|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3832 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1775 words|
I woke up feeling more refreshed than ever before, even though sleeping in an empty room without beds usually would leave one’s body aching and stiff. But I felt none of that now. After all, I had finally been accepted as their friend, without having to hide anything about myself.
I carefully stood up, making sure not to wake up the others, and stretched. I accidentally groaned doing that, and instantly felt some movement behind me.
They were still half-asleep, rubbing their eyes as they looked at me in a daze. But they quickly came to their senses and looked slightly embarrassed, probably remembering what happened last night. Seeing them like that made me feel ashamed as well. But the lump of worries and issues inside me was completely gone. Everything had been thanks to them. I felt like I had to say something, but I could not think of anything, so we just continued looking at each other with reddened faces. After a while, Selene barged into the room, she had probably been watching us for a while.
“Why are you girls looking at each other like that? Yesterday you didn’t eat anything, so I’ve brought you food. Eat up and get in shape.”
When we looked at the food she brought, we all fell silent. Selene was carrying a large boar that had been freshly killed, blood still dripping from it. She dropped it on the floor, the sound of blood splattering oddly loud. Well…she was a dragon after all. They do not cook, and eating something like that was normal for them.
“You’re welcome. Anyway, it seemed like yesterday there was friction between you…”
Everyone twitched hearing that. The issue had been resolved, but it was still a sensitive topic. It was a bit uncomfortable to think about it again, but Selene did not seem to think about that at all, her face unchanged.
“But whether you want to continue training, or leave and go back home, I don’t mind either way. You should think about it carefully though.”
“Oh…we’ll continue training.”
Hearing my almost instant response, Selene’s brow twitched. We would never leave having come this far. We had resolved our internal issues, so now all we had left to do was focus on training, putting our issues aside. Karin and the others nodded vigorously too, agreeing with me.
“I see. Then feel free to challenge me anytime. We dragons can stay awake and active for long periods, be it an entire day or a month or two. Never hesitate to call me.”
Saying that, Selene left the room.
“…Let’s just focus on butchering the boar and eating it.”
We did not want to dirty the room, so we picked up the boar and took it outside, taking it apart there. We skinned it, then took the carcass apart, and buried all the innards we could not eat. Then we made a bonfire with magic, and placed skewers with meat on it, a savory scent wafting up from it.
The rumbling of a stomach could be heard, and Diaria began scratching her cheek ashamed as all our eyes focused on her. Somehow we all just started smiling after that. Once the meat was ready, we quickly stuffed our cheeks with it, chewing while feeling the meat juices spread in our mouths. We were a bit late to drain the blood, so it was hard to really call it delicious, but it still felt like a feast, eating together again.
§ § §
A month has passed since we arrived here. I was surprised with myself, finding out how adaptable a human body could be. The environment here felt hard to just walk through at first, but now I barely felt it. It used to feel like I was carrying heavy weights all the time, but that was all gone. We had no proper beds, and always slept in a huddle. Our food was composed of animals brought to us which we roasted, and fruits and plants we foraged in the mountain, we had no actual cooked food here. Any royal elegance that still remained on me had completely vanished. Here, only my strength as a living being, or animal, had any value.
But on the other hand, I could actually feel myself getting stronger at a shocking rate. At first we struggled to even leave a scratch on Selene when fighting as a group, but now we could handle her on equal footing. Though it was still four against one.
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“Ciel, Diaria! Back me!”
“On my way!”
Karin and I closed onto Selene, while an arrow and magic flew from behind us. Selene tilted her head to evade the arrow, and stopped the spell with her palm, dispersing it. At first we were surprised to see her do that, but having witnessed it daily, we could anticipate it. Not flinching at all, we continued charging towards her, swinging our weapons from both sides at the same time.
The swords whistled slightly as they cut through the air, but Selene moved swiftly to dodge them. A month ago she would have been able to stop the blades with her bare hands, but we had gotten strong enough that she could no longer do that. It was no exaggeration to say we were in a whole different league now.
We did not rely on our blades alone, but we would also use feints, while weaving in kicks and elbow hits between our attacks, trying to find an opening in her defense. But even so many attacks that would overwhelm any regular human did not seem to have much effect on her. No matter how human-like her appearance was, she truly had a monstrous stamina.
My breathing was synced up with Karin’s, even if we were not looking at each other. Karin lowered her body for an instant, letting an arrow fly past her and graze Selene’s face. Before Selene could recover from that, my left knee rushed in towards her, which was covered in bright flames that ought to have an effect even on Selene.
Trying to stop the blow heading for her stomach, she intertwined both hands and held them against my knee, stopping my momentum. But at the same time, her left leg froze over instantly. It was Ciel’s magic.
Karin’s sword spun again, striking her side. There was not enough force behind it to go through her body, but it still caused a considerable amount of bleeding. We had won. We fought under the rule that a clear blow decided the match, so that was enough for us to win.
“Oh well, you’ve truly grown strong. I hadn’t expected you’d get this strong in such a short time.”
“Well, it was thanks to a certain someone. Sometimes no leniency can have surprising results.”
“Exactly. We’ve just been trying to win against you with all we have.”
Hearing us, Selene shrugged. The tension from the fight eased off, and Selene shattered Ciel’s ice through sheer force. She then attempted to drink a potion, but I stopped her and treated her wound with my healing magic.
“You’ve also gotten better at healing magic, I see. I’d be confident in calling that an intermediate level of healing.”
“So it’s better than the average priest’s? I wonder if learning to use it mid-fight helped me get better.”
Having constant harsh battles, we all had gotten considerably stronger. Our bodies had gotten more resilient and powerful, and our mana and stamina took longer to run out, while we got even more familiar with our skills. Karin and I were still on the vanguard. I was more confident with my sword, while also getting better at fire and healing magic, which were the only types I could use.
Now I could cast either without chanting, and I could manifest flames on my body, making my physical attacks more powerful. Usually using fire magic like that would cause me to get burned as well, even if I was the caster, but if I activated healing at the same time, I was able to nullify the effect on my body. With that, I had obtained a very powerful tool to fight. Most living beings were weak to fire after all.
Then there was Karin. Her mana pool had grown too, and her stamina issues had been solved. On top of that, her ability to mold mana into magic power had gotten better too, letting her use a similar skill to Strengthening. Her past strength could not even be compared to her current one. If I had to be blunt, she was even better than me at handling a sword.
Ciel, she could cast all the spells she knew chantless now, and they were devastatingly more powerful too. Even a low level and simple spell cast by her could overshadow a silver rank magician going all out. On top of that, she could also cast magic of two different elements simultaneously. She really was advancing in strides.
Diaria finally reached her most important goal of being able to summon Behemoth, though it only worked for up to one minute. After that she was out of magic power, which went to show just how powerful he was. Behemoth was terrifyingly powerful, but if her enemy did not fall by the time limit, she would be rendered useless.
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Because of that, she shifted her focus to her archery skills, and getting better at utilizing her spirit armor. Her current skill with a sword was probably at around the same level as mine was before coming here, which was quite powerful for someone in the rear guard.
As for my Master…
Almost in cue, the entire temple shook violently. The shocks from my Master fighting Tiamat further inside the temple could be felt all the way here.
“They’re still going at it.”
“Yeah, I wonder if they’ll be done soon.”
Just like us, my Master was also training hard, but she was fighting Tiamat. At first we were worried seeing her come back beaten up and bruised every day, but she was always smiling, she even said it was fun to move around like that. Hearing her talk like that even though she was fighting the Dragon King just went to show how amazing she was. We were done with our training session, so maybe there was something we could learn by watching them fight too.
I signaled at my friends with my eyes, and they followed me while dusting themselves off.