Chapter 3-2

Proofreaders: Yite, General Phone

“Whateva it was, it be not hear anymoar.”

The ss’rak gave up their search, I could listen to their conservation. There’s only one problem and it’s that they: They don’t unlock all of the rooms. Including ours.

Maybe because it’s a pain and not every room is used here, just like ours.

But at some point, they will most likely unlock this room, so we have to stay alerted.

Great.

It’s so great, I want to puke.

“We’re stuck here for a while unless I break the door and then we’re almost back at the beginning.”

“So we need a plan beforehand.”

“Yes. But I have first to know, how could you even deal significant damage to a ss’rak?”

I thought about the whole incident over and over and a non-combat character like Momokawa shouldn’t be able to hurt a ss’rak much. Their scales are like an armor, it’d be hard to get through that with only one hit for her.

“You and I were close. Remember, there is a bonus to [Attributes] if we’re next to each other.”

“But it’s only minor.”

“The knife is powerful, too.”

I better take a look at the knives, the ss’rak uses.

[Ss’rak’s Knife]

Description:
This heavy knife is hard and sturdy. It’s difficult to wield as a weapon, but can deal massive damage when working with something which doesn’t move.
Status: +30 Attack or +150 if the target doesn’t move
Value: 1,500 Newgold

This is… sick.

A normal longsword has an attack bonus of +80. So this dagger deals about twice it’s damage at an immobile target. Since the ss’rak and I were grappling, neither of us could move much and Momokawa got a really dangerous weapon.

What a loophole.

Or more like, does it work that way in real or is this a hero-thing?

It’s not a game, I have to remember that.

I may have [Vitality] as a hero to mitigate some damage, but neither did I ever take no damage before, nor is there any inclination, that non-heroes have stats.

If they have not, it’s logical. Even if you’re strong, several stabs into the vitals will kill you. Train martial arts for decades, get a knife into your stomach and you’ll die. Maybe it’s like that.

So many stabs into me could actually kill me as well, despite being a hero. And if you take the knife’s trait into account…

“Did you know about this, Momokawa?”

“No. I had to come close to heal you and decided, it wasn’t worth it.”

She’s right. Healing me in that situation wouldn’t have helped.

“Then I saw knives at their belts and took them. And it was the best choice to stab the lizardman.”

 

“…Thanks.”

I force this word out of my mouth. In this situation, Momokawa stayed calm and did the best she could do. I, on the other hand, showed a rather pathetic performance.

“Don’t let me do it again, it was scary.”

I’m scared of how calm you are! But instead of retorting, I try to get back to the topic.

“The ss’rak are difficult to fight with knives. Even with three of theirs, we’re still at disadvantage. We need to secure any asset we can. Let’s look around. This is a storage, so there might be something interesting.”

“Less of a storage and more of a junkyard.”

But Momokawa helps me to search through the room. Brooms with slightly broken sticks, worn out furniture, shattered lamps, separated nails and screws, torn leather stripes plus other trash.

“Hm… but maybe…”

I think I could try to don a knife on a stick to improvise a spear. Also, there is an old buckle, so we can try to fix the backpack we found in the great cave.

We start working, it’s better than doing nothing.

Or more like I work on the spear, while Momokawa provides light with her [Torch]-spell.

“Katsuragi, I’m level 17 now.”

“That’s twelve levels in nine days!”

“But it’s far too dangerous to do this continually.”

“I agree…”

“And we always seem to rest a long time after each battle.”

“We do.”

“Do you normally do it like that? Going right into danger to increase your level?”

“Hell no. Soloing is all about searching battles you can easily win.”

“But, wouldn’t you normally have to find a lot of monsters?”

“After I got my first class, I killed nearly a hundred weak mobs a day to increase my level.”

“Don’t be absurd, finding mobs and fighting them that often is impossible.”

“Not if you cut the recovery time. Get their loot, sell it, buy consumables and use them after a battle, until you begin to run out.”

“Consumables?”

“In this case mostly pots. So HP and SP-potions. After each battle, I used them and was ready for the next one. You don’t make much money, but if you need to, you can try to collect treasures by bypassing their guardians unseen. This is one of the reason, I wanted to have a sneaky [Class] in the first place.”

“Does that actually work in games?”

“Depends on the game, but it’s not rare.”

“So you left us because you wanted to increase your level that badly?”

“Ah… could we change the topic?”

“You don’t want to tell me? Why?”

“Because I don’t like to talk about it.”

“*Stare*”

Please don’t stare at me! “I just… it’s… I don’t trust the ones who called us, OK!?”

“You mean the gods?”

“The gods who transported us in this world, the king who didn’t even meet us, the whole kingdom which fights an enemy I don’t know anything about.”

“The king invited each of us to dinner. Each party got an own dinner.”

“But what about this fight against demons?”

“I… don’t know. But Masahiko-kun and the rest should already have met them. They’re undergoing training at the border.”

“The more I know, the less I trust anyone.”

“…What about me.”

“What do you mean.”

“Do you trust me?”

“I have to, right?”

Momokawa picks up one of her throwing stones and throws it into my face.

“Ouch!”

“Idiot…”

“What about you, do you trust me?”

“Not a bit.”

“See?”

“You do things like leading me into a shrine full of lizardmen, fighting them when surrender is the better option, attacking a murderous bear on your own and hesitating when you’re about to be killed. Finally, you contaminated me with that curse and forced me into marriage at the age of sixteen.”

Each argument feels like an arrow in my back.

Quick, retort! Don’t lose ground! “And you… erm…”

She healed me without complaining much, saved me multiple times, and didn’t mind to bow or adapt to every circumstance.

I know, I did some cool stuff, too, but Momokawa still has to do a real blunder. The only thing which could be criticized would be her level, which drags me down at times. And when I proposed this team-up, I already knew that I have to keep her safe, in the end.

So I couldn’t really complain about it.

I hate it!

Meanwhile, I carve out the hilt of one knife with another, so I could stick a broomstick into it. Afterward, I will try to pin it with some nails.

“Nothing to say, Katsuragi?”

“I’m trying to concentrate…”

“Heh! Concentrate, of course.”

This woman!

“I’m sorry, OK!? But now we should focus on what to do next!”

“I have no ideas. I have not the slightest clue what to do.”

“We need the following: More combat strength, a way to get upstairs, a strategy and a fallback plan.”

“How?”

“Our final goal is to find and kill the patriarch, but I don’t know if I can do it.”

“Since you don’t have a backbone?”

“…” After the last blunder, I can’t argue with her about that. “If it would be that easy, Muaotef wouldn’t give us that task.”

“How will he watch us… wait. Magic, right?”

“Definitely magic. Most likely with sound, too.”

“Magic TV.”

“Kinda. And I don’t know anything about the patriarch, this quest sucks!”

“We have no choice. Or do you want that dragon to be displeased?”

“I would rather die.”

“Same here.”

“We… we lack in everything: Intelligence, power, and resources.”

“So we should give up?”

“…there is a way to get at least some power. Maybe.”

Momokawa becomes suspicious.

“How? And why are you talking about it only now?”

“Because you will hate it.”

“Tell me.”

“We should grind WP.”

The temperature drops. Momokawa’s voice is cold as ice.

“… Why?”

“I checked the WP-store-list before and there are some strong bonuses there.”

“But then we have to act… like that.”

“I know. But the systems doesn’t seem to be very smart. Even half-hearted gestures are rewarded with some WP. And there are some fairly easy actions on that list. Like holding hands for an hour uninterrupted.”

“Rejected.”

“We could think about it as a make-believe and-”

“Rejected!”

“… *Stare*”

“Stop doing that.”

I try my best to put every ounce of conviction and blame into my stare. But Momokawa simply ignores it after frowning for a bit.

We worked silently for an hour.

Nailing the knife onto the stick was pretty difficult. I use the hilt of the second knife as a hammer substitute, but I don’t want to damage the wood by using full force. But now I have a spear which might not break after using a few [Spear]-skills.

[Improvised Knife Spear]

Description:
A ss’rak knife on a broomstick, nailed together so it wouldn’t fall off that easily. It’s not really reliable.
Status: +55 Attack or +110 if the target doesn’t move
Value: 100 Newgold

The value dropped immensely and its secondary trait became weaker. But finally, I have something like a weapon again. Now I try to fit the buckle to our worn-out backpack.

I have to cut the strap a bit since it’s too wide. Cutting leather was difficult, especially if you only have a knife as a tool. But maybe we can get the [Inventory]-option back that we lost with our original backpacks.

Momokawa is pondering and only reacts, when I ask her to relight her [Torch]-spell.

“No, still no [Inventory].”

That was too bad.

“You won, Katsuragi.”

“Hah?”

“It’s better to bend than break and we need everything we can get.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Getting WP, of course! What are you thinking about?”

Doesn’t she realize that some time has passed and it already slipped my mind? But better to play along before she changes her mind again.

“Great! We have to see which actions seem to be doable.”

“…Yes.” Wow, what a look of displeasure!

Both of us start to investigate the ways to get WP. Luckily there is a list.

“First name basis… or nicknames. That’s acceptable, right Kenta-kun?”

“Ugh… I don’t like it. It somehow feels wrong.”

“What’s wrong about it, Kenta-kun?”

“Phew… I don’t exactly know.”

“What about a nickname, like Kenken.”

“That’s horrible!”

“Hm… Ken-kun?”

“That’s acceptable, I think, seems more like an alias.”

“Good. And now try saying my name.”

“OK…”

I don’t remember! I have to check the status menu. Momokawa’s first name was never important for me before. How do I read that kanji (杏)?

“Anzu.”

The temperature drops and my whole skin got chills. Momokawa is looking at me as if I kicked a kitten just now.

“You don’t remember my first name.”

“I… You’re right. I confess.”

“It’s Kyou.”

Kyou… like the kanji for misfortune, a perfect fit.

“So it’s Kyou, I see.”

“Don’t drop the honorific! We’re not actually that close!”

“Erm… Kyou-san?”

“Acceptable. So now we’re Ken-kun and Kyou-san.”

“On second thought, just drop my honorific. It’s weird if you start using one when you didn’t before.”

“Ken and Kyou-san.”

“This could be a title of a children’s story.”

“Well, Katsu- Ken, we are in a world full of fiction.”

“Point taken.”

Momokawa… I mean, Kyou-san doesn’t mind calling each other on first name basis at all. But I somehow feel uncomfortable. Maybe because we aren’t any closer than before.

I guess, I will get used to it.

“Hm… Holding hands for an hour each day… Ken, I would like to skip it.”

“But we’re resting pretty often, so using an hour to hold hands shouldn’t be…”

“That’s what lovers do.”

“We are a married couple, in a way.”

“Urgh… let me think about it.”

You don’t have to look so disgusted every time you remember that the cursed got us married in a strange way.

“Sleeping next to each other at night. No problem.”

“Huh? But Momokawa, that’s much worse than holding hands.”

“It’s ‘Kyou-san’ and it’s not.”

“How?!”

“First, we did it already once, a few days ago when we first arrived at the chasm. And in the end, you don’t have the balls to do something.”

I… can’t argue with that.

So that’s the reason, why she is so defenseless in her sleep, even though I’m technically still a man, Because she knows I won’t dare to do anything to her.

“But wouldn’t it be uncomfortable?”

“It’s 1 WP every night, so bear with it.”

This girl is a tyrant!

“Feeding each other… That’s too embarrassing, dismissed.”

How does she measure embarrassment? It’s illogical that sleeping next to me is less embarrassing than holding hands or playing the ‘Ahn’-game.

“Ken, everything which includes kisses is banned.”

“I agree.”

“And the ecchi stuff as well.”

“I would rather put a censor bar on these. Some are hardcore.”

“Linking arms… it’s almost like holding hands…”

“We better not link arms.”

“But holding hands?”

“Less body contact.”

“I see. How about the lap things?”

“Which ones?”

“Me sitting on your lap, lap-pillow and such.”

“Please don’t sit on my lap.”

I would ‘awake’ then and that would be awkward since there would be no way she won’t notice.

“How about lap-pillowing each other?”

“We have to make compromises at some point. Let’s remember it in case we have too few.”

The list is long full of lovey-dovey stuff. Others are conditional or hard to trigger, like saving the life of the other one. Neither of us wants to try that, since you could actually die.

One of the hardest conditions are things which get only rewarded when done subconsciously. Like an indirect kiss. These are simple things, but you can’t trigger them willingly because it wouldn’t be subconsciously anymore.

In the end, there are only a few acceptable choices. Our final decision is using the following actions to gain WP:

[Calling each other by nickname or first name], [Holding hands an hour a day], [Wife gets lap-pillow for at least 10 minutes], [Husband gets lap-pillow for at least 10 minutes],  [Sleeping next to each other], and [Me eating her food at least once per day].

So we would gain 6 WP a day.

“Ken, which bonus should we gain first?”

“We need at least 50 WP before we get the cheap stuff that is actually interesting. Let’s first collect those and look what we need at that time.”

“We have only 15 WP, so in three days it’s impossible to gain the remaining ones with six per day. So why do we even care about that?”

“Only six we can achieve voluntary and controlled a day. But there are more we might collect unintended. And a slim chance is still better than no chance.”

“I agree to it, even though I dislike it.” Kyou-san looks tortured. Hey, I got her name mentally right.

But there is a question left.

“I ask myself, what happens if we sleep next to each other while holding hands. Would we gain 2 WP then?”

“No idea. We can try it out this night.”

“Let’s not if possible. If we miss the WP for holding hands, we will be vexed if we’re short one WP when we need it.”

“I see. So…”

Kyou-san deeply inhales.

“…so we should get it over with for today. Which one first?”

“Holding hands, since we need to do an whole hour. And maybe we should try to make a lap-pillow at the same time.”

“You or me, Ken?”

“I don’t care.”

“Then put your head on my lap.”

I don’t know why she chose this order, but I just have to lay my head on her lap. This is the first time I got a lap-pillow. And with a female classmate, to boost.

Even though there is no romance in this. Somehow Kyou-san appears to be rather used to it. She takes my head in both of her hands and leads it to her lap.

It’s warm.

Then she takes my left hand with hers. These are the hands with the cursed rings.

“Is there a reason, why you took the left hand?”

“We’re both right-handed.”

“I see.”

Logical choice.

Wait a minute.

From this angle, I can see clearly Kyou-san’s chest, when I try to look at her face. Even though she has a slender build, there is still enough to fill one’s hand.

This… is bad.

I close my eyes and try to imagine playing games on my PC to ease this inner stirring. I never paid much mind to Kyou-san before coming into the chasm and even there I did only sparsely.

But I feel like it will be much harder to do the same from this moment on. Since we’re holding hands and hers is clearly feminine, much smaller than mine.

Since I’m laying on her lap and feel her warmth and scent her smell. It’s a mixture of filth, sweat and something else. This must be a girl’s smell.

Am I developing a fetish or is this only because I can’t ban the fact that I’m kinda intimate with a girl and discover everything what’s different about us here?

Neither of us spoke. But I hear a light tapping.

Kyou-sans taps with the index finger of her right hand on the ground. It’s a regular and exact rhythm. Like the ticking of a clock.

…Wait, it’s really a tap per second. She’s counting the seconds!

Uh, she hates me so much, she can’t wait patiently.

I thought ten minutes are doable, but with this discovery, every second becomes painful.

But finally,

You gain 1 WP.
After a hard work day, getting a lap-pillow from your wife is a way to replenish your vigor and heal your soul for the next things to come.

“Exactly 10 minutes.” So Kyou-san really counted every second. “In our time.”

“Our time?”

“The one, back in Japan. In Feuerberg, they have faster seconds and 100 makes a minute, 100 minutes and hour and 20 hours a day. Taniguchi-sensei says a day in Feuerberg are exactly 28 hours and 18 minutes in Japanese time.”

So they have longer days? I can’t tell, because I never saw a clock in this world, I guess. At least I should remember a clock, which uses only 20 hours for a day.

But this would mean, that the curse uses our understanding of time. What could this mean?

“Ken, could you please…”

“What?”

“My lap.”

I forgot that I’m still getting a lap-pillow from Kyou-san.

“… Of course.”

Actually, it is quite comfortable, when she’s not counting seconds, but we have to switch. Since we want to test if we can make several WP-actions at once, we can’t release your hands. So we have some trouble, since our left hands are linked, but in the end, we just need a bit of turning.

Now Kyou-san lays her head on my lap. It isn’t that special. She looks with a languid expression at my face first and then closed her eyes after sighing.

That’s not romantic at all.

“Back to topic, so that means the curse is able to tell how much time are 10 minutes in our world?”

“I think so, Ken.”

“Maybe it’s only converting it into another time. I calculate this… A day in this world is 28 hours and how many minutes?”

“18 minutes.”

“Let me see… Wait a moment.”

I change my class to [Student].

“Your belly got fatter.”

This- “I know!”

Seriously, it’s not that bad.

“I think [Academics] might help. So we have 28 hours and 18 minutes, this would be 1,680 minutes plus 18 minutes equals 1,698 minutes .”

Even though it’s not like a calculator, my mathematical skills are much better than before.

Level 38 gives enough [Intelligence] to make these calculations much easier.

“Next, we…”

I calculate the numbers, but seriously, even with an enhanced [Intelligence] it was hard to remember my interim results. Since I can’t do it at once with a calculator, I ask Kyou-san to remember these for me, since [Fast Learner] apparently only helps with ‘learning’ and memorizing ‘knowledge’, not interim results. And it’s confusing, since their seconds and minutes are shorter than ours, but their hours and days longer.

“So 10 of our minutes are 8 minutes and about 29 seconds in their time.”

“I don’t think, it has a special meaning.”

“I guess so. So the curse really uses our time. But how and why? Does it have to do with us being heroes?”

“Maybe because ‘we’ are cursed?”

“So the curse uses 10 minutes within the understanding of the cursed?”

“It’s a curse, so I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Kyou-san is somehow right. But I come across another problem. Sitting on your knees is hard. I’m not used to it, since at home I always sat on a chair, either at the dining table or my PCs or consoles. When was the last time, I sit on my knees for a longer period of time?

My legs are numb.

I change back to [Scout], hoping that my higher [Vitality] will fix it. And of course, because we still should use my [Perception]-skills, so that I can detect incoming trouble beforehand.

Kyou-san did count seconds to verify if the 10 minutes are accurate. Not because she wanted to end it quickly. In the end, she doesn’t mind doing something like that with a boy like me. She doesn’t care.

Well, at least it’s not direct hate, but it somehow hurts my manly pride.

That Kyou-san doesn’t think of me as a boy. Or at least a boy who’s worth to be bothered with.

She really has a lot of experience, but for me, it’s still very uncomfortable to do things like a lap-pillow with a girl.

Even though I don’t, particularly like Kyou-san. I just learned to get along with her grudgingly.

Somehow, I feel like my first more private experiences with girls shouldn’t be with someone like Kyou-san, who I don’t have feelings for.

Even though she’s a pretty girl, her personality is…

Is…

Hard to describe.

Two weeks ago, I would have said, that she’s a shallow girl with a pretty face, who fakes a nice personality for credits and benefits.

One week ago, I would have added, that she’s bitching around a lot and only takes responsibility if she’s sure she will have an easy time.

Three days ago, I would have called her a surprisingly obedient person, who does what is needed to survive, even though it’s inconvenient and straining.

And now I think, that I don’t know shit about her and she’s actually quite complex.

Maybe I just forgot that people aren’t simple.

You gain 1 WP.
Your wife is trying her best to make you feel as comfortable as possible, so you have to repay any kindness with a moment of privacy, so she can lean on you and recharge her batteries.

Without a word, Kyou-san lifts her head and sits up. Again, we have the inconvenience to have each left hands, but this time she simply sit next to me, facing the other wall.

I, on the other hand, pull my numb legs from under my body and sat down on my ass.

Neither of use says a word. My thoughts are wandering around. But it’s still uncomfortable to sit. I can simply lay down the crimson bear’s fur and-

“Ah.”

“What’s wrong, Ken?”

“I dropped the fur.”

“…You’re right. Where?”

“I think it was the sanctum. I remember putting it down for mobility, but then it… escalated.”

Kyou-san had to pull me with her to escape and we totally forgot about the pelt that time. Maybe it’s still there. Or maybe, someone took it.

We brought it with us for several purposes, but since it’s big and unhandy, you can’t really fight while carrying it. That we lost it is a pity. But at least we’re alive.

For now.

A light shiver passes through my body remembering the dead ss’rak, albeit only for a matter of seconds. I feel human warmth through Kyou-san’s hand. It’s just like the first night in the chasm. Feeling someone’s warmth can be very comforting.

So just for now, I will engulf in this kind of comfort, while not even looking at Kyou-san’s face. So she won’t know that I need her right now.

And this way around forty minutes passed.

You gain 1 WP.
Holding hands is a many-sided expression of your emotions of each other. You can express joy, happiness, sorrow and comfort only through your fingers. Sometimes words aren’t needed.

So we can really perform multiple WP-actions at once. This will be useful. Like holding hands while sleeping, if there is no other way to accomplish a full hour.

Kyou-san and I separated from each other.

My hand is sweaty as well, but at least I don’t wipe it down like Kyou-san does. This reminds me of the start of middle school when the other children said I would infect them with the ‘Katsuragi pox’.

Do I have any happy school-related memories at all?

Nevertheless, we’re still stuck in a storage room full of junk and with no idea how to get out unnoticed and how we can climb the next level. We don’t have any idea, what Muaotef is up to and how to kill the ss’rak patriarch.

The average ss’rak are strong enough to be a threat to me if they gang up or I let my guard drop. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to kill them if the situation arises again and Kyou-san can’t do anything about the whole mess on her own.

And I guess the patriarch will be even stronger than the common ss’rak. Basically, we’re still in mortal danger, but it’s not as bad as the chasm. In three days, I think we might wish us to be back in the chasm since Muaotef seems to be a dragon true to its word. He won’t let us go if we fail.

I hate it.

Again, I feel my blood-pressure rising and clumps of anger welling up my stomach. I want to slaughter all ss’rak.

But I understand, that this is only me throwing a tantrum. The frustration is just adding up and since I’m not in immediate danger, this side of me shows up.

I hate it. I hate how weak I am. In these last days, I fully understood how pitiful I really am.

“Let us sleep, Ken.”

Kyou-san interrupts my train of thought as if she knows what I’m thinking. And her proposal just blows everything away from my mind. Since sleeping would mean… sleeping next to each other.

Back then in the chasm, we were exhausted in a dark cave and touching one another was the only way to confirm, that the other person is still there. This time it’s still a dark room, but a minimum of light comes from under the door.

So my [Darksight] works. I can see Kyou-san clearly, even though she won’t be able to see that well, the moment she stops using [Torch]. The only way for danger to come is through the door and if I sleep with [Dormurnal] on, I will notice.

Altogether it feels different from the last time, it’s somehow less desperate and more… thrilling. Well, we only have to be to next other, so this might be surprisingly less exciting than I currently think.

Kyou-san and I lean at the door, so I can make out noises as early as possible. Our shoulders are almost touching. She extinguishes the [Torch] and I close my eyes. I’ve would have thought that the excitement would keep me awake.

But instead, I fall asleep in a second.

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