“Let me introduce myself again. My name is Asley.”
“Mm-hm, I’ll call you Ash, then. Pleasure’s mine~~”
Ash? Really? A nickname right off the bat? I don’t think she’s older than I… and by that, I meant my acknowledged age instead of my true one, of course.
Come to think of it, this person-
“So, looks like those guys bolted out? Calling it a day because they’ve been humiliated enough?”
“That would be for the best for them.”
“And where are you going?”
“I’m not all that eager to, but I’m going to hunt the Murder Tigers.”
“…Sounds fun. Mind if I tag along?”
“You’re welcome to, of course.”
As I said that, Melchi patted her wizard hat and straightened it up.
We went over to Duncan, and then I pointed at Hornel’s request paper in his hand, asking to take it instead.
“May I take that?”
“You will? Hmm… Pochi isn’t here today, is she? Maybe you should wait for one of The Silver to come along?”
“I’ll be fine. Melchi here has offered to help, and I’ve already planned some ways to escape if things go south.”
“…All right♪ I’ll leave it to you two, then~~ We don’t have an estimate of their numbers in the area, so be extra careful. You probably don’t have to worry much, though♪”
Duncan applied the stamp of approval on the request paper and passed it to me.
Once we were outside, Melchi leaned her head closer and sparked a conversation.
“Hey, Ash, why’d you not call me Mel? I said you could call me that, didn’t I?”
“I don’t feel comfortable doing it, so I’ll just call you by your full name for now. I think this kind of thing needs some time.”
“Hm~m… You need time, eh?”
What the- did her eyes just shine for a second there…?
…Or was it just my imagination?
“Well, whatever… Let’s hurry and hunt those Murder Tigers, yeah?”
“Yes, of course.”
According to the sighting reports, the Murder Tigers were in the forest to the north-east.
And of course, we were sure to meet other monsters along the way.
“200 meters ahead, three Dile Fighters, and ten Jamming Killer Bees behind them.”
“Yes – Fire! Rise, Fire Pillar!”
“Ash, Earth Blast would have been more effective, you know~~”
“Ah… all right, then.”
The Dile Fighter was a harpoon-wielding crocodile-like creature, and the Jamming Killer Bee was a variation of the Killer Bee that could disrupt Circle drawing with their buzzing, making it a natural enemy of mages.
What Melchi had pointed out was that, to deal with Killer Bees. It would be more effective to use Earth Blast, which attacks with shattered pieces of earth, than Fire Pillars, which only rises up from the ground.
And when I considered their evasion rates against both methods, Melchi’s suggestion was correct.
But she’d been leaving all the fighting up to me so far… what could be going on in that head of hers?
Moreover, she could detect monsters from an abnormally long distance.
Her ability did mesh well with my tactics, so I won’t complain, but it would surely cause coordination issues within normal parties.
“170 meters ahead – looks like trouble. Fresh Zombie detected.”
That was a B-ranked monster, a rare variation of the Zombie that had turned from a newly-dead corpse. It boasted particularly high speed.
Normal Zombies weren’t able to move quickly due to the decay on their bodies, but Fresh Zombies’ corpses were relatively unwounded, after all.
Add with Zombies already possessing above-average strength, the speed they could achieve was abnormal. It was reasonable for Melchi to consider it a trouble right off the bat.
I readied my staff, but Melchi stood in front of me, warming up by spinning her arms. Then she grabbed her neck and moved head around, giving cracking sound as she went. An action totally unfitting for her stature, to the point that she looked a bit scary.
“Mmm… Yup! Figured I’d take it down myself.”
After one last stretch, Melchi poised for action in a low stance.
The Fresh Zombie drew twenty meters closer, and as it caught Melchi in its sight, leapt right to where she was in a single bound. But by then, Melchi had already disappeared from her original position, and as I saw where she was now, she had the Fresh Zombie’s head in her hand.
Melchi dropped the head onto the ground, letting it roll to my feet.
“Nahahaha, I’m feeling real flattered here, y’know~~”
“Melchi… you’re a warrior? From your clothes, I took you for a mage…”
“Nuhuhuhu, you say some strange stuff, yeah, Ash? Whoever said adventurers need to classify as one or the other? Or is that just so… customary because the Nation propagates it as fact? People who are battle mages or magic sword fighters are gonna insist otherwise, though.”
“Ngh…… Well, I suppose that’s reasonable.”
Now that I thought about it, didn’t the mage-or-warrior classification work this way just because it has traditionally been this way? As seen with my appraisal magic, ‘mage’ also served as a part of other titles. And there wasn’t even a standalone ‘warrior’ title.
Although I had grown up in a lower class for ten-odd years, the ‘customary assumption’ had definitely existed. Oh, I see… ruling over the way of thinking of the populace by manipulating customs, huh…
In which case, would that mean anyone could be a battle mage if they wanted to, for instance? Well, not quite, I think… Did Melchi mean to say that the way people use the classification was incorrect in itself? …But then again, what was Melchi’s opinion regarding this matter, even?
“Oh-ho, so you’re not bound by the contract of the Black and White Chain after all, what with you showing acceptance toward what I said. For a Magic University student, you’re quite an interesting fellow, Ash.”
Strange – there shouldn’t have been any clause on the contract that concerned the subject Melchi and I had been conversing about.
I wasn’t bound by its terms, sure, but considering her reaction to my answer, did it mean that she knew what the extreme sections of the contract were?
Seriously, this person… who in the world is she?
I activated my Appraisal Glasses, and was utterly shocked by the information that appeared before my eyes.
- NAME: MELCHI
- TITLES: ???
- LV: ???
- HP: ???
- MP: ???
- EXP: ???
- SPECIAL SKILLS: ???
I couldn’t read any of her statistics?
Panicking, I tried using it again to look at my own page.
“Still works fine on yourself, right?”
I gulped down a lump in my throat.
As Melchi had stated, I had been able to look at my own statistics just fine. However, I knew for certain that Melchi had noticed the invisibility coating of my Appraisal Glasses, and had even read the timing of its invocation.
Or rather, it may be more correct to say that she had seen through it.
“Now, let’s leave that talk for later, Ash. Priority on hunting the Murder Tigers, right? Don’t worry, I won’t bail on you.”
She had me totally rounded up… or perhaps not, but either way, it was true that we ought to prioritize the Murder Tigers. I had a reason to hurry.
“L-Lina! Bring out Baladd!”
That’s right – because I had to rescue them.
“Rise, A-rise, A-rise! House!”
Hornel and Lina stuck together, battling their enemies from a distance, with Idéa and Midors holding the front line.
There were five of the ashen Murder Tigers. Their combat prowess were considered higher than Rank A when they fight in packs.
“Is that… a Ballad Dragon? So that’s it – the rich boy might have felt confident that they would win with her on their side.”
“Well, no, I dare say Baladd is going to…-“
The image of Lina trying to command Baladd was reflected in our eyes as we ran up to her team.
“Ukyah~ Wait fur me, wait fur me!”
“…So uncivilized. The dragon’s chasing the enemy down all right – but just one of them. Who would’ve thought it’s not old enough to read the flow of battle?”
Baladd’s combat strength may be menacing, but she could only chase down one of the Murder Tigers due to their swiftness. It would be another story if there were walls to restrict their movement, but since she hasn’t gotten used to fighting on the front line, just one was the best she could do now.
Four versus four.
A B-ranker and three C-rankers on one side and four Murder Tigers on the other side.
And with the latter being difficult for mages to deal with, simple calculations indicate certain defeat of the former.
“Hype Up! I’ll make an opening. Fire!”
“I’ll take one down! Hah!”
…What an amazing girl. Is she seriously following right behind the accelerated Fire shot just like that?
Perhaps the range was too great, as the Murder Tigers dodged the Fire easily enough, letting it hit the ground instead. Reacting to the impact, Hornel turned around.
And of course, Hornel saw only me.
Right as the flame died out, Melchi delivered an intense kick from the sky to the crown of the head of the front-most Murder Tiger, so swiftly that no one had seen her coming.
The kick smashed the monster’s head, the breaking sound calling everyone’s attention to the girl who gently hopped down from the Murder Tiger’s skull.
“All right, I’ve filled my quota. It’s up to you now, yeah, Ash?”
“Wait fur me, wait fur me-!”
…And that Murder Tiger is looking quite pitiable, in a way.
Baladd, the one so innocently chasing it around, was also a kind of monster, after all.
“Midors, defence augment on yourself!”
“Idéa, quickening on Midors!”
“I know, I know!”
“Hornel, follow Idéa!”
“Lina, support everyone accordingly!”
I’d made the right choice to order Midors first, as I had expected him to be the slowest to respond.
He made his move after Idéa’s response to me. As for Hornel, I reckon he’d followed me so easily only because he’d been taken by surprise.
“This should do it! Guard Up!”
“We’re counting on you, Midors! Speed Up!”
“Idéa, get down! Regeneration!”
“-and here! Midors, Regeneration!”
“Good, Lina! Hornel, stall and make them focus on Midors! Idéa, quickening on Baladd!”
“Don’t make light of me! Fire Wall!”
Hornel’s decision was quick and effective, as expected of him. Walls of fire instantly propped up on both of Midors’ sides. This will make attacks on Midors more focused.
“Midors, focus on only your front!”
“Kuh – Hah! Daahh!!”
“Idéa, don’t let them over the Fire Walls!”
“Speed Up! You’re such a slave driver, you know that!?”
“Idéa, I’ll take the left!”
“Hornel, watch everyone’s injuries-“
“I know! Damn it…”
All right, now everything is coming into shape. Putting Baladd in Midors’ role would have been optimal, but…
“Ukyah-! I caught it, Master Lina!”
…Looks like she still has much to learn.
All right, it’s done.
“Enemy Trap! Gravity Stop!”