Author’s Corner: I have honestly never seen a poll this close. As of the start of this chapter, the final result is 123-120, in favor of a teaser. As such, I will be posting the first of the two prologue chapters in a spoiler tag at the bottom of this chapter. Those that don’t want to read it have been warned! I’m writing more of it in my spare time, so that once WS is finished I will have a surplus of chapters that I can either steadily release, or crush you all together under their weight in one big dump.

Either way, enjoy!

Nodding my head slightly, I watched where Tryval left to after vanishing from the sight of the centaurs. In truth, he was actually still standing right in front of them, he had simply made them unable to see him. I really need to get a list of what all gods can do like that.

Once again, I fast forwarded in another fifty year increment, not quite comfortable yet with a big leap like I had done for the other races. It would get there eventually, but first I wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t end up killing themselves in the process. Otherwise, wouldn’t sending Tryval down in the first place be pointless?

Looking at the population statistics, there had been one more qilin centaur born, but the old one had also died. Going by the fact that the new qilin was also with the herd of unicorn centaurs, it was likely a child of the former qilin. Over the fifty year jump, the population for the variant herds remained somewhat stable, only gaining a few members overall.

However, for the general herds, there had been a larger increase. This was likely due to one large factor, and that was Tryval pushing for the acceptance of the variants. By now, several members of the variant herds had already reached the level 30 cap, with most of their levels in magic. For the three living pegasus centaurs, they had high levels in Scout, meaning that they were most likely being actively utilized by their herds.

I doubted that they had reached a level of acceptance where they were allowed to mate with the general population, but this was already a good step forward. As such, I began increasing the jumps to one hundred years each. Every time, I would briefly look over the statistics such as population numbers and levels, and look for new advances in culture.

I wasn’t until four hundred years later where the first major change took place. When I stopped at this interval, I found a few of the centaurs carrying bundles on their backs. I did not know what purpose those bundles served at the time, so I fast forwarded a few hours, keeping an eye on that herd.

Later that evening, when the sun was just beginning to set, several centaurs came over to remove the bundles from the backs of those carrying them. They then proceeded to spread out, showing that the true form of the bundles were primitive collapsible tents. When spread to their full size, each tent had enough space for five centaurs to climb under it, though the true form of the tent was little more than a leather tarp held in place by multiple posts. There were no walls, so it only served for protection against rain.

In the corner, I saw a notification at that time that I had been awarded points for the centaurs learning construction techniques. I wasn’t going to turn down the fifteen points for them learning technology innovations on their own. However, my curiosity had been sated, so I resumed leaping forward in time.

After the next hundred year leap, I saw almost every herd, aside from the variant herds, carrying those same tent bundles. As for the variants, I had the feeling that they did not need them so badly. They had lost their only qilin, but they still had the magic of fire, which was not a power the general centaurs had fully mastered yet. However, there was one thing that surprised me.

Six hundred years after Tryval’s disappearance, there was what looked to be a city cropping up at a particular area of the plains. Its inhabitants, almost exclusively variants. At the center of the city was a statue depicting what I assumed to be Tryval, standing nearly thirty feet tall, the tallest structure in the entire city. Aside from that statue, the tallest structure was only fifteen feet tall.

This city, named Try’s Hold from the information in the system, spanned dozens of miles in diameter. Now, that does not mean it was densely populated, quite the opposite really. There were less than eight hundred residents of Try’s Hold, but they were so spread out that the city seemed larger than it was. Well, I guess it makes sense, if their horse bodies required a lot of regular exercise, they’d want to build things further apart.

Still, this was the first permanent settlement of centaurs, and from what I saw they had even planted a grove of fruit trees within the city. The leadership in the city seemed to be divided between four individuals, who held equal voting power. If I had to guess, they were the successors to the original herd leaders that Tryval had appointed, though that was only a guess.

At this point, I was only a few skips away from the Time Zone finally catching up with the rest of the world. It was almost time to focus on buying the new systems I wanted. I also managed to earn another 75 points from advancements within the centaur race, though none of them were ones I had not seen before.

Even after those last few skips, the centaurs were still behind the other races in terms of settlements. However, I had a feeling that in terms of power, the centaurs should be able to rival the other races. They had settled an additional two cities over the course of the years, though neither of the two were as large as Try’s Hold, which had continued to grow.

Additionally, in terms of the amount of land they explored, the centaurs were rivaled only by the halflings. If not for the fact that they cannot easily move through rough terrain, they likely would have overtaken the halflings by a large margin instead. By now, the centaurs, which had grown to nearly a hundred thousand, occupied roughly one percent of their continent. Compared to the elves, that was already more than ten times greater, since elves did not travel very far in their lives after settling down. Anyways, I’m getting off track, once the centaurs caught up in terms of the time I had given them, the following notification was displayed.

The currently active Time Zone has finished its designated period of activity, and synchronized with the rest of the world. This Time Zone will now be rendered inactive, and can be activated again by selecting it through the options menu. Note that doing so will not incur an extra fee.

Well, at least it is good to know that Time Zones are reusable, I guess. I shrugged my shoulders, moving to the system market. After unpausing the world, I wanted to buy the systems I had been waiting on. Specifically, this time I wanted the Quest system that had been created at the Keeper meeting.

Quest SystemUsing this system, it is possible to issue official request contracts to interested parties. This request may be verbal or written, but once accepted it is binding. If there is a reward item promised for the quest, it is removed from the issuer when the quest is given. In the event of quest completion, the item is delivered to the recipient. In the event of failure, it is returned to the issuer. If the reward is a service, the issuer is compelled to complete the reward as specified, regardless of intention.Game setting required
50 points

I nodded in satisfaction, immediately buying the system. As I did so, a thought occurred to me. This is going to require another update announcement… If it were something as simple as an increased level limit, or even extra classes, I could forget the announcement. Arguably, even the achievement and title systems didn’t need one if I didn’t want to. However, the quest system makes it so words can become a binding contract that the world itself enforces. That’s a little bit of a major update.

Reluctantly, I spent another point to broadcast the message.

Mere weeks had passed since the message had been transmitted to every man, woman, and child. Regardless of race, everyone was still discussing the appearance of the achievement and title systems, as well as what they might mean. More importantly, they were curious about the owner of the mysterious voice that had informed them of these changes, the imperious voice that spoke casually about the laws which ran their world.

And now, that voice spoke again, to the surprise of every sapient creature. Introducing the second major world update! With this update, a quest system has been implemented to the world! Anyone is capable of issuing or receiving quests, and such quests are binding. Rewards and conditions may be attached to a quest, allowing people to ensure their time well spent. Everyone is again encouraged to do their best to obtain greater power, and contribute to the advance of their communities!

For a full minute, the only sapient creatures that were able to make themselves move were those in dire straits. For the rest, they were like frozen statues, paralyzed by the knowledge they had been given, and the fact that the voice had again spoken. This time, what it spoke of was even more outrageous than before, as if it was telling the entire world that its words were law.

Soon, the first quests were issued, and they truly did discover the meaning behind those words that had been spoken. Anyone who carelessly promised a reward for a favor, and ignored the ringing in their ears, found their body moving outside of their control. The worst off were those that spoke too harshly to others, believing themselves to be above the world.

One such human male had scolded a young man, saying that if he managed to find a wife for himself, he would run through the city naked. By some twist of fate, the shy man managed to meet a girl the next day, one with whom he shared romantic feelings. A few days later, when they spoke of their intent to wed, the one who had spoken harshly wept as his body moved despite himself, as if he was a puppet on strings. He disrobed entirely, and ran from one corner of the city to the other. Due to his shame, he did not stop running when he found the wall of the city. As soon as his body was back within his control, he fled into the wilderness, never to return.

After the first few such quests were issued, nobody dared to speak carelessly, for fear of invoking the wrath of the voice that spoke from the heavens. There were only three exceptions for this, those who had developed writing systems complete enough for written messages to appear before them. This was the first time such messages had appeared for these races, so they took it to be a sign from above.

Do you wish to officially issue this quest? Yes/No

Among the halflings, the elves, and the dwarves, there were many that saw this message appear in front of them after they spoke. Those that knew its meaning rarely agreed, while those that didn’t would soon discover it. But, no matter who it was, nobody would forget the power displayed by the mysterious voice that spoke of change, which seemed to hold power above the gods themselves.

Several names were bestowed to this voice in the coming days, merely as a way to remember it. These names were sources of fear for many inhabitants, fearing that angering this being would bring shame and ruin for the fortunate, and a swift end for those with true crimes.

Nodding to myself in satisfaction after sending the message out, I quickly sent another one to Irena, telling her that I was ready to meet up in the afterlife. All that was left was to get into the body I would be using there. But, this was a fairly simple matter.

Within a few moments, I had created for myself a Daeva body, with black hair and white wings. Two small horns protruded from my forehead, and as Irena appeared in the room I suddenly felt my body getting weaker. My weight felt as if it had doubled, and I nearly stumbled to the ground in surprise.

This must be the penalty for having a race with naturally lower strength. I thought to myself, smiling to Irena. “Ready to go, then?” She simply nodded, a smile on her face as she extended her hand to me.

Author’s Basement: Below is the teaser prologue promised above. You have been warned again!
Spoiler :

You have defeated the Overlord of Hell!

As the first player to uncover the true story, and halt the plot of the Overlord, there is an exclusive option available.

Would you like to begin New Game +? You will be allowed to keep one skill from your current playthrough.

“Finally!” I shouted out, raising my hands to the sky. I had stayed up all night playing this game known as Layers of Hell, a popular game that had been out for nearly a year. Long hours and a solid theory had finally paid off, and I managed to defeat the hidden final boss.

However, to be declared the first person to find the clues in nearly a year, that was a pleasant surprise. I was even more surprised by the concept of the New Game + that was mentioned. This was a fairly uncommon feature in games, as many did not have the replay value that Layers of Hell possessed.

The concept of New Game + was fairly simple, you had the ability to start the game from the very beginning, typically with some extra help. This bonus would typically seem cheat-like at the earlier levels, but eventually would level out. Sometimes, these games would have an increased difficulty or bonus content that could only be found in New Game +.

Feeling the drowsiness from my long night of gaming kick in, I resolved myself to accept, go through character creation, then save in the tutorial so that I could sleep. Pulling up the list of options for skills to retain, I was unsure for a while. I mean, this wasn’t exactly an easy decision.

One of the ultimate skills, which was only found at the lowest depths of hell, could pause time in the surroundings. However, the mana cost was way too high for a brand new character to use, so that one was out. Hell, most of the skills required more in the way of stats than a new character could provide.

In the end, I had to select one, so I chose the skill which took me the longest time to grind, and which would be most useful to the earlier floors.

You have chosen to keep Equipment Mastery as your starting skill. With this, you will have innate knowledge of how to use any equipment you acquire to its fullest potential. Note: This skill does not provide access to magic-related equipment skills.

Nodding at my choice, I began customizing my character. Equipment Mastery was really one of the few things I could have picked. And, for the starting floors, it would be the most help. For my character, I used the same appearance and name as I had before, so that part was handled quickly. I really just wanted to get this over with, so that I could pass out.

Shortly after I finished customizing my character, and confirming that everything was the same, I felt the night’s exhaustion start to overtake me. I barely had enough time coherent to press the accept button before my eyes closed, preventing me from seeing the screen that appeared next.

You will now be transferred to the Tutorial zone. Please enjoy your adventures in the Layers of Hell.

Layers of Hell, a popular game released in 2029. Its concept, battle through the many layers of the underworld to get the skills and equipment you need to escape Hell itself. While it was not an easy game to win, it was an even harder one to lose. That was because, every time you died, you were sent to the next layer of Hell, with all of your abilities and equipment that remained on your body.

After a few weeks, people began to experiment to see how far down they could go. Unarmored, they challenged strong monsters on every floor, watching as the difficulty steadily increased. Eventually, they found the limit. Nine hundred and ninety-nine layers in total. After dying on the 999th layer, the save was marked. You could not play the game again with that character, even if you reverted to an earlier version.

Thanks to that discovery, the final layer in Layers of Hell became both a taboo and a mystery. People wanted to see if there was any extra content on this final floor, but at the same time, a single death would erase all of their hard work. And, don’t think that it is easy to get to the 999th floor, simply by killing yourself repeatedly. If you want to survive the floor, and explore to discover the new content, you have to spend time on each floor on your way down, gathering as many of the special abilities as you can find.

Finally, nearly a full year later, a man by the name of Jeremy Blake discovered a clue. On the 251st floor, he found mention of a supreme ruler on the lowest level. Following this lead, he discovered other references throughout the game. The one who ruled over the souls of the damned, gathering the truly fallen to wage a war against the surface world.

It should be reiterated, until this point the only known method to complete the game was to defeat the boss on the very first layer, and escape Hell itself. Few people ever had a need to go below layer 100 in order to accomplish this. However, Jeremy knew what these clues meant. There was a secret boss at the bottom, an alternate ending!

It took him weeks to get down there the first time, but he managed to find that final boss. In the end, his character was still destroyed, but he was sure of its existence! So, he went in again, and again. After his second try, he looked online and found a save editor for the game. Not exactly a legit way to win, but he was desperate at this point to learn that final secret.

Revising his save so that his character was playable again, he confronted the boss over and over, learning all of the tricks he could to the fight, before finally beating it. It could be said that he wasted those weeks of his life, all for the sake of a game. And, the people who said that would be absolutely right! All because of his obsession, his girlfriend left him. He spent so much of his time absorbed in the game that he forgot his social life. If he wasn’t afraid of the electricity getting cut off, he may have even stopped going to work.

But, now his dreams had been realized. A chorus of angels descended in his mind to announce his victory. The Overlord was dead. But what awaited him now?

I felt my body lying on a cold surface as awareness slowly returned to me. Fuck… did I pass out at my computer, and fall out of the chair again? However, that thought left me as I felt that the floor below me was not the hardwood floor of my bedroom, but rough stone.

“Finally woke up, Grim?” I heard a familiar, female voice speaking. Where have I heard that before? Slowly, I opened my eyes, seeing a blue stone floor beneath me. Hay was scattered around the small room, which only had one occupant aside from myself. In the corner was a single, small bed, one which I was obviously not sleeping in. Instead, sitting on the bed was a woman who made my eyes go wide.

Skin as red as fresh blood, a short, curvaceous frame. Ample breasts covered in torn rags. Her eyes were pitch black, though I could feel that she was glaring at me. Atop her head was long, black hair, disturbed only by the two red horns protruding from the tops of her head. On her back were a pair of small, black wings that flapped lightly, looking unable to carry her. Finally, protruding from her lower back was a red, spaded tail.

“Are you going to sleep all day? Inspection’s coming soon, and we have to be ready if we want to move.” She spoke, her delicate arms crossed below her bosom.

No way… This was undoubtedly the tutorial room for Layers of Hell, the prison of the first layer. And… sitting in front of me, was even more familiar to me. The demon who controls the life and death of billions of souls, the true Overlord of Hell, Lilith.

This can’t be real. I thought to myself, pushing up to my feet and walking towards her. She gave a small sigh of relief, until I was standing immediately in front of her. Then, the only sound she made was a pitiful squeal of embarrassment.

A thundering crack echoed through the prison, earning the laughs of dozens of inmates. Naturally, I was the cause, or rather my face was when it encountered Lilith’s hand. Looking up from the floor, I saw her pushed back to the far corner of the bed, both arms over her chest. I swear that her face was an even darker shade of red. However, I still clearly remembered that soft sensation between my fingers, and the pain transmitted through my skin when she reacted. What the fuck did I get myself into?

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