Monstrous Compendium Online Ch1 bit – Talking to Strangers

“We weren’t warriors when we first came here.” Kirito glanced at her, then at one of the snarling minotaur statues that guarded the entrance to Stheno’s cave. “And surely the Ebon Wolf could not hope to face you.”

“And surely he would not face me,” Stheno said dryly. “Why should he, when he could summon a thousand turned mages and warriors to besiege me instead? I am immortal, not invincible.” The medusa tilted her head, as if he’d said something very odd. “Not warriors? Then how did you escape his minions?”

“Some of us didn’t.” He’d never expected the Town of Beginnings to turn into such a nightmare. Kayaba’s starting tutorial, wererats grabbing a hapless NPC and biting down, before the horrified youkai town guards arrived to chase them off, and seize their terrified, infected victim, and-

Kirito flinched, remembering the sickening pop of mutating flesh and bone as the man had begged to die.

That had been bad enough. But the fear that had swept through the players, as the first unlucky few encountered more lycanthropes, and found out the hard way that Kayaba wasn’t bluffing….

This is our reality, now.

“Some of us didn’t,” Kirito repeated, half to himself. “I was lucky. I knew a little about swords before I was brought here. And I’ve learned more, often due to the kindness of strangers. Many of them youkai strangers.” He met that dark-shaded gaze. “I’m not from anywhere in Galifar. I want to defeat the Ebon Wolf. We all do.”

“We?” Stheno raised an elegant brow, snakes curling. “Survivors of twenty thousand stolen from hearth and home, and you’d have me believe you’re all of one mind?”

A very complex AI. “No, of course not,” Kirito said seriously. “But some of us will fight.” His voice caught in his throat. He took a breath, and made it steady. “It’s the only way we’ll go home.”

Dark lenses shaded her gaze, but he thought her eyes narrowed. “Come with me.”

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23 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Online Ch1 bit – Talking to Strangers

  1. Yeowch! This is early on in the game, before he realizes this is not a game, isn’t it? And, the riot in ToB was awful anyway, to Turn it Up to Eleven! Yeowch.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. >Definitely before anyone from Earth realizes it’s not a game.>
        So some of the UI (user interface) enchantments that Kayaba added start breaking down over time along with everything slowly becoming more ‘real’ to the players?

        >And yes. Kayaba is Evil.>
        And a good enough rules-lawyer that there are Devils (Lawful Evil fiends) taking notes.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Stheno may be able to tell him about planar lore, which could be a clue. Kirito has a good idea what technology can and cannot do, and will be interacting with ‘NPCs’ and odd magical effects enough to put the clues to together.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. >enough to put the clues to together.>
        The problem is that he and all the players are convinced this is a VR game. Pretty much anything they see can potentially be explained by clever programming etc.

        So it would have to be something completely impossible for the game to pull off. Like somebody managing to open a small planer gate into the Kirigaya dojo so Kirito can talk to Suguha or something (he can’t go through it because all the players are planer-bound to Eberron). And then she tosses her bokken or some other keepsake through the portal to serve as that final nail in the coffin that all this is real.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Considering that SAO is cinematic AI for all the writer made an effort, I guess Kirito can’t just go with known practical limitations.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. The players see it as a game-turned-deadly-reality while the locals see it as reality (which it may be).

    Though Kayaba’s trick is very Fae-like here. The players must fight and become more like the world they are in now to go home. But when the way home is finally gained, they’ll realize they realize they can no longer go home due to their own actions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And the worst bit? Mystically, *they all consented.* By buying the game, by getting the NerveGear, by logging on, *they asked for it.* Heck, some of them practically quested to get in on the game. A lot of the time, magic needs an opening to work transformative or other changes. And that opening might not be knowingly given, but it must be freely given. The hapless victim must choose, of their own free will, to give that opening. Blackmail, threats of pain, those don’t count as coercion.

      Things like Imperio would count as coercion, getting hit with a Crucio and saying whatever to make it stop would not.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. *snrk*

        You’re not wrong. And your comment is excellent. But contemplating character reactions if any of our heroes ever figure that out or have it explained to them… It just makes me think of that scene most of the way through Cabin in the Woods:
        “They made us choose.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. And indeed a component of consent has been played with here. In a way that will tick most of the other people Kayaba’s made agreements with off; given the “against their will” factor, this counts as a curse. And those tend to end badly….

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Turning is going to be an important word.

    Not, I think, in the usual D&D context, which is a Cleric’s power against the undead. (There was this one guy who initially misunderstood this, and eventually created a class for evil clerics that let them literally transform into undead.)

    I think it is not quite ideology, like I have speculated last thread. D&D handles ideology and extremely broad factions, perhaps very badly, through alignment. Which can change when turned into a lycanthrope. One of Eberron’s assumptions is a looser and more flexible take on alignment.

    In one version of the official rules, players, NPCs, and monsters are classified by type. The Outsider type has some variations, like native Outsiders. Outsiders who are not native to the plane they are on are native to another plane. The assumption when they are summoned to a material plane is that they are not truly there, and are not killed permanently if killed while summoned. They have to be killed on their native plane for it to stick. They also tend to have a default alignment associated with their plane of origin. (Though some of this applies to outsiders who aren’t native to a material plane.)

    Earth and Eberron both seem to be material planes here. Kayaba seems to have the players locked down in their real bodies on earth, and experiencing life only through summoned bodies on Eberron. Probably with some level of translation.

    I still don’t understand what turning means, for whether Kayaba is responsible or someone else.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There will be explanations. And eeping. 😉

      But yes. One of the nice things about Eberron is the alignment flexibility. As one bit put it: “The LE vampire? He’s ruling his kingdom peacefully. The CG princess next door? She plans to start a war….”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It is worth noting that only the primary Summon X spells and their derivatives actually ‘summon’ in the way you describe above. Granted the vast majority of creature calling spells, but all those spells explicitly state on a case-by-case basis that that’s how they work. There are spells to summon and direct beings from other planes where said beings are actually physically there as themselves. And planar transport effects where a caster teleports you to another plane work in exactly in such a manner.

      I guess what I’m saying is, maybe the Nerve Gears work more like Summon spells, but there’s no inherent protections provided by the planes themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Considering the whole ‘turning’ thing something just occurred to me.
    The Knights of Blood

    So is Asuna going to end up being a Dhampir or something similar here?

    Asuna: “N-nothing is going on. We’re just friends!”
    Argo: “That hickey on Ki-bou’s neck says otherwise. Just leave a few liters in there would you?”
    Asuna: -Extended and highly embarrassed sputtering and stammering-

    Liked by 2 people

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