Chapter 114 – Following the Shadow (1)
Ain got up the moment Louise disappeared from the screen.
If the person to whom the Support was «Assimilating» disappeared, the Support would either die alone or die with them.
Ain was worried about Hyun dying.
‘He’s still logged in!’
Hyun and Ain had registered each other as friends through the capsule.
Ain’s eyes shone after checking the status of his account.
According to his status, he hadn’t died yet!
Then, where had he gone?
Because the broadcast had ended, she had no way to check where Louise and Hyun were.
AIN: Hyun… Are you alive? Ain carefully asked.
But there was no answer.
She asked several times because she was worried.
But still, there wasn’t an answer.
Hyun couldn’t hear Ain’s voice.
The reason was that his consciousness had fallen to a low state due to «Pray».
Hyun’s soul was in the middle of a sea of darkness.
No, maybe it was actually Louise’s state.
He couldn’t feel pain anymore.
All of his senses were blocked, and he felt that only his thoughts were floating around.
Was that how it would feel to float around in space?
Hyun tried to return to his senses.
But every time he did that, he felt his heart getting hotter, so he lowered his consciousness again.
Was the sun still hurting Louise?
Louise’s pain probably couldn’t be compared to what he felt.
He didn’t want to awaken those senses.
After a while…
He wasn’t sure how much time had passed.
A few minutes…? Maybe it was a few seconds.
Because his consciousness was in a lower state, the barrier between reality and game was crumbling little by little.
Hyun transposed the situation into reality and began thinking on it.
Yes, Louise was definitely different from the rest of the NCPs.
From the moment he’d seen her at the Twilight Temple, there was something he considered strange.
Among all the NPCs he’d seen, why was it that only Louise felt special?
Even if it was a game with sensory synchronization, NPCs were different from real people.
—Their weirdly misaligned emotions weren’t perfect.
But Louise seemed to have something that the rest of the NPCs didn’t…
It wasn’t just feelings, but something else…
As time went by, Louise’s death was probably getting closer.
What if Louise disappeared?
Once he came back to his senses, there was the possibility that he’d be left alone.
As he heard Louise’s voice in his subconscious, Hyun suddenly became afraid.
「I can’t see anything.」
Her voice that he could hear through the soul was weak as if it were about to disappear.
But Louise didn’t stop and kept whispering.
「If I can… I want to leave everything that I am to you.」
At that moment…
He received a system message.
Neither Hyun nor Louise had planned it out, but the job ascension quest was suddenly proceeding.
[Louise fully recognizes you!]
[Will you accept her blessing and ascend your job? Y/N]
The only thing that he could hear was the system message.
The job ascension quest required him to be fully recognized by an NPC.
They said that you’d be able to awaken better abilities from better NPCs.
To be honest, Louise’s level and stats weren’t impressive.
Hyun subconsciously thought that he would like a memory of the being called Louise.
His previous self would’ve never picked a level 100 Louise over a Knight Commander who was over level 400.
Her body was probably just made of data, after all.
If she died, she would probably disappear without leaving a trace, but that made him even more scared.
That’s why, before that happened, he wanted proof that she had existed in this world.
The moment he accepted, his heart began beating faster.
He felt like his blood had been drained away and that his body was filled again with something new.
A pleasant tingling spread and flowed through his body.
His consciousness rose to the surface again, and he slowly started to recover his senses.
[The fragments of cause and effect have returned to their places.]
[You haven’t been able to fully accept the darkness due to your weak existence.]
[The accumulated experience has been reflected!]
After that, he heard a clear sound.
[You’ve ascended to a ‘Shadow Linker’!]
Hyun began hearing numerous messages.
[The awakening skill is fixed because darkness binds the soul’s movement!]
[The level of Awakening has increased by 1!]
Hyun opened his eyes after a while.
The air around him was full of a red color.
He looked at the sky.
The sun, instead of light, emitted darkness.
The Symmetrical World…
Hyun suddenly found the situation funny.
The first time he’d seen that place, he’d thought that it resembled hell.
He never would’ve imagined that the bloody, dark light would feel so comfortable.
He felt relieved.
Hyun extended his senses while lying down on the floor.
Louise’s body was still throbbing.
It seemed like the effects of having been touched by the sun for a little bit didn’t disappear easily.
“Ugh…” Louise groaned.
Hyun opened her status window.
Louise only had 5% of her HP left.
She would’ve probably been burnt away if they’d entered the Symmetrical World even a little later.
‘What, did I see correctly?’
Hyun found something weird after he sighed in relief.
He looked at Louise’s status window again.
According to her status window, her current level was 200.
‘What’s going on?’
While they were on Iluna, Louise’s level had been at 100, so it had risen by exactly 100 levels.
Was it that she’d gained experience after defeating monsters?
But Louise hadn’t killed a single monster while they were on Iluna.
It was the natural result of her stats being low.
Hyun had used either Ain’s or Salon’s body to kill the monsters.
Why did she suddenly go up 100 levels?
‘Did she recover some of the Angel’s power…?’
Hyun thought of a possibility.
While thinking that, he waited until Louise recovered her memories.
“I survived once again…”
After checking that she was safe, he asked her if she’d recovered her memories.
A Transcendent’s memories were linked to their ego.
Basically, she had to recover her memories to regain even part of her power.
Translator – Daniel Shin
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
But when Hyun asked her that, she just shook her head.
“I’m not sure… I don’t feel anything different.”
Hyun thought about it for a while but couldn’t come up with an answer.
He concluded that, even if he kept thinking about it, he wouldn’t be able to come up with an answer.
It seemed like Louise noticed that they were in the Symmetrical World. She looked around at her surroundings.
“It’s nice here.”
“Yes, the air feels fresh.”
He was glad that Louise had recovered her vitality.
As Hyun gave her some food and drinks he had in the inventory, her face brightened up. It seemed like it reminded her of the past.
While resting, he «Disassimilated».
He thought that it would be better for her to have full control of herself to recover her condition faster.
Hyun took the opportunity to check out his status window.
‘Shadow Linker? Does it mean that I connect shadows?’
Lots of things had changed, but the thing he cared the most about was the job.
There was an extra explanation under the newly obtained job.
Job: Shadow Linker (Hidden)
Hyun’s eyes narrowed.
Although that sentence sounded simple, he knew that there was a hidden message behind it.
Deception, chaos, darkness…
In Asrian, each of those words represented a different great demon.
Keidrial was the existence that represented deception.
She was also the demon Hyun knew the best.
Even Hyun didn’t remember the representation of chaos very well.
Asrian released before the story related to it came out, and Asra’s service was canceled because of that.
And the representation of darkness… It wasn’t time for it to appear yet.
He wasn’t expecting something related to it to appear so soon.
Of course, he was assuming that the mention of darkness that appeared in his status window was related to that demon.
The reason why Louise’s level had increased suddenly by a hundred levels made sense if a great demon was involved.
‘That’s right. She did say that darkness had been planted inside Louise.’
Hyun remembered what the weird Priest Rutia had told him.
She’d said that Louise couldn’t be touched by the sun because the darkness planted in her subconsciousness would germinate under the sun.
Had the word “darkness” appeared on his status window because he’d done the job ascension quest by being recognized by Louise?
‘I’ll need to check this out later on.’
Hyun looked at Louise, who had just finished eating.
If the time available in the Symmetrical World ended, Louise would fall onto Iluna again.
That land that was touched by the sun and full of monsters…
They couldn’t stay in the Symmetrical World forever, so he had to think of their next move.
‘Isn’t Rutia around here somewhere…?’
He thought that Rutia might appear again out of nowhere, but sadly, that didn’t happen.
‘Well, I guess I can’t depend on other people forever.’
Hyun looked around.
The Symmetrical World was close to the world of demons.
One would think that it would be a gloomy and barren space, but the scenery of the place was completely different.
There were trees, mountains, and even rivers.
If you ignored the blood red color, it looked like peaceful countryside scenery.
Hyun and Louise walked along the river for a while.
Although they walked for a while, the scenery didn’t change, but that relieved their anxiety a bit.
Louise mumbled after touching the water.
“The color of the water hasn’t changed. I think that I should be able to drink it!”
“I’m glad it isn’t blood flowing.”
Birds that had fire on their tails splashed in the water.
It seemed like there were animals in the Symmetrical World.
No, maybe they were monsters.
“So, where are we going?”
“We can’t stay still, right?”
Hyun shrugged his shoulders at Louise’s question.
There, they would be able to avoid the sun, but he didn’t know how long they could stay there, so his priority was discovering how much time they had left.
“Woah, there are even big fish in the river!”
Louise’s voice had regained vitality.
Even while walking, she looked around with her eyes shining.
“Hyun… There are things to eat and drink drink. If arranged properly, this would be a nice place to live.”
“It doesn’t sound bad!”
“Then I’m glad.”
“How about living in this place together?”
While Louise was excited, Hyung thought on it with a gloomy face.
When he thought about it, she probably didn’t have many opportunities to see things like that.
In the Twilight Temple, she was locked inside a small and dark room, and there weren’t many things to see on Iluna.
She probably hadn’t had many opportunities to let her curiosity blossom.
‘The problem is the place.’
The only thing that bothered Hyun was that the place was somewhere on Iluna.
Protecting Louise wouldn’t be a hard task if they were on Asra.
He just had to create a guild, make a private room and let her stay there.
A guild’s private room was under the control of users, so she would’ve been safe from NPCs chasing after her.
—And he’d be able to go on some travels with Louise.
Even if it were just at night, they could go to many places in Asra.
“Hyun, thank you.”
“I had lots of fun today! I was able to meet you again… Even if I die, I don’t have any regrets!”
“You haven’t died yet.”
“Then can I look around for a little bit more?”
“Before doing that, let’s rest for a bit near the river.”
While Hyun was sitting with Louise and chit-chatting, He got immersed in his thoughts.
When he threw a rock into the water, ripples spread out.
He had lots of issues to solve.
First he had to learn how to get out of the Symmetrical World.
But he had to avoid going back to Iluna.
‘It would be nice if this place was on Asra.’
Then he would be able to find some solutions.
But Asra and Iluna were separated by a distance of tens of thousands of kilometers.
‘Would Rutia be able to find a solution…?’
He found a hint when he tried to empty his mind to take a break.
Hyun suddenly remembered something.
Back then, he’d been in a hurry, but now he had some time to think.
The place indicated by the oracle was the magic circle located in the center.
Even with a carriage pulled by a dragon horse, it’d taken them tens of minutes to reach that place.
But while coming back, it’d only taken them a few minutes of walking.
Rutia had guided them through the Symmetrical World. and Ain and himself had just followed her lead.
When they’d left the Symmetrical World, they’d been at the top of the tower.
It was as if they’d teleported.
‘What did she say?’
Hyun checked out the footage of that moment to find her exact words.
As a holographic screen appeared in front of him, Louise became surprised.
“Woah, what’s that?!”
Louise’s voice was full of curiosity.
A few moments later, Rutia’s seductive voice could be heard in the video.
She began explaining what Hyun considered was the most important thing at the moment.
“In the two worlds, the opposing one looks distorted. One step here doesn’t equal one step in the other world. It can be longer or shorter.”
Rutia had told him how to move fast between the two worlds.
After thinking about it for a while, Hyun finally understood the meaning behind those words.