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Chapter 12

Age 749, Saturday, June 15, Central Square

“—And Chirin manages to land a devastating blow on Blue!” The announcer shouted as the crowd roared after Chirin laid Blue out with what appeared to be a lucky punch to the chin.

Of course, I knew better— it was my doing.

Every time Blue began to commit to an attack, I threw an [Observe] at him. At first, he had thrown his mental walls up instantly, defending against the intrusion with great speed and efficiency.

Still, he couldn’t pinpoint its source, as I never got a quest failure with whenever I tried.

So, I figured, why stop there?

[Observe] had already gained three levels after my attempts, and with each try, I managed to unlock more and more of his description section.

Well, I say unlock, but I was only really spamming [Observe] onto him until I either levelled it enough to read his box completely, or he got so mentally exhausted I could read it anyway.

Of course, this likely would have never worked, had he not been busy getting pounded by Chirin.

Chirin, whose stat sheet showed lower potential than Pamput, who had been completely demolished by Blue.


Orin Temple Monk

Chirin – Lv 17
Race – Human
Age – 25

HP: 3,800
Ki: 500

Rep: 0/10,000 Neutral

Description: Chirin is a monk from the Orin Temple who came to Central City to test his skills, as well as win the 1,000,000 cash prize.

He is currently confused as to how he’s winning, but is completely willing to take advantage of the situation.

Battle Power: 54


To be fair, 54 was actually pretty high, but this guy was a monk of the Orin Temple. I’d heard of that place, those guys trained 24/7 in the martial arts.

Pamput was just a movie star; at best, he had a few hours of training everyday. Hell, Pamput hadn’t even unlocked his Ki and he was already stronger than this guy.

I shook my head for a moment before bombarding Blue with another wave of [Observe]s in quick succession, slowly, but surely, hoping to erode away at his mental strength…


Red Ribbon General

Blue – Lv 25
Race – Human
Age – 27

HP : 8,744/9,000
Ki : 3,000

Rep: 0/10,000 Neutral

Description: A General of the Red Ribbon Army, Blue has undergone ma- GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!


Red Ribbon-STOP IT STOP IT I WILL KILL WHOEVER IS BEHIND THIS!


Red Ribbon General

Blue – Lv ACE OF SPADES, IT IS THE MOST POWERFUL CARD IN THE DECK, IT CANNOT BE DEFEATED BY ANY OTHER CARD


Red Ribbon General
Blue – Lv 25
Race – Human
Age – 27

HP : 8,255/9,000
Ki: # %^$%^#$^##&$%&^$%-


Whoever you are, I’m going to-


Red Ribbon General

Blue –


“Incredible!” The announcer shouted out. “Blue has taken a direct hit to the chest, just over his heart, but has powered on through it and thrown his opponent out of the ring! BLUE WINS!”

The crowd roared as I finally got a full log of his stats pop up.


Red Ribbon General
Blue – Lv 25
Race – Human
Age – 27

HP : 7,744/9,000
Ki : 3,000

Rep: 0/10,000 Neutral

Description: A General of the Red Ribbon Army, Blue has undergone many bodily and mental enhancements to increase his strength and speed, as well as grant him a limited form of Telekinesis.

He is unsure of the limits to his potential, so he decided to participate in Central City’s Martial Arts Games in order to see where he stands among the world’s strongest fighters.

He is currently livid and afraid, because he still cannot pinpoint the source of the mental attack.

Battle Power: 105


Ping!
After finally winning a mental battle equivalent to smashing a toddler with a sledgehammer repeatedly until it let go of its candy, you have gained +3 INT!


Quest Complete!
Tickling the Red Ribbon

Do not tickle a sleeping dragon”, the saying goes. Yet, you brought a jackhammer and rammed it into the dragon’s ear-hole— and it worked! You’ve gained pertinent information on the Red Ribbon Army!

Reward for wearing Blue down: 3,000 XP, +3 WIS!



Name: Ten
Occupation: The Gamer

Level: 15 (3,100/16,000 XP)
Race: Human
Age: 14

HP: 5,357
MP: 2,765
Ki: 6,696

STR: 48 (77.28)
VIT: 62 (99.82)
AGI: 45 (72.45)
INT: 38 (49.02)
WIS: 40 (51.6)

Points: 40
Battle Power: 83.2


“That was an exciting bout!” The announcer stated as Chirin sullenly made his way back to the stage, giving General Blue a strained bow before being led away by the aides towards the gymnasium, held head high.

I paid him little mind, merely examining all of my notifications, before dismissing them with a nod, and focusing my attention back on Blue.

His muscles were still tightly coiled, ready to strike at any who get in his path. The announcer beside him seemed to be completely oblivious to this, as he got the crowd to cheer multiple times for the blond experimental soldier.

Experimental soldier— what the hell was Red Ribbon thinking?

How much power did these guys want!? Was it not enough that their name was spoken in fear far and wide? What was their purpose


Quest Alert
“Red Ribbon of Blood and Death” forcibly initiated

Figure out what the Red Ribbon Army is after, and if necessary, stop them.

Reward: ?, ?, ?
Failure Penalty: Death.


Okay, game. Thank you.

I sighed in irritation as Blue stepped off the stage, his wide eyes still scanning his surroundings until they landed on me for a long moment, scrutinizing me intently.

For a moment, I thought the jig was up, but he shifted his gaze elsewhere, brushing past me almost uncaringly.

“With Blue winning his Semi-Final, only two matches remain in the tournament!” The announcer grinned, pointing towards me and Suruna. “We shall now begin the battle between Ten, and Suruna! Please take your position on the stage!”

The two of us slowly made our way on stage, assuming our position with little fanfare as the crowd’s cheers began to die down while the tension in the air built.

Not that it really affected me. [Gamer’s Mind] really was an unfair skill, I thought as I watched Suruna try to hype herself up, adjusting her white dougi and dark green hakama.

I stared at her for a moment, before using [Observe].


Suruna”
Minako – Lv 22

Race – Human
Age – 19

HP: 4,800
Ki : 1,950
Rep: 0/10,000 Neutral

Description: “Suruna” grew up in an all-girl’s school and grew to value Kenpo’s and Aikido’s techniques after watching a few professional matches when she was a little girl.

She set out to prove that she, as a girl, could also practice these styles, training day and night to reach the strength and skill required to compete with the pros.

She currently is planning on fighting you all out, despite thinking you’re a cute kid.

Battle Power: 72


She pulled at her bracers, taking a few moments to adjust them before giving me a respectful bow, which I returned.

“Will Ten, our young rookie manage to earn himself another victory, or will Suruna win this bout!?” The announcer paused for a moment. “Let’s find out! You may… Begin!”

I sank into my Tiger Stance, eyeing Suruna- or should I be calling her Minako- intently.

In response, she assumed her own stance, her feet firmly planted on the ground with both hands extended, hands open and waiting for me to make the first move.

I wondered for a moment why she didn’t do this against the Sumo wrestler in her previous match, but I figured she wanted to conserve energy- plus, beating on a Sumo fighter would have probably led her nowhere fast.

It was a bit of a reach, but her expertise would probably be in grappling, which was less about strength and more about speed and reaction times to allow for effective countering.

Of course, I didn’t actually know what the Aikido moves actually were, so it was safe to assume that her stance was some form of trap.

But, even knowing this, there was no real way for me to counter it. Technically, I could start blasting her with Ki Balls until she was beaten, but that idea was foolishness itself.

General Blue’s Battle Power was even higher than mine, and I had no intentions to show him my abilities before our match, unless there was no other choice.

With that thought in mind, I approached Suruna at high speed, deciding to test her defenses out and try and find an opening.

I started with a series of feints, stopping my attacks a mere instant before I fully committed into them in order to see her reaction.

She did not move a single muscle for any of them.

That was… Odd.

“Astounding!” The announcer shouted at his microphone. “Ten has been testing his opponent’s defenses, but Suruna has responded by not reacting at all! Could it be that she’s frozen with fear?”

As the crowd roared, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at that.

Frozen with fear? She’d perfectly read all of the visual cues my body gave off when it was attacking and then suddenly not.

This is exactly why I didn’t want to show my hand, here. I bet that General Blue could do the same thing “Suruna” was currently doing. The question was, could I do the same thing?

Throwing caution to the wind, I struck at her neck, hoping to quickly knock her out of the fight. She smirked, catching my strike with ease, her fingers digging into my forearm with great force.

She twisted her body, using her strong stance as well as the momentum generated from my strike to lift me off the floor and above her head, before she slammed me down, hard.

-300 HP!

I was stunned from the blow, slowly regaining my senses as I tried to get back to my feet. But, Suruna wasn’t down, following her takedown move by kneeling down to me and smashing her right fist into my stomach, followed by my chin.

-550 HP!

-700 HP!

The extra pain was enough to galvanize me into action, snatching her right hand as it attempted to strike me a third time, pulling her down to me and socking her hard in the temple, laying her out on her back, the announcer shouting all the while.

I rose as the crowd roared in approval at the brutality we’d both shown, dusting myself off before standing at the ready.

“And Ten manages to come back into the fight, by laying out his opponent in a single, but highly devastating punch!” The announcer commentated, beginning the count. “One! Two! Th- And Suruna gets back up, looking hurt but with a determination to remain in the fight! Truly an inspiration to any of our audience.”

A quick check at my HP bar showed that it was down to 3,807. That punch I managed to land on Suruna’s face had done a surprising amount of damage— but then again, strikes to the temple were known to be lethal.


“Suruna”
HP: 3,900/4,800
Ki : 1,400/1,950


I’d done 900 damage in a single shot? Her Ki was down 550, as well. Had she been using it to defend herself? I watched her settle back into a stance, a bruise quickly forming on her right temple.

Attacking her head on would just put me in her range once again. Loathe as I was to admit it, I had no real idea on how to counter her grabs, aside from what was obvious.

Neither my Tiger Style, nor my recently acquired Palm Karate Style informed me of any way I could deal with her moves— save by outright overpowering her.

The problem was, that would open up a whole new set of problems, as she could simply wail on me as I attempted to move out of a grab. Or, possibly breaking my own limbs as I attempted to escape her grasp.

No, fighting her close range wouldn’t do.

But, then again… An idea began to form in my mind as I clenched my fist for a moment, running the math through my head, before nodding with a grin and rushing towards my opponent.

“What’s this!?” The announcer shouted. “It seems as though Ten has abandoned his fighting position and is attempting to attack Suruna head on! Has he not learned from his previous mistake!?

I ignored the announcer as I made feint after feint, making her think I was trying the same tactics, slowly luring her into my trap. Judging by the slowly forming smirk on her face, it was probably working.

Then, I committed into a roundhouse kick, watching her grab my foot, the impact making her grunt with force as she held my leg at bay.

Perfect.

-1,200 Ki!

Ha!” My Ki burst forth, smashing into Suruna’s chest with great force and sending her flying off of the stage, smashing into the wall before dropping onto the ground like a ragdoll.

Silence met this turn of events for a long moment, the crowd looking somewhat confused as to what happened.

“Incredible!” The announcer broke through the silence. “Rookie Ten blew his opponent away out of the ring! I haven’t seen a move like this for a long time! He truly is a prodigy!”

Many in the crowd gained a look of understanding and began to cheer, the rest of the sheep following along with them. I snuck a glance to Master Palm; he looked outright astonished at what he’d just seen.

I snorted. This wasn’t even really all that much. I’d trained pretty extensively with my [Ki Ball].


Ki Ball (Lv 30 – 83%/Active): Since time immemorial, living creatures have learned to harness their life energy and bring it to the surface. The Ki Ball is the most basic of techniques.

It has a base cost of 300 Ki and deals 700 damage. Further damage will require more Ki, at the same ratio of cost. Note that the Ki Ball will become larger and slower the more Ki you inject into it.


The skill had gained so much concussive that I didn’t even need to use [Ki Concussion] anymore. I watched the aides put “Suruna” on a stretcher, throwing an [Observe] on her just to be sure I didn’t hurt her too much.

As I expected, it seemed that she was able to use her Ki to shield herself, exactly the way I did with my MP. I’d have to figure that trick out after this tournament.

I walked off the stage and sat on the ground by one of the walls, closing my eyes and initiating [Meditation], hearing the announcer state that the final match would take place in twenty minutes.

“That was an impressive move you did, boy.” A voice interrupted me a few minutes later. I opened my eyes to see my opponent standing in front of me.

His face was set in a strange mix between respect and wariness, like he wasn’t really sure what to make of me. “Tell me, how did you manage to reach such level of strength?”

I stared at him for a long moment, before shrugging and getting back to my feet. I still had to look up, though

“I just trained my ass off, did lots of meditation.” I gave him a somewhat truthful answer, checking my HP and Ki bars and running the numbers through my head. I’d be healed to full in the remaining time— or very close to it.

I was curious to see what his current stats were— the damage he’d taken from Chirin seemed to be completely gone, already. Was that another part of his acquired powerset?

“All the more impressive, then.” Blue praised, looking me up and down as if studying me intently, before turning and walking away. “May the best man win.”

“..Right. Sure.” I replied half-heartedly, quickly pulling up the [Observe] log I had on him; no mention of regeneration. But, then again, he didn’t know his own limits.

There was no way to tell.

All too quickly, the moment to begin the final match came, and the announcer began to hype the crowd up, the tension in the air rising higher and higher, until it was an almost palpable sensation.

“Are you ready, ladies and gentlemen?” The crowd roared in a frenzied response to the announcer’s question. “It’s time for the final showdown! I don’t know about you folks, but seeing these two fighters has been an absolute delight! Please, make your way onto the stage, gentlemen!”

Yes, I thought as I got onto the stage. There was no way to tell, but I realized I simply didn’t care.

The unknown aspect of it, it excited me somehow, in a way I didn’t really understand.

“These two fighters were not even expected to reach the semi-finals; but, time and again, they have shown us that they are just full of surprised!” The announcer gestured towards Blue. “Blue, the powerhouse, taking his opponents’ hits without flinching and sending them packing!”

Then, the announcer turned to me. “Ten, the prodigy who managed to beat veteran contestant Batara, as well as the mysterious Suruna, both fighters decades his senior!”

“Who will win, and be declared champion of Central’s Martial Arts Games!?” The announcer looked between the two of us as we settled into our stances, before jumping off the platform and shouting “Begin!”

Neither of us wasted any time, rushing towards one another without any fanfare.

“My god!” The announcer shouted as I reached the older man, ducking under his punch and throwing my own towards his midsection. “It seems our fighters have engaged in high speed combat right from the get go!”

The strike missed, Blue having leaped back to avoid it, before rushing to me, elbow ready to strike at my face.

I raised my arms to block the strike, feeling his elbow impact against my forearms with great force, sending me skidding back slightly.

-550 HP!

Ignoring the slight pain as well as the announcer going crazy at our exchange, I moved my left arm just in time to intercept Blue’s follow-up right hook, sending my own right back at him.

My fist collided with his solar plexus, taking the breath out of him and giving me enough time to raise his right arm and plunge my fingers under his armpit, hearing the crowd hiss in shock at the brutality I was showing.

I made to continue, but didn’t take into account the man retaliating with a harsh knee to my ribs, sending me staggering back and falling on my ass while he fell to his knees, both of us trying to cope with the pain we’d just inflicted on each other.

-1,400 HP!

“Both fighters are down!” The announcer shouted as the crowd cheered in delight at what they were witnessing.

“The sheer speed, skill and brutality each of them showed is astonishing! But, will they be able to get back on their feet before the count hits ten? One! Two! Three! Four! Fi-” He paused for a moment as Blue got back to his feet, staring at me, fire in his eyes. “-ve! Six! Seven!”

I forced myself up, the pain having finally dulled down to manageable levels.

This guy hit even harder than Ox-King! Enhanced strength, indeed.

“Ten has risen to his feet!” The announcer shouted, the excitement completely sweeping him away. “This is easily one of the most show-stopping fights I’ve had the pleasure to witness!”

Blue attacked without warning, leaping high into the air and coming down, leg extended in a gravity assisted drop kick.

I jumped to the side, avoiding the strike as it smashed into the floor, shattering it with ease.

I lashed at his unprotected side with a kick, but he took the blow head on, holding onto my leg and raising his hand, bringing it down on my kneecap in the hopes of snapping my leg.

Shit! I called up my [Mana Shield] as fast as I could, taking his multiple strikes and feeling my MP deplete quickly.

-50 MP!

-700 MP!

-700 MP!

-700 MP!

Extending both hands, I drew forth my Ki.

-1800 Ki!

Ha! Much like with Suruna, the [Ki Ball] slammed into Blue’s body with great force, exploding on impact and sending him flying back.

I fell down on my ass, cradling my leg as I dispelled my [Mana Shield], watching in shock as the man recovered from the hit, his own body glowing faintly blue with energy.

He twisted himself in mid-air, reducing his momentum by dropping onto the stage floor in a well-practiced roll, standing very close to the edge of the ring.

I quickly got back to my feet, [Gamer’s Body] working overtime as it tried to slowly crush the sensation of pain into a background noise.

A quick check of my stats showed some scary results:


HP: 3,450/5,357
MP: 614/2,765
Ki: 4,896/6,696


Holy crap, if I hadn’t thrown him off me, that match would have already been lost.

Though, with the amount of Ki I had just blasted into him..

That much amounted to 4,200 damage! Not to mention the strikes I’d landed on him before— he had to be approaching his limit, just like I was.

Indeed, as the blue glow around him faded, his body began to shake, the wounds I’ve inflicted on him over the course of the match beginning to take their toll.

To the normal eye, it would have been unnoticeable; the involuntary muscle spasms, the rising and falling of his chest, among other things.

He stood tall, fierce and proud, but I could tell our exchanges had hurt him.

As if on cue, I winced, the agony in my knee making itself known as my knee throbbed.

I grit my teeth and put more pressure on it as I took a deep breath, the pain continuing to fade as I prepared to charge towards him once more.

The announcer went crazy as we once again dashed towards one another to engage in high speed melee. I stopped my charge, sidestepping a straight kick, trying to move closer to him.

However, Blue saw my intent, his face set into a determined grimace as he pivoted, turning his straight kick into a roundhouse that knocked me aside, but not much else.

-300 HP!

A relatively weak strike, only meant to delay me, I thought as shifted his stance slightly, sending a punch right at my face.

I responded by taking a page from Suruna’s book, grabbing Blue’s offending forearm and lifting him with a shout of effort before slamming his body onto the ring harshly.

Blue was glowing as he smashed into the floor, cringing in pain at the impact, but quickly retaliating by sending a kick to my face.

I moved to dodge or to activate [Mana Shield], only to find that I couldn’t do either!

You have been afflicted with [Paralysis]. Duration: 0.5 seconds.

The notification had popped up on the side as I took the kick to the head, tumbling to the right with the force of the impact, crumbling onto the floor like a puppet with its strings cut.

-2,300 HP!

I heard the announcer shouting something or the other, but I groaned as the de-buff faded, slowly getting back to my feet, while my opponent stayed down.

Faintly, I realized the announcer was counting.

“—Seven! Eight! Nine!” Blue was stirring, trying to get up. “Ten! Contestant Ten has won the match! Ten has won Central’s Martial Arts Games!”


Ping!

For enduring two beatdowns in quick succession, your Physical Endurance has gained five levels!

Physical Endurance (Lv 32 – 25%/Passive) – The body’s durability increases, allowing for less damage taken. 34% Decrease in Physical Damage Taken.


Ping!

Martial Arts has leveled up six times!

Martial Arts (Lv 37 – 54%/Passive): Many ages ago, the first people watched animals in nature, marveling at their different methods of catching prey; the ferociousness of the tiger, the patience of the mantis, and so on. Naturally, they began to emulate their movements and taught others to follow these same movements. Passively increases STR, VIT and AGI by 38%.

Known Styles: Tiger Style, Palm Karate Style


Quest Complete!
You have won Central’s Martial Arts Games!

15,000 XP!
1,000,000 Zeni! (To be received from an aide)


Ping!

You have leveled up!


Name: Ten
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 16 (2,100/17,000 XP)
Race: Human
Age: 14

HP: 1,595/5,750
MP: 780/2,865
Ki: 5,130/7,187

STR: 48 (80.18)
VIT: 62 (103.54)
AGI: 45 (75.15)
INT: 38 (49.02)
WIS: 40 (51.6)

Points: 45
Battle Power: 86.3


I’d won the battle of attrition, I realized. He had more health than me, but I had the damage required to bring him low enough to not be able to move for a while.

I quickly skimmed through the notifications, dismissing them as the crowd cheered and whistled at Blue, who slowly got back to his feet, pushing an aide away as he walked towards me, extending his hand.

I stared at it for a moment, before shaking it firmly, the crowd cheering even louder at the sight.

“Truly a sight to behold, these two fighters who have been almost completely consumed by battle are now shaking hands in a show of true sportsmanship! This is what martial arts is all about!” The announcer praised with a grin.

A smile wormed its way on my face. “That was one of the toughest fights I’ve ever been in.” I said honestly.

“Mine, as well.” He grinned back, letting go of my hand in order to grab at his side. An aide rushed toward him, gently guiding him off the ring.

“Wait.” Blue stopped the aide, before turning to me. “We will meet again, Ten. Count on it.”

I frowned and slipped away from an aide, watching as Blue was led away into the gymnasium, and out of sight.

“Feh. ‘We will meet again’, he says.” I scoffed, but couldn’t shake the slight feeling of unease that blossomed within me.

It was probably going to happen.

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