Chapter 25 – Pair Party
Waiting beyond the door was an intimidating aura, arising from a single existence――Cerberus.
It was just resting with its eyes closed in the middle of the room, not worrying about what was to come. It was kinda cute to see the three heads all snuggled up, but it had a huge body, about three meters long, and taller than me.
It was only natural that we couldn’t help but take a step back after seeing it.
Speaking of Cerberus, it’s like a monster that usually comes out near the end of a game.
Why did an end-game boss have to be there in the first place? Well, that’s obvious. We went to the lowest floor of the dungeon, where no one had gone before. It was a given we’d end up fighting something like that.
「Hiroki-san, I have a bad feeling about this… Of course, I know that Hiroki-san’s evasion is amazing.」
「U-umm… Anyway for now, I’ll keep going over there, so Lusha-san, when the Cerberus targets me, move carefully along the wall and go to that exit. If the Cerberus attacks you, run away quickly.」
Lusha was surprised at my instructions. I might have been the only one who ever tried to move on to the exit without defeating the Boss.
Adventurers usually think completing the dungeon and defeating the dungeon boss are the same thing.
「Alright, come at me!」
When I provoked it, the cerberus got up and attacked me in a straight line.
The sharp fangs and pointed claws were terrifying. My legs trembled with fear, but I refused to run away.
「Increase defense 3 times, Strengthened 【Shield】!」
Using my skills, I accepted the Cerberus’ attack.
「Huh, thank goodness!」
The cerberus claws that I avoided pierced right through the ground. The power is enormous; a direct hit would kill me instantly.
In fact, that was true for a considerable percentage of adventurers, not just me.
After I avoided Cerberus’ attack several times, Lusha reached the designated position. She immediately set up her bow and started shooting.
Despite a spray of arrows coming our way, none of them hit.
「Uhh, this time it will…!」
With another volley of arrows, two of them managed to hit their mark.
Lusha shouted with delight, but her body was already drawing back the string for the next shot. Her flowing behavior radiated beauty even in the middle of battle.
The question was whether I could retain Cerberus’ attention. I drank the last monster potion, so even if it took a considerable number of Lusha’s arrows to bring it down, it should keep attacking me no matter what.
Even with the monster potion, I can’t treat this monster like a small-fry. If I act carelessly, both our lives will be at stake.
「Damn it, you can’t!」
Worst of all, when the attack hit, Cerberus changed its target from me to Lusha.
With her eyes wide open and legs shaking, Lusha quickly fired another arrow at the Cerberus, hitting it in the shoulder. It seemed to take a lot of damage from that blow.
「Increase defense once, 【Shield】, and once more, 【Shield】! Alright, Lusha-san, get out of there!」
Lusha continued firing arrows while trusting my defensive support. The Cerberus attacked her――but she was protected by my Shield and didn’t get wounded. It was a pretty good team play. She then moved to the side of the entrance.
――However, allowing the monster to attack the rearguard at all is the failure of the vanguard.
Cerberus, now unable unable to attack Lusha, immediately shifted back to targeting me. Of course, it didn’t hurt or injure me because it couldn’t hit me.
「…………Lusha-san, please continue to attack from there!」
Lusha was literally in the safe zone on the other side of the boss room. The Cerberus couldn’t go beyond that point, but she could safely attack it from there.
As I instructed, Lusha pulled out her bow and shot another arrow. It was easily able to make the distance to Cerberus. Unfortunately, that one didn’t hit, but this continues, we should be able to beat the Cerberus without Lusha getting hit.
…I mean, this is totally like abusing video game AI.
「It’s a little awkward, but… I’ll keep shooting!」
Lusha fired another volley of arrows at the Cerberus. Out of ten arrows, two of them hit, and the cerberus growled in pain.
And in the next moment――!
Two of the three heads slumped as if taking their last breath, and the remaining head continued barking like it was in pain. Its eyes turned red, and seemed to radiate the power of all three heads put together.
What’s going on?
Fresh blood splattered in front of me.
「Aaaahhh! Uh… 【Shield】【Heal】【Regeneration】!」
I used my skills before I could recognize what happened.
The Cerberus apparently struck with a multi-hit attack. My side took a hit, and some of my blood was spilled, but the wound has already healed cleanly, so it’s fine. It was frightening to think of what would have happened if I hadn’t already used Shield earlier.
「It’s alright, I’m still alive!」
「Don’t just say “I’m alive” like that…! Ohhh, thank goodness!」
When I saw Lusha, she seemed to be desperately enduring her tears.
I’m sorry I was so confident and made you worry. As soon as possible, I need to acquire proper equipment, knowledge and skills from this world.
…Actually, how is the Cerberus?
Maybe it’ll get even angrier because I keep enduring its attacks? Fortunately, all its normal attacks can be avoided easily. Even if the Shield gets worn down after the strong attacks, I can just reuse it immediately. However, it seems I won’t last long if I keep relying on that.
While I was thinking about that――an arrow penetrated its head. The huge body of the Cerberus fell to the ground, dead.
「Wow, you really knocked it down, Lusha-san.」
「Yes, thanks to you, too!」
Lusha ran up and hugged me tightly. I braced myself beforehand so that I wouldn’t get knocked down.
「Thank goodness, Hiroki-san is still alive…! For a moment I thought it was all over!」
「Ah, haha, I’m fine, so don’t cry.」
Lusha cried anyway, since the tension was broken and her stress could be released. I gently wiped her tears.
Wait, but that’s too close, too close! I can’t move at all. She also smells good and her hair is so soft and I have no idea how to get her to stop crying. What should I do?
Uh, seriously, what can I do?
「Alright, alright, don’t cry anymore. I can’t bear to hear you cry so much.」
「Ah, y-yes. I’m sorry, I was just so worried…」
「…………What, that was for me?」
「It makes me happy that you care enough to worry about me that much.」
Come to think of it, I remember Lusha’s words from before, when she wanted to become my partner. However, I have some concerns.
It’s not about her as a partner, but rather about taking a younger girl with me to the demon continent, a place which is said to be very dangerous. Lusha may be strong, but I regret deciding on my own where we should go, just for my own convenience. It’s probably my Japanese habits coming out.
Now, let’s see…
There was nothing I could do but come to a decision immediately.
…………I’ve decided. I’m not a man if I can’t do this much.
「…If you become my partner, you may have to fight against strong enemies on the Demon Continent, or even be chased by the King along with me.」
「Uh, the King…?」
「But I wanted Lusha-san to become my partner, so please be my partner from now on!」
I felt like Lusha said something in the middle, but I ignored it and kept talking. Finally, I lifted my head.
She was staring at the ground, herself. I couldn’t see her reaction, so I didn’t know what kind of face she was making. The silence dragged on, and I started to feel nervous that she suddenly disliked me.
However, that was just my own anxiety.
「Please take care of me from now on, Hiroki.」
「Huh? Oh. Me too, Lusha.」
She showed me a superb smile when she looked up, and because she dropped the honorific from my name, I dropped it from hers as well. We shook hands on it and became a duo.