Day in, day out, I go back and forth from the first floor of Yoyogi Dungeon. No one else is ever here, and today is no exception. Out of all the dungeons in Japan, Yoyogi Dungeon sees the most traffic, but the first floor is truly underpopulated.
Of course, that suits my current purposes perfectly. I find a cute fellow bouncing around, I spray it with a psshh, and beat it with a bang. That’s the pattern for today.
“Bounce♪ Psshh♪ Bang♪”
The melody is the same as that old Hiroko Yakushimaru shampoo commercial I saw the other day on YouTube. It’s a simple, nice tune. As for why I know so much about an old idol, well, we had an old CD (!) of hers at home. My Dad was apparently a fan of Hiroko Yakushimaru. I feel like he said something I didn’t quite get, something about it being a gently flowing melody line that becomes addictive or something. Something about imagining the composer writhing in agony, due to her strange voice quality, and the narrowness of her singing range.
I hum the song for so long that it starts to lose all meaning. Meanwhile, I monotonously record the number of slimes I have defeated. It kinda feels like I’m just pointlessly piling up stones. I’m not noting down the SP rewards because it’s just as I suspected on the first day.
“Haah, this one makes 57.”
I stretch my back while writing a tally mark on my memo pad.
Sometimes slimes crawl along the ceiling. If game passes below, they prey upon it by dropping down from above. A true slime bomb. Once they stick to you, they won’t come off easily. Even if you hit or cut them, it doesn’t affect them much. There’s some effect if you scorch them with fire, but the person it’s sticking to will get considerably burned too. I hear, such accidents happen from time to time.
After hearing about that, I have made sure to avoid places with ceilings too high for my flashlight to reach, as much as possible.
“Well, even if I get attacked, I think I could get it off with one shot of the somethingbeam, but…”
I’d really like to excuse myself from experimenting with my own body.
Moreover, we still haven’t publicized the discovery about the fake Makiron. As for the orb list, we’re keeping it to ourselves because it’ll likely lead to overhunting.
Suddenly, I think I hear a scream coming from somewhere along the passage.
“What’s going on?”
As I strain my ears, I can definitely hear a voice, as if someone’s screaming deep down the passage. I start running towards the voice.
“H-Hurry, hurry up and get it off! No way, what’s this!?!”
“I’m on it! I’m doing it already! Why doesn’t it come off!?”
I find a party of two people wearing beginner’s armor sets, one having been entwined by a slime that fell on them from above, in a small square-like room located slightly ahead. It’s not like the slimes of Yoyogi’s first floor will melt you at a dangerous rate, even if they capture you. As long as you don’t allow them to suffocate you, by fully covering your head, you’ll be fine. However, it’s dangerous if they stick to you for an extended period of time.
The smaller girl has one glued to her upper chest, and the taller girl is grabbing it, trying to get it off. It doesn’t seem to be going well, as her hands just sink into the slime. Of course, the slimes aren’t going to stop at just melting clothes.
“You okay!?” I yell while running up to them.
“Ah, help! Please help us!” The taller girl is frantically looking my way as she screams.
I pull out a bottle from my waist belt and spray its content at the slime clinging to the smaller girl. While shouting the technique’s name, “Eat this! Chloride-something-onium!”
I did promise to do so, yep.
The effect is dramatic. The slime pops in an instant, probably looking as if it has vanished after being sprayed with the fake Makiron.
“Eh!?” The girl, who had been struggling to get the slime off, freezes from surprise over this sudden occurrence.
“Hey, you okay?” I take out an unused, clean, towel from my backpack as I say that, and hand it to the smaller girl, who’s sobbing.
She takes it from me and, while wiping her face and the places where the slime clung to, she keeps looking my way.
“H-Huh? The researcher?”
Now that I look closely, I remember that face.
“Umm…Ms. Saito? Right? What a coincidence.”
Once I say that, the taller girl with the cool surname, whatever it was, looks at my face and says, visibly surprised, “You’re right! The one who was sticking to Ms. Miyoshi, umm, what were you called again?”
“It’s Yoshimura. …You were called Mrs. Mitsurugi, weren’t you?”
“Yes. Thank you very much for saving us. But, is it okay to apply that liquid to a person?”
Well, since it burst open the slime, which she couldn’t get off no matter what she did, she’s probably thinking stuff like that might be harmful to humans too.
“It’ll be fine as long as you don’t drink it or get it into your eyes. It’s something similar to an antiseptic solution. You can wash it off with water if you’re worried?” I take a 2 liter PET bottle out of my backpack.
“Thank you. Please let me wipe it off with this, just in case.” Mitsurugi thanks me, wets the towel with the water, and presses it against Saito’s chest.
“Umm, could I have you turn around for a bit…?” Saito asks while looking embarrassed.
“Ah, sorry. That was rude of me.” I hurriedly about face, in the direction of the square, and look out for slimes, for caution’s sake.
Behind me I can hear the rustling of clothes, and quiet voices, saying “It has just turned a bit red, it’s okay” and “It’s cooold.”
Guuuh, this sure has an unexpectedly destructive force.
The duo, who took the short training course with Miyoshi and me, introduced themselves as Mitsurugi Haruka, the boyish, tall, conservative beauty, and Saito Ryoko, the cute type that seems like she’d be popular.
“It’s ko, you know!? Ko in these times! Jeez, it won’t change even when I marry, okay!?” She blew up over something weird there. 1
One is a model and the other is an actress, they both just started working at the same agency, or something like that.
I really shouldn’t take Miyoshi’s profiling lightly.
“But, as you’d expect from a researcher, really.” Saito, who has fully recovered, says in admiration.
“Even though we couldn’t defeat it at all by beating or pulling it, you simply finished it off with a spray of that atomizer. Is that some kind of secret weapon?”
“Well, something along those lines.” I answer while smiling wryly.
“Is that being sold on the market? I didn’t find anything like that when I was researching dungeons.” Mitsurugi has been talking to me politely ever since I rescued them.
“Nah, it’s something we made several days ago, so you won’t be able to buy it yet.”
“I see.” Mitsurugi looks down, disappointed.
My weakness to emotional appeals is why I have a reputation for being weak to advertisements, but well, nothing I can do about it as it’s my nature.
“Umm, if you have a special need, I can share some with you, though.”
Her face, as she quickly lifts it, is flushed, very childish, and sporting a serious look.
“Jeez, you’d make a good actress y’know, Haru-chan? And here I couldn’t even get him to give me his business card,” pouts Saito.
I see. So Saito was an actress and Mitsurugi a model, eh? But sure, if I had to choose one, I’d favor Mitsurugi. It’s not like it’s two times a good deal with her being androgynous. I just like conservative beauties. When I told the same to Miyoshi in the past, she laughed scornfully, saying, “There’s no point in ranking the numbers in a null set.”
“Is it true that you’re wrapped up by an aura if you accumulate experience in a dungeon?”
Aura? Is she talking about the light when plasma, which descends along the lines of the magnetic force, excites the oxygen and nitrogen atoms? Blah, that’s an aurora.
Being asked with such a serious look, I was so taken aback that I gave myself a retort. Her eyes are serious. I have to…have to answer something here.
“Haru-chan, you see, is right now at a threshold.”
“Threshold?” I ask back.
Saito, who had started to speak about something like that with a serious expression after sitting down on a rock, suddenly looks like the mature one here, instead.
“Yep. Thresholds are nice, you know? They are vague. I like that.”
“The threshold between adults and children, the threshold between the Earth and space. A moratorium-like2 area that looks like you have to decide something on a first glance, but until you finish making up your mind, you’re tolerated even if you don’t decide anything. That’s why I think it’s cozy.”
This girl, that’s her true character, eh?
“But, there are also people who aren’t like this.”
Mitsurugi appears to be a gravure model. It looks like she got even as far as being allowed to appear in shounen and seinen magazines of Kodansha, who have always put in a lot of effort into photogravure, at some point, but no matter what she did, she falls behind in the reader’s votes. Her slender, androgynous appearance is unsuitable for gravure, I think.
“Taking your proportions, appearance, and on top of that, your height, aren’t you more suited to fashion catering to those of the same sex, rather than those of the opposite sex, Ms. Mitsurugi?”
“Yeah, yeah, Mr. Researcher knows what he’s talking about. It’s cause you’re trying to switch towards that, but that’s tough all of a sudden, right?”
“Well, it sure isn’t easy, I think.”
I don’t really know, though.
“Since a little while ago, there’s even the word of ModGrav woman for it, and so far as it goes, you’ve got connections in the agency as well.”
“If I’m going to do business with that, the composite and the book won’t be an issue, but during interviews I’m often dropped at the end, being told that something is still lacking.”
“Composite or book, you say?”
“A composite is a collection of documents, kind of like a business card. Your work history, your body sizes, and so on. A book is, well, something similar to a photo album of yourself.”
“So, if you’re continuously told 『still lacking』, you’d wonder just what it is, right?”
“Hmm, I guess so.”
“And since Haru-chan is so damn serious, she took the trash talk about something like aura that some stupid guy from somewhere told her seriously.”
“Aura, isn’t that something you feel like someone has attained when their personality comes through?”
“Right? In the first place, it’s not like something like that comes out of your body all of a sudden.”
That makes sense. No matter how amazing an actor you might be, it’d be a disaster if something similar to electromagnetic waves imprisoning the hearts of others were to come out of your body. Though I can’t deny that there might be skills such as “Charm” or “Charisma” among skill orbs by some chance.
“From a researcher’s standpoint, I wonder whether being able to optimize your movements, for example, might be something related to auras.”
“What do you mean?” Mitsurugi, who had merely listened to Saito’s and my conversation, suddenly latched onto those words.
“In other words, when you’re expressing something through your body――”
“Yeah. Also, expressions or line of sight expressing emotions in case of an actress, or the way of walking to show off the most beautiful clothes silhouette in case of models.”
“Well, I think you’ve been thinking about such things already.”
“However, if we speak about whether your body moves according to those intentions, it’s not like you can do that.”
“Even if it’s just picking up a cup on a table, humans have to control their bodies so as to achieve that goal, while feeding back the information gained through the body’s sensors.”
“Optimizing your movements means, to put it frankly, moving your body according to your thoughts without even the slightest deviation, I think.”
“Human senses might feel uneasy by the slightest deviations because they can be very sensitive towards the finest details.”
“The mysterious effect obtained by killing monsters not only increases your strength, but also enhances your body control and your agility.”
“In short, as long as I kill monsters, I can gain those abilities?”
“I think even normal training would work here, though.”
“There are heights I won’t reach with normal training.”
Ah, right, this girl was the one mentioning that her own life is the betting chip, wasn’t she? Was she serious about that?
“Well, as for that, there’s this slightly big audition coming up in less than two months.” Saito adds an explanation of the circumstances.
“So she said that she’s going to do special training for that. While I wasn’t sure what it would be…really, for it to be defeating monsters in a dungeon of all things.” Saito says and mumbles, “If you injure your face, the foundation of your work itself will be gone, not to mention some audition.”
Saito, who has gone along with her despite this, might actually be a slightly nice girl, I think.
Two months, eh…? A meeting by chance is preordained. I start to feel like giving her some help.
“What I’m going to say next might sound retarded, but wanna have a try?”
And then I told them about the place of the dungeon boundary. While thinking, Yep, this is a boundary as well, isn’t it?
“First, if you enter the dungeon, you go to a place that seems to have many slimes with no people nearby.”
And then, once we enter the dungeon, we ignore the flow of people heading to the second floor, and enter a route with a hall right around the corner, immediately spotting a slime.
“Then, you spray it with a psshh…”
I actually spray the liquid on the slime, and once only the core is left, I quickly and lightly hit it, destroying the slime in the process.
“That’s how you destroy the core.”
“What’s important here is to not use too much strength. Keep in mind to hit it as quickly and precisely as possible.”
It’s because I had the vague idea that their SP might be preferentially assigned to AGI and DEX by doing that, if stats are built up depending on your actions. Mitsurugi nodded while diligently listening to me.
“And then, at the end, this is the most important part.”
Mitsurugi looks at me curiously, wondering what it might be.
“Once you defeat one slime, immediately move one step beyond the boundary I showed you, return from there, and then defeat the next slime in the same way. Even if there’s more slimes nearby, make sure to not kill them in succession.”
Both of them look at me with question marks written all over their faces. But yeah, even I’d look like that if I were to be told something like this. However, I don’t think they have any other choice if they want to get results in two months.
“I can’t think of this as anything but a waste of time, but does it have any meaning?” Saito retorts from the side.
It has! If you kill ten slimes in a row, the SP will become 0.059, but, if you do it like this, it’ll be 0.2. It’s more than three times as effective!
However, it’s not like I can say something like that. In the end I went with――
“D-Don’t look down on researchers.”
Saito glares at me for a little while, but then suddenly averts her eyes, saying, “Haru-chan, this man is suuuper thickheaded, but he seems like an excellent researcher…is what I feel.”
“It’s fine. I will do as instructed.”
I forbid them to speak about this by warning them, “You mustn’t mention this to anyone since it’ll be a violation of confidentiality in various ways,” and hand them two spare hammers, and two full bottles of something-onium.
“Why two sets?” Saito asks curiously.
“You’re going to keep her company anyway, aren’t you Mrs. Saito?”
In response, her cheeks blush a bit while she looks vexed.
“However, it’s not good to even throw a single fragment of stone at the slimes you’re each going to defeat. Make sure to kill them completely independently.”
“And, once your bottles are empty, I can give you new ones if you call me.” As I hand my business card to Saito while saying that, she smiles impishly while commenting, “I finally got your business card.”
Afterwards I accompanied them in killing several smiles.
“Well～ This is easy.” Saito happily lifts up the bottle.
“Make absolutely sure to not be seen by others.”
“I know, I know. But, all this moving around is troublesome.”
Each time we defeat a slime, we leave through the exit, and move to the dungeon’s boundary. Although it’s a short trip, it sure is troublesome, I suppose. However, this is important.
“Don’t cut corners, and make sure to return to the specified place.”
“I got it. But, if there’s no effect after doing all this, you’re going to hear a full array of complaints from me later.”
That sounds quite terrifying.
“I-It’ll be alright. The rest is repetition.”
“Thank you very much.” Mitsurugi bows politely.
Basically, this girl does conduct herself elegantly.
“Lastly, can I have you take notes about the number of slimes you defeat?”
“Mmh? Sure, no problem.”
“Well, I guess that’s all,” saying so, I leave, while wishing them good luck.
Because I even gave them my spare hammers, I ran out of equipment.
- Her first name is 涼子 (Ryoko), the kanji mean something like cool breeze child. It’s a female name meaning “beloved child that’s cool/refreshing/calming.” The ko here refers to child. It should also be noted that using “ko” at the end of female names is a bit outdated, although it’s not shunned or anything. In the past it was standard to use “ko” at the end of female names. Saito is likely blowing a fuse over it being an old way to refer to a girl + it meaning child, which she obviously doesn’t want to be seen as.
- The moratorium here means something else than the usual deferring payment. It’s more about adults not wanting to grow up. They live in their own world, not working, or if just fickle doing this or that. Kind of like rejecting the reality of normal everyday life. It’s not about social recluses. Just a refusal to act like a normal adult