~~Ten O’clock in the Morning, Eighteenth Day of the First Month, Eighty-Ninth Year of the War Demon Calendar~~
Since I first arrived in Faltown, three and a half months had passed.
By what could be considered good luck, there had been no deaths that were not through natural causes. No matter what magic was used, there was no such way to heal the sick. I had the knowledge to mix up some basic medicine, but I was not omnipotent, and could not help those whose conditions had taken a turn for the worse.
Though there were times when I felt powerless, I’d never felt affected by the death of others, perhaps because I’d become so desensitized to it over the years. Yes, my feelings had always been focused on myself. Perhaps this regret I felt inside me was one of the few facets of emotion I had left.
There hadn’t been any major changes these past 3 months, but the repairs were progressing nicely and resource production was getting started, so this could be considered as slowly heading toward an improvement.
The other day, just as I wrapped up teaching the fast-learning Lina and Tifa the final basic spells for all of the Four Core Elements, an incident arose.
A pack of Goblins had suddenly appeared at the plaza. Thankfully, there hadn’t been any casualties.
Well, a pack they may be called, but there shouldn’t have been much more than 10. It was a lucky coincidence that Mana had been teaching her Combatant Class at the same time.
According to what I’d heard later, Mana had dealt with the situation calmly, keeping the children under control and leading the capable kids in defeating the Goblins. Still, it was unknown where the Goblins had come from.
By Ryan’s request, I had set out to investigate the matter, and eyewitness information had led us to the basement of the abandoned church to the north-east. They had discovered a tunnel, but they couldn’t investigate it before I’d arrived.
Judging from its shape, I had hypothesized that it would lead to the eastern district.
When I’d reported to Ryan, he’d initially proposed to fill it up, but also expressed the desire to investigate the eastern district’s present condition. With that, I’d formed an investigation team with Pochi and Lina, which was why were now at the church site’s basement.
“Good to go down here, Master!”
I had sent Pochi, whose senses operated well in the dark, down the entrance first to evaluate its safety.
“All right, Lina, careful going down.”
We were usually teacher and pupil, but in this party, we were equals. I didn’t want to keep any walls between us outside of class, but Lina ended up taking it as a different hierarchy to fuss over.
“Rise, A-rise, A-rise… Torch!”
“Um… Lina? You do know that you don’t need to imitate that chant, right?”
“That’s right, having just one person doing that lame chant is enough!”
“Hey, that’s my chant you’re calling lame!”
“Ah, I might’ve said too much. Having just one person doing that sloppy chant is enough! How’s that sound!?”
That didn’t make it any better!
And it’s not like I can just up and change it, either… Hmph, looks like I’ll have to straighten up her attitude some time later.
“Pochi, I do like how this chant sounds. So, um… Please don’t be too harsh on Sir Asley, all right?”
What a splendid pupil you are, my girl! I’ll give you a doodle flower on your next exam results! Definitely will!
Pochi was agape with shock for a moment, then shook her head, struggling desperately to accept Lina’s words. Seeing that, I decided to make the doodle flower extra fancy.
And so we started our investigation, with the Torch spell lighting up the vicinity, and Pochi, complete with her still-unaccepting expression, leading the way.
From Pochi’s observation, the passage had no scent of monsters nor other suspecting smells, so we proceeded at a relatively fast pace, in search of an exit.
Before long, we discovered a ray of light shining from the ceiling, through a hole wide enough for one average person to squeeze through.
“Hmm, Reid might not be able to pass through here.”
“A ha ha… My brother might be too large, yes.”
“Pochi, I’m counting on you.”
The path ended here as well. If there was somewhere the monster could have come from, it was here.
Pochi climbed up the hole, then came back in less than a minute.
“That was quick. How’s it look up there?”
“The hole leads to what seemed to be a ruined house. From what I saw, there wasn’t any sign of monsters nearby, but it definitely was the eastern district. If we’re to proceed, I suggest that we be somewhat prepared.”
Now, what to do… But first things first, I equipped the Appraisal Glasses that I’ve kept hanging from my neck and looked at everyone present.
- NAME: Lina
- TITLES: Little Sister, Apprentice Swordsman, Apprentice Mage, Pupil
- LV: 23
- HP: 219
- MP: 191
- EXP: 29,711
- SPECIAL SKILLS:
- Attack Magic (Elementary)
- Support Magic (Elementary)
- Recovery Magic (Elementary)
- NAME: Pochi
- TITLES: The Fool’s Familiar, Advanced Familiar, The Powerful, Great Wolf, Watchwolf
- LV: 100
- HP: 2,700
- MP: 567
- EXP: 9,999,999
- SPECIAL SKILLS:
- Breath Attack (Zenith)
- Air Claw
- NAME: Asley
- TITLES: The Foo, The Polarizing, Hermit Candidate, Mage, Alchemist, Staff Wielder, Six Archmages (Tentative), Teacher
- LV: 29
- HP: 267
- MP: 10,993
- EXP: 43,579
- SPECIAL SKILLS:
- Attack Magic (Skilled)
- Support Magic (Intermediate)
- Recovery Magic (Intermediate)
- Purification (Advanced)
Mm-hm, it’s been a while since I last looked at them, so there have been quite a few changes.
The expected stuff aside, what’s up with that Six Archmages (Tentative) title on my sheet? Well, I do know what it should refer to, but what about its effects? I’d assume it provides some kind of statistic advantages once applied.
“Do we have any plans, Sir Asley?”
“For now, let’s explore as much as we can. When push comes to shove, we’ll have Pochi shield us while we run!”
“Oh, no, you’d make a better shield, Master!”
“If I took away your meat shield function, what’d you have left!?”
Way to prove my point.
“T-then, shouldn’t we be on our way…?”
“You’re so serious, Lina. We’re just joking around, so you don’t have to worry too much, you know?”
“If-if you say so…?”
“Master, this is what being nice is like, yeah? Well, it might be too abstract a concept for you, though~~”
In retaliation to Pochi’s nerve-grating attitude, I flicked her forehead and gestured her to get on with the job.
And just as Pochi had said from her prior investigation, we exited the tunnel to what seemed to be the ruins of a house.
“What is it, Master~~?”
“What could that thing be~~?”
“A Chimera, what else? From its deeper colors and sharper fangs, it’s most likely a stronger version of the one we’d fought previously, the Alpha Chimera!”
“That’s an A-ranked monster, dammit! How can your investigations be so sloppy!?”
“Ha ha ha, I am The Fool’s Familiar, after all!”
Dammit, you and your comebacks…
“What should we do…?”
“It’s fine, Lina. It hasn’t noticed us yet–“
“Ah, it’s noticed us!”
Hey, you can’t just go and ruin my reassurance like that!
“Its roar sounds so… hollow.”
“Aha, just like Pochi!”
“Master! Do you not know what a husky voice is!?”
“It-it’s getting closer!? What should we do!?”
We promptly withdrew from the location, with me carrying Lina away as she cowered in fear.
“Ah, we could’ve just gone back underground!”
“Bah, proposing a good plan all too late, just like the truest of fools would!”
“Hey, you shouldn’t say that! It’ll mess up my stats!”
“Just thinking is enough for the effect, so whether or not I say it doesn’t matter!”
“Ah… The entrance’s caved in…”
I put Lina down and watched from the cover of the rubble for an opportunity to strike.
Still, it was suspicious that I didn’t detect any monster’s presence aside from that one.
“S-sir Asley! T-these are…!”
Hearing Lina’s suppressed shriek, I glanced in the direction that she was looking at.
There, I saw what seemed to be a monster’s bones scattered all over, with various parts damaged or seemingly missing.
“The Chimera must have eaten them all up, yes?”
“Yeah, and those Goblins were most likely trying to escape from it, too.”
“Monsters… eat other monsters…”
Lina held her own shoulders, seeming quite frightened. Now that I think about it, we’d never been able to confirm that kind of information before now.
Couldn’t the monsters have gone outside of town? Or had there been something that prevented them from doing so? Since the structure of the town had made it so that one couldn’t just go around the circumference from the south, I couldn’t have looked into that possibility.
All things considered, the monsters must have been stuck inside by some unknown cause… That was most likely.
“Anyway, looks like we don’t have the option to leave that thing alone now. Pochi, tank its attacks and strike back!”
“I can’t take it on alone with my lowered abilities! Are you trying to kill me!?”
“All right, fine… Rise, A-rise, A-rise! Title Up!”
I cast a support spell on Pochi, increasing the effects of her beneficial titles.
“Mm-hm, I feel quite a bit stronger! Now then… here I go!”
“Be careful out there!”
“Just make sure to provide support, all right? Got that, Master!?”
“It’ll need some time. Again, I’m counting on you.”
Still looking a tad bit worried, Pochi activated her Gigantification and rushed at the Alpha Chimera.
“Lina, support spell!”
“Rise, A-rise! Hype Up!”
“Ahh, Pochi is being pushed back!”
I invoked every intermediate-level attack spell formula into one pentagram. Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Lightning… My original magic spell that transcended the Four Core Elements.
“Now! Elemental Prism!”
A rainbow-colored barrage of elements bombarded down on the Alpha Chimera. At the same time, Pochi unleashed her Air Claw attack from a safe distance.
Gravel and dust scattered far and wide as all four bladed bursts of wind scored direct hits on the Alpha Chimera.
“All right! Great work, Pochi–“
“Ow ow ow…”
Pochi had been bitten on her neck, her usually white belly now stained in dark red.
“All right, Pochi, beg!”
As expected of a dog I’d trained. Her response time was impeccable, just like in that book I’d read about Classical Conditioning.
“Wha-what are you doing!? That’s sexual harassment and power abuse! I’ll sue!”
“Look, just stay like that for a bit… Here, Lina, use a recovery spell on her.”
“Yes, sir… Rise, A-rise! Low Cure!”
I pushed up some of the furs on Pochi’s neck and showed Lina where the wound was.
Lina proceeded to invoke the Low Cure spell, the most elementary of elementary recovery spells, to heal Pochi’s injuries.
It was worth mentioning that Lina had taken just half a day to learn it, whereas I had taken a whole month. If Lina kept at her training, she would surely become an excellent mage one day.
“All right, it’s done!”
Lina smiled ear-to-ear, glad that she had successfully pulled off the restoration process. Hmm, she sure is adorable… in her own way, and neither the little kid’s nor the adult’s kind.
“GWAAAAHH! GRR… GRRRR!!”
“Whoa — It’s still alive!?”
“Ahh!! I’m out of MP, so I can’t gigantify!”
Right, I forgot that she was low on MP.
“Pochi, I’ve come up with a new tactic! I call it ‘Push Through With My No-MP Body’!”
“Master, could you please fight seriously for once!?”
“Eh — I’m serious though?”
“Oh, I see.”
“Ahhhh! It’s almost here!?”
“I gotta resort to some underhanded tricks for this… Come forth, Storeroom!”
I drew a Spell Circle on the ground; unlike the usual, this one glowed with a prominent black light.
I plunged my hand into it and pulled out a bunch of a certain object.
“Pochi, get Lina to safety! Eat this, monster!! OHHHHHH!! DYNAMITES!!”
They were cylindrical artifacts with a fuse attached to each; I threw them, and as some of them hit the Alpha Chimera, I activated the Spell Circles set beforehand for burning the fuses.
The Dynamites detonated successfully, unleashing ear-splitting explosions in a chain reaction.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
The Alpha Chimera was brutally blasted to pieces, its flesh scattering all the way to my feet.
“Justice shall prevail! Huh, why am I not hearing anything? Ahh, my eardrums must’ve ruptured… Rise, A-rise! Middle Cure!”
“What in blazes was that, Master!? It was louder than your snoring! I still got goosebumps from that! Here, look!”
Er, I can’t see anything under all that fur, though.
“What was… that…?”
“That’s a by-product of my afro hair research. Boy, was I young back then!”
“I’ve never seen that hairstyle before, sir. It was from before we met, I assume?”
“What about that black Spell Circle…?”
As expected of my excellent pupil. She’d been watching my actions closely.
“All right, let’s loot the Alpha Chimera and go check out the eastern gate!”
“Um, the black Spell–“
“Lina… let’s just go see the eastern gate for now, yeah?”
“Uuuhhh… Don’t ignore me, Sir Asley!”
Lina seemed frustrated, as seen from her slightly puffing up her cheeks, but in the end, she controlled herself to not press the question further.
As expected of my excellent pupil.