ID Prologue Epilogue B


 ­ Grizzly Buddy’s Explanatory Course – “The <Master> and The First Steel vs Cavalry War” Edition

□        Ray Starling
Royal Capital, Altea
<Orion’s Belt Restaurant>
And our dinner party and Q&A time continued.

“Okay then, my next question is in regard to our standing here in this world.”

『Go on.』

Thinking back upon Liliana’s speech and conduct, I then posed my question.

“Liliana called me a ‘<Master> chosen by an <Embryo>’ or something like that. She never referred to me as a ‘player’ or similar. To be honest with you, I’ve yet to comprehend what is the setting defined for us in this game—what is the players’ social standing in the world?”

Somehow, it felt like she didn’t consider me as someone playing a game.

『Hmmm, you could understand that kind of thing after looking at the Background Story in the official site, for example, but… you’d have to spend hours reading everything, so let me briefly explain it to you.』

Saying that, my brother’s “Explanatory Course, Setting of the World” chapter began.

『There are <Masters> and “Tians” in this world. Every single one of us players are known here by the title of <Master>. It’s something close to “One who’s chosen by an <Embryo>” in meaning.』

Which reminds me, Nemesis also used “Master” when referring to me.

『A <Master> is chosen by, nurtures and uses an <Embryo>. Although they are beings of immense strength, <Masters> possess a certain limitation.』

“A limitation?”

『Their bodies end up frequently getting sent to “another world”.』

……Hm?

『<Masters> can disappear from this world for just a few minutes, in the shorter cases, or even several days and months in the longer cases. Sometimes they return right in the place they had previously disappeared. At other times, they are transferred to a special place called “Save Point”.』

No, wait, that’s…

『However, at the very moment of a <Master’s> death, their body is immediately removed to another world with the help of their <Embryo>, allowing them to survive. In this case, though, they won’t return to this world for at least three days.』

“Basically, both the players’ penalty for dying and their logging out occasions are… included in the fundamental laws of this world?”

『That’s it.』

“…….Whew.”

Pretty thoughtful of the developers.

From the contact I had with Liliana and Miliane, I felt that their thought processes were on the same level as a normal, flesh and blood human. In order for those tians to live here without being aware that it was a game, the developers defined the players’ “return to reality” and their “immortality” as fundamental laws of the world.

I see, that was better than I’d expected.

『By the way, there are players who go around touching on the subject that this world is a game, but the tians simply treat them as “poor <Masters> who lost their minds after being sent to the other world.”』

“….Aaahh…”

『As a result of them disappearing at irregular intervals, there are barely any players who assume important positions in the country. Even if one were to enter a Knightly Order or something for the purpose of working as a 【Knight】, they would be given a job exclusive for <Masters> instead of the usual occupations.』

In other words, the jobs entrusted to the players were of a kind that, even if those in the middle of their shift randomly disappeared, it wouldn’t cause problems.

『Well, considering that just the <Embryo> already makes you a great asset for the nation’s military potential, there are many cases where the job offered to a player pays much higher than a tian’s job.』

I wonder if they would order the person to do things like exterminating monsters alone.

Okay, I’ve taken care of the biggest question related to the game System. The next one is…

“Bro, did anything happen between you and Liliana in the past?”

『Huum, what are you talking about? I bearily have any idea.』

“Don’t even try to dodge the question. Liliana acted like she clearly knew you already.”

Additionally, she didn’t seem to hold a very good impression about him.

“What did you do?”

No way, did my brother make a physical move on her?

Was it something like, 『Yaay, an authentic woman knight is nearbear! Ohh, I can’t bear it anymore!!』 and then he threw his arms around her?

『I did nothing.』

However, betraying my expectations, my brother answered in a serious tone.

『Because I did nothing… she holds a grudge against me.』

“What do you mean?”

If he hadn’t done anything, why?

『This will be a long story. And in contrast to everything I’ve said until now, it isn’t something pleasant.』

“I don’t care.”

At my reply, he took a long sigh and started talking.

『Two months ago, or six considering the ingame time, there was a war. It was an aggressive military action waged by the Country of Machines, the Imperial Nation of Driphe, against the Alter Kingdom.』

Country of Machines, the Imperial Nation of Driphe.

It was one of the countries a starting player could choose to be affiliated with, a nation that developed something that would be considered heresy against the setting of a fantasy world: a technical civilization.

…..Okay, I shouldn’t have been talking about heresy when one my relatives was a tank-riding bear.

『That country’s reason for attacking was their desire to take possession of Alter’s fertile territories. But in the context of a game, the real reason was——a War Event.』

A War Event.

That was also something written in the game’s manual.

As a large-scale battle between countries, it was supposed to be a big Quest that wagered the fates of all who were affiliated to each of those nations.

『Within such a great, decisive war, <Masters> and tians alike participated. Well, since it was an event that rarely occurred, it took the center stage of the game… nonetheless…』

My brother stopped for a moment and sighed again.

『The Alter Kingdom suffered an overwhelming defeat. It not only lost a third of its territory, but also the court magician, who was a Great Sage, half of the entire knightly order and even the king all died. In other words, what I’m saying is that many of the key people related to country’s management were killed in action.』

“…How did they manage to lose so badly? Is Driphe really that strong?”

No, that was unlikely.

I could understand if it had happened in the real world, but since we were in a game, it should’ve had at least a way to balance the war potential between the countries.

『The nations’ forces were on par with each other. National power, soldier levels and even the fighting strength of their central figures were similar. And yet, the difference came from something that surpassed everything I’ve just mentioned: the <Masters’> strenght.』

“So, your point is that Driphe had so many players the Kingdom could only lose to the difference in affiliated members, right?”

Driphe seemed to be the kind of country that would be greatly attractive to those who loved its main characteristics; as a result, it should have gathered a large number of players.

Still, if that was the case, wouldn’t the Alter Kingdom be the same…?

『Hmm no? Alter lost because many of the <Masters> who were able to participate in the war… didn’t do so.』

“What?”

I’d just heard something unexpected.

Not only it was an event that took the spotlight here, but also the fate of the Kingdom depended on that war.

So why? Why didn’t they participate?

『How should I put it… the King of Alter was an “old-fashioned[1]” individual. He was the type to boldly make a speech such as, “The Kingdom is in a predicament. Oh, warriors of our Kingdom, now is the time to rise up and fight!” and then stand on the front lines. And… that’s it.』

“That’s it?”

『He wouldn’t give any rewards. The King believed that as long as someone belonged to the country, that person would naturally fight against the current predicament they faced.』

…Well, the Kingdom was in a life or death situation so it couldn’t be helped, but that still felt a little stingy.

I wonder, was it because of its Middle Ages motif? Would his actions be considered “usual” from that point of view?

『Obviously, the <Masters>… the players were enjoying this world, but their lives weren’t at stake here. Whether they died or the country was destroyed, the only thing that awaited them would be the 24 hour login block. Consequently, since there was nothing to gain from it, even though the Kingdom was in danger, many players found no meaning in participating in the war.』

In my case, I would’ve been the reverse: since the only punishment for dying was some login limitations, I would gladly take part in the fight. But, well, to each his own.

Using healing items during the battle would already incur some costs for the player; moreover, having one’s equipment break while fighting a strong enemy—such as other players—would be a great downside for the individual.

『What also made a big difference regarding this matter was that the enemy, Driphe, had decided on a clear standard for its war rewards. Specifically…』

Apparently, it had been an unprecedented act.

For every soldier from the Alter Kingdom defeated, the person would receive 5000 Lirs.

For every <Embryo> holder… or <Master>, for that matter, the rewards would be 50000 Lirs.

In addition, it seemed like those who killed key figures of the Kingdom would receive, as a bonus, a great variety of benefits, such as rare items and favorable treatment within their country.

This resulted in an increase of morale among Driphe’s players; on the other hand, the motivation of Alter’s players dropped considerably.

『There was even a part of the players that raised their voices, expressing things like, “I want to participate on Driphe’s side,” and, “If this country collapses, maybe a rare event will happen.”』

“…………”

As a gamer, it wasn’t like I couldn’t understand the sentiments behind that.

It wasn’t like I couldn’t, but…

『And finally, the decisive blow that allowed for the massive defeat of the Alter Kingdom was the fact that its entire <Big Three>… the top rankers for the Suppression, Duel and Clan rankings didn’t participate in the war.』

“Ranking? Does this game have that too?”

『Yep, it’s that thing over there.』

Replying, my brother pointed outside of the window.

The restaurant we were currently in faced a fountain square, the same one we had previously used as our initial meeting point. He was pointing at the water… fountain’s other side, where an imposing notice board was affixed.

『That’s the Alter Kingdom’s Ranking Board. It is updated every three months of ingame time.』

Or one month in the real world.

『First, there is the Suppression Ranking, where people compete with their accomplishments from killing monsters. Then, we have the Duel Ranking, where the competition lies in the person’s own records from the PVP system. Finally, there’s the Clan Ranking that compares the scale of every clan here. That Ranking Board displays the top 30 individuals from each of these specific rankings.』

“Oohh.”

『What’s important here, though, is that only those who appear in the rankings are allowed to participate in a war. But then, regarding the Clan Ranking, every single clan member from each of the 30 clans can take part in the battle, so they could even act like mercenaries, letting people temporarily join the clans in order to also participate. Actually, that was exactly what Driphe’s <Masters> did.』

…Indeed.

Still, at any rate, it meant that if a player wasn’t in any of those rankings, they wouldn’t be able to join the battles. And then, on the occasion of that war, as the Kingdom sought for the participation of the ones popularly known as the <Big Three>—those who stood at the summit of each ranking—this was what they apparently said:

“I don’t want to carelessly expose my face to the public while participating in such a large-scale event.” – The 【King of Destruction[2]】, name unknown, Suppression Ranking’s #1 player.

“I’m not interested in a messy fight.” – The 【Over-Gladiator[3]】, Figaro, Duel Ranking’s #1 player.

“We couldn’t reach an agreement in the negotiations with the country, so…” – The 【High Priestess】, Fusou Tsukiyo[4], owner of <Lunar Society[5]>, the Clan Ranking’s #1 clan.

As a result, the other ranked players’ motivation, that was already growing dangerously low, plummeted. They could already see that it would become a losing battle for the Kingdom.

When the war finally began, Alter was missing many of its ranked individuals. It seemed like the only ones who participated were a few of the ranked clans, members of various fan clubs of popular NPCs—like Liliana—and naive players, who all paid to temporarily join said ranked clans.

The outcome was… what you would call a “deplorable spectacle”.

It was nothing less than a complete trampling down that happened on the battlefield. Of course, there was the difference in player numbers, but above all, what put an end to all of the Kingdom’s hopes was the fact that, on Driphe’s side, all their top rankers had participated.

The 【King of Beasts】, name unknown, #1 player of the Imperial Nation of Driphe’s Suppression Ranking.

The 【Hell General[6]】, Logan Godhart[7], #1 player of the Imperial Nation of Driphe’s Duel Ranking.

The 【Giga Professor[8]】, Mr. Franklin, owner of <Triangle of Wisdom>, #1 clan of the Imperial Nation of Driphe’s Clan Ranking.

Two of the three of them were <Masters> of a <Superior Embryo>, so their strenght was simply tremendous.

Because of those top rankers on Driphe’s side, they managed to crush the King of Alter, also killing two other prominent NPCs: the Captain of the Imperial Knights and the Great Sage.

『Had things continued the way they were going, without a doubt the country would have headed for total ruination. However, right when one third of the Kingdom’s territory had already been swallowed by the enemy, a third nation, Cardina, joined the fray and commenced an invasion against Driphe. Except for the troops stationed on the captured regions, the Nation of Machines withdrew all its forces and, as a result, the Alter Kingdom barely managed to survive.』

In spite of that—continued my brother—Cardina has already retreated from Driphe, so give it just a few more months and the Imperial Nation will come attacking this country again.

“…………”

…I see, that story was indeed unpleasant.

This city—this country was already on the verge of dying.

“And what about Liliana’s grudge against you?”

『I was also one of those ranked players who didn’t participate in the war. You see, even though we had enough fighting potential we didn’t join the battle, so we ended up being hated. And apparently, the previous Captain of the Knights, the one who died in battle, was Liliana and Milia-chan’s father.』

“…..Damn.”

Really, this story wasn’t pleasant at all.

“So, after hearing such an ‘unpleasant story’, what are you planning on doing about it, Master?”

Nemesis, who had spent all the time eating without participating in the conversation, questioned me.

“This isn’t a problem of what I’m going to decide, really.”

What will I choose to do when Driphe attacks?…. Well, there was no reason to trouble myself with that question because, at heart, my decision had already been made.

“You know, even if they don’t give out rewards, I don’t think I will refuse to participate. I believe that there’s worth in helping out the country, even with the costs incurred in doing so.”

From the viewpoint of it being a game event.

『Yeah, I agree with you. But at that time, the prevailing sentiment between the players was a strong desire to boycott and reject a country they deemed “rather stingy”. I even feel that, perhaps, Driphe had planned to create that kind of mood by arranging such extraordinary rewards for their individuals.』

If that was the case, then the Alter Kingdom had actually lost on the strategy camp even before the first battle broke out.

“So why didn’t you do anything, bro? Was it also because of the lack of rewards?”

『……In my case, having my equipment break equalled to my real face being revealed to everyone.』

“…………”

Aahh, yeah.

That was a huge problem indeed.

『Well, after that I managed to get my hands on this sturdy 【Hind Bear】, so this time I’ll be participating.』

Certainly, from its status, the costume’s defense bonus and physical damage reduction were downright amazing.

But no matter how you looked at it, that bear was simply a joke equipment.

『Nevertheless, even if I’m taking part in the next war, the other side will have strengthened their forces even further. Our side, on the other hand, will be weakened, so things might become pretty severe.』

“Weakened?”

『After the Kingdom’s defeat, there was a “Defection Event”, where many players switched their affiliation to another country. It was so bad that even some of the NPCs left the country, and on private BBS[9] people often said things like, “Alter Kingdom? Not even the bread I bought last month is as stale as that,[10]” and, “It. Is. Over.[11]”』

“…………”

There was defecting, people becoming refugees and a widespread sense of resignation.

This seemed pretty realistic, the course of events leading to the collapse of a country.

『In the latest update, 70% of the ranked players were replaced…』

“Huumm.”

Conversely, it could be said that there was now an opportunity to become a “ranker”.

“Then, I guess I’ll start my journey with this mindset.”

Listening to that story, I settled on a course of action.

Or rather, my course of action remained the same, but my goals increased.

“Have you decided on a new objective?”

Upon hearing Nemesis’ voice, I nodded.

“The current me won’t be able to do much, so I can’t participate in that war.”

That’s why…

“First, I will try leveling up… with the aim of becoming one of the ranked players.”
◆◆◆
■        Earth
A chat room in a certain place

Current Users: Professor

【Shogun has joined】
【beastking has joined】

Current Users: Professor, Shogun, beastking

Professor: g’evening everyone.
Shogun: Good evening.
beastking: sup.
Professor: Okay now.
Professor: Have you two seen the video I sent through <Infinite Dendrogram>?
beastking: yep.
Shogun: That’s why we’re here, right?
Professor: Certainly, it is.
Professor: Well then, regarding the latest attempt at culling prominent tians, if I were to say a single word about it…
Professor: Ahh, it was a failure.
Shogun: A failure it was.
Professor: I had filled that dungeon with that, you know.
Professor: Well, the swarm of Demi-Dragwurms was completely wiped out…
Shogun: Wasn’t there a flaw in your strategy in the first place?
Shogun: I mean, giving the target’s little sister an incense that repelled insects and then “leading” her to the orchard
Shogun: just to catch the target in a trap was a flawed plan in itself.
Professor: Originally, I had arranged for something different…
Professor: But for some reason the rem fruits had disappeared from the market.
Professor: Even the small share I had planned to use for the strategy was gone, lol.
Professor: That sucked you know.
Professor: I was going to give a poisoned rem to the pretty little sister.
Professor: And then she would poison and kill her big sis for me…
Professor: Lil’Sis: “Big sis, happy birthday!!”
Professor: Big Sis: “Oh thank you, ugha agh!”
Professor: Lil’Sis: “Big siiiiisss!!!”
Professor: …Or that was how it was supposed to be. Damn it, that was such a shame riiight!? Sniff sniff, lol.
Shogun: The problem here isn’t your bad luck whatsoever.
Shogun: I’m talking about how your revised strategy was thwarted.
Professor: Maan, that bear was scary.
Professor: Going alone against nearly one hundred Demi-Dragwurms
Professor: and then obtaining a “flawless” victory? I’ve never seen something like that.
Professor: Lol, each one is equivalent to a player with an Advanced job.[12] Shogun: That wasn’t a really impressive feat.
Shogun: It’s something that could be done by a strong and high leveled player… even I could do that.
Shogun: But… a jobless, level 0 individual managed to defeat a Demi-Dragwurm.
Shogun: I don’t remember this kind of antics being done before.
Professor: Oh my, does this mean that his Excellency, the Shogun, is being cautious regarding the rookie instead of that bear?
Shogun: Sigh… I’m looking forward to crushing him.
Professor: There you go again with the evil boss[13] routine.
Professor: But I’m also eager to do it! Lol.
Shogun: You fool! I’m being serious here.
Professor: lol.
Shogun: Still, I can’t deny the “evil” part.
Shogun: “The Fall of a Kingdom”, this will be the first significant event in the game.
Shogun: Driphe can’t… no, we can’t wait for the opportunity to achieve that.
Professor: Well, last time it ended with some key people and part of the territory taken, it was a damn lot…
Shogun: I had fun fighting the Captain of the Imperial Knights.
Professor: The king was so boring.
Professor: It would’ve been way better if I had fought a mass of soldiers.
Shogun: And the Great Sage… was it the beast king who killed him?
Professor: That one was crazy impressive. As expect of our greatest fighting force.
Shogun: Oi
Professor: Yeah yeah, alright. Your Excellency the Shogun and the beast king are our greatest fighting force, lol.
Shogun: Hmpf, whatever. I’ll show it to you in the next war.
Shogun: This time we will choke the life out of the Alter Kingdom.
Professor: Yeah, lol, you gotta show me what you’ve got, okay?
Shogun: By the way, the beast king has been silent all this time. Aren’t you going to say anything?
beastking: the bear… was very… cute.
Shogun: ……………………
Professor: ……………………lol
Shogun: ……I can’t get your tastes at all.


TL Info:
1↑古い人物 – Here he uses an adjective “古い” (old), that is only used for objects, to qualify a person (人物). From what I understood, he did that to say that it wasn’t like the King was an old person, but actually someone behind the times.
2↑破壊王(キング・オブ・デストロイ) – The furigana reads as “King of Destroy” but that’s just probably one more “engrish” thing since the Kanji reads as “Destruction King/King of Destruction”.
3↑超闘士(オーヴァー・グラディエーター) – The furigana reads as “Over-Gladiator” while the Kanji reads as “Ultra/Over Fighter” and the “fighter” part (闘士) can also form the word “gladiator” (剣闘士).
4↑扶桑月夜 – Her name means something like “Japan” (扶桑 – Fusou, classical name for Japan) and “Moonlit Night” (月夜 – Tsukiyo).
5↑月世の会 – Lunar Society, Lunar World Society, Lunatic Society, etc.
6↑魔将軍(ヘル・ジェネラル) – “Hell General” for the furigana, “Demonic Shogun/General” for the Kanji.
7↑ゴッドハルト – Gotthard, Godhard, Godhartt, etc.
8↑大教授(ギガ・プロフェッサー) – Read as “Giga Professor”, written as “Great/Large Professor” (大教授).
9↑掲示板 – Bulletin Board, usually refers to Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).
10↑アルター王国はオワコン – That was a massive liberal take on it. Basically, the “Owakon” (オワコン) is short for “Owatta Kontentsu” (終わったコンテンツ) or “Finished/Done Content”. It’s a slang that refers to things (shows, products, etc) and used when people want to say it is already past its prime, dated, not enjoyable anymore. I’m open to suggestions on what to use for that.
11↑オワタ – Similarly, “Owata” is a meme/slang originated on 2ch, used to basically say that something “is over, there’s no return, no hope” (like “life” for example, which was its original use in “My life is over”, just search for it on google).
12↑一体で上級職一人分ですのにねぇ(笑) – I’m not 100% sure on this line. Here’s how I interpreted it: (一体で) One monster (上級職一人分) enough for a superior ranked job. Thanks for pointing out, Cestina.
13↑テンプレ悪幹部ロール – He’s saying that the Shogun is assuming the clichéd role of the “evil boss/leader/executive”.


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