"Alice-sama, are you alright?"
While gasping for breath, I raised a hand to signal Ilya I'm alright for the moment.
After going around the lake, while going up the mountain, the limit of my endurance had come.
In the first place, there were only not-quite-paths like animal trails.
Add the slope and it's tough on the current me.
"Till went straight over the lake, didn't she... such an unfair shortcut."
That magic to run through the air.
She created footholds out of ice in the air and produced propulsion by exploding them, is the conjecture I made from seeing it a number of times.
The point is the following:
Isn't that a consecutive application of Blizzard?
Isn't she repeatedly creating Blizzards with regulated power in midair?
"Just imagining it, it's awe-inspiring..."
If I'm right, the difference in ability is beyond words.
Does that mean that, during the fight with the Ice Dragon, Till cast high-class magic while running through the air with repeated Blizzards?
I already know that Till can Double Cast.
"That wall is so high..."
If the current me repeatedly cast Thunder without waiting for the cooldown, I feel I'd collapse after the fourth one.
But even if I could repeatedly use it, I might not be able to run through the air due to the attribute of my magic to begin with?
Of course, it's probably impossible with fire magic, too.
Every attribute should have some special feature, so I guess I don't have to be pessimistic about it.
"I think your mana rivals that of the honored mentor, Alice-sama. I believe in you more than anyone."
"Ilya... you're such a good girl."
I'm the type that improves when praised, that's right.
Ahh, with my current age, she's one year older than me.
But she doesn't seem to find it unpleasant if I talk to her like that.
She answered me by smiling gently.
Still, I remembered while toying with the bracelet around my left arm.
Till had warned me.
I normally shouldn't use it, she said.
In other words, should I just shoot my magic with my right hand?
Certainly, if I use the bracelet, the mana consumption is enormous.
"——Alice-sama, they're coming."
Ilya protectively stepped in front of me.
She took a stance with her iron spear.
Ilya's equipment was that Iron Spear which we had received as service from the Firm and a spare Leather Robe from Aunty.
I was wearing the leather robe that Aunty had fixed and remodeled by adding Uncle's mantle as something of a pareo.
Its defensive properties seemed quite high.
Level 13 Killerwolf
I checked the enemy Status.
Still, after experiencing the fight against the Ice Dragon, I'm comparatively calm now.
But this time, there were more than one.
Four in total.
My first combat against a group.
Come to think of it, I've heard that wolves are good at hunting in a group.
With that thought in mind, suddenly not just the enemies in front of my eyes, but the thicket to the side started bothering me.
——aren't there some still hiding?
"Learn that you will not harm a hair on Alice-sama's body!"
Nonetheless, the enemies before us came first.
With a swipe of her spear, Ilya held the wolves at bay.
What's with this sense of security.
Not being alone is wonderful!
Without chanting, I sent them an instant, preemptive attack.
Shooting out from my right hand wasn't the pentagram-strengthened magic from the fight against the Ice Dragon, but my usual magic.
However, there was no problem with its power.
Catching them off guard, my magic hit one of the wolves and toasted it.
With one of their comrades defeated, the wolves stopped probing the situation and jumped at us.
Ilya stopped all of their attempts through skilled handling of her spear.
Ilya may have low agility, but she was good with her weapon.
How she made use of the spear's reach to zone out the wolves was extraordinary.
I see, this weapon is great for Ilya.
I dare say Ilya isn't suited for swords.
To go at it at close range, you needed agility no matter what.
Although she had the form competing with the bandits, but of course it's better to play to your strengths.
Well, leaving that aside, she really was the best shield for me.
She didn't dodge, but took it all.
And so that the enemies didn't get to me, she zoned them out.
On the backline, there was nothing as reassuring as such an ally.
In that case, I decided to make a somewhat reckless experiment.
I thought I'd repeatedly cast my magic like Till did.
I'd ignored the cooldown.
The second wolf turned into a splendid toast.
I could still go on.
The third one.
I hadn't aimed properly and it was dodged.
Was it a problem with my concentration?
I felt dizzy and staggered.
Hmm... was this the limit?
"Please stop, Alice-sama."
At the same time as she spoke, Ilya stepped forward and skewered a wolf.
However, maybe the enemy's defensive power exceeded Ilya's attack power, it was no lethal wound.
They repeated such exchanges a few times before Ilya finally defeated that wolf.
As for myself, the world was spinning and spinning and I thought I was done for.
I focused on recovering.
That right there was the nigh insurmountable difference between Level 3 and Level 275!
... no, well, that's a matter of course.
But I can recover from that much dizziness in a bit.
I think I've solidly grown stronger.
After recovering, I defeated the first wolf Ilya had driven away.
With that, the proficiency went up by 3.
Still, I cannot believe that the difference between Till and me is only in our levels.
Her repeated casting came from the difference in how we used our magic.
Right, so... I need to regulate the output?
When Ilya called out to me, my body moved right away.
A wolf had jumped out of the thicket lining the animal trail that had bothered me in the beginning.
I somehow dodged the wolf lunging for my throat by crouching down.
——and, at the same time.
It was a momentary decision, a complete coincidence.
From below, I thrust my palms into the unprotected belly of the wolf whose attack I had dodged.
There was no strength behind it, so it did nearly nothing.
Thus, I hurriedly added my magic.
It was an momentary, unstable activation, a Thunder lasting only an instant.
It couldn't defeat the wolf, but...
"I am deeply sorry. Are you alright, Alice-sama?"
Ilya cautiously killed the wounded wolf and came to check up on me.
However, it wasn't the time for that.
"Ha... hahaha! Just you wait, Till!"
I had definitely grasped that sensation.
——I think it's human nature to get elated over such insights. I really do.
"So, what is it the dragon lass is shouldering? A corpse?"
"No, ehm... how should I put it."
By evening, the battle with the wolves on the mountain and the round trip on the originally harsh way had completely brought be to the limit of my endurance.
On the way back from the mountain, I collapsed and ended up being carried by Ilya all the way to the tent.
I carried Ilya's spear and Ilya carried us both.
Come to think of it, Ilya's Strength was nothing special, but her Endurance was excellent.
Still, how pathetic of me...
Till's half-closed eyes pierced my heart.
There was nothing I could say.
"No matter. Quickly prepare dinner, Alice."
"Demon!!" I shouted from Ilya's back.
Oh, hey, I could still speak...
Alright, what should I make.
Tomorrow we're going to stop by the nearby town once, so I can probably use up what we've brought with us.
Freshness is important.
That being said, we've only brought non-perishable food like bread or jerky anyway.
Well, I individually had packed some vegetables.
For lunch, I'd had Aunty's sandwiches, but my pride didn't allow me to make the same as her...
I have brought spices, too.
"Right. I've felt unsatisfied because all I've had is solid food."
Fortunately, we've brought lots of water.
Our trip wasn't hurried or anything, so it should be alright to use it for something other than drinking.
"Alice-sama, what should I make?"
"Let's see... I'm going to use the camping pot, so can you put together a hanger?"
She just needs to bind together some of our firewood with a rope, so it probably won't take that long.
For the cooking fire, we had a portable Fire Crystal, so there was no problem.
The portable Fire Crystal, unlike those at home, are throwaway items usable once.
If you traced the cavity in the stone looking like the character for fire, it would gradually heat up and ignite.
I've heard in this world with a low absolute number of magi, they were used for military purposes, too.
Well, military-use Fire Crystals probably didn't give off cheap, weak flames like this one.
"The camping pot? Are you going to stir something? Or did you want cook rice?"
In fact, the camping pot could also be function as a frying pan. It was such an excellent portable cookware, but I was not going to make anything fried.
And just like Ilya's confused expression said, we had not packed any rice.
"I'm going to make a soup," I answered and dragged the ingredients and flavorings off the carriage.
I had Ilya build the hanger for the camping pot, heated everything up with the Fire Crystal and firewood and made a simple soup in the camping pot.
As expected there was nothing handy like a ready-made soup base, so I used the consomme I had used for cooking the other day, too, and salt for flavoring. With beans and cabbage, the ingredients were simplistic.
I tried tasting it, but my tired body was penetrated by the saltiness.
I beat the jerky a bit to soften it and used it for sandwiches along with the salad I had brought.
We would use up all our vegetables in a day, but whatever.
They wouldn't get any better.
But it really helped that the foodstuffs were just what they looked like. There was no need for me to hesitate when cooking.
"Ohh, this is good!"
The soup accompanied by sandwiches was met with a favorable reception.
That one line was the real pleasure of cooking.
"Really... and it makes the bread so easy to swallow, too."
With only solid foods... right?
Besides, we were outdoors, something to warm us up was great.
"I am sorry, it really should have been me to prepare it... but Alice-sama seemed to enjoy herself so much..."
"Eh? D-did I?"
No, well, certainly cooking is great change your mood.
"One has taken a liking to this, Alice! Well done!"
"No, uhm... thank you."
Somehow I'm only being praised for things outside of training...
Still, damn she's cute when she's gobbling up a sandwich.
Not that I would ever say it; she'd kill me.
"So, how far did thy Proficiency rise?"
I worked quite hard.
"Hoh. Then it shouldn't take much longer."
Nono, I just finally came back.
This is the place for 'It'll really take until freaking dawn', you know?
"If thou have exceeded 50, thou should already be able to target an area with it. With thy mana, one strike should still suffice for the likes of the enemies there."
I hurriedly checked Thunder.
Thunder (Proficiency 51) No Cast Time, 10s Cooldown, Area possible
"In that case, it really might not take all night."
"It doesn't hurt getting used to nocturnal combat, either. Alice! Thy eyes can see, too, right?"
About elven eyes, huh.
"I can. As I thought, you too, right, Till?
"Yes. And the dragon lass should be skilled at reading presences. It's good to further train it via nocturnal combat."
Ilya strongly nodded.
Ahh, that wolf's surprise attack still bothered her.
Although for me, it had been a fortuitous mistake.
Thanks to it, I had noticed a neat little trick.
"Then do thy best. One is going to sleep."
"You really sleep a lot."
Just like the child she looks like!?
As if drowsiness had shown itself the moment her stomach was filled with sandwiches and soup, Till rubbed her eyes.
"... come on, Till. Please sleep properly in the tent."
I took Till's hand who had started dozing off right then and there.
Her steps were uncertain, too.
By her hand, I guided her to the tent.
We entered and right after I pulled the blanket over her, she fell asleep.
"She has the sleeping face of an angel, though..."
Sheesh, I wanted to sleep, too, but as the disciple, I couldn't do that.
For the moment, I decided to clean up after the meal, take a little bath and go out again.
When I came back to Ilya, she had finished dinner, too, and had begun the clean-up.
"Ilya, when we're done cleaning up, I'm going to bathe a little in the lake, so please give me just a little bit of time for that."
"No, Alice-sama. During the bath you are the most unguarded; we have no idea what danger might lurk there. I shall accompany you."
She'll come with me?
"Uhm... your clothes?"
"Even without wearing a single shred, I shall not fall behind any enemy."
"I-is that so."
Well, she can stop a sword with her bare arm.
But, no, that's not where the problem lay.
"Now, let us go."
While talking, Ilya quickly finished cleaning up and now pulled me by the arm.
She took towels from our luggage and dragged me along.
You're so strong, Ilya!
I was no match at all.
I had already resigned myself.
And embarrassingly, my eyes worked really well at night...