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Log Horizon Web chapter 60

skythewood Jul 11th, 2014 1,340 Never
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  1. 1
  2.  
  3.  
  4. Demikas leapt 10m in a single leap, exhaling the burning air from his lungs. He recovers his health slowly through his passive skill resilience.
  5.  
  6. The fight has fallen into a stalemate.
  7.  
  8. He grits his teeth as though he wants to shatters them as he glares at the enemy.
  9.  
  10. Facing the 7th of the garden Ruseato in dull purple armour, they have to endure his abuse and keep on wearing him down. The fight is going well. The melee warriors including Demikas strikes at Ruseato's sturdy armour countless times, making deep marks on the armour.
  11.  
  12. These scars are like branches of a tree, covering Ruseato's whole body. Suddenly, he starts to shed, breaking out of his old shell like a hardboiled egg.
  13.  
  14. A Ruseato as white as a hospital's ceiling emerges from within.
  15.  
  16. The armour that drops from his bleached body merges with the shadow at his feet, forming into shadows of warriors. These black, slender and featureless monsters wield giant battle scythes. They seem 2 dimensional like pieces of paper because of their dark appearance.
  17.  
  18. Demikas dodges the light shooting out from the white Ruseato.
  19.  
  20. A casual attack unlike the fierce strike from before.
  21.  
  22. Demikas is ready to strike once he has recovered his hit points.
  23.  
  24. The Silver swords member grabs this chance to move in and attack in waves, but is intercepted by the shadow warriors. Their range and attack power is much weaker when compared to Ruseato, but they make that up with numbers. A dozen of them have formed right now.
  25.  
  26. The group dodges Ruseato's careless attack while destroying the shadow warriors.
  27.  
  28. Even the main tank Dinkuron is unable to taunt this number of enemies. Including Naotsugu who is feeling disgusted, they will need 5 tanks to aggravate the enemies and keep them off the rest of the group.
  29.  
  30.  
  31. The shadow warriors push forth like bugs attracted by the sweet scent of honey.
  32.  
  33. Demikas lock on to these monsters.
  34.  
  35. Demikas used his special skill 'Absolute Geheimnis', a gliding kick allowing him to target any enemy in a 150 degree arc before him. By using this skill, he can charge into the midst of the enemy in one move. This is not advisable in normal conditions, as it is difficult to dodge the attacks of a strong raid boss like Ruseato. It also leaves the healers behind him in a dangerous situation. But the shadows before him are raid monsters, not the raid boss. Enemies with such large and unwieldy weapons are a piece of cake for Monks like Demikas.
  36.  
  37. Demikas transform into a green meteor with a crackling sound. Demikas looks like he is on a navigating the air on a skateboard as he burst through the chest of a shadow warrior with his 'tiger echo fist'.
  38.  
  39. The raid mob attack with their scythe in retaliation. Demikas parries away the strike with a backhand, pulls his knee to his chest and launches a shadowless kick.
  40.  
  41. The enemy was knocked off their feet violently like a leave falling to the ground.
  42.  
  43. But with every shadow warrior that falls, Ruseato will absorb their darkness and recovers a bit of health.
  44.  
  45. They are going back to square one.
  46.  
  47. The white Ruseato can heal itself.
  48.  
  49. The catalyst is the shadow warrior, existing just to buy time. The white Ruseato will be able to recover enough health after some time and start attacking again. Its armour will then be dyed black and launch powerful attacks repeatedly again.
  50.  
  51. The group can endure the torrent of attacks if it is just Ruseato alone. If the shadow warriors team up with black Ruseato, the tanks will fall under the shadow warrior's scythe after black Ruseato's powerful strikes.
  52.  
  53. The health of the group is supplied by the healers. Be it the protection barrier of Kannagi or the reactive heal of the Cleric, there is a limit to what they can do.
  54.  
  55. Fighting 7th of the garden Ruseato alone has already pushed them to the limit.
  56.  
  57. They can't let the mob live. But killing them will restore the health of white Ruseato. Before they knew it, there are twenty odds shadow warriors, the raid has been pushed to the brink of failure.
  58.  
  59.  
  60. Shiroe says that breaking through this situation is a big taboo.
  61.  
  62. ... The number of people damaging black Ruseato is equivalent to the number of shadow warrior.
  63.  
  64. This discovery allows the Silver swords to pull themselves together.
  65.  
  66. Leaving the task of attacking to the powerful players, healers and supporting cast stop their damage output. This way, they can cut down the number of shadow warriors that will form by a dozen when Ruseato activate white mode.
  67.  
  68. The coward Shiroe who is directing from behind is an unforgivable target of vengeance for Demikas. Both Demikas' pride and his guild Brigandia were shattered. If those 3 didn't come to Susukino, Demikas would have continued to rule this world. If not for that bastard Shiroe.
  69.  
  70. That werecat swashbuckler is unforgivable too. That swordsman waves his rapier in front of Demikas. But that coward didn't even look Demikas in the eye.
  71.  
  72. Shiroe probably didn't even remember his name.
  73.  
  74. Demikas still remembers Shiroe's expression back in Susukino. That man show no signs of worry when he saw Demikas. Fine. Shiroe is strong, he can tell from this raid. Then at least mock Demikas a little, even a look of disdain will be fine too.
  75.  
  76. But that enchanter only the wear the expression of 'don't trouble me'.
  77.  
  78. Demikas vent his anger on the shadow warriors.
  79.  
  80. He punches through the warrior with a 'lightning straight'.
  81.  
  82. After performing a 'wyvern kick', he used 'phantom step' to draw closer and use an 'aerial rave'. He followed up the air combo with another wyvern kick.
  83.  
  84. That is the extent Shiroe knows about Demikas. When Demikas consider the possibility of calming his wrath without killing Shiroe, fiery anger burns in his lungs. He swears to make Shiroe regret being born into this world.
  85.  
  86. But now is not the time.
  87.  
  88. It is regrettable, but his capability is limited. At this point in time, Demikas has to acknowledge this. This man Shiroe is very strong. Not just equipment, his skills is better than Demikas too.
  89.  
  90. When Demikas took part in this raid, he wanted to backstab Shiroe in the beginning. The training substitute for this is the monsters he is massacring. He just wants to uplift his spirit. His body felt lighter than before. Demikas' fist decimates the monsters, tearing through all the shadow warriors.
  91.  
  92. Demikas thinks he has gotten use to the pace of the raid and cracks his wrist. He noticed a symbol of a dagger. This unfamiliar dagger is Shiroe's 'Keen edge'... Nothing to worry about. This is the buffing spell of that man. He knows that this will help him by chaining faster and increasing the attack power.
  93.  
  94. Just like what he is experiencing now.
  95.  
  96. A shadow warrior draws near and raises its battle scythe high. There is still half a second of rigidity time left for using 'Wyvern kick'. Demikas should have taken the blow directly, but that didn't happen.
  97.  
  98. He might fail to notice some times, but Shiroe cast spell to assist him ever since they entered the zone. This spell seems to be called 'Mind Shock'. A magic that uses shock wave to stun the enemy and blur their senses. Leaving normal monsters aside, it will be a great help if it can stun the raid boss for even a second. One second is plenty for Demikas, leaping out of the monster's attack range with a 'monkey step' and counter attacking with a 'dragon tail swing' roundhouse kick. Demikas going all out to decimate the enemy is within Shiroe's calculation.
  99.  
  100. Demikas dropping out of formation and his roundhouse kick, all this valiant effort are done under the watchful eyes of Shiroe. This man does not have the power and skill of Demikas. What he can do is to mislead the enemy and cast low level buffing spells. Such dependence on deception will not work on powerful foes.
  101.  
  102. Most importantly, Shiroe can pre-empt what Demikas wants to do and provide support without Demikas even noticing. Shiroe can see right through Demikas' intention. In a way, Demikas has also grown if he manages to understand to this extent.
  103.  
  104.  
  105. (I will kill you one day.)
  106.  
  107. (I will do it before everyone.)
  108.  
  109. (I will smack you till your face is black and blue, you will regret this and spend the rest of your life in tears.)
  110.  
  111. (First, I will obtain phantasmal gear in this raid...)
  112.  
  113. (Grind my level, refine my techniques...)
  114.  
  115. Demikas leaps through the battlefield taking out one enemy after another.
  116.  
  117. His class Monk has short cooldown time and has powerful attacks. His attack power can't match that of weapon specialist class, but his hit points and abnormal status resistance is top notch. That's how he manages to roam among the enemies and survive the onslaught of the raid boss, all the while dishing out damage of his own. Demikas is fired up, commanding his body to strike, kick, parry and attack with all the skills he has got.
  118.  
  119. The battle is progressing slowly.
  120.  
  121. Even when they are being pressured to the edge of defeat, William will reorganize the team successfully with his fiery will. Maintain the front lines with tanks and healers, keeping the enemy in it’s weaken mode. If he can bring out the full potential of this formation, they won't be wiped out so easily. If they can keep this up, fend off the shadow warriors and grind off Ruseato's health, they will be able to pull it off.
  122.  
  123. But this will take a while, with many judgement calls they have to make. The decision requires calm and focus, and needs to be made fast with little room for error. Raids are a combination of all these actions.
  124.  
  125. Demikas is heat.
  126.  
  127. Demikas is fire.
  128.  
  129. Concentrating on dodging the attack in front of him, breakthrough and eliminate them. He moves in on black Ruseato, trying to punch through his armour with his thunder like punches.
  130.  
  131. His mind slowly becomes empty, immersing himself in the heat of battle. Compared to his days in the corrupted Susukino and his fight with Nyanta, Demikas is able to focus on the battle without distraction.
  132.  
  133. But he didn't notice the situation has changed until he heard the scream from behind.
  134.  
  135. You can't blame Demikas for being caught off guard. Even the veteran raid members were surprised by this attack. The iron gate on the east and west side of the arena is fully open. In the darkness beyond, the bearded frost giant with white pupil, 4th of the garden Tarutauruga and the fiery serpent with a halo, 3rd of the garden Ibra-Habura looms.
  136.  
  137. They enter the arena, bringing a whirlwind of frost and fire with them. Their target is the 4th party that is concentrating on Ruseato. The 4th party was wiped out in a blink of an eye, the splash damage from the attack severely hurting the other parties.
  138.  
  139. Demikas can taste the bile coming from his stomach after watching this unfair scenery.
  140.  
  141. This is too much.
  142.  
  143. Demikas is fighting 7th of the garden Ruseato right now.
  144.  
  145. He thought they should be taking them on one at a time.
  146.  
  147. They have to take care of Ruseato's minions in this raid battle, making this an even fight. The balance can be destroyed by just adding one or two more monsters to the mix, enough to wipe out Demikas' group.
  148.  
  149. They were just getting the hang of it, even though their chance of victory is akin to walking on thin ice.
  150.  
  151. But now there are two more raid boss on the same level as 7th of the garden Ruseato.
  152.  
  153. Demikas knows the truth.
  154.  
  155. They can't win this.
  156.  
  157. The problem is not with tactics or strategy.
  158.  
  159. There is an overwhelming difference in fighting power, dismissing all their delicate preparation and hard work. If they have to take on 3 raid boss, they will need a 96 people legion raid army instead of a 24 people full raid force.
  160.  
  161.  
  162. He remembers the emotionless voice speaking from the depth of his ear said this before.
  163.  
  164. ... This world is no longer a game. That has ended long ago. Your time has ended.
  165.  
  166.  
  167. Just like adventurers adjusting their strategy for the raids, the monsters can also abandon their position and muster their numbers.
  168.  
  169. ... That's what Demikas thought.
  170.  
  171. If Demikas was the guardian of the dungeon, the first thing he has to consider is strategy.
  172.  
  173. Working together to destroy the adventurers.
  174.  
  175. This is common sense, and it has happened.
  176.  
  177. In this arena with cruelty and despair frozen in, Demikas can hear an inhuman shriek.
  178.  
  179. A face the size of a billboard you see in cinemas approaches. The frost giant leans in as if he is falling and slams his fist into the raid group. With a splatter, a summoner turns into a stain on the arena floor.
  180.  
  181. Demikas can no longer hear the counting that calms his mind.
  182.  
  183. Demikas charge in like a tornado with a roar, knocking the surprised Shiroe flying. After 3 or 4 somersault, Shiroe was caught by Naotsugu in mid-air, out of the attack range of the frost giant's club.
  184.  
  185. Look at how pitiful you are coward, Demikas laughs.
  186.  
  187. Although his left leg is crushed because of this, it is worth it since he gets to see Shiroe's dumb founded look.
  188.  
  189. See if you can kill me, you bunch of cheating raid boss, Demikas spit onto the floor.
  190.  
  191. But both Demikas and Shiroe is unable to escape from the hail of fire cast by 3rd of the garden Ibra-Habura. Not just them, but also Naotsugu, William and Tetora. It is the same with the veteran warriors of Silver swords who are stronger than Demikas, who are able to stampede through countless raids as if they are killing bugs.
  192.  
  193. All the moisture was vaporized in an instant, the flames clearing all sense of pain. The 24 man raid group was wiped out.
  194.  
  195.  
  196.  
  197. 2
  198.  
  199.  
  200. Krusty exit from the goblin hut that smells so bad that his nose is bent. Even the renowned strong man of the guild is unable to bear the odour of the goblins.
  201.  
  202. His lieutenant Takayama starts to feel light headed when they made half the way through.
  203.  
  204. Compared to the hut piled with dirty hay and filth, even standing under the freezing winter sky is a hundred times better. Adventurer's has strong resistance to change in temperature.
  205.  
  206. It is the same with Krusty.
  207.  
  208. He relax his shoulder and left the goblin's lodging, there is nothing for him there.
  209.  
  210. They are all the same. A shallow pit is dug in the ground, a pillar is erected and the roof and walls are made from branches and grass. There are several such primitive huts arranged in rows for each settlement. This is one such huts in the Silver rack mountain. There are countless settlement in the mountains, with about 50 huts each, housing about 300 goblins.
  211.  
  212. Most of these settlements are like empty shells. While Takayama Misa's army marches through the area, they will scout out the surrounding zones and verify the location of the goblin settlements. They will then plan their attack according to the intelligence they gathered, the campaign is progressing slowly.
  213.  
  214. In the beginning, the consensus of the Round Table was that raiding the Citadel of 7 falls can be easily done. But the goblins in Eastal has been reproducing and bolstering their numbers with the start of the Apocalypse, growing to a collosal scale. This is a crisis comparable to a nightmare for the people of the land.
  215.  
  216. But on the other hand, these goblins is not a threat for the adventurers of Akiba, at least for the level 90 players in battle guilds. There is a raid quest that needs to be completed within the citadel of 7 falls, which Krusty is confident of finishing in 2 days with a select group of adventurers. Takayama agrees with his assessment.
  217.  
  218. The goal this time is not to defeat the goblin king.
  219.  
  220. The mission is to ensure the safety of the people of the land living in the north eastern region. The root of the problem lies with the ten over thousand goblins roaming in the area. Even if they can take out the goblin king successfully, they will still fail if the leaderless goblins spills out from Silver Rack mountain.
  221.  
  222. The staff officer of the command unit Krusty and Takayama has deliberately slow their pace while traveling through the region akin to a hunting trip. Dozens of adventurers groups are patroling Silver Rack mountain, doing recconaisance and small scale battles.
  223.  
  224. They are herding them like fish into a net, using this battle plan to gather all the goblins in the region into the Citadel of 7 falls. For the goblins, they are mustering their forces to counterattack. But for Takayama's group, this is just a part of the plan.
  225.  
  226.  
  227. Takayama heads into the valley with a ready water source by Krusty's order.
  228.  
  229. The other members are investigating the area around the settlement. From the looks of things, it is unlikely to find any goblins left behind. They are relaxed as this is just a routine check.
  230.  
  231. Krusty and Takayama bashes through the foilage as they follow a trail they found. This path is probably used by the goblins to retrieve water. But the goblins are only 140cm in height, so it is hard for the 2 of them who are taller to make their way through.
  232.  
  233. After making their way to the river, they squint their eyes because of a gust of wind. The cool wind seems to swept away any air of doubt. Takayama likes it, but Krusty seems to be unmoved.
  234.  
  235. Although she felt it when the Libra festival ended, but Krusty seems to be getting more moody. Rieze might bite into her handkerchief and worry about him, but Takayama will just ignore it. Krusty is a grown man, he will probably feel annoyed if a woman was to worry about him, that's what Takayama thought.
  236.  
  237. (No, it has nothing to do with being an adult or a child. Boys are delicate no matter their age.)
  238.  
  239. Takayama uses her work experience as a gauge.
  240.  
  241. Takayama has worked with Krusty for a very long time. She can guess what are the things he is worried about. An approximate idea. Taking the chance while they are out scouting, she chat with him a bit.
  242.  
  243. "Milord?"
  244.  
  245. "Hmm? What's the matter officer Takayama."
  246.  
  247. Krusty reacts slowly as he looks at Takayama with thoughful eyes.
  248.  
  249. "You seemed trouble recently. What's on your mind?"
  250.  
  251. "Hmm."
  252.  
  253. Krusty hides his mouth behind his fingers, deep in thought. Unlike the heavy gauntlet he normally wears, he has put on leather gloves today. The armour he is wearing matches his muscular body well. A guild master that looks great. There are plenty of people who were fooled by his appearance, but this makes operations easy to run. With this in mind, Takayama probes further.
  254.  
  255. "Are you bored?"
  256.  
  257. Krusty gives Takayama a shifty look. He consider it for a moment, clears away his dignified expression and smile wryly, lifting his arms in surrender.
  258.  
  259. "That is it. I am bored."
  260.  
  261. "Please bear with it."
  262.  
  263. "I have been enduring it everyday."
  264.  
  265. Takayama sigh.
  266.  
  267. It was just a wild guess but she was right.
  268.  
  269. Krusty has an intellectual look and takes logical actions. He has the capability to manage people and the charisma to match. Operating the largest battle guild in the Yamato server is a real result he can be proud of. With 1700 members, his guild is beyond the size of a small and medium enterprise in the real world.
  270.  
  271. But Krusty is not as perfect as he looks.
  272.  
  273. The young men who oversees all sort of issues in the Round Table council is mischievous and bores easily.
  274.  
  275.  
  276. This is only known to a few pioneer core members, but the reason why Krusty founded such a large organization was because 'I just want to see what will happen if I succeed in doing it.' It is not meant to be a guild in the begining. It is a talent network which happens to be an important element when creating a guild.
  277.  
  278. Krusty did it on a whim one day.
  279.  
  280. ... This game Elder Tales is fun. But to enjoy the game, he will need to have a large number of people comrades he can have fun adventuring with. The game developers knows this and has made similar statements. They included all sorts of systems for the players to find companions to play with. But if the players were to overcome this by coming up with a talent management system, and use it to complete end game contents, wouldn't that be interesting?
  281.  
  282. That is why D.D.D was founded.
  283.  
  284. It is fine even if it is not a guild. He uses the guild as the template because it is convenient.
  285.  
  286. When Elder Tales was just a game, the guild activities are communicated through voice chat and an official web site. This system was proposed by Krusty. Periodical management meeting and the system of assigning manpower for raids are done the same way.
  287.  
  288. Krusty seems uninterested in command and delegate the task, letting 'each department to plan their own activities to achieve results', and is interested in such self sufficient groups. Hence, even though the guild is very large, it remains flexible without bureaucractic  red tapes.
  289.  
  290. This continues after the Apocalypse too. With the formation of the Round Table Council, Krusty push the departments to be more autonomous. As a result, he fulfilled his curiosity of creating a self substaining guild, but his off hand approach means that Krusty is getting less involved with the guild as well.
  291.  
  292. Simply said, he has too much free time.
  293.  
  294.  
  295. Takayama understands the temper of her friend, this is troubling indeed. Even though Krusty is talented, but it is difficult to spend time with him because he is too capable. His excess abilities causes unexpected troubles and chaos around him, for better or for worse.
  296.  
  297. It is a pain to handle a bored Krusty.
  298.  
  299. He is not a lawless criminal and in the end, he usually does more good than bad. But the chaos he cause in the process causes headaches for Takayama and the others. Takayama thinks that he should restrain his 'boredom' after finding Raynesia, but she seems to have overestimated that young lady.
  300.  
  301. (Forcing this issue onto the princess is unreasonable anyway...)
  302.  
  303. When she think about it, she felt apologetic towards Raynesia.
  304.  
  305.  
  306. She has to think of a topic, she thought as she catches up with Krusty who is wandering aimlessly by the river. He bends down and meddle with some pebbles.
  307.  
  308. "Found something?"
  309.  
  310. "Not really..."
  311.  
  312. Krusty adjusted his glasses which moved when he lean forward, inspecting a pebble before his eyes. This is probably the tip of a broken spear.
  313.  
  314. The river meanders further downstream, there are stones bigger than the fist of a child in the depths of the water. There are snow around the area, but this might be a great and refreshing place for a BBQ in the summer.
  315.  
  316. Krusty kick some pebbles and seem to be onto something.
  317.  
  318. "This place appears to be a training arena."
  319.  
  320. "Training. This area seems to be well tended."
  321.  
  322. Takayama replies.
  323.  
  324. At a glance, she can see the signs of stones being moved to the edge of the trees. If she look closer, she can find remnants of weapons between the rocks and trees. This place has been used for quite a period of time.
  325.  
  326. She has never thought that the goblins will conduct training, but this is normal if they want to start a war. But even so, she don't think this will help them much. The levels of the goblins is much lower than the adventurers.
  327.  
  328. As Takayama think about it, she noticed Krusty's gaze. She thought about it seriously for a moment and got it in an instant.
  329.  
  330. ... the goblins are training their strategy and tactics.
  331.  
  332. They have not consider this possibility before. Just like Takayama's group plotting different approach to raid the Citadel of 7 falls, the goblins are also preparing for battle in different ways. This world is not Elder Tales anymore. Takayama curse her own incompetence for not noticing this earlier.
  333.  
  334. "Milord, let's head back and break the news to the others."
  335.  
  336. "We need to send scouts to search the surrounding of training grounds and their effects."
  337.  
  338. "That's right."
  339.  
  340. The two of them head back towards the settlement after a short conversation. They need to meet up with the Kugel and Richou's scout party first. Next will be heading back to headquarters and give the neccesary orders.
  341.  
  342. It was already too late when Takayama notice her Scythe vibrating gently. It made a metallic sound in an instant and glows red hot.
  343.  
  344. "Let go of that weapon!"
  345.  
  346. Krusty shouts.
  347.  
  348. But it is too late for her to react.
  349.  
  350. Takayama's weapon which has tasted plenty of goblin blood in this raid is stuck on her hand like glue, a bizarre force field is sucking her in.
  351.  
  352. She is trapped and the force is twisting her body, Takayama attempts to ask Krusty to get away.
  353.  
  354. Something bizzare is happening. The scythe lets out a shrill hum as it vibrates.
  355.  
  356. Takayama hands felt as if it has been hit by a truck. Takayama was stunned with her eyes wide open, and is certain that bones in her hands are shattered. The weapon with disaster in its name is engulfed in a red light, which swallows Krusty as he knocks Takayama away.
  357.  
  358.  
  359.  
  360. 3
  361.  
  362.  
  363. This appears to be a street on a late night.
  364.  
  365. But the surrounding are bright, the street lights casting a long shadow of him on the ground.
  366.  
  367. Shiroe thinks it is late at night because the shutter to the shops are closed and there is no one around. It is unbelievably quiet.
  368.  
  369. After passing through a McDonalds and mobile shop, he lower his gaze as he went by a floral shop's sign board. These are sceneries he has gotten used tired of. They are no signs of people in this silent street.
  370.  
  371. Shiroe is walking on a street that is an hour away from Ikebukuro by train. According to the locals, it is near a station that was forcibly included into the Tokyo subway line.
  372.  
  373. Stations with similar names can be found to the north and south of this area, a sign that this is a suburban satelite town.
  374.  
  375. Shiroe was born and raised here.
  376.  
  377. But this city built on lies has never treated Shiroe as one of her own.
  378.  
  379. The population in this new city is vast.
  380.  
  381. It is full of facilities meant to bring convenience to the residents.
  382.  
  383. But the distance from the inner city is awkward. For example, the citizens will make their way to the inner city for electric appliances, clothing and entertainment, so there are no shops worth writing about here. That is the sort of place it is. It is convenient and has everything. But when you really want to find something, you can't.
  384.  
  385. It cannot be viewed as a mini city, it is akin to a supplementary space for tokyo, a place without its own heart.
  386.  
  387. Shiroe's parents moved to this town after marriage. A two storey house that isn't too big or small, with plenty of other similar buildings in the area.
  388.  
  389. Be it the residence, station, the leftover farmland and the trees, they are all unmemorable and ordinary sceneries that can be seen all over Japan.
  390.  
  391. There are nothing worth protecting in this town without its own heart, so it changes slowly over time. Even the people that frequents this station building, shopping mall and the shops changes periodically. But there is a healthy amount of human traffic, so it is still relatively convenient.
  392.  
  393. This also reflects in Shiroe's circle of friends. Shiroe feels that it is a waste for one third of the elementary school classroom to be empty. They planned for this amount of students. Shiroe don't know if this the effect of the aging population or the city planning estimate is way off. From elementary to middle school to high school, his classmates are ever changing. Looking back, this can viewed as the metabolism of this new town. The young Shiroe didn't really care too much, feeling that people or things going missing is nothing abnormal.
  394.  
  395.  
  396. (Speaking of which...)
  397.  
  398. He raise his head as he recall something.
  399.  
  400. There was a small place called Brinjal curry around here. The candy house, wallet shop and snack outlet are right besides it. That was a place he frequent with his friends when he was in high school, a cheap and memorable place.
  401.  
  402. The signboard has a dubious drawing of an indian was gone.
  403.  
  404. Shiroe was puzzled for a moment, but remembers with a hint of loneliness.
  405.  
  406. He carelessly forgot that the indian curry house closed down. It was replaced by beef bowl cafe for a few months and then taken over by a ramen franchise with a flashy signboard. Shiroe remembers seeing that when he went home during college vacation.
  407.  
  408. He went into the ramen restaurant once, and would not want to taste the burned food ever again.
  409.  
  410. Even though they went out of business, Shiroe still want to try the taste of the curry house one more time. The owner is an Islamic person speaking with a yokohama accent, and does not look like an Indian. Their curry is Japanese flavor instead of Indian style (it taste like Vermont instant curry). It is priced reasonably and comes with a large serving of eggplants, not a bad place to eat once in a while.
  411.  
  412. (It's a pity they closed down.)
  413.  
  414.  
  415. He sigh as he lift his head to look at the shop, the flashy signboard of the ramen franchise restaurant with black and red wordings. Shiroe stops and observe the shop carefully. On the roller shutter is a sign saying they are closed on wednesday. The restaurant is usually decorated with lots of flags, but it is quiet now. He cannot make out what the sign above the shop is saying, it is all a blur to him.
  416. <TL note: Islam is a religion, not a race though>
  417.  
  418. Shiroe scratch his cheeks and came to a conclusion.
  419.  
  420. (So that is what it means to lose your memories.)
  421.  
  422. Shiroe has forgetten what this ramen franchise is called.
  423.  
  424. "So that's how it is."
  425.  
  426. It is not too surprising.
  427.  
  428. He already expected this, and he don't feel like it is a major loss. Memories are fragile, dissapearing like the items inside a treasure chest with a broken lock.
  429.  
  430. He remembers the scene of the Silver swords failing in their challenge.
  431.  
  432. He understood the risk of dying in a raid.
  433.  
  434. Normally, raids need to be challenged multiple times to accumulate experience, recalibrating their strategy in order to emerge victorious. Unlike the fight against the Sahuagins and goblins, the opponent are around his level, so failure is within expectation.
  435.  
  436. Shiroe taste this troubling sense of loneliness.
  437.  
  438. This faint emotion is nostalgic.
  439.  
  440. Shiroe, or rather Shirogane Kei has the similar demeanour since he was young.
  441.  
  442. It is the same for elementary school, middle school and after.
  443.  
  444. Shiroe hold on to these feelings as he take a night stroll.
  445.  
  446.  
  447. He can only read 20% of the signboard clearly.
  448.  
  449. He has lived in this town from birth til high school. The ever renewing population came into brief contact with Shiroe before dissappearing. But from their perspective, Shiroe is the one that dissapears. A meeting so brief they barely leave any trace. The trace will then dissappear from their mind eventually.
  450.  
  451. By thinking rationally, it is Shiroe who forgots, while the shops are the ones being forgotten.
  452.  
  453. But Shiroe can't help but feel a tinge of sadness as if he was betrayed.
  454.  
  455. Shiroe felt ashame as he look for an excuse.
  456.  
  457. His classmates from elementary and middle school have definitely forgotten about him.
  458.  
  459. He doesn't mesh well with his classmates due to missing lots of classes. Since he spends his time in the library til the evening, it is only natural for them to not remember him. Even Shiroe cannot recall his old classmates. This situation overlaps with his memory of the shops, making him feel remorse.
  460.  
  461. Shiroe feels a wave of wilful anger wash over him.
  462.  
  463. His hometown seems to have everything, while Shiroe's heart contains nothing.
  464.  
  465.  
  466. Shiroe walks along the silent street illuminated by the mercury lights.
  467.  
  468. He just noticed he has left the downtown area and cross the abnormally deserted bridge. Shiroe stroll down the street leading to the elementary school which is lined with trees. A shadow which is suppose to be friend rises from the ground, Shiroe don't feel anything out of place when the petite figure walk besides him. The two of them pass by the green Gingko tree and the bench in from of the bus stop and continue walking under the night sky.
  469.  
  470. Shiroe is the only one moving in the streets, but he can hear the distant sound of heavy vehicles driving by. With the growl of the wind in the background, Shiroe walks on with his eyes on his feet.
  471.  
  472. Passing through a big park, Shiroe follows the meandering path aimlessly. The park is lit by the soft glowing lights. As expected, there is no one here.
  473.  
  474. Tiles with drawing of fishes cover the bottom of the man made pond. It is made shallow and wide to accommodate the children playing in them. The light reflecting off the water surface makes Shiroe turn away. Shiroe and the shadow sat on a bench overlooking the man made pond.
  475.  
  476.  
  477. Shiroe concludes that this is a near death experience.
  478.  
  479. He died during his raid with the Silver swords.
  480.  
  481. According to the laws of this alternate world, he will revive at the entrance of the raid zone.
  482.  
  483. During the lag time before he respawns, Shiroe who just went through the bizarre experience of death is watching a dream.
  484.  
  485. He lean back on the bench and look into the sky.
  486.  
  487. There are no stars in sight.
  488.  
  489. (So I ended up here in the end.)
  490.  
  491. Shiroe let out a lonely laugh.
  492.  
  493. Shiroe has spent countless nights on this bench. He grew up in a dual income family and will scrowl impatiently when social worker ask why is it alone in the park. He is a regular here.
  494.  
  495. He didn't really like anything here. He just have no other place to go. There is just him alone in the house. The feeling of discomfort washes over him even if he hides under his blanket. He is also afraid of the young men and women dressed fancifully in the downtown area. In order to forget this unpleasant feeling, the grade schooler Shiroe makes his way through the streets at night to idle on this bench. That's the only way.
  496.  
  497. Although he didn't suppress his chest with his eyes shut like he did as a grade schooler, the faint wound brings a silent certainty to Shiroe. He is certain that he had failed.
  498.  
  499. Shiroe frequent here often in the past.
  500.  
  501. The adults comments that the young Shiroe is matured, smart and exercises self restraint. That is why children about his age seems irrational and barbaric to Shiroe, creating a gulf with other kids. As a result, plenty of unhappy things happened.
  502.  
  503. He squandered his classmates' good intentions.
  504.  
  505. Heartlessly slapping away the hand they offered him in good will.
  506.  
  507. He look down on the kindness they showed.
  508.  
  509. He stood steady and throw himself into inevitable fights.
  510.  
  511. He fail to comprehend the feelings and hardship of his parents.
  512.  
  513. All these are delicate irreversible failures.
  514.  
  515. The young Shiroe cries on this bench after every failure, promising himself to do this and that. Sometimes he completed the task wonderfully and think things are going well. But as expected it is a failure, holding on to the feeling of being defective as he sat on the bench.
  516.  
  517.  
  518. ... Just die and you will understand. The incompetence, the bad and the ugliness of yourself. Die a hundred times and you will understand a hundred times. They can't go on because it is too hard to face them.
  519.  
  520.  
  521. He recall William's words.
  522.  
  523. He knows he has been detached from the raid group.
  524.  
  525. Compared to losing his memories, a pain that feels more compelling and unbearable.
  526.  
  527. Shiroe is familiar with this feeling and the meaning behind it.
  528.  
  529. If he will teleport here every time he dies, he will have to wander around his hometown.
  530.  
  531. If this what death means, Shiroe has gone through it countless time.
  532.  
  533. That night went he threw away an important notebook, or that evening when he slap away the hand his friend offered him. The night when he made the facial expression saying he is going out, and the time when he bid farewell to the library.
  534.  
  535. Death is the feeling of wanting to die.
  536.  
  537. Even thought it has faded, Shiroe knows the smell very well.
  538.  
  539. That is the feeling he bears in his chest. Not just defeat, but the reopening of the wound of previous failures as well. Haven't he tasted this many times? He have gone through this enough times to not want to do this again. But before he knew it, he ends up here again. He has live 10 over years here, and wonders if he will ever get away from this bench, it is like a shadow sticking to his back.
  540.  
  541. His future seems so far away.
  542.  
  543. After ten odd years, the amount of time is still beyond Shiroe's comprehension. In this indefinite amount of time that he lives, will he keep on repeating his mistakes?
  544.  
  545.  
  546. He remembers Demikas who grit his teeth and attack Shiroe.
  547.  
  548. Shiroe don't understand why he did that.
  549.  
  550. Shiroe don't recall Demikas ever helping him.
  551.  
  552. Ah ah, alright. William said as he offers his hand.
  553.  
  554. Shiroe cannot comprehend why that young man will lend Shiroe his aid.
  555.  
  556. Shiroe don't remember ever covering for William.
  557.  
  558. He don't know all sorts of things about William. He hates his foolish self.
  559.  
  560.  
  561. The same with Naotsugu. Shiroe came all the way behind the back of his friends.
  562.  
  563. Shiroe was not wary of Minami. Shiroe is not guarding against Minami's spy. He is already aware of the spy's existence.
  564.  
  565. Shiroe remain vigilant about an unknown third party.
  566.  
  567. He unclenches the fist he balled up unconsciously.
  568.  
  569.  
  570. Other than adventurers and people of the land, perhaps there is something else out there. He suspected it to be the Kunie clan, but it's not them. But this 'something' definitely exist.
  571.  
  572. Like Re-gun said, Shiroe and the others were summoned to this alternate world by a global level spell. It is just a coincidence that the game and this world is so similar. But is that really possible? Although the chances are not zero, there should be a better explanation out there.
  573.  
  574. Shiroe recalls that the research and developing of technology that can read brain waves are ongoing. They are attempting to use brain waves to input command or perform simple communication with patients in a vegetative state. According to the latest reports, they are able to view a persons dream via video. The research are mainly conducted in the medical field, and will probably move towards entertainment and space exploration by the next decade. It is great news that cause quite a stir online.
  575.  
  576. But the research has not advance to the practical application stage yet. Maybe a secret international organization is researching in secret, experimenting with inducing a game like virtual world among its subjects.
  577.  
  578. But it is something else for 10 of thousands of Japanese to experience this, that's just stupid. Also, Shiroe and the rest are not wearing any special equipment.
  579.  
  580. There must be a better explanation for this.
  581.  
  582. Shiroe endures the sick apprehension that something was wrong as he thinks. This feeling was heightened when he heard about the Spirit theory from Re Gun. Building on the basis of the concept, he violently probe into the darkness with his imagination and thinking.
  583.  
  584. Shiroe used the convenience of the Round Table to request for all sorts of research. Roderick came up with the possibility of flavour text coming true. Soujirou found out the changes in the ecology of monsters. Michitaka investigates the flourishing vegetation in the south. Charasin surveys and collates information of rumours in the league of freedom cities Eastal.
  585.  
  586. The investigations reveals heaps of evidence that a third party exist. This strengthens Shiroe's suspicion. Something coincidental that they 'just happened to thought of' are also evidence of the third parties activity.
  587.  
  588.  
  589. (But I can't use those things as an excuse. I was taking it too easy. I stop searching, bounded by fear.)
  590.  
  591. There is so much more that Demikas can do. The same with William.
  592.  
  593. Shiroe's worry has brought so much trouble to the people around him. He knows all that that, but wasted the chance because of his lack of effort.
  594.  
  595. The wind blowing tonight is like an invitation for Shiroe to return back to his guild. People important to Shiroe must be waiting for Shiroe there.
  596.  
  597. They are living proof that Shiroe is cowardly and lazy, and pushes others away.
  598.  
  599. Shiroe stood up, determined to return to the others.
  600.  
  601. He would be letting everyone down if he can't even do that.
  602.  
  603. And he owes Kinjyou an apology.
  604.  
  605. Shiroe was suspicious and did day his piece.
  606.  
  607. What a pity. He should have shared everything. For the sake of the future Shiroe believes in, he has to convince Kinjyou. As a fellow human being living in this world, they should discuss the pressing issues together.
  608.  
  609. Although he has no basis, Shiroe felt something staring at him. And that something has always been there since the Apocalypse happened.
  610.  
  611. Shiroe who stood up on reflex heard a familiar voice for a moment.
  612.  
  613. A whisper hinting on this upcoming encounter.
  614.  
  615.  
  616. End
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