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22 The Empire’s Capital

    Seojoon glanced at his phone for a moment and sighed.

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    Damned Cross. Seojoon threw his phone onto the sofa before making his way to his gaming capsule in the corner. His father gave him a happy smile from the capsule that lay in the corner next to Seojoon.

    "Seojoon, just stay near the south entrance gate. I'll come and find you. Make sure to stay hidden, or we might have trouble moving around."

    Seojoon nodded in reply, causing his father to once again have a goofy expression on his face. ".... I can't believe it.... I'm actually playing with my son."

    Seojoon sighed before closing the lid to the capsule and shutting his eyes. After a few moments, he opened his eyes and got out of his bed.

    Yesterday night after Seojoon had practiced his skills on a few crazy dogs, he had arrived at the Capital and quickly found himself a relatively cheap inn to rest in.

    He walked out of his room and went down the stairs. The innkeeper, who was a middle aged man, saw Seojoon and waved goodbye as he opened the door left the inn.

    The empire's capital was very different from Beginners Village in many ways. The roads were made out of smooth cobblestone that had been seamlessly placed together and there were no streets near the sidewalks. The amount of people that Seojoon could see was almost incomparably larger then the village. Even with streets being about four carriages wide, Seojoon could still barely walk in a straight line without bumping into someone.

    Although it wasn't as crowded as places such as Hong Kong, Beijing, New York City, or England, it was still an amazing sight.

    As Seojoon made his way to the entrance gate, his eyes flickered towards the tall walls that circled the entirety of the capital.

    Very different from the flimsy wooden fence that he had seen in the village, the capital had large stone walls about two stories tall. Mountain like watchtowers stood guard along the circumference of the wall, armed with giant crossbows, casting a dauntless and impregnable aura to the entirety of the capital.

    Seojoon turned his head backwards and saw an even taller wall than the one in front. This wall was made out of metal and was about three stories high. They also had watchtowers around the circumference which were loaded with dangerous looking canons.

    "Oi, look forward to see where you are going."

    "Sorry sir, my bad."

    Seojoon apologized to the man he had accidentally bumped into and once again faced the front. He now could see the heavily guarded entrance gate and a big tree that stood proudly about fifty feet away from the gate. Under the shade of the tree was a person who weirdly reminded Seojoon about his dad.

    "Dad?" Seojoon called out as he tried to catch the person's attention.

    "Oh, Seojoon! You arrived. Come over here!"

    Seojoon met up with his dad and flinched when his dad casually threw something at Seojoon with a sly grin. Seojoon caught it and realized that it was a mask.

    "Use it to cover your face," his dad said with a shrug when he saw Seojoon's confused face. "Since you are well known now, it would be a pain to stop every five seconds to sign a picture or take a selfie."

    Seojoon wore the mask and gave his father a thumbs up. "Nice save, dad."

    "It's nothing," said Seojoon's dad with an unmistakable happy grin, "So what do you want to do? Kill some monsters? Do some quests? Fight some players?"

    Seojoon furrowed his brows as he debated over his choices and answered with "Why don't you give me a tour about the capital? I just got here last night after all."

    His dad placed an arm around his neck laughed. "Let's get going then shall we? But let's go have a meal first, I'm starving. I know a good place."

    "Sure." Seojoon was feeling hungry as well and saw no reason to refuse.

    "Oh sweet, I just got a quest from you, Seojoon. Nice."

    "...."

    His father took them to the west side of the capital to a somewhat popular bakery with sweets and pastries. They had some light coffee and some cake and prepared to leave when Seojoon decided to buy some bread to eat later on. As Seojoon bought the bread, he was reminded of Amy the baker from the village and smiled.

    "I wonder how she is doing right now."

    "Who are you talking about?" Asked his dad curiously.

    "No one, let's go shall we?"

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    Suddenly, a child ran in front of Seojoon and his dad forcing them to come to a stop. The child wore ragged dirty clothes and had matted hair. The child stretched out his hands as if he was begging for something.

    His father sighed before staring at the child with eyes filled with pity. "The game designers really did a good job in making this world as realistic as possible. I can't help but forget that this is all a game."

    Seojoon stared at the child and didn't know how to reply other then, "Why? Why are they like this?"

    His father sighed. "It's because the empire doesn't wish to help the poor. And we can't blame them. There are just too many people who are suffering to help them all."

    "Can't they provide free meals once a day?"

    His father shook his head. "Helping the poor wont bring any major benefits to the empire so they see no reason to provide aid. Besides, there are some nobles that strongly believe that normal civilians are inferior and deserve to be left at the mercy of the gods."

    Seojoon speechlessly faced the child once more as his father let out another sigh.

    "Real world problems dragging itself into the virtual world. To make matters worse," said his father with a bitter look, "helping these children don't give any benefits so no one wishes to help them.... Every coin is precious to the players, so why would they want to help the poor children who don't provide anything in return?"

    Seojoon slowly crouched down and patted the child on the head. The kid flinched as of expecting pain but then relaxed when he realized that Seojoon meant no harm. Sadness filled Seojoon's chest and he felt something heavy tug in his heart.

    Seojoon's dad sighed again before rummaging around his clothes, "I still believe that helping these kids is the right thing to do, once coin at a time. Let's see, where was my coin pouch?"

    Seojoon watched as his dad took out ten cooper coins and place them into the child's hands. Throughout the entire process, the child never broke eye contact from Seojoon's eyes as the child let out a silent plea for help and assistance.

    However, when the child received the money he pocketed it immediately and turned around to stare at something. After a moment of hesitation, the child took a deep breath before biting his lip and held his hand out once again.

    "I-I'm Sorry, I really can't afford to give you any more money," replied his dad with a sad look. The child started to panic and held out his hands even higher with eyes that revealed desperation.

    Seojoon followed the child's gaze and saw two little girls, barely even four and two, hiding in a small dark alley holding hands as they worriedly watching Seojoon, his dad, and the little boy begging for money. From the way they were dressed, Seojoon came to the conclusion that the two little girls were with the boy who was begging right in front of him.

    Something in Seojoon snapped as Seojoon took out the warm loaves of bread that he had bought for his own consumption and gave it all to the child.

    The child widened his eyes in disbelief before staring up at Seojoon with a confused look.

    Seojoon only smiled in response and ruffled the little boy's hair gently. "Go take this bread and feed your sisters. Don't eat it to quickly or you will choke, okay?"

    The boy nodded, still in a daze, before dashing off to the two little girls while treating the bag of bread in his two arms as if it were treasure. Seojoon watched as the boy gave two pieces of bread to his sisters and start to eat.

    All three of them had a wide smile on their faces as the tore into the bread before disappearing into the dark alleyway.

    Seojoon felt a hand pat his back and turned around to see who it was.

    "Well done, son. Well done."

    His father wore a warm smile that revealed how proud he was as he continued to pat Seojoon on the back.

    "That was a nice thing for you to do."

    "It was the right thing to do...." said Seojoon as his gaze still lingered on the dark alleyway where the children had disappeared into.

    His father waited for a moment or two before smacking Seojoon on the back. "There is a church in the capital somewhere who are accepting donations to help homeless children.... do you want to go hunting?"

    Seojoon nodded after a small pause. "Yes."
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