Vol. 9 Chapter 1 – Part 2

Roughly 3 minutes had passed.

Munechika opened her eyes and made this declaration.

“Er, what does that mean exactly?”

“This sword does not host a consciousness. But I can transfer mine into it. Leaving my original form here.”

“Is it alright to do something like that?”

Listening to Munechika’s explanation, Shin was reminded of a videogame’s VR technology.

To leave the real body behind and move with only one’s consciousness as a VR avatar was similar to Munechika’s proposal of transferring her consciousness to another sword, he thought.

“T-that’s right. Isn’t it dangerous to do something like transferring your consciousness?”

“No, it doesn’t seem like there would be any trouble. Because this too is 『Mikazuki Munechika』. I know that even before trying.”

Munechika firmly nodded to Shin and Mitsuyo’s questions.

“Let me confirm, just in case. What would happen if you were defeated after transferring your consciousness?”

“If the host disappears, my original form would simply awaken. Of course, my original form would be defenseless while my consciousness is transferred elsewhere, though.”

“What if the host was contaminated by miasma?”

“I would not be able to transfer my consciousness anymore, or I would be trapped by it, I suppose. I cannot say with certainty unless that actually happens.”

What she knew was simply that she could transfer her consciousness into Shin’s 『Mikazuki Munechika』. That even after transferring her consciousness she could detect Yasutsuna and Kunitsuna’s presences. Lastly, that if the host body was broken her consciousness would return to the original one.

Shin tried to ask her the tricky question of how she could know all that, but Munechika simply replied “somehow”.

“This is just a hypothesis, but the sword you hold is also me, in a way. I do not know if we can consider it and me as one and the same, but I don’t think it’s wrong to consider it as something born from myself.”

“In other words, there are multiple containers for you?”

“That could be a way to put it. To inhabit them, though, I would need permission from the holder. I could not inhabit just any unknown stranger’s 『Mikazuki Munechika』.”

To inhabit a weapon, first it was necessary to align one’s wavelength with it, explains Munechika. She could not just inhabit any weapon as she pleased.

“It’s turned into something huge.”

Tiera was listening silently, but in the end blurted out a comment. Filma nodded in agreement.

“To inhabit other bodies with one’s consciousness…anthropomorphized weapons sure can do amazing stuff.”

“We are aware that we are unusual beings. We can also alter our appearance to a degree.”

“Indeed, we might be weapons but we also host a soul. I don’t imagine such bizarre creatures exist anywhere else.”

Munechika spoke seriously, while Tsunetsugu commented while laughing.Their reactions were different, but they both seemed to comprehend what kind of beings they were.

“…….”

“Hm? Why the sudden silence, Shin?”

“No, I just wanted to ask something else. Could you inhabit this weapon even if it had been reinforced?”

“Reinforced?”

“Yes, being an event item it doesn’t have many capacity slots, but 『Mikazuki Munechika』can still be reinforced. I thought that since we’re going to use it, it’d be better to boost it up while we’re at it.”

Shin thought that if the weapon Munechika carries in human form has the same stats and effects as her original form, if the original weapon was powered up maybe the human form would be strengthened as well.

“Wait just a moment there. You are aware that 『Mikazuki Munechika』 is one of the Five Supreme Blades, right? Maybe Munechika recognized your ability, maybe you’re an incredible guy, but don’t just say you can “reinforce” it so casually!”

“No, I mean that it’s not a proble—-don’t glare like that, please.”

Shin could only laugh wryly before Mitsuyo’s accusing stare.

“Calm down, Mitsuyo. That’s true, something unexpected might happen, I cannot refuse to be reinforced. I do not know what would happen if you fiddle with my main body, but I have no objections. As long as I can keep my form as the weapon 『Mikazuki Munechika』, being reinforced is not a problem.”

“I see. The sun will set soon, so we will leave the exploration for tomorrow and do the reinforcing today. Do you have any requests in what way you would like to be reinforced, by the way?”

Weapon reinforcement contained many options: sturdiness boost, attack power increase, attack range extension, element attachment, etcetera.

The times a weapon could be reinforced too had different patterns: depending on the strength of the effect applied, many different ones could be added, or it was also possible to focus on a single element.

Based on how it was reinforced, a weapon could change to the point of becoming like a completely different one.

“Hmm. Personally, I would favor sharpness and sturdiness. Because the ideal katana never breaks, never bends, and slices well. Besides, adding unique effects could make me feel weird when I return to my original body.”

“I see, roger then. I’ll use the clearing in front of the shrine for a while.”

After obtaining permission, Shin materialized Tsuki no Hokora. Shin headed straight to the smithy, but for some reason, behind Shin’s group, the 3 Supreme Blades and the baby Kagutsuchi were following.

“Wait, why are you all coming?”

“What? Is that a problem or something?”

“Well now, is that not the place where weapons, what we would call a part of ourselves, are tempered? It is not something we can see every day. It is not strange for our interest to be piqued. Or are women forbidden to enter a smithy?”

Depending on the age, some locations were forbidden to women. Munechika’s question to Shin was probably because she knew this fact.

“No, I don’t particularly care about things like that. I understand Munechika, but I didn’t think that Mitsuyo and Tsunetsugu, and even Kagutsuchi would come.”

“I don’t mean to boast, but we are not weapons that average blacksmiths can handle. I cannot deny I am interested.”

Tsunetsugu spoke with an innocent smile.

In the game era, Shin had very rarely let others see him work in the smithy.

The residential area and smithy of the Tsuki no Hokora weren’t accessible to any player outside the Rokuten members; keeping one’s ideas and methods hidden was also common practice.

Furthermore, having people watching made him feel a little awkward too.

(Maybe because of the people present, it feels pretty different from the time at Falnido.)

Probably because of the presence of Munechika’s group, weapons with a consciousness, it was different from having Girard’s attendants or Tiera watching. Shin felt a kind of nervousness he couldn’t quite put into words.

Munechika especially, was completely serious. Even the baby Kagutsuchi resting on her head, which would normally brighten the mood, had a deadly serious expression now.

“Then, I’m starting.”

With these words, Shin started the fire in the furnace.

He checked the appearance of the magic power-imbued flames, impossible to generate in reality, then took out ingots of Orihalcum and Scarletite from the item box.

He placed them in the furnace and waited several minutes. A mineral sparkling with a mix of silver and red was formed.

“Is that…”

Mitsuyo commented, impressed.

“Something we call Chimeradite.”

“Hmm, it hasn’t become a weapon yet, but I already feel a peculiar intimidation from it…”

“Is it something you can use without problems?”

Tsunetsugu and Munechika both stared intently at the Chimeradite ingot, after feeling its magical power.

“No problem at all. I have already used ingots like this to reinforce weapons.”

Shin understood their feelings, now that the world had become reality. Normal minerals do not possess magical power, and even unique minerals for blacksmithing would not emit unusual magical energies like Chimeradite does.

“I will focus on tempering now. I don’t think I’ll be able to answer anything even if you ask me, so please keep it in mind.”

Everyone in the smithy felt the atmosphere changed after Shin spoke these words using a serious tone.

“—-I’m starting.”

Shin first took 『Mikazuki Munechika』 out of the item box and removed its hilt from the blade. Holding it with tongs, Shin heated the blade over the furnace, turning it gradually whiter.

The magic power-imbued flames depended on the magic power of the blacksmith that had ignited them. Because of this, they could have various effects, depending on the blacksmith’s will.

This time the weapon was gradually reaching the most suitable temperature for reinforcing it.

“………….”

After about 20 seconds, Shin silently removed the blade from the furnace and placed it on top of the Chimeradite ingot atop the anvil.

The white hot blade, with the sharp side pointing down, cut through the Chimeradite like a knife through butter. When the blade reached the center of the ingot, Shin lowered his hammer.

“….hnngh!”

The hammer swung down on the ingot.

Every time the hammer struck, a long, bright sound of struck metal echoed in the smithy. At the same time, like ripples in a lake, the magic power imbued in the hammer spread through the ingot and the blade.

“Whoa, what’s this magic power…?”

“Hmm, now this is impressive.”

Looking at Shin performing blacksmith work, feeling the echoing sounds and the magic’s ripple, Mitsuyo and Tsunetsugu couldn’t help but to voice their surprise and admiration.

Munechika simply stared at Shin, without a word.

“As usual, Shin is really amazing when he does blacksmith work.”

“Of course he is, blacksmith is his second name after all.”

“That’s true. His strength stands out more, but originally this is what Shin is best at.”

Following Tiera’s words, spoken while her body trembled because of the ripples of magic power, Filma replied jokingly, while Schnee did with pride.

“It looks like it will be complete soon.”

Shibaid, who had been nodding silently, commented too.

As Schnee and the others turned their eyes back on Shin, the Chimeradite on the tip of Shin’s hammer had become very small, as it had been gradually absorbed into the blade, and had mostly disappeared.

“Shhh!”

The metallic echoes resounded one more time, stronger than before. With this last blow, the Chimeradite was completely absorbed by the blade.

Supported by the tongs, the blade was not touching the anvil and was held in midair. The silver aura surrounding the katana was clearly denser than before the reinforcement.

“Phew, it’s complete.”

With a small sigh, Shin reattached the hilt to the blade.

The katana’s appearance had barely changed, but he understood that its attack power and resilience had grown by 20%. The name had also changed to 『Mikazuki Munechika – Shinuchi』.

“Here we are. Just in case, check if everything’s all right.”

“Yes, I will…it’s all right.”

Munechika closed her eyes holding the sheathed 『Mikazuki Munechika – Shinuchi』, then nodded with conviction. A small grin on her lips suggested her excitement.

“I will try to transfer my consciousness right away. Mitsuyo, take care of my body.”

“Leave it to me.”

“Here I go.”

Munechika’s body glowed silver, then after a few seconds turned into light itself, vanishing in the air. From inside the light, a katana just like 『Mikazuki Munechika』 before the reinforcement appeared.

As Mitsuyo grabbed the katana that appeared in midair, it fell in her hands, as if it had lost whatever was supporting it.

On the other hand 『Mikazuki Munechika – Shinuchi』 was floating, in the same position as when Munechika was holding it. At the same time as Mitsuyo had grabbed the materialized 『Mikazuki Munechika』, 『Mikazuki Munechika – Shinuchi』 started to glow.

Silver light gathered around the reinforced katana, gradually forming a human-like silhouette.

After a while, it morphed completely into a human.

“….phew, looks like there really are no problems.”

“Er, what?”

“Hmm.”

“Mitsuyo, Tsunetsugu, why are you surprised? Hmm? Shin, you all too?”

Not only Mitsuyo and Tsunetsugu were surprised to see Munechika as she appeared again in human form.

Their reactions, though, were a mixture of awkwardness and looking pointedly at Shin.

“If no one talks, I don’t know how I’m supposed to react.”

“Well, er…yes, I think it’s faster if you take a look yourself.”

Shin materialized a hand mirror from the item box and gave it to Munechika.

Even if still puzzled, Munechika took it in her hands.

“Oh? I see, so this is the reason.”

Looking at herself in the mirror, Munechika nodded in understanding.

“What!? Is that it!?! Why are you more beautiful than before anyway!?”

Mitsuyo loudly voiced what everyone other than Munechika was thinking.

Munechika was already considerably good-looking, but her beauty seemed to have been upgraded too.

Her waist-length black hair had acquired an even shinier gloss, making her pale skin stand out even more. Her well-defined eyes expressed a proud elegance blooming from her beauty.

It seemed that even her chest, pushing up her armor, had become more ample than before.

“It looks like being reinforced also influenced my appearance.”

“Hey, Munechika!! Why are you so calm and collected!! This is just weird!! Not only did you get prettier, but your curves improved too!?”

She might be a weapon, but now she was a woman. She apparently harbored the desire to be prettier, so Mitsuyo questioned Munechika.

“Wait, Mitsuyo, that’s not something I can answer. Shin, do you know what could have caused this?”

Shin was the author of the reinforcement, but even he could not explain this phenomenon.

“Of course I don’t. If you transfer your consciousness to a reinforced weapon you can become more beautiful…I had no idea this would happen!”

“Maybe you put in even more effort because Munechika is a beautiful lady?”

“He-hey now, Tiera! Stop saying things that could cause misunderstandings. I really, really don’t know why this happened!”

Shin desperately explained himself to Tiera’s suspecting gaze.

Next to her, Schnee was looking at him with eyes clearly saying “that’s not the case at all, is it?” To Shin, this was the bigger menace.

“This too must be a feat the “Dark Blacksmith” can do, I suppose?”

“It could be. The quality has improved after all, it would be difficult to say they are unrelated.”

In contrast with the commotion that broke out on Shin’s side, Filma and Shibaid nodded to each other in understanding, while Yuzuha and Tsunetsugu were simply impressed.

“Kuu, Shin, amazing!”

“Amazing indeed. Even more than expected.”

“Anyway! The reinforcement is complete! Tomorrow morning we’re exploring the dungeon. Let’s get some rest!”

Shin shouted to forcefully end the conversation.

Tiera also let it go, maybe because she didn’t feel like pressing him further. Schnee sighed in relief.

“Yes, Shin is right.”

“But I just can’t accept it.”

“Hehe, Mitsuyo is a bit lacking in that kind of growth after all.

“….what did you say?”

“Hoho, my my, so scary.”

Mitsuyo’s killing intent leaked towards Tsunetsugu’s s direction.

She still seemed dissatisfied, but had not forgotten their primary goal. She knew that today they wouldn’t push themselves into exploring the dungeon. That’s one reason behind her reactions.

“Tomorrow, then.”

“Yes, I’ll do the necessary preparations.”

After seeing Munechika’s group off, Shin called Filma and Shibaid.

He meant to let the other members rest first, but as they were interested, Tiera and Yuzuha remained too.

Only Schnee, who understood the situation, went to make preparations for dinner.

“Do you still have something to do?”

“I already had Schnee do it, but please look at this.”

Shin pulled out 『True Moon』 from the item box and showed it to the two.

“『True Moon』 was broken!? Who the heck did you fight against?”

Filma looked at 『True Moon』, her eyes wide open in surprise. She knew well how sturdy it was, so she couldn’t believe that it had been broken.

“Could that be…”

“Shibaid can probably guess the cause. This happened when I fought Girard and it clashed against 『Crushing Moon』.”

Shin explained how he tried to fix it multiple times, and how he felt that a piece was restored when Schnee poured her magic power in the katana.

“Schnee and us, meaning it’s the number of those who serve under you?”

Shibaid made his guess after hearing that 3 pieces were missing.

The pieces Shin vaguely felt to be missing and the former support characters who had not poured their magic power in 『True Moon』 were the same number.

“Probably. That’s what I felt when Schnee infused her magic power in it. If this wasn’t tied with my support characters, then I would have no idea what else it could be.”

“Pour magic power in it, right? Let’s get it done then.”

After listening to Shin, Filma received 『True Moon』 from him and closed her eyes to concentrate. As she did so, the glow emitted by 『True Moon』 changed from violet to red.

As the red light was absorbed by 『True Moon』, Filma let out a sigh.

“My part is done. This sure takes a good chunk out of you.”

“Then my turn is next.”

Shibaid took 『True Moon』 from Filma and concentrated. The katana started glowing in a black light mixed with silver.

The light shone a little longer than Filma’s, but when it disappeared Shibaid too let out a small sigh.

“I can’t do it as Filma did. But my magic power is definitely within it too now. There’s only one remaining now.”

“There’s still someone?”

Shibaid’s words provoked a question from Tiera.

Schnee, Filma and Shibaid, then Girard. With so many powerful members already present, she was surprised that there was still someone else.

“A party could contain up to 6 members, after all. Shin had 5 support characters. The last one is a girl called Sety. She was born a bit later than us, so she was like a little sister. You can’t get ahold of her now, right?”

The Sety Filma talked about was the last one of Shin’s entourage. Support character no. 5, High Pixie Sety Lumiere.

Different from the close combat-type Filma and Girard, the wall-type Shibaid and the all-rounder Schnee, she was a rear support type mainly specialized in magic.

“Yes, completely lost. I don’t have a single clue.”

Shin answered making a gesture of surrender.

Just like Filma, Sety was acting freely on her own. She had not become famous like Schnee or Shibaid, so they did not have any idea where she could be.

“Shibaid, haven’t you or Schnee ever managed to reach her?”

“We haven’t. Just like with you.”

Shibaid looked at Filma with a certain tired annoyance in his eyes.

“I couldn’t help it, could I?”

Like Filma, she might be in need of help, so Shin had already made a search request to the Golden Company through Berett.

“Either she’s stuck somewhere like Filma was, or she has no intention of answering, I guess.”

“That’s right…but isn’t there also the possibility that she’s sleeping?”

Filma added one option to the possibilities Shin thought about Sety’s lack of a response.

“Sleeping? Ah, that’s true.”

Long-living species such as Elves and Pixies sometimes slept for dozens of years at a time. It was one of the game’s features. There also was a quest about waking up a NPC Pixie, so it wasn’t impossible.

“That makes it hard to join with her, though.”

“Right. We found Filma purely by chance too. For Sety, all I know is that she could maybe be in a  faerie village.”

Faerie villages, home bases for Pixies, existed in several locations. Some were open to contact with the outside world, while others weren’t; if Sety was in one of the latter type, it would have been difficult to look for her.

The barrier protecting faerie villages was something not even Shin could detect without being very close.

“If she is in one of the villages that communicate with the outside world, there would be at least some information coming in. But only those with high rank know the location of those sleeping, supposedly. We can only go directly and make sure.”

“In any case, we can just wait for information from Berett. If we don’t learn anything by the time this mission is done with, I’m planning to go to Garden first. ”

Shin replied to Shibaid. After meeting Girard again he was always involved in some trouble and had not had time, but he knew that he needed to make the time for this.

Inside it there should be Oxygen and Hydro, a High Pixie-High Lord duo serving under the Red Alchemist Hecate.

They were both research maniacs who would not take a step outside for years at a time, had completely different attitudes depending if they were interested in something or not…when Shin heard of the characteristics Hecate had created them with, he couldn’t help being perplexed as to why she would create them like that.

“Those two, if we’re lucky, are just immersed in their research. I looked at it from far away, but Garden didn’t appear to be damaged.”

“I’d like to object to that line, but I really can’t.”

“I understand that I should be worrying, really.”

Shin’s words were said in a joking manner to hide his worry, but Shibaid and Filma did not understand them like that.

They could not imagine Oxygen and Hydro, inside Garden, to be in any sort of trouble.

Shin only knew them from the game era, so he did not know how their personalities were now that the game had become reality. Looking at Filma and Shibaid’s reactions gave him an idea though.

If they didn’t change from the game era, they were likely still pursuing their research: they could probably even say that they didn’t notice the Dusk of Majesty had happened.

Abundant food and supplies, ample research material and facilities, combined with the high protection of being a Guild house. They had all they needed to shut themselves in it, so Shin wasn’t too worried either.

If they used the items within Garden, they could even deal with the powerful poisons surrounding it. Shin thought that they could have come out if they wanted.

“Well, no use talking about that here and now. Let’s settle this Supreme Blades business first.”

Their opponent was someone that, based only on strength, could rival Schnee.

As Shin’s party was superior both in numbers and ability, they had no risk of losing, but it was already a situation that was not present in the game. To be ready for any situation, he decided to review items and equipment before sleeping.

“OK, let’s recover our energy with Schnee’s dinner now. We can really look forward to her cooking.”

Everyone present knew of Schnee’s cooking skills.

As they entered the dining room, the food was already ready, while the table was being prepared.

“And…why are you here?”

“Because Kagutsuchi said it wanted to eat here. The High Elf there gave us her permission, by the way.”

Mitsuyo answered Shin’s question while pouting.

She was looking at the baby Kagutsuchi, sitting in the middle of the table.

“Pii!”

“It’s saying, I shall grant you the honor of feeding me.”

“Very high and mighty, but still a chick…”

These words would feel appropriate if said by Kagutsuchi’s original form, but the current fluffy chick had little authority to show. They had no reason to chase it out, however, so Schnee made dinner for Mitsuyo too.

“Pii!”

“Truly a delicacy. You have my praise”, it said.”

“Hehe, I’m honored.”

Kagutsuchi cried while pecking happily at the food, and Schnee answered with a smile.

Kagutsuchi was not the only one lost in the pleasure of Schnee’s food. Mitsuyo too, who had accompanied Kagutsuchi and sat at the table almost against her will, had been relentlessly and silently serving herself since the start of the meal.

Looking at the smile her lips formed, there was no need to ask for her impressions.

The dinner with such unusual guests continued: after it ended, Kagutsuchi and Mitsuyo returned to the small shrine.

After dinner all members proceeded to their respective rooms and prepared for the next day.

 

◆◆◆◆

 

“…..kuu.”

After everyone else had fallen asleep, Yuzuha cried softly on the bed.

She was remembering Filma and Shibaid pouring their magic power in 『True Moon』.

Shin said that there were 3 pieces missing: after Filma and Shibaid, just another one.

Even in its broken state, 『True Moon』 was a superior Ancient-grade weapon. If more magic power than just the last missing person’s part was poured in, it could surpass any other existing weapon.

Even if her knowledge was still limited, the Element Tail Yuzuha knew that.

What Yuzuha was concerned about was whether 『True Moon』 had capacity for her to pour magic power in or not.

Being his partner, Yuzuha also wanted to be of help to Shin. But if 『True Moon』 didn’t have room, there was nothing she could do.

“Kuu!”

I want to be stronger. So Yuzuha thought.

If she recovered all her powers and used all of her knowledge, she might be able to do something.

These were the thoughts that started to sprout in Yuzuha’s mind.

 

◆◆◆◆

 

At the same time, Tiera was still awake.

Sharing similar emotions as Yuzuha, she was thinking of Filma and Shibaid.

“…..haah.”

She could only sigh.

She had become unmistakably stronger. Yet she was still far from matching Schnee and the others. Even if she poured magic power in 『True Moon』like them, the resulting boost would surely be minimal.

“I’d….hate that…”

Her thoughts spilled into her words.

Tiera was aware she was the least powerful of the current members.

But even so, she wanted to be useful to Shin.

Tiera couldn’t yet decide if that desire came for the gratitude to him for dispelling her curse or for another feeling that was slowly taking shape within her.

She hated not being able to do anything though.

“I want to…be stronger…”

She didn’t want to be a burden.

She didn’t want them to keep looking out for her.

She knew that it was an arrogant wish, but as of now they were not on equal standing.

I want to stand…at his side.

“…haah.”

Her feelings were strong. But reality wasn’t that easy.

The difference in strength was overwhelming, she did not know what she should do.

But even so, her feelings remained.

“Sniffle…”

It would take a while before she could sleep that night.

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