— 6 —
“This isn’t good…”
I might’ve been a bit naive.
There were way more people than I had expected. There was already a sea of people at our destination, the south gate. There were even normal townsfolk who were clearly not adventurers lined up there.
Since the extermination fest was limited to the first 50 sign-ups, I didn’t think there would be that many people, but the mass spawning this time was for the most EXP-efficient monster in the area, the Golden Wild Zlime.
I should’ve expected that people not participating in the fest would still head to the plains to farm EXP.
(Should we just take a detour out to the east or the west?)
The thought popped into my mind for a moment, but I quickly rejected it.
The Deus Plains past the south gate was the area around the capital with the weakest monsters. If I strayed outside of it without updating my level and equipment, there really would be the danger of dying.
Fundamentally, monsters to the south were weaker in Nekomimineko. This became clear if you looked at a map of the entire country, as the capital is in the middle and the Demon Lord’s Castle is in the north, while to the southeast lies the town of Ramlich.
However, the rule that areas further away from towns had stronger monsters still stood, so if you went further south from the Deus Plains the level of the monsters would increase slightly, until approximately three fields away in which there is a dungeon containing the strongest monster in the south at level 160.
As an aside, the boss there, King Butcher, was said to have killed the most Nekomimineko players out of all of the monsters, and the first time I ran into it I was turned into mincemeat with one strike.
Well, though he is a tough foe for swordsmen to deal with, the level 120 Slime Forest presents a much bigger threat in the current version of the game.
In addition to being difficult for melee characters to fight against, the slime monsters that appeared there would slowly multiply over time. If you left them alone for a few months in game time, then, surprise, the Slime Forest would spread into the capital!
It was one of the places that had to be dealt with sooner or later.
“Let’s push our way through to the outside!”
Right now wasn’t the time to be thinking about things so far in the future.
Cutting off any unnecessary thoughts, I pulled Ringo by her hand and dove towards the south gate.
Making it past the gate and into the field, the number of people diminished drastically. It seemed like the people flocking near the gate were indeed just normal residents of the capital.
There was no danger of being attacked by a Golden Wild Zlime, and as long as you could land an attack then there was a chance for you to defeat it even if you were a normal person or a child.
People thinking like that must’ve made their way to the gate, but lacking the bravery to actually step into the field, they end up just standing around by the gate.
On the other hand, while we were now standing in the field, there were no signs of monsters around.
I don’t know how everything managed to work itself out now that this world was real, but like in the game, as a precursor to a mass spawning, all of the monsters in the target area disappeared. That must be why normal people would even come so close to a field like this, and it also meant that we needed to use this time effectively.
Prompting Ringo, we made our way out of the wave of people near the gate and headed into the depths of the plains.
Though there was probably no need to, I naturally tried to choose a path that kept us out of sight.
Once the number of people thinned, I took a breath, and…
“From here on, we’re running.”
Giving notice to Ringo, we start moving for real.
The people loitering by the gate, as well some of the other adventurers, were planning on dealing with the Goldens as a big group.
It’s true that with more people you could block off more of the Goldens’ escape routes, increasing the chance of defeating them. However, that meant that the chance of landing the last hit was greatly decreased for any one person. With Nekomimineko’s system where the person who landed the killing blow got all of the EXP and drops, if there was a way for one to kill the Goldens alone, it would be better to avoid other people.
The Deus Plains was a very open space, and with the short grass, some scattered bushes, and the few large boulders that acted as landmarks, there was not much blocking one’s field of view.
After running for a while, we saw a few parties of adventurers with the same thought as us, but there weren’t many of them.
Only up to 50 people could participate in the Extermination Fest. If most of them had formed teams of 3, then there wouldn’t even be a total of 20 teams. I was quite worried when I saw the mess at the gate, but it looked like the plan wouldn’t need to be adjusted too much.
“Ringo, stop for a bit!”
By the way, we weren’t just running around doing nothing. Every time we found somewhere that looked like a monster spawn point, I would place a few marking items around it.
“…What are you doing?”
For some reason Ringo’s gaze seemed to be less than friendly, but this was something that we needed to do.
“If I mark them, it’ll be easier once it starts right? And if I surround it like this, then it’ll also make the other adventurers think twice before interfering.”
Pretending that Ringo’s voice coming from behind me hadn’t reached my ears, I finished placing all of the items and stopped our legs.
“……It’s almost time. Let’s wait here until it starts.”
We somehow managed to get quite far in. If we went any further then we’d have ended up leaving the field. There weren’t any other characters nearby, and more importantly, the shape of the boulder in front of us seemed familiar.
If I remembered correctly, there should have been a spawn point right there.
“Ringo, the first one should show up near that boulder there. I’m trusting you with the first hit.”
I said, and while, like always, I couldn’t tell where Ringo was looking at at all, she did reply with a nod.
Normally, monsters didn’t spawn in view of the player… but during a mass spawning event, one of the few “special events”, was an exception. Monsters would spawn regardless of everything, and the time between respawns was drastically reduced.
If all went well, there wouldn’t be any hindrances and the first one would show up while we were ready and waiting for it. From that we could hope to get a grasp on the knack for hunting Goldens.
While waiting for the mass spawning to start, I checked over my equipment.
Although my armor was still super weak, given the low risk of being attacked, with the exception of stamina rings I swapped out almost all of my other rings from defense up to elemental attack boosting ones.
I’d finally learned fire magic, so what was wrong with giving it a try if there were a chance.
My weapons were Shiranui and Wakizashi as usual. Of the weapons I owned, Shiranui had the highest attack, and Wakizashi was second after that, so I was technically using my two strongest weapons.
Actually, I had tried to lend the Wakizashi to Ringo again, but Ringo wanted the Heat Knife instead. I thought I had seen her looking intently at the knife when I had her try it out with her lightning strikes, but it seemed like she’d taken a liking to the pure red blade that gave off warmth.
…She might have some dangerous tastes.
As long as she was attacking with her lightning strikes, she wouldn’t earn dagger mastery or fire magic mastery even with the Heat Knife equipped, but still, the Heat Knife had a decent attack stat.
No matter how strong her lightning strikes were, I couldn’t imagine them breaking through the Goldens’ defense and doing more than 2 damage, so whichever weapon she used didn’t really matter.
Just then, after looking at who even knows what she was looking at for all this time, Ringo raised her head and readied the Heat Knife.
Looking at the time, it was already just ten seconds until the expected mass spawning.
I also hurriedly followed her lead.
“Ringo, when it appears, hit it with a lightning strike with your full power. Once it stops moving, I’ll rush at it. …I beg you, please don’t hit me, okay?”
Ringo replied to my slightly joking words with a steady nod.
“…Nn. I’ll pray, that I don’t hit you.”
Don’t just pray, actually try to avoid hitting me! I wanted to shout back, but it was time.
Specks of light gathered and formed into a living being.
–A golden body like a Puyo Puyo Gummy, and the two nekomimi-like bumps that were the trademarks of a Zlime.
There was no doubt about it, this was a Golden Wild Zlime!
When I shouted out, Ringo was already moving.
Lightning strikes gushed out from the tip of her knife.
It was a strike so fast that I probably wouldn’t even be able to dodge, but the golden Zlime was able to react to it.
But the lightning strike doesn’t just fly in a straight line. It’s more like five bolts of lightning shot off at the same time, each in a slightly different direction. One of those, the one that jumped the furthest horizontally, grazed the Zlime’s body.
Even though it’s a very strong attack, the lightning strike was a multi-hit attack. When spread out across five bolts, each individual bolt wasn’t all that strong. Indeed, it was unable to break through the Zlime’s defense, dealing exactly 1 damage.
But there, without a moment’s gap, Ringo let out a second, a third lightning strike.
Ringo continued her quick barrage of lightning strikes, focusing more on cutting off possible escape routes rather than hitting them for damage. While the Zlime was able to read the path of the attacks, with the lightning being spread out and the irregular paths that the lightning bolts took, it wasn’t able to dodge all of them.
Or rather, with Ringo leading it skillfully, she was finally able to land a clean hit–
Wait, this is no time to be spaced out watching her!
I used the Rapid Cancel Dash to close in on the Zlime, its movements completely stopped after taking that direct hit. Probably out of consideration for me, Ringo also stopped shooting off lightning strikes.
There were no obstacles between me and the Golden Wild Zlime. Using Step cancelling, I shortened the distance until I was in range for my skill.
The Zlime still couldn’t move!
Short cancelling the final Step, I activated the dagger skill Sextuple Stab.
Nevertheless, the Zlime stayed frozen.
(I can make it!)
If the enemy still hasn’t moved at this distance, then there was no way this attack could miss.
Holding the dagger in a reverse grip, I plunged it into the Zlime..
And cut right through its body.
Turning around in surprise, there was no longer a Zlime to be seen, just a few remaining particles of light. But even those were quickly scattered by the wind.
I was struck by confusion for bit, but after a few seconds I figured it out.
(Ah, I see.)
In Nekomimineko, after a monster was defeated, its corpse would remain for a little while. It appeared that, even before I had started my attack, the Golden Wild Zlime had already perished.
No wonder it didn’t move at all!
No, you see, this was just the first time so I was a bit too nervous, but in a sense, everything went just as planned!
I desperately tried to come up with excuses in my mind as Ringo walked up to me.
Then, slowly, she gave a suggestion.
“…Next time, should I, hold back?”
While feeling emotional that Ringo had already learned to be able to show concern for others, I shook my head.
…Ringo, you know.
Sometimes kindness can hurt people too.