Finally we gathered up party members.
The party's commander, highly flexible swordsman Lucato.
A petite power attacker using a long spear and large hammers, Hino.
Fast and with numerous moves, Toutobi who had variety skills required in dungeons and on adventures.
A mage with deadly high powered and wide area of effect spells, Rirei.
Assisting her with the deadly big attacks and having her own magic of wind and water, focusing on high speed casting and timing was Kohaku.
Together with these talented party members I——
"HAa! —— 《Fifth Breaker》!"
In the middle of the forest at night I raised a ball of light above me and swung my sword with the surroundings as bright as if it was daytime.
One after another I continued locating enemy mobs and challenged them solo.
And, for some time I repeated search & destroy battles wiping enemy mobs to finally stop at the area's boundary.
After the battles I confirmed my own Sense status, but the levels hardly changed since I started. I breathed in deeply and spoke towards the sky.
"——UWAHHH!! I'm nowhere near strong enough!"
Once I shouted in loud voice, it echoed in the surroundings. I let out a prolonged sigh and turned around, there were several balls of 《Light》 magic floating and within the range of their effect, I could see the aftermath of the battles.
Several Big Boars and a boss mob - Blade Lizard turned into particles of light and disappeared.
It was all the result of my solo leveling.
"Haa, I'm still really weak after all. —— 《High Heal》!"
Were Yun-oniichan to hear it he would say "you must be joking" or "you're plenty strong already", but under my own criteria, I was really weak.
Onii-chan's Sense build was a hopeless case in the first place, but my build using both sword and magic required expert use.
With the pre-determined amount of resources, to achieve proficiency with both the sword and magic one required considerable ingenuity.
I had to think of the Sense combinations and their allocation. Physical Senses as the base and magic as sub, but the reverse was also common. What I aimed for was perfect balance between the two.
Because of that I could easily end up being a jack of all trades but master of none. To make up for that, I had to polish my player skils.
"To think I would receive damage from a low level boss, I'm still weak."
I muttered so and decided to do my best as not to lose to players who specialized themselves in one direction.
A jack of all trades like magic swordsman had multiple moves to use which was the build's advantage, if I could compensate for the weak points and gain some decisive blows, I would acquire unstoppable strength.
"That's why I was called 【Silver Paladin】. I need to do my best so that they call me that again."
It was my nickname in the β version.
I want to gain the strength to live up to that name once again. This time I want to obtain it not with Sei-oneechan and Taku-san, but with our party.
That had become my goal.
"All right! Another round!"
I got my motivation back! I set up my beloved sword again. This time I thought of rushing through the forest using the way back, but that's when I received a friend call.
"Oh c'mon, and here I got my motivation back, who is it——eh, it's from Sei-oneechan!"
Although I fell into a grumpy mood for a moment because someone disturbed my leveling, after checking the name displayed on the menu my mood changed back 180°.
『"Good evening, Myu-chan."』
"Sei-oneechan, it's been a while! I'm doing fine! Though, we do contact each other in real so I guess you know."
In real, Sei-oneechan is living in a boarding house far away in order to go to college, we keep in touch via phone or mail so we know we're both healthy, but it feels like it's been a while since we spoke ingame.
『"Yup. I've heard from Yun-chan about your lifestyle during summer vacations so it's all right."』
『"Are you doing your homework properly? You can't just play games, you have to work with your assignments too."』
No way, to think that I'd be warned by Sei-oneechan about that. Let's start doing my homework properly from tomorrow on, I'll ask Onii-chan about the things I don't know.
"S-so, why the friend call, Onee-chan?"
When I asked back to divert the topic from my activities during summer vacations and homework, Sei-oneechan went "hmmm", stretching out her voice before she answered.
『"I wanted to know how are you doing, you see. There's a limit to what I can learn from talking with Yun-chan on phone."』
In other words, she wants to ask me how I'm doing in OSO.
So I told Sei-oneechan what happened recently one thing after another.
That I formed a party with Hino-chan continuing from the β version.
How I met with Luka-chan in a stray party and about the unpleasant thing that happened.
About how cute Tobi-chan is and how we played around choosing clothes.
About how the strange duo of Kohaku and Rirei approached us and then joined our party.
When I spoke of my things I experienced so far, Sei-oneechan responded positively over the friend chat.
『"Is that so〜."』
"And, and! With Kohaku's and Rirei's power we beat the Golem and reached the Third Town!"
『"Looks like you've made new friends, Myu-chan."』
Ehehehe. Somehow, I felt like I was being praised so I ended up laughing happily.
『"Speaking of which, do you meet with Yun-chan? I didn't hear anything about how he's doing."』
"Yun-oniichan huh. I invited him for the Crystal Cave's quest, he ended up screaming at the sight of centipedes."
When I recalled what happened back then and spoke of it to Sei-oneechan, she muttered "My condolences, Yun-chan" in undertone. What is that about?
"That's about all I know. I don't know what he's been doing after that. Apparently he's either partying together with Taku-san's party or going around the nearby areas to gather materials."
『"...I see. Was I wrong after all? About the 'Mysterious Bluepot Vendor's' identity."』
I tilted my head puzzled hearing Sei-oneechan mutter that quietly. I wonder if she's been thinking about something.
"No, it's all right. Rather, how is it on Onee-chan's side?"
『"Me? I'm currently preparing for establishing a guild, I guess."』
The guild Sei-oneechan mentioned was a managed organization or a group around which players have gather.
Players who have the same goal, hobbies or preferences gather and are helping each other, enjoying things together is one of the unique ways to play multiplayer games.
Depending on the type of players that gathered, the activities differ. If the core of the guild was made of the combat players, it had become an active battling guild, but there were even guilds where players only gathered to talk with each other and hang around.
"I seee. So Sei-oneechan's doing a lot of stuff too."
『"Yup, that's right. Also, since about half of the crafters from the β version have become combat-based players, I've been helping out with training of the new crafters."』
Really, I didn't think there would be a shortage of potions, *boo-hoo*, Sei-oneechan muttered. Still, I wasn't influenced that much by the sky-rocketing prices of potions and their shortage.
"I have the 【Recovery】 Sense so potions are only insurance for me, but it must be tough."
『"So that it is. Although the prices settled down for now, there's few crafters who make potions with high recovery amount, there's a fierce competition for those that are at reasonable prices."』
It's harsh. Sei-oneechan further spoke about the recent events and hardships.
『"Sorry, Myu-chan. I ended up having you listen to my complaints."』
"It's fine, there's no problem! I'm glad to speak with Sei-oneechan, even through the friend call. Next time I'd like to meet up for the first time in a while."
『"Fufu, I'd like to meet you directly as well. Also, your new friends."』
"Yep! I want to introduce them to Onee-chan! Also, I want to introduce my Onee-chan I'm proud of to everyone!"
Hearing my words, it's somewhat embarrassing, Sei-oneechan said. Although she was on the other side of the friend call, I could easily imagine her put a hand on her cheek and smiled in a troubled manner.
『"In that case, since you can go to the Third Town now how about we go try our luck in there?"』
"Try our luck? Eh, you mean that dungeon?!"
『"Yup. A test of luck to tell your party's fortune."』
As Sei-oneechan said so, I understood she meant a certain dungeon that was there in the β version.
"Sounds interesting! I'll ask everyone else then!"
『"I'll look for a party as well. Let's contact each other later to consult the time convenient for us both."』
"Sure, I look forward to it."
I said so and ended the friend call.
First, I need to ask everyone's schedule in the party.
I thought so and after asking Luka-chan and others about it getting and "okay", I smoothly scheduled it with Sei-oneechan.
Seems like everyone's got lots of spare time during vacations, I thought and started looking forward to the day I meet up with Sei-oneechan. After some time, the day had come.
And, in the location of the meet-up——
*tap tap tap*, I ran over dry ground and kicked off it, leaping.
When I headed with Luka-chan and others from the party to the meet-up place on appointed time, a party already stood in front of the dungeon's entrance.
Among them I found a blue-haired silhouette turned with her back to us and rushed over to her.
Sei-oneechan noticed my voice and turned around, but that's when I leaped and clung onto her so she screamed in surprise.
"Really, Myu-chan. It was so sudden it startled me."
"Sorry, or maybe 'it's been a while'?"
Despite surprise, Sei-oneechan admonished me gently. I looked up at her and apologized, but at the same time I pressed my face against her big boobs, enjoying her broad-mindedness.
"Haa, haa... sisters' beautiful embrace. That chest must spoil people rotten. Ahh, I want to be spoiled like that."
"Rirei. Heeeya, Rirei. Ah damn, she's tripped."
Kohaku tried to bring back Rirei to sanity, as she couldn't take off her line of sight from Sei-oneechan's boobs and smiled suspiciously, but there was absolutely no effect so she gave up.
"Myu-chan, could we start introductions?"
"Got it! These girls are my party members!"
I moved away from Sei-oneechan and introduced everyone in order.
"I'm Lucato. Myu-san calls me 'Luka'."
"A serious girl, aren't you. Please take care of Myu from now on."
"...I'm, Toutobi. Um, nice to meet you."
"A bit of a shy girl, eh? Nice to meet you."
Sei-oneechan spoke to Luka-chan and Tobi-chan one by one, greeting them.
"Next, Kohaku and Rirei!"
"Why'da heck ya introducing us as a set!"
"To save time?"
"Dat's needless consideration! ...ehem, I'm called Kohaku. Best regards."
Kohaku bowed in her kimono-based equipment, smiling broadly. Next to her, Rirei who was also introduced——
"Fufufu, Myu's beautiful big-breasted older sister. Would you please become my onee-sama?"
As Rirei made a disturbing remark, her head was smacked strongly with a folding fan Kohaku held in her hand.
That thing was equipment having the same effect as a wand, but to think it also worked for a slapstick, I wondered.
Sei-oneechan looked at the two's reactions and with a hand on her cheek she lowered her eyebrows as if troubled.
"Oh my, Myu-chan's new friends are quite some unique girls."
"Somehow, Myu's sister's concern and gentleness strangely enters my heart. Especially 'dat she didn't call us weirdos, but unique..."
"Fufufu, isn't she quite a fun Onee-sama. I wonder who was the 'uniqueness' joke about?"
"Dat was you, YOU"
I was used already to Kohaku's and Rirei's noisiness, so I ignored it lightly.
The last one to introduce herself was Hino-chan, who was with me since β version.
"So that it did, Hino-chan. Been healthy?"
"Way too healthy and having lots of fun!"
Hino-chan answered with a big smile. Because of the difference in height they only looked like a neighbourhood onee-san and an elementary schooler, so the atmosphere turned really calm.
Next, Sei-oneechan introduced her party members.
Her party had two men and four women but it didn't seem like the male members had any ulterior motives and the atmosphere was harmonious.
Their relationship seemed good and based on their equipment and stance, they were gamers. Sei-oneechan's members predicted our Sense builds based on our equipment.
It was the same thing here. Luka-chan and Tobi-chan who still weren't used to these kind of things were kindly told about it by Sei-oneechan. Hino-chan, Kohaku and I properly checked up on their equipment by ourselves.
And it seemed like Rirei took a look to check them up just to ignore them later.
"Looks like the party structure is quite irregular with only two vanguards."
"To me it looks like they've got two tanks, three damage dealers and a healer. Also, one of them has a full Red Lizard equipment."
"Speaking of which, Sei-oneechan said that potion prices went up because some crafters changed profession to combat positions, it might be the same for drop equipment."
It seemed like the other party heard us whisper among each other.
"Sei's little sister and her friends."
"Y-yes! Sorry for prying without permission!"
"It's fine, really. As you can see, we're pouring our savings into potions and use drop equipment. Also, I got this equipment by pure luck."
"I'm really sorry."
The female warrior, Mikadzuchi-san who spoke to us said she didn't mind it, but I thought that some of them might have so I apologized once again.
"If I make Sei's little sister apologize I feel like it's gonna get scary later, so please stop."
"Hm? What do you mean by that?"
"That's, well, uh..."
Sei-oneechan came back after speaking with Hino-chan and others and drew closer to Mikadzuchi-san with whom I was talking. Isn't there a way to get out of this situation? Mikadzuchi-san said and her gaze wandered. Then, she seemed to have come up with something good and smiled.
"That's it. Sei's little sister, if you're feeling remorseful, how about a gamer's match against us?"
"Hey, don't think you can get away."
"Well, it's fine Sei-san. It seems like it's going to get interesting."
As if to following up after Mikadzuchi-san, the healer tried to calm down Sei-oneechan. Even without saying it aloud, I could tell what Mikadzuchi-san wanted to say.
"A match in completing this dungeon. As for the criteria... right, how about time attack? Let's see which party can recover the treasure deep in the dungeon first."
Raising her thumb, she pointed at the glossy black stone gate in the back.
"Although I said 'rule' it was just an indicator. If you clear the dungeon before us, it's little sister's team win. Even if you lose the time attack, it will be motivation for completing the dungeon. Of course, we'll aim to complete is as quickly as possible."
How about it? She proposed. During the time attack one didn't just battle against mobs and the dungeon structure, but also against themselves.
Today we planned to enter the dungeon to test our luck. I looked towards Luka-chan and others. Since there were no disadvantages in it and it was merely a test of our strength, they agreed.
"We'll take on that time attack."
"Well then, let's begin immediate..."First let's confirm our party setups and share information we have on the dungeon."——I get it."
Mikadzuchi-san tried to cheerfully head for the stone gate but was stopped by Sei-oneechan.
Seeing that, we faced each other again and started to share the information we had about the dungeon.
This time, the goal was dungeon completion. And the dungeon in question is the 【Mysterious Dungeon】.
The dungeon was constructed to have five levels——the 【Knight Troop's Trial】 was a dungeon that changed randomly every time players entered.
That's why you can't encounter other players inside. Also, there were more characteristics to this dungeon.
First one is that each level of the dungeon randomly changed its structure and the type of mobs that appear.
Second one is that once you complete the challenge presented at each level, you are given a choice whether you leave the dungeon or proceed further.
Depending on this 【Mysterious Dungeon】's random generation and difficulty of the challenges, the time attack's difficulty also changes.
"Then isn't that disadvantageous for us? I mean, Mikadzuchi-san, Sei-san and others have challenged various dungeons before."
"Certainly that would be the case if we competed in a normal dungeon, but the random element here is strong and it's more of 'the luckier one wins'. Isn't it perfect for verifying our skills?"
Although hearing about the match Luka-chan looked our way with a serious expression, but I was quite carefree. My goal today was to have good enough luck so that strong mobs appear on the levels and I can do some leveling.
And that has changed from leveling to time attack.
"Well then, everyone prepared?"
Everyone nodded in response to my question.
"If you guys are fine let's start. First Myu-chan's party will enter, after five minutes our party will enter. If we go in together we won't be able to fit through the narrow gate."
Saying so, Mikadzuchi-san started the usually rarely used timer function from the menu to measure the time.
"Well then, we're going. Ready, go!"
When I said that and the timer's numbers started moving, our party entered the black gate and was blown away to a location with completely different tone.
There were brown brick walls. Also, we saw green-skinned goblins in the distance.
"So this is inside of a dungeon——"
"C'mon Luka-chan, don't doze off. We already started the time attack."
Hino-chan light pat everyone's back, bringing them back then confirmed the conditions for succeding in the menu.
——『Defeat 20 Goblin-type mobs. Remaining 0/20』
"Right off the bat?!"
Immediately after confirming the conditions I fired a light beam, a magic I learned just recently at the Goblins within my range of sight. I defeated two Goblins at once so the count increased by two.
"The first level's difficulty is low, but this one's the type that takes time so let's hurry it up!"
While I said so and took a step forward, Tobi-chan leaped ahead of me.
"...I'll check for traps and scout, leave searching to me."
"Ohhh?! Then please, Tobi-chan."
"Let's take the right passage."
After saying so we left guiding to Tobi-chan and progressed forward.
First we found five, six Goblins and defeated them one after another.
Kohaku and Rirei started by reducing their numbers, then Luka-chan, Tobi-chan, Hino-chan and I beat them all at once.
Among Goblin-type mobs there were the strongest sub-type, Hobgoblins and their subspecies Cave Goblins, but since there was no significant difference in their strength we quickly defeated them.
And, once we fulfilled the condition of taking down 20 Goblins, the brick floor in front of us opened soundly as stairs leading lower appeared.
"It's a time attack so we can't dawdle! Let's go for the next one, c'mon!"
"Just now was... six minutes and a bit. Ain't that quite a good pace."
Kohaku checked the menu for time and announced before we moved onto the next level.
Next, it seemed like the next level had wandering mobs which were something like a degraded version of the Golem called Clay Dolls who also had high resistance to physical attacks.
The condition here was to get five rare drops from Clay Dolls.
For this, Kohaku and Rirei defeated the Clay Dolls one after another. The speed at which we wiped them out was high, but the droprate was normal, so far we were in the dungeon for a little longer than twelve minutes.
Then, the next level had Goblins again.
"The mob allocation's good, the condition is——ahh c'mon, no luck here!"
The condition for the third level was to get an item from a treasure box.
A time-consuming condition in combination with weak mobs, we have no luck, I though depressed. We split up to find the treasure box as soon as possible.
If there was a problem, it would be that it's time-consuming to remove the trap from the treasure box, if it's the type that explodes and destroys the item we would have to search again so I prayed so that we can rely on Tobi-chan for this.
"...I opened the treasure box."
"Yay! I love you Tobi-chan!"
Extremely happy I clung to her, but I moved away right away. Not good, losing time is strictly prohibited during time attack, I thought.
Watching us, Rirei started breathing roughly through her nose but Kohaku wordlessly dragged her down to the fourth level.
We passed the third level at astoundingly short time of three minutes, amounting to a total of sixteen minutes. At this rate we would easily beat the record for a time attack, but I had a hunch that the next level's configuration will bring us back to reality.
"Ahhhh! It's the ten minutes course!"
In front of us rather than a dungeon-like structure, there was just a tall brick wall.
Contrasting with the locations we've been in this dungeon so far, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say this is a boss stage. Waiting in there were a beast clad in flames, a beast with claws of ice, a beast with electricity running through its body and a rock beast, four types in total.
"Four coloured beasts and the condition is——『Defeat all mobs』. All right, let's beat them even if a second faster!"
"Myu-chan, waitt! Without a plan it'll be difficult, let's split so that they can't cooperate and take them down. Let's have each of us pick an opponent we're compatible with."
"But won't that negate the strengths of our party? Kohaku and I can't really take those on our own."
Hearing Hino-chan's proposal, Rirei furrowed her eyebrows and asked.
While I reflected on our choice of words which only was understood by me and Hino-chan who played in the β, Hino-chan politely explained.
"Four-coloured beasts attack in cooperation just like players so we need to separate them and defeat. That's the reason for this plan."
If we can separate and defeat one, we can move to help others. On the other hand, there was danger that one of us doesn't manage their status well and is beaten.
Also, the other reason Hino-chan recommended a split attack was not only to prevent enemy from cooperating, but also to prevent us from getting caught up in her attacks.
With that as a basis, we had to decide whether to fight as a party or separate. And, what everyone chose was——
"If it's better to split, then how about we do that?"
"...if that's the reason for it, I have no objections."
"Yer' right. Still, I'd like sumone stick wit' us, mages."
"Fufufu, in that case we need to choose a compatible target. For me, I guess it'd be Lightning Beast."
After getting everyone's approval, we decided the distribution.
For the Flame Beast, Luka-chan and Kohaku who can use water magic. For the Ice Beast, Tobi-chan. Rirei and I took on the Lightning Beast. And, Hino-chan was in charge of the Stone Beast.
"If you can't continue attacking, focus on defence and wait for everyone else to support you. Okay?"
"Well then, let's go!"
Since the talk was over I dived in.
The four beasts who were lying down immediately stood up warily. We released out first attacks all at once on the beasts we were in charge of.
Receiving my slash as I swung down my one-handed sword at it from above, the Lightning Beast leaped away using the slash's momentum.
Based on how much HP my first attack took, it was stronger than a small fry mob but weaker than a boss.
Starting with my attack, other members and beasts have entered combat, meanwhile the Lightning Beast impatiently watched us. Then, accelerating in an instant the beast clawed at us. I parried it with my sword, then continued to avoid kicks from its hind legs and lightning-clad body, buying time for Rirei. And, when I received a tackle from the Lightning Beast on the sword's side I disengaged.
"Fufufu, I've finished preparations! ——《Flame Pillar》!"
Immediately after that a pillar of flames appeared and swallowed the Lightning Beast. With a look at Rirei I understood she invoked a high-powered spell.
Once I moved to a position from which I could protect Rirei, the beast broke through the flame pillar and rushed in our direction.
In order to protect Rirei I matched the beast's assault and holding out the one-handed sword with my both hands I repelled it. Normally I would continue here and finish it off, but the Lightning Beast's electric shock was transmitted to the sword and I received a 【Paralysis】 bad status.
"——《Cure》! Okay, I can go on!"
Since I was unable to pursue the enemy because of the bad status, Rirei properly finished off the Lightning Beast.
"Fufufu, now, what's next?"
While thinking of Rirei as very reliable considering she defeated the enemy all at once using a high powered spell, I looked at other members' fight against the beasts.
Luka-chan and Kohaku confronted the Flame Beast, Luka-chan restrained the beast's movements while Kohaku attacked it with water magic. It seemed like they would finish it off soon, so they were low priority for supporting.
Next was Tobi-chan who confronted the Ice Beast had low direct attack power and was unable to deliver much damage, but she withdrew after dealing one blow every time so she stacked small amounts of damage at high speed.
And, Hino-chan in charge of the Rock Beast——
Swinging down her sledgehammer she crushed the beast's rocky skin. This way of fighting was different from her usual one and was more suitable for a time attack.
It was a no-guard tactics she would normally never use, completely abandoning defence and just focusing on dealing maximum damage to defeat the enemy efficiently. As the Rock Beast approached her to attack, she received its attack and immediately launched a counter with Art.
This manner of attacking which took limited time and ignored the surroundings was the reason why Hino-chan proposed to split up.
I immediately used recovery magic on Hino-chan.
"Ohhh?! Thanks, Myu-chan!"
"Hino-chan! You're being too reckless!"
"Am I? This is normal during a time attack, but sorry to worry you. Well then, I'll be going to Luka-chan and Kohaku, you two go assist Tobi-chan."
Saying just that, Hino-chan changed weapon from the hammer to a long spear and broke into a run.
I looked at her movements for a moment longer, but it seemed like she took my worrying to herself and used a solid playstyle as she cooperated with the other two to defeat the Flame Beast.
I felt that my worry for Hino-chan was baseless and focused on cooperating with Tobi-chan to defeat the Ice Beast.
Twenty-two minutes passed at this point. Thanks to Hino-chan forcefully beating down the Rock Beast and immediately assisting Luka-chan and Kohaku, we might be able to update the record time for time attack.
With expectations and anxiety I stepped into the fifth level and the moment I saw the condition——I gave up on completing the time attack.
"Aaah, we pulled the Dull Dragon."
"So our challenging ends here."
Uh-huh, as I put a hand on my forehead, Hino-chan gave up leaned against wall and spoke.
Puzzled, Luka-chan and others went down the passage entering the fifth level and their expressions started twitching.
Since we moved down to the fifth level there was no way back already and unless we complete the challenge here, we won't be able to leave.
And, the Dull Dragon we pulled...
"What's that? A dinosaur?"
"...it looks like a Triceratops. It might be kind of cute."
"It might look like a herbivore, but 's name a dragon, must be tough t' beat."
"Fufufu, then shall we take a break here?"
The Dull Dragon was the strongest mob that appears in this 【Knight Troop's Trial】. In this dungeon where anyone can go for a time attack as long as they've got good luck, this was a mob you must absolutely not meet. In terms of strength, it was stronger than boss mobs that appear in this dungeon's vicinity.
"Myu-san, Hino-san, isn't it too early to give up?"
"But, it's a mob above the level appropriate for us. Well, it's not like we should challenge it prepared for losing and death penalty, but being unable to get time attack was kinda shock to us."
"It's not like I think we'll lose, but since we've come here so fast we can take a break. I mean, it's durable, tough and rampages violently in this narrow space. It's difficult to avoid."
The Dull Dragon we peeked at from the passage had his tail right beside his main body which was entirely covered in thick and hard skin. It had three horns on its head. On top of that, it had a dragon-specific area-of-effect breath attack.
Since the hall seemed very narrow, the only salvation was that it moved slowly.
"Isn't there some tactic to beat him?"
"Hmm. Well, he's weak against bad statuses and he can be induced to ram into a wall after which we can deal damage to him."
Well, it's a battle of endurance with this guy.
"What is it? Tobi-san. Are you worried about something?"
Tobi-chan was sitting down just like we did and listening to us, but her expression was serious. Poiunted that out by Rirei, she was slightly agitated.
"...it's nothing big."
"Did you notice some kind of hint for defeating it?"
Tobi-chan had the 【Discovery】 Sense allowing her to find hidden things. Even on the way here it was helpful when it came to scouting and finding simple traps. And the words that have come out of Tobi-chan's mouth were——
"...I wondered how did that Dull Dragon enter here."
I almost fell over. No way, it was something like that, I thought and turned towards her to see how she raised her muffler up on her mouth embarrassedly.
"Ahh, I was curious about that too. I wonder how."
"Hino-chan, not you too!"
I turned towards Hino-chan and others, but Luka-chan placed a hand on her chin and seemed to be in thoughts.
"Certainly, it would have hard time entering this dungeon with that size. We can also consider the theory that it was carried in as an egg and grew in the dungeon."
"Lucato, whatta ya thinkin' bout."
Although Kohaku and I were appalled, we immediately switched our mood. Imagining the story background of this 【Knight Troop's Trial】 was also fun in its own way. Every item and location had its own setting.
If I'm not wrong, the quest associated with this dungeon was part of the guild establishment quest.
"...doesn't this dungeon have a setting which says it was man-made for training knights? Something about artificially made location and placed monsters."
"Fufufu, even if you defeat the forcibly gathered monsters in this subspace, they are revived by something magical allowing you to train safely, or something like that."
"But can normal Knight NPCs catch a Dull Dragon? I think it'd be impossible even if a hundred of them gathered."
"Maybe there are human NPCs who have non-standard strength? That would make sense."
Before I realized, everyone started talking about their idea as for the setting of this dungeon. In the middle of it we concluded that the completion conditions are conditions for knights to finish their training and that the mobs were either captured outside or created by mages, we talked about various stuff.
When everyone got fired up talking about it, finally Kohaku participated in the conversation.
"Lemme mix in this talk! What if that Dull Dragon's a dragon tamed by knights, wouldn't that be interestin'? I mean, it seems more elegant and cuter than mobs that appeared so far!"
"Woah, what's with that setting, sounds fun! Also, it would be awesome to have dragon knights flying in the sky. Poking enemy with a spear from Dull Dragon's back as it charges, like a moving fortress."
"Rite! Glad to see you get it, Myu... ah?!!"
Before long, Kohaku who joined the conversation had calmed down and expanded the fan to hide her mouth, embarrassed.
"Well, 'nough of my fantasies. How'd we defeat that Dull Dragon's what's important."
We've talked like that for a while, but thanks to the conversation about the story background motivation has sprung inside of us.
"All right! I'm full of energy too. For the plan——how about target change?"
Hino-chan presented a strategy. It was a way to fight which normally required two or more tanks, but adventure is never fun when you're prepared for everything. And, with no one capable of proposing a better strategy, everyone agreed to challenge the Dull Dragon with it.
"Everyone, to specified location!"
With the commander's, Luka-chan's instructions we spread in the stage for battling the Dull Dragon.
Our formation was: on the right side of the Dull Dragon there was Hino-chan, Kohaku and I. On the opposite side there was Luka-chan, Tobi-chan and Rirei.
The Dull Dragon charged at players and attacked with breath so standing in front of him was dangerous and it's defence was high there. That's why we spread between the left and right sides to reduce the risk there would be if we gathered in front of it, it was a strategy where we attacked the places with low defence and slowly decreased his HP.
Once we moved to our spots on the sides the Dull Dragon stood up and roared.
"I'll go first!"
And, serving as the first attacker was Hino-chan. Holding a long spear she thrust at the base on the inner side of the Dull Dragon's frill.
Receiving an attack in his weak point, the dragon twisted his body, shook his head in protest. Although he tried to guard the weakness on his right side, emphasizing on safety Tobi-chan threw disposable throwing knives from the opposite side.
"The damage is small, but it goes through to him!"
Not to lose to them, I also slashed with my sword at other weaknesses, relatively weak legs and abdomen. In the same manner Luka-chan used a greatsword to attack the same locations on the opposite side.
The Dull Dragon tried to crush us with its legs and hit us with its tail, but wary of those attacks we were able to successfully avoid them.
Then, after a while of attacking the back of the frills' weakness alternately, we noticed Dull Dragon's preliminary operation of a certain specific attack.
At the same time Luka-chan yelled a command everyone stopped attacking and the vanguard distanced themselves from the dragon.
The Dull Dragon's huge body fell on its right side where our group was.
The entire hall strongly shook, we lowered the centre of our gravity as not to fall over.
The sideways fall causing tremors was an attack on par with the charge and the breath attack. But, right after that attack Luka-chan and othershave immediately attacked the exposed fleshy and soft head.
At the same time tremors have subsided Rirei released the flame spear she had prepared which pierced the dragon's abdomen. The Dull Dragon raised a voice of anguish and stood up again.
His target changed to Rirei and the dragon changed the direction he was facing, but as not to be in front the left group moved.
Protesting against it the Dull Dragon shook his head to sides and orange light leaked from his mouth. At the same time, Hino-chan and I broke into a run.
"Chaarge! After me!'
"In any case, it's a chance to deal the greatest damage!"
When I ran up on the dragon's back I immediately pierced the back of the frill on its head.
The Dull Dragon's breath was an attack that emitted powerful flame in frontal cone.
While the dragon moved his neck as to chase after Rirei and others, the frill on his head blocked the heatwave making his back the best safe zone and his weakness.
"Well then, I'll protect da three of 'em. ——《Water Round》!"
Kohaku matched the dragon's breath and created a water shield, by offsetting the damage from fire by water she reduced the power of the breath assaulting Luka-chan and others. The breath that had passed by the water shield was received on Rirei's flame wall.
"Ah, breath's ending. Retreat, retreat!"
I hurriedly pulled out the pierced-in sword and sprung away from the Dull Dragon's back.
Next, because we gained a lot of hate the target changed to us from Luka-chan and the others, the dragon slowly changed the direction he faced towards us.
Judging by how he was striking the floor of the dungeon with his tail, he seemed fairly angry – this too was a preliminary operation for an attack.
"A charge is coming!"
"Ahh, 'dis makes me nervous. I dun' like havin' to run at last moment."
Seeing the Dull Dragon kick the dungeon's floor with its hind legs Kohaku made a displeased expression.
If we avoid to the left or right immediately after perceiving the preliminary operation, the dragon would come chasing after us. That's why the safest method of avoiding was to move when he started running.
At the same time Hino-chan gave the signal, the Dull Dragon started his charge.
From the front, the frill spreading from his head looked like an overwhelming approaching wall, we induced it for long enough before avoiding to the side.
"Myu-san, everyone, are you safe?"
"We're fine! More importantly, Tobi-chan!"
The rushing Dull Dragon remained the momentum and struck the wall gouging a big hole in it. While a cloud of sand rolled in we confirmed each other's safety. Meanwhile, Tobi-chan approached the dragon silently and climbing on his back she safely arrived by the completely open to attacks frill.
"...starting. ——《Neck Hunt》!"
She activated an Art at the weakness in the back of the frill, spreading a red, blood-like effect.
By overlapping the effect of attacking the weak point of the dragon and using an art that a special effect, Tobi-chan who had the lowest attack power among the vanguards has dealt the largest damage so far.
Tobi-chan immediately leaped away from the dragon's back and returned back to Luka-chan and Rirei to prepare for the next attack.
By damaging the Dull Dragon from the sides we gradually cut down his HP.
Then, with none of us receiving much damage our focus was nearly lost, the events moved rapidly.
"There's 20% HP remaining! Just a little more!"
"Fufufu, then let's decide it here. Kohaku, match my timing!"
"No need to order me, I'll properly finish 't off!"
Kohaku and Rirei spoke to each other from the sides of the dragon, then fired their strongest attacks.
The two's magic gained power from a synergistic effect and swallowed up the Dull Dragon.
Flames fuelled by wind spread hot air through the floor and and walls of the dungeon as well as released dazzling light.
The dragon's roar has come from inside the flames. I lowered the point of my sword thinking it's his death throes, but the next moment the Dull Dragon charged through the flames.
"Damn it!! Kohaku, run!"
I cried out, but the light coming from the flames hid the dragon's preliminary operation and we didn't notice it until he passed through the flames. When I noticed it, the Dull Dragon was already running straight at Kohaku.
Although I ran as to follow the him, I couldn't catch up. That's when Hino-chan leaped in between Kohaku and the dragon.
"I WON'T LET YOUUUuuu! ——《One Point Thrust》!"
Receiving the charge right from the front, using an Art she thrust the spear at the hardest part on the dragon's forehead.
The thrust spear looked as if it was sucked into the dragon's forehead as it emitted a blue effect. The two pushed against each other for a moment, but then the spear's thrust lost and Hino-chan slammed into the wall.
Receiving an attack from the front, the Dull Dragon changed his trajectory deviating to the right and passed by Kohaku's side, then crashed into the corner of the room with its momentum.
"I'm all right. Go protect Kohaku."
Hino-chan who slammed onto the wall rose up while staggering, then took out a potion from inventory.
Blown away, Hino-chan let go of the spear which remained shallowly pierced in the Dull Dragon.
"Haa, I'm a bit worried about the reach, but let's do it."
She took out her other weapon, the sledgehammer and held it up in both hands.
"Well then, seems like there wasn't enough recovery. ——《High Heal》!"
"I'm sorry. We focused too much on finishing it!"
Rirei spoke words of apology, Kohaku who was saved also wanted to but was unable to speak up.
"Kohaku and Rirei——"
Hino-chan interrupted them and said the following words with a big smile.
"——We're having an evaluation later! I'm included in that too, for letting go of my precious weapon."
After saying so, she looked at the Dull Dragon ahead of her.
The dragon had charged into the corner. Whenever we avoided it we were careful as not to direct it into the corner, but it couldn't be helped this time. The corners decreased the amount of blind spots the dragon had and made it impossible to attack it from both sides.
After getting hit by Rirei and Kohaku's chained magic the Dull Dragon had less than 10% HP left. Even with him having so low HP, there was a possibility of us being wiped out.
The battle will be decided with one strike.
He opened his mouth wide and roared, showing the preliminary operation for the breath attack.
At the same time we all broke into a run to strike at him before he release the breath.
"We're all goin' outta dis dungeon safe! ——《Wind Shield》!"
"At times like these I lament my lack of support skills. ——《Fire Shot》!"
In order to reduce the damage from the breath attack, Kohaku put up a barrier of wind in front of us. Rirei squeezed the few remaining MP to fire bullets of light, but they were blocked by the dragon's tough defence.
Then, once the dragon finished its preparations he started to release the breath he hoarded inside his body from the right to left.
"I'll show you I can cut apart even magic and breath. HAAaa——《Shock Impact》!"
Luka-chan's swung her greatsword down from above, creating a shockwave that pushed the back the breath attack. However, the breath continued and pushed back the shockwave, approaching us——and then passed over our heads.
It was Tobi-chan's skill which shifted the enemy mob's target and recognition. Thanks to that we avoided a direct hit with the breath and the aftermath was blocked by Kohaku's shield.
And, the two of us who closed onto the dragon used our Arts.
"I'll break down that defence of yours! ——《Armor Break》!"
I let out a slash that had the effect of lowering enemy's defence which had reduced the dragon's defence power. While the attack itself was blocked, I left the rest to Hino-chan.
The hammer swung without any hesitation was sucked straight towards the Dull Dragon's head. And, it had hit the pierced-in spear's ferrule. The spear pierced through the forehead and following it, the hammer crushed the skull.
A moment of silence. And, after a slight delay the Dull Dragon fell on his side. Following that, when we received a reward for fulfilling condition of the fifth level and for clearing the dungeon we realized we defeated the dragon.
"Yess! Dungeon cleared!"
When we cleared all five levels of the dungeon and left to the outside through the same black gate we entered through, we were greeted by the sunlight.
In the end, the time attack took us more than an hour.
"Welcome back, Myu-chan."
"Sei-oneechan, I'm back. As I thought, we were slooower, ehh〜. It's all that Dull Dragon's faulttt!"
The time attack match was our defeat. I thought, and exhausted I clung onto Sei-oneechan.
My my, Onee-chan pat my head with a smile and I entrusted my body to her, replenishing my Onee-chanium reserves.
"We lost to Onee-chan's party in time attack, but it's been a good experience. Thanks."
When I said that as I clung to Sei-oneechan, she made a troubled expression, then faced Mikadzuchi-san and others.
Kukuku, laughing deep from the throat Mikadzuchi-san corrected our thinking.
"The time attack's Myu-chan party's win."
"Eh? With that time?"
If we excluded the Dull Dragon we would have cleared it in about half an hour, but the result was that it took over an hour. So, what does she mean by saying we won? When I looked towards Sei-oneechan, she spoke with a bitter look.
"Um... just like Myu-chan's party, we got a Dull Dragon on the very first floor."
Ahh, so we weren't the only ones with bad luck, I thought, but it seemed like Sei-oneechan's party had it even worse.
"We somehow managed to reduce the damage to one casualty and moved on, but there was another Dull Dragon waiting on the second level."
"To think we'd get a second Dull Dragon, then upon the very meeting as if to say "Hey, it's been a while. NOW DIE." he attacked us with a breath right from the start."
Although it wasn't impossible with random generation, there was an ultra-super-extremely low probability for that. Just how unlucky do you have to be to get it. While thinking that, I also started considering the fact that we got one Dull Dragon to be lucky, since we also received some delicious amount of experience.
"Uuu, with that opening breath two people retired. Those of us who remained put up a good fight, but we were defeated."
"The time we challenged the time attack for was 27 minutes, then we were defeated by the Dull Dragon. Well, our levels went up during battle so it wasn't all that bad."
"In exchange, we used plenty of consumables like Potions and MP potions so we need to replenish them."
Sei-oneechan put on a troubled smile. It seemed like they were in the middle of chatting as they wait for death penalty to expire.
Meanwhile, Sei-oneechan muttered.
"Still, that's what you call Greed Sensor, right. You look for some item and you get everything but that one. I hope that the Dull Dragon doesn't come out, and here it comes."
"Greed Sensor? Was there an item you wanted?"
Hearing her mutter I asked and got and answer.
"We actually wanted a 【Knight's Emblem】 for the second stage of the guild founding quest ahead of time. Well, we haven't progressed with other related quests yet so I plan to work together with Mikadzuchi without haste to get one."
"Hmm. 【Knight's Emblem】 huh."
I don't remember getting such an item. When I thought so, Tobi-chan timidly raised her hand.
"...u-um, I have that item."
"Eh? Did you get one?"
"...I got it from a treasure box on the third level but I left drop confirmation for later since we were doing a time attack."
"Ahh, since we've finished completing the dungeon let's check our loot. We didn't check what we got from the Dull Dragon either."
Agreeing with Hino-chan's proposal, we did the drop confirmation we have postponed earlier.
Since we progressed with a time attack and minimal amount of combat we didn't get all that many drops. Also, there was nothing eye-catching among the items we got, aside from 【Knight's Emblem】 there was just a normal material that dropped out of the Dull Dragon.
And, as for Sei-oneechan's party——
"That's nice, the strengthening material Sei-oneechan got. Dull Dragon's rare drop, huh."
"Hmm. I'm a mage I won't benefit from the 【Dull Dragon's Tri-Horn】's bonus as much as you imply, Myu-chan."
Sei-oneechan's luck is definitely being used up in a wrong way. She never gets the drops she wants, but she does get the drops others want and get to trade them.
Everyone ends up happy, but whether the process is bad luck or just her luck is strange, its just like Sei-oneechan. And, this time too——
"Then, how about I exchange it for the 【Knight's Emblem】 your party has?"
She tilted her neck and asked.
"Is that fine? I mean, that's a rare."
"I'm a mage so I have no use for it."
Saying so, Sei-oneechan wanted to give up her rare drop so simply. I looked at Luka-chan and others and got "if needed, go on and trade it" in response.
"Got it. Well then, let's trade."
We have traded the 【Knight's Emblem】 for 【Dull Dragon's Tri-Horn】, but I didn't think of what happens afterwards.
While Sei-oneechan's group was pleased to get the item they wanted, we looked at each other wondering who will use this strengthening material.
"This, what do we do about it? If used on weapon it gives 【Physical Attack Increase】 and if used on armour piece it gives 【Physical Defence Increase (small)】 additional effects."
"Fufufu, it's highly versatile. But, it's useless for mages."
"Yer' rite. Then, It's best that one of the vanguards uses it."
Saying so, the pair of mages gave up on the 【Dull Dragon's Tri-Horn】. I too didn't intend on strengthening myself physically since I make a balanced build, and Tobi-chan gave up on it as well.
"Now then, it's me and Luka-chan left, what do we do?"
"I think it's more appropriate for Hino-san than me."
"Is that really okay? You need it too don't you, Luka-chan?"
"I do want it, but the sword I'm using is still a drop item."
Saying so, Luka-chan pat her sword's hilt.
With this the discussion was over and 【Dull Dragon's Tri-Horn】 was passed to Hino-chan.
Receiving it, she blinked several times and made a serious expression.
"We expect a lot of you, Hino-chan."
"If that's the case, then I need to respond to your expectations. I'll sweep away everything with my hammer even harder than I have so far!"
Hino-chan decided to further increase her power she was so proud of to become the party's cornerstone.
And, applause had echoed.
"Really, glad to see such passionate friendship among girls."
"Grr, we aren't a freak show."
"Sorry, my bad."
Seeing Mikadzuchi's reaction Hino-chan puffed up her cheeks and complained.
"While at apologies, how about we get some quest together? I look forward to little sister party's luck."
"Eehh, it feels like we're gonna be used..."
"It won't be anything bad. We'll just do some joint hunting on the frontlines and collection quests."
As Mikadzuchi-san acted flighty, I glanced at Sei-oneechan beside her who lowered her head lightly in apology.
"Sorry, Mikadzuchi is really pushy."
"Hmm. Well, I guess it's fine. It'll probably be some efficient leveling."
From time to time it's also fine to enjoy joint play with people I don't know, I thought, and everyone else looked enthusiastic, too. Although Mikadzuchi-san's and Sei-oneechan's party lost, our members might have wanted to know how strong is the party that fought two Dull Dragons in a row.
"Well, let's go enjoy ourselves."
Along with Mikadzuchi-san's instruction we started moving. I guess the death penalty must have ran out.
And this was the first time we played together with what had later become 【Eight Million Gods】 guild.
Thanks to the results of this time's hunt Sei-oneechan's group advanced the guild-related quest. We gathered specified items for collection-type quests scattered all over the town, then ceded the quest-related items in exchange for drop equipment and strengthening materials.
At that time we rejoiced we got items we can use, but at later date we got completely frustrated hearing what was the total reward for the quests we gathered specified items for. Once again I learned that not sparing time and effort makes that much of a difference.
After some time when I heard that merry but powerful Mikadzuchi-san has founded a guild with Sei-oneechan as her assistant I had a premonition that their guild will be a big thing, but kept that to myself.