The sharp blade pierced the man’s chest.
His expressionless face was truly pitiful.
He genuinely looked like he didn’t understand why this was happening.
[Why, why can’t I reach you?]
His earnest gestures and tone, every single one of his actions, expressed his grievance towards the girl.
However, her response was utterly cold.
[What are you saying? Just die.]
The man who lost the duel couldn’t touch the girl in the end.
His daily practice of swinging the sword, all his efforts to get her attention and surpass her, were all in vain.
No matter how hard he tried, he could never beat her.
Because he was mediocre, and she was a genius.
Not as a metaphor or exaggeration but as a being born with a talent from the heavens.
If human talents were to be compared to lights, the gap between him and her would be greater than the gap between the midday sun and a dying firefly.
Clan, village, generation. Standing atop insignificant things, he was the mediocre one destined to fade away without a trace in the course of time; she was the hero, forever standing in the heavens, illuminating history in all her glory.
This vast gap couldn’t be closed with a few years of early training or by consuming better elixirs.
Their seeds were just different.
Typhoons and morning mist.
Dragons and minnows.
Cheetahs and racehounds.
That was the difference between a genius and a non-genius.
I was furious.
Because I had seen a character that resembled me die miserably and pointlessly on the screen over and over again.
The character that was just moving on the screen… without exaggeration, at over a hundred decision points in the game, would die no matter what choice was made.
In other words, a character purposefully designed to never clear the game.
Of all the characters, ‘that’ one had to look like me.
If I had just heard about it, I would have thought this was just self-conscious exaggeration, pure nonsense.
Still, saying that the character and I looked alike wasn’t just an offhand observation.
The furrowed brows on a grim face, the scar near the eye from a childhood fall, even the habit of rubbing the sore nape of my neck—it all replicated me perfectly.
Of course, I had also thought, “It’s just a coincidence, it can’t be,” and tried to deny it.
I had gone through all the game’s choices, watched the ending credits I had always skipped, and finally confirmed it.
[Creative Designer Shin Yura]
There was a familiar name, tightly knotted with me by a long-lasting karmic relationship.
“Son of a b*tch.”
I had heard she got a job years ago, but I didn’t think she’d be doing something like this.
A curse slipped involuntarily from my mouth, and my lips felt scorched.
Just seeing those two words made a thought I had buried deep in my heart resurface.
‘Why does this b*tch always mess with me?’
No, this twisted-character woman had always messed with me.
I never liked her from the start.
[First place in the mock test again?]
She never did anything for me but insisted on boasting about things I didn’t want to hear.
[Oh, I don’t think so. Your mom would agree with my opinion, right?]
She negated whatever I said.
[Didn’t I tell you? You won’t get in that way. I know what you’re thinking, but after ten years, it’s about time you learn, isn’t it?]
Her words from when I expressed slight regret for not making it into my first-choice university still remained like thorns deeply embedded in my heart.
So perhaps that was why. The sense of relief at finally breaking away from this person overshadowed any despair over my “failure.” In retrospect, my time with her might have become a fond memory.
‘So this is just scratching the itch again.’
Taking a sip of water, I tried to calm my boiling insides.
‘Does she have some kind of grudge against me?’
Unfortunately, there was no such fact.
Even though we had minor arguments, if our relationship was so bad as to warrant the grand term “grudge,” it would’ve broken long ago.
Rather, what remained was the childish regret that I should have perhaps landed a few punches, having held back the desire to hit her every day.
Time had passed, but a resurfacing thought became clear. A tumultuous and dirty emotion surged inside him.
‘I hate people who think they’re great.’
More precisely, I hated those who, intoxicated by their self-importance, were oblivious to the feelings of people around them.
I had tried to deny it, to escape from this base emotion, but those two words seemed to represent me too well.
The image of myself, admitting this filled me with such regret that I felt a rush of blood to the head, leaving me dizzy.
And as the long ending credits rolled, I again found myself entangled in a whirlpool of emotions.
[We always had happy moments with Shin Yura.]
[We will remember her on this occasion.]
My eyes bulged at the sentence that concluded the ending credits. It clearly stated that Yura had died.
My shaking hand instinctively moved towards the phone. But…
“….Yeah, I’m sorry to call you for the first time in a while because of this.”
I had no choice but to press the end call button with my trembling hand. My hopeful expectations had been miserably betrayed.
The news of my childhood friend’s death made my head spin.
A groan escaped my lips, almost too soft to believe it was my own. It felt as if all the blood was draining from my body. Drained of energy, possibly due to the adrenaline rush, I practically collapsed onto the bed.
I may have disliked her, but I never wished for this outcome. My chest tightened, and my eyes felt hot.
‘So, you’ve messed with me until the very end, huh?’
That damn childhood friend controlled my emotions even at the last moment.
Perhaps it was because I had heard the tragic news about Yura, but she appeared in my dream.
“Hey, stop bothering me and go away.”
Of all people, it was the Yura from our childhood. The Yura from our very first meeting. It had been a while.
The Yura I first met was blunt. I had no idea why she was so harsh, but the atmosphere she emitted made it difficult for other kids her age to approach her.
Thanks to this, Yura was a lonely kid before she met me.
It was not surprising that a kid with ruined social skills and high self-esteem would be ostracized.
The multi-talented Yura didn’t have a single friend back then. That person had certainly changed in many ways.
Was it because I saw a familiar face? Or because the young Yura, trying to act tough, seemed amusing? Even though it was a dream, I couldn’t help but laugh.
“What’s up with you? Did you eat something wrong? Or has the cold gotten to your head?”
She narrowed her eyes, looking puzzled.
“No, it’s just… It’s a nostalgic scene.”
Yes, a nostalgic scene from nostalgic times. I was seeing the childhood version of Yura, blurry but vivid. I was seeing a person I could no longer see in reality.
It was good to see you.
Although it was awkward for me to say, the old me was such a kind-hearted kid that I couldn’t leave Yura alone, who couldn’t get along with other children.
So I even said this.
“You don’t have any friends, do you?”
“I mean, it’s so obvious you have no friends. If you act so prickly, no one will stick around.”
That was refreshing. This was what you called a jab. Although it fell far short of expressing all my resentment towards her, saying something relieved me a little.
But something was strange.
Young Yura used to get teased for having fierce-looking eyes, but now her already fierce face twisted demonically, casting a golden glint over her eyes.
A golden glint?
‘What is that?’
I felt a momentary sense of unease.
The place where I initially met Yura wasn’t a desolate snowfield. It was a normal park on a summer day.
The hazy scenery became increasingly clear, and my dull senses sharpened like a honed blade. The floating sensation gradually blurred, replaced by a clear sense of awareness.
A small gasp escaped.
‘It’s not Yura.’
The girl before me was not Yura. It was a mistake of my own making. The rarity of her red hair and golden pupils supported this.
It was then that I noticed the wooden sword clenched in her hand.
Why was she holding a wooden sword? You couldn’t kill someone with it, but you could surely cripple them.
The red-haired girl threw the wooden sword to the ground. By the look of her face, by the language of her body, she was evidently infuriated.
I unconsciously took a step back.
“What? You start a quarrel and then say wait?”
“Yeah, I was thinking the same.”
I couldn’t say any more.
“Being underestimated by a brat like you, I’m such a fool.”
In an instant, she closed the gap, and her fist burrowed into my chest.
The intense shock cleared my previously fuzzy mind. However, the blurring of consciousness due to immense pain was just as instantaneous.
But I could recognize her face.
‘Yes. I knew she looked familiar.’
Lucia Prient, a character from the game I was just hooked on playing.
‘That… that bastard.’
A dream where a game character beat me up.
‘What kind of shitty nightmare is this?’
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