When the true nature of the Magic Metaverse Tournament was revealed by the Game Master, a wave of even more aghast expressions appeared before him, triggering him to laugh hysterically once more. This was the Game Masters favorite part of being the host of the Magic Metaverse Tournament, seeing the faces of those who weren aware of the truth and of those who knew the truth but were still surprised to see their suspicions be proved to be accurate. Most nations lied to their citizens, claiming that each participant grew so rich, that they were able to disappear from the public eye. However, this was far from the truth and was simply used as a cover-up for the real reason they disappeared.

The only ones that knew about the true nature of the game were those involved; organizers, world leaders, government officials, gamblers, and investors. The creators of the tournament decided that making the stakes as high as possible, by including their lives, would make the games much more interesting. They were right, as trillions upon trillions of U.S. dollars were given to the company per year from investors and gamblers alone.

Despite the public being unaware, the participants were sure to put on a show since their lives were on the line. It was seen as simply being a very competitive game, rather than a survival game to those unaware. It was the perfect setup.

As the Game Master said participants who died in the game would die in real life. Their families were offered money to lie about their child having moved elsewhere. Though almost every family refused at first, everyone had a price.

Of course, there were forums online discussing theories about the disappearances, but these were all censored by most nations, especially the ones that claimed that becoming a Magic Duelist was a privilege. Using any sort of VPN was also illegal in most nations, so gathering censored information was a huge risk.

Kamari, as well as most citizens in Eswaria, had their doubts about the legitimacy of the Magic Metaverse Tournament. They didn have many censorship laws in comparison to other nations, so many had seen the theory crafting forums. Regardless of Kamaris suspicions, he was still partially surprised to see it for himself.

”That is all, you may all return to your quarters or the lounge. Training will begin tomorrow with the Game Mistress and the first set of duels will be a month from now. Use what youve learned to stay alive. ” with that said, the masked man walked away, leaving his minions to clean up the mess behind him and the young participants stunned. ”Oh, and one more thing. ”

the Game Master said as he stopped in his tracks. ”If you discuss the rules of the game, specifically about what happens when you
e eliminated, you will be silenced permanently, as will the recipient of the leak. ”

Shocked, traumatized, and frightened, the young duelists stood in place as the Game Master strolled out of the arena. They all looked around at each other like lost puppies, not saying a single word to each other. This wasn a game, it was far from it. It was nothing more than a massacre being filmed for other peoples enjoyment, they knew that now.

Little by little, the participants trickled out of the stadium and toward the main area of the facility where the dorms and lounge area were, though none of them were in the mood to socialize in the lounge anymore. No one said a word as the silent crowd of young adults walked to their rooms like mindless sheep. The ones who were joking around for the entire day seemed to have been hit the hardest by what happened, never having expected such a horrible truth.

Tom and Kamari found themselves in their dorm room, neither one seeming as detrimentally affected by what had just happened in comparison to their peers, but they were still in shock. It took nearly an hour of silence between the two before either one could say anything to the other.

”You alright, mate? ” Tom questioned Kamari as the Eswarian looked out of the fake window with a blank stare. The sun was setting soon and he didn want to miss it, even if it was just a simulated one.

”Yeah. ” Kamari responded plainly, acting as if he was unphased at what he had just seen. However, he was only lying to himself. He couldn get rid of the tight feeling in his chest, no matter how hard he tried. Now that death was so close, he was starting to feel as if he were afraid to die.

”So you knew about this? The dying in real life bit? You don seem razzled one bit. ” Tom asked, truly surprised at Kamaris almost inhuman nonchalant facade of an attitude.

”I saw some theories about it online. I wasn sure if it was true or not… Im assuming you knew? ” Kamari replied, asking a question of his own.

”I did. Me brother was in last years competition. He didn come home… our parents were hiding something so I connected the dots, I saw some forums on the web, and I thought about my brothers phone calls. He sounded… afraid. Every single time. Like he wanted to say something but he couldn . I now know why he couldn . ” Tom was staring blankly at the ground as Kamari looked at him through the reflection of the fake window.

”I heard once a family has a child that enters, that family is safe from being chosen again. Why are you here? Its something thats been bothering me. ” Kamari asked.

”You
e an observant one, aren ya? Because I have unsettled business, plus Ive got nothin to live for at this point. Me brother was me best friend, ya know? Without him, I don really care what happens. So I thought Id see whats happening here by volunteering as tribute. ” Kamari turned around to look at Tom with a bleak gaze as he said this, realizing he and Tom were more similar than he thought. Beneath Toms happy-go-lucky facade, he was a broken boy, much like Kamari was.

”What happens when you settle that business? ” Kamari questioned.

”Guess well see when we get there, yeah? ”

”Right. ” Kamari paused, looking out of the window one last time before walking toward the door. ”Im going to step out for a bit. Ill be back. ”

The young Eswarian stepped out of the room and began walking down the chrome halls alone with his hands in his pockets. He couldn help but feel bad for Tom, but he also feared those feelings of empathy turning into something more. Though it had only been one day, he felt himself getting closer to Tom, which horrified him. At least one of them was guaranteed to die within the next year, perhaps even both would perish in the tournament.

If they were to grow closer, if they were to become friends, Kamari was afraid of losing another brother.

As the boy strolled through the silent halls, he remembered from earlier that day that there was a fake window with a perfect view so he headed straight there. When he entered the lounge, he immediately recognized that he wasn alone. The window, the one that he planned to view the artificial sunset through, was already occupied by another.

Sitting in front of the window, Kamari could see the girl with orange hair from before. She was alone, only being accompanied by her Chronicle. Through the reflection of the glass, she noticed Kamari standing behind her and he noticed her noticing him. He started to turn around, not wanting to appear even more creepy than he already did, but the girl spoke to him.

”Wait. ” she said, stopping the young man in his tracks.

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