Chapter 32 Forest of Rotting Souls (5)
Avoiding the strike from the legs of the skeleton, I closed the distance between us along with Mururu. It must be trying to prepare for a big magic attack. After having its tail destroyed, the skeleton’s movements have become dull.
The restraining barrage of magic also lessened, and it was just frantically attacking us with its legs. Me aside, there’s no way it could strike Mururu with attacks like that. It’s eight legs were still in full health but it’s rib-like bones were in tatters.
But even then, it wasn’t using magic right now. But at the same time, even though it was getting attacked by Mururu so much, it did not leave a gap for me to close in on it. Had my own movements gotten duller? Or was it simply cautious against me? While wielding the hammer, I clicked my tongue for the nth time as my attack was thwarted again.
[What happened, Renji?]
My breathing got rougher. Before I knew it I had run out of breath. And to think that I was actually quite proud of my stamina.
While holding the hammer with both hands, I glanced at my right hand. That wound. The fact that I have stopped feeling pain from it means it really must be turning very dangerous. That alone made me feel like giving up, but I couldn’t do that just yet. I ended up strangely laughing instead at that. Seriously…….. Why do I always get involved in such troublesome things? Do I just have bad luck, or am I being haunted/possessed by something? The fact that I could actually think of something /someone like that, I was left speechless.
“You’re worried about me?”(Renji)
“I’ll be fine. I hate fighting, but I don’t plan on losing.”
When I said that, I could feel surprise coming from Ermenhilde. This one is so easy to understand. Maybe that’s why, it’s my partner.
I don’t plan on losing. I cannot lose.—– if I did, I will die. I’ll pass on dying inside this remote forest.
“This is why I hate duking it out with monsters.”
“It’s nothing. Let’s go, Ermenhilde—–”
I gave a glance towards Mururu, and without any need to talk, we both charged towards the skeleton together.
The skeleton is definitely concentrating more on me, I can feel it.
I avoided it’s attack that could split opening round. Next, I use my momentum to quickly close in on it but, it used its other leg and swung an attacked towards me. I blocked this attack with the handle of my hammer.
The force behind it was incredible, at the same time my right hand hurt again. Due to this one attack, I was quickly distanced away from it again. It’s a blessing that I don’t get blown away like from the attack of the tail but, there is simply too much of a gap in the physical strength of monsters and humans. The fact that we still have two win this is exactly what makes this difficult. If we hadn’t been split away from Aya and the others, I wouldn’t have hesitated even a second before running away from an opponent of this level.
While I was taking on it’s attack, Mururu to close the distance with the skeleton and slashed at its body. Those sharp claws shaved off the bone and created cracks on it. We’re definitely, slowly, driving it towards a corner. At a single glance I could tell the amount of wounds had grown on the skeleton’s body.
But even then, somewhere deep in my mind I was still feeling a bit of unease. Will an enemy as strong and fearsome as this go down so easily. There is no way that would happen.
“yeah, no problem here. You?”
Mururu, who had appeared beside me before I could realise, asked me that.
Her worried gaze as she looked up towards me made me feel a bit awkward/embarrassed.
Mururu as well was starting to run out of breath. On looking closely, I realised that her pure white clothes and hair had become dirty. There were small bleeding wounds here and there on her white skin as well.
I really want this fight to end soon, so that she can take a bath at least. Though, if a guy like me said it, I’ll be treated like a pervert.
As we stood together, the skeleton stored moving and just assessed situation probably because it was cautious of both of us being together. Even when it is about to use magic, it did give off any specific sensation.
“I can still go on.”(Mururu)
“then, I’ll take on its attack. Just like before, you close in and strike at it.”
“….. You sure?”
“Yes, I will be fine.”
She must have realised from the irregularity in my voice. Not just her gaze, even her voice sounded worried. To give her a sense of relief, I gave a smile……. Though I hope my lips aren’t cramping.
It can be helped. I don’t have much experience of giving a smile while being aware of it. I don’t know how she took my smile that I gave while glaring at the skeleton, I did feel that Mururu calmed down a bit.
“Let’s just finish this already. I’m starting to get tired of this.”
[You guys really lack a sense of tension, you know…….]
“As if I’d get tensed from a danger of this level.”
Both me and Mururu gave a slight smile at Ermenhilde’s words.
It’s not like we’re facing some overpowered monster, there is no way I’ll feel tensed. The skeleton is definitely above my skill level, but I know monsters far stronger than this shitty skeleton.
It might sound strange but fighting and extremely strong enemy adds to your experience. And I have definitely fought monsters that are much much stronger than this skeleton. That experience, the fact that I was able to survive against those monsters, is one of the very few weapons I possess.
In the first place, it’s not like I have any other actions to choose from. I cant avoid this skeleton’s attack, and that skeleton only aims for me. Then, I can only act as bait. It’s not really different from our original strategy. Well, it’s so amateurish that it really can’t be even called a strategy though.
Once again, I ran towards the skeleton with Mururu. As expected aim was still me as those spiderlike legs came towards me. I took on that attack, and averted it. At the same time, Mururu closed in to deal in an attack. But this time the enemy is way of protecting was different. Suddenly, a chill ran down my spine and I had a bad premonition.
The next moment, the ground beneath Mururu rose and attacked by becoming spears of stone. But as if she had already seen through that attack, Mururu use those protruding Spears as foothold and made a leap. And with that momentum dealt a attack to the skeleton’s head. What agility! So this is what it means to be left speechless.
It’s not like she has some kind of cheat like us either. There are few who are able to fight like that even then. Even if she is a beast woman, that was really incredible.
But, I can’t just stand here amazed. The magic that attack Mururu activated once again even while it took damage.
Don’t ask the fucking impossible!!
I was able to avoid a direct hit but, my left leg got cut. This is getting really ridiculous, that shitty skeleton. Can go invisible, can use magic, and is also a fucking descendant of the Demon God.
While frowning from the pain in my leg, I avoided the second and the third spear. Just when I was thinking that it was only attacking from below, an invisible magic ball was fired towards me. Unable to sense that surprise attack, I blocked it with my hammer’s handle only to get blown away. Fortunately it hit the handle, but I won’t get lucky the second time. I quickly stood up, and began running. For the time being, I must keep on moving otherwise I’ll get killed by getting pierced by those spears. My newly wounded leg also hurt but I decided to ignore it.
Mururu was moving even better than me but even she was unable to find a chance to close in. Stone spears and invisible magic balls, and even attacks from the eight bone legs. She’s facing an even worse situation than me, it’s amazing that she is still avoiding any direct hit.
I was a bit bewildered due to the sudden fierce attack but, the enemy doesn’t get time to relax either. After all, it had also taken quite a lot of damage. I put more strength in my arm holding the hammer. I must get in an attack somehow. And finish it off.
I questioned myself. It’s attacks were fierce, I won’t be able to slip through all that. Now that my left leg is hurt as well, I am in a situation where even running is difficult. Even though I’ll get killed if I stopped, I need to find a way to kill my opponent as well.
[……. Are you, okay?]
“Do I look like okay?”
Without answering to Ermenhilde’s worries, I questioned it back instead. I only got silence in reply. It’s only normal. After all, my right hand is in a condition where I cant even feel the pain from my own, not to mention the amount of small wounds on my body are only growing in number. And one of the newest wounds on that list is on my legs that is pretty much my lifeline right now. Now I’m not even sure how long I can continue moving around.
It’s now or never right now. But then again, I only have 4 of my covenants released. It’s far from satisfactory. Against a descendant of this level, I’m not sure if this much power would be enough to take it down.
“But, of well, I can’t give either anyway.”
I can’t lose. I must not lose here.
Even in such a deadly situation, I cannot give up. I must face it on. To not get killed, I must kill it first. I must continue fighting.
Even though I hate that style of living. Even though that lifestyle is similar to that of a hero from which I had run away.
I’m being made to take up that style living once again.
It’s the situation Ermenhilde has always been wishing for. But that Ermenhilde was currently being worried for me rather than focusing on the enemy skeleton. If you’re going to proclaim yourself as just a weapon, then don’t hold emotions like that, seriously. That’s why I don’t want to see you as just a weapon. And if you wish for the Hero Yamada Renji, then just put all your trust in me.
But I who never believes in absolute victory—–am definitely not a Hero.
Me and Ermenhilde. We are neither a Hero nor a weapon. We’re just a pair of a human who killed a God and his partner who completely trusts in him.
That’s all, I want. That’s how it should be.
I faced the skeleton. His empty eyesocket’s glare pierced through me.
In its supposedly non-existent gaze, I could feel it confident of its victory. Even though its just a mere skeleton.
“Don’t underestimate me, you fucking skeleton.”
The next moment, its left half along with its four legs disappeared in a ray of heat. At the sudden appearance of the intense blinding light, I used my left hand to cover my eyes. That magic attack bore through the ground, split the clouds and pierced the heavens above. In this world where sun had already set, the radiance of midday sun appeared for a few seconds. There was only one in this whole world who could use a magic of that level of power. I did trust in them but…….finally confirming their safety, I truly felt relieved. All that happened in an instant but was definitely real. Having lost its one half, the skeleton fell to the ground. It felt as if it was an animal bowing towards a powerful being. Well, the powerful being here is not me though.
“As usual, she’s really flashy.”(renji)
I only replied that to Mururu’s mutterings.
I started walking towards the fallen skeleton. It didn’t try to attack me with magic any more. You need to concentrate a lot to use magic. Having lost four of its legs, even as a skeleton, it should be difficult for it to concentrate properly.
Feeling not even a shred of sympathy for that skeleton, I went close to its head and raised my hammer.
It’s one horned ogre-like skull rose up slightly as it looked straight at me.
And just like that, without saying anything, I crushed it’s head.
No matter how harsh the battle had been, the end is always like this. No sense of excitement, completely anticlimactic. If a movie had such a finale, it would be at the level that the audience would start asking for their money back. This is even more so against monsters. Since we cannot understand each other’s words, there is no reason to even ask for their last words.
Remaining in the same pose after ringing my hammer down, I breathed a sigh.
[That’s the first thing you have to say?……..]
“But it’s very typical of me to do so right?”
[It’s pathetic…….. How deplorable.]
The hammer disappeared by turning into Jade coloured magical energy, and my body lost all its strength. With the descendant of the Demon God dead, most of my released covenants closed again. It really is pathetic.
The skeleton turned to black mud and disappeared into the ground. It’s the same as the previous descendants of the Demon God I had fought. After confirming it till the very end, finally I sat down on the ground.
“That attack, was that you Renji?”(Mururu)
“That wasn’t me. It was Aya.”
On seeing the hole at our camp, I had realised that they were underground but I never would have thought that she would fire magic from underground. There was a chance that either Mururu or me would have also get hit by it and have half of our bodies blown away.
Thinking that made me shudder but, well, all is well that ends well. Let’s leave it at that. If I started pondering too much on that, I’ll probably become unable to sleep.
Beside the hole that had been created from the magic attack that had destroyed the skeleton, both me and Mururu sat down. By the way, the size of the hole was 2 m in diameter. Both me and Mururu would have definitely perished if that attack had grazed us even a little……. I should stop thinking about that. It’s bad for my heart.
[…… What are you two, peas in a pod?]
“We aren’t that similar.”(Renji)
Having run out of things to talk to, we both silently just stared at the hole.
After fighting so hard, almost dying, yet not giving up…….. In the end, Aya just ended it all with a surprise attack out of nowhere.
I’ve always thought about it, somehow I feel like I always end up in such a situation.
Even after fighting so hard, the best portion/role is taken away by Souichi or Aya, or my other comrades. No, well, I’m satisfied as long as I survive though.
While I’m thinking of this, Mururu, who was sitting beside me, looked towards me.
“Was I good?”(Mururu)
“Yeah, you were great. Well done.”(Renji)
I lightly patted her head in the same way I used to do Aya and the others back then.
Her smooth and silky hair felt nice.
[What are you doing?]
“Just felt like it.”
While spent time like that, I heard voices coming from the new hole.
After waiting for a while, finally a slender arm reached out. Mururu went on guard but, I recognised that hand. When I held it and pulled, I saw a familiar face. After seeing that face, I finally, from the bottom of my heart, felt really. Her soft and gentle arm was really girlish. On pulling her out of the hole, she was completely covered in dirt. Not just her clothes, her hair and face as well. And above all, her clothes were sticking to her body very closely. But Ms Francesca has an amazing body, so frankly speaking, it was a very tempting view.
“So you’re safe, Ms Francesca?”(Renji)
Averting my gaze from her dirty, yet alluring figure, I asked her so.
“You really should stop with the ‘-sama’ already.”
After pulling Ms Francesca, next, Feirona appeared from the hole. He was the same as Ms Francesca, completely covered in dirt and soil. His clothes were wet as well. Did they fall into some underground water body or something?
“Aya-dono is pushing us up with her magic.”
So Aya used flight magic on these two to bring them out of the hole. She really is skilful. Neither of them had any visible wounds either. There just covered in mud. It’s amazing how she was able to make both of them come out of the hole uninjured without hitting any rocks even once when she probably doesn’t even have any source of light underground.
Last one should be Aya herself. As I pulled Feirona out as well, he uses hands to wipe away the dirt from his hair and clothes. He looks good even while doing something like that. Though, he failed it actually moving the dirt.
“We were worried because you suddenly disappeared, you know.”(Renji)
“We got attacked by monsters. And above all, the ground rumbled below us just when we were stuck.”(Elf)
“so it seems. It’s quite a big hole.”
As I said that while recalling the hole at the campground, Ms Francesca became pale faced.
Well, the fact that you survive even after falling from such a hole, I would say that you guys are really lucky.
“And there was a huge army of slimes underground as well. It was great that Aya-sama was with us.”(Francesca)
[……. Slimes, eh.]
Both Mururu and Ermenhilde muttered at the same time.
Slimes. Unicellular organisms with jellylike soft bodies. Physical attacks don’t affect them much. They are like natural enemies to me and Mururu. It seems Mururu was also aware of that fact has she muttered the name in an annoyed voice.
I as well, do not have good memories regarding slimes either.
Even though it’s the lowest class of monster in games, its actually pretty troublesome in the real-life.
Swords and spears to not work but flaming torches or magic attacks are effective. It’s body fluids have various effects ranging from poisoning or paralysing enemy to dissolving the armour worn and lowering the person’s defence. Due to that, I can’t even count how many times I saw hell. Especially, due to the women in our group.
As I recalled the various tragedies brought upon me by slimes, Feirona’s sight turned towards my right arm.
“It seems you guys had your own fair share of trouble as well.”
He said that as he looked at my wounds. As if finally seeing my condition, Ms Francesca gasped as she hid her mouth with her hand.
“Yeah, I came close to dying. I only survived thanks to Mururu.”
Mururu puffed her chest with pride. It was so charming that all three of us started laughing.
Finally, the slender arm appeared from the hole.
“yokkoi, sho!” (T/N: I don’t know how to translate this. It’s basically like a grunting sound or ‘heave-ho’ you do when you do something that strains your body.)
I really don’t think a young girl should be speaking like that.
Aya, who appeared from the hole, was the same as the other two, covered in mud and dirt. The dirt must have stuck due to the liquids from the slimes.
Normally she always looks dignified and has an adult like beauty but her current face was very childish.
“That’s quite the face you have there.”
When I said that, she silently began going back into the hole. She sure is fast, I ended up giving a tsukkomi inside my head. Are you a mole?
“C’mon, come out already. We need to prepare for camp as well.”(renji)
I grabbed her wrist and pulled her out. Without resisting much, Aya came out easily. The reason she felt so light must be because I properly used the edge of the hole as a scaffold and actually used some strength. She came out so easily, it was a bit anticlimactic.
Since it’s her, she must have not wanted to be seen covered in dirt so I was sure she would resist. Just l8ike how she looks like an adult, she also despises to be seen when she’s weak.
She doesn’t want to be always seem like a perfect being but she tries to always show her stronger side, I think.
“I’m—-wait, Renji-san, you’re injured!?”(aya)
“Yeah. Mururu as well.”
Aya started touching my wound without any restraint making it hurt more. I had already done some basic emergency treatment so the wound had already bled so much that the cloth wrapped around it was dyed in red. The wound is not that big but it bled quite a lot. While I was thinking that, suddenly, my legs lost all strength. Huh, without understanding what happened, I fell on my backside.
Ermenhilde’s voice seemed distant. And her voice wasn’t worried over the fact that I had fallen but was confused because it didn’t understand why I suddenly fell.
Even I, myself, am not sure why this is happening. Just when I was thinking that, this time, my whole body lost strength.
After defeating the skeleton, meeting up with my comrades, I must have relaxed myself too much. How pathetic. To faint from just that much.
I tried apologising but only my lips moved without releasing any sound.
After moving my lips uselessly a few times, even doing that felt annoying.
I closed my eyes.
The world went completely dark.
—-Someone was shaking me. That voice was reverberating like an echo but I can’t make out what it means.
That’s why, I let go of my consciousness.