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The Author’s Paradox

The center of the universe. The undisputed victor. The one who ultimately wins hearts and undoes enemies with a triumphant smile. That is the role of the protagonist. And all in their orbit are merely supporting characters in the epic that is their life. As for me? I was just a writer, whose words seldom echoed beyond the silence of my own mind. And when they did, it was in the form of a novel – my sole outcry in the vastness of literary oblivion. Until the day the thread of my life snapped… and in the blink of an eye, I was reborn. Inside my own work. With clenched fist and resolute soul, I faced the new reality. Reincarnating into one's own story seems promising, right? To be the immortal hero, the aura of invincibility, the inevitable romances. Except no. The plot twisted and I returned not as the hero, but as an extra – an NPC in the affable terminology of gaming. Away from the spotlight, on the fringes of adventures and loves, I am just a figure that completes the backdrop for others to shine. And honestly? What a relief! Why, you might ask, do I not wish to be the chosen one? Simple – protagonists are magnets for mishaps. Living on the edge of calamity? No, thank you. Death and I have already crossed paths; dramatic pretexts can keep their distance. Thus, I summon to the heavens my heartfelt thanks for this second anonymous chance. “Let me enjoy a stable life away from the limelight,” I plead fervently among tears of joy and resigned smiles. Yet, stifle that laughter. Know that these words, uttered in the innocence of a fresh start, would soon prove to be the prelude to an involuntary comedy. Because, it seems, even an extra can find themselves face to face with destiny. And so begins the most unexpected of journeys – one where the smallest of pawns may, somehow, change the game.

Superfabinho · Fantasy
Not enough ratings
64 Chs

Artificial dungeon [6]

With the air loaded with mysteries and a stench of trouble more pungent than a family dinner discussing politics, I advanced through the winding corridor of the secret passage. The profanation of the demonic aura, impetuous and not discreet, had acted as a fire alarm, and the standard protocol of the institutional "save yourselves" came into vogue.

As a general evacuation of students unfolded with the urgency of a data leak on the internet, I imagined Professor Lizy, a more mythical figure than a competent leader in times of crisis, already climbing the depths of the dungeon with her determination as ready as update systems at inconvenient times.

"Is it too late to drop everything and go to a deserted island?", I wonder, imagining a postcard with palm trees dancing in the wind - but reality was more like a generic wallpaper on the computer of a cubicle. No, instead, there were beastly commitments to be fulfilled on my calendar.

Resigned, like someone who finds out at the last minute that the meeting was not by email, I ran through the underground passage, stumbling on my own load of clumsy anti-hero. And then, stopping at the edge of the precipice, I found myself face to face with the nocturnal void of the unknown, that deep darkness like my love-hate relationship with the alarms of life.

"From here, it's the big guy's home..." and we all know how these boss domains work: a kind of home field advantage as unfair as a free lunch at a networking event. Environments of pure representativeness of the essence of the creature, with a customization worthy of a reality show of interior design.

Fully aware of the encyclopedia of clichés that I myself designed for the combat scenario, I was about to enter the channel of the monster's house, which by coincidence or bad mood of fate, was not a chamber full of festive memories, but rather a damp and gloomy aquatic hall - because of course, facing a colossal beast and avoiding water on the knees would have been asking too much.

At that moment of self-reflection, I could hardly believe the irony: I would have wished to have been cursed with the keyboard OCD and not have given life to my worst literary nightmare. There I was, in front of the creation of a monstrous replica of the tiny terrorist of the insect kingdom: the water bug. And who would have thought, my aversion was so great that, if I could go back in time, I would seriously consider the autotomy of literary limbs before letting this creature take shape in the pages of my manuscript.

If the simple snap of a common cockroach against the floor already causes a wave of collective shivers, this being that emerged from my own creativity was capable of raising fear to a level that would make any insect enthusiast convert to entomophobia. The giant bug, a member of the fauna of my most vivid nightmares, seemed to have escaped from the mind of an entomologist on a particularly evil day.

Facing you in a defiant attitude, he does not run away, no. He stares. He measures you. And he seems to declare a war against your entire lineage, in an ancestral hatred preserved in amber of antipathy and horror. The aggressive behavior raised to the maximum power, he would enter an imaginary ring, with the cockroaches applauding in the stands as a public thirsty for revenge from those jets of angry insecticide.

When nature equipped this abominable insect with wings, it was undoubtedly one of those meetings where all ethical brakes were put aside. Nature says: fly. Literature counters with: but let's close the windows, please?

In front of the sight of this boss, the 15 meters high seemed a metaphor of all my literary mistakes, all multiplied, and in neon. And the cherry on the cake: a demonic aura, like an infernal spotlight, bathed his exoskeleton, as if he needed more drama. Why did I choose this life? Who knows. The adrenaline was the same as the writers who choose suspense genres, who spend hours in front of the mirror trying to scare themselves and then describe the feeling with fidelity.

At that moment, fighting against every fiber of despair that wants to run to the nearest hills, I entered the hall, wondering if it would be easier to face the acerbically humorous literary criticisms than the monster of tangible pages with eyes inflamed by a pagan wrath. Ah, the life of a creator... as glorious as unpredictable, especially when you give wings to what should have remained on the ground.

Before the colossal aquatic insect that turned my nightmare into reality, the sound of my inner panic was almost audible - an opera of ultrasonic frequencies that even dogs outside the dungeon could appreciate. The creature rocked the environment with the subtlety of a natural disaster, stirring the waters until the old green placidity became an aquatic pandemonium.

A five-story building with antennas? Surreal. If renting apartments was an option, maybe we would prefer real estate agencies to this. As the monster lifted the slowest flight than an "sending" email, gratitude invaded my being. At least physics still applied some sanction to the absurd.

The word "Dismantle", more than an order, sounded like a mantra of a long-awaited revenge against the insect kingdom. The invisible cut was my signature in the world, a mark that divided the before and after of a battle on the edge of irrationality. The skill was not an action, but a statement: "Let the aura of invulnerability that surrounds the pests of this world be broken".

And so, my invisible blasts slashed the boss, segment by segment, carving the antipathy he inspired me. Legs, wings and fangs - every part of his body that contradicted my notion of aesthetics and common sense was a target. At the climax, a final cut bisected him, and the purple blood squirted like a gothic fountain, dyeing the water a gloomy purple.

The giant sank, and a sepulchral silence followed the aquatic explosion - it was the restoration of order after the chaos, as when you finally find the solution to a bug that has been tormenting you for hours on end.

Reflecting on the surprising ease with which the exoskeleton succumbed under the blade of my skill, a thought occurred to me: was it really my limited mana responsible for such a feat, or was something else at play here?

The sudden interruption of my triumphant reverie came in the form of twinkling lights before my eyes - a floating display that served as a digital mirror of my existence in the plane of this world of fantasy and terror. The status menu, a vivid confirmation of my progression, displayed itself as a page of virtual achievements.

====

STATUS

Name: Dean Corleone

Rank: E

Attributes:

Strength: E-

Agility: E+

Vitality: E

Intelligence: D- [UPGRADE]

Mana Capacity: D- [UPGRADE]

Luck: E+

Charm: E-

Profession: Mystic Swordsman Level 1

====

INNATE SKILL

Skill: Dismantle

Skill Rank: SSS+

Skill Description: Dismantle is a skill that allows the user to launch an invisible cut in a radius of up to 20 meters. The level of penetration and the range of the skill can be increased depending on the user's mana.

---

Observing the blue window in front of me, the bright digits painted a picture that, until then, had been hidden by veils of doubts and insecurities. The reflection of the numbers was the tangible proof of an evolution that I was still learning to understand and accept. Even though I considered myself no more than an average player on this board that was Terranova, the skill that I had just demonstrated was a powerful card in the game, a 'fatal cut' that even the most notable heroes would aspire to.

I was taken out of my reveries by the abrupt interruption of the system:

[Congratulations for defeating the boss: Weakest Water Bug]

[Having done this alone, you acquired the item: "Fangs of the dirt of nature"]

Oh?

The system was the backbone of this new world, a catalyst that brought order to the chaos left by the newly opened portals. It mediated every action, from viewing the status to entering unknown dungeons. However, while some lucky souls, like Sam, navigated with all the functionalities unlocked, most of us were stuck on the surface of this endless ocean of possibilities. We, mere silhouettes in the midst of the vastness of human potential, engaged with a reduced version of a grandiose system, using mere snippets of a much greater power.

And then, "Fangs of the dirt of nature" took shape before my eyes. A dagger with a blade of a deep gray, almost a reflection of the abyss, began to materialize, wrapped by a blue glow that seemed to capture the very essence of the mystery around it. The artifact was of a surprising beauty, indicating that more than an item, it was a trophy worthy of the journey endured.

The glow ceased suddenly as a breath held, and the dagger descended, firm, as a gift from the heavens, to settle in my hands. It was one more bond, an invisible but intense link, that connected my soul to the irregular trajectory of something that I was becoming. The dagger was light, balanced, and now, an extension of my will.

As I examined the elegantly lethal dagger in my hands, I couldn't help but think with a sarcastic corner of my mind. "Such a beautiful blade deserved better company than my incompetent fencing skills...", I lamented internally. The irony of receiving such a fine masterpiece, when my skills for this type of weapon were comparable to the talent of a fish to ride a bike, did not escape me.

It was when a voice, sounding like a storm in a glass of water, made me turn. The figure before me could well have been described as a failed attempt to embody a heroic character, only without the "heroic". White hair, possibly trying to make a style statement in a world where danger was as common as the air we breathe, and eyes of a blue that screamed "look how unique I am". His clothes and hair were adorned with what could be the new trend of Paris - if Paris were in a world where purple blood was considered a fashion accessory.

"What are you doing here?!" The surprise in his tone sounded so dramatic that it almost deserved a theatrical response.

I turned completely and could evaluate him better, raising an eyebrow in an expression that said "really?". The wounds and cuts that scratched his body were like medals of a war that he perhaps took much more seriously than he should. The daggers he held trembled - not because of the weight, clearly, but carrying the weight of the situation.

Oh, of course. He looked like the supporting character that everyone forgets to applaud when the credits go up - Blake was the name. After suffering an emotional eviction by Ellie, he had embarked on a personal journey of redemption for power and to prove that he was the one Ellie should love, a narrative that would be touching if it hadn't been so predictable.

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