Pantheon Online

C.3 - Game StartFeb 28, 2023

Several hours before Pantheon Online Beta Test launch…

Standing on the highest mountain, a solitary figure could be seen. He looked out over the world before him, smiling as he watched the NPC's go about their daily business. He was incredibly proud of what they had managed to create here, and he could not wait to share it with the world. 'I can't wait to see this world come alive.' He thought.

The cold wind swept at his clothing, making him shiver. He still could not get used to how real this world felt. It was simply exhilarating. His vision zoomed in to give him a clear view of the nearest NPC village. He was patiently waiting for the last NPC to reach its designated position within its programming.

For the past year, every one of them had followed a strict set of instructions to build up the world. From an NPC's point of view, millenniums had passed in this world. That was all about to change in just a few minutes.

"System. Activate Memory Implantation Procedure." The man quietly said to absolutely nobody.

"Process complete." Replied a woman's voice from the sky.

The man nodded in satisfaction. Basically, this procedure would upload videos of everything each model had done to act as their own independent memories. His eyes narrowed, and he began to count down as the last model was almost in place.

"System. Activate AI Personality Procedure. Followed by Living World Program."

"This process can not be stopped once implemented. Do you wish to proceed?" The woman's voice replied.

"Yes." The man smiled, knowing that this was the moment his masterpiece would finally unleash its full potential. Like a proud parent, he watched to capture the exact moment that it happened.

"Procedure complete in 5…4…3…2…1…"

There it was! The man gave a little jump in excitement. He had expressly set his sights on the NPC set to receive their personality first before the system would roll it out to all the others simultaneously.

The man's footsteps suddenly came to a halt as he looked around in confusion. It was as if a profound change had just happened to this NPC, but he had no idea what it was.

A fraction of a second later, a similar sight could be seen happening to every NPC within the game world. The man on the mountain suddenly got goosebumps as he witnessed the NPC's beginning to act naturally. If he did not know any better, he could have easily mistaken them for actual human beings.

"It's alive…" He whispered to the wind before disappearing in a burst of golden light.

In the snow-covered, rugged terrain of the Northern Continent, a particular NPC came to life. Her name was Ania Eraldsen. At this point in time, she was a young sixteen-year-old girl. Her hair was long and silver in colour. Blue streaks ran through it from her roots to the tips. Her eyes were a breathtaking shade of blue, similar to the colour of a sapphire.

She turned her head left and right in puzzlement. Just like everyone else, she had felt a sudden change without knowing exactly what it was. The biting cold winds of the North lashed her exposed skin. With a slight shiver, she drew her warm fur coat tighter around her body. She looked at the wooden bucket in her other hand. A hint of resentment flashed across her features.

'Why am I always the one that has to fetch the water?' Ania began to question herself. 'Wait. Why am I only thinking about this just now?' As far as she could remember, she had always done this daily chore without a word of complaint to her parents. She quickly brushed off this rebellious thought and shrugged her shoulders.

'I don't remember feeling so cold either.' There were a lot of new questions running through her brain right now. Most of all, the one that played on her mind was the matter surrounding her upcoming marriage to Harald. 'Do I really have no choice but to marry him?' 𝘧𝗿ee𝚠𝙚𝙗𝑛o𝚟𝐞l.𝐜૦𝗺

Her mind conjured the image of a six-foot-tall, bulky man with long brown hair. In all of her memories of him, he appeared to be cold and distant. In fact, she could not remember ever having spoken to the man. This then led to the question of how they had become engaged in the first place. She quickly found a way to rationalise the fact. 'It must be an agreement between my parents and his.'

She continued to think about her soon to be husband as her feet kept sinking into the surrounding snow as she ploughed onwards. There was no risk of her getting lost as she had literally walked this path every day of her life since she was old enough. 'Maybe it won't be so bad? Right? He makes good money from the raids he goes on, and he's a fine warrior.' 𝗳𝒓𝚎e𝚠𝒆𝐛𝐧𝐨v𝚎Ɩ.co𝓶

The more she thought about it, the more she began to accept the idea. 'In any case, if it turns out to be worse than I fear it could. Well… There's a good chance he'll die young on one of the raids.' This thought brought a smile to her face, making her feel warm inside.

'That's right. Marriage isn't forever. It's just until one of us dies. Let's face it, what danger will I ever be in? This village is in the middle of nowhere. The scariest thing around here is the wildlife.' She was silently elated at the secure thought of definitely being able to outlive Harald. She could always find a more appropriate partner after his funeral.

Unknown to Ania, three men silently followed her in the woods to the left of the path. She had no reason to be vigilant, so why would she check to see if she were being followed?

"When are we going to do this, Harald?" One of the men whispered to the exact same Harald that Ania was daydreaming about.

"Soon, it will take her another ten minutes to reach the river. By then, she will definitely be out of earshot of the others in the village." Harald chuckled sinisterly in response.

"How much do you think we'll get for her?" The third man asked in excitement.

"She's quite the beauty." Harald rubbed his beard in deep thought. "If we sell her in Korden, we'll at least get fifteen gold, I reckon."