Volume 1 Chapter 2 Part 1
Extinct. That’s what Tiera had said.
The entire race of high humans was extinct.
“...... Then what about humans, are there still humans?”
“Oh, there are a lot of humans around. Those people from the Knights Order just now were all humans, remember?”
“Oh, they’re still around, huh.”
Clearing up the misunderstanding helped Shin regain some small measure of relief.
“It’s the high humans that went extinct, not the humans.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Of course they’re different. In the past, a group of merely six high humans ruled over this entire continent of Leidimunt. If you pitted them against tens of thousands of humans the humans would still lose. They’re on a completely different dimension.”
“Six people ruled over the continent?”
The whole six people and continent ruling thing caught his attention and seemed to stir something in his memory. He felt like something like that did happen back then.
“May I hear more about that?”
“Most people already know this, but fine. I can tell you. Before, around 500 years ago, high humans ruled over this whole continent. There were only 6 of them, but their overwhelming strength was such that there was nothing any of the other races could do to them.”
“But suddenly, their rule ended.”
“Yes, it ended. It was not only the high humans, but a lot of people disappeared, including the long-lived species like high elves and high lords, the short-lived species like high beasts and high dwarves, and every race’s royalty, elders, heroes, generals, and other influential people. I heard that it all happened very suddenly. According to Master, there were many others aside from these influential people who also disappeared. Now, we call that day『Dusk of the Majesty』.”
“Dusk of the Majesty ...... I see.”
“Because the high humans also disappeared back then, it is now thought that they are extinct. There were only 6 of them, after all.”
Sudden disappearance. Shin happened to know a little bit about that.
If it’s a phenomenon where a large number of people suddenly disappeared, it’s probably that.
(It’s that day. The day I defeated Origin and everyone logged out. I don’t have any conclusive evidence, but that’s most likely the true character of this Dusk of the Majesty.)
When she was talking about kings and heroes, she was probably referring to the guilds and guildmasters. The number of people who were released that day numbered in the tens of thousands. Shin didn’t know the exact number, but he was sure that there were tens of thousands of people trapped inside the game. To the eyes of the residents of this world, it must have looked like a sudden mass disappearance.
(Following that train of thought, then the six high humans who used to rule over the entire continent must have been ...)
Shin finally understood what it was that had caught his attention. Six high humans. Unmistakably,
(That was us ......)
Indeed, it was all the way back before THE NEW GATE became a death game, when it was still a normal VRMMO. In THE NEW GATE was a guild that was said to have been unbeatable.
That guild was comprised of 6 high humans and was called『Rokuten [Six Heavens]』. They had wiped out every major guild in THE NEW GATE, and within a month there was no player that did not know their name. They gained the reputation of mercilessly PKing any player who rose a voice in protest.
In this way, Shin had also been one of the six members of Rokuten. When he started playing he was frequently mocked for choosing the human race, so in a fit of “other races aren’t such hotshots anyways!!!” he and his guildmates decided to let loose and go ballistic on everyone else. To be honest, Shin considered it a really dark part of his past that he would never tell anyone about.
It goes without saying that all of the founding members were high humans. And they weren’t just any high human, all of them were mad players who had almost capped every stat. Even their weakest member had maxed out his HP and MP and had all other stats above 950.
They had slapped every major guild with a written challenge, then removed the limit on the number of participants for the guild war and taken on thousands of opponents at the same time with only the six of them. It was a crazy battle in which they had deployed ridiculously powerful AoE spells that reduced the entire field to cinders before ending it by giving all of the enemy leaders a thorough thrashing.
After that, the number of people who would pick a fight with Rokuten went from “very few” to “none,” and the number of people who made fun of humans went down. It wasn’t only because of the fighting strength that Rokuten had displayed, but also because everyone learned how significant high humans’ resistance to magic was. Regardless of the effect, be it poison, paralysis, confusion, charm, burn, freeze, distraction, petrification, or any other debuff, a few seconds was all that was needed for a full recovery.
With such overpowered characters around, Shin wasn’t sure if it was a blessing or a misfortune that he was the only member of Rokuten who got stuck inside the death game. If there was at least one more member with him, Shin was sure that they could have broken free at least 3 months faster.
“What happened? You suddenly got all quiet.”
“Nah, nothing. So, we were talking about the currency?”
Shin had a feeling that if he continued this conversation about high humans he would only be digging his own grave, so he steered the topic back to the currency.
“Yea. So, this was the currency that you had been using?”
“Haaaa, taking out something so priceless just like that, I can almost believe your claim of being a high human.”
It seems that she still doesn’t believe that he’s a high human.
While sighing, Tiera picked up the Geyl gold coin and stared at it fixedly. She was apparently checking its authenticity.
Shin was puzzled at Tiera calling the coin “priceless.”
“Is it really that valuable? A single Geyl?”
In the game, 1 Geyl corresponded to 1 yen. The exchange rate to real money was 1:1000. Incidentally, there were hundreds of millions of Geyls in Shin’s inventory. It was a mystery why despite being gold coins and having the symbol ‘G’ they were not actually called ‘Gold.’
“Now Geyl gold coins, or G gold coins for short, are not things that you can get your hands on whenever you wanted. You might not know this, but Geyls are magical items that can amplify magical power. Sometimes people find them in ruins and auction them for at least 10 pieces of Jul white gold coins, which equals 1 billion Juls. Oh, Juls are the common currency nowadays. We usually say how many J gold coins or how many J silver coins or just simply how many J.
“For a single piece to equal hundreds of millions ......”
“Magic casters would go to enormous lengths to own even one of these. Not counting the time Master showed me one, this is my first time seeing it. I’m going to say this just in case, but 1 billion is merely the minimum price for one. People who really want it usually end up paying more than 10 times that.”
“This single piece would fetch that much, huh ...... Incidentally, how frequently are they found?”
“ ‘Seldom’ is all I can say. Even when new ruins are found, there’s no guarantee that there would be Geyls.”
“Is that so. I guess I would attract a lot of attention if I tried to cash this in, then.”
Shin had originally planned to sell them as capital, but hearing how valuable they were he had to abandon even the plan of exchanging them for the current currency.
“That’s a wise decision. You look like someone who’d be careless about that sort of thing.”
“That’s harsh~ Oh right, but if I can’t exchange my money then I literally have no money on hand.”
“Do you have anything to sell? For starters, if you have any raw materials or items then we can buy them from you.”
“That’s a good idea. How about these?”
Shin took out some item cards from his inventory. Back in the game, if you turned an item into a card and stored it in your inventory as a card, any more of that item that you put into your inventory would automatically be converted into card form and stack with the stack that you already have. Items in card form were basically a picture of that item. Afterwards you could return the item to its real form anytime you wanted.
What Shin placed on the counter in front of him were teeth, claws, hides, and meat from Tetra Grizzlies, Twin-Head Snakes, and Flame Boars and some brown jewels. There was a wide range of things you could do with raw materials, such as crafting things with them or selling them, so back during the game there were many places you could visit to trade them. Jewels were rare drops from defeating monsters that you could bring to a blacksmith to enhance or add an attribute to your weapon or equips. As such, they were worth a lot more than raw materials. The jewel cards that Shin had brought out this time were Grade 7, the lowest grade.
“Item cards ......”
“Nn? Is there something strange?”
“No, if you have an inventory I’m sure this is pretty normal for you. I don’t think you know this, so I’ll also say this just in case. Item cards are also relatively expensive, so you shouldn’t take them out all willy-nilly either.”
“That sounds so bothersome. I have to carry raw materials around in their normal form?”
“That’s what everyone does! You’re the one who is weird!”
“I-I understand. I get it already, so please calm down.”
“Mou, you just keep on throwing off my pace!”
So saying Tiera deftly materialized the items from the cards and began to appraise them. Despite her surprise at seeing them it seems that she does know how to use them.
“These are drops from Tetra Grizzlies, Twin-Head Snakes, and Flame Boars. They’re all materials from ferocious monsters found only deep inside forests. Seriously, who are you?”
“Even if you say that ...... I just defeated them on the way here. I didn’t think them particularly ferocious, though.”
“But every single one of these monsters would take several knights to hunt ...... Forget it. There would be no end to it if I kept on being surprised at every single thing you say.”
Shin had thought that they were monsters only for beginners but apparently they were surprisingly dangerous.
“Well, don’t worry about it. Rather than that, how’s the appraisal coming along?”
“Let’s see. They’re all in great condition and you can turn them into cards so these raw materials amount to a total of 1 gold Jul and 27 silver Juls or 1.27 million Juls. The jewels are Grade 7 but their purity is high so I can give you 25 gold Juls or 25 million Juls for them.”
“Since the currency is all different I’m not sure if that’s a lot or very little ......”
“To be honest, the price that I’m offering is a little on the high side. Market price of the jewels fluctuate all the time, but they’re on the rise right now. This rank and purity would normally fetch 20 to 23 million Juls.”
“Ohhh, lucky me. I gained a profit of more than 2 million.”
“What will you do? If you’re fine with these prices then we can buy them from you immediately.”
“Alright, yes please. Ah, you can keep that. Think of it as a gift to cement our future business relationship.”
So said Shin while pointing at the Geyl gold coin that he’d left on the counter.
“............ you’re joking, right?”
“Why would you think that?!”
“Of course I would! Were you even listening to what I was saying just now?! In what world would someone simply give away a G gold coin worth hundreds of millions?!?!”
Shin pointed at himself.
“...... I’m not going to give this back even if you come asking for it later!”
“No way I would!”
The reproachful looking Tiera apparently lost to her fascination with the gold coin. She grabbed the coin with a quick motion and embraced it to her chest. Shin found himself unable to tear his eyes away from Tiera’s breasts, which had been emphasized by her arms pressing in from both sides.
“Ahhh, the G gold coin that I’ve even had dreams of~!”
The reproach in Tiera’s face had been completely replaced by a rapt expression. Perhaps due to her slightly reddened cheeks, Shin felt a curious sex appeal from her. Shin chastised himself and lightly shook his head in an effort to dispel the unbidden improper thoughts.
“Ahem, I’m glad that you like it. I’m sure that as an elf you’d be using magic-”
“Wait a second!”
Shin was about to say “often anyways” when Tiera suddenly interrupted him. Her face was now filled with fright and shock at what she’d just heard.
“....... What is it?”
“Just now ...... did you say ‘elf’?”
“Ah, yes I did ...... eh? You’re not an elf?”
Shin confirmed from his memory that small, pointed ears was a characteristic unique to only elves and high elves. He tilted his head in confusion, wondering if there was a race that he didn’t know of.
“Right now you’re supposed to be seeing a red-haired black-eyed cat person!”
“Red-haired black-eyed cat person?”
Cat people was a sub-race under Beasts that was highly popular with female players and a niche group of male players. There were numerous sub-races under Beasts, cat people being one of them, and there were further sub-classes within the cat people race, including Persian-type and calico-type. Their avatars had modeled hands, animal ears, and a tail, while some even had their body covered with feathers.
“Huh?” thought Shin as he looked at Tiera again, but all he saw was a black-haired golden-eyed beautiful young elf girl. There was no red-haired black-eyed cat person to be found.
“All I can see is a black-haired golden-eyed beautiful young elf girl. Yep.”
“How can this be ......”
He did intentionally emphasize the “beautiful young girl” part, but it was like she didn’t notice it at all.
“How come? Master had cast illusion magic on me!”
Illusion magic was usually used to confuse an opponent or trick them into falling into a trap. There was a member of Rokuten who specialized in it, so Shin had a very vivid impression of it.
“Uuu ...... to think that it would be seen through ......”
Tiera was looking downcast like it was the end of the world. Shin frantically thought of a way to hearten the suddenly depressed Tiera, but no matter how hard he wracked his brain nothing came up. So he decided to explain the reason behind how he saw through the illusion.
He’d intended to speak to her softly, but Tiera looked almost excessively afraid.
“It’s about me being able to see that you’re an elf. It’s actually due to my constitution.”
“Your ...... constitution?”
“Yes. Illusion magic is for confusing an opponent and making them see an illusion. However, it doesn’t work on someone with an extremely high magic resistance. That’s why I can see your real form.”
“But ...... regardless of how high your magic resistance is, to see through an illusion cast by Master ......”
Tiera looked like she was having a hard time believing Shin’s explanation. According to Shin’s memory, Tiera’s Master, Schnee, was a level 255 high elf. Being a magic-focused elf and also belonging to one of the higher races must have made her magic very powerful, but there was still a lot of room for improvement to her stats, especially when compared to Shin. In combination with the extra magic resistance from Shin’s high human race, the illusion had failed to even register in Shin’s eyes.
Shin sighed and wondered what to do.
“You can see what I really look like, right?”
“I can clearly see a black-haired golden-eyed beautiful young elf girl. Are you her?”
There was no response. It’s pretty tough being ignored, thought Shin despondently.
“...... You’re not scared?”
As Shin was regretting making stupid jokes that he wasn’t used to making, Tiera let out a voice that he almost missed. That voice was like that of a very frightened child.
“What is there to be scared of?”
Shin started taking it seriously and talked to Tiera as gently as he could.
Asking if herself was a monster.
When Tiera asked that in a trembling voice, the face of one of the previous members of Rokuten floated into Shin’s head.
Because of how fun he found the game, Shin was proud of having logged so many hours that he was called a gamer addict, but this other member who had been hospitalized for a long time considered even that “just more time to play.”
When this topic came up in one of their offline meet-ups and this member confessed to feeling this way, the feeling that he got from that member back then bore strong resemblance to what Tiera was giving off right now.
In clearer terms, that feeling was the fear of having revealed your true self to someone else.
Shin remembered that fortunately, there wasn’t a single person in Rokuten who actually minded something like that, so that member was very relieved.
Since he’d experienced something similar before, this time Shin was able to maintain his composure and handle the situation appropriately.
“...... You also don’t know this, huh ...... Black-haired elves are symbols of misfortune.”
Tiera answered with her head still bowed.
“Symbol of misfortune, huh.”
“Yes, symbol. You see, all elves are born with white hair. As they grow up, it gradually changes to other colors, like blond, silver, green, or blue. I don’t know if you can believe it or not, but my hair also used to be silver.”
Tiera mumbled with a self-deprecating look on her face.
“But now it’s jet black. Elves’ hair don’t turn black. Ever.”
“They don’t turn black?”
“Yes, that’s why elves with black hair are unnatural and attract disasters. It was the same in my case. For example, really strong monsters would always come attack me. Due to that, I was chased out of my village.
“When I was wandering around, with nowhere to go, Master found me. She said that the area around this store was surrounded by a powerful barrier so monsters wouldn’t come here. I haven’t left this store for more than a hundred years now.”
“A hundred years ...... that’s really long.”
“It is, but here I am able to live without causing problems for anyone else, so it’s fine like this.”
Shin wanted to shout, “There’s no way that it’s fine!” He really wanted to tell her that being stuck inside the store for a hundred years is definitely not a good state to be in. However, he knew that just saying them wouldn’t change anything, so he kept it in. He held his fist so tightly that it hurt.
It hasn’t even been a whole day since their meeting, so Shin was also not sure why he was feeling such indignation and resentment on her part. However, he couldn’t just sit still after seeing her like this, so he wracked his mind thinking of how he could help her.
According to Shin’s knowledge, there was no such backstory for elves. If this world was truly THE NEW GATE, then there has to be a proper reason for her situation.
“...... Tiera, I want to confirm something.”
“What ...... do you want to confirm?”
“So, from what you were saying, if your hair used to be silver, why is it black now?”
Shin felt that understanding that might lead to a hint.
“One day, it just suddenly turned black.”
“Yes, suddenly. I went to sleep like normal and when I woke up it was all black. At that time, I didn’t know what was happening, and was so scared.”
Tiera hugged herself as her body started to shake from reliving the memories. Shin’s mind whirred into high gear comparing the facts from Tiera’s story to all the information inside his head.
“Hair color changing suddenly ...... being attacked by monsters ............ hair color ...... changing a character’s color scheme ...... monsters ...... numerous attacks ...... many times ...... strong ............ changing a character’s color scheme and making them susceptible to monster attacks? That’s ...... !!”
Sure of the existence of an answer, Shin was muttering to himself when a light went off in his head. If he remembered correctly, then there is one possibility that matched with these conditions.
“There is ...... There is one!! There is one status that fits the story exactly!”
Shin suddenly shouted and fixed Tiera with his stare. At his sudden shout, Tiera shook with nervousness.
“Why did I even forget? But this ...... hm? Strange, why doesn’t the status show up? I seem to remember setting it to automatically activate, though.”
Shin was staring at Tiera because he was trying to see her status screen. If Shin’s prediction was correct, then it should show up clearly on her status.
“OK, open the Skills window, analyze ...... analyze ...... f-found it. Oh, I have it to “Show only for monsters and players,” huh. If I just turn this back on, then ......”
After fixing the settings, Shin stared at Tiera again. From Tiera’s point of view, though, all she saw was Shin squinting at empty air and moving his fingers. She was a bit apprehensive at what he was doing, but a small seed of hope which had taken root inside her chest gave her courage and dispelled the apprehension.
“Alright, I can see your status now. As long as I have that ...... I see your name, level, race, and ...... ! YEAAAHHHH IT’S HEREEEE!!!!!!”
Shin couldn’t help making a “guts pose” at seeing his guess confirmed. From a while ago, Tiera had been jumping at every eccentric mannerism from Shin.
(T/N: “Guts pose” is a “yes I did it!” pose. Google image it if you’re curious.)
“Tiera, be glad! I found out the real reason behind the misfortune!”
“Not ‘huh.’ There’s no doubt, since it’s showing up on the display. The reason why your hair colored changed and you started getting attacked by monsters is because of【Cursed Gift】.”
Tiera didn’t understand what he was saying and looked at him blankly.
In THE NEW GATE,【Cursed Gift】was a random occurrence. As implied by its name, it’s a curse.
Players could earn titles, otherwise called “Gifts,” inside the game through certain determined actions, such as clearing a quest or obtaining the relevant item. Depending on the Gift, the player could get a small bonus to their stats or even be able to learn a new skill.
In contrast to that, all players were susceptible to a randomly granted Gift called【Cursed Gift】. It could only be removed through the item【Droplet of Purification】or the Holy Arts-Type Skill【Purification】. As long as it remained, the player would experience lowered stats, inexplicable unnatural debuffs, and random attacks from unique powerful monsters. The way to get it was completely random, and a part of the body of the player would automatically turn black. It would be marked on the player’s character screen by an icon of a laughing shinigami mask.
And indeed, on Tiera’s character screen Shin clearly saw the icon of the laughing shinigami mask.
“Alright. Now that we know what it is, the solution is simple. Tiera, would you mind coming out from behind the counter and stand here in the middle of the store?”
Confused and unsure of what was going on, Tiera obediently walked to the middle of the store without much protest.
“I’m going to start. Activate【Purification】!!”
To exorcise the curse, Shin faced Tiera, stuck out his right hand, and activated the Holy Arts-Type Skill【Purification】. It’s a skill normally to priests but due to certain circumstances Shin had also acquired it.
Slowly, golden light gathered around the right hand that Shin was holding out. At the same time, golden light enveloped Tiera’s entire body.
“What ...... is this ...... It’s warm ......”
Tiera was surprised at the light but due to the warmth it conveyed, she felt no danger. She stood there basking in the sensation of being completely cleansed that originated from somewhere in her body.
After about 5 minutes, the light gradually dimmed, then disappeared.
Even after the light was gone, Tiera remained still for a while, feeling peaceful and blissful until she suddenly returned to her senses and looked around with a “what just happened?” look on her face.
“...... The icon is gone, but ...... was it ...... a success?”
So muttered Shin in bewilderment. He was looking at Tiera’s status window, and the shinigami icon was indeed gone. However, a successful exorcism of the curse normally also reverted the effects of the color change. In this case, Tiera’s hair still remained black, but now there was silver highlight in it.
As it was still unclear whether the curse was gone or not, an indescribable atmosphere filled the air.
“Sooo ...... how did it go?”
“Mmm, the curse is gone, but ...... yea. I guess the hair color didn’t fully revert back to its original color.”
Before the celebration was the bad news.
“Ahh ...... I’m sorry, only a small part of your hair regained its color. Just in case ...... you might want to confirm it.”
Shin spoke despondently. He retrieved a mirror from his inventory and offered it to Tiera. Hearing the word ‘hair,’ Tiera snatched the mirror from Shin’s hand and held it in front of her eyes.
Tiera saw her own face in the mirror. It looked the same as ever. However, the single tuft of hair covering her face had changed to a dazzling silver color.
That was without a doubt the color that Tiera’s hair had before.
“............ *sobs* ...... *sobs*”
When she saw it, her eyes misted over, and a trickle of tears flowed down her cheek.
As the first drop left her cheek and fell through the air, it was as though a dam behind her eyes had burst open, and her tears gushed out seemingly without end.
“Uuuu ...... *sobs* ...... eeeuuuuhhh ......”
Tiera cried silently while wiping her tears with her sleeves.
In front of Tiera stood a man who looked like the very culmination of confusion.
Needless to say, that man was Shin.
If it was a little child it would be one thing, but seeing a girl who who he couldn’t deny being an adult crying in front of him, added to the knowledge that he himself might have been the reason for the tears, placed Shin in a position that pushed the very limits of his mind’s processing power.
“*sniffle* ...... wait a ...... *hic* ...... mo-moment ...... I’ll calm down ...... soon, so ......”
“I-I understand. It’s fine to take your time, alright? I’ll wait here as long as you need.”
Coming back to his senses after being talked to, Shin finally thought to take out a towel (there were no handkerchiefs in the game so he made do with an accessory item instead) and handed it to Tiera. He then pulled the chair out from behind the counter and had her sit on it. After that, he just stood there awkwardly waiting for her tears to stop.
Volume 1 Chapter 2 Part 2
After about five minutes, Tiera raised her face from the towel. Though the tears had stopped, her eyes were still red.
“I’m sorry, I’m fine now.”
“Is-is that so, ma’am.”
“What’s with the ‘ma’am’?”
“No, well, it’s just that even though the curse has been lifted, most of your hair didn’t go back to its original color, so I feel kinda sorry about that ......”
The whole time when Tiera was crying, Shin had felt like he was on pinpricks. He was filled with trepidation that they were going to repeat that scene again.
From what he was seeing so far, though, Tiera wasn’t giving off any indication that she was angry. Shin was getting jumpy with anticipating her mood. Ironically, their positions had been reversed.
“Oh, please don’t start acting formal with me because of that! The thing with the hair is over. I haven’t seen my own hair color for more than a hundred years, so I’m actually really happy about getting even a little bit of it back.”
Tiera smiled, and she really did look very happy. She was smiling the peaceful smile of someone who had retrieved something precious that she had lost for a long time. There was no longer any vestiges of when she had been quaking with fear.
“I’m a bit relieved at hearing you say so, but ...”
“But I thought girls’ hair was their life,” Shin wanted to say. His mom had told him so. So had his little sister and his female friends. Therefore, he found it a bit hard to be fully satisfied with how things turned out.
“It’s my hair and I’m saying that it’s alright, so let’s just leave it at that. Rather than that, is it true that my curse is gone?”
“Ah, there’s no doubt on that count. I think that if you try stepping out of the store you’d be able to confirm it.”
Since Tiera herself was insisting on it, Shin decided to acquiesce and consider the issue over.
The main effect that Tiera had been suffering from was『Increased Encounter Rate with Unique Monsters』, so unless she stepped out of the monster-warding barrier around Tsuki no Hokora, there would be no way to confirm that the curse was gone.
It was Shin who had set up this barrier, therefore it was so high level that even unique monsters could not invade. Perhaps due to THE NEW GATE’s attempt to make the game world as real as possible, there were very few indestructible objects in existence. On the other hand, there were bandit players who would target player shops like what Shin was running. Therefore, there existed numerous Barrier-Type skills to discourage or even prevent intrusion.
“Honestly, I’m still a bit afraid. There’s this nagging fear in me that the curse has not yet been lifted.”
“No worries there. I know from experience, because I’ve had that curse before.”
“Eh? Eehhhh??? You’ve also had this curse before?!?”
“Ah, I also had a lot of high level monsters come after me. There’s no doubt that【Purification】clears this curse.”
Shin had gotten the curse when his stats were somewhere in the mid-800s. For him, though, the endless waves of unique monsters was merely a good opportunity to gain levels.
“Well, let’s see. So far, out of all the monsters that have come to attack you, what’s the highest level that you have seen?”
“The strongest was probably the Horn Dragon. I think it was around level 200.”
“The ones above Lesser Dragons?”
“Oh, you know of them?”
“Ah, if it’s only that much, then it’ll be a cinch.”
Horn Dragons looked like Lesser Dragons (Wingless Small Dragon) but were roughly double in size and had a single horn growing from their forehead. Lesser Dragons were around level 100, but Horn Dragons surpass that and are around level 200. He had just confirmed that Tiera was level 57, so there was no way that she could have beat them.
In THE NEW GATE, the max level for players and their support characters was 255, but the max level for monsters was 1000. Roughly 4 times stronger than the players. This was for the high level players like Shin who repeatedly reincarnated to play with. For players like the members of Rokuten, who could easily beat many bosses by themselves, to not get bored, the game had monsters that even they can’t handle without proper preparation.
For Shin, level 1000 monsters was the norm. As such, level 200 were lower than trash mobs in his eyes.
“ ‘A cinch’ ...... when a Horn Dragon comes out the Knights Order’s Elite Squad would have to come, you know.”
“Elite Squad? Why would those elite-sounding guys have to come over?”
“They’re not ‘elite-sounding,’ they are real elites. The best of the best. When you came here, you saw the castle walls on your way, right?”
“Oh right, the one with all sorts of enchantments on it.”
“That’s the fortified wall that encircles the Berylricht Kingdom. The Squad Leader of the Elite Squad of the Knights Order of that country is level 158, if I remember right. The Horn Dragon is around level 200, so it’s still 40 levels higher than the Squad Leader. If you claim to be able to easily beat such an overpowered monster, then people would think that you either have a screw loose somewhere in your head or that you’re making an empty boast.”
“158 ...... you said?”
“Yes, it would be unreasonable for even the 2nd most powerful person of the kingdom to handle it alone.”
It appears that Tiera thought Shin was surprised at how high the Squad Leader’s level was.
In reality, Shin was shocked at how low it was. By the standards of the players, it was a level at which if you didn’t invest heavily in your stats, you would only barely reach the middle ranks.
If there were two or three monsters with higher levels than a Horn Dragon, then this Order would be overwhelmed, thought Shin. He didn’t say it out loud, though.
“...... Well, it’s true that it wouldn’t be a problem, so come on, let’s step out of the shop.”
“Wait a moment, were you even listening to what I just said?”
“I was listening. More like, after hearing it I was even more reassured that there wouldn’t be a problem.”
“ ‘Not a problem,’ you say. What, you can beat a Horn Dragon?”
“...... Hey, I’m just confirming, but what’s your level?”
“It’s 255. So?”
She became quiet. Shin was saying it as it was, but Tiera found it hard to believe.
“255 ...... ? The same as Master?”
“Yes, my level is 255. For what it’s worth, my level is indeed the same as Schnee.”
“Stop, stop! How many times are you going to repeat that?!”
“— nn ......”
It was becoming a Really Relay so Shin put a stop to it.
(T/N: 対決 is more like ‘confrontation’ or ‘showdown,’ but puns are fun! :P)
“Can’t you use【Analyze】? I’ve the restriction off so if you just take a look you would know.”
“There’s no way I can use it. Only skill inheritors can.”
“What are skill inheritors?”
“...... I am starting to have strong doubts about your common sense.”
It appears that this was another thing that everyone who lived in this world knew. However, Shin had just arrived in this world, so talking to him with the assumption that he’d know this world’s common sense would get nowhere. So much had changed since it was a game that if someone just gave him an astounded look he wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of it.
“I’ve been living by myself for such a long time that I don’t know much of the common sense of this world.”
He couldn’t really say that the last time he was here it was a game, so he went with the story of being someone who had lived away from society for a long time. He figured that this way, he would have an excuse for lacking information regarding this world.
“I see. From now on, I can teach you everything that you need to know, so if you have any questions then feel free to ask me.”
Shin bowed his head while feeling thankful for the Tiera that had been answering all of his questions so far.
“So, about skill inheritors. As you can tell from the name, these are people who inherit long-lost skills. Ever since the Dusk of the Majesty, a lot of skills have been lost. Nowadays, there are probably less than a hundred skills left.”
“Less than a hundred ......”
Shin was unable to hide his shock. He knew that there were a lot of skills in THE NEW GATE, but the number that Tiera gave was less than a tenth of the original number.
“Nowadays, just being able to use a skill would merit you favorable treatment. People like adventurers or knights who fight for a living use ‘Arts,’ a weakened version of skills. The names and effects remain the same, but Arts only have a third of the power of skills. I’m a magic-caster too, but the skills that Master had shown me were on a completely different level from the Arts that I had been using so far.
“Gotcha, so Arts are a weakened version of skills. Can you level up each of the Arts separately?”
There are levels to skills. An example would be【Analyze X】. After the skill name is a number from I to X (T/N: 1 to 10 in Roman numerals), which makes for easy recognition. The lowest is I, the highest is X. Most attack skills don’t have levels, it’s mainly the Support-Type skills that do.
“I know that there are skills that have levels, but Arts don’t.”
“So they have to rely on Arts when they fight, huh. Sounds tough.”
Shin himself had a wide range of skills, so he couldn’t help thinking how tough it would be to be using weakened versions of them.
“What about you, how many skills can you use? From the way you were talking just now, you don’t only have one, right? Two? Three? Don’t tell me you have 4.”
“Single digits? Really? There are more than a thousand skills out there. I’ve never actually counted so I don’t know the exact number.”
“Hah? A thousand? What? Did I hear wrong?”
Tiera thought she had misheard and tilted her tilted quizzically at Shin, who was now saying how there were a lot of them that he’d never actually used before. Well, she knew what she had heard, but it was so far removed from this world’s common sense that she couldn’t help but think that it was a joke.
Sometimes going too far loses all sense of reality.
“You don’t have【Analyze】? Hmm, I guess you still wouldn’t be able to see my level with only【Analyze I】. It won’t hurt to still have it, though. Okay, I’ll use【Book of Secrets Creation】now.”
Tiera tilted her head again at Shin, who was now moving his fingers around in midair.
“It’s done. Here you go.”
“What is this?”
What Shin had handed to Tiera was a scroll.
Skills are developed separately from character level. When a skill has been leveled up to a certain point, the player gains special bonuses like increased damage or getting to learn another related skill. Some special skills also allow the player to make a『Book of Secrets』.
『Book of Secrets』is the physical manifestations of a skill and looks like a scroll. When someone else uses the scroll, they learn the skill written on it. Of course, the number of times that a player can make a『Book of Secrets』of a skill is limited, and the person who just learned the skill would have to fulfill the same requirements before being able to make a『Book of Secrets』by themselves. The stronger a skill is, the fewer『Book of Secrets』that can be made of it, and there are many skills for which a『Book of Secrets』cannot be made at all.
Some skills also have level requirements, so it’s not possible to use skills beyond your level by learning them through a『Book of Secrets』.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that every player had【Analyze】. There were no requirements for using the skill, and it was so low level that there was practically no limit to the number of『Book of Secrets』that each player could make of it. Thus Shin had no qualms about making one right on the spot.
“It’s the『Book of Secrets』for 【Analyze】. I think that if you read that, you would learn the skill.”
He was quite certain that『Book of Secrets』would work even for support characters. If it didn’t actually work, he was prepared to just make an apology. For this kind of thing you wouldn’t know until you actually tried it.
“I can learn a skill just by using this? But I don’t have anything to give you as compensation.”
He had meant to give it to her without any recompense, but it looked like Tiera would not accept it.
“As I said just now, skills are extremely valuable! Being able to learn a skill is an enormous deal, and usually involves large piles of money or taking someone in as an apprentice or disciple. You aren’t going to tell me that you’re giving it to me for free, right?”
“Well, that was my intention. What’s wrong with it?”
“For now, stop giving it to every random person you meet. It would be a very big deal. Depending on the circumstances, people might come after your life.”
“THAT big a deal?!?”
It hadn’t crossed his mind that a single skill would be a big enough deal for people to die over. Shin decided in his heart to only ever give『Book of Secrets』to people that he could trust.
“Don’t be too anxious. Anyways, you’re fine, so could you try using this for me?”
“You won’t ask me for compensation after I use it?”
“Like I would!!”
Shin wanted to retorted, “What am I, a vicious swindler?”, but if there was a real possibility that people might target their lives then her caution was understandable.
“Is giving away skills for free your modus operandi?”
“If I was scamming you, I’d be offering a higher level skill.”
“To me, this is already plenty valuable. Anyone in possession of multiple skills would already be a huge deal.”
“I can’t use any arts, though. All I have are skills, and for me only skills feel natural, so I don’t really feel like a huge deal.”
“What a luxurious worry ...... Fine, alright. If you’re going to insist on it so much, I’m going to accept it without restraint.”
“Yes, I offered it to you so that you would accept it. Rather, it would be problematic for me if you didn’t.”
For now, it seems Tiera was finally convinced, and she accepted the『Book of Secrets』. At Shin’s urging, she opened it right there and then.
As she started reading, a pale light green glow surrounded Tiera’s body, lasting about 10 seconds.This was the visual effect of a character successfully acquiring a skill. It appears that she had indeed successfully learned the skill.
“How is it?”
In the game,『Book of Secrets』didn’t have actual text. When they are used, they just disappear, so Shin was curious how it felt to use them now.
“It was a very strange feeling. When I opened the scroll, the usage and effects of【Analyze】just automatically came into my head. It wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling, though.”
“Heh, it was like that, huh.”
While verbally expressing his admiration, inside he was feeling relieved at the success. If it didn’t work, it would have been very awkward for him.
“I can see your name, but everything else is a weird symbol that I don’t recognize.”
“Oh, so you can actually see my name, huh. The weird symbol everywhere else is called a ‘question mark,’ and it appears when the level and stats difference between you and the other party is too great. Therefore, it’s to be expected that you can’t see the rest.”
“Ehh, so by all rights, I shouldn’t even be able to see your name. I also now know about the skill’s levels and what each field is. So even though I can’t see your level, I understand that that very fact is proof that you are quite powerful.”
“Will you now believe me that even if we go outside and monsters come, it would be alright?”
“You’ve already done so much for me that I have no choice but to believe you.”
Due to having received【Analyze】, Tiera could now somehow believe Shin’s words. However, there was still a fear of being attacked by strong monsters that had been ingrained in her from experience.
“Just in case, I’ll leave first and look around before calling out to you. When you hear my voice, please come out.”
To make sure, Shin first left Tsuki no Hokora and surveyed the surroundings. He also used【Search】at the same time, and confirmed that there were no monsters nearby.
Tiera stuck out her head from the door of the store, looked around, gathered her resolve, and stepped out.
Both【Barrier X】and【Wall X】had been cast around Tsuki no Hokora.【Barrier X】is an invisible wall that completely shuts out all monsters within level 900 to 1000 and below (level is derived from the entity’s stats) and nullifies and deflects attacks from them. Similarly,【Wall X】is an invisible wall that completely nullifies attacks from all players within level 230 to 255 and below (here, too, level is derived from stats). Both were the strongest versions of their respective skills, so even someone using the skill【Ignore [Slip Through]】would be unable to invade.
Incidentally, with the wrong permission settings on【Wall X】even normal customers would be refused entry, so it needed to be used carefully. When Shin was running the shop, he had set it so that on top of shutting out armed invaders, it was also forbidden to use skills or equip anything while inside.
At the moment, the two spells were deployed in a 20 mel radius around Tsuki no Hokora.
“Come over here.”
At Shin’s beckoning, Tiera slowly walked over. Shin was standing 1 mel outside the barrier, so standing next to him would inevitably mean leaving the barrier.
Shin was keeping an eye on their surroundings, and Tiera was feeling very nervous so for a while there was no conversation between them.
After five minutes, there was still no change in their surroundings. A warm wind ruffled their hair.
“Nothing’s happening, eh?”
“Nothing’s happening indeed.”
They waited five more minutes before Shin judged that there were no longer any problems. If the curse was still active, it would have called at least one monster already within the past ten minutes.
“Not seeing any monsters, eh?”
The first five minutes were extremely nerve-wracking, but Tiera gradually gained the composure to look around.
“The curse has been lifted, see?”
“It seems so, yes.”
Tiera answered Shin’s questions while looking up at the sky.
The sky reflected in Tiera’s eyes was the same expansive, blue sky that one could see anywhere. It was not the cut out sky that she could only see through the store’s windows.
She could feel the wind, drink in the light from the sun, and breathe in the fragrance of the forest. An overwhelming sense of nostalgia blossomed inside Tiera’s chest.
Shin felt greatly relieved while looking at Tiera, who was in turn looking at the sky. With this, Tiera no longer had to fear the shadow of monsters nor fear bringing disaster to people around herself. She was now free to step outside of the store whenever she wanted.
“The sky is really broad, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is.”
Tiera murmured that fact as if she’d just remembered it.
For a while after that, Shin and Tiera just stood there and gazed at the sky.
At the corner of Tiera’s eye something sparkled, but Shin remained silent.
“Shall we go back in sometime soon?”
When Tiera said that, Shin turned to look at Tiera.
“Let’s do that.”
In the first place, they had left the shop to confirm that the curse had been dispelled, so without any further objections they went back into the store.
“At any rate, it seems that the curse has really been removed.”
After returning behind the counter, Tiera was earnestly muttering to herself. Though she understood it with her head, it would take quite some while for it to start feeling real.
“Just saying, but【Purification】is also a skill. If I had to say, it’s one of the rarer ones. It took me a lot of trouble to get it, so it would have been problematic for me if it didn’t work.”
“So the curse could really be dispelled with【Purification】. Even if I knew that, it would have been hard to get someone to cast it on me.”
“How come? Though it is indeed a skill, shouldn’t most of the priests have it?”
“That’s not exactly true. The priests who can use【Purification】are mostly very high ranked, so it would be quite difficult to get to meet one. In my case, the nature of my curse wouldn’t really allow me to go to them, and I couldn’t very well ask them to come to me either.”
“I guess if the effect was just lowering your stats then you might have been able to do something about it, huh.”
That that would have been dangerous in its own way was left unsaid. The moment the curse affected her, her stats would have been dropped to a tenth of their previous value, making her easy prey for any trash monster. That would have been scary in its own right.
“Now that it’s been lifted, there’s no need to dwell on it any longer.”
“That’s true. Now you can even brazenly take walks outside.”
“Yep. Black-haired elves might still be feared and hated, but now that not all of my hair is black I’m sure they won’t hate me as much anymore.”
“Nn? It’s fine if it’s not all black?”
“That’s right. When affected by the curse, even when I dyed my hair it would immediately go back to being black, so just having a part that’s not black would show people that I’m not cursed anymore.”
“Is that so.”
Back during the game, nobody tried dyeing their hair for that reason, so Shin was thinking, “So that’s how it is.” In the first place, every player who got the curse would immediately use an item or visit a priest, so it was just that nobody had ever thought of it.
“Oh right, I’d almost forgotten, but here is your payment for the raw materials and jewels.”
Tiera placed a bag bulging with coins onto the counter as she spoke. It was filled with more than 50 pieces of gold and silver coins, so it was pretty big.
“Would I be able to put this into my inventory?”
He tried just in case, and thankfully on top of the line showing G currency, a new line for J currency appeared and noted down the 26 J gold coins and 27 J silver coins.
“The money disappeared ...... how convenient!”
Tiera’s face looked like she really wanted an inventory too, but this was one thing that really couldn’t be helped, so Shin just smiled wryly. It would be a different matter if he had the item for expanding inventory, but he didn’t have one on hand.
“At any rate, it appears that I won’t be in want for an inn tonight.”
“Are you planning on going inside Berylricht Kingdom?”
“Ah, there are a few things that I want to check up on. Do you know of any good places for information gathering?”
“I see. In that case, please wait a while, I have something good to give you as an extra service.”
So saying, Tiera went inside the door behind the counter that led to the house side. According to Shin’s memory, there was a break room back there.
About three minutes later, Tiera reappeared, and held out a piece of paper towards Shin.
“And this is?”
“A letter of introduction from Tsuki no Hokora. With this in hand, you won’t need to line up to get into the kingdom.”
So it seems that one needs to line up to get into the kingdom. This letter was a great help to Shin, who wanted to find an inn before nightfall.
“This would be a great help. I’m going to pass on having to sleep outside after coming this far. But are you sure? Wouldn’t it be a problem giving this letter of introduction to someone that you’d met just today?”
Shin knew that it would be bad if this fell into the wrong hands, but Tiera shook her head vigorously.
“You dispelled a curse that I didn’t think could be dispelled, and on top of that you are really strong. In addition, you’re really good-natured ...... This isn’t nearly enough to pay you back for what you’ve done.”
“ ‘Good-natured,’ you say ...... I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the last part, could you please repeat it again?”
“Don-Don’t worry about it! Anyways, there’s no problem, so just take it already!”
So saying, Tiera pressed the letter of introduction upon Shin. She was trying to hide her blushing face by looking down, but since her ears were all red it was all too obvious.
“I get it, I get it. Very well, I will accept this gratefully.”
Shin failed to notice the blushing, though. If it was happening to anyone else, he would notice, but because he didn’t get many opportunities to get thanked, he was very thick about these kinds of things.
(T/N: Lol where would we be without our thick-headed main characters?)
“Well then, I’ll be going. When I get more drops from killing monsters I’ll come back and sell them to you, so please take care of me then.”
“I know you’re pretty strong, but don’t overdo it. If you die, everything would come to naught.”
“I got it. Seeya!”
“We will await your future patronage.”
Like a proper salesclerk, Tiera bowed respectfully while seeing off Shin, who lightly waved back and left Tsuki no Hokora behind him.
Volume 1 Chapter 2 Part 3
After leaving Tsuki no Hokora, Shin cut straight through the forest, arrived in front of the castle walls, then started walking along them. He didn’t know where the entrance was, so he just followed his intuition. He figured that there would be one somewhere along the wall, so he set off at a quick pace.
“Still, this wall really does look pretty sturdy.”
Now that he was getting a closer look, he was slightly impressed again.【Analyze】only gives detailed information about monsters and players, so he couldn’t see much information about the wall. However, he could tell that each of the enchantments cast on it were at least level V. According to what Tiera had said about how valuable skills are, Shin guessed that there must be pretty excellent skill inheritors around.
After walking for about 15 minutes, he spotted a line in front of the castle walls. It seems that the castle gate was over there.
Drawing near, he saw a large variety of people and clothing. There was a human young man wearing tattered clothing, a Beast woman covered with armor, and a dwarf leading a small dragon. There was someone wearing a robe who was most likely a mage, and there was someone riding a large wagon who was probably a merchant. Shin looked around curiously at the diversity in the slow moving line. While inside the game, all of the players had dressed up all neatly and tidily (given that there were those who chose to not do so), so Shin was slightly surprised at the how different it was now.
By the time he got close enough to see the castle gate, he also noticed soldiers who were probably townsguards checking people’s identification papers and briefly inspecting the luggage in the wagons. Tiera had told him that with the letter of introduction she gave him he wouldn’t have to line up, so he continued walking straight up to the gate.
As a result of him walking outside of the line, when he got to 20 mels of the gate the townsguards noticed him. They looked suspiciously at Shin, who was approaching without lining up.
When he got within 10 mels of the gate, one of the four townsguards came over to him.
“You there! If you want to enter the town, you have to line up! If you don’t line up, you won’t get to go in.”
So saying, the townsguard jerked his thumb in the direction of the end of the line. From where Shin was standing, the end of the line was so far away that it couldn’t even be seen.
“Excuse me, I’ve been told that if I show this to you, I would be allowed to enter the town without having to line up.”
He took out the letter of introduction from his inventory and handed it to the townsguard. He didn’t forget to disguise his motion by pretending to take it out from his breast pocket.
With a suspicious look on his face, the townsguard accepted the letter that Shin was holding out and began looking over the contents of the letter. By the time he finished reading, his hands were shaking.
“A letter of introduction ...... from Tsuki no Hokora ......”
“Yes, I received it from a salesclerk there.”
Shin didn’t know how important a letter of introduction from Tsuki no Hokora was, so he didn’t understand why the townsguard was so shocked.
Instead, he even worried about the townsguard, thinking in his mind, “This guy’s hands are shaking, is he alright?”
“I will need to confirm the authenticity of this letter. Would you mind coming along with me?”
Whether he couldn’t tell if it was real or not, or that he couldn’t believe that it was real, the townsguard promptly returned the way he came and gathered the rest of the townsguards for a furious discussion.
With nothing particular to do, Shin just stood in front of the gate and stared at a large horse 1.5 times the size of a normal horse.
As Shin gazed blankly at the horse, the townsguard who had talked with Shin earlier returned.
“I’m sorry for the wait. Please, this way.”
In sharp contrast to before, the townsguard was now extremely courteous and polite, to the level of making Shin feel slightly uncomfortable.
(Was that letter of introduction that powerful?)
While feeling the stares of the people in the line, Shin passed through the gate and stopped to behold a large plaza on the other side. Large wagons were going back and forth, while the people themselves moved with equal intensity. At the edge of the plaza were lines of street stalls selling anything from food to armor to accessories to strange items that he’d never seen before.
“I will now proceed to guide you to the Adventurers’ Guild. Would that be acceptable to you?”
“Eh? Ah, yes. Please do.”
A different townsguard from the one who had approached him earlier was now speaking to him. The townsguard had gone ahead before noticing that Shin had stopped following him and thus turned back. For his part, Shin had thought that the townsguard would leave him after escorting him through the gate, so he was caught off guard and answered absentmindedly.
“Do you perhaps have arrangements at any other places? If it is agreeable with you, I will have the honor of serving as your guide.”
“No, I have no particular arrangements, so the Adventurers’ Guild is fine. Also, stop using honorifics and being overly polite to me.”
“However, to show discourtesy to a bearer of a letter of introduction from Tsuki no Hokora ......”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll also speak normally, so you do that too.”
“...... If you say so. Underst—”
“...... Fine, fine. I just have to drop the honorifics, right?”
For Shin, it felt like he had received the letter of introduction mainly by chance, so he had no intention of throwing his weight around just for owning it. Having understood that, the guard tasked with guiding him switched to a much more casual way of talking. This was probably how he normally talks.
“Thank you for understanding.”
“Good grief, each and every one of you people with those letters of introduction. What’s wrong with a little bit of honorifics?”
“It just felt uncomfortable. For me. I’m Shin. Yoroshiku.”
(T/N: You will see yoroshiku and yoroshiku onegaishimasu many times in this part, as Shin is meeting a lot of people for the first time. The latter is just a more formal version of the former, and there is a super formal versionyoroshiku onegaiitashimasu; all of them mean something between “nice to meet you” and “please take care of me from now on” and “please teach me a lot of things from now on” and “I’ll be in your care from now on.” If I translate it any single way, then it’ll lose part of its meaning, so I’ll leave it untranslated.)
Shin was just a student in real life. Having someone older speak to him with honorifics felt very strange to him.
“I’m Beid. I’ve lived in this town my whole life. Just ask if there’s anything you don’t get.”
Beid laughed. With his trimmed brown hair and mustache, he gave off the impression of a bear when he laughed. From【Analyze X】Shin knew that Beid was level 100. With just the benchmark of the strongest member of the Knights Order being level 158, Shin didn’t know if Beid was strong or weak.
“Thanks, I’ll ask you about the town later. For now, why are you leading me to the Adventurers’ Guild?”
Indeed, Shin had intended to go to the Adventurers’ Guild, but he didn’t remember telling any of the townsguards. Then he remembered that he’d asked Tiera about good places for information gathering.
“It was written on the letter of introduction for us to do this. Knowing that it was written on a letter of introduction from Tsuki no Hokora, anyone would have done the same.”
“Is that so? Oh right, just confirming, but exactly how power is a letter of introduction from Tsuki no Hokora?”
“You showed it to us without knowing that?!”
For some reason, Beid looked shocked.
“Well I mean, it’s my first time in this country. It was kind of like a coincidence that I went to Tsuki no Hokora, too.”
“You just coincidentally went there and came back with a letter of introduction from them? ...... Who the heck are you?”
“Just a normal wanderer.”
“Like I’d believe that. Anyways, fine. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but in this country it’s enough to grant you an audience with the king. It’s so powerful that there are people who make forgeries of it.”
It turned out to be a ridiculously powerful piece of paper.
“Tiera dear, this is not something to give away as an extra service ......”
Shin slightly regretted not knowing how important it was. In actuality, he had thought that it was just a substitute for a normal entrance pass. If what Beid said was true, then he understood why the guards were so surprised.
“I’m going to say this just in case, but if you lose it, it would be really bad.”
“...... But I handed it to that townsguard back there.”
Shin just realized that he hadn’t gotten the letter back yet. He was about to turn back when Beid stopped him.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got the letter with me. It’s the basics to keep it on your body at all times, even when showing it to a guard. I was just holding onto it before an idiot did something crazy with it.”
“Beid, good job!”
Shin reflexively gave a thumbs up to Beid for the smart move. Although the way Beid spoke and looked gave off a bit of a rough image, unlike his speech he turned out to be a pretty serious and diligent person.
Accepting the letter back, Shin promptly placed it into his inventory under the『Important Things』zone. That zone was burglar-proof, so even if someone used【Steal】or【Plunder】on him, he did not have to worry about losing it.
“Ahh, I’d forgotten to say this, but when you get to the Adventurers’ Guild, ask for the receptionist lady called Els and show that letter of introduction to her.”
“She’s an elf adventurer who is also serving as a receptionist at the guild. There were ancient elf runes on your letter. If one was to think of an elf in the guild, then Els would be the girl. It was probably addressed to Els in the first place.”
“Understood. I’ll ask around at the guild.”
Shin made sure to remember it, thinking that this elf was probably one of Tiera’s acquaintances.
He then dropped the topic of the letter and asked Beid about the town.
“Right, you said that this is your first time in this country. I guess the first thing to tell you is the way this town is divided up. The gate that you came in through just now was the south gate. There is a gate at each of the cardinal directions of the compass, but the one used most heavily is the south one.”
“Why’s the south one used the most?”
“It’s because it opens to the industrial district. This country has the royal palace in the middle, the mansions of the nobles and large merchants in a ring around that, then the rest of the town is divided into four districts.”
“Please go on.”
“As I said before, the southern district is the industrial one. Items, foodstuffs, miscellaneous goods, and most things that you need for living can be found here. Then there’s the eastern district, which belongs to the guilds. The Adventurers’ Guild, the Merchants’ Guild, the Blacksmiths’ Guild, and numerous other guilds have their headquarters in this district. The west district is the residential area. Most residents of this town live here. The inns for adventurers and merchants in town for restocking can also be found here. As for the north ...... for now it’s labeled as a developmental area.”
When he got to the north, Beid’s flowing introduction seemed to lose its momentum. Shin could guess what Beid was going to say, so he said it first.
“ ‘Developmental area’ is just the official name for the slum area, right?”
“As I expected, you figured it out. You’re right. It’s called developmental but actually it’s where those without anywhere else to go drift around. The reason they end up there differs from person to person, though. At any rate, the security there is the absolute worst, so don’t go there unless if you really need to.”
Beid warned Shin with a unpleasant expression.
It wasn’t particularly limited to this country; all large countries end up with similarly unpleasant places like those.
While following Beid and listening to him talk about the town, Shin also actively made observations about the town. When they were still in the industrial district, he saw a large diversity of people coming and going, but in the guild district he started seeing a lot of people wearing full-body armor or having large swords on their back.
Among them was a dragnil with a long sword that made Shin want to call out to him. According to Beid, it was a weapon from an island country in the eastern part of the continent called『Hinomoto』.
(T/N: ‘Hinomoto’ can be translated as ‘land of the sun.’ Incidentally, the common name for the Japanese flag is ‘hinomaru,’ which means ‘circle of the sun.’)
In the meantime, Shin and Beid had arrived at the Adventurers’ Guild. The building was significantly larger than its neighbors, and there was a signboard over the door with the picture of a sword and a spear crossed over a shield on it. Apparently, this was the front of the Adventurer’s Guild.
“My duty ends here. The rest is up to you.”
“Ahh, thanks for guiding me here.”
After seeing off Beid, who lightly waved his hand, Shin passed under the signboard.
Opening the door to the Adventurers’ Guild, he stepped in.
To the right of the door was the reception desk, and to the left was a tavern area. Straight down from the door in the front of the room was a bulletin board with an enormous number of requests stuck onto it.
Back during the game, the Adventurers’ Guild was where a lot of rowdy NPCs gathered, so that was the image that Shin had in mind when he entered. But not only was there not a single speck of dust to be seen, there was no angry shouting nor looks that sized him up when he came in.
At the tavern was a group of adventurers who’d apparently just finished a job and were enjoying a celebratory drink or two. It all looked very calm and normal.
Seeing the tavern, Shin started feeling a bit hungry too, but he decided to stop at the reception desk first and therefore walked to the right hand side.
“Welcome to the Adventurers’ Guild. How may we help you today?”
As Shin drew near, the girl behind the desk greeted him. She was a beauty with shoulder-length brown hair. As expected, a pretty girl matches best with the reception desk.
Incidentally, next to the girl was a large man about 2 mels in height with a scar on his face. It needs not be said that Shin took a slightly roundabout way to aim straight for the girl’s side.
“I wish to be registered as an adventurer.”
“For registration as an adventurer, please take the stairs on your left. In the second room there is a counter for filling out the particulars. If it is your first time registering, then a processing fee of 1 J silver coin will be charged. Is there anything else that I can help you with?”
“Oh, alright, I’m good. Thank you very much.”
Shin followed the receptionist’s instructions and went up the stairs. While thinking how there didn’t use to be any procedures to register back in the game, Shin went to the second room and opened the door. Inside, there were three tables lined up together, at one of which was a man receiving an explanation.
Shin walked towards the table in the middle.
“Excuse me, I’m here to register as an adventurer. Is this the place?”
“Ah, yes, this is the place.”
The receptionist who answered his question looked exactly the same as the receptionist at the front desk downstairs. The only difference was that the one in front of him right now was wearing a ponytail, but that was it.
“Is something the matter?”
“Nothing, it’s just that your face is the same as the lady at the reception desk downstairs.”
“That is my older sister. We’re twins, so we get mixed up a lot. Oops, sorry, you’re here for the registration, correct? I am the person in charge of that for the day, Silica Lindot. Yoroshiku onegaiitashimasu.”
“I’m Shin. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”
“The registration fee is 1 J silver coin, is that fine with you?”
He took out a J silver coin from his inventory. He had to disguise his movement so it felt a bit unnatural for himself, but Silica accepted the money without any indication of mistrust or suspicion.
“Please fill this in.”
The form that she held out had numerous fields, such as ‘name,’ ‘race,’ ‘main weapon,’ and whether the applicant could use magic or not.
“I have to fill in all of them?”
“No, the only fields that you are required to fill in are your name and race. It’s just that with more information, we will be better able to support you. As such, if it is not inconvenient for you then we would recommend that you fill in as much as you can. However, we will not coerce you to do so or give preferential treatment to those who do, so please rest assured on that point.”
Shin asked this because there was a field for ‘birthplace’ and he didn’t know what to write for it. Hearing that he could leave it blank without any problems, he filled out the rest of the form while leaving some fields blank here and there. Just in case, for ‘race’ he wrote ‘human.’
For ‘main weapon’ he wrote ‘katana,’ he ticked the box that said that he could use magic, and for age he added the year of the death game to his real age and wrote 21 on the form.
It’s a bit late to mention this, but the language on the form was Japanese. This must also be obvious by now, but the spoken language of the game was also Japanese. For Shin, it was a great help, as it made it easy for him to understand people. He had been slightly worried, as a lot of fantasy games used squiggly lines as their written language.
After he finished filling out the form, he returned it to Silica, who quickly looked over it.
“For confirmation, your name is Shin-sama, is that correct?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Well then, the necessary paperwork has been completed. Next, please drip a drop of your blood onto this card.”
So saying, she proffered a silver-colored card the size of a normal playing card and a needle.
Shin poked his finger with the needle and dripped a drop of blood onto the card. In a flash, the card soaked up the drop of blood like a sponge does to water.
“With this, all necessary procedures have been completed. It will take a day to process the card, so anytime after that feel free to come back to take it.”
Apparently, he couldn’t take it immediately.
“Would you like me to tell you about the guild?”
“First of all are the ranks. At the top of the list is SS, and after that is S, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G for a total of nine ranks. As Shin-sama has just become an adventurer, your current rank is G. When you fulfill requests you earn points, and when you reach a set amount you will be promoted to the next rank. Should you fail or abandon a request, the number of points to be rewarded will be taken from you instead, and you will also be required to pay a contract severance fee equal to double the amount of the promised reward. Should your points fall below a certain point, deranking would be possible, so please take special care. You may accept requests at most 2 ranks above your current rank. However, when you reach rank C or above, you can only accept requests at most 1 rank above yourself. Two or more people may get together to form a party. In such a case, the requests that they can accept would be decided based on the rank of the highest ranked member in the party. Depending on the case, it may even be possible for a party to accept a request 3 ranks above their highest ranked member.”
“What is the maximum party size?”
Shin asked for confirmation. Back during the game, the maximum party size was six.
“The maximum party size is six people. Requests requiring more than six people will be carried out in the form of a joint enterprise with several parties working together. These are often large scale requests or subjugation requests for particularly powerful monsters.”
It appears that the maximum party size was still the same. However, aside from subjugating boss monsters, it was previously not possible for multiple parties to take on the same request (back then, they were called ‘quests’) at the same time, so there seemed to be slight differences here and there.
“As for the requests, there are numerous different kinds, such as routine tasks, harvesting, subjugation, and protection. We provide support as needed here at the guild, but if you take on requests without going through the guild, we will not take any responsibility if any troubles occur, such as the difficulty of the request differing from the original description, you getting injured, or you dying.”
“What if I pick up a request from the guild but it turns out much harder than what it said on the request? For example, what if I go to fulfill a subjugation request but upon reaching the location I discover that it is much stronger than described?”
“In such cases, it is acceptable to abandon the quest. You will be required to report the details back to us, but you will not be penalized. We here a the guild try our best to vet all of the requests that involve danger of any sort, but unfortunately we are unable to thoroughly comprehend every single one, so please stay cautious all the time and do not let your guard down.”
It seems that even the guild cannot completely manage everything. It can’t be helped if their information network is still developing, thought Shin.
“We also offer to purchase the drops that you get from subjugating monsters. If it pleases you, please use our services. Next is—”
Silica’s introduction lasted about 20 minutes. However, Shin could not remember it all, so he planned to just come back and ask again if he came upon anything he didn’t know.
“—and that is all for information regarding the guild. As for the guild card, we will provide you with further information when you come back to pick it up. As such, all necessary procedures for the day have been completed. Do you have any other questions?”
“May I pick up a request immediately?”
“Your guild card will be the required to officially accept a request, therefore I am afraid that you will have to wait until it is processed first. As the card will also function as your entrance pass, we would recommend that you take the rest of today to check out the town and its sights.”
“Understood. I have no more questions.”
“Otsukaresama deshita. We will look forward to your conspicuous service, Shin-sama.”
(T/N: Otsukareta, its formal form otsukaresama, and its formal past tense form otsukaresama deshita all mean something between “you have worked hard” and “thank you for your hard work,” but the work done was not necessarily for the speaker. Again, I will be leaving this untranslated due to its multi-layered meaning.)
Shin bobbed his head in response to Silica’s beautiful bow and left the registration counter behind. Going down the stairs, he called out to the receptionist who had given him directions earlier.
“Thanks for just now.”
“It appears that you have safely finished the paperwork. Then once again, welcome to the Adventurers’ Guild. I am the one in charge of the procedures related to accepting requests, Selica Lindot. From now on,yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”
“I’m Shin. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu from now on. I heard that you are the elder sister of Silica-san from the registration counter.”
“So Silica was in charge of that today. Indeed, I am the elder sister of Silica. We’re twins though, so I don’t really often feel like an elder sister to her.”
“It really surprised me. I thought that you’d teleported or something.”
“There are those who go back looking like they’ve seen some strange wonder, like that person over there.”
Following the direction of Selica’s eyes, Shin saw a newbie adventurer leaving the guild who was tilting his head in confusion while staring at Selica. It was the guy who had been receiving the briefing next to Shin upstairs.
“We are often mistaken for each other even inside the guild. Shin-sama, please do not mistake us, alright?”
Though Selica was smiling at Shin while saying that, for a moment Shin felt a strong pressure emanating from her. She was smiling about how it troublesome it was but it probably actually bothered her.
“I-I will try my best ...... Ah, I have something to ask you, is that alright?”
Shin had originally called out to Selica because of what Beid had said about looking for Els. It didn’t necessarily have to be Selica, but the large man next to her was for some reason sending sidelong glances at Shin so he really did not want to talk to the man. More like, he didn’t even want to go near the man. He didn’t know the exact reason why, but his instincts were screaming alarm bells at him when it came to that man.
“Yes, please go ahead.”
“I heard that there’s an adventurer here called Els who also serves as a receptionist.”
From what he’d seen so far, the only receptionists present were Selica and the large man. Beid had called her a receptionist ‘lady’, so Shin prayed fervently in his heart that it wasn’t a joke where the punchline was that Els was actually the large man.
“Oh, Els? I’m very sorry, but Els is currently out on a request. If all goes well, she is expected to return today. Therefore, please ask for her again when you return tomorrow to pick up your guild card. If she is still not back by then, I’d be happy to pass a message to her in your stead.”
It appears that he had come at an inopportune time. Being an adventurer, it made sense that she would not always be at the guild.
Shin kind of felt like he’d already used up his share of luck for the day, so he didn’t mind being asked to come back again tomorrow.
“Understood. I’ll come again tomorrow.”
Selica slightly nodded her head in acknowledgment. Shin then went over to the tavern side, as his stomach was nearly empty enough to start growling.
Aside from the group of adventurers who were still celebrating, there were a few other customers at the tavern. Their average levels were somewhere around 90.
Once he sat down at an empty seat, he took a look at the menu. However, although the menu was indeed written in Japanese, he wasn’t familiar with the names of the dishes, so he had no idea what to order. In the end, he decided to just go with the recommended set of the day.
“The recommended set of the day, Shin-sama?”
“Ah, ye ...... s ...... ???”
Shin turned around at the what the waitress said. Why does she know my name, he thought, until he saw the waitress’s face. Understanding and bewilderment settled on his face at the same time.
It was because the waitress was the person that he’d just finished talking to, Selica.
“Umm ...... you were at the reception desk just now, weren’t you?”
“You weren’t wearing that outfit when you were talking to me, right?”
“Yes, I was wearing the guild uniform when I was at the reception desk.”
“You got changed?”
“Wasn’t that way too fast? More like, why are you waitressing?”
“It’s normal to change this fast. When there’s nothing to do at the reception desk I help out over on this side.”
Shin really wanted to retort, “No way that’s normal!” but he didn’t say it out loud. It had only been three minutes between him leaving the reception desk and him ordering food. He couldn’t help thinking that it was impossible.But then again, Shin was weird too for taking three minutes to order.
Being distracted by Selica’s appearance, Shin didn’t notice that the food had come after only one minute. The set of the day turned out to be a steak about 3 cemels thick, a salad of raw vegetables, and a soup. It was not food that could have been made in such a short period of time.
When Shin looked over at the reception desk, he saw that there was only the large man left. He silently thanked the heavens that he didn’t need to go to the desk now.
“Here you go, please enjoy the food. If you let it go cold, it’d be pitiful for the food that we’d made, so please dig in!”
“Alright. Without further ado, itadakimasu.”
(T/N: Itadakimasu is said at the beginning of meals. It is an expression of thanks for the food, but not specifically to anyone. You could direct it to the person who cooked it if they are eating together with you, though.)
Shin started eating. For some reason, Selica took the seat in front of him.
(What is up with this development ......)
Shin couldn’t help thinking that it was hard to eat. Being stared at while eating made him somehow quite uncomfortable.
The steak melted in his mouth, gushing with juices as he chewed it. The salad was also very crispy and fresh, while the soup with well-boiled chicken also came out rather well.
Despite all this, the atmosphere was ruined. He couldn’t properly enjoy the meal.
“Is it fine to be leaving all the other customers unattended, waitress Selica-san?”
“The other waitresses are taking care of them so there’s no problem.”
She really did intend to stay, it seems.
“It’s kind of hard to eat while being looked at, you know.”
“Please don’t mind me.”
“No, that’s impossible ......”
He was rebuffed with a bright smile. But there was no way he could not mind her staring, even if she told him so. His discomfort did not go away.
“Haa, seriously what is this? Is this the hazing for the new guy?”
“To be honest, there is a small matter that I wish to confirm with you.”
“Then please say so from the very beginning, I beg you.”
“Before confirming, I also wanted to see what kind of person Shin-sama was.”
Shin didn’t feel like he’d gone through any particular testing or examination. The only feeling that he got was that he was being messed with.
“So, what is it that you wanted to confirm?”
While responding, Selica slightly lowered her voice.
“We received a report that Shin-sama was in possession of a letter of introduction from a certain place, so we wish to confirm that.”
Speaking of letters of introduction, only one came to Shin’s mind. Apparently, it had turned into a bigger matter than he’d expected.
“You’re talking about that one? It’s true that I have it.”
“Would you mind if we confirm it in a separate room?”
“After I finish eating, sure. But if it’s a face-to-face with the guildmaster, then I’d like to decline.”
Shin had said it as a joke, but instead of laughing, Selica became very quiet. Rather, her eyes seemed to shift suspiciously.
“...... I’d really prefer to decline, though.”
“...... My deepest apologies. I have been ordered to bring you.”
“I am serious.”
Shin accidentally used casual speech to confirm his predicament. Thinking “I’ve just registered today, why do I already have to meet the most important person here” to himself, Shin became despondent and dropped his shoulders.
“...... I can’t do it tomorrow?”
The first day here in this parallel world and already so many events. Shin sighed inside and tried to push the meeting to tomorrow.
“I am deeply sorry again, but he is already here ......”
So saying, Selica looked directly behind Shin.
It meant that the guildmaster was already behind Shin.
(I reeeeaallly don’t want to turn around!!!)
He knew that there was someone sitting behind himself, but he never imagined that it was the guildmaster. With that said, though, there was no point in putting up this meaningless resistance, so he slowly turned to look behind.
The person standing behind Shin was completely beyond his expectations.
“ I’m sorry that we’re doing this while you’re eating, but I came over myself. I couldn’t stand waiting anymore, see.”
The person going “ha ha ha” was the large man from the reception desk just now.
The one who was giving Shin sidelong glances.
The one that Shin’s instincts were screaming warning bells about.
In other words, it was that large man.
“Wha-It was YOU?!?!”
There was no way Shin could have the presence of mind to use honorifics.
“Well you see, after getting the report, I really couldn’t help wanting to meet you.”
Apparently completely not bothered by the lack of honorifics, the large man who turned out to be the guildmaster laughed while speaking.
“Balkus-sama, if it was possible, I would have preferred it if you had waited a little bit longer.”
“Come on, go easy on me. I can’t help being curious. You’re Shin-kun, right? I’m called Balkus. I’m sorry, but would you mind coming to my room for a bit?”
It appears that the guildmaster’s name was Balkus. Shin was surprised, because his mental image of a guildmaster was of someone quite a lot older. From his observation, this guildmaster was somewhere between 35 to 45. The huge scar on his face and his large body coupled together for a pretty intimidating image. However, he came across as a really friendly person, so the effectiveness of that intimidation was halved.
However, his 228 levels placed him way above everyone that Shin had met so far.
“Haa, look, I don’t mind, but please just let me eat in peace, at least.”
“Of course! It was our fault for suddenly approaching you. Well then, I’ll be waiting!”
So saying, Balkus went into a room at the back.
“The guildmaster is pretty young, huh. I had honestly expected someone a lot older. Ah, I didn’t mean someone just simply old, I meant someone who had accumulated a lot of experience.”
Shin’s mental image of an old man came from games and novels. After he said it out loud, though, he realized that it could be taken in the wrong way, so he tried to clarify his choice of words.
“I understand. What you are saying is actually not uncommon. In reality, most guildmasters in other cities are people with a lot more years behind them. However, Balkus-sama was an S rank adventurer before, so he is definitely not inferior to the other guildmasters in terms of experience and personal connections.”
“A former S ranker, huh.”
Shin was still ignorant about a lot of things in this world, but he could roughly guess how hard it must have been to reach S rank. Judging from his level, Shin guessed that he must be a relatively strong fighter.
He finished eating while thinking this.
Feeling the stares of people who had gathered from the guildmaster’s appearance, Shin followed Selica to the area behind the reception desk.
There were several rooms in the area behind the desk. The room that Shin was led to apparently also doubled as a parlor, as it was furnished with not only a desk and shelves but also a table and something that looked like a sofa. Though he he wasn’t yet familiar enough with the prices of this world to place a numerical value on the furnishings, they all gave off the atmosphere of first-class goods. The overall arrangement was quite harmonious, as expected.
“Once more, welcome to the Adventurers’ Guild. Please pardon our discourtesy back there. I am the guildmaster, Balkus Heim.”
As Shin and Selica entered the room, Balkus introduced himself and held out his right hand.
“I’m Shin. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”
While Shin was naming himself, he also held out his right hand. The hand that he grasped was hard and rugged, with strength that was truly befitting of a warrior.
“Please, take a seat.”
Balkus gestured towards the sofa, so Shin sat on the sofa. With perfect timing, Silica and Selica offered them tea.
“Shin-kun. I’m sorry for getting straight to the point, but may we have a look at your letter of introduction from Tsuki no Hokora?”
“Here it is.”
Shin took it out of his inventory and passed it to Balkus. Balkus took the letter and brought it close to another piece of paper. When he did, a silver light in the pattern of a crescent moon shone from both of them.
“This is ......”
“Letters of introduction from Tsuki no Hokora are a bit unique. When two of them are in close proximity to each other, they resonate and this crest appears. In other words, your letter is indeed the real thing.”
From what Balkus was saying, it appears that there were other ways to confirm the authenticity of the letter. However, at the moment, there was no way to create a forgery that could pass this test.
“To think that it had such a function ......”
Even while surprised at this function, it couldn’t be helped that Shin was hoping that someone had told him about it beforehand.
“You didn’t hear about this?”
“I was just handed it while being told that it was an extra service.”
“Extra service ...... was the one who gave this to you Schnee? Or was it Tiera-kun?”
“It was Tiera. Schnee was apparently out.”
“So it was Tiera-kun. Something major must have happened for her to forget, but her eye for people is true. I’ve also seen many people in my time, but I have never known her to be wrong.”
“She’s so good that we’d actually love to scout her,” said Balkus with a laugh.
Being released from a hundred-year-long curse generally falls into the category of major incidents, so it was understandable that she forgot in the midst of everything that was going on.
Her eye for people must have been trained from all those years.
Thinking of years, a chill ran down Shin’s spine.
For some reason, the image of Tiera burning holes into his back with her smile and her air of intimidation floated into Shin’s mind.
(Let’s stop thinking about years, I have a feeling that I might lose my life if I think too much about it ......)
All he got from it was a very bad sense of foreboding, so he decided to stop thinking about it.
“? Is something the matter?”
“No, everything’s fine.”
“Is that so. Well then, let’s return to our original topic, as we seem to have digressed a bit.”
So saying, Balkus corrected his posture. Apparently, the conversation from now on was the main topic.
“As it seems that you did not get a proper explanation in regards to the letter of introduction, I will now tell you about it. With this letter, you can get into almost every single country without having to be searched. Each guild would also be willing to accommodate you to some degree. Any information that you offer will be accepted as pretty much confirmed truth. You are able to request an audience with the kings of several countries, including Berylricht Kingdom. In a way, there is no ID more powerful than this letter.”
It’s not that he was doubting it, but it seems that what Beid had said was indeed the truth. He didn’t know about the guilds and the information, but generally it was all extraordinary and exceptional.
“This letter is of such efficacy. Naturally, once it is known that you hold this, there will be those who’ll show up to steal this from you.”
“I can see that happening, yes.”
There are people who would have no qualms about using smuggling, terrorism, or assassination for such a powerful item. Criminals and criminal organizations would probably spare no expense to get their hands on it.
“Therefore, we want to know if you have the strength to protect that letter or not. If not, then we recommend that you shred that letter right here and now.”
Shin weighed the pros and cons of keeping the letter.
The pro was the ease of travel between countries. It would also be much easier to gain the trust of different countries.
The con was that his life would be targeted if it was leaked that he had the letter.
At the very least, the pros were things that Shin didn’t necessarily need at the moment. From the introduction of the guild earlier, he knew that he would be able to get into countries with relative ease just by having the guild card. Also, he preferred to enter countries quietly without getting mixed up in high level troublesome situations.
On the other hand, it would be very helpful to have on hand something that could guarantee his social status when such a situation arises.
In regards to the cons, though, at least all of the townsguards already know, and probably some people who were in the line at the time also caught a glimpse. On top of that, the guild also knows. He decided that he should just assume that the word was already out.
(All I have to do is keep it inside my inventory in the『Important Things』zone and only take it out when I really have to.)
Tiera had also said that the number of people with an inventory was extremely limited. He highly doubted that there was currently anyone who knew how to steal things from the『Important Things』zone, given that even the members of Rokuten couldn’t do it.
As such, even if he later claimed to not have the letter anymore, there was no way for other people to check.
“I can protect it.”
After thinking for a while, this was the conclusion that he had arrived at.
“So that is what you’ve decided.”
“You won’t regret it?”
“I will not. I now know the meaning of this letter, and I also know how a single wrong move might easily cost the store its reputation. However, the importance of this letter also tells me how much faith the store has in me. In that case, I must live up to their faith in me.”
Shin answered with a confident laugh.
Indeed, without even needing to think about the pros and cons, the answer was already clear from the start.
Depending on the person, Shin’s answer might come across as having too
little consideration for the possibility of death, but the truth was that Shin’s life had been targeted more than just once or twice. Back during the death game era, he had lived through assassinations and ambushes and now has plenty of experience in dealing with them.
What he chose not to learn from them was their intentions.
“Fuu, that was a great answer. As expected of a holder of this letter.”
“Thank you, but it wasn’t really that great.”
“It’s not good to be too modest. You took a while to answer, but there was no confusion in you.”
“How did you know that?”
It seems that the guildmaster had seen through Shin. He was truly not a person to be underestimated.
“Fumu, I want to know just for reference, but what is your level? I know that I’m the one saying this, but I have lived through quite a lot of battlefields. I can already tell that you possess quite considerable strength.”
As expected of a former S rank. He apparently possessed the ability to gauge how powerful other people were even without using a skill.
“...... Do I really have to tell you?”
“As a guild, we do want to have a certain amount of understanding about how strong our adventurers are. Most adventurers at least tell us a certain range of “between this and this” if they don’t want to mention their exact level. On our part, we would also like to prevent lower level adventurers from taking on requests beyond their level.”
He wasn’t just asking out of curiosity, it seems.
Knowing someone’s level would also allow a rough estimation of their strength. He was probably not asking just for himself, but on behalf of the whole guild.
“Understood. My level is above 150.”
“Fumu. Shin-kun, as I said before, being too modest is not good.”
When Shin answered, Balkus frowned slightly. As expected, giving out a number more than 100 levels lower could only come across as a lie.
“Do I really have to?”
“Yes you do. The number that you said just now was much lower than your real one, right?”
Having heard that the kingdom’s No. 2 was only level 158, Shin had intended to gloss over by giving a similar number, but it had apparently failed.
“I’m surprised you could tell even without using【Analyze】.”
“I’m not a guildmaster for nothing. I’ve seen enough adventurers to know.”
“Haa, can’t help it then. My level is above 200.”
Even after all the cajoling, Shin still refused to give his exact level. Thinking “how about this?”, he upped the number by 50 in one go.
At this new number, Balkus smiled in admiration. Even Selica, who was standing by the wall, couldn’t help expressing her surprise.
“Is it that surprising? (I’m still kind of fudging the number, though.)”
Shin thought, “You’re above level 200 too!” However, Balkus didn’t take it that way.
“Just in case, we would like to confirm again, but your age is indeed 21 years old, is that correct?”
“Someone as young as you reaching beyond level 200 is rarely heard of. You could perhaps even fight on an equal footing with the country’s No. 1.”
So 150 was too low, but 200 was apparently too high.
“What level is the No. 1 person?”
“230. It’s the country’s 2nd princess.”
“Are you serious ......”
(It’s the princess who’s strong? More like, she’s even stronger than the Squad Leader of the Elite Squad?)
It was so completely beyond his expectations that he could do nothing but be amazed. He had thought that the kingdom’s No. 1 would be the king or a prince or at least one of the royal personal guards. Never in his wildest dreams did he expect it to be a princess.
“Isn’t there too much of a gap against the Knights Order? I heard from Tiera that the Squad Leader of the Elite Squad was only level 158.”
“Squad Leader of the Elite Squad? Oh, you’re talking about the Knights Order. His level has gone up to 188 by now. Tiera-kun’s information is from quite a while back, she must not have heard.”
“The princess’s level is still much higher.”
“The 2nd princess belongs to the martial faction, that’s why. She often shows her face around town too, so she’s quite popular.”
“Is it safe for a member of the royal family to frequently walk out onto the streets?”
“Run-of-the-mill thugs wouldn’t last even a second against her.”
So the country’s strongest wasn’t just for show. From what he was hearing, it sounds like there were indeed people who could defeat Tiera’s Horn Dragon.
“Well then, Shin-kun. There is actually one last thing that we wish to confirm with you, may we?”
“...... It would depend on what it is.”
Shin felt a huge sense of foreboding.
“It’s quite simple a matter, really. I just want to have a match with you.”
“I’m sorry, may I leave now?”
“I’m afraid you can’t.”
“What about my rights???”
“Sadly, you do not have the right to refuse.”
A flat refusal from Balkus. Shin thought it was probably to test his real power. He knew from experience that having a high level does not necessarily mean being strong in a fight.
“I somehow knew that this was coming.”
“Sorry about that. Both for the guild and for myself, we would like the confirmation. No, scratch that, we must have the confirmation.”
Shin had the “my sense of foreboding was right” look on his face.
Even back when Balkus was giving him sidelong glances at the reception desk, all he felt from Balkus’s eyes was a desire to fight.
Shin was a bit disgruntled at not being given a choice, but it was also true that Shin wanted to test the strength of one of this world’s so-called S rankers. From Balkus’s expression, Shin guessed that Balkus himself wanted the fight, but it was for the guild’s sake that he was not given a choice.
It would be easy to insist on his refusal, but the unnecessary antagonism might lead to problems in using his letter of introduction in the future.
“...... Fine, alright. It’s not like I don’t understand the reassurance from a personal assessment.”
Now that the general public knows that he is in possession of this letter of introduction, if the word about his strength was also publicized then there would be fewer idiots coming after him. Shin left this thought unsaid, though.
“Where will we have it?”
“There is a training hall only for guild members. Let’s have it there. Do you need any time for preparation?”
“Nope, I’m ready to go at any time.”
“Then let’s head over right now.”
Following Balkus through a passageway brought Shin to a room about as big as the one before. In this room, however, there wasn’t a single piece of furnishing aside from a crystal the size of a soccer ball that was floating in the middle of the room.
It was a transfer point. Shin had seen it many times inside the game.
“The training hall is underground, you see. We can get there through this transfer point.”
So transfer points had remained the same. Just like back in the game, all one has to do is to touch it and focus on it, and then the transfer will automatically happen.
The destination of the transfer turned out to be a pretty large area that was built like a coliseum. One could train in the middle of the open area or stay in the bleachers for a break or to watch and learn from other adventurers.
“There’s no one here. Is it always like this?”
“No, it is because this is the 2nd training hall, which we use only for special occasions like right now. Most adventurers train in the 1st training hall. In the first place, no one can use this place without permission, so outsiders can’t wander into here.”
“So that’s how it is.”
The subtle message was “there was no one around, so feel free to go all out.” It was a great help to Shin, who didn’t want to stand out.
“Well then, let’s begin.”
So saying, Balkus’s body became enveloped in blue light. A mere second later, the light was gone, revealing Balkus standing ready with blue light armor and a pair of blue gauntlets on his arms. The blue light armor looked like it was made with ease of movement in mind, with the armored parts even thinner than normal light armor. In contrast, the gauntlets were wrapped with thick armor and covered his elbows to his fingers.
Back during the game, armor for the hands were split into the Japanesetekkou [handguards] and the Western kote [gauntlets]. They weren’t all that different, but usually handguards provided AGI bonuses while gauntlets provided VIT bonuses. Balkus was probably wearing gauntlets to compensate for his thinner armor.
【Analyze】had told Shin that Balkus’s job was Brawler, so he wasn’t surprised. However, he was surprised at the way that Balkus had put on his equipment. It made Shin think of the transformation scenes from sentai shows.
In THE NEW GATE, when putting on equips, there was a line of light that traced the shape of the item before it materialized. The game apparently used that time to read the user’s physique and make necessary adjustments to the equipment’s size. As such, the flashy transformation scene like what Balkus just showed did not yet exist back then.
“............ (Wait, did he have items on him?)”
“What’s the matter?”
Shin didn’t know if Balkus’s transformation scene was normal or not by this world’s standards, so he decided to not comment on it.
For Shin’s side, he didn’t really have anything to put on. When facing monsters his usual worry was how much to limit his own power, so he didn’t particularly need to use a weapon.
“Well then, here I come!!”
The moment Balkus said that, his figure blurred. The distance between the two of them was about 10 mels, but in an instant Balkus had already covered 5 mels. He lunged forward in a straight line towards Shin.
“His equips are good, and he’s pretty fast.”
Originally, a human without the bonus stats from reincarnation would not have been able to reach such speeds. Shin noticed that it was Balkus’s equipment that was making this possible.
Eluding a lunge fast enough to make the wind keen, Shin checked what Balkus was wearing.
The light armor was called【Blue Crystal Light Armor】, and the gauntlets were called【Blue Fang Gauntlets】. There was probably no mistake, because Shin had handled them before through his shop.
“You’re wearing some pretty good stuff!”
“I worked! Hard! To get! Them!”
Shin pulled a wry face as he continued dodging Balkus’s torrent of punches.
【Blue Crystal Light Armor】was a Rare armament with very significant AGI bonuses.
【Blue Fang Gauntlets】was a Unique weapon that increased attack power and also had a special effect. One of the materials needed to craft it was the fang from Blue Mitt Hound, a level 600 unique monster that was slightly troublesome to handle in a close-quarters fight.【Blue Fang Gauntlets】was very highly sought after by high level players who specialized in Unarmed-Type Martial Skills.
“I suppose you wouldn’t let me hit you so easily, huh.”
“After all I said, of course.”
Becoming cautious of the Shin who had been easily eluding all of his attacks so far, Balkus let up his attack and retreated a short distance. He laughed wryly while speaking, but his eyes were still sharply sizing up Shin.
Even when Balkus was retreating, Shin did not proactively go on the offensive. It was because he was being wary of the effect on【Blue Fang Gauntlets】.
That effect was【When successfully blocking an attack with the gauntlets, return 1/10 of the damage that would have been dealt back to the attacker】. For the effect to activate, the attack must be a physical attack and the attacker must have directly touched the gauntlet, so the aim of the effect was to slowly wear down the other party.
There was also one more restriction to the activation of the effect: if the STR of the attacker was more than 100 above that of the person wearing the gauntlet, then it will also not activate. Shin didn’t want the gauntlet to activate not because it would be dealing any significant damage to himself, but because he didn’t want Balkus to know that his STR was actually more than 100 points higher.
(Since it’s his own equipment, he probably knows everything about it. It would be really suspicious to claim a similar level to him but turn out to have more than 100 STR points than him. To prevent any more troublesome inquiries, I have to finish this fight with a single attack.)
Even though he was the guildmaster, Shin had no intention of telling him everything. He had already been exposed as a pretty powerful person, so he went easy on Balkus, hoping for an average evaluation that wouldn’t reveal more about his strength. He deliberated on his course of action while handling the barrage from Balkus.
“What are you thinking about?”
“You’re strong, so I’m thinking about how to attack you.”
“From the way you were fighting just now, it appears that you know about my gauntlets. There aren’t that many people who do, though.”
“Whatever might you be talking about?”
Even while exchanging light banter, Shin continued to think.
From their exchange so far, Shin gathered that Balkus’s way of fighting was to rely on a steady stream of attacks. As a Brawler, the range of his attacks was very short, but as a result they were that much faster, so it could be said that this was the only style available to Balkus. The problem was that【Blue Crystal Light Armor】was increasing his speed even more, making it hard for Shin to win while still going easy.
(It’s just the gauntlets that are problematic ...... Let’s try this, then.)
After confirming the skills that he could use, Shin adopted a stance.
Balkus noticed the movement, but before he could react, Shin stepped forward.
Leaving behind an afterimage, Shin rushed at Balkus.
Where Shin had been standing before, all that was left was pieces of broken earth that were still flying in midair.
Shin lunged forward with his right fist, covering the distance between them in one breath. It was an honest straight punch without any feints, purposely delivered at a speed at which Balkus could barely block. Reflexively, Balkus adopted a defensive posture.
Having manipulated Balkus to where he wanted, Shin began his strategy.
The fist flying towards the Balkus in defensive posture stopped the instant right before it touched Balkus’s gauntlet, and Shin used his left foot to trip Balkus instead.
Immediately, Balkus tried to move to the left to lessen the damage, but the knowledge that there was a fist flying towards him dulled his reaction by a fraction.
Due to the high speed tripping attack, Balkus’s body was now in midair.
The effect of【Blue Fang Gauntlets】doesn’t activate when the attack isn’t blocked by it, so by attacking other parts of the body there would be no need to worry about it.
Shin grabbed a gauntlet on the now defenseless Balkus and in a flash activated the Unarmed-Type Martial Skill【Yanagi Nage [Willow Throw]】.
【Yanagi Nage】was a skill with very low damage used for capturing monsters, so there was no need to worry about dealing a fatal wound with this skill. Due to this, Shin used it without hesitation.
Due to【Yanagi Nage】, Balkus’s body formed a perfect circle in midair before slamming into the ground without giving him time to even perform an ukemi. As a finishing move, Shin locked his joints, rendering him unable to move.
“Fuu~. For starters, how about that?”
Shin asked this only after confirming that Balkus really couldn’t move. If they had the same stats, though, there was no way that the fight could have been decided so quickly.
“To think that I could be immobilized so easily. Strangely though, I didn’t take much damage. Was that last technique a skill?”
“No comment on that. It’s just that your intentions were a bit too obvious, so I took advantage of that.”
“Haha, so that’s how it was. It’s my loss. I have indeed witnessed your strength. It appears that my worries have been for nothing.”
Having been freed from the lock, Balkus stood up and held out his right hand towards Shin.
“I shook your hand earlier as the guildmaster. This handshake is as fellow men acknowledged by Tsuki no Hokora.”
Shin squeezed back with a nod. Even though it was the same hand, it somehow felt different.
“If you ever need anything, just give us a shout. Both the guild and I myself will do all we can to help you.”
“Are you sure about that? Showing partiality to a member?”
“Not a problem. The guild will help you as a rank G adventurer, but I will be merely lending a hand to a personal friend.”
So Balkus was offering help not as toward a member of his guild, but as toward a personal friend. The implication was that being under the guild, he could not provide any excessive aid. Of course, this was a given, as Balkus was the head of the guild, so Shin fully understood.
When they returned to the room through the transfer point, Selica was there on standby. With an “otsukaresama desu,” she offered potions to the two of them.
Shin declined it, as he had taken no damage, but since there would be no harm in taking it, under Balkus’s insistence he accepted it.
“I will be looking forward to your exploits as an adventurer. Until our next meeting!”
Leaving Balkus behind, Shin followed Selica through the passageway back to the main hall.
“How was the match with Balkus-sama?”
“It was quite hard. I sincerely don’t want to go through it again.”
It was a bit awkward to walk in silence, so Selica brought up the topic of the match with Balkus. She was a bit curious about it, as they had finished quicker than she had expected.
All she had said when they came back, though, was only the expected “otsukaresama.”
“It really doesn’t happen that often, so I think you’ll be fine.”
“I feel like I’m going to get invited back as a sparring partner for training ......”
Shin sighed, thinking that he didn’t want to have to face off against the guildmaster again, even as practice. From Selica’s point of view, Shin did not look like someone beyond level 200 (who has actually reached the max level of 255).
A lot of high level adventurers differed from normal people in that there was a powerful air of intimidation surrounding them. Even though she met such people often due to her job, there are still many who make her body tense up when they are near. However, she felt no such thing from the Shin who was even now sighing with his shoulders slightly dropped. Rather, she felt a mysterious sense of security from him.
(What a mysterious person ......)
Whilst Selica was thinking this, the two of them had arrived back at the main hall.
“Otsukaresama deshita for everything today. As for the guild card, you may come retrieve it anytime from tomorrow onwards, so please feel free to return after having a thorough rest.”
“I’ll do that. Ah, if it’s alright with you, could you please recommend an inn to me? I’ve just arrived today, so I don’t really know anything about the town yet.”
Shin asked with nothing to lose. He hung his head in embarrassment for not knowing anything about the inns. However, he really didn’t want to end up staying at a bad quality inn for his first night.
“In that case, then I think you would find The Badger’s Pavilion from the residential district quite agreeable. The food there is delicious, so I am sure you will like it. If you turn right onto the road in front of the guild and then go straight, you will eventually come across a signboard with a bear’s paw drawn onto it. That sign marks where the inn is.”
“Understood. The Badger’s Pavilion it is. Thank you so much!”
(T/N: I don’t know why the manga calls the inn The Bear’s Den. I’m using zKanji, and it tells me that 穴熊亭 is not a word, but that separately 穴熊 is “1) badger 2) Eurasian badger (Meles meles) 3) defensive opening for shogi” while 亭 is “arbor, bower, pavilion.” Thus I will be going with ‘The Badger’s Pavilion.’)
Shin felt a tinge of worry at knowing only the name ‘The Badger’s Pavilion,’ but it was enough for him that it was Selica making the recommendation.
After thanking Selica, he left the guild.
Thinking carefree thoughts like “I hope a bear doesn’t come out!”, Shin set off in search of the inn.