Chapter 121 – Asrian Festival (3)
SeoHyun quickly went through his inbox, but he couldn’t find anything.
“Wait, why didn’t I receive an invitation?!”
“Fufu, isn’t that because my performance was more amazing?”
“No! Let’s be honest, I’ve been doing most of the things recently, right?”
“But you didn’t receive one.”
The ones who had sent the invitations were the people in management rather than the people in charge of development.
Robert, one of the main developers, was so interested in Hyun that he spent most of the day looking at his gameplay.
But the ones who had chosen the special users were the people in management.
There was no way people from NFM knew about him since, most of the time, he played hidden like a shadow, thanks to «Assimilation».
But Hyun, who didn’t know about that, felt disappointed.
‘Was my performance really that lackluster? Even though I’m doing all the main quests? Damn it, if I hadn’t started the game as a Support…!’
Ultimately, he had no choice but to lean on Ain’s invitation.
Ain was bragging about the fact that, with the invitation, she could buy food for up to four people in any restaurant around the area.
SeoHyun had to spend a humiliating lunch while watching Ain.
Hyun, who was upset with the management, extended his hand and asked.
“Let me see the invitation. I want to know what all the fuss is about.”
Hyun took the phone from Ain.
There wasn’t anything special.
They simply asked for a few things in exchange for providing those who were invited with good benefits.
For example, accepting a short interview or participating in some events.
They said that they’d give you extra presents if you did those things anyway.
You could receive skins you could use inside the game or titles, among other things.
They weren’t things that gave you extra stats or abilities, but they were things that any Asrian user would lust over.
Ain seemed to find Hyun’s reaction funny, so she gave him a light smile and spoke.
“I don’t need to do anything. It’s not like I came here to do an interview.”
Ain wasn’t interested in cosmetic rewards.
It seemed like she didn’t need to say yes to what the administrators asked of her, and she didn’t want to.
Hyun’s eyes unconsciously widened as he read the invitation.
It wasn’t on purpose…
But he ended up looking at Ain’s personal information.
He even read her real name, which he hadn’t known until then.
“Wait…!” Hyun exclaimed, surprised.
“Were you using your real name as your ID…?!”
After many years of knowing her, that was his first time seeing her real name.
Perplexed, Ain stuttered.
“Wh-what about it? You’re also using your name!”
“It’s different. I’m using only part of my name. You look exactly the same as your character and use your real name as your ID, so what’s the point of using a mask and hat?! This…!”
Surprised, Hyun was about to say something when he was startled.
Ain’s fingers flinched.
Although in real life she was only an average girl who couldn’t use magic, if it were her, she would probably do something.
Before she could say anything, Hyun changed his words.
“That’s the spirit of someone confident! Yeah. So that’s why you looked cool from the first time I saw you!”
Hyun tried to fix the atmosphere with a clear change in attitude.
Ain looked at Hyun with a mysterious expression on her face. After a while, she smiled.
Had she fallen for it? No, maybe she was acting as if she’d fallen for it.
Ain had been laughing that day more than she usually did.
* * *
After finishing lunch, Hyun and Ain walked around the festival.
They were passing in front of a shop.
“Hyun, doesn’t that look cool?” Ain suddenly said.
Hyun looked in the direction Ain pointed.
Reaper… A cute-looking black, articulated doll was holding a scythe.
It was one of the Reapers that had appeared on Iluna.
Iluna’s Quest had become very famous among users.
Looking at how they’d released dolls of it, it seemed like they’d left a deep impression on the people.
“Fu, since you covered the lunch, I’ll buy you the doll.”
SeoHyun bought her the doll for $5 USD.
Ain smiled happily at the gift.
She looked exactly like she did inside the game.
But when he took a closer look at her, the real Ain was quite different from the in-game Ain.
No, it was completely different.
‘I think that she looks a little bit cuter…’
Hyun quickly brushed off those thoughts.
Ain was still in high school, so thoughts like that weren’t okay.
‘Seeing her like this makes me realize that she’s really a high school student.’
The festival looked like a giant arcade.
Similar to the Count’s Quest… No, an Asrian paradise even bigger than that!
SeoHyun and Ain walked through the booths showcasing all kinds of content.
There were a few booths that recreated famous quests.
There was even one that recreated the ‘Iluna’s Quest.’
Even a person without an Asrian account could feel the tense atmosphere of that quest.
Not only that, but they could do it while using any job they wanted!
Looking at the screen of people playing in the booths was also fun.
“Hyun, look over there!” Ain suddenly said while pointing somewhere with her finger.
There was a booth that had more people than the others.
“Isn’t that me?”
At Ain’s question, Hyun read the description at the top of the booth and swallowed his breath.
He hadn’t read wrong.
There was an illustration of a girl resembling Ain on the booth’s wall.
Ain, with a black robe and flames on both of her hands.
Translator – Daniel Shin
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
Hyun couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
Who had created that booth?
SeoHyun felt embarrassed.
Ain was a Close-Range Magician and not a Dark Priest. Although the skill mechanism of both jobs was similar, they were clearly two different jobs.
Was it okay for them to provide fake information like that?
That mistake was made by NFM since, unlike the developers, they couldn’t see the details of the users for privacy reasons, but SeoHyun wasn’t aware of that.
‘Many people in the community boards have already realized that Ain isn’t a Dark Priest.’
Whether the information was real or not, it didn’t change the fact that they were using Ain’s image.
According to the NFM user agreement, players could ask for their information to be blocked.
Although they wouldn’t be able to do anything if they said that the girl in the illustration wasn’t Ain…
But the biggest problem was that Ain didn’t seem to care.
“Huh, why is she standing still…?!”
Ain didn’t seem to care that her image was being used without her permission; she was absorbed by the screen and yelling at it.
Judging by how she was wriggling her fingers, was she wanting to play so much that she was feeling itchy?
SeoHyun smiled after seeing that.
‘Yes, there’s no need to overthink things here.’
To be honest, even if the existence of the Close-Range Magician became known, it wouldn’t cause them problems.
Hyun mumbled from next to Ain.
“Woah, but that person is really bad… It looked like she was dancing alone… and a very weird dance on top of that.”
“That’s what I’m saying!”
“Haha, do you want to try it? I’m sure people will get excited if the real one appears.”
Ain seemed tempted, but she shook her head after looking at the long line.
“No thanks, it’s the job I use every day… So I want to try something different today.”
“Something different? Like what?”
Ain looked around but soon discovered something.
“How… about that?”
The booth Ain pointed toward didn’t have a long line.
After checking out the screen, Hyun understood what it was about.
It was an obstacle race…
But the way of running was special.
You had to run in pairs. Only one person could run, and the other one had to defeat the obstacles while being hugged by the other person.
That meant that, while running, you had to hug the other person for the entirety of the race!
Hyun suddenly noticed something…
All of the people who were lining up were couples.
Because they were trying to avoid the obstacles, the people appearing on screen were making intimate physical contact.
“No… Let’s do another thing.”
“Really…? But you already touched it while using «Assimilation».”
“No, I did what?!”
Surprised, SeoHyun looked around.
Thankfully, it seemed like no one else had heard.
“Please, don’t say things that could be misunderstood! I swear I never thought those kinds of things!”
“Should I try to guess what you thought while using «Assimilation»…?”
Before another weird thing came out of Ain’s mouth, SeoHyun changed topics.
Ain really wanted to play that… but they could do it if another Asrian Festival opened in the future.
“Okay, let’s find something related to dueling since you like that.”
The only way to calm her down was, as usual, dueling.
They soon found a 1v1 screen.
SeoHyun and Ain didn’t know, but Bishop Man was famous online.
Thanks to that fame, Bishop Man was invited as a VIP user. Not only that, but he was in charge of a duel event.
The way of dueling in the event was a bit strange.
—You couldn’t use items.
—Both players had the same stats and skill points.
It was a duel with the same specs.
Even with those conditions, Bishop Man had won 35 consecutive times.
That win streak was obviously broken once Ain appeared.
People showed amazed reactions after Ain appeared.
“Oh, it’s Ain! As expected, she came!”
“I knew she would come to a duel event!”
“It seems like she’s going to face Bishop Man again!”
The moment the capsule read her genetic information, Ain’s character appeared on the screen.
Ain’s character was wearing the black robe that had become almost her symbol, and she was smiling with narrowed eyes.
To think that the girl wearing a hat and a face mask was Ain!
In an instant, many people started gathering as if they were clouds.
Because the duel lasted only three minutes, they were able to sneak out of there relatively fast.
“I don’t have a sign. Don’t follow me. If you stalk me, I will report you to the police!”
Unexpectedly, Ain seemed used to those kinds of situations.
She handled the situation so cleanly that it seemed like she had some sort of manual.
SeoHyun felt bad.
He could feel how much she’d struggled after becoming famous.
He felt sorry because he thought he was one of the culprits of the hardship she was going through because of her fame.
SeoHyun vowed to treat her more kindly from then on.
—Except for when she did things like before.
‘They say that celebrities can’t go anywhere without bodyguards.’
He was worried for a bit, but it soon calmed down.
Most people seemed satisfied by looking at her from a distance.
Although Ain was famous, there were many other famous users around the place.
Thankfully, Hyun and Ain were able to enjoy the festival without people bothering them.
It was almost night when they arrived at the sector where all the guilds were.
It was interesting to see all the guilds trying to recruit people as if it were a job fair.
Many top users gathered at the festival, so it was the perfect place to try to make those people join them.
Hyun found a familiar logo while he was looking around.
Most professional gaming teams were managed as guilds, so it was understandable that Stardust had a guild booth.
Hyun visited that booth because he was familiar with the name. He even met JaeHoon there.
“Oh? SeoHyun, what are you doing here?”
JaeHoon smiled as soon as he saw SeoHyun’s face.
After looking to his side, he shouted in surprise.
“Woah, Ain is here too! Are you two together even here?”
Stardust was a professional gaming team and a guild—they were ranked second in Korea at that moment.
Although there still hadn’t been an official tournament, it was widely known that they even had tens of very competitive reserve players.
SeoHyun looked around.
It belonged to a famous gaming team, so the interior was bigger and more organized than others.
SeoHyun sensed a weird atmosphere from inside.
The players and coaches who were inside the booth seemed serious.
The atmosphere was completely different from the outside.
It looked as if they were about to play an important match. Their expressions didn’t match the festive atmosphere around them.
JaeHoon, who had noticed Hyun’s doubt, spoke while smiling.
“They said they were going to announce the rules of the tournament… Our team is in charge of the first demonstration match, so everyone is nervous.”
“Tournament? Professional gamers have a lot of hardships, too, huh?”
“Haha, this is our job, after all.”
According to the homepage, first, they would make an important announcement. Then, they would explain how the tournament system worked.
All the professional gaming teams were on alert because of that.
After all, establishing a good strategy as fast as possible according to the tournament rules would be the easiest way to take the lead.