Roughly ten minutes after we had exited town, Lilith turned to me while we were walking and spoke up. “So, you wanted to know about the currency here, right?” She asked with a small smile.

“Yeah… figured it might be important.” To be honest, I had no idea how much money I was carrying, as it was only a pile of differently colored coins to me. This wasn’t a problem in the game, because the currency was represented simply as a number.

Lilith nodded her head. “That’s fine. Probably best if you know how to manage it, eventually.” She took a deep breath, looking around to make sure the area was safe before stopping to explain. “Okay. First of all, the money here is called sin, which you probably noticed already.”

When she saw me nod her head, she continued. “There are seven different levels of sin coins, each having its own color. These are named after each of the Seven Sins, which were disclosed thousands of years ago. First, there is the Sloth coin, which is a deep brown. Sloth represents one sin, and can’t really buy anything on its own.”

“Next is Gluttony, a murky yellow coin. Gluttony counts as ten sins. In the tenth layer, we had a common saying. ‘Gluttony to sate Gluttony, Lust to sate Lust, Wrath to sate Wrath’. This is because one Gluttony coin is enough to buy a cheap meal. One Lust coin, a pink coin worth one hundred sins, is enough to pay for a cheap prostitute. One Wrath coin, blue and worth five hundred sins, is enough to pay to have someone attacked.”

“Above Wrath you have Envy, where you start buying items of high value. Those are the green coins that I used to pay for our tools, which were of the highest quality that blacksmith could make. One Envy coin is worth one thousand sins.”

Lilith paused to take another breath before continuing. “After Envy comes Pride, a darker purple coin. One Pride coin is worth five thousand sins. Then, finally there is Greed. One golden Greed coin is worth ten thousand sins, and is considered a small treasure on its own.”

I nodded my head as she finished her explanation. “And to think that it took one of those Greed coins just to get a single lesson in magic.” I couldn’t help but let out a sigh at the fortune that had slipped away without me ever knowing.

“Yeah… even though it was really such an easy process.” Lilith chuckled lightly, shaking her head. “They’re just greedy bastards, I think.”

“But, there’s nothing above the seven sins?” I asked, curiously. While ten thousand sin might seem like a large amount for now, it wouldn’t really amount to much once we went down enough floors.

Lilith only shrugged her shoulders at that. “It’s the highest I’ve heard of, at least. For all I know, they could use a completely different system every one hundred levels or so. Maybe eventually it will be virtue coins instead of sins.”

I had to nod at that, though I could say that the name of the currency never changed in the game. “Well… let’s go over the strategy for fighting Fenrir. If we aren’t careful, we’ll die before we are even able to get any of the items we want from the tree.”

Lilith smiled to me, turning to resume walking. We were currently heading south through the plains, towards a city I was reasonably familiar with. According to my memory, it should be the city closest to the World Tree. “Alright, then, what’s the plan?”

“I’d say for you to practice an invisibility spell, but that won’t help. Fenrir has high detection abilities, so he’d be able to see through it. Instead, I’ll have to distract him while you gather the items. My job is to stay alive for as long as possible while keeping his attention. Yours is to gather what we need.”

“And… what should I be prioritizing?” She asked after she heard my explanation.

“Well… Ideally, I would like at least two branches, two meters long each. After that comes the amber, which we need at least one fist-sized piece. If I’m still alive after you get that much, pick up as many of the leaves as you can.” I wanted to make Lilith a staff to help with her magic, if possible, and would like to make a bow out of the tree’s wood as well. Actually, I was curious how using a bow would work with my class abilities.

“Got it. Anything else I should be on the lookout for?”

I shook my head when Lilith asked that. “There shouldn’t be any gear from past adventurers nearby, unless it was a relic from a previous floor that Fenrir couldn’t get rid of. If you see anything like that, it would be great to grab, but not a priority.”

“We’re going to be doing this a lot, aren’t we…?” Lilith asked, somewhat hesitantly. I could only smile bitterly, nodding in response.

“When the layer has a special ability, it’s just a matter of convincing the owner of that ability to teach it to us, or stealing the item that the ability is stored in. But, when it’s an item, we’re almost always going to die getting it. Over half of the guardians have some kind of immortality like Fenrir, while the others are insanely strong creatures from a couple hundred floors below.”

“And we have to do this for every floor? That sounds like… this adventure would take forever.” Lilith’s face scrunched up as she said that, obviously not fond of the idea.

I laughed lightly as I continued walking. “No, not all of them. Some floors don’t have items that would fit our goals. For instance, the layers that have objects or spells focused on necromancy, we wouldn’t have as much use for.”

Lilith gave a sigh of relief as she heard that, before asking another question. “What about the next few floors after this? I know that you know what they have, so I’d at least like to be let in on the game plan?”

I thought about it for a moment, and she was right. “The next level has the Lion King’s Claw, a fist weapon that increases physical attributes. It also comes with a special skill that will allow it to permanently meld with the user, making the changes permanent. However, doing so changes the user into a lion-type beastman. This isn’t bad in itself, but if you get another item like that in the future, the changes aren’t cumulative. If you change to a different race later, you’ll lose the bonuses from the claw.”

Lilith looked me over as I explained. “I think you’d look pretty good as a lion man, though.” She teased.

However, I shook my head in denial. “No, I’d rather not. The boost to physical abilities are pretty good, so I might consider getting it, but I won’t use the skill.”

“Fine, fine. Well… how about the tenth layer?” Lilith seemed slightly less excited when she asked about this one, turning her head to the side to look elsewhere.

“The tenth level has an item we absolutely need.” I could tell that Lilith wasn’t eager to go back to that layer for some reason, but this was the truth. “In the tenth layer, there is the King’s Mansion Key. This item would let us summon a doorway from wherever we were that would lead to an extradimensional house. Only those allowed by the holder of the key can enter, so it is something we desperately need. The two of us can’t easily keep watch at night, so something like this is necessary.”

Lilith was surprised as I told her the item that we would find, and could only helplessly nod her head. “Alright… I can see your point. I never heard of an item like that, though.”

I chuckled. “That’s not surprising. Most people on this floor likely don’t know about the World Tree, because anyone that gets close to it has to fight the invincible guardian. Nobody lives to tell the tale, and few people that die in this level will ever become strong enough to make their way back.”

Lilith nodded, though I could tell that she was thinking about something else. “Is there a reason that you don’t want to go to the tenth layer? That is your home, after all.”

She shook her head at that, smiling bitterly. “Not anymore. Sorry, Grim, but I can’t really talk about it yet. Don’t worry, it’s not something that would make trouble for us later, just some baggage. I’ll tell you all about it when I feel up to it, alright?”

I could only nod my head, accepting that. I wasn’t really one to criticize her for wanting to keep things to herself, since I wouldn’t have even told her about my circumstances if it wasn’t for seeing Kevin earlier. As long as she was telling the truth, and it wouldn’t get in the way of our mission, I didn’t mind.

“So…” She said, breaking the suddenly awkward silence. “Are there any other treasures that we should be on the lookout for?”

“Well… there’s no point planning too many floors in advance. After we get the key, the eleventh floor doesn’t have anything that we need badly. The twelfth one, however, has a sword that I’d like to add to my collection.”

Lilith had a mischievous smile as she spoke next. “Why, is it an instant kill sword or something?”

I raised my eyebrows at that, shaking my head. “No, those don’t show up until we get near the bottom floor. This sword is named Zulfiqar, and has the ability to split itself into ten identical swords. Each copy of Zulfiqar has the same strength, but if one is damaged, it returns to the original, and can’t be called back out for a full day.”

“Wow… that’s quite a weapon. And a good match for your remote control power.” Lilith nodded her head in understanding. “But, what about me? I mean, your powers make it so that you can handle the front line easily, so what am I supposed to do?”

“Well… if you’d like, it’d help the most for you to focus on magic. I was hoping to make you a staff from one of the branches of the World Tree, and the amber. We definitely need a healer, and my powers won’t have as much use the further down we go.”

Lilith thought about that, and nodded her head after a few moments. “Alright, I can handle that. This should help me figure out my path of magic easier, too.” She smiled, looking ahead at one of the wolves in the distance. “And… I definitely won’t disagree with letting you be the one to fight in close quarters.”

I smirked slightly at that, walking towards that wolf and extending my hand out to my side. Blood red mist congealed and formed into the short sword that I had originally stored with that method. “That’s fine. It’s what this body was made for.”

As the wolf saw us casually approaching it, it let out a loud howl to call for reinforcements, before charging towards me. My right hand glowed with a red light as my brand appeared. One of the swords unsheathed itself from the skull in the brand, moving to place itself on the short sword I held. This was something I had discovered while practicing alone at night. Focusing the full brand on a single weapon offered more power and control, but if I only used a single part of it, then I could save a bit on the energy.

When the brand had merged with the sword in my hand, I let go of the handle. The sword floated in midair around me, orbiting quietly as the wolf approached. I could probably handle this animal easily with any number of my weapon skills, but I wanted to use this chance to practice for the upcoming boss fight.

I pointed my hand forward, and the sword shot through the air to stab towards the charging wolf. Just as it was about to connect, the beast jumped to the side to avoid it, growling as it continued its charge towards me. I brought one foot back and turned my body to take a fighting stance, while controlling the sword to turn around and fly towards the wolf again.

My body moved exactly as I wanted it to, far more fluidly and comfortably than it ever could when I was alive. The wolf was lunging directly towards me when I ducked down, letting it pass over me. I felt a tearing pain on my back as its rear claws dug into my skin, but reached my hand up just in time to grab the sword that had been flying towards the wolf.

Turning around, I gave a powerful downward swing, just as the wolf was repositioning to attack again. It let out a pained yelp, the left side of its face cut deeply. Once again, I released the grip on the sword, letting it fly around me as I took the initiative to lunge. The wolf seemed shocked by this, but I was already on its back, my arms around its neck. It bucked like a wild bull, trying to knock me off, but my grip only tightened as I felt for where the base of its skull met its spine.

With one sharp snap, I twisted the neck of the wolf, causing it to let out a truly pained cry before it fell to the ground. Lilith was watching the entire thing with an amused smile, and when I looked to see what she found funny, she pointed behind me. Turning, I saw a dozen similar wolves charging from the distance, answering the call of their pack.


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