Chapter 113 – The Last String (4)
Louise mumbled as Hyun told her to pray.
「A demon… But I’ve never seen one.」
「You definitely have! You’ve seen Keidrial before!」
As time passed, the sun began eating more of the darkness and grew its size.
Hyun felt his heart burning.
「Close your eyes! Pray to anyone!」
Hyun closed his eyes.
Soon, he felt his skin burning.
The sun felt hotter than the fire.
As the light touched her, Louise’s heart began beating faster.
Hyun could feel her pain through «Assimilation».
The pain you felt while trying to hold your breath up to your limit spread through his body.
Thanks to Asrian’s system, the amount of pain you could feel was restricted, so he didn’t even want to imagine how much pain she was feeling at the moment.
To pray, you had to think about a certain Transcendent and remain in a near-subconscious state of mind.
But frustration and pain were interfering with the praying.
Hyun tried his best to get a hold of himself.
—He wanted to go to the Symmetrical World with Louise.
The sight of Louise praying with her eyes closed while crying was recorded by a few cameras.
A weird sensation trapped the people who were watching Louise through the broadcasts.
A desperate and sorrowful smile…
There were two emotions that shouldn’t have been able to coexist on the girl’s face.
Could a human make an expression like that?
The girl praying on the plain under the sun soon disappeared.
* * *
The Heavens lost the war, and Iluna fell under the control of the Abyss.
Even in the previous game, Iluna’s Quest had been a major branching main event.
People talked about how the power between the factions would change.
– Since the Heavens lost Iluna, the Abyss will probably get some advantage.
– There’s probably going to be a change in the available field of activities.
– I guess it will benefit me since I’m part of the Abyss… although I’m not sure in what way it will benefit me.
The results of the war were the same as in the previous game, so guessing what would happen from then on wasn’t hard to do.
But the hottest topics on the community boards weren’t related to Asrian’s history.
The birth of a new superstar!
Salon, a user whose name had previously been known only to a few… Suddenly, there wasn’t anyone in Asrian who didn’t know about him.
Even people who were only interested in PvP were amazed by the battle video.
– As expected. Rather than TarrTarr, Salon is the real combo thief! I always knew he was someone talented.
– As expected from the man who’s called the father of combo Thieves…
– It seems like Salon was ranked 1st in Iluna’s Quest. He almost killed a Reaper, so I guess that was to be expected.
– I almost cried while watching that video.
Salon was already famous for being good at PVE, so no one doubted his abilities.
But there was another reason why his name had become a trending topic…
Salon breaking through the group of monsters that were everywhere…
How he’d protected the NPC girl while biting his lips made many people’s hearts tremble.
The scenes of him running around the city resembled those of a hero that was at the climax of a movie.
That day, Salon had been a hero protecting the Priestess and the main protagonist of the quest.
Among all the threads, there was one that a movie director had participated in.
He was someone famous in the movie industry who had said that the footage had shown him Asrian’s possibilities.
Special effects that went beyond CG, a thrill that makes you clench your fists…
Not only that, but the emotions shown in Salon’s eyes and his movements had been so real that most actors wouldn’t even be able to copy them easily.
What if he made a movie inside the game?
While asking that, the director had ended his thread.
It wasn’t necessary to clarify that Salon’s name had been mentioned numerous times.
Lots of guilds and professional gaming teams sent him an invite, but everyone failed to recruit him.
With a few sentences, Salon replied to everyone.
—He posted a thread in a community he often visited.
「Friends, I thank you for your interest, but I need time to think alone. I think that I’m at the crossroads of whether I’ll be able to progress more or not. I’m sorry, but I will not be active in the communities for a while.」
Among the guilds that sent him invites was one that he’d used to admire.
Back then, he would’ve accepted without thinking twice, but he wasn’t interested anymore.
Two things were messing up his head at the moment:
The first thing was Hyun’s movements…
—He was thinking of how he could make Hyun’s movements his own.
The second thing was the result of his friend request…
Salon was an ambitious man.
If he met Hyun again, he was planning to ask him if he could join his guild.
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In a sense, Hyun owed him, so there was a chance he’d accept his friend request, right?
That was the reason why Salon had refused all the invites.
There was one other hot topic…
Lattice and Ain’s fight became the main topic of numerous communities.
Users who were more interested in PvP than hunting were more excited about the duel that’d happened between those two.
– But the Heavens’ users received a huge buff, right? Doesn’t that mean that Ain had a huge advantage?
—Many users thought that at first.
But they soon realized Ain hadn’t received the Heavenly Being’s buff.
No one knew why, but Ain hadn’t had the shining effect.
When Maria had used all of her ego, Ain had been in the Symmetrical World, but nobody knew that.
No one knew the reason, but Ain’s and Lattice’s fight had occurred with equal conditions.
The result was that people reached the conclusion that Ain had won.
The reason why Ain won the duel between the two by decision was that neither of them had died.
The video of the battle between those two became a textbook for numerous rankers and professional gamers.
Someone posted a full analysis of the details of the battle on a community board.
That thread almost immediately became a trending topic on Reddit.
Translator – Daniel Shin
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
Users who were surprised after watching the broadcast were amazed after learning about the calculations behind each of their movements.
– It’s completely different from a fight in real life. I never thought you’d be able to raise the movement’s effectiveness so much.
– Where are all the guys who used to brag about being Grand masters? Suddenly, all the meaningless strategy guides have disappeared, lol.
– To be honest, shouldn’t anyone be able to copy those with enough practice?
– How many years are you going to practice?
– It’s all okay, but I think it would’ve been an even more interesting match if Lattice’s job was different.
Everyone who had seen the video thought that Ain had the advantage.
But regarding who was more skillful, rather than the discussion dying down, it heated up even more.
Most people thought that they were at similar levels regarding movements, but they thought that Lattice was better in the psychological aspect of the fight.
– Didn’t Ain have a huge job advantage? They both have jobs that do close-range attacks, but her attack range was bigger than his. Not only that, but his freezing skills didn’t work on her. On top of that, she has a movement skill.
Because of how overwhelming Lattice had been up until then, he had many followers.
They couldn’t admit that he had lost.
Their reasoning was similar to the following comment by a ranker who used to be a professional gamer:
「Lattice and Ain’s movements were at the same level.
Lattice had more decisive moments than her.
He had an advantage in the psychological aspect but couldn’t connect that to a decisive attack.
The main reason was that he couldn’t overcome the fatal weakness of the ice element, fire.
The only way Lattice would be able to win against her would be by changing the characteristics of his job completely after the level 200 job ascension.」
This incident increased Ain’s status.
Had his status fallen just because he had lost once?
No one could say that.
It was after the video of the fight had been uploaded…
No one thought Lattice lacked in terms of ‘ability’ compared to Ain.
Except for one person…
* * *
The pot fell to the ground, and its fragments spread to the surroundings.
The man who had thrown the pot breathed heavily while looking at the broken fragments.
—It was Lattice.
Suddenly, someone opened the door and entered the room. The person flinched after looking at the messed-up surroundings.
When they approached the broken flower pot, Lattice mumbled.
“Just leave it like that.”
The door soon closed, and Lattice was left alone again.
The first duel he’d had with Ain…
The decisive moments of the fight flashed through his mind.
He couldn’t even count how many times he’d thought of those scenes.
Why was he angry?
It wasn’t that he was angry with Ain but with himself. He’d made a fool of himself to the entire world.
‘If I’d been more careful with the timing while using the Ultimate Attack, I would’ve won.’
Some scenes had been deeply imprinted into his mind.
‘I could’ve sealed the hole the moment I cut the floor… If I had cut a little bit deeper while in the air, I could’ve won…! I had three opportunities to win!’
He just couldn’t get over those scenes.
He had gone through them so many times that he probably would dream about them.
Whenever Lattice recalled how many times he could’ve won, he thought he would go crazy.
And then, he began having another doubt…
‘Could I have really won…?’
Lattice read an analysis another ranker had done about his fight.
Usually, he wasn’t interested in what people posted on the community boards, but as long as it said how to overcome his weakness, he didn’t care.
Maybe someone had found a way he hadn’t thought about.
But after reading that thread, Lattice had laughed out loud and closed his notebook.
It wouldn’t be of help reading the post of someone who clearly didn’t know anything.
‘I was better in the psychological aspect of the battle? That’s exactly where I was pushed off…!’
From start to finish, she’d just brushed off the attacks.
Only four out of tens of attacks had been able to go through her defense, but none of them had managed to pierce her heart.
It seemed like the people saying he had been better in the psychological aspect had only seen those four attacks.
At that moment, Lattice felt that he was hitting an unbreakable wall.
Why had he experienced so much trouble in finding a weak point?
He gave himself a self-diagnosis of the situation after a while.
‘The difference in movements was too big.’
Lattice knew about most of the movements that Asra users used.
He thought he had learned all the movements that had previously existed before he’d reached level 100.
—But that wasn’t the case.
The opponent still used those movements, but they were at a different level.
Sometimes she even used movements that he couldn’t even understand, they seemed impossible.
You couldn’t use a sword to fight an opponent who had a gun.
If he didn’t research more about the movements used in Asra, even if he fought her again, things would probably end the same way.
‘Then, the job…’
The most important thing was to improve on the basic things, but he had to think of what he could do to win once they were at the same level.
Lattice had picked ice-related skills because it had an advantage over most of the jobs.
Of course, he knew that, against some, he would be at a great disadvantage.
But he’d never thought there would be a job that was the perfect counter against his!
If it was just a Magician who used flames, he should be able to overcome the opponent.
But an opponent who lit her body on fire and specialized in close-range battle was another thing. Ain had been the most difficult user he had faced yet.
‘I need to do something.’
After the battle with Ain, Lattice changed his view on jobs.
You didn’t need to have an advantage over everyone.
Just having a moderate advantage or disadvantage against everyone was good enough.
He’d thought that he would’ve been able to overcome a little bit of disadvantage.
—Even if he were to face those who had ruled over the previous game!
Lattice thought about the information he had on Ain.
Had she played for about five years?
He had to admit that it was a long time.
But with his talent, he could probably catch up to her soon.
Yes, he would probably catch up to her by the time he completed the second job ascension.
He just needed to practice more until then.
Lattice immersed himself deep into his thoughts.
He began thinking of a way to make up for that day’s shame…
And he began thinking on how to reach the peak once more.