Breaking the hiatus because it is Christmas.
Lightly edited for now.
Side Note: Just as a refresher, I added Cloche’s concept art to the Character’s Page previously. Her speech somewhat blunt, and she almost never uses honorifics (Aran uses -san for everyone except Cloche)
Volume 4: Aran, On The Job!
Chapter 31: Pride of the Top Ranks
Once upon a time, the Murau Caverns attracted all sorts of Players to its shores. It was a so-called「Location suited to raising your Level」.
The Dungeon that was housed on this solitary island possessed a large and intricate structure. Since the respawn interval for Sahuagin was very short, it allowed for several Parties to go on hunts at the same time.
Furthermore, within the dungeon were harvestable materials that could be sold at the Auction House for fairly high profit such as「Barite」and「Chromite」. Being a place where you could raise your level and earn money simultaneously, the Murau Caverns was a popular hunting ground amongst players.
However, in current times there are few players who visit the Murau Caverns.
Fearing that the hunting grounds would become fixated in one location, the administrators have since added a number of similar level hunting grounds at other locations. And so, with each new game update, there are fewer and fewer players who come to the Murau Caverns due to it being difficult to access.
「The filming staff appear to be at a safe area inside」
At the entrance of the Murau Caverns.
A cold chill spewed forth from the darkness that enveloped the Dungeon. As the muffled moans of what could only be thought of as Sahuagin continued to resound in the distance, Igarashi was using the mail function to communicate with the film staff who were now trapped.
「Do you know their general location?」
「They said that the safe area is located about 2, 3 marks from the entrance but…… I don’t really understand it」
「I believe that they were referring to the coordinates displayed on the MAP」
「Coordinates?…… Oh, then according to the MAP they should be around『C-2』」
「C-2…… This is pretty far inside」
Seemingly interjecting between Igarashi and Aran’s conversation, Cloche spoke a soft soliloquy.
The Murau Caverns is a dungeon where the deeper inside you travel the more dangerous it becomes.
The things you have to be particularly cautious about, are the 「Sahuagin Hammerheads」 that are able to cast mid to high tier magics, and the Leaders of Sahuagin Schools. Lastly there is the Mob that has a much larger size compared to other Sahuagin: the extremely dangerous「White Sahuagin」.
Although they would not pose much of a threat to either Aran or Cloche, they are all frightening Mobs that could effortlessly wipe out the film crew if they were to encounter them.
「But, if they are that deep inside, then it might be better to just cut our way through」
「To cut through…… You mean the dungeon?」
As Cloche continued to speak her thoughts, Aran was doubtful about what he had just heard.
「That won’t work. In the depths of the dungeon are White Sahuagin. Of we come across any of those then it will become problematic」
「…… Sorry, I didn’t phrase it properly. Even if I said to “cut through”, I didn’t mean for us to head towards the exit on the other side. We would be headed for『Triton’s Cove』」
The destination that Cloche had set, was a small inlet within the eastern region of the Murau Caverns.
In the center of the island was a small cove, the king governing over the Plage Archipelago region tried to summon the Goddess of the Ocean, Triton, at this place, and what was left was the beautiful「Triton’s Cove」
Incidentally, the reason why the king tried to call forth the Ocean Goddess Triton was in order to subjugate the swarms of Sahuagin that rampaged across these small islands; such a backstory was also incorporated into a Sub-Quest for players to enjoy.
「Rather than heading to C-2 where the staff is and returning here, it would be better to head for the Cove that is nearby where the danger level is low」
「Oh I get it, when we’re in the Cove we can use Fast Travel to escape. Clo-chan is so smart~」
「Triton’s Cove」 was an area enclosed by large rock precipices so that there was no other exit. However, despite being located squarely in the center of the island, the Cove was not considered a part of the dungeon. Because it was recognized as a separate area, it was possible to use Fast Travel there.
「Yeah, it seems like a good idea. Right, Aran?」
Igarashi chimed in from behind us.
What Cloche said was true, by heading towards the Cove we can avoid the neighboring White Sahuagin, and even though the Sahuagin in the Murau Limestone Caverns have a short respawn time, we wouldn’t have to worry about being attacked on the return journey.
It is such a great idea that it gets on my nerves a bit.
「……Fine, let’s go with that plan. I’ll leave being the Main Attacker to you, Cloche. I’ll deal with any Sahuagin that come after you while you are chanting. Just relax and concentrate on your incantations」
「As for Igarashi-san and Nobu-san…… Just stand quietly behind me and Cloche」
「I bought tons of healing potions before we left Gran Horts. You can leave the Healer duty to me and Iga-chan」(Nobu)
Even though they were about to enter a high level dungeon, Nobu showed no signs of nervousness. One could say he was brimming with confidence.
Although Igarashi and Nobu’s avatars were created solely for the purposes of photoshoots and online meetings, they naturally had establishes Classes. Nobu was a Fighter Class and Igarashi was a Monk Class.
In other words, their current party lacked a Cleric, so they couldn’t expect to receive any healing magic.
I might be alright with the current situation, but since Cloche is a Wizard she will take quite a lot of damage if any attacks get through, so having someone on healing duty would be greatly appreciated, especially for Cloche.
After that, as long as we make sure that Nobu-san and Igarashi-san don’t generate too much Aggro then there shouldn’t be any problems.
「Okay then, let head out」
Cloche gave a small nod in response to my words, and she took the lead as our party set foot into the dungeon.
Our first objective is to reach the coordinates C-2.
The place where the film crew is located, the Safe Zone.
Although they were all described with the same word “Dungeon”, there were a large variety of dungeon types in Dragon’s Krone.
The most orthodox of those types, was the classic labyrinth that were naturally formed; the so-called “cave type” dungeon, with the Murau Limestone Caverns being among them.
Aside from the cave types there are also dungeons created by human hands, such as Mines and Subterranean Tunnels. Additionally there were various types of man-made buildings such as abandoned castles and fortresses, among other things such as underground prisons.
Because of the wide variety of dungeons in Dragon’s Krone, it was necessary to do research beforehand and find out which type of dungeon you would be facing.
Depending on how well players prepared, the clear times would vary greatly, and if they did a poor job preparing then their party might even fall into a perilous situation.
And, the most crucial thing that you must prepare── is a Light Source.
In other words, a Lantern or a Torch.
In naturally formed cave-type dungeons there wasn’t anything to light the way; their contents were shrouded in darkness.
But for other man-made dungeons, as remnants of their previous inhabitants, every so often there would be a torch for you to light. If you had the item【Tinders】 or if you used fire type magic then your light source would be secured.
「To think that if you have a Wizard in your party then you don’t even need a torch, I had totally no idea~」
The Murau limestone cave was filled with extremely humid and stagnant air. Leading the way was Cloche, and behind her Nobu as voicing his admiration.
Cloche was not holding a torch in her hand but, with herself as the focal point, the surroundings were illuminated by a pale blue light.
The source of this light sat above Cloche’s shoulder; a bluish ball of light──
It was the magic spell【Bright】, which called forth an orb of light that would float on the air for a set amount of time.
「【Bright】 is a spell that can be used as a substitute torch, but its effectiveness is worse than a torch or lantern, and it still has the same demerits. If you wish to understand your surroundings more clearly then it is better to use a torch or a lantern」
「Demerits? What demerits?」
「Although having a light source is necessary to explore a dungeon, they have the demerit of drawing Mobs to you. If you want to avoid fighting against Mobs then you should put out the lights before you proceeding further」
Igarashi asked a question as he continued to stare straight ahead, and Cloche answered him in turn.
And as Cloche had said, although carrying a lightsource was necessary for cave-type dungeons, in exchange the chances of running into Mobs increases dramatically. This meant that, compared to other dungeons, the cave-type ones are several degrees higher in difficulty.
「I see…… You really give off the vibe of being a reliable leader huh, Cloche」(Igarashi)
Then, Igarashi turned to Aran who was following the farthest behind Cloche and spoke softly into his ear.
「You could say it’s due to our party, or perhaps this much is to be expected from a high-caliber player. On top of that she’s very cute. Really now, I can see why she’s so popular.」
A grin surfaced on Igarashi’s face as he looked over to Aran.
It was the sly expression of someone up to no good.
But Aran swiftly brushed aside Igarashi’s scheming gaze.
「…… Even if you say that, it is pointless, Igarashi-san. Right now, I have no intentions of competing against Cloche」
「Ah, so I was found out?」
「It was plain as day」
Since our originally planned photoshoot might fall through, Igarashi-san has been recording me and Cloche playing to make up for it. But, so far there hasn’t been anything highlight worthy.
‘Cloche is leading the way, and since she’s so familiar with the Murau limestone caverns we will likely meet up with the film staff in no time’, is probably what Igarashi-san is thinking, but if that was true then his recording would just become an ordinary video without any big climax.
And if that were to happen, this his video would be worth nothing.
So because of that, in order to make his video a little more exciting, Igarashi-san was trying to light a fire under me huh.
「Our objective is to meet up with the film crew, and then escape the Murau caverns. After that, we will be filming at the beach. If we’re able to do all then everything will be fine」
「No well, but…… Honestly speaking, this entire time the spotlight has been focused on Cloche, you know?」
Upon hearing those words, Aran’s expression slowly shifted into a stern one.
「What do you mean by that?」
「It’s exactly as it sounds. If everything were to conclude right now, then the viewers watching this video would say 『Cloche is a much better player than Aran』. Something like that.」
A clear crevice appeared on Aran’s forehead.
Hey hey, wait a minute.
Are you trying to say that the video will make it look like Cloche is a harder worker than me?
Me, the 1st ranked Player? Compared to the 2nd ranked Cloche?
「She took leadership of the party and devised a precise and accurate strategy. Yup~, I wonder just how many more fans Cloche will get from this. As the leader of DICE’s advertising department it really puts me in a pickle huh~」
“Oh noo~”, Igarashi pretended to be at his wit’s end.
While listening to his words, Aran stay silent, all the while grinding his molars.
However, Igarashi could easily tell what kind of thoughts were swirling around inside Aran’s mind.
Enveloping Aran was an atmosphere akin to growing frustration.
But, in that moment.
「……Hey, be careful. Enemies up ahead」
Standing at the vanguard, Cloche issued a warning.
At the same time, a number of shadows began to move in front of her.
In terms of size, they were about as tall as an average high-schooler. They were without a doubt the half-fish Mob, Sahuagin.
「…… Cloche, step aside」
Right when Cloche stepped forward to begin chanting, without a single moment’s notice, a person spoke up. It was the person who was supposed to be devoted to the Supporting Role, it was Aran.
Without making a sound, he used one hand to draw his sword ,「Ame no Habakiri」, and took a stance. Suddenly, he activated 【Ground Rush】.
The wet earth burst into the air.
In the blink of an eye the surrounding Sahuagin were assaulted by a silver shadow.
The shadow moved faster than they could react, an incredibly short amount of time had passed. The blade had struck their scales, and the Sahuagin’s corpses fell down lifelessly.
A powerful combo from the【Middle Stance】 tree, chaining together【Assault Slash】into【Heaven’s Blade】──
And just like that, the only thing left in the wake of Aran’s blade, were Sahuagin corpse.
「Way to go, Aran-chan……」
Watching Aran quite literally instant kill several Sahuagin at once, Igarashi and Nobu voiced their astonishment.
They saw it only a few moments, but it was something unforgettable. They had seen a small glimpse at Aran’s overpowering strength.
But, there was one person who was not amused. Standing there in confusion as she stared at Aran’s back, was Cloche
「……What is the meaning of this, Aran? Wasn’t I suppose to be the Main Attacker?」
Cloche would focus on chanting, and Aran would take care of the Mobs that targeted her.
That was the plan that they should had established earlier. But…
「…… I’m sorry, Cloche」
Seemingly ignoring Cloche’s question, Aran spoke in a calm voice.
「I will be the one to slay all the Sahuagin」
Turning around, Aran shot a gaze over to Cloche.
Reflected in his eyes was, The Pride of the Top Ranked Player──
Those eyes showed that Aran was clearly switched into a different「Mode」. Those eyes switch into that of a Hunter’s.
TL note: Ame no habakiri is a legendary sword used by Susanoo to slay Orochi. It’s also the sword/relic used by Tsubasa in symphogear. Translated as “Snake-Slayer”.