Chapter 5 - The Path
(A/N: *Warning* This chapter might feel like an information dump since it goes over various aspects of 'The Path' as a system. I'll try to make sure to avoid having too many status/skill descriptions in future chapters and instead post them in the compendium/auxiliary chapters. Also, for the 5 beautiful people that voted, congrats! The first world will be Danmachi! (Is is Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon!?) Next poll may include potential love interests!)
Vahn felt a 'tugging' force in his gut as the world around him seemed to collapse. After a brief, albeit incredibly disorienting experience, he finally arrived in the middle of a circular dais about 3m in diameter.
With the sudden urge to vomit due to vertigo he was experiencing, Vahn retched into empty space only to realize there was nothing to actually vomit. After dry-heaving for a few moments, he was able to finally re-orient himself and get a better understanding of his surroundings.
He noticed that he was sitting, n.a.k.e.d, on a featureless stone dais. The biggest surprise, which had previously gone unnoticed, was the fact that his limbs were still attached. For the first time in a decade, Vahn stood up.
"My legs...they're not longer amputated!"
He jumped, yes JUMPED for the first time in years, exclaiming loudly into the infinite void surrounding the stone dais.
"I can't believe this, I actually have legs again!!!"
(*Affirmative. While the physical body of the Host may have been damaged, the soul maintains the proper shape. As the Host previously existed within the Astral Realm, his body was restored to the shape of his soul.*)
Vahn heard the synthetic voice within his head, almost as if it had been reminding him of its existence.
"Who are you? How are you speaking into my head? Are you the voice of 'The Path' which Klyscha gave to me?"
(*I am the System created to act as an intermediary between the Host and 'The Path'. As the Host is incapable of understanding the functions of 'The Path' without assistance, the System was created as an auxiliary support for the Host. The system exists alongside 'The Path' which had bonded with the Host's soul, thus it can communicate directly with your conscience.*)
"I see, I think I understand a little. So you're going to help me use 'The Path' until I'm able to understand how to use it myself?"
(*The Host can indeed interpret my existence to that extent. Would the Host like to initialize the 'Tutorial' function?*)
"Tutorial? I don't know what that word means..." said Vahn ashamedly.
(*A Tutorial is like a guide or a walkthrough. It will enable the user the understand each of the basic aspects currently made available through the System. The Host also has the option of changing the Systems name and form of address towards the Host.*)
"Thank you for explaining things System. Can I call you... let's see...how about Sis? I don't think you have a gender, but I always imagined that an older sister is the best type to teach things to their brothers. You can call me Vahn! I look forward to working with you in the future."
A slightly more feminine, but still synthetic, voice rings inside Vahn's head.
(*Confirming name change from System to 'Sis'. Altering voice structure to match the expectations of Host now referred to as 'Vahn'. Sis also looks forward to assisting you with any inquiries you may have in regards to its functions in the future. Would you like to initialize the Tutorial Vahn?*)
Vahn is slightly startled by the sudden changes in the system's voice, but is happy given its efforts.
"Thanks, Sis. Please initialize the Tutorial!"
(*Affirmative. Sis will now display a list of all available functions and their uses.*)
-Status: Shows a list of all numerical values that make up the Host's physical/mental/spiritual attributes.
-Skills: Shows a list of all available skills. The host can toggle skills on an off to activate/deactivate their functions.
-Shop: Shows a list of all available items. Items displayed are dependant on available 'records'.
-Inventory: Displays a grid that allows the Host to store items within the void. The Host can store/extract items using mental commands. The Host can also 'Equip' items to pre-designated slots to immediately change equipment. Inventory size is limited to the growth of the Host.
-Records: Shows a list of all available worlds and their difficulty. World difficulties range between 1-9, with 1 being mortal worlds similar to the Host's origin universe. *CAUTION* It is highly recommended that the host avoid worlds beyond the level of his soul as it can result in a quick death!
(*Vahn, you can view the specifics of each function by saying 'Display *function*' within your mind. It is recommended that you view your basic status before selecting a world from the list of 'records'*)
During the massive number of notifications ringing within his brain, Vahn had fallen onto his butt in the middle of the dais. He was suddenly very thankful for the existence of Sis, since it would be difficult to keep track of all this information on his own.
"Thanks, Sis, you're the best."
(*You are very welcome Vahn.*)
Vahn called 'Display Status' within his mind, and a transparent blue window seemed to appear within his vision.
Name: Vahn Mason (temporary)
Age: 0 (age does not exist in the soul state)
Race: Human (soul), *sealed*
Parameters: Empty outside of 'record'
Soul Strength: Tier 1 (Mortal Soul)
Upon reviewing his status, Vahn noticed that his Karma was 0 instead of the astronomical number previously mentioned.
"Sis, what happened to my Karma? Didn't Klyscha say I had like 179-million previously?"
(*Yes Vahn, you previously had a positive Karmic value of 173,419,003, but it was exchanged by the Goddess Klyscha to allow you to possess 'The Path'. 'The Path' is a Tier 9 Artifact that has existed since the 'Origin'. It is normally impossible for a person with a Tier 1 (Mortal Soul) to be able to possess 'The Path' as it would place too much burden on their soul and potentially even destroy their soul root which would remove them from the cycle of reincarnation entirely. The Goddess Klyscha seems to have imbued her Divinity into 'The Path' to act as a limiting factor allowing your soul to activate the basic functions of 'The Path'. Your Karma was used in exchange to grant your "wish" to have freedom. As your soul grows in strength, you have access to increased functions and higher tier 'records'.*)
Vahn was stunned with the revelation of Sis. It would seem Klyscha put in a lot of effort to try and grant his wish. He gazes into the endless space surrounding the dais, almost as if he is searching for the sign of some presence.
"I will do my best to repay this gratitude Klyscha."
Affixing this vow within his heart, Vahn calls the list of records into his mind.
A list that seems to go on for an eternity begins to form in his mind, dazzling Vahn.
(*Vahn, I would suggest filtering the worlds by places you are familiar with and based on the strength of your soul*)
While the list kept ever expanding within his mind, Sis seemed to throw out a lifeline.
'Display Records limited to worlds I know of accessible by Tier 1 souls.'
-Fairy Tail (1-3)
-One Piece (1-3)
-Fate/Stay Night (1-4)
As Vahn perused through the list of records, he noticed he was unable to find the world he had considered going to.
'Display Records for the world Naruto'
"Oh, I didn't expect the Naruto world to require a soul level of 2 to enter. Do you know why that is Sis?"
(*It is due to the existence of the foreign energy known as chakra combined with the average difficulty of surviving within the world. As Naruto is a world with a Feudal System and Hidden Villages, there is a high probability of being targeted early on and eliminated by forces within the world who possess high spiritual power. It is recommended that you increase your Soul Strength to at least level 2 which would allow you to have an easier time cultivating Chakra and increasing your attributes within the world.*)
"I see, that kind of makes sense. Thanks for the explanation Sis. Is there any record you would recommend for my first world?"
(*Certainly Vahn. The 'Display Records' function automatically lists worlds by relevance to your current soul strength, so I would recommend the record of Danmachi. It has a base requirement of Tier 1, and if you are fortunate and put in a lot of effort you can strengthen your soul all the way to Tier 4. Keep in mind that obtaining Tier 4 would put you on the same level as the strongest beings in that world without their Divinity.*)
"Hmm, but wouldn't Fate/Stay Night be a good option since it has similar requirements?"
(*Though the requirements are similar, it would be difficult to establish yourself in that world without using Karma to overwrite the record of an existing character. Since you would have a difficult time having anyone teach you magic, and would be unable to take part in the Holy Grail War, it is advised to wait until you acc.u.mulate an adequate amount of Karma before entering.*)
"Wait, you can use Karma to overwrite the record of an existing character? Does that mean you would replace them?" Vahn was shocked at the idea.
(*That is correct Vahn, but please note that the worlds created using 'records' do not exist until you enter them. They remain in a form of suspended time which doesn't begin until the point you enter. Thus, assuming the role of a character would change the causality of that world without altering the timeline or events unless you directly change things. You would also inherit the memories of the character you replace.*)
"So the worlds I'm visiting don't exist? The people inside of them aren't real?"
Vahn was a little dejected at the thought since it would almost feel like he is the only living person in the universe...of course, he is currently a soul.
(*That is incorrect Vahn. -------------------------------------------------------- Thus you are able to assume the role of the person within the record.*)
"Wait, Sis, you skipped a part of the explanation!"
(*That isn't possible Vahn. If you were unable to hear the explanation it would be due to the restriction of your soul tier. Some information that governs the foundational laws of the Multiverse cannot be explained or understood without acc.u.mulating a variety of experiences. Once you are able to strengthen your soul, you will naturally begin to understand what I was trying to explain to you. Just know that the people you will be interacting with are as real as those from your previous world. Though you may possess 'The Path', it does not mean you are the 'Protagonist' of that world. There is a real possibility that you may die depending on the actions you take.*)
"I think I kind of understand Sis. I will do my best to become stronger. And I won't look down on anyone like those cruel people did to me in my previous life."
(*That is for the best Vahn. Giving into negative emotions and bringing harm to others would only result in the acc.u.mulation of negative Karma which would restrict the growth of your soul.*)
"Understood Sis. I think it's time to go. It doesn't seem like I can do anything in this empty space, and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity of interacting with the characters I read in the manga! I hope I'm able to make a good impression on them...I don't really have any experience interacting with anyone outside the lab. Well, except for you and Klyscha, which is a little odd now that I think about it..."
(*Acknowledged. Would you like to use the item 'Beginner's Package' to obtain a pertinent ability?*)
"Hmm? Beginners package? What's that?"
(*One of the items Klyscha had placed into your inventory before giving you 'The Path' was a special consumable that would give you a skill that would assist you on your first world. Please note that if you do not use the 'Beginner's Package' it will be converted into the equivalent value of Karma as the skill would have been worth upon entry into the world.*)
"Oh, then go ahead and use it. I hope it's something that will help in the record of Danmachi."
(*Acknowledged. Opening 'Beginner's Package'.*)
//Obtained System Interface Function: View Affection
(*Be advised Vahn, consuming the 'Beginner's Package' will activate forced transmigration!*)
"!!! What!? Wait, are you ser---"
Before Vahn is able to finish his sentence, he is once again 'gripped' by a 'tugging' motion in his stomach and forcibly transported away from the stone dais.