Chapter 16.2: Perspective Change
Taking sharp breaths, the archer continued the tango that had his enrollment on the line. He ducked as another root swung at his head in an attempt to knock him out. Droplets of sweat flew off his skin. The fog only made their placation worse. Each step he took amplified the burning sensation coming from his legs, but he refused to stop. The heavy band on his neck was a nuisance; it was something he refused to hand over.
“Damn it… Damn it!” he cried out in desperation, nocking an arrow heedless of the incoming roots.
“Give up. Using a ranged weapon in an environment like this is impossible. Now hand over those bands like honest people. There’s no need to get hurt.”
The archer knew that Hiroaki’s words were true. Neither he nor his teammates were suited for close-quarters battle. Every time he drew back his elbow, he was forced to immediately straighten so it wouldn’t be broken by the roughly textured whips that assailed them endlessly. He’d tried to use an arrow to cut down the roots, but the result had been maddening: one of his 10 Speculo-formed arrows had been broken and recalled into his body.
Attempting to loose an arrow in this madness was truly suicide. However, the archer’s mind had already been driven into a corner. He let his body be battered as he took aim. His body strengthening was broken in a flash, but it gave him just enough time for the enemy to be reflected in his bloodshot eyes.
“Dang it!” Realizing what the enemy had planned in his desperation, Hiroaki sent one of the roots straight at his head to knock him out. The root hit true, and the archer crumpled forwards. Unfortunately, the arrow had already been shot.
Whistling through the air, the projectile that marked the archer’s last effort flew straight towards Hiroaki’s face. Cursing, he heaved Yggdrasil out of the dirt with a grunt, cutting it off from the roots. Just in time, he managed to bring it up in front of him. The arrow dispersed before it collided; it had no strength behind in it.
No longer connected to their master, the roots had begun to retreat back into the ground. The two others took the opportunity to run away with the unconscious guy. Hiroaki clicked his tongue as he watched them disappear into the fog. He could only spread Yggdrasil’s roots so fast.
“Ah, I let them go… But, I did get one of them and they’re heading towards Haya. I guess this ain’t too bad.”
Content with his work, he cast the low-rank spell Call to send his voice to his teammates. In concept, it was similar to a group voice call. It was the most popular form of communication in the Magic Era, as It was impossible to tap into, and using it felt like talking to someone who was right next to you. Almost every post-Magic Era phone had a built in Call spell that amplified its effects.
“How’s everyone doing? I got one down, and the other three are headed towards Haya-san. By the way, I’ve drained about 80% of my mana, I think. I won’t be able to effectively use Yggdrasil for a bit.”
He received immediate replies from Haya and Tsubaki.
“That’s fine! I got the three of them already, Hiro-chan. I’ll finish them off!” cheered Haya.
“Well, I found a group, but they were working together with someone else! So I stayed up in a tree and sent a bunch of spells down at them. But, now they’re running towards Haya-chan, sorry!” reported Tsubaki.
“Ehhh?! Tsu-chan, three groups all at once is too much—” Before Haya could get her complaint out, she was cut off by another voice.
“Sorry for the late reply, I was herding the last few groups into Haya’s direction. That’s too more from my side.”
“Ama-chan whyyyyy!” cried out Haya.
“Hmm? What’s wrong?”
The spell could only pick up voices, but Hiroaki could’ve sworn he’d heard the loud, dry sounds of wood being torn apart coming from Haya’s side. But before he could confirm it, he heard a loud sigh.
“Fine, fine! I can do it! I see one—no, I see three groups. I’ll be back!”
With that, Haya exited the spell, and Amaya took over.
“… Okay, change of plan. Phase two and a half: we’ll help out Haya now that everyone is being herded towards her.”
“Ehehehe, I knew this would happen, so I’m already heading towards her!”
“As expected of our Tsubaki. Hiraoki, we’ll meet you there.”
“Haaa… Got it.”
Canceling the call and letting Yggdrasil flow into him, Hiroaki physically enhanced himself. He jumped up the branches and, at a certain height, started running along the trees. But before even half a minute had passed, he stopped as something sparked his interest.
“Hmm, a red-head and a wild boy?”
A person with average vision would’ve been unable to make them out, but Hiroaki saw the clearing as if it was a few meters away, just by squinting a little. After seeing their injuries and their exhausted faces, he considered rushing over to finish the job of whoever had fought them. A moment later, he quelled his greed.
“If Amaya saw this, she’d immediately say it’s a trap, wouldn’t she?”
Mumbling to no one in particular, he continued his journey. The tendrils of smoke around his feet were like fog above a pond, intent on dragging him down to the fishing grounds of their own making.