A heavy silence descended upon our surroundings.
“Hey, Fellow Believer Orochi.
Can’t we get out by using that [Earth Magic] you used before to dig a hole?”
Miguel asks me.
“It’s not like I can’t do it, but I can’t tell what the firedrake has done to the ground around here.
If I were to carelessly dig in a bad direction, the tunnel could end up collapsing and we would be buried alive.”
I heard that there was an incident like that at the excavation site in the Nest before.
Although, if I were to use the hardening magic (Concrete) that I used to reinforce the ducts with in conjunction with 《Tunnel》, it should be fine.
But although I trusted the children’s group for the most part, I don’t want to show too many of my cards.
If I were to be asked how I managed to get out afterwards, it would probably be hard to play dumb.
“Th, then, what are we gonna do?
I don’t want to be stuck in a place like this with no food.”
Says Beck, the glutton.
Miguel makes a shocked face, but Beck does actually have a point.
Since we were hunting close to the Nest this time, we only brought two days worth of rations.
“For now, let’s try exploring this cavern.
If we can find another exit then that would be good, but if that’s no good then we’ll get as close to the surface as possible and use 《Tunnel》.”
When I said this, the four showed relieved expressions.
This is all because I fell…”
Donna said, looking dejected.
Her cute dog ears were also lying flat on her head.
“Don’t worry about it! We’re comrades because we help each other out, right!”
Miguel says cheerfully as he firmly pats Donna’s shoulder.
“……Though the one who saved us wasn’t Fellow Believer Miguel, but Fellow Believer Orochi instead.”
Miguel’s speech is cut short by Elemia’s retort.
“Now, I have a suggestion. How about making Fellow Believer Orochi our leader just for now? After all, the most calm one right now is Fellow Believer Orochi, and the only one who can judge whether to use [Earth Magic] is also Fellow Believer Orochi.”
The current leader, Miguel, sharply opposes Elemia’s proposal.
“Ee-!? I mean, Fellow Believer Orochi is still a kid, ain’t he!”
“……That’s a fair point.
But I’ve come to believe that it would be better not to judge Fellow Believer Orochi by his appearance or real age.
I’m already tired of being surprised by him……”
Eremia murmurs the last part.
“M, me too……”
After Beck and Donna agree as well, Miguel approves it, albeit reluctantly.
Thus I’ve become the temporary leader for this team of stranded children.
Now, let’s see the statuses of the children.
First is Miguel.
A rascal with short red hair.
It’s fine to think of him like a protagonist of some shounen manga.
He often comes picking fights with me, saying stuff like “be my sparring partner”.
《Miguel Mittelt (<Yatagarasu> Group 1 member | 《Wonder Child》)
[Qinggong] 4 (By adjusting the flow of energy within one’s body via the use of a unique breating method, one can control their body movements to an extent that nears the limits of the human body.)
[Unarmed Martial Arts] 3
[Assassination Techniques] 1
[Assassination Skills] 9 (MAX)
[Unarmed Combat Skills] 9 (MAX)
[Stealth Steps] 5
[Keen Hearing] 5
[Night Vision] 3
[Dagger Techniques] 3
[Dual Sword Techniques] 1
[Shuriken Techniques] 1
[Knife Throwing] 1 》
Surprisingly, Miguel is the owner of a Legendary Class Skill.
Due to [Qinggong], Miguel’s movements are truly phantasmagorical.
He would be the type to pressure his opponents with his [Unarmed Martial Arts] while toying with them ― an in-fighter; a person specialised in close quarters combat.
The fighting style reminds me of Son Goku.
If he were to jump at me from close range, I wouldn’t be able to deal with it.
On the other hand, he doesn’t seem to be good at handling throwing-type weapons, as the skill that everyone is taught in <Yatagarasu>, [Knife Throwing], is stuck at level 1.
Next is Elemia.
Although there’s no need to point it out, she is a tomboy with short silver hair and tanned skin.
However, her appearance is too noble, so she doesn’t look like a boy as much as she thinks she does.
《Elemia Lotteroot (<Yatagarasu> Special Forces member |《Shrine Maiden of the Dark Forest》)
[Fatigue Transference]－(Transfers one’s fatigue to the people in the vicinity. Perpetually active.)
[Espionage Techniques] 4
[Sense Presence] 4
[Assassination Techniques] 2
[Assassination Skills] 9 (MAX)
[Shuriken Techniques] 5
[Dagger Techniques] 4
[Night Vision] 4
[Darkness Magic] 4
[Unarmed Combat Skills] 3
[Knife Throwing] 3
[Light Magic] 3
[Mana Perception] 3
[Wind Instruments] 2
《Blessing of the Dark Forest》(Medium compensation to the acquisition of skills (including magic) related to sensing presences and concealment .) 》
As always, it’s a status unbefitting of a seven-year old child.
Although I feel like she would say “You’re one to talk.”
Incidentally, it has been three years since Miguel and Eremia were dragged into <Yatagarasu>, so they would be the seniors in the children’s group.
She is a fair-skinned girl with floppy dog ears and uniquely braided, moderately long, black hair as her trademark features.
Although it doesn’t really look like it, she is also the oldest in the children’s group.
《Donna Harsha (<Yatagarasu> Group 1 member)
Therianthrope (Moon Dog Race)
[Microscopic Observation] 4
[Mixing] 9 (MAX)
[Keen Hearing] 7
[Water Magic] 4
[Telekinesis Magic] 4
[Stealth Steps] 4
[Night Vision] 3
[Mana Perception] 2
[Darkness Magic] 2
[Dagger Techniques] 2
[Assassination Skills] 1
[Unarmed Combat Skills] 1
[Knife Throwing] 1
[Tool Creation] 1 》
Rather than her athleticism, Donna’s role is to use drugs made by [Compounding] to obstruct enemies and provide support for allies.
Although she’s the oldest out of all the children, including those who aren’t here, it’s because she wasn’t well equipped with the physical prowess required as an emissary.
Even though when you think of beastmen you would normally have an image of someone with high physical abilities, Donna seems to have a higher aptitude for manufacturing-type skills that make use of her superior senses.
In regards to [Mixing], I tried asking Gazaine to teach it to me but,
“――Like I could teach that to a dangerous guy like you.”
I was refused.
Although everyone made it out of the landslide with only minor injuries, Donna applied the medicinal herbs she had on hand to treat our injuries.
Since it’s not like I could ask Melby (she is still here), I’m glad that she is here.
The final one is Beck.
He was a boy with a sturdy build and cropped blonde hair as a distinguishing feature.
Since he’s over 140 centimeters tall despite only being 8 years old, he will undoubtedly become a giant in the future.
《Beck Warne (<Yatagarasu> Group 1 member | 《Small Vajra》)
[Protect] 4 (Letting a God’s power dwell in your stance, you protect your allies by using your own body as a shield.)
[Super Strength] 2
[Greatshield Techniques] 6
[Battleaxe Techniques] 4
[Stealth Steps] 3
[Assassination Skills] 3
[Earth Magic] 2
[Dagger Techniques] 2
[Throwing Spear Techniques] 2
[Keen Hearing] 1
[Night Vision] 1
[Knife Throwing] 1 》
Although it feels like there aren’t enough offensive skills, [Protect]’s ability is amazing.
《Stance of the Iron Wall》 has a strong effect, reducing all frontal damage to 0.
But then again, Beck still can’t use 《Stance of the Iron Wall》.
But in exchange, it seems like he can use 《Stance of the Mad Bull》, a skill which makes his upper body invincible and gives him the superhuman strength to take on an enemy’s attack.
Although it’s amazing, it’s hard to use.
Rather than that, he can probably use [Super Strength] and [Toughness] without having to determine the situation.
If he were to train, it seems like his status in the future would surpass that of Goleth without 《The Evil God’s Curse of Calamity》.
On a side note, Beck is also my [Woodcraft] comrade.
In contrast to his build, he is good at precision crafts.
Technically speaking, although I should be better as I have a higher skill level, since our passion for details seems to be different, I often think that the finishing quality of my products is no match for his.
Well, I seem to have digressed a bit.
……Now then, you should understand by looking at it like this, but this group of children is actually rather superb.
Although to begin with, the children’s group is made up of unique skill-wielding children kidnapped from here and there by Gazaine.
Their original talent was increased through <Yatagarasu>’s training, and their stats were raised enough so that they were more than able to handle the adult emissaries.
If I am able to dispel their brainwashing in the future, it might be fun to become adventurers together with this party of five.
But before that――that is something for after we get through this predicament.
That said, I wonder if we could actually beat the firedrake with this lineup?
Let’s try asking Melby-sensei.
“Hey, around how strong is the firedrake?
Do we have any hope of beating it with these guys?”
“Let’s see……a dragon’s strength varies depending on its age, but as long as it’s not an extremely young dragon, I think it would be pretty tough for these children?
Even if you’re there with them.
To defeat a firedrake, it would take a small military troop.”
“You can’t help, right?”
Melby, as a fairy, is under constraints that prevent her from intentionally causing harm to another person.
“Since dragons aren’t monsters, it’s impossible.
Though it’s possible for wyverns, a dragon subspecies.
Although I can protect you if it comes down to it, I can’t aggressively attack.”
“In other words, it’s an enemy that can be reasoned with?”
“Yeeah……while there are some elder dragons who can understand human language, it’s impossible for most dragons.
But fundamentally, as long as you don’t trespass in a dragon’s territory, dragons usually won’t take the initiative to attack.”
“Then what was that before?”
“Like Elemia said, that was merely the firedrake building a lair.
If the firedrake felt like attacking seriously, it wouldn’t have ended as lightly as that.”
“So we’ve got no choice but to run, huh.
Luckily, we still haven’t entered the dragon’s territory yet, have we?”
“That’s right. Since the area around here hasn’t become part of the firedrake’s lair yet, there shouldn’t be any problems as long as we don’t encounter it unexpectedly.”
Okay, I’ve received Melby-sensei’s guidance.
Although I was worried about what would happen at one point, it seems like we’ll be able to get through this somehow.
――Or so I thought, but…….
One hour later.
“――Hey, Fellow Believer Orochi.”
「What is it?」
「……We’re heading downwards right now, right?」
There was no need for Miguel to point it out, I already knew.
The cavern we were in gently sloped downwards while occasionally curving at sharp turns.
On top of that, the state of the cavern suddenly changed midway.
The space in the cave widened greatly.
As if――yes, like even a firedrake with a large frame could pass through.
「This is… the mark of a firedrake, right.」
Elemia said as she investigated the wall.
The reason the cavern walls have hardened in a wave-like shape is because that is what remains after they have been melted by the firedrake’s breath and solidified after cooling down.
In other words, this is already part of the labyrinth made by the firedrake.
I guess there’s no way other than to turn back and use 《Tunnel》 and 《Concrete》 to make a passageway identical to the ducts, huh.
But, if we were to do that, that would lead to the conversation topic of why I didn’t do that from the beginning.
But, it’s not like I can fight the firedrake with these guys.
No matter how strong the skills in their possession were, if they failed to dodge even a single breath attack, that would be the end.
And it’s not like we can guarantee a zone that was safe from its breath like in games.
If it were to breathe out in a narrow space, we would be unable to dodge and end up disintegrating.
I made a decision after hesitating for a bit.
――I guess turning back would be best.
It’s a bit shameful as a leader, but I won’t compromise our safely.
It happened when I stopped walking and opened my mouth.
“……Something is coming.”
Although I also have the same [Sense Presence] skill as Elemia, it seems like Elemia is better at reading presences.
I turn back and ask Eemia.
Elemia’s face pales in an instant.
“Fellow Believer Orochi……be, behind you……”
Miguel says in a hoarse voice.
I incrementally turn my head around to look back.
――Our eyes met.
I met eyes with the firedrake that extended its neck around the corner.
The four ran away at full speed at my words.
Then, the firedrake releases its breath towards us..
“Ku-……! Ω (Gaia) 乙(Circle)――《Stone Wall》!”
Using [Earth Spirit Magic], I make as many stone walls as I could in one go, then follow the four.
The moment we finished turning the corner right ahead of us, an intense heat bursts out from behind.
When I turned around with a shudder, I saw that the corridor had turned into a red hot sea of lava.
Past that, I look at the seemingly pleasantly-smiling firedrake and―― [Appraisal].
Abilities (Innate ability. Can be strengthened through a Gift or Curse depending on the proficiency level.)
Flame Breath ★★☆☆☆
Acid Spray ★☆☆☆☆
〔Passive (A passively invoked ability.)〕 Detoxification ★☆☆☆☆ (Decomposes harmful microscopic substances within the body.)
〔Passive〕 Strong Immunity ★☆☆☆☆ (Degrades harmful invasive microbes within the body.)
〔Passive〕 Regeneration ★☆☆☆☆ (By consuming magic energy, damage to the flesh is recovered.)
[Stealth Steps] 7
[Night Vision] 5
[Dragon Limb Combat] 3
[Dragon Claw Techniques] 3
[Dragon Scale Defense] 2 》
There seems to be a lot of issues to retort at, but now isn’t the time for that!
“π (Aqua) ・ 乙 (Circle) ・ ∨ (Spread) ・ 卜 (Flame)――《Ice Wall》!”
In the space between us and the firedrake that looks as though it will send another breath attack, I deploy an original ice-making magic at full strength and block up the passageway.
I also set up a 《Stone Wall》 in front of that just in case.
As I rush the four, I energetically dash to the next corner.
The instant we turn the corner, I hear a terrific explosive sound from behind but I ignore that.
While we are outside of the firedrake’s field of view, I dig a hole with 《Tunnel》 in the shadow of the crags.
Although I’ve made the entrance narrow so it doesn’t stand out, the inside should be be decently spacious.
“Come in here!”
As I yell out, I take the initiative to slip into the hole.
While I widen the hole with 《Tunnel》, I confirm that the four have properly entered.
Afterwards, I go up to the hole we entered through,
“Ω (Gaia) ・ 乙(Circle) ――《Stone Wall》”
and fill it in with [Earth Spirit Magic].
Then, I signal for the four to hide their presences.
Thanks to the training style of <Yatagarasu>, the four immediately erase their presences in accordance to my hand signs.
Of course, I also erase my presence and use [Sense Presence] to check the state of the area outside the hole (though it’s a wall now).
The firedrake approaches with loud footsteps that torment my heart ―― then, just like that, the footsteps fade away.
It seems like we managed to get it to bypass us without incident.
“……It seems we’re alright for now.”
When I say that, the four of them let out sighs of relief in unison.