Chapter 01 – THE WORLD OF YGGDRASIA
Author’s Note: Here’s my new series, and it begins with a VRMMORPG setting.
The starting arc is a bit dark, but the MC will be slowly getting stronger. Become the bunny girl you were meant to be, protagonist!
She’s 11 years old yet quite worldly in some aspects, so she doesn’t really act her age.
Well then, until she gets her vengeance, let us all watch over the journey of “The White Girl”.
“Yggdrasia welcomes you!”
Virtual reality (VR), as known to the public, began its first steps with a purely visual-and-aural-only system. In time, VR soon managed to replicate all sensations, and full-dive systems became the norm. The technology quickly made itself indispensable in a multitude of industries.
Some years later, the Avatar System was born: a technology that made use of Avatar bodies – crafted from electronics, special proteins and enzymes – to allow one to do dangerous work or journey the world from the comfort of their own homes through virtual reality.
And of course, it was also the heyday for VR games. Worlds of dreams and fantasy were realized upon servers, only limited by the human imagination. People waited with bated breath for the next invention, the next leap forward.
That was when a conglomerate, hailing from a certain first-world country, joined the VRMMO scene. They began recruiting beta testers for their MMORPG from all over the planet.
Created by a corporation famed for their work in the medical and defense industry and sponsored by the government, the game instantly became famous worldwide. Three millions people applied, fighting over the ten thousand slots allowed for the beta test. So grand, so fascinating was the newly-revealed world, that people wondered if this wasn’t actually interdimensional travel instead.
Applicants were chosen based on their age, sex, character, employment, education, health, criminal history, and other factors. And for the lucky ten thousand, what awaited them was the world they’ve been salivating over: Yggdrasia. A land centered around the towering World Tree, and ninety-nine of its saplings supported the continents with a combined size equivalent to Earth.
A tuxedo-clad stuffed dog appeared. The tester needed a guide to Yggdrasia, so the AI created one. The tester showed no reaction, and the guide kept quiet in return, until it found the right words, selected out of the millions of possible answers it has been programmed with.
“My, my. Young lady, you’re quite the adorable rabbit, aren’t you?”
She said nothing.
When the Avatar System was established, the biggest problem it encountered was the disconnect between the human controller’s perception and the avatar’s.
To put it simply, the disorder was caused by the differences between the human controller’s sex, physique, bone structure, height of field of view, length of limbs, or other such major characteristics and the avatar’s own. Subtle differences in facial details and hair colors, however, weren’t a problem. Even if their avatars did have major differences, no symptoms would show as long as the users keep their operation time short. It was constant, long-term avatar use that was the trigger, and in some cases, the user would start experiencing symptoms of mental rejections.
Once symptoms showed, as long as users rested for a few days without using VR, they would experience no lasting effects. But if they continued for several days, their psyches would begin to destabilize, with some users reporting nausea and anxiety.
The first solution to this problem was to lower the avatar’s sensitivity, but the decision was reversed after the deluge of complaints coming from users who had been spoiled by the realism. The simplest solution, as decided upon by the VR industry and the medical association, was just to warn users to “use an avatar as similar to yourself as possible”.
This decision prompted the VR device makers to began incorporating full-body scanners into their product as the standard, and most VR services strongly recommended their customers to copy their appearance to use as their avatars.
Of course, the game industry was no exception. Players were allowed some leeway through changing their age setting, but in most cases, their avatars were almost carbon copies of their real bodies.
Thus, our tester, as appeared in the AI guide’s room for her initial game settings, looked the same as her scanned body in real life. If there was a real human supervising this process, they would have immediately intervene when they heard the AI call the tester “an adorable rabbit”.
According to the AI’s preliminary information, the girl in front of it was a Japanese emigrant, 11 years old. Suffered from a congenital absence of pigmentation – an albino.
She was quite a bit smaller than the average for her age. She wore a simple white dress reminiscent of hospital gowns. Her arms and legs, peeking out from the dress, were barely better than twigs. On a closer look, you could see what seemed to be bruises dotting her white skin.
True, she could be considered cute, and true, her slightly scruffy white hair and scarlet eyes set into a permanent glare did make her look like a rabbit, but if an actual human with real emotions was to see her, they wouldn’t call her “cute”. They’d say she looked “pitiful”.
The albino stayed silent, showing no signs she heard the AI. After the required time had elapsed for the program, the stuffed dog changed its pose and began the next explanation.
“Well then, miss. Allow me to explain about the world of Yggdrasia!”
At the center of Yggdrasia was a giant, towering World Tree, and from it spawned ninety-nine Saplings to bless the lands. They attracted the race of Humans, and around the Saplings, thirty-three major and sixty-six minor countries formed out of the myriads of villages, towns, cities, and metropolitans. Population of major countries started from a few millions to tens of millions citizens, or for minor countries, hundreds of thousands to a few millions.
The Humans’ civilization looked like a mix of real-life medieval and early modern age history – if we ignored the existence of Magical Tools. Much like electrical appliances, these devices utilized Mana to serve the same purposes, and they were affordable enough even for most commoners. In larger cities, people could live, if not like a king, then at least quite comfortably.
Even carriages, trains, and ships used magical engines. Despite the world being Earth-sized, transportation and travelling were relatively simple.
Yggdrasia was filled with the power of magic, or to be more precise, Mana. Most combat centered around the use of melee weapons, magic, or rarely, single-shot magically-powered muskets.
All players were Humans, but Human was not the only race. There were also Elves, Dwarves, Beastmen, Dragonkins, and many other races of Demihuman. They lived in settlements and colonies deep inside forests and mountains, far away from Human countries. Next, there were Goblinoids and Monster races such as Goblins, Orcs, Ogres and more, who opposed all Humankind.
To raise the stakes, the game featured a death penalty: lowered magic power, 10% decrease in stats, and dropping inventory items. In case the player had not set a respawn point, they would revive at a random location near their former death. If the player died again without raising their stats back, their character will be deleted.
Pain was simulated, but only by 10%. Players would still feel the shock of being hit even if they lowered their pain setting to the minimum.
Criminal activities would be punished following the laws of the local country, with jail time as one of the possible punishments. Players could fight each other, but if they were caught by law enforcement (in case it was murder and not a consensual duel) and received a long enough sentence, their accounts would be deleted.
Playing as a criminal was allowed, but if you got on the wanted list, your activities would be severely restricted.
Speed of time in-game was practically the same as real time. Considering the size of the world itself, each area of the game had its own time zone.
“Did you get all of that? Well then, miss, to our next business. Normally, this is where beta testers start creating their characters, but since you are one of the secret alpha testers, you will be choosing your race. As per your contract, once the testing period ends, you will be required to maintain confidentiality and your living expenses for the next ten years will be fully covered.” The guide AI finished its speech.
The white girl nodded just a fraction.
Secret alpha testers. One hundred orphans, gathered in secret to serve as test subjects.
Publicly, this experiment’s purpose was to “gather data in order to implement PvP between human players and monster players”. Purportedly, it examined the psyche of a user when they used an entirely non-human body, as well as the mental and physical stress of constant long-term VR use with the user’s body put into cold sleep. But there were another secret reason for this experiment.
Alpha testers were given non-human avatars with the sensitivity set as high as the technology could allow, and forced to stay logged-in for half a year.
“Your choices for races are as follows: ‘Goblinoids’ – examples of this type would be Goblins and Kobolds. Other than that, you can choose between ‘Beast-type’, ‘Dragon-type’, ‘Plant-type’, but I would recommend...”
“...demon...” The white girl spoke for the first time.
“Excuse me?” the AI’s speech protocol started up a new dialogue, “I see. You would pick the Demon race, then? I do not recommend using a spiritual-body type of avatar, but if that is your choice... Well then, please go to the door over there. We will also begin installing the world’s common language pack on the way, so please stay calm.”
As the girl gave a slight nod and walked, the AI executed its final programmed action.
“Then I shall wish you a wonderful life in Yggdrasia! Oh, I almost forgot one last thing! Please tell me your name!” it called after the still-nameless girl, but she kept walking.
“...don’t need one,” she muttered.
Her final steps put her on a road of light leading into the world of the new VRMMORPG, Yggdrasia.
Author’s Note: The next chapter will be the start of the white girl’s life of surviving as a monster. It’s going to be written in first-person, for the most part. She didn’t say much in this chapter, but rest assured, she said a lot of things in her head :D.
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