[Round 18, Day 8, 11:25]
“Details about Paramal?”
Hyang didn’t pry into the reasons as to why I wanted to ask her about this.
After all, she felt from me that I was very interested in knowing this particular information.
As the Grand Paramal Festival continued on, and as we drank Paramal, the effects of shared emotions among everyone amplified.
Now, we could even have rough ideas on others’ thoughts or intents.
During the first day of the festival, I didn’t drink any of Paramal. Even after that day, for the first few days, I didn’t drink much of Paramal. Despite all that, I was feeling like this.
I am sure that people can see clearly into the minds of the people other than myself.
“What I know are all things that I have heard from other people. I am not certain if they could help you.”
That’s a bit unexpected.
Hyang was a native of the AoAeo island. Also, she was the owner of the café which held large quantities of Paramal.
I thought she would be one of the people who knew about Paramal the most.
One thing after the other, she listed the things that she heard about Paramal from other people.
To organize what she told me in the order she explained over time, it was like this:
A long time ago, it was during the time when the human empire continued expansion and explored new places on the continent.
The empire’s expedition reached AoAeo island, which was uninhabited at the time.
Also, at the island, the expedition found a temple of an ancient religion.
From inside of the temple, the expedition found the history and the manufacturing method of a mysterious drink.
After that, an alchemist guild was commissioned by the royals, and the guild was able to restore the drink, which could be referred to as the creation of the ancient religion.
Although they only made a small quantity of the drink, it was a success.
This ancient drink was named as Paramal. Using Paramal, the royals tried to spread their ideals that they dreamed of.
Paramal was very difficult to create. So, the supply of Paramal was limited to AoAeo island. Also, the supply only lasted about one month per year.
Lately, the manufacturing rate of Paramal had increased significantly. However, the number of tourists had also increased, so the supply was still lasted to just one month.
Like that, through the Grand Paramal Festival, the AoAeo island became the heaven on the human world for a month per year.
So, the people who were sick of the world all gathered to AoAeo island.
After the festival ends, the donation from the tourists and the influential people of the continent are invested into making Paramal for the next year’s festival.
I went to the street after hearing the entire story from Hyang.
Her explanation was like a fairytale. However, there were some parts of it that I found suspicious.
First, when those in power learned the effect of Paramal, would they really want to use it to spread idealism and utopia to the world?
Such people would want to use Paramal on other purpose.
It didn’t take me long to come up with numerous ways that Paramal could be abused.
It could even be used to breed fanatics for a pseudo-religion.
Military-wise, they could raise berserkers who only desire battle and victory.
Paramal could also be used in torture and interrogation.
Just looking at the effect of Paramal, it was closer to being a strategic weapon rather than the key to the utopian ideals.
What would happen if Paramal was introduced to some random village’s water well?
People will feel the animosities they have harbored without any filter. People will get swept away by the hatred and other emotions.
It probably won’t even take a week before the village is destroyed.
If anyone wanted to use Paramal for evil and benefit from it, Paramal could be used in so many methods.
Would the ones in power shun away all of these other possibilities and focus only on using Paramal for bringing happiness to the people?
I am very doubtful about this.
People do not think like that.
My second doubt about the story was this.
How was it possible to fill the people with full of positive emotions?
At first, I thought this was a special characteristic of the island.
I thought that the natives of the AoAeo islands, who were the absolute majority of the island, must be so kind and generous that an atmosphere like this was formed.
However, according to Hyang, AoAeo was originally an uninhibited island. Most of the people here were immigrants.
In that case, when the Grand Paramal Festival was held for the first time, how could so many people possess positive emotions?
If that was not the case, the festival could never have developed into what it is today.
A human being treating others with goodness is not just a matter of the heart.
Also, it is not something that could be faked with lies.
Hyang’s story had holes.
Just like the truths behind embellished Aesop’s allegories, Hyan’s story probably has a darker side that’s intentionally and carefully hidden.
The dark side must be related to the secret behind Paramal and AoAeo island. At the same time, I also felt that it must be related to the target.
With such thoughts in my chest, I walked out to the street.
Today was the day for me to observe the street while sitting at the café. However, I thought that resolving my suspicions was more important.
I went out to the street, and many people welcomed me and greeted me kindly.
They were the people who I got to know through the past few days. Also, I was close with all of them.
I responded to the warmth that they gave me. I drank Paramal that they handed me as well while chatting with them. So, it created in a bit of delay.
I thought I should have the people be on their way. I thought I should excuse myself now.
The people didn’t try to hold me up there anymore.
They all felt that there is something I need to do.
Also, they were sympathetic toward me about that fact that I had something so important to do that I had to tend to it despite being in middle of this festival.
Instead of trying to hold me here, they wished that I would be able to complete my work well and return to the festival sooner.
I thanked their heartfelt kindness.
Even if it was for a little while, I suddenly wanted to chat with them.
In the end, even when the sun was about to go down, I was still drinking Paramal and talking to the people on the street.
By then, the suspicions I had inside felt ridiculous. I laughed at the mere idea of it.
I wonder why I cannot see the people and the world as beautiful as they really are?
It was not the world that was corrupted and slanted. It was myself.
The holes in Hyang’s story are just that she had to tie many stories she had heard from different people.
I thought of it that way.
I forgot about the fact that I had something I had to do besides talking to the people.
During that day, I drank a lot of Paramal.
I don’t remember how many glasses I had.
* * *
[Round 18, Day 13, 14:20]
I developed a worry lately.
It was the worry about clearing the 18th Floor Stage.
Last night, I had so much fun at the masquerade dance. While I was there, I realized something.
It was the fact that I was in a Tutorial stage.
I had been forgetful of this.
Once the month passes, the round was going to end.
After that, I was going to be teleported to the waiting room.
I cursed at the fact.
However, I could not change the natural order of this design.
So, I had to make a decision.
How long will I stay in this place?
I wish I could stay in AoAeo island forever. However, I knew I cou…..
Is that really the case?
Why couldn’t I stay in AoAeo island forever?
In fact, I could enjoy the Grand Paramal festival, which was actually held for only a month per year, forever, for the rest of my life.
I just needed to stay at the 18th Floor stage forever. That would solve everything.
From time to time in the middle, I will have to stay all alone for three days of waiting period. However, I could more than handle that.
Why should I escape from this heaven?
“Ho, what are you thinking about so hard?”
Hyang brought me pancakes for lunch. She asked me that.
I pondered about it for a moment and responded to her.
“I am not sure.”
What was I thinking so hard about until a moment ago?
Wasn’t it something pretty important?
“Ho, I thought you were thinking about the bet.”
What could she be talking about?
Having heard what I said, Hyang opened her eyes widely and said,
“Ho, by any chance, you didn’t hear about the bet?”
No. I have not.
It seemed Hyang was finding this amusing. She covered her mouth with her hand and laughed. She then asked me,
“Do you have any idea how many people are targeting you?”
Depending on the situation, this would send the chill down my spine.
If I heard this while being anywhere else, I would have intensified my mana immediately and prepared to fight off attacks.
However, AoAeo was not that kind of place. I wasn’t going to do that here.
It’s been 14 days since the Paramal festival started. Everyone had good feelings toward each other.
Because of that, I didn’t know.
“Who would target me?”
“Uh uh. It looks like you really don’t know about the bet. Do you have any idea how many customers ask me about you?”
“They ask you, Hyang? What is the bet? Why are they doing that?”
“It is a bet on who would seduce you first. Everyday, number of girls who are rejected by you are growing. So, the sum for the bet is growing bigger with it. Soon, it probably will become the largest bet among the women.”
Um… I really didn’t know such bet was happening.
That explains it. I wonder why there were so many girls who were trying to take me to secluded places.
Although it was unintentional, I had been acting like I was not interested in sex.
As of result, I ended up being even more popular. I felt awkward about this.
As the festival went on, people became more and more open.
I could even say that they were becoming disorderly.
Well, it is not a bad thing, so…
I heard from the Ching and Chun brothers that sex while in the state of having shared emotions from drinking Paramal was absolutely astonishing.
Perhaps this is the reason why. They said they had been having sex with women every night.
On top of this, they had been laying with different women every night.
I didn’t really want to do that.
I was already feeling the bliss at every moment. Instead of spending intimate, private time with women, I wanted to spend as much time as possible chatting with as many people as possible.
Maybe it is because of the loneliness I felt before coming here.
“Honestly, I bet a substantial amount of money on it too. So, you need to keep up your strength, even if it is for my sake.”
She said so in a tone that was like a mischievous friend. Hearing what she just said made me wonder about one thing.
Most people I was friends with knew Hyang.
Everyday, they had been sitting at her café and spending long time here. So, it was only obvious.
“Hyang, who did you bet on?”
Hyang smiled big and said,
That day, I really drank a lot of Paramal.
* * *
Feeling the cold rain drops fell on my face, I woke up.
Unlike the usual, I fell asleep on the roof. So, I didn’t have a roof over my head to cover myself from the rain.
I quickly brought out a tent from the inventory and entered.
I always thought this, but the portable tent is very useful.
I dried my hair with a towel and checked the time.
[Round 18, Day 17, 16:20]
Wow, this is crazy.
I went to sleep last night at 11 pm.
After that, I woke up at 4 pm.
If it was not for the rain, I would have slept longer.
I think this is the first time for me to be so lazy since the day I was ever born…
No, this is the first since Kiri Kiri used that strange magic on me.
It had not been long?
I ended up sleeping in so much because I had enjoyed excessive amount of Paramal bomb drinks that were mixed in with strong liquors.
It was so strong that even I, who had the great poison resistance, could not endure it.
Ever since I entered the Tutorial, I had thrown up before from being hit on the stomach or from dizziness. However, it was a first for me to throw up due to excessive drinking.
I broke the bar’s record and won in a drinking battle against six others. I remembered what happened yesterday.
Still, it was fun.
I was a mess, but there was fun from being like that.
Everyone at the bar all drank until they lost consciousness, so it was a sight to behold.
I also came up to the roof after losing my half my mind.
If that was not the case, then I would not have fallen asleep at the roof top.
Like that, I went over what happened last night, one thing at a time.
It was fun. I was happy.
As I went up through the memories, I thought about what my experiences on AoAeo.
Each and every one of thing that came up in my head were the kind that warmed my heart. They were happy memories. However, I did not feel comfortable inside.
How should I put it…
It was like the anxiety that came after playing around when I had a test coming up and I should have been studying instead.
To think I was feeling uncomfortable…
I thought it was strange that I was feeling melancholy and awkward instead.
So, I looked for reasons.
I had reasons.
It’s been 17 hours since my last drink of Paramal.
I violently vomited what I had inside.
I felt the cold rain.
So, the Paramal’s effect had faded.
Thanks to that, I think my head is running a little more objectively.
It is true that the life here was blissful. It is true that I had been struggling with loneliness. However, I must not be so complacent.
I went over and organized the things I had to do, one by one.
I already knew them.
However, I had not been doing them for the past few days despite the fact that I should have been.
I had been putting off and then some. In the end, I forget about them.
If I didn’t forget them, I tried hard to bury them by saying that they are not important.
This is the worst.
For the past few days, just what was I doing?
From inside the tent, I watched the pouring rain. I felt anxious. I was worried if something important inside me had been spilled already.