Chapter 100 - At a Loss

Chapter 100  - At a Loss  


Ian shut down his access to Elder Lord.

He sat down on the floor and felt nauseous. The bitter fluid in his stomach welled up but he clenched his jaw and swallowed it. A burning sensation in his esophagus could be felt.

The boundaries between reality and fantasy were blurred.

In Elder Lord, he found the Temple of the Fallen God like Gordon told him to. At that place, he met an unknown being called Paimon and was sucked into darkness. He questioned Paimon about the white star on his forehead. In the end, he met a gray woman in another world.

She was Elder Lord, the system that watched over the world of Elder Lord. It could either be the truth, or a cruel joke told by a sophisticated virtual reality system.

He didn’t know. Ian wiped his mouth and left the room. He stood in front of the sink. He washed his face with cold water. His head cleared. His face in the mirror looked haggard. He stared at his own eyes.

In the world covered with ashes, he saw numerous white stars in the dark blue sky. It was a tomb. The stars would have to endure a lot of time before they lost all their light and became an unobservable star. Until they turned black like his eyes.

‘Raven, I sometimes envy your black eyes.’

‘Why are you envious?’

'Black is the color of mourning. Your eyes seem to be comforting the targets while the mission is carried out. Look at me. How annoyed would they be if they looked into my eyes before dying?’

Her eyes were a cheerful blue. Old memories were revived and disturbed his head. He frowned and placed his forehead on the cold surface of the mirror.

He thought about it. Make some assumptions and continue the thought experiment.

Then, let’s assume Elder Lord was a reality. Elder Lord wasn’t a game, but a passage from Earth leading to somewhere else. If so, what about the things he went through? The orcs. They weren’t merely warriors, but a group of people who followed their beliefs.

Then Grom, who thought they were just characters in a game, betrayed them. Orcs were killed. There were also the victims in Arnin. The Chesswood residents who died. Quantes, Shakan, the north, they were all real. All the wretched screams and pained faces were real.

Ian closed his eyes. He thought that his head would become clearer once he confined his vision to darkness, but he just felt more confused. He opened his eyes and splashed them with water. The cold water cooled his head for a brief moment.

The door opening from outside was heard.

“Oppa, I’m home.”

He heard Yiyu’s voice behind him. Her voice woke Ian, showing him that he was standing in reality. He entered the living room where she was unpacking her bag.

“You’re not playing the game today. Did you quit?”

It was a strangely pleasant voice. She cleaned up her belongings, looked in the mirror and checked her makeup. She was going out again.

Ian asked, "You’re not going to play Elder Lord again, are you?”

“Huh? Uh. Should I?”

“Don’t do it.”

“......?”

She was confused. Ian didn’t say anything else and entered his room to change clothes. He dressed roughly and left the house. Ian left but he couldn’t figure out where to go. He didn’t want to go to the café. As he walked down the street, he saw the gym next to the street sign. It was good to sweat when his thoughts weren’t organized.

Ian headed towards ‘Baek Hanho’s Gym.’ Baek Hanho was sitting in the back room. Ian greeted him with a bow. Baek Hanho raised an eyebrow at the sudden visit and sincere attitude, but he didn’t say anything else.

Ian changed into basic training clothes.

"Can I use this?”

“Sure.”

He wrapped bandages around his hands and wore gloves. The gym members were scattered about the area. Some were lifting weights, doing crossfit alone or punching a sandbag. It was a time when there weren’t many people.

Ian stood in front of a sandbag in a corner. He stared at the black leather surface. He could see parts where it had been beaten. Ian patted it down with the palm of his hand. The sandbag was adjusted.

He would punch this one until he was exhausted. When was the last time he did this? He asked himself and his memory led him to Orcrox Fortress.

He hit the sandbag with his fist.

Paang!

He approached silently and delivered through kinetic energy through a snap. Ian’s fist hit the punching bag. A delightful sound spread out. Paang, paang, more eyes focused on him every time the sandbag shook. He felt disconnected.

‘Don’t drop your head! Look ahead! Look at the enemy!’

His strength increased.

‘It is hard! Nobody cares!’

The punching bag started to shake greatly.

‘Everything is hard! It doesn’t mean you should relax! Swing it, bigger!’

Kwaang!

The sandbag was strongly pushed and moved in a semicircle. The eyes of the members gathered again at the strong sound of the sandbag being hit. Ian grabbed the returning sandbag and breathed out.

Baek Hanho approached. "What are you doing?"

“Master.”

“What's going on?"

Baek Hanho was confused.

He knew that Ian wasn’t the type of man to reveal his emotions. He didn’t shed any tears when his parents died and he was left with his sister. His face was calm even when someone was beating him up. When he left to become a mercenary, he waved and smiled like he was going to a picnic.

Now he seemed to be angry.

“Nothing.”

"Hrmm..."

Baek Hanho touched his chin.

"Do you want a cup of coffee?"

He gestured towards the manager’s  office.

***

The manager’s room was as luxuriously decorated as Baek Hanho. There were a few chairs and a wooden table set up in the middle of the room for staff meetings. The two sat facing each other.

Baek Hanho made coffee. He didn’t like coffee, but he was used to it.

Ian opened his mouth, “Master.”

Baek Hanho looked up from the pricey coffee machine.

"Let me ask you something. What if...”

Ian asked Baek Hanho about Elder Lord. It was a story about how it was another world, not a game. However, Baek Hanho didn’t agree with him. No, it was like the concept itself didn’t reach him.

"It was a reality instead of a game, have you been playing too much Elder Lord?”

“What if?”

"What about it? This guy, you shouldn’t do this.”

“Huh?”

"A decent guy like you shouldn’t be all caught up in games. Should I introduce you to a female?”

"Master, that’s not... just imagine it.”

“Shut up! This jerk saying something like this all of a sudden." Baek Hanho chuckled.

Ian looked down. Baek Hanho’s imagination was always open. But he didn’t even want to start this conversation.

Did that woman really have the ability to change perceptions?

Ian tried to carry on the conversation a few more times, but Baek Hanho just kept on laughing and changing the topic. It was like he couldn’t hear the dialogue that Elder Lord might be another dimension.

Ian opened his phone while talking a little bit more to Baek Hanho. There was a message.

[Oppa contacting me first, what is it?]

It was Ji Hayeon. Ian wanted to meet her. It was well known that Elder Saga Corporation was a company under the jurisdiction of Ji Hayeon’s Myeongsong Group. The first thing he thought about after closing the connection was to meet her and talk She might know something.

As Ian wrote his reply, Baek Hanho glanced at the screen of his phone.

"Hah. You already have a ‘some’ girl.”(Korean slang= link)

The word ‘some’ emerged from Baek Hanho’s mouth.

"You also know the word ‘some’.”

"This guy, I need to be caught up with the new generation’s slang if I want to manage young people.”

"At any rate, it isn’t such a relationship. I’ll be going now.”

As Ian headed towards the showers, Baek Hanho said to his back. "Don’t talk about Elder Lord not being a game in front of me. I don’t like it.”

“......”

Ian ignored him. He washed his sweat off in the shower room and left the gym. He drove near her company.

Ji Hayeon was very busy but she said she was glad to make time for Ian. Ian didn’t reply. He couldn’t spare his heart right now.

[Are you reading it now?]

He sat in the cafe where they promised to meet and received a notification on his phone. Ian opened the message and checked it before turning off his phone again.

At that moment.

“Wah, amazing. I saw it. Oppa just pretended not to see my message.”

Ji Hayeon’s voice was heard from behind him.  Ian’s face didn’t change as he responded, “Maybe.”

"What, did you decide to take off your mask? Oppa was originally like this.”

“......”

Ji Hayeon seemed to be in a good mood. She sat down on the opposite side. Her glowing beauty made her seem like she was wearing a halo. Her brown hair was wavy, like she had just been to a hair salon.

"What happened?"

She smiled.

Ian cut to the chase. "It is about Elder Lord.”

"Oh, then speak.”

"How does it work?”

"You want to know a company secret?”

“What do you know about the core system, Albino?”

“Umm...” She made a vague smile. “Are you an industrial spy?”

"I’m just curious.”

"I’m confused but I will answer. I don’t know. I don’t know anything. Everything regarding Elder Saga and Albino is confidential. What happened? Is there a bug in the game or something?”

Ian looked at her. Her eyes showed that she really knew nothing. Ian sighed. He was thinking too simple. He had been too hasty. Ian regretted trying to meet her and sipped his espresso.

“Nothing.”

Bitter. It was an okay taste. The bitter taste cleared his mind as he decided to forget about the things that he was worried about.

Whether Elder Lord was a reality or not didn’t matter. It wasn’t that he murdered people. Indeed, there was no way to prove if it was another dimension. Just turning his eyes away was enough. He lived in this world here.

There was his sister, Baek Hanho and Cafe Reason. There was Ji Hayeon who he had an old bond with and they were now drinking coffee together. This was his world. It was enough to think of Elder Lord as a dream that passed through his life for a while.

"Oh, are you smiling?”

His mind felt lighter. Ian smiled.

"I'm sorry for calling you.”

"I suddenly have a bitter feeling. I don’t like it...” Ian laughed as Ji Hayeon mock frowned at him.

"I'm sorry but can I ask for a favor?”

“If I can help then I will.”

“Umm...” 

She said. "Why don’t we talk later? Oppa.”

Ian checked his phone. Han Yeori was whining. Ian nodded.

“Yes. I will.”

***

Ian said goodbye to Ji Hayeon. She left for a work schedule. He headed towards Café Reason. He didn’t achieve anything from meeting Ji Hayeon but it felt like his head was organized.

Just don’t play Elder Lord. He would quit the game.

Ian thought so. Tiyo and Anor were there, but they could take care of themselves. He didn’t want any more suffering. The important thing to him wasn’t the world of Elder Lord, but this place. He started the game for Yiyu in the first place. Ian would defend the things important to him, including his sister and Café Reason.

That was enough. He headed downtown.

This place contained one of Han Yeori’s favorite bakeries. He was going to buy something for her there. She would whine, but eventually put the bread in her mouth with a smile. Then Yoo Sooyeon would start asking for a salary raise.

Ian smiled as he imagined it. It was a pleasant thought.

Someone suddenly spoke loudly, "Uh, what is that?”

The big screen installed on a building shone. People began to stop walking.

Ian raised his head. There. Elder Lord was being shown.

“It is no joke.”

Ian had to agree. Utter devastation. Mountains of dead bodies. A series of mosaics covered the screen.

-The Heaven and Earth Clan has turned the Adillo region into a wasteland. They have continued their unbroken march after winning against the Metatron Guild.

-It is the work of Choi Hansung, whose user name is ‘Rommel’ and who has a connection to the human kingdom. The Heaven and Earth Clan has recently received a large-scale quest. Every time they destroy the southern continent, there are enormous rewards.

-Sweeping everything away with violence. Choi Hansung, mountains of corpses are piled up behind him.

A map of Elder Lord was displayed. The Heaven and Earth Clan’s advance to the southern continent was visible. Every time a city or village was destroyed, they displayed a star and edited images of the destruction caused. The slogan ‘Choi Hansung, the nucleus of the storm sweeping Elder Lord’ came to mind.

-As the Heaven and Earth Clan is becoming prominent, the status of Koreans in the Elder Lord community has improved greatly. In many old games, South Korea was named as the powerhouse in e-sports. There is a happy concern about whether the Korean Empire will begin in Elder Lord.

-Personally, I am very proud. User Choi Hansung. And the Heaven and Earth Clan. They are building up national prestige.

“So cool.”

A passerby watching the screen muttered. Ian looked at his face. It was filled with respect.

“The best.”

Ian looked at the screen again. The tragedy of the battlefield and the history of the area destroyed were shown in turn.

Choi Hansung’s interview was quoted. Every time he killed, his rewards and the achievement points would increase exponentially. The goal of the Heaven and Earth Clan was to grow to become the strongest. They were continuing the war in the world of Elder Lord at this moment, overwhelmingly slaughtering the enemies.

The hosts analyzing Choi Hansung and the Heaven and Earth Clan changed the topic.

-Breaking news. It is said that a new large-scale quest has just been announced through the system. These things are very rare.

-Not long ago, it was reported that the hunter Shakan opened up the north. Everyone was curious about the north and their questions have been resolved today.

-There was a system message that in the north, a mad orc chieftain is preparing for a war that will lead to the destruction of the continent.

-Is a mainstream quest finally starting?

-The or chieftain has started a war against the whole north in order to invade the continent. I don’t know about matters in the north but a bloody war is about to begin. According to the system, the north is already in turmoil from the war. It is terrible.

-I look forward to it. Elder Lord. There were opinions that it has stagnated lately, but this has overturned such concerns. As expected of Elder Saga Corporation.

Ian stopped in place.

People were passing by. The crowd kept changing as Ian stood there. There was no expression on his face.

The human life.

He stood at a crossroad. His choice at this moment would change a lot.

Could he say that his choice was right? Could he say that he didn’t regret it? Where did his path lead?

Ian.

Ian was at a loss.


Glossary of Common Korean Terms.

Praise the Orc: Glossary Link. 

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