Part 2: Perplexity of Shizumoto Yuuto
Currently Shizumoto Yuuto is in a somewhat confusing situation.
He clearly remembered that after logging out from the MMOFPVRPG (Massive Multiplayer Online First Person View Role Playing Game) “Rage Against Heaven Online” 『RAHO』 at 11 PM he goes to sleep to get up early since tomorrow he needs to finish the laboratory assignment from Professor Higuchi. But when he opens his eyes, not only the sun is already up, he found himself in a place that do he not recognized.
But after looking at the furniture and various swords that displayed on wall stands, he thinks the room had a similarity with his 『Personal Room』 at RAHO. Not only is that, but his view also cluttered with RAHO interfaces windows just like when he played the game. Correction. The window seems to floating in the air, but moved following Yuuto’s head movement.
He can see the Top Window that contained his Avatar information:
【『Yusis』| 『Yuuto Shizumoto』 |『23』】
【『Health: 100%』 |『Mana: 100%』 |『Stamina: 100%』】
【『Male』| 『Human』 |『Japan』 |『DSL: 95/128』】
【『Neuschwanensee』 |『Guild Vice Leader』】
【『Incarnation Mode-1: ON』 |『Limiter: ON - MAX』】
But since when the Character Information Window contains his real name? The other Window that showed his Skills, Equipment, Inventory, or Jobs aren’t different with what he remembered before though.
At first, Yuuto thought that he forgets to finish the log out procedure and take off his HUD (Head Up Display) device or he was still dreaming. But something is not right.
RAHO wasn’t a VR (Virtual Reality) game. It was just a mainstream MMORPG that use the advancements in 3D Monitor Display and Stereoptics to render graphics using HUD that the player wear in front of their eyes to create hyper-realistic images. The player then controls their character using the integrated gauntlet controller (that was copied from a famed console game).
Using that logic it would be strange that Yuuto could feel the softness of the bed he sleeps on, the warmth of sunlight that pierces through the windows or the smell of fresh flowers from the fluttering curtains that was carried by the morning wind. There are no devices to replicate the realistic sense of touch, thermal and smells installed in his computer. He also doubts the existence of technology to recreate this sensation. So this is very strange.
If you ignore the game-like windows then it had no different from reality, of course it means that there are no Log Off button.
‘What is going on?’ Yuuto mind enter a state of deep thinking. Various hypotheses started from realistic to fantastic flashes in his mind. Just when he still thinks about it over and over, the door of his room is opened by someone.
That person is a young woman who wears a stereotypical frilly maid outfit. Her long brownish yellow-tinted hair is tied into two side tails that rest on her shoulder. Her youthful face can be considered a natural beauty that could win in a beauty pageant with a curved proportional body that could invite envies from most females.
Yuuto wonder who is she, but then he saw her resemblance with Florea, a 『Guardian』 NPC (Non Player Character) from his Guild in RAHO. Since when, the NPC got that realistic texture details? There is also no string of text on top of her head or a NPC marker indicator. Luckily she wears a nametag with Florea d’Printempts written in cursive Latin letter on her chest. Somehow this reminded him of maid café?
Oh yeah he remembered that the person who organized the guild 『Guardian』’s customization, fellow Vice Leader MayDoeSueKey said about: “A Castle mush have Maids inside!”. He wants to bought 48 『Guardian』 NPC, but Guild monetary and data limitations makes him only purchase 12 of them.
“Greetings, Heaven Lord Yusis. This one sincerely welcomes Lord Highness’ descent from High Heaven.” [i]
Florea speak with a very formal tone of voice while giving him a cutesy curtsy. This pulls Yuuto back from his thoughts. Because, hearing Florea speaking, Yuuto was a bit surprised. This is strange. Although advanced voice synthesizers are already frequently used in mainstream and indie games to provide quick voice acting to game character (without the high cost for voice actors) since several years ago and RAHO also used it to voicing some of their important (and numerous) NPC, but Florea shouldn’t had the 『Voice Pack』 installed in her.
The Guild “Neuschwanensee”, which Yusis belong to, is not a rich or powerful guild; so, it didn’t purchase the optional 『Voice Pack』 for any NPC it employs since it had a rather high price tag. He stills remembered how MayDoeSueKey sulks about the lack of Maids’ voice pack, but the Guild Master said: “Throwing Financial Assets for Unimportant Cosmetical Features are counterproductive!”
For this Yuuto just want to retort, “But you just spend the majority of Guild Fund to recreate late medieval German castle-town and build it like a SimCity...”
So the guild-purchased-NPC can only communicate to players using standard floating textboxes, at least the textbox is decorated (since MayDoeSueKey won’t relent on this point!)
It seems that Florea is waiting for Yuuto reaction.
Let’s see... What to say? Nah... Let’s go for this.
“Why is the need for formalities this time? Is my descent are not something trivial that doesn’t warrants such treatment?”
Yuuto jokingly speaks with a royal tone of voice; half-jokingly mimicking a feudal lord in a historical drama he saw before. Well, she did call him ‘Lord Highness’ right?
He thinks that Florea face goes pale for a moment. She then quickly kneels at the floor, performing a splendid perfect dogeza. Eh? Why? Yuuto confused, isn’t he just asked ‘rather’ nicely? What is she thinking?
“This one earnestly asks for Lord Highness’ forgiveness if this one in ignorance had made Lord Highness displeased. I beg for Lord Highness’ clemency.”
Florea formal tone is gone and replaced by what can be said as weeping sound. Yuuto inadvertently feels bad for this NPC.
“I’m just teasing you, Florea. Raise your head; I’m not mad with you.”
Yuuto said without his previous superior voice and replaced it with a kinder one. Florea raise her head and looks at Yuuto with her still damp eyes, a couple tear beads are huddling in her eyes corner. ‘Well this expression is nice’ think Yuuto. He gives one of his hands to help Florea get up.
“Mou *cheeks puffing*. You such a mean teaser, Lord Highness. You scared me; make me thinking that my greeting is something appalling or something...”
Florea pouting… Then she remembered something, and quickly back to her previous perfect genuflecting position. Yuuto swear he can’t follow Florea movements, what a scary girl!
“Pardon this foolish one Lord Highness for failed to pay respect Lord Highness, and dare to raise her voice rudely without thinking about her position. This one once again begs for Lord Highness’ clemency.”
What? For some reason Florea apologies once again. Is her internal programming malfunction or something? She is interesting anyway.
“No need to ask for my forgiveness, Florea. Raise yourself. No need to be scared of. You may speak and address the way you comfortable with.”
“Is it all right Lord Highness?”
Florea stare at Yuuto face. She radiates a strong aura of cute small animal. This makes Yuuto flinches, he is really weak against this kind of stare from women. Blames his male gender.
“It’s an order, Florea.”
Florea smiled, and then raise herself up and tidying her rumpled uniform.
From what Yuuto can surmised, Florea acts outside the capabilities of NPC script function. Although NPC AI can reacts to different player input; but it still limited by their pre-programmed routines and functions. Even from this rather limited conversation, Yuuto thinks that Florea is more like ‘Human’ than ‘NPC in a game.’ The NPC he knows won’t suddenly do dogeza or pouting at least.
First, the sensory experience and now this realistic NPC reaction, somehow, this is less and less seems to be dream-like or game-like.
“Now, Florea. It’s unusual for a NPC to greet a player when they logged in. Is it related to our circumstance now?”
Yuuto ask Florea directly trying to find an answer.
“This one is sorry, Lord Highness. But this one didn’t understand what Lord Highness implying to. This one only fulfills the Sir Keeper request to greet the Heaven Lords.”
Florea speaks with her ‘serious’ tone again.
“Is that so…”
So it seems Florea didn’t know the reason why Yuuto is in this game-like reality. But maybe, she doesn’t understand the terminology Yuuto used? Yuuto needs to dig how much this NPC knows on this issue.
“Florea. Do you understand what are ‘NPC’, ‘player’ and ‘logged in’ means?”
“This one do Lord Highness. NPC referred to Mortals that lived on Mortal Realms. Player is deity-like Heaven Lords that came from High Heaven. ‘Logged In’ means that the Heaven Lord is Incarnating to Mortal Realms in an Avatar of blood and flesh.”
She seems to be familiar with the phrase although the meaning is rather off. Let’s test again.
“Do you know that you are in a Role Playing Game?”
“Apology, Lord Highness. This one didn’t understand. What is Role Playing Game?”
So, she didn’t know. Is she means she didn’t know she was in a game?
“It’s better if you don’t know Florea. After all, you can think it as a forbidden knowledge for your kind, so forget it.”
‘No one will takes the fact that they are only part of game features well, so it’s better stay hidden…’ Yuuto surmised.
“This one, understand Lord Highness.”
“Then, do you know who you are?”
Here comes the existential question that had been asked by billions human before…
Florea seems confused but she still faithfully answered.
“This one given name is Florea d’Printemps. One of 12 『Guardian』 of 『Holy Land』 Castle who receives Divine Blessings and is the loyal servant of Heaven Lords of Neuschwanensee’s 『Holy Land』.”
If only people in real life can answers that question easily.
*smile* Florea presents a refreshing smile. She seems happy to be praised.
Yuuto think the initial information gathering is sufficient for now. Back to square one question.
“Now… Why you come to greet me in the first place, Florea?”
“This one is sorry, Lord Highness. This one almost forgets. Sir Keeper Mitteherz had prepared Lord Highness’ reception ceremony in the Grand Hall. So if Your Highness had no any activity, please attend the banquet with the other Lords.”
So there are some other players than myself? Yuuto can’t hold back his surprise. He needs to find out more about this.
“The other Lords? Can you please give details about it?”
“Yes, Lord Highness. Other than Lord Yusis, there are also seven other Heaven Lords than had descended at the same time. The other 『Guardian』 had already gone to greet them. Does Lord Highness need this one to tell Lord Highness the whereabouts of the other Heaven Lords?”
“Thank you Florea. No need for that, I can found it out by myself.”
Yuuto touch the floating information window to open the Friend List and Guild Member roster. It seems that what Flore said is true. There are 7 other people that logged in than him. He read the glowing text. Iusticia, Haimona, Terranova, Alciel, Unapietra, Stellahymne, and Melbiena.
They are all Neuschwanensee guild members and had been in a party with Yuuto for several occasions. But the other guild member name is dimmed which means they are offline. His friend list also filled with dimmed name. The usual raucous global chat log is eerily quiet, empty from sales pitching, party invites, or random babbles.
The system message log only show the login report of 8 people. It feels like the whole RAHO is only played by those 8 people. Using his Guild Vice Leader‘s prerogatives rights, Yuuto left a message at Guild Announcement.
〖Meet me at the Round Central Hall. URGENT! We need to talk.〗
He was at first wonder how he will write the message since he can’t type using ‘real world’ keyboard anymore. But then a transparent flying keyboard conveniently suddenly appeared. This feature is not existed in RAHO before, but at least it’s convenient.
After he closes the information windows, he turns his attention to Florea that observing him carefully since sometimes ago. Seeing that Yuuto looks at her, Florea face started to pale once again. But before she performs her flash dogeza, Yuuto speak first.
“Florea, I had new order for you. Relay to Mitteherz to hold the ceremony at later this evening, maybe at 17.00. There are things I need to discuss with the other Heaven Lords first, so tells the other 『Guardian』 to guide them to Central Round Room.”
“As Lord Highness’ commands.”
Florea then use spirit conversation 『Whisper』 to convey Yuuto message. When she turns to find her Lord, Yuuto had already gone to somewhere. She had did her job splendidly right? The Lord doesn’t angry with her right? She won’t receive any punishment right?
Since she hasn’t seen a Heaven Lord for quite some time, she was very nervous. She was really worried that she would shame the 『Guardian』 name by doing something that displeased the Heaven Lord, or more frighteningly she could receive punishment from the Heaven Lord for her conduct.
Heaven Lord is an existence that could slay Deity-level Beast with just a flick of his finger (not that Florea had seen it), level a Mountain Range just by waving one hand (not that Florea had seen it), or part the sky by slicing it with one arm (not that Florea had seen it) so one can only wonder what limits a Heaven Lord can do. That’s why she had been warned by her Sisters to watch her manner and don’t offend the Heaven Lord.
‘I’m succeeded right, Sisters?’ Florea silently gaze at the empty ceiling.
The Timid Maid 『Guardian』, Florea, once again pass the wonderful day safe and sound...
[i] Lord Highness: Tenshu Denka天主陛下