Defense Specialization and Symbiosis 408

Maple went down the stairs and realized the ambiance down the stairs were very different from the floor above as the stairs were made of stone and weren’t illuminated.

“I better be careful not to fall… Umm, let’s see, I should prepare a light source…”

Maple brought out the light that she had Izu made and turned it on. This light was quite convenient as well — it was shaped like a ball and would float and follow the user around, lighting up their surroundings. Unlike lanterns, one doesn’t need to carry it around and Maple was honestly pretty happy about it.

The walls around the staircase were also made with similar unrefined stone like the stairs. If one were to suddenly be thrown into a place like this, they would definitely mistake it for a dungeon.

However, since it is actually inside the royal castle, it seems monsters wouldn’t be coming out here. Only Maple’s footsteps resounded in the darkness as she made her way down.

After going down those stairs for a while, she spotted a door at the end.

“I wonder if there’s nothing else?”

She checked her surroundings before opening the door but there was no other path or anything of importance. Thinking that the only way forward is the door, Maple grasped the door knob. She slowly turned the knob and the door opened along with it.

It seemed like people hadn’t entered this area in quite a long time as dust fluttered everywhere when she opened the door.

“Is this place not used anymore or something?”

Just like the floor above, it looked like this floor had also been part of the library before as there were bookshelves and a few books left in them.

She decided to take a quick look around the place before heading back.

“Is there even anything here… Hmm, just weird books.”

The shelves were more or less empty and the covers of the books left could be seen easily. These books felt oddly real and she sometimes even felt like they had a pulse. That said, they didn’t really look too well as they had red-brownish stains and so none of them really caught Maple’s attention.

“”The floor above had prettier books so if I really were to read one, I guess I’ll pick from there.”

As many of these books didn’t even have a title and she didn’t know what they were about, she had even more reason not to touch them.

Just when Maple was about to head back after going through the room, a sound other than her footsteps resounded in the room.

And it came from behind her — just beside her ears, to be exact.

“…Hey, come over here.”

“Wah?! Wh-who is it?!”

Maple panickedly turned around after hearing a hoarse man’s voice but there was nothing there. It felt to her as if they were standing right behind her. And even if they were faster than Sally, they shouldn’t be able to disappear from her sight altogether that quick.

As she didn’t feel any familiarity with the voice, it was probably not a prank by anyone she knew. However, even after looking around the room again, she couldn’t spot anything abnormal.

That said, she was sure that she hadn’t misheard it and so she decided to walk around the room to determine the source of the voice.

“Here, here.”

“Wah! Again…!”

While she was certainly taken aback by the sudden voice, she decided to follow it for the time being as it didn’t do any harm.

She found a rack there, about as tall as her chest. A single book was laid on top of the rack and it was sealed with bandages which had red letters on them, as if to stop people from reading it.

“All you have to do is open it.”

“This? …Ahh, there it goes again, disappearing after saying stuff one-sidedly.”

As there was no reply to her question, she had no choice but to do as it said.

“Do I just undo this knot?”

As Maple removed the cloth covering the book, intense wind came rushing out of the book and a red effect similar to a magic circle filled the room.

Realizing that something bad was about to happen, Maple quickly crawled on the floor and closed the book shut and covered it with the cloth again.

The intense wind suddenly disappeared, returning the room back to silence and indicating her actions were correct.

“That caught me off guard… what in the world was that?”

“Thanks for the help. I will be borrowing your mana for the time being.”

“Waaawah, who is it, for real?!”

She quickly looked around her again but as expected, there was nobody there other than herself.

While Maple was troubled with the whole one-sided conversation, the door behind her was slammed open.

“Waah?! …T-the king?”

And there she was, the dragonkin king of the country, whom she had met at the throne room at first.

She walked up close to Maple and stared at her.

“You — how did you get in here?”

“Umm, by using the stairs…”

“Did the one here think you’re its ally and lure you in… hmm?”

The king pinched Maple’s cheeks and pulled on them.

“Wh-whachu doin’?!”

“For the forbidden book to treat you as its ally… Are you really human? Will something weird come out of you if I tear you open?”

Just as the king released her, Maple panickedly took a few steps back.

“No, it won’t!”

In reality, it wouldn’t be weird if something weird did come out of her — something even more monstrous than your usual monster — but nevertheless, she did still classify as a human.

“That’s fine but you’ll be consumed alive if you try to live along with that thing. Think of it as a punishment for entering without permission.”

Saying that, the king joined her hands in front of her chest before slowly separating them — and upon doing so, red-black light began appearing and before long, a mirror manifested in the air, which was big enough to reflect Maple’s whole body.

She instructed her to look at it and so Maple got closer and was shocked to see what it reflected.

“Wh-what is this—?!”

“Good luck on doing something before that thing consumes you whole!”

As if she had worn face paint, half of Maple’s face was covered in a pitch-black pattern. And of course, she was unable to rub it off. It also looked as if it was decaying her body like worms do.

Paying no heed to the perplexed Maple, a quest forcibly commenced.

“’The Taboo’s Lord is’… Uhhh, I’ve never heard of this…”

As the quest name didn’t pop up in her conversation with Sally or Mii, Maple had no idea on what to do next.

“You won’t be able to use magic properly like that! I’ll pick up your bones at least, after you die. It would be troublesome to have it scattered around the place.”

“Eehhh!?”

And so, Maple checked her skills only to find that all of them were unusable, including her equipment. Her prized defensive skills were still active as they are passive skills but she was nothing but a weird tough ornament like this.

Judging from the king’s wording, she wouldn’t be freed from this state unless she completes the quest. But that’s just very troublesome as there’s also an event going on.

“I better hurry!”

Maple rushed out the royal castle to complete the quest.

 

 

835: Nameless Longsword User

Hey! That girl is going delinquent, you know?!

 

836: Nameless archer

That’s probably just fashion these days.

 

837: Nameless Spear User

Who?

 

838: Nameless Longsword User

Maple

 

839: Nameless Spear User

Ahh….

 

840: Nameless Wizard

Did she really? While she did look like that, she didn’t really feel different, did she?

 

841: Nameless Longsword User

I saw her in the town and half of her face had like a black smudge

 

842: Nameless Spear User

Is it a side-effect from a skill?

There’s a lot that comes to mind…

 

843: Nameless archer

It could just be fashion, you know!

 

844: Nameless Wizard

She can be a bit off sometimes but I feel like this is in a completely different direction

 

845: Nameless large shield user

Ooohh, did she do it?

 

846: Nameless Spear User

Guardian—

This is what happens when you don’t keep an eye on them

 

847: Nameless large shield user

We were talking about it

That it’d be best to have her act indepently

 

848: Nameless archer

I request a change in the schooling policy!

Please!!

 

849: Nameless Spear User

Ahh, she has strayed off

it is your fault

 

850: Nameless large shield user

Isn’t it wonderful?

 

851: Nameless Wizard

What are you, a mad scientist?

 

852: Nameless large shield user

I didn’t really hear what it is so there’s a chance it’s really just fashion

 

853: Nameless Spear User

I mean, sure, there’s that possibility

They sell face paint in a lotta shops too

 

854: Nameless large shield user

But it doesn’t feel like that from what I’ve heard, to be honest

I mean, even if she did apply face paint, it would be more of the… cute kind, you know?

 

855: Nameless Spear User

There we have it

Ahh she really strayed off the path

It’s your fault!

 

856: Nameless Longsword User

Don’t make the cute girl go around traveling like that!

 

857: Nameless archer

That said, I’ve never seen a skill that changes one’s appearance forever so there’s a chance it’s not a skill

 

858: Nameless large shield user

The event is closing in so you’ll have to experience the results in person

 

859: Nameless Longsword User

At least keep an eye on her

 

860: Nameless Wizard

I don’t have good memories of things associated with black

 

861: Nameless Spear User

Getting stronger just by letting loose is sure easy, huh

 

862: Nameless Archer

That said, the range of skills that Maple can adapt to is actually narrow, so even a good skill might end up failing

 

863: Nameless Wizard

It wouldn’t do much good if it just raises the status percentage, after all

 

864: Nameless Longsword User

We aaaaaaalways say that

 

865: Nameless Wizard

Please forgive me

 

866: Nameless Archer

Everyone! Same faction! Let’s go!

 

 

There is nothing to worry about if you are an ally. In addition, the buffs apply to a wider range of events, so if the skills you get have a buff effect then that’s even better.

Thus, with renewed resolve, the members of the bulletin board brought this information back to their respective guilds.

 

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