The three monsters each have a dark aura around them. No doubt about it — they’re Inspirited, given a boost of power by a technique that sacrifices a large number of other monsters.
“Now it’s usable on even B-ranked… no, A-ranked monsters, even.”
“According to Sir Bruce and Miss Betty, there have been sightings of an S-ranked monster, the Ogre Queen, as well.”
Pochi opened her mouth in surprise at Haruhana’s words.
“First the Alphas, and now they’re making THESE enemies stronger, too!? M-M-M-Master! What should we do!?”
“Calm down. These ones aren’t too strong for us. The important question is, how are they here in T’oued? Did they migrate from the War Demon Nation or something?”
“That’s possible. I’ve heard that there haven’t been as many sightings of them back there lately.”
Seeing that Tifa’s been in Beilanea this whole time, I think I can trust her on that. Maybe they’re the monsters Billy and Cleath tested on before they made the Alphas, and they happened to come here after being left in the wild.
I don’t know why Pochi is panicking, considering how strong she is… well, I guess there’s still the factor of uncertainty whenever she meets a new type of enemy.
Tifa and Haruhana, on the other hand, are completely justified in keeping their guard up against the three kings.
“Fwahahaha! What use are some foolish kings in front of this king wolf!? I shall grant you the honor of having your blood and flesh on my claws!”
That sounds disgusting… but it IS what fighting entails, and Tarawo’s certainly got the spirit.
“So, what’re we gonna do, Master?”
As the kings approached, Pochi finally regained her composure and turned to me.
I could just kill them all without breaking a sweat, but that wouldn’t help Tifa and Haruhana at all.
“Pochi, make sure none of them can get away.”
“Aha! Yes, sir!”
Seeming to understand what I was going for, Pochi briefly grinned and jumped high up into the air, landing behind the kings.
Tifa and Haruhana looked at me, their faces painted with doubt.
So, that gigantic zombie, the Zombie King — it usually shows up commanding a large group of Zombie-type monsters, but also can occasionally be encountered by itself. It’s B-ranked, the same level as a normal-sized Fresh Zombie. A gigantic Fresh Zombie would instead be classified as an A-ranked variant called Fresh Zombie King. Well, this one we’re facing can’t be it, though — it’s more decayed, like a normal Zombie would be.
The Ghoul King isn’t quite as large as the Zombie King, but it’s far more well-built and its limbs are long. Moreover, it’s got some of its sharp, broken bones sticking out of its flesh. It’s classified as Rank A for its difficulty resulting from its long reach and high speed.
As for the Orc King… well, it’s not undead, unlike the two others. Its body is covered in golden fur, and it wields a spear. Its attacks are simple, though, so it’s not all that difficult despite its raw strength earning it the A rank classification.
“Hmm, let’s see… Haruhana, see if you can fight all three of them at the same time.”
Haruhana’s eyes widened in surprise. Tifa had a similar reaction, too.
“A-all my myself…?”
I cracked an ear-to-ear smile and said nothing more as I turned to the three monsters.
From what my Appraisal Glasses showed, Haruhana is still level 100, and Tifa is 102. Being able to hold their own against those three Inspirited monsters is sure to give them a good boost of confidence.
This is similar to an experience I had in the past. Back when Lylia and Giorno didn’t particularly trust me, they practically left me to my own devices, too. Pochi and I are supervising this time, though, so things are sure to be much easier than back then.
Still, this is uncharted territory for both Haruhana and Tifa. Most adventurers wouldn’t be willing to — or even ABLE to — do this just because they’re told to. And that’s why I think they need to pull this off.
Now, what will Haruhana do?
I kept watch on Haruhana in a corner of my eye. She gulped down a lump in her throat, narrowed her eyes, and took a step forward.
Despite her strong gaze, her steps were unsteady, and I could see that her shoulders and lips were trembling.
She activated Fortify Strength, Fortify Resilience, and Tempest. Understandable choices.
From what I could tell, all three monsters have been bumped up ALMOST one rank — their abilities are close to hitting the upper limits of their original ranks, but at the end of the day, that means they’re not actually on a higher rank.
Well, looks like they’re not able to achieve a flat increase of one whole rank just yet. Considering that, the enemy must have figured that it was more efficient to create those Alphas, seeing that their potential power was higher than Rank S.
“A-Asley, this is too much for Haruhana alone, don’t you think? Tifa and I ought to join in as well…”
“You’re going to do that as well, by the way, Tarawo.”
Tarawo started shivering, his fangs clattering as he looked around in horror.
“Tifa! My stomach is starting to ache…”
Just in case Haruhana actually found herself in a tight spot, I sent a signal with my eyes to Pochi, and she winked back in response.
Now then, I should take this time to open up the Storeroom and — Oh, Haruhana’s already started the fight by running ahead.
Now that was surprising — I’d expected her to wait for the monsters to come at her. It takes guts to charge on ahead like that. Still, she was fast — it took no time at all for her to close the gap between her and the enemies, and now she was right in front of the Zombie King.
She’s stopped by a swing of the Orc King’s spear. It doesn’t look like Haruhana is going all in on the offense, at least. She’s leaving plenty of space for movement behind her, and is effectively parrying the Ghoul King’s counter attacks while planning her next move as she goes.
The pressure she’s under now is probably heavier than back when she had to face an S-ranked monster by herself. If she’s able to deal with this, though, it’ll prove that she’s also able to fight an SS-ranked monster… Well, not perfectly, but still able.
All the training she’s received from the rest of team Silver has helped her a great deal. She’s still rough around the edges, but it looks like Pochi and I won’t need to help her.
…Oh, now she’s going in for the kill.
When Haruhana was about to stab the Zombie King, I quickly went between them and caught Haruhana’s katana with my hands.
“Wha–!? Sir Asley!?”
“That’s good enough, Haruhana. It’s Tifa’s turn next.”
“Um, behind you…!”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. These guys’ attacks can’t even get through my skin anyway.”
“Y-you’re kidding… right?”
“Well, I’m feeling some teeny tiny pricks, I guess.”
The three kings’ faces looked super hilarious as they kept attacking my back to VERY little effect, and eventually, they stopped.
They proceeded to turn to one another with puzzled expressions, though I wish they’d look at me with faces full of admiration for my tough back muscles instead.
“All right, Tifa, you’re up.”
She’s obviously nervous. But since this will be a good learning experience for her, I’ll have to have her face some hardship head-on.
“No spell casting until you’re close to the enemy. Show me what you got, Tifa, Tarawo!”
“H-he’s fighting, too?”
Tifa’s expression shifted instantly in response to my latter sentence. There’s a hint of disdain in her voice, but she does look worried. I guess all the time they’ve spent with each other has helped to build some trust between them after all.
“Of course. Here, Tarawo, drink this.”
“Hmm!? Isn’t this… the secret potion from back then!?”
“That’s what you were making just now…”
So Tifa has been watching me take stuff out of the Storeroom and brew the potion, huh?
“I did throw it together quite inelegantly, but hey, it should work just fine.”
“Fwahahaha! This is all I need to unleash my true power — the power of a thousand wolves! Mm, mm, mmm! This is delicious! Asley! I shall grant you the honor of being my minion!”
“Cool, thanks, I guess. Rise, All Up & Remote Control!”
I cast my enhancement spells… on the Zombie King. Yeah, it’s quite understandable that they’re surprised.
Man, I might even be the first in the world to ever cast a support spell on a non-Familiar monster.
“Tarawo’s a Familiar, sure, but the two of you going at them at the same time without a handicap wouldn’t be fair to Haruhana, yeah? Don’t worry, I’ll do things to adjust the difficulty so that it stays reasonable — c’mon, go on.”
Tarawo scowled at me, but surely he could not deny the advantage of fighting together with a Familiar.
And now, the potion took effect, unleashing Tarawo’s true power and transforming him from a little Chihuahua to a Garm.
“…Hmph, now I feel much faster!”
“T-that was amazing, Tarawo!”
Haruhana seems quite surprised, but Tifa… not so much. Well, I guess the latter has already seen Tarawo’s original form before they forged the Familiar Contract, so she probably already knew what to expect.
“Fwahahaha! Well said, Haruhana! I shall give you permission to pet me all you want later today!”
Now that’s a lot of arcane energy he’s got — as expected of King Wolf Garm, an A-ranked monster that’s supposed to be close to Rank S.
In that case…
“Rise, Hype Up: Count 2 & Remote Control!”
I cast my enhancement spells… on the Ghoul King and Orc King this time.
“WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT!?”
“Shut up! C’mon, we’re going in!”
Now then, let’s see how strong Tifa has gotten, eh?