Chapter - 3:
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He walked for 25 minutes after leaving the guild.
Before Shin’s eyes was a signboard with a bear’s paw drawn on it. It matched Selica’s description perfectly, so this was most likely The Badger’s Pavilion.

 

“This must be the place.”

 

Just in case, he double checked one more time before reaching for the handle. As he slowly opened the door, the sound of laughter spilled out.
Inside The Badger’s Pavilion was a large counter in the middle and seven large tables that filled out the rest of the room. At every single table were people who looked like adventurers holding a tankard in a hand and making merry. Five of those tables were already full.

 

As Shin gazed at this scene, a shadow fell over him. Something was blocking the light.
Feeling someone’s presence behind him, he turned around.

 

“Nn?”

 

What came into view was an apron embroidered with flowers and an arm three times as thick as Shin’s own.

 

“Welcome! Are you alone?”

 

The voice came from above his head, so he looked up. He found himself staring into the eyes of a man very much like a rock with an indisputably evil grin on a grim face.

 

“Huge ......”

 

Instead of an answer, what came out of Shin’s mouth was just that word. At 180 cemels, Shin was taller than the average person. However, the person currently in front of him probably topped 230 cemels. Pretty much a giant.

 

“What’s the matter, sonny. You’re lacking spirit!”
“Yes, sir! No wait, I’m sorry, who are you?”

 

Shin came back to his senses at the man’s words. His answer was still a bit disoriented, though.

 

“Me? I’m the owner of The Badger’s Pavilion, and also its poster old guy! I’m Douma Bear!”
“...... ‘old guy’ ...... ?”

 

Shin can’t be faulted for thinking, “Isn’t it normally poster girl?”

 

(T/N: There is this Japanese traditional/strategy of having a pretty girl stay outside your store and attract customers inside. Over time, she would get well-known as the “face” of the store in the eyes of the customers. Well, a lot of the store owners just had their own daughters do it, though. This job is called being the kanban musume, which I translate as “poster girl.” The joke here is that the role that Douma is claiming is at complete odds with his looks.)

 

“Indeed! I’m the popular old guy who is attracting customers to the store! That’s what it means to be a poster old—”
“That’s supposed to be a poster GIRL’s job!”
“—guy.”

 

Shin couldn’t help blurting out a retort.

 

“Umu. Nice retort!”

 

For some reason, the self-called poster old guy gave Shin a thumbs up.

 

“Did I go into the wrong place ......”
“Don’t be embarrassed about it, young man!”
“I’m not embarrassed! What part of me is embarrassed, huh?!”

 

Before they knew it, they had started a manzai skit.

 

(T/N: Manzai is a specific genre of comedy that involves someone saying stupid/silly things (called the boke) and someone retorting in response (both the retort and the role are called tsukkomi). For example, Douma said that he’s a poster old man, and Shin points out that it’s supposed to be a poster girl, or Douma telling Shin to not be embarrassed, but Shin says that he’s not even embarrassed in the first place.)

 

“Good going, kiddo!!”
“Show us more!!”

 

Shin sighed at the yells from the group of drunkards. They looked completely wasted.

 

“Haa, guess I should look for a different—”
“What are you guys doing!!!”
“—inn?”

 

Shin was sincerely considering finding another inn when a woman’s voice sliced through the din like it was banishing what Shin was thinking.
Shin thought the voice had come from behind Douma. Due to Douma’s large bulk, though, Shin couldn’t see the owner of the voice at all.

 

“Dad? I’m always telling you to stop saying weird things, right? What are you going to do if people start spreading strange rumors about us?”

 

It was a quiet, gentle voice, but at the moment it was clearly overflowing with suppressed anger.

 

“No, you see, this was, I was just playing a little pra—”
“Shut up.”
“...... Yes, ma’am.”

 

A curt dismissal of even his attempt at an excuse. Judging from the words just now, the owner of the voice was Douma’s daughter, but apparently the roles of the one doing the scolding and the one being scolded had been reversed.

 

“I’ll take care of the hall, so Dad, you go to the kitchen and help Mom!”
“O-okay.”

 

Douma headed towards the kitchen with shoulders lowered. Shin felt that it wasn’t just his imagination that Douma’s figure had shrunk by a size.

 

“I’m terribly sorry about showing you something so weird out of the blue. Are you here for a meal? Or do you wish to book a room?”

 

Douma’s existence had been reduced to simply “something weird.”
With Douma off to the kitchen, Shin finally saw the daughter that had been scolding Douma.
She had short brown hair. The smile on her face was probably her “business smile,” but it was already plenty attractive. Rather than ‘beautiful,’ the word ‘cute’ probably suited her better.

 

“Ah, a room please. Is what happened just now a frequent occurrence here?”
“To be honest, I’d rather you forget it all, but yes, every now and then. Adventurers are generally quite happy to go along with it, so it’s fine, but it’s pretty hard dealing with the aftermath when he does it to merchants. So, it’s 2 J silver coins for a night, with dinner and breakfast included. Whenever you want a bath, just tell us, the fee is 4 J bronze coins each time. We can serve you breakfast anytime before the 9th bell. If all this is fine with you, the please sign here in the register.”
“Alright.”

 

Shin didn’t know if 2 J silver coins was expensive or cheap, but he could easily pay it, considering how much he had on hand, so he agreed.
(T/N: If you forgot, he got 26 J gold coins and 27 silver coins from Tiera. 1 gold = 100 silver)

 

“I don’t actually know when I’m staying until, how will that work out?”
“In that case, you can either pay day by day, or you can pay for a certain number of days in advance and then extend it as needed. For confirmation’s sake, you’re an adventurer, right?”
“Yes, I just registered today. It was Selica-san who referred this place to me.”
“A referral from Selica-san?! You should have said that in advance! In that case, it’s 1 J silver and 90 J bronze per day. I normally recommend adventurers to pay for a few days in advance. It often happens that they can’t come back to the inn for a few days when they’re off on a request. If you’re not staying in the room and you haven’t paid for it in advance, then we will deal with the stuff inside any way we see fit and rent the room out to someone else, so please be careful.”

 

For adventurers, requests that take up several days are not unusual, which would leave their room unoccupied for a while. If they can’t come back every day, then they can’t pay day by day.

 

“I’ll pay in advance, then. For now, this much.”

 

So saying, Shin took out a single J gold coin from his chest pocket (or so he pretended to, while actually taking it out from his inventory) and handed it over.

 

“50 days it is. What do you want to do about the change?”
“I do plan on using the bath, so please put all the change towards that.”
“Understood. When it runs out, we’ll tell you. Now that it’s all settled, please write your name here on the register. If you need a scribe to write it for you, that will be 2 J silver coins.”
“No need, I’m good. ...... Is this fine?”
“...... Yes, that’s fine. Shin-san it is. Here you go, your room is 201 on the second floor. Do you know about us having safes for you to put your valuables in?”
“Safes? No I don’t, this is my first time hearing about it.”

 

After signing the inn register, Shin was handed the key to his room.
However, he had never heard of inns in the game having safes, so he tilted his head quizzically.

 

“No matter, it won’t hurt to know about them. Having safes is proof of being an inn with a certain amount of prestige and quality. A safe is, in short, a vault that you can safely leave your valuables in. It can only be opened by the person who put the things inside and the manager. It is utterly impervious to all attacks, be they physical, magical, or skill. Well, the safe is a magical item itself, but basically, even if the entire inn was leveled, the contents of the safe would still be completely fine. What do you think? It’s pretty awesome, ain’t it? There aren’t that many inns around here who have them.”

 

While listening to the explanation with the self-promotion subtly slipped in, Shin acknowledged that it sounded very sturdy. At the very least, he understood that having it made this inn a lot better than its neighbors. “If it wasn’t for the ‘poster old guy,’ then this inn would have been perfect,” thought Shin while barely holding back a wry smile.

 

After receiving the key, Shin immediately went up to the second floor. He didn’t do it because he had luggage to put down, as he didn’t really have much in the way of luggage, but rather to just check out the room.

 

Room 201 was the first one from the end of the hallway on the second floor.
Inside the 10 tatami size room were a table, a chair, a bed, and a closet. Considering that it was a room for a single person, the size was more than sufficient. Deeper inside the room was the aforementioned safe, where he could supposedly store his valuables. Shin was pretty sure that that was the safe, since there wasn’t anything else in the room that looked like one.

 

(T/N: In Japan, the size of a room, and that of a house is typically measured by the number of tatami mats or jou. The dimensions of a mat is usually around 90 cm by 180 cm by 5 cm.)

 

Aside from the furnishings, the room also had a person toilet. It was even a flush toilet.
Shin was very surprised, to put it mildly.

 

Of course, a room at an inn having a toilet isn’t really anything particularly surprising. However, Shin’s situation was slightly special.

 

In the first place, the very concept of a toilet did not exist in THE NEW GATE.

 

No matter how much the game aimed to mimic reality, most likely the idea of including the bodily function of excretion did not even cross the developers’ minds. What a downer it would be if nature suddenly called when the player was just enjoying traveling through the world or was in the middle of a monster attack!

 

It was no different in the death game. Therefore, it had been more than a year since Shin had last seen a toilet. And it wasn’t just any toilet, it was a flush toilet.
It could be said that an inn with the quality of The Badger’s Pavilion having a personal toilet in each room was a given, but as Shin had been living without toilets, the sight invoked a weird feeling of surprise mixed with nostalgia.

 

“To think that I would feel nostalgia from seeing a toilet ......”

 

It was altogether a very strange mood that Shin found himself in.

 

 

 

♦♦♦♦

 

 

 

After checking everything in his room, Shin made sure to lock his door and then went downstairs.
His current goals were to procure both food and gather information. Well, the first one was kind of optional, as he had just eaten at the guild. However, the rent on his room included the meal, so Shin was actually planning on ordering as much as he could. It was a truly lower middle class way of thinking.

 

The first floor was the same as before, filled with groups of adventurers making merry.【Analyze X】told Shin that their average level was around 120.
Shin remembered the knights that he had seen in Tsuki no Hokora. He hadn’t looked too closely, but their levels were in the 100 to 110 range, with the three who left last above that. He started musing about the power relationship between the knights of the country and the adventurers.

 

Shin grabbed an empty seat, ordered his food, then listened around himself while waiting for the food to come. He activated【Listen】, which allowed him to clearly hear all sounds within a set radius, and【Noise Cancel】, which allowed him to selectively dismiss specific sounds and voices. Thanks to those two skills, Shin was able to listen to any specific person or conversation he wanted with enough clarity to hear even whispers.

 

The second skill originally came with a list of the sounds that could be canceled, and it was impossible to cancel sounds not on the list. However, in this world, Shin found that he could cancel whatever sound he wanted just by thinking about it.

 

Most of what he heard were normal conversations without much worth to him. However, he knew better than to easily dismiss information heard from places like this. Back in the game, he often heard unexpected information in places like this. He wasn’t sure if the same thing would work in this parallel world, but because he was also lacking a lot of basic knowledge about this world, he would still learn a lot by listening around.

 

“Have you heard? Apparently Wilhelm was at it again with a group of monsters.”
“I’m absolutely starving~. I need food, I tell you. Food!”
“There’s a rumor that a Skull Face was seen in the North Forest.”
“Lately, there is a lot of Hilk grass around.”
“This beer is de~licious!”
“May I order now~?”
“ ‘Poster old guy’ ...... huh?”
“Tsugumi-chan, come refill my tankard~, wait, Douma, that was a joahhhhh—”

 

Shin mentally sorted through the information that he’d heard while waiting for his food.
For some reason, a guy was flying in the air, but no one paid it any mind. Judging by the lack of a reaction, Shin guessed that it was probably a common occurrence and just looked on.

 

Some of the things that he heard piqued his interest, so he filed them away somewhere in a corner of his memory. The one that he found most worthy of mention was the Skull Face.
Skull Faces were undead monsters with a grading system of Pawn, Jack, Queen, and so on. The grade depends on the level, so failure to confirm the Skull Face’s grade could easily lead to the experience of a crushing defeat.

 

“Thank you for the wait, here is your order.”

 

Shin returned to himself at the voice. As he was more used to using combat related skills, using other ones required more concentration for Shin.
When he turned towards where the voice came from, he saw Douma’s daughter placing down food onto his table.

 

“You looked a bit out of it. Is something the matter?”
“Aah, I was just thinking about something. Umm ......”
“Ah, I haven’t introduced myself yet. I’m Tsugumi Bear. My dad and the rest are currently busy in the kitchen, so if you need anything please call out to me.”
“Alright, thanks. I think you already know by now, but I’m Shin. I’m sort of an adventurer.”
“So you’re not really one?”
“I haven’t actually received my guild card yet.”
“I see. By the way, what were you thinking about just now? Was it something like how to quickly rise in rank?”

 

After bringing the food, Shin expected her to go back to her work. However, Tsugumi instead pulled out a chair at his table and started asked him a question, visibly brimming with curiosity. Shin guessed that it must have been because beginner adventurers were rare.

 

“Nah, I plan on taking my time raising my rank. I came from somewhere extremely far away from civilization, so I’m still quite lacking in general common knowledge. I’m trying to learn as much as I can from my surroundings.”
“So that’s how it is. I myself only know this place, but I’ve heard that people from other countries aren’t really that different from us.”
“Is that so? Well, as they say, it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared.”
“Fuun~, you’re a weird one. Most new adventurers only think about how to level up the quickest or how to raise their rank the quickest. Low ranked adventurers are apparently made fun of quite often.”
“I’m not surprised. I don’t really deny being weird. Well, if I ever get made fun of, I’ll take care of it in a suitable manner.”

 

Shin showed a broad grin full of confidence. He didn’t know much about the image that people have of adventurers, but he had plenty of confidence in his own strength. It was a very adventurer way of thinking.

 

“Heh~, you have confidence in your own strength?”
“Quite. But when things get really bad, I’ll run away. I don’t want to die, after all.”

 

Shin had no intention of starting anything, but he began to suspect that something was going on.

 

“More like, why are you casually sitting down? Don’t you have to serve the other customers too, miss waitress?”
“They’ll call me if they need anything. See, my mom’s come out too.”

 

Following Tsugumi’s line of sight revealed a woman with similar brown hair tied up in a ponytail behind her head taking orders at another table.
There were so many similarities between Tsugumi and the woman that Shin was convinced that she was indeed Tsugumi’s mother. Shin wondered if Tsugumi would be as pretty as her mother when she grows up.

 

“So you’re slacking off ......”
“I’m not slacking off! Call it information gathering, you hear? Information gathering.”
“From a newbie adventurer?”
“You might be someone with a really bright future. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of adventurers, so I think I have a bit of an eye for people.”

 

Tsugumi placed her hand on her heart while looking full of confidence.

 

“Hehh, so, what score do I get?”
“Hmm ...... you are somewhere around 85.”
“...... is that a score that I should be happy about?”

 

As numbers went, it was sort of a high number, but the grading criteria here was not clear.

 

“It means I can expect a little bit from you.”
“That’s pretty strict. What brought my score down?”
“Firstly, you lack ambition. Although it doesn’t seem like you’re overestimating your own strength, people who lack the ambition to get stronger rarely end up accomplishing great things. But that’s just from what I’ve seen, of course.”

 

“Ambition, you say. Well, maybe it’ll come to me gradually.”

 

In the first place, Shin didn’t register with the guild to gain fame as an adventurer, and planned to merely put in a mediocre amount of effort. It seems like Tsugumi had caught onto that.

 

“You really do plan on taking your time, huh. Well, that might be just who you are. I think it’s about time I get back to work, I might get scolded if I stay any longer. Work moderately hard at your adventuring~!”

 

She left with a wink and resumed taking orders at other tables. There were more customers than before, and now every one of the tables were filled with people.
He felt bad about taking up an entire table by himself, so he planned to eat quickly and then retreat back to his room. The more people there were, the higher the chance of trouble. He also recalled Tsugumi’s advice about newbie adventurers being looked down upon.

 

Then again, that wasn’t the main reason why he wanted to get back to his room. If he really had to say, it was more because he wanted to put his stuff in order. After arriving in this world, most of his time had been spent on learning and confirming, so he wanted to take some time to perform a thorough inventory of everything he had.

 

After inventorying his things, he took a bath, then got into something easier to sleep in.
Ever since the game, it was his habit to set up a barrier around his room before going to bed. He had detection type skills, so it was unlikely that he would get attacked in his sleep, but it never hurt to be careful.
The bed was fluffy and cozy. While thanking Selica in his mind, drowsiness overtook him.

 

In the midst of slumber, he dimly remembered something that had slipped his mind.

 

“I forgot to ...... leave a ...... message ............”

 

After all the commotion from the curse, he had totally forgotten to leave a message for Schnee.

 

When he woke up, the first thing he saw was an unfamiliar ceiling.
He was about to ask aloud where he was, but then he remembered everything that had happened yesterday.

 

Ending the final battle, being sent to a parallel world, dispelling Tiera’s curse, and everything that happened at the guild.

 

It wasn’t that he wished it was all a dream, but there was indeed a part of him that had hoped that he would find himself in a bed in a hospital after having successfully logged out.

 

“There’s no way things would be so convenient, I suppose.”

 

So muttering, he surveyed his surroundings.
The room was still dim, with the sunrise apparently still a while ahead.
He felt the presence of people moving around on the first floor. It seems that people in this world get up quite early.

 

“No irregularities from both the barrier and the detection skills. The me from before wouldn’t have even imagined being on guard and checking my surroundings right after waking up.”

 

Shin got out of bed while smiling wryly at the thought of how long it had been since he had last been able to let his guard down while sleeping.
When he opened the window, the outside air rushed in. Feeling the slight chill, he looked downwards and saw people coming and going. The crowd was still sparse, but he could feel the city gradually coming to life.

 

The rooms of The Badger’s Pavilion were a bit higher than the nearby buildings, so he had a good view of the townscape of the western district. For a while, he remained captivated at the sight of a city that was moving not according to a computer program.

 

Perhaps due to sleeping early, there was no trace of sleepiness in him, and his head felt very clear. He felt no need to go back to sleep, so instead he just gazed at the sun coming up over the walls surrounding the town.

 

The dim streets slowly became doused in the warm sunlight.

 

After a while, everything had become light, and the number of people going to and fro had increased considerably.

 

Shin took out a jacket and pair of pants from his inventory, changed into them, then went downstairs after locking his door.

On the first floor, he found people coming down for food just like himself, people who were still eating, and people who were already leaving the inn.
Most of the people that he saw were adventurers. Apparently, it wasn’t unusual at all to be starting the day by sunrise.

 

“Good morning. Did you sleep well last night?”

 

The person who had greeted him was Tsugumi. She appeared with food on a tray with impeccable timing.

 

“Good morning. Thanks to you, I’m now wide awake.”
“Glad to hear it. You want breakfast, right? I’ll bring it over right now, please take a seat first.”
“Aah, please and thank you.”

 

Last night, he had chosen a seat where he could see all of the other tables, but he didn’t feel as gung-ho about gathering information this morning, so he grabbed a seat at the counter.

 

The breakfast that came out was made up of black bread and stew. The black bread wasn’t completely hard, but was more like a baguette in firmness. The colorful stew was filled with vegetables and meat and had a lot more volume than it looked.
Looking around, Shin saw that everyone was dipping the black bread into the stew. Apparently no one really ate the black bread by itself.

 

“This is amazing stuff.”

 

It was very likely thoroughly boiled. Each and every ingredient’s was thoroughly soaked into the stew and was soft enough to automatically melt inside the mouth. It was another kind of deliciousness to eat it together with the bread.
It was so much more delicious than his expectations that he ordered two more helpings before finally leaning back with a satisfied sigh. He slightly regretted eating so much.

 

“What a great appetite first thing in the morning!”
“I thought so too yesterday, but this place’s cooking is just way too delicious.”
“You sure know what to say. I’ll give you a little extra service, then. If you’re going to the guild to get your guild card, then you should probably wait a while more before going.”
“Is something going on at this time?”
“It’s especially crowded early in the morning. There would be low rankers cutting in front of you or forcing you to join their party, so you should be careful.”
“That sounds quite dangerous indeed. Don’t the staff at the guild stop them?”
“They do stop anything too overt, but these guys are good at doing it in covert ways.”
“I see, so they’re all used to it.”

 

While thinking that the ones who were doing these things could only be small fries, Shin conceded shifting his schedule back a bit. He would be able to easily handle it if they messed with him, but he didn’t want to be involved in any trouble.

 

“With that said, you might not be able to rely on them when it really matters.”
“I’m of the same opinion.”
“So yea, because of that, it would be better if you waited for a while more before heading over.”

 

So saying, Tsugumi turned around to another table where customers were waiting to order.
Thanking Tsugumi for her considerate advice, Shin passed the time sipping on fruit juice. As he had nothing else to do, he resumed information gathering while checking out the other adventurers’ equipment and weapons.
It was only this morning that he realized how valuable the weapons that he had been using so casually were. Due to remembering that he had forgotten to leave a message before falling asleep, Shin was reminded of the rows of weapons and tools all lined up back in Tsuki no Hokora.

 

All of the things on sale at Tsuki no Hokora were beginner items, with only a few that were of a slightly higher quality. It wasn’t like there was nothing for the slightly more experienced, but their number was so low that a single hand was enough to count them on.
Shin had been quite sad at seeing the overall quality of the goods being sold.

 

With this reason, he turned to survey the nearby equipment. He had seen a bit last night, but due to the higher rate at which adventurers were coming and going this morning, he was getting a more reliable reference.

 

“............”

 

Tilting his glass of fruit juice, his line of sight swept across the other tables.
From what he saw, a lot of the weapons were made of bronze or iron, with only very few people who held anything better. As for equipment, it was mostly made of fur or iron, and he didn’t see anyone wearing enchanted armor.

 

Shin surmised that most likely the quality of equipment had greatly fallen since the game. He grew restless thinking about the deplorable situation.

 

It was precisely with this fear in mind that Shin had purposely chosen to wear low ranked equipment. He was currently wearing『Ground Lizard’s Jacket』and『Trousers of Demon Spider Thread』. Both of them were made of materials easily gathered by someone at level 70. With that said, though, he did strengthen them to the max, so their performance was more than four times better.
It was the same for the katana『Suda [Several Strikes]』that was hanging from his side.『Suda』was the beginning weapon that he had received when he adopted the samurai class. It could indeed be strengthened, but obviously there was a limit, so the majority of players eventually sold theirs or threw it into storage. The thing is, even such a weapon was still better than a lot of the weapons being carried by the adventurers that Shin was seeing.

 

He gained a better understanding of how valuable Balkus’s equips were.

 

After hanging out and gathering information for about 30 more minutes, Shin left The Badger’s Pavilion.

Volume 1 Chapter 3 Part 2

 

 

Shin continued observing the town while waiting towards the guild. When he had come through this route last night, there weren’t a lot of people due to the late hour. Now, though,the road from the western district to the southern district that also goes through the eastern district was the very illustration of the word ‘variety.’

 

All kinds of food stands were lined up at the side of the street, with people looking for breakfast or buying lunch bustling about. There were also stalls selling armor, magic items, other things needed by adventurers, and even tools that Shin couldn’t make heads nor tails of.
It almost seemed a lie that daybreak had been only two hours ago.

 

Staying within the shadows of the stalls, Shin continued making his way towards the guild. There were a lot of other adventurers wearing their weapons, so Shin with his katana on his hip did not draw much attention.
It was Shin’s habit to keep【Search】activated. There was also the matter of the letter of introduction, so Shin decided to not deactivate it after all.

 

After walking about 40 minutes, the signboard of the Adventurer’s Guild finally came into view. Due to his efforts to avoid the crowds, the trip took him longer than it did yesterday.
Shin walked in as a group of adventurers came out. Even though he had waited a bit before coming, he felt like there were still quite a lot of people left.

 

The reception desk was currently being manned by Selica and a female elf. She had small, pointed ears like Tiera, so he was probably not wrong. Drawing closer to the desk, Shin spoke to Selica first.

 

“Good morning. I came to get my guild card.”
“Good morning, Shin-sama. We have that prepared, please wait a moment while we fetch it. By the way, this is Els, whom you were looking for. Els, this is Shin-sama, who I was telling you about earlier.”

 

As Selica called out to her, the elf lady seated at the neighboring reception desk came over towards Shin.

 

“Good morning, Shin-sama. My name is Els Balt. I heard that you’ve been looking for me. May I ask what business do you have with me?”

 

Els was a classic example of elven beauty who looked 24 to 25. She had vivid, green hair that reached all the way to her waist and blue eyes reminiscent of a lake shore. Slightly taller than the average woman, her height appeared to be somewhere in the late 170s. She also had enough style and good looks to put models to shame. Her being an adventurer on top of all that made Shin think that the world was much bigger than he’d thought.

 

It wasn’t right to just keep on staring, so Shin immediately began talking to her.

 

“It’s this. I was told that it was most likely addressed to you.”

So saying, he retrieved the letter of introduction from Tsuki no Hokora and handed it to Els. He had already taken anti-theft measures on it.

 

“Addressed ...... to me?”

 

Tilting her head at the strange description of “most likely addressed to you,” Els opened the letter and began looking over its contents.
The moment she opened the letter, her eyes widened. After reading it, disbelief and shock colored her expression.

 

“It can’t be ...... no, but ......”

 

Selica looked slightly worried at her coworker. Shin was curious what was written. Considering that it was from Tiera, it was likely about the curse, but he thought she had kept the curse a secret. Nothing else came to mind, though.

 

Els was so shocked that she forgot about Shin and Selica and began muttering to herself in a low voice. With a start, she returned to her senses and looked at Shin.

 

“Umm, what is it?”

 

Shin slightly winced under Els’s steady gaze. Under the piercing stare, Shin wondered why he was being glared at and started to feel flustered.

 

“You ...... for Tiera ...... thank you. Please also accept my own gratitude.”

 

She abruptly bowed to him. For some reason, she also started using casual speech.

 

“I’m sorry, I am not quite following the situation ......”

 

Things were happening so suddenly that Shin was lost.

 

“My apologies, I lost my composure. Selica, I will need to leave my seat for a bit, so please take care of the reception desk. I’m sorry about this, but the conversation from now on will need to be in somewhere private. I will lead you to a room in the back, so can we continue this conversation there?”
“Understood. I will have someone else come to take your place at the desk.”
“Okay ......”

 

Perhaps due to using casual speech, Els was giving out instructions with a practiced hand.
Still wondering if something was wrong, Shin slightly dropped his shoulders while acquiescing to Els’s suggestion.

 

Going through the same hallway behind the reception desk as yesterday, he again entered the room that looked like a parlor. After Shin also came in, Els closed the and locked it. She came and sat on a sofa after doing a little something.

 

“Once again, please allow me to express my thanks. I’m truly thankful to you for dispelling Tiera’s curse.”
“Aah, so it really was about that after all.”

 

It seemed that Els had already known about Tiera’s curse. The runes on the letter of introduction were probably about him dispelling it.

“Please raise your head. I don’t really consider what I did to be something this huge.”
“Even so. I also searched for a way to remove the curse, but only came up empty handed. You did it in my place. It is only natural for me to express my thanks.”

 

There was indeed an item that could remove the curse, but as thought it was probably really hard to get. Maybe she had even gone onto adventures related to the curse.

 

“If possible, I don’t really want this to become a big deal. Oh, and also, are you comfortable speaking that way?”
“I understand. By the name of the spirits of the forest, I swear to never leak this information to anyone else. Frankly, this isn’t a topic that I can talk about in public anyways. About the way I speak, this is most comfortable for me. It was written that you are the kind of person who doesn’t really care about things like this, but does it actually bother you?”
“Please speak in whatever way you like. I’ll also do the same. So, what then? I don’t think this is the only reason you had for bringing me to this room. I also noticed you doing something just now.”
“That was magic to prevent eavesdropping. What we are about to talk about must not be heard even by other staff of the guild. With that said, it’s actually something that I really want to ask you.”

 

It was clear that there was something that Els really wanted to ask, but in Shin’s eyes it felt a tiny bit like an abuse of authority.

 

“I’m going to say this ahead of time, but I might not be able to fully answer your questions.”
“I am aware of that. However, I just can’t hold myself back when I think that I may finally learn the method of dispelling the curse after searching more than 50 years without coming across even a single clue.”

 

Although intellectual curiosity was definitely a part of it, but Els’s eyes were also trembling with an expression that included envy and longing.
Fifty years. He didn’t know if she had been at it the entire time, but the time that she had spent for Tiera’s sake was more than twice the length of Shin’s own life. Even though the curse was already lifted, he could understand why she still wanted to know.

 

There could be other people who are still affected by this curse.

 

“The letter of introduction didn’t mention how I did it?”
“It appears to have been written in quite a hurry. It didn’t go into details. So, how was it. I will recompense you to the utmost of my ability, so would you teach it to me?!”

 

Els pressed him while leaning forward. It was not altogether unpleasant to have a beautiful girl lean so close, but she did have a slightly bloodcurdlingly menacing look on her face.
As Shin was still not familiar with this world’s ‘common sense,’ he couldn’t judge whether he should so easily disclose information about【Purification】.
However, Els was someone that Tiera had trusted the information about her curse with, and Tiera had even taken the effort of writing onto the letter to let her know that it was gone. Rather, she was someone who had been searching for this dispelling method for Tiera’s sake. He concluded that it would be fine to tell her.

 

“Fine, very well. I’ll tell you, so just calm down and take a seat.”

 

Els sat back down on the sofa, and Shin readjusted his posture to sit more comfortably.

 

“The way to lift the curse is to use the Holy Arts-Type Skill【Purification】. There are other methods, but to my knowledge this is the most reliable one.”

 

He knew about the item that could also dispel the curse, but since he had never confirmed it himself, he decided to not go into details about it.

 

“【Purification】, you say ...... To think that that skill also had such an effect.”

 

Els had a regretful “if only I had known” expression on her face.
From what Tiera had said, most of the people who could use【Purification】were high-ranking members of the clergy, so there were probably strings that she could have pulled.

 

“The people who have learned【Purification】...... no, in this case I should say ‘inherited.’ How many of them are there?”
“Only clergymen of relatively high status know the requirements for acquiring【Purification】. They also don’t know every single effect of the skill. In the first place, I’ve never even heard of someone outside the Church who could use【Purification】.”
“What ...... did you say?”

 

At Els’s words, Shin thought, “Again?!” and dropped his shoulders. He could easily imagine how bad the situation could get if word got out that he could use a skill valued so highly even within the Church. He was already conspicuous enough for being able to use skills, but being able to use this specific valuable skill would only lead to being forced into becoming a part of things that he would much rather not be involved in.

 

“(This only seems like it’s going to lead to more trouble ......) I’m begging you, please don’t tell anyone else about this, okay?”
“Of course. I’m also a skill holder myself, so the guild won’t press me too hard. If they really try to force me, I’ll just leave the guild. So don’t worry about it.”

 

Els said it like it was nothing. Shin had been worried that it might be hard for her to defy orders from above, being part of an organization, but it appears that his fears were unfounded.

 

“Well, as long as you’re careful about it.”

 

He won’t say “protect this secret with your life” even as a joke. Even if he meant it as a joke, he might be taken seriously. Shin didn’t know how far he hoped that she would go to keep the secret. In the first place, he didn’t want to be involved with troublesome things, but he didn’t consider this secret severe enough for anyone to die for.

 

“You have removed a huge weight off my mind. Even though it was safe, being stuck inside that house for so many years must have been really hard on her.”
“I thought so too. I decided to help lift the curse because of a similar reason. By the way, how do you know about the curse? I can’t imagine Tiera opening up about it on her own.”

 

She was even chased out of her village. Shin imagined that Tiera would be even more disinclined to share it with a fellow elf.

 

“Tiera and I came from the same village. I had become an adventurer and was going around the world, and one time when I came back for a visit we met each other. At that time, she was still a normal elf. She was a young girl with beautiful silver hair.”
“I see, I see.”
“When I returned after hearing about her falling under the curse, she had already been driven out of the village. When I was asking around about what curse it was, I didn’t even think that she was still alive until I met Schnee.”

 

It would probably be hard to imagine someone still surviving while affected by a curse that continued to call such powerful monsters. In fact, if Schnee hadn’t taken her under protection, her survival rate would definitely have been zero.

 

“She got cursed, but then got saved by Schnee ...... I’m not sure whether her luck is good or bad.”
“The only one to decide that would be Tiera herself. Thanks to you, the curse is gone now, so I think it’s fine if she can become happy from now on.”
“That’s true. It’s not our place to make the judgment. So, that’s about it for this topic. Is there anything else that you want to ask?”
“Nope, you’ve already given me answers for all of the questions that I had. Sorry for taking up your time.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s not like I couldn’t understand how you were feeling.”

 

They hadn’t even been talking for 30 minutes, so it wasn’t that big a deal.

 

Leaving the parlor behind and returning to the reception desk, they found Selica and a different receptionist lady talking together. Noticing that Els had returned, the other receptionist left Selica and bowed lightly before returning to the second floor.

 

“Is everything fine now?”
“Yes, we finished our talk.”
“Sorry about that, Selica. You were a great help.”

 

With a simple thanks, Els went back to the neighboring reception desk and began to process the request form of an adventurer who had been waiting.

 

“Well then, Shin-sama, here is your guild card. It is also your ID card, so please take care to not lose it. In the event that you lose it or require a reissue for any other reason, the fee will be 10 J silver coins.”
“Understood.”

 

Shin received the guild card that Selica had prepared. On the card was his name, rank, affiliation, party, and other such personal detail. Shin remembered Silica explaining that this information could only be seen by himself and someone with a specialized tool.

 

“Let’s try picking up a request right away.”

 

He looked over the requests stuck onto the bulletin board. G rank requests were mostly harvesting or routine tasks, and thus were very safe but also yielded very low rewards. With that said, the average reward was still 1 J silver coin, so Shin learned that adventurers indeed had pretty high incomes.

 

“Let’s go with this.”

 

He removed a page from a request book stuck onto the board and returned to the reception desk with it. With his low rank, he wouldn’t get very far if he tried to go around gathering information. He intended to raise his rank a bit as preparation.

 

“I would like to take on this request, please.”
“The harvesting of Hilk grass, very well. As this request is usually always available, there is no time limit on its completion. When you bring back 30 pieces, then you will receive the reward of 1 J silver coin.”
“If I bring back 60 pieces at once, will I get paid 2 J silver coins?”
“Yes, Hilk grass is an ingredient for potions, so there is a constant demand for it. There is also the option of picking them on the way while fulfilling another request. Please confirm that this is the request you wish to adopt.”
“Yes, please. Oh right, I don’t actually know what Hilk grass is, would you happen to have an illustrated reference book?”
“We do indeed. Please wait a short while.”

 

In truth, he had seen it while in the game, but he wanted to double check. Selica went to a bookshelf behind the reception area and fetched a book even thicker than Kojien.
(T/N: Kojien is one of the definitive Japanese dictionaries. Google it.)
 

Transferring the book from her arms to the desk, Selica muttered a soft “nn, sho.”
(T/N: Yokkoisho is a phrase Japanese people say when exerting effort, i.e. bringing a heavy book over. Selica used an abbreviated version of it.)

 

“Fuu~, here is the illustrated reference book on plants. Hilk grass ...... here it is.”

 

Thanking Selica for putting in the effort of even turning the pages to the Hilk grass entry, Shin confirmed the shape of the grass and where it grew. Its appearance was pretty much unchanged, with jagged leaves 10~15 cm long. They grew in clumps, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find 30 of them.

 

“So they’re inside the Eastern Forest and Northern Forest.”

 

According to the reference book, Hilk grass grew most frequently deep within the Eastern Forest and Northern Forest.

 

“People often unintentionally wander deeper and deeper into the forest while searching for Hilk grass, so please be careful. If you go in too deep, you might get attacked by ferocious monsters.”
“I’ll be careful.”

 

When he had been heading towards Tsuki no Hokora, he had cut across the Eastern Forest, but he thought it better to not mention that. The so-called ferocious monsters had already been converted into rent money.

 

“Take care on your way.”

 

He left the guild while being sent off by Selica.
While thinking that he should have bought a map in advance and other similar thoughts related to planning the near future, Shin turned his feet towards the eastern gate.

 

 

 

♦♦♦♦

 

 

 

—— Inside the guild’s break room after Shin left

 

After organizing documents, Els and Selica were drinking tea while talking about Shin.

 

“Selica, it took me a while to finally get around to asking, but do you know who that guy is?”
“Thinking about it, I never did tell you, did I. But truthfully, I don’t know much either.”

 

Shin had showed up at the guild only yesterday, so Selica didn’t know much either. Since Els had already seen the letter of introduction herself, the only thing that Selica could tell her about was the exchange with Balkus.

 

“The fact that he won handily against『Blue Wolf』is about all I can tell you. Even I can tell that he possesses very considerable fighting strength.”

 

As she was speaking to a colleague, Selica dropped the formal speech and spoke casually. She had planned on telling all this to Els in the first place, so there was no problem bringing it up now. Just in case, though, both of them took extra precaution by not naming any names.
Incidentally,『Blue Wolf』was Balkus’s nickname.
There wasn’t much information on ‘that person’ — Shin. The reason why Selica was telling Els all this was because of Els’s official position in the guild.

 

“I see, no wonder I couldn’t see anything.”

 

Els nodded her head with an understanding look on her face.

 

“Really? You couldn’t see anything?”

 

In response to Els’s look of understanding, Selica’s face registered disbelief.
Els was an executive staff member with authority second to the sub-master. She had this position because she was a skill inheritor who could use【Analyze VII】and also held the Gift『Observer』. As a result, she could see the level and name of even people with a higher level than herself, allowing her to know immediately when someone was using a fake name. In actuality, she could see Balkus’s exact level with a glance.
Who on earth was Shin that even Els couldn’t see through him.
They didn’t even know if the name ‘Shin’ was his real name or not.

 

“Well, there probably isn’t much cause for concern. I can’t imagine Tiera handing a letter of introduction to a bad person, and when I personally talked with him there didn’t seem to be anything shifty about him.”
“『Blue Wolf』was of the same opinion. We do think that he is a bit weird, though.”

 

The last comment was muttered by Selica while remembering the inexplicable sense of security that she felt from Shin.

 

“ ‘Weird’ ...... huh. Indeed he is. His real strength and the aura around him doesn’t really seem to match.”
“I know what you mean. I don’t know how to say this, but I feel something like a sense of security from him.”

 

The two of them chattered on with a carefree atmosphere.

 

“I really don’t get it ......”

 

The more they thought about it, the more the image of the person called Shin blurred.

 

They would normally feel unease in such a situation. However, no trace of such feelings could be found in either of their chests.

 

 

After leaving the guild, Shin went straight towards the eastern gate without making any significant detours. He followed the road for a while, but eventually left it to enter the forest. It was standard for beginner adventurers to head towards the Eastern Forest, as it supposedly didn’t have too many ferocious monsters.
Beid had taught him that ‘supposedly’ was the key word here as he passed through the eastern gate. Several beginners had already set off towards the Eastern Forest today. Beid had been guarding the southern gate up till yesterday, but apparently the guards rotated positions at set intervals. For a while, Beid will be posted at the eastern gate.

 

Back in the game, this was an easy quest that could be finished within 30 minutes. Intending to finish quickly and go to the library afterwards, Shin stepped forward.

 

Though it was a place for beginners to go to, it was a dark and gloomy forest with very dense vegetation. Beid had told him that only low level monsters and wild beasts appear here, but Shin’s impression was that someone not used to the place would definitely find it scary.

 

Refusing to blindly accept the information at face value, Shin kept his guard up while searching for Hilk grass.
 

If his memory served him right, they preferred to grow in places easily reachable by sunlight, so he focused on that point in his search.

 

He had heard that there was plenty of Hilk grass all over the place, so at this time Shin was still expecting to finish quickly.

 

 

 

♦♦♦♦

 

 

 

“...... not here.”

 

It’s been almost 3 hours since he entered the forest.

 

“...... Not here either!”

 

His current score ...... 0.

 

“...... Can’t find iiiiiiiiiittttttt~~~!!!”

 

He still couldn’t find a single blade of Hilk grass.

 

The memory of entering the forest with high spirits seemed so long ago. Despite walking around the forest while keeping an eye out for sunlit places, there was absolutely nothing to be seen for his efforts.

 

“This is strange ...... no matter how hard it is, how can I not have seen a single one so far?!”

 

He had gone quite far into the forest, so it was about time that he started seeing them around. He didn’t sense the presence of any adventurers nearby, so it wasn’t that someone else was picking them before him.

 

“I guess I’ll try going a bit deeper, then.”

 

Trusting in the reference book’s claim that it would be easier to find them deeper in the forest, he dove in deeper. Naturally, his surroundings grew dimmer and he began to feel the presence of wild animals here and there.

 

So far, he had encountered no monsters, and was able to focus on his search. He stopped at a depth right before where he thought monsters would show up and started looking around.

 

From where he started, he saw no patches of sunlight anywhere, so he decided to a fine tooth comb of the entire area. He looked through thickets, next to tree roots, and literally everywhere that he could see, but the herb was nowhere to be found.

 

“I’m pretty hungry now ......”

 

The sun had risen high in the sky, indicating that it was already around lunchtime. He had been walking nonstop the whole time, so his stomach had already been crying for food from a while back.

 

“Let’s eat, shall we?”

 

He wouldn’t make much progress searching on an empty stomach, so also as a change of pace he decided to have a lunch break.
There was a conveniently placed stump nearby, so he brought out some food from his inventory and began eating. The menu was hotdog and Coke. Food stored inside the inventory won’t ever go bad. When he was going through his inventory last night, he had discovered that the food in his inventory were still good to eat, so he didn’t have to really buy lunch for today.

 

Originally, the food also gave stat increases or recovered HP, but apparently all such effects had been removed, or he just didn’t feel them.
He also had more expensive foods, but he would probably just eat them as mere food. It’s not like he’s going to have time to eat them in the middle of monster fights.

 

“Mugu, mmm, fuu~. Well then, let’s get back to work.”

 

He finished his lunch quickly. Why he ate so fast was partly because it was just junk food. The other part was because it would be troublesome if wild animals or monsters were drawn over because of the smell

 

He resumed his search for Hilk grass, but still couldn’t find any.
Three more hours passed after his lunch. By this point, it was more refreshing to not find any. He suspected that the Eastern Forest had already been picked clean of Hilk grass.

 

After one more hour, Shin was starting to feel tired, so he decided to go back to the inn first. His physical body wasn’t feeling much fatigue, but his mental self had taken quite a beating from not finding anything after such a long search.

 

When he got back to the town gate, it happened to be the time for guard change. Apparently, the ones on patrol and the ones guarding the gate were exchanging roles.
Shin found Beid among those getting off from patrolling. While checking Shin’s guild card, Beid struck light conversation.

 

“Yo, you look pretty tired. Did something happen?”
“Listen to this. I went to the Eastern Forest to look for Hilk grass, but I haven’t found a single blade after a whole day of searching ......”
“Oi, oi, you can easily find those just by randomly looking around. Even today, I saw several beginners coming back with them.”
“Whaaaaatttt???”

 

The other beginners came back with them. This sentence struck Shin dumbfounded. Beid delivered a finishing blow.

 

“I think every single one of them came back before noon. Don’t tell me, you searched the entire day ......?”
“........................ aaaaa ......”

 

Shin covered his face with his hands and dropped his shoulders, all crestfallen. He had been a rank SS adventurer back during the game. Despite the consolation that this was a different world, his pride was still completely shred to pieces.

 

“Well, what can I say. Cheer up.”
“Ku, your words of encouragement hurt ......”

 

Beid didn’t know anyone else who searched so hard for Hilk grass without finding any, so he didn’t know what to say and just said whatever came to mind.

 

“Well, you know, luck is a pretty big factor too. Just think that today was a really unlucky day, and try again tomorrow.”
“Yea, I guess ...... maybe I’ll try going a bit deeper into the forest tomorrow.”
“Don’t go in too deep. I don’t think you’ll make that kind of mistake, but there have been a ton of beginners who went in too deep and died.”
“I got it. Alright, seeya.”

 

He understood Beid’s worry. There was no time limit on this request, so there was no need to hurry. However, not wanting to back down after having gone so far could be said to be a very common state of mind. “Now that it’s come to this, let’s try the Northern Forest,” thought Shin as he immediately started planning tomorrow out.

Volume 1 Chapter 3 Part 3

 

 

The next day.
Shin rose with the dawn and quickly went into action.
After confirming his preparations and grabbing breakfast at The Badger’s Pavilion, he pushed through the crowds towards the eastern gate. On the way, he made a short detour to a tool store to buy a simple map of the kingdom and the surrounding area. Yesterday, he didn’t think he would go far and had expected to return quickly, so he didn’t buy it. He remedied that today.
It was called a map, but was actually more like just a rough sketch with only a few details. Shin still wanted to explore the kingdom later on in the future, so he bought a map that showed both the kingdom and the Northern Forest.

 

Walking for a while after leaving the tool store, Shin saw a throng gathered at the gate. He drew near, curious about what was happening.
Entering through the gate was a vehicle barely recognizable as a carriage, a coachman, and several adventurers following behind. The coachman was unhurt, but all of the adventurers were heavily injured, with some that had even lost an arm. They were hobbling along while supporting each other. They had clearly escaped from something only by the skin of their teeth.

 

“What happened?”

 

There were all sorts of people of different races in the crowd, but no one was stepping forward to help. Even the guards who were investigating hung back at a distance and merely looked on.

 

(Their levels are 131, 129, 118, and 134.)

 

Shin remembered that the Squad Leader of the Knights’ Order’s Elite Squad was level 188. His power was probably on the level of an A rank, so the adventurers that Shin was currently looking at were probably C or D rank. From afar, he inferred that the damage to their armor and to the carriage was by a blade, but considering that the entire roof of the carriage was gone, it might be too hasty to immediately conclude that it was a bandit attack.

 

After a while, the onlookers gradually dispersed, and people arrived to tend to the adventurers.
Shin walked towards the gate and called out to Beid.

 

“Hey Beid, what happened to the guys just now?”
“Nn? Ah, it’s you. It wasn’t anything big, they just got attacked by a monster and escaped.”

 

Turns out it wasn’t bandits after all.

 

“So that’s what it was. May I ask exactly what they were attacked by?”
“I can tell you if you don’t carelessly spread it around. Well, considering that it’s you, it’ll be fine. Either way, it’s probably going to become common gossip really soon anyways.”
“Was it something really huge?”

 

Shin needed to know how strong the monster was to decide if he needed to be on guard against it, so he waited for Beid’s response.

 

“...... It was a Skull Face. I’m sure even you’ve heard at least the rumors of them?”
“Aah, I think it was the Northern Forest ...... was it?”
“That’s right. There have been very little eyewitness reports, so we were expecting a Pawn class, but apparently it turned out to be a Jack class.”
“Jack class ...... How many people were in that party?”
“They were two full parties, thus a total of twelve people. As you saw, only four survived.”
“I see ......”

 

The level of a Jack class Skull Face was between 150 to 250. Based on the levels of the adventurers that he saw earlier, the parties’ average level was probably around 120. Considering their armor, and that there were twelve of them, for them to lose would mean that the Jack class Skull Face was at least level 200.

 

“Right now, they’re gathering all the higher ranked adventurers. Depending on the situation, maybe even the Adventurer’s Guild’s head or the Knight’s Order’s head would also have to move.”
“Based on the level of the monster, that sounds about right. Nn? What about the princess? I heard that she is pretty strong.”

 

He remembered that the second princess was above level 200 too.

 

“There’s no way she would come ...... Though she is indeed very strong, as a member of the royal family she can’t come out so easily to fight monsters.”
“Well, it’s just that from what I’ve heard, she sounded like someone who really liked to fight. Didn’t she defeat a Horn Dragon before?”
“Aah ...... that was ......”

 

In contrast to yesterday, it was now Beid’s turn to cover his face with his hand and drop his shoulders. It was apparently a taboo subject.

 

“We-well, I’ll just take care to not go anywhere near the Northern Forest. Seeya.”
“I think you already know this, but just be careful!”

 

Drinking in the air, Shin hurried towards the Eastern Forest. Looks like working for the royal family brought with it its own problems.

 

Reaching the Eastern Forest, he cut straight through the places that he had searched yesterday and dove straight into the heart of the forest.【Search】told him that there were several monsters prowling about, but he could easily handle all of them, and thus paid them no mind.
He walked around deep inside the forest in search of Hilk grass. Confirming the information that they were easier to find deep in the forest, he did indeed find several clumps of them, which brought his current score to thirteen. Even so, it was still less than halfway to his goal.

 

Walking around for two more hours failed to yield any more than the first thirteen pieces, so he decided to go to the Northern Forest. There was only a rarely used road separating the Eastern Forest and the Northern Forest, so he set his course westward with the intention of diving straight into the Northern Forest.

 

After walking for a while, he came across the road. It was barely wide enough for two carriages to pass by each other.
Shin realized that the place where the adventurers had been attacked was somewhere nearby. The proof was the roof of the carriage lying at the side of the road. Now that he was looking closer, he could also see what seemed to be bloodstains and broken off pieces of armor. The reason why he didn’t see any corpses was probably because the wild animals and monsters around the place had already taken care of them.

 

“In this world, even a Skull Face is a formidable opponent, huh ......”

 

Shin sighed while staring at the remains of the carriage. Considering all this much commotion over a single Jack class Skull Face, if an even stronger monster appeared then probably all residents of the area would have to abandon their homes, Shin thought.

 

“Oh well, there’s no point in me thinking about this right now.”

 

Chasing these thoughts to the back of his mind, he stepped into the Northern Forest.
The vegetation in the Northern Forest was even denser than the Eastern Forest. As a result, less than half of the sunlight actually filtered through, causing the forest to be pretty dark even during daytime. He would need to watch his step even when walking normally. Thinking about what a pain the place would be to search, Shin sighed heavily and went on.

 

Unlike the Eastern Forest, many monsters lived in the Northern Forest. Although the ingame map was still pretty much unusable, it could still show red and yellow markers within a certain circumference, with himself as the center. Together with enemy detection skills, Shin could clearly know the position of every monster nearby, no matter how hard they tried to hide or conceal their presence.

 

He was not a supporter of senseless killing, but he did need to gain a better grasp on his current state, so when he was attacked he fought back instead of running away. Fighting with【Limit】activated, he tried to gauge how much power to use.
At first, he fought without holding anything back, like when he sparred against Balkus. As a result, the monsters were blown away with a single strike. It had been the same on his way to Tsuki no Hokora, so he wasn’t surprised. However, that outcome wasn’t helpful in helping him gauge his own strength. If he had his previous stat profile, then he would have a rough estimate, but with his stats more than doubled, even he didn’t know exactly how powerful he had become.

 

In the end, he concluded that the most rational thing to do was to keep using the Support-Type Skill【Limit】at the highest level of X.
【Limit】was originally a skill that allowed high level players to play together with low level players, lowering the user’s stats to a half or a third or even lower. Using this, even players with a significant gap in stats could play together. Level X was unlocked for everyone from the start.

 

Currently, Shin had applied【Limit X】only to his STR, which brought it down to 223, a tenth of its original value. He left his other stats untouched. This was roughly the appropriate number for a level 255 human who had never reincarnated. Incidentally,【Limit I】would apply a 1/1 divider to the chosen stat, which meant no change. This skill for adjusting one’s stats could at most bring a stat down to 1/10, and at least leave it unchanged.

 

As for why he applied it to only STR, it was because of his observations on the amount of damage that normal humans could deal to monsters. Even if he used an average-looking weapon, if he defeated monsters too easily then he would really stand out. As it were, if he ever came across a situation where he had to join a party, he now knew to do this so that the other members would not get suspicious.

 

...... It was also a precaution so that he didn’t accidentally alter the area’s geography.

 

There were more monsters than he had expected, and he was fighting just on a whim anyways, so he didn’t pursue any of the monsters and mainly focused on looking for Hilk grass. He sincerely wished that he had a skill to search for items.

 

When he went further into the forest, he did indeed find Hilk grass.
Currently, he was in possession of 29 pieces. He only needed one more piece to fulfill the request. “Alright, only one left to go!” thought Shin as he motivated himself once more as he carefully continued walking through the forest. At that moment, he noticed a marker on the map at the edge of his vision moving very strangely.

 

The marker was red. It indicated a hostile entity.

 

Thing was, that marker was not moving around in a large area, but was zigzagging and wriggling around within a 10 mel radius.

 

“What the heck is this?”

 

Seeing a marker moving in a way that he had never seen before, Shin’s curiosity was piqued. Intending to quickly check it out, he went towards it by following his map.

 

After only a few minutes, he had gotten close to the marker, so he hid behind a tree and took a peek.

 

What he saw rendered him both dumbstruck and frozen.

 

Before his eyes was the figure of a Jack class Skull Face. Roughly twice as big as a Pawn class, its body was made only of bones and was roughly 3 mels in height. It was equipped with armor, gauntlets, greaves, and a helmet. In its left hand was a round shield about 1 mel in diameter, and in its right hand was a greatsword 2 mels long.
Aside from the greatsword, everything the Jack had on was pure black and looked very well maintained. It was a far cry from the ragged gauntlets and rusty swords sported by Pawns.

 

In place of its eyes were gloomy purple flames, and black smoke that could be called an aura of negativity emanated from its entire body.
It looked like a commander of an undead army that had just been called up from hell. This was what a Jack class Skull Face was like.
Any normal person of this world would have been petrified with fear at the sight.

 

However, the reason why Shin was dumbstruck and frozen was not because of any of that. In the first place, to someone with maxed out stats like Shin, a Jack class Skull Face was nothing more than a trash mob. Then why was he just looking on and not attacking?

 

The reason was,

 

“Why is a Skull Face breakdancing ......”

 

Those words summed up the situation quite succinctly.

 

Just thinking about it made one want to see it. Undead monsters are by all rights monsters that hate the living and exist only to drag them to the side of the dead. Their very appearance was to instill fear in anyone who saw them, and they were to sow death all around themselves with bodies that never tire. That is what undead type monsters are like in THE NEW GATE. And Skull Faces could be said to be the representative of all undead.

 

They were absolutely not ones to be breakdancing in the middle of a forest when they thought no one was looking.

 

“This is surreal ...... This is way too surreal. Did you really want to dance that much? Seriously?!”

 

There was no vegetation at all in the immediate area around the Skull Face. If one was to look down from above, they would see a hole in the middle of the forest. The reason for this was clearly because the Skull Face was breakdancing with all of its equipment on. Its greatsword had toppled all of the trees, its shield had mowed down all of the grass, and the uneven parts of its armor had scooped out the ground.

 

In the first place, the question whether breakdancing could be done while wearing armor was indeed a valid one, but it was actually being done, so there’s nothing else to be said about that.

 

Shin’s outburst was mixed with a faint sense of pity and sympathy.
It felt like he was seeing something that he was not supposed to see, which made him feel an indescribable sense of guilt.

 

However, these thoughts disappeared in a moment as he remembered what a Skull Face really was and heard a very faint sound.

 

The sound of a liquid being splashed against a surface reached Shin’s ears. Curious, Shin looked in the direction of where the sound came from, and saw a large tree with red liquid on its trunk.

 

Shin’s eyes immediately returned to the Skull Face, and he began to examine it more closely. The greatsword that whistled as it swung through the air, the armor covering the skeleton, the shield that was mowing down the grass, and the red liquid on all of it that matched with what was on the tree.
Shifting his line of vision a little revealed the corpse of a monster sliced in half. Apparently, anything and anybody that stumbled here would get cut down, no questions asked.

 

A Skull Face in the Northern Forest. The adventurers who had been attacked. The dried blood and fresh blood still dripping from the greatsword. There was no definite proof. However, Shin was not naive enough to belief that this Skull Face wasn’t the one that attacked the adventurers. As such, he couldn’t just leave it alone.

 

It took a mere moment for Shin to recover from his shock. He tightened his expression and body and sharpened the aura around himself.

 

“It isn’t time to be zoned out.”

 

While muttering to himself, he finished a thorough analysis of his opponent. It would be dangerous to treat this encounter as flippantly as if he was still in the game.
In actuality, the Skull Face had enough strength to chop down a 30 cemel wide tree in a single swing, so there would be nothing to gain in letting his guard down.

 

“I get to draw first blood.”

 

Shin matched the timing of his katana leaving its scabbard and the Skull Face turning its back on him. Keeping his posture low, he closed the gap to the Skull Face in a single step.
In the same movement, he drew his katana. Without using a skill, he slashed at his opponent’s unprotected back.

 

Skull Faces naturally have a certain resistance against slashing attacks, but a surprise attack to its back should deal a fair amount of damage. However, he was betrayed by this expectation.

 

The instant Shin turned his katana towards the Skull Face’s back, almost as if it had already sensed Shin’s presence, the Skull Face slammed the ground with its left hand and used the reaction force from that to turn around at an accelerated speed. In the same movement, it repelled Shin’s sword with the round shield on its left hand and brought the sword in its right hand towards Shin with a mowing attack.

 

“What the heck?!”

 

Shin used the momentum from his own attack to dash past the Skull Face, thus escaping the reach of the greatsword.
Shin couldn’t help being shocked. Even level 250 Skull Faces didn’t use to move like what he just saw. A flowing defense and counterattacking with its sword, plus still maintaining its balance on top of those movements. This was absolutely unheard of back in the game.
Considering a body of flesh and blood, such movements were not impossible. However, this Skull Face was apparently managing it with brute strength that belied its appearance of a mere skeleton and by ignoring how joints normally bend.
Shin could not hide his shock at this Skull Face fighting in such an unimaginable way.

 

“What was up with those movements? That isn’t how Skull Faces move!”

 

The breakdancing was already strange enough, but it wasn’t the only thing about this Skull Face that was off.

 

“Its level is also weird. And that sword, that doesn’t look like a sword that a Skull Face would wield.”

 

While regaining his stance, he looked at the Skull Face.【Analyze X】told him that its level was 359. It wasn’t on the level of a Jack class. Going above even the Queen class, this Skull Face was firmly ranked in the King class.

 

The bigger problem, though, was the sword in its hand. It was a broad, double-handed sword that a human wouldn’t be able to wield with only one hand. There was fancy ornamentation on the handle, the blade shone with a silver light, and a blue line ran through the heart of the edge. It appeared to be made with mithril and demon steel, the former of which was stronger than iron, and the latter of which had high magical affinity. The edge was enveloped with a white light even more brilliant than the glow from the blade body.
White light indicated the attribute of light. Considering also its design and the aura that it was cloaked in, it could definitely be identified as a holy sword.
No matter how you think about it, it was clearly not a weapon for an undead monster to be wielding. The attributes didn’t match up.

 

“It would be appropriate to think of this guy as a unique monster, then.”

 

Shin increased his wariness a notch. It was common for unique monsters to possess extra attributes or special powers. However, he had never heard of one that possessed the attribute that was originally its weakness.

 

As Shin was weighing the situation, the Skull Face, seemingly in acknowledgment of Shin as a worthy opponent, planted both feet firmly on the ground, brought the shield in front of itself, and slightly drew back its sword. From the looks of things, this stance was not a fluke, but the movement of someone who had studied sword fighting. There was a clear contrast to normal Skull Faces, who only know how to repeat the same attack.

 

“So that dancing wasn’t just you messing around, was it!!”

 

As he spoke, he charged the Skull Face again. He aimed for the left side, where the shield was.
Again crossing the distance between them in a step, Shin sheathed his sword to draw it again. He aimed for his opponent’s left ankle.

 

(T/N: Shin is apparently using iaijustsu here, which is a style of sword fighting that relies on the drawing motion of the sword for a faster slashing attack. That’s why he re-sheathed it first.)

 

“Sei!”

 

He ran at full speed past the Skull Face’s left ankle at the moment his sword left its scabbard.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In response to Shin’s attack, the Skull Face reacted by bringing its shield down to protect itself, but the difference in physique between the two of them and the size of the shield caused it to fail in blocking the attack.

 

The sound of metal clashing with metal reverberated as Shin escaped the reach of the greatsword. Realizing that blocking would be impossible, the Skull Face had instead decided to ignore Shin and attack with its own sword instead.
Evaluating the risk from blocking a slashing attack aimed at his back, Shin decided to evade, leaving the sword that was being swung down to smash into where he was standing before. It would have been good enough if the sword shaved off a bit of dirt, but it instead left a 3 mel long gash in the ground beyond the tip of the blade, almost as if the blade had been elongated.

 

“That weapon must be either Rare or Unique grade. I’ve never heard of this.”

 

An increase in range due to a magical enchantment. It was a common enchantment from Shin’s point of view, but it did not belong on a weapon wielded by a low level monster. Also, if there had been such an acrobatic Skull Face before, it would definitely have remained in his memory.

 

Showing zero regard for Shin and his suspicions, the Skull Face began a counterattack with its greatsword. Its left foot had been completely severed, but it was no problem for the Skull Face who felt no pain. As if it never even had a left foot in the first place, it stabbed the ground with its right foot and released a fierce horizontal mowing attack.

 

Shin also ran towards the Skull Face on his own accord while activating the Sword-Type Martial Skill【Shiraha Nagashi [Drawn Sword Diversion]】. Turning his katana towards the handle of the greatsword, he deflected the mowing attack.
Right afterwards, he activated the Sword-Type Martial Skill【Seijin [Blade Crusher]】at the Skull Face’s unprotected torso.
This skill was a common strategy against opponents with resistance to slashing attacks. In this case, it would smash through the Skull Face’s armor and directly deal damage to its body.


—— At least, that was what was supposed to happen.

 

 

“Are you kidding me?!”

 

Shin was understandably shocked.
The very instant before Shin’s attack made contact, the Skull Face retreated with a powerful back step, thus eluding the trajectory of Shin’s sword. The armor did break where the attack had grazed it, but the Skull Face’s body received almost no direct damage.

 

It had moved as if it had known that a powerful attack was coming. Even though Shin was not using his full power, for the Skull Face to be able to keep up with him was beyond unusual.

 

“GeeEEEEaaaaAAAAAAAA————!!!!”

 

Having dodged the blade, the Skull Face released a warped version of a beast’s roar. It was a voice so filled with resentment that it would make anyone who heard it shiver with discomfort.
The scream at point-blank range made even Shin grimace. There weren’t any particular effects from the roar itself, but large sounds were very effective at instilling fear in most living beings in and of themselves.
Shin recovered quickly, then retreated from his position. Shin saw that the Skull Face’s HP bar had only gone down by a tiny bit. Most of his attacks so far had been dodged or mitigated by the Skull Face’s armor, so as of yet there had been no significant damage dealt to it.

 

“Man, why am I encountering such a weird monster so early on?”

 

Half in surprise at the Skull Face’s movements and half in admiration, Shin muttered to himself.
He sent a fleeting glance at his own weapon, and noticed that it was chipped and cracked here and there.

 

Games often have the setting where weapons and armors have durability points, and when the durability points reaches 0 the item becomes unusable. However, in reality, when an item decreases in durability points, it would become physically worn out, such that it would be impossible to keep using it up to the point when its durability points run out.

 

At the moment, Suda’s durability had dropped to under 30%. The reason why it had received so much damage was probably because of the Skull Face’s high level and the powerful weapon that it was wielding.

 

“There’s about only one good attack left in this guy. In that case, let’s try this!”

Shin and the Skull Face. A single person and an area that had been thoroughly devastated by the Skull Face’s actions. Therefore, this place was perfect. Shin adopted a proper stance.

 

He put his left foot one step forward and leaned forward. The katana was held horizontally at his waist and slightly pulled back.

 

Then he whispered,

 

“【Limit Off】.”

 

With just two words, the restriction on his power due to the skill was gone.
Even a complete amateur would have been able to notice the sharp change in Shin’s presence.
He channeled power into the sword until it started making ‘gishiri’ sounds.

 

“GuUUuuuUUuUuUUU————————”

 

Growing wary of Shin with his stance and his altered presence, the Skull Face groaned in a low voice. Bracing behind its shield, it adopted a stance that focused purely on defense.

 

Shin mentally praised the Skull Face’s movement, gathered his own power,

 

“Shi!!”

 

And rushed forward while expelling all the air in his lungs, brandishing his sword.

 

With a step-in so fast that he didn’t even leave an afterimage, he attacked with a single upswing.
As Shin reappeared in front of the Skull Face, the two kinds of sounds of ‘ki’ and ‘giin’ could be heard.

 

Two changes took place.

 

The first was Shin’s katana breaking into pieces, leaving behind only the handle.
The other was the Skull Face’s greatsword flying off and disappearing into the sky.

 

Among the two kinds of sounds still reverberating around the area, the first sound ‘ki’ was the vestiges from the transparent sound ‘kin’ made when Shin’s single attack tore through the Skull Face’s shield, armor, and the core in its chest all at once. The other sound ‘giin’ was from the Skull Face’s greatsword and Shin’s katana clashing against each other.

 

Perhaps due to having a really high durability, the greatsword did not shatter nor break, but simply left the grasp of the Skull Face which had failed to resist the attack, and flew off somewhere.

 

With its core sliced in half, the Skull Face’s HP bar dropped to zero immediately, and was reduced to a pile of bones. Pathetically scattered all over the place, it was as if the intense battle that had just occurred had been a mere dream.

 

“Guess my weapon couldn’t handle that last attack, huh.”

Shin sighed while looking at Suda, of which only the handle remained. He had put quite a significant amount of strength in that last attack, but it was still far from all he had. The attack had left the trees behind the Skull Face in a condition where they might fall over at a whisper. Feeling nothing while looking at that scene, Shin calmly stored the handle back into his inventory.

 

“That sword just now looked like it was still fine, though.”

 

So saying, he looked up towards the direction where the sword had flown. However, all he saw was the expansive blue sky with nary a cloud. There were no traces that a sword had just flown by.
He honestly did not expect it to be blown so far. away He prayed that it didn’t hit anyone.

 

“...... Let’s go home.”

 

He was no longer in the mood to resume looking for Hilk grass.
Within the remains of the Skull Face was a jewel, so he took only that.
He thought that he should at least report this incident to the guild, and accordingly cut through the forest on a path straight towards the gate.

 

All the while, he remained ignorant of the huge uproar in the kingdom caused by the sword.

 

Emerging from the Northern Forest, Shin decided to re-enter through the eastern gate.
When he was almost there, he noticed some sort of commotion at the gate.

 

“I wonder what happened.”

 

Instead of a crowd of onlookers like yesterday, today was a lot of soldiers interviewing everyone who was going through. From what he saw, they were doing it mainly to people entering the town.

 

Usually, he wouldn’t have to wait long if he showed his guild card, but today there was even a line, due to every single adventurer being interviewed. There was nothing he could do, so he just patiently waited in line.
 

Gradually getting closer to the gate, he started hearing snatches of the conversations between the soldiers and adventurers.

 

“Northern Forest ...... Eastern Forest ...... flying, shadow ...... ?”

 

He combined the fragments that he heard with where he was just now. A certain something came to mind, leaving him with a really bad sense of foreboding that he couldn’t shake off.
As the distance towards the gate decreased even further, he started picking out entire conversations. From what he gathered, residents of the town had witnessed a mysterious object flying through the sky. Furthermore, it had landed somewhere inside the royal castle. The direction that it had come from was somewhere between the Northern Forest and Eastern Forest. The soldiers were asking around to see if anyone knew anything more about that.

 

(Something flying through the sky ...... It’s most likely that sword ......)

 

He remembered the greatsword that he himself had sent flying. He had been focused on the battle and thus didn’t know which way it had flown, but the timing was perfect.
With heavy steps, Shin continued approaching the gate.

 

“Yo, Shin.”
“Ah, Beid. What happened?”

 

He responded to Beid like nothing was wrong. He still clung desperately to the hope that what flew in the sky was not necessarily the greatsword. It was a hope that even he himself found hard to believe in.
People normally call that escaping from reality.

 

“We received information that a sword had flown into the royal castle. It seems to have come from somewhere in the northeast. We’re interviewing people to see if anyone knew anything about it. You also went to the Eastern Forest, didn’t you? Did you see anything?”
“...... Nope, didn’t see a thing. Was there any damage?”
“I heard that it stabbed right into a wall, so there were no casualties. Seriously, what kind of idiot was it that threw a sword over the castle wall.”
“All that matters is that no one got hurt.”

 

Hearing that there were no casualties calmed him down. If someone had gotten hurt, he wouldn’t have known what to do.

 

“I really need to confirm the direction next time.”

 

He vowed to himself.

 

“Nn? What did you say?”
“Nope, nothing. May I go now?”
“Yea, and if you remember anything, just bring it to one of the guards on patrol.”
“Roger.”

 

Maintaining his poker face, Shin left the gate with a quick step. Only when he no longer see the gate did he slow down his pace and sigh.

 

“Haah, of all places to land, why did it have to be the royal palace ......”

 

It was still only his third day in this parallel world, but he had a premonition that he had already gotten into trouble with the country. There was an extremely high chance that if it was taken as an attack against the royal family, then the incident would turn into a crime of treason. Frankly speaking, the situation was now unbelievably bad.
There was no evidence that pointed to Shin, but as he also had to report to the guild about the Skull Face, he felt like people might turn a suspicious eye towards him.

 

“Why did it turn out like this ......”

 

Things don’t always go well in life.

 

 

 

♦♦♦♦

 

 

 

Leaving the problem for another time, he headed towards the guild. He had confirmed that a Skull Face had indeed appeared, but he didn’t hear that there was only one of them. Additionally, a Jack class Skull Face normally also brings several Pawn class subordinates along, so even though he had defeated the Jack, there was no guarantee that everything was now safe.

 

When he had left the battle area, he had searched for nearby enemies, but no monsters had registered on his ingame map. The Skull Face that he had fought had been either working alone, or its dancing had wiped out its own subordinates. Based on how it was moving, the latter was more likely. It did not look like it was making any distinction between friend and foe.

 

Adventurers of this world could handle Pawn class, so should be no problem if he just reported that. The unique monster this time was a different story altogether, but from what Beid and the rest were saying, it was an extremely rare case for a Jack class to come out, so Shin was not too worried.

 

However, he wondered if this incident was truly over, with the appearance of only one unique monster. Still largely ignorant about this world, this was what Shin was worrying about.

 

With that said, no matter how hard he thought, the wouldn’t reach an answer in his current state. Thinking that it would be fine to just ask Els or Selica, he opened the guild door. The guild was much more crowded than he had ever experienced. Seeing swords, spears, all sorts of weapons, and all sorts of armor and robes all around, he was strongly reminded once again that this was a place where adventurers gathered.
What bothered him, though, was the amount of killing intent in the air. Anyone who was not emanating killing intent looked ready to flee at a moment’s notice.

 

“What an imposing sight.”

 

The reception desk was relatively uncrowded, considering the number of people inside the guild at the moment, so Shin decided to give his report right away. Conveniently, Selica was manning the reception. The content of his report being what it was, it was a great help that he could pass it on to someone that he already knew.

 

“Good afternoon. There’s something that I want to report.”
“Otsukaresama desu, Shin-sama. What do you wish to report?”
“Just something about a Skull Face. I want to confirm, how much is known about it at the moment?”
“!! ...... The ones who made it back alive had reported that it was a Jack class and that it was holding a stronger weapon than what Skull Faces normally have. We have only confirmed a single body. We have not confirmed any Pawn class subordinates. Currently, a subjugation request has been released, and due to the location’s proximity to the kingdom, it is being given maximum priority. All S and A rankers have already set off, and parties ranked B or below are now making preparations to set up a united front.”

 

Apparently, there had been no instructions left behind in regards to how the attack will be coordinated. But what Shin cared about was rather the information on the Skull Face’s weapon.

 

“You mentioned a powerful weapon?”
“It is generally known to be a greatsword double the size of a longsword.”
“...... A greatsword, huh. Is there any other information on that sword?”
“No, this is all we have at the moment.”

 

So the survivors had passed that on. As expected of adventurers with battle experience, they indeed did not forget their opponent’s armament. However, the greatsword that the Jack class was using should have shone with a magical light with light attribute. Why was this part not being passed on, then?

 

“...... In summary, this was a Jack class in possession of a weapon larger than normal. Anything else?”
“Yes. We estimate its level to be at least 200.”
“............”

 

Fumu, pondered Shin. He was about to ask if the greatsword had a magical glow, but from what Selica was saying, it sounded like this Jack class’s weapon was a simple greatsword. He can imagine how rare a magically enhanced weapon was, so he knew that he might get suspected for the sword that fell into the royal palace if he accidentally talked about it.
The thought that the Skull Face in question was a completely different one did cross Shin’s mind. However, considering how much of a commotion there was over a single one, he did not think it likely that there were two of them, with both similarly wielding a greatsword.

 

“Umm, Shin-sama?”
“Ah, sorry about that. I got a bit lost in thought.”

 

Selica was a bit worried, because Shin was thinking with a serious look on his face. In Selica’s point of view, Shin was one of the very few people that she knew who had power to rival an S ranker. When such a person makes a serious face after hearing the information on the Skull Face, it would be understandable for those who can only be protected to become worried.

 

“Lost ...... in thought?”
“Well, yes, I was trying to remember what items a Skull Face would drop.”

 

He was still thinking of a way to ask about the greatsword with a magical glow without actually mentioning it when in a flash of inspiration he thought to just ask about all possible drops instead.

 

“What it would drop ...... you say? Let’s see, if I remember right, a jewel and the armor and sword that it was wielding, all of which can be sold for a considerable price ......”
“Aah, so that’s what it was. I had totally forgotten, hahaha.”

 

To cover up the lie that he had thought up on the spot, Shin tried to act jovial, but no matter how anyone cuts it, he was acting suspiciously.
For Selica, though, in a conversation about an enemy as powerful as a Jack class Skull Face, the fact that what was on Shin’s mind was its drops surprised her so much that she failed to notice Shin acting strangely. The combined result was an out-of-place scene of a guy laughing unnaturally and a girl giving a befuddled answer all within an atmosphere dripping with killing intent.

 

“By the way, what was it that you wanted to report, Shin-sama?”
“Oops, sorry. I still haven’t told you the most important part. I just killed a Jack class Skull Face in the Northern Forest, so I thought I should report it. Ah, this is the jewel that I retrieved then.”
“I see, a Skull Face ...... Skull ............ Hmm? ...... Umm, a Pawn class ...... was, it?”
“Nope, it was a Jack class. Oh right, it was holding a greatsword.”
“............”

 

About to take out the relevant document like normal, at Shin’s words Selica’s movement became clumsy and stiff. Wondering if she heard Shin wrong, she asked for confirmation on what she thought she was supposed to have heard, but was immediately repudiated. She was now so shocked that she couldn’t say anything.

 

“............”
“............”
“...... Umm, Selica-san?”
“Eh? Ah! So-sorry! It was a bit of a shock.”

 

With a start, she returned to herself and started to apologize in a fluster. As a result, she accidentally used casual speech.

 

“Is it really that surprising?”
“You would need to be at least as strong as an A ranker to subjugate a Jack class Skull Face on your own!! Please don’t say it so off-handedly like you just came back from a stroll or something!”
“Err, I’m sorry?”
“I already know that Shin-sama is quite strong, but ...... it is absolutely unheard of for someone to solo a subjugation request the very day it was given out!”
“I met it by accident, though ......”
“Even in such a case, the normal thing to do would be to return here and report to the guild and make thorough preparations first before going back to fight. I think there are very few who would think of just fighting it on the spot.”
“Is that so. Well, my weapon did become like this.”

 

So saying, he showed the katana which had been reduced to pretty much only the handle. Knowing that he would be talking about the fight, he had prepared it in advance. Even the tiny bit of the blade left attached to the handle had cracks, and in its present state it was even more useless than a bamboo sword.

 

“Wha-?! It’s all in pieces!”
“Yea, when I dealt the final blow.”
“Just how reckless did you get?!”
“Wai-! Selica-san, you’re too close! Way too close!”

 

With her face color changing, Selica leaned over the counter towards Shin, causing him to place his hands on her shoulders to hold her back. Due to the sudden movement, their faces were now less than 20 cemels apart.
Shin had reacted instinctively, but now he was conflicted as to whether he should be praising himself or regretting it.

 

“Eh ...... Aaaahhh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I wasn’t trying to do anything weird, I really wasn’t! I was just too agitated worrying if you had gotten hurt ...... Aaahhhh what am I saying?!”

 

It was funny the way the shaken Selica was acting, so Shin just gazed on without making any comments. It seems that soloing a Jack class was indeed a very shocking feat.

 

“Seeing a normally intellectual cool beauty getting all embarrassed and flustered, huh. This is somehow ...... This is good!”
“It’s fine if you want to come but please calm yourself. You two are standing out quite a bit.”
“Nn? Ohh, Els.”

 

As Shin was nodding to himself and marveling, “Is this what people call ‘gap moe’?”, a voice came from behind him. It seems that before they knew it, the exchange between Shin and Selica had drawn the attention of the people nearby.

 

“Sorry. It’s just that the embarrassed Selica-san was just too cute, so I couldn’t help myself.”
“Cu-cute?!”
“I agree with you on that point, but I would appreciate it if you don’t tease my colleague too much.”
“You agree?!?!”
“Apologies. But please allow me to vindicate myself by saying that I did not do it intentionally.”
“I know. I was watching the whole time.”
“Then please speak up earlier ......”

 

Completely ignoring Selica’s lines, Els and Shin continued their conversation. The way Shin saw it, if Els had been here from the start, then the situation wouldn’t have become like this.

 

“Don’t say that. I, too, was busy with preparations and gathering information.”

 

On second glance, Shin noticed that Els was not wearing the receptionist uniform like what Selica had on, but was instead decked out in a hunter’s clothing, with emphasis on ease of movement. A slightly long, durable-looking jacket completed a carefully selected outfit that also included a pouch, leggings, and knee-high boots. On her back was the staple of all hunters, a bow, and a short sword was fastened to her right thigh. With her waist-long hair tied up with a string, she emanated an aura very different from before. She now had the presence of a hunter with a prey in her sights.

 

“The Skull Face?”
“Un, the one that appeared in the Northern Forest. Some time had already passed since we first heard about it. However, this was the first time that we’ve had actual casualties. It appears that this Jack class is wielding a weapon more powerful than a normal one would.”
“Aah, if it’s that one, then I also saw it. It was indeed swinging around a greatsword.”
“I had suspected so from Selica’s shock. From the looks of things, you’ve already crossed swords with it, right?”
“Rather than crossing swords with it, I killed it already.”

 

Shin conveyed the killing part in a smaller voice. He had done the same when telling Selica. The atmosphere in the guild at the moment was not one in which he could loudly proclaim what he had done, so he kept his voice down just in case.

 

“...... If that’s true, then I can’t fault Selica for being so flustered.”
“That’s right! I’m not weird!”

 

At Shin’s words, even Els froze in the middle of the light-hearted bantering. Selica had just managed to recover herself, and barely managed to squeeze out an appropriate response.

“I’m really sorry to seem doubtful, but do you have any proof? Without any, then it would be hard for us to believe you, no matter how many times you tell us that you’d killed it.”
“I only retrieved the jewel, but in the first place, I don’t know how to prove a monster subjugation ...... which part of the Skull Face was I supposed to have brought back?”

 

As a habit from the game era, Shin only picked up special drops. The fact that he needed to bring back proof of his kill had completely slipped his mind after the battle, and he had remembered only after getting back to the guild.

 

“Did you not retrieve its armor or sword? Being a Jack class, it must have had some pretty nice equipment that you could sell or customize for personal use.”

 

Shin was troubled over how to answer the doubtful Els. In actuality, he had hundreds of Skull Face drops inside his inventory. It wasn’t that they were anything special or that he had any particular use for them, he had just left them in there as a ‘just in case.’ Aside from the greatsword that flew off into the sky, it was a bit late to go back and retrieve the helmet or armor from the Skull Face remains.

 

“Those were pretty crappy, though ......”
“I ...... never thought I’d hear an adventurer say those lines ......”
“Mattaku desu ......”

 

(T/N: Mattaku is an expression of exasperation like ‘good grief’ or ‘really’ or ‘seriously.’ None of them really felt right, though, so you get to learn another Japanese word!)

 

Realizing what Shin had just said, Selica and Els were astounded. Shin just didn’t know. Els was understating a bit, but in this world, just gathering together equipment of the same quality as what a Jack class Skull Face had on required a very considerable amount of money. It was so much that an adventurer would have to be at least A rank before even considering such a purchase. It was only natural for the two of them to give Shin odd looks when he just off-handedly called such equipment “crappy.” The implication behind his words was that he didn’t need them. There was no other adventurer who would say such a thing.

 

“We-well, as evidence we can just inspect the jewel. Jewels still contain the magical power from the monster that it dropped from, so we can confirm whether it came from a Skull Face or not.”
“Oooh, is that so?”

 

Deciding that it was pointless to think too deeply, Els revealed that the jewel could suffice as evidence. It would take a while to analyze it, but time spent to prove the truthfulness of the subjugation would be time well spent.

 

“However, during the examination, we will need to hold onto the jewel. There is also the option of selling it to us right now.”
“Hmm, I think I’ll pass this time. I don’t really feel like selling it yet.”
“Duly noted. In that case, when we are done with the examination, we will directly contact your inn. You are currently staying at The Badger’s Pavilion, is that correct?”
“Yes. Well alright, I’ll leave you guys to it.”

 

Taking over from Els, Selica informed him about the time it would take. She was back in working mode.

 

“Speaking of which, do Skull Faces often show up in the Northern Forest? From the way you guys were speaking just now, it sounded like this problem had been going on for some time already.”
“In the first place, undead type monsters are born when magic is combined with the grudges and regrets of living creatures. Although a lot of ferocious monsters roam the Northern Forest, many precious herbs and raw materials are also there, so an endless stream of people still go in. Many get attacked by monsters and fail to return. Therefore, the fact that undeads are born there is not strange in and of itself. However, it is not an environment that naturally possesses enough magic to give birth to something as powerful as a Jack class, so when one mentions a Skull Face in the Northern Forest, they are normally referring to a Pawn class.”

 

Els had doubts that perhaps Shin had mistaken a Pawn class. However, the fact that no one else had fought with it added to the credibility of his claim. As the existence of the Jack class was still a rumor, no one has even been been to confirm it yet.

 

“By the way, what is the level range of the Jack class?”
“The lowest confirmed was 150, and the highest was 250. Anything above that would be classified as either a Queen class or King class.”

 

So it seems that the monster classification standards had stayed the same.

 

“If that’s so, then this time might have to be labeled as an exception.”
『What do you mean?』

 

Two people responded at the same time to what Shin said. They had quick reflexes, as expected of a guild staff member and an adventurer.

 

“The Jack class that I fought with was over level 250.”
“That ...... is that true?”
“I confirmed it with【Analyze】, so there should be no mistake. I think it was probably a unique monster. Unlike with a normal one, I didn’t see any Pawn class subordinates around.”
“Let me confirm, what was its exact level?”
“It was 359. If I remember correctly, it should be actually be classified as a King class, right?”
『359?!』

 

Even while saying it, Shin was doubting himself.【Analyze】had indeed confirmed that it was a Jack class, and Queen and King class Skull Faces had markedly different physiques and equipment. Aside from the level, weapon, and movements, there was nothing else strange about it being a Jack class.

 

『......』

 

The two of them froze again at Shin’s words. Doubts like “This can’t be true!” and “Was it a misunderstanding?” sped through their minds.

 

“...... Did I do something wrong?”
“Rather than ‘wrong’ ...... no, give me a moment ...... I think I’m also quite dazed right now. Selica, wasn’t there a method to get a rough estimate of the opponent’s strength from examining the jewel? Let’s try doing that.”
“——! I’ll hurry the jewel examination. Els, I’m sorry but I’ll have to leave the rest to you.”

 

Selica came back to her senses at Els’s words. With a brief bow to Shin, she hurried behind the reception area with the jewel in her hands.
As for Shin, he was just leisurely being impressed that they could do something like that.

“Mattaku, you are such a ......”
“What is it?”
“If what you’re saying is true, then it would mean that you are at least as strong as an A rank party. If it’s a lie, then you are an enormous braggart.”
“Oh well, if I was wrong, then we can just say that I was mistaken. I mean, I’m still rank G, remember? No one would believe me anyways if I say that I subjugated a Jack class.”
“True, if they didn’t know your circumstances.”
“Then it’s all fine. I’ve been saying it this whole time, but I don’t really want to be in the spotlight.”

 

It sounded like a bit of a contradiction to what he was doing, but Shin really didn’t want to stand out and didn’t want to get involved with people who would drag him into troublesome things. His aim was, in the end, simply to return to his own world. The main reason why he even joined the guild in the first place was to gain access to more information.

 

“I just reported it because it would be pretty bad if something like that was still lurking around. If possible, I would like to keep the fact that it was me who did it under wraps as much as possible.”
“I personally would like to abide by your wishes, but the more we try to hide it, the more people will try to dig it up. Since someone who performed such a feat would normally want to make himself known, after all.”
“I guess you’re right ......”

 

Shin himself already knew that, but when it was clearly spelled out in his face, it made him feel even more troubled. There was already such a commotion. People would expect the person who was able to defeat it to use the feat to increase his own fame, so it would be extremely unnatural to hide his name instead. If he did try to hide it, then there would definitely be people sniffing around for the reason.
On the other hand, if it becomes known that the person who did it was still a newbie adventurer at G rank, then he would definitely get tons of attention. Either way, things would only get more troublesome.

 

“I’m afraid that I won’t be of much help in this matter.”
“Don’t worry, I have no intention of burdening you with it. For now, I’m just going to grab some food.”

 

Nothing would get resolved even if he wasted time lingering here in worry. As a change of pace, he decided to go eat lunch. As the tavern area inside the guild was already very crowded, and it did not look like any of the seats would get vacated anytime soon, he left the guild to find food outside.

 

 

 

♦♦♦♦

 

 

 

Els said she would stay behind at the guild, so Shin stepped out onto the main street by himself. Before he did, Selica had returned to the reception desk, and both Selica and Els had recommended the same restaurant, so he decided to go there.
After walking for a while, he saw a store with a signboard that had a sword and a fork draw on it. Apparently, the owner of this shop was an ex-adventurer, so he would be able to taste foreign dishes and dishes that used rare ingredients here.

 

“A chef who can fight, huh ...... makes me think of Cook.”

 

Remembering the female member of Rokuten who had been in charge of cooking, a wry smile slipped out. She had been a picky person who had insisted on personally procuring her own ingredients, almost maxing out her stats in the process. 
In the first place, every member of Rokuten had a really unique personality, but the image of that girl handling a dragon while duel wielding two sashimi knives that Shin had made for her was burned vividly into his memory.

 

“Recalling it made me really hungry ......”

 

His empty stomach was going to cry out soon, so he opened the door with a quick step. Due to it being mealtime, the store was absolutely crowded.

 

“Welcome—! We are very sorry, but please wait a brief while!!”

 

A clear voice rang out from inside the bustling store. There was only one waitress, so she was busy rushing back and forth between the tables and the counter. Though Shin was hungry, he would feel bad hurrying her, so he just quietly stood beside the door and looked around. Perhaps because it was close to the guild, or perhaps because the owner was an ex-adventurer, most of the customers were wearing armor and weapons. A lot of them had probably gathered for the Skull Face incident.

 

“Thank you for your patience. This way please ...... Oh hey, it’s Shin-san!”
“Nn? Umm, Selica-san? Wait, no, are you Silica-san?”

 

Shin was surprised at suddenly having his name called, but realized that the Selica with a ponytail was actually Silica instead. For a brief moment, he thought that Selica had gotten changed again.

 

“Bingo. Was it Onee-chan who recommended this shop to you?”
“Yep. She has helped me out a whole lot lately.”
“...... To get introduced here so quickly, you can’t be just a normal guy, then.”
“? Did you say something?”

 

For a second, Silica had a serious face and was muttering something to herself. He was a bit curious and asked about it, but she said it was nothing with a smile so he decided to not press any further. They can’t keep talking by the door while the store was still so packed, after all.
Coincidentally, an entire group of adventurers was leaving, causing an entire table to be opened up, so Shin was led there. He felt bad having an entire table by himself, but the counter where single customers could sit by themselves was still packed. He told Silica to feel free to guide new customers over to share the table with him. She expressed her acknowledgment, then Shin ordered his food.

 

“Excuse me, Shin-san. A new customer has arrived, so would you mind sharing your table?”
“Ah, yes. Understood.”

 

Barely any time had passed after Shin had ordered his food before Silica returned with the request to share his table. The one who came up was, as expected, an adventurer. He was carrying a spear that gave off a poisonous radiance.

 

“......『Venom』, huh.”

 

Seeing the ominous-looking spear, Shin muttered in recognition.
The Demon Spear『Venom』—— As a Legend grade weapon with power that rivaled Mythology grade weapons, it was markedly above anything in the Rare or Unique grades.

 

“Sorry ‘bout this, man. Gonna impose on you a bit.”
“Not at all. In fact, you’re a great help. I was feeling really bad about having a table to myself.”

 

Casually going through the greetings, Shin looked at the man. His height was around the same as Shin’s. He had red pupils, his black hair was roughly tied up together behind his head, and skin was so white that it could almost be called sickly. Shin thought that his facial features could even be called beautiful, but the very sharp glint in his eyes and the violent aura that cloaked him instead gave off the impression of a wild beast. As far as wild beasts go, he seemed like a predator that could coldly finish off his prey.
His level was 188. Most likely, this man was more than able of taking down a normal Jack class Skull Face on his own.

 

“I’m Shin. This is probably some kind of fate. It’ll only be for a short while, but yoroshiku.”
“...... To think that there was still someone who would speak like that to me. I’m Wilhelm Avis. You a newbie adventurer?”
“Aah, today’s my third day.”

 

Briefly giving Shin a look-over, Wilhelm named himself. Tilting his head at Wilhelm’s words, Shin answered his question. The noise in the store didn’t decrease, but he felt like everyone in the store was now focusing on the two of them. However, Shin had only recently become an adventurer, so all of the attention was probably due to Wilhelm. Shin didn’t know why there was so much attention on Wilhelm, but there was no real harm being done, so he decided to ignore it.

 

“Third day? Your equipment is pretty good considering. Were you a mercenary before?”
“No? Well, I came from the countryside, so I thought this was appropriate. Thanks to that, I’m still quite lacking in a lot of common knowledge about this area.”
“No wonder you didn’t freak out at hearing my name. Any proper adventurer would refuse sharing a table with me.”
“You did something worth freaking out over? What exactly did you do?”

 

The amount of pressure was such that any normal person would have broken out in a cold sweat by now, but Shin was still naturally carrying on the conversation. All of the adventurers nearby were screaming『Why is this guy chatting with him all friendly-like!!』inside their heads.
Shin felt not even a sliver of that pressure, though. Rather, he didn’t think that this man looked like someone who would do anything bad, so he got a bit friendly with his questions.

 

“Nothing, really. I’ve only been taking down undead monsters since quite a while back, which meant I had been fighting by myself far away from where other people were. As a result, people are saying that I’ve absorbed the power of the undead.”
“What the heck is that ...... That doesn’t even make sense.”

 

Shin thought that it was probably people being jealous. The story was so far-fetched that he wondered if it was a joke.

 

“That’s what I think, too. Well, the only people who believe that are low ranked idiots. The real reason is because I have this guy here.”

 

So saying, Wilhelm grasped the Demon Spear『Venom』that had been leaning against the wall.

 

“This guy is『Venom』. It’s a Legend grade weapon that has the ability to drain the life force of an opponent and grant it to the user. The ability itself is already quite useful, but all weapons Legend grade or higher also have enough strength to blow away a ton of opponents. The only problem is that even though I’m using it, I still don’t know all of its effects.”
“You don’t know them even though you’re using it?”
“There was even a guy who got cursed before he noticed it. On top of that, the power of my weapon is called Drain. In short, people are just freaked out about it sucking up even allies before they know it.”

 

It appears that there was no longer a weapon explanation field like back in the game, so the full effects of the weapon were not known. As Shin knew all of the effects, he thought those fears ridiculous, but he also understood that it wasn’t so for people in this world. The same moment he understood the attention of the nearby customers, the question of using【Appraisal】came to mind.

 

“Wouldn’t you learn it all if you bring it to an appraiser?”
“You mean the appraisal of what it’s made of? I’ve tried that, but the only thing I got was its name and grade. It also only confirmed the effects that I was already using.”
“What was the skill level of the appraiser?”
“It was VII.”

 

From Wilhelm’s answer, Shin knew that it was impossible. To appraise a Legend grade item required an appraisal level of at least VIII. Mythology grade required IX, and Ancient grade required the max level X. These requirements were needed to see the full details of the items. Back during the game, most merchants and blacksmiths had the skill maxed, so it was a simple matter to just ask them. However, this world was apparently not so convenient.

 

Right when Shin was about to change the topic, their food came. It seems that Wilhelm had already ordered beforehand, as Shin didn’t remember ordering some of the food that had arrived.

 

“For now, let’s just eat.”
“I heartily agree!”

 

Clapping their hands together with an “itadakimasu,” they bit down into their food. Shin’s order was the thigh meat of a monster called Aburidori that had been roasted together with the bone. Even now, it was still sizzling and releasing a savory fragrance that was tickling Shin’s nose.
The moment he bit into it, an explosion of meat juices and impactful spices spread throughout his mouth. The crispy skin and soft meat that was melting in his mouth tasted heavenly to the famished Shin.

 

“Freaking delicious! This is awesome!!”
“...... Let’s calm down a bit while eating.”

 

Wilhelm looked a little disapproving of the Shin who was vigorously chomping down on his food. However, Wilhelm himself was eating at the same pace as Shin, so he was not in a position to be saying anything about someone else.
For a while, they ate their own food without talking, briefly breaking the silence only to ask for seconds. Afterwards, they sat back and sipped on black tea.

 

“It has been a while since I last ate Aburidori. But whichever way you think about it, the name makes it sound like I’m the one being warmed.”
“If we’re not careful, we might get burnt black.”

 

(T/N: The monster’s name can be broken up into two parts: aburi and dori. The dictionary form of aburi is aburu, which means to warm, to grill, etc. Thus the joke about ‘being warmed’ and ‘being burnt.’ As for dori, it is an altered way of saying tori, which is the Japanese word for chicken or birds in general.)

 

The name was a bit silly, but it was a proper monster with levels around 100. As can be gathered from the name, it is a bird type monster. However, it can not fly, and neither is it agile; its main characteristic is its ability to breathe a very powerful fire. Back in the game, it was also quite infamous for its “kill at first sight” policy. 

 

“By the way, are you sure about telling me everything about your weapon so freely? Don’t people normally want to hide that kind of information?”
“As I said earlier, everyone has known about it ever since long ago. Nothing would change even if I talk about it to a newbie.”
“Fair enough.”

 

So it was something that he could have learned with only a little investigating.

 

“Well, I’m off. Seeya, newbie.”
“Seeya~”

 

Shin sent Wilhelm off almost like a friend. He felt like the people nearby were buzzing about it, but at this point in time he had already stopped caring about them.

 

After Wilhelm left, Shin also vacated his seat before long.

 

The first meeting between the high human of Rokuten and the white-faced Demon Spear user who would eventually meet each other on the battlefield was indeed such a light-hearted affair.

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