A/N: Sorry for the late chapter. Though this is really more of an update post than a chapter post. Longer AN at the bottom.


Quest Alert!
[Chuunin Exams 1]

Pass the the first stage of the Chuunin Exams
(Bonus) Answer all 'ten' questions correctly

Rewards:
+5000 EXP
(Bonus) +5 INT

Failure:
REP lowered with 'Rookie Nine'
Disqualification from Chuunin Exams

Accept? (Y/N)

This was the system notification that appeared for Shinji the moment Ibiki announced the rules of the exam. Naturally he had no reason not to accept the quest, and the exam proceeded soon after.

The classroom in which the first stage of the Chuunin Exams was taking place was completely silent with the exception of faint scribbles of pencil on paper. Along the sides of the classroom were various chuunin-level proctors invigilating their exam. Though invigilation really just meant watching out for cheaters.

Ibiki in the front of the room was similarly glowering at the many chuunin hopefuls - some looking in distress at the ridiculously difficult exam questions while others engaged in varying subterfuge.

On the wall, the clock tick-tocked incessantly, serving as a constant reminder to the examinees that their time was slowly but surely running out.

Shinji was similarly in his seat, though the one difference as compared to the rest of the genin in the room was that he had already completed the exam questions. His pencil rested on the paper while he glanced at the other participants with his eyes.

Although he was fully aware that this stage of the Chuunin Exam was meant to test gather information from the embedded chuunin in disguise, Shinji actually did not need to cheat in order to answer the questions.

The first few years since he had transmigrated to this world, he had spent hours in the library. Reading and learning. Mostly it was for grinding his INT stat by reading books, but partly it was for him to get acquainted with the common sense of this reality he lived in. And he did so by reading history texts, biographies of famous individuals, some philosophical treatises and various non-fiction manuals.

The accumulated knowledge from this period of consuming books added on to his high INT stat which holistically improved his memory and cognitive ability meant that he was able to easily breeze through the difficult exam questions as though he was Haruno Sakura.

These questions might have posed a considerable challenge to most genin, but Shinji hardly broke a sweat.

As he was able to quickly fill in the answers, he took his time to observe the surroundings around him. Shinji observed that much of what actually happened in the room corresponded to what he remembered from the anime. While people were daunted at the start, they quickly realized the true purpose of this exam.

Several of the notable characters repeated their techniques to cheat off of the embedded chuunin proctors disguising as participating genin. Neji and Hinata with their Byakugan, Shino with his kikaichu, Sasuke and his Sharingan, etc. The only difference being Naruto, who now had a reliable teammate in Shikamaru to help him cheat.

Shinji was able to notice a thin, black shadow elongating from Shikamaru's own and connecting to Naruto's. What followed was the two of them filling in the answer sheet with the exact same tempo and handwriting, although the blonde's dumb expression betrayed the ruse entirely.

Truth be told, Shikamaru would not normally have been able to connect his shadow to Naruto using his Shadow Possession technique. That was because Naruto's chakra capacity was just too massive because of obvious reasons for a typical shadow possession to succeed normally.

Shikamaru had on more than one occasion tried to merge his shadow with Naruto's in the months they trained together after graduation, but it had always failed. He could only hold on the connection for a couple seconds before Naruto's naturally astronomical chakra reserves broke the restraints.

Afterwards, it was easy for the Nara to figure out how Naruto had such large chakra capacity for his age and apparent lack of training though he never brought up the issue with the blonde. Instead, he told Naruto that if he ever felt Shikamaru trying to merge his shadow with his own, he should not resist and let it happen. Naruto agreed, because he figured that if his teammate was ever trying to do something like that, then he probably had a good reason.

So Naruto instead of panicking, similarly easily breezed through the first half of the exam without exerting any effort thanks to his teammate helping him cheat.

Shinji glanced at the clock, noting that there was only 15 minutes left until Ibiki announced the last question. He inwardly mused that without Naruto's outburst, would as many teams still remain to take part in the second stage of the Chuunin Exam.

That was when Shinji felt a sudden spike of pure will attempting to smash through the defenses of his psyche.

Alert! Mental corrosion detected!
Source: Mind Body Switch Technique, Yamanaka Ino.

...Mental corrosion negated.

Shinji sharply inhaled, holding back his surprise, 'This cheeky little… Did she just try to Shintenshin me? I guess without Sakura participating in the exams, the smartest person she knows is me, since I always had high grades during the Academy.'

He subtly turned back, flashing a knowing smirk at the Yamanaka.

Ino looked shocked that her jutsu had failed. More accurately, what shocked her most was not that it failed, but that it failed from Shinji's resistance. Yamanaka clan techniques primarily utilized Spiritual Energy or more commonly known as Yin Release. This made their clan techniques difficult to resist because there were only two ways to resist their mind-based jutsu.

The target was either more proficient than the user in manipulating Spiritual Energy, or they had immensely strong mental willpower. The former usually indicated a more experienced member of the Yamanaka clan, since not many outside their family even knew about Yin Release, while the latter exclusively belonged to high level shinobi who had decades of experience sharpening their mind and tempering their will.

Yet Shinji belonged to neither of these two groups. That was what baffled Ino so much.

The exam proceeded without further disturbances, at least for Shinji. The others were busily working on gathering the answers while he basically had the time to relax and steady himself mentally for what was to come following the first stage.

As the clock continued ticking, it was soon time for the final question.

Ibiki surveyed the room, his grim countenance as though carved from granite, unchanging and not betraying any of his thoughts. "I think we're about done shaking off the losers, those not qualified to continue in the chuunin exams. Then I suppose I'll move on to the final question. It has been 45 minutes, so I'll start. All right! Here is the tenth question!"

Most of the occupants in the room eyes hardened at the announcement, some unconsciously leaning forward so that they could hear better while others had their leg involuntarily shaking nervously. A silence washed over the room, so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

"I'm going to add some rules for the last question. I call it the rules of despair… First, you guys have to choose whether or not you will take this tenth question."

Shinji could hear several loud gulps taken at that statement.

"What, choose!? What happens if you choose not to take the tenth question?" One of the examinees asked.

"If you choose not to take the tenth question then your score will be a zero. Naturally, that means you automatically fail, as well as your teammates."

"What? Then why would anyone refuse to take the tenth question?" The examinee responded.

Ibiki smiled faintly, "Well, there is one more rule… If you choose not to take it and is unable to answer it correctly… then you will be disqualified from ever entering the chuunin exams ever again!"

That declaration swept through the room like an explosion, turning almost all of the examinee's faces pale.

"H-how unreasonable!"

The proctor chuckled lowly, "Unreasonable? What a foolish notion. Hmph, I supposed you can just consider yourselves… unlucky. I am the proctor, these are my rules. If you have a problem with it, feel free to walk out those doors!"

The ones who had shouted previously quietly gritted their teeth and sat back down, unable to refute such twisted logic.

Shinji glanced at the rest of the examinees. He could see the inner dilemma playing out on the faces of all these chuunin hopefuls. He mentally wondered if Naruto would stand up and give that speech of his and inspire those who would have given up otherwise.

As the seconds ticked by, the silence amidst the room grew heavier in its tension until it was broken by an abrupt yell.

"I-I'm quitting! I won't take it!" One of the Konoha genins declared, standing up with his fists clenched and eyes closed in fear.

And once the first dam broke, the rest crumbled without further waiting as more and more raised up their stands to give up.

'If I didn't have the Gamer's Mind skill would I also be as flustered as these people?' Shinji wondered. He had to admit that the psychological pressure was honestly pretty impressive. He could sense the killing intent blended into the faint aura Ibiki was putting out. And not just from him either, even the other chuunin proctors were subtly projecting faint amounts of killing intent to heighten the pressure.

With the threat of remaining an eternal genin looming over their heads combined with a not insignificant amount of killing intent being projected by the invigilators, these genin who would be better of remaining in the genin corp folded like a wet blanket.

From the corner of his eye, Shinji observed Naruto, waiting to see if the blonde would explode into a shounen-protagonist speech. Contrary to his expectations however, the jinchuuriki did not remain silent.

Naruto slammed a fist on the desk and stood up, "Hurry up with this already! Something like trying to get us to give up? Don't underestimate me! I won't run! And neither would any true shinobi! If anyone is doubting themselves at this point, then there's no point for them to even take the chuunin exam in the first place!"

Shinji widened his eyes at the proclamation, letting out a breath in surprise, but his shock morphed into amusement. 'Naruto is still Naruto, huh? I thought that after improving so much, his confidence would similarly rise as well, so he would have no cause to give a speech like that. But… it seems like I did underestimate Naruto after all.'

The previous tension the proctors and invigilators had worked so hard to build disappeared in an instant as the rest of the examinees notably leaned back in their seats with a more relaxed demeanour and renewed vigor.

Even the chuunin invigilators let up on the killing intent after Naruto's speech, a mixture of respect for the boy and relenting that any further intimidation would prove useless after the atmosphere was flipped so drastically.

Ibiki eyed the genin, his gaze still stone cold and expression unreadable, "I'll ask again. It is a choice that will change your life. This is your last chance to quit before you regret it!"

"Only a coward will run away, and Uzumaki Naruto ain't no coward!" Naruto defiantly shot back.

With their anxieties brushed away, the other genin mumbled agreement in their own way.

"Hmph, Naruto may usually be an idiot, but in this instance he's not wrong. Proctor, those who are not qualified to continue have already left the room. Shall we carry on?" Sasuke spoke up with folded arms and a trademarked arrogance on his face.

"Yeah, that's right! ...Wait, what?"

'Roughly a hundred left huh? More than I thought it would be…' Ibiki thought to himself, scanning the room only to find the anxiety that had been built up washed away by one boy's words.

"I respect your determination! In that case, for those who still remain… you have passed the first exam!"

Quest [Chuunin Exams 1] Completed!
Pass the the first stage of the Chuunin Exams ()

(Hidden) Answer all ten questions correctly ()

Rewards:
+5000 EXP
(Hidden) +5 INT


(Shinji's POV)

We were led outside the village by the proctor of the chuunin exam's second stage towards the location where we would be tested. There were 102 of us left, 34 teams of three to be precise. We had started out with 153 participants, but were culled down to two thirds of the original number.

Even though quite a number of them had already been eliminated, a large majority of the ones that still remained could still be considered subpar, if I had to honestly evaluate the calibre of my 'competitors'.

Although the remaining Konoha genin looked slightly nervous at the thought of the second stage, we were naturally a lot more confident than the foreign shinobi, who were alot more tense and cautious. Benefit of a homeground advantage and all that.

I glanced at the proctor who were leading us at the front, checking out her status with my [Observe] skill.

Mitarashi Anko Lv 61
HP: 13780/13780
CP: 9890/9890
Abnormal Status: Cursed Seal of Heaven (Suppressed)

Anko is a Tokubetsu Jounin of Konohagakure, specializing in covert operations, enhanced interrogation and intelligence gathering. She is also a poison specialist. Most notably, she is a former disciple of Orochimaru, the Snake Sannin, and as such has inherited several of his signature techniques. Anko is one of the foremost experts on Orochimaru, and is often consulted by the village on how to deal with the Snake Sannin.
Anko is weaker than you.

She is weaker than me? Even though she was 17 levels above me? Either I was stronger than I thought or she was weaker than her level reflected.

I focused in on the Abnormal Status shown in her information, and another notification window appeared in my vision with an explanation of what it was.

Cursed Seal of Heaven (Suppressed)
When activated, user receives 50% increase in CP temporarily, as well as 20% increase in STR, DEX, VIT and INT. However, user will also be afflicted with mental erosion, with further side-effects after every usage.
In its incomplete and suppressed state, user suffers a permanent 20% decrease in STR, DEX, VIT and INT.

Ahh, I realised. It was because Anko was actively suppressing the curse seal, which was why her stats were reduced to a level where even a genin like myself, though admittedly an abnormal outlier, could be considered by the system as being stronger than her. It was insidious, how Orochimaru could still punish her for not using the cursed seal even after so many years since her apprenticeship.

And as I thought about it more, it started making more sense to me. The reason why Orochimaru had taken Anko under his wing in the first place was because he had taken an interest in her talent. Not just any schmuck with some above average skills could attract the attention of a monster like Orochimaru. She had to be something special for her to be the one and only disciple he had taken in Konoha even within the team he had led.

Yet, despite the promising start of her shinobi career, Anko had instead stagnated deeply, not even being able to make the cut for jounin. It was even a likely possibility that she had been promoted to tokubetsu jounin based on her expertise in poisons and knowledge of Orochimaru instead of raw skill and abilities.

It was because of the punishing penalty for suppressing the cursed seal of heaven implemented by Orochimaru, which permanently decreased all her stats by 20%. Which this reduction, not just her combat skills but even the time spent and quality of training would be affected. A lower VIT meant less stamina and slower recovery period, a lower INT would reduce the rate at which she comprehended new techniques.

I wasn't very familiar with Anko's character aside from her brief appearances in the anime, but that had to be some damage irreparable damage done to her psyche. Not just the 'beloved teacher betraying the village and leaving her for dead', but watching her potential slip away slowly over the years while the hopes and expectations of the villagers fade after seeing her stagnate into mediocrity.

It was no wonder why so many people followed Orochimaru. His methods for forcing people into his servitude truly was absolutely villainous.

Not long after, we arrived at our destination - a heavily forested area with titanic trees towering over the surrounding vegetation like skyscrapers amidst ramshackle huts - the forty fourth training ground, otherwise known as the Forest of Death.

The training ground was fenced off, with many warning signs cautioning any would-be trespassers.

The hundred or so genin gazed at the intimidating sight. Massive trees lining the forest stretched beyond what our eyes could see, while the comforting sounds of nature were instead replaced by an eerie silence, as though not even animals could survive in this place. The size of the Forest of Death was perhaps comparable to the size of the entire village of Konoha.

"This place is training ground 44. Also known as the Forest of Death. You'll soon realize why." Anko ominously commented, watching with sadistic satisfaction as the genin paled.

Unlike in the series, however, Naruto was smart enough to not make a stupid comment and make a fool of himself. Instead, it was another random Konoha genin who snickered to his teammates, whispering something under his breath.

Anko smirked, her eyes gleaming with glee.

"You're pretty rude to be whispering when someone else is talking, aren't you?" She commented before her hand blurred. A kunai flew towards the genin who had unfortunately been targeted, slightly grazing his cheek and embedding itself in the ground. The tokubetsu jounin then sped and reappeared behind the genin.

Slow, I observed, watching the spectacle with slight interest. Well, to be fair, she wasn't slow per se. But she wasn't fast either. To the untrained eyes of the genin, she might have looked like she simply disappeared and reappeared behind the kid. But with my [Heightened Senses] and over 200 DEX stat, I could see her movements with my naked eyes even without the aid of the Sharingan.

Even Sasuke would have been fast enough to react, albeit with the Sharingan, and Lee definitely could not just evade the kunai but land a counterstrike of his own. I was familiar enough with both their capabilities to easily make an objective judgement.

"Rude brats like you are always the first to die, you know?" Anko seductively caressed the line of red blood while 'stage-whispering' in the terrified genin's ear.

All this display showed me was that the entire thing had to have been planned by Anko from the start. Just like how Ibiki used psychological pressure to weed out the weak-willed, so too was Anko utilizing a practical demonstration to instill fear in the chuunin candidates. If it wasn't Naruto or this unfortunate kid, it would have been someone else that was chosen by her to make an example out of. Even her current behavior was just mind games after mind games.

Then, from the corner of my eye, the long-haired Kusa genin whose skin was worn by Orochimaru moved. This time, I couldn't catch even a single glimpse nor hint of his movement before he reappeared behind Anko, his tongue extended and wrapped around the kunai his former student had thrown.

Fuck. I was once again reminded how much of a monster Orochimaru was even when he wasn't even trying, unlike his former student.

"Here. I'm returning your kunai." Orochimaru offered, somehow speaking intelligibly even with his tongue extended out.

Anko had reacted as fast as she could, flipping out a kunai in response to the sudden intrusion of her personal space, as she had done to the genin as well

"Thank you for taking the trouble...But, don't stand behind me all bloodthirsty. If you don't want a quick death, that is."

She tried to play it cool, but it was obvious to me how much she was caught off guard by a seemingly harmless Kusa genin.

"I apologize. But I got excited when I saw the sight of red blood." Orochimaru replied with a creepy smile which deepened when he saw how uncomfortable he made Anko feel.

Like teacher like student, I supposed. This time, the kunai had not gone anywhere near Orochimaru, unlike in the anime where it had cut his hair. But Orochimaru still took the opportunity to sneak up on Anko and tease her. But just like Anko, he was only doing this to mess with the woman and derive some sick joy from her discomfort.

"What an energetic start to the second stage… I am looking forward to seeing how you cute genin will make a mess of each other in the forest." Anko commented, hiding her discomposure behind a facade of sadism and viciousness, something I was sure she had plenty of practice with.

But it worked, as the various genin took turns glancing at both the disguised Orochimaru and equally psychotic proctor with a worried look in their eyes.

"Well, before we start the second exam, I have to pass this out to you." Anko continued as she pulled out a stack of documents from her trench coat. "They are consent forms. Before you can take part in the exam you have to sign this first!"

Another mind game. How tedious.

Quest Alert!
[Chuunin Exams 2]

Pass the the second stage of the Chuunin Exams
(Bonus 1) Collect more than one pair of Heaven and Earth scrolls
(Bonus 2) Finish the exam in one day
(Bonus 3) Finish the exam in two days

Rewards:
+10000 EXP
(Bonus 1) +10000 EXP for every pair after the first collected
(Bonus 2) Item - Summoning Scroll
(Bonus 3) New skill

Failure:
REP lowered with 'Rookie Nine'
Disqualification from Chuunin Exams

Accept? (Y/N)

As expected, contrary to the first stage of the chuunin exam, the second stage which lasted for five days and had a lot more direct combat involved promised richer rewards as well as more bonus objectives. Even a summoning scroll had been promised. Passing the exam in one day was definitely doable, if we were lucky.

I wondered what animal would I be able to contract with. Hopefully none of the three most famous summon creatures in Konoha. They were all extremely powerful clans that well-deserved their reputation. But I would be hard-pressed to answer any questions on how I was able to obtain the summoning contract in the first place.

Well, it wouldn't do me any good to overthink about something I might not even receive. And of course, naturally, I accepted the quest.

Quest Alert!
[A Snake's Corruption]

Stop Orochimaru from marking Uchiha Sasuke with the cursed seal
?
?
?

Rewards:
+50000 EXP
+20 Points
?
?
?

Failure:
Cursed Seal of Heaven
New Perk
New Title

Accept? (Y/N)

This crazy fucking system! Did it really expect me to accept this shitty quest!?

Wait, 50,000 EXP and 20 free stat points? I could level up twice and receive just under three level ups worth of stat points with that! And just for fulfilling the minimum requirement of the quest excluding rewards for hidden objectives?

No, why am I even considering this. This is Orochimaru we're talking about. The Snake Sannin, kage-level, Sharingan obsessed monster who could kill me in the blink of an eye.

Well maybe not kill me… the failure penalty only mentions receiving the Cursed Seal of Heaven. But, that's bad! ...Right?

From what I learned from Anko's cursed seal, as long as I did not suppress it, there would be no punishing penalty that reduced my stats.

And even if I did use it, wouldn't Gamer's Mind protect me from any mental erosion? Doesn't that mean I could receive 50% CP and a further 20% increase in all my stats without any costs?

No wait, when something looks too good to be true, then most of the time it's not.

...And yet, sometimes it is, right?

Agh this crazy fucking system is really driving me mad!


A/N: Hi sorry for the super short chapter. I guess I owe you guys an explanation for where I had disappeared to for a good three months. Let's start from the beginning.

A few days after posting chapter 23, I found out that I had contracted COVID. Before you ask, I am okay. I am fully recovered. The symptoms were relatively mild as well, since I had already received my vaccination. But it still left me pretty weak and ill for about a week or two after.

When I was recovering in bed, I couldn't really do anything except think of story ideas. But, to my dismay, ideas that came up were not for Accidental Gamer Hero. Rather, I had so many ideas for original stories that I wanted to immediately start writing.

After I recovered from COVID, I sat down at my computer and tried to continue writing this chapter. But I was so disinterested and dispassionate that I couldn't bring myself to write more than a few hundred words. A few reviewers had mentioned that Chuunin Exams is where many writers discontinue their stories. I understood why.

The period of time pre chuunin exam is where a writer gets to have the most fun being creative, since a lot of it is unexplored which gives the writer plenty of creative freedom. However, the chuunin exam itself is so tightly scripted that it hardly leaves any room for a writer to get creative other than completely changing the whole exam, which I did not want to do as I wanted to be as faithful as the original adaptation as I could.

It physically hurt me to narrate the rules of the chuunin exams and the chronological sequence of events cause I was just so fucking bored with my own goddamn writing. So much so that I had to sprinkle in bits and pieces of my own interpretation of events as well as things that didn't happen in the original series like Ino trying to possess Shinji's body and getting blocked by Gamer's Mind.

Unable to continue writing this chapter, and desperate to vent my creative energy elsewhere, I started to flesh out the concepts of original stories I had thought up while I was sick in bed. I was able to filter them down to three ideas that I found to be most promising.

And then… I started writing. Non-stop. In these three months I had written roughly 30k words for all three stories. Each. It was just so much fun that I couldn't bring myself back to open up the word doc for Accidental Gamer Hero chapter 24.

I am not saying this in an effort to promote my new original stories that I don't even think I am going to post anywhere. I just hoped it served as a sufficient explanation for why I had not updated this story for so long.

I will try my best to continue this story, since the Forest of Death has a lot more room for me to work with as compared to the boring-ass first stage, so I should have more motivation to continue writing. But truth be told, most of my attention is in the original stories that I am writing for the pure enjoyment of writing.

I am so very thankful for the many readers who have been waiting for this update, I can see that it will be a disappointment to many. I ask not for your forgiveness, but for your understanding.

This is not a hiatus announcement. Rather, this is a notice that updates should not be expected to be arriving on a schedule. That's about it. See you next time.