And is that some sort of cliffhanger at the end?
Spoiler: Nezuha is actually Nezha?
But fret not, I will continue translating :P, maybe until Yen press publishes the first volume of progressive.
Author's notes in the middle (or Middle Notes(?)) is also at the end of this post.
Translated by me and touch-up by Pryun :)
Rondo of the Transient Sword: Part 22
I can’t really say that I’m completely unrelated to the Weapon Strengthening Fraud, but neither can I say that I was affected by this in any way, as I never handed my weapon to Blacksmith Nezuha.
But, those thoughts are really short-sighted.
33 days ago, the first day of our imprisonment in this floating castle, I abandoned my first and only friend, cutlass-user Klein, at the Starting City, and left the city alone. This was to move away from the surrounding area with depleted resources, and move to the next city area, Hornca. In other words, using the fastest and most efficient means to strengthen my equipment and character status to increase my possibility of survival――
Flexibly using my knowledge during the beta test, I continuously advanced forward, by clearing large amounts of quests, and hunting down large amounts of mobs. In other words, I have begun the start dash. Even now I never thought about slowing down.
However, the speed of strengthening, still follows the game rules(yes, there are morals in the game, but it's hard to describe verbally). On the other hand, if I ignore the rules, as a «beater» myself I could level up much faster. For example, indefinitely occupying favourable mob spawning areas ―― seizing rare weapons from other players, et cetera.
Of course, weapon fraud could only bring money or the weapon itself ― exp and skill points would not increase at all. But, as Asuna said, as long as there is enough Cor, equipment strengthening would not be a problem at all.
My main weapon is currently at +6, but my armour are only at an average of +3 as they haven't been strengthened. Under this situation, if I battled with a lower levelled opponent who had fully strengthened weapons and armour ―― I would probably...no, I would definitely have no chance of winning at all.
Which means, if I sit by and let the «Legend Braves» Strengthening Fraud continue, it would be the same as allowing the creation of player guilds that are stronger than me and that do not conform to rules or morals……
"....Sorry, I have just realised how serious the matter is."
The rapier user frowned at my words, astonished.
"But why 'Sorry'?"
"No, I mean, haven't I got Asuna's sword back once? Even so, I still thought this was not in my backyard….until now…"
Those words came out of my mouth half naturally. After Asuna heard it, she frowned even more, blinked a few times, suddenly turned her head, and said quickly,
"Ah, but you don't really have to apologize. You and I aren't some stranger or something…..umm nope, we are actually not only acquainted but also party members so don't say things like that which makes me feel like a stranger…..Aaah don't say such strange things that I can't make sense of!"
Shouldn't "can't make sense" be my line instead? Before I came up with a way of replying, Asuna, who was looking outside the window, squinted her eyes,
"Can stop the items' durability from decreasing, right?"
Those words shifted my focus to East Square of Taran once again. Nezuha, at the northeastern corner, who has finished packing up his shop items, is now operating the pop-up menu of «Vendor's Carpet». It is then rolled up from the side, and the countless objects on the carpet were swallowed into separate storage slots.
"See...couldn't he use this function for the switching of the weapons?"
As I listened to the low whisper, I shook my head.
"No, that would be impossible. The carpet's storing ability isn't selective as if from a menu, like what Nezuha is doing now. Upon calling it, everything resting on it will be devoured. Either extracting or storing a sword on its own……it's impossible…………"
Upon saying that, my mouth stopped by itself.
It is impossible to use the Vendor's Carpet's storing ability to secretly switch.
However, in that case, their own storage……in other words using the Menu Window's Item section tab……?
With that, I rolled away from the window, and knelt on the floor.
"W-What are you doing?"
I did not answer Asuna, but gestured my right hand and opened up the window, then switched to my inventory page. After that, just like yesterday when I showed Asuna her Equipment Figure, I clicked and held the window, and moved it to a position as if it was going to touch the floor...a position right below my left hand when it hangs down naturally.
Finally, I took off my Anneal Blade from my back along with its scabbard, squatted, and hung it from my left hand. Although there was no foldable chair, my posture now is almost a replica of that of Nezuha's when he was preparing to strengthen a sword he had received.
Here, Asuna seems to have understood my intention, as she took a sharp breath. I looked up at her face, and said in a low voice:
"Observe carefully, and get the timing."
"Here I go……three, two, one, zero!"
At the same time as the shout, the sword in my left hand dropped into the window below. The moment the sword touched the window, it turned into particles of light and disappeared, becoming rows of letters in the storage. Immediately I tapped on the item name, and selected objectify from the menu that popped up.The objectified sword, once again accompanied by a light effect, was held in my left hand.
"How is it!?"
I looked up into the rapier user's widely open eye. The hazel coloured eyes blinked and focused onto my left hand...and she shook her head.
"The phenomenon looks similar. But…...It's too slow, and that really makes a difference. It took more than one second from the disappearance to the reappearance of the sword."
"Hmmm...with some practice the manipulation speed should improve…"
"There are other differences. Weren't there blazing light effects when it went inside the window, and when it objectified again? No matter how one tries to blend it in with the flash from the strengthening materials, it's impossible to miss those light effects. Moreover, they occurred twice!"
Sighing, I clicked the window near the ground and closed it. Then I stood up and put my sword onto the attaching point on my back.
"...thought that's really a good idea...hiding the window above the carpet into the wares…"
"Isn't that impossible as well? Won't all of the goods be stored inside if you place the window in storage mode above them?"
Of course. Instead of saying that I nodded my head and looked out the window again.
Nezuha carried the rolled-up carpet onto his shoulder, and left the square. The figure of him bearing a great weight on his right shoulder, deeply hunching and plodding forward, does not look like a scammer who just fished out a trophy like the «Stout Brand» at all.
"...Seems like if we can't uncover his trick of defrauding, there is no other choice but to explain it all to Shivata-san now…"
"If the sword was returned to the owner, it will also prove the existence of the fraud. But in that case, all the responsibility might be taken by Nezuha alone, and we will not be able to pursue the 5 members of the Braves. Of course, what Nezuha did is evil. But...how do I put it in words….I also…"
I was stuck for words. Asuna gazed at me all the while, and for a moment, I felt warmth from her the eyes that glowed intensely.
"....it can't be imagined at all, that this Strengthening Fraud was the idea of Nezuha-san. …Right?"
That was, in my heart, precisely what I wanted to say. Amazed, I opened my eyes wide. Asuna moved her focus away from me, and leaned against the wall. She looked up at the dark, empty room's ceiling, before slowly continuing,
"Do you remember? Yesterday, when I was going to strengthen my Wind Fleuret, that person said thus, 'Would you like to buy anything? Or would you like maintenance to be carried out?' It's like……he doesn't want to do strengthening at all…"
"...Oh, oh yeah...that's why he appeared to be quite troubled when you asked him to strengthen…"
"For me, I would feel better if the members of the «Legend Braves» arrive to protect Nezuha-san, claiming 'Those are just rumours', when the fraud in-line with Shivata is revealed. But...say, if instead, the Braves abandoned Nezuha-san, and pushed all the blame to him…"
The worst case will be, all the anger from the front line players are focused on Nezuha, and something like an «execution» will probably happen. Actually, the probability will never be low. Because——
"...After all, all five members in combat positions have the names of legendary braves or heroes, but they didn't allow Nezuha, who holds a position in production, to have such a name…"
As if Asuna remembered something, she raised her finger unexpectedly.
"I was already a little curious about it, when I heard the names of members of «Legend Braves» from you. Nezuha…the name N-e-z-h-a...could it be…"
At that moment, a purple icon started blinking on the right side of my vision. I interrupted Asuna's words with "Sorry", clicked on the mail icon, and opened up the instant message. The sender was——Information broker, Argo the Rat.
[Urgent, first message]
Underneath that, the information I requested on the «Legend Braves» members was listed out. Name and level, rough information regarding the character build, although those were the only information included, Argo was truly skilled to have gathered it in such a short timeframe.
After setting the window's mode to "visible to all", I called Asuna over to read the message with me. At the top was the name of the leader, Orlando. Level 11, shield user, moderately armoured Single Hand Longsword user.
Listed after these data, the origin of the name was also noted in one sentence. Just as I had vaguely recalled, his name was derived from the story of «The Twelve Braves of Charlemagne», but Orlando was the Italian version of the name, while Roland was French.
"...This Argo...where did she get all those information…"
I said, smiling wryly. Asuna also smiled faintly and replied,
"I'm sure she had some history maniac to assist her...hmm...I thought Beowulf had an English origin, but it's actually from Denmark… Cuchulain...seems to match a Celtic myth…"
Slowly and unknowingly, we skipped the character data and focused more on the origin of the character's name. We softly breathed out after we finally reached the name Nezuha at the end of the message.
Though he was at level 10, which could be considered quite a high level, his experience points were mostly obtained from the creation of items as a producer-type player. However, as combat skill points could not be increased, he couldn't fight on the frontline. Character build, of course, was also of a blacksmith type. And at the end, was the origin of the name…
Asuna and I exclaimed at almost the same moment. Written there, was a completely unexpected paragraph of text.
"...Which means...the pronunciation...is completely different…?"
"B...But, didn't those guys from the Braves call him 'Nezuo'…..!?"
We looked at each other, and then glanced at the message window once again. If the information presented in the etymology section that is much longer than that of the other five people is true...... I'm afraid that I greatly misunderstood the petite blacksmith......
Within my brain, the information originally recorded as completely unrelated entries until now, attracted each other, fused with one another, and bloomed with radiance.
Raising my left hand, I stared at it and grasped. Opened it, and grasped again.
In that instant, I was assured, that this time, I have finally arrived at Blacksmith…… no, Machete user Nezuha's trick of weapon swapping.
"That's it...that's how it is done!!"
-End of Upper Section-
Middle Notes (?)
Kunori here. Thank you very much for reading "Rondo of the Transient Sword". And sorry! I was working hard and aiming to complete this in January, but no matter how I thought about it, it seemed impossible, and other matters are pushing in, so I'm sorry to say that this will be considered a pause. For the storyline, the disclosure of information is finally done, but I stopped right where some movement was finally beginning――really feeling ashamed… at the same time, I've already exceeded the length of the previous work, "Aria" ....
Why such a volume of text, I too have given it thought, as this series is not a game clearing log, but a novel with a "net game" theme, though it could be like "Going up the tower, defeating the boss, done" kind of plot, I wanted to add in the nostalgic (?) element of «well-planned fraud», or in other words, the element of crime, and finally made the text very mystical, yet without any battle scene I accumulated such a large amount of words……… From now on there will finally be battle scenes! Again, really sorry for stopping at such a location, I'll try to continue as early (I'm aiming for the middle of February...) as possible, so please have just a little more patience!
If I resume work on the series, I will put it on the notice board. Whether it is the WordGear or the Bunko version of «SAO» and «AW», I hope for your continued support in the future.