Chapter 2

Building a New Life

        Chloe found herself standing in a black, formless space, and she was staring at herself.
        Chloe Marks was slightly taller than average for a woman, but still slightly shorter than the average man at 5’8”. She had pale white skin that burned far too easily and made her look sickly. This wasn’t helped by her build, that was supermodel thin, except on her it looked waifish, even gaunt. She looked like she was always starving, though she’d never starved a day in her life.
        Her face was too wide to really be pretty, though, and just slightly disproportionate around the cheeks and jaw. Her eyes were a pretty hazel, changing with her environment, but were otherwise flat and unremarkable. She had thin lips and a small nose that was almost cute. Her ears were small, with almost no lobes. She’d gotten them pierced, but the image of her she was looking at wasn’t wearing any jewelry or makeup.
        In fact, the image she was looking at wasn’t wearing anything at all. Not a stitch of clothing, and Chloe’s entire waifish figure could be seen. Chloe’s best features were her hands and feet. She had long elegant fingers, and she always kept her nails well manicured and painted them in pretty colors. She’d received many compliments on her hands, perhaps because they were the only part of her body worth complimenting.
        Her worst feature, at least as far as Chloe was concerned, was her hair. She kept it cut very short, not in a cool spunky way, but because when it was short it looked less like a rat warren and more like a bird’s nest. Her hair had a pretty chocolate brown color to it, but it was completely impossible to style. Even the strongest product could only keep it in place for a few hours at best, and then it would tangle and snarl horribly, and it was just easier to keep it short. She’d considered dyeing it, but kind of didn’t want to attract attention to herself.
        Aside from her glaringly naked body, the only other thing in this space was a box floating next to it.

        Chloe hesitated briefly, then tapped the button for Female. Chronicles of the New World would let you choose your gender, but Chloe hadn’t really considered playing as a boy. She knew a lot of people would alter their gender in game for a variety of reasons, but Chloe didn’t think she’d feel comfortable playing as a boy.
        Chloe paused again as the next choice popped up, the one for species. She’d had a lot of fun playing around with the different species in the tutorial. Just picking one of them to play from now on was actually a pretty hard choice. They each felt different, and this choice would affect everything she did in the game from now on.
        After a while, Chloe went with what she’d originally chosen, a miriam. A multicolored background appeared, and the body in front of her changed, becoming completely transparent. The ears also grew a point at the top, but the most noticeable change was the reason Chloe had decided on the miriam. Her hair spilled down her back nearly to her ankles, beautiful as if it was painted. It was perfect, not a strand out of place. One of the unique things about miriam was that their hair was alive rather than being composed of dead cells.  It grew much longer and much more quickly than the hair of any other species, and each individual strand was thicker as well. They also had long, beautiful eyelashes, but no other body or facial hair.
        Chloe was being given another choice for her character, her race. There were three races for miriam. The default was the Dawn race, which were completely transparent. Chloe tried the other two races, to see the difference. The Twilight race had a slight red tint to it while still being translucent. The Dusk race turned out to be her favorite however, it had a darker transluscence, that would completely disappear at night. She could still see through the body, but everything behind it was visibly darkened. It was a neat effect, and she confirmed her choice happily.
        After that, a huge number of screens and controls appeared next to the body. There were controls for each part of the body, allowing you to adjust them in shape, orientation and dimension. The options were complex and nearly endless, and Chloe was tempted to make herself prettier. Well, after all, it was just a game, so why not? The color options for miriam weren’t very extensive, but there were two parts of the miriam that weren’t completely clear. The black pupils of their eyes, and very thin irises around them. The hazel color of her natural eyes wasn’t available, and after trying out the options, Chloe chose to make her eyes metallic silver.
        Next, Chloe fleshed out her body, literally. She increased her weight, giving her body more natural proportions so she didn’t look like she was about to pass out from hunger. She added a bit more bounce to her breasts and behind, but didn’t go overboard. The shortest she could make her hair was thigh length, and she decided to set it to around knee length, then put it in a braid. Then she tried to fix the proportions of her face, but the problems were so small that it was hard to make the adjustments.
        There were also controls to alter her voice. Chloe made a few changes, making her voice a bit deeper and rougher, but didn’t like the way it came out, so she reverted it to her natural voice, and just left it.
        Finally she was done, and looked over the character she had built. The character still looked like Chloe, but the most idealized version of her. Satisfied, Chloe concentrated on *Finished*, and new menus appeared.
        Ah, these menus allowed her to choose her starting clothes. First was underwear, and she had three different sets to choose from. Chloe chose the most basic set, setting the color to blue-violet. She was even able to choose her socks, so she chose the basic ones and set the color to match her underwear. Next she chose a standard tunic and trousers and set their color to a particular shade of green. She couldn’t start with a hat, and there was only one type of shoes, but she made them green as well.
        She was able to walk around the body and admire it before confirming the settings. The character disappeared when she did, and Chloe felt her clothing and body change. Chloe looked at herself, walking around and moving her arms. Her body felt slightly stronger than normal, and she could definitely tell she had extra padding around her body. The clothes fit perfectly, but felt kind of rough.

        Now that she had her character’s appearance down, it was time to move on to the more game like parts of character creation, starting with her main Attributes. Chronicles of the New World had 14 main Attributes, but only 12 of them were displayed, and rather than a number each Attribute had a letter next to it. The Attributes were Strength, Endurance, Constitution, Agility, Dexterity, Speed, Intelligence, Wisdom, Creativity, Charisma, Focus and Luck.
        Chloe frowned, noticing all of her Attributes were rated H except Creativity, which was rated G, and Luck, which was rated I. She knew that the ratings went from A to I, with A being the highest rating. H seemed to be what each Attribute started at, except for Luck which was understandably treated differently from other Attributes, but Chloe wondered why her Creativity was a G?
        Next to each Attribute was a - sign and a + sign, and she could see that she had 20 points to assign. The minus signs were greyed out, which meant she couldn’t lower any of her stats, but she could probably get the points back if she decided to change how she used them.
        Chloe had already decided she was going to go for a fighting type class, so she immediately put 5 points into Strength. For the rest, Chloe was confused about the difference between Endurance and Constitution, as well as Agility and Dexterity. She tried tapping the Attribute, but nothing happened, so she tried a long press, and a brief description popped up.

Endurance represents your ability to withstand pain and hardship. A high endurance will increase your ability to survive in harsh environments.

Constitution represents the overall health and function of your body. A high constitution will contribute to hardiness and recovery.

        So, Endurance affected defense, while Constitution seemed to affect health. While considering, Chloe also pressed on the other Attributes she was unsure of.

Agility represents your flexibility and ability to move your body. A high agility will allow for complex movements and contortions.

Dexterity represents your fine motor skills and control. A high dexterity increases your ability to use items with your hands.

Speed represents pure movement speed. A high speed will let you move and act faster, as well as improve your ability to react.

        Chloe had put 5 points in Strength, so she only had 15 left. Thinking about the character build she wanted, Chloe put 4 points into Constitution, 3 each into Agility and Dexterity, and 2 into Speed. Her final 3 points she placed in Luck. A little bit of extra Luck always paid off in RPGs, though it wasn’t something to put too much weight into.
        After this, her Dexterity was now up to G, but none of her other Attributes had increased their rating. Chloe wondered how many points she’d have to put into Strength to increase its rating, but didn’t feel it was worth it to experiment. Clearly there were some underlying values that affected her stats, probably related to her species.
        The next thing Chloe had to choose were her special Traits. There were a couple hundred of them to choose from, and their explanations were somewhat general. There was no specific mention of their affect on stats or gameplay. The description for Sword Talent was just, You have a natural talent for Swords. Other Traits were equally as descriptive. There were both positive and negative Traits, and Chloe could choose three positive Traits. For each negative Trait she chose, she could add an additional positive Trait, but negative ones included things like Blind or Deaf, which were essentially considered the same level as Facial Tick.
        Deciding not to risk messing up her character, Chloe just chose the three Traits that seemed most interesting or fun to play with. She chose Nocturnal, figuring it would give her a bonus at night. She chose Balance to help her keep her feet in combat. Lastly she chose Curiosity because it was considered a positive Trait, and it was something she was familiar with in life.
        With that, her character was complete, except for a name. In Chronicles, a character could choose a given name, a family name, and one or more middle names. Two characters could share a given name or family name, but the combination of given name and family name had to be unique. In addition, you could set a nickname that was completely different from your character name.
        Chloe chose to call her character Lyric a’Laaren, setting her middle name, and nickname as Musette. Luckily her name wasn’t taken. That was a worry, with an install base of nearly 100 million players across the world. Of course, not all of them would be starting right at launch, but with the time she’d spent in the tutorial and character creator she certainly wasn’t going to be one of the first to get into the game.
        The last thing Chloe had to do, was choose her starting locale. A large map of the world of Valia spread out before her, with around 100 glowing dots on it. Chloe knew that starting locations were somewhat limited by what species you chose. Most of the starting locations were large cities, able to house hundreds of thousands of players, but this was not true for all of them. If a smaller location was filled, it would be removed from the available starting locations.
        The starting locations were spread across the 5 continents of the world, as well as various islands. They had different environments, governments and cultures. If you tapped one of the glowing dots, you’d get a zoomed view of the location and a description of the city and the country it was a part of. Chloe had already decided on her starting location however.
        The descriptions of several locations had been revealed in the special preview a month before the game’s release, and Chloe had easily chosen to start in Arkeport. It was located on the southwestern continent, and she tapped the area she remembered it to be to bring up its description.

Arkeport is an independent mercantile city that sits at the meeting of the large river Eryth and the smaller river Saen. More importantly, it sits at the place where four separate countries meet: Feylan Pestoral, The Devan Kingdom, Arianed and The Makit Imperial State. Arkeport maintains its independence not through military might, but primarily because none of the four countries that surround it are willing to allow any of the others to possess it. Due to its location, Arkeport, and the Governor-General, controls most trade along the River Eryth. It also facilitates trade and diplomacy for its neighboring countries.
Arkeport is a thriving metropolis and cultural melting pot, with top level commercial and financial development, as well as a high level of technological development. It also has above average cultural development. However, despite the fact it is ruled by a Governor-General, its military development is relatively weak.
Advantages: Any species or race can start here. Large variety of weapons, armor and items available. Large number of class trainers. Reputation and quest opportunities from multiple countries.
Disadvantages: High cost of living. Negative reputation propagates with greater speed and distance. Less hunting in home territory, requires entering other countries through border checkpoints.

        The largest advantage to Arkeport was that anyone could start there, making it easy to meet up with friends. Of course, there were other starting cities with this advantage, but Arkeport also sat on a river. The world of Valia was large, only slightly smaller than the Earth at roughly 23,000 miles around. Starting in a port town would make travel to other areas quicker.
In addition, Arkeport was one of the larger starting cities, occupying more than 55mi2 of territory. Part of that was taken up by the two rivers that ran right through it, which were spanned by multiple bridges. It would still take several hours to walk from one edge of the city to the other, which meant there would be more to do in town than there would be in smaller cities. There were also access to quests from the other four countries, and access to what would probably be the best weapons and armor for a while.
Confirming her selection of Arkeport as her starting city, Chloe completed character creation, but there was still a surprise waiting for her.

Congratulations! You have fully explored the Island of Tutoria and received a minor reward from the gods. Please say, “Stop”, when you are ready.

Below the message was a spinning image with changing icons on it. It was spinning too fast for Chloe to really tell what the icons were, so she just yelled out, “Stop”, after about 20 seconds.

~Daa-Da-Da!~ “You have been gifted the foot armor Knee-High Reinforced Boots! Please enjoy your new life in the world of Valia.”

The feminine voice faded out, as the world around her appeared to fade in….

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