The dusky radiance enveloped the world in a flash.
No, this description wasn't accurate.
Rhode lifted his head to gaze at the snow-capped mountains and land. The fortress in the distance had vanished entirely. Shortly after, he witnessed a golden brilliance. Countless rays spread from him in the middle and scanned everything in their path.
At the same time, Rhode trembled. A dusky beam of light erupted from his body and rushed into the sky.
Rhode gazed at the system interface before him that had displayed an entirely different system of gorgeous, sacred, and ancient text. But for unknown reasons, he realized that he understood their meaning.
[Detected a breakthrough in boundary. Interface Extension.]
[3, 2, 1...]
The instant this row of words emerged, Rhode let out an abrupt shiver! Violent, immense pain erupted from his body as though his internal organs trembled instinctively from an assault. Then, an invisible, powerful blast spread out!
Lilian dropped the exquisite teacup in her tiny hand and it shattered on the white marble floor. The steaming tea splashed, but she wasn't mindful of it. She looked up at the azure sky with widened eyes.
The little girl trembled from her head to toe.
Lilian clenched her fists before her chest. Her clear, round eyes glinted in astonishment. She stood up abruptly and disregarded the Light Parliament members who were grumbling to her. Archangel Serene, who was supposed to remind Lilian of her etiquette and behaviors, also knitted her brows. She lowered her head with a stern expression and gazed at the thick book in her hands.
Rhode half-knelt on the ground and clutched his chest with his right hand. The immense pain had faded away, but the aftermath left his heart throbbing in pain. At this moment, he felt as though he was a rusty robot.
After a few moments, Rhode came back to his senses and gasped for air. He sensed the surging energy inside him gradually calming down as though his body were slowly getting used to it. He wasn't too surprised because he had often heard a rumor among players that it was common to suffer in pain when breaking through into the Legendary Stage. In that instant, the sealed power in their bodies surged like flames from an open-lid stove. The more powerful the talent was, the more damaging it was. Therefore, a tough body was definitely necessary to endure the pain. However, players basically didn't need to endure it since they couldn't feel the pain in the game. This was strictly prohibited among all virtual technologies.
Rhode subconsciously forgot about this point. After all, players in the game didn't have such experiences. It felt as though they were just randomly tapping on the system interface and finding out what their new talent was.
I almost died...
Rhode shook his head and stood to his feet. Then, he was speechless.
There was no heaven and earth before him.
It was complete darkness from top to bottom. Or perhaps, it could be said that this world didn't exist at all. There was no gravity, but he couldn't feel himself floating. He merely existed there.
Where am I?
Rhode extended his hand curiously and his sleeves swayed along with his movement. However, that stopped shortly after. He relaxed his arm and stood quietly on the spot. He wasn't feeling any restraint and even his strength had completely lost its effectiveness. It was too illogical.
Rhode knitted his brows. He didn't recall breaking into the Legendary Stage to be this state. He subconsciously scanned the surroundings and what surprised him was that the system interface didn't emerge for once! Everything before him was in complete darkness.
What exactly is going on?!
Rhode lost his head. Then, he calmed himself down quickly. He turned around but couldn't spot anything apart from the pitch-black space as though he were in the deep sea, but miraculously, he didn't feel frightened at all. Instead, he had a premonition that this was what he was supposed to experience, just like a player triggering certain missions while following the strategies.
However, he had no idea what was going on.
In this space, time didn't seem to exist. He gazed forward blankly. No. Perhaps standing was incorrect and yet, he couldn't be described as floating in air. It could be said that he was as though waiting silently in a strange environment. At this moment, a crisp laughter sounded.
An indistinct human silhouette emerged before him. Shortly after, just like a painter sketching his work, the silhouette slowly materialized and shaped into clothes, limbs, and a delicate face. Then, the dusky figure turned vibrant and a little girl finally emerged. Rhode's heart skipped a beat.
That little girl was indeed Christie. Purple pupils, straight, long hair, and a face like Rhode's. However, unlike the Christie that he remembered, this little girl wore a pitch-black, luxurious dress with layered white ribbons and lace that shaped into a beautiful pattern. Despite these, Rhode wasn't unfamiliar with her.
The little girl gently lifted the hem of her skirt and bowed. Then, she lifted her head and presented a gentle smile. Her voice was ringing and melodious, but her tone was completely different from Christie's. Christie's tone had always been innocent, childish and harmless. On the other hand, this little girl sounded elegant, confident, and even filled with a deep sense of pride.
\"... This shouldn't be our first meeting, right?\"
Rhode pondered for a moment while the little girl grinned in response. He knew that the little girl's proud behavior was due to his presence. But he couldn't figure out which part of him did the little girl value. Could it be due to Christie?
\"Yes, Master. We've met twice before. Back then, you didn't have enough strength, so I couldn't express my intentions. But it seems now that you're much wiser and farsighted, which assured me... It seems that my guidance wasn't too bad.\"
Anyone would figure out with such obvious 'guidance'.
Rhode cursed inwardly. Now that the little girl had mentioned, it was due to his lack of strength that he couldn't hear what she tried to tell him before. But...
\"Where is this place?\"
Rhode looked around and the place was still as dark as ever even with the emergence of the little girl. It seemed that this wasn't the usual venue where he met the little girl. The little girl let out a chuckle and shook her head slightly.
\"I'm sorry, Master... I can't reveal it. Besides, I'm unable to tell you where we are right now because this isn't up to me and it isn't something that I should know.\" The little girl extended her tiny finger and placed by her lips. Her purple pupils emanated a faint radiance.
\"This is only a world that you know and I'm merely being summoned here.\"
Rhode gazed blankly. Why would I summon her here? Even though he cared a lot for Christie, he wasn't too familiar with this little girl, after all, so why would he summon her?
As though reading Rhode's mind, the little girl smiled and shook her head.
\"There are always hundreds of millions of fates in this world, Master. In the intertwined world of destiny, I sensed your callings. Your strength has reappeared in this world and awakened the rules that have been sleeping for a long time. This isn't an established destiny, but everything is in your eyes.\"
Rhode rolled his eyes. In the game, he was used to hearing such artistic, yet puzzling words from NPCs. But the problem was that this little girl looked too similar as his sister and Christie. In addition to her style of speaking, he couldn't get used to it instantly as neither did his sister nor Christie had such a strange style of speech. But he also had other questions. Even though he didn't know how the little girl emerged, this was the best opportunity for him to raise his doubts.
\"Who are you? Why do you look exactly the same as Christie?\"
Rhode scanned the little girl from top to bottom.
\"What relationship do you have with her? Or, are you merely using her as your physical form?\"
In fact, Rhode had such suspicions for a long time. Normally speaking, it was extremely rare for two resembling individuals to meet each other, not to mention three of them. To describe it with pure fate or coincidence would simply be a slap in the face. However, the little girl didn't seem surprised by his questions.
She nodded and said, \"Please believe my sincerity, Master. I have a deep connection with the child. I'm not her, but she's my most cherished presence. Now isn't the time yet. That child is too weak... Too weak to bear the heavy responsibility and pressure of the cruel fate. But, please don't worry. The day will come when I appear before you... But, now isn't the time...\"
The little girl lifted her head and along with this movement, the mysterious, pitch-black venue slowly distorted. Then, white radiance permeated and Rhode felt his body slowly burning as a warm sensation spread throughout his limbs.
\"... It seems like time is up, Master. Please remember that this is only the start...\"
The little girl vanished and a dazzling radiance enveloped everything in sight...
Rhode opened his eyes wide. The freezing cold wind brushed his cheeks. The familiar snow-capped mountains and land reemerged before his vision. At this moment, Mini Bubble Gum and Canary had stood curiously before him.
\"Leader, are you fine?\"
\"What happened to me?\"
Rhode shook the confusion off his head and patted the thick layer of snow piled on his shoulders. Canary extended her hand to gently swipe the snow off his clothes and arranged his hair neatly.
\"You have been standing here in a daze. We spoke to you, but you didn't respond at all. I thought you've gotten into an accident...\"
\"Ha, if this were in the game, I would have thought that you disconnected, Leader.\"
\"By the way.\"
As soon as he heard the word 'disconnected', he hurriedly extended his right hand and swept before him. The system interface showed up, but this time, the text was somewhat different. A string of strange golden text flew up continuously. After a few moments, they came to an abrupt halt and revealed the original character attributes interface.
What was that all about?
Even though he was dubious, he knew that this wasn't the time to consider this problem. He shifted his attention to the character attributes interface and the two young ladies gathered around him curiously.
[Race Characteristics: Locked]
[Race Reward: Locked]
[Class: Spirit Swordsman (Hero Class)]
[Talent Awakened: Former Talent - Eternal Fantasy]
\"Huh? What is this? Leader?\"
Mini Bubble Gum exclaimed in astonishment. She remembered clearly that there were only three types of player talents-Low-level, Mid-level, and Advanced-Rhode had never heard of 'Former Talent' even after playing the game for so many years.
What's this? And what's the 'Eternal Fantasy'...?
Rhode knitted his brows and tapped on the attribute description column. Shortly after, he saw the detailed content.
[Talent Characteristics: Self-Affirmation Lvl 1 - Holder can appoint any attribute and raise it to the expected value. Can be used once per day. Lasts for 30 minutes. (Affirming one's will is the most powerful force)]
[Talent Rule: Absolute Presence Lvl 1 - Holder's equipment cannot be destroyed (Even the passage of time cannot shake the truth itself)]
[Talent Technique: Igniting Wrath Lvl 1 - Certain probabilities to absorb the opponent's strength during battle and reflect with double damage. Level and defense will be ignored. (Anyone who dares to provoke will get the punishment they deserve)]
Rhode and Mini Bubble Gum were stunned.