Before the tutorial begins chapter 30

Chapter Thirty – The Gathering Storm

The call reached me a week after the end of our first adventure.

It was a week after our first adventure that I received this phone call.

[This is Kirishima from the external affairs office of the Adventurers’ Guild Branch 336. Forgive the intrusion, but is this Kyoichiro Shimizu?]

A woman named Kirishima said that a “client” of ours had come to the Eternal Darkness Dungeon.

In very polite language, she asked me to come right away, fully equipped, if I was free.

I hurriedly got ready and went to Eternal Darkness, although I didn’t know who the “customer” was.

They seemed to be someone high enough to summon us adventurers. I hope they’re not too annoying…

City of Sakura Dungeon Town – Dungeon #336 [Eternal Darkness] Reception Room

“Yo, Kyoichiro.”

Guided by the staff, I entered the Eternal Darkness Reception Room to find the former guest relaxing on a black leather sofa.

“Oh, just you Haruka?”

“Yes. She told me to wait here for a while.”

Haruka Aono answers, munching on crackers and tea, enjoying herself.

“Did you get any details about this ‘customer’?”

“None. You, Kyoichiro?”

“I’m clueless too.”

I sit down on the black leather sofa and take a breather. Oh, nice and comfy.

“I wonder which big shot called us.”

“What if it’s ‘that person’? Your idol, right?”

“No way…right?”

Haruka quickly corrects her posture and swallows a cracker. Pretty transparent.

But we didn’t know that at the time – my joking guess wasn’t far off.

Excuse me.

Excuse me.

A determined male voice accompanies the opening of the reception room door.

It was a dignified, gray-haired man.

Spiked hair, jet black trench coat, steely eyes like forged blades piercing everything they see.

…Hey, no kidding, this is a super big shot!

I thought the flag had been raised with the incident on the tenth floor, but so soon!

I can’t believe he came himself.

“James Szilard.”

“You know about me?”

“What City of Sakura adventurer hasn’t heard of the great James Szilard?”

“Huh? Who’s that?” I stuff crackers into the mouth of the babbling Heavenly Wolf and praise this man of esteemed status.

“The Clanmaster of one of the Five Great Clans, Blazing Iceblade, and the preeminent pyrokinesis user – it’s an honor to meet you!”

I bow my head and offer a handshake. Szilard-san grabs it kindly.

“I’m the one who should be thanking you. Even though I forced you to come on such short notice, you came all this way. Thank you Kyoshi, Kyoji…ah, my apologies. Can you tell me your names?”

“Yes, I’m Kyoichiro Shimizu.”

“I’m Haruka Aono.”

“Right, Kyoichiro and Haruka. Although I must have heard your names many times lately, I’m afraid they’ve slipped my mind. Please forgive my rudeness.”

The gray-haired gentleman apologized good-naturedly.

Ah, he has that original James Szilard charm.

Though he’s shrouded in a sharp aura like a naked blade, he’s actually thoughtful, caring, and considerate – truly a beautiful Ikemen. The main characters are just built differently.

He’s a real handsome guy who is thoughtful, considerate and attentive to his friends. ………No, no, don’t lose yourself, Kyoichiro.

“So Szilard-san, what is your business with us today?”

“No need to be so formal. I just want to talk a little.”

Talk, huh?

What surprises are in store?

But contrary to my fears,

the meeting was quite friendly.

We enjoyed tea and sweets, with light chatter here and there.

Mostly, Szilard-san listened while we talked.

The big topic of conversation was, of course, [Eternal Darkness].

Tales of our adventures on the tenth and fifteenth floors were a hit, with enough talk to make an hour seem like minutes.

Next was weapons – another crowd pleaser.

He especially liked Haruka’s [Soukyu], eagerly listening to her explanation, his eyes shining like a child’s.

When Haruka reciprocated his enthusiasm by showing the bare blade, his reaction was amazing.

He got so excited that he fell into his native tongue.

Szilard-san was just too cute, all flustered. Ahh, the charm of Gap Moe.

“So before we reached the tenth floor, we met some of your Blazing Iceblade members…”

“I heard about you two from him as well. That tongue-tied man rarely praises anyone, so I was curious, but meeting you today convinced me.

You two are truly impressive.”

“Th-thank you very much!”

I humbly downplayed it, but inside my excitement was through the roof.

The James Szilard was complimenting us rookies!? One of the leaders of the Five Great Clans was praising us! How could I stay calm?



Haruka nibbled silently on a cracker, looking vaguely displeased, but somehow a little frightened.

“Something wrong with the snacks, Haruka? Should I order more?”

“No, no, they’re delicious and I’m grateful to be able to really talk to an amazing person!

It’s just…”

The Celestial Wolf tilts her head, seemingly struggling to find harmless words.

“How long will this farce go on?”

With a snap! At that moment, I definitely heard the air freeze with a chilling sound.

“Whoa, what insolence…”

“Oh, my mistake! Totally wrong word choice.

Huh, huh, you saw through it? Just kidding? Opening act? Anyway, isn’t it time to get to the point?”

Damn, trying to smooth things over only made it worse.

I hurried to bow and apologize for Haruka’s mistake, but Szilard-san gently stopped me.

“No need to worry. I actually find her frankness quite refreshing. You are blessed with good companions, Kyoichiro.”

He turns to the psychopathic girl who just spewed rudeness and asks:

“Have I offended you in any way, Miss?”

“No, no, I have no complaints about Szilard-san!

It’s more that since you’re a good person, it makes me wonder…”

Mumbling, she fumbles her argument, choosing her words carefully to avoid further insult.

Ahh, she’s kind of cute that way.

“You don’t seem like the type to boss the staff around to summon us, then force small talk by acting all high and mighty…”

Or not cute at all, spewing that drivel. Maybe I should gag her.

“And most of all…”

Picking up her beloved sword leaning against the wall, she shows a side worthy of an incomparable swordsman.

“After forcing us to bring equipment, there’s no way this is just talk, right?”

Exactly reasonable arguments.

If his only goal was friendly communication, there would be no need to make us bring equipment.

However, making us bring [Ekkezax] and [Soukyu] means…

“Hahaha, I see! So that’s your type, Haruka. Then I have no choice. I was hoping to chat with you two longer, but it’s not very gentlemanly to keep a restless woman waiting.”

Staring at us with the eyes of a bird of prey, but with a voice as clear as a babbling brook, the supreme pyrokinesis user opened negotiations.

“If you don’t mind, how about crossing swords with me for a while?”

Dungeon City City of Sakura – Dungeon #336 [Eternal Darkness] Simulation Battle Room VIP Area

Half of the battles in a dungeon RPG are real battles.

Real battles, that is, fierce battles in which living bodies fight and kill each other.

Most bosses use this combat format.

Well, of course. Swinging weapons and firing sorcery recklessly in a city would be criminal behavior, unacceptable for anyone but villains.

Now, the other half, the more “dreamlike” combat format that provides a place for adventurers to go all out without hurting each other, is what’s important here. And that is

“Oh! The legendary simulation battles!”

Eyes twinkling, Haruka looks around the simulation battle room.

Haruka looks around the simulation battle room with a twinkle in her eyes.

The cocoon-shaped pods connected to thick cables arranged at regular intervals have a vaguely cyberpunk vibe.

“This is your first time with simulation battles, right?”

Szilard-san nods and smiles at us. Damn, every expression looks cool on him!

“Simulation battles are virtual battles fought by entering these [white pods]. Using elaborately scanned bio data, your avatar fights in a virtual space. Hmm, think of it as an immersive VR game with a high sense of presence.

It’s all a dream-like virtual reality, so no matter how much you get hurt, your real body remains intact. Show me the extent of your talents.”

Getting a VR game explanation in a fantasy world with spirits and adventurers, ah, that anything-goes feeling is so dungeon RPG-like. The genre has been a chaotic mess since the first game.

“Just wear the pod headsets. I’ll take care of the detailed settings, so you two just relax. Now, any questions before we begin?”

I raise my hand politely.

“That was so natural, but why exactly do we have to fight?”

“What do you mean why, Kyoichiro?! There’s no reason to fight! If you want to go, go! That’s what it means to be human!”

“Shut up.”

Not everyone is as crazy about fighting as you are.

There’s no way someone of Szilard-san’s stature would fight us beginners for no reason.

A mock battle with a leader of the Five Great Clans could fetch a fortune.

He wouldn’t give such a valuable, rare experience to newcomers he just met for free. Preposterous. Even if the world turned upside down, it’s impossible.

“We are neither clan members nor affiliates, so I see no benefit for Szilard-san to fight us. If you wanted to destroy newcomers, you wouldn’t choose a place as visible as the VIP area.”

“How about accepting that I invited you two here on a whim after our conversation? Does that argument satisfy you?”

“It doesn’t. We were instructed to come equipped. In other words, you planned to fight us from the beginning, right?”


Stroking his chin as if thinking about something, Szilard-san looks up as if an idea came to him and declares:

“Very well, let’s do it:

I have considered monopolizing the profits from Eternal Darkness. If I could send my beloved companions, where only two have passed the tenth floor, it could be very profitable.

So I have lured you here to make a wager.

If I defeat you, as a reward for my victory, I’ll force you to join my clansmen in conquering the tenth floor again.

Fuhahahaha! What a despicable plan I’ve devised!”

Szilard-san laughs heartily from his belly.

Yeah, no way you just made that up. It would fall apart if we just refused.

“Kyoichiro, I think no matter how much we grill him, he’ll just keep on talking.”

“I know that, but…”

In the slightest chance that his outrageous story was true, our monopoly situation could be ruined.

So sorry, but…

“My apologies, Szilard-san, but we cannot accept such a one-sided bet, no matter how normal the battle…”

“You said you needed an artilleryman to capture the fifteenth floor.”

These unexpected words cut me off.

Artilleryman. Among the ghost-wielding ranged types, they specialize in high firepower and long range.

As Szilard-san says, they’re exactly the personnel we want.

“If you can defeat me, I’ll transfer one of our clan’s top artillerymen to your group. How about it?”


I blanked for a second. Calm down, don’t make any rash decisions!

Carefully, coolly, gather and analyze information while evaluating risks and returns.

“An artilleryman,” you say. May I ask for more details, if possible?”

“Of course. I can at least guarantee that he’s my equal in power and range.”

At these words, I could hardly believe my ears.

An artilleryman to rival Szilard-san? That’s undeniably top-notch!

Damn it, he sees right through us.

I want – no, I need – someone of Szilard-san’s caliber to defeat Kamaku, let alone the final floor boss.

Strings attached?

Shady deals?

Sorry, but I can’t worry about that.

In fact, we may have to take certain risks to aggressively recruit him in order to have any hope of obtaining this miraculous cure-all.

Regardless of Szilard-san’s affiliation, binding contracts should prevent any outrageous betrayals, and Szilard-san himself doesn’t seem to be the type of traitorous strategist.

If we win, I’m sure he’ll bring the artilleryman with him.

Then we would be one giant step closer to the coveted universal medicine…

“That look tells me you’re motivated now, Kyoichiro.”

“As expected from a Five Clans master… you really know how to manipulate people.”

Cold sweat runs down my neck, but my heart burns with excitement at this crisis.

Losing and facing an invasion, winning and gaining a master – damn, this is making me nervous!

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