— 4 —
Having smoothly obtained Shiranui, I was walking around in an ecstatic mood swinging it around when suddenly an important thought hit me, and I stopped.
“Wait a second, how exactly do I equip this thing?”
Since arriving in this world, I had been unable to open the menu. That not only applied to the system menu which contained the calling functionalities and the current time, but also to game menus like the status menu and save/load menus.
In Nekomimineko, equipment was managed in an equipment menu, and it was from that menu where one could change the equipment of their character.
Due to that, it was impossible to forcibly remove another person’s equipment, and while holding a weapon that’s not equipped, it was not possible to use the weapon’s skills, and even if you hit something with it the effects from the weapon did not apply so there was not much point in it.
This was because, for some reason or another, this game’s NPCs were set to even include their private parts.
If it was possible to forcibly remove equipment, then undoubtedly there will be some perverted person who would think of trying to strip female NPCs, but this game was supposed to be rated PG so it would be a problem if that was possible…
Oh, and, even for your own character, if you have nothing equipped then it was set to show you in your underwear, so it was not possible to become fully naked.
In this case, does that mean even if I managed to obtain Shiranui, I couldn’t actually use it to its full potential…?
“…But wait a moment. Does that mean this ring also has no effect?”
I had intended to equip it by wearing it on my finger, but as long as the game’s rules were being followed, this shouldn’t count as actually having it equipped.
“But then again, the ring is only supposed to change size to fit your finger when you equip it. So does that mean I was able to properly equip it?”
I suddenly felt very confused.
“Guess I’ll give it a quick test.”
Walking through random back alleys, I searched for a secluded, yet decently spacious location.
“…This looks good.”
In the space between the houses, there was an area big enough that one could easily play catch.
At the far edge of the space, there was a bunch of flowers growing in an area sectioned off with rocks, and the words “flower garden” written with shaky letters brought a faint smile to my face.
(I should be careful not to step on those flowers.)
Thinking that, I readied my sword – not Shiranui, but rather the beginner weapon Rusty Longsword. Then…
I won’t make the same mistake twice. If I were to say the skill’s name out loud, then it would be hard to make excuses if I get seen comboing skills. That’s why I merely ordered skills in my mind.
A sudden acceleration from rest.
During that brief yet deeply familiar feeling of surpassing the laws of physics, I clenched my teeth.
Then, at the split second when my two feet touched ground,
Not missing the timing, I activated Slash. Pondering for a bit, I decided to wait for the swing,
and once again, activated Step.
Of course, I succeeded.
During the previous battle, I didn’t have the leisure to do so, but right now I was at least able to check on the condition of my body. I can still go on.
Again, I cancelled into Slash at the end of the skill.
Up to now was the combo that I used to defeat the female bandit. At that time, before I had worn the ring, I was completely out of breath and could not continue the chain, but…
(I can, still do this! Step!)
From there, I took another step.
The Slash cancelled into a Step.
My vision blurred.
A slight pain hit my chest. This was the warning that my stamina was about to run out.
But even then, it wasn’t as bad as the pain from last time.
The pain in my chest was making it hard to focus, but the timing had already become something like a reflex.
Just like the tens of thousands of times I had practiced in the game, I cancelled Step, and followed up with a slash.
At last, I reached my limit.
As my sword swing finished and the after-cast stun ended, I exhaled a deep breath and collapsed onto the ground.
“Haa, haa…, huuu, haaaaa.”
Controlling my breathing with deep breaths, I reflected on the situation.
Without a doubt, the number of times I was able to chain skills had increased. As a skill’s mastery increases the amount of stamina it consumes would decrease, but this couldn’t be explained with just that.
(The ring’s effect is working!)
Now that I know this, it was obvious what the next thing to test was.
Almost stumbling, I got up. Taking out Shiranui from the bag, in its place I put the Rusty Longsword. Equipping Shiranui, I,
Ordered a skill. When I did so, my body automatically moved, raising Shiranui, and–swung it downwards!
I thought I even heard a sharp sound of something slicing through the air.
As expected from a high level weapon. Even though it’s the exact same skill, the power was incomparable.
“…the skill, worked.”
I was able to use a skill while holding Shiranui. This meant that it was possible to equip a weapon even without the menu.
“Could it be, because menus couldn’t be used due to the game world becoming reality, this was replaced with a more realistic method?”
It was just a sudden thought, but I felt like it wasn’t such a bad hypothesis.
At the same time, I felt something nagging at the back of my mind, but wasn’t quite able to put my finger on it.
“Oh well, whatever.”
I was honestly relieved that it was possible to freely change equipment. Now that my immediate concerns were addressed, and since this seemed like just the perfect place, I decided to try out a few more things.
“Guess I’ll give that a try.”
The act of skill cancelling was to cast a different skill while one skill was still active, but that didn’t mean this could be done whenever. It was only during cancel points, which were preset timing windows that differed for each skill, where the new command would be accepted.
Especially in Nekomimineko, the difficulty of skill cancelling was said to be very high due to the overall strict timings, but there was actually more than that.
The vast majority of Nekomimineko’s skills had two or more cancel points set, and cancelling at the first cancel point was called a short cancel, while cancelling at later cancel points was called a long cancel.
I had only used the simpler long cancel until now. If I was able to short cancel as well, in return for a higher difficulty there were lots of interesting things that could be done.
I confirmed that there was plenty of space ahead of me free of obstacles.
The effect of long cancelling Step and Slash was essentially that the after-cast stun could be avoided, but when those two skills were short cancelled, a completely different effect occurs.
The skill Step sends you flying towards the indicated direction at a high speed, gradually slowing down while in the air, and then landing. The second cancel point was right when you touch ground, but the first cancel point was at the moment when you start decelerating from the maximum speed.
Therefore, short cancelling means that only half the total distance is covered, but as a result it was possible to cut out the slow moving second half.
On the other hand, Slash’s short cancel was even more extreme.
The second cancel point of Slash was when the sword’s swing finishes, but the first cancel point was surprisingly right after you start swinging the sword, before the attack is even performed!
You might think that this would make casting the skill pointless, but there was actually one way to exploit this.
Being able to almost instantly cancel the skill meant that it could be chained into the next skill almost instantly. In other words, by squeezing in a short cancelled Slash, the same skill could be used twice in quick succession!
Combining the short cancels of Step and Slash, it was possible to move at phenomenal speeds.
It was at a level where right after a video using this appeared on the internet, most of the people who saw it immediately muttered “Wow, another bug…”
However, when it was proved not to be a bug but rather a proper technique, words of surprise and admiration filled the comments.
After that, the players who watched the videos all tried to learn those movements.
But, like I mentioned before, the difficulty of short cancel was high, even more so when, right after cancelling from Step into Slash, one has to almost immediately cancel from Slash back to Step. Miss the timing by even a fraction of a second and the skill would not activate.
Many players gave up trying to learn the strict timings, labelling this short cancelling of Step and Slash as an advanced technique of Nekomimineko.
Putting together the super rapid chaining of cancels with the remarkably high movement speed when successfully executed, this technique became known as the rapid cancel dash.
Through a long, long time spent practicing (AKA playing the game all day), I was able to make this rapid cancel dash my own.
It was the fastest method of moving in the early game, and as an added benefit it was possible to chain into another skill at any time. If this technique could be used even in this world, then it would probably be of great use to me going forward.
(I haven’t been using it much recently after learning other convenient skills, but my body should still remember the timing!)
It was a combo that boasted having one of the highest difficulties, but I trusted that I would be able to pull this off.
Now was the time to show off what I’ve gained from spending my bland university life on Nekomimineko!
I confirmed that my stamina had completely recovered.
Readying my sword… I took off!
The feeling of speed enveloped my body, but there was no time to immerse in that.
One after another, I quickly alternated between the orders.
(SlashStep… SlashStep… Slash!!)
My body moved forward with an exceptional speed, as I let just the final Slash continue through without cancelling…
I heard the wind rushing past my ears.
Next I knew, I was stopped on the opposite side of the open space with my sword at full swing.
(…I did it!)
Overwhelmed with excitement, not even caring about my ragged breathing, I tightly clenched my fist, and… noticed.
On one of the small paths in the gap between two houses, there was a small figure watching me with a dumbfounded expression.
It was a young girl, probably from one of the nearby houses.
From the watering can she held in her hand, she was probably the owner of the small flower garden.
The blood drained from my face.
Could she have seen what I was doing?
At the pinnacle of skill cancelling, the speed of the rapid cancel dash was leagues ahead of that of any normal skill. Even if it was a child who saw me, or rather, because it was a child with no preconceptions that saw me, it was possible that my secrets could be discovered.
There would be a big problem if a rumor started to spread in the town. Should I silence her? But wait, she’s just a kid, so maybe I should just come up with some fitting excuse…
However, before my jumbled thoughts could reach a decision, the girl opened her mouth.
“Mister, your movements are like, kinda gross.”
Giggling to herself, the girl walked away, leaving me frozen in place.
I watched her leave with a blank expression on my face. It wasn’t until quite a while after she vanished from sight that I managed to mutter a sore reply.
“W-What do you mean, gross. I hope you’re properly watering those flowers…”
–Thus, Souma Sagara faced his first defeat after arriving in the game world.