Shin checked his magic and martial skills, activating some of them to see if anything had changed in the way they worked. Luckily enough, there was nothing around him that would cause problems if it was destroyed, so he could also try some of his more powerful skills.
What Shin understood after creating a few craters in the ground was that the lag after using a martial skill and the waiting time before using it again had both disappeared. He also noticed that he could adjust the offensive power of magic skills, among other things.
Until now Shin had been in a world that, however realistic, was still a game, so he thought it natural for such restrictions to exist. They would not exist in reality, however.
Forcing his body to regain its balance after losing it due to the recoil from a martial skill -this kind of unrealistic movement too was now impossible. Because of the disappearance of such game-like characteristics, he had to start worrying about delicate injuries such as hurting his ankles or joints while moving, something completely obvious in reality.
After all, Shin was no longer inside a game world. If he was attacked, he wouldn’t just lose HP. If he didn’t always act with caution, he might not get the chance to do so when it was really necessary.
Shin repeated to himself that the world he was in now was his reality.
He found himself confused about the differences between the game world and the world he was in now: he realized that THE NEW GATE’s virtual reality had become a kind of “second reality” for him.
With a bitter laugh, Shin thought that this place had to be his “Third reality”, then.
It had taken him for a relatively long time to adapt to the “Second Reality”, the game world, but the process was much quicker for this “Third Reality”.
Shin was almost baffled at himself: he was a powerless husk until moments ago, but was now moving and jumping around, with energy to spare.
“Okay, time to go.”
Shin pulled out a sort of bookmark from the item box: he placed this plain-looking white paper slip on his forehead.
As Shin chanted, the bookmark sparkled and turned first into a globe of light the size of a baseball, then into a hawk-like shape.
The shining hawk floated in midair, its head pointing to a certain direction.
What Shin had used was the 『Guiding Sign』 item, which showed the direction of a desired registered destination. It was usually used to make it remember the location of healing points in the field, but Shin used it by recording his home point in it.
As the map was not available anymore, he had no idea where he currently was: checking the 『Guiding Sign』’s registered locations, however, he found out that his home was selectable, so he decided to go there first of all.
Incidentally, the light turning into a hawk was just Shin’s preference: it changed to what the player wanted it to.
“To home sweet home we go!”
Shin started running in the direction signaled by the light. The distance shown when selecting the destination was 67 kemel. One kemel more or less corresponded to 1 kilometer, meaning that the distance was roughly 67 km.
Normally, it would be a tough distance to go on foot, but Shin’s boosted leg power was far from normal. Even when just lightly running, he could reach an impressive speed.
Shin’s running speed already topped 70 km/h. He was not boarding a vehicle, so he could maintain the speed everywhere, even through thick forests or craggy wastelands.
Speeding through the wind was a really pleasant sensation: as if dispelling the heavy feelings in his chest after he woke up, Shin raised his voice while running.
It was a bit like a runner’s high.
Shin didn’t know how long he could keep this up, but he didn’t feel like he was losing any energy and could run forever: he kept rushing ahead without resting.
On the way, he spotted the monsters “Tetra Grizzly”, “Twin-head Snake” and “Flame Boar”: in order to check how powerful they were, he fought them as soon as he found them.
The monsters’ strength was, in order, Bear – Snake – Boar, their respective levels 87, 68 and 79.
The names and levels had been displayed by 【Analyze X】, so there was no doubt about them.
They were monsters that endlessly repeated simple action patterns and were often hunted by beginner players, so Shin could defeat them with ease.
Fighting in this world, however, he had noticed a tricky and “dirty” behavior, typical of living creatures, which gave him chills.
Shin traversed a grassy plain, leapt over boulders and crossed through a forest in the span of about an hour. Just as tall castle walls came into sight, the light hawk started flashing, signaling that he was close to his destination.
Shin slowed down and stopped.
The direction shown by the light hawk deviated slightly from the castle walls, pointing to a small forest near the walls. If Shin’s memory was correct, there shouldn’t be a town protected by castle walls near his home.
“When did this pop out?”
Shin looked at the tall walls and mumbled to himself.
The walls looked as tall as a six-floor building, built from carved stone blocks placed one atop the other, giving an extremely sturdy impression. The walls looked damaged in places, possibly because of monster attacks or maybe military conflicts.
In the game, assault events involving large groups of players happened often: Shin had participated too. He noticed that the walls possessed high-level monster protection, petrification and magic-weakening enchantments and thought that they would be difficult to tear down.
Shin assumed there was a town inside, but did not know for sure. Being surrounded by such great walls, he thought that it probably wasn’t just ruins inside.
Concluding that he had nothing to do with it for the moment, Shin returned to look at the forest, in the direction the hawk was pointing towards.
After walking about 100 mel, he found himself in an area with clearly different flora in the surroundings. The plants and trees he had seen until now were 30-40 cemel wide at most, while in the space he was in now there were large trees more than 1 mel wide.
In the center, surrounded by these large trees, stood a nostalgic building.
It was a single house, built with stone and wood: the sign above the curtains leading to its entrance said “General Store – Tsuki no Hokora”, in large characters.
“It looks pretty much the same.”
Tsuki no Hokora looked just like when Shin last saw it, before the final battle against Origin. Finding his home unchanged gave Shin a feeling of deep relief.
“General Store – Tsuki no Hokora”, the store Shin managed in the game, was a general store that handled weapons, armor and items and also acted as his living space.
Shin used it to sell what he found in the field or in dungeons and also the items he sometimes created. The fields and dungeons Shin frequented were inhabited by high level monsters, so he could easily gather rare items and materials.
Tsuki no Hokora was thus famous among advanced players for its selection of hard-to-find wares. Some items were quite expensive, because of their rarity, but another reason was probably that almost only advanced players could buy them.
Remembering his store’s bustling days (although it was rarely crowded), Shin opened the entrance’s curtains and the door behind them. How would the store, which contained nothing but a reception and a rack with goods, look now?
In the store, Shin found several armor-clad men and women. Noticing his entrance, two of them came closer.
“Apologies, but we’re in the middle of something here. Why don’t you come back later?”
A young man with blonde hair and an ostentatiously decorated armor approached Shin. He was about as tall as Shin, but probably because he was trained, his arms and legs were thicker than Shin’s.
“Did something happen?”
“I’m telling you to get out now!!”
Shin tried to inquire about the situation, but was rebuked by a brown-haired young man’s angry tone.
Just like his blonde comrade, he was wearing an exaggeratedly decorated armor. He was about one head taller than Shin, his physique fittingly robust.
Shin concluded that there was no point in speaking politely with him and protested in his usual tone.
“It’s a problem for me if I can’t get in now.”
“Silence! Don’t you dare talk back, lowly adventurer!”
“Hey, calm down Ilan!”
The brown-haired young man’s name was Ilan, apparently.
Maybe irritated by Shin’s resistance, Ilan decided to throw him out of the store and tried to hit Shin’s solar plexus with his palm. Shin made no attempt of dodging, so Ilan thought he would be a pushover, his mouth twisting in a grin.
Shin didn’t even flinch, however. Ilan, on the other hand, lost his balance and fell down on his butt. Because of the clash between the floor and the armor, the sound of the fall was too loud for all present in the store not to notice.
All eyes turned towards Ilan. He looked stupefied, unable to grasp the situation, while Shin looked awkward because of the development.
“Kh, damn you!!”
Ilan, enraged, grabbed the hilt of his sword, when a voice boomed throughout the store and made him freeze.
“What is this ruckus!”
Shin sighed internally, noticing how things had gotten troublesome.