Chapter - 4:
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After leaving the restaurant, Shin turned his feet towards the library. The reason why he wasn’t heading over to finish the Hilk grass request first was because there was no deadline. As such, there was no need to hurry. Or so he told himself. The real reason was because he was feeling insecure from having had to face so many happenings the past few days without sufficient prior research.

 

“It’s here, huh.”

 

Shin was currently at a place between the industrial district and the residential district. The lively voices of the merchants intermittently reached Shin’s ears. It was a lot quieter here than inside the industrial district.
The building that towered before Shin was a library managed by the kingdom. Its name was the Royal Magic Library.
Although the word ‘magic’ featured so prominently in its name, it also had a large number of books on other genres. According to Tsugumi, another piece of common knowledge here was to first visit this library if there was anything to look up. Though some books inside did require special permission to read, today Shin planned on only reading the generally accessible ones, so there was no problem.

 

There wasn’t anything characteristic inside the library; all he saw was the reception, tables, chairs, and a huge number of bookshelves. Just in case, Shin grabbed the introduction pamphlet, which told him that while it was free to read inside the library, borrowing a book would cost a fee. There was a limited number of days that a book could be borrowed for, and a maximum of three books could be borrowed under a single person’s name at any given time.
The fee for borrowing a book would vary based on the kind of book it is and the number of days that it is borrowed for. Naturally, if a borrowed book is lost, a fine will be incurred. As a general rule, books that require special permission to read may not be borrowed, and may be accessed only by people of at least a certain status, such as higher ranked adventurers and military officers working under the royal family. Some books in the library were actually quite valuable, so there were guards posted as security and anti-theft skills had been installed throughout the library to discourage theft.

 

(Level VIII Wall and Barrier, huh. No wonder they’re so sure of themselves.)

 

Though Shin was curious why the enchantments here were stronger than those used on the castle walls, he acknowledged in admiration that with this much security, the library was indeed very safe.
After learning the basic rules, he had someone teach him the locations of the different kinds of books. Going around the library, he picked up several volumes before settling down into an empty seat.
First up was history. He had decided beforehand to prioritize looking up information on the so-called ‘Dusk of the Majesty,’ the event where all of the players had logged out of the death game at the same time. He spread open a book that gave a chronological account of the major events that had happened after the founding of the Berylricht Kingdom.

 

“So it starts from recent events and goes backwards in time. Let’s see, looks like this year is the 511st year since the founding of the country. I’ve heard that it has also been roughly 500 years since the Dusk of the Majesty, so the two events took place around the same period?”

 

Tilting his head at the coincidental timing, he continued going back through the years. The book told him about kingship successions, funerals, wars, large scale construction projects, and the formation of alliances. The entry at the very end was about the founding of the country.

 

“There isn’t even a shred of information on the Dusk of the Majesty.”

 

The book only had information on the history of the Berylricht Kingdom. It made no mention of anything prior to that.

 

“Well, it’s a chronological account of the kingdom. Maybe another book will talk about it.”

 

He pulled himself together and opened another history book. However, this book also only talked about the history of the kingdom, and did not give any details about the Dusk of the Majesty.
After that, he consulted several other history books, but they were all the same. The only mention that he found said,

 

“ ‘The world was changed on that day’ is all I can find ......”

 

The description did briefly mention that kings had died, countries had disappeared, and that the world had changed, but there was nothing at all about what happened directly afterwards. From the brief mentions that he caught, he inferred that for a while after the Dusk of the Majesty, the world had been thrown into turmoil, but that was all he got. There were also no details on exactly what the Dusk of the Majesty was. The players logging out, which was effectively a mass disappearance, and the chaotic history afterwards might have been hard topics to write about, but it was almost suspicious how few references there were.

 

Starting to despair of finding any proper information, Shin picked a book at random from the mountain that he had brought back.
It turned out to be a book on the different races. It was brief, but succinctly described each race’s characteristics and current state.

 

Human —— The most populous race, and has the most countries. They’ve built ‘kingdoms,’ and the title they give their leaders is ‘King.’

 

Dragnil —— Has especially high strength and vitality and are long-lived. Able to take on human form. They’ve built ‘empires,’ and the title they give their leaders is ‘Dragon King.’

 

Beast —— The second most populous race. They are keen and nimble, and are separated into different tribes, each with its own characteristics. Many tribes have gotten together to form ‘unions,’ and the title of those who lead unions is ‘Beast King.’

 

Lord —— Has a tendency to rely on abilities. Does not possess any prominent strengths, but are generally strong all around. They’ve built ‘imperial empires,’ and the title they give their leaders is ‘Demon King.’

 

Dwarf —— They are very dexterous and good at making equipment and tools. Have been dispersed into different countries and belong to ‘craftsmen unions.’ Has a high tendency to share their technology. The title they give their best craftsman is ‘Cave King.’

 

Pixie —— The race with the longest lifespan. Very proficient with the use of magic. Has made a separate world called the ‘Fairy Village’ and makes a distinction between those who live inside that world and those who live outside. The title they give their leader is ‘Fairy King.’

 

Elf —— Second longest lifespan after pixies. Has strong magical affinity and high danger perception. They live in the forest alongside nature. A lot of their younger ones choose to leave their home village and explore outside. Their villages are called ‘gardens,’ and the title they give their leaders is ‘Forest King.’

 

(T/N: The dragnils’ countries are called 皇国, which is a term most often used to refer to the Japanese empire. The lords’ countries are called 帝国, which zKanji translates as ‘empire, imperial.’ Thus I will call the former ‘empire’ and the latter ‘imperial empire.’ The beasts’ unions are unions between tribes, while what the dwarves have is more like craftsmen guilds. However, the Adventurers’ Guild already features prominently in this series, so I will call the former ‘unions’ and the latter ‘craftsmen unions.’)

 

Most of this matched with what Shin already knew. The fact that the top dwarf craftsman was called ‘Cave King’ gave him a momentary sense of discomfort, but it abated when he remembered the setting that dwarves lived in caves.
There might be elves or pixies who still remembered the Dusk of the Majesty, so he took special care to memorize the information on them.

 

“Alright, next.”

 

Having decided to look up as much as time would allow, he cracked open another book.

 

 

 

♦♦♦♦

 

 

 

While Shin was doing research in the library, Balkus and Els were in a meeting with the other executive staff inside a room in the Adventurers’ Guild.
Of course, the discussion topic was the Skull Face. They were still waiting on the results of the jewel analysis, but because the person who had reported it was a letter of introduction holder, they were taking a “believe him until proven wrong” stance. As such, the only people at the meeting were only those who happened to be free, and there wasn’t much of a sense of urgency. Balkus and Els had also vouched for Shin’s character, so everyone was working off of the assumption that the Skull Face was indeed already dead.
One might say that they are placing their trust too easily in the person called Shin, but never before had a letter holder turned out to be a bad person, so there was a very high credibility behind the honor.

 

“Well then, let’s begin this extraordinary meeting.”

 

In response to his voice, everyone inside the meeting room gave their attention to Balkus.

 

“I think you’ve already heard this before, but the Jack class Skull Face inside the Northern Forest has already been defeated. The one who did it had only retrieved the jewel, and we are currently examining it.”
“Did that person not also retrieve the sword and armor that had belonged to the Jack class?”

 

Almost everyone expressed puzzlement at Balkus’s matter-of-fact announcement. The first person who had spoken up was Aldi, who was currently dispatched to the guild from the kingdom as the person of contact. Another person who had disbelief on his face and was nodding in agreement Aldi was the one currently in charge of the jewel analysis, a wizard named Arad Royl. Only the submaster, Kirie Ein, and Els, who knew the full details of the situation, did not react.

 

“According to the person, the sword and armor were ‘crappy.’ ”
“ ‘Crappy’ ...... you said?”
“He must be a personage with quite some means to be able to say something like that.”

 

Aldi looked very unconvinced. Next to him, Arad was smoothing down his own hair while laughing like “ho ho ho.”
Arad’s hair and mustache may be conspicuously white due to his old age, but his bulging back muscles made him look quite a bit younger. With his cheerful laugh, the overall image that he gave off was that of a good-natured old man..

 

“The majority of those guys who hold these letters of introduction are lacking in common sense to some degree or another. You lose if you let it get to you, young one.”
“Is that how it is?”
“Wait a minute, wait a minute. I’m not saying this just out of professional courtesy, but we’re not that bad!”
“There’s absolutely zero persuasive power when you’re the one saying that, Guildmaster.”

 

Though Arad was of the opinion to not place too much weight on so-called ‘common sense,’ Aldi was still dissatisfied. Balkus had cut into the conversation, but was immediately shot down by Els.

 

“Well, about that jewel. We still don’t know the full details, but we have at least somehow managed to confirm that the level was indeed as claimed.”
“As I thought. With this, I believe we have sufficient proof. What we should now worry about is whether there are anymore similar monsters still roaming around.”

 

Having joked around until even the small amount of tension that had been in the air was dispersed, Arad soberly delivered his report. He had been assigned to examine the jewel because he was by far the most apt person for it from within the guild. With his input, it was now confirmed that a King class Skull Face had indeed appeared.

 

“I have already deployed staff specialized in on-scene investigation to the area. We will get a detailed report by tomorrow.”

 

Kirie added to the conversation in a calm voice. She had black hair held back with a barrette and brown almond eyes that peeked out from behind her glasses. If there wasn’t a sword hanging at her waist, her intelligent face would make one mistake her as Balkus’s secretary.

 

“Kirie-jou is as on top of things as ever. So much so that I wish our guildmaster would learn a thing or two from her.”
“Our submaster is just that good, Roy-jii.”
“I also believe that Balkus-sama should spend more effort on the managerial side.”
“Ughhh.”
“Not a shred of mercy, eh?”

 

Kirie followed up Balkus’s light jest with a sharp comment. It wasn’t that Balkus was particularly bad at office work; it was Kirie who had particularly high standards.

 

“............”
“Fumu, is this going differently than how you’d imagined it?”
“No, I mean, well, I did expect there to be more of a sense of urgency.”

 

Arad spoke out to Aldi, who looked taken back at the previous dialogue between the guild’s executive staff. Having a more serious and reserved personality, Aldi was currently a bit bewildered.

 

“Don’t worry about it, this is how it always goes. Besides, this time was more of a liaison meeting instead of a proper meeting. When things get really serious, we would also gather the supervisor of each of the districts and all available S rank adventurers.”
“So we really do think that there was only a single Skull Face?”
“Indeed. To be frank, we wouldn’t be able to handle it if several such monsters came out. But of course, there is also a proper reason for why we think there is only one.”

 

The very fact that only five people had gathered for this meeting was already a large indicator that they were not in a state of emergency, but Aldi still had doubts that the situation was being taken too lightly. Arad was now voicing Aldi’s thoughts as if he had read Aldi’s mind.

 

“It’s the protective barrier, isn’t it.”
“Correct. Are you aware of exactly what it is?”
“It’s a barrier that wards off monsters. It doesn’t let monsters from the outside to even get close.”
“Exactly. It was set up by the king who founded the kingdom. Consequently, it is extremely improbable for several strong monsters to appear at the same time. The way the barrier works is by preventing large concentrations of magical power from building up. And I believe you already know at least a little bit of how vigilant and alert we still are.”
The technique formulas cast at the birth of Berylricht Kingdom were still fully functional. Therefore, though powerful monsters have indeed appeared every so often, there has yet to be a case of several of them appearing together.
However, both the kingdom and the guild are by no means simply sitting back and relying on the barriers to do everything. At the news of the Skull Face, the Knights’ Order had made the necessary preparations to become ready to sortie at any time, and the guild had immediately issued the subjugation request, such that even now they still had the adventurers on standby. Currently, though, all efforts were being directed towards information gathering.

 

“If there are still any Skull Faces around, they would become much more active at night. Aldi-kun, please relay to the Knights’ Order to further increase their alertness just in case.”
“Duly noted.”

 

At the lull in the conversation between the two of them, Balkus interjected. There wasn’t even a trace left of his flustered self from earlier. Based on the reactions from Arad, Kirie, and Els, Aldi inferred that this was the norm.

 

“This is all I have for now. Does anyone else have any comments or information to share? If not, then this meeting will be adjourned.”

 

The main agenda for this meeting was the information on the Skull Face, so with this conversation drawing to a close, Balkus, Kirie, Arad, and Els thought that the meeting was over. However, Aldi rose a hand, signaling that he had something to say, so Balkus nodded and gave him the floor.

 

“We have received information that the weapon used by the Skull Face this time was different from normal. I would like to hear as much as you can divulge on the person who subjugated the monster and what has been learned so far in regards to the Skull Face’s equipment.”
“Fumu, we have no intention on hiding details about the equipment, but we cannot reveal anything about the subjugator, as that person wishes to remain anonymous. With this in mind, please feel free to ask anything you want. We are also curious why your side is so interested in the subjugator. May we ask the reason behind it?”
“I can tell you, but I will have to change the topic of the conversation a bit. I believe everyone already knows that a sword had flown into the royal castle, yes?”

 

Everyone nodded in confirmation. If it wasn’t for the commotion around the Skull Face, that incident would have been the one on everyone’s lips by now.

 

“Unlike normal Skull Faces, reports say that the one this time had been wielding a greatsword. On the same day that the sword flew into the royal castle, this Skull Face was also subjugated. There are those who believe that the two events are connected.”

 

At those words, a certain person came into the minds of all those on the guild’s side.

 

“May we ask what kind of sword it was?”
“As long as you agree to abide by the condition that you will not disclose this to anyone else.”

 

Everyone present nodded in acceptance of the condition. All of them were well aware of how valuable information could be.

 

“The blade body is 2 mels long, is made of an alloy of demon steel and mithril, and is imbued with an unbreaking enchantment. It is as good as our kingdom’s treasured sword. In some aspects, it could even be said to be better than our treasured sword.”
『?!』

 

At this revelation, none of them could hide their shock. Though Berylricht Kingdom’s treasured sword was not exactly high-end, it was still Legend grade. As there were only very few people alive who could forge a weapon equal to it, a sword that was even more powerful appearing would be a huge deal. And to think that such a weapon had been in the hands of a Skull Face.

 

The reason why Shin did not use【Analyze】on the sword was both because he had been too engrossed during the fight and because he had complete confidence that he could make a perfect replica by himself if he really wanted to. Consequently, he was still under the impression that the sword was at best Rare or Unique grade.

 

“If what the Skull Face had been using was indeed that sword, the subjugator would have to be someone who was able to defeat something with an extremely high level that was wielding a weapon on par with our kingdom’s treasured sword. It would be impossible to tell us to simply overlook him. Besides, the situation has become somewhat troubling ......”
“Troubling?”

 

Aldi was trying his best to answer earnestly and honestly, but it was a fact that no one knew enough about the greatsword to provide sufficient confirmation. For the residents of this world, it was almost common sense that it was impossible for an undead to hold a holy attribute weapon.
The guild executives could see why Aldi’s side was so interested in the subjugator. However, Aldi still seemed undecided about sharing the second half of what he had wanted to say, so Balkus pressed him for it.

 

“Well, I believe that an official notification would soon be sent to Balkus-dono’s side anyways, and it might even be announced to the general public eventually. So I would ask that the following be kept secret only until then.”
“Fumu, understood. Would you like to have the others step out of the room first?”
“I have received permission to share this, so as long as everyone abides by the same condition, then they may stay. As I said, there is a chance that it would become general knowledge anyways.”

 

Balkus and the rest were doubtful when Aldi said that it would be announced, but they all nodded in acquiescence for the time being.

 

“The truth is ......”

 

What Aldi said next threw all of them into a state of great perplexity.

Volume 1 Chapter 4 Part 2

 

"Even in a parallel world, I can still count on yakitori to taste good.”

 

(T/N: Yakitori is chicken pieces grilled on a skewer.)

 

Shin had spent several hours doing research in the library. As was the fate of all public facilities, some time before sunset, when the sun was still visible in the sky, the library announced that it would be closing. According to his ingame menu, it was 4:50pm. Though he didn’t know if his clock was properly synced to the world’s actual time, he saw that even the city hall and postal office were closing at the same time, so there was nothing that he could do. Rather, he was more surprised at how they all closed at pretty much the same time.
When he decided to return to the southern district for the time being to check out the street stalls, his stomach growled. It was still too early for dinner, but he stumbled upon a yakitori stall that was doing really well with the grilling, so he bought some. However, this yakitori was very different from what is normally sold in Japan; it was a 30 cemel long skewer with hearty portions of chicken on it.

 

“Oh dear, I might have bought a little too much.”

 

With a wry smile, he pulled out a fresh skewer from the bag. He had bought four skewers. For a pre-dinner snack, the quantity was definitely a bit too much.
Eating while walking around wouldn’t be very relaxing, so he sat down on the rim of a fountain in the middle of a large square that had become a resting area for the local residents. He continued stuffing his face with meat while watching the people going by.
There were a lot of adventurers around, which Shin guessed was because the news about the Skull Face had been publicized. Similarly, there were also more stalls selling goods aimed at adventurers than he had ever seen before. Well, Shin had only been here a few days, so he only vaguely felt those differences.
Though the news that the Skull Face was defeated had also been publicized, it appears that the adventurers were still on high alert.

 

“............”

 

While munching on his yakitori and gazing at the bustle of the streets, he mentally organized the information that he had learned from the library. At this point, there were three points worthy of special mention.

 

The first point was that there was absolutely no information on the Dusk of the Majesty.
There was also the possibility that all such information had been locked away into those books that require special permission to read. Either way, there was nothing that Shin could do about it this moment in time, so he decided to set it aside for now. He resolved to find the communities where long-lived species like elves and dragnils lived and directly ask the residents there. He was not desperate enough to want to sneak into the library to read those books.

 

The second point was the world that Shin was currently in.
Originally, the world of THE NEW GATE had been composed of four continents, respectively aimed at low-leveled players, mid-leveled players, high-leveled players, and players bored of the normal fields.
Naturally, Shin had cleared and revealed almost every part of the entire world. However, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the map was currently pretty much dead. The reason was extremely simple: the cataclysms that had occurred after the Dusk of the Majesty had completely altered the entire world’s geography. The continents had moved and land had risen from the sea, all such that there was now a total of five continents and lots of small island countries. The book where he read this from did actually have a map, but calling it ‘rough’ would have been an understatement. This could also have been one of the reasons for the lack of documentation on the Dusk of the Majesty.
Incidentally, the continent that Shin was currently on is called the Eltnia Continent.

 

The third point was the metropoles of this time that had once been player bases.
Every continent used to have two or three metropoles where players had been based in. Each metropolis had a different characteristic, such as being famous for its equipment or its commerce, and each metropolis also had a unique race and job demographic. The temples where players resurrected at were located only in those metropoles, and was thus a big reason why people gathered at those cities.
Now, though, those metropoles are called『Holy Lands』and are re-conquest targets. The metropoles themselves had remained relatively untouched by the cataclysms, but they had become demonic cities rampant with high level monsters after the Dusk of the Majesty. Many scouting parties had been dispatched to these『Holy Lands』where even the weakest monster was over level 500, but no one has ever made it back out alive.
For some reason, the high level monsters inside the『Holy Lands』never come out. The magical power overflowing from these『Holy Lands』had also caused the surrounding land and vegetation to mutate, which led to an enormous number of lower level monsters spawning.

 

“Well then, what should I do?”

 

Shin contemplated his plan of action while tapping his chin. Since the geography was now completely different from the game, his memories would not be of much help. The places where long-lived species lived, like the elven gardens or the pixies’ Fairy Village, could very well be in a completely different place than where he remembered. It appears that he would have a tough battle ahead if he was to continue seeking more information.

 

“Fu, mu ............ Nn?”

 

Just as he was thinking of asking Tiera or Els, Shin felt someone’s gaze on himself and looked up. Turning his face towards the direction where he had felt the gaze from, he saw a little girl with nekomimi between 6 to 10 years old staring at him from about 2 mels away.

 

(T/N: Nekomimi is cat ears. Due to it being such a famous characteristic, I will leave it as is.)

 

“............”
“............”
“............ *slurp*”
“Really? ............”

 

An amendment is in order. A little girl with nekomimi between 6 to 10 years old was staring at the skewer that Shin was holding. She somehow looked like she wanted something very much.

 

“............”
“Errrr ......”
“............”
“Umm ......”
“............”
“............ Wanna eat one?”

 

Shin gave in under the little girl’s intense stare. Under the fixed gaze of such an innocent-looking girl (a debatable characteristic in light of her blatant materialistic desire), strangely enough it was Shin who started feeling like he had done something bad.
In the first place, he had been thinking that he had bought too much anyways, so while holding the skewer that he had been eating with his teeth, he took out a new one from inside the bag and held it out to the girl.
Shin had intended to ask “Wanna eat one?”, but because he was biting down on a skewer, it came out slightly distorted.
It wasn’t clear whether it was because she understood what Shin had said, or because she understood the gesture of having meat held out to her, but she trotted over with small steps and snatched the skewer with such force that he almost heard a “whoosh” sound. She then sat next to him and started stuffing her face with the yakitori. At the first bite, her nekomimi stood up so suddenly that Shin started a little.

 

“Mugu mugu.”
“Hamu hamu.”

 

For a while, the meat was eaten in silence. When Shin stole a glance at her, he saw her trying her best biting down on the meat with her little mouth. Somehow, the scene gave him a very heartwarming feeling.
But separately, words like “waif” and “beggar” came into his mind. However, those words were immediately rejected, as her appearance was too well-groomed for that.
Though there were mends on her clothes here and there, she was wearing proper clothing, and she did not look emaciated. Neither did it seem like she was aiming for his wallet. Shin judged that this girl did at least have a home to return to and people to look after her.

 

“Hafu~, gochisousama deshita.”
“Nn, you’re welcome.”

 

(T/N: It’s manners to say gochisousama after a meal. Itadakimasu is for before the meal.)

 

After completely cleaning off the skewer, the little girl lowered her head to Shin.

 

“Onii-chan, good person.”
“Thank you for that.”

 

Shin looked at the little girl with a small laugh. Her nekomimi was an obvious indicator that she belonged to the beast race. More specifically, her yellow hair that appeared dyed with brown at the tips told Shin that she belonged to the tiger sub-race. According to Tsugumi, a third of Berylricht Kingdom’s population were beasts, so it wasn’t that unusual for this girl to be one too.

 

“Me, Millie. Onii-chan is?”
“Oh, name? I am Shin, just Shin.”
“Same as Millie.”
“Same?”
“Millie too, just Millie.”
“Ohh, you’re right, we are the same.”

 

Shin was just using his player name, so he had no last name. Because no one had ever made an issue of it, he had left it as is, but he had given due consideration to whether it was a problem or not. At that time, he had decided to put off the issue, as it was not urgent. Now, though, seeing the delighted Millie chanting “We’re the same, we’re the same” at his side, he lost all interest in the matter.

 

“Well then, since we’ve finished all the meat, I’m going to head off soon. What are you going to do, Millie? If you’re going home, then I can escort you.”
 

“I’m fine. Pick up, already came.”
“Nn? By ‘pick up,’ you don’t mean ......”

 

Millie pointed with her finger. Shin could not hide his surprise at the silhouette that was walking towards them from that direction.
Noticing that Millie was together with Shin, that person also started walking faster towards the two of them.

 

“Ou, we meet again, Shin.”
“Ever since lunch, eh, Wilhelm.”

 

The person who called out first was the black-haired man cloaked in the aura of a wild beast. Millie’s so-called ‘pick up’ was none other than him. It was Wilhelm Avis.

 

“Wil-nii!”

 

Millie rushed over to Wilhelm with her small steps and gave him a big hug. Shin continued to be surprised at this unexpected development.

 

“To think that she was Wilhelm’s kid ......”
“No way that’s true! She’s being taken care of at the orphanage.”
“Orphanage?”
“Oh right, you’ve only arrived at this country recently.”

 

While gently rubbing Millie’s head, Wilhelm gave a brief explanation. He talked about how there was a church in the eastern district that was also serving as an orphanage and offering protection to children that had lost their parents for whatever reason. Millie was one of those children.

 

“This one has always been good at sneaking out of the orphanage. I was sent to look for her.”
“So you slipped away without permission. That’s a bit disappointing to hear.”
“Uu, sor, ry.”

 

Millie apologized properly, so it seems like she did understand that she had done something wrong. Her nekomimi spontaneously drooped down, as expected of a fantasy.

 

“With that said, it’s pretty strange for this one to be so friendly with you.”
“Strange?”
“You might not notice it from looking at her right now, but she’s actually really shy around strangers. She’s never been the type to proactively approach someone that she doesn’t know.”
“Is that so.”

 

She was just lured in by the meat, thought Shin as his line of sight shifted towards her and saw her shaking her head. Almost as if she had read his mind, she seemed to be silently telling him “don’t say it.” Maybe he wasn’t completely off the mark.

 

“Well, we don’t intend to stand here all day. Come on, Millie, we’re going back.”
“Wait, a bit.”

 

So saying, Millie came over to Shin.

 

“What’s wrong?”
“Ear, lend it.”
“Like this?”

 

Shin squatted down and brought his ear to Millie’s mouth. After whispering in Shin’s ear, Millie went back to Wilhelm the same way she had come.

 

“Okay, okay.”

 

Shin saw off Millie as she disappeared into the crowd whilst holding Wilhelm’s hand.
While musing over the meaning of what Millie had told him, he turned his feet towards The Badger’s Pavilion.

 

After returning to The Badger’s Pavilion, Shin rested inside his room until dinnertime.
Sitting on his bed, he continued mulling over the words that Millie had said when she left.

 

“ ‘Please help the Fox-san inside the Northern Forest,’ was it?”

 

(T/N: Little children add -san after everything to show respect. Like how English-speaking children say Mr. Sun, Ms. Clouds, etc.)

 

If this was back in the game, then he would have been able to determine the place in question simply by looking up the area map. Sadly, though, with all the changes to the geography, he now didn’t have sufficient information to make even an educated guess.
As he had been to the Northern Forest himself, it wasn’t like he was completely in the dark. However, he could only tilt his head in puzzlement over the word ‘fox.’ None of the monsters that he had come across had been a fox type. The only ones that he had encountered were bears, snakes, dogs, and the occasional flying type.
Perhaps due to the large number of monsters in the area, there were very few wild animals; he himself had only seen snakes and rats. Some of the wild animals had mutated into monsters under the effect of the magical energy in the land, but there were still some normal ones around. Shin didn’t remember any foxes among them, though.

 

“This is no good, I haven’t the faintest idea.”

 

Shin understood that this was no normal fox, seeing as how Millie had expressly gone to the effort of telling him, but he could make neither heads nor tails of the request. All he knew was that this fox needed to be saved. He would not be surprised if some sort of danger was drawing near it, as the Northern Forest was one of the more dangerous areas in the vicinity of the Berylricht Kingdom.

 

Though it was strange that she would make such an important-sounding request to someone that she had just met, maybe it was because she had inferred that he was also an adventurer from seeing him and Wilhelm together. Chalking it up to one of those times when children think in ways that adults can’t really follow, Shin didn’t give too much thought to the possibility of there being a catch.

 

Of course, Shin wasn’t obliged to do something just because he was asked to. However, not doing anything would leave a bad aftertaste in his mouth. In the end, Shin decided to at least check out the Northern Forest tomorrow. On the way, he will also stop by Tsuki no Hokora and leave a message for Schnee with Tiera.

 

“Now that I’ve finished planning ...... Food it is.”

 

Having already digested the yakitori, Shin went downstairs in search of dinner.

 

 

 

♦♦♦♦

 

 

 

The next day began as the sun rose.
Leaving The Badger’s Pavilion, Shin jostled through the stalls on the main street and passed through the southern gate. Continuing onward, he witnessed an enormous line of people on the other side of the road, waiting to gain entrance to the city. It appears that the people who didn’t make it before the gates closed last night had lined up again early this morning. From what he saw, there was an abnormally large number of merchant caravans. The line was probably being held up because of them.

 

Casting a backwards glance at those people, Shin began to walk along the wall. Tsuki no Hokora was located somewhere between the southern and eastern gates, but was slightly closer to the southern one. After walking for a bit, he found a place where the trees opened up.
As he had thought, the area enclosed by trees as thick as 1 mel where Tsuki no Hokora stood was decidedly out of place here. Before, Tsuki no Hokora had been located in the wilderness on the『Arclid Continent』, one of the original four continents. Based on that, Shin surmised that where he was currently living had once been part of the Arclid Continent.

 

Arclid Continent had been the area beyond the high-leveled area,『Houzant Continent』. There used to be tougher monsters and harder quests than those found on the other three continents. However, there had also been quests for low-leveled and mid-leveled players to accept, so the customers who visited Tsuki no Hokora included players who wanted to take up weirder quests and players who wanted to fight monsters in the middle of nowhere. In some sense, it had been a place where the largest variety in player levels and jobs had gathered together.

 

With that said, Tsuki no Hokora had been located in the wilderness, so most of the customers had been high-leveled players, with only the odd player seeking refuge from being chased by a monster. Incidentally, the monsters that spawned in the area where Tsuki no Hokora had stood leveled around 600 on average, ranging from slightly above 200 to the maximum of 1000. Though it was all in the past, there was even a time when Shin had casually set up shop close to the den of a boss monster.
The aim had been for players to restock their items at Tsuki no Hokora before starting the boss fight.

 

“...... Now that I come to think about it, I wonder what had happened to the monsters that used on live on the Arclid Continent. If some of the continents had been joined, then some of the monsters would have crossed over. Or did all of them get wiped out by the cataclysms?”

 

If the monster spawning setting had remained unchanged, then for starters the Berylricht Kingdom would undoubtedly have been obliterated, as there had been monsters with the mannerisms of army ants. The monsters that would spawn as random encounters for each area had an average level of 600; though they were merely irritating to the high-level players, the mid-level players could only either run away or try to slip past, and the low-level players simply lived with the knowledge that they would get annihilated the moment they met one. The more people there were in a party, the higher the encounter rate. Therefore, there was no way that a place like a country, where so many people were gathered, would not get targeted.

 

With that said though, he wouldn’t learn anything just from standing here. Whether preventive measures had been taken or the monsters had stopped appearing, it was a fact that the kingdom was still standing, so there was probably some explanation for the current situation. If it wasn’t so, then there was no way that the countries or the roads could have been built. He decided to stop thinking about it for now. In truth, there was also the possibility that this land was originally a different continent altogether, and that Tsuki no Hokora had been moved here.

 

He put his questions aside as he reached Tsuki no Hokora. When he had been here a few days ago, he had been so relieved at seeing it still standing that he didn’t notice the wooden tag about 20 cemels high and 10 cemels wide hanging on the door to the entrance of the shop. On the tag were the words『Storeowner Struggling On』. This was the indicator that Tsuki no Hokora was open for business. The other side of the tag says『Storeowner Currently Out』, which meant that the store was closed either because he was not logged in or because he was busy collecting raw materials somewhere else.

 

Feeling admiration that this tag was still being used, Shin opened the door and entered the shop. After taking a step into the store, he heard the light tinkling sound of a bell. This was set to go off when a customer came into the store while no one was behind the counter. It seems like the Knights’ Order wasn’t here this time.

 

“Welcome! Ara, Shin.”
“Yo! I forgot to do it last time, so I came again to leave a message for Schnee.”

 

Realizing that the one who’d come in was Shin, the business smile on Tiera’s face turned into a beaming grin. The part of her hair that had returned to its original silver color glittered as it reflected the sunlight coming in through the window.

 

“Oh right, we’d completely forgotten about that.”

 

At Shin’s words, Tiera went “Ah!” and her expression became that of someone who had suddenly remembered something forgotten. Well, considering what happened last time, neither of them could be blamed for forgetting. For Tiera, especially, it was something so huge that it had completely thrown the idea of leaving a message right out of her head.

 

“So it’s this. Please tell her that I’d like to meet and talk with her if she still remembers this.”

 

So saying, Shin took out something from his inventory and placed it onto the counter.
It was a dark blue ninjatou with a flower that Tiera had never seen before drawn onto the scabbard and handle. The drawing was so detailed and fine that even though this was supposed to be a weapon, it was so beautiful that no one could complain if it was to be categorized as a work of art instead.

 

(T/N: Ninjatou are short, straight-bladed swords with a square guard used by ninjas.)

 

“............”
“...... Tiera?”
“...... Ah!”

 

Shin called out to Tiera, who was just staring intently at the ninjatou. Tiera came to at his voice.

 

“What’s wrong?”
“Um, Shin. This ...... is this possibly an Ancient grade weapon?”

 

Tiera was looking at the ninjatou with disbelief in her face. Her eyes were squinted, as if she was looking at something really bright.

 

“You can tell? This is indeed Ancient grade. This is a personal weapon that belongs to Schnee. Its name is『Sougetsu (Blue Moon)』.
“Master’s?”
“Aah, I might be wrong, but Schnee is currently not using a personal weapon, right?”
“Umm, I don’t actually know what a personal weapon is ......”
“You don’t know?!”

 

Clearly expecting to get his meaning across, Shin was taken back at the fact that ‘personal weapon’ was the part that she didn’t understand.

 

“Personal weapons are weapons that can only be used by certain people. In the case of this『Sougetsu』, that would be Schnee, anyone that Schnee grants permission to, and me, because I forged it. I’m leaving it with you, so I’ve made it so that you can also touch it. Those who have not been granted permission wouldn’t even be able to touch it.”

 

Back during the game, the ability to personalize weapons had been handed out in the form of applicable items given as event rewards. That item could be applied to a weapon that the owner didn’t want stolen, such as someone with a sword that he really likes or a guild that had made a weapon as a symbol of itself.
Though most people knew of this function, the only people who could apply it to a weapon were top class blacksmiths and alchemists, so there were very few people who actually thought of having it done.

 

“A limit on who could use it ...... Come to think of it, I have heard of people excavating weapons from historic ruins that nobody could use. Were those personal weapons?”
“Yes, those were probably someone’s personal weapons. I’m sure there are those who are looking for a way to somehow use those weapons. The personalization item can only be applied to weapons Legend grade or higher, which are all already powerful in and of themselves. Depending on how a personal weapon is used, a level 1 person could easily defeat something like a Tetra Grizzly.”

“...... What is with that ridiculous power.”

 

Tiera could only be astonished at this power completely beyond her expectations. Having only heard the explanation, she was in a state where half of her still remained doubtful. However, it was a fact that a ninjatou packed with an insane amount of magical power was in front of her eyes.
Shin had just casually laid『Sougetsu』onto the counter, but the space immediately around『Sougetsu』was almost distorted because of its existence. Though Tiera had very little combat experience, she felt like she could almost understand the incredible power hidden in the sword just from that sight.

 

“Well, even if all that could be achieved by using this sword, I wouldn’t want to use it.”
“Heeh~, may I ask why not?”
“I might get swallowed up, I think.”

 

Tiera intuitively knew beyond a doubt that although this sword could indeed grant a mighty power, it would eat away at any user who did not already possess enough power to be worthy of it.

 

“ ‘Swallowed up,’ you say? Hmm, that might be because of the materials used to make it.”

 

Hearing Tiera’s words, the first possible explanation that came into Shin’s head was the penalty that would occur when someone tried to use a weapon unbefitting of his or her level. Every weapon has stat requirements, and if someone who did not fulfill those requirements tried to wield it, their stats would be lowered even more. A portion of Legend grade, Mythology grade, and Ancient grade weapons couldn’t even be equipped if the requirements were not met.
However, this didn’t seem to fit the description of almost being swallowed up, so he thought to bring up the weapon’s raw materials instead.

 

“What exactly was used?”
“The main material was an alloy called Chimeradite. Combined with it was a fang from a Black Death Dragon, a scale from a Sea War Beast, and a teardrop from an Element Tail. There were other components too, but those were the main four. If I had to make a guess, I would attribute the feeling to the Black Death Dragon’s fang or the Sea War Beast’s scale. Both are top class monsters after all.”
 

“............”
“Tiera?”

 

Having heard Shin’s explanation, Tiera was now pressing one hand to her forehead and had furrowed her eyebrows like she had just heard something really hard to understand.

 

“............ No, I refuse to be surprised. Even if I just heard someone spout a list of legendary creatures ...... I will be fine. Yes, I am fine.”
“No, you totally don’t look fine!”

 

While Tiera was shaking her head to the sound of her common sense crumbling inside, Shin reflexively retorted.
As usual, Shin’s common sense differed greatly from that of the current world. It was only natural, because as Tiera had said, the monsters that Shin had spoken of were ridiculously powerful monsters that now lived only inside legends. This talk of turning these monsters with enough power to cause cataclysms into raw materials would normally only be laughed off as a joke. However, there was currently a ninjatou emanating a strong aura right in front of her, and the one who had taken it out was Shin, who already had a track record of diverging from what she knew as common sense. The two facts put together convinced her that it was not a joke.

 

“Haah, it feels like every time I talk to you, you grind every speck of my common sense to dust.”
“Eh, I’m in the wrong?”
“Naturally! What’s with you just casually taking out an Ancient grade weapon? There should be a limit to how unbelievable you can be.”
“Even if you say that, there’s nothing I can do about it. Whether Schnee still remembers me or not could hinge on this.”

 

Shin said this while looking at『Sougetsu』. It was Schnee’s personal weapon, and she had entrusted it to him before his fight with Origin (in game lingo, it was ‘retrieved’). Together with Schnee, all of his other support characters had also done the same. The gesture had been something like a little bit of a good luck omen on Shin’s part. The equipment from the other support characters were still in his inventory, awaiting their turn.

 

It was one thing when Shin himself was still here. From what Tiera said, though, it was clear that the current situation wasn’t one where he would be able to meet her just because he sent a message saying that he wanted to meet up. He also had no guarantee that there wasn’t anyone else among Schnee’s current acquaintances who had the same name as himself, so the only method that he could think of to prove his own identity was by including something like this with the message.

 

“Very few people would still refuse to meet after being sent something like this. But Master is one of those few people, so your caution might not be unfounded.”

 

Also returning her gaze towards『Sougetsu』where Shin was already looking, Tiera was finally convinced.
Up to now, she had been asked to pass along many expensive clothes, precious jewels, and various rare articles. However, the figure of her Master showing almost no interest in any of them floated into Tiera’s mind. Though Geyl gold coins were beyond their means, those people had also sent goods worth several tens of Jul white gold coins and Legend grade equipment of substantial value, all to no avail. In short, things that are simply unusual or expensive were not enough to garner her Master’s notice.

 

The message this time said “if you remember this,” so Tiera thought that it would at least elicit a cursory glance. Her Master had ignored even Legend grade items before, so there was no guarantee behind her evaluation that her Master might show interest in『Sougetsu』.

 

“If she does indeed remember, then please use this. You can contact me with this no matter where I am.”

 

So saying, Shin left some writing paper and a message card of simple design onto the counter, placing them next to『Sougetsu』.

 

“If I use these, I can contact you?”
“It’s only one-way, though. You write your message here, and you write the intended recipient’s name on the writing paper. Then all you have to do is verbally say ‘Send’ .”

 

Shin gave his explanation while pointing to the message card and writing paper. It was an item frequently used by players for events like birthdays and Christmas. There were also people who modified them to do elaborate things like releasing sparkly effects when being opened
Inside the game, it was faster to message each other through the normal chat function though, so these message cards were only used for special days. But this world did not have a friend list function, much less the chat function, so these have now become very valuable.

 

“So there was such a convenient item.”
“I used them so rarely that I now have a lot to spare.”

 

It wasn’t just message cards and writing paper; currently in his inventory slept also various other items from quests and events that he never had the chance to use back in the game but would be very useful here in reality.

 

“If this gets spread around, then it would become an enormous deal.”
“I suppose, yea.”

 

From Tiera’s point of view, being able to reach someone else regardless of distance was something equivalent to a technological revolution. However, Shin purposely responded in a way to gloss over the hidden question of “Won’t you spread this around?” behind Tiera’s words.
One does not have to be well-versed in history to know that technological breakthroughs would not necessarily be used in the way that the discoverer or developer had intended. Unfortunately, Shin had no intention nor interest in starting a technological revolution. There is also another way of looking at this ‘discovery’ — as this was a function that had already existed in THE NEW GATE in the first place, eventually someone else will stumble upon it.

 

“...... hey. I just thought of this, but why don’t you just directly contact Master with this instead of leaving a message with me?”

 

Holding the message card in one hand, Tiera voiced the thought that had just come into her mind.

 

“If only I could. You can only send it to people that you have directly met before. Of course, I’ve met Schnee before, but for some reason I can’t send it to her.”

 

Naturally, Shin had also already thought of the idea of directly sending it himself. However, for some reason, he couldn’t send it, and he couldn’t directly contact Schnee. There was also the mystery why even though the chat function was gone, he could still use the message cards.

 

When Tiera asked if the problem lay with the cards, Shin went outside and used one to send her a message. Though she was a bit surprised when the writing paper suddenly appeared in front of her eyes, she understood that at least the problem did not lie with the item itself.

 

(It seems like my friend list was reset.)

 

Shin guessed that that was the real reason. The blurb of the message card says『Let’s convey your feelings to the people that you’ve met on your adventurers!』. Shin surmised that he wasn’t able to send messages to people that he had met back in the game but haven’t met yet in this world.

 

“Hey, hey, if you have a lot of spares, may I have a few more of them?”
“I don’t really mind, but I don’t think you should use them with people that don’t know about them.”
“I’m not going to use them, I’m going to study them. I’m aiming to become a wizard, so when I see unusual magic items like these, I become really interested in understanding how they work.”

 

In truth, after he had sent her a card as a demonstration just now, Tiera’s eyes had begun sparkling like the eyes of a child that had found a new toy.

 

“Well, if it’s like that, then it should be fine. I’ll give you five more, then. The portion for contacting me after Schnee replies is included, so don’t use them all, okay? And I’m giving you this many, so could you perhaps give me a discount on the message referral fee?”
“No problem. I have no intention of using these indiscriminately, so don’t worry. It could become a huge commotion if I actually sent it to the wrong person, after all. Also, I also don’t want to receive all this for free. For now, let’s just say that this more than covers the message referral fee. As for the rest, you can look forward to it.”

 

Though he did have a lot of spares, he didn’t have an infinite number of them, so he had hoped that they would at least cover the message referral fee and asked for a discount as a shot in the dark. The result was the message referral fee being completely covered plus some more perks promised for the future. Confirming that these cards were indeed quite valuable, Shin made a mental note to not use them where other people could see.

 

As for Tiera, her mind was already churning out imaginations about the kinds of tests that she would perform on the cards. Shin thought that it might be better for her to aim to be an alchemist instead if she liked research so much, but it wasn’t like there was a rule that wizards shouldn’t do research, so he didn’t say it out loud. In actuality, there had been quite a lot of players with wizard as their main job and alchemist as their sub-job.

 

“Alright, I’ll start heading off now. I’ll leave the matter about Schnee to you.”
“You can count on me. When Master returns, I’ll show it to her first thing.”

 

After exchanging light greetings, Shin left Tsuki no Hokora behind.

 

It was a while after Shin had left before Tiera suddenly thought, “If I send a message card, then I can immediately get in touch with Master!”

Volume 1 Chapter 4 Part 3

 

 

Leaving Tsuki no Hokora behind, Shin made a beeline for the Northern Forest. Hoping to avoid the unnecessary complications that would arise were he to stumble upon the team currently out investigating the Skull Face incident, he advanced while carefully confirming that there was no one nearby.

 

With no specific destination in mind, Shin had left the direction up to mere intuition. As he proceeded deeper into the forest, though, he began to perceive a suspicious feeling in the air, so for now he altered his course to go even deeper into the forest. If he went back to where the Skull Face had been, it would become impossible to avoid encountering the investigators, so he headed for the opposite direction instead. The course led him towards an area that he had not searched the last time he was here.

 

The place where the Skull Face had been was the southeastern part of the Northern Forest. Bearing westward gradually brought Shin towards the central part of the forest. The further he went, the thicker the vegetation and the dimmer the light. The Eastern Forest was no comparison at all; the darkness became so thick and it almost felt like nighttime. The trees themselves were also taller than those in the Eastern Forest, and seemed to emanate a dark and thick air that forbid anyone from going any deeper.

 

In truth, Shin was aware of how the deeper he went into the forest, the stronger the thought that he must not proceed grew in his mind. It wasn’t intuition nor premonition. There was something more specific here that was actively trying to influence his will.

 

(Is this it?)

 

He was not certain, but Shin felt that this feeling that was getting stronger the further he progressed was not directly harmful to himself. Rather, it felt more like a barrier that was protecting something.
Shin continued to press on like the barrier was nothing. His advance belied the strength of the barrier, though; it was actually so potent that any normal person of this world would have unconsciously evaded the area without even being aware that they were being affected. In some sense, it was a powerful form of illusion magic, and someone other than Shin would not have been able to say with confidence that this barrier was not something harmful. However, for Shin, who had put in especially more effort into developing resistance against mental interference, the barrier might as well have not existed. Rather, all it did right now was to tell him that『there is something ahead!』.

 

Carefully keeping an eye on his surroundings, Shin continued further into the dark forest in the direction where the feeling grew stronger. Perhaps due to the barrier, there were no monsters anywhere around.
Suddenly, when he passed by a conspicuously large tree, a soft light gently fell onto Shin and cleared away the darkness in front of him.
The view beyond the barrier revealed an open area with the ground exposed to the sky. In the space stood a vivid scarlet torii and a nostalgic-looking Shinto shrine.

 

(T/N: Torii is a structure like an archway. It marks the entrance to Shinto shrines.)

 

“So this is what was in the middle of the barrier?”

 

The moment he stepped into the area that abruptly opened up in the center of the forest, the feeling of mental interference stopped, so he deduced that he had completely passed through the barrier. There being a shrine at the end had been beyond his expectations, though.

 

“Nn~? ...... This shrine, I feel like I’ve seen it before ......”

 

The appearance of the shrine seemed to be tugging at something in his memory, so Shin wracked his brain. Back during the game, Japanese style architecture was not exactly rare, but there weren’t a lot of people with the flair for building Shinto shrines. It felt like he was almost able to pull out the memory, but he was still a step short no matter what he did.

 

“Let’s try going in for now.”

 

Aware of how stupid he looked standing there nodding to his own suggestion, he passed under the torii without any further ado.
The sandou that started from the torii ran straight towards the main shrine building. The shrine was composed solely of the torii and main building; there was no sign of the other accompanying facilities normally associated with shrines, such as komainu, chouzuya, and offertory box. There was only the torii and the sandou that ended at the main building.

 

(T/N: Quick Shinto shrine vocab lesson. Sandou is the path that leads from the torii to the main shrine building (Note: Never walk in the middle of thesandou! That part is reserved for the gods.) Torii is the gate, as said earlier.Komainu are the stone guardian dogs usually placed in front of different gates and buildings in a shrine for protection. Chouzuya is a place with running water where visitors are to wash their hands before approaching. Some people believe in beneficial effects from drinking the water at thechouzuya too. Saisenbako is the offertory box where visitors chuck money into before praying.)

 

“Did the air change?”

 

However, as if insisting that it was a holy place even if there was only the main shrine building, the moment Shin stepped through the torii the air around him changed abruptly.
The wind that caressed Shin’s face was so refreshing that it almost made him forget that he was inside a forest. Having just passed through a forest filled with the smells of all sorts of creatures mixed together, Shin felt this change in the air all the more.
There was no doubt that there was something special about this place.

 

The grounds inside the shrine did not look in disrepair. Rather, the whole place looked quite diligently maintained.
Following the sandou, Shin approached the main shrine building. The floor of the building was raised high and there was no ornamentation at all on the entire building. For someone used to seeing normal shrines, this one might have seemed a bit strange.

 

The moment before Shin reached the main building, he heard a ‘pishiri’ sound.

“What was that?”

 

It was a sound similar to that of cracks appearing in glass. Thinking about it, it might have been the sound of cracks appearing in the barrier.
It did not forebode well.

 

Shin looked around while wondering “Was it my fault?”, but nothing seemed to have changed. The air was still brisk and clear, and the holy atmosphere of the shrine had not diminished at all. In the first place, Shin hadn’t done anything.
If he really had to point out something out of place, it would be that the door to the shrine standing slightly ajar. But Shin had noticed that only after the sound, so the door had either been open in the first place, or it had opened together with the sound.

 

“It’s open ......”

 

The way the door stood slightly open seemed to be inviting him to open it all the way. There wasn’t enough of a gap to peek inside, but there was enough that he couldn’t ignore it. Now that he was aware of it, it would continue to bother him.

 

“...... Let’s open it, I guess.”

 

Wrestling with the feeling that he was being disrespectful, Shin reached out and opened the door to the shrine, allowing sunshine to illuminate the dark interior.

 

The first thing that caught his attention was the drawings on the floor. Sanskrit-like letters were written in a pattern within several concentric circles, such that the whole thing looked like a magic circle.

 

And in the center of the circles. There was a figure lying down in the center of those circles of varying sizes.

 

“...... A fox?”

 

The light spilling into the room revealed a fox cub with silver fur lying limply on the floor.

 

“There’s no time to waste just staring at it.”

 

After quickly confirming that there were no traps, Shin rushed over to the cub. He did not see any external wounds, but its HP bar was already more than halfway through the red zone. On top of that, it was also afflicted with both【Poison X】and【Curse X】. If left alone, its strength giving out would only be a matter of time.

 

“I’m not sure if it’s this guy or not, but that doesn't matter now.”

 

Just because it was here, Shin understood that this was no ordinary fox. He wasn’t sure if this was the fox that Millie had asked him to save, but he decided to just deal with it later if this was the wrong one. Opening his inventory, Shin swept his eyes over the rows of items, found the Elixir stack, and pulled one out in physical form. The golden liquid was capable of recovering HP, MP, repairing injuries, and could dispel almost every kind of debuff. He flipped the lid off with his thumb and brought the bottle to the cub’s mouth. When he did so, a loud sound like a large amount of glass being shattered, “gashan!”, reached Shin’s ears.

 

“What is it this time?!”

 

Shin immediately activated【Sense Presence】to probe the surrounding area. Whereas【Search】could only detect monsters,【Sense Presence】could tell him the position and numbers of both players and monsters. Though【Sense Presence】had the drawback of having a smaller range, it could see through walls and obstacles, and thus was more effective for this situation.

 

A cursory glance told him that there were easily more than 50 monsters currently heading towards the main shrine building. It seemed that the sound just now was of the barrier being broken. His ingame map showed a large number of red markers from all directions converging like ants to sugar.

 

(Are they here for this little guy?)

 

Shin considered what to do while looking at the fox cub that was weakly purring “Kuu ......” in his arms. After drinking the Elixir, the debuffs were gone, and its health had recovered into the yellow zone and was steadily heading towards the green. Seeing how it still seemed weak despite recovering its health, Shin guessed that quite a lot of time must have passed between the cub becoming like this and Shin’s arrival.

 

“First of all, activate【Barrier X】!!”

 

Shin still did not understand the significance and role behind this place and this cub, but he decided to set up a top tier barrier before the enemies got any closer. With the main shrine building as the center, the barrier stopped the red markers from advancing any further, causing them to start crowding together right outside.
To be honest, Shin was still not sure what was going on, but abandoning the fox cub here was not an option. If he really put his mind to it, he could abandon it, but he was not so cold-hearted. Shin placed the shivering cub that was tilting its head to look at himself back in the center of the drawings that looked like a magic circle, gave its head a rub, then stood up.

 

“Kuu ......”
“Wait a second. I’ll be right back after kicking those nuisances to the ground.”

 

So saying, Shin turned his back on the cub and opened the doors of the shrine. What greeted his eyes was the sight of numerous Skull Faces jostling each other beyond the barrier that he had set up. Brandishing rusted swords and wearing patchy armor, the skeleton warriors with a gloomy fire burning within their eye sockets were stumbling around like sleepwalkers.
The Skull Faces were not strong enough to break the barrier, so Shin took his time surveying the situation.

 

“ ‘When quality fails, fall back on quantity,’ eh?”

 

Shin concluded while looking at the view spread out in front. None of the Skull Faces in the crowd was using special equipment or had unnatural levels like the Jack class that he had killed before; all of the Skull Faces currently surrounding the place were well within what he knew to be the norm for Pawn and Jack classes.

 

With the knowledge that all of the enemies around were Skull Faces, Shin exchanged【Sense Presence】for the longer-ranged【Search】. Doing so allowed him to focus only on the monsters, and also gave his detection a wider reach, such that he was now aware of each and every Skull Face.

 

The issue this time was the numbers. Including the ones beyond the range of【Sense Presence】that was now being shown by【Search】, there were roughly a hundred enemies. If even a tenth of them escaped, they could cause a great amount of damage and casualties.
The scene that unfolded in Shin’s mind was that of a field of blood with human parts scattered all over. He did not intend to be someone who would always tout justice, but he was not going to allow unnecessary bloodshed when he could do something about it.

 

“Too bad for you guys. I’m not going to let even one of you get away.”

 

While taking a step forward, Shin also drew a fresh weapon from his inventory. What materialized into his hand was a spear. The handle shone silver, and the edge of the spearhead was a vivid jade green. Due to it being enchanted, the entire spear was also wrapped in a faint white light.

 

After giving the spear a twirl, Shin reduced【Limit】to II. Confirming that this level of power was the strongest that he could still control, he kicked off the ground and rushed towards the barrier.

 

“The first strike!!”

 

While dashing forward, he activated the Spear-Type Martial Skill【Wadachi Tsuranuki (Furrow Pierce)】. With sheer brute strength, the spear pierced through several Skull Faces at once. When he activated the skill, an emerald green light in a spiral pattern smashed through swords, armor, and the Skull Faces themselves. It was almost like a cannonball had been fired horizontally; the tightly packed Skull Faces were ground to pieces, leaving behind a straight line of bones and iron scraps in a furrow.
Riding along the momentum of the attack, Shin broke through the encirclement of the Skull Faces. While paying attention to the positions of the monsters, he took a bit of a distance.

 

“Before I do anything else,【Star Mine】!”

 

With the activation of the skill, several tens of light orbs appeared and flew off to surround the whole group of Skull Faces.

 

Holy Arts-Type Magic Skill【Star Mine】.

 

It was a skill that placed holy elemental orbs in midair that worked like mines.
The light orbs surrounded the Skull Faces that surrounded the main shrine building. With this, he had cut off their route of escape, making sure that none of them could run back into the forest.
Confirming that the light orbs were all in position, Shin resumed assaulting the Skull Faces that were still clustering around the barrier despite having been attacked.

 

Aiming at the backs of the crowd, he lunged forward with the Spear-Type Martial Skill【Senka (Flash Blossom)】. Leaving behind an emerald green line in the air, the spear swung horizontally in a mowing attack that reduced several Skull Faces to pieces. Furthermore, the smashed pieces of armor and sword shot out in an arc, punching through the Skull Faces beyond the range of the spear. Pawn classes and Jack classes fell equally under the single attack packed with a ridiculous amount of power. The group now looked very much like a honeycomb.

 

Having finally noticed Shin, several Jack classes had turned around and raised their swords, but they could not withstand the strike from the spear, and were converted into impromptu bullets that pierced through their own allies.

 

“Have one more!!”

 

Shin swung his spear around as he pleased. Whenever he used a skill, he took down around ten of them in one blow, and the fragments from their broken bodies conveniently shot out like buckshots. Their numbers were whittled down in a flash.
In the face of Shin’s unstoppable rampage, there was no way that these Skull Faces without any special characteristics could remain standing.

 

 

 

♦♦♦♦

 

 

 

It took barely ten minutes for Shin to completely exterminate the entire group of Skull Faces. There was so much debris spread out around the barrier that the ground could not be seen.
Having no intention of cleaning up the mess, Shin ignored the remains and returned to the main shrine building.

 

When he stepped in after opening the door, the fox cub that looked like it had been crouching in wait sprang towards him.

 

“Ku—!!”
“Uwah! That’s a pretty dangerous thing to do, little guy.”

 

As the fox cub started to rub itself against him while settling in his arms, Shin regained his balance and walked down the stairs from the shrine. The cub had seemingly made a full recovery, and was now incessantly licking his face.

 

“Well then, what to do now.”

 

Shin unconsciously sighed as his gaze swept over the wrecked surroundings while still holding the fox in his arms. He noticed that the holy feeling was gone. Maybe the power that had been protecting the shrine had dispelled together with the original barrier.

 

“Ku— ?”
“Oh right, I don’t know anything about you yet either.”

 

He had decided to help out because of Millie’s request and because he had found it in such a weak state, but there was still a lot of mystery surrounding the cub. Shin now realized that he had not even checked the cub’s name yet, as he had been occupied with its weakened state ever since he had first laid eyes on it. Only monsters and players had HP bars, so he knew that this fox cub was some kind of monster.

 

“I totally forgot to check your name. It’s probably ‘Little Fox,’ right?”

 

Shin used【Analyze】to check out the cub’s status window while raising the name of a type of monster that had been popular as pets back during the game. The cub probably didn’t understand what he was saying, as it merely tilted its head in response.

 

“So, name, na ............ me?”

 

Shin’s eyes froze at the Monster Name field. What was written there was completely beyond his expectations.

 

“E, Elemental Tail ........................ Are you serious? ......”
“Ku—!”

 

The fox, no, Elemental Tail, gave an energetic reply that almost seemed to say, “That’s right!” Shin was understandably petrified with shock. Elemental Tails, previously also called “Nine-Tailed Fox” and “Kyuubi” by the players, were normally monsters that could boast of being level 1000 and were widely accepted as one of the most superior monsters in THE NEW GATE.
It regularly made the higher ranks among the “Who’s the strongest monster in THE NEW GATE?” player surveys. Seeing the name of such a monster coming up left Shin at a complete loss.

 

“What to do ...... Seriously, what to do ......”

 

Reading the rest of the status window, Shin saw that the Elemental Tail was level 211. By the standards of the residents of this world, it was already more than sufficiently dangerous. Seeing how it was here alone, Shin surmised that its parents were probably gone. It should be said that even Shin would feel in danger if even one of the parents were near. It was a tall order for even a player with completely maxed out stats to challenge an adult Elemental Tail alone. If he completely deactivated【Limit】, the Shin with his current stats might win, but not before reducing the entire Northern Forest to scorched earth.

 

“Why is an Elemental Tail here? It’s almost like Arclid’s ...... Wait, I got it!! There was an Elemental Tail!!”

 

The feeling that he had seen the shrine before when he had first arrived here. Finally remembering the reason for it, Shin could not help but shout in recognition.
There used to be a quest involving an Elemental Tail, nicknamed the Kyuubi Quest, that had required a visit to a Shinto shrine composed of only the torii and main shrine building. To be exact, it was a spot slightly removed from the shrine, but that place had probably been destroyed by the cataclysms. Most likely, the reason why the shrine was still standing was because of the protective barrier that Shin had felt. Thinking this way, it wasn’t actually that strange for an Elemental Tail to be here.
Half of the customers who had stopped by Tsuki no Hokora had been players planning to do the Kyuubi Quest. Putting it nicely, it had been a collaboration that had helped Shin raise his sales.

 

Finally satisfied at why an Elemental Tail was here, the only question left was what to do next. Originally, the Kyuubi Quest had only involved a single adult Nine-Tails; there had been no mention at all of a little Nine-Tails.

 

“What do you plan on doing from now on?”

 

Proper conversation was not possible, but Shin felt that the cub could somehow understand what he said, so he tried to ask it directly. Though the area was safe now that the barrier that he had set up was in place, the place had a feeling like it had fulfilled its role. The cub was an Elemental Tail, but it was also still just a cub, so Shin had misgivings about just leaving it here.

 

“Ku—......”

 

Having been lowered to the ground, the Elemental Tail turned around and stared at the main shrine building. After a short while, it turned around decisively like it was shaking free from something. In the same motion, it jumped onto Shin and climbed up, finally settling down on his head with a plop.

 

“Why on my head?”
“Ku~!”
“That’s not an answer.”

 

The Elemental Tail slapped his head lightly. Shin somehow felt that this was its way of expressing its resolve to leave the place behind, so he voiced it out loud as a question.

 

“...... You want to come with me?”
“Ku—!”
“I see ...... Wait, stop struggling! Your claws! Your claws are hurting me!”

 

The cub seemed to be responding “Let’s go!” in high spirits, but its energetic moving around swung Shin’s head all around the place.
The claws that were for taking down prey were completely extended, incessantly prickling Shin’s head and making it ridiculously hard to walk.

 

“Calm down a bit!”
“Ku—?”
“Don’t tilt your head at me. I know you can understand what I’m saying!”

 

Though it was still a cub, its race was the top-ranked Elemental Tail, so there was no way that it wasn’t clever. Perhaps this was its way of distracting itself from the sense of loneliness.

 

(It would be great if I could become more mature before I go back to my own world.)

 

With these thoughts in his head, Shin began walking back towards Berylricht while using both hands to block the paw punches (claws included) coming from above.

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