Prologue - The Mine and EX-Skill
"With this, it's finally 100 huh..."
It was the dim entrance of a mine; for the past few days I'd repeatedly come to this mine, searched for a bit and went back.
"If I progressed deeper, I'd find more mining points, but since there's no deadline on this quest it doesn't matter. I don't need to hurry with collecting them."
What I was undergoing now, was a Sense-based quest for 【Smithing】 and 【Craftsmanship】. Previously, my 【Craftsmanship】 level hadn't reached the required level and I wasn't able to receive the quest, but after satisfying the conditions it was possible for me to undertake it, as I am now.
"Even so, the accomplishment criteria of this quest——to gather 100 pieces of ore in the mine eh."
At the entrance of the Mine dungeon near the third town it could be mined safely, as there were almost no mobs placed there.
Among the items mined, there weren't only ore-type ones, but also large quantities of materials such as Stones or Soil which I brought back instead of discarding.
And that monotonous work ends today. I went back to the third town while carrying a pickaxe I had borrowed for the quest. My destination was the tavern in which I had received the quest order from. There I spoke to the quest-giver NPC.
"I've collected them all. 47 pieces of Copper Ore, 31 pieces of Iron Ore, and 22 pieces of other ores."
"Hmm. Then I'll acknowledge you as a full-fledged miner."
"Fuhh, the quest's finally complete..."
Although it wasn't long, I finished a tedious quest, then I recalled the time I received it.
"Hmph, the obstinate one's back again."
"Yeah, this time I've properly raised my level."
"Then try hitting me. If I take even a step back, I'll acknowledge you."
The male NPC quest-giver spoke a fixed statement initiating the quest.
This man was the NPC who chased me out when I came to this tavern for the first time. He said various things to me, like 'you're not strong enough' or 'as if you could do smithing with such thin arms!' and like that I was forced out while being unreasonably scolded, but I was able to receive the quest like this eventually.
And after the exchange of words for undertaking the quest, I hit the NPC's belly. And something like this happened.
His abdominal muscles were as hard as iron. If I normally punched it, I would most likely hurt my hand, unable to make him move an inch or deal any damage.
"Is it really okay to hit with all my strength?"
"Yeah, a man doesn't go back on his word."
"Is that so. Then I'll go with all I have."
This was the exchange we had when I was receiving the quest for the second time. This time, my 【Craftsmanship】 level exceeded the requirements and I should be able to undertake the quest. However, I wasn't satisfied with just that.
"Here I go. 《Enchant》——Attack!"
Including my anger for the unreasonable scolding he gave me last time, I punched him with all strength I had.
This time, it was all my strength. I used the self-reinforcement from the 【Enchant】 Sense I had, increasing my physical attack power. Moreover, on all the fingers of my right hand I used to punch him, I had rings with ATK increase which further raised my attack power stat. The man opened his mouth, wanting to say something, but I didn't bother with it and punched him.
That's when I used the accessories I held on my clenched hand like a knuckle, and put into practice the tips for punching I learned from Magi-san. Stabilizing my lower body, and while rotating my arm I released a straight punch.
*Clang*, *dingg*. Despite it being the result of my own actions, I let out a silly voice. The punched NPC's body bent into a shape similar to a 'く' character; drew a beautiful arch, and only stopped on a wooden table, knocking off glass bottles lined up on it. Although I had raised the power and damage a little, I was stunned by this unexpected result.
"...heyy, are you alive?"
"Yeah, I acknowledge your strength. However, that's merely the entrance of 【Smithing】."
As if nothing happened, the male NPC stood up. His rugged face made an even more grim expression, feeling pressure for a moment I made a step back. However, the man's legs were trembling like those of a newborn fawn, I understood that he properly received the damage.
"Now then take this pickaxe, go to the nearby mine and collect 100 pieces of ore. After finishing it, you will be acknowledged as one of the miners."
While saying so he passed a bit worn-out pickaxe, which I received. With this pickaxe one could mine only in the specified location. In other words, it was something quest-limited.
I managed to safely receive the quest, let's immediately head to dungeon and start it.
And as I headed to the exit, my shoulder was grabbed from behind.
"...Miss. Reimburse the table and liquor."
The Tavern's dandy manager smiled at me, but there was a blue vein visible on his temple as he spoke. When I looked at the person; who was taller than me, I felt a little scared, obediently nodded and reimbursed him.
Also there's one thing I'd like to reassert, although this dandy manager called me 'miss', I want to correct it. I am a man!
"Ahahaha, Onee-chan, you went too far, even if you were asked to punch an NPC for the quest, to knock him over and be charged with the shop's repair costs is..."
After finishing the quest and successfully obtaining the EX-Skill I came back to my shop, 【Atelier】. There, I met with Myu and explained the quest sequence to her. And after hearing that Myu was currently holding her stomach and laughing.
"M-my stomach hurts, I laughed too much. But getting fired up like that instead just clearing the quest for reward is very much like you, Onee-chan."
"I said already, don't call me 'onee-chan'. I'm your brother."
Good grief, I let out a sigh and confirmed my own appearance.
My body has gained curves and my black hair grew long giving off a feminine impression, but in real, I am without a doubt a man. During the character edition, a correction is applied to balance the body. In my case, for some reason I was given a feminine modification and my appearance turned out like this.
"Sorry about that, but as long as you're having fun. So, what did you get for that quest?"
"Oh, a 【Mining】 EX-Skill and the tool for it, a pickaxe."
While saying that, I took out the pickaxe from my inventory and showed it to Myu. It was surprisingly heavy and required one to get a knack for it in order to swing it down straight.
"Hmm. Maybe I should learn an EX-Skill too."
"That's fine I guess? But, the requirement for this quest is to have either 【Smithing】 or 【Craftsmanship】 level 25 or above."
"Then I give up. Now then, do your best, Onee-chan."
I said so ending my conversation with Myu, and greeted a player who just entered 【Atelier】. Myu was still looking and touching the samples installed on the wall unbothered and touched the little beasts who were occupying comfortable spots in the store warmed up by daylight.
After the summer event's camp which finished the other day, a few customers have started visiting the 【Atelier】.
"Excuse me. Sandwiches for take-out."
"Sandwiches are supplied by the clerk over there."
I answered politely with a smile. I was happy to be selling my merchandise, but deep inside I had a very delicate and complex feeling as the only thing that sold were Sandwiches.
In the store, although it wasn't constant, a decent amount of visitors was entering and purchasing what they required. From time to time, there were players who didn't understand the NPC's, Kyouko-san's explanation and came directly to me for one. In cases like those I explained how to utilize an item by myself.
"But... why am I being asked to explain about food and young beasts."
Originally, 【Atelier】 was a shop dealing mainly with consumables like potions and antidotes. However, after the satiety system was introduced in order to improve the 【Cooking】 Sense right before the event, the food items had influenced it like this.
"I'm happy that the food items are being evaluated well, but why is such reverse phenomenon happening?"
Although I prepared Sandwiches as a hobby and added it to 【Atelier】's line-up, they have become a hot-selling product comparable to Potions.
Then, another female player came as a customer.
"Hello. One 【Nanny】's smile please."
"That article is not for sale. Hurry up and go home."
"Eeeh?! Then five Sandwiches and three Blue Potions, also, three Antidote Potions."
This time, accepting a proper order Kyouko-san removed items from the box under the counter and placed them on top of it.
I felt like asking a question to the female player in front of me who had a slovenly, smiley expression and was looking at the corner of the store.
"Hey, can I ask you something?"
"Yesyes. What is it?"
"Um, 【Atelier】 is a store dealing with consumables like potions, what do you think about it selling sandwiches? I thought I would ask."
I want to ask for your opinion, the girl in front of me opened her eyes wide and while waving her hand in front of her mouth she emphasized.
"You lack self-awareness! A broad-minded motherly figure holding the nickname of 【Nanny】, instead of being proud you stay humble. Your inner beauty is overflowing when you're in contact with young beasts. As proof of your purity you own a unicorn which spurs your popularity even further! A sandwich handmade by a beautiful girl like that! It's a product which is a collection of romance for both men and women! Among OSO's players there's many who have earned a nickname through either combat or crafting, but having one given because of one's personality, that's extremely rare!"
I was the one who asked, but I'm sorry. Please forgive me already. I appealed while using an instant-blush technique when I heard the machine gun-talk.
Probably satisfied with seeing that reaction of mine, the girl responded with 'thank you for a treat', and with a smile she left the store.
Some of the players remaining in the store listened to the long lines which could be called lavishing with slightly disrespectful praises and left the store with uncomfortable expressions.
When the last customer was leaving, along with Kyouko-san I called out 'thank you very much', sending them off.
"What's up with that. It's beyond the level of 'embarrassing'."
I covered my face with both hands and tried to cool it off, but it didn't go too well.
"That's why I told them not to call me 【Nanny】."
"Ain't that fine, 【Nanny】 sounds wonderful. Makes you seem caring."
To that voice, *bam*, turned around reflexively and with my elbow I hit Myu who was still in the store. She probably heard those compliments from before, I covered my face with hands again, embarrassed.
Seeing me like that, the young beasts that were waiting in the corner, a unicorn Ryui and a black fox Zakuro has come to me and rubbed their heads against me, comforting me.
"Sorry to make you worry. If you just waited for a moment I would have calmed down."
"Nicknames usually don't come so fast, so you should be happy about it. Or maybe you wanted to get a painful one instead?"
"Either of those are beyond my acceptable range though."
I responded like that to Myu's words. 【Nanny】 was a nickname I was given against my will.
There were various reasons, but after the event, that's what people started calling me. The tamed mobs I have gained as comrades during the event were still insufficient as fighting force, but their loveliness characteristic to young animals was very popular.
"Since Onee-chan looks like she's considerably heartbroken, it's about time I perform a tactical retreat. Now then, see you at dinner."
She said so, stroked Ryui and Zakuro who were beside me and left.
While seeing Myu off, I stared at her with a reproachful gaze for severely making fun of me, but I gave it up after two seconds.
"Good grief, there are too many things I can't deal with that it's troubling."
I murmured so, and when I tried to log out, a lively *pon* sounded and a small icon was displayed at the menu's end.
"A friend call, it's from Magi-san."
Accepting the friend call, I started a conversation with Magi-san.
『"Hello, Yun-kun. It's about this time's tea party, will you come?"』
"A tea party? And where is that?"
『"At Lyly's place. Members are the same as the event party's. Us crafters and the young beast partners of ours all together, okay?."』
Hearing the voice from the other side, I could easily imagine her appearance winking lightly.
Although I didn't see her, I made a small smile and responded agreeing to it
"I got it. Its fine to come now?"
『"Nope. It's not now, is it fine if I contact you in a few days? This time it's Lyly and Cloude that are organising it, so I don't know any details either."』
"Is that so. I understand."
『"Now then, let's look forward to the day itself."』
And there, Magi-san's call ended. Now then... I have once again started the log out, and from OSO's world I have returned to the real one.
I was lying down on the bed. I removed the VR gear attached to my head and stretched grandly. So, a tea party with Magi-san and the others huh. While I looked forward to it, I was anxious wondering if they'll make a coming-out with something strange, mainly with Cloude as the culprit. Still, I did look forward to it, I muttered in my mind.
Chapter 1 - Event Rewards and their Utilization Methods
The summer has passed, although I have resumed my life as a student in real, I haven't distanced myself from the world of OSO.
This and that happened, and I got acquainted with a few people and managed to obtain my own shop as a crafter. Also, above all else, there was the 'healing' in there.
"Hmmm. The Making Box's content is a herb again, huh. It's been a week already and those are the only ones that appeared, did they decrease probability of getting different materials correspondingly?"
I was groaning in the workshop part of the 【Atelier】. Making Box was one of the rewards from the summer event. Although it's a mysterious box that delivers me some kind of item every day and confirming the material has become a daily routine, I was a little disappointed by the materials I've acquired up until now.
"Sorry, Zakuro. I'm not really in a bad mood."
It was a sound let out by the mob I'd tamed, the young fox Zakuro, whom I was holding in my chest. It looked at the making box puzzled and tilted its head as it was being held.
While being healed by its appearance, I stimulated it lightly by scratching the nape of its neck and behind its ear.
It squinted comfortably, seeing its figure nestling comfortably in my arms a small smile spilled on my face. Interacting with these small animal mobs has become one of the joys I had during the holiday, playing OSO, it's become one of the things that healed me.
"Now then, let's go back to the counter."
Responding to my voice Zakuro swung the two of its black tails. It was truly what they call a fantasy, Zakuro was a young fox with two tails.
Also, one more animal. A tamed mob lying in a nice sunny spot of the 【Atelier】 was also my important partner.
Probably because it had seen me and Zakuro come back, the white horse stood up. In the middle of its head it had a small horn growing, it was a young unicorn.
"What is it, Ryui. Oh, that..."
It stood, and as if to direct me to the sunny spot, it has pressed its head against my abdomen. I could understand what it wanted from me just from the way it skilfully pressed its horn against me.
"I get it. There's no people today, I'll do it."
In response to me agreeing, Ryui took two steps back and lowered itself with a wry smile. I sat down on the sunny spot, as I was sitting down with my legs twisted to the sides, Ryui put its head on my thigh. Zakuro left my arms and sat beside Ryui, making it so only its tail remained in my arms.
"As usual, you really love the lap pillow don't you."
Is that bad? As if saying so Ryui looked up at me with a sleepy, half-opened eyes. 'It's nothing' I responded to it by stroking its neck. Probably feeling good because of that, it closed its eyes once again and fell asleep.
I passed my fingers through Ryui's mane, enjoying its feel. Unlike Zakuro's soft and fluffy fur, there was smoothness and silkiness in it as it slipped through my fingers.
After playing around with Ryui and Zakuro plenty, my thoughts shifted towards the tea party planned for today.
"Come to think of it, Magi-san too had chosen the Making Box. I wonder how it turned out for her."
Although Magi-san chose the same reward for the summer camp event, I thought of asking how the material delivery looked for her.
And when the appointed time was approaching, I proceeded with my preparations.
"Zakuro, Ryui. We'll be going out for a while so wake up."
Hearing my voice Ryui stood up listless. Zakuro who was leaning on Ryui lost its support and *twirl*, rolled away in panic, got up and shook its head.
"Come on, Zakuro. We'll be going out. ——《Dismissal》."
In response to my voice Ryui and Zakuro let out a quiet cry and each of them transformed into small stones that fit well in my palms.
Tamed mobs could be summoned freely as long as one has the 【Taming】 Sense and the summoning stone, this time, I returned them from their summoned appearance.
"Now then, let's go to Lyly's place."
Since they didn't specify what to take, I left 【Atelier】 empty-handed and headed to 【Lyly's Woodworking Shop】.
【Lyly's Woodworking Shop】 was located on the east side of the first town, opposite of it stood Cloude's 【Commonest Café & Clothier】 .
When I arrived and peeked inside Lyly's store, the NPC was arranging the weapons made out of wood. I was noticed by Magi-san and Cloude who came ahead of me and waved lightly.
"Hello Magi-san. Also——Cloude."
"Yun, why only when greeting me, do you add a subtle pause?"
"About that, how about you put a hand on your chest and ask that yourself."
Cloude was a crafter who produced both leather and cloth armour, he tilted his head in response to my words and placed a hand on his own chest. And the one who looked at Cloude follow-up on my words like that and letting out "ahahaha" laughing dryly, was Magi-san who crafted metal weapons and armour.
"Welcome, Magicchi, Kurocchi and Yuncchi. I've been waiting."
And from behind the counter appeared the store's shopkeeper, Lyly, a boy who was the crafter specializing in wooden weapons.
Then Lyly beckoned, and guided us to the back of the shop; 10 metres in width and 15 metres in length, it was a place I had once made a memory of an embarrassing failure in. I wondered if they wanted to prepare a tea party in a wide place this time, but Lyly's feet carried him even further.
"Eh? We're not going to have the tea party here?"
"There's a better place than here. This way."
He said so and proceeded, even further in the back of the store there was a black door. However, comparing the store's appearance and the position of this door, there wasn't supposed to be any space in there but...
"Now, I'm opening. Follow me."
As he said so, going after Lyly who opened the door and entered was Magi-san and Cloude. Then, I too have entered without any hesitation, ahead there was——
"Where is this?"
There was a wide plain and a forest of young trees in a slight distance away, also I could see a building made out of wood.
"How is it, amazing right?! This is my 【Ownership of a personal field】 !"
"Ohh, from the event reward. So it's this amazing huh."
In front of us; who were looking at the grand spectacle, Lyly happily spread his arms and headed towards the middle of the built-up building. When we looked behind us, all we could see was a black door and several dozen centimetres of a wall. Even as we circled around it, there was nothing on the other side. We shook our heads at the mysterious sight of just the door being there.
We followed Lyly who was smiling wryly as we did that. Inside of a building we have arrived, located by the entrance to a huge mountain of lumber we could see a small table.
"Today we're having tea party here! Kurocchi, take out the tea."
"Yeah, leave it to me. I want you to tell me your impressions on the product I'm going to be offering in Commonest Café & Clothier."
Cloude, prompted by Lyly, took out a tea set and a cake from his inventory. Because it was just a sample made in order to get impressions on the taste, it has been created as a mini-cake.
"These are cakes prepared by a pâtissière. I want you to tell me which combinations could be offered without any problems at my store. Also, if you have any other ideas fire away."
Magi-san raised a voice of admiration when she saw beautifully prepared colourful cakes.
The contents of several teapots were respectively different and it seemed like we were to pour it for ourselves.
When I was about to reach out to the table, Magi-san seemed to remember something and pulled on my sleeve.
"Wait a moment Yun-kun. Hey Lyly, if there's a field here, then can I call Ricœur?"
"Ah?! Then I'll call Shiacchi too."
After Magi-san said so I understood what she meant and immediately took out Ryui's and Zakuro's stones to summon them.
It was wide and safe, a place far from people's sight was a great playground for young beasts.
Magi-san had a small light blue wolf. Lyly had a beautiful bird which had gold and vermilion colours together. Cloude had a black kitten with only its paws coloured white.
And I summoned the unicorn, Ryui and two-tailed young fox, Zakuro.
"This place is safe so you can play all you want, just don't go too far."
All of the young ones listened to Magi's voice, and understanding what she meant, all five greeted each other by rubbing their noses and left through the entrance to the plains outside.
Then, all of them climbed on Ryui's back and head; riding him. Hey, can't you move your own legs? I felt like retorting so, but after moving further away they seemed to start playing tag. Relieved, I sat down at the table.
"Now, let's begin the tea party. Go on and tell me your impressions."
Being told that, I immediately took a cake in my hand. Generally women like Magi and children like Lyly are said to love sweets. Also, since I didn't hate sweet things I went through them one by one and reviewed them.
I took several kinds of straight tea and cakes, then tried one after another to compare.
"The orthodox combination is quite delicious after all. As long as it's something like shortcake or millefeuille I drink just about anything with them."
"Is that so? I prefer it balanced. For chocolate-types wouldn't something like a coffee set be good? I think the sweet and bitter would balance each other out well."
"Hmm. Lyly likes standard. Yun-kun's prefer the chocolate eh. I prefer the sweet and sour fruit cake-type, cream and chocolate are too sweet so instead I go for the ones that are more sour."
"Mm. So the balance is the essence huh. It'll be a good reference."
Although Cloude muttered so, it seemed like he already knew the answer. He might just have wanted to confirm his choice was not a mistake.
"Also, it's quite difficult to carry those cakes. Wouldn't it be fine to have cookie-like sweets that last longer and can be bought for take-out? Also, baumkuchen and waffles, or chiffon cakes."
Since my 【Atelier】's sandwiches are type of food assumed to be taken outdoors I made them as such for ease and convenience of portability, cookies would also fall under that category.
"I'll adopt that idea."
My pleasure. I answered and looked around.
The plain with green surface spread out far. Wind blowing through the grass resulted with waves forming patterns, it was a mesmerizing sight.
After we finished telling Cloude our impressions, I asked Lyly implicitly.
"Even so, it's amazing. To be able to use a field freely to this extent, was it like that right from the beginning?"
"No, in fact, it was very hard to arrange it to this extent. At first I simply selected several field patterns and that was all, and I didn't know what to do after that. Making it up to this extent was difficult."
He said so, sipped tea and started complaining. However, it didn't feel like he was frustrated, seeing him smiling made me think he must have enjoyed doing it.
"I thought of editing this field more, but there's nothing that comes to my mind as I already made the shipyard I've been wanting to make for a long time. To make a building, I didn't have enough wood so I made it that I can collect it in the forest here, but it took a while before I could unveil it."
"No, just creating a forest from scratch would take a lot of time. Just where did you move those trees from."
"Hm? These are made from seeds. Really, it took an entire week for them to turn out as they are now. Also, they are limited to the amount that was planted and won't multiply any more than that, it's made so as not to have it arbitrarily increase by itself onto the field or something like that."
That really felt like fantasy after all. The cultivated herbs are also ready to be collected after a day, so being able to collect wood after a week since planting is possible too...
"I'm curious about how's Yuncchi's and Magicchi's Making Box? I've heard a little about Kurocchi's dungeon from rumours already."
Lyly already told me what I asked him about. That's why I told him what my circumstances were like without hiding anything.
"I've gotten medicinal herbs for one week straight. Also, being able to replicate some materials I'm short on is convenient, but its usability is not all that good."
"I got Mithril Ore on the first day but..."
Honestly, I was a bit envious after hearing those words come from Magi-san who was a smith. Speaking of mithril, in fantasy it's a magical metal. Mithril = rare. And as I was in the middle of thinking like that, Magi-san continued to speak hesitatingly and my envy disappeared along with the words that followed.
"To turn it into an ingot, five pieces of ore are required. Although I've been duplicating it for a week, it continued to fail and the number wouldn't increase."
She said so and smiled wryly. Hearing about the complex result of someone who took the same reward, I too smiled wryly.
"I wonder if a personal field would be good for me too? The wide field could be used to secure herb-type materials for example."
"Turning this wide field to harvest an excessive amount of materials would be too much effort for something that's supposed to be a game right?"
As Cloude retorted calmly. He's right, I thought. Having it on scale where I can leave it for Kyouko-san the NPC to handle was the best. Any more than there currently is would require me to hire additional NPC personnel.
"That sounds... difficult."
"In the first place rewards like Making Box and Personal Field are just a bonus to the event. If their usability was good it would increase the difference between us and other players wouldn't it."
"Well, I guess so. I shouldn't have had such high expectations."
As I growled Cloude retorted calmly and Magi-san pouted, cutely revealing her feelings.
"Speaking of which, how about Cloude's? It was 【The right to make your own dungeon】 wasn't it?"
"Well. Currently, I'm researching how to earn more efficiently with it."
"Earn more efficiently?"
"The dungeon's level and the materials yielded by it, as well as increasing my own level. It's mostly working on earning gold with it. Well, let's talk about that later. The reason I called Yun is to talk about the crafting guild."
Talk about the crafting guild; I've heard about it before, but I wasn't interested and refused so they didn't bring up this topic again, still, I was a little interested.
"Ohh?! Yun-kun, you've got interest in it? Then let's talk about that before we talk about Cloude's dungeon."
"I'll take it upon myself to explain."
Saying so, he proudly grasped his black cloak and energetically wrapped his body with it.
In that short moment Cloude's equipment changed.
A white shirt and grey vest. The long pants on the suspender accentuated his slender and long legs.
In addition, he used his index finger to push-up the glasses with a square frame. Before I realized he took out a white board and hit it twice with a marker. That appearance of his looked like a detective's assistant or was in image of 19th century's scholar. That's how it felt.
While his everyday behaviour gave an unfortunate impression, as long as he remained silent his features were quite refined. However, that's not where the problem was lying——
"Why did you change in a hurry! What kind of meaning is there in that!"
"There is no meaning! It's just for self-satisfaction!"
He asserted that?! And continuing like that Cloude started explaining.
"Listen well, what kind of guild we conceptualize for ourselves!"
On the whiteboard he wrote 『Whaat is a crafting guild〜?』 with childish writing which annoyed me quite a bit. Lyly let out a 'waaa' and clapped his hands and appalled Magi-san spat out a sigh,
"In the first place, the crafting guild's concept is to make a system promoting our concept of 『fair price』 as well as promoting technical enhancement among crafting players."
Starting with that introduction, the guild's concept itself has been explained.
The crafting guild is centred on Magi-san and the others, and exists to support crafters.
The amount of quarrels for places to open stalls in at the market has increased, invigoration of resale and buying up all the material items, and so on. In order to have fighters and crafters sober up and eliminate stress on them a guild hall will be created and various systems will be put in place. Is how it seemed.
Centralizing the material trade and its simplification which will lead to decrease their costs. Also, stabilizing the crafted items' cost.
Support for new crafters, opening a variety of crafting facilities inside of the guild hall free of charge, offering a place to level and have an initial experience of crafting Senses.
Giving a place for fighters and crafters to exhibit and sell the obtained and crafted items by holding auctions. Other than that, acting as an agency that sells items for players who do not have a shop.
"Well, putting it simply, we're making a backup system for crafters that do not have their own shops so that they could freely enjoy crafting?"
"I can understand that. But what I don't understand yet from that story is where the problem lies."
"As expected, you can tell even with that vague explanation?"
Such grand plans are bound to have difficulties. That's why when they started explain it to me I thought there has to be some kind of problem.
"Well, there's only one problem——we have no money. We've ran out."
"Ehh? Even the three of you top crafters together?"
As I muttered, the three smiled wryly. "You're overestimating us〜" Lyly responded with a listless tone of voice, and Cloude explained the reason why was that.
"No matter how much we earn, there's only three of us. Three people or few dozens, if we do it poorly we won't be able to create an organization capable of backing up several hundreds of fighters."
Cloude stretched his shoulder once. Certainly, that might be so, I thought.
"The guild establishment item 【Guild Emblem】 and the guild's base, equipment and facilities necessary for the guild. Continued employment of NPCs in order to operate various facilities, initial cost of merchandise. There's no guarantee we can raise it, but most of them are problems that can be solved with gold."
Although I didn't understand half of what he explained, I could understand the last part about needing more money.
"And so, you want me to become a member and help out."
"No no! We're not going to insist on that, we know that Yun-kun plays solo. We ask for your cooperating with something else."
Hurriedly, Magi-san strongly denied that idea, I might have used too low a tone of voice. I touched my throat and listened to what Magi-san had to say.
"We want to ask you for funding so that we can establish a guild for fellow crafters. Even a small amount would be fine. Of course, if we manage to create the guild it will become a proxy responsible for sale so the time spent at market's stalls will decrease and there will be more time for other activities. Also, we will purchase materials for more than NPC's do and when we sell them, it will be cheaper as well. If materials are cheaper, it will be easier to raise crafting levels. There are merits like that."
"In Yun's case, it would publicize 【Atelier】 and you would get priority for necessary production material, or something like that. Well, these would be your benefits."
Magi-san's and Cloude's proposal was attractive, but what does that mean for the crafting guild.
"What about the crafting guild? Can you keep selling crafting materials with such minimal amounts of profit?"
"No. Rather than earning by trading items, we intend to earn money by using entertainment events like auction. An admission fee, you see. Also, the auction's primary role is to determine the value of new items and quest items."
"Our primary principle is 『Selling at reasonable price』 after all. For the auction items that don't have any balance between supply and demand, we can have crafters distribute them starting gradually from there, decreasing its price. That's why. By preventing situation where players who lack common sense like Yun start supplying items free of charge in their ignorance, we will maintain integrity of crafter's activities as one of our goals.'
Somehow, I feel like I've been told something very rude, but since it's a fact I'll stay silent. I thought about it a few seconds and asked a question.
"Then, are there any benefits for players who have funded the guild or people like guild members who have ties to it?"
"Unfortunately, the crafting guild is not a company. There's no dividend of the sales and no discounts on merchandise. The ones having it would be rather the resale guilds."
Cloude categorically stated and then Magi-san added on.
"It's pure goodwill... maybe it doesn't go that far, but isn't it convenient to be in guild with other crafters? I think there would be many funders who think like that. The guild isn't only for crafters but open to all players after all."
Told so, I reviewed the entire story.
"That's fine. If it's just funding——rather, I don't have any on me now so can I pass it at later date?"
Hearing my words, Magi-san stroked her chest in relief, "it's all right" said Lyly and "seems she's convinced" said Cloude respectively.
"As for the amount, is it fine to prepare just to an extent acceptable?"
"Yup. Thank you, Yun-kun. Recently we've been continuing to secure money so it's a big load off our shoulders. But if we use Cloude's dungeon's materials, it might turn easier to fund it."
"Hey, Cloude. Can you earn that much with a dungeon?"
"It's the same as Lyly's, in order to prepare stable operation a fair amount of preparations is necessary. It should be good time now, wanna take a look?"
He said so and moved his finger in mid-air and visualised the menu for us to see.
The semi-transparent menu was expanded to a size of a large TV and affixed in easy-to-read position.
"This is the full view of the dungeon currently."
What has appeared when he said that were maps filled with black and brown mass. There was a number of those maps and on each was a number indicating the tier.
White dots on the map indicated the presence of players moving around in real-time.
"Even if you show this to me like that, I don't get it."
After saying that, the map divided into squares and configured to display in 3D. However, since there was a large amount of information on each square, only the first layer was displayed.
"Now then, as for the dungeon, I'll start with explaining its concept. The concept is 『Taking out the material』 as main. 『Survive and return』."
"Eh? Recently, wasn't there a player who managed a dungeon just like Kurocchi? I've heard that the balance was poor and people wouldn't approach it..."
As Lyly spoke, Cloude responded with "good question".
"To make a dungeon, Dungeon PointsDP are required. You can collect DP from spontaneous recovery, player's defeat and from MP recovery of players in dungeon. From the other methods, there's an emergency measure of exchanging 10kG for 1DP which would instead earning cause you a loss."
"Hee, 1DP turns into 10kG eh. Seems quite profitable."
"Unfortunately, it's not such a convenient system. The upper limit of natural recovery is 10k DP at the initial level of the dungeon. If the level increases, that goes up by 1000 and the natural recovery is 100 DP per hour. The emergency measures have little effect and there's a limit on the DP rates, as for changing DP into money on, the natural recovery being tenth of the total amount possible. Moreover there's the rate of 100 points to 10kG. It's not worth the candle."
Cloude said so, and sighed finishing the explanation there.
"Let's go back to the topic. The dungeon Lyly spoke of was one that was created in mind with defeating players in order to earn DP."
"I see. With high difficulty set in order to defeat players, it won't attract anyone. No one would try leveling in a place where's a high risk of getting a death penalty."
"Then, how do you earn DP, Cloude?"
Magi-san agreed convinced, Cloude confirmed it and then I asked a question I just thought of.
"In my case, I have a low-cost dungeon below the range of DP's natural recovery. Also, I use the MP recovery of players as the main. That's why, the dungeon isn't that safe."
He said so, and showed us several 3D images of installations set up in the dungeon.
Fundamentally, it was a cave-type dungeon. Crafting material-type items are placed as drops and collection points inside. Moreover, he didn't forget to place some random chests in order to provide some flavour for players...
"Hey, Cloude? I wonder, why is the crafting materials biased with most of them being for 【Tailoring】?"
"Of course, it's for my sake. I provide the players information about my own dungeon, and actively purchase materials they obtain. Don't you think it's a great matching?"
"That's not fair Kurocchi! Add some 【Woodworking】 materials too!"
"It's a cave-type dungeon, so make sure to add some locations you can mine ores at. Now that we have summarized the guild concept, you can't just steal a march on everyone else!"
"It's not fair!" "Immediate opposition to monopolizing a collection field with crafting materials!" Half-jokingly Magi-san and Lyly raised their voices.
Cloude ignored Magi-san's and Lyly's protests and continued to operate the menu. With a fearless grin on his face he enlarged a window showing a single location.
"Hoo, are you trying to ignore us, Cloude?"
"Before that, there's something interesting to look at. Just now, there are players who have entered the depths."
I promise to fund the guild's establishment with it, and with Cloude saying that, the topic ended. He pointed at the semi-transparent screen and expanded a part.
Advancing there was a group made up of almost only warrior-type players. For weapons, they had swords and spears, there was also a player with a hatchet for heavy blows. It seemed like a hurriedly-constructed and unbalanced party without anyone to act the scout role and they continued to walk straight forward.
"——3, 2, 1."
Cloude began to count. When the count has reached 0, something that seemed like a purple magical circle has shined under the party's feet and activated.
"Correct. Also, the effect's this."
『"What? What happened!"』 『"Be careful! It's a trap!"』 『"It'll be dangerous if monsters spawn! Brace yourselves!"』
Before the light has dispersed they have prepared the engine for battle and filled the blind spots by standing back-to-back. But——
『"What. Nothing's there. Is this a bluff?"』 『"That scared me. It's bad for the heart."』 『"However, we might have been too relaxed. We need to focus."』
"Thank you for the treat. I can earn money by using traps like this too."
Although the players on the other side of the screen leaked out sighs of relief grateful for the fact that nothing happened, Cloude muttered quietly and watched the remaining amount of DP displayed at the end of the menu which has increased.
"Did it increase Kurocchi? But the players weren't defeated, and they didn't use neither skills nor arts."
"Aaah?! I get it Cloude. It's the kind of trap which uses 【MP Absorption】."
"Oh, I see. So the trap has sucked MP out of them."
I raised a voice as Cloude nodded. The MP consumed in the dungeon is converted into DP. This matches Cloude's concept of earning DP without defeating players. However——
"So you install it in narrow passages, and places where there's only a single road somewhat like toll gates."
"Unfortunately, this trap's location is changed randomly at regular intervals and its limited to be installed in locations large enough to make it possible for players to reliably avoid it. However, since there's no damage dealt by this trap, it's a good occasional income as its cost is low."
"Is that so... hm?"
The players who have left the MP absorption field have instantly disappeared at the edge of menu which was the limit of our field of view.
No, it would be more correct that they fell into a pitfall trap.
"Ohh, splendid fall."
"But, isn't that hole unexpectedly shallow? It's filled with water, but doesn't seem like a drowning trap, it can't be a trap that causes discomfort by having people get wet it it?"
"Of course that's not it. Look carefully, Yun."
While saying so, Cloude moved the angle from which the image was displayed, making it easy for us to see it. And, as we looked into the middle from that position, the depth of the hole seemed to be shallow enough for an adult male to jump out of. Also, floating at the bottom of the hole there was a myriad of floating, spherical bodies. I was relieved seeing it was something both unknown and familiar to me at the same time.
"Oh, the pitfall is stuffed with a large amount of blue slimes huh."
Just when I wondered what it meant, and what kind of devilish trap had Cloude created, he just tossed a number of weak and cheap slimes inside a hole. Relieved, I sipped some tea.
Since I've engrossed myself with discussion, I quickly drank the cooled-off tea and poured myself a new cup of piping-hot tea.
"Look, it's starting."
*plup plup*, *shlsh* *slsh*, they were surrounded by wriggling slimes? If anything, it only looked to me as if they were toying with the party as their HP decreased slightly... eh, decreased?
I watched it while drinking tea from my cup, starting with just a millimetre of their HP bar decreasing it started to be scraped off strongly and before they could even react, they players have fallen inside of the slimes.
"Bfuu?! Khkh keho..."
"Uwaa?! Lyly is choking!"
Lyly started coughing as the tea he was drinking entered his windpipe, I stroked his back, and looked at the slime puddle.
Magi-san was shocked and didn't give any reaction.
"It's a trap making full advantage of weak slime-type mobs. It's name is 【Slime Hell】."
"No, we've seen it but..."
"This concept prioritizes DP recovery with low cost. First, the pitfall is specified to be at a size one can escape from so that it can be created at low cost. Slimes are set to respawn at the bottom of the pit and spring out at regular intervals, and the players are dropped into the crafted slime pool. Finally, there's the chain attack bonus from saturation attack of large amounts of slimes, crushing players to death! In addition, if by any chance the trap is discovered, eliminating this many slimes would require the usage of skills and arts. Even their elimination will ensure an increase in DP, then, as time passes they will recover! It's a great combo-trap when it comes to cost-to-performance ratio!"
Cloude stood up from the chair and emphasized strongly. Seeing it, we looked up and opened our mouths dumbfounded as we stared at him.
No, even if you emphasize it that much... Rather, because of amount of time from the point players have been dealt that tiny bit of damage, the speed at which the chain damage increased leading to their defeat was too great. I've had a weird feeling, unconvinced. Being defeated by weak mobs like slimes... at least make it a slime boss with a reward. I thought.
"Cloude, is it that easy to get caught in a trap? Isn't it pointless to just use traps?"
"Fufufu, to make up for that, there's this."
He rubbed the menu with his finger, *snap*, the scene has switched and sounds were emitted. A single passage in form of a tunnel with side routes branching of it. And, a certain situation played out as there were stairs leading to the lower layer.
『"Ah, stairs leading down."』 『"All right, let's proceed further down in here."』 『"It looks like there'll be a good material for armour ahead of here, lets collect it and go back."』 『"Yeah, let's get fired up and go!"』
Distracted by the stairs in front of their eyes that were leading to the lower layer, the moment they set their feet on the intersection——
The ground on the intersection rose up, tilting to the side blowing the players off into the side street. The moment they fell deep into the darkness ahead, a sound of water could be heard.
" " "............" " "
"And so, in order to induce people like this, traps like floor flip-up are very useful when combined with Slime Hell."
Then, the reaction of players who fell into the side street's Slime Hell disappeared.
In order, Lyly, me, and Magi-san spoke a single word each towards Cloude.
"What are you saying. Using a low-cost trap to accumulate damage. Isn't it wonderful?"
You should praise me more, said Cloude and looked down at us with a satisfied expression. No, that wasn't a compliment. I retorted inside of my mind.
No matter how I looked at it, rather than a type of a dungeon which kills people with monsters, it was one that uses traps to kill people off. Looking at it carefully, the traps were built in order to make it possible to avoid, but not everyone was careful enough to do that. Although it wasn't difficult for players who had proceeded carefully and had the knowledge appropriate to their level, if they let themselves feel at ease and drop their guard taking it for a normal dungeon, they will be instantly swallowed by its concept.
Were any players I'm acquainted with to visit this dungeon, I hoped it would end with nothing happening. Of course, I worried about both players and the dungeon.
『"Ohhh, so this is a player-made dungeon. What's inside?"』
『"Mainly 【Tailoring】 materials, I wonder if we'll be able to obtain materials for Rirei-san's and Kohaku-san's armour?"』
At the dim entrance to the dungeon, looking at the depths of the dungeon there was a white-haired girl clad in silvery equipment. That's right, my great little sister's party set their foot into the dungeon——
"I made the entrance close to the town. Seeing her come isn't surprising."
So he made the entrance in such a place, I didn't know about that. Having a dungeon right beside the town doubled the possibility of Myu's advent.
『"Then, Tobi-san in front to warn us of traps. Hino-san and I will be vanguards. In the middle, Rirei-san and Kohaku-san as the mage-types. Staying in the back vigilant of surprise attacks will be Myu-san who can handle both proximity fighting and use magic."』
"Hmm. A theoretically perfect formation. With this, they should be able to easily reach the second tier. Well, it would be good if they recover materials up to that point and go back. Advance any more than that and... kukuku..."
"Hey, Cloude, no matter how I look at it you seem like a villain. Restrain yourself a little."
I held my temple and spat out a small sigh. As I stared in Cloude's eyes, he just shrugged his shoulders acting like a movie producer. Sorry about that, my joke didn't go through.
Then, I quietly looked away from the dungeon, taking a glance at Magi-san and Lyly. They were staring curious, wondering how will Myu and the others complete the dungeon and occasionally, they raised voices of admiration.
When it came to how it felt, it was like watching a reality show in TV. The challengers were proceeding nimbly through the high-difficulty course in a time-attack type event. Unlike other individuals on the same course, there was a completely drama displaying completely different human qualities.
Certainly, having the challengers face countless and ever-changing difficulties might have been common with such programs. Thinking like that, I got convinced and decided to observe Myu and the others complete the dungeon.
"Actually, I don't know how Myu and the others are acting at times like this."
It's a good opportunity, and with that I started looking carefully. Thinking that, I poured more tea as I observed them.
They proceeded through the first layer smoothly, they collected materials and defeated mobs. Their progression seemed steady and peaceful. The traps at this point were still reasonable and at most at the level of harassment.
Occasionally, they passed by the side of MP absorption traps, they were at the level where Toutobi as the scout could find a workaround for.
The degree of these traps too was at pitfalls with depth reaching at most to ankle and mud inside that have behavioural inhibition as their goal. There were many laughter-inducing traps from which escaping was easy.
As long as they had the right Senses, they could avoid or dispel them. It weren't that significant problems. However, what I was bothered about was——
『"And then, you see, a while ago Sei-oneechan has..."』
『"Really, you do love your older sisters a lot don't you, Myu."』
『"It's familial love!"』
『"Fufufu... what a wonderful familial love. Makes me want to attach flowers to the background. Mainly lilies too."』
『"Rireei, come baack. Na good, she's tripped."』
Somehow, the one most at peace was the peerless combatant Myu. Rather than being preoccupied with combat, she continued to chat.
What did I and Sei-nee do, what happened to us... Myu continued to happily talk about things like that. Lucato continued to listen to that with a smile on her face, Toutobi and Hino too, without dropping down their vigilance processed the mobs they encountered and joined the conversation with a smile on their lips.
As for Rirei... she has already travelled alone into world of delusions. Her face was red and she had an ecstatic expression, she started breathing roughly which felt sexy, though Kohaku struggled to return her back to sanity, she gave up before long.
And, rather than that——
The cry I let out with a stifled voice towards Myu didn't reach her.
Seeing that Magi-san and Cloude stared at me with a grin and Lyly had an expression saying 'you have nice hobbies'.
"Earlier during the holiday, despite there being a stock of snacks in the house you bought pudding and ate it before five minutes even passed, and so on, there's a lot of cute things there."
"Ain't that fine? Buying and eating pudding. You must have wanted to eat one right?"
"...back then, there were different snacks in the house. Somehow, it felt like, or rather I had a transient desire to eat something else. Although I do feel like there's no point in buying what's not absolutely necessary but..."
"So serious aren't you. I thought. Pondering if it's all right to buy something that's already in your home, balancing the budget and your own needs on a scale... so, what was the result?"
"I forced Myu to buy it. 'There's nothing I'd really like to it, so go and buy it'. Umm... the pudding from speciality store was delicious."
Although it was a surprisingly expensive pudding, it had a reasonable amount of caramel and bitterness, because I'm personally not satisfied with things that are too sweet, the result of shopping was quite good.
Prioritizing pudding before other snacks which had their expiration dates still far away was not a problem at all, thinking about it it now, what kind of stupid thing I was worrying about. I thought.
"To put it the other way around, normally you suppress your own desires, isn't that right? Even so, you really get along well, the three of you sisters together. It's a mystery as to why you haven't made a party together."
"Mmh... there's a lot of things on our side too. Also, it's not three sisters, I'm a man."
Even if we do get along, it's not like we're together all the time in real, moreover the way we play the game is considerably different.
Rather than involve myself with them forcibly right from the beginning, it's best to occasionally associate with them for a limited amount of time.
We drank tea and ate snacks as we merrily chatted, and meanwhile Myu and the others have proceeded further.
"Now then, they passed the first tier, and entered the second. The enemies aren't any stronger, but how will they handle the traps?"
"Hey, Cloude. How many tiers in total does this dungeon have?"
"Four simple tiers. Even though I say that, the last one is basically a straight line leading to the boss room so you could call it three tiers. It takes quite a while to get there, but if taking the shortest route on the way back, one could leave in over 10 minutes."
Hearing that response, I turned my gaze towards Myu and the others again. They were able to handle enemies with ease and on the display they were about to reach that point with the Slime Hell from before.
『"...excuse me. There's a large trap in here. A pressure-sensitive trap."』
Toutobi informed them of the trap's presence and Lucato halted everyone by sending a signal to stop with a commanding and clear voice. She pondered for a few seconds and after managing to come up to a conclusion, she asked the party members for their opinions.
『"It's possible that the level increases with each level. I think it would be good to activate one of those to have a better grasp, how about it?"』
To Lucato's proposal, led by Myu voices in favour have resounded. As for the one to trigger it, Hino was chosen.
『"Hino-san, could you please do it?"』
『"Okayy Lucato. Is it fine if I just hit this place with my hammer?"』
She said so and hit the trap with a large sledgehammer, the pitfall turned into a hole.
Although the Slime Hell he was boasting about was easily found, Cloude was looking at the situation without any expression in particular.
『"Uwaa, it's filled with slimes. Somehow, they're all jiggly."』
『"Feelin' like a physiological reception. Hey, Myu, Rirei. Wha' we goin' to do'?"』
『"Hmm. The situations with mucus can be quite maniac can't they."』
『"You! What'cha talkin' 'bout!"』
『"Fufufu, well, let's leave it at that and burn it out——《Flame Burn》!"』
『"Oohh! Like usual, Rirei's doing things flashily."』
『"Thank you very much for the compliment, Myu-san."』
『"No, consult it with us before ya do somethin'. Geez, Rirei..."』
Myu looked up at the flames spouting from the pitfall and creeping up the ceiling, Rirei let out a boastful feeling. In contrast to it, Kohaku who was acting as Rirei's stopper let out a tired sigh, Lucato and Hino smiled wryly. Toutobi had an expression that was hard to read, but she seemed to enjoy the atmosphere.
At this rate the second tier won't be a problem either. And as I though that, the man beside me has made a very steep expression.
"Up to this point this is the first time they used either a skill or art. Also, even though they used magic in order to break a trap, despite that attack power the amount of DP awarded was also low. She must have 【MP Consumption reduction】 and 【Magic Attack Power Increase】 Senses. It's a loss considering the DP consumed in order to replenish mobs that were defeated. I need to go on offensive here."
Cloude started muttering something shady.
On the second tier, once, because of the better concealment Myu got in danger and almost fell into a pitfall, but using 【Action Restriction Release】 she kicked off the walls inside the hole when about a half of her body fell inside and using three-dimensional movement she returned to the surface before she could fall to the bottom. After being attracted by those movements the Slime Hell was burned down by Rirei's flames.
And, the third tier. It was the area Cloude has called substantially last tier. When they entered it, Cloude issued commands to the dungeon.
"——【Emergency CommandOrder】. 40 of 【Undead】 and 30 of【Cursed Flame】 from third floor are to repel the intruders. The 【Spirit】 which appears on the 3rd tier is to be relocated to 4th tier, to be carried out immediately!"
Responding to Cloude's order, mummy-type undead bearing spears and clad in armour as well as souls releasing a black flame has slowly began to move as ordered to. The strength of those mobs was greater than those from the area before, but they weren't strong enough to stop Myu and the others. And besides that——
"...I'm glad these aren't the horror-type."
Because he said 'undead' I imagined them to be more like ones from a horror, but if there was a way to describe them it would be a wooden-doll like figures and dark-shaded lanterns that were only a little bit scary. However, the darkness in the vacancies they had for eyes and mouths felt a little eerie.
In a narrow passage a platoon of those has assembled and prepared themselves to blockade the party with their spears poised.
『"...that seems hard for me as my dagger's range is very short."』
『"It's a moderate blockade, we can suppress them with Rirei-san's and Kohaku-san's AOE attacks."』
Toutobi muttered that her reach is too short, Lucato had it a little difficult with the bastard sword she was proud of and used it like a shield parrying the attacks with the side of the sword.
Hino too, has switched from the sledgehammer to a long spear, mutually restraining the enemy and waiting for magic suppression come from behind but——
『"Oh come on! Something came out of the wall!"』
『"Tchh! That black flame, it doesn't have much attack power but causes a 【Curse】 abnormal status!"』
『"Fufufu, that's troublesome. If hit by 【Curse】——but well, this time, I can't ignore it so let's shower it with magic. ——《Flame Wall》!"』
『"That 'ight be good. ——《Aero Bash》! "』
『"Pushing the envelope eh. Nice! ——《Light Wave》!"』
Magic of the three people in the rear went flying towards the mummy soldiers and broke their figures momentarily.
Cloude looking from our side at the screen had a cheerful smile on his face. No matter how you look at it, it was unfavourable situation for him. Also, since he called emergency MOBs his DP has dropped significantly. However...
"Kukuku, it was completed just in time."
"Cloude? How about you drop that tough act and let them complete the dungeon?"
Magi-san squinted a bit happy and muttered. However, it seemed like she was feeling happy from seeing Cloude struggle so much.
"I've told you right, this is the low-cost combo dungeon. Multiple elements are brought together in order to make a perfect combination. This, is no longer a fight for DP. It has turned into a battle in order to reproduce the situation I imagined for my dungeon! I'm no longer bothered about the damage!"
"What damage, Kurocchi. The number of mobs you went out of your way calling has dwindled that's all."
"No, something's weird."
As Lyly pointed it out, I found a change.
What did Cloude command earlier? It were instructions for re-deployment of two mob types. However, the mobs that were should have been on the third floor in the first place weren't there. And those, have escaped from inside of the mummy soldiers' bodies.
These were suspicious cyan-coloured souls. They passed through the walls all at once, escaping.
"Something came out! ——《Light Wave》! Grr, they ran away."
Myu noticed the cyan 【Spirit】 and took one down with magic, but a number of others had disappeared into the wall. After that, mummy soldiers rushed in and filled the void that was created.
Then Myu got in contact with the black ball of fire which appeared from the wall and slashed it with a sword, dispersing it.
"Now then, let's use this third tier in order to introduce the boss' concept."
Rising up from the chair, Cloude showed off.
"First, I'll explain the role of each mob. While the Undead are slowing down the players, when they are defeated a large amount of spirits are sure to be released. And Cursed Flames that slip through the walls are mobs that lack substance and cast a bad status, 【Curse】."
"W-why Spirits? Why is there a need to produce a large amount of mobs?"
"That's the boss' cornerstone. However——well, you'll understand once you see it. I'll set it aside for you to enjoy later."
Cloude said so and, "kukuku", a laughter sounded from his throat before he resumed explanation.
"Now, here's the question. Why do you think I have Cursed Flames use 【Curse】?"
Hearing his question I placed a hand on my mouth and thought about it. If I'm not wrong, 【Curse】 was decreasing 1% MP per second and a random negative effect, so the MP's reduction was...
"I see. What you're saying Cloude, is that you ensure the DP gain by using 【Curse】."
"Also, if the 【Curse】 stays on the players, DP will continuously increase, and if recovery magic is used to dispel it, DP will still increase."
Satisfied with Magi-san's and Lyly's answers Cloude nodded. In fact, when an opportunity for Myu to cast a recovery magic, 【Dispel】, Cursed Flames started spreading 【Curse】 again. However, the second time and the third time the surprise attack's success rate has decreased, in the end, all the Undead and Cursed Flames were wiped out, a number of spirits was released and the third tier was cleaned up.
『"We finally stopped the flow of enemies. There's no traps ahead."』
『"Then, let's have a small break here. Our arts and skills, as well as MP is low because of the 【Curse】. I'm tired〜."』
『"That's because you are protecting, attacking and healing, Myu. You were the one who worked the hardest."』
Gudahh, the party members looked at Myu with a smile as she sloppily leaned her back on the wall of the passage. They rested for a predetermined amount of time, recovered the rest of MP with MP Potions and rushed to the deepest part.
"Now, the last gimmick! The third tier's cornerstone and the boss of the fourth tier——The demon dog – Hellhound."
There was only one bowl-shaped room and a single dog inside. It was about as big as amedium-sized mob and was a bit too small for a boss. Floating all around, there were dozens of spirits that were created earlier.
『"Is the boss only that? Also, the death candles from before."』
Hino muttered. Hellhound reacted to it and stood up, it barked towards the ceiling.
Following the echoing voice, the spirits drifting around were absorbed into Hellhound all at once, its body increased in size with each spirit entering it and became enormous, it finally had a size appropriate for a boss mob.
Seeing that sight, not only me but also Magi-san and Lyly were agape.
"Spirits are mobs without no capability to attack. And the only Sense they possess is 【Possession】. The possessed target's stats rise accordingly to the level of the 【Possession】 Sense. And there's 32 of those. Although several of them were downed during the fight, the Hellhound absorbed all the remaining ones. It's strength is beyond comparison."
The dog's howling turned more powerful for each spirit it has absorbed and it turned powerful enough to be called a roar, Myu and the others confronting it were attacked by pressure coming from it.
And the battle with Hellhound has began.
Although it was as large as a medium-sized boss mob, it ran through the ground with the mobility of the original Hellhound. Powerfully charging in, it has tore up the party's formation.
『"Ha, naïve——《Shock Impact》!"』
With that, Lucato released a diagonal slash with her bastard sword, blowing it away.
The Hellhound rebuilt its posture in mid-air turning around, right before its legs could touch the ground again, Toutobi moved at high speed and jumped right above the Hellhound, using Arts with the daggers she held inverted in her hands she attacked the enemy in a flash.
In response to the slashing attack Arts which seemed like it would crush its neck from above, the Hellhound fell down.
During the short moment before it could rise up Myu and Hino approached and swung their weapons.
Myu flashed with a pale blue light and released five consecutive attacks in an instant into the Hellhound's side. After a moment of delay, when the Hellhound's body rose up Hino swung down a sledgehammer on it.
Once again hitting the ground, the Hellhound rolled and tried to rebuild its posture. And the last one was——
『"Fufufu, let's dispose of it with maximum temperature."』
『"Big move's preparations are complete!"』
A flame circle released by Rirei has surrounded the Hellhound and converged as to block its escape route.
The circle compressed to the limit, wrapped around the Hellhound and stirred up an explosion.
A small tornado was released towards the Hellhound's body that's been swallowed by flames and has roused the flames further increasing the temperature.
Seeing a fire tornado suddenly created in the dungeon and be displayed all over the screen stunned everyone.
"Kurocchi's miscalculation is to give Myu-chan and the others a wide space to act in."
"No way, for the boss Cloude made so much preparations for to be so overwhelmed, they've got amazing combination."
To Lyly's analysis and Magi-san's murmur, I've once again witnessed the strength of Myu's party.
Despite consuming a large amount of DP in order to raise the Hellhound's level and capabilities, it's been handled this easily, that was a bit pitiful. I thought.
And looking at the damage dealt to Hellhound, this battles' MVP's were Rirei and Kohaku.
To Rirei's strongest fire power Kohaku has timed and released her wind magic, due to the synergy effect even a bigger amount of damage has been dealt.
Lucato has confronted the Hellhound from the front and blown it to the side, then Toutobi used a fast and accurate surprise attack, Myu and Hino stepped up matching the timing. In front of their perfect combination, Hellhound was overwhelmed.
The Hellhound was trapped in the fire tornado and continuously damaged, but there was still 30% of its HP remaining. Then Myu's attack caught up with it.
『"It hasn't fallen yet, tenacious. ——《Sol Ray》! "』
Releasing a laser beam of light magic from her fingertip pointing at the Hellhound that was trapped in whirlwind she burned it further. Then, a complete silence has come. After seeing the enemy being played with one-sidedly like that, I started to sympathize with it.
"Trying to use mobility against Myu and others was a wrong move. Although their three-dimensional means of attacking were sealed in the dungeon's narrow passage, it's been released all at once during the battle with the boss."
If anything, it was their best performance today.
Taken aback by the loss, Cloude's shoulders were trembling.
"You should have let them fight normally and go back."
"Kukuku, certainly, I have lost as a dungeon master. However, my desires don't end here."
"Haa? What are you..."
A moment later, the Hellhound has completely disappeared. And, seeing the treasure chest left behind by the Hellhound an indescribable anxiety assaulted me.
『"Now theen, what's the treasure? Eh, uh?"』
『"...the dungeon is quite deep so it should be quite decent, hey, Myu?"』
Myu was the first one to open the chest, she took out what was inside and looked at it. Her eyes looked at it in wonder as she was puzzled, seeing it her comrades made wry smiles.
And, on this side——
"Hahahahaha, certainly I have lost the match, with that said, my objective is something else."
"It's just like you, Kurocchi."
"To put it this way, it's quite a sloppy way to end it."
In response to the lines spoken by Cloude, Magi-san and Lyly looked at the screen amazed. What came out from the treasure box, were six different outfits
Most of it were remodelled clothing like swimsuit with small amounts of clothing and wedding dress, a bold twisted costume with upper part of the chest left open and a headband with horns, from normal ones there were yukata's with cute goldfish and floral patterns like those taken to watch fireworks. Including the small accessories there was an assortment that exceeded twenty cosplay costume pieces.
After seeing them one by one, overlooking Myu and the others as they picked it up, I have grasped Cloude's collar who has intentionally manipulated the boss drop.
"What are you sending to someone's little sister and her friends!"
"But doesn't it sound fun!"
"Think of my feelings when I'm forced to wear such an outfit!"
I shook Cloude's collar strongly with one hand and hit the table time after time with the other in protest. Magi-san and Lyly quickly perceived the impact on the table and lift cups with tea as well as the dishes with sandwiches and cookies.
For a while I continued to voice my protests, but Myu who has been inspecting the cosplay costumes has raised a voice.
"...hey, just now, didn't Myu call out while facing this way?"
"Certainly, but there's nothing visible like surveillance cameras in the relay points."
Surprised by the fact that Myu was able to pinpoint us like that, our movements stopped.
『"Myu-san, what are you doing?"』
『"Hm? Somehow, I felt like we've been looked at by someone, no that's not it. Somewhat, I felt like this chest was set-up deliberately, so I just faced towards there and waved."』
Myu tilted her neck surprised by her own action made without any reason in particular, seeing that Lucato smiled wryly.
However, everyone has agreed that the contents of the treasure chest seemed to be deliberately set up, and then, everyone was reminded of the fact that this was a player-made dungeon.
『"Then, we had a lot of fun today, thank you very much! If the dungeon grows further we'll come again!"』
Because of her good intuition, Myu looked exactly towards where the relay point was despite it being invisible and have made a declaration that they'll come to regularly reduce Cloude's DP. With a distant look in his eyes, Cloude laughed dryly.
- ↑ Lilies, in other words – 百合 yuri, meaning love between girls.
Chapter 2 – The Library and Linguistics
The 【Atelier】's workshop area; In the corner where the【Mixing】 and 【Craftsmanship】 equipment is installed, a new item was placed.
"The thing I asked Lyly for before is finally done. Let's arrange them immediately."
What I took out of the inventory was an empty bookshelf made of polished wood and varnished. It was about as high as I am tall, and seeing the glossy woodgrain gave me a sense of security.
I'd asked Lyly, who's a woodworker, if he could try making one, but he easily accepted my request. He said that he's bored as he's been only making staffs and he'll gladly make something else. Apparently he already built a shipyard and was so bored he could barely stand it.
On the woodworker-made bookshelf I continued to line up items that have been neglected up until this moment.
"Various ornaments should be placed up high, in a spot where their sight can be easily enjoyed after all. And then in the middle shelves I should put the books... good, feels good."
I muttered alone in the workshop section and continued to place items as to fill the blanks on the shelves.
Starting from the middle and proceeding down, I have continued to place the books I'd obtained during the summer event, on the upper shelves I placed the accessories I'd also gotten during that event, decorating them.
The accessories were put in cases in order to make them look of more importance as decorations. Most of these ornaments were accessories that were cursed with various disadvantageous effects. Since I intended to use them as references for 【Craftsmanship】's designs, there was no problem even if they couldn't be put into a practical use.
When I placed all of the items I had in plan to decorate the bookshelf with, the result was the third of the shelves being filled.
"Well, it's finished. Even so, there seems to be a problem."
Muttering, I pulled out one of the books I just placed on the shelf and turned a page. After that, I tried skimming the entire book, but in fact, I couldn't read a single word, a single letter. It was the same for all the books on the bookshelf.
"Haa, well, since Cloude has 【Linguistics】 I took it too to read it, but as expected – I can't do it with level 1."
Once again muttering, I opened the menu to check status of my Senses.
【Bow Lv28】【Hawk Eyes Lv38】 【Speed Increase Lv22】 【Discovery Lv25】 【Magic Talent Lv42】【Magic Power Lv43】 【Enchant Arts Lv16】 【Dosing Lv22】 【Taming Lv6】 【Linguistics Lv1】
Unequipped: 【Alchemy Lv30】 【Synthesis Lv26】 【Earth Element Talent Lv13】 【Engraving Lv1】 【Swimming Lv13】
【Crafting Knowledge Lv30】【Cooking Lv21】
These are my current Senses. Speaking of what has changed, by using 1SP I obtained 【Linguistics】 and turned 【Craftsmanship】 into the higher sense which is 【Engraving】.
As for the new 【Linguistics】 Sense, there's nothing special about it to speak of, aside from fact that its required in order to read the letters. For the higher Sense which had me consume 2SP in order to change it into 【Engraving】, a lot has changed.
First, 【Engraving】 allows me to provide a limited amount of additional effects into the item I create.
For example, if there's a reinforcement material, it will give an effect associated with it. In addition, 【Engraving】 originally has a capability of include an additional effect granting the item's user additional stats which looks like 【XX Bonus】. With that said, since 【Enchant Arts】 is already providing additional effect, there's still a lot to figure out about it.
Another point is, that it becomes possible to create accessories with a variety of materials. Of course, that means materials other than metals. This is where the 【Engraving】 is written with golden letters. I felt like retorting to myself, but then stopped thinking to deeply about it.
Anyway, unlike before where I could only make accessories from ingots, I have a wide range of freedom when it comes to creating accessories now.
Well, let's put that aside——
"Reading books, that means a library right? If I'm not wrong, there should be one in the North part of the town."
Occasionally I stroll the medieval European-style town made out of bricks and cobblestone to enjoy the unique atmosphere, thanks to that I more or less know the location of various facilities. From among those, my current destination was the library, it should be facing west towards the main street at the intersection. I should be able to get there without getting lost.
"No time like the present, I guess? Let's go there immediately."
When I left the workshop area of 【Atelier】 I moved to the store area; young beasts Ryui and Zakuro looked up from the sunny spot they were napping in.
I spoke to the salesperson who was at the counter, Kyouko-san the NPC to tell her that I'll be going out.
"Kyouko-san, I'll be going to library for a bit."
"I see. But, why so suddenly?"
"To level up 【Linguistics】? I can't properly read the books I have as I am now."
"I understand. Take care, Yun-san."
Lowering her head lightly, Kyouko-san made a soft and charming smile.
And at the same time, Ryui and Zakuro who heard our conversation stood up and moved closer to me. They looked up at me from below, are you going out? Then take us too. That's what it felt like they were saying.
"I don't think it's that interesting a place but... well, let's have a stroll while at it."
If I recall correctly, next to the library there is a space to rest in with a green lawn in it.
It might be good for Ryui and Zakuro to bask in the sun for a bit. I smiled inside of heart and picked Zakuro up with both of my hands.
While supporting the two tails and its butt with one hand, I left the 【Atelier】 with Ryui walking beside me.
The 【Atelier】 was located in the south part of the town and had an exit leading towards the main street which extended north. Above the street there was cloth extending and on the sides were players who brought tables and ran restaurant services. The more elaborate those were, the more people those stalls attracted.
"The number of players who are using the 【Cooking】 Sense sure has increased."
Recently, it has turned into a trend where nearly half of the player stalls sell ingredients or food items.
A while ago, 【Cooking】 Sense was only used for producing items that temporarily increased stats, honestly, its usability wasn't too good. If used by someone unskilful, it would turn into poison before long and the low amount of monster-dropped materials for stat-increasing food, there were many facets making it hard to use. However, along with the introduction of the satiety system in an update right before the summer event, now with everyone conscious of the satiety level which players needed in order to play for a long time, naturally the 【Cooking】 has come into the spotlight.
"Well, it does look like a risky business though..."
Despite there being a high demand, not necessarily all cuisine prepared by players is high level. In particular, there are some stalls that have a mixture of good and bad things. There's a variety of cooking that goes beyond the basics needed for satisfying satiety. And there, was the room for development when it comes to the Cooking Sense.
"Let's grab a bite somewhere and head for the library."
Hearing my words Ryui turned towards me, and started pressing on my back at a specific angle as to make sure it doesn't hit me with its horn, as if saying 'let's hurry and look for something tasty'.
In addition, seeing Zakuro who was nestled in both of my arms look at me with expectant eyes and cheerfully wave its two tails, I smiled wryly.
"Good grief, when it comes to food, your eyes change colour."
I muttered as if I was amazed, knowing that I was the one who made them remember the taste of food I continued to make a bitter smile.
"You can choose what you want judging by smell."
When I said that, Ryui's and Zakuro's line of sight started wandering busily, then, they turned towards one of the stalls.
Just in time, on one of the stalls skewered pork just finished baking so I headed towards it. Noticing me, the person from the stall raised his hand towards me.
Startled by the action, Zakuro suddenly slipped out of my arms and hid behind my hood.
However... well, it hid itself only partially as its two fluffy tails were sticking out, swaying. Both the clerk and I smiled wryly at that.
"Excuse me, please give me ten skewers with pork."
"Yeap. Big Boar skewers, freshly baked too."
"Ah, do you have a dish or something for take out?"
"Dish for take out eh, I see. Got it. Also, two more as a service for showing me something good."
The nice guy at the stall received payment for the skewers, grinned, and sent a strong glance towards Zakuro's tail. Probably noticing that gaze, Zakuro's body stiffened in my hood and his fur ruffled up. He's still not accustomed to contact with humans, I thought.
I spoke for a moment with the man, when I received the skewers and dish the first thing I did was to remove meat from skewers other than my own, dividing them onto dish.
I figured it would be hard for Ryui and Zakuro to eat skilfully if I passed them the skewers, and thus devised an easy way for them to eat. Ryui and Zakuro who slipped out from the hood started to compete over the meat that was put on the dish. Although Zakuro was bothered by people's gazes for a moment, it lost to its own appetite and started eating the meat from the dish.
"As expected of 【Nanny】. I didn't notice that, but you sure do notice these fine details. This time, allow me to offer you those pork skewers which went on the dish as a service."
"So you know that nickname... um, personally, I don't really like that 【Nanny】 name."
When I raised my eyebrows making a troubled expression, he raised his hand saying "sorry" and handed me another skewer as a service. I obediently accepted it.
I tried biting onto the pork, and I could feel a soy-sauce based taste. Its slightly sweet, seasoned taste would probably be popular with millions of people. Because it was a bit greasy, I was satisfied with a single one, how many of these do you think I can eat. On the other hand, my hungry young beasts cleaned up 10 skewers + service but...
"Thank you for the meal. Can you wrap a few of them for me as gifts? If there's another chance I'll come again."
"But 【Nanny】 herself has the Cooking Sense right? There should be no need to eat out on the stalls, is there. Also, I've seen something good too. Small animals are cute after all."
As the man older than me glanced at Zakuro with an incredibly sloppy expression, I smiled wryly for nth time today.
I said a light farewell and moved away from the stall, heading to the library.
Leaving the main street which was more crowded than usual was quite difficult. At that time, something big and far from human has approached me. Something that looked like a grey rock was gradually wading through people.
"Mutsu? What is it? Did something happen?"
Then, a long nose started sniffing the package with skewers I just bought. I slowly followed the nose in front of me and looked up at the source of the voice, a girl with elf ears with whom I was familiar with has leaned her head out to look down in my direction.
"Oh? Yun-san, hello?"
"Letia? And... a new tamed beast?"
My face was spasming a little as I looked up at the thing with grey skin——it had short tusk growing, limbs thicker than my body, the existence that could freely move its long and distinctive nose was——an elephant.
Letia jumped down using the leg of an existence which could be called enormous elephant as a scaffold. Comparing Letia and the elephant she came down from made my neck feel painful because of its size.
"Yes. The new tamed beast Mutsuki. Nicknamed Mutsu."
"Even so, was there a mob like this out there? You really did well to tame a boss-class mob."
"This child——is one of the children from the event before."
I tilted my neck slightly and the voice I let out was loose, but Letia seemed to be serious. She looked towards me who couldn't keep up with understanding and continued.
"It's a young beast I have made one of my comrades during the event before. A young beast of Ganesha."
"That means... it'll grow even bigger?"
The giant elephant in front of me was still a child, although I was horrified by that fact, Letia lowered her eyebrows somewhat troubled.
"That's right. Because its so big, it's very costly too. For example, summoning and maintaining cost, food, moving around the city and food."
"No, wait. Why did you said 'food' twice."
As I retorted, "is there a problem?" Letia tilted her neck. No, not really... hey, while we were talking Mutsuki the Ganesha's nose has been attracted by the package with skewers. No way, are they targeted?
"By the way, how much does it need to eat?"
"Who knows? Whenever we go through the town it sidetracks to the stalls, other than that, there are players who feed it because it's rare but that won't continue indefinitely. Just now it has eaten everything on the stalls on that side so I'm a bit low on money..."
She put a hand on her cheek and said "what should we do now?" suddenly an atmosphere appeared which seemed like I'll be asked for something, then what should I do. I ended up wanting to retort.
"Well, Mutsu can do a lot of little things so please pass us some food."
"Even if you say food... what I have now is only those skewers and what I have in the inventory..."
Like Ryui and Zakuro, Mutsuki seemed to understand my words and faced towards me with sparkling, extremely expectant look in its eyes. Despite looking like a huge elephant, it was like an innocent lamb and it made it hard for me to refuse.
"Geez, it can't be helped. Here, eat a little."
When I gently unwrapped the skewers smell of sweet sauce has spread. The elephant's nose reacted and skilfully picked up a skewer. Although the meat was still on the skewers, I guess that's fine. When I thought that, the elephant used its nose and mouth to skilfully eat the meat. Although this amount of meat was insufficient for its huge body, but when it opened his eyes wide and opened its mouth enjoying it, I felt somewhat happy about it.
"Hmmhmm. This sauce is quite good. On which stall did you buy it?"
"Hey! Ahh, Letia's eating it too! Also, Ryui and Zakuro are eating again?!"
While my line of sight was stolen, Letia has shrewdly taken one of the skewers and evaluated the taste together with Mutsuki. Although I cried out in protest, my own young beasts started appealing to me that they want some too, so I reluctantly placed a dish down and removed the meat from the skewers.
"What is it. Why are you looking at me with such eyes."
Letia and her partner Mutsuki finished eating first and now were staring in this direction with eyes full of envy. So it wasn't enough, I thought and let out a small sigh.
"Geez. Is something else fine?"
"Sure, as long as it's delicious."
"No, it should be 'as long as it's food' right?"
Why is she sneakily requesting something tasty. But even as I thought that, from the inventory I took out a basket of sandwiches which are one of 【Atelier】's products.
"Thank you very much. Let's dig in."
Letia and Mutsuki swiftly picked the taken out sandwiches one by one and threw them in their mouths. After continuously retorting, I felt quite exhausted, and then when I saw their happy appearances my expression loosened. Then I noticed that I didn't have an opportunity to touch an elephant in real before, and for a change I started getting interested.
Sneakily I tried to stretch a hand to it as it was eating, but Mutsuki was a fast eater, before I could touch its nose it already snatched a sandwich from the basket and I withdrew my hand. Then, I tried to stretch out my hand again to it but I couldn't get the timing right to catch it. Letia laughed finding it funny.
"There's no problem if you want to touch it. Everyone feeds it and touches it because its rare."
"No, um... is it fine?"
I've been found out, although I wanted to deny, I've been silenced by Letia. Because she shook her head vertically, saying that there was no problem with it, I determined myself and tried patting its nose.
Mutsu who was in middle of eating sent me a glance, 'what is it?' and got absorbed in eating again. Although Mutsuki was comfortable in touch, it was more rigid and porous like skin of an elderly person rather than smooth or soft like Ryui's and Zakuro's fur. However, touching it was surprisingly calming.
Ryui and Zakuro who have finished eating the meat have surrounded me, and I alternated between stroking all three.
With each of them being differently pleasant in touch, my heart has completely calmed.
I forgot that we were in the middle of busy traffic, and got absorbed in it.
"Yun-san, your expression has turned completely loose."
"Eh, no way?!"
In a hurry I pressed my hands against my face. Did I really have such a sloppy expression? I wondered. When I stopped patting the young beasts and left my the world of my own into which I escaped, voices of some players surrounding and overlooking us have reached my ears saying a certain word that was bothering me.
Nanny, Nanny, Young Beast's Nanny, Nanny...
"Are you happy? Miss Nanny."
Honestly, this nickname is just embarrassing.
"...haa, it's fine already. I've been held up for too long and the amount of time I have decreased, I'll be going."
"I see. I apologize for holding you up."
"Aside from Mutsuki there's Haru and Natsu right. It's their share."
I held a different basket towards Letia. The basket she received with both of her hands was stuffed with a decent amount of sandwiches, she understood my intent and bowed her head lightly.
"Thank you for your consideration. Now then, I'll apologize myself."
Letia instructed Mutsuki to raise its leg, and using it as a scaffold, she climbed on top of it swiftly.
Mutsuki and Letia headed towards the east gate with an intention of using that enormous body to send a Big Boar flying and obtain money to buy food. I could easily imagine the Big Boar's figure rolling like a ball after being charged at by Mutsuki's huge body.
"That too, is for the sake for food."
Leaving behind words which were unclear whether they are a joke or not, a single person and a single animal walked away.
Since I was heading to a different destination, I only looked behind over my shoulder... but as the enormous elephant advanced, whether it was players or NPCs, everyone was divided into one of the sides. The sight of the players who were late to escape from its way and were lightly flung aside was quite surreal.
However, it was possibly because the surrounding players were troubling her that she chose to move around the town on Mutsuki. I thought.
Is that how it is? Letia-san. I asked inside of my mind, of course no answer came.
Well, leaving her matter aside, I headed to my own destination – the library.
The library in the north part of the first town was an impressive two-story building made of red brick, instinctively I saved its appearance as screenshots.
When I entered it through the wide-open entrance, I was greeted by chilly air and tranquility specific to libraries. And, when I started walking towards a book which had drawn my attention——
"I'm sorry, but bringing food and drinks as well as living beings is prohibited. Also, there's a 10k registration fee and a monthly cost of 10k for each month of library's usage."
"I understand. Beside the library there's an open square, are animals allowed in there? Also, here's the registration and monthly fee."
"Yes, if it's in the square then there's no problem. You can go there directly from the library, and it's also possible to bring food and drinks in there. However, please refrain from taking the book out. Now then, please take this library pass. We're closing at five o'clock. In case you want to borrow the book, you'll have to make another payment other than the registration and monthly fee which is also 10kG."
"For now, I'll just read it in here only."
"Then, please enjoy yourself."
No way, I didn't think that I'd be immediately stopped by a librarian. Unlike the libraries in modern Japan which are visited by tens of thousands of people, in this library admission was limited. After that, I guided Ryui and Zakuro to the open square next to the library, made them wait there and went back inside the library.
There were many thick books, even after reading the text on the back covers I didn't know what to pick.
First I tried to pick up some bulky books, then some thin ones to see, but I couldn't read them and my 【Linguistics】 level didn't increase.
"...I came to the library and I still can't read any books, huh."
I suddenly started feeling frustrated, but there are people who would teach me if I asked politely. I went back to the librarian who received me a while ago and tried asking.
"Excuse me, what do I have to do to be able to read the letters?"
"To be able to read you need to obtain 【Linguistics】. After that, if you want to start learning, I recommend starting by reading the picture books from the corner on the right."
"Thank you very much. I'll go there immediately."
The corner with the picture books I've been recommended, had very thin books that had conspicuous pastel illustrations in it.
The letters I read for the first time were about the same as Japanese hiragana. It's possible that I won't be able to read the books I have in 【Atelier】 unless I raise my level high.
"Haa〜. Well, let's start with this picture book."
To think I am reading a picture book at this age, that's how it felt but it can't be helped.
The book I took in hand was apparently a story about a fire mage. Born in a very common household, the man became a mage's apprentice and after several twists and turns, he subdued a dragon alone. It was a story about an adventure. It was all written in hiragana, I easily read the short text.
"Well, this is quite normal, or rather standard."
It was a fantasy-themed picture book you could find anywhere. However, in the end of the book was the original book's title, but something like mosaic was applied on it and I couldn't read it even if I strained my eyes. I judged that once again, my 【Linguistics】 level wasn't high enough, the only part of it I could read was the name of the person who became a mage.
What I took in my hand next was a story of a swordsman. I easily read this one as well and then took another book in my hand.
All of them were ordinary stories, after a while I started to notice that the stories were speaking about people who took certain Senses.
The story of a fire mage spoke about him having 【Fire Element Talent】 and 【Magic Talent】.
A swordsman, aside from the 【Sword】 Sense had also 【Armour】 and 【Physical Increase】 Senses. I've seen that build somewhere before, I think that's a typical style players take isn't it?
Then, I searched for a certain picture book.
The book I was looking for, was one about an archer. It's contents wasn't a story about a mage or a swordsman who killed a dragon nor hundred of foes, but one about a hunter searching the forest in order to look for a herb who ultimately faces off against a bear all alone. In the end, he took the herb and went home to heal a sick person which is a happy ending. However, since it was the bow, I hoped for anecdotes like the ones about Robin Hood or Nasu no Yoichi. It was a bit disappointing.
Since that was the case, after that I started looking for picture books about the Senses in my possession. Even if I say that though, it's difficult to tell at a glance which one are those. I was unable to determine which ones are for enhancement-type Senses like 【Speed Increase】 or auxiliary Senses like 【Crafting Knowledge】 so I gave up on finding them.
After reading a number of books, I muttered a thought as if sighing.
"I wish I had a notepad and a pen."
What I thought of doing, was noting down the titles written at the each books' end. I still wasn't able to read it completely, but I could look for these books based on the character's name and the part I was able to read. If I read the original the picture books reference to I will be able to understand the Senses more deeply, I thought. After thinking that made me want to obtain a notepad immediately, I left the picture book and moved away from the corner.
"...geh, there's none after all."
After I read the books and obtained some experience, my 【Linguistics】 level was still low, at level 3. I thought a writing instrument might be given to me if I level up, I couldn't find any and decided to go back to the picture books.
"Did something happen? You have been walking back and forth for a while now..."
"Ah, miss librarian. No, I wanted a notepad and a writing instrument, and started wondering if library sells anything like that..."
"Ohh, I see."
Before I decided to call her myself, the NPC in front of me spoke to me. Really, sometimes it's so real I start to wonder if I should speak with the NPCs, and their human reactions are so fun it can't be helped.
"If it's that, then we have it in reception. I'll take out what's needed."
"Eh, is that so."
"Yes. If you're satisfied with a fountain pen and a notepad, we can sell you those. The library is cooperating with a paper and stationery shop to sell them."
I was told so, and at the reception I was given a paper poster. Even as my fingers bit into it, I still couldn't read most of the characters. Just barely, I was able to read the price. The fountain pen cost 50kG and the notepad cost 10kg, I felt it was quite expensive, I wonder if it's something valuable in this medieval world setting.
Although I wanted to keep money for the crafting guild's founding, I also thought that I should make an initial investment into my comfortable library life.
"Mmmhh... I-I'll buy it."
"In that case, please take these."
No way, I didn't think I would spend money for something else other than library registration's fee. I felt dizzy paying a price equal to that of a good armour piece. Although recently the 【Atelier】's sales have went up, I still haven't got enough money to use freely.
"Now, please continue to enjoy yourself."
As the librarian NPC gave me a relaxed nod, I also responded with a light nod and went back to the corner with picture books.
That item of low importance, the fountain pen I bought at that time has eventually become one of my favourite tools in OSO the longer I played.
The corresponding Senses mentioned in the corner's picture books and the titles of the source books, I transcribed the originals' titles to the notepad, then started to pick up new picture books.
I was simply writing down simple words in order to find out more about the Senses, but it was more fun than I thought it would be. I began to study Senses other than the ones in my own possession.
Because I continued to concentrate for a long time, I noticed that I was able to read other characters to a certain extent only after I raised my head up by chance.
"Ah, I can read the letters I was unable to read before. Eh, even so it's only on the level of simple kanji, huh."
When my checked my status, I saw that the 【Linguistics】 level has increased to 6.
Although there were lots of picture books left, if I continue to read simple books my level won't raise. I'm almost done with this one, let's go find a new book.
"But, where and what kind of book should I look for?
I still couldn't read part of the poster's letters.
"It can't be helped, let's use the references."
Speaking about the references. Roughly, it's a type of service where the librarian helps out the library's user find necessary materials. Although it's hard to find a book on one's own, as long as I tell what kind of content I'm searching for, I'll be told where I can find it. While I'm at it, let's try learning something on crafting Senses.
"I'm sorry to bother you time and time again, are there any recipe books for 【Mixing】, 【Alchemy】 and 【Synthesis】 I could use for leveling my 【Linguistics】?"
"There are. Five books are matching the description, what would you like?"
"I'll read all five of them."
"I will guide you to the book's location, please follow me."
I walked behind the librarian who acted in a calm manner, we left the first floor with bookshelves and arrived in a certain corner.
"This is where you can find a number of books about crafting. And the books you've specified are this one, this, and..."
She has took out the books from the shelf and put them on top of my hands. The books were quite thick, but about half of each book was filled with illustrations.
"We're closing soon, can you read them all before that?"
"Ahh, I wonder? I'll read as much as I can before that, and borrow the remaining ones?"
"If that's the case, then you have to pay 30kG of security fees to borrow them. The deadline is two weeks, if you exceed it, the items will be transferred back to the library automatically."
What's with that super-overtechnology. If that's the case then you don't need the security costs do you. I thought, but the librarian said "that's the rule" with a smile on her face... I'll ask her to lend them when going back.
I held the five books and went to sit down at a nearby table. I opened the notebook and continued to write down the important information.
And, right before closing time came.
What I was able to finish reading, were two books. Although it took me til just being closing, the content of two books had written out the basic methods of usage of 【Mixing】 and 【Alchemy】. It was almost perfectly what I verified earlier. But there were new discoveries too.
If a monster-based material with a negative effect is used, the negative effect can be nullified using corresponding materials. However, the stat-rising effect will lower.
The example of a recipe like that was one that which Rock Crab meat's bad status as a negative effect.
The Medicine Stones crafted with usage of 【Alchemy】 from the gallstones which drop from Herbivores.
And the negative effect countering antidote grass, pills made out of those three components turns into stat-rising type of item.
It seems like something I should try making. Whether it does overlap with 【Enchant】 Sense's buff or not. Also, since the effect is lowered after it's neutralized with corresponding materials, I need to find a way to enhance the effect by that amount.
"Which way would be faster?"
Would raising my 【Linguistics】level and locating the information in the book be faster, or maybe go with the trial-and-error method trying to make the enhancement pills——Boost Tablets and arrange a recipe like that.
For a while, wrinkles appeared between my eyebrows, then I suddenly laughed.
"It's not like I have to pick only one of those options. I'll just examine the book and try preparing it."
By the time I left the library the town build of stone was already dyed red with sunset, I went to pick up Ryui and Zakuro who were waiting on the square next to library.
"Ryui, Zakuro... sorry, I made you wait."
When I came to pick them up, the two animals sleeping on the lawn raised their heads. Ryui, the white horse was dyed in madder colour, Zakuro's black hair let out an unique sheen in response to the sunset's light.
"Now, let's go home for today. If there's a need, let's come back to this place sometime."
When I embraced Zakuro and was about to go back side-by-side with Ryui, I looked back for a moment at the library, it was lit up by the setting sun.
In response to the sunlight falling on the window I felt a slight discomfort as I saw a red reflection, I thought it was probably my imagination and went back to 【Atelier】.
It’s been a few days since I borrowed the book from the library. Basically, since I didn't go out of town and fight, I devoted my free time into reading the books. As I stocked on information, I continued to work on improving the items.
"Hmm. This goes here. No, that's no good. It won't go well no matter what."
What I was doing at the moment was improving the stat-rising item prepared from monster's meat, Boost Tablets.
At first, I made the item according to recipe but——
Boost Tablet (Rock Crab) 【Consumable】
A pill created by using Rock Crab as material
That's what came out from the default recipe, in attempts to increase the effect I tried mincing the meat, boiling it, drying it, marinating it in antidote. Although I tried many things, there was no effect. All that happened, is that my 【Cooking】 Sense's level increased by 1 as I was tampering with a ingredient item.
"Haa, not good. Although I tried to create a highly-effective item at low cost, it's hard to make something like that alone. A material that doesn't cause a bad status effect is high but because of the drop rate it would be costly... can't be helped, let's leave it at that and read some books."
Speaking of that, what I was currently reading was the last book of the ones I borrowed the other day.
The two books I read first, 【Synthesis】 and 【Alchemy】 Senses' simple ways of usage. It was a simple list of item recipes.
However, there were things that my 【Synthesis】 crafting kit didn't support as it only could synthesize three items. Aside from the items created by synthesizing four materials that were listed in the book, there were things like stone arrows I made before. There were recipes what can be created by combining multiple items in there. However, I didn't think of improving the crafting tools before.
And what I was reading currently, was a book titled 【Make a Chimera】.
It was written in a fantasy world-like language, instead of MP it said 'magic power' and mobs were represented by 'demon' and the like which made it difficult to understand, I noted down the important parts written in there.
And what I learned as a result——
The 【Synthesis】 Sense could combine certain items to create mobs.
It was different from mobs befriended by using 【Taming】 Sense, there was nothing like leveling up for those and the mob's strength was determined by the synthetic combination.
Well, the requirement of the recipe is to 【Have a crafting kit capable of synthesizing five items】, it's two stages above the current crafting kit I have.
The crafting kit supporting four items cost 100kG, one supporting five items cost five times that, 500kG. If that's the case, I'd rather acquire 【Mixing】 and 【Craftsmanship】 tools.
"So, I've thought it over. However, it's impossible in the current situation."
It wasn't that the materials were a problem, but the investment cost was too high. Since this synthetically-created mob couldn't be made via multiple usage of synthesis, it was put on hold.
The last thing... what I felt faintly, was that the chimera's intelligence increasing depending on the used material... in other words, the mob's performance was unchanged and the AI could be improved.
It was something like difficulty levels on the computer fighting games, I wonder. At first they're weak, and gradually become stronger. Of course, their abilities don't change and the strength depends on how well the body is handled.
I finished reading the book and spat out a long breath. I glanced at the books on the shelf, while only the titles were barely readable, the contents of the books were still unknown. Level 9 of 【Linguistics】 felt like there's still a long way to go.
"Maybe I should try finding a new book for a change of mood..."
I headed to the library. This time around I left Ryui and Zakuro in 【Atelier】 to watch over it and entered the library alone.
I returned the books I lent out last time at the reception and again aimed for the corner with books about crafting.
Although I knew the approximate location, it took me a moment to search for it. It was a dim place far away from the small window on the bookshelf furthers in the back. I took the book in my hand and headed towards the nearby window in order to read it.
In order to level up I picked up various books, but basically most of them were related to Senses I have. However, if I limit it only to the ones about my own Senses, there surely will be a limited amount of books to read so I read books anyone could have interest in.
After reading several books, the one I took in my hand this time was a book titled 【Pre-cooking technique of special ingredients to draw out the poison】.
What was written in there was a way to handle a poisoned item.
Locations and characteristics of venom glands, ways to judge parts that caused abnormal status by colour. Also, it seemed possible to remove venom glands and eat it.
Suddenly, something connected inside of my head.
The features of the venom glands were similar to that of Rock Crab's meat.
To be precise, when split vertically there was something which seemed like purple blood vessels, I saw that when I was grinding and drying the meat.
If I were to cut it, the poison glands would be damaged and meat would be contaminated. It could also be contaminated by temperature change. In the book it was written how to usually get rid of poison.
"This... can I use it?"
I closed my eyes and reassembled the image.
Make a vertical cut on the Rock Crab's meat, carefully remove the poison glands on the sides as not to damage them. After that, all that's left is to wash the meat clean and craft the Boost Tablets.
There were other books I haven't read yet, but I wanted to try out this piece of information. Feeling like that, I stood up.
I quickly cleaned up the books and borrowed the book about poisons, then hurried back to 【Atelier】.
Ryui who was lying down in a sunny location inside of the store raised its head for a moment and tilted it curiously as I passed by, I entered 【Atelier】's workshop.
I took out the book from my inventory, while reading on poison I took out material and knife.
I vertically inserted cutting edge of the knife made for me me by Magi-san into the meat, opening up the body. This work was much more delicate than cutting chicken's white meat and I ended up damaging it. However, since the venom glands remained, I decided to remove them as practice and continued.
The result was that I eventually damaged three venom glands in the piece of meat. Second time was similar to the first one. The third time went a little better but I let my guard down in the end and damaged the gland.
After that it continued endlessly, I wasted a lot of meat because of poison contamination but somehow managed to remove the venom glands in the end.
Later, I accustomed myself to it after a number of times. In the end, I was accustomed to it enough to have one out of three attempts succeed. I was able to secure some material. Just when I thought that——
『”The 【Cooking】 Sense is level 10 or higher, the number of successful attempts of removing poison from material has exceeded ten times.”』
It was a message I saw before already. I quietly checked on the new skill.
"Looks like it's 《Poison Removal》. A skill that removes poison from ingredients. Whether it succeeds or not depends on the player's level and DEX. Disabled and unusable during combat. Well, it's a crafting auxiliary skill."
At any rate, since I have gotten the 《Poison Removal》 skill, I tried it out on the Rock Crab's meat but...
"Only one out of five succeeded, so doing it manually gives a much higher success rate eh."
That's the result with a low-rank material. I silently decided to manually remove poison. By the way, the material that fails to have poison removed changed into the mysterious damage-inducing item 【Poison】 that I've seen appear when 【Synthesis】 or 【Alchemy】 failed before. Before, it was a liquid, this time it's a strangely-poisonous looking piece of meat tinted with purple. I wonder what's the difference.
I used the 【Dosing】's skill on the Rock Crab's meat from which poison was removed and dried it, then crushed it into a fine powder. Then I took out the Medicine Stone that was already crushed to powder and mixed it carefully making sure to balance them.
"Finally, add water little by little and to bring them together. There."
I poured a little of distilled water on it and quickly mixed, it became a mass. Since it has become a watery paste because the amount of water was too much, it has ended in failure. It didn't settle well if the amount of water was too small either, but it wasn't a big enough problem to mind it.
I shredded the mass I have made in the end into small pieces and shaped them using my palm.
"Last thing to do, casing, I guess."
Although I was able to make the pills after drying them, for the pills taken into the mouth the taste was honestly too awful.
From this point onward it didn't affect the amount of recovery, I coated the still-damp pills in flour to smoothen their texture. Since Medicine Stones and Gallstones themselves felt a bit oily, it adhered to it firmly. And there, I decided to add colouring.
To show the effect in the same way as with Enchant Stones, after they dried I coloured the Boost Tablets made from Rock Crab which increased defence power were dyed with blue which was the colour of DEF's enchant.
What has come out in the end, were vivid-blue coloured pills.
Boost Tablet (Rock Crab) 【Consumable】
A pill created by using Rock Crab as material
"I made it without using the Antidote Grass..."
Although at first I was sceptical whether I really removed the poison, but when it has succeeded, I relaxed my shoulders.
The material's price to effect ratio was good enough. All that's left is to sell it in store for a price that wouldn't disrupt the Boost Tablets market.
"Kyouko-san, are you here?"
"Yes, what is it?"
"Will you do some market research? I want to determine the optimal selling price of Boost Tablets with an effect like this."
"Another new product, isn't it. I understand. Next time I go to town to buy materials I'll take a look."
"Also, could you gather a small amount of monster meat of each kind? As samples."
"Understood. Then, I'll go back to the counter."
As Kyouko-san left the workshop, Ryui and Zakuro entered instead.
"Oh, sorry. I still haven't cleaned up. Hey, Zakuro don't come over here."
As it scurried with its small feet towards the workbench a kitchen knife was on, I picked Zakuro up.
Ryui's gaze was aimed at the end of the workbench where the damaged Rock Crab's meat contaminated with venom glands was.
"Come on, let's go back to the store."
I prompted Ryui and stroked its back, but instead it has taken a step forward.
When I looked there, Ryui has created a water ball and plunged it inside of the container with contaminated Rock Crab's meat, and loudly washed it. From my point of view, it was a surprising sight as if looking inside of the washing machine.
And then, Ryui ate the washed Rock Crab's meat! Heyyy!?
"Hey! That's for disposal! And it's raw too! Spit it out! Come on!"
Although I tried persuading it in a hurry, Ryui munched on it and carefully chewed before swallowing.
"...nothing's happening? The poison wasn't applied has it."
Ryui shuddered to my words, affirming it. Next, I took out a piece of meat out of the water ball and put it in my mouth.
Since it's a crab it probably can be eaten raw. The taste was... so-so, I guess? I thought it would be good to add into miso soup or something. Not wait, not that——
"There's no poison? Why."
Why, although I said that, the answer was obvious. It's probably because of Ryui's ability.
Previously, when I had 【Curse】 applied on me, Ryui healed me with the water ball. It seemed like its effective on the 【Poison】 status.
"Hahaha, what the heck. And here I desperately tried to learn how to remove poison, like an idiot."
The mountain of meat I planned to dispose of has been purified by Ryui's water ball and could be reused. Since Zakuro started to eat it, the amount of Rock Crab meat decreased a little, but I could recover the rest.
Since I had a bit of time, I made a dish using large quantity of Rock Crab meat.
Cooked rice with crab's scallop and crab miso soup, as well as crab salad has turned into a crab menu. Somehow, my acquaintances and regular customers have sniffed it out and ate a cup of rice and miso soup each before night has enveloped the 【Atelier】.
Chapter 3 - The Underground Library and Horror
Since then, I've come to library several times. I left 【Atelier】's sales to the Kyouko-san the NPC and without any troubles I read a book with an elbow on the counter.
I went to the library, read a variety of books, and was finally able to read a book series as thick as a dictionary outside of the crafting books corner.
『Sense Course for Beginners〜 Book About Weapons〜』 in other words, a book about armour, a book about magic, a book about physical abilities, a book about auxiliary operations, a book about daily living and such.
I took various books in my hand while thinking about my own status and playstyle. I looked at the table of contents for the book about weapons, and opened the bow's description.
"『The bow and arrow are two in one, you need to prepare both to use them.』 Ain't that obvious."
As for other valuable information in there, the automatic recovery feature of the arrow has been described. That's all.
Also generally, when the weapon Sense exceeds 30, the Sense derivation will occur.
For example, a sword is derived into a one-handed sword or a two-handed sword, which are two of several types of sword derivations. However, this derivation doesn't consume the Sword Sense to become a different Sense, but rather allows retaining the Sword Sense and acquire a new One-Handed Sword Sense. That's how it is.
In other words, if you have 【Sword Lv30】, it will allow you to equip 【One-Handed Sword Lv1】. In this case, you can continue to use all the Arts one has learned with 【Sword】 Sense.
The 【Sword】 Sense can be equipped and mastered. Because there's a possibility to do that, the taken derivation of the original Sense has low performance. This seems to prove what Myu said from her experience with β version. If possible, then changing a Sense into a derived one is a good idea.
"The derivations ahead are, Long Bow, Short Bow, Compound Bow... there's a lot. My weapon is a long bow, so let's take the Long Bow Sense. Even so, the official book admits there's a low hit rate with a bow as well."
In the book, it's written that the further enemy is, the harder it is to hit him. Amateurs are recommended to use a short bow or a rapid fire bow and proceed ahead starting with that. That's what was written in there.
"Well, I don't feel like changing my weapon. Also, is there any other usable information here?"
Although I skimmed the tables of contents, most of them had 'beginner' in title, all the useful information were the derivations from the initial Senses.
Even as I read the other books, all Senses were derived roughly at level 30.
However, in the book about magic there was additional information on the elemental magic up to level 30.
"My earth element's skills are... 《Bomb》, 《Clay Shield》, 《Mud Pool》. These are the ones I learned so far. Other than that there's 《Earthquake》, 《Rock Burst》 and 《Explosion》 huh."
It's good to learn the description of skills that I'll acquire. The first one I'll acquire will be a skill that makes the earth swell and bulge out, 《Earthquake》. The skill that makes a 1 kg rock explode and scatter around like shotgun pellets , 《Rock Burst》. The last one was an enhanced version of Bomb, 《Explosion》. The skills are learned every five levels.
After reading this far, I think the earth element magic is interesting as well. However, I could understand the reason why it is unpopular compared to other elements.
"As I thought, there's a possibility that earth element skills would inhibit comrades' movements."
Solo-oriented, a magic which seemed like that. I don't know what's the higher Sense magic of it, but it would probably retain the characteristic object-like property and strong interference with the field.
If one uses 《Earthquake》 or 《Clay Shield》 in a narrow space during battle in a party, they can accidentally divide the vanguard and rearguard, it falls into a rather unwieldy category. However, as a solo player, I like it.
"Since it's the type that has an effect on natural objects and the field, I think it's good to slow enemy down and delay them to buy time. It has a good compatibility with me."
My way of fighting is to use surprise attacks, as well as hit & run tactics. Given that, the magic of earth attribute which can interfere with the surroundings is something preferable to have.
"I want to try using the new magic."
I muttered so, closed the book loudly and spat out a sigh. Because my ability to read was still unstable, I was quite tired mentally.
"Wassup. Is Yun in?"
"Oh, Taku huh. Welcome."
Since I closed my eyes, placed a hand on my forehead and looked up at the ceiling, I didn't notice Taku who entered.
After coming, Taku called for me specifically.
"What is it? You told me 'if you have some time then stop by the store' haven't you."
"Yeah, I'm going to put a new item for sale in 【Atelier】, I wanted your comments on it."
"Ah, so it's like that. What kind of item is it?"
"It's a stat-rising pill made from common monster's meat. The price has been decided on already, but I want to improve its usability as much as possible."
"I see. Hey... what's this, it's made from that trash mob Rock Crab material, how did you make it."
He received the Boost Tablets made from Rock Crab, and checked their stats. What pulled him in was the name 'Rock Crab', as expected I thought, but it seemed like Taku didn't know how to make these. Books are really handy things aren't they.
"How did I make it... eh. Well, it's thanks to books?"
Hee, he raised a voice impressed, and after checking the pills he stowed them in his inventory. Then, he looked at the book placed on the counter.
"Is it from that book?"
"No, this is an illustrated encyclopaedia of basic Senses, I guess? I wanted to know ahead how the Senses will look like after I level them and what choices are ahead."
"Hee... I can't read squat."
Taku didn't have 【Linguistics】 Sense so he couldn't read it. However, just by looking at the illustrations he could tell what Senses it was about.
"This one is about shields huh. What's written in there?"
"The basics about 【Shield】 Sense. What Arts can be used with it, and what are the derivations."
That being said, it was only on the basic level, the skills and arts that can be learned by meeting certain conditions weren't mentioned in there.
"Oh, there are all six 【Shield】 Arts. Even so, the ones that are usable are actually only two or three of them."
"Is that so?"
There's a lot of Shield's arts that passively take on the attacks, but all of them seem tricky and interesting. However, in fact half of them are unusable in actual combat, is what Taku says.
"Yeah, if you think only about battling in a party, it's better to have easy and simple Arts to use. There are many with weird effects that take a long time to activate and deteriorate the battle tempo."
"There's a lot of them, so I don't know about that many available Skills and Arts yet..."
"In fact, it's all up to people's own preferences."
He said so, and once again looked at the book's contents, in fact the contents about solo and party combat were different. Especially the Arts that are used in Hate management are useless when playing solo. On the other hand earth element was just the opposite, although the inhibition could have an effect on the party, as long as the effect is under control it's reassuring to have in solo play. Also, combining it with the targeting ability of 【Hawk Eyes】 I could cast it with considerable accuracy, although I still had problems with power and activation timing. However, it was limited to my field of vision.
"I've learned something. Thanks. Sorry to make you think about that."
"Well, these things are a child's play so it's fine, but you would learn more seeing the actual thing. How about you go for some light hunting with me?"
"Ah, sure. Well, I guess it's fine from time to time? But I have a little errand to do before that."
"Got it. And the errand is?"
"I need to return this book."
"I'll go with you then. After that, let's go hunt outside."
Is waiting okay with you? I asked. No problem, when he answered that I took advantage of it.
Hunting with Taku was still too early for young Ryui and Zakuro, so without summoning them I only took equipment I had already prepared and headed to the library.
Although Taku attempted to enter the library together with me, he was asked for admission fee at the door, as he didn't want to pay I told him about the square beside the library as he decided to wait outside.
I returned the book I borrowed earlier, and headed to the crafting books' corner to pick up a new book. This time I picked up a 【Craftsmanship】 Sense handbook, and when I went back to the reception I waved my hand to Taku who was outside the window. And, probably because he noticed, Taku started a conversation through the friend chat.
『"What is it? Did something happen?"』
"No, you were looking this way so I just waved. Did something happen on your side?"
『"I didn't know about this square next to library."』
"I chose a book already so I'll be coming out right now."
『"Got it. I'll wait over here."』
I said so, and hurried to the reception at quick pace to borrow the book, then headed towards where Taku was.
The library's interior had bookshelves installed symmetrically right from the entrance, the bookshelves by the wall were low as not to block the windows, and the bookshelves on the inside were taller. When one enters between the bookshelves, they can feel the tight walls of book approaching them from both sides, it was narrower than it looked like.
In one part of the library there was a door leading directly to the square, I used it to go outside.
"Sorry. I made you wait."
"You took quite a while, is the library that wide?"
"Oh, the part you called me through friend chat is the deepest part in there. It should be that one?"
I said so to Taku and pointed at the window through which we spoke with friend chat. It was the very end of the building. In response to it, Taku tilted his head puzzled.
"Yun. What 'deepest part' are you talking about, was the window adjacent to that one."
Impossibru. The corner with crafting books is in the innermost part. There shouldn't be another window next to it. In the innermost part there were bookcases on the entire wall. There was no space for anything beyond.
"It can't be helped. Let's check it out."
"Check what out..."
"Obviously, what's inside of that window!"
Taku said so, and called me, we peeked in through the window. Certainly, through the third window we could see the place I was in earlier. And when we looked through the innermost window, we could see space that shouldn't be there.
"It's riddled with bookshelves and I can't see well."
"No way, hidden space? Why is such a thing..."
To think there's a place like that inside of the library I'm so familiar with.
"Hey, how are the library's bookshelves installed?"
"They're installed in few columns of tall bookshelves."
Indeed. They're installed like that to make it impossible to see what's behind.
"That's it then. They're making an illusion of distance with all the bookshelves? In order to make people not realize that's the actual size of the building."
"Why would they do..."
Such a thing. I wanted to ask, but Taku raised both of his hands.
"No idea. We can't do anything about it now, let's go hunt!"
"Y-yeah, you're right."
"What's with your disinterested reply. If you're that worried than I'll try researching it a bit. Don't worry. I'll tell you later what's the result so let's go hunt for now."
"I'm not worried. I get it."
I shook off Taku's hand who was lightly patting me on the head, and as if to run away, I started moving my legs faster.
And like that, we went out for some light hunting. I was a little tired afterwards because I had to match Taku's a 'bit too fast' pace.
At first I felt concerned and fuzzy because of the library's mysterious space, but since there was no room for that during high-speed hunting with Taku, I forgot about the library before long.
A few days later, Taku came to deliver the results of his findings.
Summer vacation has ended, but September still displayed signs of lingering summer heat. I fanned my flushed body as I walked towards the school, hoping to cool off in the classroom, my bad friend Takumi approached me immediately in the entrance to classroom.
"Shun. Do you have some time available tonight?"
"What, suddenly coming at me with no greeting. Well, I don't have anything planned."
"So can you leave some time open? The results of the research from before are prepared."
I said and sat down on my seat, then, Takumi hit my desk loudly.
He gave off an atmosphere that hinted an all-nighter to play the game. I judged so. Since summer vacation has ended, we need to fix that lazy attitude and match the school life's rhythm right. And thinking so, I started to listen to the homeroom which has started.
Then, after seeing that Taku has been dozing off for two hours I spat out a small sigh, I need to photograph the notes for him, I muttered quietly. In the end when 'show me' came I spat out a sigh again.
Then, after school finished and I went home a mail from Takumi came with details on the meet-up.
"Uhh... 『I'll pick you up at 【Atelier】 at 10 p.m.』 huh, deciding one-sidedly again."
However, my reply was short. Roger. A single word.
I checked the current time, then made dinner, cleaned up after eating, spend some time for bath and school preparations, when I finished it was about the specified time.
After I prepared dinner in a hurry and the time for it has come, Miu came down from her room on the second floor.
"Yahooo! There's a sweet and spicy chicken for dinner!"
"The dinner's almost ready so go ahead and sit down. I'll be finished here soon."
I cut the chicken, and for finishing touch I soaked it in a soy-based sweet and spicy sauce.
Meanwhile Miu ate the sliced cabbage that was served, and then started to eat the fried chicken dipped in sauce I put down.
"Not everything is prepared yet."
While I was preparing garnish, spinach and miso soup, Miu stuffed herself with rice. Seeing that energetic way of eating I made a bitter-sweet smile.
"Onii-chan, add more sauce."
"My share would decrease then..."
I only made two peoples worth of sauce, since there was no way around it, I poured some of my share into the outstretched bowl.
"Food dipped in sweet and spicy sauce is delicious after all."
"Good grief, make sure to taste it properly."
"Anything that Onii-chan cooks is delicious."
As Miu said with a smile, the uncomfortable atmosphere completely disappeared and I took a bite as well. It was a bit sweet and spicy, there wasn't much of the sauce, just the chicken itself seasoned with pepper and salt was delicious enough.
After the meal we drank tea together, relaxing.
"Haa, this is happiness."
"You're happy with just a cup of green tea. If there were some sweets to come with it it would be even better..."
"No, if you eat too much you'll get fat."
"Don't tell girls they'll get fat! Theeeen, after this I'll come to 【Atelier】 so prepare some snacks! We'll continue the tea party over there!"
"No can do. Also, I've already got something planned with Takumi."
"Mhh... Takumi-san huh... it can't be helped then."
After I said so, Miu quietly backed down. Ohh? I was a bit surprised, but Miu immediately made a bright expression.
"Then I'll excuse myself first."
"Yes yes. Put the cups inside the sink."
I said so and looked at Miu's back who was going into the bathroom. Geez, you could act more calmly in the house. I worried as her elder brother.
After that, I washed the dishes and got in the bath. I went back to my room around half past eight. I killed some time before the appointment for meeting with Takumi by preparing for tomorrow's school, and lied down on the bed leaving well before the appointed time.
I put the VR gear which was beside my bed on my head and started it up. My relaxed consciousness dimmed and sank into darkness because of the hypnotic induction.
When I next woke up, I was inside of a dim stone workshop. From the workshop part of 【Atelier】 which I had set as my login point, I moved out to the store.
Because Kyouko-san the NPC only acted as a salesperson during the day, instead of having it open at night-time, 【Atelier】 door's was firmly locked when the darkness came and a 'closed' sign hung at the entrance.
Waiting by the entrance of the store was a familiar boy.
"Taku, sorry. I made you wait."
"Ah, no problem. You're just on time."
I was a bit worried that I had him wait, but it seemed like I was more or less on time. Taku too, had a radiant smile on his face.
"So, what 『Results』 did you talk about."
"Eh? Didn't I tell you?"
"You didn't, did you. Something about research results, you didn't tell me the reason for calling me one-sidedly. Good grief."
I folded my arms amazed. Trying to recall it, Taku twisted his neck left and right. After a while, he concluded 'probably haven't told you', and wondered 'where to start'. And as an introduction he started to talk about the investigation's results.
"Yun, do you remember when I went together with you to the library? That unnatural space in there."
"Ah, yeah I remember."
"There's a hidden space inside the library's building visible from the window."
"That's quite classic."
In the old mansions and buildings there's a hidden space. It's the type of content that exists in many games.
"So it's an area that can't be simply entered? My 【Discovery】 Sense didn't give any reaction. Or maybe my 【Discovery】 level isn't high enough to give a reaction?'
【Discovery】 is an auxiliary Sense which allows sensing hidden objects and the like, is what I meant. In the library, there was nothing like that. There's a possibility something will be added in future update, but it was still unknown.
"It's a pity. But I have managed to get inside yesterday."
"Well, you'll understand once you come."
With that said, we headed towards the library together, at this time of the day the entrance should be closed... or not?
"Hey, why is it open. This door."
"There's no way we could enter if it was closed, right."
"No, but isn't it closed in the evening..."
"Oh, despite the closing time you're free to go in and out. However, if you try to take out a book from library you'll be forced to pay fines. The resistance is pointless."
"What's that, scary."
"Well, it's a system-based thing. There's no problem if you escape outside without doing anything."
"That sounds even more scary..."
Since I had 【Hawk Eyes】 I could see in the darkness, but there was a certain atmosphere in the library at night. Taku took out a lantern from his inventory and lit it.
And, facing the bookshelf deepest in, when I pressed strongly on the second bookshelf——
"A rotating bookshelf, is it a ninja mansion or what. Moreover, during the day 【Discovery】 Sense didn't react, and now it could be seen clearly."
"Entering is limited from 8 p.m. after closing until 4 a.m. in the morning. If by chance you're trapped inside, you'll be forcibly removed and transferred to the library."
"Hmm. Why is that?"
"When I tried various things which took me entire night, I was removed."
So that's why he looked so sleepy. Hey, if Taku couldn't complete it then I wonder what's in there. I shivered slightly.
And when I glanced inside through the rotating bookshelf entrance, I saw a spiral staircase leading to the basement.
"...hey, is it underground?"
"Who knows, let's go."
"Somehow, I've got a bad feeling."
In a place the moonlight didn't reach, underground the only source of light was the lantern, Taku and I walked down the stairs. And after we proceeded to a certain extent and left the stairs, atmosphere has changed.
The air felt dusty and chilly.
"Somehow, it feels kinda haunted and I don't like it..."
"Right. I think so too, what I investigated yesterday was up to this entrance."
I immediately turned to the right, and tried to run back the way I came from, but my shoulder was caught by Taku and I failed.
"There's no need to be that scared, is there."
"Release me! I've got a bad feeling about this!"
"Well, you're necessary to me though."
Taku said such a thing with no hesitation, but I have no intention of getting dragged into a place with such haunted atmosphere. No thank you.
"I will be going home. Uuu, let's hurry back to 【Atelier】."
"Give up I said, also——"
I didn't listen what Taku was saying to stop me until the end and went back to the spiral staircase. He was holding the lantern, but since I had 【Hawk Eyes】's night vision capability I could go back without a problem. However, everything felt unclear, hazy and colourless.
As I headed to the stairs Taku followed me from behind, when I moved there, ahead was.
In front of the spiral staircase there was a wall, the road we used to come down was closed.
Taku who caught up to me from behind uttered continuation of the sentence I didn't listen to earlier.
"Also——it's impossible since the entrance is blocked by a wall."
Seriously. I tried touching the stone wall blocking the staircase, hitting it, it didn't even budge as I pushed it.
When I took a few steps back from the wall, Taku called out to me.
"Now, let's go back and search the library's underground."
"Why do you look like you're having fun."
Feeling gloom because of the haunted atmosphere I spat out a sigh, and when I attempted to descend down the stairs a light was emitted from the wall behind me.
When I looked back, slipping through the wall was a party which came to this side.
"...ah, eh? M-Myu? W-why——"
"Aah... we've been found! Everyone hide! Hide!"
Why are you here. Before I could say that, Myu released a light sphere from her finger, dazzling me. It's already too late to hide! To begin with, there's nowhere to hide on this spiral staircase!
As I raised my hand to block the light, Taku's eyes adapted to it and he asked Myu the same question I did.
"Eh? Myu and the others. What a coincidence. No way, have you been following us?"
Although Taku spoke as if poking fun at them, several of Myu's party members shoulders trembled. Seeing that reaction, when my eyes got accustomed to the light I stared at Myu intently, although I didn't ask she started making excuses.
"No, that's cause, if Taku-san and Onee-chan are going alone, something's going on! Is what my intuition said."
"I'm sorry, I tried stopping her."
Lucato averted her line of sight and apologized. Well, there's no way around it if Myu strongly insists, but it seemed she didn't want to stop her all that much. I thought.
"Well, explore all you want. I'm going back."
"Why! After putting so much effort to follow I want to go with Onee-chan!"
"No, I'm good. Rather, I'm logging out and escaping now!"
I really didn't want to go, but Myu grabbed my hands not letting me go. Seeing this situation, Rirei's breath turned suspiciously rough which made me want to retort.
"Why is Yun-san so much against it?"
Why, is what Lucato asked Taku.
"Yun is scared of ghosts and the like."
Lucato tilted her head as if she didn't really comprehend that, Hino and Toutobi responded with "so undead-type mobs like those from a haunted house appear here" which was quite accurate.
"Come on, it won't be scary with everyone here! It's okay, it's okay."
"Haa, geez. Why did it turn out like this."
I leaked out a sigh, I wanted to shout at Taku for involving me in such a thing, but I was thankful for Myu and the others to jump in and participate together. With just Taku and me it felt discouraging, but if Myu's here then it'll be much brighter and something to laugh about later.
When we went down the stairs, a sudden quest's announcement has been relayed to each party.
【Quest: Obtain the Underground Library's Treasure】
We stood at the entrance of the underground library. It seems like there was a condition for this hidden quest, Myu and the others felt like going on adventure to explore it, but I didn't feel like it at all.
When we proceeded to library and everyone received a quest, I let out a sigh.
"So, what do we have to do to escape? Also, what was it that you needed me for."
"Rather than treasure, it's escape for you huh. Can you read this with 【Linguistics】? You should be able to."
Saying so, Taku pointed at the letters carved into the stone wall of the entrance.
Myu and the others all looked at it, but since they didn't have the corresponding Sense, they tilted their heads in puzzlement.
"Umm... 『Returned to place with correct colour』 it says."
"So it's like that after all. To put it simply, these are the hints to complete it. It means to find a mismatch on a bookshelf and return it to the matching correct bookshelf."
Oh, I see. So we have to look for a book on a wrong bookshelf and return it where it should be, is what it means. Then, Taku pointed at some spaces on the shelf with books missing.
"Hey, how do you know that despite not being able to read?"
"I investigated it by brute force yesterday. Even if I can't read, I could tell it's probably the type of quest that requires you to place something, but in the end I was stuck."
No, being able to infer that much is amazing right. Is what I wanted to retort, but several people seemed to understand immediately.
"I see, if the right book is placed in the right spot, the bookshelf will move allowing us to progress?"
"Correct. Lucato-chan is very perceptive."
"Thank you very much."
"Grr, even I do know that much."
Myu puffed her cheeks towards Lucato who answered Taku, though, she spoke with a refreshing smile on her face. Sorry, I didn't know.
"And so, to proceed further in I want Yun to help out."
"...in order to escape, I will do my best to help out."
This place had a lot of fine details like spider webs everywhere and piled up dust, in order to escape quickly from this grim underground it would be best to help out Taku. I was not good with the eerie atmosphere of this underground library.
I moved to a single bookshelf in the corner and after finding a single red book, I put it on the bookshelf with missing red books.
It was the so-called tutorial of the underground library's challenge.
"If you can tell the book colours, why were you stuck?"
"I couldn't find the missing book. I must have overlooked it."
Taku responded to my question. So even Taku fails sometimes. I thought that's quite unusual and stared at the moving bookshelf. From here onwards we have to start searching the library seriously.
"So, with this many people, how are we going to arrange the groups?"
Since Myu and us two are in different parties, if it turns into a battle we'll get a penalty for joint struggle if we're not careful.
And what we decided on was, me and Taku, Lucato and Hino, four of us. And the other group was Myu, Toutobi, Rirei and Kohaku.
Although I felt there was a huge bias when it came to fighting power...
"I want to stay together with Yun-san. Also, I want a certain someone to be with us. Ah, we don't need men here so Taku-san can go away somewhere."
"Rirei, what'ya selfish thing ya sayin' with a serious look!"
"I don't want to! Yun-san's side is loaded with things happening! Fufufu, I'll see some lucky lewd situations!"
I wondered what kind of image Rirei has about me. But I was too scared to ask.
And Kohaku dragged Rirei the rest of the way deeper inside of the library. After that Myu followed, and in the end I saw off Toutobi who first deeply bowed her head towards me before leaving.
I turned towards Lucato who smiled wryly and Hino.
"Now, let's go as well."
"E-ehh? Ignored that? Did you completely ignore Rirei's reaction?"
"For us, it's just the usual."
After Lucato and Hino spoke with a smile, I once again realized that it was normal for them.
"Now then, let's g——hiii!"
Seeing a white ghost appear a little bit behind Lucato and the others, I stiffened on spot. Everyone noticed it when the ghost let out a wailing sound.
"Haa, so ghosts like this appear as well."
"That's right. When I was trapped yesterday, I was stuck until the very time limit and saw these ghosts many times."
As Taku said that calmly, Lucato and Hino stared at the ghost with interest, and before long moved their gazes to me.
I, who have stiffened after seeing the ghost, relaxed as tension left me and chuckled.
"It's all right Yun-san. You can't help it that you're bad with these."
Being told that by Lucato, my face started burning hot because of the embarrassment.
"Somehow, I feel like I lost."
I was also called cute by Hino which was extra embarrassing. Also, the sight of Taku looking at that and having fun, grinning was really hateful.
After that, we continued to examine the bookshelves and look for clues we need to complete the quest.
There weren't many books that worked as keys, but we finally found a green book and placed it on a corresponding bookshelf.
"It does seem hard to find the missing books among many books on the bookshelves."
"Well, at least it's comfortable with no enemies coming out."
That's right, since there was no enemies like the white ghost we saw at the beginning, I was at ease if anything.
And, from time to time we could hear footsteps in the distance and sound of wind which seemed like ghost's voice. No, that was definitely not a ghost's voice! In middle of such atmosphere, a sound of footsteps has approached us.
Moreover, it wasn't just a few of them. The footsteps numbered ten or twenty.
"W-what?! What's this voice."
"Yun-oneechan! We found books!"
Pulling a wet sound after them, like wet clothes hitting against one another was a group rushing through the underground library. Myu was coming over with two books in her hands, but what I was bothered about, were the purple ghost-shadoma's that were chasing after them. They had red shining eyes on the sides and a black mouth peeking out which looked like a tear. That Shadoma all chased after Myu through a narrow passage and trampled each other, the sight of them going through on one another had blood leave my face and pale.
"Oooh?! They're still chasing after me!"
"...it's not time to act carefree is it."
Toutobi cut apart Shadomas that approached from behind one after another, not allowing any to approach she continued to defend Rirei and Kohaku who were the rear guard.
"Myu! You'll get it for this laterrr!"
Kohaku directed her anger towards Myu, and Rirei escaped with an unmotivated expression.
"Then, let's wipe them clean. ——《Light Wave》!"
A wave of light was released from Myu and rushed through the narrow space, the Shadomas in the front that were chasing her disappeared, blown away.
As if it was just a momentary illusion.
"Myu! What's the meaning of this!"
When I demanded an explanation from Myu, she held out the books she had in her hand and explained.
"No, um. We found two books and when we were on our way back to rejoin with you, we found a bookshelf with the same colour. And when I put it in, it turned out to be a dummy."
I didn't think that if I put a purple book on a bookshelf with purple books, it would change to yellow. Myu reported with a wry smile.
"Speaking of which, when you place a book on a wrong bookshelf, a large amount of mobs will appear."
"Too late to tell us now!"
I threw a thick book taken from Myu towards Taku's face, but he caught it with ease.
"Geez... but, is there a way to tell apart dummy books and those with spoofed colour?"
"Well, try until it works if there isn't!"
"...Myu. If you're doing that, finish them before returning to where I am."
*Swshh*, Myu saluted cutely, but all I felt was anxiety.
Worried, I gathered everyone's books and divided them by colours then checked the titles, several dummy books have been mixed in. There were black and red books that had the same title. Some of the volumes could be distinguished even without the proper Sense by inscription, but it was impossible to distinguish the ones with wrong titles. If not for the 【Linguistics】, the dummies would cause a considerable loss of time.
"Every time you turn in a dummy ghosts come out, gruesome."
I muttered to myself, and deciding to be sure I don't make a mistake, I went back to searching.
I found a bookshelf with a gap in which a single book could fit, read a number of book titles with 【Linguistics】 and put in a book which seemed to be correct. When I filled the gap on the shelf, the bookshelf has slowly slid to the left. Until the bookshelf moved, I was worried that I might have put in a dummy book, but it seemed like it was a correct one and I breathed out with relief.
Also, Myu and her group went back to look elsewhere, although I heard screams and sounds of explosions in the distance, I didn't bother with it.
"This is another broad location.'
"The objective is to find books in this place, how troublesome."
"In that case, how about we split up and search."
Ahead of the bookshelf which slid to the side, was a maze with a huge number of bookshelves deployed inside, Lucato put a hand on her cheek troubled.
"Then Taku and I will look on the right side, Lucato, Hino, I leave the left side to you."
"Yup. Leave it to us."
We left the search of the wide space on the left to the two, and together with Taku we went to investigate the bookshelves on the right. I went up the ladder that was casually leaning against a passage, and searched every nook and cranny.
And we found a dark grey-coloured book laid down messily on top of the bookshelf.
"That should be it. Taku, I'll reach out to take it so can you hold the ladder?"
I took a step up the ladder leaning against the bookshelf, and after climbing I reached out to the sideways towards the book, I almost could grasp it felt like it was stuck.
"It seems like its stuck. Wait a moment."
I was warned by Taku, but even though I put strength into the fingers to pull the book, it wouldn't come off. I got annoyed and grasped it with both hands, trying to pull it out. That moment——
"?! What... is this space?!"
Darkness spread out in front of my eyes, I felt as if I was floating for a moment, and immediately after my body that was on top of the ladder, appeared on the ground. The height should have been a few dozen centimetres, but unable to respond to sudden event I fell on my knees.
『"Put it away, put it away."』
Somehow, after getting this classic, it has an opposite effect and it's no longer scary."
I recalled the famous 'put it away' chant and turned around, the sight stunned me, what I saw was a book-type mob, Ghost-of-Books which had a full lineup of sharp fangs.
In the pitch black space only the head portion of the book mob continued to speak 『"Put it away, put it away. Put the book away."』, I thought it was quite surreal. But if that was the only thing, it would be nice. Dozens of mobs started to attack me in droves. What I did was——to run away for the time being.
It was considerably scary. Different from fear of ghosts and spiritual things, it was fear of something chaotic beyond human understanding that made me run away.
Seemed like I could use speed enchant even in this mysterious space. However, the mobs which seemed to be still far away slowly closed the distance on me.
"What's this! What the hell's this!"
Not embarrassed nor caring about how I look like I continued to run through the darkness, I wonder how long did it take. I think I escaped far enough. The only thing that answered me was my heart beating strongly in fear of being chased, it's sound had resonated painfully in my ears.
And when I turned around to look behind——the book mob has opened its mouth widely and——
My name was called, and I was suddenly pulled back into reality, the book I was pulling on has slipped out.
The book which was pulled with a strong momentum opened wide, the pages inside were pitch black and from the page's dark space the Ghost-of-Books which as been chasing after me has popped out.
As if that nightmare spectacle I've seen earlier was to continue in front of my eyes.
"Yun! Tch, a mob too."
With the momentum after pulling the book, my body's posture and balance broke, and I swam in the air towards the back. The Ghost-of-Books that jumped out danced in the air, and Taku threw his sword in the air to take it down.
I felt my body fall down from the ladder in slow motion, and I could see that I properly grasped the book with both hands. That's great, it finally came off. Thinking something out of place like that, I prepared for the shock.
Certainly, there was an impact. But it seemed like my back hit the bookshelf behind, and a dull sound could be heard of something reducing the shock, I didn't feel any pain in my back.
"That hurt... Yun, are you okay?"
"Y-yeah, I guess I'm okay?"
"What happened. I tried to calling out to you but there was no reply at all."
"...Taku, how long was I acting weird?"
"About ten seconds?"
The time I experienced and actual time differed. It was more like a daydream, no, to think that the time spent in that nightmare space was only tens of seconds is...
"Yun, are you really all right?"
"Ah, yeah. I was pulled into the quest's gimmick and surprised, that's all."
Probably, that pitch black space had its time stretched out just like the summer camp event had. What was transferred into another field was my consciousness, leaving my character's body intact. And when that ghost book has approached my consciousness was placed back in the character and the ghost appeared outside.
I breathed deeply several times to calm myself. As I felt my heart throb slow down, I picked up the book which slipped out with one hand.
"Yun-san, Taku-san, are you all right?"
After hearing us fall down and cause a ruckus, Lucato and Hino rushed between the bookshelves to us. Seeing us in the state we currently were in, they have quickly averted their eyes. I had a feeling that my face turned red.
"Y-yun-san, also Taku-san. Um, wh-what to say..."
As Lucato spoke hesitatingly, I checked on my own appearance and saw that when I fell down Taku has embraced my body from behind. And I was raising both of my hands. Taku's one hand was wrapping my body at the chest, the other one was supporting my butt. I'm a man, but since my body was subjected to feminine modification, OSO's character editor has rounded certain parts and added certain softness to it. And above all, I had a sense of shame. I instantly brushed away Taku's hands and stood up.
"Taku. Although I'm grateful for helping me, but where are you touching."
"Sorry. But since your balance has broken in the air, I couldn't catch you too well."
Taku stood up, worried about his back which was struck, and went to recover the long sword he threw in order to defeat the flying mob.
I turned away from Taku, feeling my face burn up, and I held the book which slipped off earlier against my chest.
"Geez, touching me in strange places damn it. People are looking."
My mutter didn't seem to reach Taku's ears, but Lucato has heard it. She blushed even further in consternation, and muttered "so it's okay if other people don't see it". No, that's wrong too. Hino alternated between staring at me and Taku, then I felt like I heard a sound of her swallowing her saliva.
"Come on, we've finished investigating here, let's proceed further."
Acting as if nothing happened, Taku went ahead. In fact, because Taku and I are both men, nothing has happened really. Aahh! I'm thinking about strange things. I shook my head once to dispel that thinking.
After that, the search of the underground library proceeded. There was a book ghost that jumped out from a wall of bookshelves, a key book required for proceeding held by the lying down skeleton which has suddenly grabbed our arms, there was a lot of haunted house-like gimmicks. Ahead of us were Myu and the others who continued indifferently. Taku too, when he was grasped by the skeleton he didn't let out any sound, and with a cold gaze he directed towards the inorganic object, he cut its skull apart.
And despite finding several dummies, we finally arrived at the deepest part while holding two books.
"So here's the deepest part. Hey, there's a staircase in the back, can I go back?"
"Before that, there's a pedestal here. We need to examine that first."
Although he suggested that, I was the only one who could examine it. I traced the sentence carved in the rectangular pillar all around it with a finger.
"...『The gold book is the treasure of knowledge. The silver book is the treasure of knowing. Choose one of the two.』 that's it, well, there are two books remaining."
The book Taku held was a golden book with red letters written on it. And Myu was carrying a silver blue with blue letters on it. Both books were of the same size.
"So, which one do we put in?"
It seems like we'll get a reward if we put a book onto it, although the party getting the reward will differ depending on the book we choose, and he asked which one will take it. I myself, was invited to search this place by Taku and just wanted to leave it as soon as possible.
"Hmm. I don't really care, I'll just hand the right over to Myu."
"Yun, are you fine with that?"
"We can just come here again. Next time, we can check the other half of treasure."
At that time, help me out. Taku said so. Go there alone. I wanted to say.
"Myu-chan, which one do you choose?"
"Hmm. Then, the silver one."
No one seemed to object, and Myu put the book on the pedestal, she took a step back and——
"Ooh?! The pedestal moved."
The pedestal with the book on it has sank in, and in exchange a pedestal with something else has come up. It looked like a handball-sized crystal, there were clearly three items listed as treasure of knowing.
The crystals were probably auxiliary items of divination or magic. At the moment, we didn't know what use it had.
"Hmm. The reward isn't affixed to any party?"
"No, even if you ask me, I don't know."
"But if there's multiple of them, we can split them up."
"No, since I don't need it, Yun and Myu's party can split it between each other."
"I'm the same as Taku and don't need it..."
"No! Onee-chan needs to take it! It's because Onee-chan was here we could acquire it! If you don't take it I won't let you out of this underground library!"
"Why turn to threats... haa, fine."
Since Taku rejected the reward, me and Myu's party discussed how to split up the three crystals. Because I was fine with a single one, the result was that Myu's party will divide the remaining two amongst each other——
In the end, Myu took one, and the other one was given to Toutobi.
"Grr, because it's thanks to Onee-chan's 【Linguistics】 we obtained these, she should request more."
"I'm fine with having just one. Also, it's not like we can't get our hands on more of these, just obediently take them."
Not satisfied with the allocation, Myu tried to pass her worth of reward to me, but I gave her a good reason as to why not, and continued to act evasive.
Myu said that it was thanks to my 【Linguistics】 Sense that we obtained them. But there are things I can't do alone. That's why, that crystal should be Myu's reward.
And like that, the night search of the underground library came to an end.
The quest to search the underground library, was one restricted to be done by a player once a day.
Moreover, after some time, the information about a quest inside of the town has started circulating, whether it's fighters or crafters, the amount of people visiting the library at night increased, probably wanting to feel an atmosphere of a haunted house...
Well, since I'm bad with ghosts and the like, I have no intention of getting involved with it ever again.
Chapter 4 - Synthesis and Mob Boom
After I put down the colourless ball on 【Atelier】's counter, Zakuro started rolling it around with its small paw.
It was an item called 'treasure of knowing'. To be precise, it's a consumable item called 【Search Orb】 which can display basic information about an enemy a single time. That's how it was. Taku went to the underground library every night, and came back with samples of the reward.
What else we found out was that the reward was fixed at three orbs. Moreover, the other reward item called 'treasure of knowledge' was a consumable called 【Oracle Orb】. The item's effect was to answer with tips to questions one poses. Personally, I think that item was more interesting, but I've heard that if you pose a question very irrelevant to the game, it will only consume the item. A certain player who accompanied Taku and obtained the 【Oracle Orb】 asked about a certain player's three sizes, I was amazed by that.
"Hey, I think this isn't of any use to a crafter... I'll sell it"
Although I made such a decision without any hesitation, I would probably be scolded by Myu. At the moment, I wanted more money even if just by little a bit, so that I can help funding the crafting guild. Rather than keep unused items, I'd rather sell them to establish some funding.
However, there was a possibility that it'll sell cheap.
"Maybe I'll pass the item to Magi-san and the others, and they can use the money for selling it to help funding the guild."
If it's someone who knows how valuable things are, they might be able to sell it for a high price.
I picked up the 【Search Orb】 which was useless to me and Zakuro was playing with, and stowed it in my inventory. I turned my line of sight away from Zakuro who was tilting its head seeing the ball disappear, and looked at the person peeking in through 【Atelier】's entrance.
Recently, the amount of people quietly peeking inside through the entrance had increased, but those people never come in as customers. Because it's a small store, standing in the entrance they should have been in the way, but honestly, because the amount of traffic wasn't large that wasn't the case.
"Haa, geez. How did it turn out like this."
I asked myself that, but the answer was obvious. Their line of sight was directed towards Zakuro who was letting out a small cry and twisting its neck, and towards the sunny spot where the unicorn, Ryui was swinging his tail in a good mood.
"That's what they call boom, isn't it."
Ryui and Zakuro are rare young beasts I have made my companions in the summer. Other than that, there was Magi-san's Ricœur and Cloude's Socks, as well as Lyly's Neshias. The cute young animals were gathering sight of people wanting them as pets or companions.
And at the same time, people who want pet mobs not for combat, but only for the healing cuteness have appeared. There was a boom for the 【Taming】 Sense which has been dead up until now and the tamed mobs.
If it's being comfortable in touch, then it's the small, fluffy Herbivores as well as Mill Birds that are the most popular ones. Moreover, if one wants a neat and faithful pet, the Wild Dogs which are low level mobs are popular as well.
The people who aren't swept by the mob boom nor pet boom, always secretly observe mobs other players have. Although they seek interaction with young beasts they meet in town...
"Yeah, it's no good after all."
Realizing that one of the observers had taken a step inside of the store, Zakuro hid behind the counter in a hurry. Also, recently Ryui acted similar, probably tired of people's gazes its body shimmered as it hid its body with an illusion.
My Ryui won't let a stranger touch it, Zakuro developed anthropophobia because of an incident with cursed equipment and ran away every time someone whom it didn't know approached. I guess it gave off a feeling of being rare. Although, even if it didn't avoid contact with players, it was already extremely rare.
Other players like Letia who had young animals didn't mind a little bit of contact, what criteria do they use. I wondered.
"Welcome. Do you need anything?"
"N-no, I was just taking a look. I-I'll be going."
Momentarily the person made a regretful expression, but the act of peeping was perfectly known by me already.
Well, I felt that they were quite determined considering they used the 【Concealment】 Sense in order to peek inside while hidden, but because their level was low I was able to find them with my 【Discovery】 Sense.
【Bow Lv28】【Hawk Eyes Lv39】 【Speed Increase Lv22】 【Discovery Lv27】 【Magic Talent Lv42】【Magic Power Lv44】 【Enchant Arts Lv16】 【Dosing Lv23】 【Taming Lv6】 【Linguistics Lv15】
【Alchemy Lv30】 【Synthesis Lv26】 【Earth Element Talent Lv13】 【Engraving Lv1】 【Swimming Lv13】 【Crafting Knowledge Lv30】
Let's not delve any deeper into why the level of 【Hawk Eyes】 and 【Discovery】 increased despite me just sitting quietly, overlooking my workshop.
When I was reviewing my Sense status, I received a friend chat invitation and confirmed who the other party was.
"That's unusual, it's from Minute."
『"Hiii. Hello, Yun-chan."』
"Oh, that's unusual. What happened? What about Taku?"
『"Taku-kun is acting on his own at the moment. I have a little personal favour to ask, can I come to your store now?"』
"Yeah, I don't mind."
『"All right. See you later then."』
She said so and ended the chat. A favour from an unusual guest.
Minute is one of Taku's party members, a blonde cleric-style player. Because I always involved myself with her because of Taku, I wondered what kind of favour she wants. I tilted my neck puzzled, then prepared sweets and tea in order to entertain her.
"Sorry for suddenly coming with a request, Yun-chan."
"Well, I'm a crafter. I welcome all crafting-related requests."
"Hmm. It's not really a crafting request, is that fine? Come on Mami, don't hide there and come in!"
"Is it really okay? Is it all right?"
Minute pushed in Mami who was hiding beside the entrance. Her appearance gently admonishing Mami seemed like that of an attentive older sister. Also, it seemed like the real client of the request this time was Mami.
"Don't stand at the entrance, how about you sit down? I'll prepare tea right now."
"Y-yes, sorry to disturb."
Although she visited many times to buy potions, seeing the little witch act like a small animal made me put on a wry smile.
"Thank you very much."
"These cookies are delicious, Yun-chan. Handmade?"
"Correct. Well, since there's no expiration date and it can be stored in big amounts without going bad, I made a lot of them once before. If you want I'll give you some."
Seeing them enjoy the cookies with tea, my expression loosened.
When I prepare the tea and sat down facing the two, Zakuro went up on my knees and quietly entered the space between my stomach and counter.
"Greed for cookies has come out. Can't be helped, geez."
I brought one of the cookies in my hand and brought it close to its nose, Zakuro opened its mouth and sucked on it. It's appearance holding down the cookie with its paw and eating it bit by bit has caused the atmosphere to turn very peaceful.
But, rather than that——
"Hey, Minute. Can it be that Mami's request is related to the current fad?"
"Correct. You can tell?"
"That's because there are many people coming to 【Atelier】 in order to look."
The person in question was staring passionately at Zakuro and didn't notice our conversation at all.
"So, what do you want me to do? Even if you tell me to teach you how to obtain a partner with 【Taming】 Sense, it's impossible for me."
"I don't think that's it? I don't think she can afford go out of the way to spend SP for a Sense she won't use."
"Then, what is it about?"
"Recently, Mami has been spacing out a lot. Probably her desire is clouding her thoughts. And so, I thought that she might get better if that desire is fulfilled."
"Well, it's not like I don't understand."
When the two of us were talking, Mami, unable to suppress the desire has gently reached out to Zakuro. When Zakuro realized that, it stiffened for just a moment and hid behind my back.
Remaining with her hand still extended, frozen solid, Mami was clearly discouraged.
"...Yun-san, I also want a pet."
She murmured dazedly, in low voice. If possible I'd like to help her but——no, there is a way.
"Is the pet supposed to be used for combat?"
Answering my question, Mami shook her head to the sides so hard it seemed painful. Well, adjusting them to combat seemed difficult, but if all she wants from the pet is cuteness then there should be no problems.
"It will be a disposable mob, but if you're fine with that then it's possible."
"Really? Yun-chan, how is that?"
"It's similar to a crafted item. There's a 【Synthesis】 recipe which can be used to create a slime mob. It doesn't have much fighting force, but won't it be enough as a pet?"
So, what to do? As I asked Mami, her discouraged expression was dyed a little bit red and she happily nodded.
"But in this case, it's going to become a crafting request right? What's the estimated price?"
"Hmm. It's impossible with the crafting kit I'm using now. Since I need to prepare new ones, about 600kG? Because the costs of materials fluctuate, I can't say it's the final price."
"Uh, as expected 600kG isn't an amount that can be paid that easily."
"Because equipment, repairs and strengthening are costly, we don't have the budget."
"I'll pay the 600kG because in the end, it's an investment into creation of synthetic mobs. However, materials will have to be paid for by you. And the payment for job will be... let's say, 100kG?"
"In that case, yes. I'll pay it. Please make a cute slime."
Mami deeply lowered her head.
"For materials, anything you have on hand is fine, it's fine to get the items at the street stalls as well. I'll write a list with the required materials."
Synthesizing a slime required five types of items. Or to be precise, items of five different natures.
One of the items is a mob drop which determines the mob type. Other than that, there are items which can be classified by elements, fire, water, wind, and earth.
If it's the earth element's item, it can be an ore, or a drop from a mob related to earth element. And like that, the created mob's strength will be determined by the balance of the four elements.
I made a list of only simple materials, but if I had higher-level materials I could make a strong mob. Although, limited to slimes.
"...got it. Since we're low on materials, can you give us a day to gather them and bring them to you? "
"In that case, I'll do my own preparations until then."
The discussion between Mami and me ended, although it doesn't need to be said, they passed on half of the pay in advance. I guess I need to do my best.
The savings I have gathered thanks to the recently increased amount of customers have disappeared as I purchased crafting equipment, a synthesis kit. I need to earn some more money, I started thinking so.
"There we go, a synthesis kit for five items."
The synthesis kit for three items was just a fabric with magical circles painted on it, the kit for four items is a lithograph-type. And the synthesis kit for 5 items are stationary lithographs making up a magical circle, it could be only placed in a broad space.
The synthesis' magical circle consists of five vertical and horizontal lithographs, the base material is placed in the middle and the remaining materials are placed in four directions around it.
When I finished placing the lithographs I looked at the cramped workshop. I will need to extend it or maybe get a separate room for synthesis, I thought. Right now, after buying the synthesis kit I don't have money to spare. After placing the lithograph took me an entire hour, I leaked out a sigh.
"Even if I stand here nothing will happen. I should at least make a sample before Mami and Minute come."
Suddenly, I realized that rather than waste material by failing to create the synthetic mob, it's better to practice several times and learn a few things.
Inside of the synthesis' magical circle I put a drop from blue slime, blue jelly. On the four sides I have put charcoal, well water, crow feathers and a stone. These were inexpensive materials I purchased in the city.
"Now, let's do it. ——《Synthesis》!"
I stood beside the synthesis circle and triggered the skill. The MP consumption was much higher than the two and three item synthesis I usually use. The magical circle engraved on stone tablets has absorbed MP, which has started flashing with pale light and raced through the circle. Materials on each side decomposed into particles corresponding to each element and were sucked into the base material in the middle of magical circle, light has subsided a moment later.
"...success, for the time being."
After the pale light which illuminated the workshop has vanished, in the centre of the magical circle was lying a thinly coloured stone.
It was somewhat similar to that of Ryui and others' summoning stones, a 【Nucleus Stone】 which allowed calling out a synthetic mob. This time, 【Slime's Nucleus Stone Lv1】 was created.
"The instructions for calling it out is the same as for mobs acquired with 【Taming】 right, it should be 《Summon》 and 《Dismissal》."
I placed the 【Slime's Nucleus Stone】 on my palm, and called it out.
Momentarily, the stone has released a white light and the dazzle has blinded me. Before the light has subsided, *plop*, something squelchy, a slime organism has wrapped around my hand.
The slime I shook off by waving my hand has slammed into the workshop's cobblestone and splattered out. Mucus that has spread out dragged itself towards the grain-like small nucleus at the centre of its body, and it has come together.
"Uuu, it's a bit different from the slime I imagined. No, blue slimes are like this."
What I imagined was a little bit gummy, stiff one. This one had mucus continuously circulate around the nucleus, making it seem more like an amoeba than a slime.
To speak of its size, it would be smaller than a blue slime. I think using this as a pet requires a considerable amount of knowledge. I don't think this is what Mami is expecting.
"Seems like there's no other way than devise a synthesis recipe."
Once again, I set up the materials and created a synthetic mob. And then, I continued to synthesize the created 【Slime's Nucleus Stone】 with ore-type items.
"...this isn't good. Only its volume has increased. What material would be good to use?"
Ore-type items, wood, herbs, mob drops, potions, I continued to synthesize it with various items.
The mucus base continued to increase its volume as I repeated synthesis, and the base colour of the slime changed depending on the material's elemental attribute. When I synthesized the Nucleus Stone with water attribute item, it changed colour to blue, after converting it into a blue slime. After that I added earth element and it has been converted into a mud slime.
There were many patterns the changes have followed, and it was difficult to comprehend even if I noted it down.
"Mmm... I have no clue. How do I make it into a cute slime."
In front of my eyes, a multi-coloured slime was continuously wriggling. If I were to use onomatopoeia to describe it, it would be 'glcsh' and 'blshsh', I thought with a scowl.
"Yun-chan, sorry to intrude."
"Hello, sorry to bother."
Kyouko-san the NPC already spoke with Minute and Mami, then smoothly guided them to the workshop. When the two entered after collecting materials, each of them showed a different reaction.
When Minute saw the colourful herd of slimes in front of her eyes, her expression has cramped slightly and Mami looked them a bit impressed. Unexpectedly, it might be a idea to bet on them?
"For now, I tried making some samples. How are they?"
Unable to stand it physiologically, Minute moved away until she reached the wall. Mami has hesitantly reached out to one of the slimes, and after patting the squelchy mass with a palm of her hand, she looked up while still squatting.
"Not good. It's not elastic enough."
"So it's that after all."
"No no no, rather, what's up with this disgusting scene."
Turned towards Minute whose face was blue, I said "They are just ordinary slimes, aren't they". I made eye contact with Mami who said "That's right, they're the same as slimes you can find on the plains." as if nothing was wrong with it. Yup, no problem at all.
"Well, seems like Minute turned hopeless, so I'll put them all away. ——《Dismissal》."
Unlike tamed mobs, even large quantities of synthetic mobs aren't a burden as they don't consume any MP. As I picked up Nucleus Stones that rolled on the floor, Minute started to move.
"So, can you make an elastic slime?"
"Hmm. It's difficult for me to do as I am now. Although I tried various combinations, I'm not too knowledgeable yet. There's a possibility that it will be more expensive than the budget we decided on. Still, is that fine?"
"Yes. In for a penny, in for a pound."
Mami strongly nodded, is it all right to use these materials like that? Well, I'll acknowledge her determination.
"Then, how about we try making it together?"
"Making, you say, but neither me nor Mami has a 【Synthesis】 Sense."
"I'll be the one actually activating it, all you need to do is think of combinations and say them out."
"That sounds fun."
Finally, Minute smiled for the first time after coming here. First, I showed the two a basic synthesis procedure, and demonstrated how to make a synthetic slime.
After roughly understanding how does it work, we proceeded to create a new slime from the materials they brought.
"So what you have is a Fire Rat's fang, Gun Fish's Scales, Aero Snake's Skin and a Hobgoblin's Horn. That's quite a high level material."
They were higher level materials than the ones I used.
"If it's these, a better slime might come out. Let's try it immediately."
I placed the items on the magical circle, and triggered the Synthesis skill.
And from the created 【Slime's Nucleus Stone Lv3】, a bigger slime has appeared.
"Hmm. The level is higher, but it's still of the same type."
"Hey, Yun-chan. Do items for synthesis need to be materials? For example, synthesizing multiple 【Nucleus Stones】 with each other."
"Combining slimes with each other to make something like a king slime?"
Minute and Mami spoke. I didn't think of that before. And I placed large quantities of Lv1 Slime's Nucleus Stones on the synthesis circle.
What was created by combining five Lv1 Nucleus Stones, was a Lv2 Nucleus Stone.
Although the Lv1 Nucleus Stones became Lv2, the volume increased. I wonder if the level increased because their experience value accumulated.
"Hmm. It's grown larger, but that's not it. Also, making a different mob is on hold since there's no recipes right?"
"Next, how about we try synthesizing it with things of a specific element? Since there's already a Mud Slime, we could try merging Mud Slimes with each other, or synthesize them with ore-type items. I think we should take that approach if we want to make it more elastic."
"Understood. Let's try mass-producing Mud Slimes with a variety of ores. Also, what I want to try out would be——"
I used the idea of using 《Synthesis》 on multiple nucleus stones, and came up with an idea of using 【Alchemy】's higher conversion on them. I brainstormed with Mami and tried out many things.
The results that have come out, were 【Mud Slime Lv3】, 【Sand Slime Lv1】 and 【Huge Slime Lv1】.
As I continued to synthesize various materials into the slime's base, its level and volume increased.
The result of continuous synthesizing the Mud Slime with ore-based materials, was a change in its constitution where mucus has changed into sand. A Sand Slime could hardly be called a slime at this point.
And 10 of 【Slime's Nucleus Stones】 fused with Alchemy resulted with a Huge Slime.
Like that, although we managed to create new types of slime, none of them had the elasticity and didn't fit the image Mami had.
"Hmm. The Sand Slime's surface is hard, but that's not it."
After touching the sandy surface I felt a fine sandy texture, but it was continuously flowing. Also, the Huge Slime was big enough to swallow a person whole, after summoning I returned it back into Nucleus Stone in a hurry.
"If ore-type materials are no good, what do we use. Aahh, my brain's tired!"
Although I tried numerous patterns, I wasn't able to make something decent enough. Maybe I should try herb-type items, maybe mix it with potions, or should I try synthesizing it with a weapon. I continued to ponder endlessly.
"Hey, don't you have anything that solidified liquids? Something like jelly, or a pudding."
"Jelly and pudding huh. Well, I do but..."
I took out a Blue Jelly which was crafted from Blue Slime's drop.
"Blue Gelatin is a cooking ingredient, but let's try it out."
A little bit tired, Mami was playing with Mud Slime and Sand Slime by poking them with her finger. She looked back at the blue powder which worked as gelatin, but didn't seem to expect much.
I too, had no longer anything to lose and placed blue gelatin as to surround a single Nucleus Stone.
In response to my words, the Slime's Nucleus Stone turned bluish. However, rather than turn into Blue Slime's Nucleus Stone it as turned into something different, a 【Gel's Nucleus Stone Lv1】.
"No way. ——《Summon》"
Mami, not bothered with the displaced three-cornered hat and glasses, opened eyes widely and scooped the jelly with her hand. She used her entire palm to check how pleasant it was in touch, and enjoyed the elasticity under her fingertips.
"I want this. Thank you, Yun-san, Minute."
"You're okay with that then. What about size and colour?"
"Then, a bit larger please."
In response to Mami's words, I continued to synthesize the 【Gel's Nucleus Stone Lv1】 for size adjustment. In the end, it has ended up being of a small cushion's size.
"Hey, I got an idea when I saw that, how about we prank someone with this?"
Both Mami who was holding the completed Gel against her chest, and I who have been stroking Zakuro and Ryui whom I have summoned, have tilted out heads.
"Like this, ———"
After that we listened to Minute's proposal, and thinking it was interesting, we decided to put it in practice immediately. Because the amount of materials we had was a bit insufficient, the two went to hunt and shop for some and I proceeded with preparations.
The details of the prank, was to have slime resemble food and have it move right before the target eats it. The targets are the usual party members, Taku, Gantz and Kei. Targeting the three men, we proceeded with the preparations.
I synthesized a Poison slime by using poison extracted from poisonous herbs and light element materials, I put it into a pot with soup——creating a Sweet Red-Bean Soup-style Slime.
A colourful Gel nicely boxed like a frozen desert——Water Bun-style gel set.
Sand Slime and Gel that was similar to soy bean flour——Kudzu Starch Cake-style Slime.
A three-coloured Gel that was similar to a dumpling——Dumpling-style Gel.
The last one, was a colourful chaotic slime plunged into a pot——Darkness-style Slime Pot.
We had too much fun making it, making pretty food samples was really interesting. It was a little bit different from crafting, but making something in a noisy atmosphere was pleasant as well. And as for the further 100kG of expanses, they were paid by Mami and Minute, so the amount I spent remained at 600kG for the crafting kit. I told them that payment for work was just a bonus, but in the end I settled for the 100kG we initially agreed on.
"All right, now that the preparation's over, let's carry it to the store."
"We properly practised the instructions, let's see their surprised faces."
The moment I imagined what kind of stupefied expression Taku will make, thought it would be fun. Well, since overdoing it would be a problem as well, I made preparations to properly show off the synthetic mobs, Slimes and Gels.
When I stuffed the prepared dummy food into the wooden box and carried it to the counter, the preparations have been finally finished.
"Okay, we'll call them now."
"Yeah, please do. Also, I guess I need to prepare some drinks too."
In two types of containers I have put respectively a Paralyse Slime and authentic Lemon Squash, finishing the preparations. I thought, but since I forgot about something important, I went back to the workshop.
There were no spoons, forks and chopsticks that were required to eat. Because it's fake food, I forgot about it, but it cannot be eaten without tableware.
And when I came back from the workshop to store part with the necessities——
"Ohh, Yun-chan, I'll go ahead and pick something."
I stared at the object Gantz picked up with his fingertips.
He picked one of the Gels that were pretending to be Water Bun's, unworried about tableware and swallowed it.
The synthetic mobs are very artificial and disposable. That's why they faithfully obey commands and instructions, on the other hand they don't take any independent actions. And as such, it was unable to run away, unable to take action——
"Ohh, it's not that tasty. I've heard that the three of you girls with Yun-chan's lead made candies, but appearance aside, taste isn't so good. In particular, this bad taste must be Minute's creation."
Shock, is what my face expressed, now you've done it, I felt like saying to Gantz, but I couldn't do it. They were supposed to move in unison when Taku, Gantz and Kei were about to eat them at the same time. And yet, Gantz went ahead and ate it not noticing anything.
"Hmm. This red bean soup. When I tried licking it earlier, it seemed to be poisoned, so it's Minute's failure which causes abnormal status huh. So to say..."
"H-hey, Gantz? W-where's Taku and Kei? Wasn't Minute and Mami supposed to call them?"
With my voice trembling, I finally managed to ask why was Gantz alone.
"Ah, since Kei found an item he wanted on the stall, they're negotiating a price cut. Since I hate taking time when shopping, I went ahead. They should be coming soon?"
Immediately after he said that, a friend chat from Minute came.
『"Sorry. Gantz headed to the store alone. Try stalling him for a while."』
"Ahahaha, sorry. The moment I looked away he ate some of the cooking."
Even now, he was drinking up fake Lemon Squash which was in fact a Paralysis Slime.
Heck, despite having high viscosity, this guy still doesn't notice.
"Buhhaa! The carbonated feeling of a carbonated drink makes me feel as if my throat and stomach went numb!"
No, they really went numb! Does this person really not notice it?! Maybe it's a prank to surprise me instead?! What should I do, when my heart was pounding hard as I thought, Minute and Mami came back, pulling Taku and Kei. I just have to do what has to be done, I thought.
With a single word said by me, the slimes which were included in the dishes and the pots have jumped in unison. Although I wanted to include Taku and Kei as well, but I couldn't allow Gantz to eat any more of the fake food, and activated the gimmick with only Gantz as the victim.
In fact, the Gel which jumped has hit Gantz's forehead and left a small mark, a large amount of colourful mucus has fell in his surroundings. Not only Gantz became a victim of the spectacle, but also Taku and Kei opened their mouths from their position at the entrance.
When I activated it, I wondered if the slime Gantz swallowed will choke him to death or crawl out, but it seemed like it has disappeared inside of his stomach.
Then, Minute exploded with laughter and Mami glanced out from behind Kei.
After the prank was spoiled, Taku and Kei put hands on their chests relieved that they haven't become the victims.
"Woah, dangerous. No way, I'd never think that Yun would set up a prank."
"No, it was Minute's proposal. Well, I guess I wanted to have a payback for earlier too."
I responded to Taku, and once again summoned some of the Slimes and Gels.
"Really, not noticing its fake and eating it. Gantz is such an idiot."
"What are you saying, Minute. There's no way I'll notice when they're so neatly served."
"No, I actually suspected that you noticed and ate it despite that."
Mainly, because of the comedic bodily reactions of his.
"As if I would do that!"
And the number one victim actually said "In a certain meaning, it's a nice position to be in" not bothered. Originally it should have been a lighter prank, but the person himself has delved deep into it, I was relieved that he wasn't all that bothered.
"Even so, it's well made, Yun."
"Well, since they're disposable I wanted to make them as pets, but synthesizing various things turned out to be really fun."
As Taku spoke, I responded slightly embarrassed doing something so childish.
Mami was tired of our conversation, and put the Gel on her knees, enjoying the elastic feel. Until now, it was hidden in her triangle hat, called by her it has dragged itself out from inside. Not only I was surprised, but so was Kei and Minute. In the end, it felt like Mami pranked everyone. When the hidden Gel moved out a little from the hat, "Heyy", Mami used ventriloquism. Then, Kei sank to his knees and covered his face, his shoulders trembling as if he tried to endure something.
"Hey hey, can I touch it? I want to touch a Slime."
"It's not a Slime, but a Gel. It's different from a Slime."
"Don't mind the details. It reminds me of slime I made when I was a kid."
Gantz stretched out his fingers to the slime as if nothing was wrong. Barrage of hits, a barrage of hits sending things fly, when I recalled that while happily looking, momentarily a familiar phenomenon has occurred.
Mami's Gel's HP has decreased slightly. And Gantz continued to stab his fingers into it not taking any notice.
"———!! Gantz! Stop touching it!"
"What? Yun-chan, are you jealous?"
The quiet murmur, was let out by Mami. The pierced Gel lost is viscosity, melted, and turned into particles.
"Retard. You're a martial artist aren't you."
Gantz's Sense configuration was one that allowed him to fight in proximity mainly with his bare hands. One of its characteristics was adding damage judgement to his barehanded attacks. The act of poking the Gel was an attack action, and even if he held back when touching it multiple times, the chain attack has stacked up and Mami's Gel HP disappeared because of the damage.
"Yun-chan, can you help me punish Gantz a little?"
"Sure. Geez, just what the hell is he doing."
Seeing Mami's stunned, pained expression, I frowned. Taku and Kei too, have stared accusingly at Gantz.
"Eeehh?! M-my bad! Sorry!"
"Let's try fixing that broken brain of yours with shock therapy."
I cast an enchant increasing Minute's attack and speed stats. Although Minute is a mage, she swung her weapon – a mace at Gantz's head with all her strength.
Her swing was aimed so that he would be hit and flew outside through the store's entrance, right into the street. Although he could have easily avoided that, he understood that doing something unnecessary like that would make this situation turn worse. At the moment of receiving the attack, he jumped back slightly to passively reduce the damage.
"Tch! I intended to kill him."
"I said sorry! Please forgive m——"
Gantz got up, bowed his head and tried apologizing, but a heavy sound of something cracking came from his head and his movement stopped.
"Nice assist, Yun-chan."
"I'm angry too, since something I made was broken."
I've passed Mami the pet, it was the same as with the consumables. However, because of how we struggled with the creation process, and its pointless destruction in just a moment I got angry as well. Right now, I threw a 【Paralysis 4】 drug. Unable to move, Gantz thought that Minute would dispose of him, but previously stunned Mami moved and stopped us.
"Mami, you want this to stop? This idiot's punishment?"
"No. I'll do it myself."
Those words were said with a clear, cold tone of voice. Yup, seems like support is not needed here.
"W-wait a se..."
"《Enchant》——Intelligence. Also this, your INT will increase even further."
In addition to magic attack power increasing enchant, I handed an INT-increasing Boost Tablet to Mami. She swallowed it, and quietly closed her eyes.
"Ohh, she's going to cast the one with highest firepower."
"Mami is a typical mage. Well, she's usually saving up her strength. It doesn't fit her personality so it doesn't stand out but..."
Mami quietly opened her eyes, and poised her staff against Gantz who stood in front in anticipation. Seeing that, Gantz's face turned blue and he took a defensive posture.
In other words, an air gun. Although wind element is quite moderately powered magic, this skill had more than twice as much power than normal, and an invisible shell has sent Gantz flying.
"The 【Meditation】 Sense increases MP recovery rate and power of the next released magic. Moreover, there's Yun-chan's enchant and stat-enhancing item. That's some amazing firepower."
I couldn't tell since there was nothing I could compare it to, but the wind that came from impact's aftermath has thrown my long hair out of order.
Mami didn't even look at the result, cast the magic towards the back and pressed her head against my chest.
"Is it fine now?"
"Please make me another one. A cuter one."
I was a little bit nervous with a girl so close, but when I thought of her as of little sister I no longer felt anything. I lifted her hat and patted her head, a little embarrassed.
After that, Kei and Minute comforted her by inviting to eat some sweets to improve her mood.
Gantz's lowered his shoulders, Minute laughing hard at the state he was in, hit his back several times.
"Really stupid. But that was super amusing! Oh, Yun-chan, thanks. It's been a while since I had this much fun. This, your reward."
The blonde beauty exploded with laughter, just what was so fun about it, I didn't know, but I was surprised to get money as a reward.
Well, it should be fine if I think about it as of compensation for destruction of synthetic mob. Also, it was true that I needed money.
"Yun-san, please make me a new one. Ah, of course, Gantz will pay for the pet."
"So I have to pay for it after all, huh. Tohoho... hey, Yun-chan, can you make me a pet as well?"
"...what? You want to destroy one again?"
In response to to my cold gaze, "No!" Gantz raised a voice of protest.
"Since I learned my lesson with Mami's Slime, I'll make sure to go easy on the pet! I'll properly pay for it!"
"Haa, well. It can't be helped then. I'm going make it after I finish Mami's Gel. Any requests for your pet?"
"Hmm. First, make it that it won't die! Next, one that won't be bothered even if it's damaged."
Even though he said that, right now what I had in the store were only Slimes and its relatives like Gel.
"Then this. 【Huge Slime's Nucleus Stone Lv3】. It has physical damage received reduction and a lot of HP, but aside from that it has no other features."
"All right! I'm buying it!"
And so, I passed it to Gantz for an appropriate price of 100kG.
The Huge Slime Gantz called out was a pale green slime a bit larger than an adult man. Gantz prompted it "Come on", with his arms wide open, he called the slime with benevolence in his eyes.
Although it was a response akin to that of calling a new puppy, but the AI was very artificial. Gantz faced it and touched the enormous slime mob. As a result——
"Woah, wa—! Wait!"
"Ahahahaha! My stomach hurts! He's inside of his own slime!"
Holding her belly, "hihihihihi", Minute's shoulder trembled from laughter. She seems to be having fun.
My hunch was right, and I looked at it with a difficult expression. Gantz called slime to come to him. Although a normal mob would have stopped after walking to some extent, the result this time was Slime continuing to come and swallowing Gantz whole.
"Dammit! I'll definitely master your usage!"
"I'm glad that I chose a small Gel."
Gantz was swallowed by his own pet, seeing his appearance struggling to escape, everyone made a different reaction.
Taku said "Retard", and smiled wryly. Minute burst into laughter, and Mami strongly reminded me that she wants her pet in a handy size.
"I give up, give up! Help!"
"...hey, why won't he use 《Dismissal》. Or maybe log out?"
In the end, the situation was resolved by Kei's calm words.
Gantz was revived after a moment and calmed himself down. I'll definitely learn how to handle the Huge Slime. I watched over him warmly as he expressed his determination after showing disgraceful behaviour.
After that, Taku and others gathered, undertook a quest and left through 【Atelier】's entrance.
Then, I went to create the synthetic mob I was asked to make by Mami.
Chapter 5 - Resale and the Crafting Guild's Concept
Because of testing various patterns and creating large quantities of the synthetic Slimes and Gels a while ago, I used a lot of materials at once and a problem has emerged.
"Haa, I didn't think that a time will come where I'm out of materials and have to get them on my own."
I stepped on a blue slime with my shoe, and stabbed the nucleus with a knife. Most of these slimes drop a Blue Jelly material after dissolving.
Since Blue Jelly was the most important item required to synthesize a slime, as well as to create Blue potions from now on, I had to secure the material no matter what.
Compared to before my level and equipment was much better, and my attack power has increased. Still, the bow's point attack wasn't suitable for hunting slimes. Equipped with 【Cooking】 Sense, I continued to hunt them with a knife.
As I continued to hunt indifferently, the excitement of being in battle disappeared and it turned into a simple task. Originally, the low level mobs had higher numbers and spawn rate than normal, so as I hunted them solo, before I wiped them out new ones have already spawned.
"...haa, I got 3 of slime's rare drops huh."
Although what I was hunting were Blue Slimes, there was a rare drop other than Blue Jelly dropping from it. It was a 【Slime's Nucleus】 item, which was a shared drop from all slime species.
It was an item reinforcement material, although it didn't give any effect when placed in a weapon; in armour and accessories it had a very small effect 【Damage taken reduction (minimal)】. However——
"After defeating 378 Blue Slimes I get 4 of them huh."
The probability of dropping was around 1%. Well, since its a rare drop from mobs that are defeated en masse, these could be found at the street vendors and bought on the market for 10kG. The accessories with its additional effect were sold for about 100kG, it's a staple connecting many of the beginner's equipment.
"Haa, well, it has other uses than making accessories with them."
On top of granting an additional effect to accessories, it was a synthetic material necessary for improvement of the AI for synthetic Slime and Gel mob species I created the other day.
By synthesizing 【Slime's Nucleus】 with either a slime or gel synthetic mobs, it was possible to improve them, but not their levels but AI itself. In other words, it's something like AI of enemy in a fighting game, in a mirror match between two same characters, a superior AI will have higher winning percentage. It was the same for synthetic mobs.
Well, as I said many times before, it can get stronger but it'ss limited to slimes.
And like that, the material I obtained after spending a lot of time could be used in few ways, but mostly its effectiveness was low.
"Fuu, maybe I should leave it at this for today and rest a little."
Since the hunting ground wasn't far away from the town, I returned back to the town's entrance without hurrying too much. Halfway back, I saw players on the stairs at the boundary between the plains and north-eastern forest, and understood that it was Cloude's dungeon that had its entrance near the town. Although I roughly knew where was it, it was my first time seeing it.
I returned to town, and deciding to take break at Cloude's 【Commonest Café & Clothier】, I headed over there.
After the recent update which changed the【Cooking】 Sense, he was able to get a hold of a crafter who had 【Cooking】 and proudly boasted of the store starting to operate as a café. The form it took was a joint operation of Cloude who was responsible for managing the clothing store part and another player. Speaking of store ownership, I guess Cloude was the owner. I walked towards the open terrace-style café.
"Welcome. How many seats?"
"Oh, only one."
"Then, I shall guide you to the counter seats."
Since I was alone, I have been guided to the counter seat. It was first time I have received a coffee café service after coming to this store.
I wonder if that's an NPC? I wondered for a moment as the female player politely guided me to the counter seat as a part of customer service.
Naturally, my gaze wandered in a certain direction. On the counter seats there was Cloude in waiter clothes of chic design matching the store's atmosphere, and Lyly.
Noticing my gaze, Lyly waved towards me with his hand grandly wanting me to come over, it was abrupt but I asked for an adjacent seat.
"Understood. Please use this counter seat then."
Since on Lyly's right there was Cloude, as if sandwiching him I sat down on Lyly's left and greeted them.
"It's unusual for you to come to Cloude's store, Yuncchi."
"I wanted to see how the café is like. Also, I wanted to talk about the 【Search Orb】 and the guild's funding."
Creating synthetic mobs at someone's request, a lot of gold was spent, as expected members from a highly skilled party right. Spending just 500kG to create a synthetic mob was quite reasonable.
The breakdown for that, was Minute's 150k surprise payment for success, Mami's 250k of payment for the pet. And Gantz's payment for his pet, 100kG.
I'll take what's given to me, and use it effectively.
"And so, I have prepared 500kG, for how much did you sell the 【Search Orb】?"
"Kukuku, listen and be surprised! Somehow, it went for 200kG."
"Hee, you sold it quite expensive."
I left the 【Search Orb】 I had with him, told him to find out its price and sell it.
Taku also got some from a quest, but wouldn't let go of it. Speaking of number of those existing, it could be called rare, but it's effect was very subtle. Still, for it to go for 200kG... I expected 100kG at best.
"I showed it to a few parties and had them compete over it. Well, there were parties with a good and bad reaction to it though. Also, they said that if another one appeared they want to rotate turns to get those."
"That's impossible. So I see. It turned into gold huh."
If that's the case, I'll do the quest every nigh... no, it's impossible after all! I don't feel like going to an underground library that has a ghost infestation.
"Yuncchi? Is that not a crafted item? Or is material rare?"
"I will exercise the right to remain silent."
"Well, if that information gives you an advantage, I won't ask."
I was a little relieved when Cloude finished the topic with these words. However, seeing that, feeling mischievous he raised his index finger and started speaking.
"However, if it's information, then I do have some as well. Oh right. The location you were recently going to——the library. Fuu, looks like I hit the mark."
"I want to know why do you know about what I've been doing recently, also, how were you able to pin point it so accurately."
"Hm, I can tell that it's not a crafted item going by the fact that you exercised the right to remain silent. Moreover, when I was determining a price there was no price indication on it. And so, I thought it's probably not something one can purchase from NPC. If it were purchased, there would be a minimal price indication. In that case, rather than being something which requires collecting materials nor being something which requires combat abilities, it had to be a quest inside of the town. And thinking about the recent actions you were taking, it came to me naturally."
"Kurocchi, you're just like a detective."
"Seriously, how come you know that much."
With this, I started doubting if rather than his brilliant reasoning, he knew about it since I've been monitored. Well, there's no way that's true is it.
"Well, even if I know the location, I couldn't find the quest. I would rather get the information without having to search for it."
Cloude ascertained that dryly, giving up.
In the end, the amount of gold I gave for funding the crafting guild was 500kG and 200kG from the 【Search Orb】.
"Haa, the total is 700kG. It's a great help to get a comparatively large funding like that. And, you could help me to establish my cosplay café——『"I won't, geez."』——"
I refused, not allowing Cloude to finish and momentarily made a cold expression.
"Why! I can prepare a miniskirt police costume immediately! You'll act as a set with Lyly!"
"Why are you partnering me up with Lyly. And why did you choose policewomen, both Lyly and I are men."
"As to why I partner you up, that's because having a duo of miniskirt policewomen is a classic. A dark blue neck-tie on white shirt, wearing armbands, the dark blue miniskirt making up the absolute territory when you bend down, making it unclear whether it can be seen or not! Then, arrest the perpetrators, put handcuffs on them... it's romance!"
He took a breath by the end, exhaled, and spoke to me with a confident expression.
The woman who acted as the waitress saw it. The player said "Don't bother the customers that much". Then she held his arms behind his back, locking them in a hold.
"Uuoo?! Wait, that's obviously too strong!"
"Come on, you wanted to be arrested by police right... the criminal is secured, see?"
"I give up!' the large adult tapped the counter seat, and managed to get released.
The waitress, acting like nothing happened with her dress spotless waited for us to order. Her service had a very professional feel to it, and I felt something like respect seeing it.
Leaving Cloude's treatment aside, the café had a calm atmosphere even in VR, and could offer proper service. I too, started to long a little towards having a different kind of store from 【Atelier】.
"What did you choose Lyly?"
"A short cake and tea set."
"Then I'll take gâteau au chocolat and café au lait. If it's this, you should be able to eat it."
"Thank you, Yuncchi."
"A shortcake set and gâteau au chocolat sets, yes? Understood."
The waitress took a step back and lightly bowed her head. Then as the preparations behind the counter proceeded, the aroma of tea and coffee has reached us.
The cake, was in an item box. No, it was a showcase-type item, since it was prepared beforehand the wait time wasn't long.
"I apologize for the wait. Short cake set and gâteau au chocolat set."
"Thank you very much. Let's eat."
I thanked the waitress, cut out a bite-sized chunk from gâteau au chocolat with a fork and put it in my mouth. I enjoyed the slightly sweet modest chocolate taste and moist texture, then I washed away the sweetness with café au lait which had bitterness softened with milk.
"Yuncchi Yuncchi, let's exchange."
"Sure, go ahead and eat my cake."
"Thanks. Then, I'll help myself."
Lyly cut my cake with his fork, and ate it with gusto.
"Then, your turn next Yuncchi. Aaann."
Lyly cut the short cake with my fork right in front of my mouth, and I reflexively bit it. There was the strawberry's acidity and the fresh cream's sweetness, while enjoying the softness of sponge dough I chewed on it. I placed a hand on my mouth and swallowed the cake, after which I enjoyed the aftertaste with my eyes closed.
"...Kuro-san, what is this girl. She's seriously dangerous. She's so charming just looking at her makes my heart pound like mad."
"Indeed. She's one of models that caught my eye."
"I've been always thinking that your behaviour is sick and ignored it, but just now I can sympathize."
Hey, you there café owner and employee, what are you saying. And I noted that the waiter on the other side of the counter smiled wryly.
"You will definitely become a wonderful and undefeated model. That's why you should wear equipment I made ."
"Don't talk as if I was some lame magical girl. Also, I'm not a model. Do you really get customers despite acting like that?"
I spat out a sigh and looked at Cloude, but he himself made a gesture telling me it doesn't bother him.
"After much trouble this store started to function as a café, yet no people are coming. Honestly, since I keep drinking coffee in my free time, my stomach is starting to bulge out because of it."
"The atmosphere's good, does that little people really come?"
I looked around the store with a very few people. I too have been feeling quite lonely in 【Atelier】 until recently, Cloude relayed to me what was the current situation calmly.
"Hmm. The 【Cooking】 Sense has been more recognized after the introduction of satiety system, but putting it the other way around, it was the only change. Everyone is satisfied with just having a stable supply of stat enhancement food."
"What a waste. Even though this modern feel is nice."
"On the other hand, hobbyists who enjoy the atmosphere do come but... so you're that worried about the store eh. In that case, how about you wear maid clothes and attract customers?"
Holding a conversation like usual, we enjoyed our time until our drinks were exhausted. Then suddenly, when I looked sideways at Cloude, I felt that I saw a shadow on his face.
"...hey, Cloude. How are the preparations for the crafting guild? Is there anything you're worried about?"
Ever since earlier he was covering it up with jokes, but the shadow seemed to be there after all.
"...haa, I guess. It should be fine to tell you, Yun."
Cloude received an eye contact from Lyly, and looked away uncomfortable, then said what was the reason for it.
"For the time being, we have reached our goal for funding the guild. We have secured the land and employment of NPC's is going well. However, there is one thing, we weren't able to prepare the most important thing."
"Important thing you weren't able to prepare?"
What can be that important?
"That would be the 【Guild Emblem】. It's a special item required to establish the guild system. Without that, we're unable to start a guild no matter how ready everything else is."
"Ah, the thing you can get by doing the guild quest?"
I felt like I've heard a little about it, and pulled out my faint memory.
If they don't have it, they can just do the quest right. Although I tried to say that, I was interrupted by Lyly's words.
"Yuncchi, we're crafters. We aren't too good in combat. That's why Magicchi tried to purchase the 【Guild Emblem】 but..."
"It started with a single reseller, and then it was bought out by a reselling guild. At first it cost 1mG, the price started growing and currently reached 4mG. Moreover, all players' levels rise, and communities are being formed between parties increasing the demand for guilds."
Lyly stared worriedly at Cloude who squeezed his first with a chagrin.
"If I bought it at the very beginning... no, if I obtained the 【Guild Emblem】 from the player selling it when I noticed the price is starting to rise, it would have been still okay. But now if I go to the player and ask him directly, the request fee for him to obtain it would be too high. Moreover, it's difficult to buy it off the market. However, we can't leisurely wait for the prices to drop."
Lyly and I stared at him anxiously, but it seemed like Cloude hasn't given up yet.
"That's why, Yun, Lyly, help me out."
"Yup, let's do our best together, Kurocchi."
"If there's anything I can help out with, then whatever you say."
What I said to Cloude wasn't a lie, it was how I really felt. I too looked forward to the creation of crafting guild.
"The funds we have to purchase are 3mG. In order to buy the 【Guild Emblem】 which costs 4mG on the market for 3mG... we need to look around and find a stall which would sell it cheaper."
Cloude declared strongly.
"And the ones to look around are Lyly and me?"
"That's right. I'm included as well, so me, Yun and Lyly. I'm going to pass the ownership to that female waitress over there for now."
At least call me by my name. The female waiter raised her voice from behind the counter which Cloude brilliantly ignored.
"Let's conduct a frontal assault and find the cheapest 【Guild Emblem】 possible. The budget we can provide is 3mG after including Yun's funding. I want to buy it as cheap as possible."
"Were you unable to buy it at higher price at earlier stage?"
Even without doing something that troublesome, you top crafters should have enough money right? I thought, but to his next words I looked up to heavens.
"We can't let such info out there. The reselling guild will raise the 【Guild Emblem】's price even further. Earlier, the information that we want to buy it leaked out, and the resale guilds started raising the price. We're still not in a guild, and as such we lose when it comes to financial strength. The result is the current price of 【Guild Emblem】."
"Even so, for resale guilds to continue endlessly buy up【Guild Emblems】..."
That's impossible. I wanted to say so, but Cloude stared straight at me, so I refrained myself from speaking.
"The purpose of resale guilds is not infinite collection of 【Guild Emblems】, but sabotaging and delaying the founding of our crafting guild. To begin with, resale guilds buy up cheap items and sell them expensive for profit. What would they do if a crafting guild suddenly appeared and started to sell items on the market for a reasonable price."
"Well, they wouldn't sell. Oh, so that's why they're sabotaging it."
"That's right. They started raising the market price of it when they realized the purpose of the crafting guild. At first they were able to profit from the 【Guild Emblems】, but currently they must be making a loss on those. However, while the crafting guild's establishment is delayed, they can compensate for it by profiting from other items, profiting in the end."
"Haa, how confusing."
"And, when they decide that they're no longer profiting they will do an inventory clearance selling the 【Guild Emblems】 cheaply. Probably."
After saying what could possibly happen in the future, "kukuku" Cloude let out a muffled laughter.
Lyly and I stared as he laughed a bit eerily, and have quickly averted our gaze. Cloude has instantaneously changed the subject and the atmosphere of conversation.
"We-well, umm, what. Even though we were defeated in the economic and information war, since there's only a few of us, as long as we obtain a 【Guild Emblem】 all problems will be solved."
Rather, it seemed like he was concerned about losing an information war with the resale guilds. Still, it seemed pretty advanced to have information warfare inside a game.
Cloude's enthusiasm didn't erase that impression which lodged itself in my chest, he grasped his fist strongly and raising his spirits, he declared openly.
"Therefore, we will buy a cheap 【Guild Emblem】 within the budget on the stalls!"
While making a pretty cool pose, Cloude said something painful which made me shed tears deep in my heart.
"I'm holding the money, so let me know through friend chat if you find a cheap 【Guild Emblem】."
Cloude told us that, and together with the waiter person they have scattered in different directions.
Lyly and I immediately started going around the stalls together.
"Oh, what? This accessory..."
"Ah, that's a rare drop from a boss. It's an accessory which increases damage against insect-type monsters. It's popular among lady-like girls."
"That has no practicality. It's an unbranded accessory available from a common quest. It's aimed at beginners, but I don't think it would be sufficient for you."
Since our original purpose was to find a 【Guild Emblem】, being distracted by various items was inefficient.
"Hmm. I'm bad with insect-type monsters. The price is——1mG huh. I wonder if I can get a discount?"
"Unfortunately, since there's something I want as well I cannot give you a discount."
"Hey, even if you say that, we don't have that kind of money on our hands anyway."
Lyly waved his hand reminding me that we have no money with us, how cold, we bid farewell to the player with a stall who smiled wryly and went to look at different stalls.
"Hey, Lyly. Found anything?"
"Not at all. How about you Yuncchi?"
"I didn't find anything either."
It's been a while since I last toured stalls other than those selling food, I could see that the amount of different products has increased dramatically. There was a masked player who specialized in dealing with material items.
There was a player who held a large sword and sold expensive rare materials as well as rare drops.
Boasting of weapons, armours and accessories as well as other things like potions and cooking, there were also crafters who sold joke items and handicraft like cloth for wrapping around one's head for skinheads.
There was a bearded, chubby merchant who enjoyed fiercely arguing and interacting with players.
Reseller's stalls which lacked any vibrancy and attraction and the business was left to NPCs.
We slowly toured them, sometimes purchasing what we needed and tried to locate a 【Guild Emblem】 which could be sold cheaper than one from a store, it felt a bit regretful that I enjoyed it despite being unable to find one.
Among the stalls, there was an acquaintance. There was a single player who opened a stall.
"Oh? Yun-kun and Lyly. It's unusual for you two to tour the stalls together."
"What are you doing, Magicchi?"
Just like the first time I met her, with a weapon stall spread out, we found Magi-san interact with customers. The weapons were easy to handle orthodox long swords and spears made from common materials, which had an ordinary price. However, among those items, there was highest quality equipment as well.
"I'm collecting information. Cloude asked me to look around the stalls for a cheap 【Guild Emblem】."
"Hmm. After we've talked with people who came to us, the prices on the market have gone up again. I have gathered some information, but it's not so easy to find people who sell it. You need to look patiently. Also, there are some stalls over there too, how about you go look in there?"
"Thank you very much for the information, Magi-san!"
After hearing Magi-san's advice Lyly pulled my hand, and we started running in the specified direction.
"Do your best〜. For sake of the crafting guild!"
We've left Magi-san who waved her hand, and started touring the stalls in the direction Magi-san pointed to, then finally found a 【Guild Emblem】.
"...I found it, Yuncchi."
A man sitting cross-legged who looked at the stream of people in front of him with a bored expression was selling it.
I moved in front and called out.
"Hello, can I take a look?"
"Yeah, feel free."
Certainly, there was a 【Guild Emblem】. However, the price was barely any cheaper than any market at 3,98mG
"Hmm. Getting a 【Guild Emblem】 at this price, is probably no go right? But we have nothing to lose... Excuse me, could lower the price on this 【Guild Emblem】——『"No way I could."』——I guess."
He glared at me sharply. I wonder if I angered him on the first straight. After finally finding it, it's impossible to buy it at this price. On top of that, the atmosphere didn't show room for haggling. Lyly and I quietly left to look for another stall, but since we couldn't find anything we came back again, it was already bought by someone.
"You serious. Did someone really buy it at that price. No, the market price for that is a little special."
"Not good. It seems like we won't be able to buy it unless we go over the budget."
Lyly listened to my murmur and spat out a small sigh. We've already seen other stalls, and we won't find any more even if we go tour the lively stalls again. In that case, we should go back to Magi-san's place. When I thought that, suddenly I saw a person sitting in a dim back alley through the gap in pedestrian traffic.
"So there's a stall in a place like that."
"Ehh, ah, I didn't notice."
I headed together with Lyly towards a poor location hidden between buildings.
"Yo, welcome. Wanna look?"
He was cheerful and looked somewhat suspicious with sunglasses and hair in dreads. The man has a lot of metal accessories cluttering and laughed showing white teeth contrasting with the dim location.
Among the products we found a 【Guild Emblem】! And it was priced at 3,5mG which was cheaper than the one earlier. Other items were boss' rare drops and crafting materials, everything was about 10% cheaper than the ones we saw on the stalls earlier.
"Hey, can I ask something?"
"What's up? No way, the reverse pattern? No, I give up. To think I'd be asked out by a pretty girl."
There's no such thing. I said flatly. The other party was joking, and let out an "arara", smelled his shoulders in an act.
"Why is it so cheap? It's 10% cheaper than the market price. Also, why are you in such a back alley, people won't come right."
"Well, ain't that fine."
Together with Lyly, we responded with 'I don't get it'. And tilted our necks. The man in front of us pointed towards the street in front.
"Certainly, if I put my shop in there I would sell. However, selling my spear isn't all I want. I want to sell rare items cheaply in a dark alley role-playing as a back-alley black merchant. I get self-satisfaction from spending time with no customers in the dark alley, I say shady lines to players like you who come closer and sell items."
The man removed sunglasses and winked, although he looked suspicious it suddenly felt refreshing in the middle of conversation.
I think it was quite interesting to role-play as black merchant, I forgot about 【Guild Emblem】, seeing his enthusiasm he role-played with as a black merchant Lyly and I started to listen attentively.
Lyly seemed to like speaking with enthusiastic players like Cloude and the black merchant when they role-played. He listened to him with his eyes sparkling. I too admired it in my own way and asked him something once in a while, I wanted references to various ways to play the game.
"Nice, it's really nice to see people who'd listen to romance! It was really fun."
Hehe, the black merchant man rubbed his nose with his finger.
"I had fun as well. Especially the part where you insisted on crafting."
I continued to improve my potions. And he, directed his own role as black merchant. We could feel empathy towards each other's insistence, and laughed.
"Interesting. I want this Treant Wood and Ebony."
"Oh, got it. Wait a moment... kukuku, these are smuggled goods I've been secretly logging in the area they grow. These are rare highest quality items managed by the country which appear once every 50 years. There's still a feet attached to it, still wanna buy it?"
The youth's refreshing voice he used until now, has changed into a voice of a shady dealer. I swallowed my breath, and Lyly paid him impressed, obtaining materials for woodworking.
"Sorry. Wait a moment."
Engrossed in the conversation, when we noticed another customer came into the back alley we took a step back.
"That's cheap. I'll buy this, and this."
"Kukuku, come on brother you're not honest. That's some good stuff you got there."
This time, the black merchant role-player held a short conversation with the customer, making it seem as if there was something behind it and then saw him off. Then, when I looked towards the merchandise——
"——There's no 【Guild Emblem】!"
"Ah, that brother there bought it. He paid with a grin on his face."
"Do you have any other in stock?"
"Ahh, so you two were aiming for the 【Guild Emblem】 huh. Unfortunately, that's a monthly quest."
"It can be undertaken only once a month, that's what it means Yuncchi."
Monthly. So it can be done once a month. By the way, quests like the delivery ones or underground library's quest are dailies and can be done every day, there's a limit on amount of times the quest can be done for a period of time.
"A-ahahaha... what a shame."
"I see. Well, you can come to look for something else next time. ——Kukuku, Miss, you shouldn't wander around to such suspicious shops. I won't say anything, but you better go home soon."
Knowing that the product we were interesting in was no longer there, the black merchant started role-playing for the first time with us, and although he spoke lines to make us go away, he had a smile on his face. We left the stall after that.
What kind of excuse should we use after missing that 【Guild Emblem】 from earlier which cost 3,5mG. And while thinking, I continued to look for a cheap 【Guild Emblem】, but unable to find anything we reunited with Cloude and explained to him.
"...and so, despite finding a guy who looked like he could give us good conditions, we have let it slip away. I'm sorry."
"It's not Yuncchi's fault. It was over the budget too."
Lyly tried comforting me, but after Cloude and the waiter heard about a 【Guild Emblem】 seller with good conditions, Cloude crossed his arms and closed his eyes which felt oddly intimidating. Quietly, I waited for his reply.
"Well, there's that too I guess."
"...aren't you angry?"
"Our budget is small in the first place. Also, on this side too I have been beaten to it by resellers and ordinary players every time and was unable to get one. I'm guilty too."
"However, as far as I can remember, we probably get the funding for that. For example we could sell my potions at Magi-san's or Cloude's..."
"It's pointless to talk about assumptions. Also, selling things by proxies will hurt your main store sales right. Putting our hands in there and crushing all fellow crafters of ours with such move is out of question. If it comes to this, we need to take a direct approach."
"Meaning, to take the guild quest, right."
"There's no other option is there. If should be fine if we use the 3mG of funds for the request fee."
With that said, the monthly quest, unlike normal quests could be undertaken only once a month, and it would be used up.
I wonder if there are people who would undertake the request to obtain the 【Guild Emblem】 for 3mG when the market price is 4mG. In my opinion, there isn't any.
"What would you say if I told there's no chances of success?"
What do you mean? When I asked, Cloude came up with a number of reasons.
"First, even if six people undertake the quest to obtain a 【Guild Emblem】, the reward is only one emblem."
"Yeah, in that case the 3m would be divided between six of them."
"If in an extreme case the quest could be cleared by a single person, then the 3m of reward would go to that person alone. Also, there's a boss drop other than the quest reward. There's more than enough reason to aim for a boss which can be only challenged once a month."
Certainly, there are people who would think like that. I agreed.
"Then, how about me, Cloude and Lyly go?"
"No, Lyly and I can't go since we need to do various adjustments for the crafting guild's founding. That's why——"
*Pat*, Cloude put his hands on my shoulders.
"——Gather some members. I leave it to you."
My voice echoed in the plaza. Players have turned around to me, but before that, what is this guy forcing me to do without any hesitation here.
"I just have to gather some members right, geez..."
"Well, I'll do my best too. Is all I can say."
Cloude and Lyly were holding preparations for establishment of crafting guild and weren't in Cloude's café, Magi-san who picked up her stall now stared at the tea cup's surface.
I put my face on the counter pondering, and spat out another sigh.
"In the first place, I helped to fund it, so why did he come to me with that money. I don't get it at all."
"Well, that money already left your hands once. Your own money and organization's money are two different things."
I don't know whether Magi-san tried to comfort me, or maybe encourage me, I couldn't even tell the taste of tea I was drinking at the moment.
"Yun-kun, you have reliable acquaintances don't you? You'll somehow manage."
"It would be good if that was the case..."
Magi-san paid for my tea instead of me. Sorry, I said in small voice apologizing, but she waved her hand saying there's no problem.
"Think of it as of support for when you're undertaking the guild quest."
"Uuu, that's heavy. But I'll do my best."
After that was said, I bid Magi-san farewell, and after coming back to 【Atelier】 I put my head on the counter once again and started worrying.
Not having any good ideas, I let out a sigh again.
However, even as I distress myself over it nothing will happen, so for the time being I tried calling my acquaintances. I opened the friend list through the menu, and called players who could possibly participate one after another.
Even though I say that, basically it was just Taku's and Myu's party members and fellow crafters who were registered in my friend list. I didn't expect a positive response.
The only positive response was 『"Hmm. An adventure with Onee-chan huh. Yup, I'll consult with Luka-chan for a little. If it weren't a monthly, then I'd immediately ride on."』 is what I was told.
The reason for that was, that possibly Lucato and others could undertake it and go.
If Myu were to undertake the monthly quest, the next time she would be able to undertake the quest and challenge the boss would be in a month.
For Myu who was adventuring in a fixed party, receiving a monthly quest alone could break Lucato and the others' pace. That's why, unless there's a serious reason, I'd like to ask others first.
In that case, the only one left was——someone who already joined the guild 【Eight Million Gods】, Sei-nee.
"I have nothing to lose. ——Ah, Sei-nee. There's something I'd like to consult you about."
『"Yun-chan? That's rare, to think I'd get a call from you."』
Sei-nee responded in wonder, with a little surprised voice.
"Actually, I was thinking to undertake a quest in order to acquire a 【Guild Emblem】. I wondered if you could offer some help with it."
『"Sure. Who are the other members?"』
"Haa, so it's okay after all... Hey, it's okay?! Really?"
Because I thought it'll be no good, when I she agreed to it so easily, my thinking stopped. Sei-nee agreed to undertake it.
『"Yun-chan, you're way too reserved. You don't let me spoil you at all."』
"Nono, I'm a high school student now, I can't have my older sister spoiling me."
『"Even though I was joking about spoiling you, but as your Onee-chan I'd like if you relied on me more. You're not relying on me at all."』
"Ah, no. You probably have a lot of things on your mind right? Like your guild or university life."
『"Helping siblings is more important than that. Also, doing things alone is lonely. You could at least stop refraining yourself from asking Myu-chan, that would make her happy."』
On the other side of the call, Sei-nee sighed. Sorry. When I responded that, I've heard a wry laughter respond me.
『"Also, it's not like there's no benefit for me in it. I want a rare drop from the boss Mastil Dane, which is another reason. That's why, I'll undertake it as an advisor who once already accomplished the guild quest."』
"Got it. Also, there's no other members. For the time being, I received a vague response from Myu."
『"Is that so? I'll call Myu-chan, wait just a moment."』
Sei-nee said so and ended the friend chat. What was that? And when I tilted my head puzzled, immediately after that, a friend call has come.
『"Yun-oneechan! Why didn't you tell me Sei-oneechan is participating! If that's the case, I'll participate even if I have to apologize to Luka-chan until I collapse afterwards!"』
"No, wait a second. We just decided that, why suddenly..."
『"What suddenly. For a long time now I wanted to go on adventure the three of us together, but there was no opportunity for that at all! I can't let this chance go! Also, we're going just the three of us so don't add any more people."』
"Hey, wait a moment. Why are you riding on the momentum, are you saying we should do the guild quest just the three of us? Do we have enough fighting force?"
『"That's... yup. We'll somehow manage! Then, later!"』
"H-hey... She hung up on me."
Myu has one-sidedly decided she's participating. Surely, Sei-nee must have spoken with her. Although it was determined that Myu will be participating, but what should I do about her since she wants us to undertake it just the three of us. I started worrying about it, but it was unlikely that we would gather any more people. If it's no good with the three of us, we can prepare more people and challenge it again. I immediately proceeded with preparations for the quest.
Recovery medicine with focus on High Potions and MP Potions.
Boost Tablets for stat enhancement.
Various bad status recovery medicines to deal with abnormal states. Moreover, various bad status-inducing drugs I made from extracting a number of the poisonous herbs I obtained during the summer's camp event.
I checked on my stock of arrows for the bow and my sub weapon, the kitchen knife.
The simple magic consumables, Magic Gems and Enchant Stones, as well as replenishing the 【Gem Substitute Ring】's charges.
I did all that to prepare, still it was not enough.
Normally it's challenged by parties with six members, we have only half that. And among those three I'm a crafter, since I have half the fighting potential of the other two, I calculated that we weren't strong enough.
"That's not enough. And I can't let the Ryui and Zakuro who are young beasts fight. What else can be used..."
I confirmed my Sense build, levels and combat style, and looked for what else can be used.
【Bow Lv28】【Hawk Eyes Lv39】 【Speed Increase Lv22】 【Discovery Lv27】 【Magic Talent Lv42】【Magic Power Lv44】 【Enchant Arts Lv16】 【Dosing Lv23】 【Earth Element Talent Lv13】 【Cooking Lv22】
【Alchemy Lv30】 【Synthesis Lv28】 【Engraving Lv1】 【Swimming Lv13】 【Crafting Knowledge Lv31】 【Taming Lv6】 【Linguistics Lv15】
After I confirmed my Senses which haven't grown much ever since the summer event ended, I've started feeling anxious again.
"No matter how I look, it's not enough. If I knew that a day would come where I have to challenge a quest boss, I would have raised my combat Senses."
It was too late to have regrets. Although it was already too late, I'll use whatever I can.
"I'm really unsure about this. Buying time will be necessary too right. ——Let's use this too for now."
In order to undertake the quest in perfect state, I continued my preparations.
Chapter 6 - 【Guild Emblem】 and Suicide-Attacking Slimes
"Now, it has come. The guild establishment-related quest! Let's get revved up! Yeahhh!!"
I looked at Myu who formed a fist and extended it to heavens, appalled. Sei-nee made a bitter smile.
"Come on, Yun-oneechan and Sei-oneechan should ride on the mood. A long adventure is going to start now."
"Even if you say that, I'm fine with it being a short adventure. Also, don't call me 'oneechan'. Geez..."
I let out a sigh and when turned my gaze towards Sei-nee, she has taken over as the advisor.
"That's right. Since starting from the very beginning is a pain, let's use a trick to cut straight to the last part, 【Subjugate Mastil Dane】 and finish it."
"Mmgrr, let's have more fun, it's been a while since we sisters were alone together."
"Even so, what I'm aiming for is the drop from the boss."
"And I need the 【Guild Emblem】."
With that said, Sei-nee and I exchanged glances, and said "that's why we can't".
"But, is there really a trick to the guild establishment quest?"
"Yeah. In fact, it is a quest which has three stages, but two of them can be skipped as long as the we meet certain conditions. That's why, let's go and undertake it immediately."
The place Sei-nee guided us to, was the main street of Third Town at the base of the mine. There, standing upright was a middle-aged man who looked like a knight. He was very distinctive as he had a kaiser moustache.
"Oooh?! You three, could you the defeat Ghost Knight that goes rampant in that mine?! I want you to release the soul of the Grand Master who is the greatest of the Ghost Knights, who are decaying in that mine; the knight is wandering, looking for his own successor."
—— 【You received the guild quest: Subjugate the Appointer Mastil Dane】
Is what my menu displayed, the preparations were finished.
"Now that we have received the quest successfully, let's go inside the mine dungeon. What we're aiming for, is the Mine's boss on the second layer."
"The Mine's second layer huh, I haven't been there before, is that okay?"
"It's fine. Enemies are all weak."
Myu said 'weak'. But I don't think 'weak' for her criteria would be 'weak' for me as well.
"Indeed. Speaking about the quest's procedure, if we first defeat the four different types of 【Wandering Ghost Knight】 on the second layer before going to the 【Appointer Mastil Dane】, we'll be able to enter without having to obtain a key."
"But the other enemies, Hobgoblins, Middle Worms and Eye Ants are weak compared to the Ghost Knights."
"Hey, if it's easy for you two, could you let me try myself fighting against those? I haven't raised my battle Senses at all, so I'd like to improve them even if only by a little."
Hearing my proposal, the two had a shocked expression on their faces, but immediately after they nodded.
"Sure. Even if we fight the amount of experience won't be too tasty, so we can yield it over to Yun-chan."
"If Onee-chan finally found motivation, we'll back you up."
I guess it's something to be grateful for. I thought. And after rushing into the Mine, Myu activated 《Light》 magic, and we proceeded after securing a light source.
Although the enemies on the first layer were made so that you could defeat them when you're obtaining the EX-Skill 【Mining】, I took them on.
I pre-emptively shoot arrows at the mobs that appeared when we headed towards the second layer through the shortest route.
I raised my stat by using an ATK-increasing Boost Tablet, furthermore I added more power by casting an enchant on myself.
After raising my strength sufficiently, before the enemy mob has noticed me I overlapped skills one on another.
Seeing through the darkness with 【Hawk Eyes】, I saw red markers that appeared on top of the mob. Those were weak points on the head and torso of the organism. I slowly poised my bow and nocked an arrow.
I pulled the arrow back, and after drawing the bow to the limit I chose the last Art I had.
"——《Bow Skill - Arrow Stitching》"
A single arrow released at the mob's weak point has reaped its entire HP.
"Hoho, that was easy. Wasn't that an overkill?"
"Yup, but it's inefficient. Just now I used a single consumable item, two skills and an art."
I said so, and in my mind, I counted the waiting time until I can use the Art again, and without resting released the arrows. In response to the arrows I shot with strengthened stats, one after another mobs fell to the ground and disappeared, turning into particles.
"Yeah. Its seems like even alone, Yun-chan wouldn't have any problems with the first layer, right?"
"Looks like Yun-oneechan is stronger than before. Outstanding!"
"But there are many weaknesses right. My way of fighting incorporates many things I have to rely on. Long distance attacks are my strength, but if it were to be turned around I would be at a disadvantage."
The bow, and in particular the longbow had a lot of power and range. However, on the other hand it was hard to manoeuvre with it in close range. Another characteristic of the bow is that the attacks cover a very small point where arrow pierces.
"You don't need to be so concerned about that. In order to compensate for those shortcomings there are vanguards like me, there's a lot of rearguards."
"Party's division of roles. There's no need to be a jack-of-all-trades solo player. That's why, what you need at the moment is a talent to specialize in."
So, do your best. Sei-nee admonished me.
I understood what she meant, and strongly squeezed the 【Black Maiden's Longbow】 I held in my hand.
After proceeding through the first layer without any problems, we went down to the second layer.
"Now, from here on it's Yun-chan's real fight. We'll support you so do your best."
Hearing Sei-nee's words, I thought that even though I chose my Senses in order to support, currently I was so weak that I was the one receiving support. And smiled bitterly.
I paid close attention to the first enemy we met, and aimed at the weak point on its head.
"——《Bow Skill - Arrow Stitching》!"
The Hobgoblin who had yellow skin and height of an elementary schooler from upper grades had its head blown off, fell to the ground and disappeared. Immediately after that, the Hobgoblins linked together – four in total have gathered.
Although I defeated the enemies in order starting with the closest one, the opponents approached at high speed and I was able to take down only two of them. Without Arts it took two to three arrows to take down one of them.
"Leave the rest to us!"
Myu jumped in front and cut down one of them with her one-handed sword, and Sei-nee blew away the mob's head with a water ball.
"That should be all...not!"
Once again I raised the bow which was almost completely lowered, nocked an arrow and turned towards the wall. I shot an arrow towards a point I perceived with 【Discovery】 Sense, immediately after, it skewered the Middle Worm which had jumped out of the mini tunnel in the wall, destroying it.
"Nice Yun-oneechan. Intercepting a Middle Worm who uses element of surprise to attack on your first time, that's really good."
While saying so, Myu stabbed the sword's tip into the Middle Worm's body that was sewn into the wall with an arrow. I could feel the difference in basic attack power between my and Myu's attacks.
"Even if I look up higher, I can't do anything about it."
The words spilled out in response to my feelings, but it didn't reach Myu's nor Sei-nee's ears and I walked to look for the next mob. The Eye Ant mob that appeared on the second layer had a strong physical defence on its torso, hard like iron ore. However, It's joints were soft and it could be damaged easily. I focused on that part, but the main method of fighting against it was to use magic. I used both the bow and magic balancing them out, and took down two out of four ants approaching, leaving the others to Myu and Sei-nee.
As we proceeded through the second layer, we encountered enemies and found dungeon traps.
"Trap found, wait a second."
"Ehhh, again. The traps in this area aren't anything to be scared of so let's just run through them."
"We can't. We need to go carefully through it so that Yun-chan can practice."
Every time I located the traps that were all over the dungeon with 【Discovery】 Sense, I dealt with them appropriately. With that said though, if it was a wide area we passed by them, avoiding it, but currently we couldn't go through as the trap was located in a narrow passage.
"The traps in this place are at most falling rocks or poison, magic, it's damage. If it's me, I'd do this."
While I was staring at the track I discovered, Myu has ran on the wall and passed over to the other side. Since it was possible only thanks to Myu's 【Action Restriction Release】 Sense which allowed her three-dimensional movement, it was impossible for me.
"Sei-nee, although Myu used that kind of workaround, what would you do in this case?"
Myu waved her hand energetically towards us from the other side of the trap. Sei-nee furrowed her brows as if she was troubled and answered my question.
"Hmm. I would attack the trap with magic from long range? After it activates I should be able to pass. Also, physical traps can be destroyed like that."
"So just bulldozing through if needed, huh."
"I don't really use any special method. I just leave it to a party member who has 【Release】 Sense...
With a light blush, Sei-nee hurriedly piled up excuses, she's a beauty but I thought that's cute. However, let's use her bulldozing through as a reference.
I took out an item from the inventory and put it on the ground.
"——Slime, 【Summon】. Go forward as it is."
What I called out, was a low level slime. I suppose I should take advantage of synthetic mobs in situations like this. The slime proceeded dragging itself through the ground, and the moment it entered on top of the trap, it was crushed by falling rocks and disappeared. Then, we observed as the trap was released.
"All right, we can proceed."
"With three of us, there sure is a lot of methods to release the traps, isn't there."
Sei-nee let out a sigh impressed. Myu runs on the walls, Sei-nee destroys the traps. And I cause the traps to trigger, each of us had our own method to release traps. But, still, we weren't match for the people who had Sense that allowed them to release traps, I thought and broadened my searching area.
And, we have found our objective.
"That's a 【Wandering Ghost Knight】."
"Isn't that a ball of fire?"
"That's right, after its attacked, one of four types will appear at random."
"Attack it huh. You said there are four types, what types are they?"
"There are knights holding either a sword, axe, spear and a staff as their weapons. But as I said, they appear at random so we can get double the key parts, so let's be patient."
"What is it, Yun-oneechan?"
"No, I've got a small doubt, or rather – I'm curious, I guess? I think I know a way to determine whether it is random or not..."
I have already sold the 【Search Orb】 I had and no longer have it. It wasn't possible right now to determine what type the ball of fire is.
"...if we had a 【Search Orb】 that is."
After coming to this place, I regretted that I sold it. However, the other person who knew about the method of using 【Search Orb】 to investigate, Myu has started pulling the hem of my clothes.
"If it's a 【Search Orb】, then I have one in my inventory. Because I didn't need it, I left it there. Should I use it?"
Myu tilted her neck, and after coming closer she looked at me with upturned eyes. I opened my eyes widely in surprise.
"Is that fine? That was your share right?"
"In the first place, it's something we got because Yun-oneechan was there. Also, I've said that before, and tried to pass it to Yun-oneechan right."
"Thanks. Let's use it."
I received the crystal ball from Myu. Seeing that I'm going to do something, Sei-nee left everything to me.
After being passed the 【Search Orb】 by Myu, I used it to dispel my own doubts.
"Now, 【Search Orb】, look through that ball of fire's identity."
The crystal ball has turned into particles which have circled around the ball of fire and disappeared. Then, information about the ball of fire appeared in our menus.
"——【Wandering Ghost Knight (Axe), a ghost of a knight wandering inside of a mine. Wields an axe.】, hey is that all? It really isn't random though."
"If it's an axe, then it's the B-type. Other than that there's sword, spear and staff. But, if it can be determined in this way, rather than doing it at random people might actually start doing it with this method."
Rather than defeat the Ghost Knights at random after they're born from the ball of fire, we learned that it's possible to determine it in advance, but what of it. Understanding that piece of info I made a complex expression. Seeing through my expression, Sei-nee followed up on it.
"It's okay Yun-chan. This little trick should usable in different situations. It's inefficient only on the Ghost Knights since they're weak."
"This has to be forced through a number of attempts! It's all right Yun-oneechan! Ghost Knights are weak!"
Hahaha, Myu and Sei-nee treated Ghost Knight as a small fry without any hesitation. Haa, feeling that there's no point in stretching out the fight any more, I pre-emptively shot an arrow towards the ball of fire.
And then, black fog gathered with the ball of fire as nucleus, and its appearance changed into that of a knight with an axe who wore plate armour. Wanting to know how does my own strength compare to the Ghost Knight, I stood in front of it alone. Together with the knight's appearance, I shot an arrow as fast as I could.
The released arrow was repelled by the axe which was used like a shield.
"Tch. It's not over yet!"
I raised my voice and tried to shoot as fast as possible, in meanwhile I took distance moving diagonally towards the back. It was a trick that allowed to increase the distance slightly by moving back diagonally rather than retracting straight. I don't know how effective it would be on this opponent, but until he launches the first attack I'll continue to buy time like this and attack.
As the Ghost Knight closed on me occasionally knocking away arrows with his thick axe. However, even if it was a humanoid, its actions movement patterns were different from those of a player, and there was awkwardness in it. I used those chances to stuck two arrows into its armour. Even so, those attacks still weren't enough.
The Ghost Knight approached ignoring his lost HP, and I retreated as if running away. I could see Myu's appearance who was ready to jump in any time, and Sei-nee who was stopping her despite having magic ready to cast at any time so that she can intervene.
And I hit the tunnel wall behind me, there was no way for me to escape.
When I saw the axe swing vertically trying to hack my head——
"Now!! ——《Mud Pool》!"
I sprang into the side of Ghost Knight avoiding the axe approaching from overhead. At the same time with the ground under the Ghost Knight's feet as the target, I cast magic.
The behavioural inhibition magic learned at level 10 of earth elemental magic——《Mud Pool》.
The Ghost Knight who swung his axe sank in, plunging in deeply into the pool of mud that was born under its feet and fell.
"Now, all that's left is a one-sided game."
I moved behind the Ghost Knight and shoot my arrows. Every time it tried to rebuild its posture I used the 《Bow Skill - Arrow Stitching》 which had a knock-back effect, and made the armoured knight look like a hedgehog.
The small amounts of damage have accumulated and I finally defeated the Ghost Knight.
"Yun-oneechan, I didn't think you would defeat him with a snare combo! Since when has my Onee-chan become so nefarious."
"Don't call me nefarious."
Although I protested against Myu's words, I knew it was a joke.
Since my stats and level were inferior, I had to prepare a clever plan and items to defeat it.
"By the way Yun-chan, how would you stop a floating enemy 《Mud Pool》 has no effect on from moving?"
"Ah, I see. It's meaningless to use 《Mud Pool》 on a floating enemy. I'll have to think about countermeasure for that."
After it was pointed out by Sei-nee, I started wondering what to do.
"If the enemy is floating in the air, you can just knock it down into the ground right."
"Myu, that sounds quite extreme."
"Certainly, in Yun-chan's case you should be able to shoot it down with the bow right?"
Nonono, don't ride on what she said, Sei-nee. I thought. Well, if I encounter a floating enemy, I'll think about it then. Once again, we started walking around to look for a Ghost Knight.
And luckily, we found a ball of fire nearby. Moreover, two of them.
"So? What do we do?"
"What you ask, we can easily defeat them at the same time. I will take on one of them, I'll leave the other one to Myu-chan and Yun-chan."
"Got it. Then, I'll call them out. ——《Rapid Fire Bow - Second Form》 ."
I let out two arrows at once, and hit both fireballs right in the centre revealing the Ghost Knights.
This time it was ones with a sword and staff patterns. If we find the spear one afterwards, we'll be able to challenge the boss.
"Well, I'll fight with the knight holding a staff. You two take care of the one with the axe.""
"Understood. 《Enchant》——Attack, Speed."
Myu received attack and speed enchants from me and shoot out like a bullet.
The knight's longsword and Myu's one-handed sword clashed at full force, and Myu parried it. On the other hand, Sei-nee moved to the side and immediately returned a magical attack... or rather, has started a one-sided magical battle. She blocked the darkness attacks pressing on with a water shield she made with one hand, and while the enemy released one attack, she shoot out three water bullets. Meanwhile, behind her was waiting double that number of magic.
"Sei-nee seems to have an easy time. Rather... Myu! How long are you going to play around!"
"Sorry! I've been found out!"
Although she had blown away the Ghost Knight's sword, she didn't take action when she had a chance to counter-attack. Geez——
"Hurry up and finish it. 《Cursed》——Defence."
When I cast cursed which was a weakening magic working just the opposite from enchant on the Ghost Knight, Myu poised her sword.
"I know. ——《Fifth Breaker》!"
In an instant she released five slashes, and was able to take down the Ghost Knight's entire HP. No matter how weakened it was, I wouldn't be able to take it down until I released dozens of arrows, seeing it go down this easy eliminated the little self-confidence I had left.
"Cheers for the good work. It seems like no one had any problems. If we find another Ghost Knight, let's do it all three of us."
"That's right. I want to hurry up and fight the boss, let's go!'
I smiled wryly at Myu who brandished her sword and started looking for another Ghost Knight. After that, we found a sword and axe duplicates, when we reached the fourth one we were already used to battles with Ghost Knights. Moreover, with my support applied to Myu and Sei-nee, in front of their enhanced firepower the Ghost Knights disappeared unable to hold out more than a minute.
Far in the back of the second layer were stairs which descent lower, in this place I never entered before as I had no need to, there was a boss.
"Now then, let's begin the preparations."
Sei-nee who held two pieces of the key, Myu and I who have held one piece each, fit them together.
It has regained its original shape, taking the form of a circular key.
"Is this key needed in order to fight the boss?"
"That's right. This is the 【Appointer's Key】. You need to put it in this hole."
Sei-nee put the key into the circular depression and let go of it, the key didn't fall down and instead started moving by itself.
A heavy sound could be heard, as if something was moving inside of the wall, the rock wall in front of our eyes moved to the side and exposed the darkness beyond it.
"The boss, 【Appointer Mastil Dane】 is a large living armour. In its right hand it holds a staff, in its left hand it holds a sturdy lance. It's an enemy who uses both physical attacks and magic."
"Hey, it's a little late for that, but don't we need a tank?"
My worry was our current party structure. We had two rearguards and a vanguard. The reason our badly-balanced party had progressed this far was thanks to high individual skill and level. I don't think it will be that easy to defeat the boss though.
"Probably. However, it might just be the opposite and not having a tank could be better."
I tilted my neck puzzled after hearing Sei-nee's murmur. It's best to fight strong enemies in a party with a role division, why would the opposite be better. I wanted to ask why was that, but Myu's words interrupted me.
"But it's hard for Sei-oneechan and me to raise our levels on half-baked enemies. We need to confront difficulties head-on!"
"Although, if we lose we'll have to defeat the Ghost Knights from the very beginning."
As Sei-nee said with a wry smile, I swallowed the question I was supposed to ask and imagined having to defeat the Ghost Knights for the pieces of the keys we didn't have duplicates for.
"Let's go then."
"Before that, here, use these."
Everyone swallowed Boost Tablets and I applied enchants beforehand. I didn't think we'll win that easily, but I had no intention of losing. After I cast double enchants on us, we proceeded further.
We proceeded while relying on the light released by the ball of light Myu created. In the back, lying on the floor on its knees was an armour with a staff and a spear in its hands.
It was three metres in height exceeding that of a human. The black twisted staff it wielded had some rust on its surface, and while holding a spear which looked like it was carved directly from stone, the living armour stood up.
From the depths behind the helmet which covered its face shined a red pair of eyes directed in our direction.
That appearance looked more like a robot than a Ghost Knight, it felt like a golem.
『"W-we are. Decaying, old, old era's warrior, loo..."』
In response to the Appointer's twisted voice which sounded like a broken radio——
"Hey, it's annoying so can I do a pre-emptive attack and skip the conversation?"
"Better not, okay? If you attack it before its over, it will gain the Anger status which will increase its attack power, so I guess it's not recommended?"
Because of Myu's and Sei-nee's chat which lacked any tension, I missed the hard to understand words of Mastil Dane.
『"If ye are worthy ones... I shalt appoint ye!"』
Mastil Dane poised his spear and started running in our direction. Its movements were smoother than that of a Golem, Myu and Sei-nee intended to deal damage to it with magic before it approached.
Myu's laser has pierced Mastil Dane's limb, and Sei-nee's whirlpool crashed on it from overhead, swallowing it.
Meanwhile, I cast Cursed, increasing their damage. After having its limb shot, Mastil Dane was astonished but pushed onto the whirlpool's wall with brute force, and I shoot an arrow towards its arm which stretched out of it.
"Myu-chan, get his target on you! I'll withdraw!"
The instant the whirlpool disappeared, Mastil Dane's entire body was revealed. Sei-nee stepped back taking distance, I moved circling around it and started dealing damage to the parts above the waist.
And, Myu stood in front of the boss to confront it. Supporting the hand in which she held the one-handed sword, Myu parried the spear diagonally as it fell down on her because of the height difference. After sending the spear back, she kicked Mastil Dane's body, danced in the air and took distance. Also, since Myu's attacks couldn't reach the locations that were higher, Sei-nee and I aimed to intercept the darkness bullet that was emitted from the staff it held in the boss' right hand causing an explosion and using the opportunity to deal damage.
Three versus one, we slowly damaged it. From time to time, she was unable to completely parry the spear or staff, resulting with a small amount of damage accumulating, but she healed it with recovery magic. Mastil Dane's HP decreased to 70% and at this rate we would take it down. When I started to feel so, it displayed a different movement. It completely stopped using any magic, extended one leg behind and bent the front one.
What is it doing. What I saw from behind as I continued to shoot arrows, was Mastil Dane place the sturdy spear on its shoulder, from behind it was clear that the tip was aimed towards Sei-nee.
"Sei-nee! Avoid it!"
Hearing my voice, Sei-nee has grasped its intent and she started running to the side. The large spear that was thrown over Myu's head pierced the wall, and pulverized it. And Mastil Dane's movement didn't stop, it rushed to recover the spear using its massive armour's weight.
Although Myu was in close range devoting herself to holding it up, because of the difference in mass she was kicked away, and danced in the air.
I saw her momentarily use defence magic and rebuild her posture in the air.
"?!! ——《Clay Shield》!"
After being told that by Myu, I immediately created an earthen wall right in front of where she was about to land.
Myu bounced off from the earthen wall, and pounced at Mastil Dane once again.
She used all the momentum she had to hit Mastil Dane from behind, and took the position it was at. The earthen wall I made was unable to withstand the momentum with which it was hit and was destroyed. Mastil Dane grasped the spear and swung it strongly creating air pressure which reached where I was.
"I didn't think it would suddenly go for the mage. Sei-nee, are you all right?"
"I'm okay. Myu-chan, did you suffer any damage?"
"Recovering it now. I might be a little tired though."
The two drank MP Potions, recovering the MP they lost while using skills, and stared at Mastil Dane without dropping their guard.
It turned around and poised the spear to the side, the living armour readied its staff. I wondered how to deal with the opponent who had about 70% of its HP remaining. If Myu continues to take the vanguard's burden on herself and loses concentration she might suffer a direct hit. Even so, neither I nor Sei-nee could replace her.
"No other choice. ——Sei-nee, if I stop him for a moment, can you use the strongest attack on him?"
"I can, but will you be all right?"
"I'll be fine until Myu recovers."
Also, since I had the 【Gem Substitute Ring】, I could definitely withstand a single blow.
Now then, from now on, bow is a no. It's difficult to manoeuvre with it, so I can't use it.
I cast an enchant on myself, and moved close to Mastil Dane's feet. I lowered my body to increase speed.
As I approached, it has swung down its staff like a club, I avoided it largely and running further I circled around the armour.
When I turned around I saw the spear's stone tip fly at me. Together with a jump to avoid it, I used the cornerstone of my plan.
"Yun-chan, I'm ready!"
"A little more. ——Now! 【Clay Shield】!"
I triggered the magic gems I have spread around Mastil Dane. Four walls of earth rose up forming a square and surrounding it. It served as a cage that confines Mastil Dane, in the narrow space it couldn't exhibit the power of the long spear and the staff's ability sufficiently.
In response to Sei-nee's cast, more than ten spears have been created and were hovering.
When I ran out of the line of fire, the ice lances tore through the air and pierced the earthen cage, rushing at Mastil Dane.
That's when I triggered what I prepared together with the earthen cage.
"Blow up! ——【Bomb】!"
A chain of explosions has occurred around Mastil Dane, further piling up damage on it.
"Ohh, that's spectacular. Did that finish it?"
"…!! Doesn't seem so!'
The earthen walls broke, a cloud of dust has spread and Mastil Dane appeared from inside. It released a large number of darkness bullets, and as a follow up it has made an assault posture with the spear, heading for Sei-nee.
Myu moved in front of the boss who had 20% HP left.
"Eat this, 《Armour Brea——"
Mastil Dane lifted the spear while rushing, and momentarily moved the centre of gravity behind itself. I immediately triggered an enchant.
Sei-nee was dealing with darkness bullets so couldn't follow up after Myu.
I used the 【Hawk Eyes】 targeting capability to select Myu as my target, and cast a defence enchant on her. Immediately after Myu received the blow from sturdy spear head-on, she fell to her knees. She endured it. Immediately after I thought that, Mastil Dane whose spear was struggling with Myu stabbed her with the end of its staff.
With her shoulder stabbed sharply with a wooden staff, Myu's posture broke. The staff was swung down on her from above, and she was thrown into the ground.
As she stood up, she reflexively swung her sword, and hit by the impact of spear's attack, she was blown away towards the back.
Myu rolled on the ground taking distance. After that series of attacks Myu's HP had reached a dangerous area. Normally Myu would use recovery magic to immediately heal herself, but right now she was unable to, and while breathing heavily she recovered by using a High Potion and MP Potion.
"Why, not only HP, but also my MP has decreased."
Myu muttered, saying what was the reason she couldn't use recovery magic. Also, one more thing.
"This guy, at the same time he hit you, he recovered."
Mastil Dane who should have had 20% HP remaining, has recovered to 30% .
"That's the effect of the staff he's holding in his left hand, 【HP Absorption】 and 【MP Absorption】. That's why, it's better to fight by avoiding his attacks rather than withstand them."
As Sei-nee muttered explaining to Myu and me, we understood what she meant.
What Myu was handling up until now, were the spear's attacks. And absorption occurred during the staff's attacks. Also, main attacks with the staff are magical. Although there was no damage dealt to us by magic because Sei-nee and I prevented it, if we were hit by magic and damaged, absorption would occur.
If we were to have a tank who endures its attacks, that tank would become the enemy's HP tank, and it could possibly turn into a prolonged battle.
Now that it had 30% left, I felt like asking a few questions.
"I want that staff, cause there's an additional absorption effect in it."
Knowing what I was concerned about, Sei-nee muttered carefree, to what I responded with a wry smile. I worried because I was weak, but Sei-nee who is strong didn't seem to worry. In that case, I'll believe in her and fight.
"Sei-nee, your instructions."
"Me too, Sei-oneechan."
When Myu and I requested her that, she nodded with a smile.
"Yun-chan, can you stall him like you did earlier?"
"I don't have any more 【Clay Shield】 Magic Gem's, but I can do it in a different way. In that case, ignore the situation and just release your magic."
"Myu-chan, try holding him down while making absolutely sure you don't get hit by the staff. I'll finish it off."
Brandishing its sturdy spear in front of us, Mastil Dane prepared itself as if waiting for our conversation to finish. In accordance to Sei-nee's instructions, I started running together with Myu. Myu moved left towards the spear, and I made an arc approaching the cane from the right side.
I took out the bow I put away before, and nocked an arrow. I ran through while avoiding the darkness bullets, and used my arrows to shoot down the ones I was unable to avoid.
Myu who approached Mastil Dane started to exchange blows with it, and the moment I closed onto the opponent the staff has been thrust towards me along with a strong wind pressure.
It was unavoidable. If anything, I took a step forward attempting to fall down to dodge the attack. But the staff's thrust has grazed my forehead, and a sound as if a thin glass broke, the attack was invalidated.
Thanks to the 【Gem Substitute Ring】, without receiving any damage, I closed on to Mastil Dane, and spread a large amount of Nucleus Stones I took out from the inventory.
"Come, Slimes! ——《Summon》!"
In response to my voice, multicoloured Slime organisms have appeared. I gave instructions to the Slimes which had no consistency in size or colours.
"Attach yourself to its right foot!"
Mastil Dane swung down its staff on the Slimes which crawled forward to it. The Slimes in its attack range had their nucleuses crushed and disappeared, their HP was absorbed by Mastil Dane.
"The amount of HP is only a few slime's worth! I can make up for it with my arrows alone!"
Having the Slimes take the tank role, I continued to release arrows without stopping.
Because Mastil Dane was dealing with Myu and me, its main target being Myu, a horde of slimes had arrived at its right foot. Even as it tried to hit and crush the Slimes which limited its actions with the spear and staff, although their HP was low the Slimes were resistant to blunt attacks and the amount of HP the boss has recovered was insignificant. Myu used that opportunity to shower Mastil Dane with attacks, and if it focused on Myu leaving Slimes unhindered, they overlapped each other on its foot.
Same as when I fought with the Ghost Knight, I created a pool of mud under Mastil Dane's left foot sealing its movement.
The Slimes' movement halted, Mastil Dane rotated its right leg axis, and the moment it subtracted the spear in preparation for a clash with Myu, its left leg was plunged deep into the mud pool.
"Myu! Fall back!"
In order to avoid a fail by having an ally fall into the 《Mud Pool》, I had Myu fall back.
In the meantime, Mastil Dane was unable to control the momentum of it's spear swing and its upper body had fallen backwards. Now, the finishing touch.
"Last one! Huge Slime——《Summon》!"
The Nucleus I threw into the air changed its appearance into a Huge Slime, and fell down on top of Mastil Dane's body.
"Sei-nee, ready yet?!"
"A little longer!"
The living armour struggled, the number of Slimes under it gradually decreased. Still, the slimes faithfully followed the instructions, and their life burned out as they didn't retreat. The Slimes were worthy of being called 'suicidal', and no matter how many of them were crushed the boss' staff didn't recover sufficiently.
And when the Slimes' restraint weakened, the moment we were waiting for has come.
"Sei-oneechan, do it! If it isn't enough, I'll finish it off!"
Momentarily, with the boss as starting point, everything turned white.
Just before everything broke a disturbing sound rang out, Mastil Dane's body's movement gradually slowed down. The slimes that were binding its arms and legs have become shackles of ice, and damage continuously decreased its HP.
However, Sei-nee's magic wasn't sufficient just by a little bit.
Myu and I started to run, closing on the Mastil Dane's body.
"Now, my thanks for slamming me into the ground, I'll return it back at you! ——《Armour Breaker》!"
The one-handed sword was swung down from above, and a sound similar to glass fracturing has rang out as it pierced the chest of Mastil Dane, opening a gaping hole in the armour. Still, I aimed an arrow towards the glowing eyes hidden behind the full face helmet.
"It's over. ——《Bow Skill - Arrow Stitching》!"
The single arrow which pierced through its head concluded everything, Mastil Dane's body disappeared and turned into particles.
"NNNnnn! Yayy! We wonnnn!"
Raising a loud voice, Myu ran straight to Sei-nee who caught her from the front. She buried her face in Sei-nee's chest, and every time her head was stroked she made a slouchy expression. Since Myu let out her shout of joy first, I've lost the timing to raise my voice as well.
"Yun-chan, come here."
"Yes yes, I get it."
After being called by Sei-nee, I started walking to them. No way, I didn't think my strength would allow me to stand up against the boss. It was a borrowed strength, one that normally is unusable, but that's because my own strength was not sufficient. The next time I fight it, I want to win fair and square. While thinking that——I took a step into the pool of mud.
"...I've done myself in."
The 《Mud Pool》 I placed my left leg in didn't disappear together with the synthetic slimes, and remained where it was. After stepping in the trap I set myself, I could feel as my feet has sank in, then looked at Myu and Sei-nee seeking help.
"...Myu, Sei-nee, help."
"Yun-oneechan. So uncool."
"Oh Yun-chan, I guess it can't be helped. "
Myu stared at me, and although Sei-nee said that, she was happy that I relied on her.
And when I grasped the hands of the two who approached, and tried to get out but——
"W-wait! Why won't it come off! Nn!"
"W-woah, dange... kyaa!"
Although Myu and Sei-nee pulled my hands, 《Mud Pool》's binding strength has instead caused them to fall towards me.
I caught the two, but unable to support myself I fell on my back into the pool of mud. Covered and stuck in mud, stared at each other, blinked and——laughed.
"Hahaha, what's this. So sloppy."
"Come on, it's Yun-oneechan's fault, I want to get angry but... fufu, ahahaha!"
"In the very last moment... it's gotten real fun. Thank you Yun-chan."
Sei-nee scooped up tears that appearing in her eyes because she laughed too much, and instead of getting angry she thanked me.
Like this, the quest to subjugate the boss 【Appointer Mastil Dane】 has finished.
Although it ended sloppily, it was a good thing that we managed to complete our objective.
"No way, although I intended to use and throw away all of them, there were some that survived."
After the 《Mud Pool》's effect expired, what waited for me after I escaped the constraints were disposable Slimes that were ordered to do a suicide attack on the boss. Most of them were wiped out after being crushed by Mastil Dane and by getting hit by Sei-nee's magic collateral, but luckily two Slimes survived, one of them was a water element's Blue Slime and the other was the earth element's Mud Slime.
"Were they lucky, or maybe they were late to attack?"
For the time being I returned the two Slimes which survived into their Nucleus Stones, and stowed them in the inventory. When I'm making synthetic mobs next time, I will restore their HP, though I'll have to do adjustments to the 《Synthesis》 skill.
And, as for the result on the topic of Sei-nee's awaited boss drop——
"Haa, a normal drop. Well, I wasn't expecting much, yeah."
"Ah, I got a staff."
"Me too me too!"
"This is the power of greed sensor! Yun-chan, Myu-chan! Give me one of them!"
Greed Sensor. To put it plainly, it's a phenomenon where the most desired item won't drop for the person desiring; it seemed like Sei-nee was in such a situation at the moment.
By the way, the abilities of the staff that I obtained were——
Staff of Mistletoe ・Mastil 【Staff】
INT+30 Additional Effect : HP Absorption, MP Absorption
It was the actual effect that Mastil Dane used in combat.
I took it out, and showed it to Sei-nee.
"This! This is what I wanted!"
"Then, I'll exchange it for the normal drop you've gotten."
"Is that really okay?"
"Of course, you helped me get the 【Guild Emblem】 after all. Also, I can't use it myself."
"Kyaa! Yun-chan, so manly!"
"Well, I am a man."
I stopped Sei-nee who embraced me, calming her down. As expected, being hugged by Sei-nee at my age was embarrassing.
After she calmed down we traded, and Sei-nee was really happy to have the staff become her own weapon.
"With this my collection of unique staffs has increased again. Thank you, Yun-chan."
"What a waste. The market price of it can easily reach 4mG."
"It's fine since I can't use it anyway. Speaking of which, what will you do with yours Myu?"
"Me? Hmm. I'll show it to Rirei and Kohaku, and consult them if it can be used? If they can use it, I'll sell it to them, if they can't then I'll leave in my inventory and sell it if I need money."
I thought that was weirdly vivid way of using it. I still had one more thing to do before going back.
"All right. There's no enemy so let's dig."
I took out a pickaxe for mining out of my inventory.
"Yun-chan, what are you doing?"
"No, um, I've been running around a lot in combat right? At that time, in the deepest part I found a mining point. It might take a while, so how about you eat some snacks and tea?"
I took these out and passed them to Sei-nee forcibly, then in high spirits started to dig up the mining point.
"A mining point in a boss' location. What will it give?"
Is it just a randomly generated mining point, or maybe a bonus in a boss' location. I swung down the pickaxe, digging, and was able to dig out the best quality materials I've ever managed to gather.
"Ohh?! Fine Iron Ore! Also, there are Gemstones too, and Silver Ore."
As I was mining the point with all strength I had, Myu and Sei-nee were taking a break a bit further away.
"Haa, normally we would have went back home after that. Yun-oneechan's a crafter through and through."
"But, it looks like Yun-chan's having fun. That's probably today's best smile."
I've heard their murmurs for a moment, but the words that followed were drown out by the sound of the pickaxe I swung down. After that I could hear pieces of their conversation.
And, the boss' mining point turned out to be something which could be called a large vein. There were 37 pieces of Fine Iron Ore, 17 Gemstones, and in the end there were 11 Silver Ore pieces. Also, there was a single, unknown green ore I didn't know application of. As for the last ore, I decided to show it to Magi-san, and enhance my crafting equipment to be able to process Silver Ore.
"Was the result good?"
"Yeah, I'm satisfied."
"Why are you more lively than during the battle with the boss?"
That's just how my personality is so I can't help it. Also, I relaxed myself and when we went back I dug in the mining points on the way before exiting the dungeon. By the time we approached the dungeon's outlet, I had a very happy content expression which amazed Myu.
Although we were inside of a dim dungeon before, outside it was already night. When I looked up, I could see a starry sky spread out which was worth a perfect score. Below, under the starry sky the Third Town illuminated by small lanterns could be seen.
"It's already night isn't it."
"Sorry for making you help me out."
"But, it was fun. Also, since I've gotten what I have aimed for, you don't have to worry Yun-chan."
Sei-nee responded to Myu's murmur and my apologies not bothered at all.
"So, Myu-chan, how was today?"
She abruptly asked Myu a question, which Myu answered after blinking repeatedly.
"It was super fun! It was the first time I fought with Mastil Dane, it was exciting! Next time, I'll invite Luka-chan and others... Ah, next time I might be too strong."
As she said with great confidence, I smiled wryly. If it's Myu, then that's most likely how it'll be.
Then, Sei-nee asked the same question to me.
"And, Yun-chan how was today, was it fun?"
"I guess it was. My goal was the 【Guild Emblem】, but I was able to raise my level and mine some ore. Yeah, it was fun."
I responded to Sei-nee once, and then after reflecting upon my words I have once again said that it was fun.
"I had fun as well. I was able to go on an adventure with Yun-chan and Myu-chan, and got the staff I wanted. It was a good day."
I walked towards the town while listening to Sei-nee's words.
Myu's fierce combat with boss. Sei-nee's rare staff drop. And my 【Guild Emblem】. Our goals and the parts we enjoyed were all different, but it was an adventure that satisfied everyone.
"Truly Only——and no less."
"What did you say?"
"No, it's nothing."
Surely, the perspective, the meaning of adventure and the things Myu and Sei-nee focus on are different. But that's also one of the fun things about it.
We returned to the NPC from whom we received the quest.
"Ohh! You hath defeated the Grand Master's ghost! I'll give this to you then."
I received the quest reward, 【Guild Emblem】, and listened to the continuation of his words.
"A knightly order comparable to Grand Master's. No, I want you to build up a wonderful organisation not caught up in the framework of knighthood."
Those were quite deep words. While I thought so——
"But, there are people who sell those right. Yun-oneechan is from the sellers side too."
"She said it! This girl, she poured cold water on this emotional scene!"
Maybe because he was an NPC, but even as he was made fun of the NPC's solemn expression didn't change at all. I retorted, Sei-nee smiled wryly and after Myu's excuses have subsided, I immersed in the afterglow from the sense of accomplishment.
"Quest clear, congratulations!"
The three of us did a high five. The first one who raised both of her arms and urged us was Myu, then Sei-nee followed suit. After being induced to do a high five with both, I stared at the hands which let out a snapping sound reflecting upon the sense of accomplishment I felt.
- ↑ It clearly says axe here, it's probably an authors mistake, don't hold it against me.
Epilogue – Working Gels and Guild Hall
Some time after safely completing the quest and obtaining the 【Guild Emblem】 we passed it to Cloude, and we have evenly divided the reward between the three of us.
Myu used the reward money to repair equipment that had been damaged during the battle with the boss, and to improve it, and Sei-nee saved it for later.
And I made an initial payment for a higher level furnace I wanted——then leisurely thought of how to use the remaining gold.
"Yun-san, I have finished today's harvest."
"Oh, thank you. Leave the items in the box as usual."
Kyouko-san the NPC came in and called out to me as I stood by the counter and was calculating the amount of money I need to pay for a higher level furnace.
And behind her, there were two creatures, a blue and brown Gels.
"...? What is it, Yun-san."
"So, how are they?"
"They're hard workers, very."
Saying so, Kyouko-san returned to her job as the salesperson, she picked up the Gels which were by her feet and put them inside of the pots by the window. The Gels happily trembled, and the tip of their bodies inside the pots could be seen, as if they were looking outside.
"Well, they can be used like that too."
They were a water element's Aqua Gel and earth element's Earth Gel. The two Gels were synthesized anew by using the Slimes which survived the guild quest as a base.
Since I had no use of Slimes I changed them to Gels, and further synthesized them with the 【Slime Nucleus】 I had. As a result of passing them to NPC Kyouko-san, the two started to work as loyal subordinates of hers.
"No way, to think they had a use like that."
Although I left the field management to Kyouko-san, what I regularly see is the Aqua Gel which takes in the water well in its body, and sprinkles it over the field. It was quite a spectacle as it made a small rainbow on the field. Also, after the harvesting is finished, the Earth Gel takes in Soil, Bone Powder and Mulch, and mixes the fertilizer with grass uniformly inside of its body.
Appropriately moistened and with a good amount of air inside, the soil became optimal for farming and constantly yielded high quality herbs.
When I saw the field being cultivated so easily, and compared it to my previous efforts with a hoe, I was happy, but on the other hand I had doubtful feelings. After seeing this fantastical and comical scene two, three times, I fell in love with it and before I realized I already took a screenshot of the Gels.
"If I could make humanoid synthetic mobs, I could sell them to Lyly."
I felt it would be interesting to pass a mob like a Golem to help Lyly plant trees in his personal field. No, if anything, I'd make a town in the field, give the synthetic mobs specific instructions making up a pseudo-monster town, that's romance, it would be fun to watch.
"Well, it's not mine so that would be impossible."
I didn't own a personal field like Lyly did, but imagining it costs nothing. Also, all the 【Slime Nucleus】 pieces I had were all used up.
"You really love that Heat Gel, don't you Zakuro."
Zakuro had its chin on top of an elastic organism, a Gel that continuously emitted heat. Moreover, whenever Zakuro moved the sight of it dragging it together looked like a young animal carrying its favourite stuffed animal or cushion.
And since that Heat Gel cushion had a Slime Nucleus synthesized in, improving its AI, from time to time it moved as if trying to escape. At times like that, Zakuro chased after the escaping Gel as if it was prey, but since it was still a cub and had very short legs it only could look like playing around rather than hunting.
It seemed like the other two Gels were looking at that situation, or maybe not, it was hard to tell.
And the last 【Slime Nucleus】 was——
"Welcome. Mami, Minute."
After my acquaintances visiting the 【Atelier】 called out to me, Mami's triangle hat was raised and a wind elemental Gel showed itself as if saying 'I'm here too'. This one too, had its inorganic reactions changed after synthesizing the AI, and was fulfilling its role as a pet now.
"So? How was it afterwards?"
"I love it. It's so soft."
"Really. Recently she's been putting it on the head to enjoy the vibrations."
I imagined that situation as Minute smiled strangely, and responded with a smile as well.
"Also, about Gantz. He looks envious of the fact we can touch it,if he touches it he might deal damage to it and is in conflict. And, whenever he tries to communicate with his own pet, he's swallowed by it which is really interesting."
"Can't he just take off the 【Martial Arts】 Sense..."
"'If I take it off, it'll be like I lost' is what he said, 'then, I need to master an Arts that allows me to deal no damage.' and he's rushing it, trying to fulfil different conditions to master a different Arts."
For example, there's a 《Finger Attack》 Arts that can be learned by doing a hundred attacks with a finger, it can be learned on a slime while making sure a chain combo does not occur.
The Art that allows to attack the enemy with open hand 《Palm Strikes》, is a progress from the finger and can be obtained by touching Slimes with an open hand. But his reason to do it was a little weird.
"We want to raise our levels now, and need recovery items. Please give us the usual recovery items for mages."
I sold the items to the two 【Atelier】's loyal customers, and saw them off waving a hand. Maybe I should raise the level of my combat Senses as well. And thinking that, I took some time to prepare equipment for hunting and left the store.
In order to do some leveling, I went to the portal, a transportation object in the centre of the town, and faced towards the sounds of construction which could be heard even among the crowd.
After finally obtaining a 【Guild Emblem】, the construction of the crafting guild's hall has began. Currently it was just the building's skeleton, but since the amount of space secured was three times as big as the surrounding buildings took, my chest was filled with expectations.
"There's a lot of change going on eh."
"Ohh! Onee-chan came to see it too?"
When I turned around after hearing a familiar voice, I saw Myu and Sei-nee there.
Just like me, the two came to look at the crafting guild's guild hall, the three of us lined up and stared at it.
"I look forward to it, the guild Magi-san and others make. They'll be doing a lot of things right?!"
"That's right. There's talk that there will be auctions, so we 【Eight Million Gods】 are looking for items to put up on it too. Everyone's really motivated."
"Sounds interesting! The three of us... no can do. After this I have promised to go with Luka-chan and others."
"Ehehe" after saying it herself, Myu recalled an appointment with Lucato and others from her party, and laughed bitterly.
"We'll go on adventure the three of us again, right."
After she spoke abruptly, I blanked out for a moment but nodded soon enough.
"Of course. But before that, go and don't make your party wait."
"Yup! Now then, Yun-oneechan, Sei-oneechan. I'll be going!"
Hearing my answer, Myu shoot out like a bullet and left while waving her hand greatly. Running backwards is dangerous. I thought as I saw her off, waving my hand.
"Myu-chan went off, but, want to go for some hunting with Onee-chan?"
"Hmm. I wonder. I'll refrain myself this time. I want to raise my combat Senses by myself a little."
I see, a shame. And even though I felt Sei-nee shrugged her shoulders with regret, I separated from her.
Not only myself, but the surroundings changed as well. Training their Senses, everyone progressed. The sound of the construction, was the sound of change. While listening to the pleasant sound, I transferred to the optimal hunting grounds for my level.
Name : Yun
Weapon : Black Maiden's Longbow
Secondary Weapon : Magi-san's Kitchen Knife
Armour : CS No.6 Ochre Creator (Outerwear, Underwear, Torso, Waist).
Accessory Equipment Limit 2/10 ▪ Rugged Iron Ring (1) ▪ Substitute Gem's Ring (1)
【Bow Lv31】【Hawk Eyes Lv42】 【Speed Increase Lv23】 【Discovery Lv30】 【Magic Talent Lv42】【Magic Power Lv45】 【Enchant Arts Lv18】 【Dosing Lv24】 【Earth Element Talent Lv14】 【Cooking Lv22】
【Alchemy Lv30】 【Synthesis Lv30】 【Engraving Lv1】 【Swimming Lv13】 【Crafting Knowledge Lv32】 【Taming Lv6】 【Linguistics Lv15】
▪A pickaxe used for mining and 【Mining】 EX-Skill
▪Synthesis Crafting Kit for 5 Items
▪Synthetic mobs of three colours (fire, water, earth Gels)
Hello, ones whom I meet for the first time, and those who I met again. I'm Aloha Zachou.
To those who took have picked this book up, A-san in charge of editing, yukisan-sama who prepared wonderful illustrations, as well as those who read my previously published on the net work. You have my heartfelt thanks.
Following Volume 1, because many people have acquired Volume 2 as well I was able to prepare Volume 3.
Although those who read the novel posted on the net know it, but Volume 3 is something that was newly written.
As a result of re-structuring the web novel into light novel form, some scenes that have been cut out have appeared. What I'd like is to make sure that people who read first two volumes could read the web novel and understand its contents, as well as having the web novel readers connect with book version. Although that would be ideal, it's quite a difficult problem. As a result after meeting with A-san in charge of editing, we have decided to rebuild the story and insert cut out scenes.
As for the Volume 3, I have consulted with editor-san, created plot and wrote story. It really felt like work of a full-fledged light novel writer. I was made painfully aware that what I have been doing up until now were merely modifications and revisions. A-san in charge of editing, thank you very much for consultation. I'll be in your care in the future as well. To those who picked up the book, you can tell where were the cut out scenes inserted from by comparing the book version and web version.
I think this is enough formal talk for the time being, once again I prepared a small story to share with everyone. The story this time is about what happened in a certain game I used as a reference.
First of all, as for traps, I used 『Deception』 series game where I repelled intruders by usage of traps as a reference. The characteristic of this game is that a triggered trap can be chained to a next trap, and depending on the way you want to damage enemy, it's possible to infinitely loop traps. This time I used it as a reference for a trap that can be used to force someone into certain situation.
Next, the boss and the spirit's possession. The story I used as a reference for this were the Demon-Faced Warrior and Ghost Warrior from the 『Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer』. A few turns after his defeat the Demon-Faced Warrior turns into an enemy called Ghost Warrior and merges with another enemy, the enemy used as a base gets way stronger. That's the kind of enemy it is. This two-staged enemy gives a delicious amount of experience, on top of giving items it's also good for high-speed leveling.
The 『Deception』 is a dark game, while 『Shiren』 is a comical roguelike game. Although both of them have different atmosphere, I think they're good games. In this work of mine you can find good and interesting references from games like that. If you feel a déjà vu while re-reading the novel, then that would be a good thing I think.
From now on as well, please take care of me, Aloha Zachou.
In the end, I'd like to once again thank the readers who have picked up this book.
I look forward towards the day I can meet you all once again.
August 2014, Aloha Zachou