Historians of the <<Great Lands>> define an ‘awakened’ as ‘beings who have escaped the system’.
Whether it was because they are referred to with such unorthodox or not, awakened are generally not liked. It might have been because the majority of active awakened are known to be affiliated with the terrorist group [Fissure] too. By the by, the image of fissure normal people has are as follows:
-Fissure? They’re those guys who cause trouble going around.
But despite this general dislike, in the <<Great Lands>>, awakened receive unimaginably more riches for services than a normal adapter would. Their values were high because they were strong and unique.
The 12 Sovereigns were desperate in trying to recruit an awakened. Few of the times, the sovereign themselves was an awakened.
What passed between those sovereigns recently was the news that the Lord of Gorgon in Chaos was an awakened they so seek.
And that kind of person was going to direct a ‘special training’. That was why the Arks were excited.
“Yes. I’m going to make you into an awakened. But not all of you.”
“Because some of you don’t want to.”
Jae Hwan recalled the information he had shared with Chung Heo a few days ago regarding awakened.
-You’ve also gone through it, so you should know that for a normal being to completely ‘awaken’, they need to pass three stages.
The first stage was to destroy the world they have adapted to. This is called [dissolution] by other awakened, and it was the thing associated with [doubt] for Jae Hwan.
By breaking the biased view of one’s world, they could discover all the details that make up the world they lived in. When one reached this stage, they receive the eye that can see the ‘essence’ of the world: infinitely large amount of numbers and figures that make up the world – the fundamentals of this essence of the world they thought was material was uncovered.
That was the first stage, [dissolution].
Jae Hwan glanced at the Arks who were waiting for him and said,
“Most of you have lived too long to be able to awaken.”
Live too long?
Yun Yong asked,
“I don’t really understand what the lord means.”
“… I think he means that we are too deeply assimilated with this world’s system.” Ja Guk Lyung replied.
As befitting of her title ‘wise’, she could understand what Jae Hwan had said easily. But Yun Yong was still confused.
Ja Guk Lyung sighed and explained.
“He means that we have all been indulging in the skills and the stats provided by the system too long.”
“Ohh! So that’s what he means!”
“….. You did well to crawl up to your position with that thick head of yours.”
When she sent him a mildly disgusted gaze, Yun Yong laughed proudly and said,
“Hmm, hmm. Never mind the head, I’m actually an over-adapter.”
Over-adapters were adapters who could adapt to the system and the interface more easily than normal adapters. Praised as ‘blessed by the system’, these over-adapters climbed the order level faster than normal adapters would. It all depended on their individual talent, but normally it took between 10 to 100 times faster for them to reach the next order than normal. They were valued in the <<Great Lands>> like awakeneds, and most of the sovereigns were over-adapters.
“Dumbass. Who here is not an over-adapter?”
Kang Hwang hit Yun Yong. It was hard to become the Ark without being blessed by the system. They might not have the capacity to develop further, but they still had high potential for fast training.
“I’m not an over-adapter.”
Kaiman was an exception. Only he lacked the blessing all other Arks had gotten. Kaiman rose to the 7th order purely by his own effort.
“And lord,” Kaiman continued.
“Please take me under your tutelage.”
“You want to be an awakened?”
“It won’t be easy.”
“Is it because, as Jae Guk Lyung said, I have become too accustomed to using the system?”
“Then you have nothing to worry about.”
Chilling light spilled out from Kaiman’s eyes.
“To become stronger, throwing away the world I lived in is nothing.”
“North Sea! What are you saying?”
It was Ja Guk Lyung who screamed at him.
“Being an awakened means throwing away everything we have lived until now for. Are you willing to trash the stats and skills you have built?”
Her words did not stop Kaiman, but it did have an impact on the other Arks. They had undergone hardships, and have risked their lives fighting for the skills and the stats that would make them stronger. They could not easily demolish the thing they have built. It was akin to suicide.
“Yes, that is a little…..”
Kang Hwang mumbled. Yun Yong also seemed unwilling.
Jae Hwan thought so.
Awakening is an imperfect and unconfirmed transformation. They had no reason to derail from the certain, safe road and enter the uncharted land full of dangers. The Arks were too familiar and contented with their system to go on such an exploration.
Kaiman opened his mouth, looking at Ja Guk Lyung.
“Skill or not, I’m ready to throw everything away. All except for the hate I have for those sovereigns.”
A disgusting amount of contempt seeped out from him. Ja Guk Lyung flinched before continuing.
“….. It’s not just skills and stats. You should also realize that. Just how dangerous the thing you want is?”
“You will not claim you have forgotten the mass disappearance?”
Some Arks had question marks in their eyes. Jae Hwan was among that group.
“Mass disappearance? What is that?”
Yun Yong asked instead of Jae Hwan. His history was also falling because he was young.
Ja Guk Lyung started her story.
“My elders of course know, but there is a reason the title ‘awakened’ is met with such fear today.”
“?” Yun Yong said.
“…. It started with the emergence of [Fissure].”
This time, all the Arks knew. There was no adapter in the << Great Lands>> who did not know them. They are an overwhelming group made entirely of awakeneds.
“They suddenly emerged 700 years ago.”
<<Great Lands>> still remembered the day of their appearance with horror.
-We will fight against [cultivation].
With that proclamation, the terrorist group [Fissure] first pooped up. No need to say that they unearthed the wrath of the sovereigns. The one to react most violently at the time had been the 4th sovereign Maihalt. He had never been one to believe in the power of an awakened.
-Whatever those awakened are, I can kill them with my pinky finger.
The very next day his gasconade spread, Maihalt was found in his chamber with his severed pinky finger embedded into his heart.
That was when <<Great Lands>> learnt to fear [Fissure].
Although Maihalt, who was the 4th Sovereign, was the weakest sovereign, there has never been a group skilled enough to assassinate a sovereign in his chambers. And before the shock of the event had time to settle, [Fissure] made another announcement.
-Anyone can become an awakened. Come to the ‘Forgotten Lands’ if you wish to know the way.
Every being in the <<Great Lands>> was tempted. Especially after the death of Maihalt. The report propagated, and there started to arise adapters who were filled with the prospect of this power.
-Reject the world. [Fissure] had said.
Many adapters had congregated at the ‘Forgotten Lands’. Their numbers were over ten thousand, but the record of what happened after they gathered was not well known.
This is what was known to have happened: all those adapters disappeared.
Some say few of them have become an awakened, and some say they have become crazy, while some say all those adapters were used in cruel experiments by [Fissure]. Numerous rumors were active before the subject cooled off with the continued silence from [Fissure], but the missing people never came back, it is known.
This incident is referred to as the [mass disappearance].
“Some of my comrades from the <<Great Lands>> had also gone to the Forgotten Lands. There were even some who came back as a first stage awakened.”
Jae Hwan was also all ears for her story. He was interested by these other awakened; the only ones he knew were himself and Chung Heo.
Jae Hwan asked,
“What happened to them?”
“… They all killed themselves.” Ja Guk Lyung said.
“They were all facing serious mental disorder; madness, amnesia, paranoia, and etcetera. They all had different disorders but one symptom was corresponding between all of them.”
“What was it?”
“They all told us, ‘I don’t know who I am’.”
They did not know who they were?
Kang Hwang said,
“Not even knowing who they are, idiots!”
“Are you insulting my friends?” Jae Guk Lyung shot back.
“No, I’m just saying that because everyone is supposed to know who they are.”
Kang Hwang continued in a loud voice.
“I am the Ark of Fire Monarch, Kang Hwang Gua! Is this not an adequate introduction?”
Holy maid’s Ark shut her mouth. She was talking with an idiot. Only Jae Hwan was considering Kang Hwang with seriousness.
Ja Guk Lyung’s eyes flashed, looking at Jae Hwan..
‘Maybe this man knows what those words mean.’
“Ja Guk Lyung.”
Jae Hwan suddenly said.
She recoiled from his abrupt voice.
“I’ll assure you two things.”
“What do you…”
“First, I am not from [Fissure].”
Ja Guk Lyung slightly gaped her mouth.
‘Did he read my thoughts?’
She had wanted to find out about Jae Hwan’s origin subtly by talking about [Fissure]. When one heard of ‘awakened’ in the <<Great Lands>>, they first thought of [Fissure]. [Fissure] was too dangerous a group to be together with. Anyone involved will not only be targeted by the 12 sovereigns, but even [Big Brother], the entities that govern the system.
With Jae Hwan’s assertion, the Arks who had been slightly doubtful before, relaxed.
“And secondly, like you said, awakening implicates danger. That is why I don’t intend to forcefully make you into an awakened.”
“I will receive volunteers separately on the matters of awakening.”
He glanced at Kaiman from the corner of his eyes.
Ja Guk Lyung asked again.
“Then what are you going to do with the rest of us?”
“I will raise your orders.”
Ja Guk Lyung had a disappointed look in her eyes. She had expected a unique answer, but it was too mundane. And the plan had a glaring problem.
“In just a week?”
“That’s not possible.”
“I will assure you two things.”
She copied Jae Hwan. He squinted at her.
“Firstly, the timeframe you’ve chosen is improbable.”
Becoming a 6 or a 7th order adapter took hundreds of years. Raising an order could not occur in a week.
“If that is the problem, then I can resolve that.”
He was silent, his chin on his hand, before saying to the Arks,
They arrived in a vast plain at the edge of the Fortress. There was a giant round building located in the plains, and it looked like a trunk of a tree. Construction workers busily moved to and fro around the construction.
“This is a building made of gaksu horn.”
Said an Ark as he slid his hand along the surface. Only Chung Heo remained unimpressed; he had known that this was being built a week ago.
At that moment, one of the workers walked forth and extended his muscular arm at Jae Hwan.
“You’re here, lord.”
The Arks recognized him.
“Blacksmith of the night?”
“Why is the Twilight Shadow’s vice head…”
“Is it finished?” Jae Hwan asked Meikal, the vice head of <Twilight’s Shadow>.
“Almost. It was a bit rushed, but it works fine. It’s just that…”
“The pollution level is not safe.”
“That’s fine. We have horns.”
He looked at the building once more.
“Is it functional right now?”
“Then why don’t you show it to them?”
Meikal nodded and fiddled with a panel located outside the building. He looked deeply moved by his own construction.
“I never thought I’d make something like this in my life.”
“You never tried. You could have done it whenever you wanted.”
Meikal smiled faintly. And soon, with a queer sound, the building lit up and a message popped up in front of the Arks.
[Do you accept the summon?]
‘To see this message again in my life…’
When he accepted, the other Arks followed him, and found themselves inside the building. A strange feeling of déjà vu assaulted them. It was a vestige of a very old memory. It was resisting the chains of time that had bound them.
‘Do you remember this place’, the memory whispered.
How could they forget.
“Nightmare tower…!” someone whispered.
And a message followed.
[Welcome to the Nightmare tower Carpe Diem]