–Getting to visit Korea, the powerhouse of PVP and GVG, is an enjoyable and interesting experience for me. I wish to express my thanks to the Players Association and the people of Korea for welcoming my first visit to Korea.
Those were the words spoken by the Great Explorer Jackson when he visited Korea. Jackson went diligently from country to country for the sake of ‘exploration’, but he visited Korea a little later than the rest.
‘Why is Jackson in Korea at this point in time?’
Did things change from the past?
‘Or was Jackson here in the past, too?’
And he just so happened to be near the presently unclearable Gwanghwamun Dungeon.
It could be a coincidence. But it was also possible it wasn’t a coincidence. The chances were 50-50.
‘Guess I need to meet him real quick.’
I hurriedly moved to follow Jackson. I was doing my best to chase him, but he suddenly disappeared from my view. It didn’t feel like he disappeared with a pop. Rather, it was like he naturally disappeared, even though I was definitely watching him.
‘Where did he go?’
I didn’t activate Observer’s Eye to try and find him. There was a very high chance he disappeared from my view like this because he realized I was "tailing" him. Jackson had recognized my existence, so he would approach me on his own terms.
Sure enough, I heard a voice.
"Why are you following me?"
That one sentence gave me a big shock.
I scanned Jackson’s eyes with Observer’s Eye. It was possible he had a ‘translation artifact’. I searched for the energy and flow of such an item, but I couldn’t see any.
‘He doesn’t have a translation item.’
Which meant Jackson was actually speaking Korean.
"You know how to speak Korean?"
"Yes. I’ve been very interested in Korea from a young age."
Jackson shrugged. He didn’t appear to be terribly wary of me.
The Great Explorer was in Korea at this time.
And he knew how to speak Korean.
Why did he pretend like he had never visited Korea before, and act like he couldn’t speak Korean? I clearly remembered seeing Jackson on TV in the past.
–Ah, this thing? It’s a translation item I recently obtained. Thanks to it, traveling the world has become a lot easier. Korean? I had no time to study it. Well, the world has become much more convenient. With just this one item, we can converse so easily.
But the current Jackson was speaking Korean, and very fluently, at that.
"May I ask what your name is?"
"My name is Jackson." He stared at me. "I think it’s time for me to ask a question now."
"Why did you follow me? Are you perhaps gay?"
"No, that’s not it."
He grinned. "It’s alright. I’m pretty handsome, after all. I am an unprejudiced person."
I decided not to lie. This person realized that I was following me, and he used a method of concealment slightly different in feeling than ‘Stealth’. All of it was evidence that this man’s skills were indeed not ordinary.
Eye of Perception once again verified that he wasn’t ordinary.
[The target’s information cannot be read due to a special power.]
It was the same as Sung-gu. He was someone whose status I couldn’t read, someone affected by a special power.
"I will be honest with you. I know the future, to some extent."
"Oh? Are you a Future Sight user?"
Jackson looked at me with interest.
[Eye of Perception detects a foreign energy.]
The interesting thing was that Eye of Perception was unable to determine exactly what that ‘foreign energy’ was. That was how stealthy Jackson’s ability was.
‘It’s probably something like Eye of Truth.’
I wouldn’t tell any lies. I would only slightly tweak the truth. I couldn’t see the full future, but it was true that I knew the future. The truth of that statement was surely conveyed to Jackson.
"You don’t seem to be lying. So? What does someone who can see the future want with me?"
"I want to tell you your future."
I knew Jackson’s future. He would become the ‘Great Explorer’ who shared an enormous number of strategies and hidden pieces, becoming renowned worldwide.
"What is my future like?"
"It looks like you risk your life to explore. I see all sorts of dangerous things."
"I can see not just the future, but also a little of the past."
"What’s my past like?"
I wanted to know why this Great Explorer was in front of the Gwanghwamun Dungeon at this point in time. In order to obtain what I wanted to know, I had to give Jackson information compelling enough to put me in his good graces. Information that was extremely well known in the future.
"In the field where you underwent the Tutorial, you may have survived through cowardly means."
Jackson flinched. He was smiling calmly, but I saw the change.
–I abandoned my teammate like a coward and survived. I threw my most precious friend to a Lycanthrope and survived.
The story about Jackson and his closest friend, Renton, was extremely famous.
–Back then… that was the only method I could see.
Should they both die, or should only one person survive? At that crossroad, Jackson made the choice to have one person survive. And of course, that one person was Jackson.
"That may have become the greatest source of guilt in your heart."
That choice wasn’t wrong. He made the best decision he could at that moment. I would have done the same.
"May I give you one piece of advice as well?" Jackson asked.
"What is your advice?"
"Do not carelessly divulge the future."
Those words were parallel to what the Astrologist Itachi and countless other Future Sight users said. But how did Jackson already know that? The side effects of divulging the future would only become common knowledge much later.
"In the texts of a certain dungeon, it was written that those who see the future must fear the future. That there is nothing more foolish and reckless than divulging the future that is to come."
He had already found that kind of information, and in the beginner period..
"I see. Thank you for the advice. Actually, I am already familiar with the side effects and dangers of speaking about the future. After all, I am someone who possesses such an ability."
I continued to feel the ‘foreign energy’ prickling at me. Jackson was exploring me with some kind of method, and at my current level, I couldn’t concretely determine what that energy was.
‘This is fun.’
Standing before me was the world’s best Player in the ‘explorer’ class. No, the Player with the qualities to become the world’s best.
‘But even so, he can’t be at a higher level than me.’
I didn’t think there was anyone who could be, other than the Demon King Kang Sun-il. Granted, there were certainly Irregulars like Ahn Seohye out there, but at least right now, Jackson wasn’t one.
‘I don’t get the feeling of an Irregular from him.’
To be more precise, he gave off an ‘Irregular-like’ feeling, but lacked an Irregular’s undeniable mark. It was a sense I couldn’t quite put into words. As soon as I saw Ahn Seohye, I clearly felt, "She’s an Irregular!" It was like she was enveloped in a thin veil I should somehow be able to see with my eyes.
Something was a little off.
‘For now, the right call is… to consider him as an Irregular.’
I couldn’t read his status, so I could only trust my intuition.
"The reason I sought you out despite knowing the dangers and mentioned your future and past is…"
"You seem to want something from me."
I gave him the information I could give, and did my best to instill trust in him. Not trust in me, but in the ability I possessed.
"Why did you come to Korea?"
"Is it your first visit?"
Jackson answered me straightforwardly. "No. It’s my third."
His third time?
"When did you first visit Korea?"
"When the Tutorial Field appeared in Jongno."
Then that was almost half a year ago. That gave me one hint.
‘This is unrelated to me changing things. Jackson came to Korea independently of the butterfly effect I caused.’
I was wondering if his presence had something to do with Taeguk Shield’s expansion into Boracay, but that didn’t seem to be the case. He had already visited Korea three times.
"This is fun," said Jackson. "You are aware that I am analyzing you with a special power, yes?"
"Most people don’t know. Amazing." Jackson’s eyes narrowed. "Lately, I feel like something’s weird about Korea."
"Places that should have definitely had dungeon breaks didn’t break, and considering the level of the Korean Players, there should have been greater losses, but there hasn’t been. It’s almost as if someone has been artificially stopping such disasters from happening."
I decided to tell the truth here as well.
"Greater losses should have occurred in the future I know as well."
That wasn’t a lie. In the future I knew, both the Seoul Station Dungeon and the U-Plex Dungeon had broken.
"I know the Players of Korea are currently being led by a prominent guild called Taeguk Shield. But no matter how I think about it, I don’t think Taeguk Shield alone could have achieved it. Korea’s current situation, I mean." Jackson didn’t take his eyes off me. "Seeing you, I think I’m starting to know the reason."
"What do you mean?"
"There are traces of a hero on you. This is evidenced on a Player’s body as something called [Achievement]. Like a scar that cannot be erased, Achievement is a stigma one cannot hide."
Jackson smiled lightly. "I don’t know how you accrued so many Achievements. But as far as I can tell, you…" He paused for a moment, then gave what sounded like his honest guess. "...have a truly powerful ability to see the future. So powerful I cannot even begin to fathom it."
"I call such people Prophets."
Apparently, he judged that I was a perfect ‘Prophet’.
"I’m sure it’s thanks to you that Korea didn’t take much damage."
Jackson grabbed my hands.
"Despite already knowing the side effects of divulging the future, you did so without restraint."
I never really divulged the future. The [Achievement] Jackson spoke of were things I did on my own. Starting from the Tutorial, all the way to the current Gyeonghoeru.
"Ever since the Tutorial, I have been in constant worry and agony. I tossed aside my friend and survived as a result. That has become an unerasable source of guilt in my heart and has been tormenting me."
That was why he decided.
"So I decided to use the rest of my life for others, to save as many people’s lives as I could. To devote this meager life that barely managed to subsist by selling out Renton. That was why I started exploring. Because this is something I can do well, at least."
I had already heard this before. The reason why Jackson kept doing the dangerous act of ‘exploration’, and why he shared the fruits of that exploration with the world. His underlying motivation was something anyone from the future would know.
"That’s why I am so happy and glad to have met someone like you. It’s kind of like I’ve met a brother in arms with the same intent."
I stared at Jackson’s hands, which were wrapped around mine. Maybe he had hyperhidrosis; his hands were sweating a lot.
I could feel ‘honesty’ from Jackson’s words, as well as a ‘wish’. Because I had already experienced Noona’s ‘strong wish’, I could easily pick up on the ‘wish’ within his words.
Jackson wasn’t lying.
‘He’s being sincere.’
That was also evidenced by his future actions. He was definitely being sincere. However—
‘A strange déjà vu.’
There was something vaguely off. I felt a strange sense of déjà vu. His words, his actions, his expression, and even all of his actions in the future. There wasn’t anything strange about them, yet they were strange. I couldn’t say exactly what was weird. Something just felt off. This was all ‘intuition’.
"But may I ask how long you’ve been studying Korean? At your level, I would believe you if you said you were Korean."
He was way better at Korean than most Koreans. Agony. Achievement. Traces. Subsist. Devote. His vocabulary was really formidable for a foreigner.
An explorer who, according to the future, shouldn’t be here.
A great Player giving off a strange feeling of déjà vu.
A person who, according to the future, couldn’t speak Korean.
And yet, here he was, speaking to me in extremely fluent Korean.
‘What could it be?’
Why was it strange? I still didn’t know why I got that feeling of wrongness from Jackson. I decided to throw out a fastball.
"Why did you come to the Gwanghwamun Dungeon?"