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Beta Testing the Apocalypse

MC accidentally gets shot in the head and ends up meeting a being known as a Transdimensional Fairy. After forging an agreement, he is sent to a localized world in Purgatoria to become a Beta Tester for humanity's upcoming apocalypse. His objective is to conquer a Tower of unknown height and to aid him in his journey, he ends up summoning various characters from his memories, the first being Mordred Pendragon from the Fate Series.

Einlion · Anime & Comics
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91 Chs

Chapter 013

'This thing is fucking massive...'

With a diameter of thirty kilometers and a height that was impossible to ascertain from the ground, the Tower was a truly mind-boggling structure. The exterior appeared to be constructed of an off-white stone, but Wil's [Appraising Eye] drew a blank, and it could neither be damaged nor put in Leon's Storage. One of its key features was that it slowly spiraled upward and was covered in reliefs depicting various creatures and scenes of war, but when Mordred tried climbing it, she immediately slid off, describing it as trying to scale a curtain of flowing sand.

"Okay, listen up...!" shouted Mordred, standing with her feet spread apart, back straight, and hands resting on the pommel of her greatsword with its tip planted in the ground.

"We have no idea what dangers await us when we enter the Tower! I will do what I can to protect you, but as you have all chosen to enter of your own accord, your safety is ultimately your responsibility! If you perish or get separated from the rest of the group, do not assume we will recover your body or come to your rescue! If you can't handle that, turn away and wait patiently for our return...!"

"You're really fired up today, Moe-tan! Banzai!" shouted Shouchi, cupping his hands around his mouth like a fan cheering for his idol. His outfit had changed rather drastically from the one he appeared in, making him look like a fantasy rogue or thief, but since he always wore a red bandana, the look suited him.

Ignoring Shouchi's shout, Mordred cast her gaze over their other party members, Wil and Presea. Souma was also interested in exploring the Tower, but as he had no training or experience, he was 'volunteered' by Mordred to stay back and watch over the camp. But, considering he had fed her one of his infamous 'failed dishes,' he was lucky she hadn't killed him.

Seeing no fear or doubt in Wil's or Presea's expressions, Mordred nodded in approval before extracting her sword from the ground and resting it on her shoulder as she turned and led the way toward the towering, 100m tall stone doors that served as the Tower's entrance. They automatically opened when someone with permission approached, so as Mordred drew near, the doors parted to reveal a swirling blue vortex of magical energy against a backdrop of impenetrable darkness.

Exhibiting no fear or hesitation, Mordred stepped into the vortex. Leon tensed as he followed in her wake, but as he had already died once, he braced himself and stepped into the fast-moving swirl, feeling a tugging sensation in his gut before he was suddenly deposited at the top of a hill overlooking a vast stretch of rolling, blue-green hills. What looked like a lake could be seen in the distance, while, even further beyond, mountains covered in snow dominated the horizon in every direction.

Emerging from the shimmering blue ovoid that glistened behind Leon and Mordred like water trapped within a veil plasma, Presea sported her usual neutral expression while Wil smiled in appreciation. Shouichi also beamed, but as could be expected from someone obsessed with adventuring that had been tossed into a fantasy setting, his brown eyes twinkling like stars as he pumped his fists and exclaimed, "Now this is what I'm talking about! Pristine wilderness as far as the eye can see, and not a single map to rely on...!"

"You can explore freely once we've discovered the entrance to the next floor," said Mordred. "For now, we stick together and address threats as a group."

"I believe that to be the wisest course of action, but is this truly the inside of that massive Tower?" asked Wil, gazing up at the cerulean blue sky and wispy white clouds overhead.

"Even if it's a completely separate world, it doesn't change what we've come here to do," contended Mordred. "For now, we'll aim for that large hill and lake in the distance. They look to be around six to ten kilometers from here."

"That's an excellent suggestion," said Wil, nodding in approval. "If it's a water source, monitoring it could give us a better understanding of the types of fauna that call this floor home."

"It's cute..." said Presea, drawing everyone's attention as she pointed at a shiny, pink, and translucent creature drinking from a nearby puddle. It had all the trappings of a generic, low-level Slime, but recognition flashed across Leon's nonexistent face as he noticed its distinctive w-shaped lips and beady yet adorable black eyes...

"It's a Poring..."

"You recognize this monster...?" asked Wil.

"Is it dangerous...?" asked Mordred. As far as she could tell, the Poring was completely harmless, but it was always better to assume otherwise.

"They're one of the mascot monsters of a game I used to play as a kid, Ragnarok Online," explained Leon, further elucidating, "Other than a few harmless plants, they're among the weakest monsters in the game. You need to be cautious of those with different colors, but these pink ones are used in the tutorial to familiarize new players with the combat system."

"Makes sense," said Shouchi. "I mean, if they pit us against dragons from the beginning, there'd be no way for us to advance."

"We shouldn't drop our guards just because the first enemy we encounter is weak," said Mordred, brandishing her greatsword like a baseball player stepping up to bat as she added, "Never discount the possibility that your enemy is attempting to fool you or proficient in illusions."

Punctuating her words, Mordred charged forward, angling the tip of her greatsword behind her and unleashing Mana from it to propel herself like a rocket. Presea's eyes widened and she reached out as if to call Mordred off, but her actions were too slow as the latter smacked the Poring with the flat of her blade, exploding it into thousands of tiny gelatinous chunks.

"Hmmm...?"

Seeing the chunks of Poring evaporate, leaving behind a tiny, rice-sized crystal fragment and what looked like a piece of congealed, transparent jelly, Mordred bent down to pick up both.

Turning to face the group, ignoring Presea's dead fish eyes, Mordred held out the two items and asked, "Master Wilfred, can you analyze these with your [Appraising Eye]?"

"I can try," replied Wil, approaching, picking up the tiny crystal fragment and holding it up to the sky with his right eye closed.

"This one appears to be called a Thousand-Grain Crystal Fragment," blinking in surprise as he added, "According to its detailed description, they can be used to enhance potions. More importantly, it states that if we collect a thousand, they can be refined into something called a Red Summoning Crystal."

"That must be what's required to summon additional allies," said Leon, feeling sorry for Presea but excited by the prospect of expanding their ranks.

"Yes, I believe that to be the case," said Wil, adopting a smile of his own as he inspected the remaining item, revealing, "As for this item, it appears to be called a Jellopy. They can apparently be used to make sweets, but their primary use is as a thickening agent."

"Well done, Master Wilfred," said Mordred. "That [Appraising Eye] of yours is a remarkable ability."

"Sir Mordred is too kind," replied Wil, maintaining his smile as he handed the two items to Leon. The latter was annoyed seeing the two being so friendly, but he suppressed it as he was confident in Wil's character and chose to trust in Mordred's assurance that she would never do anything to undermine his trust.

"I don't approve..." said Presea, drawing everyone's gaze as she adopted a faint but discernibly pouty expression and asserted, "Cute things should be cherished..."

"I'm with Presea-chan on this one," appended Shouichi. "We're bound to find all kinds of monsters that want to tear us apart or have us as a snack. Hunting those who are friendly or just trying to live their lives isn't right."

Narrowing her eyes, Mordred flatly remarked, "The animals we hunt and the fish we catch for sustenance are also just trying to live. We have just learned these monsters are capable of dropping the materials required to expand our facilities and bolster our forces. Are you seriously suggesting that we spare them just because they're cute? Then what happens when we start domesticating pigs and cattle, and someone refuses to allow us to butcher them because they also think they're cute?"

"I'll be the one to decide where we draw the line," said Leon, drawing everyone's gaze and causing Mordred to raise her right brow.

Taking a deep breath and puffing out his nonexistent chest, Leon stated, "Though our goal is to conquer this Tower, the means by which we do so are important. It's safe to assume all our actions are being monitored and evaluated, so there's a good chance this is a test that will determine what kind of challenges we face on higher floors. With that in mind, I believe it is best to avoid antagonizing or wantonly massacring monsters that pose no substantive threat or exhibit no hostility..."

Contrasting the harshness she directed at Shouchi, Mordred offered an affirming nod and placed her right hand over her chest in response to Leon's words, stating, "If that is our Lord's will, I, your loyal Knight, shall obey." Then, surprising everyone, she turned to Presea, lowered her head ever so slightly, and added, "And I sincerely apologize for my previous words and actions..."

"Let's just leave it at that..." said Leon, looking around the area as he added, "Besides, if this floor is based on the game I'm familiar with, we should be able to find plenty of monsters besides Porings. And since this one dropped a Jellopy, there's a chance some pretty useful items known as cards could drop..."

"Cards...?" repeated Wil.

"Yeah. Back in the game, most monsters had a one-in-ten-thousand chance of dropping a card of themselves. Most were useless, but some provided ridiculously overpowered effects when slotted into equipment," explained Leon.

"That sounds similar to engraving or enchanting items with magic," said Wil, his eyes sparkling with intrigue as he caressed his chin. He wasn't surprised that the Poring had left behind items when it was defeated, as monsters in his previous world did the same, but the concept of 'cards' was completely new to him.

"Well, what are we waiting for!?" asked Shouchi, pointing in the direction of the hill that Mordred had denoted earlier, shouting, "Last one there has to take a dip in the lake...!"

Without waiting for anyone else, Shouchi took off running with surprising swiftness. He and Souma had actually become more powerful after being summoned, so while his speed was incomparable to Mordred's, especially when she used Mana, he was the second fastest among the people Leon had summoned.

Though Leon nearly took off in response to Shouchi's words, he stopped when he noticed everyone else was standing their ground. Mordred then apparently sensed that he was staring at her as she explained, "This isn't a place for games, so there's no reason to play along with that fool. Since he's fast enough to escape from danger, however, letting him go ahead to serve as a Scout is beneficial."

"And what if he's not fast enough to escape...?" asked Leon.

Shrugging, Mordred replied, "Then he will have sealed his own fate. Life is filled with consequences. Those who live carelessly have only themselves to blame if they meet an untimely end."

"That's pretty harsh..." said Leon, smiling wryly as he added, "Harsh, but true." Then, alongside the rest of the group, they moved at a leisurely yet alert pace, affording Wil time to analyze and document various types of plants and grass as they moved in roughly the same direction as Shouichi, who, by the time they reached him, was enjoying a nap with three Porings snuggled up to him...

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