V2 Chapter 12: The old man fights with a new party

Today our main objective was to go on an adventure in the labyrinth within the Starfish Larvae.

It is our first adventure as a party of four consisting of the Crusader Selene, the Thief Luna, the Spirit Archer Til and me, the Magic Knight Youya. With the addition of a tank cum healer Selene, our party’s safety net has become much safer and stable than before.

Luna and Till were energetic as usual and Selene was ready to leave, dressed in my spare dragon skin armour with Renoir’s shield on her dominant right hand and a gauntlet on her left. She also had a spare sword hanging on her waist.

It was an indication of her conscious effort to pick up Renoir’s battle style. The sword on her waist was not her main weapon but rather a spare for the absolute worst scenario. In this world, there was a weird interaction when a person was capable of wielding two different weapons on one arm. Only the first item would contribute to the user’s status. In Selene’s case, it was the gauntlet. Whenever the user switches their equipment in a dungeon, the user’s status would remain the same although they were using a different weapon. Hence, even if Selene swapped out her gauntlet with a sword, her status wouldn’t have a rise in attack power.

 

 [Everyone our goal today is to enter the Starfish Larvae once more.] (Youya)

 

Since it was the day after respawn day, we didn’t have any difficulty in hunting monsters in the forest of God Trees. However, it is necessary for us to enter the labyrinth at least once to determine how much the hand of the pendulum clock has moved in this period of time. This would allow us to estimate when the egg will spawn in the forest.

 

 [Uhn. Luna is confident. Since the last time Youya has taught Luna a lot of things about traps and stuff.] (Luna)

 [Today we will be sure to complete the dungeon before our bodies become heavy again!] (Til)

 

The last time we entered the labyrinth, the two of them were completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of traps and it’s curse. By the time we had arrived at the exit, the two of them were exhausted and were in a terrible state. This time they looked much more confident about conquering the labyrinth. Feeling relaxed and being confident is a good thing, however if the tension from the labyrinth was diminished and they were to get caught in another trap, there wouldn’t be a reason for us to laugh anymore. I can only hope that they would concentrate when we are in the dungeon.

 

 [Are you okay Selene?] (Youya)

 [I’m fine. There isn’t any problem, I’m just a little intimidated.] (Selene)

 [Understood. Don’t push yourself.] (Youya)

 

Previously Selene was betrayed by her bodyguard and shoved into the Starfish Larvae’s path, accidentally entering the labyrinth and went through a frightening experience.

While we were hunting monsters in the forest of God Trees, our target, the Starfish Larvae appeared in the distance. To avoid being eaten, the surrounding adventurers began to disperse and search for the closest God Tree. Soon after, the adventurers around us were completely gone and we began to walk towards the Starfish Larvae. The massive creature began increasing in size as it’s green outer shell with a pattern resembling an eye became more and more visible. It’s mouth devouring everything in its path. The fear it appeared to instill was bone chilling and so intimidating that only someone who knew about the labyrinth would stand in its path. Luna and Til began clinging onto my arms while Selene pressed her face against my back. This was the case if you were extremely frightened to the point that you aren’t able to move, but looking at it is actually a beautiful pattern.

The Starfish Larvae was finally approaching us as our surroundings was blocked by the sight of its mouth.

 

 [It could actually be this fear that is preventing any rumors about the Starfish Larvae and the labyrinth in it’s stomach. For anyone else to even attempt this would mean suicide and the person who mentioned the labyrinth would be delusional.] (Youya)

 

While we were swallowed by the Starfish Larvae, I muttered to myself.

Not just that but the people who miraculously got eaten and survived the labyrinth would  recommend everyone to run away to prevent getting eaten. It was impossible to think otherwise. It is impossible to attempt entering the labyrinth unless it was a game where you would be able to put your life on the line to verify it. Furthermore if someone were to attempt to get eaten while the Starfish Larvae was enraged, the person would only have death waiting for them.

 

Now then, the labyrinth in the Starfish Larvae. I hope we will be able to exit quickly this time.

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I opened my eyes. The three girls were still grabbing me tightly.

 

 [Ladies? It’s already over, we’ve entered the labyrinth. Could you three please let go of me? I can’t prepare the light crystal like this.] (Youya)

 [Uhn. Understood. It was scary.] (Luna)

 [Fuu.. It’s as bad for your heart as ever.] (Til)

 [I concur… Even if we know what’s coming, it still takes a lot of courage to stand in the Starfish Larvae’s path.] (Selene)

 

After everyone let go of me, I took out the light crystal from the hidden room, revealing our surroundings and the labyrinth.

 

 [Luna and Selene, both of you take a light crystal. Til, I’m sure you don’t need one?] (Youya)

 [Of course since I have these jade eyes of mine.] (Til)

 

I was envious of Til’s special jade eyes. Even in pitch darkness she is capable of looking at the surroundings. I tied the light crystal to both Luna and Selene’s heads.

 

 [There are even items that are as convenient as this.. Even without mana it is capable of shining continuously.] (Selene)

 [It is a pretty rare magic tool. If you lose it we don’t have a replacement for it nor can we replenish our stock so please take good care of it.] (Youya)

 

Selene nodded her head with a determined look.

Although it is possible to replenish our light crystals by heading to the level reset room, but it would be impossible for us to reset our levels if we depleted the light crystals in the room as it was required to activate the level reset function. In fact, I had even left light crystals in the event that there are other adventurers who discover the room.

After our conversation, we got into our party formation. Luna was at the head with her exploration skills. Right behind her was Selene while  Til was all the way at the back while I am in the middle. This way, it would be easier for me to react and deal with any trouble that comes to us, whether it was the front or the back.

 

 [Luna, look at the ground directly in front of you. There is a trap two steps ahead of you. A colour difference in the ground is the characteristic of a pitfall trap.] (Youya)

 [Now that you mentioned it, it looks obvious. However, isn’t there a chance that the ground happened to look different?] (Luna)

 [Whenever the colour of the ground changes to indicate a pitfall trap, the area of the ground would have an unnatural change in colour similar to a square area. It is unlikely that this sort of colour change would happen naturally.] (Youya)

 [Ah. That’s true. It’s easy to understand.] (Luna)

 

I explained the method to distinguish a pitfall trap in the ground. Although it was possible for her to learn the skill Trap Detection, but as demonstrated it is possible to detect a trap based on experience and knowledge. I would prefer to use her skill points on something else.

 

 [Luna, did you level up the skill I told you about yesterday?] (Youya)
 [Uhn. I levelled Increased Drop Rate to level 2, the maximum I can.] (Luna)

 [That’s good enough, it’ll help us tremendously.] (Youya)

 

Increased Drop Rate functioned exactly as it’s name implies. With each level, the drop rate of an item is increased by 0.2 times. Once you raise it to level 10, an item’s drop rate would increase to 3 times it’s original drop rate.

Basically tripling our harvest. There isn’t any reason to argue against taking this skill. It was a skill that everyone wished to have, however the prerequisites for taking this skill is quite a troublesome task. It can’t be learnt unless the total skill points placed into the exploration tree is 20. In Luna’s case, she had 10 points into Presence Detection, 5 into Lockpick and 5 into Treasure Sense.

Luna’s current level was level 23 and her total number of skill points were 27 from leveling up 22 times and her initial 5 points. She was only able to get 2 points into Increased Drop Rate as 20 points were focused onto the exploration tree and 5 points was placed into Assassinate.

In the case of an ordinary Thief, they had two skills that they had to learn in order to become a reliable fighting force. One skill to increase their chances of inflicting an abnormal status as well as a skill to increase their attack multiplier whenever their target has a status abnormality. As they required multiple skills just to  participate in a battle, they did not have the leeway to place 20 points into the exploration tree, hence the skill wouldn’t even appear in their skill tree at all.

Speaking of which, there was no definitive proof about the prerequisites for the skill in this world Furthermore even if someone discovered the skill, they wouldn’t tell anyone about it. Adventurers wouldn’t easily reveal their skills especially something as valuable as this.

 

 [From now on, you will put skill points in Increased Drop Rate until it is level 10. It will completely change how efficient our hunts will be from now on.] (Youya)

 [Let’s do it! Let’s earn lots of experience to level up. With Youya around it won’t be long.] (Luna)

 

I smiled bitterly at Luna’s response.

Normally it would be hard to raise our level beyond level 20. The experience required for us to level after level 20 increases dramatically, causing the majority of adventurers around the world to be about mid twenties. Furthermore the monsters in this level will become more ferocious and difficult to hunt.. Thanks to the large competition and difficulty of the monsters, it becomes much harder to raise our level. However, in that regard, we have a dungeon such as the labyrinth in the Starfish Larvae that makes it much easier for us to find monsters. Without the labyrinth, raising our levels at this point would become much harder.

 

 [As we discussed yesterday, I’ll have Selene act as our party’s shield. It is a difficult role. Put your spirit into it.] (Youya)

 [Leave it to me. Being the party’s shield is the best job for a crusader. I’ll show you that I can do it.] (Selene)

 

Selene gave a reliable response. With this, our party continued into the labyrinth with Luna guiding us.

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Since we were travelling on a different route from the last time, the number of monsters present here was plenty as they hadn’t been thinned out at all. We quickly encountered our first group of monsters.

Twenty metres ahead of the straight path stood a small group of Horned Boars. It was a monster that greatly resembled a boar which we also hunted for our Pork (Average) collection quest. Back then there was an entire herd, however this time there were only four of them sleeping soundly.

If it was just four of them, we could annihilate them with magic and arrows from Til before they could notice us, However, in order to let Selene act as our shield, we decided to attack them front on.

It was our first fight together with Selene. I couldn’t look forward to having our first battle in a situation where we could be wiped out due to our tank being inexperienced. First  we had to have a battle where it would be safe for Selene to fail.

Selene walked forward towards the monsters, however she had not noticed that the Horned Boars were soundly asleep.

 

 [War Cry] (Selene)

 

Selene activated her skill as a high pitched shrill echoed throughout the path. It was a skill that caused a foe to focus their aggression onto themselves. Warriors and Magic Knights were both capable of casting War Cry, however whenever a crusader activates that skill, it gains a bonus effect where the monster would have an increased aggression towards them and a longer duration..

The Horned Boars woke up and rushed straight towards Selene who held up her buckler in response. No matter how high your defensive stats were as a shield, with this large of a distance and their large body, anyone receiving 4 charging Horned Boars  would definitely be blown off, especially with a buckler.

 

Normally that is.

Selene poured her magic power into the shield and activated the special function of Renoir’s shield. Yesterday, I taught her about the special liquid hidden within the shield. A variation of the Steel of God that was in a liquid state which could be solidified by pouring mana into it, producing a spike larger and longer than the buckler capable of piercing into the earth, rooting the shield into the ground..

This was the method that the battle princess Renoir resorted for defense. By firmly rooting yourself to the ground, you enable yourself to directly receive an opponent’s charge. Selene dropped her hips and leans her entire body’s weight onto the shield before activating another skill.

 

 [Fortress] (Selene)

 

( the kanji for the skill directly translates to castle wall but I’m using fortress since it seems more fitting and mainstream.)

 

The shield began to illuminate as the light stretched out several metres to both sides originating from the center of the shield. It was the special skill exclusive to crusaders that increased the effective range of the shield, your own weight, muscular strength, defense and magic defense, making it possible to defend against multiple enemies. Although its effects only lasted twenty seconds, this skill makes it possible to be a tank far superior to a warrior or a magic knight.

It is a skill with a maximum level of 10, however it was a skill that was the very definition of a crusader. Having no intentions about running and acting as a shield for the party.

In the next moment, a heavy crash could be heard as the four Horned Boars crashed against the shield and the light. The shock received by the light was transmitted to the shield as Selene gritted her teeth enduring the shock. The ground was gouged out as Selene was pushed back but her shield remains sturdy without any signs of losing her balance. After several seconds, the Horned Boars’ rush was completely halted.

Luna and I rushed towards the boars at the left and right of Selene while the Horned Boar directly in front of Selene was shot by a barrage of arrows. After watching it’s companions being killed, the last Horned Boar tried to escape, exposing its back to Selene. Selene retracted the spikes and readies her shield. As I demonstrated in the mock battle yesterday, Selene took a deep breath and lowered her waist and before extending her arm, the spike protrudes from the shield at the speed of sound. With the double acceleration from the arm and the spike. It was the move that I used to defeat her during our bout last night, however there was just one crucial difference between her attack and mine. For crusaders, this blow could be strengthened even further.

 

 [Shield Bash!] (Selene)

 

Shield Bash was the crusader’s only attack skill. It’s unique characteristic was dealing damage based on its user’s defensive strength instead of attack power and had an excellent power multiplier as well. Her defensive power which was raised by Fortress replaced her attacking power. A large gong resonated throughout the path as the spike penetrates the Horned Boar. It possessed so much kinetic energy that the insides of the monster was thrown out of its body and all over the pathway.

 

 [So much power.. I’m surprised.] (Selene)

 

More than the observers, the one who executed the attack was more surprised than us. This was the reason why the battle princess Renoir abandoned the idea of using a sword. Rather than using a sword and a shield, using a gauntlet and a shield would raise her defense power even further, increasing the power of Shield Bash. Her favourite strategy was to defend against an attack with her shield before killing him in a single hit with Shield Bash. This strategy had several merits to it. Her gauntlet had the effect of increasing the user’s magic power. If her magic power was increased, her recovery spells would become better as well. However, a gauntlet capable of raising the user’s magic power was rare. The gauntlet Selene was wearing is just a simple durable gauntlet. In order to make use of the crusader’s special characteristic, using a shield and a gauntlet was the optimal loadout rather than using a sword. Yesterday, after listening to my explanation and after several discussions, Selene decided to adopt Renoir’s style of fighting.

 

 [Selene, that was a good showing of a shield. The last move was good but catching their rush was good as well.] (Youya)
 [It’s so easy to assassin enemies if they are not moving! Thank you Selene.] (Luna)

 [Maa. I’m capable of hitting fast moving targets regardless. But it’s nice to shoot with confidence once in a while.] (Til)

 

We can feel relieved knowing that we have a shield capable of attracting and holding enemies. With this, we can focus on launching attacks more than ever and our hunting efficiency will improve.

 

 [Having friends is a nice thing. I’ve been having a lot more fun than usual. Now, let’s hurry on ahead. I still need more training in order to practice this style.] (Selene)

 

Selene’s breathe became harsher with excitement. Although she looked much more mature than Luna, on the inside she wasn’t that much different from Luna and Til. If she had a fox tail like Luna did, the tail would inflate and be waving back and forth. Nonetheless, she was still a reliable child.

Let’s continue to work hard for the party from now on.

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