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18 A Player or Person?

    "To be quite frank. I wish to enjoy the game and working for your game company might ruin it for me."

    "We fully understand! Since the fault was on our side, we wish to come to an agreement that will not hinder your virtual experience in any way."

    "But we do need to borrow your face. So this is our deal," said Cross while taking off his sunglasses and placing them onto the table next to a briefcase. When Cross opened the briefcase, a pile of neatly stacked green dollar bills presented themselves before Seojoon. "If you agree to lend us your face for advertisement and a few minor commercials, we will provide you ten million dollars, a 100% Exp boost in the game, as well as-"

    "Excuse me," interjected Seojoon, "I don't really care about money."

    He was never one to care about money, in this life and the previous.

    Cross hesitated before continuing. "No matter then, the Exp boost and-"

    "I don't want to obtain the Exp boost either. I feel like it will give me an unfair advantage and will thus ruin my gaming experience."

    Seojoon has enough gaming knowledge to understand that an exp boost was similar to cheating on a test, listening to an audiobook at two times the speed, or even taking steroids to win a match. It would ruin the thrill and the sense of accomplishment he would feel after he succeeds. And that was something Seojoon would never do. He would study until his memory was better than cheating, he would read until he was faster than the audiobooks at twice the speed and he would practice until he could finally win a match. For Seojoon, unfair advantages were never an option.

    Seojoon slowly stood up and gave the two black-cloaked figures a warm smile. "I appreciate the efforts that you two are going to have me as some sort of a mascot, but I must decline. If you are willing to provide me any unfair advantage, then I will have to respectfully decline."

    Cross and Araka stared at Seojoon in silence for a moment before giving each other a smile.

    "Hey Ara, I really like this kid."

    "Me as well, Cross."

    Cross and Araka stood up to match Seojoon before closing the suitcase filled with money. "Then as you wish, we will leave you and your character alone, no benefits that will give you an edge above other players."

    "Thank you for your understanding." Said Seojoon while bowing. "Let me guide you towards the exit-"

    "Mr. Kim," said Cross with a small little smirk. "Just because we said we would give up on providing you unfair advantages doesn't mean that we will give up on recruiting you, sir."

    Seojoon furrowed his brows. "If you want my face, then you can have it."

    "Ah, Mr. Kim. What we want isn't only your face." Said Cross. "We want your cooperation."

    "For what?"

    Instead of answering immediately, Cross dragged out the silence a bit while staring into Seojoon's eyes. "....Mr. Kim. Do you know who I am?"

    "...Aren't you the storyline writer for the game?" Answered Seojoon tentatively.

    "Precisely, I am a writer Mr. Kim. And what do writers wish to accomplish in their lifetimes?"

    "...they wish to create a story that everyone enjoys."

    Cross nodded his head sagely. "Well, you see Mr. Kim. This game is my story. And I wish to provide a storyline that every gamer is able to enjoy and immerse them into. I wish to create natural disasters that only heroes will be able to endure. I wish to create battles that will shower the entire world in a blood frenzy. I wish to express a love story that will tug on the heartstrings of all players."

    Cross stopped for a moment as if he was choosing his next statements carefully before proceeding.

    "We, staff members of the Rising Word design team, pride ourselves on our game's realism. How a player can sometimes forget that what they are doing isn't real, but a virtual game. Can you understand that feeling, Mr. Kim?"

    Seojoon nodded. He knew that feeling too well. Everyone in the game seemed so alive and real that it was hard to comprehend that everything was made from code.

    "However, Mr. Kim. There is still a slight difference between the INPC's and the Players. Some sort of hidden bias and arrogance maybe? I am sure that you have seen this while playing the game, yes?"

    Seojoon nodded. He recalled to what Mike and Zie said when he had first met them. How players tended to ignore their warnings and heat out into the field.

    "You are a gamer who doesn't like to take the easy way out, Mr. Seojoon." Said Cross with a smile. "But you are also a reader, a reader who wishes to experience a wonderful story to the fullest. In the end, there is a difference between a player and an NPC. One group considers everything to be real while the other doesn't. One refers to the other as, an Outsider."

    "Mr. Kim, no. Seojoon-ssi, as an NPC, you will be able to experience a world that isn't fiction but reality. Players who stick around you will automatically receive a quest that requires no effort from you. This will give others an edge over you but I feel like you are a person who likes a challenge."

    Cross outstretched his hand as if he was expecting Seojoon to shake it and smiled. Seojoon-ssi, let me ask you for the final time. Do you wish to stay a player, or do you wish to become a person?"

    "I-I...."

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    Seojoon stared at the outstretched hand with hesitation before ultimately grasping the hand firmly with his own.

    "I will accept."

    "That is great." Said Cross with a satisfied smile. "We will be looking forward to how the NPC Seojoon will be able to change the preconceived story that I have created. After all, all writers are innately also a reader. Now provide me a story that I can get immersed into, Seojoon-ssi."

    "I'll do my best, Mr. Cross."

    "I wanna shake hands as well-"

    *Crash!*

    Seojoon watched as Araka fell over and planted her face onto the table in a not so gentle manner.

    Cross sighed.

    "Please do excuse her. She does that quite often."

    "..."

    (A/N: join my discord for any questions (VERY TINY BITS OF SPOILERS) and a chance to complain at me, the author. Link is: <https://discord.gg/PGDAj78> I shall be waiting for you....)
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