[Vol. 5 pt. 19]
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Using magic from the dragons, a small tunnel has been carved into the wall that follows along the underwater passage. It is at the end of the tunnel where Azalabula is meant to detonate her explosive spell, causing the underwater passage to cave in while bringing rocks from above down to fill in any other holes that might be opened and allow the invading monsters to slip through.

“What if the monsters move the rocks out of the way?” Serra asks Fenrir.

“Then they’re just going to bring more rocks down on top of them. Besides, it should be possible for our new allies here to just carve another tunnel with magic and they can use that to maybe attack the monsters while they’re trying to break through the rocks. Or something like that,” Fenrir explains.

“It doesn’t sound that good.”

“Because it’s not. There are a bunch of problems with the plan and they’re going to have to figure out something on their own for a long-term solution if they keep getting attacked. Hopefully, though, this ends their wannabe invasion. Like, hopefully it’s just a small-scale invasion event instead of something that’s going to become a constant thing.”

“Small-scale invasion event?”

“Yeah. Stuff like this isn’t too uncommon in MMOs. There will be a few small invasions here and there that players have to respond to without knowing what’s going on, usually to tease some bigger event happening in the future. You know… like that underwater army attacking us. Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if there are more attacks happening elsewhere or if there are going to be more attacks. It’s almost guaranteed if anything. This might just be the first one…”

“You look worried.”

“Yeah. What about Olly and the others back at our base? If there’s an attack here, in some underground cave in the middle of the mountains, then there’s no telling where else they might attack. Attacking some random place along the shore is way more likely.”

“But the serpent.”

“Yeah. Ilo should be able to protect them against any smaller forces like this. I hope. Can’t be sure, though, so I’m still going to be worried.”

“It’s just a game, so it’s okay if something happens.”

“See, normally, I would agree with you. It’s just a game. But, when it comes to being attacked, we never lose and never give up. We always win and always get revenge. There is no such thing as defeat in the Divine Brigade.”

“Don’t you mean The Soaring Wolves?”

“Yeah. That. There is no such thing as defeat in The Soaring Wolves.”

“But what if we lose?”

“Temporary setbacks don’t count as losses.”

“Oh. That’s how it is.”

“Yup.”

“You won’t call it a loss when it’s a loss. Sore loser.”

“It’s not being a sore loser; it’s being technically correct. If somebody loses a battle but wins the war, do you say that they lost the war? No. You say that they won the war.”

“But they still lost that battle.”

“Winning and losing only comes into effect at the winning. They only got disadvantaged from that battle. The fact that they got disadvantaged and then won makes the victory even better. In the end, you’re still winning.”

“Have you ever said ‘I lose.’”

“Nope. I have never said that I lose or that I have lost.”

“Stubborn.”

“I prefer the word ‘winner.’”

“I bet I can make you lose at sex.”

“Of course you’d resort to sex to defeat me. Even then, I’m sure you could temporarily disadvantage me, but you could never beat me in the end.”

“We’ll see.”

“You – you don’t have to look that competitive,” Fenrir says after noticing the fiery determination now burning in Serra’s eyes.

The determination that she showed him to do good with the gun against the monsters is nothing compared to the current sense of determination that he is getting from her.

When it comes to sex, Serra’s competitive spirit is every bit as strong as Fenrir’s gaming spirit if not stronger.

“You know you’ll lose, right?” Cassiel asks him.

“Have some faith in me,” Fenrir says.

“You will most certainly lose, my hero,” Nell says.

“Come on. I won’t lose against some munchkin perver—”

Serra grabs his dick over his clothes.

Then, before he even has a chance to react, she brings her mouth up to his ear where she can playfully latch onto the lobe with her teeth, giving it a little nibble and getting a rather lewd noise out of him as a result.

All three of his nearby girlfriends smile at him after hearing such a cute and erotic noise come out of him.

“Li-listen, actually – no, don’t listen. You didn’t hear anything,” Fenrir tries to say.

“Cute,” Serra says with a smug expression.

“Very cute, my hero! I did not know that you could make such a feminine noise. It is already making me think of possible scenarios involving genderbending! Ah, do you not think it would be wonderful if you were the lady and I was the beast to ravage you?” Nell asks with the eyes of a teasing predator.

“You totally lost,” Cassiel says.

“Nell, since when you do you want to be the one in charge of ravaging others?” Fenrir asks. “Then again, you weretaking charge of Cass Cass earlier.”

“He-hey! You don’t need to bring that up again!”

“She is right, my hero. We should not be bringing up such a matter again! After all, what is the point in discussing it rather than doing it?”

“Nell, you’re really more bold lately,” Fenrir says.

“I suppose that I have been in a rather – hmm, I am not sure how to put it. I would not say that I have been feeling more dominant lately. Perhaps… more active is the proper way to explain it? I always get more active with my fantasies when I have been holding back for some time.”

“So, basically, you’re starting to be more aggressive since you haven’t been getting to be submissive enough?”

“That is one way of looking at it!”

“Alright. So you turn dominant when you’re deprived of being submissive enough.”

“Think of it as a learning opportunity! If I were to be the man and you were the woman, I could teach you how I want you to treat me.”

“I’m pretty sure I already know how you want me to treat you. Actually being able to without killing you or feeling bad about it is the problem.”

“I know,” Nell says followed by a sad sigh. “That is why I must imagine those scenarios while being treated in a much softer manner.”

“Do you usually imagine your fantasies while we’re doing things?” Cassiel asks.

“I do at the start! Then it becomes too hard to think about them.”

“What does it become?” Serra asks.

“Too hard?”

“That’s what she said.”

“It doesn’t work that well if you have to try and get her to repeat herself first,” Fenrir says.

“It still worked in the end which is all that matters.”

“Yeah, but it would have worked better if you didn’t have to make her repeat herself.”

“The fact that I was disadvantaged makes it even better.”

“Wait. Are you—”

“Yeah.”

“You learned so fast. I’m proud of you, Serra.”

“Hey, don’t praise her for copying your weird view on winning,” Cassiel says.

“It’s too late,” Fenrir says, grabbing Serra and pulling her against his side. “We’re winners together now.”

“Winners,” Serra repeats while holding up a couple of peace signs.

“The best damn winners that this world has ever seen.”

“I’ll let you win wars if you let me win sex. Then we can win everything.”

“Deal. Between the two of us, nobody will ever be able to defeat us.”

“Weren’t you two just declaring you were going to compete with each other?” Cassiel asks.

“That was just a disadvantage,” Serra says.

“And now we’ve overcome that disadvantage to win together,” Fenrir explains. “That’s how winning works.”

“I give up,” Cassiel says and sighs.

“There, there, Cassiel! We can form our own faction with the two of us and Azalabulia in order to compete against them,” Nell says.

“Oh? Waging war on us?” Fenrir asks.

“Bold move,” Serra says.

“Serra, I recognize you as a worthy opponent, but I am well aware of how to defeat your partner,” Nell says.

“Yeah? And how do you plan on defeating me?” he asks.

This is when Nell walks up to Fenrir, slightly pulls her dress down with one finger to show more of her cleavage, and presses her chest up against his while resting her free hand on his larger figure.

“I need you, my hero,” Nell says, forcing herself to blush and to look up at him with teary, needy eyes. “You are the only one who can help me…”

Fenrir gulps and fails to resist looking down into her dress.

Meanwhile, Serra is the one to sigh this time while Cassiel securely plants her face in her palm.

“Will you not save me, my hero? I need you – I desperately need you to relieve me of this burning sensation within my core. It is a fire that only you can tame,” Nell continues, grabbing one of his hands to hold against her chest. “You can feel the warmth of this fire – the beating of my heart, can you not? I—”

“We’re ready!” GG shouts.

Fenrir goes from feeling excited to feeling terrified.

“The peasants dare interrupt us over such a trivial matter?” Nell says in a low voice to herself, pushing her hand against his chest even harder while pulling his hand against hers with just as much force. “I must admit that I am truly getting tired of these interruptions every time the scene gets good.”

Fortunately for Fenrir, she looks to be calming down.

He lets out a sigh of relief as she returns to normal.

Then she looks straight up into his eyes with a gentle… sinister smile.

“My hero, we are going to finish this later, yes? We will be thoroughly enjoying one another and whatever scenario I wish for us to act—without interruption—yes?”

“Is – is this you when you’re back to feeling pent up and wanting to be more active?”

“Yes. Yes, it is.”

“Weren’t you feeling better after what we did earlier? Before we came back in-game?”

“I was feeling better, yes. That is no longer applicable. Between that adorable sound you made earlier, the adrenaline from the battle, and teasing you like this, the embers within me have grown into that of a blazing inferno that demands pleasure.”

“We’ll do lots of lewd things later,” Serra says.

“If – if you’re really feeling that pent-up still then… I guess it’d be okay. Plus… I guess I kind of want more, too,” Cassiel says.

“We’ll bring Aza, too.”

“Well, my hero?” Nell asks, returning her attention to Fenrir. “It seems as if everybody else is content with this continuing later. Are you going to join us?”

“Do you think I wouldn’t?” Fenrir asks. “Of course I will. Just… go back to smiling normally before you awaken something in me.”

“Oh? My hero, is it possible that you like being looked at this way? Is it possible that you might have more of a masochistic side than we were aware of?”

“I – I don’t know about that. It’s just – I mean, you’re kinda scary right now, but it’s hot at the same time.”

“Is that so? Perhaps I should call you a little piggy instead of my hero?”

“I think that’s a bit much even for me,” he answers in a serious voice.

“A-ah. Apologies. I – I was getting ahead of myself. How embarrassing. Let us just pretend that I did not attempt that, yes?” Nell asks, back to her normal self. If anything, she’s more flustered than she would normally be due to her failed attempt at being sadistic.

In the end, even if she does get her slightly-sadistic and dominant moods, she struggles to stick with them and is quick to feel bad.

“I don’t think everybody here wants to pretend you didn’t attempt that,” Fenrir says, looking at Cassiel.

Cassiel was already blushing after hearing that name for him. Now, her face is even redder as she has had attention called to her.

“It’s – it’s not like I want to be called that or anything!” Cassiel announces, immediately making it obvious that she does, in fact, want to be called that.

“Hang on, wasn’t Aza supposed to cast an explosion? GG shouted at her that we’re ready,” Fenrir says.

“Bad. You changed the subject. I’m betraying our alliance,” Serra says.

“That easily?” he asks, poking her forehead.

She sticks bites his finger in response.

Then she licks it.

And sucks on the tip a bit.

This is when he pulls his finger away.

Meanwhile, Azalabulia finds herself staring into the newly-carved tunnel with her staff held out in front of her.

Everybody else is in cover except for Shogun. Shogun is supposed to get her to safety the instant after she casts her spell. And, by safety, what that means is that he’s to get her behind one of the barriers or pillars in the room to hide.

“Is there a problem?” GG shouts over to Azalabulia.

Azalabulia shakes her head and takes a deep breath.

In fact, there is the opposite of a problem.

Her fingers are tapping her staff’s shaft, her lips are twitching and threatening to curl, and her heart feels as if it is about to burst out of her chest.

She is just so excited that she’s making sure to fully cherish this moment.

Finally, she begins her chant.

“It is time, Bahamut! It is time to unleash your rage upon this world in a devastating display that will rend apart the fabric of reality itself! Let your rage boil the oceans themselves away! Let your darkness block out the sun in a darker-than-black shroud even a black hole could not stand against! I, Azalabulia, the Dark Sorceress of Twisted Flames, the Breaker of Reality, the One Who will Set the World Ablaze, and the Wielder of the Cursed Flame of Bahamut, will bring down this mountain and put an end to the invading enemies! This shall be the ultimate showcase of raw power – of the power that is destined to consume this world! Bahamut, together, we shall put an end to the foolishness that these lesser beings consider living! Now, let us show our true strength! Cursed Flame of Bahamut, Final Attack, Final Verse: Exodus of Reality, the Purging of Life, all who Oppose it, and the Destruction of Reality! Explode!”

The moment the final word leaves Azalabulia’s lips, she grins and giggles while an explosive, magical dragon flies into the tunnel that was prepared for her.

Shogun, seeing that Azalabulia is too busy watching the soon-to-be sight of an explosion to get onto his back, has to get her to safety by jumping up and biting onto the top of her dress to fly away with her.

The instant that he starts pulling on her, Azalabulia realizes what is about to happen and starts tugging down on her dress to make sure that nothing pops out for everybody to see.

“What’re you clicking your tongue for?” Fenrir asks Serra.

“Nothing,” Serra sighs.

A few seconds later and the roaring of a dragon reverberates through the underground cave.

Then that roaring is replaced by an explosive burst that, even if not directly visible, releases such a blinding light that everybody is affected by it even from behind wherever they are hiding.

The entire cave shakes. Rocks fall from the ceiling and walls, cracks appear in the ground, water is forced up and out of the hole in the ground due to the displacement caused by the cave-in, and a fiery burst of magic erupts outward from the tunnel that flows into the main cavern.

A couple of monsters unfortunate enough to just get out of the water are immediately turned to ashes upon the burning remnants of Azalabulia’s explosion reaching them.

As for Fenrir, he has his arms around Cassiel, Serra, and Nell as they all duck behind a pillar. The only other one with them is Rock who is lying down and holding her front paws over her ears.

“Best explosion ever,” Azalabulia mumbles in a state of euphoria as Rao licks the feathers of his tail that got singed by her spell.

“You did good, bro,” Rao says, crouching down to pet Shogun.

“What about me? Wasn’t that explosion awesome?”

“Yeah, yeah. Good explosion, sis. Just hope that this place doesn’t cave in on us.”

“I’d be okay if it did. I can die happy now.”

“I don’t think your boyfriend would be happy about that.”

“He knows that explosions are worth it.”

“You’re all crazy.”

GG and all of the dragons are safe, too. Those who don’t have the best protection to hide behind are supplementing their safety with magic, defensive barriers that shield them against Azalabulia’s near-overwhelming power.

As for Eva, she decided to stay behind one of the smaller pillars on her own. As for why she chose such a small pillar when she could have went with the dragons instead – well, the reason for that is because she wanted to conduct more research.

The pillar that she is hiding behind just so happens to be the one closest to Fenrir and his girlfriends.

Because of her decision, she has gotten to listen in on all sorts of interesting things even if she does feel bad for eavesdropping on private—and sexual—matters.

Then again, she is not the only one who could hear what they were saying.

As Rao would tell them, they really need to work on their conversation topics when around other people. They need to work on how loud they talk about such topics at the very least.

Cracking sounds come from above Eva.

When she looks up, she notices large cracks appearing through the pillar above her.

Then, it breaks.

The upper half of the pillar breaks into several chunks of rock that fall straight down toward her. Fortunately for her, and as she has already proven, her body isn’t just for show. A shot of energy from her angelic eye breaks one of the rocks into much more manageable chunks that won’t hurt her, and she’s able to defend against the last falling rock with her armored arms deflecting it.

Fenrir’s attention gets grabbed between the sound of her eye’s ability and the rocks crashing onto the ground.

She might be nodding to him to let him know that she’s alright, but she isn’t noticing the cracking ceiling above her.

Fenrir looks up and then back down to her.

She’s too busy rubbing her bruised arms to see him.

He could shout, but she might not react in time.

“Fen?” Cassiel asks as he gets up.

Not wasting a single second, Fenrir rushes through the burning magic still flowing through the cave while shouting, “Watch out!”

Large chunks of rock are already falling from the ceiling by the time that he reaches her.

Pushing her out of the way would push her into the same flames that he just ran through. Putting her into danger of those would defeat the purpose of protecting her from the falling rocks.

There’s only one option that he can think of now.

Eva notices him and asks, “Wha—”

Fenrir grabs onto her, essentially hugging her, and pushes her up against the bottom half of the pillar to keep her as safe as he can as he hides her smaller body underneath his.

Rocks from the ceiling pile up around them.

“Fen!” Cassiel shouts before looking around at the ceiling.

Those runes put in place to stabilize the cave are working fine except for one problem.

Any sections of rock between the runes are cracking and falling apart.

There was no rune above where Eva is since the dragons believed the runes would be close enough to protect the ceiling.

They underestimated just how powerful Azalabulia’s spell would be.

“Hang on,” Fenrir says, leaning over Eva.

“What are you – why are you protecting me?” Eva asks.

“It’s what friends do.”

“But… you know that this is just a game and that I would have been fine, right?”

“Shut up.”

Even if it is just a game, it is an extremely realistic game – a game that makes it incredibly easy to forget that the players have lives outside of it.

And Fenrir has always been one to get fully immersed.

Groans and grunts of pain force their way out of his mouth as rocks collide against his back, piling up around the two.

“How are your arms?” he asks.

“Should you really be worrying about my arms right now?”

“They look hurt.”

“And you’re getting hurt.”

“Eh. It’s just another day.”

“What are you, a superhero?”

“Just a weeb.”

Eva cracks a smile before getting a look up at his face.

Her face was previously against his chest. Now that she’s looking at his face, she can see just how much pain he’s in.

“I should really disable that pain setting already,” he groans.

A large rock crashes into his back, forcing him—and Eva—down onto their knees.

“Shit,” he grunts. “Cass Cass is going to kill me after this.”

“Seriously, why are you doing this? Why’d you protect me?” Eva asks, her voice lower now.

“Like I said. We’re friends now. Friends – tch, friends protect each other. Damn it, my tail and hair are going to be full of dust after this.”

More rocks pile on top of them.

Another crack.

Only, this crack isn’t from the ceiling nor pillar.

Fenrir’s arms go limp around Eva and he slumps forward.

“Fenrir?!” Eva shouts.

“I’m right here, you know,” Fenrir answers. “Don’t need to shout. My hearing is more sensitive in this game.”

“You… are you alright? Did—”

“I’m pretty sure my back just broke, yeah. It’s not as painful as I thought it would be even if I only have my pain set to fifty percent.”

“Are you stupid? Why would you—”

“Told you. Friends. Also, sorry if I’m heavy.”

“Why are you worrying about something as stupid as that?!”

“I told you my hearing is sensitive. Could you stop shouting? I can already barely see.”

“You – you… you unbelievable dumbass!”

“I’m not used to getting fanservice like this from anybody but Pupaya and Cass Cass.”

“I would have been fine! Even if I died, I have a respawn set back in the village! And I don’t care about dying in the first place! You should know all of that but you still did something so – so… so illogical! It doesn’t make any sense!”

“Kick reason to the curb. That’s how Team Soaring Wolves rolls.”

“Are… are you making some kind of reference while your spine is broken and you’re dying on top of a girl who’s pissed off at you for doing something so stupid and illogical?”

“My tail is the fluff that will pierce these rocks.”

“I don’t think anything of yours is going to pierce these rocks.”

“Yeah. Probably not, huh?”

“You’re unbelievable.”

“That’s a compliment coming from one of you scholars. I wonder if that fish armor from Thelmes would be helping out right now. Maybe I should’ve asked him for a copy of it.”

“Is this how you cope with being in intense pain after doing something so stupid? Making references and jokes?”

“Sounds about right, yeah.”

“You’re insane.”

“Thanks, girl who has experimented with falling to her death, dying by lava, and all sorts of other crazy things.”

“At least there was a logical reason to that! It was for science! This is – there is no good reason for this! You can’t tell me that you’re doing this to see how it feels or for science or anything!”

“I could tell you that, but I won’t, because I’m not. I already told you why I’m doing this.”

“Sacrificing yourself for a friend you barely know and only just met when you know that she’d be fine isn’t a good reason!”

“It’s good enough for me.”

“What if we weren’t friends? Then what?”

“Then I’d still be doing this. Well, unless you were some evil asshole who deserves to be crushed under rocks. Then I’d just let you die from it.”

“So, you’re telling me that you’d do this even if we weren’t friends? Even if we were complete strangers?”

“Yeah. Is it really that hard for you to believe?”

“It absolutely is!”

“Oh well.”

“Don’t just ‘oh well’ me!”

“You know, I have to admit that I thought you’d maybe be a tiny bit more grateful instead of shouting at me so much.”

“Because it doesn’t make any sense and that frustrates me!”

“We’re back to the not making any sense bit, huh?”

Fenrir looks down at her and sees a surprising sight.

She’s the one who’s crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

“You! I hate things I can’t understand!”

“Ouch. So you hate me?”

“You’re not even taking this seriously!”

“Well, it is just a game. I’ll be fine.”

“That’s what I said!”

She starts crying even harder.

“Alright. I’m sorry. Look, I just honestly did this because you’re my friend now and I wanted to protect you. I wasn’t thinking, I’m not going to say that it was logical, and I knew that you’d be fine even if you got killed. It’s just a game. Even so, I still wanted to protect you. It was just… instinct yelling at me to. That’s as good as I can explain it.”

“I just – I don’t get you. I don’t understand why you’d feel that way.”

“It’s just how I am. Haven’t you ever wanted to protect anybody before?”

She looks away and doesn’t answer him.

“I’m sure you would in the right situation. Maybe if it was in real life and if you had a kid or something. I’m sure you’d want to protect them.”

“There’s a difference between a parent protecting their child out of maternal instinct and a guy in a game sacrificing himself over somebody he barely knows for no good reason.”

“Close enough. In the end, you’re still protecting.”

“I… I give up. I just – I understand what you’re saying, but I can’t relate to it at all. That’s what is frustrating me.”

“That’s alright. You can’t always relate to everybody else in life. I know that I’d never be able to relate to Nell’s past life as a prin—piano player.”

“Prin-piano?”

“Yeah. It’s the latest rage.”

“I haven’t heard of it.”

“I’m sure you will.”

“Does it hurt?”

“I figure getting hit by a prin-piano would hurt, yeah.”

“I’m talking about your back.”

“Oh. I’m not sure how it feels. Let’s just say that it feels weird.”

“They’ll be able to heal you as long as you can survive until we’re dug out of here. It sounds like things have calmed down out there, so it shouldn’t be long.”

“What? You worrying about me now? I thought I was a dumbass who you hated?”

“I was being irrational. You’re not a dumbass and I don’t hate you. So… sorry about saying that.”

“It’s fine. Sorry for being so frustrating.”

“But… I think I get it now. Kind of. Maybe.”

“Get what?”

“I’ll let you know after my research is over. A scientist shouldn’t share their theory before they have enough evidence to support it.”

“Whatever you want. By the way, can you be careful with your horns? They’re getting kind of close to stabbing me. That’s already happened to me with Nell and I’d rather not get stabbed after breaking my back.”

Eva repositions her head so that her horns are no longer close to stabbing him in the face.

Then, the sounds of rocks being moved out of the way reach them. It doesn’t take much longer for a worried girlfriend’s words to reach them, too.

“Fen!” Cassiel shouts.

“I’m going to go deaf between you and her,” Fenrir tells Eva.

“I want to say that you deserve it for being so stupid, but… tha—…thanks. Thanks for protecting me even if you shouldn’t have.”

“You could have left out that final bit.”

“Too bad.”

“So cruel. I was teased earlier, just broke my back, and now I’m being teased even more. I see how it is.”

“Fen! Are you alright?!”

“Can you tell her to stop shouting for me? It’s kind of hard to talk any… louder than this,” Fenrir says, his voice growing weaker and weaker.

“Hurry up!” Eva shouts.

“That’s the opposite of what I wanted. That’s just more shouting."

With much of the weight lifted off of them, Eva is able to move her arms to help in pushing the rest of the rocks out of the way.

The more light that breaks through the openings, the more blood Eva can see all over Fenrir’s back and sides.

Even if it’s just a game, it’s an extremely realistic one.

She knows that there is no good reason to worry right now. Eva knows that he’ll be fine even if he dies – he’ll just respawn elsewhere.

But, for whatever reason, seeing him so battered and bloodied makes her want to get help to him immediately.

9