Welcome back to the world of Virtual Legend! Whoo! New game, sort of the same concept! Enjoy!
I glanced around, and recognized my location. The Luscious Fields from Online Legends. No… I can't be here… I stepped back, horrified.
I was wearing my Online Legends attire: a black sweatshirt with tan pants while a belt of knives hung at my waist.
I tripped backwards, and fell into a deep darkness. I screamed, but no sound came from my voice. I fell for what seemed like an eternity, and landed on cold hard ground. It hurt. I cringed at the throbbing sensation.
Then I saw Xero standing over me with a cold look in his green eyes. His silver armor nearly blinded me with unknown light.
"Why…?" I asked him, unable to move.
He raised his silver-blue sword, and brought it down on me.
I jolted awake, panting heavily. I frantically looked around, searching for Xero. Wait, where's my HP bar!? My panic rose higher, but then I remembered.
I was in the real world. I was home. A smile crept onto my face, and it became a laugh. The laugh increased in volume, and I began shedding tears of joy.
"It's all real…" I whispered happily. "I'm alive… in the real world…"
I got out of my bed, and opened the door. I smiled at the dark gray hallway that greeted me. So beautiful… I slowly walked down it, taking in every moment I was there. I checked the clock. No, that couldn't be the time. I rubbed my eyes, and squinted at the numbers displayed.
I had been asleep for over half a day. I was a bit shocked, but didn't really care. It was Sunday, after all. I went down to the kitchen, and saw my family there. More specifically, I saw my sisters there, Harumi and Serah.
Serah was my stepsister, who had bright chocolate brown eyes and brown hair that reached to the end of her shoulders. She was dressed in a long gray skirt with a blue top.
Harumi was my biological sister and a survivor of OL. She had long black hair and blue eyes that had this odd glow to them, though it was just me. She was wearing black short shorts and a black jacket. I raised an eyebrow at their choice of clothing.
"You do realize it's the middle of winter, right?" I said.
Serah grinned. "It's warm in here, and I don't have school."
"Force of habit…" Harumi muttered.
"I see… Well, I'm goin out," I replied, heading back to my room.
"Where're you going, Karuno?" Serah asked.
Silence hung in the air. Harumi trembled slightly. Not a day passed by that I didn't remember Online Legends. Not one day.
I dressed in a black winter jacket with white fur outlines and dark black pants. I had tried avoiding this style, but it was all I had left.
I wrapped a scarlet scarf around my neck, and began heading out the door. I passed Harumi, and then something strange happened. I saw a fly buzz by, and it headed straight for her. Like lightning, I reached out and caught it with my fingers.
Harumi looked stunned. "Nii-san…!"
"I'm as surprised as you are," I said breathlessly, staring at the struggling fly trapped in my fingers' firm yet delicate grip.
I let the fly go, and it buzzed off into the room. I looked at my right arm, where I had supposedly been "injected." But what was injected was beyond me.
And why me, of all people?
I made my way to the graveyard, where approximately 10,000 people lay. 10,000 people who were all part of the Online Legends incident. Virus killed all of these people, and for what? For pleasure? To play god? What?
I stood in front of three particular graves. Celine's, Kyle's, and Rin's. They all were in the same row, as well as next to one another. I trembled, partly because of the cold and partly because of my remorse.
I exhaled through my mouth, watching my breath evaporate into the air.
"I'm sorry…" I whispered, fighting the tears. "I'm so sorry…"
"They died fighting," I heard a familiar voice say.
I turned around, and it was Derek. Back in OL, he was the commander of a famous guild known as the Divine Knights. He seemed rather well at first glance.
He looked the same as he did in OL, with a few differences: middle aged, tousled brown hair, lighter brown eyes, and black rimmed glasses. He was wearing a thick dark green fur jacket, blue jeans, and a light blue scarf. He smiled at me.
"It's been a while, Keaton," he said.
"It's Karuno in this world. What's your real name?" I asked him.
"Oh, my real name? It's Itsuki."
I hid a small laugh, remembering images of the anime. Derek—or rather, Itsuki—grew serious.
"I'm glad you're here, Karuno-kun," he said. "I wanted talk to you."
"What is it?" I asked, recognizing his deeply focused expression.
"I'm the co-CEO of the company VIRTUE, and there're some problems going on in the game we've recently released."
"What… kind of game?"
"You should know that VIRTUE and the OL company Reality were competing in terms of who could make the best VRRPG. We were planning to release our game sooner, but OL came out first. I logged in to find flaws inside the game, and that's how I was trapped.
"Now that OL and Reality are completely out of the picture, we're the only VR game people play. However—" Itsuki paused.
I gasped, placing my hands on my mouth. "No…"
"We've found some of our player staff dead," Itsuki said slowly, trying to control his breathing.
I wasn't so lucky. I fell on my butt to the ground, wheezing while my breath struggled to enter and exit my lungs. I began to sweat, remembering all of the terror I had endured. Itsuki helped me out, and I gripped his clothing tightly.
"Y'mean… Virus…" I could barely talk, let alone stand as I clinged to Itsuki for support.
"That's not all. I managed to capture a screenshot from in the game," he said, pulling it out. "I think you'll like what you see."
He handed me the photo, and I took it with trembling hands. I looked at it, and all of a sudden, I was colder than the outside temperature.
The picture was of Xero in his silver armor. My gripped tightened, and the picture seemed to crumple under the amount of force I gave it. I growled lowly.
"Xero…" I said lowly. "I'll kill him…"
Itsuki managed to pull the photo out of my grip. "So, will you do me a favor?"
"What?" I hissed.
"I want you to find Xero, and kill him. That way, we can at least score a victory against Virus and his group."
I didn't realize it, but a smile etched itself on my face. I would kill that bastard. He would pay for betraying me.
Xero, back in OL, was a great Knight. He fought alongside me for the last six dungeons, and I saw him as an ally. But then, on the last dungeon, he sided with Virus, and logged everyone out. He was now plotting to kill more people, and achieve something with Virus and his Master.
But I don't care who or what they were doing. What mattered was that both he, Virus, and that Master died. I looked at Itsuki with a determined look on my face.
"What's this game called?" I asked.
"It's called 'The Phantom's Blade'," Itsuki said. "Are you sure you want to do this? Death rules over this game now."
"Who cares? I survived a death once, I can do it again."
Itsuki pulled out a cartridge. "Do you have your VR console with you right now?"
I felt my pockets, and found that I did. When did I put it in there? I pulled it out; a gray NES looking cartridge with a black center screen. I powered it on, and the familiar blue screen popped up. Itsuki pressed a few buttons on his, and I received a file, labeled " ." I opened it, and it revealed a new game, titled "The Phantom's Blade."
I gripped my console tightly. "And you're sure that it was Virus?"
"Who else would mindlessly hack a game where people die in real life?" Itsuki replied matter-of-factly.
I smirked, almost nostalgically. "You coming with?"
"Damn right I am."
I looked back at the graves. "I'll avenge you."
Their deaths will not have been in vain. Virus and Xero would get their punishments. So would that Master…
I'll kill them all.
"Nii-san, you're doing WHAT!?" Harumi and Serah exclaimed at the same time.
"I'm going back in," I declared. "Back into a game of death."
"But why?!" Serah cried out. "You've just come back!"
I glanced at Harumi. She had a pleading look in her eyes, begging me not to go. I sighed.
"I'm sorry, Harumi…" I said. "But I have to do this."
"Then I'm coming with you," she said, standing.
"No! Anything but that!" I said suddenly.
She went silent. "Why not?"
"Virus told me that you were a Vessel for his Master. Something tells me things'll only get worse if you come with me," I said.
"Then I'll go," Serah said.
"Wha—!" I yelled. "Serah, this isn't some MMO—"
"What's the game?" Serah asked.
"The Phantom's Blade…" I said.
"Whaddya mean, 'perfect'!?"
"You guys don't know it, but I've been playing PB since its release date. I know all of the rules."
"And you haven't died once!?" Harumi yelled in shock.
"I'm still standing, aren't I?" she replied, a dark shadow crossing her face.
In an instant, the bubbly, cheery stepsister I'd always known disappeared, replaced with a person who reminded me of Kyou when I first met her. Serah took out her VR console.
"I'll log in at 18:00," she said. "I can teach you the basics. But since you've played that other game, you should be fine. Your stats should transfer over as well, though not as strongly."
"Serah, you don't have to do this," I said, but I felt comforted that someone was going with me.
"Yes, I do. I'm protecting you in place of Harumi," Serah replied. "She's your and my Nee-san, so we should come back to her unharmed, okay?"
It was 17:59. I had attached the Nerve Links to my neck, with PB selected and ready to launch. The console shook in my grip, and was soon slippery with sweat. I shook out of it.
Xero was on the other side. He was there, killing people. Real, live people. I growled, and the clock hit 18:00.
I pressed "Launch!" and was transported to the world of The Phantom's Blade.