TNG Vol. 16 Chapter 2 Part 4

Several days had passed since Baomultan gave the treasure gem to Shin.

The party focused on researching the various items they found.

They also tried determining the item’s components and elemental affinity.

—however…

“After so much research, all we could find out is that it had a strong light elemental affinity and emanates faint purification power…this item is truly a researcher’s bane.”

“The energy it contains is incredibly strong, though. If it can’t be extracted, there aren’t many ways to use it.”

“I guess it’s one of those gimmick key items, you either throw it directly to the opponent or use it as it is, without any processing.”

Items that had very specific usages were not uncommon.

Keys that opened doors in special events only, key items that weakened specific monsters, items that couldn’t even be used as materials.

Most items in the “Key Items” column of the item box fell in this category.

“Since Baomultan gave it to us, I guess it has something to do with purification?”

“Judging by how it shines, I believe that is very plausible. The light it emanates has strong antitoxin properties too, so I can’t help but associate it with Durgin.”

“Why would it go all the way as to give it to Shin, then? It could simply use that force to purify the area…”

Shin and the others continued presenting various theories, sometimes agreeing, sometimes not.

Shin wondered if Baomultan understood that he could dive into the lake and wanted him to hit Durgin directly with the treasure gem, but concluded that he was probably thinking too much.

Baomultan gave the treasure gem to Shin on the day of their first meeting. It seemed unreasonable that Baomultan could tell Shin was able to approach Durgin at the time.

“In any case, thank you for crafting so much equipment. It might have been impossible to analyze the items up to this point without you.”

“That is but one of the results of our research.”

“There is still much room for improvement, but we are glad they were useful.”

Probably because the items didn’t follow the game’s standards, the game era analysis devices were powerless. The golden crystal found in Lanapacea and Baomultan’s treasure gem were both impossible to analyze.

Any results were produced but only by the devices Hydro and Oxygen invented.

They studied how the devices had produced their results, their internal structures, as well as the composition of items, and the devices’ mechanisms and internal workings.

For Hydro and Oxygen, all the machines Romenun was equipped with were also objects of research.

Based on the knowledge acquired from such research, they invented new original devices.

Among all guild houses, Demi Eden and Romenun contained the largest quantity of materials for creation, so they had all sorts of material at their disposal.

“I could learn about properties I didn’t know before too. I might be able to improve my creations even further.”

Hydro and Oxygen’s inventions only produced small results with the golden crystal and the treasure gem, but could tell much more about the other items.

Since the analysis of the two non-standard items was quickly curtailed, they tried analyzing other materials not present in Romenun, for a change of pace and to maybe find some hints.

Even if there was a large quantity of materials present in Romenun, it still didn’t encompass all of them.

Romenun tended to house vegetable materials, while Demi Eden focused on minerals: the stock depended on the owner’s frequently used items. Thus they analyzed minerals they had never tried before.

“In this world, you can try all sorts of things if you have the right ideas, after all. Before you could reinforce items to 50%, but now it goes all the way to 100%. Doubling an item’s effects isn’t a dream anymore.”

“That smile tells me that Shin and Mistress Hecate are truly made of the same mold…”

Oxygen looked at the grinning Shin and nodded to himself.

Apparently Hecate too would often flash such devilish grins.

Shin shook his head to bring himself back to a serious expression.

“Well, putting weapons aside…are there any other research methods? Honestly, I can’t think of anything else.”

Shin had Hydro and Oxygen attempt the magic power infusion-extraction method too, as well as Filma and Sety, who weren’t present when he first tried it.

As a result, they didn’t see anything, just like Shibaid. With such a small sample base, it was difficult to draw any conclusions.

“We’ve already used all our inventions, though. There are other things we’d like to try, but you certainly know what those are, yes?”

Shin nodded to Hydro. There were other tests they could do, but they required having multiples of the items to test.

Since they had no guarantee of ever finding copies of the same item, they couldn’t risk using tests that might change the items irreparably. Thus they were completely stumped.

“About the treasure gem, if only we could talk with Baltan…”

Shin agreed too.

Baltan was its owner, after all. It had to know how to use the item.

Yuzuha said that similar monsters might be able to communicate with it, but monsters capable of speech were very few after all. Shin was already blessed enough by Yuzuha’s presence.

“I can think of someone who could help, but…”

Baomultan belonged to the dragon category: thinking about monsters that could communicate with it, Shin came up with a name.

The problem was that he couldn’t call it so casually. They acted together to defeat the evil deity, so if Shin explained the situation it would probably agree to cooperate.

Shin, however, was not sure to have it come just to act as interpreter.

“You know of a dragon capable of speech?”

“Do you know Tzaobath? It should be a pretty famous monster.”

“The Moonlight Reaper, right? I never saw it, but heard Mistress Hecate talk about it. So Tzaobath would be the someone you know?”

Hydro asked with a stern expression on her face.

“Exactly. Tzaobath might be willing to help. I just thought that if I had to ask it for help, I’d do it in a much worse situation. It’s immensely more powerful than normal bosses, after all. It was on our side for a while, but it was something else, I tell you.”

Excluding monsters outside the rules like Reforgerer, Tzaobath was one of the most powerful beings in THE NEW GATE.

It was not the most powerful because monsters too had opponents they had good or bad affinity with.

In terms of pure fighting power, the monsters with “God” in their name, which players referred to as “Divine class”, occupied the top spots of the ranking.

Tzaobath, however, was one of the strongest even among them. In a book Shin read in the guild during the game era, it was even called the “God-Killer Dragon”.

It was the most powerful dragon monster players could fight, barring a few exceptions.

Shin thought again that it was a real blessing that it didn’t attack unprovoked like before.

“It’s incredible that you could ask it for help…and that it can talk. I didn’t know that.”

“I bet. Before you had no time to talk, you were usually dead as soon as you saw it…”

Being a monster in a game, it was possible to defeat Tzaobath.

Shin had fought and won against it too. At the time, he had all of Rokuten on his side, though.

They picked the ideal equipment, thoroughly studied its attack patterns and formulated a strategy before fighting.

Shin could still remember how fulfilling it felt to defeat it.

Incidentally, the first time they were utterly destroyed.

Even if they had the right equipment and knew its patterns, Tzaobath was so strong defeating it was never a guarantee. If they encountered it without being prepared, even Shin and the others could only flee.

Even Rokuten, lauded as the strongest, could do only so much. It was obviously the same for the other players too. Many players were annihilated before they even had a chance to escape.

As far as Shin knew, other than Rokuten only 3 guilds ever managed to defeat Tzaobath.

“Now that you mention it, Tzaobath remembered that we defeated it.”

Shin successfully defeated Tzaobath twice. Afterwards, it was defeated by other guilds.

It meant that the Tzaobath that Shin defeated had died.

In the game it was normal for defeated monsters to respawn, but Shin wondered if their memories were inherited as well.

“Well, it’d be faster to ask Tzaobath about that.”

They had other things to deal with at the moment, so Shin discarded that doubt.

“Let’s put Tzaobath as pending for now. I’ll go out a little, for a change of pace.”

“That thing you have been doing for a while?”

“Yeah, I finally got the grasp of it. I’m thinking of using it for research somehow.”

Shin nodded to Hydro’s question, then explained himself.

They had tried most research methods currently available, so he hoped to come up with new ones.

“We’ll leave that to you.”

“Why don’t you two try it too?”

“Well, Schnee is a bit too stoic for us…we’ll do things our own way.”

They were good at using their heads, but not at moving their body. So Oxygen added while scratching one of his cheeks and looking in the distance. They would never skip on research, but were scared of Schnee.

“Well, you know her, Schnee is really serious.”

“It’s a bit too much for us, being specialized in mental work. I want to praise myself for not running away the first day, honestly!”

Shin thought Hydro was exaggerating, but Oxygen apparently agreed with her. 

After all, everyone who received Schnee’s training until now -even the advanced Chosen One Wilhelm- said the same thing.

Shin wanted to defend her, but remembered the soldiers who agonized during the training, so he couldn’t say anything more.

“Even so, Shin continues to go train…might you have a masochist streak?”

“Don’t you say another word!! Of course I don’t!!”

One reason was that Schnee was in charge of training, but Shin could continue it also because he didn’t find it particularly harsh.

He was also very interested in the possibility of becoming able to do something he couldn’t during the game.

“Okay, let’s do this.”

Shin left Romenun and activated a skill in an area temporarily reserved for training.

Shin tried moving his body, but it was forced to immobility.

After a few seconds, the magic power that tried moving his body scattered and the skill was canceled.

It was similar to the failed casting of a magic skill.

The fixed movements necessary to activate a skill were said to be like chanting for magic spells.

“Pheew….”

Shin did not lose focus and gathered magic power again.

He recalled how it felt when the previous skill was suppressed, confirmed that magic power was coursing through his whole body, then stepped forward.

What he performed was the Barehanded-type Martial skill 【Eight Petals Palm】.

The eight strikes, starting from a thrust, started cutting through the air. After the final roundhouse kick, Shin’s body stopped.

“Okay, I’m finally getting it!”

“Congratulations. It’s showing results.”

Schnee, who had been watching Shin’s movements closely, smiled.

What Shin actually activated was not the skill 【Eight Petals Palm】, but the art 【Eight Petals Palm】.

Even if the movements were the same, its power and speed were inferior to the skill version.

But, since Shin performed it, the art would easily be more powerful than average skill users.

“It sure took a long time…it’s so easy when forging, why is it so hard with martial skills and magic…?”

Ever since coming to this world, Shin practiced magic manipulation techniques that didn’t exist in the game.

For players like Shin, magic power meant MP. It simply disappeared automatically when using skills, but here the user required a certain level of control.

They were especially important in Creation-type jobs such as forging or concocting.

The mysterious thing was that Shin could deftly control magic power while forging, even if he had never trained to do so.

In case of other skills, and especially martial ones, his grasp and manipulation of the flow of magic power were sadly lacking.

If the requirement was simply infusing magic power, he could do it easily.

“It’s probably true that things vary greatly if the target is a living creature or not. I recall hearing that the person who invented arts also said something similar.”

People used magic power unconsciously. Skills made it more powerful and gave it direction.

Movements and usage were fixed because they made magic power more powerful. So believed until now those who researched skills, or so Shin had heard from Schnee.

In regards to creation skills, since minerals and plants could not use their own magic power or resist outside interference, using magic power on them was easier.

“I think that a major factor is that using skills feels natural for us, as is entrusting our body to them. I had a hard time too, honestly.”

“That’s our “normal”, after all. In the game, suppressing skills or canceling them only meant creating openings, it would have been pointless.”

In this world, however, such actions had a point. In the game, it was impossible to feel magic power flowing through your body.

“Arts were invented by a cleric, right?”

“Yes. I don’t know if he truly existed, but records found in a church stated so.”

The person that invented arts was said to be a cleric, a normal person who could not use skills.

Shin too had connections with the church; curious about the topic, he asked them about it.

The Dusk of Majesty had plunged society into chaos. 

Humans, who had inferior strength among the short-living species, would naturally seek salvation more than any other species.

The clerics born in that era faced the necessity of saving people but also fighting.

Thus they researched a way to fight for the sake of the weak, to ease their pain, even a little, even if they were unable to use skills.

They routed monster attacks and went personally to harvest materials to make medicine for those in need.

At the time clerics were also warriors, knights and researchers.

“It’s really amazing, thinking about it…the church became such a large organization thanks to people like them.”

If they simply continued preaching God’s word, the church would not be what it is now.

As they were frequently involved in battles, they could witness skills many times, so they could notice what was unique about them. The differences in the flow of magic power between those who used skills and those who couldn’t.

The cleric who noticed this performed further testing and research, ultimately succeeding in creating arts, a weaker version of skills.

The reason why both skills and arts were widely used was that skills were rare, but also that arts were easier to use and burdened the body less.

In this world leveling up still meant an increase in stats, but most people were born with the stats of an initial avatar, without any resurrection bonuses.

Naturally, their MP was lower than those with bonuses, so even if they obtained skills their low MP would prevent them from using skills repeatedly.

Since highly effective healing skills also had a usage limit, it was obvious that people would start fighting for the right to receive healing.

Skills required MP to be used and even the basic 【Heal】 could be used only about 10 times per day by an average person.

To reach max level and resurrect with higher stats was normal for players, but impossible for this world’s denizens, most of which would never even reach max level, further exacerbating the problem.

The average level of the people of this world varied by country, but was generally in the 20-30 range. Soldiers tended to be around 100. For a normal person, even 255 was an unattainable dream.

Those blessed with resurrection bonuses -in other words, Chosen Ones- rarely reached level 255.

If a substitute to skills -weaker but not requiring MP and easier to learn- appeared, what would happen? This world was the answer.

Highly effective but hard to learn 【Skills】 and weaker but easier to acquire 【Arts】 filled separate niches.

“Wow…you’re still doing it…?”

“Hey, no need to say it like that”

Shin and Schnee continued training seriously while talking. Eventually Sety approached them.

Her expression clearly showed that she thought Shin was a bit hopeless. She had looked at them before, but this time she apparently had something to say.

“I mean, you can use skills and have ridiculously high stats. What’s the point in learning to use arts?”

Sety didn’t mention it before, but she couldn’t understand why no matter how much she thought about it.

Shin was capable of repeatedly using not only basic 【Heal】 spells, but even area spells that brought down destruction and mayhem, so it was practically impossible for him to be out of MP.

He also had items that fully replenished MP.

“Schnee taught me this, but training to use arts also means that the skills will be powered up.”

“Skills also get powered up?”

Shin too was surprised the first time he heard about it.

“The manipulation of magic power within your body, which is necessary to use arts. Once you fully comprehend it, your understanding of skills deepens too. As a result you can increase the magic power infused in them and arrange them in various ways. It’s just like what you do when you adapt a spell to various situations. Doing this training would help you do that more smoothly and effectively.”

“Ooh, so that’s why…”

Sety had always stayed in the private area with the Tsumugins to protect it, so she wouldn’t know about it.

She did something similar on her own, however, as expected from a Pixie, specialized in magic.

“I suppose I should try it too, then.”

Sety decided that just looking would be a waste and tried activating a skill.

She was a mage, trained to fight as rear support; but to avoid being defeated as soon as the enemy managed to approach her, she had also learned close combat skills.

The skill she activated was one all mages were said to know, the Staff-type Martial skill 【Soundless】.

In terms of movement, it was a simple thrust attack.

Its power was weak, and, as mages usually had low STR, it would cause little damage. It was even called a “no damage skill”.

However, all mages learned it because it had 3 effects attached.

It was the fastest skill from activation to execution -though there were other skills with the same speed- and inflicted both knockback and stun.

Since it had multiple effects, it knocked back the target only a short distance and the stun time was brief, but it could sometimes activate even if the target equipped accessories that nullified such effects.

Its greatest advantage was being able to stop a player’s attacks and put distance between them.

“Mmngh…bwah!”

Sety wielded her staff, trembled for a bit, then collapsed on the ground.

“This is hard…”

“Right? To grasp the flow of magic from that state is really hard.”

“The flow of magic power…can it be really so hard…?”

Sety sat up and pointed her right palm upwards. Without a sound, a fireball the size of a fist appeared.

“So this is an art. When I was still outside I never heard about anything like this…”

“Yes, that’s an art.”

“You gotta be kidding me…”

Schnee looked at the fireball and stated that it was definitely an art, so Shin was surprised and shocked.

Sety had instantly grasped the feeling he had finally reached after many sessions of training. What she said was “hard” was only suppressing the skill, apparently.

“I’m not specialized in magic for nothing. Leave all your magic needs to Sety!”

Sety proudly puffed up her chest, a truly smug look on her face. She could arrange magic spells in her own style, after all: she was surely very proficient at controlling magic power.

“Want me to tell you a hint? Hmm?”

“Arrgh…”

It was all to be ready if a powerful enemy appeared; Shin suppressed his frustration and listened to Sety.

“First feel the magic power coursing through your body, then squeeze it and make it do what you want, then let it flow again. Repeat that to make the magic power that flows when you activate a skill turn into your own color. That’s the first step, at least.”

“How does that make sense!?”

Sety was the type that learned through practice rather than theory: unfortunately, Shin could not process her explanations.

“I believe she is talking about controlling the flow of magic power which activates automatically when you use a skill. To make it do what you say means to control the flow yourself. Am I right?”

“Yes, that’s right! As expected of big sis Schnee!”

Schnee translated Sety’s “practical” explanation. Elves were also proficient in magic, which probably helped her understand.

Shin also complimented her in his mind.

“To put magic power under your control, huh…”

Thanks to the magic power manipulation training, Shin felt that when he used martial skills magic power would flow from his heart to the whole body, while when using magic skills magic power would focus in one spot of his hands or feet.

While focusing on this, he tried activating a martial skill and controlling the flow of magic power to cover his whole body.

“Mmngh…”

But it didn’t go too well.

If he focused on the skill too much, the magic power would flow automatically and activate it.

Since he was so used to activating abilities through a skill to activate it, doing so via control of magic power was very problematic.

At the moment the most he could do was force his automatically moving magic power to stay still and prevent the skill from activating.

He previously succeeded because he kept his magic output low, adding just a bit more made it impossible to control well.

“Gah, it just won’t work.”

It was Shin’s turn to collapse on the ground.

He tried several times, but ended up just trembling, without anything happening. Maybe because he was doing something he wasn’t used to, he found himself drenched in sweat.

“This is normal for those used to skills. Let us persevere.”

“It took a long time to get to this point too, after all. Guess I shouldn’t give up yet.”

Shin knew that mastering the activation of arts meant that he would become able to reinforce his skills.

Things wouldn’t always go so well on the first attempt: Shin resolved again to continue practicing, little by little.

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