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“…Haah, finally here.” (Souma)
I sighed in front of the giant monolith.
The place I am in is the entrance to the Sky City that’s called the sky dungeon.
My comrades are obviously not here.
There’s a reason aside from me being a solo player.
First is that it is impossible for me to come here with the method I used if I am not alone.
The Spectral Tower has 1,000 floors.
It is like a Pandora Box.
It is said that the patterns of the maps are less than what’s shown, but there’s a variety of random gimmicks.
There’s missions and gold and silver treasure chests set if you achieve the conditions, there’s also some where you need to defeat a number of small fry in order for the boss that protects the stairs to the next floor to show up, there are bonus stairs that let you skip several floors, also traps with a lot of personality are set; a mix of many game elements are stuffed in this place, so you could say it is fun in its own way, but there’s a problem with that too…
The item table for the treasure chests over floor 800 for some reason will become that of the 1st floor; you can get transformed into a pig because of a trap and won’t be able to pick up the key anymore, so if you get the pig trap RNG, there’s the possibility of getting locked; if a floor where the boss shows up overlaps with a bonus floor where enemies turn into items, you can’t defeat the small fry, so the boss won’t come out ever and you won’t be able to progress; If you enter a 5 floor bonus stair in floors like floor 299 and floor 699, you could end up returning to floor 204 or floor 604; if you fulfill the conditions for a gold chest to show up before a silver chest, you won’t ever be able to get the contents of the silver treasure chest…anyways, a lot of bugs.
Of course, there’s no way I would go and clear that normally.
That’s where the ultimate technique that the Nekomimi Neko players created comes into play: the Cartwheel Method.
If progressing from the inside of the tower is a pain, why not climb it from the outside? -is the idea behind it. Putting it simply, you would climb from the outer walls of the tower, and when you reach the highest floor, you use Infinite Mirage Prison to wall jump and enter.
But even if it is easier than progressing from the inside, climbing a tower 1,000 floors tall (there’s information that, judging from the outside, the height isn’t worth 1,000 floors, but it isn’t certain) it would still be pretty hard.
Even if it is a game body that doesn’t get tired, it still takes several hours. And in the middle of it, I ended up looking down and my legs trembled.
Also, there’s the possibility that you will get warped outside the tower when you are using the Infinite Mirage Prison at the top floor, and end up falling without any means to stop it, so it is pretty rough.
Or maybe if I were to jump from the outer walls of the tower straight to the Sky City -is what I thought, but the Sky City is unfortunately even higher than the topmost floor, hidden inside the clouds.
There’s no point in pointlessly being obstinate here.
I obediently used Infinite Mirage Prison to enter the tower.
And then, when I touched the mysterious floating object in the last floor of the tower, my body was suddenly wrapped in a white film like a soap bubble, slipping through the walls with the bubble and my whole body with it. By the time I noticed, I had already arrived in the Sky City.
“Or more like, this is that, isn’t it?” (Souma)
I once again looked at that room and spoke to myself.
Meters and gauges that had weird letters written on them.
At the surface of the metallic wall, there’s pointlessly sparkly strings of light of many colors.
And the most decisive thing is what’s at the corner of the room. A door with a modern design that I can only think of as an automatic door.
This is totally more sci-fi than fantasy.
“A futuristic city. No, this is more like…” (Souma)
I remember the panoramic view I got of the Sky City for a brief instant when I was in the soap bubble.
Maybe because it is old, there were places that were missing, but I managed to see the whole picture pretty decently.
If I were to describe this place in an easy way with that information in mind, this is not a city, but more like…
“A space battleship…right?” (Souma)
It seems like the Nekomimi Neko staff has completely thrown away the unity of the world setting here.
…Well, this is a place where enemies on the level of the last dungeon show up. Basically an extra dungeon.
Now that I think about it, terms like spacecraft and space battleship shouldn’t be in the vocabulary of the residents in this fantasy world.
In that sense, you could say that this place being called a Sky City is loyal to its world setting.
Well, I am more of an efficiency buff and not much of a lore buff.
So I decided to enjoy clearing it without thinking too deeply about it.
I try my best not to check the walkthrough of a place I have not been to before aside from checking if there’s a fatal bug.
Information of places where I frequent enter my ears even when I am not conscious of it, but maybe because not many have reached this Sky City, there wasn’t much information about it.
Even when I put all the information I have together, the only thing I know is this:
-There’s no fatal bug (where you would get hard stuck if you save or the save data or machine breaks).
-The level of the enemies in the Sky City is high, and there’s even a boss that’s said to be the strongest in close quarter combat before the last floor.
-There’s an energy core inside the boss room, and you can reduce the functionalities of the Sky City by flipping that switch. The small fry will also disappear.
-Once you activate the energy core, the escape mechanism can be used, and by switching that on, you will be able to move freely from the surface to the Sky City and vice-versa.
-You definitely need items or spells to counteract falls.
Basically, this means that the enemies here are strong, but it is a decently proper dungeon. If you somehow manage to flip the energy core of the boss, you can manage somehow after that. That’s my opinion.
Also, there’s a reason why I didn’t bring anyone here.
Leaving aside Hisame who might still be stronger than me even now, I would just have the others die pointlessly if I bring them with me.
I have the confidence of dealing with a certain degree of danger if I am alone.
That said, the world of Nekomimi Neko is one where you can easily die if you get overconfident.
I won’t get excessively tense, but I will by no means lower my guard.
“Alright, let’s go!” (Souma)
I encourage myself by saying this and stand in front of the automatic door while prepared for anything that might happen.
The door didn’t open.
After around 15 minutes of turning my gears intensely, I discovered that you have to hit the gray color glass at the side of the door with light element magic to activate it and finally open the door.
No, let me explain here. I did think that might be the case at first so I used the light element spell, Light Bullet, but that isn’t actually light element, so it took me this much time.
You might be wondering what kind of nonsense I am saying here, but Light Bullet is actually a light spell that has fire element…it really doesn’t make sense.
Could this game possibly be trash?
But thanks to that, I somewhat understand how this dungeon works.
It seems like you have to hit the gray switches with light magic to move the gimmicks and advance.
It does serve as switches for the automatic doors, but most were like the one in the last floor of the tower that brings out a soap bubble to move.
If you light up the fire of the switch at the side of the sphere with light magic, the sphere floats, and when you touch that sphere, a soap bubble is created and brings me somewhere -is how this works.
When I am enveloped by the soap bubble, I am brought somewhere regardless of gravity, walls, and ceiling, but this was incredibly problematic.
Because you can see the view from the outside when inside the soap bubble, it would sometimes float outside the city and the outrageous altitude made my legs tremble. But that’s not all.
There’s no way no problems would happen in Nekomimi Neko.
I am fine with being brought back to a place I had gone to a long while ago.
The worst part was that there would be times when I would be brought to complete dead-ends with nowhere to progress. Places that would make you scream ‘you definitely forgot to set a path here’.
It couldn’t be helped, so I used the wall jumping of Infinite Mirage Prison, and had no choice but to test out my luck by blindly popping up on the other side.
At that time, I fortunately managed to return to a different corridor, but there’s the possibility that I would have ended up outside the city with one wrong step, so I can’t just use wall jump as I please.
It has a scale that doesn’t bring shame to its name of ‘city’, and because there’s what’s technically warping devices on top and is a 3d map, it is hard to map it out.
Clearing this was more difficult than I imagined.
And the ones that gave a really nasty color to this long exploration were the enemies filled with peculiarities.
Robots that completely forgo the world building until now.
Some would have sketchy laser guns that shoot stunning beams that ignore resistance.
The next attack comes right after it wears off, so I couldn’t move at all.
Some enemies would shoot mysterious beams that were deliberately aimed at my weapon or armor instead of me.
When I hurriedly inspected myself, the durability of my gear had gone down close to half.
Other enemies would shine after a certain amount of time passes in battle, and I would be back to the starting point by the time I noticed. My 4 hour exploration had turned into bubbles and scattered.
A certain enemy would transform the moment it sees me, and if I were to attack it in the middle of that transformation, it would transform again, and while it did that, I would finish it off and it would die in the middle of transforming.
What in the world did it want to accomplish there?
Some enemies would make a sound like that of scratching a blackboard the moment it enters battle mode, attacking the player directly instead of the character.
Isn’t that just weird as a game?
Those kinds of annoying monsters were coming endlessly in the middle of the long dungeon exploration.
Even if you don’t want to fight them, the corridors of the Sky City are too narrow to avoid battle. I can’t ignore the enemies that decrease the durability of my equipment, or the ones that force warp you.
Even if I have leeway in HP and MP, it shaves away at my mental strength.
And the reality of the world is that mental issues will spread to the physical side too.
I was attacked by an army of robots after I lowered my guard in a long journey through the soap bubble, and just when I managed to fight them all off…
“Ah, my HP…” (Souma)
I self-diagnosed myself to having more than half of my HP remaining, but I am now in a critical state.
It is incredibly bad to not have a grasp of my own state in these kinds of situations because of how engrossed I get.
I was shocked that I had been cornered to this degree without me noticing.
The exploration was painful, but that wasn’t all it was.
I am a gamer to the core to begin with.
Sci-fi gimmicks felt fresh for me who has been stuck playing Nekomimi Neko for long, so I ended up getting stuck with just a single automatic door, and I enjoyed wasting several hours in the monitor room that can observe the whole lower bounds.
I got a weapon called a Light Sword on the way and it was literally that. I waved it around pointlessly and even laughed while at it.
But that smile only lasted until the despair.
“Don’t joke around! How are you telling me to defeat that?!” (Souma)
I was scared at that thum thum sound coming from the back as I desperately ran through the corridors.
“Invisible when moving? That’s definitely cheating!” (Souma)
I said this as I looked back once again.
…It is there!
When the player is far away, that guy is half-transparent, and it is as if it were wrapped in that soap bubble the whole time.
It moves slowly, but it is impossible to shake that guy off when it is always moving through the shortest route.
“It should be close. Really close!” (Souma)
My only hope is the escape device.
I somehow managed to slip past the eyes of that guy -the boss of the Sky City- and activate the energy core.
Now, if only I could find the escape device…
“It must be that!” (Souma)
The door I couldn’t open no matter what at the lower bounds but had kept tabs on.
It opened after activating the energy core.
Inside of it, there was a familiar switch and a sphere that’s a moving device.
90% sure that’s the escape device.
I am saved with this -is what I thought and was briefly relieved, but that was a bad move.
A robot arm suddenly phased through the wall in front of me and flew right at me.
“No way…” (Souma)
A heroic form that you would see in justice rangers at holiday mornings.
A handsome humanoid machine that screams ‘protagonist robot’.
But that right now is the symbol of fear for me.
“DAMN IIIITTTTT!” (Souma)
The corridors of this Sky City are narrow.
Even so, this guy has not completely appeared in the corridor, so there’s still enough space.
“[Ste—no, charge!” (Souma)
I was about to use a skill by reflex, but stopped.
I bet on this do or die, and slip through the side of the boss raw.
The sword of the boss passed right on top of my head I had lowered by reflex.
I barely managed to get out of that one.
The transportation device and the switch appear in front of me.
“Make it…in timeeeeeee!!” (Souma)
I shoot a light spell towards the switch and stretch my hand towards the sphere that still hasn’t lighted up.
The sphere lit up at the same time as my hand touched it, and the soap bubble was made.
But that guy was already heading here by that time.
That guy had raised its only weapon, the sparkly sword, and was about to swing it down…
“—See ya, handsome. Let’s meet again.” (Souma)
But it didn’t have the time.
My body was carried away by the soap bubble, and it flew down at incredible speed.
“Hya, that was close.” (Souma)
I sighed in relief inside the soap bubble that was heading down to the surface.
I couldn’t win against the boss, but I at least had the bare minimum results.
I can go to the Sky City anytime now, and I can have my revenge match once I have become stronger.
“But what’s the logic that allows it to take shortcuts?” (Souma)
I tilted my head as I saw the soap bubble go through the clouds.
This transportation device is mostly a one-way ticket.
In order to return to the Sky City, you need to use a device similar to this one on the surface.
But there’s no other sci-fi-like place in this world aside from the Sky City and the Spectral Tower.
When my thoughts reached that far, something bothered me.
My thoughts were forcefully cut off.
The soap bubble approached the surface in an instant, and was steadily slowing down.
And then, I discover that this soap bubble’s destination is not simply the surface.
This soap bubble is heading to the side of this tower.
—At the ruins buried in the sand.
Now that I think back on it, it is a place that’s close to the tower but I have never stepped into it.
…Speaking of which, I heard about this a long time ago.
The story of strange ruins close to the Spectral Tower that have no treasures or devices that you can operate, and yet, there are awfully strong robots showing up.
It is a story from when it was still the dawn of Nekomimi Neko, at a time when it was the most chaotic, so I only thought of it as a map of a discarded event they must have left behind.
I didn’t have the time to think.
My body was descending to these ‘ruins’ at outstanding speed, phasing through sand and ceilings, and entering these ‘ruins’…
“The inside is…!” (Souma)
The familiar atmosphere inside the ruins, the weird metallic design walls, the narrow corridors; my doubts turned into certainty.
And so, at the same time I strained my eyes to earn more certainty, both of my feet had touched the ground, and…
“Right! I knew—fugeh!” (Souma)
I was crushed and died.
“…And that’s what happened.” (Souma)
I wrapped it up like this and finished talking about my game days.
“Aah, yeah. The usual.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki gave me a throwaway response.
I feel like her attitude towards me is steadily getting more crude.
“A-And so, why did this Souma-san from the game(?) suddenly die?” (Ina)
Ina said this as if mediating and I faced her as I answered.
“I will tell you when the time comes. Let’s move for now.” (Souma)
Saying this, I began moving.
Heading towards the Spectral Tower that pierces the heavens…45° from that place.
“Eh? U-Uhm, what about the tower? Aren’t you climbing the wall…?” (Ina)
Ina for some reason asked me this surprised, but I am the one that’s surprised by the question.
“No, what are you saying? I told you just now that I am not going to the tower, right?” (Souma)
“E-Eeeeeh?! B-But! Eeeh?!” (Ina)
Think about it logically -is what I thought, but it seems like she is confused due to a weird assumption.
I explain to Ina as if admonishing her.
“I just walked using the tower as a landmark. It would take several hours to climb the tower, you know?
In the first place, I would have to use the wall jumping bug at the end in order to enter the tower.
I told you I wouldn’t be using bugs this time around, right?” (Souma)
“Eh, no, wa…ueeeh?!” (Ina)
Ina flapped her mouth and couldn’t say anything.
It was Mitsuki instead who asked me while looking slightly tired.
“Then, the place we are heading to is…” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki’s eyes were directed at the ‘ruins’ at the front while saying this.
No, ‘the construction that looks like ruins’.
I gave a big nod and declared.
“We are heading to the one other ‘entrance’ of the Sky City. The terminal point of the escape device.
Popularly known as the Stairs to Heaven, it is a shortcut in the ‘ruins’…no, in the part of the Sky City that had dropped down.” (Souma)