TNG Vol. 20 Chapter 2 Part 1

“Nothing happened after all.”

Milt’s comment was the result of a day-and-night shift of searching the restricted area.

The members had already been notified about “Arkhan’s Abandoned City.”

Wilhelm already sent a reply, saying that he would report it to the guild as he had heard it from Schnee.

Incidentally, like Shin, he seemed to have forgotten to report the Skullface Lord.

He mentioned that the fact that Schnee’s master, a High Human, had reappeared and somehow helped him in the church inheritance, was a much more important incident than the Skullface Lord being defeated so easily.

He had no more information about the dungeon than what he had told Shin. In Wilhelm’s case, he was not convinced that there was a dungeon, because he had heard this information from others.

“Didn’t you say something similar yesterday?”

Shin pointed out, and Milt laughed.

“You’re right. I can’t help it, you know.”

Even though the Wraith Plains was vast, at the speed Shin and his team were traveling, it would not be impossible to search the entire area in a single day. However, they hadn’t been able to find any clues. It couldn’t be helped that Milt’s expression was a little dull as she looked at the rising sun.

The night search team consisted of Shin, Milt, Filma, and Sety. Filma and Sety had gone to inform the knights at the base about the results of the night search, so Shin and Milt were the only ones here. 

Schnee, Shibaid, Tiera, and Yuzuha, the members in charge of daytime search, were waiting at the Moon Shrine while resting as well.

Schnee might be preparing a meal for them, as a savory smell wafted from the Moon Shrine.

“But since we haven’t found the entrance, I think the story about the abandoned city that Shin mentioned will become more relevant. Even if it doesn’t, there will definitely be some conditions.”

Milt did not seem to think that the dungeon had disappeared. Shin, too, was searching under the assumption that it exists.

“There’s still time until the full moon, right? Are you going to continue exploring during that time?”

“I’ll make a decision after consulting with everyone, but I think it’s possible to continue. However, for now, I’d like to give myself a little leeway until the full moon.”

Shin was hoping to upgrade everyone’s equipment in his free time.

Although it’s a rare occurrence, the possibility of fighting the other half of Origin was not zero. If that were to happen, Shin had no idea what would happen. He wanted to be as prepared as possible.

“…I’m not going to be a hindrance, am I?”

“What’s wrong, all of a sudden?”

Milt responded after hearing what Shin had said. She didn’t have her usual cheerful atmosphere, and instead had a worried look on her face. 

Milt’s current stats had increased compared to when she was in the game, and her equipment had been adjusted, so it could be said that she was one of the top fighters in this world.

However, Shin and his party members were all even higher in status than the powered-up Milt. Even after taking into account the buffs of her equipment, she was still left behind in terms of stat’s number.

Because of her fighting style, Milt fought as a vanguard with Shin and the other party members.

She was worried that her inferior status would leave a gap in the front line, where she would have to face the enemy directly.

“If we talk about status, it means that Tiera’s status is low, too. Also, when it comes to combat experience, isn’t Milt on a whole other level?”

“Tiera is a rearguard and her monster partner is Kagerou, right? I’m sure that, when she awakens to her skills as a tamer, she’s going to do great things. But I don’t have that kind of hidden card.”

What Milt meant by that skill was a special skill that allows the tamer to become one with their monster partner and power it up. This skill was also one of the tamer’s secrets, and it’s called 【Man-Beast Unity 】.

There were various ways to power up depending on the strength and ability of the monster partner, and some players switched monster partners depending on the situation so that they could respond to any situation. 

By the way, this tactic was popularized by Cashmere, the “Silver Summoner” of Rokuten.

“Due to the game’s design, you can’t raise your status easily. In-game items can’t be purchased.”

“Even if you could, it would be impossible, especially since the price is way off.”

Some of the in-game items had a limited number of usages, but some of them have the effect of permanently increasing the basic value of the status. It’s a subtle change like “STR+1”, and you have to use it to its maximum limit in order to feel the effect.

However, on the flip side, it also meant that as long as you had money, you could definitely power up to some extent. That said, the cost was almost a rip-off.

That item was strangely well-known among players as it was an item that was limited to some rich people called “Whale gamers”. Shin’s acquaintance said that even working adults would hesitate to pay such a price.

“The first thing that comes to mind is wearing all kinds of accessories. Rings, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, earrings, and emblems that can be attached on. Or maybe even circlets?”

“It sounds complicated, but does it work?”

“I’ve already confirmed that two or three of them don’t interfere with each other. I have never equipped all of the accessories I mentioned at the same time.”

The game only allowed one accessory to be equipped at a time. It was possible to wear multiple items that were treated as decorations, but only one type of effective equipment could be worn at a time, even if they were attached to different parts.

Here, however, it was normal to wear a ring on each of the five fingers, or a necklace and earrings at the same time. Even if everything was treated as equipment. 

The only concern was, as Milt said, whether the effect will work properly.

“I’d like to experiment with it in my spare time. If it works, we could benefit from it.”

It sounded a bit phony, but combat was basically a matter of risking one’s life. It would not be a waste of time to test it out in anticipation of more powerful opponents in the future.

“Anyway, you’re suddenly so worried? Did something happen before you came here?”

Milt also fought alongside Shin during the conquest of the Sacred Place. Since her status had increased, she seemed more reliable than she did back in the game. That’s why it bothered Shin that Milt let out a whine at this timing.

“I’m working with Shin and the others now because I’m an ally for most of the time, but if I’m useless in combat, which is what I’m best at, I’ll have nothing to stand on, right?”

When Milt expressed a desire to work together, Schnee and the others did not particularly object.

She was a former player like Shin and a friend who had conquered dungeons together. They also knew that they had worked together to avenge Marino’s death. That’s probably not the only reason, but it’s not like they’re working together just because she’s useful in battle.

“Don’t worry too much. We’re not together just for profit and loss.”

Shin patted Milt on the head, as if to tease her.

He was expecting Milt to complain that she was being treated like a child, but unexpectedly, Milt froze with a surprised expression on her face.

Shin, who had intended to change the atmosphere that had become a little heavy, was somewhat uncomfortable.

He said, “Uh, this is the part where you get mad, okay?”

“No, I think I know what you’re thinking, too, Shin. Unlike before, I don’t dislike it at all. In fact, I want you to do it even more. Ugh…what the heck is this?”

She seemed confused as well, and her face gradually became redder.

She seemed to be upset and flustered, something Shin couldn’t imagine from the way she was teasing him by pressing her chest against him.

“I’m going to cool down a bit!”

“Oh, hey!”

With her face still red, Milt ran into the Moon Shrine.

Shin, who was left behind, couldn’t help but be puzzled by her reaction. He thought she was in a slightly different position from the one who was in love with him, saying things like, “My marriage is~.”

Then, Filma and Sety returned at the perfect time.

The two had also seen Milt running to the Moon Shrine.

Filma was grinning because she had something to tease Shin with.

“Hey Shin~? I don’t like it when you make fun of a girl.”

“I wasn’t teasing her.”

“Her face was bright red when you patted her on the head. Isn’t she serious about this?”

Filma as well as Sety poked Shin with a grin.

“No, I was just expecting a different reaction.”

Apparently, Milt had heard that Shin was talking about marriage. For Shin, Schnee was enough, but the support characters other than Schnee, sometimes say and do things that encourage a second or additional partner.

It should not be like the rule of the beast that Yuzuha said, “a male should mate with many females”. If that’s the case, it would be strange if Filma and Sety didn’t come forward as well. But they shouldn’t.

“I know that things like that are not uncommon in this world. But that and this are different.”

Shin had no desire for a harem, although he was not sure what Shibaid and his group were up to.

“Schnee is so loved.”

“This is as good as it gets.”

“What was that all about earlier, you guys?”

Shin, slightly annoyed by Filma and Sety’s constant grinning, put a hand on each of their shoulders, radiating intimidation. His expression was smiling and his tone was polite, but it was enough to make the two change complexion.

“I surrender, I surrender! My shoulder! My shoulder is creaking!”

Sety was the first to raise her voice.

She had the lowest defense among the support characters. With Shin now, he could even squeeze her shoulder with his bare hands. But of course he wouldn’t.

“Isn’t it going to penetrate the equipment’s defense?”

Filma also asked with a frown.

“I don’t think you can demonstrate your armor’s full potential in front of the creator, do you?”

In a serious battle, it would be a different story, but in a situation like this, which included a bit of tomfoolery, the protective gear was not really effective.

Originally, THE NEW GATE was designed so that friendly fire could not be turned off. Perhaps as an extension of that, there were times when he was able to pass through shocks and pressure that didn’t reduce any HP, like this time.

The reason Sety was in so much pain was because the opponent was Shin.

Shin had learned a lot since coming to this world. With the armor he made, he could do more than he could when he was playing games. 

“I won’t tease you anymore. Sety is going to cry soon.”

“I’m not crying!”

Shin let go of his hand because it was true that she was teary-eyed. He didn’t want to go that far.

“So, have you heard anything new?”

“Nothing major compared to what we’ve seen so far. But I heard that the tamer’s monster partners are acting strangely. It seems that an adventurer who has worked in this area before said that it might not be due to the magic of this land.”

“Monster partners?”

There were many different types of monster partners. However, regardless of the type, the monster partners seem to be acting differently than usual, such as being excited, frightened, or walking around restlessly. It was said that the smaller the monster partner was, the more pronounced the change was. 

When Shin heard Filma’s story, he thought about Yuzuha and Kagerou. Neither of them had been acting differently than usual, he thought.

“Couldn’t they be sensing the presence of Hades or something? Monsters are more sensitive to such things, aren’t they?”

Sety said, while rubbing her shoulder.

Shin agreed with that opinion. But then, there was something else that bothered him.

“If they felt something like that, they would have said something.”

Shin also had a monster partner – Yuzuha. But alas, Shin’s skill as a tamer was only that of an amateur at best.

The proficiency level of a tamer as a job increased just by working with monster partners, so it’s better than before, but this was a different story. Although he had knowledge because he was acquainted with a top tamer named Cashmere, his skill level and track record as a tamer were not very high. 

However, Shin’s skill as a tamer aside, Yuzuha could speak, and had intelligence unlike a child. Even though she was mostly in the form of a little fox, she was a high-level monster on the inside. She naturally understood that Shin was looking for the whereabouts of Hades, so it was not surprising that she would tell him if she sensed a small monster as well.

“In that case, the quickest way would be to ask her. She’s probably awake by now, so why don’t you ask her before eating?”

“I suppose I will.”

If the event went as planned, there’s still plenty of time. Yuzuha was nearby, so there was no reason not to ask her.

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