“Let’s get going, then.”
“We’re counting on you, man.”
Agreeing to Eunice’s suggestion, Tsutomu joined the Golden Tune party as a temporary replacement. He had worked with them once before, but that time was with some different members. As such, Tsutomu’s preparatory meeting focused mainly on the new Attacker and Tank, a Greatsword Fighter and Paladin respectively. The rest of the Absolute Helix party went away to lure in monsters, leaving Eunice without anything to do.
“So, how should I act?”
“Ah… how do you usually act, Leon?”
Eunice, overhearing as she stood around behind them, took it upon herself to explain instead,
“…After getting buffed by <<Haste>> the first time, he moves around as he pleases and comes back for another buff after the duration is up.”
As it turned out, Eunice had not been maintaining a constant <<Haste>> effect on Leon. Tsutomu contemplated doing that as well, but after giving it some thought, he suggested Leon otherwise,
“I think that will be hard for me to follow, so feel free to act however you like. I’ll just change my approach to match up with yours.”
Told as such by Tsutomu, Leon stared at him for a moment and then chuckled.
“Hah, all right! Will do!”
Since Barbara had nothing in particular to add, Tsutomu turned to Eunice, who was now casting her eyes down in frustration.
“It’s not exactly a bad idea, you know, having Leon come back for more buffs like that. Maybe it’s actually more efficient, considering his speed. And casting the spell the classic way does help save on energy used.”
“…Hmph. Are you trying to cheer me up or what? I think you’re having the wrong idea here.”
Seeing that Eunice’s harsh tone did not match up with the cheerful wagging of her tail, Tsutomu chuckled, which prompted the former to glare at him. He proceeded to look away.
The quickest way to show off a Healer’s capabilities was to test the team in a multi-wave battle like the ones that would occur in the Canyons. The Volcano had no such encounters, however. Thus, Bolseyer would be the second best option — but getting to it meant exiting and re-entering the Dungeon, and it was a matter of luck whether or not he and Golden Tune would meet up again then.
The Guild had been investigating God’s Dungeon quite extensively, but it still had not been figured out why different parties entering the same layer at the same time would not necessarily find one another when inside. The only explanation for now was that, although the layer numbers were the same, there were multiple instances of the layer for the parties to potentially be teleported to. Statistically, there was a fifty-fifty chance of entering the same layer instance as a specific other party — but on an unlucky day, getting the desired matchup could be time-consuming, so Tsutomu had opted not to go the Bolseyer route.
“Here they come. Get ready.”
As Tsutomu was discussing the types of usable skills with the Paladin and Greatsword Fighter, he noticed Diniel returning with two types of monsters following her. One was a three-meter tall Giant made of red rocks, and the other was an insectoid creature with fly-like eyes in the color of ripe apples.
“Lava Golems and Salamantulas. The two Tanks, decide on how you’ll divide your focus. <<Protect>>, <<Haste>>.”
Tsutomu cast supporting skills for everyone while reporting to them the monsters’ properties. The two Tanks separated from each other and both unleashed <<Combat Cry>>, each distracting different monsters.
Then Tsutomu applied the <<Fly>> buff onto himself and quickly ascended. He had hardly used it so far while with the Absolute Helix team because the effect did constantly consume a minuscule amount of mental energy while one was airborne, and he wanted to get in some grounded support practice.
In order to work in a party with Leon, however, he had to change the way he did things. With <<Gold Bless>>, Leon’s AGI would be raised by two rating levels, and with <<Haste>> on top of it, the status rating would reach S. That would be too fast to see properly from the ground, so one had to expand their field of view by levitating with <<Fly>> if they wanted to support him properly.
Moreover, Barbara and the Paladin were still unskilled as Tanks, though knowing that beforehand did give Tsutomu some time to change plans. Fortunately, from what he had seen, the Greatsword Fighter was an excellent Attacker, so there was no need to adjust much of anything for her. In fact, having just one or two skilled members out of the four had already made his job so much easier.
As the battle started, it was apparent that Barbara had already gotten used to the monsters of the Volcano layers, but not yet to the act of fighting. She dodged one Lava Golem’s two-handed smash attack but left a long enough opening for another one to kick her — so Tsutomu cast a <<Heal>> shot at her just before the kick landed and knocked her away.
The <<Heal>> shot hit Barbara’s back just after she was kicked, almost immediately eliminating the bruise she sustained. A shot of <<Medic>> followed, recovering her from fatigue and enabling her to continue pulling the Lava Golems’ attention.
The Paladin seemed to be struggling with the Salamantulas’ noisy buzzing wings and quick attacks. Tsutomu backed her up with <<Air Blade>> and promptly cast <<Heal>> for her when she was about to be hit by a body slam. As a result, she recovered almost immediately after taking the hit.
Taking his eyes off the two Tanks, Tsutomu turned to observe Leon making use of overwhelming speed to confuse the Lava Golems.
[His moves sure are amazing.]
Ridiculously erratic, too, even with the advantage of watching him from above. His speed was also far above Hannah’s level, as if he was testing Tsutomu. Though feeling ticked off, Tsutomu pointed his White Staff at Leon and tried casting some buffs.
The shot type would never catch up to Leon, so instead, Tsutomu guessed his direction by considering the allies’ and enemies’ positions and behaviors, and placed a <<Haste>> pick-up in the predicted path of movement. Leon dodged a Lava Golem’s punch and kept moving, touching the <<Haste>> spell that had been placed, which renewed the duration of the AGI buff that he already had.
Using <<Fly>> to stay high above a battle meant that Tsutomu could truly see the wide picture — which, as it turned out, was not so different from a Live Dungeon gameplay screen. That served to be a great advantage, since he was quite used to watching battles unfold from this point of view. Moreover, being up here greatly enhanced his ability to presume the Tanks and Attackers’ feelings, and also read the atmosphere of the battle.
Back in the game, he had played Attackers and Tanks somewhat extensively as well, so he knew what they would need and want from a Healer. In general, he had to understand monsters’ behaviors and heal the Tanks as soon as possible after they were hit, and always maintain buffing effects on all his team members. In this world, he had to add other unique elements like <<Medic>> and <<Fly>> to the mix, too.
Thanks to all that experience, he could predict monsters’ attacks and quickly heal the Tanks even if they were hit repeatedly, enabling the team to regain their momentum. Matching up <<Haste>> placements with Leon’s absurd speed was still difficult, but by placing pick-ups in two directions whenever Leon dodged monsters, the effect could be renewed somewhat reliably.
And since he was worried about leaving all the monsters to the two Tanks, he used some attacking spells to back them up as well. They were naturally weak compared to Attackers’ skills, but in this world, Healers’ attacks were much more important than in the game. Not only did they add to the team’s damage output, but they could also stagger monsters if aimed properly at weak points, making the Tanks’ lives easier.
For Healers to start attacking, however, they must first master the tasks of supporting, healing, and managing aggro. Currently, Tsutomu was the only one who could do all three things reliably.
“Barbara, another <<Combat Cry>> at the Golems.”
“Leon, I have no issues with how you move around, but try attacking a little less! You’re going to get us all killed!”
“Wha–!? Sorry, man!!”
Apparently energized by the sustained <<Haste>> effect, Leon seemed to be having quite a lot of fun cutting down monsters with his long sword. Tsutomu reminded him to slow down and be mindful of aggro levels, and then continued to carry out the tasks of support and healing. In the end, the team cleared out the first monster wave without difficulty.
Soon after, Hannah brought along the second wave of monsters. Just like before, Tsutomu informed everyone of the monsters’ properties as the fight started.
During this battle, too, Tsutomu kept up his healing and did not let a single buff effect wear out. Placing <<Haste>> for Leon still took a big chunk of his concentration, but other than that, he had no issues.
Leon was greatly enjoying the fact that his <<Haste>> effect never wore off no matter how much he moved around, while the two Tanks were bewildered by the effectiveness of the support and healing they had been receiving, feeling as if their physical conditions were being monitored.
Back in Live Dungeon, Tsutomu had not only worked with his regular Clan parties, but also often joined various other parties as a Healer. Those came in all kinds — efficiency-oriented parties with serious planning sessions, chatting-focused parties, and silent parties with no communication whatsoever. That had him accustomed to going through the Dungeon with various approaches. As such, Tsutomu was able to work well with Tanks and Attackers no matter the type of party he joined.
The third and fourth waves of monsters were also defeated without incident. Now they were about to face the fifth wave, the final one.
“Looks like you’re almost out of energy. Here, drink this.”
“Ah, thank you.”
Although he would not be able to manage the mental energy amounts of all members at once, he could work with estimates somewhat fine for the two Tanks. Tsutomu gave the Paladin a Blue Potion made by the Forest Apothecary’s apprentice, then he called out to the Greatsword Fighter,
“Remember to have some water while you can!”
The Greatsword Fighter, who was indeed getting thirsty, turned to Tsutomu with a horrified look. She had been faring just fine with Eunice’s support, and had not expected anything better for this time, but Tsutomu’s support clearly was something else. His pick-up placements had not at all interfered with the combat flow, and all she had to do was touch them whenever she noticed them to renew her effects.
She proceeded to let out a dry chuckle as she accepted a canteen, feeling as if her actions and state of mind were being read through.
The fighting went on smoothly after that, with Tsutomu and the Golden Tune party wrapping up their fifth consecutive battle without incident.
“Looks like we’re just about done here. Good work, everyone.”
The battlefield was littered with Magic Stones, which Tsutomu proceeded to start collecting. Eunice, having watched the whole battle, helped to collect them as soon as she realized what was going on.
“Was that a good reference for you?” Tsutomu asked as Eunice approached him.
“The look on Leon’s face was… different,” she muttered, her tail drooping down. “He looked like he was having more fun than usual.”
“It’s annoying. It’s like… I’m being told that you’re better than me. I can’t do all the things you can.”
“It. Is. Annoying.”
As Eunice kept talking, wringing out her thoughts, Tsutomu nodded along while continuing to collect the Magic Stones. Even after the collecting was done, Eunice was not done talking yet.
“Lorena and Stephanie are great, too. I’m the only one who’s no good.”
“Those two have been doing this for pretty long. It’s only normal that there’s some difference.”
“…You’re annoying, Tsutomu.”
“How are you so good!? You’re not even level sixty yet! It’s not fair! All you do is sound snarky! You’re so annoying!”
“Thanks,” Tsutomu said, smiling and patting Eunice on her head.
“None of that was a compliment!”
Seeing that Eunice was somewhat more cheerful now, Tsutomu explained his case to her with some difficulty.
“Let’s just say that I’ve been through a lot of things, and they had an… effect on me.”
“What exactly did you do?”
“It’s a secret.”
“Hmph, fine, keep it to yourself. I don’t care about you anyway.”
“Then don’t ask.”
Eunice threw one last Small Magic Stone at Tsutomu and jogged away to where the other Golden Tune members were gathering. Afterward, Leon found the Black Gate down to layer sixty-eight, and as agreed upon earlier, he let Absolute Helix take it.
Just when Tsutomu was about to enter the Black Gate, Eunice pointed at him and declared,
“I’ll definitely surpass you someday! Just you wait!”
“Better not disappoint me, then.”
“Shut up! You won’t be feeling so smug for long! Ugh, you’re so annoying!” Eunice shouted and turned away, the wagging of her tail suggesting that she was angry.
The Absolute Helix party proceeded to teleport away, with Tsutomu going last.
Once everyone reached layer sixty-eight, they returned to the Guild to take a break, then headed down to layer sixty-seven again to continue their leveling routine. Since new monsters appeared on layer sixty-eight, Tsutomu wanted to set that layer aside until Amira was starting to grow bored of the leveling routine.
And as coincidence would have it, they met up with Golden Tune once again.
“Whoa, I didn’t think we’d meet again so soon! Well? How goes your training to surpass me?”
“Bug off…” Eunice whined, her voice gloomy.