Chapter 0003—Starter Village

The brainwave helmet that clung onto his head suddenly gave of an intense burst of electricity. Drako Yau could feel his brain crackling in dire pain, as if his whole body was being thrown from an extremely high place. It reminded him of a thrill ride he had experienced as a child in a certain theme part, namely the Turbo Drop. Even someone as tough as Drako Yau had decided never to go on thrill rides again.

***

‘Hm?’

It was a room flooded by blue lights.

The roof, walls, and even the floor; everything in the room looked like they were made out of countless circuits, with blue lights travelling back and forth the circuits. In the centre of this futuristic-looking room, two chairs were levitating in the air.

The floating seats were occupied by a male and female. From the back of their chairs, two strips of curved metal extended out to cover their eyes like eye masks. All of a sudden, the teenage girl seemed slightly startled as she said, ‘Maverick detected, initiating special protocol.’

Apart from the brief startle she showed, she spoke just like a robot, void of any emotions.

***

Immediately after the girl in the mysterious room finished her line, the game pod lying in Drako Yau’s apartment radiated a blinding burst of light, turning the dim room into a white canvas.

The air sounded like it was sizzling. The moment the white brilliance reached its pinnacle—a pop could be heard.

It sounded like a balloon that got popped by a needle, or maybe a stinky fart of a vagrant. The intense flash blinked out of existence, and the game pod that Drako Yau had once been lying in disappeared along with the light.

***

‘Hah… Hah… Hah…’ Drako Yau snapped his eyes open while gasping for breath.

What came into sight was a splendid grassy plain. As he took in deep breaths one after another, he looked at himself. He was currently donned in a hide vest that looked like what ancient humans would wear, and his shoes were simply woven out of grass. 

Drako Yau could tell that it was indeed the sensation of grass, which meant his five senses were gradually returning. After a while, he could eventually hear the bickering and bustling going on from not far away.

Feeling that his body had completely recovered, he only then inspected his surroundings. It did not take long for him to show a grim smile. It was not an unfamiliar location, because this was exactly the same as the starter village he had designed.

The starter village wasn’t even granted a name, as its sole purpose was for players to receive simple quests and understand the basic controls. Immediately after, players would leave the village and head to actual cities.

In Drako Yau’s design, this starter village housed over a thousand NPCs. The bustling noises were from the conversations between the countless players and NPCs.

‘More and more rabbits are showing up in the village lately, making it difficult for me to harvest my crops… How annoying. Young warrior, are you willing to…’

Similar dialogues that allowed players to receive starter quests repeated over and over again throughout the village.

Unlike the other newbies, Drako Yau was in no hurry to receive a quest and raise his level. He walked silently to a corner where there was no one around and looked over the fence that barely reached his waist.

‘A distinct verdant green.’

He then crouched and grabbed a bunch of soil from the ground… It felt real as well. As if it wasn’t enough, he sniffed the soil. If someone was looking at him now, they would surely think he was a madman.

‘A slightly bitter petrichor…’ He then tossed the lump of soil to the ground and clapped the dust off his hands. ‘How terrifying…’

Faced with such a ‘Real World’, Drako Yau turned pale. The most terrifying thing was that the sensations he felt were exactly the same as that of the actual world. This meant they had not been bluffing when they boasted that the brainwave technology could replicate a real world in the truest sense.

Rancour? Bitterness? In the face of such technology, what more could he say?

Drako Yau took in a deep breath, calming the ragged breathing rhythm due to the turbulence in emotions, then checked his status. Only then did he realise that he had no idea about the game’s control.

Soon enough, he noticed an NPC that had a gigantic question mark floating above her head.

***

After hearing a detailed explanation from the charming NPC girl, Drako Yau took out his phone. Everything that was related to the interface had to be accessed via his phone. After clicking the ‘Real World’ app, he selected the character status interface.

Character: ??? (Unnamed) (Unnamed characters cannot leave the starter village.)

Class: Wanderer

Level: 1

???

???

???

The chain of question marks made his jaw drop to the ground. He had never heard from the tutorial that his attributes would be hidden!

Whatever.

Upon pressing the ‘status’ button, the text floated like speech bubbles in front of his eyes. Drako Yau then pressed a button to name his character.

***

‘Ha.’

Drako Yau swung the thick stick he held at the rabbit. Just like that, the cute little animal tumbled to the ground and turned into smoke, dropping a few gold coins as it disappeared.

Even the shocks and impacts feel so real…

He picked up the gold coins and placed them into his pocket. That was the last rabbit for his mission, as shown by the ‘10/10’ written in his quest log. Drako Yau then turned on his heels and planned to head back to the old man to finish his quest.

Weird hustling noises came from behind him. Drako Yau turned around to find a fat rat sneaking its way through the knee high grass. Not only was the rat plump, it was also massive; a half-metre long rat was not something one could find in the actual world. The end of its thin tail was giving off a golden gliste.

Drako Yau’s eyes lit up as he murmured, ‘What kind of luck is this?’

Before his voice even faded, he reached out and caught the rat with his bare hands. It made a few final squeals before turning into smoke. In his item bag, an item popped up.

Golden rat, a plump rat that wasn’t picky with its diet. They were said to be the favourite food of a certain species of carnivorous hares.


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