The Black Priestess Shrine guildhouse, on the island country of Hinomoto.
Inside Tsuki no Hokora, which had been materialized in a woodland area within the guildhouse’s premises, Shin narrated his past.
About the days before the Dusk of Majesty, when this world was still the death game, when — even if for the sake of protecting innocent people — he committed countless PKs — murders.
Tiera slowly inhaled a deep breath after hearing Shin’s story.
“It’s something in the past now. ‘Oh, so that’s what happened, okay’. You can just see it like that if you want.”
Shin’s smile did not hide any shadows.
Everything would be OK.
With this conviction in mind, Tiera nodded.
“Could it be that what possessed me before was your former lover, Marino?”
The night before, Tiera had performed a ritual dance similar to the Japanese Kagura. The spirit that had taken over her body at the time housed a deep affection for Shin.
There couldn’t be many people with such deep feelings for him.
“It’s possible but….I don’t know. You snapped out of it before I could tell.”
While talking to Tiera about his past, Shin also realized that it could have been Marino.
“Aah, honestly, I don’t appreciate things like that being done through my body though.”
Tiera probably remembered the kiss as she hid her mouth with her right hand, her cheeks flushing a bit.
“Er….next time, I’ll do my best to dodge.”
Even if he had been entranced by something else, Shin felt guilty about kissing Tiera against her will.
“Er, well, I too want to know who it was that possessed me, okay? So, well, if it happens again, it’s okay to prioritize finding out who they are, you know!”
Since it was possible for it to be someone connected to Shin’s past, Tiera probably said that out of concern for him. Her words and behavior were very contradictory, but Shin chose to think that was her reasoning.
“While I’m thankful to hear that, wouldn’t you hate it if it happened again?”
“You don’t have to worry! It could happen when I’m doing priestess things too!! A-and besides…”
Tiera’s words stopped.
She held her hands together and looked around, visibly fidgeting.
“I-It’s nothing. Really nothing, so forget all about it.”
Tiera mumbled something, but in the end cut off the conversation without saying anything clearly.
The sun was already high in the sky, indicating that it was almost noon.
Tiera held her still blushing cheeks to cool them off and hurriedly said that it was time to eat lunch, thus forcibly changing the topic.
“That’s right, they’ll probably call us soon.”
Shin felt that it would have been better not to press the matter further, and agreed to Tiera’s proposal.
They both stood from their chairs and exited Tsuki no Hokora. Tiera, who was walking ahead of Shin, suddenly turned around.
“Thank you for telling me such a painful story, Shin.”
“No need to thank me. Pretty boring, wasn’t it?”
“Not at all. I’m glad I could know more about you.”
Tiera replied with a smile.
She did not regret learning about Shin’s past. Her expression stated that clearly.
“Actually, that scene from my past that you saw…I used to see it often in my dreams.”
“Your mother’s memory?”
“Yes. The time when I first met you too, I would dream about it sometimes. Every time, I would get awful headaches and feel depressed for the whole day.”
Tiera spoke while looking up at the sky as they walked towards Black Priestess Shrine’s guildhouse. Shin had returned Tsuki no Hokora to its compressed form.
“But ever since I received that from you, I haven’t had that dream anymore.”
“You know, this.”
Tiera then took out the Geyl coin from her robe that Shin had given her when they first met. The coin reflected the sunlight and sparkled vividly.
“I feel at peace when I hold this. Maybe because there’s your magic power inside.”
Shin looked intently at the coin and noticed that it indeed had the same aura as the items inside his item box.
“It isn’t supposed to have an effect like that, but I’m happy if it’s useful to you…why don’t we make it into a pendant? So you don’t risk losing it.”
Tiera kept the Geyl coin in a small pocket with metal fastenings.
It was also very valuable in this world, after all. Shin thought that the more closely it could be kept, the better, so he made that suggestion.
“That would be a great help, but is it alright?”
“We can do it in a flash. After all, metal forging is my strong suit.”
“Please do so, then.”
Shin stopped, took an Orichalcum ingot from the item box and, as if molding a lump of clay, quickly shaped it into a chain. He then took the coin from Tiera, molded the Orichalcum around it, fixed it to the chain and finished the pendant.
“Oh, could you make the chain longer, please?”
“Longer than this? How much?”
Shin increased the chain’s length as Tiera requested, even though he felt that it had become too long to wear the pendant around the neck.
“Did you really want it this long?”
“Yes, that’s right. Most people would think it was a fake, but experienced people could tell that it’s real. I need the chain this long so that other people can’t see the coin. If it’s here, no one can see it as long as they don’t come close to my face and peek, right?”
Tiera then leaned forward a bit and pulled down the neck of her shirt to show Shin the coin’s position.
No matter how much he knew it was not right, Shin’s gaze was drawn to Tiera’s cleavage. The Geyl coin, attached to the long chain, was nestled right in the middle.
“I-I see. That’s why you needed it that long.”
“Yes, that’s….s-see? If someone comes this close I can react, right!?”
Finally realizing that the stance she had taken put her bosom in full view, Tiera hurriedly stepped back. Her cheeks flared red again.
She seemed shaken and quickly looked all around to make sure that no one else had seen them.
“Sure, that much is nothing.”
The two started walking again. Soon enough, they met Schnee and Yuzuha, who were also headed to the guildhouse, and joined them.
“Did you finish talking with Kuchinashi?”
“Yes, I’ll tell everyone when we are with Filma and the others. Looks like there’s new trouble brewing.”
The enemies the Black Priestess Shrine’s guildmaster, Kuchinashi, talked about, the Seven Deadly Sins, grew more powerful as the event progressed. Their location was currently unknown, but it would be better to defeat them as soon as possible.
Thinking that it was better to also have the Golden Company research their whereabouts, Shin decided to send a message card.
When Shin’s group arrived at the guildhouse they found Filma and Shibaid with Oodenta Mitsuyo and Onimaru Kunitsuna, two of the Five Supreme Blades, already sitting at the lunch table.
“Sorry for the wait, the talks went on longer than expected.”
Shin apologized to the slightly irritated Mitsuyo. She had let him and Tiera have time alone, so he was thankful for that.
“Lord Shin, as you can see she is feigning a lack of interest, but Mitsuyo has been fidgeting all this time, wondering when you would come back.”
Kunitsuna, an excited grin on her face, looked as if she were positively enjoying herself as she made her report.
“Hey, Kunitsuna!? What are you even saying now!?”
“Did I say something wrong? It’s rare to see the proud Mitsuyo all restless like that after all.”
Kunitsuna probably hit where it hurt. Even while glaring at her, Mitsuyo’s eyes darted towards Shin.
“No, nothing at all. Let’s eat, first of all.”
Mitsuyo looked like she was blushing: her glare was thus not scary at all, but Shin felt that poking her further would prove dangerous, and decided to leave it alone.
“Do any of you have any plans for the rest of the day? Kuchinashi told me something interesting, so I’d like to let you all know too.”
Shin proposed discussing the Seven Deadly Sins, to which all present agreed.
After the meal, the whole group assembled in the room assigned to Shin.
“…..the Seven Deadly Sins, hmm. Clearly they can’t be ignored, but there’s not much we can do until they are found, is it.”
“Agreed. 500 years ago, the players used human wave tactics and somehow pulled through. Our group doesn’t even have 10 members, we just don’t have enough manpower for that.”
After hearing what Shin had to say, Schnee and Filma replied: the former with a very serious expression, the latter while shrugging.
When Shin said that he already requested the Golden Company to search for the monsters, the group agreed to wait for a reply.
“So there are creatures like that in this world…”
Mitsuyo seemed impressed to learn of the existence of such monsters, to which Shin replied brightly.
“We’ve never seen their final forms, though. Though considering Fuji’s fighting power, I’m sure it’ll be alright as long as a pack of final forms doesn’t gather.”
“If the Five Supreme Blades are together, it would take a really tough enemy to take us down, yes.”
Mitsuyo and the other Blades, like Kagutsuchi of the sacred mountain Fuji, were treated as boss monsters in the game. Because of this, both their stats and HP were much higher than the players.
They surpassed the players’ max values of 9999 by far, so if they fought together, even raid bosses would be felled.
Now that Kunitsuna and Dojigiri Yasutsuna had returned, their defenses could be said to be perfect.
“Tomorrow, if nothing else comes up, we’ll go back to Fuji. The earlier you’re all back together, the better, I’m sure.”
Shin was kind of concerned about Mitsuyo’s somber look, but as business was done, the group split.
Nothing of particular importance happened afterward: after dinner, Shin was swinging his 『Kakura』 in the small garden where he had found Tiera the previous night. He was wearing a bathrobe supplied by Black Priestess Shrine, as to be able to go take a bath right after training.
“You got a bit better than last time we fought.”
Shin thrust 『Kakura』 into the ground and turned towards the voice. He was focusing on training, but had noticed Mitsuyo approaching.
“Whew, if you say that, it means that it was worth the effort.”
Mitsuyo stepped out of the corridors’ shadows into the moonlight. She had removed her shoulder and breast armor: now she was only wearing an oriental-style attire with a miniskirt.
“We’re going back to Fuji tomorrow, right?”
“Yes, I doubt anything else will happen here anyway.”
The group had not stayed in the guildhouse after clearing the dungeon because they were wary of possible dangers. The miasma in Cadaver Realm had been purified thoroughly, so there was little to no chance of anything new arising.
“I see. If so…could I ask you one last request?”
Mitsuyo had come talk to him by herself probably because she didn’t want Schnee and the others to hear.
“I want you to use me. Even just for practicing techniques or something.”
“You mean, that I would just have to swing the katana 『Oodenta Mitsuyo』?”
“Yes, that’d be enough. …but rest assured, it doesn’t mean that I feel anything for you.”
Mitsuyo probably saw through Shin’s thoughts, because she gave a little troubled laugh.
Mitsuyo’s actual body was owned by Kagutsuchi, but the 『Oodenta Mitsuyo – Shinuchi』 she currently inhabited was Shin’s possession, so he could comply with her request if he wanted.
“Got it. That much is nothing.”
Thinking that he had said the same line earlier in the day, Shin took Oodenta Mitsuyo -now in katana form- in his hands. The unsheathed blade glistened under the moonlight.
Shin attached the sheath to his robe’s belt, gripped the hilt with both hands and took a stance.
From a frontal straight stance, Shin went to upward diagonal, downward diagonal, sweep, then thrust.
He added Saegusa Karin’s teachings to the techniques he had learned from a certain person during the game. What he learned were just the basics, though. Much of Shin’s style was self-taught.
The sound of the katana cutting the air and Shin’s shouts resounded through the garden.
Thus around 10 minutes passed.
Mitsuyo’s Mind Chat—-in katana form, she couldn’t talk, so her voice directly reached Shin’s mind — gave the signal, and Shin stopped.
“It’s enough, thank you.”
Mitsuyo, back in human form, had a faint smile on her lips.
“Did this mean anything for you?”
“There’s no special meaning. I told you that I have no special feelings for you, right?”
Even so, it looked like being wielded by Shin had meant something to Mitsuyo, as she looked satisfied.
“I wanted to be wielded as one of your weapons, even just once. If there was any meaning, that was it.”
“Not that wielding one of the Five Supreme Blades was unpleasant, of course.”
“I know. You have a powerful katana you’re attached to, right? I’m a weapon too, so I’m honestly a bit jealous of a katana treasured like that.”
Mitsuyo then returned to her room, saying that she would be turning in.
Left alone in the garden, Shin looked up to the sky with mixed feelings in his heart.
The next day, after making sure that the Cadaver Realm had not undergone any changes and that no miasma outbreaks had occurred, Shin’s group left the Black Priestess Shrine’s guildhouse to return to Fuji.
“If anything happens, just contact me via chat.”
“Yes, we’ll try to handle things by ourselves if we can, but if we’re overwhelmed, I’ll call you.”
They had already said all they wanted to, so the farewell was a short one.
Along with Kuchinashi, the Black Priestess Shrine members who had bonded with Shin’s group the most saw them off.
“Please take care during your travels. I look forward to seeing you again one day.”
“…I’m thankful to you for saving my sister, but I’ll never let you have her!!”
While Rindou Kotone spoke with words of longing, Suzune glared at Shin.
“Same till the very end, huh…”
Suzune didn’t forgive Shin and Kotone’s friendship, after all.
Kotone added that Suzune too was truly thankful, but being grateful for Shin’s assistance was apparently a separate matter from letting him have her sister.
Schnee, Tiera and the others also bid farewell to Ayame and the other priestesses.
The greatest number, however, gathered around Shibaid, who had held a training session for the priestesses.
“Wow, that’s some popularity.”
“Some girls even said that, if only he was free…”
“Dead serious. Finding a marriage partner is tough in this world too, you know.”
Kuchinashi sighed quietly, mumbling that she couldn’t let her girls marry just anyone. Shin felt a vague discomfort learning that there were connections with the real world in curious places.
“(It would be a big relief for me if you took in Kotone though, Shin. There’s plenty of ambitious men out there pestering us to make her their bride.)”
“(No more, please. I still haven’t given up on returning to our original world, actually. Besides, even if I were to spend the rest of my life here, I have Schnee.)”
“(She only has eyes for you, hasn’t she? She’s always looking in your direction, it’s really easy to figure out.)”
During the chat, it was then Shin’s turn to sigh. He told Kuchinashi that “(That’s probably on purpose)”. There surely was a reason for Schnee to act so openly in front of someone she had just met.
“Okay, this looks like it could go on forever, so let’s go!”
Feeling kind of sorry for the girls sending burning gazes towards Shibaid, Shin climbed onto the horse carriage. After making sure everyone else was on, he motioned for Kagerou to go.
The carriage started slowly but quickly picked up speed. Unlike the time when they had first arrived at the Black Priestess Shrine, they were now traveling on a road used for transporting goods, so Kuchinashi and the other priestesses disappeared from sight very quickly.
The carriage proceeded towards Fuji, Kotone’s voice trailing behind it.
The travel back to Fuji was completely uneventful. Monsters wouldn’t get close to the group in fear of Kagerou. And since thieves and bandits were routinely hunted down by the Kujou clan and the samurai affiliated with it, meeting any would be rare in itself.
The group stopped on the way in a large city to refill their supplies, but made no other detours, advancing towards Fuji at an explosive speed. This would leave all travelers and merchants they happened to cross paths with speechless.
“We’ve already arrived? Happy times really go by quickly.”
Kunitsuna spoke while looking up at Fuji, when the group got off the carriage just before Aokigahara.
“With a travel speed like that, it’s pretty obvious.”
Nodding to Kunitsuna’s words, Mitsuyo looked at the carriage, a bit melancholic.
As anthropomorphized weapons, Mitsuyo and her comrades were bound to certain areas. Normally, they would never be able to go on adventures like the one they shared with Shin.
“Now that I think about it, I was attacked the last time I was here.”
Thinking they shouldn’t just walk in silence, Shin talked about when he was attacked while traveling with Karin and Kanade.
“Oh, were you really? Was the assassin that fled part of the Rokuhara?”
“Could be. The ones who stirred up trouble have quieted down, so there’s no point in dwelling on it.”
When Shin finished talking, the group had crossed Aokigahara and reached Fuji. The mist shrouded the mountain as always, but posed no problem.
There was no reason to engage in battle, so the group proceeded while avoiding the monsters they occasionally spotted and quickly arrived at Kagutsuchi’s shrine.
“Yachi, we’re back.”
Mitsuyo approached the Eight-Headed Orochi, which extended his necks to examine the group. The monster seemed to understand her words, as the “shaah” uttered in reply appeared to mean “welcome back”.
“Hmm, I see that you’re back safe and sound.”
Mikazuki Munechika emerged from inside the shrine: she had probably sensed the incoming presence of Shin’s group.
“It’s been a long time, Munechika. —-Haven’t you gotten prettier?”
Kunitsuna immediately noticed that Munechika’s appearance was now different from the usual.
“Just like Mitsuyo, now I am a Shinuchi.”
After Munechika’s explanation, Kunitsuna — who had already heard about the process from Mitsuyo — was easily convinced.
“I thought that you would look cuter, like Mitsuyo does…but I see, your beauty increased instead. That’s why Mitsuyo was kind of miffed, then.”
“I thought that only appearance would change, but the armor did too after all. But Yasutsuna and Tanetsugu praised Mitsuyo too, saying she had become prettier.”
“They laughed about it, I bet.”
Mitsuyo, pouting, joined in on Munechika and Kunitsuna’s conversation. Her ponytail shook as she quickly looked to the side.
“That’s not true. We might be weapons, but our bodies are those of women. Decorating our appearance is enjoyable for us too. I too would be interested in looking cute.”
“That hairdo, however…rather than making you purely cute like Mitsuyo, gives a stronger feminine allure. The neck area, for example.”
Munechika spoke her mind honestly, and Kunitsuna added her precise observations.
Having an appearance more childlike or adultlike could influence greatly the impression given to others.
“Kh, I can’t deny that…”
Regardless of what she said, Munechika had just lightly tied her hair, but still emanated a sensual charm that made it difficult to believe that she was wearing armor. Mitsuyo’s shoulders dropped.
“—-look at them, they’re sure having fun.”
“Hmm, their comrade came back safe. Of course they’d feel elated.”
Filma and Shibaid smiled while looking at the reunited Blades’ playful exchanges.
Nestled on top of Juzumaru Tanetsugu’s head, Kagutsuchi — now in chick mode — cried with its wings spread out. In response, Yuzuha raised her tail from her position on Shin’s head. The two descended from the respective heads they were on and initiated some sort of conversation.
Shin and Tanetsugu looked at each other and laughed wryly.
“Everyone, I wish to thank you for saving Kunitsuna.”
The only one to properly express gratitude was Yasutsuna.
“Our task is over, then.”
“Yes. However, I have been saved by you, sir Shin. If you ever require my assistance, I shall be at your side.”
He was probably serious through and through. Yasutsuna’s expression was firm.
“….hey, Yasutsuna? Don’t go hogging Shin for yourself, okay?”
“True, that wouldn’t be good at all.”
Munechika and Mitsuyo moved behind Yasutsuna in the blink of an eye. They each grabbed one shoulder, strongly enough to make a creaking sound.
“No, I had no such intention…”
Apparently, Yasutsuna was not receiving damage; however his reply was slightly confused by the developments.
“I’ll contact you if anything happens. Let me check if I can send you message cards.”
The Five Supreme Blades belonged to the monster, or weapon, category.
Shin knew that it was possible to send message cards to this world’s inhabitants, but was not sure if it was possible to do the same to humanized weapons. He thus tried to send a blank message, which was delivered without problems.
“I see, with this we can get in touch at any time.”
Munechika seemed impressed, but Mitsuyo, next to her, appeared frustrated.
“Ggh…why don’t we have any creation skills!?”
“My my, as usual you are full of surprises, young man. By the way, sir Shin, it does pain me to ask you this after everything you have done for us, but would you listen to an old man’s request?”
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to grant it, but what is it?”
Shin asked Tanetsugu for details.
“Oh it is simple enough. I thought I would like to become a Shinuchi as well. Seeing how Munechika and Mitsuyo changed, I grew interested, you see.”
“Hmm, that is true. We cannot change appearance as humans do, after all. Asking sir Shin to do even more for us would be…”
Yasutsuna seemed interested in the Shinuchi too. He had just thanked Shin for saving him, though, so he looked conflicted, standing next to Tanetsugu.
“I see, that wouldn’t take too much, so there’s no problem. There’s a Ley Line here, and increasing its defenses wouldn’t hurt for sure.”
Shin too was interested in seeing how they would change, so he accepted the two Blades’ request.
Kunitsuna too expressed the same desire, so Shin set on working on all three of them.
The time was already past 5 in the afternoon. The strong sunlight on the peak made it hard to tell, but the sun was already setting.
“I’ll make preparations for dinner, then.”
“Ah, I’ll help too.”
Entrusting Schnee and Tiera with dinner, Shin headed to the smithy.
He had already reinforced 『Mikazuki Munechika』 and 『Oodenta Mitsuyo』, so he had more or less learned the “trick” to it, more or less. Because of this, Shin was done in about one hour.
Shin left the smithy and walked through the corridor towards the living room, when about five mels from the living room, he found Schnee standing there.
“Did everything go well?”
“Yeah, I made them all into Shinuchi.”
“That’s good. I’ve made some preparations too.”
Schnee looked at Shin, somewhat fidgeting. He had no idea what she could have meant by “preparations”. He found it puzzling that she was blushing though.
Had something happened before dinner? So thought Shin, when Schnee abruptly started talking.
“W-will you have dinner first? Or have a bath? O-or, have…have m—”
Schnee couldn’t say it till the end, and covered her red hot face with her hands. She was obviously too embarrassed. Her long ears, poking from her silver hair, were blazing red too.
“Eh!? Wait a second, Schnee!!! If you say that much, you have to say it to the end!!!”
“I can’t!! I can’t do something as shameful as in-inviting Shin to….!”
After Schnee crouched down in embarrassment, Filma — who had been using a concealment skill — revealed herself.
“What are you even doing….”
Shin had noticed Filma’s presence, so he looked at her as to say, “I need an explanation”.
“I heard Cashmere and Hecate talk about it once. This is a wife’s proper greeting to her husband in your world, right Shin? A great welcome, to soothe the husband’s exhaustion while also encouraging prosperity for the family line!”
“I’m sorry for Schnee, who got all embarrassed like this…but that isn’t a proper greeting or anything…some people do say it though.”
Shin corrected Filma’s information, careful not to touch upon the wife-husband part.
He wanted to add that a phrase like that was only in manga, but he had actually seen his parents enact the situation once, so he couldn’t deny it outright.
“Really? Hecate and Cashmere really said that they would have liked to welcome their husbands like that, though.”
“Yeah, I heard that too. Hecate was looking for a partner, wasn’t she.”
Shin remembered hearing something about that during one of their offline meetings.
Rokuten members were mostly minors: Hecate was the only adult. As soon as she had found a job, she had quit being a hardcore gamer. For Shin, the impression of the real world Hecate was of a hard-working adult woman.
She was slender, beautiful, with a dimple near her eye. Her personality wasn’t bad either, so it was a mystery why she couldn’t find a boyfriend.
“Well, putting Hecate aside…Filma, don’t tease Schnee too much, okay?”
“I wasn’t teasing her. Without some stimulus, the relationship doesn’t progress.”
“Don’t talk about that here!”
Like Shibaid, Filma also wanted Shin and Schnee to become one soon. The difference was that Filma used a very direct approach.
“It can’t be helped, can it? If you disappear, then it’s all over.”
“….so you heard.”
Filma seemed to know that Shin was looking for a way to return to his home world.
“Though, I have no clue about how to do it.”
“And that’s precisely the reason why we should move now. If you find a way, it’s all over, isnt it?”
Filma was looking at Shin, but not in her usual joking way.
“Filma, that’s enou—-”
“Sorry, but in regards to this, I’m prioritizing Schnee over you, Shin. I’m sure you know why, don’t you?”
Filma interrupted Schnee’s words and pressed further. Shin knew the reason well, of course.
Filma Tolmeya was Shin’s second support character. She was without a doubt Shin’s support character, but her original position was supporting Schnee. That influenced Filma in this world too.
“I understand, once again.”
Schnee interrupted Filma’s words this time. Her powerful shout stopped Filma in her tracks.
“I’m sorry, Shin. I’ll talk with Filma properly about this.”
“Hey, Schnee! Are you really fine with th-”
Filma was ready to double down, but Schnee put a finger over her mouth and smiled.
“I’m all right. I have no intention of giving up either.”
“…hah, okay then. I’ll keep quiet for now.”
Schnee’s clear declaration, in front of Shin too, made Filma give a small shrug and nod.
“But, you know.”
The next instant, Filma took Schnee by surprise and stepped next to Shin, whispering something in his ear.
“Now I’d join in too, you know?”
Filma then kissed Shin’s cheek.
“Schnee, you have to do at least this much!”
Filma fled into the living room before they could say anything else.
To think she’d go so far…thought Shin while touching his cheek and watching Filma go.
“S-Schnee? That look is kind of painful, you know…”
Shin realized that she was staring at him and fretted. Schnee came closer, silent.
She finally took Shin’s head with her hands and pressed her lips on his.
The pressure felt just now completely vanished, Schnee gave Shin a gentle kiss.
“I can…do this much.”
She must have been nervous. After the kiss, she turned beet red again, as if opening a pressure valve.
“Le-let’s go eat! Everyone’s waiting!”
Not able to endure the embarrassment anymore, Schnee fled into the living room just like Filma had done.
“….what am I going to do?”
Filma’s concern for Schnee, Schnee’s feelings for himself…he could understand them. However, However, Shin had not given up on returning to his home world.
“If that wasn’t a possibility, I’d be OK with it in a heartbeat.”
Let’s go back — so Marino had said before dying. Her words were deeply engraved in Shin’s heart.
Shin himself felt a longing for his home world. It wasn’t just because he had spoken to Tiera about his past, but he strongly felt that he couldn’t just throw away the world he was born and raised in so easily.
“Well, I better go now.”
With a small sigh, Shin headed to the living room.
“So this is the Shinuchi?”
“Well, I can see why Munechika and Mitsuyo were so smug.”
After the meal, Shin gave Yasutsuna, Kunitsuna and Tanetsugu their respective Shinuchi, but their responses were all different. Only Yasutsuna and Kunitsuna expressed their excitement and interest, while Tanetsugu showed disappointment.
“Er, what happened to Tanetsugu?”
“Hmm, it appears that I cannot transfer my consciousness into this blade.”
According to Tanetsugu, the revival version of the katana could not serve as a vessel.
“The revival version won’t do, then?”
Based on what had happened until now, only weapons forged from scratch or obtained during the event could be used to transfer consciousness.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to go through that again…”
Shin could forge 『Juzumaru』, but to do so would mean going through the same ordeal as when he repaired 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』. All weapon recipes were different too. Even though he was able to forge one of the Five Supreme Blades, it didn’t mean that the others were any easier to make.
“No, you have already done enough for us. Enough with my selfishness.”
Tanetsugu’s whole body clearly expressed how dejected he was, but he accepted the situation.
“Ooh, so this is how I change!”
“As expected, my change was similar to Munechika’s.”
Next to the resigned Tanetsugu, Yasutsuna and Kunitsuna expressed their joy and surprise at their new Shinuchi forms.
Yasutsuna was still lean but now looked more muscular; his facial features were more solid and rugged, like a young general who had trained his technique and accumulated experience.
Kunitsuna, like Munechika, was even more beautiful than before. Instead of gaining lustrous hair or whiter skin, she gain more prominent curves, giving her an hourglass figure.
Looking at his overjoyed comrades, Tanetsugu’s shoulders dropped even more.
“Munechika and now Kunitsuna!! Just what kind of joke is this!?!”
Mitsuyo, who had already been made into a Shinuchi, shouted. It wasn’t clear whether she was angry or crying.
“Shin! One more time, you have to reinforce me one more time! If you do, I will become like them toooo!!”
Unable to accept the difference in their transformations, Mitsuyo pressed Shin.
“I…could…do it…but…in your case, Mitsuyo, it might go totally against your wishes…you changed in a way completely different from them, after all.”
Mitsuyo grabbed shin by the neck and shook him, but Shin freed himself from her grip and replied.
“Th-that can’t be…”
“Well actually, just because you’re small doesn’t mean you’re not powerful. For example, dwarves, so…”
Not all dwarves were short in stature: only some of the NPCs from the original game were smaller, compared to other species. Normally speaking, however, Shin’s explanation was not too far off the mark.
“But why…why only me…”
“I really can’t say.”
Mitsuyo’s appearance settings were different from Munechika’s and Kunitsuna’s from the beginning. Shin thought that could be the reason, but was not sure, so he avoided saying anything clearly.
“Just give up. At least you were able to become a Shinuchi, unlike me. ”
“I know, I know…I just feel like acting a little spoiled.”
Mitsuyo pouted and breathed deeply; maybe that helped her change her mood, as she didn’t look irritated anymore.
“Oh, to think that you’d act spoiled to someone other than us.”
“….and what would you mean by that?”
Tanetsugu laughed innocently to Mitsuyo’s evil smile.
“That you’ve become much more expressive. Now, don’t look so scary. It’s just an old man’s rambling.”
“Is it really okay for you to give us your Shinuchi, though? Even though you can replicate them, they must be valuable items for you Shin.”
Munechika changed the topic and asked Shin about something that concerned her, but in response he took out two stacks of item cards.
“That’s fine, the more allies we have, the better. Oh, and take these, as miasma countermeasures.”
Munechika couldn’t tell what kind of items they were by looking at the cards’ illustrations, so she looked a little lost.
“What are these?”
“These are accessories and one-time use items. They’re all easy to use; the accessories just need to be equipped, while the items just have to touch miasma to activate.”
What Shin gave Munechika were accessories that neutralized up to a degree of miasma and items that could delete accumulated miasma. The one-time use items had a more powerful effect, but naturally could only be used once. The accessories’ effect was weaker, but lasted much longer. Using them in combination granted complete protection, as long as the miasma wasn’t too dense.
“We can’t thank you enough.”
“Don’t say that. It would be a problem for me too if this place was taken over. Besides, Yuzuha found a companion….well, if I can call Kagutsuchi that. But she’d be sad if it was hurt.”
Shin then looked towards Yuzuha and Kagutsuchi, who were playing on the table.
“Did Kagutsuchi recover its powers, by the way?”
“Yes, its actual body was turned to crystal, right? A bit after you left to rescue Kunitsuna, the crystallization was dispelled. The chick form was just a copy housing Kagutsuchi’s consciousness, but now it has returned to its actual form.”
Just like Yuzuha, Kagutsuchi was apparently able to alter its form to a degree. It couldn’t take human form however.
“Looks like it took a liking to that form. It gets all quiet if you hold it.”
“Yuzuha said something similar, now that I think about it. Its original form was huge, so it probably never experienced something like that.”
Yuzuha had grown, but probably the little fox mode was the one she enjoyed the best. She often used it to sneak under the covers of Shin’s bed and sleep too.
In the game their role was to test players, so maybe they were fond of humans.
“Hmm, is that so….Shin, Kagutsuchi has something to tell you. Can you call your comrades too?”
Kagutsuchi landed on Munechika’s shoulder and cried softly.
As Shin’s party gathered, they were invited to go outside.
As they all did, Kagutsuchi flew from Munechika’s shoulder, turning into a golden flame.
“So this is Kagutsuchi’s original form.”
The golden flame gradually formed beak and wings: in a few instants, it had become a large phoenix.
Flaming sparks scattered all around, but emitted no heat.
“I thank you for your assistance.”
Kagutsuchi’s voice sounded with a deep gravity which well fitted its current appearance. The reverberating echo expressed the divine beast’s presence adequately.
“As a gesture of thanks, I shall bestow the protection of my holy flame upon you.”
Shin and party were then enveloped by golden flames. This fire wasn’t hot at all, and it disappeared after a few instants.
The Gift list in Shin’s menu then displayed the message “NEW!”. Shin mentally opened the menu and found that the Gift 『Holy Flames Protection』 had been added.
Its effect was to weaken fire elemental damage exceeding a certain level. Below that level, it would be neutralized.
In more concrete terms, only Schnee-level attacks could deal decisive damage. It was a very powerful protection, who could even be called fire damage nullifier.
“A-are you sure…sir?”
Surprised, Shin replied casually, but thought that it wouldn’t be appropriate to speak like that to Kagutsuchi in its current form, so he corrected himself.
Kagutsuchi did not seem to mind: after merely uttering “I am”, it returned to its chick form.
Looking at how it flapped its small wings, it looked like Kagutsuchi was saying “it’s all good, just take it and go”.
“Understood, I’ll make good use of it.”
Kagutsuchi had nothing else to say, so the group returned inside Tsuki no Hokora.
The following day, it was time to descend the mountain.
“Once more, we are in your debt. Do come visit again.”
“You have to!! Definitely!!”
“Please do before Mitsuyo explodes from impatience.”
“Take care in your travels.”
“My my, I doubt there’s anything to worry about though.”
Shin’s group left Fuji while Munechika, Mitsuyo, Tanetsugu, Yasutsuna, Kunitsuna and Kagutsuchi saw them off.
Their next destination was a port town to find a ship heading to the Eltnia continent.
The group crossed Aokigahara, boarded the horse carriage which, led by Kagerou, started running through Hinomoto’s roads.
Unlike before, they made sure to slow down to a normal speed every time they ran into groups of merchants or travelers, in order to not stand out.
The reason was they had already heard rumors of a mysterious convoy running at an incredible speed on the roads around Fuji. Shin’s party had traveled at high speed when they went looking for Kunitsuna too, so the rumor must have spread further.
Luckily, the witnesses reported the mysterious cart to be running in the area opposite to the port town the group was directed to; if Kagerou was cloaked as a horse with illusion magic, they wouldn’t stand out much anymore.
“As expected of a port town, there are some amazing fish dishes here.”
Once they reached their destination, the group hid in a forest to change the carriage back to an item card, then proceeded on foot. Just walking aimlessly around town, they could see many stalls selling fresh fish. There were species Shin knew from his original world and monster fish sausages unique of this world, forming a wide range of products.
“Two weeks is a pretty long time…”
Tiera sighed after learning of the passenger ship schedule. A ship had left just the day before, and it would be some time until the next one left port.
The group was not exactly in a rush, but waiting two weeks in a town without any leisure activities was pretty boring, so they started looking for trade ships heading to the Eltnia continent.
About one hour later, the party learned from a sailor that there was a ship planning to leave two days later, so they went to negotiate a way to board it right away.
At first, the crew rejected their overtures as they did not have enough space, but the captain ultimately accepted them when Shin and his party said they would also act as escorts.
Shin and Tiera’s adventurer ranks were still low, but Shibaid had an A ranked adventurer card. It was a card that Shibaid used while still being able to hide his true identity. The Adventurers’ Guild owed a lot to him, so they made an exception by issuing it.
“They probably wouldn’t have let us on if it was just us without Shibaid.”
“That’s true. Shin is rank D, and I’m still F to boot. Master is rank C on paper, so I bet they think we’re dead weight.”
Tiera had been promoted to rank F after taking care of the aftermath of Balmel’s defense battle.
Some were of the opinion that she should have been promoted to a higher rank, but the offensive power of the bow which slew so many foes was not hers only, so she was only promoted one rank.
The nature of Shin’s accomplishments had been a topic of much debate within the guild. There were apparently some disputes going on too, so he chose to head to Kilmont before finding out the results.
Just before that, the business with the Church happened, so at present, no one actually knew what rank Shin was.
“The sea’s more dangerous than land, after all. The first time I fought at sea, it was really different, and I could hardly get the hang of it.”
The same type of escort mission increased in rank if it was at sea instead of land.
“We’re a party with an A-rank adventurer and all skill inheritors, that should be more than enough for them.”
As Schnee said, now Tiera possessed skills too. Other than the 【Analyze】 skill Shin taught her, she had acquired skills for offense, support, etcetera.
Tiera could use her bow, while Schnee, Shibaid, and Shin could use their skills to fight enemies above or below the water. Thanks to these negotiations, they could split their duties with the escorts already on board without trouble.
Normally, ships protected themselves with long-range attacks. If worse came to worst, Shin’s group could act as decoys to lure the enemies far from the ship where they could be shot: it was one of the possible strategies.
Considering the crew and the ship’s safety, no one would object to having an escort-specialized party on board.
“Looks like it’ll be a peaceful trip this time.”
The group spent the time prior to their departure by going over battle strategies and sightseeing. Two days later, Shin and his party were onboard, gazing at the horizon. It did not look like they would be attacked by monsters such as the Gale Serpents; the ship proceeded without any delay.
“There aren’t many pirates or monsters in this part of the sea, but if anything happens, we’ll be counting on you guys, all right?”
Aral, an adventurer and the ship’s permanent escort, approached the group. He had red hair cut short and features that reminded the others of a wild animal.
Shin replied politely, not wanting to look like a cocky newbie adventurer.
“Please leave it to us. Our rank might be low, but we have some experience fighting at sea.”
“That’s good to hear. Though, unexpected things happen at sea. There’s a rumor among sailors that a ghost ship appears in these parts, you know?”
“A ghost ship?”
Aral’s tone suggested that he just wanted to give Shin a scare. For Shin, however, it wasn’t just a joke. One of the area bosses in the game era was a true ghost ship, that appeared in certain sea areas.
Shin replied to Aral, asking him please not to scare them, and the adventurer grinned and left.
“The ship, hmm…”
Shin remembered one of Rokuten’s guildhouses, the 2nd Assault Ship Celciutos. He heard that not even the Golden Company found it, so he thought that it might have been adrift somewhere.
Unaware of Shin’s thoughts, the ship’s crew guided the ship with sails swelled in the wind and cut on through the waves. The weather did not turn sour and the ship sailed on under a perfectly blue sky. No traces of the ghost ships of Celciutos. Finally, two days after departure, the ship reached the Eltnia continent.
“So this is Barbatos the Marine City. You would think it’s a city of pirates, with this name.”
“They say they have geothermal energy-powered hot water pools here, you know?”
Filma, who had heard this piece of information from the captain, waved at the ship as the group disembarked.
“Pools, huh. They probably bathe in seawater normally though.”
All sorts of dangerous monsters dwelt in the sea, and some were even able to move around on land.
Rather than building walls or setting nets to protect the land from the dangerous sea creatures, the buildings and leisure facilities were completely separated from the sea and were therefore safer and easier to maintain. Because of this, the “Marine City” did not have a single beach.
“Since we’re here, we might as well check it out if we have time. We don’t have to worry about monsters. The baths are unlike the sea or lakes, so it’ll definitely be fun.”
“Yeah, once in a while we might as well forget our troubles and just play around.”
Before being trapped in the 『Drop of Erathem』, Filma barely had any freedom to enjoy leisure activities. Shin had also had no chance to really stretch and play around since coming to this world, so he agreed to her proposal.
“We need to buy some swimsuits then. I guess we should eat something first?”
The time was already past 1 PM. The group had decided to eat lunch at Barbatos, since they had not eaten anything after their breakfast.
Shin and the others began looking for a place to eat, while trying to calm down the overly excited Filma.
“Yes. Cook’s subordinates -Zazie, Lapwing, Bell and Shell- should be here. But this is….unexpected.”
While heading toward Eltnia, Shin decided to stop by Barbatos because “Shigureya,” Rokuten member Cook’s home, was located there. Apparently, it still functioned as a restaurant.
Four of Cook’s subordinates, being long-lived races, were still active: the restaurant received guests from outside Barbatos too, or so said Aral.
Just as they had heard, Shin’s party found an incredibly long queue before them. People from all ages, genders, and species were neatly queued in one line.
“It doesn’t look like it’s just a one hour wait, huh.”
“I sent a message, so there should be some action soon.”
Shin spoke while looking at the queue and Schnee replied to him.
After a while, two young girls ran out of the doors. They had very similar faces, horns on their heads, membranous wings on their backs, and scaly tails poking out from under their clothes.
These two girls were Bell and Shell. Both had eyes deep red in color, but Bell’s silver hair covered the right half of her face, while Shell’s black hair covered the left side of her face.
“They look just the same, even now.”
Shin referred to Bell’s kitchen frock and Shell’s maid uniform. Based on this, the remaining two of the four were likely wearing one a cook’s uniform, the other a kimono.
Bell and Shell pointed in the direction of Shin’s party and shouted cheerfully. They mentioned Schnee’s name, but as she was camouflaged, no one recognized her.
“Girls? Aren’t you a bit too noisy?”
Schnee interrupted as they were about to shout Shin’s name. The girls instantly froze, just like frogs facing a snake’s glare.
Shin and the others all thought the same thing: ah, she’s angry.
“My message to Lapwing clearly stated not to create a fuss, did it not?”
They probably ran out without listening until the end. The two apologized and quickly returned inside the store.
“This sort of commotion feels nostalgic too…”
“Though, having our names shouted like that in public is pretty troublesome.”
Because of the exchange with Bell & Shell, Shin’s group had attracted some attention.
As they thought that it would probably be better to come back some other time, Schnee suggested entering the restaurant from the back door. Lapwing had replied to her message, apparently.
The group left the store’s front and entered a backstreet that had little traffic. When they reached Shigureya’s back door, they found a woman waiting.
She was Lapwing, who had been communicating with Schnee via message.
Black hair tied behind her head and a kimono designed with ease of movement in mind.
Her green eyes had a gentle light within them, just as Shin remembered.
“I was waiting for you. I apologize for the trouble Bell and Shell caused.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m glad to see that nothing seems to have changed.”
Led by Lapwing, the group entered Shigureya and was led to a special private room.
The restaurant, having exhausted their ingredient stock for the day, had just closed. Only those customers who were still eating were inside.
“Your meal will be ready soon, please wait.”
After hearing that the group planned to eat lunch at Shigureya, Lapwing said “leave it to us” and accepted the request with enthusiasm. There were still ingredients left for the staff, apparently.
“Here is your water.”
“Please use these handkerchiefs.”
As Lapwing left, Bell and Shell appeared inside. Their movements indicated that they still felt guilty in front of Schnee, but when she forgave them, they smiled while announcing today’s menu.
“By the way, Zazie’s cooking, right?”
“Zazie’s focusing on cooking!!”
“When she gets like that nothing can stop her!”
Bell and Shell replied to Shin’s question, their expressions suggesting “She’s a helpless one, that girl!”
“Should I go call her?”
“No, I just wanted to say hi. We’ll probably meet her later anyway, it’s fine.”
Shin shook his head to Bell and Shell’s simultaneous question. He didn’t feel like interrupting her cooking just for a greeting. In the past, Shigureya’s boss and thus the head chef, was naturally Cook.
Zazie and Lapwing were both vice-head chefs. Their cooking skills were on the same level. While in battle, Lapwing excelled in land combat and Zazie in sea encounters.
Bell and Shell, the waitresses, did not excel in cooking but in terms of fighting power were both above Zazie and Lapwing.
“Thanks for the meal.”
Zazie and Lapwing came after the party finished eating, as if they had been waiting for the right timing. Next to the kimono-clad Lapwing stood the slender yet muscular figure of Zazie, wearing her chef’s frock. At first glance, it would be hard to tell that they worked in the same restaurant.
In contrast with Lapwing’s mellow, gentle manner, Zazie was the “wild” type, well fitting her short red hair. She looked much more like an adventurer than a cook.
“Did you get even better at cooking?”
“If you truly think so, then my efforts have paid off.”
Lapwing nodded with a smile.
“So, what brought you here today?”
Zazie finally spoke, with a low-pitched voice well fitting her appearance. Her brown eyes gave an intense look, just an inch short of glaring.
“I thought of paying you a visit, since we were in the area and all. Sorry to have you set a private room for us.”
“No, it would not do to inconvenience a friend of lord Cook.”
Despite her words, Zazie’s expression suggested that she found it all a pain in the butt.
If one didn’t know that her sour expression was something she was born with, it would look like she was really irritated.
“…let me ask one thing. Mr. Shin, have you not come because of that rumor?”
“Zazie, please. It’s ‘lord’ Shin.”
“No, that’s fine. Rather, what’s this about a rumor?”
Shin appeased Lapwing and asked for further details about the rumor.
“In Barbatos’ seas, there’s an area called Kuwain. A sailor claims to have seen a gigantic ship there. He is an elf, who knew what Celciutos looks like too.”
“You mean to say that the ship in question was Celciutos?”
Zazie looked at Shin with a sharp glare.
The light in her eyes came from the strong resolve of looking for and finding Celciutos — the Guildhouse of her master, Cook.
“Change of plans then. Tell us more about the current situation. If possible, we’ll secure it.”
The ghost ship mentioned by Aral…Shin thought that it could be what they were looking for.
Apparently, the elf who had seen the mysterious ship was not in Barbatos anymore: he had come to report to Zazie and the others that he had seen Celciutos several years before.
“Is that elf someone’s support character?”
“No, to put it in simple terms for you, he’s just an NPC. He used to work in Erculus harbor and had the chance to see Celciutos several times, so he remembered its appearance.”
“It’s true that it stopped a few times in Erculus. The probability that he had just made a mistake is pretty low then.”
Erculus was a hometown that prospered as a port in the game era. Other than ships of all sizes, ship-shaped guildhouses could anchor there too.
Even without dropping anchor at a port, all Rokuten members could teleport directly from their guildhouses or homes. There also was a support character set exclusively to refill supplies, so no one else had to do that.
However, as it was a ship, they would occasionally use ports temporarily. One reason was to show off the grand, luxurious vessel that Celciutos was.
“Where exactly is this Kuwain area?”
“According to fishermen and sailors of trade ships, it’s the area above Hinomoto when departing from Barbatos. It’s not sealed, but it’s designated as a dangerous marine zone, so the guild forbids entering it.”
Zazie answered with a grimace, which Lapwing explained to be due to the guild’s refusal to allow them entry in the Kuwain area when they requested it.
“What exactly does “Dangerous Marine Zone” mean?”
“The Kuwain area is surrounded by three powerful currents, as if forming a triangle. Each corner of this triangle has also become the home of monsters which protect their respective territories. Until a few years back, the monsters just scared away those who tried to enter their zone, but now people say that they started attacking and destroying ships: even in areas that were previously peaceful. Now there are frequent storms violent enough to overthrow even large-size ships.”
Lapwing continued Zazie’s explanation, finishing by putting a hand to her cheek and sighing.
Storms alone would be enough of a problem, but with monsters involved too, it was not wrong for the guild to seal off the area to inspect it, or so Shin thought.
There were three monsters guarding the Kuwain area, called the Three Sea Beasts.
In the northwest, a giant squid with 20-mels limbs and magic-unleashing gems, “Mascurda”.
In the southeast, a shark with razor-sharp fins and poisonous needles growing all over its body, “Eolios”.
In the southwest, a sea snake with body hair and compound eyes as tough as steel and even crab-like pincers, “Keseldran”.
These three monsters, commanding their minions, constantly fought to expand their territories, so very few returned from the Kuwain area alive, added Lapwing.
The elf who had spotted Celciutos had nearly died there himself: his ship overthrown, he was carried by the currents and ended up inside the Kuwain area. He was prepared to meet his end, or so he said.
After spotting Celciutos, he exhausted his energy and sank beneath the waves, but when he woke up again he found himself floating near the Barbatos coast, hanging onto a wooden plank like a floating tube. A passing ship then rescued him, so he had barely survived.
“There’s definitely something strange going on there.”
“Yes. Based on the sea environment, it’s probably Beasts, maybe mermen or fishmen.”
Shin also agreed with Lapwing’s hypothesis.
In THE NEW GATE, human-like sea creatures were called “Mermen”, while the ones more similar to fish were called “Fishmen”. Both categories were variations of the Beast group, specialized in underwater combat: they could dive without limits and all their stats grew by 10% while underwater. In exchange, their stats decreased by 10% when on land.
Underwater, all obstacles to their movement disappeared, so they boasted peerless strength at sea.
Some players employed strategies such as using this unlimited diving ability to drown other players and win. Having unusual names and statuses, they had a unique position within the Beast category.
“Based on what that elf said, even if entry is forbidden it’s not like there are walls or anything, right? Couldn’t we just sneak in?”
“I think it’s possible, but to inspect the area we’d need a ship of fairly large size, so it would be difficult to enter without the guild’s permission, I suppose.”
Lapwing and the others could not procure an inspection ship of sufficient size, so their request was refused.
In the game, Shin had experienced the sea during a storm. Waves large enough to knock over even large ships, unless they had magic enchantments to prevent it, were common in this world. Average ships wouldn’t stand a chance.
“I guess that means we should get permission first. Do you know what the conditions are?”
“To own a ship equal or superior to a certain size. The presence of an adventurer rank A or above. To have equipment suitable for fighting underwater. Those three should be all the conditions. Naturally, there isn’t any compensation in case of death or injury. Going to that area is seen as having a death wish, after all.”
“Yeah, I can see that.”
Shin agreed to Lapwing’s words. Even excluding the three Sea Beasts, the Kuwain zone was rife with monsters. Just by hearing what Zazie and Lapwing said, Shin could tell how troublesome the area could be.
Originally, sea monsters appeared in the ocean much more frequently than monsters did on land. Footing was not stable and attacks could come from any direction. Additionally, if the enemy is underwater attacking then options become limited.
In the game era, there were plenty of tales of players who had made a name for themselves on land, but then died as soon as they challenged the seas.
The three Sea Beasts were powerful monsters around level 800, so their minions would obviously be quite threatening as well. Zazie and her comrades had been raised focusing more on creation skills such as cooking rather than fighting, so it would have been difficult for them to return alive.
“First of all, what we need is a ship.”
“Mr. Shin, do you have anything in mind?”
Zazie looked at Shin with an expression full of anticipation.
“Well actually, I have the parts. If I can have a place to put them together, I can make a ship.”
Celciutos was extremely large and powerful even among all other magic-powered warships: in THE NEW GATE, it was one of the best super dreadnoughts existing. Its maintenance parts were in absurd quantities, most of them being made by the blacksmith, Shin. A large quantity of prototype and spare parts for ships thus rested in Shin’s item box.
Shin kept the parts in separate folders, according to the size of the ship they were for. He could exchange parts and customize ships, as long as the sizes were the same.
“As expected of Lord Shin!! Let us make preparations right away!!”
The overjoyed Lapwing was ready to burst out of the room.
“Can you really have a place ready that easily? I can’t just build it anywhere, you know?”
In the game all one had to do was to go to the port’s management office and register to build a ship, but in reality things could not surely be that easy.
“We are having a ship built in an acquaintance’s shipyard. I feel bad for the carpenters, but we will borrow that space.”
“Is that alright? I mean, in terms of your relationship with them.”
If there was a place available, they wanted to start right away, but saying that they didn’t need the requested ship anymore could be a problem.
“I think it will be alright. That carpenter wouldn’t care about small things if it meant honing their techniques. Rather, I’m sure he will look at the ship you make and try to steal your techniques.”
Zazie added that the carpenter would probably want to watch as the ship was made in place of his.
“Can you take me there right away, then? I want to make preparations and go to Kuwain as soon as possible.”
The two girls nodded at Shin’s words and stood up. Having left the dishwashing to Bell and Shell, Zazie and Lapwing guided Shin’s group towards a large avenue. They had not changed before leaving, as their clothing had magic enchantments that kept them and their equipment clean at all times. It wasn’t something useful in battle, but Cook stated that it was absolutely necessary. Shin reminisced about making them with Cashmere and Hecate’s help.
“As expected of a shipyard, it’s really huge.”
Shin’s group visited a shipyard located at the edge of the port. Despite its location, it didn’t lose to other shipyards in size. The group followed Zazie to the docks and found two galleons hanging in midair, suspended by fixtures. Next to them was a ship in the process of being built, probably the one requested by Zazie and her comrades.
The workers noticed Zazie’s arrival and one of them called to a large man who was a bit farther away from them.
The man then came closer; he was of short stature, but about two times wider than the average person, with a stocky and muscular physique.
“Hey there, Zazie. The ship is still in the works, ya know?”
Judging from the man’s familiar tone, he must have been on good terms with Zazie. Shin imagined him to be one of the chief carpenters.
“I came to talk about that ship. This guy is an acquaintance of ours, an adventurer named Shin. This man is the boss and chief carpenter of this Gourd Shipyard, Zigma Gourd, but everyone just calls him chief.”
Zazie did the introductions; Shin had told her that he didn’t want to attract attention where other people could see, so she had kept the introductions to a bare minimum. Lapwing fretted, looking at her.
“Calm down, Lapwing.”
“Zazie, isn’t that way of speaking a bit rude?”
“It’s okay, Shin isn’t the type of person to care about things like that.”
Even while Schnee added a helpful comment, Zazie continued talking with Zigma. She told him to suspend making the ship and Zigma looked at Shin.
“This isn’t something to talk about here I wager. Let’s go to the back, follow me.”
The group followed Zigma’s pounding steps to a small room in the back of the office. After drinks were served, Zigma started talking.
“So, why don’t you need the ship anymore? I know the reason why you needed it, why you’re so bent on this. I don’t think you can find a replacement so easily.”
To have a normal ship, one just needed to pay the right amount of money. Kuwain was an extremely dangerous marine area with powerful storms though. A ship that had its large size as its only advantage was still doomed to sink.
“I know you girls, you can’t have given up, right? The lad here is involved in it?”
“Yes, Mr. Shin is going to make the ship.”
“Say what now?”
Zigma looked at Shin again, straight and deeply, as if to scan what kind of person he was.
“Yes, I would like to borrow the space where that ship is being built.”
“Do you have the materials? In order to make a ship like the guild specified, the materials alone cost an arm and a leg, ya know that?”
“I have the parts already, yes. There was no other good place to put them together, so…”
Saying so, Shin put an item card on the table.
“An item card, huh. It’s true that it would make carrying materials easy. But just having the parts isn’t enough to build a ship, how about that?”
Building a ship required a certain amount of manpower. Even if parts and tools were turned into item cards, Shin’s group was just five people. With three of them being women, Zigma appeared skeptical that they could build a ship by themselves.
“I wouldn’t want this to be known, but…using skills, I’d make do somehow.”
“…I see, so you’re a skill inheritor.”
Zigma nodded, convinced.
Skills allowed the use of powers well beyond human understanding. The item box, which allowed children to carry items of massive weight, was similar also.
From the viewpoint of someone who did not understand skills, it was something impossible to comprehend. Shin’s way of speaking was due to him being an inheritor, and Zigma recognized that.
He was a creator, but also a businessman. The contract had been canceled unilaterally, but Zazie said that they would pay the full price, so he acknowledged their request.
“Well, business’s business, if ya pay I got nothing to say.”
“It sure doesn’t look like that, though?”
As Zazie pointed out, even if Zigma said to be content, his sour expression suggested otherwise.
“Can ya blame me? Building ships is my lifework. I haven’t spared anything, not materials nor technique, in the ship we’re making now. I can swear that it’d be my life’s masterpiece.”
He was surely confident; Zigma’s expression did not contain an inch of arrogance.
“That said, Zazie. Your expression tells me that the lad here can build something a hell of a lot better than I can. You know my skills, and here we have someone you trust that much. You bet I’m interested.”
“You never change, do you. Shin, I’m sure it’ll be alright with him.”
Zazie looked at Shin, as if to encourage him to show Zigma his skill usage.
Zigma’s attitude and the halfway built ship clearly showed that he had pride in his expertise, so Shin decided that he could let Zigma see his skills.
“…don’t tell anyone else about what you see or hear, and never mention that you saw me. If you can promise me these two things, then it’s all right.”
“Gotcha. Whatever I see or hear, I’ll bring with me into the grave. If there’s something I can steal, will ya let me?”
“Take anything you can. I won’t stop you for using it as reference for other work.”
“Now this is one cocky lad. I’m getting excited here!”
It wasn’t possible to make a skill into your own just by looking at it. Looking at the completed ship and using it as reference for other projects was no problem for Shin.
In contrast, Zigma nodded, an evil-looking grin on his face. His pride as an artisan was burning, without a doubt.
As there were no separators or barriers within the shipyard, Shin would put together the ship after the other carpenters left. The group split with Zazie and Lapwing for the moment, who would return to Shigureya, and headed to the guild.
“Hopefully they give us permission without too much of a fuss.”
Shin mumbled to himself, even if he knew that it would be difficult. Filma, who was looking around at Barbatos’ town scenery, heard him and replied:
“Judging from what Zazie said, won’t it be pretty impossible? I doubt they’d easily let anyone go in a place if they know it means having a death wish.”
“They’re the current owners of Shigureya, though. The guild or the government might not want to lose such talent like that.”
“That is probably it. Shigureya would turn into a warehouse if they were to be gone.”
Shibaid said that even with the ship their chances of being authorized were low, and Schnee agreed.
Homes could usually be accessed by others only if the owner was inside or together with the visitor. This was the same for Shin’s Tsuki no Hokora too; now that it was inhabited, only Tiera, Yuzuha, and Kagerou — other than support characters like Schnee — could enter it.
Yuzuha because she had a contract with Shin, Tiera because Schnee registered her as Tsuki no Hokora member when she took her under her wing, and Kagerou for the same reason as Yuzuha.
If Zazie and her companions were to die, in this world only Shin would be allowed to enter Shigureya, as he had a special authorization due to being a member of Rokuten.
Shin didn’t know how Zazie and the others were treated in Barbatos, but imagined that they wouldn’t want them to go into such dangerous areas.
“Well, let’s just try. We better gather info about the monsters that appear in these parts too.”
Just knowing about what they could face would be very helpful, the authorization could also come later. Is what Shin thought, when Tiera-who had not spoken a word until then-called to him.
“Hey, Shin. Fighting at sea will be something like when we fought the Gale Serpents in the storm last time right?”
“Well…yeah, but we could also have to fight underwater. I don’t think Celciutos could sink, as it has a diving function too. If, for some malfunction, it sinks underwater, we’d have to dive to recover it.”
Shin could turn any equipment into equipment usable underwater.
He had already done it to all party members…he thought, and then remembered that Tiera’s equipment had been updated.
“Oh yeah, we have to do “that” one more time.”
“Don’t do anything weird this time, okay?”
“Stop saying things that could be misunderstood…the design is random, I tell you. I was surprised myself that you got that of all things.”
A small accident happened last time Shin attached the underwater function to Tiera’s equipment. It was a very rare case, but for a woman such a design was a bit…no, extremely revealing. It was doubly rare, as it rarely appeared and Shin had never seen anyone wear it.
“I was more surprised!! What in the world was that, anyway? Even if it was to swim underwater, t-to wear that outside…would make me some perverse woman!!”
Remembering the incident, Tiera blushed fiercely and protested.
“Calm down, please! You’re too loud!”
Fortunately, there were few people around them, but they had attracted the attention of all those few, so the group hurried away.
As they walked on, Shibaid casted an inquiry.
“Shin, what happened to Tiera? It could not have been something trivial, if she showed such strong emotions in public.”
“When I attached the underwater function to her equipment, well, there was a small accident. Clothes and armor become a swimsuit, right? She had a rather risque one.”
Shin thought that it was pretty easy on the eyes, but did not dare voice his thoughts.
“Hmm, I see. There are many more variations for women than men, after all. I remember that there are also quite a few bizarre ones too.”
“Some of them are more embarrassing than being naked. I had something pretty crazy too. Are you sure it’s really random, hmm?”
“I said it is! If I could choose, I’d pick the current one from the start.”
Shin replied firmly to Filma’s teasing. If he didn’t, Schnee’s eyes would throw even sharper daggers into his back.
“I heard that nothing like that happened in Schnee’s case though?”
“Just a coincidence, I tell you.”
Tiera and Filma had very revealing designs, but Schnee had her current one the first time, so it was decided right away.
Depending on the viewpoint, however, one could say that in Schnee’s case any design would have worked.
“It can’t be helped, can it? I think that’s the one that looks best on her.”
Shin wasn’t neglecting Schnee, or so he strongly stated. There were no lies there.
“You heard that?”
Filma grinned and turned towards Schnee, who was walking behind her.
“I haven’t said anything.”
Schnee looked the other way, but judging from her twitching ears, she surely didn’t look displeased.
“Heh, just as planned.”
“Tch, that was on purpose!?”
Shin groaned towards the chuckling Filma.
“Enough about the equipment, there’s the guild.”
Shin looked forward in response to Shibaid’s announcement and saw a building very similar to the ones he had seen in Bayreuth and Falnido. The signboard also showed that there was no mistake.
“By the way, Filma, were you registered in the Adventurers’ Guild?”
“Hmm? No, why? When I was active people were still recovering from the confusion caused by the Dusk of the Majesty, so there weren’t cross-continental organizations like the guild.”
“Guess we should do that then. You’d get an ID too.”
At present, for Shin’s group that was how much a Guild card was worth. Selling the materials they had meant that they were never out of funds. For gathering information too, as Shibaid was rank A, it wasn’t necessary for Shin and the others to raise their own ranks.
“It’s the same inside too, huh.”
The interior of the guild had reception counters to the right, a tavern to the left and a board with requests in the center, the usual composition.
The only differences were the species and equipment of the adventurers inside. Probably because of Barbatos being close to the sea, they could see mermen and fishmen here and there. Shin also noticed several Rare and Unique class items, probably picked from the seafloor.
“Welcome to the Barbatos branch of the Adventurers’ Guild. How may I assist you?”
A woman with light blonde hair was at the reception.
“I’d like to register her as an adventurer.”
Shin knew the guild’s regulations, so they skipped the various explanations and proceeded with the registration.
“—-registration complete. Your card will be ready for pick up tomorrow.”
As before, it took one day to issue the card.
“Since we’re here, I’d like to ask you something. About the authorization to enter the Kuwain area, is it possible to receive it if we’re having a ship ready soon?”
“The authorization to enter…the Kuwain area…?”
Few people probably ever asked about it. The receptionist seemed to have no idea about what Shin was talking about.
“Yes, I heard that either the guild or the state’s authorization was needed in order to enter it. How does it work?”
“Please wait a moment…our staff needs to see the actual ship before granting authorization. There is a past case of people heading to sea with a ship of smaller size than the one reported in the request and disappearing, you see.”
The receptionist talked while looking at a document, probably listing the regulations. In the case she cited, some fishermen had witnessed the requester leaving port.
“Understood. I will come again once we have the ship then.”
“You can present your request first, if you wish to. The staff can fill in the ship’s information when they inspect it, so the procedures can be a bit quicker.”
“Is that so. Yes, I’ll do that.”
Thinking that saving time was always welcome, Shin filled in the required fields of the request form.
“Your name is…Shin, I see. Please present your guild card too.”
Shin handed in the filled request form and the receptionist checked it and compared it with his guild card.
“You are rank D? I’m afraid that even if you have a ship, you would not be granted the authorization.”
“There’s a rank A in my party. That means there’s no problem, right?”
“Yes, that is correct, but…if you do not mind me confirming, you are the party leader, lord Shin?”
“Could you please tell me the ranks of your party members?”
Despite the presence of a rank A, the party leader was rank D. The receptionist probably found it strange.
Some adventurers deliberately set lower-ranked members as leader, in order to let them accumulate experience. There was no reason to use an inexperienced leader when going to a place like Kuwain, however.
“We have one C and one F, then two partner monsters. Depending on the circumstances, other members could join us later too.”
Zazie and the others would probably come with them too, but as Shin didn’t know if they were registered as adventurers or not, he kept things vague on purpose.
“Thank you. Do you know what the conditions for the authorization are?”
“Yes. The presence of an A-rank adventurer, a ship equal to or superior to a certain size, equipment usable underwater, or so I’ve been told.”
Shin repeated the conditions he heard from Zazie.
“Yes, that is correct. Is your equipment ready?”
“Yes, for all party members. Do you need to check that too?”
“I apologize for the inconvenience, but it is policy to do so. I do not mean to doubt your abilities, lord Shin. We simply wish to keep the risk of losing valuable adventurers to minimum levels.”
“No problem. I also wish to show you that we have no intention of going to die.”
With the ship and equipment Shin can provide, a stormy sea or two would be a piece of cake. Based on the members of his party too, unless something incredible happened, no one even risked being injured.
However, He couldn’t let the guild know everything. Shin’s techniques were far too advanced for this world; if he revealed them without thinking, he risked creating a commotion.
Shin was thus thinking of masking the ship when it was time to show it too.
“If possible, I would like to know about the monsters present in the Kuwain area though.”
Information about monsters heavily varied based on the area, but the guild recorded everything the adventurers reported. Knowing how to counter the monsters influenced the adventurers’ survival rate greatly.
The adventurer’s job always required their lives to be on the line, so it was absolutely necessary for them to pay attention to monster information.
“You may find such information in the reference room.”
The documents available varied by rank, but in general all documents except the ones concerning monsters in dangerous dungeons or sealed areas were available.
The monsters in the Kuwain area were also reported to dwell in other areas, so Shin’s group could browse the information about them, excluding the three Sea Beasts.
“Thank you very much.”
“Once your ship is ready, please come to the reception again. If I am not present, please say that Arno Toole received your request, I’ll make sure it can be processed.”
“Understood. I will come again th—”
“Oh, my apologies. There is something else I need to speak to you about, lord Shin.”
Shin was about to call on Schnee and the others to go to the reference room, when Arno stopped him.
“There are about ten requests specifically for you.”
“Requests for me, huh. I’m truly sorry, but I have something urgent to do and cannot accept them.”
“Understood. As you cannot accept the requests, you will have to sign the request forms. Please wait in that booth, I will prepare the necessary documents.”
Arno pointed at a small booth next to the reception counter. Shin told Schnee and the others to wait, then sat on the sofa closest in the booth.
“I apologize for the wait. These are the request forms.”
Shin took the forms and signed the field stating that he could not accept the request.
He looked at the requesters while signing and found names and locations he remembered, such as Bayreuth kingdom or Balmel.
“Here, this should be all of them.”
“…yes, no problem.”
Arno checked the forms and nodded.
“Is this really alright with you, though? The connections you could obtain through these requests all seem very valuable.”
Arno explained that the adventurers who quit the guild to enter an exclusive contract with nobles or merchants, to ensure a stable lifestyle, were not few.
“I became an adventurer for a certain goal, so I’m not thinking of serving anyone until I have achieved that you see.”
“I see. A-rank adventurers are really different from the rest, after all.”
Arno gave a small chuckle after saying this, but Shin was a bit confused.
“Er, you’re talking about my party member?”
“No, I’m talking about you, lord Shin. I checked it before, when I processed your request. Because of your achievements in the Balmel defense battle, your promotion to rank A has been decided.”
The long discussion ended with the decision of promoting Shin to rank A.
With Shibaid present, they could check any documents, so it wasn’t really meaningful, but apparently communication had been sent throughout the continent.
“Stating you’re rank D when you’re actually rank A…that’s not nice, lord Shin. I was really surprised when I checked your guild card.”
It was very rare for adventurers to jump directly from rank D to rank A. To be sure it wasn’t a mistake, Arno had asked other staff members to confirm it too.
“I didn’t know that either until now though.”
“There are several adventurers named Shin, but who would have thought you were the one who acted in the Balmel defense battle. The name “Shin the Slashing Hammer” has reached even Barbatos, you know.”
Shin would have loved for that nickname to spread as little as possible, so he wished to be able to disappear among the other Shins.
“After such great achievements, it is only right for you to be evaluated fairly. But I’m glad, now I can send you off with fewer concerns. It is always painful when someone I assisted doesn’t come back.”
“It will be alright, as you can see it turns out I’m rank A, so I’ll be back in a flash. I’m not going to Kuwain just to hunt monsters after all.”
The goal of Shin party was to secure Celciutos. In case it was within the territory of one of the Sea Beasts, they could have to fight them. There was no need to come in contact with them or fight them however.
The Sea Beasts’ forces were at odds with each other, so they were likely to prioritize maintaining their territories and would not venture outside them. Defeating one could cause the others to attack ships or ports, thus it did not hold much meaning.
“If possible, could I know what your goal is?”
“Yes, of course. It’s not something as fixed as to be called a goal, though. If I had to give it a name, I’d say it’s adventure.”
It wouldn’t be good to have them look in too deep into his motives, so Shin used the response he had previously thought up.
“Unknown seas where man fears to tread…will there be something there, or maybe nothing? Wishing to know that is also what makes an adventurer, isn’t it? To seek the passion of adventure.”
“Passion, is that so.”
“Yes, well you could also say I’m a reckless idiot.”
There really were areas, called untrodden domains, which people very rarely visited. Shin found about them by coincidence, when he was looking through documents in Falnido.
Some adventurers made a living by entering such areas and finding rare items or exploring ruins. Shin decided to present his party as belonging to such a category.
“Not at all, there are many locations that have been discovered by such people. No one would call them idiots.”
“If you said that, I feel more confident.”
“As I am sure you know, fighting at sea is completely different than fighting on land. The monsters are peculiar too, but fighting in a field like the sea means that if you simply fall in, your movements will be limited. We die if we cannot breathe, and if the current sweeps us away and we lose our sense of direction, only death awaits. Please, do not let your guard down.”
“…I will not.”
Working in a guild in a port town, she surely knew well how terrifying the sea could be. Arno’s words and expression clearly showed that she was genuinely worried about Shin and his party.
“Please forgive me if I sounded patronizing.”
“No, I understand you said that out of concern for our safety. I am aware of how dangerous the sea can be, but I will be even more careful.”
Shin then went to join Schnee and the others to go to the reference room. There they looked up information about the monsters dwelling in the Kuwain area and compared them to what they knew. Being a forbidden area, there was not a lot of information, but there were not great differences with what they knew from the game era.
“The problem is the three Sea Beasts turning so violent. It’ll be easier if they don’t come to attack us, that’s for sure.”
On the way back from the guild to the shipyard, Shin sighed.
In the game, the monsters called Sea Beasts did not attack unless provoked. According to Zazie’s information, however, now they indiscriminately attacked anyone they saw.
“What shall we do if we damage them and they do not withdraw?”
Shin held his chin, thinking about how to answer Schnee’s question.
“We could escape if we stop their movements, but they’re faster than us in the water…”
It would be difficult to make the monsters lose sight of the party, even with status effects such as 【Paralyze】 or 【Confusion】.
“We either stop them with binding skills, or through brute force.”
One method would be repeatedly striking them with lightning-element attacks to forcefully disrupt the control of their bodies. Doing so would prevent them from following the party.
If binding, like status effects, turned out to be ineffective, the only way was to inflict enough damage to slow down their movements.
“Could we distract them with some lure?”
“They’re all really huge, though…”
Shin considered Filma’s decoy strategy too. The 3 Sea Beasts, however, were all much larger than Shin’s party. They had no idea about the size of lure large enough to distract them.
Turning it into an item card would mean the weight was not a problem, but procuring such a lure would be very difficult. Even if they used Tsuki no Hokora’s creation device, using precious ingredients filled with unique magic as a lure sounded like a waste.
“Wouldn’t they just swallow us whole while the lure’s materializing anyway?”
That was the greatest concern. If the monsters ate them up while the item was still appearing, it would be all for nothing.
“…you’d be okay, Shin.”
“My HP would, sure! But mentally I wouldn’t!!”
Shin wouldn’t enjoy having to cut his way out from the monster’s belly. Filma’s idea was obviously out.
“Anyway, we have to build the ship first…”
Shin emitted a tired sigh and put off the conclusion to the problem for later.