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Let’s be an Adventurer! ~Defeating Dungeons with a Skill Board~ 153

 

Let’s Heal Our Spirit with the Flavor of Meat!

 

 

The next day…

Haruki shared some of his Minotaur meat with Mr. Kitora, and sold the rest in Akane’s shop.

 

He didn’t get much money for it, but it would be a waste to let it all rot away just because he wanted it all for himself.

He could always go back to that floor and get as much meat as he wanted, for as long as he wanted.

There was absolutely no problem in selling it all away for the time being.

 

Akane had also asked Haruki to sell her the meat.

If he were to hog all that delicious meat to himself, the local residents would become hard-eyed.

 

“That guy only pretends he has good intentions!”

“So sneaky!”

“The only reason he only does good things is because he’s definitely planning to gain something out of it!”

 

Of course, Haruki wasn’t being selfish. But the local residents might start to think that way.

 

To prevent unnecessary friction, Akane would buy the meat and then put it up for sale at bargain price.

This was a necessary “request” for the adventurer business to gain local understanding.

 

After having finished their business, he and Karen went back to the 18th floor.

Haruki reviewed his own movements as he defeated more Minotaurs.

 

Masatsugu’s movements were way too difficult to master, after all.

However, Haruki was in no hurry.

 

Haruki had yet to perfectly master Shigure’s movements.

He wouldn’t expect to get any better at imitating Masatsugu’s movements before perfecting Shigure’s.

 

Carefully, don’t rush it, don’t make a mistake.

Take as long as it needs to imitate it accurately.

 

Haruki and Karen continued exploring the 18th floor while mapping it, day after day.

A week later, they arrived at the boss’s whereabouts on the 18th floor.

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

The man was instructed by Team Braver Leader Masatsugu to keep a close watch on a certain “Mask”.

“Mask” was a codename given to the man who had a practice duel with Masatsugu.

 

It was a rare thing for Masatsugu to go to the countryside of Hokkaido and ask someone for a practice duel like that.

That alone was enough to understand Masatsugu held this man in very high regard.

 

The man tilted his head once he saw Mask fighting with Masatsugu.

At that time, he thought, “Is this man really that special to Masatsugu?”

 

But that opinion changed quickly.

As he kept on fighting, Mask’s skill would keep on rising sharply.

 

The man’s breath was taken away by Mask’s growth speed.

 

(Can a person really get stronger this quickly?)

(Is he even–)

 

Human?

 

Mask had taken in so much from fighting Masatsugu in the blink of an eye, as if  water had been poured onto a desert’s sand.

By the end of their practice duel, his opinion of that masked man had changed completely.

 

(Wha-!?)

 

The moment he took off his mask, the man’s evaluation of Mask had gone off the charts.

 

(He just vanished!!)

 

Partly because of that, the man was now standing watch in front of Mask’s house.

If that masked man were to use that power for anything other than capturing dungeons, he would have to risk his life to stop him.

 

That had been the mission given to him by Team Braver…

 

If Mask were to fight him using his amazing stealth abilities, it would definitely become a battle where he would have to put his life on the line.

Even if it meant to stall for time until Masatsugu came back from his trip.

 

The man earnestly hoped that such a future would never come true.

 

“But that masked man has yet to come out…”

 

After the practice duel with Masatsugu, the man hadn’t moved from his spot in front of the masked man’s house.

Though it wasn’t as strong as the masked man, the man had an Enlightenment-based Stealth skill.

The only one who could see through his skill was Masatsugu, and only when he was being serious.

 

Using that skill, the man was keeping a close watch on Mask while alerting anyone of his presence.

 

However, Mask hasn’t come out ever since he entered the house after the practice duel.

His teammate had been moving around, though.

She had gone to the Ichibishi store across the street, where the store’s clerk was having a barbecue.

 

What had she been doing behind Mask’s back?

Wasn’t she afraid of Mask getting angry with her?

 

He had his doubts, but that masked man hadn’t shown up for that barbecue at all.

 

He had been monitoring Mask for an entire week.

 

“What should I report to Masatsugu…?”

 

An entire week had passed, and the man hadn’t even seen Mask once.

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

For the past week, Haruki had a daily routine to make repeated side jumps in front of that man every morning.

He would do this every day, hoping that the man would notice him someday, but it was as he was completely blind.

 

He would do this every day, and every day his heart would be broken a little bit more.

 

To continue doing this routine despite his broken heart would be plain stubbornness.

But to stop doing it would make him feel like he had lost a battle of sorts.

 

So Haruki thought, “I’ll just keep doing it until he notices me!”, but then the man seemed to have reached the limit of his physical strength.

 

It made sense, after all.

That man hadn’t moved an inch from that place for more than a week.

 

His beard was thick and unkempt, and his clothes were blackened.

Besides, his face showed that he was suffering from extreme fatigue.

 

The only thing that man seemed to have cared about all this time was his smell.

Although he looked terribly dirty, he hardly smelled.

He seemed to have sprinkled himself with a deodorant made from dungeon materials.

 

Haruki didn’t know why he was doing all that.

However, as he looked at that man, his appearance reminded him of himself, back when he was working at the printing company, which deeply moved Haruki and brought him close to tears.

 

“…You poor thing. I don’t know what you’re going through, but please don’t overdo it.”

 

Haruki grilled some minotaur meat, cut it to make it easier to eat, and left it on a plate next to the man.

I hope this meat will heal this man’s fatigue, even if only a little…

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

The suddenly appetizing smell made the man frown with suspicion.

It was the smell of grilled meat.

 

“Who on earth grills meat this early in the morning… Gosh, I’m so envious!”

 

The man was extremely exhausted.

He had been standing watch for over a week.

There was no way he wouldn’t be exhausted.

 

But he couldn’t just ignore Masatsugu’s orders and go home without producing any results.

 

But the smell of grilled meat…

After not having eaten properly for the past week, the man’s stomach had been fiercely stimulated by it.

 

He wanted to eat, but couldn’t.

Such thoughts made the man helplessly irritated.

 

“Damn it! I want to eat some meat!!”

 

Unable to bear it any longer, the man slammed his fist on the ground.

Next to that spot…

 

“…Huh?”

 

Before he realized it, there was a plate with a grilled steak on it.

The meat seemed to have been grilled just recently. It was still steaming.

 

“…B-But when…?”

 

It made no sense.

(Maybe I’m just seeing things?)

Thinking so, the man reached for the plate.

 

“Whoa!!”

 

As soon as he touched the steak, its warmth was transmitted to his hand.

It wasn’t too hot, but the man was surprised to withdraw his hand and almost reflexively take his fingertips to his mouth.

 

“…!!”

 

At that moment, the man lost control over himself.

He reached for the plate again and took a piece of steak into his mouth without any manners whatsoever.

 

“Hmmm… So taaastyyyy…”

 

The man shed tears as he ate the steak.

It was the first time he had eaten steak ever since he was assigned to Hokkaido.

 

A nostalgic flavor…

The sweet flavor of its fat spreaded throughout his mouth.

 

There was no wasabi or mustard on it, and yet the back of the man’s nose was tingling.

At the same time, tears started to appear in his eyes.

 

“So tasty… Mmm… Yummy… Hmm…”

 

The man quickly ate all of the steak from the plate.

He continued to shed tears for a while after he had finished eating.

 

His tears wiped off lines of dirt as they came down through his dirty cheeks.

The flavor of meat soaked into the man’s exhausted mind and body.

 

As he stopped his tears, the man stood up, feeling completely refreshed.

 

“…I’ll go home now.”

 

* * * * * * * *

 

Before he knew it, the man who had been standing in the same spot for more than a week had vanished.

Haruki rushed to the place where the man was and looked around.

However, he couldn’t see him anywhere.

 

It seemed that he hadn’t succumbed to his extreme fatigue after all.

Realizing that, Haruki let out a sigh of relief.

 

However, he regretted that his daily routine was suddenly gone before he could show his presence to that man.

If he ever comes back here sometime, then definitely…!

Haruki renewed his determination.

 

Joined by Karen, they headed for the 18th floor.

Today would be the day where they would challenge the boss of that floor.

 

They proceeded onwards as they cut their way through Minotaur and finally arrived at the place where the boss was.

It was an open forest, just like it had been in previous floors.

 

A remarkably dark and large Minotaur was sitting in that open space.

That was the boss of the 18th floor.

 

Haruki and Karen checked on their equipment one last time.

The 19th floor awaited past this boss.

The day when they would become advanced adventurers was drawing nearer.

 

With that in mind, Haruki’s mood improved all the more.

He took a deep breath and let his energy flow throughout his entire body.

 

Be aware of the depths of your chest and boost your concentration.

Focus with everything you’ve got.

The louder the ringing you hear in your ears, the sharper your senses will become.

 

“…Let’s go.”

“Okay!”

 

Haruki took out his short sword and moved forward.

As soon as he emerged from behind a bush, the boss readied itself.

Though it seemed relaxed, there were no openings in his posture.

 

This is good.

This is really good!

 

Haruki could see a fierce battle coming, and his spine trembled.

However, he was grinning.

 

It would be no fun to easily cut his way through the dungeon.

It was more interesting when things were more difficult.

 

Haruki took a light step forward, and then dashed instantly.

1 second, 2 seconds.

There was no reaction from the boss to Haruki’s sudden approach.

 

After 3 seconds, the boss finally reacted.

However, Haruki was already slashing at it.

 

Right before he could cut through its body…

 

*Clink!!*

 

The boss had blocked Haruki’s attack.

It had protected itself simply by raising its weapon.

It was simple, but also very effective.

 

Haruki’s grin became more and more prominent.

 

In quick succession, he cleared it away with the Magic Sword in his other hand.

He closed in for another attack.

He made his mask shine, and tried slashing at its hand.

However, the boss easily blocked this attack as well.

 

Still, Haruki didn’t get anxious.

Haruki’s goal was not to chop its hand off.

It was to turn the boss’s awareness to its hand.

 

“–!!”

“Mmmrrrooogghh!?

 

The boss sounded confused.

No wonder, though.

Haruki had attacked from its blind spot, kicking the side of its head.

 

He had guided the boss’s line of sight with the mask’s light and the attack to its hand, then predicted its movements through its breathing, and then quickly relaxed the flow of energy from his mask.

Making a slight use of his Stealth ability, Haruki managed to quickly enter the boss’s blind spot.

 

That had been one of the tactics he had been practicing over the past week.

 

The boss seemed to have been too busy paying attention to what he could see, so it had no chance to react to Haruki’s attack.

 

Having been kicked on the side of the head, the boss had been tremendously thrown off balance.

Then…

 

*–Vrrroooommm!!*

*–Ratatatat!!*

 

A double attack by Karen and Rhea.

The intense barrage of attacks forced the boss to go down on one of its knees.

 

As they kept on attacking, Haruki moved behind the boss while increasing his concentration.

He took a glance at the back of the boss and looked for Weakness Exploit’s light.

 

Then, it lit up.

A faint light emerged, drawing a diagonal line from one of its shoulders to the lower part of its back.

At the same time as the light appeared, Haruki made his move.

 

Pouring energy into his Magic Sword, he followed the line drawn by Weakness Exploit.

 

“Ha!!”

“Mmmrrroogghh!!”

 

*Clink!!*

 

Then there was a sound of clashing metal.

Sparks flew at the moment of contact.

 

Haruki’s attack had been blocked by the handle of the boss’s large ax.

The boss had once again prevented Haruki’s attack at the last second.

 

(Did he react to my killing intent? …How wonderful.)

 

Haruki had been deeply impressed by the boss’s defensive reaction.

 

The boss had kept its composure in the face of a fierce barrage, being wary that he was prone to a potential deadlier attack.

 

It was indeed a difficult opponent.

Haruki braced himself, and slashed at the boss again.

 

 

After about 30 minutes since the battle had started, Haruki had at last managed to follow the line drawn by Weakness Exploit, cutting the boss’s head.

 

The boss hadn’t shown an opening for a deadly attack until the very end.

Its defense was very hard, and when Haruki tried to force his way through, the boss would strike back fiercely.

 

It would never be swallowed by the waves of its opponent’s attack, it avoided only those attacks it regarded as deadly, and continued to look for opportunities for counterattack. The battle had been very educational for Haruki.

 

When the boss died, Haruki experienced a level-up sickness.

At the same time, the inside of the dungeon blinked.

 

“…Phew. Nicely done.”

“Good job. That Minotaur boss was really strong.”

“Yeah. Not only was it physically strong, it had a very resilient spirit.”

 

Karen and Rhea had attacked the boss viciously while Haruki drew its aggro.

But even then, the boss’s fighting spirit could be seen shining brightly in its eyes.

 

To be able to keep its composure like that while fighting was no small feat.

 

Before becoming an adventurer, Haruki would be disheartened by as little as hitting his elbow against the edge of a table.

His spirit would break easily under such a degree of pain.

 

To be able to keep his composure even after being hit by an onslaught of attacks was a very difficult thing to do.

 

After the dungeon finished blinking, two items appeared at the place where the boss was absorbed into the ground.

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