Shiroko’s clan, even before being transported in this world, was one of the top 10 clans inside the game, having only items of end-game and cleaning the hardest dungeons with incredible ease. The reason why Fire Wing was able to assimilate so many people was simply that of their popularity.
Ryu was also part in such a professional clan but he left it because of the exaggerate competitiveness, asking to be online at uncomfortable hours, having the obligation to already know the mechanics of every dungeon and possessing items of late-game from at least the last season. The items weren’t a problem for him and neither the dungeon knowledge, what he hated was the intense atmosphere and the ridiculous obligations, feeling as if he was working and not playing. On the other side, Shen didn’t even know about the end-game dungeons. That was mostly because he didn’t care enough at that time, his excuse being:
I will search about them when I’ll have the need to. Until then, just let me farm for these damn items!
The reason why Shiroko is such a strong player after being transported to this world was mainly because of a rare ability that some players acquire while playing intense games where you need fast reflexes and quick judgment.
« Personification »
It’s when a player starts to feel as if they are inside the game. They become one with the character and while in their mind it feels like they’re inside the game, subconsciously the body will press the key-combination that activates the respective combo in a battle, all of this while feeling as if the fight was real. The functions of the brain would activate which would awaken for a short period of time something called “hypersensibility”, which will make the player feel as if time was slowing down. The keys pressed per-second will suddenly raise and the combat might of the character will shot up as if the player could foretell the next three to four moves in front of their opponent.
Shiroko was a hardcore player and such an ability became more and more etched in her game-play, making her feel as if she was fighting for her life and not simply in a game. This is also a reason why she’s able to show a combat experience comparable to a resident of Sario, fighting just like her character when she was controlling it from a computer. Having the reflexes of a master and the body of a true martial artist, Shiroko turned out to be one of the strongest Antara warriors. The only disadvantage was, this is no longer a game, which means there are no more rules. Dirty tricks like throwing sand in the eyes or kicks in the more sensitive areas are now available while the critical hits can be fully controlled and are no longer random.
While Shiroko was training with her clan-members, Ronald was dragging his beat up and tired body back to his little house where Marina was waiting for him so they could train together.
“Ah! You’re finally back-… wait, what happened?!” → Marina
Marina got up from the chair and wanted to welcome Ronald until she saw that he was full of bruises.
“…I had a so-called spar…” → Ronald
Ronald said in annoyance then walked toward his own bed.
A spar? He looks as if he fought with more people at the same time. → Marina
“Do you want me to heal you?” → Marina
Marina asked with a smile while going behind him and focusing on her chi.
“… Okay.” → Ronald
Ronald reddened at her smile so he turned around and answered quietly.
After Sylvia healed Shen up when they first met inside the inn from the Snow Village, Shen wrote down the healing method Sylvia used. By caressing the wound with your hands enveloped in chi, the wounds would heal much faster and if the wounds are not too deep then they shouldn’t leave a scar either. The one being healed should also circulate his chi toward the wounds, so the healing would proceed faster.
Ronald and Marina would use such skill, healing each other, except for the times when the wounds reached the more private zones.
“Oh my God! What kind of spar was that?!” → Marina
Marina looked shocked at the shirtless Ronald. His body was black and blue, his wings were torn in different places and it on his back a huge purple fist mark was visible.
“… A crazy one…” → Ronald
Ronald answered in a vague way and sat in meditation.
One wouldn’t be able to believe that he’s just a 14 years old child. His temper is way too composed for a child. → Marina
Marina looked at Ronald’s face while she was caressing his wounds with care. She couldn’t understand why his temper became more and more like that of a mature person. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Marina asked while healing him.
“Hey, Ronald.” → Marina
“Hm?” → Ronald
“Are you really just 14 years old?” → Marina
“What?” → Ronald
Ronald opened his eyes and looked back at Marina dumbfounded.
“I mean, after getting such a beating, a normal fourteen years old boy would return with his eyes in tears, don’t you think? And while fighting the demonic beasts, rather than being afraid, you became more and more irritated because of their numbers were too great. Seriously, how did you grow to become like this?” → Marina
Marina asked with a serious look on her face. Ronald looked surprised and didn’t know what to say about that.
“Uh, well… Now that I think about it, after I turned into my character, all the fear and anxiety started to fade in a slow manner, until I started to feel calmer than any other time I was before. Also, the feelings of missing home or my parents vanished too, as if I don’t care anymore about them or about the world I came from… Is it… weird?” → Ronald
Ronald frowned and finally started to become aware that something wasn’t right with himself.
“Ronald…” → Marina
Marina felt saddened for Ronald but she tried to raise his morale up.
“I-I think it will be fine! This might be just a phase after transforming to an elemental fairy! Besides, I heard fairies are the ones with the biggest wish to love and to be loved, I bet you’ll feel the wish to be reunited with your parents again!” → Marina
“There’s no need.” → Ronald
“Huh?” → Marina
Marina was stunned by what he said and stared at him with wide-open eyes.
“If I start to feel all melancholic again I won’t be able to focus on what’s truly important right now. I need to be of some use to Ryu. I can’t simply sleep, eat and live in this kingdom for free while my mind is occupied with useless thoughts about my old life.” → Ronald
Ronald said with a serious and calm face.
“Y-yes but, isn’t this too weird? Being so indifferent about your own parents and simply brushing it off as it is a useless feeling, isn’t it too cruel?!” → Marina
What would happen if I suddenly disappeared, would he simply forget about me and keep on going? I- It’s not wrong but… I don’t want that! → Marina
Marina felt like crying, she felt Ronald’s acceptance over the situation as a cold wind in her heart.
“Eh?” → Ronald
Ronald was dumbfounded.
What have I done this time?! → Ronald
He was extremely confused. Last time he made Marina cry when he lashed out at her because she looked at Ryu like at a monster. Now he almost made her cry for another reason of which he couldn’t comprehend at all.
“Uh, umm… D-do you want to go for dinner at the cafeteria? I heard the dog beast-men made some jam from the berries they found inside the nearby mountains! Wanna go eat?” → Ronald
Ronald tried to change the subject with a forced smile. He couldn’t understand why she was sad, so he thought that by eating something sweet she might brighten up a bit.
“… Ronald…” → Marina
Her voice quivered while pronouncing his name. What she wanted to say made her heart tremble, but her curiosity got the best of her.
“What if… one day I’ll disappear… will you… think of me?” → Marina
Or forget about me, like you’re starting to forget about your parents? → Marina
The last part was too difficult for her to say so she kept quiet.
“Eh? Disappear? Why?!” → Ronald
Ronald was shocked and grabbed her shoulders with a panicked face.
“Where are you going? Come on, aren’t we a team? Why didn’t you tell me before?!” → Ronald
“I-I asked as what if, I’m not going anywhere.” → Marina
Being shacked back and forth by Ronald so fiercely made Marina dizzy and she tried to calm him down.
“Oh. Well, say so sooner! Geez, worrying me for nothing.” → Ronald
Ronald scratched his head then he thought.
“If you suddenly disappear, you say? Of course, I’ll go and search for you, isn’t it normal?” → Ronald
Ronald looked at Marina like at an idiot.
“Eh?” → Marina
For some reasons, Marina felt embarrassed after seeing Ronald’s plain gaze on her.
“I-I mean, won’t you forget me? You just told me how you’ll forget your parents! Isn’t it the same?!” → Marina
Marina hastily asked back, her cheeks bright red.
“It’s not the same.” → Ronald
Ronald shook his head with a serious face.
“My parents are in another world while Marina is here in this world. As long you are where I can reach, I won’t worry over you.” → Ronald
Ronald said with a serious face.
Marina looked at him dazed with a slight blush on her face. His serious look on a fairy’s face made him only look cuter.
Ah~ I want to hug him so much~ → Marina
Without thinking she asked again:
“Then~ what if I’ll d-die? Will you forget about-” → Marina
“I won’t let that won’t happen.” → Ronald
“Eh?” → Marina
She couldn’t even finish her sentence when Ronald suddenly answered with a stern voice. Marina woke up from her dazed state and glanced at his face. She was surprised to see a serious, firm and slightly mad look on his face.
“R-Ronald? Are you okay?” → Marina
Marina asked a little bit surprised by his reaction.
Ronald evaded eye contact and simply turned around to let her heal his back.
“Please don’t talk about your death again…” → Ronald
Ronald’s sad voice resounded like a whisper.
So he would worry~. → Marina
Marina felt warmth in her heart and continued to caress his injuries with more fervor.
“Okay~ so what was about those berries?” → Ronald
The two of them continued to talk some more and then rushed toward the cafeteria while Shiroko and her clan trained until they passed out.
In the meantime, Ryu walked toward the top of the Southern tower and sat in front of the window with a cup of tea. At that time, it was already winter and the snow was falling gently over the huge fortress. Because they were right at the equator, the snow melted after a few hours it landed on the ground, but it was still extremely beautiful to look at.
“Weren’t you a summer person? Since when do you like snow to even look at it while relaxing?” → Bonny
Bonny walked from behind him and poured him some more black tea.
“I am, I just remembered that Shen liked winter. The feeling it gives when the snow falls so gently is truly relaxing, but anything other than this, I can’t find myself to like the cold season.” → Ryu
Ryu said with a small smile while he sipped from his tea.
“Oh? Is that so…” → Bonny
Bonny looked outside and felt her heart relaxing, then a sudden thought appeared in her mind.
Ah! By the way, any news from Tara? It has already been two weeks, right? With her flying speed she should’ve been back by now, do you think something happened on her way there?” → Bonny
Bonny asked with a worried voice.
“I don’t know, the telepathy-ring I gave her isn’t working. Something must be interfering with the telepathic connection.” → Ryu
“Interfering? Like in radio jamming?” → Bonny
“It seems so. Telepathy is not that much different from a radio connection. The differences would be that, rather than a radio station we use our brain directly, while the signals aren’t radio-waves but mental-waves. Seeing how I can’t contact her, there must be some kind of interferences.” → Ryu
Ryu was able to hear some details from Shen but most of them were discovered by him on his own. He was able to compare magic with technology then find some explanations on how it worked based on what he already knew. He did so on different kind of spells, understanding them on another level and bringing forth more power than those who tried to understand it the same way as Shen who was the creator of most of the skills.
“I see… Wait! Isn’t that very bad?! Doesn’t that mean she got captured?” → Bonny
Bonny became anxious and asked in a hurry.
Ryu had a serious face on. He had the same thoughts as Bonny.
“By the way. What if she met the scout-army in her way to the Urius Kingdom? Do you think she got captured by them?” → Bonny
“It’s hard to believe that a mere army of just two thousand men could bring down a being close to a Semi-God.” → Ryu
“Yes. But Tara has a big heart, she would never kill another humanoid being, be it dragoon, human, beast-kin or any other person.” → Bonny
Bonny said with a serious face.
“I ask for permission to search for her.” → Bonny
Ryu was shocked by Bonny’s wish to go on her own and search for Tara, but then he glanced at her with serious eyes then asked.
“Bonny… are you aware that you might need to kill a person, right? Maybe even a human, the same race as the real you.” → Ryu
“I am perfectly aware.” → Bonny
Bonny said in a composed voice while meeting his eyes with hers.
“Hoh~?” → Ryu
Ryu never expected for her, once weak-hearted Bonny, to show such resolution in her eyes.
“…Can you demonstrate to me that you have what it takes to even kill a person?” → Ryu
“Hmph.” → Bonny
Bonny smiled confidently then she closed her eyes and focused.
“Shen also taught us one thing when it came to this. From immemorial times, the living creatures survived by killing the opposition.” → Bonny
After saying such, she opened her eyes and her aura became more and more domineering while her killing intent became stronger and stronger.
“We humans, fought at first with the thoughts to survive, while the goal was to kill the opponent. Every fight needs at least a tiny bit of dose of killing intent, or else the hits won’t even hurt. The stronger the killing intent, the more pain it would bring to the opponent.” → Bonny
She smiled while her killing intent became terrifying even for Ryu.
“That’s why the only way to not kill your opponent in a fight is simply to not deal the finishing blow, other than that, fight to your heart contest.” → Bonny
Ryu was hard pressed to resist the killing intent from Bonny and asked back:
“What a ridiculous pressure. You mean to say that Shen made you kill someone so you could exhume such killing intent?” → Ryu
If it’s true, then Shen has crossed the line. → Ryu
Ryu’s eyes shone with killing intent for a second.
“No. But we had life and death battles by using only our mental connections.” → Bonny
Bonny retracted her killing intent, not aware of Ryu’s thoughts.
“Mental connections?” → Ryu
“Yes. We connected our minds and fought inside a room made by Shen’s consciousness. It was something like what you had to experience when you fought the sins. Or at least that what Shen described it as.” → Bonny
“I see… And you were able to emanate such blood-lust simply by killing Shen numerous times in your head?” → Ryu
Ryu smiled wryly.
“No. The fact that I never won made my killing intent soar even more. At first, I had to resist the pressure he emanated, then try to fight it with my own aura, then to fight against Shen while resisting his pressure…” → Bonny
Bonny said while twitching from the painful memories.
I can’t say it was painful… but the feeling of having your body cut and then smashed and then exploded in thousands of pieces over and over again while feeling that dreadful intent is no joke. → Bonny
She made a forced smile then shook her head at the memories she gained inside Shen’s mind.