Chapter 61: New Game + (sorta) & Preparations for Swamp Hunt
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Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored, bored...

*Ding-dong*

*Zoom!!*

"Deliver-huge!?" - Delivery boy

......yeah. As if I've not heard that one before.

"Ehhhhh..., delivery to a miss Stella Blackwood?" - Delivery boy

"Yeah." - Stella (Garami)

I accepted the pack and sent the (obvious virgin) delivery boy packing. Pun included in the price.

Anyway, time to open this thing and get the old junk to the trashcan where it belongs. 

And as I expected, I found a brand new VR machine inside the package. One of the newest models even! Plus...a letter? Trying to give excuses now, are you? ...or not. This logo's not from the manufacturer of the VR machine. This is the logo of Terra Sol AS! What's this about?

Dear mademoiselle, Stella Blackwood
It pains me to hear that the Hologear 2050 did not live up to your expectations. Truth be told, it pains me to say that, since it was on such short notice, I could only acquire a prototype we had left in the lab so to fulfill our agreement.

...? ...oh! It's from that guy! The false FBI agent that made me start playing NFO! Then, this is his fault?

It was my mistake to dismiss the researcher's plight that the console was easy to overheat, yet I ignored them when I heard the worst that could happen was that the console's inmate would become a little fried.
While it fails to make up the blunder of mine, I will still provide you with the newest version of the Hologear game console, along with some new tools related to it, such as a free, three-year-long Streamer's Rights package.

That's the DLC that lets you stream certain games and post them on websites, right? ...live streams are impossible, but I could take up some boss fights and make a channel for them or something. I've already learned how good publicity can help, with the latest Dungeon level-up.

In addition, I have prepared a special in-game present for you when you manage to log in again. 
Once again, I am sorry for this predicament. Please take contact again if anything bothers you.

Yours truly,
Abraham Vashi

......guess I could forgive him. It's not like anything bad happened, and the gift's pretty good. And I haven't even logged in yet. 

Which I'll do right away. Just gotta configure this thing and get it running...

---

One console-start-up sequence later:

I arrived at my Player Room...or not. This is that fancy throne room from when I created my player avatar. Don't tell me...

"Lady Garami. It is a pleasure to see you once again." - D1

I knew it. It's that goat-headed fog-man from back then. 

"Please be at ease. There have been no difficulties with your avatar or data. I am only here to present the gifts of apology to you." - D1

"...*phew*..." - Garami

That was damn scary. Now that I think about it, I'm already using my Garami-avatar. What was I so afraid of?

"Okay, tell me what you got?" I asked while sitting down on the throne as if I was the boss of this place. I sorta am. 

"Very well," said D1 as he bowed to me. Hey, this AI knows how to play along~.

"My superiors are willing to gift a total of 10 AP to lady Garami, up to three new skills given at Lv.3, and a special set of items that I will come back to after you select the skills you wish for." - D1

Hey, that's pretty swell of them. A little too much, now that I think about it. 10 AP plus 3 skills at Lv.3 =  46 AP in total. 

"Isn't that a little too generous?" - Garami

"Far from it. My superiors are already thinking of lowering the difficulty of obtaining AP from now on. You could say this world has entered its second stage." - D1

They're moving the gameplay up a notch? I've got no problems with that. I'm itching to improve my skills. 

"If there are no other questions, how about we move on to the fun part?" said D1 as he produced a list of various skills I could take...

"Just tier-1 skills?" - Garami

"We cannot spoil you too much, my lady. Oh, and you can ask for AP instead if there are no skills you wish for." - D1

No worries there, because I've already found them:

Skill: Darkness Magic
Skill Type: Magic Skill
Skill Tier: 1
Element: Darkness
Effect:
  • Several Darkness-related magic spells are available:
    1. Turn Dark
    2. Dark Vision
    3. Darkness Enchant 
Skill: Leadership
Skill Type: Leadership Skill
Skill Tier: 1
Element: ---
Effect:
  • Improves your LP by 1 point per skill level.
Skill: Charisma
Skill Type: Leadership Skill
Skill Tier: 1
Element: ---
Effect:
  • Decreases the necessary LP required to recruit members to your teams by 1 point per skill level.

I needed these guys sooner or later. Plus, [Darkness Magic] hits my edgelord heart like cupid's arrow. 

"Very well. And as for the additional item," started D1 as he showed me the data for the extra gift...oh? Oooohh~?

---

"Honey, I'm home~." - Garami

"...yeah." - Bloom

What? It's been more than a day since I visited, and old Bloom's gotten all apathetic on me? She's not even jumping at the bait I gave. The one where she could make a flower/honey joke from my greeting just now.

"How've things been doing while I was away?" - Garami

"Thugs have been visiting. Sometimes dying, sometimes being smart and retiring before that, sometimes reaching the teleport thingy, most of the time at the casino. And some people tried to go past the 3rd floor. They got crushed by the D-rank monsters on the upper floors before they could do anything bad." - Bloom 

"For real? What happened after that?" - Garami

"I told the other Migrants in the Dungeon about them along with showing their faces. The rule-breakers got defeated by the other Migrants before they could even reach the first demon." - Bloom

They're good guys, those gambling perverts. Good thing I made the 6th floor already. Better start propping it up sooner or later..., and I also need to find something that the Dungeon can produce so I can sell it to the Blackmarket. Argh, things are getting too hectic nowadays. 

"More importantly, master..., what is this?" - Bloom

What is what? ...oh. Yeah, the new item. 

"An egg." - Garami

A big egg-incubator-looking thingy had been placed in the Player Room. And inside it was a huge egg. A black egg with silver stars on it.

"Not just any egg... It's a Monster Egg, for the love of goddess Heretina!" - Bloom

"Yeah, I know. It's a gift." - Garami

"Gift, or no gift, that thing is dangerous! What if the monster goes berserk after it hatches!?" - Bloom

"Did something like that happen before?" - Garami

"The whole Trimitistus kingdom got destroyed because they tried to hatch a dragon egg!" - Bloom

"...sure that wasn't the egg's parents trying to get revenge?" - Garami

"Eh?? Ah..., that could be it...I think..." - Bloom

Honestly, this girl... Well, I'll make sure [Demon Taming] has a free slot for this little guy when he finally hatches. And that leads me to...

"Three new teachers should have arrived at the Dojo while I was away. How are they?" - Garami

"Those three? They're good. One of them taught Nyx and Nala how to get their new [Cooperation] skill to Lv.3 yesterday." - Bloom

Seriously? [Cooperation] is something that lowers the price other need to recruit you so..., my LP is at 18 now thanks to [Leadership], I need to use 3 LP less to summon Nyx or Nala with [Demon Taming], [Cooperation] is lowering their costs by 3, so... 

"...I can summon them both at the same time." - Garami

Their costs added together are exactly 18 LP, just what I have. I gotta award that general...

"What was that about?" - Bloom

"It means we're going to the swamp. Pack your stuff!" - Garami

---

...alas, you can't go on an adventure without preparing properly. Which includes buying antidote potions at the market.

Bloom, in her disguise, was haggling with the potion seller. The witch was dressed in a set of robe-type armor and armed with a wand that I had bought for her with the Fort's DP. But we should prepare something more decent than some mass-produced stuff later. But that's not crucial for today.

Because today's more of a test for my new equipment, and with Bloom collecting materials for her potions. AND looking at what the event has in store for us in the swamp. While killing time, I looked at the new skill I got two days ago along with the Arachnid Assailant class.

Skill: Thread Control
Skill Type: Active Skill
Skill Tier: 1
Element: ---
Effect:
  • Consume MP to control threads produced by thread-related skills.
    • More MP is required for more complex movements.
    • Higher skill levels will bring with them better control over the threads, plus less MP consumed.

Sorta figured that out from the name. I'd talk with the dojo-bunch if I-

"...no, seriously?" 

Hmm?

"It's no joke. You just need to collect 10 of them."

I think I'm hearing people talking over there...I think I recognize some of them. ...[Lurk]...

"10..., and there are 5 of us."

It's a group of adventurers. One looks like a female magician clad in red. And if I'm remembering right, she was the one spying on me when I fought and tamed Nala.

"No probs, Rin. If we all work together, we can be more than five times as efficient compared to working alone." 

The one talking to the red magician, named Rin, was a man dressed as a ranger with a bow and arrows. I think he was with Rin when she spied on me.

"It's because the only other girl here's Trinity, so Rin's motivation's dropping like lead in the ocean."

"Shut up, Furfang!" - Rin

The one talking just now was a wolf outta all things! It must be a player using an animal-based race. He's not even a beastkin, but a pure-breed wolf. Looks sorta cool even for a wolf. Is he evolved or something?

"...Nirvana, tell your sister to be quiet," said the girl presumed to be Trinity.

She's resting a huge-ass spear on her shoulder and has this "professional killer"/"veteran soldier" air to her. She looks like the strongest of the group of five, and from how she ordered the ranger from before, Nirvana, it seems she's something like an aloof leader. And Rin and Nirvana are siblings... Rin, Nir-vana. Rin, Nir...ooohh. They do look sorta like each other as well. Their eyes seem similar to each other, for example.

"Impossible. Both her and Furfang are impossible to stop. Black Bone is one thing, but those two are impossible." - Nirvana

"Hey! You're not wrong, but it feels sickening being compared to them," said the last member of the group. The "guy" named Black Bone.

What can I say..., he's a skeleton. Dressed in a dark-black robe to boot. Is he going for a lich-route or something?

"That's crossing the line, bonehead!" - Rin

"Yeah! I'm gonna chew you!" - Furfang

"...be quiet," said Trinity as she dunked the end of her spear to the ground, stopping the quarreling of her "team members". 

"The goal is certain: make use of the player base's lack of interest in challenging the overly-difficult Alberido Swamp and gather enough of those "Extra Medals" to unlock those special skills that Black Bone heard of. Is everyone fine with that?" - Trinity

"Yeah" "Sure" "Why not..."

Seems like they're getting together on the plan. And Extra Medals, huh...

"But wait!" said the wolf, Furfang, all of a sudden. "What about the girl from before."

Who?

"I think we should forget about her. She seems like a bad choice." - Nirvana

"I've heard the rumors that she spoiled a quest for many by letting loose an area boss when they were guarding a caravan." - Rin

"Yeah, I heard that too. She's too much of a loose cannon." - Black Bone

"If everyone says so. Sorry, Furfang." - Trinity

"Aw, maaaaan..." - Furfang

Huh? Is there someone else who's aiming for the swamp or something?

"Master? Where are you?" - Bloom

Whoops. Gotta go. These two daggers of mine are thirsty for poisonous swamp monster-blood.

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