TNG Vol. 1 Chapter 2 – Part 5

Shin woke up and saw a ceiling he had no recollection of.

He was about to ask himself where he was, when the previous day’s memories returned to him.

Fighting against Origin, being transported to another world, Tiera’s curse, the duel in the guild…

Maybe I’ll wake up in a hospital bed, logged out completely…..so thought Shin the night before.

“Would be too easy, huh.”

Shin looked around. The room was still dim, signaling that it was still early morning.

“No abnormalities in the barrier or the detection skills. Checking my surroundings as soon as I wake up…is something I surely never did back in Japan.”

Ever since did he employ every caution before sleeping? Shin laughed wryly at his own thoughts and slipped out of the covers.

Shin opened the window, letting the outside air in. 

The slightly chilly breeze blowing on his face, Shin looked down at the people walking up and down the road. It was still early, so traffic was scarce, but he could see that the city was beginning to wake up.

The Bear Point Pavilion’s rooms were slightly higher than other buildings, so Shin could see the whole residential district, the western one. The view of the city -not programmed, different from the ones in a videogame- captured his eyes for a while. 

Shin had gone to bed early the previous night, so he felt refreshed and fully awake. He didn’t feel like sleeping again and looked at the city for some time, when the sun started rising above the walls surrounding the city, gradually enveloping it in warm light.

Soon, the surroundings became fully bright and the people walking about increased.

Shin took out equipment from the item box, a jacket and pants, changed into them and went down to the floor below, locking the door behind himself.

In the hall below there were quite a number of people, some coming to order food, like Shin, others already eating and others leaving the place.

At first glance, almost all of them looked like adventurers. It wasn’t unusual to start moving out at the break of dawn, apparently.

“Morning. Did you sleep well?”

The greeting came from Tsugumi. She was carrying an empty tray, so she had probably just delivered an order.

“Morning to you. Yeah, I slept like a log yesterday. Thanks to that, I felt born again when I woke up.”

“Glad to hear it. You’ll have breakfast too, right? It’ll be ready in a minute, go ahead and sit down.”

“Sure, thanks.”

The previous day Shin had sat down at a table that allowed him to scan the whole room, but this morning he didn’t feel like focusing so much on gathering information, so he sat at the counter.

That morning’s breakfast was black bread with stew. The bread was not too hard, about the same crunchiness as french bread; the stew was rich in vegetables and meat, its volume was more than it looked.

Shin looked around and noticed that all other guests ate their bread by dipping in the stew first: it wasn’t common to eat it as is, apparently.

“Pretty good!”

The stew’s ingredients all retained their tastes, while melting away inside the mouth. Eating it with bread made it all the more tasty.

Surprised by how good it was, Shin asked for seconds of bread and stew twice, then breathed a sigh of relief and fullness. He realized that he had eaten a bit too much.

“You’ve got a good appetite.”

“I thought so yesterday too, but the food here is really good”

“I’m really happy to hear that, so I’ll give you a little tip, free of charge. If you’re planning to go to the guild to pick up your card, you might want to wait a little more.”

“What happens if you go at this time?”

“Early morning is always really crowded. Low-ranked people get shoved out of the queue or forced in other people’s parties, so better be careful.”

“That’s pretty rough. Don’t the guild people do anything about it?”

“They get involved if things are clearly wrong, but the people that do things like that always make sure they dont get found out, so…”

“I see, they’re veterans then.”

Shin was sure that they were small fry, but decided to wait all the same. He wasn’t in danger even if people picked on him, but he wasn’t going to actively look for trouble.

“People like that are never reliable in time of need, though.”

“That’s for sure.”

“Well, that’s how it is. You better take it easy a little more before you go.”

Tsugumi then left Shin and went to take orders from another table.

Thankful to her advice, Shin decided to kill some time before going, sipping fruit juice. He had nothing to do, so he picked up the surroundings’ conversations like the night before and observed what equipment and items the adventurers had.

That morning, he realized that the items he had always used normally in the game era seemed to be rare commodities in this world.

When he opened the item box to change, he remembered the weapons and items on display at Tsuki no Hokora. Most of the items and gear there were for beginners; there were some for intermediate users, but very few.

Shin, who had a series of items for advanced users on display, was a bit sad at the sight. Because of this reason too, he was curious about other people’s equipment. He had looked around a bit the night before too, but now there were more adventurers coming and going, so the timing was better.

“………”

Tilting the fruit juice glass between his fingers, Shin looked idly towards the tables. 

The weapons seemed mostly made of iron and bronze, with few having higher materials. Defensive gear was also of leather and iron; rarely did anyone equip anything with magic enchantments. 

It was still a supposition, but the quality of weapons and armor seemed to have decreased a lot since the game era. Considering this possibility, Shin changed to the lowest-level equipment he had.

His current equipment, 『Earth Lizard Jacket』 and 『Demon Spider’s Thread Trousers』 both used parts found from level 70 monsters. All his equipment was reinforced to the limit, however, so their stats were boosted roughly by 40%. The same thing could be said for the  『Kazuuchi』 at his waist.

『Kazuuchi』 was basic equipment obtained when acquiring the Samurai job: its stats were obviously low. Even if it was reinforced, as players leveled up they would either sell it or put it in their storeroom.

Even such equipment was better than what the adventurers around Shin had, however; clear proof of the state of gear in this world.

Shin thought that considering the situation, Barlux’ equipment was extremely rare.

After 30 more minutes of killing time and gathering intel, Shin left the Bear Point Pavilion.

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Walking towards the guild, Shin looked around at the town.

The day before, probably because of the time when he passed, there weren’t as many people around. Now, though, the roads leading from the western district through the southern one to the eastern one were all packed.

All sorts of stands were lined up along the streets, filled with people eating breakfast or buying lunchboxes. People also set street stalls selling weapons, armor, items useful for adventurers, other items of unknown usage. The streets were so bustling and crowded that it was hard to think that only 2 hours had passed since the sun had risen.

Shin proceeded towards the guild while doing window shopping every now and then. There were many armed adventurers, so he didn’t attract attention even if he had a katana at his waist.

Even so, Shin used 【Search】. Being cautious had become a habit of his. Thinking that he should keep being wary, as he had the letter of introduction too, Shin didn’t stop using the skill.

After about 40 minutes of walking, Shin finally saw the guild’s signboard. He had walked while avoiding crowds, so it had taken more time than the previous day.

Shin opened the doors and entered the guild, just as a group of adventurers left. He had waited before going, but still felt that there were lots of people inside.

Together with Celica, an Elf woman was at the reception. Her pointy ears, just like Tiera’s, were clearly visible, so there was no mistake about her race.

Shin approached the reception and talked to Celica first.

“Good morning, I came to pick up my guild card”

“Good morning, sir Shin. I will bring your guild card right away, please wait a moment. And…Els, this is sir Shin, whom I talked to you about.”

The elf at the reception counter next to Celica’s came closer after being called.

“Good day, sir Shin. My name is Els Balt. I have been told you were looking for me yesterday, did you need something from me?”

Els, who looked in her late twenties, was a beautiful woman, as expected of an Elf. Her waist-long hair was brilliantly green, like the trees of a forest. Her blue eyes were as clear as lakes, while she was rather tall for a woman, at around 170 cemel.

As beautiful and stylish as a model, but she was apparently an adventurer: the world was indeed full of mysteries. 

Shin knew that he shouldn’t just keep staring like that all day, and replied to Els’ question.

“It’s this, I’ve been told it’s for you.”

Shin took Tsuki no Hokora’s letter of introduction from the item box and gave it to Els. He had already activated anti-theft protections: if it was replaced with a fake and taken away, the original item would teleport back to the owner.

“For me…?”

Puzzled by Shin’s ambiguous words, Els opened the letter of introduction and read through it.

She then looked surprised for a second, then whispered as if she couldn’t believe what she was looking at.

“It can’t be…but…”

Celica seemed worried about her colleague’s state, while Shin was wondering about what could possibly be written in the letter.

Maybe Tiera had written about the curse? It was supposed to be a secret for her, though…Shin had no idea about what she could have written.

Els seemed really surprised and continued to mumble something to herself, as if she had forgotten about Shin and Celica’s presence; then suddenly she stopped and looked intently at Shin.

“Er…is something wrong?”

Feeling slightly unsettled by the Elf’s penetrating stare, Shin couldn’t help but say something.

“You have….Tiera’s….please, allow me to thank you as well.”

Els bowed deeply as she finished speaking. Even her tone had changed.

“I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand what you’re talking about…”

Shin was completely lost due to the sudden development.

“Ah…my apologies, it appears I was too shaken. Celica, I need to leave for a while, could you please watch the reception for me? We can’t talk in more detail here. My apologies again, but could we continue in the room in the back?”

Els gave orders in what seemed to be her normal tone. Celica smiled and nodded.

“Yes, I will have someone else watch the reception.”

“Understood…”

Seeing himself led again in the guest room, Shin’s shoulders dropped. Was there going to be trouble again? He agreed, but without enthusiasm. Like the day before, he walked down the corridor behind the reception and entered the waiting room.

Els not only locked the door, but also did something else before sitting on the sofa. Shin followed suit and sat down too.

“Please let me thank you again. I’m really thankful that you dispelled Tiera’s curse.”

“Aah, so it’s about that.”

Els knew about Tiera’s curse, apparently. The letter probably reported what had happened the day before.

“Please raise your head, personally I don’t feel like I did anything incredible.”

“Even so…I too was looking for a way to dispel it, but I couldn’t find the smallest hint. But you did it. It’s only natural to express my deepest thanks.”

She had left to look for clues the day before too, maybe.

“I would prefer if you didn’t make a big fuss out of this. Is this how you normally talk, by the way?”

“I know. In the name of the noble forest spirits, I shall not let anyone know of this information. Frankly speaking, it is not something we can make public. This is the easiest way for me to talk, by the way. Tiera wrote that you were the kind of person that didn’t mind such small things, but does it bother you?”

“Oh, please talk as you wish, I’ll do the same. So? You didn’t take me here just to say that, right? You did something to the door too just now.”

“That was a spell to prevent eavesdropping. I can’t let even the guild staff hear what we’re going to talk about, after all. Well, I just mean to ask you one question, though.”

Shin sighed. He had figured that Els was interested in him, but it felt like abuse of power too.

“Let me tell you first, I’ll not answer to anything and everything.”

“I know that. But I’ve looked for a way to dispel the curse for 50 years, and found nothing….I wanted to know that, no matter what.”

Maybe she also had an intellectual interest in the matter. A mixture of envy and thirst for knowledge brimmed in Els’ eyes.

50 years…she had spent twice of Shin’s age for Tiera’s sake. Even if it wasn’t necessary anymore, it was obvious that she wanted to know the method.

There could be other people affected by the curse, too.

“The curse dispel method wasn’t written in the letter?”

“She wrote it in a hurry, it seems, so it wasn’t written in detail. What do you say, then? I will do all I can in return, could you tell me how you did it!?”

Els leant forward from the sofa. It wasn’t unpleasant to have such a beauty coming so close to him, but her aura now was more fierce than anything.

Shin didn’t know enough about this world to decide if it was wise to talk about 【Purification】.

Els knew about Tiera’s curse, though, and Tiera had written a message to her in the introduction letter. She had also spent long years looking for a way to help Tiera.

“Okay, sit down. I’ll tell you, so please calm down.”

Shin pushed the over-excited Els back on the sofa and sat down again himself.

“The way to dispel the curse is using the Divine-type skill 【Purification】. There are others too, but this is the most sure-fire way I know.”

Shin knew that it was possible to dispel curses with items, but he had not tried it yet, so he didn’t want to state it outright.

“【Purification】….who knew that it had an effect like that…”

Els whispered, frustration clearly present on her face, as if saying “if only I had known”.

Tiera said that only high ministers in the church knew 【Purification】. Maybe Els had some connection among them.

“How many people are there that have learned…no, I should say inherited 【Purification】?”

“I couldn’t say. Only those of a certain rank or above in the church know the conditions to use 【Purification】. Its effects are not fully known either. I have never heard of people outside the church capable of using 【Purification】, anyway.”

“What…?”

Shin’s shoulders dropped again.

If it became known that he could use a skill valuable even within the church, things would surely get really troublesome really fast. Just being able to use skills made one stand out, if the skill was a valuable one all sorts of nasty guests would pile up on his door.

“I have a bad feeling about this…please, not a word to anyone, okay?”

“Of course. I’m a Skill holder too, I know well how often skills are the cause of trouble. I’ll protect your secret, after all you’re Tiera’s savior.”

Els answered with confidence. Shin wondered if she didn’t have to report about this to her superiors, but it seemed he had nothing to worry about.

“Well, just be careful.”

He couldn’t tell her to protect the secret at the cost of her life, not even joking: it would be bad if she took him seriously. Shin wasn’t sure yet how such jokes would be received in this world.

He wanted to avoid trouble, that’s for sure, but it wasn’t a secret to die for, after all.

“Anyway, thanks to you I feel that a great burden has left my shoulders. Even if it’s for her safety, having to stay inside that house for years was far too cruel.”

“Definitely. That’s the reason why I thought of removing her curse. By the way, why did you know of Tiera’s curse? I find it hard to believe that she spoke about it herself.”

She had been exiled from her village because of it: she probably would find it hard to talk about it, especially to other elves.

“I come from the same village as Tiera. I became an adventurer and was travelling the world, but I met her once when I went back. She was still a normal elf that time, a girl with beautiful silver hair and all.” 

“I see.”

“I heard that she had been cursed and rushed back, but she had already been exiled. When I learned about the curse that afflicted her, I honestly thought that she couldn’t be still alive.”

Surviving alone while being afflicted with a curse that attracts powerful monsters was no easy feat. If Schnee hadn’t rescued her, her chances of survival were close to zero.

“She was cursed and saved by Schnee…can’t tell if she’s lucky or unlucky.”

“That’s up to Tiera to decide. She’s free of the curse now, thanks to you, so I just hope she’ll find her happiness now.”

“Right, it’s not something up to us to decide. Okay, so that’s it about this topic. Is there anything else you want to ask me?”

“No, that’s all. Sorry for taking your time.”

“No problem. It’s not like I don’t understand how you felt.”

They had only talked for less than 30 minutes, so it wasn’t a big loss of time either.

When they returned to the front, Celica and another reception attendant were talking. Noticing Els’ return, the other attendant made a small bow and returned upstairs.

“Are you done?”

“Yes, we’re finished talking.”

Shin replied while approaching Celica’s counter.

“Sorry, Celica. I owe you one.”

Els thanked Celica and returned to her desk to take care of request forms probably brought by adventurers.

“Then, sir Shin, this is your guild card. It also functions as an identification card, so please do not lose it. If you do, the replacement cost will be 10 silver Jul, no matter the reason.”

“Understood.”

Shin took the guild card from Celica. His name, rank, affiliation, party etc were written on it. According to Celica’s explanation the day before, such information was not visible to others unless they used a particular item. 

“Might as well try taking on a request.”

Shin moved to the board and looked at the requests posted. Most G rank quests were material gathering or similar chores: both danger and rewards were low.

The average reward, however, was 1 silver Jul coin: adventurers could still earn much more than normal citizens.

“Let’s try this one.”

Shin took one copy of the posted request and brought it to Celica at the reception.

“This request, please.”

“Hillk grass gathering, I see. This request is always available, so there is no time limit. Gather 30 Hillk grass and you will receive 1 silver Jul as reward.”

“If I gather double the amount, 60 Hillk grass, can I get double the reward too?”

“Yes, Hillk grass is used to make potions, so it’s always in demand. Some gather it while completing other requests. So you will undertake this request?” 

“Please. Oh, I don’t really know what Hillk grass looks like, do you have a sample?”

“Yes, we do. Please wait a moment.”

Shin had seen it in the game, but he wanted to make sure. If the color or shape were different, he could end up wasting time.

Celica took a large encyclopedia from the bookshelves behind the counter. She placed it on the counter with a small “whew” which brought a smile to Shin’s face.

“Phew, this is the flora encyclopedia. Hillk grass is…here.”

Thanking Celica, who had gone out of her way to open the book on the page showing Hillk grass, Shin checked its appearance and habitat.

It looked just like it did in the game era: a 10-15 cemel plant with jagged leaves. It always grew in bushes, so gathering 30 specimens would not be much of a problem.

“It’s found in the east and the north forest, I see.”

According to the explanation, it was especially found in the depths of woodland.

“Many end up going too deep inside the forest when looking for Hillk grass, so do be careful. If you go in too far you might be attacked by feral monsters.”

“I’ll keep my guard up.”

Shin had already passed through the eastern forest while going to Tsuki no Hokora, but it was probably better to leave it out. The item cards taken from these so-called “feral monsters” had turned into payment for the inn.

“Take care.”

Shin left the guild as Celica watched him go.

Thinking that he had to buy a map and about what he was going to do next, Shin started walking towards the east gate.

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