After four days, Tsutomu’s party had advanced from floor 21 to floor 41.
“Whoa! The scent of the ocean!”
While Tsutomu was captivated by the scent that he hadn’t smelled in a long time, Amy and Garm were taking in the emerald color of the sea.
Garm and Amy went on to say that they’d already reached floor 40 at their level, but they didn’t think they could do it that fast with Tsutomu.
As opposed to the grasslands, the swamps they went through also carried the hazards of abnormal terrain. This meant that Amy and Garm would be more vulnerable to monsters. It was at this point that they thought Tsutomu would start dying and they wouldn’t be able to progress.
In fact, there were many parties for which the swamp was the extent of their progress. Poor poison control, bottomless pits, poor visibility, and other reasons lead to this. Many an adventurer had fallen to these swamps.
As such, when Garm had had a bit of a tough time in the swamps, he steadily gathered knowledge on the area and pushed forward up to level 40.
However, Tsutomu used his prior game knowledge and excess gold to get through the area quickly and easily. He was taken by surprise by the swamp once, and only once.
Besides, the party lineup they had of tank, attacker, and healer was well-suited for the area. Garm, with his high VIT, would tank hits from as many monsters as possible, Amy would pick them off, and Tsutomu would do his best to support and heal Garm.
The heals that Tsutomu cast would consistently hit Garm, and never the monsters. Even when poisoned, due to Tsutomu’s healing, status effects could be easily shrugged off. And if Garm used Combat Cry, as Tsutomu suggested, he would draw all the monsters to himself and leave none targeting Tsutomu.
Rarely, some monsters would ignore Garm and focus on Tsutomu, but this was nothing that Amy and Garm couldn’t handle, if Tsutomu stalled for time using his offensive skills. Ranged attacks from monsters were avoided with ease, and healing was rarely needed for those.
The tools in the magic bag, along with potions, were adequate, and as such, Amy was able to focus purely on attacking because Garm could defend and draw attention effectively. The party broke through the swamp in two days.
Even in the wilderness, where undead monsters started appearing, Tsutomu was well-equipped for the situation. They continued to advance steadily.
Tsutomu was currently at level 20. Garm and Amy, who were at level 40, thought subconsciously that the later floors would challenge Tsutomu, and that he wouldn’t be able to do them. And yet, the impossible was done before their very eyes.
The highest Amy and Garm had gone was level 49. They both got stuck around the beach floors. Later on, Amy became an appraiser, and Garm became a guild official.
“Touching this would be fine, right?” Tsutomu gestured while pointing to the sea. Garm and Amy felt more at ease.
“Garm-san? Amy-san? Alright, sorry, let’s stop here for today.”
As the three came to an agreement and calmed down, they exited through a black gate behind them and came back out of a similar gate in the guild.
“Ah, great work.”
Arriving at the guild gate, Tsutomu was greeted by a gatekeeper dragonewt, who quietly admired him. Most people who came back were respawners in flax-colored clothes, so for Tsutomu to come back like this, especially with two guild members, was a big deal.
“Sorry for bothering the two of you, but I’ll take a rest tomorrow and the day after that. Thanks for doing this for me.”
Tsutomu grabbed a high-quality medium sized magic stone and broke off from the rest. The remaining two people felt a bit disappointed, watching the magic stone go.
Garm and Amy locked gazes.
“Hey, this is crazy! A party with three people? Finishing the 40th floor in four days? With me only dying once? It’s seriously unreal! What? When did you get this strong? Hey! Answer me!”
As Amy came closer to Garm with the tension of lightning, her long white hair brushed against his shoulder. Garm shrunk back, and his ears closed up involuntarily.
“When did you get deeper into the dungeon? You’ve been gatekeeping for so long!”
“My highest level is the same as yours, and my peak will probably be floor 60… same as you.”
“Oh, then maybe I’m the one who got stronger… eh, whatever. It’s pretty unclear.”
Amy got off Garm, leaving him to exhale and fix his dishevelled black hair.
“By process of elimination, it’s Tsutomu who did this.”
“Well, the flying heals are great, but potions are more effective, right? Aren’t those potions the most expensive in the forest shop? I haven’t used them, though.”
Garm told Amy to shut up. Amy glared daggers at him and told him to shut his own mouth.
“Puppy is amazing.”
“Ugh, this is stupid! It’s because you’re tanky. Even though so many monsters target you, you don’t die. Even though Tsutomu and the potions help, you’re still doing great!”
“Well, how about you? Have you been poisoned?”
“Shut up, idiot!”
Amy turned around while narrowing her golden eyes. Garm, disheartened by Amy saying this, put his hand on his chin.
“That’s right, it’s hard to understand. Even though I did have potions, I didn’t use a single one. Tsutomu was the one who healed me.”
“Eh? Isn’t Tsutomu’s MND still D+?”
“Maybe there’s a potion for that. The flying heal is pretty effective.”
“…hmm. I use potions though, are you really going to rely fully on Tsutomu?”
As Amy spoke, Garm’s expression darkened, as if he was angry.
“Don’t get so angry. Don’t you think Tsutomu is biting off more than he can chew? Being at the beach at such a low level is unheard of.”
“I guess you should experience it straight up instead of me telling you. Next time we explore the dungeon, you’ll tank.”
Garm pointed at Amy. Amy made a face as though she was in trouble.
“Tank? I’m not good at that, it’s troublesome.”
“Tsutomu says that the tank is important, though, and all I have going for me is a high VIT. I don’t know if he’ll allow it, but do it anyway. That way you’ll know what it’s like.”
“Don’t get too cocky. I’ll be like you before you know it~!”
Having said that, Amy turned her back to Garm. “Wow, this is great quality!” she said, cradling a magic stone in her hands. Garm drooped his shoulders while watching Amy, who was seemingly engrossed in the stone.
A huge monitor stood amid the city square, livestreaming expeditions into the dungeon. Various people, from nobles to beggars, stood there. Stalls were set up. It was like a market.
There are smaller monitors, too, but the huge monitor was the one that gathered the most attention. The people called it the First Unit. It is unique in the sense that it broadcasts the expedition of the team who has progressed the furthest.
Two large monitors also broadcasted the 2nd and 3rd best parties, and mid-sized monitors broadcasted until the 10th best party, on a hierarchical system. There were still people watching these ones, of course, but they never got the attention that the huge monitor got.
In these circumstances, a man sitting on a bench eats a firm pork skewer. His hair is black, and he is enthralled by the monitors. His thin eyes are slightly opened, and the tall bridge of his nose is covered in tuna sauce.
Tsutomu watched the monitors as they broadcasted people going through level 30. He took notes – most people in that area ranged from levels 1 to 30.
[Poison spider’s string can be burnt with flames] Tsutomu thought.
Tsutomu’s Live Dungeon knowledge had been a huge boon to him. Enemy weaknesses and attack methods have been more or less the same. Though the maps weren’t entirely similar, they did share some common points.
However, some cases existed in which the monsters would act differently from how they did in the game. Such actions threw a wrench in Tsutomu’s plans.
Even the goblins and kobolds confirmed this and raised the suspicion that game knowledge might not be enough.
Now since Garm and Amy were excellent at what they did, this wasn’t much of a problem,. However, they were only temporary party members on loan from the guild. The Lucky Boy Tsutomu would have to adapt to this.
This period of loaning was a liability to both financial assets and time. Tsutomu wanted to use this effectively and spent most of the week researching the dungeon and exploring, with a few holidays.
Tsutomu, who had just finished his notes, returned to the guild with a gloomy feeling.
Once entering the guild, he’d hear the usual shouts of “lucky.” He’d already gotten used to this, after 17 days, so he went on straight ahead to the guild reception desk.
While trying to leave the guild after filing the notes he had made, he heard a voice beckoning to him from in front of the black gate.
“W-why do I only get the low-tier stones?”
“What’s new? That’s what healers get.”
“It’s enough to stay at a hotel, too!”
“You didn’t see the share rates in advance, you trash.”
A young teen dressed in brown clothes and three men that looked like adults. Tsutomu sighed and decided that things like the conversation were something that he’d need to fix in the future.
“And guys! I haven’t recovered my equipment! Please pay it back!”
“Huh? You died, too bad. The party has been dissolved, get lost!”
“Hey, everyone, what are you doing?”
As the guild staff member spoke, the man rubbed his hand and lowered his head.
“This demon is just looking for cheap rewards. Forget him.”
“Those guys… are jealous!”
“Get out. All of you.”
When the guild staff brought out the paper and needles, the four explorers placed their blood on the paper. The guild staff then brought out the status cards of the four and compared them.
“The percentage of the rewards is 30% for each attacker and 10% for the healer. You can keep the magic stones you have earned.”
The guild official checked the status cards of all the members when the three men and the teen received magic stones. And as the number of magic stones was confirmed, the status cards were returned to the receptionist.
“Looking at the status card, you can see the number of monsters killed. Comparing that number with the number of magic stones you got, the numbers check out.”
“H-hey, wait! How about my equipment?”
“In the dungeon, objects that don’t touch monsters will disappear naturally if left on the ground or wall for 30 minutes. If you were in battle when you were dead, there is a possibility that they won’t be picked up within that time. You’re responsible for your own equipment.”
“That’s stupid! Do your job properly! The guild is already receiving tons of money as is!”
“…that’s not my job. It’s just common sense in the dungeon.”
“This is unfair!”
The explorers laughed at the young man, left with just scrap stones. The young man sighed while looking back.
There are surprisingly many people who become adventurers after being inspired by the monitor, without first doing research. Such people are easy for veterans to scam. As such, it is the burden of the guild to stay neutral in disputes like this. The guild wasn’t philanthropic, but Tsutomu thought it was unwise to register for a status card without knowing anything at all either.
[what a disgusting way to do things…]
Tsutomu, after having overheard the conversation between the insects, headed back to the market below the monitors, thinking about that moment all the while.