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The car made its way to a remote area far from the center of Copenhagen.
We went up a barely-there road, when a medieval western castle hidden in the forest revealed itself.
I was in awe at a castle that I had only seen in storybooks and cartoons.
The old castle seemed like it had been remodeled to look more modern, but the antiquity and sophistication was still unmatched.
The castle gates were made to automatically open and close.
The employee got out of the car and verified his fingerprint and scanned his iris and the gates clunked open.
Several people came out to greet us, and among them I saw Odin and Neilson.
Odin greeted us warmly.
“You are still alive.”
The man who made my Neilson H2 double guns, Neilson Oslan, gave me a short-spoken welcome.
After we exchanged greetings, a gray haired middle-aged man standing near Odin and Neilson, opened his mouth.
Seeing that he spoke in a foreign language that I couldn’t understand, he wasn’t an examinee.
Odin translated for me.
“He is Vilhelm Heinz, in charge of exam research. He has been desperately waiting for your arrival.”
“Please tell him it’s a pleasure to meet him.”
Through translation, we exchanged greetings and all headed into the building headquarters.
Unlike the outside of the castle that was wrapped in stones, the inside had a clean modern style.
Coming out to the third floor terrace, I could see the entire castle’s surroundings in one glance. A clear and blue sky, mountains, forest, not a modern building in site, a medieval landscape.
Of course, the terrace was covered in glass so the cold wind couldn’t penetrate and it was well insulated.
The five of us sat around a round table. People brought us coffee and cookies.
Odin then spoke.
“First, I shall tell you of the trend of the exams.”
“I’m all ears.”
“Looking at the collective data that is divulged from the various countries in the Arena international League of Nations, all examinees in the world are converging into the same time zone.”
“As you know, Mr. Kim Hyun-ho, for every examinee, the rest period and the day the exams begin along with the amount of time spent in the Arena are all very different.”
“Yes. Cha Ji-hye here just started the exams not too long ago and she is already a 6th turn examinee like me and has spent 15 years in the Arena.”
Cha Ji-hye made a small nod of agreement.
Odin continued to say.
“But that time difference starting to decrease and the timing of everyone’s exams are becoming the more and more similar.”
The time an examinee spends in the Arena varies. But no matter how long you spend in the Arena, only one night passes in the real world.
Most likely, this variation in time is the work of the gods and angels.
“I will ask one thing. I have 42 days left for the rest period, what about you, Kim hyun-ho?”
I summoned my board to verify and was surprised.
“I have 42 days left too.”
“It has to be. Last time, through the Brown Mountain elf problem, you and I created a relationship. On the other hand, Miss Cha Ji-hye spent 15 years in the Arena but only for a short amount of time in the real world passed by. I am guessing that it was in a secluded, very out of the way, remote area?”
“Yes, it was.”
Answered Cha Ji-hye.
Odin gestured to Neilson.
“And Neilson here is also spending a longer time in the Arena than other examinees. He is living alone in an area where no one is nearby so that such a large time difference is easily solved.”
The reason examinees usually have their first exam in an unpopulated by human area is probably for this same reason.
“Then that means that all examinees converging into the same time zones is……”
“That means that nearly all examinees are in situations where they are connected to each other. In more detail, examinees are exercising more power and influence in the current Arena society, and means that we are getting closer to the ultimate destination of the exams.”
“So someone could reach the final destination pretty soon then?”
The ultimate goal of the exams…only one person had to succeed.
Amongst all the examinees, if one person achieved the goal then the exams would be over. All examinees would be freed from the Arena.
Of course, as of right now, this was all just conjecture but according to everything that has revealed itself so far, it was highly probable.
“Now that I look at it, I have 52 days left on my rest period.”
Said Cha Ji-hye.
Odin nodded his head.
“In that case, in your next exam, you will probably make it out of the remote area. Like this, there are many examinees reaching the end objective. But that last exam won’t be that easy to complete.”
“Why is that?”
“The corrupt examinees.”
With that phrase, everything was explained.
“China and Indonesia are representatives of this but they aren’t the only people of those nationalities doing stuff like that. America, Japan, and many other examinees from other countries are of the opinion that not completing the exams is better.”
“Because of the majeong.”
“That’s right. Like the Maglun family you recently met, there are many capitalists invested in majeong collection and research. Regrettably, it is those capitalists that steer the world.”
“What about the Nordic examinee group? Do the Nordic countries want the exams to continue too?”
Odin stared straight at me.
“Mr. Kim Hyun-ho, it is good to trust us. We are unlike other agencies from other countries. Because the Nordic exam group wasn’t founded by the country, but by the examinees gathered. Then I personally created the group.”
Odin continued to speak.
“Afterwards, we got the support of the country and became an official organization, but the core commitment of the examinees are to clear these exams.”
I stared at Cha Ji-hye.
Cha Ji-hye nodded her head. I figured it meant she’s saying he’s not lying.
“But the country, meaning politicians and capitalists that shape government intuitions, doesn’t have the same mentality as us. They might not behave as blatantly as the Chinese, but they will gradually move to interfere with others to stop them from clearing the exams.”
After hearing this, my heart grew heavy.
Just the other day, the Smith Maglun that I treated was a capitalist heavily invested in businesses related to the Arena.
For that business to succeed, examinees had to continue to bring majeong back from the Arena.
I became afraid at the thought that a tycoon like Chairman Maglun could become an obstacle blocking my progress.
Will I ever be freed from the exams?
“The reason I am telling you these things is because I wish to recruit you. Of course Miss Cha Ji-hye too.”
“The Korean government and even Chairman Park Jin-seong cannot protect you guys. The danger isn’t only present in our real world but it will grow stronger in the Arena as well. To combat that, the few genuine examinees like us need to band and combine our strengths.”
“I agree. And that is why I requested the help from the Nordic Examinee Group.”
“You thought well. Your capabilities, Kim Hyun-ho, will be a big strength to us.”
For now we’ll postpone my joining the Nordic examinee group. For now, I will continue to go forward in a cooperating relationship.”
“Then let’s get into the topic of the hour. First off, the satellite problem is moving along well. We have decided to acquire an observation satellite that a Swiss research agency was creating and turning that into a recon satellite.”
“And the problem of using majeong for the power to shoot it into the atmosphere isn’t difficult, but some more research needs to be done for calculating the trajectory and controlling the satellite remotely.”
Odin smiled and continued talking.
“But the communication issue can be considered as a secondary problem, but we have some very useful electronic equipment.”
“What is it?”
“I’ll show you soon.”
Then Odin had a conversation with Vilhelm Heinz, the research chief.
Vilhelm stood up and gestured to us.
We got up and followed Vilhelm somewhere.
We got on the elevator and went to basement level 5.
The basement level 5 was a research facility. People that appeared to be researchers were wrestling with computers or busy running around.
Vilhelm led us into a deeper section inside.
Eventually we got to the innermost research room.
In a large rectangular room were a couple of suits that looked like scuba suits.
It looks similar to the battle suits from the Korean arena research agency.
“Are they like battle suits?”
“A battle suit it is. But it is an object that has the advanced technology from northern Europe.”
It was probably a battle suit that had some kind of electronic device built in.
Vilhelm smiled as he said something to me and pointed to the battle suit.
I couldn’t understand what he was saying but he was probably telling me to try it on.
I tried nodding my head.
Vilhelm input the secret code into the keypad on the glass case.
The glass case opened. Vilhelm took out a battle suit and handed it to me, and pointed to a changing space on the side, drawn over with a curtain.
I opened the curtain in the changing room and got out of my clothes and changed into the battle suit.
‘Something is attached to the back.’
There was a small electronic about 10cm large attached to the back.
This must be the electronic device that gave the suit its special abilities.
Interestingly, this battle suit even has room for fingers and toes so it took a while to get on.
I barely got the battle suit on and came out of the changing room.
I could tell something felt different. My steps were so light it felt weird.
I felt strange and Odin said.
“How does it feel?”
“My body is lighter.”
“That isn’t all.”
Odin presented his palm to me and said.
“Hit it with the strongest punch you can throw.”
Odin was a strong man that is also an aura master.
I don’t think his wrist will break because I punched as hard as I could.
I got into the boxing stance I learned before.
But the weird thing was Odin’s demeanor.
Odin lowered his posture and raised a blue aura all over his body. A defense prepared for a strong attack.
‘How strong does he think my punch will be?’
I was a physical strength buff intermediate level 5 so I do have the body that was at the limits to a male elf.
However, his aura control was at a superior level and I couldn’t surpass Odin, an aura master.
I got a strange feeling but I didn’t’ think much could happen so I threw my best straight.
My fist flew forward like a rocket. As if someone was controlling my arm, a strength beyond imagination.
The punch landed on Odin’s extended hand.
Despite using his aura to combat it, Odin was pushed backwards.
“What, um, is this?”
I asked in complete surprise at the amplified power.
“It is synthetic muscle.”
Answered Cha Ji-hye.
Odin nodded his head.
“It’s something we developed in the beginning. It was developed using the loophole that what one wears is carried with them into Arena. But it ultimately failed because it didn’t activate in the Arena.”
“This is a synthetic muscle suit?”
In shock, I looked down at the synthetic muscle suit I was wearing.
Like a scuba suit, it was fairly thin and flexible. That this is a suit with cutting edge technology, synthetic muscle, I couldn’t help but be in shock.
“It is light and thin and thus comfortable for movement and also multiples strength by 20-fold. The suit has the best sensors and proprioceptors that measure the strength of the body, and this total is monitored through the muscles’ electronic signals. When wearing this, controlling your strength should be as natural as moving your own body.”
Right at the end of the description, research chief Vilhelm handed me a paper cup filled with water.
He wanted me to take it.
‘If I can’t control the multiplied power, I’ll crush this paper cup.’
I carefully took the paper cup from him.
I’m surprised again.
Because I naturally took the cup from him.
“Wow, this is incredible.”
The built in AI and sensors were perfectly controlling the amount of power needed for every task.
Just like my own body.
“What do you think if you could take that with you to the Arena?”
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