‘That sound’ that reached my ears was of course…
The bell sound of an antique clock that doesn’t fit an underwater dungeon.
“Where is this coming from…?” (Mitsuki)
The recovered Mitsuki shook her cat ears at the sound of the clock that can’t be seen.
I was about to say something to Mitsuki, but my vision stabilized before I did.
What I felt was a sensation as if being thrown out from the world, as if I am going to disappear.
“W-What’s this?!” (Sazan)
Sazan opened his eyes and raised his voice in confusion. What he saw in front of him was a space filled with clocks.
Inside this vast room that’s unnaturally composed solely of white, there’s several dozens of clocks of different sizes, or maybe even hundreds, floating in the air.
That alone was enough of a tell to understand that this is not a normal space.
“W-What about the Underwater City?! Why did we end up in a room filled with clocks…?” (Sazan)
As if answering Sazan who was on the verge of falling into a panic here…
“Thine souls have been imprisoned in the infinite circle of time.”
A voice echoed from somewhere.
“W-Who are you?!” (Sazan)
Sazan panicked even more and shouted this, but the owner of the voice didn’t get flustered at all.
Of course they wouldn’t.
That voice comes from the one that rules over this world.
There’s no way it would be shaken from the shout of Sazan.
“I am this world’s lord. Ruler of time, but living in the counters of time.”
“Rifts…of time…?” (Sazan)
Sazan muttered dumbfounded and looked at me as if he remembered something.
His gaze through his mask gave me the impression as if he were clinging onto me here.
I felt like there would be trouble, so I took one step forward and…
“Adventurer, find mine whereabouts!! That’s thine only means of escaping from the clutches of time—”
“Anyways, let’s go home.” (Sumire)
I slash the antique clock in front of me with my Shiranui and shut that voice up.
A clock that is slightly tilted, top and bottom split in two.
“Wa, ah, wait…! E-Eeeeeeh?!” (Sazan)
And then the confused voice of Sazan.
“Marvelous, adventurer, thine…”
I listened to the last words of that ‘voice’ and my vision stabilized once again -along with the sensation I am feeling for the 3rd time today and already getting used to.
“Aah, finally back…” (Souma)
By the next instant, we were already standing in the nostalgic Nekomimi Mansion.
I looked around and there were the same members as when we just left.
Sazan had his mouth wide open and was frozen in place, but it is Sazan, so that should be fine.
After confirming the safety of my comrades, I once again look back. There was the ‘Cursed Antique Clock’ event item that I had taken out from my bag right before leaving to the Underwater City, and it was on the ground, split in half.
Looking at the number, it stopped at 2:02.
(That was a lot rougher than I thought, but if we just look at the result, you could say it is exactly as planned.) (Souma)
But if we consider this as a playthrough to defeat the Demon Lord within 10 days, we will be facing even harsher days from tomorrow on.
For the sake of this…
“Then, let’s disperse for tonight. Good work today. Please take a most needed break in preparation for tomorrow.” (Souma)
It is important to properly rest your body and spirit.
I also would like to take my time thinking by myself about what to do from here on, so I decided to wrap it up for today.
But the issue would be our lodging.
“Uhm, Maki will be returning to the castle, but what about you, Sazan? There’s a lot of free rooms here, so you can stay…” (Souma)
Thinking this, I asked Sazan to look out for him.
“W-Wait a moment!!” (Sazan)
Sazan suddenly let out a shout that echoed through the whole room.
Despite that, it seems like he still couldn’t hold down his tension, he poured down intense words in one breath.
“Y-You bastard, even after facing so many abnormal situations, why are you opening up the discussion for lodgings so naturally as if everything is now over?! Before doing that, you should explain to me! Explain!! First, what was that room with a whole lot of clocks?! Why did we manage to come back after cutting down that clock?!” (Sazan)
“Eh? Ah, right, I still haven’t explained the puzzle.” (Souma)
Sazan is still a top class mage that has a strong desire for knowledge.
Looks like he gets bothered by stuff like that.
“What I cut down was the Cursed Antique Clock that drags the people who hear it into a world of nightmares. That guy’s ‘Search for mine whereabouts’ is a puzzle you usually see of finding the correct clock. Their words denoting ‘ruler of time’ means clock, and the ‘counters of time’ meant that the needles of the clock were going in reverse.
Within those, there’s clocks with hidden doors, and within that memo you will find the biggest hint which is ‘the demon only walks the same steps’. Basically, the correct clock is the one that goes back to the same time every time you go to the next room.
Just that, no matter which clock you see in that room, the way the needles move is abnormal.
However, the only one within those that I cut was ‘the clock that was always pointing at 12 o’clock’ which had the chance of always getting rewinded.
Cause you know, if it is always at 12 o’clock, it would look as if it isn’t moving at all, right?” (Souma)
“I see, so that’s the correct ans—wait, that’s not it! I am not asking for the answer to the puzzle!!” (Sazan)
Even though I politely explained to Sazan, he suddenly held his head and shouted.
I have thought this since the game days, but he really is one unstable dude.
“You are probably tired. I am sure you will feel better with a night of sleep, so take a nice rest today and—” (Souma)
I said this while stretching my hand to him, but he slapped it away.
“It is because of you that I am tired! …Aah, I don’t care anymore! I am fine with the clock talk already, so tell me about the Underwater City!” (Sazan)
“Uhm…Underwater City?” (Souma)
I tilted my head and he closed in on me even more heated up.
“That’s right, what do we do about the Underwater City?! We still haven’t defeated Poseidal, and we haven’t gone to the treasury room either! Is it really okay to give up like this?!” (Sazan)
I feel like I finally understand what Sazan is trying to say here.
“Aah, could it be that you want to go to the Underwater City? Listen here, I know that you are feeling unaccomplished here since we ended it in the middle, but right now what’s most important is defeating the Demon Lord. Let’s not dive into a dungeon one more time when there’s no real business there, okay?” (Souma)
I try to be as polite as possible when admonishing him, and yet, Sazan instead reacted as if he had been shocked by this.
“Wa, e-eh?! Why are you talking as if I am the one being selfish here?! T-That’s not it, that’s weird!” (Sazan)
“No, even if you tell me that…” (Souma)
I can only say you are the weird one here.
“D-Didn’t you say that when we were moving?! That there’s an underwater aptitude item called the Water Dragon Necklace lying in the treasury room after defeating the boss Poseidal?! Is it really okay to not go get that?” (Sazan)
It is true that I did explain how to advance the Underwater Quest while we were walking, but…
“No, didn’t I say we wouldn’t be going to the treasury room? Even if it has the underwater aptitude, the Water Dragon Necklace is an Unique Item, so there’s only enough for one, and the effects aren’t that good, so there’s not much point even if we were to get it, right?” (Souma)
“N-No point, you say? Then, what about the underwater aptitude item—” (Sazan)
I sighed at Sazan who was about to say something weird, and pointed at his finger.
“What, so you didn’t notice? If we are talking about an underwater aptitude item, it is equipped on your finger, you know.” (Souma)
Sazan let out a dumbfounded voice and there was the exclusive equipment of the Underwater City, the Water Dragon Ring, sparkling on his finger.
As for the trick, well, it isn’t that big of a deal really.
The Water Dragon Ring is an exclusive equipment created for that area, and it is not like it is impossible by the system to use in other places aside from the Underwater City.
It is simply that it will be lost if you exit the place from the outer walls.
Turning that around, it also means that if you manage to exit the Underwater City with other means aside from the regular one, you will of course stay with the ring.
However, using teleportation escape items or magic of the sort is prohibited in the Underwater City.
Even if we are talking about Nekomimi Neko, which was made by monkeys, you can’t get out of there with normal means.
—And so, what I used there was a hidden trick, the Daddy Longlegs’ Antique Clock Teleport.
Do you remember I did a lot of quests right after I obtained the mansion?
Blue Bird of Michael, Throb! Serial Murders of a Whole Bunch of Nobles, Dearest Wish of the Alchemist, Strange Happenings at the Clock House, and Guidepost for the Lost.
I have mostly cleared all of these quests.
But within those, there’s only one that, even though I have solved, it still couldn’t be called as being cleared.
The Strange Happenings at the Clock House.
For this one, I only retrieved the Cursed Antique Clock and didn’t step further than that.
That’s because this quest actually has an incredibly convenient trait.
The event of the Cursed Antique Clock will have its flag planted once the player and their companions hear the bell of this clock.
And then, at 2:00 a.m. of that day, you will be forcefully dragged into a nightmare shown by that clock.
This is impossible to avoid, and if you heard the bell of the cursed clock, you will definitely get dragged into the event at 2:00 a.m.
However, in exchange, if you break through the nightmare of this antique clock, the player and their group will be freed, and you will be returned in front of the clock.
Basically, you will for sure return in front of the cursed clock if you have heard the bell of the clock beforehand.
You can’t return from the nightmare with anything aside from a clear, so you can only do this once, but if you use this trait, you can move from places that are impossible to return from.
That’s where we finally return to the main topic.
In the first place, I didn’t have any other means of obtaining underwater aptitude items aside from the Water Dragon Divine Protection of the Underwater City.
Also, it is probably impossible to avoid the blood pool of the Demon Lord Castle.
What we needed was not only equipment for underwater aptitude, but also the effect of this Water Dragon Ring which ‘allows the wearer to see inside muddied waters’.
And so, before we departed, I took out the Cursed Antique Clock, had everyone hear it, and entered the Underwater City.
I was actually planning on getting the treasure of the treasury room, but there was no real need for any items there, so there’s no need to be mortified about it.
The result is that we managed to obtain enough rings for everyone, and safely returned to the mansion with the clock teleport, but…
(Crap, how do I even explain this to Sazan?) (Souma)
I got hit with a problematic point.
Mitsuki and the others have been pretty accepting of me exploiting bugs, so I had grown dull about it, but what I did really might look unnatural from a 3rd person’s perspective.
As for Sazan…
“Eh? Wa? Why do I still have this ring? Isn’t this the equipment that you can only use in the Underwater City…? Eh?” (Sazan)
He was completely confused here.
But it would be difficult to explain to him the full process of being able to use the Water Dragon Ring in other places aside from the Underwater City.
The only reason we still have the rings is because we took advantage of a hole in the data processing of the game, and it isn’t logical when thinking about it purely from a lore standpoint.
Now that I think about it, I should have just deceived him instead of telling him everything so honestly, but with the time limitation of the antique clock teleport, and my hurry of wanting to defeat the Demon Lord as fast as possible, I might have tunnel-visioned a bit there.
It can’t be helped, so I decide to just deceive him here for now.
“Uhm, Sazan, looks like not being able to use that ring anywhere else aside from the Underwater City was my misunderstanding. That’s why, there’s actually no issues here. There’s nothing for you to worry about.” (Souma)
Fortunately, Sazan is looking dizzy from making so much of a ruckus.
That’s why I poke at that opening in his heart and tried telling him gently.
“Eh, aah, I see. Is that so? In that case, there’s no issue. Ahaha, I can’t believe I lost myself there…as if I would fall for that!!” (Sazan)
But even if it is Sazan, it looks like he wasn’t deceived.
I am beginning to feel like he is becoming the straight man in a comedy skit, but the eyes deep inside the mask are shining.
“Or more like, you people don’t think anything about this?! This is clearly weird -in a lot of ways!!” (Sazan)
Sazan looked back at my comrades and searched for sympathizers.
“…I will simply follow Souma.” (Ringo)
Ringo barely worries about the small details.
“I have lately begun thinking that I would be losing if I worry about it.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki has begun giving up in a variety of ways.
“Uhm, was there anything weird there?” (Maki)
Maki considers that it isn’t strange for anything to happen in a game.
The Bear is the most mysterious one here to begin with.
That’s why Sazan didn’t get the response he wanted.
“W-What’s this? I-I am the weird one here? No, t-there’s no way. I am Sazan. The great mage, Sazan!” (Sazan)
Sazan stumbled back, but he somehow managed to stay on his feet.
And then, he shouted with tears that could clearly be seen through the mask.
“Y-You are all crazy!! I-I am definitely not gonna get deceived, you got it?!” (Sazan)
He ran off with those parting words.
I saw off the back of his black robe and…
(No, you are the last person I want to hear that from.) (Souma)
Is what I thought but…
After that, Sazan immediately came back, he said ‘As if I can stay with you crazy people! I will return to a single room!’ and shrewdly stayed in the mansion.
Well, that’s better than him spreading any weird rumors in the city.
However, it is not like this has solved the problem.
My head hurts just thinking about how I will have to persuade him later.
The next morning, I got up from the bed feeling gloomy while thinking about this and…
There was a familiar robed person curled up at the side of my bed, trembling.
It is Sazan who should have been sleeping in a different room.
He seemed to be mumbling something the whole time while trembling, so I tried listening to what he was saying and..
“Help me, spare me, sorry, stop it, I apologize, so please don’t chase me…” (Sazan)
He was super scared for some reason.
Or more like, I am the one with the horror experience here.
I sighed at the trouble first thing in the morning, and the door of my room opened up a bit.
There, I saw the figure of what must have scared Sazan, and I spoke with a baffled tone.
“Bear, you are working too much.” (Souma)
The culprit this time around, the small plushy, scratched its head as if embarrassed about it.
For some mysterious reason, Sazan became abnormally obedient as if he had become a different person, and barely complained anymore.
However, when the yellow thing entered his vision, he would scream ‘hiiih!’ in fear, but well, that’s the lesser evil.
And in this way, the problem (Sazan) was resolved by the yellow demon of our mansion.
Author: This is the baptism of Nekomimi Neko!!