Like a hawk diving toward its prey, Igniz briefly hovered high in the sky before shooting down. There was nothing particularly spectacular about this, but since Igniz’s body was 200 meters long, the force from the descent made the users feel as though the sky was falling. However, despite this chaotic scene, the players readied their spiritual force specialties, and soon…
“Watch out, everyone!”
The battle began.
Using Introspection, Merlin inspected his internal energy. His internal energy system was comprised of three main components. The first was the sun-like Golden Core. Then, there were the planets that doubled his internal energy: Mercury and Venus. With these, Merlin was able to double or quadruple his internal energy.
Currently, Merlin was working on developing his third expansion planet. To do this, he used his current internal energy reserves, which were 80 points of internal force or 40 years of internal energy. Since Mercury and Venus required ten and 20 years of internal energy, respectively, Merlin expected Earth to take 40 years.
While he contemplated, his internal energy circulation suddenly collided with something. More accurately, instead of hitting something, it was repelled. The gathered 40 years of internal energy didn’t solidify into Earth, and instead, it started resisting the consolidation.
‘This is much more difficult than I anticipated.’
The aftereffect of the failure caused blood to rush up Merlin’s throat, and he knew that if he were to spit it out, he’d lose some of his accumulated internal energy. So, he forcefully swallowed the rising blood. As he did with Mercury and Venus, Merlin had been planning on consolidating his internal energy to form a planet, but it wasn’t progressing smoothly.
Merlin tried to consolidate the gathered internal energy again, but it resisted once more and forcefully repulsed Merlin’s efforts. This time, Merlin’s body hurt as if he had sustained internal damage.
‘Why? Why isn’t it working? Creating Mercury and Venus wasn’t difficult.’
Merlin was perplexed at the situation, but he shouldn’t have been, as this should’ve been an obvious result. Though Merlin had named his planets Mercury and Venus, this was an arbitrary decision made after listening to Mari’s explanation of how the Golden Pill Immortal Technique worked. This technique created something from nothing, and typically, practitioners would find it nearly impossible to make even the first planetary body, let alone the second. Due to the names he had chosen, Merlin assumed that it would be simple to create the other planets in succession, from Earth to Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. His thought process regarding the planets' creation was too naive as if they would form naturally.
Merlin continued to make another attempt, but he wasn’t making any progress. Similar to how diamonds and coal were both made from carbon but had drastically different properties and cellular structures, producing golden cores and forming a planet or ‘creating something from nothing’ was on a whole new difficulty level. A lump of coal couldn’t be squeezed to form a diamond, and after creating one planet from nothing, making others became exponentially more challenging.
“Ugh… this won’t work!”
Merlin snapped out of his Introspection. He had been sitting cross-legged, meditating on an uninhabited island. Then, like a running back being handed a football, Merlin placed his right hand on his chest palm up as his other hand moved above it. With both palms facing each other, Merlin released the internal energy he had been using to create the third planet.
/Your highest spiritual power (type: Internal Energy) has decreased by 80 points!/
Merlin’s ball of internal energy was uprooted from his body and brought out, emitting a golden glow. In contrast to when he’d done this with ample preparations, there was no planning at all this time, so the soccer ball-sized system hovered between his hands. Unlike the solid core that he manipulated when creating an external golden core, this time around, his core was in a gaseous state. If anyone were to come by and scatter this ball of internal energy, Merlin would lose everything he had painstakingly gathered. Fortunately, no one was nearby.
“It would be great if I had more time… damn it. I should’ve paid closer attention to the Announcement Board.”
Merlin had started doing this challenging work because of what he'd read on the Announcement Board after the red dragon passed him. The post read as follows:
/1. Special Boss Raid Battle
Congratulations on overcoming the Siege Quest~! Everyone was much stronger and more powerful than we had initially expected, so we’re delighted to see your progress.
This has led us to prepare something special! The red dragon, Igniz, shall make her appearance!
In a few moments, at 2 PM exactly, the red dragon Igniz shall descend from the southern skies and start attacking users. Igniz’s objective will not be the destruction of Starting but the annihilation of all users. Hence, there is no specific designated area that needs to be defended. The entire village may be used as a battlefield. However, once the battle starts, a barrier shall form around Starting, which will prevent anyone from leaving or entering.
All users within the village shall be seen as a single party, and all drops will be distributed accordingly.
2. End of Closed Beta
When Igniz is defeated, or all the users are killed, the Dynamic Island service will end. Once this happens, the current user IDs, inventory specifications, reduced log-out benefits, and all other system functions shall be kept intact for closed beta users, as well as gold, items, and experience points. However, all users will have their levels, abilities, and skill stats reset. This forced reset will be strictly enforced so that all users, new and returning, start the game on a level playing field. Existing users will not face any other restrictions or resets.
3. Grand Opening of the DIO Service
There will be several benefits that’ll be distributed if Igniz is eliminated. If the users prevail, the grand opening of DIO shall occur ten days after the end of the beta, on January 1st. However, if Igniz comes out victorious, the grand opening shall be pushed back three months and occur on April 1st. The DIO service will be open to the general public, so we urge all current users to help spread the word.
4. No Open Beta period - you will need to pay to play the game/
/PS: We have received many questions regarding the undead monster corps from Dead Earth island. The monster corps was attacked en route by a limited number of users. The absence of the monster corps at the south gate was not due to a bug or error in the DIO system or server./
Similar to how everyone else felt, Merlin was taken aback after reading this.
“What the hell? These freaking developers and administrators… They didn’t say they were under pressure or had an external issue, but they’re going to arbitrarily delay the grand opening to April 1st if we lose to the red dragon?”
This wasn’t an approach that most game developers and companies would take, as most of them wanted to make money. It was as if they were stating that this delay bothered the users more than the developers. In any case, Merlin soon shook his head.
“Ah, whatever. It’s not like I’ve only seen weird things once or twice; everything about this game has been a little weird. Whatever. If I need to wait a bit longer to play the game, so be it.”
Merlin gave up on the red dragon, having already concluded that the users would have no chance. Due to this assumption, Merlin focused on the wording and description of the second clause in the post.
In other words, after a user’s level was reset, their abilities and skill stats would immediately be reduced. The level reset wasn’t worrying, as users could just retake the level tests, but the other reductions were significant since many users had dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to hone their abilities and skills. This was why Merlin was working on physically materializing his spiritual power. Of course, recreating an external spiritual power system through internal energy wasn’t simple, as seen with the Golden Pill Immortal Technique’s planets. Yet, Merlin was trying to do just that with his innate image-making ability. Furthermore, he had already accomplished comparable feats in the past when he created external cores.
Merlin compressed the soccer ball-sized golden light. Since it was in a gaseous form, the golden light would’ve dispersed if Merlin only used his physical strength, so he also harnessed his magic power.
‘Alright, now, time to be creative.’
As Merlin narrowed his eyes to focus, a pink light started shining from the Spinel on the back of his right hand. The magic power trickled down from his right hand and started enveloping the bundle of golden internal energy. In a matter of seconds, the golden light was compressed to the size of an apple.
“Focus on the qi… focus on the qi….”
Mumbling to himself, Merlin brought his two hands closer, but the internal energy ball started resisting. If Merlin were simply compressing this ball to create an external golden core, the process would have gone relatively smoothly. Yet, he wasn’t just making a golden core. He was building an entire system, something that could ‘make something out of nothing.’
Seeing the ball of internal energy constantly repelling and resisting, Merlin realized that he couldn’t form the next planet through image-making and compressive force.
His Spinel, which had constantly been emitting a pink light, cracked. Merlin practiced the Seven Jewel school of study, which sought to create a perfect internal spiritual power system within the practitioner’s body. So, this crack raised several red flags. His magic stone was essentially the container that held all his magic power, so if it were destroyed, the user would lose their entire reserve of magic power.
Merlin knew this, but he chose to accelerate his magic power usage beyond the point that the Spinel could handle.
“I was planning on making another magic stone as well… but I guess I’ll have to give up on that thought!”
Gritting his teeth, Merlin continued his image-making. He’d created Mercury and Venus through a simple image-making process that compressed his internal energy. However, this third planet required more than half a cycle of internal energy, so he couldn’t use the same technique, as the internal energy refused to combine and resisted instead.
Any seasoned practitioner of the Golden Pill Immortal Technique would have already given up by this point. Although they would’ve been frustrated that they couldn’t produce a third instance of ‘creating something from nothing,’ they would’ve realized that it was impossible to make the third planet in the same way as the first and second. Thus, it would be concluded that another possible approach existed, but it might require an extensive period of researching and testing to discover.
John Dalton (1766 - 1844) stated in his atomic theory that ‘all things are made of atoms, tiny things that can no longer be divided.’ However, this statement was incorrect, as atoms could be divided using plasma or some other high-pressure force. If this occurred, the split atom would send out a positron, neutron, and electron. These were the components that modern physicists deemed as the smallest, undividable units of everything.
Dalton’s atomic theory was wrong, but it would have been absurd for anyone during his time to state, ‘Atoms can be further divided, you idiot!’ Dalton was a trailblazer whose theory was forward-thinking and revolutionary. Even now, Dalton is considered to be one of the giants who have helped others achieve further scientific breakthroughs. Smaller units were only discovered after decades of research and experimentation. Expecting Dalton to have learned this modern conclusion would be silly.
Likewise, the creator of the Golden Pill Immortal Technique probably decided that the third planet couldn’t be created, which wasn’t necessarily the wrong assumption to have at the time. The idea of creating internal energy-doubling planets that were ‘something out of nothing’ was probably revolutionary to the martial arts world at the time. Hence, making a third planet would likely necessitate a massive investment of time, research, and testing.
“Alright… it’s working!”
With his monstrous spiritual power control and recognition, Merlin understood that it was possible to create a new property by combining internal energy and magic power, so he immediately tested his theory without any hesitation. Merlin had bypassed the arduous work of time-consuming research and experimentation from a mere hunch. However, to create the third planet, Merlin realized he needed to use the magic power that dwelled within the magic stone. This wasn’t the expendable type of magic power; it was the magic power that the magic stone needed to exist. As such, there was no way for Merlin to avoid damaging his magic stone and magic power.