Reki Kawahara. Sword Art Online. Volume 1 – Aincrad
A huge castle made of stone and steel floating in an endless sky.
That was all this world was.
It took a vagary group of craftsmen one month to survey the place, the diameter of the base floor was about 10 kilometers – large enough to fit the entirety of Setagaya-ku within. Above there were 100 floors stacking straight upwards; its sheer size was unbelievable. It was impossible to even guess how much data it consisted of.
Inside there were a couple of large cities along with countless small scale towns and villages, forests and plains, and even lakes. Only one stairway linked each floor to another, and they existed in dungeons where large numbers of monsters roamed; so discovering and getting through was no easy matter. However, once someone made a breakthrough and arrived at a city of the upper floor, the __Teleport Gates__ there and of every cities in the lower floors would be connected making
it possible for anyone to move freely through these levels.
With these conditions, the huge castle had been steadily conquered for two years. The current front line is the 74th floor.
The name of the castle was __Aincrad__, a world of battles with swords that continued floating and had engulfed approximately 6 thousand people. Otherwise known as…
__Sword Art Online__
A grey sword cut my shoulder.
The thin line at the top left corner of my field of vision reduced slightly. At the same time a cold hand passed over my heart.
The blue line – called the “HP bar” – is a visual rendering of my life force. There was still a little over 80 percent left. No, this phrase isn’t appropriate enough. Right now I was about 20 percent closer to death.
I dashed backwards before the enemy’s sword even began its attacking motion.
I forced a huge breath and steadied my breath. The __body__ in this world didn’t need oxygen; but the body on the other side, or the body lying down in my real world, would be breathing heavily. My limp hands would be soaked with sweat and my heartbeat would be off the charts.
Even if everything that I am seeing right now is a 3D virtual reality, and the bar that was reduced was nothing more than a bunch of numbers that showed my hit points, the fact that I was fighting for my life didn’t change.
When you think about it like that, this fight is extremely unfair. That’s because the __enemy__ in front of me – a humanoid with dully shining arms covered in dark green scales, and a lizard’s head and tail – was not a human, nor was it really alive. It was a digital lump that the system respawned however many times it was killed.
The AI that moved the lizardman was studying my movements and enhancing its ability to respond to them with every second that passed. However, the moment that this unit was destroyed, the data was reset and it did not pass on to the unit that would be regenerated in this area.
So in a sense this lizardman was also alive. As a single unique being in this world.
There was no way that it would have understood the word that I had muttered to myself, but the lizardman – a level 82 monster called __Lizardman Lord__ – hissed and smiled, showing the sharp fangs that sprung from its long jaw.
It’s reality. Everything in this world is real. There’s no virtual reality or any fakes of any kind.