After logging into DIO, Merlin saw a familiar face. There, with her white hair, was a tall, slim, and young-looking girl. It was the guide who welcomed every user, Marionette Hold.
“Ah, Mari. Good timing. That symbol you stamped on my forehead-”
“Wait! Wait! Since you recognize me, youre probably a beta-tester.”
Mari raised her right hand and stopped Merlin from approaching any closer. From the speed of her reaction, it seemed that this was preprogrammed.
“If you recognize who I am, dont you remember me?”
“Im sorry, but I wasnt given the information that was gathered during the beta test. Im essentially a new NPC guide. However, if youve interacted with them before, the main servers NPCs will still recall you.”
“So, you dont remember me….”
Merlin groaned. While he knew that he was in virtual reality, Merlin couldnt help but feel surprised that someone hed been around for a better part of a month couldnt recognize him.
“Yet, since youre a beta tester, you can skip the Level 2 test. Would you like to take this option?”
“Yes, Ill skip it. I dont want to be bothered.”
/You have reached Level 2!/
/Your authorization level for items has increased!/
/Your ability capacity has increased by 100 points!/
In an instant, he skipped the extensive amount of time that hed initially spent on the Level 2 exam. Of course, since he didnt complete all the subtests within the exam, Merlin couldnt gain the experience points or drops from them either. However, Merlin already had a considerable number of items and gold in his inventory, so he wasnt concerned.
“Alright, so thats it for the initial tests and missions. All thats left is the prologue before you can enter the world of DIO.”
Merlin was confused at the unexpected new requirement, but Mari soon answered.
“In essence, it describes the worldview of DIO. Theres a recorded video that you can watch or an overview that I provide. Which would you like to choose?”
“Whats the difference?”
“The prerecorded video has many examples similar to reality, whereas my overview is more descriptive.”
“Then I want you to give me an overview. Theres no reason I should make this game any more difficult.”
“Alright. Ill start now.”
With that, Mari snapped her fingers. Immediately, the surroundings became dark, and a few sparkles of light floated in the air.
Merlin saw a vast blue planet before him. He hadnt seen this in person, but hed looked at images of it on television and in other games. When he saw this generic introductory image being used for the start of the prologue, Merlin chuckled.
“Hey, so were starting from outer space?”
“Yes. Were extremely close to the planet that you call Earth.”
Though her words made sense, Merlin couldnt help but tilt his head in confusion.
“You said you were going to explain DIOs worldview, but why have you brought me all the way out here?”
“DIOs worldview is quite expansive and large-scaled.”
As she spoke, the scenery changed, but not by too much. They were still in space. Yet, there was no Earth or sun that Merlin was familiar with. It was an entirely new planetary system filled with unrecognizable planets. Moreover, something incredible was unfolding.
A massive monster roared. Yes, a monster. The monster looked like an insect, and it caused the planets to move chaotically as its powerful roar rippled through space.
“W-whats with the size of that monster?”
The monster was astronomically enormous, and beside it was a planet around the same size as Jupiter, but it looked like the monster was bigger. Based on its appearance, the monster seemed to be a living organism, but how could it be so massive?
The monster flapped its fly-like wings, causing the nearby planets to be pushed away or violently collide with each.
It wasnt attacking the planets. It was wreaking havoc just by existing here, but nearby, another group of astronomically giant beings was gathered.
Equidistant between the two was a bright, gleaming light, and at its center was a winged man with blue hair. Like the gathered monsters, the man was surrounded by many of his kind: angels.
Merlin wasnt aware of this, but the blue-haired man was a Guardian Archangel named Raphael. Additionally, the colossal monster with wings was the Void Demon King, Beelzebub.
“About 400 years ago, there was a monumental war which erupted between the universes living organisms and the beings that did not possess names, also referred to as the Unnamed. Their clash soon extended to encompass the wars between the angels and demons, transcended versus non-transcended, and the living versus the dead.”
When the shining light from the Archangel met the Void Demons black clouds, the environment suddenly changed. This time, they werent in space; they were on a plain somewhere in the universe. Here, a bird could be seen, with one of its wings spanning at least a full kilometer. The bird was surrounded by about a hundred dragons that were attacking it.
After being nicked by the birds three gigantic legs, a dragon let out a Dragons Breath that instantly destroyed an entire mountain. This dragon had five heads, and the aura it exuded was far more potent than the red dragon, Ignizs. The five-headed dragon was an Ancient-rank, which made it an ancient dragon. Moreover, there were about a hundred of these ancient dragons gathered together. It was an unbelievable sight.
The surroundings changed once more, and Merlin was in space again. This time, though, they had moved back, and he could now see a distant galaxy.
[Lets move. This entire dimension has already been ruined.]
The speaker was a scowling young man with yellowish-green hair. He was well-built and had a rugged look about him, although he didnt emanate a powerful aura. If the young man was standing on solid ground rather than floating in the middle of space, Merlin might have mistaken him for an average human.
[How regrettable. Do you know whatEvil God represents?]
There was a mysteriousthing standing opposite the young man. Though it wasnt quite invisible, Merlin couldnt quite make out its form.
[This is your last warning. Immediately-]
[I knew it~ Knew it~ Knew it~ you guys have lost your minds. For beings like me who have transcended worldly things, infatuations and obsessiveness are like barriers. I ask you once more, Martial God, do you still adore and love mortals?]
[Ah, wait, youre not planning to…]
At that moment, an evil aura arising from some unknown source started spreading before colliding with the young mans formidable aura. Of course, Merlin wasnt affected by this clash, as he was merely watching a video of the encounter, but he couldnt stop himself from gasping in surprise.
Within Merlins view, the entire galaxy started being affected by the conflict. There wasnt any explosive sound or visual cue, but the numerous stars moving chaotically and colliding against each other was a sight to behold. It was absurd that two beings were able to cause such widespread destruction and affect an entire galaxy like this. How was it possible?
“This is going way too far. Will I ever have to face an enemy like that?”
“Of course, theyre out there. Those two are Absolute Gods. In DIOs worldview, Grand Masters are only Level 20, but there are monstrous beings like the ones you see in this video that are Level 50 and beyond. We only wanted to showcase their existence in this video to let everyone know that theyexist.”
Once she finished her explanation, the setting changed again, and Merlin now found himself within an ancient temple of sorts. As she continued speaking, Mari guided Merlin through the temple.
“The aftermath and fallout of the battle were far-reaching. Furthermore, similar conflicts to the one you just saw were occurring in many places simultaneously, so no singular entity could appear and stop them from happening. There were innumerable Demon Kings, Archangels, and gods that lost their lives in the war. Since so many great beings had fallen, you can imagine how lesser beings fared much, much worse.”
“Do you mean to say that the entire universe was pushed to the brink of extinction?”
“Im not sure if the entire universe was pushed to the brink of extinction, but I guess you can say that the destruction and chaos sure made it seem that way. Your Earth, along with 40 others like it, was destroyed. Of course, everything was recovered and recreated in less than a day, so their brief disappearance wasnt felt… anyway.”
Seeing how Mari spoke of such matters with a disinterested expression, Merlin couldnt help but look exasperated.
“… Like the Earth I live in… there are 40 others like it?”
“This is a worldview setting for DIO. However, we try to include what happened in reality as much as possible.”
Merlin felt that Maris choice of words and their connotation were a little weird, but he decided not to push her on it.
“Alright, were here.”
“Whats this place?”
It was a type of temple. At its center was a five-meter-tall statue of a goddess, which radiated a warm light.
“Anyway, this is the background and worldview of DIO. Due to the war that occurred 400 years ago, the beings of the physical world used the four dimensions instability and widespread destruction as an opportunity to create a joint group, which they named the [Union].”
“Like a joint front, right? A joint frontline?”
“Similar. In the end, by creating the Union, the physical worlds beings could contend with and push back the beings of the other worlds, like those from the Godly world, Heavenly world, Demon world, Spirit world, and the Nether world. The physical world was affected by the war, but so were all the others, so the Union was able to come to the table as equals with representatives from the other worlds and start a discussion.”
“A momentary peace, and, though it was only in a rudimentary form, a basic set of rules were created. While everything wasnt resolved, the war had essentially ended.”
After finishing her explanation, Mari looked up at the statue of a goddess. The light around the statue started growing brighter and brighter until…
Merlin felt like he had a similar interaction with Mari before, and a blue pattern design suddenly formed on the back of his left hand, displaying a circle with wings.
“Anyway, it seemed as though peace had been established, but then, a growing number of beings started to break the pre-established rules.”
“If they break the rules, theyll face some sort of punishment, right?”
“The rules werent established in a thorough, complete manner, so gods who were stronger than the mid-rank or large-scale battle organizations werent effectively punished. Moreover, the universe is extremely vast and expansive. There were bound to be rule breakers that acted in secret.”
In other words, Mari was stating that the universe seemed peaceful, but there was considerable trouble brewing underneath that façade.
“So, what does all this have to do with me?”
“Its more connected to DIO than it is to you. The overall goal of this game is something along the lines of, [The universe is at a standstill. However, there are many weak and powerless beings who are suffering in their own corners of the universe because of evil. Souls from another world, protect the universe as it falls back into chaos.] Oh, just so you know, in the general prologue video, the overall goal tagline is verbalized from this goddess statues mouth.”
Merlin nodded as if he finally understood something.
“Youre saying that thesouls from another world are users, right?”
“Yes. Well, the technical term isPassenger. You know, like a traveler. And-”
“Alright, I get it. Lets stop here.”
When Maris eyes widened and seemed to be filled with question marks, Merlin said, “If youve covered all the important parts, let me play the game. Cant I start now?”
“Hmm… well, I guess it doesnt matter. From this point forward, Im supposed to go over the gameplay and other system functions and descriptions, but since you were a beta tester, I can probably skip all that.”
When Merlin nodded, he didnt know that he was missing his last chance to hear about the systems bonus point structure. And when she saw this, Mari flicked her fingers.
A door suddenly formed from thin air. Yet, Merlin had seen this many times during his beta test, so he was no longer surprised.
“Be well. Thanks for the explanations.”
“Have a good time gaming.”
Merlin walked through the door without hesitation, and once it shut behind him, the world started to crumble and disappear, with Mari still inside.
“Hmm, why dont I have any data on that guy?”
Mari had lied when she said that she hadnt received the users closed beta testing data. She knew all the information and data that was collected, but for whatever reason, she had no recollection of Merlin. It was as if someone had deleted it.
“He did seem like a beta tester… ah, I dont know. If I cant remember him, that must mean the administrators and developers deleted that data. Its best I dont delve any deeper on this issue.”
Mari mumbled with a powerless voice. And soon, the world she was in went completely dark.
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