1. Welcome to Vailus!

Virtual reality.

A concept that was met with both enthusiasm and criticism upon its conception. Many were torn between the nearly infinite possibilities of it, or the fear that it might eventually replace reality. Despite these differing opinions it slowly but surely made its way into the people’s daily lives. From its infant stages of a mere headset, to involving the whole body with VR suits, and finally to the point where it is now.

The technology was developed at an unprecedented rate, as in the timespan of a mere ten years it was able to replicate every human sense to near-perfection. This was in large part due to the Dimen company spearheading the effort, bringing together the most brilliant minds of the world in order to create worlds that were virtually real. So what did the Dimen company do then? With the ability to replicate anything humans could conceive, the ability to fulfill any and every desire they had, the ability that was nearly on par with being a god… What did they do with it? 

Obviously, they made a video game.

*****

“Wow. It’s a bit bigger than I remembered.” A young man with messy brown hair stared at the large oval object being moved into his room. Pushing up the round glasses that covered his dark amber eyes, he took a step forward to get a closer look at it. The delivery man moving it took a step back as he let the young man inspect it.

“Only the latest and greatest sir!” The delivery man straightened his pose. “The special virtual reality pod luxury models are larger than the regular models to provide more comfort to the customer, both in game and out. Features such as-”

“Ah, it’s fine. I know all the details about the models, it’s just that this one seems… larger somehow.”

“Is that so?” The delivery man lifted an eyebrow. “You are right though. This one is a bit different due to a last minute change by the company. Let’s see here…” He began to look through a document he opened up on his phone. “Oh wow, apparently it was the company president himself, Mister Adam Eviss that ordered this change. That being said though, if you are unhappy with the product we will provide you with a regular machine instead, free of charge.”

“The old man huh… hmph.” The young man made a wry smile and shook his head. “This is fine. If he changed out the machines like that then he must have a reason. By the way is there anything else I need to know?”

While the delivery man was shocked to know that this young man in front of him had openly scoffed at the respected Adam Eviss, he still put on a business smile and responded in a polite manner. “No sir. All legal matters have already been dealt with, and the pod is absolutely guaranteed to be safe and user friendly. Your sister will have a blast playing in it.”

“Hm? Sister?” The young man frowned. I do have a sister, but how did he know about it?

“Am I mistaken?” The delivery man glanced around the room. There were many stuffed animals all over the place and a slight pink tint filled the room (which was actually because of the sun’s reflection off the red walls). “I saw all the stuffed animals and assumed…”

“This is my room.”

“Oh.”

“…”

“…”

“Alright then. Thanks for your hard work.” The young man stuck out his hand which the delivery man shook. 

“You’re welcome sir. Please enjoy Myriad Myths!” 

After the delivery man left, the brown-haired youth rested a hand on the pod. A mix of emotions flickered in his eyes, and a long sigh escaped from his lips as he closed his eyes in an effort to calm himself down. This didn’t last long, as the solemn look on his face gave way to another one: excitement. “It’s alright. The past is the past. The future is now! Viva la revolution!!!” With that, he jumped into the pod and started it up. A pair of arms extended from the headrest and clamped onto his head, causing his heart to skip a beat, but soon his ears were filled with a low hum and he lost consciousness.

*****

“User confirmed. Name: Simon Aden. Connecting now.” A cold, robotic voice greeted the young man.

“Uh… what?” Simon shook his head as he tried to shake away the fuzzy feeling that remained. After a few seconds he regained his focus and looked toward the source of the voice, the owner of which was something that could only be described as an angel. A woman with long flowing blonde hair and cold blue eyes stared back at him. With a figure that could only be described as perfect, she might as well have been the most beautiful person he’d ever seen. More importantly though… those WINGS! The long silky feathers perfectly overlapping one another creating a wall of ivory softness… The way they slowly ripple, revealing a shimmer akin to the stars of the galaxy… Truly, a feast for the eyes. I wonder if she’d let me touch them?

“Welcome, astralite.” The angel replied, without a care for Simon’s stare.

“Astralite? I don’t think I chose my race yet…”

The angel shook her head. “Astralite is not a race, but rather a specific designation for special individuals.” Her wings fluttered slightly as she continued to explain. “The game Myriad Myths takes place in a world called Vailus, and its inhabitants refer to the players as residents of the astral realm, or Astralites.”

“That’s interesting… Is there a special reason they call us that, or is it because it’s just part of the game’s setting?” 

“When players log in or log out they disappear in a flash of light that vanishes in the sky. This lead the residents to believe they return to some higher realm or – to the stars. Of course, there is more information on this but you must investigate in the game yourself to learn more.”

“Awesome. So… character creation?”

“Yes.” The angel nodded and a large mirror rose from the ground. Simon looked into it and saw his reflection staring back at him. Something to note was that his large glasses which normally hid his eyes were no longer there, and yet he could still see perfectly. Of course. Direct access to the brain means my bad eyesight doesn’t carry over. Ahh, the wonders of technology. His appreciation of virtual reality was further increased as a window with multiple buttons on it appeared in front of him.

“From here on you will be creating your first character. You may either manipulate the window in front of you, or request me to do so. Please note that owning multiple characters is possible, but it is not recommended.”

“Why’s that?” Simon’s interest was piqued. It was completely standard fare to own multiple characters on a single account in MMOs of the past, but this was the first time he had ever heard a game discouraging players to create different characters. 

“The creators intended for this game to be played with a single character that constantly grows with both the player and the world as time goes on. Since it is a brand new platform of virtual reality, switching between characters and their different bodies and skills may cause discomfort to the player. Furthermore, only one character can be played at a time for a single player so the amount of time and effort invested in the game doubles, triples, and so on depending on how many characters a single player has.”

“Makes sense.” Simon nodded, “So what are we starting with first?”

“Please select your gender and race of choice.” 

A window with a list of races then appeared in front of Simon. With just a casual glance he already counted over thirty races to choose from. Wow, the game developers were really going all out on this huh? The surprised look on his face was replaced by a contemplative one as he began to compare the races. “Can I narrow this list down a bit? Like, are there any different stats or bonuses to the races?”

“Yes. Depending on the race they may get a slight increase in stats, a special skill, or even start in unique areas. If you have any specifications then you may tell me and I will narrow down the list for you.”

“Alright… first of all the race absolutely needs to be able to use magic,” Simon shuddered at the thought of being unable to use magic in a fantasy land. After he spoke a few races on the list disappeared. “They also shouldn’t have any extreme or obvious weaknesses,” A few more disappeared, “and most importantly, they need to be super soft.”

“Super soft?” The angel seemed confused (though it was hard to tell with her emotionless eyes). “Please elaborate.”

“Um… for example fur or your wings. Which, by the way, may I-” Just as Simon began making a request he was interrupted by the angel.

“Understood. There is only one race that fits your specifications.”

“Wait, only one? Really?” 

“Yes. The angel race is capable of using magic and has ‘soft parts’, but they are weak to both arrows and dark magic. The fangwols are capable of having soft fur but lack magic capability. Other races were eliminated for similar reasons.”

“Okay then. Which race is left?” 

“The wildlings.” The angel extended an arm to the mirror and Simon watched as his mirror image disappeared and was replaced with two people -male and female- who had animal ears on top of their heads and long tails hanging down from their butt. “They are a common race seen throughout Vailus and fit into almost any culture they find themselves in. They can have high physical or magical capabilities depending on their subrace.”

“Subrace? As in each animal known to mankind is a subrace of its own?” The new list that appeared beside Simon listed more than 20 different options. 

“No. Only the mammals, and a few specific ones at that.” 

“Alright! This is right up my alley,” Simon grinned and rubbed his hands together. “Are there any subraces with high magical aptitude?”

Instead of answering the angel simply made a gesture and the list changed to show only a few choices. Though he took a while, Simon eventually made his decision to play as… “The vulpynes.” This subrace was based off a fox and had higher magical aptitude and dexterity than the other subraces. They also came with a skill called [Beast Within] which temporarily raises their stats. 

“Understood. Please select your gender.”

“Hmm…” Simon pouted his lips as he began to contemplate. 

This is a bit of a dilemma. I’d rather choose the female, mainly because I think fox ears suit them better. I suppose it’d work with a male as well, but that’s not exactly my thing. I mean, there’s the whole thing about a guy playing a girl in a video game but… eh. Screw it. It’s not like anyone will know that I’m playing as a girl, and my friends know me well enough that they’d just laugh off the fact that I’m ‘gender bending’ like this. Yeah. That was simpler than I thought. 

With resolution in his eyes, he pressed the female option. The male disappeared from the mirror and Simon was left with an incredible myriad of options on the window in front of him. He cracked his fingers and prepared himself for an incredibly long round of customization. 

*****

Well over an hour later Simon ended up staring at a young girl with a short height that barely reached up to his chest. Her face and body were very child-like and she looked no older than a 12 year old. The fox ears were elongated in a tall triangular shape, while the tail became extremely bushy and was pushed to ‘maximum softness’ after his insistence. The most noticeable features on her was the long fiery red hair that gave off an illusion of a flickering flame when it moved, and the bright round eyes with a golden tint. 

“Maybe I overdid it…” Simon muttered to himself as he looked over his character. Admittedly some of my personal taste was mixed in, but once I started on a theme it got out of hand. Eh, I suppose it’s fine as long as she looks cute.

“Are you satisfied with your character?” The angel spoke up, bringing Simon out of his thoughts.

“Yeah. Is there anything else I need to do?” 

The angel responded by holding out something resembling a sticker in the shape of a star. “This star is to be placed somewhere on your character due to game lore and gameplay reasons. Lore-wise all astralites have a symbol on their body -typically a star- which allows the residents to recognize them as an astralite. Game-wise if a player sees it then they will be able to see both your name and title above your head. Players can cover their symbols or place them in a hard to see place to hide their identities,allowing for enhanced roleplaying. Additionally if a player commits a crime such as murder, their symbol will glow red and shine through all equipment and magic which allows anyone to identify them at anytime.”

“I like that quite a bit,” A grin formed on Simon’s face, “but you said ‘symbol’. Does that mean that it doesn’t have to be a star, or can we change what it looks like in the future?”

“Every player starts out with a star symbol which you can customize here. Depending on your actions later on in the game the symbol can change as well. Would you like to customize your star?”

“Heck yeah! We can place it anywhere right? Can I put it in my eyes? Oh wait, can I have more than one? Like one for both eye I mean.” The angel simply nodded so Simon went about customizing the star. The design he came up with in the end was a six-pointed star made up of triangles overlapping each other. The stars were also faded to the point that you’d have to stare directly into his characters eyes to see them properly, but apparently that was alright since simply making eye contact with a symbol (regardless of whether you can make it out or not) is enough to show the player’s identification. 

“Okay, now I’m done with character creation right?” Simon was itching to start playing the game.

“No. You have yet to set a name.”

A name!? Damn. Simon grimaced as he put a hand to his chin. As anyone who has agonized for hours while creating characters would know, coming up with a name is one of the worst things to deal with. What should I name this girl? Let’s see… with the image of purity and innocence she seems to practically ooze out ‘cute’. Cute huh? Cute… cute… cu… That’s it! His head jerked up as he came up with his answer. “I’m going to name her… Q!”

The angel seemed to be contemplating something for a while until she finally nodded. “Your name has been accepted. Now you will be sent into a tutorial level. It is a randomly generated area where you can learn the basics of the world, game system, and combat. You may also level up and receive rewards which you can carry with you into the game.”

“Sounds good to me. The adventures of Q the vulpyne starts here!” Simon pumped his fist into the air. His body began to dissipate into white particles which eventually vanished in the air, and when he opened his eyes he found himself in the game.




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