Mahn Li woke up to a crushing headache.
Groaning, he tried to grab his head but failed, his arms waving feebly, his motor control had not completely been restored yet.
After a while, his arms were functional again. He rubbed his temples and tried to ease the throbbing pain, but to no avail.
"Not this again?"
It made no sense that he would experience mental fatigue. He had been making a point of playing in moderation, only a few hours at a time, with rests in between sessions. For the last two weeks he had been eating a lot healthier and exercising regularly.
After making sure he could move, Mahn Li stood up and began making his way to the bathroom.
Without warning, the migraine tripled in intensity. His leg gave out and he collapsed on the floor.
Feeling a dull pain on his right knee, he looked at it and saw it was cut and bleeding. Apparently he had bumped into the table as he fell. However, he didn't feel anything much from the cut. Everything paled compared to the pain in his head. A high-pitched ringing was in his ears, blocking out every other noises. It was like something was squirming inside his brain, trying to force its way out.
His vision blurred and everything around him distorted. He screamed, but no sound came out. He closed his eyes, and gritted his teeth, willing the pain to go away.
After a few endless minutes, the pain left, as suddenly as it came, leaving behind a vague tightening sensation on his head and his neck.
Sitting up, Mahn Li noticed his knee was still bleeding. The cut stung quite a bit, but didn't hold a candle to what he experienced just now.
He hobbled to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, cleaned up the cut and bandaged it.
As his sense of hearing returned, the sound of someone pounding on the door became clear, as did the shouting.
"Hey! Everything okay in there?" Finally he could make out the words. Someone was calling from outside his room.
"Ah..." He tried to answer, but his voice came out ragged. His throat hurt. Had he been screaming?
He cleared his throat and tried again.
"I'm... I'm fine now!"
"You were screaming for five minutes straight! We thought you were being gutted or something!"
"Yeah... I got a, um, appendicitis, I think!"
He made his way to the door and unlocked it. Half a dozen tenants gathered outside and looked at him with worry on their faces.
Embarrassed, he assured them he would have his appendix checked as soon as possible, apologized for causing a ruckus and thanked them for their concern. After they left, he closed the door and slumped down next to it.
"What the hell just happened?"
Checking the watch, he realized it was time for dinner. Throwing together a quick meal, he ate mechanically without tasting anything. After a shower, he collapsed on the bed in a fitful sleep.
Manco woke up in the tavern.
Immediately he felt something was wrong. Calling up the interface, he noticed the blinking notification.
〔 Witch's Marking 〕
〔 You've been marked. Every time you are not inside a settlement, the one that cast this curse on you will know where you are 〕
'Where does this come from?'
Muttering in confusion, he opened his inventory.
The gun was gone.
Panicking, he cycled through the tabs. It was nowhere to be found! It wasn't in his equipment slot either!
"What the fuck?"
Opening the activity log, he began reading from the latest entry.
〔 You have died. Cause of death: Killed by player Morana 〕
〔 Item durability decreased. Please avoid dying too often 〕
〔 Item dropped: The Collector. 〕
〔 Soul Tethering activated. Item returned to bound location. 〕
〔 Item dropped: Mimicking Master's Monocle 〕
〔 Item dropped: Cloak of Concealment 〕
"What the hell happened?"
His head spun from all the questions. How did he died without remembering? Had his account been hacked?
Vexed, he kept scrolling up the activity log.
〔 Nine-fingered Nina: Be careful, it looks like there are someone over there… 〕
〔 You are Silenced. Spells that require a verbal chant are no longer usable. Duration: 5 seconds.. 〕
〔 You are Blinded… 〕
〔 You are Slowed… 〕
〔 You are Weakened... 〕
〔 You are inflicted with Witch's Marking〕
〔 OneShot hit you for 47 damage. You were affected with Bleeding. 〕
As he read, flashes of memory came back to him. He was escorting Nina out of town when he was ambushed by Morana's group. It was by the ruin of an old windmill. They unloaded a barrage of status effects on him, and overwhelmed him with sheer number. He managed to kill two of them, but failed to escape. As he died, he dropped the gun (which thankfully returned to Mistwood Village, it looked like he would have to make a trip back there later) as well as Morana's monocle and the…
"Hang on, Cloak of Concealment?"
It sounded like the cloak Morana had used in the Lich's chamber to turn invisible. When did he get that?
"It doesn't matter. It's dropped now anyway," shrugging, he continued reading.
〔 Quest failed: An Alchemist's Woe 〕
'Dammit!' he sighed. He wasn't sure what happened to Nina afterward. Hopefully she was okay and it was possible to salvage his reputation to her.
"But why did I go out in the open like that? It doesn't make any sense!"
Scrolling up, he found out the reason.
He had used the '(Birthday) Suit of Disguise' picked up from the Flesh Puppet Master's corpse back in the farm. It allowed him to take the appearance and name of an NPC, and could even fool people using the Inspect functionality. He checked the item in his inventory. Indeed, the current form was Henry the random drunk.
Using the suit, he turned into Henry, met Nina at the east gate and traveled with her to the east.
"Then how did they figure out it was me?"
After a while, he still couldn't come up with the answer. Just another one in the growing pile of unexplained mysteries.
'This is insane!' Frustrated, Manco rubbed his face. Then he realized his right hand was wearing a new ring.
〘Ring of the Mighty Scholar〙(Unique)
- Requirement: level 50 or lower
+ Base HP regen +10%
+ Base MP regen +10%
+ Base SP regen +10%
- Passive Effects:
+ As long as the user wears this ring, his Strength is always equal to his Intelligence. Whichever attribute is higher will be applied to the other attribute.
+ 55% chance to drop upon user's death.
"Where did this come from?…" Checking his inventory, he found another piece of Beta gear.
〘Amulet of Trueshot〙(Unique)
Type: Attachment (Ranged Weapon only)
Effects: Weapon range +10m. Bonus Accuracy.
Active Effect: Trueshot
+ Twice per day, user can activate the 'Trueshot' ability and identify the target.
+ The next shot never misses the target.
+ 10% chance to drop upon user's death.
It seemed he had somehow acquired the ring, amulet and cloak. Did he ambush them somewhere, or did he win them in duels?
"This is so confusing!" scratching his head, Mahn Li summoned the interface and select 'Quit to Menu.'
At the empty room of the menu, Mahn Li stared at his avatar standing on a platform.
"Hey, buddy, mind telling me what happened?" He asked. Manco didn't reply, only staring back blankly.
Shaking his head, Mahn Li called up the full activity log, which filled up the four walls.
"Shit!" he blurted out. It seemed like he had been quite busy during the last 48 hours.
And had somehow blanked out all of it.
** Author's note:
(1) No, you didn't miss any chapter.
(2) Yeah, the lack of foreshadowing (other than a headache back in the chapters with the Corruptor boss fight) is poorly done on my part. But the jarring and confusing narrative is intentional. I don't wanna ease readers into a memory loss scenario.
(3) This is a big one:
- The rewrite will come after this arc ends.
- The new story will (probably) not be posted on Webnovel and, naturally, will not be paywalled. I'll explain in a later chapter.
- In the mean time you guys might want to stop gifting, as I won't be able to receive them.
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