Chapter 6 - The Seal and the Manticore

Early afternoon in the living room where the New Year’s atmosphere has started fading away.

“Sorry, Shun-chan, Myu-chan. I will go to the guild for a while now.”

“Have fun~. We are challenging the boss tonight! I can’t waitt!”

Sei-nee headed to Eight Million Gods guild inside OSO to check on their situation and Miu started gathering information in the living room using a laptop.

“I heard that Sei-nee went to check the situation in the guild and give instructions, but why aren’t you logging in, Miu?”

“I thought there would be information on Sense Expansion Quest so I investigated, and now there isn’t enough time to log in and do leveling, so I decided to just sit and wait.”

She said and sitting in the kotatsu, Miu researched something on the laptop.

I responded with “hmmm” and stood in the kitchen to continue cooking.

“Hey, Onii-chan, what are you making? Snacks?”

“Oh, no. This is for Takumi..."

When I started explaining to Miu, a doorbell rang in the entrance.

I stopped the conversation there and turned to the entrance. There I saw Takumi with a bag on his shoulder, convenience store bag in his hand, and all shivering from the cold.

“Welcome. Come in.”

“Sorry to intrude. And about this.”

“Good grief. I can’t refuse, can I. Well, we have mochi and ingredients to spare so I don’t mind.”

I said and had Takumi, who raised the bag to show it, enter the living room.

Outside must have been really cold, as Takumi headed straight into the kotatsu, making Miu stop concentrating and raise her head.

“Eh? What is it, Takumi-san?”

“My mother isn’t there for the entire day today, so I came to pester Shun for food. Also, I brought some souvenirs for everyone.”

“Ohh, it’s my favorite soda-flavored boribori-kun and Sei-oneechan’s favorite miyuki daifuku! So you remembered!”

Inside the bag that Takumi passed to Miu were juice, ice cream and sweets. Miu took out ice cream right away and started eating it.

“I’m in wonder, how you can eat ice when it’s so cold outside.”

“It’s good BECAUSE it’s cold outside!”

I took out all the ice sweets from the bag and threw them inside the freezer, then carried ready cooking in front of Takumi.

“C’mon, I bet you didn’t bother eating since morning, did you. Heck, if you went to the convenience store, you could have bought food there.”

“Convenience store lunches are expensive, aren’t they? I prefer to save up money to buy games.”

While saying so, he put his chopsticks in the new year dish I made, then started eating mochi.

I lined up stir-fried vegetables with pork roast, then together with Miu we watched Takumi eat it hungrily.

“Yep, it’s great!”

“Good for you. Want some tea?”

“Ahh! I want a portion too! Also, seeing Takumi-san eat mochi made me want to eat some too!”

She just ate some ice candy, now she wants to eat mochi? I thought and returned to the kitchen and threw a single mochi into an oven and prepared some green tea while it swelled, before finally carrying it to the two in kotatsu.

Takumi has already finished eating the stir-fried vegetables with pork meat and together with Miu, started to consult about the game while they looked at the laptop’s screen.

“Miu-chan, is there any good information?”

“There is information on the January update, but I can’t find any information on the Sense Expansion Quest, eh. But, there is a list of the three types of trials.”

She said and then turned the laptop so that I could see as well.

Seeing the number and variety of quests lined up there I felt dizziness, and at the same time I found several fun-looking quests.

“Those revival medicine-related quests, they look fun. Also, these delivery quests, I have stock so it would be nice if I had them.”

““Shun(Onii-chan)...””

Takumi and Miu looked at me appalled, but it’s normal to want to have it easier, right?

“Well, whatever. So, Takumi-san, did you find any information?”

“Nothing in particular. The information I have now is that there is a newly-added boss mob called Fungus Jumbo which drops an item for cultivating mushrooms called【Mushroom】log.“

“Ehh, mushrooomm?”

Miu who is bad with eryngii made a displeased face, but I got interested in this item and started listening attentively to what Takumi has to say.

“Apparently it’s a log which grows mushrooms if you pour water on it at a certain temperature, if that is all, then it’s just an item for gathering mushroom ingredients for cooking.”

“Sounds nice, I kind of want it.”

“Eh, no way. Shun-oniichan, seriously?”

“If it’s like that, then it might be possible not only to get the basic mushroom items for food, but also be possible to cultivate other fungi on it for mixing.”

【Healing Mushroom】that I acquired at the Wyvern Mountain Range increases the amount of healing when it’s dried and crushed, so if I put its fungi on the【Mushroom Log】, there is a possibility I could acquire a stable supply of them.

“Ahhh, well, I don’t know whether it can be used that way, but there might be a possibility…?”

“Well, even if it’s impossible, it would only mean that shrooms are added to Shun-oniichan’s collection in the store.”

Saying so, were Takumi who made an impressed expression and Miu, who without interest turned her sight back to the laptop’s screen.

And then, Miu who was searching if there is some interesting info suddenly turned toward me and asked.

“Speaking of which,【Emperor Isopod】dropped me a【Fooleg’s Shining Orb】, what is it used for?”

“Ah, I also got that drop. It’s apparently enhancement material. You know anything, Shun?”

It seems it also dropped for Takumi, and he joined in on Miu’s question.

Actually when we beat the boss and I was sorting out items, I checked for information about it.

“I also got that item drop and investigated it, so I know what it does.”

“Really?! As expected, Shun-oniichan!”

“Still, for us three to have gotten it, does it mean that【Fooleg's Shining Orb】always drops?”

Miu complimented me, and Takumi started wondering about the new issue, but since it was not something one could come to a conclusion just by thinking, he prompted me to explain the enhancement material’s effect.

“I don’t know what effect it has on weapons and armor, but【Craftsmanship】-type Sense enchants accessories with【Recovery Effect (Medium)】.”

“That’s the higher version of my Snow-White Bracelet’s effect! Re-enchant it for me later, Shun-oniichan!”

“【Recovery Effect (Medium)】huhh? I think it had an effect on both HP and MP recovery items as well? In which case, I should have at least one item with that.”

When Miu and Takumi talked about that, Sei-nee who went to show herself in OSO’s【Eight Million Gods】guild had come out from her room and downstairs to the living room.

“Ah, Takumi-kun, so you came. Welcome. What are you talking about?”

While surprised by the fact Takumi came, Sei-nee joined in on our conversation. I poured fresh green tea for her and answered.

“About Sense Expansion quest, whether there is any new information, as well as about【Emperor Isopod】drops.”

“Ahh, I got【Deep Seabug Carapace】crafting material. Looks like it can be used for making a light armor chestplate, but it’s of no use to me.”

“Ehh? Sei-oneechan… you didn’t get a【Fooleg's Shining Orb】?”

As Miu confirmed, Sei-nee looked at my and Takumi’s face to check our reactions. Miu made a “Now I’ve done it” expression.

“...Can it be, my drop luck was bad again?”

“Sei-nee! I won’t be using mine! I won’t use this enhancing material, let’s exchange!”

Seeing tears gather in the corners of Sei-nee’s eyes, I reflexively responded so.

“Uuuhh, thank you, Shun-chan. But I need to maintain my dignity as onee-chan, so I won’t take it.

Sei-nee said and smiled superficially, but she did appear to be bothered about her lack of drop luck as she heaved a sigh at her teacup.

“Hmmm. Sei-oneechan, do we go progress Sense Expansion Quest now? Everyone is here, we have time. Even if we wait, it doesn’t seem like there will be any new info anytime soon.”

“But Takumi’s VR Gear is in his house——”I thought that would be the case so I brought it” heck, why the hell?!”

I retorted to Takumi being prepared too well; Miu and Sei-nee responded to that with wry smiles.

“I guess. Might as well challenge it as is now. Also, I do want to party as much as possible with Miu-chan, Shun-chan and Taku-kun before I have to return to my boarding house.”

Said Sei-nee with a faint smile, to which I nodded.

“Well then, Miu and Sei-nee log in from your rooms. I will log in from the living room with Takumi.”

Also, I told them to properly lock their doors, in response to which Miu looked puzzled and Sei-nee smiled bitterly and nodded.

I carried out my VR Gear from my room and entered the kotatsu facing Takumi, then set up VR Gear and logged in.

 

 

“It appears you have splendidly overcome the three trials.”

We logged in to OSO and stood in front of the Priest NPC in front of the great cathedral.

With the quest conditions fulfilled, we were now guided by the Priest NPC to one of the rooms inside the great cathedral.

This room‘s walls were made with bare stone and had three holes lined up in a wall made with single rock.

“Next will be the final trial. Place the proof of your trials’ completion inside and you will enter the【Sealing Room】. If you complete this trial, the goddess will surely bestow new power upon you.”

After the Priest NPC said so, being watched by him we put the quest items we received from each trial inside the holes.

Sei-nee put【Unfertilized Wyvern Egg】in the left hole.

Myu put【Legopod's Joint】in the right hole.

And I put【North Town's Letter of Gratitude】in the central hole.

When we did, the three holes closed with a rumbling sound and the large rock started rotating to reveal a hidden staircase.

I peeked downstairs and saw torchlights and felt a warm air blowing from below caress my cheek.

After confirming the【Sealing Room】’s rock completely disappeared, the Priest NPC said a farewell and left.

“Equipment prepared?”

“All okaay, Taku-san!”

“We okay with potions and consumables?”

“I prepared them so there is no problem. I also brought plenty of revival medicine.”

In front of the【Sealing Room】where the last trial of the Sense Expansion quest takes place, Taku called out to us to confirm everything, then Myu and I answered him. Sei-nee looked at us with a smile.

“From here on it’s the first-time challenge without prior info!”

“I’m all excited. Sure do want to get this one done in one try!”

If we took our time gathering information and doing preparations, our chances of beating this would have increased. But the time limit within which Sei-nee needs to return to her boarding house, put a fire under Myu and Taku.

I am anxious about challenging it without any information myself, but at the same time my heartbeat won’t stop from the anticipation of what happens, it feels fresh like never before.

We raise my voice saying “alright, let’s go!” and head down the stairs.

The cold atmosphere of the great cathedral changed all at once, the place we entered was filled with warm and moist air. As we walked the stairs lit by torchlight which seemed to continue endlessly, Myu voiced a question.

“Speaking of which, that NPC called this a【Sealing Room】, so what is sealed in there?”

“Well, it’s that. All evil of this world, a heavy criminal NPC, a secret boss stronger than the demon lord?”

“Mayhaps there is a portal which leads to some enormous dungeon?”

“Why would such disturbing things be under a cathedral…? But, the word “sealing” is certainly unsettling.”

I retorted to Taku and Sei-nee’s response, but there certainly seems to be some deeper meaning behind the “sealing” word.

What did they seal? What did they seal it for?

Hearing their conversation that was devoid of any nervousness, some of my own was released and we arrived at the end of the stairs.

There, was a large blue two-winged door made of steel. Taku looked at everyone, we nodded, and he pushed the door strongly with his palm.

The door let out a creaky sound as it opened, inside, there was a circular room lit up with torches starting at the entrance and leading to the back.

In the center, sat a single mob.

It was a lion who had yellow fur with red mixed in and large wings on its back. On the tip of its tail there was a dark red thorn. The creature also had twisted horns and a red mane.

“Boss’ name is——【Manticore of the Sealing Room】heck, literally what it looks to be!”

It might be a Manticore sitting in a Sealing Room, but making it into a name is too simplistic for my taste.

Reacting to my voice, the Manticore glared at us with its sharp cat glare.

Its neck was chained to the ceiling, and its front legs, rear legs and tail were chained to walls in three directions.

And the moment all of us entered the【Sealing Room】, the blue door behind us closed with strong momentum. The manticore roared vigorously.

Then, wedges that the chains were attached to have burst and wall in each direction shone with red, blue and green colors respectively.

The only chain that remained attached, was the one chaining the Manticore’s neck. And so, the final trial began.

 

 

“Let’s go, Myu-chan!”

“Yes, Taku-san!”

Myu and Taku held their weapons up and broke into run, then took position on both sides of the Manticore. Sei-nee and I started supporting them with bow and magic from the back.

“《Enchant》——Attack, defense, speed!《Cursed》——Defense!”

I apply enchants on Myu and Taku to support them, and also released a curse on the Manticore to weaken it, but due to the enemy’s high stats it was resisted.

Myu and Taku approached closer to the Manticore, which seemed to respond to that by attacking them.

Claw attacks with forelegs, bite with its fangs, tail swipe which used a morning star-like thorny tip of the tail.

Myu and Taku ascertained the safe distance and avoided attacks, then using the openings that are peculiar to large mobs, they attacked boss’ forelegs and sides.

While the Manticore’s attacks were varied, it was mostly just close combat attacks, so Sei-nee and I in the back could continue safely attacking from the back.

I relay the situation as seen from the back to Myu and Taku.

“It’s jumping!”

“Got it!”

My【See-Through】Sense taught me about enemy’s preliminary movements, I asserted enemy’s next movement and relayed it to them. I received a response from Taku who stood in the front.

Putting strength in its both legs and spreading its legs, the Manticore suddenly created a gust of wind and blew Taku away.

Unable to resist the wind blast, Taku instead used it in order to take distance from the Manticore and heaved a deep breath.

“HAaa,《Fifth Brea——Kyaah?!”

When the Manticore jumped, Myu had entered an Art activation motion and was unable to do emergency avoidance.

“——Myu?!”

Myu endured the gusts of wind the Manticore made with its wings as it jumped, but the impact wave that followed as the Manticore landed had blown her away. Also, the damage from the shockwave has reached the place we stood on, which caused us all to receive a stun.

Receiving Manticore’s falling impact directly, Myu lost 60% of her HP and was lightly blown away several meters into the back, but thanks to that was able to avoid the Manticore’s following attack.

“——《Mega Heal》!”

Recovered from the stun, Myu recovered her HP, but right after, she was overrun by cold sweat.

If she had bad enough luck and received【Stun】status with the last attack, there was a possibility she would receive a follow-up strike.

The sequence of actions left it full of openings, but each attack of the Manticore dealt loads of damage. So far, if we fight while maintaining a safe margin, there are no serious threats, but we shouldn’t let our guard down against this opponent.

However, when about 10% of its HP was shaved away, there was a change in Manticore’s movements.

It raised its front legs and stood on its rear, then roared toward the ceiling.

“NOW! ——《Sonic Edge》!”

“——《Sol Ray》!”

Myu and Taku used the chance to start attacking the Manticore’s exposed belly with their ranged Arts.

“Good grief. It could at least have some effect… what a waste.

I muttered quietly, this voice did not reach Taku and Myu whose Arts delivered damage to the boss.

Seeing that, Sei-nee and I also joined in on attacking without a problem.

And when the Manticore finished its roar, it swung down its front legs it raised when it stood up. With that the chains that were attached to its front legs and pulled from the wall, flew right at me and Sei-nee.

“Sei-oneechan, Yun-oneechan!”

Myu and Taku escaped chains’ trajcetory and called out to us.

“It’s alright. ——《Water Round》!”

“——《Clay Shield》!”

Sei-nee and I quietly activated defensive magic and cooperating, created a two-layer protection.

On the outside the water shield, on the inner the clay wall——

Chains which struck like whip used the centrifugal force and pierced through the outer round shield made of water, but thanks to water acting as shock absorber the attack was weakened and the wall of soil was able to block the strike.

However, following that, an attack of two chains caused the wall to reach its limit and crumble. Behind it, we started to see the Manticore’s appearance

“Se-nee!”

The moment I saw its appearance, my【See-Through】Sense reacted and I instantly lunged at Sei-nee and thrust her to the side.

We jumped out from inside the wall of soil and checked the Manticore’s state, and it appeared that it aimed its thorny tail toward where the wall was in and started shooting thorns. However——

“...It missed?”

Thick thorns have hit——right above the soil wall’s remnant, into the wall shining with green light that was behind us, and the light started flickering.

“If he missed, then now is the chance——《Nine Sword Slash》!”

Myu has closed the distance between her and the Manticore all at once and slashed with her one-handed sword. Her Art did not activate and her sword stopped in mid-air, halfway through the slash

The Manticore used that opening and did a large swing at Myu.

“Kyaah——!”

“Myu-chan! ——《High Heal》!”

Sei-nee used recovery magic on Myu, but the skill did not activate.

“No way… we can’t use Arts or skills?!”

“Myu-chan, use a potion! It’s【Technique Seal】!”

Myu stood up in response to Taku’s voice and on spot, she used a Mega Potion to recover her HP before facing the Manticore again.

After seeing that happen, the words【Technique Seal】reached my ears.

The armor that was a reward for the quest of defeating the giant wolf, Garm Phantom, also had a【Technique Seal】additional effect.

It appeared that the effect of this【Technique Seal】has been put on us, and at this point we have noticed that this【Sealing Room】was for sealing us, players, rather than to seal the Manticore.

I tried using bow Arts and【Enchant Arts】Sense’s enchants and curses, as well as soil magic, but none of it worked.

Sei-nee fights mainly with skills, so she was unable to join in on combat. As for me, I attacked with normal bow attacks alone.

I changed the arrows I used from normal iron-tipped ones to ones that had poisons mixed in, while trying to contribute as much as possible, I continued to think at what timing did we receive【Technique Seal】.

The highest possibility, is that it happened when the Manticore’s tail thorn pierced into the green wall and the light disappeared.

It was hard to think that this Manticore missed the attack just like that, without a reason.

“Sei-nee, stay on standby here. I will go a little forward.”

“Be careful, Yun-chan!”

Having her magic sealed and defenseless, Sei-nee has naturally been removed from the target of chain swings, so I moved a little forward, standing in between where Myu and Taku where, and where Sei-nee was.

Since Sei-nee was【Technique Seal】-ed, she switched her Senses to ones for natural MP recovery, and focused on what she can do now.

Here, the Manticore has once again cleaved with its front legs, swinging the chains connected to them.

Seeing that as I continued to shoot arrows from the middle position——

“Tch, a chain attack when we’re under【Technique Seal】, huh?! ——【Clay Shield】!”

I took a number of Magic Gems from my inventory and threw them in the direction of the incoming chains.

Even with skills sealed, items could still be used, so I activated Magic Gems as defensive measure and immediately created a three-layer soil wall.

However, the first and second were easily destroyed, only the third wall had managed to stop the attack despite being largely damaged in the front.

Also, the Manticore retained its swung in attacking position in order to keep Myu and Taku in check, who have jumped out of the chains range. From such position, it did a large swing with its thorny tail.

From its tip, once again the thorns were shot above our heads, and when this time they pierced into the wall shining with blue light, the thorns that were pierced into the wall that shone with green light have fell off.

“What is happening this time?”

I quietly mutter and watch as the blue wall flickers.

If, thorns left what we predicted to be the trigger for【Technique Seal】’s activation, the green wall, we might be able to use Arts and skills now.

Before I even relayed this, Sei-nee who stood in the back has already resumed attacking with magic.

Since we don’t know what will be sealed in case of the blue wall, I intended to continue with normal attacks but the moment I took an arrow in my hand——it disappeared from my hand as if melting.

“Wha?!”

I searched for the arrow that disappeared from my hand, but there was nothing in the surroundings, as a result my thinking completely stopped for an instant.

“Yun-chan! Enemy’s attack!”

Sei-nee who used magic from behind me, called out a warning.

By looking away for just a few moments, my【See-Through】Sense has missed the enemy’s preliminary actions.

Right after that, the Manticore leaped with strong momentum and approached right in front of me.

The chain that was connected to its neck was stretched to its limit, since I was standing barely within range of the Manticore, I was cleaved with its front leg to my side.

That moment, the protection of【Substitute Gem's Ring】that worked like a barrier in front of me, was easily broken through.

Even the【Substitute Gem's Ring】which could block even multiple fatal damage attacks based on the inserted gem, had poor effect against multi-staged hits and multiple damage types dealt all at once.

The Manticore’s sharp claws pierced into my side, and with the impact of the front leg strike I was slammed against the wall on the left side.

Receiving a piercing and blunt strikes, as well as being slammed into the wall, I received heavy damage and my consciousness faded away.

Having more than half of my HP taken in an instant, it appeared that I became unable to move due to【Stun】state that I fell into.

“Yun-oneechan!”

“Tch, Yun, wake up!”

“It’s within range of my healing. I will go!”

I can hear Myu and others’ voices in the distance.

So I was thrown out of range of both Myu’s and Sei-nee’s recovery magic? This【Sealing Room】is wider than I thought.

I thought so as my conscious was clouded with white fog, but then suddenly felt a strong light on the other side of my eyelids.

However, not only it wasn’t light of Myu’s light magic, but I also heard her panicked voice.

“Hey! He’s going to attack with a big one at this time?!”

“Yun! Escape somehow!”

“I can’t approach Yun-chan with this!”

As if responding to Myu and others’ voices, the【Stun】state started to dissolve, but when I opened my heavy eyelids, in front of me I could see a red and thick laser coming at me.

The laser was released as to mow everything in front of the Manticore. Sei-nee protected herself with multiple layers of water shield and ice wall combination; Myu and Taku leaped to the side and escape the range of the attack.

In my case, the moment I was released from【Stun】, the laser was so close to me that I was unable to use defensive magic, use items or avoid.

(“——Ahh, this is bad.”)

However, when I received the laser attack I thought I was fine. I can just revive myself with【Revival Medicine】. Why is Taku panicking so much?

“Yun!”

Then, swallowed by the burning light I lost all of my HP, and waited for the right moment to use【Revival Medicine】.

When I did, a message displayed asking for confirmation of【Revival Medicine】’s usage, but the “YES” text that should have been white, has been grayed out for some reason.

Seeing that, I realized the reason why I have lost my arrow.

Arrows are a consumable, in other words, they are categorized as tools. And so is【Revival Medicine】.

In other words, what the blue wall is sealing, are tools——【Tool Seal】is the mechanic of the blue wall.

“Myu-chan, follow up on Yun! Sei-san and I will stall this guy!”

“Got it!!”

As my field of vision grew dark, I could hear Myu and others’ sounds of combat, and sound of footsteps approaching me.

“Yun-oneechan, I will save you now!”

Myu who arrived near me, who was unable to use【Revival Medicine】, has called out to me so and chanted a single spell.

“——《Limited Revival》!”

The next moment, a bright pink light dyed my field of vision and my HP recovered from 0 to 1.

“Onee-chan, are you okay?! ——《Mega Heal》!”

Following that, Myu used a powerful single-target healing spell and recovered my HP, but since it was still not enough, she used one more to top it.

“...It’s okay, Myu. I’m fine.”

I put a hand on the wall I was slammed into as I got up, and in this situation where【Revival Medicine】cannot be used, I looked at the reason Myu could revive me. Seeing a certain item equipped on her arm I was convinced.

“——【Wisteria Peach Tree’s Ivy】, huh.”

The accessory that was a reward for the Wisteria Peach Tree-related quest, had an additional effect of【Limited Revival】, but it appeared to be related to a revival skill.

“Yup. I don’t have any revival skill yet, so I’m limited by the number of uses on it.”

On the bracelet there were four petals of wisteria peach remaining, the number of【Limited Revival】uses with this accessory has decreased to four.

“Sorry to bother you so fast right after you get up, Yun, but focus on supporting me from middle range. Myu-chan, get back to where Sei-san is and support us with magic! Sei-san, continue attacking just like that!”

Taku instructed me to switch positions with Myu, but with my stats I am unable to take attacks from the Manticore, and now that my arrows are sealed, I cannot gather more hate points than Taku with damage.

“But with that, attacks will focus on you, Taku-san! Also, Yun-oneechan’s armor is paper so she’ll get beaten in the front again!”

“It’s a positioning in case something happens! After【Technique Seal】we got【Tool Seal】, we don’t know what will be sealed next!”

While dodging the Manticore’s attacks, Taku continued to deal damage all by himself so that target does not switch to Sei-nee.

It was possible to ignore Taku’s words, but with【Technique Seal】and【Tool Seal】each blocking a method of revival, just like Myu said, it was too dangerous for Taku to stay alone in the dangerous close combat zone.

I, who have been in the middle position earlier and was beaten there, was pretty anxious on returning to that position, but at this rate the burden on Taku would become too large.

“Got it, Taku.”

Unable to use arrows with【Tool Seal】on me, I stood in middle position while remaining wary of the Manticore.

In order to fulfill the support role I was given.

“Yun-oneechan!”

“It’s alright. I will put enchants back on!《Enchant》——Attack, defense, mind!”

The Manticore has 70% HP left.

Standing behind Taku who faced the boss alone in the front, I overlap enchants on him.

In any case, not being able to use arrows for normal attacks or items for attack and recovery due to blue wall’s【Tool Seal】was pretty painful.

While I wondered what to do, the Manticore once again raised its tail and this time shot its thorns at the red wall. This time, the thorns pierced into the blue wall fell off in exchange.

“Alright, with this we can use items now! In which case, I can join in on attacking!”

At the same time the thorns pierced into the blue wall fell off, arrows in my quiver have reappeared. Not wasting time to confirm it, I nocked an arrow and shot it between the Manticore’s eyes.

The arrow flew straight just as I aimed, but right before the target, it was deflected by something.

“Whaa?!”

In order to learn what was this inexplicable barrier, I shot two, three arrows, but they were all blocked.

When Taku swung his sword, he was always deflected - the sword was parried before it reached the enemy.

“——《Aqua Bullet》! Simultaneous fire!”

“——《Sol Ray》!”

A large amount of water bullet sand a converged ray fired from behind us pierced into the Manticore, and it raised a pained roar.

“So red is【Attack Seal】that prevents direct attacks! Yun, everyone, focus on using Arts and skills! I will focus on avoidance!”

“Got it.”

I received Taku’s instructions and started using bow Arts one after another on the Manticore.

With the patterns and the connection between the Manticore’s thorns and the three colored walls, as well as their effects uncovered, the number of accidents due to lack of information has decreased and we were able to stably fight in a cycle.

What is left, is to safely defeat the Manticore.

 

 

The wall that Manticore fired its thorns at was chosen at random, and after multiple targets, this time it was the wall with【Tool Seal】.

As expected of Sense Expansion Quest’s boss, the Manticore had an abnormally large HP and we finally managed to shave off 40% of it.

Since our party of four was lacking on workforce, this battle turned quite long.

In order to shave off this much of its HP, Taku failed to dodge or parry twice and received a follow-up attack due to which he beaten. First time I revived him with【Revival Medicine】, the second time Myu got him up with【Limited Revival】.

And when we further cut the Manticore’s HP and the moment the remaining amount fell below 30%——

『“GUOOOOOOOO——”』

It stood on its rear legs, turned in the direction of the ceiling and roared.

Immediately after, the speed of front pawns swung at Taku has increased and the sound of them cutting through the air has become more fierce.

“He entered enraged mode! From here on we’re taking him down as fast as possible!”

“Roger! ——《Aqua Bullet》!”

“——《Sol Ray》!”

Sei-nee and Myu responded to Taku’s words, and I wondered whether I should join in on attack with my weak earth magic, but then the Manticore started to gather red light in the back of its throat.

“That attack is coming again!”

Seeing the same color as there was when I received【Stun】earlier, I had a bad feeling and suddenly started running in the opposite direction of where Manticore was facing.

“Hey, Yun! Don’t go there!”

“No Taku, why are you going in that direction?!”

While I moved to escape from the Manticore’s range, Taku closed the distance to the Manticore all at once.

And the Manticore released the gathered light as a laser, moving its head as to sweep from the right to left.

Taku slid on the floor and passed right under the Manticore’s torso, slipping into an area completely out of range of the laser.

Myu and Sei-nee cooperated together and created a multiple-layered defense, resisting the laser.

“This is the safest zone! Come in here, too, Yun!”

“If there’s a next time!”

From there, Taku one-sidedly attacked the Manticore that continued the attacking motion, but I have been escaping from the laser that chased after me and focused on running.

Still, the speed of laser’s trajectory moving was faster and I decided that I’m unable to escape from the fan-shaped range of the attack and turned around on spot.

“Ah damn, screw this!《Clay Shield》《Enchant》——Speed!”

Facing the incoming laser I created a slanted clay wall as large as to reach my head, increased my own speed with an enchant and started running on it.

And then I used it as a jumping platform, leaping over the Manticore’s head into its back.

The laser passed right under my chest and while I felt the heat on my skin, I was able to safely land and rolled on the ground.

“No way, Yun-chan did a Western roll dodge?!”

“Yun-oneechan used flat chest avoidance?!”

“Hey, Myu and Sei-nee, you sure look like you’ve got time to spare, don’t you?”

I stared down the two who looked at me with surprise, then turned my sight toward the Manticore who finished its attack.

The Manticore in enraged mode turned its thorny tail in our direction.

I tried to check which wall will it strike this time and turned my attention away for just an instant, which resulted in my【See-Through】Sense reacting late.

“?!! ——《Clay Shield》! This time he’s aiming straight for players?!”

The tail that was only used for switching seals up until now, started aiming directly for players.

I acted with prejudice, if it wasn’t【Tool Seal】but【Technique Seal】that was currently active, I would have been unable to defend myself, I thought a little late, covered in cold sweat.

Making us feel fear in regards to what attack will come next even at this stage, the Manticore faced Taku frontally.

The Manticore swung its front paws, as thick as logs, which Taku parried with his sword after which Taku attacked the opening that was created with that. This action repeated.

“This got me really tired. My arms’ have gotten heavy.”

“Taku, are you alright?!”

“This much is nothing!”

In a situation where a single strike takes away a big chunk of his HP, Taku continued to parry attacks almost perfectly, but at some point, the chain plucked from the wall has captured Taku’s left leg.

“——?!! Damn!”

Taku tried to parry the following second strike with his twin longswords, but due to his left leg being restricted, he was unable to parry it perfectly.

“My sword, ghh?!”

The right sword that failed in parrying was deflected away and pierced into the floor behind Taku.

That moment, the Manticore swung its paw along with the chain still entangled with Taku’s left leg, and slammed Taku into the floor.

In such state, where a follow-up attack will make Taku once again unable to fight, the Manticore raised its tail and shot thorns at the red wall.

“Yun-chan, please heal Taku-kun!”

I received the orders that Sei-nee gave instead of Taku, recovered Taku’s sword which was deflected and rushed to Taku using the closest possible route.

When I confirmed Taku’s state as he lied on the floor, it appeared that he lost 80% of his HP and was in【Stun】state.

Right now we were under【Attack Seal】state, so I could use tools. Without hesitation I used a Mega Potion and bad status recovery potion on Taku to let him return to combat, but——

“This is bad! Myu, Sei-nee! Run!”

When I was trying to recover Taku’s HP, once again red light started to gather in the back of the Manticore’s throat.

I moved behind Taku’s back and put my arm around his waist to raise him up, then dragged him under the Manticore, moving under it like Taku has earlier - somehow managing to escape under its jaw.

It appears that this time the laser did not sweep from one side to another, but aimed only straight at the rear guard. Sei-nee’s and Myu’s multiple-layered defense isn’t anywhere near enough to withstand it.

However, Myu moved in front of Sei-nee and drank an MP Pot, preparing for casting a spell.

“If he’s using a laser, then I will take it on with a converged ray of light!”

“You can do it, Myu-chan! But, just in case I will prepare defense.”

Sei-nee said and raised her staff, starting to prepare multiple-layered defense. Myu prepared multiple《Sol Ray》’s behind herself, and in front of her appeared something like a lens made with particles of light.

And when the light accumulated by the Manticore has reached the limit——

“——《Converged Ray》!”

Myu has released her an extremely thick condensed ray made of multiple《Sol Rays》, which was just as powerful as the laser released by the Manticore, and the two rays clashed against one another.

While the two’s light rays clashed against another, it was too dazzling for me and I was unable to open my eyes.

But before long, I sensed that Myu’s converged ray started being pushed and put my hand on the ground before shouting.

“Stop hurting my eyes already! ——《Clay Shield》!”

I made a wall of soil appear from the safe space under the Manticore’s jaw, which clashed onto its head and pushed it up resulting in the Manticore ending up closing its mouth.

I succeeded in forcefully closing the Manticore’s mouth, due to which the laser that was supposed to flow outside, started rampaging inside its mouth. As flames spilled from between its clenched teeth, the inside of its mouth exploded.

There, as if to top it off, Myu’s converged ray reached the Manticore, swallowing up its head.

“——GOOoooo!”

The upper part of the clay wall that I created was broken and crumbled by the explosion from inside the Manticore’s mouth and Myu’s converged light. In order to protect myself from the remnants of the wall, I remained on low on the floor.

“That was dangerouss. I didn’t think that I would get attacked by what I made myself..."

“Yun-oneechan, it’s dangerous to stay in a place like that! If you fall under that Manticore it will be hard to revive you!”

Smiling wryly at Myu’s words, I realized that I was unable to find Taku who had come to the safe spot together with me and that his longsword that I recovered were gone.

“Taku isn’t“——《Cross Execution》!”?!!”

Here, is what I tried to say when I heard Taku’s voice from above, and the Manticore above me let out a scream like it was in pain, then started to writhe.

Feeling in danger staying where I was, I rushed out from there and when I turned around to look up at the Manticore, I saw Taku who has jumped on its back and that its tail was cut off.

“Taku, you okay?!”

“Yeah, when I recovered from【Stun】I was under this guy, so before I was noticed I moved behind him. Then I got up on his back and cut off his tail.”

Taku grinned, but then the Manticore had returned to itself from the pain and started to rampage in order to knock Taku off from its back, making him get off involuntarily.

However, since the Manticore was unable to shoot thorns any more, the mechanism on the wall could no longer be activated.

Is what I thought, but the cut-off tail did not turn into particles of light and disappear, making me feel suspicious.

And then, the cut-off tail suddenly started to let out a disturbing sound as it continued to create thorns before eventually starting to swell on its entire length.

“Everyone, defend! ——【Clay Shield】!”

At the same time the tail exploded, the countless thorns hurt not only us but also the Manticore itself.

I endured it together with Taku behind the walls created by Magic Gems. Myu and Sei-nee used the multiple-layered defensive magic prepared for protecting against the laser to block the thorns.

“Ahhh, I didn’t think that cutting off the tail that is key to the mechanism would result in explosion.”

Taku muttered and looked at the barrage of thorns that pierced into the surroundings.

Thorns that hit the surroundings assaulted not only us, but also hit the walls surrounding us and activated all three seals.

In such situation, the Manticore stood up, all covered in wounds.

“Everything was sealed! Everyone, focus on avoidance! Spread!”

As Taku called out, the two of us leaped out from behind the soil wall right after which, the Manticore smashed its front paws into it.

Myu and Sei-nee too have started running to avoid, zig-zagging between the thorns on the ground that became obstacles.

In order to aim for us, the Manticore swung its legs around and destroyed the thorn obstacles in the surroundings, and swung chains in order to attack Myu and Sei-nee who were in the distance.

“Kyaa?!”

A shattered piece of thorn hit Sei-nee, then further she received a wind wave caused by the flailed chains, as a result of which she fell on her butt. That moment, the swung front paw attempted to capture her. However, Taku who ran on the opposite side of me has scooped Sei-nee up on his shoulder and avoided the attack.

“Hey, Taku-kun! This posture, it’s embarrassing!”

“Bear with it, Sei-san!”

In order to hold Sei-nee, Taku has sheathed his right longsword and with just the longsword in his left hand he shattered the thorns standing in his way.

“Ghh, this is quite harsh.”

“Taku-kun!”

“It’s alright. More importantly, make sure not to bite your tongue!”

Taku continued running while carrying Sei-nee, but he still received damage.

Having the ways to fight back and to recover sealed, we single-mindedly ran away and waited for an opportunity to come.

And then, the seal walls started to flicker, the intervals between flickers gradually grew shorter.

Preparing for the moment, we raised our weapons.

And when the seals have been released——

“Taku-san, a laser is coming!”

The Manticore started gathering light in the back of its throat.

As expected of enraged mode, it continues to use big moves one after another. I thought impressed, but before it released its laser we released our own attacks.

“——《Bow Skill - Single Stitch》!”

“——《Maelstrom》!”

I released an arrow right away, Myu closed the distance between her and the Manticore and slashed it.

And Sei-nee created huge balls of whirling water around its head as to imprison it.

“——《Power Wave》!”

With its head enveloped by the water which entered inside through the mouth and nose, invading its throat, the Manticore became unable to gather the red light and rampaging wildly, swinging its arms.

I took distance from the Manticore and continued to shoot Arts non-stop. Myu moved lightly around, avoiding attacks of the Manticore that had a hard time aiming.

As for Taku——

“Yun, give me max support!”

“Got it!《Enchant》——Attack, speed!《Element Enchant》——Weapon!”

Taku poised his two longswords and approached the Manticore.

As it had its head enveloped by a water ball and exhaling bubbles of air, it swung its front legs around, which Taku deflected two, three times, letting out loud sounds.

Having its HP shaved off gradually by asphyxiation, the Manticore’s eyes inside the water ball captured Taku’s appearance and it stood up on its rear legs and raised its front paws high up.

As it swung its front paws to crush Taku, he faced it with his highest firepower.

“Let’s make the finale a flashy one——《Sharp Edge》《Resonant Swords》!”

It must be a sword-type support skill? I assume the first one was a self-reinforcement type skill, but the second skill is what left me with eyes wide open.

His two longswords started resonating and a thin vibration wave started going back and forth between them.

And when Manticore’s paws were swung down, Taku swung one of his swords up, cutting off the Manticore’s paw below ankle.

And for the second leg he did the same, cutting off a paw with resonating sword.

As both paws hit the ground, letting out a muffled sound, Taku swung his sharp resonating blades and delivered the finishing blow.

“Let’s try the Art that deals more damage the closer the enemy is to dying——《Deathbringer》!”

Blades dyed with black color passed through the large body, shaving off the Manticore’s remaining HP.

Taku’s final attack reinforced by multiple skills and Arts brought about the Manticore’s death, and the end of the quest.

 

——Special Quest【Sense Expansion - Three Trials】has been completed.

 

While watching the piece of information appear and the Manticore turning into particles of light, we let ourselves be enveloped by sense of accomplishment from the quest, and tiredness.

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