TNG Vol. 1 Chapter 2 – Part 7

The next day.

Shin woke up at dawn and immediately went into action.

He checked his equipment, ate breakfast at the Bear Point Pavilion and proceeded among the crowds. On his way, he bought a simple map of the kingdom from an item shop. 

The day before, he had decided not to buy it, as he would be going to a close location anyway. The situation was different than expected however, so he changed his mind.

The “map” was a simple representation of the kingdom and nearby areas and did not report many details. Shin had no intention of leaving the kingdom yet, so it was enough as long as the map showed the north forest.

Shin left the item shop and walked towards the east gate. In its vicinity, he noticed that people were gathering. Thinking that something might have happened, he decided to take a look.

Shin saw that a horse cart -or rather, something that barely resembled one- , its coachman and several adventurers accompanying it. The coachman seemed unscathed, but the adventurers were clearly gravely wounded and bloody, many of them even missed limbs. There was no exception: all the adventurers barely walked, supporting each other.

It really looked like they had escaped something within an inch of their lives.

“What happened here?”

People had gathered because of the unusual spectacle, but no one tried to approach the wounded group. They were just looking from afar at the guards talking to the adventurers.

(The adventurers are level 131, 129, 118 and 134, huh.)

The leader of the kingdom’s knights was level 188: supposing that equaled being a rank A adventurer, the wounded adventurers had to be rank C or D.

Their wounds and the damage on the cart seemed caused by blades, but judging from the fact that the roof of the cart had been blown away, it would be hasty to conclude that they had been attacked by ruffians.

Soon enough the crowd dispersed and the adventurers were brought away to be treated.

Shin approached the gate and talked to Beid.

“Hey Beid, what happened to those guys?”

“Hmm? Ah, it’s you Shin. They were attacked by monsters and ran away, it looks like.”

No ruffians, after all.

“Really. Do you know what exactly attacked them?”  

“I’ll tell you as long as you don’t go spreading it around. Well, you’ll probably be okay, but…I expect everyone will know soon, anyway.”

“A pretty huge one?”

Shin asked to know what kind of monster could have caused that damage.

“….Skullface. You’ve heard the rumors, maybe?”

“Yeah, it’s supposed to appear in the north forest…right?”

“Exactly. But until now there barely have been any eyewitnesses. We thought they were Pawns, but it looks like stronger ones came out.”

“Jacks huh? …how many people were in the party?”

“2 full parties, 12 people in total. As you’ve noticed, only 4 survived.”

“I see…”

Skullface Jacks’ level ranged from 150 to 250.

Judging from the surviving adventurers, the party’s average level was probably 120.

It also depended on their equipment, but if they couldn’t defeat it in 12, the Skullface Jack’s level was probably around 200, but it could have been even higher.

“A group of high rank adventurers was just dispatched. Maybe the guild master or the leader of the knights will be sent too.”

“Based on the level, that seems pretty natural. Hm? The princess doesn’t go? She’s really strong, isn’t she?”

Shin remembered that the second princess was supposed to be a powerhouse over level 200, so he asked Beid.

“Yeah right…she might be really strong, but there’s no way a member of the royal family will go fight monsters just like that.”

“Well, I heard that she was the aggressive type. She defeated a horn dragon, right?”

“Ah, that…”

In the opposite way of the day before, this time Beid covered his face with his left hand, his shoulders dropping. It was a topic not to be mentioned, apparently.

“Well, anyway, I’ll stay clear of the northern forest. See you.”

“I’m sure you know, but be careful.”

Shin quickly changed topic and headed towards the eastern woods. Court soldiers like Beid had it rough.

Shin arrived at the eastern forest: he skipped the areas he had searched the day before and went straight for the inner parts.

He detected roaming monsters with 【Search】, but they were all small fry for him, so he ignored them.

It turned out to be true that Hillk grass was easily found in the heart of the forest: Shin finally found bushes of it growing there. He continued to look for about 2 hours, but could only find 13: less than half of the amount he had to deliver. Shin then decided to go to the northern forest.

The eastern and northern forest were practically the same, as a single road separated them. Shin then headed west, straight towards the heart of the woods.

After some time walking, Shin found the road: it was large enough for two horse carts to run side by side. Shin supposed that the adventurers must have been attacked by the Skullface around here, as there were pieces of the damaged horse cart scattered about.

He also noticed what looked like puddles of blood and fragments of armor.  

He did not see any corpses, however, as probably the monsters and wild animals had probably already taken care of them.

“So Skullfaces are a threat in this world…”

Shin mumbled while looking at the remains of the cart.

If a single Skullface Jack could create such a commotion, places where powerful monsters roamed freely were surely not fit for humans to live in.

“Well, no point in thinking about that now.”

Shin put away the memories that resurfaced in his mind, crossed the road and entered the northern forest. The vegetation and trees here were thicker than its eastern counterpart: because of this more than half of sunlight could not penetrate them, making the area quite dark even if it was still day. Even just walking in it required careful attention.

Sighing to himself that looking for Hillk grass would be even harder, Shin kept walking.

𑁋

Different from the eastern forest, in the northern one, there were many monsters prowling about. 

The game era’s map function was almost unusable now, but it still showed red and yellow markers around the user. Coupled with Shin’s detection skills, it meant that the monsters around Shin had no way of hiding.

He had no intention of killing without reason, but the highest priority at the moment was grasping his stats, so he fought back any attacking monsters without hesitation.

He fought while using 【Limiter】, adjusting to the necessary strength as needed. In the beginning he fought without holding back, unlike how he did against Barlux, so one blow would blast the monsters away.

The same thing happened also on his way to Tsuki no Hokora, so he wasn’t really surprised, but he couldn’t tell how high his offensive power had become. He could make an estimation if his stats were the same as before, but they had more than doubled, so he had no clear idea.

In the end, the conclusion he reached was to apply the support skill 【Limiter】 to himself, at its max level of X. 

【Limiter】 was originally a skill created for advanced players to play together with beginners: it reduced the user’s stats to half or one-third, etc as it leveled up. This way, players with large differences in stats could play together. It was also possible to use it up to level X from the start.

There was the option of going all out to test the physical changes caused by the status boost, but the surroundings risked paying the price. In order to limit immediate danger, Shin decided to try limiting his strength.

At present Shin applied the max 【Limiter】 only to STR, so its value was 1/10 of the original: 223. He left the other stats as they were. It was more or less the same value of a Human at level 255, without resurrection bonuses.

Incidentally, using 【Limiter I】 did not lower the user’s stats. It was a skill used only to adjust one’s stats, the max level reduced stats to 1/10, while the lowest level did not reduce them at all.

Why did Shin use it only on STR? The reason was that he wanted to know how much damage an average Human could cause to a monster. 

With weapons seemingly mass-produced, killing monsters easily would have made him stand out immensely. It was important, for example, for others not to be suspicious of him when he joined a party.

….of course, another reason was not to go all out by mistake and cause geographical changes.

Shin thus continued to look for Hillk grass while testing his abilities. While doing so, he couldn’t help but think that an item-searching skill would have been really useful. 

𑁋

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