TNG Vol. 18 Chapter 1 Part 6
“Is anything wrong?”
“We are going to travel by sea now. If we continue flying towards the Sacred Place, we will be attacked by Rah Muon.”
According to Gelganger, Rah Muon systematically sank any and all flying objects larger than a certain size. In the game era, the monster was known for causing tidal waves and launching barrages of ice spears, so it was not hard to believe.
“So that’s why we can’t fly…does that happen when you fly out of the Sacred Place too?”
“Yes. That is the reason why flying monsters from the Sacred Place could never reach the continent.”
Around the Sacred Place dwelled all sorts of monsters over level 500: if they all crossed the ocean at the same time, who knows what would happen.
It was apparently rare for monsters born from magic power to be powerful since birth: that was surely one reason why the people on the continent could repel the monsters’ invasions until now.
“It won’t attack if you travel by sea?”
“Not if we move in small groups like this. Rah Muon is not a bellicose monster, originally. It seems to have certain standards, however: sometimes it attacks even if we move by sea.”
Gelganger added that the limited knowledge it was given had no other information. To Shin it sounded like Rah Muon acted in order to prevent powerful monsters from leaving the Sacred Place.
“Schnee, Shibaid, you came here before on inspection, right? Were you ever attacked by it?”
“It watched us sometimes, but never actually attacked, so no.”
“I have also never heard of any attacks.”
The Empire’s inspection patrols were never attacked by Rah Muon, apparently.
Shibaid commented that because of the difficulty of transportation, the patrols were always composed of small numbers, which might have been a reason.
“We will perform the necessary preparations, please wait a moment.”
Gelganger let Shin and the others down, then returned to its spherical shape. It then assumed the form of a ship.
It now looked like a simple boat, but log-like protrusions extended from the bottom, probably to prevent it from toppling sideways.
“Please come aboard.”
Like before, Gelganger morphed part of its body into a staircase-like structure. As soon as Shin and the others reboarded, the monster started moving. The log-like protrusions moved to propel it forward.
Gelganger headed straight towards a cliff: Shin worried it was going to drop down into the sea like that, but the protrusions stuck to the side of the cliff, as Gelganger slowly descended towards the water.
The monster moved without shaking at all: its body rocked more when it finally entered the water.
“Do you have a propeller on too?”
Shin looked at the back of the “boat”, where water was being sprayed upwards.
“It’s faster to move like this, so I mimicked the shape.”
In the present world boats used sails to let the wind move them, often supported by magic.
In the game world, however, most boats were equipped with screws or similar propulsion devices.
Gelganger moved just like a boat in the game era. The other previously flying monsters had taken similar shapes and followed Gelganger: a long line of empty ships trailed behind them, forming quite a bizarre scene.
No other monsters mimicked screws like Gelganger, however. Because of that, there was a rather long distance from Gelganger to the back of the line.
This too was caused by the difference in the knowledge they were given, apparently.
Unlike a Dragon, Gelganger — a monster born on a corner of the continent — had no way of knowing about propulsion devices used on boats before the 『Dusk of Majesty』.
The other monsters were apparently not given the same knowledge.
After a while, Shin noticed the approach of a massive presence.
“The boss of this area is showing up, I suppose.”
“Esteemed guests, please refrain from attacking unless absolutely necessary.”
Based on the size of the presence, it was most definitely Rah Muon. Schnee and the others noticed it too and prepared to be able to act at a moment’s notice.
Gelganger stated that the risk of being attacked was close to zero, but they could not afford to lower their guard.
Tiera, who was looking at the direction Rah Muon was coming from, emitted a small yelp. Shin mentally nodded, as he could understand how she felt.
The first sign of the monster’s appearance were two sources of light, slowly rising from the depths of the sea. Even just one of them was larger than Gelganger’s actual size.
Next, Rah Muon’s silhouette appeared, painting the waters black. It was enough to create tall waves, which rocked Gelganger.
As the waters subsided, the marine monster’s giant face emerged.
It looked like a fish head had been forcibly twisted to be more humanlike. It was enough for some to feel disgusted.
The only visible part was up to the nose: the monster’s size easily surpassed Reforgerer.
Rah Muon’s eyes, currently glaring at Shin and the party, seemed to be glowing underwater, but once above they looked as vacuous and hollow as a dead fish, worsening its unsettling appearance even more.
It was no wonder Tiera would react that way after seeing such a view for the first time.
“Looking at it up close, it’s pretty impressive, huh.”
“Are we going to be okay? We are, right!?”
Filma’s casual tone had a tinge of nervousness. Sety hid behind her when Rah Muon emerged, while Tiera had taken shelter behind Shin.
The following silence was then broken by Yuzuha. She hopped down from Shin’s shoulder and moved to the front of the ship, facing Rah Muon.
The atmosphere was not worrying: she raised a paw as if greeting the monster.
Rah Muon reacted to Yuzuha’s cry with its eyes. The monster’s wide-eyed stare was definitely not pleasing to watch.
A few seconds later, the waters rumbled again. A vibration different from seawaves, growing progressively louder. Ultimately, it turned into a sound that reached Shin and the others’ ears.
It felt like a cacophony of string instruments. There was no actual impact or intimidation, however: it was just Rah Muon’s cry.
It was so loud, however, that they couldn’t help but press their hands against their ears.
Even if it wasn’t an attack, Yuzuha — the one standing closest to the monster — was not unscathed, apparently.
All of her hair was standing on its end, as she cried angrily. Her ears were folded tight.
Probably thanks to her protests, the next cry was much more gentle.
“Is she…scolding it?”
“Looks like it.”
As Filma guessed, Yuzuha’s gestures and cries suggested she was angry at Rah Muon. In a manga, she would surely have smoke and angry sound effects around her head.
Maybe Yuzuha had the upper hand in their power relationship: Shin had the feeling that Rah Muon sank a little lower every time she cried.
“Er, Yuzuha, I think it’s had enough.”
Shin started feeling pity for Rah Muon, so he tried extending a helping hand.
It was fairly surreal and almost comical to see the gigantic Rah Muon all contrite before small fox mode Yuzuha: thanks to that, the party’s nervousness had dissipated.
“Kuu, it said it’ll take us there!”
As Yuzuha spoke, Rah Muon pulled up the Gelganger ship. Its giant webbed hands emerged from the water, pulling up the “ship” with Shin’s party on it, surrounding water and all.
Rah Muon then switched directions and headed towards the remote island the Sacred Place was located on. It was probably keeping the ship tightly balanced, as it did not shake at all.
“So, why is it so helpful?”
“Rah Muon came to say hello to me, it said. Also that it’s annoyed by the monsters leaving the Sacred Place.”
Shin couldn’t decipher their cries, but Yuzuha and Rah Muon apparently discussed their current circumstances.
Apparently, Rah Muon attacked the monsters going from the Sacred Place to the continent because it knew they were not formed naturally. For this world’s monsters, the ones born from the Sacred Places’ magic power were seen as enemies.
Despite being monsters themselves, they did not communicate and even attacked other monsters, so it was not strange for Rah Muon to be hostile. It was not protecting the continent’s habitat or anything grand-sounding like that, but simply viewed those monsters as noxious, or so Yuzuha explained.
If the Sacred Places stopped producing monsters, it would be glad there was less trouble to deal with.
“It’s really fast.”
Shin watched the scenery speed by past them. Rah Muon proceeded without any regards for waves, tides or currents, even faster than a magic-powered ship.
Since it had a humanlike silhouette, it should be hard for Rah Muon to swim while holding up their ship, but it moved quickly and smoothly, without splashes like a human swimmer.
The Sacred Place was surrounded by rocks and coral, so Rah Muon took them up to the edges of the island.
The teams that inspected the island in the past landed near the cliffs, then climbed the rocks up to enter the island.
This time, thanks to Gelganger, they didn’t have to worry about the cliffs, rocks or coral. The monster could simply change to flying mode again and carry them over the rocks.
“Oh, we’re not flying anymore?”
After crossing the cliff, Gelganger landed immediately, so Shin inquired about its intentions.
“We might be targeted by other flying monsters if we did, so we will travel by land.”
Gelganger then changed to the multi-legged shape they first saw it in. Its main body was an elongated oval shape, similar to the ship form. The only difference was that the space where Shin and the others rode on was now covered by a dome-like structure.
According to Gelganger, it could change the pattern on the dome’s surface to camouflage itself. Most of the island was a wasteland, so mimicking the terrain’s color made it difficult to be detected from the sky.
“In that case, I could use a concealment skill to hide us completely.”
“That would indeed allow us to move faster, but would that not trouble you, sir?”
“No, it’s nothing.”
Flying was much faster, after all: Shin had Gelganger take its flying form again, then used 【Hiding】 on the monster.
A few minutes later, they started spotting the high level flying monsters Gelganger had warned about.
Hespenias, centipede-like monsters with firefly wings. Sanguers, a half tiger, half crocodile monster which used the membranes on its limbs to soar. Foaspors, jellyfish-like monsters which could float in the air…and many more flying monsters of all kinds populated the area. SOme of them floated rather than flew, though.
“No battles going on…these monsters don’t fight each other?”
“Sometimes they do, but upon reaching this level-range monsters rarely attack each other indiscriminately.”
Shin observed the monsters while listening to Gelganger’s explanation.
They were all over level 500, some of them even over 600. If they all crossed the sea together, the continent would undoubtedly fall into chaos. From this standpoint, the people owed Rah Muon a great deal of gratitude for keeping the monsters in check.
“Hm? Hey, Shin, there’s smoke rising in that direction.”
“You think so too? Aren’t there monsters fighting there?”
The direction Milt pointed to was on the path of Shin’s group: in the distance, they could see several columns of smoke.
Shin could see several monsters fighting in front of a wall, likely protecting the Sacred Place. The smoke was rising from beyond the walls, so the monsters had probably broken inside.
“The invaders are plant-type monsters, as far as I can see.”
A species of monsters named Trent.
The low level monsters of this type were literally walking trees. They moved slowly and employed simple attacks with their branches. It was not difficult to fell them using axes or swords.
The monsters currently attacking the Sacred Place, however, were advanced Elder Trents, Hellforrests, monsters also called the “Tree Army” and more. All monsters that required strategy to be defeated.
They were not as powerful as Heltoros or Selcikeus, but their levels were much higher than the monsters that formed the Flood.
“The monsters protecting the walls seem to be pretty few.”
“They probably were a poor match against the invaders, and were turned into nutrition.”
A closer look at the surroundings revealed the presence of trees and plants unnaturally sprouting here and there.
Some of them had mummified monster corpses impaled on the branches: as Gelganger said, the fallen monsters were probably used as nutrition.
“Okay then, what should we do here?”
They had not decided whether to cooperate with Gelganger’s master or not, so Shin hesitated.
The Guardians of the other Sacred Places clearly viewed Shin as an enemy, so there shouldn’t be a problem in defeating monsters coming from such Sacred Places.
“My deepest apologies for the trouble. Please wait a moment.”
Gelganger let Shin and the party down, in a place not too far from the battlefield, and returned to its original oval shape. It then charged straight towards the plant monsters.
After getting close enough, Gelganger’s body grew larger and swallowed the Trents.
“Wow, they’re snapping like twigs…”
“It relies on physical attacks even now, I see.”
Trents, unlike animal-type monsters, would not suffocate immediately after being swallowed. They would surely fight back, so Gelganger crushed them under its weight to suppress their resistance.
In a way, it could be said its body was all muscles: inside or out, the output was the same.
Gelganger used its tentacles to catch the Trents that escaped the range of its body press, crushing them one by one.
“Monsters over level 600…dropping like flies…”
“After all, Gelganger’s level is higher than 800. This is pretty normal if there’s a gap that big. It’s a good match for them too.”
Tiera tensed up after checking the monsters’ level with 【Analyze】.
The Trents attempted to use Gelganger to absorb nutrition, but their roots and branches were snapped and melted in the slime’s body.
Their trunks would also melt immediately, if it wasn’t for their thickness.
The battle might have gone differently if they used magic, but none of the Trents that attacked the Sacred Place could use high level magic.
“Shapeshifter monsters with a high level of intellect can use a great variety of attacks, I see…we must draw appropriate countermeasures.”
“Right. Those tentacle attacks are a pain, it can turn the tips into blades too…and I bet it has more tricks up its sleeve.”
Shibaid and the others became more alert after witnessing Gelganger’s attack patterns. It was attacking with methods impossible in the game era, after all.
Gelganger’s body might look soft, but it could repel even Legend grade weapons. It could turn its tentacles sharp and thin like spears, so their attack power had to be quite high.
Right in front of their eyes, Gelganger’s tentacles turned into broadsword-like shapes and swept through the Trents. They couldn’t think of it as a monster with nothing but defensive power anymore.
Shin and the others could only see combat happening at the point breached by the invading monsters: there were no other groups of monsters in the vicinity.
“I apologize for the wait. If you would be so kind as to follow me inside.”
After disposing of the monsters, Gelganger took the old gentleman form again and guided Shin’s party inside the Sacred Place. The gates opened when they approached, without any sign of anyone opening them.
The group thus entered the Sacred Place.
There were monster-like presences here and there, but they did not appear in the group’s field of view.
The spot with the highest concentration of monsters was where the walls had been breached: they were probably already working to fix them.
(We’re on an island, so this was probably a port town?)
Many of the shops they saw around them were related to ships: Shin thus thought that this Sacred Place was once Algaraz, a port city like Barbatos.
Algaraz was one of the ports Celciutos, one of Rokuten’s guildhouses, sometimes anchored at. Shin recognized a few shops, so he was positive.
Since part of the city faced the sea, the walls did not surround it completely: Shin observed the surroundings with 【Clairvoyance】 and noticed that the walls’ materials had changed at one point. They probably rebuilt them.
The building they eventually reached was used by a government organization in the game era.
It was one of the largest buildings in the city, but Players rarely had any reason to visit it. Shin just remembered it was used to give awards to people after events.
“(Looks like it’s different inside)”
“(Frankly, I’d be surprised if they just told us to take a seat in the guest room…it’s also larger inside than it looks. It doesn’t seem to be a dungeon, though.)”
Shin jokingly replied to Milt, then checked the map.
The space inside the building was roughly three times larger than it looked from the outside. There was a second floor and underground space as well.
The interior, previously similar to a town hall’s reception, was changed to resemble a typical human castle, like they had visited in the past.
“Please wait here.”
Gelganger stopped before a large door, on the center of the second floor.
It was about 5 mel tall and 3 mel wide, as if built for giants…or monsters.
“This is as far as I am allowed to go. Please proceed by yourselves from this point.”
Gelganger bowed obsequiously, as the door opened by itself — surely an invitation to go in. In the hall beyond the door was only a single, large presence.
Shin proceeded inside, wary of any traps. After they walked in, the door closed by itself.
“Er, we’re locked inside…?”
“It’s a boss room, pretty much, Basic stuff.”
“You have a point.”
Tiera sounded worried, but Milt and Shin’s reactions were polar opposites. In the game, it was the norm for boss rooms to open only after the boss was defeated, so there was nothing to be surprised about.
They walked straight across the hall. The floor ahead was slightly elevated, with a gorgeously adorned chair at the end of the carpeted path. There were no vassals or servants around, but it looked indeed like a throne room.
On the throne sat a man.
“Thank you for coming all this way, ladies and gents.”
The casual greeting came from a man — who looked exactly like Shin.
The only difference between them was their color. The man sitting on the throne did not have only black hair and eyes, but its skin, teeth, even tiny details like the insides of his mouth, with varying degrees of density, were perfectly monochromatic.