Chapter 11 – Third Time’s The Charm

Shesmu stood in front of the training dummy while holding his sword with one hand. His eyes were closed and breath steady. He stood still, not moving in the slightest. However, while he showed no sign of aggression externally, Shesmu was waging a more decisive war, and its battlefield was in his mind.

Taking a deep breath, Shesmu replayed the sequence of attacks he just did in his mind. As if his mind was a Slow-motion camera, he saw himself making that attack slowly. He noticed every detail, every breath he took, the speed by which his sword was moving, its angle and more.

 The sword kept slashing and Shesmu kept observing. Slash after slash, he would observe the most minute details. Everytime, he would become much better and more proficient.

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Chapter 10 – Setback

The sword felt heavy, it felt heavy and slippery. He didn’t need to use it to know that when he slashes with it, it would be the sloppiest slash he did in a long, long time.

Shesmu instinctively knew what was happening. He knew what was happening to his body, to his mind—he knew it. However, he couldn’t accept it.

“Heyo.”

“Young’un!”

“Are you okay?!”

However, the old man’s words fell into deaf ears. Shesmu’s eyes didn’t even respond to only shouting, only glued to his sword. 

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Chapter 9 – First-In

“Good luck in Ashes of Gods, Mark.”

With these parting words, Gabriel’s right hand glittered in a myriad of colors as she swiped in the air creating a colorful tear in space. As if she pulled a curtain, Shesmu’s vision turned a golden white for a second, before he saw himself materializing in another place, kneeling on the ground.

 The floor was made out of wood. Shesmu could feel its dry and grained texture. For some reason, even though he already experienced the realism of Ashes of Gods countless times in his past life, he still felt surprised at the sensation. It was as if this was the first time Shesmu entered this world.

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Chapter 8 – Cat And Mouse

Looking at Gabriel, Mark steeled his heart before saying, “Can I look at the full body structure of my avatar? Everything that is inside it.”

Gabriel’s face froze. She didn’t respond for a few seconds, completely ignoring Shesmu. Although she didn’t say anything, Shesmu knew what was going on in the angel’s mind. 

Right at that very moment, she was sending thousands of requests to a higher tier system—one with more clearance. That was because that simple question Shesmu asked was something that none of the AIs governing Ashes of Gods expected to be asked, especially so early in the release. 

Gabriel’s frozen face finally cracked into a smile.

“Interesting, really interesting. I’m not sure if this is a coincidence, or if you have some kind of information. Either way, yes, you can see the full body, with everything that is inside it.”

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Chapter 7 – Déjà Vu

As the voice finished, the blinding light finally dimmed out. And from the pure white, a lively mixture of green and blue was born. A warm zephyr tickled his legs before transforming into a violent gale that catapulted him upwards. The wind pressure didn’t cut his skin, nor did it pressure his lungs. In fact, the whole experience felt surreal. 

“Ah,” Letting out the breath that he held for the longest time, Shesmu gasped.

Slowly opening his eyes, Shesmu found himself high in the sky. Even though he experienced this scene thousands of times already, he still felt his adrenaline pumping as he looked at the green grass on the ever dwarfing plateau. 

“Kraaaw!”

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Chapter 6 – Secret

“I… I came back from the future.”

Hearing those words, Allan was shocked. He looked at Shesmu in the eyes, and seeing how serious they were, he knew that this wasn’t a joke. He hurriedly covered Shesmu’s mouth and gestured him to not talk. They made their way out of the park without even responding to Mike’s greeting, leaving the latter confused. The duo entered Allan’s car before he drove off.

“What’s going on? Where are we going?”

Allan looked at Shesmu for a second, before continuing to drive without responding. 

Suddenly, a metallic voice announced, “Allan, it is advised for your safety and the safety of your passengers to activate the auto-driving system. It is known that accidents are a million times more likely to happen with a human driver rather than the fully automatic driving system.”

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Chapter 5 – Throwback

“You have said before that Ashes of God was your pet project long before it was taken by Omega9, how is that?”

The interviewer stretched his hand for his guest to speak. A middle aged man with a round frame that already lost half of his hair.

“Ashes of God was a project that me and some of my friends were working on since our university days. We’ve put in lots of effort, sleepless nights, missed classes… By the end of the four years, we had a functioning product. It’s just that it was nothing like we first envisioned. We had a dream, but we dreamt too big. Like Icarus flying to the sun, our wings were burnt and we were about to fall from the skies. That’s when Omega9 approached us.”

The barrage of juicy information was something that the interviewer didn’t expect, but it was a welcome surprise. A smile covered his face.

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Chapter 4 – Omen

The sandy winds howled and weeped, and with it the cries of the innocent. Beasts of all kinds roamed the ruined city. Shesmu watched in horror as corpses formed mountains, blood formed rivers, and all the while the monsters’ hunger wasn’t satisfied.

“Papa!”

A voice he knew all too well. He turned around, but he couldn’t find her. Only corpses and destroyed buildings. Shesmu was shocked. This kind of horror, it’s something he has never seen before. The pale skin, the vacant eyes, the red blood. Shesmu looked away, no longer able to stare at the dead. 

“Papa!”

He heard it again. This time fainter and farther away. He moved towards the direction of the sound, but carefully. He took refuge in the vacant buildings, safe from the ogres and chimeras that roamed the city. Slowly, he made his way, the sound of his daughter his only guide.

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Chapter 3 – The Gust Before The Storm

With the threat of Crescent vanquished, Fate could finally sigh in relief. The priestess was replenishing Vez’ vigor using her spells, while the latter rested on the grass. Suddenly, a portal opened. A man wearing a dark robe stepped out of it.

“Cain.” The priestess stopped her treatment of Vez and walked closer to the dark magician. “Crescent stole the World Serpent. So, the fight against the guardian is going to be hard.” 

“Oh, about that.” Cain summoned a scroll to his hand. “The Arcane scroll is going to solve that problem.”

“Oh, a summoning type! Nice one, Cain.” Fate jumped on Cain’s back and scratched his head. Her chest rubbed dangerously against Cain’s back, making the latter uncomfortable.

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Chapter 2 – Crescent’s Domination

The orb that revealed Crescent’s presence pulsated once again, warning Rev of a further plot of some sort. It was him, and he was alive and well. He’d appeared above the boss, the sclera of his eyes turned black, his blue pupils now red. He emanated a dark aura, towering hundreds of feet above the ground. Multiple red magic circles formed and rotated all around him. These magic circles flew out and encircled the World Serpent, creating a six-headed star. Nine flame dragons flew out from the magical star. All of them far larger than the dragon that had formed as his supposedly final gambit against Rev. This was his true strength!

The nine dragons stood majestically before the Black Moon players. The blonde priestess materialized a grey orb. The object pulsated, generating a wave of disturbance that rippled through the mighty dragons. It had no effect.

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