The dungeon exploration was going smoothly.
More specifically, we are simply hunting monsters in a place we are used to, so I wouldn’t really call it ‘exploration’.
But our current equipment isn’t reliable enough to advance to the next floor, and there were other things I wanted to do.
Rifreya has experienced till the 4th Floor, and Grapefull said that she can act as the scout for the 3rd Floor.
That’s why they are matching me in the hunts at the 2nd Floor.
Well, our monster hunting pace is abnormal, so Rifreya said that we would profit more here than forcing ourselves to hunt in the 3rd and 4th Floor.
However, the increase in viewers is beginning to stagnate. There’s a need to go to the next step.
It was in the afternoon of the next day when I ordered my dagger at the blacksmith, the monster I was waiting for finally appeared.
“Rifreya, please test out if you can defeat it with only my assistance. There’s no need to push yourself. Make it as fast as possible. If we are going to lower floors, I want to test if we can defeat a powerful enemy in around 1 minute.” (Hikaru)
“Got it.” (Rifreya)
My teamwork with Rifreya has reached pretty good sync levels.
Shadow Bind only lasts for a short time, but it has strong instantaneous binding power.
If one properly uses that momentary opening, you can aim for an assured critical hit.
Rifreya and I have been spending these few days trying to match the timing.
The mantis enters the category of not being as aggressive as the other monsters in this floor.
Different from the goblins and the orcs that come at you in groups, it is the type that slowly approaches you and ‘swish!’.
That’s why, as long as a scout finds it first, it is possible to run away from it. They even sell smoke bombs for the sake of that.
I hide in the darkness and slowly approach the mantis.
Rifreya closes the distance as if showing off her greatsword.
The strength of the mantis is pretty simple.
Its power and speed is higher than that of an ogre, and the ends of its arms are long sickles. In other words, it is different from the other barehanded monsters; they all have weapons. Those sickles can even take an attack from the greatsword of Rifreya, so it has outstanding physical strength and sturdiness.
Thinking about it normally, that thin sickle should break in one hit, but I have never seen it break.
You can’t tell a single expression from the praying mantis head.
The brawny human upper body has no useless meat in it, and even though it is a monster, its shape was admirable.
The lower half is that of an insect, and 4 legs are supporting its upper body, and it looks like it would be hard to crumble its balance.
I have defeated it once when I helped out Rifreya, but…now that I think back on it calmly, I am impressed I managed to defeat such a strong monster like a mantis.
By the way, mantises apparently show in the 4th and 6th Floor. In other words, that’s the level of monster it is.
People apparently don’t know why it shows up in the 2nd Floor.
When the distance between Rifreya and the mantis was around 10 meters, I widened the range of Darkness Fog. At the same time as I did this, I summoned Night Bugs and began the attack.
Monsters react to presences inside the darkness.
When it reaches the level of a mantis, it can react by attacking even inside the darkness, but by increasing the amount of presences with Night Bug, I can suppress its movements.
On top of that, I can expect it to also dampen the presence of the approaching Rifreya.
“[Shadow Bind]!” (Hikaru)
At the same time as Rifreya reached killing range, I undid Darkness Fog, and without missing a beat, I sealed its movements with Shadow Bind.
The restraining power of Shadow Bind is the strongest when it is casted, and then it will rapidly lose its power, and the monster gets freed pretty soon after. The effective time differs between monsters, but I would say it doesn’t even amount to 30 seconds.
It doesn’t bring much confidence to use it to immobilize someone, but as an ability that can create an instant opening, it is incredibly useful.
In other words, if you hit a bind at the same time as an attack is done, the opponent won’t be able to evade or defend. Moreover, right after coming out from the darkness.
That’s the team attack between me and Rifreya.
One deadly blow.
Moreover, it is a full power attack from a greatsword that’s the size of a human.
It must carry unspeakable power.
The downward slash of Rifreya that carried her whole weight hit the mantis and it perished.
A Spirit Stone one size bigger than that of an ogre falls and rolls on the ground.
It is unfortunately not a Chaotic Spirit Stone, but it is colored -a Wind Spirit Stone.
“It went well. If it works against a mantis, it should somehow work with the 3rd Floor monsters too.” (Hikaru)
What’s scary about a dungeon is the possibility of other monsters attacking you while you are fighting. In order to avoid that, they use scouts to ensure a preemptive strike, and finish the battle as fast as possible; these two factors are vital.
If you can defeat a mantis in 20 seconds, there’s close to nothing that is dangerous in the 2nd Floor anymore. Of course, being careless can be fatal though.
We probably won’t have problems in the 3rd Floor either.
According to Rifreya and Grapefull, the 3rd Floor -the Straying Big Mist Garden- apparently doesn’t have monsters that come in groups, and it suits our party.
Whatever the case, I won’t be able to know unless I actually go, but this result gives me confidence.
“It is to the point that it is going way too well… To be able to defeat it in one hit is just…” (Rifreya)
“Rifreya, that’s amazing-nyan! I have been a scout for a long time, but I have nyever seen a party that can defeat a mantis in such a gallant way-nya.” (Grapefull)
“No, the amazing one is Hikaru. It didn’t even have to be me. I think a Silver Rank or higher warrior would have been able to produce the same result.” (Rifreya)
“No, it is important to be in sync. This is because you trust in me, Rifreya. If you had hesitated even for an instant, the timing would be missed and it would have been blocked.” (Hikaru)
If it gets blocked, the rest would be a muddy battle.
It would be possible to win, but it isn’t a smooth way to, and the chances of getting injured would increase.
The battles against monsters in this dungeon are ‘hunts’.
You should create situations where it is one-sided.
Of course, experiencing muddy battles is also important.
“Alright, let’s finish for today.” (Hikaru)
“Then, we will be going to the 3rd Floor from tomorrow on?” (Rifreya)
“No, let’s take a break tomorrow. We have been fighting the whole time for several days straight, so the fatigue must be accumulating, and the weapon must be ready by then. After getting it, I want to practice with it by swinging it around a bit or something.” (Hikaru)
After exiting the dungeon, we head to the guild.
It is to sell the Spirit Stones and report to them, but I asked Rifreya to do that.
Reporting to the guild is also for the sake of increasing the ranking of the explorer, so you normally have to go with everyone, but it is okay for the representative to report it. Of course, there’s the need to register as a party first, and most of the time, there’s the need for the representative to be silver or higher rank.
Well, if it is okay with just the representative, having the representative be of a high trustworthy rank is obviously a method to avoid any fraudulent things like increasing the rank of a person that didn’t actually participate in the exploration.
In that sense, you could say that silver ranks and higher are trusted.
I am close to saving enough for the shortsword, but getting 20 silver coins for myself in just a few days is quite the pace. The guild buyer seems to be pretty surprised by that too.
A Bronze Rank -Spiritus- must pass 3 months or sell Spirit Stones 30 times in order to raise their rank to the Ebony Rank -Dryad.
My rank is the lowest Bronze -the sixth one. A bronze earning this much apparently doesn’t have much precedent.
…Well, I am partying with the Silver Rank Rifreya, so they seem to think I am just sticking to her.
By the way, in order to raise your guild rank, you have to take a test.
They want to avoid any foul plays (like buying Spirit Stones) in raising the ranks.
“Then, let’s meet again the day after tomorrow.” (Hikaru)
“U-Uhm…Hikaru, can I go with you to the smithy tomorrow? I am free anyways.” (Rifreya)
“That’s fine by me, but…I have some business in the afternoon, so only in the morning, okay? I will come pick you up in the morning.” (Hikaru)
“Yay. Then, I will wake up early. Promise, okay?” (Rifreya)
It turned out this way.
Now then, tomorrow will be a busy one.