Chapter 10 Legacy of the Steel Strings
That’s the unique rated spear, Horn of the Winter Dragon, looks like I’ve finally found you.
“You must be the famous ‘Rare Weapon Hunter’ I’ve heard so much about”
“Huh? Another PKer?”
”No… I’ve come for something else”
I quickly navigated through my menu, and sent out a duel request.
He silently stared at me baffled at my request. Sure enough, I would also think it were strange if a stranger suddenly wanted to fight me. In the end, he accepted my request.
Taking out my dagger, I quickly moved in.
His instincts and movements were good. Sparks flew as he quickly parried my thrust and jumped back to put distance between us again. Is he observing my movements?
Disappearing into thin air, I slowly crept towards him. There’s no one that’s been able to escape from me.
Watching him closely, he swapped to a one-handed sword and began kneeling down on one knee. Strangely, he didn’t equip a shield, instead a strange gauntlet appeared on his off-hand. Was it used for catching bladed weapons? In that case, he had also trained his hand to hand combat as well.
Exactly like I had anticipated, this guy freely switches weapons.
My dagger mastery has long reached advanced rank 9, sooner or later I’ll reach full mastery, simple grapple techniques wouldn’t be able to hold me down, was he vastly underestimating me?
Creeping up close to his side, I immediately seize the chance of him looking away to pounce forward.
Quickly activating [Dizzy Punch], my body moved like the wind.
However, he dodged it by a hairs breath. Was it actually a feint? Did he purposely turn away to lure me out?
Staring into his eyes as my fist whistled past him, I saw the eyes of a hawk. It was the face of someone diligently waiting for his prey. I was being hunted.
At that moment, my entire body screamed that something dangerous was coming. Instinctively, I turned sideways, twisting my up upper body right as the hilt of his sword struck the air around us.
It didn’t end there however, he immediately swung the blade of his sword in my direction.
Fortunately I was able to regain control of my movements, and quickly guarded myself, parrying his slash with my daggers.
“Impart with me your frozen will, [Spellbind Ice]!”
<The cold wraps itself around you, you can feel the chilling cold, your movements have been slowed>
In a matter of seconds, the air around us turned cold, I could see the ice begin to form on my daggers.
[Spellbind Ice], a high class of magic endowing spell type that was available to the Magic Swordsman class only if his mastery over Ice magic reached Advanced Level 6. Endowing oneself with the element of ice had the chance of inflicting slow to nearby enemies as you emit a freezing cold aura. Then the slow status would turn into the frozen status after 10 seconds. His aura slowly turned the surroundings to ice.
His sword quickly withdrew as my movements became slower, and came at me again even faster.
<You have taken 59 cold damage!>
<You have taken 60 cold damage!>
<You have taken 58 cold damage!>
<The cold wraps itself around you, you have begun to freeze, you are unable to move>
My body quickly froze up, immobilizing me.
I cast my emergency skill that removed all debuffs, while subsequently putting me back into stealth, allowing me to quickly got away.
This was the first time I’ve been forced to use my emergency escape skill so quickly.
My footsteps were light, and untraceable. I’ve been praised by the top rankers for my stealth skills. Compared to the rankers, even they can’t produce soundless steps as perfectly as I could. And yet, no matter which direction I walk in, I can feel his gaze following me.
Can he actually see me?
To my knowledge, there aren’t any items or equipment currently that can detect players in stealth. The only skill that allowed players to see people in stealth is the skill that mages and priests inherently share as a class skill, [Flash].
For first time in a long time, I felt nervous fighting someone. My fighting instincts were going wild. This was what I had been searching for, a thrilling fight!
Indeed, this person was a battle maniac. There’s no other way to describe that smile on his face as he watches my movements, even while I’m cloaked.
I had accidentally stumbled across a thread on the forums with almost 100,000 views before it was taken down by the original poster. I had assumed it to be just click bait with the title of the thread being named, ‘Battle Maniac kills group of 7 players with multiple weapons’.
It was well known that this game favored single weapon usage over multi-typing. Weapon Mastery after all was tied to learning new skills. Not to mention that grinding multiple weapons all at once was extremely tedious to do. It had taken me a whole year to reach Advanced Rank 9 from Advanced Rank 8.
As soon as I finished watching the video in the thread, I immediately began searching for this multi-weapon type user. After searching net rumors for almost a whole month, I’ve finally arrived before him now. This was a challenge to myself, to see how far I can go. The only thing left to do now, was to test my skills.
Coming in close a second time, I swung my dagger horizontally, aiming for a vital point.
It was obvious that he knew my location, so throwing out a random skill would have been a waste.
Simply by shifting his weight, he easily dodged my attack.
This time, disguising my first attack as a feint, I immediately followed up with my [Dizzy Punch] that had come off cooldown right as he reached for my arm.
<You have dealt 429 damage!>
<Your opponent is stunned for 3 seconds!>
As I counted the seconds in my head, I circled to his side. A strange thought came to mind. Why he tried to grab me with his empty hand? It was strange, his main hand which held a sword had much more reach.
Letting go of my thoughts, I focused on my skill rotations next.
<You have dealt 1206 damage!>
<The opponent is stunned for 2 seconds!>
[Leg Cutter], [Disarm], [Back Stab]
<Critical Hit! You’ve dealt 855 damage!>
<The opponent is immobilized and will be unable to move for 4 seconds!>
<You have dealt 499 damage!>
<The opponent is unable to use his main hand weapon for 2 seconds!>
<Critical Hit! You’ve dealt 5254 damage!>
Just as the stun duration wore off for [Vital Strike], I quickly immobilized him with [Leg Cutter], and [Disarm].
Most swordsman classes at the current level 60 cap had just above 20,000 health points. After this rotation finishes, he’ll be left with around half or so I told myself.
“The calm that degrades over time, Rumble! [Earth Geyser]!”
Right as I was intending to circle back to his front, the ground beneath us split apart, and out came a gust of hot wind that threw me off balance.
“The red winds of fury guide my blade, [Gale Smash!]”
His sword came crashing down like lightning, creating a cloud of dust as it hit the ground, but I had already anticipated the attack. I jumped back, and allowed the force of his attack to push me away to safety as I pulled out 3 knives and threw them at him.
It was impossible to avoid my knives while he was recovering from [Gale Smash]. Looking at my system messages, I confirmed my 3 knives had indeed hit him.
<You have dealt 229 damage!>
<You have dealt 229 damage!>
<You have dealt 229 damage!>
It was only for a short moment, but I neglected to pay attention in front of me.
The cloud of dust split apart, and what came out was a sword flying at me, with a person holding onto it. streaks of lightning sparked across the blade as he thrust forward.
“Shit!”, I cursed out loud.
[Lightning Thrust]?!! I didn’t expect him to have such a high-level sword skill. That means his regular sword mastery is at least Advanced Rank 8!
<You’ve been grazed by! -122 damage!>
Moving to my left, I dodged most of the attack, but still ended up being cut slightly.
“I’m not done yet!”
Instantly reacting to my dodge, he spun his body around slashed at me again.
“[Whirl Wind Slash!]”
Inwardly cursing, I twisted my body is strange angles just to avoid the attack.
I jumped back again to create some distance, I had barely managed to dodge his attack.
I tried moving out of the way, but my arms and legs wouldn’t budge as a system message popped up in front of me.
<An unseen force prevents you from moving>
What the hell is going on?!!
Up in the air in front of me, he appeared yet again with an exaggerated front flip slashing down at me. Unable to move, I took the full brunt of his blade.
<You’ve been hit! -2889 damage!>
<You are unable to move for 2 seconds>
[Lighting Thrust], [Whirl Wind Slash], and [Rolling Cutter]. Next up was [Pommel Beat], and then [Double Slash]. It was the Advance Rank 9 Sword Mastery skill combo.
Fortunately my [Smoke Screen] had come off cool down. It didn’t matter now if I was immobilized for 2 seconds.
Watching as the hilt of his sword was inches away from my skull, I immediately activated [Smoke Screen].
[Rolling Cutter] had taken a small chunk of my HP. It was absurd how high his damage was with a one-handed sword. Although, that can probably be attributed to his other nickname, the Rare Weapon Hunter. The sword in his hand shimmered a distinct red color. It was a sword I hadn’t seen before. It was definitely a unique rated weapon. It’s no wonder he thought I was another PKer. His gear probably attracted a great deal of greedy players.
I calmed myself, and reassessed him. He was definitely someone who was strong with a sword. It was probably his main weapon. Although it bothered me he hadn’t equipped a shield, knowing that he was a Magic Swordsman class put me on alert. It was the first time I’ve been so inclined to beat someone in a PVP match.
“Oh? Intentionally coming out stealth, this is the first time I’ve seen an Assassin do that”
“Shut up. It’s not as if I can hide from you anyways”
“Hahaha, So you’ve noticed already?”
He laughed back at me confirming my suspicion.
It seems that he really does have an item that gives away my position in stealth.
“I prefer a woman’s gaze, f you get my drift”
“Sorry I’m not a girl then”
From here on out, I didn’t plan on going easy. Although it was bluff, it seemed that he really could see me while I was in stealth. Besides that, rather than being an assassin, I am…
A master of shadows.
My body quickly melded into the shadows, disappearing from sight.
“You’re a Shadow Stalker?!!”
Instantly appearing behind him, I plunged my dagger straight into his back.
<Critical Hit! You have dealt 5326 damage!>
“[Shackles Of The Void]”
<Target has been immobilized for 5 seconds!>
The shadows that surrounded us, converged on top of him.
In addition to being immobilized for 5 seconds, my opponent also lost a total of 2,000 health over the course of time he was restrained.
It didn’t matter what he did now, it was my win.
“[Custom Skill: Widow’s Web]”
Right as I activated my skill, I heard a small whisper, and then something completely stopped me from moving.
<An unseen force prevents you from moving>
Just like what had happened earlier in the fight, I was unable to move. Only this time, I was stuck in my [Shadow Waltz] animation pose with daggers in both of my hands.
<You are unable to move, an unseen force prevents the use of all skills!>
<You have become vulnerable to all attacks, the next hit you receive will deal double damage!>
<You have a high chance of receiving a critical hit!>
<Your defense is cut in half!>
<Your attack has been cut in half!>
“W-w-what the hell is this?!!”
An absurd amount of debuffs rolled across my screen.
It was the first time I had ever stuttered while talking to another person. I watched as my shadows that had converged around my target, slowly unwrap itself, freeing him. The 5 second duration of restraint had wore off.
After my shadows disappeared, he raised his left hand, the hand which held neither a sword nor shield. Instead, it was the hand outfitted with the strange gauntlet.
For the first time, I saw a glint of white appear around his left hand. A wave of shining light that was hard to see began to move in all directions. As the lights moved, I felt my body lift into the air, as pressure began to build up around me.
Balling his hand into a fist, he continued to calmly stare at me.
This entire area had been turned into his nest. The moment I had challenged him, it was already my loss. I never even stood a chance.
Along with his words, the built-up pressure exploded all around me.
<Critical Hit! You have taken 34,555 damage!>
<You have Lost the Duel!>
<Your HP has been set to the minimum>
Critical hit, and double damage, what an obscenely perverse skill. I could only shake my head at the inevitability. I understood exactly what was on his left hand. I was too conceited.
[Custom Weapon: Steel Strings]
There was only one user in existence who used steel strings at that level of mastery. I looked up from the ground at the person standing above me.
“You, you’re Tetsu499?”
“Oh? You know who I am?”
Even with the blurred-out ID floating above his character, I could tell who he was just by the way he fought. There weren’t many video’s of him floating around, and although he was wearing a different set of armor, I could tell just by the skill level.
Immediately, a quest completion notification popped up at the end of the battle.
User name Tetsu499. He was widely discussed as a top class Magic Swordsman. There were various reasons why he wasn’t the best of the best, but only one of reasons had been validated. That reason was sought out by users who had access to [Custom Weapon Quests].
Even though I had lost, I was ecstatic. I never dreamed I would meet the person I was looking for while chasing rumors about strong players.
Among the users of steel strings, only the weapon masters had the ability to impart skills and techniques for that specific [Custom Weapon]. In a sense, it was like how the average person learned skills from a Class Master NPC.
<Custom Quest: [Progenitor of the Steel Strings], has been completed>
The user that stood at the peak of this weapon was also the creator, Tetsu499.
I stood up, looking him in the eye earnestly for the first time I’ve played.
“Teach me how to use that weapon!”
Those memories flashed before my eyes. Before I realized it, I was pulled back to reality.
I can still remember it vividly, the days we spent pvping after we had first met.
I stared back at the large man in front of me. Behind me, the floor was littered with bodies. My vision had become blurry, and my breathing was ragged. There were cuts all over my body, but nothing life threatening.
The Bandit Leader grunted, as his sword came down. How long has it been since I sent off Clair? I wasn’t sure anymore. My mind had long lost the ability to predict enemy attacks.
A black silhouette appeared to strike me down alongside the bandit. I knew it wasn’t something real. Rather, it was something I had experienced in the past, numerous times.
My body begun to move reflexively on its own, trying to dodge the black silhouette’s attack. Unable to fully dodge its blindingly fast slash, it dissipated into thin air as another sword flew past me.
It was always like that when we PVP’d back then as well. That guy’s attacks were too much for me at times. My body continued moving on instinct, my dagger had plunged into the Bandit Leader’s stomach 3 times.
“-cough- S-shit! You can still move like that?!!”
I was aware of it back then, that it was merely a game world, but we still retained the experience of battle well after exiting the game world. For martial artists like me, it was a great way to train and sharpen my mind.
I could feel his body trembling as I pulled my dagger back out, and then shoved it back in twice more.
The Bandit Leader fell down and vomited blood. With that many stab wounds, his insides were without a doubt a bloody mess.
Pulling out a glass bottle with a mysterious green liquid, the bandit quickly gulped it down.
Exhausted, I fell to one knee. I was tired. My eye lids felt heavy.
Standing back up, the bandit wiped his mouth as he threw away the glass container.
"And just like that, I'm all healed up. hahahaha!"
The fatal stab wounds on his body were healed almost instantaneously.
"Did you think you could win you damn brat!"
The bandit leader carefully walked towards me, watching for any suspicious movements.
"Now then, dieeee!!!"
His sword arm swung down vigorously, only to stop in midair.
"M-my body... it won't move!"
"[Custom Skill: Widow's Web]", I called out.
Stretching from tree to tree, all within the vicinity there were trails of sparkling lights.
"[Custom Skill: Final Judgement]"
Whispering into the forest breeze as I got up and walked away, the bandit's body lifted into the air. Then, another nostalgic memory hit me. "It's impossible to escape this technique once they've crawled into your web. All that's left, is to execute them"
Squeezing my palm, hundreds of fine steel threads violently burst inward like a gale.
I felt no remorse as the body behind me loudly creaked and crackled. As a bandit, how many lives had they already taken and destroyed?
Finally, a plop could be heard in the distance. Not even human bones could withstand the force of the steel strings, all that remained, was probably a pile of human pulp, cut up into tiny bits and pieces.
After calming myself, I continued walking towards the edge of the forest and sat down, trying to clear my mind.
The black silhouette had appeared before me numerous times in the past. It was the amalgamation of the uncountable number of times we had PVP’d.
They were the memories that were forcefully beat into my virtual body during the time I played the game, Project Iris Online.
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