Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Volume 2 - Chapter 1 - A Helping Hand

*yun* *yun* *yun*

"-ly shit."

Niji and the surviving raid members appear as mosaic grains gradually taking their original forms, finishing their incomplete words.

*fuu fuu fuu fuu*

Rings of light particles rise repeatedly from the ground, surrounding the entire group. The series of light rings fade into nothing as they rise over the users' heads, giving each of them a variety of buffs. A [Scribe] along with a few [Soothsayer]s are busy receiving tips from surrounding players, sellings scrolls while providing healing over time spells as well as other services. Supply [Merchant]s are busy hawking their wares from their wagons right next to the [Scribe] and [Soothsayer]s and buying loot from the players, giving off the feeling of a relief caravan to help cope with a disaster. Two dozens tough-looking [Knight]s and [Paladin]s leading various groups of non-users surround the wagons from a distance, acting as security.


Healers and Support classes are a rarity within "Second Fantasia"; all the existing spells that are worthwhile within the healing classes, are heal over time [Spell]s, all instantaneous healing is temporary and can only be used as a stopgap measure to prevent death. The buffs provided by the Support classes cannot top the damage or tanking ability of the Combat classes or Debuff classes like the [Hex Mage] or [Shaman] who can amplify damage done by the party or weaken the opponents with curses. It has become normal to forgo Healers and Support all together within a party to go with another tank or dps. Even with the lack of glamour, any offensive skills, the demands and adventurous appeals, a small minority of players stubbornly continues to play those classes.

A small boy approaches Niji and the group, with a smile on his face.

"Ah welcome! I'm glad you are all safe. Did everyone receive the blessings and healing?"

While still reeling in disbelief, Niji snap out from his stupor and acknowledges the boy with a nod.

"I'm surprised so many people came out, I guess the news of the entrance collapsing spread fast. But wow… all these people..." The boy spreads his arms toward the hundreds of people gathered at the entrance with a smile on his face and a glitter in his eyes.

*goaro goaro* *ti ti ti* *goa*

The faint sounds of earth being moved, stones being broken with tools and soil shifting fills the air as BGM, as a train of people enters and exits the caved in entrance of the dungeon.

[T/N: I don't think I need to say this… but just in case, BGM = background music.]

"If you need anything, come to the wagons! We've wagons full of supplies, we also buy loot and can even repair equipment." The boy gives the still bewildered group a wave before running off back to the wagons as a [Merchant] and his assistants start setting up a cooking pot."

Niji looks up at the sun as he wonders what on earth is happening and how the group still fighting the [Cerebus] is faring. They are obviously still alive, but the restrictions of the [Boss Dungeon] prevent any communications from the outside. He leads the survivors to the wagons as he ponders about the recent events.

* * * * *

Till tilts her head upward at Rick with a slightly confused, questioning look. He quickly shakes his head to the unspoken accusation.

"Father? Is that really you?!" The young man with his eyes closed lifts his nose up and *kunka kunka* as he sniffs the air.

Another figure sleeping next to the sitting young man stirs at the noise. It quickly jumps to its feet when it spots the two of them.

"Sekn! Who are these children?!" The figure quickly grabs a nearby spear and gets into a stance. The two humans shifts their weight to get into a better position in preparation for a fight.

"Children? Isn't my father with them?" The young man remains seated, with his tail sweeping back and forth gently.

"Eh… sorry to interrupt, but… who are you people? Were you kidnapped by the [Cerebus]?" Rick takes a wild stab at the origin of the people in front of him while still remaining on guard.

"No… we are living here at the moment, the [Cerebus] have agreed to protect us for the meantime."

The girl and the youth turns to look at one another, making various facial expressions at each other before turning back.

"Umm.... our friends are still fighting with the [Cerebus], can we get them to stop first?"

* * * * *

Several more dog-eared individuals woke up from their slumber and surround the two as they wait for Echo's return since he went out to stop the fight. Echo is the name of the caninoid that was next to Sekn. The various individuals armed themselves before forming a circle around the two, they give the two some distance with stern expressions, showing them that they are not trusted and that there's no escape should they start a fight. Despite the serious nature of the situation, all of them are sniffing the air intently, with their tails sweeping. Sekn walks to a nearby chair with his eyes still closed before sitting down.

"Ow, ow, ow, owwwww, I'm sorry okay? Please let go!"

Everyone in the room except for the two humans goes stiff, their irises focus and unfocus. The moment Bell walks into the cavern while pinching one of Echo's ear, several individuals throw away their weapons before running and jumping onto her with their tails waving.

"What the-?!" She quickly lets go of Echo's ear and starts jumping off the walls and ceiling as she tries to get away from being dogpiled.

An exhausted looking Kun walks forward, bringing up the rear, watching the little game of cat and mouse (or dogs and cat in this case) with amusement.

*kon* *kon* *kon* *kon* *kon*

"Cut it out!"

*hiii hiii hiii*

Bell knocks the ones chasing her in the head, causing them to back off while whimpering.

*koho*

"Have some manners." Sekn gives off a soft warning, causing all the ones that were chasing Bell to droop their tail and ears. On the other hand, his tail, along with others that stood and watch, are all waving around happily. Turning his head toward the felinoid, "are you perhaps a citizen of the Pent Kingdom?"

*haa haa*

Bell is taken aback while catching her breath, she was already tired from riding the [Cerebus], dodging the caninoids drained whatever strength she had left. All eyes, except those of her companions, are on her. She shakes her head.

"Did you take in citizens of Pent? There are definitely the smell of other demihumans on all of you!" Desperation seeps into the sitting young man's voice as he talks.

"Um… wouldn't that be De'muel, Mak'ra, Dosnak and the rest of the kids?"

"... De'muel?" Sekn and all the caninoids' shift their focus from Bell to the black-haired young man in the back.

"That's named after the God of Prosperity right?"
"Definitely!"
"And Ra of Mak! There must be survivors!"

Excited chatter fills the cavern as the party of four gathers.

"Till, who are these people? Why were they trying to jump me?" Bell is still on guard, being cautious to leave no opening while retrieving her halberd.

*koho*

The young man on the chair coughs lightly to silence his fellows, "excuse us for our bad manners, we've been… stuck here for years, and we thought you were a survivor from our kingdom. A proper introduction is in order. My name is Sekn, son of Miran, former commander of the combined 4th Lupine Company and 2nd Manze Combat Engineers and Supply Regiment from the Pent Kingdom." The young man stands up before giving the group a bow, while the rest of the caninoids follow suit. "Do forgive me for not looking at you properly, as you can see, I'm blind."

"Um… sorry, I helped raise those kids, they were all orphans that were found around a certain forest. They definitely aren't from the Pen... " Till freezes mid sentence. "Headmistress…?! You are the people that headmistress was looking for?!" She reaches into her garb before clutching the amulet tightly.

"What's the name of this headmistress?!" Sekn asks in earnest.

"Alfina, Alfina Defaye." A bittersweet voice announce the name lovingly.

"Aunt Defaye's alive?!" All the caninoids' tails goes into overdrive with their ears perked up, causing a minor draft in the chilled cavern. Smiles spread across their faces as Sekn happily asks the question.

"No, she recently passed away."

The mood dampens rapidly.

"But what about my father? I can feel that's he's here right now, where you are."

An awkward silence follows. Till looks at herself before looking around her, her eyes open sharply as she realizes a certain possibility. She releases her hand in shock, looking at the amulet intently . She bites her lips for a while before pressing her lips together to form a thin, flat line on her face. She takes off the amulet before approaching Sekn, grabbing one of his hands and pressing the amulet into it before backing away.

"What…" Sekn delicately traces the amulet with his fingers before resting on the crystal embedded in the center. A teardrop rolls down the man's face as the reality of it hits him. He had expected his father to die, every single last one of the 7 Great Magicians said as much. When he sensed his father's presence and with finding out that Alfina Defaye survived until just recently, it gave him hope. But his farfetched expectation doesn't mesh with reality, the only reason the well-liked [Quartermaster] can be felt at all is due to the [Spatial Storage] spell that has been casted onto the crystal. Absentmindedly, he repeats the well rehearsed phrase.





qpdbqpdb ○ Y ● , lll E> lD ⊚ : , E ⊚ :





All expressions disappear from the young man's face as he falls onto the chair. Everyone looks on as he continues to sit there in a daze. Kun starts looking around in the meantime with «Hawkeye», inspecting the beds and the people still sleeping on them, the food supply, the set of stairs, the walls, visible equipment, everything.

"Where did you find this?" The dog-eared young man's tone is completely flat and cold.

"It's a memento made by my younger brother from something Alfina owned..."

More silence follows.

"Eh, Sekn was it? Correct me if I'm wrong, you guy have been living here by robbing supplies from us immortals and adventurers right? And I think you guys are using something similar to hibernation to extend the supplies as well as some limited farming with fungus. I'm guessing there's about 300-400 people in this cavern?"

The caninoids turn their attention back to Kun with a sharp glint in their eyes. Sekn scrunches his brows, "what about it? And what did you mean by 'immortals'?"

Till walks up and gives a more detailed history of the last few years, since she had been a user the longest, and is better equipped to explain. She talks about how the immortals came to be named immortals, the views held by Alfina in regards to them. The various major events that had happened on Zrewheig and personal events with Alfina since meeting her. Her composure and point drifts away ever so slowly, taking time to talk about things Alfina had said that's completely unrelated, reliving her memories. Like how she found De'muel and others in the forest, how the little shelter became an academy, how Alfina turned the forest into a giant formation to protect the academy, how birds were accidentally pushed out of the forest, how they had to import bees and such to help with pollinating and spreading seeds since the birds left, etc… Some of the gathered people shifts nervously while others simply smile at their own memories. No one interrupted her however, until Till stops speaking on her own.

Sekn and some of his comrades have a faint smile on their face when she finished.

"What I was trying to say is that… things aren't going to be good if you people stay here. The [Cerebus] is strong… but it's just a matter of time before it's defeated and killed. This is a [Dungeon], meaning that there's a reward for conquering it."

"Right, the other [Dungeon]s reward the people that managed to conquer and control them. Out of the two conquered so far, one produces high quality silk in large quantities while the other has a unique type of food that only grows within the [Dungeon] that is said to be the food version of an orgasm."

*kon*

"Food version of nirvana, you dumbass."

Sekn's and Echo's faces turn pale immediately. "What happened to the ones that were defending the [Dungeon]s?"

"They were killed each time someone else tried to take it from the group of people that was controlling the [Dungeon]."

"Excuse us a moment." Bell moves away from the group, walking past a few of the people that encircled them, beckoning the rest of her group to follow her before activaing the [Chat Room] command.

One by one, the group walks into the section where Bell is at while she enables each of them to listen in.

"Let me start, I don't think these are bad people. Hell, I don't even want to be fighting the [Cerebus] again after that display with Echo."

"Yeah… it's like a giant puppy the way it reacts to Echo." Kun crosses his arms and smirks.

"These are the people Alfina was looking for, for so long too… to think they were only a country apart."

"No offense Till, but that Alfina of yours scare me." The youth shivers as he recalls his past experience with her while the girl pouts at him. "But on the other hand, the academy was built by her, and likely has some meaning that we don't know about."

The catwoman lifts an eyebrow, the way her friend continues to make sense recently still confuses her at times. "What are you suggesting?"

"Look, these people need a place to stay. The [Forest of Illusions] is freaking huge, let them stay with us. We get a small army to help defend the Academy, and likely help us expand the Academy. They get to live somewhere else, have a proper base, and meet people that they are obviously dying to meet. Just look at how they reacted to Bell." The felinoid takes a step back instinctively with her tail raised. "It's a win-win situation."

"Supplies will be a problem though."

"We can shift the money saved for our expansions and use it to get them supplies, if they are willing to help expand the Academy, it's no different than paying them to do it for us."

"I think headmistress and everyone back in the Academy would like that~"

* * * * *

"What do you think of these people, Echo?"

"I'm not sure if we can trust them, what if they are putting on an act?"

"I doubt that… especially that little girl. Do you know what this is?" Sekn holds up the amulet that he was given by Till.

"It's just a wooden amulet that has your father's scent on it, no?"

"Look closer." Sekn hands over the amulet to his second-in-command.

The dark-haired older man inspects the amulet carefully, his face of concentration gives way to one of astonishment. "How can a piece of wood and crystal be joined so seamlessly? … Wait, there's magic within the crystal as well?"

"That amulet was made with extreme care, it's a piece of wood that's made to fit the crystal completely, I can barely even detect the parts where the pieces are joined together. And that crystal? It holds a large portion of our Kingdom's [Artifact]s, my father casted [Spatial Storage] on it at one point and must have shoved everything inside."

The older man nearly drops the amulet from the shocking revelation, fumbling it around in the air before diving on to the ground to keep it safe. Others around him go wide-eyed before standing at attention. After carefully returning the amulet to Sekn, Echo gives himself a *taa taa* pat down to remove the dust and looks at the group of four people that are having a discussion of some sort.

"These children… are likely not lying and they are not blinded by greed. This amulet obviously means a lot to her, yet she's able to give it to me without asking for anything."

Echo opens his mouth, about to give a reply. He closes his mouth right away since the children are walking back toward them. 3 of them form a line behind the blond youth.

"We just talked it out. You guys want to live with us?"

*doka*

Bell give him a swift kick in his ass.

"Ow!" He rubs his butt a bit as the others look on before giving off a *goho* and straightens himself.

"As the 2nd Headmaster of Zinia Academy, I invite you, your company and regiment, to reside with us until such time that you feel you want to leave. Food and amenities will be provide for initially, but you'd have to be self-sustaining after a 3 month period. You will be required to help out the Academy during your stay, additionally, we are willing to take in the [Cerebus] if necessary."

All the caninoids shift their weight nervously, with their tails waving and ears twitching.
Unexpectedly, Sekn lowers himself on one knee, with the amulet in one hand. "I hereby accept your hospitality and goodwill, as a commanding officer of the Pent Kingdom and I swear upon my body and indestructible soul that your kindness will be repaid. I shall be held responsible for any and all indiscretion by those I'm in charge of. Should the day come where I fail to uphold my words, may I be impaled by a thousand spears, suffer the curse of pain unimaginable, with my orifices bleeding, devoid of all but agony."

*ziii*

A faint brand briefly wraps itself around the kneeling Sekn.

"Did the commander just do a {Blood Oath}?"
"Shit, when was the last time a commanding officer did that?!"
"Guys, protocols, protocols!"

All the remaining caninoids form a square formation behind their commander and salute.

The party of four look at each other, obviously not expecting such a development.

"I only have one request, something that only those that are in your positions are able to do." The blind young man stands up with a faint, conspiring smile on his face.

6 comments:

  1. If those beast-men are there, then that must mean other might be at different dungeon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And thus the story of the reformation of the Pent Kingdom began.

      Delete
  2. Good work! The writing on this (and certainly the translation) is a solid step above most of the light novels I've read. Thank you for your hard work bringing it to us! :)

    Very interesting development in the works here. I wonder what he is going to request of them...?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the chapter!
    Wow, more people for the academy now.

    ReplyDelete

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