Itai no wa Iya nanode Bōgyo-Ryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu 391
Defense Specialization and the Royal Castle
After entering the inn –that is, the 9th Layer’s Guild Home–, the party headed for the Royal Castle as indicated by the quest they had taken.
“Hey, Sally, is that the place?”
“It certainly looks like it.”
What the party of eight that had just left the Guild Home had set their sights on was the big white castle that could be seen clearly from afar.
There was a wide road leading to it, and not only other players but also many NPCs were walking on it, giving it the impression of a busy main street.
“The town itself is quite large. And here I thought the town in the 4th Layer was big…”
“This town seems to be larger than that one. It looks like it’s going to take some time to learn our way around here.”
The eight of them looked at the town below while climbing the stairs leading to the Royal Castle. They could see the townscape leading to the side of the high outer walls and some main streets. Walking around them should lead them to the various shops around the town.
“And we even have the other side left to explore, so maybe we’ll have twice as many places to visit in this Layer.”
And just as Sally said, something that looked like a castle town could be seen on the other side. Though contrasted in color and theme, both towns seemed to be similar in size and structure.
“Oh… We’ll have to work together to be able to look around everywhere!”
The field was very wide, but the size of each town seemed to be unprecedented. Field exploration was also important, but their experiences in previous Layers have confirmed that most hints and quests are triggered in towns.
“I wonder if I’ll be taking care of exploring the town center this time.”
“This time as well as the others.”
“Ahaha, you’re right.”
“With an area this big, even the moments when we’re not fighting are going to be very entertaining.”
While they continued talking like that, the eight of them finished climbing the stairs leading to the front of the castle that could be seen in the distance. From the open gate, they could see the road leading to the building, and two well-maintained gardens could be seen on each side of that road.
Two more soldier-looking NPCs were standing at each side of the gate, and approached Maple and the others as they drew near.
“Welcome, travelers. You’ve come at a wonderful time.”
“Ooh, what could be going on, Sally?”
“Who knows? Maybe it’s some kind of event?”
“We’ll show you around. Please follow me.”
One of the soldiers then entered the castle, leading the way. Thinking that they had no choice but to follow him, Maple and the others walked right behind the soldier.
The inside of the castle looked gorgeous. Its walls, floor and ceiling were beautifully decorated, and there were many corridors offering many ways to go immediately after entering.
“I wonder if we can actually go through those other corridors?”
“Maybe it depends on how far we’ve progressed with this quest, don’t you think? I don’t think the GMs would make a big quest such as this and not implement something like that into this place…”
As Maple looked around curiously after walking down the corridor and climbing some stairs, the soldier stopped in front of a big door.
“Please, come through here.”
The soldier pushed the door open, and Maple and the others were finally able to see what was behind it.
The room was long, and it extended to the back like some kind of boss room, and some strong-looking soldiers were standing in formation on both sides. And at the back was an old man sitting on a throne, with a crown on his head and a shining white beard covering the lower part of his face.
“Looks like it, doesn’t he? Is it really okay to let some complete strangers into the throne room like this…?”
As Maple and Sally talked to one another in whispers, the king called out to them.
“Welcome, travelers. You have come at an auspicious time.”
“I knew it, Sally. Something must be about to happen.”
“Yeah. Let’s hear what he has to say.”
“Soon, a festival that will change this year will be held. And you, travelers, will be able to participate in it.”
“That has to be an event, right? Ah, the quest has progressed.”
Just like Sally said, the moment they entered this country of sorts, the quest automatically progressed to the next step, and it became “Choosing a Side”.
Maple also understood that this quest had a time limit, indicated by the start of the next event.
“We seem to have at least tentatively chosen a side the moment we were exposed to that light. …Of course, we can still change our decision, so we’ll have some time before we have to settle on a side for good.”
Similarly, if they were to enter the country on the other side, they would be exposed to its light at the entrance, and their chosen side would change. According to the quest, anyone who failed to choose a side by the time limit would be assigned to either side randomly. But even then, the decision to participate in the battle was up to each individual player.
“This is to show our power to our people. Every year, we partake on these sieges in this virtual representation of reality through the use of black magic. I expect you to have the power to represent our country.”
In short, the next event would take place in this entire field, and the goal of each side would be to take down the opposing side’s castle.
Given the event’s nature, it allowed for a wide range of strategies, as one could try to win by taking advantage of the terrain, by covert infiltration, and by frontal breakthroughs based on numbers and raw strength.
Unlike the battles between guilds of previous events, this battle would be of a scale many times bigger than ever. It would be difficult to take command over members of different guilds. Getting everybody to cooperate wouldn’t be as easy as it sounds.
The party didn’t know the rules of the event in detail yet, but this made the battle format and final goal clear. Players who do not belong to either camp seem to include players who have yet to reach the 9th Layer, and reaching this area early was an advantage that allowed players to get as much information as possible on the terrain and the facilities involved in the event.
“If anything happens, let it come. I won’t turn away from whatever that comes our way.”
After those words from the king, the soldier that had guided the Maple and the others into the throne room promptly escorted them back out of it.
Then, after closing the door behind him, the soldier spoke to the party.
“I’d like to recommend you to be on our side. The king of the country across from ours is powerful, but our king is even more powerful than him. Though you may not realize that until you actually see for yourselves.”
It was natural for a soldier to speak well of his country, but even with that subjectivity aside, there was a certain truth to the soldier’s words. His way of speaking suggested that they would be fighting the king of the other country during the attack on his castle.
“The king is going to be tough, huh…”
“That gramps seems to be very strong at the game. I don’t know his fighting style yet, so the soldier’s right I won’t know what I’d be facing until I actually fight him.”
“Looks like it.”
Maple nodded at Sally’s words. Then, while everyone shared their own impressions, Maple and the others eventually had gone all the way back to the entrance.
“We are preparing for the big battle ahead of us. If you look towards the town as you leave the castle, you should soon see a large building that stands out among all others. If you are willing to help, go there. There should be quite a few requests posted there.”
“So that’s where we should head next, huh?”
“Right. Ah, it looks like the quest has progressed to its next stage as well.”
“If there’s a lot of requests for us to take there, then that’s probably where we make the split.”
“The NPCs seem to be taking part of the battle as well, and if we were to change sides now, we would be making the opposing side stronger, right?”
“Possibly, yeah. But I’d like to take a look at those requests before anything else…”
“I hope there are some easy ones for us to take…”
“Neither I nor my sister had actually done many quests, to be honest.”
“Well, that shouldn’t be a problem. After all, it’s been all made part of this 9th Layer’s main quest. It’s likely been made to be quite manageable.”
“But we’ll still do our best…!”
It was quite understandable that Mai and Yui, whose strengths and weaknesses were quite distinct, couldn’t normally clear most side quests that came their way. They had the raw power needed to defeat any number of monsters, but they couldn’t do anything else that required other stats.
“Well, let’s start by heading over there!”
“Yeah. Besides, I’m sure there’s plenty of other events aside from this main quest for us to enjoy.”
The castle towns were large, and the fields were even larger. Considering the size of the Layers so far, there could be many hidden events waiting to be found somewhere.
“You’re right! It’s not just quests!”
“Hehe, I hope we can find many interesting things.”
“Yeah! And the building… Oh, is that it?”
Maple pointed to a magnificent building that was larger and taller than anything around it, and which could be seen from a distance.
“Looks like it. The quest also marks its destination in that direction, so that has to be it.”
“Alright~ Let’s go, Sally!”
“Yeah, yeah, but be careful not to fall here.”
Thus Maple and the others quickly went down the long stairs and headed for that building.