Chapter 44: Game Designers always Nerf Mages with Monsters Immune to Magic
“… so these innards; if they’re this silvery blue it’s ok to collect. If it’s any darker, it’s useless.”
Nars scooped some of the goop from the smashed-open beetle in a jar. It’s a giant beetle that looks like it’s carved out of glass. The Valor of Arms Brigade were the ones that took it down.
I mimic Nars and try to collect some of this stuff. Yuck.
This is pretty gross, but that’s apparently the most lucrative part of the beetle. It seems that it’s rare for their innards to be the right color. It improves the sheen of stones and ores, apparently, and most importantly, it’s a material that improves the circulation of mana in tonics.
I tap the hard carapace of this so-called Jeweled Beetles.
“What about the shells? Though they’re pretty much destroyed…”
“Broken shells aren’t a big deal. Though armorers and jewellers will pay a pretty price for a more intact piece, most of the shells are ground down to a fine powder. Even powdered, heated, or melted, the shells keep their abilities to reflect magic, so it’s a precious resource as an additive, like for paints, gilds, and alchemical potions. Quite a few shells are needed for a four-ly portion, so Armored Beetle shells always have some demand.”
(1 ly= approx 1 ml)
“Oh, so that’s how it is. We always tossed the shells if they were too badly damaged, but it seems like we’ve lost some potential earnings that way.”
Jericho scratches his head, a bit embarrassed, as he admits that.
Nars laughs lightly in response.
“Well, it’s a monster on the 1st level, so don’t feel too bad about that. Even though there’s always demand for Jeweled powder, the monsters your brigade brings in from the lower levels will always be worth at least 4 times the best price you could get from a Jeweled Beetle.”
Since even Rank F Adventurers have no problems on the 1st level, that’s to be expected I guess. It wouldn’t make sense for the Valor of Arms Brigade to weigh themselves down with small-fry monster parts if they can hunt bigger prey in the lower levels.
We had descended into Nyls Labyrinth a half an hour ago through the Guild Hall. When I asked why the entrance of the Labyrinth is in the Guild Hall,
“Since the Labyrinth is directly in the heart of the city, the Guild Hall is fortified in case of any monster attacks or miasma outbreaks to keep the damage inside.”
Is what Nars said.
The winding tunnels of the 1st level go in ever direction, giving the impression of an endless maze.
Though Niera told me that, actually, the 1st level isn’t all that big compared to the other levels. It’s only about the size of the city.
Niera-san … that’s plenty big. Or like, how big are the rest of the levels?!
Since the tunnels are narrow, when we run into a monster, there’s no choice but to fight our way through. The monsters seem to have the same idea, as they don’t hesitate to attack us at all.
Other than regular animals, like beetles, rats, small spiders, and the like, the monsters that we’ve run into are mostly Jeweled Beetles, the Garnet-Eyed Spider, and Onyx Rats. It’s a very cave-like ecosystem.
Since the tunnels really are narrow, I haven’t really gotten much of a chance to fight, other than support with barriers and storing everything in my Inventory. It’s not just me; Niera and Kristaf seem to switch out every other fight.
Though I think they’re reserved just in case we get ambushed by another monster. It wouldn’t be surprising if we were surprised from behind by a passing monster.
“Alright, next monster we find, Jun, you should try to fight it by yourself.”
Kristaf clears his sword of goop with a swing as he says that.
“Alright, I’ll give it a shot,”
I said, and I squeezed by to the front of the group.
I suppose I should have expected it, but … it’s really hard to fight in tunnels.
“Tsk. Take this!”
I’m seriously getting annoyed fighting this Jeweled Beetle.
Actually, there are 3 of them.
Nars is acting as my backup while the Valor of Arms Brigade is fighting the 2 in the rear.
This is the first time I’m fighting a monster in a dungeon! – is what I thought at first but aaaah, this is annoying!
The ceiling is low and the width of the tunnel is narrow, so how am I supposed to fight this thing?! If I carelessly swing my sword like usual, I’ll hit the ceiling or the walls, or a rock – but if I don’t swing like usual I can’t put any strength into my sword!
To make things worse, the shells of these beetles are hard. It’s like hitting a rock. I was going to try to roast it alive with my fire magic, but Nars yelled,
“Hang on, Jun-chan, their shells reflect magic!”
I hear a beetle hiss from behind me, but I don’t really have the liberty to see what the others are doing. The beetle I’m facing tries to grab hold of my leg and crush it in its jaws.
In a flash I reflexively kick out at it, and Paaan! it flies into the opposite wall, landing with a sickening crunch.
The impact shakes the entire corridor, and as the beetle slides down the wall it gives a shriek while waving its legs wildly before it dies.
Even after it dies the legs and antenna spasm a bit here and there. As expected of a bug; despite having its back all crushed in, it’s very tenacious.
“…Jun-chan. I have never seen someone manage to send one of these flying, let alone kicking one to death.”
In response to Nars’ shock, I can only laugh weakly. This really wasn’t one of my finer moments.
After I carefully sever the beetle’s head to ensure its death, I turn around to watch the others.
Jericho slams one of the beetles in the head with his shield, very effectively getting its attention. Even though it’s angry, it doesn’t seem dazed at all. How resilient.
The beetle turns towards Jericho, but since it’s a beetle it can’t turn to face him without turning its entire body. Niera quickly takes advantage of the situation. With the beetle’s broad body presented directly in front of her, she yells, “Hyaah!” and uses both hands to drive a sturdy spear deep into the joint between its wings.
The beetle screeches in anger as Niera continues to force the spear in deeper, twisting to apply even more force.
While it flails wildly, Kristaf and Miina snipe its legs. Jericho gives the tormented beetle another bash in the head before turning his attention to the other beetle.
Why did the other beetle not attack at the same time?
Well, it tried to, but the tunnel is just too damn small. Whenever it tried to charge and bite at Jericho or Niera, it simply rammed into the other beetle and got stuck between it and the wall.
This is a really tight area to fight in, seriously. For the monsters and me both.
If the environment’s like this, then there’s little wonder Niera chose a spear. The western-styled swords, too, are better for puncturing than the Japanese katana.
… No, I refuse to give up. There has to be some way to adapt the katana to fighting in such close quarters, right?
After firmly embedding the spear in the writhing beetle, Niera abandons the spear and pulls out her short sword, joining Jericho, while Miina takes her place.
Miina leaps above the frenzied beetle, firmly catching hold of Niera’s abandoned spear.
『glaciesspiritusinadiutoriummeumintende: Ice storm!』
With a powerful chant, Miina unleashes a powerful surge of magic. I expected a whirlwind of ice, but instead I sense a surge of magic move through the spear. All of a sudden, the beetle seems to implode.
It doesn’t move anymore.
I think it’s dead.
Could it be that they set it up to bypass the beetle’s magic-reflecting carapace?
Fumu. There’s a lot to think about when it comes to adapting to the environment. I’m dissatisfied with my abilities.
“Heh? But Jun-chan’s plenty strong, right? I mean, you killed it right away.”
“Yes. Even though your weapon was ineffective, you did it in without any trouble in one blow. In the end, the result is what’s most important.”
The first was Niera, and the second was Jericho.
Niera stretches and leans on the corpse of the last beetle as the Valor of Arms Brigade catch their breaths. They didn’t take much longer to finish off the second one.
Even though they say I’m okay fighting that way, I’m still worried, and I continue to express my concerns.
“I guess it’s alright for now, but I’m worried about getting caught in a situation without magic.”
Because … you know, I’m using Augment Body; that’s why I can do stupidly ridiculous things like this. But there’s that template, right? Where suddenly you can’t use magic, or you run into monsters that magic isn’t useful against?
Ah, these beetles would be considered monsters you can’t use magic against, wouldn’t they?
“I don’t think there’s any need for you to worry about it. If you can’t use magic, usually it’s because it’s an area where magic goes berserk. According to Lor, your ability to control magic seems like it’s legendary, so you wouldn’t have any problems controlling that kind of out-of-control magic.”
Miina carefully cleans off her sword while she tells me that.
Miina-san, what basis are you using to determine that?
Out of the 3 beetles, only Miina’s frozen-from-the-inside beetle has the silvery-blue goop. Since it’s frozen, the Valor of Arms Brigade just has to put the frozen fragments in a bottle and wait for them to melt before they sell them.
Un. I think I will learn ice magic.
As they pass me the more intact pieces of shell, I had a thought.
“Hey, Nars, is it possible to incorporate these shells somehow into the metal when making blades?”
“Hm, it’s possible, but it’s not easy to mix the right ratio in, and then you’re not capable of using the swords to channel magic. Also, it will nullify the properties of other magic materials.”
Heeh… but a magic-reflecting blade is more than impressive … right? And besides, couldn’t you make the inner part out of beetle-ore (tentatively named) just to have that dead-core thing? So I thought, but Nars said,
“Ah, well, actually, a dead-core isn’t used all that often. It was just very impressive that you could make a plain steel sword with a dead core. But in reality, it’s better for a plain steel sword to be uniform throughout, since magicians and casters use plain steel weapons as magic channeling aids as well as secondary combat potential.”
Hai? The rearguards use swords to cast magic? Not wands or staffs or something? That’s so weir- … ok, no, that’s actually pretty cool. It’s just so weird, since in our world magic users always used wooden weapons and wore cloth armor.
Well, in our world magic users only existed in games.
When Niera pierced through the Jeweled Beetle’s shell, she had switched to a spear that had been made in one full rod of metal. So that was it; it was completely a set-up for Miina to channel magic down into the beetle.
I want to ask about wands or staffs made of wood, but I’m afraid I’ll sound like a fool. After all, I did notice it was hard to put magic into wood previously at the forge, so it might just be the way things work.
Anyway, the six of us leisurely made our way around the 1st level. I had considered making a map as we went, but my direction sense is pretty good; with the magic-stone compass from the Adventurer’s magic stone kit, I have confidence I could find places while only making 2 or 3 wrong turns.
Seriously, this place is a maze. Finding your way around without losing your way more than 5 times would be pretty impressive.
I’ve gotten pretty used to fighting Jeweled Beetles now, but I’ve kind of thrown away my sword-style. I’m sorry, Sensei, I promise I’ll go back to it when there’s plenty of room, but it’s just impossible right now.
Right now, using the katana, I’m getting used to swinging the sword closer to the center of my body. It’s more of a spin movement than a swing movement, though. By getting in close to the enemy and keeping my hands and the hilt close to the area between my solar plexus and my pelvis, I can make the most of the blade of the katana.
Though, it doesn’t look like kendo at all anymore; it’s more like a sword dance from a middle-eastern country or something.
It’s really exhilarating when the blade flashes by right in front of my face, but I can’t count the times I’ve almost sliced off a portion of my body, or almost gotten bit by a beetle.
Seriously, if it wasn’t for Augment Body, I’d have several nasty wounds now. I’m barely getting by purely on my super-enhanced reflexes.
Eh? Wasn’t I trying to develop a way to fight these beetles without having to rely on Augment Body? Well, at the start of course I’ll need to magicly compensate for an unfamiliar fighting style. As I get used to it more, I won’t have to rely so much on Augment Body … probably.
Jericho’s small waterclock chimed when the top basin ran dry. It means that we had been going at it for 3 hours, and it is now a little after noon. It’s time to take a break.
“What?! Jun-chan, your Storage has Preservation cast on it?! That’s cheating!”
Niera exclaims as I bring out a jug of hot tea.
From the previous time’s experiment, the cup of hot tea was hot no matter when I took it out, and it never spilled a drop. It seems like things that go in will come out exactly as they were. Is it time-stop? I don’t know.
“It’s from the girls at The Queen Mary’s. Would you like some?”
Saying so, I pulled out the stack of cups I had placed into my inventory this morning.
The tea tastes like ginger and honey herbal tea, though the girls at The Queen Mary’s said they made it with a secret blend for beautiful skin and glossy hair. Hah… those benefits are wasted on me, but the ginger-like taste is re-energizing, so I gratefully took it.
Kristaf laughs as the cups appear in my hands, followed by the makeshift sandwich I had thrown together from leftovers from breakfast.
“Storage is really useful, huh? At least, Jun has an overly luxurious way of using it.”
Fumu. Well, it’s not really Storage, but that’s fine. I think this is very much a Cheat as well.
“Jericho, what’s the plan from here?”
Miina asks that as she accepts a cup of tea from me.
Jericho tilts his head to one side as he thinks.
“To be honest, we’re making better ground than I expected, and Jun-san seems to be adapting really well. I suppose we can go towards the Graveyard to head down to the 2nd level.”
“Aye, Graveyard. No one’s really sure why, but in the last stretch of tunnels of the 1st level before the descent into the 2nd level, there’s a large quantity of undead. They’re not your usual undead, but you deal with them the same.”
I have no idea what “usual” undead are like, but I’ll take their word for it. Considering how casually everyone is treating the subject, I guess it’s not anything to really worry about.
“Is it really alright to head to the second level?”
“It’s just that the amount of monsters we’ve run into is kind of worrisome.”
Kristaf nods, saying,
“That’s true. We already have 5 Garnet-eyed Spiders, 12 Onyx Rats, an Emerald Snake, and 27 Jeweled Beetles. It’s an abnormal amount for 3 hours.”
Not that I have anything to compare it to, but if they say it’s abnormal, then I guess it’s abnormal. It did seem like an unusually high encounter rate for just 3 hours of dungeoneering.
Jericho frowns, thinking about it.
“If it’s just 3 times the normal encounter rate, we should be fine with these members against the undead. But come to think of it, the amount of Jeweled Beetles is extremely high. It’s not like they’re all that rare, but this kind of number …”
In the distance, a low rumbling shouted. With Augment Body, I can feel the vibrations and hear the faint yells of people.
Nars frowns at my sudden vigilance.
“What is it, Jun-chan?”
“Ah … well, it sounds like something’s coming …”
<t/n: Thank you RS, TD, and GB for your donations!>