28 – Old Bowman, Black Shadow
Below me was a cat who was sharpening her nails.
She was a player who specialized in speed.
I would be carved up the moment that I returned to the ground.
“Once more, Floating Cloud!”
I used Floating Cloud again in order to make a platform so that I could move towards the fortress.
I had used one during the previous battle, and was using one right now to stand on.
While Floating Cloud was a powerful skill, it had restrictions.
You could only use it three times in one hour, and they only lasted for five minutes.
And I needed to make it back to the fortress…!
I used the elasticity of the cloud to launch myself into the air and land on the next one.
And without losing any momentum, I jumped from there to the fortress.
“Ugghh…! Alright, I was able to land on the defensive wall…”
Now I would be able to shoot from here without worrying about the time limit.
The problem was that the cat girl had not moved from her position.
I had assumed that she would come in for a followup attack…
Also, while my equipment had changed a lot, she also looked quite different from before.
She used to look a lot more simple, like a standard, early neko-mimi type from an rpg.
Now, she was more of a ‘kuro-neko.’ Her entire set looked very gothic.
Which only made the white glimmer of her nails stick out even more.
The reason that the number of enemies had decreased so rapidly…yes, it must be because of her.
She had pretended to be one of them and then become invisible when she killed, so that no one would notice.
There could not be a better way to take advantage of the chaos of battle.
Not only that, but she wasn’t just killing the enemy, ‘Blue Deer,’ but also Red Boars as well.
And in this event, it was impossible to kill teammates…
So that meant that she was from the third army, the Green Butterflies!
But I couldn’t understand why she had traveled so far to this specific battlefield.
However, now that I knew she was here, I couldn’t just ignore her.
“Hey, this event… It’s really boring, isn’t it?”
She was suddenly talking to me…!
And it was the words that hit hardest to players who were playing seriously…!
Not only that, but it brought back horrible memories of when I worked at a game company…
“Do-do you think so? I’ve actually been enjoying this event… Uh, do you have problems with balance… Is that it?”
I wouldn’t be surprised if the players that I killed felt it was ‘lame.’
After all, they had died without being able to put up much of a fight…
Even I thought the game was a little rough in terms of balancing systems and the rules.
However, that was how most games were like.
Games were new worlds made by the hands of people.
And if the real world wasn’t perfect, then the game world would not be perfect either.
There would be inconsistencies and people would complain.
But there was one thing I could say as a former developer.
And please just buy the game…!
“No, I don’t really care about the balance.”
So it wasn’t that…
I had gotten war flashbacks for nothing.
“I don’t like events like this, because an individual’s strength hardly matters.
Everything depends on how eager my teammates are, and matching is a matter of luck.
I can’t really control anything that leads to victory.
Don’t you agree?”
“Uh, well, that’s not wrong.”
“And that’s why the battle royale was amazing… I was able to use all of my own strategies and win! Had I lost, it would have been my fault alone.
And winning was all because of me! I know some people prefer these large scale battles because they don’t have to accept responsibility for losing.
But I’ll never understand that.”
“Then why did you join this event?”
“Because I want the rewards.”
“And since I’m here, I’ll do my best.
My aim is to get to the top of the individual ranking.
That’s the best and surest way to win the most rewards for myself.”
And so she came all the way out here on her own.
It was true that if she was with teammates, the number of personal kills would go down.
But wasn’t it scary to sneak into an enemy army while you were alone?
Besides, weren’t you supposed to have your emblem on your armor?
Especially since she would be surrounded by other players.
Surely someone would notice…
“I know what you’re thinking, old man.”
She turned her back to me.
And when she raised her hair, I could see a tattoo of a green butterfly on her neck.
“I bet you didn’t know that they could be placed on exposed skin? Of course, you’re not supposed to be able to do it if your hair covers it.
But that can be ignored if you just change your hair after placing it on.”
In other words…it was a trick.
Now that I thought back on it, there had been others I had killed who had the emblems on their skin.
It was actually quite popular…
People would put them on their cheeks, foreheads, thighs…
But surely covering it with your hair like that was practically breaking the rules?
While it would be exposed if she moved around, it would be difficult to catch during battle.
Well, I suppose it was management’s fault for allowing it…
It was pretty impressive that she had discovered it.
And even in this event, she knew exactly what she needed to do, and was playing seriously.
While she seemed young, perhaps she was a pro gamer…
“Well, now that I told you, I’m going to go and hunt down what remains of Blue Deer!”
“You don’t want to fight me?”
“Regardless of the player’s strength, 1 kill is just 1 kill.
So there is no point in taking someone like you on! See ya!”
“Right, uh…see… Wait a second!”
Tsk…why was I even talking to her…!
The conversation had been about the game from the perspective of a user, and so I had started to listen out of an old habit.
I wasn’t even a developer here…!
It wasn’t as if her opinions were any use to me!
I aimed with my bow, but she had already vanished.
But I now understood why she had talked to me in the first place.
Turning invisible was a powerful skill, and so there would obviously be limitations.
She had been buying time so that she could use it again.
However, I doubted that what she said was a lie.
Yes, it was the truth.
And because of that…
“Black Smog! Black Smog! Black Smog!’
It spread out everywhere.
Being invisible didn’t mean you were invincible.
Your hitboxes were still affected.
Besides, there was also the smell.
“Aggheeeghhh!! It stinks! How did you know!?”
If she wanted to go up in the rankings, then taking over a fortress would be the fastest way to do that.
After all, this was a turf war.
And there was no way she would ignore a place that was so underprotected.
She just needed to kill me, and then it was hers.
I knew that she was inside of the smog, but I didn’t know her precise location.
And so this skill was very useful.
As she was likely putting most of her points into speed, I hoped that it would be a fatal blow…
“Well, I wonder what will happen…”
By the time the smog had cleared, she was nowhere in sight.
But there was no player memory on the ground…which meant that she had escaped.
Well, while I had made mistakes, like talking to her in the first place, I had wanted her to survive…I suppose.
After all, there was something important that I wanted her to do.
Which was to hunt down the rest of the Blue Deers.
She wasn’t the biggest threat when protecting this fortress.
It was the Blue Deer players who would call for help from the other fortresses.
When AI players died, they turned into memories once again.
And if that memory was collected by their team, the original player would regain control.
In other words, there was a big possibility that they would come in full force in order to retrieve Buckler.
However, this system wasn’t absolute.
It would be harsh to have players who were killed near the beginning wait three hours as they thought about returning.
And if the original player was absent, then they would become AI warriors.
However, Buckler was a famous player from a great guild.
And so they would likely come for him.
Especially since they would not know that the place was protected by just a few players.
That’s why I wanted her to kill all the survivors.
And even if some escaped, if they spread news about an invisible enemy, it might help keep others away.
After all, it was difficult to tell which team she was on.
People were likely to just assume that she was part of Red Boar.
Yes, I had high hopes for what she would accomplish.
“Change golem and cannon controls to AI.
And put golems in patrol mode…”
The surviving golem started to move in the area surrounding the fortress.
If the cat girl was still targeting me and showed herself, then they would react.
Furthermore, I used the points from the newly killed players to create a dome-shaped barrier around the fortress.
Now if someone tried to scale the walls and enter, the barrier would be in their way.
Apparently, the barrier would also make a loud noise when cracked, so I would know immediately that we were being attacked.
The realization now washed over me.
As did the fatigue.
Hunting enemies for points, the invasion, fighting Buckler and then talking with the cat girl…
Yeah, it was no wonder I was mentally drained.
But there was something that I had to do before taking a break.
“Use the player memory and bring back the enemy players as AI warriors!”
And like that, the guy who was just fighting for his life earlier was now summoned with his armor and shield.
I had picked up other memories on the way as well.
And so I revived them too.
And then I had them patrol the area along with the golems.
Even though they were slower, they were reliable.
As Buckler’s defense stats were the same, he would have trouble defeating normal players, let alone someone like the cat girl.
I suppose I should use them and continue to protect this place.
The event had only just started.
If I had a moment to catch my breath, I should use it to make my next move.
Still, that cat girl… It was the best reaction I had gotten to Black Smog yet.
I doubted that I would forget the sounds of her retching for a long time.
Without Black Smog, I would not have been able to drive her away, so I was just glad that I had the gorilla fists with me.
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