Happy Valentine's day!
It's actually just over where I am.
I have no life, so I can do stuff like this today! (unfortunately, this is not true, I have been very busy lately. I can only guarantee one more chapter for the time being, in the foreseeable future)
Rondo of the Transient Sword: Part 19
"Fuu~n," said Argo.
"Its not what you think," I said.
If we were to expand the words each of us omitted, it would be like this.
――Fuu~n. The original beta tester Kirito and solo Asuna has joined forces. I wonder how much this information is worth.
――It's not what you think. It so happened that she and I are just temporarily accompanying each other, we're not planning on being a combination.
However, the fact that I was together with her did not change. Furthermore, we were together since we met at Ulbas eastern square in the afternoon yesterday, so we should be approaching the twenty seventh hour mark.
This wasn't odd enough to be suspicious ―― although that should be the case, I had my own standards that greatly differentiated the simple «Two-people party» and a «Combi». A party is what happens when you organise yourselves, disbanding at the end of a battle, while a combination requires us to fine-tuning ourselves to each other first. More precisely, it requires rearranging the equipment and skillset so that the partner's weaknesses should be compensated and advantages should be complemented, not just fighting the same mob on your own (like yesterday's challenge between Asuna and I against the bees), but using the two people's sword skills combo to defeat a tough mob class that is difficult to beat on your own.
I believe that, while up to that point, Asuna and I have been in a group for a since we first met, we probably have yet to achieve the point we can be called a combi with that meaning. Even taking aside the fact that I was a beater, the rapier user embraced the strength of her sword skills, so I don't think she was willing to change her current, well-honed style just to prioritise co-operating with me.
―― as I couldn't think of an excuse at a moment's notice after introduction, I sat down facing Argo and feigned innocence, and ordered a black ale after the temporary party member beside me sat. Asuna followed suit, ordering cider soda, the NPC waiter retreated for a moment, and in ten seconds the drinks arrived. The creator had probably thought it would probably have been a waste of the clerk if they used a system where the glasses had just appeared on the table. Well, at the very least, NPC's are not paid labour anyway.
As Asuna and I were holding a glass each, Argo raised her own cup in front of her and prompted me with her gaze. Reluctantly coughing, I said.
"Well then…… for reaching the second floor's dungeon, Cheers!"
Despite the difference in mood, half the jug was emptied in that moment in response to the call for now. This beer (It's called ale here,but there is no difference) tastes like the carbonated bitter and sour evening drink my mother prepared in the real world, but it was weird that it tasted good after a day of running around in the field and dungeon. Then again, even for players aged twenty and above, there was sake that won't get them drunk no matter how much they drank! That was how it seemed.
Coming from that point of view, the person sitting opposite me with a gulping down golden foamed liquid in a shot,went "Puwaaa~!" Although the information dealer said teenagers should not seek for alcohol in Sake, I don't know about this guy. Three lines permanently painted across her cheeks surrounded by golden brown hair, I felt her age could not be told based on how she looked.
That Argo, vigorously returned her emptied jug to the table, and immediately requested a second helping.
"It's been five days since the opening of the dungeon, huh. That's really fast."
"Well, don't compare it to the first floor. While we were down there, players were probably ten times higher than the required level. When we cleared the second level we were probably at 7 or 8, right?"
"Well……maths-wise that's true. However, that story is only regarding the possiblity of clearing.""
At these words, while Argo brought the second cup of ale to her mouth, Asuna, unlike her usual self, nonchalantly asked me a question.
"During the beta test, how many times did you challenge the second floor boss before beating it?"
"mm……well, in our first fights, of the ten fights I joined we were all wiped out……. Well, I guess it was because we challenged it early, at level 5."
To take the LA Bonus. Of course, this words did not come out of my mouth.
"If I recall correctly, when it was defeated, the average level of the raid was greater than 7."
"Fuuuun……. ―― The current raid teams are on average 10 now."
At Asuna's question, I glanced quickly at the values displayed beside the party's HP gauge. Thanks to hunting down Mino- no, Taurus in the labyrinth, my level had increased by 1, to 14. Asuna had achieved 12 too. The leaders in the raid, Lind's and Kibaou's groups is expected to be at this level as well ――
"……aah, It's probably exceeded 10. The numbers show that the status is safe here, but…… It's well known that the small fry mob cannot compare to the Floor Boss"
Although it felt as though it was a long time ago, the raid group's average levels were higher than the average during beta when raiding the first floor's boss «Illfang the Cobold Lord». In fact, the leader of the acting leader of the raid, the Knight Diavel achieved level 12, similar to me who went solo.
Even so, the continuous strikes of the Kobold King's Katana Skills caused Diavel's HP to be thoroughly whittled down to a critical condition. In other words, the superficial «Safety Zone» had no meaning against the current boss's firepower.
In the moment of silence Asuna and I looked at each other, the second cup from the 70% full jug was emptied by Argo, before she gave the finishing strike.
"In addition to that, to fight the second floor's boss strengthening equipment is more important than leveeels"
I gave a nod while sighing. The boss's exclusive «Numbing Detonation» sword skill main purpose was not damage. Therefore, it could not be covered by the amount of HP. The weapon's and armor's enhancement bonus was needed as it increased the resistance to debuffs.
The weird information regarding this was obviously, by the information broker before my eyes, going to be published it in the raid strategy guide, making it common knowledge. The front-line groups of the raid will strive hard to improve their equipment, so stores like the recently-moved-to-this-town Nezuha the Blacksmith's Smithy would prosper……
When I thought up to that point, I subconsciously let out that sound.
The reason Nezuha moved from Taran to Ulbus, was probably not to let the situation cool down…… Was it because he had anticipated the front line players' demand from the start? Disregarding his credibility as a blacksmith, he could continue his rare strengthening weapon scam here…… and as a result, the «Legend Braves» could reach top guilds like Lind's group and Kibaou's group, and as for the Blacksmith Nezuha――――
Rubbing off the light chill which crawled up my upper arm, I opened my window on the table.
"Firstly, this is the Labyrinth's first and second floor's map data."
Quickly objectifying the small scroll, I placed it in front of Argo. The information broker picked it up, and made it disappear with a sleight of her hand then said.
"Sorry for the trouble as always, Ki-Bou. Like I said earlier, if there is any particular piece of information you want……"
"Nah…… I won't be trading anything for the map data. The death of the players who did not buy the map would be on my conscience…… However, for this case, I would like to request a condition."
"Hmm? Well, tell everything to onee-san?"
Directing a coquettish glance at me, some sort of wave seemed to be generated by Asuna who was beside me, and I replied while remaining in her line of sight, which seemed scary for some reason.
"Argo should already know this, but……"
Here, I reduced my volume, and checked around the interior of the tavern once more. I was checking because there was a narrow alley behind the store, but there were no other players about.
"……I want information regarding the team taking part in the raid to defeat the «Bullbous Bow» this morning, the «Legend Braves». The names of all the members, when they were formed."
"Fum. ……What is the condition?"
"I don't want anyone to know that I'm looking for their information. Especially not the targets themselves."
The information broker «Argo the Rat» was scary to deal with, as the rule of client confidentiality was non-existent, with her motto of «The name of the client is also part of the business tale». Which was why, under normal conditions I could not attempt to buy information regarding the «Legend Braves» from Argo secretly. Following her own rules, even the guys from the Braves would definitely be asked, 'Are you interested in buying the name of the person who wants your information?'. Of course, I could still hide my name as they needed to pay an amount higher than the one I paid for her silence, but the knowledge of «Someone is trying to look up information on the Braves» would still definitely have come up. At present, that was a situation I wanted to avoid.
In other words, My condition was that I wanted to dig up information on the braves, without them knowing about it ―― That was all. My request explicitly violated Argo's motto.
The information broker looked troubled as she tugged on her forelock with her fingers while thinking it over, then said, "Well, I guess it's fine." In that moment of my relief, she grinned as she continued.
"But, please remember this. Onee-san regards her emotional feelings to Ki-bou to have priority over the rules of business."
Suddenly, a raging feeling could be felt from my right shoulder once again. Her eyes moved away from my stiff body, while maintained her grin, she calmly said.
"So, What does A-Chan want from me?"