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3 New World, New Self

"Alright then, Rover. The game should be ready around now, right?" Benjamin asked while sitting at the beach of the lake in his Desktop-Mode, throwing rocks into the water to make them skip. The moment he said Rover's name, the small orb appeared in front of the old man.

"Yes, that's right! It can be launched in approximately 14 seconds! Do you want to run the Application the moment it is available?" He asked in his cheerful, robotic voice. Benjamin nodded his head and stood up, patting the sand from his pants instinctively, "Please! Seeing how real this small world seems, I can barely imagine what the Game world will be like, haha."

With closed eyes, Benjamin stroked his beard and laughed softly while imagining the possibilities that are to come.

"The Application can be launched now. Have fun playing, Benjamin!"

Without giving him the chance to reply, Benjamin's surroundings changed suddenly once more. The Lake and Forest around him faded into non-existence and he found himself in a white space like when he first entered the Desktop-Mode.

The only difference was that behind him, a single decorated wooden door stood, with nothing behind it. Only the door, nothing else. Surprised, but figuring that there's a reason that the door was there, Benjamin walked up to it and grabbed the handle.

He pulled on it and the door opened up without any resistance. Within the space behind the door was a room made of marble, Vines running across the pillars that encircled a small table in the center. When Benjamin stepped through the door, it closed shut behind him immediately and disappeared. Across the room, he could now see a Woman standing on a balcony, a vivid blue sky unfolding behind her.

Her bright blond hair flowed in the wind like waves and her long, decorated white dress followed in part while an air of nobility surrounds her.

The woman was looking into the distance, and with the sound of the door closing she turned around and looked at the old man that just entered her domain.

Her eyes began to glister as she ran up to him excitedly. "Are you Benjamin Joyce?!" She yelled out and grabbed Benjamin's hand with her's. While looking at the young woman, Benjamin's impression of her from before instantly vanished.

Laughing softly at her behavior, he begins to stroke his beard with his free hand. "That's me, young lady. Uhm, but who might you be?" He asked curiously. Could this be another player already?

"Ah! Sorry! I was just so excited after Papa told me so much about you… And when he told me you would be coming here as well, I was so excited I could barely wait! But now you're finally here!" She yelled out and turned around with her arms stretched to her sides. Really, the maturity that could be felt from her before just absolutely turned into childishness all of a sudden. But Benjamin didn't really mind, he was just curious who this girl was!

Just as he was about to ask her again, she turned back to him with a smile. "My name is Ari! I'm the Artifical Intelligence in charge of managing this world!"

Shocked at this revelation, Benjamin ripped his eyes wide open. There was no way in hell that was an AI! Someone had to be playing a prank on him!

"So… you're an artificial intelligence? You're not one of the developers?"

"What? No, silly! How I said, I was created to manage this world! You see, this place, the World of Magic, works much like your world out there! The people here act like, well, people! I don't know myself, but Papa told me in most games, the people, NPCs as you call them, can't think for themselves. Not in this world! They think, they love, and they hate!" Ari explained happily, joining her hands together behind her back, trying to figure out the funny expression that Benjamin was giving her.

"Wow… That's insane! I had no idea this was even possible! I can't wait to get out there!" Benjamin said excitedly and looked around to find the door. In response to this, Ari covered her mouth as she began giggling softly, "I'm happy you're so excited! But before that, there's some stuff we got to go through!"

Ari walked toward the table standing in the middle of the room and sat down at one side of it, pointing Benjamin toward the other chair. He did as told and sat down, while Ari leaned back in her chair.

"First, before we are allowed to continue with anything else, you have to agree to Prime Industries' Terms of Service!" With a slight sigh at this boring part, Ari took out a contract from under the Table and handed it to Benjamin together with a pen.

"I see, so I have to sign some things first?" Agreeing with Ari that this is something quite boring, Benjamin swiftly looked through the contract and signed it at the bottom.

Following his signature, to Benjamin's surprise, the contract lit on fire and disappeared from the table.

Ari then breathed in deeply to seemingly prepare for a long monologue. "Rule number one! While normally illegal acts like theft or murder are allowed in World of Magic, things that will affect a player's psyché are prohibited! That includes torture or non-consensual sexual acts, such as ****. Rule number two! Any attempt at trying to take over another player's account or capsule via remote connection like illegal hacking is prohibited! Rule number three! You are not allowed to inform the NPCs in this world that they are inside a game! I may know about it, but the normal people living here do not! We want this world to run as realistic as possible, so telling people their life is a lie does not help with that. If any of these rules are to be broken your account will be locked until further notice, and legal action may be invoked depending on the severity of the rule-break." Ari finished her speech of the rules and tried to catch her breath.

Benjamin obviously understood the first two rules instantly. **** and torture are completely despicable acts, and it made sense for it to be prohibited to illegally take over someone else's real-life belongings, in this case, their account and capsule. He was still somewhat confused about the last rule, however. "What do you mean? I'm not allowed to talk about any part of this world being a game?" He asked while stroking his white beard.

Ari simply nods and begins to explain, "There are some parts that even the NPCs know about since they have access to these things as well. Status, Attributes, Skills, Levels, etc, but they are not allowed to know they are artificial existences, or that you are playing a game. Thus, simply avoiding the words, NPC, Virtual Reality, or Player would be the best choice, except if you are sure there are only other Players listening to you."

Benjamin closed his eyes and leaned back into his chair. It wouldn't be hard to avoid it if everyone seemed like a real person just like Ari, is what he thought.

"Now~ Since Papa told me you aren't a big game-player, do you want me to explain some important basics to you?"

"Yes, please. I wouldn't want to miss important parts of the game after all."

"Alright~! First off, Status! Just by thinking of showing your status, or character-sheet, you will be able to pull it up! You can't yet though because you're not officially in the game yet~. On your Status, it will show your name, Level, Race, Occupation, Attributes, as well as your skills!" She explained happily. Benjamin nodded while closely listening to her, trying to connect her words with something.

"Your name will be set later, so don't worry about that for now! Your level can be increased through either killing monsters, fulfilling quests, or certain special actions! Every level, you will get five points, which you can use to increase your attributes! There are five attributes that you can increase like that. Strength, Endurance, Agility, Intelligence, and Wisdom! However, depending on what you do, you can unlock more attributes, most of which you won't be able to increase with your points, but instead only through special actions. Then-" Without taking a break, Ari continued explaining all the basic parts of the game, although Benjamin wanted to know something she was about to skip over.

"Whoa, whoa, young lady! Can you slow down a bit? Could you explain what those 'Attribute' things do?" He asked with a soft frown, although keeping his overall gentle demeanor. Ari apologizes and slows down a bit. "Hmm… I'll explain it for your most probable playstyle, alright~? Which is something Craftsman related, right? Well, the more strength you have, the stronger you are, duh! Working with certain materials requires a certain amount of strength, just to be able to shape them! If you keep your strength too low, you won't be able to put even the slightest dent into metal during blacksmithing. With a higher endurance, both your defense increases and your stamina! You can work longer and your body will experience less of a backlash when working too hard. Agility will increase your overall speed, but also your dexterity, so you can do more detailed work! Intelligence and Wisdom are Attributes mainly related to Magic, so I'm not sure how useful they'll be to you… but well, Intelligence increases the efficiency of anything mana-related you do, and Wisdom will increase the amount of your mana and how much basic control you have over it!"

"I see… thanks. Most of these seem pretty important, but I'll have to find out if Magic will have any use to me." Benjamin muttered to himself, deep in thought until Ari continued explaining. "Your occupation and skills will depend on your actions! Depending on what path you go, you will unlock certain skills, and some professions will support the effects of some of them. A Magician can cast stronger magic, a Warrior has stronger attacks, and a Craftsman can craft finer items! Simple, isn't it? Most of it is self-explanatory while you play, don't worry~!"

At last, with an excited expression, Ari jumped up from her chair and walked next to Benjamin. While he is wondering what she's about to do, she waved her hand and a mannequin appeared in front of them.

"This is the base for a Human character! There are many races in the World of Magic, and some of them have strongly different bodily structures, all of them are humanoid though. However, I suggest that you play as a dwarf! They are the race that is best at working with their hands! The best blacksmiths, tailors, and artists! I think that fits with you! Although…" Ari waved her hand once more and the mannequin shrank significantly as if someone pushed the person from before down. A big head, broad shoulders, thick but short arms and legs, and a height at least half a meter shorter than what Benjamin is in real life.

"…they are kind of short…"

Benjamin sighs. The dwarf's explanation sounded perfect for him, but this really was a problem. It would take a long time to get used to a body this short, especially since the size difference was even greater due to his normally big build. But all his worries were swept away when Ari continued talking.

"So usually that may be a problem, but Papa allowed me to give you special rights in your character creation~. With those rights, I can make your race a halfling of something that normally wouldn't exist! My suggestion is…"

Waving her hand once more, but this time with a big smile on her face, the mannequin grew in size significantly, standing even taller than the human before then. The general build of the dwarf stayed in the mannequin, broad shoulders and thick arms and legs, but its limbs were significantly longer than before. In short, its build already looks a lot like Benjamin's.

"…A Giant-Dwarf Halfling! You get all the advantages from the Dwarf race without the bodily… shortcomings. Usually, this Halfling race isn't available to players, even though it does exist very rarely in the game world amongst NPCs. As far as I know, there is only a few dozens of them!"

"Young lady! This is perfect for me! I'd be more than happy to be this in the game!" Benjamin stands up happily and walked up to the Mannequin. To Ari who was standing next to him, it looked like two Benjamin's already! So, with a snap of her fingers, she turned the Mannequin into a real representation of him.

"Now, the only thing left is your name! Do you have an idea already?" Ari asks at last. And actually, yes, Benjamin had been thinking about a good username together with Rover while waiting. So with a soft grin, he looked at Ari and told her what he wants to be called.

---

After walking Benjamin through everything, Ari also went to talk to four other people that seemingly helped out the game in a similar fashion to himself, although in different fields. Then, after waiting for around 15 minutes, they all came together in a big hall, somewhat similar to Ari's room in its setup with Marble constructs everywhere.

"Alright, everyone ready?" Ari yelled out cheerfully while standing in the center of the five people.

They were all wearing the same clothes, pretty boring brown and beige clothing, and each of them had a black and red coin around their neck as a necklace, each of their patterns different, however.

"I'll introduce you to each other quickly, alright? First, the Original of Magic and a High-Elf, Xenia!"

Ari pointed to one of the two women standing in the group. She had long deep-black hair and eyes, and skin as white like snow. The only thing that seemed different to a normal human were the pointy ears on the sides of her head. If he was about 50 years younger, he may have tried to flirt with her, but since she was about as old as his oldest granddaughter, he quickly refrained.

"Next, the Original of Combat and a Demon-Orc Halfling, Brody!" After pointing to Xenia, Ari pointed to a tall grown man with dark-green skin that nearly faded to black. He had short black hair and two curved horns sprouting out of his forehead, as well as two big tusk-like teeth coming out of his mouth. Next, Ari turned to the second woman in the group. "This is the Original of Artistry and a Human, Evalia!" She had bright blonde hair and glowing blue eyes. Her lips were dyed deep red and her bust seemed far too large for her body, possibly to overcompensate for something in real life.

"And that over there is the Original of the Living and a Monkey-Beast-Person, Jyuuk!" This man was also relatively well built and most of his visible skin, with the exception of the palms of his hands and his face, was covered in thick orange fur. Most of his features looked like that of a monkey's and a person's mixed up, and his face was framed with his fur as well. From his back, you could see a tail extend outward.

After introducing the other four people there, Ari turned to Benjamin.

"Lastly, the Original of the Mechanical Arts, and a Giant-Dwarf Halfling, Eisen!"
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