— 2 —
“Jeez. That was horrible…”
The diligent guards chased me all around the city.
That said, I was an expert of this town. Places with graphics that looked like walls but could be passed through. The best paths when moving across rooftops. The timing with which large carriages would come through and block the path. Movement routes through buildings that the guards won’t enter. All of this I knew. I was probably more familiar with this city than even those who had been born here.
“Ah! Theree’s the mister!”
At each point Poison-tan was waiting to ambush me, and each time the number of guards chasing me increased. Even then, I did not get caught, but nor was I able to shake them off, and in the end the day had come to an end.
“I have to go home now! …Let’s play again later, misster!”
Until Poison-tan said that, the game of tag between me and the guards had continued.
After Poison-tan left, the guards also started to disband in small groups. But, after making such a commotion, I probably shouldn’t loiter around the capital for the rest of the day. I made my way to an inn in the southern part of the capital and settled down.
“It’s situations like these in which exploiting bugs was supposed to be helpful…”
Thinking back on the chase scene just now, I muttered.
Filled with problems due to human error, this game Nekomimineko was a treasure trove of bugs. Within those were of course many techniques that were useful for escaping, and there were lots of videos demonstrating these techniques on the internet.
For example, there was a skill called Phantom Mirage, the 8th basic ninja sword skill that one learns.
Skill bugs are generally overlooked and left alone in Nekomimineko, with the Air Jump resulting from the Anakin Skywalker Incident and this Phantom Mirage as rare exceptions, having received a fix in the very first patch. Since Phantom Mirage was quite hard to acquire and also difficult to wield, there wasn’t much real use for it, and since its effect and impact was also quite disappointing, it wasn’t really very well known on the web, but it did indeed possess a bug with a severe impact on game progression.
This skill repeats the following process many times: teleport randomly to a location within ten meters and launch an attack. As the eighth skill, it was supposed to be a rather powerful skill, but unfortunately it was not very usable.
To begin with, teleporting randomly to somewhere within ten meters meant that unless one was surrounded by enemies, the skill was not likely to hit anything.
It does barely work as an emergency avoidance skill, but since the teleportation was in a small area it couldn’t dodge AOE attacks, and depending on the final location, it was possible to end up right in front of an enemy stuck in the after-cast stun, and often one would be unable to immediately tell where they ended up and get attacked during their confusion. To be honest, it really wasn’t a very useful skill.
But this skill had an even bigger problem than that.
This skill repeatedly teleports and attacks over a short period of time, which meant that in the span of less than half a second, your view would keep changing rapidly. This was on a completely different level from just feeling dizzy. There are individual differences, but generally, after using this skill, the player would end up feeling very sick.
As for just how bad it was, the grievance and complaints about this skill had almost become a real societal problem, so much so that they had even started slowly fixing other skills with extreme movements. However, some insane person who had continued using this skill despite the problems – actually it’s been said that over 80% of heavy Nekomimineko players are crazy, so only a small part are sane like me – had discovered a useful bug.
It was called the Phantom Mirage wall warp bug.
You can probably imagine what it is just by hearing its name. Phantom Mirage was a skill that repeatedly randomly teleports, but in the end the player will be moved to the position of the last teleport.
Since the only conditions for the teleport locations were that they were located within 10 meters of the initial location and that they were positions where the player would not collide with anything, even if it was an inaccessible area beyond a locked door or an empty area without any way in, it would still be a valid teleport target for the skill.
For example, if you were to stand in front of a locked door and continue to use Phantom Mirage, eventually your final teleport destination would be on the other side of the door, letting you enter an area that you should not have been able to.
In addition, due to the condition of it being where the player does not collide with anything, tragedies like being stuck inside a rock typical of these kind of teleportation skills are avoided, and theoretically, by continuing to cast the same skill, it is possible to return to the original location. As long as one was willing to face feeling sick, it was a bug skill with very little risk.
That said, using this bug to enter a place that should have been inaccessible could lead to further completely unexpected bugs. Due to that, unfortunately, even with how long it took before this bug was discovered, it was quickly patched.
The skill was fixed to return the player back to their original location at the end, eliminating the ability of using the skill to move around. Of course, after the patch the usage of this bug plunged, but until then, many amusing videos abusing this bug were captured and spread on the internet.
Within those videos was one called “The Masked Royal Family of Licht”.
In Nekomimineko, the royal family were essentially event characters only, and whether it was because the staff wanted to give them some special impression fitting for those in the royal family, or if it was because it was too much of a pain to make character events for them, or even if it was due to some un-Nekomimineko-like consideration such as “it would be pretty bad for the royal family to follow the player around in their adventure”, it was not possible to invite them into your party or even to enjoy a normal conversation with them.
In return, they played amazing roles in the events that involved them. In addition to the king of Licht, Fulfil, who exhibited his existence during the few audience events, the queen Merialda and the princess Shelmia also stood at the forefront of events such as the Royal Capital Invasion, using their exceptional magical talents to bring down a great many monsters. Their mysteriousness heightened by their rarity had touched at many people’s heartstrings, with both the queen and princess being regulars on the character popularity rankings. The princess Shelmia had once even contested that Helping Cheeter Mitsuki Hisame for the top spot in the popularity rankings.
In the midst of all that came this video, “The Masked Royal Family of Licht”. The royal palace was filled with areas that were off limits, and other than during audiences there was normally no way in, but in “The Masked Royal Family of Licht”, at a time that was clearly not during an audience, a room was shown, and in it was the figures of not just the king, but even of the queen and princess who were supposed to only appear during events.
In a location that should not have been accessible, three members of the royal family had gathered. Of course, this was a situation that would definitely not have been seen in normal play, made possible only through the Phantom Mirage wall warp bug.
However, what was strange about this video was not that. In that space consisting of four people including the player, this family did not utter even a single word in conversation.
The king continued to sit all important-looking like he did during audiences on a chair in the room, while the queen for some reason stood still right beside him, and, sitting on a chair across from the king, not blinking even once, was the princess. Well, basically, since the characters were all event only characters, none of their daily conversations or interactions had been implemented, so they were all just doing nothing, but, seeing these noble looking characters frozen there, not stirring or saying anything, was in a way, rather freaky.
The king and the queen, possibly because there’s a chance for the player to interact with them during audiences, would move their face along with the player’s movements just like Marielle at the Marimite Dojo, but in the princess’s case she moved not a muscle.
Honestly. She moved not even a tiny bit. No matter what the player tried to do it didn’t matter to her. While their faces and bodies were realistic, the sight of them gazing into the void was quite an oddity.
Well, I felt that the strangest person there was the cameraman who had diligently shot the silent unmoving family for over half an hour, but either way, after this incident there was a commotion on the net over the royal family characters. Especially the princess Shelmia, she received some weird nickname Puppet Princess, and her popularity tanked… is what one’d think, but in some groups it instead climbed rapidly, and in an instant the number of votes for her had far overwhelmed Hisame. That said, soon after there was some drama when it was discovered that she was not a marriageable character and the rankings immediately reversed, but that doesn’t really matter right now.
Anyways, like this, there was a big difference in the quality of the AI of Nekomimineko NPCs. Just like how there were characters that were clearly arbitrarily developed like the Puppet Princess, there were also characters like Poison-tan whose intelligent replies made one think “are you sure someone’s not secretly controlling this character?”.
When someone with an already superior AI like her obtains true intelligence, just how vicious of a person would be born? I can say that today, I had a taste of that with my own body.
If Poison-tan tries to do the same thing again the next time we meet…
“Ahh, let’s not think about that.”
Thinking about things like that would just make me depressed. For a change of mood, I headed for some tasty food. Luckily, on the first floor of this inn was a bar + restaurant where mostly adventurers gathered and exchanged small talk. I decided to fill my stomach here while killing time with some information gathering.
The topics I heard were diverse, such as the food here is delicious, or some young adventurer named Aberu was annoying, or princess Shelmia was cute, or how the monsters in the Deus Plains were recently, there was no end to them.
At first, it was amusing hearing names and places I knew being mentioned, but put another way any useful information I had already obtained in the game. Cleaning out the plates of food I ordered, I retired early back to my room.
By the way, the rent here was 1000E, double that of the inn at Ramlich. It was quite the rip-off. That said, both the inn owner with the scary face and the worker who was his daughter Alice both seemed friendly, so maybe it was just a difference in values. Something like a location premium.
Incidentally, I had chatted with the daughter Alice a bit during dinner, and she’s an amazingly nice girl. Generally, taking Train Girl and Hisame as examples, there weren’t really any good encounters in this world.
I won’t go as far as to say that I want some fated encounter like in manga where a girl falls out of a sky or a beautiful girl I crashed into at a corner turns out to be a transfer student or something like that. I would rather prefer having many more normal encounters, where we talk normally and I am soothed by their normalness, just like the encounter with Alice here.
Well, even without Alice, this inn was quite comfortable. While I was in the capital in the game, I thought “it’s just a game anyways” and stayed for free in stables and such, so I hadn’t ever been in an actual inn before, but this might unexpectedly be a good place.
I once again thought, looking at the room that was one size larger than the one in Ramlich and the bed that seemed soft and clean to the eyes.
Entering the room, I walked unsteadily towards the bed. Like that, I let myself fall forward onto the bed, letting its springiness which was one rank higher than that in Ramlich envelop me.
(It’s so, soft…)
For me right now, fighting a soft and fluffy bed would be like trying to face a ridiculously strong enemy. Sleep quickly took over, swallowing me up in no time, as my consciousness sunk into the darkness.
Like this, the curtains closed on the eventful sixth day of my life in the game.