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.