Chapter 4-1

Chapter 4 – How to fix relationship problems

Proofreaders: Dreen, Rooker

A few days went by. Some little things changed, like the relationship between Kyou-san and Ara-san. Both of them are hanging out together, sometimes Ara-san calls for Kyou-san for the daily interview instead of me.

When she does so, I learn letters with Rine.

“That’s a *Guyu*, like in wood.”

Could you please tell me, how that strange sound is in the word ‘wood’? I get now, why Ara-san is annoyed when we talk about language, since it gives me a headache to form a connection between things which can’t be connected for me.

I’m currently in the [Student]-class, relying on [Fast Learner] to get this down, but I have to learn every letter by itself without having a logical consistency to anything Rine teaches me.

But when I read a word, its meaning just springs into my mind, so at least this works out fine. But writing… not so much. I can write words that I know the letters for, but only if I blank my mind and don’t concentrate on what I’m writing, and that’s quite difficult.

The moment I think ‘I want to write ‘fish”, is the moment it becomes 魚. I spent years of effort to learn kanji and now it’s all backfiring on me. So now years of schooling is not only useless but harmful if you ever find yourself transported into a fantasy world.

So better remember: Don’t get yourself transported into a fantasy world. It sucks in general.

Things that didn’t change so far: Ara-san is still in charge of us, the relic which allows deselecting a class is still in the village we can’t visit yet, and we’re still along way from undoing the curse.  Kyou-san and Rine are still gathering basic knowledge about curses so they can figure out the hard stuff.

Another thing that didn’t change: Our levels. We got some AP, these are for raising the rank of [Abilities] and are always increasing by using skills and what the [Ability] stands for, my rank in [Perception] is quite high because I can’t stop looking around.

They’re less fancy than XP, but important as well. Mostly because they somehow relate to skills.

But while the AP are doing well enough, we’re clearly missing XP from killing mobs and this standstill is frustrating. But the moment we go out of the forest to hunt, the alfar might never let us in again.

For security reasons.

Even though Ara-san is kinda important here, she’s only one single alfr with little political means. She may be favored, but she clearly isn’t in charge of anything besides her home. So she can’t decide anything regarding this. She can only ask for us.

That’s the reason why she can spend her evenings talking with Kyou-san or have discussions with me about the hero-system during the day. For some reason she asked me about my opinion about some details and my own theories.

Ara-san, as the hero-sage, has a lot of thoughts about the power of the heroes. But she’s still lacking numbers and experimental data to prove them. For example, she’s sure that [Attributes] are not only level-dependent, but also base-dependent. So someone, who was athletic before becoming a hero, should have higher stats with the same class at the same level as someone who didn’t practice a single day. A human would have different stats than an alfr with the same class and level since their base bodies are different.

Hearing and contributing to all these ideas is fun in a way. Reminds me of times, when I discuss per voice chat builds and strategies for MMORPGs.

And today we’re conducting an experiment. Combat data. This means Ara-san and I will fight in a sparring match.

―○●○―

It’s noon and Ara-san, Kyou-san, Rine and I are in a clearing. There is someone else here too: Jazzman! He checked in on us on a daily basis, and every time he glares at me as if I’ve committed a capital crime.

The spectators are surrounding Ara-san and me. She changed into her [Acrobat]-class, I’ll be in [Pikeman]. Every skill is allowed within our classes, but no [Class-Change], that would make the data unreliable. We want to get more of an idea how the difference in [Attributes] will work.

Ara-san’s best class for melee combat, [Acrobat], has high stats in [Dexterity], [Agility] and [Luck], moderate ones in [Strength] and [Persuasion], and is weak in [Vitality] and [Intelligence].

My [Pikeman] is focused on [Strength] and [Vitality], moderate in [Dexterity], [Agility] and [Luck] and weak in [Persuasion] and [Intelligence].

So she’s a quick fighter and I’m a basic one, stat-wise.

Her level is above mine, but not by that much. So number-wise, we should be almost matched, so we can actually try, how this difference in builds and therefore [Attributes] will actually influence the battle. She already has some data from other matches between other heroes, but the more, the better.

Comparison

Comparison

Ara-san is still in her dress, it’s similar tailored as a Chinese Cheongsam and is able to keep up with her excessive [Acrobat]-movements. She also wields a strange pole, which is made of three branches which are intertwined. One end is thick and heavy, just like a club, the other has twigs and leafs.

“On my mark.” Rine is the referee. “Begin!”

Without a moment of hesitation, I begin with [Speedthrust]. Ara-san’s ears are trembling, a sign of bewilderment, but after the initial shock of this bold move, she reacts and uses a skill as well. [Windfeeler].

She jumps in the air, using her pole to hold herself up, and evades my attack. I swing my spear to knock that pole down, but she lifts it in the exact same moment to perform a somersault and attacking me from above.

It’s an attack with a large arc, so I can simply evade it. But instead I  counterattack, thrusting the blunt side of my spear right in her stomach, before the staff could come down.

Ara-san grunts, which is definitely not a normal sound an elf would make, guess alfar are really different. Losing some momentum from my counterattack, the club-end of her pole hits my shoulder, but while it did some damage, it’s nowhere serious.

“You’re dead.” If I have used the pointy end of the spear like normally, I would’ve seriously hurt her, most likely making her unable to fight.

“Another round?” Ara-san is using her slight smile, but she seems to be in pain. “After some healing, I mean.” Of course, we have our nurse, Kyou-san, who healed her, while throwing me hostile glares.

Same as Jazzman, who seems to be ready to kill me with stares only.

Hey, it’s a mock battle. So I won’t hold back more than necessary.

“Round two. Ready… fight!”

On Rine’s signal, Ara-san jumps. And it’s high, several meters. How is that possible? Ah, [Acrobat], huh? And now she begins to glow, while she begins to spin in the air.

Well, it may be untypical for me, but while Ara-san seems to charge some kind of airborne attack, I will just do it. I throw my spear, blunt side first again.

Ouch, that was bull’s eye. Or more like alfr’s eye. I aimed for her face, but to hit an eye socket wasn’t intentional.

If you can lose your balance in the air, then that’s what Ara-san did. I didn’t only disrupted her skill-charging, she also fell like a brick.

And the second pain.

Seems like she couldn’t break her fall. Kyou-san is running to her and casts a healing spell again, while I pick up my weapon.

Rine is also kneeling down by her and casts a spell or two. “Ara’ainn, please be serious.” Rine scolds her. Well, until now it’s a bit pathetic. Seems like Ara-san favors the spectacular, causing her to make these really flashy, but fail moves that are easily countered.

Jazzman is caressing the shortsword on his waist.

Please stop that, it makes me nervous.

“Third round. Ready… fight.”

This time, Ara-san moves in for a close quarters fight. I hate these! The only thing you can do is to try to land blow after blow while being beaten to a pulp yourself and reacting on less than a moment for incoming danger. Her [Agility] is higher than mine, so this should serve our experiment well. She should be able to own me in this.

Alternatively, she can be beaten by some powerful blows. A thrust with my spear pole will cause her nose to bleed before she can fall down and whimpers.

And that’s exactly what happened.

“Arako!” Kyou-san is again by her side. “Ken! What did you do?”

“Kyou, don’t be mad at him. He’s just better than her.”

“I am?”

“Not that much. Both of you are moving poorly, but Kenta is bolder and that’s why he breaks her defenses so easily.”

“Katarina-san, I did my best.” Ara-san seems to be a bit mortified. “I block him and then he pulls through, throws me off and then attacks by himself. It’s like he’s not even thinking about it.”

So I’m actually a better fighter than Ara-san, who lives in this world for about a century? Is that talent? Or the fact, that she spent most of these years without any fighting?

Most likely the latter.

“Hey, human!” Ah, Jazzman is finally pissed. “Fight me.”

I so don’t want to do this. “No. Get lost!”

Ara-san’s the same opinion: “You’re not a hero, Aera’jos, so there is nothing to gain from it. Even though I’m no one to talk.” Ah, she’s bitter about how easy I defeated her.

“I’ll fight Kenta instead.”

… No, Rine. Just no.

Kyou-san is smiling. It’s her pleasant smile, which scares me a bit. “That’s a great idea. Rine is a hero as well, so it will give some very interesting- I mean, valuable data.”

No, Kyou-san. Hell no!

Ara-san is pondering. “Even though their levels are significantly different, I guess it would give me some insight to Katarine-san’s combat potential.”

No, Ara-san. Please no!

But there might be a way out! “You know, my dear alfr.” I put my hands on Jazzman’s shoulders. “You’re lucky. You won’t get me, but the best of all of us, so you’ll have the honor to fight our precious Rine.” Don’t blame me for pinning this duel on Jazzman!

If you fight Rine seriously, it’s a short and brutal execution. But thinking about her holding back, using the blunt side of her sword, can only be like some long, slow kind of torture, which will break your bones and leave  you to bleed to death.

I seriously don’t want to fight Rine under any circumstances. I’m afraid.

“You lowlife, I want to fight you! I don’t care about your women, but you’re the one who hurt Ara’ainn!”

“He called me ‘Kenta’s woman’!” Rine blushes a bit, while she grins as bright as the sun.

But the other girl in questions stays calm. “Aera’jos, it was an experiment. So even if it hurts, it’s all fine with me.”

Ara-san, you’re on my side.

“So stand aside and let Katarine-san and Kenta-kun fight each other.”

On my execution site.

Rine snaps out of her delusion and her face changes into combat-mode.

“Ready…” Kyou-san, stop being a referee for a fight, that won’t happen. And don’t smile at me like that, it gives me the chills. “Fi-”

I put a hand in my backpack, pull out a smoke bomb, throw it to the ground and use the cover to run away.

Or so I thought.

“-ght!”

Even though I had the perfect smoke cover, I feel my knee kicked and bend, while a hand grasps my hair, and pull my head back. Ah, I can see the pommel, which is about to hit my face…

This will hurt.

―○●○―

“Dear!” The moment my consciousness returns is the moment, my head is hugged. I know these breasts, it’s Rine. I guess I passed out after twelve repeated blows into my face.

I check my status, I was healed. Feel no swellings on my face as well, but I can taste my own blood and my nostrils are caked.

“You’re calling him ‘Dear’?” Ara-san’s ears are moving. “Kenta-kun, when you told me, that you don’t have a relationship with anyone, was it a lie? Ah, I see, so you want to add me to your dirty love nest by sweet talking me. Poor me.”

“Stop joking around. And Rine, let me go.” I actually feel good in your bosom, so please stop this.

You gain 1 WP.
Your wife took care of your sorry self, showing that she wants to be with you, even if you have your unreliable moments.

Who do you think knocked me out in the first place!?

I look at Kyou-san who just rolls her eyes, and Rine who giggles. Their reactions to these messages are usually that polar.

“Hey, where is that alfr?” I can’t see Jazzman.

“He left, after being called by Oro’hekk. Something at the border again. Seems like those two humans out there won’t give up.”

They’re coming back on a daily basis, that’s annoying. Maybe I should ambush them by myself, making it clear that they stand no chance. But I’m still limited in my freedom here.

For Ara-san, who doesn’t know that they’re heroes, it’s an unimportant nuisance right now. “Since Kenta-kun didn’t even try to fight Katarine-san, the data of the last fight is not worth anything.”

“What did you expect? Rine is much stronger than I.”

“Oh, Dear.” Rine blushes and holds her face in her hands, making an alluring pose. “You’re exaggerating. I’m not that good.” And the worst part is, she means it.

“Who are you calling ‘Dear’!? And you, Ara-san, just don’t give in stupid ideas, just because you’re frustrated by the fact, that I owned you!”

Ah, her ears twitch. I got it nailed down. “You only won because my skills are rusty. I have not had a melee fight in years. I would incinerate you with my [Druid]-class.” Druids are supposed to be able to use [Elemental Magic] and [Spirit Magic], which is a strong combo.

“It was a test. So don’t get too emotional about it.”

“You’re just a poor winner!”

This girl… technically, it would be more like ‘woman’, but calling her a ‘girl’ just seems to be more appropriate. So: This girl is such a sore loser. I can’t stand them, even though I’m one as well.

“Ken, Arako, just try to stay calm. It’s time for lunch.” Kyou-san is putting a blanket on the ground, taken from her backpack with dishes follows after that. Today’s a picnic.

It’s something like cabbage rolls. I don’t know what kind of animal the meat is from, but I have the suspicion, that it’s squirrel. At least I never saw any meat in the provisions, that Jazzman brings over, so that’s the only explanation I have.

But oh well, it’s not like I saw every delivery. Although the thought, that the squirrels, which harass Rine on a daily basis, are eaten by us is amusing.

Can squirrel-meat even be eaten?

“Here, Kenta-kun.” Ara-san pours me some tea, Aeolferelda. It revives mind and body, even though Ara-san only has a limited supply of it, she shares it with us. It’s the closest you can get to green tea in this world.

I take a sip. “Ahh…” It actually regenerates a lot of MP and SP, Ara-san explained it to me, that the Aeolferelda tree is like a mana generator. So even its dead leaves, from which the tea is made, are soaked in the stuff, which actually creates MP. “Good as always. Thanks.”

“*sigh*” Seems like Kyou-san is holding back a complaint by drinking a bit as well. “Thank you, Arako.”

“How can you drink that?” Rine’s sense of taste is a bit different, to be blunt: The tea is too bitter for her. Not only her personality, even her taste is childish. So she drinks water mixed with a bit of juice.

The cabbage rolls are delicious like every other dish Kyou-san serves us. This is a real upside of the [Cook]-class, Kyou-san can make everything tasty, as long as it’s even remotely edible.

Not that I’d ever say that to her. She’s conceited enough as it is, no need to encourage that behavior.

Ara-san enjoys the meal as well. You can tell that by her ears, which are pointed straight up while twitching slightly. Over the days I became sure that an alfr’s ears are like a human’s eyebrows, a vital part to interpret the emotion of the person.

Rine has impeccable manners when eating, not even letting a bit of grease on her mouth or clothes. Guess she really is a princess, even though she looks and behaves like some tomboy normally.  I guess, she knows the etiquette.

I don’t care about table manners anymore. I just pick up the cabbage rolls with my hand and shove them in my mouth. My mother would scold me for this, but now that I’m in a fantasy world, nobody except the girls can see me.

Ara-san’s ears are moving, aligning themselves. “Kenta-kun, everyone. I just got a message from the elder.” With [Spirit Magic] it’s possible to send a message through plants to another person, who has [Spirit Magic]. There seems to be a range limit and only a few alfr can use it, but it’s really handy. “Tomorrow we may visit the village.”

Kyou-san is delighted: “So we can see the relic?” Well, of course, she’s keen to deselect [Healer], even though I still think, that would be a waste. It’s a craft class, you know? I like those, it’s always a pleasure to organize equipment, materials, time and other resources.

But Kyou-san is thinking far ahead, for the time when she and I will separate, when the curse gets lifted. When that happens, she will need to take care of things by herself.

Ara-san takes another sip. “Maybe. Depends on what the villagers have prepared.”

“What kind of item is that in the first place, Ara-san?”

“Didn’t I tell you? It’s a quill.”

“A quill… any other interesting relics there?”

“Most of them were taken by our own heroes for their quests, like our other powerful magic items. Some of said heroes are already confirmed dead, we don’t know about the rest. Without Aeolferelda we can’t call them.”

“So the tree also increases the reach of [Far Call]?” [Whisper] to anyone who the user can see, [Far Call] to any [Spirit Magic]-user within a certain range. Both have similar effects but are still different.

“Aeolferelda is the source of magic in our world. They’re everywhere in Ljosgrond, and they’re the basis for our culture. It was hard to adapt to a world with only one Aeolferelda. It’s very important here. Without it, we couldn’t hold the magical wards, which protects Aroahenn.”

Ah, I see. It’s basically like electricity. Something the whole society began to revolve around. You can live without, but it’s just not the same. Now, the alfar of Aroahenn have only one power plant, which is used to power the defense mechanism and is used to produce some other things than magic, like tea.

“But you said ‘most of them’, so there are still some relics left?”

“Useless junk.”

“Like?”

“An amulet, which glows, if it’s worn by a hero. A bell, which rings, if you level up. And a belt, which vibrates, if you use a [Skill] while wearing it.”

Kyou-san and I exchange glances. ““Useless.””

“Like I said.”

“Couldn’t you use the amulet to identify heroes?” Rine asks.

“Only if they don’t show it by other means. [Class-Change], a wide array of skills, or simply showing your status to someone else.” Not that Ara-san can actually read our status windows since it’s in Japanese. But she copied mine and Kyou-san’s, while I ask Rine to copy hers since the princess is constantly learning or teaching and we do our best to let her and Ara-san never alone. “So it’s useless unless you try to find out about the hero-status of a person, you have imprisoned. And we don’t make prisoners here.”

I better remember to not cross the alfar. “The belt seems to be annoying, I mean, you use a skill and then suddenly something vibrates around your hips. And since I check my level regularly, there is no need for the bell. Ara-san, I thought that everything about heroes is collected here!”

“Nowadays, knowledge only. And that’s because of me, if I were to go, then there would be nobody left, who would even care much about all the details and workings of heroes. They don’t see the point of the investment in knowledge. They’re just putting up with my wishes.”

“Hard time, huh?”

“Arako…”

“Ara’ainn, won’t you come with us?” Rine invites Ara-san into the party.

Could you please try to read the mood?

“Why?” Ara-san is confused. I don’t have any idea why Rine even did this as well. But this may be her conclusion after being lost in her pink colored thoughts of friendship and such.

“Because you’re a hero, not a researcher. You need to put your powers to good use and I want to be friends with you!”

“Erm… thanks?” Ah, so that’s how you look after Rine runs you over with her words. Even though an alfr’s facial expression isn’t strong, Ara-san’s face is a picture-book example of being unsure of what to do.

“Yay, Ara and I are friends!” Ara-san looks are alternating between me and Kyou-san. While Kyou-san gives her a forced smile, I just sigh. Rine doesn’t even care. “You may call me Rine as well, Ara.”

“Erm… I still prefer Katarine-san.”

“OK, Ara!”

“Aren’t you glad, Ara-san? You made a new friend!” Actually, it’s amusing. Especially since Ara-san tries to befriend me, she got befriended in an avalanche herself instead.

“This just came out of the blue.”

“Ara, I was the only one you’re not close to, so I felt left out. It’s not like I didn’t think about it before.”

Seriously, there was no introduction and no setup, this event just jumped into the middle part. If this were a game, it would be bad story design, but reality is just like that sometimes.

“But Katarine-san, I must decline your earlier offer. There is no advantage for me to join your party, instead, you can stay here until I have all the data I need from you. It might take a while since there are many unusual circumstances with you. But afterward, it’s back to analyzing.”

Somehow I feel it’s a pity. Ara-san seems to be a mage-type normally and would be a good addition to the party. And she’s someone, who actually tries to understand the hero-system, so we could always brainstorm about the things, which irks me as strange.

On the other hand, I’m also glad. Since having another person in this party would definitely tire me out.

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