Floating comfortably in the water, Gyosu analyzed the current situation he was in.
‘Well, the in-game situation’s settled down now. The Crimson Mute’s rumor has spread all throughout Tobrune now, and there’s just the right amount of tension among the citizens now.’
The seed I was playing right now was—how do you say it—very unique.
First, the rate of major attacks was severely low. The reason was the defeat of Edeorna and the lack of resources on the Queen’s side. This was already an incredible start. It was kind of like killing three of the opponent’s workers the moment the game started. Thanks to that, the progression of the mute’s attacks…… almost slowed down.
But the result was the fall of the frontline cities, Pelas, Moludic Castle, and Touran. They were even taken over faster than normal playthroughs. Since the cause and effect weren’t matching up, there must be something I’m missing.
‘Mutes evolve according to their environment. And the factors that cause that evolution are probably similar to any other organism. Stress and pressure accelerate the evolutionary process. In this case, did the lack of resources cause an evolution in this way?’
The world I was playing in was different from normal seeds in several different ways.
The biggest difference was the mutes’ utilization of names and special type mutes. Both required a lot of time and resources to create but, if used properly, reaped an efficiency several times higher than the invested resources. The Queen had used a tunneling tactic using just a few Pale Faces to destroy Turan and was controlling an incredibly valuable target called a level 6 mage using an Insomnia Crab. She wasn’t able to increase the supply because she was producing these expensive units, but it was a definite profit compared to the investment.
The Savior’s order also needed to be taken into consideration. An organization that worshiped mutes. It wasn’t unusual for a weird cult to appear, considering the nature of this crazy game. But the fact that the group grew so much in such a short period of time was very suspicious.
Hmm. It’s noisy outside.
‘The best way for a cult to increase their power is to show a miracle or display the subject of worship directly…. but these guys worship mutes.’
The problem was evident. Even an idiot wouldn’t call some rank 8 mute from the black market a miracle, so it meant there was definitely some play happening that made people think the mutes were on their side. This actually might be connected with the dark mages or the mutes. The Queen is still under the control of the dark mages at this point in the storyline. Since there are a lot of nasty ones among the dark mages, it’s most likely that they were the ones who were making this happen.
And one more thing. All of the mutes’ attacks are concentrated on Rodrick right now. The entire northern part of the continent should be under the mute’s territory, so there should be a few targeted kingdoms, but they were concentrating their attacks specifically on Rodrick for some reason.
‘Thanks to that, all of the other kingdoms aside from Rodrick are just watching this fight happen. Instead of an attack against all of humanity, it was more like a natural disaster that was happening to their neighboring kingdom, making it beneficial for themselves. There are definitely some places to profit politically if Rodrick’s power weakens. They’ll probably demand all sorts of deals if Rodrick asks for reinforcements.’
A strategic, political, and even religious type of attack. These weren’t the dumb mutes of Year 124 that I knew. Normally, their intelligence should be much lower because of the Queen’s lack of resources.
Something’s fishy. Whether it’s the mutes or the dark mages, there is a tactician on their side. One that’s very knowledgeable in dirty moves at that.
Once he realized that there was a commander on the opponent’s side, he changed the direction of his plan to fight against that opponent. Acting as the Crimson Mute in Tobrune to plant fear in the citizens was also part of that plan.
The story that a single mute invaded the city and killed a level 6 mage and destroyed the tower before escaping was a great topic for gossipers.
Using the level 6 mage as a reference made it easy for people to realize how strong mutes actually were, therefore increasing their wariness towards mutes.
‘The fact that it’s already this complicated is a pain in the butt…… What even messed up this seed so badly? Was I not supposed to beat up Edeorna?’
He didn’t know where it went wrong. He didn’t go around beating up dark mages, and the seeds were already this messed up—
Bang, bang, bang, bang!
‘But what even is this sound? Why is it so noisy?’
When Gyosu opened his eyes, irritated by the sound that was bothering his peaceful moment, he saw Koduro’s drone repeatedly charging toward the shower booth, which was basically a water coffin.
“Gasp! Dang, I’m out of breath.”
Once Koduro witnessed Gyosu walk out of the pouring water casually, he froze on the spot.
“M-Master? Are you okay?”
“Okay, my ass, what’s wrong with you? I was just trying to rest and sort my thoughts out.”
“But I thought Master was trying to attempt suicide again!”
“Suicide? Why are you even bringing that up?”
“It’s only natural! What kind of madman stays underwater for over 7 minutes?”
Koduro’s response also made Gyosu confused. I was in there for that long..? Inside the water?
“What…. what’s happening?”
It looked like the situation in-game wasn’t the only thing he needed to sort out.
After drying himself and changing his clothes, Gyosu returned to the living room and calmed himself down.
‘7 minutes. When you think about it, it’s not an insanely long record. Diving does have a physical factor to it, but they say that the psychological factor is also important. Once you lose your calm underwater and your breathing becomes unstable, the heart starts beating faster, which shortens the diving period. Let’s just say it was the psychological factor.’
But if his psychological factor was affected by his in-game character, one other thing was concerning him.
Gyosu called out to the thing, hoping that it was just him being ridiculous and that nothing would happen.
. . .
‘Parasite! Infectious agent! Hey! You idiot!’
…. There was no response, but that only made Gyosu more anxious. He didn’t know what, but something was making him more certain that the thing was inside his head. As if there were some kind of curtain covering that part of his head.
[You finally called me by my name, vessel.]
He knew it. He hoped that he was wrong, but it really happened.
It was logically impossible from Gyosu’s perspective. Even if the game was realistic, Game of Gedroits was just a bunch of code and data in the end. How could a game actually affect a person in reality?
[Vessel, didn’t we talk about this before? In my personal opinion, I think you’re terrible at learning from the past.]
‘I didn’t ask.’
[But you’re being so dumb right now. I’ve said this before. Why does the difference between real and fake matter? I’m not even a life form in the first place. I’m just some sort of consciousness that was created because of the infectious agent. Just because you came out of the game doesn’t mean your emotions and memories related to that game disappear.]
‘This…. is like that?’
The parasite’s smug tone only darkened the wrinkles on Gyosu’s forehead.
[Anyway, this place is pretty cool. I knew from your memories that there was a different world, but it’s cooler to actually see it like this.]
The three fingers on his left hand scratched at Gyosu’s leg as if urging him to move.
[Gun! I want to try shooting a gun! Let’s go shoot something!]
After prying off his left hand from his pants, Gyosu sighed aloud.
“I’m going to old man Woojin’s place.”
Gyosu firmly decided to cure this ‘illness’ of his.
This senile old man was the doctor of Area 43.
Living in the Wasteland, it’s hard to find a day when you don’t get hurt. But the problem was that there was no such thing as medicine, so if you got a scratch from some kind of rusty nail, that was the day you prepared a will and a single-shot pistol.
So the [Woojin Urology] that ‘Doctor’ Woojin ran in Area 43 was a regular visiting place for all of the survivors in the area.
After two days of traveling through the harsh sandstorms, Gyosu arrived at [Woojin Urology], which looked busy as always, looking at the large crowd of cars that were neatly parked in front of the building.
There was a reason why all of these tough survivors kept order in this place.
It was because of the dozens of old-fashioned automatic turrets surrounding the parking lot. The combat AIs, which were also old-fashioned, were programmed to react to any kind of aggressive behavior. The moment you raised your voice toward a person you met in the hospital.
Whiiiir— Clank! Du—du—du!
The automatic turrets that were also inside the hospital would shoot bullets through your body, literally.
This system was based on Old Man Woojin’s philosophy that patients needed to trust the doctor with their lives.
‘And thanks to that, the old man’s rich.’
Of course, there was also that reason. It would only be a loss for them if the few doctors within the Wasteland died. Because of these several reasons, Old Man Woojin’s hospital was treated with a sort of extraterritorial law.
A scream rang out right as he opened the door.
The patients waiting in the long line were all holding in their cries of pain. Shockingly, in this hospital, even cries were considered ‘aggressive behavior,’ so you needed to hold in your groans until you entered the treatment room.
‘I should probably be able to get in by nighttime.’
After placing his backpack down at the very end of the line, Gyosu sat down, leaning against the wall, and closed his eyes. Once he placed his bag in the line like this, he didn’t need to worry about anyone cutting in front of him. Cutting in line was also considered an ‘aggressive behavior’ that caused a disturbance among the patients. Once his turn came, someone was going to wake him up.
Even though he wasn’t attacked, traveling through the Wasteland for two days was incredibly tiring. Although this place reeked of blood and alcohol, it was still the safest place in the area.
‘It means that this is a good place to lie down and rest.’
Gyosu felt himself falling asleep not long after and slowly drifted away.
[Vessel! Hey! Wake up!]
‘Mmm…. what. What is it this time?’
[I can’t see it because your eyes are closed, but someone touched your body!]
[Yes! I think someone poked you with their finger. Wake up!]
Gyosu hurriedly woke up at the parasite’s alert. As it said, there was a figure that was crouching in front of Gyosu, staring at him intently.
A large, muscular man with a beard carrying an even larger metal case and a short man with an old-looking face.
Ian and Vex, who were the ones crouching in front of Gyosu, smiled brightly once they saw Gyosu open his eyes.
“Aye, bro. You always declined to come here when I asked, and look at you now. Is this some kind of game?”
“Hepburn! It’s been a while, bro!”
“W-What? Why are you guys here?”
As the groggy Gyosu asked the two in confusion, Ian laughed loudly, patting Gyosu on the shoulder.
“What? Why? Wahahahah! That’s what we should say! We’re the ones living in Area 43, and you’re the one living in Area 47! What other reason—”
With the sound of a turret aiming toward them, Ian’s loud, rumbling voice instantly quieted down to his normal inside voice.
“…Why else come to a hospital than to get treated?”
“We got hurt a little during a trade. Both of us at that, thanks to this idiot just charging forward.”
“That’s because you’re still too inexperienced. A USAS should have cleared all of them out before the enemy even had a chance to react.”
The two that were quietly bickering in front of Gyosu extended their fists out to him.
“Anyway, nice to see you in Area 43, bro.”
Gyosu let out a small laugh as he fist-bumped the two.
“Aye, nice to see you idiots as well.”
[Hey! Nice to see you too! I wanted to meet these guys sometime!]
Gyosu extended his left hand without much thought to fist bump them, but three of his fingers suddenly shot out and drummed on Vex and Ian’s fists.
“Uh…. Hepburn? Is this supposed to mean something?”
“Is there a problem with your hand? It’s shaking a lot.”
“Oh, about that….”
Gyosu hesitated for a moment, then started talking with a sigh. It should be safe to tell these two.
“I think I have a mental illness.”
Acknowledging the turrets that were retargeted on them, the two stood there with their mouths covered, and eyes widened in shock.
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