[Are you sure that this is how you want to look? Be very sure, because you won't be able to adjust your looks without rare items.]
With confidence, Zack checked yes.
He then felt his point of view rise from where it had been before, and felt the weight on his feet return, and his nose was now prominently where it should be again.
He stretched his new body, that same satisfying feeling he had felt earlier permeating throughout his body for a time before the loading icon on the wall disappeared, a brief string of text now claiming his attention.
[You will now enter the Pneumascape.]
As soon as he finished reading the notification, another brilliant pillar of golden light enveloped him, and when the momentary blindness subsided, Zack found himself in complete darkness. The ground beneath his bare feet was smooth, and lacked any distinct temperature.
With a curious gaze, he turned his head left to right, looking for a source of light. After briefly looking around, he watched as a single flower bloomed out of the pitch black ground.
It was entirely white and had a soft azure glow to it. Soon after the first flower bloomed, Zack watched as the ground became distinct from the sky, as flowers sprouted in abundance as if he was watching a time lapse video.
Now, the sky was pitch-black, but the ground could be made out in great detail. The ground had become a matte black and appeared to have a grainy texture, similar to dirt.
However, the sprouting flowers had left a path for him to follow, and the ground that made the path was still pitch-black. The land was hilly, and he couldn't see where the path led from where he stood. Looking around the other worldly scenery, he turned his attention to the ground the flowers were on.
He stepped onto the ground where the flowers had sprouted, careful not to step on one since he admired their beauty. And just as it looked, it even felt like dirt. He then moved back onto the pitch-black ground, and felt the small clumps of dirt clinging to his foot disappear. He felt odd standing on that pitch-black surface, feeling as though he should be falling.
With a short sigh and the shrug of his shoulders, Zack looked around the clearing before walking down the path that the ethereal flowers had left open. It was narrow but allowed him space to occasionally take a wide step when needed.
After a short while, when the clearing was no longer within view, he heard a feminine voice with no discernable source.
"Young man, why do you fight? For what reason do you toil away day by day?" it said without emotion.
The question caught him off guard. Last time he heard no voice, he only followed the path for around five minutes, the scenery changing as he walked.
All the artificial intelligence within the game could respond and make choices like a real human could according to what he knew, so Zack pondered on how he should answer.
He thought while walking, and he lost track of time as he thought. Unlike last time, the scenery didn't change as he continued walking.
"I fight for a better future, to live a life worth living."
He declared his answer loudly, having stopped walking to wait for a response. He waited for a short while and received no reply, but he turned his attention to his surroundings when he saw a flicker of movement.
Slowly, more plants grew, the same ethereal white as the flowers. Bushes appeared sparsely throughout the area, and blades of grass began sprouting.
The grass did not hide the ground beneath, and unlike the bushes and flowers it did not glow. He continued watching, and saw tree seedlings sprout as well. They stood out amongst the flowers, their azure glow even more radiant.
With no questions being asked, Zack continued his walk, sure of the fact that he would hear that voice again. As he continued down the path, he watched the seedlings grow into saplings.
Sure enough, he heard another inquiry from the feminine voice as he continued onwards. "What do you fear? What makes this life so unpleasant?" it asked with intrigue.
Zack's impeccable poker face faltered for an instant, the change in tone coming as a surprise. He didn't have to think long for this question though.
"The thought of growing old. Dishonest people, ones that lie solely to put down others. Not to mention the willfully ignorant, those that would turn a blind eye to those in need despite having the means to help. These things are the reason life is so unpleasant."
There was great conviction in his voice, but the disembodied voice replied in earnest a few seconds after he had finished his answer.
"These things make life unpleasant, but do you fear growing old? Do you fear dishonesty? Are those that choose to be ignorant really so scary? You know deep down the march of time is inevitable. You know that those that lie seek to gain something, and you know the willfully ignorant are much the same. Tell me young man, what is it that you truly fear?"
A chill went down his spine, this NPC gave off some eerie vibes. Zack had interacted with the final announcement NPCs, and they were smart, almost human even! But this one. . . Something was off about this one.
Wiping the cold sweat off his forehead, Zack suddenly noticed an indecipherable feeling. It was familiar, but he couldn't explain it. He looked around, his eyes darting left to right, and saw nothing. With a shake of his head, he replied to the voice.
"What dishonest people could do, ruining the things that I hold dear. And those that feign ignorance, how they perpetuate the damage of dishonest people. And the thought of losing everything, like my friends and family; growing old and having lost sight of what truly matters. These are the things that I fear."
The feminine voice hummed in response, the once monotone voice having become more human. "That. . . Is your answer, young man?"
Zack nodded in response, saying "Yes, that's my answer."
With no response for a fair amount of time, Zack began walking again. His surroundings changed, and emerald hues began accompanying the azure one.
The sprouts had quickly grown into large trees of various types, and the bushes sprouted various types of flowers, none of which matched the first variety of flowers to bloom.
Stretching his arms as he walked, Zack took notice of something on the horizon. It was the black marble platform. With a slight chuckle, he picked up his pace, and ran to the platform, adjusting his gait every so often to avoid discomfort.
It only took a minute, but when he arrived in front of the platform he was panting heavily. "Fucks sake, I need to go to the gym again. . . Damn membership is practically draining my account right now," he said to no one in particular.
Shaking his hair out of his face and straightening his posture, he walked up the steps and saw an ethereal white crystal orb floating above the center of the marble platform. Looking around, he noticed the absence of the class selection pedestals and walked up to the crystal.
With no real pointers, he instinctively reached out and touched the large orb.
From the place his hand resided, soft emerald winds began blowing, cooling his still heated forehead. He enjoyed the breeze briefly before pulling back and seeing that his hand had left an emerald print on the white crystal.
And from the print, the ethereal white crystal slowly changed to match, tendrils of the emerald hue branching off to encompass the orb.
Soon after changing entirely, emerald winds began circling the orb, leaving behind glimmering dots of energy as they moved all around the crystal.
"You are a compassionate individual, and as such you've awakened the power of wind within."
Zack turned his head to face the voice coming from behind him, and saw an orb of multicolored light floating behind him.
It moved towards the center, going just above the soft emerald winds emanating from the crystal. Before any questions could be asked, pedestals rose from the ground all along the circumference of the circular platform.
A golden light shone upward in a column from the base of them, and within the light, holograms of Zack's character appeared, each holding a variety of different weapons or shields. And they were all equipped in various commoner clothing.
Two of them stood out in particular to Zack, one wearing a plain looking robe with a book in hand, and one with a plain looking set of clothes and a sword at its hip. They represented the Elemental Sorcerer and Swordsman class respectively.
"Choose the role you wish to fulfil in this life, young man."
Zack already knew his choice, but took the time and went up to each hologram, listening to the now familiar voice explain their basic features.
Occasionally he'd pry for more detailed information, and have his curiosity sated. And, after going through all the classes, he turned his eyes to a certain pedestal before speaking.
"I choose to be a swordsman!"