"I will challenge the best, Kraugel."
Grid's eyes were burning with passion. Prior to victory and defeat, he was enjoying this moment.
Kraugel's conscience was smashed.
Grid didn't know it, but he had already made an unfair deal with Lauel.
'I don't deserve to answer your pure heart.'
Kraugel's face was disgusted and saddened as he formed a fist. Satisfy was no longer a game to him. He couldn't enjoy it. It was merely a means of achieving his purpose. He felt ashamed and sorry towards the many players aiming for him, including Grid. But there was no reason to collapse from the guilt.
"...I will only fight to win."
Kraugel swallowed down the poison in his heart. People didn't noticed the shade that covered his face as he stepped onto the stage, each step with the hope of fixing his mother's illness.
Except for one person.
A hospital on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia. Kraugel's sick mother was lying in a room for a long time. She shed tears as she saw her son on the TV.
[ The lots will be drawn according to the country's ranking. ]
Grid received the instructions of the host and was the first of 64 players to approach the glass barrel. Then he grabbed one of the colorful balls inside it without hesitation. He would drive away the bad luck that plagued him all his life! The host identified the number on the ball Grid picked up and shouted.
[ Number 32. Grid has been assigned the 32 group. The next person is Skull of the United States.]
[ Skull has been assigned number 12. ]
[ Kraugel's turn is next. .]
A lot of attention! The viewers focused on the TV as Kraugel approached the glass barrel. Then...
[ Number 1! Kraugel is number 1! ]
[ Huhu, this is very dramatic. ]
[ Indeed. The best candidates to win, Grid and Kraugel, won't meet until the finals. ]
[ If the two players meet in the finals, won't the audience ratings exceed imagination? ]
[ Maybe most of the world's roads will be empty? ]
The commentators were excited, while the audience and viewers were enthusiastic. The international broadcasters cheered. The biggest and best match was likely to happen, giving them record advertising rates! But the person who was even more joyful...
It was Grid.
Grid inwardly cheered with delight. He couldn't believe that he wouldn't meet Kraugel until the finals and thought he had finally shaken off his bad luck. But he soon realized his mistake.
[ Hah... Another strong winning candidate, Hao of China, was assigned to group 32 with Grid. ]
[ It will be a fierce battle from the first round. ]
[ Chris, 3rd on the unified rankings, and Soul Predator Seuron will compete in the 31st group. ]
[ The winner will fight the winner of group 32. ]
[ Four winning candidates on one side of the draw... It's a complete group of death. ]
[ Hah, Damian has drawn number 29. ]
Grid couldn't shut his mouth as he saw the completed tournament table.
'No, does this make sense?'
Hao, Chris, Seuron, Pon, Regas, Damian, and Katz. The winning candidates were assigned close to Grid. Grid would have to fight someone strong in every match! Reaching the finals wouldn't be easy.
"...This is too mentally exhausting."
It was impossible to shake off his bad luck.
Grid shook as he once again realized it.
"Well, it's good to build up experience."
'This is an opportunity.'
The miracle of the continent, Hao. He had no doubt that Kraugel was the only one stronger than him and now he stared at Grid.
'I will break him.'
His strength would surely be proven and Kraugel would become aware of him. Hao burned with motivation as he looked between Kraugel and Grid.
'Kraugel, I will make you look at me.'
The only one Hao acknowledged as strong was Kraugel. Hao had always been conscious of Kraugel and aimed for him. He wanted to be recognized and appreciated by Kraugel. Grid was a good scapegoat for this.
'I will completely smash him.'
Hao promised. Lauel looked at Hao with a dark smile from where he was sitting on the stands.
"It doesn't look like Grid will be able to make the finals."
"Being matched with Hao in the first game..."
"Drawing the 32nd number and fighting four consecutive winning candidates, it's ridiculous."
"One moment of weakness will cause him to be eliminated."
"What is this table...?"
The expressions of the Korean people were dull. South Korea for number one! The dream that they would able to see due to Grid was going to crumble!
"Isn't this manipulation?"
"It is 100% manipulated. Otherwise, it wouldn't be so hard for Grid alone."
"Look at Kraugel's path. Isn't his luck ridiculously good? The only one who can face Kraugel on that side is Skull."
"Bubat or Blood Carnival's Tarma were brilliant when they first appeared, but they died against Grid."
"Russia must've paid the organizers. They want to win."
The Korean people couldn't imagine. The reason why Grid's draw was the worst. It wasn't due to manipulation, but purely the result of Grid's bad luck.
'This worked out well.'
Tarma. Even the 2nd ranked user was assassinated by him. He had been ignored by people since dying to Grid, but he didn't care. No, he viewed the situation positively. It meant his assassination target, Kraugel, wouldn't be paying attention to him.
'A 10 billion won neck.'
He was confident.
Tarma smiled as he checked the tournament table. The 1st match of the round of 64. Kraugel vs Tarma.
"Kuk...! Kukukuk! Good, this is very good!"
The worst dark gamers group, Blood Carnival! Tarma would show his abilities that allowed him to be ranked in the top five! Tarma was filled with killing intent as he climbed onto the stage.
In the center of the huge stage, Kraugel was already waiting. His eyes were sunken as his black hair fluttered in the wind. Deep and dull eyes. His atmosphere seemed different from the past, but Tarma didn't care. The atmosphere meant nothing.
"The sky above the sky! The sky above the sky! The sky above the sky!"
The crowd yelled. No, the world didn't doubt Kraugel's victory and cheered enthusiastically for him. But Tarma wasn't shaken. Not only did the crowd's voices not enter the world of Satisfy, he was already accustomed to being blamed.
'Kraugel, I will knock you down.'
Then he would go to the finals and get revenge on Grid.
Tarma laughed before putting on a mask. This wasn't an ordinary mask, but an item that strengthened his Stealth skill. The host identified Kraugel and Tarma and shouted.
[ The 2nd National Competition's closing ceremony, the PvP event! This is now the first match! Start!! ]
The PvP had an environment where participants could fight at will. A flat and wide stage. The skill cooldowns and item durability would be reset at the end of each match. In the case of Grid's Assimilation, it was on cooldown before the match and didn't get the benefits of this system. In any case, the participants could do their best without worrying, allowing Tarma to open up his hidden power.
Tarma created shadows in all directions and hid himself in the shadows. The viewers were nervous when they saw him disappearing on stage.
[ Tarma's shadow technique has been invoked! ]
[Shadow hiding is easier to hide in than Stealth and the emergence area can't be predicted. ]
[ Viewers, please focus. Tarma will probably emerge soon from the shadows near Kraugel... ]
The commentators worked hard to explain the situation.
Kraugel suddenly put his hand on the ground and said calmly.
"Heaven and Earth Rupture."
Kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa!
It was truly an overwhelming sight. A destructive power that couldn't be compared to an earthquake shattered the ground and sky with intense force.
Tarma became wounded from the blast and emerged near Kraugel with a scream. But it was from Kraugel's rear side. In the midst of the terrible pain, he tried to stab Kraugel without losing his coolness. However, his powerful dagger with the additional PvP damage and poisoning option didn't reach Kraugel. Kraugel predicted how Tarma would respond with his natural acumen and sharp senses, easily avoiding it and striking back.
Tarma had his heart pierced by White Fang and realized it as he looked into Kraugel's hollow eyes.
'This man is a monster...!'
The only one worthy of being the first ranked user. The sky above the sky! Someone on an entirely different dimension from Zibal.
"The sky above the sky...!"
Dozens of shadows spread around the moaning Tarma, surrounding Kraugel. Who could've predicted that the shadows would be used as a direct means of attack? Tarma believed that Kraugel wouldn't be able to cope. In fact, Kraugel was upset by the number of Tarma's clones.
His intuition told him it would be dangerous to allow an attack. Thus, he used Super Sensitivity. He completely surpassed the human realm as he avoided Tarma's shadow attacks and struck Tarma.
[ Tarma! Logout! ]
The match was over in a flash. Some techniques might be very flashy, but they were also meaningless.
"He's almost invincible."
The audience was startled. Super Sensitivity was a fraudulent scam that allowed Kraugel to have a 100% evasion rate and accuracy. It was amazing because no matter how many times they watched, they couldn't get a sense of Kraugel at all. It was the same with the PvP participants.
Apart from the few people called the winning candidates, the participants were very wary of Kraugel's Super Sensitivity. Then Grid...
He yawned with boredom. It seemed like he had no interest in this match in the first place. There was no proof that he recognized Tarma as someone strong just a few weeks ago.