Asuna and the other Knights all gasped when they saw the figure sitting upon the throne...
Klein pointed a finger at Heathcliff. He is absolutely outraged.
"Why are you there?"
"Where's the final boss?"
Kirito had a bad feeling about this. With a grim look, he looked at Heathcliff, urging for him to explain himself. Instead, the guy chuckled heartily, making Kirito look even darker.
He stood up without taking up his Holy Sword. He swept his gaze over every player here. He saw the stunned looks on their faces and he turned towards Wu Yan.
Heathcliff grinned. He looked like he wanted to crack a joke or something.
"You don't look surprised with this revelation..."
"Nope, you're wrong about that."
Wu Yan laughed as he shrugged. He stared down Heathcliff's barrel.
"When you were missing from the gathering, it was shocking for me..."
Heathcliff narrowed his eyes.
"You don't look shocked to me..."
"I am still okay..."
Asuna watched as Wu Yan stepped up.
"If I am still gawking, who will defeat you?..."
The other players were stunned once more. Heathcliff laughed, his laughter grew louder.
"Yan-kun, you're truly a specimen above others!"
Heathcliff descended his throne with his Holy Sword in tow. He steadily marched over to Wu Yan while giving his own soliloquy.
"You know, when we first met, I had a feeling..."
"I knew, instinctively, you're going to be the one standing before me in the Red Jade Palace. I knew it was going to be you!"
"Oh? I didn't think you thought so highly of me..."
Wu Yan stopped as his coat flapped. He stopped 5 meters away from the figure in red.
"On the contrary, I don't like you from the moment we first met..."
Heathcliff looked away, he looked at the players who recovered from their initial shock.
"Congratulations to you guys too! You did great for making it to the highest floor!"
Kirito stared at Heathcliff with a serious look.
"What do you mean?! 'Welcome to my castle'?!"
"Is it that hard to understand?..."
"Truly, your reactions are within my expectations. It must be horrifying to see someone who used to fight alongside you reveal himself to you in this manner..."
"But, you guys heard it right!"
Heathcliff sounded like a villain about to throw away his disguise.
"This Red Jade Palace is mine. No, the whole Aincrad was made by me. The world and even your virtual bodies were made by me. I made your virtual bodies with the data stored in the Nervegear!"
His words froze everyone here. Looks of disbelief crept onto their faces. Some raid players lost their will as they collapsed onto the floor. They couldn't believe their ears.
What Heathcliff said is very easy to get, it's their hearts that couldn't handle the truth.
There is only one person capable or qualified to say he's the creator of this world. There is only one person who transformed everyone's avatar into their real-life equivalent.
Even if they don't want to face the truth. When Heathcliff appeared to them as the Final Boss in the Red Jade Palace, what's more for there to be said?
Kirito sucked in a cold breath of air. With a bitter expression, he yelled the guy's identity out loud.
"You're Kayaba Akihiko!"
Heathcliff shook his head. While the players almost sighed in relief, he dispelled their doubts with his next paragraph.
"Kirito-kun, need I remind you that it's not good to ask for or reveal personal information. I created this world but I still want to abide by this world's rules. Just call me Heathcliff while we are here!"
Asuna covered her mouth with utter shock. She backed away subconsciously.
Heathcliff didn't answer her. He opened another topic.
"In my original plan, I wanted to reveal myself on the 95th-floor, I planned to wait for you guys after that but..."
He looked at Wu Yan with a formal look on his face.
"Yan-kun, your appearance caused me to shelf that idea!"
"Oh? The mighty creator god-sama is afraid of a mere player like me?..."
Wu Yan threw verbal jabs at Heathcliff. He shook his head with a modest look.
"I just wanted to observe you for just a while longer.
Heathcliff continued with a serious tone.
"I mean, you're the spanner thrown into my meticulous works!"
"You know, your strength bedeviled me, how can a player attain such power?"
Heathcliff shook his head.
"In SAO, players are all limited in potential, there's a ceiling. This ceiling can only be exceeded with certain special conditions, even for someone like me. I designed the Unique Skills with this in mind, to allow a group of players to attain powers beyond other players!"
"I gave myself the Holy Sword, the Dual Blades was designed to be granted to the player with the fastest response time. You're the Hero and I am the Devil Lord, that was my original plot..."
"I thought only another Unique Skill user can fight on par with me!"
Heathcliff sounded a bit frustrated.
"But, I was wrong, woefully wrong. You're the outlier who completely threw me off my rails. You used your own strength to beat me, you did that without relying on Dual Blades!"
"Do you know? Yan-kun..."
Heathcliff shifted his gaze over to Wu Yan.
"I am not satisfied with the outcome. I am frustrated by the fact that I lost to another player who chose not to use his unique skill when I am using my Unique Skill..."
"That's why... Yan-kun..."
Heathcliff slammed his shield into the ground.
"Before the final battle, let us duel one more time!"
Wu Yan raised his arm to stop Asuna. He grinned at Heathcliff.
"Are you sure about that?..."
Wu Yan narrowed his eyes at him.
"You look like you want to do this without using Administrator privileges. Do you think you can win by using your stats as a player?"
"Indeed, I don't think anyone can best you in a duel."
Heathcliff continued with a nonchalant look.
"Although I won't be using Administrator privileges in this incoming fight. I will, however, modify my stats to that of a Final Boss. You will be fighting me as the Final Floor Boss with stats granted to such a monster!"
"How about it? Yan-kun, do you have the confidence to solo the Floor boss one more time?..."