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A s h e s Note: I’ve come to an agreement with Liz regarding the editing of the chapters. They will be edited and ran by her – not to be released until they satisfy her. I apologize in advance if the process takes longer.
“N-no matter what you say, i-it’s my skill.”
Firing my sub-machine gun really made Mitche exited. She asked me a lot of questions, including about the non-disclosure condition; about how my armors and weapons work; about how my flashlight emitted light similar to Frau’s orb of light despite not being a magical item. Her cat-like curiosity totally surpassed the self-control and self-awareness of what I expected of a B-Rank Adventurer.
“Schwarz, I want to know too. I chided Mitche for prying too much earlier, but after seeing your skills, I also can’t let it go. It’s not out of simple curiosity or intellectual pursuit. To continue being your bodyguard during this exploration, I want to have an accurate understanding of your abilities. Besides, that was no ordinary skill. Do you know what ‘Skills’ are or what ‘abilities’ are?”
And here we had another B-rank adventurer who couldn’t restrain herself… No, more like she wanted more information so she could do her job properly. Frau was looking at the monsters’ corpses, but gave a sidelong glance to me and started asking questions.
“I don’t know exactly what they are, but it’s said that skills are active while abilities are passive, right?”
“Well, that’s the gist of it. Skills are activated at the owner’s will. While abilities are always active regardless. The skills you’ve displayed are far superior to those we know.”
“So, what are they, nya?”
“Either bloodline skills, or something fundamentally different.”
Giving up, I was thinking about just declaring them bloodline skills, but I had also hinted that they were something different. Bloodline skills had a nice ring and could mislead people – but I wasn’t sure how long that excuse would last.
“It’s a bloodline skill called ‘Arms’. It’s both an ability and a skill. Please don’t reveal this.”
“Ah, you talked about it so readily, unlike what I expected. I definitely won’t reveal this. Mitche, you too.”
“Of course not, nya. Make the General Guild keep an eye on you and you’re good as dead, nya.”
“Can you explain a bit more to me about it? Especially that magic-like thing you used to kill the goblins and how you tracked them?”
I was worried about how to explain it for a moment, but I’d been expecting this day (TN: the day sb confronted him about his “abilities”). I had been rehearsing the story of the bloodline skill Arms every night before bed. I used expressions of fantasy worlds to describe the functions of my VMB system: The summoning ability that makes objects appear, similar to conjuration; the ability to change the surroundings and the ability to increase strength etc… I concealed the truth that way.
The two were more or less content with my explanation. So we discussed which role each of us would take, as well as how we’d work together during battles – thus resuming the exploration. Things went on smoothly afterward with no more needless chatter. I was in charge of scouting and preemptive strikes. If the enemy surrounded us, Mitche and Frau would each take care of one side.
Mitche used a small shield and short-sword. Fast attacks were her strong point. Frau was a magician, water and wind magic as her forte.
And I personally witnessed a magic battle for the first time.
Normally, magic is invoked by chanting magically charged words. However, once you became a skilled magician, you could directly tap into the power of your specialized magic attributes by calling their names. Just reciting these names could materialize their power. Magic invoked this way was less refined than magic invoked through chanting in terms of scope, strength and behavior. On the other hand, you could activate the magic with just a mental image you yourself constructed. Each method had its own pros and cons. Magic’s degree of freedom was actually higher than you could imagine.
“There’s a big room ahead, with multiple enemies inside.”
Actually, there were 12 supposedly-hostile humanoids in the room – I could hear their voices and the sounds of their movements. But I wanted to hide how accurate my knowledge was, so I simply said that to them.
“What now, nya?”
“I’ll launch a wide-range magical attack. Schwarz and Mitche, you two follow up after me.”
“Understood. After your attack, I’ll strike from the room’s entrance. Mitche, please watch the rear.”
“Got it, nya.”
The large rooms inside the Labyrinth were rectangular and not just simply large. They seemed to span the whole width of the passage. 12 goblins took up positions at the room’s entrance with 3 more in the room center. Those 3 had bigger bodies than the other goblins though. “Goblin fighters, nya.” Mitche said.
The large goblin fighters howled and 9 of the surrounding goblins charged towards us. At that moment, Frau chanted her attack.
“～～～～,～～～,～～～～, Storm Dance Cyclone!”
With Frau’s chanting, a huge tornado appeared between the goblins and us – moving in their direction. The tornado blew them away while the wind cut at them and their blood swirled into the colorless storm as if dancing. A red storm swept through the large room.
The storm gave the goblins minor injuries, so I knelt down by the room’s entrance and began firing at them. The goblin fighters’ club-holding hands were blown away as they had crossed their arms across their face to shield themselves from the storm. I shot them in their abdomens and knees. For the one with uncovered faces, I gave them some holes in the head.
Between the storm and my barrage, the goblins were immobilized. After making sure that I was attacking, Mitche ran out and went head hunting. When we were finished, the goblins became nothing but a pile of corpses.
“Let’s rest for 30 minutes here, then return to camp.”
“Well. It’s already time to return. You don’t need to do any mapping?”
“I can’t go into details, but it’s not a problem. The mapping is going well.”
It’d been only a few hours, but I could more or less draw up a map of the labyrinth’s complex inner structure already. The full picture was still unclear, but at this rate, we’d probably reach the 2nd level staircase within the next few days. Hearing my reply, Frau gave me a suspicious look.
“I’m hungry nya~”
From a cloth-wrapped pack that was in her equipment bag, Mitch took out something like a bread roll filled with grilled fish and started to stuff her mouth with it. Seemed like a fried fish sandwich… I then took some jerky from my bag and chewed on it. I wanted to eat something better too, but I couldn’t cook. This was a fatal fault for an adventurer, but I had no choice. I could only bear with it.
Frau took a flask from her bag and poured it into a glass. It was steaming.
“Does time stop inside your bag?”
“Not completely. It’s only slowed down. Inside, the black tea made in the morning will still be hot at night.”
“Is that so? So convenient! I’m jealous. My bag is not useful at all.”
I was able to get something to use in place of the Gift-box, it surely wasn’t a match for a Traveler’s Bag. Besides, if I just shamelessly summoned everything I wanted, even down to a measly Gift Box, then what would people say about me?
“So, you should form a party, Schwarz. If it’s you, then anyone will do.”
“But it’ll be difficult for a Manuke. It’s impossible for others to take my skills into consideration, even if I can tell them everything from A to Z. Besides, going solo is a lot more flexible and convenient.”
Parties and teams could probably go on exploring more efficiently, but I needed to consume a large quantity of non-attributed mana stones for VMB’s System. VMB’s power aside, I could already see myself clashing with others over the reward distribution and battle method.
Besides, I didn’t want others to know about my so-called resilience. A.k.a, my non-exhaustive regenerative ability. Humans tend to fear what they don’t understand. I was also worried about being treated like some lab rat. I couldn’t think of anything good coming from that ability being discovered.
“Let’s get back then. Just aim for the surface.”
I took the lead so they couldn’t sense my fear.