TNG Vol. 17 Chapter 1 Part 1

In the tiny kingdom of Passner, Shin engaged in battle against a monster that attacked its capital city.

After freeing the giant dragon Durgin from its 【Brainwash】 status and defeating the Hellscream monster — thought to be the mastermind behind the attack — Shin and Filma, one of his support characters, carefully observed the surroundings for a while.

But there did not seem to be any more hidden hostiles or traps.

Shin and Filma joined with Sety, another one of his support characters, and disposed of the remaining Garmag and Kikiuz monsters.

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“ —I guess we’re done for now.”

Shin sheathed his katana and exhaled deeply.

Even if they could cast large-scale magic spells, the cloud spawned by the Durgin was very large and the spell width was limited to a specific area.

The Garmags and other monsters spawned only in the polluted area under the cloud, but, maybe because the Hellscream was defeated, they started trickling outside the polluted zone little by little.

For the average denizen of this world, even just one of them was a dangerous foe.

Shin also called Schnee, then they continued using magic to exterminate as many monsters as possible.

They used the map to make sure there were no allies or unrelated presences in range while attacking.

The monsters had been following the Durgin, so they weren’t spread throughout the polluted area.

After the cloud created by the Durgin disappeared, the polluted area also started returning to normal. Any plants and trees which had died completely could not return to their original state, but it was still better than the area staying polluted like that.

Shin’s group eliminated all the Garmags and Kikiuz that showed on their map, then headed back towards Passner.

Some monster units might have slipped through, but it would be nearly impossible for Shin’s current party to eliminate every single one of the monsters that spawned on this occasion.

The map could not conveniently display all Garmags and Kikiuz only, after all.

At the very least they could effectively perform their cleanup thanks to the Durgin scaring off other monsters and animals.

If the Garmags and Kikiuz moved to an area with other monsters, however, they would have to check and deal with every single monster presence: Shin’s current group was too small for such an operation.

“Hopefully nothing bad happens…”

“There’s nothing we can do, the area is just too large.”

“As far as I know, those monsters do not proactively attack humans, so we can only hope that applies to them too.”

Sety shook her head in denial and Filma frowned, a troubled tone in her voice.

Garmags and Kikiuz were nicknamed “cleaners”. According to the game’s settings, they could survive by feeding on corpses, without having to attack live humans or monsters.

It would be another issue if a place with a great number of corpses was easy to find, but Shin had heard that monsters had the ability to detect such places.

He wanted to hope they really wouldn’t go attacking human settlements.

“Anyway, we have to explain what happened.”

“How much do you plan to tell them? It’s rare in the current world for a human being to turn into a monster…right?”

Sety tilted her head to the side.

Filma had been sealed into a 『Drop of Erathem』 for a long time and wasn’t very knowledgeable on the current state of the world.

Sety too had spent a long time in a Faerie Village, so her situation was similar. However,  she wasn’t forced to stay inside, so she had gathered information to a degree.

“I think we have to talk about that too, it’s something too grave to just gloss over it. Whether they believe us or not is up to their judgement, though. But the monsters did come out like this, and they don’t know the game like we do, so maybe it will be easier for them to accept it?”

A human, a player at that, had turned into a monster. An item that could control its target, much like how the Collar of Subjugation controlled the Durgin.

These two elements alone differed greatly from what Shin knew of how 【THE NEW GATE】 worked.

The people of this world knew very little of what Shin and the others knew.

Royals, nobles, and such higher caste members could have access to a vast range of information, but it still was very little compared to what Shin and his party knew.

Shin thus thought that they might have an easier time accepting the existence of such phenomena.

“It’s true that technology has regressed a lot compared to the past. They were surprised to see street lights, weren’t they? Well, I guess in the past it was even too advanced, maybe.”

Sety recalled what happened when they reached the town as she looked up to the sky.

“I doubt things will ever return to how they were in the past. The circumstances are too different now.”

Schnee too probably recalled the past, as she answered without changing her expression.

“Anyway, let’s go back first. I’ll tell Yuzuha what happened via Mind Chat.”

Shin and the others looked around carefully to see if there was anything out of the ordinary, then started running.

Shin was running at his normal pace.

Schnee and Filma kept up with him by using physical boosts.

Lastly, Sety kept up by sliding on the ground.

“You’re not flying, is that a modified movement skill?”

Sety’s hovering looked slightly different from the ability attached to Filma’s armor, that allowed it to expel magic power to boost her leaping abilities.

“This is an original skill I made, by combining non-elemental and wind magic…well, I’m just using wind as propulsion while floating, though. I’ve been practicing for a while actually, I can go pretty fast, right?”

Shin was not running at full speed, but she still could keep up with him easily: it certainly wasn’t a speed easily attained by a magic user.

Sety’s stats were focused on magic power and control, so she couldn’t move fast enough to leave afterimages in her wake, as Shin and Schnee did.

This technique was the result of her attempts to overcome such a disadvantage.

Incidentally, Filma’s armor did not simply make her jump by expending magic power, so it worked a bit differently than Sety’s original skill.

Sety apparently came up with it after seeing a player hit themselves with a fire spell to fly in the air. It was difficult to control, however, so she couldn’t fly with it.

With a bit of luck she might manage to fly a little, but she could drop down to the ground at any moment.

“With a little more control, you could fly with that…tell me how it works later.”

Shin’s eyes were sparkling as he inquired about the details.

He could use the skill 【Flying Shadow】 to jump in midair without limits now, so he could do something similar to Sety’s hovering, but in the end he was only jumping, just kicking platforms created in midair.

It wasn’t rare to see flying magic in fantasy fiction, so he always dreamed he could do the same.

“Will you be able to fly, when I’m having such a hard time with it?”

“People can and will surpass their limits, for the sake of a dream.”

Shin tried closing the topic with a cool quote: he was really looking forward to trying.

The only problem was that Sety’s explanations were always extremely hard to understand: he would probably have to ask Schnee to interpret for him.

“You two, we’re almost arrived. Let’s leave the chatting for later.”

The group could move many times faster than a horse, so they arrived at Passner in no time.

They rejoined Yuzuha, who was waiting outside the gates, and entered the town.

Shin had told Yuzuha what happened via Mind Chat; in turn she had informed Garon and through him the authorities, so the news that the monsters advancing towards Passner had been eliminated was already known.

The previously tightly sealed gates were now wide open.

“You really took care of it, just like that…”

“We could see the lights caused by magic all the way here. I almost felt pity for the monsters…”

Garon’s tone was a mixture of surprise and incredulity. Risha sighed helplessly too.

The soldiers posted on the city’s outer walls could see the flashes of magic caused by Shin and the others as they defeated the Garmags and Kikiuz, apparently.

Some of the magic users even trembled as they felt the power of their magic spells, transmitted through magic power shockwaves.

“There’s something we have to tell the authorities. Can we go right now?”

“We could never ignore Lady Raizar’s words, naturally. We were already told that they wished to speak with you as soon as you returned, anyway.”

“That is good to know.”

Shin’s group then headed to the royal palace, with Schnee in the lead. The members other than Garon and Risha were already inside.

They arrived in the room where the king was waiting and found Graffior already there, together with a few other people, likely high-ranked figures of the kingdom.

“I apologize for the wait, sire.”

“Please, do not say that, you are our saviors. I should apologize instead for making you come all the way here.”

Graffior then bowed his head. The other figures apparently already knew what Shin’s party had done for the kingdom, as they bowed their heads as well.

“I believe you were already informed that the Durgin which threatened the city has been neutralized. We sent the information first as we thought it was of the utmost priority, but there are also other things we must tell you about.”

“What would those other things be?”

“There is the possibility that this incident was caused by human hands.”

“!? …please, do go on.”

Schnee nodded and started explaining. The event was actually witnessed by Shin and Filma, but they had already told Schnee about it in detail.

Upon learning about the item that controlled the Durgin and the former player transforming into a monster, Graffior and the others had even graver expressions on their faces.

They were surely concerned about the existence of items that could control powerful monsters, but even more by the fact that humans could turn into monsters.

“This is certainly not information we can simply make public…the human turned monster appeared to be extremely powerful too. We would risk causing confusion among the populace, and nothing more.”

“I fully agree. I believe it is sufficient to inform only the country’s upper echelons first.”

In this world, it wasn’t as easy as before to gather or transmit information.

If a country made a public announcement it would become known to a certain extent, but even in such a case its contents would get twisted as it spread. As the information left the capital, it sometimes even changed to the complete opposite of how it started.

“Drawing up a countermeasure…is going to be difficult.”

“Indeed, unfortunately we do not know of any effective means either.”

【Analyze】 could reveal if the target was possessed, but as few people could use skills at present, it would be very difficult to find anyone in such a state.

Shin and the others were sure that any possessed humans couldn’t be found easily either.

If they weren’t registered as monsters when in human form, they could probably go through monster-repelling barriers too.

“Hmm, first of all, may I inform the kings of our allied countries? I do not know how much we will be able to do about the issue, but something might change even by just knowing about it.”

“Yes. We are going to inform people we deem trustworthy as well.”

Ability and trust. They could share information only with those who had both.

That was the opinion shared by all members in Shin’s party.

In concrete terms, they were thinking of Wolfgang from the Beast Alliance Falnido, Wilhelm in Bayreuth, former players and the support characters of 『Rokuten』 members.

“Countermeasures, hmm…”

After the meeting with Graffior, Shin’s party gathered in the room assigned to them to discuss the issue. As Schnee had told Graffior, there was nothing they could do at the moment.

“Could it be possible to add a status effect removal enchantment when you pass through a barrier? No, the barrier needs to have specific materials to hold enchantments, right…”

In the game era, a possessed target would be found out and exterminated or healed as soon as they got near a town. In the current situation, however, it wasn’t possible to fully defend all locations at the same time.

“We cannot deal with this on our own. Even if we spread our forces there is a limit to the number of locations we can protect, and there is no assurance we could prevent all threats either.”

“That’s right…”

The enemy’s numbers and fighting power were unknown too. Even if they set up countermeasures for possessed players, it would be pointless if the enemy attacked with large numbers of high level monsters.

In the current world, it was impossible to assemble large numbers of former players or Chosen Ones. If a large horde of powerful monsters appeared, even large countries would easily fall.

“A monster might be trying to pull off something on a grand scale.”

“You mean that item was made by a monster too? I know that some monsters have intellect higher than humans’, but…”

Sety and Filma voiced their thoughts out loud.

“There might be demons or devils involved too.”

“That’s the first thing that comes to mind, yeah. Then, the 『Summit Faction』, I guess.”

The church cardinal who had attempted to sacrifice a Holy Woman to a demon was part of the 『Summit Faction』 as well.

A demon had been pulling the strings behind their plans, but even without demon intervention the faction was always up to no good, as Shin and the others knew.

“By the way, it wasn’t players before, but the 『Summit Faction』 was involved in transforming people into monsters, right? We cannot be sure that demons are involved, but the enemy might be not only monsters.”

“That’s right. The people who collaborate on their own free will are the most troublesome ones to deal with.”

Shin nodded bitterly to Schnee’s theory.

There were people not controlled by skills, items or through hostages, people that walked the path towards destruction on their own will, and they were the most difficult enemy to deal with.

They brought nothing but trouble to those around them, which made them even worse than others.

“What are we going to do now?”

“Let’s regroup with Shibaid and the others first. I want to check on Baltan too, just in case. I didn’t use the gem it gave me, in the end.”

Shin answered Yuzuha’s question with his thoughts.

He thought Baomultan’s gem might become useful in the fight against Durgin, but had no chance to use it.

He could remove the item that controlled Durgin without it, so he was confused about how he was supposed to use it.

“That pretty stone…I think you’ll use it soon.”

“You know how to use it?”

Yuzuha’s cryptic words came right when Shin was furrowing his brow about it, so he asked back.

“I feel like I do!”

“You can’t tell me anything concrete?”

“…kuu, no…I’m sorry.”

“Ah!, no no, I don’t mean to blame you. Based on the timing I received it, I was sure I was going to use it in the last fight, so…”

Yuzuha pouted and Shin hurriedly apologized. She was in small fox mode, so he gently patted her to cheer her up.

After a while she started enjoying it, so he sighed in relief.

“…can I pet too?”

“….kuu.”

Sety approached Shin to join in the patting.

Yuzuha looked at Sety for a few seconds, then cried once to signal her approval and rested her head back on Shin’s lap.

“Ooh, so fluffy and soft…I could pet her forever…”

“I keep her fur in top form, after all.”

Brushing Yuzuha was one of Shin’s duties too. Thanks to 『Groomeister』, the highest quality grooming brush, Yuzuha’s fur never lost its luster.

“Guys, you’re going off topic…anyway, we’re not going back to Shibaid and the others immediately, right?”

“Right. We repelled the monsters, but something else might happen. I’m thinking of inspecting the town for any devices, traps or similar. It might be difficult in the royal palace, though.”

Every royal palace had secret rooms or passageways: if Shin inspected in detail he would surely find them, but Graffior would surely not enjoy that. Such rooms and passageways were worthy as long as they stayed secret.

“The king and knights could not deal with the current threats by themselves, so I think they will accept, though.”

“Yeah, there might be something beyond their understanding hidden here, after all.”

Would they rebuild the secret rooms or passageways after Shin’s inspection? In any case, he doubted they would leave them like that.

“Let’s go ask right now, then. It’s going to take some time.”

As Schnee had guessed, Graffior immediately accepted Shin’s proposal.

A few of the other officials made rather sour faces, but did not object.

They probably prioritized eliminating any dangerous hidden contraptions more than an outsider exploring the castle.

“Hm? What’s this?”

In one of the secret passageways connecting the interior of the castle to a forest just outside the walls, they found a trap that paralyzed and immobilized anyone who passed.

What Shin found intriguing was the fact that the paralysis gas tank that served as fuel for the trap was almost empty. There wasn’t enough to paralyze an adult human being.

“It does not seem like there are other traps.”

“…maybe this was his final attempt at rebellion.”

The man who begged Shin to kill him before transforming. Shin thought he might have set up the trap himself.

The inspection finished after 2 days, without any relevant discoveries.

Obviously enough, Shin and the party were asked to keep the castle’s secret sections to themselves.

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