“So… I hope you will tell me now. Why you did something like this?”
I asked this question to a depressed Dina with a slightly strong tone.
I was not particularly angry at the time. However, if I asked her softly, there was a chance that she would try and deceive me again.
After all, there were times where pretence was important.
“…. I was… a test player that arrived in this world… just around Midgard Year 2800 which… was right around when you were sealed. When I had come to, I was in this situation where I had somehow possessed the avatar that I was playing and had already arrived in this world.”
That part was the same as me.
I had also ended up in this world by possessing the avatar… – Ruphas Mafahl that I was using.
But those were the information that I already knew about and not the ones I wanted to find out.
As such, I stayed quiet and urged her to continue with her story.
“Back then, there were still a lot of strong people. Of course, it wasn’t quite as much as in the game where there was numerous level 1000 players who had doped themselves. But there were still quite a lot of strong people that would be comparable to level 500 players in the game.”
“What? Is it not like that anymore?”
“Yes. Also, some players…. More specifically, players whose ‘name was not mentioned in the novel’ had disappeared without a trace as if they never existed in the first place. So in my opinion, we’re currently not in the game but… in the world where the game had been written into a novel.”
I involuntarily bit my lower lips when I heard this.
That… was pretty bad.
And if you asked me why it was bad, it was because there were not many people who would be mentioned when the story in the game was turned into a novel.
The reason for that was because, compared to a large number of players in the game, there were clearly a smaller and limited number of authors.
Therefore, with the exception of fan-fiction writers being paid a large commission, small events or adventures were mostly not turned into a novel form. Alternatively, there was a very limited number of events that automatically got included in the official novel series.
Needless to say, besides the 7 Heroes, there were still a few other level 1000 players that had left their names in the official story.
There were…. – but the number of them barely reached three digits.
Additionally, there were high-level freelance players who did not become my citizens.
There were those who thought,
There were those who thought, “Isn’t it cool to be able to move in the shadows without being mentioned in the lore and stories?” Such players, who were dedicated to playing the game without being involved in the novels, probably would not be here.
There were also avatars designed in such a way that it would have breached copyright laws. Naturally including them in the official novel series was out of the question.
In other words, even though X-Gate Online’s worldwide constant player base reached tens of thousands, the majority of them never even existed in this world in the first place.
“There was no other person that was in the same circumstance as I was. Everyone… acted as if they were the original inhabitants of this world…. No, the reality was, for them, that really was the case. The only irregular to have existed in this world was me and me alone.”
“How about the possibility that you just didn’t notice it but there were others with your circumstance?”
“That may have been possible. But now… there’s no way of verifying that………”
Did Dina get mentioned in the novel even though she was a test player?
Well, that was an irrelevant question at this point.
What was important was to try and ask her about what happened in the past.
I could always ask about the novel series later on.
“But… even then… all those people were the small number of acquaintances that I made since I came to this world. At the very least, their names were the last remnants of the ‘real world’ that I knew of. But….”
“…..Everyone… passed away, didn’t they?”
Hearing that, I wanted to sigh instinctively.
Ahh, I see….. I guessed it could not be helped that they lost.
To begin with, it was an issue that I should have thought about from the very start.
If it remained just like in the game where there were more than a million high-level players…. Even if the enemy was the Demon King himself, it was not plausible for the humanoids to lose.
Think about it for a moment. Even Dina who fought me just then was base level 1000 who had not doped herself.
Now imagine the scene where there were million Dinas present, and they all used [Dawn Star] at the same time.
….. There was no way you would be able to guard against something like that.
Back in the game, excluding wartime, the maximum party size was set as 12 people.
In other words, there was no way for 13 or more people to simultaneously challenge the Demon King…… But something like that would not have mattered in this world.
All you had to do was to challenge him with a million high-level people and crush him to death.
The fact that they lost without doing so meant that it could not be done.
With that point alone, I needed to overturn my underlying assumption that “this was a world within a game”.
Nevertheless, I was unable to reach that conclusion.
“I was mortified. I felt hatred. Even the final remnants of the ‘real world’ that I knew was stolen from me. The feeling of the world that I knew being violated was painful beyond anything else to me. The other demons aside, with just me alone, there was no way for me to win against the Demon King. Although I managed to infiltrate them as one of the 7 Luminaries due to their disorder and then I sabotaged from within to delay their invasion, that was all that I could manage.”
“That’s when you thought of 12 Heavenly Stars and me… huh.”
“……Yes. I remembered that there was a young girl who was no different from a background in Mafahl Tower so I took her place. And I thought that if I could skilfully lead you to fight against the Demon King, you would be able to defeat him.”
It was there again. I felt that uncomfortable feeling from before again.
Was there anything strange or out of place in what Dina just said?
I thought that there was nothing in particular that I should point out but….
Well, whatever. I’d just continue listening to her.
“And what was the true meaning of Jupiter’s scream?”
“At the time specified by him, I was to take Libra-sama away. I promised him that I would create 20 minutes of time for him. Yet, I broke that promise and brought back Libra-sama whilst he was still in the city. As he screamed out, I had planned to lure him into a trap from the very start.”
I see, no wonder he was able to show up the instant Libra went away.
It seemed that was only possible because Dina was pulling the strings from behind.
As a side note, when Libra first spotted Jupiter, he was moments away from coming in contact with Dina. That contact was probably set up for the purpose of some information exchange.
“Anyways, the next question will be the last. In the end, are you my enemy?”
“No, I don’t have any plan to be hostile. Through, the moment I tried to use you, it would not be strange for you to take that as a sign of hostility.”
To my question, Dina’s answer was a “No”.
She had planned to use me but there was no direct hostility from her.
I crossed my arms and thought deeply, using a brain that was by no means fast.
The main issue was how to deal with Dina after all this.
Honestly speaking, there was no option to outright kill her here and now. Whatever happened, I was taken care of by her nor could I come to hate her.
Whether she was using me or not, a debt of gratitude was still a debt. If she was not there, I would not have known what to do and have gotten lost on the way.
Notwithstanding, if I just let her go free, then I would not know what she would do in the future.
If she started getting the countries of Svalinn or Gjallarhorn involved for the sake of defeating the Demon King, then I would not be able to stand it.
… It could not be helped.
“Then it’s fine. Continue serving me.”
“I said I’ll let this incident slide and forget about it.”
Dina had deceived and used me.
But what about it? Did her deception cause me any harm whatsoever?
Did I suffer a single detriment as a result of her deception?
— No, none. Let alone a single detriment, I benefited a lot as a result.
Furthermore, Dina’s aim was to kill the Demon King, and in truth, it was not that different from the intention I had.
Indeed, I did not feel like I should actively go and kill him, but as long as I remained Ruphas, I was unable to escape eventually clashing with the Demon King.
So in this particular situation, it was advantageous for me to take in Dina who was connected to the inner workings of the enemy.
“U, umm, is that fine? I…..”
“I don’t mind. I was helped a lot in this world and owe a debt to you, after all. I’m not short tempered enough to ignore all that and dispose of you before I pay back my debt. Not to mention……”
I curled my lips a bit and looked down at Dina who looked dumbfounded.
“’An adviser who may be hiding some secret’, I think that’s interesting on its own. In a way, to have someone dangerous as a subordinate is an exciting scenario.”
“…..Umm, you’re, you’re really a player on the inside, right? And not the Ruphas-sama herself who has the memory of a player?”
“Haha, well, who knows? Our memories have been crossing over for too long and too often, so even I’ve started to recognise that I’ve changed and may not be one or the other. Personally, I can’t even distinguish if what I’m currently thinking belongs to ‘Ruphas’ or ‘the player’.”
Right. I was probably no longer the original “me” anymore.
I did not feel a thing about killing a living thing nor did I have any hesitation in getting into a fight.
Neither of those was reactions that “I” would have felt.
However, it was also different for “Ruphas”.
At the very least, I was still unable to be as cold-hearted or vicious as Ruphas was described in the stories I have heard.
For instance, if I really was the real Ruphas, at the very least, Dina’s head would have flown off by now.
Well, it’s a good degree of mixture from both sides. Probably.
Either way, my individuality had not been extinguished and I was able to continue maintaining my own consciousness, so there was still nothing to fear.
“Above all else, it’s a long-awaited meeting between the people from the same world. I can look the other way for some mischief.”
In the end, neither Megrez nor Merak was from the same world as me.
With the way things were going, the inside of Benetnash was also unlikely to be a player.
Which meant that in this world, Dina and I were the only two people to be irregular.
I extended my hands to Dina who was still sitting down on the ground and laughed.
“Come with me. And use your knowledge and power and for the sake of me.”
For a while, Dina looked at the hands stuck out to her with an idiotic expression on her face.
But eventually, she looked up at me and raised her voice with overflowing joy and enthusiasm.
“As expected of Ruphas-sama. You were a person just as I expected… no, more than I expected. Without a doubt, the person who will defeat the Demon King and unite this world can only be you.”
Well no, I don’t really have the intention of unifying the world but.
Ignoring what I was thinking in my head, Dina took my hands that were extended and stood up.
“I have received and heard the decree. I hereby comply. Milady. Until the day you defeat the Demon King, I will remain as your adviser.”
“Um. I’ll be relying on you just as before.”
“As you command.”
Dina and I strongly shook hands with each other. Subsequently, I looked behind me.
What I saw was Aries and the others who had probably reacted to the magic power heading to my location.
Now then, how should I fool them?
The Sky King Merak was sitting on the throne.
At that moment, there were few white-winged men making an appeal.
All of those were the men who actively formed the volunteer army to crush the Black Town and start a rebellion, notwithstanding that they were induced to some degree by Jupiter’s words.
The men were ceaselessly shouting their excuses in front of the throne, even though they had not received the permission to speak from Merak.
This was yet another sign that Merak was not respected in his position as the king.
“King, please, this is too much! We were only doing what we thought was the best for the country!”
“That’s right, everything was for the best of the country.”
“Yeah, we were fooled by the demon, but to begin with, it only happened because we tried to normalise this country in your stead.”
They continued to string stories and excuses that could not be called anything other than rude remarks.
They were looking down on him. They had the conviction that even with all their remarks, the king would not display any will of his own.
They believed that they would not be punished. They believed that at worst, they would only be put under house arrest for a while.
They had believed it so and were in contempt.
As such, even the people that should have been trying to stop them from talking out of the line did not do anything to stop them.
Each individual had their own dissatisfaction towards the weak attitude displayed by the king… And that was the evidence that they were looking down and making light of the position of the king.
Merak quietly closed his eyes and pondered.
The one that allowed them to become like this was himself.
It was his weak attitude that welcomed those people’s impudence.
As such, the one that had to correct them out of that character had to be none other than himself.
Once he decided this – A heavenly pressure that overwhelmed and pushed everything down was activated on that place.
“You lot….. Who gave you the permission to open your noisy mouths?”
At that moment, everyone in that place was assaulted by the pressure as if they were held down by a large hand.
It was the [Coercion] skill; available to every Flugels as an innate racial ability that allowed them to suppress others.
Originally used to domesticate animals and magical beasts, it was called the power gifted by the gods. Ever since they were born, they had never felt this much violent pressure on themselves.
It was the heaviness of the king that was only possible because it was used by the level 500 Merak.
Being subjected to that for the first time in their lives, they were made to recognise that the existence before their eyes was [The Sky King].
“Let alone run your mouths, I don’t believe I’ve even given you the permission to raise your heads… Yet, you lot have ignored that and started speaking out of place, and now, you’ve even reached a point of shifting the blame and making me take responsibility…..
…… Hey, you lot….. I suppose I can take that as the cue that you don’t mind losing your heads for the crime of insulting the king, huh?”
The men who were exposed to the Coercion started finally shaking in fear and breaking out in cold sweats.
They wanted to say no.
They wanted to shake their heads side to side.
But they could not. They were in so much fear that they could not even do something that simple.
“I’ve been very tolerant towards you fools until now. When you lot started trickling in and said that you lost your homes, I allowed you to stay, and I even gave you a town. I permitted some rudeness and allowed you to conduct yourself without fear. …..But… it seems I was wrong.”
The pressure increased even more.
Now that it had come to this point, it was no different from violent oppression.
Those that were subjected to the Coercion could hardly breathe. And even the nearby knights and ministers who were not directly subjected to it started breathing heavily whilst their knees shook uncontrollably with fear.
“—Do not be mistaken into thinking that I will be kind forever.”
Merak’s eyes appeared to be like the predatory bird’s.
Overwhelming disparity. The gap in the ability that that could not be filled.
Everyone in that place instinctively reacted and cowered in fear.
The king that they had believed to be weak and unassertive up to that point suddenly became far more terrifying than any demon.
Once the pressure weakened and they regained some of their freedom, the action those men took was to prostrate.
They stuck their heads onto the floor and begged for the king to have mercy whilst their teeth clattered.
It was not only them. Even the ministers and knights were taking the posture and attitude of submission. They had no option to not do so.
They had misunderstood until now.
This man was the king. He was the king of the sky and the one who ruled over all those that possessed wings.
As Merak looked down on the people who had submitted to him, he somehow managed to push back down a sigh down his throat.
As I thought, I disliked things like this.
The feeling of stepping down on the others did not make me feel good.
However, it was my duty and my obligation to make sure my citizens did not look down on the position of the king.
And in the first place, we were in the position that we were in, because I neglected that obligation. In other words, I was merely fulfilling my duty and paying back the debt I owed.
……… This is fine, right, Ruphas…….? There are still a lot I have to worry about, but I’m alright now. There are still mountains worth of problems that I have to deal with, but I will show you that I can handle and overcome them. I will not make you out to be the foolish clown. So please… don’t worry about me and keep moving forward.
Thinking of his friend from the past who had probably long left his country by now, a grin surfaced on Merak’s face.
He was determined to become a person that he could be proud of by the next time they met.
Although a little of the unreliable look remained, the face of the man who had decided as such looked quite dependable.
—10 minutes later.
Top (above the arrow): People that was from the White Town.
Left (in spikey box): Ruphas—-!!
Right (on the head): Merak)
(Author Note end)
__ Refer to chapter 1 of manga (Chapter 1 page 7) or novel (ctrl+f “novel system”) for the explanation of the novel system.  If you are not aware of how MMORPG character creations work, character creation of most of the famous and well-made MMORPG nowadays allow you to “create” and “customise” your own avatar in such a way you can create a very detailed and specific “look” you want. It can range from basic stuff like the colour of your eyes/hair, body proportion, height, to very specific things like hairstyle, size of your fingers, angel of your eyes/eyebrows, etc etc. And of course there are players who create their character into something that looks very much like a real-life celebrity, anime, manga or fictional characters. Bringing back to context, if the publishers of the X-Gate game were to use those characters and describe them in the “official novel” it would be in breach of some copyright law.
If you are still can’t figure out how MMORPG’s character customisation works, please google “___ character creation” and replace ___ part with one of the following games; Blade and Soul, Blade Desert Online, Revelation Online and Aion. So… it’s not a mistranslation. Above it says “tens of thousands”, here it says “million”. There are 2 options. (1) The constant player base means “active players” whereas this million refers to the entire population/player base. In MMO, there’s often “dead” players/character, dead player referring to players that don’t play frequently or have already quit the game. Dead characters often refer to “alts” which are player’s secondary+ characters that don’t get played often. The author is probably referring to every character when he says million. (2) The author just can’t count… :3  Picture from “A Wild Last Boss Appeared!” manga chapter 16 page 24 – Source of English translation, LHTranslation.  Coercion was used in Shurim’s translation. Intimidation was used by LHTranslation.  Merak used Haoushoku no Haki/Reiatsu. Critical Hit! It’s super effective! :’)  Picture from Light Novel of the series.  Picture from the Web Novel Chapter 40 in author footnote. – the link at the start of the chapter.