Two and a half years after the
It’s been three years since I
According to Tamiko’s
calendar, it is now May. It is my fourth spring here on the 50th underground floor
of Outsuka Metro, although it does not feel like the season is here at all.
“Abeshuu, Oldman Uni is
coming, squeak.” (Tamiko)
“Yeah, I know.”
As I and Tamiko brush our
teeth in the oasis (their toothbrushes are toothpicks made from a bundle of
shrub branches), the unicorn approaches soundlessly from the back corridor.
It is one with the slightly
broken tip of its horn, a.k.a. “Oldman Uni” who has become a familiar
face to the two of us. As usual, there is no sound of footsteps. It is an
effect of the unicorns’ Fungal Skills.
“Good morning, Oldman
Oldman Uni approached the
water’s edge and gulped down a drink of water. The distance between Oldman Uni and
us was about three meters. It has taken a year for him (a male with a
magnificent thing) to get this close.
However, he has not yet warmed
up to us. If we approach him any closer, he swings his horns at us and threatens
us, and he does not eat any of the grass or mushrooms that we give him.
This Oldman Uni is the one we
encounter the most often. In fact, I have a feeling that he comes here when we
are around. And yet, he never lets us get close to him, so he’s a real tsundere
“I read in a fantasy
novel that unicorns only let pure maidens touch them.” (Shuu)
“I’m a maiden, squeak.”
“Sure, sure a pure
“Is Abeshuu a virgin,
“Your mother shouldn’t
have waste time teaching you useless words.” (Shuu)
“What do you mean, squeak?”
“Fine, okay, we’ll finish
this sooner… What’s with that look?” (Shuu)
The unicorns are mild-mannered
and averse to conflicts, but they are one of the strongest fighters on this
floor. So, their presence here inevitably makes it harder for other Metro Beasts
to approach us. So, the bathing time can also be relaxing. Of course, we have
to be at least vigilant enough.
And then, at the very edge of my
senses, a large presence appeared. It is a Ghost Wolf by the looks of it.
Tamiko’s ears perk up as if she has noticed it from the sound, but she doesn’t
stop brushing the white fur on her belly.
“I’ve come to think of it
as nothing more than a ghost wolf. It doesn’t mean I’m letting my guard down,
I am now level 54 and I have mastered
13 Fungal Abilities. The Ghost Wolves and Goblins, who were powerful once enemies
when I first awakened, are no longer a match for me if we go head to head.
“Cut them, squeak?”
“If they don’t come from
the other side, let’s leave them alone. Let’s go back, get ready, and go
hunting again today.” (Shuu)
From the hideout, we take the
main path to the right, which branches off at the end of the street. After
about an hour of going through the Goblin territory, we come to a vast
grassland area that stretches about 1.2 kilometers from one end to the other.
This is one of the main hunting grounds after I crossed the level 50 mark.
It is a paradise for insects
and small animals, with green and purple flowers, giant horsetails, royal
ferns, and mysterious foxtail-like plants. No matter when I come here, the air
is always foggy and humid.
Thick concrete pillars stand
in rows like large trees, and on top of them, ogres are building nests of dead
grass. They are the masters of this place, competing for survival all year
round with Orthrus and Demon Centipedes.
The Ogre-a bipedal gorilla
with black body hair-is one of the most deadly Metro Beast on the 50th floor of
the Outsuka Metro. It is superior to Orthrus and Wraiths in terms of toughness,
and its intelligence is also surprisingly high, as expected from a gorilla-like
Immediately after entering the
Ogre Grasslands, I spread spores from my whole body.
My tenth Fungal Skills, [Sensory
The principle behind it is
unknown, but I am able to send invisible microscopic particles (I assumed to be
spores) from my body and detect the three-dimensional shapes and actions of targets
to which they adhere. When I first learned it, I was only able to have a range of
about 30 meters, but now I can reach a radius of up to 50 meters. By swinging
my arm in a direction, I can also increase the range in that direction.
The sensed information is very
intuitive. It is difficult to explain, but it is another sense, completely
different from sight, hearing, and so on. The things behind me and the rocks
are directly perceived by my brain like the world captured everything. I can sense
them even if I close my eyes or cover my ears. That’s all I can say.
I have absolutely no idea why
information about attached spores is fed back to my brain. To put it bluntly,
it is an overpowered skill.
I learned this eight months
ago, but it took me more than two weeks to master the ability. Since then, I
have been able to respond to approaching enemies who are not even close to
Tamiko’s auditory range, which has increased the stability of our hunts. Among
the thirteen Fungal Abilities that I have mastered so far, this is one of the
most useful, along with the [Regenerative Mycelium].
Spreading my hands, I began
sensing. Countless invisible spores shoot out, and information about the area
flows into my brain. I confirm the presence of an Ogre on a pillar at the far
right. There seems to be no one else around.
“Okay, let us hunt.”
“Abeshuu, you can’t be
too careful, squeak.” (Tamiko)
Lowering Tamiko from my
shoulder, I moved in as close as I could without making a sound. When he was
about ten meters away, a huge shadow rose up from the top of a pillar. Then,
with a quick jump, the shadow leaps down and lands heavily with a thud.
It was even bigger than the Wraith,
a hulking figure that looked to be about two and a half meters tall. It had a massive
pectoral, arms as thick as logs, thick black body hair, gleaming eyes and sharp
fangs, and a horn on his forehead that is shorter and thicker than a unicorn’s.
It looks like it has a lot of hair, but it does not.
“…It’s a handsome guy…
For some reason…” (Shuu)
Its face looks sculpted. The
face then changes at once to a monstrous expression when it enters into battle.
“Uho! Uho!” (Ogre)
The gorilla or Ogre slaps its chest
with a bam-bam. It is threatening me and Tamiko.
“It’s okay, squeak. It’s
a level that Abeshuu can handle, squeak.” (Tamiko)
I summoned my [Hypha Shield]
in my left hand and a [Hypha Hammer] in my right.
My sixth Fungal Skill is the [Hypha
The nearly one-meter-long
handle is hard and bone-like, similar to the [Hypha Sword], but the hammerhead
is heavy and solid as if it were condensed. Also, it is more effective than the
[Hypha Sword] against Ogres, whose body hair makes it difficult for blades to
If it was going to run away,
it was going to target another one, but this one seemed to be determined to fight.
I had fought many times
before, but this was not an opponent I could afford to let down my guard.
“No hard feelings.”
I leaped at it with my shield
in front and hammer on my shoulder.
According to Tamiko’s third Fungal
Skill [Risk Counter], it has “the ability to roughly gauge an opponent’s
strength,” the Ogre is roughly around level 50 or so (just as Tamiko’s
mother had estimated). Therefore, at this point in time, My level is slightly
above the average level of Ogres.
However, the level is only an
indicator of the strength of the mycelium that takes root in the creature’s body.
The actual ability is evaluated differently depending on the species of the
Metro Beast. The other side has power and toughness that defies differences in
The ogre swings its arm. The speed
and force of the swing make the air vibrate, and the accompanying wind pressure
alone pushes my body down.
I am not planning on blocking
it, but focusing on evading it. In a contest of raw strength, I am still no
match for it.
I took advantage of the
opportunity and delivered a blow, a hammer to the side of its head. My palms
feel a numbing sensation, and the impact is absorbed by my compact, flexible muscles.
The hammer almost makes up for
the difference in reach. I dodged my opponent’s attacks and counter with small,
steady strikes. The fight would be quicker if I could hit its knees, but its long
arms and forward-leaning posture make it difficult to aim for its lower body.
It was the next best thing: a body blow.
Ogre did not care about the body
blow and repeated its large swing one-shot KO attacks, but after the seventh blow,
it stopped moving for a moment. The area, where I had repeatedly struck at the
same spot, seemed to have finally cracked my opponent’s iron wall.
The Ogre receives my eighth blow
and backs away, its body bent into a crouching position. Once I had taken some distance
and I try to recover some of my stamina, I was able to get a good look at my opponent.
Even with my ability [Regenerative
Mycelium], the opponent was a super-strong gorilla, and even a single blow
could turn the tables on me. My back was soaked with sweat as I continued to
fight my way through.
“Abeshuu! The other guys
may come, squeak! Beat it soon, squeak!” (Tamiko)
“Yeah, I’ll take care of
Basically, ogres don’t come together,
and they don’t feel a sense of camaraderie among themselves, even if they are
family members or of the same species. Even so, the smell of violence and blood
may attract other ogres. We have to end this as soon as possible.
Then the Ogre’s fingertips moved,
and mycelium forms a sphere at the Ogre’s fingertips.
“That guy, it’s making a mycelial
ball, squeak!” (Tamiko)
It took the purple, toxic-looking
ball of mycelium and puts it in its mouth. It chewed it before swallowing.
It growled and its chest is heaving.
Its eyes are bloodshot and drool is dripping on the ground.
“Isn’t it a dangerous one?”
“It’s doping, squeak! Watchout,
It’s like a buffing ability in
video games. It seems to be mentally sharp as well. The pressure coming from it
seems to be increasing.
An Ogre jumps at me. “Boom!”
The ground where it landed became a crater. I jumped back just in time and slammed
the hammer down its head. The tip of its horn is broken off, but the ogre did
not even flinch and swung its arm towards me.
The air pressure rattled my
footing. Then a hairy arm is coming down. A direct hit.
My ninth Fungal Skill, [Enhanced
Kick the ground hard I jump
diagonally backward. I landed on the ground sliding, kicking away the grass.
The distance between the two of us widens, and the Ogre pauses. Its bloodshot
eyes are still there, but it is breathing heavily. It seems to be drained of
It might be safer to fight a
battle of attrition.
But Tamiko is right, if we
take our time, other beasts may come.
“…I shouldn’t be
My mycelium shield in my left
hand is thrown forward, and a gray mycelium ball appeared at my fingertips.
My twelfth Fungal Skill is a smokescreen
I threw it with a snap. In
front of the ogre, under its feet.
Poof! Gray smoke rises. The
smoke hangs in the air, obscuring the Ogre’s sight.
But I can still sense it. Not
because of its confused cries, but because of the ability of my [Sensory Spores].
I gripped the hammer with both
hands and bend my knees.
I feel the power of my
mycelium clinging to the muscles of my thighs and calves. [Enhanced Leaping Ability].
I leaped in a straight line
towards the ogre. I plunged straight into the gray cloud.
A moment before the Ogre notices
my approach, the Hypha Hammer reaches the Ogre’s face.
A blow with the momentum of my
dash and full weight of my body. As expected, the ogre’s upper body is thrown
I did not make a peep. The blinding
would be meaningless.
Still, I roared a war cry in my
With a yell (inside), I slammed
the hammer down.
While dodging the arm that is
being swung around randomly, I kept hitting. So, I bear down.
I scattered blows to its whole
body. Hitting its torso and legs with small blows, and hitting its head with
all my strength.
Eventually, the cloud of smoke
dissolves into the air, and the figure of the Ogre with blood all over its face
appears. It is still standing on two legs, but its consciousness is still there
just dazed and shaking unsteadily on its feet.
“…I’m sorry. I’ll make
this quick.” (Shuu)
I summoned out my [Hypha Sword].
I pulled the butt of the hilt against my body and thrust with all my might. The
ogre stops moving and the sword is plunged into its throat, and the fight is
The flesh of ogres, to be
honest, not very good. It is tough, chewy, and smells rancid. Neither grilling nor
boiling works, it is inedible.
I quickly remove its sporangium
and climb to the top of the pillar that used to be the ogre’s nest. I feel
sorry for it, but I know that another one will soon make a nest here, too.
I stand back to back with
Tamiko, watching my surroundings and chewing on the sporangium. It’s a bit
bigger than the Ghost Wolf’s, but both Tamiko and I eat a piece of it. Of
course, they don’t taste good.
“Tamiko, you’ve grown
In the past three years, she
has grown at least five centimeters in height. She can now eat one or two of
the larger sporangia without leaving any leftovers. In terms of volume, a sporangium
should be at least double the size of her stomach, so I can’t help but wonder
“What is it, squeak?”
“Tamiko is eight years
old, right? I don’t know how long your life span is.” (Shuu)
The lifespan of a normal
squirrel is about seven years, but Tamiko’s mother lived to be at least
thirty-five years old. She might have lived as long as a human being.
“How big was your mother?”
“I think we are about the
same size now, squeak. I’m still not at her level, squeak.” (Tamiko)
Tamiko is currently at level
The reason why her growth
speed is slower than that of mine is probably because of the difference between
our races or the amount of sporangium we can take in due to our physique. Maybe,
it’s both, most likely.
Incidentally, she has four Fungal
[Enhanced Hearing], our key to
easily searching enemies.
[Hypha Shell] which is like a
tortoise’s shell armor.
[Risk Counter] which roughly
estimates the level of the opponent she sees.
And her longed-for offensive
ability. It is a super hardening ability of her front teeth, which can even rival
my Hypha Swords sharpness. When activated, her front teeth are covered with
silver, so it seems that they are coated with metallic mycelium?
“Ghost Wolf, Blue Goblin,
Red Goblin, Land Sahuagin, Death Tentacles, Queen Hermit Crab, Demon Centipede…
gradually making the targets stronger and stronger, we can now hunt even the tier
top-class Ogre and Orthrus.” (Shuu)
“Yes, squeak.” (Tamiko)
“Tamiko and I are getting
stronger and stronger, and we’re more than capable of going toe to toe in a
“Yes, squeak.” (Tamiko)
why. I think it’s time for me to challenge the boss again.” (Shuu)