TNG Vol. 18 Chapter 2 Part 5
“As long as we go like this, it’ll feel like the sea, just without waves.”
Tiera seemed to have made up her mind: she did not hide anymore, as her hair fluttered in the wind.
Maybe, because they were sailing on waves of sand instead of the sea, the ship did not rock much, if at all. The currents were far more subdued in the sand sea.
“No monsters to be found…”
The party had been wary of monsters emerging from the sands at night, but nothing happened.
They had been on the lookout ever since they set foot in the sand sea, but could not detect any hostile presence. They spotted a few rare monsters moving about on their own, but they showed no intention of attacking the party.
“I suppose they’re all waiting to ambush us?”
“It’s likely. I’ve been having a harder time scanning for monsters ever since we entered the sand sea, though. They might be jamming our senses somehow.”
Shin did not feel like his scanning abilities were halved or neutralized: but if he tried to extend the detection field, he felt as if he was looking at smoked glass: he could see, but not with clarity.
It wasn’t as if he couldn’t see anything, but the unusual sensation gnawed at him.
“Schnee, Milt, do you feel anything?”
Shin asked for Schnee and Milt’s opinion, as the former had the widest detection range after him and the latter was a former player like him.
“I do feel something is off, but it’s so small that I’m honestly not worried.”
“Same here. It feels like something is strange, but if you told me it was just my imagination, I’d agree.”
The sensation they felt was smaller compared to Shin. He asked the same to Shibaid, but received a similar reply.
“It feels like something is trying to trick our senses. The Boundary Guardian here is based on a Vanwood, so that might very well be true.”
“Now that you mention it, it does feel like that.”
In forest areas and dungeons dwelled monsters with the ability of disrupting detection fields: certain locations also had an innate ability of blocking detection.
“I’m pretty confident if it’s about plant-type monsters, actually. I’m a priestess of the World Tree — the apex of plant life, after all.”
Tiera proudly stated that she wouldn’t lose even to Schnee in that area.
What she said was the truth: if dealing with plants, her senses were sharper than Schnee’s or even Shin’s. It was something she was born with, so Shin couldn’t match her abilities.
Shin nodded, impressed, when his scan picked up something.
They had ignored the occasional lone presences they had felt until then, but the newly appeared monster had an aura that was simply too large to discount: Shin accelerated the ship.
“Ah…could this be…”
“Yeah, it’s here after all.”
Judging from Milt’s reaction, she had surely detected it too. She nodded, showing there was no need for further explanations. Schnee and the others reacted in a similar way too.
“I have a real bad feeling about this…”
Tiera and Sety had smaller detection fields than the rest: one looked at the party with worry and confusion, the other instinctively understood something was up.
“The monster we talked about yesterday, Giant Caput, decided to show up.”
Judging from the size of the presence, it was easily five times larger than the ship. Five times larger than a ship equipped with individual rooms for each party member, a kitchen, and a living room.
Many of the monsters dwelling in the sand sea were very large in size, but even by such standards Giant Caput was incredibly large.
“F-five times larger than this ship? Are you serious? We’re going to fight something like that in a dangerous place like this?”
Shin told Tiera about the monster in more detail, but she couldn’t believe her ears. Shin’s answer to her question, however, was a clear no.
“No way. That thing is massive, but it can’t swim very quickly. We didn’t come here to fight it anyway, so we’re steering clear.”
Giant Caput usually hovered in the 600-700 level range. It was an opponent that required fairly high stats and specialized equipment.
The party’s current objective was the subjugation of the Sacred Place beyond the sand sea: they had no reason to deal with the Giant Caput.
“I’m going to use the acceleration device to propel the ship away from here. We’re going to rock the ship, get ready.”
Shin tapped the control panel and propulsion devices emerged from the sides of the ship. They were more powerful versions of the devices used to move the ship forward.
“Are you ready, everyone? Here we go!”
The ship blasted forward, as Shin was pressed against the pilot’s seat.
Schnee and the others, who had experienced the same acceleration before, remained on their seats, keeping alert of the surroundings. Only Tiera was completely tense.
It was probably the first time for Kagerou and Yuzuha too, but they looked perfectly calm.
Yuzuha, in human form, was even sitting on Shin’s lap, leisurely dangling her legs. It was a mystery how the sudden acceleration didn’t knock her off.
“Woow, so fast! Are we busting into the Sacred Place like this?”
“I’m going to slow down once we’re far enough. If we keep going like this and they have a barrier up, it won’t be pretty.”
The ship was not built to be able to stop immediately. It had brake-like devices, but they could only slow it down. There was no emergency brake. If they encountered an invisible barrier, they would definitely crash.
“Not pretty? What do you mean?”
As they were surrounded by sands, it was hard to tell, but the scenery was still blowing past them at incredible speed: Tiera imagined the “not pretty” result and timidly inquired. She probably imagined the ship crashing to pieces.
“Well, frankly speaking…”
While paying attention to any obstacles on their path, Shin whispered after a dramatic pause.
“…our rooms below would get pretty messy.”
Tiera drew a blank, unable to process Shin’s answer. When she finally managed to, she blushed fiercely.
“Hahaha! Even if we crash against a barrier, this ship’s sturdy enough to withstand the impact. We’ve also got safety devices so that no one is flung against a wall, don’t worry.”
Tiera realized Shin was teasing her and protested, raising her hand in a fist. Shin was not so irresponsible as to respond to that while piloting the ship, however, so Tiera’s fist had nowhere to go, causing her bright red embarrassment.
“Hehe, so cute.”
“If you really think so, you could have saved her the embarrassment…”
Filma looked at the exchange and chuckled. She then added that she understood Shin’s desire to tease her, and Shibaid sighed helplessly.
“I guess I’ll go to my quarters a bit, then. Once the mission starts for real, there won’t be time to relax, after all. ”
The Sacred Place was still quite far: that was one reason why Shin had the leeway to tease Tiera.