I grab the orb, stuff it into my bag, and leave the place at once.
After all, the truck is tipping over, with half of its frame buried in the ground. The hole has disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared, but the crack that swallowed the truck is still there.
My whole body is drenched by now, and since I would hate to carry a skill orb all over the place, I immediately tell my company that I am leaving early.
Section Chief Enoki flings insults at me from the other side of the phone, but I mechanically agree with him like a yes-man, and then hang up.
And now, one hour later, I’m sitting in front of the kotatsu, placed next to my bed all year long, in my own room, after taking a shower.
“Now then, how much am I gonna get for this?”
Once I touch the orb, I understand its skill name.
The mysterious numbers ― referred to as an orb counter ― at its bottom, seem to display the elapsed time since its discovery. I have already learned that the orb will vanish once that number turns into 1436.
“May King/0074, eh? May King, sounds kind of amazing. Is it connected to agriculture?” 1
I boot up my notebook, access JDA’s orb purchase list, and try to enter May King. However, it shows me no result.
The orb purchase list is a list recording what various companies, organizations, and individuals would be willing to pay for a specific orb. Using this information, people with orbs they want to sell can contact a buyer and set up a trade, with the JDA as an intermediary.
As there’s no way to know when a given orb might be discovered, and they only last roughly 24 hours, it’s impossible to set up something like a store, with products lined up on shelves. Of course, there’s no time to hold an auction either, so the trade is usually arranged through direct communication between buyer and seller.
“No helping it. I’m just going to check what kind of function it has, and then――” Muttering to myself, I access JDA’s skill database, searching for May King.
However, there are still no results.
“Come on, don’t tell me this is an unregistered skill?”
The JDA database is naturally connected with the WDA. In short, it means it’s a skill that hasn’t been discovered yet anywhere in the world.
There’s almost no way to sell an unregistered skill with unclear function. I mean, putting a price on it is impossible in the first place. Of course, there’s no time to investigate or negotiate either.
“Damn it…I thought this thing was going to make me rich enough to finally leave that terrible company.”
I drop my shoulders in disappointment, imagining the headache waiting for me at work tomorrow.
I instinctively shake my head, to banish that mega depressing image, and go to the kitchen to boil some water. While putting the kettle on the gas stove, I take out some kinda decent tea from the cupboard to clear my head.
“Hoshino’s high-quality green tea is really the best.” 2
After letting the water boil for a bit, I take the kettle off the stove and take another look at the orb on top of the kotatsu, while waiting for the hot water to cool down.
“Guess I got no choice but to use it myself, huh?”
I carefully put the Hachijo green tea into the water, pour it into a cup, take it to the kotatsu, and take my first sip of tea.
“Mmh? Somehow it tastes better than usual…did I change something?”
Well, it’s delicious, so who cares? I grab the orb without any further thought.
“This is a contract after all, isn’t it?” I mutter, and then use the orb while exclaiming with a slight shout, “I’m going to stop being a human!”
What a strange sensation. As if something is permeating my body, as if my body is being deconstructed and completely reconstructed― it hurts, but at the same time, I feel great.
I open my eyes, while clenching and unclenching my hand, paying attention to the sensation. It doesn’t really feel as if anything much has changed.
I thought the world might look really different after using the orb, so I’m a bit disappointed.
“Well, it’s the same with sex. Once you experience it, it’s no big deal anymore… So, how do I use the skill anyway?”
At times like this, you go to the internet.
I look up the accounts of guys who have personally experienced using a skill. Of course, I’ve got no way to tell if they’re telling the truth.
“I wonder why. No matter which one I read, they all basically say 『I somehow knew』. Somehow. Somehow, they say…”
I close my eyes, fold my arms and drink the rest of my tea, but the result is――
“…I got no friggin clue.”
Did the acquisition fail maybe? That thought reminds me of my D-Card.
If I remember correctly, any acquired skills should be recorded on my D-Card.
“Bah, where did I put that card again? If I’m not mistaken, I put it in the pocket of my pants…”
Once I grab them from the basket in the dressing room, I rummage through the pockets, and take out the dull, silver, card.
“Oh, found it. There it was. Now then, the skill…”
Area 12 / Yoshimura Keigo
“Oh, it really was added properly…”
I do a double take at the card, shocked by what I see.
After massaging the inner corners of my eyes with the thumb and index finger of my right hand, I look at the card one more time, but what’s written there hasn’t changed.
The characters “Rank 1” are shining radiantly.
“Wait, wait, wait, wait…just a moment pls. It was around 99,000,000 last time, wasn’t it?”
However, no matter how often I check it over, it stays rank 1.
Assuming that the rank is set by the experience points gained from defeating monsters, as according to the hypothesis…
“That eerie voice I heard a little while after the iron bars fell?”
Nothing else comes to mind.
As long as I didn’t run over anything with my car on the way back home.
I lift my face as I suddenly realize, “Rank 1 means I’m strong, doesn’t it?”
Three years have already passed since the appearance of dungeons in this world.
The folks from the military should have been allowed to dive into them from the very start. Nowadays normal people are going on explorations too, but I’m pretty sure the upper ranks are mostly occupied by soldiers or police officers.
I have overtaken their three years of experience?
Having said that, the actual feeling still hasn’t completely hit me yet.
“But, I really don’t feel like I got super strong. It’s not like I can easily pinch and crush the doorknob.”
I tried to tightly grasp the entrance door’s knob with all my might, but nothing happened.
“Magic, then? ――Blah, that was a skill, wasn’t it? It sure seems unrelated…”
I spend the rest of the day on my PC, pointlessly looking things up forever.