"Taku, it's impossible alone."
"Then gather comrades."
Even though I confided with him the unease I felt, my best friend who replenished his potions and Revival Medicine, Taku had responded bluntly.
"I told you it's impossible! Although I asked some of the store's regulars, either they already are in a party, or refused saying they're uneasy taking a crafter because of lacking battle strength."
"Yun, are your stats that low? Let me take a look."
Told so by Taku, I visualised my own Sense Status.
【Bow Lv41】 【Longbow Lv15】 【Sky Eyes Lv9】 【Speed Increase Lv30】 【See-Through Lv17】 【Magic Talent Lv46】 【Magic Power Lv50】 【Enchant Arts Lv28】 【Dosing Lv31】 【Cooking Lv27】
【Alchemy Lv33】 【Synthesis Lv34】 【Crafting Knowledge Lv35】 【Taming Lv9】【Engraving Lv3】 【Earth Element Talent Lv20】 【Swimming Lv13】 【Linguistics Lv20】
"With this you could somehow make it alone."
"What's your basis for saying that?"
After I stared at Taku, he explained his rationale.
"The quest boss' strength depends on the strength of the participating players, it seems like beginners can easily defeat it. On the other hand, with strong players participating apparently there's heaps of additional mechanics added."
"Then, in my case the boss will be weak?"
"There's a high possibility it may be so, but it might be just the opposite. Also, if there's few people, there's a possibility of matching you with others player in order to reduce the burden on the server, In which case you'll have to participate with other parties."
"What does that mean?"
"For example, if you go with a party of six, the boss battle will begin when another party joins in. The enemy's strength will be raised to match the participants. Is what it means."
After hearing Taku's explanation, I started puzzling over it.
If I join some party, I'll end up being carried, if I go alone I'll have to do a quest jointly with players I don't know and possibly hold them back.
Uhh, aaah, as I started growling out of worry, Taku heaved a grand sigh.
"Yun. Want to do the quest with our party?"
"Is that fine? Taku. Won't I be a burden to you?'
"You say that now."
"That was casually horrible of you."
That would mean that to Taku, I've been classified as a weakling, huh. Although I was tempted to protest, it was a fact, I couldn't refute since I was weak.
"Also, we've just received the quest too. If you miss this chance you'll have to look for a party again."
"G-got it. I'll get ready immediately!"
I rushed to the workshop part of the 【Atelier】 and hurriedly prepared my equipment.
Since I was going to face a quest boss this time, Ryui and Zakuro were staying home. Together with the Mischievous Fairy I performed a check on the equipment and consumables.
Although I prepared them after defeating the fourth Thorn Token, there was no party who would take me in for the quest and all of it was saved up until now. I took them out of the storage and moved them to my inventory.
"All right, preparations complete."
By the time I returned to the store part, Taku had just finished speaking with someone through friend call.
"Just got acknowledgement for your joining the party. We're going to meet up with Gantz and others now and have the fairies guide us afterwards."
"Leave it to me! I'll guide you to the Fairy Village's entrance——the Fairy Circle."
As she said so puffing up her chest, Taku smiled wryly at the Mischievous Fairy.
"Your Mischievous Fairy sure is energetic, Yun."
"Exactly, all she does is to drag me around."
When I said so with a shrug, Taku's fairy showed up. It was a male fairy, but it was pleasing to watch his figure dancing in the air together with the Mischievous Fairy as Taku guided me to a certain workshop.
"Sup'! Suddenly I hear that Yun-chan's participating, the party sure turns glamorous as the amount of girls in party increases."
"Gantz, stop ogling. But I am happy to see Yun-chan in the party again."
As we met, Gantz exuded "welcome" atmosphere at full force and Minute was appalled at his attitude. However, Minute also seemed positive about my sudden inclusion in the party.
"So, how is it?"
"How is what?"
Minute drew her face really close to mine, making me bend backwards a bit.
"I'm asking how did it happen that you're participating! What did you talk about?!"
With eyes full of expectations she prompted me to answer. That was a response which seemed like that of a girl wanting to listen to a love story, but unfortunately it wasn't anything that fun. In the first place, I'm a man.
"Just, as I was unable to find a party, Taku asked me if I want to come to yours and forced me to make a quick decision..."
"Kyaaa, Taku is quite the forceful type isn't he!"
No, really, how did she convert it in her brain to come up with that. It was just that I'll have to continue looking if I miss this opportunity.
"Minute, what are you doing?"
I had no idea how to respond to Minute who continued to talk excitedly, as I started to cringe Mami had joined us.
When I looked in her direction, there was Mami-san the mage in her mantle and Kei who asked a crafter to adjust his armour.
"Look, look Yun-chan has come!"
"Um, take care of me today."
"Hello, Yun-san. I'm taking good care of this kid here."
As Minute pressed onto my shoulders as I stood in front of Mami-san, she thanked me for the synthetic mob I previously made. Feeling grateful for her treasuring it, a smile had naturally spilled on my face.
"Kei too, take care of me today."
"Sorry about this, talking to you with such unsightly appearance."
"Since Kei is always clad in armour, it's more like stifling rather than unsightly."
"Shut up Gantz!"
As Gantz teased him with his cackling laughter, Kei had heaved a sigh calming down. Like this they unloaded the tension and enhanced their concentration, I guess the party's balance was good.
After a while Kei's armour adjustment was completed and he stood up.
"Well then, let's now have the fairies guide us to the Fairy Circle. Guide us, fairies."
" " "Leave it to us!" " "
With that said, the fairies preceded us flying in moderate distance away.
The location we were guided to was the forest on the west. As we advanced after the fairies, the scenery suddenly changed and we entered a small open space.
In the short grass, there was a space with grass squashed in a form of a circle——there was the Fairy Circle.
"Everyone, enter this circle! And then we'll go to Fairy Village!"
"Reminds you of the transition during the camp event, doesn't it."
Taku happily entered the circle as the first one. After that when everyone entered as if chasing after him, we understood that there was just enough space inside as to accomodate a party without having members bump into each other.
"Okay then, let's go. ——【Transfer】!"
" " "——【Transfer】!" " "
As the same time the fairies shouted, a white light had shone from the circle under our feet. It gradually grew stronger, at one point it was too dazzling to look at and we covered our eyes with our hands and closed our eyes.
Rather than the light-headedness of the transition, I couldn't feel anything for a while. And, once someone pat my shoulder, I fearfully opened my eyes.
What I saw, was the same circle we saw before and a forest with slightly overcast atmosphere.
——【Limited Quest: Save The Fairy Village 3／ 4】——
Head to the centre of the Fairy Village to save the Fairy Queen.
I checked the menu and judging we have arrived in the Fairy Village, I stepped out of the circle.
"This is Fairy Village? Looks different than I imagined it."
"After the monster came our Fairy Village turned harsh. That's why, we'll drive away the monster and retrieve our home!"
The Mischievous Fairy spoke vigorously, the other fairies also said they'll do their best and defeat the monster.
"Let's go with our cooperation like usual——"
Since the quest wouldn't proceed if we remained by the Fairy Circles forever, Taku had prompted us to move ahead, and that's when a Fairy Circle next to ours had started emitting light.
Looking at it from the outside, only a pillar of light has rose up and the glare couldn't be felt. Then, human figures appeared in the pillar of light, after which the light gradually subsided.
Inside of there——
"Fairy Village, we've arriiiived! ...hey, eh? It's Yun-oneechan and Taku-san!"
The party that had transferred to the Fairy Circle next to ours, was Myu's party.
"So we got matched because we entered the Fairy Circles at similar time?"
"Which means we'll do the quest jointly with Taku-san! Seeing the difficulty rise further makes me all thrilled!"
"Right? With a strong enemy it's easier to raise our levels!"
As Myu and Taku got fired up having the same opinion, I who was particularly weak in the group, would rather ask for the difficulty not to be further increased.
"Take care of us during today's joint quest."
"Yeah, same here. Let's have some good cooperation as vanguards."
Lucato and Kei exchanged brief greetings and they confirmed their movements as tanks. Also, Hino and Mami-san joined in, extending the talk of cooperation to the rear guard as well.
The number of people increased, the amount of patterns for coordination has also increased. Since the amount of new mechanics added to the quest was quite low, I could see some hope.
"...Yun-san, are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I feel out of place as the only crafter, but I'm okay, probably."
That's right, I prepared enough High Potions and MP Potions to make sure I won't run out of them. I also replenished Revival Medicine so there shouldn't be any problems.
I closed my eys, it's all right, I said to myself calming my heart and opened my eyes again.
"HYAHOOOoo! The girl's ratio among participants went uppp!"
"Gantz, shut up! You're unpopular because you say things like that."
As Gantz made a guts pose, Minute lightly swung her mace at the back of his head.
Meanwhile, Rirei had drew close to Minute.
"Fufufu, let's get along today."
"Yes, take care of me."
"Also, once the quest is over, would you like to rest together somewhere? We'll take it slowly, carefully."
"Ahahaha, not just Yun-chan, but you're targeting me as well are you."
Rirei stared at Minute feverishly. As Minute's gaze wandered about, Gantz started to make noise with "it's hereeeeeee!".
"Rirei! You, troubling others again!"
In middle of this chaos Kohaku had made her entry and brought it to an end, somehow my nervousness before the start of the quest was blown away.
"I kinda feel my worries were silly."
"...well, it might be so."
I looked towards Toutobi who put on an embarrassed, wry smile and smiled in the same way.
It'll somehow work out, when I felt that, the next moment my 【See-Through】 Sense reacted.
There was a strong reaction from beneath my feet, I sprung away from the spot. Toutobi who also possessed 【See-Through】 also noticed it, both of us have looked towards a certain line and that moment——
"——A wall of thorns!"
The wall of thorns that appeared in front of us had rose up from the ground.
As the thorn wall's sudden emergence divided the party in two, the wall of thorns emerged all over the Fairy Village completing a maze.
I approached the wall and touched it. As I received damage upon contact, I pulled my hand away and raised my voice.
"Yun, calm down! We're fine!"
While I was relieved to hear Taku's reply, at the same time I grasped what was the situation.
Left on this side, was Toutobi, Rirei, Kohaku, Gantz, Minute and me, the six of us.
On the other side of the wall, judging by the voices I could hear, there was Taku, Myu, Lucato, Hino, Kei and Mami-san. It seems like we were split evenly into groups of six.
"Onee-chan, get away from it. I'll destroy this wall right away!"
"Haa?! Nono, wait!"
Wait a second. Before I could say it all, intense light had spilled over the wall above me, I hurriedly rolled to the side to avoid.
Immediately after, powerful light magic hit the wall. Other than that, Mami-san, as well as Rirei and Kohaku from our side had matched Myu's timing and attacked the wall of thorns from both sides, but no damage could be seen on it.
"This——it seems like it's treated as indestructible object, huh. Well, we can only meet up at the maze's exit."
Taku's calm analysis had echoed in the field.
"If there's something, let's contact each other by friend call. Is that fine?"
"G-got it! We'll somehow survive and head for the boss! Lucato and Kei, I leave Taku and Myu to you!"
"Hey, Yun-oneechan! What did you mean by that?! Heyy!"
Since I was uneasy leaving the two gamers roam as they please, I left taking care of them to Lucato and Kei who were people with common sense.
As I listened to Myu's voice as she was being dragged away from in front of the wall, I faced the members split onto this side.
"This, I'm the only man on this side! The story of my popularity starts here!"
"Nothing of the sort is starting! Heck, how about you put effort first before talking about being popular!"
"Fufufu, a single man had mixed in. Were it only girls I would have abandoned the quest and made a paradise in here. What a shame."
"Rirei, you sure are unshakable."
Gantz made one of his usual comedic remarks and Minute retorted tiredly.
And, acting as usual was Rirei with her yuri hobbies and Kohaku who sighed in response.
With no clue what to do, Toutobi and I just stood there flustered.
Eh? Is it just me or this side is full of elements that bring unease?
Since the gamers and people with common sense went over to the other side, the only ones that were left were the comedians and two of us, normal people.
"...what shall we do?"
I responded to Toutobi who had asked me.
"Right, Yun-chan! Speaking of things to do first, it would be confirming our forces!"
"Gantz says some good things at times. Then, to supplement it, after confirming the forces let's think about the formation and how do we move through the maze."
Since we weren't players who normally partied with each other I agreed with that and we have sorted the formation.
Toutobi as scout and Gantz who was a martial artist acted as vanguards. In the middle, the mages - Rirei and Kohaku. And, in the rear there was me who could use both bow and the kitchen knife instead of a dagger acting as an all-rounder and Minute the healer.
"Now that we decided the party's formation, next thing to decide is the leader, right?"
As I spoke in a form of a question, everyone nodded. And——
"Fufufu, in that case, let's have Yun-san as leader and have Toutobi as an assistant, how about it?"
"Ohh, 'dat sounds good."
"HAa?! No way, I can't do it!"
"...me too, I can't do it either."
Toutobi and I refused, Gantz and Minute noticed something from how Rirei and Kohaku wanted us to do it and backed them up.
"Isn't this a good opportunity? If anything, it's experience. Yun-chan can look over the whole party from the rear and Tobi-chan can deliver up-to-date information from the vanguard. Yup, it's a good combination."
"True. And, leaving it to Gantz would make us all uneasy."
Toutobi and I, through a majority vote had been decided to be the core of the party.
"Uhhh. Take care of me, Toutobi."
"...yes, please take care of me as well."
Even though it was forced on me, I couldn't abandon the role. The two of us thought of the movement of the party centred on Toutobi and me, and for what we couldn't decide alone we asked the rest of the party before deciding.
"We've got lots of mages and from the pure fighters we've only got Gantz. It would be difficult to fight."
"...you're right. Since we don't have a tank who would attract the mobs, it would be best to avoid combat as much as possible."
"Mainly, let's avoid combat. If we absolutely cannot avoid it, let's hold enemy down then retreat until we can annihilate them with magic, I guess.
Then, with Toutobi in the vanguard and me in the rear, we would proceed through the maze warily making use of 【See-Through】 Sense. In the narrow maze, it was hard to escape but it was easy to hit the enemy with magic.
Once we told everyone how the combat will look in general, each of them had responded with their own impression.
"Fufufu, I have no objections in particular. After all, mages mainly attack from the distance."
"Yer' right. Not like 'lot changed in what we do."
"Still, this way of doing things is very much like you. If it was Gantz preparing tactics, it would all end with a vain assault on the enemy."
"That wouldn't happen... uh, I can't deny it. But well, I'll do my best to hold back the enemy this time. My low kicks will go full burst!"
And then Gantz repeatedly did a few low kicks, the sound of his legs cutting through the air was quite loud.
However, rather than having Gantz stand in front I assumed I would hold back the enemies with my 《Clay Shield》 and bad status arrows, so I don't know if he'll even have a chance to try.
"Now that we've decided, let's go. Mischievous Fairy, can you guide us?"
"Nope, no can do. I have no clue which way to go."
Mm-mm, the Mischievous Fairy raised a groan, unable to grasp the route through the maze. I thought that she should just fly upwards and find out, but as she tried to fly up the thorns would extend and strike her down, making me give up.
"...then, let's just proceed along the wall on the right.
"I guess that's the basics. I'll try to make a map so let's move on."
I took out pen and paper used with 【Linguistics】 and moved through the maze.
Based on the width of the maze, I started drawing a map of what I could see with my 【Sky Eyes】.
I mapped down the traps and treasure boxes either Toutobi or I found with 【See-Through】 and shared the information within the party.
"...Yun-san, there's an opening in the wall of thorns on the left side."
"Aw, did I miss it? I'll add it to the map right away. Toutobi and Gantz, check it for traps and come back after confirming what's there, if enemies appear wipe them with magic. 《Enchant》——Speed."
"We'll be going then."
With the two vanguards preceding for luring out enemies, we proceeded forward. So that we're not attacked from behind, we used a similar mechanic. While defeating as few enemies as possible, when it came down to combat I put down a 《Clay Shield》's wall behind us to prevent a surprise attack.
Weak mobs, Thorn Tokens appeared in the maze, their appearance was like degraded versions of the Thorn Tokens that appeared so far. The army of thorns that mimicked shapes of various organisms was easily beat by simultaneous sweep of magic.
However, if in this narrow maze a large amount of mobs appear from a monster house-like trap right in front of us, we'll suffer lots of damage so we had to act carefully.
Aiming for a large amount of Thorn Tokens overflowing from opened door, Rirei and Kohaku released their magic.
We repeatedly lured them out and examined the emptied monster house after annihilating the enemies.
"In normal dungeons there's a lot of normal and monster traps. The only saving grace is that they don't respawn."
Talking about that were me and Minute who had nothing to do in the rear.
I only focused on mapping or independently lured out mobs from a distance using a bow.
"...let's rest in that room for a while. I'd like to check the map, too."
"You're right. The enemy isn't respawning and there's only one entrance which makes it easy to defend."
I agreed with Toutobi's proposal, we entered the small room to take a break.
"Sorry, Toutobi. I missed some monster houses."
"...no, it's thanks to Yun-san finding the simpler things that I can focus on searching for traps."
Since neither of us had rushed the conversation, we spoke which was quite pleasant. Toutobi chose easy to understand words so that I keep up. If Myu was to be the assistant, she would shower me with gamer terminology and cause my head to burst from confusion.
"Really, I'm very grateful for your assisting."
As I thanked her from the front, she raised her muffler up to her mouth in embarrassment and answered in fading voice. Somehow, with Toutobi facing downwards and blushing, an awkward atmosphere appeared between us.
I lightly scratched my cheek with a finger, wondered if there's something I could do, I took out a certain something.
"Um... if you need to recover satiety... would you like to eat?"
"Aaah! Not fair! I want to eat too!"
"Yes yes. I've got more cookies, but I need to deliver them to people stealing glances this way first."
With that said I passed cookies for Gantz and the others, their own partnered fairy received it and carried it over to them.
"Ahahaha, that was surprising, to think Yun-chan and Toutobi would show us heart-pounding scene."
"What to say. 'Dat made my heart pound as well."
"Fufufu, it felt like a relationship of a girl school's onee-sama and an underclassman. By all means, I want to mix in there."
Even the normally retorting Minute and Kohaku gave up on that and stared at us, their faces red. As for Rirei, while giving cookies to fairies she looked towards us with passionate gaze and ecstatic expression.
"Yun-chan's, a girl's home-made cookies! I'll win with this!"
Gantz alone just held the package with cookies shivering with joy, hurry up and eat.
I too passed a small packaging to the Mischievous Fairy for eating, and then we resumed our search.
Taku and his group where the power-type players have gathered would proceed by blowing away all the enemies, but in our case the goal was to catch up with them quickly but carefully, prioritizing safety.
Along the way, Toutobi opened a found treasure box and the wall of thorns moved changing the structure, but thanks to steady mapping we slowly closed onto the exit——
"We did it. Finally at the goal."
"Yeahh! We can join up with Taku and the others."
Seeing the exit from the thorny maze Minute heaved a sigh of relief, Gantz immediately started running towards the outlet with the fairies charging right after him.
I'd like it more if he didn't act so recklessly, it's not like I'll request of him to act paranoid, but if there are traps or mobs by the exit, it will end up with Minute nagging at him.
Chasing after Gantz, we passed through the maze's exit.
Outside the thorny maze there was——
"Taku and the others aren't here. So we arrived earlier, huh."
Now of all times, I looked around.
The withered flowers spreading under our feet were probably a beautiful flower garden before. And, if this was the Fairy Village's centre——
——【Limited Quest: Save The Fairy Village 4／ 4】——
Defeat the Half-Beast Plant 【Cannibal Plant】 and save the Fairy Queen.
I confirmed in the menu that the quest has progressed and looked for the boss in question.
I moved closer to the centre of the dead flower garden, but as I looked around nothing that resembled a boss could be seen.
"It's not here. Where is——?!"
A piercing response of 【See-Through】 had approached from below.
"The boss is appearing! Everyone prepare!"
Toutobi and I noticed its existence, I picked up the bow and shouted.
With just these words everyone entered battle readiness and waited for the boss' appearance.
What appeared digging through the ground, were multiple thick thorns that entangled together forming a huge tree and bloomed with countless of roses. And, two vine-like whip thorns that protected the roses.
The huge rose tree that looked like the main body 【Cannibal Plant】 and the 【Thorn Whip】 protecting it have appeared in front of us.
"Yun-chan, what do we do?!"
"You're the leader so give us some instructions!"
"At time like this, what would Taku or Myu say..."
I didn't think taking down that huge rose tree would be simple. Moreover, I didn't have experience as a leader. I wasn't strong. Taku and the others weren't here. In this situation where I had nothing, I could only believe in my comrades.
"We don't know the fight so just respond appropriately for now! 《Zone Enchant》——Speed!"
I believed everyone would move optimally and cast a speed enchant on them raising their avoidance abilities.
Gantz from the vanguard immediately proceeded with charging in, basing on the experience so far he launched an attack on the main body's roses.
I overlapped more enchants on Gantz who was the first to get in contact with the enemy. When he extended his palm towards the rose as to crush it, the 【Thorn Whip】 had coiled around his wrist and retaining his momentum threw Gantz into the air to the left.
"Ohh?! Not bad. But——"
Confirming that the main body doesn't attack by itself, Gantz grinned broadly. Immediately after that, Toutobi started running.
Toutobi got through the second 【Thorn Whip】 and momentarily scattered two roses. She entered a location difficult to aim at and ran to the opposite side.
The roses on the main body were numerous, but it didn't mean they were difficult to deal with.
And, our attacks weren't over yet.
It was Rirei's flame and Kohaku's whirlwind they couldn't use to their fullest in the narrow maze. Momentarily, it wrapped around the 【Cannibal Plant】's body and burned off roses all over it.
The flame whirlwind not only burned the 【Cannibal Plant】's roses but also the 【Thorn Whip】, the length of its vines shortened to half of their original.
"——《Rapid Fire Bow - Second Form》!"
I scattered the roses remaining after it was burned. Toutobi and Gantz moved to the opposite side of the maze's exit and took down the roses one after another.
Then, when the last rose was taken down, the rose tree started ringing and more of huge rose flowers had appeared.
"It revived, how cumbersome. This enemy is like that Great Eater of Mythical Beasts. Yun-chan, what do we do about it?"
"Although the rose weaknesses have become bigger, their numbers decreased! If we repeat it, they'll eventually run out, right?"
"Should I join in and attack with light magic?"
"Minute, please focus on healing."
Although she proposed to participate in attacking, I had Minute focus on the healer's role in order to maintain safety margin.
With the second repetition, the amount of 【Thorn Whips】 increased by one and got in our way.
There were fewer chances for Kohaku and Rirei to release their combined magic and they devoted themselves to avoiding, meanwhile they scattered the roses with single target attacks.
The roses grew, but since their number decreased they were easy to aim at. However, the pace of the newly grown 【Thorn Whips】 had increased, interfering with us. When they revived for the third time, the thorns started striking indiscriminately in all directions. Moreover, the interval between its attacks had decreased, turning a storm of lashes.
The power of the barbs was quite low when it was just a single hit, but if you couldn't ignore them and continue receiving attacks.
Minute did her best combining recovery magic and use of potions. In addition to that, Kohaku and Rirei created a safety zone with magic and destroyed the roses slowly, one by one.
"Damn, so I made the wrong choice. Maybe we should have stopped attacking mid-way and just bought time until Taku and the others come."
"...that's not true. Even now the enemy's attacks are gaining momentum so a short-term battle wasn't a wrong choice."
As I once again used the enchants and potions in the safety zone, turning weak-minded, she encouraged me.
Although only provisional, I'm the leader now. I need to stand firm!
"If only Kei was here with his shield we could get closer. It can't be helped, I'll go. Yun-chan, full support please!"
"Got it. 《Enchant》——Attack, defence, speed. And an extra 《Element Enchant》——Weapon!"
I put the full set of enchants on Gantz who went on with a suicide attack on the last rose.
After putting down three types of enchants, I consumed a fire elemental stone to put a fire enchant on Gantz's fists.
"Uohhh! My hands are on flames! Cool! And not hot at all!——"Just go already!"——Sure!"
As Gantz started joking around Minute sent him off by hitting him in the back. Starting with that hit's momentum he began to run from the magic's safety zone quickly and approached the tree drawing an arc.
Countless thrusts of Gantz's open hand carved the way open.
Starting with a single finger, with each nukite he used one more finger, doing four more attacks in succession.
He pierced through the 【Thorn Whips】 in the way and cut open the shortest way to the rose, the third and fourth attack touched the rose and with the flame enchant passing onto it, the roses scattered in middle of flames.
"All right, it's over now!"
Now that all the roses were destroyed, the 【Cannibal Plant】 boss was defeated.
"Unexpectedly, we somehow managed."
The remaining 【Thorn Whips】 rapidly withered and broken up into particles of light.
Although the thorn tree was still remaining in the centre of the flower garden, since there was no more roses blooming, this was probably the end.
"Yun-chan, I did my best so praise me!"
"Yes yes. Good job. Here, a High Potion for healing."
"Oh, how cold."
I threw him a High Potion, Gantz chugged it down recovering the damage he received during the last suicide attack.
Kohaku and Rirei also stopped deployment of their defence magic and unexpectedly taken aback, they spoke unanimously.
"Well, this, if we really defeated it before Taku and the others came they'll surely complain about it."
I smiled bitterly alone, but then a question had remained.
Why was it that the thorn tree didn't disappear even though no more roses were on it?
And, where is the saved Fairy Queen?
As I fell silent thinking of that, the Mischievous Fairy pulled the hem of my clothes.
"That thing is still alive."
What are you saying, I wanted to ask, but there was a change to the thorn tree.
The thorns have untangled and opened up, inside of them one had opened and a large rose emerged from inside.
The flower bud formed of overlapping heavy petals was so large we lost our composure.
Just what were those rose flowers we have destroyed so far, I wondered.
It wasn't a weakness, but pruning. It made it seem like we were pruning them in order to foster the huge rose.
And, as the rose gradually bloomed, the monster appeared.
In the centre of the roses there was a head reminiscent of that of a crocodile, the untangled thorns started to move like limbs. By the crocodile's throat there was a cage of thorns and inside of it, there was a girl with wings similar to that of fairies, she was being held captive.
"So this is the 【Cannibal Plant】's second form."
Immediately after Rirei muttered, the half-beast plant with crocodile head we looked up to has roared.
The roar was powerful enough to make me fall on my knees on top of the fine sand, I held down my ears.
Once the combat was over we relaxed, and since we all stood together, we received the same attack all at once.
Starting with 【Paralysis】 and 【Curse】, various bad statuses were put down on us at random.
The extended roar ceased, luckily I didn't receive behavioural inhibiting bad statuses like 【Sleep】 or 【Stun】 so I pulled out Paralysis Antidote potion, but at that moment two tentacles approached my feet.
"Toutobi! Kh, let go! Khahh!"
Toutobi and I were caught by the outstretched tentacles and lifted up. I tried escaping by twisting my body, but they entangled around my body firmly raising my feet from the ground.
"Let go, let me down! O-oww!"
A gasp of pain leaked out as my body was squeezed tightly. Kohaku and the others who weren't caught still haven't recovered from the bad statuses, so they couldn't move.
Toutobi who, like I did, received 【Paralysis】 let her voice out, but her body remained limp.
"Damn! If I could dispel this..."
Since from 【Paralysis】 and 【Curse】 bad statuses I first removed 【Paralysis】, I couldn't use magic because of the 【Curse】. Since my hands were constrained I couldn't use items and Minute, who was the healer had received the 【Curse】 and 【Stun】 bad statuses.
Gantz had high resistance, but he still received a light 【Paralysis】.
And, both Rirei and Kohaku had 【Sleep】 and 【Stun】 on them so it didn't seem like they would return any time soon.
"Well, isn't this a pinch."
We were in a desperate situation. The thorns bit into my arms and body, accumulating the damage.
And, both Toutobi and I have gradually approached the opened, huge crocodile head.
I wonder if we'll be eaten at this rate. Or maybe we'll be caught in the same way the Fairy Queen at its throat and won't be able to further participate in the battle, or maybe the quest will fail and we will be forced to retire.
Yeah, it's over. I thought and gave up on resistance, that's when——
"Don't ya give up. ——《Sonic Edge》!"
A shockwave tore apart the thorns that caught me and Toutobi, I was caught by someone before I fell to the ground.
"The star is here! First, recovery——《Cure》《Dispel》《Reset》《Cool Down》!"
Bad status recovery magic was used in rapid succession.
While the 《Cure》 was used for 【Poison】 and 【Paralysis】, 《Dispel》 removed 【Curse】 and 【Charm】. 《Reset》 was for 【Sleep】 and 【Stun】. 《Cool Down》 was for 【Anger】 and 【Confusion】, the recovery magic corresponding to two types of bad status each was used.
"Yoo, sorry. We're late."
"Hero is someone who appears late!"
As I looked at the comrades who emerged from the maze's exit, a sigh of relief leaked from my mouth.
With this, all twelve of us were here. From here on the real thing starts.
"The bad status attack doesn't affect everyone, but a specific area! Spread out moderately!"
" " "Roger!" " "
Taku immediately instructed and everyone promptly started moving.
My own abilities as a leader couldn't compare to that of Taku's, I looked up at him in daze.
"Taku-san, how long are you going to hold Onee-chan?"
"Oops, sorry, I forgot."
"Ehh?! Ah!! Hurry up and let go!"
Taku had let me down on the ground and I finally let out a long breath.
Somehow, I felt like we were being looked at with strangely lukewarm gazes, although, even despite that these shrewd players fulfilled their own roles properly.
"Taku, Myu. Um... you've saved us."
I said just that and ran over to the rear, meanwhile I heard "tsundere", "she went dere" "dere indeed" spoken in undertone.
However, as if to quieten down those voices Taku shouted instructions.
"Kei and Lucato-chan, block the attacks from the front! Gantz and Myu-chan, Tobi-chan and Hino-chan, attack from the sides. The rearguard, Mami-san use defence magic. Rirei-chan and Kohaku-chan focus on attacking. Yun, keep the boss in check with bow and assist the rearguard with enchants and MP management. Minute, I leave vanguard's HP management to you!"
In response to Taku's orders, I immediately passed MP potions to others, recovering their MP.
I subjected everyone within my range of sight to an attack enchant and once again stared at the boss having a wide perspective.
The 【Cannibal Plant】 boss, was a monster with a crocodile head inside a huge rose. Until now the boss' HP was synonymous with the amount of roses left on it, but now on the second stage his HP was displayed.
His head let out roars that induced bad statuses and tried to bite, as well as fired air cannon-like attacks from its mouth.
The thorn tentacles that protected the main body that was the crocodile head numbered six in total, on their tips there were rose buds. The attack methods of the tentacles were whip lashes, interference with a wall of thorns and releasing a solution liquids from the buds. The yellow liquid that fell to the ground dissolved it while raising a white smoke.
"You're in the way! ——《Sonic Edge》!"
Although Taku measured the timing of the crocodile head's attacks and attacked from the distance at the right moment, it was perfectly blocked by the thorn tentacles. Therefore, Taku changed the target of his attacks to the tentacles to destroy a part of them.
Even though the tentacles were destroyed by continuous slashes...
"I expected them to regenerate, but this is a bit too fast."
Taku spend some time destroying the tentacles, but they immediately returned to normal. We won't be able to safely attack the main body if we continue trying to destroy the tentacles. And so, before long the vanguard gave up on attacking them.
"Fufufu, so the regeneration speed is faster. Then, we can only focus on attacking the main body. Yun-san!"
"Let's go——《Flame Circle》!"
"Let's match it! ——《Little Tornado》!"
I used a magic attack-increasing enchant on Rirei and Kohaku, they used their combination technique, a flame whirlwind on the 【Cannibal Plant】 in front of us.
The flame whirlwind whose power was increased with stat enchant approached the boss with its power raised by entire level.
Although the wall of thorns blocked the flame whirlwind, only its power was dampened as it passed through and swallowed the rose flower and crocodile's head. We could hear the cry of the crocodile head from the flames.
"That was lots of damage! Let's follow up!"
Although three out of six tentacles disappeared, the 【Cannibal Plant】 brandished the remaining three and extinguished the flames.
Taku and the others from the vanguard rushed in when it was easy to land attack and released Arts one after another.
I also shot an arrow from a long distance together with them, contributing to combat.
Myu, Hino, Toutobi, Gantz and Taku have used their Arts continuously delivering large amounts of damage, including the flame whirlwind the boss lost 30% HP in total.
The thorns supporting the crocodile head bulged and the bulge gradually rose up approaching its mouth.
"Mhh! I won't let you! ——《Fortress》!"
"Same here! HAa! ——《Shock Impact》!"
Kei set up his shield against the air cannon 【Cannibal Plant】 fired. With just the distortion in the air as a clue, he activated defensive art at the moment it landed, instantaneously increasing his defence to offset the attack.
Moreover, Lucato used her Art-clad sword to parry away the solution tentacles emitted.
"Kei, that was awesome. Well done noticing that attack."
As I muttered, Mami-san responded.
"It's because he's been practising it hard. Kei is putting in a lot of effort."
At the moment of the attack he got down on his knees and angled his shield in order to parry the attack to the side. To be able to use such a skill against a practically invisible attack, as I was really impressed, Mami-san standing beside me boasted as if it was about her. Seeing it Minute made a broad, merry grin.
"I see, so it's the result of yours and Kei's practice together."
"EHhh?! T-that's not, true."
Mami-san responded with a somewhat fading voice, but even though she was upset she still maintained a defensive barrier of the wind.
Kei's physical defence and Mami-san's wind barrier. The rear guard was safe protected by the firm wall of the two.
"Now, let's continue attacking"
As Taku raised his voice, another opportunity for attacking appeared. Occasionally the roar placed a bad status on someone, if the person was far away Minute recovered them with magic, if they were close I used a potion. Dividing the role we continued fighting.
Along with the boss' HP decrease the speed of tentacles' regeneration and their amount has further increased and the attacks have grown more intense. But as everyone fulfilled their role properly, we continued to fight in a stable manner.
And, when we finally reduced his HP to 10%.
"All right, one more push! Everyone focus!"
In response to Taku's encouragement, I concentrated on applying enchants as my own attacks no longer passed through the enemy's intense attacks.
With speed increased the vanguard freely ran through the defence and aimed to approach the boss' crocodile head.
The thorn's whipping and the solution liquid. While resisting it the ones who dealt their blows last were Kei and Myu.
"UOOHHhh! Don't look down on shields!"
Holding the shield in front of him, Kei performed an assault with enhanced speed and using the shortest route. It looked as if a lump of steel had been advancing. Hiding behind Kei who blocked all attacks and blew them away with his momentum was Myu, who sprung up at the moment they approached as close as possible.
"Like this, I can decide it with the last blow! ——《Fifth Breaker》!"
Maintaining her posture in mid-air Myu had slashed five times with her sword, then passing by the crocodile head she landed on the ground.
She should have cut down the rest of his HP, but the boss was alive and well. No, his pupils were dyed in red colour and he had turned enraged.
"Heyhey. Even if they added extra mechanics and increased difficulty, you must be joking with this enrage mode at the very end!"
Although he no longer had any HP, the 【Cannibal Plant】 entered enraged mode and wouldn't fall unless he was hit by the finisher and the damage dealt to the vanguards was greater than ever.
"Make it in time——《Round Heal》!"
Thanks to my zone enchant and Minute's area heal we were able to mitigate the damage dealt to the vanguard, but in order to rework our strategy everyone had return to the back as we stretched out defensive magic at full power.
We gathered together and looked at the 【Cannibal Plant】 boss through the smoke caused by the solution liquid he released as we prepared a new strategy.
"...what do we do? How do we deliver the last blow?"
As long as we hit it with one last attack, there'll be no problems. So even with poor attacks given enough tries we would eventually get it, but we still sought a method that would increase the probability even a little bit.
"How can we safely make that last attack enter, huh."
"I'll do it! I want to do it!"
"Gantz. Right now we aren't looking for volunteers, but for the method to deliver it safely."
And, among various opinions spoken over a short amount of time, Myu proposed a certain plan.
"Here, here! I've got an idea!"
"Myu-chan, what kind of plan is that?"
"You see, I think having Onee-chan make a suicide attack is the best approach!"
Startled by the sudden proposal, I listened to Myu's plan. Certainly I could understand why was it, and the plan was adopted.
The strategy was fairly simple, all the attackers would carry me up to the boss or something like that.
"Toutobi, have you finished preparing?
"Yes. I'm all right. Let's go! ——《Shadow Dive》!"
Toutobi entered my shadow and entered standby in subspace.
My role was to safely carry Toutobi close enough to the boss so that she decides it with the last attack. I was chosen because I could use 【Substitute Gem's Ring】 accessory to block a few attacks.
Protected by Taku and others from the vanguard I would get closer to the boss protected by the 【Substitute Gem's Ring】 and carry Toutobi safely.
"Operation start! Don't get in our way!"
Along with Taku's command, Rirei and others from the rearguard switched from defensive magic to attack magic and an exchange had started between their magic and the liquid solution.
"I'll bet everything on this shield and defend with my all! ——《Fortress》"
"I'll also bet on this sword of mine! ——《Shock Impact》!"
The vanguards started running at full power. Taku, Myu, Gantz, Kei and Lucato protected us and were striking down the approaching enemy.
Kei and Lucato held their weapons in front and parried attacks as they moved forward.
"I won't let you get Yun and Toutobi! ——《Sonic Edge》!"
"I won't lose either! ——《Sol Ray》!"
Taku and Myu let out long-range attacks and cut down 【Thorn Whips】.
"I'm not good at precise attacks, but let's do it! ──《Wisdom of the Stream》!"
Gantz hands lit up with pale light and he blew away the attacks that passed by Taku and the others.
However, after Arts' usage there was a moment of stiffness.
Right after parrying an attack, Lucato received an attack from the liquid solution in the blind spot outside of her weapon's protection and fell on the back from the impact.
"Yun, don't stop!"
Reprimanded by Taku, I continued moving although I almost stopped on spot. And, blocking the hole after Lucato fell was Kei who not only used his shield, but also caught attacks with his armour and spread arms.
"I won't let attacks pass! Take care of rest of the thorns now!"
"I know! ——《Sonic Edge》!"
Taku's and Myu's attacks brought down all the 【Thorn Whips】 again.
"Yun, run before they regenerate!"
I passed by Kei's side and closed onto the boss all at once. There were several tens of metres left. As I ran into a position from which Toutobi could attack, new 【Thorn Whips】 appeared from the ground.
"Tch, so there were more of the henchmen. From here I won't make it."
In the back Taku started dealing with another 【Thorn Whip】 that started regenerating. In here, I'll have to survive by myself.
"I'll show you a crafter's potential!"
Seeing the thorns come from both left and right, I received some time to think from 【Sky Eyes】. No matter how much I struggled I wouldn't be able to get out of it safely. Therefore, I rushed in prepared to receive damage.
I pressed Magic Gems I had in my right hand onto the thorn and blew it up. For the attack coming from the left I dived forward receiving a minimal amount of damage.
My own 【Bomb】's Magic Gem and the damage from the thorn were enough to shatter the 【Substitute Gem's Ring】 gem.
There were five metres remaining. At the distance of few steps away, my legs stopped.
"Even though I'm almost there!"
I looked at my feet and saw the thorns which attacked me earlier entangle my ankle.
I could hear Myu's voice. I was currently being raised up by the tentacles holding my ankle tightly. If I fell here caught by thorns and was defeated, Toutobi lurking in my shadow would also be caught.
But I won't give up!
"Myu! Light! As strong as possible!"
"!! Got it. ——《Light》!"
The meaning behind my words was relayed correctly. Myu used her support magic 《Light》, the blinding brightness illuminated the surrounding area. Influenced by it my shadow had grown long extending up to the 【Cannibal Plant】.
"Dash up, Toutobi. ——《Clay Shield》!"
Toutobi who was lurking in the shadow had leaped out of it.
I created an earthen wall that became a scaffolding leading the way to the crocodile head, Toutobi ran up over it. As she leaped from the wall of earth the dagger she held in her hands emitted light and she swung it to pierce the crocodile's throat. The slash drew a big arc cutting the thick crocodile's neck. Just like that, the head alone had disappeared.
The remaining thorns have gradually withered and shrunk, in the end what remained was just a beautiful, giant rose.
And inside of it, a single woman stood up.
"Thank you, people of the Fairy Village for heading to the outside world to seek help. And, thank you, human who have responded to our Fairy Village's inhabitants' plea for help."
The NPC had began to speak in soft and crystal clear voice. As everyone gathered around her, the NPC spread her folded wings, emitting a pale phosphorescent light.
"I'm the Fairy Queen of the Fairy Village. You have my thanks, gratitude for helping us."
We were able to safely clear the time-limited quest 【Save The Fairy Village】.
All the players and their fairy partners that led them to this place have moved close to each other and faced the Fairy Queen. And then, the 【Cannibal Plant】's huge rose withered and was absorbed by the flower garden, which had bloomed with colourful flowers. The fairies hiding in the distant forest had began to gather.
"This Fairy Village received the monster's assault and received severe damage. From here on we intend to join our forces to restore it to its previous state, but right now there's nothing we can offer you as thanks. Therefore——"
It seemed like something was transmitted among the fairies. The Fairy Queen who started speaking quietly and the fairies nodded. Of course, the Mischievous Fairy floating beside me also nodded and moved in front of me.
"Well then, take care of me."
After saying so, she changed into particles of green light and was sucked into a Rugged Iron Ring that was on the finger of my right hand.
Taku's, Myu's and the others' fairies were sucked into either their equipment or bodies in the same manner and disappeared.