What kind of mission is this? Keen asks himself as the Adjudicator turns away from him. His passive skill activates upon meeting the requirement that his target cannot see him with bare eyes.

[ Mission: Consume the Adjudicator ]

[ Time Limit: 1 min. ]

At that moment, time dilates in his perception. It is evident in the slow progress of the countdown timer projected near his right shoulder, with the mission title above it.

Keen realizes the number of factors he needs to consider. Although the Adjudicators bare eyes are away from his direction, it is uncertain whether the glass room produces reflections and if his target cannot see his actions while inside the confined space. He considers the premise that the room itself is one of the Adjudicators abilities.

Another uncertainty is whether the enemy has sensory skills that will allow evasion. Keen has also not tried yet how much his stats compare to actual execution. The greatest hurdle so far is not knowing the ability of his enemy.

I cannot know unless I try. Keen prepares for his active skill . The nominal value of his strength is much lower than the agility, intelligence and instinct. The element of surprise is his greatest asset for the attack.

Keen is still unable to discern whether a quick stride in the opponents direction will produce sound of any sort, regardless of how fast the action is done. Utmost caution must be observed, as there are no available healing potions or equipment in his inventory. If he fails, there are only two possible outcomes: the Adjudicator will be able to escape or he will end up in a one-sided battle against a strong enemy. In other words, he will have a higher probability of not recovering his missing memories.

With many concerning thoughts, he decides to make soundless and careful steps towards the back of his target, who barely moved from its position.

Upon using , he outstretches one hand to the Adjudicators chest in a quick piercing motion and absorbs all life essence from it: HP and memories. Time dilation retracts and returns to regular speed. The Adjudicator falls to the base of the transparent room with a hole in his chest directly where the heart should have been. The hourglass rolled over a few times with the timer still ongoing.

He hears the systems announcement and sees the validation display over his shoulder.

[ Mission: Consume the Adjudicator successful ]

[ Remaining time: 55 seconds ]

”What? ” Keen exclaims in disbelief. ”It only took five seconds? ”

The Adjudicator starts to disintegrate into pixels, leaving behind some item loots.

[ Item: Scarlet robe (reconfiguration available) +5 magical defense; +3 Luck; +4 Magic (earth); +3 Magic (Fire) ]

[ Item: Leather gauntlet +3 Agility; +2 Instinct ]

[ Item: Grave Boots +4 Agility; +2 Magic (earth); +3 Magic (necromancy); +2 Instinct ]

[ Item: Eye of the Adjudicator +4 Intelligence; +4 Charisma; +1 Instinct ]

[ Item: Hourglass ]

He takes the items into his inventory with a grasping motion of one hand and switches to his character page. He gulps in the jump of his character to level 10.

”I leveled up this much in defeating such an easy enemy? Is this game actually so easy? ” Keen cannot hide his sudden confidence.

All his stats have gone up proportionally with his level. However, the experience points necessary to level up also went up to 280 from its initial value of 100.

Only upon seeing the new Memory value of 1900 does Keen finally realize a collection of memories forced into his own. It belongs to the Adjudicator. His name is Jun. He is another human, not just a non-player character or NPC, and is an employee of the game developer. His girlfriend is also part of the team and they had an argument before Jun logged in to the game to meet Keen. He also acquired Juns memories since childhood.

No significant information tells him the location of his missing memory fragments. However, there is something that sparks terror in him. Jun is working in the Black Market.

”Crap, ” Keen massages his temples. ”The Black Market? How did I end up playing a game supervised by the Black Market? But that would explain why the games main essence is playing around peoples memories. ”

Obviously, the memory Keen gained is not his. He knows for sure that he is only eighteen years old and is currently in college by this month, which is August of 2051. Jun is over 28 years old by now.

”How can I get rid of this memory? This is not mine. ” He looks at the place where Juns body disintegrated earlier. According to the Adjudicators memories, once all memories are depleted while inside Esprit, the person actually dies in real life.

Although he must feel remorse for having killed a human, having access to Juns memories filled with bloodshed makes him adamant that the person deserved this fate. He was already messed up since his birth. He even killed his own family.

”I need to get this memory off me before I become as messed up as that guy. ”

The glass room begins cracking from all sides.

A dark figure falls from the cloudy sky at an immense speed, only to stop the momentum at the last second. The impact with the ground produces sharp gusts of wind reaching a hundred meters but no crater. Instead, only a mist of dust hides whatever humanoid creature bears those two glimmering scarlet eyes.

Everyone in the town stops for a while to await the revelation of the newcomers identity. No one has ever appeared that way in this place. At least, as far as their current memories remember.

When the dust finally settles, the onlookers see nothing. The humanoid figure. The pair of ominous, scarlet eyes. All gone.

Keen finally arrives in Topsy Town, the starting point for his memory-recovering mission. He can feel both anxiety and anger. There is definitely something amiss in his memory because a sharp pain occurs in his brain whenever he tries to rummage through the emptied pages of his mind. However, his body is shaking in anger with the knowledge he gained from Jun.

This is not a game. He clenches a fist.

He walks around the town wearing the scarlet burnoose he tailored as a hooded long coat, along with the gauntlet and boots he acquired from the Adjudicator. Having an ability class that specializes in the darkness, Keen is unable to ascertain his position under the broad daylight of Topsy Town. If not for his protective clothing, he may have already turned into a steaming meat by now. Or maybe not. That is an experiment he cannot take.

The Guild Hall stands tall at the center of town around ten storeys high, with a plaza filled with people surrounding it. The markets are placed on the east while the adventurers lodgings, townsfolk and farmlands are on the west side. The house of noble family NPCs are in the south, while the north is reserved for the local military. The main gates are only located at the north, with an emergency underground passage existing in the south. High walls measuring 50 meters surround the entire town.

The houses are built with wood and cement. Electricity only exists in Esprit as magic, not as an economic energy source.

As he continues his scouting, one particular subtlety Keen notices is the presence of a mob of people at a dark alley between the nobles houses in the south. Their eyes are reddish and skin pale with throbbing veins.

Esprit doesn allow the people transferred here like Keen to easily distinguish other peoples ability class so he needs to carefully examine them through their gear and equipment. That being so, the mob consists of many melee fighters with either hatchets, axe, sabers, long blades, and spear. However, there are also long range fighters with mage staff, crossbows, and even familiars.

Keen looks near his right shoulder, but find no prompts from the system to engage in battle. He is ready to ignore the mob and proceed outside town to start defeating monsters and beasts to acquire Release, but reverses his decision instantly when he hears a womans scream in the middle of the group.

Putting his new gear and a newly unlocked skill called , he plunges into battle.

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