With a [Wooden Shortbow] in hand, I ran ahead of Kyoko, charging toward the pair of [Greater Wolves] that were running in our direction. As we ran, I nocked a [Fire Arrow] from my quiver and pulled the string. A targeting reticle appeared in my vision, matching the movement of the arrowtip. I aligned the reticle with the closer of the two Wolves and loosed the arrow, causing its target to burst into flames, writhing on the ground in agony. The other wolf continued its charge, leaping at me once it got within striking distance. Not missing a beat, I threw myself into a slide, passing underneath the Wolf as Kyoko jumped over it. As I passed under the Wolf’s belly, I took another Fire Arrow from my quiver and shoved it forcefully into its soft abdomen, causing it to meet the same fiery demise as its companion.
However, although the immediate danger was gone, I did not stop moving. From my sliding position, I kicked my legs down hard and launched myself into the air, performing a backflip midair. In the brief moment where I was suspended in the air, I swapped weapons to my [Wooden Longbow] and nocked three Fire Arrows, drawing the string. My field of vision was replaced by a game-like zoom scope, allowing me to three wolves in the distance running toward us. Additionally, as long as I was midair or in the middle of any acrobatic manoeuvre, entering the zoom mode would cause me to experience time in a slowed state, extending my airtime and making it easier for me to aim. I quickly moved my reticle such that all three of the Wolves were marked. Then I activated my skill.
Three burning arrows flew out from my bow and struck the three Wolves squarely on their heads – an instant kill.
As I put away the bow, time returned to normal, and I began falling from my vantage point in the sky. Kyoko quickly caught me and set me gently on the ground.
I hurriedly checked the hem of the miko robes that Kyoko had lent me, making sure that they hadn’t been dirtied during my acrobatics. Thankfully, not a stain was to be found on them. Apparently, they were blessed by a spell from Kyoko’s [Purification Dance] tree of [Divine Magic] that made them unable to be dirtied. She had kindly lent me the robes since losing the [Divine Armour] from the [Valkyrie] class had left me in my underclothes. Wearing them was a nostalgic feeling. I had spent some time helping out at a local shrine in high school, so that I had something nice to put on my resume. I had worn a similar outfit back then. I was actually really popular, especially with tourists. Seeing a girl with German features in a miko outfit was relatively rare, after all. Lots of people wanted to take photos with me.
There were also some creepy folks that asked me to pose in various ways for them, but let’s not go into that. Needless to say, I always refused.
Incidentally, the near-inhuman acrobatic manoeuvres that I had performed were, of course, not something I had done unassisted. Reaching level 10 on the [Archer] class had unlocked the [Acrobatics] skill, which allowed me to move in ways that I had previously thought impossible. Kyoko even told me that a higher-level [Advanced Acrobatics] skill existed. I wondered what kind of moves that let you pull off. Double jumping, maybe?
The five Wolf kills had gotten me another level, bringing me to Level 14. Unfortunately, no new skills unlocked. That said, I suspected that new skills, if any, would be unlocked at level 15, just because my past experience with games told me that levels which multiples of five were common places to put skill upgrades, and this world so far was game-like enough that it was reasonable to assume a similar system would be in place here.
I glanced at my quiver to check on my remaining ammunition. From the initial 50 Fire Arrows that I had gotten by spending 5 GP for a single roll, I had only 9 remaining. Looking at the time, I was due to get another GP from [Login Bonus] soon, but I wondered whether it would be wise to continue relying solely on the [Arrow Gacha] for arrows. If possible, I wanted to save my GP for the [Class Gacha], or the [Weapon Gacha] at least. On top of that, we had apparently hunted too much in the [Wolf King’s Plains] – Greater Wolves had started actively avoiding us. The frequency of their appearances were becoming few and far between. Any longer and the field would no longer be an efficient grinding spot. On the other hand, this was the only [Area] that we had brought a [Map] for. Trying to hunt in a new, unknown area without a [Map] would be too dangerous. Thus, I decided to end the grind session for the time being.
I informed Kyoko of my decision, and we began the long trek back toward Kronshire.
As we journeyed, to pass the time, I inquired about Kyoko’s past. It took a little time, since she insisted on drawing illustrations to go with her story, but it was cute, so I didn’t mind it.
It appeared that Kyoko was from a long line of mikos and priests who had served in the largest temple of the country. Even among those of her lineage, Kyoko was considered a genius beyond compare, easily picking up all the rituals and the various exorcism arts, as well as being extremely skilled at combat. Despite her young age, her accomplishments and talent had been enough to earn her the Class of [Divine Miko], a Divine Class that could only be conferred by the gods. In the history of this world, there had only been five individuals with this class, and they had all attained exceedingly high positions in the faith – they were considered to be existences similar to the [Saints]. Kyoko started acting a little boastful as she went into detail about how quickly she had mastered various skills, but it was cute, so I didn’t mind it.
Incidentally, [Saints] were people who were chosen by the gods to be their messengers in the mortal realm, and were usually treated as demigods. There was only one [Saint] in the world at any given time, and currently the position was unoccupied.
Anyway, moving on with her story, it seemed that Kyoko hadn’t always been mute. An accident in a Level 8 [Purification Dance] had stripped her of her ability to speak. This was, of course, a problem for her, since [Purification Dance] magic above Level 6 tended to require a song as well as a dance, and if she was unable to speak, she would hence be unable to perform the duties required of her. She lost many things from that accident. The failed ritual took the lives of her parents. The loss of her ability to speak caused her to lose her position. She lost the joy of singing – one of the things she loved most.
The people in the temple who had once sought her acquaintance with fervour started to distance themselves from her. Her remaining relatives – her aunts and uncles that had treated her kindly when her parents were alive – used the occasion to cast Kyoko’s competence into doubt, using that as the justification to deny her the position of Head Miko, a position that should have been hers by inheritance.
Stripped of her voice, her position, and her friends, Kyoko decided to leave the temple and search for her own way. In the course of her travels, to ease her transition from place to place, she signed on with the Adventurer’s Guild and took on requests for extra money whenever a convenient request was available. Due to her intelligence and high martial skill, she had rapidly risen through the ranks to where she was today, a respected Adventurer, the youngest B-Rank in history.
However, she had never given up on returning to the temple; she had never given up on searching for her voice. She heard tell of a book, the [Sibylline Scripts], a tome that contained information on all things, past, present, and future. She saw the book as a lead – if anything could tell her how to regain her voice and reverse the effects of the failed ritual, it was [Sibylline]. And she had made searching for the [Sibylline] one of her main goals. It was mere coincidence that she had run into me at Kronshire. She had, in truth, been merely passing through when she detected the strong magic emanated by this tome – on Appraisal, she had confirmed that it was [Sibylline]. The rest, so to speak, was history.
I’ll admit that I didn’t know how to respond to Kyoko’s story. I hadn’t expected her background to be quite so… tragic.
I briefly apologised for making her talk – well, write – about it, but she quickly shook her head and wrote out a reassurance that she was not offended. She stated that it was her own arrogance that had caused her to make a mistake in the ritual, but I saw things otherwise: it was unreasonable to have a girl that young, no matter how talented, attempt such a dangerous ritual. I could only see it as an attempt to make her fail and discredit her. Still, I decided to keep this view to myself. She had more than enough things to worry about without having to listen to my conspiracy theories.
Before long, we reached the area in front of the Kronshire gates, where people were lining up to get in, much like the first time I had been here. However, as I started to step toward the gates, a red notification icon appeared in the bottom right of my field of vision, causing me to stop in my tracks. I focused on it, causing a window to appear.
New [Character Recruitment Quest] is available.
Requirements: [Durandal] must be equipped.