Emptiness surrounds me, as I float in this vast darkness. I cannot discern up or down, hot or cold. Absence of feelings, only memory remains. Of my life, and death.
<<So, this the afterlife, huh?>> I mutter to myself.
A bright sphere shines in the distance. Pulsing, waves of light come towards me, pulling me toward their source.
Throbbing, rotating on itself, the sphere grows bigger, and bigger as I slowly go towards it.
Images and words float in my mind, some unknown, others I can understand. All of them have the same meaning:
<<Who…what are you?>> I inquire, uneasy.
Again, the stream of concept floods my thoughts. Images of temples, prayers and disasters. Names of pantheons lost in strange times, of saints and demons. All of them allude to a concept, both strange and familiar…that can be translated by a simple word:
A true GOD, or so the being claims.
And IT asks me a question. Time flows, as I ponder on a simple answer to that question.
<<Yes>> is my answer.
<<SO IT WILL BE>>.
Light swirls and envelops me, as I feel myself torn apart, destroyed to the core and rebuilt by ITS power.
As my consciousness fades, I can hear a faint sound of laughter.
A cheerful, female voice rings in my head.
[Welcome! I am your standard Dream Navigator, a Mana Simple Program Info Relay Interface Terminal…or Mana Spirit, in short! Would you like to give me a nickname??]
<<Yes…Dream Navigator…I’ll call you Navi. Is it ok?>> I say to the voice.
[Navi…I like it! Call me Navi from now on! I will assist you in your transition to the New World, and help you progress in this new, exciting adventure! But first, would you like to tell me your name?]
My name…well, I could use my real name fro my former life…but what would be the point in that? New life, new name so…although, I think, I don’t want to give myself a random name, as I don’t know this world’s naming sense. I could be forever stuck with a lame name, and I don’t want that!
<<Can you suggest me a name?>> I ask to Navi.
[Navi: Hmm…I can generate a name from the database, is that ok with you?]
I nod with my head.
[Navi: Generating random name…success. Name: Roshal. Is that ok?]
<<Roshal huh…it sounds…powerful! I like it>>.
[Navi: Good! Name: Roshal will be awarded after rebirth process is complete. Now, would you like to hear the tutorial, Roshal?]
<<Oh! A tutorial…well, it cannot hurt to hear it, right?>>
[Navi: Wonderful! Let’s start, shall we? First, this world is ruled by two main concepts: Level and Stats! You will start from level 1, and your level will grow by absorbing power from your enemies! This power is called “EXP”, and when you reach a certain amount of it, your level will rise!]
I am dumbfounded by her words…it’s almost like an RPG game tutorial. This can’t be possible, right?
She goes on with her explanation. Apparently, your level and stats are given on birth, and when you level up your level increases, and so do your stats. Higher level means higher stats. So game-like.
[Navi: Next, we have the good stuff! To survive, you will need to perform certain actions. These are divided into 2 categories: Skills and Magic!]
[Navi: Skills are advanced actions, like sending shock waves with a blade slash, reading minds and so on! You can obtain skills by performing certain actions, but there are hidden methods too! Strive to the top! Level up your skill to obtain ultimate power!]
[And…last but not least…we have everybody’s favorite! Magic! It is the most powerful force in this world, and even me, your cute Navi, is born from it! You can only learn magic by study, so…work hard!]
[Well…that’s all for the tutorial! I will accompany you in your journey, and notify you of your progress! Are you ready to reincarnate and start this wonderful advent=(=%/!!!]
Navi’s voice is interrupted by strange sounds, and a loud alarm noise bursts in my thoughts.
[Alert! Alert! System malfunction due to UNKNOWN interference!]
Says a monotonous, computer-like voice. A sharp pain assaults my mind, and I feel a strong force pulling me.
I am falling! Falling! I precipitate in a pitch black emptiness. A blinding flash and a loud crashing noise end my fall.
As I open my eyes I am laying down on a stone floor, surrounded by rabble and debris. Pain aches through my body. Slowly, I get up on my feet. It looks like I am alright. I look at my hands…normal, human hands. Although they feel…smaller than before, in my previous life. Still…I am really alive again again. I jump on the place, screaming in delight. Somehow, my voice sounds younger than I’m used too. Oh well, it must be my imagination…
[Navi: Unexpected Failure on Reincarnation routine]
[Navi: Checking Roshal’s conditions- Complete. Status Interface Launch: Complete]
My head aches and my vision blurs. Hallucinations are now floating in my view, they resemble menu windows from old-school RPG games. So,this really is a game-like world,huh?
[Navi: This is your Status Window. You can check various information like level and stats here, and a list of skills and magic spells. To activate/deactivate, think the command “Status ON/OFF. To navigate, just think about what would you like to see!]
I try to turn off the menu, and my vision returns to normal. By thinking “Status ON” I activate it again. Now information about me is displayed on the Menu.
My level and stats are all…lame. Only ten HP, while my other stats and level show a single, pitiful digit: one.
[Navi: Level one! Like a newborn baby!] says her cheerful voice. Although…I feel like she’s slightly mocking me. Still…It should not be like this! A reincarnated person should be overpowered and become the Hero, or something like this!
[Navi: Hm…it seems the interference before stopped your rebirth and transported you here instead, tampering with the process]
<<Great…just great.>> I mutter to myself, sighing in disappointment. My life was plain enough in my original world, why must it be like this even here!
I shake my head and resolve myself. I check my skills, maybe I have earned some overpowered and absurd super-skill!
No spells…well, I expected something like this. I rejoice when I look at the Skill list. Two skills are listed in the menu.
I check them.
[Navi: Skill info- Inquisitive Eye lvl 1- Shows Status Info on target, Ignores resistance and Skill/magic effect, Undetectable]
So an overpowered, almighty enemy reveal ability! Nobody hides from my sight! This is good!
Or so I think. I immediately activate the skill on a small lizard that is resting on the collapsed wall besides me, and the result is disappointing.
The range is really short, and the info relayed only displays name, race and level of the target. Well…it’s not the most powerful thing, but it can still be useful. Still… I expected something better, like huge detection range or something like that.
<<Maybe I need to level it up>> I say to myself.
<<Ok, let’s try the next one!>>
[Navi: Skill Info- Black Mist lvl 1- Effect Unknown-Effect Unknown]
Ok, this sounds interesting. I tremble in anticipation as I activate the skill on the small lizard.
<<Sorry buddy>> I say to the small animal.
I extend my arm towards it, and activate the skill by thinking its name.
Power swells in my body and my hand trembles, shaking from the excessive energy. Taken by the flow, I shout the skill’s name, unleashing the mighty wave of destruction. I hope to not be blown away by my own power…
Lame. What is this lame thing? I expected a huge flame, or a Kamehameha-like death-ray, instead a puff of dense, black smoke is released from my hand, and I ham hurled from my feet several meters away. I land on the floor, hitting my back.
[Navi: Black Mist – Attack failed! Enemy Ruin Lizard escapes]
A small vein pops in my forehead. What the hell is this kind of scenario! Not only my level, even my skills are lame! That damned GOD, he tricked me!
“Would you like to be reborn in a new world ruled by magic, as a overpowered hero of justice?” he said, offering a dreamlike scenario to an old deceased nerd like me. A lifetime’s dream! To be reborn in a RPG world, conquer my way to the top…instead I’m the lowest level possible, with lame skills and stats!
I exhale a deep breath.
<<Well…just complaining about that will not lead me anywhere.>>.
I calm myself and look around to assert my situation. I am sitting in a ruined room, almost covered by plant vines. The stone walls are encroached by vegetation, while strange markings are visible on the stone surface not covered by plants.
The ceiling is collapsed, showing high, lush trees above me and a small view of the sky. Daylight shines from the treetops . The rabble on the floor seems recent, and dust still floats in the air. Perhaps my “fall” here caused this destruction…as I wonder about this, I am glad to be alive.
This kind of fall might have easily killed me.
<<At least the view is pretty>>.
Feeling less fatigued, I stand up and pat my clothes to clean them from the dust. I walk towards the exit, a small doorway built in the wall, without a proper door. It leads inside a collapsed corridor that branches left and right.
Left path is blocked by rubble, so I go down the path on the right. Light filters from the broken walls and ceiling, and, although the light here is dim, I can see where I am going.
After few meters, another collapsed structure blocks my path. Huh, this place surely took a lot of damage.
A large gap opens on the right-side wall. It seems I could safely exit the structure from here.
So, I take a deep breath and I drop down, jumping from the wall to the soft ground below. Of course, it’s just a small height jump.
I land on the soft, leaf-covered soil below.
[Navi: System Message- Leaving Aldora Ruins, Transition to Aldora Forest]
<<Aldora Forest, huh?>>. Lush, huge trees are all around me, and small, knee-high bushes cover almost every patch of terrain. Some rocks emerge from the forest’s undergrowth, and I can hear distant noises, probably from some kind of bird.
I take a slow, deep breath. My lungs fill with the forest’s scent. It’s so pleasant! Ah, I would be taking a lot of pictures if I still had my camera!
And then it hit me. I did not have my camera with me, nor my phone. No food, water, money or a weapon. No place to go, no place to stay the night.
The harsh reality of my situation. Alone in a forest. It’s a dangerous situation even in my past world…and here, it could be even worse.
I need to get out of here.
But first…I need to think about my options. Combat is a no-go, since I will definitely lose. So I must avoid anything that seems troublesome.
My Inquisitive Eye skill is the only thing that I can effectively use. I pick up a fallen tree branch and I activate my skill on it.
[Navi: Inquisitive Eye-Success. Details: Small Wooden Branch x1. Wood material (brittle)].
<<Good…it can display also status about objects…so the next step is…>>
By looking at a small bush besides me, I use the skill on it.
[Navi: Inquisitive Eye-Success. Details: Gray-leaf. Properties: Not edible, Poisonous if Ingested]
<<Alright…with this I can find something to eat…or at least avoid getting poisoned by a mushroom or strange fruit>>.
As I say so, I proceed inside the forest. From time to time, I activate my Inquisitive Eye to check the surrounding for enemies or food.
My priorities are straight: I need food, water, and a way out of this forest. And so, I thread carefully inside the forest’s undergrowth.
The trees here are enormous, even bigger than the mighty Sequoia trees that I admired during my trip to America.
The only edible things that I come across are small insects (that I do not want to eat…ever) and small, bluish berries that grow on bushes. I eat some of them, and, although their taste is pretty awful, I take some berries with me. It’s better than eating nothing at all.
The forest is like a maze, and I lost all sense of direction. Perhaps, I am going in circles, as I come across a small rock formation that I seem to remember.
Yep, I’ve been here before. The rocks are smeared with the blue juice from the berries, a blue “X” mark that I drew there.
Well, what a way to start, lost in a forest right from the beginning!
For a moment, I think about stopping here. Still, the light above me is strong, so I must have at least a few hours of daylight to explore. I’ll stop when the Sun sets.
From the rocks, I go towards the opposite direction. This time I’ll just walk straight ahead.
Every 20 steps I start marking trees with berry juice, drawing an arrow that points towards the direction where I am headed.
Rustling sounds are coming from the bushes, slightly away from me. I activate my Inquisitive Eye.
[Navi: Detected-Male Wild Rabbit, lv 3]
The rabbit moves inside the bushes, making noise as it finds its way. I lay low and pick up some stones to attack it. Perhaps, if I can catch it by surprise…still, level 3. Even a damn rabbit is higher level than me.
I brush away this thought, as I crawl closer to the rabbit. Slow and careful, trying to do as less noise as possible.
The rabbit pops out from the small plants…he’s huge! As big as a boar from my previous world!
He’ s standing on its hind legs, sniffing the air frantically. Perhaps he noticed me, I think.
And then, in an instant…something attacks the rabbit. With lightning-like speed, a giant snake bites the rabbit. The snake’s mouth is almost as big as the poor rodent, whose leg is twitching while the snake sinks his fangs inside the rabbit’s tender body.
[Navi: Detected- Male Green Snake lvl 30. Suggested retreat]
I had my skill still active…still, this snake is trouble. He is focused on eating his prey, so I can use this opportunity to run way.
And so, I run. As fast as I can. It’s difficult to move in the forest’s undergrowth, my clothes keep getting struck on small branches or thorny bushes.
Still, I push on. After two minutes of full speed running time, I am completely out of breath. Luckily, a small rock formation is nearby, so I hide behind them.
While catching my breath, I sit down and lay my back against the moist, moss covered rock. Just out of curiosity, I analyze the green moss.
[Navi: Details-Lush Green moss. Edible, Minor Stamina/Health recovery]
Oh, a recovery ingredient! I grab a small stone and scratch some moss from the rock. It looks so unappetizing, but my stomach is starting to protest. And so…thank you for the meal!
The moss does not taste so bad…it’s almost pleasant if compared to the blue berries. It reminds me of lettuce, and I can already feel a bit less fatigued.
[Navi:Successfully Harvested Lush Green Moss. New Skill Acquired: Harvesting!]
Oh! What is this? I immediately execute the skill on the green moss.
[Navi: Harvesting…Success! Obtained 10x Lush Green Moss]
[Navi: New Skill Obtained- Inventory! Skill effect: creates a sub-dimensional storage space! Gathered materials will be immediately moved to Inventory space. Objects can be freely moved in and out of Inventory! Hoard everything! The forbidden desire of a true collector!]
Oh, this sounds convenient! I think about taking the Moss from inventory and…
Light gathers on the palm of my hand, and a clump of moss appears.
I shake my head and get up on my feet, checking my surroundings with my trusted detection skill. No signs of the giant snake. Still…I need to be careful, as the short detection range of my Inquisitive eye does not allow any leisure. Danger could be just outside of it’s range.
And so, I thread carefully.
I come across a group of giant rabbits. These ones are even bigger than the first one, the large almost as big as a cow. And the lowest level is 10!
Quietly I circle around them, hoping to not be seen.
Sunlight is now dim, and sinister noises are echoing inside the forest. It may not be a good idea to spend the night here. No, it definitely is a very bad idea!
I eat some moss to regain my strength, and again, I start walking.
A familiar noise resounds in the air, among other sounds It’s faint, but I can clearly hear it! Running water. A river is nearby! I move towards the noise, as it grows stronger. Now there are less trees, and I can see past them…a large, slow flowing river!
Crystal clear waters flow, and the riverbank is full of white, smooth stones. Big rocks emerge from the water, sculpted in strange shapes by the constant erosion. On the other side of the river the forest continues as long as my eyes can see. Still, I found water.
I check with my skill to ascertain if there are dangers in the immediate vicinity. I would not want to encounter a crocodile right now.
Reassured, I walk towards the river. I kneel and dip my hands in the calm, cold waters. And there it is, my own reflection on the river’s surface. Shocked, I stare at my own face…definitely, I am still me.
Black, unkempt short hair, thin eyebrows and brown eyes. A plain face, like most of my friends from my previous life would say. Although I look…younger.
It’s almost like I am a teenager again! Taken by surprise, I stay several minutes in this position, just staring at my young face. A second youth! This simple notion almost compensates all my dissatisfaction from before.
Thank you, oh kind GOD, for this wonderful, youthful life! I forgive you for giving me low level and crappy stats!After calming down a bit and taking a big, deep breath I wash my face and drink a few sips of the pure water (after checking it with my skill, of course).
Refreshed, I now need to think about what to do from now on. My safest choice would be to follow the river downstream. I want to avoid wandering inside the forest again… don’t want my youth to end prematurely. But first, I need to tend to my growling stomach. Perhaps…I could catch some fish here.
Walking around near the forest’s edge, I pick some fallen tree branches that are long enough. I keep the longest ones while discarding the others, and I try to sharpen them on the riverbed’s rocks.
The results are not the best, but finally, after some trial and error, I manage to build two improvised spears from the branches. Of course, they are just pointed sticks, and I don’t know how effective they will be.
[Navi: Crafting Success! Obtained Makeshift Spear (Pointed Stick) x2! New Skill Acquired: Crafting! Crafting recipe: Simple Wooden Spear added!]
Neat! With this, I might be able to build a more effective weapon. Immediately, I activate the skill on the first spear. A small menu floats in front of the object, explaining the “recipe” to strengthen my spear and the needed components.
<<Flint-stone and fiber…now, where could I find some?>>.
While talking to myself, I activate my Inquisitive Eye on my surroundings. It seems that some of the bigger riverbed stones actually contain “flint” as a material, so I pick them up and use the “Harvest skill” on them.
Next, by using the skill on some bushes from the forest’s outskirts I obtain the “vegetable fiber” needed to craft the powered-up spear.
<<Good…now, I just need to combine them>>. Again, I activate the crafting skill. Now the menu shows a new option: craft.
I select it, and start building the spear. It’s like the information on how to assemble the materials is flowing in my head…my hands almost move by themselves. After a bit, a new message pops up, notifying me about the spear’s completion.
[Navi: Crafting Success! Obtained Simple Wooden Spear!]
I repeat the process with the remaining materials, obtaining a spare spear…just in case the other breaks. Next, I try to use my skill to find some fish in the river.
I roll my pants up to my knees and enter the shallow waters. The temperature is hot enough, and although the water is a bit cold it feels pleasant.
After a few failures and one spear lost, I manage to capture one fish, by executing the “Harvest skill” right as I strike the spear, it seems that the “harvest skill” works with all kind of food.
Although I expected to obtain another skill, like “hunting” or “fishing”. I wonder what are the conditions to obtain those…if they even exist.
<<Now…I just need to cook this>> I say while looking at the small fish still flapping on my spear’s end.
Firewood seems abundant, and I can make sparks by striking two flint-stones together. To start the fire, I gather some fallen leaves and small, dried wood sticks and arrange them under bigger branches.
By lining up some stones around them, a campfire is built! I made this just using my memory from my camping days…but now I wonder…what will be the difference if I use a skill to build it?
This time, I use the “harvest” skill to obtain materials and build the campfire with “crafting skill”.
The skill-made campfire is definitely better than the one build with just my hands. Not only that, by using “harvest” on big tree branches I could obtain “wooden logs”. Apparently, two basic skills are more useful than my original ones.
Still, I manage to light the fire and start cooking my dinner. The Sun is setting, and the sky is now painted in intense orange color. I can see it clearly, now that there are no treetops to block my view.
This world may be harsh, but it sure has some really pretty views. I decide to spend the night here, as there is no immediate danger in the vicinity, and moving at night me be really, really dangerous. Of course, I will spend my night awake.
And so, I wait the night to pass. I finish my dinner, and casually get the “cooking” skill. Bored, I decide to do several experiments with the “crafting” and “harvesting” skills.
Occasionally, I pause from my work to marvel at the night sky. Stars are so bright here, and so many of them are visible in the dark night.
Twin moons light the sky, beautiful pale blue lights. Refreshed by this view, I almost ignore the creepy sounds coming from the forest. It will be fine as long as I stand near the fire, I think.
I have enough wood to keep the campfire alive, so I focus on crafting. My first goal is to build a small knife. By using the flint-rocks from before, I smash one against the other to obtain a sharp edge.
The makeshift-knife is nothing more than a sharp stone, however I successfully made one and obtained a “flint dagger”recipe. This time, I use the crafting skill to combine wood, fiber and the sharp flint.
[Navi: Crafting success! Obtained “flint dagger”x1! Crafting skill level up 1→2! New recipes added! New command: enhance! Possible to craft leather objects]
Progress! I check the new recipes, and most of them require materials like hide or leather to be completed. Still, I probably will acquire those materials in the near future.
The most interesting recipe is a “Primitive Bow”. Next thing tomorrow, I will try to craft one, as to obtain the necessary material I will probably need to move further away from here.
The night goes on, and drowsiness is affecting me. Several times I find myself dozing off.
Usually I have been able to stay awake even for two days straight, studying for finals or even doing dumb gaming marathons. Still, the fatigue from today’s activity took a heavy toll on my stamina.
Sluggish, I struggle to stay awake. With poor results.
<<I need to stay awake>>.
Munching some moss seems to relieve my sleepiness for a bit.
Although, in the end, I end up asleep.
A rustling noise wakes me up. It’s near, too near. The fire is going dim, and sounds of splashing water are coming from the near river shore.
This is bad. I shake my head to brush away the drowsiness and I use Inquisitive Eye on the riverside. Barely lit from the firelight, small shapes are crawling from the shallow waters. Squirming, crawling towards me.