The New Gate: Vol.1 Chap. 2 - Part 2

After about five minutes, Tiera raised her face from the towel. Though the tears had stopped, her eyes were still red.

“I’m sorry, I’m fine now.”
“Is-is that so, ma’am.”
“What’s with the ‘ma’am’?”
“No, well, it’s just that even though the curse has been lifted, most of your hair didn’t go back to its original color, so I feel kinda sorry about that ......”

The whole time when Tiera was crying, Shin had felt like he was on pinpricks. He was filled with trepidation that they were going to repeat that scene again.
From what he was seeing so far, though, Tiera wasn’t giving off any indication that she was angry. Shin was getting jumpy with anticipating her mood. Ironically, their positions had been reversed.

“Oh, please don’t start acting formal with me because of that! The thing with the hair is over. I haven’t seen my own hair color for more than a hundred years, so I’m actually really happy about getting even a little bit of it back.”

Tiera smiled, and she really did look very happy. She was smiling the peaceful smile of someone who had retrieved something precious that she had lost for a long time. There was no longer any vestiges of when she had been quaking with fear.

“I’m a bit relieved at hearing you say so, but ...”

“But I thought girls’ hair was their life,” Shin wanted to say. His mom had told him so. So had his little sister and his female friends. Therefore, he found it a bit hard to be fully satisfied with how things turned out.

“It’s my hair and I’m saying that it’s alright, so let’s just leave it at that. Rather than that, is it true that my curse is gone?”
“Ah, there’s no doubt on that count. I think that if you try stepping out of the store you’d be able to confirm it.”

Since Tiera herself was insisting on it, Shin decided to acquiesce and consider the issue over.

The main effect that Tiera had been suffering from was『Increased Encounter Rate with Unique Monsters』, so unless she stepped out of the monster-warding barrier around Tsuki no Hokora, there would be no way to confirm that the curse was gone.

It was Shin who had set up this barrier, therefore it was so high level that even unique monsters could not invade. Perhaps due to THE NEW GATE’s attempt to make the game world as real as possible, there were very few indestructible objects in existence. On the other hand, there were bandit players who would target player shops like what Shin was running. Therefore, there existed numerous Barrier-Type skills to discourage or even prevent intrusion.

“Honestly, I’m still a bit afraid. There’s this nagging fear in me that the curse has not yet been lifted.”
“No worries there. I know from experience, because I’ve had that curse before.”
“Eh? Eehhhh??? You’ve also had this curse before?!?”
“Ah, I also had a lot of high level monsters come after me. There’s no doubt that【Purification】clears this curse.”

Shin had gotten the curse when his stats were somewhere in the mid-800s. For him, though, the endless waves of unique monsters was merely a good opportunity to gain levels.

“Well, let’s see. So far, out of all the monsters that have come to attack you, what’s the highest level that you have seen?”
“The strongest was probably the Horn Dragon. I think it was around level 200.”
“The ones above Lesser Dragons?”
“Oh, you know of them?”
“Ah, if it’s only that much, then it’ll be a cinch.”

Horn Dragons looked like Lesser Dragons (Wingless Small Dragon) but were roughly double in size and had a single horn growing from their forehead. Lesser Dragons were around level 100, but Horn Dragons surpass that and are around level 200. He had just confirmed that Tiera was level 57, so there was no way that she could have beat them.

In THE NEW GATE, the max level for players and their support characters was 255, but the max level for monsters was 1000. Roughly 4 times stronger than the players. This was for the high level players like Shin who repeatedly reincarnated to play with. For players like the members of Rokuten, who could easily beat many bosses by themselves, to not get bored, the game had monsters that even they can’t handle without proper preparation.
For Shin, level 1000 monsters was the norm. As such, level 200 were lower than trash mobs in his eyes.

“ ‘A cinch’ ...... when a Horn Dragon comes out the Knights Order’s Elite Squad would have to come, you know.”
“Elite Squad? Why would those elite-sounding guys have to come over?”
“They’re not ‘elite-sounding,’ they are real elites. The best of the best. When you came here, you saw the castle walls on your way, right?”
“Oh right, the one with all sorts of enchantments on it.”
“That’s the fortified wall that encircles the Berylricht Kingdom. The Squad Leader of the Elite Squad of the Knights Order of that country is level 158, if I remember right. The Horn Dragon is around level 200, so it’s still 40 levels higher than the Squad Leader. If you claim to be able to easily beat such an overpowered monster, then people would think that you either have a screw loose somewhere in your head or that you’re making an empty boast.”
“158 ...... you said?”
“Yes, it would be unreasonable for even the 2nd most powerful person of the kingdom to handle it alone.”

It appears that Tiera thought Shin was surprised at how high the Squad Leader’s level was.
In reality, Shin was shocked at how low it was. By the standards of the players, it was a level at which if you didn’t invest heavily in your stats, you would only barely reach the middle ranks.
If there were two or three monsters with higher levels than a Horn Dragon, then this Order would be overwhelmed, thought Shin. He didn’t say it out loud, though.

“...... Well, it’s true that it wouldn’t be a problem, so come on, let’s step out of the shop.”
“Wait a moment, were you even listening to what I just said?”
“I was listening. More like, after hearing it I was even more reassured that there wouldn’t be a problem.”
“ ‘Not a problem,’ you say. What, you can beat a Horn Dragon?”
“Yep.”
“...... Hey, I’m just confirming, but what’s your level?”
“It’s 255. So?”
“............”

She became quiet. Shin was saying it as it was, but Tiera found it hard to believe.

“Tiera?”
“255 ...... ? The same as Master?”
“Yes, my level is 255. For what it’s worth, my level is indeed the same as Schnee.”
“Really?”
“Really.”
“Really really?”
“Really really.”
“Really rea—”
“Stop, stop! How many times are you going to repeat that?!”
“— nn ......”

It was becoming a Really Relay so Shin put a stop to it.
(T/N: 対決 is more like ‘confrontation’ or ‘showdown,’ but puns are fun! :P)

“Can’t you use【Analyze】? I’ve the restriction off so if you just take a look you would know.”
“There’s no way I can use it. Only skill inheritors can.”
“What are skill inheritors?”
“...... I am starting to have strong doubts about your common sense.”

It appears that this was another thing that everyone who lived in this world knew. However, Shin had just arrived in this world, so talking to him with the assumption that he’d know this world’s common sense would get nowhere. So much had changed since it was a game that if someone just gave him an astounded look he wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of it.

“I’ve been living by myself for such a long time that I don’t know much of the common sense of this world.”
He couldn’t really say that the last time he was here it was a game, so he went with the story of being someone who had lived away from society for a long time. He figured that this way, he would have an excuse for lacking information regarding this world.

“I see. From now on, I can teach you everything that you need to know, so if you have any questions then feel free to ask me.”
Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”

Shin bowed his head while feeling thankful for the Tiera that had been answering all of his questions so far.

“So, about skill inheritors. As you can tell from the name, these are people who inherit long-lost skills. Ever since the Dusk of the Majesty, a lot of skills have been lost. Nowadays, there are probably less than a hundred skills left.”
“Less than a hundred ......”

Shin was unable to hide his shock. He knew that there were a lot of skills in THE NEW GATE, but the number that Tiera gave was less than a tenth of the original number.

“Nowadays, just being able to use a skill would merit you favorable treatment. People like adventurers or knights who fight for a living use ‘Arts,’ a weakened version of skills. The names and effects remain the same, but Arts only have a third of the power of skills. I’m a magic-caster too, but the skills that Master had shown me were on a completely different level from the Arts that I had been using so far.
“Gotcha, so Arts are a weakened version of skills. Can you level up each of the Arts separately?”

There are levels to skills. An example would be【Analyze X】. After the skill name is a number from I to X (T/N: 1 to 10 in Roman numerals), which makes for easy recognition. The lowest is I, the highest is X. Most attack skills don’t have levels, it’s mainly the Support-Type skills that do.

“I know that there are skills that have levels, but Arts don’t.”
“So they have to rely on Arts when they fight, huh. Sounds tough.”

Shin himself had a wide range of skills, so he couldn’t help thinking how tough it would be to be using weakened versions of them.
“What about you, how many skills can you use? From the way you were talking just now, you don’t only have one, right? Two? Three? Don’t tell me you have 4.”
“Single digits? Really? There are more than a thousand skills out there. I’ve never actually counted so I don’t know the exact number.”
“Hah? A thousand? What? Did I hear wrong?”

Tiera thought she had misheard and tilted her tilted quizzically at Shin, who was now saying how there were a lot of them that he’d never actually used before. Well, she knew what she had heard, but it was so far removed from this world’s common sense that she couldn’t help but think that it was a joke.
Sometimes going too far loses all sense of reality.

“You don’t have【Analyze】? Hmm, I guess you still wouldn’t be able to see my level with only【Analyze I】. It won’t hurt to still have it, though. Okay, I’ll use【Book of Secrets Creation】now.”
“?”

Tiera tilted her head again at Shin, who was now moving his fingers around in midair.

“It’s done. Here you go.”
“What is this?”

What Shin had handed to Tiera was a scroll.

Skills are developed separately from character level. When a skill has been leveled up to a certain point, the player gains special bonuses like increased damage or getting to learn another related skill. Some special skills also allow the player to make a『Book of Secrets』.
『Book of Secrets』is the physical manifestations of a skill and looks like a scroll. When someone else uses the scroll, they learn the skill written on it. Of course, the number of times that a player can make a『Book of Secrets』of a skill is limited, and the person who just learned the skill would have to fulfill the same requirements before being able to make a『Book of Secrets』by themselves. The stronger a skill is, the fewer『Book of Secrets』that can be made of it, and there are many skills for which a『Book of Secrets』cannot be made at all.
Some skills also have level requirements, so it’s not possible to use skills beyond your level by learning them through a『Book of Secrets』.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that every player had【Analyze】. There were no requirements for using the skill, and it was so low level that there was practically no limit to the number of『Book of Secrets』that each player could make of it. Thus Shin had no qualms about making one right on the spot.
“It’s the『Book of Secrets』for 【Analyze】. I think that if you read that, you would learn the skill.”

He was quite certain that『Book of Secrets』would work even for support characters. If it didn’t actually work, he was prepared to just make an apology. For this kind of thing you wouldn’t know until you actually tried it.

“I can learn a skill just by using this? But I don’t have anything to give you as compensation.”
“Compensation?”

He had meant to give it to her without any recompense, but it looked like Tiera would not accept it.

“As I said just now, skills are extremely valuable! Being able to learn a skill is an enormous deal, and usually involves large piles of money or taking someone in as an apprentice or disciple. You aren’t going to tell me that you’re giving it to me for free, right?”
“Well, that was my intention. What’s wrong with it?”
“For now, stop giving it to every random person you meet. It would be a very big deal. Depending on the circumstances, people might come after your life.”
“THAT big a deal?!?”

It hadn’t crossed his mind that a single skill would be a big enough deal for people to die over. Shin decided in his heart to only ever give『Book of Secrets』to people that he could trust.

“Don’t be too anxious. Anyways, you’re fine, so could you try using this for me?”
“You won’t ask me for compensation after I use it?”
“Like I would!!”

Shin wanted to retorted, “What am I, a vicious swindler?”, but if there was a real possibility that people might target their lives then her caution was understandable.

“Is giving away skills for free your modus operandi?”
“If I was scamming you, I’d be offering a higher level skill.”
“To me, this is already plenty valuable. Anyone in possession of multiple skills would already be a huge deal.”
“I can’t use any arts, though. All I have are skills, and for me only skills feel natural, so I don’t really feel like a huge deal.”
“What a luxurious worry ...... Fine, alright. If you’re going to insist on it so much, I’m going to accept it without restraint.”
“Yes, I offered it to you so that you would accept it. Rather, it would be problematic for me if you didn’t.”

For now, it seems Tiera was finally convinced, and she accepted the『Book of Secrets』. At Shin’s urging, she opened it right there and then.
As she started reading, a pale light green glow surrounded Tiera’s body, lasting about 10 seconds.This was the visual effect of a character successfully acquiring a skill. It appears that she had indeed successfully learned the skill.

“How is it?”

In the game,『Book of Secrets』didn’t have actual text. When they are used, they just disappear, so Shin was curious how it felt to use them now.

“It was a very strange feeling. When I opened the scroll, the usage and effects of【Analyze】just automatically came into my head. It wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling, though.”
“Heh, it was like that, huh.”

While verbally expressing his admiration, inside he was feeling relieved at the success. If it didn’t work, it would have been very awkward for him.

“I can see your name, but everything else is a weird symbol that I don’t recognize.”
“Oh, so you can actually see my name, huh. The weird symbol everywhere else is called a ‘question mark,’ and it appears when the level and stats difference between you and the other party is too great. Therefore, it’s to be expected that you can’t see the rest.”
“Ehh, so by all rights, I shouldn’t even be able to see your name. I also now know about the skill’s levels and what each field is. So even though I can’t see your level, I understand that that very fact is proof that you are quite powerful.”
“Will you now believe me that even if we go outside and monsters come, it would be alright?”
“You’ve already done so much for me that I have no choice but to believe you.”

Due to having received【Analyze】, Tiera could now somehow believe Shin’s words. However, there was still a fear of being attacked by strong monsters that had been ingrained in her from experience.

“Just in case, I’ll leave first and look around before calling out to you. When you hear my voice, please come out.”
“Understood.”

To make sure, Shin first left Tsuki no Hokora and surveyed the surroundings. He also used【Search】at the same time, and confirmed that there were no monsters nearby.

“It’s clear!”

Tiera stuck out her head from the door of the store, looked around, gathered her resolve, and stepped out.
Both【Barrier X】and【Wall X】had been cast around Tsuki no Hokora.【Barrier X】is an invisible wall that completely shuts out all monsters within level 900 to 1000 and below (level is derived from the entity’s stats) and nullifies and deflects attacks from them. Similarly,【Wall X】is an invisible wall that completely nullifies attacks from all players within level 230 to 255 and below (here, too, level is derived from stats). Both were the strongest versions of their respective skills, so even someone using the skill【Ignore [Slip Through]】would be unable to invade.

Incidentally, with the wrong permission settings on【Wall X】even normal customers would be refused entry, so it needed to be used carefully. When Shin was running the shop, he had set it so that on top of shutting out armed invaders, it was also forbidden to use skills or equip anything while inside.

At the moment, the two spells were deployed in a 20 mel radius around Tsuki no Hokora.

“Come over here.”
“O-okay.”

At Shin’s beckoning, Tiera slowly walked over. Shin was standing 1 mel outside the barrier, so standing next to him would inevitably mean leaving the barrier.

“............”
“............”

Shin was keeping an eye on their surroundings, and Tiera was feeling very nervous so for a while there was no conversation between them.
After five minutes, there was still no change in their surroundings. A warm wind ruffled their hair.

“Nothing’s happening, eh?”
“Nothing’s happening indeed.”

They waited five more minutes before Shin judged that there were no longer any problems. If the curse was still active, it would have called at least one monster already within the past ten minutes.

“Not seeing any monsters, eh?”
“Indeed.”

The first five minutes were extremely nerve-wracking, but Tiera gradually gained the composure to look around.

“The curse has been lifted, see?”
“It seems so, yes.”

Tiera answered Shin’s questions while looking up at the sky.
The sky reflected in Tiera’s eyes was the same expansive, blue sky that one could see anywhere. It was not the cut out sky that she could only see through the store’s windows.
She could feel the wind, drink in the light from the sun, and breathe in the fragrance of the forest. An overwhelming sense of nostalgia blossomed inside Tiera’s chest.

Shin felt greatly relieved while looking at Tiera, who was in turn looking at the sky. With this, Tiera no longer had to fear the shadow of monsters nor fear bringing disaster to people around herself. She was now free to step outside of the store whenever she wanted.

“The sky is really broad, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is.”

Tiera murmured that fact as if she’d just remembered it.
For a while after that, Shin and Tiera just stood there and gazed at the sky.

At the corner of Tiera’s eye something sparkled, but Shin remained silent.

“Shall we go back in sometime soon?”

When Tiera said that, Shin turned to look at Tiera.
“Let’s do that.”
In the first place, they had left the shop to confirm that the curse had been dispelled, so without any further objections they went back into the store.

“At any rate, it seems that the curse has really been removed.”

After returning behind the counter, Tiera was earnestly muttering to herself. Though she understood it with her head, it would take quite some while for it to start feeling real.

“Just saying, but【Purification】is also a skill. If I had to say, it’s one of the rarer ones. It took me a lot of trouble to get it, so it would have been problematic for me if it didn’t work.”
“So the curse could really be dispelled with【Purification】. Even if I knew that, it would have been hard to get someone to cast it on me.”
“How come? Though it is indeed a skill, shouldn’t most of the priests have it?”
“That’s not exactly true. The priests who can use【Purification】are mostly very high ranked, so it would be quite difficult to get to meet one. In my case, the nature of my curse wouldn’t really allow me to go to them, and I couldn’t very well ask them to come to me either.”
“I guess if the effect was just lowering your stats then you might have been able to do something about it, huh.”

That that would have been dangerous in its own way was left unsaid. The moment the curse affected her, her stats would have been dropped to a tenth of their previous value, making her easy prey for any trash monster. That would have been scary in its own right.

“Now that it’s been lifted, there’s no need to dwell on it any longer.”
“That’s true. Now you can even brazenly take walks outside.”
“Yep. Black-haired elves might still be feared and hated, but now that not all of my hair is black I’m sure they won’t hate me as much anymore.”
“Nn? It’s fine if it’s not all black?”
“That’s right. When affected by the curse, even when I dyed my hair it would immediately go back to being black, so just having a part that’s not black would show people that I’m not cursed anymore.”
“Is that so.”

Back during the game, nobody tried dyeing their hair for that reason, so Shin was thinking, “So that’s how it is.” In the first place, every player who got the curse would immediately use an item or visit a priest, so it was just that nobody had ever thought of it.

“Oh right, I’d almost forgotten, but here is your payment for the raw materials and jewels.”

Tiera placed a bag bulging with coins onto the counter as she spoke. It was filled with more than 50 pieces of gold and silver coins, so it was pretty big.

“Would I be able to put this into my inventory?”

He tried just in case, and thankfully on top of the line showing G currency, a new line for J currency appeared and noted down the 26 J gold coins and 27 J silver coins.

“The money disappeared ...... how convenient!”

Tiera’s face looked like she really wanted an inventory too, but this was one thing that really couldn’t be helped, so Shin just smiled wryly. It would be a different matter if he had the item for expanding inventory, but he didn’t have one on hand.

“At any rate, it appears that I won’t be in want for an inn tonight.”
“Are you planning on going inside Berylricht Kingdom?”
“Ah, there are a few things that I want to check up on. Do you know of any good places for information gathering?”
“I see. In that case, please wait a while, I have something good to give you as an extra service.”

So saying, Tiera went inside the door behind the counter that led to the house side. According to Shin’s memory, there was a break room back there.
About three minutes later, Tiera reappeared, and held out a piece of paper towards Shin.

“And this is?”
“A letter of introduction from Tsuki no Hokora. With this in hand, you won’t need to line up to get into the kingdom.”

So it seems that one needs to line up to get into the kingdom. This letter was a great help to Shin, who wanted to find an inn before nightfall.

“This would be a great help. I’m going to pass on having to sleep outside after coming this far. But are you sure? Wouldn’t it be a problem giving this letter of introduction to someone that you’d met just today?”

Shin knew that it would be bad if this fell into the wrong hands, but Tiera shook her head vigorously.

“You dispelled a curse that I didn’t think could be dispelled, and on top of that you are really strong. In addition, you’re really good-natured ...... This isn’t nearly enough to pay you back for what you’ve done.”
“ ‘Good-natured,’ you say ...... I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the last part, could you please repeat it again?”
“Don-Don’t worry about it! Anyways, there’s no problem, so just take it already!”

So saying, Tiera pressed the letter of introduction upon Shin. She was trying to hide her blushing face by looking down, but since her ears were all red it was all too obvious.

“I get it, I get it. Very well, I will accept this gratefully.”

Shin failed to notice the blushing, though. If it was happening to anyone else, he would notice, but because he didn’t get many opportunities to get thanked, he was very thick about these kinds of things.
(T/N: Lol where would we be without our thick-headed main characters?)

“Well then, I’ll be going. When I get more drops from killing monsters I’ll come back and sell them to you, so please take care of me then.”
“I know you’re pretty strong, but don’t overdo it. If you die, everything would come to naught.”
“I got it. Seeya!”
“We will await your future patronage.”

Like a proper salesclerk, Tiera bowed respectfully while seeing off Shin, who lightly waved back and left Tsuki no Hokora behind him.
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