Pochi had been teaching Leon to say my real name… now that was one thing I had never expected.
I had tried misdirecting Bright by saying that it was part of a new spells name, but then he asked if that was actually true… with a shade of the Black Emperor showing in his smile.
Seriously, though, what made Pochi think it was a good idea to teach THAT, of all things, to Chappie
Well, hes still young… I mean, still a child, so I guess its fine.
His body was already more or less full-grown, sure, but his mind was still that of a spoiled kid.
“Is that really a no, mother”
“How do you expect to sit on me!”
“Thats why I said Id cling to your back with the nails of my feet-“
“And tear my back to shreds! You have two splendid wings; use them!”
Chappie looked quite a bit sad when he was told that.
But hes got to consider that all the rest of us were already on Pochi; me, Leon in my arms, and Bright behind me.
“Really, those sharp claws on my shoulder…”
Theyll cling on excellently, Im sure!”
Young Bright and I hopped on the gigantified Pochis back.
June looked up at Pochi then at me, her hands clasped together as if in prayer.
“Sir Poer… Please take good care of Bright for me.”
I nodded silently.
Bright gave an encouraging look to his sister, reassuring her that hed grown up and can take care of himself.
Well, his looks did turn a bit m.a.t.u.r.e in general, too.
Boys do grow up fast around his age, after all.
“Are you sure you want to send us off with that, Master Polco”
Once I replied to him in a semi-scolding manner, Polco looked as if he was having a hard time containing his laughter.
Take good care of Leon – thats all Ill ask.”
“Yes, of course.”
Polco passed me a roll of parchment; I accepted it and put it in my c.h.e.s.t pocket.
Then I answered his last question with a smile.
Pochi howled, signaling the departure.
“ARF! ARF! ARF! Chirp!”
…Followed by Chappies shoddy attempts at imitating those howls.
“Bah! Youre still too weak!”
“Im so sorry, mother!”
Chappie apologized while he was flying up; at the same time, Pochi ran forward.
Looking at the horizon over which the sun has yet to rise, we all headed east.
My sweaty hands held on tightly to Pochis back.
She was shaking a little too; now that I think about it, this was actually the first real adventure wed gone on ever since arriving in this era.
It was likely that the closer we were to Toued, the more wild monsters under the Devil Kings influence would appear.
But its all right – we had gotten much stronger over the past eight months, no, almost one year.
The Eternal Fool, The Polarizing, Hermit Candidate, Great Mage, High Class Alchemist, Staff Grandmaster, Six Archmages (Tentative), Honored Teacher, Rank S, Top Student, Papa, No Guts, SS Slayer, Guardian Mage (Tentative), The Strong, The Swift, Below Familiar, Ancient Slayer, Devil King (Tentative), Mad, Forbidding Breacher, Thousand Magician, Holy Warrior (Tentative), Village Hero, Heavenly Beasts Father
SPECIAL SKILLS:Attack Magic (Zenith)Support Magic (Skilled)Recovery Magic (Skilled)Purification (Skilled)Fortify StrengthFortify ResilienceTempestLight BodyFortify Mind
Advanced Familiar, The Powerful, Avian, Intermediate Mage, One Who Requires Earplugs, Godparent, Sweet Tooth, The One Raised by the Fool, Wind Deity, The Strong, Ancient Slayer, Sweets (Tentative), Violet Phoenix, Holy Warriors Familiar (Tentative), SS Slayer, Heavenly Beasts Mother, Archetype Error
SPECIAL SKILLS:Breath Attack (Zenith)Air ClawGigantificationBlinding SpeedFortify StrengthFlightFortify ResilienceAttack Magic (Intermediate)Support Magic (Intermediate)Recovery Magic (Intermediate)Arcane DrainFortify Mind
Little Brother, Genius Pupil, Genius Mage, The Investigator, The Charismatic, The Black Emperor, Genius
SPECIAL SKILLS:Attack Magic (Skilled)Support Magic (Advanced)Recovery Magic (Advanced)Fortify StrengthFortify ResilienceLight BodyTempest
Violet Phoenix, Avian (X), Wolf-dog (Tentative)
SPECIAL SKILLS:Arcane DrainBreath Attack (Strong)
Im probably strong enough to take on a Rank SS monster by myself now.
Not that Id willingly do so.
The rank of my Attack Magic skill had changed, too.
First time Ive ever seen this rank, actually.
Perhaps this meant that the other disciplines of magic could achieve higher ranks as well
Pochi… she had gotten a strange new title, but I suppose that one was… unavoidable, so to speak.
Young Bright… he had improved quite a lot.
It wasnt just because of my tutorship; he had been pushing himself hard while I wasnt looking as well.
And Chappie… Wed had him hunt quite a few monsters already, taking advantage of his ability to fly.
Unlike us, monsters were a natural part of his diet; because of that, his kill count had inevitably increased, too.
We all had gotten stronger.
I sure would like to head back to the future right about now, but the limitations of this time were preventing us from doing so.
But well get there… were moving forward, one step at a time.
“Its… not enough!”
“I want to go home!”
“I wanna go home, sir!!”
It had been a year since wed last metthem, too.
Never had I thought we would run into them again, in fact…
With Pochis nose tracking being unreliable now, I should have been much more careful.
We should have accounted for our reduced field of view during the night… and all the hostile noises around us.
Those should have clued us enough to proceed cautiously.
To quote the words of a certain dog friend of mine…
I do not understand! And I will never live this down!
A herd of horse-human hybrids called Grand Centaurs, technical name Kentauros, were after us.
They wagged their tails, not unlike how Pochi did, and their human-halfs eyes glowed suspiciously.
There should be about fifty of them.
Well be alright, though; Chappie could just fly high into the sky to escape, and Pochis speed was way greater than what it had been before.
…Or we would have been fine, if not for that one monster among them.
It was their king… and as that title suggested, it commanded over the herd of horse-humans, though it only appeared very rarely.
The Kingrun, an SS-ranked monster.
It had purple skin, as if it was blood-congested, and its lower half was covered in red hair.
…Its l.i.c.k.i.n.g its lips as it looked at Leon, as if it was imagining how delicious the kid must be.
“Chappie! Take Master Bright and fly up!”
Bright shouted while grabbing on to my mantle.
“Dont worry! I have a task for you to complete!”
“Good luck, father!”
Chappie let Bright sit on his back and ascended; the Kingrun leaped up as if to chase them.
Just as it was about to reach Chappie, Pochi unleashed her zenith-level breath attack at the Kingrun, grazing its face.
Forced to suddenly change its trajectory mid-air, the Kingrun glared at Pochi as it descended and landed.
“If something were to happen to my kid, my Master wont forgive you all!”
“Hey, speak for yourself, and let me speak for myself!”
“No way! Just you should be enough to take on that Kingruns hostility! Look, Ive already bought you the time you need! Just whip up a spell to blow it away or something!”
Cant say that I totally agree with her, but she didnt even need to tell me what to do!
“Rise, A-rise! Grand Slam!”
A special earth-elemental spell – it shook the ground, destabilizing the Grand Centaurs footholds.
At the same time, Pochi, with me on her back, jumped up.
Bright, high up in the sky, had his eyes fixed on the Kingrun; I shouted to send a signal to him.
“Now, Master Bright!”
He cant possibly miss this timing.
Bright was just done drawing the Circle of a spell he thought would best fit the situation.
A spell that had a good affinity with Grand Slam… theres only one –
“Rise, A-rise, Gravity Stamp!”
Bright unleased my original large-scale spell – no idea when he even stole it from me – forcing the Grand Centaurs to collapse onto the ground; the ones that lost their balance fell into the cracks that had been created by the Grand Slam.
Leon shouted as he pointed at the Kingrun, as if to warn me of something.
The monster was trying to jump again… this time toward us.
Strangely, the kids got good intuition; was it because I had started taking him along on monster hunts more often lately
Pochi and I were also aware of the Kingruns action, of course.
Pochi changed his descending trajectory mid-air with her zenith breath attacks propulsive force, dodging the Kingruns charge.
Mm-hm, shes getting better at this, too.
The monsters speed was on par with the speed at which the Ogre King had thrown its spears.
But Pochi was able to dodge that; if we had the time to anticipate it, we should be able to intercept it.
Its all right; I can do it.
I can do it!
“Pochi Pad Bomb!”
The spell, which I shot blindly behind me, made a direct hit at the Kingrun, greatly weakening it.
And then Pochi flipped over again, hitting the Kingrun with her persistent stream of zenith breath.
“That was great!”
“Of course I am! But the Grand Centaurs are still coming, sir!”
“Leave them to me! Rise! Parasitic Control & Magic Convert! Spell Name: Gravity Stamp to
Immediately following us, Bright controlled his Gravity Stamp, converting the stream of gravity into one big downward strike.
The monsters closed their eyes, seemingly unaware of what had just hit them.
Chappie and Bright then proceeded to finish off the Grand Centaurs that wouldnt stay down.
Once the vicinity had calmed down, and after we had confirmed that the Kingrun was definitely dead, young Bright ran up to me.
“Thats amazing, Instructor! I never knew you could invoke a magic spell and magecraft at once!”
“Oh, wow… youve noticed, Master Bright”
“Yes, I have!”
Brights eyes were sparkling… as if he was thinking about how I wasstill useful.
If I hadnt gotten to meet Warren beforehand, I probably would have been fooled by this sweet facade of his.
“That was too easy, sir!”
Dont fool yourself, Pochi… Youll still say that you want to go home if we were to have another encounter like that, wont you
Well, the same goes for me, of course.