The next day, after breakfast, Shin and the others checked their items and equipment for the last time, then teleported to Gelganger’s waiting spot.
“It’s still rather early, sir. Did something happen?”
“No, our preparations ended early, that’s all. Can we go right now?.”
“Very well, our preparations are complete too. Let us depart.”
As Gelganger promised, they had taken care of the remaining monsters and their remains: there were no traces of them to be seen anywhere. The shapeshifter monsters probably made use of their greater numbers to absorb them all.
Gelganger undid its transformation and regained its original form. It then transformed again, this time into a dragon-like creature with two sets of wings.
The other shapeshifter monsters transformed into winged creatures too, some of them by fusing with others first. Some turned into birds, others into insects: there was quite a variety of transformations.
“Please come aboard.”
As Shin had guessed, Gelganger offered itself as a means of transportation. Shin wasn’t sure where it spoke from, but decided to comply with the offer.
He was getting ready to jump on Gelganger, as its new body was too large to climb on, when part of the monster’s body lowered and formed a sort of ladder. Contemplating how convenient shapeshifters were, Shin rode on the creature.
“(It’s really convenient not to have a fixed shape, huh.)”
“(They can even freely change their size.)”
Milt seemed to share Shin’s opinion and nodded to him. Shapeshifter monsters, normally called slimes, had a round shape by default: they could change their shape to a degree in battle, but not in such a drastic way.
“We are going to fly, so please take a seat. They are fixed to my body, so there is no risk of falling.”
Gelganger’s back was flat and easy to walk on: it really resembled the interior of a commercial plane. It even formed airplane-like seats.
It was a bit worrisome to be fixed to the seat, but even if they were attacked their defensive gear couldn’t be penetrated and they could easily break free. Shin and the others did as they were told and sat down.
“Let us depart.”
Gelganger spread its wings wide. It was probably supporting itself with magic: just one flap of its wings brought them high in the sky.
After a few more flaps to reach a sufficient altitude, Gelganger started using its wings to propel itself forward. Each flap let the monster proceed a relatively long distance, so it didn’t need to move its wings frequently.
It was a style of flying that no real creature could ever emulate.
The other monsters flew the same way too: their speed was proportional to their size, as the largest ones were also the fastest. The monsters which couldn’t keep up followed in Gelganger’s trail, to gain advantage of the path created in its wake.
Even the wall painstakingly built by the empire over years could be easily crossed by them, Shin thought.
Monsters that attacked from the air needed a great quantity of equipment and people to be countered efficiently, as Shin knew from experience.
Gelganger and the others might have adopted this method simply to move faster, but from Shin’s standpoint, it was one more reason why it would be better to negotiate with the monsters.
“(Tiera, Milt, are you cold?)”
The winds were chilling at their current altitude. Shin and his support characters were surely fine, but the other two members of the group did not have the same resistance to the cold.
Gelganger’s flight ability was higher than the Wyverns Shin borrowed in the past, but the duration of the flight was not affected much.
They were going to be in the air for a good while, and Milt’s and Tiera’s equipment did not protect them completely from the sharp winds, so Shin offered to give them something to drape over their shoulders.
“(I still have what you lent me last time, so I’m fine.)”
Shin turned towards Tiera and found her wearing a fur cape: he recalled he had lent it to her before and hadn’t got it back.
“(I’m OK too!)”
Milt was also wearing a coat, which she probably brought herself. It was not rare to travel to extremely cold areas in the game era, so a Player like her would surely have proper equipment.
“(This guy sure can do anything, huh? I didn’t expect a defense-oriented monster like Gelganger to transform into a flying monster, of all things.)”
On land, it could sprout countless legs and move at high speed; in the air, it could fly as fast as a Wyvern. Anyone who knew Gelganger from the game era would be surprised, like Milt was. Shin was no exception either.
“(To be able to turn into a human isn’t normal either. It’s definitely a unique monster, and it’s definitely powerful enough to defeat other monsters and level up.)”
Like Kagerou and others, there were very special rare monsters in that world, which Shin and his party were surely ignorant of.
Even if they knew the base monster, it was not strange for their special versions to have unheard abilities: the Gelganger, which also had Yvr attached to its name, was for all intents and purposes an unknown entity.
“(If you put it like that, it’s a bit unsettling to just sit here.)”
Shin and the others were secured to their seats, although they could easily rip off the seatbelts.
Both the seats and belts were part of Gelganger’s body, however: it could attack them at any time, if it so wished. It would not be unreal for tentacles to sprout from the back of the seats, for example.
They were not incapable of movement, but it was surely limited. As Tiera said, Gelganger could theoretically attack from a position of advantage. It definitely wasn’t a pleasant thought.
“(Normally, from this height it’d just need to flip over and drop us.)”
“(That’s even more scary!!)”
Filma’s comment prompted Tiera to peek at the scenery rushing by below them, and she froze.
They were traveling at a speed on par with a small airplane: falling from such a height would signify certain death for most people. Without a parachute, there was no way to survive.
“(That wouldn’t work on us, you know that. Besides, what’s the point in coming to meet us, if that was their goal?)”
Thanks to their magic and items, Shin and his party had multiple ways to land safely.
Tiera too could use her『Bow Princess』equipment series’ Floating Shield as a platform to slow down her fall and reach the ground without a bruise.
“(Of course, but Tiera’s reactions are so funny…)”
It was extremely uncommon to experience flight in this world. To be knocked off a flying object at high altitudes was even rarer, naturally. More precisely, to have such an experience and live to tell the tale.
Tiera had already experienced flight several times, riding on the Elder Dragons and Tzaobath, so she could imagine what would happen if she were to fall.
“(Being knocked off at this height is a different kind of fear than falling off a cliff or a tall building. It’s fine once you get used to it, though.)”
“(Um, I don’t plan to get used to it, thank you very much…)”
Sports such as sky diving did not exist in this world. It was only natural for Tiera to reply that way to Shibaid’s comment.
“(If anything happens, Shin will do something, don’t worry. He can use 【Flying Shadow】 without limits now, I heard. That would be enough to catch you and land safely, Tiera.)”
Shin’s party members were already aware that 【Flying Shadow】 — a skill that allowed the user to create temporary footholds in midair — had gone through a transformation following the events in the Lanapacea village.
As Shibaid said, thanks to his improved mobility in midair Shin could easily catch Tiera and leisurely land with her.
“(How did that happen, anyway? Using the skill feels the same as before, right?)”
“(Right. It’s hard to put it into words, but it feels just like before. It’s like…I somehow felt that I could do it.)”
The sensations Shin felt when using Skills were the same now as in the game era. He just needed to think about using them.
Martial Skills caused his body to move on its own, while Magic Skills marked their targets with light effects.
Beginner players could use a function that displayed the words “Chanting in Progress” on the field of view when using a Skill, to become used to them.
Needless to say, Shin had turned most of the options related to the field of view off.
The visual effects of the Skills themselves could not be turned off, but the visual cues for beginners and other visual support functions were not displayed anymore.
These support functions sometimes caused the player to misinterpret the enemy’s movements, so Shin had decided not to use them, like most other advanced players.
“(If possible, I wanted like to learn how to do that too.)”
“(The way Shin explains it makes it pretty much impossible to imitate, though.)”
While they were in Romenun, Schnee and the other close combat specialists of the party attempted to do the same thing as Shin.
It was maybe to be expected, however, that they could not surpass the Skill’s original usage limits.
In this world, Skills could be used more freely than in the game era: it was not uncommon to be able to use them in ways impossible in the game.
Jumping around forever in midair, however, was only possible to Shin at the moment.
“(Maybe you received a blessing from the World Tree?)”
“(I don’t have any new titles, though. Though judging from the timing I realized I could do it, that seems to be the most likely possibility.)”
Shin mulled for a moment, then answered Milt’s question. A new power awoke in him, right when the World Tree was in danger. Could something so convenient happen naturally?
“(At that time, I was only thinking that I needed to act as fast as possible. It felt…right, it felt just like acquiring a new Skill.)”
In the game era, the acquisition of a new Skill was accompanied by a “___ acquired” message on the player display. Some Skills also had their own exclusive visual effects.
At the same time, the Player felt something difficult to put into words, the feeling of being somehow able to perform something new.
It depended on the Player, however: some did not feel it at all, some only every now and then, others every time. Shin was the “every now and then” type: his first time, he realized that it was really difficult to describe in words, so he understood the feelings of the Players before him.
Because of that, he was at a loss for words this time too. It was a sensation you needed to experience firsthand to truly understand, there was no way around it.
“(Just like the feeling of a new skill. Hmm…)”
“(You know that, don’t you Schnee? It’s impossible to explain, but you strongly feel you can do it…yeah, I don’t know how to say it better…)”
Schnee was deep in thought; she was probably the type that never experiences the sensation.
Shin tried describing the sensation, but could only come up with a vague explanation.
“(It’s that kind of feeling you have to experience yourself, huh.)”
“(Exactly. If you felt it at least once, I’m sure you’d understand what I mean.)”
Milt was apparently the type that felt it often: she quickly understood Shin’s explanation, and agreed that it was impossible to put into words.
“(What about big sis Filma and Shibaid? As for me, I kind of get it…)”
“(I don’t get it, to be honest. I haven’t learned any new skills since Shin disappeared, and even in the past I don’t recall ever feeling anything like that.)”
“(I can understand that sensation. In my opinion, it’s close to the feeling of activating a Skill by instinct, without thinking about it first.)”
The support characters had conflicting experiences, apparently. Shin nodded to Shibaid’s words, agreeing that the sensation was similar. It was like how it happened in manga or anime: in certain situations, you felt something was “coming” and your body almost moved on its own.
“(What about you, Tiera? You should have learned new Skills recently, other than 【Analyze】.)”
Among them, Tiera was surely blessed with the most chances to learn new Skills.
“(Right…I think I know what sensation you’re talking about. When I used the Secret Book, I felt like the way to use the Skill flowed into my head, but for the other Skills, I felt I just started using them naturally.)”
Tiera too was the type that felt the sensation often: she added that it took some time to get accustomed to that sudden feeling.
“(Honestly, I sometimes wonder why I couldn’t do that before, when the feeling comes. Like with the dagger Skill 【Slash】. The movements are simple, and I definitely did them before, but I didn’t think I could perform them before I actually learned the Skill. The simpler the Skill’s movements are, the weirder it seems to me.)”
“(When you put it like that, it is a strange sensation…)”
In game terms, Tiera was describing the feeling of reaching enough proficiency to perform a Skill.
The proficiency of Martial Skills increased by performing the same movements over and over: many Skills could only be learned by raising proficiency to a certain level.
Proficiency rose on its own just by playing the game normally, so the basic Skills were easy to acquire.
It was a common phenomenon in games, but Tiera couldn’t find any difference in herself before and after learning the Skill.
“(Hm? Looks like we’re descending.)”
Shin realized that Gelganger was flying lower. They were still at the edge of the continent, however.