With Rifreya now back, we have become a 4 person party.
It simply increased by 1, but in terms of battle power, I think it has increased quite a lot.
It is because Jeanne, Rifreya, and I can fight alone pretty well. At the times when many monsters show up at the same time, it would serve greatly that every one of us can crush them.
I can also economise my Spirit Abilities a lot by using just the Shadow Bind and Darkness Fog.
With that, I can increase the use of the high cost abilities instead, like Summon Dark Knight and Dark Coffin. Or I could use the low level ability Shade Shift mainly in order to increase proficiency.
Anyways, it is true that with higher numbers now, the wiggle room to do things has increased.
And so, we went down to the 2nd Floor at once but…
“This is something I noticed, but your battle style isn’t suited for teamwork either, Reya.” (Jeanne)
After testing out a number of battles, Jeanne said straight out.
“True… I was told that by the girls I was partying with before as well.” (Rifreya)
“You can match well with this, Kuro?” (Jeanne)
“No, it was more like I had Rifreya match me.” (Hikaru)
“Figures… Fumu…” (Jeanne)
The reality is that Rifreya’s attacks are like a small storm using a giant weapon, and it is not a battle style that takes into account the details like distinguishing enemies and allies.
Our teamwork was plainly having her match the timing of our attacks, and it is not like we were coordinating our attacks for a single objective.
Well, in the first place, if the attacks of Rifreya landed cleanly in the 3rd Floor, all monsters would die in one hit, so it is also because there was no need for teamwork though.
“My affinity with Kuro is bad; Reya doesn’t suit coordinated attacks. In that case, we should not think too much about teamwork at first, and should just go with the method of fighting alone for now… We will go with that for a while and learn the battle style of each other… If it is one on one, there’s barely any monsters that can match us anyways… Kuro will be taking command and leadership in battle. And when it is possible, join in, or assist mainly focusing on abilities…” (Jeanne)
Jeanne put a hand on her chin and began mumbling in a way as if she wasn’t directing this to anyone in particular, but well, my opinion is the same.
We are strong individually, but if we tried to force teamwork when fighting, it could end up with accidents.
“Then, I will fight together with Hikaru, and Jeanne will be fighting alone…” (Rifreya)
“No, wait.” (Jeanne)
Rifreya tried to give a conclusion here, but Jeanne stopped it with her hand.
“It is not like we can’t manage teamwork here. I am simply stating that it is impossible at present. We are going to be partying here, so do you think there would be an idiot who would give up on it from the get-go? We are going to do it until we make it work.” (Jeanne)
“Until we make it work…” (Rifreya)
“Your sword dance is strong, Reya, but it is not like you can keep it up forever. Even in the duel of before, you created a big opening after swinging your sword 5 times. I would say we have to cover you in that area.” (Jeanne)
As expected of Jeanne. She is determined.
Normally, you would flow into the more realistic view, but this must be because she is always aiming to become the strongest.
“We will clear the 4th Floor and 5th Floor, and if we are going to be going even deeper floors, we will definitely hit a wall if we continue relying on being separately strong. The ideal form we should be aiming for is ‘Strong when separate’ ‘Even stronger when together’. We have to be able to freely go for breaking through on one point, and crushing them from different points. There’s no way we would be able to conquer the dungeon with only one life. This is just what I have judged here, but with how we currently are, we don’t even have a winning chance against the Scyllas, Basilisks, let alone the Pit Fiend.” (Jeanne)
“Then, what should we do?” (Hikaru)
“Right… There’s a lot we have to do and can do, but I think the first thing we have to go for is securing one ‘clearing method’. The explorers by profession here are doing exactly that, right? It means that’s just how effective it is.” (Jeanne)
“What do you mean by the clearing method?” (Hikaru)
“It means having a completely set way to fight for each monster. Most explorers specialized in the 3rd Floor apparently earn a living with just that.” (Jeanne)
I have heard before that there are a lot of explorers specialized in the 3rd Floor.
Only at the times when the Garden Panther shows up, casualties would happen if they can’t run away properly, but apparently the way to fight against all the monsters aside from that one has been established.
“To put it clearly here, the monsters spawning in this dungeon are fixed, and there isn’t that much variety. There’s barely any cases of monsters growing and becoming stronger. In a game, it would be on the level where you could clear it completely in just a few hours.” (Jeanne)
“No, this isn’t a game. That would be looking down too much on it. The monsters in the 4th Floor are scary, you know?” (Hikaru)
“In this case, the scary factor isn’t of much relevance, Kuro. My method is the complete opposite. It is the method that looks down on our opponent the least. Did you go down to the 4th Floor after thoroughly getting information about the monsters? Fighting without knowing, moreover, losing from that is what an idiot would do. This is different from games in the fact that there’s no room to play around.” (Jeanne)
I see. The monsters that will be showing are fixed, so placing fixed methods for them might instead be safer.
In this world where there’s the concept of Tiers that’s similar to levels, you can accumulate a lot of fighting experience itself. Putting it bluntly, what’s important is how many strong monsters you have defeated.
Then, it is better to improve the efficiency, and increase your level steadily with that.
You can just increase your technique that way.
“However, there’s no point in taking our sweet time on the 3rd Floor. I want to go deeper and deeper as I watch the strength of the opponents, so…it will basically be increasing levels while practicing our teamwork. Once our level increases enough, we will move to the next floor, and we will establish a battle method for the monsters of that floor while exploring. If we deem that we are still not strong enough for it, we will increase our level more… It will basically be a cycle of that.” (Jeanne)
The clearing method of Jeanne was truly systematic, but you could say that’s the same for games. Forcing progression can cost you your life, and it is balanced in a way that you won’t lose to the normal small fry monsters around.
Maybe because of the nature of this world’s dungeons of increasing in the chaotic element the deeper the place is, the shallower the floor, the weaker the monster is, and as a result of that, it is maintaining the balance in terms of the strengths of the enemies.
The only thing that would break that balance would be the Demon Lord. Demon Lords rarely show up, and the lower the floor, the weaker the Demon Lord, so there should be no need to worry too much about it.
“Kuro, Reya, we are aiming for the top. In terms of individual strength as well as a party. We will raise our levels as much as they can be raised, get the strongest equipment, and conquer the dungeon.” (Jeanne)
Jeanne’s eyes were burning with fire in them. Eyes that held madness that doesn’t bring shame to the name of Battle Junky.
I think dungeons are places that are hard to conquer even by people with high motivation like Jeanne.
I spoke of a 5 year time limit, but just how far will we be able to reach in those 5 years, or will we be losing our lives without even reaching that time limit?
But 5 years is by no means a long period of time.
In the first place, we don’t even know how many floors there are.
And so, our teamwork training will be after our no teamwork hunt in the 3rd Floor takes shape to a certain degree.
The 2nd Floor is too dark to practice teamwork, and it is cramped. The only monster strong enough there we could train our teamwork with would be the Mantis. Because of that, we chose the 3rd Floor.
If it is the 3rd Floor, we can train our teamwork with Trolls.
Of course, it also includes raising our level. Rifreya and I will be increasing our Spirit Ability proficiency at the same time too, so you could say we are pretty busy here.
We explored the 2nd Floor for a few hours in order for Rifreya to get back in gear here, and we left around evening.
We entered the guild, and it was pretty packed, probably from explorers that had just come out from the dungeon.
It goes without saying, but there’s no concept of time inside the dungeon. Monsters spawn just the same, and they don’t sleep.
…No, maybe I simply don’t know about it and monsters actually do sleep, but at the very least, I haven’t seen them do that.
However, it is a different story for the people exploring.
They wake up in the morning and sleep at night. Because they lead such a lifestyle, even if they spend all their daytime in a dark dungeon, they would return by evening, eat dinner, and sleep. There’s a lot of people who lead a lifestyle like that.
We also fall in that category, and the guild naturally ends up being crowded from the selling of Spirit Stones.
“Want me to go?” (Rifreya)
Maybe because I frowned at it, Rifreya proposed this.
At the time when Rifreya and I were in a party of 2, she sold the loot alone. Thanks to that, I didn’t notice for the longest time that we had a crazy party name like Love-Love Twin Birds, but that aside…
“It is okay. I have already done that countless times anyways.” (Hikaru)
After saying that, I head to the counter.
Maybe because my feelings changed after partying with Jeanne, and I couldn’t just stay complaining the whole time, or because I simply got used to it, the gazes in the guild don’t bother me as much anymore. Or more like, they wouldn’t put their attention on me for every single thing, and it is also because the gazes gather more on Rifreya and Jeanne.
The explorer guild is quite the big building even compared to the buildings around here, and there’s explorers walking around with giant equipment, so that might be why the ceiling is high. It is made in a way as if it were a hotel lobby.
In a sense, this place is the location where the fortune of the dungeon city gathers, so the security is tight, and all staff members aside from the receptionists are former explorers. This is something I heard about from Rifreya before.
“Yo! It has been a while, Hikaru. Been doing well?”
When I stood in line, the ones who joined the line were Alex and his party.
We haven’t seen each other since the Demon Lord subjugation.
“It has been a while. So-so. Normal here.” (Hikaru)
“I see. The last time I saw you, you had the face of a dead man, so I was worried, you know?” (Alex)
“A lot was going on back then after all. Thanks.” (Hikaru)
Alex and his party are one the few acquaintances I have in this city.
Maybe because we are both Chosen, there was a sense of familiarity between us. Of course, it is also in great part because of how charismatic Alex is though.
“It has been a while, Alex-san.” (Rifreya)
“Rifreya-san! You have come back, huh. Didn’t you say you would be returning to your homeland?” (Alex)
“I did return. But all my family problems have been resolved.” (Rifreya)
“And so…the person there…wait, eh? Jeanne Collet?” (Alex)
After a short response, Jeanne hides behind me.
It is an action that’s hard to believe came from her who is usually always so imposing.
“…I can’t deal well with big men. Kuro, do something.” (Jeanne)
Jeanne whispers to me.
It is true that there’s a difference of around 20cm between me and Alex. Jeanne is an otaku on the inside, so someone like Alex, who looks like he would be at the top caste of the school, might be a hard type for her to interact with.
“Eh? Why is Jeanne Collet together with you, Hikaru?” (Alex)
“It is a long story, but a lot happened, and it ended up with us exploring the dungeon together.” (Hikaru)
“I…I see… Together…? You two together with Rifreya-san…?” (Alex)
“That’s right…?” (Hikaru)
Alex looks at me, Rifreya, and Jeanne who is hiding behind me as if he had seen a ghost.
And after that, he looked at his own party members: Crabbell and Jojordan.
“No, ain’t this weird?! This is unfair! I demand a trade!” (Alex)
“That’s right, that’s right! Things would be fair if we trade Alex for Rifreya-san!” (Crabbell)
“Eh? I am the one who is being traded away?!” (Alex)
Alex and for some reason even Crabbell lose it here.
Jojordan’s cheeks were flushed as if he wanted to join the conversation, but it seems like he is the type that can’t proactively join.
“No, there’s no way we would do a trade.” (Hikaru)
“That’s right. Hikaru and I are one and the same.” (Rifreya)
“…I hate noisy men.” (Jeanne)
We all refuse.
No, well, Alex must have said that jokingly though…
“Damn it… Why is Hikaru the only popular one here…? I don’t get it…” (Alex)
“That’s right, that’s right. I should be manlier than him!” (Crabbell)
“Isn’t it because you always say stuff like that…?” (Jojordan)
That last retort was from Jojordan. It seems like he holds the one-step back perspective here.
Or more like, if we are talking about being popular or not, no matter how you think about it, Alex and Crabbell look like they would be the ones who should be more popular.
My relationship with Rifreya was from coincidentally saving her, and I am together with Jeanne simply as a teammate.
There’s no way I would be popular. I am your seedy-looking average Japanese person after all.
“Anyways, Hikaru, we will be leaving this city for a short while. We tried out a variety of jobs at the time when the dungeon was closed, and we accepted a long term bodyguard job. We have to guard them all the way to Stranoa. It is pretty good pay and the lodging and everything else will be on them.” (Alex)
“Where’s Stranoa?” (Hikaru)
“You kidding?! It is the capital, you know? Even I know. So you don’t know about the world at all despite being such a diligent guy, huh, Hikaru.” (Alex)
“I did stay shut-in for a long time after all…” (Hikaru)
Alex and his group are a party that are diving the dungeon to earn big, so it is not like they are aiming for the lowest floor, and it is not like they are aiming to become that strong.
The other 2 aside from Alex are silver rank, and they have their accomplishment in the Demon Lord subjugation. I see, if they can work outside, there’s no need to put your life on the line in the gloomy inside of a dungeon.
“I see. Be careful. Bandits show up in escorts, right? Can you defeat them?” (Hikaru)
“Eh? No…I think we can. It should be okay…probably.” (Alex)
“Won’t it end up with each side trying to kill each other? …No, it is okay if you understand this though.” (Hikaru)
I could tell that the grip of Jeanne’s fingers grabbing my sleeve grew stronger.
Jeanne travelled all the way to this city alone, so a lot must have happened.
Killing between people is something that scrapes away at you mentally unless you have quite the resolve. At the very least, I don’t think I would be able to do it.
In the dungeon, monsters and people don’t leave corpses, so there’s a lack of reality to it, but corpses remain when they are outside. You would have to accept the reality of what you have done from the very front.
I think it would be difficult for us as people who came from a peaceful world.
Alex is the type that lacks a sense of danger to the point that he spoke a whole ton about being an otherworlder to his party members, so I am a bit worried, but let’s believe that Crabbell and Jojordan will do well.
“If it comes to it, you could use a Barrier Stone… Anyways, be careful, okay?” (Hikaru)
“Are you guys going to be exploring the dungeon the whole time? Jeanne Collet too?” (Alex)
“Yeah, or rather, that’s our objective. Our objective is now to conquer the dungeon here.” (Hikaru)
“Meaning that you will be walking the unknown and aiming for the lowest floor? Wow…” (Alex)
For the regular explorers, conquering the dungeon might enter into the category of rare objectives. And the reality is that I didn’t even think of it.
Our turn came and we sold our Spirit Stones.
Alex and his party are apparently going to be leaving the city tomorrow.
5 days until the 2nd group of otherworlders come…