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The next day.
I met with Rifreya in the morning and we headed to the blacksmith.
“Today I am really just going to go get my weapon, you know? We have been diving into the dungeon the whole time lately, so wouldn’t it be better for you to get a nice deserved break? The plan is to dive again tomorrow for 3 days consecutively after all.” (Hikaru)
“Yeah, I will have my weapon checked today, so once I am done with that, I will return to the inn to rest.” (Rifreya)
Is apparently how it is.
Well, I don’t know what’s the actual frequency of breaks in this world for explorers, so I can’t really say much here.
According to Grapefull, the most common pattern is to explore 1 day and rest 1 day. It is a job that strains your body, so that might be the best frequency.
Though, in my case, I have my circumstances. If Rifreya finds it rough, then I will change it, but I want to keep this pace for now.
“Ooh, it is ready.”
When we arrived at the smithy, the old man immediately brought out the freshly made shortsword.
The old man is brusque, but he is fast and careful in his work.
“I don’t think there’s any problem, but please confirm it. The scabbard and handle are made from black sakura wood, and the scabbard has a leather strap wrapped around to prevent it from sliding. If you don’t like it, you can change the wrapping string in whichever way you like.”
The shortsword that the old man made had both a black scabbard and handle.
I showed him my dark abilities, so he must have matched them.
It is probably also because my attire is black as well.
The appearance is that of a short sword, but it has decent weight to it, to the point that it made me uneasy if I will actually be able to use it for a second there. Maybe because I asked for a thick and rustic blade, or it might be that he judged I could utilize this in the sword swinging test.
“Hikaru, Hikaru, please show me the blade already.” (Rifreya)
“Got it. I am kinda nervous here…” (Hikaru)
I take out the shortsword from its sheath.
I was expecting a white blade, but…
“It fits you perfectly, Hikaru!” (Rifreya)
To my surprise, even the blade was black.
As expected of an isekai. To think there would be black blades…
“I made it with black meteoric iron. That metal is actually not popular, so I had an excess of it. But it fits you nicely, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, I like it a lot, but…meteoric iron? It falls from the sky?” (Hikaru)
“You could say that. It is a pretty special metal, but it is not like they come in fixed amounts, and there’s not much use to them aside from making them into daggers or shortswords. Also, there’s a lot of customers that don’t like black blades, so I was wondering what to do. That metal is said to be loved by the Night Goddess. It should have good compatibility with your Spirit Abilities.”
“Hikaru, the Great Dark Spirit-sama is the Goddess. The Fire, Earth, and Light Great Spirit-samas are Gods, and the familiars of the Sun God. The Water, Wind, and Dark Great Spirit-samas are Goddesses, and the familiars of the Moon God. Amongst them, the Great Dark Spirit-sama is said to be the closest to the Moon God.” (Rifreya)
So there was a division like that.
Well, Great Spirits do exist and you can communicate with them, so it must be true.
A world where Gods are real feels outlandish for someone like me who has come from modern Japan.
I don’t know if she is telling me a fairy tale here, or telling me an actual fact.
“The Great Dark Spirit-sama is also called the Night Goddess after all. Thanks to that, she rarely appears in front of people.”
“If I remember correctly, she only has natural churches. I want to go see the Dark Great Church of Milliestas at least once.” (Rifreya)
“It seems the priests are desperately searching for the Great Dark Spirit-sama though. She probably is the opposite of the Great Light Spirit-sama in that she only appears at night. I feel like it would be impossible to find her with only the moonlight.”
“It is said that finding even the Great Light Spirit-sama is difficult after all. I think they will only be finding natural churches as it has always been.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya and the old man began talking about Great Spirits.
The two might unexpectedly be Great Spirit otakus. There’s a lot of words I haven’t heard before.
I leave the two talking, and I begin to check my shortsword.
My honest opinion here is that something resembling a japanese sword was unexpectedly made. It was made as I ordered, so you could say it is natural it turned out this way. A black scabbard and a black wrapping. The pommel is ring-shaped, and if I fasten a string to it, I might be able to avoid dropping it.
The blade is around 35 cm long, and the handle that can be held with both hands must be around 25 cm; 60 cm overall. The blade is pretty heavy, but maybe because the handle is long, I don’t feel the weight much.
It really is heavy, but there’s no problem when swinging it or stabbing.
At the very least, with my current fighting style, there’s no back and forth in my battles, so being able to do accurate strikes is essential.
“Nice… It is really nice…” (Hikaru)
Most of all, I like that it looks cool.
It may be a shortsword, but it is a world where japanese swords don’t exist, so I thought of the possibility that my request wouldn’t transmit properly, but it is 7 cm in width and the thickness is 2 cm which was like half on its way to be a blunt weapon was far above my expectations, and it spoke fluently about this being a weapon used against monsters.
“Looks like you have taken a liking to it. These moments really do make it worth being a blacksmith.”
“It is rare to see Hikaru smiling like that, so I think he is really happy.” (Rifreya)
It seems the two were watching me at some point in time. It is a bit embarrassing.
I return the shortsword back to its sheath.
“Thank you very much. It is really good. I have been going around using an unreliable dagger this whole time, so I finally feel as if I am one step into being competent.” (Hikaru)
“Ye got it. An explorer and their weapon have an unbreakable relationship after all. Think of it as your new partner and take good care of it. Do you know how to maintain it?”
“You smear it with oil, right?” (Hikaru)
“Right, if it gets dirty, use a cloth to wipe away the old oil, and smear it lightly with new oil. Since you will be using it in the dungeon, it will rarely get dirty, so there’s no need to be bothered about it that much though.”
I see. The monsters in the dungeon don’t leave corpses, so there won’t be blood, fluids, or pieces of meat sticking to it.
You could even say the chances of the sweat and blood of the user sticking to it are higher.
Hearing about the maintenance method, I pay the remaining 20 silver coins.
I was given cloth and oil for free, and I hung my shortsword on my waist.
“Now, Rifreya, as I said yesterday, I have some business today, so this is it for today. I will come pick you up tomorrow morning.” (Hikaru)
“Eh, aah, yeah. See you tomorrow, Hikaru.” (Rifreya)
The face of Rifreya was saying she wanted to hang out more, but I really have business today.
I won’t say that back figure of hers doesn’t sway me, but I shook off that temptation and began walking.
I take a long turn through a back alley to the guild.
I had them issue an entrance permit for the dungeon, buy a number of potions, and enter the dungeon alone.
The method to gain viewers.
I have said this many times already, but the best method is for me to risk my life.
The viewers wish for my death after all.
- Chapter 062: Phantom Warrior and True Feelings
The method to become number one within more than 700 Chosen…
That is to drop into a situation where my life is in danger. That’s the only method I could think of.
If I just live my life normally, that would just be hateful. There’s no person who would want to watch that.
It would just be odious if I were to simply have a fulfilling adventure. But this can bring attention in a negative way.
I am currently going down the stairs to lower floors with ‘confidence going to my head’…
For the viewers that wish for my death, this is a development right in their alley.
Going through the lower floors, where there’s no knowing when you will die, should be able to bring out a high number of viewers.
I can bring back Nanami.
If that can be achieved, then it is natural for me to put my life as the betting chip.
At this moment, I am going to move forward while changing the gazes and scorn from Earth into strength.
I went right to the 2nd Floor, and checked my equipment in front of the stairs leading to the 3rd Floor.
Shortsword and spare dagger. My armor is simply the Dark Night Gauntlet.
A lineup that has close to zero defensive power as always.
Even so, that’s my style.
After confirming that there’s no one around, I coughed once and spoke.
“Eeh, I will be going to the 3rd Floor, the Straying Big Mist Garden. I have almost no knowledge of it, but I am thinking of doing my best in commentating, so please look forward to it.” (Hikaru)
I have never done commentaries, so I don’t know how I should be doing this. Maybe I should have gone for a rowdier style.
I somewhat understand that I should be creating my own character, but it is difficult to do it in practice.
“Also, 2 of my Dark Spirit Abilities have been raised to Tier 3 and have ranked up. One is plain, but it is the Shadow Bag that has changed to Shadow Storage. It seems like the storage amount has increased.” (Hikaru)
It is plain, but it has gotten really handy.
It has increased its storage size by around 8 times after all.
I can now store a whole lot of stuff like armor and shields.
I can put my spare weapon here, and I can carry bandages, food, and stuff like potions without any worry of breaking them on the way.
The other explorer parties hire porters quite a lot, but that’s unnecessary, at least in the parties where I am in.
“The other one is Shadow Runner. To my surprise, it has become Phantom Warrior. Let’s test it out on a monster nearby.” (Hikaru)
By the way, my current Tier and Proficiency looks like this,
It seems like all Abilities grade up when they reach Tier 3.
[Dark Spirit Ability]
Tier 1 Ability
・Falsehood of Darkness [Shade Shift] Proficiency 89
Tier 2 Ability
・View of Darkness [Dark Vision] Proficiency 94
・Casket of Darkness [Shadow Bind] Proficiency 58
・Call of Darkness [Summon: Night Bug] Proficiency 42
Tier 3 Ability
・Transformation of Darkness [Phantom Warrior] Proficiency 0
・Deposition of Darkness [Shadow Storage] Proficiency 1
Tier 4 Ability
・Revelation of Darkness [Darkness Fog] Proficiency 79
・Return of Darkness [Create: Undead] Proficiency 1
It must be because I used them in actual combat, or because I had comrades, my Proficiency was going up nicely.
I didn’t have many chances to use Shade Shift, so it was hard to raise, but at this rate, I might be able to raise Shadow Bind and Summon: Night Bug to Tier 3 which have had their usage rate increased.
By the way, even if my Tier increases and I learn higher abilities, it is possible to use the lower Tier abilities too.
After walking for a bit, I found an ogre.
Luckily, it is alone.
“It is an ogre. I am thinking about fighting it to test my new weapon as well. Rifreya is not here with me today, so I will do this carefully.” (Hikaru)
I hide myself with Darkness Fog, and cast an ability towards the ogre.
“[Phantom Warrior].” (Hikaru)
Spirit Energy was changed into darkness with the activation of the ability, and that darkness gradually turned humanoid…changing into the form of a warrior.
With armor and helmet, shield on its left arm, a warrior wielding a big sword.
It wasn’t completely made out of darkness. Just like Shade Shift, it is mimicking a human hiding in the darkness. It is perfect enough that it would be hard for a monster to see the difference.
The phantom warrior is drumming the shield with its sword to draw attention, and approaches the ogre one deep step at a time.
The ogre also readied its weapon and took a fighting stance.
I narrow down my Darkness Fog to its minimum, unsheathe my weapon while in the darkness, take the long way, and draw closer to the ogre unnoticed.
The ogre swings its axe at the phantom warrior.
But a warrior of darkness is simply a phantom being, so the deadly weapon cut through air, and the phantom warrior was totally fine. It continues raising noise and showing motions of attacking, but obviously, it has no substance, so there’s no damage.
The ogre had its attention completely drawn by the phantom warrior, so I pierced him with my shortsword from the back -at the base of its neck.
The ogre died in one hit, and a fist sized Spirit Stone fell onto the ground.
“Phantom Warrior seems to be a great ability. It has zero attack power as usual, but it seems like it will be able to hold back a good number of enemies at the same time.” (Hikaru)
I undo the Darkness Fog, and I pick up the Spirit Stone as I resume commenting.
You could say this is actually incomparably more useful in actual combat than Shadow Runner. The previous one was simply a shadow having it run and distracting it for a bit, but a phantom warrior is a warrior no matter where you look at it. It should be difficult to ignore it; no matter if it is human or monster.
“Now then, I have tested the new ability, so let’s go down to the 3rd Floor. I will do my best to not die!” (Hikaru)
I went down the stairs while still maintaining Darkness Fog.
The stairs go on for pretty long.
The 1st Floor didn’t really feel like it is underground that much, and it is made in a way that you can leave the Dusk Hades Street in a few turns.
The stairs to the 2nd Floor were the length of two flights of stairs in a building. It must be because the Hungry Beast Underground Prison isn’t that high of a place.
The stairs I am going down right now easily go over the 100 steps.
(Even so…I wonder what’s this. Rather than calling it calming…it is more like it is comfortable…) (Hikaru)
It is different from the time when I am with comrades.
I was feeling strange comfort from hiding in the darkness alone.
Being in a party means that I have to think about my party members the whole time.
Dungeon exploration always has tension present.
At the very least, it is a lot higher than when I am diving alone.
One more thing.
Since the time I formed a party, I have kept the times when I am in the darkness to only in battle.
In other words, I was mostly showing myself.
(I was the one who was pushing myself, huh…) (Hikaru)
Taking 1st place in the viewer count race.
I decided to do anything for the sake of that.
But it is not like the laughs and gazes have disappeared.
I was simply pretending I didn’t hear it.
Pretending I don’t feel them.
I hear them no matter what. I have been telling myself those are the voices and gazes of the Spirits.
Just as Rifreya said, those voices and gazes were a trait from the Affection of Spirits -the trait of Loved Ones.
But I have already perceived them in that way, so treating them as something different or as harmless is a different story.
Voices that are laughing at me; telling me that there’s no way someone like me can take 1st place.
Gazes of curiosity; watching me utilize others for my own benefit.
Have I managed to act bright and cheerful…? Did I manage to hide it?
I thought I managed to.
And in reality, I did feel like I had begun to get used to it.
But it was no good.
When I drop my guard, those brush the weak parts of my heart.
But inside the darkness where those voices and gazes can’t reach, I can stay in my natural form.
Commenting is rough, but if it is inside the darkness, it is like I am talking to myself.
I told myself that diving alone was for the sake of increasing viewers, but maybe this was unexpectedly something that I myself wished for.
I am honestly scared to go to lower floors on my own.
My legs going down the stairs are trembling, and my goosebumps aren’t stopping.
But my trust towards the darkness that has saved my life countless times was lessening that fear.
The presence of the Spirits that I could feel on my skin through the deep darkness of Darkness Fog.
That’s why, I may be alone, but I am not alone.
This pleasant darkness, that felt as if dozing off, could even be called relaxing.
I try to calm myself as I trek onto the end of the stairs; towards the new stage where my battle for 1st place will take place.
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