Chapter 5: Yuri (Revised)
Supported by Gordon, Yuri arrived at his house, which was a shabby communal residence.
The door of Room 203, reached by climbing up the creaking old stairs. Yuri took a short deep breath and unlocked the door with his key.
Yuri’s house was about the same size as the one-room apartment where Lee Soo-hyuk used to live.
He knew through the memories that surfaced, but he was underprepared.
“There’s really nothing here.”
He couldn’t believe that the room lacked both a toilet and a kitchen. Yuri stood dumbfounded for a moment, then let out a hollow laugh.
He stopped himself as he was about to take them off out of habit. Such habits could lead to the death of a ‘Possessor’. He even felt fortunate that the floor was dirty. It was definitely not a floor to be stepped on barefoot.
It wasn’t that there was no toilet at all, just none in the room. Yuri wasn’t urgently in need of a toilet, but people can never know when they’ll want to go. First, wanting to see and brace himself, he limped down to the first floor again.
The communal toilet on the first floor. It was obviously a squat toilet. That couldn’t be helped. And next to the toilet was a communal kitchen with a hearth, and behind the building was a well.
So, it means.
He has to sleep on the second floor, relieve himself on the first floor, fetch water from the well to wash, and light a fire in the hearth to cook his meals.
Having never camped in his life, unable to poop unless it’s in a flush toilet, and used to showering daily with hot water, Lee Soo-hyuk could only feel dizzy. He had never served in the military, but he doubted even the military was like this.
He went back up to his room. This was all he had to use, so he had to adapt somehow. Trying to think positively, he flopped down on the bed.
The window sill, not properly cleaned, was piled with dust, and the window was cloudy. Through it, the world he saw was painted in shades of gray dust.
A different world from South Korea of 2023, no, from Earth where Lee Soo-hyuk lived. The same name as the game ‘Seronis’, the continent of Seronis.
One by one.
He tried to accept it.
He roughly understood the current situation through the training he received before being possessed by the Priestess of Order, Lorelia.
This world is the original source of the game ‘Seronis’. Thirty years have passed in the game setting. A different reality, not inside the game.
A world where Possessors exist, those who have crossed over before Lee Soo-hyuk and have their names listed at the top of the Hall of Fame.
Yuri groaned, holding his throbbing head. It was too much to bear, having barely survived death, inflicted self-harm on a healthy body, and now with too many thoughts, his head throbbed in pain.
‘I have to be careful of the people around me, and also of the Possessors… What should I do from now on?’
How should he live in this world? Lee Soo-hyuk was not a man of many talents, to say the least. Lee Soo-hyuk’s special skills were eating, sleeping, shitting, trolling, and playing games, while Yuri’s were pickpocketing, stabbing with a knife, and cursing.
If this world were truly inside the game and Yuri was the only Possessor, he could have utilized his extensive game knowledge… But 30 years have passed in this world, and there are several other Possessors besides Yuri.
Not to rely too much on game knowledge applies not only to characters but also to securing routes for items and skills that existed in the game.
Thirty years have passed since Possessors started crossing over. Initially, topping the Hall of Fame was like burglarizing an empty house, but the specs of hidden bosses were officially higher than the final bosses.
If those who were possessed after defeating such hidden bosses, they naturally would have thorough knowledge of the game’s ins and outs. It’s assumed that all the relatively hidden items and skills in the game have been plundered over the past thirty years.
‘They must have crossed over too.’
Thinking about the Possessors who arrived earlier, he remembered a few acquaintances from the game community.
A community bonded by the shared experience of enjoying the same crappy game.
Naturally, since it was a foreign site, Lee Soo-hyuk, not knowing English well, refrained from the futile task of composing messages directly in English and instead used a translator to participate in the community.
The main activities in the community were either ranting about how much of a trash game it was or engaging in off-topic chit-chat. Among them, there were people who seriously delved into the game, sharing their own know-how.
Of course, those among them who had even once topped the Hall of Fame disappeared from both the community and the game. At the time, Lee Soo-hyuk didn’t take it seriously.
They must have finally reached enlightenment!
The disappearance of top-ranking players was rather welcomed in such an atmosphere.
Among those who had reached enlightenment, there were some who particularly stood out. Being in a community meant getting more deeply involved with people you clicked with.
Yuri, no, Lee Soo-hyuk was no exception.
The four he frequently chatted with.
He had no immediate desire to meet them in this world, not knowing how they might have changed. But even though their connection was shallow, limited to the community’s chat rooms, he had grown fond of them.
‘Are they still alive?’
Among the five, including Lee Soo-hyuk, he was the last to top the Hall of Fame.
Not wanting to climb up from an awkward rank in a half-hearted manner, if it didn’t click, he wouldn’t clear it and instead deliberately died over and over.
The other four interacting with Lee Soo-hyuk were perverts who had thrown away the number one record multiple times. All of them aimed not for a brief stint at number one but for a long reign.
However, they all achieved first place and disappeared before Lee Soo-hyuk did, and Lee Soo-hyuk did not yearn for or seek out those who had gone before him.
To finally enshrine oneself at the top meant either having confidence… or growing weary of the game, or perhaps life just became too busy.
He thought it ridiculous to cling to those he had never met in real life. The one who finally made it to the top should naturally disappear.
Who would break that record was up to those who remained.
If there were any regrets about the record changing, one could simply reclaim the top spot.
Yet, nobody returned.
CatPanties, Chuksindu, FUCKINGSEXY, USAUSAMI₍ᐢ.ˬ.ᐢ₎, none of them came back to crash into the Hall of Fame again.
After all, having finally reached enlightenment, what was there to regret or miss to come back to this crappy game?
‘To think they couldn’t return because they possessed someone.’
Who would have thought that this was the truth?
“If I knew this would happen, I should have come in sooner.”
No, if he had known, he probably wouldn’t have played the game in the first place.
Yuri sighed deeply and sat up.
The sensation of chopping down bodies, axes, and battle hammers lingered in a corner of his mind.
Lorelia praised violence, saying fists are closer than laws, and knives are sharper than pens.
Lee Soo-hyuk, who lived on Earth in 2023, couldn’t empathize with those words at first.
But after being thoroughly beaten by Lorelia, tumbling on the ground several times, learning to swing fists…
After slicing Oh Bong-seok’s ankle with a knife, dodging Oh Bong-chun’s slow axe to shatter his jaw, and having chopped down with axes and hammers, he now believed Lorelia was right.
To survive in this world, whether you’re a Possessor or not, you need power.
‘If you have the power to not die, maybe it’s okay even if being a Possessor is discovered.’
Having power, after all, means you’re less likely to end up like the youngest of the Black Snake Faction, Yuri, stabbed to death with a knife.
Yuri stood in front of the mirror, pressing on the bandage of a wound still oozing blood.
Even in the waiting room, he had seen himself in the mirror, but Yuri’s face, still unfamiliar, was reflected back at him. His black hair, with a hint of curl, grew untidily, but honestly, his face was much better than Lee Soo-hyuk’s original face…
“Is it because of the race…”
Yuri murmured, touching his straight nose.
He stripped off his clothes, which were no better than a blood-soaked rag.
A sturdy physique with muscles. The split chest and clear abs were also much better than the poor body Lee Soo-hyuk originally had. This couldn’t just be attributed to racial traits.
“Is it the difference in civilization…”
He looked elsewhere for excuses. After all, this world probably didn’t have delivery apps.
After inspecting his body, he rummaged through the room.
First, the desk drawer.
A few daggers, several books. Thanks to the memories that had merged, he could naturally converse, but could he read the characters? Worriedly, he looked at the titles of the books, and fortunately, he could read them.
<Basic Mana Introduction>
<Anyone Can Become a Magician>
<Pungwon Inner Techniques>
The books, yellowed with age, were second-hand purchases from the largest bookstore in Aldor.
Flipping through them, he saw notes written by Yuri.
Originally, Yuri had guessed but chose to ignore it; however, even the current Yuri could tell after a casual glance.
These books were fakes.
The Basic Mana Introduction, Pungwon Inner Techniques, and Samjae Swordsmanship were filled with abstract words, lacking any proper explanation.
Perhaps the mana introductions and martial arts manuals of this world are all like this, and Lee Soo-hyuk, from another world, couldn’t understand them.
Yuri’s body did not possess even a trace of mana. Even if those books weren’t fakes, Yuri couldn’t gain anything from them.
<Anyone Can Become a Magician>
This book appealed that anyone, regardless of how late in life or lack of talent, could become a magician.
The reason you haven’t become a magician isn’t merely due to a lack of effort. It’s not because of a lack of will or talent. Like a cicada that spends years underground before becoming an adult. Like a seed that will someday bloom and grow into a large tree. You just haven’t reached the time to bloom yet.
Someday your efforts will be rewarded. So don’t be impatient and dream of a hopeful future…
“What is this, a self-help book?”
Yuri scoffed, tossing the self-help book of another world aside.
Yuri, a 20-year-old who came from an orphanage, constantly engaged in pickpocketing, and ended up in a moronic organization as the lowest rank, wanted to become a magician or a martial artist.
He had brought second-hand magician and martial arts manuals, genuine or fake, to the drawer, making efforts in his own way. When achievements were lacking, he found solace in reading those books.
Memories of Yuri surfaced, mixing together. The current Yuri was different from the Yuri of the past, so the emotions of those times did not follow these memories.
But there were emotions he felt now. Yuri sat down on the dirty floor, feeling bitter.
As Lorelia taught, he crossed his legs in a meditative posture.
Originally, Yuri possessed neither inner energy nor mana. He gained nothing from those books. But the current Yuri was different.
A Possessor awakens to immense mana affinity and comprehension upon crossing into this world. If there’s a trigger, one can naturally become either a magician or a martial artist.
In Yuri’s case, he already had such a ‘trigger’, thanks to his guardian priestess, Lorelia.
Lorelia called it ‘qi’ and ‘inner energy’.
In the end, it’s just a difference in terminology. If you follow the magician path in the game, it’s denoted as mana; if you pursue the martial artist path and learn martial arts, it’s denoted as qi and inner energy.
What’s needed is concentration, and to be mindful.
What he’s doing now is different from mere breathing. What he swallows isn’t air. He’s mindful of the mana, the qi dissolved in it.
That’s all there is to it. With just that, a Possessor understands ‘qi’.
Breath suddenly caught in my throat. It wasn’t blood clogging my throat as it entered through my mouth. ‘Qi’ entered along with my breath. It had neither taste nor smell.
One must not let their mind and posture falter. I had heard about the dangers of becoming obsessed to the point of losing oneself. Following Lorelia’s guidance, I directed the ‘Qi’ I first swallowed in reality through my body’s meridians.
The ‘Qi’ taken in through breath was impure and murky. However, through the inner cultivation technique, the impurities were expelled with the breath out, and the refined ‘Qi’ was guided through the meridians to the dantian.
Lorelia had named this inner cultivation technique the “Evil-Quelling Heavenly Principle Technique.”
I opened my eyes.
Some time must have passed, as the light outside the window had changed. Drenched in sweat, I got up and approached the window. Opening the dirty gray window let in a cool breeze that cooled my heated sweat.
It was dawn.
“…Next time, I’ll do it with the window open.”
Glancing at the books thrown on the bed, I turned around.
A large drawer in the corner of the room.
Seeing it made me feel complicated. I hesitated for a moment before approaching the drawer.
Miscellaneous items, clothes…
The bottom drawer.
There were letters.
Upon seeing them, I unwittingly bit my lip. I knew whom they were exchanged with.
The only person I consistently exchanged letters with was Elena, my childhood friend from the orphanage days.
– Elena Haindeulga.
Unlike me, who still lacked a family name, Elena had a proper surname.
Elena, born with a talent for magic, knew how to manipulate mana since she was 10 years old, without being taught by anyone.
The head of the Aldor Orphanage, hoping for a chance, wrote about Elena’s story in letters and sent them to various magic towers. Among them, the master of Dercia Magic Tower, famous for its lightning attribute magic, took an interest in Elena and personally visited her.
‘Thunder Orca Dercia.’
A tower master I had killed dozens of times in the game. Thunder Orca, who inherited the Dercia surname. Unlike Baoe Guai of the Black Dragon Society, who died decapitated and dismembered, Thunder Orca is still the master of Dercia Magic Tower.
Thunder Orca recognized Elena’s talent. Thus, Elena entered the Dercia Magic Tower.
For the next 10 years, though we never met in person, Elena and I still exchanged letters.
However, the letters weren’t as many as one would expect to accumulate over 10 years.
I sorted them by the year and date written on the envelope.
In the early days after Elena left for the magic tower, we exchanged letters quite frequently. But as often happens with childhood friends, the interval between exchanges gradually lengthened.
I’m not exactly sure what feelings the original Yuri had for Elena. All I have now are memories.
But the Yuri in those memories—didn’t often send letters to Elena, nor did he frequently read hers.
There was resistance, but it wasn’t a situation to be swayed by conscience.
I read the first letter.
Both from Aldor Orphanage. Both 10 years old. The letter detailed how Elena, taken away by the tower master who recognized her talent, was living in her new home.
What feelings might the troublemaker Yuri, who remained at Aldor Orphanage fighting with other orphans, have felt from this letter?
I continued reading the letters.
Elena seemed to be doing well at the magic tower.
New friends. Newly learned magic.
A life incomparable to that at the orphanage.
A new room. A magnificent city. Recognition from those around her.
—The frequency of letters seriously began to decrease from the age of 14.
Elena quickly became an official magician, an exceptional case, and even received her own research lab to devote herself to magic.
The content of the letters changed.
Different from the past when personal stories and emotions danced together. The letters from 14-year-old Elena were merely perfunctory greetings, and the emotions were dry.
At that time, Yuri had stolen for the first time on the streets.
At the age of 17.
The letter Yuri received when he became independent from the orphanage contained, unusually, more than the customary greetings.
It’s been a while since I’ve sent a letter like this.
Sorry, I’ve been too busy with my research lately.
You’re already 17, aren’t you? If I remember correctly, you’re supposed to become independent from the orphanage at 17, right? Is that still the case?
Yuri, what are you going to do after you leave the orphanage? Remember? We talked about this a lot when we were kids.
We were too young back then, and knew nothing about the world outside the orphanage.
Back then, I wanted to eat candy every day, and you wanted to become a legendary adventurer.
I don’t know if you still hold onto that dream, Yuri. The director seemed very worried about you.
I’m hesitant to say this, wondering how you’ll take it…
But I’m doing really well.
Yuri, if you find yourself without a place to go after leaving the orphanage, it’s okay to come find me.
Yuri did not go to Elena when he was 17.
Since they were 10, Yuri and Elena hadn’t met. After leaving the orphanage, Yuri lived by pickpocketing in back alleys.
He vaguely remembered the response he sent to that letter.
It’s okay, no need to worry. I can take care of myself. Don’t worry about me, just take care of yourself.
He looked at subsequent letters.
The usual greetings.
The last letter.
I’ve thought a lot after receiving your last reply.
You said it’s okay not to send letters anymore.
Knowing I’m busy.
Yes, I am busy.
Not just because of research, but recently, following the advice of the tower master, I’ve been going out more often.
What did they say again? A Dercia mage shouldn’t always be a hermit.
So, I registered as an adventurer and completed a few simple quests.
I reported back that they were too easy, and what do you know? The tower master has a sense of humor, huh? Said if it’s easy, try something harder and arranged a 4th-grade quest for me.
Oh, did I mention? I was ranked in the 4th tier after the last magic grade evaluation.
Isn’t it too much to ask me, who just reached the 4th tier, to take on a 4th-grade quest? The rank matches, but I still lack experience.
And… um… I recently got a house. Not just me, our tower gifts a house to anyone who reaches the 4th tier.
It’s debatable whether it’s more convenient than living in the tower or not. It’s nice to have my own space, but unlike the tower, they don’t provide meals every day here.
I tried cooking, and honestly, it was terrible. Clearly, I have no talent in cooking, unlike magic.
Should I hire a housekeeper? That seems too ostentatious. I don’t like having someone else in my space.
Well, that’s how I am. How about you? Are you really doing well? You never write about your situation in your letters.
Mr. Gordon and the director don’t talk about you lately either. Are you involved in something bad?
You can’t keep living like that forever.
I’ll wait for your reply.
PS. Sorry, I should have mentioned this first. I got carried away writing. As I mentioned above, I have to leave the tower soon to undertake a 4th-grade quest. It might take at least six months.
Don’t worry about me. I’m not going alone; other adventurers will be with me.
I’ll send you a reply once I return from the quest.
– Your friend, Elena Haindeulga.
After reading all the letters, it was already morning. Yuri, looking at the pile of letters, fell into deep thought.
27-year-old Lee Soo-hyuk and 20-year-old Yuri had a lot in common.
Thus, Lee Soo-hyuk could easily empathize with what Yuri felt from those letters.
The self-loathing for feeling such things.
Yuri did not reply to those letters.
The fact that Elena started writing only customary stories in her letters from the age of 14 might have been due to Yuri’s attitude. Or perhaps it was because Elena herself was overwhelmed by reality and realized the inevitable distance between her and Yuri.
But one thing was clear. At 17, Elena was genuinely worried about Yuri and encouraged him to come to her.
And even in the last letter at the age of 19, she was concerned about Yuri’s life and future.
Having nothing but his pride, Yuri rejected Elena’s sympathy.
Elena’s letters subtly boast about herself and indirectly belittle Yuri.
And it was true that Yuri lived a life that could be considered dismissible.
Perhaps that’s why Yuri kept reading those ridiculous books.
Rubbing his stiff back, he stood up from his place.
<Anyone Can Become a Mage>
The book thrown on the bed caught his eye.
“…I should go to the bathroom.”
Yuri sighed deeply and left the room.