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“Finally, the school is over!”
I was shouting while exiting the class. It was Friday and the last day of my 3rd year of high school. I barely passed my exams because I never saw school as a way of reaching my goals, therefore, I barely studied. The time I should’ve used for studying, I mostly used it on training and learning about occultism and spiritualism; things in general that talked about the lost science called « Magic ».
I wonder how many times have I contemplated over the idea of leaving school?
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I thought with some annoyance about the upcoming next three years that await to come.
“I wish university won’t be such a pain…”
While I was thinking about my future, screams and shouts resounded from the back, calling out my name.
“Aye! Let’s go grab some drinks!”
They were the few people which I could talk normally, without making them feel hurt or annoyed. I had a direct character that made most people feel offended, a reason why I didn’t really have many friends.
“Yeah, Let’s go! We finally finished!”
“Time to drink until we pass-out!”
I would normally spend some time with the three of them, only for fun chit-chat. However, there are people beside them that I don’t want to interact with. This made me rethink and find an excuse.
“Ah! Sorry guys, you know I can’t drink, right? Besides, I need to get home fast. Mom told me that we’re going to visit the grandparents after I’m done.”
I said while scratching my head with an apologetic smile.
“Going to visit the grandparents? Really dude? It might be the last day we are seeing each other, come on. At least let us go somewhere together, what do you think?” → Ilia
A beautiful girl named Ilia said with a slight blush on her face.
She was my classmate and even though I knew she had a crush on me, I soon enough realized she was very superficial and I just could not understand her decision-making all that well. She started going out with a friend of mine just to see if she could make me jealous and at the same time tried to hit on me. This placed me in a dilemma as to how I should talk with her after she broke my friend’s heart. I’m normally not rude to people intentionally, but this time I couldn’t let her do as she wished. I found out that the only way I could talk to her was with a cold and indifferent tone.
“I don’t see any reason to go with you anywhere. If you need company, then why don’t you go with Andrade? Anyway, I’m in a hurry, see you.”
The second person I didn’t wish to see was the one to whom I thought I loved. She looked a lot like the one from my dream, giving me a heart-illusion of the beautiful silvery girl, making me feel like she is the one I’m supposed to protect.
She looks like a doll with blonde-silvery long hair, bluish-green eyes and a petite body. Her name was Lily. She was shy and at the same time, a playful person. She moved to our school right before I had that tragic dream.
“Besides, she already rejected me…”
I felt extremely conflicted while remembering what one of my best friends told me about her thoughts.
Right after I first saw her, without thinking, I tried to approach Lily in a friendly way. Because I was completely inexperienced when it comes to talking with the girl I liked and because I was the kind to get easily embarrassed my face would always turn red when talking with her. After a few days, everyone knew about my feelings and some of my friends tried to find out her thoughts on me. They didn’t know how to tell me that I’m actually like an annoyance for Lily. But eventually, they did.
“Ahaha~… Well, for someone with no experience with girls, that was the most logical outcome.“
I said while feeling a slight pain in my heart. I remember it took me a while until I got past my sufferings. I was good at mostly anything as long as I tried, except for girls. I never had a girlfriend and the times I fell in love are less than the fingers from one hand.
“…I wonder why I even tried… when I already knew the answer…”
I remembered how after I recovered completely from my broken heart, I was able to get along well with her normally. I tried not to think too hard about my own actions and simply go with the flow. However, one huge mistake I still did was to follow these fake feelings I had for her, continuing to think that she was the one from my dream.
Luckily enough, or maybe sad enough, right when I wanted to confess my feelings, I saw her and my best friend kissing each other even after noticing me. He was the first person to whom I was able to tell how I felt and right now, the very same person was kissing her with fervor right in front of me.
At first, I was furious. I wanted to throw a punch at him and fill his face with hundreds of punches. Even so, what stopped me was the look Lily had on her face when she looked at him. It was worlds apart from how she looked at me. After seeing her like that, I completely gave up on her.
At that moment, all I felt was an unexplainable pain in my heart. I tried to understand it, only to find out, these feelings were just an illusion.
“Sigh… Finding your true feelings is like finding the exit inside a labyrinth of mirrors; you thought you found it when in truth, it was just another mirror.”
I said while entering my apartment. I finally arrived home feeling tired and sleepy.
After eating something, I jumped onto my bed and started meditating. Even though the school was not a real priority for me, I still tried to focus. The exams were hard and I used a lot of mental strength just to remember things that could be written down.
I needed to meditate for at least 20 minutes to recover from mental fatigue. My kind of meditation was pretty crude at that time. I would simply try to absorb the energy around me inside my spine, circulating it and releasing it through the body. Even though I knew about the chakras and meridians, I had a hard time to feel their exact positions; having no one to teach me in this world.
I do not know how it all began. I suddenly felt like meditating at the age of 14 when I started practicing martial arts. My memories from the past are quite cloudy, but what I know for sure is that I need to grow stronger as fast as possible. In the premonition I had, I looked pretty young. So every time I arrived home, the first thing I would do was to study anything related to spiritualism and occultism, then practice my martial arts. I left the dojo because I had no time to focus on the energies around me, having to execute every order of the trainer.
After getting over the mental fatigue, I started studying metaphysics, learn some new words in Sanskrit, traditional Chinese, Nordic runes, Tai-Chi moves from my great-grandmother’s library and from the internet. After that, I studied how gravity works and how time is altered. Because of some visions, I got the sudden urge to study space, spiritualism, occultism and ancient writings. While doing so, I found out that some words from traditional Chinese, the full set of Sanskrit and the Nordic runes can be used as « Power Words ».
These words are a combination of vowels and consonants, which can move the energies depending on what the respective word means.
For example, the strongest words are normally the ones with the closest connection to nature; the words that describe elements like « Fire », « Water », « Earth », « Heaven » and so on. If the respective letter or symbol that represents that word is well imprinted in your mind or if the pronunciation is perfected, the connection with the respective elements can be strengthened, helping in meditation or cultivation, or even in the martial arts.
After studying and self-training for around 5 hours, I sat on my chair and pulled myself towards the desk. I opened the PC and started playing « Otherworld », an MMORPG with sword techniques, magic and cultivation which is more like a normal level-up system with killing mobs, finishing quests and doing dungeons for XP.
I started playing the game one year ago. Initially only to relax, later to be able to meet new people and interact with them more frequently. I liked the dynamic play-stile and the meaningful teamwork, things that make the game more fun to play.
“Hah! I’m finally able to upgrade my gauntlets to +10. Maybe I’ll be a little more useful in dungeons.”
I logged in on my Spirit Fighter, the kind that combines empty-handed martial arts with elemental magic. In this game, there are six elements: « Frost », « Fire », « Earth », « Darkness », « Lightning » and « Wind ». Every class can control two of them but the skill-sets are separated between elements, which mean you are able to use only one element in the end.
For the Spirit Fighter, the elements are « Earth » and « Frost ». I am normally playing with « Earth » because I like the skills. Even though it is slower, the power output is stronger.
“Hey yo! Ryu!”
I shouted out the first thing after entering the game when I immediately contacted my friend through voice chat. Just like my character, he is a Spirit Fighter but with the element of « Frost ». He is the only friend I have to whom I can talk more openly. He even helped me with my meditation problems. Although he didn’t really get what I meant, he still gave his opinion without making fun of it. A fact that made me think of him as a trustworthy friend.
When we first met, he had a more difficult personality. He was not mean but he was distant. I thought of him as interesting, mostly because I felt some kind of kin-ship from him. After a few months of playing together, we started to open up some more, seeing that we actually have some stuff in common like the serious character, the love for martial arts and the strong spirit created by painful experiences. Even though mine were mostly from visions, his were real experiences.
“Hey Shen, how are you?”
Shen was my online character’s name, while Ryu was his character’s name.
“Dude, I’m finally done with exams. Let’s do some dungeons! Two more runs in the Dragon Chamber and I’ll be able to get enough claws to upgrade my « Wrath Gauntlet » to +10! You won’t be able to keep the agro this time, haha~.” → Shen
I was always competing with Ryu to see who gets the aggro of the last boss for a longer period. Of course, 9 out of 10 times I was the loser. He always had better items than I did because he had the habit to pay with real money for them.
“Ah~ sorry Shen, I just evolved my gauntlets to +11.” → Ryu
He laughed while posting his weapon in the whisper-chat.
“What?! They were +9 yesterday! How in the name of… You have no more money for the next week till payday, right?” → Shen
“Yep~ hahaha! Well, I’ll survive with the canned food I have around in the house, no problem.” → Ryu
“Bro… Think about your health for once haha~.” → Shen
We continued laughing and playing together until late at night.
“Man~, look at these skills and abilities, it really makes me wish I could do this too…” → Shen
“Right? Well, you should be grateful that you are feeling some of that energy field you told me about. Some of us aren’t that lucky, you know? Haha~ .” → Ryu
Even though he did not know what I meant, he still said the right thing.
“Haha~ well, it’s not that big of a deal. Anyone could feel it if they tried to.” → Shen
While talking with Ryu, I receive an email from someone named ‘?????’. It was a weird name but only an admin could create such a character.
“What is this? Got an email, is it another event?” → Shen
“Yeah, I think so? I got it too.” → Ryu
I opened the email and noticed something wrong with it. There was a timer starting from 9:99:99. There were minutes, seconds and milliseconds, while another timer was in the right-down corner saying that the email will expire after 2 minutes if no answer was given. The email had no message but two big buttons: [Enter Sario] and [Don’t Enter].
“Sario? Where have I heard of this before? “ → Ryu
“Do you know something?“ → Shen
He had been playing this game for 3 years even before I started playing it; he had to know something about this.
“I forgot… I really can’t remember now. Oh well, is not like this is going to kill us, right? Let’s see what’s up with this.” → Ryu
Weirdly enough, I cannot quite say I am used to unusual things happening to me other than the visions, but I had a feeling something would finally happen. These past two years represent the most boring moments of my life, even the game-events would make me a little bit more excited lately.
Now that I think about it, isn’t that quite sad?
“Why are my hands cold so suddenly? This feels oddly weird.” → Ryu
I was surprised by Ryu’s strong intuition, it seems I wasn’t the only one.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to enter this Sario thing. I guess anything is better than this boring routine. “ → Shen
I pressed the button [Enter Sario] and crossed my arms with a not-so-confident smile.
“No need to do it if you don’t want to, it’s not a big deal anyway.” → Shen
I started to have a stronger intuition after meditating and practicing martial arts. And at this moment, my intuition told me there was more to this message than just a game-event.
“So I should just let you have all the fun? Sorry bro, if something happens, at least we are in this together.” → Ryu
Ryu laughed while pressing the same button as me. Because, just like me, he focused on meditating and doing martial arts, his intuition was almost as strong as mine. After pressing the button the countdown started. We had more than 10 minutes to prepare ourselves for what was about to come.
“Now if I think about it, 99 seconds? In what world a minute has 100 seconds?“ → Shen.
“I know right? Pretty weird. It might be the admin’s favorite number.” → Ryu
“LOL, never thought of that.” → Shen
“The more the countdown is going down, the colder my hands get, even my feet. What about my character… It’s not going to be deleted, right?” → Ryu
“If that happens, I don’t know if I should laugh at you for putting so much money in the game, or cry for having my character deleted together with yours.” → Shen
There was only one more minute left when suddenly, a map with three continents I never saw before appeared on my screen with a blue dot in the right middle. The continents were from the West, Vestria; the North-East, Nostrung, on which, in the most Southerly point, a blue dot was shining; and South, Eihwaz which was 0.5 times bigger than Nostrung and Vestria. The other two had approximately the same dimensions.
“What is this? A map…? Why do I get the feeling like there’s more to this?” → Shen
“I don’t know, let’s first see where we are on this map. This doesn’t look like the usual game map. Before, there was only half the continent, right? Now there are three full continents? Anyway, it seems that the shining dot is where I will appear. In the most south point of Nostrung, there seems to be a no-name village.” → Ryu
“God, what a headache… I appear to be in the most W point in Vestria, in a coastal no-name village.” → Shen
“Wait, what? We are on the other side of the map from each other?! There better be teleporting points, damn it!” → Ryu
“If there aren’t, then see you In the Dark Forest.“ → Shen
That was the place between the two continents and the closest for both of us.
“Yes. After this I’ll have to go to sleep, I’m really tired.” → Ryu
Just as I finished talking, the countdown ended and everything turned dark in front of my eyes. At first I panicked because of the sudden change in view, but soon I felt something like a wave of energy under me. I looked below and saw a planet… I was in space! While I was looking around, I saw people with ages between 12 to 35, boys and girls of different backgrounds all around the Earth. They numbered in thousands and everyone was unconscious while a golden light engulfed them. I looked at myself and I saw that I was just like them, shining with a golden light.
[No! Why have you done this?! This wasn’t supposed to happen…]
I suddenly heard a woman’s voice. It was extremely beautiful and melodious but at the same time, extremely anxious. The voice sounded as if it were close yet far at the same time.
[Haha! And what? It’s not a big deal anyway. Besides, I am curious how everything will go from here. I can take a glimpse at the future, but in the middle of the continents, there is a shadow that won’t let me see. I want to know in what direction will this world continue.]
A strong and extremely evil voice resounded. It seemed to be that of a strong and battle-hardened man, like the voice of a general.
[You already know what will happen…]
The woman was extremely saddened, some guilt was present in her tone.
[No. We made the right decision. Some sacrifices will be necessary.]
The voice was that of a young man but it was cold and merciless. The voices sounded ethereal and from everywhere around me, making me unable to detect their location.
After that, we started to fall like falling stars to the established points viewed on the map, getting further and further away from the voices. I tried to stay awake and hear some more but the wave of energy coming from that planet knocked me out. The next thing I remember was waking up under a huge tree with another message in front of me: [Keep Appearance] and [Change to Original] were the only things showing on it.