- Oct 20, 2009
- dancing on sunshine and gingersnaps
Sword Art Online
I held my virtual steel strong against the ferocious beast. A black scimitar chipped of a few specs of green from the bar in the left corner of my vision. I swung my blade in a horizontal arc, and as my steel cut into the creature I used the opportunity to push myself back fifteen feet from the beast.
After putting some distance between us I looked the left corner of my vision at the green bar slowly draining. Small bits of green trickled off of it, and flowed back into system; at least that’s where I assumed they went.
To others it may have simple HP bar –the visualization of a player’s remaining life force- but to me, it was a timer that told how much time I had left in world of Sword Art Online. Eighty percent of the bar remained, and was creeping toward zero. I may have had more than enough time to finish the battle, but the shadow of death that always loomed over my shoulder was ever present; as it was in every battle I fought.
I gripped my trusty sword in my right hand, took a deep breath, and stared down the frightening monster. Black vile dripped from its razor sharp fangs and tongues of fire lashed out of its mouth. It stood on two legs, but was far from human. Glints of red shone through its charred scales, and bits of rotted flesh dripped of its body, and revealed its muscle and bone. The jet black scimitar it clutched in its right hand, and the shield decorated with skulls in its left made it all the more intimidating.
The level 93 Demonic Lizardman Lord was truly one of the most frightening creatures in SAO. And the fact that it was found on the twenty fifth floor of the castle Aincrad was even more unsettling. As soon as I was done exploring the hidden labyrinth I planned on warning other players of the dangerous dungeon. That was the whole reason I was there anyway.
I moved my left foot forward, and crouched down to the point my knees were almost touching the floor. I held my sword parallel to my right leg, and with mighty dash, I sprung forward. My sword became covered in a light blue glow, and the familiar shgeen! sound meant that I had successfully activated a sword skill. My faithful blade pulled me forward at frightening speed, coupled with my already high AGI -agility- stat, my dash shook the air. And then…
The moment my sword met the monsters shield its means of defense shattered into a shower of sparkling polygons. The explosion of light was the universal sign of death in SAO. It applied to monsters, players, and even items. Whenever something’s HP- or durability points in the case of items- reached zero they would explode into a shower of light. Though I did know of an skill that used SAO’s death animation.
The lizardman barred its fangs and the jet black scimitar in its right claw shot up, and began to glow with a menacing red light. If I didn’t know any better, I could’ve sworn I saw a bit of hatred in its glowing red eyes. But that was impossible. It didn’t have the ability feel hate. It didn’t the ability to feel all. At its core, it was nothing more than a complicated series of ones and zeroes; just like everything else in SAO.
I had two seconds before the beast finished charging its sword skill, and took off a huge chunk of my HP. My body was still rigid after using a sword skill, so dodging was out of the question. But I did have a way to avoid being cut.
“One-handed shield: Adamantine Crest!” In an explosion of polygons, a silver shield adorned with intricate designs appeared over my left arm. I raised my arm with a second to spare and my shield clashed with the black scimitar. A clang echoed through the empty labyrinth, and a shower of sparks erupted from clash of metal.
The lizardman stumbled back as it shook its head. It’s how I imagine a player would react if they saw me use my extra skill. But there were no players to be found in that newly discovered dungeon; I had made sure of that. I’d used my maxed out search skill to sniff out the possibility, amd the only things that occupied that place were monsters.
With the monster off balance, and my body able to move freely again, I brought my sword up and it glowed with a pale green light. I cut down, and my blade pierced the lizardman’s right shoulder and cut down to its waist at an angle. I twisted my hand and brought my sword up and out its left shoulder. My Vertical Arc left the distinctive V shaped scar on the monster’s torso, and the glowing red lines looked strange on the rotting beast
The creature let out an ear shattering roar, and it sucked in a great amount of air. A glowing ember appeared in its bulging throat; a telltale sign of a breath attack. Even though magic was all but nonexistent in SAO, monsters could still use certain type of longed range attacks: Dragons and Wyverns had breath attacks, Ghouls and Ghosts could curse players with status ailments, etc.
I held up my silver shield as the lizarman expelled the searing flames from its gut. The fire pushed against my shield, and even though my boots were sliding back across the slick granite floor, my strength made certain I would not falter. If it wasn’t for my shield, and my high STR-strength- stat, I wouldn’t have instantly died from the attack. And in SAO, where Game Over meant actual death, I had to thank Kayaba Akihiko for letting me obtain my extra skill.
After a few moments the sea of flames stopped, and peered around my shield to look at the tired monster. It was hunched over and gulping up mass amounts oxygen. I had to give credit to the creators of SAO, it did feel like I was fighting something that was actually alive. If I didn’t know any better I could’ve sworn I was fighting an actual lizardman.
But I knew better. It was no more of a living thing than I was an actual swordswoman.
Its breath pushed twenty feet from it, and I wagered I had at least four more seconds before it was able to act once again, and I was confident I could end the battle against the high level monster before it could counter.
I sprinted forward. “Two-handed spear: Gae Bolg!” The shield over my left arm, and the sword in right hand shattered into the familiar shower of light, and a second later a long spear was born from that light. I snatched up the pole at the base, raised it above my head, and spun it around. The sharp, blood colored tip glowed with a blue light as I spun it around. The sound triggered the activation of a sword was as satisfying as ever, and just as I brought the edge around for the first hit of the combo the lizardman was beginning to stir.
But it was too late.
The first strike of Rejecting Circle cut deep into the monsters throat. Its head lashed back and stumbled a few steps backward. My spear passed around four more times, and with each brutal slash on the lizard’s scaled throat it’s HP bar dropped five percent. But I wasn’t done.
“One-handed dagger: Yuxa’s Fang!” My Gae Bolg shattered, and a small purple dagger took its place in my left hand.
My boots slid close to the lizardman and, as if I had a death wish, I turned and pressed my back against its stomach. The false sensation of heat burned through the back of my brown duster. I turned the tiny blade so the tip was just barely touching the beast’s stomach, and it glowed a soft yellow. The poisoned tip sunk into the soft scaly flesh, and I thrust it in and out repeatedly. The tiny dagger carried me up as it stabbed into the lizardman. My slender body turned, rolled, flipped, and leapt up high above the monster.
The creature was covered in glowing red cuts, and its HP bar sank into the red. It tugged and tried to force itself to move, but my dagger left behind a nasty paralysis status ailment.
As I rose higher I called forth the weapon that would end the battle. “Two-handed sword: Ice!” I held the handle of the dagger with both hands, and as it was called back to my inventory, a large sword with a deep blue blade took its place. I held the cold weapon above my head so the blade was perpendicular to my head. It wore a glow the color of the sky, and the sound of the sword skill Helm Splitter activating echoed through the lonely dungeon.
The sword that was almost the same length as my body pulled me down like a comet, and as the frozen steel was about to sink into the lizardman’s skull, I could’ve sworn it looked at me with the most confused eyes.
In an instant after my sword fell through the scaly creature, splitting it in half, it exploded into a shower of polygons. The specs of light littered the room and shinned bright against the blackness of the labyrinth. They reminded me of night sky. Not the one that I had seen every night for the last two years, but the one in the real world. The system may have been able to create such a life like world, but there was something about the night sky around Aincrad that seemed all to fake. At least that’s what I though.
“One-handed longsword: Chrono’s Splinter.” The mighty sword Ice shattered into more stars, and sent back my trusty sword. I glanced quietly at the steel that shown with a light yellow tint, and the faces of ancient clocks that adorned the hilt. If I calculated all the hours it took farming for materials to forge it, I probably spent weeks. But it was a real labor of love. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be the sword I always carried across my back.
I swiped the blade back and worth, and returned its rightful place in the tattered leather sheath on my back. My eyes twitched up to my HP bar, which was at seventy three percent. I may have had plenty of time to get back to town, even if I walked, but the fact that it constantly drained always brought about an uneasy feeling in my stomach.
I reached in my coat pocket, pulled out bottle filled with orange liquid, popped the top, and downed it in a few gulps. The citrusy liquid may have had a heavy medicine like taste, that always made me recoil a little, but it did succeed in raising my HP bar. While it would take the potion a minute or so to restore a normal players HP back to one hundred percent, in my case it would only take mine back to eighty percent.
The healing liquid would do battle against the curse that constantly drained my life force, and the curse would always win. In fact, it had been almost a year since I last saw my HP bar completely filled.
I raised my left hand and brought my finger down in a swiping motion. A familiar bell rang as the transparent purple menu was brought up. I moved my finger down until I saw the map tab, and with slight poke, opened it. I browsed over the map data I had been collecting all day and found I mapped sixty percent of the entire dungeon.
I smiled a little. Normally, it probably would’ve taken a party of six level 90 players do what I had done; and their HP bars would’ve more than likely dipped into the yellow. I couldn’t help but glean a little pride from that fact, even if it was solely because of my unique skill.
With a swipe of my fingers I closed the menu, and turned back to leave the dungeon. My clock had said it was only two in the afternoon, but even though I had plenty of day light left I decided I had done enough adventuring for the day.
My footsteps clicked against the smooth black floor, and before long I could see light pouring into the dimly lit dungeon. I raised my hand to shield my eyes, but as soon as they adjusted I looked out at the fantastic landscape stretched before me.
Dense forests, quaint towns, flowing rivers, and standing atop the hazardous Mt. Alibade I could see it all. It really was a sight strait out of an RPG, and being that SAO was a VRMMORPG, why wouldn’t it be?
None of it was actually real. The cold air filling my lungs. The pleasant sun warming face. The craggy earth pressed against my boots. There were just lies pumped into my brain by the Nerve Gear strapped to my head back in the real world. In reality, I was probably lying in a hospital bed, while nurses and doctors waited for me to wake up.
Which was why a sharp pain dug into my heart.
One day I would have to leave the one hundred floor castle of Aincrad. I would have to return to the real world, and go back to being a normal sixteen year old girl, while all the power I gained in the last two years would disappear into the fast dataspace.
But until that day came, I would keep on searching, and keep on fighting. And while everyone else, even if they did remember me, would only know me as Elmias the solo-player, I would remember myself as the strongest player in Sword Art Online.