Chéng Yáng stood in a daze, as if he couldn’t see the sea of flying monsters that filled the sky above him.
He watched countless others struggle under the assault of those demonic birds as a talon the size of a tire crushed his head.
“Where am I?” The scene flooding his vision shocked Chéng Yáng.
Almost two dozen students sparsely filled a lecture hall, most sleeping on their desks. The teacher at the podium continued to lecture as if he hadn’t noticed. He was just reading from the textbook so it didn’t matter.
That’s right! This was one of his freshman college classes. The teacher didn’t take attendance so hardly anyone showed up.
Sincere shock and surprise flashed through Chéng Yáng’s eyes at the nostalgic scene of a peaceful classroom. He’d been given a second chance! He no longer had to suffer in that bloody survival game!
Maybe that was all just a dream? Chéng Yáng thought, trying to comfort himself.
Even so, a sense of unease filled him. In his memories, when the world ended, it happened without warning on a tranquil day like this.
On that day, without any prior indication, a massive earthquake had utterly destroyed civilization, ushering in the apocalypse.
Chéng Yáng scrambled to pull out his phone to check the date: 9:32 AM, April 12th 20XX.
Chéng Yáng’s body started to tremble, and a layer of cold sweat formed on his back. The earthquake had stuck on April 13th at 5:00 PM. If it hadn’t been a dream, that meant there was only a little over thirty-one hours left until the end of the world.
Would the apocalypse still happen? The dissonance between his current situation and the hell he’d escaped made it hard for Chéng Yáng to tell if his experiences were really memories or just a dream.
“Yángzǐ, what’s going on man?”
Liú Hào put down the mobile game he was playing when he noticed Chéng Yáng trembling. His chubby cheeks made him look like an adorable panda.
Chéng Yáng jolted upon hearing Liú Hào’s voice, and turned to take a look at his friend. The man who’d sacrificed both his arm’s to save his life was sitting right next to him without a single scratch. At that moment, Chéng Yáng’s nose crinkled with sorrow and guilt.
“It’s nothing.” Chéng Yáng replied in a low voice, “I was just daydreaming.”
If he told anyone about his previous life before he had proof they would just think he went insane.
Liú Hào shot him a suspicious glance but didn’t press the issue, instead returning to the game on his phone.
“We have a pickup game at noon but if you’re not feeling well don’t worry about it. We can still play even if you’re not there.”
Chéng Yáng’s stomach dropped, and the panic he felt became more and more obvious. He remembered playing that pickup game the day before the world ended.
“Dude, seriously, what’s up?” Liú Hào asked with concern upon seeing Chéng Yáng’s pale face. “Is this about that girl? Did you get rejected?”
Chéng Yáng shook his head.
“Hàozǐ, what do you think it would be like if the world turned into an RPG game?”
Liú Hào paused his game to give Chéng Yáng and incredulous look.
“Did you hit your head or something? You spend a lot of time gaming but you’re not so obsessed that you actually think that would happen right?”
Chéng Yáng sighed deeply.
“Just answer the question.”
“As far as we’re concerned, wouldn’t that be a good thing? Getting to spend every day fighting monsters, doing raids, and grinding out levels. Wouldn’t that be great?”
After saying that, Liú Hào went back to his game, leaving Chéng Yáng deep in thought. He could tell his friend genuinely yearned for such a world. Truly the ignorant are fearless.
There was no way it was just a dream, and even if there was only a sliver of a chance the world would end tomorrow, how could he waste this second chance he was given? Chéng Yáng had spent over a year in that hellish world. It wasn’t long, but nothing could be more precious than knowledge of the future.
Although Liú Hào thought that real life becoming like a video game would be fun, the reality was far from enjoyable. Unlike in a game, any damage you took were real injuries and there was no revival mechanic. Death was permanent.
Would anyone enjoy a game you could only play once? Obviously not. But no one would have a choice. They would all be forced to play.
They would have to dance on the edge of a blade every day. The lucky few would become Players but even then it was a constant struggle to level up fast enough…
Thinking of that, Chéng Yáng glanced at Liú Hào. In his memories, when Liú Hào had become a Player, he’d gotten a godly Innate Ability: Increase the Movement Speed and Attack Speed Attributes by 30%.
After the world was gamified, humans would be able to unlock their hidden potential during a Transcendence Ceremony and obtain an Innate Ability. These Innate Abilities were ranked by how much they increased a Player’s Attributes.
The worst talent was F-Rank which only provided a ten percent increase to a single Attribute. Every tier above F-Rank would increase that bonus by an additional ten percent with a maximum increase of thirty percent in a single Attribute. The highest talent was S-Rank which increased two Attributes by thirty percent for a total of sixty percent!
However, not all high rank Innate Abilities are equal. Without good synergy between the two attributes, an S-Rank talent might only be as good as a C-Rank one. For example, if an Innate Ability that increased both Attack Damage and Ability Power Attributes but the Player’s class only used one of those, although the total increase was sixty percent, they wouldn’t be able to fully utilize it.
High rank Innate Abilities with strong synergy like Liú Hào’s were called Divine Talents. They could turn someone like Liú Hào from a lethargic student into a speedy assassin.
Even so, in Chéng Yáng’s memories, Liú Hào had gotten his arms torn off while saving him from a monster. Although Liú Hào had survived, he’d become a cripple. Chéng Yáng had always felt guilty about that.
Chéng Yáng was an ordinary student before the apocalypse. There was no way for him to fight against his fate and he’d remained at the bottom of the new society which formed after the apocalypse. Then, after a year, he lost his life.
Although he didn’t know why he’d been given a second chance, it didn’t matter. It was enough that he had it. In this life he would be able to repay Liú Hào’s sacrifice and change his fate!
After the apocalypse, most people yearned to become a Player, but those with true power, were Lords. In addition to being Players, they owned Settlements, allowing them to control the life and death of countless others.
In his past life, it wasn’t that Chéng Yáng’s Innate Ability was trash, he just hadn’t gotten the chance to showcase it because he hadn’t been a Lord: Increase Ability Power by ten percent and increase the effectiveness of Cultivation Chambers in your Settlement by thirty percent.
It wasn’t S-Tier, but only one in ten people had B-Rank talent or higher.
Moreover, Innate Abilities that affected a Settlement were exceedingly rare, and the highest bonus he’d heard of was only twenty percent! Thus, even though he only had a B-Rank talent, Chéng Yáng had considered himself just as special as someone with an S-Rank talent! Every other person Chéng Yáng had heard about with an Innate Ability like his either became a Lord or had been killed by one, so he didn’t dare mention it to anyone lest he be viewed as a threat.
As a result, Chéng Yáng was considered F-Rank trash, but this time he vowed to be someone important, and the best way to achieve that goal would be using his memories of the future to get a head start!
Suddenly Chéng Yáng had an idea. He hurriedly took out his phone to check the news.
“……found in the outskirts of Harbin, scientists have been unable to determine the composition of the rock even after a week of study……”
That snippet was from a news article about a strange rock. A few pictures were included of a cylindrical stone monolith about three meters tall with a rough, dark grey surface.
When he saw the pictures, Chéng Yáng was ecstatic! This was exactly what he was looking for, the key to becoming a Lord: a Territory Altar.
In his memories, people had claimed that the gamification of the world hadn’t happened all at once but over time. No one could prove it either way, but now Chéng Yáng knew they were right. The Territory Altar he’d found was proof!
Right now no one knew what the stone would be used for and the leading theory was that it appeared after a natural phenomenon similar to a sinkhole. The only problem was that sinkholes cause the ground to sink, not protrude. Its usage wouldn’t be discovered until two months after the apocalypse when the first Lord appeared.
A Territory Altar wouldn’t just appear outside Harbin but across the country and all over the world. Most of the Territory Altars were currently buried underground, but after the earthquake, they would rise to the surface.
Chéng Yáng wouldn’t be able to reach the Territory Altar in Harbin but he remembered that there was a Territory Altar in Fènghuáng just five kilometers south of Xiāngyáng where he lived. In his previous life, a member of the Xiāngyáng military forces had become a Lord using that Territory Altar three months after the apocalypse.
He’d heard a man in his previous life boasting that he’d seen the Territory Altar there before the world ended but hadn’t realized what it was since everything but a small corner had been buried. Chéng Yáng hadn’t believed him at the time but the man had sounded regretful enough that Chéng Yáng was willing to take a chance in searching for it. He wasn’t sure if he could become a Lord before the earthquake but Chéng Yáng was determined to try. In this life he would become a Lord and rule over the masses.
After class, Chéng Yáng told Liú Hào he needed to rest and took a taxi to Fènghuáng.
If he hadn’t known the world was ending tomorrow, the $10 fare would have dissuaded Chéng Yáng from making the trip, but right now he didn’t care. Soon money would be worth less than toilet paper.
When the taxi arrived at the destination, it stopped at the side of the road.
Xiāngyáng was surrounded by hills and Fènghuáng was no exception. However, the Fènghuáng in Chéng Yáng’s memories had been a flat plain. Chéng Yáng shuddered at the thought of the earthquake that would level these hills and flatten the terrain the next day.
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