A small bus with twelve men raced along Russia’s Federal Highway A105 through Moscow. The sun had already set. Along the highway, weakly basking in the sun’s afterglow, signboards using English letters were closely lined up here and there, and a big Huawei Mate 20 Pro advertisement was affixed to a railroad overpass. After all, it was the 21st century. An era where McDonald’s, Pepsi, a Hardrock Cafe, and moreover Starbucks could be found at Moscow’s Arbat Street, and the Matryoshkas sold in gift shops, which had souvenirs written on their signboards, were made in China.
After they drove for a little while, a cylindrical, futuristic, building made out of glass, which looked like part of the arms of the Derelict Ship from the movie Alien, came into sight. It was the Domodedovo International Airport.
The men silently got out of the bus, each only carrying one small piece of hand baggage, and turned to the person inside. That man, wearing a uniform, also came out of the bus, and said, “It’s been arranged for you to get your gear at the embassy.”
A man nodded lightly, saluted, and turned on his heels. Together with the other men, he blended into the airport’s terminal. The badge on the uniform of the remaining man displayed a B mark in Cyrillic characters.
After the deadline on the end date of the auction passed, we returned to the surface. Over a period of two days, we moved around between the ninth and twelfth floor, while giving the scouting parties, very likely from several countries, the slip. Given that we spotted Japanese people mysteriously camping at the entrances of each floor at the end, they were apparently trying to at least figure out which floor we were on by sending in reinforcements from the JSDF or similar.
Because they should have been expecting the real gig to go down on December 1st, the nations of the world were probably shocked when we returned to the surface on the day before that.
After returning to our office, I quickly check the last bid, and cry out in reflex, “416,142,000,000 Yen!?”
Wait, is it still going up? What the hell?
“Within the realm of public finance, it’s almost exactly as much as the annual budget of the Mie or Gunma Prefecture. Or, if we’re talking about actual expenditure, it’s at the level of the Saga Prefecture, exceeding the Shimane Prefecture.”
Is that so? The budget of the prefectures is unexpectedly high, isn’t it? ──Wait, that’s not the friggin’ point here!
“As expected of an Oumi trader. You sure are calm ’bout this. I’m totally trembling over here.”
“Senpai, if this was auctioned following the traditional bidding rules, it wouldn’t be weird even if it had gone beyond ten billion Dollars, you know?”
Ah, now that she mentions it, there was some special rule for the automatic time extension this time, wasn’t there? So the auction is actually over now I guess.
“The last raise was 210 billion Yen. So the twelve seconds apparently expired even when the other bidders added a hundred million, a billion, ten billion, and a hundred billion.”
In short, the bidders were still in the mood to go on with the bidding, I suppose.
“Besides, in the eyes of us commoners, ten or a hundred billion make no difference. Since we simply perceive both values as absurdly high sums, neither bears a sense of reality.”
Well, she’s definitely right about that.
“So, which place won in the end?”
“The bid winner is…this one, probably the DAD. It’s odd that an ID apparently belonging to the DoD had competed with them until the very end…”
Not the USDA, but the DAD? Moreover, they competed with the DoD despite both being from the same country…? Are they on bad terms?
“Because the NATO member-nations, and the countries that signed partnership agreements with them all suddenly dropped out midway, hasn’t it turned into a competition between fellow American organizations? India and the Middle East soon followed the other countries as well, so I believe intense negotiations happened behind closed doors.”
“You’re saying they’ve bid while cooperating with many countries or something?”
“Even if we’re talking about nations here, unplanned, high expenses at the end of the year will likely be difficult for all of them.”
“The issue is whether the country that won the bid will pass on correct information to the other countries, though.”
“I’m sure that part will be as complicated as military alliances, so they must have reached some kind of decent compromise.”
Well, there’s no point even if we worry about it. Still, assuming they persuaded and adjusted the interests of the various nations within merely three days after the auction started, the mediator must be fairly skilled.
“And the one orchestrating all this?”
“It’s just a guess, but isn’t it our country?”
“You kidding. What’s your reasoning?”
“There was absolutely no bidding from government sources.”
“It’s not at the level of the bureau director meeting held at the JDA, but absolutely no bids sure is suspicious. I guess you never know.”
The auction of the century has come to an end with this. Officially, that is.
“But, Miyoshi, what’re we going to do about this? Even if it hasn’t reached ten billion Dollars, it’s a bit too much money for a single party to earn, don’t you think?”
Although it’s only now, I’m worried about Miyoshi, who’s our public face. So far only her WDA ID has been publicized, but after such a showy move, and with the bid winner being something like a representative of an international alliance, it’ll probably be impossible to avoid a leak. If an individual obtains a large amount of money, strange fellows tend to come out of the woodwork…
“Are we going to build a factory for the stats measuring device?”
“It’s a product whose demand will peak as soon it becomes widely available. Since it doesn’t have any other uses, a factory churning out units might be too much.”
“Figures. Still, I think, a certain extent of industrial capacity will be necessary.”
“Afterwards, donation or maybe a fund?”
“In our case, something for the sake of explorers, I’d say?”
“A fund, eh…? Well, it’s 400 billion Yen, anyway.”
“Senpai, senpai, for normal merchants, there’s stocking up. Since you can make profit by selling them, it’s not like you’re going to share all of your profit, right? The buyer’s premium of an auctioneer is at most 10% for such an amount of money.”
I have the scales fall from my eyes after hearing that. I was thinking about things from our perspective, so of course we get the full amount. But, if you think of us as middlemen, our entire party would only get around 10%. I didn’t even think of that since the impact of the huge amount of money was too overwhelming.
“Even 10% is still quite a lot. We should try to consider that part a bit.”
Just as Miyoshi answers, her private phone vibrates.
“It’s Ms. Naruse.” Miyoshi says while looking at the caller’s ID.
I’m pretty sure she checked the dungeon exit records. She’s quite enthusiastic about her work, considering it’s a weekend night.
“Ah, Ms. Miyoshi? Good work. Naruse speaking.”
“Thanks. Something wrong?”
According to Ms. Naruse, the JDA is asking whether they should dispatch people from their side, given that the winning bid boasts such a huge amount of money. It’s not that we can’t trust the JDA, but putting aside the outside world for now, we turn down guards on our grounds. Currently the grounds of our office are dangerous, as four guard dogs are lurking in the shadows.
Unlike ordinary hellhounds, they’ve started to use magic, but not only Shadow Hide. How to describe it? Let’s call it magic for the sake of satisfying our demands.
“Listen, Arthur’s. Catching intruders and being my guards is your job.”
──ever since that exchange, they’ve started to use Shadow Pit, a spell that causes a hole to appear at the target’s feet, dropping them into a prison of darkness, and Shadow Bind, a spell that binds the target with a darkness rope, which causes abnormal conditions like paralysis and sleep. Not limiting it to just that, they’ve even begun to do things like moving across shadows. Moreover, all the spells have been christened by Miyoshi.
“With this, our guard protocol will be flawless,” Miyoshi rejoiced, but I have been trembling in fear, wondering whether some ordinary salesman or a door-to-door solicitor of a religious organization might not fall prey to them one day.
Furthermore, those guys seem to like magic crystals. They obtained the skeleton crystals, which Miyoshi had been examining, by begging her, and gnawed on them while looking really happy. They see our food as luxury stuff, but we’ll be in a bind if magic crystals become their fodder. After all, in terms of available stock at retailers etc., they’re more than rare. I’d like to be spared from going out to get new magic crystals every day. I’d be more than happy if they could think of magic crystals as reward snacks.
Three brawny men had gathered in a room on the fourth floor of La Fontaine, a five-storied condominium next to their office’s grounds.
“It looks like their team came back.” The dark blond Adams said while setting up monitoring devices on the veranda.
“So the room’s hand-over barely made it in time, huh?” Their leader Curtis checked the pair of man and woman walking from the gate to the office through a scope.
Adams, Beats, and Curtis had been ordered by their country to watch the house in front of them together with the other two, Denver and Ecle.
Around half a month ago, a big shot with connections to the government called Thomas had apparently been led around by the nose after getting involved with an Indian, but creating a base by going as far as deliberately buying up the condominium behind their office because of that alone sounded weird, no matter how you spun it. Moreover, the team was composed of just a few people as if telling them that it was no more than a wait-and-see approach for the time being. If they had genuinely needed to gather secret information, a lot more people should have been dispatched. Thus, they couldn’t quite get rid of the feeling of a mismatch.
“So, what’s to be found in that house?” Adams, who had finished setting up the devices, asked while entering the room.
“What, Adams, did you sleep during the briefing?”
After Beats, who had finished the cleaning of the room’s interior, showed up from the foyer room while shoveling up his bright light brown, close to red, hair, and teased Adams, he made his report to Kurtis.
“There’s no bugs. All clean.”
“Well, I do understand that it’s the home of the guys who started the orb auctions, but…what are we actually supposed to investigate?” Adams asked while booting up and tuning the remote laser listening device he had set up.
That part has been kept ambiguous at the briefing. Even if we’re told to investigate, it’s kinda difficult to move if they don’t make it clear…whether we should investigate the secret allowing them to hold orb auctions, discover some kind of illegal acts, or grasp their weaknesses to be used for negotiations.
“I’m pretty sure, the higher-ups aren’t certain themselves either. That’s probably why they’ve told us to gather information for the sake of pinpointing that.”
Kurtis indicated a direction while studying the rent information of the condominium they were using, and a detailed map of the neighborhood.
“I’d say our most urgent task is to grasp the movements of our targets around the first of the next month.”
The acquisition of the <Different World Language Comprehension> in question was originally supposed to happen on December the 1st.
“Isn’t it unreasonable for us to investigate even the dungeon’s interior?”
Even half a month ago, Denver and Ecle, who had accompanied Thomas, were apparently skilfully warded off.
“The DCU (England’s Dungeon Capture Unit) folks are going to handle that part. Our side will focus on SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) on the surface.”
“I’d really like to be spared from being forced into doing stuff like industry espionage, though.”
Everyone mostly shared Adams’ opinion on that, but orders were orders. Kurtis only nodded lightly at his words, and returned to checking the information.
Left and right of the target are private houses with contracted security companies. It might be possible to trespass the grounds, but it’ll be a pain if something happens. There’s a road on the other side, so it’s only this building located in the back that’s actually suited for surveillance, but for some strange reason, there had been seven cases of families moving residence in this place very recently. All that despite this building being a five-storied condo with only thirty apartments.
“It seems there’s droves of guys in the same business as us bustling around here, no?”
“Are we going to remove them?”
That damn Beats is way too hotblooded.
“No, this country is a paradise for spies, but they’re extremely good at criminal investigation. If sparks fly our way, we’ll have no choice but to dispose of them, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to act as firestarters.”
Very likely, the other parties are thinking the same, Kurtis shrugged his shoulders. There’s no point in sabotaging each other when it comes to non-hostile countries. But, it’s necessary to keep an eye on where they are going.
While thinking, he looked down through the window at their investigation target’s house. The building, which had been erected right in the middle of a somewhat big plot, was separated from all adjoining plots at equal distances, which would likely make them stand out quite a bit if they were to invade the grounds.
Moreover, if guys in our trade are watching, we’ll definitely get spotted. If we don’t make sure from which country they are in advance, it’s quite likely going to be used as a chip against us in the future. Having said that, I think it’s not like not doing anything would be an option either…
The game board is the plot in front of my eyes with 70 square feet. Depending on the circumstances, seven teams are going to ruthlessly compete in such a small area?
“It might possibly turn into a truly troublesome job.” Kurtis muttered, looking depressed, and closed the materials.
The three had at first believed that gathering the information on an ordinary family would be simple with a safe and sound, remote wiretapping. However, each time they booted up their devices, they were struck by the realization that this wasn’t a house that could be handled by ordinary means.
Adams, who wore big headphones, shook his head as if giving up, “The laser wiretapping is being completely blocked off.”
With just noise against wiretapping being circulated into the windowpane of an ordinary home, it’s equal to announcing that something is hidden in there. However, that’s something we’ve known from the very start.
Even Beats, who wore another pair of headphones, also took them off, and said, “The sound collector is also no good, I guess.”
To the bitter end, the house’s outward appearance was that of a normal home.
“How about going through the telephone line?”
In response to Kurtis, Adams shook his head as they had apparently taken countermeasures against that.
“I guess that means, in the end we’ve got no other choice but to directly go in and plant bugs.”
We have no option but to trespass into the house for the sake of smoothly carrying out our intelligence gathering. Be it concrete mics or camouflaged wiretaps, we won’t be able to even set them up if we don’t make our way to the house. However, assuming we try to do that, it’s set in stone that’ll be discovered by the other intelligence units.
“Still, there are no relevant buildings, so we’re truly in a bind here.”
“I’ve checked the placements of the newspaper box, the air-conditioner’s outside installation, and the ventilation fans, but…”
Every single one of them has been placed in truly nasty locations, making it even seem as if they’re traps.
“It’s a completely detestable house.”
“It’ll become dark soon. Are we going to scramble?”
Kurtis considered it for a while, but then nodded, obviously having resolved himself.
After a short time, Miyoshi ends the call with Ms. Naruse.
“So, what did she say?”
“She’ll stop the dispatch, but it looks like Ms. Naruse is going to come over.”
I look up to our office’s clock. It’s past 6 p.m.
“Quite the workaholic, isn’t she…?”
“Well, if you look at it from the JDA’s point of view, it’s a job worth 40 billion Yen.”
Now that she mentions it, the JDA’s handling fee was 10%, wasn’t it? Wait, isn’t that way too much? Only now I slightly feel the absurdity… (while deliberately ignoring the buyer’s premium though).
“But you know, I don’t really think that Ms. Naruse is the type that would go out of her way to visit a business partner on a weekend evening for the sake of her job.”
“Sometimes I don’t quite get whether you’re thickheaded or perceptive, senpai.” Miyoshi laughs, adding, “She’s probably just worried.”
I think so as well.
“But, her timing couldn’t be better, could it?”
“I mean those SoraHoto characters.”
“Oh, I see.”
I suppose it’ll be a good opportunity to try asking her about them while she’s here anyway.
“It’s a writing style combining classic Hebrew and Aramaic, but it appears to be written with old Hebrew or Phoenician characters.”
Once Ms. Naruse, who had soon after arrived, sees the photo data of the SoraHoto characters, she immediately uses a friend as intermediary, and manages to get in contact with a person of the theology department of the Doshisha University. It seems to be a university department distinguished even within Japan for its language study related to the Bible. I hear they also give lessons on Hebrew and Aramaic.
Even the person introduced to us appeared to be excited about a commission by the JDA, and immediately provided us with the translation. All of this despite it being 8 p.m by now…
“What’s this? So complicated.”
“The Hebrew letters were originally derived from Aramaic letters, but because the Aramaic letters borrowed characters from the Phoenician alphabet, the Aramaic alphabet mostly overlaps with the Phoenician alphabet, I guess.”
“Also, as ancient Hebrew letters means they were used to write Hebrew before the Hebrew alphabet was put to use, it seems to also overlap with the Phoenician alphabet at greater parts.”
“Oh, so that’s why you can write them while mixing them together?”
“Yes. And, with classic Hebrew apparently having little vocabulary, it looks like the text in question has added Aramaic for the vocabulary.”
“But, I wonder why they’d use classic Hebrew?”
“Isn’t it because it’s the language of God?” Miyoshi carelessly comments.
“What a ridiculously sophisticated act of grandeur.” Out of reflex, I smile wryly at Miyoshi’s words which are totally fitting here.
“God resided in heaven, and then moved to the Internet, and now he’s started living in a dungeon, at long last, you say?” I ask while pointing to the sky, then to my PC, and finally to beneath my feet.
“The guy, who translated it for us, has left us an interesting comment.”
“He said that it’s as if an AI, which got in touch with the literature of that era, learned the language while considering Hebrew and Aramaic to belong to the same language.”
AI, eh? If dungeons have intelligence, it might really be something like that.
“So, what’s the essential meaning behind that text?”
“The pedestal’s part uses very roundabout expressions, but in short, it seems to say, 『Oh wanderers, touch onto the wisdom of the true grimoire』.”
“And the gatepost?”
“Wandering mansion, it seems.”
The part about 『true』 must refer to the original copy of 『The Book of Wanderers』. However, it’d be absolutely necessary to translate it in order to touch upon its wisdom. I wonder just what the hell’s written in there.
“So…just what’s this mansion you’re talking about? Don’t tell me, this can be found in YoyoDun? As far as I know, something like this has never been reported, though…”
Miyoshi and I look at each other, but then immediately start to explain the events we experienced in our dungeon run.
“…In other words, you’re saying, as long as you meet certain conditions, a 『Wandering Mansion』 will appear on that floor, continuing to exist until the end of the day?”
“Just so you know, those are merely our conjectures.”
“So, about that mansion──”
“Ah, I think it’ll be faster to simply show you.”
I lower the blinds of all our office’s windows, retrieve the memory card with the video edited by Miyoshi, and play it on the 70 inch monitor in the reception room.
“It’s after we’ve entered the mansion. The video comes from the action cameras installed to our helmets.”
Miyoshi has removed the sound. Well, I’m sure it’s because she’s embarrassed about her own scaredy-cat-lines appearing.
A little while after sunset, two men stood in the shadow of the fence below the condominium, wearing inconspicuous, black clothes. An unmoving man was laying at their feet, but it was unclear whether that person was dead or simply unconscious.
“This is Alpha. Weasel seems to be tired. Over.”
“This is Base. Roger. The picnic will go down as planned. Out.”
“These guys will be OK, right?”
“If you kill in Japan, it’ll turn into an obstacle for later activities. It’s troublesome, but we’re just having them sleep for a while.”
“Then it’s fine. Now then, it’s time for a picnic.”
“Base, this is Alpha. We’re starting. Over.”
“This is Base. Alpha, roger. Out.”
Adams finished the transmission, and quietly climbed over the garden’s fence. Because trees and plants were growing around the fence, he likely wasn’t worried about showing any opening at this point in time. A garden that seemed to be completely harmless spread out in the visual field of his night vision goggles, but there was no doubt that he’d be noticed by some country’s team, monitoring this place just like them.
But then again, even if we are exposed, I don’t think they’ll know our affiliation, so they shouldn’t interfere with our job.
However, there was no need to pointlessly brave danger. Adams traveled between the trees, taking a roundabout path to the house’s side. In front of him merely laid the defenseless garden, just as it had been all the way here.
My first goal is the ventilation fan located on the side from here, at the outer wall of the living room. I’ll quickly get close to the house, and quickly plant the bug. That’s all there is to it.
As Adams was waiting for a good chance for a little while, the blinds of the living room were lowered.
“Uh-oh, our chance has come.”
With all blinds on the first floor lowered and the light leaking from inside the house almost completely gone, Adams counted down with hand signs, informing Beats behind him of the timing to rush out. At a count of zero, Adams jumped out with a low body posture, and ran the shortest distance to the targeted wall…that was the plan.
However, in the next instant, his consciousness blacked out.
Beats, who had watched him from behind through his night vision goggles, didn’t understand at all what had happened. He felt dumbfounded for a moment, but immediately contacted Base, obviously confused.
“B-Base. This is Bravo. Alpha has vanished──in front of my eyes!!”
“This is Base. Vanished?”
Kurtis, who heard this in a room of their apartment, called out to Alpha in panic.
“This is Base. Alpha? Hey, Alpha! Come in! Over.”
However, the transceiver remained silent, barring any kind of answer.
On the fifth floor of the same apartment building, the local Japan team of the US had taken up position after being contacted by Yokota. They had been monitoring their target’s, Miyoshi Azusa’s, residence starting with the beginning of November, and when she moved her residence to this place, they followed suit.
While at it, they also kept an eye on whether Team Simon would pull something off, but it hadn’t been expected for them to yield any results on that side. In the first place, they had no means allowing them to suppress those supermen and -woman besides relying on the DAD’s command structure.
“Whoa! The idiots that just moved in today immediately went into action.”
Larry, who had nightwatch duty, informed his buddy Kayama.
Kayama, who had been munching a cheeseburger which he had ordered for take-out, immediately rushed in front of the monitor of the night vision camera, and cracked a joke, “They should know they’ll be hated, if they’re too quick.”
“They’ve got quite the trained body movements going for them.” Larry said while watching the two figures skilfully climbing over the fence and swiftly moving towards the front entrance while using the trees as cover.
“If they’re going that way, I suppose they’re first going to install a concrete mic at the living room’s outer wall.”
“We might have to do that sooner or later too, so let’s use them as ref──haah?” Larry spontaneously cried out when he saw what happened on the monitor in front of him.
“Hey, he vanished!? How’s it going on your side?”
Being asked, Kayama carefully checked all monitors, but he couldn’t spot the figure, which should have rushed out, anywhere.
The other guy seems to be doing something at the preparatory spot, but…
“I can’t catch him over here either.”
“What? Those guys aren’t actually special forces of Japan, having already implemented optical camouflage or something, right?”
Hearing that, Kayama thought in Japanese, The only thing people have implemented are high bills to rip off high T&E expenses. 1
While answering, Kayama rewound the recording, playing back the problematic scene a second time. Even after watching it frame-by-frame, the milliseconds of difference between before and and after the disappearance showed no variation except the person being there and then not.
“This won’t go anywhere with 30 fps. We’ll need equipment with a better frame rate.”
Having said that, he couldn’t believe they’d send such high-level equipment and the necessary personnel over for a simple observation like this, though.
“Isn’t our country in deep shit if they’ve put such stuff to practical use?”
“No, the person in the rear is trying to get away in a hurry. After seeing this, my guts tell me that this was an unplanned disappearance.”
“What about their transmissions?”
“As if you could normally hijack military communications nowadays. It might be a different matter if we had access to the analytic parts of the NSA’s and Echelon’s systems, though.”
As Kayama stuffed the half-eaten cheeseburger into his mouth, he frowned, seemingly disgusted by its taste, and washed it down with cold coffee.
“Well, that’s around as much we can do with the equipment we have at hand here. If we make a report, the higher-ups will handle the rest, right?”
With those words, he curled up the burger’s wrapping paper, and made a long throw, aiming for the trash bin in the room’s corner. The paper ball flew through the air, hit the bin’s edge, and bounced upwards once, before falling into the bin at the end.
(Senpai, immediately after you lowered the blinds, they apparently caught someone.)
(Hmm, I guess they might’ve been curious what’s going on inside. Still, the cockroaches sure are careless.)
(I think later they’re going to want magic crystals again, you know?)
(Please limit it at least to the skeleton ones. Ah, afterwards, we’re also going to entrust her with that box, aren’t we?)
(You’re giving it to Ms. Naruse after all?)
Miyoshi casts a fleeting glance at Ms. Naruse who’s completely focused on the monitor.
“She’s suitable, isn’t she?” I whisper to Miyoshi.
“Well, you might be able to say so.”
“I don’t mind having you do it, y’know?”
“She’s suitable! I’m going to fetch the box!”
Miyoshi turns around in a hurry, and flees in the kitchen’s direction. Just where’s that girl planning to go to take out the box that ought to be in her <Storage>?
“So, what happened?” Kurtis asked Beats who came back totally flustered.
“…I don’t know. Adams started to run, trying to reach the house, and then suddenly vanished after taking several steps.”
“He vanished, I’m telling you! All of a sudden! How else should I describe it so that you understand!?”
“Doesn’t…Doesn’t the wireless connect?”
“There’s no reply.”
Even after listening to Beats and playing back the camera’s video, there was no new information. What they knew was no more than Adams having suddenly disappeared in front of Beat’s eyes. He simply vanished without any heat or light remaining at the spot.
“These guys might be too much for us.”
Kurtis started the preparations to urgently contact their country.
It was a little while afterwards that Ms. Naruse finished watching the video.
She sinks back deep into the sofa, as if all the tension during her concentrated watching has left her, spits out a long, deep sigh, and looks up to the ceiling. Seeing that, Miyoshi begins to brew some coffee.
“Is something wrong?”
“About everything? Just what the hell is this?”
“Yeah, those eyeballs at the end were quite gross, weren’t they?”
“Not that! No, wait, you’re also right about that…”
Ms. Naruse shuts her eyes, obviously brooding over something, and once she opens them again after some time, she suddenly asks me, “So, how much of this do you plan to report?”
“Even if you ask me how much…we’ve simply informed our Lady Deputy Chief, so there’s no how much or how little, is there?”
“Eh? Oh, y-yeah, that’s right, isn’t it!? Then it means it’s alright for me to report all of this to my superiors.”
I crack a shady smile, and at the same time, Miyoshi offers her a coffee.
“Oh, thank you.”
After waiting for her to take a sip, I clap my hands together.
“Now then, that’s all for today’s work as deputy chief.”
Hearing that, Ms. Naruse’s shoulders jump up.
“By the way, Ms. Naruse.”
“Yes?” She answers, obviously being wary.
“Do JDA staff members have their D-Cards regularly checked or similar?”
“No? Apart from the tablet-shaped device that appeared from the 『The Ring』 located at WDA headquarters, being used for the ranking lists, we can’t control D-Cards in the first place, so the WDA cards are in use for the usual management operations. I think the only occasion requiring D-Cards is the verification of skills when joining a party.”
Nice, so it’s just as I’ve heard back during the short course.
“Got it. Then, Ms. Naruse.”
“What is it?”
“Won’t you try using this?”
I place the aforementioned titanium box, containing a <Different World Language Comprehension> orb in front of her, while attempting to go with a devilish gentle smile.
“This is a skill orb case as it’s being used by D-Powers, isn’t it? Telling me to use it…”
After I urge her with my eyes to open the box, she timidly follows suit, and the instant she touches the orb laying within so as to check the skill, she audibly freezes solid.
Miyoshi signals her to not shout out by placing her index finger in front of her lips. Miyoshi has been insistent on installing wiretapping preventions, including measures against laser spying, but you’re never sure who might listen to an unnecessarily loud voice.
I nod slowly.
I nod once more.
I nod a third time.
“P-Please wait a moment! W-Why me!?”
“Well, you see, this won’t last until the delivery anyway.”
If you consider it normally, it’s just as I say. After all, the delivery has been set to take place on December the 2nd, but right now it’s the evening before December the 1st.
“Even if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be fine for you, Ms. Miyoshi, or you, Mr. Yoshimura, to use it?”
I silently shake my head, “It’s obvious after grasping the meaning of the Phoenician characters just now. I believe we need to know the contents of the epitaphs and grimoire as fast as possible.”
Ms. Naruse bobs her head.
“If we consider who’s going to get in contact with many epitaphs and information pertaining to them among us, you’re the most suitable one, Ms. Naruse.”
Above all, she’s a JDA staff member. Moreover, right now she’s in a fairly good position. There’s no doubt that she can obtain a lot more information than us ordinary explorers. Of course, the WDA makes the epitaphs available to the public, but it’s probably a privilege of its staff members that they can get access to data, which is as close to the raw information as possible, a lot earlier. If it’s us, I’m pretty confident about not even knowing what’s being publicized to what extent.
“You’re not wrong about that, but…”
“It’s not like we’re actually telling you to spy for us. The objective is to get access to information of the published data, that’s as unfiltered as possible, and to translate it correctly. However, I think it’d be better for you to hide that you can read it.”
It’s quite possible that she’ll be kidnapped if it’s found out.
Ms. Naruse swallows her spit, “Still, people who are much more suitable such as researchers…”
I reject her idea by shaking my head.
“Such people are cut off from society. We need someone who can freely translate in their position while remaining hidden in the process for this project.”
“Project?” Ms. Naruse tilts her head to the side in confusion.
I retrieve the project draft drawn up by Miyoshi inside the dungeon, and hand it to her.
Seeing it, she mutters in surprise, “Epitaph…translation service?”
Indeed, it’s a plan to launch an anonymous website, and make translations of the publicized epitaphs available to everyone on the Internet. Since it’s going to only be a posting of translations for the epitaphs that have been publicized, there’s no reason for it to turn into a problem. There exists no copyright for the epitaphs, after all. Although it’s likely going to be flamed for being absolute bullshit.
Having read the document to the end, Ms. Naruse spontaneously burst into laughter.
“Hahaha, what’s up with this website name?”
“I think it’ll work.”
『Heaven Leaks』 2 is written on the document. It’s the rip-off of a certain website leaking confidential information. It’s written as 『Heaven Leaks』 in Western languages. As for the bad pun, it might be cryptic if you don’t understand Japanese, but it’s not such a bad idea to leak information from God’s domain. Besides, since the West regards Japanese as cool for some odd reason, it’ll be fine like this. It’ll quite likely be called an old man joke in Japan, though.
“However, no matter how often I hear it, that still sounds quite cringy, doesn’t it?”
“It’s alright, since that’s the aim here.”
“Even if you were to make such a website, no one would take the translations on it seriously, would they? Though I think it’s an interesting idea,” Ms. Naruse inclines her head to the side.
“Outrageous, occultish sites are a dime a dozen nowadays, so it’s not like our website would be shut down for that reason, right?”
“Well, I can’t argue that.”
“Besides, we’ll insist that we’re just running the server and domain without having any business with its contents. The Japanese Newspaper Association has published a declaration about editorial rights in 1948, and we’re just going along with that.” I laugh, adding, “Well, the truth might be plain obvious though.”
Ms. Naruse curbs her eyebrows, sighing very deeply.
“Besides, about the contents…”
“In the first place, there will be two organizations definitely knowing whether what’s written on the website is true or not.”
The two organizations possessing the orb.
“I believe it’ll work as deterrence against these two organizations trying to conceal information or spread lies.”
After all, it’d earn them a big backlash if either gets exposed to the world.
“And, there’s one more thing.”
“What could that be?”
“Currently, the dungeon epitaphs are generally handed over to the WDA and then publicized, correct?”
“But you know, when many countries reach the point of possessing <Different World Language Comprehension> in the future, those epitaphs will be hidden, if things stay like they’re now.”
Seeing how it’s the dungeons’ wish, the number of people capable of reading epitaphs should eventually grow. The more of an advantage their contents will give to those knowing about them, the higher the probability that the countries will keep newly discovered epitaphs hidden.
“I’m aware of that. But, somehow I can’t believe that <Different World Language Comprehension> will become so common.”
“In any case, I believe by publicizing the translations now that <Different World Language Comprehension> hasn’t spread, it’s possible to influence the course of events into trying to obtain information by making it publicly available rather than translating it by relying on the power of one’s own country.”
It’s something like interdependence in economics. If you already have what you need while having the possibility to supply it at reasonable costs as it’s being used widely, there’s no need to produce something similar while stemming the costs yourself. Nowadays it’s somewhat dodgy if it comes to national security as there exists a precedent with a major Chinese company 3, but well, for the most part this theory applies either way.
“Besides, if we’re talking about credibility, I think it’s possible to prove that the website’s postings reflect the truth if the translations contain completely new information that can be checked by anyone. I’m confident that such information definitely exists within the epitaphs and grimoire.”
I don’t know what kind of person the dungeon creator might be, but if that creator has set the table up to such an extent, there’s no way that such information can’t be found within the epitaphs and grimoire. Components similar to Earth’s RPGs are included as core of this guy. I’m 100% sure of that. On top of that, the creator is trying to increase the dependence on dungeons by tying it to profits and stirring interest in dungeon exploration because of that. All of this might sound like a far-fetched delusion, but in reality, it’s the only feasible explanation to me.
“With that said, please go ahead.”
Ms. Naruse, who has been fixedly staring at the orb, closes her eyes as if having resigned herself, and touches the orb with her right hand. Immediately following, the light from the orb creeps up her arm, and gets fully absorbed by her body. It’s the birth of the world’s second different world translator.
“She didn’t say anything about stopping to be human or similar, did she!?” Miyoshi saying so as if playing the fool, causes everyone to burst into laughter.
It’s been nine months since I’ve started translating this series, and in about two months we will reach the end of LN Volume 2. I really love this series, but the number of readers is very low, as you can easily see from the followers on NU for example. On top of that, my editor for this series has quit a good while ago due to RL reasons, so 056 will be the last chapter with editing.
This month I’ve started to run an ad on FB to draw in some more readers, but there’s only so much one dude can do.
If you really like this novel, and wish it to be continued at its current release rate past Volume 2, try to drop a review or a post on forums etc. to get this novel the attention it deserves. 🙂
- This is a pun that doesn’t really carry well in English. It’s a play on 光学迷彩 and 高額明細, both spoken as Kougaku Meisai. First means optical camouflage, second high bill.
- It’s written as hibun riikusu. Hibun is the pronunciation for epitaph (碑文). So it’s a word game by the author.
- A/N: The events in this novel and so forth are faithfully following the year 2018, even in the small events that have taken place in public parks, but it’s an actual fact that Mrs. Meng had been arrested on the next day, December 1st 2018. T/N: This is a reference to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei, in Vancouver.