My name is Evelyn Wald. In this world, I was one of the four summoned Heroes.
Usually, for the sake of the target audience, Limited Player Online games cater to a specific gender. For instance, it could be a situation where four male Heroes, or players, were summoned. The same was true with the opposite. The difference between the games who specified a target gender was huge, to the point that they could be separated as games of a different genre—well, not that I cared anyway.
Either way, most LMOs that did not show a bias or preference towards one gender came out to be more of a serious type of a game. By serious, I meant realistic, or at least that was how I would describe it.
It was realistic in a sense that the NPCs had a mind of its own. They were given an array of emotions. A set of memories. A series of tasks where it would not be seen a merely repetitive. In short, the NPCs were given life. A fake life. Regarding how, I did not know. But from what I knew, the first NPCs with emotions came along with the rise of quantum computation.
Originally, NPCs were mere tools to progress a story. Those kinds of games were generally linear. They did not branch out to unexpected events outside of the pre-determined set of scenarios. However, those linear games remained. After all, they were games that required a fixed amount of resources, unlike LMOs which needed to expand the situation based on the series of events.
In fact, LMOs are not that popular as it seemed years ago. Though everyone was hyped to play and be part of a realistic game, it did not last long. For one, the difficulty cannot be changed. One could even say that it was hardcore. Little actions that the players deemed trivial resulted into large ordeals. Merely following orders drove them into a situation where they were used and betrayed. Failing to gather information and letting a faraway village burn down punched a hole into the state of the kingdom.
There were countless examples, but most punished the player in an unimaginable way. Or at least for casual people who barely knew anything about management, information gathering, terrain, logistics, laws, and much more, it was a ridiculous turn of events. So ridiculous that people started to whine that it was supposed to be a game.
A game where they could relax and relieve their stress. A game where they could be competitive. A game where there are more rewards than punishment. A game where it replicates reality, but not as realistic as possible. The list of complaints goes on.
So, in the end, LMOs never became popular. That was when I thought that humans were a bunch of asses. Get good people.
However, LMO’s existence never vanished. Why? Because of data.
Around the world, companies and countries began to support organizations that focused on replicating reality through virtual means. From the perspective of these governments, there were a number of beneficial information that could be gained.
One of those benefits is replicating history. Though the reason seemed dull for outsiders, it was a complicated topic. By replicating history, governments gained information on the rise and fall of civilizations, and the reasons and triggers behind it. Although that is one reason, there are still more to it which is kind of hard to explain.
Either way, another reason is behavioral observation. Wise governors or world leaders needed this the most. By pairing behavioral patterns with the current data, it opened more possibilities and options when predicting the future turn of events.
Another of which I knew was a means to investigate if simulating a world was possible. Though it sounded ridiculous at first, the theory was hard to deny and was hard to affirm. So, in trying to simulate a world, they take a step in realizing what the world is.
All that said, I was one of those who were under those organizations. The main reason is that I was born disabled. So you could say that I was a lab rat.
Obviously, as technology rose, so does the medical field, but not proportionally, of course. However, my disability was not something that could easily be cured despite the breakthroughs.
Did I ever regret that I was born? No. Never.
Honestly, I would say I was in luck. I could proudly say that dealing with others is hard. Since every time I watched the news or surf the net, ridiculous events popped in. Sometimes it was so ridiculous that I found myself losing hope in humanity. So, I’m glad. Glad that I was not outside. Glad that the risk of meeting such ridiculous fate was nil.
Though I said it was hard to deal with others, it did not necessarily mean that I was hard pressed when speaking with people. It’s just that I have disgust that I cannot explain myself.
In any case, being part of those who could play games to my heart’s content, I could say that I’m happy. Happy enough that I could easily forget of my disability. It’s the best.
Anyway, ever since I was summoned, I felt bored. But I was excited too, but I could not let it show.
Ah, what a cliché.
Ever since we met the King and received a briefing, I thought that the situation was boring. I mean, wasn’t it too obvious that the King wanted to rein us? Sending a handsome yet inexperienced knight into my chamber, what a sick joke. I mean, seriously? That’s what you had in store? But well, in a way, it worked. It worked on that dumb Clark. And although I was not sure, it seemed that it worked on Charles too? What a letdown. Did the competing organizations even think about whom to send as a representative? Well, whatever. Less competition, the better.
Ouch. That has got to hurt.
“Of all people! You! You! Ugh!”
Right before me was my seething client. The client was a blonde woman wearing a mask punched with simple holes. Though her facial features were hidden, it was obvious to me who the woman was.
Collapsed before the woman was our hostage. Obviously, she was chained in both hands and feet, collared around the neck, gagged with a dirty cloth, and blindfolded. One could say it was excessive, but it was necessary. Despite that, she was conscious, or at least I felt.
“Why did you have to meddle?!” The woman kicked the collapsed girl repeatedly.
She’s still your step-daughter, you know? That kind of treatment. Did you hate her that much? But yeah, I kind of understand your frustration. The plan fell apart, after all.
Again, and again, the woman dissed. The woman threw a fit. Without a care for the girl, the woman expressed her anger. It was up to the point that she drew a sword from a nearby rack and raised it overhead.
“Please cool your head.” I moved forward with my arms raised. “Ending her here won’t do us any good. She is still a Princess, after all.”
“Who told you to stop me?!” the woman barked as she breathes roughly underneath the mask. “Do you know who I am?!”
“Please think it over. She’s the First Princess of Laurel, your step-daughter.”
“There is no need for this scum! She’s the very bane of my son!”
“I mean, just look at her. She’s reduced to this. Is there any other reason for you not to stop?” I glanced at the Princess. Just as expected, her gag was already tinged with red. “And besides, if she arrives safely into Libet, who knows how much the church would favor you. So please calm down and think this through.”
You’re blinded by anger and hatred. Please realize that and sort out your emotions.
“Tch!” The woman threw the sword to the side. “And you! You were supposed to take Clarissa!”
“I apologize, but because the Princess meddled, Princess Clarissa was able to escape. Given the time, if we didn’t withdraw as soon as possible, some traces might have been left. Because of that, we took the liberty to withdraw as to not endanger you and ourselves.”
Again, the woman clicked her tongue and turned away. “Leave! I don’t want to see that girl’s face again!”
“Whaa. Family problems sure are ugly.”
As soon the woman left, I called in the helpers and had the Princess transferred over to the next ship.
“Careful not to touch the necklace, or you’re in for some pain.”
When we left the port of Aves, we boarded a Caravel. Courtesy to that woman’s connections in the mercantile world, we were able to board without a thorough check. Ah, the convenience of power.
The ship left the port five hours before sunrise, which was the ship’s scheduled leave towards east. And since the events happened just an hour ago, I was sure the Nobles and the Royals were still fumbling their fingers due to the lack of evidence. And it seemed the order to block any leaving vessels did not reach us in time. Maybe they wanted to keep the situation in wraps and avoided catching the public’s attention? Well, anyway, it has saved us time.
After which, after arriving at the first fishing village, we transferred the cargo onto another ship and headed further east. At the second transfer, we met the client.
This time around, we transferred to a much smaller ship. It was just enough for the cargo, my party, and three sailors to fit. You could even say it was a boat.
At my signal, the sailors began to operate the shards on each side of the boat. As soon as they did, the water sloshed around and gradually moved the boat forward. It was quite a wonder, propelling the boat by the means of water magic. Quite clever but simple if I were asked.
“Now then.” I glanced towards the west, where Aves was. Although I could no longer see its towering walls, I could still imagine the uproar within the city. A Princess vanished without a trace, after all.
Laurel has a critical flaw. Although its security was tight, it was quite lax on the eastern portion of its territory. It can be blamed on the lack of development and the untamed frontier. Nonetheless, the number of ships patrolling the eastern side of Formos is few. Reason being that the eastern side was believed to be the territory of another race. The Nereids.
The Nereids were quite an enigma, or at least from what I heard. Either way, Laurel had capable people. They were able to set a border on the sea which did not trample on the territory of the Nereids. Well, knowing their agenda, they probably wanted to avoid war as much as possible. However, that did not stop the fishermen to sometimes cross the border out of stubbornness.
In any case, “What to do?”
The trip would take several hours to reach the volcanic island at the center of Formos on the roundabout route we were taking.
“Really.” It was surprising. Despite the beating she took, she was still conscious. “I know I’ve asked this before, but are you really a human?”
And just as usual, she responded with silence. “Ah, right, you can’t speak with the gag. Sorry.”
I untied the soaked cloth and threw it aside. “Though I guess it’s obvious, your step-mother wants you dead. Did you do anything to provoke her this much?”
“Cough! Cough! What is… your goal?”
Straight to the point.
“……” I recalled the previous encounter with this girl. If anything, the encounter was not funny. In fact, it was a shock. To dodge or block all my attacks… “Hey, do you mind hearing me out?”
The girl spat blood. “… It depends.”
“You see, since the plan has all but failed, mind if we discuss things?”
This girl was dangerous. That was what my intuition kept on telling me. It was as if I met a boss right off the bat. A ridiculous enemy that would usually require planning and a number of resources.
“But first, let me set things straight. I don’t believe in what you are advocating for.”