“And that’s why we’re heading into the dungeon right away?”
We quickly wrap up the entry formalities for Yoyogi early in the morning, and immediately begin to head to the lower floors, taking the shortest route. Today there’s no need to shake off our pursuers.
“No, you see, we gotta get <Different World Language Comprehension> today, right?”
“Well, sure, but…is it going to be the ninth floor after all?” Miyoshi says looking annoyed by the daily dungeon runs.
No, look, for me it’s a pain as well, okay?
“Yep. Since we got them to experience the tenth floor the other day, I’d definitely like them to have some fun with the colonial worms on the ninth floor today.”
“That’s what you say, but it’s not like you’ve actually experienced them yourself, have you senpai?”
“Seeing pictures of them is more than enough for me. In the first place, I’m pretty confident that I’d lose any drive on the spot, if I encountered worms like that in reality.”
“And yet you’re luring others to such a place? Are you a devil?” Miyoshi frowns at me as if to say that I’m a terrible person, but her lips are forming a smile.
“Besides, look, if we can have all teams hunt colonial worms, a stomach-like item, like the one you mentioned before, might drop, right?”
After all, colonial worms are the prime example of monsters that aren’t hunted by anyone. In short, not enough of the worms have been killed in the past to allow an estimate on their item drops. Since such a chance might never show up again, I’d like them to go all-out on hunting them.
“Turning them into sacrifices for the sake of confirming the drop items; how nasty.”
“With that smile on your lips, you’re an accomplice as well. Besides, if it’s a team possessing weapons allowing them to attack a bigger area, kinda like suppression fire, they should be able to somehow handle those, no?”
“Scouts possessing Squad Automatic Weapons or similar heavy weaponry?”
“Those folks all got assault rifles.”
“All of this sounds to me as if they’re going to run out of bullets in no time, though.”
A magazine has 30 bullets, doesn’t it? Even if they have three magazines each, they’ll burn through it in an instant assuming they fire their rifles on auto…
“Oh well, I think those guys are the elites of their armies, so I doubt they’ll die in a place like the ninth floor.”
It’ll leave a bad aftertaste if they’re killed, but the information of the ninth floor has been disclosed, and explorer teams chasing after us up to such a place won’t be done in so easily, I believe. It might turn into a trauma for them, though.
In order for us to be able to hunt long enough on the ninth floor, we must advance at a fairly high pace. After all, the limit is today.
“Having said that, we can’t put out a speed that leaves our pursuers in the dust either, can we?”
“I think a G-Rank party leaving pro scouts in the dust on a simple route would be the much bigger issue here.”
Sure, she’s right. If it’s some complicated route, even lower ranks might give professionals chasing them the slip for a moment, but the same happening on a set route with no obstacles at all would be weird, to say the least.
I advance at a fast running speed while making sure with <Detect Life> that our leeches are with us. Even so, we’re going at quite the speed, considering we’re inside a dungeon, since we haven’t been cautious of monsters at all, but let’s pretend that’s the foolishness of amateurs.
“I had expected that they might have doubled their personnel, seeing how we toyed with them before, but it doesn’t seem so.”
“Well, you know, it’s kinda difficult to double the number of foreign explorers, and moreover, people, who received special training, in merely a day.”
Makes sense. If they had that much leeway in personnel, they’d send them in from the very beginning.
As we continue to descend, passing several floors, I notice that it’s always the same kind of people in the vicinity of the descending staircases.
“Miyoshi, you noticed?”
“Noticed what?” Miyoshi looks confused as she turns her upper body back towards me while walking in front.
“There have been people whenever we went down the stairs.”
“That’s only logical. We’re still in the upper floors.”
I place a hand on my chin as if pondering, “No, that’s not what I meant.”
“What is it then?”
“I think they smell like observers.”
In all parties one person has been wearing a big backpack, no matter how you look at it, that totally seems to be a communication device. After we toyed with them, making them chase us around, the Japanese folks have apparently changed their approach.
“But, they won’t be much of a bodyguard unless they manage to follow us, you know?”
“The ones who’ve been trying to guard us are the guys of the security department, right? Those guys are much more military-like.”
“So what is it that you’re saying?”
“I think they’re JSDF members.”
If it’s okay for them not to guard us directly, they’ll be fine as long as they can confirm on which floor <Different World Language Comprehension> drops. In which case, it’s the most efficient method to deploy someone at the entrance and exit of each floor since they just gotta spot us there.
“This is the strength of organizations that can quickly deploy personnel.”
“Should we disguise ourselves then?”
“Now listen…what would be the point in that?” I say while rolling my eyes.
Even if they know what floor we’re on, that information by itself bears very little meaning. Miyoshi definitely enjoys running away or giving the slip way too much. I have no doubt that she’s already lost sight of our objective.
“This isn’t a game of tag or hide-and-seek.”
“Eeehh? What’re we doing here then?”
“What, you ask…”
For now, we’re posing, telling them that we’ve come to get <Different World Language Comprehension>? Or something like exchanging with another explorer inside the dungeon?
“It’s a pretext for the sake of claiming that we’ve come to pick up <Different World Language Comprehension>, no?”
“Ah, so that’s why we’ve been staying closer than usual to the passing explorers?”
The greater the number of people we get close to, the more difficult it should be for them to narrow down the target.
“But then, wouldn’t it be much smarter to run around in the upper floors where there’s a lot more people?”
She’s absolutely right. You can’t really say that there’s any need to particularly come down to the ninth floor.
“Well, it’s also because I wanna get a tiny bit of revenge.”
Being monitored all the time feels quite yucky, so I feel like putting our observers in a tight spot.
“In other words, you’re acting childish?”
“Come on…you could phrase that a bit nicer!”
While trash talking like this, we drew close to the passing explorers or tried veering off the path in a somewhat meaningful manner. But in the end, we still reached the eighth floor at a considerably fast pace.
“Hmm? It looks like there’s several coming.”
Of the four groups that have been stuck on our tail, three have taken routes that seem to be shortcuts, trying to get ahead of us. I guess those three groups are here to confirm our current floor. If they reach the stairs descending to the ninth floor before us, they’ll know when we don’t pass them, that we’re taking action on the eighth floor. I’m sure they’ve adopted this strategy to avoid being toyed with by us like yesterday.
However, the movements of the remaining group are different.
“Several members of a group that has been tailing us, apparently couldn’t hold back any longer.” That group has been swiftly shortening their distance to us. “There’s six of them in total. Still, they sure got serious quickly.”
They’ve split in three groups of two, spreading out so as to pincer us from spots where we won’t be able to see them.
“What are we going to do?”
“Even if you ask me…Arthur’s is already on the move.”
Cavall and Aethelm have apparently started acting.
“Well, they got excited as it’s an enemy obviously heading this way with hostile intentions.”
“Maybe we won’t get a turn in this?”
It happened all of a sudden. No, I don’t really see what has actually happened. The men moving in front of me suddenly disappeared.
The remaining two reflexively stopped moving, took cover behind a nearby tree, and scanned their vicinity. However, be it above, beneath or all around them; there wasn’t anything that could be called a presence.
“What happened? Did you see?”
“No, it looked like they suddenly vanished in front of my eyes.”
A person abruptly ceasing to exist is impossible. Even if he’s been attacked with a silencer, a corpse has to be left.
He tried to call the men using his wireless radio in an attempt to somehow collect himself, but no reply came back. On the contrary, he also tried to contact the team that had gone around to the other side to inform them of the situation, but──
“Why won’t they answer!?”
“There’s no way that all the wireless radios broke at the same time.”
In short, there was only one possible explanation.
“You mean, the other side has been annihilated?”
The one asked, nodded silently.
“No way…” With those words, he surveyed the vicinity once more.
At that moment, he heard a thud from behind. When he looked back, the man who should have been standing there was gone. Only the man’s automatic rifle was left, lying at his feet.
“H-Hey! Stop pulling pranks at such a time!” He shouted at a volume improper for their team, but only a thick silence answered his plea.
“Y-You gotta be kidding…”
We’re here after having the best training humanity has to offer. Being unable to even confirm the other side’s figures, let alone being incapable of doing anything, is beyond ridiculous.
Suddenly, as he stood still in a daze, the man heard the breathing of death from behind, a lukewarm, humid breeze tickling his nape. But, before he could turn around in surprise, his consciousness was plunged into darkness.
“So, what are we going to do with these?”
“Even if you ask me that, I mean…”
We groan, looking at six men laying in front of us like corpses. At this point, there’s only one organization that’d come to attack us. These are likely its members.
“They’re still alive, right?”
“That part seems to be OK, but assuming from the guy we captured at our office, I doubt they’re going to wake up within half a day.”
Right now we’re inside a dungeon, so it looks like throwing them all into a pit doesn’t work on this floor. It might be owed to space being different here. Going back while carrying them would be difficult, and we can’t even contact Mr. Tanaka in this place either.
“How about secretly depositing them at an inconspicuous spot inside the pork skewer shop?”
I don’t think that they’ll get attacked by monsters over there.
“Wau wau.” Cavall says something to Miyoshi.
“What did he say?”
“It sounds like it’d be tough for them to carry so much baggage.”
“Well, he might say so, but we can’t simply store them away──”
For the time being, we’ve completely disarmed them, and stored away all their belongings, but the men themselves are an issue.
“──Hmm, please handle it somehow.”
“He says that it’ll cost six magic crystals.”
“One per person, huh…? Wait, don’t tell me, you want six per person!?”
Hearing that, Cavall immediately averts his eyes to gloss things over, and whimpers quietly close to Miyoshi’s ear, “Uuh, wafuu.”
“He says, they will compromise at two per person.”
“The price has gone up!? Well, whatever. It can’t be helped, so please do what you must.”
At the same time as Arthur’s bark in one voice and fade into the shadows, the bodies of the six men vanish as well. Their destination is an inconspicuous spot at the camp located at the eighth floor’s exit.
“Hah, it sure has been quite the series of events this morning!”
“We’ve finally come this far. From now on, it’s time to start the main event.”
Afterwards we safely descend to the ninth floor, advance to an area where colonial worms spawn while taking our pursuers along, and loiter around over there for a while. Then, after giving them the slip by moving around at full speed, we return to the surface, pretending to have achieved our objective on the ninth floor.
The folks who have been set on us around the stairs of each floor, should have witnessed our triumphant faces. I’d like them to firmly believe that the ninth floor qualifies as a place to obtain <Different World Language Comprehension>. Since all of them should be high-leveled, I don’t think that they’ll get injured on the ninth floor. They might suffer mental damage, though.
The instant I open the door of our office, Ms. Naruse runs up to us. She seems to be agitated, going by her faintly flushed face.
“Mr. Yoshimura! H-Here, look! Look at this!!”
In her hands she’s holding a copy of the literary fragment we obtained in that mansion.
“This is a major scoop!!”
Ms. Naruse seems to have downloaded as many of the epitaph pictures, stored on the WDA’s public server, and their properties (things like the dungeons and floors they were found at, and the finders) on a memory card as she could. Since she was somewhat afraid to get exposed, she downloaded them at a public WLAN spot. When she told me later, I praised her for being cautious. It’s very likely that she would have been exposed if our website suddenly goes online after leaving behind many access records from a JDA account.
If it’s a public WLAN spot, it won’t be possible to determine the user so easily, even if they trace the login. Even a police investigation has to first cross-reference the access point from the public WLAN spots and the illegal use of the WLAN by analyzing the logs. Then they have to stake out the vicinity of the place where a repeated access takes place, before finally going for the arrest. Given that it’d need to at least have been published as a case in the reports of the Security Measure Council, she must have felt quite relieved. I totally get her.
When she came to our office after finishing the downloads, and was about to start on the translation, Miyoshi apparently entrusted her with this copy. Because we told her that it was urgent, she translated this one first, and then──
“This contains information about how to form a party!”
“Party, you say…you simply fill out your name and ID into the specified form, and hand it in with the JDA, no?”
“No, no, no, not that!”
The fragment apparently describes how to form a party within the dungeon system. Moreover, it also mentions the effects you gain from forming a party. According to this, you can gain following advantages by forming a party with your D-Cards:
・ You will somewhat know the party members’ location even when apart.
・ You will know the members’ health (probably HP and MP or something like that) 1 ・ You can pass on your intent to other members by using something similar to telepathy. The range is 20 meters.
・ There are items and skills affecting the stats of all party members.
・ The experience share ratio of the registered members is set by the party leader.
“But why 20 meters? Does it have something to do with a factor of 13 again?”
Once I ask Miyoshi, she immediately looks something up on her PC.
“I had suspected that as well, so it’s probably about the Harshad Number.”
“It’s a nonnegative integer that is divisible by the sum of its digits when written in that base. In the case of 20, it’s 2 + 0 = 2. In base 10, 20 is divisible by 2. 20 happens to be the 13th harshad number in sequence.”
“What does that mean?”
“It’s a number discovered by an Indian mathematician. Harshad seems to mean harṣa (joy) + da (give) in Sanskrit.”
“I see, so 『Telepathy brings joy to a party』?”
It’s as cunning as ever, or whatever you want to call it.
“No, umm, that’s not the part I wanted you to comment on…” Ms. Naruse says with a dampened spirit after listening to our exchange.
“I guess we should try it out then.” I take out my D-Card while making sure that Ms. Naruse can’t see its surface.
D-Cards are necessary to form a party. All you have to do is to have those wishing to form a party touch their D-Cards together, and then get the person who’s going to become the leader to chant “Admit.”
The instant I follow those instructions, I feel like some mysterious connection is formed between Miyoshi and me.
“I wonder…did it succeed?”
(It looks like it did, I’d say?)
Ms. Naruse eyes me strangely when I look back at Miyoshi while reflexively crying out, surprised by the telepathic message reaching me from Miyoshi.
“Did you hear that just now?”
“Eh? You mean the 『I wonder, did it succeed?』?”
It looks like only party members can hear the telepathic messages. This is definitely convenient.
“No, but it appears to have worked.”
Hearing that, Ms. Naruse takes out her D-Card, apparently unable to contain her curiosity. “Is it okay for me to try it out as well?”
Once I chant “Admit” while touching Ms. Naruse’s D-Card with mine, I sense how I gain a connection with her, just as it happened with Miyoshi.
Ms. Naruse has apparently felt the same, seeing how she’s staring at our touching cards, puzzled.
(How is it?)
“Wh-Wha!? That just now was telepathy?”
“So it seems.”
At that moment, Ms. Naruse frowns, and says slightly uneasily, “Eh? But…what if everything you think is passed on with this?”
“Senpai’s perverted thoughts would get exposed!”
You! That’s slander!
“T-That’s a lie! I don’t think anything like that to begin with! Also, Miyoshi’s thoughts about being hungry haven’t streamed in either!”
“How did you know!? So they’re leaking through after all!?”
(Were my thoughts just now passed on?)
Suddenly being asked this by Ms. Naruse, we reflexively turn around to her.
“They weren’t transmitted.”
“It looks like they’ll only be sent around if you actively try to talk. This is quite amazing.”
Ms. Naruse alone has been checking things out calmly. Ugh, doesn’t that make us look like idiots?
“But, senpai, I wonder, how come this command is in English?”
“Admit, you mean…?”
Now that she mentions it, yep. Normally the text on the D-Card uses the native language of the looker. And yet, almost all keywords are in English. Come to think of it, the appraised names had an English translation written next to them as well, didn’t they?
“…The original language of the dungeon designer is English, or something like that?”
“That’s ridiculous,” Ms. Naruse spontaneously blurts out.
Well, I guess it’s only inevitable to have your sanity doubted when claiming that the dungeons have been created by a native English speaker.
“Maybe it’s possible, seeing how English is the language with the most users in the world?” Miyoshi suspects.
That argument sure has some logic to it, but…
“Wouldn’t it be Chinese then?”
“Which reminds me, where was Area 1 again?”
“Since it covers the longitudes 110° ~ 120°, it’s mostly around the western edge of North America. It’s an area including Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the US, and Calgary and Edmonton in Canada.”
As expected of a JDA staff member to smoothly have that information at hand right away.
“The English language part might stem from that place being the epicenter?
“But wait, senpai, didn’t recent news mention that Area 0 had been discovered in the Polar region?”
Hmm, I feel like I had heard such news as well.
“Yes, it seems a male Inuit obtained a Area 0 card in Canada.”
“I see. However, you see, I’ve got the feeling that it’s a somewhat likely reason…”
Maybe it’s a confidential piece of information that English will become important. For example, assuming Japanese people immigrate to some planet, and the civilization on that planet develops, then it would result in Japanese becoming the common language on that planet. And, if several tens of thousands years passed like that, it wouldn’t be odd for the same language to be in common use across the whole planet, I think.
If such civilizations exist on the other side of these dungeons, it might be possible that they misunderstood the language, which they got in contact with first, as our common language.
“Senpai, that still wouldn’t explain why you can see the text on the card in your native language.”
“About that, the most likely candidate here would be that the general concept is being fed back as information to the looker’s brain, but in that case, it wouldn’t be possible to explain the reason for the commands being in English, would it…?” I fold my arms, peering upwards.
“I don’t think we’ll find a solution to this, even if we wonder about it now.”
“Well, you’re right there. Wait, it was you who brought up the topic in the first place!”
“Tehee.” Miyoshi slyly sticks out her tongue, and immediately scurries away on the other side of Ms. Naruse.
I guess pets and owners resemble each other. She acts just like Arthur’s.
“Also, what’s the experience share ratio at the end of the text about?” Ms. Naruse asks while ignoring our antics.
“Guessing by the words, it’d mean the ratio of the experience points shared between the members while forming a party.”
“Experience points!” Ms. Naruse shouts with her eyes sparkling. “So they existed after all! And stats as well!”
Since the document also lists 『There are items and skills affecting the stats of all party members』, I think it only makes sense. Seeing how a ranking exists, experience points are considered to exist out of convenience, but it’s not like their existence has actually been proven. After all, humans are life-forms that accumulate experience in life.
Even if they actually felt like having become stronger, you could dispute whether it’s owed to a gain of what’s called life experience, a gain of something like experience points, or the addition of some mysterious power. However, the outlandish strength of the top explorers is nothing that can be achieved through gaining life experience, resulting in theories about an indirect influence by the dungeons.
“But, how do you set the ratio?”
It’s not like something similar to an interactive screen like with Making has appeared.
“Ah, that’s written in the fragment. It looks like you have to use the back of the D-Card.”
When I turn around my own card, I notice that the members of my party have been listed there without me even realizing it. Suddenly, Ms. Naruse peers at my card.
(Uwah! That’s dangerous!)
“Eh? What is?”
“Ah, no, you see…”
I panicked because it seemed that she’d be able to see my rank and skills, but fortunately only the card’s backside was visible.
However, Mr. Telepathy, don’t do anything unnecessary…
“Ah, no. I guess I just got a little startled when you brought your face close all of a sudden.”
I give such a lame excuse while thinking to myself, You think she’s a certain soccer player or what?
“Senpai is still a little boy in such matters.” Miyoshi adds as follow-up, obviously having understood what’s going on.
“Ah, haah…” Ms. Naruse turns slightly red.
“W-Well, leaving that aside, the list of party members is properly written on my D-Card’s backside.”
“Oh, they’re listed on mine as well. A list of the members belonging to the party, that is. I guess it’s the 33% added behind my name…?”
The one at the top of the list is the leader ─ in this case me ─ but the sharing ratio isn’t written next to my name. According to the grimoire fragment, the leader gets the remainder after deciding the share ratio of the other members. To change the share ratio, I just have to touch the member’s name on my card, and think 20% for example. Also, by simply thinking about an even split, the share ratio is reset.
“I’ve understood it for the most part, so let’s dissolve the party.”
It’d become a major issue if I accidentally activated telepathy and transmitted something that should stay hidden. I gotta be careful with this until I get used to it.
Just as with the addition to the party, you just need to chant “Dismiss” with the D-Cards touching to have a member leave the party. It’s also OK for the leader to touch the name of a specific member to dismiss them individually, or touch their own name to dismiss the entire party. Moreover, it has the mysterious and convenient feature of knowing who has been selected.
“Furthermore, the upper limit of party members──”
“Oh, that’s written in the fragment. It’s eight people.”
“Eight, eh? Somehow that’s very normal.”
Since it’s a number smaller than 13, I doubt that it has anything to do with a factor of 13. Unless it’s a value that increases or decreases.
“I’m pretty sure it’s because the name area on the D-Card’s backside seems to only have eight lines.” Miyoshi laughs, seemingly taking it as a joke, but she might actually be right here.
“Moreover…I’m also curious about what will happen if a person, who’s already a party member, forms their own party.”
“I think we should just try it out. Luckily there’s three of us here.”
First Miyoshi forms a party with Ms. Naruse as member, and then joins my party. Next, I form a party with Miyoshi, and then Miyoshi adds Ms. Naruse as party member.
Starting from the conclusion, all of it is possible. When someone being in a party joins another, P2 will be displayed behind the name of that member on the cards of the parent party, and R1 before their name on their own card.
“Does it signify that the target has joined a (p)arty?”
“Probably. Though it could also mean (p)arent.”
“What’s with the 2 then?”
“I think it means that two members belong to the target’s party.”
“Then, R1 would be…Relationship 1?”
“Maybe. Or, it could be their (r)ank in the party hierarchy of the party they belong to?”
We might have been able to test it out more thoroughly if we had one more person with us, but either way, it has cleared away any doubts about the possibility of forming child parties. There’s a lot of things I want to check out like what’ll happen to the allotment of experience, or whether it’s possible to create grandchild parties, but all of that is impossible right now.
But then again, if the numbers point to the hierarchical level, it makes the possibility of grandchild parties very likely.
“I wonder, are clans formed…by stacking up parent-child party relationships?”
Clans originally refer to Scottish family structures, but over time the term’s meaning has deviated, turning into a definition for a user community in games. Simply put, it’s a concept similar to a gathering of many comrades.
But she’s right. That possibility exists. By fellow parties possessing parent-child-relationship, it could be possible to create an infinitely big clan connected by telepathy and experience sharing. Just like with the literary fragment at hand, there might exist other fragments or epitaphs depicting information about clans.
“This is a major discovery, isn’t it!? We have to immediately publ──”
I interrupt the excited Ms. Naruse, putting a temporary halt on her drive, “No, Ms. Naruse. Please wait for a while.”
If we were to publish it right away, it’d turn into a question where we obtained that information. By no means could we simply say that we read the literary fragment of a grimoire. Besides, this──
“I’d like to use this as proof that the information of Heaven Leaks is correct.”
──can be immediately checked out by anyone as something that isn’t known by anyone else. It’s a piece of information that seems to have been perfectly arranged to prove the site’s credibility.