Nexus Awakened (An Isekai LitRPG Gender Bender Story)
< Judgement in Progress >
The ‘Blessing of the Nexus’, which she had come to call the ‘System’, displayed these words before her wilting eyes.
She could barely speak with what little air remained in her lungs. A total of 4 pale stakes longer than her entire body skewered her before the one thousand eyed beast. It was a dark ball ten meters in size with black feathers folded over its mass like a smooth coat.
They ruffled when all one thousand of its gaping, golden eyes blinked at once.
“… I… I came from… Earth… Transported here… turned into… a girl… and now… I’m being… Judged…?”
Her words were in the form of a bloodied gurgle.
< Decision of One Thousand Juries Pending >
< Awaiting Verdict >
She did not know.
“I helped… those people… in that village… that everyone abandoned…”
Who did she wrong?
Was she a bad person?
She knew in her heart that her answer was a resounding no.
But how could she say otherwise?
Her occupation back on Earth revolved around saving the lives of those in need. She would have known if someone had died under her care. Though these thoughts were only fleeting. The black forest grew darker. The only light which came from the eyes of the ‘bird’ waned with her vision as she felt all go cold.
She was dying. Perhaps she was already dead. She did not know herself, only that the pain had finally began to slip away. But as all sensation steadily disappeared; a resounding flame burst forth from the bottom of her heart.
“… If… my only… wrong… is living… then I’d rather… be wrong… to the very end!”
When the black forest fused with the darkness behind her eyelids –
– A message appeared.
////////< WARNING >////////
< THE AMALGAM’S AWAKENING EVENT HAS BEGUN >
< PARADISE LOST >
< THE ARBITER’S TRUMPET CAN NO LONGER BE HEARD >
* * *
Something happened one day.
There was no rhyme or reason. No prelude or premonition. It all happened in an instant.
Too instantly in fact. It felt like a flashbang had gone off right next to him as all went white. The murmurs of fluorescent lights were replaced by countless reverberating voices, as if he was within an auditorium rather than the thin walls of the hospital. The squeaking of his leather shoes was silenced by the clambers of metal, the twangs of taught strings, and dozens of shifting feet.
… this isn’t one of those events where everything turns white for a second, is it? Astronaut’s Eye effect, huh. Those are one in a million chance. Though I’d probably sound like a moron if I told the others that. Or am I being pranked by the staff?
He sighed to himself. It was a weird sounding sigh, however. The kind where he’d be embarrassed and laugh alongside others if they had heard that. But that quickly became arbitrary.
Because the light still hadn’t subsided. He planted himself firmly, wondering what on Earth was going on. What he thought was supposed to be only a flash of light ended up lasting for nearly 10 full seconds.
And so – amid the cacophony – he spoke.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” His voice was different. So staggeringly different that as he recoiled in shock – all his vision suddenly returned.
Pearlescent walls surrounded a group of nearly fifty odd people as far as the eye could see. Pillars of pristine stone rose so far above that he could not see the top no matter how far he reared his head back.
There was one opening not too far away from where they gathered. Markings to what he could only describe as a ‘magical circle’ had people appear over them from seemingly nowhere all around him as others disappeared.
Two things immediately came to mind. This was either an elaborate prank and these were all cosplayers; which was highly unlikely. Or, perhaps even more realistically, he himself had somehow downed some sort of outdated medication and was having an episode.
I did have a few nibbles of a biscuit that old lady offered… No. It’s definitely not because of that.
Reality returned all at once when a figure suddenly stepped in front of him.
“Ah, young miss. You don’t have to talk out loud to get the ‘Blessing of the Nexus’ to work. You only have to think to invoke it.”
A man dressed in a white mantle completely lined with feathers spoke kindly to him, like how a teacher would to a student.
What? Wait. Huh? Young miss?
Confused, the man blankly blinked as he looked up at the man who looked down at him with a patient smile.
“Imagine yourself saying ‘Status’. It should work. From there you’ll be able to get a basic understanding of how the Blessing works.”
Upon merely thinking those words a screen suddenly popped up before his very eyes.
LEVEL : 20 < NIL > NAME : ???
HP : 120 MP : 350 AGI : 10 RESIST : 0 AGE : 22ATT : 5 ATT DEF : 0 (+3) O : 5 D : 0 ORIGIN : Human MAG ATT : 0 MAG DEF : 0 S : 50 E : 25
< PROFESSIONS >
OFFENSIVE DEFENSIVE SUPPORT EXPLORATION
BRAWLER : 5 GREATER HEALER : 50 APPRAISER : 5 COOK : 20
< ACTIVE SKILLS >
(O) Punch [5/10] (S) Greater Healing II [0/10] (S) Cure Disease I [0/10] (S) Prolonged Stasis II [0/10] (E) Home Cook II [0/10] (E) Appraise Object [5/10]
< PASSIVE SKILLS >
(S) Saturated Blood (S) Medical Attention Please! (S) Coordinated (S) Mana Upscale
(E) Dimensional Storage I (0kg/20kg)
< ABILITIES >
NIL NIL NIL
< EQUIPS >
NEX : 500 Waterproof Gown Waterproof Coat (+1 Def) Waterproof Cargo Pants (+1 Def) Boxers Fabric Socks Immaculate Leather Shoes (+1 Def)
“Woah!?” Again with the weirdly pitched voice.
But he could not care less. Not after witnessing what was laid before him.
He staggered backwards, nearly losing his footing in shock as the near translucent screen followed every movement of his vision. Nothing on Earth that he knew of was so translucent yet equally as opaque as the screen in front of him
He could not only read what was written, but also see the features of the tall man behind the text.
Strangely, the pale man seemed a little too tall for some reason. Like he himself had somehow shrunk.
Again, that was the least of his worries.
“H-Hey. This isn’t some kind of hologram? A trick? This is almost like something out of an RPG game.” He said out loud, causing the man’s smile to soften. “Not to mention my name. Wait, I don’t even remember my own name?” He added in a small aside to himself, drawing a hand close to his mouth as confusion drowned him.
“Are Pea Gee? The Blessing of the Nexus resembles nothing in all of Elysia.” His warm smile widened. For a moment he himself felt like a mental patient trying to convince a nurse that he was sane.
Funnily enough, he was actually a nurse himself, hence the clothing he wore which seemed a little… looser than normal. Not loose enough that it was a problem, but just enough to be glaringly noticeable.
In short, he was a registered nurse with around a year of experience, and nearly 4 grueling years of hard work to even land himself in the profession.
“Elysia?” He asked.
“Our grand world.” The pale-dressed man spoke as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, yet at the same time, displayed some level of concern for him.
“Look –” Before he could express his disbelief, the feathered man leaned in close and peered into his eyes. Within the reflection of those vibrant-blue eyes was the face of a woman. When he blinked so did the reflection.
The realization was a slow and steady burn; one that left him unable to think as he looked down upon himself to see…
Hills so to speak.
Not terribly large. They were more like small mounds. Looking closely at his body now, there was not a single fragment of facial hair, let alone any hair virtually wherever his eyes fell.
“Hmm. Memory loss is a rare side effect of the Warped Stone. Ill documented even within the Nexus. What do you remember last if you don’t mind?”
He pondered for a moment and spoke whatever was thrown around in his mind.
“Man, where to start? I was walking down a long hallway on my ward after handover. Was offered a biscuit from an old lady after receiving her post op. Not sure how she snuck those into theatre. Had a sandwich before that. But you know what, I don’t even remember what kind of sandwich it was… oh, sorry. My mind’s a bit muddled up. Hey. Uh…” He trailed off, trying to find a way to ask the sudden question that peeked into his mind.
“Iscario. One of the humble Stars of the Nexus.” The man answered having sensed his question.
“Well, this might sound strange, but what do I look like to you?” He ended up asking bluntly.
“A young woman?”
“… hey. Woman?”
“Are you not?”
It was at that point where it finally clicked with him. Or should he say, her. Only now did she realize what the added length of her black hair, which barely hovered above her shoulders meant, as well as the absurd smoothness of her skin. And not to mention her voice… and… er, her missing ‘sword’.
To claim that she was otherwise felt too problematic. In the first place, would she even have a way to even prove that she was a man just mere moments ago? No. Not only that; but that she had also come from another world?
That was only if this world was no longer Earth.
“I-I guess I am.”
I am, right? This isn’t even funny. If I’m not dreaming, then what the hell is even going on?
She sighed defeatedly, not knowing how to exactly feel about admitting that she was… well, a woman now of all things. Not to mention that she was essentially in a different world from Earth.
She pinched herself, making Iscario hum amusedly in light of her.
“This isn’t Earth, is it?” She needed to clarification again.
“Earth? Is that the name of your town of birth? That is usually the first memory that returns.” He genuinely wondered.
“No, it’s my –” Before she could finish, another voice interjected.
“Hey Iscario. Stars don’t have time to dwell too long on each new person. Unless you’ve found what the Arbiter’s been looking for?” A lethargic, rugged voice spoke.
Following the clap of leather shoes, the young woman came face to face with the final nail that made her believe that this was indeed another world.
The existence of another race.
The man who was dressed before her in a rather bland black suit was no human. The black, wolf-like ears perked through his black hair and the fluffy tail that followed were far too realistic to be cosplay articles. At this point she had already perished the thought of this place being one of conventions anyway.
Shock and awe filled her as she watched them point to each stray sound like the heads of a meerkat. The thought of it being some ultra-realistic robotic article came to mind, but as she peered past him, she saw other ‘humanoid’ races wander into the gaping entrance.
Traditional fantasy Elves with slender waists and curvaceous bodies, alongside their pointed ears. Dwarves of short stature but with splendid beards that normal men could only dream of growing.
Men and women with fur rather than skin, others with scales and some even possessing lower halves of a creature, such as Lamias, Centaurs and, though she saw it only once, a half-woman half-spider person.
She was utterly absorbed by it all.
Iscario’s hand eventually fell onto her head, freeing her from her trance.
The hell is he doing?
She instantly drew away. For some reason that hand felt like a block of ice was laid atop her head; a far cry from what she considered normal. Any touch devoid of warmth was a worry, but this did not seem like it was from some medical condition. A piercing pain then shot through her entire body in that instant.
A-ack! What was that!?
It lasted for only a split second. Like the woes before a heart attack, only amplified by thousandfold. Her breathing staggered momentarily; her eyes left agape as she wondered if something was wrong with her.
“Dearness no, Raoul. This one just reminded me of my younger sister.” Iscario stated. “Hmm. Your eyes tell me you don’t believe me.”
“With black hair? Brown eyes? That’s not suspicious at all. Haaah. Oi. Kid. What’s your name?” He adjusted his tie nonchalantly as a long sigh followed.
She instantly looked up at him and answered before she could even think.
… Did I really just call myself that? Don’t tell me – Status.
< NAME : Frost >
It really did… My name isn’t a bunch of question marks anymore. It’s ‘Frost’ of all things.
“You’re eager all of a sudden. Well, that makes things simpler. Alright, Frost. Did you happen to find the ‘Mark of Judgement’ under your ability list?”
“No. Nothing was there at all.” Frost answered in a slightly pained voice.
The reason why she answered Frost was because her mind was still perplexed by the coldness of Iscario’s hand. As unfortunate as it was – she preferred it far more than being called something like, for example, Alice or Maya. Merely imagining herself being called by a feminine name caused goosebumps to rise all over her body.
At least Frost is a cool name.
“If that’s the case then you should start heading into the Hub. Otherwise; welcome to the Nexus. Don’t make any trouble. The Moons have enough on their hands as is.”
Frost nodded once, understanding nothing at all. Raoul slowly left. In his absence, Iscario pointed to the entrance ahead.
“There lays the Common Hub. Everything you need to know resides here within the lower sanctums of the Nexus.”
“Is there anyone else I can ask for help in there if I get lost?” Frost asked after a brief moment of thought.
“The administration desk is designed to answer to your needs. You’ll find them at the Reception. It should be familiar with you, no? Did your hometown of Earth not have a Repository? A Relay Site? You may have called them the Guild, or an Adventurer’s Guild.”
Huh? What am I supposed to say in response to that?
Her silence answered more than anything she could have said.
“Poor thing. You truly have no idea what lays carved before you? You’re just like her.” He spoke fondly in light of his sibling.
“Your sister, right? She sounds like a handful. Hope I’m not one as well.” She joked. “Well, thank you for setting me straight. Look. To be honest with you, I don’t get what’s going on. But I don’t feel like getting drunk over it either.” Frost spoke as she placed both hands on her hips and smiled. “Take care. And to your sister as well.”
“Of course. She was, after all, the price of my paradise.”
Is that a saying for a loved one in this world? Wait, in the first place, do I have concrete proof that this is a different world? Other than those other races? I need to see the world to believe it… but, well, the writings on the wall already.
At this point I might as well go with it. See where that takes me.
Just as Frost took her first step away – The pale man spoke again.
“Oh, and before you leave – As a Star of the Nexus, our namesake’s role is to provide guidance and information to those that carry the Blessing of the Nexus. Grandis. Head to the lowest level Relay Site in Grandis. You’ll certainly benefit there. The village should be called Virt. It’s a peaceful place.”
“So it’s like a beginner’s town.” Frost promptly said, equating it to starting places in fantasy RPG games and novels. “But I’ll have to see. I don’t feel like dying anytime soon.” She joked again.
She finally parted ways with a single nod.
“You have a humorous way of describing things.” Iscario replied. “It almost pains me.”
He must be talking about his sister again… Ah. I didn’t realize it. It’s his late sister.
Frost was sharp when it came to reading the emotions of others. Though sometimes it was a game of roulette, and for others it was clear-shot bullseye. Having worked in a profession that nurtures not just the body, but emotions as well – a part of her heart broke upon hearing those words from him.
She looked up again into the endless ceiling and took a deep breath. After her long exhale, she set her sights onto the entrance she approached with optimism.
A world different from Earth. You usually hear this in stories or games. In folklore it was called being spirited away. I’m not dead so I’m not some reincarnation either.
Once again, she peered down at her own body and her smile turned wry.
So… what the hell is this body then?
I have so many questions to ask. If this Blessing… no, System would be a better name for it. It looks like a display screen of some game more than anything. It has levels, skills, stats, and everything straight from an RPG game. So if this is anything like a game’s menu, then it’s likely I can get some clarification directly from the System itself. If not, then to the Reception I go.
With a heart wrenching in anticipation of exploring this bizarre world – Frost entered the Common Hub in search for answers.
For both the world and…
… her body.
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