33 – Interlopers

“Sherry…?”

 

Isaac, sounding miles away, let slip a whisper.

My temper drove me to a short-sighted retaliation, and I inadvertently killed him. Still, I didn’t regret it.

Despite their plan, the players never thought I would actually show up. They gaped at my ears under the torn hood.

The corporation seeing me and making the link to the real me would be the worst case scenario here. Still, with only my face, I didn’t think they’d come to that conclusion right away. Especially when I now had rabbit ears.

So I tried to hide myself as much as I could. I was only keeping my current human form skin-deep. My insides were turning into mist, slowly covering the area.

Among the players, Isaac had the highest combat power. The lowest of them were about 300. The dangerous ones were Isaac’s clan members, who were all above 400. I readied a dagger, staying alert while wondering who among them had No. 08’s magic stone. Then Weed, recovered from his shock, frantically jumped out.

“Sherry is the bunny?! Awesome! I must have gotten so many relationship points already! Here, jump into my arms!”

 

Silence descended on the field.

What the heck? That was so far out of expectations, I couldn’t help but grimace.

On the other hand, Weed’s idiocy instead brought the players out of their stupor. “It’s the bunny!” “She’s really here!” they clamored, hands moving to their weapons. Isaac frantically ran out in an attempt to stop them.

“No, stop! Let’s try talking with her first! Sherry, you-”

 

“HUNT THE BUNNY!!”

“””Yeeaahh!!!”””

His plea was drowned out by the villainous leader’s party. They charged at me with weapons drawn.

“Too bad for Cardi! That five thousand large golds are gonna be all ours!”

“Don’t get too excited now! She can’t die!”

“Who cares, just throw potions at her and she’ll be fine! Chop off her arms and legs! Make sure she can’t run!”

 

Their combat power were about 300 to 400. They hadn’t grown much since the last time I met them.

My cloud of mist surged toward them, sapping their magic and heat, dulling their movements.

“W-wh-wha-what?!”

“M-m-my legs f-froze…”

I was already moving. I jabbed a dagger into the magician’s neck, threw another one at the archer’s, then turned around and tore apart the scout’s with my claws.

“W-What the hell is this!?

A heavily-armored warrior was swinging his greataxe in wild abandon, his face close to tears. I focused my mist to freeze half of his body, then grabbed his face. My claws crushed the frozen head.

[Shedy] [Race: Mistral Neige] [Greater Demon (Low-Rank)]
・The demon of tempestuous mist that ravages the northern seas. A canny spiritual lifeform.

[Magic Points: 1975/2030] 80↑
[Total Combat Power: 2178/2233] 88↑
[Unique Skill: <Reroll> <Cyber-Manipulation> <Absorption>] 
[Racial Skill: Fear]
[Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (National Treasure)] [Specialist Packer]

Just as I thought, two thousand magic wasn’t enough for another rank-up.

Thirty seconds to kill them. These players had nothing more than some slapdash fighting skill, and just a bit of fear was enough to render them helpless. Honestly, they were weak. Those bodyguards at the auction were so much more troublesome.

The players had been unable to stop the battle from happening. And neither could they stop the following massacre. Even if none of them would call the dead their friends, the sight of such ruthless slaughter still unnerved them. A few players took a step back, faces pale.

Only the weak ones, however. The stronger players instead readied their weapons and charged. Perhaps they had managed to ‘resist’ my [Fear].

 

“No!”

Isaac still tried to stop them. Sandrea to his side, however, jumped out with her staff drawn and refuted.

“Isaac, enough already! Isn’t it obvious? She’s not a normal NPC, she’s an event raid boss!”

I don’t see what’s so obvious about that.

So they believed NPCs stronger than them were for ‘special events’, then, and that hostile ones were ‘bosses’.

Seemingly convinced, Isaac begrudgingly readied his own weapons.

 

“Alright, just be good now and let us capture you. [Ice Lance]!”

A magician woman fired out an enormous pillar of ice. I was pretty sure that thing was lethal, though? To humans, at least.

I was both weak to magic and lacking viable solutions to the problem. Retreat was my only choice. As I leaped back, an archer some distance away shot an arrow.

[Shadow Bind]!”

Magicians and archers really were my worst enemies. Still, as long as I knew what was coming, it wasn’t all that difficult to deal with.

I threw out my torn coat. The strange skill hit its shadow.

“What the hell?!”

The coat froze in mid-air. I dashed out from the side, toward the archer. A nimble shadow jumped in and blocked my path.

“Lovely Sherry! Come, my arms long for you-uff!”

 

Whoops. I was supposed to use my dagger here, but for some reason I really wanted to kick his face in. So I did.

Weed staggered back. I left his feet frozen, then threw the chilly mist at the retreating archer. A player holding a greatshield intervened, blocking it.

The shielder wasn’t freezing? Was it another strange art? Or maybe they were being buffed with a spell.

This was why I hated fighting player groups. They could cover each other’s weaknesses with their special skills. I had much higher combat power, yet I still hadn’t managed to kill anyone.

 

Whoa?! I just felt something invisible trying to bind me, so I immediately jumped away. Some distance away, standing isolated was a pink-haired girl swinging a huge hammer. She shouted.

“Leader! Isn’t she supposed to have only 200 combat power? How did she resist [Slow]?!”

“Idiot! You’re not supposed to be fighting!” Sandrea, instead of the leader Isaac, rebuked the girl. My status smokescreen was still working, then. Good.

So the strange cloying feeling back then was the girl’s spell? But why did she get scolded just for attacking? Because she was a magician? But wasn’t she holding a big hammer and even wearing a leather chestplate over her robe?

…wait a minute…

 

I ignored the shielder and rushed straight toward her. Both she and Sandrea immediately began panicking.

“Ah! You idiot, see what happened?! She’s heading for you now!”

“Wasn’t it because you were shouting?! Sally, you’re the idiot!”

So there really was a reason why they didn’t want me to reach her. For example… maybe she was holding No. 08’s magic stone?

 

In trying to protect pink-head, the coordination of Isaac’s clan members began to fray.

All of them had at least 400 combat power. Half of them, people who had around 700 combat power like Sandrea and Weed, lost the space they needed to move freely. They could no longer cover for their comrades.

 

“Alright, gotcha!”

A sword-and-buckler warrior charged in. I dodged the slow-motion slash and froze his right arm.

“Waaahh!?”

“I’ll help you!”

Lowest pain setting, I see… His comrade, an archer, shot an arrow to cover for him. I hid behind the warrior, then threw out my frosty mist to drain both their lives dry.

Downing two players in a blink of an eye was plenty enough to frighten the players. On one hand, them losing their calm was a good thing for me. On the other, it also meant they were no longer holding back. No longer fighting to capture.

 

[Fire Bolt]!”

Sandrea’s fireball erupted, torching the grassland.

[Shedy] [Race: Mistral Neige] [Greater Demon (Low-Rank)]
[Magic Points: 1935/2060] 30↑
[Total Combat Power: 2141/2266] 33↑

I dodged in desperation. Still quite damaging, despite the higher defense that came with my higher combat power.

“Sandrea!”

“Look, she’s too dangerous! We can’t win if we hold back here!”

“It’s our turn! [Shield Charge]!”

He rushed at me, his greatshield to the front. He wanted to launch me away? Too bad for him.

“Wha?!”

I didn’t budge. With his charge parried, I grabbed and froze his shield-holding arm. Having three times his combat power really helped out here.

 

“Stop!”

I instantly jumped back the moment I noticed the glint of a sword. Isaac was pointing his blade at me.

“Are you okay?”

“S-sorry.”

I could only take half of his magic and life.

Pink-head shot out a white light to the shieldbearer, releasing him from the ice. Then he emptied a small bottle into his mouth.

Huh. I just felt his magic recovering.

 

Round two, then… Fighting head-on would be disadvantageous for me. At least their potions weren’t infinite. If I focused on maintaining my magic and deal with them one by one, I’d still have a chance.

As long as there was an opportunity to steal No. 08’s magic stone, I’d win.

 

Everyone, except for the dead, had completely recovered with their potions. I cast aside my errant thoughts and refocused, daggers in both hands, readying myself with a few hops. My ears jiggled.

No one was playing around now. Even Weed looked tense, sword in hand. Isaac got ready to give the signal.

 

At that moment, a chorus of ear-splitting shrills rang out.

 

“W-what now?”

“What’s this buzzing…”

Pitch-black monsters began to appear, staining the green grassland like a spreading puddle of tar.

“What… is that…?” A player muttered. Their smile was forced, their voice brittle.

The newcomers were huge, two-meters tall and five-meters wide tarantula-shaped monsters, with claws and carapaces of a crab.

“Eh-aaarghh!”

“Shit, they’re attacking us?!”

Their sizes belied their speed. A nearby player was already torn in half by their claws.

 

I knew them… no, not me. No. 01 and No. 17’s knowledge inside me knew of them, of their possible existence.

[Black Carapace Spiders x10]
[Magic Points: 300/300] [Hit Points: 500/500]
[Total Combat Power: 1000]

They’re experimental monster avatars driven by secret beta testers!


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24 thoughts on “33 – Interlopers”

  1. Thanks for your work.
    I guess this is a test for the secret beta testers against a large number of regular beta testers.

    Like

  2. Huh. Spiders, eh? I guess those are efficient body plans. Kind of a bad timing, though – they will likely split the players’ attention and give Shedy a chance to dash for the stone.

    Like

  3. Haha, so the military is using Fujikoma spider-mech/monsters like it’s Ghost in the Shell? I approve of their design sense. ;p

    Like

    1. Thanks for the chapter!! Maybe if they team up to defeat the secret beta testers Shedy can befriend the players. She needs to use their gamebrains to her advantage and make them think this is all part of the event!

      Like

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