Today, we find the rare update. Shhh... be very quiet, it might run away if you're too loud.... we don't know when we will be so lucky as to see the next one... so savour this moment to the max.
"No…… Don't come……! Don't get any closer……!!"
Both eyes filled with fear, the trembling voice dripped from the pretty girl, as a sturdy silhouette approached.
It could be mistaken for a scene from a suspense or horror movie, from here it was a bit like a previously deployed scenario from Hollywood…… but it deviated considerably.
"Don't come…… I told you didn't I!!"
The girl cried in a voice that was filled with anger, who dashed forward instead of backward. The big framed assailant reacted to that movement by brandishing the hammer in his clumsy hands, but faster than the trajectory of it reaching the highest point, the girl's right hand flashed like lightning.
The thrusting skill which was accompanied by a silent fighting spirit explosively peeled off the assailant's chest. A pure white glow scattered, as the speed of the hammer was somewhat weakened. Although in normal cases one would jump back to avoid the attack, the girl went in closer, and the rapier in her right hand retracted decisively for a final blow. Now the two stroke attack had pierced both the top and bottom of the bulky chest, the half naked body of the assailant shook violently.
As the head with short horns and a metallic nose ring bent backwards, an agony filled scream of death resounded. The bulky body that continued to bend backward stopped in mid air. The smooth muscle changed into hard glass and started cracking, while from the cracks blue light began emitting brightly ―― and explosively disappeared.
The rapier user, who used the one hit skill «Linear»'s two hit skill combo «Duplex», which had defeated the cow headed human bodied «Lesser Taurus Striker», stood in place to catch her breath for a while ―― Then looked up, giving a glare as she said.
"……That thing isn't a cow!"
Asuna and I were probably the first of all the players to set foot in Aincrad's second floor dungeon, and two hours had passed since then.
By now, Kibaou's or Lind's groups would probably have found an open chest and are grinding their teeth, since as the evil Black Beater I did not have a mind compromising enough to ignore the boxes that I passed. 80 percent of the location of the POP of the treasure boxes did not change from the Beta period, so I went on to open them freely from one to the next between battles, all the way until we got to the second floor, and finally encountered our first of this tower's main inhabitant, the taurus family ―― This is the case.
"……W,Well, if we were to ask whether it is a human or a cow, it full body is still eighty percent human, so……"
Having no idea how to respond to Asuna-san's fretful reasoning plainly, I scratched my head.
"But, the minotauros in a net game gives you this feeling, the minotauros type mob is definitely called a «Cow»."
"……Minotauros? As in, from Greek mythology?"
The dangerous glint in her eyes finally softened. It looks like the rapier user had a scent, although weak, of having studied the topic a little. Although i wasn't very familiar with lores and myths, my sister likes those kind of books, so i had read it often as a kid. I nodded. At this time I managed to obtain the knowledge.
"Y,Yeah. The Minotauros in the myth, in a dungeon on Crete island…… is a monster that inhibits in an actual «Labyrinth», or should I say an underground maze, and was exterminated by the hero Theseus, right? The element is in the game probably because of that, the minotaurus is a monster staple even in classic RPGs. Well, in this game I wonder why reading it in English Mino is added to «Tauros», but it is from the «Taurus type» though."
"It is appropriate. After all the Mino in Minotauros comes from King Minos"
"Eh……Then, wouldn't the abbreviation for Minotauros, «Mino» be inappropriate?"
"Of course it is, it is said that after death, King Minos became a judge of the underworld, calling them Mino would probably offend him."
With this story, it seemed that Asuna's rage had finally subsided. Seeing an opportunity, I fearfully put forth a question.
"Then, Asuna-san, the mino……I mean Taurus earlier, what didn't you like about it……?"
The rapier user glanced at me with a sideways glare and answered.
"It's because he, that…… he's wearing practically nothing! He just has some cloth wrapped around his waist, it's like sexual harassment. I really want to send it to the Black Iron Castle for breaking the Harassment code."
"…………I, I see."
It's true that the lower Taurus types were dressed a lot lighter, compared to the kobold types and goblin types that appeared on the first floor, the cow headed men were «Nearly naked Macho men». For an Ojousama from a girls school (probably), this type of appearance was certainly not acceptable.
However, when it came down to it, there was one problem. The treasure chest we opened a moment ago, contained the armor «Mighty Strap of Leather». While it gave decent defensive strength on top of a great strength bonus, it is for equipping the upper body and is fixed with «half naked leather belt coiled around various places», excluding undergarments or armor from being worn on top of it. Well, it was fine inside the dungeon, and I was going to change into it in the next safe zone―― But, after seeing Asuna's reaction it would be better not to. But it was also true that this would be a waste of a rare item. I guess it would be better to pass it to her, purely from the point of view of the party's combat ability.
"……Hey, Asuna, the box a moment ago had a strap type armor with magic effects come out, but"
In a moment, the rapier user's eyes flashed with a light three times colder than when she had slaughtered the taurus.
"Come out but what?"
"………………Uum…… this, it would suit that guy well. Ah, that's it, how about that person. The first floor boss's raid's tank group leader……"
"Agil-san? ……Well, there's no need to call that person 'sama'. Yesterday, I met him during the scouting of the «Bullbous Bow»"
While I was secretly relieved that I had narrowly avoided stepping on a landmine, I used my poker face to express surprise.
"H, Heh. But, he didn't take part in the main show just now?"
"That person,in the end, both Lind-san and Kibaou-san didn't mix well with him. Even so, because he said he would take part in the raid against the floor boss, Kirito-kun can meet him there. Couldn't you give it to him at that time?"
"T,That's right. ―― then, how do we deal with Mino…… I mean Taurus's «Numbing Impact»?"
"Mino is fine, really. I think I can handle it after seeing it two or three more times"
"I see. Although the boss's «Numbing» is a wide ranged version, the timing should be the same as the small fry Mino. That said, let's get to the next block."
At my words, Asuna nodded without showing signs of tiredness, and started to leave the room we were standing in earlier.
After defeating four more of the taurus types (Because of the mob spawn time, hunting more of them would be difficult), from its drops and the treasure chests in various locations, Asuna's and my item storage was overflowing, fortunately we didn't come across any other front line players in the dungeon.
Opening the Map Tab of the menu, the first and second floor's blank areas had nearly been completely filled. Although we could get a tidy profit if we turned it into a scroll and sold it, as the Black Beater I don't have a merchant's soul. I'll pass this information to the information seller «Argo the Rat» free of charge, closing the tab.
It's natural, Argo is an original tester like me and puts information from it in the «Strategy guide», and tomorrow it would be out in the nearest village, but it feels unreasonable because I have to buy it for 500 coll. However, according to her, the front liners have paid for the middle zone players who get the free reprinted version, so I can't really complain.
Changing the tab, I sent Argo an instant message containing the gist of the map data before closing the window, then stretched out wide while looking at the sky.
Above the dense jungle, it isn't really the sky but actually the bottom of the third floor that covers this floor. However, it seems like the outside circumference covered by a sunset with an orange glow, quite a beautiful sight as it is.
"Today is, the ninth of December……Friday. It should be winter on the other side."
Asuna who was beside me muttered, I gave it some thought before saying.
"In some net article, I read that Aincrad's floors reproduces the real world's seasons. So, perhaps if we went up higher it would be winter"
"……Stories that are happy and unhappy. Ah, but……"
Because my words were interrupted, I tilted my head and looked over. For some reason Asuna seemed both angry and embarrassed as she pouted her lips, and soon softly said.
"It's nothing, I just had a little thought. If we could reach a floor which has a season setting during Christmas, perhaps it might snow."
"……I see, that is true, we're already in December……. Christmas is…… in fifteen days. I hope this floor will be cleared by then……"
"What's with that, such weak determination. I want to leave in a week's time……No, five days. I'm sick of the cows."
"They're just cows."
Asuna looked blankly at my face that said I could patiently withstand it, and after a few seconds her cheeks became a bright red, stepped hard on my right foot with force enough to nearly cause damage to me. Facing the back of the rapier user who was walking in the direction of the nearest village, I hurriedly rushed to catch up to her.
The stone paved road through the jungle, took about twenty minutes to reach the nearest village if we avoided battle as much as possible ―― we went into the boss raid base «Talan», and I breathed out.
Although I had expected it, the village's main street was already filled with quite a number of players walking around. By mid morning the Mid-Boss «Bullbous Bull» was defeated, so the entire front of the players based in Marome Village would have moved here together. I immediately removed my black leather long coat on the spot, while hiding the upper half of my face with the usual bandanna which Asuna extremely disliked.
That girl, had removed her hooded cape during battle, but now pulled it over her eyes, similar to me. The reason for her to hide her face was almost opposite mine, so it was a little sad.
"Erm……I, have a promise to meet with that Argo here after this……"
I said in a quiet voice while walking along the side of the road, and Asuna nodded slightly within the back of her hood.
"That's good. I have something to do with her too…… Since there is another request, let's go together"
It was fine with me, but for some reason it felt that the reason for Asuna and Argo to be in the same place made me nervous. With my back secretly trembling, I nodded, in that case we should meet together at the tavern ――
Just when I was about to say that.
I could hear, a certain faint sound passing by. Although I was going to pay no attention to it, I caught it in a hurry.
It was a regularly continuous metallic sound. It wasn't the sound of a light musical instrument, the tool involved in making this tenacious sound is ――
Asuna and I looked at each other at the same time, then turned toward the source of the sound at the same time…… facing the eastern square in the village of Talan.