The camp is set and it’s time to sleep. “Are you sure, that you want to take the first watch, Kyou? I can do it.” Rine asks carefully.
“It’s OK. Just go sleep already. I didn’t exercise much today, so both of you should sleep.” Kyou-san voluntarily takes the first watch. The fire mostly burned down and only ember remains, occasionally a twig or two are added, to keep the cave warm. night-watch is more than just watch out for enemies, it’s also taking care of the campfire.
With this, Rine and I lay down and sleep.
I have the [Sleepurnal]-skill, which allows me to perceive my surrounding even while sleeping. So I only sleep until Rine’s breaths becomes regularly.
After about half an hour, I awake. “Rine?” I ask her to be sure. No reaction, she’s asleep. “So Kyou-san. What do we do?” Of course I’m whispering.
“I slipped something into her dinner, so now she should be in deep slumber.” Kyou-san is talking aloud. She’s really confident. And she really did it. Poisoning her. And even I didn’t realized it. “RINE-CHAN! It’s an attack!”
“So now we can tie her and…”
Suddenly, Rine swings her sword, eyes half-opened. She looks down, right in front of her. I follow her look and see a single bug-like creature, which is cut in half. Even at this distance, my [Perception] allows me to perceive, that it has the stinger of a mosquito. Maybe it sucks blood line one, too?
And the one who killed it? “Oh… *yawn* Just a bug.” With a euphoric grin Rine’s body falls back to the ground, while shedding her blade. She… she’s asleep again.
“Ken, what happened?”
“Erm… a mosquito-like bug tried to suck Rine’s blood and she killed it while she’s asleep. … Just to be sure: RINE!? ARE YOU AWAKE!?”
… … …
But hearing my previous words, Kyou-san’s eyes opened wide. “But… how? I mean, she should be asleep for at least a few hours.”
“Let’s do an experiment.” I take a red-hot twig from the ember of the campfire and throw it in Rine’s direction. The moment the twig is within an arm-length, Rine instantaneously draws her sword and swing at it. She splits the twig and even though sparks came out, she swings her sword again to quench them with a fluent motion. “… falling twigs are annoying…” She sheds her sword and falls asleep again.
“RINE?!” I shout to be sure. Still no reaction. “We know three things now. First, she seems to be able to act like I with my [Sleepurnal]-skill, just instead of waking up, she just slashes at everything dangerous in reach. Second, she’s barely aware of her environment and just realizes what happens after she murdered it. And third: I WON’T GET NEAR HER, WHILE SHE SLEEPS!” She would kill me, if I try to tie her up! Damn it, Kyou-san can be gutted, if she wants to, but I won’t do it!
“Hm… we need to change the plan. Instead of sleep, I’ll aim for full unconsciousness next time.”
It might work, since the brain activities are at a bare minimum in a coma. But there is one thing which bothers me. “Phew, why are you moving everything up? Didn’t we agree before, that it’d be hard to transport her down the mountains?”
“Because it’ll be harder to capture her, the longer we wait.” Kyou-san seems to be bitter about it. But she’s right, the longer we wait, the more opportunities Rine have to realize, what we’re after. And of course, there are our classmates, which might close in.
“I need sleep before I can think of the next plan, you’ll watch the fire, Ken.” With these words, she lays down.
“Yes, yes.” Even though it’s unfair, I don’t have the energy to argue. If I complain about every little thing Kyou-san does to annoy me, I’d have no energy left to do the actual important stuff. And it’s not like I can’t use this opportunity.
After a while, Kyou-san sleeps. I’ll soon sleep next to her, watching the fire is a task I can do with [Sleepurnal], since I’ll hear when it’s not spitting. So we can still grind the WP for sleeping next to each other. But before that…
Studying the sleeping faces of Kyou-san and Rine, I reach a decision. It’s time to leave that cave, go to a lookout where I can watch the entrance and relieve all the pent-up stress in one big session!
Luckily Rine didn’t remember anything when she fell asleep, if anything she feel sorry that she ended up not doing night-watch at all. In the end Kyou-san was able to play the ‘friendship-card’ which proved very effective.
We’re back to mountain-climbing, but somehow I’m on the edge. It’s like something is wrong, even though I can’t put my finger on it. I didn’t told the girls, since it might be only uneasiness. Maybe because we’re trying to reach a peak. Altitude-sickness, maybe?
“Ken, why are you looking around like that?”
“…enemies. Three crawling types, can only hear them.”
“Crawling? Maybe mountain-crawler.” Rine draws her sword. “But are you sure? I don’t hear a thing.”
There! I run around a man-sized rock and “[Speedthrust]!” with a tearing sound, one caterpillar-like mob is obliterated, guts is flying everywhere.
Two more are lurking there, but suddenly I start to gag. What is happening?
With a swift motion, Rine overhauls me and slashes the remaining two with a single strike, the guts are flying. But then she gags as well. “The guts…”
Ah, I see. So the guts have some odorless chemical, which causes this nausea. But it passes quickly, maybe about 10 seconds. But a deadly time-frame, if you’re fighting multiple of them… is that their strategy? Lurking around, ambushing prey and if that fails, the first to die will immobilize the enemy with its nauseating guts?
But thinking of it, that body easily bursts open. Who thought of monsters like that!?
“These are mountain-crawlers?”
“No, mountain-crawlers are bigger. These are boak-crawler, I think.” Ah, so the cow-sized ones we found before are the mountain-crawlers. These mountains have too many caterpillar-like monsters!
“Let’s wait a bit.” I suggest. “I feel still a bit sick.”
Kyou-san nodded: “Alright.”
“Ah!” I exclaim and look to the direction of the peak we’re aiming at. “Not good.” There are at least a dozen flying creatures, most likely the ones who left the talon marks the day before. The marks let me think, that they’re very big, but this is between a cow and an elephant! “And what’s between their talons…” Each of those birds, which have two pairs of wings and a long, blade-looking beak, have a boak-crawler in each talon. And since these creatures have four legs each, it’s 48 centipedes on the fly! “RUN!”
Please let those birds be stupid! Please!
I’m already a few meters away, while the girls are still wondering, but now they’re finally moving. But I realize, that we’re not only detected, but too slow, the creatures are already catching up!
And the flying bastards do as I feared: They’re flying right above us and let the boak-crawler fall on us. They might burst, if they reach impact and immobilize us with their gut-chemicals!
I change class to [Pikeman] and shout to Rine: “Support my jump! And run afterwards!”
Rine is looking at me confused but goes into position, hands hold together under her stomach. I run at her and jumps on this provisional platform, she propels me even higher, right into the first clutch of boak-crawler. “[Whirlwind]!”
Guts are splattered around me, but the [Whirlwind]-skill pushes enemies away, so the carcasses are flying even higher, smashing into the second wave of boak-crawler, Nausea overwhelms me and the last thing I thought was ‘This will hurt’ as I crashed into the ground, without the chance to break my fall. I could see my HP decreasing in an alarming range. My Max HP decreased as well, I might have broke something.
The third wave of falling boak-crawlers is falling right on me and while they burst, I take even more damage. My SP are decreasing as well, maybe because I’m suffocating because all this gagging. I try to stand up, but I can already see three of these bizarre birds approaching, the ones who hurled wave one to three.
Ah, I’m dead. But the hell I will give up! Every ounce of willpower went into my body, trying to move it.
And then, *swing* with a beautiful arc, a sword is biting into the body of one of these creatures. Rine. That idiot! If I say ‘run’ to you, you should run!
And your aim is wrong. How could you mess up your one-swing-one-death principle? Must be, because she hurried to me. Of course, Kyou-san isn’t here. She’s smarter than that.
Rine’s resistance is short-lived. A fourth wave of falling boak-crawlers is falling near her and she’s gagging now, too. Now one of these four-wing-creatures is approaching her, the one she slashed earlier. It seems to be heavily wounded, but the eyes burn with hatred. I see. She’ll die before me. Since she tried to help me. She’s stupid.
I’m trembling! The world seems to tremble. Why am I trembling that much? Is it regret? Is it self-hatred? Is it pride? I don’t know, actually I feel kinda hollow inside.
Wait a minute, the world is trembling! At least the mountain! What… The ground! The ground rises right before my eyes, while I’m unable to move! And the earth under me is shifting… I’m rolling in the direction that was uphill until now.
The winged creatures fall into panic and try to take flight. Could you please take me with you, we can still discuss all the ‘you tried to kill me’-stuff, but I don’t want to be left behind, when the earth and rocks around me are moving and about to crush me.
Ah, that won’t be my biggest problem, now. I’m rolling down a newly formed cliff. Well, I’m dead. Next life, I want to be a gamer again.
Suddenly, something is grabbing my collar from behind, choking me: “I got you, Kenta!” It’s Rine, who was able to shake off the nausea. Well, mine is over, too, but my body doesn’t move. It might be overwhelming pain, which is shut off by adrenaline. Or something like that.
Rine is hanging on the still shifting ground and it becomes steeper and steeper. Her fingers dig deep into the earth, but my exact question is: How long until we both fall? “Stupid.” My voice is groaning.
“Stupid! Let me go and try to save yourself! Helping me is killing you!”
“The ground itself is trying to throw me off the cliff! Just behave like a stupid princess and act as if you’re well-meaning, while stepping over corpses!”
“You… you try to make me abandon you, since we’re friends!”
“No, I’m not! I hate your guts! You act all noble and strong, while sacrificing yourself, I hate that!”
For a moment, Rine staggered, but then she embraces her determination: “You just tried to safe Kyou and me by sacrificing yourself as well!”
“I just hate TPKs and especially those players, who evoke them by not doing their job! One dead is better than a TPK, especially in raids!“
“Total Party Kill, you dumbnut!”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, so I’ll ignore you!”
“Beh!” Is she just sticking out her tongue to me!?
“Lift me up, so I can spit on you!”
“Gladly!” Rine enforces her grip on my collar and tries to pull me up, but with a sudden movement, the ground beneath us goes vertical. How the heck is that even possible?
For a moment, Rine has to carry both our weights with one hand alone. Then the earth under her hand broke away and both of us are feeling the gravity.
Ah, we’re lucky. Beneath us is one of these strange four-winged creatures. We’ll land right on it… wait, we’re unlucky, we’ll fall next to it, almost in reach, but with no chance to get it.
Well, we’re dead. The only good thing about it, that the person who I’m currently most irritated at will die, too. Too bad I can’t move and shove Rine aside, so we can die at different places.
And then something unexpected happens. Or more like ‘happened again’ as suddenly another ground appears and picks the winged creature I mentioned before from the side. I can hear the sound of crushing bones and bursting blood.
We’re landing on that new part of ground, but it’s still about eight meter free-fall. Guess, it can’t be helped. If I die, but Rine might survive, I may as well let her suffer by doing the following: I use the last bit of willpower, grabbed Rine’s arm, which is still holding my collar, and pull her into an embrace. I will impact first, hopefully I’ll die fast. And shielded that way, she will survive and my death will put her through mental hell! Serves you right!
The main-problem is about to happen: The landing… Strange, the earth is giving in… is it that loose? Oh, that patch of ground just moved again, we missed it and we’re still free-falling.
“HHHAAAHHH???” A deep sound is echoing all around us.
Another bit of ground appears below the one we missed and… captured us. The impact itself doesn’t hurt much, but the fact that I’m getting Rine’s knee into my stomach is kinda bad. Oh, who just spat out all that blood? And where do so much of my HP go?
Oh… Blackness engulfs me.
For me, Momokawa Kyou, things didn’t go well. I was captured by strange bird-like monsters the moment, Rine-chan returned to help Ken out and then the ground moved. I’m actually glad, that I was not down there at the moment, the earth began to move.
Because that is no mountain we were on. It was gargantuan creature made of earth, rock and stone! It was laying there and the so-called peak was actually it’s butt!
I don’t know what happened to Rine-chan and Ken, but while this mountain-creature was standing up, I could get a glimpse of the damage, it caused. Several monsters were crushed by some of its minor movements.
Even though, I still hold one hope at that moment: ‘Please, let Ken die.’ There is still the possibility, that his death will lift his curse which befell me. But there was no curse-message-window and the ring is still on my finger, so all I can do is hope.
But soon it becomes worse. The creature made of a mountain attacked the flying ones and crushed one after another with its big arms. It’s like catching bugs with hands! But something distracted the earth-giant, so two of the winged creatures could flee, including the one, who captured me in its talons.
Now I just need a way to survive. And with a bit of luck, Ken is bleeding out currently, only a few seconds away from dead and the curse will be lifted thereafter.
I might be lucky, for a change.
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