□ Ray Starling
Royal Capital, Altea
『By the way, have you already seen your initial status?』
As we moved towards the ＜Old Loew’s Orchard＞, my brother asked about my abilities.
Oh, come to think of it, I didn’t even look at them yet.
“Detailed Status… here.”
Then, a new window appeared, displaying my current status.
Level: 0 (Level Total: 0)
I didn’t know what was the norm around here, but this was, most likely, weak. Guess a level 0 rookie shouldn’t be strong, huh.
Speaking of which, it seemed like this game allowed you to take multiple jobs. Because of that, there was the “Level Total” status, a sum of the levels for each one of the player’s jobs.
Well, nonetheless… it was also 0 for me.
“And here I am, a level 0, going to a dungeon named 『Rookie Killer』.”
『Unless you get some sort of job, you’ll have to bear with that 0 forever. Wanna take one bear-fore we go there?』
“…Nah, I don’t think there’s enough time for that. I’ll go just like this.”
If the child from that photo died while we looked for a job, it would be a complete disaster. Right now, we needed to prioritize speed over anything else. Even the conversation with my brother was happening as we rushed over to the orchard.
“Can I ask you a few questions?”
“There aren’t any statuses like INT (Intelligence), so which one of them actually decides how strong your magic is? Ah, there is magic in this world, right?”
I remembered how Liliana used healing magic on me.
『It’s calculated using your maximum MP, the level of the magic skill and also the amount of MP used to launch said skill. And yeah, there isn’t an INT status in this game, since you’re going to be using yours anyway.』
I see. Of course, if you were to tell me that just by “increasing your intelligence” my magic would get stronger, it would be hard to believe.
“What kind of action consumes SP?”
『Sword skills, martial arts, any technique related to your physical body uses SP. Incidentally, those techniques may consume SP to attack, but their strength is determined by other statuses such as STR and DEX. Also, the way all your statuses grow varies depending on things like your play style, weapon used, job and individual qualities.』
『Well, ultimately, que sera, sera. Your beary self will always end up reflected there.』
…Did he really like doing those bear puns?
『Ah, that’s right, I should bear giving you some of my accessories.』
Saying that, my bear brother took out a number of items from his bag and handed them over to me. There were ten vials of the 【Heal Potion Lv2】, a healing item that could, apparently, completely recover the HP of a newbie like me; one 【Lifesaving Brooch】 accessory; and finally, four pieces of the 【Dragon Scale Substitute】.
While equipped, bestows the 《By a Hair’s Breadth》 skill.
Has a 10% chance of breaking when its effect is activated.
※If the user would take damage that exceeds their maximum HP, instead a new damage calculation is done with only the exceeding portion of that damage. This process is repeated as long as the damage to be dealt exceeds the user’s maximum HP.
※If the 【Lifesaving Brooch】 breaks while equipped, for a period of 24 hours the user will not be able to equip another 【Lifesaving Brooch】.
《By a hair’s breadth》： Damage that would have otherwise killed the user is nullified only once.
【Dragon Scale Substitute】
If the user would be dealt damage, that damage is instead reduced to 10% of its original value.
Breaks after its effect is triggered.
『There are level and status restrictions bear-hind the equipment in this game. That’s why you should boost yourself with the accessories that are now in your pawsession, since they don’t have any level restrictions.』
As the number of equipment slots for accessories was five, I could perfectly use all of them.
“Thanks, bro… also, on that subject, what are the penalties for dying here?”
Penalties for dying.
It was a feature that many online games had.
Simply put, there was some kind of penalty for a character that died in those games; losing levels or spending a certain period of time with a handicap applied to their status, for example. This would result in players trying to avoid dying, so this game should have had some sort of punishment for them too.
That’s why I waited for my brother’s response, but…
『You won’t be able to login for 24 hours.』
It was beyond any expectations I ever had.
“…What did you say?”
『When you die here, you’re blocked from entering ＜Infinite Dendrogram＞ for 24 hours in the real world, or 72 hours in this world.』
Are they insane?
Okay, this might be just a game, but to think that there was a death penalty that wouldn’t let you play…
『And the most terrible point of that punishment isn’t that you can’t play the game. It’s the fact that, during your penalty period, the world of ＜Infinite Dendrogram＞ will have normally progressed for three entire days. Let’s say there’s an ongoing quest like the one you’ve generated. It will mean that such a quest is going to be neglected for seventy-two hours. For a realistic world like this one, that’s something pretty scary.』
If my bear brother and I were to disappear for three days, then this quest we had undertaken would… I didn’t even need to say how it would end.
“Let’s try not to die. Although I don’t know how helpful a level 0 like me would be.”
I mean, would I even be of any use?
『By the way, like I’ve said bear-fore, the ＜Old Loew’s Orchard＞ is a Trap Dungeon known as the “Rookie Killer.” Those helpless bear-ginners, who knew nothing about it when playing the game for the first time, would go, “Yaay, time to explore this nearby place,” and enter the dungeon—only to immediately get mauled to death and experience the 24-hour login ban.』
That’s a trauma making machine if I’d ever seen one.
『Still, this is weird. Why the “Difficulty: 5” for this quest? The monsters in that dungeon should only be around level 25… that “5” is too high.』
While listening to my brother’s murmurs, we finally went through the southern gates of Altea.
After leaving the gates and running for about 1X minutes, we found a certain facility. It was surrounded by a metal fence and, at its entrance, there was a tattered signboard, with 『Welcome to ＜Loew’s Orchard＞』 written on it.
However, the facility had already been abandoned; plants grew wildly all over the place and the sign’s colors had lost their vividness.
『Well then, at last, we’re venturing in there, but…』
My big brother paused in front of the entrance to the ＜Old Loew’s Orchard＞, the place that had turned into a den of insect monsters. Immediately after, a brand new window appeared in my field of view.
【Shuu Starling has invited you to join his party.】
【Accept the request? YES/NO】
『It will bear easier for me to protect you if I can always see your status. However, since there’s a level difference beartween us, we can’t distribute the experience points equally, so your share will be directly proportional to your contribution to the fights.』
“You know, one way or another, I don’t have any use for EXP right now.”
As it was often the case in MMORPGs, when a lone player battled and defeated a monster, all its EXP would go to the player; on the other hand, it was another case when fighting in a party.
In this game, there were two different methods for distributing experience points.
The first was the equal distribution. Available when the individuals forming a party were in the same level zone, it divided the monster’s total experience evenly between all members.
The second one was the proportional distribution. It was a method that altered the amount of EXP received by the party member proportionally to their active efforts during the battle. In the ＜Infinite Dendrogram＞ game, “active efforts” included not only the amount of damage dealt, but also supporting actions such as healing.
Yet, for the level 0 (jobless) me, experience points were irrelevant.
What was important now was to successfully complete the quest and save those sisters. Getting a job and leveling up could wait until after that.
I then pressed the “YES” button on the window.
A second later, the party/simplified status screen opened, and there I could see that my brother’s name had been added. Since the free space on that screen allowed four more names to be included, it seemed like, in this game, six was the maximum number of members in a party.
Alright, my brother’s status was currently displayed together with his name. Hmm, it was displayed there, but…
“What… is this?”
Level: ■ (Level Total: ■)
Albeit it was the simplified status, every single entry displayed there had been painted over in black.
『Ahh, that’s one of the beary effects of this bear costume. If there’s a difference in level beartween us, it makes my status invisible to both allies and enemies alike.』
The hell’s that effect?
It would obviously make it harder to provide support magic… well, it wasn’t like I could’ve done that anyway.
Come to think of it…
“Big bro… after hearing about the quest details I forgot to ask you this, but why are you wearing a bear costume?”
As I threw that question, with somewhat ease my brother used the costume’s claws to scratch its cheek.
『This is a beary sad tale, you’ll bear moved to tears.』
“Just answer it already, we’re busy here you know.”
『My little brother’s gaze is so cold…』 he grumbled, and bit by bit started talking.
『Err, there’s the Character Creation thing right?』
『Since it would be such a pain to create it from scratch, I tried using myself as the base model.』
“And I did the same.”
『At that moment, I kinda committed a little mistake…』
“A mistake…? What did you do?”
『I carelessly confirmed the avatar without doing any customization on it.』
In short, the figure of the person inside the costume was 100% my brother. There was a limit to risking things while playing online games, and using something like your real face was completely out of question.
Yet, that was exactly my brother’s case now. He had no other option but to wear that costume.
『By the way, I chose this country because in the images that were shown of its capital, I could see a shop that sold costumes…』
“Ahh, no wonder you didn’t go to Driphe or Grand Valois, even though you fancied that kind of stuff.”
『Yeah, I had to sacrifice something… bear-sides, the first costume I bought cost me 4980 Lirs.』
“Isn’t that, like, nearly all of your initial money?”
Just how did he manage to live here since the very launch of the game?
『Moreover, it was just a piece of joke equipment that had no defensive effect whatsoever. Also, considering I was one of the pioneers in the game, we had zero information about anything. Maan, the struggle from such a desperate start to my current costume was an unbearable path, filled with suffering.』
“So, what are the effects of the one you’re using?”
【X-Treme Costume Series, Hind Bear】
Ancient Legendary Armor
Defense Bonus +903 (Bear-san)
《Disguise》: Status concealment effect. If the difference between the user’s and the target’s Level Totals is 100 or more, the user’s status is completely hidden from the other’s sight.
《Air-Conditioning Organs》: Four seasons air-conditioning organs. Provides a comfortable temperature anytime, anywhere.
《Power Assist》: Supports the user’s movements with motorized muscles. STR+903
《Bulletproof Design》: Also with a crossfire-proof design. User takes 903 less damage from long-distance physical attacks.
《Stab-proof Design》: For those special days when assassins just won’t leave you alone. User takes 903 less damage from short-distance physical attacks.
《All-purpose Bear Paw》: It is a mystery how it can be used to grab and manipulate things with dexterity. Additional effects: Damage UP against Fish and Insect monsters.
《？？？？》 : ■
…Whoa, this was abnormally strong for a mere joke equipment.
“What’s with that “+903” bonus? I may not know anything about the status limit for this game, but isn’t that pretty high? Or rather, what’s even your level, Bear Brother?”
For the current me, I couldn’t see my brother’s status at all, so his Level Total should’ve been above 100…
Maan, he’s annoying.
『Well, let’s beary the comedy stuff now and go save the little girl.』
“…90% of the ‘comedy’ was your fault, bear brother. Still, yeah, let’s go.”
We then rushed into the ＜Old Loew’s Orchard＞.
Inside, the supposed ground pathways were now overgrown with rank weeds, and the guiding signboards, that pointed to the regular routes, were nearly completely broken.
And one of those boards read 『Rem Fruit Field → 5XX metars』.
“Should I think of it as being ‘5XX meters’?”
『Pretty easy to understand, right? Also, did you notice it?』
“…Is it those sounds that have been going on for some time? Yeah.”
From the direction pointed by the guiding board, I could hear non-human voices and clashing sounds being released. Although I couldn’t see what was happening there because of all the vegetation, I was sure that Liliana—who had entered this dungeon earlier—was in the middle of a battle.
Then, I finally realized it.
I could only hear sounds of combat coming from the Rem Fruit Field. All the other locations were mostly silent.
“So, are we the only players here?”
『Ahh, man, there are just too many people with the trauma of dying in this dungeon. To make things worse, for a place of this level range, the items dropped and money yielded here aren’t that good. Moreover, not only do the insects attack in swarms, but many of them can also poison and paralyze you, so it is indispensable to bring something to counter abnormal status effects.』
Apparently, this was a “deserted farming zone.”
『Well, thanks to that, it will be easier for me to fight——Baldr, activate your 2nd form.』
When my brother muttered some words, an unfamiliar mechanical voice answered. Then, light shone—through the costume—from the back of his left hand and, suddenly, something appeared.
Immediately after, that bizarre something was added to my brother’s bear-y silhouette.
Multiple gun barrels arranged in a circular manner.
A high-speed loading mechanism moved by a motor.
A belt-shaped loading tube.
And finally, a giant magazine in the shape of a drum can.
It was a heavy weapon commonly used by aircraft, the so-called “gatling gun.”
“…Wasn’t this game supposed to be in a fantasy setting?”
1↑Specifically, the complete translation for the status is: HP (Stamina), MP (Magical Power/Points), SP (Skill Power/Points), STR (Physical Strength), END (Endurance), DEX (Dexterity), AGI (Agility) and LUC (Luck).
2↑危険牌 – Literally, Dangerous Tile, a term from Mahjong for a tile that is dangerous to discard.
3↑Q極着ぐるみシリーズ はいんどべあ – Literally, it would be “Q-Max Costume Series, Hind Bear”, but there’s a pun with the first part of the item’s name: “Q極” can be read as “Kyuukyoku” (究極) or “Extreme/Ultimate”, since ‘Q’ sounds like ‘Kyuu’ when spoken.
4↑Bear-san/Kuma-san – The reason for all the 903 bonuses. Each number can be read in Japanese as follows: 9 [Ku] 0 [Ma(ru)] 3 [San].
5↑刺客が多い日も安心 – Basically, the second part, “多い日も安心” is often seen in pad commercials (yeah), but it roughly means “giving you peace of mind for many days” so people also use it for other stuff where you prepare yourself for something.
6↑熊手 – This word means “rake”, but if you took it kanji by kanji, it’s literally “bear hand”. I don’t know if I should keep it just as “Rake” or “Bear Rake” or even “Bear/Bare Hands”.