused Sorun turned around to see a man approaching with long strides. "Need something?" He would ask, though in his mind he was thinking, "Let me guess, someone stole your sweet roll..."
                    "Pardon me, but I am in need of some assistance, and you appear quite capable." The NPC then heaved a quick sigh, adjusting the monocle over his right eye. "My name is Dorian, and I am the mayor of this town. As part of those mayoral duties, I issued a small loan to a member of the community a few months ago. Well, the time to collect had come around and I-" Flustered, Dorian systematically ran his fingers over his mustache. "You see, I've forgotten who it was I loaned the money to. Terribly embarrassing, I know, but I am a very busy man, and I cannot keep track of everything that happens. I'm sure you understand." With a wave of his hand, Dorian continued, "Should you be willing to track down the loan recipient for me, and collect the col, I would be eternally grateful. Just, maybe don't let anyone else know I forgot who the loan went to?"
Sorun's confused expression didn't fade, and he blinked twice. Well, this wasn't over a sweet roll, but this was still kind of ridiculous. "...Sure?"
      It was as if Sorun's word answered the quest prompt for him, as his quest log was then updated.

"Excellent, I knew I could count on you! You might start with Zackariah, the alchemist. He's often doing projects for the town, so it may have been him that borrowed the money." 
                              With that, Dorian immediately returned to business, and disappeared into the town within seconds, leaving Sorun standing there with a blank, awkward expression on his face for a good five minutes.


                            Entering the shop with Kyo, Sorun was expecting to find him in some kind of serious problem. However, it seemed to go similarly to that time with Hana the other day.
                    First, Kyo spoke in a way that confused the NPC, similar to how Hana nearly confused Maggie with her choice of words.
"Right, so we're here about-"
       Suddenly the NPC spoke about asking for materials, and making something with them. Wait, no no wait, this is going exactly like-
   Sorun's confused expression remained unchanged when it was the Tutorial Quest that got updated, rather than a restart of Earning a Living, but the similarity of the scenario was just uncanny. 
"O-ok then, we're off to get 'em."

                Well, awkward start aside, maybe the rest will go completely smoothly, unlike yesterday's Escapade with Hana? Only time will tell.

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