Data.98 – Old Bowman, Through the Labyrinth
I fell into a defensive stance.
Charin seemed different from usual.
Surely, there wasn’t going to be a preliminary fight right here…?
‘D-don’t be so afraid-nyon! I just thought that I would act a little differently towards players who have finished all of the trials-nyon!’
“That’s a relief.”
If we fought in the central floor that was even smaller than the boss floors, then my defeat would be guaranteed.
Charin coughed once and then returned to her normal voice.
‘Well then. First, I will give you the Virgo medal-nyon!’
And so I accepted the final medal.
The constellation was depicted with gems on the front.
And in the back was the maiden.
She was more beautiful than cute, and there was a noble air about her.
Now I have all 12 of the constellation medals!
The only thing left to do was to fight the AI girl in front of me… But I didn’t feel too excited about it.
While Charin was a high power artificial intelligence that was created through futuristic technology, the more I interacted with her, the more she started to seem like an average girl who was trying to be taken seriously.
It was only a short while ago where I felt very enthusiastic about fighting.
But now that I could fight at any time, I felt hesitant. I was that kind of hopeless old man.
Besides, Charin was very pretty.
Most of the monsters I had fought had looked quite scary. I didn’t know how serious I could be.
Shooting a monster through the head was different from shooting a girl in the head…
Ah, but I had been doing plenty of that during the battle royale and the turf war.
Once you were actually thrown into a battlefield, age and gender didn’t mean anything. You just had to fight and give it your all.
I would not fight in a way that was half-hearted.
‘Have you solved your little dilemma?’
“Ah, so you knew?”
‘It was written all over your face-nyon! You were conflicted about fighting me!’
It was that obvious, huh…
Was my face always so readable?
But my goal was to be cool and have a poker face…
‘Well, I can understand how you feel-nyon! It’s only natural that you wouldn’t want to attack a tremendously popular and beautiful AI idol. But don’t worry-nyon. Once the fight starts, your head will be filled with thoughts like, ‘how am I going to beat her?’’
“Ahaha… I hope you go easy on me then.’
‘Unfortunately, I cannot do that, as things must be fair. So you better brace yourself. I suggest you use the special prize to strengthen yourself as much as possible before the fight-nyon.’
The special reward was a metal fragment called ‘Blade of Judgement.’
It looked like the blade of a knife or short sword after being broken.
Now that I thought about it, there were other materials that had ‘judgement’ in their name…
It was the ‘Judgement Lightning’ from the Lupus trial and the ‘Wings of Judgement’ from the Libra trial…
Even veteran craftsman Yu had not known what they were used for. But now that I have three of them, perhaps they could create some new items.
I should visit the workshop once before taking on the final battle.
‘Now, now! I will explain the rules of the final battle-nyon!’
‘Of course-nyon! It’s a secret that only those who gather all of the medals can hear, so it’s best to tell you here, where there is no one else around-nyon! Well, I’m sure the information has already spread online… But rules are rules-nyon!’
“So, there are other players who’ve already fought you?”
‘Of course, there are-nyon! The speed at which content is created and then consumed by professional gamers in this great age of VR is astonishing-nyon! Everyone is desperate to get attention-nyon!’
Well, that made sense.
While I played every day from morning, with short breaks, I still stopped at night.
I wasn’t like those people that played through the night.
Staying up all night was a little too severe for me…
Maybe when I was younger…
It would only make me play worse, so I wasn’t going to sacrifice my sleep.
‘Still, as for how many have finished it… I could count them on one hand-nyon.’
“Huh? Really? Do you mean parties or players?”
Charin had five fingers on one hand.
Being an AI didn’t mean having more fingers.
As a party could have up to 4 players, only about 1 party had cleared it…
There may be a small party or solo players who did it too, but I’m sure it was a lot more difficult than the other 12 trials.
‘In fact, adjustments will likely be made depending on how many people are able to clear it early on. So it’s the highest difficulty right now! A difficulty suited for the real professionals of this great VR age-nyon! Difficult games get a lot of people talking, and the players who finish it will be talked about as well. So it benefits us both-nyon.’
The ‘real’ professionals, huh…
That sure sounded cool.
I wanted to be one of them as well.
It was only a moment ago that I wasn’t feeling very excited about fighting Charin, but now I can’t wait for it.
The heart of an old man changes just like the heart of a maiden, or the mountain weather.
‘Yes, yes! Those are the determined eyes that I wanted to see-nyon! Everyone looks like that when they become absorbed in a game-nyon! Whether you’re a young child or an elderly person, girls and boys, everyone is the same-nyon!’
Apparently, it showed on my face again.
However, I agreed with what Charin said.
Regardless of what was happening in real life, everyone seemed the same when they were enjoying a game.
‘Cough. It’s time to get back on track-nyon. The final battle will take place in the Serpent Palace that is floating above the first town! A path will open up for the players who have collected all 12 medals-nyon! As for how it will open, that’s a surprise! But beware, you must stand right underneath for it to open-nyon!’
“Right underneath… In other words, you have to be in the center of the town in order to enter the Serpent Palace?”
That was likely to draw a lot of attention…
There were a lot of people in that town, so it would cause a scene if I appeared at the stage for the final battle.
The idea of having to see their faces if I come back after losing. But I suppose it was the price of fame. It could not be helped.
‘The requirement for victory is defeating me! You will fail as soon as your whole party is destroyed-nyon! You will still receive a prize if you die, but someone in your party survives and wins! But it is a surprise! That information has yet to have been leaked! These professionals are different. They don’t tell secrets-nyon!’
“The rules are a lot simpler than the other trials… Ah, so there aren’t limitations to how many times you can try?”
‘Exactly-nyon! You can challenge me as many times as you want, and lose as many times as you want! But there is still a penalty for dying, so be careful! Depending on the situation, your equipment might be ruined as well… But don’t blame me-nyon!’
So the penalties and repairing of equipment were essentially like a cooldown.
Basically, trying to win based on luck through challenging her nonstop was not a good idea.
If you didn’t go in with a good plan, you would just continue to waste money, materials, and time.
‘Also, there are other rules. Aside from what you’re wearing, you can take up to 10 types of items with you, and have 10 of every type of item-nyon! I call it the baggage restriction-nyon!’
‘Before challenging me, you can set 10 types of items specifically for the fight-nyon! For instance, you are currently using two different bows depending on what the situation calls for, but if you want to continue to do that in the fight against me, you have to put the other bow in the set-nyon! Equipment that isn’t in the set will not be equippable even if it’s in your item box-nyon!’
So I had to decide in advance what items to use in the fight.
Since anything that was already equipped didn’t count, I could leave the Windcloud set as it is.
The only other things I might use were the Spider Shooter Cloud and the Fists of the Forest Sage.
The remaining 8 slots could be filled with recovery items.
As you could only take 10 of every type of item, that meant I was also quite restricted…
But there were healing items that had different names, so I would have to see how many I could fit in.
‘Hehe. I see that you’re already making preparations in your head. As for anything else you should know of…I suppose the Unisons-nyon. You can use them as they are considered a party member-nyon!’
So Garbo will lend me a hand then.
That was big…!
‘Hmm, I guess that’s it? The item restriction is the only different rule. I’m sure you’ll figure it out, since you overcame all of the other trials-nyon! Now, I’ll be waiting for you in the Serpent Palace-nyon! Bye-bye!’
Charin disappeared and I was warped out of the dungeon.
It was night outside, and the Four Seasons Phantom Tree was lit up.
I would have just stood there and stared at it in awe…if I were the version of me who hadn’t finished all of the trials yet.
Now, I had to go to the workshop in the sky.
I just didn’t feel like logging off yet…!