Chapter 4 ~ So This is the Path I Chose
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Located underground, although no one knows where it truly is, this place is known as the Starter Camp, and from what I know about it…

This place is called… the Prison Realm.

As soon as my sights finished adjusting, I see several old men sitting around in a circle and I am among them.

Got me thinking, ‘Starter Camp. For players, it’s merely a tutorial area, but for the NPCs… this place is a literal hell for them.’

Controlled by countless powerful undead. Prison Realm is mostly unguarded but one has to take a fight if they want to survive here and I’m not talking about the players. Sometimes, I feel so… terrible. When I see someone passed away before me, even if it’s an NPCs.

… and I'm here locked in a place that contains many of them. ‘Those disgusting undead really needs to perish from the face of this world.’

These words coming from my thoughts, I wonder if I still have the mindset of the teachings of a priest. I went too into the roleplay back then yet I didn’t choose any gods to worship.

‘Uwaahh, just thinking about it makes me want to vomit.’

‘A-Anyway, these old peeps… discussing a strategy to break out. It should take but a moment, so no rush. Players hardly talk at all during the tutorial anyway, and why is it not a cutscene, hm? Wait, was it even a cutscene before?’

I couldn’t remember, ‘Let’s take it easy for now. Once we break out, I’ll group up with Galliano and get the hell out of this place.’

The leader of this little group, Baldy. That’s what I call him… I don't know who his name is… He spoke, “We have 4 gates in total, only the North one is blocked, but we can definitely go for the other three.”

“But how do we get out then?” the other men asked.

“A portal, as long as we can pass the gate, we can plan our next move afterward.”

One pointing at the drawing on the ground. "What about that route? The West is in total disarray with all those Travelers circling around, we might be able to get through from there.”

“Impossible. In order to get out of the first layer, one would need to go either this route that leads to the broken gate or this one, going through the West Gate is the closest to the East Gate than the rest and that is what the Travelers are aiming for, but it’s not entirely empty either. There’s a guardian sitting and waiting in the West Gate, a very powerful one at that.”

“How’d you know?” a wounded beardy old man asked.

“Those Travelers wanted to get out too. If even them chose to ignore the gate, then there must be something in that place that keeps them from choosing it.”

“Hmm...”

The Baldy suddenly glanced at me, "What do you think, lass?"

“Huh?”

‘Did he just ask me? Wait, he is!!’

It was surprising, I mean like seriously, if I remember it correctly… this guy would wrap this up quickly and just break out right away. Don’t know what happens to them afterward though.

‘Well, if he is asking me... I should give an appropriate answer, I guess. Can't just blurt out nonsense.’

I pondered about it…

Thinning down the option, that means we have either South or the East Gate.

East Gate is filled with undead monsters swarming the area while the South Gate only has a few, but a more powerful version of those monsters. Choosing South would require us to defeat some of the mini-bosses and a boss there. If we were to choose the East Gate, then we’ll have to fight against easier but a bunch more of those monsters in there, and not to mention, dealing with other players.

While there are people like me, who are not only beautiful but also kind and generous to those who are in need of help, there is some pieces of trash out there.

Especially here, in the Starter Camp where people would just keep jerking off after killing some noobs.

Ahem, not me though.

But talking about the West Gate for a moment. The guardian they were talking about must be Ludtleth.

He is quite a unique undead being, an Ethereal Rank monster.

Speaking of ranking for a moment. In Ekolia, it is really simple. When someone reached level 100, they can work on ranking up and gain the title of Master, and that is when the game truly starts because the next goalpost is so far away that it’s painful to do.

Many have achieved it in my past lives though, it’s always been my dream to achieve that kind of feat too, the Level 1000, the Eternal Rank.

Once ascended, a whole new system is open, waiting for us.

Pass that, and you will find the Ethereal Rank, which has never been achieved by any player that ever lives, ever.

Speaking of those who have achieved it though. Ludtleth, maybe he's not really an undead monster but a demon, or maybe he's another type of creature. I never really met him myself, so I'm kind of interested to find out.

But, it's just impossible for a level 1 character to even try and fight him, I’d get obliterated in a matter of seconds.

‘Should I go for the other options then?’

This stupid curiosity sparks really bright inside me, telling me to explore that route.

But priority first, I don’t want these guys to be in trouble, and plus I have to meet Galliano to thank him for that sweet discount. Had he not given me it, I wouldn’t be able to have those sweet RGB, baybeeeee...

“All right, we’ll go through the South Gate.”

Upon hearing that, some of the old men were shocked. One of them quickly shouted, “Wait, some of us are injured here. The East Gate, while there’s a lot of enemies there, at least we have some travelers who might be able to help us.”

Another one nodded, “That’s true, we can’t possibly be fighting against powerful monsters when you need all the hands-on deck.”

“We can't just go in there and—"

*Bam*

The Baldy punched the ground, and that shut them up. Soon after, the other injured old men spoke, trying to calm them down. They did succeed on that a little but the old men are still having that hardened expression on their face.

‘This is a bit awkward, I mean, I’m basically nobody and just voiced my opinion. Welp, it’s up to them to decide though.’

Crossing their arms, tapping on their shoulder... I can tell, they're anxious, worried.

Baldy frowned as he spoke, “Lass, are you serious about this?”

I nodded.

Another old man with a long beard slams the ground with his fist, “Nonsense. Boland, you know you need us. Are you just going to ditch us to escape?”

‘Oh? So the Baldy name is Boland?’

He grabbed his shoulder, “Hey, nobody said that,” turning his head towards me, “But Lass, what’s your plan on this?”

“Hm? Well, we fight our way through of course.”

“You,,,” the bearded old man gritted his teeth but then suddenly, he coughed blood out of his mouth. Baldy tapped his shoulder and said, “Don't stress out too much, Dura. Hang in there.”

*Pant *Pant

‘He doesn’t look too good. Maybe I should stop joking from now on. Should be another time and place for that.’

I know a lot of things about this place, but it might not be as up-to-date – well, more like ‘out to date’ since it’s the past – but my knowledge might come in handy.

Gesturing my hand as I speak, “Listen. Those Travelers are not our allies…”

Huh, what the hell am I talking about. I mean sure that was what I was going to say, but I sure as hell did say Players instead of Travelers though.

“… Some nasty ones might do us more harm than the undead themselves, plus, they’re only acting for their own benefits…”

Again, I didn’t mean to say it that hard.

“… South will guarantee us having to worry more about them and only the mindless undead are around which I’m sure if we can band together on them, we can get out of this place.”

I don’t even know anymore, sounded so sure to put out the word "guarantee", and why the hell did my choice of words was altered out of my mouth, is the Realism Mode doing this or what?

“Look, our goal is to get out of this place safely… all of us.”

Their expression is still conflicted

*Boom*

Out of nowhere, an explosion just blasted the prison door opened. Some of the old men hide me on their back, luckily nothing happened.

‘Geh, it's starting already?! Too soon! We haven’t even decided where to go! No, better yet, wasn’t I suppose to get out of here alone?’

And that is when I realized why the Baldy or Boland asked me for my opinion, “We don’t have much time…” he stood, “Let’s go. We’ll take your route, Lass.”

“Ah.”

! {You have formed a Raid Party}

~ {--- / Lv. 1 / Mage / Unassociated}

~ {Boland / Lv. 43 / Warrior / Adventurers Guild / Former Rank D}

~ {Dura / Lv. 40 / Rogue / Adventurers Guild / Former Rank D}

~ {Kenmartha / Lv. 34 / Warrior / Unassociated}

~ {Holin / Lv. 27 / Civilian / Unassociated}

~ {Jigza / Lv. 28 / Civilian / Unassociated}

~ {Dono / Lv. 27 / Civilian / Unassociated}

~ {Giorimona / Lv. 38 / Civilian / Unassociated}

~ {8/24 Members}

~ {You have been selected as the Leader}

! {Quest Received}

~ {Breakout / Rank F-A / Objective: Fight your way out of the prison and reach the surface / Reward: Experience Points / Additional Reward: Multiply the main reward based on performance / Penalty: None}

~ {Creeps of Bones / Rank B / Objective: Bring all of the 7 NPCs in your Raid Party to the surface / Reward: None / Penalty: Permadeath, you will have no chance to regain your life through Limbo}

'Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!'

'I paid good money for this character, man! Why did this happen to me?!' Hah, the thought completely slipped from my mind. They were asking for my opinion and I just went with the flow, forgetting what I even said and thought, and now I have to-

“We’ll follow you.”

“W-Wait a moment, why do I have to be the one to lead?”

“Guts feeling. You seem like you know what you were talking about, and here, take this. Wouldn’t want you to bang that pretty head of yours on those nasty creatures.”

A blade, I took it off his hand and then…

! {Item Received}

~ {Boland Stone Shiv / Rank F-Uncommon / Physical Attack: 7}

‘No requirement or level restriction on this thing. It's nice, I guess. I allocated not a single point to Strength or Dexterity, but I should be able to use this thing despite not having any bonuses coming from those two stats.’

It still hard for me to accept the role of a leader. In my past life, I was completely a joke at it, and even my own friend – that Kurira bitch – would make a disstrack on just how fucking awful I was.

But why does it feel like I have to do this?

Is my paranoia kicking in again?

If I were to refuse it, will something really bad happen?

These thoughts are killing me, and when I had enough of this shit. I just decided, ‘You know what. Fine!’ steeled my ass cheeks to the maximum hardness, I’m gonna lead this rusty group and take them to the fucking surface, man!

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