Chapter 2:



Back in the official release, one of the most sought-after items was a Cosmetic for the Cape slot called the Wings of Perdition. It could only be obtained by the top-scoring player in the endgame Dungeon, Infernus.

While he wasn’t sure how the content was like after he left, Jason still remembered the stories he heard of Infernus. He was still too underlevelled to try it at the time, but even Lvl 100s were complaining about the nigh-endless boss rush at the last stretch. Only the truly skilled could clear Infernus. But to rank at the very top amongst the best—this claim was accorded to the one who owned the Wings of Perdition.

Players who reached the very zenith of the game were known as those who sold their soul to Aksara. And before him stood such a being—a god amongst players.

But there was no god in Maniavolution. Only a devil.

She extended her gloved hand to Jason, smiling. The same hand that ended the lives of so many players sweetly nudged him to get back on his feet. With combat fatal and escape futile, he had no choice but to accept the devil’s offer. A decision he most certainly regretted.

“You don’t seem like one of his fans,” she remarked with an air of innocence. Her thumb rested against her chin. Her petunia red eyes spelt curiosity, but he read deception, much like the lava flowing in the background.

“You can tell?”

“Mhmm, they would’ve told you not to talk to me at any cost. But I’m glad you did!”

“So…you’d let me go then?”

Her mouth shifted. Her body winced. It was as if she stifled a laugh after he mentioned something funny.

“Would you let ants that wandered into your home go?”

A shiver slithered up his spine. So that was how she viewed him. She considered him an insect. Her act of mercy was no different than watching a cornered creature writhe before its eventual demise.

But then—a chance.

In the periphery of his vision, he saw another newbie spawn in. Reading Jason’s expression, the winged player craned her neck, laying eyes on her second prey. Seizing the moment, he made a mad dash away from the threat.

He didn’t look back.

Perhaps she was toying with the other player? Taking her time as she did with him? He knew the odds of making it out in one piece were slim. But some odds were better than none.

As he ran across the precarious rock formation below him, his panting in real life became synchronised with his avatar. There was no actual physical exertion, just the pinnacle of virtual immersion—enough to trick the player. The further he ran, the bigger the lava wall ahead grew in size, but so too did his chances.

But then he stopped. Jason slipped at the worst possible time, falling forward a fair bit, a consequence of inertia. He quickly got up, only to skid forward once again. This wasn’t an accident.

He had lost both his feet.

His face warped in abject horror, seeing the green polygonal mesh at the bottom of the “stumps” that was supposed to be his feet. His right foot was flung several metres away from him, while his left…

…his left foot was comfortably in the grasp of the female player, admiring the extremity which she had just amputated. In the clutches of her other hand was the surgical instrument responsible.

Perhaps it was too crude to be called an instrument. Part halberd, part greataxe, the weapon almost seemed to glitch in and out of reality, reflecting both light and darkness in its translucent glory.

“The devs could’ve made the starter shoes a bit less bland. Don’t you agree?”

He kept crawling, ignoring her attempts at conversation. She had already dealt with the new player that spawned in. This was all just a game for her, which, to be fair, was true. But for Jason, he was doing everything in his power to not be sent back to the dreaded queue once more.

Maybe this was why almost nobody knew of Black Hat’s illegal activities inside Maniavolution. With a devil like this guarding spawn, no one would be able to venture further in.

The sound of whirring scrambled his thoughts. A mix of black and red swirled around the winged player, charging an attack that seemed deadset in killing him at range. Like a fish bleeding beside a hungry shark, an overwhelming sense of dread took over him.

With the sky above distorting into a storm, Jason accepted his fate. Maybe this was a doomed venture from the start.

Oh well. Back to the drawing board then.

He felt a wave of darkness washing over him, then his vision. Consumed by an endless void, he awaited to see the dreaded “YOU DIED” message.

Instead, all he saw was the wall of lava ahead.

He was back in the exact same spot. Still on all fours, or twos, since he had no feet, but death didn’t take him, oddly enough. He turned to face the female player. Her eyebrows strained while her head tilted, dumbfounded by what she has just witnessed.

Looking at the ground, he saw the marks left behind by her attack. The beam of darkness clearly left scars on the ground, but none on him. The attack had undoubtedly hit its mark, but there was no damage?

Confused, Jason pulled up his HUD, a feature that was hidden from him for the sake of immersion. There, he saw the answer:

[ HP: 0 / 0 ]

His health bar was filled to the brim with green, but the numbers beside it told a different story. His max HP was locked at zero. For the female player, it looked as if he was just staring into the distance. But for him, he was stupefied. He simply couldn’t comprehend the phenomenon that was happening to his character.

“A godhack? How are you NOT triggering the anti-cheat?”

Her free-spirited demeanour was gone, replaced with accusations of hacking. For someone like her, crushing a player a hundred times lower levelled than her should be as easy as breathing. But the fact that she was looking at a player and not a death crystal was a perversion of that reality.

Realising that his feet had just regrown, he stood up, still reeling in utter bewilderment.

“I’m not hacking. It says my HP is zero out of zero. Did you do something to me?”

But instead of answering, she charged the blade of her weapon. Expanding with malicious energy, the axe part of the polearm appeared to change form into the head of a fanged beast. Readying her weapon for a slash, she closed the distance instantly with a single teleport, defying both space and time as she brought down the hungry maw of her axe onto its victim.

Jason saw the blade cleaving his body diagonally from shoulder to waist. The polygonal mesh doubling as the massive cut on his body was proof of that. Yet, like before, no actual harm came to him. The damage numbers appearing above his head read “zero”.

The female player realised that he was speaking the truth. Earlier, her attacks generated nine-digit damage numbers. But her latest skill, [ Void Edge ], had the property of dealing a fixed percentage of damage based on the target’s current HP, bypassing the Defence stat completely. The “zero” that just appeared confirmed his assertion.

“Do you believe me now?”

“Wait. Let me confirm one more thing.”

Her hand reached out towards him. Red sparks of electricity emanated from her hand dangerously.

“Touch it.”


“My hand. Touch it.”

This reminded him of those “pull my finger” pranks. But instead of a fart, he knew for certain something worse was coming. Nevertheless, he had already survived everything she threw at him so far. How would this be any different?

The moment his palm touched hers, he instantly collapsed, spazzing out on the ground like he had a stroke. She had inflicted him with Paralysis, much to his annoyance.

“So it really does seem like your HP glitched out. You still get CCed just fine.”

He tried to respond, but because of how Paralysis worked in-game, players found it difficult to talk. He could only shoot a hateful glare at her as his body resembled that of an octopus trying to breakdance.

“So you can’t die…that means you can swim in lava, go out of bounds, fall from any height…wait, does falling from a high place kill you?”

Her child-like curiosity was met with the silent reenactment of a doll being cleaned in a washing machine. Just like a doll, he too, had an empty stare that pierced the soul. Maybe this was how the term “ragdoll” was coined.

“Holy shit!” she swore as a lightbulb went off in her head.

“WHAT?!” having just recovered, Jason’s fury made his question sound more like he was saying a slur.

“This is it! We can finally beat Cosmolore! You’re the key!”

“The only thing I’m going to beat is your ass!”

Tired of being assaulted, Paralysed AND being left in the dark, Jason whipped out the Wooden Sword in his inventory, thrusting the tip into her chest.

[ Crit! 0 DMG ]