FSN + SAO

Yay, new update~! :D (Sidenote: has it really been a year since the last one? It only feels like half that. :O)
I liked Hanzou's internal monologue struggling with whether or not he really should be enjoying the Death Game or not. On the one hand - yeah, people are dying, and everyone's essentially comatose, but on the other hand, Ninja Magic.
Curious to see if the boss for this floor will be the standard "boss in a dungeon arena" sorta thing, or if it'll be something like the [Moby Roc], and traverse the entire floor once the boss flag is tripped.

P.S. - I know this is from the Prisma-Ilya series, not the main universe, but I can't help but think of Ilya's Pirate Outfit™.


Some minor corrections I noticed:
He realized he didn’t need to have bothered.
This is phrased kinda awkwardly - Maybe change it to "needn't have"?
The new boy, whom Diabel really needed to address as [Keita] even in his own head, was beside Ilya at about five o’clock, just to Ilya’s left.
If Ilya's at 6, and Keita's at 5, then he'd be on Ilya's right, and Diabel's left.
Silica-kun’s big freaky sharks and Diabel-kun’s creepy crocodile-things could cover a lot of ground, and Rosalia’s [Rare Element] apparently allowed her to directly look clear across the Floor.
Should be Kuradeel.
Also, not a correction, but I still love that Silica is continually getting bigger and better monstrosities to fight with. How long 'till she has an actual dragon mount, I wonder?
Well, that was an advantage in its own way, he didn’t want them getting to deep into it.
too

There's no one spot I can point to and go "this should be fixed", but Diabel's internal monologue feels kinda off at times. Previous chapters re: [Diabel's internal thoughts] felt more... organized, I guess? But in this meeting, he's a bit more all over the place; IE: "Oops, he couldn’t allow himself to get sidetracked or Ilya would keep talking."
His dialogue too - I don't recall him using -dono for the other guild leaders in the past, that seems like something the Fuumanin would do. Unless, of course, he's slowly starting to fall into the roll of [The Honorable Lord] the same way that Hanzou and the others have taken up the ideals of [Loyal Ninja Retainers]?
 

Leidolf

Well-Known Member
I love how Diabel is just waiting for Ilya to screw up to get the Black Cats. They consider it inevitable. Klein is building flying fortresses and foreshadowing about the 25th floor.
 

daniel_gudman

KING (In Land of Blind)
Staff member
There's no one spot I can point to and go "this should be fixed", but Diabel's internal monologue feels kinda off at times...
Try it now. You were right about the "dono" thing, and I've re-written a couple instances where he was too emotional in his monologuing (that "oops" moment, and also when he went "damn, they didn't find anything"), and made those more contemplative. Let me know how these changes read to you, I think that fixed it.
 
Try it now. You were right about the "dono" thing, and I've re-written a couple instances where he was too emotional in his monologuing (that "oops" moment, and also when he went "damn, they didn't find anything"), and made those more contemplative. Let me know how these changes read to you, I think that fixed it.
Yeah, this iteration sounds much better. ^-^

Couple of things I missed talking about the first time 'round, that I felt needed a mention -
It wasn’t so hard to carry an emergency flotation vest to prevent drowning, but getting back up to speed afterwards was annoying. And more importantly, it wasn’t cool enough for being a ninja.
Fuumanin are secretly(?) dorks, and I love them even more now. xD
It was still air, a wind created from his imagination, but it was definitely as sharp and piercing as a [Sword] as well.

Thus, he poured prana into his sword, circulated the prana that came out the other end of the sword into the air around him, gathered it like syrup around his leg, and then his leg whipped out and down, an axe-kick that was surrounded by air as sharp and powerful as the axe of a giant.
I like the demonstration of Hanzou's abilities here - upgrading his wind blasts from blunt damage to slashing damage is one heck of a power boost. Once he figures out the [Aura of Blades] he's working on, he'll be practically untouchable.
This might be something from the Ideas thread, not this one, but:
Since Hanzou is eventually going to become a [Titled Player], it'd be interesting if that happened because he accidentally solo'd a boss that he was supposed to just be scouting - ie, "well, I'm still able to fight, and getting intel about the final health-bar power boost for Diabel-sama would be useful- oh whoops, I just killed it."
Rosalia’s [Rare Element] apparently allowed her to directly look clear across the Floor.
I can't help but be reminded of that other old meme. "Rosalia, what do your elf eyes see?" (related) :D


text errors:
And, then there were the Fuumaningun.
Fuumanin
So now Diabel had an office in a mobile base that would be better to call a floating fortress.Kibaou had been so smug when the hull that the Fuurinkazan had built exploded, and they’d been in the lead, Kibaou hadn’t even thought to ask what the devil they were doing that would make a ship explode.
-Forgot the space between fortress & Kibaou
-in the second sentence, you'd need either a since/because/etc before "they'd", or a "so" before Kibaou.
 
Nah, -gun is a suffix in Japanese meaning "military unit." Well, it's reasonable to not know that, but technically Fuumaningun is valid.
 

zerohour

Well-Known Member
Good to see this going again. Don't feel bad about falling off the wagon. It happens to everyone. The important thing is getting back on!

I'm hoping Kayaba continues the Beach Episode theming by having some filler arc style events.

-Swimsuit style armor that has moderate defenses, but epic bonuses designed around the level, like +10 swim skill, boatbuilding, etc.

-Tournament events like limbo, beach volleyball, sandcastle construction

-Unlocking the boss involves throwing an epic luau at sunset, and fighting the boss in a dance battle instead of a life or death struggle. Could even be a repeating boss, so that they have an excuse to come back and take a break from the whole thing every once in a while. Think they're going to need it as time goes on. Everyone like epic drops, and getting a chance to upstage the Sixth Ranger doesn't come up very much. Sure, it's a dance battle, but how often do you get a chance to show him up in a boss battle?
 
Curious to see people's reaction to Shirou in swim trunks. I assume his Gae Bolg scar and Bruce Lee body aren't common knowledge.
 

Deathwings

Well-Known Member
Curious to see people's reaction to Shirou in swim trunks. I assume his Gae Bolg scar and Bruce Lee body aren't common knowledge.
I don't think they're visible in the game. SAO can reproduce the players' heads because the helmet cover them entirely, but it has no way to scan the rest of the bodies appearance. All it has are the basic calibrations that gives it a rough idea of the wearer's body proportions.
 

linkhyrule5

Well-Known Member
Well, Kayaba could cheat that with soul/magecraft bullshit, but he doesn't really have any reason to.
 
I don't think they're visible in the game. SAO can reproduce the players' heads because the helmet cover them entirely, but it has no way to scan the rest of the bodies appearance. All it has are the basic calibrations that gives it a rough idea of the wearer's body proportions.
Hmm. Is that legit from SAO somewhere? I haven't read it, just seen the series. I was under the impression that it generated their "real bodies" in the first episode from reading their minds to get their

EDIT: Don't know what happened to the end of my sentence. That was supposed to say "get their knowledge of their appearance".
 
Last edited:

zerohour

Well-Known Member
No, they mention having to calibrate it by patting down their bodies or something like that. Can't recall the exact details, but I think it was explained fairly early in the series.
 
Movements to calibrate was from the first episode as soon as Kirito started it up wasn't it? Doesn't explain how the game knows their face and skin tone. If there was a camera in the helmet, presumably it would have been discovered fairly early on by exactly the tech types who would be in a beta test and commented on.
 

Deathwings

Well-Known Member
Movements to calibrate was from the first episode as soon as Kirito started it up wasn't it? Doesn't explain how the game knows their face and skin tone. If there was a camera in the helmet, presumably it would have been discovered fairly early on by exactly the tech types who would be in a beta test and commented on.
Canon Jayaba somehow managed to integrate a microwave strong enough to fry the players' brains into the helmet without anyone being the wiser. Putting some sort of scanner would be child play in comparison.
 

daniel_gudman

KING (In Land of Blind)
Staff member
Since the NerveGear would have to integrate with your proprioception anyway, just to make it so you can move your VR body as intuitively as your IRL body, that idea it could exactly map the shape of a user's body as part of calibration seemed pretty obvious to me.
 

linkhyrule5

Well-Known Member
Canon Jayaba somehow managed to integrate a microwave strong enough to fry the players' brains into the helmet without anyone being the wiser. Putting some sort of scanner would be child play in comparison.
Tbh, I always assumed that the helmet read your mind by microwaves, and Kayaba just turned that existing system up to 11 to fry people. It's a lot easier to hide "oops this probably shouldn't be able to handle that much current" than "this entire system shouldn't exist in the first place."
 
Since the NerveGear would have to integrate with your proprioception anyway, just to make it so you can move your VR body as intuitively as your IRL body, that idea it could exactly map the shape of a user's body as part of calibration seemed pretty obvious to me.
So do you lean toward "Shirou has a Gae Bolg scar in-game" or not? It seems like something to address on a floor where he may be seen shirtless, either by people reacting to it, or his own thoughts on it not being there.
 

spilll

Well-Known Member
So do you lean toward "Shirou has a Gae Bolg scar in-game" or not? It seems like something to address on a floor where he may be seen shirtless, either by people reacting to it, or his own thoughts on it not being there.
Does he even have a scar isn't that just fanon ?
 

linkhyrule5

Well-Known Member
The same evening that he got his heart torn out by Lancer, Shirou had Avalon activated inside him by the contract with Saber. I doubt a scar even formed in the first place.
 

Nephirin

Well-Known Member
It is in fact, directly stated that there's no scar. Day 10 of Fate route:

...Wait, something's weird. I shouldn't remember a burning feeling in my chest.​
"--------"
I wake up suddenly. I open my shirt and check my body.
"---Yeah, there's no scar at all."
There's no scar on my chest.​
 
17.2 Griselda and Hexidecimal

daniel_gudman

KING (In Land of Blind)
Staff member
“They’re gaining on us!” Shouted Schmitt, sounding worried.

The guild [Sorcery Hunters] were in a pinch. Having entered this cavern, they were now close to being overwhelmed. In this special event dungeon created base on tripping secret flags on the Seventeenth Floor, her Guild was getting hounded by mobs in a dungeon.

Griselda glanced behind her. Although it was dangerous to look away from putting one foot in front of the other, this section of tunnel was relatively smooth and level. The risk of tripping while running was relatively low. The snarling horde was, in fact, getting closer. That was bad.

A voice snarled from the darkness in front of them, and Griselda snapped her head back forward in time to see a figure leap out of the darkness. Pale, with strangely long limbs corded with misshapen muscles, and a wide mouth full of drooling teeth in a degenerate face with a sunken, eyeless forehead.

[Morlorcs]. According to the game lore, they were orcs that had become adapted to living in these underground caves… and twisted by the dark magics that permeated the place.

But before it could fall upon them and slow them down, a tongue of lightning lashed out, striking it down in a hot blaze of light. It fell short, and moaned, loud and piteous, in pain before it’s HP bar emptied out and it broke down into pixels. The party didn’t even break stride, ignoring the drop as they pushed forward.

“They’re getting louder!” Schmitt said, sounding even more worried than before. But he still remained in the back, prepared to properly draw aggro as the tank.

The tunnel curved, sloping up, as they charged forward. Glass, who was in the lead and using his [Heat Hawk] Sword as a torch, started to slip out of Griselda’s view.

“We need to counter-attack!” Lizard shouted from behind, next to Schmitt. “We can’t just keep running!”

“The top of this curve!” Griselda shouted back over her shoulder, not taking her eyes of the front. “From higher ground, and we need to know what will be at our backs if we turn!”

“We don’t have the prana for a long stand!” Axer shouted from in front, arguing even from where she was keeping pace with Glass.

Yes. ‘Twisted by the dark magics of this place’ was fluff, but it also had a mechanical effect. Breathing in the mana that circulated in this cave poisoned you. If you detected mana as a scent, it smelled bitter and foul. If you detected mana with sight, it had a sickly purple tinge. It you detected mana as sound, it was a low, throbbing hum. Like that, that was what how it was twisted by dark magic.

Therefore, the amount of mana any of them could accumulate to refill their [Prana Bar] was extremely limited.

But it wasn’t like they had any other options.

“Whoa!” Came a shout from in front of her.

“Glass!” Axer screamed, at nearly the same time.

Griselda increased her speed, sprinting the last few steps to catch up, leaving Grimlock trailing behind her.

A morlorc had dropped from the ceiling, and was clinging to Glass’ back, arms wrapped around his neck, choking him. Axer was standing back, a desperate look on her face, unable to chop the mob without catching Glass in it, the magic charge on her blade vibrating furiously. Glass himself was awkwardly batting at the orc with his flaming sword, and although it hissed in fury when the fires touched it, it didn’t release its grasp. Griselda herself was unsure she’d be able to slash it without also hitting Glass.

In front of her, both Caynz with his knives and Yulier with her wand-sword also hesitated, unsure for that instant how to strike the mob without hitting Glass.

Beside her, caught up from behind, Grimlock was whispering to himself, before he pointed at the Glass.

Abruptly, the fire that wreathed the sword that Glass was holding swelled up, wobbling in a strange, almost organic way, and then tendrils lashed out, jumping like tentacles from the sword to Glass’s armor, before spreading across his chest and arms and back like burning oil spreading across a pond. Spreading under, around, and across the morlock, burning its arms, legs, and belly hideously.

It screamed, loud and furious, before wretchedly jumping off, rolling around on the ground in pain.

“Now!” Griselda screamed, but Axer was already moving, roaring as she brought her halberd down in a crushing blow, chopping the morloc in half as the magic discharged, blowing the mob to pieces in a spray of innards before everything dissipated into pixels.

The smell of burned flesh lingered.

“Whoa don’t stop!” Schimtt shouted from behind, and Griselda whirled around to see him catch a morlorc on his shield. He pushed it back as it clawed at his face, and he turned his head to the side in a grimace.

But then the ropes coiled on his shoulders came to life, one snaking around the lashing arm and yanking it aside, and the other wrapping around the neck of the mob and squeezing.

It gasped and growled, pawing at the ropes cutting off its air.

Lizard caught it directly on the skull with her short, curved blade. “Switch!” She shouted.

Schmitt moved without hesitating, lunging forward to pin another morlorc to the wall with his lance, as his ropes whipped the dead mob off his shield at the same time, before it vanished.

The instant it was pinned, Lizard chopped again, missing the neck, and then again, catching it in the shoulder.

“Switch!” Griselda called out as an order, as she dashed around Schmitt, and Lizard nodded, jerking back. Griselda lunged, catching the mob at the very base of the throat, and forcing its HP empty.

She darted back, twisting smoothly to arc behind Schimtt again, allowing him to raise his shield against the hallway. It looked like they would be making their stand here, after all.

“Gross.” Schmitt complained. “Some of the first one’s brains got in my mouth.”

“You big baby.” Lizard scolding, half laughing.

They could still here the din and howl of the morlorcs, echoing up the hallway. But… it wasn’t getting any closer, and there weren’t any more mobs coming up towards them. Griselda focused, closing her eyes as she Reinforced her hearing. It was a difficult technique, but what she increased was not her sensitivity to hear more clearly, but instead her ability to discriminate where sounds were coming from. Although it counted as [Reinforced Hearing], thinking about it objectively, what she was improving in terms of the fluff wasn’t her ears capacity to hear, but her brain’s capacity to process sounds.

“It sounds like it’s coming from behind us, huh?” Lizard said, which confirmed Griselda’s concerns.

“Let’s keep going.” Griselda decided, turning to lead the two back to the rest of the party, who were standing around talking instead of fleeing. Griselda made a note to herself to bring this up during their next review session.

“Because I made, I [Crafted], your sword, both as a [Weapon] and a Mystic Code, the [Heat Hawk] effect is as much my spell as it yours.” Grimlock was saying to Glass. “All I had to do was… seize back control of it, so to speak. I wasn’t sure it would work; it was only possible because you were too distracted to resist me seizing it, consciously or unconsciously.” His face twitched in that particular way he had, when he fell short of his own high standards. “I had to power it by wrenching prana out of you, though. Sorry about that.”

“That makes sense.” Glass replied, nodding. “And, uh, that’s okay.” Axer was rubbing his back; Yulier and Caynz had moved forward to guard the front.

“We’re moving forward.” Griselda said, catching Grimlock’s eye. He nodded slightly, answering her implicit question of whether the rest of the group was ready to move forward.

The roars and din of the morlorcs was definitely getting louder as they pushed forward, the hallway curving more sharply and the incline getting steeper, until they came out onto a gallery or balcony, overlooking what was a room, and a cave; or rather, Griselda thought, it was supposed to be a big cavern that had been carved and molded into a great hall. It was where they had accidentally pulled down the aggro of an entire hoard of morlorcs, apparently triggering some kind of [Wave Attack] Event.

Below them was chaos and bedlam.

The hoard was still there, howling furiously. But they weren’t chasing them. Instead, the heaving mass of morlorcs were fighting each other. As her eye cast over it, Griselda figured there were approximately three centers of conflict, like whirlpools that were drawing the morlorcs in.

And at the center of each of those maelstroms was a ghastly red-black haze.

Griselda examined one in particular. A morlorc, wreathed in the haze, swung a huge battleaxe, cleaving through another, killing it. It howled in victory. And then howled in rage, turning as it was beaten on from behind while distracted, lashing out and striking down the morlorc that had tried to gank it. And in turn it was struck down from behind, by a morlorc with a heavy rock.

Which lifted its rock, hooting in triumph, standing over the fallen morlorc. But when that victim vanished into pixels, the haze did not, instead… jumping, if such a word could apply to fog, jumping up,.jumping out, to the morlorc standing victorious. Which reached down, equipped the battleaxe, and then began laying waste to the morlorcs around it.

Griselda frowned, switching her attention to another center, where a morlorc was cut down, and another morlorc wielding an axe cut down the opponent in front of it, and was cut down in turn by a third, only for that victor to take up the axe.

“Hmm. Interesting.” Grimlock said, with what almost sounded like approval to her.

“You understand what’s going on?” Lizard said. “Like, seriously, what the hell’s going on.”

Grimlock pursed his lips. “Look at the Player.”

“…There isn’t a Player down there.” Schmitt pointed out.

Grimlock did not roll his eyes. Well, Griselda wasn’t looking at him, instead she was paying attention to the melee below, but she knew him well enough that she both knew that he wanted to, and that he held himself back from actually doing so. “Circulate your prana.” He said, almost chiding. “The subtlety is acceptable but the power is a bit lacking, so you should be able to break it with a little brute force.”

Griselda did as he said, ramping up the circulation of her prana as she watched, as a morlorc was cut down, and the one with the axe was defeated, and the axe was taken back up. Wait, that one that was cut down, how could it be killed when the one with the axe was in the middle of dying.

Like a magic eye puzzle being resolved, coming into focus; she suddenly realized there was a Player there. That Player’s hooded cape obscured all their features, but the green symbol floating over their head was an absolute clue.

“Is… is that guy using the ‘Notice-Me-Not’ Charm from Harry Potter?” Schmitt asked, sounding incredulous.

This time, when he sighed, Grimlock didn’t stifle it. “Close enough to that, I suppose.”

The morlorcs were beginning to thin out, now.

“Hey.” Lizard said, interrupting. “I recognize that haze, isn’t that the [Orcish Berserker Curse]? I think they’re going to go after the Player when there aren’t any mobs left.”

There were only a dozen or so left.

But the groups were a bit lopsided, with only three in the farthest clump, while the rest were closer to the entrance to their hallway, as those two closer clumps almost merged.

And the last morlorc standing in the far clump raised its axe in triumph, and then charged forward, cutting down a mob from the closer group from behind.

In the closer groups, one hazed morlorc slashed at the other, having apparently aggroed it as being some combination of close and high priority. It was decisive, and the haze around the victor absorbed the haze that had been around the weaker, obviously doubling in… size, or intensity, or some combination. Now that she thought about it, they had been slowly building up, the hazes getting stronger with each mob that dropped.

Indeed, the haze around that one was obviously heavier and thicker than the third one, and that morlorc savagely killed the last two mobs, before turning and striking down the last axe-bearer. Not just muscle power, but also speed had been boosted, it seemed.

It screamed, then, victorious, as the haze wobbled, tendrils lashing out around it, as if searching for new prey. Tendrils that slid right past the player that casually walked up behind the morlorc, the mob also ignoring that Player.

And then, with a quick, confident thrust, the Player impaled the morlorc from behind, a flat-bladed sword-thrust that cut cleanly through the spine, up from just below the ribcage, to pierce the heart, and erupting out of the left collarbone.

It was, Griselda thought, a beautiful sword.

The Player wrenched their sword free, stepping back and casually whipping it around to fling the blood off the blade, as the morlorc collapsed. And the disguise spell was broken, the tendrils no longer slid past like raindrops being shed by the cloak, but instead lashed, digging into the Player—

“Amphora: Drink.” The player spoke, and raised their left hand, holding some kind of ceramic jug, papered over in sealing talismans, some dangling limply off the sides. The top of the jug was open, the mouth was open, and it sucked the flickering red-black haze in. Slurping it up, with strangely wet sounds.

And with a last pitiful pop, the haze was pulled completely into the jug, and one of the limp seals writhed, flipping around to cap over the top of the jug, sealing it shut.

Like that, a single Player had, without taking a single blow, defeated the hoard that had pushed her entire party back. Griselda bit her lip, feeling a bit chagrined. Was this really the gap between them and Front Liners?

Beside her, Axer started clapping.

And the Player below flinched, nearly dropping their jug, before they twisted, stepped back, and looked up at the gallery overlooking the cavern. And then stepped back again, body language somehow awkward even covered in the cloak, when they recognized there was an audience of Players.

“Is that… Hexadecimal?” Grimlock muttered to himself.

“Oh, you know them?” Lizard asked.

“Yes, he used to be a regular client.” Grimlock replied, as he raised his hand and apparently started operating his menu. “I’ll send him a PM to let him know it’s me.” His eyes flicked to the hallway behind them. “And anyway, we’ll have to meet up before we can leave, so we should be careful.”

When they got back down to the floor of the cave, the Player was lifting up one of the axes in his left hand, studying it carefully. His sword was sheathed at his waist, his cloak pushed back, the hood down. His hair was mussed, but somehow it looked artful, instead of like bedhead. The lower half of his face was covered in a tight mask that went all the way down to his throat, disappearing under his shirt. Under all that, Griselda was surprised at how young he was. A teenager, maybe 15 at oldest.

“Hexadecimal.” Grimlock said, raising his hand in greeting.

“Grimlock-san.” The boy replied. “It’s… good to see that you’re well.”

“You as well.” Grimlock said, nodding.

Griselda had to stifle herself from laughing, as the conversation petered out just like that. She waited just long enough that it was obvious that neither of them had more to say, but not long enough that it would become awkward, and opened her mouth to ask for an introduction to keep the talk going.

But the boy raised his right hand, holding what looked like an open book, before he flipped the axe around his hand in a smooth circle, letting it hang head down, before he lifted it up, and then jammed it against the book.

No, jammed it into the book, pushing down, the axe disappearing into the pages. He twisted his hand around to smoothly push the last tip of the handle with the flat of his palm, and then closed the book with a decisive snap.

Grimlock made a strangled noise. “Are…” He began, before clearing his throat and trying again. “Are you storing cursed tools and Mystic Codes… in a Bible?”

Griselda did a double-take. Indeed, the book was about the right size, and had a simple leather binding with what might be a cross embossed on the front. She was too far away to be sure.

The boy almost flinched, looking away for a bit. “It works just fine.” He replied, sounding defensive.

Grimlock sighed, rubbing his forehead. “No, no, it’s just…” he sighed, shaking his head. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Come on, you can’t just leave it at that.” Lizard protested. Griselda was quietly grateful; it would be better to clear the air, instead of letting this while she had to converse with the boy about other things.

Grimlock considered that. “You recall that we’ve visited Churches before.” He finally said, phrasing questions as statements. “Do you remember what those places had to say about Magecraft.”

“Seriously.” Axer butted in, sounding dry. “You’re giving him a hard time about it because the fluff says the Church is against Magecraft?” Griselda had to agree that having a setting like that was a bit… painfully cliché, even for how much the Cardinal system outright stole clichés and plot threads from everywhere.

“Yes.” Grimlock said, deliberately not sighing this time. “That’s why I said it didn’t matter.”

“Well, we’re happy for your help, Hexadecimal-san.” Griselda said, inserting herself into the talk to take control of the conversation. “My guild here, the [Sorcery Hunters], had been in a bit of a pinch, so as a result of your actions, that really helped us out. Thank you.” She finished, bowing. Based on his personality, she tried to make it low enough to express her sincerity, without going down enough that he’d get flustered.

“It wasn’t a problem.” He replied, sounding not defensive, but maybe a touch standoffish. He turned, and walked over to collect another axe, lifting it up to inspect it again. Well, that was approximately where she hoped he would be, so Griselda would consider this a tentative success so far.

“So I gotta ask.” Axer said, injecting herself into the conversation. “It was cool, but what was up with that? Are you like, collecting curses or something?”

“Or something.” Hexadecimal replied dryly, taking out his book, his Bible, again, opening it and smoothly sliding the next axe into it. “Well, it’s still experimental, but now that I’ve gathered up the Curse Power, I’m going to compress and refine it.”

“Even if they’re just mobs, that’s still a lot of death gathered into one place.” Grimlock mused, arching an eyebrow. “And the alignment of this place is helpful, as well.”

“Ah, you mean how the mana is poisonous?” Caynz said, falling into the role of student asking questions. “Like this dark power or whatever, it helped power up the curse?”

“Mana can’t be poisonous, but essentially yes.” Grimlock replied.

“So if it’s not poisonous, why do we get poison damage from taking it in?” Axer rebutted.

Grimlock frowned, looking like he was trying to figure out how to decide how to explain. “Here’s an example. If you drink salt water, you get sick, but it’s not like salt water is poisonous. Compared to the pure water of the mana we’re used to, it’s simply that the mana of this place is a kind of salt water.”

He raised his hands, making a gesture like a bowl in front of him. “So just like salt water is natural, but something that is toxic for humans to drink, the way that most mana is naturally aligned to Elements means that it’s toxic to use mana that’s aligned against your personal Elements.”

“So you’re saying, this place has, like, darkness-aligned mana or something?” Caynz said, rubbing his chin as he frowned.

“Not exactly, but you’re fundamentally correct.” Grimlock replied. “Because exactly, it’s the Sixth Imaginary Element, not [Darkness] particularly, that it’s aligned to.”

“Interesting.” Hexadecimal said. “So hypothetically speaking, if there was someone that had the [Sixth Imaginary Element] as their own [Elemental Alignment], they’d be able to use this mana normally, but anyone else would have to… like, filter the element out and process it before they use it?”

“Yes, that’s correct.” Grimlock replied. “But keep in mind that most mana is aligned to most elements, just like how most water in the world is salt water. So for example, if there is mana in an area that is aligned to Water and Wind, and you had the Water Element, you would still be stressed by the Wind Element, but would be fine with the Water alignment. You could handle one kind of salt in the water, but not both. In that sense, it’s strange that all the Floors so far have mana that is purely aligned to Ether. It’s like if everywhere, all the oceans, were made of pure fresh drinking water.”

“Wait, wait, is Ether exempt from all this stuff, Blood Type O or whatever, then?” Axer said, re-entering the conversation.

Grimlock’s face twitched. “I wouldn’t want to mix my metaphors, but yes, that is a good insight.”

“I don’t know that any of this is in the [Argo Guide].” Hexadecimal mused.

“Lorehound like always, that’s our Grimlock.” Lizard said, chuckling. “So, Hexadecimal-san, you’re just here to grind mats, right?”

Hexadecimal nodded. “Yes.” He glanced around “Well, it’s not part of a [Quest] though, it’s more that I need them for my own crafting.”

In that case, it was important to make sure they wouldn’t be stepping on each other’s toes.

“We are here as part of a [Quest], however.” Griselda said, putting an apologetic note into her tone. “As a result of that, we have been triggering [Events] such as that horde, so I’d like to apologize for involving you in that.”

Hexadecimal shrugged, looking away again. “It worked out well for me, so it’s not a problem.” He flicked his gaze up, and then aside, as he turned away. The awkwardness of youth, wanting to ask, but somehow not quite able to frame the question.

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t spread it around, but our Quest is seeking out a rare material in these caverns, called [Mithral].” Griselda said.

“If we succeed, Grimlock owes me 500 Col.” Lizard added, apropos nothing.

“Quite.” Grimlock replied, dryly.

Hexadecimal nodded blindly, and then turned to collect his last axe. “Well, I don’t mind partying up at least as long as we’re headed in the same direction, I guess.” He said, with his back turned to them. Ah, so awkward~. So young~. It was a talk about far in the future, but Griselda hoped she’d have a kid this cute.

“That would be appreciated, Hexadecimal-san.” She instead said, as he lifted up the last axe, and stored it away into his Bible.

“…Okay.” He finally said. Oh, had he expected they would turn him down, and only offered out of some sense of politeness? But looking at what she could see of his face when he turned back, it wasn’t like he seemed to resent the idea.

“Then we’ll be in your care, Hexadecimal-san.” She said, smiling.

I I I

It roared, the sound worming into Griselda’s ears, and filling her heart with dread. She circulated the prana in her Circuits, and the supernatural terror receded from her mind.

It lashed outward with its arm, and the three-stranded whip cracked as the lashes broke against Schmitt’s armor, reducing his HP in turn. He was losing health too fast compared to the tanking they required off him.

“Athame: Throb.” Hexadecimal announced in a strange cadence, throwing a heavy mace in an overhead toss. It was an odd thing, a meter-long pole of metal that had five or six baseball-sized metal lumps on the end. But at his words, the balls began to pulse with strange reddish light, no two the same color, no two quite the same rhythm.

The mob in front of them was over three meters tall. It was strong, and armored with thick muscles, an overbuilt humanoid with ox horns and bat wings. But the left arm dangled uselessly, clutching a sword it didn’t swing from an arm with an elbow that flapped in too many directions; the wings were tattered and broken and hung limp; and the ox-horned head was torqued so far around that broken vertebrae bulged unnaturally from the neck. Thick slime poured from its body, smelling like rotten ichor and gasoline at the same time.

The mace smashed into its body, and the metal baseballs burst, splashing a metallic-looking liquid against the beast, which spread, sizzling and hissing as it apparently melted the flesh under the ichor. The metallic oilslick intruded on the territory of the rotting ichor, and was repelled, the mace dropping to the floor.

[The Haunt of Dwarven-Bane] floated above its head. It had four health bars, but two had been grayed out from the instant this strange Boss had appeared.

It bellowed in anger, and lashed out with its whips again, trying to strike Hexadecimal, who was already retreating out of the mob’s reach.

Yulier shouted, and an actinic flash of light pulsed forth from her sword-wand, blasting the mob as she walked her lightning across its torso.

“Switch!” Lizard shouting, rushing forward with her upper body tucked behind her shield, as Schmitt staggered back to let her slam into the enemy, trying to knock it backward. Towards the cliff behind it, and the collapsed bridge it was apparently guarding. Lizard lashed at it with her heavy scimitar, digging in and slicing in under the ribs. A too-shallow cut.

It hissed, and rolled the head on that broken neck, headbutting Lizard in the shoulder with the heavy part of its forehead between its horns.

“Switch!” Axer said, dashing in from the side, using her whole body as a fulcrum to swing her glowing axe like a pendulum, discharging the built-up power in a blast of light even as she dug the blade into the mob.

“Dodge!” Griselda shouted, and Axer darted back without looking, as the mob awkwardly lunged forward, missing on its attempt to pommel-slam Axer, as it took three steps forward.

Like that, it casually regained all the distance they had been trying to force it back.

“Switching!” Griselda shouted, darting forward. Streaks of light spread from her shield, as she crashed into it like a meteor, a blast of blaze-hot air jetting out from the impact. She planted her feet ,and shoved, forcing the mob stumbling back as she forced her shield away from her body, and then she twisted, thrusting her longsword into the mob with a heavy blow.

Griselda didn’t have anything complicated like Schmitt’s rope. She wasn’t good at materializing spells like Yulier, or even tuning the output of a Mystic Code like Glass. She certainly wasn’t as clever as Grimlock, who could use his command of the Lore to quietly and casually improvise whatever spell he needed.

But among the [Sorcery Hunters], she was the best at simply enhancing her body to deal raw brute damage. The proof of that was how easily she knocked the mob back, and the large amount of damage she did.

But it was only large compared to the damage the rest of the Guild was doing. It was only about the same as what Hexadecimal was dealing out. Compared to the HP bar of [The Haunt of Dwarven-Bane], it was a sliver instead of a thin sliver.

She darted back by instinct, skipping away, covering a dozen meters in four shallow steps.

“Switching!” Glass said, sword blazing as he stepped in, swinging it in a tight box-shaped combo of slashes.

“Athame: Pin.” Hexadecimal said, driving a rapier into the ground behind the monster, into the shadow that became sharp and clear on the far side of the bright-burning sword.

The mob staggered, like its feet were stuck in concrete, but then with a heavy step like it was simply pulling a foot out of shallow mud, it stepped forward. “No dice on the lockdown.” He shouted, sounding frustrated as he darted away.

Lighting lashed out as Yulier shot at it again.

It was problematic. It wasn’t like they were taking any big hits. But if Griselda compared the rate they were losing HP, the rate they were using their Prana, those compared to how much damage the boss had taken… it wasn’t enough. The thing was simply, resolutely, absolutely tough.

“This is going too slowly.” Hexadecimal quietly said from next to her. Griselda was surprised that he’d managed to get up next to her, although she was also a little surprised that the Front Liner, who didn’t know her Guild’s abilities, could read the flow of their battle as quickly as she could.

“I’m afraid so.” Griselda replied, lightly. It wouldn’t do to get caught up in her own frustration.

“Well… since we’re experimenting anyway…” Hexadecimal was talking more to himself than her as he spoke, quickly and confidently sheathing all his weapons into his Bible, which he closed with a confident snap before tucking it behind his back.

And then he reached for the longsword at his waist, and pulled it free. It shined in his hand; not something so obvious as emitting golden light, but a more subtle effect, like it was gleaming like a mirror reflecting a far-away fire. Straight, with just the slightest hint of a taper, and a curled cross-guard. Delicate scroll-work was worked into the cross-guard, and continued a third of the way up the blade, in the central back-groove.

It really was a beautiful sword, Griselda thought.

And then Hexadecimal dashed forward, holding the sword in both hands. His cut was a little strange, looking more like the [Sword Skill] called [Diagonal] at an angle so steep it was almost vertical.

And the blade parted the ichor as easily as water, and cut deeply into the flesh.

The monster screamed, throwing its head back, rolling haphazardly on that broken neck, as it roared it’s rage to the Heavens above.

But Hexadecimal took the opportunity to slash again, smoothly transitioning into a horizontal blow across the body of the mob. It lashed out with its whip, and Hexadecimal retreated.

And Caynz threw knives from each hand, sending them glancing across the monster, one scratching it’s chest and the other, it’s left cheek. Barely any damage, but it was enough of a distraction for Hexadecimal to recover his footing and lunge forward with a thrust.

Griselda was distantly surprised that his swordsmanship wasn’t any better than hers. No, without being able to rely on the same level of physical enhancement she had, in absolute terms his own performance might be worse? But he made it up with the power of his sword. It seemed to be almost ignoring the monster’s defenses, and he was at least good enough to score blows with that tremendous weapon.

As they watched, he managed to whittle the top HP bar down to zero. Or, considering the two that were grayed out, was it the third HP bar? Regardless, that meant it had one HP bar left.

And it roared, and the ichor changed color, swirling with darkness as the whole thing turned black as pitch. The eyes in that head on that broken neck glowed like embers. And hideous muffled sounds, pops like logs cracking under a swamp, came out from under that black ichor.

The head rose up as the neck straightened. And the limply dangling arm whipped around. It wasn’t like the arm was moving properly; it was like the bones were simply pulverized and the ichor was manipulating that arm like a whipping-rope made of tendons and meat. And the silvery sword still gripped in that monstrous hand rung out, clashing against the golden sword of the Player.

Compared to her, his sword skills were worse, but compared to the mob they were at least a little better. Compared to that golden blade, it was the silver one that shrieked and sparked as they lashed against each other. But comparing their raw physical abilities, [The Haunt of Dwarven Bane] was truly at the level of a Boss with four Health Bars.

Hexadecimal was being forced back by brute strength. And between the superior skill of a human and the inferior skill of a mob… it was the software entity called a [mob] that wouldn’t make mistakes.

The golden sword dug deep into the Boss. And in that over-extended instant, the silver sword smashed into the Front-Liner, blowing him back. At least it looked like his armor had held.

“We have to back him up!” Griselda said, dashing forward with her shield raised. She swung out, striking once, twice, and then leaping back to avoid the three-part whip.

Yulier’s lightning flashed, lancing across the mob. But it ignored it.

The silver sword came down, whistling through the air as it came to part her skull. But Griselda raised her shield, throwing herself a half-step to the side, letting the blow smash against the tilted shield like a great hailstone striking a roof.

“Switching!” Schmitt shouted, as he charged in, lance raised high at his shoulder. The thing swung it’s whip at him – and the strands of the whip were tangled up in Schmitt’s ropes, which lashed out as they wrestled like eels, leaving an opening as he thrust in, impaling the monster with his lance.

No, it failed to penetrate. He desperately darted back, evading the sword that swung at him, but his motion was constrained, his body jerking to a stop as his ropes remained tangled with the whip.

“My turn!” Lizard shouted, aiming at the opening created by Schmitt jerking the whip-hand forward. Aiming at the exposed belly under the arm that was jerked forward as Schmitt was jerked back.

It swung with its sword, bellowing in rage, as Lizard retreated and Axer stepped forward.

“Can you stand?” Griselda asked, as Hexadecimal forced himself up. He coughed once. A wet, bloody sound, and then winced, flinching as the cough wracked against his probably-broken ribs.

“I’ll live.” He replied, narrowed eyes going up to look at the Mob. He grimaced again, shaking his head without breaking eye contact, before he snarled in frustration and looked away.

“We might be able to finish this.” Griselda said, as she contemplated the mob, frowning to herself.

Hexadecimal looked at her for a long moment, and then his gaze darted across her party, assessing each of her Guildmates in turn.

Caynz raise his hands, his knives flying back to him to slap against his palms, as he darted in front of Yulier.

Hexadecimal shook his head, looking like he’d made a decision. “In that case, here. Borrow my sword. It’s better than the one you’ve got, and I’m not going to be any good until I’ve at least gotten my ribs pinned straight.”

And he held out his golden sword, presenting the pommel to her.

Griselda smiled. “Thank you for the offer.” She replied, honestly tempted, and honestly touched. “But, I’m afraid I only equip swords made by my husband.” She finished the thought by raising it in a quick salute, and turning to face the mob.

Glass swung his sword, more like a flag than a blade, using the flame to obscure his movements as he closed in for a strike, making it look like his body was a little to the side of where he actually was.

“Switching!” Griselda shouted, as she darted in towards the weak side, hands braced for a mighty lunge, sword and body Reinforced to the limit, as she shot like a missile, spearing into the mob.

And unexpectedly, unrobotically, it simply released the whip that was still tied up by Schmitt, and reached down at her with that clawed hand, grabbing sword-hilt and her hand holding it all up like a vise.

“Shield up!” Grimlock shouted, and Griselda instinctively complied, throwing her shield up to guard her head.

She didn’t see it coming, but she felt it in her very bones. The crash as that silver sword came down, striking against her shield, and again. And a third time.

This, Griselda realized, was pretty bad.

“Aiming at the wrist!” Glass shouted from behind her, and Griselda ducked, as her guildmate roared, her axe flaring with the unstable magic charge ,before she smashed it into the mob’s arm. The forearm of the limb that was grappling Griselda.

It loosened just enough. Griselda pulled herself free, hands and sword wrenching back as she tried to retreat. But the mob’s claw spasmed, catching around the sword blade, and it was pulled from Griselda’s numb hand as she fell back.

He guild fell back, gathering around.

“Well, this is looking kind of bad.” Lizard muttered.

The mob shook it’s head, the weird blazing eyes leaving light-trails in front of the pitch black ichor that dripped from its body. All that, and maybe a third of an HP bar of damage.

“What should we do next?” Schmitt asked, sounding worried.

And the mob twitched, swing the sword in its left hand around to grip it properly. Griselda’s sword.

“I call shenanigans!” Axer shouted in protest.

“Boy.” Grimlock said, examining Hexadecimal with cold eyes. “If you can use a Bible like that… how often do you pray? Since you were baptized.”

What an insanely personal question, Griselda thought, and saw the same thought reflected in her Guild’s eyes, as they all stared at her husband in something like amazement.

Hexadecimal hunched in on himself even more. “Well, I mean… you know… every day.” He said, finishing up with a whisper.

“That should be enough, then.” Grimlock said, as he studied the demon in front of them with narrowed eyes. “Pull out that Bible of yours, then, and invoke Psalms 91 against that thing.”

He looked around at the rest of the Guild. “While he’s got it pinned like that, then the rest of us can gang up and beat it down.”

Even though the bottom half of his face was covered, even though he didn’t say anything, it was merely with his eyebrows that Hexadecimal’s frown expressed the most concern and incredulity out of all of them.

“Just go!” Grimlock shouted, pushing the boy forward from behind, shoving him from the back of his shoulder.

“Ah.” Hexadecimal stuttered.

“Nothing else for it, then.” Lizard said, adjusting her helmet, scratching her face even as she meaninglessly changed the settings on her chinstrap. “I’m gonna win our bet, you hear me Grimlock? And come on, Schmitt, let’s do this!”

Like that, she dashed forward. Even tucked behind her shield, her shoulders looked wide.

“Eh?” Schmitt said, looking surprised. “Come on, DPS shouldn’t get out ahead of the tank!” He protested, aggravated that his job would get harder because of her impetuousness.

“...” Hexadecimal paused, seeming to purse his lips behind his mask, eyebrows scrunched together, before finally he spoke. Before he started his invocation, his prayer.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

While Hexadecimal chanted, Lizard roared, charging forward with her scimitar raised to strike down the foul beast that stood before them as an enemy.

“I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”

But Lizard’s blow was countered and blown back by those lashing whips, and in the opening where her guard was opened up, that large, dark sword homed in.

“Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare, and from the deadly pestilence.”

Before it could rend Lizard’s body, that monstrous blade was caught on the shield, bound on the steel wire ropes of Schmitt, scraping horribly as he stood over his fallen party member, struggling to stand.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and your rampart.”

Switching, Axer communicated in a roar of exactly one syllable, as she charged forward, covering her fallen party members with a long hatchet-blade that shined bright as sunlight.

“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day.”

And that heavy and crude blade, twinkling like a single star, impinged upon the thick ichor of the mob, and violated its body and blew away the slime. But it wasn’t enough; the mob, enraged, howled back, even as it lost HP, and countered.

“Neither the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”

Glass screamed as Axer tumbled backwards, axe and wielder parted and spinning in opposite directions as the mob’s counter struck true, paying blow back with blow, injury with injury.

“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.”

Although he moved forward, rather than moving to her side; the sword in his hand burned brightly, scouring away the darkness, gathering the mob’s aggro away from her and onto him, as he stepped forward to trade blows in turn.

“You will only observe with you eyes, and see the punishment of the wicked.”

The blazing sword, the great bird of flame called [Heat Hawk], which lost against the slime coated muscles of some hideous Minotaur wielding a dark sword without anything but raw metal.

“If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the LORD, who is my refuge--”

Blows traded, the sword of fire furiously dancing like flames on a burning log, competing with the rotten and saturated power of a stump rearing forth from a saturated bog.

“Then no harm shall befall you, nor disaster will come near your tent.”

The fire lost, and the bog won, but even as the flames were snuffed out and lost to the darkness, as the wielder was blown away, the impact of that dun sword against his armor ringing hideously against his armor and he coughed blood, even after he rolled around the ground he still forced himself up onto his elbows coughing dark red phloem from his lungs.

“For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways!”

As the ox-headed beast stepped forward, lightning splashed against his face, searing his eyes and singing his hair, distracting him from the finishing blow.

“They will lift you up in your hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Thrown knives flew outwards like hunting birds seeking prey, darting between the forks of lightning, which somehow ignored them as the furiously bright flashes of heaven sought out the ground.

“You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great cat and the serpent.”

But even as the talons of the hunting birds caught flash and rended the meat apart, it wasn’t enough. The sharpness of the talons was no match for the thickness of the oxen flesh, leaving only scratches behind even as they caught the attention of the mob away from the lightning-caller.

“’Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my Name.’”

The girl who called lightning collapsed, spent and exhausted from reaching beyond her limits. And the boy who threw knives, standing opposite her, was relieved that the mob put his back to her and faced him, even though he honestly had no idea how his mere daggers could receive those hideous blows. Still, he raised his guard and lightened his feet, preparing to throw one more time, and escape backwards one more time, drawing the mob back yet farther.

“‘He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; for I shall be with him in trouble, for I will deliver him, and he will honor Me.”

They were struck down. The people who relied on her, they were scattered and laid injured, hoping for salvation. Someone beseeching God, praying, kneeled behind her and believed in her protection while he focused on prayer. And meanwhile, the person she wanted to protect more than anyone, the person she loved above all others; that person stood behind her guard as she raised her entrusted shield, and readied her borrowed sword. The sword was raised to strike hard, as the shield was lifted up and prepared to receive the incoming blow.

“With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My Salvation.’”

Griselda raised the hard shield she had been gifted to receive the foul blow; and took up the beautiful shining sword she had been entrusted with, and struck hard and true.

The golden sword and the holy words converged, and the Beast was struck low, and fell apart into motes of light.

I I I

Afterwards, when they examined the drops they got from the beaten mob, Lizard laughingly claimed victory. And even if he acted (pretended to act) sullen about it, her Grimlock easily and unhesitatingly paid up on his bet, acknowledging that they had received [Mithral] from defeating the [Event Boss].

Griselda raised the golden sword she had borrowed, presenting the treasure-crusted pommel to the one she had borrowed it from.

“No.” The Front-Liner replied, barely even looking, before his eyes darted away and down, almost hesitant as he glanced at the corner of the room, before firming up and meeting her own gaze.

She just raised an eyebrow as she met his gaze. Was it the confidence of an adult she was feeling right then, or did she just not trust that she could speak without breaking down? She didn’t know. She wasn’t sure.

Instead, he swallowed, eyes darting down to the side, over to the sword that hung between them, before coming up to meet her own gaze, and forcing her sight away with the intensity of his own raw stare.

“This sword was made by the Sixth Ranger.” He announced. “Made from the true feelings of the comrades that… I lost.” He finished, with a quiet voice like he was quietly admitting something.

But then he rallied. “But ever since I’ve fallen in with Shisou, all my swords are… no, that’s not it.” Was he rambling, or baring his heart? “Anyway, what I mean is, this sword is yours now. Since then the Sixth Ranger helps me make any tool I need anyway, so it’s fine.” He finished firmly, and pressed the hilt of that beautiful golden blade into her palm.

“I couldn’t possibly...” She protested, her words sounding half-hearted even to herself. Yes, as a [Gamer], it wasn’t that she was rejecting the idea of receiving a treasure as a result of a special event. If anything, she was greedily assessing its value because of that. No, it was because as a wife, she saw meaning and value from only using what her husband prepared for her, and didn’t want to trample, she even wanted to actively protect, those emotions. But could he, an unmarried teenager, even understand those feelings?

“It’s fine.” He announced. “This sword itself wants to pass into your hands. I… want to accept the feelings of my friends, and pass what was received, onto strangers. To pass on the help that was received from a mere stranger, onto another mere stranger.”

...Ah, how cute, looking at how he was probably blushing behind his mask as he looked down to the side, unwilling to meet her eyes even as he pushed this awkward altruism on her. She wanted to tell him that his mom should be proud of him, for helping out strangers; even as she wanted to gently scold him in a way that didn’t hurt his feelings, for not being honest about it.

“Then I will gratefully accept it.” She replied. That’s right. Even if she honestly had no intention of equipping this golden sword because it wasn’t made by her beloved husband? It was still important that she honestly, genuinely accept this boy’s kindness. Because whatever he was working through, it was important that she, as an adult, treat it as a serious thing.

“...Does it have a name?” She asked, looking down at the sword she had been gifted.

“...It’s just a knockoff, but please call it [Gram].” He replied, shifting uncomfortably.

Ah, that kind of was a chuuni name, wasn’t it?

“I gratefully accept.” She said, bowing just low enough to show her sincerity, but not so low that he would feel uncomfortable about it.

“Thank you, and take care.” He said, bowing back.

She smiled, hand tightening reflexively as her eyes trended over to where her Guild and her husband were talking, joking, decompressing after their close call.

Yes, she thought. They all really would be okay.

I I I

Chapter 17.2 End

I I I

1) This has been mostly complete since the beginning of May… ah, is there anything more “old guy” than complaining how fast time goes? Well, if you’re also an adult, go yeah, but if you’re young enough to think I’m being a fogey… good on you. Go do stuff.

...I was, uh, pretty drunk for some of the writing (of the end particularly) there, so I think I might have gone overboard, regarding melodrama. Check me on that.

2) I dunno if I’ve mentioned this before, but from Griselda’s guild, we had Griselda and Grimlock, right? And then the other named characters were Schmitt, Yulier, and Caynz. And I actually think of those three, Schmitt was the most implicitly interesting. Because while he was used in that arc as “the coward afraid of ghosts”… he was also the only one that was able to Git Gud, joining the DDA on the Front Line. Whereas Yulier and Caynz came up with this whole scheme to nail Grimlock? Meanwhile, Schmitt moved on with his life and became an elite. …Was Griselda’s guild holding him back the whole time? Like I said, interesting. Anyway, I’ve kind of preserved that here; in dialogue he mostly complains like Shaggy from the Scooby Doo crew, but he’s the only Tank, and thus mechanically he’s maybe the most irreplaceable member of the party.

3) Meanwhile, Grimlock continues to contribute basically nothing on a round-to-round basis, except when he pulls some crazy bullshit out of nowhere to save the day, LOL.

4) I feel like I gave Griselda too much internal monologue that was about her social engineering strategy, which is more a thing I do with Diabel. But I also like that, how they are cynical adults, manipulating others, but to different goals. Lemme know how you felt about that, gut-check.
 
I'm still really hoping for a moment where Grimlock just grumps at Ilya about how the Eizenburns and Kayaba completely ruined his non magus bonding time with his wife.


Well that and for Kirito to get a moment to shine in this latest dungeon, a purely Ether environment will make him OP 8)
 
Well that and for Kirito to get a moment to shine in this latest dungeon, a purely Ether environment will make him OP 8)
It's Sixth Imaginary/Demon Element. If anyone shines here, it'd be Kuradeel, and even then his is a specialized form...

But yay! Any update for this is wonderful!
 
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