Chapter 21 – The People that Observe Hyun (1)
A crack began forming on the floor, and soon, it crumbled.
[Because the stage crumbled, the energy of the abyss is leaking!]
[Be careful! A mortal soul can’t resist the energy of the abyss!]
Black smoke started coming out from the cracks of the destroyed stage.
Thankfully, Hyun was able to stand on a section of the floor that was in a relatively good state.
Through the cracks on the floor, you could see dark energy that resembled fire.
Hyun raised his head and saw the Close Range Magician that had just used the ultimate attack was twisting her body in pain.
Soon, her body was devoured by the dark flames and disappeared.
Seeing it struggle while it was about to die was chilling.
「Did she die?」
Ain’s voice could be heard from somewhere.
Since the status of the shadow couldn’t be seen, she had probably died.
Once a part of the floor began to crumble, the balance broke, and even the okay parts started to fall like domino pieces.
Hyun tried his best not to get hit by the dark flames.
He still didn’t know what the black flames were, but he was sure that just being brushed by them would be enough to kill him.
It had melted someone with almost 300,000 HP, so there was no need to think about if it was truly dangerous or not.
Flames tried to strike him out of nowhere, so Hyun rolled to the side.
The surviving shadow had targeted Hyun.
The remaining Close Range Magician didn’t seem to care about the dark flames that could be seen through the cracks on the floor.
Hyun opened the shadow’s status window and saw that she still had 140,000 HP.
It was a lot of HP to take down at once.
«One Second Absorption»!
Ain arrived at where Hyun was standing just in time.
Swish- After receiving Ain’s wind attack, Hyun pulled out the «Vision Sword» and swung it towards the shadow.
That time, the shadow used the fire claws to dig into the floor. Because of that, she was pushed back only a few meters.
‘It doesn’t work anymore?’
Hyun stepped on the «Wind Barrier» and swung the sword again while leaping forward.
The shadow once again used the claws to resist being pushed back.
‘It really doesn’t work anymore.’
The «Vision Sword» turned off.
He had to resist until the cooldown time of the skills was reset.
But at that point, he had to be honest…
Hyun wasn’t sure he could dodge all the attacks of the Close Range Magician while trying to avoid being touched by the black flames.
‘All the tactics I prepared have failed.’
He had no choice but to admit it.
—That he was at his limit.
However, he wasn’t happy with the results.
This just showed that it was the limit of his skills.
Hyun thought that he mustn’t ever forget what he was feeling at that moment.
What happened that day would be a great lesson for him.
But he wouldn’t let things end so easily.
He really wanted to avoid using this tactic, which left the results to luck.
‘Anyone can win with a tactic like this.’
The claws of the Close Range Magician were right in front of him.
Hyun didn’t try to dodge or defend against it. He just stood still.
“What are you doing…?! Hyun!”
Even though Ain shouted at him, he didn’t move.
He just stood there and used one skill.
Right after that, the claws exploded, and Hyun turned into light.
It really looked like a meaningless death.
Ain wasn’t aware that Hyun had used a skill, so she looked at Hyun die in a seemingly stupid way.
At that moment, Hyun talked to her through the capsule.
「What are you doing? Attack!」
“Oh! Y-you’re right…!”
The shadow that had attacked Hyun was still stunned because of the effect of «Shield».
Ain used the wind to push the shadow to where the opponent had used the ultimate attack and to where the black flames were burning more intensely.
Just in case the shadow was able to survive the flames, she kept using wind attacks against where the shadow had fallen.
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But as soon as the shadow touched the black flames, it disappeared.
[You’ve successfully cleared the fifth trial!]
Even after getting the message that announced their victory, the stage kept crumbling.
The black flames became stronger and began devouring everything.
Hyun, who had become a ghost, looked at the scenery from a distance.
[You’ve reached the floor of the abyss!]
[This is a place where living persons aren’t allowed in! You’re losing consciousness!]
The rest of the floor crumbled.
The black fire covered the entire world.
Even if the floor had disappeared, Ain didn’t fall.
She also didn’t get burned by the black fire.
In the middle of total darkness, the only thing they could hear was the sound of the system message.
[Turning back the time!]
[Calculating the results from player Hyun’s memories.]
[Even in the middle of a dangerous situation, he was able to read his partner’s intentions. That silent communication looked as if their souls were resonating!]
[The Support’s awakening skill, «Assimilation» has been unlocked!]
[Since all the memories have been destroyed, you cannot choose another awakening skill.]
[You’ve learned «Assimilation».]
[The skill tree has expanded!]
Hyun’s voice trembled, even though he had been able to remain calm throughout the battle.
That’s because the system had automatically selected the awakening skill for him.
He experienced a cold sweat.
‘I’ve already seen this before, right?’
He remembered the nightmarish situation he had to go through during the job selection process.
The awakening skill Hyun wanted was the «Soul’s Mirror» that the fifth-floor Support used.
—The ultimate attack that allowed you to copy your partner’s form and skills.
Hyun had been excited at the thought of being able to copy Ain’s body and deal a massive amount of damage. So to him, that news was like getting hit by thunder on a sunny day.
At the same time…
Ain also got the system message.
[Calculating the results from player Ain’s memories.]
[Throughout the battle, she never stopped looking at her partner. It was truly a soul-burning passion and dedication!]
[The Close Range Magician’s awakening skill, «Prepared for Extinction» has been unlocked.]
[You’ve learned «Prepared for Extinction».]
[The skill tree has expanded!]
“N… No way…!”
Ain also felt that she was hit by thunder on a sunny day.
She was excited at the thought of selecting the Ultimate Attack that she had seen on the fourth floor that allowed her to become a werewolf.
She would’ve been okay with whatever result as long as they let her choose the werewolf transformation skill.
But she couldn’t select that?!
After hearing that merciless system message, she put an expression on her face that made her look like a child whose birthday present had been taken from her.
Even though they were disappointed, they didn’t lose hope. They opened their respective status windows to read about their ultimate attacks.
After a while, a subtle expression came to Hyun and Ain’s faces.
For a while, they concentrated on reading the skill’s description.
Finally, once they closed the status windows, that depression and anxiety had started to turn into smiles.
When their eyes met, they couldn’t hide their smiles anymore.
Translator – Daniel Shin
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
“Woah, that’s crazy!”
A man suddenly began clapping while shouting in excitement.
That man’s name was Fred Gash.
He was a genius and one of the main developers of Asrian.
Around him, there were other people as capable as he was but from different specialty areas.
Physicist Robert Connor!
Electronic Engineer Mary Lev!
The pioneer of NewAI Engineering, Kang SeongCheol!
The genius of programming and simulation, Mori Wataru!
They were very famous people in their respective areas.
There were other important people on the team, but they weren’t present there at the moment.
“How did they do it…?”
Kang SeongCheol was silent, lost in his thoughts.
“They really did it! Then it’s my win, right?”
Robert extended his hand, and people began putting a couple of banknotes on top of his hand.
“Hey Kang, explain what happened! You told us that no one would be able to beat the AI that’s protecting the fifth floor!”
Even while Mary was trying to interrogate him, Kang SeongCheol was still lost in his thoughts.
“Is it the environment? Yeah, there were a lot of unexpected variables… If the map hadn’t broken, they wouldn’t have been able to clear it so easily.”
“Hmm, I don’t think so.”
Mori, who had been watching everything silently, replied to what Kang SeongCheol said to himself.
“The variables you’re talking about probably hindered them more than being of help. If there weren’t those black flames, they would’ve probably cleared the stage more easily.”
They had been watching both users since they reached the fourth stage of the awakening quests.
At first, it was mere curiosity. But as time went on, they couldn’t stop watching them. They had even stopped what they were doing.
Seeing them play had the power to immerse people as if it were an action movie.
Finally, after the awakening quest was over, they began discussing what had just happened.
“What do you guys think about the awakening skills they obtained? Won’t it break the balance of the game?”
“There’s no way to know that. It will depend on how well they can use those skills.”
“Isn’t that Vision Sword too broken?”
Mary, who was the only woman among them, asked a question.
“That skill is capable of dealing 30,000 damage with just one hit? That’s an incredible amount of damage that not even a level 250 user should be able to do easily!”
“We can’t judge how OP a skill is just because of that. To deal such a crazy amount of damage, both have made many sacrifices,” Robert said to Mary, who he thought was annoyed because she had lost the bet. He kept explaining.
“To optimize the damage output of a skill, they’ve made many sacrifices. If one of the two weren’t present, they wouldn’t have been able to achieve this, so it isn’t very effective if you think about it.”
“Even so, the balance…!”
“Calm down. You know we can’t touch the balance of the game.”
Mori tried to calm everyone down.
“Asrian is a complete world in itself. Also, there’s nothing we can do about it since there’s only one person who was the permission to make changes…”
“I know. The only person that can do that is Dr. Kwon.”
“How many times do I need to tell you that he’s now the chairman?”
“Okay, chairman Kwon.”
“Not only that, but the development of Asrian Online has finished. NFM is in charge of providing the service. So our only job is to do some small tasks like creating some patches. At this point, it’s almost as if we were outsiders.”
It really was like that.
The only reason they had the authority to monitor the users was to make sure that the world they had created was working properly.
The problem was that Asrian was perfect. There weren’t any issues with the game. But still, no one wished or was thinking about leaving the team.
They all wanted to see how the virtual world they had created evolved on a different path from the earth.
After all, they had put so many things in the process of creating Asrian Online.
“I know that we shouldn’t call ourselves insiders anymore… I understand that…”
Even though she understood her position, she had raised her voice so much because of her love for Asrian.
They all felt the same way.
Even though the big project had finished, they didn’t want to return to their previous jobs. They had chosen to stay there.
“Let’s just watch,” Robert said with a bitter smile.
The monitor changed and began showing the current number 1 player, ‘Lattice.’
After a long journey, this was their main form of entertainment.
It still wasn’t their turn to move.