Vulcan asked with a dumbfounded face.
“Isn't it the manager’s responsibility to send people from Act 1 to Act 2?”
“That’s not the case. In other cities, the managers usually do just enough to maintain order and help new arrivals adjust to the place. After all, this is a place that’s hard for most people to even imagine.”
“In that case, Mr. Filder, why are you making such a proposition? Actually, not just you, but everyone seems to want me to clear Act 2.”
“You can think of that as me having some personal ambition.”
“Instead of beating around the bushes, please answer me properly.”
“Um… This could sound quite out of the blue.”
Instead of saying something, Vulcan steadily stared at Filder. Filder stared back at Vulcan with a smile as always. Filder explained the main point.
“We want to see someone who was born a human to rise up to the godhood.”
Vulcan could not understand Filder’s words.
Actually, it felt like it was more accurate to say it was not making him interested.
“That is, how could a human being become a god?”
“Why would that be impossible? Ah, it is true that no human being ever became one. However, if it is you, Mr. Vulcan, it should be very possible.”
“This is such a nonsense…”
“Kulkul. Why is it nonsense? Clearing Act 1 alone would be proving the strength rivaling that of demi-gods or enlightened beings. You are the rascal with the power to go straight to the enlightened world this instant if you wanted. So, to see that you are still living the life of an ordinary man…”
“Clearing Act 2 is an accomplishment that’s far beyond comparison to clearing just Act 1. Once you clear Act 2, you will earn the right to be a god, and it’s possible for you to officially have your place amongst gods. Kulhulhul.”
Vulcan didn’t say a word.
He couldn’t think of anything to say.
To begin with, Vulcan had no interest in things like enlightened beings or the enlightened world. It was obvious why telling him about the title of being a god invoked no interest from him either.
Vulcan was still showing a disinterested face, but Filder continued.
Vulcan looked like a guy who just answered a telemarketer’s call and was too nice of a man to just hang up. Instead, with a blank face, Vulcan listened to the story.
“I’m sure you already have guessed, but us Six were like you once. I was a single-minded man who obsessed over getting stronger and saw no value in anything else. I panicked when I first came to Asgard, but I had enough confidence in myself. Unlike residents of Act 1 who fell into despair or settle to live in this place, my talent never ran out like a spring that never went dry.”
“Before we faced Act 2, we believed we could grow stronger without limits, powerful enough to face gods or demon lords.”
Having said this far, Filder took a sip from the tea.
He still had a smile on his face as always, but somehow, sadness could be felt from him.
“However, it was just a delusion. We had to face the reality eventually. We were painfully reminded that we were just humans after all like all others. Some people faced this fact in the lower dimensions, and some came to terms with in Act 1. To human beings, clearing Act 2 was like a door that was smaller than a needle hole.”
The beer that Vulcan brought out from the inventory had lost its carbonation, but Vulcan didn’t touch it.
Before he realized, Vulcan was engaged in Filder’s explanation. Vulcan pulled his chair closer.
“In the beginning, we gave it our all to polish and sharpen our abilities. Later on, we still did so out of habit with our minds emptied of thoughts. It was a very long time to endure, so long that it would have been impossible to live through while agonizing over the difficulties. A thousand years passed… and when another thousand years passed… when I no longer believed in useless thoughts, like I might be able to get through if we managed to take one more step further, I acknowledged it finally.”
With a dry gaze, Filder looked at Vulcan.
“I came to accept the fact that this is as far as I will be allowed to go.”
For a moment, he kept silent.
Vulcan was also engulfed in the serious atmosphere and fell into deep, hollow thoughts with a serious face.
Ever since he arrived at Asgard, Vulcan have heard so many of these laments and regrets from people.
He didn’t criticize them for faulting their talents, but he never tried sympathizing or consoling them either. It was because there were too many of them to care for and express empathy toward in an individual basis.
However, it felt different to hear it from Filder, the one who reached the height that nobody else have in Beloong City. Because of this, although it may have been the same story, but the weight and significance of his words were different.
Without any fluctuations on his tone of voice, in a dry voice, Filder was letting it all out.
Vulcan could not even begin to fathom all of despair and anguish contained within his story.
“Kulkulkul. Still, Filder is powerful enough to touch the wall at least. As for the rest of us including myself, we can’t even feel like we deserve to say that we wish we could…”
It was Beruneru that broke the silence.
It was difficult to believe a proud grand mage such as Beruneru just said such humble words, but Vulcan didn’t question it.
Instead, he asked what he was curious about since a while ago.
“This is something I was curious about since a while ago. I understand what you are saying, but then who are these beings that clears Act 2? Mr. Filder, elder Beruneru and others here with us… They all gave up on clearing Act 2, so just who… Now that I think about it, how did you come back to Act 1 from Act 2?”
“This rascal’s habit is acting up again. Fine, we will explain things starting with your first question. Kulhulhul.”
After scolding Vulcan for pouring out multiple questions at once, Beruneru started to explain.
Beloong City was one of ten starter cities in Asgard’s Act 1. In Beloong City, hardly anyone from other species could be seen, but it was different with other cities.
Because of large human population in other worlds, human beings also made up the majority of the population in Act 1. Still, there were quite many of other species scattered about the Asgard. Also, when it came to the fraction of the population of each species that went to the Act 2, these other species had substantially higher fractions in comparison to human beings.
The difference in abilities came from the difference in species.
While countless number of people fell into despair in Act 1, demi-gods and higher beings went to Act 2 with high probabilities of success. Watching them made humans feel deprived.
Also, even The Six, the best and the most powerful in Beloong City, were not free from this limitation.
The Act 3 was a place that no human being had ever set foot on.
There was a wall that even Filder and Beruneru, the greatest talents the human race had to offer, could not reach.
However, the wall wasn’t so high that even other species could not overcome.
“Well, I’m not at Filder’s level, but I worked pretty hard at it as well. I would be counted as one of the few that tried hardest among all humans. Still… I was not able to match the abilities of those with lineage of god's… Kulkul.”
Beruneru said it as if didn’t bother him, but his voice was tainted with a sense of defeat that could not be hidden.
‘To think that one must have not just talent but also the right lineage to barely clear it… This is just too cruel.’
Vulcan thought Beruneru looked even older than usual. Vulcan said,
“If that’s the case, you came back to Act 1 because…”
“We gave up on our hopeless dreams. Instead, we obtained a new one.”
Beruneru scratched his back with his rod and continued.
“Just like how we are, when there is someone not showing any progress despite pouring in wholehearted efforts and all of one’s time, there is a being that quietly comes to visit.”
“And who is that?”
“The Act 2’s manager.”
Vulcan gave a blank stare at Beruneru for a moment, but he regained his senses after looking at [Act 1 Manager Beruneru] floating on top of Beruneru.
‘It’s not like there’s a rule that says Act 2 can’t have one.’
“I see. Just like how all of you are trying to send me to Act 2, did this manager give a proposition to you as well?”
“That’s right. Your head is spinning for once. Kulhulhul. The Act 2’s manager promised us to give us clues on obtaining godhood for ten-thousand years of service as Act 1’s manager.”
“What? Does it seem like a long time to you? I can see how you would think that. You would be beating Act 1 in less than ten years, so from your perspective, our choices may look foolish.”
“No. I didn’t mean it that way.”
Watching Vulcan hurriedly explaining himself, Beruneru laughed and continued.
“Anyway, all of us, myself included, came to this place through that process. We are limited on things we are allowed to do, and there are a lot of bothersome things to do as well, but this is far better than the time in Act 2 where we roamed around hopelessly like ghosts. Also, in this place, there is a small task that we enjoy the most, so it is quite all right to be here.”
“Right. It’s quite all right here. Watching you and Dokgo Hoo, especially how you are at this very moment, I can definitely see why Filder and Beruneru said you are the only one that can do it.”
Heywood, the bearded man, suddenly joined the conversation.
“Although we gave up, we wanted to prove that a human being could also make it. To gods and other species, we wanted to show a human being achieving the godhood and clearing Act 2.”
“Even if that’s just a pathetic vicarious satisfaction.”
Heywood’s eyes were burning up.
Feeling uncomfortable because of heywood’s gaze, Vulcan quietly turned his head toward the back.
“When I first came to Beloong City, I thought I was the only one that thought about such things, but it turns out that was not the case. I asked the other five that arrived before I have. I asked why they choose Beloong City when there are ten cities to choose from. What do you think was the reason?”
Vulcan didn’t answer. As if Heywood was not expecting one, he continued right away.
“Beloong City is the only one that is made almost entirely of humans. They all came here with the goal of raising a human pupil to have the pupil achieve the godhood. Haha! It’s funny, don’t you think? They gave up on Act 2 like a dog that lost the fight, but here they are trying to impose their dreams on other humans. It’s a ridiculous idea.”
Agitated, Heywood paused for a moment. With a little calmer voice, he added,
“I know this is ridiculous and meaningless. However… It’s also true that we want to see one. We humans are ordinary beings. We don’t have god’s blood flowing in our veins. We are not blessed from birth like some species either. We want to see a human being, an ordinary existence, achieving godhood.”
Vulcan couldn’t say anything.
It wasn’t that he had nothing to say.
Their proposition had nothing to do with Vulcan’s situation. If he wanted to consider it as just a nonsense, he certainly could.
It appeared Vulcan had no need to worry about being pushed to do as they say by force.
He was not sure of the full extent of the limitations that The Six spoke of, but he have never seen The Six using excessive force on anything besides providing the residents with help and maintaining order.
“We know that you don’t like our proposition. It’s not like it has a great noble cause that anyone would sympathize with. We are asking you just to fulfill our ambitions. Also, you are barely 30 years old. The way you think is probably completely different from old monsters that enjoyed all sorts of luxuries and pleasures that the lower dimensions had to offer.”
“This is why we think asking you to do this is quite an intrusion. Still, we can’t just sit back and not ask you either. You have the greatest potential among all humans… no, among all species.”
Unlike his usual self, Filder looked at Vulcan with burning eyes. Filder slowly started to talk again.
“For our sake… Could you please challenge Act 2?”
Vulcan closed his eyes.
It was not hard for Vulcan to understand how they were feeling.
They gave up on going to the enlightened world and chose to go to Act 2 instead to train. Although he won’t know the full extent of it, it was certain that their obsession toward becoming stronger was beyond anyone’s imagination.
Vulcan figured this must also mean that their sense of loss must be also beyond his imagination. It was no wonder why they wanted to satisfy their ambition even if it was through a vicarious mean.
‘Still, this has nothing to do with me.’
Back when Vulcan was just around the age where he should be enjoying his life, he was dragged to a strange world, and he had been living blood-splatting lifestyle for ten years.
As Filder said, it wasn’t like Vulcan was a bored old existence that experienced all of the pleasures and good things that life had to offer. Vulcan could not afford to waste any more time on battles.
Actually, there was no reason for him to feel sorry about. Also, there was no reason for him to think so carefully before making a decision either.
However, it was difficult for Vulcan to say anything to them because he felt the tremendous weight of their sense of defeat.
An uncomfortable silence painted the scene again. On behalf of The Six, Filder spoke again.
Buy us some coffee!