After their first trip, the team went back to the Guild and took a short break, then went back down to the Volcano layers to collect more materials and Magic Stones. By the time everyone was starting to get accustomed to the Volcano’s monsters, Tsutomu realized how late into the night it was.
“All right, time to leave.”
“Huh, it’s already that late?”
The team had started exploring in the morning, with one break in between during the noon, and now it was past eight o’clock in the afternoon. They had been in the Dungeon for quite a long time due to them being obligated by contract to promote their sponsor, which was more effectively done during peak spectator hours.
[Maybe we should just start at noon, going forward.]
Considering the relatively small spectator crowds in the morning, perhaps it would be fine to forgo exploring during that time. While pondering over that potential time change, Tsutomu wiped the sweat off his face with a towel and entered the Black Gate to return to the Guild. The four others did not seem as worn out as Tsutomu — they could be considered perfectly energetic, even.
Back at the Clan House, Tsutomu went ahead and took a bath first, then sorted his Magic Bag to count up the materials and Magic Stones obtained today, and recorded them in his report notes. Then he put the materials in a newly-purchased high-capacity Magic Bag, which Ollie had obtained during her procedure of managing the team’s items.
The team had received a request from Dorren Workshop to procure select materials and Magic Stones from the Volcano Layers, which they would purchase for a good price, so the plan was to deliver these items to them on the team’s next day off. After dinner, Tsutomu passed the report notes to Ollie and promptly dropped himself onto a sofa, giving in to the fatigue that he had accumulated today.
“Let’s go,” Amira came up to him and said, ready for the usual training session.
“I’ll have to pass today.”
Amira dropped her shoulders, disappointed. Then she proceeded to gear up and head to the Guild’s training ground, to practice controlling <<Fly>> by herself.
“I swear, she’s getting addicted…”
“She’s got stamina, that’s for sure. Almost as much as Daryl, don’t you think?” Hannah said as she and Tsutomu saw Amira off.
“I just hope she doesn’t overwork herself.”
Afterward, Tsutomu was so tired that he immediately headed back to his room and went to sleep.
From the next day onward, the Absolute Helix party continued updating their layer progress and gathering the Volcano layers’ materials. Everyone started leveling up again, with Diniel reaching level seventy-one and learning a new skill, <<Stream Arrow>>.
Amira finally got over level fifty, after which it would take her much longer to gain more levels. The three others had gained either two or three levels, but had not acquired any new skills.
“<<Stream Arrow>>,” Diniel chanted the skill name, then left it to her automatically moving hand to let loose an arrow into the sky.
A moment later, the arrow could be seen glowing blue, then smaller arrows of light started raining onto the ground. The four others around her seemed quite amazed.
“Whoa. That ate up a lot of mental energy.”
“But its power is impressive. Might be fun to use with elemental arrows.”
“…This kind of skill really does NOT suit me.”
Diniel knew a similarly-functioning skill, the <<Rain Arrow>>, which she had not used all that much either. Both skills involved letting loose an arrow into the sky, the effect after which was impossible to fine-tune, making it easy to accidentally hurt allies in the process. <<Rain Arrow>> could be useful with proper teamwork, but it was not necessarily powerful enough to be worth the special attention.
“How about you try working it into your rotation? If it works for Hannah, of course. I think it’ll be useful against Mount Golem.”
“I’m totally on board with that! Just let me know beforehand, and I’ll probably be able to dodge it!”
With Hannah hopping around cheerfully while answering her, Diniel closed her eyes and pondered it over… then looked at Hannah again with a lazy look in her eyes.
“It’s probably impossible now, since I’ve only had the skill for less than three days — but let’s see how it goes from here.”
Hannah was not particularly skeptical of this new idea, having faith that Diniel would never end up hitting her, as had always been the case so far. Daryl seemed jealous of the two — and ended up turning to Amira, but the latter was too focused on her <<Fly>> practice to notice him.
Afterward, the team updated their layer progress at the pace of one layer every few days, and before they knew it, another day off came around. Tsutomu took the collected Inferno Magic Stones and ores to the Dorren Workshop. All of the craftsmen swarmed him like a colony of ants discovering candy.
“Now THIS is a lot… Really, it’s great. Now we can try making a whole bunch of stuff.”
“Always glad to help. Please take good care of Daryl’s gear and Amira’s sword, all right?”
“Leave it to us. We’ll get them back up to perfect shape every time you come to us.” Dorren, the old Dwarf and the workshop’s chief, answered and folded his arms.
The craftsmen started up the furnace to immediately get started processing the ores. Tsutomu passed Daryl’s armor and Amira’s greatsword to them, then proceeded to leave the workshop as it was heating up.
Afterward, he headed to the Forest Apothecary to chat with the Elf lady and ask about her progress on new products, then the Magic Stone Exchange to greet the Dwarf girl. As it turned out, she was Dorren’s granddaughter, and had been quite thankful for the sponsorship deal between Tsutomu’s team and the workshop.
“…And like I said, you should sell your Magic Stones to us. We’ll give you better prices than the Guild!”
“Oh, really? I’ll think about it — not making any promises, though.”
Now that the Clan’s Magic Stone conversion had been left to Ollie, Tsutomu was no longer the one with the final decision on that matter. After leaving the Dwarf girl’s Exchange place, Tsutomu went to the market and observed the Explorers doing their thing on the Monitors.
The first Monitor showed Rook fighting in the Snow Field on layer seventy-one, with Ealdred Crow seemingly finally free from the merchants’ dispute over Ice Magic Stone distribution rights. Said dispute among merchants had become a social phenomenon that got covered by not only Dungeon-specializing newspapers, but regular newspapers as well, so sorting out that situation must have been a pain.
All that work had resulted in Ealdred Crow making bank — with revenue over a hundred million Gold — but that high amount had also resulted in various organizations eyeing for ways to meddle in their business. The Clan’s clerks had been so busy dealing with the situation that they were now so bored and tired, their eyes blank like dead fish.
Unlike the clerks, however, the main party members seemed to be enjoying themselves. They had gone through quite a lot to defeat the Mount Golem, and they did not have to worry about their progress being overtaken for some time. Additionally, each of the members’ popularity had soared since their victory, with the Tank Bittman and multi-weapon Attacker Sova gaining even more fans, and Healer Stephanie’s name starting to become quite well-known.
Most of the time, Stephanie was able to keep up her support effects and provide adequate healing, effectively utilizing pick-up placements and quickshots, and use <<Fly>> to expand her field of vision — all as she had been taught by Tsutomu and his supplementary documents. Right now, she was even providing support and healing for Rook’s summoned monster.
[Ooh, that’s cool.]
Rook’s current choices of Eidolon monsters included ones that could more easily stay alive, which helped Stephanie in carrying out her role for what was essentially a team of six. All in all, Tsutomu was impressed by what he was seeing.
Compared to their smooth progress, the Healer of Silver Beast shown on Monitor #2 was, so to speak, unconventional. Lorena, recognizable even from a distance because of her distinct rabbit ears, had quite a different approach to her role compared to Stephanie, who did things closely by-the-book.
Lorena did not use <<Fly>> to provide support from above, opting instead to run around on the ground. Moreover, she minimized the use of long-ranged <<Heal>>, mostly providing healing by the classic way of touching the target directly.
Unlike Tsutomu, both Lorena and Stephanie must be inside an <<Area Heal>>, otherwise they would get lower power from their long-ranged <<Heals>>. As such, Lorena still preferred to do it the classic way as much as she could.
Two other things worth mentioning about both of them were aggro management and synergy with other party members, which they had done just as well as Tsutomu. Lorena worked well with her comrades and knew commands to issue and when. And in fact, it was not just her — it was apparent even when seen on the Monitor that the whole team moved as one.
Ealdred Crow was a gathering of many talented personnel, while Silver Beast had simply been exploring the Dungeon for a long time with the same members they had had for a long time. For now, Ealdred Crow was one step ahead, but spectators were paying close attention to how things would go from now on.
And on the topic of Healers, it seemed that the Dungeon Maniacs had been ranking their favorites, with Stephanie being the most popular, being the one who had the deepest layer progress. Still, Lorena and Tsutomu were favored by many others, and it had been reported in this morning’s newspapers that they made up three of the top Healers in town.
[I can’t let myself fall behind.]
Although Tsutomu was happy for the two’s progress, he was not about to simply let them overtake him. He proceeded to return to the Clan House in a good mood, encouraged by what he had seen of two of his students.
Silavin: Seems like everyone forgot about the little fox.