"Master, this disciple will be going into seclusion tomorrow." A handsome young man spoke as he stood before an old man that radiated with a profound aura.
This handsome young man was Bai Tian, a disciple of the White Dragon Sect, one of three Sects within the White Heaven Valley, a secluded place that is only known to its residents and very few people in the outside world.
"You are going into seclusion again? You came out of one just two weeks ago." The old man spoke as he caressed his long, white beard, his eyebrows raised.
He was Zhu Jiang, Bai Tian's teacher and also the Sect Leader of the White Dragon Sect.
Bai Tian nodded with a serious expression on his face and spoke in an earnest tone, "I am on the verge of another breakthrough, and this one feels especially important."
"This would be your seventh breakthrough this year. At this rate, you'll surpass me in the blink of an eye." Zhu Jiang laughed in a merry manner.
Then he continued, "How long will you be in seclusion this time?"
"I'm not too sure, but this one might take a little longer than usual, since I am going to be entering a new realm."
Zhu Jiang nodded, "I understand. You may take whatever supply you need from the treasury for this seclusion, I will send them a message about it after this."
"Thank you, Master. This disciple will try his best to not disappoint you." Bai Tian clasped his hands and bowed.
"Nonsense. When have you ever disappointed me? You are the White Dragon Sect's pride and number one disciple. If anything, you always exceed our expectations."
"This disciple isn't worthy of such praises." Bai Tian remained humble.
After Bai Tian left the place shortly after, Zhu Jiang walked to the window and looked up into the clear sky.
"Not only is he immensely talented, but he is also very diligent with his cultivation. He is intelligent, humble, respected by everyone around him, and loved by many. How can anyone ask for more from a person? He is truly the perfect Cultivator, and it is my– as well as this Sect's greatest luck to have him by our side." Zhu Jiang mumbled as he stared at the sky, his gaze filled with joy.
Meanwhile, Bai Tian had a bright smile on his face as he walked out of the Sect Leader's building.
'Yes!' He balled his hands into fists and squeezed it from excitement for some reason.
The other disciples from the White Dragon Sect would greet him as he walked past them.
"Good morning, Senior Brother Bai!"
"Good morning." Bai Tian would return their greetings without stopping his legs.
"Senior Brother seems to be in a good mood today, did something good happen?" The disciples began speaking to each other as his figure disappeared.
"He's always in a good mood."
"No, he is especially happy today for some reason. I can tell."
When Bai Tian arrived at the treasury, there was already someone waiting for him.
"Welcome back, Disciple Bai." A middle-aged man greeted him with respect.
"I will be relying on you again today, Elder Chen."
Once they were inside, Bai Tian started giving a list of things that he needed for his seclusion.
Elder Chen would return shortly after with the items in hand.
"Good luck with your seclusion, and don't push yourself too hard. You're still young and have plenty of time to improve yourself."
"Thank you, Elder Chen, for always being so thoughtful." Bai Tian said as he grabbed the items and tossed them into his spatial ring, a unique and convenient treasure that allows one to store many items inside and carry it around without needing to worry about the size or weight of the items.
He left the treasury afterward.
'Even though I won't be using most of these items, I still need to keep up with my appearances.' Bai Tian thought to himself as he made his way to the White Dragon Mountain, where all disciples go to cultivate in seclusion.
The White Dragon Mountain is a large mountain that touches the cloud with its peak. There are over a hundred man-made caves in this mountain that are used as rooms for seclusion.
Once someone enters a cave and closes off the entrance, nobody will be allowed to disturb them, making it the perfect place to focus on cultivation.
Being the disciple of Zhu Jiang, who was the Sect Leader of the White Dragon Sect, Bai Tian had the highest level of privilege and was allowed to cultivate in one of few caves at the peak of the mountain, where the spiritual energy was most abundant.
Spiritual energy is what Cultivators require and absorb to increase their own cultivation. In other words, the source of their power. Without it, they are no different than ordinary mortals.
Once he had chosen his usual cave, Bai Tian entered it and closed off the entrance, separating himself from the rest of the world.
"It's almost time! I have been waiting for this moment since its announcement three years ago!" Bai Tian laughed out loud, not afraid of being heard because of the soundproof environment.
He proceeded to retrieve a spatial ring that was different from the one he usually used and pulled out something that did not look like it belonged to this world.
It was a long, oval-shaped machine that resembled some kind of portable sleeping pod with the words Royal Capsule engraved on the sides.
If Bai Tian had placed this machine anywhere within the White Heaven Valley, it would look so out of place, in contrast to the place's traditional and even ancient-looking environment, like it's some kind of alien technology.
"Finally! I have been itching to take this out since I had it delivered!"
Tears almost came out of his eyes when he recalled all of the effort he'd put into getting this machine delivered to the secluded White Heaven Valley without being noticed by the others.
Since the White Heaven Valley is a unique place secluded from the rest of the world and most of its residents are forbidden from leaving, it would be impossible for Bai Tian to acquire the machine that only existed in the outside world, where Cultivators did not exist.
Furthermore, Bai Tian had a secret that isn't known even by his own Master, and this machine would expose that said secret, so he had to be extra careful with its existence within the place.
"Now that I am in seclusion, unless the Sect is under attack, there is virtually no chance that anyone will disturb me! I'm sorry, Master, but I will not leave seclusion until I play this new game to my heart's content!"
Indeed, Bai Tian's secret was that he'd play video games in seclusion when he is supposed to be cultivating. If his fellow disciples and admirers learned that their idol was living such a life in seclusion, not even the heavens could tell how they'd react.
While the White Heaven Valley remains in ancient times with their cultivation methods, the rest of the world has moved on, becoming technologically advanced.
In fact, they have advanced so much that cultivation has become nothing more than a fantasy– something that only existed in fictional novels and video games.
The Royal Capsule that Bai Tian had smuggled into the White Heaven Valley is a technology born from the modern world, capable of playing the newest video game, High Fantasy Online.
High Fantasy Online's main attraction was its surreal virtual reality experience, which was advertised as the world's most realistic game. This allowed the players to experience a world only possible within their imaginations. Magic, mythical beasts, unlimited opportunities– all of that was waiting for the players inside the game.
Bai Tian had only discovered the existence of video games four years ago by chance, and he hasn't been able to stop playing them since then. One could even call him an addict. However, he has his reasons for being so attracted to video games.
"The White Heaven Valley is arguably a large place, but it could all be explored in a few short years. Once you see everything there is to see here, it quickly becomes bland and boring." He sighed as he stared at the capsule.
Bai Tian has always been the adventurous type, but with the seclusive nature of his environment, it was impossible to fulfill his desire to explore the world.
While some of the most trusted elders are allowed to leave the White Heaven Valley, it would take centuries before Bai Tian is given such a privilege, and he didn't want to wait that long.
That's where video games come in. After learning about them, Bai Tian had explored dozens of unique worlds and had countless exciting adventurers in the past four years.
"In four short years, I have seen and experienced more than even my Master, one of the oldest and most experienced individuals in this place. Although these experiences are not real and only exist within video games, they feel real enough. I cannot wait to see what kind of things I will experience tomorrow in High Fantasy Online."
Bai Tian was filled with expectations, especially with the hype surrounding the game.
After making sure the entrance to the cave was properly sealed, Bai Tian opened the capsule and laid inside it.
It felt like he was inside a coffin, but it was incredibly comfortable, almost as though it was made to fit his body perfectly, and he could even breathe fresh air with the lid closed.
"The game may not officially start until tomorrow, but I can still create my character before that."
He pressed the power button and waited for the capsule to boot up.
Although the White Heaven Valley is mostly traditional and very outdated in technology, they still utilize some of the more convenient commodities from the modern world, such as electricity and certain electronics, or it would've been impossible for Bai Tian to play video games.
Shortly after the power turned on, Bai Tian heard a soft voice speaking inside the capsule, "Scanning the player's body."
"Registering the player's unique ID."
"Your unique ID is..."
"High Fantasy Online will start in 3…2…1."
His consciousness began fading away.
When he came to, he found himself no longer within the confines of the capsule, but instead a small, white chamber. As he surveyed his unfamiliar surroundings, his gaze was drawn towards the far end of the room, where a luxurious golden throne rested in stately splendor.
As Bai Tian stood transfixed by the majestic throne, pondering its enigmatic origins and the identity of its owner, a figure materialized seemingly out of thin air and seated themselves upon the gleaming throne.
The unexpected arrival of this mysterious individual, shrouded in an aura of otherworldly elegance, filled Bai Tian with a mixture of wonder and awe.
The figure that had materialized before Bai Tian was a strikingly beautiful woman with an ethereal face. Her long, flowing hair was a lustrous shade of gold, cascading down her back in soft waves.
But what truly set her apart from any human Bai Tian had ever encountered were the two pristine white wings that sprouted from her back, as though she were an angel descended from the heavens. Her presence was suffused with a divine energy that compelled all who beheld her to feel a sense of reverential awe and obedience.
This beauty would stare at Bai Tian in silence, and in return, he would stare back at her.
After a moment of staredown, the beauty broke the silence and spoke in a clear voice, "Welcome to High Fantasy Online. Although the world isn't accessible for another 30 hours, you can still create your character right now. Do you wish to continue?"
"I do." Bai Tian nodded without hesitation.
"Your character will bear the same appearance as your real body with some adjustment depending on your race, and this is solely to decide your race. Are you ready?"
"I will now ask you several questions. Your race in High Fantasy Online will be determined by your answers. Are you ready?"
'So I cannot choose my own race, huh? This is new, not that it really matters to me.' Bai Tian thought to himself.
"Go ahead and ask the questions," he said a moment later.
The beauty proceeded to ask him several questions.
"Question number one. What do you seek in the world of High Fantasy Online? Unlimited wealth? Widespread fame? Tyrannical power? Or something outside of these three?"
Bai Tian quickly responded, "I simply wish to experience the world. In other worlds, I desire an exciting adventure."
"Question number two. Your family has been murdered, and after chasing down the culprit for years, you have finally cornered them. However, they beg for your mercy. How will you respond?"
'What a question…' Bai Tian thought inwardly, taken by surprise a little.
After pondering for a few seconds, he responded with a calm yet terrifying smile, "If the murderer can somehow survive one of my strikes, I will let them live, as the heavens clearly have other plans for them."
The beauty became silent. Bai Tian wasn't sure if she was processing his answer or simply dumbfounded by it.
"Question number three. Your hometown is being invaded by monsters. You can either defend it with your life or escape with your life. What will you do?"
"I can't imagine that being invaded, but if it does happen, I feel sorry for the invaders. They have no idea what's in store for them. Of course, I will be there to protect it." Bai Tian chuckled at the thought of being invaded.
"Question number four. You are given the chance to conquer the world and all of its beings. Would you seize this chance?"
"Conquering the world, huh? Sounds like a hassle, so I will pass. I'd rather play games all day."
"Question number five. If you could have any one thing in this world, what would it be?"
Bai Tian pondered for a moment before responding, "A place where I can play games to my heart's content without needing to worry about anything else."
The beauty continued to ask him a series of questions that would expose his human nature and morals.
Many questions later.
"Question number thirteen. If you could choose your race in High Fantasy Online, what would it be? Here is a list of races that are available."
A list of races appeared before Bai Tian on a transparent screen.
'I thought I couldn't chose my own race...' This made him wonder.
However, Bai Tian didn't even look at it and said, "Whichever race that will allow me the most freedom and opportunities."
The beauty narrowed her eyes at him, almost as though she was trying to read his mind.
"Last question. What is your name?"
Without hesitation, Bai Tian uttered a name that he'd been using since his very first game, "Black Heaven."
Another window popped up.
"I have selected your race and class based on your responses," said the beauty as Bai Tian looked over the information.
[Class: Martial Artist/Cultivator(Hidden)]
"..." Bai Tian was left speechless when he saw his class.
"I play video games to escape the cultivation world, and you're telling me to be a Cultivator here as well? Do I have no choice regarding this matter?" He asked the beauty.
"Are you questioning my decision?" The beauty narrowed her eyes with an oppressive aura slowly being emitted from her body.
"I'm just asking if it can be changed," he calmly shrugged.
"No. Goodbye." The beauty coldly refused and immediately flicked her arm, sending Bai Tian elsewhere before he could say anything else.
The next second, Bai Tian found himself in the void with a number counting down above him.
"Thirty hours until the game is available, huh."
Despite having over a day left, he didn't log out and decided to wait all 30 hours.
"My interaction with that winged woman just now felt incredibly realistic, almost as though I was speaking to a real person. Will the other NPCs also be like that? I cannot wait to find out." An excited smile appeared on Bai Tian's face as he silently counted down every passing second.