“Uh~ Youma. Do we really have to do this?”
Elinalise voices her desperation.
“Yes, you must”
It wasn’t a faked cry. She really was showing rejection to the idea. But she knows that she has to do it and that is why she isn’t denying my proposal more forcefully.
“Let’s go Elinalise. We don’t have much time. Or maybe you don’t want me to accompany you”
“I-I’ll do it”
We were now heading into the Adventurers Guild.
Her trembling body told me perfectly of her fear. She grabs my clothes tightly and hides behind my back.
She knows I will really leave, so she has to do it.
My weapon will probably be completed in 5 days. At that time, I will leave this city immediately, no matter if she hasn’t finished here.
In this state, we arrive at the social section of the Adventurers Guild where the request board is.
As soon as we arrive, a number of gazes turn at us. No, they were specifically looking at the person behind me.
I could feel her grip growing tighter.
I tried to soothe her a bit, but the voice of a rowdy man cuts me off.
“Oh, what’s this? You brought a man now. Hey dude, don’t know how this girl seduced you, but you better steer clear. All her party members have been severely injured or died. Who knows, maybe rocks will rain down this time”
Laughter resounds in the area. I didn’t find it funny and don’t know how they can laugh at that. At the death of what were supposed to be adventurers like them.
I take a step forward, pulling Elinalise along.
“Oy oy. Are you running now?”
He makes a useless provocation.
I am surprised she was able to get a party last time in this environment.
I just move to the request board.
There isn’t only quests there but parties looking for members.
There, an assistant is standing to arrange the respective members.
“Good morning. I am looking for a party that needs a mage”
I have Elinalise ask her.
The assistant makes a complex expression and moves to check her documents.
As we wait for the assistant, a big hand is placed on my shoulder.
“Dude, that’s a futile attempt. No party wants her now. She is a black cat”
The same man. You really have too much free time on you.
“Mind your own business”
I brush off his hand.
“Tch! I am trying to help you out here! A comrade of mine died because she entered her damn party!”
He grabs my shoulders and shakes me with bloodshot eyes.
I could feel the face of Elinalise pressing on my back and a humid sensation.
I really hate this kind of moods.
“How high of you. Thanks for telling me all this, but I still decided to follow her while knowing. I don’t care what circumstances you had. But I have already decided on it”
“Tch! Do whatever you want. I did warn you!”
Noticing he wouldn’t be able to convince me, he pushes me off and does one last glare at the person at my back before going off.
When he was a bit away, Elinalise releases her grip and bows deeply to the man.
“I am truly sorry for what happened to your comrade!”
Her face was filled with tears that were dripping down the floor. Her face hidden by her hair.
She could only apologize. It felt like she wanted to say more, but she couldn’t find the words and could only lower her head and apologize.
The man contorted his face at this sight and just clicks his tongue one last time as he turns back.
It felt like he wanted to pick a fight but since the rules in the Adventurer Guild are so strict, no one is able to touch us right now.
It was really hard to find a party. We were introduced to several party leaders and they all outright rejected us the moment they saw Elinalise. Her face was already known throughout the whole Adventurer Guild.
I could see Elinalise grow more and more dejected as the parties refuse her.
In the end, after a total of 8 parties rejecting her, one party accepted. But…
“Oh burooo! Long time no see hermano, soul, brethren! How have you beeeen?!”
The leader was an incredibly annoying type.
A guy with a bandana and spiky short hair, holding a spear in plain view. His armor is light and reeks of newbie.
He is acting overly friendly as if he knew me.
“What with those eyes of “Do I know this weirdo?””
Wow, is he an esper? He even guessed the adjective.
“Its me, me! Don’t you remember?!”
“Is this a scam?”
I honestly asked with suspicious eyes.
Ryan grabs his chest with both hands and makes a pained expression while saying “To think my bro has forgotten me…”
I don’t even remember having a bro.
“Its me, Ryan! The kindhearted person that helped you in the request board. The one that thought about your well-being and invited you to my party”
“I’m no scammer! See? My level is 16 now. 10 whole levels in 2 weeks. Awesome right? And here are my party members”
Hmmm… I leveled close to 20 levels in 2 weeks, so I am not really sure if I should consider his feat impressive.
And I just cant believe him even with a party. But it’s true that we don’t have the luxury of choosing right now.
“Anyways, to think that you chose the Black Cat over me. I am hurt”
He turns the topic to Elinalise.
She places herself further behind me, but Ryan didn’t mind that and just makes a turn to my back. And Eli runs to the opposite side. And, that’s how a game of catch the mice began around my body.
Ironically, the “Black Cat” was playing the mice here.
“Youmaaa stop him~”
“Kitty kitty let me see you properly~”
I feel like this will be a very tiring day.
After the party introduced themselves, we decided on the quest to take and headed to the Forest of Beginnings.
The party consists of:
[Frank <Level:17> <Warrior>]
[Julee <Level:18> <Archer>]
[Alfred <Level:17> <Warrior>]
[Ryan <Level:16> <Spearman>]
[Elinalise Freyhart <Level:25> <Mage>]
If I have to gauge the basic level of a normal person, these levels are pretty low. Practically the minimum level a person should have at their age.
That Ryan was level 6 two weeks ago is clearly because he is a lot younger than everyone here.
Actually, isn’t it forbidden to leave one’s hometown until they are at a set age?
Oh well, I did leave the gates at level 1, so maybe they are lax about that rule.
Ryan makes a grand shout as we enter the forest.
“Now then… the Shell Spider is~”
And his party members completely ignore him. They begin discussing the details of the request without him.
Not like he is trying to join their conversation anyways…
“Hey hey, so how did you get strong so fast. Tell me tell me!”
For some reason, this guy has been pestering me since leaving the guild.
“… Can you please leave Youma?”
Elinalise says behind a corner of my body.
“Eh, why? Is it because you want Youma all for yourself? Hehehe~”
“Hiieek! That’s not it. Just, why are you creeping on me whenever you see the chance?!”
“Because you don’t like it”
And that’s how the unreasonable chase continuous as he keeps annoying me.
I don’t stop him, as he might actually be a good influence for Elinalise. She has to get used to this kind of people, or more like, once you get used to this type, you will be able to cope with most of everything else.
I wish her good luck as I just walk along with the party.
After a while, we arrive to our destination.
An herb batch close to the middle part of the forest. Here, a Shell Spider has begun making it its territory. This is making it difficult for gatherers to obtain their potion ingredients, thus a request was made.
“There’s no doubt we are close”
“Uhah… I got some stuck in my hair”
“Shouldn’t the ones with swords be at the front clearing the path?”
As we go deeper, a path of webs were notifying us that we are on the right track.
The other 3 at the front were starting to complain as the path of webs get denser.
I myself don’t have that much trouble moving through. This forest isn’t that dense to begin with.
“Wow Youma, how are you moving so smoothly in here?”
Ryan is following directly behind me, following my steps.
Elinalise is already too tired to mind him and just follows behind me as well.
To think Ryan has more stamina than Elinalise even though he is lower level. Maybe it has to do with the class.
“You are not having problems?”
And for some reason, the 3 at the front don’t ignore Ryan’s words this time.
They quickly run to my side and began following my steps.
“Uwaaah it feels so different!”
“How is the same path so different?”
“Youma, you have experience in walking forests or something?”
The mob behind me increased, along with the noise.
I just sigh inside and say:
“I have been training in this forest for a while now. I know my way”
“Heh~, now that you mention it, you haven’t told us your level yet”
Julee asks wondering.
“… I’m level 28”
I hesitate for a moment before answering. They all did tell their levels, so rejecting her now would feel wrong.
“So you are practically at the cap level. No wonder”
“Well, he does look pretty old after all”
“Hey Frank, don’t say that!”
I was hit by a wild ball.
It is true that I might be slightly older than all the people here, but you know what, I don’t mind anyways! Not even a little!
I’m a 16 year old at heart!
In the first place, 21 isn’t old!
“See? He went silent. He is probably conscious of his age. Now apologize!”
“Um, Youma, I’m sorry”
Julee scolds Frank in a low voice so he walks slowly to me and apologizes.
Or more like, don’t apologize! It’s like rubbing salt on the wound. As expected of younglings, no tact.
In time, we slowed our pace.
“This is weird”
I voiced my doubts.
The webs in this area were way too dense. Now even I can barely move properly. I have fought Shell Spiders before and the areas they were didn’t have this many webs. Trees, shrubs, branches; most of everything was covered in that sticky web.
“Are you sure the request said there was only one Shell Spider?”
I ask the group that was still at my back. They were already covered in web and were having a hard time taking it off. Elinalise was the one who got the most on her body for some reason. Even when she was the closest to me, just how did she manage to do that?
“Yeah, it probably covered this area in webs to denote its territory. The Shell Spiders are not numerous in this forest but they are incredibly territorial creatures”
Alfred says so as he takes off the webs and looks at it. It’s thicker than the webs from my world by a lot. If I had to make a comparison, the webs didn’t look thin, but more like the ones from a certain spider human.
Well, it isn’t like those are the only webs the spiders in this world have. They can produce two types: thick sticky ones they use to slow their prey, and thin transparent ones they use to catch their prey off-guard and alert them of intruders.
Since we got caught in so many thick ones, it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone in the group has already stepped on a thin one and alerted the Shell Spider.
“Uaah, aren’t Shell Spiders really big and terrifying? Why did a group of newbies like us take on such a dangerous request?”
“Scared at this point in time Frank? Shell Spiders may be level 25, but here we are a group. It will be easy if we all attack it. Also, we got two 25+ here”
Julee reproaches as she looks at me with eyes of expectation. She didn’t even glance at Elinalise.
This is weird. I look at Ryan who hasn’t been talking for a while now and he is showing a big smile on his face. I just sigh and tell her:
“I won’t be participating in this request”
I try to cover their mouths but there were so many that I couldn’t.
With this, I am a 100% sure that the Shell Spider heard us.
“What do you mean by that Youma? You won’t be fighting with us? Then why did you even come here for?!”
Julee talks to me as she lowers her voice, but well, it is too late to do that. Her tone was clearly tense.
While having [Instinct of the Predator] activated in case, I continue:
“The reason I am here is because I was hired as a bodyguard for Lady Freyhart. I am not allowed to actively participate in her training. I did tell your party leader beforehand”
I look at Ryan.
“Oh yeah he did. But since everyone just ignored me, when I tried to tell them~ I thought they already knew~”
And he responds like a sulking kid. The other 3 just placed a hand on their face and did a simultaneous sigh.
Elinalise stayed silent in this exchange. She already knew I would only be acting as a spectator today. I want to see how she usually fights, how the parties in this world work, how she usually acts in the party, just what in the world makes the party end up injured.
That I ended up leading the path was a minor thing, so I decided to let it slip, but in the fight I don’t intend to step in until I judge it is completely hopeless and a life is in danger.
“Okay, since I have made myself clear. I will be staying in standby here. You guys continue your mission as if I am not here please”
Saying so, I sit in place crossing my legs.
The three of them looked at me with irritated expressions, but soon turn to each other knowing that it would be useless to say anything.
“There’s no need for that old man anyways. With the group we have now we can defeat that Shell Spider”
“Yeah, like Alfred said. We don’t need an old man that began as an adventurer late. He probably wasn’t able to find any jobs that he could do and is just now beginning thinking that adventuring is easier”
“Thinking he is all that just because he is older than us”
Hmph, now they are trying to rustle my jimmies. My jimmies are not so easily rustled. I’m a calm adult after all. I’m not old after all. Just let them say whatever they want.
“Stop it please…”
But a sudden intrusion came from an unexpected place.
“Youma is not an old man… He is not useless. He is doing this because he is trying to help me out. I am the one at fault. So if you want to blame someone, blame me”
Elinalise came out from my back and took a step forward. Her voice wasn’t very loud, but her will was there.
The three of them were slightly surprised by this, they stayed silent for a few moments. I was surprised as well. Ryan, well, he was going “Oooh” behind my back.
The one they thought was a shy girl actually stepped to protect someone. Though it lacked a bit of intensity and showed a lack of self-confidence at the end, but it is a good step forward. This is probably the first time she actually spoke to the party.
“… Meh, who cares. Let’s just begin the mission” Alfred scratches his head and turns away.
The other two also follow him and make a circle. In that circle, Elinalise was also included. And of course, Ryan wasn’t.
Alfred looks at everyone in turns and begins to give out the instructions:
“First, I will be working as the vanguard. Frank, you be the rear guard and provide support attacks when needed. Julee and Elinalise will be the backline… And Ryan, just in case, try to stab it in a distance and make sure not to hit us”
“Aye aye sir!” Ryan responds immediately with a salute.
Alfred sighs and looks at the group.
Well, a simple and easy to understand method.
Alfred has sturdier armor than the other warrior Frank. Their specialization is probably different. Alfred being more of the tank type while Frank is based more on damage and mobility. Julee is an archer so along with Elinalise they will support in the back.
Ryan isn’t even being treated as a main force at all. They even think he will mess up. Why is he the leader of the party? Alfred is practically doing all the leading.
My [Instinct of the Predator] picked up movement. For a while now, I have been seeing the Shell Spider in range. It has been staying there without moving, just waiting. But after seeing the party move, it also began to act. Its movements are careful. Even if the spider is low level, it doesn’t mean it is an idiot. It still acts as any spider would against prey. Careful and meticulous.
It seems like it isn’t minding me and just following the movements of the party.
Honestly speaking, the party moving in a cluster is just not recommended. They are not even scouting for the enemy. It’s practically like waiting for the Shell Spider to attack first.
Don’t know if it’s because Julee is still not able to move agilely in this forest, but if I have a target in mind and I am in its territory, I definitely would try to confirm my target’s location first.
“I don’t see the Shell Spider anywhere”
“Uah… the webs here are harder to see”
“When we get back, I will immediately wash myself up”
“Hehe, Julee bathing”
“Shut up Ryan”
“Hah… Hah… Calm down Eli… you can do it Eli…”
The five of them moved slowly. Everyone covering each of their blind spots. All of them were visibly nervous. Elinalise looks the most nervous of all. She is practically chanting some sort of charm.
She kept looking in my direction as she moved.
I decide to just concentrate on the Shell Spider.
It waited patiently…
Until the party hit an area with transparent web.
With their movement obstructed, the Shell Spider jumps at that opportunity.
“The Shell Spider is coming!”
“Prepare for battle!”
Their movements were completely stiffened at the sudden attack.
Alfred raised his shield at the spider aiming at Julee barely in time.
But that’s it. The weight of the giant spider combined with the bad stance Alfred took because of the surprise attack, his body couldn’t hold long enough and was pressed down by the Shell Spider.
[Shell Spider <Lvl: 23>]
“Quick Julee! Fall back!” Alfred shouts as he is barely on his knees.
“Y-Yes!” Julee runs to the back and the group finally grasps the situation. Frank and Ryan charge towards the Shell Spider.
“SHRIEEEEEE!” An acute shriek comes out from the Shell Spider. Some sort of green liquid substance spews out from its mouth. Its two fangs wriggling as it scratches the shield of Alfred. Its right front leg lunges onto Alfred and he manages to block it with his sword. But the other won’t be possible for him.
When it was about to hit Alfred, a sword quickly put itself in between them and deflects it.
“Uryaaah!” With a big shout a lance comes from behind them, right down onto the Shell Spider. When it hit, it only made a *clink sound and obviously didn’t damage it at all.
“Uah, so hard” Ryan says as his shoulders tremble.
The Shell Spider’s characteristic trait is the especially thick exoskeleton at the upper part of its abdomen and thorax. That’s why attacking from above is not a valid option when fighting it.
The party had now taken their formation properly. Alfred is the one that attracts the Shell Spider and receives its attacks, Frank backs him up, Ryan attacks from the center, and Julee and Elinalise attack from the back.
But that just sounds ideal. Alfred was being pushed back. He couldn’t hold the frontline against that Shell Spider. Frank and Ryan try to hold it back, but their attacks were ignored. It wasn’t like they were ineffective, the Spider just decided to ignore it.
“This thing is!” Constantly pushing Alfred and the other 2 along with him. The two front legs were like a massive lance and shield that protected the Spider as well as damaging the party.
The attacks of the three were monotonous, not much coordination and their movements were really stiff. It’s like they are minding their steps way too much trying to not get in the way of their companions. They are having difficulties grasping the space between each, making their legs close to useless.
Unmoving enemies just makes it easier for the Shell Spider. Julee shoots arrows trying to support the frontline but the attack power is way too low. Her shots lost a lot of strength. Arrows are a representation of her state of mind. Those arrows were insecure and filled with fear. Fear of the monster in front of her, fear of hitting her own allies.
But the worst of them all is probably Elinalise. She had her magic prepared already, but her hands are shaking, not sure if she should fire. She is also scared of hitting her allies, though her fear is even bigger than that of Julee. She probably wants to tell them to move aside, but her mouth just can’t bring out her voice.
“This definitely looks bad” I give my honest opinion to no one in particular.
The direction that the frontline is being pushed is not to where the backline is. It is at another side, in a place where a giant sticky web is lying in wait. The moment they get caught by that, it will practically be checkmate.
With no frontline able to defend the backline that doesn’t seem to have much mobility or defense, it will be a catastrophe.
“Huataahhh!!” A big shout comes once again from Ryan and he swipes his spear right below the Spider, pushing its legs outside and throwing its balance off.
“Oh, nice one Ryan!” Alfred praises him and smashes his shield to its face before repositioning to its side and stabbing one of its legs, pinning it down.
“Missus Elis~ we are ready. Shoot a big one~” A signal unexpectedly came from Ryan. Directing Elinalise to shoot her already prepared magic.
Elinalise hesitated a bit, but seeing the area cleared off, she shouted:
A big ball of fire condenses and is shot off from the tip of Elinalise’s staff. A roaring sound comes out as her body recoils back a bit by the force.
When that candescent ball of fire impacts the body of the pinned Shell Spider, a big explosion covers the whole body of the Spider and a hot gale of wind tells us of the terrifying heat.
[Fire Cannon] is a tier 2 spell. Its area of effect is small but the heat and explosive power make it perfect for sturdy enemies.
“Grushiaaahhh!!” The same acute shriek comes out from its mouth, but this time it is filled with the first scream of pain. “Griagrrrhh!” It wasn’t completely defeated, it received a considerable amount of damage but it was still alive. It began thrashing around its body, flailing its legs wildly.
“H-Hold it down!” “Uagh!”
The three people that were pinning it down were thrown off. Each one of them flying in different directions as the Spider begins to rub its body on the ground, as if putting out the fire that has already extinguished from its body.
The Shell Spider stands again once more, its legs barely holding it. Making a “Gurururu” sound as if growling.
It seems like it has entered a phase where its attention is now turned onto the real threat. It’s looking directly at Elinalise.
However, in the current state of the Shell Spider, the fight is pretty much over. 2 of its left legs were blown off in that explosion and it can’t move properly. Also, the other 3 are already up and ready to enter anytime.
“We got it cornered now guys!” Ryan says triumphantly.
Didn’t that sound like a flag?
“SHRRRIIIEEEEEE” Suddenly, the Shell Spider lifts its torso up and makes a loud shriek. One that resonated in the forest and penetrated through the ears. Hitting its front legs hard on the ground.
The whole party covered their ears in pain.
When the shriek ends…
The Shell Spider had its abdomen turned towards Alfred. Sticky webs shot out from its rear, hitting him who couldn’t react in time. It didn’t stop at that though. It shifted and continued to spray in high speed onto Frank and Ryan.
They were all numb by the sound and couldn’t move well. Julee tried her best to steady her bow, but her vision seems to be blurry and her arms were shaking. Elinalise’s mind was also affected and was unable to concentrate in forming her spell.
The web that was trapping the three was less thick than the ones set in the area probably because it was done in a hurry.
It wouldn’t buy enough time to get neither the backline nor defeat the frontline. So this looked more like a last act of desperation.
But I suddenly pick up several figures with [Instinct of the Predator].
“What is that?” I whisper lowly, concentrating on a certain part of the forest.
Small yellow shapes denoting hostility were moving rapidly to where the group is.
“Enemies incoming!” I stand up and tell them of the danger.
Small spiders were running straight onto the party.
They are definitely the babies of the spider that had recently hatched and were hungering for food. There were roughly 15 or so. Even if I say small they are the size of a dog.
Could this be, the infamous luck of the black cat?! The catastrophes that befall the parties that join her?!
Well, lets just sit back and watch the show.