Chapter 20: Imminent Crisis
Somewhere in the first floor of the labyrinth, Aria was charging into battle. Her big eyes spied a monster, and she didn’t hesitate to move in. With her inherent skill in effect, Aria closed the gap in an instant.
Her target: a group of five goblins, the first she sent flying into a wall with a lightning fast kick to the face.
As she landed she turned in place, catching two more goblins on either side with her knives. Two down before the goblins had a chance to react, and she was already heading in deeper to finish the job on the first.
The last two finally caught up to the situation when their comrades were already dead, and jumped at Aria to fight back.
「NYAN («Icicle Lance»)!」
But an adorable meow came from where Aria stood before the fight began, and following it was a pair of frozen spears into the goblins’ chests. It was Tama doing that, of course.
The pair were well in sync, Aria stabbing her knife into the injured goblin she chased down just as Tama felled the other two.
After a bit of struggling, the last goblin went slack.
「We did it, Tama! Thirty bodies down!」
After getting their equipment from Vulcan, the two were quick to jump back into the labyrinth.
At first, having mistaken Tama as a cat and deciding to bring him along, Aria had no idea how to actually fight alongside him. After a few fights, though, she figured out that Tama was mostly using his abilities to protect her.
Soon enough Aria took up the vanguard, and Tama covered the rear.
Hm, good thing Master’s a quick study. I may be a behemoth, but my body is still young. I can’t keep up with her yet. And I can’t use my Tailblade or Flight since she thinks I’m an elemental cat.
Tama was uncertain about only being able to use the elemental skills he learned from consuming his enemies, but Aria was quick to get a hold on what Tama was capable of with them. Thanks to that, he didn’t have to stay by her side to protect her.
「Since we’ve gotten this far, want to check out the next floor? If you’re with me I’m sure it’ll be okay, and I’m sure it’ll be good training too.」
Aria finished up slicing off goblin ears during their conversation, and Tama enthusiastically agreed.
Somewhere on the second floor, Aria and Tama encountered that thing.
A large and muscled monster about 180 centimeters high, with bloodshot eyes and a nose like a pig.
“Orc” is what it was called. And for some reason, it seemed extremely excited, breathing raspily and frothing at the mouth.
Not a surprise, though. Orcs, like goblins, can crossbreed with humans and elves. Its lust is also far higher than a goblin’s. If anything, it’s a miracle that this one didn’t go barrelling at Aria on sight.
「Uuu… that thing is so gross…」
On the other hand, Aria recoiled in disgust as soon as she laid eyes on it. There was probably something strange going through her head.
Apparently, even for the girl who wanted Tama to “nyan nyan” her like a wild animal still thought an orc was too much.
Angered by her rejection, the orc cried loudly as if declaring war on her. He brandished a large hatchet, then ran in and swung it down.
Aria nimbly stepped back, and the hatchet crashed into the ground. When the dust cleared, Tama took over.
His fireball nailed the orc in the jaw, setting its entire head ablaze. Caught up in agonizing pain, it dropped its weapon and batted at the flames.
「Nice one, Tama!」
The elf stepped in again, driving both of her knives deep into the orc’s chest. Aria kicked off his bulging belly and gained a bit of distance again, just as the orc futilely swung at her to get one punch in. Its fist only managed to hit thin air, the light faded from its roasted eyes, and its body hit the ground with a disappointing thud.
This was the first time Aria fought something bigger than her. It had always been slimes and those half-pint goblins up to now.
「Fufu… This is all thanks to you, Tama.」
「Nya~n. (It was nothin’.)」
First time I’ve killed an orc. Let’s take a bite. Probably got a skill or two.
Leaving Aria’s beaming smile, Tama approached the orc to sneak a taste, but—
Aria raised her voice, running up and snatching him to her chest before his teeth could touch the orc’s flesh.
「Mouu, you’ll upset your tummy eating nasty stuff like monster meat, so you can’t do that, okay?」
Mm… This isn’t good. I can’t get any more skills if I can’t eat any monsters we kill. What am I gonna do about this…?
Ignoring Tama’s internal distress, Aria went to cutting apart the orc.
「So what should we get for dinner, Tama?」
After defeating and slicing off part of the orc, they decided to end their adventure there and returned to the guild. Aria’s pouch was stuffed with goblin ears, so she was carrying the orc’s arms in a leather bag, leaving only one hand to pet Tama. An orc elimination’s proof is similar to a goblin, but since orc parts are valuable down to the bone, she decided to just bring back its arms.
「Hey there, Ana. Could I get a hand processing a quest completion?」
「Aria…! You came at the worst time. Please just return home for today.」
「Ana… What’s the matter?」
She expected a friendly reception from the bondage-bound muscle maiden behind the counter, Arnaldo Hwarzenegger, but instead (s)he was very hush hush about trying to get her out of the guild as fast as possible.
Before Ana could give her an answer, the answer himself appeared.
「I’ve been waiting for you, Miss Aria.」
Wearing fine equipment that did nothing to salvage his face that made you not want to talk to him, and his hair swept back by what was probably a slime-based hair gel… Kassman returned.
「Mr. Kassman… Is there anything you need me for?」
「Indeed there is, Miss Aria. I’m afraid I came here today to tell you just the most unfortunate bit of news.」
Despite what happened the day before, Kassman didn’t stop his hands from groping about. But he stopped soon enough to show off a sheet of parchment with a sleazy smile on his face.
「No! Why is this…?!」
Aria paled at what was written on the parchment.
“By order of the baron, the harmful beast (the elemental cat owned by the adventurer Aria) that injured the baron’s eldest son, Kassman, is to be slain.”