Itai no wa Iya nanode Bōgyo-Ryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu 429

 

Defense Specialization and the Secret Skill

 

 

After having successfully withdrawn safely from the battle and getting closer to the town, Drag and Dred ran into Payne, who was giving instructions to some other fellow guild members.

 

“Oh, you’re back already?”

 

“Yeah, we had an encounter with a few troublesome opponents. We were thinking of calling in reinforcements in order to try to corral them, but they didn’t seem to come after us after all.”

 

“‘It was ‘Rapid Shot’ and ‘Thunder Storm’. [Rapid Fire] and [Thunder Storm] came. It looked like it was four people in total.”

 

“Hmm… I don’t think that only four of them will risk chasing you into our territory, but let’s be vigilant just in case.”

 

From the fact that the enemy hadn’t pushed themselves into pursuing Dred and Drag, Payne understood that, although they wanted to defeat the enemy in front of them with everything they had, they didn’t intend to risk more than necessary.

 

“It wouldn’t be too strange to think that they could be planning to attack our headquarters, would it?”

 

“With Velvet’s energy, I would be surprised if they weren’t planning to do something like that!”

 

“Ah… By the way, Velvet has used a Skill I’ve never seen before. We should tell ‘Maple Tree’ about it, Payne. Sally definitely needs to hear about this.”

 

“I see. Tell me about it.”

 

Dred told Payne about Velvet’s “Overcharge”. In order to fight against it in the safest possible way, it was necessary to have access to a Skill that either allowed for a powerful long-range attack, or a defensive ability to leap away from its wide area of effect.

 

“I understand. I’ll let ‘Maple Tree’ know about this then. They should be coming back soon with Frederica soon enough.”

 

“Oh, are they done already? It looks like things are going well on their end!”

 

Frederica and ‘Maple Tree’ had gone out to set up more bombs in enemy territory. With both Frederica and Sally on board not only would it be easier for them to search for enemies thanks to Knots, but they would also have an easier time doing any kind of covert operations.

 

“Yes. There’s something else that’s related to that. We heard a series of explosions over here as well, but they were smaller and more dispersed than the one we’ve heard before. I wonder if the enemy has already discovered some of the traps Maple and the others had set over there…”

 

“If that’s the case, it had to be either Wilbert or Hinata. It’s possible that either of those two have the Skills to suppress the damage taken from bombs.”

 

It looked like it wasn’t going that well after all. Still, it was worth knowing when something didn’t work as expected.

 

“You two need to rest. A big battle is coming.”

 

“Okay!”

 

“Ah… Resting sounds good. I’m completely beat.”

 

With that, Drag and Dred returned to town. After a short while, the eight members of Maple Tree and Frederica returned as well.

 

“Hey, Payne! Did anything happen while we were away?”

 

“No signs of the enemy so far. How did it go?”

 

“It went well. We also happened to come across some enemies, but we defeated them. Mai and Yui disappeared, and the next moment, all of the enemies were instantly killed, so I wonder if they even know what hit them~”

 

“I’m just glad it went well!”

 

“It was all thanks to Frederica telling us where the enemies were…”

 

The enemy faction still didn’t know about Mai and Yui’s instant-kill strategy that utilizes Oboro and Sou to trick the enemy. After all, the dead don’t speak. If no one survives the attack, there would be no way for the enemy to tell others what had happened.

 

“We’ve planted a lot of bombs!”

 

“I hope they work as intended…”

 

Just as Sally began to talk, a series of immense fire pillars were seen piercing the heavens from the distant other side of the forest. The blast that engulfed that area was so big and had so much power that no player in the vicinity should be able to survive it.

 

“…Looks like they do, huh?”

 

“It certainly does. It helps that the results come out so quickly.”

 

“We were right to get out of there quickly.”

 

“It’s too bad that the bombs will hit friend and foe alike. I know we’ve let everyone else know where we were planting those bombs, but it would be nice if none of our allies were to get caught up in one of those explosions…”

 

“That’s right. We can’t afford to lose anyone.”

 

“I wonder if the fact that we’ve defeated several people earlier has drawn the next party into our traps?”

 

None of them knew exactly how much damage had been done to the enemy forces thanks to those bombs, but they could guess that it had been considerable.

The traps had yielded good results. Thus the next move of “Maple Tree” was to go back to town and get some rest like Dred and Drag had done before them. After all, they were exhausted after going to the front lines so many times and putting themselves in a situation where a battle would happen at any time for the day.

They needed to be in top condition in order to lessen the risk of making a bad call in an important situation.

 

“I have an important message from Dred especially for you, Sally.”

 

“For me? Got it.”

 

Sally then told Maple and the others to go ahead without her.

Then, Payne passed along the information he had gotten from Dred.

 

“Oh, I see…”

 

“You said that you fought Velvet once, but at that time she must have not unlocked such a Skill yet.”

 

Back when Sally took the same side as “Congregation of the Holy Swords”, she had shared with them the Skills she had seen Velvet use during their previous duel.

 

“This Skill must have been some kind of ace up her sleeve she had been saving. I’ll try to be as careful about that Skill as possible. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to deal with that Skill no matter what I do… I’ll check with Iz from time to time if any of our bombs have been removed so we can all be aware of it as soon as possible.”

 

“That’ll be a great help. Now, there was another thing. I’d like to hear your opinion on the battle situation so we can better plan our next move.”

 

Sally was acting as the main representative of “Maple Tree” during this event. This is why Payne had asked her to stay with him for a moment.

 

“…I have the impression that we have yet to get an honest-to-goodness, full-fledged battle on our hands. We haven’t gotten too deep into the event yet, so this could be either a good or a bad thing.”

 

“I think so too. Even Velvet could have caught up with Dred and Drag if they had pushed themselves a bit harder than they did. Deaths are happening on both sides, but the front line has hardly moved from the center of this event field.”

 

The reason why neither side was pushing was that there hadn’t been any deaths that would give an overwhelming advantage over the difference in numbers so far. The event wasn’t going to be finished any time soon, so there was no reason to be in a hurry, and above all, the fact that players couldn’t afford to get killed even once led both sides to plan their moves with a focus on avoiding major risks before anything else.

Incidentally, the existence of incredibly powerful Skills such as Mii’s “Daybreak” and Maple’s “Annihilation Area” had driven many players from both sides to drop out of the event, but this wasn’t something that would lead either side to victory on its own.

The sense of the scales not tipping in anyone’s favor was still maintained by the fact that neither faction was particularly one step ahead of the other.

 

“It certainly feels like this could be all settled the very moment the right opportunity presents itself to either side…”

 

“That’s right. A big battle is sure to unfold soon enough. With these many players participating in the event, people from opposing factions are going to come across each other, and the situation could change greatly at any time because of it.”

 

At the same time, Payne and Sally remembered that at that time, a forced event in which monsters from both sides of this event area started attacking the camps on their own side could take place. If either side fails to do something about it, the players from the other faction could attack and defeat the monsters on the former’s side and continue to advance using that momentum. And if both sides were to leave that threat unchecked, they would all be driven to the fields, where a large-scale conflict will inevitably occur. In that scenario, the first focus for each side would undoubtedly be whether or not they can take an advantage at that moment.

 

“The enemy should be attacking from the center, where ‘Kingdom of the Flame Emperor’ has built a castle that cannot be easily destroyed. There they remain on the front lines, waiting for the right opportunity to strike.”

 

“The formation of ‘Kingdom of the Flame Emperor’ is very powerful, isn’t it? Our top priority would be to match that strength ourselves…”

 

Sally had no objections to that. There was no way to get anywhere near the enemy frontline from the ground as they moved forward while burning down anything and anyone in their path with Mii at the center of it all.

Sally’s side had to think about which would be their best course of action. Should they try to deal with it head-on, or should they attack from the sides and maneuver with their troops while applying pressure to them by threatening to aim for their castle?

 

“What do you think, Payne?”

 

“I… I think it’s better to take the battle straight to the heart of the problem.”

 

“…I’m a little surprised to hear that.”

 

“Haha, I bet you are. I can’t imagine what will happen if we just leave ‘Kingdom of the Flame Emperor’ and ‘Thunder Storm’ to their own devices in the center of the battlefield. Things are going to get really rough for us if they manage to break through our lines.”

 

Payne felt that they had no choice but to deal with the enemy. Though it could be seen as him being too negative about it, he felt that the strength of the group formed by “Kingdom of the Flame Emperor” and “Thunder Storm” actually surpassed that of this side.

 

“However, there is still a high possibility that doing so will put us at a disadvantage. We’re in a bit of a lose-lose situation here.”

 

Having heard so far, Sally understood what the “Congregation of the Holy Swords” wanted from “Maple Tree”.

 

“There are several ways to turn the tide of battle. When it comes to clashing with the enemy head on, it’s best to do it while you still have a large number of troops available… But I think we need to think about our options.”

 

Sally averted her eyes for a moment as she tried to find the right words to finish her sentence.

 

“What’s on your mind? Can you tell me?”

 

“Can we wait to get into the details about it until we get back to town? It’s a little difficult for me to decide this on my own. After all, your ‘Congregation of the Holy Swords’ will go back to being our rivals once this event is over.”

 

“Hmm, it seems to be quite the ace up your sleeve. Of course, I understand.”

 

“I don’t think the rest of my guild will oppose me sharing this with you, though. But I still need to discuss this with the rest of my team.”

 

They had to give it their all and win this thing. That was the goal right now, but everyone had to think hard about how much they were willing to concede in order to achieve their victory. With that in mind, Sally took Payne to Maple, who had the ability to turn the tide of this battle.

 

 

 

The rest of the members of “Maple Tree” had already parted ways with Frederica –who headed up to the outer wall to search for enemies– were resting in an open space in town, just a bit past the main gate, as if they were waiting for Payne and Sally to return after their conversation was over.

 

“Ah, Sally! Are you done talking?”

 

“Yeah. As far as what the two of us had to talk about…”

 

“…?”

 

“From this point on, our conversation concerns you, Maple.”

 

The biggest battle so far was just around the corner. And Sally had an idea of ​​how Maple could contribute to it.

 

“I was thinking that you could use that, Maple.”

 

“…! Yeah, that!”

 

“So, I thought that in order for us to make the best use out of it, we might need everyone to know about it…”

 

“It’s okay! Besides, it would be risky to use that without properly explaining what it does first!”

 

“Haha, so it’s something that could be dangerous even to allies? …That’s a bit scary.”

 

Apparently, this “ace up the sleeve” wasn’t some new defensive Skill that would protect everyone near Maple. The way Sally and Maple were talking led Payne to believe that this was some kind of indiscriminate wide-range attack instead.

 

That…

 

“Yeah. If we’re using that, then they definitely need to know about it.”

 

“Especially since there’s going to be a lot of players gathered around.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“If we don’t tell them…”

 

“…Then it’s gonna get very messy, even for us!”

 

Seeing that even for the members of “Maple Tree”, who were most likely already used to seeing Maple’s eccentricities, had to think of the consequences of using “that” before deciding, Payne found himself a little hesitant about whether or not to rely on this “secret weapon”. But if it was that good, then it should be fine to use as long as they kept it as safe as possible for everyone.

 

“Then please tell me about it if you don’t mind. What’s this ace up your sleeve?”

 

“Sure!”

 

After answering cheerfully, Maple shared the details of her Skill with Payne.

 

“…I see. Now I understand why you all reacted like that.”

 

The now unusually shaken Payne let out a sigh to calm himself down and considered his strategy based on this new information.

 

“First of all, we need to gather people to go to the center of the battlefield. Everyone from both ‘Congregation of the Holy Swords’ and ‘Maple Tree’, as well as many players from other guilds as we can get.”

 

“Yeah!”

 

“Or rather, we wouldn’t be able to use this Skill properly otherwise…”

 

“Yeah… That’s right.”

 

Maple cheerfully agreed to reveal her trump card to all of the players they managed to gather for this operation. All they had to do was gather the people and tell them.

 

“I have some footage of the Skill in action, so I think it’ll be best to play it on the monitor once we’re all together.”

 

“Oh, you have footage?”

 

“Back when we started talking about using it during the event, I just thought it would be quicker to explain how the Skill works with footage.”

 

“Yeah, it’ll be better if everyone can see for themselves what that Skill can do.”

 

Payne then said that, while their preparations for strategies to deal with the eventual advance of monsters were still underway, he still wanted to do something about the current situation of this event, where the “Kingdom of the Flame Emperor” had occupied the center of the battlefield.

 

“We’ll do our best!”

 

“Huh? Do you have something in mind, Maple?”

 

“Yep!”

 

After seeing Maple’s confident reply, Payne decided to leave the situation with “Kingdom of the Flame Emperor” to “Maple Tree”, and for him to focus on gathering as many players as possible using his position as the leader of the “Congregation of the Holy Swords”.

 

Players would be more inclined to volunteer for this strategy if the leader of this game’s most influential Guild, the “Congregation of the Holy Swords” were to be the one asking them. “Congregation of the Holy Swords” was better suited for gathering players than “Maple Tree”.

 

And so, both Guilds began to carry out their respective tasks to move this strategy forward. They would need to do everything they could in order to give themselves even the slightest advantage when the time for the decisive battle finall comes.

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