The Oracle Paths - Chapter 1082
1082 Jake The Cheater
A tall, pale man with long black hair streaked with a few scattered white strands had just crash-landed like a missile into the previously undisturbed expanse of water. Almost as quickly as he had come, the river spat him back out onto the shore from whence he came, the stranger convulsing in agony like a fish out of water.
The spectral energy overwhelming his body was pure chaos, wreaking havoc deep within his soul.
“How fucking stupid,” Hephais remarked, slack-jawed, arms crossed, and clearly not in the mood to offer any assistance.
“Maybe he’s got a death wish or he’s backed into a corner?” Jake surmised nonchalantly.
This guy wasn’t one of the Myrtharian Nerds, but he wasn’t a native either. He was a Player. Friend or foe? That was yet to be determined.
His armor of dark jade spitting out purple flames and his mismatched eyes – one icy blue, the other blood red – made him look like a devil in human skin. Since he had taken a dive fully dressed into the river, his gear was now subjected to a forced spirit enchantment.
The helmet he wore disintegrated a moment later, as did his boots, gauntlets, and sword. Simultaneously, the spiritual fluctuations of the stranger and the remaining parts of his armor intensified. The previously purple flames of his armor now radiated an even more dangerous aura.
“He made it,” Jake praised, giving a silent nod to his courage. Without even scanning him, he could feel the intense pressure emanating from the guy. Clearly, both he and his gear were now enchanted to a solid +2.
For an average Player who’d struggled just to stay alive up to this point, this was a game-changing gamble. It was the lottery the Oracle tossed to these desperate Players, their one shot at upping their game. Of course, it wasn’t without its dangers…
Considering the average survival rate of Players in a Fifth Ordeal, a 50% chance to turn the tables was a pretty sweet deal. But the real danger after such a victory was getting too cocky…
Far from satisfied, the man, having just cheated fate, cast a greedy glance westward, where the river flowed. He unfurled a pair of membranous demonic wings and flew off without hesitation. No doubt, he aimed to dive again, hoping to reach a patch where the Spirit Lumyst Water was more potent.
“You think he’ll make it?” Hephais mused.
Jake pondered for a beat, then nodded, “Probably. Dude’s got luck on his side.”
“Ah, same vibe as Ulfar, I get it.” The Egaean mumbled, clearly green with envy over these esoteric skills.
Every time he’d almost botched an assassination mission, it was because of targets like these. Catching them off guard was damn near impossible.
A harrowing scream echoed from the direction the unknown Player had gone. Squinting westward, Jake winced and sighed,
“Guess not that lucky after all… He survived, but his precious armor is toast. Probably his last Advanced Aether Artefact.”
Then again, not many could match Ulfar’s obscene luck. Next to him, other Beskyrians, Tim, and even Jake just seemed cursed.
Still, this gutsy Player’s predicament had given Jake the inspiration he was missing. As he readied himself to act on his newfound plan, another splash interrupted them. Then another… And another.
More or less discreetly, Players were popping up everywhere, interacting with the river’s water – some dunking their gear, others taking the plunge themselves.
As expected, desperation didn’t always beat the odds, and several of them disintegrated upon first contact with the water. Their screams of agony and distorted faces of regret at their demise said it all.
But among them, there were also those who knew what they were doing, who, like Jake and Hephais, had at least some degree of confidence to withstand water with such a low spirit energy concentration.
Among these was a young woman with elvish beauty wearing a sheer dress. She fearlessly entered the water after taking off her sandals. Her lavender-tinted skin and long silver hair blended perfectly with the ghostly shimmer accompanying the river’s ripples.
After submerging herself fully, she made her way back, her soaked dress clinging to her skin, revealing the stunning physique underneath. When she reached the shore, she put her sandals back on and vanished into the darkness as mysteriously as she had come.
“Friend or foe, you think?” Jake teased Hephais, who was staring intently at the spot she had disappeared with a contemplative expression.
Snapped from his trance, the assassin frowned and grunted, “Who cares? If they aren’t attacking us, they don’t see us as enemies.”
Indeed, the duo hadn’t waited for Kang Jun’s report to find out that their Oracle System’s malfunction only affected them. They couldn’t use their bracelets to locate a nearby enemy target, whereas their adversaries had no trouble doing so as long as their Player Rank allowed it.
Anticipating this, Jake had long since activated his own cheat code: Artifact Incarnation.
It was something he had sworn off to avoid alerting the Oracle, but given the unsettling circumstances, he had been left with no choice but to stop using his bracelet connected to the Oracle System to become one himself..
The previous bracelet he’d conjured with his Phantasm ability had been dispelled just a few hours after the onset of his Fifth Ordeal.
Right now, Jake was entirely off the grid, his body acting as a souped-
up Oracle Device of which he was the sole network member. Only Xi was barely maintaining the connection with the original Oracle System. Moreover, due to properties inherently similar to the Digestors, the Oracle System couldn’t incorporate his data into its deterministic model.
The logical outcome of this move was that the System used by the enemy Mirror Universe Players also couldn’t access their Oracle System’s data to predict his movements or scan him for detailed info.
In other words… Jake was currently the only Player fighting for the Dusken Throne who had gone completely under the radar. Even potential Digestor Trojans and Corrupted Players hiding among them weren’t as stealthy.
The repercussions this would have both for his comrades and enemies remained to be seen. But one thing was certain. He intended to capitalize on this situation.
If there were Players from the opposing side nearby, they’d be unable to obtain an Oracle Path factoring in his existence, regardless of how high their Rank was. Upon encountering him, they’d have two possible interpretations:
Either they’d bump into him amidst a crowd of soldiers, seeing him as just another inconsequential native. Or, they’d encounter him when he was alone. At that time, their expressions would undoubtedly become priceless when they realized their Shadow Guide didn’t react.
For low-rank Players, this scenario could be chalked up to facing a Gamer ranked higher than them. But when the same happened to a high-rank Player, the resulting reactions would be… let’s just say, quite entertaining.
Back to the scene unfolding before their eyes: after the departure of the mesmerizing elf-like beauty, other individuals, even beasts, took their turn in the liquid and left just as uneventfully, having achieved their evening’s objective. In the end, despite some premature deaths, most of these Players managed to survive their second baptism without paying too steep a price.
This meant that just a few seconds in the water was enough to make each of these Players significantly stronger. Especially true for those daring enough to risk a dip further upstream.
Jake and Hephais, initially believing that the covert stream of Players would eventually dwindle, gradually wore more stunned expressions as they realized the opposite was happening. Worse, with his mental sense set to Oracle Device mode, each of his spiritual impulses covered a vast area.
Each scan revealed that every river stream within his range was a gathering point for hundreds, thousands of individuals. And the numbers kept rising.
Inevitably, what was bound to happen did. Enemy Players, driven by power lust or the guilty pleasure of hunting weak Players, mixed in with the rest. Due to their faulty Oracle System, none of these unsuspecting victims realized that wolves had entered the sheepfold.
Jake and Hephais were no exceptions. However, given their high Ranks, it was highly unlikely from the start that they’d be targeted by these foes. Plus, to these Players, Jake might as well have been invisible.
A colossal mistake they were about to pay dearly for.
“I think we have a duty to assist our comrades bathe in peace.” Jake chuckled, cracking his neck. “Let’s get rid of these pests, shall we?”