Okane o Subete Sekai e Chikara
The irritating and warm morning sunlight that was pouring directly on my face forced me to an awkward awakening.
Looking around me, I see a plain and many trees, green as far as the eye can see. Looking down, I am wearing a strange cloth with ochre colors and embroidery in carmine and gold. For the moment, for some reason, I am not particularly disturbed or nervous, despite waking up in an unfamiliar place, wearing unknown clothes; but that's because I find it familiar. I have certainly seen it before; the act of digging through my memories helps keeps my sanity for now.
Even with the blazing sun in the sky, the air is fresh and humid, that is one of the factors that lead me to think its morning. Besides that, last time I was awake it was night-time, around 3 or 4 am in the morning. I really don't remember it that well; time has been meaningless to me these last past months. Tonight I was immersed in T.L.O (True Life Online), like every night and day in the past year.
Don't think of me as an obsessive of videogames, you would be wrong. T.L.O is the first, and only game, I have become obsessed with in my life since ‘Carmen Sandiego’ (a detective game I played as a child). I am actually a businessman; you could think of me as a seller or dealer. I worked in a relatively big company while climbing to the top. I reached an important and very well-paid position, as it should be. I really was a rising star, until an incident that changed my life.
Roughly fifteen months ago I lost my much-desired job and I was relegated to minor labors that wouldn't take me anywhere. Due to legal reasons, the company couldn't fire me or cut my salary, which until then, had always come on the rise, since I am someone ambitious and a hard worker... Or was. But it was clear that since then, I had become a nuisance.
When rising in the company became impossible, I fell in depression; since I knew I couldn't work, nor earn so much money anywhere else. In a blink of an eye, my ambitions faced an obstacle that I could not overcome. While in this depressed state, I saw a commercial that captured my attention immediately, it announced the opening of a new game-server for a game that was apparently gaining popularity, but I hadn’t noticed before.
Why that commercial caught my attention even though I was no video-game lover myself?
It's because one of the characters in the game that appeared in the commercial looked just like me. He wore ochre clothes with red and gold embroidery and had an emblem with coins, apparently a merchant-class of the game. But beyond the clothing and, of course, the differences that anyone can point out between a computerized image and reality, it was me.
It's out of the question that I hurried to acquire the game and sign-in to that particular game-server. As a matter of course, I took the path of the ‘merchant’, not just because I myself was one, but because otherwise I could stay calm, since besides that one time, I never saw that commercial again, nor found it on internet. In hindsight, I would be lying if I said that at any point I thought it was a hallucination, but now...
"That's the character I saw in that commercial…", it's what I couldn’t get out of my head. It’s the same visual that I'm seeing my own reflection in the nearby stream by where I awakened. Since the beginning, the character was identical to me, I just needed to dress the same way to look like it, which means that these clothes I am wearing are... those of the final rank of the merchant class.
Last night, after many long hardships, I finally reached the requirements to up-grade my T.L.O character to the highest rank of profession of the merchant class. So far, no matter what I did, neither my character, nor any other person or character looked like the one in that commercial. The only thing I could think of is that it was the highest rank of the profession. Well, it isn't weird for commercials to expose the final forms of each class.
Taking into account that T.L.O is a pretty sadistic game, only the vicious will play for long enough to reach even the intermediate rank of any class and therefore it’s no surprise that even after a year of the server opening, no-one’s even reached the highest rank of the unpopular merchant class.
Why sadistic you ask?
At the start of the game, everybody has a character of the class labelled ‘Rookie’, without any talents and child-like stats. The only enemy they can defeat, at level 1, is the weakest in the game, and it gives only 1 experience point, and then the next weakest, that only gives 2 experience points, is proportionally stronger and harder to beat, that's twice the work. To that we must add; that to level up to a level 2 ‘Rookie’, you need a thousand experience points...
Considering a super-weak character, which needs an atrocity of time and work to build-up, those simply curious just leave the game almost immediately. Few in number are the casual players to attain the level 10 as a Rookie, necessary to move forward into the ‘Adventurer’ class.
The ‘Adventurer’ is slightly stronger ‘class’ than the Rookie. If I had to make an analogy, its equivalent to a normal teenager, and I'm serious; the character isn't stronger than a high-school student.
The benefit of advancing to the adventurer class is that it’s possible to learn weaker versions of the class’s skills of the ranked classes, helping when it's time to finally choose one. Of course, at that point, you're nothing more than addicted to the game.
If I have to guess, I'm embodying my character from TLO. A friend in the game, which proclaimed themselves an otaku, talked to me about novels and TV series where this was a thing.
Based on what I knew until now, this isn't a virtual world and that technology is far from been as realist as life itself, so I guess this is reality, another world most likely.
How do I know it's another world? Well if you ask me...
Pick your favorite:
The people I has have been seeing while hiding myself in the foliage wear clothes severely out of time, they pull carts, and wield swords and bows.
Every now and then, I catch a glimpse of animals like your typical bunny, deer and sheep; only these have unnatural colors and marks on their bodies.
And my favorite; as soon I focus on myself, like the time I stared at my clothes upon awaking, something like this appears in my minds’ eye:-
<<Argent Makoto – Human 1>>
Job: MARKET MASTER Lv 1
-VP: 23/25 -Resistance: 2 -Defense: 1
-MP: 5/8 -Knowledge-: 78 -Intellect: 295
-Energy: 14/20 -Strength: 2 -Mind: 3
-Agility: 3 -Talent: 1 -Spirit: 2
Items: ▼ Equipament: ▼ Skills▼
Titles▼ Money: 00
"WHAT THE HELL!?"
Fuck, for a moment I lost my composure when I looked again… uf.
Well, basically, I have stats and a class, so I must assume that this world has a ‘system’, like that of the game, although mine are lower than normal with the exception of Knowledge and Intellect. Even if they reset the character for some reason, they are too low, even for a Rookie, which has all stats set at 10 from level 1 to begin with.
TLO had a parallel-level system. The character and the ‘Job’ were independent…
I didn’t embody a character, so I myself became one?
So my true self is weaker than a Rookie from the game?
I’m not even going to even think what the fuck ‘Intellect’ and ‘Talent’ represent. Those weren’t in TLO, what are those… I mean, by their names I can figure-out what they are, but a ‘Talent’ of 1… I better stop depressing myself already.
If this is reality, I need to figure out a way to survive. If my stats are lower than a kid’s, there’s no way I can last long by myself in the open. For now I must seek refuge, so I will follow the path where people have been walking to and from. Of course, I’ll leave a safe distance between them and me. I don’t trust strangers, especially in a strange world.
After walking for roughly an hour (I can’t tell exactly, I don’t have a way to measure time, as my watch didn’t come with me) I finally see a town appear in the distance.
The houses around the town appear to be made of wood and stone, with un-painted walls, irregular surfaces but having tiled roofs.
The road seems to be constructed of stone and earth, barely better than the path I travelled on.
This is definitely reminisce of the middle ages, I find it hard to believe that even in the modern era there are settlements like this even on Earth …
As I approached, a man clad in leather wielding a sword, set his gaze upon me.
He is located next to a wooden tower of about 6 meters in height, in which is another man, that carries a bow and is watching every move I make.
Naturally, I didn’t attempt to enter the town somewhere else, the bowman in the tower would have probably recognized me as someone suspicious or hostile; act normal for now would be for the best. Right now, what worries me most is…
“Stop right there, identify yourself” A voice commands.
Oh! I understood perfectly what he said. Apparently language will not be a problem, although the movements of his mouth and the words he says don’t match… Automatic translation?
Now that I think about it, the merchant class has an advanced skill which allows communication with other intelligent races for trading with in the game.
It’s because of that skill?
I think it was a function of ‘Borderless Trade’, a skill I get in at the merchant ANER rank.
Since the ‘class’ ranks are: PAIS -> EFEBO -> ANER -> GERON.
ANER was just before this last upgrade, so it is no surprise if is pretty powerful.
“Pardon me. I am a traveler who hoped to rest in this town”.
“Very well, I will check your status, give me your hand”.
Check my status with my hand, really?
I better do as he says, though I don’t know the meaning of this.
After I did it, the man kept looking my way. Fuck; it starting to make me nervous… There’s nothing suspicious about me…really!
“Argent Makoto. Human, Merchant… ‘ARGENT’ MAKOTO!?”.
GAH! The guard is startled and starts to sweat all the while looking at me with eyes stretched wide-open, apparently his shouting startling the tower archer a little too.
“Aaaa fa-family name?...you have a family name… AN ARISTOI!”
What the fuck? Now that I think about it, my real name is besides my character’s name from TLO…
He takes it as my last name? Is it unusual to have a last name?
“Sorry for my lack of decorum, nobody told us that a noble would be coming”.
Ah, no, I’m not a noble. First of all; I have to prevent this from becoming an incident.
“Ahem, there was no notice because I am in incognito, you know, I don’t want to get attention, I’m just traveling”.
“Mmm, understood. I’m not sure about noble affairs, but…”
“It is my wish for nobody to know that I am here. Will you go against the wishes of a noble?”
“Of course not. If that’s your wish, I won’t touch the subject anymore. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the entrance fee is 100 Ja”.
Eh? Ja? Ha? Do you want me to laugh a hundred times?
Of course not, obviously this ‘Ja’ is the local currency. What a problem…I don’t carry any money, and if I did, it wouldn’t be ’Ja’.
What the fuck is ‘Ja’? The currency in TLO was ‘G’ for Gold.
Isn’t a noble exempt from paying things like the toll?
What kind of non-classist world is this?
Fuck, now he is looking at me in anticipation, I can’t say I don’t have any money.
A poor noble? Impossible.
For now I will pretend that I’m looking in my pockets… eh? What’s this?
There’s something in my hand I put in my pocket, but I’m sure there was nothing in my pockets, it feels metallic and its shape…
“100 Ja, I confirm that I have received payment, please enjoy your stay in Galia”.
The guard took the coins from my hand and let me in. For a moment he tried to bow, but then stopped; he remembered that I said I didn’t want to gather attention.
So far I managed to overcome the first obstacle, now… from where did those coins come from?
Even my status showed zero money, better to check it.
Yep, double zeros. But just now I had found money, even in the local currency.
I wonder… If I focus on a certain amount…It worked! I Have 10 coins in my hand.
This makes no sense, unless…
If I think about it, at the start, in TLO you obtained a random amount of money from 100 to 500G, and if you spent it all, it showed ‘0G’.
There was never something like double zero, which means, maybe those aren’t zeros, but something that didn’t exist in the game system, but a ‘something’ which represents an incredible and astounding symbol that’s beyond mortal aspirations, but is still everyone’s dream, the infinity symbol: ∞
Which means that the money I have isn’t zero, is Infinite, Limitless… OK, calm down…calm, I can’t gather any attention; I’ve got control of myself…
Screw that! I’ll buy the fucking world!