Chapter 44 – Through the Eyes of Another: The Samurai’s First Transformation
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Surprisingly, considering all that happened last night, I wake up quite well-rested. Maybe that’s because I had this amazing dream where we fought together with sensei side by side. His support magic made me feel unbeatable and we bulldozed through a whole army of those weird creatures.

Haaaaaah… I wonder what abilities can sensei use. He always avoided questions about his Class...

I shake my head to clear my thoughts and release a long yawn. After a short toilet time, I join Natalie-san and Paul-san in the middle of our camp to eat a light breakfast. Soon, the rest of our party also wakes up and we dine all together.

After packing up, we jump onto the horses we received from the King and resume our journey. 

“So, we should be pretty close to Carivia now, right?” Kamil-san asks as we ride.

“We should arrive there before night falls. That’s if nothing unexpected happens. The map we bought at the Adventurer’s Guild is pretty solid,” Paul-san answers calmly.

With how good he is with maps, there is no way that we will be lost or even step outside of the path. Paul-san’s ability to work with them is really incredible. But well, he knows a lot about all that stuff connected to survival, which naturally includes navigating through various terrains and reading maps. 

It wasn’t easy, but we managed to convince Kamil-san to let Paul-san function as the leader. Fortunately, our encounter in the mines slightly opened his eyes to the dangers of this world. I’m glad that he relinquished that responsibility. Paul-san’s commanding is really good and the fact that he can watch from the backline definitely helps a lot. 

He has the best perception out of all of us. Which is kinda cliché. Guys in glasses always end up having the best sight in all the mangas and novels. Well, not like he actually needs them. He just has a thing for glasses. If I remember correctly, the lenses are just clear ones, made out of some kind of bulletproof material. So, I guess the trope doesn’t work here perfectly. 

I wonder if sensei likes real girls with glasses. I never asked. A lot of kuuderes are often designed with them. I bet he would say they suit mature girls perfectly. And I… don’t exactly look like a mature woman… Now that I think of it, Cornelia-san gives such vibes. She seemed uninterested in things like love though. Well, maybe besides her love for research. I was expecting her to ask for permission to join our party so that she can observe us during our journeys, but I guess she couldn’t do so due to her position under the King. She’d definitely be interested in learning more about us.

Five hours later, we begin to see the grey walls of Carivia, surrounding the city alongside the deep moat. Some traffic can be spotted around the main gate from this direction. We arrive closer and wait for our turn since it looks like there’s a simple checkup on entry. 

“Identity and purpose of the visit?” the guard asks us mechanically.

“Can’t you see that we are heroes? We are travelling to get stronger and your town was just on our path,” Kamil-san glances at the man in steel armour and emerald poncho-like cloak and points at his own gear.

The guard looks up at him and then back at his notes. “Right, and I’m half-abyssal. Grandma had a thing for glowing monkeys. You got ID cards or anything?”

Marcia-san chuckles at his retort and Kamil-san groans. Paul-san rides his horse closer and passes his adventurer card to the man.

“B-rank, huh. First time here?” Paul-san nods. “The Guild is in the eastern district then. Don’t make any trouble in the town.” He glances at the rest of us and we flash him our cards too. “Good. You can go. Next!”

We enter through the gate and lay our eyes on the first buildings of the first major city after we left Evalitia’s capital. Most of them are constructed with grey stones in various patterns or geometrical stone blocks with wooden finishings. Different shades of grey can be spotted around. It looks like there’s a certain style pretty much everything around here pertains.

“Woah. It’s completely different from that place. There’s almost no resemblance when it comes to the colour palette. Here it’s all stone and back there it was often smooth marble or other white minerals,” Marcia-san expresses her surprise while gazing at the shops and houses we pass.

“It’s natural,” Natalie-san chimes in. “While all the Human kingdoms are united under one banner and are like vassals to King Rossberg, having to obey the major laws and rules, they once were, and to some extent still are, independent domains, so a difference in style and architecture has to be expected.”

“Now I’m curious how the capitals of other kingdoms look like…” I voice out my thoughts.

“Most likely with just some minor differences. I’d rather like to see the cities of other races like Elves or Demons! They must have their own, unique style!” Marcia-san says joyfully.

While admiring the different scenery, we move to a nice looking inn to have dinner. I go through the menu to pick something. It actually even has hand-drawn pictures of the dishes. Amazing. I guess that’s for illiterate people?

I notice something looking like a tortilla with chicken pieces and instantly get reminded of those back at home. Sensei loved grabbing one from his favourite spot near the school during breaks. I instantly decide to order that and we share our requests with the waitress. Our meals arrive shortly since the place isn’t that crowded.

“So, what now? The blondie pretty much gave us free reins right? He is going to contact us if some shit goes down again somewhere or if he has something to investigate,” Kamil-san says while munching on a chicken wing.

“Well, the most obvious thing would be to check out the quests in the local Adventurer’s Guild branch,” Paul-san suggests.

“Or we could ask about some dungeons in the area and have some fun there! I bet there’s at least one in the vicinity,” Marcia-san shares her thoughts. “Or, we could go monster hunting. Chasing some wild beasts must be exhilarating!”

Everyone looks at me as I take a bite of my tortilla. “Ummm… I’m fine with anything. But I think we should check out the Guild first.”

They discuss it amongst themselves as Natalie-san also doesn’t have any preference and I just focus on enjoying my meal. It’s much better than I expected. It can’t compare to our Earthly standards, but still, it’s tasty. Sensei would definitely like it.

During our conversation, a guard in full plate armour walks in and glances all around the inn. I’m sitting while facing the entrance so I can see him clearly. His gaze stops at our table as if recognizing us. Then, he goes out and comes back with two other men who stand on the sides of the door and hit the floor with their pikes decorated with emerald tassels.

Everyone falls silent and looks their way. The guard who entered first walks straight to our table, not paying attention to anyone other. He stops in front of us, glances at each one and makes a deep bow.

“Greetings brave adventurers! King Melrond wishes for an audience with the Heroes of Evalitia. Would you please accept this invitation?” he speaks loud enough for most likely even people outside to hear.

Other guests start whispering to each other about rumoured, summoned heroes and how important we must have to be for their King to invite us like this. While the man stays prostrated, we look at each other in confusion. That's a totally unexpected turn of events.

“I mean… we can always hear what he has to say, right?” Marcia-san asks.

Everyone shrugs or nods their head and we comply with the request. The fancy armoured guard guides us to an even fancier carriage standing just by the inn. It’s big enough for all of us to fit so we get in and depart. The insides are cushioned with emerald material. We are starting to notice a pattern here.

We ride to a much smaller castle than the one in Evalitia’s capital, but it seems to cover more area around itself. After getting through the gates, we jump out of the carriage and are led to the throne room. And as we suspected, most decorations and tapestries are in the dark emerald shade.

With a row of guards on both sides of an also green carpet, we arrive in front of the thrones. An aged man with a silvery beard and royal robes sits on the biggest, middle one while on his right, most likely the Queen, his wife is seated, also wearing a beautiful, emerald dress, having long, slowly greying hair.

“Welcome in Ronerulle, adventurers. I fully understand that I was the one to call you here, but would you be so kind as to prove your Hero status?” he says in a low tone, full of confidence and power, but not overbearing.

We glance at each other and reveal the Hero Sigils on our hands. He nods at us.

“Thank you. I apologize for doubting you, it’s better to be safe than sorry. We did have a description of your appearances, but those might be changed easily with some proper magic and abilities.”

No one says anything. Paul-san is the leader but he isn’t that good with interpersonal relations on this kind of level. The last time we were in front of an unknown king it was sensei who took that responsibility on himself. If only he was here… 

Haaaaaah… I guess I have no choice...

I step forward and make a courteous skip while grabbing my skirt with my hands and nodding my head. 

“With all due respect, King Melrond, but we weren’t informed about your wish of meeting us by King Rossberg. We would like to ask for the purpose of this audience as we are merely passing by and decided to stop in your domain for some time.”

He waves his hand. “Oh, don’t worry, he wouldn’t know as it isn’t anything official between our kingdoms. I just heard that Evalitia’s Heroes are heading our way and might actually appear in the city. I’m sorry if the gatekeepers didn’t show you enough courtesy or respect, they can be quite strict, but I was instantly notified about your arrival by a captain stationed at that post.” 

“There’s no need to apologize, we weren’t subjected to any rude behaviour,” I inform the King.

“Good. As for the reason for this summon, it’s a personal request. Naturally, you aren’t obliged to accept it, but I hope you could at least hear me out.”

He waits a moment for our response and then continues after not seeing any objections.

“You see, not that long ago, I lost my son.” He sighs dejectedly. “He appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that is of no importance to you. We’ve recently retrieved his body from Evalitia’s capital where he was killed in a fight and are preparing for a royal burial.”

“Wait! Was there a battle after we left?!” I shout in surprise. The King raises an eyebrow at me. I quickly calm myself down. “I apologize for my rudeness but that information is really shocking to us.”

He ponders for a moment. “Hmmmm… Since you are heroes then Rossberg would most likely not hide this from you, so it should be okay if I tell you that the knights launched a large assault on an underground slavery ring. The battle didn’t reach the streets, fortunately.”

I sigh in relief. For a moment there, I was worried that sensei might have been in danger, but there was no chance he would have been involved with them in any way. He left to be a merchant when we departed so he has nothing to do with King Rossberg’s knights and he is too kind for slave trafficking. If the streets were kept safe, he couldn’t stumble on a fight by accident. I nod at the King to continue.

“Moving on, besides my deceased son, I still have a daughter by the name Vanessa. She is an adventurer like you and she’s currently not present in the city. My request would be to escort her back to us for the ceremony. She isn’t weak, but you should understand the worry of a grieving father for his now only child. I will naturally reward your efforts accordingly. We can make an official request at the Guild too,” he finishes his story and awaits our answer.

I glance over my shoulder at everyone and they nod lightly. I don’t have any objections either. It feels like the right thing to do and we were looking for something to do anyway. Turning back to the royal couple, I try to smile kindly.

“We will gladly accept this request and promise to bring your daughter back safe and sound, Your Majesty. Do you know where she is?”

The King nods gladly. “Thank you. I appreciate your help. Vanessa should currently be in the town of Clonehill, around three or four days south-east from here, most likely partaking in some quests as she was looking to get stronger while helping people out. We didn’t send her a message, because she would definitely rush here instantly.”

He smiles faintly while talking about his daughter. “She most likely tries to keep a low profile to avoid preferential treatment, but I will notify the Guild branch there about your cooperation with me, they definitely are aware of her real identity. Just in case they still wouldn’t answer your questions."

After shortly discussing the looks of Princess Vanessa and other details about her, the King stands up and extends his arms to the sides.

“Well then, if you wish, we can accommodate you in the castle for the night. There’s no need for you to head out immediately, you’ve just arrived here so you should be allowed to enjoy the city for the rest of the day. The servants will be informed about you, but it’s not necessary to come back here if you’d prefer to rest in a different environment.”

We move out, and as instructed, spend some time walking around the city and sightseeing its most beautiful areas, also taking a peek into various shops and artisans to check on interesting items. We decide to rest in a cosy looking inn and as usual, I take a room with Natalie-san. We often share one since it's fun. After a good night of rest, we visit the Guild to pick up the request from the King, verify the location of the other town and head out towards our goal.

The trip goes by without much stuff happening. The road is quite calm and empty, we pass a few merchants going towards Carivia, but nothing of greater importance. I do another check on my current status. 

INFORMATION
  Name: Asakura Shino
  Race: High Human
  Age: 18
  Job: Adventurer []
  Class: Demonic Samurai Priestess
  Tier: 2
  Titles: Otherworlder, The One Who Slashed A Moon, One With The Darkness
STATS
 Strength: 22   Agility: 31   Constitution: 19   Intelligence: 30 
 Charisma: 17 
SKILLS
Common Abilities Class-Specific Abilities
Actives Passives Actives Passives

 »One-handed Sword Arts Lv. 5
 »Katana Arts Lv. 7
 »Gentle Palm Lv. 5

 »Linguist Lv. 7
 »Martial Arts Mastery Lv. 7
 »One-Handed Sword Mastery Lv. 5
 »Katana Mastery Lv. 8

 

 »Moon-Slashing Arts Lv. 3
 »Transfer Life Lv. 1
 »Shadow Step Lv. 3
 »Night Stalker Lv. 1
 »Curse Magic Lv.  1
 »Demonification Lv.  1

 »Darkvision Lv. 2
 »Demonic Affinity
 »Shadow Affinity

So far, I and Natalie-san are the only ones to reach Tier 2 after those three weeks. She gained some useful spells and abilities, whereas I learned more moves for my Moon-Slashing Arts, a skill to hide in any shadow for some time and a few weird sounding abilities and spells from the demonic school.

As the King said, we reach the town in around three days of casual riding. The walls surrounding it are much smaller and you can tell that it’s not the main city in the nation. There’s only one guard by the small gate and he doesn’t interrupt the visitors, just watches over the flow. The town is kept in a similar, stone and wood style as the capital but with less splendour.

Leaving our horses in the stables, we move straight for the Adventurer’s Guild branch in Clonehill. The name finally becomes clear to us too. There are countless clone trees planted all around the town and as far as we noticed, there were plenty of them outside too. The guild building is smaller than those in Evalitia’s capital or Carivia, but it’s as busy as them. 

We walk up to a free receptionist, a girl with beautiful light-green hair and oval glasses.

“Welcome to Clonehill’s Adventurer’s Guild! How can I help you today?” She starts with an upbeat tone and a kind smile.

“We are here on a request from the King to find someone. Here’s a copy of the task.” Paul-san hands her a piece of paper. “You guys should be informed about our purpose.”

The girl reads the notice carefully and nods to herself. “I see. Yes, I understand. Let’s move to a more private space before we continue.”

After guiding us to one of the small conference rooms for discussions and quest explanation, she brings some water in a jug and we all sit down around a table.

“Well then, first, I have to ask you guys to prove your identity.” We show her our ID cards and also Hero Sigils. “Great! You must be the party mentioned in the message we got from Carivia then. I can already tell you that Lady Vanessa should still be in the town. It would be easier if you ask questions, so please, feel free to do so.”

“The King mentioned that she might be working incognito, does she use a nickname or a fake identity? It would be wise not to expose her in front of random people,” I decide to ask first.

The receptionist nods. “Yes, as an adventurer, Lady Vanessa uses an alias of Tooru the Geodancer.”

“Geodancer?” Kamil-san raises one of his brows.

“It’s after her fighting style. You will understand instantly the moment you see her.” She smiles and winks at us.

We glance at each other and Paul-san takes his turn. “Do you know where we can find her?”

“Hmmm… If I remember correctly, she joined a party of adventurers who took the request to subjugate a herd of Dracotaurs. A big one was recently spotted to the west from here and they can be quite destructive wherever they appear. The group was supposed to leave this morning,” she explains.

“Dracotaur? The hell is that? Cow-dragon?” Kamil-san asks in confusion.

I can feel a smile forming on my lips. About half a year ago, I stumbled on sensei researching monsters and beasts in the royal gardens. I was really curious about it, and he told me many things about some of them, including Dracotaurs. It was a great day. He even patted my head.

“They are like horse-sized komodo dragons but their body is covered in sharp plates and spikes created out of earth minerals and stone. They possess an innate ability to infuse those into their skin. The taur part comes from long, pointy horns sprouting from their head, making them look like an armoured bull. They often use charge attacks too. As for their weakness, it’s their joints, under the jaw and tail,” I fill him in on the topic of Dracotaurs from my memory.

The receptionist applauds my presentation. “Amazing! I’m not sure about those komodo dragons you mentioned, but all other details were spot-on! You must be really experienced adventurers to know this much!”

I feel a little blush creeping onto my cheeks from the unexpected praise so I look down. To be honest, we haven’t done much adventuring yet and we should be considered newbies by their standards, it’s just we have pretty strong Classes and had lots of training. And well… the knowledge came from sensei… I should have spent more time with him, learning more about the world…

After learning some details about the adventurers accompanying the Princess and also about their quest, we agree with each other that we should go after them immediately. It’s not that far so we leave on foot and follow the path to where the herd was last reported.

Two hours later, sounds of battle reach our ears and we head towards the source. Soon, we reach a big clearing, or rather a sizable chunk of the forest with trees cut down and shredded from all the spells and abilities. Many corpses of Dracotaurs can be spotted all around the area, and a four-man party is currently engaged with the few ones that are left.

We walk closer to get a better view on them but not too close as not to interfere in their hunt. It doesn’t look like they are struggling. The party consists of two frontliners, one zweihander and one great maul, and two mages in the… backline?

That certainly should be the case here with their light attire and staves in their hands, but a young woman with long, light-brown hair and in a beautiful emerald-white cloth armour which has many long parts fluttering in the air, with stylish, leather gauntlets and greaves, splits up from the three people, leaving one Dracotaur to them and runs towards a different one.

She starts making various pirouettes while spinning her staff along the way, creates an arched cut in the ground with its tip and jumps into the air with a backflip. Next second, she lands gracefully on a chunk of earth, which arose from the ground after she lost contact with it. The woman is now riding a huge boulder on top of a wave of earth, like your typical surfer. Even her lowered stance looks completely professional.

A moment later, she crashes that boulder into a Dracotaur’s side, sending it tumbling a few meters back. She makes a few spins in the air and lands on the grass elegantly. 

Not wasting any time, she rotates her staff three times, taps the ground to her right with its tip while making a pose, spins it again and repeats the action while touching the dirt on the right. Back to the middle, she positions her pole vertically in front of her eyes and slams it into the ground.

Two giant arms surge from the terrain. She thrusts her rod forwards and makes a slamming motion with another pirouette. The earth hands follow it and fall onto the fumbling Dracotaur, squashing its belly and head.

Meanwhile, her party manages to deal with their opponent, but one of the attackers gets hit by a charge from the last remaining monster and is sent flying towards us. He scrapes over the ground and stops about twenty meters ahead of our group. The Dracotaur shakes off the other warrior and opens up its jaws, beginning to create an earth javelin, clearly aimed at the rising person in front of our eyes.

“Kamil-san!” I yell quickly.

He breaks into a run while grabbing his shield and jumps into a slide just in time to parry the incoming projectile, making it ricochet somewhere into the woods. During that time though, the monster started another charge and is soon to reach the two of them. I grab the hilt of my katana and begin judging the leftover distance.

The Dracotaur doesn’t get a chance to land that attack as the woman comes in while moving on a gurgling patch of earth and slides herself between them and the rushing beast. She hastily makes a pirouette and does a wide swing like a golfer. Tens of sharp spikes rise from the ground in a half-circle and create a wall which blocks the charge of the monster with a loud thump. A screech reaches our ears as her teammates finish off the dazed creature.

She turns around and glances over Kamil-san sitting on the ground. Panting heavily, she takes a few steps towards him, leans forwards, supporting herself with one hand on her hip, and speaks as she moves a mischievous lock of hair from the side of her beautiful face to behind her ear.

“Are you okay?” A soft and kind voice, full of consideration, leaves her lips. She helps him up with a smile after Kamil-san nods a few seconds later.

Someone starts repeatedly nudging me into the side with their elbow. 

“Hey, hey, hey.” 

I look at Marcia-san who is standing by me. A playful smirk begins forming on her lips while she tries to cover it with her hand. I follow where she is pointing at and raise my brows in surprise at the unexpected sight. I quickly elbow Natalie-san who is standing on my other side and nod my head in the same direction. Even her usually calm eyes widen in shock.

Now that they are standing with their sides turned to us, we can clearly see Kamil-san’s utterly smitten expression as he talks about something with the girl who definitely is Vanessa-san. She shows a cute smile and keeps laughing sweetly at him.

“During all three years we spent together in that school, I’ve never seen him make a face like that.” Marcia-san starts giggling.

Certainly, that gaping mouth and awkward smile are a first. We look at each other with Natalie-san and she shrugs. Then, we walk closer to the other party which gathered around Vanessa-san and Kamil-san.

“Oh, hello! Thanks for not interrupting our hunt! And for saving Beryl, but I guess I’ve already thanked his saviour already,” she waves at us with a nice smile and makes a slight bow towards Kamil-san.

“Good day, Tooru-san. There’s no need to thank us, it was an obvious thing to do,” I say.

“No need to be so polite. Many other groups would have jumped straight in. Were you after Dracotaurs too?” she asks.

“Not really, we were actually looking for you, that’s why we weren’t interested in those monsters,” I continue.

“Oh, me? Why?” She looks at us curiously.

Before I can answer, Kamil-san interjects while showing a wide smile and scratching the back of his head. “We are… errrr… those… ummm… heroes, yeah, heroes! Hahaha. We were hired to… errr… ah! Deliver a message from your father, Ki—uogh!”

Natalie-san slams him into the stomach before that idiot reveals more than necessary.

“What he said, basically. It would be better to discuss details in private if I were to suggest,” she quickly follows up with a save.

Vanessa-san expression changes and she nods, clearly understanding what we meant. “I see. You certainly are right. Let’s wrap those carcasses up and have a pleasant chat in—”

*CRACK* 

*BOOM*

*CRACK* *CRACK*

*BOOM*

The sound of trees creaking and breaking under the pressure of something heavy arrives at our spot from the west. Everyone turns towards the source and gazes intently into the woods, noticing how flocks of birds fly into the air in the distance. We begin hearing heavy thumps and soon, the last trees blocking our vision fall, revealing the weighty entity.

“That’s a—”

“—Dracodon…” I murmur under my breath after Vanessa-san gasps in surprise.

From behind the tall trees, a house-sized beast has just emerged. It looks similar to Dracotaurs, but is much wider and covered with considerably tougher stone plates all around its body. It doesn’t possess the two horns since it wouldn’t even be able to use them with its humongous weight. It’s so heavy that it scrapes over the ground with its belly as it moves. That’s a monster of a higher tier than just a few Dracotaurs.

It stops and glances all over the battlefield, releasing a loud and low roar into the sky.

Oh no… If I remember correctly from that day with sensei, Dracodons sometimes take a herd of Dracotaurs under its protection while those find food for it. And we are standing in front of a Dracotaur genocide...

The big beast locks its gaze onto our group and starts raising its head upwards while opening its jaws. Chills run down my spine as I realize what is going to happen in a few seconds. Vanessa-san and I could possibly avoid the attack, but no one else will be able to outrun it.

“Kamil-san! Bring out everything, now! Natalie-san! Buff him! Everyone, line up behind the shield!” I cry out in a hurry and start pushing them to the back.

Natalie-san instantly drops down onto her butt and starts playing her March of the Braves, followed by Hymn of the Royal Knights. Paul-san stands with me and Marcia-san behind Kamil-san and I show them to place our hands on his back.

“I don’t know what’s coming, but everything means everything!” He shoves his shield into the ground and fills it with mana to increase its durability. “Overdrive! Impenetrable Fortress! Great Wall!”

He shouts the names of all his best defensive abilities and his shield starts glowing with golden light like in the cave from the past. The ethereal layer of protection extends over the edges of his shield with his Great Wall skill and creates a see-through, short tunnel around him and partially us.

As soon as Natalie-san finishes throwing a few more magical spells which boost his defence, the Dracodon finishes charging its attack and drops its head down, releasing a ferocious pillar of swirling air like a barn-sized tornado full of various sizes of boulders and stone lances, straight at our position, obliterating the terrain in its path. 

The ability hits us with enormous force, and even with the three of us supporting Kamil-san’s back, we are slowly getting pushed back while surrounded by a brutal torrent of air from all sides. Everyone starts getting smaller or medium cuts as the tunnel can’t completely cover us. We are literally in the eye of a stone cyclone which can be aimed in every direction by the monster with ease.

“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!” 

Kamil-san does his best to stand his ground against the almost unstoppable force. Some cracks start forming on the surface of the shielding layer. Fortunately, before all the energy gets drained from our cover, the assault stops and we lay our eyes on a completely barren path in front and behind us. There are no trees in like a hundred or more meters in a straight line. Just dug out earth.

“By the Goddess… the destructiveness…” One of Vanessa-san’s party members gets astonished with the extent of the damage.

“Everyone, let’s close the distance to make sure that it can’t use this move again! Shino, you seem to know a thing about this monster, figure out how to deal with it while we buy you time! I'll try to pinpoint some with my Eye of the Dragon! There’s no chance for all of us to safely escape!” Paul-san instantly starts shouting out orders to not let ourselves get cornered again.

We run to the huge beast and start attacking it from all sides while avoiding its claws, bites and strong tail, which ends in a spiked mace made out of earth. Its armour is so tough that even Kamil-san’s best skills have trouble going through and Paul-san’s Arcane Arrow - Piercing Wind barely penetrates the plates with its swirling tip. Even with his Behemoth Slayer title, he has a lot of issues still being at Tier 1. They all do inflict some damage in the weaker parts of the Dracodon's body, but it will take too long if we keep going like this. Vanessa-san does her best to use her geomancing ability to weaken the stone, but the Dracodon has much higher mastery over it than her. It’s not looking good. We can’t find any considerable weak spots.

Think, Shino, think! What did sensei say about Dracodons then? They are incredibly tough and heavy and much more armoured than their lesser brothers, but they must have some kind of weakness…

While I’m mulling over all my memories with sensei, I fail to dodge a piece of flying rock controlled by the monster and it hits me in the stomach, sending me tumbling to the back.

“Ugh!”

I raise myself with the help of my katana and hold my stomach with the other hand. Then, while looking at the slightly torn clothes, sensei’s voice plays by my ear as if I’m still sitting by his side on the bench in the royal gardens.

‘Dracodons? Hahaha, they are just fat Dracotaurs with some more armour. Do you know that if they trip onto their back they can spend hours or days trying to turn over if there’s no help? That leaves their completely exposed bellies wide open, hahaha!’

A smile appears on my lips.

That’s it! Thank you sensei!

I quickly glance around and locate Vanessa-san. Using my Shadow Step, I jump out of her shadow just in front of her.

“AH!”

I ignore her startled expression. “Can you flip it over with your magic?”

“If that’s what is necessary, then there’s no can, only do.” She smiles at me and rushes forward. I summon my status window. I too need to use whatever I can.

While I’m checking some skills and abilities I haven’t yet used, Vanessa-san starts spinning and dancing with her staff on the side of the monster while Kamil-san and Marcia-san do their best to cover her. Ten seconds later, she shoves it into the ground like a shovel and thrusts it up into the air. Five giant arms of stone emerge from the dirt and start pushing the side of the Dracodon. She makes a few more spins with her staff, creating some marks in the ground and we see as the beast starts tilting to the side due to huge stone pillars rising from under it.

“Kamil-san, boost me up!” 

Seeing it almost fall over, I run towards him. Just as the monster rolls onto its back, I get launched into the air off Kamil-san’s shield. The Dracodon’s belly truly looks much more vulnerable than all other parts. 

As Vanessa-san said, there’s no can, only do.

I activate Demonification for the first time ever. My whole body gets enveloped by scorching hot mana from inside for a few moments and I feel a slight pain in two spots on my forehead. My consciousness is guided towards two paths, one in the light and the other in the shadow. Something tells me the light one is more suitable for the situation and I step onto it.

A few seconds later, as I’m falling down, I start realizing the proper use of some of my skills and also learn about a few new ones. I start creating footholds in the air to slow my descent. The platforms take the form of shiny, white stars. I stop in the air around ten meters above the beast’s belly.

I feel like something again gives me hints on what to do and I push myself off the platform while casting Curse Magic - Withering Blade on my katana, which gets enveloped in a silver aura. The sword plunges with ease into the hard skin of the monster’s stomach near its rear end and the spot starts rotting instantly. 

Next, I send a huge chunk of mana into my weapon and cast a skill called Moon-Slashing Arts - Pillar to the Moon, and I somehow know that the blade of it got extended further into the Dracodon’s body. Its pained roar confirms that feeling. 

Lowering my posture, I grab onto the hilt with both of my hands and invoke another new skill, Demonic Fusion Arts, which appeared in my mind after I used Demonification. I merge Moon-Slashing Arts - Crescent Cleave with a rush skill, Moon-Slashing Arts - Journey Through the Starry Sky, and launch myself with an incredible speed along the beast’s belly, cutting it open as I go. 

Reaching around the middle part, I swing my katana upwards to the sky and the extended, pure white blade emerges from its body, something around six meters long, splitting the whole monster into two for the remaining distance while making a crescent trail after itself. I make footholds again to avoid falling into the bloody intestines of the monster whose split body starts falling to the sides.

When I descend to the ground, everyone runs up to me with various expressions, ranging from amazement, curiosity, through confusion, ending even at some visible displeasure. The last one comes from two guys from Vanessa-san’s team.

“Woah! You look so damn cool now, Shino! You are even more of a princess now than before!” Marcia starts happily jumping all around me.

“Eh? What do you mean?” I ask, slightly befuddled.

“Look at your hair, girl! It’s shining white!”

I grab my ponytail and bring it to the front. My eyes widen instantly. It truly did turn white. Is that due to the Demonification skill? Natalie-san brings out a small mirror from her storage ring and positions it in front of me. I let out an involuntary gasp when I see myself.

Hair is not the only change. My skin turned into a light shade of greyish-silver, my purplish eyes started glowing and my pupils turned into vertical ones. Additionally, there are now two Onii-like horns growing out from my forehead. The mysterious pain has now been explained. Same with the almost hateful looks of the two guys. I must look like some kind of a Demon to them.

I glance at Vanessa-san to check her reaction and she doesn’t look repelled, more like visibly curious, which is good. I turn the ability off as I finally start feeling how much mana it burns per second. I’m almost empty now. The changes slowly reverse and I’m back to normal.

After answering a barrage of questions from all my friends while we collect materials from the Dracodon and Dracotaurs, we move back to the town together. Or rather, we go with Vanessa-san and the other party splits up. Looks like they don’t want to have anything else to do with us now that they saw me look like a non-human. The magician seemed fine, but obviously, he would stick to his old party.

We explain the story to her and depart immediately as she can’t wait for any second longer after hearing about the death of her brother, just as the King has suspected. It’s fine. We will rest on the road soon anyway since it’s almost evening now. We keep discussing the new skills that appeared in my status after I used Demonification. They are still there, but I just know that I can’t use them without it.

While everyone is fascinated by their versatility, only one thought floats all around my mind for the whole trip back to Carivia.

I wonder what would sensei say after seeing me like that...

 

Alright. This chapter reached 6.5k words. Damn. I blame Shino. She just can't get a certain someone out of her head. Well, here's where we will leave them to their own machinations. Not much will happen during their journey back. We'll hear about them at some point again, perhaps from Natalie's or Paul's perspective. Time for the opening arc.

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Enormous gratitude towards our S-rank Guild Member - Magiwarrior and Rury! We couldn't have such epic adventures without your support! This Guild Master is greatly honoured by your presence!

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