TNG Vol. 16 Chapter 2 Part 1

“The further we go, the colder it gets.”

Tiera, sitting next to Shin, whispered to herself. Her breath turned white as she spoke.

One month had passed since the group departed.

Shin’s carriage, which could travel much faster than average ones, was proceeding through cold white plains, only its wheels leaving tracks on the untrodden snow.

The continent of Eltnia was very large: even inside the same continent as the game era, certain locations had wildly different climates.

The current location of Shin’s party was to the southeast from the country Filma and Sety had been teleported to. They were in the southern side of Est, the upper section of the Eltnia continent.

“If it’s too cold, you can go back inside.”

“It’s okay. I’m not going to freeze thanks to the mantle you gave me.”

Tiera was wearing a knee-length mantle with fluffy fur.

It was meant to shield the wearer from the cold, so its white cloth was thick, but it was made with a special process, making it much lighter than it looked.

The wearer just needed to wear it over the shoulders to be protected from the cold, so Tiera was wearing her Heat Haze series gear under it.

From under the mantle, Tiera’s fit legs could be seen.

If the people living in the area could see them, they would surely doubt their eyes.

The temperature outside was -20℃, after all. No sane person would expose their skin in such weather.

“Northern Hinomoto was also cold, but it’s much worse here. I’ve never seen monsters frozen in a forest like that before”

Tiera’s gaze was directed at a High Wyvern that was frozen solid while resting on half the trunk of a snapped tree, which was frozen as well.

It probably froze after it spread its wings. The right wing, half of the tail and its neck had snapped too.

“Does this happen naturally?”

For Tiera, an original denizen of that world, it was an unnatural phenomenon.

“According to Schnee, we are traveling through an oval-shaped area 20 kemel long. This area is much colder than its surroundings. That’s probably that’s how it always was: before the Dusk of Majesty, it wasn’t too rare for neighboring areas to have different climates .”

“So it went into the wrong area by mistake and ended up like that.”

“Probably, yeah. High Wyverns are usually resistant to the cold, but in this area average cold resistance doesn’t cut it. This is just a theory, but I think that this is an area where the land itself exudes cold air, which was moved here during the crustal shift. I’ve seen similar sceneries before.”

Shin spoke while looking at the High Wyvern.

In his mind, he recalled the “Absolut Kalt” areas, where you risked freezing instantly if you weren’t equipped with enough cold protection. 

If a player entered one such area without being prepared, their avatar would freeze in seconds, becoming unable to move: then they would have to endure the excruciatingly long wait until their HP decreased to zero or they were shattered by a monster.

The player actually felt the cold through their avatar, so players that disliked the cold hated these areas with a passion.

”So that’s why no one lives around here.”

As long as you don’t enter the area there wouldn’t be any danger, but no one would choose to live in such a risky place.

“Oh, we’re almost out.”

Shin spotted the changes in scenery signaling the border of the area.

On Shin’s side, the trees were frozen white and snapped. The other side, however, not only was it not frozen, but it was normal grassland. The border between the areas was extremely clear.

The party proceeded through the grassland towards a deep forest.

“We’re almost there.”

They proceeded through the forest, following the information received by Berett, and eventually reached a clearing. Flowers and plants grew so densely that it wasn’t possible to see past them.

“Is it really here, Shin?”

“Yeah, I just checked with 【Through Sight】. It definitely is. Can’t you see a building over those lotus-like plants, with the plants’ stalks all wrapped around it? That’s it.”

About 300 mel beyond the lush vegetation, there was a building Shin knew very well.

If seen from above, it would appear in a rectangular shape.

The building had no exterior decorations and no systems to attack intruders, but it was chock full of research facilities. That was “Red Alchemist” Hecate’s guild house, the “5th Daze Garden Romenun”.

It looked like three blocks of concrete one on top of the other: in a way, it might seem similar to a prison.

The exterior walls were covered in ivy, so the building’s stone-cold presence was slightly subdued.

A radius of 500 mel, with the building at the center, was under Romenun’s influence, which affected the climate and the growth of the vegetation.

“…it’s really big. Are all guild houses built so large?”

Tiera looked upwards and asked a question.

Celciutos, Palmirack, Rashugum. All the guild houses she had seen were gigantic in size.

Romenun was no exception: it was about 800 mel long, 600 mel wide and 20 mel tall. It was far too large to be a single person’s property.

“Yeah, well it depended on the person, but ours were all huge. Mine and Hecate’s were mostly meant for research, so we needed a lot of space for the materials. I don’t remember the numbers in detail, but the largest ones were probably Rashugum and Miraltrea. Both were built for combat too, so they had all sorts of equipment attached. On the other hand, my Demi Eden was probably the smallest.”

Shin’s guild house, Demi Eden, was about one size smaller than Romenun, at least the part above ground was.

Unlike the other guild houses, Demi Eden, Palmirack, and Romenun had underground facilities too. They were fairly large beyond the visible part.

“Smallest” referred only to the part above ground.

In terms of dangerous content, incidentally, Demi Eden was by far number one.

“Okay, let’s go.”

After checking their equipment, the party entered the lush vegetation area around Romenun.

The paralysis spores and toxins of the plants growing around Romenun were dangerous. Likewise, there were also many plants that caused hallucinations and charm, lulling intruders to a spontaneous demise.

Shin thus had Tiera and Yuzuha wear accessories that would prevent the most common status ailments plants could cause.

Even if Tiera’s stats approached those of advanced Chosen Ones, the area was too dangerous for her to enter without countermeasures. She would risk never leaving the region alive. Yuzuha would probably be fine, but Shin gave her a protective accessory too, just in case.

Other than Tiera and Yuzuha, all others equipped the 『Age of Gods Earring』, which prevented all status ailments, as per usual.

Since it was considered a dangerous area, simply approaching it would be deadly for the average person. That was the reason why Berett and the others could not inspect it.

“I’ve never seen plants like….eeew….”

Tiera proceeded while observing the plants, careful not to touch them, but then pinched her nose and grimaced.

She was looking at a plant called Paragracia, similar to the real world rafflesia. It was also an ingredient to create potions with strong charming effects.

With proper equipment, it was just a smelly flower, but its odor was really overwhelming.

In the game, even if the player felt nausea they wouldn’t actually vomit, but it was powerful enough that some players who recalled it in the real world threw up.

As soon as Tiera showed signs of nausea, Shin and the others used Wind-type skills to disperse the smell. They used one on Tiera too, and she started taking deep breaths to exhale the foul odor.

After proceeding through all kinds of flora, Shin’s party arrived in front of Romenun.

“Okay, the guild entrance is…”

Guild members could enter from an exclusive entrance, different than the one reserved for normal visitors.

Romenun was a research facility which players other than the guild members visited too, so an entrance was made for them.

The party headed towards a location surrounded by large trees, a bit away from Romenun. In its center there was a hidden teleportation portal.

“What is this?”

“A teleportation device. We can go to the first floor underground entrance with this. Looks like it’s still active, so I’ll go on ahead and talk.”

Guild members and their support characters could use it without problems, but Tiera would be left behind, so Shin decided to go by himself first.

Shin activated the teleportation device and, one second later, found himself in a familiar place. Since medicine was often necessary when crafting equipment, he visited Romenun often in the game era.

“Ouch!?”

“Hm?“

When he teleported to his destination, Shin felt something lightly hitting his hips.

He then heard a high pitched voice that could have belonged to a young boy or girl. He looked down and saw a young boy in a white lab coat.

“Sorry, I didn’t think I would appear right in front of you.” 

“No, that’s okay, it’s my fault…too?”

Medium length white hair hiding slanted blue eyes. 

The pretty young boy was Oxygen, a High Pixie and one of Hecate’s support characters.

Shin didn’t know why Hecate created him like that, but Oxygen, a support character who always stayed in Romenun, had a very short stature.

In contrast, the other support character, Hydro, was tall. 

Oxygen was maybe about 140 cemel tall: his head did not even reach Shin’s chest.

The elementary school student-like boy always wore a white lab coat evidently too long for him. Shin didn’t know the reason for this either.

“Long time no see. Do you remember me?”

“Even if I tried to forget you, I don’t think I could…”

Oxygen answered at his usual leisurely pace. He always had a faint smile on his lips.

“I heard you were shut in here for 500 years, so I came by to check on you. I thought Hydro was here too?”

“Now that you mention it, I guess we did stay inside here for a pretty long time. Hydro is in the first floor’s cultivation area, harvesting plants.”

It was almost noon. Hydro was apparently making preparations for lunch.

“Schnee and the others are waiting outside. There’s a lot we’d like to talk about with you, can I let them in?”

“If they’re with you, Master Shin, then I would never say no. Will you come here directly?”

“Yeah, I had them wait next to the portal.”

Many years had passed since someone visited Romenun, so Oxygen hadn’t noticed Shin’s activation of the portal.

Incidentally, if Oxygen was exactly in the location Shin would be teleported to, the portal would automatically shift the destination, so there would be no danger of collision.

Shin went outside, then returned with Schnee and the rest of the party. Before leaving, he asked Oxygen to add Tiera to the list of those authorized to use the portal.

“Oh my, our first visitors after 500 years are Master Shin and his party.”

A few minutes after the party entered Romenun, Hydro joined them too at the entrance.

She too wore a lab coat, but it fit her physique perfectly. She was shorter than Shin, but slightly taller than Schnee, probably over 170 cemel.

Hydro had short deep blue hair and masculine features.

Shin knew that she was a woman, so her hairdo, gestures, and speech reminded him of the male role actresses of a certain all-female theater troupe.

Her beauty was the kind that was often more popular among women than men, though the curves under her lab coat were very feminine.

Her light blue eyes, the same color as Oxygen, looked at Shin with interest.

“Master Shin, does your return mean that Mistress Hecate has returned as well?”

“No, I’m sorry but it’s only me. I don’t think that the others could return even if they wanted.”

Hydro didn’t seem to think that Hecate died. Since she hadn’t kept in contact with the outside world, she probably didn’t know that Hecate, as well as the other Rokuten members, were thought to be dead.

Or maybe, like the other support characters, she thought that Hecate simply *wouldn’t come back*.

“I see. It’s a shame, but I suppose it can’t be helped. She was a whimsical person, after all.”

Hydro spoke while looking somewhere in the distance, giving the impression that she was acting her lines.

“You don’t look like you’re sad, Hydro…”

Shin didn’t say it out loud, but he thought the same thing. He felt like he was watching a play.

“I was created to have meaning when paired with you after all, Oxygen. I do not possess feelings of longing myself.”

What would be the reason to pair a young boy like Oxygen to a masculine beauty like Hydro? Shin decided not to think about it anymore.

“Oh, but enough about us. What will you do now, Master Shin? If you don’t have any plans, there is something I would like to discuss.”

“I don’t have anything pressing, yeah. Any trouble?”

Shin was about to say that something seemed to go wrong wherever they went, but Hydro’s words completely betrayed his expectations, in a good way.

“Baomultan’s area is right next to this, you see. As far as I know, it shouldn’t be dangerous, but I wanted to hear your opinion, just in case.”

The name Hydro mentioned was very nostalgic for Shin.

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