148 Draco vs Eva
At this point, the players in Boundless had already grown numb to these announcements. As soon as they saw the name 'Draco' pop up, everything seemed possible. If someone were to claim that Draco was the son of the AI, they would all just nod their heads and happily exclaim 'so that's it'!
It wasn't limited to a few who felt that he must somehow be cheating. How else was it possible that he seemed to defy any sort of logic allowing him to stack more and more advantages over the main playerbase?
The problem was, what the fuck could they do about it?
A traditional game had forums with moderators and developers, which were able to influence the development of the game in question. Through the forums, players could band together and make posts that displayed their unhappiness and point out these injustices, even if they might only be perceived as such.
Through reviews or social media, they could pressure the developers into making decisions they wanted as well. This wasn't even limited to games, but any form of digital media or product in general.
Boundless did not have forums, at least not yet!
Apart from the just-introduced Guild Text Chat, players had no way to address a larger audience. The best they could do was send photos taken to their personal media devices in the real world or complain on their socials.
Putting aside the currently booming effects those photos were having on increasing Boundless' fame and playerbase, just that function alone was the best these players could hope for.
While there was a lot of grumbling among players in face to face interactions, private messages or in their Guild Text Chats, they were extremely stifled because there was no way to report their dissatisfaction to anyone higher up.
Ever since it was discovered that women could be raped and abused, many had naturally denounced the game and hung up their swords/hats.
A game that couldn't protect their modesty was simply immoral and trash. They were not the only ones. Many had left because they did not want to risk becoming a victim in the future.
The AI just listened to all of this impassively, but those who left in a huff would eventually find themselves unable to login to Boundless with those brain scans ever again…
Unless they could find new brains - or tweak the old ones - they would have to remain as one of the select few among the entirety of the human race unable to use Boundless, having to watch in anguish as everyone would be able to experience four times their lifespan.
In the old timeline, people hardly left their pods unless it was a life-or-death situation. The nanobots took care of absolutely everything for the player, so they could continue playing Boundless without pause.
These people who left would die alone, after everyone else had sold their soul to the game.
This was unfair!
Their reason for leaving the game was completely justified! Being a target for rape or any form of abuse was a crime and should be enforceable.
Even the AI knew this, so there were obvious in-world laws to punish such offenders. In fact, these punishments had been buffed and became so horrendous that rape as a crime would mostly die out by Update 6, after the rampant evil of Update 5.
The problem with this, which was technically the main problem with Boundless as a game, was that none of this was made known to the larger playerbase.
- - -
In the tutorial player Draco had skipped, players were only shown the basics of combat and told that everything else was up to them. The world was theirs for the taking. They would have to explore and discover the secrets of Boundless without any handholding.
At that point, every player should be fired up and excited. Who didn't want to enter a fantasy world and explore its four corners for themselves, uncover all the myriad races and acquiring magnificent powers?
However, the modern human had gotten too comfortable with recent technology and safety. The social contract that formed the basis of society offered humanity the greatest benefit of being able to grow in relative safety.
When one discussed ancient humans, one might be prone to consider calling them barbaric, monkey-like entities who scratched their armpits and drew on walls while worshiping fire.
Many seem to overlook that at the time, there were no such things as police, soldiers, guns or the like. Humans had been dropped into this wild and primal world with nothing to aid them except what they could make themselves.
After generations of struggling, learning, growth and incredible suffering, humans had been able to overcome the primal world and carve out places to live in safety, forming the current social contract's early form.
As time went on, the threat from the natural world became non-existent while the threat of other humans grew. As such, conflict changed as humans started to squabble with each other and gained the ability to create scientific wonder.
Population rose, and with that came differing ideals, thoughts and behaviors. Some developed unique methods of thinking and strayed down unique paths that were forbidden when the population was lower and more easily controlled.
Paramount was the sense of entitlement that the modern humans gained, which encompassed everything. No longer did humans feel the need to fight for anything, some felt that by being human alone, they deserved certain things.
This wasn't a problem with the strength of human society, but when thrust into a world where the safeties the real world had created for humans was gone, more than a few couldn't adapt.
Others could of course, as the main strength of humankind lay in their adaptability.
When many realized that this world was only loosely monitored and that the laws and conventions build-up by the human race's social contract was largely invalid, a large portion of people reverted to their primal selves, as the ancient human instincts emerged.
One thing many forms of media - or even people - got wrong about humankind's situation during an apocalypse or no-rules scenario, was that everyone would be a hapless chicken that could only die.
No, it was in the face of adversity that humans would flourish and establish their dominance. Many humans would quickly become like rockets soaring higher as they became the kings of wherever they found themselves.
This was the legacy of humankind in this world and the real world before they were cast away to this planet.
- Positional Report by Artificial Intelligence Prime, 30th March 2065.
- - -
Draco met with Riveting Night who had finished drilling the members of Umbra for today. They had all seen the announcements, so they naturally gazed at their Guildmaster with awe and reverence.
He was just too outstanding!
Riveting Night looked at Draco silently, but her heart was thumping. When she saw those announcements, she initially thought Draco was trying to make something unique for himself, but after she saw that they were both short swords, a suspicion began to form.
And true to her hopes, Draco unwrapped two short swords very slowly and ceremoniously, as he presented them to Riveting Night with a gentle smile.
"Two of the best blades made with the best of my ability for my Celestial Beauty."
Riveting Night's heart thumped so vigorously, yet she didn't immediately take the short swords. In fact, she just stared at Draco without moving, her eyes red. Her breathing was a bit heavy and one could hear it becoming deeper.
Draco only watched Riveting Night with a light smile and felt like laughing. It seemed he had triggered her endless obsession by doing this, but he would do it a hundred times over because she was his and he was hers.
"Take them, Eva." Draco prodded gently.
Riveting Night took a deep breath and restrained her rising madness forcibly before gazing at the two short swords. After analyzing them and seeing their overpowered skills, she once again felt her heart thump this time for a different reason.
Still, she took the two weapons in hand, the Void Blade in her left while the Chrono Blade was held in her right. Just like Draco, she was ambidextrous, so it didn't make any difference.
Once she held the two, the synergy between them rushed through her and she felt her power rise. It wasn't anything substantial like increased stats or the like, but Riveting Night felt like her attacking power was stronger as long as she held both swords in battle.
Immediately, Riveting Night asked the question that Draco had expected to hear from her.
"Would you like to spar?"
When the members of Umbra heard this, their minds froze for a second before they became flushed with excitement. They dropped whatever they were doing to situate themselves well and even spread this information on the Guild Text Chat.
Aside from those who were offline, everyone else rushed to the Guild Arena to spectate this battle.
The Guild Arena wasn't a property but a function. In other words, it wasn't exclusive to Umbra and even a trash-tier guild with only 10 average members would have the same type of Guild Arena.
The only difference was of a cosmetic nature. A trash-tier guild could only use the empty room, whereas Umbra could customize it however they liked. Be it an underwater arena, a space setting or whatever the mind desired, as long as one played around with the settings, it could be created.
Draco and Riveting Night entered the arena which had last been set to look like the ancient Roman Colosseum. The stands were built out of a mixture of stone and plaster, with a curricular ring in the middle that was covered in marble.
It was fresh and very attractive compared to the version that existed in the real world and the stands for the Arena began to fill up at a breakneck pace.
It was almost as if the members of Umbra were telepathic, as those with higher rankings went towards the seats near the fighting ring itself while those with lower rankings placed themselves in the outer seats.
Every eye turned to the ring as the noise died down. Even though a fervent excitement and anticipation was bubbling within every member of Umbra, they knew better than to make noise at this time.
Draco stood in one corner of the ring and smiled at Riveting Night. For that matter, Riveting Night stood in a very feminine rogue-like pose as she gazed at Draco tenderly. Even though her hood was up, Draco could see her expression easily.
Draco took out the Legendary Hawkeye Bow and the Phoenix Cry arrow. He nocked it instantly and fired at Riveting Night, however, he did not use the Star Shot Technique.
Riveting Night, who stood still, gazed upon the Phoenix Cry Arrow solemnly. She raised the Void Blade and activated her Control to the maximum. With it, she was able to see the trajectory and force of the incoming Legendary arrow.
As such, Riveting Night moved the short sword in a piercing motion, like she was using a rapier instead of a blade.
"Sword Skill 34: Reversal!"
With that cry, she hit the Phoenix Cry Arrow right on its head with the optimal force in her body perfectly distributed, which also happened to be the weak point of every arrow.
The Phoenix Cry Arrow was knocked aside, though Riveting Night had to take a step back. She also suffered damage from the arrow's first passive, but she quickly drank a potion to negate it.
This first exchange seemed quite average, but the players in the stands were stunned. This was beyond anything they expected, especially seeing that their Guildmaster had a Legendary bow and arrow.
Shani, who had been really satisfied with Pinaka, suddenly gazed at the bow like it was deadwood. No wonder the Guildmaster had no qualms about giving her this at first sight.
The archers in the guild felt their breathing hike as they gazed at Hawkeye and the Phoenix Cry Arrow. They would sell their everything just to own them, but they knew that it wasn't theirs.
Draco was flabbergasted as he watched Riveting Night. Since when did she learn his Sword Skills?
Riveting Night smiled smugly and pointed at Draco. "I studied every move you made when you fought. I dare say I have mastered at least 33% of your most popular Sword Skills!"
She spoke of this with so much pride that one might think she had cured cancer or discovered alien life, ready to bask in the praise of millions of humans worldwide.
Draco's gaze as he watched Riveting Night was full of pride and respect. He was a swordsman and he had the uncanny talent for developing all sorts of techniques on his own based on Control.
Riveting Night though, was an assassin who was limited to the use of daggers, or short swords, at best. The point was, assassins needed small weapons or projectiles, while swordsmen used long weapons or large weapons.
To study his techniques and replicate them was no easy feat, otherwise, Draco wouldn't have been so respected in their previous timeline. Another point was that Riveting Night had barely seen him use any Sword Skills in this life because very few battles had forced him to.
Draco was strong enough to steamroll through every obstacle so far - except the Metal Dragon - so he had used bottom-tier effort.
This meant that Riveting Night had done this during their previous timeline, when he still hated her and vowed to destroy her. During all their battles where he had gone all out, she had still done her best to learn his sword skills.
The question then, was…
Riveting Night lowered her pointed finger and spoke gently. "So that I could help you make them better by providing a foil for you."
Draco nodded. Even though he was touched, he knew that this was his Riveting Night alright. In every situation, she always thought about him first, which was what made him so crazy about her.
Draco took the Phoenix Cry Arrow and nocked it once again. This time, he used the first level of the Star Shot Technique.
Instantly, the atmosphere became stifled as the onlookers felt the threat of death from that arrow. It felt like no matter where they went, the arrow would pierce through them should it be fired.
This kind of suppressive and horrifying feeling completely froze every member in the crowd, whether core members or basic members. They finally realized why their Guildmaster was able to get so many accolades…
He was too strong!
How was the Lady Boss going to cope with this?
Riveting Night was just as solemn as they were. She had to use only Control and her new Epic blades to counter this arrow, as this was a test of her prowess with the two weapons.
Draco could have stuck to a sword fight with her using the Epic Dragorugio sword, but that would be stale. Their fighting prowess was evenly matched and doing so wouldn't allow each other to progress as they had fought hundreds of times.
What Riveting Night needed was pressure to squeeze out her great potential, and using two Legendary weapons against her two Epic weapons, with both of them utilizing Control to the max, was a perfect way to do so.
She was heavily disadvantaged, and this would force her to be very creative. She would need to use the enchantments and strengths of the two Epic blades to the best of her ability to survive this onslaught.
Draco fired the arrow with his power at the max, which blasted out with a palpable shockwave. The players in the stands had to ground themselves deeply as they felt the shockwave blow them back.
Riveting Night took a deep breath and swung the Void Blade first.
The namesake active skill of the Epic shortsword was fired out in the form of a condensed wave of blackish-grey energy that looked like a crescent moon. This energy wave traveled across the ring with force, colliding with the Phoenix Cry Arrow forcefully.
However, the Void Wave seemed like it would be unable to best the Phoenix Cry Arrow as it continued to push its way through the energy wave. It couldn't be helped though, as it was fired from a Legendary bow, was a Legendary arrow itself and was sent out with the Star Shot Technique.
Riveting Night concentrated and swung the Chrono Blade which she hadn't used yet.
The namesake active skill of the white-colored short sword was fired out in the exact same manner as the previous one. It collided with the Void Wave and the Phoenix Cry arrow, adding a dangerous variable to the already tense equation.
However, Riveting Night felt a strange power well up in her as the two energy waves connected. The Void Wave and the Chrono Wave mixed together and became a colorless crescent-shaped wave that seemed to ooze eeriness.
Every human in the room felt their bodies shiver as they felt that energy, whether it was Draco, Riveting Night or the members of Umbra. As long as they were human, they would react to this energy in such a manner.
This was Chaos Energy!
Even though Chaos Energy was definitely a high energy form that should induce feelings in others, the thing was… it didn't. Chaos was invisible to all lifeforms other than humans.
This was because humans were beings of chaos!
From our genetics, to our biological functions, to our behavior, humans embodied chaos. No matter how peaceful or orderly humans tried to be, they would always seek chaos in secret, or overtly.
This was why the human race was so feared and powerful that various races risked annihilation just to attack them. Although they succeeded, they failed to wipe out humankind and even sustained so much damage that they gave up the chase and opted to turtle up until further notice.
Humans had an instinctive connection to chaos, both sub-humans, and High Humans, with it being more intense and heavier for the latter.
Draco and Riveting Night, aside from being right in the proximity of this wave, also felt this unique energy even greater than the others due to their bloodlines.
What happened next made even Draco fearful. The Chaos Wave began to twist the laws of reality around the clash, warping the Phoenix Cry Arrow so greatly that it would ruin it if left inside.
Draco hurriedly called back the arrow and dived to one corner as the wave passed by him and hit a section of the stands. The players there screamed and fled just in time as they saw the Chaos Wave pass through the stone.
The place that had been sliced by the Chaos Wave had turned into water…
Draco gazed at Riveting Night with incomprehension, but she gazed back at him in the exact same way. She had no idea what just happened, except that it felt great being the one to wield such power.
Draco's face became purple when he saw the Phoenix Cry arrow's stats.
｢Phoenix Cry – Arrow
Passive 1 – Sonic Wave: A high-pitched sound attack is launched the moment the arrow is shot. It only damages enemy targets within the range of 1km.
Passive 2 – Return: Arrow will always return to the quiver of the user after being shot, no matter where it is sent.
Active 1 – Vermilion Fire: Activate this skill to add a disintegration by immolation effect to the arrowhead. Cooldown: 1 minute.｣