Chapter 4 – Rise, Hero
The last day of Muaotef’s deadline and the duel between me and the patriarch of the Ss’rak. If I win, I will live and then I will get the water of the Heißquellen-shrine, return to Esse and get rid of the cursed ring. If I lose, then I’m dead, but I would be dead either way, when I disappoint Muaotef. So nothing changes.
Even though I can’t be sure that the dragon won’t kill me regardless after I slay the patriarch. But this is my only chance.
This time, I will not hesitate to take someone’s life. Even though this thought is supposed to make me feel sick. Ugh, when I close my eyes, I can still see the one, Kyou-san killed. Maybe this picture is much more present, than my own murders, since it was that brutally gruesome.
Kyou-san seems to be fine with it, but maybe she’s tormented on the inside. Not that I should bother myself with her worries, I have enough to deal with myself.
For now, it would be the coming duel. But I have several advantages.
I’ll have my backpack, which gives me access to a variety of consumables and my weapons, so my equipment overall should be superior. My battle-senses are sharpened due the time in the chasm, while my opponent doesn’t seem to fight that much anymore. And finally, I’ve the power of heroes, so I’m especially powerful for a human due the class-system.
My opponent on the other hand might be from a physically superior race, which has scales as armor and claws plus a tail as weapons, but in the end, it’s still an old lizard. His experience might be a bother, but in the end I should win the fight, as long as the fighting ground won’t be too disadvantageous.
So it comes down to the arena, but since the patriarch chose his great sword, this is most likely no climbing challenge. Maybe just a simple platform like in the coliseum.
I’m ready to go. I change to [Pikeman].
Kyou-san and I already collected all the WP we could, but we’re still short a few to get one of the cheap bonuses. I would like to enlarge the area of the attribute-bonuses we gain by being near each other, but it would still be only 5 meters with the cheapest one.
We both are brought to the arena ring and the yelling and cheering crowd of Ss’raks is welcoming us. I was stripped to my underwear beforehand. The arena itself is just a simple platform, so everyone can watch the fight from the stands.
Kyou-san is being sent to the sidelines. I could walk up to her in battle, if I want to, even though none of us is supposed to cross the line, which is drawn there. On the other end of the battle area is a Ss’rak, probably the wife of the patriarch.
The patriarch himself is kneeing at the inner circle which is drawn in the middle of the ring and in the center of the circle stands the matriarch. I join them and knee down across the patriarch.
Then the ceremony begins.
The matriarch is speaking in a loud clear voice in the strange pronunciation the Ss’rak share, but I was focused on the patriarch, who seems to be as tensed as I.
This is good.
I try to imagine myself killing him, to prepare myself to do the deed. I’m still mostly calm, just a bit of excitement is building up. But my mind remains clear.
The matriarch finishes her speech and gives each of us an item: The patriarch gets his black sword and I the backpack.
I push myself back with my arms to jump back and on my feet and see, how the patriarch is slowly getting up. I should better end it quickly! I just have to open my backpack, take out my spear and use [Speedthrust] once or twice to dominate this duel early on.
So I open my backpack and… it’s an empty backpack. No inventory-screen is seen. What’s going on? I equip the backpack with a bad feeling and check its status.
Description: This is a backpack of a hero, a gift from the gods which allows the heroes to gain access to a pocket dimension, known as [Inventory], to store and retrieve large amounts of items. Each such backpack is aligned to one specific hero.
Status: Gain the [Inventory]-skill; Momokawa Kyou only
Value: 0 Newgold
“This is the wrong one!!!”
“Of course, kekeke.” The patriarch is standing and lifts his sword sluggishly, while hissing his words, which were nearly swallowed by the roaring crowd. “Because I switched them. For a hero to use the inventory for this kind of duel is shameless. So duel with a backpack, like you wanted to.”
Shit! I hate it! Die in a drain, old fart!
So the patriarch has some insight of heroes and I’m practically unarmed now. But at least he can’t use the sword that well with his old body, so I just need to keep myself mobile and try to think of another action.
The patriarch lifts his left hand. “[Flaming Sphere]!”
A ball of fire is flying towards me, I panicky dodged that one barely. So he’s a mage? I see, the sword is to catch me off guard, it’s a strategy. Or maybe he learned some spells, after being to old to wield his weapon efficiently.
But his spell doesn’t seem to be that powerful. Do normal people have MP? Can I let him use up all of them and then attack?
No, I have to be quick. I change class to [Scout] to get the most of my mobility. I sprint towards the patriarch.
“Fool.” He swings his sword, but I was easily able to dodge it and get into point-blank distance. I will smack him for good!
Suddenly, a was thrown back and my ears are ringing. What was that? Ah, of course, it’s like that roar of the bear. I didn’t know that Ss’rak can use that, too.
I can barely stand, since my sense of balance is off, but I will be able to dodge another of these [Flaming Spheres]. I lock my eyes on the patriarch, as a [Scout] I have the [Focus]-skill, which will make it much easier to dodge projectiles, magical or not.
But instead of using fire magic, the patriarch becomes… bulky. Each of his limbs grows twice as large and the torso seems to be ready to explode of power. This is like a certain perverted hermit in a well-known manga.
The patriarch rises his sword and a whirlwind begins to surround him, the air pressure pushes me back again. This time, I got some cuts on my body.
Can it be, that I’m actually at a huge disadvantage?
The patriarch uses fire, roaring, whirlwinds and have grown muscles. Even before I ended flying, the patriarch is already dashing towards to me in an amazingly speed, ready to strike. I don’t have time to think of anything or react!
… wait! [Distraction]!
One second is enough to throw his aiming off, the sword missed me by a hair width and I could feel the cold black metal rubbing my skin. Who called this skill useless, huh!?
The impact of my landing let me roll over the floor and I feel slightly dizzy. This was close and I don’t know, if I can rescue myself next time.
This isn’t good.
My name is Momokawa Kyou.
I stand at the sideline of an arena and watching a duel, which determines my future. But the one I have to entrust this future to is losing. Badly.
His name is Katsuragi Kenta and I despised him once, since he is a disgusting, corpulent boy who looks constantly down on others, even though he has no reason to.
But after coming to this world, everything changed. Suddenly, we had to take on an unreasonable request or we won’t be able to return later. Ken disappeared after a few days. We only realized it after we wanted to form permanent parties, and the numbers didn’t add up. But nobody really cared for him. He has no friends in class or school. Or at all, I think.
I started my party with Masahiko-kun and the others. We decided, that each of us should specialize in one aspect, since it makes sense to be the best in what you do. I wanted to be the supporter, since then nobody would force me to be too active on the battlefield.
We found out, that you can learn classes, if you’re with someone who actually do the profession. So I started at the church, the priests there uses herbs and magic to heal the needy. And I got access to the [Healer]-class and chose it without hesitation.
My first mistake, the [Healer]-class is only using herbs. No magic.
Then I learned the [Priest]-class and was able to use magic. This was great, I could magically close any wound, even though the effect differs between hero and non-hero. Heroes are able to fight again, as long as their HP and SP are replenished, a non-hero will recover faster, but it’s not like you can simply rejoin an ongoing battle.
Finally, I was able to do the role I imagined, but then Masahiko-kun had the idea, that each of us should bring skills, which would be useful while camping. So I learned the [Cook]-class, my second mistake.
All of my class-slots were used up and I didn’t have any offensive potential left. None of my classes grants me a significant [Strength]-boost and I don’t have any offensive spells. And in this world you have to kill, to become stronger. And I did realized it too late.
Even though I was able to kill a monster sometimes, Masahiko-kun and the others grew impatient. We fought and when the heroes were about to go to the border to level up faster, I was left behind. I was angry. Angry at Masahiko-kun and the others, since they left me, even though they actually cared for my well-being. And angry at myself, since I didn’t thought it through, before I used up all my class-slots.
I had the option to go to the teachers and become part of the non-combat group, but I hated that idea. I wanted to show everyone, what I’m capable of. I’m the class-president after all and I wanted to be with my friends and instead of the shame, I felt at that time. So I hunted monsters every day.
But it was difficult to do it alone, even though I could heal myself, the groups of monsters were too large or too strong, so I practically walked around all day with one or two kills per day. And the anger became despair.
I had to help the church a few times to earn my life-expenses. A useless hero like me would be a burden, otherwise. I felt like a part-time worker who had trouble to make ends meet, even though I had some money, my whole lifestyle was hanging on a thread.
After the chancellor told me, that they won’t support me much longer, if I don’t get results, I was outraged. And scared. Even though I could still sleep in the temple, I would have to pay for food and other life-expenses. Even though I saved money, it wouldn’t be enough in the long run, if I continue to hunt monsters like before.
And then Ken returned. He was the same boy as before, but while I couldn’t adapt to this world, he easily did so. Although it wasn’t kind to him, too. He was cursed and needed help and suggested a team-up, so we could aid one another. The despair and frustration I until now, were the reasons I consented to his proposal. My fourth mistake.
Although it started out fine, in the end he put me through danger after danger and his own curse got even struck on me. But somehow I gave in to all of this. Maybe because I’m so sick of everything, that I don’t even care anymore.
I still dislike Ken, he’s also not fond of me. But somehow it’s better than back in school. Maybe because he has grown. Not physically, even though his body changes when he switch between classes, but I think he somehow got a bit more doable.
This partnership of convenience isn’t so bad in the end. Even though it brings trouble. I even had to kill someone, but seeing him die would be worse. Rather killing a stranger than losing someone you care about.
Strange, maybe there is more to it than I thought. Maybe there is something like a feeling of actual partnership in this. Only a little.
That must be the reason, why I’m so unnerved at the moment. Because I see him getting his ass handed to him, again, and know that this will inevitably lead to his death. And there is nothing I could do at the moment.
Even Ken seems to be out of ideas, he barely dodged this last attack by using his strange [Distraction]-skill. Why don’t he use the backpack? Is it broken?
Wait, isn’t it mine? That embroidery on the front side was made by Teru-chan! But he definitely handed over his own backpack, so… someone replaced them! Was it the patriarch or the matriarch? I was about to object, but the rules… Cheating is allowed, as long the item makes it into the fight. We wanted to use that to our advantage and now the shoe is on the other foot.
Ken, you idiot, should have realized it sooner!
I check his status menu, his HP are at 62%, his SP at 48%. [Distraction] costs some SP, but I guess the strain consumes a lot more. Every evasive movement is using up his SP and he makes some desperate ones.
Should I cast magic? No, at least the patriarch knows magic and it will be noticed if the wounds disappeared on Ken’s half-naked body without him doing something. I can’t cheat that way, without getting both of us killed.
The patriarch changes his bulky body-form back to the skinny one again and attacked with magic from a distance, but this time he doesn’t aim for Ken himself, but the surrounding.
“[Fire Pillar], [Fire Pillar], [Fire Pillar]!”
Each shot makes a fire pillar, which emanates fire and heat to the surrounding. Ken’s SP begin to drop continually, it’s the same as the chasm.
Wait… he only uses magic, when he have the skinny form… might he be… No, it must be!
“KEN!” I don’t like to shout, but since the spectators are too loud with their cheering and booing, I had to: “HE HAS TO BE A HERO!”
Ken looks shocked, but he turns his head to the patriarch and I saw the patriarch moving his lizard-lips. And I knew, what he said: “She is right.”
This is not good. I didn’t even know that there are non-human heroes. Is he from another world, too?
But there is no moment of rest for Ken, since the patriarch changes class again and becomes a warrior, who attacks with his greatsword. Since the patriarch is a hero himself, he surely knows how to defeat one.
There is barely a chance to win this fight. I look over the status menu of Ken over and over again, but there is nothing, that would help for long.
Ken’s SP are falling quickly. Is that what the patriarch wants? To tire Ken out and then kill him afterwards?
And I realized, that there are two things which might increase the chances. One would be the attribute-bonuses we get, if we’re next to each other. “KEN, COME HERE!” And the other would be… This is within the rules, but I hate Ken for the fact, that I’m going to do that!
But my own life depends on it, too.
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