Chapter 128 – Truth’s Oracle (1)
‘Is he someone that I can trust?’
He trusted Ain more than anyone.
He knew that, behind TarrTarr’s passion, there was admiration, respect, and trust directed toward him, which was why he was planning to make him join the guild.
Leaving aside that TarrTarr was good at editing videos, Hyun had started to think of him as a little brother he wanted to take care of.
What about Salon?
He had let him borrow his body without asking for anything. Thanks to that, he was able to save Louise.
If actions could be divided into good and evil, Salon’s action that day would probably fall into good.
…But it wasn’t enough with just that.
‘I guess it’ll be okay.’
If SeoHyun didn’t have «Assimilation», he would probably have had a hard time trusting.
Even if someone looked like a good person, you never knew what they were hiding on the inside.
But with «Assimilation», besides controlling the other person’s body, he could also see their hidden ulterior motives.
“The last condition, well, I guess it’s also a pass.”
Hyun laughed at Salon, who asked back with his eyes widened.
“I’ll accept you as a member of the guild.”
Salon subconsciously clenched his fists.
SeoHyun didn’t know it, but how Salon reacted was similar to when he had been accepted into University.
“Hmm… Our members keep increasing,” Ain complained in a low voice tone.
Ain thought that it should probably be okay since Salon wasn’t a female user.
* * *
She had participated in the Festival as one of the executives of Darkness but hadn’t been able to enjoy the festival at all.
She’d spent a couple of hours greeting and talking with sponsors and other important people, then, she couldn’t ignore the fans that approached her while asking for a picture or autograph.
On top of that, she had to agree to countless interviews.
‘Did I come to participate in a festival or just work…?’
Everyone in Darkness was really busy.
It was understandable that Mayday was busier than the other members. Not only was she a top executive, but she was also ranked 2nd in the Hall of Fame.
Among the people she met, there were a few professional gamers and even people who asked her to appear in ads or even movies.
The weirdest interaction was with an unknown research institute that was trying to scout her.
She couldn’t even understand what they were saying, she’d just spent the entire time smiling awkwardly.
“Oof… I finally have some free time.”
Mayday finally got some time for herself on the second day of the festival in the afternoon.
She walked around the festival wearing a brimmed hat to avoid being recognized.
‘I envy the people who came here just to enjoy the festival…’
She wondered if she should just hide inside of a capsule, but walking around the festival was also very fun.
Before being a ranker, Mayday had been an Asrian user, so she quickly became immersed in the festival.
‘Woah, it’s my first time watching a professional competition… They’re good even compared to the top rankers of our guild…’
She was impressed by the match.
‘Eh, «Pray»?! But I’m part of Abyss… Should I still increase the level of «Pray»…?’
She felt her heart beating faster after witnessing the magnificent appearance of the Archangel of Truth.
Besides that, there were lots of things she wouldn’t be able to see normally inside the game.
Even if she walked around alone, she didn’t have time to get bored.
‘This is fun.’
Mayday sat on a bench for a while after enjoying the festival.
She hadn’t been able to take a sweet break in a long time.
Recently, Mayday felt that even hunting wasn’t some work she could do mindlessly.
The stronger the monsters became, even if they had the same specs, the more the hunting speed could vary depending on how good you were.
Mayday was putting enormous effort into maintaining 2nd place in the rankings.
Just hunting required a lot of mental effort from her, but on top of that, she had to take care of other things as well.
Remaining in the top 10 was hard if you lacked even one of the following four qualities: skill, talent, information, and hard work.
‘I should put more effort in from tomorrow onwards. Recently, I’ve been focusing too much on leveling up. For now, I should try to focus on my movements.’
A group of people passed before her while she was enjoying her break.
It was a group of two men and a woman, and one of their faces seemed familiar to her.
Mayday sat up properly and looked at the group of people.
‘Hmm? That person…’
That man was a user whose name had become known thanks to the Iluna’s Quest.
‘Ah, Salon! He refused our proposal, right? He seems too full of himself.’
After noticing Salon, she looked at the two other people walking with him.
Mayday’s face became stiff after realizing the identity of the girl who was wearing a hat and a face mask.
Ain… she still remembered the time when she’d faced her.
Ain was the user of most discussion at the moment, so there was no way Mayday wouldn’t recognize her face.
‘Salon is with Ain?’
She was surprised that the two seemed to know each other.
But what really surprised Mayday was another thing…
She heard what they were talking about by chance after turning on her translator.
“Hyun, then you haven’t put your name in either the Hall of Fame or the Duel Arena?”
“Well, I’ll do it if I need to, but I’m not in a hurry since that’s something I can do any time.”
“Well… I guess that’s not really important for you.”
Translator – Daniel Shin
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
Mayday stood up after hearing the unexpected name.
‘That Hyun of Asra Online…? Wait, if he’s with Ain, then he probably is that Hyun!’
Mayday began to follow them secretly, and she heard some surprising things in the process.
First, it seemed like Hyun, Ain, and Salon were part of the same guild.
Mayday look at Hyun’s face.
She’d never seen him before.
He hadn’t put his name in the Hall of Fame. Not only that, but unlike Ain, he had never made a public appearance.
‘I’ve never seen Hyun while playing? How is that possible? No, maybe he changed his appearance by using customization…!’
Mayday began walking slowly with her head down.
‘Hmm…? Something seems wrong…’
After a few minutes of hearing their conversation, Mayday heard something that went against what she knew.
“As expected, you guys have been playing together since the beginning!”
“Haha, yes. It’s almost as if I’ve raised her from the beginning.”
“Hmm…? Isn’t it me who raised Hyun?”
According to their conversation, Hyun and Ain had been playing as a party since the beginning.
That meant that Hyun had always been next to Ain.
Mayday had seen Ain three times.
—During the Count’s Quest, at the Duel Arena, and somewhere underground that was full of lava.
…But Ain had always been alone. She would remember his face if she were with Hyun during those times.
“Mayday, what are you doing? I’ve been looking for you.”
Mayday was surprised by the voice. She turned around and saw Reina, the vice-leader of the guild, standing behind her.
“You haven’t forgotten about the dinner with the sponsor group, right? You also have to participate in the announcement seminar after that.”
“Huh? You told me I didn’t need to take part in that!”
“That’s… Somehow, we’re lacking people.”
Mayday stopped Reina for a moment and turned her head.
The three people she had been following had taken an elevator and were going down.
They soon disappeared under the glass wall.
“Were you looking for something?”
Reina found Mayday’s restless attitude weird.
“It’s just that… I saw someone I knew.”
Mayday was wondering if she should mention Hyun, but she decided not to.
She didn’t want to cause panic among the already busy guild members, so she thought it would be better to mention it after organizing her thoughts.
“Salon and Ain…? Probably.”
Reina’s eyes widened after hearing Ain’s name.
“Ain came to the festival? So how did she look like in real life?!”
“She looked exactly like her game character.”
“Really? So she’s a kid, huh? For someone like that to ignore you… I also wanted to see Ain in person…!”
“Don’t tell me… Do you want to hit her?”
“What? What sort of person do you think I am? I just want to see her face.”
“That’s a relief…”
After that, Mayday couldn’t forget what she had heard as she went about her tasks.
Should she have secretly taken a picture?
Mayday shook her head. She felt that she wouldn’t forget his face even without doing that.
* * *
The second night.
“Hyun, do you want to game together in the hotel…?”
Ain showed her VIP ticket to him and tried to convince him to stay one more day.
They could stay in the hotel for free during the festival. Not only that, but they had been provided with latest-generation capsules, too, so they could comfortably play Asrian as much as they wanted.
They could just stay in the room playing without even attending the festival.
SeoHyun was tempted at first but soon shook his head.
Asrian was a game, but from then on, it was his job as well.
He shouldn’t do anything that went against his plans. If he wanted to be on top, he couldn’t take a break even for a moment!
While thinking that, Hyun left the festival, leaving the disappointed Ain behind.
When he got home, it was already past 10 at night.
Most people would probably fall asleep after returning from a festival.
‘Oof… I had a nice sleep.’
Hyun could get rid of the tiredness just by sleeping on the train.
He had been used to that type of living pattern since his time in school. If there wasn’t the tiredness system, he could probably play the entire day.
Hyun went to the capsule after taking a quick shower.
‘I wonder if Ain is going to log in.’
They’d been quite busy during the festival, so maybe she had fallen asleep.
Normally, Ain logged off just before he did.
‘Well, I guess she’ll send a message if she logs in.’
[Logging into Asrian!]
Following that, Hyun appeared in the cozy private room.
He could see Louise outside through the window.
Louise seemed used to playing by herself because she had always been alone, even on Iluna.
Louise’s only friends were the animals running in the garden since nobody else was in the private room.
Hyun thought that he should help Louise make new friends.
Whether that was with other NPCs or users… it would be better if things got a bit noisier.
Looking at Louise, he remembered the explanation about artificial intelligence he had heard.
Was Louise an AI somewhere between first and second-generation, or was she a full second-generation AI?
Light, Truth, Order, Deception, Darkness, Chaos…
According to their explanation, only those six were second-generation… So Louise should’ve been in between?
If the performance among generation-and-a-half NPCs differed from each other, she was probably among the highest-ranked.
He wasn’t sure if the expression was okay… but she was probably a generation-and-eight-tenths or something along those lines.
That was the only possible explanation he found that could explain the feelings he’d sensed while using «Assimilation» on her.
After briefly appreciating the moment, Hyun saw that he had received a quest notification.
‘As expected, I also received it.’
Hyun smiled bitterly after reading the quest window.
The news of the NPC that had become aware of the outside world had spread through news outlets worldwide.
<«Pray» to me! The most faithful believers will get permission to access the Heavens!>
The contents of the oracle were the same as what he had heard in the tournament arena.
From what he’d seen on the community boards, it had been many hours since «Pray» became the ticket to reach the Heavens.
If Truth knew about the user’s ambitions and used that as bait, then the ability to think and judge that a second-generation AI had was certainly impressive.
The Heavens wasn’t a place that just anyone could access.
It was a holy land you could only enter after finishing the 2nd job ascension and finishing a quest that would normally take you many weeks.
The greatest benefit you could gain from the Heavens was sacred power.
It was the opposing energy of magic and the main reason behind the power of everyone that belonged to the Heavens, so it was understandable that everyone was interested in it.
‘There shouldn’t be many users who are better at praying than me.’
He thought there shouldn’t have been anyone who had «Pray» at level 8 and had an Empathy stat that surpassed the hundreds.
There didn’t seem to be many Asrian users who were familiar with «Pray».
In a game with sensory synchronization, they had to Empathize with a Transcendent.
They had to lower their consciousness and follow the feelings of a Transcendent, but users didn’t seem to know that.
Even the guides and tips posted on the community boards mentioned that they should «Pray» while having the image of the Transcendent in their minds.
‘But I can’t go to the Heavens either way.’
Hyun looked at a line that was written in his status window.