Chapter 4-2

Unedited

I don’t know why Kyou-san wants me to come to her, but appearantly I need to relocate the whole duel to do so. Well, it’s simpler than it sounds, I just have to decide in which direction I’m pushed around.

Or I’m simply punched in that direction, while coughing blood, seeing red and being unable to stand up, like right now. The punch hit my face directly, just after the patriarch changed into his warrior-class. Somehow I get the feeling of karma.

But at least I’m closer to my target destination. I crawl the rest of the distance quickly and now, in front of Kyou-san, the pain eases. Ah, the attribute-bonuses. My increased [Vitality] make it easier to ignore the damage. I also change class to [Pikeman] to enhance my [Vitality] even further, since moving around is not possible in that state.

With shaky movements I stand up and face the patriarch, who approaches slowly and carefully. Maybe he thinks, something is off. He’s careful, since Kyou-san called out for me, but there is no real need. I just got a minor buff. And it only lasts, as long as I’m withing 1 meter of Kyou-san.

“No Ken, face me, you idiot!”

“Who are you calling a- hrmph!!!”

I turn my head and was silenced. In a manner, I never would have thought possible.

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You gain 50 WP!!!

Who would have thought, that none of you ever kissed before, it’s romantic, it’s unthinkable! I never considered this, so I just made up this entry and since it will never come again, don’t even try to exploit it! But you can still get 1 WP a day by kissing each other or 5 WP by kissing only once per week, which is a bit more romantic, but less effective than confirm each other feelings each day.

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A girl’s lips are… warm and soft. And moist and is it me, or are they a bit blistered? Maybe due our time in the chasm… Wait, what am I thinking about?!

And why are all Ss’rak cheering loud enough to make me deaf? Are they thinking, this is a cheap soap opera? It’s not like any of us have feelings for each other. On the other hand it’s my first kiss, so having it with someone I don’t care about, is a bit disappointing.

Wait… the pop-up said, none of us have kissed before, so… Kyou-san never kissed before, too!? But she… but she… she’s a bitch! Or is she not?!

Without hesitation Kyou-san separates from me and wiped of her lips with one of her blood-soiled sleeves, while mumbling “I was about to get the 5 WP, but…”

This is much better! I mean, the WP, not getting her first kiss, which is kinda disturbing, actually.

But with 50 more WP, we could… “[Shared Inventory]!” I won’t be able to actually buy that, since I’m in the middle of a duel and not able to operate the status screen…

Wait. Why is the patriarch waiting patiently with a cheesy grin on his face? Why didn’t he cut me in two pieces while I was still being kissed by Kyou-san? And why is he smirking? Is he enjoying this kind of soap opera as well? Damn it! I’ll show him!

I open up the status menu, select the WP-store and buy the [Shared Inventory]. I confirm the message and it says, I have to wait for my spouse to confirm, too.

Kyou-san confirms and I try to take out something from the backpack. The [Inventory]-menu appears and I see all the items I had in my backpack before plus the ones which obviously belongs to Kyou-san’s. I retrieve a potion and my spear.

Finally, I have my weapon back. With this, the chasm wouldn’t have been as unnerving, since managing single-use-weapons sucks!

Retrieving items from the backpack leaves most Ss’rak shocked, but I gulped down the SP-potion, right before the patriarch slashes at me. “How could you do this! This is impossible, human!” His confidence waned the moment I could use my equipment and rage is distorting his lizard-features. As far as I can see, he’s losing his temper, since I foiled his plan.

I block his attack with my spear, but I already feel how it is about to break: “Spouses share everything, no?” That’s for smirking at me for being kissed! “Fall back, Kyou-san! [Whirlwind]!”

This skill is actually a melee AoE, but can knock back single enemies as easily as multiple ones. While the patriarch is still out of balance, I will take that chance to damage him. “[Speedthrust]!”

But my skill is blocked: “[Iron Defense]!” The tip of my spear is hitting him and the sound of metal on metal rings through the area, the force of the impact almost let me go of my weapon. He uses his shoulder to push me back, he’s got obviously more [Strength] than I do.

I used a HP-potion, the matriarch is still not saying anything about me using items. So since it’s in-battle and Kyou-san didn’t cheat in an obvious way, it’s still legit. I was concerned because a kiss is obvious, but well, it’s not like this and me pulling items from my backpack is obviously related.

Now finally the real fight can begin! And I’m still at a disadvantage, since the patriarch’s level is probably higher than mine.

This was already clear as day, seeing how old he is. He might even lost some of his [Attribute]-values, since he’s grown old. But even though his magic wasn’t that impressive so far, his skills as a warrior are way above mine.

He could probably kill me with one skill, if I let my guard down. From now on, it might be better to draw everything out. I still have some consumables, so I’ll hopefully outlast him. Let’s think about it as a boss fight in a raid, they’re simply too hard to defeat without brains, endurance and resource-management.

Yes, if I change my mindset like that, my situation isn’t that bad at all.

Both of us are eyeing each other. He probably waits for an opportunity, while I just try to figure out a plan. With my [Inventory], I have multiple possible strategies and my aim is to deplete the patriarch’s SP, like he did with mine.

Battle of attrition, I must pressure him, while avoiding his lethal strikes.

My hand wanders to the backpack, but before I could grab an item, the patriarch is already rushing at me again, his heavy blade comes in an wide arc: “[Full Moon]!”

Before his attack, I already stepped back, but I’m still cut! And not just once, several minor cuts are all over my body. And even the floor. Damn it, skill!

I’m bleeding in my half-naked state and before anything else, I grab a HP-pot and drink it. I regain my HP, the cuts on my body closes, but I still lost some blood, my MaxSP are reduced as a result.

So this is his aim. He knows exactly, how the hero-system works, so he can exploit its weak spots.

But with the potion, I got another item. I throw my smoke bomb.

Smoke fills the arena and I change to [Scout]. My senses are enhanced, so I got the edge here and with my [Sneak]-skill, I’m able to move nearly soundless. Time to bring out some other items.

Or so I thought. “[Gust]!” The smoke disperse and a skinny patriarch smiles at me.

I hate heroes.

This time I try my stink bombs. I retrieved them, thinking that it would be great to land a bullseye point blank, while being hidden in the smoke, but now it’s just the item I have on hand.

I throw two of these little spheres, but the patriarch is just smiling liplessly. “[Gust].”

The bombs are deflected, right in my direction. The stench tears my eyes, but since it isn’t a direct hit, it doesn’t do much to me. Except burning some SP, which I better recover, when I have the time.

This is a misfit. If I try to be crafty, he’s using his magic to counter me. If I try to be brave, he’s overpowering me with his warrior-skills.

But as long as I remain distant and use tricks, the patriarch will stay in his magic-using-class, which isn’t his strong suit. I hope I have enough combat-items. My quantity of bombs isn’t that great, since I try to not rely on them. They’re expensive!

While I’m considering my options, the patriarch doesn’t hesitate. “[Flaming Sphere]!” As a scout, it’s easy to dodge with my [Focus] on the patriarch. “[Fire Pillar]! [Fire Pillar]!” Ah, he’s using that spell again.

It creates a pillar of fire, which burns for around 30 seconds. They’re obstructing my path, being near them is bad for my SP, since they’re hot, and touching them will definitely hurt me. But he’s just trying to starve my SP again, this is no problem, if I… “[Ember Arrows]!”

I could foresee the effect of this spell with [Focus], every movement made it clear. It’s a barrage of small fire projectiles, which covers an area densely. But the area itself isn’t that big, so… Shit!

The [Fire Pillars]! They’re blocking my escape!

I try to evade the [Ember Arrows] as good as possible, without [Focus] I would surely get more than three clean hits and several graces, but this attack series isn’t over. The patriarch changes class and rushes with the sword at me: “[Quicksword]!”

Without the [Scout]’s agility and [Distraction], I would have been stabbed. So I just got a nasty cut at my side, while the patriarch regains his stance, I drink another HP-pot. My HP-bar was almost gone for a moment!

Is this the difference actual fighting experience!? Hunting monsters isn’t anything like that! I should have the upper edge with my [Inventory], but I feel helpless. I’m getting more damage than I can recover in time!

As a [Scout] I can’t directly fight back efficiently, but then I miss out [Distraction], which might only to be able to divert the attention enough to throw off his aiming a bit, but is still vital for my survival.

I throw another smoke bomb, mixed with a stench bomb. It won’t last long, but I need any moment I can get. There has to be something I can do. I look at the spear in my hand, which is currently doing nothing and change back to [Pikeman].

The patriarch is about to use another [Gust], I’m sure. So I just have to [Speedthrust] him, while he cast the spell.

And here it comes: “[Gu-]”

“[Speedthrust]!”

“[-st]!” Damn it, it’s aimed for me!

So [Gust] is strong enough to knock me back, while I use my skill. Even though the fog is only blown away on my pathway, this is another failed strategy.

Smoke bombs just buys time.

Stink bombs are useless.

Fire bombs are only damaging at hit and [Gust] would also be able to deflect it. That spell is annoying! So bombs in general aren’t that effective.

I still have a stash of recovery potions, so if I can survive long enough, I should be able to win, like my original strategy proposed. But I don’t know how many tricks are up to that lizard’s sleeve. This is risky and there is no room for mistakes.

And as I have to buy time and am in constant need to recover my HP, my SP are in danger. What should I do? And why is Kyou-san not cheating!?

OK, she’s probably looking for a way, but doesn’s see one. She’s trapped in city full of Ss’rak, so she won’t make any move, that might turn the whole city against her.

I got an idea!

Jumping into the remaining smoke cloud, I change to [Scout]-class again.

The patriarch uses another [Gust] to blow my cover away, but I already activated [Camouflage]. But with only a slight delay, the patriarch changes again for some serious sword action. “[Quicksword]!”

Since I used [Camouflage] in the smoke, my whole body is now in a smokey blaze of colors. After the smoke dispersed, it was obvious were I stand. A fatal mistake, you might think.

But as the patriarch is rushing at me with unprecedented speed, he stumbles right in front of me and falls over, I change to [Pikeman] and used a new item: The make-shift spear, made of a broomstick and a Ss’rak knife and “[Speedthrust]!” stabbed him.

I had another skill all along. [Set Trap], which allows me to quickly put up a trap I have and enhances its effects. Like that foothold trap, used to hunt larger prey. Suitable for Ss’rak, too. With this skill, I was able to set it up within two seconds, but it wasn’t hidden. So I used [Camouflage] while holding the trap, so it becomes smoky, too and laid it in front of me.

As he was recognizing me, he just oversaw the trap, which had the same pattern. He was too keen on taking advantage of my ‘mistake’, that he didn’t take a good look beforehand. And now I stabbed the make-shift spear in his side, which does a lot of damage on an unmoving target. The impact of the fall due his own skill’s momentum rendered him still for a short while, fulfilling that requirement.

This is a clean hit!

But my skill is too strong for that self-made weapon. The broomstick broke into two halfs, the knife still in the patriarch’s side. At least I still have my real spear and without mercy, I stabbed at the lying Ss’rak repeatedly.

Finally, the patriarch got the first blood. But after my third stab, he used [Iron Defense] again and his scales became as hard as metal, like a real armor, so further damage lessened. He stands up again and for me it’s time to retreat for now.

Before he can escape from the trap, I should be able to drink potions and recover my HP and SP. Or so I thought.

Instead, the patriarch didn’t even tried to escape, he rather changed class again and hurls one [Flaming Sphere] after another at me. I can dodge them, but it’s hard to drink a potion meanwhile.

…Cooldown. One of his skills can’t be used repeatedly, so he tries to overcome this time frame with offense. Some KIs of bosses are like that. That’s what my guts are telling me, my gamer instinct. And only one skill seems to fit the bill: [Iron Defense].

It’s most likely a defense buff, which is strong, but short-lasting plus a long cooldown. This would be the reason why he didn’t rely on it much and explain his whole combat tactics.

“Phew…” I exhale, I need to be brave now. This is no game, but now the next attack have to count. I only have one [Spear]-skill, which could land a killing blow, [Speedthrust]. But to use it, I need some space to build up momentum. And the movement has to be a straight line.

I will be hit. I will lose HP. And I will feel pain. I could even die. This is not a game.

But I’m a coward. Deep inside I’m afraid to continue the battle for much longer. Even though it’s scary to put everything in a final assault, it’ll be over soon. It’s more frightening to imagine to fight on, hanging on a glance of hope.

I’m really doing it.

I’m an idiot.

I take aim. “[Speedthrust]!”

“[Fire Pillar]!” Guessing my move by my stance right before, the patriarch is using his [Fire Pillar] to cut off my path. I have still the time to cancel my skill.

But I proceed.

Fires are burning my half-naked body, it really hurts all over and my HP are dropping at a dangerous speed, but I already know what I wanted to hit: The Ss’rak knife in the body of the patriarch.

The spears tip stabbed into the rest of the broomstick and with a unsavory sound, the knife pierces through the body of the patriarch. There is a hole in his side! He coughs blood, while I feel dizzy, since I took a large amount of damage.

I take my spear in both hands and, using the blunt side, knock the patriarch down. With a fluent movement, I stab him again. And again. My emotions are in a swirl of pain, anger and panic. Just stay down! This is the only thought I’m currently capable of.

I’m exhausted. I stabbed him numerous times by now. He have to be dead.

But he isn’t. He’s wounded all over his aged body, but he turns around, so he can lie on his back. He’s not much more than a bloody mess.

He’s not looking at me. He’s looking at his wife, saying farewell with just a glance.

Then he closes his eyes, accepting his death. And I’m the one who have to do it. “Sorry…” It’s the only way. I truly believe it.

“Don’t be.”

A final stab through the heart. My hands are trembling and I feel a strange sense of guilt and relief at the same time. I can practically feel how the life before me is extinguished.

I think I can kill people now. That’s what I truly believe.

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