Once I fell to the ground and the stun wore off, I immediately stood up.
“Oops, I almost forgot.” (Souma)
I am worried about the reaction of Ringo, but that’s why there’s something I must do beforehand.
The effect of Incarnation of Fury still hasn’t ended.
I control my 3x speed as I head to the place where the Butcher was -where the drop items have fallen.
The King Butcher dropped two items again.
The Greatsword [Cleaver] and the doping item [Power Seed].
This small Power Seed is the last reason why I challenged the King Butcher.
In this game where the stats can go over 1,000, there isn’t much point in increasing your strength by 1 or 2.
That’s practically trash and it is impossible to affect the game balance from that.
But what if you steadily stack them to 100-200?
—Trash can turn into a mountain if stacked.
As such, the increase in strength from the Power Seed should become a big big weapon for me.
Normally, you only obtain seed items from boss drops, so there’s a limit to how many you obtain.
But the one that destroys this logic is this King Butcher.
This guy that’s originally a unique dungeon boss will 100% drop a Power Seed that has a limit in how many you obtain.
And what’s most important here is that there’s no restriction in the amount of times this guy appears because of the bug.
As long as I continue defeating the Butcher, in theory, I should be able to get an infinite amount of Power Seeds.
(This is the first step to that.) (Souma)
I take out the seed items that were in my bag until now and respectfully pick up the seed that the Butcher dropped.
I plan to have this serve as a trump card in defeating the Demon Lord.
I have given up on obtaining the 3 times skill speed in this time’s fight, but I don’t plan on breaking my word about not using skills outside my 3x speed time.
I will make sure to definitely master the use of skill canceling in 3x speed by the time limit.
But even if I manage to master the 3 times speed, it would be difficult to defeat the Demon Lord at this rate.
In order to defeat the Demon Lord, you not only need outstanding speed, but also outstanding attack power.
But I already have an aim to achieve that.
If I combine both the Incarnation of Fury and a whole ton of Power Seeds, I am sure…
The moment I picked up the seed and was about to bring it into my mouth…I suddenly lost freedom in my body.
No, it is not like I can’t move my body at all.
It is just that my movements are shockingly slow, and my body feels heavy like lead.
The clothes and armor I am wearing felt as if they had suddenly increased in weight.
All the sensations in my body dulled as if it was not my body.
(Why…? ) (Souma)
The hand that I tried to raise was not moving satisfactorily.
Even though I am trying to put as much strength as possible to bring it up, I am losing in strength.
I can’t properly move a single finger.
This is clearly abnormal.
I was on the verge of panicking here, and then I finally noticed.
(Could this be the backlash of Incarnation of Fury?) (Souma)
Incarnation of Fury buffs the base stats of the player by 3x for 30 seconds, but the next 30 seconds will instead lower all your base stats to 1/100th.
If your agility changes to 1/100, there’s no way you would be able to move your body properly, and with 1/100 of your strength, the equipment you have had until now would be 100 times heavier.
I honestly underestimated it.
This already far surpasses the realm of parameters.
There’s strict inspections when it comes to the functions in a VR games that involve the senses of the player. Especially the ones that accelerate the thought process. Not only is it untrodden land, it is prohibited by the law.
That’s why the only thing that pertains to agility is the speed at which your body moves.
Agility doesn’t affect things that support communication like the brain, eyes, and mouth.
However, that just makes this strange sensation stand out even more.
(It is as if I had sleep paralysis…) (Souma)
1/100 of the speed you have means that actions that you would normally finish in 1 second will take you 100 seconds now. Basically, it takes you 1 minute 40 seconds.
Because my brain is functioning close to normal here, the fear of my body not moving as it should is being amplified.
I at the very least don’t think I would be able to fight enemies in this state.
Using Incarnation of Fury in any scenario aside from ones where I can definitely defeat the enemy within 30 seconds would practically be suicide.
I once again shudder at my recklessness.
Having pinpointed the reason, tension left my body.
Strength escaped from my raised hand and the seed was on the verge of falling from there.
That hand was gently supported from below.
A small cold hand.
I moved my tongue that wasn’t responding well and called her name.
However, the girl that normally said ‘…Souma’ in a subdued manner was staying silent.
I am stiff in place, slightly bent over, so Ringo’s face is a bit higher than mine.
I can’t raise my head, but I do my best by looking up with my eyes that can still move, checking the expression of Ringo.
Even at a time like this, the Ringo’s face looked expressionless at a glance and didn’t show any signs of being disturbed…
However, her eyebrows were closer together by a few millimeters, and her lips were tighter than usual. Also, I think the corner of her eyes are more wet than normal…
No, could this be…
“Ringo, could it be that you are cry—hmgh?!” (Souma)
She suddenly shoved all the seeds I had in my hand into my mouth.
I was surprised by this, but I can’t spit them out.
I moved my mouth and crunched the seeds.
If it were exactly like the game, the movements of my mouth shouldn’t be limited, but now that it has become reality, some elements of it must have seeped into the backlash. My movements were dull.
Even with that, I tried to look up at the face of Ringo again as the bare minimum show of resistance, but…
This time around, my vision was covered by something soft.
It took me a second to realize that it was Ringo hugging me into her chest.
(T-This is…!) (Souma)
The soft sensation and her warmth was making me flustered and…
“…I was really worried.” (Ringo)
That small voice came down from above.
Even if I am sorry here, I couldn’t say anything with my mouth covered.
I increase the chewing speed as if scolding my dulled mouth.
“…Don’t hurry…is what I told you…” (Ringo)
Even without my mouth covered, I wouldn’t be able to say anything back to her about that.
I do think I have worried her greatly here.
Now that I think about it, Ringo would always pull my cheeks to bring me back to gear, tell jokes she is not used to saying, and would do a lot of other things for my sake.
And yet, I still grew impatient against the Butcher, got reckless, and I might have died if not for Ringo’s intervention.
There’s no way I could say anything to her here.
“…I told you…we are here…” (Ringo)
Those words too…I heard them but didn’t listen.
It is only now that I understand the meaning of those words.
At that time, I thought Ringo’s encouragement here meant ‘you have to pull yourself together now that things are like this’ or ‘we are still here, so you have to do your best’.
But what Ringo wanted to transmit here was something simpler than that.
‘If you find it hard, please rely more on us’, is what Ringo said.
“…I’m sorry.” (Souma)
That’s when I finally finished chewing the seeds that were in my mouth and apologized honestly.
My raspy voice must have reached the ears of Ringo, but…
“…No, I won’t forgive you.” (Ringo)
Ringo shot down my heartfelt apology.
The arms of Ringo that had been wrapped around my head increased in strength as if they were admonishing me.
I couldn’t do anything with my movements sealed, and I was on the verge of suffocating in Ringo’s chest.
I asked her in a low volume.
“…Why are you hurrying so much?” (Ringo)
I found it hard to say.
That’s because it is a really selfish reason, and I had decided not to tell anyone.
But I also couldn’t stay silent towards Ringo who is breaking her heart this much for me.
“About Ina…” (Souma)
The moment I said that, Ringo’s body twitched as if scared.
I don’t know if she reacted to the name of Ina, however, I continued even when not knowing.
“I don’t want Ina to think it was her fault that people died when she recovers.” (Souma)
Ina hasn’t noticed anything right now, but that’s not something you can hide forever.
Even if we defeat the Demon Lord without issues, if Ina were to learn that someone died because of her, she would feel responsible for it.
You can clearly tell that’s the case from seeing her reaction when the player dies from her train mode.
“She has also had it pretty hard until now. There’s no need to place any more burdens on her. That’s all there is to it…” (Souma)
It is selfish of me, but these are my honest feelings.
In the end, it seems my sense of justice isn’t so strong that I would risk my life for people I can’t see.
I caused the Demon Lord’s curse for the sake of Ina, and I am going to defeat the Demon Lord without anyone dying for the sake of Ina.
That’s what I have decided.
I tried to open up as much as possible here.
But Ringo didn’t answer at all to my words.
But even with that, even without saying anything, I could tell from the breathing of Ringo…
She is breathing heavily, and I could tell that she is trying to swallow some big emotions here.
The Incarnation of Fury’s effect completely wore off at that moment.
Freedom came back to my body and I slipped away from the chest of Ringo.
Once I separated from her, Ringo’s hand moved for a moment as if chasing after me, but she soon said…
Ringo moved away from me and hurriedly faced back.
I don’t really get it, but she probably doesn’t want me to see her current face.
I fanned my face at that time and cooled down my flushed face.
Thinking about it again, the difference of having 1/100th of your original agility is massive.
It feels as if my body is moving crazy fast here.
No, my state until now is what was strange, but it really does feel like that.
Ringo wasn’t facing away for too long.
By the time I turned back, she was holding a potion.
“Aah, right.” (Souma)
Now that I think about it, I completely forgot about recovering my HP after defeating the Butcher.
I still am wearing a number of light element rings, so I could recover if I use Bloody Stab, but since I have the chance here, I will take it.
I make sure to cleanse the bitter taste of the seed deep in my throat with the healing potion.
“Thanks, Ringo. I really am no good without you.” (Souma)
I tell her my feelings while disguising it as a joke.
“…That’s not true.” (Ringo)
But Ringo muttered this while facing down.
Her face hanging down looked as if it were apologetic and showed regret.
I can’t really tell what this reaction is.
(Ringo is rich in emotions and talkative today.) (Souma)
Seeing this really made me think.
Ringo has begun to show a variety of expressions compared to the first time I met her.
That change of hers should probably be called ‘growth’.
As if backing that analysis of mine, Ringo raised her head with a decisive look.
“…There’s something…I want to ask of you.” (Ringo)
“A request?” (Souma)
I should have known about the growth of Ringo, but I was a bit surprised by this.
Ringo would normally take a passive attitude towards me, so this is rare…no, it might be a first.
But my surprise was premature.
Ringo, for the first time…
“…Please teach me…about skills…” (Ringo)
Lowered her head at me.
I was stupefied for a while there, and then I finally noticed that Ringo was looking at me uneasy.
I must answer here.
I finally managed to realize the reality of this, but I don’t know how to react to this.
Ringo may not be able to use skills but she can use a long range attack in the form of Lightning Strike.
Because of how useful it is, I don’t think there will be many scenarios where other skills would work better.
Of course, there’s nothing to lose with learning it, but there’s no urgency in learning skills and spells.
Moreover, skills -especially when used without chaining- create big openings even if they are convenient.
That’s something I experienced personally just a few seconds ago.
I personally would prefer if Ringo stays supporting me from the back as always.
I feel bad about refusing the first request of Ringo, but for now, I will try to persuade her about this.
“You don’t need to go through such hassle. You are plenty good as you a—” (Souma)
“No…! It is not enough…as I am now.” (Ringo)
I was pushed back by the unexpected strong tone of Ringo.
“…Even today…I didn’t make it in time.” (Ringo)
I now understand why she suddenly began saying all this.
When I was fighting the Butcher just now, Ringo was bothered by the fact that she couldn’t run to where I was…that she couldn’t save me.
(No, that’s not all…) (Souma)
At the time when she discovered that she was losing in speed to Maki at the Underwater City, she was acting a bit strange.
Could it be that Ringo has been bothered by this the whole time since then?
Just like how I feel I am lacking in power before the battle against the Demon Lord…
(Speaking of which…) (Souma)
Ringo threw the Wakizashi when I was about to be killed by the Butcher.
I was wondering there why she didn’t use the Gouging Vajra that is both faster and more powerful, but that thought might have been wrong to begin with.
Gouging Vajra is an equipment skill.
A skill that anyone can use as long as you have the equipment with the ability.
However, that’s only if you know how to use skills.
Ringo didn’t know about skills and magic until she met me.
Ringo doesn’t know about the normal way of using skills that everyone in this world knows about.
(It is not that she didn’t use it, but that she couldn’t, huh.) (Souma)
Now that I think about it, the one who used Gouging Vajra wasn’t Ringo but the Bear.
I unconsciously assumed everyone in this world could use skills, so I didn’t think about it.
That’s when I realized one other thing.
Ringo doesn’t know how to use skills.
Because of Maki having come to this world and the bug that was created from this, she doesn’t have the knowledge and experience regarding skills that people should naturally have in this world.
However, turning that around, she can learn the way of using skills without any unnecessary knowledge hampering her.
(Ina couldn’t do it because her way of using skills until now had seeped too much into her already. But maybe…if it is Ringo…) (Souma)
Ringo might be able to learn it.
There’s the chance that, aside from me and Maki who have come from that world, Ringo might be the only other person who can use skills with Order.
Maybe she noticed that I was troubled by this, Ringo took a step towards me.
“…I will do anything…if it is for your sake, Souma.” (Ringo)
Ringo spoke the exact same words as before, but with weight that cannot even be compared from then, and…
“That’s why…for that…” (Ringo)
With a faintly trembling voice, she closed both of her eyes as if enduring surging fear, Ringo spoke…
“…I-I will also throw away my humanity!” (Ringo)
I couldn’t say anything at that resolve of hers for a while.
However, as those words seeped into my chest, I just couldn’t stay silent.
I slowly open my mouth as if carefully choosing my words.
“Thanks. But please let me say one thing.” (Souma)
I am happy for Ringo’s resolve.
But that’s why I couldn’t let her just say that without saying anything back.
Skill canceling isn’t a technique that you have to throw away your humanity to learn, you know?