Perception.

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It was a skill I could use while within battle that was not related to combat itself.
In other words, it was a support skill.
However, for a person like me who couldn't use recovery or support magic, I'd had to find a different way.

One of the different ways dealt with perceiving enemies' positions.
If I could figure out where they were before they got too close, I could catch them off guard and throw the first punch, which was the most important step.
At least, I thought so.

To achieve that, I learned Perception.
If a PKer got close, or if they invaded while on a quest, I'd get a notification of their existence — thus the sound I heard earlier.

“I might've rushed this too much,” I muttered.

Whatever.
What was done, was done.
I downed some potions worth near a hundred thousand gold.

[Used a Critical UP potion.]

[Used an Offense UP potion.]

[Used a Defense UP potion.]

[Used a Magic Defense UP potion.]

[Used a Speed UP potion.]

[Used an All Status UP potion.]

“Phew,” I sighed.

I was desperate, but even this might not be enough to take these guys down.
All the potions did was make it not quite zero percent.

“Let's get this over with.”

I headed off in the direction of where the PKers were lying in wait, with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company.

“Fuuuck, I never thought I'd see another peddler quest out here in this game again.”

“Shut the fuck up! He'll hear us if he gets close!”

“What's he gonna do even if he did?”

“…True.
It's two on one, plus he's got that shit he's carrying.”

“Seriously, dude's a dumbass.
He's gotta be a noob.”

Yeah, well, this dumbass just heard everything you said.
I couldn't really get mad about it though, because then I'd just be agreeing with every word.
The best route available to me right now was to just stay calm and clear.

“Whoa, hey! There he is.
Just the one guy.”

“I see him.
Damn, he really is alone.”

Just when I thought it'd gotten really quiet, those guys spoke up.

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Damn it! They had a Perception skill, too! I had to throw the first punch before they zeroed in on my position!

“…Ugh.”

Just as I was about to step out, doubt struck me.
…Could I really manage this on my own? I had almost no chance of making it through this.
I didn't have any experience fighting other players.
This was my last run, and that's how I'd made it this far through the mission.
I was going to fight these guys when I, a complete coward, ran away from fighting regular, old monsters?

I'd never win.

Ugh, fuck it!

What a time for my shitty habits to pop up.

Never, never — I'd had my heart set on this, and there I went again, doubting myself.
That's what I always did — doubted myself and then ran away.

“Hey, there he is!”

As if pierced by a needle, my heart pounded in my chest.

Damn it, what was I even doing?!

“AAAHHH!” someone yelled out, and I forced myself back into the same state of mind I'd had in the silence.

I charged into the direction the voice came from.

“Whoa!”

The arrow raced through the air in a heartbeat.
I needed to shift out of the way just barely, but I wasn't going to make it.

It struck my shoulder.
I felt the slightest bit of pain as my HP fell a bit.

“Got him.”

“…The fuck? It's a trader! You've gotta be fucking with me!”

Standing in front of me were the two PKers — the one who had shot the arrow at me, and another with a dagger in his hand, his face plastered with a grin.
They'd taken a pincer movement, with one in front of me and one behind.

[??? Lv20]

[??? Lv20]

I focused my gaze on the two PK players with question marks for their names.
They were both the same level as me.
I'd still held out hope that they might be a lower level than I was…

“…How, is this possible…?”

…I wasn't winning this fight — there was no way in hell.

Ah, damn it, stop thinking that way! Don't you even think of losing!

“YAAAHHH!”

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Partly from desperation, I waved my axe in the air as I charged at the guy holding the dagger.

Don't hesitate.

Anything's better than standing still — just move!

Focus — eyes forward!

Maybe there are two of them, and maybe they're PKers, but who, cares?

The only thing that should be on your mind right now, is killing them!

“Whoa, hey, he's comin' for you, Rei!”

“On him.”

In sight of my wavering field of vision, I knew for a fact an arrow was being aimed at me.
He would pull back the string, let it loose, and an arrow would come barreling straight at me.
So, I was just going to…

JUMP!

“Huh?!”

“What?!”

It went zipping through the air, aimed at my exact height, and whipping right past me.
Keeping the momentum alive, I ran straight at the dagger dude.

“Slash!”

“…Nope!”

I'd immediately unleashed my skill at the perfect moment.
The timing had been exact, and I'd kept the archer in check.
Everything had gone just right, but…

“Man, you're one slow fucker.”

He'd dodged it, and with absolute ease.
The difference in our classes had become as clear as crystal.
I still wasn't going to let it get to me.

In the corner of my eye, I saw the other guy ready yet another arrow.
So, what was my plan? Dodge it? Or ignore it and keep fighting as was?

“Slash.”

This time, the dagger dude released one of his own skills.
I saw the blue light, and knew I had no choice.

“Slash! Ugh, gah!”

I unleashed my own skill, eating both of their attacks directly.

“Dude, this guy is nuts! Hey, give me some support!”

My attack hit him unaware, the bombardment greatly breaking down his defense.
After all, axes hit harder than daggers.

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This was my time to shine — I readied another skill.

“Power Shot!”

“Guh!”

I was pretty sure it was an arrow, but the shot felt like lead when it pierced my stomach.
The attack flipped me around, but…

“Argh! Ahhh!”

No! If I retreated now, that was it! I'd be finished!

Feeling like I was literally knocking at death's door, I threw myself over the dagger dude, both shouting and raising my axe over my head.

I didn't care how dirty that mud was.

I didn't care how shitty I looked.

I was going to kill them, even if it killed me!

“Slash!”

“You–! Power Shot!”

“Slash — guh!”

With him incapable of counterattacking, I started beating him black and blue with my skills.
I didn't give a rat's ass if archer boy over there snuck in some attacks at me — my sole focus was on cutting this guy into pieces.

“F-fuck…you…”

I just needed a little bit more.
I could see the guy's HP gauge whittling down, and all I needed was just maybe ten percent more…

The problem was…I hadn't paid any attention to my own HP.

“Power Shot!”

[You died.]

My body suddenly felt light.

Oh, no wonder.
I guess I died.

“God, that guy was a dumbass.”

“Making us do all that work for nothing…”

As I listened to them talk, I felt something rise up within me, something I've never felt before.
It wasn't anger, nor was it a sense of regret, but rather something completely opposite of that.
All I could help but think was that…this had been the funnest fight I'd ever had.
It felt as if something were stirring from within me.

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I should've been more careful.
I guessed…this was it.

[Use Sacrificial Doll to revive?]

The answer was a resounding [YES].
I wasn't going to waste another chance.

In RL, a Sacrificial Doll was a rare item costing around 500,000 gold.
You could only use it once per battle, but it would bring you back to life.
From what I'd heard, it was an item the top players would wait to use until the absolute right moment for it.
The price tag on the potions couldn't even compare to the amount of the doll, but then again, the effects of each were just as incomparable.

The most valuable part of it is how it bares truth to the enemies' carelessness.
If someone like me were to use something like that here…
Big oof on you guys, man.

I held my breath as I came back to life.

I'd catch them off guard.
I couldn't even begin to say how stoked I was to see how they'd feel getting killed by a trader like me.

“Slash!”

“Wha–?!”

“Huh?!”

The moment I revived, I unleashed my skill straight at dagger dude's back.
I got a damage bonus for my surprise sneak attack, and as for that remaining ten percent…

[??? has died.]

For the first time in my life, I'd succeeded in killing a Player Killer.
There were no words to express how overjoyed I was.
And, together with that taste of victory…

[BEEP — BEEP — you gained — BEEP]

[BEEP — BEEP — you have — BEEP]

[You can now use “BEEP”, “BEEP”, “BEEP” — you gained — BEEP]

All I heard was noise bouncing around in my head.
I'm sure it was some kind of announcement, or something.
I couldn't pay it any attention right now, though.

Anything that didn't have to do with this battle was useless to me.
I can't lose my focus in this fight, no matter what — not until that guy was dead by my hands!

“Wait, what?!”

The archer, stunned, looked at the ash that used to be dagger dude.

“Pfft, you must be desperate if you're gonna use a doll!”

Don't pay him any attention.
Kill him without mercy.

Look for every hole in his defense.
Don't waver.
No words were necessary; just focus on the fight at hand.

“Just one left to go.”

Once more, I took a deep breath.

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