”Again? ” Vance lay in bed. And looked up at the ceiling that was unfamiliar to him. ”No, not again…. This place is…. ” Vance frowned. He had no idea where he was. But the same familiar hud was visible, which indicated he was in Alantina Online, a game that was all the rage. He was the top sword mage who had hit the demi god realm, but now…. Looking at his level in the upper right corner and the fact that his given name was ever so present just above the health bar made Vance frown even more.

”How am I level 1? And why is my name in my hud instead of my player name, Slayer Bastard? ” Vance sat up and looked around. From what he could tell, he was laying in a bed with a mattress made of straw in a rustic wooden room. These kinds of beds and walls could be found in poor villages throughout all of Alantina Online. He held his head, feeling a bit of a headache coming on. The last thing he remembered was doing his best to solo the last boss of the game, the High Goddess Saris.

He had died so many times he had lost count. But he, as the greatest sword mage, was determined. He wanted to show the world that it was possible to solo the entire game if you were a god like him. But sadly, he never reached the god realm. He had not found the last item needed for his evolution. Alantina was a game based on evolution. One started off as a mortal and then slowly raised through the ranks.

Leveling up by completing quests and killing monsters, or so most people thought. In truth, to become the most powerful player, you needed to be lucky. There were certain items in the game that would boost players stats, allowing them to level up quicker. As long as your stats were higher than the monsters you were fighting, you could easily level up quickly without issue by fighting even higher-level monsters. But even without too much of a hard grind, there was still one hurdle that everyone had to overcome when they reached a certain point in leveling.

And that was the moment of evolution. In order to evolve, one needed certain items to evolve. Without these items, you would not be able to advance any further. The item he needed to become a god just so happened to be rumored to drop from the High Goddess herself. So other than fame, he had also wanted to get the item without needing to roll for it. But every time he faced the High Goddess, he was instantly wiped out. He had spent an entire week trying to figure out a way to do it, but….. Without a raid of at least a thousand people, it really seemed impossible, even if his stats were all god like, to begin with.

He had spent so many years searching for stat boosts and soloing things that he had made a name for himself. But now…. ”Why the hell am I level 1!? ”

”Vance, if you are awake, get your ass out here and help with the firewood! ” A voice came from outside the door to the room he was in. Vance raised an eyebrow but ignored the voice and opened up his settings menu instead. ”Hmmm…. Where is the logout button? ”

It was not just the logout button that was missing, but all the settings for the sleep timer and other alerts to wake a player up from deep dive mode were missing. He had an inventory, basic stats window, and equipment screen that he could access as well as the skills menu, but there was no player interaction except for the team window…. Vance began to wonder if he was dreaming. He did not understand any of this. He looked up at the clock on the side that showed the in game time as well as real world time, and he froze. ”Why is the date here six days before the release of the game? ”

”No, more importantly, how the hell do I logout!? ” Vance started to panic. He had rent to pay. If he did not go to work, how was he going to keep playing games in his free time? But now…. He reached over and pinched his arm. ”Shit, ouch! This pain…. ”

This was real pain, not pain one would receive if they were playing the game which was dulled by hundreds of times, but this was true pain, something that he would only feel in the real world. He looked at his inventory to see a starter knife and five health potions. He took the knife out and equipped it. He had looked at the knife and felt the weight in his hands, and then he looked at his arm. He raised the knife and was about to stab it down when the door to the room burst open, and a plump woman walked in and screamed: ”Vance, what are you doing!? Put that knife down right now! ”


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