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Itai no wa Iya nanode Bōgyo-Ryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu 375

 

Defense Specialization and the Underwater Temple – 2

 

 

The two went deeper into the temple while listening to the sound of flowing water. During battle, Maple was in charge of defense and Sally would fight in close quarters. Although her stats had been raised by her new unique set, there was no big change in the damage she was able to deal to monsters considering the skills she had obtained.

 

“Amazing, Sally! You really can handle lots of different weapons really well!”

 

“I wonder if this is all about stacking up abilities… Though I think each person has their own way of fighting. If there’s a playstyle you’re really good at, then you should stick to it, don’t you think?”

 

Sally knew what she was really good at, which is why she had picked a battle style that she knew would suit her, but Maple was a different story.

 

Fortunately, in this game, one could fight using their own real abilities and the strength of their skills. So Maple would rely on the latter when fighting.

 

“Your skills are stronger than mine, and you’re also very good at one-on-one battles, Maple. You also make the best of your abilities.”

 

“Well, yeah!”

 

“There are plenty of things only you can do, Maple. Though I think you already know that.”

 

“Ehehe~ I’m really proud of my defensive abilities!”

 

“Yeah. Make sure to keep polishing them, okay?”

 

Having made her Defense stat as high as possible really helped Maple’s own battle style. It influenced her attack, her defense, and how unharmed she would be by the backlash of an explosion.

 

Her battle style was something that could not be replicated by those with a “normal” distribution of stats.

 

“You too, Sally. Keep trying that set as much as you like! Those golems are no problem for us!”

 

“Their lasers won’t work against us, too…”

 

They went through the dungeon while talking. With Maple by her side, Sally could easily avoid being one shotted, so there was no need to be extra careful in the dungeon.

 

 

 

Then, as carried on while cutting down every golem that appeared before them, they eventually reached a spot where a wide water current blocked the way ahead. It was also quite deep, and it looked like it could easily drag them down the moment they set a foot in it.

 

“What should we do, Maple? We may be able to find something around here that will clear this off…”

 

“You think?”

 

“Yeah. It seems that the passage carries on over that way too, so it’s very likely there’s some kind of mechanism there.”

 

Looking around to see if there was anything like that nearby, Maple noticed that there were three protrusions on the wall and touched them lightly.

 

“…! Looks like these can be pushed, Sally!”

 

“Nice! But how should we go about it?”

 

Sally could feel that all three could be pushed in. However, she had no idea if there was any specific order to do so.

 

“M-Maybe there was a hint somewhere along the way?”

 

“I wonder if we haven’t already come across some kind of hint… This place is huge, and it seems we’re supposed to advance by choosing from several pathways, so if we were to look for something like that, we would need to check other paths we haven’t chosen yet.”

 

“You’re probably right.”

 

“Should we go take a look around?”

 

“Sure!”

 

“Okay, let’s retrace our steps for a bit.”

 

“There might be some treasure at the end of those other paths too!”

 

“That’s right. I haven’t checked those paths either… It would be nice to find something useful.”

 

Agreeing that there were times that called for a thorough search, they went back the way they came.

 

“Come to think of it, you used to go back and search other places in other games just like this.”

 

“Well, paths that don’t take you to the end often have treasure chests and other items in them, so when I find a path that seems to be the one to reach the goal, I often wonder if I should leave it for later…”

 

It was perfectly fine to forego searching for items for the sake of advancing through a dungeon, but the possibility of leaving something useful behind would still weigh on Sally’s mind.

 

“Of course, searching everywhere before advancing is also okay.”

 

That just added to Sally’s goals. When only looking for the item at the end, she would try to get the shortest route possible to the dungeon’s end, and not knowing where things were would allow her to enjoy the exploration itself.

 

“This is more or less your first capture, right, Maple?”

 

“Yeah. The first time I actually investigated anything about items and events was back when we were in the 6th Layer… I think?”

 

“Ah, I remember about that…”

 

During Sally’s absence, Maple had to find out what kind of item she could give to Sally. But even without that reason, the fact that Sally -who would always take the initiative to look things up- wasn’t around was enough for Maple to take it upon herself to do her own research.

 

“But searching about all that stuff was really fun! And learning that there were events like that, and that I was doing what you normally do…”

 

“Glad to hear that. You should always look up things you’re interested in. Otherwise, you may never find out more about it.”

 

“But I couldn’t find that Floating Castle! The people who did find it are really something else…”

 

“Still, I think you’re just as good as any of them…”

 

Recalling the strange skill group that resided in her body, she stares at Maple as to how many strange places she has stepped into.

 

She stared at Maple, recalling the bizarre skills that resided in her, and the many strange places she had set foot into.

 

“Ehehe~ Well, I’ve been lucky.”

 

“Being able to enjoy yourself to that extent… Yeah, that’s just the best.”

After walking while chatting for some time, Maple and Sally eventually reached something that looked like a mural. As they approached it, they noticed it depicted something resembling the water current they had come across earlier along with the same kind of golems they had encountered so far.

 

“Is this it?”

 

“Maybe. Look, those button-like things are highlighted in red.”

 

The mural is divided into different scenes, ending with one depicting the water current stopping after pushing the protrusions in the proper order.

 

“So we should try pressing them in this order?”

 

“Looks like it. Let’s give it a try.”

 

“Okay~!”

 

With their new information, they went back to the wall and pushed the button-like protrusions in the order shown in the mural. Then, they heard a loud noise as the water current in front of them came to a halt, opening the path ahead. Only a hole remained in the wall where water had been spouting non-stop up until a while ago.

 

“Ooh~ ! It really did stop, Sally!”

 

“Yeah, looks like we were right on the money.”

 

“Do you think there could be something on the other side of that hole?”

 

“Huh? Oh… But can we go through it?”

 

In response to Sally’s question, Maple took a step inside the hole.

 

“Yeah, looks like we can!”

 

“Is that so? Okay then, we might as well give it a try.”

 

It certainly looked like the kind of hole that would have something hidden behind it. Sally quickly followed Maple inside.

 

“Do you think we’ll find something here?”

 

“Yeah, though… this place doesn’t seem to be just some random tunnel.”

 

Maple’s eyes gleamed with anticipation of the treasure that could be waiting for them in there.Then, after a while, they heard an earth tremor echoing inside the hole.

 

“Whoa, is it a m-monster!?”

 

“…! No, that’s not it…!”

 

That place wasn’t a monster’s lair, but a water tunnel. So it was easy to know the true nature of that thunderous roar.

 

“W-Water!?”

 

“Looks like it’s only stopped for a moment! ‘Icicle’ ‘Right hand – Thread’ ‘Super Acceleration’!”

 

Sally quickly created an icicle to block the surge of incoming water, latched a thread onto Maple and dragged her along as she set out to flee the area using her enhanced speed.

 

Looking back, she then saw with surprise the icicle exploding as she ran at full speed.

 

“Maple, get ready to use ‘Atrocity’! I don’t know how much damage this water could cause!”

 

“O-Okay!”

 

Sally ran towards the exit, believing that Maple would somehow be able to plant herself to soak the worst of the damage using her ‘Indomitable Guardian’, but soon realized that she wouldn’t make out despite being tied to Sally by one of her threads.

 

“Maple!”

 

“‘Atrocity’! ‘Unbreakable Shield’!”

 

Realizing what Sally wanted her to do, Maple immediately activated ‘Atrocity’ along with a damage-reduction skill. Right after Sally jumped out of the hole, a tremendous amount of water blew Maple away, and the two were sent flying over passage.

 

Rather than a piercing attack, it was terrain damage, which was affected by her damage-reduction skill, meaning Maple only received a few scratches. Sally, who had been protected by her, also got only a few scratches after being sent flying by the surging water. The two then fell at the base of a waterfall.

 

 

 

After a violent splash, the two of them turned up at the surface of the water near the waterfall.

 

“Phew, that was close… But we did it somehow.”

 

“Aw… Sorry, Sally… I didn’t think things would end up like this…”

 

“These things are bound to happen at some point. But we got out of it in one piece.”

 

They figured they could just head back to the passage. They had been able to explore that much so far, so they wouldn’t let that little setback get in the way of their fun.

 

“Well, if there’s anywhere you’d like to go, let me know. I’ll go with you. And if things get rough, I’ll be counting on you to protect me.”

 

Seeing an unusual smile draw itself on Sally’s face, Maple softened her expression.

 

“Sure!”

 

Then, as she started to move, she noticed something was amiss.

 

“…?”

 

“What is it?”

 

“M-My shield! It’s gone! I must have let go of it when we fell!”

 

“Huh? So maybe it fell to the bottom of the waterfall lake?”

 

“A-Ah! Maybe!”

 

Maple hurriedly dipped her face into the water, and was about to dive all the way to the bottom of the waterfall lake to look for it, but Sally calmly offered a different solution.

 

“If it wasn’t unequipped by an event or anything like that, then you just probably dropped it. You should be able to retrieve it by managing your inventory.”

 

“Ah! I see! Good idea, Sally!”

 

Then, Maple did as suggested by Sally, and after managing her inventory, her jet-black shield safely returned to Maple’s hand.

 

“Looks like it worked.”

 

“Yeah, I’m glad it did… I figured I’d have to dive to the bottom since I thought I had seen it shining down there.”

 

“Shining…?”

 

A bit intrigued by Maple’s words, Sally dipped her face into the water just like Maple had a moment ago and looked towards the bottom of the waterfall lake. She thought to herself, “Would that jet-black shield really shine so much underwater?”

 

“Sally?”

 

“…Maple, it’s still shining.”

 

“…?”

 

“There’s still something down there… Maybe.”

 

“Huh!?”

 

“Looks like this was a blessing in disguise. So, what do you think? Should we go check it out?”

 

“Yeah, yeah! Let’s go!”

 

“Okay. Then let’s put on our diving suits.”

 

“Yeah~!”

 

With a renewed feeling of anticipation caused by their unexpected discovery, the two of them started diving to the bottom of the waterfall lake.

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