We took stock of our equipment and planned our movements before leaving the safe area.
The final explorers weren’t too far from us. However, Hotaru-san could feel that they were close to the boundary of the boss area.
「They are probably stuck between the Floor Boss who doesn’t move unless you invade its territory and a strong monster that can’t approach because it’s afraid of the Floor Boss. That’s most likely why they can’t escape ja.」
So they weren’t found because they were just on the outskirts of the boss area where normal monsters won’t approach.
I don’t know if they did it on purpose, or if they came upon it by chance, but I’ll finish what Sistina requested if it’s the last thing I do.
Despite my shameful appearance of only wearing gauntlets on my upper half.
「It seems like the Flame Fang from before led this area ja. The presence of monsters here are thin. There’s the possibility of avoiding combat and saving the explorers ja.」
That’s great. I didn’t want to have to engage in intense battles while I was half naked. However, wearing chainmail on bare skin was painful so I couldn’t equip it. Sorry chainmail, but I’ll have you stay in my backpack for now.
Every so often we paused to sense for monsters as Hotaru-san guided us along.
Unfortunately because we were proceeding while trying to avoid combat we couldn’t move in a straight line.
Sistina’s directions that she scratched on the walls had gotten confusing as well, but it couldn’t be helped. Once we found the explorers we would all leave together so it would be fine since we knew the way back.
「mu, this isn’t good ja. I feel strong bloodthirst on the opposite side of our desination ja.」
「Is it a monster heading to attack the explorers?」
「We’re running! If we move quickly we can make it in time.」
I saw Hotaru-san set off at a sprint which was very rare. It showed that we would barely make it just as she said. Since we were running straight there I felt nervous that Hotaru-san’s presence detection wouldn’t catch view of some monsters in time, but at this point it was all I could do to keep up with her.
If Sistina and I were normal people then neither of us would have been able to keep up with Hotaru-san.
「Uwaaaaa! G-go away! K-keep awaaaaaaay!」
Hotaru-san uncharacteristically cursed as she led us on. I could hear the screams of a man at the end of his wits.
「Did we run out of time?」
「Not yet! If I can still hear voices then I won’t give up!」
Sistina hadn’t given up as she glared forward and ran even harder. I couldn’t see a hint of hesitation left in her. What I saw was without a doubt the most beautiful and cool Sistina.
…..actually…『Sistina on top of my bed』 is in first place…but this is definitely tied.
「We’re charging in ja!」
Hotaru-san announced as we rounded a corner at full speed.
Around the corner we saw a dead end with one completely battered and bleeding man in armor with a long sword. There was one more person lying on the ground covered in blood. There was one more explorer lying against the dead end wall who we couldn’t tell if he was alive or dead.
And what we saw in front of the explorers was…
『Tower Hide Bear (8th Floor) Rank: F』
Despite being a bear, it was a slim and tall monster of the 8th floor. Finally something from the 8th floor emerged…
「Tower Hide Bear! 8th Floor Rank F!」
I cried out my analysis like usual as I followed Hotaru-san to press the attack. Sistina seemed to have judged that she should treat the injured to prevent any unnecessary deaths.
She had placed her trust in us and left the monster for us. A good trend. In that case we had to firmly respond to those expectations or I couldn’t call myself her master!
I didn’t know whether the bear sensed Hotaru-san’s extraordinary presence behind it, but it turned away from the explorers and roared towards us.
However, it was too late as Hotaru-san had already reached the bear’s chest. First strike…
Unlike what I predicted the bear moved with incredible agility and dodged her strike. This thing is fast!
I had never imagined that something like this could dodge Hotaru-san’s attack, but I still had to attack anyways.
I took my stance with my sword and Sakura-chan before moving to pincer the beast between Hotaru-san and I….
Hm? Huh? Where did it go?
「Soujirou! Don’t get confused by its camouflage, block your left side!」
Eh what? Camouflage? Gotta defend!
I did as I was told and blocked on reflex before feeling an enormous force striking my swords and sending me flying into the opposite wall. I struck it with my back and lost my breath.
I withstood the pain as I looked back at where I had stood and saw something there.
「Are you okay Soujirou ja!? This thing changes the color of its body hair to help hid its presence! Don’t focus on it, expand your field of vision to see its movements! You should be able to grasp its location!」
Really!? 『Hide Bear』 meaning 『Bear that hides itself』!? Are you some kind of ninja bear!? So that’s why Hotaru-san didn’t pick up its presence as quickly as other monsters.
Wait, and why is Sakura-chan so happy in this crisis?? I can feel her spirits rising? What is going on!?
Anyways, Hotaru-san was fighting the bear but I couldn’t spot it properly…I wouldn’t be of any help if I couldn’t see it.
If I don’t figure out how to spot it then I’ll be useless.
I can’t focus on one area…if I focus too hard then my field of view narrows and I gain more blind spots.
The Hide Bear would take advantage of that.
Take a step back and look at the big picture…search for something that feels off…
I finally spotted a bear that looked translucent after it was off balance from one of Hotaru-san’s attacks. I charged in ready to strike.
I struck powerfully causing the bear to be unable to move and tried to cut its throat with Sakura-chan, but the bear brought up its right paw to protect it. I managed to cut off its paw but couldn’t deal a finishing blow.
Following my momentum after swinging Sakura-chan I rolled away and allowed Hotaru-san to take my place.
「Well done Soujirou ja」
I heard Hotaru-san say sounding very pleased and in the next moment I saw the Hide Bear’s head fly through the air. As expected of Hotaru-san, she perfectly found the opportunity I had provided and finished things off.
As expected of a monster from the 8th floor. Just a single one was so formidable. Its defensive strength was to the point that my bastard sword wouldn’t be able to cut it, I would have had to rely on blunt attacks to beat it down.