— 3 —
The fourth day of my life in a game.
This morning already started in the worst possible way, but Train Girl arriving after hearing my scream added even more trouble to the mix.
“Eh? Souma, you have sore muscles? Leave it to me! I’m really good at giving massages!”
Train Girl cheerfully slid towards me. I couldn’t even run away because of my sore muscles.
“It’s okay it’s okay you don’t need to!”
“There’s nothing to worry about! Even my mother complimented my massages, like ‘Your massages have always been your only strong point. You’re so good at giving them that it’s a bit… lewd.’…”
“For a frail sickly character your mom’s much more open than I’d expected! After hearing something like that I really don’t need it! Seriously!”
Luckily, the appearance of the inn owner who decided to come see what the commotion in the room was cut short this exchange that some would probably refuse to accept as not flirtatious.
“Huh, sore muscles? Then why aren’t you using a potion?”
With one sentence he closed the curtains on the topic.
At that time, I did not miss Train Girl nonchalantly turning away from me.
–This girl, she knew!
After using a potion, my sore muscles were completely healed.
After presenting both the inn owner with a shovel and Train Girl with the Iron Claw as thanks, I set out for the town.
“Even though my muscles aren’t sore anymore, I’m going to spend today leisurely exploring town and shopping. I don’t have anything in particular planned, so you don’t need to…”
“I’m coming with you!”
Interrupted with so much vigor, I lost my words of argument.
Seeing Train Girl walking beside me so happily, I found myself with mixed feelings.
There were two reasons behind why I prioritized Train Girl’s training.
As I said before, one of the reasons is that I wanted to rid myself of her. In other words, making sure that she would be alright by herself when I leave was half of the reasons. The other half was from my wish that while the two of us were together, she wouldn’t be the only one to die.
I didn’t have such grand inclinations like wanting to protect everyone in this world, but neither did I have or want the mental strength to be able to overlook the death of someone I knew.
There’s no way I would want to live with the guilt that someone died because of me, and no matter how troublesome or annoying someone is, it’s a given that I would rather they be alive than dead.
Ideally, I would rather they be able to live peacefully even without me around, but I decided to at the very least try and ensure that they don’t die while I’m around.
It was quite a short-sighted determination, but it was what the current me seriously believed in.
(But, I don’t really need to anymore…)
Fundamentally, Nekomimineko’s party system did not have any kind of bonus.
Like I once explained, the system was such that all the experience goes to whoever deals the final blow, so trying to speed level a low level person was rather difficult.
Through Train Girl’s special Train Mode, we were able to rapidly raise her level to 57, but even this had its limits. Train Mode only activates when I spend a set amount of time in a field near Ramlich. Obviously the Sealed Demon’s Labyrinth was out of the question, and the place around Ramlich where the next highest levelled monsters appears was the Cave of Trials.
It would probably still be relatively easy to level up to 75 or 76, but once a character’s level exceeds the enemy’s level, the amount of experience obtained is vastly reduced.
Especially when there’s more than a 5 level difference, this reduction becomes substantial. Even with Train Mode it would likely be difficult to level up further than that. In order to level up past that we would have to leave Ramlich, but Train Girl’s Train Mode only activates near Ramlich.
However, without Train Mode, Train Girl was really no more than just a mere adventurer.
And in the first place, there was no need to level up any further in order to live here at Ramlich.
(I really don’t think I can bring her along…)
Even I hadn’t started out as a solo player. For the first while, I had formed parties with low level NPCs right from the start of the game, and played through while trying to keep the levels of both the NPCs and myself around the same.
At that time, not only had I not considered playing solo, I generally hadn’t even thought about switching out the members of my party. It could be said that that period was when I had most innocently enjoyed playing Nekomimineko, but at the same time it was the period where me or my party members had died most frequently.
In this world now without save and load, if a normal character was to adventure with me, it wouldn’t be anything but an act of suicide.
(Well, that leaves the question of who can travel with me without dying…)
At the very least, with my current strength there were many characters who fit that criteria.
There were countless OP characters in this world that could join your party. If you manage to recruit one of them early on then you may be able to comfortably progress in your adventures.
The highest leveled NPC in this game was said to be “The Phantom Hero Alex”.
Donning golden armor and possessing unrivaled swordsmanship, he was a bold and fearless level 200 hero. His specs were at a level that made one think that he would be fine as the protagonist, but unfortunately I had never met him even in game.
It seemed that his thoughts were filled with nothing but “defeat the Demon Lord”, so he set out alone for the Demon Lord’s Castle right at the start of the game, and was defeated before players could even meet him. He was a good example that there was a time and place even for being bold and fearless.
His suicidal endeavor was as famous as that of the Armor Knights of the Cave of Trials, and in a sense he could be said to be a pretty rare character. However, he seemed to be the production’s go-to character as there was close to ten exclusive events pertaining to him, but of course nobody seems to have cleared them yet.
Really, everything about him was phantom-like.
Both in the sense of the game and in an ordinary sense, I would’ve liked him to stay alive if possible, but three days had already passed since the start of the game. It wouldn’t be strange if he had long since bit the dust already, so it was probably pointless trying to rely on him.
Let’s think a bit more realistically.
If we’re talking about strong characters that one could encounter around these parts, then it would have to be “The Helping Cheeter”. She was a helpful character that would randomly appear while you were doing a quest, and was famous as the strongest female adventurer in Nekomimineko. She was a swordstress who massacred enemies with cheating-level agility, giving birth to the catchphrase “the only character who moves slower when using Step”, and a double meaning to her nickname Cheeter.
She would suddenly pop up and help clear a single quest, but the chain of quests resulting from that encounter could eventually result in her officially joining your party.
Though her frightening maneuverability and offensive abilities demolish enemies, the opinion of her as a party member was quite mixed.
She was too strong and too quick, killing all of the enemies and making it impossible for the player to gain any experience.
Her settings meant that she would not help in defeating the Demon Lord, but her overwhelming strength was such that she was thought to be able to solo kill even the Demon Lord.
Her personality was whimsical and cold… but her exclusive events were mostly clichéd romcom events in a lapse of character.
But well, if I told you that my level 300+ character was killed ten times over within those clichéd romcom events, then that should give you a rough idea of how strong she was.
In any case, she was not really someone that I would want to rely on in this world.
Other than her, there were also men like “Perverted Warrior Jane”, “Tea Drinking Ryden”, or “Frighteningly Blasphemous Hole Digging Rose Piercer Whose Name I Hesitate to Say”, where looking past their eccentricities they could be a force to be relied on.
But if you asked me whether I would like any of them to be my companions, I would be a bit… well for the last one I honestly don’t even want to see him.
Otherwise, I might as well try for one of the members of the royalty that only appear in events.
From the event battles within the game, it seemed that the royalty of the country of Licht: the king, queen, and princess, were all quite OP. They were strong enough that made one want to say, “why don’t you all just go defeat the Demon Lord yourselves?”. In particular, the princess Shelmia was one of the most popular characters even within the game, and in the past few popularity rankings she had never failed to make it into the top ten.
In game you could unfortunately not team up with them, and in fact couldn’t even meet them outside of events, but in this world it might be possible depending on how I go about it. Of course, in order to do so I had to at least make my way to the capital, so it wasn’t someone that I could add to my party right this moment.
Mmm, I inadvertently let out a hum.
Was it just my imagination that character strengths seemed to be inversely correlated to their normalcy? After all, the surprising lack of decent characters was enough to make me accept playing solo.
(Inverse to their power… now that I think about it…)
Going just by power, I should probably also consider “The Strongest Genius Idiot Magician Sazaan”.
Well… I’ll only consider it.
You might have imagined it just from hearing his name, but there were rumors that just by adding this character to your party “your survival chance decreases by half” or “your death chance increases by 500%”. He was the strongest character in a negative sense, suited only for the most masochistic players.
Still, just from specs alone, Sazaan could be said to be one of the strongest magician-type characters.
After all, his ability values and spell power were high. Stupidly high. But that was also what resulted in many victims.
There were innumerable complaints about him. To begin with, Nekomimineko AIs were already not what one would call great, but Sazaan was another two levels beyond that. His AI, polished in a bad sense by what could only be called an agglomeration of the producers’ ill will, had caused many players to rediscover what rage felt like.
The least of the problems was casting Concentrate which boosts the power of the next spell by 100% and then casting magic that inflict status effects with high probability, but he also prioritizes waking up sleeping monsters with weak offensive spells, for some reason with high probability trying to inflict status effects on monsters with low magic defense, and even though those enemies are mostly physical types for some reason only using Berserk on them and instead making them stronger, sometimes yelling out, “t-the seal in my right hand is…!” and acting as if trying to suppress his right hand from going berserk, and when you think that he’s just looking for attention his right hand’s seal actually breaks and annihilates the party, or when monsters get too close trying to use explosive magic to protect himself but in the end killing himself, wears a weird mask, when hit he falls into a panic and shoots magic indiscriminately, when you try to heal him he clicks his tongue, when there are more than two enemies always using AOE fire magic even if it would hit allies, using fire magic even against fire-type monsters and instead healing them, trying to use fire magic even when underwater and failing, using fire magic even in a forest and causing a large forest fire, yet when an eventual monster weak to fire appears for some reason using wind magic which he wasn’t even good at, randomly laughing out of nowhere, and when asked just says, “Sorry, I just remembered something funny”, thoughtlessly setting his magic to go as far as it can and aggroing distant or strong enemies and changing the tides of battle, unpunctual, casually attacking monsters in a counter state and being countered, always talking about probabilities, when doing nothing and entering idle mode would start talking about his past life unprompted, and the details change every time, and wasn’t even consistent, always uses the highest rank magic regardless of the enemy’s level resulting in overkill, not just the enemy but even overkilling the enemy’s item drops that had HP, always uses the highest rank magic regardless of the enemy’s level resulting in the cast still not being finished even when the fight was over, and even after the fight was over would still continue casting thus delaying the whole party, would sometimes mess up the cast location so the offensive magic that ends up being cast after the fight was over ends up killing an ally, new enemies would come drawn by the magic’s effects, always uses the highest rank magic regardless of the enemy’s level resulting in running out of MP during important times, after running out of MP would charge straight at the enemy even with only cloth armor and be immediately killed, immediately blames others for his failures, his words when winning were condescending, his victory pose was annoying, had bad table manners, I don’t like how he saves his favorites for last, would come dressed in hard to move clothing when going hiking, complains when bitten by bugs, always wants to take a break, in the end I had to piggyback him down the mountain, becomes unrestrained after drinking, always drunk on himself even when not drinking, can’t talk while looking people in the eye, blaming not being able to talk while looking people in the eye on his mask, somehow just remembering his name makes me irritated, because of him there’s more case of stiff shoulders and aching backs, because of him there was global warming, but even so one of the strongest magics, “Stardust Flare”, could only be obtained from one of his events so I have to have him in my party at least once, so, he was really, really the worst person ever.
You might think I’m making it up, but this was all true. As proof of that, for some reason I’m really irritated, and even though I didn’t have stiff shoulders or an aching back, I felt like I did.
It must be because I had remembered his name.
(Compared to that…)
I looked at Train Girl walking beside me.
“Uhm, is something wrong?”
I had been a bit mad at her in the morning, but a small prank like offering to massage my sore muscles, it was actually rather cute in comparison.
“Train Girl, honestly, you’re like an angel.”
Watching over the visibly flustered Train Girl with a faint smile, I decided to be prudent in forming my party, even if it ends up taking some time.