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Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu Original Source: Syosetu Word Count: 6387 characters
Translator: Nomad English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 3061 words
Editor(s): Fire

【VR】 Virtual reality, it had been half a century since it was developed. Now it has become an indispensable technology for the world economy.

School could be attended from home virtually by using the internet on a personal computer. Without the danger of going to and from school, and with the cost of maintaining the school buildings, schools in real life were replaced by their VR counterparts.

In addition, businesses used virtual reality in order to greet customers. Also, since documents were replaced by electronic programs, there were no longer any costs. It was also better to rent a server for the company because the cost to maintain a server was overwhelmingly cheaper to maintain than a building for a headquarters.

With the exception of physical needs, virtual reality technology could satisfy everything. As a result of this, virtual reality continued to evolve rapidly.

Certainly, there was no reason for the game industry to not keep an eye on this technology. Although fairly expensive equipment was still needed, it was becoming pretty widespread, so much that it was often given as a present on a person’s coming of age celebration in most households.

As time passed, multiple exclusive VR games were released.

Sakimori Kagami was one such youth to be presented with VR equipment on his coming of age celebration.

He enrolled in a normal high school, graduated from a normal university, and worked in a normal company.

He worked from home using the VR equipment he received on his coming of age celebration. During his break, he ate food prepared by his mother and returned to work right after.

There was no commuting time to deal with and overtime was practically nonexistent in small businesses. He spent every day without any particular complaints.

There was an online game called 『Ark Earth Online』.
The start of the game was very quiet and the closed beta had finished before anyone had noticed.
Sakimori Kagami became aware of such a hidden online game after he had grown familiar with the workload and had time to spare. It was from a commercial aired at midnight.

The commercial had no sound or movement, with only an access code for VR that had been projected for fifteen seconds.

He had started the equipment out of curiosity, and a title named 『Ark Earth Online』 floating in white appeared. There were only two lines after it.

Open Beta start

Those were the only letters.
He did not dislike that attitude of no flattery. While thinking this, he selected the 『Yes』 in order to start the download.

There was no texture for the background either, just a general character font. He did not know what sort of game this may be.

As though Kagami was attracted, he moved his right hand a short distance to play. If he was pushed to say exactly what it was, he would say that an invisible force had compelled him to move that short distance to play.
The installation was completed in 15 minutes. When he immediately launched the game, the background of the home screen appeared with CG comparable to that of the real world.

Excited at that turn of events, Kagami proceeded to create his avatar.

Thus, Sakimori Kagami began his everyday addiction to 『Ark Earth Online』.

『Ark Earth Online』, it has been four years since its official release. Advertising related to the game, even in game magazines and the Internet were practically non-existent. However, posts on the Internet had spread the news of the game. So, the game had quite a few players, close to that of leading online games. It was even weird that it would get that many players considering its lack of internet presence.

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Kagami who had started playing from open beta was famous and regarded as a veteran player.

The content of the game was a standard fantasy setting. However, there was an overwhelming amount of freedom and it received a great deal of popularity.

There was only one mysterious point for the online game.

Its management.

The game was only updated two times during the four years it has been in operation. The developer’s identity was not known and there was no official homepage regarding its policies.

However, the game had an overwhelming charm to it. Various players were in agreement that it might be better that the developers took a hands-off approach.

Nevertheless, Kagami was one of the people who had an optimistic view of it. It had appeared to be almost completed from the moment when he started playing. It was not an exaggeration to say that bugs were nonexistent in this game. Rather, it had been a good decision that unskilled people did not tamper with the game.

That day, Kagami was to subjugate a crowd of monsters that had appeared near the border of the country he had belonged to. Such a subjugation mission was a common thing, the country had a turn system where Kagami and other players take their turns.

This time, it was Kagami’s turn.

Using a tower as a base, he lazily left for the national border. In the real world, a ringing sound from a call could be heard. At the same time, his little sister’s high-pitched voice could also be heard. In fact, this sound was to inform him that it was time for dinner.

After logging off temporarily to eat dinner, he once again places the VR equipment on his head and dives into virtual reality again.
After trying to start the game from the home screen, he noticed that there was an incoming mail.

He opened the mail and examined its contents. The VR money he had bought for Ark Earth Online was about to expire.
When he began the game, he had purchased 1,000 yen and incidentally one month after that, he had bought an additional 2,000 yen.

Ark Earth Online, just like other online games had microtransactions. Although it is like that, there weren’t any items nor armor that can be used in-game. There are, however, support items that one can obsess over.

One such item was 『Vanity Case』that could be used to change the appearance of one’s avatar. It was not an exaggeration to say that every player bought this item. Naturally, Kagami had also bought this.

One 『Vanity Case』 costs 500 yen, yet it was only something you use to reset the appearance of an avatar. The reason for the popularity of this item was because of the abundance of options to choose from.

At the beginning of the game, there were thousands of choices to choose from officially, but using a 『Vanity Case』 to reset gave you tens of thousands of choices to choose from. All players now log in with a shoddy avatar and use a 『Vanity Case』 to reset their appearance. It was to the extent that it was now common sense to do so.

The avatar which Kagami had made was the figure of a magician who exuded dignity. He had white hair with a white beard that had a close resemblance to an experienced magician. Obsessed, Kagami spent no less than one day creating it in the guise of that figure.

And the name of the avatar, the first name turned out to be the same as a much-loved headmaster magician appearing in a world-famous movie; an adventure starring a magician returning a ring.

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The name was Danbulf.
The class was a summoner.
He had chosen to be a magician as soon as he joined the open beta, but he had no clue on how to learn new magic skills, so he only used 【Magic: Flame】, the spell he started with, and other than that he just used his cane to attack.

Despite leveling up, he didn’t learn any new magic skills automatically. In addition to that, there were no instructions or tutorials that instruct and help the players.

In the game, he was just suddenly spawned in the world and that was it, but exploring everything by himself was fun too. However long he searched for a method to learn magic skills, in the end, he was unable to do so.

Because of that, he had reset to choose a different magic class at the start of the official release of the game.

Expert Summoning Arts become available once you enslave the soul of a defeated enemy with a contract. Summoning Arts became possible after completing a class-exclusive quest. The difficulty of the class-exclusive quest was high, but Kagami was able to comprehend it from the method that was posted on a bulletin board.

Because of that, he became a summoner.

When the game officially released, there were a lot of complaints regarding the lack of description. However, a player by chance shook the game by becoming an emperor.

That is, a player can establish a nation if the conditions are met.

Become a king, develop a town, and raise an army. Besides that, invade foreign lands, construct forts for defense, hire mercenaries and other similar things. Players were excited by the fact that they could create their own stories with their own hands.
In addition, major events caused by players will be added to the arc chronology that can be browsed from the menu.

After this happened, people were able to enjoy a variety of playstyles. There were those who burned with ambition to establish a nation, those that longed for government positions, those who loved freedom and adventure, those who created secret societies, and those who became merchants and assassins. Because of this, complaints gradually subsided.

Furthermore, the freedom in the game wasn’t limited to that degree alone. For example, there were many kinds of items such as weapons, armor, and medicine that even included the legendary class. But on top of that, it was also possible to create totally new items depending on the creativity of the player. They were even able to create things beyond the legendary level.

You could say that you could do anything in game that you could also do in reality.

For some players that were totally addicted to playing the role of a blacksmith, they will be known under the name of a skillful craftsman by the players. For example, one sword had been traded for millions.

For those who choose to do carpentry, some players developed building technology and some had even built castles as well.

The players who were obsessed with digging undiscovered hot springs, and are now managers of hot-spring resorts.

A friend of Kagami’s thought of teaching fencing and opened up a dojo in order to teach.

What kind of skills are possible? What kind of things are possible? Players challenged a variety of things, anyone could become successful. People said that there were no limits to the system in sight.

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People were able to invent new sports, people were able to realize their romantic dreams of pirates, there were people who collected information single-handedly, and there were even those who sold information while walking on a tightrope of danger.

Also, there was a person who created lists of skills that were divided by class. They visited players who created original skills and summarized it in a book for those who wished to learn the details of the skills.
The book was published as a skill list book, and it became a huge bestseller. He amassed a great amount of wealth.

As a matter of fact, Danbulf is a great man who developed some special skills as well. One is a skill that he made from trial and error to make up for the weaknesses of a magic class.

What was the skill? It was a second class. Kagami’s main class was a Summoner, in addition to that, he had another magician class that was called the Sage. This was a class that specialized in close-quarters combat. In order to acquire the class, various training methods were used.

From being struck by a waterfall, hanging upside down from trees for a day, walking against a storm, and various other things.

By the way, one month since the game was released, someone was able to find a way to acquire magic skills. A magic catalyst was paired up with a piece of magic paper with a magic circle drawn on it. Then, magic experts had to use 【Magic: Flame】 to burn it. The problem was that many catalysts were needed and the paper itself hardly appears.

It was eventually found in the end, though It was not simple to learn after all.

In addition to the vanity case, another microtransaction that Kagami had purchased was a 『Floating Continent』. It was the size of a schoolyard with a track that stretched to be about a hundred meters for one lap. He built a house, cultivated a field and made a manufacturing facility. It was a convenient item that can be used for most things. Because it was possible to travel by flying through the sky, it was used as a vehicle that ignored the geography of the land. Kagami built a cheap residence and used it as a warehouse.

This 『Floating Continent』 costs 2,000 yen. This meant that he had 500 yen remaining which was about to expire. Kagami only had thought of buying a 『Vanity Case』 and a 『Floating Continent』 from the beginning but because money could only be bought for every 1,000 yen, the remainder was 500 yen.

As expected, due to the fact that it was 500 yen from four years ago, there was not a great deal of regret for Kagami. Kagami nevertheless had a tendency to be frugal and felt that it would be wasteful so he opened the microtransaction list.

Exclusive room that could be used as a convenient tool that costs 1,000 yen:
『Advanced Smithy』, 『Advanced Alchemy Room』, 『Advanced Sewing Room』, 『Advanced Craftsman Room』, 『Advanced Kitchen』, 『Advanced Woodworking Room』.

Terrain building features, etc. went for 2,000 yen.
『Floating Continent』, 『Golem Fort』, 『Swan Lake』, 『House of Brick』, 『House with Butler』, 『House with Maid』, 『Old Castle』, 『Noble Mansion A』, 『Noble Mansion B』, 『Spiral Tower』, 『Rich Field』.

The only other thing in this line up was 『Vanity Case』.

There was no other choice than the 『Vanity Case』. You must charge a minimum of 1,000 yen. This is the world of adults. The adult world is dirty.

Kagami felt that it was wasteful to just let the money expire so he purchased a 『Vanity Case』. His VR money balance became 0.

In order to accomplish his subjugation mission, Kagami logged in. He opened the item column by operating his bracelet type terminal and it contained the 『Vanity Case』 that he had purchased earlier.

Incidentally, this bracelet type terminal was one of the first additional items that were included in the two updates of the game.

Up until then, menu manipulation was done with keys that floated in mid-air. Suddenly raising a hand in town or during combat and moving your fingers through the air on a menu invisible to everyone looked really off-putting, and many players wished it could be changed as it ruined the immersion, so it was updated to the current interface.

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『Vanity Case』, it had been four years since he had last used one. It was a small box that had the appearance of a lacquered casket. Kagami stared at the small box as he recalled those days in nostalgia. At the start of the open beta, it was not possible to create an avatar that matched his tastes. It was already a distant memory, the memory of a brown-haired young man with a bland appearance who overcame open beta.

You can choose from nearly ten times the amount of options as compared to the start of the game by using the microtransaction 『Vanity Case』. The moment he saw the comments on that, he hastily bought the 『Vanity Case』.

Kagami immediately used the 『Vanity Case』 and exclaimed with joy in virtual reality. This was because he was able to use all the components he wanted. He produced the best avatar by paying particular attention to detail.

And thus he created 『Danbulf』.

Kagami at that time, had only been able to think of creating the best avatar he could create in his head. He could not remember now what other features there were.
With a little interest, Kagami used the 『Vanity Case』 to open the avatar creation screen.

As for the components, it was possible to narrow down the search by searching for impression categories such as 『Lively』, 『Reserved』, 『Confident』, 『Timid』, and other various impression categories such as 『Mysterious』, 『Solemnity』, 『Melancholy』, 『Cheerful』, and the like. As expected, if one were to go down one by one, it would take you all day.

While Kagami was looking at the parts list, he felt the renewed conviction that 『Danbulf』 was still the best after all.

There was probably no one that could exceed this avatar. After all, he created his ideal male image.
While Kagami was gazing at his former achievement of manliness in great satisfaction, he noticed one character displayed on the menu.

  • Male

It was a character that showed the avatar’s gender.
Then suddenly a thought appeared in his mind. He was able to perfectly reproduce his ideal male image.

Then, how about his ideal image of a woman?

When he changed the sex from a man to a woman, 『Danbulf』 changed to a young girl.
A small feeling of embarrassment was felt. Although it was just a game, he stared fixedly at his female appearance and was unable to say he was not ashamed.

With an effort to contain his slight feeling of shame or rather excitement, he chose parts one by one.
One by one he examined the parts sorted in 『Confident』. At this point, Kagami’s preference was greatly revealed.

How much time has passed since he had begun creating his ideal female image? When Kagami stared at the avatar which he had just finished satisfactorily, a call from his younger sister alerted him to breakfast.

When he operated the bracelet terminal menu to confirm the time, it showed that it was 9 o’clock in the morning. Thinking that there was no problem because it was Sunday today, Kagami immediately afterward was attacked by an intense feeling of sleepiness.

When he tried to touch the menu for the purpose of logging out, the world blacked out for him and Kagami fell asleep.


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