TNG Vol. 19 Chapter 2 Part 5
After thanking Millea, Shin and his party left the branch. They put away the carriage in an item box and headed for the gate.
“You guys are the lot from earlier. Is anything the matter?”
The guard standing behind the gate asked with a curious look on his face.
They only just arrived a little while ago, and now they were on foot. It was natural that he’d wonder what they were up to.
“Step outside? You already know what’s going on out there. I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
When Shin asked to be allowed to go through the smaller gate to step out, he was cut off by the guard before he could finish off his statement.
If he didn’t know about Shin and his party, this would be a natural reaction.
With a carriage, they could still shrug off the wind and snow, but they couldn’t do so on foot. If someone wanted to go out on foot in the middle of a blizzard with almost zero visibility, it would be strange not to stop them.
“The Golden Company requested that we investigate the cause of this blizzard. We have countermeasures in place, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
Although rare, not exactly unheard of, for adventurers to be hired by merchants or merchant associations without going through the guild. It couldn’t be called a common practice either since it almost always ended badly in one way or another, but seeing as the quest giver was the Golden Company, there was no cause for alarm.
Although they weren’t really commissioned, they shared the same objective as the assistant manager of the Golden Company, thus working together.
“I see, so that’s why you were able to move through that blizzard. If that’s the case, then I see no reason to stop you. Well, I don’t have the authority to forcefully stop you anyway, unless you’re criminals.”
Normally, he would have just checked their guild cards and sent them out. Again, the situation being what it is, it would appear that they were keeping anyone from going outside.
There had yet to be any major disruptions, but some folks were on the verge of doing something really reckless.
“Believe me, we have no intention of doing any more than necessary. If we decide it’s more than we can handle, we’ll turn right back.”
They went out through the service entrance for the gatekeepers.
The area around the gate that was cleared of snow by Shin and Shibaid, had already accumulated more than ten cemels of snow again. The unshoveled areas already formed a wall.
Shin and the others crouched down on the spot, planted their feet firmly, and took a big leap. They aimed for the snow pile and landed on top of it.
“Even with how soft the snow is, we aren’t sinking.”
Tiera, who lightly scooped the snow with her hand, said, impressed by the softness of the snow.
It would be one thing for Yuzuha in her fox cub mode or Kagerou in the size of a wolf cub, but for Shibaid who was fully equipped to also remain afloat and not sink, was nothing if not strange.
What made this possible was the new gear Shin had devised.
With their normal boots, leg armor, and greaves on, they could now put on—in this case a larger piece of foot gear, boots for snowy countries. It was an application of the automatic size adjustment function.
The size adjustment allowed them to overlap with already equipped gears, so they would feel no discomfort when moving.
The boots were enchanted with the skill, [White Walk], which allowed them to move on snow and ice in addition to being cold-resistant, making it possible for them to stand on the soft snow.
“The thing is, I still only know a few combinations that work. If I could synthesize anything, I could further enhance the gear.”
The original gear itself couldn’t have been enchanted with [White Walk]. Doing so would have left concerns about the resistance.
The real achievement this time was the increase, albeit temporary, in the resources essential for enchantments.
The materials used for the boots were some cheap substitutes based on Shin’s standards, with no particularly distinct change in defensive capabilities.
If the gear were to be destroyed by a monster attack, they would outright sink, much less stand on snow.
Of course, he made the necessary preparations in the case of such an eventuality.
“Honestly, I’m already thankful for these. And besides, you’re looking at a considerable amount of combinations, aren’t you? It’s not going to be easy.”
The gear in question currently equipped could be said to have been made from prototypes that had been used to a decent degree. Even when he tried using some random materials to create the gear, the automatic size adjustment function failed to activate.
He even tried using some ready-made gears, but still didn’t work out. Filma was a little dismayed since she was aware of the numerous trial and errors he had gone through.
“Well, I’ll just have to keep trying combinations. I’ll set time aside for it. For now, I’d like to thank Tiera for coming up with the idea.”
“Oh please stop. I only sort of uttered what popped into my mind, while you were the one that actually assembled the gear and came up with the combination.”
Maybe it was because he said it in a slightly teasing manner. Tiera’s attitude didn’t exactly seem like she disliked it either. That’s right, the new gear was not Shin’s idea.
The question now was whether or not the gears could be stacked on top of each other if Tiera’s size could be adjusted automatically.
The norm for Shin, Schnee, and the other support characters would be wearing one type of gear on the corresponding part.
Nowadays, accessories and weapons would be the exception.
The idea of wearing one gear atop another gear using the automatic size adjustment function had never been conceived.
So, why not give it a try? It was only natural for Shin to think and do so.
Yet it failed spectacularly. The automatic size adjustment function failed to activate.
If he had just given up, that would have been the end of it.
But then Shin had an epiphany.
The game era and the current world weren’t the same. What he used now was the gear he had made back in the game era. Then, he wondered what would happen if he used the gear he had made when he came to this world.
The end product was successful. A leather glove was stacked over the gauntlet he had made hastily during the breaks in-between travel.
He tried other combinations, just in case, but the only successful ones were the first gauntlet and the leather glove, and the combination of iron greaves and orichalcum greaves.
That’s right, depending on the kind of material and gear, some things were possible and some were not.
Such a discovery would surely stir up a creator’s blood.
Shin used all the free time he had and continued to make prototypes of gears that could be stacked on his current best work.
Whether or not it would be of any use this time remains to be seen, and was completed just in time. Still, the new possibilities of the gear put a smile on his face.
“So where does that leave me who can’t come up with such ideas.”
“No, Shin is right. We’re all stuck in the mindset we had before the ‘Dusk of the Majesty’ in one way or the other. We probably never had the same doubts as Tiera. What may be a trivial question to you may turn out to be a significant discovery for someone else. As a matter of fact, we’re all now benefiting from something you thought of as trivial. So you’re welcome to keep that in mind.”
Despite Schnee’s praise, Tiera was still feeling reserved.
Even in a situation where Shin recognized the development as a major discovery and commended Tiera for having spoken out, she still couldn’t see the worth in her actions.
“Well, don’t be put off by what happened this time, and just ask about any doubts you may have. You never know where inspiration might come from.”
“This was just a coincidence, so don’t get your hopes up, okay?”
With that, Tiera turned her gaze forward. The gentle uphill climb ended and a forest of large, thickly grown trees came into view.
Shin, too, stopped talking.
They were still pretty much on the outskirts of the Grandmost Mountains. An area where one should be more concerned about wild animals than monsters.
But this time, apparently, it was different, and Shin turned his gaze to the reaction within his detection range. His vision-enhancing skills enabled him to see through the blizzard, and his eyes caught sight of what triggered the reaction.
“Oh, shit, please don’t tell me that’s an Ice Elemental?”
What Shin saw was a giant ice crystal.
Centered on its weak point, the core, there were six leaf-like protrusions extending up and down and two diagonally, for a total of six of the same length.
About one mel in length, floating in the air. This monster rarely made an appearance even in cold, snowy regions and wouldn’t attack unless provoked.
What surprised Shin was that the Ice Elemental was at such a low elevation.
“The situation doesn’t look good. We’ve got to do something before the city is engulfed in ice.”
“I agree. Looks to me like the situation has changed.”
They were all probably looking at the Ice Elemental in the same manner. Even Berett had a hardened expression on his face.
Shin and his party were alarmed because of the Ice Elemental’s ability to affect the environment.
Ice Elementals were monsters that originally appeared in the depths of icy and snowy regions, in extremely cold areas where everything freezes over.
Although neither a god nor a divine beast, they could transform the area in which they reside into an extremely cold place surrounded by ice.
To be precise, Ice Elementals do not exist in extremely cold areas, but rather that the area where the Ice Elementals is located is transformed into an extremely cold area.
The Ice Elemental was found in the low ground, not far from the city.
This meant that, if left unchecked, the area around the Grandmost Mountains would turn into an uninhabitable, extremely cold region. If that happened, of course the city at the foot of the mountains would not survive.
“So we’re really taking them all down? If I remember correctly, the more of those things that are taken out, the longer the transformation takes, and if all of them are taken out, there won’t be any transformation at all, right?”
“Yes, that’s right. Let’s just take out as many as we can.”
The presence of the Ice Elementals wouldn’t immediately change the environment.
However, monsters named Elementals tend to enhance their abilities the closer the original environment is to their own attributes.
It was pretty obvious that the raging blizzard was enhancing the Ice Elementals’ abilities.
Just the heavy snowfall was already menacing enough.
If the Ice Elementals interfered with it, the change could occur at a rate several times faster than normal.
“So I just need to smash the core in the middle, right?”
“Yeah, you can use arrows, magic, or even pummel it with your fists. As long as you destroy the core, that’s all.”
“Ok. It feels a little different than usual, but that’s about it.”
Tiera took a little more time than usual to draw her bow and then released it.
The arrow whizzed through the blizzard in a gentle arc and shot through the core of an Ice Elemental.
The Ice Elemental, having lost its core, crumbled like sand and melted in the blizzard.
The levels of the Ice Elementals, as indicated by [Analyze] was between 400 and 450. About 50 levels higher than any Shin had ever encountered.
Still, even Tiera, who had the lowest offensive power, was able to finish one off in a single shot. It wouldn’t be a problem for Shin and the others with their strength.
Since the monsters weren’t alerted to the assault from Shin and his party, they each shot through the Ice Elementals’ cores with long-range attacks, arrows, and magic that excelled in speed and penetrating power.
Although some of the monsters reacted to the attacks, their cores were either shot through faster than they could put up their defenses or their cores were shot through along with their defenses.
“This should buy us some time. Come on.”
After confirming that there were no other reactions, Shin and the rest of the party proceeded onward.
They only collected the dropped materials that were in their path.
The group was led by Shin and Schnee, with Berett, Tiera, and Sety in the center and Filma and Shibaid in the rear.
If not for his skills, the visibility was so poor that he could have easily lost sight of even Schnee, who was a little distance away from him. Which would explain why even the local hunter steered clear of the area.
“If not for the map function, we’d have been lost by now for sure.”
“Not sure anyone besides us could have even made any progress.”
Even the Ice Elementals just now would not have been visible without skill unless they were really close.
Shin and his party were able to approach and destroy them easily because they had the map function and sufficient skills to maintain good visibility.
“Still, to feel this much wind even with the wind shields. We should probably assume that the blizzard itself is influenced by a god or a divine beast. Millea said she felt as if her skills were weakening.”
The wind shields were set up using spirit techniques. Since quite a number of the members, Schnee, Tiera, and Sety, could use spirit techniques, they were all made to use it.
Some magic skills may produce similar effects, but, unlike the spirit techniques, a single skill would be required to defend against a single attack.
To defend against a blizzard, two skills would be exercised to prevent both the wind and snow.
Originally, the same was true for spirit techniques, but now it had become more flexible. If one were to ask a spirit to prevent both snow and wind using spirit techniques, they could do so now.
“Cause with this gear, you shouldn’t even feel a breeze. How about it? Do you feel anything?“
“I think the spirit technique is working fine. Just that, we can’t tell if the effect has dropped even if the actual spirits have become weakened.”
Schnee elucidated that since the desired phenomenon was manifested through spirits, it didn’t feel as palpable as magic.
If one were to ask a fire spirit to create a fireball, the MP consumption would be the same, but the actual fireball created would be smaller and less powerful than those created on level ground.
Conversely, if the same scenario were to be done in a volcano, the fireball would be larger, but it wouldn’t consume any additional mana*. (TLN: Int. Magic power)
“I also tried using skills. The effect is definitely diminished. From what I gather, attributes with close affinity to ice are reduced by 10 percent, and the farther away from ice, the lower the effect.”
Shin had tried some magic before being questioned. He then tried using a skill that creates four water balls.
“I see, it’s hard to give an exact figure.”
Four water balls of the same size appeared. If that were all there was to it, it would seem fine, but he could tell that they were smaller.
Perhaps less powerful as well.
Since it was just an evaluation based on perception, the effect was undoubtedly reduced, but he couldn’t tell by how much.
One reason may be that the magic used was of the water attribute, which is the closest attribute to ice, so the effect didn’t drop significantly. When he tried using flame magic, he felt the drop was greater than that of the water magic.
“Both magic and spirit techniques are less effective. From the looks of it, the gears and stats have not changed. Same thing with any kind of detection technique. It’s difficult to grasp any presence. Which sucks for us, but I don’t think it will pose any problem for the EX series. If Venna Vaal is the one causing this, then we’re on the right track. Since it’s not going to get all sluggish from the cold, like us.”
The EX Series was almost entirely composed of rare metals such as Orichalcum, as well as three or more types of Chimeradite.
It was no exaggeration that it took more than half a year just to collect the materials. Given the properties of those materials, it excelled more in defense than attack. This was also a characteristic of the EX series.
To begin with, the EX series, being inorganic, wouldn’t be bothered by the cold, a byproduct of the blizzard, and the weakened effect on skills shouldn’t be of any inconvenience to it either, since it doesn’t rely on them.
Although it would become immobilized if frozen, the fact that its bodily functions wouldn’t get compromised from the cold would give it an advantage over Shin and his party in the fight against Venna Vaal.
“Left to me, I’d rather it just stayed put.”
“The EX series is like us isn’t it, like it has a will, right? What is it like?
“I have never spoken to it directly, but Master Reed, with special exceptions, has never made his dolls more belligerent than necessary. So, by nature, its behavior up to this point itself would have been unthinkable.”
In response to Filma’s question, Berett spoke of other dolls, including their personalities.
Shin was well aware of this point. Even though dolls were treated no different from gear, fully humanoid ones looked indistinguishable from players and support characters.
Perhaps that’s why they could be set up to have personalities like support characters.
The reason why Berett was the only support character Reed had was because the dolls played that role.
And Berett was right, Reed never set up his dolls with belligerent personalities.
Not that there weren’t exceptions, but those were discarded after they served their purpose.
“As I recall, I thought the last one had a more loyal and serious nature.”
“So I heard. I haven’t actually talked to it, so I can’t confirm this, but I haven’t heard anything about any sudden changes either, so I’m sure it’s spot on.”
Since they were working together, Shin was also informed of their characters. He hadn’t heard of any one that changed in the same way as Berett.
“Could its personality have changed because it was activated abruptly?”
“I can’t rule out the possibility, but I don’t want to think too much about it. If I can’t persuade them, then we’ll have to resort to force.”
Berett replied with a sullen expression to Shin’s guess that a bug or error, and not what was programmed into the machine, might have caused the change in its assigned personality.
Although he had come along, Berett would be of little use in a fight against the EX series.
Its ability to fight divine beasts one-on-one wasn’t just for show. So, it would be a tall task for Berett, who wasn’t designed for combat.
Shin, too, had thought that Berett might be able to persuade them on account that they shared the same master.
“Eh, what’s that…?”
While the conversation was going well, Tiera made a bewildered sound.