…no, not in that way.
In the Land of Leadale is a light novel published in English by Yen Press. In this story, Keina is a girl who had unfortunately been involved in a bad accident and spent her days on life support in a hospital. Her main solace is being able to play the VRMMO Leadale, where she establishes herself as one of the game’s top players. However, one day, a blackout takes her off life support long enough to end her life, and she finds her soul now in the body of her game character, the high elf “Cayna,” in the world of Leadale… 200 years after when the game itself takes place. Now she must see how much things have changed while trying to figure out what she wants to do with her new life.
Overall, it is a fairly laid-back VRMMO-flavored isekai slice-of-life. There are no major conflicts, and no real overarching plot beyond Cayna trying to find the “towers” of other high-level players from when Leadale was still a game. Otherwise, she just helps out people around her and does things to improve their lives. It might not suit those who are looking for a “serious” story, but if you enjoy other laid-back light novels, it is a fine read.
There is one element, though, that I do find quite interesting, and is definitely the biggest highlight of this story and probably the main thing that makes it stand out among other similar novels. While Cayna’s prospects for finding other fellow players is not good, she does find out that she is not alone in the world. After all, despite having zero romantic interests (as of the first volume), she does have three children…
When Leadale was still a game, Cayna had allowed three of her sub-characters to be used as official NPCs in the game. This required said sub-characters to have some kind of “connection” to her player character, so she designated them as her “children” (two “birth” children, one adopted). Because her “children” were also all of long-lived races, they are still alive, but now they are actual living beings with their own wills, and all of them still recognize Cayna as their mother and hold quite a lot of affection for her. For Cayna, though, this puts her in the awkward position of being mentally a 17-year-old single girl… with three grown, loving children (with the oldest one’s love being particularly fanatic). At the same time, they definitely are a big support to her, at a time when she definitely needs to not feel alone.
It is an interesting thought to think about: What if the characters you create in a video game came to life, and recognized you as their parent? A lot of video games offer a lot of character customization, from visual appearance to their stats and skills. And, of course, over the course of the game we go on to “write” their story within the game, particularly in games that allow a variety of story or relationship choices. (And that’s to say nothing of the story we write for them in our heads.) If such characters became real people with their own wills, would we take some kind of “parent/child” relationship with them?
The interesting thing is, if you think about it, this sort of “character creation” is actually pretty close to God’s relationship with us as His “children.” Psalm 139 talks about how God “created” us, to the point where He knows everything about us, much like how a gamer knows everything about the character they make. One notable difference, though, is that after creating us, He then gives us the will to act in our own way, even if it is in disobedience to Him. Of course, that makes things all the more similar to the situation with Cayna and her children, who are not under her player control anymore but still recognize her as their mother.
And the more I think about it, the more I realize how amazing it is that God wants the loving “father/child” relationship that He does with us. As God and as our Creator, he has every right to control our every action, like a gamer does with their in-game character, but instead, He wants us to have our own wills and to seek that relationship with Him out of our own love. This is all some serious food for thought to come from this one part of the story.
So overall, In the Land of Leadale‘s first volume is a decent read with one particularly interesting aspect, and I do hope future volumes continue to show the relationship Cayna has with her children. If you are interested in giving it a read yourself, it is available from Yen Press.