“So this is the Shinuchi?”
“Well, I can see why Munechika and Mitsuyo were so smug.”
After the meal, Shin gave Yasutsuna, Kunitsuna and Tanetsugu their respective Shinuchi, but their responses were all different. Only Yasutsuna and Kunitsuna expressed their excitement and interest, while Tanetsugu showed disappointment.
“Er, what happened to Tanetsugu?”
“Hmm, it appears that I cannot transfer my consciousness into this blade.”
According to Tanetsugu, the revival version of the katana could not serve as a vessel.
“The revival version won’t do, then?”
Based on what had happened until now, only weapons forged from scratch or obtained during the event could be used to transfer consciousness.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to go through that again…”
Shin could forge 『Juzumaru』, but to do so would mean going through the same ordeal as when he repaired 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』. All weapon recipes were different too. Even though he was able to forge one of the Five Supreme Blades, it didn’t mean that the others were any easier to make.
“No, you have already done enough for us. Enough with my selfishness.”
Tanetsugu’s whole body clearly expressed how dejected he was, but he accepted the situation.
“Ooh, so this is how I change!”
“As expected, my change was similar to Munechika’s.”
Next to the resigned Tanetsugu, Yasutsuna and Kunitsuna expressed their joy and surprise at their new Shinuchi forms.
Yasutsuna was still lean but now looked more muscular; his facial features were more solid and rugged, like a young general who had trained his technique and accumulated experience.
Kunitsuna, like Munechika, was even more beautiful than before. Instead of gaining lustrous hair or whiter skin, she gain more prominent curves, giving her an hourglass figure.
Looking at his overjoyed comrades, Tanetsugu’s shoulders dropped even more.
“Munechika and now Kunitsuna!! Just what kind of joke is this!?!”
Mitsuyo, who had already been made into a Shinuchi, shouted. It wasn’t clear whether she was angry or crying.
“Shin! One more time, you have to reinforce me one more time! If you do, I will become like them toooo!!”
Unable to accept the difference in their transformations, Mitsuyo pressed Shin.
“I…could…do it…but…in your case, Mitsuyo, it might go totally against your wishes…you changed in a way completely different from them, after all.”
Mitsuyo grabbed shin by the neck and shook him, but Shin freed himself from her grip and replied.
“Th-that can’t be…”
“Well actually, just because you’re small doesn’t mean you’re not powerful. For example, dwarves, so…”
Not all dwarves were short in stature: only some of the NPCs from the original game were smaller, compared to other species. Normally speaking, however, Shin’s explanation was not too far off the mark.
“But why…why only me…”
“I really can’t say.”
Mitsuyo’s appearance settings were different from Munechika’s and Kunitsuna’s from the beginning. Shin thought that could be the reason, but was not sure, so he avoided saying anything clearly.
“Just give up. At least you were able to become a Shinuchi, unlike me. ”
“I know, I know…I just feel like acting a little spoiled.”
Mitsuyo pouted and breathed deeply; maybe that helped her change her mood, as she didn’t look irritated anymore.
“Oh, to think that you’d act spoiled to someone other than us.”
“….and what would you mean by that?”
Tanetsugu laughed innocently to Mitsuyo’s evil smile.
“That you’ve become much more expressive. Now, don’t look so scary. It’s just an old man’s rambling.”
“Is it really okay for you to give us your Shinuchi, though? Even though you can replicate them, they must be valuable items for you Shin.”
Munechika changed the topic and asked Shin about something that concerned her, but in response he took out two stacks of item cards.
“That’s fine, the more allies we have, the better. Oh, and take these, as miasma countermeasures.”
Munechika couldn’t tell what kind of items they were by looking at the cards’ illustrations, so she looked a little lost.
“What are these?”
“These are accessories and one-time use items. They’re all easy to use; the accessories just need to be equipped, while the items just have to touch miasma to activate.”
What Shin gave Munechika were accessories that neutralized up to a degree of miasma and items that could delete accumulated miasma. The one-time use items had a more powerful effect, but naturally could only be used once. The accessories’ effect was weaker, but lasted much longer. Using them in combination granted complete protection, as long as the miasma wasn’t too dense.
“We can’t thank you enough.”
“Don’t say that. It would be a problem for me too if this place was taken over. Besides, Yuzuha found a companion….well, if I can call Kagutsuchi that. But she’d be sad if it was hurt.”
Shin then looked towards Yuzuha and Kagutsuchi, who were playing on the table.
“Did Kagutsuchi recover its powers, by the way?”
“Yes, its actual body was turned to crystal, right? A bit after you left to rescue Kunitsuna, the crystallization was dispelled. The chick form was just a copy housing Kagutsuchi’s consciousness, but now it has returned to its actual form.”
Just like Yuzuha, Kagutsuchi was apparently able to alter its form to a degree. It couldn’t take human form however.
“Looks like it took a liking to that form. It gets all quiet if you hold it.”
“Yuzuha said something similar, now that I think about it. Its original form was huge, so it probably never experienced something like that.”
Yuzuha had grown, but probably the little fox mode was the one she enjoyed the best. She often used it to sneak under the covers of Shin’s bed and sleep too.
In the game their role was to test players, so maybe they were fond of humans.
“Hmm, is that so….Shin, Kagutsuchi has something to tell you. Can you call your comrades too?”
Kagutsuchi landed on Munechika’s shoulder and cried softly.
As Shin’s party gathered, they were invited to go outside.
As they all did, Kagutsuchi flew from Munechika’s shoulder, turning into a golden flame.
“So this is Kagutsuchi’s original form.”
The golden flame gradually formed beak and wings: in a few instants, it had become a large phoenix.
Flaming sparks scattered all around, but emitted no heat.
“I thank you for your assistance.”
Kagutsuchi’s voice sounded with a deep gravity which well fitted its current appearance. The reverberating echo expressed the divine beast’s presence adequately.
“As a gesture of thanks, I shall bestow the protection of my holy flame upon you.”
Shin and party were then enveloped by golden flames. This fire wasn’t hot at all, and it disappeared after a few instants.
The Gift list in Shin’s menu then displayed the message “NEW!”. Shin mentally opened the menu and found that the Gift 『Holy Flames Protection』 had been added.
Its effect was to weaken fire elemental damage exceeding a certain level. Below that level, it would be neutralized.
In more concrete terms, only Schnee-level attacks could deal decisive damage. It was a very powerful protection, who could even be called fire damage nullifier.
“A-are you sure…sir?”
Surprised, Shin replied casually, but thought that it wouldn’t be appropriate to speak like that to Kagutsuchi in its current form, so he corrected himself.
Kagutsuchi did not seem to mind: after merely uttering “I am”, it returned to its chick form.
Looking at how it flapped its small wings, it looked like Kagutsuchi was saying “it’s all good, just take it and go”.
“Understood, I’ll make good use of it.”
Kagutsuchi had nothing else to say, so the group returned inside Tsuki no Hokora.
The following day, it was time to descend the mountain.
“Once more, we are in your debt. Do come visit again.”
“You have to!! Definitely!!”
“Please do before Mitsuyo explodes from impatience.”
“Take care in your travels.”
“My my, I doubt there’s anything to worry about though.”
Shin’s group left Fuji while Munechika, Mitsuyo, Tanetsugu, Yasutsuna, Kunitsuna and Kagutsuchi saw them off.
Their next destination was a port town to find a ship heading to the Eltnia continent.
The group crossed Aokigahara, boarded the horse carriage which, led by Kagerou, started running through Hinomoto’s roads.
Unlike before, they made sure to slow down to a normal speed every time they ran into groups of merchants or travelers, in order to not stand out.
The reason was they had already heard rumors of a mysterious convoy running at an incredible speed on the roads around Fuji. Shin’s party had traveled at high speed when they went looking for Kunitsuna too, so the rumor must have spread further.
Luckily, the witnesses reported the mysterious cart to be running in the area opposite to the port town the group was directed to; if Kagerou was cloaked as a horse with illusion magic, they wouldn’t stand out much anymore.
“As expected of a port town, there are some amazing fish dishes here.”
Once they reached their destination, the group hid in a forest to change the carriage back to an item card, then proceeded on foot. Just walking aimlessly around town, they could see many stalls selling fresh fish. There were species Shin knew from his original world and monster fish sausages unique of this world, forming a wide range of products.
“Two weeks is a pretty long time…”
Tiera sighed after learning of the passenger ship schedule. A ship had left just the day before, and it would be some time until the next one left port.
The group was not exactly in a rush, but waiting two weeks in a town without any leisure activities was pretty boring, so they started looking for trade ships heading to the Eltnia continent.
About one hour later, the party learned from a sailor that there was a ship planning to leave two days later, so they went to negotiate a way to board it right away.
At first, the crew rejected their overtures as they did not have enough space, but the captain ultimately accepted them when Shin and his party said they would also act as escorts.
Shin and Tiera’s adventurer ranks were still low, but Shibaid had an A ranked adventurer card. It was a card that Shibaid used while still being able to hide his true identity. The Adventurers’ Guild owed a lot to him, so they made an exception by issuing it.
“They probably wouldn’t have let us on if it was just us without Shibaid.”
“That’s true. Shin is rank D, and I’m still F to boot. Master is rank C on paper, so I bet they think we’re dead weight.”
Tiera had been promoted to rank F after taking care of the aftermath of Balmel’s defense battle.
Some were of the opinion that she should have been promoted to a higher rank, but the offensive power of the bow which slew so many foes was not hers only, so she was only promoted one rank.
The nature of Shin’s accomplishments had been a topic of much debate within the guild. There were apparently some disputes going on too, so he chose to head to Kilmont before finding out the results.
Just before that, the business with the Church happened, so at present, no one actually knew what rank Shin was.
“The sea’s more dangerous than land, after all. The first time I fought at sea, it was really different, and I could hardly get the hang of it.”
The same type of escort mission increased in rank if it was at sea instead of land.
“We’re a party with an A-rank adventurer and all skill inheritors, that should be more than enough for them.”
As Schnee said, now Tiera possessed skills too. Other than the 【Analyze】 skill Shin taught her, she had acquired skills for offense, support, etcetera.
Tiera could use her bow, while Schnee, Shibaid, and Shin could use their skills to fight enemies above or below the water. Thanks to these negotiations, they could split their duties with the escorts already on board without trouble.
Normally, ships protected themselves with long-range attacks. If worse came to worst, Shin’s group could act as decoys to lure the enemies far from the ship where they could be shot: it was one of the possible strategies.
Considering the crew and the ship’s safety, no one would object to having an escort-specialized party on board.
“Looks like it’ll be a peaceful trip this time.”
The group spent the time prior to their departure by going over battle strategies and sightseeing. Two days later, Shin and his party were onboard, gazing at the horizon. It did not look like they would be attacked by monsters such as the Gale Serpents; the ship proceeded without any delay.
“There aren’t many pirates or monsters in this part of the sea, but if anything happens, we’ll be counting on you guys, all right?”
Aral, an adventurer and the ship’s permanent escort, approached the group. He had red hair cut short and features that reminded the others of a wild animal.
Shin replied politely, not wanting to look like a cocky newbie adventurer.
“Please leave it to us. Our rank might be low, but we have some experience fighting at sea.”
“That’s good to hear. Though, unexpected things happen at sea. There’s a rumor among sailors that a ghost ship appears in these parts, you know?”
“A ghost ship?”
Aral’s tone suggested that he just wanted to give Shin a scare. For Shin, however, it wasn’t just a joke. One of the area bosses in the game era was a true ghost ship, that appeared in certain sea areas.
Shin replied to Aral, asking him please not to scare them, and the adventurer grinned and left.
“The ship, hmm…”
Shin remembered one of Rokuten’s guildhouses, the 2nd Assault Ship Celciutos. He heard that not even the Golden Company found it, so he thought that it might have been adrift somewhere.
Unaware of Shin’s thoughts, the ship’s crew guided the ship with sails swelled in the wind and cut on through the waves. The weather did not turn sour and the ship sailed on under a perfectly blue sky. No traces of the ghost ships of Celciutos. Finally, two days after departure, the ship reached the Eltnia continent.
“So this is Barbatos the Marine City. You would think it’s a city of pirates, with this name.”
“They say they have geothermal energy-powered hot water pools here, you know?”
Filma, who had heard this piece of information from the captain, waved at the ship as the group disembarked.
“Pools, huh. They probably bathe in seawater normally though.”
All sorts of dangerous monsters dwelt in the sea, and some were even able to move around on land.
Rather than building walls or setting nets to protect the land from the dangerous sea creatures, the buildings and leisure facilities were completely separated from the sea and were therefore safer and easier to maintain. Because of this, the “Marine City” did not have a single beach.
“Since we’re here, we might as well check it out if we have time. We don’t have to worry about monsters. The baths are unlike the sea or lakes, so it’ll definitely be fun.”
“Yeah, once in a while we might as well forget our troubles and just play around.”
Before being trapped in the 『Drop of Erathem』, Filma barely had any freedom to enjoy leisure activities. Shin had also had no chance to really stretch and play around since coming to this world, so he agreed to her proposal.
“We need to buy some swimsuits then. I guess we should eat something first?”
The time was already past 1 PM. The group had decided to eat lunch at Barbatos, since they had not eaten anything after their breakfast.
Shin and the others began looking for a place to eat, while trying to calm down the overly excited Filma.