Desire (Mogma) - Chapter 5
A scent of old books filled the room. But the level of realisticness was already common in virtual games so Ajin didn’t give it much appreciation and looked around. There were thousands of books on the shelves and he didn’t even know where to start.
That was his honest thought. If it was the real world, going through all those books to find a single book would be suffering. Or one would have to ask the librarian or do a book search. But it was not the real world. It was a game. Ajin didn’t hesitate to tap on the air.
He already knew the basic controls and the tutorial processes, from the guideline. By tapping the air multiple times, Ajin brought up the menu and started rearranging the shelves. The martial arts used in FIRST was heavily influenced by the martial arts of ‘Breeze of Murim’, with some additional skills. That means the form of the martial arts could be different but fundamentally the same. To Ajin, who played ‘Breeze of Murim’ multiple times in various ways, it was a great advantage.
The area rippled, then the arrangement of the shelves totally changed from its initial arrangement. Ajin separated the martial arts from ‘Breeze of Murim’ and the slightly altered martial arts of FIRST. And from there he categorized them into fist, spear, sword, projection, and etc… After arranging the shelves in that order, Ajin thought to himself.
‘So what’s most important is inner strength.’
That’s what he acknowledged while playing ‘Breeze of Murim.’ Whatever technique he chose, the most important part was inner strength. No matter how skilled one was at a certain technique if there was no inner strength, the skills would lack speed and power.
‘I’ll choose energy preservation.’
Acacia recommended but that information was already in the guideline. They suggested beginners select two skills from the same category instead of different categories, but Ajin wanted to have mixed skills to maintain balance for example, choosing from magic and superpower. If he were to choose energy preservation and sword technique, he could master the skills faster. But if he were to choose martial arts and magic. He could choose energy preservation from martial arts and black magic from magic. He could use energy preservation as a defense and black magic to attack. Or he could choose a sword technique and mix it with magic to be some kind of a battlemage.
But that was only recommended to veterans who were used to the game. It meant that it would be difficult for beginners to master at least one of the types.
‘No, it’s alright.’
Ajin shook his head. It was definitely difficult for beginners, but he wasn’t a beginner. He started playing virtual reality games at 15 and he was 24 now so he spent 9 years in that field. The virtual games were out in the market 10 years ago so he was a veteran and he started making money from making walkthroughs at 15 too so his knowledge and expertise exceeded others.
If one chooses the same type of skills to master, then they would definitely master it deeper than those who chose to master two different skills. But it was all about luck. If he or she never masters it then they would be fucked.
In FIRST, the player and their selected special skill grew together. It probably meant that the player would get stronger and more skilled as they level up. But having two separate skill cards was better since one can’t win a jackpot with just the same skill cards.
He wanted to choose one from martial arts. Then he would choose one from magic or superpowers. The reason he was going to choose one from martial arts was simple. The game he played most recently and was most skilled in was ‘Breeze of Murim’ so he was used to martial arts. It would also be nice to start on something new but it was best to start with familiar ones. Even if it was a beta test that would reset in a month, he had to make the most out of it being a beta tester. He needed to get to the start line way before the swarming players at the official opening do.
“I have no intention to take it lightly.”
He did not play for entertainment. To Ajin, virtual reality games were his career and his way to earn a living. His income depended on it so he couldn’t take it lightly. Ajin thought to himself as he entered another room.
“Are you done selecting?”
Acacia asked Ajin, who was walking out from the library of superpowers. She was smiling, but internally Acacia was appalled. 9 hours. That was the time Ajin spent in the library. Other players took an hour at most to choose a specialized skill. They looked around the library out of curiosity but would be intimidated by the massive library so most just chose the skill recommended by the NPC. Some of them took a few hours choosing a specialized skill, but there was no one who took that long.
The reason was simple. This was a game. Most of the players wanted to skip the tutorial and play the game. Whatever they chose, the skill would grow with the player. There were minuscule differences but there was no definite difference between the skills. That balance was already established. And when players start with the skills, they can’t cancel it but they could buy or acquire a new one as they play. Of course, there would be risks at the beginning of the game but in that case, one could just delete the character and start new or just get recommendations from the NPC.
But Ajin looked around the library for 9 hours.
“No, not yet.”
Ajin answered tiredly. He didn’t even look at Acacia’s reaction and entered the library of martial arts. Acacia was utterly bored with him.
‘How much longer is he planning to look around?’
When he finally said that, it had been 12 hours in the library. Ajin shook Acacia’s shoulders, who was dozing off in a chair and woke her up. A helper NPC dozing off while waiting? He thought the realisticness of the AI was too much.
“Mmm.. Ah, sorry.”
Acacia wiped her saliva and stood up. And smiled brightly as she asked Ajin.
“What skills did you choose?”
“Energy Drain from superpowers. Blood Explosion Discipline from martial arts.
Ajin pulled out a chair as he answered. He couldn’t help to be exhausted from looking around the library for 12 hours. The play time was so long that it could affect his body in the real world but Ajin was already used to that.
“Energy Drain from superpowers. Blood Explosion Discipline from martial arts, confirm?”
Ajin replied. He chose the combination of superpower and martial arts. Energy drain literally absorbs energy from opponents. By touching the opponent, he could absorb energy and heal himself, or save it in his body. Ajin had a hard time choosing between Energy Drain and Inner Strength Absorption from martial arts. But in the end, he chose Energy Drain.
Inner Strength Absorption could absorb huge amounts of energy in one use but it also absorbed evil so if he uses it excessively, he had the risk of being possessed by a devil.
The risk of that happening would diminish if he used it carefully but Ajin concluded that Energy Drain would be efficient.
Energy Drain was similar to Inner Strength Absorption but a little different. Energy Drain only absorbed energy from others so he didn’t have to worry about the evil and with the stored energy, he could heal. There are drawbacks, Energy Drain can’t absorb as much energy as Inner Strength Absorption but the ability to heal and thus not needing potions as much outweighed it.
Actually, he was about to choose from magic because he thought the attacking strength would be lacking. He thought it would also be efficient to choose Energy Drain and magic. But what Ajin finally chose was martial arts, the Blood Explosion Discipline. He was familiar with the Blood Explosion Discipline Technique since it was in ‘Breeze of Murim’. It was the lowest Discipline technique of the Demonic Sect but by training, it could be developed into the Heavenly Demon’s Discipline Technique. However, it was impossible for Ajin to achieve that within the duration of the beta test. But it was rather simple why he chose the Blood Explosion Discipline Technique. It was because it was explosive.
Black Path Murim, and within that the Heavenly Demon sect’s discipline technique was most effective in building up inner strength rapidly and converting it to an attack. It was impossible to do the same with the White Path Murim’s discipline technique.
‘It would balance out well with Energy Drain.’
He would absorb energy by using Energy Drain and speed up the Blood Explosion Discipline Technique. Of course, in that case, he wouldn’t be able to do much damage like using a sword technique but Energy Drain could be used to tire the opponents and by building up inner strength, the Blood Explosion Technique would be deadly with just a single strike. Also, he could always acquire a Sword Technique if he felt he needed it.
“The skills you choose can’t be changed later. Are you sure you want Energy Drain and Blood Explosion Technique?”
Ajin answered, annoyed, and Acacia smiled. She nodded and lifted her hands. Then a bright light lingered around her hands and an old book made of leather and a bright spark was placed on her hands.
“Then I’ll give you your skills right now. You might experience mild dizziness.”
Pzzt! The book turned into a red spark and rushed into Ajin’s body. The bright spark followed from the other side too. Ajin closed his eyes as he felt the sparks enter. Just as Acacia warned, he felt slightly dizzy, but it wasn’t nothing to be concerned about.
[You mastered the Demonic Sect’s, the Blood Blast.]
[Your mind expands. You are enlightened with Energy Drain.]
Ajin felt the aura of the Blood Explosion Discipline Technique filling his mind and acknowledged the presence of Energy Drain. Ajin stood from the chair in faltering steps. Then collapsed on the ground and crossed his legs and positioned himself in the lotus potion.
“Uh… The next tutorial is…”
“There’s no time limit in tutorials. Wait.”
Ajin said with his eyes closed, and to that Acacia’s cheeks twitched. Hey, I have a life too! Acacia grumpily sat back on the chair. She pouted her lips and stared at Ajin.
Ajin slowly concentrated. His focused mind elevates his whole body as he mediates. He felt the blood flowing through his body and focused even more deeply. It has been nearly 10 years since he started playing virtual reality games. He was used to leaving his body in the capsule and playing games with his conscience. A ready-made body, visual world. No matter how real it seemed it was all fake. But his conscience was entirely his, and the avatar’s movements were controlled by his conscience.
The point was to acknowledge. Draw an image, and make an action signal. That’s how avatars moved. Ajin felt his body energy once again. More specifically, he felt the strength of the Blood Blast and Energy Drain flowing in his body. His conscience finally reached its destination. He found the small, compressed inner strength
He commanded the inner strength. Move, move….He felt and commanded. That was almost like self-hypnosis. Also, it was because of the newly expanded mind he acquired along the Energy Drain. The inner strength finally started moving. It moved slowly like an animal that just woke from hibernation. The inner strength then started to flow along with the energy of Blood Blast. Then it started to flow around his body, following Ajin’s commands. Ajin controlled his breathing and controlled the inner strength in his body.
It was painful. It was the first time he moved his inner strength in that world but there were no such things as satisfaction or refreshment. There was only pain that felt like his veins were tearing. The Demonic sect’s discipline technique was a power that went against nature’s principles. It was his first time so the consequences of using such powers were especially painful. Ajin chewed on his lips.
[You earned experience points.]
[You succeeded in awakening the Blood Explosion Discipline Technique.]
When he heard that, his inner strength just finished flowing through every part of his body. Ajin slowly controlled his breath and opened his eyes. His body was soaking in sweat but it didn’t feel so bad. It was because of the alleviation from the exhaustion. But, there was mild pain when he moved.
Ajin brought up his status immediately.
Demonic Strength: N/A
Mental Strength: 500/500
Inner Strength: 500/500
That was it. Other than strength, demonic strength, mental strength, and inner strength, there were no stats. It was because the stats system didn’t exist. Looking at his simple stat window, Ajin brought up the Skills window.
Blood Blast: 1st Star (7%)
Energy Drain: Lv.1 (0%)
With just one awakening, it was 7%. Ajin checked the time. It had already been 2 hours. Playtime, 14 hours. The record he set before was 31 hours or something. He had time to spare. Ajin closed his eyes again.
“Hey, are you going to continue?”
Acacia asked, but Ajin ignored her.
He was planning to level up the Blood Blast to at least the 5th star. He was going to continue the tutorial after. If he leveled up now, he would easily hunt when the real game starts. He could earn points to level up techniques like a Sword technique, but he can’t level up just from hunting. His mastery would increase if he used his inner strength but the fastest way to increase the star of a technique was to meditate and let the energy flow inside.