Chapter 17: The Red Rock Valley
If I strain my ears, I can hear it.
Tn. Tn. Tn.
Just barely, I can hear his footfalls as he leaps from rock to rock.
Although he’s not sneaking in the shadows, his movements are totally like a sneak thief.
As for his Talents …
No doubt about it, he has to have [Enhanced Movement].
If he has almost no STR, then there would be no other way for him to leap from rock to rock like that, all the up to the very top of this cluster of rocks.
Perched at the top, a shimmering green fairy-like sprite came flitting down, and it seemed to whisper in his ear.
So the catkin ninja’s name is Fenrys.
It’s not like he told me; after we formed a party and his status showed up as an icon that appeared, floating in the air a little lower than my left shoulder.
It’s a simple icon with name, HP, and small Buff/Debuff icons, but it’s useful for keeping track of your party members.
It even has a little arrow that floats around each party member’s icon to show what direction that member was in.
Normally I turn it off, since I rely on kinetic vision so it can be distracting, but …
… This guy.
When I met him before, he was completely hidden.
The ultimate stealth character!
… Is what I think he is.
If it wasn’t a complete fluke that first time, I’m going to need the tracking arrow to keep an eye on his location.
I am completely not holding onto a grudge and sneakily getting back at him by cheating to find out where he is-!
… Even I don’t know what I’m trying to justify at this moment.
Anyway, as he’s communing with his fairy thing, I …
… am collecting stuff.
Herbs! Strange plants! Digging for strange rocks with my bare hands! Chasing down rabbits and coyotes with an axe! Hunting the weird antelope-type deer-type creatures!
Collect all the drops, dig out all the precious herbs!
[Discovery] is making it easier for me notice gathering nodes.
When looking at an area within 3 meters of me, gathering nodes will glisten with a green light.
Even if I don’t know what they are, I’ll take everything I can find!
Thinking about the profits if I go selling them…
Although I had been considering getting a crafting Talent, becoming a raw-material seller might not be so bad.
Ah, no, I’d have to take STR-heavy Talents if I want to keep up with the weight limit, if watching Fenrys’ problem was any indication. My Stats will go all over the place.
And to begin with, if I can’t identify them, I wouldn’t be a very good supplier.
Selling herbs! All unknown!
Haa… I’d have to sell them at a huge discount if I don’t know what they are.
“Hm. Instead of worrying about Stats, it might be better for me to just do whatever I want.”
I mutter that as I collect the drops from the cougar-like creature that had come bearing down on me.
Well, I’m currently on the quest for [Scribe], and after that I won’t be able to take anymore Talents right away, so I can postpone thinking about that sort of thing.
With a light ton! Fenrys lands next to me.
Is it my imagination that a light wind blows around him?
“So what’d you see?”
I ask, pocketing the drops.
“… There’s probably another 20 minutes until we reach the red rock area. There’s a path without too many monsters, but it would add on another 10-15 minutes, maybe. But … maybe that won’t be necessary.”
Yeah, because I aggressively properly fought them all, right?
I’m not complaining here.
Previously, Fenrys attempted to sneak by some of the monsters that were further away, but I just ran up to them and, one! two!, killed them all.
“Let’s just head straight there. I want to see what this [Scribe] Talent is like. You want to get that [Trap Master] Talent soon too, right?”
Fenrys hesitates for a second before saying,
“It’s always better to acquire the skills you were planning for your build than not.”
“Heh, you seem rather eager for it.”
Despite his aloof answer, he’s totally just itching to get his hands on that Talent!
He frowns and looks straight forward, quickening his pace as we walk among the dusty rocks and treacherous, dry-looking plants.
I, however, am scrambling all over the place to harvest a thing here or a thing there… or a mountain lion there…
Since Fenrys’ END isn’t as high as mine, unless the monster came right at us, when I ran off to kill stuff, he’d take the opportunity to rest.
See, he is super eager to get to the Hidden Ruins, since he’s carefully optimizing his travel speed.
Well, even when he does fight, it’s just throwing daggers from behind.
Don’t tell me … does he not actually have a Combat Talent?
Even Chie has [Water Magic] at least!
Even though he crits most of the time, it’s just throwing daggers, you know? Even with moderate STR, I can’t say that you’d do much damage… although I don’t handle throwing weapons enough to really know the nuances.
As he watches me pick up even the vendor trash, Fenrys asks,
“Aren’t you overloading yourself? If there’s important quest items to pick up later, you won’t be able to do so.”
“Well, after you said something about the weight carry limit, I started testing out how much I could carry. I can actually carry a lot more than I thought.”
It seems that instead of an actual set ‘weight limit’ for our Item Bags, it just increases the amount of stuff you can have in a stack. Currently, I can carry a stack of 135 when it comes to herbs. 80 when it comes to pelts.
STR stat banzai!
The amount is totally more than would be realistic, but I think, when it comes to playability, this type of realism is one that can’t help but be sacrificed.
Anyway, I opened up a bank account and stored most of the crafting materials I had gotten from before Nortius into it.
250s(silver) disappeared by opening it, and a further 50s every (in-game) month…
There’s a reason most people don’t own a bank account yet.
I can’t wait until spending 1g doesn’t make me bat an eye. Right now, all my money disappears into food and water, and now a bank account.
It’s times like these that make me reflect on how easy I have it in life, since I’m still living with my parents.
I will have to seriously start considering money in this game after I get [Scribe].
Added to cleaning out my bags by either selling trash to NPC vendors or storing things into the bank, I now have 50 slots in my Item Bag.
Over double the original slots in additions!
Thanks to my increased intimacy with Jemino, he helped me purchase some of the Item Bag additions that normally only people with merchant-ish Talents, like Barter and Appraise, would be able to buy.
Anyway, Fenrys let’s out a sigh.
“Well, as long as you’re careful.”
“Don’t worry. Even trash loot can have their uses, you know? Actually, is it ok that I’m taking everything?”
Fenrys seriously hasn’t taken a single drop.
“… There’s the item limit I have to worry about, and I’m not fighting everything anyway.”
He says, and then he makes a face like he’s swallowed something bitter.
“… It’s bad enough that I’m getting ExP for free without doing anything.”
The ExP share is 50/50, afterall.
“That’s true. It doesn’t seem fair that the ExP share is 50/50 even when you don’t do anything.”
When I say that, his eyes flash and his mouth tightens into a thin line.
Whoa, his face is even starting to turn red.
Unnnya, I can’t help myself and say,
“Would it kill you to fight a little bit more? At least make it feel like you’re trying to earn your ExP.”
Here, Fenrys’ brows furrow, and his face has become completely red.
He opens his mouth angrily.
“Juuust kidding~. Since I always run ahead of the party and kill everything, it’s not like I can say anything about party cooperation.”
Saying that, I laugh while slapping him on the back and walk ahead, twirling my axe and singing.
I ignore the half angry, half confused look he shoots at the back of my head.
Actually, him not getting in the way of fights is a pretty good deal for me, and my actual goal is to be able to tag along for his quest.
Sure the less ExP might suck, but even though he gets the full ExP for killing something, he doesn’t get the ExP for combat, so in my opinion it’s not a big loss.
Anyway, it’s pointless to freak out about it right now.
“By the way, what Talents do you have?”
I look over my shoulder at him as I say that.
He doesn’t seem like he really wants to say.
Well, it’s true that a lot of people prefer keeping their Talents a secret.
“So you don’t want to say … How cold~. Then, how do you fight? In case we need to cooperate.”
Since the researchers said there were all sorts of monsters in these red rocks.
They’re not sure, since most of the researchers who ventured out here got killed.
There’s a reason most of the quests I picked up from Nortius were to find out the fates of researchers who went out towards these red rocks.
Although he gives me a glower from my joke, Fenrys properly responds to my question.
“I fight with confusion, snare, and slowly whittling their HP away from a distance.”
What a completely tedious way of fighting.
I can’t believe such a completely technical, crowd-control type player exists!
Although this type of support-role player works ok when paired with me … is he going to be okay on his own?
“It’s kind of amazing you were even able to get to Avg Lv10 like that.”
“… It wasn’t that hard. Because the battles drag out, I end up using more Skills than other people do.”
“So combat ExP increases if the battle drags out?”
I decide to drop it, since Fenrys looks unsure too.
Well, there’s no need to count every ExP anyway.
I get stronger the more things I kill. That’s all I need to worry about.
During out small discussion, we’ve reached the area with the red rocks I had seen a ways back.
The red-rock formations are enormous.
You have discovered the Valley of the Fire Worms
You are the first to discover this area. +50% Exploration ExP.
This notification pops up.
I’ve never gotten that before.
“… Hey, Fen, did you get any notifications?”
“F-fen… well, whatever. No.”
Ah, could it be …
…[Discovery] might have been a jackpot?
I can’t help the grin that spreads across my face.
Is it my imagination that Fen is edging away a little?
There are different layers of red rocks, which makes it seem kind of like a maze where you have to be aware what level you’re on.
“Search” for the Hidden Ruins is an understatement.
Just looking at the strangely shaped rocks makes me want to climb them, but I don’t have any climbing gear.
I totally have to bring Jo here.
Even if he’s not capable of climbing in-game yet, it will only be a matter of time.
The red rock cliffs in America’s wild west!
We both have wanted to go for a long time, and right here is a replica!
“… This was supposed to be an ancient holy site, I thought.”
“Uuun… it doesn’t really seem like much, huh?”
Although the rock formations seem fantastic, there doesn’t seem to be much in terms of human development.
“Feng, go see if there’s anything of interest in this area.”
With a small *poof* sound, the little green fairy appeared, and Fenrys sent her off.
“Hey, Fen, what is that?”
“It’s my wind fairy.”
“Wind fairy… you have [Summoning], then.”
“Hm… What other kind of summons can you have?”
“That’s… why? Are you interested in [Summoning]?”
“Gahaha, no. I was just wondering why you chose such a cute thing like that!”
Fen looked a little annoyed.
“I didn’t choose it for its looks. Fairies have confusion-type support, you know.”
“Heh, I just thought it was kind of a mis-match. Your personality with your nekomimi and fairy. Ah, I don’t mean anything too profound by it.”
I mean, he’s a super serious, stoic kind of guy, and he’s got cat ears, dual tails, and a fairy.
I’ve been resisting commenting on it SOOOO much until now!
“That’s – cat beastkin are the most dexterous, and are quiet at movements-!”
Fen’s face goes a little red as he protests.
Then why the two cat-tails? You could have chosen a simple cat-type beastkin, right?
I swallow these thoughts down and struggle not to speak my mind.
The little fairy soon comes back and whispers in Fen’s ear.
“Ah… there’s something over there, she says.”
“No, just… I think there’s something over there, too.”
Fen frowns and says,
“How do you know?”
… He’s totally giving me a suspicious look.
“Ah… let’s split up. We have Party Whisper, so if either of us finds something, we can tell the other.”
Fen hesitates for a second, then says,
He totally doesn’t believe there’s something in the direction I pointed in, huh?
Fen takes off, completely noiselessly, and I shrug and sigh.
“There really is a strong feeling like there’s something in this direction, though…”
I reach a bit of a cliff.
Although compared to the cliff I jumped from before, this would be considered more of a step than a cliff.
Below, the river rushes by.
I drop to my knees.
Don’t tell me that ‘something’ I felt was over here was the river!
Although I’m happy to know the river comes up all the way to here, you’re not what I was looking for!
I look across the river.
The other bank is higher than the one I’m standing on, and it comes out a bit over the river.
It’s overshadowed by other ledges, almost like a natural staircase.
I jump it quite easily and look around.
“Hm? What’s that…”
While looking up at the higher ledges, something that’s barely in sight, lying on the ground, begins to glow.
The [Discovery] Talent’s effect, huh?
I try to climb up the ledge, but it’s just a bit taller than I can easily manage.
I stomp hard and jump.
“Tch. It’s not as cool-looking.”
Compared to Fen’s shinobi movements, I’m as graceful as a cow.
I should also consider [Enhanced Movement]…
Ah, no. It would be a waste of my already high STR, at least for now.
Gripping the top of the ledge, with a combination of arm-strength and momentum from the jump, I swing myself over and land on top of the ledge and look forward.
A red rock canyon covered in sand lay before my eyes.
Overhead, the smooth red rock cliffs form archways.
“Man, it feels kind of like a cave…”
I look down.
There, near the edge, was the figure I saw from below.
A body, crumpled and fallen by the edge of the ledge, lay there covered by a cloak.
“… One of the researchers, huh? … Hm? Why is there only one?”
I bend down to investigate.
There should have been a large group of researchers and a handful or more of adventurers and guards.
don. Don. DOn. DON.
…Are, I seem to be hallucinating some sort of heavy, thudding sound.
DON DON DON
… Are, is the ground shaking?
As I hold my breath, staring straight ahead without flinching, from around a bend in the canyon, a shadow loomed.
An ill omen, I have.
“Narusein-san? I found a cavern, but I haven’t gone down into it yet.”
I can here Fen calling from the behind me, but for a second, I have a hard time getting the words out of my throat.
Ah… he should have used Party Whisper and not come over here. This intimidation … not good.
“Narusein-san? Did you find something?”
“What is it?”
Orange, reptilian eyes met mine.
“It’s … a miniature…”
“… … What? A miniature …?”
From below, Fen’s voice sounds confused.
Adrenaline surges through my body, although I only tense up, unmovingly.
“… hydra. A miniature hydra.”
“Oh. A hy – what?!”
I spin around and book it.
It’s a low enough jump that I lose minimal HP from a flying jump.
Fen stands there, mouth wide open, as he watches me come flying over the ledge.
KTHUD KTHUD KTHUD
Behind me the ground shakes and heavy footsteps sound.
An elephant-sized reptile with 5 heads on long, snaking necks surges over the ridge!
The ground shakes, and red sand is thrown in every direction.
“Heheheh, I wonder if we found the area boss.”
I can’t help the grin that crosses my face as the mini hydra lets out a frightening hiss.
Three days had passed since the Hobble’s Haunted House patch, and the official homepage’s event page updated.
The rewards list was revealed!
Thank you, and congratulations to all who participated! Your rewards will be sent to you in the in-game mail! (If there are any problems, please submit a ticket, and our support team will get back to you as soon as possible.)
Rewards Part 1:
Number of hourglasses collected:
1-20: 5 Candied Apples, 5 Apple Ciders, 50 silver
21-30: 5 Candied Apples, 5 Apple Ciders, 100 silver, 1 Teleport Orbs
31-50: 5 Candied Apples, 5 Apple Ciders, 200 silver, 2 Teleport Orbs
50+: 5 Candied Apples, 5 Apple Ciders, 300 silver, 3 Teleport Orbs
Rewards Part 2:
Finding the hidden boss: Cosmetic Pet: Smiling Pumpkin
Rewards Part 3:
Fastest Playthrough: Kiriri/Rona/Uno
-Title: Halloween Trickster, Cosmetic: Pumpkin Weapon
Most Thorough Playthrough: Towol/Naruesin/Sylvestre
-Title: Halloween Trickster, Cosmetic: Vampire Cape
Most Damage Dealt:
#1: Kazeboshi/Chino/Kohane – 5 Reputation Tokens, 5 Attack Boost Potions (LQ)
#2: Towol/Naruesin/Sylvestre – 3 Reputation Tokens, 3 Attack Boost Potions (LQ)
#3: Kiriri/Rona/Uno – 1 Reputation Token, 1 Attack Boost Potions (LQ)
Most Interesting Playthrough:
#1: Towol/Naruesin/Sylvestre – Cosmetic: Gold Boots
#2: Sicily/Trini/Taka – Cosmetic: Silver Boots
#3: Kuromi/Akira/Shawn – Cosmetic: Bronze Boots
The [Haunted House Event Thread] exploded.
135: They released the results!
136: I’m going to go look now
137: Me too
138: It’s on the official homepage?
139: Ah, I hope the prizes are good
140: >138, yes.
141: Eh, the prizes are more social than combat oriented. They’re cool, though. A title, cosmetics, and a pet, looks like.
142: And candy, lol. More candy.
143: Pet! I want a pet! Anyone willing to sell?
144: Anyone know if the titles come with stats?
145: Hope not. Wouldn’t it be an unfair advantage?
146: If they earned it, it’s not unfair, right?
147: Kakaka, >144, you just need to get it yourself next year!
148: Eh. Aren’t the only good prizes the ones for the most damage dealt?
149: >148 Wannabe ranker spotted!
150: Geh-! There’s one party that took most of the rewards! Go take a look at their “interesting playthrough” video!
151: Watching now.
152: ^ same
153: 151, 152, don’t inflate the post count like that! Jeez, lol.
154: >153, same to you, lol.
155: Haha, we’re all going off topic.
156: … Oi, what’s with that To/Na/Sy party? Are you serious?
157: I know, right?!
158: >156, what’s wrong? (haven’t watched video)
159: lolololol! What, the healer’s actually tanking!?
160: This is so crazy!
161: >158, the video shows the boss fight, but the healer is tanking the boss with a sword, while the other two guys take on the spectres.
162: Eh? Wait, if the healer has the sword, then that means … they switched the healer and tank’s weapons?
163: I think they all switched weapons.
164: Huh? No way. How could you finish the instance with all the wrong weapons?
165: >163, I think you’re wrong, they’re still using skills.
166: No, if you watch the video, the guy with the sceptre is using the archer skills … I think?
167: I think 166 is right. They’re not using the right skills with the right weapons.
168: Eh. That shouldn’t be possible. Programmer error?
169: Lol, wow, that’s crazy.
170: Who’s that pumpkinhead?! She’s got (mumblemumble) a big amount of womens’ pride.
171: >170 How vulgar, lol.
172: 170’s priorities are… (omitted)
173: Watching her fight is too exciting! Doesn’t she have almost no HP? She’s got guts of steel!
174: She’s either Towol, Naruesin, or Sylvestre. Eh, probably not Sylvestre.
175: Naruesin… ah, it’s Naru.
176: Naru? That explains it.
177: Naru, ne?
178: Yeah, those moves, definitely Naru. Dammit, even without skills, she’s good.
179: Is this Naru famous?
180: Then Towol must be the little brother? What kind of name is Towol…? Let’s just all call him Toru still.
181: >179, not really ‘famous’, but if you play a lot of VRMMOs, you’ll see her around. Rankers all know about her though, lol
182: Damn, what kind of life is she living that she can pull off THAT kind of stuff as a healer-type?
183: Ikr? I’m jealous.
184: Lol at the rewards. Gold/Silver/Bronze … boots?
185: I want to know the specs for everything *excited*
186: We just need to wait for Toru to upload everything, lol.
187: Did anyone find the hidden boss?
188: Ugh, yeah, no. I feel horrible knowing I missed the hidden boss.
189: I didn’t even notice a single hint for that boss.
190: Toru-kun, update the wiki with all of the prize specs-!
191: Lol, the little bro is popular as always…
[Spirit of the Wild Hunt]Lv12
[Inheritance of the Forest Guardian]Lv12
Avg Lv: 12
Nothing this time, hai.
<A/n: Thanks someone and Lynkz for your donations!>