Chapter 56: Truth And Sorrow

Arthur stayed silent at Shesmu’s revelation before sighing and looking at the ground. He then puffed his chest, looked at Shesmu in the eye and hand shook him.

“Okay, you got it, man. I’ll keep an eye on the boys.”

“Thanks, and sorry, Arthur.”

“Don’t sweat it, I know you mean well.”

Arthur then looked at his party still fighting behind him.

“Anyway, I can’t let them hold the flank alone. I’ll have to go.”

“Yeah, do that. And keep an eye on the mist, don’t let your boys wander too far.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, don’t worry.”

Arthur then turned around and took quick steps towards his teammates. Shesmu, who was looking at that just sighed and turned around to look at Hector’s party. Hector, who was at the front, had wounds all over his body. However, one quick inspect let Shesmu know that he was doing fine in the HP department.

Well, potions can recover HP, but their healing of actual wounds is limited and slow.

Even though Hector’s wounds looked painful, all of them were just surface level. Hector stood strong, ax in hand, defending his teammates from the horde of hounds. The party kept repeating the same pattern, changing only when Hector’s HP falls too low. When that happens, an offtank takes his place while he chugs down Health potions.

“Hey, Hector. Does it sting?”

Shesmu walked towards the standing down Hector, tending to his wounds.

“Haha, this is nothing, just a few scratches. But damn, this game is really hardcore. What is the pain sensitivity set at? 20%? 30%?”

“Yeah, it is. About that pain sensitivity. Actually, there is a way to decrease it if you want.”

“Really? That’s a new one. I thought that it would be set by the system like always.”

“Oh, you can change pain setting?”

Julia announced her presence to Shesmu with a pat on the back. With quick, cheerful steps, she stepped in between Shesmu and Hector, making the latter flinch.

“Hey, Hector. My name is Julia, vice-captain of Everlast, Arthur’s party.”

Julia invited Hector for a handshake, to which he swiftly complied.

“Pleased to meet you. Hector, captain of Apollyon.”

“I thought that you were holding off the hounds, was your shift over?” asked Shesmu.

“The hounds aren’t that strong, and I trimmed them enough that even the newbies can deal with them. Plus, if anything happens, Arthur and that idiot Owl are still there. But don’t mind that, what is this thing about pain setting? I didn’t even know that such a feature existed. And here I thought that the sensitivity was much higher than standard.”

“Yeah, just go to your character screen, settings, look around you’ll find the pain sensitivity slider under the audio one. It’s way down there, after all the graphics stuff about blood and gore bullcrap.”

“Oh, I can’t believe I missed it. Games don’t usually give you this option, so I never thought about it,” said Julia.

“Interesting, I wonder what is the maximum that you can put. Surely, it must be some low number like 20 or 30%, else if some kid just pushes it to the limit and wake up the day after on the hospital, it will be all over the news, haha!”

“Yeah, the limit is around that. As for the hospital thing, I’m not sure, but a friend of mine got the full of hit of a boss charge in the face and was disconnected. He came back later and said that the game disconnected him because of a shock past the permitted values. Maybe that’s the mechanism they have,” Shesmu explained.

“Oh, that’s interesting. Is that why your friend there is knocked off?”

Hector pointed at DepressedRyan who was still on Shesmu’s back.

“Ah, Ryan. It’s a bit different. It did start with him taking a shock in a boss fight, but later on we got a notification that it’s part of a quest. Though I’m not too sure about the details. It’s one of those where you just go on and hope that the game handhold you at some point for you to finish them.”

“Haha, I see, I see. Well, that’s lucky for you guys. Getting a unique quest so early, I’m jealous. Hope you optimize your run through it well for the live game. You don’t want to spend too much time on one thing and let the pack run ahead.”

“I completely agree with Hector here. I’m sure you know this already since you seem to be a good player, but sometimes even the best quests are not worth it if they take too long. So keep that in mind.”

“Yeah, don’t worry. I’m not a noob, now, am I?”

“Haha, if you are a noob when you passed through this thing like a breeze, what does it say about us? Haha!”

Hector’s jovial laughter made Julia smirk for a second.

“Oh, really. I’m not sure about you, but our guild was in the top 5000 in Demon Heart. I think, my advice holds a little bit of weight.”

Julia’s passive aggressiveness only made Hector smile even further.

“Haha, little miss is a pro,” He then passed his arm over Shesmu’s shoulders before continuing. “It’s just that, this guy is Shesmu. You know God speed Shesmu, from Dawn’s Resonance.”

Julia’s eyes turned wide for a second.

“Wait, for real?! God Speed Shesmu? How?! He doesn’t look anything like him?”

Hector laughed even harder than before at Julia’s reaction.

“Haha, what are you talking about? This is a new MMO, of course, his looks are going to change. But skills don’t change,” Hector then looked at Shesmu in the eyes. “You still have that same bait and punish style. Start with a flurry then throw a feint into a punish, that’s so annoying.”

Shesmu looked at Hector in the eye for a second and raised his eyebrow. His face didn’t tell him much, but the way he presented himself made him think that they knew each other at some point.

Hector took the hint and introduced himself.

“I took a couple of coaching sessions from you at some point. Remember, the big guy that always wanted to copy your style. You always said to just forget about that.”

Shesmu scratched his head for a second before just laughing it off.

“Sorry dude, can’t remember. But hey, you did heed my advice to not copy my style. Look at you now, you’re a fine tank!”

While Hector was laughing even more jovially than before, Julia was still in a state of shock.

“Wait, are you guys for real? Are you really that Shesmu? The Ace of Dawn’s Resonance?!”

Shesmu’s eyebrows slanted inward.

“Yes, I don’t think I should say it even more times than I already did. And, I’m no longer the Ace of Dawn’s Resonance, because I’m no longer part of Dawn’s Resonance.”

For a second, Julia’s eyes stayed wide, unblinking.

“Oh, I just saw the post yesterday. I’m sorry.”

Shesmu looked at Hector for a second. He then just sighed, looked up and focused back on Hector.

“Don’t be, it’s a thing of the past in any case.” Shesmu then thought, Yeah, it is a thing of the past. One that I can barely remember at this point. I just hope that Seth jumps the boat earlier in this timeline.

He then continued, “Let’s forget about that. Today was a fun one. We got on the first day of the beta, reached the 3rd floor of this tower, we gathered a lot of information. With how stagnant Demon Heart has been lately, I’m sure that it’s going to be overthrown by another game sooner or later. I’m putting my money on this one. Let’s work hard to become the top dogs and stay the top dogs!”

After Shesmu’s speech, Hector became hyped up.

“That’s the spirit!”

While Shesmu, Julia and Hector were talking in the back, Kazumi, Amaterasu, and Leo were still fighting against the hounds.

“Only five more left, stay focused!”

Both Kazumi and Amaterasu clenched the handle of their sword even harder, preparing for the hounds’ incoming attacks. Their feet looked to be in constant movement. However, if you look closely, one foot always stayed as a pivot while the other one danced forward and backward.

Two hounds ran towards Kazumi and Amaterasu while Leo kept holding the other three. With one hand on the handle and the other on the fuller of the blade, Leo held the sword horizontally. This way, he could keep the frenzied beasts a bay.

The two hounds that went by Leo pounced on Kazumi and Amaterasu. The two in synchronized motion took one step back with their dancing foot and slashed the monsters. They then activated Empowered Thrust to finish the hounds once and for all.

After a defeated wail, the two beasts fell on the ground, blood gurgling out of their chests. The two warriors shook their sword with one downward motion of their arm splattering the blood on their blades all over the ground before sheathing them.

Leo who was still holding the three hounds with the middle of his blade shouted out.

“Hey, you two. No time to look cool, come and help me here.”

Following Leo’s shout, Amaterasu and Kazumi looked at each other in the eyes almost simultaneously before letting out a chuckle.

“We’re coming,” Amaterasu replied.

The duo then dashed towards the hounds. With one green flash, each of the appeared behind the back of a hound on each side. With one empowered slash, followed by a normal one, the hounds HP dropped to zero.

Leo, seeing that only the hound gnawing at his sword was left, took a forceful step back, making the beast fall off balance. Leo’s sword flashed green before it fell vertically on the beast’s head, slashing it in two.

“That was a nice one. Good job all, you did well.”

Kazumi turned around to look at Hector and Arthur’s parties.

“It seems that everyone else is close to being done too.”

“Well, they do have more members. It would be weirder if they weren’t close to being done.”

At Amaterasu’s sharp remark, Kazumi just scratched his head and laughed awkwardly.

After looking at Kazumi’s reaction, Amaterasu raised her head and looked around.

“In any case, something feels different. This place seems to have become less foggy, we can actually see past our nose now.”

When Amaterasu pointed out this fact, both Leo and Amaterasu turned around to look at their surroundings.

“You’re right. Before, I could barely see five meters in front of me. It’s much better now.”

While Leo was pondering deeply about this weird phenomenon, Kazumi just smiled wildly.

“Isn’t it better this way? We can finally see our opponents, this will make things much easier!”

Amaterasu’s eyes widened for a moment before she just smiled at Kazumi’s innocence.

“Sometimes, you really can be dumb, Kazumi. But, you’re right, it’s better this way.”

“Yeah, you’re right, Kazumi. It’s much better this way. In any case, now that we’re done, we should probably regroup with Shesmu. We need to get moving or else we won’t have enough time.”

The countdown on top of their vision never stopped, the seconds ticked down and 30 minutes were used already. Leo looked at his minimap and saw that they were barely a fraction of the way to their destination.

The trio was making their way towards Shesmu when Amaterasu asked.

“Hey, Leo, were you friends with Shesmu for a long time? Your relationship seems to be a bit weird to me.”

“No, not really. We just met today.”

Amaterasu was shocked at this reveal.

“For real? He seems to really care about you.”

“You think so too?” Leo laughed. He then awkwardly looked down. “Who knows? Maybe I was his friend in the future, Haha.”

Leo stayed silent for a bit before continuing, “It’s really weird, you know. Am I the weird one for feeling awkward when someone cares about me? Ryan wasn’t like that, he seemed to really enjoy being with Shesmu. He even proposed that brother for life thing that he only ever suggested to me once. Ahh, I really don’t know what to make of any of this.”

For a second, Amaterasu looked with pity at Leo. Kazumi on the other hand just stayed silent, only stealing a few glances here and there.

“So, what do you think? Do you enjoy staying friends with Shesmu?”

For a second, Leo looked panicked. His eyes widened and his jaw hung low. He then looked down, calmed himself down before looking at Amaterasu again.

“I don’t know. I’m happy that Ryan is happy, and at this point, I really consider Shesmu a friend. It’s just that-it’s just that there are so many things that I don’t even know, and this whole friendship feels so fake. It’s as if it’s predestined and I hate that!”

Leo’s outburst and intense feelings shook Amaterasu. For a second, she didn’t know what to say or think. She looked down and then up, not sure where to look until something caught her eyes. From behind the white mist, Shesmu was watching. A single tear fell down his cheeks.

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