Nicholas the Renegade's second rage-mode attack heavily injured the guild leader of the Dragons. The guy's out of the game now. Even Feng Yu Chen didn't think he can completely dodge the attacks.
Nicholas has high attack speed, quick reaction time, and crowd control immunity during its attack phase. If the player can't take hits while attacking, well...
In SAO, there is no skill that gives invulnerability to the player. After skill execution, a player would be in trouble when the opponent is waiting for the attack animation to end.
The Dragons' guild master chose wisely. He was lucky to get away with his life intact. He is in no fighting condition, if he stayed then he would surely die. It's not worth it to throw away his life for an item, that would be crazy. He's glad he bowed out, a boss that had two rage modes? This is his first time seeing one.
If he prepared properly, he wouldn't have been beaten down so badly. He's a skilled player so if he kept his guard up, he would have lasted longer. He wanted the kill too bad and he slipped up. Fortunately, he learned his lesson and he was still alive, that's the silver lining here.
Kirito tried to warn him. He exhibits a deep insight into the Boss' pattern and attacks. As expected of a Beater, he recognized a deviation from normal behavior the moment Nicholas acted.
Identifying weird patterns with little to no prior information, that's one of Kirito's unique ability. Maybe it's due to too many solo fights, the guy can apparently spot abnormal monster attacks.
Feng Yu Chen's up after the Dragons forfeited. The space behind Nicholas distorted as a hooded figure appeared. She tossed three daggers in the blink of an eye, her small white hands gave her away.
"It's the killer NPC!"
The players cried out.
Feng Yu Chen immediately identified the hooded figure. She's the loli assassin that dueled him once. He killed her once but she got away before he can finish the job. Danseirou also came to Feng Yu Chen with a death letter, an order from the petite assassin, he said.
"Swallow returning to Spring!!!"
The assassin took out 6 throwing daggers, she threw the daggers and the daggers ricocheted in mid-air, slicing up Nicholas as they bounced around. The Boss' arms, legs, and eyes were immediately pierced.
Nicholas roared in anger. Blinded, it couldn't locate the enemy.
The daggers flew back into her hands.
The 6 spots where Nicholas got stabbed blew up with red data polygons splattering everywhere.
Nicholas the Renegade died.
It wasn't Feng Yu Chen nor Heathcliff who got the last hit. It was the loli assassin.
"Heh, Captain Feng, you took one of my lives last time, this is payback. Thanks for tanking the attacks for me by the way..."
The petite killer snickered.
She would have looked cute, however, the players were not amused. Her remarks sounded like sarcasm to them. They gathered to take the boss down. Then, this rascal comes in and steals the boss like she's stealing normal kills. It wasn't the Dragons, the Knights, the Army, nor the Fuurinkazan. None of them got the kill, it was the infamous killer NPC from before.
Killer NPC is a term for players like the loli asssassin. However, players were asking questions. These NPCs were too intelligent, they had human-like intelligence and access to player menus. But, nobody bothered questioning whether it was okay to kill the killer NPCs, they were on the same level as PKers, threats to other players.
The petite killer's appearance here shocked Heathcliff the disguised GM the most. As the creator of this game, he detected these special players from the start. They had peculiar characteristics: They had three lives and they can kill players in Safe Areas.
Heathcliff used his admin privilege to check their status. He wanted to amend their status but the System denied him. Forcibly amending their status would corrupt the game so he couldn't do anything to change the situation.
There are also another group of players that had only one life and they can kill in safe zones too. Heathcliff extracted the information and he found something fishy, all the Wings' members belonged to this abnormal group of players.
He also noticed another peculiar thing. The two groups of players total up to 100, including the dead ones. He tried to inspect further but the System only gave him strings of "???". With his access rights, he should have been able to see all the players' information. But, that wasn't the case and it vexed him greatly.
Whenever he tried to change their status or edit their information, Heathcliff would get the corruption warning. The game threatened to shut down on the GM, so much for his intricate design. Without any other alternatives, he kept a lid on these 100 outlying players.
At this point, Heathcliff accepted their existence as an added feature to the game. It felt more interesting this way anyway. Through observation, he found out the two groups of players killed each other whenever they had the chance.
To see further developments in SAO and the players in general is Kayaba Akihiko's greatest motivation in this game. Right now, Heathcliff is wondering if he should round up the top players to subjugate these "Killer NPCs", would that spice up the game?