Chapter 21: GI-ANT CO-BRA
After giving the room a quick glance over, I contact Fen through Party Chat.
“Hey, you finished?”
[“… No, it might take awhile…”]
Fen has a distinctly frustrated tone, probably because he’s going to finish after me.
“Maa, it can’t be helped. Trap Master sounds like a troublesome Talant, na?”
Fen cut the Party Chat quickly.
… Oh well.
I head over, back to the passageway I had taken to enter this room.
The stone walls rolled aside again, and I stepped through them.
As I re-enter the room connected to all the Talent quest passageways, the door opposite me, the one that we opened by using those Mysterious Crystals, the one that connected the rest of the ruins to this hidden room … slammed shut.
That’s a good sign.
I approach the door and push on it, just in case, but of course it doesn’t open.
There’s no other way out other than… up?
The smooth rock face does not permit climbing, huh?
It’s so smooth that I don’t even bother trying.
Maybe if I had [Acrobatic Movement], I could try to jump from wall-side to wall-side like a ninja, but, un. It’s impossible like this, ne?
Anyway, [Acrobatic Movement] costs a huge 10 TP, so that’s just not going to happen right now.
And just think, once you have 15 Talents, the 16th Talent cost will double.
Uaaah, inflation is scary~!
Oh? I hear the sound of boulders moving aside.
Is Fen finished? It happened sooner than I thought, given how he sounded on Party Chat.
I call over, and I made to turn around, but at that instance the door in front of me opened again.
“Oh, I see. We’re not allowed to leave until our entire party is ready.”
“Hm? What are you talking about?”
Fen tilted his head with a kind of concerned look.
That’s right, he wasn’t here for the sudden lock-down.
“Ah, don’t worry about it. Game mechanics and all that -!”
I shrug carelessly and turn to walk back into the rest of the ruins.
And suddenly came face to face with the mouth of a snake.
I dodge backwards again, into the tiny room, barely in time to avoid the snake’s fangs, and it slams against the doorway.
Haha! It can’t fit-!
I dodge out of the way as the angry snake spit poison out at me.
Tch. Such a bad loser.
But man, it’s big.
“Hey, hey, hey… this thing looks worse than the chibi hydra… Uoo!”
As I’m playing hopscotch with the snake, Fen has already dodged into the shadows, alongside the wall with the door, to avoid the snake … the cobra(?)’s venom.
“You damn sneak thieves.”
I’m sure he heard me, but Fen completely ignored it.
“…What did you do?”
Was what he asked instead.
“Haan? You blaming this on me? Rude. I didn’t do anything. Didn’t you see the next quest update?”
As Fen checked his quest log there was a bit of silence, broken only by the hissing of the frustrated cobra and the banging as it tried to force its way into the hidden room.
He must have hurried straight out after finishing his quests.
Even though he’s a guy who seems like he’s consistently low on calcium, he’s surprisingly considerate, huh?
“… Please give me some time to re-organize my Talents…”
Is all he had to say, trying not to make a worried face.
I stifle a laugh.
That’s what you get for not taking a Combat Talent – I have to strongly resist saying that -!
I mean, Combat Talents are the Talents you build your base stats up with. Auxiliary Talents give much smaller stat additions.
So yeah, without the stat correction from any Combat Talents, it’s obvious you’re going to struggle a lot more than most.
Maa, it’s impressive he made it this far without it.
“Na… if you wanted to add Talents, you should have done it earlier so you could have leveled it up some…”
There is no response.
“Iyaa, well, I’ll draw its attention as usual, ne? Let me know when you’re done primping~.”
There’s a kind of irritated grumble coming from his side this time.
Kakaka, that’s what you get for putting it off-!
“You’re the kind of person who decides on all the accessories before you decide on an actual motorbike, huh?”
I dodge another splash of venom as the cobra angrily attempts to attack again, then glance over at Fen.
Whoa, what a glare-!
“… Haa… whatever. Anyway, I’m ready.”
“… What – – !?“
I smash head on into the snake when it closes its mouth just enough for me to bullrush it.
It’s comically sent flying backwards out of the doorway and into the ruins behind it, reeling like a drunk person.
I grin and bare my fangs as I go flying out after it.
Ah, Fen’s startled yelp at the beginning?
No worries, no worries.
I just switched to Werebear Form right before I charged at the cobra, that’s all~.
I roared happily as I gave the slightly dazed cobra an uppercut.
Ooo, it bounces off the low ceiling with a satisfying noise.
Unfortunately, it quickly snaps out of it and glares down at me.
Tsk. The low ceiling and long-width but short-length dimensions to this kind of … half room half hallway right outside the hidden room might limit the giant cobra, but it’s also making it tough for me to dodge -!
The cobra’s jaws clamp down inches away from me and the momentum of its lunge has it crashing against the broad side of my axe, blocking its body blow.
Even in a solid horse-stance, I was still sent skidding backwards until my fuzzy tail was pinned against the wall.
“Gunununu… I won’t just stand here being pushed around – Ho-raaa-! … Guh.”
With all my strength, every inch of muscle fiber in my bear-shifted body straining, I just barely manage to shove it off.
Oi, Fen, where are you?! I’m not going to be able to go head-to-head with this thing for much longer -!
I don’t even have the opportunity to yell my complaints out; I have to focus all my attention on the cobra –
Something whizzed by, zoom zoom zoom – e-eh?
In the middle of preparing to jump to the side, I freeze as thin wires shoot out overhead, entangling the snake.
From out of nowhere, with a little glittering of fairy dust, Fen appeared, mid-leap, over the cobra’s head.
Now’s not the time to be standing around with my mouth open, eh?!
With a roar, I charge forwards, winding up as wide as I could, and timing it so my attack charged upwards Fen came down with his dagger.
I’m a little jealous of the sound Fen’s dagger made as it found a critical spot right between the cobra’s eyes, but I did feel some satisfaction to slamming the cobra’s jaw shut just as it was about to spray poison.
Fufufu, how do you like the taste of your own poison, huh?!
Too bad it won’t get poisoned from it’s own poison… are?
In a few seconds, the snake seems to be drooping a little.
“It seriously got sick off of its own venom?!”
Well, this is just a game, after all, I guess.
…Don’t mind it.
The cobra writhed and strained against the wires that held it in place, but it wasn’t able to escape right away.
Unfortunately, it flailed heavily enough that my hands grew numb, and I had to stow away my axe.
Aaah-! Now it’s free!
Fen’s retreated to who knows where, so now, poisoned and desperate, the cobra focuses on me, weaponless and blindingly white in the dark area.
I’m a perfect target, huh?
Well, that’s fine, because I’m in Werebear Form!
With both of my claws free, I roar and dig in!
A satisfying sound comes out~!
With a roar, I wrestle the head, its scales being torn off this way and that, and finally succeed in pinning it to the floor.
The body is writhing this way and that, but, like with the baby scorpions from before, a black spot on the floor sticks the tail to the ground, and the cobra can only writhe like a landed fish.
Fen reappears, and ….
Ssthunk thunk thunk thunk!
In a blink of an eye, several throwing daggers had embedded itself into the back of the cobra’s skull.
As it wails, I free one claw and, though it’s tough to keep it pinned with one arm, I retrieve my axe.
“Haa…haa… we did it.”
“…Even though it went by surprisingly fast… it was really tough. My MP is almost gone…”
Fen is panting a little.
His END is also probably still pretty low, so there’s no wonder that his stamina is already almost gone.
It seems Fen’s a player that relies on Skills… well, nothing wrong with that.
If he were a vanguard I’d make fun of him for it, but there’s no reason to make fun of rearguards and support-type vanguards for using Skills.
It’s just, normal vanguards who rely heavily on Skills are super easy to defeat in any fight that ends up dragging out.
Although this is just my opinion, I guess.
The cobra now looks so pitiful, with the wires hanging off it, the tail stuck to the ground, 4 daggers looking like a frill sprouting from behind its head, and 1 dagger like a horn sprouting from between its eyes.
Ah, and the half-connected head flopping there.
Maa, that’s how it is.
It seems to be tenacious, because only now, quite a few seconds after it could only twitch, did the cobra disappear into a million fragments of light.
Cobra meat, fangs, venom, quite a bit of gold and some shoes and headpiece dropped from the snake.
Um… is it the setting where the cobra ate some adventurers, so that’s why it dropped some weird things?
Before I could move in on the drop items, I thought I saw something to the side.
“Oi, you, who are you-!?”
Fen is startled at my sudden roar, deep and throaty from Werebear Form, and moves immediately into battle stance.
I charge after the shadow, but it suddenly holds of a golden orb.
The orb shatters, and the shadowy person disappeared.
“Tch. It got away.”
I growl my dissatisfaction.
“Nu… I assume it’s NPC. Instances are locked-down unless we add people to the party, right?”
“That’s what I thought…”
“Oi, Fen. Get over here and go through the items that person left behind.”
That’s right, there are some items left where the person was.
“… Is that anyway to ask someone for a favor? And why do I have to?”
I left up my hands – er, my claws – and open and close my hands.
I can grasp things, but…
“Just in case there are things with low durability.”
I’m not actually sure that would be a problem, but … un. That stunt just reeks of quest items, right?
I would not like THIS to be the time to find out that I can damage items by picking them up.
Although the quest items might also be indestructible … it’s good to be on the safe side.
“… Mysterious Note – Black, but it’s encoded so I can’t read it. Talisman of the Snake Charmer. 4 Antidotes(Rare).”
“Hoooh… what does Talisman of the Snake Charmer do?”
“Increases affinity with reptilian creatures. +10% to tame reptiles. +5% to obedience for reptiles. I don’t understand it, but it would go for a high price to Tamers, I guess.”
Ah, un. Fen chose Summoner instead, so that item is not really useful to him, huh?
Urgh, I want it. I want it to sell!
I’m already picturing in my head how I’d go about auctioning it … but right now I have to put a lid on my greed.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that I’ve taken most of the good items on this journey.
It won’t do to be blacklisted by people as an item hog.
And, I guess that encoded note would be more beneficial to me in the long run.
“So… split the antidotes and I take the note and you take the Talisman?”
I reluctantly say.
“…I would like that … but is it okay? There’s also the option of selling it and splitting the money.”
Ah, what an angel -! But … it won’t do to be half-hearted in this.
I need to firmly draw the line … because my conscience won’t let me take advantage of it.
“Nah, you gave me almost all of the raw materials, so it’s fine.”
Besides we haven’t looked at the snake’s drops…
“By the way, what’s with the bear form? Or actually … so you were that bear.”
“Heh? You should have seen my name when you attacked me, right?”
“… Sorry to say it, but the fact that you were – are – a bear kind of stood out too much. I didn’t even think to look at your name, other than to see that it was actually there, which meant you were a player.”
Ah, well, that’s how it is.
“Ou-, well, yeah. Due to this and that, I’m a bear.”
“… What a half-assed explanation.”
“Well what about you? What was with those wires?”
“Ah… apparently [Trap Master] gets a few combat skills. But the consumption is ridiculous… 200 MP, and 5 spools of wire plus 12 spikes… Which was basically all of the wire and spikes in my starter kit.”
“Heh… Wait, a combat skill?! Dammit, I’m so jealous!”
Even without looking, I know there’s no way for [Scribe] to have combat skills… argh!
“Did you seriously not investigate to that degree? Haa… [Trap Master] is crafting-for-combat support, [Scribe] is crafting-for-exploration support, [Crystalographer] is crafting-for-spell support, and [Herbalist] is crafting-for-craft support.”
“Ah, is that so?”
I feel a little bit better about taking [Scribe] now.
Fen sighed heavily.
What? I just ran all the way out hear without doing my research. So?
Well, Fen is the complete opposite of me, who makes quick decisions and goes wherever I feel like.
But it’s all good.
If there are players with different ways of seeing things and different opinions about doing things, the game world can only grow in depth, right?
By this time, Werebear Form has worn off, and we go over to pick up the cobra’s drops.
Since Fen didn’t want them, I got all the raw materials, and then we identified the items.
Light Armor (Shoes)
A pair of lightly armored shoes that are surprisingly light
Special: No movement penalties
Studded Leather Guard +1
Medium Armor (Headpiece)
A forehead guard made of leather and metal studs. The quality is better than normal.
Un. I thought we might have to fight over the headpiece, but even though he does get a bonus to Medium Armor, it seems like Fen prefers DEX based evasion and would much rather have the shoes.
Maa, in a normal party we’d divide everything up before we identified stuff to avoid fighting over who needs what, but with Fen and me, our styles are so different, and he’s pretty unattached to stuff, so it was okay.
“… You have the headpiece off as a cosmetic?”
Fen asked, after I promptly put it on.
What he means is, I toggled my headpiece and cape to not show, even if I’m wearing one.
“Ah… yeah. I mean, this would look stupid on a bear, right?”
… You answered that way too quickly.
I decide to change the subject.
“I wonder if that NPC was a guardian or a thief or what.”
“I guess that’s what we’re supposed to find out. Well, it didn’t seem like he belonged here, using a snake that big for a space like this.”
Ah, un. What Fen said was true.
“Well, it smells like more quests, so I guess that’s fine, haha!”
“… You lead a very carefree life.”
We finally make it out of the ruins, leaving out the door that we should have probably entered through.
It turns out it was the passageway that Fen found at the beginning, before he came to find me and we went running from the mini-hydra.
I stretch as I open my Quest Log.
Yup, I’ve finished the quest [Leaving the Ruins Behind], so whatever that NPC was here for… it’s probably related to something different.
The rewards were a bit lacking … which might mean that whatever quest that NPC triggers might be more lucrative~!
While scanning the list of quests, I spot
[Path of the Scribe](optional)
If you need more information on your new Talent, find an expert in Karolstrem
Karolstrem, the main big city, huh?
[Bolstered Endurance]Lv25 (+3)
[Sharp Senses]Lv21 (+3)
[Spirit of the Wild Hunt]Lv20 (+2)
[Inheritance of the Forest Guardian]Lv22 (+4)
[Bolstered Dexterity]Lv17 (+2)
Avg Lv: 19
Today’s big level up is because of the level of the cobra.
Actually, having to fight the cobra is all Naru’s fault. That encounter is based on the entire party’s BR (Battle Rating), and a random reptile with around that BR would be selected for the encounter.
The Giant Cobra was much too high-leveled for what the devs where aiming for.
Unfortunately, the devs forgot something for the equation, and the algorithm basically assumes that you enter with a full party, so it can be quite tough when there are only a few higher level party members.
Luckily, after Naru fills in a complaint ticket about the painfully blinding light in the area, the devs looked it up and realized their mistake and included the number of party members to be calculated, which reduces the BR used to calculate that encounter.
Maa, it might have been fine to leave it as is, since the Naru and Fen duo were able to subjugate it pretty easily, but parties of all rearguards or something might end up with a difficult time of it.
In the end, it can only be admitted that game developers are constantly debugging even after the games go live.
<a/n: I meant to say it at chapter 20, but I forgot.
I wanted to write this series as a VRMMO series for people who are gamers. Because gamers love hearing stories about GAMES, but a lot of time, VRMMO stories go off and change genres, and it becomes basically an isekai/romance story. Now, it’s not like those stories aren’t fun, and it’s not like all VRMMO stories do that, but y’know, it’s fun to build a game world and think about how gamers would try to exploit play in it.
Basically, I wanted my MC to feel like the MC of the story, but not the MC of the game. (Although she does get MC probability treatment.)
addendum: I forgot some of the links 2 chaps ago, so make sure you didn’t miss a chap>