Prologue

Prologue

Proofreader: ramna27, Orion Dye

Where are you?

My name is Katsuragi Kenta, and I’m currently hiding in a bush. Using my [Camouflage]-skill, I’m now hard to distinguish from the leaves of this plant, even my equipment, like my red hide armor and my bow, changed color to match. Additionally, I use another skill, which makes it even more difficult to detect me.

But the ones I’m looking for are good at hiding as well. I can only detect two of them, using my enhanced senses. The other four are nowhere to be seen.

So no choice but to do it, right? “[Seeker]! [Seeker]!” In a fast manner, I draw two arrows from my hip quiver and shoot them at the two targets. My [Skill] will alter their course to a slight degree so that I can put emphasis on speed instead of accuracy.

Oops!

With a quick jump forward, I evade two arrows, which are aimed at me. So there you are. “[Seeker]! [Seeker]!” The bad thing about a quiver is that you need to mind your movements unless you want all of your arrows to fall out, so I couldn’t do anything too rash, without closing it first.

I take cover behind a tree and put another arrow on my bow. It’s a shortbow, a new one I got. It’s adapted to my shooting style, using the right hand to hold the bow and the left to draw it. It’s actually high-quality, maybe only magic weapons can trump it.

All the four foes I know of are still in the game, but I hurt them. Even with [Seeker], they can dodge if they’re fast enough. I use my skill again to meld with my surrounding and nimbly climb the tree. I got some training regarding this.

My four opponents are looking for me, every one of them is an alfar. They know the woods much better than I do, but I can use my powers as a hero. I take three more arrows, putting all four of them on my bow. “[Quadruple Shot]!” One for each of them.

Of course, they reacted to my voice, but an arrow can be fast, and I got a good angle, so only one of them could evade.

I already took the rest down, they lie on the ground, not moving a muscle.

The remaining one fires back, I let myself fall and prepare myself for pain. But while I fall: “[Entangle]!” Branches, grass, and roots grow, restraining the alfr. Then I hit the ground.

It really hurts, I can feel the impact on all my body, even though I tried to cushion my fall with my legwork.

Good thing I’m a hero, otherwise it would’ve broken my legs. Heroes are tough at least.

I shoot another arrow and hit the alfr, who’s trying to free himself, right in the face. Another one down.

Two left. I can only detect one of them with my [Pitch]-skill, hearing some small sounds within the background noises..

I look up and see, how an alfr swings down, using a vine, and draws two short clubs from his belt, while he falls the rest of the way.

Time to use my quarterstaff and attack. Left, right, left, left, up. It’s easy to unleash a flurry of blows with such a weapon when you use both hands, why do so few games address that?

In most games, staffs are slow weapons, which have a superior reach, but if you forfeit it, you have two ends, which can be swung much faster than two individual weapons.

Unable to block my onslaught, the alfr goes down.

*Clap, Clap* “Not bad.”

I turn around. “Oro’hekk.”

The leader of the alfar-guards is drawing a stick, which he holds like a sword. “In so little time. It’s fearsome to see how heroes can grow that fast.”

“Don’t overdo it, old man. You’re still hurt, so you’re no match for me.”

“Old man? I’m a girl, you know.”

“…hah!?” Did I got it wrong the whole time!?

“Jinx!” But it was only a tactic! Using the moment I was baffled, Oro’hekk closed in and smacked me with his stick, right across my body.

But it’s only natural, that I was surprised! I mean, alfar are hard to discern in general and so much different from humans! There was a fair chance that I got the sex wrong!

He tricked me! Payback-time: “You should’ve ended me!”

“If I want to win, yes. But if I want to test you, no.”

Yes, this is a test. We’re using non-lethal weapons, my arrows have cushion-heads, and instead of my spear, I use a quarterstaff.

And if this is a test: “Then I have the obligation to best it!”

 

―○●○―

 

“Ouch, are you crazy!? I’m still suffering from my wounds, you bastard!” Oro’hekk complains. He used every dirty trick he could think of (and I learned a few new ones this way), but in the end, I physically overpowered him.

“It’s your fault for taking part of the test while still recuperating.”

Twenty days ago, that’s two weeks in this world, the alfar village of Aroahenn was attacked by an army of demons. Oro’hekk had a fight with the most likely strongest foe there, a red oni, but was injured in the process. I heard like he covered the fallen body of one of his subordinates, Jazzman, and took a grave injury there.

Well, the oni was able to hurt Rine as well, so its combat strength is beyond questioning. And it seems like it recovered its injuries bit by bit.

I hate regenerating monsters. They always take so long to take down. In games.

In reality, these monsters might be even more troublesome, since you get exhausted more and more, while the foe retains its health.

“Ah, but Kenta-tan, you’ve passed the test, so everyone: Gather.”

The five other alfar gather around us, each of them is patting my shoulders. “Congratulations!”

“Why did you shoot my face?”

“Great work!”

“Seriously, you could’ve aimed at my body, like with the rest.”

“Man, did you pummeled me.”

“Was it something I did?”

“You did perfect!”

“Please, tell me!”

They approve of me. It’s a strange feeling since usually people look at me and say ‘Uh, it’s Katsuragi.’ Besides in games, there people judge me by my skills. Ah, that’s what it is: Someone sees me, but judges me solely by my skills.

“So friends.” Oro’hekk takes something from a belt pouch. “With this, Kenta-tan is now Kenta’aihr and not only this, but he also earned the title that he’s already proclaimed to have: He’s a ranger now!” Applause. The alfr are cheering and whistling me. “And now, that he’s a ranger, he has also earned ‘The Hood.’”

“…the ‘what’?”

“’The Hood.’ It’s important.” What he took out is a hood. The kind you can wear just above your clothes. “Every ranger, who’s not an alfr, has one. It’s like a uniform. Wear it and be proud of it.”

Hesitantly I take the hood. It’s as crimson red as my new armor. “Are you serious?”

“Yes.”

“Come on, Kenta’aihr, you don’t know about ‘The Hood’? It’s essential!”

“There can’t be a human ranger without ‘The Hood.’”

“’The Hood’ makes you about 20% cooler and makes you better at what you do.”

“Man, I wish I had ‘The Hood’ when you hit me with your arrow in the face. It would’ve totally protected me. Even though I’m an alfr and don’t need ‘The Hood’ to be a ranger, I totally envy you!”

“It’s an honor. Or do you want to say, that you look down on our dear alfr traditions?”

This hood… If I wear it, I’d be like Little Red Riding Hood.

But if everyone looks so expectant at me, how can I decline? Slowly I put the Hood over my head.

[The Hood]

Description: A hood especially made for Katsuragi Kenta by the alfar of Aroahenn. It’s a gift after passing the ranger-test and can hide the face of the wearer quite well, even though it’s sure to attract attention nonetheless.
Status: +10 Defense
Value: 200 Newgold

“Kenta’aihr. Please pull ‘The Hood’ deeper. The reason for ‘The Hood’ is, that no one can see, that you’re not an alfr. It makes you an equal ranger to us. It also trains your newly attained spirit sense, as it’s limiting your other senses, like hearing and seeing, so that you have to rely on them more during battle.”

So there is such a symbolism to it, while it also helps me training my new [Ability], [Spirit Magic]. I guess I have no choice.

I pull the hood deeper.

… …

“Pffff…!” Oro’hekk laughs. “He really did it!”

Then the other join in. “We should’ve tried a facial mask as well! He would have totally done it as well!”

…somehow I knew it. “Phew.” At least it’s still harmless.

They could’ve put itching powder into the hood as well. They would totally do it.

So who should I smack? Oro’hekk is still injured. Maybe all of the others? Sounds like a good idea.

“Ouch!”

“Don’t-”

Yes, this is the way to discipline these bastards for making fun of me!

“Kenta’aihr, stop it!”

“*groan* why the face again…?”

Ah, this form of aggression management is a marvel.

After hitting each of them once or twice, we came back to the ceremony. Oro’hekk continues. “Even though he might not like ‘The Hood,’ we have another thing, in addition to your alfr name and the recognition as a ranger, a personal title. Henceforth, you shall be known as Kenta’aihr, the Red Ranger, a hero of justice!”

Am I in a super sentai-show?

They just hit a nerve, and even if this is a total coincidence, I guess a few more punches won’t hurt.

At least not me.

Character-design Katsuragi Kenta (Ranger)

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