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Flames and twisted abominations of nature covered the landscape as far as the eye could see. A city lay in ruins. No signs of life could be seen on the streets or in the tattered buildings. Signs of fights could be seen everywhere. Rubble from the battered buildings covered the streets and bodies littered the place. Some were missing limbs, some had large wounds on their stomach where their decomposing organs could be seen, and some were torn apart to the degree that it was hard to know if they were even human to begin with. Only one word was fit to describe this place.

Hell.

Outside of the city stood a colossal structure. Ten strong, round towers pierced the sky, connected by reinforced, chunky walls made of golden stone. In the middle of these towers stood a tower like no other, stretching up almost endlessly. Small windows were scattered generously around the walls in seemingly perfect symmetry.

A massive gate with massive wooden doors made up the entrance as if to protect those in need from the treacherous lands outside.

Unlike the rest of this planet, which was covered with horrid Lovecraftian-like amalgamations that made a mockery out of Mother Nature’s creations, a lush forest surrounded the citadel. The structure gave a sense of being ancient, yet it showed no signs of collapsing any time soon.

Inside the tower, on the highest floor that lay far above the clouds, two figures were running over a dilapidated bridge. Beneath the bridge, there was nothing but seemingly endless darkness.

At the end of the bridge, the place the figures were desperately running towards, stood a beautifully ornamented wooden door that gave a sense of hope, almost as if to counter the endless feeling of despair that the darkness beneath filled people with.

“Ken! Come on; we’re almost there. Just a bit more!” One of the figures yelled — a youth, with long black hair that hadn’t been taken care of for a long time. The youth’s dirty and disheveled hair covered a gaunt and once-lively face. Round amber eyes, set far within their sockets, watched his companion with worry as he pulled him along by his wrist.

His companion, another youth with equally messy brown hair and a tiny frame, had a hard time keeping up and visibly limped forward with one of his legs.

Behind these two boys followed a frightening amount of huge, monstrous beings whose screeches echoed through the air and filled the boys’ hearts with dread.

“We won’t make it! It’s impossible!” Ken screamed.

The other boy looked away from his friend and towards the gate in front of them. The fear and anxiety were apparent on his face. There wasn’t much left between them and the gate, just above a hundred or so meters. But he knew Ken was right. They were injured and exhausted, and the monsters were catching up to them quickly. There was no way that they would both make it. Suddenly, he felt someone pull his hand away, and he lost his grip on Ken’s wrist. He looked back with shock.

“What are y--?!”

“Just run. Please,” Ken interrupted him. Tears were running down his face as he said those words and fear covered his face.

“Please, Kim.”

The boy, Kim, hesitated for a second, but he quickly made his decision. He turned away from his friend, the person that he’d gone through so many things with this past year, and ran towards the gate with all that he was worth. Tears ran down his cheeks and dropped down to the ground as he ran, and he tried his best to ignore the screeches that sounded out behind him and the screaming that followed. The shrieks got closer and closer, and it felt like, any second now, they would pounce on him and shred him to bits. His vision had become blurry from all the tears, but he could see that the gate was close now. When he was only a dozen or so meters away, the gate opened by itself, and a bright light shone through from the other side. The light was so bright that it burned his eyes and blinded him, but he didn’t care. He kept running and running and running, feeling that sense of hope growing bigger and bigger. Suddenly a sense of warmth engulfed his entire body, and he felt an aura of safety, but he was still afraid. Afraid that this feeling would disappear and that those monsters would catch him. So he kept running. And he ran and ran as the light that covered everything shone brighter and brighter until eventually, it all turned black.

Fear gripped his heart again, and for a second, he thought that he had died. But then he opened his eyes and saw a white ceiling. He lay on a bed. Confused, he sat up on the bed and looked around him.

He was in a room — a very plain one, at that. Except for the bed, there was only a closet, a drawer and a TV in it. The TV surprised him, but it didn’t surprise him as much as what he saw outside the window did. There was a tree there — a normal tree. There were no horrifying eyes, menacing ichor, or writhing tentacles covering it: just plain old bark and green leaves. And behind the tree, he saw a street. An empty street. No dead bodies, no rubble.

A long row of text suddenly appeared in the air before him.

[Congratulations! Through hard work and an enormous amount of luck, you have become the sole victor of the Citadel of Hope!]

[As your reward, you have been saved from your demolished world!]

[As you are the sole survivor of the Citadel of Hope, you are awarded all of the Authority of Hope exclusively. Congratulations!]

He stared dazedly at the messages that hovered in the air before him for a few seconds and tried thinking things through thoroughly, but his tired mind quickly gave up.

“…What?”

 


 

I’m Kim Hooper. Three years ago, I was just your ordinary American 14-year-old. The only special thing about me is that I was always luckier than most others. After all, I’m still alive.

Three years ago, the world changed. Out of nowhere, these things called dungeons and towers started appearing all over the globe. And with them, monsters came. At first, the monsters weren’t too dangerous, nor were they too numerous. They caused havoc, sure, but most countries' militaries could suppress them. But the dungeons and towers were different. Entering them was far more dangerous as many of the monsters inside those couldn’t be killed by ordinary guns, and they were far too powerful for humans to fight. Because of this, the dungeons and towers were mostly left alone. But that was the greatest mistake we ever made. After a few months had passed, some of the dungeons and towers that had been left alone started spewing out those monsters into the world, and they quickly became too much for us humans to handle. The monsters began spreading over the world, and wherever they spread, the world would mold and change with them. Only one year after the monsters first appeared, all the countries in the world had fallen, and it was up to every person to survive by themselves. Despite the circumstances, there were groups of humans that managed to hide, survive, and even fight back to a certain degree.

But that changed when the next phase of change happened. Roughly one and a half years after the first monsters appeared, the first Citadel appeared. The citadels were like the dungeons and towers, but much worse. The things that came out of the citadels were so much worse. Monsters the size of mountains, monsters that moved faster than the speed of sound, and monsters that could blow up a small town with a flick of their hand. With the citadels came true hell on earth.

I don’t know how it was in the rest of the world, but I’d be surprised if there were even one hundred thousand people left in America after two years had passed. My friends and family had died long ago, and the only reason that I was still alive by then was because of luck. Everyone had given up. No one thought we’d last much longer.

But that was when an abnormal citadel appeared.

The Citadel of Hope.

Those who entered were promised a chance for survival. Those who were lucky enough to be still alive and close to it immediately flocked to it. There were probably a couple thousand who entered it, hoping for salvation. The mind-blowingly powerful monsters that existed in the outside world couldn’t enter the Citadel of Hope, so in a sense, salvation was what we found. But the inside of the citadel was also filled with monsters. Although they weren’t as dangerous as the ones outside, many people still died at their hands. Everybody thought that they’d be saved if they reached the top of the citadel, but that wasn’t an easy thing to do. Not only was the citadel massive, but it was also racked with traps and betrayal. When I first entered the citadel, I was in a group of almost four hundred. One year later, when I finally reached the last floor, me and my friend Ken were the only ones who were left.

That was one week ago.

The Citadel of Hope kept it’s promise. It helped me survive. The way to do that was apparently to send me to an entirely different world.

When I first woke up in this world, I was in an empty apartment. The only things in it were a few pieces of boring furniture, a TV, a computer and food. Since then, I’ve been spending my time researching and trying to get a handle of the situation.

This world is similar to mine, but there are some huge differences. In my world, the monsters first appeared in the year 2016. By 2019, humanity was as good as extinct. In this world, the monsters first appeared in 1962. But unlike my world, the people here managed to fight back.

This was mainly due to one factor; the people they call heroes.

In this world, magic is a thing, and the people of this world can grow a lot stronger than anyone could even dream of in my world. Some of these people rose up to fight against these monsters and to subjugate the dungeons and towers that popped up around the globe. These people came to be called heroes, and not much time passed before the role of a hero became an occupation. The heroes in this world are basically all celebrities, and every kid dream of becoming one. But for most people, that would be nothing but a dream. Not only do almost all heroes have to go to specialized ‘hero’ schools from a young age, but they also all need to have a Talent. From what I’ve gathered, a Talent is essentially a superpower you’re born with, although they don’t seem to be as absurd and powerful as some of the superpowers that existed in fiction back in my world were.

What confounded me the most about all of this was the piece of paper that I was currently holding in my hand.

‘Lemorth Institute of Monster Subjugation acceptance letter.’

Lemorth Institute of Monster Subjugation. Better known as Lemorth Hero Academy. I’d looked it up after I received this letter. Supposedly, it’s one of the most famous hero schools in the world, located on an artificial island on the ocean west of Brittany. And for some reason, I was accepted into it.

“Hey, could you explain this to me one more time? What exactly is this?” I said out loud.

[Kim Hooper has been accepted into the Lemorth Institute of Monster Subjugation]

Text appeared before me in the air, just like it had before several times this week. This was the ‘Authority of Hope,’ which also saved me from my old world. When I first got here, I wasn’t really in a state where I could think things through logically, so it wasn’t until recently that I seriously started trying to understand my situation.

“Yeah, I understood that part. What I was wondering was, why?”

[Kim Hooper was accepted into the Lemorth Institute of Monster Subjugation by passing the entrance exam]

“You see, that’s the part I don’t understand. When did I pass this entrance exam? I have no memory of that what-so-ever.”

[Kim Hooper’s vessel did not fit the correct parameters for transfer until recently]
The nurturing and growth of the vessel was therefore delegated to the Authority until the parameters were fulfilled]
[The entrance exam was conducted during the period where the Authority supervised the vessel]

“…The vessel? Does that mean that up until now, you’ve been controlling this body?”

[Correct]

I let out a relieved sigh and mumbled. “Good. I was afraid that I’d stolen the body of myself from a different dimension or something like that.”

I then thought over what the Authority had said.

“Does that mean that you created this body seventeen years ago and have controlled it up till now?”

[Correct]

A short and concise answer. The Authority didn’t seem to have much of a personality. I’d asked it before who it was, but it only ever answered with ‘The Authority of Hope.’

“Do you mean literally? Or did you, like, insert the body into some woman’s womb? Please say that you didn’t do that…”

[The vessel had to fulfill the correct parameters for the transfer of Kim Hooper to succeed]
[A natural human birth inferred too many variables. The vessel was created by the Authority]

“And you somehow managed to get this parentless body accepted into one of the most prestigious schools in the world?”

[Correct]

“..…How?”

[When necessary, the vessel’s physical attributes were adjusted to adapt to the situation]

“Physical attributes?”

[Kim Hooper]

[Strength: 1.91]
[Stamina: 2.03]
[Speed: 2.14]
[Endurance: 1.88]
[Perception: 2.32]
[Magic Force: 0.37]

[Kim Hooper’s physical attributes have been assessed and abstracted for easier understanding]
[A value of 2 correlates with the average capability of a non-powered seventeen-year-old male ]

I looked over my attributes carefully. That’s pretty decent, right? One of the attributes stood out, though.

“What’s magic force?”

[The capacity to store and use magic power]

“How come mine’s so low?”

[Kim Hooper’s original body did not possess the capability to use magic]
[For the vessel to not misalign with Kim Hooper’s parameters, the alteration of the vessel’s attributes had to be kept to the minimum]

“What would have happened if it didn’t fit the parameters?”

[A transfer to an unfit vessel would have resulted in bodily disfigurations and a high likelihood of death.]

“…Oh. I see.”

Cough, cough

“But from this, it looks like I’m just pretty average. And if you count the magic force, I’m way below average. Wouldn’t other students at my age have way higher values?”

[Correct. The average value for other students will likely be above 4 for their preeminent attributes]

“4!? What the hell?! There’s no way I have any chance at this school then! You must have adjusted my attributes a lot even to pass the exam for this school.”

[Correct]

Seriously…

“Then, can’t you just change my attributes now too?”

[No. Now that Kim Hooper inhabits the vessel no significant changes can be made without risking severe repercussions]

“Then how did you expect me to even survive in a school like this?!”

[The Authority will help Kim Hooper grow]

“Why? For that matter, why’d you even save me in the first place? What do you gain from this?`”

[Kim Hooper’s world fell. This world has not]
[Kim Hooper possesses the Authority of Hope]
[Kim Hooper must help save this world]

“Why would they need me? These guys seem to be doing fine on their own. It’s been almost sixty years, and they don’t even have citadels here yet.”

[Kim Hooper possesses the Authority of Hope]
[Kim Hooper must help save this world]

“So, just because I have the Authority of Hope I have to help save the world?”

[Correct]

I sighed heavily. “Ugh, fine. It’s not like I don’t want to help. I just survived that damn hell; I’d rather not be in a situation like that again.”

I thought about it for a second.

“But how will you help me grow? I don’t even have a real Talent.”

[Incorrect. Kim Hooper possesses the Authority of Hope]
[Authority of Hope is above a Talent]
[With it, Kim Hooper will grow]

“Wait, so Authority of Hope is like a Talent, but better? But what does it actually do? Does it give me super strength? Gives me the ability to fly? Lets me shoot lasers out of my eyes? Will it make me the most powerful man alive?”

[The Authority of Hope will help Kim Hooper grow]
[The Authority of Hope does not have a set of determined traits]
[Kim Hooper’s growth will depend on Kim Hooper]

“Then, how can you help me grow?”

[The Authority of Hope can help consolidate and focus on developing Kim Hooper’s natural talents]

“…And what are my natural talents?”

[Unknown]
[What are Kim Hooper’s natural talents?]

“Wait, you’re asking me?!”

[Correct]

“How am I supposed to know?!”

[You are Kim Hooper]

I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples. I then let out another deep sigh before I opened my eyes again.

“Okay. What do you mean with natural talents?”

[What is Kim Hooper good at?]

“Seriously? You could just have said that to begin with…”

I sighed again. What am I good at?

“Well, I guess I’m pretty good at noticing things. You got that right with my perception. It’s saved my life more times than I can count. I’d say I’m pretty fast and agile too.”

 [Understood]

The Authority of Hope then went quiet.

“…Hello?”

No answer.

“Hey, Authority of Hope? You still there?”

“…”

“I guess not.”

I looked back down at the acceptance letter. The entrance ceremony was in one week. A ticket for the flight was included, so I wouldn’t have a problem getting there, and according to the letter, there were dorms for the students on the island. I looked around my plain apartment. I was curious as to how Hope managed to get this place and how it managed to live in this world for seventeen years. But, judging from its personality, it might be hard to get any clear answers regarding that.

I looked at the only table in the room. On it lay a smartwatch that came with the acceptance letter. Every student was issued one. I wasn’t sure what features it had, but I was excited to find out. This world seemed to be further ahead in technology than my world was. I assume that it was because of magic. Just as I was about to take up the watch and start playing with it, text showed up in front of me again.

[Partial consolidation of Kim Hooper’s natural talents finished]

[Talent: The Watching Eye
Amongst all of the gods, Heimdall’s sight and hearing were unrivaled. Often referred to as “The One Who Watches,” he could hear the grass sprout and see past the horizon. He was stern and resolute as he stood watch over the nine worlds. A part of his power now resides within you, enhancing your senses.
-Senses related to the perception attribute are slightly enhanced.
-For a short duration every day, you can focus your senses and pierce through the world with your sight. Overuse will cause backlash.]

I looked at the wall of text with an open mouth. I then looked around the apartment, before running to the window and looking out at the street. I saw a couple walking down the street, chatting, and I tried to listen to what they were saying. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but I could hear that they were talking. I would never have been able to hear that before.

I then tried to ‘focus my senses’ and, despite not really having any idea what that meant, I could feel a change. It was like I’d always known how to do this. The leaves and branches that had covered part of my view suddenly disappeared from my sight, and I could see the entire street outside clearly. When I focused on one of the buildings across the street, the wall disappeared and gave me a clear view of an empty apartment inside. I focused on the next room, and another set of walls vanished from my sight. Exhilarated with my newfound power, I started to look through wall after wall until I accidentally saw a man sitting on the toilet. Realizing what I was doing, I quickly stopped looking into other people’s apartments and started looking around more on the street.

After about a minute had passed of me playing with my new ability, I felt a small pain starting to grow at the back of my eyes, and I quickly stopped. I guess that was the backlash that it mentioned.

“Hey, Hope.”

No answer.

“Hey, Authority of Hope.”

[Yes]

“From now on, I’m just going to refer to you as Hope. Understood?”

[Understood]

“So, Hope. You created this Talent, right?”

[Correct]

“I thought you said that you couldn’t alter my attributes much?”

[Your current perception is 2.87. Any further increases of Kim Hooper’s attributes in the current state will likely lead to severe repercussions]
[The Talent ‘The Watching Eye’ will allow the Authority of Hope to help Kim Hooper increase his perception]

“I see… Does that mean that you can’t create any more Talents right now?”

[Correct]

“But you will be able to create more in the future, right?”

[Depending on Kim Hooper’s growth, correct]

“Great. Then let’s start growing! How can you help me grow?”

[Physical exercise is recommended]

“…You’ve got to be kidding me.”

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