TNG Vol. 19 Chapter 2 Part 9

“Well, let’s put that aside for now. Can you tell when the gods will appear from the mana reaction?”

“No, we can only confirm its presence. As for when and where it will appear, is only a matter of speculation.”

At any rate, the only thing they knew for sure was its presence. Shin was pretty confident that such a convenient function couldn’t have been made available since the game era.

“What about the divine beast? I heard that 08 is after the divine beast. So, if we can locate the divine beast, there’s a good chance 08 won’t be too far. Or, perhaps you already do?”

Following the lead of Owl and his crew, Shin also referred to the masterpiece as 08.

Shin and his party expected that the battle might have already begun.

Since entering the mountain, they had not felt any battle sounds or vibrations that seemed like it. But that didn’t mean they weren’t.

The Grandmost Mountains were very steep with no paved roads, but that wouldn’t be much of an obstacle for 08.

As a doll, it wouldn’t be immobilized by the thin oxygen or cold, nor would it require sleep. It possessed an indefatigable body, and, because of its huge size, it moved much faster than humans. It would certainly be easier for it to traverse the mountain range than a human.

Then there was a good chance that it had already reached the divine beast.

So, Shin asked, seeing as Owl and his crew had arrived in the Grandmost Mountains much earlier and even done some investigations, thus should be aware of the situation.

“It’s just as you guessed, we have 08’s location. The reason why we’re taking our time trying to persuade it without moving is because 08 too hasn’t moved from its current location.”

The battle had already been fought and ended in 08’s favor.

The divine beast, Maganna, was not dead and was healing its wounds in a shrine at the top of the mountain, although its weapon was shattered.

08 was not unscathed either, and remained in a location with dense magic power to repair itself.

Even though it was explicitly designed to combat divine beasts, it didn’t mean it would achieve victory unscathed.

The automatic repair function was a standard feature of the EX series, so with sufficient time, it would almost always repair itself. And its reason for remaining in a location with dense magic power was so it could recover faster.

“How much longer do you think it will take to repair itself?”

“It will be a while. Its left side was gouged rather deeply.”

Apparently, Owl and his crew watched the battle from a distance.

Shin thought that, since they couldn’t contain 08, that was about the only thing they could do.

Irrespective of how top notch the dolls made by Reed were, breaking into a battle between the EX series and the divine beast would have been too reckless an endeavor.

Monsters fight utilizing their individual stats and skills, but some, like players, wield weapons to fight beyond their capabilities.

The weapon-wielding types tend to do this, and Maganna was no different.

The battle apparently ended with 08 relying on its armored defenses to close the distance and knock it down. According to Owl, although it was relatively short, Maganna’s trident prevented 08 from easily getting close, and its arms, which were heavily used for defense, were also considerably damaged.

And just because its body was made out of chimeradite, wouldn’t stop it from breaking down if it were to receive a barrage of attacks from an entity like a divine beast. Same with Shin’s weapon. Just as how Shin’s beloved katana ‘True Moon’ shattered, even the EX series would crumble if it sustained damage exceeding its durability value.

Just because it was made out of chimeradite, or perhaps because it was made out of ‘Drop of Erathem’, or that it was of the Supreme Ancient-grade. Wouldn’t keep it from breaking down all the same.

“It happened when it delivered the final blow even if it meant going down in the process. It seems that the armor could not withstand the attack, which was a decisive blow to a place that was originally damaged.”

In a game, a monster’s attack would have a set damage value, and the damage would only be calculated based on the player’s gear and stats.

However, in this world, the monsters were just as alive as the players. If they were about to be defeated, it wouldn’t be surprising for them to exhibit some kind of adrenaline rush.

Maganna’s blow seemed to be equally matched as well, as Owl and his crew were surprised to see that the trident, which so far had been unable to penetrate deeply, burrowed cleanly in the side, albeit the armor was somewhat thin.

The trident broke, perhaps due to overuse, and Maganna also fell after receiving a direct fist blow.

08 then raised a war cry, very unlike a doll, in front of Maganna, who was still down, and left the scene. Since then, 08 had been trying to repair itself in the location with dense magic power that Owl mentioned earlier.

“You know where it is, right? Can you take me there?”

“Yes, sir.”

It would have been great if Reed were here, but he wasn’t. And if there was anyone who could persuade it, Shin thought it could either be him or Berett.

Shin wasn’t so conceited as to think that he could take Reed’s place. However, Shin knew the name that was to be given to it, something that neither 08 nor Owl and the others knew about. So, should Berett fail, he would have something up his sleeve to carry on.

“I hope it comes back with us quietly, but if it doesn’t, we’ll resort to force. Be prepared for that.”

“I understand. We also can’t let it do whatever it pleases forever.”

The dolls around nodded silently to Owl’s words.

Humanoid or not, all the dolls in Miraltrea possessed strong personalities. Owl and Mighty could be called the leaders of the dolls, so to speak, but they were hardly superior to the others in terms of being particularly clever or that the others could only speak in bits.

Owl and Mighty took the leadership role because they were Reed’s first creations.

When they were first made, they were not as well-equipped or as good looking.

While they were gears, they weren’t weapons, so their parts could be replaced, get new exteriors, and strengthened even further.

Ordinary weapons were limited in how much they could be further enhanced using materials, but dolls could be replaced except for the core, which preserved their personality, so one could potentially keep on using their first doll forever.

This may not be strictly true, since all but the core would be different, but many players who chose to be doll masters continued to strengthen and use the first puppet they made.

Shin was envious of them for that.

“Sorry guys.”

If the matter couldn’t be resolved amicably, he would have to use force. Then, in the worst case, it would become seriously damaged. With that thought, Shin apologized again.

“No, we only have ourselves to blame for not being able to persuade it or make a decision all this while. Rather, I must apologize for putting you in this position. No matter how many excuses we come up with, truth is, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to turn our blades against our comrade.”

To Owl and his crew, all the dolls made by Reed were their irreplaceable brethren. Hence why they hesitated.

One wrong move from carelessly messing around with a divine beast could spell irreversible damage to the surroundings.

Even in the game era, only a fool would provoke a divine beast for no reason. Granting that it didn’t finish off the divine beast, the conduct alone was nothing short of reckless.

Under normal circumstances, they should have stopped it immediately, by force if necessary, but they couldn’t. But they couldn’t bring themselves to hurt their fellow comrade no matter what.

In the absence of Reed and Berett, Owl and Mighty assumed the authority to operate the dolls in Miraltrea. And the option of siccing the EX series on 08 wasn’t out of the question.

“No, it’s okay. Even Reed himself might get angry, but he won’t blame you.”

Thinking about Reed, Shin said to Owl, whose expression was contorted as if he were a human being.

Shin chuckled as he reminisced about his former friend, who would have calmly yet vehemently ordered they go bring its ass back even if they had to kick the crap out of it.

He would rather have a wrong by a kin than be set right by fellow kinsmen. And he wouldn’t hesitate to use an iron-fist to do so if necessary. He was like that.

“Can we go tomorrow? I would prefer we go in the daytime, given the possibility of a fight breaking out.”

The sun would be setting soon. He also confirmed that it was snowing while they were on the move.

Although it had not been decided that a fight would break out for sure, he could not simply assume that 08 would just comply quietly.

First time visiting a place only to engage in night combat. The opponent could be 08, or Maganna whose wounds had been healed, or even a god.

This was a risky move, even back in the game era. It would be more prudent to head out after daybreak since there was little to no chance of 08 moving away from its current location.

“Then we’ll prepare a meal for you. Would you like to stay the night?”

Owl and the others were in no hurry. They understood the dangers of nighttime combat without needing anyone to tell them.

Even combat guild houses come fitted with accommodations. Thus Shin nodded to Owl, thinking that there was no need to bother setting up the Moon Shrine.

As Shin and the others stood up, the tables and chairs were quickly cleared away. Leaving Tiera impressed by their fluid movement.

Owl led the way through Miraltrea.

Although Shin was familiar with the inner structure, for what it’s worth. He felt the dolls were more motivated by their first guests in a long time, so he let them lead the way.

“Every time I look at the guild house, I can’t believe it’s over 500 years old since it was built.”

Tiera said as they walked through the lodging compartment where they were led.

One of the massive Miraltrea compartments was all equipped for lodging, so not only were the rooms private, but there was also a restaurant, a large bathhouse, and other facilities that would leave one wondering when they would be used.

While there were functions that keep the facilities clean, obviously, the dolls also worked hard day and night to keep the place clean, so much that one could even say that it was completed only recently.

“They used fairly decent materials, and it looks like they carry out regular inspections. So, in a way, it’s probably nicer than Rashugum, since there’s no shortage of manpower.”

Rashugum, the sixth guild house of the ‘Rokuten’.

The facilities were undoubtedly in perfect condition, thanks to the presence of a maintenance worker named Raster, but the cleaning aspect certainly left a lot to be desired.

Even with the guild house’s environmental preservation function, it couldn’t be kept squeaky clean at all times without even a speck of dust.

The impressive sight left Shin and the others rather speechless because the meticulous work wasn’t the handiwork of humans, but dolls.

Incidentally, the non-humanoid λ* Series were the ones responsible for cleaning. They may look like monsters or chimeras, but their work performance was flawless. (TLN: This “λ” series was labeled humanoid in the spreadsheet, but the raw is describing it as non-humanoid series.)

“Oh, thanks…”

The group was led to the restaurant area.

Tiera nervously thanked the doll that pulled out a chair for her so spontaneously.

Partly because it was polite to her, but also because the doll, which looked like a tiger, pulled the chair with its two tails.

There was no rule dictating only humanoids could tend to customers at Miraltrea.

“Whoa, this is good.”

A full-course meal was prepared for them. Shin was no foodie, so he had the impression that it was somewhat French.

In THE NEW GATE, dishes from various countries were reproduced.

This may be the reason why some restaurants in the back alleys of large cities served mysterious dishes with an unknown country of origin.

The chef this time seemed to be a doll who had once assisted Cook, the White Chef, in her cookery, and perhaps because of that, its cooking skills were the best among the dolls. And the taste lived up to that name.

The tiger-looking doll that was serving Tiera couldn’t help but smile when she expressed her honest impression of the food.

“…I’m sleepy.”

“Well, there’s no need to stay up late today. Shall we go to bed?”

After eating and bathing, Shin entered his private room and immediately lay down on the bed. Yuzuha, who had been dozing off on Shin’s shoulder, was curled up by his bedside.

“Single-mindedly fighting divine beasts alone, uh.”

Shin closed his eyes and thought for a moment, just until he fell asleep.

Based on the result of the investigation, Owl and the rest of the crew shouldn’t have been too far behind after 08 woke up. What could have been going through 08’s mind, leaving its comrades without waking them up and instead going around fighting divine beasts alone——or in 08’s case——by itself.

Demonstrating its raison d’etre as an EX series. Shin couldn’t help but feel there had to be more to it than just that.

Then, he wondered if Schnee and the other support characters could empathize. As he pondered this, Shin’s consciousness slowly sank into a slumber.

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