The passage of time was slow, but four months had passed; half a year since Cheol first came to the world. The leaves were green and full of vigor then, yet now trees barely had any and looked lifeless.
Cheol had adapted to modern life. Both his heart and mind found peace and acceptance. With memories of the old Cheol integrated deep inside him, his new life was smooth sailing.
He learned to let go of his old world worries. Even if his loyalty to the crown prince urged him to go back, a method doesn't exist. He believed it was enough to spend 5 years of his life serving the prince as payment for sparing his life. Now that a new life was upon him, he will live not for anyone else, but for himself.
"How was the consultation with your therapist?"
The first thing Cheol's mom asked him was the result from his hospital visit. A few months back, his doctor allowed his release from the hospital. Though the doctor urged him to stay for convenience, Cheol couldn't afford to sit still and waste time any longer.
"The doctor said I'm cleared."
Cheol's mom sighed. Her eyes were teary, but she withheld crying. The quick to notice Cheol hugged his mom, patting her back in consolation.
"We're going to be alright, mom. Now, I can help pay the debt."
"Do you have something in mind? You can take it easy. Your mom will work hard to get the money."
"It's okay mom, you don't have to worry. I’ll work so the burden won't be huge on you. And won't Hyun finish military conscription next month? We can overcome this with the three of us!"
Cheol pulled back from the hug with his cheeks puffing into a huge grin. Some way or another, he too had changed. He was a man with a serious outlook on life. Now, he could act youthful and cheeky, long overdue for someone with 35 years of mental age.
Originally, Cheol wanted to earn money through a fresh start in the Esports scene. Dismissal of his 'Conquerors' account and a 2-year pro play ban crippled him as an Esports player. However, it had been over two years since then and the punishment was overdue. Nothing should hinder him to start anew. Worst, he could join one of 'Conquerors' rival games instead.
But time doesn't wait for anyone. Apparently, by the time Cheol was resting in the world of slumber, the gaming world was in Chaos.
First, his old Pro Team - Divine Phoenix - disbanded around half a year ago. Because of the PC games losing popularity and sponsors pulling out, Divine Phoenix couldn't resume as a competitive team. It wasn't the only team, though. Blue Wolves, Feral Dragons, and the rest of the popular pro teams disbanded.
Second, 'Idealize' - the game which revolutionized the gaming world - was like a bomb dropped on Earth. Professionals from different fields of work were taken aback. Although virtual reality technology was near completion, there was yet to be a fully functional virtual reality system.
"I have to change my plans."
Cheol's brown eyes lit while his sight fell on an article on his smartphone.
|Former 'Conquerors' player, Lee Minseok, has signed a contract with Subjugators - a newly formed 'Idealize' pro team.|
Cheol once thought he should at least grant one of old Cheol's wishes. When he was the super rookie of 'Conquerors', his dream was to become the number one player of the game. However, during his time as an Esports player, there was a wall he couldn't reach, a hurdle he couldn't overcome - the King of Kings - Lee Minseok. He was the reason Esports officials barred Cheol from playing competitively.
"Idealize, huh? I guess that's where I'm getting money from."
Cheol's lips curled into a wide, villainous grin. With brightened eyes, spared no time to read more about the game. Idealize launched about a year ago. To play the game, one needs to buy the game capsule connected to a private network. Hundreds of thousands of players access the game daily with a few million of registered account.
Everyone can play the game as long as they pay the monthly subscription. The game company would provide a capsule unit plus maintenance while subscription was active.
'I still have some money left in my by account. I can get a 3 month subscription at most. I need to earn money within that time.'
The next day, Cheol bought a one month 'Idealize' subscription. While he could afford more, he didn't want to dry his pocket. This whole idea of getting money in the game is a gamble. He could waste the entire three months and gain nothing.
The game company was rather quick. Perhaps because he was in Seoul that the capsule unit was at the doorsteps within two hours of purchase.
"Son, who are they? Why are they bringing in such an enormous package?"
When Cheol's mom noticed the noise coming from the outside, she couldn't help but ask what was going on.
"I rented a game capsule. You know that popular one?"
"Cheol, are you going to play games again?"
Worried eyes and furrowed eyebrows showed while the movers lifted the capsule inside. Cheol noticed her mother's unease. His old self, who was once bright and cheerful, changed when he joined the world of pro gaming.
"Don't worry, mom. I'll trying earning money from the game. If I get nothing in a month, I'll find another job."
Cheol was modest however, he felt confident. He had several years of gaming experience with him. Also, while he checked the game last night, he found out that the game market was active. Some of the most expensive ones reach as high as million won.
"Well, I trust you, son. But if you ever feel burdened, just tell me okay?"
Rather than a response, Cheol spread his arms wide and surrounded his mother into a tight hug. He promised to be a dutiful son and that wouldn't change even if he played the game.
"I promise to not miss my meals and spend time with you, mom."
"Alright. That's reassuring."
The movers finished installing the capsule in a glace's time. Cheol only had a quick conversation with his mom, but the movers were quick with their job. After a thorough inspection, the movers bid farewell. Alone in his room with a new capsule at hand, Cheol hopped into the capsule to embark on a new journey.
Welcome to Idealize!
The game 'Idealize' is a virtual reality game with no restrictions.
The game's goal is for you to find your own ideal self in the game.
Before the game starts, please read the Terms and Conditions.
Cheol's field of view transformed into an infinite void. In the area's darkness called the 'subspace', a bright blue rectangular semi-transparent object lit up. The object served as a screen which displayed words he heard spoken by someone which sounded like a female office secretary.
Cheol didn't dwell on it any longer when the screen expanded, encompassing his entire view. A very lengthy term and conditions replaced the texts written beforehand.
"Am I supposed to read through all of this?"
Cheol clicked his tongue, cursing the game developers in his mind. Reading boring technical contracts like this was something he and the old Cheol both hated. Gaming should be enjoyable! At least, that was what he learned from the other Cheol's memory. But to start with something like this... where was the fun?
The good thing was, he didn’t need to read through all of it. He had to tilt his head underneath where his feet would be located. At the very bottom of the screen, words in bigger texts were written:
|Say "I accept." to agree to everything written above.|
A short-lived relief overcame Cheol when he realized the foolish decision he considered. He promised himself not to trust just anyone, but he was about to accept the terms and condition set by someone he didn't even know about. Even if millions of players played the game, if something went wrong here, he didn't want to belong as one of the foolish millions.
'I shouldn't be hasty. I'm not here to only play.'
Cheol stretched his arms, which had gone invisible in the void. Determination lit his eyes while the long and boring reading challenge began. He couldn't count the number of times he yawned or the times he wanted to surrender and speak the magical words which could end his misery.
Yet he persevered. Since he had to do it, he better do it well. He didn't want to miss a crucial information about a contract he would be bound to.
He learned it the hard way, that not everything can be trusted. Even something as easily ignorable as a game's terms and condition can bite back to him one day if he wasn't careful early on. When he was sure there was nothing suspicious, and that the contract was purely for both party's interest, he did as what the screen told him to do.
Title: Vigilant Adventurer
Description: A title earned by reading 'Idealize's' terms and conditions thoroughly.
Title Effect: All stat +3
Title Effect: A slight chance to block a skill and gain the 'Vigilant' buff, increasing own's health and agility by 10%. Cannot block certain skills but stat increase will still be effective.
Cooldown: 1 hour
"What? There was nothing like this written in the guide!"
Even if Cheol settled the plan to play 'Idealize' within a day, he didn't lack information gathered from the official sources and among the player base. He couldn't help but grin at the sudden gift he received. As expected, caution was the best!
A bright cylinder surrounded him, moving in an up and down motion. After a few seconds, the cylinder dispersed and a new text appeared.
|Player Cheol Han confirmed.
Please select a username. Duplicate username is allowed. However, please know that a username is permanent and cannot be changed. Tampering username through illegal means is punishable under terms and condition.
|Is username 'Flynn' correct?|
"Y-", Cheol wasn't thinking much and chose his other world's name as his username. Since magic and all are game elements always present in these kinds of games, he felt like it was appropriate to choose Flynn.
However, his mind had alerted him to something. His real self was now Cheol Han. He didn't have to relive his life as an assassin who killed people as a living. With hands washed from bloodshed, he must discard the name even in the game world.
Also, since the old Cheol wanted to be the best player there is, he had to do it under the name Cheol used as an Esports star. He also needed the name to get an Esports team's attention.
|Please select a username. Duplicate username is al-|
|Is username 'Axel' correct?|
Welcome to 'Idealize' Axel! Before you begin your adventure, you will be summoned to the tutorial facility. The tutorial will help you adjust to the game world.
A blinding orb of light appeared in front of Cheol. The orb sucked the darkness away from the void, revealing a lush field of overgrown grass. Scorching heat seemed to sizzle his sunlight exposed skin. The smell of nature, one which Seoul was lacking, engulfed his body and everything encompassing the entire field.
"Is this Idealize? This can't be a game."
Rather than a virtual reality, Idealize was like a whole other dimension he was transported in. The virtual functions were seamless. Even at closer inspection, the grasses, the clouds, and even his own body felt too real. Mere replication wouldn't fool his senses, which were particularly trained as an assassin. If this was not another world, then this virtual technology was a creation that touched the realm of Gods.
Mission Title: Tutorial
Mission Description: Enter Begal Town and find the Tutorial Instructor Loman.
Mission Difficulty: Rank F
Mission Reward: None
While Choel Han, or rather, Axel was praising the realism of the virtual game. A screen, similar to the one which appeared on the void, popped up in the air with a 'kachingg!' sound.
"Oh, there it is. The mission."
According to the game guides, the tutorial mission was the very first mission given to players. It was a chain quest which aimed to help players familiarize movements, skill usage and other game elements.
As the pioneer of virtual reality gaming, 'Idealize' had to let players learn and grow with a world no one on Earth had ever been to.
'According to a reliable source, there should be a hidden trick in tutorial mission.'
Axel followed a dirt road, leading to an area with wooden walls with a huge open gate in the middle. Two guards stood at each side of the gate, with their spears held together in a diagonal cross.
"Halt! Not anyone can enter here."
The soldiers tightened their grips while suspecting eyes scrutinized the incoming outsider. There was a report of increasing newbie killing around tutorial towns, and Begal Town received an order to increase their surveillance.
The newcomer wore clothes out of cheap fabric, something a little better than what slaves would wear. He held no weapons at hand and his eyes held no hostility but curiosity and confusion.
"Are you a beginner adventurer?"
"Yes, I am."
Axel confirmed. He lifted his arms and spun his body around to prove his innocence. The tight, restless eyes the soldiers were giving were enough for his trained intuition to kick in.
'Something must have happened.'
"You look like a normal adventurer. Alright, get in."
Axel would have done so should he have not noticed something. Instead of taking a step forward, he came to a halt just right in front of a soldier.
"I want to take the path of an adventurer and I notice something must have happened here. Is there something a lowly beginner like me can do to help?"
Tutorial Hidden Quest. According to the source, a player bragged to the guards he was a famous adventurer in a foreign continent. To prove himself, he skipped Instructor Loman’s chain quest and fought him instead.
Sadly, his arrogance got the best of him and instructor Loman came victorious by a large margin. The player attempted to challenge Luman once again, only to receive a firm rejection. Instead, he received the same tutorial quest as everyone else.
Although every challenger failed to win over instructor Loman, the strange turn of events must open up to a hidden quest.
"You want to help? Yes, you possess an adventurer spirit."
A soldier's eyes lit and slammed his hand into a heavy pat on the shoulder. Axel would find himself buried to the ground should this keep going on.
"However, our troubles are not a beginner should worry about. Head to instructor Loman. He will lend you a hand turning that burning spirit to an actual fighting power."
'It's no use, I guess. I thought I can get information from them.'
Lengthy air escaped his lips while Axel's sight dropped. He had high hopes since the soldier was practically screaming a quest. But because he was a beginner, the soldiers would not seek help from him.
"I understand. However, should I finish instructor Loman's quest, will I get the right to help you?"
'It can't end like this. I feel like there won't be a next time later on.'
The soldier rejected.
"Then, do I gain the right should I defeat instructor Loman?"