Chapter 1 – The Greatest Polymath
“Hmm… I guess it’s about time they showed up.”
Harsh solar winds scathed by as they tormented the barren landscape of molten rock and ashen skies. Once, a magnificent and ferocious beast that ruled these fiery domains, now, it laid on the ground, defeated, as its wine colored life oozed out from its corpse- a ‘Red Dragon’. Standing atop of this epic monster was a single man, adorned in an elegant white coat with a mysterious black suit worn beneath; a man who was recognized as the strongest existence in this world…
Came roaring an echo from behind. Turning just his head to glimpse at who it was, Mordred was met with a gracious reception of his most adoring fans; a small expedition party of about twenty four people. Armed to the teeth with heavy-plated armor and all manner of exotic weaponry, they all greeted him with bloodied and savage, but uneasy smiles. ‘Just in time,’ he thought to himself as he returned a smile of his own.
It was a completely normal smile but from the looks of blood chilled shock and hesitation it was clear that they understood the vast chasm of power that existed between them. Of course this was already something they had known, else why would these heavily armed veteran warriors need to bring an entire expedition party usually reserved for taking out gigantic and powerful beasts to slay one man?
They could feel his immense pressure while only just standing a few meters away. Some of them even took steps back, while others stopped breathing altogether in preparation. In this brief exchange of silence one thing was made painful obvious, that only one party would leave after this.
“H- Heh… w- what do you think you can do against all of us? Sure, you’re strong, horrifyingly so, but we’ve brought an entire raid expedition!”
The corners of Mordred’s mouth curled up once more. He focused his gaze and peered beyond these gathered warriors. ‘Ah, I see,’ he understood, it wasn’t just this one raid expedition but several more were lying in wait just outside the raid zone. ‘One… two… five? No… seven! There’s seven more raid expeditions!’ with each raid expedition containing twenty four members, 192 people in total had gathered here just to defeat a single man.
‘Their gear, hmm… they’re no scrubs. Oh, how wonderful,’ Mordred couldn’t contain the light trembling he felt in his heart as he stood behind what amounted to a small army. A great honor; it was an acknowledgement from these people to a testament of just how powerful of an existence he had reached.
“Excellent, then I’ll accept your futile challenge. Come!”
He spread his arms and taunted to them in the most welcoming manner possible. They all wanted to see him defeated and groveling on the floor, yet even as he openly presented himself for a direct attack the warriors contesting him did not take a single step forward. They were too scared…
"What’s wrong?! Didn’t you gather all of these people just to hunt little ol’ me?! I’m waiting; come!”
As he continued to taunt, only after a full minute had elapsed of just standing by, a bolt of fire erupted, flying furiously towards his face. It was fast, almost to the point of it being instantaneous, but even as Mordred could see it roaring at him in real time he did nothing to defend himself.
Bursting into a cloud of fiery ash and dust, Mordred’s fate was unknown.
“Did… did we get him?”
One of the members of the party asked.
"Are you an idiot? If that was all it took then there would have been no meaning in gathering all of these people. Get ready, he’s going to start attacking.”
“Hah… hahaha! Hahahahahaaaa….!! Excellent! Then let’s begin the party!”
From behind the thick veil of charcoal colored dust, a very distinct and ominous red light was emitted. The other warriors, they did not know what this light entailed, however the leader of these men did. Instantly recognizing what was coming he turned back and shouted at the warriors behind him.
Yet the men looked towards each other with equal confusion as their leader was desperate.
“Leader, what are you-”
Before one of the warriors could even ask about what it was that they needed to run from, they had exploded on the spot. Precisely speaking they were struck by a large fiery boulder that fell down from the ashen clouds above. They did not notice it at first since the ambiance of the zone was already plastered with bleak red, but a spell known as [Hell Storm] was activated.
“Holy Shit! Five of us just got blown up! How powerful is this spell?!”
Another warrior shouted as he pointed to a large crater that was made from the impact of a single meteoric fragment alone. The other warriors finally understood the desperation of their situation and started to scatter in all directions. Yet Hell Storm was an ability that continued to hail down meteoric fragments from the sky with unrelenting brutality.
Even as the warriors tried to run, many of them were struck down by and were instantly eviscerated on the spot.
“What the shit is this?!”
“Is this even allowed?”
“Holy mother of- that guy is broken as hell!”
“Seriously?! GM?! Patch this?!”
“This is just a glitch right?! No way two third of us just got destroyed in a single attack!”
After a few more moments had passed only one person from this raid expedition had survived, their leader. Profusely sweating with anxiety creeping up his spine he fell to his back as Mordred triumphantly stood on top of the bodies of his fallen comrades. ‘All of that time, money and coordination… gone,’ a disproportionate amount of effort had gone into hunting down a single man… a single player, yet even that was not enough.
“That was fun… but Mr. Leader, your party’s been wiped. It’s a shame though, you’ve brought along so many friends just to PK a single player, actually it’s almost comical.”
The leader grit his teeth, unable to hold back his laughter at the absurdity of this man’s powers.
“Haha…hah? What the hell? Does equipment on that level even exist in this game?”
Mordred smirked as he shrugged.
“I don’t know, but I do know that I’m the only one who has them. I mean, hey, this game is far from balanced and with enough time and money even you could reach my level. Well, not that many people would actually take it that far… but that’s just fine with me being the only one at the top.”
An MMORPG that had captured the hearts and mind of millions of players from all over the globe. With an estimated total of around 24 million concurrent players at any given time, it was one of the, if not the best, selling game in history. While its combat systems weren’t all that different from other games its mechanics and play style was rather unique.
‘Classes’ existed, but they weren’t strict and any player could learn skills from all classes at any given time. Of course there was a specific number of ways to utilize the most effective skills but for the most part people learnt skills to their own liking and customization.
A [Warrior] could pick up a bow and start learning skills from the [Archery] class and intermingle them together to create a kind of hybrid ranger type. Then once he had mastered both classes he could move on, perhaps to [Magician], or [Alchemist] or any of the other 10 classes.
Each class contained a level ceiling of 200, and on average took slightly less than half a year of casual playing or about 2 months of hardcore playtime to reach their maximum cap.
The various classes were divided into:
If they had completed training all skills to their limit then they were able to unlock a special 11th class known as ‘Demi-God’. A class so rare that most people had only ever seen them in screenshots.
Of course, there were a handful of players that had reached the absolute maximum on all classes however they were far and few between. Most of them had already long left the game behind.
To those players… to they who had reached the top, they were given a special title. They were known as the [Polymaths].
Only one Polymath remained in the game.
“Well, I think that’s enough fun for one day.”
A certain young man had spoken to himself as he logged off of his online game. He sat at his desk, blankly staring back at the log in screen and sighed. Ever since he had reached the pinnacle of power in that game he merely logged in from time to time to play around just as he did. All motivations of grinding and getting stronger were thrown out the window now that he had actually achieved them.
He wasn’t quite bored with the game but it was getting close to that point, only playing around in fun unofficial events like raids to hunt him down. Turning off his screen he shook his head.
“Haah… I think I’ll take a shower and go to bed.”
Getting lazily off his desk he dragged his scrawny body towards the shower. As the water ran down his back, he was once again lost in deep contemplation. ‘There’s school tomorrow… I guess I’ll skip it,’ he thought to himself, dismissing the very idea of a compulsory education. It wasn’t that he was particularly looking down on the system nor was he scorning the people who happily lived their highschool lives, it was just not quite something he would do.
Most students who were truants had hard times keeping up, especially after entire nights wasted to gaming, but his grades were surprisingly good, thus justifying to himself that he didn’t need to attend school.
After he finished washing up, he climbed down stairs to his bleak and empty house. He made his way over to the answering machine and checked to see if there were any, though only one person came to his mind that would send him any sort of message.
Right on point.
“Umm, hello? Hey! It’s your uncle, you haven’t been answering your smartphone for a while so I was worried if something had happened. Anyway, I checked past your house earlier today and saw the lights on so I think everything’s okay. Well, I received a call from your school saying that you’ve been skipping a lot and that they’re also getting worried. I understand how you are but I still think that it would be a valuable experience for you to attend, else they might resort to holding you back. Other than that, I’m also calling about a Christmas party we’re having and that you should come celebrate with my family. Your cousins were saying that they wanted to see you as well… so, hope to see you soon okay? Just… be careful, alright buddy?”
The young man sighed as he listened. Dryly smiling in self-loathing.
“… Sorry uncle, it’s impossible for me after all.”
He did not feel any enmity towards his uncle and relatives, in fact he was extremely grateful that they were so caring. However it was because of this that he didn’t feel right about barging in on their happiness. His parents had already passed away when he was younger and ever since he had lived on his own so as to not be a burden on other relatives.
Just his uncle dropping by a few times a month to see how he was doing was enough for him. But that was as far as he wanted their relationship to extend.
Sighing one more time he checked for other message but there were none. ‘Of course,’ he thought to himself as he decided to head back to his room to sleep it off. Climbing back up the stairs he noticed a strange light coming from his room.
‘Did I leave my monitor on?’ he wondered to himself but he distinctly remembered turning it off. Puzzled he walked back into his room to see that it was indeed his monitor that was the source of the light. The screen itself was black, as though it were off but very visibly written on the screen were the words.
‘Welcome to Aria.’
He turned his monitor back on and checked his computer as to what that message was. The message had disappeared, ‘a virus? No, it can’t be…’ he had updated his computer with the latest anti-malware program and regularly maintained it, thus it was doubtful to him that it was actually a virus. Rather, the entire thing seemed odd; his monitor was off yet a message was able to pop back up.
“There’s nothing here…”
A few minutes went by, then perhaps an hour or two but even after extensive searching he couldn’t find the origin of that message. No viruses, no anomalies, his computer didn’t slow down, didn’t have any other weird pop ups and none of his files were erased or altered. It was almost as though it was just a hallucination.
“Tch… just what is it?”
This situation where he couldn’t identify the problem only served to aggravate him further. It would’ve have been a load off his shoulders if it had actually been some sort of virus because then he’d have been able to do something about it.
He stood up, sweating from the anger. Thirst he wanted to go back down to get a drink and calm himself down, however as he was about to do just that a powerful migraine overcame him. Unable to continue supporting himself he fell to his knees and tried to apply as much pressure as he could on his head.
It hurt, perhaps more so than actual torture, or at least that’s what it seemed like to him at the time. It was as though his brain was literally burning up.
Unable to continue enduring the pain he fainted. All of his senses slowly fading away into a dark void, he no longer even had the power to panic. His eyelids began feeling a lot heavier…
Gracias por leer!