Chapter 23: Business in Karolstrem
“Aaah! Thank you so much! If everyone took the time to clear the path to the ruins in the red rocks of ten Duststorm Coyotes, our research would be much further along.”
“Thank you so much for five of those herbs! Ah, if only we could set up camp in the ruins themselves.”
“Ah, so you have six rock samples from various parts of the ruins! Thank you very much!”
As soon as I stepped out of the Lodgings, I got swarmed with NPCs again.
But this time I was prepared, since I had been going over my Quest Log on the way home!
Although, for some reason, I’m thinking that some of these quests weren’t ones I had initially taken…
Or should I say, I’m insta-completing quests, huh?
That’s the benefits to having a large carry capacity, hahaha!
I should investigate about increasing it even further. Fen said there was a way beyond equipping bag upgrades… maa, when I head back to the main city, I’ll probably find out more information.
But before I head back to Karolstrem, there’s something I have to do.
“Okay, Nee-chan? You HAVE to go and get all the information from the NPC, got it? No, it won’t do for ME to go get the information, you’re the first quest taker so he might give special information to you-!”
And on and on, the Chibi got really annoying …
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll go do things “properly”.
Normally I wouldn’t mind having to do it, or actually, normally I wouldn’t have to be told to do it, but my Item Bag is still 85% full, even after selling off junk items and getting rid of quest items.
AND I have a bunch of stuff in the Bank to sell, so, you know.
I REALLY want to sell all this crap off first, and there are still so many things I have to in preparation for that… ahem, I mean, so many preparations I have to get people to make for me, mwahaha…
Ah… well, let’s hurry and get this over with so Chibi doesn’t yell at me.
“Excuse me, Researcher Byron-san?”
“Hm? Ah, it’s the Adventurer-san from yesterday. Yes, what can I do for you?”
Although he talks calmly, Byron-san quickly stands up from the table.
Don’t look so eager, oi.
“Ah… yes, about the matter you brought to me yesterday, there were some things I had wanted to ask about. Would you happen to have the time…?”
Don’t underestimate my ability to turn on my professionalism. Anyway, for me who will probably end up following my father’s footsteps into a corporation somewhere, it’s not bad to practice it once in a while…
“Yes! Yes, yes. What did you want to ask?”
Byron-san is almost shaking with excitement.
It’s been hard on you, huh? Maa, that’s fine.
“I’d like to confirm the situation. You would like to set up a base camp in those red rock ruins, but 8-10 mini-hydr – multi-headed fire worms come swarming. So you’d like us to keep them from attacking while you guys set up the camp … but what happens afterwards? There’s more than just those 8-10, right?”
Byron-san nodded deeply, pushing his glasses up his nose.
“Indeed, indeed. We have this.”
With those words, Byron-san picked something up from his desk and held it up.
…Hm? The design looks familiar… and there…
“Does it require crystals of some sort?”
I ask, noticing the grooves not unlike the Decoder.
“Oooh! Not just a fierce warrior, but also a scholar? Yes, this is something found in other ruins left by the Faerkin. And, most likely, we will find them here as well. It’s a device that puts up a barrier in a sphere around the device. The more powerful the Barrier Crystal, the bigger the area it encompasses.”
“’Faerkin’. That’s something I’ve been hearing about lately. Who are the Faerkin?”
Those Hidden Ruins had something to do with them too, if I remember correctly.
“Ah… the Faerkin. They are a people who came long before us, a highly advanced race that disappeared inexplicably, only leaving behind cryptic messages about going ‘ahead’. Much of their technology has been lost … is what I’d like to say, but in reality, the Faerkin left behind ruins that taught of their secret technologies.”
Aaah… right, like the one Fen and I were investigating, huh? I wonder if there are anymore. It sure sounds like there might be.
“So, whether or not the Faerkin prepared these ruins just for this reason, despite disappearing from history from ages past, much of their technology was passed on. However, there is still much more that we are still discovering, digging out from their ruins.”
“I see. So those red rocks…”
“We think it’s some sort of facility that archived many things. It’s infuriating to think that we’re so close to all sorts of breakthroughs, and yet…”
That doesn’t really tell me much of anything, but okay.
“Alright, so basically, you want us to hold off the fire worms until the barrier is set up, right?”
“And to escort us to the site, yes.”
Woah, wait up.
“I-I see… so escort you there, and then set up the site… is that really going to be okay, I wonder…”
Byron-san tilted his head, his glasses sliding a little down his nose.
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll only be an island in the desert, right? That gonna be okay?”
“Aaaah, yes. We will be isolated, but we can hire adventurers and the like to run supplies and such for us. And there will be a Sub-Teleporter here.”
“Yes. Unlike the Teleporters in the main towns, the Sub-Teleporters can only teleport between two locations. We will link the Red Rock Ruins’ Sub-Teleporter to Nortius … if we can make a base.”
“I see… then, those fire worm guys, what are they?”
“They seem to be guarding the ruins. Although they look like small hydras, their heads do not grow back once cut, and the center head breathes fire.”
“Center head, huh…”
And which of those 5 heads would be considered the “center”, I wonder…
When I reach Karolstrem, the first thing I do is,
“Ooooi, Chibi-chan, what are you up to?”
After a few seconds, I hear an exasperated sigh after Friend Chat connects, and Toru says,
[“… Nee-chan. I’m ok with you calling me Chibi, but Chibi-chan is … Anyway, we’re over by the NPC cafe, Kohane. That’s just a little east of the Town Square, if you pull up the map.”]
Yup, it’s a (forced) meeting with Toru and company.
And of course Toru’s doing the forcing.
Maa, I’m pushing off the troublesome stuff onto him, so let’s not mind it too much.
A few moments later, I’m sitting down in a private room of Karolstrem’s main NPC-run restaurant, Little Wings/Kohane.
By the way, we’re doing everything through party chat, to avoid eaves-droppers.
The participants are me, Toru, Yoh, and Potato.
I question the security of have Potato in it, but … iyaa, well, whatever. Being a member of Toru’s main party, he’d be joining in at some point, anyway, and it’s no skin off my back if something gets leaked.
Truthfully, Fen should be here too, but … eh… I’ve been unable to contact him through any of the chats. Although he should be online … maa, he’s a solo-gamer to the extreme, I guess.
“A 10-party raid… isn’t that a little too flashy for a raid that’s for players still stuck under level 20?”
“Yeah, I was thinking that too … just what kind of quest is this going to end up being?”
Yoh and Toru are already discussing that type of thing, like scale and game design.
“Oi, do that later. I told you I got stuff to do, yeah?”
Jeez, these two.
“Hahaha, well this is already pretty exciting!”
Potato’s just sitting there, laughing his head off.
“Nmaa, obviously I don’t really care about who ya get in the group, but you have to include this guy. Fenrys. That’s his nickname and actual handlename, here, spelled like this.”
I show a screencap of Fen to the other three.
“Eh, that’s rare, for Nee-chan to make specifications. Although that’s fine. Um… I don’t recognize this player. Do you know him from another game?”
“Nah, but we were running together when I fulfilled the requirements for the Raid, so it’s only fair. Though he wasn’t around when I got the quest, but, ya know.”
“No, I got it, it’s only good manners like that.”
Toru tapped away at the virtual keyboard as he made the note to include Fen.
“Actually, Naru-nee… There’s someone other than Naru-nee out in the desert area already?!”
What’s with that completely shocked look, Yoh?
“What do you mean by that, ha?”
I shoot him a kind of dirty look.
“Noooo, no, nothing. Just, I mean, someone who could actually run with Naru-nee… I wouldn’t have enough lives…”
“… Just what do you guys think I am?”
Toru and Yoh averted their eyes.
“Gahaha, I came because I wanted to watch the fun, but it’s kind of better than expected!”
Potato leaned back on his chair, crossing his arms behind his head, laughing.
“Ah, I see. He’s just here to … who’s a show, ah?!”
“Ahem, er, well, so what’s this Fenrys guy’s specialty?”
Toru quickly changed the subject.
“Scout. A crit-aimer, but when we split, his Atk was pretty low so he only does average damage. Evasion based defense. Maa, a few surprises, but that’s mostly it.”
It’s taboo to tell too much of the special attacks of others … but more importantly, it would totally suck if someone told about all of my abilities, so it’d be better to avoid doing it to others.
“…Okay, so he’d be better if we put him in as crowd-control. Then you fought one of those things… how hard was it to defeat?”
“… What makes you think I defeated it?”
“EH?! N-no, well, it’s Nee-chan, ne?”
“Un. This is totally unexpected!”
“You two … Only an idiot would continue to fight something that could 1-hit you.”
“Is this even going to be possible to do with 60 people?”
“Again, what do you guys think I am?! Oi, brats, shape up or I’m gonna beat you, guards be damned!”
“Sorry, sorry… maa, truthfully, in a few more weeks, I bet people will start hitting Nee-chan’s level – qualitatively. But it’s just weird to think a lower level monster, even a raid monster, would give you that much trouble, Nee-chan.”
“Seriously. If I didn’t guard, I would be sitting out on a death penalty after that one hit I took. I had to throw Fen into the river before he got squished, and then we had to almost drown to get away. And apparently, we didn’t even taste its fire-breath.”
Silence descended for a moment.
“… Okay, I was kidding earlier, but… will we really be able to do this? It’s not like adding more people is going to make a difference with that kind of firepower…”
Yoh frowned, lowering his head onto his arms.
“Um… ain’t that because … nah?”
Potato pointed a finger casually at me.
“Aaah… what an oversight.”
All three of them have “locked on” to me.
“No… well, you…. you’re still in beginner’s armor.”
“That’s right. Aaaaah. I see. In this game, defense is mostly armor-based.”
Now I understand. I mean, I did think it was weird that a quest for AvgLv5 had a monster like THAT guarding the entrance, even if it was supposed to take a party to take out. So it’s because I haven’t upgraded my equipment, nearly at all.
Perhaps, if I wasn’t too busy dodging for my life, I would have seen that I was doing more damage to it than I thought?
“Yeah… it sucks BIG time.”
Potato sighed melodramatically and shook his head. Not a huge fan of the armor-based defense, huh?
“Eh… I like it. Since wearing different types of armor have varying demerits, it keeps it more balanced, right?”
“Eh… but then you can’t be super OP~.”
Toru glanced over at me, and said,
“Most gamers have already gone through two armor upgrades by now… But you skipped out on any of the quests that give you armor… and you still went out and did all sorts of crazy stuff.”
“… Seriously, Naru-nee, you’re a monster…”
I ignore them. If I keep commenting on every time they say something like that, it’s going to take forever.
Instead, I say,
“Two full armor upgrades by AvgLv10… this game levels way too slowly.”
“But you don’t really notice it, since there are other ways to get stronger than just leveling. And, it feels more realistic.”
And there’s the two sides of the argument right there in front of me.
Maa, I don’t really care either way, as long as I can have fun.
Toru frowned, drumming his fingers on the table.
“What I’m worried about is, how dynamic is this world? I mean, if we fight it off, is that it? No one else gets to do it?”
Not like anyone would know the answer.
“… I’m not sure. But I’ll leave it to you, Chibi!”
“Gee… thanks, Nee-chan.”
Yeah, that’s the most troublesome part of the situation.
No matter how this is handled, there will be people who will yell about how the personnel selection is unfair.
And that’s why it’s all up to the Chibi!
There wasn’t much more to say after that, and half of it was just those brats messing around, so after handing all the details over to Toru, I left the three of them to it.
And now, my second line of business is …
… no, not with Chie to deal with my armor issue, but instead a kemonomimi with tiny, round ears popping out of a swathe of black cloth wrapped around its head and face, lurking in a dark corner of an alley.
Though, it’s a player on my Friends List, so no matter how sneaky he’s acting, if I stare at him for 10 seconds without moving, he’s nicely high-lighted in blue.
Although he turned off his overhead name, ne.
Well, most players do that… in fact, normally only PKs have their names (forced) over their heads.
Anyway, I approach the shady-looking figure all draped in black.
“Goya. Long time no see.”
“Oooohoho, if it ain’t Naru-han. Wassup? Ahh … come t’look at my goods, na? I see, I see. In my stand, dear customer, are things ya can’t find anywhere else! There are even things ya can’t get through … legal means.”
Goya rubbed his hands together, lowering his head and raising his shoulders as he cackled and rocked from side to side.
I laugh outright.
“Pfft, come off it, you faker. We all know your goods are legitimate.”
At my words, Goya drops the act and shakes his head.
“Ah, Naru-han never appreciates a good roleplay… though I don’t hate that part about her. Anyway, it ain’t been proven there aren’t illegal items yet, so I can still hope to do black market dealings in the game. I still won’t touch real-money transactions, though. So? Again, wassup?”
Goya just doesn’t change. He’s kind of a weird university student who’s into economics, and every time someone tries to approach him with RMTs,
“What ya doing, polluting this world with non-native currencies?!”
And chases them out.
Even though the games themselves often use RMTs too…
Goya usually plays mage-type characters, but relatively speaking, he spends most of his time trading items in the main cities.
I cough and say,
“Hm… well, there are things I want you to sell, and there are also things I want to consult you about. I’ve been out on the frontier, so I don’t know the economics in the city.”
“Ooooohohoho. I see, I see. It’ll cost ya~.”
Goya lifts his right hand, showing me the circle he was making with his forefinger and thumb, and narrows his eyes.
I assume he’s also making a greedy smile underneath the cloth.
“Yeah, yeah. I get it. By the way, what are you this time?”
“Oooh, well, I’m a [Dark] and [Light] mage~.”
“Opposite elements … they’re not going to have any overlapping effects at all, oi! Well, you don’t care about that kind of efficiency, so whatever.”
“Oooohoho, Naru-han understands it well.”
“But that’s not what I mean. What kind of Beastkin are you? Small round ears, no tail … I think? Ah, no. There’s a nub there…”
“Mou, you can’t tell? I’m a hamster!”
“… That’s an option?!”
Effects of different types of armor (without the effects of material, enchantments, embroideries, etc):
Clothing: No movement reduction, no cast time increase, no armor rating increase
Light Armor: minimal movement reduction, minimal cast time increase, minimal armor rating increase
Leather Armor: slight movement reduction, slight cast time increase, slight armor rating increase
Lacquered Armor: moderate movement reduction, moderate cast time increase, moderate armor rating increase
Chain Armor: moderate movement reduction, moderate cast time increase, moderate armor rating increase
Plate Armor: large movement reduction, large cast time increase, large armor rating increase
It’s pretty linear. With the corresponding Talents, the demerits can be decreased while the effectiveness of the armor increase.
Of course, enchanted armors and the like can have effects that are more attractive than just the plain effects from the armor type.
<A/n: Yes. A money greedy hamster beastkin.
Also, another Cursed chapter [here]>