Chapter 4-3

Proofreaders: Dreen, Rooker

Morning. Aroahenn.

The village of the alfar is unlike any I saw before. Some houses seem to be grown out of the treetops, just like Ara-san’s, where branches and leafs build an entire building. Bigger buildings are even made of whole trees, which twists around each other and then there are building between the roots of particularly big trees.

Branches are connecting buildings on three levels with each other, just like bridges. Vines hang from above, which are nimbly climbed by the alfar to get to higher level. Sometimes they’re intertwined like a net, so they can just jump down from a higher platform.

It’s like a huge climbing crag, but the roughly thirty alfar I could see treat it as normal. So alfar have amazing balance as well, huh?

Ara-san shows her slight smile, her ears are wiggling, she seems to be interested in our reactions. Her best, but still small, smile widens by a bit, as she sees my impressed look, she giggles due Kyou-san’s face of disbelief and seems to be unsure, what to make out of Rine’s open admiration.

“This is like another world.”

“Whooooaaa.”

“After you’re done staring, we’ll go into that building. It’s the elder’s hall, there we’ll meet with Elder Gaer’mon.”

But there is still one question, I want to ask. “Where is our escort? Hidden in plain sight, ready to ambush us, if we do something stupid?” There is no way, that the alfar will let us do as we want here.

“Exactly. You already know how alfar do things.” Ara-san’s expression is harder to read than usual, but if I try to make it out of her voice, it’s somewhere between displeasure and cheerful. Strange combination.

We enter the elder’s hall, a building made entirely out of living trees. It’s like a big tower, but we already saw the elder at the ground level. He seems to be about as old as Ara-san or every other alfr we saw. His hair is dishwater blonde, his eyes have an inner yellow iris, shining like an amber, and an outer green one, who looks like an emerald.

Could it be, that you can measure an alfr’s age by the eyes? Ara-san seems to be still young for an alfr and has dark colored eyes, most of the guards have brighter eyes, Oro’hekk more than the others, and now we have the elder with his sparkling eyes.

Well, if we go by that, Rine must seem like an old lady for the alfar, too, since her eyes are bright and sparkling, too. But not like a gem, more like a forge.

Ah, I guess I read too much into it.

Or did I?

The elder steps up. “Welcome to Aroahenn, humans. I’m Gaer’mon, the elder of this village. I wanted to see you all by myself before we decide what to do with you. It seems like you’re taking good care of Ara-tan, I’ve never seen her so well rested, well-kept, and jovial before.”

“Elder, could you please-”

“I remember like it was yesterday, when we had downpour after downpour, uprooting some of our trees, when Ara-tan’s house fell to the ground, sinking into the mud. Oro’hekk had to salvage her since she was dozing off and it took hours before she even considered to wash her dirty self off. She went out in the rain, since cleaning herself seems to be too much work.”

“I would really appreciate it, if-”

“Or the time Aera’jos came in panic into the village with an unconscious Ara-tan in his arms since the girl was so absorbed into her work, that she actually didn’t eat for days.”

“I beg you-”

“And there was one time when she-”

“AAAAAH!”

“Ara-tan, I am trying to talk with our guests.”

Kyou-san is smirking, holding a hand before her mouth, like an aunt from the neighborhood: “Please keep on, Elder.”

I’m also smirking, holding my chin while nodding: “It sounds interesting.” I somehow find this situation unbelievably amusing.

Rine is smirking as well, but I think she’s just mimicking us.

“I’m sure, the three of you are not smiling, but smirking! I can read it from your brows!” Ara-san, on the other hand, is embarrassed as hell, her ears are blushing and twitching like crazy. Even her still aloof face can’t hide it.

Normally, she’s more or less collected and in charge, but now she’s dominated by the elder. As expected from someone, who knows you for a couple of years. Every moment of embarrassment is saved only to talk about it openly at the next opportunity.

After sharing some of Ara-san’s less glorious deeds, the elder discussed with her about us. Ara-san’s estimation of us is: “They’re dangerous in a fight but harmless in general. As long as we don’t provoke them, both parties will profit from sharing our respective knowledge.”

“Ara-tan, I can see, that your research will profit from this, but what about the rest of us? Oro’hekk told me about the two intruders, so there is a risk. If there was no risk, then I wouldn’t even care, but even if we chase those two outside away, won’t others still come for these three here? Especially for von Stolzherz-tan?”

All of us are alarmed, even Ara-san seems to be blown away that the elder knows it and told us. I take over the conversation: “How do you know?”

“How can I not know about the ember-eyes of Feuerberg-kingdom’s royal bloodline? Come on, everyone knows!” He smiles, what arrogance! “Just joking, I’ve already met two of their kind, Eberhardt and Cassandra von Stolzherz. I asked them about their eyes back then.”

“You met aunty and my little brother?” Thank you, Rine, for giving the necessary exposition.

“Didn’t Ara-tan already told you? Your people seek an alliance with us, to fight the demon country. Of course, they will send royalty as diplomats, as a sign of good will. Not that I’ve agreed to it. Human’s wars are human’s responsibility. There is nothing in it for us.”

“Hey, Elder!” I stand before the elder and don’t make a big deal about hiding my hostility: “I don’t care about that war and such, so cut the chase and tell us, what you’re planning to do with us and I tell you if I’ll agree!”

“Ken!” Kyou-san hisses at me. “Shut up!” Then she adds in a louder voice, directed to the elder: “I’m sorry for him. He’s just an idiot. No, that’s an understatement, he’s incapable of clear thoughts 90% of the time, so just treat him like a mentally retarded person.”

“Who are you calling mentally retarded!?”

“You of course?” What are you making the expression, as if I’ve just asked if the sky is blue?

“Kenta, Kyou, please. We stand before a leader of a country.” And why is Rine the voice of reason again!? And it’s a village, not a country!

“Ah…” Ara-san seems to be unsure what to do in this situation.

“Hm…” The elder is deep in thoughts. “Considering this development, there is a rather important question I have to ask before I can decide what to do with you.” All of our heads turn to the elder. “You and you!” The alfr is pointing at me and Kyou-san. “Do you pork with each other?”

Double-K.O.

Kyou-san and I have seizures, our eyes are rolling backward, indefinite sounds escapes our throats and our bodies convulses. These words are so typical for an alfr and so inappropriate to the situation, they physically hurt.

“…I’m feeling sick again.” Kyou-san whines.

I groan. “Why does everyone…” Ask that question? Jump to strange conclusions? Have not even a bit of common sense? Make my life a living hell? All the above?

“Yes. Both of them has night actions with each other.” Rine, not again! Ah, I totally forgot to explain her, why it was bad the last time! I regret! Please let me make a do-over!

“Oh? And I thought that Momo and Kenta-kun weren’t in that sort of relationship.”

““We aren’t!””

You gain 1 WP.
In prosperity as in adversity, in fun and embarrassed moments, the two of you share everything. And you even say the exact same words at the exact same time.

Yes, please add insult to injury! I obviously haven’t enough of that!

“Human relationships are complicated since they can’t keep it in their pants.” The elder gives a comment in a composed tone, which makes me want to yell at him. “But regarding this… three weeks. You may stay for 30 days, it’s the usual time we give asylum. Then you have to leave.”

“This is plenty. Thank you, Elder.” Kyou-san is quick to thank, but the time frame it’s still more than I expected.

“Oh, only three weeks?” Ara-san is sighing. I guess for her, it’s only a short amount of time. So a week in this world has ten days, huh? And it’s still not one month?

“Three whole weeks? Please, don’t make me read all these books for so long!” On the other hand, Rine is opposing to study that long. Ah, she hated studying in the first place, that’s the reason why she even left home.

“Rine, the harder and faster you work, the less time we need. Just keep going, smiling like the idiot you are.”

“I’m aware, that I’m not bright, but it still hurts, if you say that like this.” She pouts. Man, what is with this girl.

“Elder.” I’ll just ignore it.

“Don’t ignore me, please!” Now she’s clinging to my arm.

The elder is jumping into conclusions by himself. “Ah, I see. She’s the one you pork.”

“*grooooooaaaaaan….*”

 

―○●○―

 

“And don’t try anything funny. We’re still surrounded by other guards, so just behave.” Aera’jos guides Yoshimura and Hoshibashi to Aroahenn. After a long discussion, Yoshimura learned some interesting facts.

Yoshimura tries to be calm. But he couldn’t. Aera’jos told him and Hoshibashi about the other heroes here and there is one piece of information, that got his full attention: Momokawa Kyou-chan is here. He didn’t know it, but it’s a lucky coincidence. And for some reason, she was with Katsuragi and another girl-hero.

How did Katsuragi pull it off? Having two girls in his party, especially Momokawa-chan!

Well, considered what Yoshimura heard before, Momokawa-chan was left behind by her friends, so she most likely joined the party of the only person available. Even though Yoshimura was sure, that Katsuragi is dead.

Hoshibashi claimed to have seen them back in the Wächter-fort, but Yoshimura dismissed it. A miscalculation, but it’d be easy to convince Momokawa-chan to join their party if her only other alternative is Katsuragi.

Yoshimura has a crush on Momokawa-chan. For a long, long time. But whatever he did, it was never enough to gain her attention.

However, in this world, the cards got reshuffled and now he will show her, what kind of man he has become.

This is a chance!

“We’re about here. Stow your weapons into the backpack, every one of them.”

“Kch!” Hoshibashi clicks his tongue, but after looking how Yoshimura complies, he did the same. Yoshimura thought of his partner as reliable, but with some anger issues. Especially since he got ‘that’ class.

Yoshimura put his weapons into his [Inventory] and he saw on the screen something strange. The map, that Correo-guy gave them, was blinking slightly. He takes it out. It’s normal in his hand, so why did it flashed in the [Inventory]-screen?

“What’s this?” Aera’jos takes the map from Yoshimura’s hand. “A map? This is how you found us? So not only rumors, maps as well?”

“Yes.”

“Another thing we have to tell Elder.” Aera’jos seems to be concerned or in joy, it’s hard to tell for Yoshimura. “Everything stowed? Then let’s go.” He moves between some trees and thicket, which opens for him, like the whole time before. Who knows how hard it would be to move in this forest without an elven guide.

And then they saw Aroahenn, with its unique buildings, which are made by the effort of living trees, its bridges, and vines. It seems to glow…

No, the glow came from elsewhere. From Aera’jos or more specific: Correo’s map, which still is in his hand. “What…” Then there is a loud bang with a light-explosion.

Yoshimura sees colorful dots and hears strange noises. His sight slowly returns and he finds himself surrounded by many strange people. Horns, claws, wings, tails, everything is mixed. Some are twice as tall as him, others are only up to his knees.

But he knows what this is from his time at the border… demonkind! And they attack the village with roars of bloodlust and viciousness, ignoring the ones, who they just surrounded.

How… HOW? Yoshimura doesn’t even know what to think. They come into the village and then demonkind appears out of nowhere – no, from the map.

Correo!

They were used! They brought disaster to the elven village!

One of the demons, a particularly big one, bow down to them. “If you want to get those relics, they’re under this tree, like the other treasures.” A droning female voice from something, which can only be seen as an oni. Two large, black horns on a red body, long arms with strong muscles, armor at the top, a striped dress-like undergarment with a bone armor over the chest-piece, and a long club made out of iron in her hands.

The oni groans as she was hit by three arrows. It’s Aera’jos. “You tricked me! Duman scum!” He’s seriously pissed.

“Go, heroes. I’ll take care of the puny alfr.” The oni is full of confidence. “It’ll take only a little time. The relic you’re searching for is a quill. If you have it, you’ll know how to use it.”

In situations like these, humans will show their true character. And so do Yoshimura and Hoshibashi. They run to the direction of the tree, the oni was pointing to.

Yoshimura sighs. Looks like they just switched sides. But who knows, maybe the demons are the better people. Being a dark hero doesn’t sound so bad as well. And considering the treatment they got from the elves, it seems only to be some kind of righteous judgment.

The elves are the true evil!

 

―○●○―

 

“What kind of explosion was that?” With [Pitch] I could clearly hear that the sound was like an explosion, I’ve never heard before. “And there was something else mixed in.”

Battle cries are starting to emerge. This is most likely an attack, even though even I can’t think of anything, which could break through the wards of the alfar.

“We should help!” Rine is quick to decide that and before she even finished her words, she’s already through the door.

“Don’t decide it on your own. Phew.” I’m not that keen to help, it’ll get dangerous. But at least I can take a peek. “Erm, everyone?” I turn to the ones behind. “Could you look as well? I think that these things are demons, but I might err.”

Ara-san and Kyou-san are also taking a look and the alfr girl is the one, who confirms my suspicion. “Yes, they look like demons. And they’re attacking the village.” Without any more hesitation, Ara-san joins Rine, who already butchers her way through the demons.

So demons don’t die with a body, but turn into midnight blue smoke?

How game-like!

“Ken, we should also help.”

“Why?”

“First, there is Rine and Ara-san. I would feel bad if someone hurt them. And finally” Kyou-san draws close to me: “We will gain the trust and the thanks of the alfar, so they’ll bound to help us with everything.”

How exploiting. But she’s right. It’s not like I have to go into grave danger, and if things go bad, I can most likely retreat. “You know just the right words, Kyou-san.”

Time to change to [Pikeman]. I run towards Rine: “Rine, change!” Rine steps backward and let me do my thing “[Whirlwind]!” And with this, a bunch of demons is blown away, some of the small ones already smoke badly. “Change.”

Rine swaps positions with me and takes care of the ones, who are already on their feet. Ara-san is now beside me. “[Icicle Knives]!” Ara-san conjures a fan of ice and throws it, it splits into five knives, which are hitting the enemies.

“Can you hold them with [Entangle]?” The same thing she used to keep me and Jazzman off each other.

“[Entangle]!” With this, the movement of several demons is entangled by the grass, branches, and roots, which grows like vines.

“Kyou-san!”

“Do I have to?”

“Just do it!”

“Uh…” Kyou-san still has her ss’rak-knife, which deals an enormous amount of damage to unmoving targets. With this, she can take care of the entangled, while I keep the free ones at bay, which are about to attack us.

It took only a little time before the demons here are either killed or have retreated. But something seems strange, they’re like mindless beasts, not much of a threat to have a longstanding war with anyone. Maybe there are some demons like this and others, which are actually intelligent?

At least it feels like killing mobs to me. But it’s better that way since it’s easier than killing sentient beings.

The guards of the alfar are also helping, they fight like heroes. But as far as I know, Ara-san is supposed to be the only alfr-hero here. Are these guys just that strong!?

Then something catches my eyes. Humans. Two of them, Japanese. Ah, they’re the ones, who were camping outside before.

How were they called? Nah, not that important.

One of them wields a greatsword, the other one has a longsword. Their movements are keen and their teamwork is superb. It’s much better than what Rine and I are currently capable of.

But why are they fighting alfar? And with such a success? The alfar they beat are as competent as the others, but the two Japanese parry the arrows slashes through blades and flesh. I think, each of them is stronger than me! How!?

“Kenta-kun, look.” Ara-san, I can already see it, but I don’t want to. “How can they fight like that, despite their- KENTA-KUN!” Ah, she’s honestly pissed. “Did you hide heroes from me?”

“Yes, I did and no, I don’t regret it.” Honesty.

“You… but why… Where is Oro’hekk!?”

“He’s fighting that big oni-type there, who just smashed Jazzman.”

“Who?”

“You know, Jazzman.”

Ara-san is looking in the direction I’m pointing to and see, how Oro’hekk is completely occupied with fighting that one enemy. And I’m glad that I’m not the one, who has to do this. That oni is way above the other demons, maybe their leader or even an actual boss type mob. The attacks are fierce, sending shockwaves through the air. I really wouldn’t want to fight it.

But Ara-san is pointing at the direction of the two enemy heroes. “Kenta-kun, Momo, Katarine-san. Please help me with fighting those two.” So she wants us to fight our former classmates? Every other day I would agree, but this day, I feel clearly inferior to them. “They’re moving to Aeolferelda! We need to protect it.”

“We’ll do it!” Rine is about to run off, but I hold her arm.

“Don’t decide on your own, Rine! Ara-san, these guys are strong. I don’t know why, but they are. Even if you and Kyou-san take over the support, Rine and I are having the most risk here! What’s in for me?”

“And me?” Kyou-san seems also to be against it.

“Momo, under the roots of the Aeolferelda is the treasury. The relic you’re seeking is there and I think they’re trying to steal it with the other treasures.”

“Uh… Only if Ken’s also going.” Her desire to get this quill and the wish to survive are even, so she wants to max out, huh? But I’m not going to fall!

Ara-san looks deep into my eyes. “Kenta-kun. Please.” Determination, the will to die for the cause. She knows that she will if I won’t help her. But she’s ready to.

“Dammit!” How did she convince me!? Just by looking into my eyes? But somehow I feel like I really want to help her. Why!?

‘I’m interested in you!’ What? ‘I thought that’s how humans make friends. Strange.’ Hey, that’s not how it works! It’s…

I fell. I fell. There is something inside me. A bit of friendship.

Talking with Ara-san can be fun. She takes good care of us, siding with us. She’s a bit calculating, but in the end, she’s doing it to satisfy her curiosity, not for some ulterior motive.

I hate it. I hate it! I HATE IT! “DAMMIT! I just have to do it, right!? Rine, stay right behind me! We’ll try to separate them!”

“Yes!” Happy about my change of mind, Rine obediently follows me.

I hate myself for doing this. Aren’t I supposed to be an A-hole? But somehow I get the feeling, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life if I won’t do it.

“[Speedthrust]!” Aiming for the bigger one, the one with the greatsword, I launched myself with my [Spear]-skill.

“Katsu-!? [Crescent Moon]!” with one swing, the greatsword creates a wind sickle, flying at me.

I abort my skill, sidestep and: “[Speedthrust]!” just do it again. To abort a skill is hard, but it’s the [Spear]-skill I use the most. So I know exactly, how it works.

But- “[Gust]!” The other one used the already known OP-spell against me, knocking me back.

“Don’t worry!” These words were passed at me by Rine, who just overtook me. “Leave it to me!”

The greatsword is swung at her, but Rine jumps, uses the enemy’s blade as a stepping stone and smacks her knee right into the face of the wielder. That sounds like a broken nose. “Aaaah!” And a lot of pain.

You may have [Gust], but we have [Rine], which is much stronger than that!

Ara-san speaks to the alfar around us: “Retreat with the wounded! We have this under control!” Actually,  I’d rather keep them in the fight.

Oh well.

I get back on my feet and lift my spear. The one with the longsword looks at us. “Katsuragi. Class rep. We don’t need to fight.” Ah, Kyou-san also joined the fray.

“Then just give up, erm… you.” I give another option.

“It’s me, Yoshimura Rentaro! We were sitting next to each other in class! We even shared a room back in Esse! Did you seriously forget my name?”

“It’s less about forgetting and more about not trying to remember it in the first place. And who’s the bloody-nose?”

The delinquent yells out in anger while holding his nose. “Hoshibashi Takashi!”

“My deepest condolences.” Some people just don’t know how to name their children.

“…I’ll tear you apart.” And now he’s angry.

Please, blame your parents for being so bad at naming you. Your name almost sounds like a tongue twister.

Yoshimura smiles wryly. “Even though this is supposed to be a heartwarming reunion, things got quite complicated. Class rep, I know, this might be sudden and not the right mood, but please: We’re in the right here! The elves are evil! So don’t join with them, but with us. Ah, and the others may as well. Humans have to stick together!”

Why do I feel like a side note? This pisses me off.

“Yoshimura-kun.” Kyou-san is looking at our former classmate like a damsel in distress, then she looks to Rine and me. “I can’t.”

Ah, because you’re cursed. Otherwise, you would switch sides? Or at least consider it?

Well, that’s Kyou-san for you.

“I see.” Yoshimura has made a conclusion by himself. “Then we’ll take care of them.” … Ah, she did it, so they’ll concentrate their attacks on Rine and me!

And don’t stick your tongue out so cutely, Kyou-san, it makes me vomit!

“Rine, be careful. Their teamwork is good.” Rine is a monster, she is a powerhouse and can even fight multiple enemies all on her own. As long as they’re weak. If these two gang up on her, she’ll probably sustain some damage, if this piles up, it’s over.

So the trick would be to keep Hoshibashi and Yoshimura separated, but this might become the trickiest part. And until then, I have to keep one of them busy enough, so that they can’t combo against her.

Considering the stuff they’ve shown, it might get difficult. “Rine, I’ll concentrate on the one with the big sword.” Hoshibashi seems to be an easier match-up. I already have some experience fighting greatswords.

“OK.” Fast as thought, she steps up to Yoshimura.

Hoshibashi tries to interfere, but: “[Whirlwind]!” I knock him back. If I can keep it up, I’ll separate them.

“[Rocksmash]!” Hoshibashi swings his blade right into the ground and earth and rocks are flying at me.

“[Watershield]!” Ara-san conjures water around me, a hollow sphere which takes most of the force of Hoshibashi’s attack.

Surprisingly, the rocks are still coming pretty fast and powerful, but with the dropping speed, it’s rather easy to avoid them.

Nice support!

But seriously, what’s up with these rocks? The [Watershield] should’ve been more efficient than that! Are they bullets? Is it the [Skill]? Or is that how much [Strength] Hoshibashi has?

The [Watershield] falls and I shorten the distance between me and Hoshibashi. Letting him swing his sword seems to be dangerous. I take my spear in both hands like a quarterstaff and perform a flurry of blows with both sides.

It doesn’t make much damage, but he couldn’t counter with his sword. He throws a punch at me, but I evade it, even though it’s insanely fast and powerful. But for some reason, it doesn’t seem that dangerous.

I hook the blunt end of my spear behind the leg of Hoshibashi, then I pull his leg from the ground. He falls and I stab him with the spear into the chest. But his hide armor and his [Vitality] takes most of the impact, so I can’t impale him.

“Ah!” Irritated, Hoshibashi draws both weapons from his belt: A shortsword and a club. At the same time, he loses some buff, his arms and torso became sleek. Then he nimbly stands up and moves much faster than before. He covers me with blows and I can feel and see how my HP and SP are drained.

“[Heal]! [Stamina]!” But I got two supporters. While Kyou-san heals me, Ara-san throws [Icicle Knives], she hits Hoshibashi at the side and I take the opportunity to smack the point of my spear right across his face. But even so, it’s only a cut.

I need some distance. I step back, but- “Whoa!” Feel another back on mine. It’s Yoshimura, who is more similar to a bloody bag than he used to be. I try to knock him down, but he pushes me away with ease, right back to Hoshibashi.

He has much more [Strength] than me, that’s why I hate heroes. “[Steel Slicer]!” Hoshibashi, buffed again, uses this opportunity to make a big swing from above with his shortsword, surely to half me. Ah, I’m dead.

“[Fountain Gun]!” Or not, Ara-san shoots a spurt of water, powerful enough to knock Hoshibashi a few meters back. I kinda like that kind of support.

Thank you again, Ara-san!

Hoshibashi class-changes to his slender form again and picks up speed. Then he vanishes. How… I jump sideways and see how something, which looks like a patch of grass, is attacking me. [Camouflage]. Don’t use the skills I know against me!

Then he throws his sword, and while I do my sidestep, he closes in and swings his club, which hits me in the chest. Ah, this sounds like broken ribs. And it’ll definitely hurt in one, two… “AAAAARGH!” The pain is nothing you could just shrug off with an ‘Ouch!’. But my cry of pain is hurting me as well.

“[Heal]! [Heal]!” At least I got my support.

But I wasn’t the only one, who got hurt. The moment I realized I couldn’t evade the club, I attacked as well and Hoshibashi is coughing, since I almost smashed his throat with a horizontal thrust of my spear-pole.

Time to deal the finishing blow!

“[Falling Mist]!” And suddenly I couldn’t see anything. Yoshimura has cast a spell. “[Speedthrust]!” I try to stab the place where Hoshibashi was, but he’s already somewhere else. “Damn!” He could use the fog to hide, using [Camouflage]. I did it often enough myself. “Everyone, keep your eyes open, Hoshibashi has the [Camouflage]-skill!”

I change to [Scout] and use [Pitch], but the sounds of the battles elsewhere are too loud to locate the two of them. Especially, considering Hoshibashi may also have the [Sneak]-skill.

“Ken!” Kyou-san’s voice is coming through the mist. “They don’t need to fight us, they-”

“Dammit!” I realized it.

“We must stop them!” Ara-san also got the idea.

“What?” Rine… didn’t.

“They need only to get to Aeolferelda,” Ara-san explains it and I can hear her already running. Then she hits an object, most likely a tree/building. She can’t see either.

“Ara-san, is there nothing [Spirit Magic] can do?”

“Nothing I can use. And the spell is strong, it makes all the spirits blurry.”

“Do you know how long this fog-skill is in effect?”

“Usually about a minute.” Ah, I can see how it begins to disperse already, just slightly.

“I can see a path, follow my voice.” Slowly I walk through the mist, which dissolves bit by bit. “Here, here, here.” I just to say something, so that they can follow. “Good, I’m through the mist.” I wait for the others to come and they do.

Then all of us run to Aeolferelda. The tree is easily distinguishable by its sheer size and these algae-like leafs. Hoshibashi and Yoshimura are right before its roots. Hoshibashi slashes at the door with another greatsword. So he had spares, huh? But the branches and leafs of the door regrow faster than Hoshibashi can cut them.

“Ha!” Triumphantly, I approach. “You’re back in a corner. Give up!” Yoshimura looks badly battered, the result of a fight with Rine. Hoshibashi might be stronger than me, but as long as we can separate them again, I should do well with the support.

“[Heal]!” And Kyou-san’s treating my ribs. So everything is fine.

“[Oni Fire]!” Except when it’s not. Suddenly, the red oni who was fighting Oro’hekk jumps in and burns the door to crisps. Hoshibashi and Yoshimura enter it, while the oni stands in our way. It appears to be female and somehow I recognize that voice, even though I’m not sure where from. “Two down, two to go!” Jazzman and Oro’hekk are down. I hope the other two are not Rine and me.

Speaking of Rine: “Kenta, what are your orders?”

“You ask me!?”

“You’re the one who knows best!” Since when? But Kyou-san and Ara-san are also faltering.

So I have to make a call? “Rine and Kyou-san, this oni is dangerous. Some of us need to keep it at bay. Do that.” I have the theory, that this oni is the strongest of all, so only Rine can fight it. And she will most likely suffer damage by doing so or exhaust all of her SP. And since she won’t have any opportunities to cast spells herself, Kyou-san needs to be the support. “Ara-san and I will follow the two others.” Yoshimura is hurt and Hoshibashi might overcome me in terms of power, but I still got Ara-san. This has to work out.

We just need to cover the healing with pots.

“Understood!” Without even wavering, Rine charges at the oni.

“Keep Arako save!” Kyou-san keeps herself ready to cast any spell necessary.

“Let’s go, Kenta-kun!” Ara-san and I use the moment, the oni is distracted with Rine to pass by it, into the roots of Aeolferelda. “You’re worried?”

“We had a hard time before and now we have to deal with both of them on our own.”

“Don’t worry. I have home advantage.” Ara-san is smiling slightly, but very mischievously.

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