A few days after receiving 【Eight Million Gods】 style resistance leveling from Mikadzuchi I examined the effects of the recovery amount limitation caused by the acquisition of large amounts of SP. To do so I used the potions and other healing items I had on hand.
As a result, I found out that the recovery amount was lowered for one type of potion and pill each. Moreover, there was no change to pill derivations such as the strengthening Boost Tablets.
Although the amount of HP recovered by Blue Potions didn't decrease because of the SP's recovery limit, the amount they recovered was at most as much as a Degraded High Potion.
And so, by the time I reach High Potion's recovery limit I need to make a Blue Potion that's as good as a High Potion. Deciding that I borrowed 【Eight Million Gods'】 crafting room but...
"I knew it, it's no different from the usual high quality bluepots."
"How about you give it up already? It's good enough as is. Let's have some tea instead, okay?"
While saying that, Otonashi passed a needle through beads he was working with.
"I'll be drinking coffee, what about you two? Is black tea fine?"
Langley stretched his back and his arm, then drank the cold tea beside him all at once before brewing a new one.
"Black tea then. With the recipes I have on me, there's nothing I can make to replace highpots."
I've started deciphering the 【Folk Medicine Encyclopaedia】 that I received as a raid quest's reward, but there it wasn't there.
"Then, how about aiming for higher version of basic potion?"
"Well, let's see. The potion above High Potion huh. I would have to start by looking for the recipe, then create prototype, stabilize the effect and then devise how to supply it at low cost. It's a long road."
Haa, I sighed. Let's start by collecting information first. I thought and started sipped the tea I received from Langley.
Since it brewed for a little too long it was bitter, which reminded me of the tea in Cloude's 【Commonest Café & Clothier】.
"All right, I'll be going to the library for a while."
"Yap, hope you find something good."
I brought Ryui and Zakuro with me and left 【Eight Million Gods'】 guild home and headed to the library.
Still, since I was unable to bring them inside I had them wait in the space behind library and started searching for a book that could have the higher level potion I wanted.
"So there's nothing after all. I quickly looked through these, but if there's nothing in here it means I have to either acquire information from a quest, or continue trying in blind."
It might have been a bad idea to search for the higher level potion without knowing it's name in the first place, but that couldn't be helped.
"Haa, let's give up for now and do some accessory adjustment instead."
I was currently in the middle of crafting accessories for Myu, and for Sei-nee who has invited us to have a change of pace in 【Eight Million Gods'】.
The plan was to pass the previously made 【Blue and Silver Mystic Ring】 to Sei-nee after adjustment. And I wanted to give Myu bead accessory for which I was in middle of researching, with trial and error method.
Beads accessories could be made anywhere as long as you had beads, Metallic Thread and a needle so today, I decided to work leisurely on the bench in the resting place behind the library, together with Ryui and Zakuro.
"Now, let's continue where we left off."
I took out a special case with beads while making sure they don't spill out, inside there were milky glass and silver beads.
While staying in the 【Eight Million Gods】 guild I researched making bead accessories together with Otonashi and Langley. We confirmed that the glass beads change hue depending on the material added to the 【Crystal Sand】.
Even the shade could be changed accordingly to the metal powder's amount and type added. These milky beads were made by mixing 【Phosphorous Soul Ore】 from Will o' Wisps and 【Crystal Sand】.
In the centre of the bracelet there was a conspicuously large pedestal. And, by matching small beads I made the large part by using several of them.
The bracelet wasn't one that inhibited movements by jingling around but rather a strong one with a relatively simple design.
On the inner line I put the milky white beads and on the outer lines I put the silver beads.
I continued to work on it fully focused, then finally for the last part I tied hooks with metal thread so that it doesn't come off. After adding the hook part that made the bracelet easy to remove I fitted a polished aquamarine jewel on the pedestal, completing it for the time being.
Snow White Bracelet 【Accessory】 (Weight:1)
The finished accessory was meant for Myu.
Both of them were prototypes and since I found out that I could attach three additional effects to them I've been looking into choosing those...
"I don't have any good strengthening materials."
"What is it that you don't have?"
"Woah?!! That surprised me! Heck, it's Cloude?!"
As I nearly slide off the bench I held down Zakuro who was sitting on my knees.
When I looked back I saw Cloude, he had his Lucky Cat partner, Socks on his shoulders and was looking at my hands. I didn't notice him at all.
"It's been a while."
"You're right. I did meet with Magi-san, but there was no opportunity to meet you and Lyly. Is he doing okay?"
"We often go for a hunt together and do crafting lectures. Lyly is also worried that you don't show yourself around."
"Um, sorry about that."
These days I've been mostly hanging around in the 【Eight Million Gods】 guild home. I only picked up the minimum of necessary materials from the 【Atelier】 and supplemented the merchandise in the store and for consignment.
"There's something going on right?"
I looked downwards and pat Zakuro who was on top of my knees.
Matching that I also rubbed Cloude's Socks who jumped off his shoulder and onto the bench, in response he let out a purr.
After a moment of silence I explained to Cloude that I'm under 【Eight Million Gods'】 care for some time.
"Mm. So since you've exhausted your spirit you're trying a different stimulus to get back motivation, huh."
"Sorry to make you worry."
"Well, as long as you're doing all right. Still, to think there was an inside-body dungeon in the highlands area's giant mob. Anyway, it seems like you didn't disappear like you did before because you found involving yourself with others a bother so it's all right. Moreover, you found something to stimulate you, too."
Saying so, Cloude squat down on the ground and picked something up.
It was a single bead that spilled out of the case when I nearly fell off the bench.
"I've been looking, it seems like you're working with beads. Isn't bead and Metallic Thread combination give poor sensation on the skin? If you sew on the more flexible and tough [Silky Spider's Thread] it will feel better and it would be a good accent."
As a top tailor, Cloude came up with a method of handling beads immediately. In addition to having an idea much better than those of 【Eight Million Gods'】 tailors, he even presented a method of improving it.
"You showed me something good today."
With that said, Socks climbed back onto Cloude's shoulder and they headed home. I've seen them off until they disappeared.
After that on another day, I saw masterpieces decorated with beads arranged in the showcase at 【Commonest Café & Clothier】 and was astounded, but that's a story for another time.
"Now then, let's go back."
I said and started walking towards 【Eight Million Gods'】 home.
And when I opened the guild hall's door, an atmosphere different from the usual had come into my sight.
"C'mon, outta way! Gather together as parties not to be a hindrance." "Bring back souvenirs, kaay." "Got it. We'll gather some materials there, I leave the rest to you." "It's my first time going there, is that okay?" "I've been there together with the advance team, it's an interesting place. Well, you're going now so look forward to it."
The noisy roster of players gathered were the core of the 【Eight Million Gods】, top and medium-leveled players as well as some crafters mixed in between them.
What on earth is happening for this many people to gather at the same time, I wondered surprised but the commotion had continued regardless. That's when Sei-nee had started giving out instructions to several guild members.
"Mm. So preparations are complete. Well then, once Mikadzuchi gives instructions you just move through the portal. Also, for people who can't use the portal – Mikadzuchi and I will cooperate to help you reach and register it."
She seemed busy so it's better that I don't disturb her now. I thought and took step backwards, bumping into someone.
"Woops, I'm sorry. Ah, Mikadzuchi?"
"What about you, Missy, if you don't prepare quickly we'll leave you behind y'know?"
"Leave me behind? What do you mean, are you going somewhere?"
Not understanding the situation I was told to go into another place by Mikadzuchi, in there I saw Myu's party, Otonashi and Langley gathered together.
"Onee-chan! Really, we were waiting!"
"My-Myu, I can't breathe..."
After spotting me Myu embraced my neck tightly and Lucato with the rest of the party stared at it, used to this happening. Also, keeping moderate distance from everyone were Otonashi and Langley.
"Right, tell me, what's this gathering?"
"Eh? Didn't you hear about it from Sei-oneechan and Mikadzuchi?"
"No, nothing at all..."
I didn't speak with Sei-nee and in Mikadzuchi's case, she either forgot or possibly thought it would be more interesting not to tell me.
And, Mikadzuchi in question had raised her voice from the stairs that were in the centre of the hall.
"The guild's elite! Well done gathering here today! Starting today, just as planned, we are going to thoroughly complete the content on the frontline area as we have been planning for some time, let us depart! For a week from now on we are going to uncover the front lines at our full power! Well then——expedition, head out!"
Expedition, I muttered and at the same time Mikadzuchi's speech ended. The guild hall was filled with cheers and everyone started moving, one after another.
Then Mikadzuchi and Sei-nee joined us where we gathered...
"All right, we should be going too!"
"No, wait, what 'going', it's my first time hearing about it. And what's that expedition..."
"Fufufu, you see, we're expeditioning to the summit of the Volcanic Area!"
Sei-nee smiled seeming to have fun but personally, I was disappointed hearing it's mountains again.
"Well then, go on, have fun——"You're going too, Missy."——So that was it."
"It's all right Missy, there's a place you'll definitely like. ...but actually, it's part of a dangerous zone though."
"Wait, Mikadzuchi. What did you say for the second part?!"
I've heard that. What "dangerous zone", where the hell are you bringing me. I wanted to say in protest, but before I could I was dragged away by Myu who was still clinging onto me and Mikadzuchi.
Ryui and Zakuro followed right after us.
"This group still hasn't registered the portal in the Volcanic Area so we'll head there quickly to catch up to the group preceding us."
"Haa, fine, whatever happens, happens."
I sighed deeply and decided to accompany Mikadzuchi and others in conquering the frontline Volcanic Area.
Although apparently there is a place to my liking there, it was a frontline Volcanic Area. If possible I would like to avoid entering an area where I'll kick the bucket from a mere scratch, thinking like that I didn't enter it before.
Not too long after that we have reached the entrance to the Volcanic Area.
"Ha ha ha, that was a quick arrival."
As the dry laughter spilled beside me, a reddish-brown mountain with cracked surface has spread out in front of us.
On the ground there were black spots flashing with red repeatedly because of lava and volcanic gases blowing out from the below to turn into pillars of fire.
"Now, let's go."
"Seriously? Let me rest a moment."
"C'mon Onee-chan, do your best!"
Having my back slapped lightly by Myu I raised my sight from the ground below us.
We walked quite a distance to reach here.
Once we passed through the Mine Dungeon nearby the Third Town and slipped by the place half-spider Arachne mobs spawned, we ended up in this Volcanic Area.
At the entrance to the Volcanic Area there was the portal's safety area where the preceding guild members have been taking a break.
Passing beside those guild members, with Mikadzuchi in the front our succeeding group has proceeded forward after her to the top of the mountain.
"Go forth. ——《Ice Lance》"
"I won't lose, Sei-oneechan! ——《Fifth Breaker》!"
"Aren't you energetic, haa!"
"No, you're all too energetic."
Enemy mobs have climbed up and attacked us in groups.
Since they were active mobs, any mobs that could perceive us have come rushing at us for no reason. Myu, Sei-nee, Mikadzuchi and others have dealt with them one after another.
With every party fighting separately and positioning themselves there were no problems with joint struggle penalty and we smoothly climbed upwards.
"Aaa-ah, I have so few chances to enter combat that I feel bad for it. Feels like I'm being escorted."
"You're a crafter so this is normal. ——《Aqua Bullet》"
"If you're free then gather items! We're investigating all the resources in the area!"
Sei-nee fired water bullets and ice lances one after another, Mikadzuchi yelled as she beat down the incoming enemies with the stick.
A bear-type mob with lava on its back who spits out flames, the Magma Bear.
A moth-type mob who spread out metal powder and sparks to generate dust explosions, the Dust Moth. The group mob that had multiple caterpillar bodies with mottled patterns, Dust Eater.
Taking those on we moved forward.
"They're really something to cope with those attacks."
"Isn't it just the case of getting used to it?"
Lucato responded to my question. Ahead of our lines of sight there was Myu and Mikadzuchi swinging their weapons in the vanguard.
Faced with the Magma Bear, Mikadzuchi didn't move back even a single step as she continued to exchange blows with it. Myu avoided dust explosions occurring one after another in mid-air and at the same time, she cut down Dust Eaters below with her sword and shot down Dust Moths with light magic.
Just as told to by Mikadzuchi, I did my best recovering items together with the crafters from the same group.
Otonashi and Langley gathered and dug up with a pickaxe the few collecting points there were in the barren earth, I also swung my Black Iron Pickaxe on the hard mining points.
And by the time we have finished gathering up the ore, and rough gemstones from the mining points, the enemy mobs around us were nearly wiped out.
"We're done here. Yun-oneechan, how is it over there?"
"About done now. Rather, I don't know anything about this area, could you explain properly for once?"
After combat and item gathering was over I asked Mikadzuchi as we climbed a mountain path of the Volcanic Area.
"Let's see. This is one of the frontline areas, the Volcanic Area. The Highlands Area you found Missy is the unexplored frontline area to the North. Other than that there are mountain and forest area's to the East and a wasteland area to the south."
Considering the peaky strength Lightning Horse from the northern highlands area has, it could be said that it's the Northern frontline.
"So, what kind of thing are here in this Volcanic Area?"
"Hmm. According to the advance party there's a secret door here."
"Ohh, sounds interesting! Let's head straight there! We'll get there faster and we won't have to climb this convoluted mountain road!"
Saying so, Myu was about to break into a run but Sei-nee and I held her shoulders stopping her. Following that, Mikadzuchi said why is she hesitant to climb directly.
"You can try taking the direct route, but it's a slope with footing of gravel and pebbles that make it easy to slip. Also, you'll have to avoid heat traps and volcanic gas traps that are around there as you combat fire-resistant enemy mobs. So, how about it?"
"All right! Let's get over with this mountain road!"
This time, Myu rushed up the mountain road and Lucato with others have started chasing after her.
"Then, what are special characteristics of this area?"
"Let's see. There are multiple man-made facilities around here. Also, look, a stone egg landmark over there."
Ahead of where Mikadzuchi pointed there was a rock on a pedestal that was twice as tall as a human. Myu ran up on top of it and seemed to have been looking around from above.
"Ohh, so high!"
"Myu-san! It's dangerous so please come down!
"Ahahaha, that's just like you Myu-chan. I'll climb on it later too!"
Lucato panicked all alone. Beside the rock Toutobi wondered what's the meaning of that object, there was also Rirei and Kohaku there.
And, Sei-nee explained regarding that meaning.
"There should be a key in there. To enter the dungeon at the eight station you need a key item called 【Demonfolk Gatekeeper's Key】, they exist scattered around this Volcanic Area, but it seems not here.."
After listening to Sei-nee's explanation Myu jumped off the stone egg to look into a gap between the stone egg and the pedestal.
"When the key item 【Demonfolk Gatekeeper's Key】 is either used or carried outside the area in someone's possession it will disappear and reappear in its original location."
"Hee, that sounds interesting. It might be my first time encountering a locked dungeon."
Once we caught up I looked sideways into the cavity the key was in.
Sei-nee's commentary had tickled my fancy a little. For a while after we proceeded through empty space, but the further up we went the air had grown hotter and several of us have started feeling discomfort.
"Soo hooot. Yun-oneechan, are you okay?"
"I'm fine, but what about you, Myu?"
"Hmm. It's a little too harsh. Ah, Onee-chan's Ryui is so cool."
The volcano's heat, the high temperatures had been dealing environment damage to players bit by bit starting with the players with lowest DEF and fire resistance.
As for me, I could withstand this heat thanks to accustoming myself to it when I was working on accessories with 【Craftsmanship】.
My partner Zakuro had a high compatibility with fire element since he used fox fire and seemed to be doing all right. As for Ryui, since he could use water element his body let out a cool air and he seemed totally calm.
And, around him——
"Haa, such refreshing air coming from Ryui——"
"Certainly, it's cool."
"Oasis in the middle of a desert."
The players with no resistance gathered, cooled off and moved away. Although a little irritated by that, Ryui walked beside me with Zakuro on top of him.
Once we neared to a depression we have seen for a while, Mikadzuchi pointed with her finger.
"This is the fourth station's* 【Sweltering Oil Pond】!"
Beside the mountain road there was a gouge in the mountain, a liquid accumulated inside it.
The flashing red light from the blinking ground had been reflected on the highly transparent oil surface.
When I approached, a pebble from under my feet fell into the pond and sunk in the a way specific to viscous oil.
"Hee, so there are things like these too."
I approached the 【Sweltering Oil Pond】 then using scoop and funnel for collecting I poured the oil into a container.
After acquiring several bottles of 【Volcanic Zone's Sweltering Oil】 I moved away from the reservoir in order to check up on the material.
"Hmm, it's different from edible oil, I guess it's mineral oil. In which case, it can't be used for 【Cooking】 or 【Mixing】. Maybe I can use it as quenching agent instead of water for 【Craftsmanship】. For silver equipment that doesn't require hardness and sharpness, especially when it's for use with magic it might be better to cool it off with the oil rather than 【Water of Life】..."
I muttered to myself as I investigated the materials in my hands, and when I raised my head I saw everyone stare at me with lukewarm gazes.
"W-what is it? Is there anything on my head?"
"No, you sure are a crafter, is what we thought."
Told so by Mikadzuchi I looked at others and saw Otonashi and Langley hold bottles of 【Volcanic Zone's Sweltering Oil】 in the same way as me.
Both of them were studying it just like I did.
"Ahh, well um, sorry."
"It's just a crafter's nature. Anyway, we've come this far, how about a small sideshow."
"Yep, a little lesson to make sure you don't end up forget yourself and about security and take things lightly."
I furrowed my eyebrows puzzled, but Myu's eyes shone with curiosity.
Seeing our reactions Mikadzuchi grinned fearlessly and fired a long-range art at a Magma Bear that just respawned, pulling it.
It was a bear who let out flames from his back. And, there was a pool with oil nearby.
This combination gave me a really, really bad feeling.
"Yes yes. Everyone get back, okay? ——《Ice Shield》"
A highly transparent wall of ice has separated us from the oil pond.
And, on the other side of it there was Mikadzuchi, fending off Magma Bear's attacks. She let out a knock-back art to push the Magma Bear into the oil pond behind it.
Immediately after that, the Magma Bear's fire had crawled over the surface of the oil pond.
In a split second the Magma Bear was enveloped by a fire lake, burned by inferno more intense than the fire he was burned in he struggled.
"And so, be careful so that this doesn't happen to you, don't approach the oil pond carelessly.
"Woahh! Truly a sea of flames. He got ultra-well done!"
Myu looked at it completely careless, and in contrast to that, I lost my voice.
Every time the Magma Bear flailed its limbs struggling in the oil pond, oil turned-fireballs scattered in all direction.
If not for Sei-nee's wall of ice, it would be a dangerous situation.
The Magma Bear's gradually sunk into the flames, his body scorched, in the end only his foreleg reached out from the oil pond and towards the heaven.
That's when someone nearby said "I'll be back", I didn't miss hearing that.
Mikadzuchi called out to us, who were looking at this scene agape.
"Next time you're getting close to it make sure to do a safety check. Also, there's a 【Demonfolk Gatekeeper's Key】 in that oil pond but 【Eight Million Gods】 members seem to have collected it earlier."
"Hey hey. What about that flame? Will it continue to burn like that?"
Myu pointed at the oil pond that was still in flames.
"It's all right, it'll stop after a while. Well, if you handle collection poorly it turns into a trap, I wanted to show you that as soon as possible."
"Um, Yun-chan, are you all right?"
"Yeah, just a little surprised and at loss for words."
"Was that too much a shock?"
"No, I'm just glad that I was careful when I was collecting it."
I answered so to Sei-nee and Mikadzuchi who looked worried, but it didn't seem like I could move right away.
I covered my face with my hands and massaged it to fix my stiff expression.
Meanwhile, Ryui and Zakuro snuggled up to me and looked at me worried, I enjoyed their fluffiness to recover my energy.
"I'm all right now."
"I see. Well, a little further and we'll be in safety area. We'll rest there."
And so, we have continued to climb up.
Once we approached the vicinity of the Volcanic Area's sixth station we noticed white smoke coming from the mountain.
A strange space has been built on the blazing volcano.
Mainly, because there was an exemplary relaxation facility in it.
In the safety area on the middle of the mountain there was a gigantic rock buried in the ground, roughly cut out in it there was a basin.
Stored inside of it there was hot water being blown out from the mountain's slope——turning into hot springs.
Beside it, in the back of the hot spring's basin there was a building. It felt like a true private hot spring in a volcanic region.
"Wow, it's pure white with steam. Is this really a hot spring?"
"It's a rest area made in a form of a hot spring. If you use it you will receive SPEED bonus for a certain amount of time. Inside the building in the back there are open-air baths for men and women, feel free to go in."
"Looks like a great reward for getting this far."
I said and walked towards the men's bath entrance marked with blue curtain.
『"——Entering prohibited. You do not have authority to enter."』
"Hey hey, Missy. That's men's bath. The one beside it is for women."
Mikadzuchi pointed at the red curtain marking women's bath...
As if I'd enter women's bathh!! Heck! Why the hell can't I enter men's?! I'm a man!
While I screamed inside my mind, Lucato and others commented happily as they entered the women's bath. Gradually the number of people outside has decreased.
"Not going to enter, Missy?"
"Ah, eh, um..."
Just a moment earlier I was eager to enter, I need a reason to refuse... I thought and my gaze wandered to Ryui and Zakuro.
"I-I have the young beasts, Ryui and Zakuro, right?! I mean, since we can't go in together we'll just have a footbath in there."
I said and pointed at the hot spring cut out in stone.
"That so? Well, I won't force you."
"Well then, Yun-oneechan. We'll be going in the hot spring inside!"
"Yun-chan, see you later."
Saying so, the women group entered the dressing room.
The remaining male players were...
"I'm not really interested in hot springs so I"ll be going to hunt some mobs meanwhile." "In that case, we'll go do some gathering outside." "We leave escorting us to you. And, we'll be back after a while."
Saying things like that, other than a small number of male players who entered the men's hot spring everyone had started searching the surroundings without taking a break.
Nestled together with the two young beasts in front of the hot spring I've seen them off and put my hand in the cloudy water from the hot spring's edge.
"Hmm, the temperature is a little too high I guess."
I said, then took off my boots and jacket, stowing them in the inventory. I sat down on the edge of the basin and slowly sank my legs inside the hot spring.
"Ahh, it's not so deep which makes it great for a footbath. I love this scenery with this kind of charm."
As I muttered, Zakuro who was by my side had jumped into the hot water.
The Fur on his entire body absorbed hot water, he put his head on the edge of the basin and squinted comfortably, his body floating on the water.
Seeing his normally fluffy body turn slim I broke into laughter.
On the other hand, Ryui drank the hot spring water with composure.
Is it all right to drink it? I worried, but it didn't seem like there's any problem.
"Phew, it feels great."
I lightly moved my feet inside the footbath to mix the hot water.
The movement of my feet had caused small waves that caused Zakuro's submerged body to sway in the water.
"Come to think of it, I've acquired a lot of eggs lately. I wonder if I can make hot spring eggs."
The crack from which the hot spring is blowing out is steaming strongly and looks like the water has high temperature.
"Woah! It should work well for making hot spring eggs."
I took out a large basket from inventory and inside I put in Cockatrice Eggs I acquired in the Highlands Area, then sank it where the spring water was falling into.
To make it easier to recover I tied a rope I can use to pull it out later.
While I was doing that my feet have cooled down a little so I returned to where Ryui and Zakuro were and once again sank my feet into the footbath.
"Haa, I look forward to those hot spring eggs. I'll share some of them with Myu and others since there's too many for me to eat."
My voice echoed in the surroundings as I muttered, but it was drown out in the sound of water flowing into the hot spring. And once it quietened down I recalled.
"...Myu, Sei-nee and others are inside the hot spring."
I couldn't hear anything from inside the dressing room and the open-air bath in the back, probably it was made so that no sound leaks out to prevent peeping and eavesdropping, but inside that building——or to be precise in the open-air bath on the other side, everyone must have taken off their equipment and were immersing themselves in the hot spring.
"...do they go in naked?"
It was too quiet, which instead made me imagine it.
Myu, Lucato and others, also Sei-nee, Mikadzuchi and their 【Eight Million Gods】 female members must be completely defenceless inside there, I imagined and... didn't get aroused in the least.
"Eh? That's strange. I'm a healthy male, I should be more excited by this..."
Holding inner corners of my eyes and started thinking, but I could only image how Myu and Hino are playing around in the bath, Rirei is trying to touch other women's bodies with Kohaku stopping her. Lucato and Sei-nee look at it with troubled expressions and Toutobi is acting flustered. Meanwhile I imagined a scene with Mikadzuchi bringing liquor to the bathtub. It was a noisy scene without a speckle of eroticism.
The time passed as I was thinking and then I heard sound of footsteps coming from the hot spring's dressing room direction.
"Phew, the water was great. What about you, Sei-oneechan?"
"It was a bit too rowdy, I'm sure it would be great around midnight with less people in it."
"We kept you waiting, Missy!"
I turned around with my legs still immersed in the footbath and saw Myu and others come out of the dressing room.
Their hair was still moist and it seemed like they felt it was too hot as they slightly loosened clothing near their chests. Since it was completely different from how they usually wore their clothes it looked sexy, making me avert my gaze in panic.
"I-I see. So, how was it inside?"
"It was wide and comfortable. You should have come in with us."
"D-dumbass! As if I would!"
Myu clung onto my back and whispered into my ear so I answered reflexively. I don't know if it was because of the hot spring or embarrassment, but my face burned hot.
"Ahahaha, Onee-chan's blushing! It's all right, you can wear swimsuits inside. And if you don't have one, you're forcibly equipped with a bath towel. What, did you imagine something perverted?"
"W-w-w-wha...! You were teasing me?!"
"Kyaa, Yun-oneechan got angry!"
Nifufufu, Myu teased me making me respond angrily. However, Myu escaped and ran over to Lucato and others who were leaving the hot spring's dressing room.
Haa, good grief... I heaved a sigh and pulled out my feet from the hot water with one strong move, standing up.
"You took a break at hot springs but you didn't recover satiety, have you. I made something while you were in the bath, everyone have some."
I pulled out the basket with hot spring eggs I had hung earlier, took out enough eggs for myself, Ryui and Zakuro then passed the rest to Mikadzuchi and others.
Once the heat has faded a little I split one egg open to check, white part was firm and the yolk was soft-boiled, it could be said it had a passing mark.
Cockatrice Hot Spring Egg 【Cuisine】
Satiety+20% Additional Effect: ATK+8/60min
I looked at the item's status as I peeled eggs from the shell and passed them to Ryui and Zakuro.
"Hey, Sei. Isn't Missy's girl power higher than ours? She's attentive, good at cooking and caring for others. No wonder she's called 【Nanny】."
"That's true, Yun-chan's skilled with housework and is caring, so girl power-wise... well, it's high I guess?"
"For me, it's attack power over girl power! And once I eat these eggs my ATK will go up! I'll also SPEED up with hot spring's effect! My preparations for battle are truly complete!"
I could hear Sei-nee and Mikadzuchi talk behind me.
Myu also raised her voice holding a hot spring egg in her hand.
I don't like being called 【Nanny】, I thought, meanwhile Zakuro who was eating an egg with his chin on the edge of the hot spring had slipped off and carried away by the water flowing from the crack.
Zakuro had just eaten a warm egg and let himself get carried away by the flow looking comfortable, floating on top of water.
"Geez, Zakuro was carried away. I'll go get him."
I entered the hot water and waded forward through it, because of that new waves appeared on the surface and carried Zakuro even further to the opposite side.
"Ah, Yun-chan, there's..."
"What is it? Sei-nee——"
And, as I chased after Zakuro who arrived at the hot spring's centre I fell into the water, my words being interrupted halfway.
With the hot spring suddenly turning deep I was immersed completely including my head and my vision was taken by the cloudy, hot water.
There was a strongly tilted wall beside me, I could tell how suddenly has the hot spring deepened because of that and I also could feel myself touching something with the soles of my feet.
I squat down in the water and picked it up, then by holding onto the slanted walls I pulled myself out of the hole.
"PWAH! Haa, what's this?"
"Onee-chan! Are you okay?!" "Yun-chan, are you all right?!" "Missy seems to be safe."
Everyone was worried about me and leaned from the edge of the hot spring, looking in my direction.
I moved to the shallow part and sat down, my lower body being immersed in water.
Oh right, Zakuro... I looked around and saw Zakuro who was floating on water being caught by his neck and pulled out by Ryui. Then he shook his body on the edge of the spring to dry his fur.
Foxes are canines, right. I recalled something pointless and sighed with relief seeing him safe.
Immediately after that I felt a chill on my back despite the fact I was submerged in the hot spring.
"Haa, haaa, a pretty girl in water all wet, her clothes showing through..."
"Rirei, how 'bout ya look away?"
When I turned around I saw Kohaku hold Rirei's head and forcibly take her somewhere else. The chills stopped at the same time.
Pheeew, I sighed. I shook off my long black hair sticking to my face with a hand and tried to squeeze out the moisture from them, but then I remembered I picked up something at the bottom of the hole.
Once I opened the tightly-squeezed hand——
"Eh? Yun-oneechan, why are you holding a key?"
"Isn't what Yun-chan holding the 【Demonfolk Gatekeeper's Key】?"
"Key? You mean the key item?"
I tried looking at the clunky copper key I held in my hand from various angles.
"Actually we had the advance team examine the Volcanic Area, but it seems like they didn't find everything. Luckily we found it, we can enter the gate any time now."
Mikadzuchi who thought we'll have to spend some time searching for a key made a radiant expression, but I couldn't move out right away with my whole body drenched.
Since all stains disappear over time I could wait until it does but...
"After several minutes it will dry naturally which makes this game really convenient. Still, Zakuro, could you?"
When I turned towards where Ryui carried Zakuro and asked, he seemed to have realized what I meant and created several small flames.
Flames created at regular intervals have been floating around me and Zakuro, drying us.
After a moment Zakuro and I dried completely, I re-equipped the boots and jacket I put away before soaking my feet in and was ready for leaving right away.
Seeing my clothes dry Rirei, who was released by Kohaku looked really disappointed, but I ignored that.
"Zakuro, thank you for drying me. Ryui, thanks for watching over Zakuro."
As I pat the two like usual getting along with them, I heard Lucato and others talk quietly.
"I feel like I have seen a very luxurious way of using tamed mobs."
"...well, that's how Yun-san is."
"Right. That's how she is."
For some reason they convinced themselves that this kind of thing is normal for me.
After that, as we waited for people who have gone out to gather materials nearby to come back I used that time to make more of hot spring eggs.
We departed from the sixth station's spring and before long we arrived at the gate at the eight station.
"So this is the Demonfolk Gate."
"Indeed. It's the gate leading to the frontline dungeon. Now, the key."
Prompted, I stood in front of the gate and looked up at it.
I inserted the 【Demonfolk Gatekeeper's Key】 into the mouth of the demon face carved in the gate and turned it around. The key had turned into particles of light and disappeared, then the huge gate opened with a loud noise.
The light that overflowed from the inside dazzled me and my vision was dyed white for a moment.
Frontline area's dungeon. Surely there are mobs with vicious mechanics inside. I prepared myself and looked inside——
There were stalls and shops at the passages, people walking around doing bussiness, soldiers patrolling the streets. The dungeon with the shape of a town had somewhat Japanese-styled atmosphere and looked very cosy.
While the facilities were mostly the same as that of an ordinary town, there was also a different element there. The residents of this place weren't NPCs but mobs.
Goblin merchants looking tidy and proper were running stores, Hobgoblin soldiers with unified equipment were patrolling the streets. Also, tall humanoid Ogres marched between the stores.
Apparently, it was completely different from what I imagined the dungeon to be like.
"C'mon folks! For a week from now on we can play to our content in this frontline 【Demonfolk Resort】!"
With Mikadzuchi's shout as the signal, all the parties have surged into the gate.
They strove to be the first ones to find interesting things and to locate the enemies.
I found myself still unable to understand the situation and left behind at the entrance.
"Well then, Yun-oneechan! I'm going to tour everything with Luka-chan and others!"
"And so, excuse us."
Although taking me into consideration, Myu chased after the 【Eight Million Gods】 members.
Sei-nee and Mikadzuchi remained in the end and pulled the confused me.
"All right, welcome to the 【Demonfolk Resort】."
"Let's have fun, Yun-chan."
Dragged in by the two I entered inside.
And there, spread out an outlandish demonfolk town.
*Station: Refers to Mt. Fuji's stations that are on its climbing trail.