Chapter 272: Joshua’s Ultimate Wish
To be honest, Joshua hoped for Montra to let go of the burden known as the Wulin Masters Association . That was why he was willing to spend his time explaining each of his points in detail to Montra . However, he knew his efforts were in vain when he saw Montra’s expression change from a stiff mask to a mysterious smirk .
Joshua had no one to blame but himself . He should have known that it was pointless to persuade Montra . Montra was the kind of person who would die if it meant he wouldn’t lose . The more people told him that his goal was impossible to achieve, the more eagerly he would work to achieve it .
To not give up no matter how many obstacles there were before him or how hard it got—That was Montra’s magic . It was the only magic he had, unlike what Sanon told Sila .
“I have gone too far to back off . There will be a method if I keep looking for it . Hopefully, I will not have to rely on your method . ”
Joshua raised his brows . “Do you know what method I’m going to suggest?”
Montra nodded . “I didn’t at first . You said it was a method that I would have to abandon my life for, but the war event will happen in the game, so that didn’t make any sense . However, that changed when I heard that the association is in danger . If it’s really true that the association is in a grave crisis that makes the Elders favor Sila so much, that means they have no time left . After Sila and me, there will be no other candidates . As long as I can make it so that the Elders can’t choose Sila, they will have to select me even if they don’t want to . ”
“Mn . I actually don’t want Sila to die . Nevertheless, regarding the value of life, your life is more important than Sila’s . I want you to stay alive . I promise I will help you in any way I can . My only condition is that you have to become an Independent NPC . ”
Listening to the proposal that would fill anyone else with joy, Montra frowned . If he got help from the Game Master, it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that his victory would be set in stone . Still, his expression was icy cold . A proposal that seemed too good often came with deadly poison .
“Honestly, what do you want from me? Why do you want me to survive?”
“Or do you want to die? I did some calculations . You only have 360 hours left in real life before you die . That is about two weeks . It isn’t enough for you to make any significant changes . ”
“Using Grand Deity’s Breathing was my own decision . I am ready to accept the consequences of my choice . Dying in two weeks? So be it . ”
Joshua smiled . “What if that wasn’t exactly your own decision? What if I told you it was my trap? I know how you think, so I sent Altia to warn you about Grand Deity’s Breathing before your fight against Kimon . Thus, when you were about to lose, you were reminded of it and activated Grand Deity’s Breathing’s final stage . Your weakness is your stubbornness . Hearing that I warned you not to use it, you were more eager to use it and prove me wrong . As it turns out, you have fallen right into my trap . ”
Montra was listening silently . He couldn’t read Joshua’s motive behind his polite expression at all .
Joshua continued, “It was my intention to let you scan Grand Deity’s Breathing’s scroll into the game . In fact, it was none other than me who put it in the Wulin Masters Association’s Profound Library . Don’t you find it strange that a dark art just so happened to fall into your hands when you were searching for a method to compete with Sila’s qi art? More importantly, Monster Soul is a game that many members of the association play . There is obviously a program for preventing people from bringing dangerous profound arts into the game . Despite this, you could do it so easily . Have you ever wondered why?”
Montra was still unable to guess Joshua’s motives . In any case, if what Joshua said was the truth, that would mean he had started falling into the trap a while ago . It was, in every possible way, a distasteful experience . He didn’t like it at all .
“Let me ask you again . What do you want from me?”
“Withdraw from the selection . Let Sila win, and I will help you live longer . If you refuse, I will tell the Three Elders about your remaining lifespan . With this information, they will have the option to prolong the crowning ceremony even if you win . It is exactly as you said, Mister Montra . There are no other candidates left . When you die, Sila will eventually become the Wulin Lord as he will be uncontested . ”
Montra stood up as he started laughing wildly . “Hahaha! You have a way with words, but you’re no different from all the others! Sure, do it! Everyone wants me to lose . You are just another one of them . I don’t care . I will still win if I can end Sila’s life . Between the man who is already dead and the man who will die in two weeks, the Elders will have no choice but to crown me . ”
Looking into Montra’s unyielding eyes, Joshua let out a big sigh . The hard way didn’t work with Montra . It seemed he would have to explain more for the young man to understand him .
“Please calm down and sit down first . I was too rash just now . It seems I will have no choice but to explain some matters to you . Otherwise, you won’t understand why I’m doing this . The bottom line is I want your cooperation . I’m sorry for not being mindful about how I obtain that . Please listen to a bit more of my story . I guarantee that it will be beneficial to you . ”
There was a mournful feeling flashing in the depths of Joshua’s eyes when he was looking at his wife .
Montra wasn’t a kind person, but his business in this place had yet to end . Thus, he sat down in the chair and poured tea into his mouth . The Goddess then refilled his cup .
“Thank you for your attention,” Joshua said . His tone was sincere .
“I just haven’t gotten the reward from the quest yet . Until then, you’re free to say whatever you want . ”
Joshua showed a weak smile . It seemed he had to be more honest in order to get the cooperation he desired . “To tell you the truth, I’m not quite a member of the association, though my close relative is . I’m a scientist, and my primary field of research is the human brain, brainwaves in particular . Allow me to ask you something . What would you think if I told you that Monster Soul is just one large research project?”
Montra nodded . “That sounds plausible . I always thought this game is too lawless . The money conversion rate is also too high . True, gold coins are hard to obtain, but it’s not that hard . Everything will make sense if I think this game is actually a research project with a large amount of funding . ”
“Correct . Every player and monster is a test subject in my experiment, examining the change in brainwaves when placed in certain situations . The high money conversion rate is just a means to lure people to play the game . No matter how harsh the game is, there will always be some players interested in the game so long as the reward is high enough . ”
“What is the topic of your research?” Montra cut to the chase . If he knew the research’s objective, he would naturally know Joshua’s motive .
However, Joshua avoided the question by continuing his explanation . “Studying human brainwaves has helped me discover many things . I also got to complete Elder Mora’s request to copy every profound art into a database . Even if something serious were to happen to the association, all we need to do is burn the Profound Library to keep our secret . Every word of each profound art had already been recorded on the server .
“Still, those things I discovered were merely byproducts of this research . All this time, I’ve had but one purpose, one goal . Cynthia . ” As he said this, he interlocked his fingers with his wife’s .
“What do you mean?”
“She may be here right now, but the truth is… my wife passed away many years ago . ”
Montra sighed as he looked at Joshua, his eyes filled with disappointment . “I have read the research paper about people who felt deeply connected to AIs . There were even those who had fallen in love with AIs or deceived themselves into thinking that AIs are living beings . What people like you really need is a psychiatrist . No matter how real an AI seems to be, it is just a chunk of code . ”
Joshua shook his head . “I understand what you mean, but you are wrong . Cynthia is not an AI . She has her own free will . It’s just that she can’t log out . ”
“Impossible,” Montra interrupted, “The dead can’t use a brain scanner . ”
“Scientifically speaking, there is no ‘not possible . ’ There is only ‘not possible yet’ . ”
Montra’s eyes showed curiosity . “Intriguing . This is a huge discovery if you’re telling me the truth . But . . . I have never heard such a thing before . Could it be that you didn’t announce your scientific success?”
Joshua showed a mocking smile, directed at himself . “A huge success? No . This is still far from my ultimate goal . At the very most, this is only halfway . ”
Montra knew Joshua would continue the explanation soon, so he kept his mouth shut, waiting patiently .
“Actually, this was a discovery made by my big sister’s research . She found the method to convert memories into digital data . Even the dead can forever stay alive in a virtual reality world so long as their digital signature exists . It’s one of mankind’s ultimate dreams since the ancient era—Immortality . ”
Montra’s hand on the teacup came to a halt . Joshua’s story seemed completely absurd and impossible, yet he had a feeling that Joshua wasn’t lying .
He turned to observe Cynthia . Her expressions and actions were so realistic, no different from a living person’s .
“Cloning is easy in this era . However, what makes a person who they are is not their physical appearance, but their memories . That was why I told you I have only reached the halfway mark . I’m looking for a way to convert her digital data back into memories and place those in her clone, perfectly reviving her . ”
Montra’s teacup remained in his hand, unmoving . He looked at Joshua with mixed feelings . However advanced technology became, reviving the dead had always been a mere pipe dream for humanity . What Joshua wanted to do was play God, bestowing life through science . Most people would call him a mad scientist or a crazy man for pursuing this ridiculous dream . Montra was not one of those people though .
That was because Joshua had already made significant progress toward his goal . He had gone further than any scientist before him . Additionally, it was a method that even Montra himself thought might be possible after listening to it .
“This is why there are many dead people living in the world of Monster Soul . Some are Independent NPCs while some are in slumber due to incomplete memory conversion . Just so you know, some special monsters such as Ramiel, Sebastian, and Altia were actually real humans who died when they were young . I raised them in this world, making them think this is the real world . There are many more cases, including patients with bizarre brainwaves . They are all subjects of my research for the sake of achieving my ultimate goal . ”
Having listened to this long explanation, Montra still couldn’t see how he was related . Thus, he asked his question for the third time .
“What exactly do you want from me? How am I related to your research?”
“From my findings, I have a theory that each person is born with some kind of talent . That is why some people can do a particular task relatively easier than others . Although people often call it aptitude or specialty, I prefer calling it talent . Each person has it the day they are born and lose it when they die . ”
“You are talking about MacDougall’s experiment? The weight of the soul?”
‘The 21 grams experiment’ refers to a scientific study surrounding the hypothesis that souls have physical weight, based on the fact that one of the test subjects lost about 21 grams in weight at the time of their death for no reason . However, because the weight loss was not reliable or replicable, the findings were regarded as unscientific . Scientifically speaking, it was argued that the missing 21 grams could be the result of the subsequent rise in sweating caused by the deceased’s lungs no longer cooling blood .
“Similar, though I believe that it’s more about a brain’s latent ability . I let the system analyze unique patterns from each player’s brainwaves and replicate it in their in-game avatar . Sila was the first to get my attention . His brainwaves are quite special . It has the ability to stimulate the brainwaves of anyone he interacts with .
“The findings I got from him helped my research progress a little . There was at least one person who woke up from her coma thanks to him . She was a girl named Bow . Moreover, there is one more who is showing signs of waking up . His name is Narin—the one who you know as Zero, the Shadow Emperor . ”
“How is Zero right now?”
“He is currently in a temporary hibernation state . I can’t do much more than maintaining and monitoring his condition . ”
Hearing that Zero was still alive, Montra felt quite relieved . “Continue . How do I relate?”
“You will know soon . Regarding Sila, I used to think that he might be able to make my wish into reality since he had the talent to stimulate patients into waking up from comas . However, I missed the point . That wasn’t my objective . It’s just another byproduct of my research . What I aim for is a method to revive the dead, not wake up a person in a coma .
“And that is where you come in . I used to believe that you didn’t have any talent at all . It wasn’t until you met Sila that I noticed my mistake . Your brainwave remained stable even when Sila’s brainwave was stimulating yours . There was no change at all . That means your talent is the ability to remain unaffected by stimulation . It’s the talent that I would have never noticed if not for Sila .
“A huge hurdle of inserting human’s memory into a clone is the unstable nature of the brainwaves . If I can study your brainwaves in more detail and replicate them, we will have a chance to revive the dead, including Cynthia . ”
Joshua said this with the voice that failed to suppress his excitement . It was natural . His ultimate goal was closer to completion than ever . It was now within reach .
“I have one more unused special brain scanner left . If you agree, I can transport you to it in order to study your brainwaves in greater detail . I guarantee your safety . In addition—”
Montra raised his hand, stopping Joshua from continuing . “I have heard enough . ”
“Does that mean you’ll cooperate?”
Montra shook his head . “No, I won’t . Give me the quest reward already . It’s time for me to go back . ”
Joshua’s eyes trembled . He couldn’t believe what he just heard . “Why? Don’t you understand that this is such a big moment in scientific history? If we can achieve this, that will mean we can overcome God . That was why I said you didn’t understand your importance . Don’t let something as trivial as the Wulin Masters Association—”
“It’s you who doesn’t understand,” Montra interrupted, refusing to listen to Joshua any longer . “Humans can’t become God . Memories are precious when they are memories, not something you convert and exchange . True, your research is amazing . However, it’s not something you should attempt . Growing old and dying is the beauty of being a human . The only flower that can bloom forever is an artificial one . Birth, sickness, old age, and death are humanity’s blessings that add color to the world . They aren’t something you should try to destroy just because of your personal desires . ”
Killing intent could be sensed from Joshua as the teacup broke into pieces . Montra hurriedly jumped backward and summoned his magical spear into his hand .
For Joshua, it was understandable when Montra declined his offer before he explained his plan . However, turning away even after knowing the truth and the importance of his research? It was unacceptable .
Indeed, humans can’t play the role of God . Nevertheless, that was the law in the real world .
In the world of Monster Soul, Joshua was a being above God . Montra had no way of inflicting even the slightest injury on his body .
“Maybe I have been too kind to you, and that makes you unafraid of me . Maybe I have to give you a taste of despair first before we can come to an arrangement . ”
Joshua stomped his right foot on the ground, which caused Montra’s left arm to shake in accordance . He frowned as he realized that Joshua was about to use the Right Leg of the Sealed One—the most powerful weapon in Monster Soul .
“A spear . ”
Kararus—the Right Leg of the Sealed One—exerted its power once it heard Joshua’s command . A black spear measuring two meters, with a red tassel wrapped around its tail, protruded from the ground .
Joshua grabbed the spear with one hand . His eyes were as sharp as an eagle’s .
Montra knew that Joshua chose a spear for their duel as Joshua was aware of Montra’s proficiency in spearmanship .
A battle between spear masters often ended in an instant . Montra didn’t dare to be careless . He immediately brought out the power of Grand Deity’s Breathing at the very start of the match .