“Shall we form a party and go to a dungeon?”
Four days later after he went to the ‘B&W’, Shin received an invitation mail.
Though Shin was surprised by the mail which came abruptly. He had no problem with his schedule or reason to decline so he replied “Got it.”.
“(Then, there are five of us, you and me, Hibineko-san, Shadow-san and Holly-san. I’ll prepare a meal portion for Shin.)”
“(I’m thankful for that. So, should I offer to do their equipment?)”
“(Um, that would be helpful.. I think.)”
Voice chat could be used between players. Using that function, Shin confirmed the members and the location. Shin heard Marino speaking in an uncertain sounding voice.
Shin had learnt the details of the dungeon’s whereabouts from Marino’s alter ego in the game. He was aware that the dungeon was far beyond what Marino’s avatar can handle.
Marino’s current avatar had just finished her first reincarnation. With Marino’s current level, when you factored in the quality of her equipment and the low bonus for reincarnation, level 300 monsters would be the most suitable for her.
The problem was that, the field-type dungeon which was selected as their destination had monsters that averaged level 400. Marino’s current level meant she could be instantly killed by these monsters even at the dungeon entrance. It was clear that she was lacking ability.
Shin only knew Shadow’s ability. He confirmed that Holly and Hibineko didn’t have a problem with it.
In other words, Marino was simply a burden. If she made a single mistake, the possibility of dying and returning alone were high.
“(But I never thought it was such a high-level dungeon…)”
“(Because you are always with me, they probably thought you were a high rank player too. Since you often meet with Hibineko-san and Holly-san, didn’t you guys talk about it?)”
“(We hardly discussed capturing dungeon. And I usually asked for advice from Holly-san as we’re both are women.)”
“(Oh well, that’s just how you are.)”
It wasn’t unusual for them to chat meaninglessly like this avatar to avatar. Most people seemed to have fun discussing things that way in MMOs.
“(Well that’s fine I guess. Though I’d be angry if someone I didn’t know suddenly proposed this. Marino is not the kind to think that way.)”
“(Mu! I feel like I’m being made fun of somehow.)”
“(Definitely not. Isn’t there something more reasonable than power-leveling, Marino?)”
In case of Marino’s character, was she being modest? She was going to discuss changing the destination with Shadow and Holly. They wouldn’t be offended by the request.
He wasn’t sure about Hibineko, but after talking with him, Shin felt he had the same kind of good personality as Shadow and Holly. He couldn’t help to think there was some kind of meaning behind Marino’s desire to intentionally go to a high-level dungeon.
“(Actually, the reason is that you can see the amazingly beautiful scenery in this dungeon field)”
According to Marino, there was a place where elaborate graphics could be seen. Screen shot images of what players saw there had been uploaded to a bulletin board. It seemed that Marino really wants to see it for herself.
“Is that so? Well I understand. Then, I’m willing to cooperate.”
As they chatted, the face of Shin’s avatar expressed a broad smile to show Marino he agreed.
From the beginning, he didn’t think that Marino was interested in power-leveling. Shin mostly focused on reinforcing his arms and raising his abilities. Her play-style was completely different. Of course, Shin didn’t dislike the way Marino enjoyed things.
“Then, let’s choose your equipment right now. With your stats, the best equipment to use is ‘Poisonous Viper’s Skin Mantle’, ‘Dagger of Decomposition’ and ‘Black Lily Boots’.”
As they had finished chatting, Shin met Marino at Alloride and handed over the equipment he had chosen and brought from the warehouse.
“T-They have good performance, but they’re strange looking and their names are frightening! No one would wear this equipment!”
Most equipment with sinister sounding names will also give off a sinister impression. Marino who wore them while displaying a doubtful face, screamed at the design.
“Ha ha ha. I’m just kidding.”
While laughing unnaturally, Shin collected the items from Marino.
The items that Shin removed would have certainly improve Marino’s ability as a tamer. The problem was they looked like something an evil magician or a terrible monster abusing tamer would wear.
“Then, here is my favorite equipment.”
“Mou! …you’re mean.”
Marino glared at him with a sulky face. Shin looked back at her with a smirk, as he laughed with a “nyonyo”.
“Hey! Sorry, Sorry!”
Marino who was pouting because of Shin’s expression, attacked Shin with the equipment that she had just received. Though there was no damage, Shin quickly admitted defeat.
“That is forbidden!”
“Well you see, it’s the truth that guys want to be mean to the girl he likes.”
“…I’m not going to be fooled.”
“Marino-san, you were swayed just now, weren’t you?”
Shin noticed that Marino’s movement had became awkward.
“Mou! It’s forbidden after all! For-bi-d-den!”
Shin teased Marino who waved her fist while being embarrassed.
The two people arguing sounded nice and warm, as warm looks were sent from their surroundings.
The day after Marino’s equipment had been decided. Shin and his party traveled through a mountain and forest area as they came to the field-type dungeon ‘Sacred Mountain of the Morning Star’.
The party consisted of 5 people; Shin, Marino, Hibineko, Shadow, and Holly. At Marino’s feet was a young Wolf-Type monster or ‘Mini-Rufu’, which was her partner. It was sitting in standby mode. His name was ‘Pochitama’. Although his appearance was that of a puppy, Marino said that he had a cat-like character.
With a prototype katana 『Gengetsu』 pulled out from his waist, Shin said.
“Well then, shall we go?”
“I-I’ll do my best!”
Marino who was anxious about her level, shouted as if she did not want to become a burden.
“I look forward to the scenery from the mountaintop.”
“Such an adventure isn’t bad either.”
“You’re just itching to put your skills to use.”
Holly and Shadow also readied their weapons. Shadow looked like a Ninja. By wearing the ‘Ninja outfit of the Twilight’ he really looked the part. He wore ‘Dagger of Twilight’ on his waist.
Holly was standing next to him wearing the fluffy seeming ‘Robe of Soul Cloth’. The ‘Short Stick of Light’ was sticking out of the robe.
Hibineko who looked like a bartender, dressed in ‘Cat of Wonder’ outfit. His arms were equipped with clawed dragon arms called ‘Misty Hound’. Though they seemed the same, they were both a weapon and a guard which were classified as medium rank of 《Mythology》 grade.
As for Shin, he was wearing 《Ancient》 grade equipment in addition to his 《Ancient》 grade weapon, 『Gengetsu』.
Marino was only equipped with 《Unique》 grade equipment so, she was little out of place.
“…Still, I think it’s better for you to spend time on raising your level a little more.”
“She should do what she wants. I am particular about this, but couldn’t refuse because Marino was looking forward this.”
“That’s right. Shin-kun and Marino-chan seemed to look forward to this. I say this just in case, but you mustn’t neglect the real world.”
“I know. If I get addicted to the game and shut myself off, I would get beaten by my parents.”
Once when his grades fell, Shin almost had his internet canceled. Recalling that, he showed a “Gimme a break” expression.
“You don’t understand. That what is called the parental love.”
“Indeed. Too much of anything is not good.”
“Ugh…That make my ears burn.”
Shin who had stepped into the territory of an addicted person, couldn’t argue against Hibineko and Shadow.
Anyway, after being scolded by his parents, Shin played with emphasizing on efficiency. It was an ironic story, as that boosted Shin’s strength in a strange way.
“Come on, lets talks about this later. The enemy is here!”
“Woops! It seems so.”
With Hibineko’s single phrase, everyone turned their attention to the surroundings.
The road Shin and the party walking on, was surrounded by dense forest. The visibility was poor because of the dim forest and they couldn’t check the other side of the trees.
Normally, this wasn’t a situation where they could talk comfortably as they watched for a surprise attack. However, with Shin who could be called an all-around type, Hibineko who was good at solo fights, and Shadow whose main job was Shinobi, on the lookout, they wouldn’t allow an enemy to approach so easily.
“Three from the right, two from the left.”
After reporting that, Shadow disappeared. A Shinobi’s main power was basically the surprise attack. Though it was a battle that played around with speed as he showed up occasionally, Shadow was better at surprise attacks.
As for the others, because only Shin and Hibineko were adequate for their levels, they served as backup in case additional monsters came.
“Roger that. Hibineko-san, I’ll go for the right.”
“Umu, then I’ll take charge of the left.”
Shin said, while noting the approaching presences. Behind where Shin and Hibineko readied their weapons, Holly also prepared to invoke a magic skill immediately.
“I’m counting on you, Pochitama”
Though she understood that she wouldn’t have a turn, Marino held her whip, and prompted her partner, Pochitama to be wary. He seemed to have already sensed that an enemy was close. Pochitama let out a small roar and crouched, in order to be able to spring upon the enemy at any time.
“Here it comes!”
Several seconds after Shin shouted, monsters jumped out one after another from the gap between the trees.
The first to appear were three monsters who came out from the right side of their view.
They were ‘Red Boartaurus’. These monsters had a boar’s head combined with a human lower body. Though they only wore loincloths, their bodies were entirely covered in crimson bristles. Their arms, which were as thick as logs, grasped huge battle axes more than 2 mels high. Their eyes, which peered out between thick and sharp tusks, were staring straight at Shin and the others.
Several seconds after the Red Boartaurus appeared, two ant-type monsters called ‘Mana-Ant Searchers’ came out from the left side. With bluish-white shells, they had three pairs of shiny compound eyes that were evenly spaced on their faces.
Making a “Kacha Kacha” noise with their tusks, the Red Boartaurus turned their heads left and right as they were comparing Shin and the others by sight.
“Uh, it’s the Searcher!”
“No time to waste. Hibineko-san. I’ll support you, so please finish them quickly.”
Monsters who had gained the name “Searcher”, could call in a large number of companions if they weren’t defeated quickly. Any player who had become strong within THE NEW GATE, knew that from experience.
Holly waited for Hibineko to attack the Mana-Ant Searchers to attract their attention, before she invoked her magic skill.
“【Thunder Arrow】 in three seconds!”
After hearing Holly’s voice, Hibineko attacked while calculating the time. In two seconds, Hibineko jumped, at the same time he escaped from the line of fire of the 【Thunder Arrow】, he disappeared from the Mana-Ant Searchers’ view.
By giving the two monsters equal damage, the Mana-Ant Searchers’ attention completely went to Hibineko. As the two Mana-Ant Searchers looked up at Hibineko who jumped, Holly shot lightning technique type magic skill 【Thunder Arrow】 three times.
The lightning technique type magic skill gave the abnormal effect ‘Paralyze’ that restrict the movement of the opponents. Its effect was fully demonstrated this time, as the Mana-Ant Searchers’ movement became stiff.
At this time, Hibineko who had jumped, extend both of his arms before he landed. Because he jumped before the Mana-Ant Searcher’s heads were hit by the rays, Hibineko crushed the two heads in one attack.
The swoop dive after the great jump was a barehanded technique martial arts skill 【High & Low】. It was a jump used together with other players that attack with magic or a bow, as well as being a skill used when pursuing. Among the players, this was one of the orthodox combinations of play.
The Mana-Ant Searchers’ HP, whose heads were destroyed, became 0, they turned into polygons and scattered.
Before confirming the item drops and the EXP, Hibineko turned his face toward Shin. While Hibineko and Holly were keeping the Mana-Ant Searchers occupied, Shin was facing against the Red Boartaurus. As he was also trying to put the katana prototype to the test, he dodged the enemy’s battle ax with a sidestep, and started to attack.
Shin had invested primarily on increasing 『Gengetsu’s』 range of attack, a red translucent blade extended from the tip of the katana, and its range became about 3 times its original.
One-handed weapons which had this kind range, without using a skill, were quite rare. However, every time he attacked with 『Gengetsu』, Shin’s MP had decreased a little. Because MP was being used in a normal attack, the reduction of MP decreases the number of times skills can be used, and the use of things like recovery items would increase. This would become a burden in a battle.
However, if you looked at the power and the suppression force that bisected two of the Red Boartaurus who were in line with the slash, it was a trifling compensation.
Just as Shin was about to attack the last Red Boartaurus, Marino’s whip was snapped. And then, the slashing attack that Shin unleashed, cut the body in two. With the skill that was strengthened by 『Gengetsu’s』 ability, even the objects behind the Red Boartaurus were destroyed.
“Good timing! Nice assist!”
Though Marino’s attack didn’t seem to have an effect, Shin evaluated the points to her follow-up movement. Shin gave a thumbs up and praised Marino.
“Uu, it wasn’t effective at all.”
“It would be like that considering Marino’s stats. Besides, today’s opponents are hand-to-hand combat type. They are strong in physical attack.”
Shin spoke to cheer Marino who was depressed.
The level of the Red Boartaurus were higher than the average monsters that appear in the ‘Sacred Mountain of the Morning Star’, higher than 501. In addition, as a close combat type, its movement wouldn’t stop at the little damage. It was only natural that Marino’s attack lack power.
“Is it over for now?”
“It is safe now, no enemy approaching.”
Shadow who had watched the surroundings appeared and answered Shin’s question. After the items were collected, the party decided to advance ahead.
“My level rose by 5 levels!”
“There’s a huge gap for the level and stats. Because we are in a party, even if the experience points are distributed to some extent, you’ll receive experience points fairly as compensation”
To Marino who was surprised to see her status screen, Shin said it was only natural. Since she wasn’t only just looking, and attacked for real, compensation applies to the amount of experience she received. (T/L Note: Compensation here means that she receives more if she participates in a fight vs just sitting and power leveling.)
“Then, let’s head forward.”
With Shin and Hibineko in the lead, the party walked forward. When they had walked for about 30 minutes and a few more battle afterwards, the road started to be inclined.
“I think we have entered the mountains.”
“Indeed, according to the information that I collected, the type of monsters that appear will change.”
While walking on the narrowing path of the mountain, Hibineko shared information with Shin.
There were two types that they should be cautious of.
The snake type monster that was good at surprise attacks, ‘Stare Viper’, and the bird type monster that attacks in mid air using the trees as blind spots, ‘Farlop’.
After they had compared the information they had with each other, Shin muttered with a stumped face.
“But this is too much…”
“Well, the number is considerably different from the story I heard.”
As he could sense many reactions from 【Sign Perception】, Hibineko agreed while twiddling with his whiskers.
While the range 【Sign Perception】 could detect was wide, it could also detect wild animal and players in addition to monsters. But to Shin and the others, they just need to watch the markers displayed on the map, to see whether it was a monster or not.
However, that was not the case this time. In the rugged terrain of the mountain, the markers that were displayed didn’t slowdown as they were moving on the field at a fixed speed. Their movement weren’t affected by the terrain. For this to be possible, only the flight monsters could enable such movements.
As Shin was paying attention, he confirmed with 【Search】 that the markers were monsters as they came closer.
“Um, what do you mean?”
“The number of monsters is a bit higher than what I heard. They shouldn’t be the monsters that are coming out in a group.
Did she heard them talking? Shin explained the situation to Marino who seemed to be perplexed.
“Wouldn’t this make it impossible to climb?”
“No, this is all right. At worse, I will knock them down and clean everything off. And see if we could go around it.”
To Marino with a worried face, Shin returned with an indifferent attitude. This was not an exaggeration or a bluff, it was possible when making full use of Shin’s skills and stats. It was a simple fact.
“If Shin-kun is here, there will be no problem in that area. Marino-chan, aren’t you feeling relieved?”
Holly, who didn’t show much enthusiasm, smiled as Marino felt at ease.
“By the way, Hibineko-san. Doesn’t this feel like a hidden quest being generated?”
From the mass outbreak of the monsters, Shin brought up the possibility that came to mind.
“Well, there’s that possibility. But, I have not heard that kind of quest in this neighborhood.”
“Then, it’s an undiscovered quest, huh?”
“Maybe, but our goal is different this time. Stop that excited face.”
In THE NEW GATE, there were a lot of hidden quests that were still unknown to the players.
It was one of the pleasures of the players to discover them, Shin too without exception had a big grin on his face due to the unexpected situation.
“There’s a lot in the sky, but only a few monsters on the ground. Would you like to go the place I observed from?”
Shadow who had disappeared due to scouting out the area, showed up from inside the forest to ask Shin.
“Is that so? I think we can go if the cave we ought to enter on the way is not found. And I have a feeling that I saw them flying lower than the mountaintop. I think Shadow’s idea is good, don’t you think?”
While seeing Farlops flying through the forest, Shin suggested.
“Fumu, it seems it’s just as Shin say it. Mari-nyaa, how about you?”
“Um, I also think Shadow’s plan is good. If this is no good, there will be another day. I’ll leave the judgement to everyone.”
Marino who was asked by Hibineko, nodded while saying that.
“It’s decided. Then shall we move?”
When the plan was decided, Shadow disappeared again, he went ahead to investigate the situation.
Shin and the rest were also watching the surroundings, and moved forward through the mountain road.
In less than 20 minutes. The number of trees gradually decreased, it became impossible to hide themselves.
“I saw the entrance. It was on the other side.”
Shadow who went ahead revealed himself, and told Shin and the others that he had discovered the entrance of the cave.
While following Shadow, 30 mels before the end of the forest, the cave’s entrance was visible.
“We would be found by the enemy like this. Should we apply 【Hiding】?”
“That would be good. The flight type monsters have good sight.”
Shadow agreed to Shin’s proposal. When Shin looked behind, Hibineko and Holly also nodded.
“Eh? Pochitama isn’t here”
Marino’s voice reached Shin’s ears just as he about to activate the skill.
“Hm? Hey, look! That!”
Marino’s raised voice that pointed in front of Shin, there was the figure of Pochitama running in the opposite direction to the cave.
“I didn’t give any instructions though…”
“Oh dear! Did he pay too much attention to the sky?”
When moving to a dungeon, one must be aware of the enemy after all. Monster partners shouldn’t act without permission, and because Pochitama was an ally, he was not covered by Shin and the others’ watch.
“This is bad, we’ve been found. I’ll be the decoy, please catch him in the meantime.”
Shin saw multiple signs were aiming at Pochitama, and he jumped out from the forest. While Shin runs to the cave, he faces the Farlops that dive down.
From the tip of the stretched-out hand, bullets of light continuously shot out. However, the light bullets heading in a straight line were avoided by the Farlops by slightly changing their descending trajectory.
The light bullets that should have lost its target, suddenly changed trajectory direction midair. The light bullets that had been heading toward the sky, attacked the back of the Farlops while drawing the character “く”.
“Light technique type magic skill 【Ray Stinger】!”
The light-balls that were bestowed with homing ability, fully demonstrate Shin’s enhanced magic power. The light bullets moved in the air freely, and penetrated several Farlops.
With polygons falling from the sky, Shin directed his gaze to Marino and the others.
The skill that could direct the enemy’s hatred toward oneself were ineffective when the monsters already started to attack. A few Farlops were already heading down towards Marino and the others.
“At this time, there’s no way to earn all the hatred.”
Shin muttered alone as he swung the 『Gengetsu』. With the sound that cut the air, he invoked 【Blade Pass】.
“Strike them all!”
Above Marino and the others who ran toward Pochitama, multiple red slashing lines flew. For attacks, outside of Shin’s perception range, the Farlops who were diving down were bisected before they could reach Marino and the others.
“I caught him!”
While rain of polygons poured down, Marino caught Pochitama. Marino held Pochitama in her arms, but that didn’t stop him from barking continuously toward the front.
“What’s the matter, Pochitama?”
“Judging from his reaction, he probably trying to inform us there’s something on the other side, don’t you think?”
Shadow said to Marino who was perplexed at Pochitama’s behavior. While watching the surroundings, Hibineko and Holly also conveyed the same opinion.
“Apparently, there is something in the shade of that rock.”
Hibineko who was looking at the direction where Pochitama barked, noticed there was a response other than the Farlops.
The interception of the Farlops was left to Shin, Marino and the other stealthily looked at the back of the rock that blocked their view.
“Is that the Stare Viper?”
Blue and green scales undulated. It was a big snake, Stare Viper, that has a span of 7 mels. And something was encircled by that gigantic body. Because its body was in the way, Marino and the others couldn’t see what was in the center.
“That seems to be the cause. At this chance, let’s kill it.”
“I’ve the same feeling. It’ll be boring to retreat here.”
“Ho-nyaa and Shado-nyaa are really fired up, huh? Then, I’ll also help. Mari-nyaa, you hide here.”
“Got it. Be careful.”
As Marino’s support from the back was received, the three jumped out from the shade of the rock. While Holly chanted, Shadow’s presence was erased and Hibineko flew straight from the front.
“It’s level 500. That’s quite a high-level.”
【Analyze】 revealed the level of Stare Viper, Hibineko waves his fist upfront while admiring it.
By movement system martial arts skill 【Shukuchi】, the Stare Viper couldn’t react to Hibineko who suddenly appeared before its eyes. It could only take on the attacks.
At the same time the damage was generated by his claws, the surface of the Stare Viper’s face started to frost due to Hibineko’s skill, barehanded and water technique combination skill 【Freezing Blow】. With its face being frozen, the Stare Viper’s movement suddenly became dull.
Just like a snake in the real world, a snake type monster has one common weakness on the thermal sensor organ called pit organ.
In the opening that was caused by Hibineko’s attack, Shadow attacked repeatedly. As the Stare Viper received the backstab critical combo, its HP suddenly entered the red zone.
“I’ll end it!”
Against the tottering Stare Viper, Holly unleashed her magic. A spear of soil grew from the ground, and skewered the Stare Viper.
Like Holly had declared, it became the final blow as the Stare Viper burst and scattered. When the gigantic body disappeared, the thing that the Stare Viper encircled was revealed.
“Marino-chan, it’s safe. Come out and see this.”
When Holly and Marino approached, Shadow and Hibineko turned over to give them way.
“It’s some kind of egg. The Stare Viper was aiming at this.”
“It seems so. But Hibineko-san and I couldn’t get close.
“We’re repelled by some kind of magic barrier.” Shadow reported.
The egg was surrounded by a transparent membrane about 2 mels radius; even if Shadow and Hibineko touched it, they couldn’t pass it through.
“I wonder if there’s any conditions?”
“It’s amazing, right? Ah, hey Pochitama!”
Next to Holly who was lost in thought, Pochitama escaped from Marino’s arms. Marino thought he would hit against the magic barrier, but Pochitama slipped into the barrier without any resistance.
“Hmm, perhaps Mari-nyaa is the key this time?”
Marino who was the subject of their talk, stopped moving in front of the barrier. Her face has the look of someone asking the question “What?”.
“For now, can you look at it, Marino-chan? If Pochitama can enter, Marino-chan probably could too.”
“Um, I understand.”
Urged by Holly, Marino timidly tried to touch the magic barrier. Then, similar to Pochitama, she passed through the magic barrier as if there was nothing there.
“Marino-chan, get the egg!”
“Eh, but that is…stealing…”
“It’s okay! It’s a quest item according to the appraisal.”
Marino couldn’t keep up with the momentum of Holly’s victory pose.
However, she also understood that the egg has no parents, so she touched the egg. And then, it transformed into an item card at Marino’s hand.