Published at 2nd of April 2024 01:23:14 PM

Chapter 67

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“Cough! Agh…” Victor was suddenly overwhelmed by a barrage of licks from a large, silvery creature. Caught off guard, he lost his balance, causing both him and his chair to topple backward in a comical heap while trying to shield himself from the affectionate onslaught.

“Wh-What?” Lizbeth’s slightly panicky voice rose above the tumult. But as quickly as her concern flared, it ebbed away, replaced by recognition and a touch of amusement. “Ah, it’s just the little rascal causing mischief.”

Victor, playfully trying to fend off Lumen, protested, “Stop! Stop! You’re going to cover me with your saliva.” He stroked the silvery wolf, gently pushing her away. “Lumen! You’re back.”

However, Lumen’s excitement didn’t wane; her tail wagged furiously as Victor tried to regain his composure. It had been a few days since Lumen left the academy to mark the forest around here as her territory. With her contributions in doing this, at least there was no need to worry about random stray magical beasts coming here to invade.

Victor struggled to sit up while Lumen snuggled close to him in excitement. “Lumen, easy there.” While chuckling, he managed to prop himself up, brushing off his face, which was now speckled with Lumen’s saliva, and erasing it with simple magic.

He looked at Luman and noted her marginal increase in size. “You’ve grown quite a bit, haven’t you?”


Still, no matter how much she had grown, she wasn’t even a month old, thus not yet possessing the full wisdom and stature of a majestic Celestial Moonhowler.

Lizbeth, floating nearby, couldn’t suppress her laughter at the comical scene. “Pfft. Look at you. You’re a slobbery mess now.”

“Shut it, you,” Victor retorted, then a playful glint appeared in his eyes as he thought of an ingenious idea. He hoisted Lumen in Lizbeth’s direction. “Lumen! Go lick Lizbeth.”

Following his command, Lumen bounded towards Lizbeth, showering her with a generous dose of affectionate licks. As Lizbeth was caught unprepared, her face, dress, and wings were now glistening with saliva.

“Gah! Now I’m wet with saliva!” Lizbeth exclaimed in annoyance.

Er, why does it sound misleading somehow? Victor thought in his heart and quickly cast the thought aside.

As Victor continued to stroke Lumen’s head, the wolf’s demeanor changed from playful to more serene. She lay down next to him, her head resting gently on his lap. The touch of her soft, silvery fur brought a sense of tranquility to Victor, washing away the stresses of the day.

“Seems like Lumen really missed you.” Lizbeth, who was now strangely clean and pristine, came closer and joined in gently stroking the wolf’s soft fur alongside Victor.

The peaceful moment of Lumen being stroked by Victor and Lizbeth lasted a little longer until Lizbeth unexpectedly brought something to Victor’s attention.

“Oh right, Master,” she began, turning toward him with a serious face. “The players have been inquiring about when they will receive their titles. Also, there’s a new thread created by a nonplayer that’s starting to get a lot of attention on the forum. You might want to take a look at it.”

“Hmm?” Intrigued, Victor stood up, noting the approach of the evening outside.

As night fell, despite the availability of playing the game twenty-four-seven, most players were beginning to go offline one after another. This shift was noticeable in the increase of activity on both the Discord server and the official website forum.

Victor fixed the chair that had fallen to its place, activated his Shadowlink Mark, and sat down. He chose not to navigate to the official forum but instead opened the Gamer’s Empire Discord server — a place where it all began.

Storm Bringer (Administrator): “Hey everyone, has anyone woken up yet? Any recent updates about the game? I’ve been practically itching to play again after all this time; in fact, I may have gone crazy for the severe lack of Magus Academy Online daily dose.”

Squadzell: “Same here! Eager to hear any news!”

It appeared that Storm really did have a shit luck, whether it was in terms of his mana aptitude or the random raffle system. He was, unfortunately, slated to be resurrected in the one before the last batch.

MikeIsHandsome1000x: “Well, I just woke up, and the first thing I did was boot up my computer.”

Squadzell: “Holy smoke! Didn’t even stop for a shower?”

MikeIsHandsome1000x: “Nah, I wanted to share my bragging rights first. Plus, it’s still 3 A.M. here on the West Coast. Hahaha! You see, today was our turn for the hunting expedition. Unlike Prominence’s team that hit the forest yesterday, we headed east, following the stream where we ran into that Shadow Panther days ago. Naturally, with the help of our esteemed headmaster and, of course, yours truly, we handled it smoothly. And you won’t believe what we found at the end of the stream, right where it meets a huge river…”

Mike continued on to retell the whole hunting experience to its last detail while exaggerating things that involved him in action. The other server members seemed to read his account carefully and didn’t make a single noise as if fearing to miss any information.

MikeIsHandsome1000x: “To top our hunting expedition, we roasted the magical crab in several ways. Believe me, it TASTED sooo good!! CookieMons is a great cook, that’s for sure, but the crab meat was on another level — so tender, so juicy. The juicy texture when you sank your teeth into the arm-thick meat… I can’t get enough of it. Seriously, I didn’t know that food in the game could become that delicious. Ah, if only we had more spices and a variety of sauces, it would’ve been perfect.”

Storm Bringer (Administrator): “Fuck! You must be lying!”

Stickman_Just_Passing: “Shit, I agree that Mike’s making things up.”

Viper Moon: “Damn it! Now I want to order some crabs to eat…”

Squadzell: “Argh! You guys left me with no other swear words! (`Д´)”

As Victor was reading this in amusement, he felt a gentle tug on his hair. Turning slightly, he noticed Lizbeth perched on his shoulder, gazing at him with an endearing look. “Master, you didn’t forget about this little fairy on your hunting trip with the players, did you?”

Huh, what’s with the idea? Oh. “Of course.” With a casual wave of his hand, a bowl of crab soup appeared on the table. “I saved some for you in case this happens.”

“Yay! Thank you, my dear master!” Lizbeth’s eyes sparkled with delight as she fluttered towards the bowl, eagerly sipping the soup until it was all gone.

Victor didn’t mind her happily indulging in her treat and turned his attention back to the holographic screen, continuing to read.

MikeIsHandsome1000x: “I swear it’s all real. You can ask @ZeroXScyth and the others about it; they were there too. Heck, I’ve some screenshots that I took while I was at it here.”

Naturally, visual evidence would always trump words that Mike put out, no matter how eloquent he tried to prove himself using them. Even though other members weren’t naive children who would blindly believe his boasts without concrete proof, they were convinced after seeing what he sent. On top of that, the person he pinged just happened to pop up in the next moment.

ZeroXScyth (Server Owner): “What’s all this commotion so early in the morning? Just got my morning coffee, and my phone’s already buzzing with notifications.”

ZeroXScyth (Server Owner): “Hold on, just read through everything. Yep, Mike’s telling the truth, although I’d take his words that feel like an exaggeration with a large spoonful of salt.” 

Once Zero made a clarification, the commotion in the server swiftly died down. Conversations gradually returned to their usual topics, eventually veering off in different directions.

Turning his attention to the official website forum, Victor started browsing through the threads Lizbeth had mentioned. The one that immediately caught his eye was titled “Where’s My Promised Title?” authored by a user with the username “EpicFailMaster.” Although Victor didn’t recognize this player, a quick check confirmed that he was indeed among the closed-alpha participants. His post read:

“It’s been about four days since the arachnid invasion, yet there’s been no update on the promised titles: Arachnid Disaster Survivor and Arachnid Disaster Hero. I’m curious about when they will be awarded. Not that I’m eager to flaunt them on the forum or anything, but you know… having them feels like I’m achieving something in the game. Slowly but surely, just like what I did with my collection of games on Steam.”

Despite its brevity, the post sparked a wave of similar inquiries from other forum members, with some even asking some unrelated things like his Steam username, among other things. Well, Victor hadn’t made it clear when the two titles would be awarded, so he decided to respond directly in the thread. He assured the players they would be distributed with the upcoming patch release. His post immediately garnered positive reactions, and many forum users gave it a like.

After that, Victor continued to browse around the forum. Nearly a month had passed since the first player had entered Magus Academy Online, and the quality of the forum’s content had been improving with each passing day. In fact, the next thread on the list had garnered even more traction than the previous one — to the point that it was almost equal to the pinned post made by Storm.

What particularly caught Victor’s attention was the original poster of this trending thread — a user named “KuroUsagi.” This ID was unfamiliar to Victor; the user hadn’t even qualified for the closed-alpha test of the game, making his prominence on the forum intriguing, to say the least.

Curious, Victor took a look at his profile. He was a newcomer that registered two days ago, yet he had already become a fixture on the forum, contributing to nearly every discussion thread. This level of activity suggested that KuroUsagi spent a significant amount of time on the forum; in other words, this guy was so idle that he used all his free time here.

Other than that, there was a link to a YouTube channel in KuroUsagi’s profile notes. It turned out that he was a well-known game critic with a substantial following on the platform. Interesting. It was the rich lady before, and now a game critic is showing interest in the game. Is something in the dark at play here?

“KuroUsagi’s Hardcore Observation on What Might Come in the Next Version!”

“Hey there, fellow gamers! I am your well-informed black bunny here, KuroUsagi. Many of you might recognize me as the VR game critic who hops from one virtual world to another. And yes, for those wondering, I am indeed the same KuroUsagi from the YouTube channel you’re thinking of.”

“A bit of disclaimer here before we dive in: I haven’t personally tried Magus Academy Online yet. So, this isn’t a gameplay review. However, after thoroughly engaging in forum discussions and scouring through information on the game’s wiki, I’ve pieced together some intriguing theories about the upcoming update. We all know that after the ‘Arachnid Invasion’ expansion, there’s bound to be an update pretty soon, and we’re all eagerly anticipating what’s next, right?”

“Let’s start with my first point of observation, then, shall we? Led by the headmaster, the closed-alpha players claimed victory over the arachnid horde and killed every last one of them. But is that truly the case? There’s been this popular theory going on among players about a hidden nest deep in the forest, and I’m inclined to believe it’s more than just a rumor.”

“Why do I bring this up you may ask? Well, it's not just speculation. I have a strong hunch that this hidden nest will feature in the next update, possibly as a new dungeon. That’s why it’s called an expansion and not just a game event or content update. It’s impossible for me to give you the exact details, but players should be able to enter this dungeon to gather some loot. You might want to prepare for this as soon as possible so that others won’t get ahead of you.”

“Alright, moving on to my observation — this time about NPCs in the game. Given the growing player base, having only a couple of NPCs to cater to everyone’s needs seems insufficient. I’m betting that the game developers, if they’re keeping a close eye on things, are already planning to introduce more NPCs in future updates. These new characters would undoubtedly help players in a lot of aspects, thus improving the quality of life.”

“The kind of NPCs we can expect to come in the near future are likely to be focused on production or mentorship roles. Production-oriented NPCs, like blacksmiths, seem more likely at this stage. Players are accumulating merit points and need more options for spending them beyond the current virtual shop. Introducing NPCs with specific crafting or trade skills will be a game-changer, especially for those venturing into the forests or delving into dungeons.”

“Now, onto my final point, which ties into the previous one. The NPCs in Magus Academy Online aren’t just sophisticated algorithms; they’re designed to mimic real people, from their thought processes to their actions. Of course, I’ve only seen all of this from amateur footage posted by some players on the forum, but that’s not the main point I’m trying to convey. I mean, like real people, they should have places of origin, be that a village, town, or city, as opposed to appearing out of nowhere.”

“As players expand their exploration, I believe we’ll start uncovering these origin places. How and when this will unfold in the game remains to be seen. It might happen before the next update or perhaps coincide with it. My gut tells me we’re on the cusp of discovering some fascinating new aspects of the game world in the coming days, and we may see a lot of new things.”

“That’s all there is from me. Remember, these are just my speculations, not definitive insights into future updates. And while I’m an avid critic, having not experienced the game firsthand, I can’t pass any final judgments just yet.”

Reading through all this, Victor couldn’t help but be impressed and hit that like button. This guy was almost spot-on about everything, and he hadn’t even experienced the game yet!


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