28 Gate

Laying in the bed of a hotel room, I stare at the ceiling as I contemplate, 'Breaking the rules, huh! Well, this is concerning'.

Miach knew that we could all get killed but he did it anyway because otherwise, we'd be breaking the rules. That's ridiculous! There is no way I can trust his judgment after hearing this.

Right now, he is still wary of me, or rather of my system and its source. But he is keeping calm because he trusts that I'm not going to harm anyone. And also, because he feels indebted to me since I'm supporting him financially with nothing in return.

But still, who knows! Someday, he might decide that me, keeping secrets, is breaking the rules.

Maybe joining Miach Familia wasn't the right choice. Then again, Miach's ridiculous naivety is keeping me alive right now.

I literally can't imagine any other deity staying this quiet after suspecting the presence of a mysterious being superior enough to give blessings to humans (Except for shady ones who would try to take advantage of me in return for their silence).

Surely, any other deity would've immediately shown hostility towards me, my system, and whoever gave it to me. Then, they would've taken some measures against us. And since interrogating me would prove pointless, they might've resorted to more extreme measures (Some deities would say, "why not kill him and get it over with?").

So, not joining a Familia at all was the right choice? No, they would've thought that I'm a half-monster and I would've been marked as an enemy by Dionysus, Hermes, and Loki. There is no way I would've been able to afford that.

Haha, I'm going around in circles! I should stop thinking about what I should've done and think about what I should do.

Alright!

I already made a plan and told Miach how to set it in motion.

Unless something unexpected happens, Miach Familia should be able to stand back on its feet without my direct involvement. I only have to provide financial support for rebuilding the pharmacy.

I have more than sixty million vals right now. In my estimation, the rebuilding expenses should be between ten to twenty million vals.

I'll still have to pay both Fernard and Tsubaki. I asked Fernard to make me a custom weapon, and I still don't know how much it will cost.

And I asked Tsubaki to make me a Durandal sword and left everything else to her. I know for a fact that her services will cost me a fortune; A Durandal forged by Tsubaki (The Cyclops) costs at least a hundred million vals.

So, starting from tomorrow, I'll go to the dungeon and grind for money.

---

The next morning, we have breakfast at the hotel then we go separate ways.

Miach heads for Goibniu Familia to ask them to rebuild the pharmacy.

Nahza sets out to buy equipment used for brewing potions. It will take time to assemble the needed equipment, that's why she decided to start gathering them sooner than later.

I visit the guild and accept a couple of Resource Gathering Quests, check-in with Eina and talk to her about the quests I accepted and the Floors I'm about to visit (She's more professional and easier to deal with than ever. Probably because she's lost interest in me after what happened yesterday. Well, I'm starting to like her now), then I head to the dungeon accompanied by Daphne and Cassandra.

They also want to help in earning money. And since they got the impression that I like to do things alone, they were about to leave without me. I'm the one who asked for their company.

I wanted to have Cassandra with me as I venture through the Large Tree Labyrinth (19th-24th Floors of the dungeon, in which a large variety of poisonous monsters resides).

The level of my 'Abnormal Resistance' development ability is low, and it won't be effective against most poisons.

I'm perceptible and fast enough not to be poisoned by any of the monsters on these Floors, but this is only for the monsters on the Middle Floors.

What would I do if I meet a strong poisonous monster on deeper floors? I need 'Abnormal Resistance' to be in a higher level for such occasion.

So, I'll deliberately let myself be poisoned and Cassandra would heal me right afterward. This way, I can raise the skill level quickly.

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I did that once before, but it didn't prove effective. I was alone, so I only let the weakest of poisons hit me. I was worried that if I contracted a poison that causes Instant Paralysis, I wouldn't be able to drink the Antivenin right away.

That's why I asked for Cassandra and Daphne's help.

---

On the Upper Floors of the dungeon, I stay out of the way and watch Daphne and Cassandra hunt monsters. Most of the monsters up here are too weak to give me any experience points, so I thought I'd let them do all the fighting and get a better hang on their ability.

Daphne, who is a skilled assassin-type adventurer, does most of the fighting. While Cassandra, who is a healer-type, only supports her from the back.

And when we reach our destination (The Large Tree Labyrinth), we follow a certain routine.

Every time we come across a group of monsters, I eliminate most of them using light magic and let the rest inflict me with their poison. Daphne would slay them while Cassandra heals me.

I specifically accepted quests for gathering ingredients found in the Large Tree Labyrinth because it's where the highest density of poisonous monsters resides. It wasn't hard to find these quests because a lot of ingredients used for healing purposes are found in there.

I don't use my Inventory (as I usually do) to collect ingredients or store them. Since it can't be explained by my Status (Falna), I decided not to show it to anyone unless it's an emergency. We will only spend the day hunting here. The girls gather the loot and I carry it. Carrying extra few kilos of loot isn't a problem for me.*

We continue hunting on the Large Tree Labyrinth and don't go any deeper, because the next few Floors are known as the Water City. And as the name suggests, they're filled with water bodies and marine monsters.

My light magic is ineffective against monsters that use water to defend, and I don't have any swords on me. My two swords got destroyed in the Familia War, and the replacements aren't finished yet. Of course, I can always use Ruler's Hand, but it would be an unnecessary hassle fighting using nothing but it. Also, Cassandra and Daphne still aren't strong enough to keep up on these Floors.

Anyway, we spend the day hunting there…

---

"…Cure Ephialtes!" Cassandra finished casting her spell on Rick while Daphne was busy collecting the loot from dead monsters.

"Thank you, Cassy," Rick said as he handed her a Mind potion. "Your complexion is getting pale, take this potion. We'll rest here for a while before we get back."

She looked around to find that Daphne and Rick were okay and didn't need any rest. "S-sorry," she apologized.

"Don't be! I'm the one who is exhausting you for my own benefit." Rick tried to soothe her, but apparently, it wasn't enough as she said, "E-even still… other than healing, I can't b-be of much help fighting on these Floors."

"Other than healing? You're the best healer-type adventurer in Orario, Show some pride!" He got irritated due to her lack of confidence.

"Huh!... I-I am?" She thought that he was exaggerating, but his compliment embarrassed her anyway.

"You are!"

Daphne objected, "Everyone knows that the best healer is the Día Saint." Even though she trusted Cassandra's abilities, she couldn't stand Rick's ignorance. Unlike Cassandra, she could tell that he spoke with honesty and wasn't trying to exaggerate.

"I beg to differ!" Rick didn't back down, instead, he started explaining himself, "Amid is the best healer outside the dungeon; She's the best doctor.

Her only healing spell (Día Fratel, which cures everything in a large AOE for a certain amount of time) is only effective in a clinic or a closed space with numerous patients to heal.

But in battle, she's useless. Her spell requires a huge amount of Mind (mana), heals friends and foes without discrimination, and using it to heal light wounds is overkill.

As for Cassy, she can adjust the range and potency of her healing spell (Soul Light) however she likes by controlling her Mind expenditure. And with her other spell (Cure Ephialtes), she can cure all Status Ailments and even Curses.

The only thing that Cassy falls short in is curing illness and diseases. But adventurers don't need those in the Dungeon."

"W-wait… status ailments and curses? I-I only cure poison," Cassandra interjected.

Rick corrected her by saying, "Tsk, you don't even know how amazing your magic is! The spell you've been casting on me can definitely heal both status ailments and curses… I'm sure of it since I also can use magic that cures them."

"Wow… I-I didn't know that!" Cassandra's eyes widened in surprise.

"Just how many magic spells are there on your Falna?" Daphne wondered.

"One. Why do you ask?" Rick answered.

"Huh?" "What?!"

...

---

On our journey back to the surface. I feel disappointed because I only leveled up once, even though I killed hundreds of monsters.

I take out my frustration by punching a Mad Beetle monster to oblivion, then…

Ring~

[You have leveled up.]

[The required condition has been met. A new Class Skill "Gate" has been unlocked.]

[Gate (Level: 1)

Class-specific Skill.

Mana Cost: ?

Enables you to open a hole through space and move between two separate places freely.

You can change the shape and size of the Gate according to your will.

The Gate will function as long as you pour your mana into it.

Restriction 1: Can only be used to connect two places the Player had seen; one of them must be touched by the Player.

Restriction 2: Can only be used once per hour.]

"Yoooshaaaa…!" I scream out my happiness.

Gaining a new skill by leveling up came as a complete surprise to me, however, all this happiness is because of the effects of the skill.

I know that Jinwoo gained a skill by reaching level 70. But with everything going on, I forgot about it.

Anyway, with this skill, I can summon my soldiers by creating a Gate to where they are. And I won't waste my time traveling through the Upper Floors of the Dungeon anymore; I just have to open a Gate to my destination and that's it.

I'll try it right n…

"Huh! D-did something good happen?" asks Cassy.

"He is happy because he doesn't have to carry any loot from this Mad Beetle; He obliterated everything." Says Daphne as she watches the monster turn to ashes.

Ah, I forgot about their presence. "Oh, sorry! It just felt good killing a monster known for its hard exoskeleton with nothing but my fists." I make up an excuse.

"Tsk!" "Hmm!"

Wow, can't they hide their disappointment a little? Anyway, same as the Inventory, I won't show this skill to anyone unless it shows up on my Status. So, testing it will have to wait.

…..

We go back to the hotel and find Miach and Nahza packing our things up.

Apparently, Hestia offered to let us stay at her house (The Hearth Mansion) after she found out that we had left Hephaestus's place. Miach accepted her offer to save the money we spend on rent.

And we move, yet again, to another place...

By the time we finish moving our stuff, it is late in the evening and we don't have much time to chitchat with Hestia and her Familia.

I wait until everyone is sleeping, then I try out my new skill.

At first, I intended to open a Gate to the instant dungeon, Shadow Catacombs.

But after some thinking, I realized that this is an inter-dimensional travel skill. It can be used to take me home, the one in the real(?) world. And if I'm successful, I can go back and forth between the two worlds.

So, I touch the air and think, 'create a Gate to my college dorm!'

Ring~

[The entered coordinates do not exist.]

"Did something happen there?"

Alright, how about, 'create a Gate to my uncle's house'?

Ring~

[The entered coordinates do not exist.]

"Hmm!"

After that, I try different locations in different cities that I visited, but the results are all the same.

In the end, 'create a Gate to the spot where I left my soldiers on the 1st floor of the Shadow Catacombs'… Woah!

I start to feel it. From my hand, a magic circle began to formulate and grow bigger according to my will.

Inside the magic circle, I can see the other side (the Shadow Catacombs) clearly.

I make it big enough for me to pass through, and I go to the other side.

I just leave it hanging there as I check on my soldiers, who are very excited to see me. Too excited if you ask me.

Did their stay here without any action bore them?

Well, it doesn't matter now.

The skill is working, and it is awesome.

-------

After I get back to the Hearth Mansion, in the dead of the night, I knock at Lili's door.

She opens it with sleepy eyes, "Mr. Rick!" She exclaims in a mixture of surprise and disappointment; It seems that she thought I was someone else.

"I'm sorry for visiting your room at this hour. There is a favor that I wanted to ask of you, and I didn't want the rest to know." I say.

"How can this Lili be of help?" she narrows her eyes as asks.

"I know that you have a history as an outlaw," I explain. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to judge. I was wondering if you can guide me to a broker. You know, a one that can connect me to a professional with the right expertise."

"…"

She remains silent as looks at me in hesitation. It's clear that she doesn't trust me enough.

"You've heard about the bad blood between us Dian Cecht Familia, right? Now that Dian Cecht has hired adventurers from different Familias as guards, I want to pay one of those adventurers to keep tabs on him. So that I can react in time if he decides to pull another attack or something.

I came to you like this because I don't want Lord Miach to know about this. Apparently, he's too honest to break the law… so, can you help me?" I tell her my intentions to encourage her to help me.

"Northwest Main Street, an underground bar only accessible from the stairwell located in the back of the building…" She tells me how to find a certain shady establishment where I could get my information.

Then, "You can get what you need from the barkeeper there, but the fact that you were looking for someone to spy on Dian Cecht Familia will be sold to Lord Dian Cecht right after you leave." She says it as a matter of fact.

"You're saying that I shouldn't do it?" I ask.

"Not unless you intimidate them enough to know better than to cross you."

"Umm… will do. Thank you and don't tell anyone about this… And if you ever need help, don't hesitate to ask. I'll help if I can.

I immediately head for the establishment she described.

We're in the middle of the night, so I thought that the customers of the bar would be starting to leave. And I can get some alone time with the barkeeper after a short while.

I wait for the Cooldown to end, then I create a Gate to the closest alley (that I visited before) to the bar Lili mentioned.

At first, I make it the size of a peephole. And I look around to see if anyone would notice me.

To my surprise, my Senses pass through (the peephole) and detect everything in the alley.

I find that it's clear, so I activate 'Stealth' and unhide my cloak and helmet to cover my face and body features, then I make the Gate grow bigger then pass throw it.

I don't want anyone to see me enter such an establishment.

----

'Just as dirty as I thought it'd be…'

Rick whispered to himself as he entered the dark and shabby bar. There were so many quests pinned to a bulletin board in the corner that its surface was hidden beneath the mass of paperwork.

From the dim magic-stone lamps to the shady characters gathered in the basement, everything about this place was suspicious.

An animal person missing his front teeth chuckled as he downed an unpleasant-looking beer. One Amazon wore so many rings around her fingers and neck that her tall frame sparkled in the dim light. A masked man was lurking in the back corner. Few customers sat on sofas or around small tables, all conversing in hushed voices.

If the Guild could be called the front, this was the back. People with something to hide frequented these bars rather than the Guild. Reliable or not, information spread through these hubs like wildfire.

"One beer."

The barkeeper immediately filled a mug and placed it over the counter.

Rick didn't touch the beer mug; he just left the payment along with a generous tip on the countertop and walked away to sit in the corner. The tip made it clear for the barkeeper that the man doesn't want to be disturbed.

While waiting for the bar to be empty, Rick used his heightened senses to eavesdrop on the hushed conversations around him.

..

A while later, everyone except Rick and the barkeeper had left…

Rick moved over and sat on a stool near the counter and asked.

"I want to get in touch with one of the new guards over at Dian Cecht Familia's residence. Can you help me with that?"

"Depends on what you need 'em for." The barkeeper kept his eyes on the man in front of him as he wiped down glasses, that didn't need cleaning while talking.

"Do you want 'em to smuggle somethin', stir some… Wait! Are you…?" Then, it hit him.

The man in front of him can be no one other than Rick Stark. He is the only one who would be interested in the residence of Dan Cecht Familia (other than burglars, of course. But burglars know what they're doing; they'd never ask an Information Dealer who would sell them out for a few Vals).

"No, I need an informant; Someone who can keep me updated on Dian Cecht's movements." The words spoken by the man proved the Barkeeper's suspicions.

It's a jackpot! If he played it right, he can get a fortune off this.

He can propose a deal with Dian Cecht (who has a bad reputation). They would hire an actor to report false information to Rick. That way, Dian Cecht can lure Rick into the perfect trap.

"Let me ask around and find who is for hire. You come back in two days with enough coin, and I'll point you in the right direction." The barkeeper didn't blink as he spoke while planning for his next movements.

Rick walked a few steps away before turning around and facing the barkeeper again.

"Not even my Familia knows about this. So if a word comes out, I'll assume you're ready to face the consequences." Threatened Rick as he opened the visor of his helmet.

["Bloodlust" skill has been activated.

Success! The target is now inflicted with "Fear".]

The barkeeper couldn't breathe as an endless dark abyss glared at him through Rick's eyes. He felt as if he was being sucked into the depths of hell.

A few seconds later, Rick closed the visor and turned around to leave.

At that moment, the barkeeper's life flashed before his eyes as he thought to himself…

(The man, in front of me, mercilessly slaughtered an entire Familia without blinkin'. And even though I watched the whole thin' go down from inside the coliseum, I was about to go and trick THIS man?

What would happen if Dian Cecht turns me down, Or if his plans fail AGAIN?

I'm nothin' like the pals from Argus Familia! I'm a nobody, from a no-name outlaw Familia! Why the hell would I risk antagonizin' THE Rick Stark?

Do I have a death wish or somethin'?)

"Oi, Mr. Rick! Can I suggest a different way?"

"Hmm?"

"Those who would betray the Dian Cecht Familia, would also betray you. You can't trust 'em".

The barkeeper thought that Rick would come after him if he was betrayed by anyone. Because that (anyone) was the recommendation of the barkeeper.

So, in order to protect himself, the barkeeper decided to actively help Rick.

"How about I be the one to work for you? I'll snoop around those guards and find out everythin' about Dian Cecht Familia and report back to you. No one would suspect anythin' if the one snoopin' around is an Info Dealer such as myself."

"Hmm, that's actually better for me! But forget about the Familia, just Dian Cecht himself. If he plans to do anything stupid, I want to be prepared in advance… What's your name?"

"Dash Bizelle!"

"Alright, Dash! Here's your down payment". Said Rick as he tossed a purse full of Vals to him.

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{Author: So, you must be wondering about where I have been for the last month or so.

I was in the toilet. *

Joking aside, I'm not gonna say that I'm super busy or things like that. Because I'm not.

It's just that… I FRIGGIN' HATE TYPING.

Recently, I find myself quick to get bored of typing. It's making it hard for me to finish more than a few lines per day. And I don't know the reason for that.

I mean… I'm still enthusiastic about this story. I even have the events of next the two arcs all thought up (in my mind, obviously). But when it comes to putting it into letters, the enthusiasm dies out.

This is my first time authoring a story. I'm not sure if it's a phase that authors go through, or it's just me who is bored, or what.

Anyway, that's why this chapter (well, most chapters really xD) is this late.