015 – Form a group with your close friends #4
“Amidst the chaos caused by the entrance ceremony incident, now is the time. With everyone’s minds preoccupied, there are more opportunities for us to accept the quests we want.”
“Entrance ceremony incident? What’s happening right now?”
“It’s something like that. Right now, everyone’s focused on something else. We’ll be in a secluded field, just picking peanuts then. You get it?”
It seemed that Nike couldn’t quite accept the idea of hunting monsters to improve her grades.
Why should hunting monsters be related to grades, anyway?
I had no choice but to provide a brief explanation.
“The founding purpose of this Prison Academy is to raise heroes worthy of the gods’ playground. Martial arts are the true achievements worthy of heroes. In fact, written exams and practical exercises are just secondary objectives for cowards.”
In D&A, written exams, practical tests, and other events were all considered side quests, designed for gamers who kept dying or failing in dungeons.
Study hard, improve your knowledge and skills through written exams and practical events, and then go to the dungeon. That was the deal.
For some reason, in this world, adventure and exams had swapped roles. However, the achievement points and rewards remained the same.
“I understand that too, but it’s not like people study to improve their grades for no reason. Is it because hunting monsters is difficult? It’s not like we have two lives.”
Nike’s point was valid.
We didn’t have retries.
If we died while hunting monsters, it was game over.
“That’s why we spend money.”
“Like getting equipment…?”
“No, you’ll understand when you see it.”
I headed to the “Adventurer’s Guild”, where I could request monster hunting missions. The Adventurer’s Guild was one of the places where you could find like-minded companions in a party-like atmosphere.
“But it’s surprisingly quiet.”
The place I had expected to be bustling with activity was strangely empty, with only one robot-like creature sweeping the floor.
Why was it so quiet?
Even if it was an entrance ceremony event, it was weird that no one was here.
For your information, that one doesn’t count as a person.
「Request. Did you come to request a mission? 」
It was a stiff, robotic voice, and it had a single wheel for a lower body and a Lego-like upper body.
「Mission Assistant – Albaroid」
In short, it was an Alba-robot!
It was nice to see you again.
But it looked more worn and rusted than I remembered.
Was there no manager?
Nike blinked her eyes a few times.
“This, it’s an automaton, right? It’s my first time seeing an automaton! Actually, it’s my first time coming to the Adventurer’s Guild!”
“Is that so?”
“Made by the technology from the gods, right? It’s amazing. How does it move?”
Well, in a world that straddles the medieval and fantasy genres, seeing a robot is indeed fascinating.
“I envy it. Not eating and not sleeping. How much could I save on food…?”
Was it weird to have such thoughts upon seeing a robot?
“Nike, don’t mess with it. If you break it, we’ll have to pay.”
“Well, I know that much.”
I stood in front of what looked like a vending machine in the corner.
It had a coin slot-like part, but it was actually a slot for inserting 500 Rene.
I inserted 500 Rene.
The old machine made a rattling sound as it operated, and finally, letters appeared on the black and white screen.
「Subjugation: Woof Woof Growl Bark!
Please catch the noisy ‘Plains Wolves’ that make a ruckus every night.
Achievement reward: 50,000 Rene, Strength +1.」
“It’s a Tier 3 request. We should appreciate the fact that it’s working as expected.”
As I expected, it offered Rene and stat bonuses as rewards.
Rene, well, it’s known to provide permanent stat bonuses.
If I carry out what’s written here, my body will actually become stronger.
The exact principles aren’t detailed.
It’s a magical engineering device created with the transcendental technology of the gods.
And it harmoniously operates with the magical metal currency, ‘Rene’, which is the only one that can activate it – that’s the vague feeling I get.
That’s why Rene, exclusively mined and used in Ludens, holds such a high value.
Because Rene has the power to alter reality.
However, Nike was startled by this incredible miracle.
“Plains Wolves? Those are incredibly dangerous creatures! You’d need at least thirty people to barely catch two or three of them!”
You need thirty people to catch Plains Wolves?
That’s quite a surprising story in its own right.
How much lower can their standards be?
“It’s not someone else’s story, but mine too.”
I also can’t catch those Plains Wolves right now.
So, I inserted 500 Rene again.
“Victor, what are you doing? You’re spending 500 Rene like crazy!”
“Swamp Alligator Extermination. It’s a Tier 2 request with good rewards, but I didn’t get what I wanted this time. I’ll try again.”
“Drake Elimination? How can we do that right now? Next.”
“…500 Rene could buy half an egg!”
Nike shouted as if she had gone crazy in this bizarre reset situation.
It had been ten minutes since we stood in front of the vending machine.
The missing amount was 100.000 Rene.
“I haven’t eaten lunch today…!”
“Think of it as an investment. Trust me, Nike.”
“…How long are you going to keep doing this?”
“Until it comes out, naturally. You shouldn’t be scared. The probability is roughly one in a thousand. If you throw in about a thousand times, it’s bound to come out.”
Ah, just trust me.
* * *
Only the sound of coins rolling filled the hall. Even after spending 2 million Rene, the desired list still didn’t appear.
As far as I knew, there were quite a few Tier 1 requests that offered rewards, and when you calculated the required probability to catch ‘that one’, it was about one in a thousand, roughly.
So, after spending 500,000 Rene or maybe even 1 million Rene, it should have come out by now.
Am I really that unlucky?
Well, honestly, I can’t say I’m lucky in my current bizarre situation.
f Victor didn’t have his steel resolve, by now, his hands and back would probably be drenched in sweat. It might be due to my mood, but the back of my head stings as if to say, “I told you so.”
“Just wait a bit. It’s coming. Just a bit more. It’s almost there! If we stop now, everything I’ve invested so far will be meaningless!”
“You call that the sunk cost fallacy! You’re continuing because you think the money you’ve spent is wasted! Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, now is the time to stop!”
The Earth Mage, Nike, knows about the sunk cost fallacy?
Is she really a C-class student?
“Isn’t your father into stocks, Nike?”
However, Nike’s statement was incorrect.
“It’s definitely not the sunk cost fallacy. It’s coming out. Just a bit more.”
“Stop it! Get away from the vending machine!”
I kept busy, inserting Rene without a break.
Maybe, as Nike suggested, it’s the sunk cost fallacy.
Perhaps there’s an unknown variable within this vending machine’s reality. Like a change in probabilities due to added DLC – or something.
No, that can’t be it.
I’ve spun the roulette, checking most of the Tier 1 to Tier 3 request lists. They matched what I remembered and organized.
If so, there is definitely that too.
So, when I had spent around 3 million Rene…
「Subjugation: Spring Wildling Extermination!
Spring has arrived, and there’s a rumor that Spring Wildlings are appearing in the canyon.
Please eliminate them. 0/5.
Reward: 5,000,000 Rene. Distinguished Adventurer’s Token. 」
Nike shouted in shock.
“Even a little stimulus can make them explode… I heard if you get caught in their explosions, there will not even be a trace left…”
“Just a little stimulus to make them explode? Those must be the creatures I’ve been looking for. This is the only Tier 1 subjugation request we can do now. They even give Distinguished Adventurer’s Tokens.”
“…How do we even catch these guys?”
Spring Wildlings aren’t really a big deal.
They literally explode if you touch them.
What’s truly scary is Ludens Island itself.
“Nike, there’s something I need to check. What’s your health level?”
Nike, a little startled, gave me a slightly wary look.
“Don’t ask that so casually. You know, it’s like…”
That’s personal information, I guess.
In this Prison Academy, everyone is a competitor.
Having one more secret up your sleeve is an advantage.
“Is it above or below 50? That’s all you need to tell me.”
At the lower end of 50, I’d say it was around 20 or 30. Since HP increases by 1 for every 1 health level, I’d say Nike’s health is around 20/30 dots.
For reference, I, Victor, had 83 HP.
My HP total was also 83.
“Why are you asking that, though?”
* * *
Ludens Island is full of various natural environments, from magma-filled lands to freezing mountains.
There are hidden mysteries in places where humans would find it challenging to survive.
Among them is the Toxic Gorge, which is, as the name suggests, a canyon filled with toxic fumes.
In the game, you would take damage even by just standing still; 1 damage per second, to be exact. So, with Victor’s HP of 83, he could survive for 83 seconds there.
If I could obtain 「Song of Purification」, obtainable from Act 8, I could ignore poison damage. But currently, it’s impossible for me to obtain it.
So, I used this method:
The “HP Boost Strategy with Luxury Fragrance Soup”.
The effect of Tier 1 food, 「Luxury Fragrance Soup」, is simple. When used, it instantly recovers all HP and increases the total HP cap by 200 points.
With this, even with Victor’s HP of only 83, he could endure for more than 200 seconds in the Toxic Gorge.
“Nike, are you ready for the Toxic Gorge? It will be stinging in your throat and eyes, but can you endure it?”
“Me? I’m actually fine… But is this really going to work…?”
“Then, let’s go.”
We entered the gorge located outside the academy’s field.
As we descended the steep path, the yellow and thick fog started creeping up from below, eventually covering our throats and faces.
It was quite stinging.
What should I say?
It was like doing chemical warfare without a gas mask.
My eyes stung, my nose was freezing, and my throat was itchy.
But Victor was a lot stronger than I thought.
“It’s more bearable than I thought.”
Yes, he could keep his composure even in this situation.
Perhaps it was because of the Quirk «Steel».
Could it be that the attribute offers resistance to poison damage?
With my current HP at 283, using the «Steel» attribute, I could theoretically survive for over 500 seconds in this environment.
Still, it was necessary to keep the countdown.
Unlike in the game, the current remaining HP was not displayed.
“Are you okay, Nike?”
“I can endure it! It’s quite bearable…! There were poison areas in the Leshgad Forest too. It’s somewhat similar…! My throat feels a bit spicy, but…! As a dark mage, I must endure this!”
Nike was tougher than I thought, too.
Maybe it was because of the vibes she gave as a street magician.
We cautiously proceeded into the Toxic Gorge, where visibility was limited to just a few steps. As we ventured further, we finally spotted the creatures lurking in the gorge.
It was a bright red, round creature with a body made of a viscous liquid, and it had two particularly yellow eyes.
It was a type of Wildling called ‘Spring Wildling’, similar in appearance to the slimes.
I picked up a nearby rock and threw it at the creature.
The creature, clearly agitated, exhibited an expression that seemed to indicate anger. Unable to contain its rage any longer, it finally exploded.
「Spring Wildling defeated: 1/5」
“It worked. Nike, did the text appear for you too?”
“Yeah, I saw the text!”
Yes, it is possible, it is possible!
「Luxurious Fragrance Soup」 and Spring Wildling Grind, available starting from the second time the Mysterious Forest opens!
“Nike, let’s collect the creatures’ drops as well. Even though these creatures live in such places, their remains can be valuable cooking ingredients.”
“Cough, I see… I can’t believe there was a way like this… Did you really plan for all this to happen?”
“I can’t deny it. However, this method is not something that can be used multiple times. If this method becomes known, others might follow suit, and the seeds of Spring Wildlings could dry up. So, we should make the most of our beginner’s advantage.”
Nike and I diligently roamed through the toxic fog, throwing rocks to provoke the creatures.
Once we reached our limit, we consumed the prepared soup to fully recharge our energy.
As time passed like that, I was able to quickly defeat the five.
In this way, over time, we managed to defeat five of them easily.
Unlike other Tier 1 monsters, these creatures were relatively easy to find and capture, even if they weren’t as strong.
“It’s not as time-consuming as I thought.”
“Really? That’s surprising. Well, let’s get out of here soon; I’m getting a headache.”
Thanks to «Steel», my HP had more leeway than expected. So, I took the opportunity to pick up the ‘Inscription Stone’ available in the Toxic Gorge.
「Inscription of Old Memories #3: The god of the anvil and the hearth said, “Isn’t it a shame that only we get to enjoy this perfect island?”. So the gods decided to select the eighth dice caster. Gilgamesh, the king of humans, was chosen as their representative…」
“Sure enough, it was under the rotten tree. Pretty straightforward. And this should be enough for my role in the group project.”
Group project research.
Gathering cooking ingredients.
And even earning 5 million Rene and Distinguished Adventurer’s Token.
Wasn’t this enough to invest about 2.5 million Rene?
I didn’t do it because I wanted to gacha.
* * *
We were able to return to the interior of Ludens Academy before the sun set.
“I’m exhausted. I feel like I’m going to vomit. It’ll take a few more hours for the poison to dissipate… Cough. My head is throbbing too… Ugh.”
“We’re almost there. Straighten your shoulders.”
It was quite chaotic inside the academy when we arrived, and you didn’t need to look to know that.
“Daily, did the monsters invade?”
“Yes, it was Rugaru and the spider creatures. The transfer student managed to repel them, but you know.”
“Is that so.”
“That’s how it was – no, it wasn’t! Man, it was amazing! He swung the sword, and it split in half! Of course, he got in trouble for using illegal weapons on campus.”
Daily was buzzing with excitement.
Indeed, that seemed to be the case. As I looked around, students had gathered around the corpses of monsters, whispering things like “an amazing transfer student…” or “the one who defeated Victor…”
Even without my assistance, the protagonist, Luke, had done a great job.
I felt a sense of relief.
From this episode onwards, Luke would become a “Special Weapon Holder” and help solve various issues around the academy.
“More importantly, Victor, what on earth is that red thing? Did you get hit by a bomb? What’s that awful smell…”
“Wait a minute, what’s that in your hand? Could it be that red, Spring Wildling mucus!? That thing is a Tier 1 monster! It lives in places filled with poison…”
Daily, once again, showed remarkable quick-wittedness.
How did he even know it was Tier 1 monster mucus?
“Oh my, Victor!”
The second-year newspaper club vice-president, Daily, began shouting loudly in my ear, intoxicated by the poison.
“Victor, you, a guy who got expelled from the student council and can’t even wield a sword, hunted a Tier 1 demon? Now!?”
“Is there a problem? There’s no regulation against it.”
I did something legal and regulation-friendly.
It had a touch of veteran savvy, but it was not legally problematic.
So, there was no reason for them to take away or return what I had obtained.
Isn’t that right, Victor?
However, Daily seemed to have something on his mind.
“You’re truly a hopeless case, Victor.”
“What do you mean?”
“Because you’re trouble-free! This story can be sold! This is a marketable commodity! It’s not the time to be writing about Rugaru invasion in the school newspaper!”
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