The labyrinth Blazing Bird Peak was situated in the mountainous region close to the Labyrinth City known as the Five Rings mountain range. The labyrinth itself was the peak of one of the mountains, and the path there as well.
Blazing Bird Peak was not covered in trees, but instead stone and rock. It was impossible to get lost, as one could see their goal with their naked eyes from kilometers away, but the difficulty level was still about the same as Wood Men Fighting Forest.
However, some people were more compatible with a labyrinth’s quirks than others, and Survivors… Or rather, Tianna, felt this all too well here.
“Wind Blade… Dammit! It dodged again!”
All the monsters that appeared here were fire type.
The main monster was called Salamander, a fire breathing lizard with hard scales. The flames it spewed were very intense, but its movements were slow, so it would not be a problem as long as the person fighting it had the power to deal serious damage.
There were also many flame butterflies, insects that spread flaming scales. Their bodies were fragile, so they were not too much of a problem if one was watching out for sneak attacks.
But the monster that was most representative of this labyrinth was the one that gave it its name, the Blazing Bird.
“This thing’s not only fast, but it hits hard too… Be careful when it flies high, that means it’s going to attack from above.”
“I get it, but my magic isn’t very effective here… Ice Shield!”
Tianna cast defensive magic as she responded to Nick, and Karan lifted her Dragon Bone Sword like a shield. The Blazing Bird then went to tackle them with its flame covered body.
The falcon-like monster’s gliding attack was threatening on its own, but when flames were added to the mix, it meant it could easily kill someone who was not ready to deal with it.
Tianna blocked the monster’s charge with her shield, but its defensive power fell just a little short. It thrust its talons against the shield, making a shrill sound, and shattered it.
Karan stepped in front of Tianna just as she was about to be attacked.
The monster could not penetrate Karan’s defense, and flew up high once again.
That was when Nick made his move.
Nick jumped as light as a bird, and ripped the monster’s thin neck with his short sword.
The monster fell towards the ground with a scream of anguish, and Karan finished it off with a slash.
“We did it!”
“Ahh… These flying monsters really are a lot of trouble.”
Mumbled Nick as he wiped sweat off his forehead.
“That’s not all! Ah, geez… The fire magic energy here is too strong! My magic doesn’t work at all!”
“Well, that’s the kind of labyrinth this is.”
Blazing Bird Peak was a dormant volcano, but the area was still filled with fire magic energy. It was not as powerful as the barrier that Nick/Tianna once used, but it still severely weakened water and ice magic. This hit Tianna the hardest.
“Ice Shield not working well hurts a lot… Earth magic really is the best defense around here.”
“But none of us can use it.”
Said Sem in response to Tianna’s complaint.
“Don’t sulk. There are plenty of labyrinths where you can show off your skills, like the Ice Den of the Rakshasa.”
“Sorcerers have to be able to adapt to situations like these. We can do more than most people, so we have to think about more things than most people.”
Said Tianna as she sat down on a nearby rock and drank off her canteen.
“Ah… That’s better… This would be so much harder without Sem’s 《Thermal Insulation》.”
“I don’t want to brag, but it would be almost impossible without some sort of way to deal with the heat.”
“Ah… That’s true. It’s been a lot easier this time.”
Nick agreed, and all the others looked his way with surprised expressions.
“Did you by any chance come here with no protection against the heat? I am sure it is at least forty degrees Celsius.”
Said a surprised Bond.
“It’s not like we didn’t do anything, but we couldn’t rely on magic or use many magic items.”
“So how did you…”
“We covered our bodies in white cloth to reflect sunlight, and advanced slowly to give our bodies the time to adapt.”
“We did bring amulets that temporarily decreased body temperature, but we didn’t have magic items that constantly did it or anything. It was rough…”
Said Nick with a sour tone.
“I’m surprised you could do it at all…”
“Defeating the enemies was pretty easy, because they’re all monsters that can be taken down with physical attacks.”
“But some of them fly.”
“We had a skilled archer and a master with the katana.”
“I get the archer, but unless I’m remembering it wrong, a katana is a curved double-handed sword. It’s not a tool for flying.”
“Yes, but not only is he good when it comes to countering attacks, but he also has a wide range. If the circumstances are right, his slash can reach ten meters.”
“…With a sword? Not magic? Are you talking about an actual person?”
“Yes, I guess.”
“If one can master a technique, their attacks can carry magic energy. Is this what you are talking about?”
Bond interjected, and Nick was confused.
“No, none of them can use magic.”
“It is not quite a magic technique. It is just that when one perfects a skill, that sort of ability awakens inside them in rare cases, apparently.”
“Apparently? You don’t sound too confident.”
“Martial arts tend to be very secretive… Many refused to show or tell me anything since they knew I can trace sword techniques, so there was a lot I did not know.”
“But it is a fact that some people gain the ability to control magic energy as they master martial arts, so there are indeed completely different approaches aside from regular magic.”
“But what does… Ah.”
A look of surprise was frozen on Nick’s face.
“Did you notice?”
“Stepping. But that’s something I use to control my own body. Can it be applied to weapons or flying tools?”
“It does not have to be exactly the same. It just has to be basic magic that is not useful on its own but has been perfected.”
Nick started thinking with a serious expression, which was soon replaced with a sour one.
“What is the matter?”
“…I was thinking about going there to ask, but it’d be hard.”
Everyone seemingly understood. Nick’s exit from All Martial Arts was not a pleasant one.
“Let’s just take a break and rest our bodies and minds. How about we restart in an hour?”
Everyone nodded, although the length did seem strange.
Tianna expressed her doubt.
“Isn’t that too long?”
“The altitude is beginning to be too much… We should rest after every fight. The air is getting thin, and our stamina will drain quickly.”
Blazing Bird Peak was the easiest to climb in its mountain range, but the second tallest. The trick to conquering it was to advance slowly and without rushing.
“You don’t seem all that tired… Ah.”
“It’s not just Sem’s Good Walker, you’re using Light Body too.”
“Ah, you caught me. I only use it on harsh hill roads.”
“Good for you.”
Said Karan as she looked at Nick with envy.
“Do you want to learn? I guess it’d take longer for non-humans, and you’d have to learn both the magic and how to control your body in a way…”
“I’ve thought about that, but it’s not my thing.”
“Not your thing?”
“You heard me. It’s not just because it would be hard, it’s just not the sort of thing that would suit me. So…”
Nick repeated back to her, and she shrugged.
“As frustrating as it is, I’m going to leave this one to you. I’ll make up for it next time.”
“Oh well, you can rely on me from time to time.”
Said Nick with a slightly sarcastic smile.