Entering the virtual world this time was a bit different. Instead of emerging into the world rendered as a fantastical virtual scape, Sora and I appeared before a large gate inlaid with elaborate filigree.

 

“Wait just a moment; this is the portal to professor Algrotto’s private server for the class,” said Sora. “You’ve never done this before so just watch me and remember the next time you do this and I’m not here to help out.”

 
So I did watch. I watched and tried to calm my nerves over thinking of doing this without Sora.

 
Sora approached the elaborate Gold and Black colored gate. The portal’s colors swooned within the esoteric material of the gate’s construction as though the gate was but glass containing smoke churned by desperado winds. Sora, or more accurately Sora’a avatar, touched his hand to the gate; responding to his touch, the gate glowed as though illuminated within by a miniature sun. Moving closer to get a better look, I saw Sora use a key-like device he took from the door; he turned the internal mechanism of the lock several times before realizing that he was inputting his name in a vein similar to one of those old telephone landlines, except with a lock and overgrown door rather than a turn-dial. Sora appeared skilled at such an archaic device, however. Inserting the key back into the gate, there was a slight rumble before on the left-hand side of the gate, another keyhole and key appeared and Sora remarked that it was my turn to input my own name.

 
I was pretty nervous as I was afraid that I would take forever incorrectly getting this contraption to open. Sora, however, was patient and talked me through each and every step. After a few minutes of failure, some grunts of frustration on my part, and Sora cooing me into a relaxed state, I finally got it right. The door ‘clicked’ and the key went rigid before slowly receding into the door like a turtle curling into its shell; both of the keys entered the door at the same time before coming to a stop and vanishing within all-together.

 
Before I could think what was to happen next, the large gate swung open. To my surprise, there were several additional layers of gates beyond the initial door. Gates of all shapes and sizes automatically opened, drew up, drew down and sideways, un-tensed and fell into a hidden grate… all this and more, seemingly every kind of gate one could imagine had opened up for us as we slowly entered the portal. It was almost like a comedy sketch from a TV show or old action movie; Sora said, however, that each gate represented a different sort of security system which, had we not been students and had “cheat sheets”, essentially, our names, we would have had to solve individual by entering information or “overriding” the internal code. It sounded tedious and so I was happy we wouldn’t have to do that; I guess mastering an old-timey lock was a fine substitute in lou of overcoming all of that.

 
Walking deeper into the gate and the efflorescent mists beyond, Reno only barely heard Sora say, “Now, to the world map!” before the world went white.

 

 

vmcmx02c
I came from this land. It was an aborted nightmare. Many of my blood brothers perished in an ill-fated attempt to settle the land. Supposedly, this plane can be found within the Eymporium but if so, I have never beheld it.

 

 
Reno emerged into Vingaard in the same aairly fashion as before— suddenly and like he had always been here and only just recently had he woken up, like waking after being put under for an operation. Everything was still beautiful but there was something different this time around, something off. Reno was shamed to admit that it took him a bit longer than usual to figure it out and that ‘out’ was that everything was out of scale. Reno was like a giant.

 
Moving around to get a feel for things, Reno quickly noticed that trees would come up to his knees while buildings, tall towers, and the like just were barely able to scrap his waist. For a fleeting moment, he felt as though a god. In the briefest of instances, he had to refrain from going on a destructive rampage and destroying everything in his wake, like a sort of post-pubescent Godzilla. But, he resisted. No war crimes would be committed today.

 
Turning around, he saw Sora staring at him. He looked amused like he was watching a puppy frolic in the snow for the first time. Reno’s cheeks glowed a bit red. He recovered, though and said, “world map?”

 
“Yup,” said Sora. “You’ve obviously never been on the world map like this before, huh? On the terminal editions of Vingaard, it just appears as a single static continent little different from a map of the continental United States but in this fully-immersive reality edition, you are smack dab in the middle of it.” Sora looked around admiring the attention to detail and to see how far he could see— far, he concluded.

 
“So, let me give you the short run-down: right now, we are in the opening region of the world Dr. Algrotto has designed. I’ve never taken this class with him before, so I am going to discover a lot with you, but these basics I know from other classes. Because we are not hugely tall, God-like titans, we are, in fact, in a region, not a territory—” At this, Reno tried to interrupt to ask questions, but Sora preemptively shut him down with a well-placed hiss which surprised him so much he unconsciously closed his yapper.

 
“The difference between ‘Region’ and ‘Territory’ is as follows: a Region is like a part of a novel; or, because of the nature of Le Morte Darthur, it is better thought of as a ‘book’ of Le Morte Darthur. But, whether you call it ‘book’ or ‘part’ the idea is that a Region encompasses many chapters of a novel. Those chapters, then, are the ‘Territories’. Each Territory holds the basic narrative from the novel it is based on. Once within the Territory, we will be normal sized; this is where our questing and the vast majority of our play-time will be spent when not cycling through our ‘To Do’ list and hoping from Territory to Territory. When we are within a Territory, we should be able to interact with the world to some degree. I do not know for certain as I have never had an Interactive Seminar before with professor Algrotto. Some professors allow for only minimal interaction while others encourage in-depth simulation of just about anything. It depends on their teaching style. Again, I’ve never been in a simulation with Algrotto so I do not know what to expect.”

 
When Sora finally stopped talking, Reno had surprisingly few questions. None, in fact. Sora had explained things concisely and well.

 
“Neat,” Reno replied. “I think I understand. So, what do we do now? Find the first Territory that is associated with the first chapter of Morte?”

 
“Yup! You’re getting the hang of this now” Sora smiled back. “I think that Territory is over there; you can usually infer by the density of the so-called ‘Mists of War’ which surround us. Right now, we are in a fairly shrouded area but over there— see where the sun shines— the mist appears to be thin and the world detailed.”

 
“Cool, let’s go!”

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