The first thing he felt was wind.
In his still hazy consciousness, Shin felt a warm breeze on his skin.
He then felt something hard on his back and a sort of sweet scent tickling his nostrils.
The surroundings were dark, probably because his eyes were still closed.
Shin opened his eyes while sitting up. He first noticed the wide plains, then the sparse woods in the distance.
Pink and white flowers bloomed profusely around the place Shin had been sleeping on. They were the source of the sweet scent he had picked up at first.
Shin, trying to solve the riddle of where he was, put his head to work.
(Today I fought the boss of the Gate to the Otherworld, Origin, and won…yeah, I cleared THE NEW GATE, and it became possible to log out. Everyone was free, then I was the last one left…)
His mind gradually became clearer.
The last thing Shin saw was—
Yes, defeating Origin meant that everyone was free, so Shin had tried to log out too. Just before he could log out, the gate before him had opened and he had lost consciousness.
“What was that about, anyway. And now I’m…”
Shin looked all around himself, but could not find anything.
“Am I still in the game, maybe?”
Shin wasn’t sure if his fingers had actually pressed the log out option or not.
Shin thought that the white light was some kind of event and he hadn’t logged out yet: he tried opening the menu to confirm.
The half-transparent screen that appeared before his eyes, its items…there was no mistake, it was THE NEW GATE’s menu screen.
“What, so I’m really still in the game?”
Recovering from the surprise, Shin looked down to the bottom of the menu.
The log out option was supposed to be there…
In the slot between the amount of money currently in possession and the help option, there was supposed to be the log out option, but nothing could be found there now. He had confirmed its presence after defeating Origin earlier, but now it was no more.
“Wait wait wait, is this some sick joke!?”
Shin opened all of the menu’s items to check, but could not find the log out option anywhere. As if the death game wasn’t over yet.
“!! Wait, how about the others!?”
Shin realized that someone else other than him could still be inside and took out the survivor list from the item box. If any other players had been left behind, their names should be displayed in it.
The only name in the list was “Shin”. In the blank space below, these words were displayed:
—- “Network connection failed. Display impossible.”
The survivor list accessed THE NEW GATE’s internal server through an avatar and checked for surviving players, as the alchemist who had created it explained.
It meant that the avatars now were cut off from THE NEW GATE’s system.
“Network connection failed…so why can I control my avatar?”
He hadn’t logged out, but was cut off from the system…how could that be possible?
In a situation like that, Shin shouldn’t be able to operate his own avatar.
Shin wasn’t exactly an expert in VR technology, but that was how THE NEW GATE was supposed to work. An avatar moving while the connection to the server being severed was a contradiction in itself.
“I don’t get it, what the hell’s going on?”
The tranquility from before completely swept away, Shin laid down on the ground again.
He didn’t feel like standing up as he tried to make some sense out of the situation, but ultimately failed.
(No good, at times like these it’s better to just empty my head of everything.)
It was Shin’s way of calming down when he had too many things on his mind. He would let everything go, then try to build back his thoughts from the base.
- Connecting to the network is impossible.
- Controlling the avatar is possible.
- The above 2 points cannot co-exist.
Point 1 was confirmed by the survivor list’s program and the message displayed in it. Point 2 too was confirmed by the fact that Shin was now moving his body. In regards to 3, it was a fact that operating the avatar was done through the network. Players who experienced network malfunctions know that in such cases their avatars wouldn’t move.
What would make these two situations co-exist, then? This was Shin’s next train of thought.
There was the possibility that the survivor list was malfunctioning, and it was actually possible to connect to the server. It wouldn’t be too weird.
Next was the possibility that it was not possible to connect to the server, but for some reason it was possible to control avatars. This kind of technology could have been developed and implemented.
“Another possibility could be…yes, that. Fantasy.”
Shin had been seriously thinking about all possibilities, and laughed wryly at the thought that popped up in his mind.
Shin was a hardcore gamer, the type that friends would call an addict. He was also an avid consumer of manga, anime, light and web novels.
He had already read many novels with the premise of being transported in a world very similar to a videogame.
There were all sorts of types, but he thought that, in many novels, the main character would enter the game world with their stats intact.
The thought that popped in Shin’s mind as exactly that. He was now not within the game, but inside THE NEW GATE which had turned into reality…this thought suddenly came to Shin.
It would explain how it was possible to control one’s avatar despite having no connection to the server.
Even so, it was something too absurd to consider. Shin stopped thinking for the moment and looked up at the sky. A perfectly blue sky with small white clouds extended forever above him.
He had seen a woodlands area at the edge of his field of sight. Looking in that direction, he could see even each leaf clearly.
He could see clearly, very clearly.
He could see even clearer than in the game. It all looked truly authentic.
Because of the developments of VR technology, it had become possible to create worlds extremely similar to reality. Not only sight and hearing, but also touch, smell and taste could be re-created.
However, no matter how similar the VR world could become, it was still just that: similar. If one had seen the real one, it was easy to tell apart from the created “fake”. It was always graphics, in the end.
The movement of the clouds, the color and luster of the leaves, the silhouettes of the flowers blooming in the field…everything seemed perfectly real to Shin.
Shin slowly moved his hands before his eyes. He saw wrinkles and fingerprints that did not exist in the game.
Once he had noticed one thing, everything else became naturally understandable. The scenery before his eyes, the sound of the rustling leaves, the sensation of the wind on his skin, the smells tickling his nostrils…everything was different than how he had felt in the game.
“After the death game, this time it’s a trip to the real world…?”
Shin ended up experiencing two of the VRMMORPG players’ urban legends, one after the other.
He had just been freed of the death game, so if possible he would have liked to have a short break at least…this kind of bizarre thought was proof that he was restless inside.
“Aaaahh…..what the hell now…!!”
After letting out a tired exclamation, Shin started rolling around.
A very different image from the hero that had bravely faced against Origin.
The exhaustion from the boss fight, coupled with the relief of logging out followed shortly by the trip to this ‘real world’ had taken their toll on Shin, not much physically as much as mentally.
In one word, he was exhausted.
A feeling similar to what happened after giving one’s all; from the bottom of his heart, he just wanted to laze around for a while.
Just like he had regressed to the mindset of an infant, Shin continued to roll around, stop, rinse and repeat for a while. Maybe it helped him relax, because he resumed thinking with a mental state significantly less worn out than before.
There were too many things about the current situation that he didn’t know. There was no one else in the surroundings, so there was no way to gather information either.
(I need information, first of all. I can access the menu, for starters, so I should check my status and items, then look for a place where I might find people.)
Shin stood up, his body still feeling kind of heavy, opened the menu and displayed his status window.
The left side of the screen showed a solid projection of his avatar, while the right side displayed “Status Points”, “Equipment”, “Gifts” and “Skills”.
The avatar had black hair and black eyes with a somewhat sharp gaze but otherwise looked like any other average young adult.
This avatar reflected Shin’s real looks and physique: at 180 cemel height, it gave a kind of lanky impression. At school, his sports club friends often told him that he should train his body more.
Shin checked his equipment and noticed that it was slightly different from when he fought Origin: his muffler, leg guards and arm guards were unequipped. What remained equipped was the red-striped 『Hades’ Long Coat』, the pants associated with it and the accessory.
The weapon slot showed the words 『True Moon』. His beloved katana was apparently safe and sound.
Checking the inventory, Shin found the equipment he had worn during the fight with Origin. Items and money were unchanged as well; there was no problem with his possessions.
Next one was “Status Points”.
If they too were the same as before, they should be a series of “9”, LUC excluded. Hoping he had not been weakened, Shin opened the status window.
“….no, this can’t be right.”
Shin looked away from the screen, gazed in the distance for a while, then looked again.
Despite that, however, the screen did not change.
“Now just wait a second!”
Shin looked away, in the distance, one more time. He rubbed his eyes and made sure he was seeing clearly, then looked at the screen again.
It was like a panel in manga, when a character couldn’t believe what they were looking at.
“So it wasn’t my eyes playing tricks…huh.”
Finally, after looking at the display 3 times, Shin was convinced that it wasn’t an illusion.
The reason for his surprise was that, except LUC, all of his stats were very different from what he remembered.
In the VRMMORPG THE NEW GATE, different from most other games, spending an inordinate amount of time allowed the player to max all stats except LUC.
Shin had been playing since the closed beta: through long hours and effective monster hunting, coupled with the bonuses granted by the Resurrection system, he had become the only player to have maxed all stats.
Other players had come close to maxing all stats, but no one had ever reached Shin’s stats.
During the game, Shin’s HP and MP were 9999, STR, VIT, DEX, AGI, and INT were 999, LUC was 36.
LUC was low because its limit was 99 and it was a value decided at the time of character creation that could not be changed.
Now, however, Shin’s stats -except LUC- were more than double their former values.
“The game system…got really messed up…”
All he could do was sigh.
The values were far too high for him to understand how strong he actually was.
“I’m getting tired of being surprised…”
Thinking about it, he had done nothing but act surprised since he woke up. A pretty ridiculous situation indeed.
Just staring at the stats wouldn’t do anything, so Shin thought to check the other items, just in case.
What he discovered were Gifts and skills he had no memory of.
Those were the gifts “Limit Breaker”, “Accomplished One”, “Liberator” and the skills 【Hades Surge】, 【Concentrated Surge】, and 【Scattering Surge】.
Shin had completely forgotten about the system announcements about them after defeating Origin. In order to see what they did, Shin looked at the new gifts from the list.
The power to surpass limits. Unlocks the upper limit of all stats. In case there are status points lost before the unlocking, they will be added to the status points.
A blessing to those who reached the end of the reincarnation cycle. All stats at the moment of receiving this gift are doubled.
You are the hope of all imprisoned people. Magic, traps and items that limit or forbid movements, such as restraint, subjugation etcetera, are ineffective.
All gifts had unexpected contents. Shin knew what all gifts in the game did, but he had never heard that such balance-breaking gifts existed.
He had now solved the mystery behind his status boost, but they were all more like cheats.
It was nothing like having rare equipment or high levels from the start. Nevertheless…LUC being at the same value (same as the game) was some kind of prank, maybe?
“In stories where people go from MMOs to another world, they often have cheat-level abilities… but this is too much.”
Shin’s stats were surprisingly high even before: in THE NEW GATE, he had once fought and defeated a party of level 255 units (12 players, resurrected 0 times) by himself.
That time, the party had fled while shouting “You legal cheat you!!” at him.
Things wouldn’t be the same against addicted players who had resurrected 10 times or more, but even so he could handle fighting 4 of them at a time.
Now, those stats were boosted even more. Unless he was ambushed and hit by a sudden death attack, he would not lose against anyone. That also depended on whether there was anyone else in this world, of course.
Realizing that it was pointless to worry about that, Shin hoped that not many others possessed the same kind of gift.