Thanks to the Editor for pointing out issues
Defense Specialization and Savagery
After a short while since the day the third layer was added, Maple and the others arrived at the dungeon that led to the third layer.
It was a party of six including Izu.
The maximum size of a single party was eight, so it was possible for all current members to form a single party.
Though, with this lineup, they could probably storm through just about any dungeon.
In fact, it would have been more than enough with just Sally, Chrome and Kasumi, with Kanade as support.
As they made their way through, Maple did not participate in the fighting at all, and only concentrated on protecting Ize.
“Great, let’s go to the boss room, then.”
“Yeah, let’s clean this up quickly.”
So saying, Kasumi opened the doors and everyone went inside.
And then the boss appeared in the back of the room.
The boss had the appearance of a tree, and its trunk had a face on it.
Maple and company had broken through the first layer before, so they wondered if this boss also had some kind of fruit hanging from it, but could not see anything like it.
“Okay, I’ll go first. ‘Provoke’!”
Maple headed straight for the boss.
The boss began to attack Maple with its stretched out roots and branches, but they had no effect on her.
And while it moved futilely like that, Maple reached its base.
“‘Predator’ ‘Hydra’ ‘Oozing Chaos’!”
The monsters showed themselves from around Maple. The hydra spread its pollution all over the roots, and then the roots were eaten by the monsters that sprung out afterward.
It’s HP bar was decreasing rapidly.
But the two monsters would not stop attacking.
The tree boss was now visibly furious, it began to launch its attacks at the two monsters.
Maple’s HP started to drop just as angel wings sprouted behind her back. What she had done was to receive the damage that should have gone to the monsters and make it harmless.
Then Maple quickly took out a potion to recover her HP.
The five others watched all of this from a corner of the room.
“What is that? No matter how one might deny it, she’s practically a monster now… That’s what I think.”
“Right…it does seem like it…”
“How does she have new equipment every time we see her…”
“I’m relieved that nothing’s changed with her.”
“Ah, I don’t care anymore as long she’s an ally…an ally…”
Such were the things that the five members talked about, as they tried to accept this new evolution of Maple.
However, Maple still had one skill left to show.
Maple had been meaning to test this skill here, so she couldn’t finish the fight before using it.
Maple muttered quietly, then a black light began to envelop her body.
It turned into a column of black light that stretch up towards the ceiling before turning into a monster that resembled the two who were next to Maple.
The only difference was that this one had several arms and legs.
And the two monsters next to Maple had now vanished.
The new monster charged at the boss tree and grabbed it, then unleashed a torrent of fire from its mouth.
The flames were very effective on the tree, now it was using its roots, branches and even magic to attack the monster.
However, not only was the boss tree unable to defeat the monster, it was not even able to deal it a single scratch.
The monster’s claws cleaved into the trunk, its kicks caused the wood to cave in, and it bit into the tree with a mouth that took up its entire face.
The two creatures fought like this for some time, but eventually, the boss tree could not take it anymore, and collapsed to the ground.
The monster was now walking heavily in the direction of Sally and the others.
They stared cautiously as the monster opened its gigantic mouth.
“Argggh…this thing is difficult to control!”
The monster said. Everyone stood still and stupefied.
“Yeah, you couldn’t tell?”
There was noise mixed in with the distorted monster’s voice, but it was apparently Maple.
While everyone else was bewildered, Sally asked Maple if should return to her real form.
“Hmm…wait a sec.”
She said, and then a few seconds later, the monster’s stomach tore open and Maple came tumbling out.
Once she was out of the monster, its body crumbled and then disappeared.
The five other members approached her.
“I’d be pretty happy for an explanation, or whatever you can provide…”
For once it seemed that Maple had exceeded what Sally was usually able to tolerate.
“Um…what it does is, in exchange for your gear’s effects being taken away, your ‘STR’ and ‘AGI’ are increased fifty times and your HP becomes 1,000. And even if you run out of HP, you just return to your normal form…”
The demerit was that the ability boosts from your gear and your skills would become unusable and that it only worked once a day.
With this skill, Maple now had an emergency escape if she were ever close to death.
“Ahh…so you finally decided to stop being human, huh.”
“Oh, she has. There is no doubt about it.”
It wasn’t just a figure of speech, Maple had really found a way to become an actual monster.
“It’s so hard to control…it’s like, I don’t know. Being inside of a huge mascot costume?”
Apparently, Maple was not able to control it in a precise fashion.
“Well…the one before this was also quite strange.”
Sally had already been feeling this was getting out of hand when she saw the two snakes grow out of the ground.
“Even I know that this isn’t really normal…”
“Mmm… It’s faster than riding on Syrup, though…”
“I don’t think you should use it for transportation.”
It was no longer just a young girl dragging monsters behind her, the scene would be that of a hideous monster suddenly roaming about on the field.
“I’ll practice up in the mountains so I can use it better in combat, okay.”
“I bet anyone who sees that will misunderstand…”
Though, there was no helping it since she had already got the skill.
Maple was already walking towards the third layer now, and the other went after her.
The third layer’s town was covered by a cloudy sky and was a town of machines and tools.
There was one thing that the members of Maple Tree realized when they reached it.
It was a very obvious difference, something that anyone would have noticed.
“Everyone’s flying, huh.”
Like Maple said, almost all of the players here were using various machines to fly in the sky.
“Is it some kind of item?”
“Hmmm… Isn’t it those things?”
What Sally was pointing at were a variety of machines that could be bought with gold. As they watched, one player bought a machine with blue lights on it, before using that machine to shoot up into the sky.
“This looks like it will be an interesting layer.”
“Indeed. I suppose we’ll also fly in the sky and explore.”
Now that the members of Maple Tree knew what was the norm here, they set off for the guild home, which existed on every layer, including this one.