Prologue: level 1 fallen

Where am I? The thought coursed through my mind, looking around and seeing a pitch black void. I… I couldn’t remember my name. Why couldn’t I remember my name? I had just entered Brita, one of the major trading cities of the nation Athua. Then… 

“Please select your name.” A voice spoke through the void, my eyes widening as I realized what was going on. I had been chosen? Subconsciously, I looked down at my bulging muscles and green skin. From the looks of things, the one who chose me decided to give me thicker muscles than I originally had.

“Drake.” A confident voice emerged from my mouth, surprising me. The moment the voice spoke, I recognized the name. It… it was my name, wasn’t it? No, no that wasn’t it. It was the name that was chosen for me. My name and appearance are no longer what they used to be, but I could feel my memories of my old appearance rapidly fading.

Now, my name is Drake. I am a half-blood born between an orc and an elf. Because of this, the typical red skin that an orc prides themselves in turned green, and I am considered diminutive compared to my kin. On my mother’s side, I am rejected because I do not match the elves’ sense of beauty.

That’s right. I could still remember my history. That was not something that the Player would be able to change. I could feel excitement welling up in me at that thought. Everyone wanted to be chosen, as it allowed one to become immortal, gaining powers far beyond normal man. It was only by being chosen that one could fight against the monsters rampaging throughout the world.

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Next, it should be traits, right? I thought with anticipation. Upon being chosen, one would receive two traits, one positive and one negative. These traits were often related in some way, and were ranked by a number of stars determining their severity. As I was thinking that, a display appeared in front of me, causing my eyes to widen in shock. This was the display that only appeared under two circumstances. One must either be chosen, or have a task to issue to a player.

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Determining player traits.

Positive trait has been determined

Perfect Mana Circuit (10☆)

Being born with exceptional magic circuits, Skills may be used with no mana burden.

“Jackpot!” I heard the player speaking with my voice. My gaze trembled at the overwhelming power of the trait, though it made me dread what the negative one would be. “I knew mixing orcs and elves would give me something good.”

I wanted to close my eyes to pray that the next trait wasn’t bad, but I was no longer in control of my body. Until the player used his power to Log Out, I was a mere passenger in my own mind. I could only watch helplessly as the next window appeared.

Negative trait has been determined

Crippled Mana Vent (9☆)

Due to being born with unstable mana vents, the user is unable to cast any Magic.

“Wait, what?!” The player spoke in an outrage when he saw the negative trait. Honestly… it wasn’t as bad as I was worried. I thought I might have been paralyzed from the waist down, or lose one of my arms. Not casting magic… well, it was unfortunate. I had always envied the magic of those who had once been chosen.

“Tch.” The player clicked his tongue… well, my tongue. “A dud, huh? I guess bastards will always be bastards.”

It took me a moment to recognize what the player meant by that. A dud… that should mean that he believed the negative trait completely negated the positive one? Or at least, to a degree where it was almost unusable.

Part of me wanted to scold the player, but such a thing was next to blasphemy. He had chosen me, no matter how… unrefined he was. “Whatever. Finish the creation. Let’s get this over with, so I can get to the next one.”

Next one? I thought to myself, the void dissipating with one final display.

Welcome, Drake, to the world of Chosen Fantasy Online.

After that message flashed by, I could see that I was back in the city. Several citizens, and even a guard turned to look at me with respect. From their gazes, I knew that they were looking at the red marking on my forehead, a glowing sign formed from an overlapping C and F.

“Log Out.” The player said emotionlessly as soon as we returned to the city. It was unusual for a player to leave so quickly, from the rumors that I had heard growing up. Usually, they spent some time to adjust to their new bodies.

The guard that had noticed me approached with a smile, before his gaze shifted. At the same moment, I let out a cry of pain, buckling over and clutching my forehead. There was a scorching sensation on my skin, as if something were being burnt into me.

Character has been deleted.

Deleted? That means… My gaze shook, and I saw that the guard had lost all interest in me, even showing a vague disgust as he returned to his duties.

When an NPC, or Non-Player-Character, is selected by a Player, they become a Chosen. These Chosen are capable of growing to incredible heights under the power of their Player. They can level up and gain amazing abilities.

However, that only lasted as long as they were Chosen. If the player deleted the character, the link was severed. At that point, the Chosen would be reclassified as Fallen, the brand on their forehead burnt black. The fallen could not gain levels without the guidance of their former player. While they could still enjoy the benefits of immortality, there was a natural limit to how much more they could grow by acquiring skills.

Naturally, there was no shame in being a fallen. In fact, it was a requirement to ascend to a high rank in the military to have once been chosen by a player. Only a fallen had the chance to have the skills and raw power needed to fight a monster.

However… that only applied to a fallen that had already gained levels before their link was severed. If someone fell at level one, they were not only ‘fallen’, they were a ‘failure’. Failures were labeled as such typically because their traits were so bad that the player saw no future in guiding them.

While fallen were considered akin to nobility, failures were seen as lesser than even a common citizen. After all, they could never be chosen again after falling once.

My mind raced, struggling to think what I had done. No, I hadn’t done anything. What made my player see my traits as so worthless that I was abandoned after mere seconds? With a shaking gaze, I focused on summoning my character window.

Name:

Drake

Race:

Half-Blood(Elf/Orc)

Level:

1

Stats

My stats were fine, that wasn’t the problem. Shaking my head, I navigated to the next page, showing my traits.

Perfect Mana Circuit (10☆)

Positive (Skill)

Being born with exceptional magic circuits, Skills may be used at no mana cost.

Crippled Mana Vent (9☆)

Negative (Magic)

Due to being born with unstable mana vents, the user is unable to cast any Magic.

Right, this was it. This was what made my player abandon me. But why? I held my forehead with one hand, moving off to the side of the road so that I wasn’t in anyone’s way. Could it be… did he not understand the meaning behind the descriptions? I had heard that players come from another world than ours, so they would sometimes get some terms confused.

That was the only thing I could think of. Mana circuits and mana vents were something bestowed upon a chosen when they were selected by a player. Mana circuits allowed one to activate powerful skills, at the cost of burden. While mana circuits were burdened by a particular skill, that skill could not be recast. Additionally, if too much burden was placed on a mana circuit, the chosen would be unable to use any skill until they recovered.

Mana vents, on the other hand, allowed one to manifest their mana as magic. Magic was a form of skill, but it wasn’t the only type of skill. Did he get Magic and Skill mixed up..? Or… was he just dead set on guiding a mage?

Mage was the term used for a chosen that sought out various spells, either creating them personally or looting them from dangerous monsters. Mages had a heavy reliance on mana vents, and in fact my negative trait completely prevented me from walking this path. However… didn’t it make me ideal as a warrior?

My gaze shifted to the side, and I knew that I needed to get out of the area. I didn’t need to flee the city, but I did need to leave the presence of those who saw me as a failure. This was something else I had heard from listening to stories since my youth.

Although the fallen could be reborn after dying, just as players could, they faced more potential losses than simply a random item on their person. It was possible for a fallen to drop any skill they knew, or even their traits as loot. In other words, fallen were ideal prey for those of the same or higher level than them. And with me being level one, that meant everyone.

As I ducked through the alleys of Brita, I tore off a strip from my shirt, wrapping it around my forehead. Although it looked out of place, this would be better than advertising my brand. I had to plan ahead, and fast. There were only three paths ahead of me, now that I had become a failure.

Violence was strictly forbidden within the city, even against a failure like myself. If I chose to remain within the city for the rest of my life, I could still be considered safe. However, I had just arrived at this city, and didn’t have any form of a job to support me. I had the starting coin that all chosen were granted, but any of my other belongings were taken. 

Worse, the starting coin was designed to not be enough to live off of for more than a day. According to legend, this was to encourage players to quickly train and earn more money by killing monsters. Thus, staying in the city was not possible unless I managed to find a steady job before the end of the day.

The second option was to submit myself to a fate of being endlessly tortured and killed for every skill I learn, as well as my starting traits. While nobody would want my negative trait, my positive one could send an army of players after me. I think players call that ‘farming’. I shuddered at the term, immediately striking out the second option.

The third option was the most dangerous by far. While I was at risk of being killed by players for my traits in the second option, there was at least the chance that I could find a way to make it work in my favor. For instance, if I made a deal with a rich player to allow them to kill me until my traits dropped, in return for a large sum of money. It would hurt like hell, but it would be enough to let me live for a long time.

Right, the third option was to become stronger. This wasn’t an option for most failures, but I had an advantage. My positive trait should let me learn higher level skills, right? If I was going to survive, or potentially even thrive in my current situation, I had to get strong enough that players wouldn’t be able to hunt me.

- my thoughts:
Author's Corner: This is my newest story! For those of you that know me from World Keeper, hello again! For those that don't, greetings for the first time! As with World Keeper, I have advanced chapters of this story on my Patreon, and will be releasing them publicly as I write more. Because I am still writing World Keeper, this story will not have a set release schedule for the time being.
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