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“Are you hurt?”
Karen hesitated for a moment and took in a few deep breaths.
Then her face turned red and…
“Karaboshi. Why did you save me? Am I that unreliable to you? Did you think that I couldn’t deal with the attack back there?”
“Uh, no, I… Why wouldn’t I move while considering the worst-case scenario?”
“But, aren’t we supposed to be a team?”
“I see you as a comrade.”
“Then why did you save me when I was in the ‘best possible condition’?”
–She broke down there.
Karen could hold the tears back no longer.
Karen and Haruki were a team.
That is what she had believed.
However, if that were true, would he treat her like this?
Were they a team just because they could synchronize?
Haruki was always kind to her.
They had not even known each other in Chikaho, but he had helped her level up.
Of course, Karen and Haruki were not a couple.
They weren’t family. They may not even be close friends.
However, she had wanted to believe they were a team.
She had forced her way into the dungeon at his house and gone leveling up with him. She had taken his valuable time.
Furthermore, she became drunk on the power she had gained through the skill board in Chikaho, and that had resulted in her failure.
When she thought back on it, had she ever succeeded in anything?
She had done nothing but fail ever since she became an Adventurer.
And so she was well aware of how shameless she might sound to want more.
However, she could not help it.
Haruki had ignored ‘her moment’ and swept her away.
Was she fated to always be an obstacle for him?
“I have done nothing but fail. Perhaps I would have ended up failing again. I know that you don’t trust me. But, Karaboshi… I want to go on an adventure too. I want to do it with you. Please…let me.”
Karen said with a bow of her head.
“Please believe in me!”
All the heated emotions that had been kept away now burst out of her. She immediately started to shake.
What if he rejected her…?
It would be the end of everything.
It showed on her face.
“…What should I do…”
However, Haruki nodded.
He was listening to her.
The end that she had been dreading now vanished.
And her body felt warm again.
Karen wiped away her tears with her sleeve.
“Let me fight freely.”
“Please don’t worry about me. You should fight as if I am not there.”
“I will handle myself.”
Karen said resolutely.
She did not want to continue to walk down a safe path that he had prepared for her.
She would adapt to each battle and make her own path.
With Karaboshi Haruki–as comrades.
So he had to trust her.
Haruki listened to this and closed his eyes for a while.
What he was thinking about the most, was what Karen had said about the ‘best situation.’
It had been the worst situation for him.
So why was it the best for her?
10 seconds. 20 seconds.
He played the fight back in his head.
A storm of murderous rage and violence.
And in that, he saw a bright path.
He hadn’t seen it before.
…No, maybe he had seen it but he had ignored it.
The best path.
“Alright. I’ll leave it to you, Karen.”
She smiled brightly.
Still, there was awkwardness there.
She was still nervous.
Haruki knew what Karen was like when she first came to this dungeon.
He had seen so much of her when she was weak.
Maybe she would break if pushed too far?
Maybe she would fail and be badly injured?
Such worries constantly entered his mind.
Haruki didn’t want her to be injured if he could help it.
And so he had ignored that it was the ‘best situation’ and saved her.
But Karen had said it now.
She wanted to be on an adventure.
By thinking about her safety so much, Haruki was becoming overprotective.
He was taking that chance away from her.
And by doing so, he was largely limiting his own combat methods as well.
Realizing this and being sorry for it was the reason that Haruki decided to follow her suggestion.
They checked their equipment again and prepared.
Karen was especially careful.
When they were finished, they nodded to each other.
“Alright, let’s try again!”
They said together. And then Haruki ran forward at full speed.
He wouldn’t think about Karen anymore.
He would just think about the monster—about defeating the boss.
This time, the boss attacked as soon as he stepped foot into the room.
It immediately swung its weapon at him.
Haruki dodged the first attack.
He went around and attacked from the back.
But he was too slow.
The boss blocked him easily.
Concentrate more. More!
Don’t miss the attacks, the change, the signs!!
Haruki dug even deeper.
He headed to the limits of his concentration.
With his two daggers, he blocked the boss’s spear.
Sometimes the boss’s tongue would fly out of its mouth and attack him.
Due to this, Haruki was forced to stay on the defensive.
The boss was stronger.
But when it came to speed, Haruki had the upper hand.
He was managing it.
However, he could not launch any counterattacks.
The reason that it became a one-sided defensive battle, was because he lacked something.
What did he lack?
What was it?
As their blades clashed, Haruki thought about this dilemma. Then his lips curled and he laughed.
The boss’s head moved to the side.
It was Karen’s magic.
And then the boss’s attention moved towards her.
For a second, Haruki too was distracted by thoughts of Karen.
However, with a strong will, he ignored those reflexes.
—It was this.
This was the time!!
Haruki turned ‘Conceal’ on.
And he melted into the air.
The opponent he had been facing had vanished.
The boss noticed this and there was a short moment of hesitation.
As the boss headed towards Karen, Haruki threw his Silver Wolf dagger at its back.
His aim was true, and it stabbed deep into the boss’s shoulder.
The air around the boss’s nose and mouth shook violently.
In the meantime, Haruki moved to where the boss could not see him.
And then he turned ‘Conceal’ off.
The boss detected Haruki and swirled around.
Karen did not miss her chance.
Once again, her magic struck the boss in the head.
The boss’s eyes grew more and more bloodshot.
Just as it turned back to Karen, Haruki slashed at its back.
“Hey! Hey! Don’t forget about me.”
He immediately turned Conceal back on.
And then he easily dodged the spear thrust as the boss turned around.
And now for some improvisation.
The path they walked was always unpredictable.
If you took one wrong step…
He shuddered at the thought.
However, he also laughed.
This was good!!
Certain victory awaited him now.
While the road was narrow and dangerous. The end was now clear.
Haruki regained the enemy’s attention.
Rhea stopped the attacks that nearly hit him.
Karen would occasionally slam it with her powerful magic.
The target kept changing.
Haruki would use ‘Conceal.’
The boss could no longer ignore Haruki, just because his presence had vanished.
The target scale moved back and forth between Karen and Haruki.
The boss was now more open than ever before.
The boss reacted.
In that moment.
Karen’s magic came flying.
Magic crashed into the back that had a dagger pierced into it.
It pushed the dagger deeper into its shoulder, severing it.
The boss’s arm fell to the floor.
It lurched forward, screaming as it held its shoulder.
Its eyes were full of hatred as it glared at Karen.
And then it clenched its spear tightly with its remaining hand.
The boss threw it towards Karen.
Or it tried to.
“I told you. Don’t forget that I’m here…”
Haruki thrust his magic sword into the boss’s brain.
He pressed, and it sunk deeper and deeper with a wet sound.
The boss’s body twitched as it crumbled to the ground.
Haruki pulled out the blade and moved back.
10 seconds, 20 seconds.
The boss stopped twitching completely.
The dungeon began to flicker.
At the same time, he felt his body grow hot.
This time, the level up sickness was pretty bad.
Even as her legs shook, Karen raised her hand and approached him.
Haruki thrust out his right hand and shouted back.
On this day, Haruki and Karen had worked together, and become mid-rank Adventurers.