Bonus chapter. Contesy of the nice email I just received. You can also shoot me an email and get bonus chapters. Cheers!

Itai no wa Iya nanode Bōgyo-Ryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu 384

 

Defense Specialization and The Crevice 2

 

 

After that, they kept on diving for a while, but even though they were taken by surprise by monsters a few times, they were no match for Sally and Maple once they showed themselves.

 

Both of them had a high-rank fighting ability, so as long as monsters couldn’t manage to deliver an effective blow in their first attack by taking advantage of the surrounding darkness, they would be quickly defeated like the small fry they were. But that was an impossible task for these monsters, since it was extremely difficult to get a hit that could both damage Maple and avoid Sally’s alertness.

 

“Things are going well, but… Hmm.”

 

“Doesn’t look like we’re going to make it to the bottom, huh?”

 

“How’s your oxygen?”

 

“It’s going down at a steady rate, but thanks to this diving suit and Izu’s items, I might have enough to reach the bottom!”

 

“Let me know when you have a little more than half of your gauge left. There might not be a magic circle at the bottom to take us right back to the surface…”

 

“Sure!”

 

Since they were diving while being cautious, swimming back to the surface would take them less time, but Sally thought that it would be better to be on the safe side and make sure they had time to spare in case anything happened on their way back.

 

 

 

It had been some time since they entered the crevice. Although they were in pitch-dark water, something that could only be described as a “rock forest”, where a large number of tall rocks, became visible under the light of Maple’s “Dedicated Affection”.

 

“Can you see the bottom?”

 

“Apart from that wall behind them, I can’t see anything other than water all over the place!”

 

Though they couldn’t see the base of those large, tall rocks, they had never seen anything like them before. Upon touching them, they seemed to be firmly connected to the ground underneath, and wouldn’t budge an inch. Unless these rocks were floating by some mysterious force, the bottom of the crevice seemed to be close by.

 

“…! Maple, this way!”

 

Just as Maple was about to take a breath, thinking that they might be close to the bottom, Sally grabbed her hand and pulled her under the shade of one of the rocks.

 

“W-What happened?”

 

“…There’s something there.”

 

Thinking that “if she says so, then it must be true”, Maple quickly cancelled her “Dedicated Affection”. There was no way to know if monsters could see them thanks to her skill’s innate light, but she knew that they were better off reducing the chances of being found.

 

As the darkness returned, they emerged a little from under the shade of the rock and squinted at the other side of the darkness.

 

Beyond the darkness, a pale light rushes across the rocky jungle. In that light, they could see eyes that were moving slowly, perhaps because they hadn’t found any prey… yet.

 

A huge something was swimming around that place. It felt somehow different from a normal monster.

 

“That thing’s huge…”

 

“It doesn’t seem like it noticed us, so let’s press on. It doesn’t seem like a monster we need to fight. Rather than a boss, I think it’s more like… do you remember? That snail from the second event.”

 

“Ah! That unbeatable snail?”

 

“That’s right.”

 

If it were just a strong monster, they could fight it and eventually defeat it, but if it’s an invincible monster, there would be no point fighting it.

 

“I could only see the monster for a moment, so maybe that’s why I couldn’t catch a glimpse of its HP bar, but since we don’t have any time to spare, let’s try to avoid fighting it.”

 

“Sure! Let’s sneak past it!”

 

“The terrain here also seems to hint that we need to go through here undetected. I’ll be on alert to make sure I know as soon as that thing gets closer to us.”

 

“Got it, I’m counting on you, then!”

 

“Alright, let’s go.”

 

It was easy to explore stealthily in this place because the tall rocks provided lots of cover. And since Sally, who could notice an enemy’s approach after seeing them for the first time, had already seen that thing, it was very unlikely that it could get close to them without her knowing.

 

With virtually one eye on that huge fish-thing the entire time, they were able to reach the bottom of the crevice after diving for a little while longer. From this point, they would switch to exploration. Still, they didn’t have too much oxygen to spare, so they needed to be aware of their remaining amount at all times.

 

“Do you think we’ll be okay down here as well?”

 

“We’ll have no other choice but to stick to the walls. Let’s do that.”

 

The two of them entered the space between two of the tall rocks. Sally remained vigilant of monsters, and Maple looked for anything that looked like an item or event trigger while at the same time being ready to jump into the defense at a moment’s notice with her “Cover”.

 

“…There’s a monster to your right.”

 

“Then I’ll go this way.”

 

Even though it was considerably dark there, it wasn’t as confusing as when they were fighting the anglerfish. There were still some slightly noticeable changes here and there that helped them remain aware of their surroundings to some extent. That being said, Maple had no way to detect the presence of monsters like Sally could, so she would have to rely on her for that.

 

They were actively avoiding combat, not only because they didn’t know what they would be facing, but also because fighting would slow down their search.

 

Besides, there was a chance that they would face some unavoidable battles at some point, so they had to do everything they could to preserve oxygen.

 

“Any luck yet, Maple?”

 

“Nope~ Nothing yet… This place is so dark and huge, but there has to be something here…”

 

They couldn’t see very far off into the distance, so Maple would only be able to find things in her immediate vicinity.

 

“It’s going to be a pain, but we might have no other choice but to go back up for oxygen and come all the way down here again… Several times…”

 

“But it sure does feel like a treasure hunt, huh?”

 

“…Well, you’re right. Yeah. Let’s just do it until we find the treasure. Even though this place is so huge, there haven’t been any reports about it, so there has to be something worth finding here.”

 

Even if it wasn’t related to any events, there was no way there was nothing waiting to be found in this vast darkness.

 

Eventually, some other player would find it and make a post about it, but it was certainly way more entertaining to discover it by themselves. Sally couldn’t help but smile, seeing Maple enjoying herself so much.

 

“But we’ll have to go back to the surface in a bit. We might find ourselves having to fight on the way back, and other unexpected things may happen.”

 

“Yeah, that’s right. Maybe we’ll have to upgrade our suits even more…?”

 

As Maple’s diving suit was almost completely upgraded, its performance was close to the highest possible, but there was still room for further enhancements. With her current upgrades, she would have no problem swimming around in a normal underwater field, but in order to be able to dive inside that crevice, she would need to extend her activity time as much as possible.

 

They searched for a little longer while minding Maple’s remaining oxygen, but she reached her time limit before finding anything in particular.

 

“Aw, shucks.”

 

“We can come back later. You tend to be really lucky, Maple, so you might be able to find something next time.”

 

“You think? It’d be nice if we did manage to find something after all this trouble…”

 

“Okay, let’s go back to the surface… Wait!”

 

A big shadow appeared from the other side of the rock as they were about to swim back to the surface. Sally hurriedly grabbed Maple by the arm and took her behind one of the tall rocks, but since it was such an open area, she couldn’t hide both Maple and herself well enough, and the giant fish noticed them.

 

“Sally, the light in his eyes turned yellow.”

 

“…Is it in Alert Mode? It would be great if it’s the type that doesn’t attack first…”

 

“You mean it’s giving off some kind of warning sign?”

 

“Something like that. There’s plenty of things like this that represent how dangerous something can be. Things may become pretty nasty if those eyes turn red…”

 

“…I see.”

 

While talking in whispers, the two of them waited to see if the big fish would eventually return to normal and leave, but nothing seemed to indicate that kind of change happening anytime soon. This wait caused the surplus oxygen that Maple had set aside in case of an emergency on their way back to slowly but surely decrease. Taking this into account made them not so happy about having spent so much time exploring, since the situation was getting worse with every passing second.

 

“It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.”

 

“We don’t have time to challenge that thing to an endurance battle… But how can we either escape or do anything else about that thing…?”

 

Maple and Sally started to think if there were any skills in their arsenal that they could try against the giant fish.

 

“Sally!”

 

“Any ideas?”

 

“Do you think it’ll give up and leave if it can’t see us anymore?”

 

“Hmm, I can’t say that it won’t, though. But how?”

 

“Look! Syrup’s ‘Earth Cradle’!”

 

Both of them were at the bottom of the crevice. It was a skill Maple never thought she would use in the underwater 8th Layer, but she could use it to sneak into the ground at their feet.

 

“We can certainly give that a try. Besides, even if it doesn’t work, we’re not going to lose out on much. It’s not the kind of skill we’d want to save up for our exploration.”

 

Besides, since they were trying to come up with an escape plan, there would be no problem with using up every single skill they had if it helped them succeed.

 

“Okay! Syrup, ‘Activate’ ‘Earth’s Cradle’!”

 

With Maple’s activation, the two of them concealed themselves under the ground.

 

“Do you think it worked?”

 

“Dunno. But it would be great if it did.”

 

After a while, the effect of the skill ended and the two were ejected back into the underwater area. Using that momentum, Maple and Sally approached one of the tall rocks and hid behind it in order to see what had happened to the giant fish. The yellow light could still be seen floating in the darkness.

 

“Aw, it didn’t work.”

 

“Looks like some time has passed. How much oxygen do you have, Maple?”

 

“I had quite a bit left, so… Huh?”

 

“What happened?”

 

“I have more oxygen than before, Sally!”

 

“Huh? Really?”

 

Sally checked Maple’s gauge and confirmed that it had indeed been fully replenished. Seeing that, Maple checked on her own gauge.

 

“I’ve recovered too.”

 

“That’s great!”

 

“…Maybe that place over there was actually not covered by water?”

 

Sally thought that it was because they had slipped into the ground. She had never been affected by that skill anywhere but on the surface before, so there was no way she could know for sure. But it was certainly possible.

 

“Now we can keep on exploring!”

 

“I wasn’t expecting this, but turns out it was a blessing in disguise. Let’s check the situation for a bit longer then.”

 

“Yeah!”

 

Since Maple’s oxygen problem had been resolved, there wouldn’t be a problem with them wanting to stay there for a little while longer.

 

With that in mind, they kept a close watch over the giant fish until its eyes finally turned blue, at which point it returned to its usual path.

 

“Oh~!”

 

“It’s gone. Phew… looks like it finally gave up.”

 

“Let’s go explore some more then!”

 

“We’ve completely replenished our oxygen, and roundtrips to the surface are going to be a hassle. Let’s keep going as far as we can!”

 

And so, thanks to their unexpected full recovery of oxygen, the two continued their exploration.

 

 

 

After passing through the rocky forest, hiding behind the rocks at the sandy bottom, they looked out for that giant fish’s approach for a while, but apparently its territory seemed to be up to that rocky area. They waited a bit, but couldn’t see its eyes’ blue light anymore.

 

“Phew, it doesn’t look like it’s going to come this way.”

 

“But what if it sees us from where it is now?”

 

“Dunno. But I don’t think anything is going to happen. If you’re really interested in that, we can check the forum later. Someone else is going to come here eventually and will probably make a post about it.”

 

“I see.”

 

“Finding things out for yourself is fun, but it’s always interesting to see what kinds of things other people discover as well.”

 

“Let’s look for the answer to that later in the forum then, shall we?”

 

Whenever Maple looked for information about in-game stuff, it would normally be limited to things like what kind of skills to get and where to find them.

 

“There are many ways to enjoy this game.”

 

“Alright then, how about some lessons from Know-It-All Sally?”

 

“Well, I like looking for events and dungeons in unexpected places.”

 

As the yet unknown threat of the big fish had left for the time being, Sally and Maple began to walk on the sandy soil of the bottom of the crevice, with only their headlights to help them see in the dark waters.

 

“Unlike before, this place is very wide, so it’s gonna be hard to miss anything.”

 

The environment was very bad for surprise attacks, so Sally could concentrate on searching for events as well. With two pairs of eyes instead of one, it was very unlikely that they could fail to notice anything within the reach of their headlights.

 

“Looks like there’s nothing here?”

 

“Yeah. Maybe we overlooked something…?”

 

“Sally?”

 

Sally felt a slight shaking at her toes and stopped, and Maple, who noticed that only after a short while, turned around.

 

“What’s the ma… Waaaah!?”

 

Immediately after that, the sand at her feet swirled up as if swallowing Maple, and a long-bodied fish similar to a moray eel appeared from the middle left.

 

“I thought there was nothing there…!”

 

“Don’t worry! I took no damage!”

 

“Okay! But more of them are coming!”

 

Sally used Maple’s headlight to locate her, as she was being dragged towards the surface inside the moray eel’s jaws she had been caught inside the moray eel’s jaws, and called out to her in the dark.

 

Immediately after that, sand whirled up from several other places, and a large number of huge moray eels appeared, which would be more than enough to swallow Maple and Sally whole.

 

“No way… They’re all so big.”

 

Sally was quite far apart from Maple, so about half of them headed up while the rest moved towards Sally. She couldn’t figure out exactly how many there were in the dark, but she could tell that they were coming from all directions.

 

“Catch me if you can!”

 

Kicking herself off the ground, Sally quickly began to ascend, fully focused on avoiding the huge jaws of the approaching moray eels. Getting chomped by those jaws would most likely mean instant death, but their bodies were so huge that dodging their attacks also gave her a good chance to deliver a blow of her own.

 

“Haah!”

 

Taking advantage of the fact she could move freely in three dimensions while underwater, she dodged an incoming attack and retaliated by slashing a single line along its side from its jaw all the way to the tip of its tail with her dagger.

 

“That worked pretty well… Next!”

 

Every time they tried to attack her, Sally would respond by leaving them with two red slashing marks along their bodies and the visual effect of dealing damage.

 

“There’s a lot of them, but I’m not afraid of such large monsters relying on their numbers.”

 

Even if they were to try to take advantage of the darkness, they wouldn’t be able to catch Sally. They would have stood a slightly better chance if they had all tried to attack her at the same time, but the moray eels couldn’t move around that well.

 

In the meantime, a massive downpour of crimson laser rained onto the ground, tearing through the darkness.

 

“It’s so weird seeing rain falling in the ocean… Even though it’s raining laser beams.”

 

Having lifted Maple high up above the bottom of the crevice, the moray eel had inadvertently given Maple the advantage of the higher ground. Her lasers burned through the moray eel swarming around Maple on their way to the bottom.

 

The uninterrupted rain of lasers burned and damaged the moray eels throughout their entire bodies.

 

That attack had the capability of dealing such an impressive amount of damage over time that every creature in the vicinity other than her teammate Sally would be completely decimated by it.

 

“I can dodge these lasers, though!”

 

Maple would certainly be able to single-handedly destroy those moray eels with her “Machine God”, but it had a limited amount of uses. It made sense for Sally to contribute to dealing damage, since they didn’t know how much more there was left to explore or what kind of enemies could appear later.

 

Nothing good could ever come out of running out of ammunition at the wrong time.

 

Sally added some more damage of her own, and Maple’s indiscriminate overhead attack would continue to reduce the moray eels’ remaining HP.

 

Reducing their numbers took some time, but time wasn’t so much of a problem any more.

 

 

Eventually, the moray eels’ HP bars became completely depleted starting from the one who received the most damage from the lasers, and its body turned into light and exploded. Since Maple’s attack was evenly affecting the area, the moray eels’ HP bars were all depleted at about the same time, so they all died in an almost perfect unison of lights and explosions.

 

The accumulated light briefly illuminated the area, and Sally could clearly see the light coming from Maple’s headlight slowly descend to the sandy bottom once more.

 

“Welcome back. That was a great attack.”

 

“I’m glad I hit that~ I was worried since I couldn’t see that well from up there…”

 

“They were quite big, so they weren’t that hard to miss.”

 

“Yeah! Whoa… but beating them like this sure looks nice, huh?”

 

Most of the visual effects of the moray eels’ deaths had already disappeared, but since they had been so huge and there had been so many of them, the area was still shining and sparkling.

 

“Looks like marine snow.”

 

“Ah, I think I’ve heard about that!”

 

“But it’s not exactly like this, though.”

 

“Do you think there’ll be more of these up ahead?”

 

“Not in the close vicinity at least. They all seemed to appear at about the same time.”

 

As Sally expected, it seemed that every monster in the area had jumped out for an all out attack. And now that the menacing monsters had been completely wiped out, both Maple and her finally seemed to be able to enjoy some peace and quiet, at least for the time being.

 

“I don’t feel like there’s anything around here anymore, so let’s go a little further ahead.”

 

“I hope there aren’t any more monsters hiding in the sand.”

 

“We have no choice but to be very careful while we explore.”

 

“Let’s give it our best shot!”

 

Maple went in front of Sally, checking left and right at every step, looking out for anything that could be lying around.

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