Before the tutorial begins chapter 15

Side Quest 1 

Chapter 15: Al is a Really Good Person

 – Rusty Shrine Grounds

Leveling up in the fantasy RPG Dungeon Magia refers to spirits becoming stronger.

Spirits absorb experience from defeated enemies to become stronger. And Spirits also have events such as Awakening or Evolution

Spirits grow stronger, not humans – that really sums up the interspecies balance of power in Danmagi. 

The words spirit stone, spirit power, spirit arts-the core concepts of this world-almost always have the kanji for [spirit].

The so-called [Spirit Level] skill board system is also an example of this.

The skill board system, which is a growth system where you use the points you earn from leveling up to unlock boards, is such somewhat unique leveling systems.

It’s pretty mainstream these days, so most players have probably seen it at least once.

Not quite mainstream, but pretty common and usually well received – in cooking terms, it’s like curry nanban, not a staple, but still important.

The advantage of using the Skill Board system, is of course the diversification of character growth.

Instead of linear growth through standard leveling, a free growth system tailored to the character/player makes the joy of getting stronger a more personal thing.

Yes, freedom is the selling point of skill trees.

Focus on strong skills first, fill in from available nodes, specialize or balance, make meme builds for show – anything goes.

The freedom to adapt to your playstyle,

That’s the appeal, the flavor, the guts of the skill tree system.

And yet…!

“Don’t I get any freedom, damn it!”

Screaming like a dying man, I, Shimizu Kyoichiro, flew magnificently. 

Rolling over the ground illuminated by the white light of the Spiritual Power, I cried from the sharp pain in my lower abdomen.

I can’t breathe. My body is hot. My souls (tama) are critical.

Panting, I stare at the attacker with all the defiance I can muster.

What kind of world has a secret boss who uses crazy people for training, damn it!

“Ten seconds in the air, three point five seconds… Well done, master, that’s a new record,” said the secret boss aka Hymingreva Albion, stopwatch in hand, acting as if nothing had happened.

She looks like a white-haired supreme beauty, but in reality she’s an absolute zero drill sergeant who doesn’t bat an eye when she kicks her master in the crotch.

“You… there’s definitely something wrong with you. Why do you have to kick my balls (tama) for a new art training?”

“It’s simple logic. By holding your lower half, especially your man parts, hostage, you’ll be motivated to work harder, right?”

“I was already working hard without you having to do that!” 

“That may be true subjectively, but since I started doing this [Ball Busting Training], the duration of your art evocation has improved by about 170%. With such tangible results, I have no intention of stopping this training.”

A real demon was standing there. 

No, a devil.

Or rather, Demon King or Hell Fiend would be more accurate.

Anything goes if it produces results? This is no S&M game! And what kind of training involves kicking balls? Are you crazy, forcing that filthy element?

But the secret boss didn’t care one bit when I cried and appealed to reason.

Instead, she leisurely pulled out an egg sandwich and began munching.

With no convenient savior in sight on the grounds of the shrine that had been her stronghold,

I had no choice but to endure this direct hit from hell until she was satisfied.

“Damn… how did it get like this?”

To escape the insane pain, I turned my thoughts to the events that started it all.

——————————————————————

– Shimizu House Living Room (Two Weeks Earlier) 

“Congratulations, Master. You’ve leveled up,” Al said as if she was reading the results of a social game.

It was the day after we solved various problems while exploring the  Dungeon.

Apparently, I had actually leveled up at the same time I defeated the Death Guy, but because I had to exchange Spirit Stones and answer questions from upstairs, Al had waited a day for me to recover from my horribly exhausted state.

I thought at the time, what a considerate boss.

Although it’s true that her consideration made it easy for her to kick me in the balls later. Well, I’ll leave my lower body tragedy aside for now.

Anyway, when I heard this report, I jumped for joy. 

The sense of accomplishment was part of it, of course, but more than anything, I was happy to be getting stronger.

The benefits of leveling up are on a completely different scale than training muscles or skills.

This opportunity to gain massive amounts of powerful exclusive skills and ability bonuses was my first ever, so naturally I was ecstatic beyond my years.

This meant that I could freely choose from the numerous skills and ability bonuses.

Looking at my growth plan and saying “I’ll take this, no, maybe that” just feels too good!

All right! Leveling up is the best!

…Looking back, I was in what could only be called high at the time. A euphoric airplane flying joyfully through the sky of elation. 

It could probably fly to the sun on tension alone, with announcements like [Maximum Tension Please]. Probably.

“This is good news for you, Master. Now, please apply for the [Suspend Time] skill, the increased Spirit capacity, the increased Spirit regeneration, and the increased supply over time. I’ll approve it right away, so let’s have a snack after. Oh, and I’ll be rejecting any other skill or ability bonus nominations, so don’t take it personally.

But this euphoric plane soon crashed. 

Like Icarus flying too close to the sun, it was recklessly shot down, burning up my tension.

The vaunted Skill Board choices were forced into a single option.

That’s far too avant-garde a setting…

Naturally, I objected.

YOU ARE READING STOLEN TRANSLATION. READ THE ORIGINAL TRANSLATION AT GADGETIZEDPANDA.COM

Giving recommendations is fine. But limiting the choices at the outset just because you have approval authority is questionable. 

The secret boss then pulled out a cookie jar from somewhere and reluctantly opened her mouth.

“Sigh…Well, even though it’s a waste of time, let’s hear the master’s opinion for the sake of appearances.”

And so began our Skill Board debate…or rather, Al’s Domination Tournament (omitted due to extensive logic chopping).

“(munching cookie) If you acquire this skill, can you actually use it, Master? With its extremely narrow scope, even if you use it, the benefit will be minimal. 

On the other hand, [Stopping Time] can be used defensively and will be indispensable for clearing the tenth floor. Let me ask you the other way around, without this skill, how exactly are you going to get through the bottleneck?”

“(Nibbling Senbei) To obtain the [Restart] skill, you have to go this way and defeat more than seven enemies that are stronger than the mutant you defeated. 

In the dungeon where Elixirs hidden, the only one who can fulfill the [One Body] requirement with the necessary experience is the last guardian. Which plan is more efficient? You understand, don’t you, Master?”

“Master, are you familiar with the term [Inverse Ability Value Correction]? Yes, that’s right. It’s when you have to pay extra to acquire a weak ability. 

For your ability value tendencies, abilities related to direction and range, especially [Range], would be subject to inverse correction. Allocating benefits to abilities that are subject to inverse correction means that the amount is subtracted from other abilities. 

Specifically, at your current level, giving benefits to [Range] would mean giving up [Time-stop] and other bonuses. In addition, what you get from benefits is [Corrections], not [Enhancements]. Of course, the increase value depends on your stats, so it will be ridiculous. 

…Did you think I would allow such a wasteful allocation?”

Geez, overkill much? I even ended up apologizing for some reason. This is supposed to be an “equal” contract, it makes me want to laugh through my nose.

——————————————————————

– Rusty Shrine Grounds Again

“And just because the [Time Stop] summoning time I got after all that crap doesn’t increase, you’re kicking my balls. …Today’s violent heroine hate train is leaving the station. No, even violent heroines wouldn’t unfairly kick balls like that. What the hell, [if you don’t want your balls kicked, block it with art]. It’s not that easy, these are my… Pfft…haha…hahaha…”

Tears rolled down my cheeks.

Not because my balls hurt. Although they did, what hurt more was my heart.

What am I doing? Why are my balls being kicked?

Because I’m weak. A pathetic, ball-less piece of trash who gets beaten up by the tutorial sub-boss and the protagonists. 

I want to be strong. Strong enough to not even change my expression when I get kicked in the balls.

“Oh-ho,”

While I was pathetically wallowing in self-pity with a heated monologue, the secret boss walked over, holding her chin in her right hand (her left hand brought an egg sandwich to her mouth. Not a single opening).

“Are you going to start again?”

“No, I just remembered something…”

A shiver ran down my spine when I heard that. A girl’s “idea” to take hostages by kicking balls can’t be anything decent.

“Let me get this straight. If you try anything more painful on me… I’ll wet myself right here out of spite.”  

“Then I will disable this function before you can make a mess – just kidding. Please don’t panic and try to escape.”

Her slender arms grabbed me by the scruff as I desperately tried to escape with all my strength and soul.

Crap. I’m dead.

“Calm down master. I won’t do anything painful today. Here, I’ll lend you my lap, so rest a little.”

Al sat down Seiza-style and pointed to her own soft-looking thighs. Thighs. …Thighs?

“What are you up to, Al… No way, are you telling me to put my head on your lap…?”

“Yes.”  

“So you can punch me in the face when I can’t move?”

“I’m not going to do anything that unreasonable.”

Don’t talk about unreasonable after kicking my balls endlessly!

I tried my best to threaten her by showing my teeth.

I don’t want any more pain. Ow, no.

“Hmm. It seems I’ve caused more mental stress than I expected. At this rate, it may affect future training.”

And so Al, holding my head, laid me down on her lap. Somehow the egg sandwich was gone.   

“I’m going to do emergency psychiatric care.”

“You basta–ghgh!!”

Ngh, I couldn’t get the next words out.

What the hell, what is this? It feels stupidly good.

Soft, smooth, and slightly cool.

Even though it is only [Thigh], the texture is like a high-end memory foam pillow with a cooling cover.

“This is a [Reward]. Up until now, I’ve only given you fear. From now on, I’ll prepare rewards according to your training results and thoroughly implement a curriculum to make you move more obediently, Master.”

More than saying this is brainwashing, Al’s hand gently stroked my head.

I realized it too late. For some reason, she has the unconditional goodwill of the Shimizu clan. 

Receiving a lap pillow and a head massage from such a being was a foregone conclusion. 

I would never escape. 

“For this training, how about increasing the duration of the lap pillow by ten seconds, the ear cleaning by twenty seconds, and the hug by thirty seconds? What do you think, master?” 

“Yeah, I got it,” I replied vaguely. 

I couldn’t really judge. I just had a vague feeling that Al was suggesting very good things. 

“I feel a little sleepy,” I murmured.

“Yes, sleep well, master,” she replied gently. 

As my thoughts faded and my consciousness drifted into slumber, I was filled with a profound sense of fulfillment, like soaking in a hot spring.

Ahh, I no longer understood anything, but maybe Al was a really great person after all. 

“Master’s mental maintenance is complete. Yes, this method will work,” she confirmed. 

Huh.


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