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997 Intersection of Past, Present, and Future 2

 The man-made radiance enveloped the dark sky.

Rhode lifted his head. The round moon and stars were nowhere to be seen. Instead, various, endless lights shone from below. Rhode stood from a tall height, clearly witnessing the spotlights converging into a river of light that flowed forward. The entire world was as though an ocean of light. The virtual idol appearing on the massive screen on the wall was smiling and displaying merchandise in her hand. The searchlights shone from below, leaving a gloss on the night curtain.

"What should I say about this..."

Rhode stood at the side of the street, looking at everything. He extended his hand and tapped on the vending machine. But what he felt wasn't the ice-cold sensation that he remembered. Instead, his hand passed through the machine made by modern technology as though it were air. He shrugged at this sight before turning around and gazing at the triangle building towering into the clouds. It was around evening now. Even though the city was still bustling with clamors, the place he was at had gradually quietened. There was no one else around. Apart from the pure, white radiance shining from the row of solar-powered street lights, there was nothing else.

"I suppose this is the place."

Rhode sensed that this wasn't a world of his illusions. Instead, this world was real-it existed and didn't exist at the same time. Just like him, this world had as though been split into two: one was a true presence, the other a reflection in the mirror. Rhode raised his hand again. A faint white light enveloped his body while the entire space shook. Then, he tapped on the vending machine lightly.

Knock, knock.

The crisp tapping sounded. The vending machine shook slightly. Upon sensing this familiar sensation, the corner of Rhode's mouth lifted. He clenched his hand into a fist and glanced to the sides, before striking the vending machine with force this time.

Pow!

The vending machine shook violently. Then, three to five drink cans fell out from their rows and rolled out from the outlet. Upon detecting the rough treatment, the vending machine instantly let out an ear-deafening screech that split the night sky. But Rhode wasn't mindful at all. He lowered his head and picked up the drink cans that had rolled to his feet. When he lifted his head, he coincidentally saw the reflection of the glass window as the convenience store owner exasperatedly charged out of his store, looking left and right while standing by the vending machine. But Rhode wasn't any longer there.

"Phew..."

Rhode shivered in comfort as the ice-cold, carbonated drink flowed down his throat smoothly. Then, he tossed the emptied and squashed can into the trash can beside, before picking up another can and strolled to the tall building in front of him. Rhode was familiar with that building. Every player of Dragon Soul Continent was familiar with it. The building was the sanctuary in the hearts of players and also the birthplace of this game.

B\u0026M Company.

Rhode sauntered into the building after the large entrance door slid open silently. The entire lobby was brightly lit, but there was no reception staff or guards seen anywhere. The surveillance camera adjusted its angle slightly to have a clear view of the man clad in strange attire. But it also didn't seem bothered by his presence.

Ding-dong.

A crisp electronic sound rang and the lift beside him opened its door. Without the need for verification, Rhode lifted his head and entered the lift. Then, the lift door slowly closed, before ascending the floors. Rhode shook the cola in his hand while scanning the place. The man-made electronic radiance seemed so dazzling that gave him a misconception that he was in a dream. He didn't know whether the world was a dream or reality. Was it the world that he had lived in for over 20 years reality? Or was it the dream-like, fascinating continent filled with the glory of flames, swords, and magic? If this world was reality, who exactly was he? A crazy Internet addict? Rhode let out a bitter chuckle at this thought. If this was just a cultural-oriented movie that sought to win an Oscar, would the truth for him be that he would eventually be admitted into a mental hospital as a character of the script? Or perhaps he had never left this world and all the encounters he had were simply a plot that he came up with during his stay in the hospital. Did he imagine the doctors, nurses, and patients as characters of the game, while he transmigrated to the gaming world to continue his love for life as a player? Yes, duh. This development of the story would be an ultimate shift in the trend of events... The dense literary atmosphere, questioning of life in reality, and the harsh cruelty of society... If he were to commit suicide for not being able to accept reality, that would definitely be great enough to at least be shortlisted for the Oscars, right...?

Ding!

The brisk ringing of the lift bell pulled him back from the thoughts that were 80,000 miles away. He lifted his head and gazed at the lift door opening gradually. It was complete darkness outside as though everyone had knocked off from work. But the moment he stepped out of the lift, the lights shone automatically as though guiding this lost soul.

Come to think of it, this seems like a plot to a horror movie. Could it be that I've gotten myself into the reality version of the 'Haunted Office'[1]?

Rhode swirled the can of cola in his hand and strolled forward. There was no reception staff to receive him, but he was clear of exactly where he was. He sensed the massive presence waiting for him at the end of the corridor.

The door opened.

The spacious meeting room was in complete silence. He scanned the room and quickly saw four extremely familiar people sitting down and looking at him. The corners of his mouth lifted slightly. He pulled out a chair and sat down.

"Everyone, should I say 'long time no see' or 'nice to meet you for the first time'?"

"Long time no see, Mr. Rhode."

The man seated on the leftmost, looking almost 30 years of age, said with a smile. He pushed up his gold framed glasses lightly. Sitting beside him was a woman of around 27 years old. She wore professional work attire and a kind, genuine smile was plastered across her gentle face. Although she simply sat there, one could feel as though she was constantly gleaming in rays of light. On the other side, there was a pair of sisters. They seemed about the same age as Canary, but were also clad in the uniform of B\u0026M Company.

Rhode was familiar with the four of them. Every player of Dragon Soul Continent knew who they were, as well as the history of B\u0026M Company. It was especially so after this holographic, virtual-reality game exploded in popularity around the world where third-rate news companies had even uncovered their three generations of ancestors. Of course, this was only an exaggeration and it was a pity that the paparazzi weren't experienced enough because Rhode couldn't remember reading a rumor about 'B\u0026M Company CEO and President were transmigrators from another world'.

As the top player, Rhode often participated in company events organized by the B\u0026M Company, where he interacted with many employees. The man sitting on the leftmost, Arthur, was the CEO. The woman beside him was the President, Serena. The pair of sisters were the rumored genius engineers. The elder sister was Ningmi and the younger sister was Ningjing. All of them came from different countries, had unique identities, and eventually arrived at the same path in building this game that became globally popular. Even though Rhode knew that they were remarkable people, it seemed like now... They seemed more marvelous than he imagined.

"Alright then, I suppose we should introduce ourselves?"

"Of course."

Arthur smiled in response to Rhode's question. Then, he tidied the streaks in his suit and continued.

"Allow me to introduce myself. I'm the Dark Dragon, Arthur."

"I'm surprised. I expected the Dark Dragon to be more of a solemn character behind the scenes."

Rhode said, twitching his brow. He was serious when he said it, especially after recalling Ion's indifferent face while looking at this smiley and friendly Dark Dragon before him. He felt like the contrast was too huge. Arthur didn't respond to Rhode's remarks. He simply maintained his smile and shortly after, Serena introduced herself.

"I'm the Light Dragon, Serena. I'm delighted to meet you again, Mr. Rhode."

This Light Dragon sure lives up to its name...

Rhode gazed at Serena and compared to Lilian in his mind. He discovered that Serena and Lilian were somewhat similar. They had a similar aura of light glowing around them. But unlike Lilian's, Serena's was much more steady and perfect as she completely made up the areas Lilian lacked. Rhode even felt like Serena was rather dazzling. But that was only for an instant. He quickly shifted his gaze to the remaining sisters. Upon sensing his gaze, they chuckled and waved their hands at him.

"Greetings, Mr. Rhode. I'm the Judgment Dragon, Ferlyn."

"Greetings, Mr. Rhode. I'm the Ruling Dragon, Jess."

How interesting.

Upon meeting the sisters, Rhode immediately recalled Gracier and Madaras. If they could speak, perhaps they would be similar to this pair of sisters. But these two... Could it be that they had been living in the secular world for too long? They didn't seem like Creator Dragons. Instead, they seemed more like two superstars holding an autograph session with the fans.

"Greetings. Everyone, I suppose you're aware that I'm the current Void Dragon, Rhode."

Rhode stopped fiddling with the can of cola and let loose of the can in his hands. Then, he lifted his head and gazed at the four of them.

"Now that we're done greeting one another, I suppose we can get into the main topic now. I think we have some questions to answer," Rhode said.

[1] A Hong Kong horror film released in 2002.