Chapter 13: The old man goes out with the prince 

At daybreak, we finally arrived at Selene’s hometown, the Laluzulu Kingdom.

Right before entering the city, Selene had revealed her identity, causing a huge commotion to occur. We proceeded to leave the raptor carriage with the guardsmen and waited in the guest room. 

Since the guards were convinced by Selene’s true identity, Princess Lutra, this became an even larger deal. As a result, their higher ups decided to bring someone capable of confirming her identity. However it seemed that it was a lot more trouble than we thought as it had already been two hours.

  [Uhn. I’m glad. Selene finally returned to her home.] (Luna)

Luna was talking to Selene as she accepted the sweets served to her by the guards. The guards were exceptionally considerate, going through the trouble of serving us light snacks as the preparation took a lot longer than expected.

  [That’s right. Although, I can’t let my guard down.] (Lutra)

  [Selene.. Sorry, I guess you are Lutra now? As Lutra mentioned, we can’t afford to be careless. We may even be in the most danger we’ve ever been. If our opponents was malicious enough, the battle may as well have already begun. They could insist that the Lutra that appeared was an imposter, or even outright attempt to erase any trace of this incident.] (Yuuya)

Luna and Til, the glutton duo stiffened up at my words. In contrast, Phil was prepared for battle even before I said anything. Similarly, Selene was prepared for the situation as well. Both of them most likely knew from their own experiences, as a seasoned adventurer and a political figure how dirty the real world was.

  [Uhn. Understood. Selene can be relaxed. Luna will assassinate anyone who comes close to Selene.] (Luna)

  [I’m here too you know.. Although, in a small room like this, my bow won’t be as effective.] (Til)

  [Kyu!]

The duo and Erik seemed to be filled with energy from our short exchange.

  [Luna, Til, Erik. Thank you. I’m glad that you feel that way. ] (Selene)

  [Although it’s good to be motivated, the moment a battle is about to break out, I want everyone to use their Return Stones immediately. Starting a battle here is a fool’s errand.] (Yuuya)

Even if a battle were to break out, I’m confident that we would emerge from the battle in good condition, however in the event of the worst condition I decided that using our Return Stones was the best course of action.

Although the item was used to escape dungeons, it’s actual ability was to return to it’s last recorded dungeon entrance. It could also be used outside of dungeons, meaning that we would be able to escape immediately to Grannel.

We were already on the verge of reaching level 40. In both me and Phil’s case, with our special benefits from our reset we were closer to level 50 instead. The girls were similar in our levels however just the stats they gained from their natural levels was enough to show that they were blessed by the gods. Furthermore, they were also naturally talented. They were already well on their way to catching up to me and Phil.

  [Understood. Luna will do as Yuuya says.] (Luna)
  [Return Stones are really convenient huh.] (Til)

  [That’s why their so highly valued. If they weren’t so highly priced then people would be using them much more often… Also, the two of you, we’re finally in the Laluzulu Kingdom. Her name is Lutra, not Selene.] (Yuuya)

  [Uhn. But it feels weird.] (Luna)

  [Right? We’ve always been calling her Selene.] (Til)

Lutra smiled at their responses.

  [I feel the same way. I’ve gotten much more attached to Selene than Lutra recently. Especially since it’s a name given by Yuuya-ojisama. I prefer it much more to Lutra.] (Lutra)

Lutra began to mention her liking for her alias, however it was time for her to be addressed properly as there were eyes all around us.

  [In that case, in the Laluzulu Kingdom you are Lutra! On the outside, you are Selene!] (Luna)

  [Sure, that sounds great.] (Lutra)

At this time, the guards had brought over several cups of tea and served them to us.

We ensured that there wasn’t any poison in the tea using a magic item that was capable of doing so. It was an essential item as our opponents could fairly well be capable of drugging our tea with poison or sleeping pills.

After we finished our tea, we heard a knock as the door slowly opened.

There were several soldiers escorting a youth dressed in white. The youth seemed to radiate a feeling of warmth as there was nothing to dislike about him. Furthermore his body seemed well conditioned and tanned with muscles that weren’t unnecessarily large. Such a body filled with lean muscle was an efficient body for someone who specialised in swordsmanship providing the necessary strength without overcompensating. Furthermore there was a strong sense of charisma radiating from his well-featured and attractive face as he looked towards Lutra.

  [Without a doubt, she’s my younger sister. Lutra, I’m glad that you returned home safely. I felt my blood rush to my face when I heard the news about your disappearance… Even after organizing the search team, there was no news about your rescue. After all this time, I’m happy that you’re back safe and sound. Truly.] 

Although I had trouble recalling his name, I finally remembered the name of Lutra’s elder brother, Prince Aleck. It seems that he had still retained some of his features from when he was young.

  [It’s a pleasant surprise to have my elder brother going out of his way to visit me.] (Selene)

  [Isn’t it a normal reaction for a brother to personally ensure his younger sister’s safety? Now, let’s return to the castle. Our father is worried about you.] (Aleck)

Looking at the warm expression Lutra had in response to her brother, it seemed like this was his honest expression. This was her brother expressing his anxiety over her younger sister whom he thought was gone.

  [You’re being obtuse. Saying this although you’ve made countless attempts to harass and obstruct me… I’m saying this as I’m not as good at playing games as you. It was you who threatened the knight into killing me, then proceeded to kill her and brush the incident off as an accident in the dungeon. I wonder if the knights sent on the search team met an unfortunate accident or were silenced instead. Putting myself aside, you’re involving and underestimating everyone else around us. One wrong move, and you’ll be drown in contempt.] (Lutra)

Lutra threw a straight punch towards her brother. 

Although I wouldn’t necessarily call her actions correct here, the path ahead of her was going to be thorny regardless. There shouldn’t be any particular problems with this.

  [What do you mean? How would I ever consider harming my own sister? I will admit to hindering your growth. I do have the power for that, after all my dear sister’s mother is merely a concubine. However it is ridiculous to be furious just for that. Knowing how to use everything at your disposal effectively to create an advantageous situation before the ceremony and increasing the chance of success is a necessary ability for a king. That is how our inheritance ceremony is designed isn’t it?] (Aleck)

Suppressing her murderous intent towards her brother who readily admitted to his sabotage while denying his murderous actions, Lutra continued to clench her fists.

  [I have never once considered putting your life in jeopardy. Don’t misunderstand me. I’ve only done what I have to, to sabotage you in order to become the king. I still love my younger sister. Once the inheritance ceremony is over, I wholeheartedly wish to return to our former relationship of loving brothers and sisters as well as to compensate for my coldheartedness for our past.] (Aleck)

  [What are you saying. Ever since we were children until now, all you’ve done is get in my way while mocking me, not paying me any heed at all.] (Lutra)

While Lutra firmly denied her brother’s words, it was merely lip service as I felt that somewhere in her heart, she truly wished for her brother’s words to be true.

  [There are two reasons. First, the moment I heard about your disappearance. I truly regretted having our relationship ending like this without having a chance to reconcile and decided that I would speak only the truth once you returned. The second was to solidify my conviction to becoming the king. Would the gentle Lutra from our childhood wholeheartedly dedicate herself to her craft if she knew about my intentions?] (Aleck)

After saying his piece, his brother let out a hearty laugh as Luna and the other girls recoiled in shock. It felt like Lutra’s brother character was much more horrifying than we had heard.

  [It is far too difficult for me to believe any of your words right now. You aren’t the only person vying for the position of the king. I’m sure that our sister has heard of your wrongdoings.] (Lutra)

  [Wrongdoings, me? You’re not wrong in saying that I would have to dirty my hands for our kingdom to strive.] (Aleck)

  [That’s not what I’m referring to. Aniue has changed. You weren’t a person who would succumb to greed and inflict despair onto your people.] (Lutra)

Prince Aleck covered his eyes with his hands before seemingly coming to a conclusion. 

  […. I see. I understand now. It must be Aure. It definitely seems like something she would do. Despicable doesn’t even describe her. Taking advantage of the fact that I intended to avoid a confrontation with you until the ceremony was over. It seems that I still have a long way to go. I was done in quite badly.] (Aleck)

Despite saying such self-deprecating words, Prince Aleck seemed to have an extremely vicious smile.

  [Our story ends here. There’s a carriage waiting outside. Although it’s quite a simple carriage, at the very least it’s ready for a simple parade. Go and reassure the public by showing your face. You are the one who is loved by the public, more so than any of your siblings…. This is another reason why I would never put your life in danger. You, known as the reincarnate of the legendary battle princess Renoir, would be the perfect tool to unify the public under our banner, the ultimate weapon of the Laluzulu Kingdom. It’ll be a waste if anything were to happen to you.] (Aleck)

In such a short amount of time, they worked surprisingly effectively, preparing a parade in this short timeframe. Although he was a prince, he knew perfectly well the limits of his power, grasping the power given by his position and was talented in using other people’s talents as well. He was definitely talented and popular.

In the first place, he would had never prepared the parade if it wasn’t known that the attention between the public and Lutra was mutual…. Is this really the same person who was blinded by his ambition and greed?

Something feels off here. 

Prince Aleck walked in front of me and lowered his head.

  [It’s been a long time, Weakest Strongest Knight, Yuuya Grandwood. Not only have you saved our country in the past, but you have saved my younger sister. As the first prince of the Laluzulu Kingdom, thank you from the bottom of my heart.] (Aleck)

His movements were refined, displaying his position as a prince even in the form of a bow.

  [… I only saved Lutra because I wanted to.] (Yuuya)

  [Even so, I’m grateful. I’m certain that if you weren’t around, then Lutra would most certainly be dead. As expected of her knight. If it’s possible, I hope that you can continue to be by her side.] (Aleck)

  [I’ll think about it.] (Yuuya)

  [I look forward to a favourable response. We’ll prepare the appropriate honor as well as reward.] (Aleck)

  [Prince Aleck. You don’t have to behave respectfully towards me. You are the prince of a country. If you don’t behave so, I’ll be in a bind on how I should behave towards you.] (Yuuya)

  [Isn’t it natural for me to be respectful towards my sister’s benefactor? However, if you say so, I’ll refrain from it…. Now then, shall we head towards the carriage? I’ll be riding the carriage with you so I’ll behave as your guide during the parade since it’ll be travelling around the town. Our castle has enough rooms and plenty of food so please enjoy your stay here until the inheritance ceremony.] (Aleck)

And thus, without being able to come to a conclusion, we headed towards the carriage to begin the parade. The highways were secured by soldiers on both sides, whom illuminated the area with torches in their hands while controlling the crowds of people on the sidewalks.

Whenever Lutra raised her hands, numerous cheers could be heard from the public, displaying how popular she was as the icon of the legendary Renoir. Even I, who was standing next to her was receiving a warm welcome.

It seems that in this short amount of time, rumors were going about that I was one of the heroes who had saved the kingdom in the past and became a knight of the young Princess Lutra. 

The rumors were definitely not wrong, however as rumors often did, it also spread the wrong information around, causing people to think that we were also in love or other things along that setting.

The parade continued until we arrived at a small hill covered with marble walls, the Laluzulu Castle. Although I had expected otherwise, the parade ended at the castle without any incidents. Afterwards, we were invited to dinner and Prince Aleck decided to join us as well.

Although the prince tried to invite the King to dine with us, he refused the invitation due to his ill health and was unable to attend. However, he expressed that he wanted to see to Lutra’s well-being.

As the sudden encounter with the vast public was unexpected, me and Lutra were completely drained as we just hung our heads down. 

As if everyone had noticed that, the meal started immediately as some idle talk began.

After checking for any poison in the food, we received the highest form of hospitality at the dining table with Luna and Til’s manners, or lack-of were being tolerated.

In the midst of the casual chatting, Prince Aleck continued to inquire about the sword and listened attentively whenever I answered , which usually led to even more questions. He even went further as to ask for a sparring session after the ceremony was over. Throughout the conversation, I couldn’t help but feel that the feeling he gave off felt similar to Lutra, raising this uncomfortable feeling in me even higher.

Due to my profession, I’ve seen several dozens to hundreds of people from different backgrounds especially aristocrats as I’ve accepted numerous nominated quests in my previous parties. This in turn made me fairly confident in reading other people’s intentions, however I just couldn’t believe that this prince was actually a malicious person.

Although I didn’t doubt Lutra’s judgement, it still felt something was off.

Since Prince Aleck had taken steps to avoid encountering Lutra, Lutra had only heard of his antics through third parties… Would everything be fine if she just defeated the evil prince? It certainly didn’t feel that way to me, it was as if there was a conspiracy being concocted behind the scenes.

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< ??? POV>

It was in the middle of the night as a certain figure sat in one of the luxurious rooms available in the castle, holding a pile of documents. In front of it were people from an information agency. That person was reading the documents provided to it, spending several minutes before opening its mouth.

  [How could this be? Lutra is still alive? Didn’t the report mention that she was eaten by the Starfish Larvae? Could it be that she had actually escaped instead?] (???)

Infuriated by the report, the person began reprimanding the informant.

  [That isn’t the case. The fact that she was eaten by the monster is the truth. As Princess Lutra’s personal knights from her mother’s influence held her in high regard, it was difficult to trust them. We had someone from our department watch over Princess Lutra and witnessed the princess being eaten whole by the monster.] 

  [Based on what you’re saying, are you saying that Yuuya Greenwood cut open the monster’s belly and rescued her?] 

  [Exactly. If it’s that hero then its possible. According to our research, he was someone who had an extremely low status which was his only weakness. However he had discovered a way to overcome even that. On the other hand, his swordsmanship is first hand as he is speculated to be stronger than even the hero Leonard if he possessed an equally high status.] 

The Laluzulu information department was exceptional. Once they knew about the alias of Selene, then it was easy for them to investigate everything that had happened from the beginning.

  [… I have read their track record after Lutra changed her name to Selene. It looks like she has somehow obtained different abilities contrary to her disappearance.] 

The pile of documents in its hands were in fact a list of achievements and quests that were completed by Yuuya’s party, Twilight Home that they received from the guild. Not just that, it also contained the estimates from the materials that their party had gathered from the dungeon.

There were even testimonies from other adventurers. Just by looking at them, their abilities were left completely unnoticed.

Of course this was due to the guild’s policy, preventing any personal information from leaking. However it even had the power to bypass this as the man from the information agency opened his mouth.

  [What’s astounding isn’t the level of skill that party possessed based on their achievements alone.  From various witnesses, it seems that she was being trained by that Yuuya Greenwood.] 

  [The Weakest Strongest Knight that trained the Hero Leonard. If she received his tutoring… Is it safe to assume that she is currently a completely different person?] 

It instinctively turned to the pile of documents

  [Yes. Not only is he the teacher of the hero Leonard, but even other adventurers who received his tutelage went on to become top tier adventurers. However, half way through his career he decided to retire, becoming an exclusive adventurer at Rekusa and raising several exceptional adventurers. He is most likely, undisputed in his ability to raising students. Princess Lutra was already exceptionally talented. It’s scary to think how powerful she has become, becoming a student of that person.] 

  [Good grief. It feels just like a bad joke, having the dropout from the ceremony turned into its number one candidate. The genius meeting a master, could now stand toe to toe to someone who had exclusive access to the castle’s dungeon. We will most likely lose if we fought them head on.]

It crushed the documents within its hands as it began to concoct a plan. It could not let the situation go on as Princess Lutra would be the king at this rate. It wasn’t enough to just work behind the shadows, making their next course of actions simple. 

Elimination.

This time it’ll be done so perfectly that even a miracle won’t help.

There wasn’t time to wait as the ceremony was quickly approaching, they had to move fast however it was difficult to even hinder Princess Lutra right now. That Yuuya Greenwood was defending her.

On the other hand, the castle was it’s garden. It alone was more than enough to control Princess Lutra.

Now then, it’s time to begin.

In order to become the country’s ruler, and to fulfill its goal.

< End Of Chapter>

Hope you enjoy the start of Volume 4’s main arc. I’ll be releasing more chapters next week, most likely one chapter every two days or more if I can get them done in time. As always, do let me know if the chapters needs to be edited or if its sloppy.

I do apologise for the sudden change in theme as I was fooling around with wordpress’s settings and accidentally changed it. The site is long due for a revamp but I’ve been kinda avoiding it since I have zero knowledge of web design. It’ll probably happen sometime soon or I may just create a whole new site instead.

Chapter 12: The Old Man heads towards the capital.

As expected of the Paradise Meat, ingredients as delicious as this was hard to come by.

If there were to be another meat that surpassed this, it would either be another unique meat, or meat of any category that exceeded the Excellent quality, the Special quality.

Special quality meats could only be dropped from monsters in the late level 40s and even then, only a small portion was dropped. Even for me, I’ve only come across it a handful number of times. This time however with Luna, it could be a reasonable goal to strive for as feeding her more delicious meat could be good for her growth.

My skin felt much tighter than usual, due to the effects of the Paradise Bird.

Currently we had already cleared out our campsite and began our exploration for the day.

  [Paradise Bird is the best! Luna wants to eat more!] (Luna)

  [Uhn uhn. This is addictive… Fufufufu, we’ll have to hunt as much as possible before returning today. We have to get some today!] (Til)

  [Kyu!] (Erik)

Luna and Til were burning with motivation.

If they are this passionate then I’m looking forward to the results of today’s hunt.

  [Luna-chan. Til. The Paradise Meat is delicious but the truth is, there are also other unique meats just like it. At our level, we may come across them if we’re lucky. Instead of hoping to come across the Paradise Meat, it might be better to focus on searching for other delicious meat instead. ] (Phil)

Luna and Til’s eyes began to shimmer at the prospect of Phil’s words.

  [Uhn! Definitely will eat more delicious food. We’ve eaten a delicious chicken meat so next time we’ll eat a delicious beef!] (Luna)

  [Not just meat, what about delicious vegetables! There should be some that exist right!] (Til)

It seems that Til’s imagination began running wild at the prospects of unknown food.

Several items came to mind at the two girls’ proclamation. For pork, there was the Pearl Pig while there was the Silk Cow for beef. These two were also famous for their unique meat. For fruits there was the Golden Mango. Each and everyone of these ingredients were considered exquisite cuisine.

  [There are many of them. For meat, vegetables and fruits. Every single one of them were highly valued on the market and only a small portion of the wealthy were capable of obtaining it. Unless you were one of them, your only option would be to find the item yourself. It might be much more interesting to travel and find them in my opinion.] (Yuuya)

  [Luna wants to do it. I’m look forward to it.] (Luna)

  [My bow will pierce any prey I see!] (Til)

After completing our errands in the Laluzulu Kingdom, we’ll be heading to a town further north called Dirupusuno(ディルプスノー) to create Luna’s new weapon. That town contains several intermediate and advanced dungeons as well as one possible unique meat drop. However the dungeons were difficult to explore and the drop rate of items there were horrendous. As a result, the unique meat’s existence itself was unknown to the public, making its taste a complete mystery.

Even in my case, I only knew about its existence by looking through the list of items in the game although I had merely glanced across its name. Its taste was still a complete mystery however its name sounded delicious. Since we’re heading towards Dirupusuno, it could be a good target to keep in mind.

  [Now let’s end this conversation here. Other adventurers might be able to access this area anytime now. Let’s hunt the monsters until then!] (Yuuya)

Everyone replied energetically.

Hunting monsters in this Bonus Stage will increase our levels quickly.

Let’s do our best.

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Afterwards, we continued to hunt Paradise Birds using Luna’s Presence Detection. Although there were various other monsters deeper into the Bonus Stage, there weren’t any monsters which could pose a serious threat to us. 

We continued to hunt monsters until day break and as a result, everyone’s level increased by one thanks to the experience gained from the Temple of the Primal Flame and defeating flocks of Paradise Birds.

Normally, it would take a month to get to the next level making our leveling speed extraordinarily quick.

And..

  [Big catch, big catch!] (Luna)

  [Fu~Fun, this must be a Paradise Bird festival!] (Til)

Thanks to Luna’s Increased Drop Rate, defeating a large number of Paradise Birds would statistically get us a higher than average amount of Paradise Meat. Furthermore, storing the meat into the magic bag prevents the meat’s condition from deteriorating, allowing us to enjoy the Paradise Meat for a long time.

  [Phil, although making soup broth with the meat is delicious, it looks like we’ll be able to experiment a lot.] (Yuuya)

  [It might be a good idea to make skewers with it and grill it over a bonfire with some salt. The idea of chewing its tender meat filled with juices sounds delicious.] (Phil)

Til stomach began to grumble as she became hungry just from listening to Phil’s recipe. Such was Til as she naturally made everyone laugh by her actions.

  [It’s about time for us to return to the town. Beyond this jungle is the magic vortex for us to return.] (Yuuya)

We also came across several treasure chests that spawned at fixed locations.

In the end, there weren’t any other adventurers who came to the Bonus Stage.

It seems that the adventurers in Grannel didn’t know the method to going past the cliff. Until now I’ve had the assumption that the number of people who knew about the gimmicks was not zero however it seems that the gimmick has been left entirely untouched. Otherwise this amazing hunting ground would have been monopolized.

The monsters in this area were weak and unable to attack from the top of the cliff.

Furthermore the item drops from the monster was expensive and provided a large amount of experience. The desire of monopolizing this area couldn’t be light as even though we were planning on leaving this city, I had the intention of leaving the day after the monsters were respawned. Although this wasn’t possible given our short time frame.

[Yuuya, I found a new monster! It’s huge, probably a rhinoceros.] (Luna)

Luna raised her voice as she warned us about our upcoming opponent, the rhinoceros-type monster. In this dungeon, this monster would be the most troublesome opponent to defeat.

I’ll have to sharpen my mind for this battle.

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Several days have passed since we arrived at Grannel as it was already time for our departure.

Although we weren’t able to gain any levels since the second day, we did manage to complete several quests, earning us a hefty sum of guild points and a heavy wallet.

Despite extending our stay in Grannel to experience the town entirely while spending luxuriously, our financial gain was still positive. 

Aside from the first day, we explorations were only light journeys into the dungeons as I decided on spending more time for Selene’s training.

In the final sprint before her ceremony, it seems that Selene had managed to overcome a wall as she had become significantly stronger.

The date for her inheritance ceremony was only three days away as I hurriedly received my Raptors from the stables and connected them to the carriage.

[Everyone please get on the carriage.] (Yuuya)

Luna and Til who were desperately cherishing their final memories of Grannel by stuffing their mouths full of onigiris, climbed onto the carriage followed by the smiling Phil and Selene who were looking tenderly over the eating duo.

[Is everyone ready?] (Yuuya)

[Uhn. Completely ready.] (Luna)

[Me too.] (Til)

[I don’t have any issues departing right away.] (Selene)

[Everything is prepared here as well. Let’s depart immediately.] (Phil)

I pulled onto Raptor’s reins as we finally departed from Grannel.

Although our stay here was short, we had accomplished many things here.

I can confidently raise my head high, knowing that I’ve done all I can before the inheritance ceremony.

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We managed to arrive at the Laluzulu Royal Capital before sundown.

Since it was the Royal Capital, the security was naturally tight as the tall outer wall even bordered around the outer city. Not only does the wall look sturdy, it was enhanced by magic as well. There were also sentries armed with bows keeping watch on top of the wall.

I got off the carriage, heading towards the gatekeeper to perform the procedure to gain entry into the city.

[Could you show me your entry permit please.] (Guard)

[Is this sufficient?] (Yuuya)

I displayed my status as a silver-grade adventurer.

[A silver-grade adventurer? I apologise. Normally we would have granted you entry however the day of our kingdom’s inheritance ceremony is nearing. In this period, you will need an official permit to enter the city.] (Guard)

The guard shook his head as he failed to grant me entry into the city. I hadn’t account for the fact that the security would be tightened as the ceremony date was approaching.

As I turned back to the carriage, I saw Selene who began to approach the gate. At the same time, a second gatekeeper appeared behind the first.

It was a man who seemed significantly older as he was out of breath just from running over.

[Wait a moment. That man, is the person that holds the title of the weakest strongest knight. One of the heroes who saved the kingdom from danger and Princess Lutra’s knight, Yuuya-sama! You have to stop him from leaving!] (Old guard)

This voice sounds familiar..

[Miruno is that you?] (Yuuya)

[Ouhh I can’t believe you actually remembered my name ] (Miruno)

[There’s no way I would forget a brother-in-arms.] (Yuuya)

Although us adventurers played a major party in saving the kingdom, the soldiers and knights of the kingdom had contributed to the battle greatly as well. And this man was one of them.

[Thank you for your kind words. Although you were a brilliant forerunner on the battlefield, your feats on the stage were considered a legend. Especially in the finals! Until this day, people including I boast about having fought by your side.] (Miruno)

Roused by the commotion, several knights at the rear began to notice us and started to gather as they started to mutter, ‘The weakest strongest knight?’, ‘ the man who taught the hero Leonard?’, ‘the man whose sword surpasses that of heroes?’.

Things along those lines were being said which was supposed to be flattery felt a lot more like harassment as I became uncomfortable with the situation.

  [… In any case, would I be able to cross the gate?] (Yuuya)

  [Of course you can! Is what I want to say but I lack the authority to do so. Could you please wait a moment while I go ahead to receive permission from my superiors.Having Yuuya-sama return to the capital brings tears to my eyes. There is no greater shame as the one who waited the most eagerly for your return, Princess Lutra isn’t here with us anymore.] (Marino)

  [What happened to Princess Lutra?] (Yuuya)

  [She entered a dungeon in another city together with her personal bodyguard. However she went missing as well as her bodyguard. A search team was sent out but to no avail.] (Marino)

As expected, Selene’s whereabouts were unknown to the capital however I was extremely curious about the aforementioned knight. It sounded like the knight was forcefully eliminated to prevent any information from leaking. For the time being, I decided to wait patiently for the decision from the guards as Selene walked to my side and pulled onto my sleeve. She spoke at a volume where only I could hear it.

  [Are you fine with that Selene?] (Yuuya)

  [Yes I am. Regardless I was planning on making contact once we entered the city. In that case, wouldn’t it be better to do it here?] (Selene)

Selene’s words were definitely correct as it would be much easier for us to do it here since it’ll make the higher up’s decision much smoother.

Selene walked to the front as some whispers could be heard. As expected of the royal capital, even without her signature hair there were many people who recognised Selene’s… I mean Princess Lutra’s face.

  [Is it possible, could you be?] 

  [She was supposed to be missing.] 

  [But the hair colour isn’t right. Princess Lutra’s hair was supposed to be the same as Renoir-sama’s.] 

Selene let out a smile befitting of a princess that she didn’t show around us. A soft and beautiful smile which radiated gentleness to everyone around her. This forcefully reminded me that Selene was truly a princess. While smiling, Selene gracefully removed her hair ornament responsible of changing her hair colour, revealing her beautiful silver hair. Even though she was a bonafide beauty with her black hair, her natural silver hair suited her much more.

  [Tell my father and my elder brother. With her personal knight, Princess Lutra has returned. With the intention of participating in the succession ceremony.] (Lutra)

Selene had completely shed her disguise, returning to her original role as Princess Lutra.

The gatekeepers’ reactions were all over the place as some of them were crying tears of joy knowing that she was safe and sound,  several had their bodies turning stiff from shock and there were those who nodded in response and began running to fulfill their princess’s orders.

The die has been cast with this as the battle for the inheritance has begun. From this point on, there will be obstacles appearing in her way as her enemies attempt to prevent her from standing on the stage.

And I’ll be there to prevent that from happening.

I am her knight after all.

<End of Chapter>

This chapter was completed during my free time in work so please do let me know if it could be improved on.

Enjoy~

Chapter 11: The old man is requested.

My initial plan was to set up camp in the jungle next to the cliff and wait for the rain in order to climb the cliff using a gimmick.  We had no reason to return home as the hunting ground was right in front of our eyes.

A large number of Paradise Birds lived in the area beyond the cliffs and they were well known for their meat which was known to be so delicious that you’ll be sent straight to paradise. Additionally, their experience value was equally as high. Just defeating one of them provided a large amount of experience. Hence this area was dubbed the Bonus Stage in the game.

It may even be possible for us to raise our levels sometime today or tomorrow.

As a camping ground, there wasn’t a place any better than this deeper into the dungeon as there weren’t any other monsters here apart from the Paradise Bird. Furthermore, we didn’t have to worry about other adventurers in the area as we were the only people who had access to this area.

Trying to solve a mystery in the midst of a harsh squall when you could barely see anything in front of you, especially when the mystery was hidden on the cliff. It was something which could only be discovered if you had prior information about it which made this situation somewhat expected. 

…. Although this time, the gimmick was bypassed by Phil’s ridiculous archery skills. A feat that could not be replicated by any other archer. 

 

  [Meat! Meat!] (Luna)

  [Onee-chan. Hurry hurry!] (Til)

Luna and Til were making a ruckus while Phil began her cooking. Phil began unwrapping the Paradise Meat covered in bamboo skins. As she started to unwrap the meat, a delicious smell began spreading through the area. A strange smell that was uniquely delicious, as if the blood itself was sweet but there was no trace of decay in it at all.

 

  [The meat looks so beautiful! Luna wants to eat it now.] (Luna)

 

The colour of the meat was a beautiful ruby red, the skin was extremely glossy while the fat was thick and appetizing.

 

  [Please wait for a moment. I’ll begin cooking right away. I’ll prepare it the way Yuuya taught me to.. However I don’t have much confidence if it’ll be that good, making a broth without any stock.] (Phil)

 

Phil placed the Paradise Meat into a pan, lightly frying it as she began boiling a pot of water. Then, she placed several wild herbs into the pot before cutting the meat into bite-sized chunks and throwing them into the pot. Normally, Phil would prepare her broth by using several dried mushrooms. However, since we were using the Paradise Meat this time, she had skipped over this step. 

It was said that the delicious soup made from the Paradise Meat would be ruined if other ingredients were added in excessively. Phil continued to watch the fire while carefully removing the skum from the top of the liquid.

 

  [Yuuya, Yuuya. The delicious smell is getting stronger!] (Luna)

  [I know right. I can’t wait to eat it.] (Til)

 

Luna and Til continued to stare into the pot as they noticed the fragrance of the soup. Luna’s fox tail was rapidly wagging back and forth while the tip of Til’s elven ears began to turn red. Just the fragrance of the soup alone were making these two children go crazy. 

After deeming the meat to be cooked, Phil placed a piece of meat into her mouth as a test. The scene of Phil’s entire body stiffening as she touched her lips with the tip of her finger felt strangely erotic.

A moment after, Phil’s consciousness returned as she proceeded to test the taste of the soup.

Luna and Til became even more curious about the taste but Phil merely smiled playfully in response. The only thing I could decipher was that it tasted extremely delicious. Furthermore, the fact that the food-loving Phil had only added salt after her taste-test was a testament that the soup tasted perfectly fine.

Our expectations for the soup had risen to its peak.

 

  [It’s ready now. Please take out the kitchenware.] (Phil)

 

It was finally time for dinner. We can finally taste the Paradise Meat.

 

.

.

.

 

Dinner finally began as a large bowl filled with vegetables and Paradise Meat and another pot of soup was placed on the table.

 

  [My stomach has been starving!] (Luna)

  [Uhn uhn, my stomach is running empty now too. I wonder if we’ll actually go to paradise?] (Til)

  [Let’s start our meal before it turns cold.] (Selene)

  [Please do so while it’s hot. You’ll be surprised once you taste it.] (Phil)

 

The girls began chatting as I decided to start the meal with the soup.

The soup made from the meat of the Paradise Bird and wild herbs produced a rich taste as the flavor of the meat and melted fat in the soup spread throughout my mouth.

Not only was it delicious, but it was an amazing tonic for the human body as well. As I was resisting the temptation to drink the soup in one go, a piece of meat accidentally entered my mouth. I felt the tenderness of the meat as more of the meat’s juices flowed out with each bite, spreading the taste of the skin and fat throughout my entire mouth.

I couldn’t help but agree with the ingredient’s ridiculously high price as this was a taste that the wealthy would travel just to have a glimpse of.

 

  [Delicious! Luna thought that beef and pork were more delicious than chicken but, this chicken is special!] (Luna)

  [I know right. Meat was delicious too but its my first time drinking such a delicious soup! I wanna drink more!] (Til)

 

Luna and Til were stuck together as they emptied their bowls and presenting it to Phil.

 

  [Seconds! More soup please!] (Luna & Til)

 

They were perfectly in sync as they asked for seconds. Their large appetites wasn’t anything new as they were two growing children.

 

  [I’m fine with seconds, however remember that there won’t be enough soup for later if we drink it all now. We won’t be able to try the delicious porridge that Yuuya told us about.] (Phil)

  [Uuwuu, lesser soup then.] (Luna)

  [Even though I would like more soup, I’ll endure it for more delicious food!] (Til)

 

Phil let out a wry smile as she took out a large serving of vegetables and meat.

However, the food didn’t last long as Til and Luna began gobbling down the food once more.

Would they even be able to eat the porridge after this?

As I turned to the other side of the table, Selene was done with her first serving without asking for a second serving as the matter about the porridge was brought up.

I wonder if it was okay to mention about the porridge.

 

  [This soup is superb. Although the Paradise Meat was served to the royal family several times..  This tastes much more delicious.] (Selene)

  [Of course, compared to a suffocating meal in the palace, it’s much more enjoyable to eat with your friends. Plus I’m sure the cooks were stressed preparing meals for the royal family making it difficult to serve a dish as plain as this. For this dish especially, it’ll taste much better without any excess preparations.] (Yuuya)

  [It’s just as Yuuya said. As a chef this dish induces anxiety into me as it feels unsettling to serve a dish with so little preparation. Even now I have the feeling that I should have done more for the dish.] (Phil)

 

Regardless, even the stock for a normal soup base is excessive when dealing with this dish.

Thanks to the two gluttons, our soup became devoid of meat and vegetables as it was finally time for the main dish. Phil began pouring the rice into the pot of soup as the rice began to swell with the boiling soup. As the soup continued to boil, it gradually grew thicker as its delicious smell became even stronger.

The sound of someone swallowing their saliva could be heard as we were finally able to have a porridge made with a stock made of Paradise Meat.

Without anyone saying anything, Phil began preparing several bowls of porridge and handed them out as everyone began their second round of food. 

No one said a single word as everyone was relentlessly gobbling up their food and in no time at all, everyone’s bowls became empty.

 

  [Fuu, so this is the porridge made with Paradise Meat.. It’s even better than I expected.] (Yuuya)

 

Just this one dish was filled with all sorts of flavors.

Even if it was just a normal soup, it was still a perfect match for the freshly harvested rice from Grannel that I couldn’t get away from.

 

  [It was delicious! Luna is going to paradise!] (Luna)

  [Me too! Heading to paradise isn’t just a saying. It’s so delicious that it feels so good as if I’m in heaven.] (Til)

  [This makes me wonder just what kind of cook prepared the soup I’ve eaten till now.] (Selene)

  [It’s a shame that we don’t have seconds. However we do have some meat leftovers so we’ll be able to enjoy a good meal tomorrow.] (Phil)

 

We’ll be able to indulge ourselves tomorrow too. 

However, there are still other dishes planned for tomorrow as this soup was capable of drawing out the hidden flavors of the Paradise Meat. The true charm of this soup has yet to be seen.

After eating such delicious porridge, the atmosphere felt lighter as everyone became excited.

Furthermore, even though Phil said that we had meat leftovers for tomorrow, she proceeded to present a lean cut of meat from the Paradise Bird that she secretly prepared. It was presented as a steak cooked rare with a special sauce which caused me to crave for sake.

It was going to be an enjoyable supper although people avoided late night food while camping out.

This was the luxury of a safe zone in the dungeon.

 

.

.

.

 

Since a squall was going to arrive, we proceeded to enjoy the supper in our tent.

With the Paradise Meat which could be eaten raw, when cooked rare with a delicious sauce it’s delicious meat presented a taste that could only be tasted with a high quality of meat.

Currently, the two girls were asleep as they both had a weak alcohol tolerance.

They each had extremely blissful sleeping faces while Phil began preparing another tent for Luna and the girls tonight, leaving me alone with Selene.

 

  [Selene, there’s something I want to ask. Is your elder brother strong?] (Yuuya)

 

If possible I would like to know about my enemy before the actual battle.

 

  [He’s very strong. He too received training with the stone from a young age and his level might even be higher than mine currently. Furthermore he had a good battle sense with smart intellect. He was someone I had idolized in the past.] (Selene)

It was surprising to hear that Selene had idolized her brother in the past. According to her, if her brother was to gain control over the Laluzulu Kingdom, the people would definitely suffer and thus she planned to challenge him for the right to the throne in order to pass it to her sister.

 

  [If he was someone you had idolised in the past, then wouldn’t it be fine to leave the kingdom to him? That way you’ll be able to leave your kingdom in good hands while remaining in our party, for most likely the rest of your life? The Selene I’m seeing now looks much better than Princess Lutra from before.] (Yuuya)

  [Fuu, that sounds plausible. I would definitely be happy if I could do that. However, my brother who was kind-hearted to everyone including me, has changed. Several years ago, rumors about his self-centered shenanigans had spread throughout the kingdom, replacing his initially pleasant reputation. Then, he began keeping his distance from me. My brother who was filled with greed and an obsession for power, began to respite me, who was born as the splitting image of Renoir-sama with her signature silver hair.] (Selene)

 

Selene looked into the distance with melancholic eyes as she began talking about her brother.

 

  [For better or for worse, people change. I’m sure you’re still harboring hope that he’ll return to his old self. If that’s the case, then I’m sure he will return one day. However, there’s something strange. Is his level really higher than your current level? Furthermore isn’t the training he received the same training you did?] (Yuuya)

 

Ever since Selene joined our party, we began raising our levels several times faster than an ordinary adventurer which was why it’s surprising that her level was still inferior to his.

 

  [Me and my brother are the same and yet we’re different. My mother was a concubine. After my brother left me, my brother could access the royal family’s dungeon and proceeded to receive training from the royal knights. On the other hand, I could only rely on my mother’s side for training and the only dungeons I had access to were the public dungeons.] (Selene)

 

I hadn’t realise that Selene had such a complicated family situation. This explained why we found her hunting inside Greenwood. Just as she mentioned, it was known that the royal family had an exclusive dungeon which could let you hunt to your heart’s content without dealing with other adventurers. In terms of experience, it was an excellent dungeon as well. Furthermore, he was taught by the royal knights who belonged to a family specialized in their sword skills, who carefully refined their sword over several generations.

 

  [He definitely sounds formidable. The other party has so many advantages over our side. However, there’s something else I want to ask, is this instructor, the royal knight better than me?] (Yuuya)

  [Fufu that’s not true at all. Yuuya-ojisama is the number one instructor in the world.] (Selene)

 

Selene let out a small laugh in response, displaying her beauty and her charm as a woman. Luna and Til were both cute girls however, in her case she was the definition of beauty.

 

  [I pray for Selene’s victory. Selene will win the succession ceremony, and I’ll win the knight’s tournament and become the strongest knight. That is the reason why we’re heading towards the Laluzulu Kingdom.] (Yuuya)

 

That was what I decided. And I will do everything in my power to make that happen.

 

  [… Ever since I decided to fight my brother, I’ve never been able to sleep. Regardless of how exhausted I was, just thinking about the future makes me anxious. But the moment I met Yuuya-ojisama again, I’ve started to sleep again. My anxiety seemed to just melt away.] (Selene)

  [That is the confidence having a good teacher can give you.] (Yuuya)

  [It isn’t just from a teacher. It isn’t just that. It’s because it’s Yuuya-ojisama that I can rest easy.  Yuuya-ojisama. If I were to say my true feelings after everything is over, would you answer me?] (Selene)

 

Selene closed the distance between us as a sweet smell wafted past my nose, however it was also a smell of reason.

 

  [I..] (Yuuya)

 

At that moment, the sound of footsteps began to approach as Phil was done setting up the tent for Luna and Til.

 

  [Half of it was a joke. Half of it was serious, and the other half… was serious too. However, I don’t have the intention of troubling Yuuya-ojisama. It’s about time for me to head to the other tent.] (Selene)

 

Selene and Phil grabbed Luna and Til respectively and carried the two of them to the other tent.

… Sigh this is bad for my heart. That small princess Lutra has become a fully grown woman.

I felt like I was becoming old as I emptied another cup of sake.

It’s about time for us to head to bed. I should focus on everything I can do right now and focus on raising our levels by hunting tomorrow.

That is all that is on my mind now.

<End of Chapter>

I apologise for the sloppy previous edit. I’ve re-edited the chapter and hopefully its readable this time.

Chapter 10 : The old man climbs a cliff.

We entered the hot and humid jungle in Grannel where squalls and heavy downpour occurred excessively.

Just as expected, a squall occurred just as we entered the dungeon. Thanks to the horrible weather, our visibility was effectively zero making it impossible to advance deeper into the jungle. Instead we looked for the largest nearby tree, hiding under its reach to seek shelter from the rain.

Despite this, Luna and Til were still in high spirits.

 

[Yuuya, Yuuya. Look at my cute raincoat!] (Luna)

[The rain is unexpectedly fun.] (Til)

 

The two of them enjoyed putting on their newly bought raincoats. Phil and Selene on the other hand, didn’t enjoy the rain in the slightest.

Their reactions were much more reasonable as heavy rains were disastrous for adventurers.

Firstly, at this level of downpour our vision is effectively cut off and rendered ineffective.

Second, the sound of the rain drowns out any nearby noises and even washes away any smell lingering in the area.

With our eyes, nose and ears being ineffective against our enemies, we may as well be defenseless.

 

[Luna, no matter the circumstances do not turn off your Presence Detection. This rain is extremely dangerous.] (Yuuya)

[Uhn? But I can’t sense anything at all. Wouldn’t the monsters be the same?] (Luna)

[What you just said is the most dangerous thing yet. Think about it from another perspective. In this situation where our eyes, nose and ears aren’t reliable, our actions are affected and limited. For monsters who live in this environment, they are likely unaffected by the rain. How much of a threat are they to us?] (Yuuya)

[That sounds dangerous.] (Luna)

[Yuuya-niisan, isn’t that dirty. In this rain even though I don’t have the confidence to shoot my bow. Even my lightning spells can’t be used. If I was as good as my sister then maybe I would be able to do something.] (Til)

[That’s not true. If it was just a drizzle then it should be alright but with rains this heavy, I think the maximum distance I can shoot is only thirty metres.] (Phil)

 

Although a distance of thirty metres is the distance a normal archer could guarantee to land in perfect condition in the perfect environment. Til and Phil were abnormal in retrospect as they could easily land arrows a hundred or two metres away

 

[Yuuya-ojisama, how would the monsters be able to see us in this weather?] (Selene)

[It’s simple. Using Presence Detection. There are also monsters capable of using it from time to time.] (Yuuya)

 

Monsters capable of using the same skills as us also exists. Albeit rare there are still monsters capable of using Presence Detection. Among those monsters, the most famous is the Silver Slime. It was a monster which gives an insane amount of experience once defeated, as if you had just defeated the boss of the dungeon.

Essentially everybody wanted to defeat this monster, however with Presence Detection it escapes from its predators with incredible speed whenever it senses danger. Furthermore, it’s much more difficult to defeat the monster let alone keep up with its speed while its escaping. The only known way to defeat the Silver Slime was to corner the monster by cutting off its escape route, chasing it into a dead end and attacking as hard as possible using your strongest skill with a critical hit. Without a party capable of using Presence Detection and Assassinate together, it’s pretty much impossible to defeat the monster.

 

  [I understand! Luna will do her best using Presence Detection.] (Luna)

 

Although Presence Detection didn’t drain its user’s mana to activate, it does place a huge mental strain onto the user making it difficult to maintain for a prolonged duration. However in this rain we can only rely on Luna’s Presence Detection

We’ll have to do our best.

 

.

.

.

 

I began to feel drowsy as I continued to listen to the sound of the rain.

The water on the ground wasn’t being drained quick enough as the mud pools on the ground had piled up, merging into a gigantic shallow mud lake. Due to this, we had no choice but to switch to our waterproof boots. It was a lot heavier than our usual footwear and slowed down our mobility significantly.

 

  [Yuuya, there’s a monster approaching us from the back.] (Luna)

  [What kind of monster?] (Yuuya)

  [Probably… a cat?] (Luna)
  [The monster I was hoping wouldn’t appear is here. It isn’t a cat. It’s a Squall Panther.] (Yuuya)

 

It was a monster who utilized it’s Presence Detection and the frequent squalls to sneak up on its prey. It sneaks up within the storm, targeting its unsuspecting prey neck with its razor sharp fangs. It was an intelligent monster which hid in the shadows during the clear weather and became active once it begins to rain.

 

  [Everyone, do not turn back. It’s a cowardly monster. Once it realizes that we’ve noticed its presence it’ll definitely escape. It may be a difficult monster to deal with but we’ll definitely defeat it. It also drops desirable items for us.] (Yuuya)

 

Since it was a monster that only appears during the rain, adventurers would not encounter this monster often and even if they did, it was a monster that only appeared whenever it was confident of its kill.

 

  [Yuuya, it is only 10 metres away from us. It’s slowly approaching us with silent steps.] (Luna)

  [You’re lying. I can’t sense its presence at all. And I’m pretty sensitive to the presence of others.] (Til)

  [We’re in this rain after all so it can’t be helped.] (Phil)

 

Although we were currently within a rainstorm, it was still impressive that the monster couldn’t be detected by Til and Phil who were elves with sensitive senses. That was its natural ability it possessed being born as a panther.

 

  [Another 5 metres.] (Luna)

  [Who is it targetting?] (Yuuya)

  [Phil. It feels like its looking towards Phil’s neck.] (Luna)

  [Understood. In that case, we’ll continue to move forward to hide our intentions. Selene stay next to Phil and the moment it pounces, you’ll intercept it using your spikes.] (Yuuya)

  [I understand.] (Phil)

  [I’ll make my preparations.] (Selene)

 

Selene seemed to be nervous as she began clutching her shield. Since we were unable to turn around, we had to focus our nerves behind us. It was likely too close for Luna to give us any signal since our voices could reach its ears. The moment it was within two metres, I finally caught a glimpse of the Squall Panther. However, what I noticed wasn’t it’s figure but it’s murderous intent as I was particularly sensitive to it.

Taking advantage of its body structure, it leaped into the air, masking its actions using the strong winds. Selene who was next to Phil turned to the side as she held Renoir’s shield into the air.

 

  [Shield Bash!] (Selene)

 

Using the strength of her entire body, she stuck out Renoir’s Shield, releasing a spike into the Squall Panther who was about to bite into Phil’s neck, blowing it into the large tree we used to seek shelter.

The Squall Panther’s body began conversing as it laid on the ground, turning into blue particles several seconds later and leaving behind its pink skin.

 

  [Fuu. Somehow I actually defeated it. I was worried that Phil-san would get injured to my incompetence.] (Selene)

  [I knew that I would be safe since we’re talking about Selene after all.] (Phil)

 

Though it may sound like it, Phil wasn’t speaking words of flattery as she was a veteran explorer with a reliable sense of evaluation. She wasn’t naive enough to leave her life into the hands of someone she couldn’t trust.

 

  [Yuuya, that was a vicious monster.] (Luna)

  [Uhn. It look extremely disgusting too.] (Til)

  [That was the result of evolving into a predator specialized in assassination.] (Yuuya)

 

The Squall Panther was covered in pink skin with a rubbery texture. Since it didn’t have any hair it wasn’t bothered by the rain and could move around easily in the rain and mud. Furthermore it didn’t have any eyes, nose and ears with a huge mouth. Since it evolved to rely on Presence Detection, its other organs weren’t necessary and had deteriorated severely.

 

  [We’ve gotten a good souvenir though.] (Yuuya)

  [What are we going to do with that rubbery skin?] (Til)

  [If we use this to craft an armor, the end result is a piece of equipment highly resistant against the lightning element. Eventually among the three dragons, we’ll need specialized equipment against them. Against the Wind Dragon, we’ll need to have lightning and wind resistant equipment before we challenge it. Without it, it wouldn’t even be a battle.] (Yuuya)

 

The Coronoa Dragon which took us a difficult battle for us to defeat was actually the weakest among the three dragons. However it was still possible to defeat it without any flame resistant equipment. Unlike the Coronoa Dragon, the other two dragons were impossible to defeat without it.

 

  [Yuuya-ojisama. I don’t really want to imagine myself wearing equipment made of that pink skin.] (Selene)

  [Just as Selene probably imagined, the equipment will turn out as a rubber suit which sticks to your skin. Its colour will  likely remain pink just like its ingredients. Well it’s look aside, its performance is excellent too.] (Yuuya)

 

Even during the game era, the equipment was also avoided due to its appearance however it was still worn despite that due to its good performance.

 

  [It doesn’t just nullify the Wind (Lightning) attribute, but it is also light with high defensive properties. It has a high level of resistance against blunt attacks while providing some protection against sharp attacks.  Very few equipment in existence were blessed with such properties .] (Yuuya)

  [I see I see. But I’ll have to refrain from that. It isn’t just embarrassing but doesn’t that equipment classify as a piece of clothing? In that case, I think it’ll be better for someone who wears light equipment rather than armor to have it instead.] (Selene)

 

That was a rather blunt excuse but a sensible one as well.

I turned towards Phil.

 

  [Ehh? Is it going to be me? For me.. Well. I have my highest ranked equipment that I kept from our previous adventures. My equipment is pretty amazing you know. I could live peacefully for the rest of my life if I sold this on the market.] (Phil)

 

What Phil said was true too.

Her equipment could be said to be the best set possible for a bow-user. In fact, the pink rubber suit was probably inferior by several levels compared to her equipment. The only person left..

 

  [Uhm.. Yuuya-niisan, are you going to make me wear that!? I’ll look like a pervert!] (Til)

 

Til began shaking her head forcefully however unlike Selene and Phil, she had no reasonable excuse to avoid it. Since its already at this stage, should I just make her wear it?

 

  [Uhn. Luna wants to try it! It looks interesting! Luna wants to try putting it on.] (Luna)

 

Luna began wagging her fox tail with shining eyes as if it was a lie that she felt uncomfortable looking at the Squall Panther. Actually, it would also be better for our party’s balance to have the front-guard wearing the Wind (Lightning) resistant equipment.

 

  [I understand. In that case, the clothes made from this will be given to Luna.] (Yuuya)

  [Hurray! Luna looks forward to it!] (Luna)

 

I’m looking forward to seeing Luna in a tight rubber suit, however what is this guiltiness rising up from my chest?

Just as we resolved the matter about the rubber suit, the rain began slowing down. 

It’s about time for us to continue moving forward.

.

.

.

 

As the weather cleared up, we decided to continue travelling deeper into the jungle.

After walking for a little while, Luna found another Paradise Bird as Til shot it down with an arrow, displaying her amazing learning ability.

Although the strength of the wind was different when compared to the previous squall, she had adapted well to the environment. This time however, we managed to obtain a lump of Paradise Meat as the two girls performed their usual mysterious dance.

The moment we reminded them that we needed to find a total of three Paradise Meats for the quest, they froze halfway through their performance with an extremely hateful look. The scene had made for an extremely interesting sight.

We continued forward until we reached a dead end, arriving at a cliff wall with a height of over 100 metres. Just then, Luna’s fox ears began twitching.

 

  [The top of the cliff. Presence Detection is telling me that there are four Paradise Birds up ahead. Since there are four right up ahead, it feels like there will be many more up ahead.] (Luna)

  [*Slurps* If that’s the case. Then we have no other choice! Since the sky’s getting darker, we’ll barely be able to complete the quest otherwise!] (Til)

 

Til was right. If we wanted to get enough meat to try it out for ourselves, we’ll have no choice but to overcome this cliff.

 

  [The two of you. Please calm down. It’s fine for you to try your best but it’ll be a huge mistake for you to climb the cliff. Please take a look.] (Yuuya)

 

I placed my hand on the cliff and wiped the surface of the soil, revealing a steel wall. It was impossible to get a firm grip onto the soil and neither is it possible to stick a knife into a steel wall. Just as one would suspect, it was impossible to scale a steel cliff.

 

  [Luna doesn’t want to give up. Just beyond this cliff is tonight’s dinner!] (Luna)

  [I want to try the Paradise Meat and go to paradise~~. Even though the delicious meat is in our grasp, I don’t wanna eat more preserved foods!.] (Til)

 

The two girls continued to stand on the cliff with despair as if it was the end of the world.

It should be fine though as I’ll be able to teach them how we could overcome the steel cliff without much trouble. Truth is, this cliff could easily be overcome by using a gimmick utilizing the stormy weather. However, just as I was about to act, Phil nocked an arrow with a hook at the arrow head and at the bottom, a magic rope was tied to the arrow.

 

  [It’s height is about 123.43 metres. My rope should be enough and so is my range. Although I’m unsure about my strength.] (Phil)

 

Phil fired three arrows into the air. Since all three arrows had hooks and were connected to the same rope, the arrows flew in a parabola over the cliff as Phil pulled down onto the rope causing it to stay taut.

 

  [With this, we’ll be able to climb up with ease. Now then, let’s go ahead and collect our dinner.] (Phil)

  [Phil is amazing! I love you!] (Luna)

  [As expected of onee-chan! I’m getting goosebumps!] (Til)

  [That is an amazing display of skill. It is incredibly difficult to fire and place the three hooks in place accurately while pulling down the rope at the precise timing.] (Selene)

 

Even before I got to explain the gimmick of the steel wall, Phil surpassed everyone’s expectations with her ridiculous archery skills.

 

  [Since it’ll be dangerous for all of us to climb simultaneously, I’ll go on ahead. Once I arrive at the top I’ll reinforce the hooks to make it more stable. Looking at the weather, it shouldn’t rain for awhile longer. This is our chance.] (Phil)

 

Phil began climbing the rope and within the minute, she had already arrived at the top of the cliff. After arriving at the top, she continued to secure the rope as Luna and Til also displayed their excellent physical capabilities as they climbed to the top of the cliff within several minutes. Although Selene was following behind them, she wasn’t as fast and had the riskiest movements out of all of them.

 

  [Yuuya could you please hurry up. Luna-chan and Til have already gone up ahead to hunt the Paradise Birds. They were afraid that the birds would escape if we took too long.] (Phil)

  [Ahh. Is that so.] (Yuuya)

 

Although we still managed to scale the cliff, what is this sense of reluctance I’m feeling? It feels strange. Even though the gimmick I knew made use of the rain, I had expected to wait awhile for the rain to arrive however even without waiting for the rain, Phil managed to overcome the cliff immediately. What is this sense of regret that is welling up within me although we’re able to begin our hunt much earlier?

 

  [Once the squall arrives, blowing away all the mud and soil on the cliff. There will be a hint that appears which will reveal a hidden door. Once you discover and solve the hint, it’ll be much easier for you to climb the cliff.] (Yuuya)

 

Even though there was no one around to hear it, I explained how the gimmick functioned. It’s a good thing though as there wouldn’t be the need to go to the trouble of solving the hint in the midst of the bad weather. This method was much easier too.

 

  [After overcoming this cliff, the area will be filled with Paradise Birds. Although it was fairly difficult to get the Paradise Meat to drop, the birds themselves gave large amounts of experience that didn’t fit with their levels, allowing us to earn a large amount of experience points. After clearing the difficult entrance, we’ll be able to access a bonus stage with tons of experience and items that we can hunt.] (Yuuya)

 

However, there wasn’t a need for me to explain this as the two girls already had their hands full trying to hunt as hard as they can. After climbing the cliff, Luna and Til turned around and ran towards me.

 

  [Yuuya, tons of meat! There’s already four that dropped!] (Luna)

  [If we manage to hunt all of them then we’ll be able to eat as much as we want!] (Til)

With sparkling eyes and a face full of smiles, the thought of explaining the gimmick didn’t matter to me anymore.

 

  [Yes, let’s eat plenty together tonight. Since the best place for the meat to belong to is the frying pan. It’ll make an amazing broth. This will be a great time for us to cook the freshly harvested rice we purchased at Grannel.] (Yuuya)

 

  [Hot pot! Porridge!] (Luna)

  [Uwa! Sounds amazing!] (Til)

 

Thus began the second mysterious dance. However this time, they wouldn’t be interrupted as they would be able to eat as much Paradise Meat as their hearts desired.

 

  [Yuuya, will we be camping out here tonight?] (Phil)

  [That’s right. It’s already the evening and we’re too far away to head towards the magic vortex to return. Since we’re already in a good hunting ground, trying to return to the inn is wasteful. Let’s just stay here tonight. Let’s hurry up and set up our tent since it’ll be dark soon.] (Yuuya)

  [I understand. Then I’ll properly pick up the wild herbs in the area and make a delicious pot of soup for everyone.] (Phil)

 

I let out a smile as I wanted to try out the Paradise Meat too albeit not at the same level as Til and Luna. I’m starting to look forward to our dinner now.

<End of Chapter>

Hey guys, I’ve managed to rush through this chapter to make up the chapter for last week. It’s late here so there may be errors so please do let me know if there are any blatant errors and I’ll rectify them in the morning.

Edit: Forgot to mention this, but the item drop for the paradise bird is called Paradise Bird’s Meat but I just shortened it to Paradise Bird.

Chapter 9: The old  man goes into the jungle

Having bought our dolls, we returned to our inn.

As expected of the inn recommended by the guild, their service was solid. 

Since this inn was going to serve as our main base of operations, it’s a great location for us to raise our levels before the succession ceremony and with the quality of the inn, we’ll be able to rest comfortably for the rest of our stay.

After organizing our luggage, I turned towards the dolls in my possession.

In the game, this was a useful item for surviving unfortunate situations. I had bought this with hopes that its ability was still in effect. However at the same time, it is also highly unlikely that this is the case.

The doll’s actual ability was to prevent any events that were deemed as *unfavourable* aka misfortune flags, breaking itself in the progress. The effects of such events included an old trauma of mine, a reduction in the victim’s status due to “old injuries”, randomly destroying an item in your possession due to “wear and tear” or reducing the amount of currency you had by half due to “counterfeit currencies”.

I often felt miserable playing this game in the past. Previously while I was deep inside the dungeon, out of all the items in my possession the one item that was broken was my magic bag. I ended up leaving most of them in the dungeon when I escaped above ground. Just that plight alone dealt enough damage to me to cause a trauma.

Since the game was now reality, the concept of having a bad flag being raised with an event didn’t exist. If it was a game, the game would merely send a system message stating that the event has occurred. In reality however, a process was required.

Using our party as an example, my old scar of lowering the status could easily be prevented by performing proper body maintenance. Having damage inflicted onto our belongings could also be prevented through proper equipment checks while you could only lose money through actual cases of fraud.

If anything, I’m looking forward to whatever ability that will replace the effect of negating a misfortune flag.

There were also a small fraction of higher monsters capable of bestowing curses onto players. Even players were capable of inflicting cursess onto other players. It isn’t an ability registered as a skill, but rather a bloodline trait. These families also offered their abilities as a service, inflicting curses given the right amount.  

Just as there are ways to inflict curses, there are also items capable of preventing curses.

Thus, even if they weren’t easy to come by they were important items to have on hand. Especially for someone as prominent as Selene.

Inflicting harm without getting your hands dirty is a dream ability for people in the political world which made the necessary countermeasures necessary.

 

  [Yuuya is so cute. Luna will be hugging Yuuya to sleep tonight.] (Luna)

 

Startled by the voice behind me, I turned around to see Luna lying in bed while embracing my doll tightly. I was relieved as the one Luna will be hugging to bed tonight isn’t me but my doll.

Sleeping right next to Luna was Til.

  

  [Luna, you must really like that doll. You’ve been playing with the doll the entire time.] (Til)

  [Uhn. It’s my favourite. Wasn’t Til also been grinning while caressing the doll earlier.] (Luna)

  [It’s not like I was thinking of anything weird. Don’t go around saying weird things in front of Yuuya-niisan.] (Til)

  [Why are you getting embarrassed? Luna wasn’t saying anything weird.] (Luna)

 

Unlike me, Luna and Til seemed to genuinely like the dolls as I began to blush watching them pamper my doll-look alike. I understood how they felt though since I thought that their dolls were cute too but since it’ll paint an unsightly picture I decided not to play around with the dolls in self-restraint.

 

  [Kyu kyu!] (Erik)

 

Erik flew towards the two children with a loud cry as it began kicking the doll in Luna’s embrace.

 

  [Erik, bad boy!] (Luna)

  [kyu..] (Erik)

 

Erik looked despondent as Luna raised her voice towards Erik with genuine anger.

The unexpected sight of Erik making Luna genuinely angry was amusing as I let out a laugh. 

 

  [You got pretty angry at that. Erik must have been jealous.] (Yuuya)

  [Jealous?] (Luna)

  [You and Til have been all over your dolls that he must have felt threatened by them.] (Yuuya)

 

Thinking back to awhile ago back when Til just joined the group, Luna had felt a similar sense of jealous thinking that I was going to be taken away, resulting in her treating Til with more hostility than necessary. Erik was going through something similar to Luna in that time.

 

  [I understand. Erik, you kicked Luna’s precious item and you are a bad boy. But Luna understands so Luna isn’t angry anymore.] (Luna)

  [Kyu!] (Erik)

 

Luna hugged Erik as she began stroking his head causing Erik to let out a cry. The scene of the young girl playing with a faerie dragon was a therapeutic experience as I thought to myself, ‘I want it to stay like this’. However I couldn’t say that out loud as I had to prepare for tomorrow.

 

  [Now then, let’s begin discussing about our exploration tomorrow. It’ll be our first time entering this city’s dungeon. The environment of the dungeons here are different from Flaregard’s. There are several key pointers to remember.] (Yuuya)

 

Everyone began to gather as I started my briefing. The dungeons in Grannel were intermediate dungeons. Compared to the Temple of the Primal Flame, the dungeons here were easier however underestimating the dungeon was dangerous. Hence the reason they are called dungeons.

Thinking about our levels alone, there shouldn’t be a reason for us to be wary of intermediate dungeons. Hence this time, I’ll be minimizing my advice to observe the girls’ abilities to respond to unexpected situations. The main objective is to gain experience mapping out uncharted territory without any information about Grannel’s dungeons.

 

Note: I am interpreting curses and misfortune flags as two separate things as they have different kanji in the raws although their abilities might be similar. Their effects might also be preventable by the same items at least based on my understanding. 

 

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The next morning, we arrived at the dungeon entrance.

Since it was right after the dungeon’s reset, there were a lot of adventurers entering the dungeon. The glint in everyone’s eyes changed as they entered the dungeon.

At this rate, we’ll be left behind.

 

  [Yuuya, it’s green everywhere!] (Luna)

  [This isn’t what I expected. The wind feels stuffy and the ground feels muddy. I don’t like this place.] (Til)

  [It’s much more of a jungle than a forest.] (Phil)

  [I’m looking forward to the monsters that will appear in this dungeon.] (Selene)

 

Everyone began saying their first impression and as Phil stated, Grannel’s dungeons weren’t forests but a jungle instead. The greenery surrounding the town looks similar to Greenwood, however the rainforests here were filled with countless vines and undergrowth. The atmosphere here became even hotter as if it was agreeing with Til’s sentiments.

 

  [Everyone, have you properly prepared your equipment?] (Yuuya)

  [Perfectly!] (Luna)

  [I saw several good items in the market.] (Til)

  

Luna and Til took out a raincoat from their magic bag.

 

  [The unique trait of this dungeon was it’s weather. Squalls often occur here causing the weather to change extremely quickly, making it difficult to deal with without rain gear. At the same time, underestimating the rain isn’t an option either. Being drenched in the rain saps away your body heat reducing your physical strength as well as causes your footing to become unstable from the mud. Furthermore long ranged attacks had reduced accuracy and power. We won’t be able to challenge the dungeon at our usual speed and risk exhausting ourselves quickly. It’ll be easy if this was any other dungeon, however be sure to listen to your body this time around. If it’s getting difficult, we’ll fall out immediately.] (Yuuya)

 

Normally, the weather in the dungeon doesn’t experience changes. However this point onwards, we’ll start to experience dungeons with unique weather. Furthermore those dungeons often have gimmicks which takes advantage of this.

In this dungeon, there is also a hidden floor containing treasures which can only be entered by understanding the change in weather. Since this was a secret that could be understood by other adventurers, I have to be on the lookout for other adventurers.

 

  [Understood. But Yuuya, Erik doesn’t have a coat… Erik, if it rains be sure to enter Luna’s raincoat!] (Luna)

  [Kyu!] (Erik)

 

This should be enough preparation before our departure.

Let’s begin our departure.

 

  [Yuuya-ojisan. The quest I accepted in the guild was to gather meat from Paradise Birds.] (Selene)

  [Ah. The Paradise Birds appear in this dungeon…. Normally the meat dropped by monsters are roughly categorized as Beef and Pork. However there are rare cases where the meat has a unique name. For those cases, the meat itself is a delicacy. One of those meat belongs to the Paradise Bird, typically served as a special dish in the upper echelons of luxury for Grannel. I haven’t tasted it myself, but I’ve heard that it tastes exactly the same as its name, like paradise.] (Yuuya)

 

There were many people who visited Grannel just to eat this special dish. Just as you would expect, I did encounter the item in the past however as I was more concerned about my financial status I sold it. This time however I am curious about its taste.

 

  [Luna wants to go to paradise!] (Luna)

  [Uhn Uhn. I want to taste it too. We definitely have to get it. It’ll be our dinner tonight!] (Til)

  [The two of you should listen carefully. Our quest is a gathering quest and that takes priority. Although if we’re able to obtain more than required for the quest, we’ll be able to enjoy it too.] (Phil)

  [Luna will do her best!] (Luna)

 

Luna perked up her fox ears and began searching around. Whenever food is concerned, her motivation increases by another fifty percent.

 

  [Now then, let’s begin moving forward. We aren’t the only ones targeting the Paradise Birds. Above all, its meat sells at a high price. Everybody who is capable will be targeting it. It’ll be a scramble.] (Yuuya)

 

This was the reason why the adventurers’ attitudes flipped around as they rushed towards the depths of the jungle. Everyone was eyeing to hunt the Paradise Birds to make some quick cash. In other words, everyone is our enemy.

Our main weapons were our mobility, Luna’s Presence Detection and her Increased Drop Rate. Let’s earn as much as we can today using our specialized Thief and her exploration skills.

 

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.

 

We are currently walking within the jungle. 

Due to the heavy downfall, the soft soil turned into mud as our ankles began sinking to our ankles.

 

  [It’s difficult to move.] (Luna)

 

Luna had a tense look as her main weapon, her speed was being affected. Luna’s fox ears began twitching out of the blue.

 

  [It’s here! A bird-shaped monster. But something is wrong. I feel it there by the tree but there’s nothing there.] (Luna)

  [No, you’re right. Look carefully. It’s on that branch.] (Yuuya)

  [Ahh. I understand. The bird is perched on the branch right there. It has the same colour and shape as a leaf. It looks exactly like a normal leaf.] (Luna)

 

For male Paradise Birds, they stood out prominently with their gaudy coloured bodies while the females camouflaged into their surroundings like this. Thanks to this, the male Paradise Birds were often hunted by adventurers for their meat while the females were left relatively untouched as they went by unnoticed.

 

  [Til, can you hit it from here? If we get any closer than this, it’ll notice us.] (Yuuya)

 

The distance between it and us wasn’t that far however our footing was unstable due to the mud and the trees were dense here. Firing arrows in this condition would be akin to threading a needle.

 

  [Fufufu. Who do you think you’re talking to. Something like this can be done even with my eyes closed. Look at this.] (Til)

 

Til was full of confidence while Phil seemed to be uneasy watching her behave like this…  Or rather, she didn’t seem that worried as Til reached out for an arrow.

Til continued to fire with her usual elegance as her arrow flew cleanly through the vegetation towards her target. However, the arrow was slightly off as it pierced through the branch, shaking it.

 

The Paradise Bird took off in surprise as it tried to escape towards the sky. However before it noticed, Phil immediately took out her bow and arrow, firing two arrows which seemed to home towards its body, piercing it before falling towards the ground.

 

  [It won’t escape.] (Phil)

 

Phil acted so quickly that I wouldn’t be surprised that she had expected Til to miss. She was certainly expecting this outcome as Til grasped her bow tightly.

 

  [What is this!? I did it as usual. I read the wind correctly.] (Til)

  [You missed precisely because you fired it normally. You weren’t able to read the power of the wind correctly. The environment here is very humid making the wind heavier than usual. This shows that you’ve never fired an arrow in this climate before.] (Phil)

 

Til seemed tongue tied as she began to close her eyes, trying her best to grasp the feeling of the wind blowing past her body.

 

  [So this is what you mean. I still have a long way to go. However I won’t miss the next one.] (Til)

  [If it’s you, then I’m sure you’ll get it once you try it out several times. The important thing to confirm your surroundings as compared to firing everything as usual.] (Phil)

 

Til continued to ask questions. Phil was as great of a teacher as I expected. Knowing her I can leave Til in her care with confidence.

 

  [Meat.. I guess not.] (Luna)

 

Luna proceeded towards the location where the two elven sisters defeated the Paradise Bird however she turned around dejectedly, walking slowly back towards us. This couldn’t be helped as the meat’s drop rate was so low that even with Increased Drop Rate it was incredibly unlikely.

 

  [We don’t have time to idle around. The more time we waste, the more Paradise Birds will get hunted by other adventurers.] (Yuuya)

  [Uhn. Let’s continue searching.] (Luna)

 

For all we know, the male birds could have already been wiped out. It’s just a matter of how many female birds will be overlooked by the rest. We’ll have to be incredibly lucky to get the meat no matter how much we want it.

Just as we continued our hunt, heavy winds and rain began to pour as if a bucket was flipped over the sky. 

This was perfect as there were some places that we wouldn’t be able to access without the rain and it was about time for us to head there. Supposing no one has accessed the area yet, the Paradise Birds in that area will be ripe for the taking.

<End of Chapter>

Sorry for the delay! Since this chapter was barely completed late last week I decided to just release it today. Due to the nature of my job I won’t be able to release chapters consistently but I’ll try my best to churn out as many as I can.