Edit: Emelia the Catfish
Megane-kun, Surprised by Laila’s Competency
After dividing up the work with Laila, we started searching and managed to find some clues.
Patches of folded grass. These are remnants of someone passing by. The width is wider than that of a human. Precisely, it’s a trace of something huge, like a bear, had passed through.
Four fine lines that faintly gauged the soil. These are footprints. It’s a sign that the quadruped beast walked with its claws stretched out.
And then, the smell of undried blood. Something must have been eating an animal around here. It’s an indication of a predator having eaten its meal.
We still can’t conclude if it’s a redbear or not, but there is no mistake that it’s something bear-y.
—Rather, I think we’re on the right track. It’s only just an intuition of mine, though.
「It must be this one. Shall we chase after it?」
Laila nods. It seems her nervousness is finally kicking in, considering that the fight is close at hand. It’s still too soon to get stiffened up, though.
From this point onwards, I’ll be the one who leads. We then erased our presence, tracking the animal as we went even deeper into the forest. Well, I am erasing my presence, but Laila is still completely exposed so I don’t know how effective my effort is. After proceeding for a while, I began to feel a presence that fits our criteria. It feels like it’s the middle of moving to some other place slowly.
「Be careful of making noises」
It’s fine even it’s still far, I want to get closer until it’s in my view. If I don’t move to ascertain my prey with my own eyes, there’s a possibility of misfire and the prey might run away for real. As of now, there’s still a possibility that it might be a normal bear. I assume that it’s the redbear itself, but hunting requires prudence. Rather, one should always careful before entering the fray.
If I was not with Laila, I would have certainly approached the target until it enters my range.
This time, however, her training takes precedence.
「Is it there?」
「I’ll go to confirm it.」
It’s walking with its guard completely up—That’s how it looks like. The creature was larger than an adult human. Its red hide was blurred with dirt as it walked away, not noticing our presence at all. It’s a Redbear. I see it at a glance. Let’s refrain from approaching it any further since our position could be uncovered if it caught a human smell or noticed Laila’s exposed presence.
I hide in the shades as to get out of the redbear’s sight, then pulled Laila’s arm.
「I found the target.」
「U, un, …I-, is it close?」
As it’s hidden behind a tree, it’s certainly close. However, I don’t think that that’s what we should be concerned with. Were I to carelessly attack it now, it’d maul me and kill me within seconds, so I can’t exactly worry about it being close. This matter must be because I’m still inexperienced. My life is more important that Laila’s request, so I’ll continue without minding it.
「Go back to the bonfire remains, the place where we began our search.」
「The trees are dense around here. It’s hard to use projectiles.」
If the battle environment isn’t in a somewhat open area, it’s unsuited for us. But, if the place is too open, then we’ll lose our cover, so that’s unsuited also. It’s a bad matchup to fight head-on too. I can’t do such a hunt.
「Go back to that bonfire remains, then wait on top of a tree. I’ll draw the redbear to you.」
If I say it that far, even Laila will know what to do.
「And I’ll be the one to target the redbear while you draw aggro, right?」
That will be so.
After I nodded, Laila replied「Got that」 before swiftly returning back the way we came. Her movements aren’t bad. Her physique is fit enough that she doesn’t have shortness of breath despite having been walking all morning. The rest, after all, depends on her experience. And that too, she’s doing what she’s doing because she wants an actual battle experience.
Well, that’ll be fine as long as she does her best in the future.
I waited until Laila’s presence went far off, before wielding my bow. I don’t like to torment my prey, but this time it’s Laila’s practice and not a hunt. I hope to respond to her request as much as possible. I nocked a wooden arrow without drawing the bowstring so I could set it off anytime, then I made my move.
When I caught the redbear in my sight for the second time, without a moment’s hesitation, I exposed myself from the shade and drew my bow—hesitating for a moment, before hiding behind the tree’s shade again.
I felt the redbear turn its head around. It snorted as if smelling something. This is bad. I might get found if it continues like this. Looks like the preemptive strike failed, huh.
No, before that.
Again, I see those digits. It’s not like I forgot them, but those digits that I haven’t seen since Lorobel’s case are showing on top of the redbear’s head. They’re the same digits that appeared on top of Lorobel the blonde mushroom’s head. This time it showed 「11」.
In order to affirm what I saw, I sneakily stole a glance with only one eye, then—it showed me a「5」 this time.
And our eyes meet to boot. I’m found out.
The redbear raises a heavyweight-class roar that would petrify those who heard it, then broke to a run after me. At the same time, I also started my escape. I’m fleeing in a zigzag manner as if I was sewing the trees. The redbear is faster in a straight chase, so I can’t let it chases me in a straight line.
At times it caught up to me and swung its forelegs, but I avoided them. I turned my head as I avoided it, I drew the bowstring to 60% of its limit then swiftly shot a diversion arrow. …Ah, as I thought, wooden arrows won’t penetrate deep. Well, I’m not expecting damage in the first place. If I must say, the purpose is making it agitated and chase me.
Incidentally, the digits turn into 「3」. I’m not pleased how it reduces as if it’s a countdown to my death.
I feed it wooden arrows again and again without giving it a chance to recollect itself until I successfully pulled him to the place where Laila is waiting.
I shouted to inform her of my arrival, then subsequently ran into the open area—-
From atop a tree somewhere, an invisible blade was launched. It caught precisely onto the neck of the redbear that was just a few steps away from me.
However, it was ignored.
The redbear raises a groan, growling at the me who had stopped for a second to see what happened. It paid no mind to its neck that should have been lopped off just now. It doesn’t even give its attention to Laila that just threw something at it.
Ignored, isn’t it? It’s completely being ignored, isn’t it? I knew it would be like this by the time I heard it could only cut such a thin tree. Laila’s magic holds no effect toward the redbear. To put it nicely, it only cut some of its red furs. Despite cutting some of the furs, it seems like a failure.
…How do I put it, yeah. That’s about it.
It is a similar problem even during practice. Isn’t an actual battle still too early for her? Rather than battle experience, isn’t she still at the stage of self-training?
「『Wind Slash』!『Wind Slash』! Haa, haa, 『Wind Slash』!! UOOOOOOOOHH!! 『WIIND!! SLAAAAASH!!!!』!!!!」
So this is what magic is. I’m surprised.
As I’m confronting the redbear, avoiding its attacks, firing off arrows, trying to make it stay in one place, Laila is swarming it with a storm of magic attacks. But of course, none of them yield any effect. The redbear doesn’t even turn around. Please turn around, you. She’s desperate, you know. Be considerate. Give her some attention.
In this situation where the barren hair-dressing is the only thing that makes progress, my patience is finally running out. I was planning to be patient, but I have come to think that I am an extraordinary fool who makes money by exposing myself to a danger that might kill me in one hit.
It would be fine if she inflicted some damage. If some critical blow delivered from all those attacks, the redbear could’ve been weakened by a large quantity of bleeding. Even if she can’t give any fatal wound, if the attacks piled up then it’s also a threat.
But, if nothing piled up, then it means nothing.
As expected, is there any difference of bringing the prey to the safety zone, allowing her to loosely release her magic, versus practicing magic on an immovable object in practice. Obviously, there is no need for actual combat. if that’s the case.
I look up to the place where Laila might be and raise my voice, all the while facing the redbear.
「W-, wh-, what!? Even if it looks like this, I’m giving my all, understand?! Look what will happen next!!」
No, no, it’s fine already. I get it already.
「Can I bring it down yet?」
Or rather, I’ll do it even without her permission. I lowered my quiver and threw away my wooden arrows, leaving only iron arrows in their place. From now on, I’ll attack with killing in mind, not diversion.
As I shifted to iron arrows, the digits above its head changed. It was 「3」 all this time before, but now it becomes 「96」.
Don’t tell me, that’s——