At the end of the tunnel, three players were observing the goblin settlement while waiting anxiously.
As far as they could tell, the Goblin King had apparently been defeated. And the large number of goblins that had been around having vanished.
“The sound suddenly disappeared, maybe is it the right time to go…?”
“Yeah. It’s been quite a long time.”
Extinguishing their blue-white lanterns, they stood up.
The blue-and-white lantern has the effect of repelling evil, and it is very useful when you need to rest or hide for a while.
“I finally found you!”
A cheerful voice echoes from the tunnels, and the three people turned quickly toward the voice and saw a female player in beginner’s gear standing there, with her chestnut-colored bob cut swaying while waving her hands.
The three looked at each other and exhaled in relief.
“What are you doing in a place like this?”
“Are you lost? Or you looking for someone?”
As the three slowly approach the woman, and when they notice that a dark-haired man in armor is also nearby, the three immediately raise their guard at once.
“Are you from the Monshou?”
“Uh, no, sir. I’m here to help you on my own!”
The woman’s words brought smiles to the faces of the three again.
Apparently, she had come as an appetizer, they whispered.
(Suutaro and the others have already removed the threat, but I still need to finish what I’ve come for.)
Misaki was relieved to see the three of them slowly walking out of the darkness while carrying their lantern, but she wondered why they hadn’t entered the fierce battle zone and stayed right here.
(But something is strange – come to think of it, there were originally two of them, and now there are three.)
Misaki now notices that the number of blue dots has increased; there were only two before she entered the tunnel; in a normal state of mind, she would notice this right away.
Misaki’s face becomes tense as the three faces are illuminated.
“Nice to meet you, young lady. By the way, what levels are you?”
“I’ve never killed a woman before.”
The man with the hood over his face and the man wearing a gray rag smiled evilly.
They were the lucky players who passed through the very narrow gate of only 100 winners during the beta period. They were also well known as maniacs who went around killing every player they could find in open areas, accumulating so much negative karma that they couldn’t even enter a city.
One is Kijima, the PK who goes on a rampage in the beta test, and the other is Black Dog.
And the last unknown man pulled out a flaming sword and said
“Our target is the Monshou, right? Is it okay to kill here?”
The last one is Kidd, a man who had once sworn revenge to Black Dog for the killing of his friends.
Black Dog and Kijima, who had been unable to enter the city due to their karma values that had gone deep into the negative, had been making a nest in the tunnels and knew of this invasion from an early stage.
They knew the Monshou Guild would be eager to stop the invasion, so they planned to wait until the invasion matured and the Monshou took initiative to attack first; in the midst of that, they planned to kill players who went into the tunnels and took their items.
In the beta era, cities whose gates were destroyed by the invasion will lose their safety function system, allowing PKs inside of a city. These PK-ers were planning to take advantage of the chaos of the invasion to get into Aristolas.
All to devour the 350,000 frightened people inside Aristolas as they wished and enjoy [real murder], and unexpectedly, they’ve succeeded in recruiting one of the normal players to their own ranks.
The man they recruit is Kidd.
“I was afraid that we screwed up our plan because we overlooked the clairvoyant. If it was Alba, it’s possible for him to beat us, but you’re just a useless rookie, aren’t you?”
“Indeed, it will be ridiculous to face the top and second ranker (Wataru and Alba) at the same time. Well… its looks like both are exhausted by now. It’s a shame to lose the all-you-can-eat 350000 player banquet, but the prospect of eating all those elite from Monshou doesn’t seem like a bad deal at all.”
The frivolous-looking duo laughed while in contrast, Kidd scratched his head in exasperation.
Kidd had been working as a spy inside the Monshou since he was found in these tunnels.
<You… also on ‘this’ side, right?>
<I could tell by the look on your face when you were in beta.>
<I have an interesting story to tell you; you can choose to ride or die here after that.>
That was the devil’s whisper Black Dog uttered to Kidd.
Kidd was on his knees back then, if he refused, only death would await him; however, driven by emotions other than fear, Kidd took up his offer.
Even though it was meant in exchange for his life, this is something that could not be experienced in modern Japan, and even though his comrades were killed in front of his eyes, his heart danced with a [great thrill] that surpassed his desire for revenge.
And when he heard the plan from Black Dog, his desire got the better of him.
But what does this mean?
It means that Kidd was a latent psychopath; it was as simple as that.
Even though Kidd failed to take advantage of the chaos and draw Alba into the tunnels after the 17th Unit was destroyed, he was lucky enough to learn of the appearance of an irregular Misaki with her unique skills, and thanks to it he was ready to plan an attack the day of the raid.
Black Dog attacked Alba, and Kidd was missing from the front line with a pretense of chasing him.
The result was a quickly tilted power balance of the battlefield towards Monshou’s disadvantage, which made the already difficult battle worsen at a rapid pace.
That, of course, was part of the plan of these three men.
If the Monshou somehow managed to defeat the King, it is good because they can then eat the weakened people from behind, and in the event that the raid party is beaten, it would be great for the three because they would be able to overrun the non-combatants in Aristolas after the gates had been destroyed by the invasion.
“The truth is, I was going to ask you to pull a few people along with the surprise attack, but I knew you didn’t have a talent for acting.”
Black Dog sighs as he pats Kidd on the shoulders.
Misaki was perplexed and baffled, and she had no idea what these other people were thinking.
Based on their conversation, it is clear that they are discussing killing the Monshou, and it is also clear that they are not just some people who got lost inside the tunnel.
Looking at the confused Misaki, Kijima laughed.
“Well, you said you come to help? We don’t know who you are, but you must be a real idiot to come all the way out here to meet us and get yourself killed.”
Misaki’s voice trembled as she shouted.
“Talking about killing people who were trying their hardest to survive!? We’re not data! We’re people who live here, don’t you understand!?”
Kidd held out his hands in mockery.
“This is an easy world to understand, right? The strong can do what they want. After all, there are no laws here! You can kill people, take their money, eat whatever you want, have women, sleep whenever you want… it’s a waste to try to escape from such a wonderful world, don’t you agree?”
Hearing the three men’s laughter echo, Misaki bites her lip so hard that it bleeds.
(I can’t believe they were just criminals when I thought they were a player in need of help… I feel so stupid and frustrated that I didn’t use my head a bit better….!)
Three men then attack Misaki.
Misaki, terrified by their bloodshot eyes and expressions and unable to move, defends herself with a dagger, but each man thrusts his weapon into Misaki’s neck, chest, and back.
As Misaki braced herself, a display flashed in her eyes.
A text pop up three times in total, and the meaning of the display was immediately clear.
“What the… you monster!”
“Are you a front-line player? No, there’s no miss. It means our level is not differed by that much.”
All three PKs’ attacks were repelled. At the same time, they were scared and astonished by this fact.
The reason why it was repelled is because the current Misaki’s LP is now linked to Theodore’s, and Theodore’s [Dragon King Protection] had temporarily raised Misaki’s status to the equivalent of that level 80.
Furthermore, her piece of equipment is exceptional.
Because it was designed for Suutaro, the materials used are of the highest quality, and it’s filled with Theodore’s skill, causing its performance to exceed anything normal people could imagine.
In this world, even the concept of [hardness] is determined by a series of numbers. Even if you thrust a well-sharpened blade into someone, if the number difference is too great, the blade will not even scratch your opponent’s skin.
Fearing a counterattack, the three men move away from each other.
Misaki collapses with her eyes wide open.
Misaki’s heart was pulsating to the point of bursting, and she had lost her will to fight due to her inability to react at all to the three men’s movements and the fact that she had nearly been killed by the attack.
She was lying on her face as she pressed her right hand against her chest while gripping tight the dagger in her left hand.
“Are we done?”
Silence fell once again in the tunnels.
The faces of the PKs changed as they saw Theodore slowly pulled out an evil-looking sword on his back and leisurely approached them.
Theodore may not be much of a talker, but deep inside, he is a fighting maniac. Just by taking one look at him, they can feel how “good” he is.
Something is coming; that’s what their instincts screamed.
Theodore drew his great sword, and with a quick and sharp slash, the three human figures turned into particles.
It was a very quick death, and just like that, three lives disappeared in front of Misaki’s eyes, she shed tears for the umpteenth time and looked at Theodore with empty eyes.
“I am sorry. I already knew there were bad people in the place you wanted to go, still… I’m sorry for giving you such a bad feeling.”
Theodore put his sword back and apologized to Misaki. Still unable to say anything, Misaki only shakes her head.
I was even given a weapon, yet, I couldn’t do anything with it – was a regret she felt towards her benefactor.
(This man knew. He knew that I was leading him to these criminals. But I, without knowing anything about them, can only stand still in fear.)
If only she had given it some thought, it was obvious.
Things would have gone differently if it had been a player at the inn instead of Theodore who she dragged, or even Flame, the gentle woman who consoled her, or it could be Alba or even Wataru… in the end, all she could feel fast a disgust towards her own action based on insufficient knowledge and biased sense of justice.
Still, she was grateful.
It was undeniably thanks to Theodore that she was able to live and feel this emotion.
Misaki gazed silently at the place where three people’s lives vanished, while Theodore stood there silently, saying nothing more until Misaki stood up on her own.