Chapter 22 – The people that observe Hyun (2)
SeoHyun was participating in a high school reunion.
There were two reasons why SeoHyun had gone there.
The first one was to maintain some kind of human relationship.
The second one was because he had heard that the reunion would take place in a fancy restaurant.
‘Anyway, Ain isn’t going to log in until the afternoon.’
He was also curious about how his high school friends, whom he hadn’t seen since graduation day, were doing.
There were ten people in total.
Since he had gone to an all-boys high school, the first thing they talked about was video games.
“Hey, I also started playing a few days ago!”
“Yeah. I was impressed. Oof… I didn’t sleep last night at all.”
“More than a video game, it’s a piece of art.”
Those days, the hottest topic in the video game industry is Asrian Online.
Thanks to its cutting-edge sensory synchronization technology, it had successfully captured the interest and attention of all genders.
Even middle-aged salarymen were interested in playing Asrian Online, so the sales of virtual reality capsules were booming. And all businesses related to virtual reality were experiencing an unprecedented increase in profits.
“If you’re going to talk about video games, do it later! I have exams next week!”
“Yeah, that’s true. Today, let’s talk about each other’s school life. Even JaeHoon is here, so let’s refrain from talking about video games.”
“Hmm? I don’t mind.”
JaeHoon, who had suddenly become the topic of the conversation, raised his head.
He had always come on top of the scoring leaderboard during their high school years and finally got into Korea University—he was the stereotypical model student.
“If you’ve played it even once, it’s impossible not to talk about it. It’s completely different from all the games that have come out before. This is real Virtual Reality.”
“Yes, it really does feel like a video game that should’ve come out in the future.”
The topic of the conversation naturally flowed into Asrian Online.
SeoHyun, who was quietly eating pasta in the corner, felt relieved. After all, the university he was going to was very bad compared to the ones his friends were attending.
It was the natural result of playing Asra Online the day before the CSAT exams.
“Why did you start playing it right before the mid-term exams?”
“I couldn’t resist. Those that haven’t started playing it shouldn’t do it. That’s it if you don’t want to end up like me. When I came to my senses, I was already at level 48.”
“Already? SeongJoon, you’re amazing! Even among streamers, there aren’t many people at that level.”
“To tell you the truth, I’m also streaming.”
Even though he said it very carefully, one could notice the pride in his voice.
“Yeah, I’ll send you the link. Come see my streams. I tend to have 2,000 viewers.”
“2,000? When did you start streaming?”
“One week ago… I’m also thinking of starting a YouTube channel.”
Everyone was impressed by SeongJoon’s words. After all, online content making was one of the hottest industries.
The number two most desired job by elementary school students was either a YouTuber or streamer.
Everyone knew how impressive it was to have an audience of 2,000 people who regularly watched your streams, so they envied his success.
“Then, how much do you earn per month?”
“I’m not sure since it hasn’t been a month since I began streaming. But yesterday I earned $1,500.”
Everyone was impressed by what SeongJoon had just told them.
During high school, he was one of the worst students. Yet, as soon as they came out to society, he was already earning a huge sum of money.
“Even if you ruin your mid-term exams, you’re going to be okay. Just drop out of university and play Asrian.”
“I think it would be best if I finished university just in case.”
“That’s true. But times have really changed, huh? Now you don’t need to study to be successful.”
“Damn, I should have focused on playing video games instead of studying during my high school years.”
“Haha, even if you did that, it would be impossible for someone like you. SeongJoon has always been good at video games. That’s why he was able to become a successful streamer!”
With streaming and Asrian Online as the main topics, the first high school reunion seemed to be reaching an end.
‘Should I start streaming? But I think no one would watch me since my job is Support…’
Since SeoHyun was the typical outsider, he just stayed in the corner listening to what the popular guys were talking about.
While everyone was saying their goodbyes…
“SeoHyun, do you want to play together?”
When he turned around, he saw someone waving at him.
He was one of the few people he talked to during his high school years.
They weren’t close friends, even though they had gone to the same middle and high school.
He was someone who lived in a completely different world.
Not only had he always received the best scores in his class, but he was also a student of Korea’s most prestigious university.
That JaeHoon had asked him something unexpected.
“Do you also play Asrian?”
He wasn’t expecting someone like him to mention that word, Asrian.
SeoHyun was surprised for a bit, but then he remembered that they had just been talking about Asrian Online at the reunion. So it was understandable that he was starting to get interested in it.
“I’m not surprised. After all, you’ve always enjoyed playing video games.”
JaeHoon smiled nervously.
After pausing for a while, he finally spoke.
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“I’m also playing Asrian Online.”
JaeHoon was hoping to see SeoHyun surprised.
Just like he had planned, he was surprised but for a different reason.
SeoHyun wasn’t surprised even though he hadn’t spoken anything about Asrian Online during the reunion.
Gaming to relax when you’re too stressed about your studies was a very common hobby, and maybe he just didn’t want to mention he was also playing video games.
“I’m a level 41 warrior.”
“Hmm… I see.”
‘Haha… I guess this surprised him for real. Huh…?’
JaeHoon was hoping to see an even more surprised expression, but he was the one that became embarrassed by his plain reaction.
He had expected SeoHyun to be surprised to hear that he, a typical model student, was a level 41 warrior, but SeoHyun seemed as calm as if he was listening to the morning news.
JaeHoon scratched his head.
‘If he has played Asrian, he should know how high level 41 is… But why isn’t he showing any kind of reaction?’
JaeHoon came to a false conclusion.
—’This guy doesn’t believe in what I’m saying!’
Translator – Daniel Shin
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
Well, it’s a natural reaction. If a guy who seems like he’s always studying came up to me and said he has a level 41 character out of nowhere, I wouldn’t believe him either.
He felt a little bit disappointed because he had been telling the truth.
‘Hmm… Is level 41 high…? It’s a lot lower compared to SeongJoon. Damn it. I’m not sure if that’s considered high or not! Is he trying to ask me for power leveling?’
Contrary to Jae-hoon, who was disappointed, Seohyun was thinking about what Jae-hoon’s true intentions were.
That bragging hadn’t worked on SeoHyun since his parameters were based on the people who were leading the ranking.
‘He won’t easily believe me.’
JaeHoon decided to move on.
It wasn’t like he was expecting praise or something like that. He was just looking to surprise a friend.
‘Even though he won’t believe in my words… I should say what I originally wanted to say.’
‘Although I’m sure he won’t believe me.’
While thinking that, JaeHoon spoke to SeoHyun.
“My goal is to become a professional gamer.”
That time, SeoHyun was really surprised.
JaeHoon had said something totally unexpected.
Why was someone who entered Korea University trying to become a pro-gamer?!
SeoHyun wasn’t the only one surprised. JaeHoon was also perplexed by his friend’s reaction.
‘Wasn’t it that he didn’t trust my words…? Why did he suddenly make such a reaction…?’
“Really? You? becoming a pro-gamer?”
“Do you believe me?”
“Were you lying?”
“No, everything I told you is the truth…”
“Yes. There’s no way you would tell such a lie out of the blue.”
JaeHoon seemed confused.
The conversation seemed to be flowing in a strange direction, but he wasn’t sure when the confusion had originated.
Was he making fun of him?
But looking at SeoHyun, he really seemed surprised by what he had just told him.
It was an expression that wasn’t fake.
“A pro-gamer? Amazing! But why are you suddenly telling me this?”
SeoHyun’s voice awakened JaeHoon from his thoughts.
Yes, there was something else more important.
JaeHoon began talking about the reason why he had approached SeoHyun.
“Remember the game you always used to play?”
“The name of that game was Asra Online, right?”
The moment the word ‘Asra’ came out, SeoHyun’s eyes changed.
SeoHyun’s look had changed.
This metaphor may sound weird, but he felt like an amateur who was about to play against a professional gamer.
He couldn’t find the old SeoHyun in the person standing in front of him—that careless person who was always taking a nap was nowhere to be seen.
“Hmm… Asra Online… Yeah, I used to play it back then.”
In SeoHyun’s smile, there was a mysterious sense of confidence.
The SeoHyun standing in front of him wasn’t that guy who didn’t use to have a presence. He was an Asra gamer.
JaeHoon thought that maybe the conversation could be unexpectedly prolonged.
* * *
The two moved somewhere else.
When JaeHoon offered to buy him some coffee, he immediately followed him.
But there was something strange…
The place where JaeHoon took him to, unlike normal cafes, had waiters that saluted you with a 90-degree bow.
SeoHyun’s steps stopped for a little while.
‘Just… How much money does this guy’s family have?’
The cafe looked like one of those places that appeared in movies.
‘Is this the place that appeared on the news a few days ago because a cup of coffee costs $20?’
Even if he looked around, there were only couples on dates or salarymen dressed in suits. There wasn’t a table with two university male university students.
“A table for two?”
“Please follow me.”
SeoHyun, who was walking beside JaeHoon, had a slightly pale expression on his face.
SeoHyun wondered what was important enough for JaeHoon to bring him to such a place.
‘Considering that he had shown interest in Asra Online, he is likely after information about Asrian Online.’
‘He isn’t going to threaten to not to pay for my coffee cup unless I give him useful information, right?’
After taking a seat and ordering, JaeHoon began talking.
“SeoHyun, how long did you play Asra Online?”
“Hmm… Probably seven years, no… eight.”
JaeHoon was surprised by SeoHyun’s answer.
Eight years, that meant he had been playing Asra Online since he was in primary school.
SeoHyun had more experience regarding Asra than he had initially thought.
Those days, when the market is constantly being flooded with new games, it was weird to see someone who had played only one game for many years.
“You never took a break from it?”
“Hmm… I once stopped playing for a month, but it was because I was very sick.”
JaeHoon felt overwhelmed by SeoHyun’s experience in Asra Online. But soon, he came back to his senses.
He decided to talk to him about the main topic.
“I’m going to be honest with you. ‘Stardust’ is looking for players with Asra Online experience.”
“It’s the professional team I’m part of. I’m not an official member yet, but I’m going to sign on with them in the near future.”
Soon, the steak and pasta they had ordered came out.
They continued their talk while eating.
“At first, our coach tried to get more information about Asra Online while playing. But soon, the service was canceled.”
Just like JaeHood said, a few weeks after Asrian Online came out, Asra Online’s servers had shut down.
Suddenly, there was no way to get information about Asrian Online while playing Asra.
Not only that but with the page’s closure, the official community of Asra Online was closed as well.
That’s why we’re trying to find people who have played Asra Online in the past. We tried to post in online communities and tried to find them in real life by asking people we knew. But…”
SeoHyun felt pity for JaeHoon after seeing him shake his head while putting on an expression that showed how useless all his efforts had been.
“It’s really hard to find Asra Online users…”
‘Of course it’s hard. It was a game with only 300 active users, after all!’