The avatar standing in the Tomb demands to know who Wade is. As she steps forward, he realizes that it is Art3mis. Wade is speechless, but eventually manages to give a fake name, an obscure quote from the 1986 film Highlander. Art3mis immediately sees through it and asks how he beat Acererak. Wade realizes that she has been coming to the Tomb of Horrors and playing Joust but has been unable to win. Wade lies and tells her Acererak beat him, and Art3mis notes that Wade is the first avatar she’s seen in the Tomb. Wade lies again and boasts that he has loads of points despite being beaten by Acererak, which surprises Art3mis, as she is on the 52nd level and has almost died each time she fights him.
Once again, readers see how much of an underdog Wade is and how truly unlikely it was for him to beat Acererak. On the other hand, while he may be on a measly low level in comparison to Art3mis, he is her equal when it comes to knowledge of the 1980s pop culture that will be essential to success in the hunt. Despite this immediate connection, at this stage it seems unlikely that a friendship will develop between them, seeing as Wade keeps lying to her.
Art3mis observes that Wade looks like “a low-level wimpazoid” and that he’s not being honest with her. Wade tries to leave, and Art3mis asks why he’s not staying considering that he still needs to beat the lich. However, Art3mis pleads with him to stay, apologizing for calling him a wimp. Wade admits that he is only on the 10th level, but Art3mis points out that she should respect him as a “fellow gunter.” She begins to rant about how she has been trying to beat Acererak for three weeks without success, adding that her grades are suffering as a result. Her worst fear has come true: discovering that another gunter has found the Tomb. However, now that Wade is here, she is excited to finally be able to discuss the Tomb with another person.
Art3mis obviously feels conflicted about Wade’s presence. On one hand, she is made nervous by him, as she realizes that he is a serious threat to her success in the hunt. As a result, she aggressively teases him. On the other hand, she is relieved to not be so isolated and to finally have someone to discuss the hunt with—hence why she apologizes and then begins gushing to him. This difficult tension between alliance and independence runs throughout the novel.
Wade is charmed by Art3mis, and they both laugh. They introduce themselves, and Wade admits that he is a big fan of hers. Art3mis gives him her card, which he exclaims is the “coolest contact card” ever. Although Wade desperately wants to keep talking to her, he tells her he has to go, reminding her that they are competitors. She asks if they can still be friends, and Wade tentatively says yes. However, seconds later, she exclaims with rage that he is a “lying bastard.” She has seen the name Parzival appear on the Scoreboard, and the news headlines proclaiming that a mysterious avatar, Parzival, has found the Copper Key.
While Wade and Art3mis’ budding friendship was tenuous, for a moment it seemed possible that they could truly become friends and that neither of them would be so alone in facing the hunt. However, the revelation of Wade’s lies immediately brings this crashing down, reminding Art3mis that they are rivals who cannot truly trust each other.
Furious, Art3mis yells that she has been trying to beat Acererak for five weeks, and Wade has beat him on the first try. She realizes that Wade must have the clue leading to the location of the First Gate and that he is trying to head there now. She casts a Barrier Spell on him, trapping him in place. He accuses her of being “evil” and promises that he will still beat her to the First Gate. Art3mis warns him that he’s famous now, and that Parzival will soon become “a household name.”
Although Art3mis is angry with Wade, it is also clear that she begrudgingly respects him. Of all the things she could do to him, a barrier spell is relatively harmless. Furthermore, her comment that he will soon become extremely famous contains a hint of kindness, as she is encouraging him to be prepared.
Art3mis asks what Wade will do with Halliday’s fortune if he wins, and Wade replies that he will buy a nuclear-powered spacecraft, load it with a lifetime’s worth of supplies along with the products of human culture, and invite friends on board. He would then set out on a mission to find out a habitable, Earthlike planet. Art3mis questions why he wouldn’t help all the people on Earth who are starving, adding that if she wins the money, she will use it to feed the hungry. Then she will move on to solving the energy crisis. Wade replies skeptically, but before she leaves, he gives her a tip for beating Acererak. Art3mis says nothing and walks in to meet the lich. Wade waits for 15 minutes until the spell dissolves, before fleeing the Tomb.
Depending on one’s point of view, it would be possible to judge either Wade or Art3mis as having an unwise plan of what they would do with the prize money. Is Wade selfish and immature to want to escape Earth altogether, leaving humanity to suffer and die out? Or is Art3mis naïve to think that she would be able to solve world hunger, even if she was a multibillionaire? Perhaps both of them are naïve in their own ways—yet Art3mis’ plan is at least undeniably more altruistic than Wade’s.