[Arc 3] Chapter 27: Contracts and Contacts
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"And therefore, we've decided to go to Wakoku in two weeks." - Garami

"No, I don't get that at all!!" - Revi & Alf

"...Let me do the explaining. *Blah-blah, yadda-yadda*." - Mira

"...So, a trip into the Dungeon got you with the job of securing remedies for a sick noble of Wakoku?" - Alf

"That's what I said." - Garami

"You didn't say anything at all!!" - Alf & Revi

*Sniff*. Revi's in her rebellious phase...

We're at the inn after having exited the Forge and gotten the dibs from the ninja-group, led by that Kaizo-geezer. We don't know exactly who's the patient that needs those Firebells, but we do know that they're some decent guys. The ninja-group has connections to the royalties of Wakoku, so they're far from any low-life mercenaries you can find in the slums.

I did have some doubts whenever they were real or not, but when I remembered what Flint told me before, about how Wakoku doesn't have any Adventurer Unions there and the security against monsters is taken care of by these ninjas and "Mono no Fu" that's under the Wakoku king's pay-list, it all came together. 

Meaning, getting that flower to the other side of the ocean could result in the king of Wakoku getting chummy with us... though, that's the best-case situation. Not that it's not without merits even if that doesn't happen. The reward is damn big, even if it's only half of what Kaizo predicted the nobles could pay us. More importantly...

"And what is that 'festival'-thing about?" - Revi

"The best part of the deal. Believe me," said Mira with a grin on her face. Gotta agree though.

"And another thing is that people are prohibited from entering Dungeons in Wakoku without permission from the state. Getting some connections will be necessary to defeat, and perhaps take over, Dungeons on that continent." - Mira

That's the most important part in my eyes. Transfer Terminals aren't limited by the distance, so if we place one Terminal here on the Invidia continent and another in the Luxuria continent where Wakoku is located, we can save lots of time and money on intercontinental travels. 

"Then, we're going after those flowers as well?" - Revi

"Obviously! Therefore, good luck tomorrow, our little botanist." - Mira

"Me!? Why?! Wasn't the plan that we should map the third- and fourth areas first!?" - Revi

"No need for that when the ninja-group will take the lead. Team up with them after entering the Forge and have them lead the way." - Garami

"...Why do you say it like you are not going as well?" - Revi

"Because I am not. You're taking my place" - Garami

"WHYYY!?" - Revi

"Ouch, tough luck." - Alf

"You're going to. As a replacement for Iron, frost-boy." - Mira

"Aw, come oooon!!" - Alf

The two slackers seem to hate the idea of entering the Forge.

---

The next day:

I walked around the town with Iron, the other guy who's left behind while Mira and the rest explore the Forge to find those plants. We're going to look for clues along with the ninjas that are waiting outside as well. I doubt I or Iron need to do anything at all this time.

However...

"......" - Garami

"........." - Iron

This..., this is awkward... gods of faith or whatever, don't throw a (mental) loner and a dead fish into the same room! The air here's too weird!!

"You, girl." 

Aw, glad that I have Polaris for some company. The Forge would be WAY too hot for him.

"Hey, you!"

After walking around with this guy, I kinda understand why he doesn't like Revi.

"You! That girl over there!" 

It's just a hunch... but I think this guy dislikes vegetables. When we walked past a stall that sold some of them, this coward of a bear used Iron outta all things as a hiding place! 

"That albino girl in the hood!!"

Poor Revi, getting treated on the same level as a veggie...

"That albino demon-girl that walks around with the man in armor and that white bear-cub!"

Damn, that guy's been noisy for a while. Why're not the girl answering him......

Okay, I'll stop joking around. I've heard him from the beginning, but people asking for me like that equals bad news. Definitely. 

"You talking about me?" I asked while turning around.

"Finally!" said the old man who had been shouting after us...

This ain't good. It's the leader of the dragon group.

"Anyway, you are miss Garami-" started the old man (dragon) after collecting himself,

"You're mistaken," I said to shut him off.

".........I've heard that miss Garami is a black-clothed, albino woman of demonic origin-"

"Close, but that's not me. Albinism isn't that rare among demons. Besides, I am a lonely scout whose only worth is finding clues outside here. The inside of the Dungeon is too dangerous for me, so I was prohibited by my allies from entering. I even need this guy to protect me even when I am outside. Rather, he finds most of the clues the group inside needs! So stop dragging up my embarrassing weaknesses and leave me alone! Well then, excuse me! *Hmph!*" - (not) Garami

And with that, I walked away from the old dragon-disguised-as-a-human with Iron in tow. As I walked, I heard the dragon mumbling for himself.

"I-I see... they did say she was a woman of few words..." 

Operation "Fast-talking outta here!!" is a success! And I guess I would end up with such a rep when not talking much with people in public... better remember that for a later occasion. 

Still, who are these "they"-people that can inform a dragon? Is it that Fire Dragon? No, if the Dragon Kingdom were to contact me for Earth-snacks, then wouldn't they normally send the guy with a personal connection? Not some guy that emits hostile intents from the first shout-out. People other than me will try to ignore someone that looks that troublesome, geez.

It's decided. Let's lay low until the others come back, then leave for Wakoku right after that... if it weren't for the fact that the ship isn't scheduled to leave for the east in three weeks. Tch, stupid strange ocean currents...

---

Revi's PoV:

It's hooooot. I'm dyiiiiiing...

"Hey, little one. Are you faring well?" - Kaizo

"I'm... I'm fine... I think." - Revi

It's so hot that I can't believe it. Thinking about it, I never got any further than the first floor of the volcano-Dungeon when Mira told me that it would help to improve my resistance to the heat... 

"Here you go," said Alf while using that skill of his again. Ahh, so chilly~. [Frost Coat] can only be called a blessing in this Dungeon.

...But the good times didn't last long. A group of Automatas and Metal Goblins came appeared in front of us... and was dead three seconds later. 

Fast!? The ninjas had gotten behind the Metal Goblins who served as a rearguard and commanders and finished them off before the vanguard-Automatas could reach us! And said vanguard was fried by Mira's lightning before they had a chance to do so!

"Hmm, we're making steady progress. Thanks to Mira-dono cooperating with us, and Alf-dono eliminating the exhaustion from the heat, our progress-speed has improved drastically." - Kaizo

"You guys are the real MVP here, thanks to your path-finding abilities. Did you ever conquer Dungeons before?" - Mira

"We did work with the warriors of the states sometimes to quell those that had appeared too close to the public, but that happened not too often. The 'adventurers' of this continent are probably much more experienced than us." - Kaizo

...Ehm, why wasn't I mentioned there? No, don't say it, I get it. 

I'm too useleeeeeess! What shall I doooo?! The only thing I'm good at is finding some stupid plant! 

Wait! Then why shouldn't I just become able to do something awesome then? Alf managed to disrupt the heat with that new skill of his, so... why can't I do the same? I have, as Garami says it, "more Skill Points than a tomb has undead". 

I bought some medicine-creating skills yesterday after those potion-vendors recommended them for me, but that is not so important while exploring, so I need something else...

 Ehm, what are my strengths again? Excluding Cook, my classes are the magic/medicine-making Witch Apprentice... and the Gravekeeper that prevents people from attacking the graves... I guess? "Support" and "disrupt" are probably the way to describe them.

Even so, everyone has some sort of disrupting move. Garami's stealth, Mira's lightning-swords, Alf's pillars of ice and shadow-doggies, Iron's chains and ghost-friends, Flint's explosive swords and being able to burn the ground, and didn't even Lily mention that she can create a dust cloud to hide in? Huh? Am I the weakest when it comes to disrupting people in our group? Despite having a class just for that!?

Wait, I forgot about Noire! But, she has that wall of wind and illusions in case flying doesn't help... and even if those don't work, she can simply fly out of the enemy's reach... "out of their reach"?

What if I obtain skills that can do the same? Or, everyone tells me that I am too unathletic... then, if I can't run away, how about preventing the enemy from getting too close? Alf had some moves like that, same with Iron... and what about traps? Using magic is easy for me, so if I trap people in place, then blast them with magic from afar... plus, my specialty is [Death Magic], which has great effects, but they all have long casting time. But that will not be a problem if the enemy can't move!

Are there skills to do all that? Preferably from the same attribute. I wanted a trio of Death/Life/Medicine skills, but I think Medicine is better for me than Life, so let's replace it with something else... these! These skills are what I want!

SYSTEM MESSAGE:

Consumed 3 Skill Points. Obtained skill: [Swamp Wall].

Consumed 3 Skill Points. Obtained skill: [Bog Hole].

Consumed 3 Skill Points. Obtained skill: [Swamp Vine].

Revi obtained new powers!!

...How do I use them?

"Enemy incoming!" 

Ah, great timing! Let's test one skill before that group gets crushed. [Bog Hole]!

A dark-green light appeared underneath the legs of an Automata and the ground at that spot got turned into swampy mud, which got the Automata stuck onto that spot...

That was easy... and now everyone is looking at me... w-well, if I first have the chance... [Swamp Vine]!

A new dark-green light came up, this time on the wall halfway to the group of enemy monsters. Huh? I wanted to have it appear much closer to them. Is this the limit for how far away I can use the skill?

Nevertheless, a vine that seems to be of a swamp-plant extended from the light and grabbed the Metal Goblin that I had targeted with the skill. Just one? This skill isn't as impressive as Iron's chains...

Since there's no reason not to test the last guy out, I used [Swamp Wall] as well. A huge block of muddy substance appeared in front of us, blocking the enemy monsters from advancing... but they can still go around it. And the distance is shorter than the vines. If the vine's distance to the monsters is 5 out of 10, then the wall is 4.

Hmm, all these skills need to be improved somehow... and while I was thinking, the monster-group was annihilated again!

"That takes care of that~." - Mira

"Yes... Revi-dono, may I ask what those moves from before were?" - Kaizo

"Eh? Just something I bought right now... was it bad?" - Revi

"No, quite the contrary. I would like to know the identity of those skills. They seem incredibly useful for our troops, even if we have similar moves at our disposal." - Kaizo

"Eh? Really?" - Revi

"Why, yes. Making everyone take one skill while there exist other variants of it will only lead to stagnation." - Kaizo

Ah, such as if everyone used the chain-move that Iron has, but the opponent can break free of those, then perhaps the vines I used will be better against that chain-breaker? 

"Wait, wait, wait there, old man. If you want to some of the tricks of our talented Dragonoid here, you got to pay up first~," says Mira, who suddenly dragged me behind her as if protecting me from the old ninja.

"In that case, how about we make an information-trade later on? I am sure Garami-dono would love to hear about our techniques." - Kaizo

"By all means~," said Mira, while showing me a thumbs-up behind her back... maybe this is the start of something good?

In the end, the two decided to postpone the info-trade for later, and we continued through the third Area. Or, we would like to, had it not be for this huge door that prevents us from going any further. On it is a huge plant drawn on it. They're called... cactus, right? 

Everyone with communicators started to call the members outside for assistance, when-

["Cactus? I know where it is. Rather, I can see it from here."] - Garami

And we got a positive reply from the most unexpected source!? No, quite the opposite! As expected of Garami!

---

Garami's PoV:

"-sure, leave it to me." - Garami

I cut the contact with Alf and looked up at the huge cactus in front of me. Well, it's not that big. Probably around 2.5 meters... no, that's pretty big, right?

In any case, it's got those ice-blue flowers on it as Alf described it, so it has to be this. Don't know about others, but cactuses aren't that easy to find in this desert, not to mention those flashy flowers.

So, Alf said that there were several bears outta everything possible pictured on the door, below the cactus, as well as some hieroglyph-like markings that, when roughly translated, says that "the big one is the winner"...

North then.

Of the four bears pictured, one of them was the snowbear. And like on Earth, those can only be found in the northern continents, and it's the largest of the four bear-sorts, according to Alf who seems to have some zoological bear-knowledge. He must have studied up after taming Polaris. 

...Wonder how that cub and Iron are doing? I left the town to keep a low profile, but the bear's not doing well with the desert sand, so Iron's watching over him for me at the inn... there we go. A lever was hidden underneath the sand on the northern side.

*Click*

"Is anything happening over there?" I asked Alf through the communicator.

["The door's opening here, no problem. See you later."] - Alf

That's well and good... damn that lizard. Did he follow me all the way here? ...Guess not.

On the top of one of the many dunes stood the old geezer-dragon. Was he able to catch my scent or something? Or is it simply bad luck on my front? Let's make sure to go the other way...

---

Mira's PoV:

"...Wasn't this too easy?" I ask the sole person left with a working brain.

"Waaaay too easy." - Alf

After the cactus-door opened up, we half-expected to meet some kinda boss again like the Flare Djinn from yesterday... but nothing. No monsters, no traps, no puzzles, no adventurers even! That last part is because everyone's stuck on the first three areas though...

What we did find was both the moss and the Firebell-plants. Really easy as well, ignoring that we used two hours navigating through this mess of an Area. Many of the roads were blocked by scrap-metal that was welded shut. Damn shut. I couldn't even cut through it with my double-Edge enhanced swords!

Did the effect of the Dungeon extend to the junk, or were the walls designed to look like that from the start? 

"Mira! Alf! Hurry up and help us harvest these things!" - Revi

"You too, chief!" - Ninja grunt

"...Fine. No reason to stop passing the finish line just because the route was easier than expected, I guess..." - Kaizo

The ninja-geezer, the only one I had some belief in having a brain, started to help to harvest the plants. While they did so, I and Alf kept an eye out for anything, literally ANYTHING, that could happen. If there's something I've learned from being around Garami, is that when something's too good to be true, it's either a fake or a trap. Sometimes, both.

We waited for the ambush or whatever that was coming... and waited... and waited... and we... waited?

Despite all our caution, nothing popped up. Not even the slightest arrow-trap. Huh?

"Come on! We're going back!" - Revi

I and Alf couldn't do anything but swallowing our confusion and follow the others. The plants are secured in Revi's Mirror Storage-ability, so there's no danger of losing...!

"Get down!" I shouted while pushing Revi down to the floor, as several beams of light passed above our heads. 

"GYAAAH!!" 

Some of the ninja-grunts got hit by that beam and got their flesh scorched off... damn, that thing's dangerous! I knew things were going too well!

I jumped behind one of the machine-like decorations in the corridor while dragging Revi with me, right before another barrage of light-beams hit the place we were just now. In the corner of my eyes, I noticed that the ninjas had fled to safety in the shadows, dragging their wounded comrades with them as well.

Alf had also escaped... but it seems he had no other choice. In the corridor, I could see the pitiful remains of the wall of ice that Alf likes to use. A huge hole was in the wall. It easily penetrated Alf's best means of defense... 

NOOOOO! MY SWORD! The Tyrant's Fang I've had ever since Velantas! It's melted down to half its size! And I even had Flint reinforce it to withstand high heat right before we left for the Forge!

"Everyone, stay calm and stay out of their line of fire! Use the Dungeon's furniture as cover!" - Kaizo

Good call. Even those beams can't penetrate the Dungeon itself. 

While making sure that Revi was alright, I used a mirror I had on hand to spy on our enemies... huh? Spiders? Several spiders with black-burned, metallic bodies... no, Automatas? No, that's also wrong. The "presence" they give feels way too different from the guards we defeated on our way here. Just my luck... did I catch some Garami-germs? Or maybe a virus?

Kigal-Note/Machinerz: mdl: BB.Ch.F-00X

Name: mdl: BB.Ch.F-00X
Rank: ***
Type: Machinerz
Lifespan: 15 Years
Attribute: Mechanical, Light
Traits: Machinerz

Description:

A group of Machinerz suddenly appeared in the Chaos Forge. Their origin is unknown, but their bodies seem to have been created from Automatas and the "Fire Djinns", gigantic mechanical Automatas of the Smelt attribute that should serve as the Dungeon's bosses. They seem to flock together in a swarm without a leader, but is this true...?

Appearance:

The Machinerz takes the appearance of a large spider, around the size of a small cat, with a mechanical body that seems to have been burned black. They have telescope-lenses for eyes and a small cannon between said eyes which allows them to shoot their trademarked beam-attack.

Abilities:

Average HP: ? Average MP: ? Average SP: ?
Average STR: ? Average VIT: ? Average MAG: ?
Average RES: ? Average SPD: ? Average DEX: ?
Average INT: E (?) Rarity: S (?) Danger Rank: ?

This type of Machinerz is capable of fast movements while shooting a highly potent laser at their targets. One that also has Resistance-negating properties, an ability that should not be possible to obtain that easily in the World System, if not outright impossible unless you spent virtually all resources on that one ability.

Also, the Machinerz are capable of absorbing any kind of energy-based attribute-attacks. Even those of the Darkness- and Curse attributes, which is strictly classified as anti-energy and treated differently from the others!

Finally, these Machinerz work in a swarm, taking down their enemies with the advantage of numbers. While their intelligence is recorded not to be so impressive, if they have access to a leader-unit of some kind with decent intelligence, then these mechanical critters can even make a group of dragons cry for mercy with snot and tears flowing from their faces.

Mira's comment: This is unacceptable! I demand a nerf!

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