Happy New Year

Defense Specialization and Annihilation

Using Haku or Syrup to move around would be way too conspicuous. Therefore, with the exception of Mai and Yui –who could still use Tsukimi and Yukimi– the party was using monsters they had tamed temporarily using items that had been specifically provided for this event.

These plains had several different kinds of monsters that could be ridden, such as horses and cows.

“We’re about to cross the border, Maple.”

"Got it!”

After the long travel towards the border was over, the eight of them parted ways with the monsters, and came to an area sandwiched between cliffs, where an icy wind was blowing. This area not only reduced player movement speed, but also greatly reduced the range for all weapons except for those that were already meant to be used at melee range,

This is one of the few areas on the map where players wouldn’t normally want to step into.

"There shouldn’t be too many people lurking around here…”

At melee range, Maple had an advantage thanks to her “Devour”. And she wouldn’t need to worry about long-range attacks because of this terrain’s debuff.

"Then we'll start by setting things up here first. Fay, ‘Spirit's Mischief’!”

After taking out some of her bombs, Iz lined them up in a little dent where one could sit down and rest, and once that was done, she installed a sensor.

"Ohh, so does that mean the enemy won’t be able to see it?"

"That's right. The previous event went well thanks to this Skill."

"You mean that one where the forest suddenly started to explode?"

“Yeah. This setup will do just fine here… but once we head deeper into the enemy camp, I’m gonna have to go all out.”

"We have to get deep inside before they notice us."

Their goal was to slowly and steadily lay down a network of traps as they advanced. The items that Iz made for this event would remain in place for a longer period of time than normal items, hiding and biding their time. They would then suddenly bare their fangs at the enemy, potentially changing the tide of the battle.

“Let’s keep going forward. Maple, keep your shield at the ready. Mai, Yui, stay behind Chrome at all times.”

"Got it!"


Maple's “Dedicated Affection” would allow the party to easily enter areas that would normally be difficult for ordinary players to walk through.

The plan was to dodge the enemy’s own security net by going through a route that would be tremendously disadvantageous under normal circumstances.

“The next area will deal damage at regular intervals… Maple, you’re up.”


No one knew that “Maple Tree” was marching while laying down explosives.

Anyone who stepped into this bomb-ridden network would die. Maple and the others continued to move into enemy territory while laying down more traps.

Then, as they were moving forward, Sally came to a complete halt right before they all entered an area covered in a thick fog, where monsters would be waiting to attack any players by surprise.

"…Someone is coming!"

"Got it!”

No one doubted Sally’s words, even though she was the only one who had sensed anything at all.

The eight of them quickly hid in the shadows holding their breath and staring at the other side of the mist. Then, after a while, a shadowy figure became slightly visible through the thick fog.

"Ten people… huh?"

Though the enemy had more numbers, the eight of them were confident that they could take them on now that Maple was with them. Chrome checked to see if there were any other enemies while holding up his large shield just in case.

"…Yeah, there’s ten of them. Mai, Yui. Can you go?"


"Yeah, we can do this."

"Okay. Kanade."


After calling out to Kanade, Sally quickly moved to the execution of their strategy.

While Maple and the others had grasped the situation in advance, the enemy still hadn't noticed the presence of “Maple Tree”.

"…Do you see anyone out there?”

"This fog is so thick…"

"But be careful. They could be hiding somewhere around here.”

The ten players huddled together and moved while trying to reduce blind spots as much as possible. Their Sorcerers were being shielded from all sides by their Great Shielders.

With this, they would be able to cast their spells without having to worry about anyone approaching. The ten players continued to be vigilant as they advanced.

Then, they were instantly wiped out by something invisible. They were given no time to activate any of their Skills. Quicker than their Great Shielders could figure out why their “Stout Guardian” was triggered, the ten of them vanished from the field unaware of what had happened to them.

Seeing that, Maple and the others came out from the shadows.

"Oh! You two are amazing!"

When Maple called out to the apparent nothingness, Mai and Yui suddenly appeared.

"It worked!"

"Oh, I'm glad…"

The two of them seemed relieved. At their feet, two Oboros were looking up at the party with a proud expression on their faces.

"Nice! Well, let’s exchange them back. Here’s Yukimi.”

"Here’s Tsukimi. Be careful not to drop him, ‘kay?”

Kanade and Sally handed over the “Bridge of Bonds” that they had received from Mai and Yui, and then received the ones they had given to them in return.

"This is a bit of an oversight, don’t you think?”

"Certainly. After all, they do let you trade these between players…”

While it was true that each player could only have one “Bridge of Bonds” at all times, they were still allowed to unequip them and give them to other players so that they could borrow their powers. Of course, this wouldn't work if there wasn't some kind of relationship of trust between the players involved, but this wasn’t a problem for “Maple Tree”.

"We can trade them again later if we need to use Oboro and Sou for another ‘Swift Shadow’ combo.”


“Swift Shadow” was a Skill with a very short duration. Even if Sally or Kanade were to use it, it would be hard for either of them to change the battle situation significantly before it wore off.

But Mai and Yui are a different story. With the overwhelming destructive power of turning everything they touch into dust, their 16 Great Hammers can put an end to anything as long as they can get close to their target.

No one would survive, and no one would know what hit them.

If someone managed to escape, they wouldn’t be able to inform their guild about exactly how everyone else was killed.

And if that happened, the enemy then would have to come to this area to investigate. They would need to come to Maple and the others without knowing exactly what they could expect to face.

"Maple, Time to strike. Swallow them all."

"Yeah! I'll do my best!"

The more players that come, the better. They would all add to the pile of corpses.

The eight of them had set their trap. Nothing would be left behind.

And it had to be done without the enemy knowing about it. The enemy troops would continue to march forward without them being able to notice that they would be marching to their deaths.

"We’re waiting here, Iz.”

"Okay. Can you guys help me set things up around here?"

Everything needed to be ready before the enemy players arrived. The fog covering this place made it a perfect place to lie in wait.

Thus everyone worked together to get everything ready and then waited for the moment when the enemy would come.

They stayed still, peeking from behind the rocks. And after a moment of waiting, they could see the shadowy figures of the enemy army approaching beyond the fog.

They must have taken seriously the fact that ten people died in an instant. Although the fog made it impossible to measure the exact number, the scale of this new party was clearly different from the reconnaissance party they had defeated earlier.

“Let’s do it, Maple. There seem to be too many of them for Mai and Yui to handle on their own.”

"Sure. I'm ready!"

"Then come with me. Now’s the time…"

With Sally in the lead, they quietly move from one shadow to another, consolidating their advantageous position.

Over there was a large area with fewer obstacles, making it suitable for fighting with a large number of people.

If the enemy intended to take advantage of their numbers, they would definitely want to enter this large area.

"Hold onto your ‘Dedicated Affection’ until the very last moment.”


"Phew, it's a little scary, but…"

"Since you decided to do it, why don't you do it?"

"We too…"

“We still have ‘Giant’s Work’.”

"I'll support you all the way until the landing."

"I'm ready whenever you are."

After going over the plan once again, Sally bound everyone to Maple with her threads.

Maple pointed one of her arms towards the ground before turning it into a gun barrel, and when she saw players entering the wide space in front of her one after another, she looked at Sally.

"Oboro, ‘Shadow Clone’!”

"’Guardian’! "

At the same time as Chrome used a skill that would allow him to redirect any damage dealt to the other party members towards himself, Maple unleashed a blast from her gun barrel, launching her and the rest of the guild members that were tied to her up and forward into the sky.

"Something is coming!"

"From the front… no, from the top!"

Being distracted by the “Shadow Clones” that were coming at them from the front, the large party hurriedly tried to use their Skills to deal with Maple, who was now in the middle of falling on top of them.

“‘Wide Range’ ‘Protective Light’.”

Kanade made everyone invincible for a short time, nullifying any incoming magical attack as Maple got closer and closer to the ground.

"Dodge it!”

They didn’t know exactly what was coming down at them thanks to the thick fog. But there was no doubt that it intended to crash right on top of them.

In response to this, they all cleared out from the center of their formation and readied their weapons in case they needed to attack whatever that was falling from the sky after the impact.

This thing would have made a thunderous noise as it fell straight into the ground, whipping up a cloud of dust and sand… but suddenly disappeared.

Not only that, all the players who were running in had also vanished.

"They’re gone…?”

"Was that an illusion?"

"The enemy has to be preparing their next attack! Watch out!"

Skills that created illusions quickly earned a reputation of being something to watch out for, as they became more commonly used as the Skills players learned became more diverse. It was only natural to expect the real enemy to be somewhere in the area and to switch to a tight formation with everyone covering each others’ backs in a circle.

As soon as it landed, the thing disappeared into the ground under the mist and dust. There were simply not enough similar Skills out there for other players to predict what was going to happen next.


"W-We’re sinking..:? Waah!?”

The ground suddenly turned into mud as reddish-black sparks rushed through the surface, and blue lasers surrounded everyone, who found themselves unable to lift even a single foot.

Without even knowing what was happening, they were subject to a combination of a status ailment, a continuous damage effect that constantly drained their HP, and also reduced their movement speed.

Then, a series of explosions, a huge ivy, and a muddy stream that threw them off balance.

All of this happened in just a moment. They hadn’t heard anyone saying the name of a Skill, and no prior effects. All these things suddenly appeared on the spot as if they had been there from the beginning.

"Run away! Run away now!”

"I can’t… move my legs…!”

Since they didn’t know what hit them, they had no way to respond appropriately to this attack.

However, this had been too flashy for a simple surprise attack. It had to have been staged in advance with considerable preparation. At the very end, they were finally able to recognize the presence at the center of it all.

A figure was standing on top of a nearby rock as if to avoid the muddy ground, stretching out four black wings they had never seen before along with its familiar two white wings. It was a monster that emanated a blue and red light that spelled death for anyone who happened to be in its way.

She had gained the ability to catch her enemies by surprise, and with a devastating power at that. Seeing Maple, who had grown so much since the 4th event, they finally understood that they had been lured into her trap.

Maple's “Annihilation Area” had literally annihilated all of the players there.

Thanks to its huge area of effect –with the only disadvantage of also being able to affect allies in range– and every available movement speed reduction Skill from every member of “Maple Tree” to prevent the enemy from escaping, the enemy had been driven to a corner, where they were too confused about what was happening to be able to react on time.

"’Earth's Cradle’ is very strong… I wonder if I should’ve gotten it too.”

“I think it has a lot to do with how well it synergizes with Maple’s other skills… but even if you use it only to quickly get away from somewhere… yeah, it’s pretty powerful.”

When burrowing into the ground with “Earth's Cradle”, any activated Skills and items used would come into effect after coming out of the ground. This is what Maple and the others had used to create this situation where a lot of things happened at the same time.

“Yeah, I’m sure they weren’t expecting all that stuff to happen from just one skill, huh?”

"That's right. Besides, I don't think anyone has ever seen you use your ‘Annihilation Area’. Maple.”

When assaulted by several unknown things, it’s important to have enough time to be able to come up with ways to deal with them. Maple’s perfect surprise attack worked because it had completely taken away that margin.

"Alright! Worked like a charm!”

“Yeah. The fact that we were able to land without having to rely on your ‘Dedicated Affection’ was huge. If they knew it was Maple who jumped into the air, everyone would have ran away before we could do anything about it.”

"That's right."

“You’re so strong, Maple…”

"We should all remain on guard…”

The wise keep away from danger, or so they say. Basically, there was no need for any of them to go out of their way just to fight the enemy.

They needed to save their Skills for when the time was right, or the next batch of enemies would be abIe to escape their trap.

"I wonder if they will send in more people after this?”

"…Well, I think they will switch to a few of their elite."

“I think so too. And if they know that coming in like they had only resulted in them being taken down one-sidedly, they won’t come back in the same way, right?”

"Then let’s be careful from here on!"

"Yes. We also have the cooldown of Maple's Skill to consider, and although no one has escaped this time, I think there is a high possibility that they noticed Maple’s presence."

Although the number of players with powerful Skills was increasing, there were still a handful of players with the ability to single-handedly overwhelm the enemy and wreak havoc on the battlefield. Having lost this badly could also lead the enemy to eventually realize who’s behind these powerful attacks.

“Let’s hurry up and leave Iz’s items here. The truth is that we don’t have Maple’s ‘Stout Guardian’ for the rest of the day, so I’d like to avoid these 50/50 battles as much as possible.”

"Got it!"

"Then let's move quickly before reinforcements arrive."

After having annihilated the enemy in such a flashy way, this operation was no longer covert. Before the next unit arrived, Maple and the others got on on Haku and scattered Iz's transparent bombs all over the place.