D.I.O

CH 17

“Interesting.
You messed up your college scholastic ability test on purpose just to feel less burdened,” said Eunhye.

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“What?” 

Yongno was surprised by her unexpected remark, but Eunhye just stared at him with her usual straight face. 

After a moment of silence, Eunhye shrugged, “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.
It’s actually none of my business.”

“Um, hold on, Eunhye, I scored poorly because I didn’t study hard enough…” said Yongno.

“It doesn’t matter whether you studied hard or not, does it?”

“What are you talking about…?” Yongno was bewildered.

But Eunhye gestured with her hand to stop talking.
She didn’t look interested in his excuse at all.
“I’m not here… because of the test results.
Although, there is some relevance to it.”

“Then, is there a reason you came here?” 

“Do I ever visit you without a reason?”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

Eunhye and Yongno lived at #301 and #302 respectively in the same apartment on the same floor.
Their units were only about three meters away from each other, but she would only visit two or three times a year when she had a reason to do so.
In fact, Eunhye was a busy bee; she never wasted her time. 

Pfft, I guess that’s how she maintains excellent grades and test scores even when she’s a national taekwondo player. 

Eunhye was not very talkative, but she had some short conversations with Yongno.
So, people often thought that the two were dating, but it was utterly unreasonable to Yongno since, in his eyes, Eunhye was more than just Ice Princess, but Ice Queen.

But she’s pretty though…

As a disciplined individual who did all sorts of exercise, Eunhye boasted a slim, toned, and gorgeous body with flawless skin.
She wasn’t unrealistically too beautiful like Mari, but her appearance was still close to that of celebrities or supermodels rather than an athlete.
If she won a medal in a national competition or in the Olympics, she would definitely receive a lot of attention from the media despite her reticent characteristics.

“What are you thinking about?” asked Eunhye.

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“Nothing, anyway, tell me why you’re here.
If it’s about the test scores… are you trying to introduce me to some cram schools?”

“No way.
Why would I do such a useless thing?”

Even if he was under academic pressure, Yongno had no will to study hard.
Besides, no matter how many famous private tutors tried to help him with effective test preparation, it was all a waste of their time. 

Eunhye visited Yongno for something else.
She said, “I came to ask you if you’re willing to get into archery again.”

“…”

Yongno’s face instantly stiffened, but he quickly found peace of mind.
He smiled and replied, “Come on, stop joking.”

“Do I look like I’m joking with you?”

“Of course not, but how could I take it seriously? Did you already forget how humiliated I was?” Yongno was slightly provoked.

However, Eunhye replied nonchalantly, “But you’re very talented.”

Yongno hated to hear that compliment the most.
People often praised how talented he was, but they eventually ended up blaming him in disappointment. 

Yongno warned, “Oh Eunhye, let me get it straight again…”

“I’m sorry.” Eunhye lowered her head. 

Yongno was perplexed by her quick apology.
“What…?” he murmured.

“I’m sorry.
It was just a slip of the tongue, but I hope you’ll reconsider.
You can do it as a hobby.
If you hate to shoot a bow, why don’t you swim then? You can start anything you want and end up winning a medal in the Olympics.”

“Win a medal in the Olympics?”

“If you compete, it’s definitely possible,” said Mari. If you swim, you need time to build up strength, so it’s better to be an archer again. But she left those words unspoken since she had been unusually talkative today.

Yongno smiled bewilderedly, “Haha, come on, you’re really overestimating me.” He waved his hand and tried to be overly chatty, but he broke out in a cold sweat at her determined look.
Still, he couldn’t accept her ridiculous suggestion.

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“…”

“…”

“…”

After a minute of silence, Eunhye got up from her seat.
She uttered, “Alright, I can’t force you anymore if you really hate it.”

“Awesome! Good decision,” Yongno replied excitedly, but he hesitated at her cold stare.
He asked stammeringly, “…
Why… are you scowling at me?”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are, you definitely scowled…”

“I’m leaving.” Then, she stood up and headed to the front door. 

Yongno was surprised to see her suddenly leave, so he got up from the chair after her, then something hit him on the head.
It was the ice cream stick.

“Thanks for the popsicle,” said Mari, then she left his house.

Yongno blankly stared at the closed front door, then heaved a sigh.
“I feel a little sorry for her.
It must have been hard for her to come here and talk about such a thing.”

However, there was no choice.
Yongno wasn’t sure if he could properly draw a bow now.
Even thinking about it made him suffocate. 

“Eh… hold on.”

Suddenly, Yongno realized that he had been swimming every day in D.I.O.
Previously, he couldn’t even swim at all. 

“Then, let’s experiment.
It’s been a while since I took a bath.”

Yongno quickly took off his clothes and turned on the tab.
It’s been a week since he last showered, so he thoroughly washed his body. After he was done taking a shower, he stood in front of the bathtub full of water to do an experiment. 

“…
Okay… now I’ll soak in the bath.
I’m not scared…” murmured Yongno, stepping into the tub.
He clenched his teeth, then took a deep breath.
The hot water felt cold on his legs, but thankfully, he wasn’t so afraid of it.

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Splash.

He entered the tub with his head up on the surface. 

“Whoa, it works! I can finally take a real bath, right?” Yongno smiled in joy.
Next, he attempted to put his head into the water for a dive.
Then…

Gurgle.

He nearly passed out.

SPLASH!

Yongno jumped out of the tub and slipped on the floor with a loud thud.
Regardless of the pain on his shoulders and ribs, Yongno gasped for breath, then shrieked, “I almost… almost… died! How could someone almost drown in his own bathtub?!!”

Then, he drained all the water from the tub annoyedly.
Meanwhile, all he could do was take a deep breath.
After repeating it for ten minutes, he could finally get out of shock. 

“Huff! Puff! D**n it! How could I drown in my bathtub when I could dive five hundred meters deep underwater in D.I.O.? Even if it’s the difference between reality and game, there’s still too much of a gap between it!”

Gasping, Yongno got up from the floor and put on his clothes.
It only took about half an hour to fill the tub with water and take a bath, but he was too exhausted now.

“Ugh, this is hard… Let’s just log in to D.I.O.
Since I have finished using the bathroom, eating, and taking a shower, I don’t think I have anything else left to do now,” he muttered.

Then, Yongno approached his computer and ran D.I.O.
He lay on his bed next to his computer desk and connected the earphone to the speaker. This game had a long playtime so he decided to lie down, instead of sitting on a chair. 

/In the beginning, I felt sorrow…/

Yongno turned off the monitor and wore the pair of earphones, then adjusted his sleep position. 

/For I had nothing that I desired…/

He pulled the blanket up to his chin.
It might look like he was trying to fall asleep while listening to music, but he was preparing for logging into the game. 

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/Still, I wish and hope…/

“Indeed, I’m being a real nerd, no, a real loser,” grumbled Yongno, closing his eyes.
Then, the voice from the earphone reached the climax of it.

/Here I am trying to create a new world…/

Yongno was now logged into the game.

/You shall be free here and now./

***Dangerous Zone***

It’s been seven days since Yongno started playing D.I.O., which was equivalent to approximately forty days in the game, but Yongno was still in the basic quest of ‘Transportation.’

He was currently a Level 1 user, the lowest rank in D.I.O.
In order to reach Level 2, he had to clear the fundamental mission.
However, he had high stats and considerable skills since he was a genius and had been playing the game for over forty days.        

Yongno trained his swimming skills up to Rank 2, but he didn’t gain any new special abilities.
After users increased their certain skill, they could only gain special ability and title when they reached the rank of odd numbers such as Rank 7, Rank 5, Rank 3, and Rank 1 or earned the Master Rank, which the users called Rank A, also known as the ‘letter rank.’ However, the users’ current special abilities could continue progressing.
In the case of Yongno, he could dive semi-permanently with a single breath of air. 

His next highest skill after Swimming was Enhanced Eyesight, which had just reached Rank 3.
Yongno could earn the title of ‘Hawk's Eye’ and See-Through Ability from it, but he didn’t feel so happy with them.
The title of Hawk’s Eye wasn’t that bad, but to Yongno, the title of Master-Level Swimmer was better since it reduced the consumption rate of stamina by 40% during diving.
Besides, the See-Through Ability was also useless when diving underwater. 

He tried to experiment with it to check if he could see through Mari’s clothes, but it didn’t work.
Perhaps, she was defending herself with some magical power. 

If I can’t see through objects with this ability, where should I use it?

On the other hand, Night Vision Eyes and Aura Vision were very useful.
Yongno could see all the details of the terrain under the pitch-black deep sea by optimizing Night Vision Eyes.
When utilizing Aura Vision, he could read the aura of living creatures so he could easily find and hunt fish and clams hiding behind the rocks and sea plants.

His major ammunition was currently the Great Strength Vajra Hand that he learned from Mari.
It had an overwhelming force.
Plus, ever since Yongno opened the first realm of the Gold Core Immortal Technique, he doubled the power of Hand Skill and used relatively less internal martial arts to perform a strong attack. 

And as he kept operating the Great Strength Vajra Hand, his Hand Skill went higher, which was close to the mastery level of Rank 4.
As a result, Yongno earned a special ability of Emanation and Condensation.
The former skill raised the output of the Hand Skill, and the latter instantly slowed down the internal force to amplify its power.

Yongno seldom used the Hand Skill.
In order to protect the beginner-level users in the basic quest, the system of D.I.O.
replaced all the monsters with non-aggressive ones who didn’t kill the users on sight.
Thus, Yongno couldn’t ‘battle’ with them by performing the Hand Skill at all. 

However, users couldn’t achieve a higher level by simply using the skill frequently.
They had to level up in D.I.O.
through tests and be capable of upgrading their rank of skills.

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