Vol. 11 Chapter 2 – Part 3

“Mr. Zigma, my apologies, but you’ll have to stop.”

The next morning, Shin’s group made the necessary preparations and headed to the shipyard. Shin found Zigma glued to the ship and had to give him the bad news.

Knowing that his inspection had to end, Zigma looked disappointed, but when Milea put her hand on his shoulder, smiling, he shuddered and quietly backed away. Apparently, Milea overruled Zigma in their company — a relationship that was opposite to what their ranks would suggest.

“The guild representative arrived!”

The inspector in charge of checking the ship’s dimensions had arrived shortly after Shin’s team. The group had visited the guild the previous day, informing Arno that they had procured a ship.

“Oh? Ms. Arno?”

The guild representative, led by the shipyard workers, turned out to be the receptionist, Arno.

“Good morning. I have come to inspect your ship.”

“Good morning. So you are in charge of inspecting ships too? This is the ship we will use for our search.”

“I am not the only one, but…….by the way, I don’t think I see any sails?”

Arno voiced her doubts after looking at the ship’s shape. In this world, ships with sails were still the norm.

“This is a rather unique ship that we found in a certain ruin. The Kuwain area is very different from the usual seas, after all. It looks ragged, but I assure you that it sails without problems. We tested it yesterday in the bay too.”

Thanks to Shin’s illusion skills, the ship looked battered enough to make anyone believe that it had been found in some ruin.

“I can vouch for that too, miss. It does look bizarre, but let me say that it’s tough.”

Zigma, who had inspected the ship, gave his full approval.

“I see. If sir Zigma says so as well, there shouldn’t be any problems. I have verified that the ship’s dimensions are more than enough fit the guild’s regulations, so I don’t think there are problems. Here is your permit. If one of the ships patrolling Kuwain’s premises stops you, show it and they will let you through. If you do not meet any patrol ships, just go on further.”

“Thank you very much. We’re going to leave soon, so…until next time.”

“Please take care.”

Zigma and Arno looked on as the party boarded the ship. Zazie and the others were hiding inside, since things would be troublesome if they were found and stopped.

Shin activated the magic-powered engine and the ship departed.

Leaving behind Arno’s surprised expression, the ship proceeded in the direction of the Kuwain area.

 

◆◆◆◆

 

“This is…not a place you could get lost in by accident, huh. A stormy sea stage if I’ve ever seen one.”

Shin’s party accelerated after leaving Barbatos and had now arrived close to their destination, which reminded Shin of the game era. Before them were battering rain, massive waves, and violent winds.

As if separated by an invisible wall, just outside the area the breeze was gentle and the waves small. A situation completely outside the realm of natural phenomena.

“Looks like this sea trip is going to turn rough. Are you ready everybody?”

Shin made sure Tiera had drunk the anti-seasickness medicine Schnee gave her and called to the group.

After everyone nodded in agreement, he stepped on the pedal.

There were no patrol ships in the surroundings. As Arno had instructed, Shin proceeded forward. The ship, lulled by gentle waves, sped towards the storm.

“Waah!?”

The next instant, the vessel shook violently vertically, a shock big enough to make Tiera shout, despite her preparation. When the ship pointed upwards, the sky could be seen from the bridge. When it pointed down, the sea surface was directly in front.

The gap was so large that, for an instant, it felt like the ship was floating in midair.

“Shin! Look! In front!”

Tiera pointed to a large wave, taller than the ship itself.

“This is even worse than stormy sea stages, huh.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to travel underwater?”

Despite the powerful rumbling and rocking of the ship, Schnee made her suggestion without a single change in her expression .

“That would be better to go forward, for sure. But the elf saw Celciutos above water, so we’ll travel above the surface for now, at least until we reach the center of the area. I wanted to save energy, but it looks like there’s no other way. Activate the vessel balance system!”

As Shin said these words, part of the tall wave in front of the ship split, just enough to let the ship pass. At the same time, the violent waves around them became relatively calm.

“Wha, what’s going on?”

“I calmed the surrounding sea with water, wind, and ground spells, to secure us a route. It’s a function that most magic-powered vessels have. That’s why these ships can travel on routes impossible for normal ships.”

“If you have something that convenient, you could have used it since the start…”

Tiera, tightly latched onto an arm rail, let out a heavy sigh, feeling powerless. Facing such a large wave during her second time at sea was a bit too much for her. Even so, she was now standing on the ship, without losing balance or rolling around, so she must have acquired some resistance.

“Sorry, sorry. In the past, I faced a stormy sea stage similar to this. I just wanted to see how this one actually was first.”

After apologizing to the slightly glaring Tiera, Shin looked forward again.

“Let’s head northeast first. I’m checking the surroundings via the sonar and the map, but just in case let me know if you see anything weird outside everybody.”

The party sailed on, defeating monsters every now and then, when a tune started playing, making the air vibrate eerily.

“What’s this?”

“This feeling…it’s a cursed song.”

Shin couldn’t hear the tune well and looked towards the storm, then Schnee answered his question.

Unlike the barrier set up in the woods north of Bayreuth, this song did not manipulate the intruder’s mind to make them turn back, but enticed them in a certain direction.

“My head’s starting to hurt…”

“How does it feel? To me it looks like it’s trying to make us go in a certain direction.”

Shin asked Tiera, who was frowning, her hands pressing against her temples.

He thought she could be affected, but maybe thanks to her particular position as priestess, or maybe because she had powered up, she did not seem to be influenced by the cursed song.

“It makes its victims change directions without them realizing it. If we didn’t resist it, we’d probably exit the area before we knew it.”

“I see, sorry for making you do that. Put these on. If you can resist it now, they should lighten the burden.”

Shin apologized and gave Tiera a pair of faded silver earrings. They had the effect of increasing mind manipulation resistance and did not conflict with the effects of the Heat Haze gear set, even if equipped together.

Tiera put on the earrings and breathed a sigh of relief. Her expression was more peaceful too.

“Since we didn’t hear it before, it’s safe to assume that we’re getting closer to our destination. There must be mermaids in this part of the sea, and a lot of them too.”

Shin’s assumption was based on the area of effect of the cursed song.

If some species with lore related to singing sang cursed songs, they would obtain bonuses. Mermaids were one of those species.

Cursed songs did not have a very large area of effect, only around 20 mels, but that was in the case where there was only one singer.

Some skills could be powered up or have their area of effect increased if players and/or support characters used the skill together at the same time.

Cursed songs were such skills: their area of effect increased proportionally with the number of singers. Even if each caster’s skill level was low, if many sang it as in a chorus, the song could become powerful enough to affect a great number of monsters or even boss monsters.

“Where is the singing coming from?”

“That way.”

Zazie answered Shin’s question immediately. She had closed her eyes, probably to detect the direction the song came from.

“I think so too.”

Lapwing, who was next to her, agreed with Zazie, who was pointing west.

“…yeah, there’s something there.”

Shin used long-range sight skills and peered into the distance: beyond the storm’s veil, he found a light. Because of the distance, he could not see beyond it yet. Compared to the waters the ship was sailing now, where dark clouds stopped most sunlight, however, it was clearly different.

“Let’s go forward like this. Let me know if the direction of the singing changes.”

Continuing to use skills would interfere with piloting the ship, so Shin deactivated the long-range sight skills and adjusted the ship’s route to the west, where Zazie was pointing.

Eventually, Shin’s ears clearly picked up the song.

“They must be nervous because we’re not turning back.”

“That’s right, the song is disturbed too. You’ll be able to see what’s beyond the storm soon, no?”

“Right, let me give it a shot.”

Prompted by Filma, Shin put his long-range sight skills to full use, while paying attention to the ship’s controls at the same time.

He looked beyond the light and found a very nostalgic sight.

“Rejoice, ladies and gentlemen. We’ve hit the jackpot.”

A vessel many times larger than the ship Shin built, armed with cannons long enough to pierce the sky, its front ram glinting in the sunlight.

Excluding the fact that it was stranded on a massive crag, it looked exactly as Shin remembered. Colored white, following its owner’s nickname, Celciutos’ imposing silhouette was there.

“If we go forward like this, we’ll see Celciutos soon.”

Shin’s words caused a wave of excitement in the party. Bell and Shell jumped up in joy.

“If Celciutos is in this direction, does it mean that the cursed song aimed to prevent anyone from finding it?”

“If that’s the case, it’s strange for the song to come from inside Celciutos’ barrier though.”

Shibaid voiced his opinion, following a question from Zazie.

Shin very much doubted that normal mermaids could have penetrated Celciutos’ barrier. The support character in charge of Celciutos’ equipment was a dwarf, so it was very unlikely for him to still be alive. The only possibility was that the mermaids were protecting it.

“Maybe he negotiated with the mermaids?”

Knowing that his life was coming to an end, the dwarf could have thought of a plan to preserve Celciutos, or so hypothesized Lapwing.

“We’ll know all about that once we get closer.”

“That’s right. I’m sorry for them since they’re working so hard, but we’re going straight on.”

Shin nodded to Filma’s words and the ship carried on. The cursed song was gaining in volume and strength, but neither the number of casters nor their skill level was high enough to manipulate Shin’s group.

Probably growing more nervous due to the ship not changing directions or speed, on the course of Shin’s group, pillars of water clearly different from the usual waves started appearing.

Shin, wary, lowered the ship’s speed, and the responses he had registered on the map moved to surround the ship. They were 30 in all: ten on each of the ship’s sides and ten behind it.

“They came out of the barrier?”

As they were singing the cursed song, Shin could tell that they had come out of the barrier.

The reason was that, to prevent players from attacking safely from behind a barrier, if offensive skills were used from inside, aiming outside the barrier, its endurance would decrease significantly.

Celciutos’ barrier was no exception. Its endurance was very high and recovered automatically, so they had probably been singing from inside until now.

As the cursed song did not seem to have an effect, it would have been safer to not attempt to fight and take shelter inside the barrier: average intruders would simply be repelled, after all.

The responses, however, all moved outside the barrier to surround the ship. Shin thought that they did not go to the front of the ship, where the barrier was, in order to cut off all escape routes.

“I guess they think they got us surrounded, but they don’t know that it’s pretty meaningless for us.”

The front was still clear, so the ship could go forward without trouble. The speed was slower than before, so even if the barrier stopped them the ship would not suffer considerable damage.

Despite the ship continuing to proceed, the responses did not move. They were examining the situation, maybe, and did not emerge.

“Looks like it’ll be okay.”

The ship crossed the barrier of storm and winds: without particular resistance, Shin’s ship entered Celciutos’ barrier.

The responses — possibly mermaids — probably thought that the barrier would have stopped the ship’s advance: they scattered irregularly around the map, likely out of confusion.

“Looks like they’re coming after us.”

“Let’s see how they react — this is bad.”

Shin was ready to gauge their reactions, but then his face tensed.

The cause behind this sudden change was that his map registered a new response, something larger than even the ship. Its speed was very high, meaning that it would come in contact with the party in a matter of minutes.

As it was still relatively far, the mermaids seemed not to have noticed, and they appeared to be still undecided about how to react to Shin’s arrival.

“You people underwater! A huge monster’s heading here! Get back inside the barrier, now!”

Shin wasn’t sure that they could hear him, but he used the megaphone function to try to call to the mermaids.

Shin didn’t know about the extent of their abilities, but if they were attacked by surprise, there was the chance they would suffer damage. No matter what relationship they would have in the future, if they were annihilated in a situation caused by Shin’s group, it wouldn’t sit well with them.

Shin’s warning appeared to have reached the merpeople, as they all started swimming towards the barrier, managing to enter it before the large response could get closer. About one minute after the merpeople had safely taken shelter inside the barrier, the response showed itself.

“It’s huge…”

“I had the feeling it was too big…I see, it came out right away, huh.”

Looking at the source of the response, Tiera became speechless, while Shin laughed.

A body that emerged from the sea and towered high in the sky, black and red compound eyes glaring at Shin’s party: the “visitor” was none other than Keseldran, one of the Three Sea Beasts.

Even just the body, visible above water, was easily above 15 mels. Its size and the red aura the monster’s whole body emanated clearly expressed its status as a boss monster.

“■■■■■■■■■■■■■■――!![T/N: black squares, I think it’s supposed to be a roar]”

After less than one minute, Keseldran made its first move.

With a roar, better described as an explosion of sound, the monster looked towards the merpeople.

Unlike before, when it was just glaring, Keseldran now exuded a very powerful pressure in their direction.

The stormy waters, affected by the shockwave, formed radiation-like waves with the boss monster at the center.

“Shibaid, get ready to defend, just in case.”

“Understood.”

Shin examined the situation, then ordered Shibaid to activate a defensive barrier. Celciutos’ barrier was probably enough to repel the monster, but there was the possibility of it malfunctioning, like what happened in Palmirack.

As Shin’s group started moving, something changed with Keseldran.

“Er, it’s, shining?”

“Watch well. That’s Keseldran’s most powerful attack.”

Tiera perceived the danger and began to fret, but Schnee replied to her with a completely calm tone.

What Tiera had referred to was a bloating bluish-white globe of light that had formed in Keseldran’s maw. The thunderbolts running along its surface and the almost audible way the light blinked clearly suggested what element the attack was.

“It’s coming.”

Almost at the same time as Shin spoke, Keseldran fired a massive beam of lightning. Fitting the monster’s massive size, the bolt was around one mel in diameter.

Keseldran’s attack, which looked like lightning from the sky had been gathered together and given a direction, crashed against Celciutos’ barrier, then broke in four bolts running along the barrier’s surface. Part of the repelled bolts hit the water’s surface, releasing the electricity and causing an explosion.

“Aah!?”

Behind Shin and Shibaid, who had raised their shields to be safe, Tiera let out a small shriek.

The thunderbolt versus barrier bout saw the barrier emerge as the victor. Despite the continuing lightning strikes, the barrier’s surface did not show any cracks or signs of damage.

“Looks like the barrier’s still sturdy enough.”

The barrage of thunderbolts ended after about 5 seconds. Seeing that the barrier was unscathed, Keseldran growled ominously, then quickly retreated outside Shin’s detection range.

“My eyes still sting…what in the world was that?”

“Keseldran’s sure-kill breath. When its mouth starts lighting up like that, if you don’t dodge it or block it will turn you into ashes.”

Keseldran used lighting-based attacks despite being a sea monster, but its attacks were not limited to above water: its breath could also strike below the surface, its power not diminishing in the slightest. Furthermore, it even boasted the very troublesome effect of ignoring the protection granted by lightning-nullifying accessories.

During the game era, it allowed players to live the rare experience of being burned alive underwater.

The capabilities of its breath might suggest that Keseldran was superior to the other Sea Beasts, but Mascurda could avoid the breath with magic and Eolios possessed the rare skill to diffuse the breath to weaken it.

Precisely because such a lethal attack could not easily prove fatal, the Three Beasts maintained a balance.

“Okay then, let’s try talking with the merpeople first. Now that they’re surprised, they’ll probably at least listen to what we have to say.”

Shin wasn’t sure that the approach would be successful, but planned to do his part so that both parties will understand each other.

“If they attack us one-sidedly, can we knock them out?”

Probably because they had finally found Celciutos, Zazie was feeling belligerent.

“Let’s wipe the floor with them!!”

Lapwing calmed Bell and Shell’s shouting enthusiasm, but if they were attacked she would strike back too without reserve.

“Considering the place, if it turns out that they’re occupying Celciutos without permission, no need to have mercy. But if there are some special circumstances, we have to hear them out, right? They can enter the barrier after all, so there has to be a reason.”

Shin turned the ship towards the merpeople who fled from Keseldran. He then switched the controls to remote mode and exited on to the deck.

“I know you’re there! We have no intention of fighting you! If possible, I want to talk with your representative! Will you accept?”

Shin used wind magic to spread his voice underwater.

He then waited, looking at the trembling water surface. Soon enough, a mermaid with light blue hair emerged.

“…..Arno?”

Recognizing the mermaid’s face, Shin was surprised. He checked with 【Analyze】 too, but there was no mistake: the name Arno Toole was clearly displayed.

“I have come to talk with you as the merpeople’s representative. Will you allow me to board your ship?”

“I’m afraid that would instigate your comrades, so I will come down. That would make you feel safer, am I right?”

“Thank you for your concern.”

Differently from when they met in the guild, Arno’s expression was now stiff. She was clearly very nervous.

Shin told Arno the number of people that would come, then went down into the sea with Schnee, Zazie, and Lapwing. Their equipment changed to underwater mode, they swam to Arno’s position.

“As we barged in first, let us explain our circumstances first.”

As Arno belonged to the guild, Shin kept his identity as High Human hidden and explained that he was helping Zazie and the others in retrieving their master’s guild house.

Shigureya’s owner was well known throughout Barbatos. No one had more reason than them to enter the Kuwain area to find Celciutos.

“Is that so. I’m afraid this is the end, then.”

“What do you mean?”

Shin inquired to Arno, who looked defeated.

If they were using Celciutos as a safe dwelling, losing it must be painful.

In Barbatos, however, merpeople and fishpeople were not persecuted in any way. Rather, one could say they were very welcome.

Shin had no idea why Arno looked so hopeless.

“I’ll tell you everything over there.”

Arno pointed at Celciutos. Having no objections, Shin’s group returned to the ship, then, following the merpeople, sailed closer to Celciutos.

When they arrived less than 100 mels from the ship, however, trouble surfaced.

“Stop right there!!”

A large pillar of water appeared in front of the merpeople, probably meant to stop them or act as a warning. There was no damage to the ship or the merpeople.

The merpeople were surprised and some panicked, but Arno calmed them down.

Shin didn’t know what was going on, so he stopped the ship for the moment.

“Why do you let the intruders into our sanctuary? Depending on the circumstances, I will show no mercy, even if you are our mediator with the city!!”

The water pillar settled down and revealed a giant over 2 mels tall standing on the water. Behind him, all sorts of fishmen showed their faces from underwater.

The only fishman standing on the water was a Type Orca.

Strictly speaking, orcas were not fish, so calling Type Orcas fishmen would be wrong, but in THE NEW GATE they were categorized as such.

The appearance was simply an orca with legs. Like a mascot that could be found in an aquarium, it was also deformed and relatively cute. The fishman was pointing his trident to the group, probably trying to appear menacing, but other than his size there was nothing particularly frightening about him.

To Shin, it was more of a mystery how the Type Orca could hold the trident with arms that looked just like elongated fins.

——- 【Marshill Killer  Level 209 Pirate】

(A rare job, huh. He’s probably a Chosen One)

Shin thought so after looking at the information displayed by 【Analyze】.

The Pirate job was a rare one that gained boosts when fighting in water. To obtain it the player needed to defeat certain bosses: despite what the name suggested, there was no need to perform evil acts such as pillaging or plundering.

Some players enjoyed acting as bad guys, but mainly defeated Pirate NPCs who appeared as enemies.

“Let us through, Marshill. These people are the legitimate successors of Celciutos’ owner. Standing in their way means to violate the agreement.”

Arno’s words seemed to strike a nerve with the fishman called Marshill. As if triggered by his emotions, the trident’s prongs started crackling with electricity.

Shin was wondering what to do, when Zazie’s group, who had come out on deck too, stepped in front of him.

“We have come to retrieve our master’s possession, nothing more. What right do you people have to be here? What happened to Celciutos’ caretaker, Jesta? Why can you enter the barrier?”

“Successors? You couldn’t even cross the seas and abandoned our sanctuary for years! What do you want to do after all this time!?”

Jesta was a High Dwarf, one of Cook’s support characters. As long as something similar to what happened to Girard had not happened to him too, he was probably not alive anymore.

“We have kept all intruders from approaching Celciutos for generations, protecting this sanctuary. I don’t know why you appeared now, but this place is ours now. Leave at once!”

“Answer our questions. “This place is ours now?” Celciutos is Lord Cook’s, and no one else’s!! Keep spouting crap and I’ll turn you into sashimi, fish bastard!!”

Zazie roared back to Marshill’s claims of owning Celciutos.

Like Todo Kankuro had told Shin in Hinomoto, Rokuten’s support members still felt a deep loyalty to their masters, even after so much time had passed.

Zazie’s group too was highly loyal to Cook, thus witnessing other people using their master’s possession without permission and even claiming it was theirs, what would happen?

To know the answer, it was enough to hear Zazie’s shout and see the sashimi knife she held with both hands.

Lapwing, Bell, and Shell did not say anything, but all of them were wielding their weapons already.

Maybe because the opponents were fishmen, Lapwing was holding a sashimi knife as well. Bell had a huge sledgehammer, Shell two large chef’s knives, one in each hand.

Except Bell, all Shigureya members looked more like they were going to start cooking instead of fighting, but all weapons were actually Mythology grade: they could easily slice in two anything from cooking ingredients to dragon scales.

While not as powerful as Schnee and the others, Zazie’s group was far superior to the average Chosen One.

Marshill probably realized it too: from his forehead, or maybe his cheeks (it wasn’t clear where) sweat had started trailing down his face.

“…if you refuse to leave, we’ll just force you—”

“Ehm, sorry to bother when you’re all heating up, but why don’t we talk before we fight?”

Just as battle was about to break out before the two parties, Shin interrupted them. His teleportation-like instantaneous movement caused Marshill to instinctively try to retreat, but Shin had grabbed his trident, thus preventing him from doing so.

“Nnnggh! L-Let go!!”

“I will, if you listen to what we have to say. We have our own reasons. We can’t just turn back and leave.”

Marshill pulled on the trident with both hands, as hard as he could, but it didn’t budge an inch, as if it was fixed in midair.

“Let go!! Or else my light…ning…?”

Lightning ran down Marshill’s trident, but disappeared after a sparkle. It couldn’t exceed Shin’s magic resistance.

“Kh, what the hell…are you…?”

Shin calmly observed Marshill’s belligerent bunch. Despite the difference in strength, it seemed to him that they ran out of energy too quickly. The fishmen behind him were panting too, like the air around them was extremely thin.

The difference in fighting power was clear. Shin had used his pressure in order to make them desist from fighting. As he did, Marshill -who had tightly gripped the trident until now- and the fishmen behind him shuddered.

“…I understand. Let us talk.”

“That’s helpful of you. Zazie, you guys calm down too. I understand your anger, but blasting your killing intent like that is a bit much, no?”

“….understood.”

Zazie’s group made sure that Marshill didn’t make strange moves even after Shin let go of the trident and put down their weapons. Their complexion seemed a bit worse than before however.

“Ehm, may I…lead you somewhere…we can talk?”

“Please do.”

Shin nodded to Arno’s proposal, spoken in a tone sort of lacking confidence, and returned to the ship. He piloted the ship forward following Arno’s lead; Marshill’s group also followed quietly.

“Anyway, that was pretty surprising.”

“Yeah, a pillar of water out of the blue like that.”

“No, what happened after that! Things were tense enough when you grabbed that guy’s spear, but then you went and put pressure on the fishmen like you wanted to kill them all…”

“Uh…that much?”

Shin meant to just intimidate them a little, thus Filma’s words surprised him. He had intimidated others in this world before, so it felt strange to him to fail in adjusting the pressure he released.

“Seeing your comrade’s guildhouse being used by others without permission might have made you add more power unconsciously, it wouldn’t be too strange.”

“Hmm, I agree with Schnee.”

Shibaid nodded too.

“Well, I admit that when I heard “this place is ours now” I got pretty ticked off.”

After about 10 minutes of following the merpeople, Shin’s group arrived at Celciutos’ side. Both merpeople and fishmen climbed on land; Arno, as their representative, acted as guide for Shin’s party.

Merpeople’s lower body was fish-like, but when they were on land it turned into human-like legs. Arno was no exception: she was now wearing just a tube top and a pareo barely reaching her knees. Other mermaids had a similar look, while most mermen wore simple pants on their lower bodies and t-shirts or nothing at all on their upper bodies. They wore such clothing as to be ready to dive anytime.

Among the merpeople and fishmen, some also wore armor. They were the ones who would cover the others’ retreat in case of necessity, apparently.

“This way, please.”

As they were talking of such topics, the group arrived at their destination. Shin and his party walked on the crag Celciutos lied on, until they reached the ship’s mast.

Arno signaled something upwards and a sort of basket, made for several people to fit in, descended from above.

“Please ride on this, it’ll take you aboard Celciutos.”

Shin’s group now was near Celciutos’ bottom part. Without skills that made walking on walls possible, such as what Shin and Schnee had, contraptions like the basket were necessary.

Together with Shin’s group there were also the merpeople and fishmen, so the basket made several laps to take all present on board. Shin’s party, Arno, and Marshill went first.

“….ehm.”

When they arrived on the deck, they spotted an elderly man and four women, all wearing what looked like traditional clothing, kneeling down.

“We humbly thank you for coming all the way here. My name is Lierno Toole, I act as the leader of the merpeople and fishpeople living in this area.”

“Er, my name’s Shin. I’m Cook’s…comrade, someone the same as her, you could say. Something like that.”

Shin wasn’t sure how to react, and opted to introduce himself first of all.

He could have said he belonged to same guild as Cook, but in this world the word “guild” referred to associations of merchants or adventurers, so in order to keep things separate he used the word “comrade”.

“Lord Shin. I beg for your forgiveness for Marshill’s disrespect towards High Humans.”

Lierno bowed his head even deeper, almost touching the floor of the deck.

“High Human!? Weren’t they all extinct!?”

“You felt that aura and still say things like that!? On your knees, fool!!”

“Gwah!”

Marshill was shocked to learn that Shin was a High Human and was promptly scolded by Lierno. The latter probably used magic to push Marshill down from above with an unseen force.

“How did you know that I am a High Human?”

“That device displayed that lord Shin had entered the premises.”

“Ah, I see.”

Shin looked at the panel set on the wall and remembered about the existence of the device.

As Lierno had said, in the login column only Shin’s name was lit up.

“First of all, would you mind explaining the current situation?”

“Naturally. It would not do to talk here, however. Please, come this way.”

Shin’s group was led to a room previously used for meetings. Lierno waited for Shin’s group to sit down, then started talking in a calm tone.

“We can enter Celciutos’ barrier because of the agreement bound between Master Jesta and our ancestors.”

“An agreement?”

“In the past, when disaster struck this area, our ancestors were in danger of being annihilated. For some unknown reason, not only monsters but also some humans were set on hunting us down. I was told that Master Jesta, Celciutos’ caretaker, saved our ancestors in such a time of peril. At that time monsters were growing violent, miasma eruptions broke out, continents moved…disasters happened one after the other. It is told that if we did not take shelter within Celciutos’ barrier, our species would have surely gone extinct.”

Even after the natural calamities, monsters continued to grow violent: in their search for a safe haven, they had found the Kuwain area, or so Lierno said. Kuwain was originally the dominion of Ishkar, dragon king of the seas, and the three sea beasts were its guardians.

“Ishkar was a highly intelligent monster. It allowed our people to live here, so we finally could find safety.”

That did not last long, however. The Seafloor Sanctuary, Ishkar’s dwelling, was tainted by miasma. In order to contain the spread of miasma, Ishkar locked itself in the sanctuary: thus returning the peace once again.

Such peace, however, was disrupted a few years ago. The guardian beasts serving Ishkar, the three sea beasts, turned violent.

“I heard that Celciutos too was affected by the miasma and some of its functions stopped working as intended. Master Jesta used the stored items and Celciutos’ barrier to seal the miasma in the sanctuary, then told our ancestors to preserve it, or so it is said. In exchange, they were allowed to live on Celciutos. Most of its functions were locked, though. Master Jesta had probably foreseen that even a small mistake in operating Celciutos could cause disasters.”

Celciutos wasn’t just a ship Shin put together in a rush, but a magic-powered battleship that all Rokuten members collaborated to build, based on precise and intricate blueprints.

The fishmen would not have been able to make it move, but it was still equipped with anti-air, anti-ground, and anti-submarine weapons and ammunition, so just taking these out could have caused a lot of trouble.

“Apparently, Master Jesta said that if just one of the Rokuten members returned, they would have been able to find a solution to this predicament. I am fully aware of how shameless such a request may sound, but please, could you grant us your invaluable assistance in purifying the Seafloor Sanctuary?”

Lierno then bowed his head, as did the women around him and Arno. Ishkar, dragon king of the seas, was a monster on par with Yuzuha’s complete form, however. Not even Shin could easily accept to face it.

As Shin was reflecting upon this and thinking about what to do, Yuzuha contacted him via Mind Chat.

“(Shin, can’t we save Ishkar?)”

“(Yuzuha?)”

“(Ishkar, like Yuzuha. Blocking miasma. Ishkar is sea guardian. If Ishkar gone, big trouble in all seas.)”

“(He’s like Yuzuha, hmm.)”

Shin was reminded of the suffering Yuzuha in the shrine.

Ishkar, like the Element Tails, was a monster close to humanity. As Yuzuha said, it was probably in the sanctuary, doing everything possible to keep the miasma in check.

Considering this, Shin thought that just retrieving Celciutos and saying goodbye would not be a good idea. According to Lierno, if Ishkar had completely sealed in the miasma the seal would then unlock automatically: the fact that this hadn’t happened meant that it was still fighting against the miasma within the sanctuary.

Even Yuzuha had weakened because of the miasma’s effect: there was no guarantee that Ishkar was safe and sound. If they wanted to save him, the sooner the better.

In the end, they couldn’t leave miasma-related trouble alone.

“…guess there’s no other way. We’ll do it.”

“Kuu!”

“I knew you would say that, Shin.”

“Yep, sure enough.”

“Indeed, we cannot ignore this.”

“Not miasma, that’s for sure.”

Yuzuha, Schnee, Filma, Shibaid, and Tiera agreed to Shin’s decision. They all knew that this would be the conclusion as they listened to Lierno’s story.

“The first thing to do then, is to check Celciutos’ current state. Zazie, you guys help me with this too. You know the ship’s internal structure, right?”

“Yes. We should check on the engines first.”

Zazie’s group could also perform maintenance on Celciutos. They wouldn’t equal Jesta, who was exclusively in charge of the ship, but they knew its structure and functions perfectly.

Shin decided to make sure that Celciutos could move when necessary and then head to the supposedly sealed Seafloor Sanctuary.

 

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