My attack stat is negligible, so I can't help but rely on critical hits to succeed!
The job that Eryn had picked out was a standard escorting service by someone looking for help gathering materials. The location was apparently not far outside of the city, so it would be straightforward and easy. Eryn and I took a quick trip through the marketplace to gather a few necessities before heading to the requestor's location. While Eryn checked off the supplies we would need, I suddenly got distracted by a booth that contained a bunch of bizarre, but somewhat familiar objects. Taking one in my hand, I examined it from every angle.
"Hello sir, are you interested in that 'Light Box' in your hand?" The merchant questioned.
"Light Box, you say?"
"You put mana in this plate, and light magic activates. Whatever you're pointing at is recreated into a black and white picture."
That's totally a camera, isn't it? I inject a small bit of mana into that part, and it flashes once. A single piece of paper comes out, showing a crude silhouette of the shopkeeper. It looked more like a pencil shade drawing than a photograph, but it was still rather amusing to see.
"Ooh, that's neat! Is this one of those random creations made by Katsys?" Eryn walks over and sees the picture.
"Who is that?" I questioned.
"Yes, this is made by Katsys, known to be quite the inventor of magic tools. She never really shows her face much in public though. Just long enough to drop off some wares that she's made in exchange for some coins. Apparently, quite a few of the magic tools she's made has been copied by other people and spread amongst the general public. But there are just as many weird inventions that end up being just a source of amusement without any real value. Occasionally though, she comes up with something great that makes us merchants drool with excitement. After all, you never know when the next big hit may come!"
That's interesting. Maybe I should look more into this when I have the time. Though who am I kidding? I doubt this world has something like video games for people to waste their time on. Having finished shopping, we headed to the location of our client, an apothecary.
Entering the front door of the apothecary, my nose was instantly assaulted by various unfamiliar smells. Shelves were lined with various herbs and remedies. I have no way of knowing what any of them were without the help of a shop menu.
Eryn approached the shopkeeper, who was a middle-aged woman. "Hello, we are here for the request."
"Oh, that's a rare occasion for a magic knight to take on such a simple request. I was running low on Healing Grass and Mellow Spores. Let me fetch my gear." The shopkeeper got up and went to the back room.
We would be essentially taking the shopkeeper to the forest outside of the city and keeping her safe from monsters as she collected what she needed. Basically, a standard task for any beginner level adventurer. It seems to be rather uncommon for magic knights, who were mostly nobility, to take on such a low paying request.
Heading to the forest on our cart, we stopped a few times to fight some slimes that were blocking our path. While I was now able to dodge all their attacks, the damage I dealt remained the same. It turned out that the fastest way to take them down consisted of flailing at them with both knives like I was trying to do a drumroll…not the prettiest sight. Eryn, on the other hand, was able to take each one down with a single kick. It was like watching someone kick a water balloon, which exploded on contact. After a few sessions of this, my arms were already starting to feel a bit heavy like I had played a whole concert. Unfortunately, I had not gained enough experience yet to level up before we approached the edge of the forest.
In the forest, Eryn was more on guard. The monsters here were apparently tougher, so I had to be especially vigilant due to my low level. Encountering a trio of kobolds soon after entering, I brandished my knife and tried my best to distract one of them while Eryn faced the other two. Meanwhile, the shopkeeper hid in the cart. As the kobold in front of me attacked, I was easily able to keep up since its movements were slower than Pietro's. However, thrusting my knife into its body was like picking at an ice block. The kobold just shrugged it off and continued its assault. Just then, a sword flashed by and cleaved the kobold's head clean off.
"Thanks for the assist." Eryn winked at me.
Apparently, it did not take long at all for Eryn to take down the other two. Even though I had participated in the fight, no experience points were allotted to me since my kill count was zero. Leveling up effectively seemed to be even more troublesome than I had thought. I couldn't reap the spoils from leeching off a strong team since Party Exp didn't exist. After a few more encounters like this, where I simply served as a distraction while Eryn took them down one by one with her sword, we finally reached a stream where the shopkeeper told us to stop.
Grabbing her bags and a sickle, she hopped off and started gathering plants. Since it was already a little after noon, it was a good time for me to start preparing lunch. After gathering some kindling, I tried to start a fire, but my candle-like flame magic wasn't sufficient to ignite it.
"Eryn! Can I get a hand here?" I called to her.
Eryn, who was standing by the shopkeeper, nodded once and created a fireball in her hand. She sent it drifting in the air to where my woodpile was, and it caught fire in an instant.
"How handy." I sighed. Who needs boy scout training when magic exists?
Giving my knife a few strokes on the whetting stone bracer, I got a cutting board out and diced up some ingredients, throwing them in a pot of water afterwards. The menu for today – bean and veggie soup with bread. Meat would've been great, but it doesn't last without a magic fridge. While we could hunt for some, Eryn would probably end up having to do all the work. Well, I'll just have to spice it up. Luckily, the seasonings in this world weren't all that different so I more or less knew what to use.
By the time the food was done, the shopkeeper had returned with several sacks full of medicinal herbs. She tossed it all into the cart as she and Eryn came by the fire. Handing them a bowl of soup and some bread, we all started eating. When the shopkeeper inquired why I had gone with them, I made up some story about being a traveling chef that needed Eryn's help to get around. It was less complicated than my actual situation.
"I was worried when you couldn't fight worth a damn, but at least you know how to please an empty stomach. I'm starting to understand why the two of you offered to help me with such a simple request. Training, I take it?" The shopkeeper started opening up a bit to me.
"Er…Thanks, I guess you can call it that. I'm still pretty unfamiliar with this world."
"Good luck becoming a great chef that travels the world for ingredients. If I'm still around by the time you get back, treat me to some of your cooking."
I laughed at that statement. At this rate, even that would be a challenge. It's not like I was the main character from a Shonen Jump manga…as much as I wanted to be.
After lunch, the shopkeeper continued foraging for more plants while Eryn and I followed along. Along the way, the shopkeeper would point out various edible plants, which I collected some for myself. I made mental notes of all the advice she gave, including ways that various plants could be used to make herbal brews. It would be useful if we ended up going on long trips, as there was a possibility of running low on supplies why traveling.
Eventually, we found ourselves in front of a large patch of fungi. It felt a bit like Wonderland as some of the mushrooms were as big as us. While the shopkeeper was hunting around for Mellow Spores, I poked around at some of the mushrooms. Maybe the shopkeeper will know which ones were edible. As my knife dug into a certain shroom that was as tall as me, it suddenly shrieked and started moving on its own! Too surprised to understand what was going on, I didn't notice that a spore cloud had been released around it.
"Get away!" Eryn collided into me as I was knocked back several feet away.
As Eryn took the brunt of the spore cloud, she fell to the ground and struggled to prop herself up.
"Paralysis gas. If I can just…" Eryn muttered as she tried to reach for her dagger, but she was unable to reach it.
Meanwhile, the giant mushroom monster had turned around and appeared to be hostile. Instinctively, I jumped in front of Eryn to fend off its attacks.
"Don't! Its level is too high for you!" Eryn yelled.
As the monster swung a tendril at me, I moved my knife to block it. However, the impact was so heavy, the knife bent backwards and broke. The tendril impacted me across the chest, knocking me to the ground. My vision blurred for a moment as I desperately tried to get back up while coughing from the damage. Though I was stunned, the impact wasn't as bad as those I received from Pietro. It was also slower, so I really should have dodged instead of taking it head-on. However, my knife was now warped, and my only other option was the dinky paring knife. Seeing no other choice, I yanked it out of its sleeve and dashed towards the monster, who had turned its attention away from me to Eryn.
"Dammit! What kind of chef gets beat up by a freaking mushroom!" I yelled as I furiously stabbed at the monster with the little knife.
The thing slowly turned around as if a fly had been buzzing around it and finally tried to swat me. Easily dodging away, I sought to buy enough time for Eryn to recover.
"Hey Mushroom! Get over here so I can serve you on my pizza!" I had no idea what I was saying, but taunting it seemed to draw its attention.
As I continued to lead it away from Eryn, I kept stabbing at it while dodging its blows. Soon, I was starting to slow down. Eryn still had not recovered.
"Why did my opponent have to be an oversized vegetable?"
As soon as those words left me, I had a thought. Why was I able to cut the radish that Pietro swung at me? If I were hit by a radish in my world, wouldn't it just snap in half? Yet, the impact was as strong as the blow I received from this mushroom monster. I couldn't even dent the radish during the test, yet I cleaved it in two at the end? What am I missing? Does this world behave differently than mine?
I changed how I gripped my knife. Up until now, I had been fighting things like I was swinging a dagger. But my cutting technique in the kitchen was different…I had chalked it up to being rusty, but there was something undoubtedly strange about how objects responded in this world that was different than mine.
As I got close to the monster again, I brought my paring knife to its body. Instead of slashing at it like before, the tip of the knife traced across its body and slipped off. Not there. I tried again. Not there either. Once more! Finally, I felt the knife dip slightly into the flesh of the monster. Reflexively, I flicked the knife with one quick motion as the knife appeared to glide smoothly through its body.
With half of the support of its stem severed, the weight of the mushroom cap caused it to snap off, as the mushroom monster gave one final groan.
Eryn, who had watched the entire exchange, was just as visibly surprised as me.
"Ehhh?" The shopkeeper poked her head from behind a mushroom.
'Where the hell had you been this whole time!?'...was what I wanted to yell until she handed me a piece of paper with some powder.
"Give this to the lady. Orally."
My irritation immediately subsided as I quickly walked over to Eryn and tapped the powder into her mouth. Within a minute, she started regaining feeling in her body as she shakily picked herself up.
"I'm okay now. But Claude, that attack…"
I had no idea what to say. I had hoped that I could do a bit of damage, but it had far surpassed my expectations. The cut I made went cleanly through half of the mushroom monster's torso, which was much thicker than the edge of the paring knife. Even if the blade had been thrust all the way in, it should have only made a small gash, much less taking the monster down. As I was lost in my thoughts, Eryn suddenly muttered in surprise.
"C-Claude, your stats!" Eryn had a status window open.
I had completely missed the pop-up notifications, but my level had risen to 8 from that one kill. My stats had risen a decent amount…except for of course Atk and Mag, which only went up by 1 point. Eryn checked her status window next and noticed major bumps in her own Atk and Mag, with modest increases elsewhere. Apparently, Mr. Corny was right about this.
"But how? For me to gain this much experience?" I tilted my head in confusion.
"That was a level 15 monster, one you shouldn't have been able to kill. Due to my level, I might've been ok even if you didn't come to save me, but you could have been killed with one wrong move! But…I'm glad you did. Now I know that there's more to you than we first thought."
Sounds like I'll need to figure out what exactly I did and how to do it again. A glimmer of hope shone in my eyes as I looked down at my paring knife. Somehow, I impressed Eryn. Hooray!
For the moment, we got back to helping the shopkeeper forage for the rest of the afternoon. Eryn soon recovered fully, and the rest of the job went smoothly as we didn't encounter any more monsters in the forest. Having loaded the entire cart with weird-smelling bags of plants, I wasn't sure where exactly to sit to stay away from the scent. I finally settled near the front, next to Eryn who was leading the cart. The shopkeeper was somewhere within the bags of plants, seemingly unbothered by the smell.
Traveling back to Engelberg, we ran into another crowd of slimes. It was the perfect chance to test out my newfound ability. I didn't want to lose the sensation I felt when I succeeded in cutting that mushroom monster. Hopping off the cart, I made my way to the group of slimes.
Holding the paring knife the same way I did before, I traced along the body of a slime, looking for any weak points. A few attempts later, I had still had not found any way to cut them. By this time, the group of slimes had already turned around and sensed my hostility. They were taking turns tackling me from all sides, which I ignored since my Def was high enough that I barely felt them anymore. Instead, I was growing increasingly frustrated as the minutes rolled by with no success. Finally, my endurance ran dry as I knelt and pounded the ground with my fist.
"Why can't I cut them!" I yelled out in defeat.
The slimes continued to bounce on top of me as I tried to review what went wrong. Moments later, I could hear someone chanting.
The flame arrow flew over my body and burned the slimes that were in midair. Seeing this new threat, most of the slimes decided to run away.
"I just had a thought." Eryn said as she approached me. "Could it be not effective since slimes are resistant to physical attacks?"
"Wait…then what are they weak against?"
"Um…pretty much any kind of magic, I guess."
Hearing that, I grabbed one of the few remaining slimes that didn't run away and tucked it under my arm. Casting a candle flame on my finger, I traced it across the slime's body. A moment later, the wiggling slime froze before it popped, the slime contents falling to the ground.
Just like that, my first archnemesis was defeated.