Chapters 9–12 Summary and Analysis
The avatar is Art3mis, the woman Wade has a cyber-crush on. She demands to know how he fared in jousting against King Acererak. Wade lies about his success, as he suspects that Art3mis may battle him for the key. Since she is a Level 52 avatar, Wade is wary of pitting his Level 10 avatar against her. He tries to leave, but before he can get out of the tomb, Art3mis spots his name on the Scoreboard. She becomes apoplectic that Wade defeated Acererak on his first try and then lied about his accomplishment. Art3mis’s competitive spirit leads her to use a Barrier spell to seal the tomb. At midnight, all of the traps Wade disarmed will re-engage, slow his exit from the tomb, and impede his progress towards the First Gate.
Before they part ways, Art3mis warns Wade about revealing his true identity to the world: there are some who will kill to obtain information from him. The two then discuss their plans for the prize money. Wade answers that he will spend most of his fortune on a nuclear-powered interstellar spacecraft. He will fill it with friends and a team of scientists for his journey away from a dying Earth to a newer, inhabitable planet. By contrast, Art3mis wants to erase world hunger and solve the energy crisis. Before they part ways, Wade tells Art3mis that she may have better luck playing on Acererak's left.
Wade takes an hour to exit the tomb and is inundated with messages from Aech once he gets outside. Pressed for time, Wade replies with a text message promising to call soon. He then travels to one of the 256 recreations of Halliday's hometown. As he is about to turn down the street where Halliday's childhood home is located, Wade notices the Scoreboard change: Art3mis has defeated King Acererak and obtained the Copper Key. At the house, Wade makes his way to Halliday's room and discovers that the walls are plastered with movie and rock-band posters.
He inserts the Dungeons of Daggorath cartridge into Halliday's TRS-80, and Basil Poledouris's score for Conan the Barbarian begins to play on the jambox. After the score finishes, the theme music from Ladyhawke
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