Chapter 3 – Frondier, the Human Sloth (3)
February 27, 2023 2 Comments
“I got it right!”
I clenched my fist at the smashed target.
It was the training room, where some people worked out their muscles, others tested their magic, and others assessed their skills.
Anyway, there was an empty room and anyone can use it freely as long as permission is given.
From the outside, people cannot see what's going on inside, so I can weave to my heart's content here and I was currently engaged in target practise, which was one of the programmes set up in the private room.
Usually, it was a facility used by people with long-rang weapons, and it involved hitting targets in the distance.
At the lowest difficulty level, the targets simply stand still, but as the difficulty increases, the target moves further away, hides, re-appears, move around randomly, and even react to projectiles and dodges them.
Ofcourse, I was humbly playing on the lowest difficulty.
For reference, the targets are magically engineered holograms, so smashing them doesn't really break them.
The sound effects and graphics are very convincing.
If you successfully hit one, it will show you the hit area and the damage done.
What I am practicing now is the throwing technique of a woven dagger.
As long as I can time it to hit the target, I can throw the weaved dagger and deal damage to the enemy.
This allows for invisible ranged attacks.
Weaving intervenes in reality for only a fraction of a second.
It only appears briefly for a slash, a parry, or a thrust.
This halves the power of weave in melee combat, because even blocking an opponent's attack is a split second.
If I don't spill or deflect the trajectory in time, the enemy's sword will pierce my weapon or shield and cut through me.
This is true whether the weapon is a shield or a sword.
If I'm holding a shield, I must parry my opponent's attacks like a game at all times, and if I'm holding a sword, I must either evade or deflect every attack.
I don't want to do close combat with that crazy difficulty level.
So if I can take them down just by attacking them from a distance with a bow, dagger, or whatever, that would be the best.
But there's one fatal flaw with this tactic.
“……It doesn't fit well.”
Me, the game junkie, and Frondier, who always slept – it was a pair of shitty senses that created a shudder-inducing synergy.
Still, if I grit my teeth and hit at least once out of ten, or twenty.
[A skill has been created]
[Created Skill: Throwing]
– Grade: Normal
– Description: Throw an object to hit a target.
The higher the proficieny, the more accurate the aim will be.
– Current Proficiency: Lowest.
I gained a skill.
It was not much, but since I and Frondier cannot count on our combat talent, I’ll have to rely on the skills.
For your information, the Lowest grade in Throwing can be obtained by a child of around 10 years old if he works hard enough.
……come on, you can do it!
━━━━━━ ⊙ ━━━━━━
It was a moonlit evening.
After I finished practicing and left the training room, I stood still at the entrance and watched the time go by.
There was something I needed to check.
Because I was so distracted upon entering this game, no, I was already in a state of confusion even before entering, no, I was a distracted human being in the first place.
I forgot something for a while because I had a hectic day.
I didn't think about it at first.
But then a thought occurred to me, and it grew out of control.
I have to confirm that today.
And I was waiting for someone right now.
I was waiting in the training room, because I knew he must be here.
I checked the date on my smartwatch, and it must be today.
The time was about to come.
The automatic door to the training room slowly opened.
I glanced at the man who stepped out.
Blond hair that reflects the moonlight perfectly, blue eyes that shine brightly, and facial features so neat as if they were made that way.
Anyone looking at him would realize that the air around them changed.
── Aster Evans.
A first-year student at Constell, and the hope of humanity that will shine brightly in the future – and the protagonist of the game, Etius.
Aster looked at me and nodded slightly.
It's probably the first time we've ever met.
……Even if it's not, he probably doesn't even remember me.
I bowed my head in greeting.
There was no point in raising suspicion unnecessarily.
I wasn’t waiting to talk to him in the first place; I was waiting to 'see' him.
Aster looked at me for a moment, then continued on his way.
A fork in the road was a short walk away – left road was toward the library while the right one was toward the dorms.
I watched his back quietly as his steps reached the crossroads and he…
──turned to the right.
Confirming it, I lowered my gaze in despair.
I knew with certainty that this game was going to be a lot harder than I thought.
Aster Evans, as I said before, was the protagonist of Etius.
When I say protagonist, I mean, of course, the character you play as a player.
……So, in other words,
Aster Evans, who was not played by the player, was unknown to anyone.
Today, on this date, there was an event.
When Aster heads to the library, he meets with the librarian and learns some information from her.
It's not the information that matters; it's the unique nature of the encounter that creates a connection with the librarian, often called building rapport or raising the level of liking.
The librarian then goes on to help him in a variety of ways, so it's no wonder that players will head to the library.
………I know of an event where you must meet a librarian at the library.
I know things that Aster Evans would never know, because I am a player.
Etius was a game that no one has ever cleared and those who challenged it have naturally pushed Aster to take the most beneficial route.
……There's no way the current Aster Evans would take that route.
Etius is a game that no one has ever broken.
It was an optimized route that's been paved over by many people sharing information and countless iterations.
Aster, who doesn't know anything, can't get there even if five miracles happen.
I've played as Aster more times than I can count.
I don't know anything about Aster.
Aster Evans, the unplayable Aster, and I have no idea where he's headed.
“I can't help it.”
My initial plan was to simply improve myself and become Aster's companion.
While Aster would grow up on his own, I would learn my own ways and become a supplement to his power.
Since Frondier wasn't originally part of Aster's alliance, the addition of a stronger me would be a win-win in simple math.
I thought so, but plans changed.
Aster here ‘doesn't grow on his own’ as well as I thought he would.
He doesn't take the route of the veterans.
Right now, it was just a trivial thing to miss out on the librarian's information, but in the future he'll miss out on all the experience, various weapons, and artifacts that will add to his abilities.
While no one has ever been successful in clearing this game, I can't imagine doing it without Aster.
So what I need to do now is subtly lure him in.
To get him to take the route of the veterans.
I can't get everything.
It's okay to skip some characters that only help you get information, like the librarian.
I know most of the information anyway.
But the essential events must go through.
It's going to be a lot more work since I'm not going to be the one doing the moving.
But I have to do it anyway, and make Aster stronger.
And make myself stronger at the same time.
Oh, and I'm supposed to be in the top 10 of my class this year.
I'll do that too.
Oh, and Aster just skipped over the librarian event.
“……I will do that too.”
All the things Aster will miss in the future.
I have no choice but to pick them up.
━━━━━━ ⊙ ━━━━━━
I pushed open the door to the library.
There weren't many people inside, and the air was quiet and relaxed, befitting the place.
The few students who caught sight of my face widened their eyes in surprise and avoided me.
Frontier and library was an odd pairing.
In fact, there was no other place in Constell that matched Frondier.
It was an educational institution that exists to improve skills and build culture, not a place for Frondier who doesn't want to do anything.
I looked around quickly and found the librarian.
She was quietly working at her desk.
Brown hair, round glasses, and a plain face.
A glamorous body in contrast, and a tear under her left eye.
When you first see her face, you might think she's a librarian, but when you see her body and her sometimesbewitching expression, you'll be surprised.
Librarian, Teacher Ainen.
If you get acquainted with this teacher, you will be able to obtain the most recent news and other information coming into the school.
This may not seem like much, but as a beginner in this game, every bit of information is valuable because the game is already full of cruelty and absurdity.
……well, for a beginner, that is.
In fact, she's actually more important to Aster than me.
But since Aster missed this event, I can't just ignore it.
'Even if I come, the event won't start.'
Now that it’s like this, I'm going to pick up all the information Aster leaked.
If I get a chance, I'll be able to share it with Aster appropriately.
Now, what do I do?
My reputation was well known among the teachers.
Ainen probably knows about Frondier too, which means I'll have to get to know her with a negative likability rating from the start.
“You're Frondier, right?”
But Ainen spoke first.
She looked at my face and gestured me to come over.
I walk over, not knowing what to say.
“I didn't know you'd come to this place.
What are you doing here?”
“There's a book I want to find …….”
There was no such thing.
But I couldn't just say, ‘You're the one I'm looking for’ out loud.
Would you like to see this?”
Ainen pulled something out from under her desk.
It was a newspaper.
I was tempted to ask her what she wanted me to look at, but as soon as I saw the newspaper, I knew.
The headline on the front page caught my eye.
[A party that discovered the divine object.
The location is a dungeon near the Solgitov estate?]
Accompanying the headline was a photograph and it showed a single twig in a transparent coffin.
A twig, the shape of which I recognized.
“Everyone called it a 'mistiltein'.”
When I first entered the world of Etius.
The branch that one of the teacher had shown me in the WeezerView.
It looked exactly like that.
“You, I heard you told Jane that this wasn’t Mistiltein?”
So the teacher's name was Jane.
I nodded, holding still.
Ainen asked quietly, as if testing me.
“What do you think? It'll be in the papers, and soon on WeezerView.
Everyone who sees it will say it's a Mistiltein, and the empire will be buzzing with the news of a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.”
It would be.
Any object used by a God, no matter how trivial, was worth a great deal.
And Mistiltein was no small thing.
Baldur, the ‘perfect god’ of Norse mythology.
The mistletoe twig that killed him was Mistiltein.
Its value cannot be measured in money, and it was one of the few things that could compete with other Gods.
Someone found a mistiltein that looked like the image everyone knew,
and I had said, ‘Mistiltein does not look like that’ before in the class.
In other words, Ainen was asking me now – now that the situation has come to this, will I still stick to my opinion? Can I say again that what I said wasn't just bravado or bullshit?
Between Ainen's smiling face, I saw a faint hint of mischief.
She was probably expecting me to back down, or to evade, deny, or stutter.
Either way, she was expecting me to be flustered.
“My opinion hasn't changed.”
Ainen's smile faded at my terse words.
“Mistiltein does not look like that.”
Of course I know what istiltein looks like, and the identity of the ‘fake istiltein’ in the transparent coffin in that newspaper.
'……But I can use that.'
I've been thinking about how to approach Aster naturally.
Hopefully I can work it out with that one.
If there's a news story about that, that's what he's going to be most interested in.
Aster's divine power.
Because the target is right there.
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