First and foremost, do not be deceived into learning, he was of another world and lived his early years there. Hes always Avalons, just as how the Avalon is his.
He is a myth—a very special kind that he created himself. Many thought he would never return, but many thought him dead, too.
He started his journey from the bottom. Some say he was utterly lucky, but luck can only pull through until youve got a spear in your chest. Lucky as he may have been, he paid in full blood and scars.
He travelled, tripped, loved, saved, trusted, and was betrayed. But his myth never ceased there. He stood back up every time they needed him. He stood back up, even at his lowest. He wept in the song of Avalon, danced in its fury and destroyed all that came in his path.
He had murdered god, and was murdered; loved women, and was loved; he wept and made the Mist weep.
You may have heard of him.
—Extracted from the Book of Oracle.
"When the sun is still hot, I die," Rin said dramatically in the chat, as his avatar flung a dozen metres away. The hideous-looking giant never left him be and came for his life.*
The virtual crowds burst into an uproar, surrounding the desert dunes, as the final match of the twenty-first World Avalon championship was about to reach its climax. This was the final clash between the defending champion Team Silver Titan and Team Heavens Order, and whoever gains the victory here will be the champion of this years World Avalon league.
"Don you dare, Rin," Luke said, preparing for the substitution. "Im coming."
In the desert dune, the captain of Team Heavens Order, Luke finally called for the substitution. His player avatar of a mage appeared on the desert dune in place of the defender that was protecting their flag. Evidently, the desert dune was not an appropriate place to hold the final match, but none could change that like many other things about the game. The system AI decided it all.
"We are back after the quick break to the live coverage of the World Avalon Championship, and here on with us currently a former champion of the league, Zack Bancroft himself," Commentator Michael said on the mic to all the people watching on the web. "Things have become quite violent during this break. Do you think Heavens Order still has a chance in this clash, Zack?"
"To be honest, Michael, for all the years I played in the Avalon league, I can only tell you, things can turn at any moment," Zack said on the mic. "Even though Heavens Order were on the back foot now, they can turn it around. And it looks like their captain just entered the match."
"I can tell if you are joking, but I don see it turning down tonight," Michael said, laughing, as he was always a supporter of Silver Titan. "Captain Luke is certainly a skilled player, but he was never the MVP of Heavens order."
"Well, the MVP is still in the match, though struggling," Zack laughed. "Lets see if they can turn it around for Heavens Order."
The crowds shouted again. Some in joy, some in anger, irrespective of the supporters of both teams.
In the end, Luke was never known for his charismatic leading ability or astounding ability as a player. He did have the quality of a pro player, but he was mostly known because of his tactics and the way he made plans throughout the league. In some of them, he led his team through miraculous victories, while in some he failed to deliver.
Everyone wondered which one it would be for today.
Overlooking the audience, Luke only glared at his ace, who was struggling against the captain of the opponents team.
"Rin," Luke screamed in the chat. But no reply came from the ace. "For Gods sake, stop sulking. We are losing if you haven noticed."
"Aren we supposed to?" the person in question, Rin, finally replied in the chat. His avatar of a rogue was dodging the gigantic sword, turning his way as the three feet tall titan of a figure came more violently.
"For **s sake," Luke said, gritting his teeth, "I only told you to make the game more interesting, as if we are about to lose at any moment. Are you planning on losing for real? You know I have bet half of the teams fortune into it."
"Doesn matter. You are rich. You will live well even if you lose half of your fortune." Rin said nonchalantly while grappling with the captain of Silver Titan.
Luke sighed. "Tell me, what do you want?"
"I want a lot of things. World domination, for example, but you cannot give me that, can you? Lets settle with money then." Rin mused for a while. "Tell you what, give me two-thirds of the bet after we win this."
"Thats too much," snapped Luke. "You know I am not the only owner of the team. Leila owns more than me."
Rin snorted, hearing their managers name. "Tell your sister to say goodbye to her money then," he said. "Or you can give me all of your profit from the bet."
"Why are you so unreasonable today? Is it because of Leila? Fuck! I have nothing to do with your breakup yet you are still being like . . ." Luke could not find the exact word.
"Dick?" Ruch laughed and ducked the sword that came right for his head. He moved away from his opponent, though the captain of the opponent team still followed him like the mantis after the cicada. "Is that the word you are looking for?"
Veins in his temples snapped, but Luke calmed down. Most of the time, Rin only argued with their manager—his sister, Leila—for all types of reasonable and unreasonable things. But it was only yesterday that his sister announced she was quitting the job of the manager of the team, and most likely broke up with Rin after that as well.
Well, it was supposed to happen. Knowing Rin, he knew it would happen sooner or later, but couldn she wait for a couple of days?
Rin was unreasonable like this since then, not that Rin loved his sister. He did not even know why they were together in the first place. Both of their personalities were polar opposites, and they argued mostly when they were together for one thing or another.
And worst of all, Luke had nothing to do with it. Leila should be the one to carry all the blame, but the one who was suffering now was him. He sighed again and hissed at Rin. "Lets win the game first. I know, you did not want the money. Its just your way of revolting."
"Who told you that?" Rin cut in between the whispers. "Whoever it is, hes wrong. There are only a few things in the world I love, and money comes top of the list."
"Fine then," Luke shouted in the chat. "How about I give you some shares of the company, too?"
"Thats quite tempting. Tell me mo . . . " Rin could not finish his sentence as his opponent was becoming quite impatient with his attack. He lurched in an abrupt movement to appear half a dozen metres away.
"Oi, oi, Naik? Can wait to win, ye?" Rin snickered out at the giant. "You guys have already destroyed two of our flags and even eliminated Little Joe. Why are you so impatient? Lets play more."
The rules of the game were quite simple. The last one standing will be the winner, but if any of the teams could destroy three flags of the opponent team, they would win even if they had not eliminated all the players yet. Now Heavens order has already lost two of their flag and a player because of Rins negligence. While Silver titan lost nothing. Yet that was going on for the last five minutes.
Seriously, if it was some other game, Heavens order would have been lost a few times already. Luckily for them, Avalon Online is the worst when it comes to a balanced power system.
Players all over the globe complained millions of times to balance out the power system, but all the whining was futile, as the company or companies that were running the game could care less about the power balance. It was not easy to erect such an enchanting VR game after all. Their rivals were a hundred years behind in their technology.
Naik did not talk, only attacked more frantically with the second. He knew as long as this guy was at the game, anything could happen.
"Looks like I can hold on for more. Sorry, team. Naik is on a roll today," Rin shouted dramatically. "Have you thought through my offer, Boss?"
But before Luke could answer, another person joined in the whisper.
"Guys, fix your quarrel quickly," Tim, one of the players of Heavens order, said. "I don think I can hold on for much longer."
Tim alone was fighting two players from Silver Titan, and he was barely holding one. His avatar looked quite bloody with all the injuries it had taken. His health bar was red on the way of getting eliminated.
"God damn it," Luke shouted in the whisper, calculating the other revenues of their team. "Fine. You can take the money. Just win the match."
Losing now will lose him more fortune than giving it to Rin. So why not give it to a friend? Even if that friend is no less than a bastard.
"Sweet," Rin said. Then he looked all around the desert dune to notice he had left his teammates in quite dire situations.
Tim was battling two at once, barely holding on. While Sophie was running around with her opponent, she would run out of mana soon. And Luke, who just came in, was protecting the flag.
"Captain, do you have a plan?" Rin asked shamelessly.
Clearly, this type of shamelessness was nothing new to Luke or his other teammates. Luke spoke in the chat as if he was waiting for it. "I have a plan, but most of it depends on you."
"And when has that been surprising?" Rin asked. "Just hit me."
"We will do it as you did against Knights."
"Its suicide," Sophie said for the first time in the chat. "Iroha Knights were way weaker compared to Titans. We will lose."
"Ahh, sweetheart, you don need to worry," Rin said in the chat. "Your big brother, Rin, will take care of everything."
Sophie snorted in the chat.
Rin did not waste any time further and rushed his mana as his agility rose. He did not waste time on Naik, but ran closer towards Luke, who was protecting the Flag. And it was still not his full speed.
Avalon Online is the worst when it comes to power balance, and Rin was the ideal example of that. He was currently the fastest player in the game, though it need not be mentioned that speed was not all of his expertise.
However, Naik was not someone who would let go of his opponent, nor was he in a position to. He chased after Rin, signalling his teammates to be ready.
With an exchange of glances, Rin came about a dozen metres close to Luke, who cast a smoke spell on there. It blinded everyone on the spot. Everyone but Rin. Technically Rin was blind in the smoke as well, but he could work without his eyes. He was born with a supernatural instinct, and that ability applies to the game too, somehow. After honing it multiple times in games, it became almost second nature to him.
When the smoke spell cleared out, Rin, who was in the smoke, was not there, nor was the flag Luke was protecting.
"Are you looking for me?" Rin shouted a long way from the spot.
Naik looked back to find Rin had already traversed hundreds of metres away from him. Moreover, the flag was with him as well. Now he was going towards Tim.
Black lines appeared on his forehead, seeing the speed of this fellow. It was the most fraudulent ability of Avalon Online. Only very few players could learn it, but none of them was a master at it like Rin. This was what he feared the most. He thought Rin was not in the form today, so he was so impatient to win the match, but now he needed at least two players on him.
Rin warped through the path, his legs blurry. Even his avatar turned illusionary as he approached Tim, who was battling two opponents. He did not help Tim as everyone else was hoping for, but attacked the flag behind them. One of the two fellows let go of Tim and shot to protect the flag. But his effort to stop Rin turned futile, as a single-player was never enough to stop Rin, unless it was someone like Naik.
Meanwhile, Luke, who was freed from all the gazes and pressure, attacked one of the opponents flags. When the players of Silver Titan noticed it, it was too late. Among the players here, he had the most amount of mana left, so it was his duty to destroy the flags. Finally, Heavens order succeeded in destroying one of the opponents flags.
[The first flag of Silver Titan is destroyed.]
Naik went to stop him, while Luke teleported Tim near him as an assistant.
"Sweetheart, will you join me?" Rin whispered to Sophie.
Sophie grunted, but she did come towards him.
While Rin was messing with two players on his own, Tim joined forces with Luke and dealt with Naik. The two of them bombarded the opposing teams captain with no restraint. The Silver Titans captain had little mana left after all he dealt with Rin. But he did not go alone, as Tim had to sacrifice himself to make it happen.
[Heavens Orders Tim has been eliminated.]
[Silver Titans Captain Naik has been eliminated.]
The crowd shouted in an uproar and so did the commentators.
Sophie had high agility like Rin, but she did not have the surprises that Rin brought to the game. Rin could move around in any direction without stopping or slowing down his pace, unlike her. The ace of Heavens Order threw the flag at Sophia before casting his gaze onto the two opponents.
With one warping, he had pierced a dagger into one of the players skulls, eliminating him from the match. The dead player did not even see where the attack came from. It was almost like a pro playing against a noob.
From throwing the flag to killing the player, the thing happened so fast that even the audience was in awe. Even the players in the audience seats were in awe. They had never seen Rin perform with such expertise in the league.
Elsewhere, Luke destroyed another flag while Tim was dealing with the remaining players.
"Now its three versus three and both teams have one flag to protect," Michael shouted on the mic, cold sweating. "In just about ten seconds or so, Heavens order had turned the game back to their advantage."
"Told you," Zack cut in.
Nothing surprising happened after that. Luke dealt with the end of the flag, as Rin troubled two players alone, and the other left alone of the opposing team could catch Sophie.
Fireworks appeared in the sky of the virtual city of Tiana. The final match of the 21st Avalon league has just ended, and the winner was Heavens Order. For the first time in their history, Heavens Order won the championship only in their second year of participating in the league.
In the desert, Rin smiled a little while looking at the fireworks in the sky. Their win was no surprise to him and though he felt some excitement, it was not like the time when he started playing in the league. It was like yesterday everything was so exciting, but what he could do now. He had limited days remaining, and there was nothing he was good at apart from the game.
On the good side, he had swindled quite a sum from his boss just by playing around for a little, though he did not need any amount of it and his family did not need it, either. They would curse at him if he tried to give it to them.
[Congratulations! Player Rin for winning the 21st Avalon championship.]
Transparent lines of congratulating messages appeared in his view.
[The Avalon invites Player Rin on a new journey to pioneer a new age. Are you willing to join the new journey and make a safer path for all humanity?]
[Accept / Reject]
"Yeah, yeah," Rin said, commanding the accept tab. "Do I even have a life other than the game?!"
But the next moment, he felt something was wrong. The earth shook like an earthquake to the highest degree on the Richter scale, and lights appeared in his vision. Then boom, as his sight turned to pitch dark.
"What the hell!" that was the last word he said before passing out.
*The opening dialogue is from Brandon Sandersons The Way of Kings.