Chapter 45: Every time I Read a Harem Story with a Bunch of Jealous Girls, in the Back of My Mind I’m Thinking Most RL Girls would never Date the MC even if you Paid Them.
Jericho narrows his eyes, staring down the passageway I’ve turned towards, before saying,
“I don’t know what it is, but let’s pull back into the Mirror Room close to here. The increase in Jeweled Beetles lately might be the precursor to a stampede.”
Even though he doesn’t hear anything himself, Jericho didn’t get to be the leader of this group for nothing.
With Kristaf navigating, the 6 of us make our way down the narrow passages.
All of a sudden, not only does the passage widen, but there’s a steep incline as well. We’ve reached one of the large caverns they call a Mirror Room.
All the passages will run across at least 1 Mirror Room, and you can go from one passage to another through a Mirror Room. I don’t really get it, but whatever made these passages long ago apparently made large burrows where they laid eggs and hatched their young.
That doesn’t really explain why the walls, ceilings, and floors of these Mirror Rooms look like cut diamond and glow with a pale white light.
It wasn’t long before the others could hear what I was hearing.
Yeah, this … could be bad.
The first thing that burst into the Mirror Room was a group of 7 Adventurers.
They hobbled in, bruised, bleeding, and breathing hard. When they caught sight of us,
“Jeweled Beetle … stampede…!”
One man gasped out. Then,
“Oh, it’s Jericho and the Valor of Arms Brigade!”
When another man said that, the 7 all collapsed as if their strength gave out, and began muttering things like,
“Thank the gods, we have a chance!”
“Pull yourself together, Jibs, we’re gonna make it!”
“Jericho will know what to do!”
Jericho’s face looked a bit complicated at that, and Miina muttered,
“It’s still a monster stampede, what are they saying?”
I’d thought it before, but could I have unexpectedly made connections with some really amazing people?
“So what’s the situation?”
One of the men, a slim man with a splendid moustache, gasped for air a few times before he could calm himself enough to reply. They must have been running hard.
“There’s a big-scale Jeweled Beetle stampede. Aside from us, there’s another 4-man group, injured, and that Ojou-chan. Ragnall’s holding them back to buy time for us to get away.”
“And so you just left the injured.”
Miina said it emotionlessly. It was in a way where you couldn’t really tell if she was saying it in disapproval of their actions, or if she was just stating it as a fact.
Despite that, several of the less injured men colored, and 2 of them headed back towards the passage they had left.
“Well, you see, we had to make sure the way was clear…” “There seems to be several waves of the Jeweled Beetles. We manage to escape after getting run down because the vanguard is about 10-20 of those beetles, and we dodged down a side passage to get here.”
While one man sheepishly tried to explain their actions, the man with the moustache cut him off to continue explaining the situation. Yeah, this isn’t the time to point fingers while getting embarrassed.
The rumbling in the distance is starting to get louder, and now the passage over there is about to get rowdy.
“Jericho, over there…”
I pointed at the passage that was rumbling ominously. I’m not sure if they can hear it yet, but the beetles’ vanguard is about to come down onto us.
“So you can pinpoint where they’re coming from by sound … that helps a lot. Hey, you guys, get behind us. There’s no time to worry about it; if it’s just 10-20 beetles, we can manage.”
“Jericho, this is Mirror Room 3, so if we sealed them in here by collapsing the tunnels, it will buy us some time …”
“No good, there are others still down here. It won’t leave a good taste in our mouths to seal them behind. Well, since Ragnall and that Ojou-chan are down here, the tunnels will be blasted open if they force their way through anyway. If it’s just a few dozen beetles, we can handle it. After that, I’ll decide what we should do as things happen.”
Kristaf suggests that we lock the beetles in this room, but Jericho refuses. It’s a wise decision. By the way, Kristaf is the scout of our party. He has this maze of tunnels pretty much memorized. It’s really impressive.
1.5 Jeweled Beetles burst out of the narrow passage. The other 0.5 of the Beetle is wedged against the wall for an instant, but the momentum from its buddies shoves it out into the cavern, rear-end going sideways.
That’s about all I had time to notice. They begin to flood in, charging towards us at a surprising rate.
The beetles’ eyes are glowing red, and they seem frenzied. This is not like the other beetles we’ve fought.
“You guys, take out what you can!”
With that yell, Jericho charged ahead.
Aah, a large, wide-open space at last! I can finally see what Augment Body will do with my swordplay!
“…I didn’t even need to mesmer any of them.”
Miina stood there, staring at me while clutching her sword in a neutral position in front of her.
12 out of the 17 beetles lay in a heap around my feet. Though the Valor of Arms Brigade had wry smiles, other than Miina’s deadpan look, Nars and the other Adventurers were staring at me with their mouths open.
Um … how should I reply?
Sorry, I didn’t expect it to be that effective either. Somehow, being able to move like some manga samurai character was way too fun, and I had always wondered whether it was really possible to cut your opponents before they realized it… Well, that was the first 2 beetles.
The next 5 were my guinea pigs to see how fast I could dismantle them along the weak-points that Nars had shown me.
Since I had some leeway, I decided to experiment with channeling magic through the katana. Fumu, it really is uncomfortable to channel a large spell through the blade … it has to part around the dead core and reform before you shot it out the tip. Then, what if I channeled a spell that dispersed all over? Though I don’t know anything like that … Hm.
What if I change the element to lightning … are? What’s lightning? That’s … usually the Air elemental, right? Then … how about if I try it like this?
It took 5 more beetles to perfect my new spell that I’m calling “Static Discharge”, but in the end I managed to release it just by thinking.
Isn’t this the “Chantless Cast” that’s supposed to be really hard to do? Come to think of it, I think I’ve had it all this time in my status … but I didn’t know how to use it until now.
Un, let’s not tell Lor for a while.
Anyway, I had completely wiped out 12 beetles by the time the others had killed 5.
Maaaybe I should tone it down. I wonder if “holding back” is just something that’s not in my dictionary?
Before anyone can say anything else, the ground shakes ominously. And by that, I mean there’s no way everyone hasn’t heard it by now.
“Tch. The main body now, huh?!”
Niera says this fiercely and bares her teeth, grinning under the tension.
“No, it’s people first.”
Thanks to Augment Body, I can make out the pattering of feet and the exhausted yells of people doing their best to run in our direction.
Just as I had said, not many seconds after I had said it, the 2 men who had left earlier came staggering into the Mirror Room, carrying another man with a badly wounded leg between them. Behind them was another injured man being shoved by that loli-hime, and bringing up the rear was Ragnall carrying 2 other injured men, one under each arm.
That they showed up in such an orderly line was only due to how narrow the passageway was. As soon as they burst into the Mirror Room, the injured men and the men who were carrying them dove to get past the frontline that our party formed. Ragnall threw the 2 he was carrying towards us and then about-faced, skidding to a stop while he stared intently at the passageway they had exited.
His short falchion-like sword was dripping in beetle goo all down his arm, and on his face is the biggest smile I’ve seen on him. And by smile, I mean he’s giving off a grin that can only be called “bloodthirsty.”
“Hey, hey, don’t throw injured people!”
Niera said that as she and Kristaf caught the two and roughly shoved them behind to the care of the other Adventurers. But though she said that, she too was tensing nervously as the din of many beetles moving through the passages became louder.
“Ragnall, what’s the situation.”
“Hah. Worse than you think. From the sound, there’s definitely over 200 Jeweled Beetles rampaging. And they’re frenzied, so they’re going every which way they can as long as it leads up.”
Jericho and Ragnall, without dropping their vigilance, exchange information on the situation.
“Kristaf, which tunnels?”
“If they’re coming up from all the passages that lead down from here, then we’ll have to watch half of them. The North, Southwest, Southeast –“
Ah, the beetles aren’t going to wait for us to plan.
Though the narrow passages are limiting it to one at a time, 3 passages are now flooding out beetles continuously.
With leg power strong enough to leave a dent in the crystal floor, Ragnall launches himself at the 2 South-facing tunnels and goes wild.
Wtf. He’s killing them with 1 swing each. Even I took several swings to dispatch a beetle! But seriously, that short sword … he’s not cutting them. He’s hitting them so hard that they’re splitting in two.
Hm. The Valor of Arms are taking care of the ones flooding out from the North, so I guess I should go help Ragnall. Though he’s handling it ok right now, it’s only a matter of time before he’s overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.
But as I step forward to go towards Ragnall’s battle front,
“Don’t get in OUR way!”
The loli-hime shoves past me with a sour face and launches herself at the beetles.
You can fight next to him if you want, but just the two of you won’t be able to handle that horde, right? Man, pushy girls don’t want anyone next to the person they like. Is there any reason to even be jealous of me?
… Oh, I forgot, I’m a girl, aren’t I?
That’s kind of annoying. Trust me, he’s not my type, little girl. By a lot.
I don’t voice any of my complaints though, since this really isn’t a good time for it.
I want to see if I can 1-hit kill these beetles too … but raising Augment Body too much is more than just cheating, so I want to see if I can do it with skill alone.
Uuun… no good, huh? That was a bad sound, so let’s not do that again. I’m afraid I’ll break the blade next time. And the result is just a royally pissed off, and lightly wounded, beetle.
I suppose I should abandon my 1-hit kill hopes and just kill them as fast as I can. 3 of my sword swings take the same amount of time as 1 of Ragnall’s, after all. Like that, I can match his pace.
But as fast as we’re killing them, these corpses are a nuisance. Slick goo and shattered shells and legs are lying everywhere, and having to dodge around them while beetles slam them towards you is getting to be a pain… Ah, how about using my cheat Inventory?
Just by touching something and thinking of it going into Inventory, the corpses disappear. Such cheat.
I pull up my Inventory screen to check it … yup, there’s now a stack of “Jeweled Beetle Corpses (x3)” and counting.
Previously, I discovered that things do stack in my inventory, just like a game. There’s just a little trick to it …
If I think of the beetle corpse as “A beetle killed by Ragnall” versus “A beetle killed by me”, the two will go into separate stacks. If I just think of it as “A dead beetle” while I put it into Inventory, they will go into 1 stack. I can sort or not-sort as I please, according to whatever criteria I want. Isn’t that beyond convenient?
By the way, I won’t be able to stack two things that are clearly different by thinking that one of them is like the other. In other words, just because I say a bowl is a cup, it doesn’t mean I can stack the bowl with a cup. Probably because I don’t actually recognize the bowl as a cup.
I don’t know if Inventory stacks to 99 or 999, but as long as the number of beetles is less than 5k, I’m in the clear. Because I have more than 50 slots open. There’s no way there are going to be that many … right?
Since I can clear the way in an instant, this should be easy – of course life doesn’t go that way. These beetles are flooding in like crazy. When I clear 1 corpse out of the way, 2 more take their place. Too fast, Ragnall. Ah, sorry, it’s not your fault. The beetles just keep coming!
“Oi, you, that’s dangerous!”
The loli-hime keeps trying to cut in and fight the beetles I’m fighting. It’s really dangerous, oi! And you’re totally kill-stealing, you know? Not that it means anything right now, but there’s a flood of beetles, you know? There’s absolutely no need to stand here and kill the ones I’m killing – or like, go kill the other ones over there! They’re starting to overwhelm Ragnall!
“Then why don’t you go back to where it’s safe and stay out of the way!”
The loli-hime says that.
Hah? This chick makes no sense!
Or like, you can’t even take care of a single beetle by yourself, you know? Either fight with me or fight with Ragnall, I don’t care which, but you’re dodging in front of me when I move to make the killing blow! I don’t care if you’re trying to appeal how tough you are, but there’s a time, place, and occasion for it, and this isn’t it!
Suddenly, a low rumble sounds. It’s not like before, the rumbling of many beetle feet. This is a closer, harsher, grating rumble.
The entire south side of the Mirror Room collapses inwards, and beetles flood in from both passageways at a rate indescribable to before.
The loli-hime tries to dodge, but trips over the beetle corpses I haven’t had time to clear away.
If you hadn’t kept getting in the way, I could have cleared them away easier; just saying.
They’re coming in too fast, and the loli-hime’s going to get killed. There’s no other way to handle it.
I invoke a Barrier to seal off the south side of the Mirror Room.