Cataclysm Ch 2
San Diego, Corono Oro
Naiad, 202 AR
Upon waking up, Alex checked his phone and noticed some drastic changes. The time was 6:38 AM but the date and the name of the days changed. "Naiad? 202 AR?" he tried to pronounce it with difficulty. ‘This seems to be their concept of date,' he thought. He then went to take a bath in a nearby spring, which he noted after looking at the city's map. When he returned and opened the door, a notification greeted him, his expression then turned for the worse.
[You have been challenged!
7 Wins- 0 Loses
"WHAT?!" He shouted, without realizing what he just did. It was so loud that the whole neighborhood heard it. And in addition to that, in the heat of the moment, he accidentally "accepted" the challenge; he then silently stared at the direction of the game panel, which already disappeared a few seconds ago, with a very anxious expression on his face.
The instant he fell silent, countless complaints from the masses came one after another and amidst all the shouts and rants, Alex heard a knock. He jumped in fright as soon as he heard it but because the door wasn't destroyed to forcibly enter, he let out a sigh of relief. He then walked towards the door, hesitatingly and slowly.
When he opened the door, he saw a man, around the age of his mom, smile. Once again, he felt uneasy talking to strangers but he knew it was a must. Players have to talk with NPCs (or maybe other players?) to progress. But before he could speak up, the man asked "You need help, kid? You sounded like you're in trouble," the man smiled sincerely again. "Someone challenged me to a duel and I just learned the basics." Alex explained. The man just shook his head sideways, as if saying that it's a common occurrence.
"As long as you do your best, you'll be fine in this cruel city."
"I have no experience in fighting whatsoever.”
"Impossible! Don't you know how to fight? I thought all kids are trained to be Harbingers until they're 16. What the heck were you doing in your childhood? And how old are you, anyway?"
‘I play games all day on weekends and study in school and play sports in my free time,’ Alex answered in his mind. Hopefully, this guy's not a mind reader.
"I'm 18, what about it?"
"So you weren't a harbinger at 16?"
"Yeah, you can put it like that," he answered, refusing to elaborate.
“Well, that’s strange. Do you remember anything from your past?"
"When I regained consciousness, I was already in a carriage towards Zealin," this is the truth but he's avoiding the question while trying to make the other side believe that it was an answer.
"Oh, I see," the other side looked convinced, a small grin then appeared on Alex' face. However, Leon was sharp, he already saw through him. But he still let it slide though, giving him privacy. "By the way, my name's Leon Shafron. A Rogue at Level 25, the only one in the city and one of the only three in the whole empire, bearing the title 'Nightshade'"
"By the way, what's core?" Leon raised his eyebrows upon hearing Alex.
'Where did he hear that?' he thought.
"I heard about it in the hallway," Alex continued, noticing Leon’s confusion on the matter. "Ah, you're ignorant to the highest level," Leon paused to sigh and then continued "CoRe is just short for Counterfeit Reality. These are hotspots of Gaia's power. When fighting in these fields, the damage, spirit essence and your connection with the hotspot is being tracked."
Alex then pondered 'Damage, Mana, Hp?' His eyes were lit! "So this is really a game?" He can't help but wonder. Unfortunately, he voiced it out.
"Hmmm? That sounds like an ancient word used by the Ancients."
"That's the only thing I remember, though, if that means anything." Alex harrumphed.
Leon then coughed "Anyways continuing, it is the augmented world where we're fighting when engaged in a duel. That is what we call 'Official Duel', a duel for display of strength and where no one dies. And the other kind of duel is the 'Fatal Duel', it is a duel that doesn't use the CoRe and it can result to death." Leon said
"Are there laws here?"
"There are two laws, the Absolute Law and the Council Law. The Absolute Law is in the Sol Duel Manual. As for the other, the Council Law is created by the Council, which is made up of the 4 chiefs and the Emperor. One of the important ones from the Council Law states that harming a non-combatant using their 'Phantasmal Armament' is strictly forbidden, " Leon grinned.
"Oh, I see. There are really a lot of things I don't know." Alex stared at Leon with curiosity, as if asking for more.
Suddenly, a shortsword appeared on Leon's hand. Alex looked closer for a better look and saw running water at the edge of the sword, from hilt to tip. It wasn't just normal running water, it was traveling extremely fast. Alex touched the edge and the tip of his fingers was cut a little. "What is this, it doesn’t look like a normal weapon?" Alex asked. "That's what I mentioned earlier. A Phantasmal Armament."
"Since I’m a harbinger as well, can I do that?"
"Be my apprentice and I'll teach you not just how to summon them but I'll also train you.”
“Well, if you won’t mind.”
“Here, do you feel some kind of energy circulating all throughout your body?"
"Yes, it feels weird now that you mention it."
"You’ll get used to it. Focus those 'energies' to your hand and think about what you desire the most."
Alex followed Leon's instructions and he imagined being the fastest person wherever he was. And then, two broadswords appeared on each of Alex' hand. 'Chinese broadswords! I've only seen one in movies!' he thought.
"You're quite lucky, you awakened as a dual wielder. What's your name? We've been chatting non-stop but I still don't know your name."
"I see then let’s proceed to the apprenticeship rites,” he said as a magic circle formed beneath his feet. “I, Leon Shafron, a Tribulation Endurer Rogue, hereby assign Alexander Williams as my apprentice. Bound by the Gods Angria, Naios, Retrom, Hiawitha, Xerixia, Thanaton, and Avona, he will swear fidelity to me."
"You have three days to prepare for the duel, use your time wisely. Of course, you have me to train you."