The sight of Raiden flying off is truly a sight you would see in a game, but this world is a game and not a game.
Even if Raiden was the one who got hit…if his HP reaches 0, he will die.
I return to my senses, use High Step, and catch the flying Raiden.
I don’t know if it is thanks to a game-like setting of some sort, but the impact wasn’t as big as I thought it would be.
In that time, my gaze alone didn’t separate from the Butcher, but there’s no signs of it pursuing the attack.
Retaining its posture of having swung its giant cleaver, it observes us 3 as if it were evaluating its prey that has been caught in a trap.
“Are you okay?!” (Souma)
When I called Raiden, he grimaced while getting up, took out a healing potion from his pouch, and crushed it.
The healing effect happened with a time lag, and the wounds of Raiden were being healed.
I place a hand on my chest in relief at that sight for now.
Raiden is level 130 and the King Butcher is at least more than 150.
It is a level difference where it wouldn’t have been strange for him to have been killed in one hit, but the reason why Raiden has survived any powerful enemy is because of his abnormal endurance.
It has been confirmed that the source of his high defense is that Raiden’s defense increases as his HP lowers, so it is said that he might have a special skill.
However, no matter how high your defense, it doesn’t completely write off the possibility of death.
In the game, when you die, you die really damn easy, or more like, there’s barely any chance of you surviving till clearing the game if you don’t proceed with events carefully.
This being reality, this is by no means a situation that we can be optimistic about.
(…Is it coming?) (Souma)
The Butcher’s gaze sets as if it had been waiting for us to get ourselves back up.
Because of the fearsome knockback, we got some unexpected distance, but in the face of the giant body of the butcher, something like that serves of little purpose.
The King Butcher is more than 3 meters tall.
Just one step from that guy visibly reduces the distance between us.
“…Sorry about that.” (Raiden)
Raiden separates from me and glares at the Butcher like I am as he muttered this.
I thought he was referring to me having caught his body, but that wasn’t it.
In the time my attention was directed at the Butcher, Raiden pushed my body back forcefully.
And then, with that force, he once again rushed to the Butcher.
“Run! Go to the city and call Princess-san!” (Raiden)
He shouted this as he ran to the opposite side of the city as if to bring the Butcher away from it, running just right past the side of the King Butcher.
At that moment, I finally understood the meaning of Raiden’s apology.
That was most likely an apology of: ‘I can’t win against the Butcher by myself’.
In exchange, he will lure it away to have us escape.
(But that’s reckless!) (Souma)
It is not a simple difference in level.
Boss monsters are normally not made to be defeated 1v1.
The reason why I somehow managed solo in my gaming days was because I took advantage of the many holes in the systems of Nekomimi Neko. On top of that, I could reload after dying, so I could challenge it countless times.
In the first place, Raiden is more of a heavy warrior than an endurance one.
He specializes in exchanging blows by utilizing his high defense, but…
“This is not good! Physical attacks don’t work on that monster!” (Souma)
King Butcher is the worst type of enemy he could fight against.
I don’t know if the setting is that the flabby armor of fat from the Butcher absorbs impact, but pure physical attribute damage is 90% mitigated.
It also means that the Lightning Strike of our party’s main damage dealer, Ringo, won’t be working here.
The only one who can use elemental attacks within the group is me.
(There’s no choice but for me to do this…!) (Souma)
Honestly speaking, that guy is a trauma for me.
Just seeing that abominable face makes my body tremble, but I crush it with willpower.
I began the magic chant to provide support.
I didn’t expect to use it this soon. Though I can’t really say if my magic training will be enough here.
It is great that I managed to learn that I can use magic with the same feel as when in the game, but because it got in my head and used magic too much, my MP has only recovered enough to shoot 1 spell.
Even so, I might be able to overturn this situation if I use this.
“Raiden, I will assi—!” (Souma)
I shouted this and was about to take a step, but…
“You idiot, don’t come!” (Raiden)
He stopped me with a vigorous shout different from his carefree mood of before the Butcher appeared.
However, I could tell from their exchange that Raiden needs assistance.
He is barely managing to block the attack of the Butcher with his shield, and he is not letting a clean hit in like the first time, but defense like that working for a few more times would be a best case scenario. The attacks of the Butcher are intense.
At this rate, it is only a matter of time before he is pushed into submission.
“You can’t win one on one! But if it is 3 vs 1…” (Souma)
I shouted this as I tried to get close to Raiden, but…
“Even if that’s fine with you, what about your company?!” (Raiden)
Those words of Raiden made my feet stop.
At the same time, my heated head drastically cooled down.
I looked back at the blue haired girl that was following behind me even at a time like this.
She was looking uneasily at me with only the clothes borrowed from Alice.
No matter how great her stats may be, there’s no way she would be able to survive an attack from the King Butcher with no defense.
(I…we would fight like this and…) (Souma)
Can we win? -that question surfaced in my mind.
I have never faced a Butcher with this level and equipment.
It is completely unknown how much damage we can deal to it.
If we can’t finish it…
(I will die. Ringo will die…) (Souma)
If I let myself be driven by my violent emotions, I could forget about my fear of death for an instant.
(Is it okay for me to involve this girl?) (Souma)
This is a dilemma that was caused by my own mistake.
If I die, that was my own fault.
I do feel bad that Raiden got dragged into this, but he chose to walk the dangerous path of an adventurer, so he must have resolved himself to danger like this to a certain degree.
But what about Ringo?
She lost her memories and her place to be, and she is simply accompanying me by a whim.
She probably hasn’t thought about actually living as an adventurer, or being by the side of death.
Is it really okay to drag a girl like that into this and have her accompany me in a situation where she might die?
No, even without that reasoning, I wouldn’t be able to endure seeing this silent girl die in front of my very eyes.
Even while I was thinking that, Raiden was being cornered little by little.
The most important resource right now, time, is being pointlessly consumed by my hesitation.
“It is okay, just go!!” (Raiden)
Raiden shouted this as his shield snapped back from the Butcher’s attack.
“…I’m sorry!” (Souma)
I reached a decision.
I wrung out that apology and there was no hesitation from there on.
“We are running away!” (Souma)
I pulled the hand of Ringo who was looking up at me bewildered and confused, and I ran in the direction of the city.
This is mortifying, but I can’t use Godstep Cancel.
Also, I am pulling Ringo who is strangely unresponsive here, so I have no leeway.
“It is okay! That guy’s defense is top tier, you know? There’s no way he would be defeated by a beast like that!” (Souma)
Ringo was still showing hesitation here, so I said this as if telling this to myself.
“…Right! He has even fought a dragon in an event. Even with that, he still didn’t die. There’s no way a meat tank like that would be…would be killed!” (Souma)
I don’t even know who I am telling this to.
Even so, I felt like something would break if I stopped my mouth from running here, so I continued speaking.
“You may not know this, but in the game, he has fought one on one against that Hisame and survived! That Hisame, you know? There’s no way a guy like that would be…against a mere…” (Souma)
Just as I said this, a dull heavy sound as if weighty objects clashed rang behind us.
That’s why I…looked back.
Raiden was bent on the ground.
The big shield he had was broken in half and on the ground. The person himself is lying face up, not moving one bit.
Despite everything, Raiden should be a reliable frontline.
He shows up a lot in many events, and even if he were to self-destruct fighting strong enemies, he is a veteran adventurer that would help out the player in the very beginning, and his tenaciousness when he goes on the defensive should have the seal of approval of many…
“Something like this is…” (Souma)
I should have known this already.
Only I know this world is a game.
Games have a heartless side where your emotions and technique proficiency will be turned into plain hard numbers.
That’s especially the case in the world of New Communicate Online.
I should have understood that this is a world where people can die just like that by one little whim.
I thought I knew this, but the reality is that I didn’t.
“That guy…” (Souma)
The Butcher is approaching the fallen and unmoving Raiden.
Raiden is not gone yet.
He is still alive.
What is that monster trying to do to him while he can’t move? I could tell clearly what would happen even when looking from afar.
(Die? He is going to be killed?) (Souma)
Blood was rushing to my brain.
My vision was growing warped, and the contours of the world were getting hazy.
The pulsing on my chest was reaching its limit and I felt like vomiting.
“Ringo…run to the city without looking back.” (Souma)
I did the same that Raiden did to me and pushed Ringo towards the city and moved my legs that had stopped at some point in time.
Towards the opposite direction I have been going until now.
Towards the battlefield where the fallen Raiden and the King Butcher are awaiting.
I let out a roar as if to distract myself from my fear.
But the Butcher was not turning my way.
At this rate, Raiden will be killed before I reach him.
“LOOK HEEEEERE!!” (Souma)
I throw the Wakizashi with my full power as I shout.
The Wakizashi flew straight to the Butcher, and…it didn’t get lodged into it, but it didn’t draw its attention.
The King Butcher faces this way.
(Not enough, huh!) (Souma)
A mere Wakizashi wouldn’t be enough to draw its attention here.
It didn’t take long for the gaze of the Butcher to return to Raiden.
(As if I will let you!) (Souma)
I used Focus on the ugly face of the Butcher which is its weak point, and was about to make my next move, but…
A vivid light stripe stretched from right by my side and hit the white giant!
And it wasn’t just once.
2 times, 3 times…no, to a degree that it would be stupid to count. A ferocious assault of attacks that didn’t allow breathing were hitting the Butcher and, finally, the Butcher completely faced this way.
Not only that, it changed the direction of its whole body towards the unknown lightning strikes that were assailing it while covering its weak point which is its face.
There’s only one person who can do an attack like that.
At some point in time, Ringo was standing by my side with Golden Sakura in hand.
“Why…why did you come back?! If even you come back, who will bring Hisame—” (Souma)
I pushed down my side that thought of her as reliable for a moment and shouted at her.
However, Ringo was unfaltering.
She continued shooting out Lightning Strikes from the Golden Sakura in her right hand with eyes that I can’t tell what she is thinking, but this time around, she properly made eye-contact and spoke.
“Souma, just do what you want to do.” (Ringo)
As if she saw through my dilemma.
As if she were adminishing me for using her as a reason for running away…
“I will just follow that back of yours…on my own will.” (Ringo)
She declared resolutely.
Is that the majesty of a princess, or the strength of a person who has resolved herself?
My will to go against her decision was completely destroyed.
I have only spent 1 day with her, and I haven’t taken any noteworthy actions for her to like me.
That’s why this action of hers that could be considered to be out of affection or trust might be from ignorant imprudence or from a misunderstanding that comes from youth.
However, describing those feelings of hers in such a manner also felt like an insult to her resolve.
Stuff like her coming along out of a whim or her not understanding the way of life of an adventurer doesn’t matter here.
No matter if she is inexperienced or lacking common sense, she decided this out of her own will.
To stand by my side.
Then, what’s left is…
“Got it. Let’s fight together.” (Souma)
Whether I… Whether we can win against that monster or not.
That’s all there is to it.
If we win, no one dies.
Also, it is not like we have absolutely no means to win against that guy.
The moment my resolve hardened into cold steel, I felt as if the haze covering my vision cleared up in one go.
There, for the first time…I managed to see the face of the King Butcher.
I made eye-contact with its eyes that showed absolutely no sign of retreating despite being assaulted by the Lightning Strikes of Ringo, unable to move.
“This time for sure, we will defeat you!” (Souma)
I take out Shiranui and hold it in both hands as I face the haunting giant in front.