“A hero’s life for me! Oh, A hero’s life for me! Beyond the horizon and across the seas, a hero’s life for me! ~𝅘𝅥𝅯𝅘𝅥𝅯 ”
Koujiro stood at the bow of the ship with one foot propped up against it. Like the image of an explorer eagerly scoping out new lands, he merrily sang as the ship coasted across the waters towards the Divine Isles.
“Is he always like that?” Saki eyed exhaustedly at the jubilant man in armor.
Koujiro had been giddy like a little kid since we had decided to embark on a quest to obtain Resonance Stones. Creating portals between Sistina and Macali would be a big step in promoting good relations. We had contacted Lady Kaguya about the idea as well. There was no doubt in my mind that she would be on board as well.
“Yep. He’s a strange one,” I replied back to the slightly less gaudy, armored girl next to me.
Ultimately, she was the only one to join our fetch quest, since her attack power would make short work of the golems. I initially thought to have Ludmila join, but Koujiro noted that she would hardly make a dent on them. Plus, she wouldn’t be able to lift them alone.
Her scouting abilities also wasn’t required as his glowing sword was able to detect where the largest stones were located. Essentially, the stones were likely in well-guarded caverns with little maneuverability anyway. We’d have no choice but to smash our way through.
“You’re one to talk. I heard all about how you threatened to strip his wives. Or did I hear wrong, Chef Strippy Pants?”
I choked on air at that statement. That blasphemous name would likely follow me to the grave. I ducked her snide glance while turning away nervously. We had been travelling on the seas for several days now. It wouldn’t take that much longer to reach the destination.
Already, Koujiro had worn on Saki’s nerves. While the two of them did the typical courteous bow and introductions as expected of fellow native Japanese, Koujiro soon reverted to his smug and flirtatious self. Saki never did take those kinds of advances well, so she was tempted to drive a fist into his rib cage.
“Don’t you already have 7 wives hanging around you?! Leave me alone!” Saki roared as she lost control finally and let her fist fly.
A dull thud rang out as Koujiro skidded across the deck several meters. However, he somehow remained on his feet and merely patted his stomach where it was struck.
“Nice punch you got there. I felt a bit of wind knocked out of me.” Koujiro smiled.
Apparently, his defense was high enough to compensate for Saki’s monstrous attack power. She looked blankly at how little her punch did, a first time since she arrived in this world.
Before Koujiro could goad her further, I walked up to him and whispered into his ear.
“You should know. Saki likes girls, particularly Eryn.”
“Oh, really? A yuri scene might not be a bad thing, now wouldn’t it? My girls are pretty affectionate to each other at times…”
Before I could answer, the two of us felt an ominous chill develop. Suddenly, Saki seemed to be 5 times larger and overflowing with a dark bloodlust.
“Say another word, and I’ll have Claude strip you before I strike!”
‘There it is! The yandere vibes!’ I thought as we cowered in fear from it. Thankfully, that moment barely lasted a few seconds, just enough for Saki’s inner thoughts to be exposed.
Needless to say, Koujiro had dropped all of his sweet words from then on.
After that, Saki and I merely watched as Koujiro moved on to his next interest – imagining a way to trounce the golems and explore further into unknown territory. While doing so, he danced across the deck theatrically with flagrant heroics. We were starting to get exhausted just watching him.
“Would you mind if I, just uh, accidentally created a sudden gust to… blow him overboard?” Saki commented at one point.
I was half tempted in giving her the go ahead. Koujiro could swim even with that armor, right? I honestly couldn’t see him getting angry at a cute girl over an ‘accident’. Given that Saki could blow away an entire section of a castle wall with a punch, the wind from an accidental swing could be played off as an oopsie.
However, I refrained.
“He’s supposed to be our guide, remember? None of us know where we are going without him unfortunately.” I pointed to the ship captain we had chartered for the trip. Occasionally, Koujiro went over to verify with him that we were on course for the Divine Isles. Despite his flakiness, he did act as an appropriate navigator.
Furthermore, it sounded like it would be quite difficult to deal with the golems without someone experienced. Koujiro volunteered to draw aggro on them while Saki and I had the duty of ‘one-punching’ them into oblivion. According to him, the golems were highly resistant to magic, making the others not quite as useful on this quest. Nothing else but brute force would damage them, so our normal magical powerhouses had to bow out.
However, I couldn’t help but wonder if Katalina could just send them all into a deadly fall with her portals, or maybe, a plunge into the ocean like she had done before with Koujiro. Obviously, we couldn’t risk harming a ruler of an entire nation over a silly fetch quest with so many unknowns.
Despite Koujiro joining us, it had been his choice. As mean as it was to think so, it seemed like Macali would do just fine without him at the helm anyway. His wives were the true heads of running their nation.
“Still, aren’t you a little bit reassured after seeing that he could take a punch from you? Any normal fighter would get squished like a bug.”
“I held back. I definitely held back…” Her voice trailed off as she caught sight of the man in question skipping over to where the two of us were.
Koujiro’s expression was that of a puppy dog that had discovered something and couldn’t wait to tell others.
“I see it! I see the islands in the distance!”
Unlike Koujiro, this statement made the two of us grow tense. Only he had been there before, and based on his stories, it wouldn’t be a simple task. For Saki and I, who had miniscule defense compared to Koujiro, blows managing to overwhelm his parameters meant certain doom for us. We’d have to rely on hit and run strategies.
“Can’t be worse than fighting the Demon that possessed the previous Chancellor, right?” I laughed off the danger in an attempt to downplay our nerves. But it looked like it had the opposite effect.
Saki looked off to the side, mentally brooding about what had happened to her during that time. It had truly been a close call. She had been merely a push away from completely losing herself to the darkness.
“Don’t worry. I have your back. You have mine as well, right?” My words shifted to a gentle and direct tone. With an ever so slight nod, a quiet murmur of acknowledgement escaped her lips. It would take time for her to regain her confidence.
Within the hour, the ship that we rode upon stopped and anchored against some rocks jutting out of the water. There was still a bit of distance between us and the main island ahead, but Koujiro told the captain to anchor here.
“It’s too dangerous for the ship to get close. Have to stay out of the island’s detection range.”
Before I could ask what he meant, he waved me off and said, “You’ll see.”
I reached into my Item Box and pulled out a portal gun, one that Katalina programmed for my use. Even if she couldn’t be here, that didn’t mean we couldn’t take advantage of her tools. However, I was not even half as proficient with it as she was. It took a fair amount of control to even move the portal to the correct spot, which meant that fighting smoothly while shooting them off was still a large hurdle. I was rather impressed with Katalina’s pinpoint accuracy after I fumbled with it myself.
Nonetheless, aiming a portal to dump us onto the island from the ship was still easily doable. When I asked Koujiro how he approached land last time, he told me that they used magic-powered watercrafts to glide across the waves. That was a typical form of transport between islands prior to the teleportation gates. How fun that they had invented jet skis already.
After Koujiro and Saki stepped through the portal, I followed behind. As soon as my feet touched the sandy beach, the air around me felt completely different, like an unexplainable richness blanketing the surroundings. Certainly, this difference was what Koujiro had indicated.
“Eyes forward! They come!” he shouted, making sure that we were paying attention. It appeared that our arrival had tripped off some security mechanism of the island.
I drew my knife, while Saki pulled out a pair of small mallets. After she had destroyed her previous one, she shook her head about getting a replacement.
“I understand now that it only hindered me. I would like to request for something more… compact.”
As a result, now she sported a twin set of metal mallets made of a durable metal. Magic stones were imbedded in them to auto-regenerate sustained damage, a welcome addition since they would no doubt be warped by Saki over time.
She flailed around to get used to the unfamiliar weight in her hands, her swaying body strangely overlapped with those who were accustomed to playing a certain drumming game at the arcades. When I pointed that out, she blushed and dropped the mallets, realizing that I had, in fact, been spot on in my observation.
In any case, the fighting styles of us Electi were quite peculiar to the people in this world, likely due to the influence of our home worlds. Even mine was derived from a weird mix of kitchen habits and Asian healing knowledge.
I quickly wiped those thoughts away as I nervously scanned the trees outlining the edge before us. No doubt, a rumble in the distance grew louder as something approached. Brush crinkled from being pushed away, and the foliage in between the trees started swaying.
Suddenly, a white form leapt from the forest, causing my eyes to widen in shock.
The faceless white outline of a golem with wings advanced forward, single-mindedly charging at us invaders. My body shook as I recalled seeing them before. Not here, but deep within my memories.
The burning, destroyed landscape of my home town. The sight of neighbors and people I had bumped into on occasion, lying motionless on the ground. And all of that had somehow been caused by these very same golems in my memories.
Instantly, tears swelled in my eyes. The remnants of death’s scent clung to the back of my nose. My heart sank as a low growl escaped from my lips.
“What are ‘you’ doing here?!”
By this time, Koujiro and Saki noticed my sudden change in demeanor. They backed away slightly as purple streaks of mana suddenly spewed from my eyes.
I didn’t care though. My enemy was before me. The one that had taken my world from the very beginning. Finally, I would strike back against those that killed my family, destroyed my home, and started my journey into the unknown.
Saki’s cries for me to ‘stop’ fell on deaf ears as more of the golems leapt out of the forest. My feet were already in motion. My blade had already been coated with mana that had been contaminated by miasma. I could see every line across those damned white bodies, pulsing purple like they taunted me with every beat.
I no longer cared about our battle plan or anything else as I raced forward. My head was filled with only murderous thoughts, deep in the recesses of my mind. Over and over, they whispered around me.
‘Those bastards will pay!’
‘For the ones that I lost!’
‘For the home I can no longer return to!’
‘Their bodies will be torn asunder!’
‘My blade brings death upon them!’
And with a single swing, the first golems were cleanly cleaved in half. Something that no one thought possible.