Chapter 40 Cardcaptors

While Gon and Killua sparred under the watchful eye of Biscuit, Rayleigh stood before a metal workbench filled with tools, his disassembled Lightsaber laying in pieces over it. At the side of the Bench was an electronic screen that showed everything on the bench and its status.

This bench and the accompanying tools made up Rayleigh's Lightsaber Customization Kit. Any adjustments he made to the Lightsaber would appear on the screen at the end of the Bench and he could choose to apply those changes to make them permanent or remove previous changes. Because his Lightsaber was an item purchased during Character Creation, it reverted to its original form when it was disabled and re-enabled. The same was not true for items acquired during gameplay and converted into Inventory Items using Mission Points. Such acquired items did not revert to their original condition every time the projection was enabled but carried over the existing condition the item had when its projection was disabled.

The reversion of a Character Creation Item had many benefits, but there were also hidden downsides. One of them was that a weapon could not be easily upgraded. Any changes made would revert back after disabling the projection and re-enabling it. The Lightsaber Customization Kit was a way around this. It connected to the Inventory System that reverted items and all changes made appeared on the screen at the bench's side. The Player could select any of those changes and add them to the projection, meaning that those changes would remain after the item's projection was turned off and on. Changes made could even be removed using the Bench as well.

It even worked on other items, like the Zoldyck Family Adjustable Weight Set and HK-47's head.

There were two things Rayleigh usually used the bench for, modifying his Lightsaber, and accumulating the effect of Force Weapon.

Force Weapon was a Je'daii skill that is not taught by the Jedi, though some had learned it and figured it out themselves. It allows a Force Practitioner to empower and strengthen an item with the Force. Ancient Je'daii used this on swords to make them far more powerful before Lightsabers became mainstream. This practice was mostly abandoned by the Jedi for two reasons. The first is that Force Weapon was a skill that used the Force to change the material world to benefit the user. This goes against the philosophy of the Jedi. The second, and more realistic reason, is that Force Weapon was the predecessor to Dark Side Alchemy, used by the Ancient Sith to not only strengthen weapons, but pervert them into dangerous and monstrous abominations, at least according to the Jedi.

Rayleigh learned of Force Weapon through the use of Psychometry on the tools in the Forge, the area of Tython where ancient Je'daii once forged their own blades and later made their own Lightsabers.

Using Force Weapon on a Lightsaber was not an innovative or new idea to the Je'daii, in fact, it was common sense. It allowed a Je'daii to connect strongly to the Lightsaber and even channel the Force through it manually.

Rayleigh would use Force Weapon on his Lightsaber at all times and used the Bench of the Customization Kit to 'Save' his progress.

Doing so, however, did not require taking his Lightsaber apart. Today he was trying something new. Because any changes he made could be kept or erased, Rayleigh could use the Lightsaber Customization Kit to test certain configurations or upgrades to see how they affected his Lightsaber. Today, he was testing the application of Divine Script.

Since Rayleigh's Enhancer attribute Hatsu training had progressed from amateur to novice, he felt it was time to try applying Divine Script to his Lightsaber.

Divine Script was not inscribed with a chisel or pen. You had to gather your aura into your finger, apply the Hatsu attribute, and then swipe your finger over the area using a complex variation of Shū to impart the aura while holding a strong image of the desired effect in your head. The aura automatically adjusted itself into the specific symbols that set themselves into the material. Usually. Sometimes they broke apart or destroyed the material.

The effect of Divine Script could only fall into the category of Hatsu that was applied. Thankfully, Enhancer attribute Nen had a lot of practical applications and was quite easy to use compared to other categories.

Rayleigh's first attempt, which didn't destroy his Lightsaber Casing or break down, enhanced the strength of Rayleigh's Ren when he held the Lightsaber. It was a decent start. His following success upgraded the Ren Enhancement to enhance his Overdrive Hatsu, allowing his muscles to contract even faster and grant him even greater movement speed. The effect was marginal though, and he could not easily stack the enhanced speed with Force Valor, so it was not as good as just using Overdrive and stacking it normally with a perpendicular use of Force Valor.

At the moment he was trying something new. He wanted to enhance his Force abilities by directly interfacing the Divine Script with the Lightsaber's Kyber Crystal. Once the crystal exploded, he had to turn off the projection and could not continue experimenting for 24 hours, so he tried his best not to make the kyber crystal explode.

Thankfully, it only exploded three times during his testing phase. He was eventually able to figure the trick to allowing the Kyber crystal to take in aura. He just had to use Ren while using Force Weapon. Doing so not only strengthened the connection he had to the physical casing of the lightsaber, it also allowed his Kyber Crystal to assimilate his aura. Once it assimilated enough, the Kyber Crystal was considered a part of his body, and was no longer damaged by his aura. This was only possible since Kyber Crystals were considered alive, and this one matched him 100% since it was provided by the Tavern that literally created his body and this whole Universe.

Although Rayleigh had succeeded in his attempt to integrate Divine Script into his Kyber Crystal, he had not succeeded in enhancing any of his Force techniques. Today was another attempt.

"Hey, Ray! Are you done yet?"

"Yeah, we're gonna get some more cards!"

Gon and Killua's cry meant they finished sparring and that today's experimental period was over. None of today's attempts had any value, so he didn't save any and directly disabled the bench's presence while reassembling his Lightsaber and placing it on his hip.

Rayleigh ran back over to the group and said, "What's today's mission?"

Biscuit explained, "It's a treasure hunt," before taking a card out of her book and saying, "Gain," turning the card into a dusty map.

She explained, "I used the spell card Guidepost to find out where number 82, Staff of Judgement was located."

That had Rayleigh's interest. He had told Biscuit the names of the cards that other Players were looking for.

[1030 Guidepost E-120
Give away locations of the chosen number.]

Guidepost told you where to look to find a specific card. From there, you just asked the locals about the card and either found some correct information that led to gaining the card, or incorrect information that led to a different card or a dead end.

Rayleigh didn't think the Players on the island should be weak, so why had it taken so long for them to find Staff of Judgement?

Biscuit rolled out the map and explained, "There were like twenty NPCs selling fake versions of this map all over the city and each had multiple versions. I found out from another player that the one who sells the real map is an old pervert and doesn't even advertise that he has it. Obviously, I was able to get the map from him without any problems." She seemed quite proud of herself.

Rayleigh rolled his eyes and sighed. That was stupid, but it wasn't his fault the other group didn't have any girls.

Once she unrolled the map, the trio discovered an obvious problem.

Killua was the first to point it out. "Um, Biscuit, are you sure you didn't get ripped off? This thing is worthless."

Rayleigh didn't speak up, but he didn't completely disagree either. The map was vague and didn't have any reference points. One side seemed shaded in a bit while another had some badly drawn circles with an X in the middle. Even if the map was accurate, they didn't know the region the map pointed to!

Biscuit huffed and said, "Says you. I was able to convince the NPC to tell me exactly where this is. It's on the east side of the forest on the other side of the mountains."

Gon asked, "You mean the forest with those bandits?"

Biscuit replied, "Exactly. We just have to cross over the mountain again from this side and follow the edge of the forest. This shaded area here is the forest, so the map points to an area outside the edge. As long as we keep following the edge, we'll be able to find the area that matches the rest of the map and locate the treasure!"

Gon, Killua, and even Rayleigh jumped up in excitement at that. What kind of soon-to-be thirteen-year-old didn't like a treasure hunt?

Although the others could not use Overdrive, it wasn't difficult for them to copy Rayleigh's muscle enhancement to boost their own speed, so it didn't take them long to cross the mountains and see the edge of the forest. Rayleigh was tempted to see the bandits again. He already had an idea of how to get a card from them, but it wasn't the time. Something told him that if he tried it too early, it would be game over.

It had been a month since they started collecting cards. Each city on the island had a specialty that required a certain field of skill. The City of Gambling, Dorias, had a Casino that relied on luck or skills that enhanced luck. Killua was able to convince Rayleigh into using the Force to cheat every single game to rob the Casino blind of every valuable card. How did Killua convince him? With the Risky Dice. Killua directly stated that if Rayleigh didn't use his abilities to win, then Killua would use a copy of Risky Dice to win.

[025 Risky Dice B-30

A twenty-sided die with one skull face and 19-star faces. When you roll a star, great things happen, but rolling the skull will be bad enough to cancel out all the previous great events.]

The Die was rather impressive and as powerful as it was dangerous. The luck-adjusting effect was void if Rayleigh used telekinesis on it, so you could only let it roll naturally and he couldn't predict if it would hit a Star or a Skull. Why was this a problem? From what Rayleigh felt, the line, 'bad enough to cancel out all previous great events,' was not limited to great events granted to the roller of the dice. It included everyone who used it on Greed Island.

If Killua rolled a Skull, Rayleigh had no guarantee he could save him. Rather than risk his friend's safety, Rayleigh was willing to use the Force to screw over a large number of NPCs for the Imposed Slot Cards they possessed. Though Rayleigh drew the line at gambling just for money and he refused to get any duplicate cards, even if they could be traded or sold.

Was it annoying? Yes. Was he doing it for a moral code? No. It was just that he would lose the trust of the Force if he abused its power to cause a noticeable impact on the world. At the moment at least. He was pretty sure that one day he'd figure out how to use the Force however he wanted to, but for now, he'd toe the line without crossing it.

Besides the City of Prizes, the City of Magic, and the City of Gambling, the last specialty city was the City of Love, Aiai. Unsurprisingly, it was a fully immersive dating game simulator where a majority of the quests involved unrequited love and cliché encounters. Rayleigh was able to make full use of Force Empathy to get a good chunk of cards from that location with Biscuit's help.

In addition to cards they acquired directly, they also got a few duplicate cards from other sources they traded off. Rayleigh didn't understand why, but when acquiring an Imposed Clot card, some let each of them get a copy, while others only let them get one copy. And even for the former, when their group tried to get more than four copies, the others would not turn into cards even though they doubted the cards had reached the max transformation limit.

Including cards they had gotten through trade, they had already gotten sixty-six imposed slot cards. And soon they would find number sixty-seven.

With the use of Rayleigh's Clairvoyance to look over the area from above, it didn't take them long to find a region somewhat matching the crude drawing on the map.

Rayleigh pointed it out stating, "This looks like the area."

Biscuit, Killua, and Gon climbed onto the nearby rocks to get a clearer view of the area and came to the same conclusion before coming to the approximate location of the X on the map marked.

Gon asked, "Where is the treasure?"

Biscuit opened her book and took out a few cards, "Gain," turning them into a familiar set of shovels. "Start digging."

Rayleigh grabbed one and broke the dirt first, but the moment he did, the ground rumbled and shook. Everyone took a battle ready stance and looked around on full alert. It seemed the Treasure Hunt was not a simple one.

Four of the massive rocks around them started vibrating and cracking. What was more unusual was that they also seemed to be rising. Boulders and pebbles alike fell from the rising stones to reveal the rock golems hidden beneath, one for each trespasser.

Unsurprisingly, Gon shouted, "First to beat his wins!" before jumping to the fifteen meter bipedal rock that had risen next to him.

No one had any complaints, though they knew that Gon's words were to Rayleigh and Killua. If Biscuit wanted to, she could easily destroy hers before they did, so she was not a part of this minor competition.

On instinct, they each used Gyō to check the aura distribution of the Golems. Rayleigh spotted shimmers of aura that appeared and vanished like sparkling lights. According to what he learned from other monsters, that meant that most of the aura was beneath a surface layer of dirt and it used that to hide its strengths and weaknesses from prying eyes.

That might work on others, but Rayleigh bypassed the countermeasure using Shatterpoint and spotted a critical weakness on the back of the Golem's shoulder. Rather than try to get behind it or bring it down, Rayleigh took some distance from the towering golem and focused his Wills. This thing was big and from what he could see from the fights of the others, it was rather nimble for its size. But when moving via walking, it was slow. Slow enough to give Rayleigh enough time to focus his Wills onto it.

While Gon and Killua struck various points on the Golems that seemed to reassemble themselves when damaged and Biscuit played around with hers, Rayleigh had started lifting his several ton target into the air. Once it was about twenty meters in the air, he spun it around so that it would land on the back of its shoulder and let it drop. This only worked since the Golem's aura wasn't on the surface. Aura tended to make targets slippery when holding them with telekinesis.

The other three saw Rayleigh's antics and took cover before his opponent crashed into the ground with a thunderous rumble that shook the surrounding area and nearby forest. The golem tried to adjust itself as it fell like a cat, but Rayleigh had maintained control over its orientation leaving it no choice but to collide with the ground on its most vulnerable part.

The Golem shattered into pieces, leaving Rayleigh the winner. Gon and Killua both looked over with a pout, and Biscuit used the moment they weren't paying attention to get behind her own golem and strike its weakspot, causing it to shatter into pieces as well.

The Golems turned into A-Rank Monster cards which Rayleigh and Biscuit collected to sell later. The pair climbed up one of the rocks and took a seat to watch Gon and Killua continue the fight with their own Golems. Though the pair saw that Golem fell on its torso, it wasn't easy to tell the difference between the front and back of a misshapen rock man while it was falling, so they still didn't know the exact location of the golem's weakness.

The pair fought for another minute, testing and dodging. The Golem swung its arms quickly and nimbly, allowing it to attack them from just about every angle and neither was strong enough to block the hit without breaking a few bones. Dust billowed in thick clouds, blocking their vision with every heavy slam of the golem's stone fist into the ground. Eventually, the pair discovered that not only did the Golem always try to face them, but always favored one side to strike them. With their lessons from Biscuit and experience hunting other monsters in this game, they were able to deduce the Golem's weakpoint to be on their back, on the opposite side from what usually faced them.

Gon found the weak point first, mostly from luck. Killua struck his Golem's lower back while Gon chose the upper back and hit the weak spot on the shoulder. His golem crumbled and Killua's followed shortly after.

Killua complained, "I never catch a break."

Gon replied with a tease, "It's okay, you came in fourth place!"

Killua shouted back, "That's last place!"

Rayleigh added, "Well, Gon started fighting a second before you did and you broke the golem a second after he did. It's more of a tie, really."

Biscuit stated, "You all did very well, but now it is time to dig up the treasure!"

Rayleigh jumped back down and picked up his shovel before returning to the location he dug up before. Gon and Killua quickly joined him, shovels in hand. If any of them had any doubt that this was the legitimate location of a treasure, those doubts were dispelled when the Boss Monsters emerged.

Once they dug a few meters into the ground, they found a treasure chest Gon opened it to reveal a blue stick that looked as if it was made of bone. The end of the stick had a finger bone, the middle had a misshapen arm bone and some kind of tiny rib cage, and the base had some miniature malformed skull.

After picking it up, it turned into a card.

[082 Staff of Judgment A-15
Raise this staff in the air while calling out the name of someone you want to punish, and calamity will befall the one of you who has committed more bad deeds, the target or yourself.]

Rayleigh said, "I kinda wanna use it on that Bomber guy."

Rather than argue, Gon stated, "Use a Clone Card first."

Killua emptied his Book's Imposed Slots into everyone's Free Slots and they placed Staff of Judgement inside so Biscuit could use the Clone Spell on it to create a duplicate.

Once the copy was made, Rayleigh said, "We'll do it later. Now is not the time." This was a feeling he got from the Force. He had a feeling that time would be sooner rather than later though.

The original went into Gon's book while the copy went into Killua's. Since Gon and Rayleigh wore Paladin's Necklace, any card made using Clone would vanish if either touched it, so the card had to stay in someone else's Book. Sure, he could take off the necklace, but it was better to be safe and prevent any accidents.

It was at that moment that Rayleigh's book appeared and an electronic voice sounded out. [A Player has used Contact against you.]

The remaining trio gathered around the book as a voice sounded out from it, [Hey Swordsman, it's Kazusuuru.]

That was the guy with the fuzzy hat who initially took the Sword of Truth from Rayleigh in Antokiba. Since then, they had made a few trades.

Rayleigh asked, "Looking for a trade? We got a few more extras."

From the book, he answered back, [Thanks for the offer, but we'll postpone that talk for later. Can you guys meet us with us? We have some things to discuss.]

Rayleigh asked, "What kind of things?"

[A group of players is about to clear the game. It's a group of three people led by someone named Genthru. Have you heard of them?]

Rayleigh calmly answered, "Yes. Them we've heard of."

From the other end of the book, the fuzzy hat wearing Hunter stated, [We contacted other groups and we're meeting in the rock quarry two kilometers east of Masadora. Even if we're just exchanging information, it's worth coming.]

Rayleigh stated, "We'll be there, when's the meeting?"

[Nine PM. See you then.]

The call dropped and Gon couldn't help but shout, "Damn that guy! We can't let him win the game!"

Rayleigh said, "We won't. Do you guys wanna use Accompany or just run over?"

Gon answered, "We don't need to waste a spell card for this, let's run over."

Rayleigh nodded, "When everyone is gathered, let me do the talking. Negotiating is my specialty."

It didn't take them too long to run over the mountain and back to the stone quarry. Rayleigh's group wasn't the first at the site, so they went to the side and sat down.

Rayleigh used the time to meditate and formulate a number of plans. While spying on the possibilities, Rayleigh whispered to Gon and Killua, "Don't ask a single question, no matter how curious you are."

Eventually, all the groups assembled and Mr. Fuzzy hat spoke up, "Thank you for gathering here. As I told you with Contact, Genthru's group is about to complete the game. We checked the Rankings earlier and they presently have 96 Imposed Slot Cards. We need to think of a counter attack."

Rayleigh gave a reminding glance over to Killua who looked like he was about to ask a question, but elected to remain silent on Ray's stare.

The man continued, "The only cards they are missing are number zero, number two, number nine, and number seventy-five. Number Zero can only be acquired once the other ninety-nine are assembled, so that's three types. If we manage to get a monopoly on the maximum transformation limit of one of those three cards, we can prevent them from completing the game."

After a round of discussions, several players used the spell card List, to figure out which card was possible to get a monopoly of. The List Spell told the user how many copies of an Imposed Slot card existed in the various books of players. According to the results, no player had number 2, three players had number 9, and five players had number 75.

Getting a monopoly meant holding every copy of the transformation limit of a card, so they could only choose number 2 which no one had yet. Using the spell card Guide Post, they determined it was in the Port City of Soufrabi.

Although it was a long shot, they all agreed to head to Soufrabi using Accompany to search for clues on the card's location.

There was no limit on the number of people that Accompany could take to a location, so a massive white field surrounded them all and shot into the sky.

After landing, the groups split up to look for clues, leaving Rayleigh and the rest to themselves.

Killua was the first to speak up, "Hey, why did you say we shouldn't ask questions? I wanted to know how those guys knew about the Bomber's Cards."

Gon added, "And couldn't we have told them about the Bomber's abilities?"

Rayleigh shook his head. "Nope. We don't need to collect any more cards."

Killua guessed, "You want to target Genthru?"

Rayleigh confirmed, "Kinda. I want to lead him into a trap, we just need the right bait."

With that, their group headed into the port city to ask around. No one really expected to hear anything since this wasn't the first time some of them had come here for this very reason, but surprisingly, today they were getting very different answers compared to before. After a few minutes of asking around, most of the groups confirmed that people were willing to speak about the card they were looking for, number two, Plot of Beach. The previous occasions those assembled asked the same questions to the same people, but they didn't get any answers at all.

Some of the more experienced players even found a person who seemed to know exactly how to get it, and they all gathered around the young woman who seemed very depressed.

"I can probably tell you guys about it." She looked the group over for a bit before continuing, "Pirates control this town. It is said that somewhere in this area of the ocean is a submerged cave called the residence of the sea god. The plot of beach you're looking for is said to be the entrance to the Sea God's Residence. Various treasures are said to sleep there, but those rumors attracted fifteen pirates. They are Laser and his fourteen devils. If you can drive those pirates away, I'll tell you the location of the Plot of Beach."

The group agreed of course, but before looking for the pirates, they assembled together to discuss what was going on.

"It's scary how much progress we're making. I spoke with that same girl the last time I was here and she didn't say anything like that."

One of the more observant members of the group pointed out, "There are fifteen pirates. There are sixteen of us. Maybe that's the reason?"

Another elaborated, "So because we came in a group of fifteen or more, we triggered the condition?"

The others in the group agreed and figured they did so by coming here in a large group using accompany.

To the side, one of the solo players said to himself, "Quite nasty."

Finding the location the pirate hung out wasn't hard, it was a bar built into a warehouse and the door was open. Everyone entered and scanned the location, but the only people inside, even the bartender, were thug looking fellows wearing stupid looking hats.

The fattest, stupidest looking one noticed that they were being examined and stated, "What do you want? We've reserved the whole bar today, so go away!"

Behind him, a smaller looking one said, "Hehe, we reserve it every day though."

Mr. Fuzzy Hat stepped forward and calmly explained, "We came to talk to you. Could you leave the town?"

The Stupid hat wearing pirates looked stunned for a moment before they started laughing.

One remarked, "It's been a long time since I last heard those words."

Another commented, "Aren't the bones of the last guy still rotting on the beach?"

The big bozo stepped forward, "I'd like to do the same thing to you right now."

He got up into Mr. Fuzzy Hat's face and tried to be intimidating. "The only one who can make us leave is our boss. If you wanna meet him, you gotta prove yourselves."

He took a high proof alcohol he'd been sipping from and poured it around himself in a circle before taking out a lighter and tossing it into the spilled booze to light it and make a circle of fire.

He took a sumo stance and said, "Make me leave this ring and I'll let you meet the boss. The fight starts once you entered the flames. I don't care how many of you come at once."

From the player's own group, a somewhat muscular guy stepped forward. "Making him leave the ring sounds easy to me. If it's a fight of strength, you can trust me with it since I'm the reinforcement type."

The man flexed his muscles and charged his Ren. His aura looked like bubbling water that built up into a larger shape. Gon, Biscuit, and even Killua looked at the man in disdain for taking so long to build up such a poor excuse for a Ren.

The grunt charged into the circle of fire and tried to tackle the sumo, but he wasn't able to push him back a single step before the sumo wrapped his arms around Mr. Muscles and lifted him up. The man's legs were squirming around as the sumo walked to the edge of the ring and kept his opponent over the open flame.

The fire rose up and caught the man's shoe, setting it and his pant leg on fire and causing him to scream in pain and shout, "I give up!" His shouts of pain didn't elicit any sympathy from the stupid hat wearing sumo-pirate. Instead, his sadistic smile only turned more twisted.

Gon jumped over and punched him in the face. Mostly because he wanted to, but also to get him to release the guy from his grasp.

Gon shouted, "He said he lost. Why didn't you let go of him?!"

The sumo explained, "Didn't you hear the rules you little punk? You lose when you leave the circle! He didn't leave the circle, so he didn't lose. It doesn't matter what he said. Oh, and you entered the circle to hit me and left. So you lost too."

Gon looked down and realized his mistake. Before he could ask for another shot, Rayleigh placed a hand on his shoulder and glanced at Killua who knew what to do. Gon understood the hidden meaning, to let Killua handle it.

Killua asked, "Hey old guy, Can I have a try?"

"Haha, whatever you want little brat," he answered back with a confident smirk.

Instead of walking into the ring, Killua walked over to the bar counter and picked up some high proof alcohol before saying, "I'll pay for this later."

He snapped off the top before vanishing from place and appearing next to the sumo-pirate. Before said sumo could react, Killua had poured the alcohol onto him and set off a spark between his fingers.

By the time Killua had jumped down, the man's face was completely on fire.

Several other pirates saw this terrifying scene and ran over, but Killua shouted, "Don't come! The match isn't over yet."

His predator's gaze froze the pirates in place, preventing them from helping their fellow pirate.

Probably from hearing what Killua said, the sumo rolled out of the ring while screaming in pain. The others ran over to him to smother the flames and wipe the alcohol off his face

The sumo didn't seem to inhale any flames, but he did receive at least second degree burns on the soft tissue of his face. Such burns took a long time to heal and remained painful the whole while.

Said sumo looked back over to Killua as if he wanted to rip him to pieces and charged forward, but another pirate delivered a flying kick to the sumo, knocking his charge to the side.

Said pirate exclaimed, "You made a promise, so keep your cool." He then turned to the gathered players and said, "Follow me. You'll meet the boss."

*Author's Note*

Some are complaining that there isn't a lot of dialogue anymore between characters. Sorry, but this part of the arc, anime or manga version, doesn't really have a lot of dialogue outside the training since most interactions are short. I've already got ways around that which will come up in the next chapter.