As the Assault Kobolds drew near, Tifa and Haruhana took one step back, then another, and then another…
Tifa tried to start drawing a Spell Circle, but the disruption from the wounded Assault Kobold forbid her from going through with it.
If she were to move recklessly, it would surely not end well for Haruhana as well.
Haruhana herself did not move, having also understood the potential consequences of doing so.
Suddenly, behind them both, Tarawo howled.
He made it as loud as he possibly could, so as to draw the enemies attention.
This was the timing one could not afford to let pass.
Haruhana dashed toward the wounded Assault Kobold, prioritizing its elimination.
By the time the one-armed Kobold had its attention back to its main opponent, Haruhana was already in the air, performing a somersault before landing behind it.
Tifa unleashed her Thunder, sending it coursing through the earth toward the injured Assault Kobold.
The monster had its full attention on Haruhana.
With it not noticing the incoming stream of electricity behind it, Haruhana was sure that they already won this fight.
The other, healthier Assault Kobold had circled around the wounded one and defended it.
It shattered the ground with a strike of its dagger, dispersing the lightning stream.
Tifas face twitched upon realizing the failure of their plan, and at the same time, a look of utter astonishment ran through the face of Haruhana, who had been so confident of their victory just moments ago.
-That was the realization of her negligence.
That was the very reason she had ultimately mistimed her attack, which in this case was equivalent to mistiming her defense.
For Haruhana, that had been a miscalculation, while her opponent, on the other hand, had things go exactly how it had planned.
The monster successfully deflected her blow.
Haruhana, without any hope for evasion whatsoever, could now only close her eyes and await her death.
However, for some unknown reason, the dagger had disappeared from the Assault Kobolds remaining arm.
Or rather, what had disappeared was its whole arm.
Haruhana was bewildered by such an abnormal turn of events, but then almost instantly realized what she ought to prioritize.
With an uppercut slash, she cleaved her target from bottom to top in a single stroke.
Right when the armless Assault Kobolds body split open, Tifa wasted no time to ride on the momentum.
A clump of electricity flew out of its Spell Circle, then split into five fist-sized balls.
The spheres surrounded the other Assault Kobold, emitted a collective flash of light, and then flew at the monster in their center at blinding speed.
The Assault Kobold had its body burned, sending a disturbing stench wafting through the air.
Tifa and Haruhana, unfazed by such a sight and smell, ran ahead as if they were mutually drawn to each other, up to where the Assault Kobold was.
However, Tifa acted faster, prompting Haruhana to stop her feet at a distance she deemed appropriate instead.
“Burst! Now, go for it!”
The Assault Kobold, taking a violent kick to its side, was sent flying toward Haruhana – to where her blade was already aiming for.
Haruhana waited for the perfect timing to stress her diaphragm and shout out,
Countless thrusts, too fast to be counted by the n.a.k.e.d eye, pierced through every single vital spot of the Assault Kobold.
The battle was over – or so Haruhana thought, but she shook her head upon thinking of her overconfidence from earlier.
She leapt away from her position to where Tifa was.
They stood back-to-back, observing their surroundings for any lingering bloodthirst.
Tarawo approached Tifa.
Upon seeing the monsters corpse up close, particularly how it had been stabbed full of holes like a beehive, he cringed back from the sight.
Tifa, having understood the intent behind Haruhanas course of action, proceeded to draw a Spell Circle – this one specifically for a timely analysis on the situation.
“Rise, A-rise, A-rise! Bit & Flash Eye!”
As five black spheres emerged from the Spell Circle, Tifa added the Flash Eye spell on top of them.
The orbs promptly took in the spell as if s.u.c.k.i.n.g it in.
“Rise, A-rise! Remote Control!”
What Tifa had created on the fly was an automatic enemy-searching system, with the Bits scanning the vicinity and transmitting the information straight through to her brain.
Due to the sheer quantity of information to processed in such a short period, Tifa felt a slight ache run through her head.
Tifa had an anguished look on her face as she held her head with her free hand.
Haruhana glanced at Tifa out of concern, but upon the latters insistence that she was fine, the former returned her gaze to her observation.
Even now, Tarawo was still shaking.
“…Whew, looks like everythings all right now.”
“You think so”
“Hmm… yeah, Ill give that 60 points.”
In the brief moment they slackened their vigilance, the two was met with a deep voice in their ears.
The three could not help but turn to where they assumed the voice had come from.
However, they soon realized that the voice itself was a diversion.
“No, not there! Over here!”
The three turned around once again.
The one who now stood in front of Tifa and Haruhana was Bruce, one of The Silver.
Tifa judged from the surprised yet lax tone of Haruhanas exclamation that this new arrival was not an enemy.
Still, she showed no signs of relief.
She was taken aback by Bruces physical capabilities, and in turn, was reminded of her own foolishness – the combination of such feelings agitated her greatly.
“Hey there, lil miss.
Save the brooding for when you get back to town.
There must be something else you ought to do now.”
Tifa came to her senses upon receiving that reminder.
She, along with Haruhana and Tarawo, kept her guard up, even though Bruce was already right in front of them.
“Good! I mean, too little too late for that, but still…”
Bruce said and nodded once, then turned away from the three.
Blazer and Natsu were standing by where he looked at.
“Sir Blazer! Natsu! Why are you all here”
“Were following Natsu around, thats all.
And sorry… we didnt mean to b.u.t.t in, but it looked dangerous back there-“
“Bruce threw that rock real hard, you know! It was super awesome!”
With that, Tifa, Haruhana, and Tarawo finally realized what had happened.
It was by Bruces interference that the injured Assault Kobold had lost its remaining arm at the end.
“Blazer, dude! I thought you promised not to tell anyone!”
“I sure did.
But the one who spilt it was Natsu, you know”
“Gah, damn it! I shouldve told Natsu to zip it as well!”
“Ahahahahaha! You three were super cool though!”
In reaction to Natsus innocent laughter, Haruhana and Tifa turned to look at each other, while Tarawo g.r.o.a.n.e.d up his nose.
The former two ended up cracking a smile, and so did Bruce and Blazer in succession.
But the latter two were only smiling on the surface, for their eyes suggested a completely different tone.
Both of them realized what the other was implying, and so they went to observe the healthier Assault Kobolds remains.
Bruce nodded in response to Blazers eye contact, and then moved on to pick Natsu up.
Natsu seemed to be used to doing this, as apparent from her holding on to his neck with one arm then waving everyone else goodbye with the other.
“Bye-bye! See you later!”
The girls cheerful voice echoed… in the distance, thanks to the sheer walking speed of Blazers group.
As Tifa and Tarawo were agape in shock at how fast everyone else was, Bruce called out to them once more.
“Youre done with the quest already, right Cmon, lets get back to town.
High-ranked monsters appear at night around here, so its best that we all hurry.”
Haruhana nodded in response to that advice, sheathed her katana, then turned to Tifa and saw that she was casting her eyes down in shame.
She proceeded to give her a pat on her shoulders, whispering, “Dont worry about it.
All of us still have a long way to go”.
Tifa kept her eyes down to look at Tarawo, who has now rejoined her side and was looking up at her.
She struggled to keep her lips sealed as she finally raised her face.
“Yeah, I know.”
In an attempt to hide her embarrassment, she pulled her hood up before starting after Bruce and the others.
Haruhana, having observed the act from behind, turned to Tarawo, who was now dumbstruck by Tifas positive change of attitude.
Haruhana whispered to him, “Such a… good Master, isnt she”
However, all the Chihuahua Familiar had for his reply were two words suggesting the contrary.
“Well, well…” Haruhana muttered in mild surprise… before chuckling at the sight of the dogs wagging tail.