First of all, it was a major clan with an overwhelming number of members which noticed the disaster caused by the three-person party, an information collecting clan called Aldlet Crow.
Unlike any other clans, Aldlet Crow had also recruited many people other than adventurers. They have clerks who manage and stock their equipment, plus writing financial reports of their profit and loss. They also have information collectors who will gather information by checking the monitors. Besides, they’ll also gather some useful information about items’ prices from the town. This was the only clan which offered many kinds of services, ranging from special equipment shops to prostitution.
But recently, they only collected gold and didn’t challenge the fire dragon, resulting in a decline of their popularity from the public. A few years ago, they became known as the first clan to break through Shell Crab. But after that, they didn’t make any particularly outstanding result and were now being ridiculed as a clan with its number of members as their sole saving grace.
However, this Aldlet Crow clan was actually sharpening their nails in secret by recruiting a great number of adventurers from every kind of races and jobs while incorporating useful information and tactics practiced by middle clans. Thus, Tsutomu’s Flying Heal and battle tactics were one of the useful pieces of information they could get.
After entering the swamp terrain beyond the 20th floor, Tsutomu and friends’ three-person party would sometimes appear on the mid-sized monitors. At first, it was only focused on Garm and Amy. ‘Boisterous Dance’ Amy and ‘Mad Dog’ Garm had become the guild’s members, but they were still in active service. The information collector man wrote down in detail about how the two of them wielded their swords, used their skills, and much more.
But then, after he witnessed Tsutomu’s Flying Heal, the man began to pay more attention to Tsutomu. A middle clan called Wings of the White Fencers has two white mages specialized in recovery and attacking in their party. The man recalled that the clan had used Flying Heal for a while to explore the potential of white mages.
Later, Flying Heal was deemed as impractical and discarded. Nevertheless, Tsutomu’s Flying Heal was a big deal in the collector’s eyes. Amy’s upper arm, which was attacked by the queen spider’s fangs, was recovered as soon as Flying Heal was applied.
The information collector man noticed the usefulness of Flying Heal and began to keep his eyes on Tsutomu. Soon after, he tried to have a white mage adventurer under the tenth army in Aldlet Crow attempt to use Flying Heal.
Contrary to what he expected, it worked fine until they had to fly. The amount of the recovery ability was so small that it was simply impractical. In order to find the reason why, the collector waited until Tsutomu passed through a few floors of the dungeon and paid more attention to Tsutomu’s movements and the tools he used.
The white cane Tsutomu used didn’t have the same efficiency like the black cane he obtained from the Red Demon Clan. It was a bit expensive, but anyone would be able to afford it. The Flying Heal’s ability wasn’t due to the tool. After that, the man focused more on Tsutomu’s movements, but he still couldn’t figure out the reason. Not to mention, Tsutomu had a change of party when he practiced Flying Heal, making the man who couldn’t make much progress in his investigation to droop his head low.
He can’t get the tenth army’s white mage to cast the same Flying Heal like Tsutomu’s, but he was at least able to get them to learn about support skills like Protect and Haste. Since they haven’t practiced much, the accuracy when they applied the skill was not as good as Tsutomu, and the effective time was shorter than the ones he casted. But then again, he felt relieved that the information he reported about some other skills, which were much more useful than Heal was not wasted.
Still, the recovery ability of Heal and High Heal didn’t improve at all even when they had practiced repeatedly. Even when the maximum amount of mana had been used, the recovery ability was only effective like some medicinal herbs in the meadow. Moreover, if the white mage did that, they’ll soon attract monsters and get killed right there.
[It seems that he’s using some kind of unique skills… If that’s the case, I should get more information from other adventurers. What exactly was different between our mage’s skills and his?]
The information collector man began to rack his brain and continued to observe the party after Amy left and Camille joined. And then, Garm mostly took charge of attacking monsters by using skills such as Combat Cry to gain aggro. He also began to pay attention to how Camille used the strategy of attacking freely.
[…I see. So Garm who has high vitality was the one who parried the monsters’ attack while being constantly strengthened by Flying Protect. In the meantime, the guild leader had exterminated all the monsters at once.]
From what the onlookers saw on the monitor, Garm didn’t seem to mind taking on a lot of monsters, making his popularity rise rapidly. Moreover, the scene when Camille used her big sword to cut the monster down made the crowd’s cheers grow louder. On the other hand, the man was observing that screen with a frozen heart.
[With that amount of monsters, no matter how strong Garm is, he’ll die if he doesn’t have time to drink potion. But he’s being backed up relentlessly by Tsutomu’s Heal and Protect… The monsters will focus their attacks on someone with high vitality, so it might be difficult for that one person if Flying Heal wasn’t applied on them…]
If one kept attracting monsters to them alone like Garm, they wouldn’t have time to drink the potion. It was obvious that the person who attracted the monsters would immediately die because the mages couldn’t cast the imitated Flying Heal.
[But if there are two people who have high vitality and they take the monsters’ attack one after the other, they’ll lessen each other’s burden. Besides, if the Healer recovered one person at a time in turns, will the potion’s consumption be reduced? This party configuration is worth trying.]
The man promptly gave the idea of the strategies to the party with the white mage who had learnt the supporting flying skills. Then, they tried practicing the strategies until Tsutomu and his teammates finally arrived at the 59th floor, but they didn’t seem to make any remarkable results.
The clan’s party structure seemed to prioritize attacking to earn aggro from monsters. But, the existence of Heal aggro seemed to still be unknown for now.
The monsters would aim at the person who attacked them the most. They were aiming either the strongest one or the weakest one, their common sense was only up to that degree. So, Heal aggro was still unclear. There wasn’t anyone in the party who could roughly measure the amount of aggro and control it, so that Healers and Attackers didn’t gain aggro from the monsters.
For that reason, it was impossible for them to immediately balance the roles of Tank, Healer, and Attacker like Tsutomu’s party.
But there was this skill called Combat Cry which could make knights and fighters earn aggro as the white mage casted supporting flying skill to them. Thanks to the man’s guidance, the Healer and Tank’s ‘soil’ had been nurtured. Since the information collector man had understood about how to use the skills to earn hate, he informed them about these to the party.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t that easy to apply on Attackers. After all, the Attackers kept on attacking as they pleased like always. At any rate, they can’t change their habit of attacking the monsters rapidly and killing it, which has been ingrained in their body.
Of course, it was also because the Tank couldn’t just earn aggro without any reason. The Attacker will eventually be targeted and the Tank will be casted aside just like before, leaving only four people to fight.
It was the day Tsutomu challenged the fire dragon that the man coincidentally instructed and suggested these tactics to the clan’s party – though, it did not turn out well.
The three of them gathered in the guild at eight o’clock in the morning. Garm’s appeared more stiffened than ever since he wore a supplementary heavy armor with magic water stones geared up as a cooling function and attached on his back. In contrast, Camille’s appearance hasn’t changed in particular. Tsutomu carried the magic bag crammed with a lot of spare equipment and potions on his back, then he called out to them.
Tsutomu saw Garm moving his dog ear, probably because he was so nervous that he became restless. But then, he still moved to the vacant reception desk. So, Tsutomu thought he should be okay. Garm updated his status card with the receptionist man while wearing his empty and frightening look as usual. Then, he went back to the party of three people.
“Ah, we’ll confront the fire dragon today. Please watch us if you have time.”
“Oh, is that so? Don’t piss yourself later, alright?”
“Tell me how it went later, Garm.”
“Kuhaha! Ain’t that nice? You sure have the guts! Well, best of luck to you. Don’t wear pricey equipment.”
Tsutomu bowed his head to the Uncle Skinhead receptionist who gave him such advice. Then, he headed towards the magic circle.
“I’m nervous. But I don’t want to die unless I’ve cleared a round, so let’s move comfortably.”
Tsutomu slapped Garm’s back and pointed to Camille.
“Straighten yourself out, please. Take a look at Camille. She is making an expression like she is going on a picnic.”
“I was so excited that I had difficulty falling asleep last night.”
“We can stop here if you won’t be able to exert enough power due to lack of sleep.”
“No… There is no way we can stop here…”
Camille, who fixed the sword she carried on her back, responded to him with a smile. Everything would be over if the Tank collapsed, so Tsutomu tried to ease Garm up by saying these words while feeling concerned about him.
“Let’s move to the 59th floor.”
Upon saying those words, the trio’s body turned into particles as they were transferred to the 59th floor.
The sunshine casted a bright light on the red slope and the light reflected on them, as if to welcome the three. After looking around the area surrounded by rocks, Tsutomu casted Fly to the three of them and left the searching to Camille like usual.
Tsutomu transferred the potion to small bottles and sat across Garm, who began to stretch both of his legs.
“Just fight like we usually do and we’ll be able to defeat the dragon. It’ll be alright.”
“…You’ve told me that a lot of times since yesterday.”
After he finished stretching, Garm placed the potion into his waist, then he turned his face away as if he was sulking. Tsutomu thoughtlessly stabbed Garm by uttering a few theoretical words, since that Tank had said many bashful things at the meeting to discuss how to confront the fire dragon yesterday.
“The dragon is just a tiny bit larger than that wyvern. Just a tiny, little bit, you know?”
“Hmm, I had a hunch that it’d be quite different. Tsutomu is a strange one. Even me who was nicknamed a madman think that challenging the fire dragon is a ridiculous thing to do.”
“Well, we could only see the opponent’s level, after all. Ah, but wouldn’t that be perfect for the madman and mad dog?”
“I mean, it’s obvious that I’m not a mad dog right now. I’m more like a watchdog who is guarding the madman right now.”
Tsutomu knitted his brows at Garm, who rested his hands on his waist upon saying that sarcastically.
“Please don’t piss yourself after seeing the fire dragon. We can’t use excitement urination as an excuse.”
“I don’t understand what exactly is excitement urination, but I can’t make any promise of not peeing myself. In fact, most parties which challenged the fire dragon for the first time would have at least one of the members to piss themselves.”
“Eh, really? These people will definitely be nicknamed ‘wetter’. Poor guys.”
Garm and Tsutomu had a friendly chat for a while to clear their tiny bit of nervousness away. And just when they were starting to worry about Camille, she had returned.
Tsutomu listened to Camille explaining about the surrounding terrain as he handed the potion to her, causing her to smile.
“I found the black gate. There’s a corner nearby after going straight to the north from here.”
“Oh, that’s great. We don’t have much time, so let’s do warm up fights three times before heading towards the black gate.”
Camille made an expression like a child who was about to go to buy toys as she quickly grabbed the potion and put it in her waist. Then, she went ahead to the black gate by gliding through the air.
They defeated the orcs and wyvern smoothly as they practiced the final check of the radiating bottle, breath, the defense position, etc. Garm was a bit stiff at first, but he gradually grew accustomed to it and began to move like usual. Camille was attacking more fiercely than usual, but on the contrary, she was worried whether she would be able to exert the best of her fire power.
“I’m really sorry.”
Tsutomu tried to break the ice by saying that, but it was obvious that everyone went silent instead, so he apologized in the end. Camille bursted out laughing when she saw Tsutomu apologizing, probably because she was in high spirits.
[Garm already seems to be alright. Camille is quite in high spirits. Well, if she’s overdoing it, I could just use Medic to cancel her dragonification.]
As Tsutomu checked on the two’s condition, he applied Protect on Garm and set Haste up in the direction Camille was moving. Camille had been aware of the set up Haste and immediately stepped on it without waiting, so even if Tsutomu missed a bit, she would account for it.
Thus, after they defeated the group of Kanfagaroo, the black gate appeared by their sight. After asking Camille to check the surrounding whether there were any remaining monsters and Tsutomu’s mana had recovered, they decided to open the black gate.
“I’ve said these a lot of times yesterday, but I’ll confirm them for one last time.”
Tsutomu began to briefly explain about the strategies of fighting the fire dragon as he held a sandwich in his hand, which served as a light meal.
“I’ll make the first move by applying buffs and support skills; Protect, Haste, and Fly. After I finished doing so, the fire dragon would come out from the top of the cliff and approach us and usually spit out Breath. Following that, I’ll throw the radiating bottles and we’ll defend ourselves from its Breath using the fire attires made of red threads as we crouched down. When the fire dragon’s sight is blinded by the light, Camille will destroy the crystal on its forehead using an iron mallet. Soon after the fire dragon falls into the ground, we’ll continue fighting like usual.”
“You’ve stated this yesterday, but you’ll only throw the radiating bottle once, right?”
“Yes. So please ignore it if I shouted ‘Radiating bottle!’ for the second time.”
Tsutomu answered Camille’s question as he adjusted the radiating bottle’s position so that it could be taken out of the Magic Bag immediately.
“I don’t think this would happen, but in the unlikely event that the radiating bottle failed to operate well, I’ll have Camille take the lead. And if the dragon doesn’t spit Breath by then, I’ll wait for the next one.”
“You seem to be really confident, huh.”
“Nah, I’m just going to throw it before my eyes like I usually do. It’s going to be really scary, but I don’t think I’ll make any mistake with it.”
Tsutomu imagined the scene that would be projected in the monitor was the fire dragon getting startled by the radiating bottle and losing its sight for a moment, then the bottle exploded before it came back to its senses. But Tsutomu had gotten used to the pressure when he mistakenly casted the flying skills that strengthen and recover the enemies instead.
“It’s important to keep Garm alive. If you get seriously injured, please use the potion immediately. Because in the worst case scenario, you get killed, the aggro will immediately shift to us and we will get wiped out.”
“Yes, I understand.”
Garm nodded as he double checked the potion in his waist.
“Camille will turn into your dragon form like usual. If you want to stop yourself from attacking, just tell me and I’ll cast Medic to you. You could do whatever you want until that time comes. But only tell me to cast Medic on you only if you’re certain you want to stop the attack.”
“Okay. Leave it to me.”
Camille seemed unable to wait any longer, thus she held her huge sword on her back and unsheathed it as she replied. Tsutomu, however, felt a tiny bit of uneasiness seizing him as he reminded her about what she needed to be cautious of.
“You need not to kill the dragon quickly. Take note of the time before you decided to kill it. It’s useless to attack hastily.”
“Well, since it’s Camille, things will be okay. Alright then, since it’ll take quite a while before my mana recovered, let’s hydrate ourselves. Eat this banana, it’s good for digestion.”
Tsutomu threw the flasks and bananas to the two, then he took out fire attires made of red strings from the Magic Bag and put it on. After that, he sorted the things inside the Magic Bag again. There were radiating bottles, iron mallet, green potions, and blue potions.
Tsutomu’s Magic Bag was a high class one, so it’d immediately appear just by thinking about it. But then, Tsutomu had to repeatedly confirm the place where he could make it appear safely even when in time of emergency without panicking.
Now that his mana has been fully restored, Tsutomu turned around to take a look at the two of his teammates who were currently putting on the fire attire. Garm had a straight face, while Camille’s eyes were lightened up and blazing.
“Alright then, shall we go?”
Tsutomu quietly opened the black gate to the 60th floor.