We were on the street, in front of a familiar skyscraper. The rest of the street was empty. And not just empty of cars and people. All of the other buildings were missing, leaving an empty field of grass on the other side of the sidewalk.
We all knew the building. Cassandra might not have, but she wasn't with us. And Mo-chan had lived in Japan since she was three. The original version had been damaged in the troubled times, and needed to be torn down. But Tokyo's prefecture governor at the time managed to have it declared a National Heritage site. After things started to go back to normal, the skyscraper was carefully taken down. Every piece that was intact was preserved, while the rest was reprocessed and reconstructed. The original plans were found, and updated at little as possible for improved safety and improved technology. And then it was rebuilt. 99% of the original materials were used, making up 90% of the renewed tower. Nine floors and one basement of glass and silver, accented in bright yellow and red.
It seemed that Earphone Jack's dungeon, or at least some portion of it, took the form of the Tower Records building in Shibuya.
"Your dungeon is a store?" InvisaGal asked, "I mean, I know you like music, but that seems a bit odd."
"It isn't just a store," Earphone said, "Even the original had a big concert venue in the basement, a cafe on the second floor, and bar on the top. This one is the same, but also only the first and third floor sell music. The fourth and fifth floors are music studios, and the sixth thru eighth floors are apartments."
"You... you don't live in the Tower Records building, do you?" Uravity asked.
"My dad is a composer and studio musician," Earphone sounded slightly defensive, "The studio likes to have him on hand, so we get reduced rent."
"Jiro... Jiro..." InvisaGal mused, "Who is your dad? I can't think of any musicians with that family name."
"Wait," I said loudly. I leaned in close and stared at her eyes.
"I didn't notice your eyes before," I said, not aware that she was blushing lightly, "Your father, he's Uematsu Kyotaka, isn't he?"
"That's his bachelor name, and he did some of his early composing under that name," she confirmed, "How do you know it?"
"Uematsu Kyotaka is the composer of 'Blaze Through Evil'," I told them. Most of them gave me blank looks, except for Earphone.
"That's Endeav... Todoroki-san's theme music," I said.
"Of course," Mo-chan, Ochako, and Tsu-chan said together.
"Huh?" I grunted, confused.
"Who composed All Might's Theme?" Tsu-chan asked me.
"Hayashi Yuki," I answered without hesitation.
"What about Batman?" Mo-chan prompted.
"And The Flash's leitmotif?" Kyoka added.
"Blake Neely," I realized their point.
"Oh, what about Wonder Woman?" Ochako's question seemed more earnest curiosity, rather than an attempt to point out that my Hero fandom extended to Heroes' themes.
"No-one technically," I told her, "I know about two attempts to make a theme for her, but Ms Prince rejected both of them."
"At which point he surpasses me," Kyoka sounded mildly upset.
"Only because it's Hero music," I told her.
"We should probably get going," Froppy interceded.
"Do you think we are going to your apartment?" Uravity asked, "Or all the way to the top?"
"Don't know," Earphone said, "What does the screen say?"
[Dungeon Entry - Kyoka Jiro
Bonus Floor: 1/1
"That's new," Froppy noted as I swung the screen around to them.
"No enemies?" InvisaGal sounded confused, "Or are we fighting the building itself?"
"That could be," I said thoughtfully. Then I turned to our host, so to speak, and asked, "What Skill do you want to borrow, Earphone Jack?"
"I really wish you had a sword or knife skill," she said, lifting up one of her jacks, now in katana form, "But instead, what about High Speed Vision and Clairvoyance?"
"Sure," I said, reaching out my hand. She took it, and I intoned, "Skill Jockey: High Speed Vision, Clairvoyance."
"Why Clairvoyance and not Clairaudience, ribbit?" Froppy asked.
"It's not like I will gain either of them," Earphone shrugged, "And I can hear better already. I'm interested in using these two skills to see the vibrations caused by my sonic powers. And if that also means I can keep an eye on InvisaGal here, so she doesn't get all shy about Decade doing it, even better."
I didn't say anything about that, though part of me wanted to. Both because InvisaGal and I still needed to get used to it, as Momo had stated. And also because I knew Earphone's motives weren't exactly as pure as she was implying. Only, it wasn't my place to say. So long as Toru didn't object and Kyoka didn't overstep, I would keep my mouth shut.
We entered the store nervously. Somehow, being told there were no enemies outside of the boss made us more nervous. But the inside looked completely normal. Rows of shelves were stacked with vinyl and blu ray audio albums. The walls above the shelves had posters of various artists and groups. There were a few display stands for new albums, though at a second look, most of them were not very new. Unless someone had brought Beethoven, FLOW, BTS, and 'Weird Al' either back from the dead or forward in time.
"It seems like you like older rock and pop," InvisaGal commented. Earphone nodded.
"I enjoy new stuff, too," the rocker girl added, "But there is just something about the classics."
"Beethoven isn't technically rock," I noted, "and Al did all sorts of genres."
"So I have varied tastes," Earphone shrugged.
We were still standing in the entryway, waiting for the proverbial other shoe. To our left were the elevators, but a sign on them said out of order. The stairs were on the back wall, and were presumably our way to the next level. The last element of note was the cashier stations to our right. Which would not have been unusual in the normal seeming store, except...
"A treasure chest!" Uravity squealed and pointed.
Up until now, all the items we had received were Quest rewards or drop items. But behind the cash registers was a stereotypical bronze bracketed wooden chest. Ochako's eyes flashed 宝 and 富. The rest of us were a bit more skeptical.
"You think it is trapped?" Froppy prompted me.
"That," I agreed, "Or its a Mimic."
"What's a Mimc?" Mo-chan asked, "I mean, of course I know the word mimic, to copy or impersonate. But you made it sound like something else, especially saying it in English like that."
"A Mimic," I explained, "Is a type of monster that shows up in fantasy games, or more rarely sci-fi. It looks like a container, usually a treasure chest but sometimes a normal box or a wardrobe. When you try to open it, it attacks you. Tries to kill and eat you."
"But there weren't supposed to be any monsters," InvisaGal complained.
"Umm, I can think of two reasons that there would be enemies, even though the entrance window didn't list any," I said, "The first one is simply to make them a surprise. If it said there were enemies, but we don't see them, we'll be on our guard. Like if there were supposed to be two enemies on this floor, I'd naturally start to think that chest was a Mimic, and that Beethoven standee was a cardboard golem. And the other reason the monster wouldn't be listed on the entry screen could be that they don't matter towards the endgame. In past dungeons, the enemies either counted towards the rewards, or needed to be killed to get the bosses to show up. If neither of those are the case here, then it arguably doesn't matter if they are shown."
"So you think it's a monster?" Uravity sounded disappointed.
"I don't know either way," I admitted, "But it is worth checking. If it is a Mimic, we'll know we need to watch out for concealed enemies. And if it's not a Mimic, that won't technically prove anything. But then we'll some inkling of what's going on."
"So should I just snag it?" Froppy suggested.
"We can test it," I said, "Ki Scan... No, nothing there. Earphone, you have Clairvoyance, would you take a look inside?"
"Oh, yeah, sure. Hmmmmm..."
We waited. I watched her face, for any change of expression. Like a look of fear or disgust.
"I don't see anything strange," she finally said, "A stack of 10,000 yen bills, a couple of bottles, and a copy of 'Lit Our Fire'... That's a biography of the The Doors. They were a rock group in the 1960s and 70s..."
"So probably not not a Mimic, ribbit."
"No," I agreed, "but you really want that book."
"It's a lost book," Kyoka said, "No physical or digital copies survived the Troubles. Maybe half of it has been pieced back together. It was written by Herst Stephanie, a British writer whose Quirk let her view the past. But because of that, when the backlash against Quirks got bad, many of her works were destroyed. So yeah, if I could get my hands on a complete copy... It would be amazing."
"Okay," I nodded, "Froppy are you willing to try this? There still could be a trap."
"I'll be gentle so the potions don't break," Tsu told Earphone.
It wasn't an issue. As soon as Tsu's tongue shot past the entry tiles and over the carpeted floor, the store changed. The shelves grew and stretched. As they did, the walls behind them pulled away. Froppy pulled back just before she hit a random bluray case. Even though her tongue returned, the floor didn't revert.
"It's a maze, isn't it?" Uravity prompted, "So we have to find the stairs, and maybe the chest. But it looked like everything expanded."
"Yeah," Earphone agreed.
"I doubt it will be as simple as just finding our way through," I said evenly.
"Well, we should get going," Earphone said, "Don't want to keep the others waiting."
Even though we would only be swapping Ami in for Ochako before we dove into Toru's Dungeon; Mikoto, Momo, and Cassandra had also come over. Partly because Cassandra had mentioned a need to study. That was mostly a cover, so Ami wouldn't have to wait alone. Not that I think she would have minded. She could have just grabbed one or two of my books, and curled up on the couch for however like this took.
There were three aisles open to us now, instead of the previously open entry and display area.
"Let's see if this works," Earphone mused. She kneeled, closed her eyes, and stretched her jacks out to touch two of the shelf walls. A second later I felt a sudden and strong pull on my energy.
"I've got it," she said a moment later, "Between my sonar and Clairvoyance, I've mapped out the floor. Either of the outer paths will take us to the stairs, and the right one is shorter. The center path goes to the chest. Which I'm guessing we want?"
Her eyes and Uravity's sparkled hopefully as they turned to look at the rest of us.
"I don't mind," Mo-chan shrugged with one shoulder, "I'm not going to say no to money, and potions are probably useful."
"I agree," Froppy said, "We should try it and see, like we said before. If it's bad, we can decide to ignore any treasures on the other floors."
"Great, that's four out of six," Uravity pointed out.
"I was going to say yes, too," InvisaGal sounded like she was pouting.
"Let's just be a bit careful," I said.
Apparently I said that to the aether. Because, while we proceeded slowly, Earphone walked around the first corner almost casually. Only for the floor to open up under her. I tried to grab her with Telekinesis, but I had become too accustomed to having my High Speed Vision. Without it my reaction was slow and my aim was off. Froppy's tongue shot out, too. Unfortunately, she missed as well. Earphone Jack vanished into the darkness.
I looked at the four of them. Exhaled in defeat. And then jumped in. I deliberately aimed for the corner furthest from where Kyoka had been standing, so I hopefully wouldn't fall on her. I didn't, and between Parkour and Acrobatics, plus a bit of TK on myself, I managed a perfect three-point landing, without taking any damage. Earphone was sitting a half-meter away from me, and judging by her expression, had been less successful.
"Ki Healing," I incanted, pointing my hand at her. She turned at me and blinked in surprise. Then her expression softened.
"Thanks," she said softly, and then took my offered hand and let me pull her up.
"You fell in, too?" she asked.
"Y... yeah. It was a bit of a surprise," I told her. Okay, it was a blatant lie, but I thought it would help her feel better.
"Look out below!" InvisaGal's voice echoed from above. I looked up, and then we both stepped out from under the hole in the ceiling. Just one of many, I noted. A moment later, the other four Knight floated down. InvisaGal, Froppy, and Mo-chan were all clinging to Uravity. She had used her Quirk on the others and was using herself as the ballast to pull them all down. That way, she wouldn't feel nausea from using her power on herself.
"Where are we?" Uravity asked after then landed and she cancelled her power.
"The basement," Earphone said, "The performance hall."
At the far end there was a low stage, maybe 25 centimeters high. Next to it there was a wooden floor, a dance floor or a space for chairs, depending on the performance. Behind me was a snack bar. To the right were the inoperative elevators, and to my left was the sealed door to the stairs.
"How do we get out of here?" Mo-chan asked me.
"That would be my cue," a melodious voice rang out. The spotlights blinked on, and the stage was no longer empty.
She looked like an angel. Literally. She was a gorgeous Human woman in a simple white dress. A pair of blue, feathery wings growing out of her back. Except I looked down, and saw that she had bird's feet, including long, sharp talons.
"You're a siren," I realized.
"And you are The Gamer," she trilled back, "But I don't think we're here to stand around stating the obvious all night."
"Then what is going on here?" Froppy asked bluntly.
"To put it simply, a little quiz," the siren answered, "I will sing ten pieces of music for you. You have to name them. Since this is the first stage, you only have to get five correct, to leave."
"First stage?" Toru prompted.
"Each time you come here, it will get harder. Both in terms of my song selection, and in terms of the number you need to get right," then the siren smiled gently, "That said, there is a bit of leeway. For this first stage, if you can get seven right, you will get one bonus point for the next round. Oh, and if you get all ten right, you get a prize."
"What kind of prize?" Uravity asked.
"I don't know," the siren admitted, her wings shrugging, "I just get to come out here and sing."
"And what happens if we fail?" Mordred asked, her swords shifting, "Do we have to fight you?"
"Hell no," the siren barked nervously, "I'm a performer, not a fighter. And that's before taking into account that kid's Charm Resistance. If you fail the quiz, you get kicked out of the girl's Dungeon, and you can't try again for 24 hours. Oh, and any floors you may have completed will reorganize during that time. But what stage you are down on here? That doesn't reset."
"We want to avoid that," Froppy said. That might have seemed obvious, but I was against the clock on Ready To Roll. I'd bet Tsu remembered that, too.
"Let's get started," Earphone Jack said with determination.
"Okay," the siren agreed. She stepped closer, and a microphone appeared.
"Aaaa, aaaa," she sang two long and high notes wordlessly.
"Pachelbel's Canon in D Major," Earphone snapped. A pleasant bell rang, but the siren glared at her.
"Down girl," the musical proctor protested, "There's no bonus for guessing in the fewest notes. You could at least give me a chance to sing a little."
"Right," Kyoka looked chastised, "sorry."
"So that's one point for the Knights of the Meta. Moving on to my second song... I've paid my dues..."
I could see Earphone biting her lip. And even I knew this one.
In the end, we got all ten. Four of the songs were either recent enough or famous enough that we all knew them. Three of them Kyoka had to get. Of the remaining three, one was a British work Mo-chan knew. One was a game song that I answered. And the last was the theme from a kids' TV series that Tsu recognized because of her siblings. I was fairly sure Kyoka could named those, too, but she let us have them.
The treasure box that appeared contained 200,000 Yen in a wrapped bank stack, two high-end multi-tools, and another book by Herst-sensei. This one was the biography of someone named Scott Joplin. Kyoka was thrilled.
Rather than the stairs opening, one of the elevators became active. Only the first floor button was lit up, once we entered. As the doors closed, I saw a look of loneliness on the siren's face and she waved goodbye.
I had to wonder why. Wasn't she just a part of the dungeon? An embodiment of some facet of Jirou "Earphone Jack" Kyoka? Maybe the siren's loneliness reflected Kyoka in some way. Like she didn't feel she had any friends she could share her love of music with.
But that raised a bigger question. Namely, what was the point of the quiz? If the dungeon was a pure reflection of Kyoka, would the siren be able to sing anything the Human didn't already know? I suppose there could be songs she had heard but had mostly forgotten or never learned the name of. It wasn't like I knew the proper name of all the music in games I played, even if I could hum along. In that case, though, how would the siren know the name? One of us could claim to know the name, and if Kyoka couldn't refute us, could the siren?
"Decade," Froppy poked me, "That's really interesting and a bit scary if the siren isn't part of Earphone. But the doors are open."
I stepped out and held the elevator door for them, resisting the urge to facepalm. I had been mumbling out loud again.
We were back in the entryway. The first floor was still in labyrinth form. I guess there wasn't any point of shifting back and forth.
"Okay, so we... I'll be a bit more careful this time," Earphone said, "But I take it we still want to go for the treasure?"
We did. And now that everyone knew to expect traps, it wasn't that hard. Between Froppy's tongue, Mordred's swords, and Earphone fine tuning her sonar and getting used to the visual powers she borrowed from me, they could find or trigger most of the traps without putting ourselves at risk. InvisaGal was able to walk past and disable the camera based traps. Uravity floated us past pressure plates and trapdoors. And I got to tank any traps like darts or swinging blades.
The first floor chest was another 200K, plus the book Kyoka had seen. The two potions were one healing potion and one stamina potion. The chests on floors two through six were the same, except each one had a different book. Always from Herst-sensei and each about a different musician or group. Floors seven and eight also had books and cash, but they had more of the multi-tools instead of of potions. So in the end each of the six of us got one of each potion and one of the tools. We split the cash normally, and agreed to let Earphone have the books.
We had just stepped into the bar on the top floor. Windows looked out onto a starry tableau, like we were floating in space. The normal complement of tables and chairs were missing. In one corner, there was an amazing looking piano. I didn't know much about instruments, but it seemed very expensive. And as I would shortly learn, it actually sounded even better. Part of that may have been the person playing it.
Earphone's eyes widened when she saw who was seated at the piano. He was a Caucasian man, about my height, and slender. His hair was white powdered, and poofy, like the pictures of European men of the sixteen and seventeen hundreds. His clothing was also from that period, and was high quality and expertly tailored. He looked familiar to me, but not enough I could place him.
"I don't suppose any of you speak German?" Earphone asked, stepping carefully closer to the boss, "Or French or Latin?"
"Sorry, no," Mo-chan said, "Just Japanese and English."
The rest of us all shook our heads.
"I don't suppose you happen to understand me, Herr Mozart?" she asked.
"Oh!" the rest of us all said, basically at the same time.
He looked at her when she said his name. But didn't respond. Instead, he swept his arm to the side. Suddenly there was a rack of musical instruments.
"Ah, okay," she stammered slightly. Passing the brass and winds, Earphone went straight to the strings and picked up an electric guitar. She strummed it once. Then she used her new multi-tool to get precise and tiny turns on the knob things.
"You know, this is the same kind my dad uses," she commented absently, as she tuned it.
"The guitar or the multi-tool?" I asked.
"Yes," she said absently.
She strummed it again, and then looked at the composer. He nodded. And then his fingers danced on the keys. She watched intently, her eyes locking onto his hands. Then, eight bars in, she joined. She matched the melody, sounding like she was playing a part for violin or viola. Or maybe both or a mix? The song they were playing sounded familiar, but I couldn't recognize it. Maybe I had heard it in a game or a movie.
Then something changed, and Earphone's eye twitched. The tone of the song changed. Earphone kept up with him. Then she grinned, and she made a change. Only this seemed to blend the melody into something else.
Mozart-sensei glanced at her sideways and said, "Hiding?"
I wasn't sure why he thought that. But he adapted to her change, and the song continued. Then he threw another change of key at her. Then shifted to a third melody. Finally after about three minutes of back and forth, they returned to the original song and finished it out. We applauded. They both bowed.
Then Mozart-sensei nodded and waved his hand towards her. Kyoka considered it for a moment.
"The key is C major, four four time," she said in English. He perked up and nodded again.
Earphone started. If Mozart-sensei's playing had been dancing, her blazing notes were parkour. His eyes widened as he took in the song.
"Kawaita kokoro de kakenukeru," a moment later she added to the guitar with her vocals, perfect and clean, "Gomen ne nani mo dekinakute..."
I knew the song, and it appeared InvisaGal did, too. But the others didn't. Mozart-sensei looked utterly amazed. But after a few more bars, he started to play. It wasn't the melody I knew from the song, but it fit just as well. Maybe even a little better. I guess he really was a genius. Despite that, it appeared he was struggling. Not a lot. It still sounded amazing. But Mozart-sensei's face scrunched up more and more with each bar. And his hands twitched.
Finally, the song came to an end. And this time we didn't just clap. We cheered. Earphone's voice was amazing. The song sounded incredible with Mozart-sensei's new melody matching the original guitar. I wish we could have recorded it.
And the boss applauded, too.
"Yours?" he asked moderately accented but understandable English.
"Oh, I only wish," she said dismissively, "I might dabble, but I don't think I could write something that good."
Mozart-sensei shook his head and clicked his tongue
"Fraulein, I surrender," he said, "We could likely continue for a number of hours, but ultimately you know my work, and have the advantage of styles and centuries of work with which I am unfamiliar. The only way you could lose is due to your lack of confidence. And that voice... If I were still alive, I would write an opera.. No, an entire cycle for that voice. But alas, our time is at an end."
He stood and closed the piano. Then he bowed to her. And as he did, the boss and all the instruments faded away.
"So, are we done?" InvisaGal prompted.
"Yeah," Earphone smiled slightly, "We are done. We won."
"You won," Mo-chan told her.
[Kyoka Jirou Dungeon Progress!
Clear 1 floor: +1 Affinity
Clear 2 floors: +1 Affinity
Clear 3 floors: +1 Affinity
Clear 4 floors: +1 Affinity
Clear 6 floors: +1 Affinity
Clear 7 floors: +1 Affinity
Clear all 8 floors: Attribute Balancing
Clear basement: Attribute Balancing
Defeated boss: Bonus Random Talent
Level I cleared: Bonus Random Talent]
Boss defeated in your Reflective Dungeon. Please select a bonus Talent.
Focus: Electric Guitar
+10 Skill levels and Limit Break Electric Guitar.
Earphone Jack: Trap Sense
Increased ability to detect the presence and nature of traps with this Quirk.]
Level I cleared in your Reflective Dungeon. Please select a bonus Talent.
[Tough as Nails
Unlock Skill 'Physical Resistance' at lvl 10 and Limit Break Physical Resistance.
+10 Skill levels and Limit Break Singing.]
"That's obvious," Kyoka said, picking 'Tough as Nails', "But I don't know. The selfish side of me wants to improve my guitar skill. But as a Hero, being able to find traps might be more useful."
"I can definitely see finding traps being good," I said, "But don't forget, you can plug your jacks into a guitar, so you might be able to find other uses for it. Maybe have a support guitar made."
"That does sound cool," she admitted, "No-one will be mad if I do that?"
"It's your life and skills,' Momo told her, "you should do what you think is best."
Ami and Cassandra nodded.
"Yeah, you should definitely rock out," Toru agreed.
"Especially after what Mozart told you," Mordred added.
"Mozart?" Ami and Momo both looked at us in askance.
"I'll tell you about it later," Kyoka said.
"Right, we really should get into Toru's dungeon," Tsu said, "We only have three left for the quest."
"Yeah, and I'd like to have Friday afternoon off," Toru said. Most of the others nodded. I didn't because I was busy either way. Though I did want to give them a chance to rest.
"Tag," Ochako walked over to Ami and held up her hand. The bluette blinked, and then lightly slapped the other girl's palm, deliberately avoiding her fingertips.
"Party Remove, Uravity," I said, "Party Invite, Mercury."
It was a lark, to see if it worked. But it did. Which was good to know going forward.
"End Skill Jockey," I added. Then I looked at my best friend.
"Do you know what skills you want to borrow, Tsu?"
'Right,' Cassandra said, 'They swapped. I almost forgot about that.'
"I was thinking that Crab Magog one," Tsu answered me, "And then Boxing, too."
"Boxing?" Mo-chan prompted, and Momo and Mikoto also looked surprised.
"I think I need to branch out, kero. People are going to expect me to kick, with my legs and all.
They were very good legs.
"So having a good uppercut to mix things up would be handy."
"Okay," I took her hand, "Skill Jockey, Krav Maga, Boxing."
"Yes," Kyoka suddenly said, triumphantly.
"What's up?" Toru asked.
"I got High Speed Vision," the purplette musician answered.
She was hit by a barge of confused questions.
"Did you buy Atavistic Vision?" Ami asked, "Did you meet the requirements?"
"No," Kyoka said, "It was Earphone Jack Level 3. One of its effects says that I'll never be a speedster, but my sonic powers and exceptional hearing making me quicker than usual. So I get a bonus to learn Quickness based skills. I took a gamble that High Speed Vision would qualify, despite not being sound based. And it worked."
"Congratulations," I told her.
"That's some Decade level thinking," Mikoto ribbed her.
"Heh, heh, heh," Kyoka chuckled.
"And I gained a Trap Detection skill," I said, "Mainly knowing how to look out for wires and plates and things like that. I can't disarm them, but avoiding them will help. Maybe I should try to figure out what kinds of items have dungeons with a lot of traps. Pencils and cleaning supplies and Skill Books haven't."
"What about that Lupin Skill Book?" Ami reminded me.
"That one probably would," I nodded broadly, "Thanks."
"You should get going," Momo told us, before we could go off on another tangent.
I reached out to Toru, and she took my hand.
"Dungeon Create, Toru Hagakure."
The six of us appeared in a desert. Dry packed dirt, patches of brown, ragged weeds, and heat haze on the horizon. It was warm, but not unbearable. At least to me.
"Where are we?" Earphone asked.
"The Outback," InvisaGal said, "Only that shouldn't be here."
We turned to where she was pointing. There were two tall pillars with a face between them and an open mouth as a gate. A tall and decorative fence extended out from the outside of the the pillars. And beyond the gate...
"That's the Gold Coaster," our host proclaimed incredulously, "But that is from Dreamworld, not Luna Park. But that is the Luna Park's Boomerang. And that one is Aussie World's flume ride... I don't remember its name."
"What does that mean?" Mercury prompted.
"It looks like my Dungeon," InvisaGal said thoughtfully, "is a jumble of amusement parks we went to back when we lived in Australia. Well the first level of my Dungeon at any rate. What does it say, Izu... Decade?"
[Dungeon Entry - Toru Hagakure
[Dungeon Quest Alert
Ride 7 different roller coasters in 42 minutes, without losing your lunch. Real coasters, not the kiddie ones.
This Quest can only be attempted once, and must be attempted before leaving the Dungeon or moving onto the second level.
Timer starts after boarding the first coaster.
Magic item drop
Vomiting, nausea, upset stomach, indigestion, vertigo, dehydration in some combination.
"What?" Mordred exclaimed.
"Is that for real?" Earphone demanded.
"I thought you said there wasn't magic," InvisaGal looked at me sideways. Or at least that's what her tracksuit made it look like, I didn't have Clairvoyance up.
"No," I shook my head a bit sadly, "I said I can't learn magic. I have a real grimoire that is also a Skill Book. But The Gamer won't let me use it. I also know that mana, the energy of magic, exists. Both from the manual and from seeing a few people who have it. Well, one person, I guess. And it wasn't clear... Anyway, I'm mostly sure magic is real."
"Unless declared integer," Mercury interjected softly.
"And this would seem to confirm it," I continued, "Though I guess from that standpoint, maybe the potions and tape already confirmed it?"
"We have to try," Mordred said quickly, "And not just because I want to ride all these jet coasters."
"It is the first time a Quest has offered it," I agreed, "And I would like to see what it is."
"We can just kill all the enemies first, and then plan out how we will ride the rides, right?" Froppy suggested, "It says we need to complete the Quest without leaving or advancing, but we go into the Pencil of Solitude all the time. It isn't like it forces us to advance or kicks us out."
"Is everyone okay with roller coasters?" Mercury asked tentatively.
"Love them!" InvisaGal shouted.
"Me too," Mo-chan agreed.
"I don't have a problem with them," Kyoka said tentatively, "At least, I haven't so far. But I haven't ridden very many, either."
"Do you not like roller coasters, Mercury?" Froppy looked at her carefully.
"I... I don't know," the bluette admitted, "I've never ridden one. I haven't had a chance since fourth grade, and I was too scared back then."
"We can skip it," I told her, "I don't want anyone feeling uncomfortable or getting sick."
"No, I want to try," she said firmly. Then her face fell a bit, "I just don't want to disappoint everyone if I can't handle it."
"It's okay," Froppy said.
"Yeah," InvisaGal said brightly, "You can just go on one. And if you don't like it, we just let the timer run out."
The rest of us all nodded.
"Thanks," Mercury sounded relieved. And I hit the accept button.
In the end, the 'main' portion of Toru's Dungeon wasn't difficult. She was still the lowest level, so the enemies weren't the strong. I even restricted myself to purely physical fighting.
The mooks were dingoes and kangaroos. Not real ones, not monstrous ones. No, they were cartoony ones. Kangaroos in boxing gloves and dingos that slunk about. They were almost like cartoon mascots, or people in cartoon mascot costumes. Only more real and natural looking than either of those. They definitely had unnatural faces. I guess that made them somewhat creepy and monstrous in their own way. The mid-boss was a humanoid crocodile who threw boomerangs. And the boss was a giant platypus. Not a cartoony one, a normal platypus, if the size of a tank and very aggressive. The poison spurs on his ankles were more difficult to avoid than I would have expected. And his tail whips were strong. But avoid getting poisoned we did, and ultimately he went down.
After that came the truly difficult task.
[You have helped her settle her nerves and her stomachs. Massage skill improved (lvl 4)]
Ami's worries were unfounded. She was nervous at first, but by the end of the second coaster, she was enjoying it as much Mordred and Toru. I liked it too, but maybe not quite as much. I wouldn't say no, but I wouldn't push the issue or ride without my friends.
Kyoka and Tsu enjoyed it much less. The first two coasters they were okay. The third and fourth they were woozy and looking green around the gills. I had found that rubbing their hands and the middle of their backs helped them feel better. And earned me that Massage skill. I wasn't sure about Tsu, but I suspected that Kyoka's issue might be related to her Quirk. Maybe her other enhancements to her ears also made her inner ear more sensitive.
We had planned the easiest set. Of the nine major coasters, we were skipping the largest and fastest. And also the one with the most inversions and hairpin turns. And we rode the most exciting ones first. Now we only had one left. And I believed they could make it.
"Thanks, Izuku," Kyoka said as I released her hand and slid away on the bench.
"I'd offer you a potion, but I'm not sure it would help," I said. Then I paused before adding, "Either the effect of the potion, or simply for drinking something."
"We have six minutes left," Ami told them gently, "Do you think you can make it?"
"We can stop," I repeated, "All you have to do is say so. An item that we don't even know what it is, isn't worth either of you getting sick."
"I'll be okay," Tsu declared firmly, "I still like coasters. Just maybe not so many so close together."
"I'm not going to be the weakest link," Kyoka screwed up her determination, "Especially for something like this."
"Maybe think of it as training," I said, "like what if some Villain whips you around. That might be even worse than this."
"Yeah, training," she agreed.
"I can do this, ribbit," Tsu grunted.
[Bonus Quest Alert
Don't Chicken Out
Ride Tasmanian Devil last.
Greatly improved rewards from Vomit Comets.
Increased negative effects from Vomit Comets.
Tasmanian Devil was the one we skipped due to being the most wild. I hit decline without even hesitating.
Of course, after completing the quest, Ami, Mordred, Toru and I did ride on the remaining two roller coasters, before exiting the dungeon. Just for comparison. That said, The Gamer wasn't quite done with me.
Fun for the Whole Family
Bring Guild Mom and Eri to InvisaGal's Hidden World. With Toru Hagakure's permission, of course.
It didn't even have a set reward. But there was also no downside.
"Do you mind?" I asked Toru.
"Not if you bring me, too," she said, "After all, we only did the coasters. We didn't do any of the other rides. Or the water park... Can Eri-chan swim?"
"Sounds like we should make Toru into that Guild Hall thing," Mordred said. I couldn't tell if she was teasing or serious.
"Unfortunately, it can't be a person," Ochako remembered, "Which is too bad. Our own private theme park without having to pay for admission..."
"We could try getting some souvenir cups," Tsu suggested, "Maybe they would be like the park they came from."
"Or keychains," Momo added, "If we string a bunch of them together, maybe it would be a hybrid park like what you described."
\Can we see this magic item?/ Cassandra signed, \You've peaked my curiosity as to what it might be./
I pulled up the Quest tab, and hit accept on the now complete 'Vomit Comets'. Something dropped onto the kitchen table with a loud 'clunk'.
It was a single brass knuckle. Except instead of brass, it was tiger like pattern welding of orange and nearly black metals. And it wasn't just the finger loops, it had the palm support, too.
"Mokume-gane," Momo whispered, "It's beautiful."
It was too small for me, Mom, Froppy, or Momo. And All Might was right out. But looked like it would fit one of the other young lady Knights. I already had my suspicions who it was meant for.
An enchanted knuckle duster made from copper and nickel mokume-gane. The full enchantment is currently locked.
Durability: Resists corrosion and is stronger than most steels without being brittle.
+1 Enhancement Bonus: Attacks treat the skill used as being three levels higher.
Enchanted: Bypass resistance/immunity to non-magical attacks.
Quirk Adaptation: Will adapt to most Quirks.]
"What does all that mean?" Mordred asked, after I told them, "I understand the Durability one. And kind of the Enchanted one, there's always stories about monsters that can only by hurt be magic. And after meeting you, Izuku, I'm not sure they aren't true. But the other two? +1 Enhancement? Quirk Adaptation?"
"The +1 thing is a reference to a certain game. But based on the description... Analyze... Yeah, so for example, if you had a level 20 Boxing Skill, and you used that skill to punch someone with these knuckles, it would be like you had a 23 Skill level instead. A slightly better chance to hit and slightly more damage."
Then I up picked up the knuckles. And tossed them gently to Toru. She flinched, but still caught them. And as she held them, they seemed to slowly melt away.
"If Mikoto were to use them, they'd transmit her electricity like a super conductor," I said, "They probably wouldn't melt or freeze if Todoroki-kun could use them. But I think they were meant for Toru."
'Clunk'. She dropped the weapon on the table and it blinked back into view.
"What? Me?" she stammered.
"It came from your Dungeon," Tsu pointed out.
"And it seems to be made for you," Ami added.
"Even if Guild Mom's company can create a costume for you," Momo mused, "Weapons and tools will still be an issue. This neatly sidesteps that."
"But I'm new," Toru protested, "And it's the first magic item. Shouldn't it go to Tsuyu or Ami?"
"It won't fit me," Tsu held her hand over it.
"We gave the tonfas to Cassandra," I said, "Even though Mom and Tsu were in my party first. It's about the right tool to the right person."
"If you don't want it, I'll take it," Mikoto said.
"No," Toru snatched it up. And then slipped it onto her fingers, before it vanished.
"But in that case," the invisible girl took the multi-tool out of her tracksuit's pocket, "I think someone else should have this."
She sat it on the table. Tsu did the same thing.
"That's true," I said, taking out my own looted device, "I think Ami, Mikoto, and Momo should have them."
I held it out to the electrokinetic, since she was next to me.
"I didn't go into the Dungeons today," Momo protested.
"True," Tsu agreed, "But Izuku and I already have a handful of looted items. Guild Mom and All Might have a couple, too."
'I got the tonfas,' Cassandra said, 'and now Toru gets the knuckle. So the rest of you should at least get one of these tools.'
"That seems fair," Ami said, taking one of the hybrid pliers. I wasn't sure if it was coincidence or not that she claimed the one Tsu gave up. After a moment, Momo nodded and took the last tool.
"And with that, we're done, right?" Mordred said, grinning, "Because I can't wait to show this off the Aunt Rin. It's a lot nicer than the one she uses for her jewelry work."
A harsh scream tore me out of my dream. I sat bolt upright in bed and looked around frantically. I heard another strangled yell, followed by much softer, hoarse sobs.
I jumped out of bed and ran out into the main room. Mom was coming out of her room, pulling on a robe. Our eyes met, and we both looked at the doorway to Eri's room. I quietly opened the door.
She was still curled up in bed. Her eyes shut, asleep. But her face was a mask of terror and tears were streaming down her face. Slightly less importantly, at least as far as I was concerned, were the golden sparks flashing around her body. One branched off and hit the flower in the window. The open bloom folded up and turned into a sprout.
"Eri," Mom said softly. My sister didn't react. She twisted slightly, still crying in fear.
"Stay here," I said, stepping into the room.
"Izuku, you can't," she protested, "At least I'm older."
"My TK Armor will protect me." I knew it. I believed it.
I took another step towards Eri's bed. Forced all of my power into my shield. One of the bolts hit me. And TK Armor held. But my Energy dropped like a stone. It was already a little low from the Dungeons, though they had been less punishing than some of the others in that respect. It didn't matter. I needed to get to her.
Another spark hit me.
"Eri," I called out gently, softly. I wanted her to wake up, but didn't want to scare her. Mom put her phone back into her robe's pocket.
A third burst of Eri's power hit me. And my shield failed.
[Temporal attack. Energy restored. Plus Ultra penalty negated. Negative Status Level Drain (1) acquired.]
I jumped back, nearly hitting Mom.
"Are you okay?" she asked nervously, "I texted Aizawa-san."
"I'm fine," I said, "My Armor stopped it, at first. But she's too strong. But I have another idea. Hug me."
"Hug me mom," I said, "Hug me like when I had a nightmare. Hug me like you would hug Eri if you could get to her."
She did. She wrapped me in her arms. She hummed softly, tunelessly, soothingly. I soaked that in. Then I thought of myself. My fierce desire to protect Eri. To stop whatever would hurt her. I called up Empathy, and I took in Mom's feelings. Similar to my own, but kinder and softer. And then I project that to Eri. How it felt for me to be protected by Mom. How much we cared for her and would do anything to protect her. Her death grip on the blanket loosened. And the sparks diminished. But they weren't gone and she still looked frightened.
I went the next step. Added Telepathy to Empathy. Like how I projected Toru's face into the Knights' minds, I sent an image to Eri. A dragon. Not a scary dragon, but a bumbling, cartoon dragon. Still big and mean, except annoying instead of frightening. I gave it a face that vaguely resembled Overhaul in his mask. Enough for her to make the connection subconsciously, but hopefully not enough to trigger her further. The dragon tried to menace the good princess Eri, but he was too clumsy and stupid to do it. Still, whenever he tried, queen Inko would send out the Knights of the Meta; brave, noble, and kind. They stopped the dragon's schemes. Scolded him. And sent him back to his cave.
Eri relaxed. Her fear faded, and she chuckled. She even smiled a little, the first time I had seen one on her. And the sparks stopped.
"Washcloth," I whispered. She understood, and hurried off. I kept sending her the images. Mom returned, and handed me a damp towel. I tiptoed over to Eri. I gently wiped her face. Then I crawled into bed next to her and held her. Like Mom had held me.
"The dragon can't hurt you," I said softly.
"Silly dragon," she mumbled.
I looked up again, and Eraserhead was standing in the doorway with Mom. He looked at me. And then nodded. They closed the door.
[Bonus Quest "Night Terrors" completed. Negating Level Drain status. Temporal Resistance skill (lvl 1) unlocked.]
"You didn't need to do that," I told my power, "I would have gladly taken that condition for her. But thank you."
[You are a good big brother. Charisma +1]
Status Changes for Midoriya Izuku:
Health: 949 → 950
Energy: 1624 → 1649
(A)gility: 58 → 59
(W)it: 60 → 61
(C)harisma: 47 → 48
(D)etermination: 69 → 70
Analyze (W) – Battle Scan: 62 → 63
Basic Karate (A): 48 → 49
Boxing (S): 41 → 43
Parkour (A/Q): 43 → 44
Acrobatics (A): 23 → 24
Tai Chi Quan (A/S): 21 → 22
Empathy (C/I): 34 → 36
Clairvoyance (I/W) LB: 42 → 44
Jump (Q/S) LB: 16 → 17
Telepathy (I/C) LB: 17 → 20
High Speed Vision (W/Q) 24 → 25
Heat Resistance (E/D) 6 → 7
Trap Detection (W/I): → 1
Massage (A/C) → 4
Temporal Resistance (E/D) → 1
Authors Notes: 宝 and 富 are treasure and riches, respectively. Mozart did not say "Hiding", he said "Haydn", but Izuku isn't familiar enough with classic European composers to recognize that. And Level Drain as a status doesn't actually lower his level. It just gives him a flat penalty to everything he does, and any XP he earns goes to buying off the condition, instead of increasing his level.