Chapter 7: The old man challenges the desert.
After arriving at Flaregard yesterday, we prepared our equipment and inventory for our adventure in the desert. In order to survive the desert, several preparations had to be prepared.
In the morning, I showed my face at the guild and searched for any quests available. In the end, we were lucky to accept a quest set in the Sand Canal. It was a quest requesting for Spirit Herbs, an expensive herb used for medicines which can only be collected in the Sand Canal. The reward was high too.
We finally arrived at the Sand Canal with sand as far as the eye can see. The wind was strong as dust was being blown everywhere.
[Ughh. Theres sand in my ears. The sand is everywhere.] (Luna)
Luna eyes began tearing up as she tried desperately to hold down her fox ears. Her large cute fox ears were in pain as the dust was being blown everywhere in the desert.
[Phil, use that to cover Luna’s ears.] (Youya)
[Okay, Youya.] (Phil)
Phil took out a hood from her magic bag and handed it over to Luna, snugly covering her eyes with a hood made for a fox-girl. As one would expected, such a hood wasn’t commercially available in stores so I asked Phil if she could make one yesterday for Luna.
[Aaa. Luna, that looks cute.] (Til)
[Uhn. I like it. Now I can hear properly. Thank you Phil.] (Luna)
[It’s more important that you like it.] (Phil)
Phil had a pretty high wife-power level as she was an expert at sewing, washing, and cooking.
[Everyone, put on the hood that I passed to you yesterday. You’ll be done in pretty quickly if you expose yourself to the heat. The longer you are exposed to the sunlight, the faster you’ll dry up.] (Youya)
Even though it was extremely warm, you’ll come to regret wearing thin clothes and risk exposing your skin towards the searing sun rays as the possibility of sunburn is extremely high. Therefore, it’ll be much more important to wear clothes that cover your body as much as possible.
[Ahh, this cloak feels so refreshing.] (Til)
[Uhn. It’s cooling.] (Luna)
[This.. Is a magic tool isn’t it. Even though we’re walking in the desert it feels refreshingly cold.] (Selene)
The cloaks that everyone had was a mantle which had the magical engraving, Cooling into it made by dwarfs. Dwarven magic tools were necessary for certain dungeons despite their high prices. For example, it would be considered suicidal to challenge the Sand Canal without this mantle.
[Seems like our compass is working properly.] (Youya)
I took out a magic compass from my magic bag as we continued to transverse the desert. In the desert, there was another element that made the dungeon even more difficult than the heat, your sense of direction. There isn’t a single landmark present in the desert and above all, sand was constantly being blown by the wind, causing the visibility even in the day to become worse. If you were to continue travelling blindly in this dungeon, eventually you’ll lose your sense of direction and be unable to progress nor return to the entrance. Furthermore, normal compasses weren’t functioning within the dungeon as the dungeon wasn’t a natural occurrence, but a magical one. The dungeon existed within a different world, causing the normal compasses to become dysfunctional as their principles weren’t functional in this different world. However, truth is that wasn’t the reason why the mortality rate in this dungeon was so high. So long as one kept a levelled mind, it would be possible to survive the dungeon. Thus, the number one reason was distress.
Some adventurers could had entered without a compass whereas some could had accidentally destroyed their compass during a battle. As the case with magical items, a magic compass is expensive and very few parties actually have a spare compass in reserve. Thus the moment it is destroyed, adventurers would fall into despair and panic, causing their entire party to be annihilated. I myself didn’t have a spare compass, however we were safe as Phil had her own magic compass.
[Now then, everyone, be sure to secure your Return Stone.] (Youya)
The girls nodded in response. In these sorts of situation where chaos is equivalent to death, we can truly be thankful for the Return Stones we have in possession. We had also filled our magic bags with as much water as possible due to the tremendous amount of hydration we could lose in the desert. Normally, a person would need about 2 litres of water a day to survive, however, in the desert that amount could easily be doubled. For our adventure this time, it should take about three days to reach our destination. Per person, that would amount to 12 litres for three days, and 60 litres for the entire party. Furthermore, we had to account for a buffer time of 2 days due to any unforeseen circumstances, making it necessary for us to carry 100 litres of water.
Thus, the bare minimum required to survive the desert would be to have a mantle with a cooling effect, a magic compass, a large amount of water plus a magic bag to hold that amount of water and a Return Stone should things become dangerous. Any adventurers attempting to challenge the desert without any of those 5 requirements should be prepared for the possibility of death. This strict condition was the main reason why I had requested the girls not to challenge the dungeons without reuniting with me. There are many dungeons similar to this once we were level 30 and above, with the high possibility of losing your life even after making preparations in advance. I was one of those frequent offenders who entered dungeons without making any preparations in advance. In a sense, this was a way of baptism for adventurers who think that they could survive anything just by being able to defeat monsters and neglecting any other preparations other than their own ability.
[Now then, we’re all ready to depart. Let’s form into 2 separate parties since we have five people. Accounting for the worst-case scenarios, let’s divide ourselves.] (Youya)
Although we could just act together as a single party, the benefits gained by forming an official part was too good to pass up. In the case of a battle, the adventurer who landed the deciding blow would be granted the total experience value, however in a party that experience value would be divided among the members. Furthermore, each time the number of members in the party increases by one, the experience is multiplied by 1.1 times. A party of two would get a total of 1.1 times the original experience, and a party of three would get 1.21, so on and so forth. Aside from that, we were able to roughly sense the location of each party member plus the effective range of the party’s spells and recovery magic. Hence we were going though the trouble to obtain the items required to increase our party limit to five, even if it was extremely difficult.
[It’ll be better for me and Selene to separate, as well as Phil and Til who are in the backguard.] (Youya)
This was the best outcome.
[The low-levelled Phil is currently inferior to everyone else in combat effectiveness, making it important for Luna to protect Phil. Thus, Til and I will be in one party while Selene, Luna and Phil will be in another. I’ll also leave the command of the 2nd party to Phil.] (Youya)
We’ll be safe even if our parties somehow managed to get separated from each other since Phil had years of experience as well as a magic compass in her possession.
Everyone nodded to my decision with no opposition. Frankly it was a little surprising.
[Honestly, I thought that Luna would had voiced out against the idea.] (Youya)
[Muu. Luna wants to be with Youya, but everyone’s life is at risk. Luna can’t be so selfish.] (Luna)
[I see. Good girl.] (Youya)
Luna narrowed her eyes as I gently stroked her head. It seems that she has begun to mature even without me knowing it.
[Youya-niisan, shall we go? It’s time for you protect your cute little sister.] (Til)
(Note: I have been translating Youya-ojiisan as Uncle Youya for Selene, however I am completely unsure on how to translate Youya-niisan since there isn’t a term that fits the meaning.. I may be changing entirely on how their names are said in the future for clarity.)
[I’m a little uneasy about having Til in the two-man party..] (Phil)
[Ahh. That’s mean! I’ll cry you know!] (Til)
Let’s stop the jokes here and be serious. Just by standing here, our strength will be robbed by the heat.
About two hours has passed since we started walking from the entrance. Despite the time, we hadn’t gained that much distance as our feet were becoming heavier and getting caught in the sand. Although we were wearing a magic cloak, it was still painful to walk under the merciless sun rays.
[Youya-niisan, I’m tired.. Piggyback mee.] (Til)
[I’ll think about it. Maybe when you collapse I’ll do it.] (Youya)
Although Til seems to have built up a lot of physical strength and stamina from hunting in the forest, it seems that transversing the desert is difficult as it was completely different from the forest. Although Luna wasn’t complaining as much, her eyes looked completely dead while Selene was dead quiet, silently enduring the elements. Phil on the other hand was on a completely different level as she appeared somewhat normal in the hot weather.
[Youya, there aren’t any adventurers here at all.] (Luna)
[That isn’t surprising since it’s such a harsh dungeon. If you had a choice you would avoid it at all cost.] (Youya)
That included me as I would never had come to this dungeon except for the fact that we needed that item. Luna’s ears which were covered by the hood began twitching quickly, it looks like she has found enemies nearby.
[Enemies extremely close. In front of us. Although it’s strange, since it doesn’t look that close.] (Luna)
Luna strained her eyes as if she was trying desperately to locate the enemies. However, no matter how far we looked there weren’t any monsters in sight. I wonder what that monster could be.
[I’ll head to the front. Even if we can’t see the enemy, the tank must be at the front.] (Selene)
Selene tried to save time and get in position as the vanguard.
[Wait Selene!] (Youya)
As I was also being affected by the heat, I was slow in paying attention to Selene’s actions.
[Uncle Youya, what’s wrong?] (Selene)
My warning was too late as Selene’s legs were being swallowed by the ground, following the sand as she was completely eaten by the large hold. The hole reminded me of a huge Antlion den. In the center of the hole, there was a large caterpillar-like demon with a huge circular mouth and fangs coating the sides capable of swallowing Selene in one huge gulp. It opened its mouth, waiting for its prey to fall into its mouth. It is a Sand Worm, a monster which preys on adventurers by preparing traps in the desert. Selene desperately tried to stop herself from being swallowed but the flowing sand was too heavy for her to resist. She attempted to use the spikes in Renoir’s shield to stabilize however the spike is unable to pierce anything substantial in the sand. It is one of the hardship of battling in the desert as anchoring itself doesn’t work here.
[Til, Phil. I’ll save Selene, fire as many arrows as you can!] (Youya)
[I’m already doing that!] (Til)
[Leave it to me!] (Phil)
Til and Phil began firing their arrows one after another. Til fired her beginner class magic Thunder Arrow while Phil converts her’s and Til’s attacks into the Water (Ice) attribute using Magic Enchantment: Water. I approached the large hole which Selene fell in and threw a rope. She grabs onto the rope however I was unable to catch my footing and was about to fall into the hole.
[Youya, Luna will help as well.] (Luna)
[Thanks you for the save!] (Youya)
Luna hugged me from behind and began pulling from the back, saving me and keeping me from falling into the hole. The rope began to tighten as Selene’s fall came to a stop. The Sand Worm tried to close its mouth right below Selene’s foot, making a large clicking sound. Selene’s face turned blue as she would had most likely been eaten if we were even seconds slower in saving her. Falling right past Selene were Til’s and Phil’s arrows as arrows began raining all over the monster.
The Sand Worm screams in pain as it receives a series of arrows and Thunder Arrows which had their attributes changed to Water (Ice), increasing the amount of damage it received by two times. It quickly turned into blue particles as its fangs appeared as item drops which served as good materials.
Unfortunately, Til told us to stop as the experience values were distributed to me and Til. I had hoped to pass as much experience points to Phil as possible but this is the best we could do right now. I wish that we could get our party of five as soon as possible.
[That was dangerous, Selene.] (Youya)
[Yeah. I felt my lifespan shortening from that.] (Selene)
Monsters which dwelled in deserts were troublesome to deal with. For adventurers, sand was just an annoying part of the environment, however several monsters were capable of utilizing it to their benefit and used it to hunt adventurers.
[Selene, could you pick up the item dropped in the center of the hole. Be sure to hold onto the rope securely and we’ll pull you up.] (Youya)
[Okay, sorry for the trouble.] (Selene)
[Don’t worry about it.] (Youya)
The adventure in the Sand Canal has just begun. Looking at the girls’ stamina.. I can’t help but feel a little uneasy.
It’s been three hours since our encounter with the Sand Worm and we have already encountered several ambushes from several monsters. Usually it’ll be a pleasure for us to encounter monsters, however all the monsters we have encountered so far were cunning monsters who made use of all sorts of troublesome tactics utilizing the desert’s landscape, making it not only physically draining but it also sapped the three girls’ spirits as well. Aside from Phil, the other girls had been much more exhausted than I had expected. I’ve been letting them consume more water than we had prepared, however it still appeared to be too difficult for them. They were already about to consume more amount than we prepared for today.
Looks like they were reaching their limits, especially Til and Selene. It wouldn’t be funny for them to suffer from sunstroke in this situation. Luna’s nose began twitching as she sniffed the air. Then, her tail suddenly rose up with vigor.
[The smell of water! I smell water up ahead and theres a refreshing sound a little further away.] (Luna)
Til and Selene raised their eyes upon hearing Water and cool as they were on the verge of collapsing. Could it be?
[It’s an oasis. The oasis changes location every week in the Sand Canal and is wide enough to swim in. It’s a beautiful lake with drinking water and it is usually kept at a nice temperature. There are also fruits and item only available there.] (Youya)
Everyone’s faces gleamed after listening to my words. It is said that the oasis is the conscience of the dungeon as it completely depended on your luck whether you get to encounter it or not. It can be said that we are extremely lucky. After walking for ten minutes, the sight of greenery and a blue lake could be seen in the desert landscape. The oasis had appeared in front of our eyes.
[Youya-niisan. I can see it! It’s the Oasis! The water, the fruits. Uwahhh!] (Til)
Til jumps out as I grab her nape, causing her to fall onto the sand. I’m glad that I managed to stop her in time this time around.
[Guhee. Youya-niisan. What are you trying to do!] (Til)
[If you were to jump out like this, the oasis will disappear.] (Youya)
There was also a trap placed on the oasis which is widely considered as the conscience of the desert.
[Youya, something is weird. The smell of the water changed directions. It shifted to our right.] (Luna)
[Luna, lead me to the smell.] (Youya)
[Uhn. Okay.] (Luna)
We ignored the oasis which was visible right in front of us, following Luna’s nose instead and changed locations.
[Actually, there are traps set in the oasis as well. The first oasis you will see is a mirage, and the moment you touch that mirage, the real oasis will disappear.] (Youya)
There is a famous story where an adventurer who was lost wandering around the desert, managed to come across the oasis as he was on the verge of death. Deciding to muster the last of his strength, he runs into the oasis just to realise that it was a mirage and collapsed on the spot.
[Take a look. At this distance, if you look closely does the outline of the oasis seems slightly distorted? If you are able to realise that the oasis you are looking at is a mirage, then you’ll be able to look for the real thing by looking for the oasis with a clear outline. This time, we could rely on Luna’s nose so we got a handicap.] (Youya)
[Uhn. Luna did her best.] (Luna)
I began to stroke Luna’s head.
[Just what is this. It has such a bad taste! If you were to see such a thing in a desert like this, anyone wouldn’t hesitate to jump out!] (Til)
[I’ll agree that the trap leaves a bad taste in your mouth.] (Youya)
It is only in a dungeon where you can find this sort of things. I am sure that the person who designed all the dungeons has a great personality. Finally, we arrived at the actual oasis.
[Today’s adventurer ends here. Let’s camp here for the night.] (Youya)
After I said so, the two children began cheering with a bright smile before taking off their cloaks and running to the lake. Then, Selene’s expression began to soften. It seems that our luck was great, encountering the oasis in such a timing. Let’s be sure to enjoy the oasis.