Chapter 4-3

edited by Dreen

“Are you sure, Kyou?”

“Yes. I feel it.” I blatantly lied about how the ring is conferring to me the place, where Ken wants me to go. Masahiko-kun and the others are wary, they didn’t forget about the traps, so at the moment, we move at snail’s pace.

Teru-chan changed into [Scout]-class, the same  as Ken has, and takes her time to investigate  every centimeter in our path. Knowing Ken, he wouldn’t use the traps to catch us here. His tendency to put safety first will lead him to safeguard a retreat route.

Should I tell them?

No, I want to see how this all plays out. Even though I might get some of the same drawbacks of the curse as Ken, there is no guarantee, that he will be able to resist the combined force of Masahiko-kun and the others.

Seeing their performance first-hand, I realized just how much of a difference teamwork makes. So as long as Rine-chan doesn’t interfere, I’m positive that the [Student]-Ken will be defeated. They could most likely even take him out, if he has all of his powers.

But Rine-chan will probably interfere.

I didn’t tell Masahiko-kun and the others about her yet. Knowing Ken, he won’t let her  participate that easily…

I’m not like him. I don’t constantly think about details, but this gives me headache.

If this was only about my friends and him, I would never side with him under any circumstances. But there is Rine-chan, the curse, and most important, my own well-being to consider.

Masahiko-kun and the others only want to capture Ken. If I told Ken that, he would go overboard, which might be dangerous for my friends. As long as he’s in the dark about their intentions, he will most likely only think, that they want to capture Rine-chan, which makes it easier for my friends.

But if I tell Masahiko-kun about Rine-chan, he might want to capture her as well. But Rine-chan is dangerous! Even though I can’t imagine, that she would do much harm to other people, it’s still possible, that she considers breaking bones as ‘not much harm’.

Headache.

Teru-chan interrupts my thoughts and points with her spear to the ground. “Masahiko, there are no traps here. But I can see tracks of two people.”

“Two?”

Ken, you idiot! Didn’t you consider someone else might also have the [Track]-skill?

“Do you know who this could be, Kyou?” Masahiko-kun directly asks me, looking at me with his usual open-minded face.

“Erm… I have an idea. Are these a woman’s tracks, Teru-chan?” Seems like that cat is out of the bag anyway.

“Probably.”

“Then it might be… the Princess’.”

Everyone is bewildered by my words.

The broad-built Daichi-kun put his arms akimbo. “The Princess? Are you sure, Kyou-san?”

“Like I said, ‘might be’, Daichi-kun.”

Everyone exchanges one look and I realized, that they now think, that Ken has Rine-chan under his control. This is not, what I wanted!

“How do you know?”

Eri-chan becomes even more annoying! “Because… we met before. But were then attacked by those birds.” Staying  as vague as possible.

I can clearly see the wish in the faces of my friends to have another strategy-meeting. But everyone other than Masahiko-kun want to exclude me from this. They don’t trust me at all and I wouldn’t  either, if I were in their shoes.

“Kyou, what do you know about the Princess?” He naturally asks me, as if I’m really part of their group. This hurts a bit.

“Like the people of Wächter told you, she’s good at fighting and dangerous. So be cautious. Even Ken and I didn’t dare to challenge her directly. But she’s also easy to trick.” They need to know that much to deal with her.

“I see. So Katsuragi-kun might have tricked her.” I seldom see Masahiko-kun angry, but this seems to be his limit. “First Kyou, now the Princess. We need to stop him, so he may redeem himself!”

Masahiko-kun, you’re also too trusting. Nobody beside you thinks he’s worth a second chance. Even I don’t, and I’m his ally technically.

But seeing Ken getting beat will fill me with pure joy, because he deserves it. That’s what I really believe. His arrogance, his words, his complaints, his insults! But I’m a great person, so I will only look at his deeds. Like when he attacked the ss’rak in Heißquellen, the chasm, getting me cursed as well, the chasm, meeting Muaotef (in the chasm), when he attacked the voice of Muaotef, or went on a rampage back in the church… Considering all of this, why am I still his ally?

I guess, I’m the responsible one in this partnership.

Masahiko-kun is also a responsible one.

“Well, thinking too much about all possibilities would be a waste of time, so I suggest we speed up things a bit. Teruko, follow his tracks, see if he tried to set a trap up. Daichi, when we see him, please stay behind with Kyou and act as her bodyguard. Also, keep a close eye on her, since we don’t know, how much Katsuragi-kun can interfere with her actions. Eri, you’ll stay back as well and provide us with cover, if necessary. Katsuo and I will build the center. Any comments or questions?”

Everyone shook their heads.

 

―○●○―

 

After a while, Masahiko and the others can finally see the forest and Katsuragi-kun, who leans on a tree, waving at them.

Masahiko waves back, while speaking in a soft voice: “Does he know, that we’re coming? Those in the rear will stay back about twenty meters (about 65.6 feet) from him, the rest comes with me.”

Everyone, including Kyou, is tense. The Princess is not here. She might be held hostage, hidden somewhere. Or maybe she’s skulking in the forest. But Masahiko has confidence in his friends, so there is no reason to not openly approach him.

“Yo.”

Katsuragi-kun makes a casual greeting, even though he doesn’t even look at them. His eyes are on Kyou, who he can see over Masahiko’s shoulder.

“Good day, Katsuragi-kun.” Even Masahiko couldn’t keep the tenseness out of his words. “You knew that we’re coming?”

“…” There is no sign, that he even listened to me. “Ah, yes, yes. Thank you for rescuing her, you saved me.” Even though his words would normally include gratitude, he has the same tone as if we just picked up a book he accidentally dropped.

It’s just like always, whenever you try to converse with him, he will stare at you with disgust or acts, like you’re not even there.

Normally, Masahiko can deal with his attitude, but considering all circumstances, he’s not able to at the moment. For some reason he’s wearing his glasses again and his body shape is more like the one he had in Japan. He actually is slimmer, compared to back then, but still not in shape.

Does he have a wizard-type-class now? Maybe one, which is able to control minds?

“Inoue, what are you looking at?” Katsuragi-kun clearly shows his annoyance. This is like back in school. Somehow it’s reassuring, since this is just the usual Katsuragi-kun. But Katsuo is staring daggers at him, one hand at his bow, while Teru is clenching her spear.

Masahiko needs to be the calm one. “We need to talk.”

“Do we?”

“Yes.”

“And it’s impossible, that I can speak to Kyou-san first?”

“It’s about her.”

“Phew.” It’s his usual sound, which always comes, if he’s annoyed at someone or something. “Then be quick, I don’t have the time.” He considered his whole situation in one glance, just like a seasoned veteran.

He knows that he has no choice, but to talk it out this time. This is not the usual Katsuragi-kun. So being in another world will change everyone, after all.

“I have a few questions.”

“Then ask.”

“Are you and Kyou really comrades?”

“…” He seems to be hard-pressed by this question already. “We’re a team. For better or worse.”

“And there is no blackmail, deception or other means of coercion involved?”

Masahiko saw how Katsuragi-kun’s eyes quickly looked at his left hand. He wears gloves, but he might have a ring underneath. The same as Kyou, or a bit different: A master-ring. Masahiko doesn’t want to believe in that theory, but that doesn’t mean that he will overlook that possibility. He shoulders the safety of his friends as their leader.

“There might?”

This is honest and confusing at the same time! “What does that mean?”

“It’s private.”

“Katsuragi-kun!”

He glares at Masahiko, and shows his stubborn side. Masahiko can see him holding back any insult he would normally use. Danger is in the air.

“So, fake! Now let’s make it clear: Are you giving me Kyou-san back?” His voice is filled with malice, much more than normal.

Katsuo is drawing his bow, Teru readies her spear, and Katsuragi-kun doesn’t even flinch.

“Stop, both of you!” Masahiko wants to resolve it peacefully, if possible. “Katsuragi-kun. Watch your words. This sounds like you’re threatening us.”

“… Inoue, I’m not in the mood to play along with you. So call your dogs off, before this becomes serious.”

Calling his friends ‘his dogs’ is already too much, but Katsuragi-kun’s hand is also wandering to the knife at his belt. He’s overflowing with killing intent.

The same for Teruko and Katsuo.

This won’t end peacefully. Everyone already knew that. But that’s not what Masahiko wanted!

A single voice is intruding into this hopeless situation. “KEN, YOU IDIOT!”

Kyou calls out to Katsuragi-kun, who is certainly annoyed by her words. Ignoring Masahiko and the others, he yells: “JUST BE QUIET AND BE RESCUED! OR BETTER, JUST RUN AWAY AND WE WILL MEET UP!”

His remark causes Daichi to be even more cautious about Kyou’s intentions. He’s ready to prevent any escape-attempt, even going so far as to ready his axe.

Not that Kyou cared about that. “STOP BEING STUBBORN!”

“AND YOU STOP BEING ANNOYING!”

“JERK!”

“BITCH!”

“YOU’LL PAY FOR THIS, YOU HEAR ME!?”

“THEN COME AND MAKE ME!”

Witnessing this confuses Masahiko-kun even more. He didn’t know that Kyou could actually be able to be that rude. Or was it more like informal? Doesn’t it seem like they’re actually getting along?

“MASAHIKO-KUN, PLEASE HIT HIM FOR ME!”

“Erm…” Unsure how to deal with this situation, Masahiko tries to regain his composure.

Katsuragi-kun, on the other hand, is agitated. “Bring it on, fake!”

“I won’t hit you for that!”

“Come, you finally have a justification.”

Masahiko is about to cry, because he can’t deal with Katsuragi-kun any longer.

“Masa. If I may?” Katsuo is clearly ready to do the deed. Teruko as well.

So it still comes to this!

“Now you’re showing your true colors. All of you, ganging up on me.”

This isn’t right. Everything within Masahiko is telling him that. “No, Katsuo. I’ll-”

Suddenly, there is a sound of breaking undergrowth. And a number of monsters appeared. They have 4 spider-like legs plus a chimp-like body with gorilla arms.

Katsuragi-kun is visibly shocked. “No… why monkey-spiders?”

And behind them, there is an especially large specimen. Bitten into one of its spider-legs is a large bear trap.

“…I hate it.” Seeing that, Katsuragi-kun seems to be in dismay.

 

―○●○―

 

Why? Why? WhyWhyWhywhywhywhywhy!?

Argh, how could this happen!?

I miscalculated!

And they are monkey-spiders! They are hard enemies even without my debuffs! I hate it!

“RINE, FOLLOW ME!”

Without hesitation I run through the fakes towards Kyou-san.

Even though both other fakes, ponytail and musclebrain, are still a bit overwhelmed by the situation, they still react to me. Ponytail is chanting a spell, while musclebrain builds himself up to stop me, the axe ready to strike.

Annoying!

Rine is already beside me. She just runs that fast. “Just distract the guy for a bit.” Musclebrain will most likely overpower me, so I rely on Rine for this.

“OK.”

Trusting in my decision, Rine accelerates. She stands right before musclebrain, and before he even realized what just happened, she makes a pirouette and veers behind him. It didn’t even took a second. This is an expert move!

While musclebrain tries to grasp what just happened, I’m able to slip by him. Seems like he’s not even worth being hit by Rine. Too bad.

Ponytail is still chanting, but I don’t have time to think about why she needs so long. “I don’t stop for girls!” I believe in gender-equality. So I lariat her.

Come on, she’s a hero, this will be quite painful and cost some HP. Though seeing her coughing and wailing is very satisfying.

“Kyou, come with me!” Rine grabs Kyou-san’s wrist and pulls her along.

“Rine-chan?”

“Keep running! And pass Kyou-san to me!” The curse is still working.

“Here, Kenta!” Rine lets go of Kyou-san, who have a hard time to regain her balance.

“Don’t pass me!”

“Don’t complain!” With this, I take her hand, while still keeping running.

 

=======================================================================

The curse is dormant again.

Don’t let go of your wife! Even though stealing her back is kinda romantic.

=======================================================================

 

Shut up!

I change to [Pikeman] and cast a glance behind. Musclebrain is at ponytail’s side, fake, the dark one and the shrimp are occupied by the monkey-spiders.

Did I trigger an event? A mob swarm?

Well, if I pass them off to the fake’s party, it’s not my problem anymore.

“Ken, what are these things!”

“Monkey-spiders! They would be around my level.”

“What!?”

Kyou-san tries to slow down and let go of my hand. Hey, we’re about to retreat, you know?

“You… ‘pulled’ these monsters to us?” Hey, she’s using almost the right term! It would actually be ‘aggroed’, and it’s more or less the perfect ‘train’, since I dropped them onto fake’s group.

“It was an accident. It just worked out!”

Kyou-san is looking at me, as if I have just declared, that I only watered the flowers, while being covered all over with blood.

Then she runs into the wrong direction: Towards the monkey-spiders.

“Wait! What are you doing!?”

“I need to help them!”

“They need to retreat!”

“Kenta, what’s going on?”

“Rine, you, Kyou-san and me will retreat immediately! It’s dangerous!”

“But Kenta, Kyou is already running into the danger you’re talking about.”

This girl… The moment I look away, she’s away!

“Kyou-san, wait!”

“No! They’re in danger!”

They certainly are. Being surprised by the situation, they have already engaged the monkey-spiders. But they only needed to run away. Monkey-spiders aren’t good at running long distances. Wait, of course they won’t know that.

Monkey-spiders use short bursts of speed, which makes them seem like they’re fast. And they’re able to outmaneuver anyone, who doesn’t understand that.

And the big one seems to be especially dangerous. A boss monster?

It’s still waiting, observing everyone in fake’s party and ours’.

“Kyou-san, we can just call out to them, that monkey-spiders are bad runners and then everything will be fine.”

“How can everything be fine!? Masahiko-kun and the others are surrounded by them!”

“They still have back-up.” Namely musclebrain and ponytail.

“Eri-chan is still suffering from your attack and the monkey-spiders are closing in on them!”

Well, I might be to blame for that one.

“Kenta, let’s help them.” Rine suggests something crazy.

“Why?”

“Because Kyou wants to help them.”

“Ken. Please!” No! Don’t you dare! Stop it! You can’t!

I’m hit by a combo-attack! Both, Kyou-san and Rine, are looking at me with big-eyes, appealing to me! Even though I know, that Kyou-san is just pretending, she looks just as earnest as Rine. They know that I have no resistance to that!

… …

“…fine. I’ll do it.”

Kyou-san’s tone totally changes. “Good. Now go and do your work! Or I’ll run away and trigger the curse again!” I knew she was faking it!

“We’ll do it together!” Rine, on the other hand, is excited.

As I no longer had a real choice in the matter

Oh well. Time to get serious.

“[Speedthrust]!” In an instant, I closed in to the spider-monkeys near musclehead and ponytail stabbing one of them.

“Katsuragi!?”

Hey, musclebrain! Don’t look at me like a fish. “Kyou-san, take care of ponytail.” The spider-monkeys are wary of me, but it’s not time to wait and see. “Musclebrain, the moment we clear the way, you support your party.”

He doesn’t like me giving him orders, but I don’t have the nerve to argue with him. Since I don’t have the slightest idea of what he’s actually capable of, I can’t count on him, so I send him away. Which might match what he wants.

But there is someone, I can count on at least a little. “Let’s go, Rine.”

“OK.”

I rush into the enemy’s’ line and use [Whirlwind] to open it. Rine is covering my back, using quick slashes to those, who try to attack my flanks. Teamwork!

Using this opportunity, musclebrain runs through the opening and falls upon the monkey-spiders, which are surrounding the other three, at the rear of the fight.

Ponytail was healed in the meantime. Time to make her work. “Ponytail, if you know any mez or other forms of CC, use them!” We need to face fewer enemies.

But for now, it’s all about evading attacks, while counterattacking if possible.

“What?”

She don’t even know, what I’m talking about! Play some games, girl! “Anything which hinders them!” Can’t be picky here.

“Erm… [Earth Grasp]!”

A hand made of earth appears under one monkey-spiders and grasp its leg. That’s it. “[Speedthrust]! And now something, which will actually stop anything, useless!” I’m fighting three monkey-spiders at the same time, which isn’t recommended!

“[Gust]!”

Of course she knows this overpowered spell! With one spell, several enemies are pushed back, but that’s it. But at least she has the decency to chant the next spell.

Ah, that’s a long one. What are you thinking!? How am I supposed to buy enough time for your spell to work!?

“Kenta, do you need help?”

Rine is already finished. Around her are the disassembled corpses of at least four monkey-spiders.

“Could you take over for me?”

“OK.”

I just ignore my opponents and run toward fake and his friends. Now it’s time for the main event.

Considering everything, fake’s party isn’t that bad at fighting. They display excellent teamwork. While fake is on the offense, shrimps protects his back. Musclebrain shields the dark one from enemies, so he could use his bow, despise being surrounded.

But they still don’t get it. Just look at their pattern!

“[Whirlwind]!” I knock some of the monkey-spiders away. “Just get away from here!”

“Katsuragi-kun!” Fake actually seems to be delighted to see me. This feels wrong.

“Shut up! Just retreat and let-”

*BAM*

… … …

What just happened?

Blinking several times, I find myself on the ground. Several meters away from Inoue.

I was just hit, and I took moderate damage.

It’s the boss monkey-spider. I can’t read monkey-faces that well, but he seems to be pissed. At me especially.

How does it know, that it was my bear trap?

Well, I just need to stand up and-

*BAM*

Ouch. It hurts. I got hit again.

I thought, that I just let my guard down before, but it’s so quick, that I couldn’t keep up. Probably a monster skill.

*BAM*

Another one. It’s just chaining them up. Stop doing that!

“Kenta!”

“[Heal]! [Stamina]!”

Ah, thanks. Your concerns are warming my heart. And your healing spells are actually doing something.

Rine is still busy, evading myriad of attacks, while murdering every monkey-spider in range. But since she has to shield Kyou-san and ponytail, there is no other choice.

“[Earth Bind]!”

Ah, and ponytail finally finished her spell. Like [Earth Grasp] before, hands made of earth appears, but instead of just one, there a quite a few. And they grab the ankles of the spider-monkeys surrounding Inoue and his crew, and it’s much firmer than the one before, they’re actually struggling with it. A CC (crowd control), huh?

But it’s too bad, that it only targeted the enemies around Inoue. Because the boss mob is still free to do whatever it wants with me.

Thank you for not caring about me!

*BAM*

Ah, I should just stop thinking about anything else but the boss mob.

My body is aching, but I’m still fine.

I stand up and spit out the next words. “Kyou-san, be prepared to heal me often!”

There is only one way.

Currently, I’m neither able to see nor react to the enemy’s skill. That’s why I change into [Scout].

This will seriously cut into my defensive capabilities, but on the other hand, my [Agility] increases substantially. And I can use the [Focus]-skill.

I can see it!

I jump to the side, while the boss tries to tackle me. Ah, so a turbo-tackle, huh?

But still, close! I could practically feel the attacker’s breath!

In a fluid manner, I change back to [Pikeman] and attack. “[Speedthrust]!”

I missed. It quickly jumped to the side.

Then *BAM*, another turbo-tackle. While being knocked back, I change to [Scout] again.

So this pattern won’t work. With the time-lag between changing classes and attacking, the boss is able to brace itself, evade my attack and counter.

Another turbo-tackle, I’m able to evade it again. But each time I do that, it drains some SP due the stress. Moving in short bursts is exhausting!

“[Stamina]!”

At least Kyou-san knows what she does. Unlike me.

I only have an instant to react to its skill and even though I can evade it, I’m not confident about countering it.

Ah, I know.

I take a few steps back, increasing the distance between me and the boss. I don’t need a close-quarter-fight right now, but a turbo-tackle!

Why does it open its mouth?

*Wooosh*

Following a memory, I throw myself hastily to the side. A ball of web passes me. This bastard is trying to restrain me!

Don’t change tactics midway!

“Mez it! Or paralyze!” Mez stands for ‘mesmerizing’ and refers for effects, which renders a mob inactive. Since I have magical support with ponytail, I want to make use of it!

I may use a bomb for a similar effect, but I fear the moment I use the [Inventory] will be the moment, I get tackled.

Why am I kiting the boss in the first place? Can’t Inoue and his friends take over? Are they still struggling with the monkey-spiders, despise the CC?

“Kenta, I’m finished here. Do you need help?”

Ah, Rine. You’re a lifesaver. Already finished with the enemies I passed to you.

“Rine-chan, Eri-chan’s spell won’t hold for much longer, Masahiko-kun and the others need your help. Ken is only fighting one enemy. He can endure it for a while!”

Ah, Kyou-san. You’re a pain in the ass. Do you even know, that I’m fighting a boss monster, or even know what a boss is? … It’s certainly possible, that she wouldn’t care either way.

But I don’t have the luxury of arguing here, so I just have to hope, that you will keep up the healing.

The boss is watching me, aiming for every moment my concentration slips. Is it aware, that I want it to turbo-tackle again?

My options are quite limited, if I want to seize the moment of surprise. I should have really bought a bow, even though it depends on ammunition. That’s the only weapon-ability the [Scout]-class can learn. Now I miss the offensive option.

I haven’t made the skill sets for boss battles yet, dammit!

Here it comes!

The monkey-spider boss swings one of its muscular arms at me. I dodge it, but the next comes right afterwards. Thankfully, my [Agility] is high, so I react in time.

You suck! The pattern is easy to read!

I kinda feel like Rine right now, dancing around between multiple attacks without breaking a sweat. These normal punches aren’t that fast.

Wait, why do I see three fists?

This time, I could only narrowly escaped an attack, since suddenly a third fist appeared and took me by surprise.

… Four? No, five.

Oh shit. There are no additional fists, only optical illusions. It’s a skill!

I can’t move right or left without being hit. And staying here is no option. So backwards!

It’s following me by using a regular spider monkey speed burst and the skill is still in progress! I can’t-

I can’t see. I can only hear the sound of crushing fists and feel the pain of being hit several times. It finishes up with one heavy uppercut, which sends me flying in a big arc. I can taste my own blood. This attack is devastating.

“[Heal]!”

The pain dulls, but it’s still there. My body feels numb and powerless. And my sense of time is thrown off. I’m still mid-air despise the feeling, that some time has already passed.

“[Stamina]!”

The problem of being hit is, that it depletes your HP, since your body takes damage, and SP, because of the stress. So I need twice the number of spells to remain capable of battle…

But there is another problem. The monkey-spider boss is speed-bursting right to the point where I’ll land. It has actually overhauled me, while I’m still in flight. So unreal.

If it uses the same attack skill again, I’m done for. The spells I just got aren’t enough.

I’m dead.

“[Wind Pillow]!”

OK, this is a new one. And it’s not Kyou-san’s.

Suddenly, the air around me becomes viscous and I lose momentum, falling down at the point I was currently at.

Ponytail, you might actually be not as bad as I thought. Or you’ve realized that your survival depends on me. I may forgive you.

Ah, the boss realizes that I have stopped and is using a turbo-tackle. It will hit and kill me, even before I crash-land. Ponytail, you suck as a support. You’ve just wasted MP!

“[Protect]!”

This one is new as well, but it’s Kyou-san’s voice. There is no way that she could see, what the boss is trying to do right now. Considering my distorted sense of time, she might have cast that spell right after [Stamina].

But it works! I feel warmth around me and the impact which hit me is pillowed. A pillow about as thick as a CD box, but a pillow nonetheless. A [Defense]-buff, when did she learned that?

Finally, I feel ground again. First with my face, then my elbow somehow I overturn and my knees are next. I stop, lying on the ground like a sack of potatoes.

My vision is blurred, my head is dizzy and I’m about to vomit, but that means, I’m still alive.

Time to let everything out. “Buaaargh!” My gastric juices are spread.

It hurts. My body hurts so much!

“Kenta! Don’t die! [Heal]!”

“Keep going, Rine-chan! [Stamina]!” Kyou-san is about to mimic me, her voice is full of nausea. Maybe she’s weak against vomit.

 

=======================================================================

You gain 3 WP.

Both of your wives are by your side, while you’re at death’s doorstep, doing whatever they can to save your life.

=======================================================================

 

“Cover Katsuragi-kun!”

“Ossu!”

“Kch!”

“Fine, fine.”

So they finally managed the small fry? Calling spider-monkey at our current levels small fry might be overdoing it, but seriously, aren’t you too late!?

And why are two of you actually dissatisfied with covering me!?

My vision clears up and I can see how everyone is surrounding me. So eight versus one, huh? I like it. But there is something I like even more. Being alive.

While Kyou-san and Rine are healing me, Inoue and the others are engaging the boss.

Musclebrain already has defined muscles, but the proportions are changing. He’s changing his class. “[Turbo Tackle]!” Ah, it’s the same skill the boss uses! So it really is called [Turbo Tackle].

But seriously, musclebrain’s skill is much weaker. The base stats are just too different.

Without breaking a sweat, the boss uses [Turbo Tackle] as well and flicks musclebrain away, as if he’s just an annoyance. With a loud noise, he crashes right next to me. But he’s somewhat fine, just grunting, coughing up blood and moving stiff. Seems like he is using a class with some [Vitality].

Man, seeing him like this makes me happy. Even though he actually was willing to help me out, but I just can’t help it.

Seeing his dog pummeled like that, Inoue cries out and begins his attack. “[Wolf Fang]!” A combo-skill, both of his blades are swinging and thrusting high and low, putting some cuts into the forelegs and body of the boss.

Damn it, fake! You draw first blood!

“[Quadruple Shot]!” And the dark one is covering Inoue.

“[Speedthrust]!” And the shrimp is stealing my move! “[Perforating]!” And now she uses one, I want to know! I could really use a skill, which makes several spear thrusts in high-speed.

Oh, she got bitch slapped by the boss. Definitely not a skill, but still amusing.

“[Heal]! Kyou, Kenta’s recovering! He’s smiling from the bottom of his heart!”

“[Stamina]! No, he’s just smirking.” Kyou-san is flustered, most likely she cares about the midget.

Ah, shrimp just flinched. She’s still alive. But seriously, you’re pathetic.

Despite these failures, acting as a team is a useful tactic. Inoue’s party is able to pressure the boss enough to disrupt the boss’ rhythm and moves, but every time it could find an opportunity to fight back, it’s able to K.O. one of them.

What is ponytail doing? Another long incantation? “[Slow]!” Ah, it just ended. The boss’ movements just slowed down immensely. Now even Inoue’s party should be able to deal with its attacks now.

Why didn’t you cast [Slow], when I was fighting the boss?

Ponytail walks to musclebrain and after a moment, she casts another spell. “[Heal]!” Ah, she did take up a class with [Divine Magic], maybe [Priest]?

Kyou-san is annoyed. No, actually she’s furious. “You’re ready to go, right!?” Snarling at me, she hits my stomach. Glaring a short death stare at ponytail, she walks over to shrimp.

“Kenta, what shall we do?” Rine is unsure if she should support Kyou-san or Inoue’s party.

“We observe. It must have an ace up to it’s sleeve.”

The boss shoots a white ball from its mouth and it hits the dark one, who is knocked down and covered in a web. So that is what happens if you’re hit by it. This attack is not slowed down. Since it’s a projectile? Well, not that it’s likely that either Rine or I will be hit by an attack as slow as that.

While the dark one is struggling to escape the web, Inoue has to fight it without any coverage. And now he’s targeted by the flurry of blows, which almost ended me.

This skill is actually affected by [Slow], so my guess seems to be right. Not that it helps Inoue much. He is flying away in a big arc, but the boss doesn’t care about him, he’s not even worth chasing.

On the other hand, my eyes couldn’t stop following Inoue.

“Kenta! We need to help.” Rine is getting more impatient.

“No, they’re fine. We need to get as much information as possible, before we engage it.”

“You’re smiling… sorry, you trust them so much and I…”

“Don’t worry about it.” I’m just enjoying the show, while considering my actions. The real question remains: Will it attack us or one of the others? “Be sure to cover Kyou-san if necessary. She’s still frail.” And I need her.

“OK.”

Ah, the monkey-spider boss running towards Kyou-san and shrimp. Only an instant later, Rine runs in their direction as well. The boss and her have made eye-contact.

The boss changes targets. With [Turbo Tackle], sprinting towards ponytail, who was healing up musclebrain. She is hit in the back. Come on, it’s slow compared to before!

Ponytail is pushed back and doesn’t stand up. Useless!

“Eri-san!” Musclebrain, only barely back on his feet, charges at the boss, but is hit by a web ball, before he could even touch it. He’s now unconscious and restrained.

I drop down and use [Camouflage].

The boss is looking for the next target and seems to be unsure, if it really wants to engage Rine and the ones she is  protecting. It must have felt the presence of a fellow monster.

So the question is: If I’m hidden, who is left? The dark one, who cut himself free from the web with a dagger and is now raising his bow. Before he could even shoot, he’s already [Turbo Tackle]d. Another one down, huh?

Ah, Inoue is back up and charging the boss. Stupid, everyone of them. Especially him, since he didn’t get any healing so far. He might actually die. His problem, I presume.

“Ken, you bastard! Stop hiding and start helping!”

Kyou-san, I just want them to feel how it is, to fight the boss. But instead of saying that, I sigh. “Phew.” And stand up. “Kyou-san, look at these jerks. Save those who are about to die, but don’t go overboard. They’ll only be in the way, even if they try their best. Shrimp, if you’re awake, cover her. Rine, you and I will charge in now.”

“Geez!”

“OK!”

Both of them have very different moods, Kyou-san is angrily annoyed, but I don’t think that anyone has died yet, so she should just calm down. Rine is determined.

I change into [Pikeman]. Let’s get serious. “[Speedthrust]!” My spear pierces right into the back of the boss, who cries out of pain. That happens, if you turn your back on me!

“Katsuragi-kun, let’s do it together. [Wolf Fang]!” Inoue seize the distraction for his own attack.

And Rine is swinging her blade right into the left hind leg. No chopping? Ah, we’re ganging up on a single enemy, so the amount of danger is actually not great enough for Rine’s usual performance. Or maybe the boss is too tough.

But hey, she got at least halfway through!

Limping shrimp, Kyou-san doing emergency treatment, the half-dead Inoue, Rine and I against the monkey-spider boss. So basically four and a half versus one. Three of them are Rine.

Instead of using skills, I attack normally, aiming at some sweet spots. It’s more important to disrupt the enemy’s movement, while Rine can deal the damage. And there is Inoue, who at least participates.

But the boss’ movements are becoming swifter.

Inoue knows what this means. “Careful, Eri’s spell is about to end.”

I want to facepalm. So it will move fast again, huh? At least Rine already dealt some damage to the legs, so…

Well, wounded legs won’t slow down its jabs, like Inoue has to notice. He’s staggering, but remains conscious. What’s up with this guy?

Hey, why is the boss suddenly turning to me? *BAM, BAM, BAM* With some [Turbo Tackle]s I’m isolated. Why is it after me? What did I do!?

Rine catches up. The leg-injuries are slowing the boss down, making it hard for it to outrun her. “Don’t forget about me!” With a swift thrust, she pierces the boss in the back, the point of her sword is emerging from its side.

With a roar, it uses the flurry of blows, Rine is able to dodge the first few ones, but even she can’t keep up with the increasing speed and is blown away. So this is the difference between [Skill] and normal movements.

But I already disengaged and changed to [Scout]. I check Rine’s status and it’s bad. She won’t survive a second hit, that glass-canon!

Wait, what’s that? A hand. A large gorilla-hand just landed a few meters away. Did she chop it off, while being hit by that thing? Well, the danger level was quite high, there.

The boss is looking where its hand used to be with disbelief. A fountain of blood spurts from the stump and the pain surely followed. “*GRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOON!!!*” The sweet, sweet sound of a suffering boss.

“Heh!” With a satisfied smile on her face, Rine stands up and brushes off the dirt on her armor. She looks like an anime-main-character. “I’ll get the other one next!” Without even considering failure or death, she’s about to charge in again.

There is only one choice left for the boss. It may be anti-climatic, but it’s the only intelligent option it could perform: It runs away.

It’s not as fast as it used to be, but still fast enough to escape the half-beaten us.

But I want to get the kill and the XP! Even though chasing it might be too dangerous, who knows when we’ll catch up and what kind of monsters we will encounter?

I look around, hoping to find something which will combine safety with XP. And there I found it. A bow. It’s the dark one’s. He dropped it, when he took his beating.

It’s not mine, can I really use the weapon of another person, of someone who helped me, when I was about to die?

Luckily there is a way. “Yoink!” With one word alone, ownership of the bow is transferred to me. “Yoink!” I pick up an arrow from his quiver. Then I change to [Scout] and take aim. “Phew, it’s hard to draw.” I didn’t know that you need so much power to draw a bow.

Stupid reality!

Is that enough? Only one way to find out.

I let the arrow fly.

And it hit. Sadly not the boss, but Inoue, who is falling down, eyes as wide open as mine. Oops.

The arrow totally didn’t fly like I had aimed it!

““MASA!”” Shrimp and ponytail, who just regained conscious, are rushing to him and ponytail cast one healing spell after another.

“…ugh…” Since he’s whimpering, he must be alive. Good.

“Yoink!” With another use of the magical word, I take the dark one’s quiver from him and put it into my backpack. “Rine, take Kyou-san and follow me!”

Both girls are as shocked as everyone else, but Rine is following my orders without even the need to think. Good girl!

I just want to get away from here!

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