The mirage’s kick threw me to the back and I rolled on the floor, hapless.
“Hey, hey. I kicked a human being’s body, but it’s not the sound of flesh; rather, the sound of metal. What is it? I wonder what you are hiding.”
My back was kicked again, knocking the wind out of my lungs.
I was protected by the armors, yet I was suffering this much shock. It meant I would have died right away if I had to take it without any armor.
“If you don’t pull it out, you are going to receive more beatings.”
“Wait, wait! I’ll pull it out, I said I will! It is just the effect from my equipment!”
If that’s the case, why didn’t you just ask me to disengage it?
Why are you hitting me first and then asking later?
I took off the armor from my shoulder that was attached in invisible mode.
The armor only covered a part of my shoulder, but its magic effect enhanced my entire body.
Of course, this was not the only invisible item that I was wearing at the moment, but I hoped he wouldn’t notice.
The mirage observed the armor here and there and raised its leg again, threatening to kick me again.
“You have more, right? Disengage them all.”
… Damn it.
I put down five pieces of armor equipped in invisible mode.
Of course, I still had many more items I was wearing.
“You have more, right? You hid some, right?”
I desperately shouted at the mirage.
“If you kick me in this state, I will really die!”
“Is that so?”
It seemed the mirage was considering his situation. It was not doing anything for a moment.
After a moment, the mirage seemed to finish organizing its thoughts. It brought out another potion from the inventory. It said as it drank the potion.
“If you do anything suspicious from now on, I’m going to attack. Don’t do anything foolish.”
It was not like I never thought about the possibility of things coming to this, but I really thought it would not come to this.
Really, you are so strong. It’s sickening.
Are you human?
After my arm was cut off, the battle turned one-sidedly into his favor.
I tried to gain distance in any way possible, but the mirage just refused to give up and continued to chase me and attacked.
One of the mirage’s arms was neutralized and it could not use one of its leg, but to think such a difference resulted from it…
I was at a disadvantage, and I was being dragged around while giving up the cards I had one after the other. As the situation continued, I realized it would be better for me to just give up the battle.
Now that it came to this, I’ll go with the second plan.
First, the mirage tossed a potion bottle to me and told me to drink it.
“It hurts a lot, doesn’t it? Drink that.”
“I’m all right…”
Judging from the engraving on the bottle, it is a type of pain medication.
A pain medication reduces pain, but it also dulls my senses, which is a drawback.
It could be a critical drawback in a situation like this.
I hesitated to drink the potion, and the mirage raised its sword.
Hopelessly and with a crestfallen expression, I drank the potion.
As I thought, it was a pain medication.
That was not all.
It even had paralyzing substance.
My necklace was starting to detoxify it.
“Now, I don’t know how long we have left. I have much that I want to hear from you, so let’s get started right away. Answer honestly to all questions I ask.”
As I thought…
Instead of killing me right away, the mirage wanted to get information out of me.
“… I have conditions.”
Dumbfounded at my demand, it snorted derisively.
“Old hag, I don’t think you are in position to place conditions?”
I didn’t want to, but I flinched inside.
He called me old hag.
Does he have any idea of what my age actually is?
I know this is mister’s mirage from when he was young, but I am younger than the mirage version of mister.
I have never had been called that in my life.
I desperately strained to maintain facial muscles and tried to maintain the composed look.
However, it seemed that it didn’t work.
“Oh my, look at that expression your face. Hey. If I called you an old hag one more time, I think you will hit a human. I’m so scared that I don’t think I’ll be able to even stomach hearing your condition.”
“I have two conditions to ask. First, give me back my arm.”
I was talking about my arm that was slowly rolling around on the floor.
“I think not killing you right away would be enough?”
“I am well aware of the worth of the information I have. It is more than enough to get additional rewards besides being kept alive.”
The mirage was going to say something, but it closed its mouth again.
The mirage thinks the clear condition for the 17th Floor is killing the opponent.
For it, the option for letting me live does not exist.
So, just now, it probably obtained false information that I am not aware of the clear condition.
It probably harbors a suspicion that I am not a part of the Tutorial system, although it probably won’t believe it completely.
“All right, let’s hear you talk for a bit and then I’ll think about it. What’s the second condition?”
“Help me pass this trial.”
Since I’m tricking it, I might as well add more to make it certain.
I acted like a character who would appear in the 17th Floor stage.
It was such a bold demand, but the mirage will pretend to grant it.
Its goal is gaining information. Once it gains information, it will not give a damn about my trial and promptly kill me.
It will probably think that affirming a false promise is a good idea if it can get information from me in a more sincere manner.
“All right, but I don’t know much about the trial.”
“It’s all right. I’ll explain it to you.”
Afterwards, I started explaining about the background of the trial.
Over about ten minutes, I described the backstory to the trial and the goal of the character I was acting. The doubt in the mirage’s face faded.
You have no idea how many times I read the script to memorize this setting.
“If it is only that much, I think I can help.”
“Well then, please give me back my arm.”
“Why do you need it?”
“I want to treat it with magic as soon as possible. I can attach it back when I receive treatment.”
The mirage was interested in the subject of magic treatment on the arm.
“I have many things I want to ask about that magic.”
“Give me back my arm first. I’ll explain as I do it.”
“I have another thing to ask before that.”
Before he asked, I went over the projected answers list in my head as fast as I could.
“Tutorial… Do you know about the system?”
They were the key words.
How fast I responded would be critical to whether I lived or died.
First, I should put up a dumbfounded face as if I’m trying to say I have no idea what it is talking about.
Like that, maintain hardened face for one second.
After that, a blank face like a retarded patient.
Maintain that for four seconds…
After that, recover the original expression that I had before the question, and ask back as if there is nothing wrong with it.
“I am not sure. I never heard of such. What does it mean?”
There was a glimpse of sympathy in the mirage’s face.
Mister told me he felt sorry for the beings who appeared in stages.
Their fates were enslaved by the system, and their life and death repeated regardless of their will. Mister said he felt sorry for their fate.
I tricked him successfully.
As I thought, instead of becoming a professional archer, I should have become an actress.
One thing I was surprised a bit about was that the mirage did not ask how I knew about its skills and how I responded to them.
I thought it would ask me about them.
Does it intend to figure me out later slowly?
I wondered about this, so I asked,
“Aren’t you curious about how I knew about your skills?”
Having heard my question, the mirage’s facial expressions took a strange turn.
It was the same look that I made earlier.
If the mirage asked that question, then the theme of the answer was going to be about the true identity of the mirage and the 17th Floor stage.
It seemed that the mirage could wonder about them, but it was not allowed to actually converse about them.
Also, if the conversation led to it, then the conversation was stopped by the system.
Its consciousness faltered for a moment. That thing is definitely nothing but a fake creation.
The mirage picked up the arm and handed it to me.
After receiving the arm, it felt really odd.
It was not everyday for anyone to hold and feel one’s own arm that was dismembered from the body.
Although, in reality, this is not my first time.
I placed the arm on the floor and drew a circle that was about 2 meters in radius with the arm as the center.
It didn’t really have any meaning.
I just wanted to put the mirage away from me even if it was just a little bit.
“Are you going to start?”
I nodded to the question and activated my magic power.
Watching this, the mirage took a step back.
It was as mister explained.
The mirage is definitely complacent, especially after the battle is decided.
It was a dangerous gamble, but it is working out more easily than I expected.
Taking a knee on the right, I placed my hand on the floor and recited the technique.
Of course, it was not the incantation for healing my cut off arm.
With my cut off arm as the sacrifice, I bring forth the Summon Spirit King!
It was such a tacky line, something that could be from the Yu-gi-Oh series. I shouted the line in my head and opened the link. As soon as it was established, the mana around me started to resonate crazily.
[The God of Nature is overjoyed by your action.]
The mirage charged at me as soon as it realized the sudden commotion.
I calmly put my hand at the artifact I had equipped on my left knee.
White light was spreading to all over the place.
Its effect paralyzed all senses of the opponent for a moment.
In addition to all five senses such as sight and hearing, it even paralyzed energy sensory.
It didn’t last long, but it was enough.
After that, I put my hand on my forehead.
I recited the activation word, and all wounds on my body were recovered completely.
It was not the kind that grew a new arm and closed wounds.
It literally reverted the body’s state to before it incurred any wounds.
Although the mirage’s senses were all paralyzed, it charged at me.
It remembered my location.
I took a stance and dodged its sword.
After that, I was going to punch the mirage’s face.
Instead, I got struck on the side of my face.
This is ridiculous.
Is this is even possible without any senses?
It remembered my position and came at me.
That alone is hard to believe.
It lost all of its senses. It means the mirage is not certain about where it is going and if it is going there properly.
Even in this state, the mirage baited my first response with its first attack, predicted my counterattack and even attempted the next attack.
On top of this, the second attack made a direct hit.
I gave up the battle right away and threw myself backward.
It didn’t matter what the condition was. Fighting that monster in close range was suicide.
However, it seemed the mirage even figured out my retreat path. It spread its wings open and chased after me.
I am already linked to the Summon Spirit King.
It will take a bit more time for the King to appear, but as the one who made the contract, I can borrow the King’s mana and use it.
I summoned spirits between myself and the mirage.
In addition to beast type spirits, I also summoned elemental types. I summoned anything and everything that came to my mind.
In just a brief moment, I summoned forty elemental spirits.
They were not just enough to stop the mirage, which lost its senses. They were too much.
As I thought, the mirage was unable to shake off the summon spirits.
It seemed it was regaining its senses little by little. It was starting to attack the summon spirits, but it was unable to charge at me right away.
With a light, vibrating sound, the space was distorted.
The Summon Spirit King made the entrance.
The King made entrance as he revealed his mana, which could only be described as humongous. However, its existence felt faint to me.
I felt a stronger existence from the mirage, which was fighting desperately while being surrounded by the spirits.
Instead of feeling the sense of security from the Summon Spirit King’s existence, I felt a chill down my spine as I watched the mirage put up a smile as if he was enjoying vaporizing the summon spirits one after the other, eyes burning with flames.
* * *
[You cleared the 17th Floor stage.]
Anyway, I cleared it.
I feel like that.
I cleared it, so that’s enough.
In the end, the mirage destroyed all summon spirits.
It dodged all the attacks I threw at it from the distance, killed forty summon spirits one after the other and tried to charge at me.
At that moment, the Summon Spirit King started to move, and the mirage tried to stab the King with its weapon. It immediately exploded from just touching the Summon Spirit King.
That was too much.
I felt like I just survived a near-death ordeal. However, after checking my condition, I realized that I was not in that bad of condition.
There were many items that I did not use yet. Moreover, I used the full recovery only once.
I thought I might die once, but I didn’t use the revive either.
The battle didn’t go as planned, but the end result was good, so all is well.
Giving up on the battle in the middle and leading the mirage on to let its guard down was the key.
I’m glad I memorized the script. When mister sent me the script and told me to practice memorizing it, I honestly questioned its necessity.
I think I handled it pretty well on my own.
I wonder if mister would praise me.
I organized my thoughts and looked at the Summon Spirit King.
He was looking down at the corpse of the mirage.
What are you doing?
It seemed the King noticed my question. He responded for me.
[I wanted to remember this man’s appearance. Contractor, I must warn you. Do not get involved with this man.]
With that as his last words, the King disengaged the summoning independently and returned to his own realm.
I got to hear some unsettling words in the end, but today should be celebrated.
With happy heart, I got on the portal.
Soon, my body was transported to the green field.
After seeing me, Kiri Kiri hopped and hopped to run away from me. I chased her and caught her.
“Let me go! Let me go!”
I need healing today.
I tightly hugged Kiri Kiri who was struggling. I didn’t let her go.
As I held her like that for a long while, Kiri Kiri gave up trying to get away from me. She sat quietly.
I hugged her tiny frame from behind.
Ah… I can feel the healing.
It feels like hugging an adorable little puppy… no… bunny in my chest.
I wish the time could stop like this.
I placed my chin on top of Kiri Kiri’s head.
I could feel Kiri Kiri’s two long ears on my cheeks. They were tickling me.
“Hiiiiiing. I feel trapped.”
Kiri Kiri complained, but I ignored her.
I have a lot of stress today.
I raised my hand and touched the back of her ears. They were soft.
I could feel the back sides of her ears.
She hated being touched in the insides of her ears.
I was like that for a while before I realized that I had not contacted mister yet.
I should tell him about this soon.
Thinking that, I opened the message window.
At that moment, Kiri Kiri said to me,
“Wait a minute. Before that, I have something to tell you.”
The tone of Kiri Kiri’s voice became serious very quickly. I felt it was strange.
Kiri Kiri vacantly looked up the sky.
[Vote so far: In favor 2207, Oppose 196]
What is this?
I was dumbfounded by the message that appeared all of the sudden.
This kind of message only appears after clearing a stage. Why now?
“Hiiiing… I voted against it.”
“What is this?”
Kiri Kiri’s long ears fell down all the way.
With gloomy voice, she started to explain.
“The gods want to make a special proposition to you.”
Kiri Kiri didn’t answer right away.
She made scribbles on the ground for a moment, organized her thoughts and then started to explain.
“Hear me out to the end and then decide. What? What is it? Ah why! This much should do no harm.”
Now, she was even saying things on her own.
Who is she talking to?
“First, what the gods can give you are power skills. Also, unlimited allowance for information will be added. There might be other gods who want to give you even more depending on your actions, but those are what I can promise at the moment. Also…”
I feel like her mood is getting darker by the moment.
I was hugging her from the back, so I could not see her face, but that’s what I felt.
“What the gods want from you is the information about the 60th Floor in Hell difficulty.”
It was unexpected. My mind became vacant for a moment.
“Can you explain that a little more?”
“… Actually, we had been hiding information about him.”
“It may sound like an idea that’s over the river now, but we were aiming for opportunities to monopolize him.”
“Him? Who are you talking about?”
Kiri Kiri didn’t respond to my question.
“However, recently there was a bizarre phenomenon at the Hell difficulty’s 60th Floor, and other gods became aware of him too.”
They were talking about mister.
I wanted to hear more of what Kiri Kiri was going to say, but I couldn’t help interrupting her to ask.
“Bizarre phenomenon? What are you talking about?”
This time, there was an answer.
“Recently, the link to the Hell difficulty’s 60th Floor was completely severed. I think it is because of his attempts at trying to escape the Tutorial. Although it seems he didn’t manage to escape.”
Link was severed?
I got messages from mister even just before entering the 17th Floor. I even sent him messages too back then.
Also, what do you mean by escape?
“Don’t send him a message yet. Listen to the rest of the explanations first and we would like you to make a decision first.”
“Before that, what do you mean the link was severed?! What do you mean by escape?! Explain those first.”
I felt like I just swallowed a lump of flames. My body was heating up.
I felt like I won’t be able to hear anything else unless my curiosities were satisfied first.
“… He always had been trying to find a way out of the 60th Floor. He actually tried various ideas. This time, his attempt to leave the 60th Floor seem to have affected the system.”
“To escape the 60th Floor, no… To escape the Tutorial, he turned the 60th Floor into his private territory.”
Hearing more explanations only added to my chaos.
What are you talking about?
“Right now… in theory…”
Kiri Kiri took a moment to calm her breath and said,
“In this Tutorial, the Hell difficulty’s 60th Floor no longer exists.”