The Twilight Marauder (夕闇の略奪者, Yūyami no Ryakudatsusya) is the 3rd volume of the Accel World light novel series, published on October 10, 2009.
"That's game over, Arita--I mean, Silver Crow."
His life completely transformed since meeting Kuroyukihime, the most beautiful girl in school, Haruyuki has grown up into a magnificent knight, fat and bullied though he might be.
As the season turns to spring, a strange new student appears before Haruyuki and his friends, now in eighth grade. This mysterious seventh grader has mastered the art of using Brain Burst in everyday life, despite being curiously absent from the Duel matching list.
With Kuroyukihime away on a field trip for the ninth grade class, this new member of the student body, in the guise of a warped duel avatar called Dusk Taker, steals "something precious" from Haruyuki with overwhelming force. Cast once again to the bottom rungs of the school hierarchy ladder, Haruyuki is driven into a corner, and his only course of action is--?!
Haruyuki woke up in the middle of the night because of a strong wind. He notices it had started to rain. Wondering what to do, he decides to play, but before he starts, he receives a call notification coming from Chiyuri downstairs. He answers and Chiyuri tells him she can't sleep and that it was his fault. Haruyuki had told her she will have a scary nightmare on her first night after installing the game, as the game was searching your memories in the form of a nightmare to filter mental scars like past traumas. But if she won't sleep, he can't create her avatar and Haruyuki wonders if she even has traumas, but Chiyuri quickly tells a story of how on a elementary school trip a boy got super motion sickness on her lap, but then remembers that Haruyuki still haven't apologized for that, so he quickly does now. They talk for a bit, but Chiyuri felt the way they talk annoying and invites him in her home net. Haruyuki uses direct link and then connects to her net. Usually the home net VR resembles the living house, but he was surprised it was an endless space of cushions in various pastel colors. Chiyuri, who's avatar was 60% cat, then asks Haruyuki why is he still using his old pig-like avatar, but Haruyiki tells her he is used to it and it would be too much of a hassle to change it. Haruyuki started imagining how he can use the space to recreate a battlefield, but Chiyuri quickly realizes it and denies him, knowing he will fill it with metal and oil. She then tells him she wants to use him as a pillow as a payback and apology for what he did in the past and Haruyuki agrees and soon Chiyuri falls into deep sleep.
With a mere three classes in each grade, Umesato Junior High School was not a big school and had 360 students. All of them were lined for the welcome ceremony, where Kuroyukihime was giving a speech, knowing that the new students were nervous, she gave as example the older students who were in their place 1-2 years ago, but now look all calm. Haruyuki realizes that after one more year, Kuroyukihime will graduate, but their relationship shouldn't end there.
Returning to the school building, Haruyuki almost went to the third floor again, but realizes his classroom is now on the second. As he enters, he neither knows who his teacher will be or who his classmates would be, but he hopes no one would be bullying him. As he enters, he hears a greeting and sees Chiyuri. He then hears another greeting and sees Takumu. Haruyuki tried calculating the probability in them being in the same class, but Takumu corrects him. Takumu then explains there is a probability of Burst Linker being in the new seventh graders. They dived into the game, to look if there was new Burst Linker, but the 4th was Lime Bell, which was supposed to be Chiyuri.
Chiyuri had become a healer type, something very rare that even made Kuroyukihime surprised as she believed it was 50-50 chance whatever Chiyuri could become a Burst Linker, but not only did she became one, she also was a healer.
Two days had passed since Chiyuri became a Burst Linker, but Kuroyukihime was quite busy with student council business. Haruyuki wanted to inform her by mail on Chiyuri ability, but Takumu had stopped him, telling him he needs to tell her in person. When they met with Kuroyukihime, she tells Haruyuki that Takumu's judgement was correct and it could have been bad if another Burst Linker had learned about Chiyuri's ability. She knew that Burst Linkers through Tokyo will gather in trying to get Chiyuri join their Legion. Haruyuki started to realize how rare her ability was, as even though his fly ability was rare among rares, he only received two-three invitations to join other Legions. Kuroyukihime explained that since the beginning of the game seven years ago, only two avatars had healing ability. One managed to dodge all invitations and it doing fine now, but the other couldn't endure being the center of constant battling and had left the accelerated world, deleting his own Brain Burst. She then explained that how powerful is having a healer and even if you work hard to take down some of the enemy HP, how easily she can heal it and since its rare, different strategies and traps would be placed using the healer. Per Haruyuki's question she explains the other current active healer is one of the Six Kings of pure color and if they do want, they indeed can unify the world, but for the moment she doesn't want to reveal the healers color and name.
Umesato Junior High School is shaped in a H form with the middle part being a sport wing. Haruyuki was heading to one part of the school, he never had set foot during his first year, the martial arts area. As he reaches it and enters, Chiyuri sees him and tells him he is late and its Takumu's match now. There was a kendo tournament and Takumu was participating in it. Takumu had intended to dedicate all his time to Brain Buster, but Kuroyukihime had convinced him to do other things too and he decided to continue his kendo practices. The kendo matches had started to use neurolinker, to not only give visual presentation of points and time, but also register the hits. Last year, Takumu had used acceleration to win the tournament, but almost lost his Brain Buster as he used too many points. He then had infected Chiyuri's neurolinker with a virus and tried to steal Kuroyukihime's points. He not deeply regrets those actions and the two girls had already forgiven him. Takumu now was facing Takagi, who he defeats easily. But another seventh grader student was the hot talk. A short boy Nomi, was even more easily defeating his opponents. Both reached the final and face each other. As their match start Takumu was seemingly to win the first round, but Nomi reacted greatly and took the round. But the ability he showcased doesn't look possibly in the physical world. During the second round, Haruyuki started to observe Nomi and noticed that he uses very quiet commands, realizing he was a Burst Linker. Haruyuki uses Burst Linker and goes to inspect Nomi, where he confirms he is using accelerated ability and plans to challenge him as Nega Nebulus had a ironclad rule that forbids use acceleration in tests and tournaments. But Haruyuki wasn't able to find Nomi in the list of players and as he couldn't do anything more he called a Burst Out. Then as things returned to normal, Nomi showcased again some extreme ability, avoiding Takumu's attack and hitting him, to end the match as a winner.
While eating pizza, Haruyuki asked Takumu if Nomi was a Burst Linker. Takumu was a bit surprised of the question, but he smiled and continued eating. Soon Chiyuri joined them, telling they should eat something proper and brought her mom's lasagna and as they ate it, they complimented her mother's cooking. Chiyuri explained that her mother cookings output is 50% when not cooking for her dad, but this lasagna should be 95% as its cooked for Chiyuri's future husband.
Haruyuki then continued the discussion about Nomi and Takumu said his first name was Seiji and that there is an older student Yuichi Nomi, but he is unsure if they are brothers or not. Haruyuki told Takumu that Nomi accelerated during their battle, but Takumu didn't mind it and had no problem loosing and that he saw Nomi making the commands. Chiyuri was surprised that Nomi is a Burst Linker as they had said there are no newbies and Haruyuki explained he indeed wasn't in the list as he had accelerated too. Takumu then explained there is Physical Burst and using the tea, he showcased it. Haruyuki then remembered that Kuroyukihime had used the same ability to save him six months ago. Haruyuki understood why this was forbidden and how many points you can spend just for fame. Takumu explained that Nomi was just like him last year, but Chiyuri disagreed saying he was winning for her. Haruyuki agreed and said that they need to understand how he keeps hidden in the list. After a short thinking, Takumu thanked them and told them he will try figuring it during their practices.
Two days had passed, but Haruyuki didn't had the time to think about Nomi, as he was focusing on remembering the names of his new classmates. Chiyuri had already befriended a couple of girls and Takumu had found a brainy group. Haruyuki could easily join them, but he wanted to find friends himself.
Some time later, Haruyuki, Kuroyukihime and Takumu participate in a Territories duel. When they win, Takumu leave as he was in kendo practice. Haruyuki then explains to Kuroyukihime that they suspect Nomi of being a Burst Linker and explains what happened during the tournament. Kuroyukihime explains that there were no Burst Linkers in school before her and if Yuichi was one, he must had lost his Brain Burst before her. Haruyuki wondered if there was other way to be on the net and not connected on the school net, but Kuroyukihime said it was unlikely. They wondered what his objective was and Kuroyukihime mentioned she will be away from Tokyo for a week, but could fake an illness and stay. Hearing that Haruyuki quickly told her to not do that and enjoy the junior high trip and requested she to get him plenty of videos and pictures.
On the next day, Kuroyukihime had went off to her trip. Haruyuki received a call from Takumu, who informed him he couldn't find anything so far, but got a picture of Nomi and send it to Haruyuki. Normally the neurolinker could make screenshots, but without the permission of the other person, their faces are not seen, so the image Takumu had found was commemorative photo. There he saw Nomi's childish and feminine face.
Haruyuki received a message from Nomi to meet him alone in the courtyard, a place Haruyuki was quite familiar as it didn't had a social cameras and he was often called and bullied there. As he went, Nomi appeared and told him the battle was over and victory was his, but Haruyuki couldn't understand and told him they have not yet fought. Nomi told him there was no need as long as he had this and showed a device. Haruyuki wondered how he applied a visual mask to his neurolinker. Nomi was surprised he figured it, but as a reward told him it was the photo Takumu gave him. Haruyuki then realized why the file was so big. As he was the one who embedded the tags, it was a simple matter to embed a program to tamper with vision along with tags. Haruyuki realized Nomi wasn't just a kid and his appearance and mental age no longer matched. Haruyuki then accepted the file Nomi gave him and he inspected it for viruses, he started watching it. In the video it was seen how Haruyuki went to the girls showers. As Nomi explained he had a streamlined device with which he recordered it, Haruyuki wondered what his goal was and if it was to drop out of school. But Nomi told him he worked quite hard to make him drop and that he wants him to be his pet and bring him the Burst points he use each day.
In that moment, Chiyuri appeared saying she won't let him do that and that she will say he called Haruyuki to help her as she strangled her leg in the showers. Nomi congratulated her on her thinking, but wondered what will happen if they find a camera and then this video of Haruyuki shows up on the net. In that moment an emergency was streamed to all students reporting them to leave some areas. Nomi then guessed they found the camera, but it was no surprise as he had set it up to start making a noise just around now. Nomi then told Chiyuri she will be his lap dog and he will do whatever he wants with her. Haruyuki got furious and charged at Nomi with a clenched fist and Nomi was prepared to use Physical Burst, Haruyuki for the first time in his life muttered the command Physical Burst!
As he called the command, Haruyuki realized this wasn't acceleration, but deceleration as his body an everything around his got slower by 1/10th. He tried fighting Nomi, but Nomi avoided his punch and landed a counter on his jawbone. At first Haruyuki didn't feel anything, but then the pain arrived and he felt to the ground in agony. Nomi then approached him, saying he just wasted five points as Haruyuki probable can't even fight. Having three minutes to until next period, Nomi accepted Haruyuki's challenge and plugged XSB cable to Haruyuki's neurolinker and yelled Burst Link!
Haruyuki wondered why now as Nomi had been avoiding fighting them so far. A stage loaded up and two HP bars showed, the second being of Dusk Taker, a level five. Haruyuki realized he must had done this to a lot of people and had leveled up without even needing to fight. Haruyuki wondered if he want him just to let him beat him and take his points. But he also told Nomi that now he has his real name and his avatar and he can release his information to other acceleration users who would non-stop attack him. Nomi agreed he had "one card", but he would still take his points and that he still had holding something precious to Haruyuki.
The duel started and using what he had learned, Haruyuki launched a series of attacks that landed and took some HP of his opponent. As he continued, he lowered Nomi's HP to 30%. Nomi then attacked with his right hand whips and one connected. Haruyuki tried pull and fly off and then slam him, but as he did, he heard a snap and realized Nomi cut of his own arm. As there was no more resistance from the whip, Haruyuki crashed on the ground breaking several tombstones. Then skeletal arms, effect from the Cemetery stage, grabbed him from underground. He tried to lift of, but Dusk Taker took him down, who now had less than 20% HP. Standing above him, Haruyuki noticed Nomi's left arm started to regenerate. Nomi then released his special attack, emitting pillar of black light on Haruyuki, but his HP didn't start to decrease. Haruyuki tried to pull himself up, but he couldn't and then he realized his silver fins were gone. Nomi then stepped back and released black wings, which he took a bit to learn to fly. Haruyuki was shocked, as he was supposed to be the only duel avatar that can fly. Nomi then explained his special attacks steals the Armament, special attack or other abilities from the enemy avatar and that's how he got those whips years ago. Haruyuki wanted his wings back and Nomi told him he will return them, when he graduate two years from now and if he had been giving him points during that time. Unable to continue fighting, the duel ended with Haruyuki's defeat.
Haruyuki didn't even remember how the rest of the classes passed and the next thing he realized, he was in his bed still in school uniform. He couldn't believe this was real and he could have gotten into the game and check if he still has wings, but he had no desire for that. The doorbell rang and he saw it was Takumu, who had spend the whole day asking him about his jaw bruise and what was wrong with him and Chiyuri, but neither had told him. As the bell kept ringing, Haruyuki finally opened the door. Takumu got in and after a bit of silence, he told him that if he can't tell him what happened, he won't ask again, but wondered what was Chiyuri to him and why he left her in this heartbroken state. Haruyuki couldn't tell him, as he had to reveal everything. Haruyuki then asked him what was Chiyuri for him and Takumu said he liked her, but he will leave her to make her own decision even if that's not him. As Haruyuki started pressuring him if he is telling him he can have Chiyuri and that he will go after Kuroyukihime then, Takumu punched him in the face, asking if he was that untrustworthy to not tell him the truth. Haruyuki fell on the ground, but still couldn't tell him the truth. After a moment, Takumu left, apologizing for hitting him.
After spending some time on the floor, Haruyuki got up and left the apartment. He remembered a new RPG game was out, but he had to uninstall something to be able to install it. Brain Burst was quite big game and he started considering uninstalling and how that will resolve everything and he won't be tied to Nomi anymore. Yet he decided to go and duel to make the points he needs for Nomi. He went into a different region, to avoid his friends and on his way there, he was thinking what was the live of the people who lost all their points. As he accelerated, he waited for an opponent in the Green Legion territory. Not waiting for long, Ash Roller appeared and Haruyuki recognized him without even looking at his name. Ash Roller had now homing missiles on his bike, but Haruyuki told him he has reasons to not fly. But in the duel, Haruyuki was no match and after falling down, he decided to stay and Ash Roller to finish him off, but Ash Roller wondered why would he give up, reminding him their second fight when he lifted his bike, making him unable to do anything, but he still kept fighting. After Haruyuki explained he can't fly and he won't understand, Ash Roller asked for his location and arranged a meeting between them later in the Unlimited Neutral Field and offered a draw, which Haruyuki accepted.