Chapter 73:

At The Blade's Mercy

Red-Black Course

As the words left their mouths, the two boys both jumped back a step and threw their dice on the ground, activating the items and officially starting their match.

Once each die touched the ground, a large puff of smoke burst out of them, covering the entire aquarium hallway in a mysterious fog.

“Level 5 Weapon, Chomper Cannon!” Once the smoke settled, Lewis shouted, raising his arm high in the air with a giant cylinder with a toothy, cartoonish fish mouth attached to its barrel.

Moving his hand in front of Mike’s position, Lewis continued:


Once the words left his mouth, his hand pulled the trigger. A loud bang echoed through the hallway, and the fish head fired itself at its foe while still attached to the barrel by a metallic spring-like system.

Before the fish bullet could make its way to Mike, however, a grin formed on the boy’s face.

Beneath the ground, a giant net spawned, ranging from right in front of Mike’s feet all the way to Lewis’s position. In an instant, the net sprung itself upward, flipping Lewis and the entire fish head onto each other, while its weights at the ends of the net planted themselves tightly on the ground, stopping the boy from moving out of his spot.

“Level 4 Trap, Fish Net!” Mike gleefully said, giving his hands out to make a victory sign. “Since this is an aquarium, you’re as good as fish on a boat, my friend!”

While Lewis was still struggling to untangle himself from the net, Mike continued, looking at the two dice in his hands:

“Now, what to use… Level 1 is usually a dumb, hard-to-use item, but in exchange, those are usually very durable and can be used as many times as I want. The higher the level, the stronger the effect, but it also usually comes with a special cost…”

“All right!” Punching his fist onto his hand as an idea came to his mind, Mike declared. “I’ll use this! Level…”

Before the boy could drop his die onto the ground to activate it, a sudden rummaging rocked the entire hallway. It started with some dust and small pebbles, but soon enough, the entire ceiling came falling like a meteor shower, quickly engulfing both Mike and Lewis without giving anyone time to react.

Since it was still a game world and the falling debris wasn’t actually counted as weapons, there was no damage done to anyone. However, thanks to the dust that followed along, vision within the area was greatly reduced, leaving Mike coughing for air and squinting his eyes trying to identify his initial target.

The boy finally saw a silhouette right in front of him. Not wasting a single moment, Mike pulled out his die once more.

The next moment he realized it, his entire right arm was gone from his body. There was no blood, but an excruciating pain still ran through his entire nervous system as the boy kneeled and screamed in agony, desperately holding onto his now empty shoulder socket with a hole made out of digitized glitches.

Had Mike taken just a split second to think about it, this result wouldn’t have happened, for the silhouette that appeared before him was not being caught in the net he laid out. Instead, it was standing tall, and even now, the figure was still standing tall before him.

From the dust emerged Yusei, in his hand was a shining, silver knife with tiny, razor-sharp edges.

“Level 5 Weapon, Kamaitachi,” the ninja said in an icy tone. “Originally a Fuuma Clan’s heirloom, it’s now a special Weapon in this game world with the unique ability to deal 2 damage to a player instead of one.”

True to his words, when Mike gritted his teeth to endure the pain and looked down at his feet, two out of the three pink hearts that were supposed to be there had already turned black. Just minutes after the game started, Mike was already down to his last life.

“Oh, and don’t worry too much,” Yusei, meanwhile, continued without much emotion. “The pain might be too much, but the wound itself isn’t going to last long. Your arm will grow back soon… that is, if you’re still alive in this game to use it.”

Though the threat was from him, Yusei did not move towards Mike to finish the boy off. Instead, he turned his attention to Lewis, who was still stuck in Mike’s trap with no hope of getting out soon.

The ninja moved his knife arm at an inhuman speed. Before Lewis could realize what Yusei was doing, the net that held him captive had already been cut to smithereens. The one in question then raised out his knife hand against Lewis, and along with it were only a few words – little, but with great weight:

“Here you go. Finish the job.”

“… Finish the job?” Lewis’s eyes widened in disbelief.

“Yeah, finish the job,” Yusei continued. “He’s injured, and he’s on his last life. You want to fight him, right? I’ve given you the chance to do so.”

“I…” Lewis’s hands shook under Yusei’s chilling gaze. The boy’s breathing got faster with each second that he hesitated, but no matter how hard he tried, Lewis just couldn’t do the simple task of reaching out his hand to take the knife in Yusei’s.

“What are you hesitating for?” Meanwhile, his current teammate squinted his eyes in doubt and disappointment. “I’ve set up everything for you, didn’t I?”

“I… this…” On the other hand, Lewis was struggling to put his feelings into words. Tried as he might, all that came out were just a face sweating buckets and words being pushed up and down his throat, unable to escape his mouth like a pile of vomit desperately trying to erupt.

“Come on, I don’t have all day,” Yusei, tired of waiting, pushed the knife onto Lewis’s hand himself. “This boy is easy pickings; I have to find the others in case they run into that Zain.”

But even with the knife in his hand, Lewis still didn’t move. And Yusei was losing his patience.

“Lewis, what’s wrong?” It was a normal question, but within the young man’s voice was a hint of anger – the first shred of anger he had shown since he appeared. “You have literally everything on a silver platter. Just do it already!”

Finally, after the shout from his opposition, the blond boy woke up from his daydream. However, the way he returned to reality did not bring joy to Yusei for one bit.

Lewis, with his hands still shivering from an unknown emotion, dropped the knife onto the ground.

“I can’t do it!” In the end, the boy shouted with all his might. “This is wrong!”

“… What?” Yusei could only utter a single word.

Lewis, on the other hand, was gasping for air. There was nothing wrong with him, physically. Even if he was caught in the trap, the boy still took no damage. But it didn’t stop him from hyperventilating due to the stress building up within him.

It took him a while for the boy to finally open his mouth again.

“This… this is wrong!”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Mike… Mike didn’t do anything!” Lewis shouted. “And this is just a game! Why didn’t you go after the dangerous one first?”

“… Are you serious right now?” A small vein could be seen popping on Yusei’s head. “This is a game! His arm will grow back! Look, it’s already…”

As the young man gestured towards the otherwise still kneeling boy to prove his point, suddenly, his head was hit by a flying card. It didn’t hurt at all, of course, but the fact that he was hit remained true. And once Yusei turned his gaze to his feet, one of his three hearts had turned black.

Standing opposite him was a smiling Mike – still bearing the pain from earlier, but enough to stand up with a healed arm, while his other one held a deck of cards.

“Level 1 Weapon, Playing Cards…” Mike struggled to form a smile. “Extremely weak, and only works if it hits an opponent in a vital point… Those are the head, neck, left chest, and crotch… but in exchange, it’s a versatile projectile weapon with the greatest number of uses in the entire game…”

“… Consider yourself lucky that I’m not personally killing you,” Yusei tried to grin, but the veins appearing on his hands had shown everything they needed to know about his anger.

One more time, the young man turned to Lewis:

“Finish him off, now.”

“Why? Why do you want me to get Mike so bad?”

“It’s simple…” Yusei answered, but paused for a second to grab an incoming card with his fingers right as it was about to fly towards his head. With a quick throw, the card landed straight on Mike’s arm, deliberately avoiding his vitals.

“There won’t be a next time, fatso,” Yusei grunted, before issuing Lewis once more:

“And you. You wanna know why so bad? Fine; it’s because I want you to realize where exactly you’re going. I’ll rephrase once again, Lewis: this isn’t an all-sunshine-and-rainbow sport. This is a game of life and death, and if you want to live, then you have to steel yourself for the worst consequences. This is the result of you stepping into our world.”

Sweat poured on Lewis’s forehead. The boy had learned of the situation when Yusei first told him about his secrets, but never before had he imagined himself killing off someone. Even his battle with Mike just now, though both were indeed serious, was still no more than the two playing a game with each other. If Mike had lost, then Lewis would convince him to return to his good ways, and if Lewis had lost, he would have just accepted the outcome and f. Life and death were matters never appearing in his mind, but seeing Yusei’s expression, Lewis was painfully reminded about how much danger he was actually in.

The boy slowly looked at the knife in his hand, then to a still-standing, but much-weakened Mike. Constantly gripping and letting go of the object, Lewis was at a standstill.

“Are you still hesitating? If you lose this game, you die! Just do it already!”

Yusei’s shout towards Lewis was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. However, the scales of his consciousness had tilted in a way that no one else could foresee.

“I… I can’t,” Lewis, as if being struck down by his guilt, kneeled in agony. “I can’t do it. Even if it’s a game, putting this real knife in my hand, asking me to kill my own friend… it’s just impossible.”

One couldn’t say that Yusei wasn’t surprised at the turns of events, but after a brief moment, the young man only let out a sigh.

“… Hypocrite,” he scoffed. “You were fine with attacking with that giant cannon, but when you have a knife in your hand, it’s suddenly no.”

“T-That was different! Obviously, the cannon isn’t real, I can do whatever I want with it! But the knife…”

“Whatever,” Yusei cracked his neck as if trying to break off the conversation itself. “You failed.”

Before Lewis had realized it, the knife was already in Yusei’s hand. Without letting the others answer, his merciless arm swung.

In an instant, both Lewis and Mike were split – the former in thirds, and the latter in half. Following suit, their pink hearts all turned to black, and their severed bodies slowly faded away into bits of data, before disappearing into thin air.

Turning to the exit, Yusei mumbled:

“As for Michael… a surprising pass.”

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