[Cordial Chords] Prologue + Part 1

It's January, which means... exam month for me and no free time to work on translations and stuff :'(

Luckily, I prepared some translations in advance to have something to release during our downtime. And since I got one more exam down yesterday, I feel like it's time to celebrate by making use of that modest translation stock. While we haven't made a formal announcement about working on Cordial Chords (because I didn't expect to finish it before my exams due to uni being too OP and didn't want to raise too many expectations), I had been slowly working on it in December and translated a couple of parts.

Since I'm only like 1/4 done with it by now and we don't really have much of anything else that's ready for release (and because people keep asking who's going to do this side story), we'll be releasing Cordial Chords in parts, rather than the whole thing at once. I still have one more exam next Monday, after which I'll be able to return to translating (and gaming... and maybe wiki work... depends on how exhausted I am after my exams). I hope that we'll be able to release part 2 shortly after my last exam to celebrate the end of my semi-yearly-torture, but I can't give any guarantees. Until then, enjoy this small appetiser (yes, I'm using British English spelling variants!).

Italic text is Engrish (English written in katakana).

Any feedback is appreciated.

-Gsimenas

Credits

Raws:: Mttblue2
Translation: Gsimenas
Editing: Pryun



N/A


Cordial Chords


Gently, my fingers entwined with the chestnut hair, shining due to the early summer sunlight filtering through the trees.

A smooth sensation, as if they were streaming through my fingertips like liquid. Beads of light moved rhythmically as each piece of extremely thin hair slid down. All of this could not be completely reproduced in a VR world, no matter how high-end it was.

In older generation non-FullDive games, CG designers had exercised their ingenuity with methods of expressing their character's hair; by the beginning of the 2020s, they had already reached a level where everything seemed to be in place. However, the debut of the NerveGear brought about new challenges. In a virtual world that supported all five senses, hair needed not only to be beautiful to look at, but the appropriate tactile sensation needed to be felt as well.

Generating every single piece of the hundreds of thousands of hair on a real person as lines of polygons wasn't realistic. Even in older-generation games, hair was created in fin-shaped parts; it seems that this achieved a hair-like texture. However, if this method were to be used in a FullDive environment, it would create a big issue when hair was touched. Both the movement and sensation of the hair would be more like that of a thin film rather than a collection of small fibres.

Kayaba Akihiko, the creator of the NerveGear and SAO, handled the so-called three big hurdles of the FullDive environment: 《liquids》, 《food》, and 《hair》 by simply invoking preset sensation data, rather than using real time rendering. For example, if you shoved your hand into water, you'd feel the splashing, as well as the chilliness and resistance of the water, but all of it was just a combination of preset data; it did not completely follow the movements of the hand. The same applied to the sensation of chewing food, as well as the sensation of touching hair.

As for vision, it seems that rendering was used as best as possible, but, as could be expected, each piece of hair wasn't an individual object, instead, they were organised in very small, but film-shaped parts. So, you couldn't expect them to flow as freely as this. The same restraint was handed down to all titles following the current 《The Seed》 standards.

As I absent-mindedly thought about such things, my fingertips restlessly continued playing with the hair, when——

"Mm…………"

A faint voice came out and the owner of the hair started moving around.

Although she had been in deep sleep with her head on my lap, it seemed that she had awoken, perhaps because of the sunlight falling on her face. After blinking several times, she focused on my face, then looked around.

At that point, perhaps having finally realised what posture she was in,

"Wawah……"

She attempted to jump up to her feet, but I lightly pushed her back down with my fingers that had been touching her hair just moments ago, now placed on around the second button of her blouse.

"There's still twenty minutes of lunch break left, so sleep a bit longer, Asuna."

"B-but……"

"Come on, didn't Kurahashi-sensei tell you that neuron spine regeneration will be faster if you get tons of sleep?"

"I believe that was referring to sleeping on my own bed at night……"

Despite muttering this, Asuna's body relaxed and her head once again leaned on my lap.

The higher vocational school in Nishitōkyō that we were attending, commonly known as the 《survivor school》, had an excessively large campus for the number of pupils attending it. Moreover, the campus had a strangely complicated structure and there were not so few places that were rather hard to reach if you didn't know how in advance.

This small green zone, surrounded by the clubroom building and the library building was one of them; the route to it seemed like one of those that lead to hidden maps in games: after climbing up to the second floor of the clubroom building, you had to descend the exterior stairs and pass through openings in the hedge. Visiting it for a lunch break that only lasts fifty minutes incurred quite the cost in travel time, but we managed to catch the byakudan tree growing in the center of the green zone in full bloom, with loads of lovely, purplish red flowers blooming.

According to Asuna, a byakudan is an evergreen tree from India and it is apparently staggeringly rare to see such a big byakudan tree in Japan. I'm told that it's a 《hemi-parasitic plant》and, apparently, a byakudan can't grow big unless it leeches off the roots of a neighbouring tree with its own roots about a year after it sprouts.

It seems that the byakudan tree in this school's green zone was parasitising a nearby Taiwan nemunoki(1), but the byakudan looked like a completely different tree. I hadn't even heard of its name until Asuna shared it with me, but when I was told that it's called 《sandalwood》 in English, I finally understood what it was. Speaking of sandalwood, it was one of the five S-class aromatic trees in SAO—— the other four were cinnamon, benzoin, myrrh, and agarwood—— and we had even drunk tea from cups made out of such a tree.

For byakudans in the real world, apparently only the heartwood of its trunk had the nice scent, while the flowers practically have no aroma. Nevertheless, seeing as Asuna was a person who loved rare sights of nature, this spot seemed to be quite exciting to her and she had been visiting this less than ten metres in all directions green zone quite frequently since we discovered it.

Today—— 7th of May, 2026, was the first day after the Golden Week, so perhaps because of that, I received an invitation email to come here the moment the lunch break started. The survivor school employed a credit-based system, but separation by school year was a thing; I was in the second year, while Asuna was in the third, thus we met up at the entrance of the clubroom building and when we absentmindedly looking up at the sky together after having lunch on the lawn in this green zone, Asuna suddenly fell asleep on my lap.

In this green zone, which Asuna dubbed as the 《secret garden》, aside from the byakudan and Taiwan nemunoki, there were various trees growing in the periphery; these trees were blocking off the view from the windows of the clubroom building and the library. There were practically no weeds growing here and the lawn was growing verdantly, thus there was undoubtedly someone taking care of it, but in the one month since we started frequenting this garden, we had never seen anyone else here.

I've felt signs that Lisbeth, who was in the same year as Asuna, had been getting suspicious, thus we'll likely need to tell her about this place in the near future, but for just a bit longer…… at least, until Asuna's wounds from the series of events have healed, I'd like treasure the spot that only we know about, and our time here.

I strongly wished for this, while stroking Asuna's hair even more sneakily than before as she once again dozed off.


1

The wearable multi-device called the《Augma》 was distributed to all pupils at the Survivor School mid-April.

The developer/distributor of it was a rising ICT enterprise known as Kamura. The fact that a company founded in the 2000s and specialising in SNS games and video streaming services entered the manufacturing industry all of a sudden and began selling an advanced device, which was far smaller and lighter than RECT's AmuSphere, in such large quantities caused an uproar both in the industry and among the users, but the release of the AR game#Ordinal Scale#(OS)》 just as the Augma became available swept away scepticism in no time at all.

Honestly, being a person who loved FullDive games, I couldn't really get into an AR game that required using your physical body in the real world to play; nonetheless, I did have to accept the merits of OS being a thing. Additionally, OS partnered with a great number of enterprises for tie-ups; due to the fact that players could save up points from playing the game and use them in exchange for discounts and complimentary services from the game's partners, it was only natural that it attained tremendous popularity upon release.

Even in ALfheim Online, the number of active users diminished by the day; even my friends, such as Liz, Silica, and Klein, migrated to OS—— though, that way of wording it feels weird, as it isn't a VR world—— and tried to drag me in (or drag out) at every opportunity, but the sense of unease I had just wouldn't disappear.

This was because the degree of the Augma's perfection was awfully high.

The fact that its CPU efficiency, storage capacity, and battery capacity was higher than that of the AmuSphere's wasn't strange, considering that it came more than two years later, but it's said that the only company capable of producing an EF matrix panel that is essential to FullDive tech is RECT, who have inherited the tech and expertise from Kayaba Akihiko; the fact that an enterprise that had just entered the industry was capable of developing equivalent tech seemed quite unbelievable even to a first year at highschool such as myself.

Of course, the Augma can only send visual, auditory, and limited tactile signals into the brain, thus, compared to the AmuSphere, which is capable of fully supporting all five senses, it had fewer technical hurdles. On the other hand, the Augma has to maintain a link with the user's brain while they're awake and moving around, hence the tuning required for that should have colossal costs both financially and time-wise.

Just when I, harbouring misgivings about who on earth the person spearheading the development could be, asked Yui, and Kikuoka Seijirou from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to help me investigate this, it was announced.

That the developer of the Augma was Professor Shigemura Tetsuhiro from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Touto Institute of Technology. That is, the person who served as the academic advisor for Kayaba Akihiko and Sugou Nobuyuki.

If that were the case, it probably wouldn't be strange for the guy to be capable of developing a panel on the same level as the one for the NerveGear, yet this did not alleviate my anxiety.

For better or worse, the man named Kayaba Akihiko greatly influenced the people around him; he had the kind of aura that could derail the lives of people. Having brought forth not one, but two major criminals of the century——though, in Sugou's case, the scale was much smaller than Kayaba's—— from his laboratory, Professor Shigemura couldn't be spotless himself.

Regardless of my inability to guess what Shigemura's intentions were with his release of the Augma and Ordinal Scale a year and a half after the end of the SAO Incident, OS was sweeping society with impressive momentum. While SAO did cause enough of an uproar to create huge queues to stores at the time it went on sale, unlike SAO's limited ten thousand copy release, OS was an app that you only needed to download. Right as the game launched, its active user count exceeded hundreds of thousands; the momentum was so great that if it weren't for the shortage of Augmas, it would be only natural to have double or triple the user base.

What surprised me a little was the fact that even Asuna began playing it quite enthusiastically without my notice. I figured that she was invited by Liz and the others and just couldn't refuse, but her ranking number topped that of the others in the group in no time, so I could only admire how the 《Demon of Clearing》 of the Knights of the Blood was alive and well.

While Ordinal Scale branded itself as an ARMMO-RPG, its system was simplified to the extreme. Rather that assigning numerical stats like HP and STR to players, the only numbers displayed were the total of points acquired, the current point balance, and the ranking number, which was calculated based on your point total.

As the title, which meant 《measure of numerical order》, implied, the player's strength was regulated by their ranking number. While there would be barely any difference in your capabilities if you were a player at rank 1000 and fought against one at rank 999, there would be an obvious difference in your ability to take a hit and your offensive capabilities if you were pitted against a player at rank 900 instead, and you practically wouldn't have a chance against one at rank 500.

In that case, it would seem that once someone beat you in ranking, there would never be a chance to turn the tables again, but that's where the ARMMO came in; in PvP, the player's own endurance and reflexes were a huge factor. No matter how great your offensive ability was, it was meaningless if your sword couldn't land a hit, while players specialising in running could just run around till their enemy eventually runs out of breath. If you continued winning in PvP through stamina, your ranking would also go up rapidly.

However, if that's all there was to it, young and sporty players would have too much of an advantage——though, seeing as it's an AR game, that would essentially be the case no matter what you did——thus, there were other means of earning points steadily, such as by defeating monsters and picking up items in town. Asuna herself went up the ranking to the 3,000s in two weeks through only monster battles and item collection, basically avoiding PvP altogether, so all I could say was 'that's just like her'.

On the other hand, I was still loitering in the 100,000s even at the end of April. I was prepared to stay like this until the boom cooled off, when I—— no, Asuna and I were struck by that incident.

Floor Bosses from Old Aincrad that began to appear in Ordinal Scale's limited time event battles.

Eiji, the rank 2 player, appearing before us.

Asuna's and Klein's memory loss, and the final battle at the New National Stadium——

Professor Shigemura Tetsuhiro's goal was to revive Yuuna, his only daughter, who had lost her life in SAO, as a digital ghost. Using the Augma to scan the memories regarding Yuuna from the survivors of SAO, he was attempting to create an AI with the memories and personality of Yuuna based on that enormous lifelog.

The plan was almost successful; the professor succeeded in creating an AI with his daughter's personality and limited memories. This AI that we dubbed as 《White Yuna》, however, due to being bestowed a virtuous personality, attempted to stop the final stage of the plan that could kill a large number of SAO survivors.

Surprisingly, Ordinal Scale was operating on the old SAO server that was left behind beneath Argus's office, while White Yuna was running based on the language engine of Aincrad's hundredth floor boss——the final boss that was supposed to appear in the original SAO before Kayaba Akihiko took over.

My friends and I defeated the final boss with Yuna's help, stopping Professor Shigemura's fearsome plan. However, as the final boss's language engine was reset, White Yuna also vanished into nothingness.

The memories stolen from Asuna and Klein were recovering bit by bit as their scanned neuron #dendrites#(spines) regenerated, seemingly putting an end to the incident.

But even now, eight days since that battle, there were two small thorns still gnawing at my mind.

The first was Shigemura Yuuna's childhood friend, the person who was with Yuuna when she died in Aincrad and thus helped with the professor's plan - Eiji.

The other was the AR idol and image character of Ordinal Scale that had the exact same face as White Yuna, but had an entirely different personality - 《Black Yuna》——

Using an exosuit that greatly strengthened his movement capabilities, Eiji, aka Nochizawa Eiji, sent all the members of Klein's guild, Fuurinkazan, to hospital. Actually hitting and kicking other players in an AR game PvP was clearly a crime of inflicting bodily injury. Two days after our battle at the New National Stadium, he turned himself in to a police officer at Yoyogi and is still being detained as of this moment, six days later. Klein and the others weren't going to file a report "about something in-game", thus it was quite questionable whether he was going to be prosecuted.

As for #Black Yuna#(Kuroi Yuna)——these days, we shorten it a bit to 《Kuro Yuna》—— she was still working as an AR idol even now.

Although she was also an AI, that didn't mean she possessed a super high-grade language engine, unlike White Yuna. As her personality program and desires were both simple, it was unlikely for her to commit anything bad of her own accord, yet for this very reason, when I happen to see her singing innocently, I feel a little sting inside my chest.

I was unlikely to meet either Eiji or Kuro Yuna anymore.

However, I still feel that the thorns stuck inside me won't be removed so easily.


N/A


Notes

1. ^ The Japanese name for Albizia procera, a species of silk trees.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you very much Gsi. It was nice reading. Hope to see next part soon, once you're done with your exams. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the translation..
    So this part is after ordinal scale right?
    By any chance, do you have the ordinal scale one and Yuna/Yuji backstory?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This story takes place around 3 days after Ordinal Scale, yes.

      Are you referring to Hopeful Chant? It's on this blog. http://dreadfuldecoding.blogspot.com/p/hopeful-chant.html

      Delete