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Chapter 195

Hard Carry Support

Chapter 195 - The Ranking Ceremony That Changed (1)

 

'The Ranking Ceremony changed format and became a tournament? Really...?'

"I've seen a tournament among users before."

After tournaments appeared, other types of matches were added to the Duel Arena. Besides the 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, and 3 vs. 3, 'league matches' were added.

More users were doing 'league matches' than simple duels because you could earn 'Battle Coins' faster through league matches.

The Duke said he'd visited the Duel Arena before.

NPCs had no reason to visit the Duel Arena, but it wasn't that they were forbidden.

It seemed like he'd also seen a tournament of professional gamers through the screens inside the Duel Arena.

"It seemed like a group called Stardust won."

"You even saw that match?!"

"No, what I saw was another tournament, but I heard the news."

"Oh, my god..."

To be honest, news of the Duke's Ranking Ceremony had been covered by some Asrian-related news outlets and community boards.

There was a column posted with the title [NPCs that imitate users], but it was buried because of the History Quests, concerns about where Lattice was, what the Darkness Guild was doing, and information about the patch, among other things.

"The high-ranking Dukes were mesmerized by the tournament, ao many people started saying that we should change the Ranking Ceremony format to something similar. That's why... something like this appeared during the five years you guys weren't here."

BZZT! As Bahmir's hands shone, a light appeared in the air.

Footage was displayed on the screen that was created in mid-air.

"This is how the ceremony currently looks."

"...!"

"Do you want to watch it?"

Hyun approached the light without being able to answer the Duke's words.

A battle was happening inside a big magic circle as if it were a movie, and two armies were clashing across the fort.

The people leading the armies were probably imitating 'players.'

Others who looked like the Duke's underlings were cheering from outside the magic circle.

Hyun didn't know what to say at the familiar yet foreign scene.

"A tournament..."

"Hahaha, that's right. They said that Magicians struggled quite a lot to recreate the magic circle."

Bahmir told Hyun many things.

When a competitor received fatal damage, the magic circle surrounding the tournament arena sent the competitor to a respawn area, and then it recovered their HP for 60 seconds.

It seemed like the lives of those that weren't competitors wasn't guaranteed, and if something happened, they'd die.

"The number of underlings you can use as a competitor is four."

"Shouldn't it be five...?"

"The other one is me," Bahmir said while pointing to himself.

Hmm? If the Duke participated, he could sweep away everyone alone, so was a tournament even possible?

Hyun thought that for a short while but soon realized that Dukes had some sort of restriction.

For example, the Duke couldn't move from his fortress, but he could fortify his underlings from a distance or use long-range support magic.

After listening to the explanation, Hyun understood why Bahmir cared so much about 'strategy.'

'I need to see it more carefully.'

After listening carefully, Hyun realized that the Ranking Ceremony and tournaments had three differences.

The first one was that the level of players wasn't restricted to 100 for balance purposes among competitors.

There wasn't a stat or skill restriction for those participating, so everyone could use their strength to its full extent.

The second one was that defense and attack happened simultaneously.

Was that why the sight of soldiers clashing against each other really made it look like a war?

The third difference was how the normal soldiers participated.

Although the specs of the competitors were untouched, the specs of the soldiers couldn't go beyond the established standard.

The magic circle debuffed those that weren't competitors.

Since their strength was limited and lives weren't guaranteed, most of the soldiers were either undead or low-ranking devils.

"I heard that there are some Dukes that use users as soldiers. Since they aren't afraid of dying, they can get them to participate just by offering them some rewards."

"Users as soldiers...?!"

"Why are you so surprised? After all, you will participate in the Ranking Ceremony as a competitor."

Bahmir kept saying one explosive thing after the other.

"Oh, by the way, I'm going to put you in charge of leading since Mablen praised your ability to make strategies."

It seemed like, usually, vampire Mablen was the brain among the Duke's aids.

The Ranking Ceremony was very important to the Dukes, so putting a user in charge of leading was quite impressive in itself.

Hyun realized that Bahmir was serious when he said he would give him an opportunity to prove himself.

"I'm also going to let you pick all the competitors."

"All..."

"Yes. The Ranking Ceremony takes place twice. In four days, there will be a defense match, and then one for the ranking, so you'll probably have to start preparing from now on. How about that? Will you accept?"

'In four days…'

Hyun fell into thought.

Accepting the Duke's quest meant it would also take that much longed to find Louise, but he didn't feel comfortable refusing it because there was a certain hint in the quest’s description.

- Maybe lowering the ranking of the opposing Dukes will be of help to Darkness?

The quest's message was absolute; it didn't lie or say things indirectly.

Hyun asked the Duke another question to make sure.

"Who are the Dukes we have to face?"

"There are two that have been annoying me. They could be a bother to Darkness in the future."

Then Bahmir said the names of the two Dukes he would have to face.

They were two Dukes that weren't that famous in Asra.

Be a bother to Darkness... What kind of secret were they hiding?

"I'm going to accept."

Hyun thought that he would have to check all the details that he could while remembering what Louise said in the letter—that he shouldn't easily trust anyone.

The conversation with Bahmir became long, so SeoHyun could log off once it became morning.

When he opened his eyes, the sun was right up in the sky.

'It's already afternoon... I won't be able to do the attendance check.'

He didn't have time to go to school.

The Duke had asked him to find him the next day and had left a teleportation magic circle in the private room.

'I should tell the plan to Ain as well, right?'

Before going to Bahmir's castle, Hyun sent Ain a message.

He told her what had happened in Asrian the past five years, what Louise told him, and about the Ranking Ceremony that the Dukes had.

There were a lot of things he needed to tell her, so he couldn't wait until she logged in.

While sending the messages, he suddenly received a reply from Ain. It wasn't a voice message but a written one.

AIN: Hngh? How weird of you to send me a message at this hour!

LeeSeoHyun: Huh? Are you in your house?

AIN: School, but I connected the capsule to my phone!

LeeSeoHyun: Can you reply to my messages from school?

AIN: It's okay because I'm in class!

'...?'

Something seemed wrong, but then Hyun thought it made sense because he remembered when he used to be in school. 

If Ain were similar to him, she would have more free time during classes rather than breaks or lunch.

Lee SeoHyun: I might be late, so wait for me in the Duel Arena.

AIN: A Duel?!

Lee SeoHyun: I think that we should practice by doing some league matches.

AIN: League matches? Hyun, don't tell me you're trying to become a professional...!

Lee SeoHyun: That's not it. Read the message I sent you slowly.

After sending a report to Ain, Hyun visited the Duke's castle.

Bahmir ordered Rublen to guide Hyun through the castle.

"I'm not sure what Mr. Bahmir is thinking."

Wherever the Duke wasn't present, Rublen kept complaining. It seemed like he didn't like that Bahmir had given the ability to name competitors to a weak human.

"You should know you're lucky and be thankful to the Duke."

"Yes... Well…"

Although Rublen was a strong named NPC, Hyun struggled to speak to her formally because of her young appearance.

Although in the language of Asrian, there weren't honorifics, so it really didn't matter that much.

"I can pick the three I want, right?"

Since the Duke knew about «Assimilation», there was no need to hide.

There wasn't a system in the Ranking Ceremony, so they could take six participants with «Assimilation».

The Duke didn't like that idea, so Hyun quickly said it was a joke.

When he tried to name three participants other than himself and Bahmir, Rublen complained.

"What. Are you trying to remove Mablen and me?"

After hearing Rublen complaining, Hyun quickly changed what he said.

"Then, I'm going to pick one..."

"Fufu, that's the obvious answer."

Since Mablen and Rublen were Bahmir's closest aides, they were strong devils.

Hyun would change them if there were a stronger devil than them, but the chances of that being the case were quite low, so Hyun decided to listen to her complain for the moment.

'I could change after looking at everyone.'

He followed Rublen, who showed him the numerous named devils that were in the castle, from strong Magicians to brave Warriors!

Even Hyun couldn't remember all of the Duke's underlings.

"Present me the strongest named of each tribe."

"Named...? Are you talking about the leaders?"

"Well, something like that."

Hyun decided to look until he saw someone he liked.

He was with Rublen, so he could see their level, stat, and skills.

The devils knew why Rublen was walking around the castle, so they tried their best to look strong.

"This guy is an ogre with three heads. Hmm... I forget his name, but he's the leader anyway."

"GUOO! I, Mauran, will put my life on the line and fight for Mr. Bahmir!"

"Then, does that mean you're willing to fight as a soldier?"

"N-no. That's not what I meant...!"

Rublen began judging all of the devils as if he had a say in who would be a competitor.

"Until this bone... breaks..."

"It already broke. Old man, why don't you go and take a walk?"

"GRR, Ms. Rublen! This time, please give me a chance!"

"Zombie king...? You stink too much."

Rublen refused every single devil’s proposal.

In Hyun's eyes, everyone seemed to have at least one or two useful qualities, but it seemed like, for Rublen, they weren't good enough.

Suddenly, Hyun began wondering about who had previously participated in the Ranking Ceremony.

"Who were the ones that participated in previous ceremonies? I think that I'll know once I see them."

"Fufu. How unexpected. It seems like you have good eyes. Okay, I'll let you meet them immediately."

The next place he visited with Rublen was a luxurious location that resembled a palace, and it was full of luxurious decorations.

As they walked beyond the golden candles, numerous vampires greeted Rublen.

"It's these guys. They can't be compared to those dirty guys we saw before!"

"Hmm..."

Hyun started to look at each vampire one by one.

They had stats comparable to a named. Their stats were normal... and most had similar characteristics.

'I don't think they're better than the ones we saw before.'

It would be better to have a mixture of different devils to make a good party.

'I don't have a reason to choose only vampires.'

Hyun realized that, until that point, those who participated in the Ranking Ceremony had been decided by blood ties.

"Let's look around one more time."

"Don't you like my kids?"

"Yes."

"Wh-what...?!"

Before Rublen got angry, Hyun mentioned the name of the Duke.

"It's an order from Mr. Bahmir. We should think seriously before making a decision."

"B-but...!"

"Huh? Are you going to go against the Duke's will?"

Rublen was also quite a famous NPC in the previous game.

In the past, the best way to manage her was to use the Duke's name.

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