Chapter 405 – Defense Specialization and Lightning
Time passed and all the players had made significant progress in the quest. However, as there were rails spread out in the area which were easy to spot, most players neglected exploring areas outside of the quest area despite many players doing the quest.
Due to that, when one looked at the whole field, there were more areas left unexplored.
As such, it would be safe to say that it will take longer for Chrome and the others to find the hidden area they were looking for.
Amongst all this, Maple was going about it at her own pace, going wherever she wanted whenever she wanted — in fact, she was currently checking her map just outside the city to decide on her next location.
Since Sally had her hands full grasping the field and Chrome and the others were busy with exploration, she was on her own today as well.
That said, she did order independent action as the guild’s policy as well.
“I wonder where I should go next~.”
While it was mostly for the quest, Maple did fly around the area on the 9th floor for quite a long time and had already explored all the areas that piqued her interest. Of course, she hadn’t done a thorough exploration so there’s always the option of re-exploring an area but if she was to go somewhere, she wanted it to be someplace new.
Unlike previously explored areas, everything about unexplored areas is new. Her exploration in new areas would never go in vain.
While she was pondering on her next destination, a voice called out to her from behind.
“Maple~! What are you doing, spacing out over here?”
“Ah, Velvet! Hinata’s not with you today, huh?”
“Hinata went to investigate the field!”
“I see. Same with Sally, then. What about you?”
“I’m not really good at those things so I’m just gonna grind exp. and explore areas!”
“Ahaha, same with me, then.”
“So that’s why you were looking over the map!”
“Yep. I was deciding on where to go next. Are you going to explore now?”
“That was the plan but where were you planning to go?”
Being asked such a question, Maple pointed out the places she was interested in one by one.
“Ah, this place overlaps with one of my choices as well! How ‘bout we go together?”
“Yeah, sounds good! You wanna ride Syrup?”
“Fufufu, there’s an even faster way of transport!”
“Really? Is it your tamed monster?”
“Nope, wrong answer!”
Maple formed a party with Velvet as the effect wouldn’t apply otherwise.
“Let’s go! ‘Electric Accelerator’!”
Along with Velvet’s declaration, electricity started running through the two’s skin. It crackled like lightning and Maple could somewhat understand what kind of an effect it might produce since she saw Mii’s ‘Flare Accelerator’.
“Now, try running!”
“Okay, here I go.”
“Let’s go!”
Maple broke out in a full sprint. Although her speed was less than Velvet, Sally and Kasumi, she easily surpassed players like Chrome and Kanade who have not really focused on their speed with this speed enhancement.
“Whoa, amazing! So fast!”
“With this, anyone can be really fast!”
Certainly, this would take them to their destination faster than Syrup.
“Running to your destination feels nice and fresh!”
“It is quite rare, you know?”
“Let’s go!”
“Right! Ah, do be careful of the effect running out, though. If you aren’t careful, you might trip and fall due to suddenly slowing down.”
“Got it!”
Running through the fields, Maple felt like Sally as she made her way towards their objective. Velvet had restrained her speed to not leave Maple behind and the two proceeded towards the location side by side.
“It kinda feels weird seeing Maple run like this.”
“I have to use ‘atrocity’ to run fast, after all. I can move fast by exploding arms but that wouldn’t exactly be running fast…”
Maple had almost never traveled through the fields on foot. Generally, she rides on top of Syrup or uses the transport Sally manages. ‘Machine God’ and ‘Atrocity’ are more battle-limited, when she needs to move quickly.
As her base ‘Agility’ is 0, items or skills which increase it by multiplying doesn’t have any effect on her. As ‘Electric Accelerator’ raises the base agility stats like ‘Atrocity’, it is able to increase Maple’s running speed as well.
She got to find out that Velvet could support her allies with skills like these apart from charging in and attacking with her lightning. Hinata’s support and interference stands out more but Velvet also possesses support skills like so.
If she has skills which can increase stats other than agility, it would be hard to face her in 1v1s or team battles.
“Do you have other skills like this as well?”
Unlike Sally, Maple asked her this out of pure curiosity, without thinking much about it.
“Fuffufu, I can’t go ahead and expose that, now can I~?”
“Ah! Right, that’s true.”
“Do find out in the event by all means!”
It appears she does have some sort of skill like that judging from her way of speaking but since Maple hadn’t seen it, she had no idea of what it could be.
“What about you, don’t you have anything like this, Maple? We have fought together a few times but… I have never seen you use something new, you know?”
While she had seen Maple’s strong skills such as ‘Devour’ in battle, the normal skills Maple uses have not changed in forever. While that is mostly because she decided not to use them after discussing with Sally, it’s also true that she didn’t need them as the people she partied with were very strong uptil now.
For example, if she parties with Mii or Velvet, she wouldn’t need to use ‘Machine God’. After all, the time to beat their opponents wouldn’t really change even if she decides to partake in offense. With stronger damage dealers on her party, Maple’s role as the shielder proves more valuable.
Self-offering Love suffices most of the time and she doesn’t have to use any new skill.
“It’s a secret!”
Maple also replied as such and the two kept running towards the destination.
“Whew, I think this is the first time I ran this much!”
After running for a while, they had reached a rough land with numerous long and spiky rocks. Some of the boulders and areas on the ground were charred, implying that there’s something here that can pull off an attack of that intensity.
As Maple peeked inside the area, huge lumps of light came crashing down from the sky, lighting up the surrounding.
“That surprised me…”
“It’s lightning! Since it’s Maple… you won’t get damaged from it, right?”
Velvet was aware of Maple’s extraordinary defense. However, her lightning was so intense that even she couldn’t be completely sure of Maple going unharmed.
“I wonder? I can’t really imagine lightning piercing through armor…”
She couldn’t tell without trying it out first. Now that she had ‘Stout Guardian’, she wouldn’t end up accidentally dying either.
As a few spiky boulders were acting as a lightning rod, they would have to move while determining safe zones to explore the area properly.
But of course, that is what one would have to do normally.
“’Self-offering Affection’!”
Maple used her skill to protect Velvet and went straight into the area after resolving herself. After a while of them moving inside, lightning that turned the whole sky pure white came falling down.
However, that only lasted for a moment and after the light dispersed, Maple was standing there as if nothing had happened.
“As expected! We can walk with ease then.”
As Velvet was also under the effect of Self-offering Affection, she wouldn’t be affected by the lightning either unless Maple gets knocked back a certain distance.
“There was an area with intense lightning in the 5th layer as well… but it’s even more intense here.”
“I also use lightning but I would probably lose to this, huh?”
If Velvet became able to drop this amount of lightning bolts from the sky, no one could probably close in on her.
Her abilities hit the target even now and only Sally could probably get close while dodging everything.
“I would be much stronger if I could consecutively launch attacks like this.”
“How about leveling up the skill?”
“It doesn’t feel like it will increase more from here…”
Velvet has been fighting with lightning as her core ability for quite a long time now. And considering how she takes on battles intentionally, it wouldn’t be weird if she has already reached the highest level.
After a while of walking while constantly getting hit by lightning, the target monster for today appeared.
It was a sphere of about 50 centimeters diameter and discharged electricity every now and then. It looked like fireflies from afar as they floated about around the rocky areas.
“That’s the one, right?!”
“Alright, ‘Commence Attack’!”
Maple swiftly deployed her weapons and began shooting at the monster.
Her attack, which boasts an amazing range and incredible bullet speed, allowed her to make the first move on the monster one-sidedly.
The monster ended up reacting late and couldn’t get out of Maple’s attack range as it was much slower than it looked.
As they didn’t look tanky either, Maple was starting to feel confident in being able to defeat these monsters but right then, her bullets collided with the discharging electricity and went straight through it.
Although it pierced through the monster, it didn’t seem to be dealing much damage. This reminded Maple of similar monsters which nullified her attacks before as well.
“Uuu, it doesn’t seem to be working…”
“Then it’s my turn! I’m not really compatible with these types but… ‘Second Coming of the Thunder God’!”
Velvet began discharging electricity herself this time, at a greater momentum than that of the monsters. And it seems the monsters couldn’t just leave her be either as they sent directed lightning bolts straight towards her. She would definitely have a hard time dodging these as they rushed at her with a speed not inferior to Maple’s bullets.
“I can take that much!”
Maple took on all the lightning and nullified it while standing still. The monsters’ attacks dealt no damage to her.
After all, considering the super intense lightning from the sky did no damage to her, these monsters’ attacks would literally do nothing.
“’Field of Lightning!”
With Velvet’s skill, even more lightning came crashing down onto the ground. The monsters couldn’t just ignore it as Velvet was the one creating it.
“Try and avoid ‘em if you can!”
Since she was basically hitting electric monsters with more electricity, it wouldn’t affect them much but even then, Velvet kept shaving off their HP with overwhelming electrical output.
Similar to the time she partied with Mii, Maple’s role as a defensive wall shines the brightest when she’s with someone who uses extreme offensive abilities.
Although the attacks from the monsters and the environmental damage was not soft by any means, they didn’t really mean much as they did no damage.
“Do your best, Velvet!”
“Leave it to me!”
The damage was accumulating. As they would surely win if this goes on, Maple just continued to watch over Velvet’s attack without doing anything extra.
The two kept progressing and swept the lightning area of monsters. After having confirmed that the quest’s completion condition was met, they moved away from there.
“Even though some of those boulders worked as lightning rods, they still were absurdly loud, after all.”
“Yeah, they made so much noise…”
Not only did the lightning in that area easily erase the noise created by the monsters, it also took away their vision with the blinding light and so in reality, it was more annoying than the monsters themselves.
Even if they were in the safe zones with the lightning rods, they couldn’t even talk properly with all the noise in the background.
The two went far enough so that the sound of lightning didn’t reach them and sat down on top of a boulder.
“There doesn’t seem to be many monsters around this area.”
“Without all that lightning, we can take it easy.”
Monsters wouldn’t really go up the boulder either so they won’t be getting into any battle if they just stayed put.
“Thank you again for today! That defense sure is something else…”
“I won’t lose to anyone in defense!”
“I don’t think there’s anyone who could beat you in defense either. If there was, they would’ve been popular by now!”
Such abnormality can’t really be hidden well in confrontations. Besides, now that everyone more or less knows about Maple, even if a person like that appears, they would instantly be compared to Maple and it would become a hot topic.
The fact that such talks didn’t come up even after they reached the 9th layer just means that nobody like that exists.
“I hear your defense was outstanding even in the first even so…”
“Ah, right… You weren’t there in the first event, were you, Velvet?”
“That’s right! I started right after it ended!”
“About the same time as Sally then! Do you play this type of game often?”
“Hinata does, more than me. I was invited to this one.”
Although she didn’t really speak of any details, it was evident that Hinata and Velvet knew each other in the real world as well.
“I was invited by Sally too! We’re the same! Or so I’d like to say but I’m still not as used to it as you are…”
“I have a long way to go as well!”
“Eh~? Really?”
Velvet’s movements were refined and it didn’t feel like she would be any less than Sally. Her positioning during fights felt way more natural than Maple as well.
“So Hinata wanted to play games with you too!”
“But the reason she invited me was a bit different this time.”
“Ah, I see.”
“…It’s more of a practice.”
Seeing Maple confused, Velvet cleared her throat and straightened her back sharply.
“…How is it? Don’t I look gentle and ladylike?”
As she lightly joined her hands and gave a gentle smile with that, she looked completely different from the lively and vigorous Velvet just a while ago. No one could tell that she uses lightning and those fists for fights.
“Amazing… you’re like a completely different person!”
“Haa, that’s not my natural posture so it’s really tiring.”
“Your usual posture is really nice too, in my opinion.”
“Really? That makes me happy! But it is also true that I have to learn this… After all, I am a daughter of a respected family.”
“Eh?! Really?!”
That would make sense considering the change just a while ago. Although one is more natural than the other, she could tell that she had been using both postures for quite a long time now.
“Yes. And that’s why Hinata suggested this as a place for practice.”
If she’s surrounded with people she doesn’t know and if it’s in a game, her changing tones and aura wouldn’t really affect her real life. The perfect place for practice.
That said, old habits die hard. Even Maple could tell that the results of her practice hadn’t reached her desired state yet.
And like that, Velvet and Maple gossiped for a while.
“Do you play other games too, Maple?”
“Nope, not really. This is the first one I played for this long.”
“And you are a guild master already! Is this what they call a prodigy?”
“Nothing of the sort~. Sally comes up with the guild strategies and everyone else also thinks about stuff!”
“Having that unity is sure nice! …Mm, then is everyone from Maple Tree going to the same faction?”
“Hmmm… I had the opportunity to talk to Mii and Mr. Payne so, I guess it’s still under consideration?”
“You have yet to decide on a faction, then?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“I plan on opposing you this time~.”
“Mmm, then maybe I should hide it till the very end and end up as your ally…”
It goes without saying but ‘thunder storm’ is a very strong guild as well. It would be best to keep them as allies.
“That’s a nice strategy! Did Sally teach you that?”
“She didn’t really say anything specific so I’m just speaking from reference… I saw her doing stuff, after all.”
It would appear Maple was learning a thing or two from Sally, for what it matters. While she can’t really mimic her movement, she can at least try and get close to her line of thought.
“Are you guys gonna be together as a guild in a faction?”
“I decided to leave all that stuff to everyone else! But I will stick with Hinata, of course!”
Just like how Velvet wants to try fighting against Maple, there are many others who want to try fighting Velvet considering how strong she is.
It seems she doesn’t mind how things play out in that regard.
“There would be a lotta different opinions in a big guild, after all.”
“That’s right! …It’s also one of your responsibilities, you know?”
“I guess that’s true as well.”
Even Maple had a guild — ‘Maple Tree’, and while the number of members are low, she did in fact have guild members to think about. There may be a difference in opinions but they have to bounce ideas and unify their way of thinking or stance towards events.
“I’ll be looking forward to the event!”
“Mmm, become my ally~.”
“I’ll be your enemy~!”
They were wary of each other for now but the final decision was yet to come.

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