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“I had a faint feeling that would be the case, but I really praised you for nothing.”
“…Hn, that’s not…true.”
After moving away from the tower, we headed to the ruins of the Sky City, and I heard the voices of my comrades from behind.
When I glanced back, there was Mitsuki, who seemed somewhat tired, and Ringo talking to each other.
“…He said…he wouldn’t use bug techniques. One step…forward.” (Ringo)
“How to say this…that sounds like an endless path.” (Mitsuki)
Ringo tightened her small fists just like before at the words of Mitsuki.
“…The path of enlightenment…is one step at a time!” (Ringo)
“Aah, so that’s what it meant. It is pretty deep…might even be tragic.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki responded as if impressed and as if baffled. Ringo tilted her head.
“…No, it is fine to not understand.” (Mitsuki)
“…Hn. I will do my best…little by little.” (Ringo)
“But if you take too much time, he will return to his wo—ah.” (Mitsuki)
Remembering what happened before, she must have thought she messed up here, her cat ears jumped, and she closed her mouth as if feeling awkward.
But there was no change with Ringo.
She said this with a face that had no hesitation.
Mitsuki was so surprised her cat ears stood upright. Ringo looked up happily at her…
“…He…promised…after all.” (Ringo)
That clear gaze of hers was directed at me for an instant…I think.
I somewhat couldn’t stay put and went ahead to the ruins.
“Hmm, it is probably around here…” (Souma)
The switch to activate the shortcut is in the Sky City, but if it is just entering, we don’t have to head to the Sky City.
Even though half of it is buried in sand, I somehow managed to find the part that seems like an automatic door and investigate the surroundings.
“…This, huh.” (Souma)
What was there was a light switch of familiar color.
I bask that switch that’s half buried in sand with light magic.
When I did, the mechanism reacted soon after, and the door by the side opened.
I pumped my fist, but here’s where the real deal comes.
“First, I will give you this.” (Souma)
I gave each of my comrades one magic gem.
“What’s this?” (Ina)
I explained to Ina who tilted her head.
“This is an Angel Fall Gem which is a higher tier Feather Fall spell.” (Souma)
The name technically implies falling from heaven, is that okay? -is what you would think, but everything is okay aside from the naming sense of the Nekomimi Neko staff.
Feather Fall is a spell that lowers the falling speed and fall damage for a set period of time, however, Angel Fall keeps the fall speed but completely negates the fall damage.
The difficulty to obtain it is proportionally high because of this, but it was within the pick-up items of the item store.
“I am planning on having everyone use a device that will allow you to directly go to the depths of the Sky City. But there’s the need to use this gem.” (Souma)
“Ah, I see! If something were to happen and we were to fall, it would be terrible after all!” (Ina)
Ina nodded, convinced after listening to me.
Well, it is normal for you to think that.
I also wanted to think like that, but…
“No, it is not that. The other names for this shortcut are ‘Heaven’s Door’ and ‘Angel Ladder’.
That’s not simply because we are heading above the skies to the Sky City.” (Souma)
“Could it possibly be…” (Maki)
I reluctantly nodded at Maki who seemed to have noticed something bad here.
“Yeah, in the times when you use this shortcut, you have to take countermeasures when getting down and even when going up. It really is the steps to heaven in the literal meaning.” (Souma)
The other dungeons of Nekomimi Neko aside from the Sky City also have a number of first-timer killer traps.
That goes the same for the monsters that are more nasty than vicious. The robot boss with fearsome capabilities being in the same ballpark.
However, the biggest trap in this Sky City is the escape device.
No, not only the escape device, but the transportation device in the form of that soap bubble that served as the biggest ally of the player is the biggest trap of the Sky City.
“As I said in the story before, my HP must have been a lot lower than I imagined.
I thought that was because I was tired from the many battles and wasn’t keeping tabs on my HP, but that wasn’t it.” (Souma)
The soap bubble transportation device that is located in several locations of the Sky City, it is a soap bubble that lets you float your way to your next destination and there’s no fall damage…or so you would think.
However, that in itself is a trap.
It seems you are actually mid fall while inside that soap bubble, and the distance traveled becomes fall damage.
“In other words, the damage I couldn’t keep tabs of was the movement damage. Every time I used the transportation device, I was getting dealt fall damage unaware.” (Souma)
A nasty bug that takes advantage of your lenience that there’s no way there would be fall damage when you are visually floating so gently.
You get visibly affected even with the transportation devices that move you a short distance.
It goes without saying what would happen with the escape device that moves a distance worth the whole Sky City.
This is why the guide for the Sky City had written ‘it is absolutely necessary to have magic or items to deal with falls’.
Moreover, a number of ‘skills with movement’ like Infinite Mirage Prison can negate the accumulated fall damage, but you can’t use skills inside the soap bubble.
It is actually even safer to just jump down instead of using the escape device.
“But! That’s not the only nonsense!
You get hit with fall damage even when you are going up!” (Souma)
The calculation for fall damage is a black box, so I don’t know the particulars about it, but you are probably being dealt percent damage depending on the distance traveled in the middle of the fall. That’s the hypothesis of the Nekomimi Neko players.
That’s why, even when you unlock the direct transportation device to the Sky City, you will die instantly if you don’t prepare for it.
It makes so little sense, it makes you wonder just what is fall damage.
—The player’s HP is slowly chipped away inside the Sky City.
—After overcoming a harsh boss battle, you will reach your most desired escape device, but die suddenly.
—After making you think everything is over, you would use the shortcut without any idea, and you will once again die a fall death.
Like, seriously, you would have been able to detect such a bug if you test play it just once, right?
You guys definitely didn’t use this thing even once, right?
That’s how I complained for 1 whole hour at that time.
…But well, even though you can’t put monsters in this, there’s nothing as good as this to kill an NPC.
You would bring an annoying character here and you would literally have them experience ascension.
I have not done it before, but I have thought several times ‘aah, I want to bring this guy to the Sky City’…
“U-Uhm, then, we just have to use this just before we use the transportation device, right?”
Looks like the dark thoughts in my heart leaked out.
I nodded to Ina who seemed to have a stiff face.
“Yeah, there’s spare time in its duration, so there’s no issue to use it just before moving. However, just like I said before, the Sky City is dangerous in a variety of ways, so I will go alone first, gain total control of the inside, confirm the safety of the escape device—” (Souma)
Just when I was about to say that, Mitsuki and Ringo cut in.
“If it is dangerous, even more the reason to bring us with you.” (Mitsuki)
“…Hn. I will…go too.” (Ringo)
I was troubled by the claim of the two.
The enemies have quite the strength, and because of the forced stun and the aggro management, I think it would definitely be better to do this alone.
If it is just about my own safety, it would of course be better to have more people, but if someone were to die from a stray bullet and die, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night…
When I looked around, it wasn’t only Mitsuki and Ringo.
Maki, Sazan, and even Ina were also looking at me as if they won’t be backing off a single step.
It seems like it will be one hell of a job to convince them here.
“…Anyways, let’s talk after going in.” (Souma)
I was a bit overwhelmed by this and decided to delay the decision.
If it does come to it, it might be an option to go to the Sky City alone when I see the opportunity.
I was thinking that and took a step into the remnants of the Sky City.
I don’t know if to call this fortunate or not, but there were no enemies within sight.
No one should have entered even if left be for a long time, so I doubt no monsters have spawned.
There’s only one monster group spawning here, so it is most likely making its rounds at a different location.
“Listen here. Be careful from here on. No matter what happens, follow my instructions. Also, even with my instructions or not, when you are using the transportation device, always use a gem beforehand.” (Souma)
When I said this, everyone nodded.
Considering what happened before, it is not like I don’t feel a bit bad about this, but the enemies here are dangerous.
I can’t have casualties for something like that.
“We are heading there in one go. Over here.” (Souma)
It feels like a stealth mission.
I brought all my comrades and headed to the deep part of the scifi-like corridor.
That said, this place is a fallen part of the Sky City.
We arrived at our destination in just a few minutes.
“Fumu. The aforementioned transportation device is this one?” (Mitsuki)
Because the switch had not been flipped, there was a spherical machine on the ground without any light.
I am a novice, so I don’t know much about it, but there doesn’t seem to be any broken place anywhere in my eyes.
Everything has gone well until now.
“This may be obvious, but it doesn’t seem like the mechanism to move this isn’t anywhere around here.” (Ina)
You have to activate the switch in order to move this transportation device.
That switch is not here but in the depths of the actual Sky City.
—Now then, this is where the real deal begins.
I have to somehow manage to go alone to the Sky City.
I ignored Mitsuki, who seemed to want to ask me something, and speak.
“I am going to say this again. Please let me go alone this time around.” (Souma)
The eyes of my comrades turned dangerous when I said this.
I continue trying to convince them without faltering.
“It is in part because of the boss, but the enemies until now are far stronger, and they even have a lot of troublesome special abilities. They show up here as well, but those guys—” (Souma)
Just when I got to that part, my sharp ears twitched, and I detected the approach of something aside from us.
And then, the next instant…
…A really weird voice came, not from the corridor where the enemy was coming, but from my comrades. An incredible voice like that of a cat who was in front of the thing it likes the most, or a girl that has seen something cute.
“Mitsuki? Did you say something just now?” (Souma)
“No. More importantly, it is coming.” (Mitsuki)
It doesn’t click with me, but this is an opportunity.
“…I will go.” (Souma)
I stop Mitsuki and the others who readied their weapons and take a step forward.
“Listen here, the enemies that show up here are the same as the ones in the Sky City, and they all have special abilities.
The beams are fast, so they are hard to avoid. There’s even the possibility for Mitsuki to be force stunned despite having high resistance.
Sazan shouted in panic.
When I looked, a short and stout robot appeared from a corner a few meters away.
“That guy is…!” (Souma)
I don’t know if this guy showing up first is a jackpot or not.
I shouted this while running towards the robot that was brandishing its stun rod.
“Please don’t move from there until I come back! I will go to the Sky City at once!
Even if the switch is flipped, don’t forget to use the gem before moving!” (Souma)
I said this roughly and made it to where the robot is.
—I can do this, right?
I asked myself this.
My attack power and speed has increased compared to the game days, but my endurance has clearly gone down.
Even if the enemy is small fry, they have stats that are comparable to that of the last dungeon.
It is by no means an enemy I can take lightly.
Because I haven’t been to the Sky City for a long while, I only have a hazy memory of the attack motions of this enemy.
Do I have the power to face this guy as I am now?
“Intruder detected! Intruder detected!”
But the enemy didn’t wait for me to reach a decision.
It swung down its stun rod while letting out an ear piercing voice.
I was about to reflexively take that attack with Shiranui, but pulled my hand back in a hurry.
I barely managed to avoid it thanks to my 3x speed.
—That was close.
I almost forgot about the special ability there and was about to put Shiranui up there.
Seeing the robot readying its stun rod for a follow up attack, I immediately do a backstep.
I take a tiny bit of distance.
I shouldn’t fight as usual.
I can’t block the attack with Shiranui even if I think it is dangerous, and if I get too far away, it might shoot a long range attack.
I could avoid it, but if I do, it might hit a comrade of mine in the back.
“This is pretty rough.” (Souma)
If it had been in a game where there’s no threat of death, I wouldn’t have found such handicaps as painful at all.
But even in such a small battle like this one…no, it is precisely because it is a battle like this one where I have leeway to think that I end up getting even more pressured.
“Even so…” (Souma)
I will do this!
I have to show them I can!
That’s my pride as a Nekomimi Neko player!
“Hostile action, confirmed. Entering elimination sequence.”
“Just what I wanted! Try if you can!” (Souma)
I charged onto the robot holding a stun rod while making that energetic shout.
A few seconds after.
I continued parrying the stun rod held in both hands of the robot, and the light sword held by the hidden hand that extended from its back, with my 3x speed.
—It is okay. I am slowly getting used to it.
3x speed really is a big advantage.
Even when I act late, I still make it, and that also leads to more composure in my heart.
It is extremely hard to Cancel the Side Slash, but I should be able to manage somehow like this…
…I shouldn’t have lowered my guard like that.
Just when I jumped back, my leg got caught in a small hole, and I lost my balance.
It is like straight out of a comedy, but this is not the time to laugh.
I heard the voice of Ringo from behind, but I am blocking the trajectory of any ranged attacks.
It would be impossible for her to assist me with her Lightning Strike.
And then, the stun rod was mercilessly swung down.
I won’t be able to escape unscathed if that hits.
I forcefully get back up and activate Step.
My body moved to the side even with that bad posture, and I stopped after crashing onto the wall.
The stun rod passed by with a paper-thin difference as if it licked my body.
I look deep at the corridor with that call.
Sazan and Ringo were running here to help me.
“Y-You idiots. What are you—” (Souma)
No, leaving aside Ringo, what is Sazan planning on doing by stepping forward when she is a mage?
That one second when my attention was deviated…
“Elimination sequence. Last process.”
The words announcing the worst came from the back, but this voice that must not have rang at all cost echoed.
—This is bad!
It was already too late when I thought about this.
“You two, run aw—!” (Souma)
Faster than I could finish…
That robot that had surpassed the critical point released way too dazzling light.
That light swallowed not only me but Ringo and Sazan who were heading my way.
“…Haah, so it really ended up like this, huh.”
—The next instant, we 3 were standing in front of a giant monolith.
“Wa…eh? W-Where is this place?! What about the robot just now?” (Sazan)
Sazan was confused by the sudden change to an unknown location.
Ringo must have been more worried about my safety than the abrupt situation around, she ran to me and touched my body here and there.
“That’s why I told you not to move.” (Souma)
This wasn’t my intention, but it can’t be helped.
Sazan approached me while I was sighing.
“O-Oi, Souma! Just what has happened he—” (Sazan)
“It is a special ability of that guy. You get flashed back to the starting point.” (Souma)
“Hah? Starting point? Does that mean…” (Sazan)
Isn’t that obvious?
It seems Sazan still didn’t understand the situation, so I said what I had to say.
“Welcome to the Sky City.” (Souma)