|Author: Shizuku||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2364 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1012 words|
“I guess Natalia is still like that, even after all this time.”
“She’s…always been like that?”
“Yes, always. There was a time she let her arm get completely wrecked, just to cover for me when we were together in a party.”
Mir stifles a smile with her hand, thinking back to that time.
“Do you know what she said after that? That she can’t feel pain, and that Ophelia can fix her, so letting her arm be crushed was the correct thing to do. Sometimes I really don’t know what’s going through her head.”
She’s criticizing Natalia, but her voice also sounds kind and slightly pained. That reminded me of someone else who spoke like that.
“Mother also told me she had some dangerous tendencies1…”
That was something she was worried about too, before the curse took her.
“I guess it bothered Ophelia too then.”
She had also been that way when I was kidnapped by slave traders, and when she went to find medicine for my mother. If someone was in danger, Natalia would jump in without regard for her own safety. Maybe that was the right choice for a magic automaton, but no one wanted her to do that.
“But I like her because she’s Natalia, not a magic automaton…”
I mutter that without thinking. I realize what I’m saying too late. Mir is close by, so she hears it clearly.
“Ah, I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant.”
I try to play it off somehow, but I keep tripping on my words. The more I try, the less sense my words make.
“Heheh, I know what you mean.”
I look at Mir in shock, while she just smiles innocently.
“Natalia is Natalia, irrelevant if she’s a magic automaton or a person, or a monster. She’s still Natalia, and my friend.”
Ah, I guess Mir really…
“Watch out ahead, you two!”
Natalia’s voice stops my thoughts, and I instantly ready my fists. Something dashes through the darkness and lunges at Mir.
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Mir tries to swing her sword, but that takes too long and she ends up having to use her hands to stop the monster. But she’s clearly strong as any dwarf, easily holding the monster’s jaws with her hands and throwing it away before it gets to take a bite.
“It’s a Naked Panther!”
Mir shouts that almost immediately. She’s right, the enemy is a monster that looks like a panther without fur. The Naked Panther twists its body in the air, kicking off the wall and lunging while baring its fangs again.
Natalia aims Black Hawk and starts shooting. The bullets travel faster than I can follow with my eyes, piercing the Naked Panther’s four legs. But as any monster, that’s not enough to stop it.
The Naked Panther keeps kicking off the cave’s walls, jumping around wildly.
The Copper Spider creates a sword of dirt from the ground. It doesn’t hit the monster, but it manages to interrupt its movements. While it recovered, Mir swung her longsword. Unable to move out of the way, the Naked Panther receives a heavy blow.
I won’t be careless this time. I carefully gather mana on my fist before I launch one of my best attacks.
“Sparkling Lightning Discharge2!”
A series of punches dig into the Naked Panther’s body, sending various bolts of lightning through its body. According to my father, the best users of this skill can launch a hundred million punches in a single second. But he never got to that level, and I’m way worse than him. But it’s still easy to use, and really strong, so I like it a lot.
The Naked Panther crashes into the ground, then jumps up and darts away into the cave. Natalia tries shooting at it one last time, but it’s too late.
At least we drove it away, and I managed to fight a little3.
The Copper Spider keeps pointing at the direction the Naked Panther ran off to.
“It seems the Mana Crystals are over there.”
Natalia translates, and the Copper Spider nods satisfied. I didn’t get hurt, and Mir shows she’s good too, so Natalia decides to continue into the cave.
Some time later the Float Light produces some sparkles from within the cave’s darkness. Natalia makes the light brighter, revealing a wall covered in crystals. It looks really beautiful, so I think of getting closer, but I notice something wriggling in the ground that makes me stop.
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Natalia, Mir, and the Copper Spider had noticed it too, so we all stayed quiet and looked carefully. The light gets brighter and we see exactly what it is.
First I see a lower body covered in wounds. Before I can identify it, it gets pulled up and swallowed into a tube.
Natalia mutters that out of nowhere, it’s strange for her to be this confused, usually she’s calm.
“What’s wrong Natalia? Man Eaters are monsters that live in the forest. It’s impossible to find one in a cave like this.”
“Ah, no, I’m sorry. Forget I said anything.”
It’s strange, but she quickly snaps out of it and looks up again. It’s a Largemouth Worm. And it probably just ate the Naked Panther. Maybe it was even the one we just chased away.
The monster continues hanging from the ceiling, rolling up into a ball. I start to wonder what it’s doing, and its brown body starts to glow, even brighter than Natalia’s Float Light. I know what that means, I learned about this from my mother and school.
“No way, it’s evolving?4!”
When a monster gathered enough experience, it would often evolve into a superior species. Not much research has been done about it yet, but evolved monsters are always a step stronger than their non-evolved counterparts.
Eventually the light stops, and the rolled up monster falls from the ceiling. There’s a dry sound and a plume of dust, the lump opens and a long neck comes out.
The Greedmega5 Worm roared, making the entire cave tremble.