Morning of the following Sunday:
It’s raining, as if the sky is weeping for my poor wallet after last night.
As I open my umbrella, about to leave Ichigaya Station, someone taps my shoulder.
“Senpai!” Miyoshi stands there, while cracking a cheerful smile.
“So, why are you here?”
“I mean, you’ve said you’re going to take the training course today, and so I thought I might as well take it once more.”
“Now that I’ve been officially appointed as your agent, I’ve got to least pay you back for yesterday’s trumpet, chanterelle, and girolle mushrooms.”
“You mean, mushrooms get you going?”
“Uwaaah, don’t be a perv! Ah, ouch! Please don’t hit me. I will also do my best for the mehikali1. Those were soft, fluffy and delicious, don’t you think? I really wonder, why are French cooks all so skilled at cooking fried food?”
“Come to think of it, yeah, why?”
While bantering with each other about casual stuff, we cross the Ichigaya Bridge, and once we turn left, the JDA headquarters becomes visible in the distance.
“No matter how often I see it, it’s a weird building, isn’t it?” Miyoshi says, bending her head slightly to the side, and looking up at JDA’s headquarters through her transparent umbrella.
The JDA has bought up, and is using, Sumitomo’s Ichigaya branch office, while planning to link up with the JSDF’s Tokyo Branch Cooperation Headquarters located in Ichigaya.
It looks like they renovated it in various ways, but it’s weird, err, unique, shape, has remained the same.
I look up at the JSDF building as I walk along Yasukuni street, after exiting Ichigaya station. The building looks like the bridge of a transforming robot/spaceship, built by a mecha designer to finish off some enemy.
“Oh, on that subject, Midori-senpai sent a reply.”
“Hee, what did she say?”
“Looks like she can make it work, as they have finished the first stage of development for the medical scan capsule they’re working on.”
“If you submit the summary of the examination, it will cost around 2,000,000 per examination, she says.”
“The hell! If I measure six kinds of parameters five times with an increase of two each time…it’s going to cost me 60,000,000!?”
“Even if you shake your piggy bank upside-down, such an amount of money won’t fall out.”
“The bank…bah, there’s no way they’d lend me that much money, is there?”
“You don’t want to do a joint development project, correct?”
“Mmh? No, that’s not it, but in the current situation, my ability would be simply used for the other party’s development, right? I’d like to at least get my hands on the software rights so that it equals out, you see?”
“Well, I guess that makes sense. Haah…I just had a feeling that it’d be profitable.”
Sure, I think a quantification of abilities will yield a profit.
I have no doubt that there are plenty of guys who would love to shout “Status Open!”
However, money…money, eh…?
“Nothing, let’s put that matter on hold for now.”
“I think that’s okay.” Miyoshi stares at me, puzzled.
“No, I mean, you said it yourself, didn’t you? That it might be possible to earn some dough in a dungeon.”
“If you can earn 60,000,000 in a short time, I believe it’d be better for you to focus on that and not do anything unnecessary, though.”
“That part is…you know, what you’d call the romance of a researcher, okay?”
“Well, I can understand that.”
We, who smiled wryly at each other, since romance won’t be able to put any food on the table, board the robot, and head to the reception desk right away.
“Excuse me. I’ve come to apply for a dungeon license.”
“Okay. Since the morning section is going to start soon, you can take the training course in the big conference room on the second floor, after filling out this application form.”
“The license will be issued with just that?”
“If you are a civilian, there will be an examination based on your official papers, after the short training course, but if there’s no problem with that, a WDA license card will be mailed to you on another day.”
“It’s possible that you won’t pass the examination if you have a criminal record, seeing as there’s the matter with the orbs. Moreover, your age and the existence of chronic diseases will be checked, but it will be fine as long as nothing is wrong in particular.”
“I don’t have to show a D-Card?”
“No. Most people don’t possess a D-Card when they apply for a license.”
That’s quite convenient.
“If you have already acquired a D-Card outside the country, you can have a higher ranked card issued by showing it.”
It seems someone in charge has gone ballistic during the process of establishing the WDA license system. Apart from the D-Card, you will be classified to a rank corresponding to the services you have contributed.
Beginners start from G, and there seems to be S above A. It’s a sign of the times, these days, people from every strata of society have grown up with video games.
The ranks are used to limit the purchase of weapons and armor, special, restricted, admission to dungeons, and as a criterion for payment in case of an enterprise hiring an explorer.
“Later, you will be able to enter and leave every public dungeon by showing your license card.”
“What about the D-Card?”
“It’s useful for gauging your strength, but it’s not very useful for managing people. After all, it doesn’t make their origin and actions clear.”
“Then it’s not really necessary to show one’s D-Card, is it?”
“Indeed. I suppose it’s used to prove your skill and rank during party recruitment.”
“I got it. Thank you very much.”
The training course was an explanation concerning formalities, methods to enter dungeons, and outlines about equipment etc., that was easy to understand, and based on reality.
Afterwards, there was a free question period while we looked at the guide books.
“So there’s no need to pay to enter a dungeon.” A modern-styled cute-type beauty sitting in front of us says, while browsing her guide book.
“Well, it looks like you’ve got to pay a 10% JDA administration fee for dungeon-native items instead. Also, a dungeon tax of 10%.” Another slender, conservative, beauty, who has slightly boyish features, explains the actual expenses.
It appears they’ve come here together.
“They are going to keep 20%?”
“What you sayin’? If you consider public gambling, it’s a bit of a bargain, no?”
Yeah, well, cycle races and boat races are 25%. If you take horse racing as an average, it’s around the same. From the vigorish.
“It’s treated like gambling? Hmm, not much difference, either way, I guess.”
“Yep. Though, the chip will be our life.”
Hearing that, Miyoshi unintentionally burst out into laughter.
Hearing that, the two in front reflexively turn around.
“Excuse me. It just matched your cool image too much.”
The two look at each other, and then at Miyoshi again.
“Are you making fun of me?”
“Absolutely not. I almost retorted 『Life is a weapon everyone possesses, but you mustn’t use it as one if you value it』 on reflex. But, once I held back on that, I burst into laughter.”
The boyish woman suddenly relaxes visibly, and asks, “Charles Gordon?”
“Yep. However, I guess in that case everyone will die.”
Miyoshi and her smile at each other, but to me and the cutie it’s gibberish.
“What’s the matter? I totally don’t get what you’re on about?”
“Yeah, I no comprendre either.”
“It’s a line from a movie about the Madhist War. I’m Mitsurugi, you?”
“Whoa, even your name is cool. I’m Miyoshi. And this guy is Yoshimura. Best regards.”
“I’m Saito. Coming to a training course together on a Sunday? Isn’t going on a date in a dungeon way miserable?” The cutie scans us with keen interest.
“No, we’re colleagues at the same company. It’s not like we’re actually preparing for a dungeon date.” I wave my hand in front of my face while thinking that I really wanna ask about those girls’ relationship.
“Company, you say. So, vanguards from some major company’s dungeon department?” Saito asks.
“No, we’re simple researchers.” I answer curtly.
“What, so that’s it.” Saito says, looking bored.
“Don’t just dismiss it like that. I’m sure researchers are well-informed about dungeons, you know?” Mitsurugi follows up.
“I see. So please teach us about dungeons next time, okay?” Saito regains some of her spunk.
“Yeah, yeah.” Once I answer Saito, who bends her head to the side coquettishly, she freezes with a smile on her face for a short moment.
“Haru-chan, was I lacking appeal?” Saito asks Mitsurugi.
So her name is Haru-something.
Mitsurugi covers her forehead with a hand and shakes her head.
“No, I think right now you’re facing too tough an opponent.” Mitsurugi answers.
It’s my fault?
“Umm, what’s the story here?”
“Hey you, normal man over there, won’t you give me a business card or something?” Saito demands, with her cheeks puffed up.
Eh? Is that how it works? There’s a rule like that??
I turn my eyes towards Miyoshi, looking for some help, but only get an ambiguous expression from her. That’s clearly a sign telling me, “Don’t ask me.”
“Now, now, such blockheads exist these days. In the past they’ve been called KY2, my grandpa said.”
“Who’s a KY, who!? Rather, blockhead sounds quite ancient, too.”
“Fads pass right away, and things are seen as terribly old quickly.”
Oh, I think the free question period is about to end.
The lecturer has stood up, and has started on his closing speech.
The two in front of us reseat themselves, turning towards the lecturer, after apologizing with their eyes.
And thus the ‘turbulent’ short training course comes to an end.
“Senpai, you’re going to eat lunch and go home?”
*startle* Am I in danger?
“That’s right. But, you see, we just ate out yesterday, so to immediately…”
“How about something light, like ramen, then?”
“I don’t get how ramen is supposed to be light, but salty food, eh? If we’re talking about salty food around here, Due Ita3?”
Due Ita is a restaurant that serves Italian food in the shape of ramen. It’s a weird store, where the dishes overflow with tomatoes and floating mozzarella cheese.
“No, I was hoping for something more with the feel of Chinese soba.”
“Then, Daiyoshi with it’s refreshing niboshi4, huh?”
Daiyoshi is a normal Chinese soba shop located in Ichigaya-Tamachi (it’s no ramen restaurant).
It’s the second brand of a popular ramen restaurant, but they’ve got a simple deliciousness with their straight niboshi in soy sauce.
“You’re right. I’m not in the mood for too much chashao. I’m gonna go with Chinese ajitama5. Since it’s lunch, a serving of wonton and some beer will be nice as well, don’t you think!”
Afterwards, that glutton really ordered all this shit at Daiyoshi. Moreover, a medium-sized bottle of beer. Are you some middle-aged man? Well, I guess you could say that’s why she’s so easy to get along with…
“But, those two sure dolled themselves up quite a bit. Since they said something about business card and such…I wonder whether they work in the sex industry?” I ask, while slurping traditional-Chinese-styled noodles.
“People in that industry have no incentive to dive into a dungeon, do they? Seeing how naive they were, aren’t they more likely to be from the entertainment or fashion industry? It looked like they drew glances from the surrounding people, too.”
“We’re completely estranged from those kinds of people, after all. I wronged them if they are famous people.”
“Please don’t put me together into one bucket with you, senpai. I’m an ordinary person.”
I want to retort, “The actors you know about are all from somewhat old movies, aren’t they?”,but I firmly endure instead.
Not saying anything unnecessary is the trick to skillfully getting along with others, right?
“But, even people in entertainment or fashion are pretty much unrelated to dungeons, aren’t they?”
“You think so? Most recently, look, haven’t there been dungeon idols as well?”
“Ah, those. The ones with the rip-off deal of one orb for a one day date.”
“Jeez, it makes me want to follow their example.”
“I mean, the people paying are satisfied with just that, aren’t they?”
“And the idols ripping them off are all smiles.”
“Both sides are fully satisfied, it’s a win-win situation!”
“Hmm, you could phrase it like that.”
“Bah, please be careful since you’re liable to be drawn in, you know? Senpai, you’re extremely weak against advertisements and sophistry.”
I unintentionally spit out my noodles. I really can’t rebut her though, as I do have a clear idea what she’s talking about.
I’m so weak to advertisements that I would end up buying a whiskey due to a single, old poster stating “All gain, no loss” 6.
No, I mean, it’s cool that catchphrase, isn’t it?
“What’s the point of talking about preferences and dependences on the same level? If you go by that logic, even drug dealing is win-win.”
It’s like that. But, it makes me want to tell her to stop since that comment raises various points of controversy.
“Anyway, I think we can’t talk about moving quickly without optimizing mobility.”
“In other words, going with yesterday’s status, I wonder whether raising AGI wouldn’t be an optimization of mobility as well.”
“That would make sense.”
“With DEX, it should widen the mobility range of your body, and raise the precision of your body control.”
Naturally, body control is likely to be necessary for all kinds of techniques.
“Besides, being strengthened by the dungeons means you will be strengthened as human in various ways. Nowadays it’s normal for athletes to have training camps in dungeons.”
Come to think of it, it might be something like a training camp at high altitudes, but…won’t it take way long for them to see visible effects from the amount of experience they would be able to get?
Or, are they doing some kind of bootcamp, where they have training courses that involve fighting against high-level monsters?
“That’s why I believe that dungeons also have benefits for actors and fashion models.”
“Which reminds me, I’ve been thinking about trying to dive once at the end of the week. What about you, Miyoshi?”
“You’re going to play hooky? Well, taking a vacation would be fine as well, but…if we both take a vacation on the same day, people might get the wrong idea, don’t you think?”
The hell? What are you blushing for?
“Oh, I’m going to resign, so it’s probably going to be okay.”
“But, tomorrow is not possible, right? The license card has to be delivered, no?”
“Ah, true. I feel like she said something about two business days――”
“Then shouldn’t you wait till Thursday, just to be sure?”
“Okay. So, what are we going to do about armor and weapons?”
“I took a look at the catalog just in case, but…”
Yep, I totally get her.
Weapons and armor costs a lot of cash. Even the cheapest stuff costs around 100,000 Yen, and items in the hundreds of millions exist in the upper price ranges, too.
“It’s expensive, isn’t it?”
“Yes! It’s so overpriced! Why such prices!? In the first place, putting aside people who do kendo, it’s not like we can use a sword!”
“If you meet the requirements for those special guns, that can only be used in dungeons under the supervision of the JDA, it looks like you can use those, more or less. Since they are expensive and not useful at lower floors, they are unexpectedly unpopular, though.”
“I wouldn’t hit anything with a gun, since I’ve never used one before.”
“What did you do during your time as a student?”
“…There’s even something like that, huh?”
“Well, it was something like a tour, after all.”
“Actually hammers, hatchets, or axes might be passable.”
“Yep. A hammer that’s easy to use with one hand would be nice.”
“Oh? Do you have some kind of plan? As expected of a beginner purveyor, goblins on the second floor?”
“Actually, there’s something I want to test with the slimes on the first floor.”
The main monsters on the first floor of Yoyogi are slimes. However, those monsters are extremely unpopular.
It’s difficult to defeat them, they aren’t worth a lot of experience points, they don’t drop anything…in short, there’s nothing good about them.
Moreover, the stairs to the second floor of the unduly wide Yoyogi dungeon are right next to the stairs to the first floor. In the end, most explorers head for the second floor.
By the time I recovered from the shock of hearing about her preferred prey, she had stolen the last wonton out from under me.
- local dish of the Ehime prefecture made out of sweet potato powder
- I think it was kuuki yomenai, or being unable to read the situation/mood
- Abbrevation for Due Italian, a ramen chain. Look here: https://www.dueitalian.jp/
- boiled and dried fish
- soft-boiled egg marinated in soy and mirin
- An ad for a Suntory brandy