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Once, I had encountered a person who seemed to hold a burning hatred for the leveling system inside RPGs.
“Hey, this might be a tactless question, but is there actually any fun in easily beating all the bosses after grinding lots of levels? Doesn’t the joy of a game come from honing your fighting style and optimizing your equipment to finally snatch victory after struggling to do all that? Why would you spend hours upon hours repetitively doing something that’s similar to manual labor, just to make the game more boring? I’m not trying to bash you, but, honestly, I just can’t understand it.”
Shut up, I like feeling super strong, so if you’re gonna say something like that then why don’t you go play a game without levels, was what I almost said. But, I once again discovered a group of people who thought that way.
–They were the developers of Nekomimineko.
If that’s the case why did you guys purposely create a level-based RPG! I’m not trying to bash you, but, honestly, I just can’t understand it!!
…Back on topic. In some fantasy simulation games (SLGs) or strategy role playing games (SRPGs), some strong force that obviously can’t be defeated while playing normally comes out and starts to massacre your team if you try to grind in the same place for too long.
It was meant to be some sort of message from the developers that you shouldn’t be hanging around here and to hurry up and move on.
However, unlike SLGs or SRPGs, the genre of RPGs mostly centered around leveling up, and some even accepted the act of grinding as a form of enjoyment, so such an opponent that was meant to hurry the player along wouldn’t normally appear.
But, Nekomimineko was an exception.
Decreeing mindlessly farming levels to be an unhealthy act, the reaper is sure to visit any player who tries to grind through the early game.
To be precise, if one tried to grind in the maps around Ramlich for an extended amount of time, then she will show up.
Following the Lizardmen’s Trap, the second assassin of Nekomimineko: Train Girl!
Hearing Train Girl’s name, perceptive individuals, as well as people with lots of experience playing MMORPGs should immediately catch on. “Ah, MPK, huh.”
MPK stands for Monster Player Kill, or alternatively, Monster Player Killer. It refers to the act of killing another player by dumping a large number of monsters onto them, or to a person who commits such an act, respectively. It’s also called a train because of the large number of mobs that are being dragged around. The NPC who performed MPK in Nekomimineko was thus appropriately named Train Girl.
Learning about this, most players had the following thoughts.
MPK sure sounds dangerous. I’m glad I learned about this in advance. But, if I make sure to only fight near town and quickly run away when someone like that shows up, I should be fine.
However, this train of thought was naïve. Frankly, it was way too naïve.
There was no way such a half-hearted way of thinking would be able to match the ill will of the Nekomimineko development staff.
To such laid-back people, there was a saying amongst players who had actually seen Train Girl.
…You can’t run from Train Girl!!
The dust storm gradually drew closer, and the outlines of a large group of monsters chasing a single girl became clear.
“Pleeaseeee, heeelppp meeeeeeeeeeee!!”
As the girl’s cry grew louder, I let out a huge sigh.
Train Girl’s event was said to be even worse than Lizardmen’s Trap, but the worst part about it was that the central character to the event did not have any bad intentions.
When running away from monsters, Train Girl seemed to possess cheat-level stats for speed and stamina as well as an evasive technique that made one wonder whether she has eyes on the back of her head. She can escape from any enemy, and is rarely caught and killed, with the few witness reports being linked to bugs.
Seeing this, one would think that she would be just fine even without any help.
However, the moment she meets someone who seems likely to help her, namely, a player, she loses that exceptional ability to escape.
Apparently her ability was something like an adrenaline rush, so the relief from seeing someone made all the strength drain from her body, making her unable to move anymore.
In other words, if a player was to abandon her and run away, she would undoubtedly be killed by monsters.
If she had been a character with evil intentions and purposely lured monsters to try to MPK the player, it would probably be easy to just leave her behind.
But, Train Girl herself was not even aware that she was an MPK. What’s more, if players never existed to begin with, she would have just been a normal girl and wouldn’t be causing anything like a MPK.
She was just a beginner adventurer who was trying her best to become a skilled adventurer, who just happened to be surrounded by a large number of monsters and forced to run whenever a player tried to grind levels in a field for an extended period of time. That’s right, she was a victim.
In fact, if one was to overcome this MPK event several times, she would even start worrying about things like if she was causing this much trouble for the player, then maybe she should just give up being an adventurer. She was such a kindhearted person.
What’s more, she would never agree to leave the player behind. Even if you beg her to escape first, or to go to the town and call for help, she would insist, “I can’t possibly leave you here and run away by myself!” and stubbornly refuse to move.
Thus, there were only two possibilities left available to the player.
Either leave Train Girl behind and run away in remorse, or prepare for a tough battle and try to fight while protecting Train Girl. Those were the only two choices.
In the case of the former, it is difficult, if not impossible to make it out unscathed.
Though many of the monsters Train Girl brought are quite fast, as long as one does not attack them, they will only target Train Girl. However, while targeting Train Girl, the monsters would not immediately kill her, but were programmed to slowly torture her to death.
It’s not that easy to ignore Train Girl’s sobbing voice crying for help, or that voice that slowly grew weaker, or the final words that she whispered before dying, “I’m sorry, Mom…”
Of course, for any normal human, this would be a terrible ordeal to sit through, so most people would immediately mash the reset button multiple times, or otherwise pay for being alive with a large blow to their conscience.
The saying, “you can’t run from Train Girl”, stems from this.
Then, what if one chose to stand and fight?
Not only does the player need to defeat the numerous enemies Train Girl brought with her, they had to do it while burdened with the enormous hindrance that was Train Girl.
Even if they were weak monsters from the field the player was grinding in, there was close to no chance of winning when fighting a large number of them at the same time. Yet, after meeting up with the player, Train Girl becomes basically unable to move, so the player has to continuously watch out for her while fighting the monsters.
Just having to watch out for her while fighting was already harder than fighting solo.
Trying to fight as if one was solo would just result in the defenseless Train Girl quickly being killed. It was not an uncommon development that, shocked at this occurrence, an attack would slip through the player’s guard and the player would end up being killed too.
Another common mistake was paying too much attention to Train Girl.
Focusing too much on protecting her causes the player to fail to fight at their full potential, and getting killed before Train Girl does. But, in that situation, the player could die fulfilled with a feeling of “Even though I died, I was fighting to protect a girl, so I have no regrets” – was the kind of satisfying development that would never occur in this game.
As for why… It’s because Train Girl would never leave the player behind.
Between the time when the player’s HP hit 0 and when the game over screen appears, there was a slight time lag. During that time, the player had to look on, whether they wanted to or not.
“Hang in there! Please hang in there! How could this, all because of me…”
The sight of a tearful Train Girl embracing the player and saying this…
As well as the moment a blade was swung towards the now stationary Train Girl’s head.
–Honestly, it was quite traumatic.
In the end, players who had experienced this event agreed that Train Girl was to be avoided, and with that in mind, controlled the amount of grinding they did, progressing naturally through the game while frequently changing their hunting grounds.
But, having not gone near beginners’ fields in the game recently, I had completely forgotten about Train Girl.
“…Now then, what should I do?”
Train Girl was steadily approaching. I didn’t know how her speed compared to Rapid Cancel Dash, but it was probably faster than the speed I could run at.
Following her, there were…
“Mad Hounds, huh.”
There were more than ten Mad Hounds. The other mobs had probably been shaken off due to the difference in speed. Still, Mad Hounds were the most troublesome enemies in this field, so the fact that there were no other monsters wasn’t really much consolation.
(Should I run away?)
My location wasn’t that far from the gates of the town. If I were to sacrifice her, I would definitely be able to escape safely.
This world was not a game.
It was not a world where failures could be resolved by just resetting. As an adventurer, she probably wouldn’t blame me even if I abandoned her here.
“Hmpf, as if.”
I was the one who knew best that I wasn’t capable of something like that.
Fortunately, my stamina was full and my HP had hardly been touched. If it’s just a few Mad Hounds, I might as well have some fun with them.
Feeling sweat starting to form from my nervousness, I grasped Shiranui. At last, the sandstorm arrived.
Running at the forefront while gasping for breath, Train Girl squeezed out what remained of her strength and called out:
“Please! Help, me!”
Her voice sounded like it might cut out at any moment. Hearing that desperate plea for help, I…
“Leave it to me! Get behind me!”
I replied with the most reassuring words I could come up with.
With an expression of someone having finally found light at the end of a tunnel, Train Girl dashed behind me, and collapsed from exhaustion.
But, that was all I needed.
The Mad Hounds in pursuit had stopped, wary of me. A dozen or so Mad Hounds surrounded us in a semicircular arc.
Mad Hounds were rather sly creatures.
Knowing the reach of a human’s weapon, they remain a set distance barely out of one’s attack range, and, waiting for their comrades to circle behind the target, they all attack at the same time.
That’s why, before the Mad Hounds had a chance to move, I launched my attack!
With Shiranui held ready on my left, I Stepped forward.
(I didn’t expect to have to expose my secret techniques so early… But, I’m counting on you, Shiranui!)
It was more or less around three meters to the farthest enemy.
This was the perfect position!
Not letting the chance pass me by, I short cancelled Step and, facing the Mad Hounds who hadn’t been able to react, I activated my next skill!
The moment I shouted the name, Shiranui unleashed an invisible strike.
The sword reached the hound on the far left, which was just about to jump on me…
“W-Watch ou… Ehhh!?”
And easily sliced it in half. From behind, I could hear Train Girl’s surprised voice, but…
“I’m not done yet!”
That was not the end. The strike from Shiranui that had cut down the first hound continued on into the one behind, beside, diagonally behind… Into the enemies that seemed to be untouched by the body of the sword, and, in the blink of an eye, all the hounds that were on the path of the strike had been sliced apart.
By the time my sword reached the end of its swing, all the Mad Hounds had been cut in two.
For now, that was all of the enemies that had chased her here, but it will be quite troublesome if the slower monsters that had been shaken off during the chase managed to catch up.
Lending a shoulder to Train Girl who still couldn’t reliably walk on her own, we hurried away.
“…Also, that attack just now was amazing!”
After receiving plenty of words of apology and thanks, she followed up with those words.
Looking carefully, her eyes were sparkling.
“I’ve never seen a skill like that before! You must be really strong!”
She seemed to hold me in high regard. That was making me uncomfortable.
By the way, excluding the use of magic, it was quite difficult to learn an AOE weapon skill. In normal play, it would be around level 50 before you would finally learn one.
“I’m still only level 27. I want to quickly become a skilled adventurer…”
Trying to carry on the conversation with a dry smile, cold sweat dripped down my back.
I can’t tell her. I definitely won’t tell her.
The fact that I was a beginner adventurer who may or may not have even made it to level 10.
“I’m trying hard but I’ve still only learned 4 weapon skills…”
Or that the “Invisible Blade” back then was not really an AOE attack but rather a close range attack, and it was actually a basic skill like Slash that anyone with a weapon could use.
“But but, I want to hurry up and get stronger, and become a great adventurer like you!!”
There’s no way I could tell her that it was just a simple Sideswipe!!