Chapter 35 – The Aftermath of a Commotion (1)
The Stardust guild house.
Since professional gamers had devoted their lives to gaming, analyzing information and learning the most recent meta was part of their job—that’s why the Count’s quest was a hot topic among players.
“Did you see that video?”
“Oh, the one from yesterday! I’ve seen it, of course.”
At first, professional gamers tried to analyze the Dark Priest’s movements, but they soon found difficulties.
“How does she do this?”
One of the members pointed out something about her movements.
Even while fighting against an opponent, she had avoided long-ranged attacks.
How she fought against the opponent in front of her and dodged the arrows from behind was mysterious.
“Is this level of multitasking possible for a human being?”
The truth was that it was the result of Hyun and Ain working together.
Thanks to «Assimilation», they were able to both control one body.
They were able to do that because they divided the roles, but from an outsider’s point of view, it looked as if a single person was doing all that.
Later on, it looked as if she was avoiding all attacks subconsciously.
“It doesn’t matter how you look at it… She’s not a human.”
“Since it’s an NPC, she’s an artificial intelligence, right? Those don’t seem like the movements of a human being in the first place.”
“I also think the same. I don’t think moving like that is possible, even with multiple brains.”
“It looks programmed.”
People were certain about it after looking at a particular scene.
The Dark Priest, while fighting an opponent, suddenly dodged an attack that came from underneath by throwing her body to the side.
Even while dodging the attack, she didn’t look at the ground even once.
Dodging an attack coming from a blind spot based on intuition?
But those kinds of things didn’t happen once or twice—she did it tens of times, so it was logically impossible.
“Even if you try to learn from the movements of a machine, you won’t get any better. It’s preferable to study the movements of a real player.”
“Yeah… There doesn’t seem to be anything we can learn from it. This looks like a useless video for us.”
Most pro-gamers seemed to conclude that.
The only one who objected was the one who had just joined Stardust, JaeHoon.
“Maybe it’s because I don’t have that much experience… But don’t her movements resemble those of a human? Especially how she uses psychological warfare.”
“JaeHoon, you’re saying that because you don’t know professional gamers that well yet.” The one in charge of commenting on the video on the Gamez, Kim SooYong, replied to JaeHoon’s question.
He was someone who had won a tournament of a MOBA game before, so he was a veteran among veterans.
“When you’re a professional, you get a grasp on what the limit of a human being is. For example, if a track and field runner starts running 0.1 seconds after the gun fires, he will be disqualified immediately. Why? Because that is known as the limit to the reaction speed of a human being… It’s the same for multitasking. There isn’t that much of a difference in the abilities among top players, but that Dark Priest is at least twice as strong as the opponents—that means that it’s beyond human capabilities.”
There was some credibility in the words of someone that had been a professional gamer for many years.
‘It looks weird, no matter how much I look at it.’
Even at his house, JaeHoon watched the video repeatedly.
He understood what ‘beyond human capabilities’ meant…
But he still felt that he was missing something.
‘They said that there wasn’t that much difference between an Asrian NPC and real human beings… Can we conclude so easily that she’s a machine?’
He watched the video over and over again.
After watching the video repeatedly, he noticed something he hadn’t before.
—How the Dark Priest moved while attacking and defending was completely different.
He had reached a hypothesis after watching the same video for many hours.
‘Maybe… I can divide their movements into two patterns!’
From then onwards, JaeHoon started to analyze the video.
From time to time, he wrote things on paper.
Every time he got a new clue, he felt a sense of accomplishment similar to when he was able to solve a difficult math problem.
‘Just as I thought, there were two patterns mixed!’
At first, he thought of separating attack and defense, but then he discovered that wasn’t it.
Close range and long-distance…
That’s how the movements were divided.
Once he got a clearer image, he became sure of it.
‘These are definitely the movements of a human! I didn’t notice it at first because of the mixed patterns!’
Then he tried to analyze the reasoning behind each movement.
—Why did she move in a zigzag here?
—Why is she moving back and forth?
He couldn’t understand everything at once, but he tried to understand the movements of the video step by step.
‘I should try to copy the close-range moves first.’
JaeHoon immediately logged into Asrian.
He tried to copy the movements the Dark Priest had used to pressure the opponents.
It still looked a bit sloppy, but his movements started to resemble Ain’s.
‘I’ll have to use it in an actual battle to know if it’s effective or not.’
The midterm exams were approaching, but JaeHoon began studying something completely different.
He wondered how he could use the movements he had been practicing so much. Even while walking, he had been image training.
Every time the other members had time, he asked for a duel.
He also participated in a small dueling group that took place in large city squares.
But in the end, he spent most of his time alone practicing with his sword.
After three days, JaeHoon began getting a grasp on how to move.
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Translator – Daniel Shin
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
Stardust divided players into a first and second division.
On paper, you could only get better by fighting people on a similar level as you, but to receive full-fledged support from the team, you needed to advance to the first division.
It was the day when Stardust’s performance evaluation took place.
The rules were simple:
1st and 2nd division users that have the same job fight against each other.
The one that wins either gets to keep the position or loses it!
JaeHoon, who had entered the team a few days prior, was in the 2nd division.
JaeHoon had chosen ‘Practice’ as his nickname.
JaeHoon, ‘Practice’, had to fight a user from the 1st division nicknamed ‘Rain.’
Even among the first division members, he was within the top three. Not only that, but because of how much effort he had put in, he was growing very fast.
“Rain is definitely going to become someone important.”
The gaming team’s physical trainer always spoke highly of Rain.
The trainer always emphasized that athleticism was more important than most in-game things.
The reason was that Asrian was the closest game to real life, which meant that you could apply knowledge from different martial arts inside the game.
“You should all try and learn from this guy. It’s okay to focus on gaming, but if you only do that, you won’t be able to pass beyond a certain level. Asrian is a game that has sensory synchronization. If you lack athleticism, you’ll eventually get left behind.”
After Asrian had launched, Rain had spent every day learning different martial arts.
Even after finishing gaming sessions, he always spent at least three hours doing physical training.
While other players were busy finding good skill combinations, Rain didn’t ignore the importance of modern martial arts.
“I’m looking forward to the match.”
“Oh, yeah. You’re the new guy who joined a few days ago, right? I’m also looking forward to the match.”
Practice and Rain starred at each other at the Stardust Guild’s practice range.
The match took place in front of all players, coaches, the head coach, and even the trainers.
‘Is that guy going to be okay?’
Most people were sure that Practice, who hadn’t received any training, would for sure lose against Rain.
It was true that Rain had started learning martial arts only three months beforehand, but the difference between someone who hadn’t learned anything and one who had was bigger than expected.
‘I hope he doesn’t get crushed and lose his confidence.’
[A friendly duel is about to start.]
[5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Start!]
Both players used a sword as their weapon of choice.
Rain used the Chudan no Kamae, which was the basic posture of Kendo. Practice, on the other hand, was just standing while his sword was touching the floor.
Oof, the swordsmanship trainer was feeling a headache at the sight in front of him.
Chudan no Kamae…
It was just a Kendo posture that consisted of pointing your sword to the front, but one couldn’t simply ignore its effectiveness.
That’s because it reduces the distance between the attacker and defender.
Having your sword pointing to the ground was like asking the opponent to hit you.
The truth was that Practice had never taken kendo lessons.
His stance didn’t come from kendo theory; he was trying to copy the Dark Priest.
He had modified them so that they would suit him.
Practice attacked first.
It was a simple stab.
But at that moment, something that no one was expecting happened.
Stab-! Practice’s sword penetrated Rain’s body.
Not only that, but his stab didn’t immediately end.
What impressed everyone was that Rain couldn’t block Practice’s attack even once.
The swordsmanship trainer’s eyes widened.
After years of training, he had achieved a 6th degree in Kendo, but even he couldn’t understand what was happening.
Everyone was expecting Practice to be overwhelmed by Rain, but the opposite was happening.
Since he had personally trained Rain, he knew he wasn’t someone who would lose against a newbie.
That’s why he couldn’t believe what was happening in front of him.
‘How can he neutralize the Chudan no Kamae so easily?’
While he was thinking, Practice’s sword damaged Rain again.
Even though Rain solely focused on defense, he couldn’t block Practice’s attacks.
With one attack pattern, Practice was completely overwhelming Rain.
What combination are you using…?
The swordsmanship trainer looked with his eyes wide-opened.
After watching Practice’s movements carefully many times, he finally found the answer.
—It wasn’t a simple stab.
While stabbing, it changed directions as if it was lightning!
Practice’s sword had changed direction twice.
‘Changing the direction of the attack while in the middle of an attack?!’
That certainly wasn’t a kendo move.
If someone tried to copy that move in real life, he would probably end up with his wrist broken.
But they were in Asrian!
It was a world where strength and agility stats dictated your power and speed.
Even though Practice didn’t know anything about martial arts, he overwhelmed Rain with the game’s mechanisms.
‘Did he come up with those moves by himself…?’
Stab-! Practice’s sword once again hit Rain.
Rain tried his best to maintain the Chudan no Kamae, but he just couldn’t block the incoming attacks.
—Changing the direction twice while attacking.
It looked simple, but in reality, it wasn’t.
For that attack to be successful, you needed to coordinate the movements of your wrist and steps perfectly.
The swordsmanship trainer could see the hidden effort behind Practice’s movements.
‘Yes, it wasn’t something he came up with on the spot… He has probably been practicing this for the past few days… No, maybe weeks! It’s definitely the result of practicing for a long period of time.’
‘I see! How he pointed the sword down to the ground was also something he had planned before!’
Practice made the attack’s path the longest possible by lowering the sword.
If the speed of your attack is faster than what a human can react to, it doesn’t matter if the path of the attack is longer or shorter.
If that’s the case, the best position is the one that allows you to change posture easily.
It wasn’t something you could come up with from modern swordsmanship.
‘Is he a genius…?’
The swordsmanship trainer felt a chill go through his body.