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Chapter 13

Waking up from the cold, Kazu looked around his surroundings. He fell unconscious when the cyclopes surrounded him. Around him, a dozen bodies of cyclopes laid in a circle. They were probably distracted by something and left him alone, Kazu thought.

Picking up his sword, he felt the heartbeat of the sword was much weaker. Although he didn’t mind it, the fact stuck to the back of his mind. He felt like he only slept for a few hours, but it was enough to feel refreshed.

Before figuring out what to do next, he entered the door in front of him. A body presented itself poled to a wall. Smaller versions of the needle pole Euopth uses nailed the body on the wall. Its arms wrapped in heavy black iron bracelets with chains connecting them.

<< Scan >>

Dead, no status available.


Tch. Kazu clicked his tongue.

He then opened his inventory to take out a sandwich. Eating after waking up was important. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Being left with the ordeal just before falling unconscious yesterday, Kazu couldn’t help but let out a sigh.

Conversion reached 20%. Conversion dialogue will now only pop up during milestones.
Assist mode now available to disable.


“Hm?” Kazu’s eyes widened. “Assist mode, disable.”

His user interface showing his health and mana all disappeared. For a few seconds, he panicked. Ever since coming to this word, his reliance on the ability became more and more with each passing day. Now, for it to be gone was suicide!

“Inventory!”

Nothing showed up.

“Status!”

Nothing interesting happened. His face darkened. Did he unknowingly just turn off his ability without learning how to turn it on first? No, that can’t be, Kazu thought.

“Assist mode, undisable!…?”

Again, nothing interesting happened. Kazu banged his head on the wall. Being in the dungeon, it was no place to experiment in his ability. There was no reason to! As long as he relied on his strange ability, he would be able to get out. But curiosity got the better of him. And now, he’s in this predicament.

“Assist mode, On!”

“Assist mode, Turn on!”

“Assist mode, Able!”

“Assist mode, force on!”

Every keyword had no effect. Kazu had always hated voice commands. They were a gimmick in technology and they were a gimmick now. It made everything more complicated than it should be contrary to its supposed function, he thought.

Laying down his back on the wall, he gave up to turn it back on. Slight irritation crept up to his face.

However, one last try, he thought. “Assist mode… activate.”

His vision turned into a computer like boot-up command line. Millions of code appeared in his vision that seemed to ingrain itself into his brain. No, he could say that the information flowing through his eyes were knowledge he already knew. The boot up just reminded him of such knowledge.

Through all of this information, he figured out that his strange ability had already ingrained itself in him when he came to this world. He just wasn’t made aware of the information stored inside him. Finally, he had complete understanding of what the conversion meant, and what that meant to his changing body.

Kazu got up from the floor, staring at his hands. He knew he was no longer human and knew that he was invaded by “something.” Although he was thankful for the ability it gave him, a part of his heart still yearned to be human. What would happen once he returns back to Earth? What would happen if they found out he was an alien? Those thoughts lingered in Kazu’s mind.

Yet even with that knowledge, there’s no use in groveling over it. The answer will eventually come to him as long as he continued surviving.


“Assist mode, HP/MP parameters disable. Damage indicator disable. XP indicator minimize.”

He found out that HP and MP were fake. It was an approximate quantification results of observation of one’s, or a being’s, vitality or life force and “energy”. In simpler terms, hp and mp are useless.

Damage indicator was also useless. At higher levels, they became more inaccurate. If he gets too reliant on the damage indicator, then the inaccuracies of it might cost him his life, Kazu thought.

However, there was one truth in all of that. And that is the level ups. Each level up gave him a boost of strength. That was true and that's because his ability changes his body structure to be more rigid, flexible, and have higher reflexes with each level up. This goes along with memory capacity counted as intelligence and processing speed counted as wisdom.

Sigh.

***


After leaving the room, he followed the trail of corpses back to the part where he killed hundreds of zombies. There were still linger walking corpses in the path he took.

Each time he passed by, a stab went right to their chest. Kazu did not look nor confirmed his kill on the zombie. A blank expression sat on his face as he walked through the corpse ridden corridors.

Monsters stronger than a zombie never appeared for the whole duration of his walk. Swaying from side to side, he persisted wandering the dungeon.

His eyes, lifeless. Each stab at a wandering zombie looked robotic. He was no longer following the trail of corpses. Instead, he followed the breeze of the wind on a whim.

Suddenly, a cyclops spotted him. It was alone and so was he. The cyclops brandished its club and rushed at the pre-emptive strike. However, Kazu’s eyes were still unlit.

The club swung at his head. But to him, it looked slow. Every detail, every scratch, every burn on the club, Kazu saw them as it aimed at his head. Yet his instincts still kicked. Dodging the club by a hairline, his body flipped backwards three times.

Now lunging forward, he aimed his blade at the neck of the cyclops. A surprise came to Kazu when his blade was deflected by a wooden bat. Looking closer at the cyclops, it had more armour than the cyclops he faced yesterday. A sense of superiority permeated with every move of this special cyclops.

The beating of  Kazu's heart grew faster. In front of him, the monster was no longer the brainless zombies he killed hundreds of. This one had skill. Even though he had killed several cyclops yesterday, they felt weak compared to this one.

Launching himself again, the cyclops deflected every attack Kazu threw. If it wasn't for his own brute strength and profound reflexes, he would have lost long ago. Kazu realized all that XP grind fruited to nothing. Strength was useless without actual skill.

With Mako, he could never win against her even if she used weaker characters. Kazu bit his lips hard enough for it to bleed. Narrowing his eyes, he focused all of his concentration into the fight.

The cyclops’ surprised Kazu once more. It also boasted of its agility, flipping from side to side, backwards, and jumping on walls to change directions in rapid successions. In fact, Kazu was the one being pushed back.

<< Scan >>

Status
Name(Captain) Cyclops Lv. 37TypeOrc
Description: Leader of the cyclopes battalion of the 2nd floor, Ephermal Dungeon.


Even though he had already admitted that the statuses were useless, habits die hard.

Tch. Kazu clicked his tongue.

For a second, he had been pre-occupied by the dialogue popping up. The cyclops saw that chance and lunged at Kazu at full speed.

Bam~!

All the air in his lungs escaped. The strike of the club sent him flying several meters away. However, Kazu didn’t back down. Once he got up from the ground, he lunged at the cyclops.

On the other hand, the cyclops had already anticipated Kazu’s reaction. A sly grin showed on its lips as the prey jumped right into its trap. It saw Kazu as a weakling that relied on brute strength—which was true. Predicting the movements of such opponents were an easy task to such an experienced veteran of combat.

???: Get back!

The perfect timed upwards bash from the cyclops missed Kazu just by a hairline. He had backed off just at the right time.

Dumbfounded at the voice, Kazu’s eyes searched everywhere for its original. Although, the sweet voice sounded like it came from his head. His awareness skill also didn’t pick up any other signs of life other than him and the cyclops.

???: Left!

Kazu side stepped to the left. A whirlwind passed by him as soon as he left the space.

???: Duck!

After ducking, gusts of wind passed by where his head should be. The voice saved him a total of 3 times.

Knowing that this was a losing battle, Kazu ran away using his fastest speed. The corridors passed by his vision. Whenever he saw a door up ahead, the next split second, it was already behind him.

However, it wasn’t time to be rejoicing. Grunts and loud smashes of the ground resonated behind him. The cyclops chose to pursue him.

Beads of sweat ran down Kazu’s cheek. The impact from earlier took a lot out of him. He didn’t know whether he could keep running or not. But little by little, the distance between him and the cyclops grew. It was the heavy armour the cyclops wore. Without it, the cyclop’s speed might have been equal to the injured him, Kazu thought.

After a few minutes of constant running, the distance became too great for the cyclops to see him. Kazu succeeded in shaking off the pursuer in his juke.

Looking at a random door, he entered it in nonchalance. The awareness skill has yet to fail him, so his trust on its ability is still full.

Kazu’s eyes turned towards his sword. Reaching out to it, he trusted the sword on the floor to let it stand by itself.

“I know you can speak. Who are you!?” Kazu demanded.

???: …

“Fine, if you don’t speak. I’ll leave you here.” Kazu furrowed his brows in irritation.

Of course, that was a bluff. Kazu knew that leaving the sword would be suicide. However, without knowing who he’s dealing with, how could he trust a talking sword?

Step… step… step…

He took slow steps to the door making sure to take each step as loud as he can. His hands reached for the door’s knob, twisting it, then turning it. The door then made a creaking noise from its ungreased joints.

???: Fine, fine! I’ll tell you… in one condition. The sweet familiar voice resonated in Kazu’s ear.

“What condition?” Kazu grinned as he moved back to his original position.

???: I’ll tell you when you get out of this dungeon.

“Huuh?!” Kazu roared. “How do I know you’re worth trusting if you don’t tell me who you are first?!”

???: Didn’t I save you earlier? With your pathetic skills, how can you survive this dungeon without me?!

“What?!” Kazu stumbled a few steps back. It was a low blow, according to him. “You… you don’t know that!”

???: Pfft, you can’t even tell how bad you are at fighting. Go ahead and die!

“Heeeh.” Kazu sighed. “If you wanted me to die in the first place, you wouldn’t even save me. Puuii” He tried to spit to show his disbelief, but of course, that too, failed. Instead, it made him look stupid.

???: Hahahaha, did you just try to spit right now? The sword laughed.

Somehow, the conversation felt natural to Kazu. His normal conversation attitude naturally came out unlike his time with Brett’s family. Although in that case, it was because he was still bewildered at his current situation—transported to a new world.

“Shut up!” Kazu’s ears turned bright red. “At any rate, I still don’t know who you are! And that means I can’t trust you. Hmph.”

???: So stubborn! Fine… The sword groaned. I’ll do anything you say once we’re out of this mess….

With half of his faced the other way, Kazu looked at her with one eye. “Anything… like what?”

???: My…my body will be yours!

“B-b-b-body?!” Kazu shouted.

???: What are you staring at?! Don’t look at me with those lecherous eyes!

“Bah! Who would look?!” Kazu, once again, stumbled backwards unable to stop his blushing. “You’re a sword! A flat sword!”

???: Guah! Flat?! The sword threw away all of the context within Kazu’s words. Instead, the word flat struck a chord on her nerves.

Suddenly, dim yellow purplish light swirled around the sword. On top of the sword, a female ghost appeared. The ghost, more opaque than before, stared down at Kazu. Pure silver hair ran down her shoulders all the way to her waist. Her frilled dress grasped at every curve of her body, yet didn’t cover her tempting slender neck and collarbone.

Kazu’s eyes narrowed downwards to her chest and said, “Ha! You are flat!”

Bam!

The air split, making a noise from the sudden motion of Kazu’s body. A small crater appeared on the wall where he crashed.


“So what if I’m flat!?” She shouted. “You… you... you… always like this!”

Bam, bam, bam, bam!

“No more…!” Kazu groaned in pain. “I give up.... I submit… help...”

“*Sniff* Don’t *sniff* tease a lady’s insecurity!” She wiped her tears off with her oversized sleeves.

“Fine. I’ll trust you now that you’ve shown yourself…” Kazu’s eyes turned to look at her face to face. Then, his eyes turned downwards as if checking her out.

“Gyah! What are you looking at?!” She screamed.

“Nothing nothing…” Kazu mumbled. “You really look like someone I know.”

“Well I’m not. Hmph!” She pouted.

Looking at her straight in the eyes, he continued, “Kazu Tomoe. My name.”

“U-un… Melith Cross. Its fine to call me Mel.” Her gaze turned downwards and a hint of red formed on her cheeks. In turn, Kazu also became embarrassed at the sudden awkwardness.

A few moments of silence passed by, Kazu coughed to gain back her attention. “So, why are you a ghost?”

“What?! I’m not a ghost!” Mel shouted. Before continuing her dialogue, she exhaled and crossed her arms in pride.

“I’m a greatsword! Look!” She pointed at the sword stuck on the floor. Its rusted blade, chipped at certain places, and worn down handle made her statement unbelievable.

“Ah- a rusted sword.” Kazu’s eyes narrowed.

“Shut up!” Her hands swung in exaggerated movements. “You’ll see once my power comes back!”

In response, Kazu gave a slight nod—a sign of both agreement and disbelief so that an argument can be avoided.

“Right now, you’re weak!” An imaginary cold arrow made its way to Kazu’s heart saying those exact words.

However, it was true. He relied too much on the ability and treated the world as a game. As long as he leveled up, it would be the end of all possible threats, he thought. Nevertheless, the cyclops, a few levels higher, showed him up. With his inflated stat gain, he should have beaten the cyclops. Yet, in game terminology, the cyclops stomped him instead.

“Your raw strength is fine because you have that.” Her eyes looked at him in a questioning manner. “But, you don’t know how to fight and you don’t have any fighting experience.”

2 more imaginary arrows penetrated Kazu’s heart. Exploitation and abuse of mechanics were his best assets after all. Her cold words told him that he had no way of surviving in this dog eat dog nature.

“Right, That’s it!” Mel’s eyes turned to Kazu. “Why’re you on the ground?”

“Leave me alone. I’ll just weep in this corner.” Kazu dragged his body to the corner of the room. Then, he laid down in fetal position. “This position is the best when you’re depresse--- Ow, ow, ow!”

With one hand on his collar, Mel dragged him back to the middle of the room. A fed up look a mother would show to her son or daughter swept across her face.

“Anyways. Don’t worry about that.” She smiled. “I’ll help you.”

“Don’t smile please…” Kazu blushed. “-It’s scary…”

“What?!” Mel shouted.

In reality, Kazu opted to tell a lie. Her smile made his heart skip a beat and his earlobes heated up to a bright red. Even more so because she looked like Aiko. Kazu knew that such a coincidence was impossible, yet wanted to believe that such a coincidence could be possible at the bottom of his heart.

***


Large bones, cleaned of its meat, impaled the walls. Several hollowed out exoskeletons of the spider bee lookalikes littered the hallway. A single man in black hair walked up to the grand scene of what looked like a massive fight between the undead and the living monsters.

On his waist, a rusted sword giving off a faint yellow light. Yet when he entered the scene, his expression neither looked surprised or disgusted. Instead, a simple yawn escaped his breath. The reason for that is—

Mel: Kazu! Hurry up! Stop being so slow! Why are you yawning at a time right now?! If you’re tired go sleep! Wait, don’t sleep, keep walking forward!

The constant nagging of the sword.

“Agggh! Shut up!” Kazu shouted. “How would you know how to get out in the first place?!”

Mel: Don’t question me! I’m older than you! Haven’t your parents ever taught you not to be rude to your elders!

“Grandmo-”

Bam!

The gravity around his area forced him down on the ground. Cracks on the floor stretched out, then creating a crater in a meter radius around Kazu.

Mel: Stupid!

“Fine fine! Just stop!”


At that signal, the heavy gravity around him dissipated in an instant. Eyebags could be seen under Kazu’s eyes even though he had a full sleep earlier. But with the constant nagging, exhaustion came just around the corner.

Suddenly, large steps from behind Kazu resonated in the dark hallways. The steps didn’t sound as large as an ogre, but it had a huge build compared to trolls. Kazu smirked as he saw the outline of the being—a cyclops wearing full armour.

“Mel, you sure this’ll work right?!” Kazu whispered.

Mel: Of course. Fighting is my specialty unlike someone! Another stab at Kazu drained away his mental energy.

<< Rising Wind >>

Creating a boom from the sudden change of speed, Kazu lunged at the cyclops just before it turned the corner as a surprise attack. Stomping his foot on the ground, the blade tore through the air aimed at the neck of the Cyclops.

Mel: Stop aiming for the neck! Its obvious he was expecting that! Tackle him to avoid the kick!

Clang!

The club blocked his blade, numbing the Kazu’s fingers and hands on the handle. A kick already made its way to Kazu’s side as the cyclops looked at him with a smirk. But before it landed, Kazu forced his body to move forward, tackling forward creating a thud.

“Guuh!” The cyclops screamed, surprised, his smirk disappeared from his face beneath his mask. Clenching his club, it spun its body to regain footing on the floor.

BOOOOM!

A loud sonic boom pierced its ear coming from the direction of his opponent. Large gusts gathered in a gale. Hundreds of blades became visible as the wind took on a visible manifestation. It hurled at him, in a split second, his left hand tore apart from his body even with the armour on. Of course, the skill Kazu used was Forward Gale.

Mel: Good, good. Keep following my instructions and you’ll learn.

“We just made a loud noise you know!” Kazu shouted. “What are you going to do about the monsters coming at us?!”

Mel: Stop talking and focus on the fight.

“This guy still alive?!” Kazu widened his eyes.

The cyclop’s stumped arm’s already stopped bleeding. For a monster, it had naturally high regeneration. Monsters in the dungeon weren’t normal, they were fed by the magical nature of the dungeon itself creating wild variations of the normal monsters outside. This was especially true to the monster named Euopth, one of the masterpieces of the dungeon and king of the 2nd floor.

The cyclop’s skin turned red and lunged with extreme speed. Its pupil were no longer in the center of its eye, only the whites showed. Berserk adrenaline rushed to its brain and to every fiber of its muscle provided massive amounts of strength.

Bam! Clang! Whoosh!

Kazu managed to block its first strike, then a counter attack at its neck—also blocked by the cyclops. His next attack missed as the cyclops flipped backwards.

Mel: I told you stop aiming at the neck...

“I can’t help it *sob*” Kazu cried.

Clang! Clang! Clang!

The cyclops and Kazu were at a standstill. Neither one backed down from each other and both were even in terms of skill. However, Kazu had Mel teaching him so the more the fight gets dragged out, the more amount of openings he saw as he learned through her instructions.

But it was too late, dozens upon dozens of cyclops, ogres, trolls, goblins, and spider bees marched in from the direction of the piles of bodies. There was no time to finish the fight with the cyclops.

Mel: Run now!
***


Again, Kazu had his back against the wall in the dark room alone with the sword, Mel. Dripping droplets in the room irritated him with his enhanced senses. Each drop sparkled a reflection from the light that seeped into the room through the cracks of the door. Sounds of footsteps, crawling, and grunts came from a far as he waited for it all to calm down.

Mel: Stop aiming for the neck. We didn’t kill that thing because of you!

Kazu dared not to speak because the army of monsters were still near him. But after a while, the noises came down and the army went out of range of his awareness.

“Telling me not to aim for the neck isn’t gonna help!” Kazu cried out. “In the first place, where am I supposed to aim for a kill?”

Mel: Stupid stupid stupid… sigh.

A ghost faded in beside Kazu with her back against the wall. Her narrowed eyes turned to the man beside her. Seeing him ask that question with sincerity, her lips turned up into a pout and another sigh ran through her mouth.

“Fighting isn’t the same as killing.” Her head turned upwards, looking away from him into the distance ceiling. “Fighting… its as if you’re dancing. Its supposed to be majestic, yet you fight like you’re using a club or a bat. Even with the skills you use, you look at the sword like it's a tool to kill.”

Mel stood up from where she sat. Each step she took gave a hint of grace until she ended up in the middle of the room. She turned her body to face Kazu and her eyes narrowed in concentration.

“You… for some reason obtained the Thousand Winds Style and the Wanderer’s route.” Her lips turned into a seductive smile. “I was the one who wrote the Wanderer’s route for the Thousand Winds, but I never wrote the Thousand Winds style itself… so how did you...?”

Kazu’s eyes shifted down to avoid her gaze. In truth, he had no idea why it unlocked. One day, while he was practicing moves from the games he played, the skill tree unlocked itself.

For a split second, a light blinked in Mel’s narrowed eyes as her gaze caught Kazu’s. Light that seeped in from the door reflected on her eyes. The bewitching gaze stole all of Kazu’s attention.

“I see...” From watching his eyes alone, Mel understood everything Kazu went through. She smiled at him, feeling sorry for what he had to go through. Then, the sword by Kazu’s waist floated. It softly breezed to Mel’s hand.

“Since you only learned the skills, you have no idea of what the swordplay is. Watch carefully and ingrain this dance into your very soul.”

Shiiiiinnn!

The rusted blade transformed into a Great Claymore. Sparkles of purple and golden light spread out from the sudden transformation.

Golden veins ran through it and formed a cross right in the middle of the blade. Liquid that glowed light flowed through the veins, beating with the cross in the middle as the heart. The blade itself measured at 2 meters without the handle and its flat side measured to be around 30 cm. Numerous unknown inscriptions glowed in purple and gold. Celtic patterns formed the hilt, it was as if the snakes were alive.

“—Melcross.” She whispered.

Suddenly, she swung the sword that was taller than her. Once the first swing finished, she would swing another with little effort.

Grace permeated every step and every swing of the blade. Impossible movements, yet those very movements she did made them possible.

Each movement founded the philosophy of the whimsical wind. Kazu could only describe it as dancing with a giant—the giant’s name, Wind. Her beautiful dance made Kazu’s eyes water as he didn’t allow himself to blink. To blink is to miss a part of the beauty.

Sword Mastery and Sword Proficiency deleted.
Affinity with any other weapons greatly reduced.


Learned Dance of the Wind (Beginner)


She finished and the sword went back to its normal rusted sword look. Step, step, step... her graceful steps made its way in front of Kazu who laid his back on the wall.

“Kazu, you should already know this.” Her eyes narrowed with an expression of sadness. Then, she knelt down to level her eyes with him.“You are no longer human. I know of your ability. You are becoming...  converting into my species, but you are still far away from completion.”

“If you promise to help me find a way to unseal myself...” She smiled. “I’ll be yours.”


Next Chapter >>


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Thanks for reading. Feedback, proofreading, comments are greatly appreciated!

Spoiler :

I need help with writing prose... when I read it, I'm not that happy with my descriptions or the way its written
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