Idle Talk 9 -- 3 Heroes, Clouds on the Horizon
Kanon and Rio and I along with our knight companions went into the dungeon again and again to level up and eventually we reached the 25th floor. We had gotten to the point where any of us could easily defeat a single ogre we encountered within the dungeon. It was then that our knight companions suggested we try facing monsters outside the dungeon as Adventurers normally did.
As the three knights explained, the monsters found in a dungeon and the monsters found outside were different and we needed to learn the methods of fighting and subjugating such monsters. Of course the only way to learn was to actually do it. The dungeon was like fighting in a game and it was fun but I expect fighting monsters out in the real world will be more challenging.
As for my Status, it now looks like this:
[Name] Kaito . Saitou
[Type] A Hero from another world
[Magical Power] 978
[Attack power] 988
[Defense force] 961
[Skill] Appraisal, Item Box, Holy Swordsman, Fire Magic, Water Magic, Earth Magic, Wind Magic, Light Magic, Lightning Magic, Ice magic
Amazingly my physical fitness exceeds 1000. I had been told that normally any Status value cannot exceed 1000 except for extraordinary capable individuals so seeing that figure in my Status gave me a very good feeling. Right now only I have such a high rating but both Kanon and Rio have been levelling up too so I expect, since they're Heroes like me their own fitness stats will soon also exceed 1000.
It was becoming harder to raise my level though, each increase was taking more effort than the earlier steps. Still it hadn't even been a month since I came to this world and I was already level 10! My Status declared me to be a Hero so maybe that's why I had done so well so quickly. I still get embarrassed when people call me "Hero" but it is nice too, in a way.
Tomorrow we will finally fight monsters outside the dungeon. We accepted a request from the Adventurers Guild for the annihilation of a pack of Kobolds. That's normally a C-rank request and we're still D-ranked Adventurers but our knight companions are C-ranked so we've formed a six-person party with them to qualify for the subjugation. I want to show off how much I've improved to Louise... I'll exterminate those Kobolds, just you wait and see!
* * * * *
We were in the forest to the south of the Royal Capital, carefully approaching the cave where the pack of Kobolds had made its home. Because Kobolds have a very good sense of smell, like dogs, we had to be cautious and stay well downwind of the entrance.
"There are two Kobolds on guard at the entrance of the cave." Leonard explained in a low whisper as we peered through the undergrowth at the target area. "That's as we expected so we'll proceed as planned." He looked at Louise who nodded. "Two of us will deal with the guards then you drastically reduce the number of enemies by shooting Fire magic into the cave. The survivors will come charging out the entrance and you'll cut them down as they try to escape. Sounds okay?" We all nodded in agreement.
"Right then Louise, come with me and help me dispose with the lookouts." Aaron said. "After we've done that we're relying on you three Heroes to fill the cave with Fire magic." We nodded again. Aaron and Lousie moved off and disappeared from sight. We watched and watched, unable to spot them and then suddenly they stood up behind the two guard Kobolds and...
Slash. Stab. Aaron swung his sword and the Kobold's head leapt from its neck as the body collapsed. The Kobold Louise was standing behind was stabbed through the heart by her rapier and it too collapsed, killed instantly before it could raise the alarm. Watching the skills of two accomplished swordsmen took my breath away. Leonard, who had been teaching me the sword was similarly amazing. I put my hand on the hilt of my own sword, promising myself that someday I would be as skilled, possibly even more skilled than the three knights. I'd work hard to learn such skills from them, I swore to myself. Later though, we had our own job to do now the guards had been eliminated.
Kanon and Rio and myself immediately positioned ourselves in front of the cave and prepared to shoot Fire magic into the entrance together.
"Blazing orb of fire, burn our enemies to ash! Fireball!" chanted Kanon and Rio while I chanted, "Fierce-flaming arrow, pierce my enemy. Fire Arrow!"
Our combined Fireball and Fire Arrow magic punched into the cave followed by a terrific explosion.
"It's too much! Get out of the way!" Aaron's loud voice made us leap to the side as flame spewed back out of the cave's entrance with a loud roar. It seemed that we'd overdone our Fire magic by quite a lot. I rolled back onto my feet as the flames died down.
"Everyone OK?" I asked, but Rio and Kanon were already getting up, seemingly unharmed. I looked into the cave entrance, now burnt black but as expected I couldn't see any signs of surviving Kobolds. Leonard and Aaron and Louise came to us and peered into the cave as well.
"It looks like you've completed the subjugation request." Leonard said with satisfaction.
"Well, that level of Fire magic isn't going to leave any survivors, is it?" Aaron smiled.
"Yes, I can't detect any signs of life. I agree that the Kobolds have been exterminated." Louise finished.
"All three of you did really well." Leonard complimented us. "The Kobold pack was completely obliterated in one hit." Kanon and Rio cheered at Leonard's words.
"Well, we're all Heroes after all." I said deprecatingly. "Something like this should be easy for the likes of us." I tried to present a cool facade but inwardly I was delighted. Fighting real monsters outside a dungeon had done wonders for my confidence. Bring on the next challenge!
* * * * *
The next day we were headed towards the Adventurers Guild to take another subjugation request when I glimpsed a bracelet on Rio's wrist that I hadn't see before.
"Rio, what's with that?" I asked. Rio noticed where I was looking and smiled happily.
"Eh, what are you talking about?" Kanon inquired. "Let me see!"
Rio held up her arm, showing the bracelet off to Kanon and me.
"Actually, I got it from Leonard..." Rio said, blushing.
"Eeeeh, that's great!" Kanon squealed, hugging Rio.
"Yup." Rio agreed shyly.
"Wonderful. I'm soooo envious."
"It's okay." Rio said, fiddling with the bracelet. "I see Aaron's always looking at you, Kanon and, well..." Kanon wasn't averse to casting looks at the knight in question either, I knew. The two girls chattered on about their love interests while I considered the situation. Rio was calling Leonard-san "Leonard" now and he had given her this gift. I wished them both well, and wondered if gifting such accessories was a common mark of affection between men and women in this world. Maybe if I offered a similar bracelet to Louise...
The bracelet was made of a thin strip of silvery metal, about a centimetre in width with a translucent purple stone in the centre. It seemed to fit closely on Rio's wrist with no obvious catch or closure. It looked quite pretty. Rio explained that it was a magical tool, raising her physical abilities a little.
"I told Leonard that I was worried that I had less physical strength than Kaito and Kanon and he gave me this." Rio explained with a smile. Such a magical accessory would be expensive, I surmised. Leonard must really care for Rio.
"Leonard, did you get her to accept that item?"
"Of course. When I told her it was a magic tool that would increase her physical abilities she was more than happy to put it on."
"Oh, so you sweet-talked her into wearing it?"
"No point denying it. But you're going to do the same with your Hero, aren't you?"
"Well, I don't know. The Heroes can use the Appraisal skill after all. If I try and get him to wear the same sort of thing as his companion he's likely to get suspicious and check it out. I'll just have to bide my time and take my chance when it presents itself."
"I simply whispered the right words in Rio's ear and got her to put that bracelet on her wrist herself. Surely you can find a way to assuage his doubts and get him to do the same?"
"You really are a bad man."
"Totally disreputable. A deep-dyed villain, just like Aaron and yourself, of course."
"You had it easy though, didn't you? Your target was a woman. A man giving such an accessory as a gift to a woman is not strange. Me, on the other hand, it's going to be a struggle to get Kaito to accept it willingly."
"Come now, you're a woman renowned for your ability to seduce any man you set your eye on. The boy's smitten with you, how difficult would it be for you to succeed in your assigned task?"
"Maybe you're right, I should really make an effort. The lad's easy to flatter and not too smart, after all..."
"Yeah, I think so too. Persuade your Hero to wear a Bracelet of Slavery like I did with Rio and we've nearly achieved our mission. That means promotion is guaranteed for the three of us."
The future of the Three Heroes is darkening...