「I’ll detect the pitfalls and suspended ceiling, so you can stomp on all the traps.」
「Yer just gonna use brute force again！！」
Hiroshi burst out in objection to Mio’s egregious proposal. Sure, most traps weren’t scary, but forcing people to deal with all of them was no joke.
「But then we wouldn’t be able to deal with sudden traps, right？」
「Just as Haru says, we won’t be able to deal with those. But actually, it would be safer to cause them to all activate and ensure safety beforehand.」
Unlike when they snuck into Wulls Castle with Aearis, this would be an afflicting decision, as Mio’s voice suggested. Haruna was groaning, conflicted between logic and ethics.
Mio herself didn’t want to try this method. Not only would she be discarding her role, but she would be pushing a dangerous position on someone she liked. This time around they could not guarantee the safety of activating traps all around them. Only someone insane would try this. Mio herself was very sane, which was why she had an extremely apologetic, frustrated, bitter expression on her face.
「I dunno right now. Seems like it’d be better to activate ‘em from the safe zone ‘n then consider the rest from there.」
「Yeah. Experiment a bit.」
Agreeing with Hiroshi, Mio tried throwing a pebble at a fairly faraway location. Right after that, there was a flashy explosion.
「……I’d say…about ten poms all together?」
「Wouldn’t it be a bit dangerous for Tatsu or Haru？」
「Pretty much. Not as dangerous as extra large poms though.」
Analyzing the results of the explosion trap, Mio and Hiroshi thought about it a bit.
「How ‘bout we check three more?」
Hiroshi gestured, and Mio activated the next three in succession, which consisted of a falling stone from above, spikes from below, and spears from either side.
「……From the looks if it, this wouldn’t be anywhere near the power of an evil ent.」
「……Yeah, but don’t you think it would be plenty lethal for me or Tatsuya？」
「Sure, but I don’t think Haruna-san or Bro will get an instant K.O. It’s just that if ya git hit by several traps in a row that’s when things get a lil troubling……」
Checking the activated traps, Hiroshi analyzed them alongside Haruna before concluding.
「So are we okay with our speed plummetin’？」
「Wait, do you seriously intend to step on all of them！？」
「Yup, looks like the best idea. Of course it ain’t gonna feel good to take ‘em all head-on, so we’d just move slowly usin’ Fortress in full plate mode. That okay？」
Hiroshi appeared to be getting ready to do something crazy, and Mio halted him.
「Sensei, you don’t need to overdo it.」
「This is the safest way, Mio, ya said it yerself.」
Mio hadn’t thought the situation would develop like this, feeling confused. It was her turn to be indecisive.
「……Ah～、come to think of it……」
「What is it, Makoto？」
「Hiroshi did have this tendency to get carried away with going on dangerous missions that no one else can……」
Recalling when he used overaccelerate, Tatsuya and Makoto nodded at each other with indescribable expressions. Considering all that, this time around was probably not an issue for Hiroshi.
「So I know we’re going to activate everything, but please don’t get us caught up in it. That would defeat the entire purpose.」
「I know. I’ll make sure to use Around Guard when steppin’ on ‘em.」
「Okay. Judging from your demeanor I’m tempted to believe you’ll be fine, but just remember that not all the traps are going to have equal power. If you suffer a great wound then I can’t guarantee we’ll remain calm. Seriously, take good care of yourself.」
Nodding at Tatsuya’s warning, Hiroshi activated full plate mode. Mio, who saw this, looked apologetic but set to ascertain the variety of traps with earnesty.
「Sensei, you can step on all the traps in this area.」
「Roger. Get outta the way a bit.」
Hearing Mio’s report, Hiroshi proceeded to slowly step on everything. With every step, there would be explosions with loud noises, spears jumping out, axes swinging down, multiple lethal traps, and his armor repelled all of them. Lastly, a thorn-covered rope twined around him, trying to lift him up only to be sliced to bits like it was just a fun game.
「Wow, the killing intent is strong here……」
「It’s a little impossible to deal with traps on purpose like this.」
Agreeing with Tatsuya, who expressed his displeasure, Mio tried to once again announce defeat. If their opponent was breaking the rules, they would just do the same.
「Rather than have Hiroshi step on them, why not just take our distance and try activating them like earlier？」
At Makoto’s words, everyone besides Hiroshi looked at Mio, but she responded with a clearly grim face.
「The area won’t be controlled unless Sensei steps on the traps.」
Everyone understood why Mio was so assertive in saying this. Hiroshi probably accepted the dangerous job for that reason.
「You seem to have been picking up various things. What’s up with that？」
「Oh, I’m a lil miffed at just taking the brunt of the traps, so I’m gatherin’ whatever looks like it can be a good ingredient to use.」
This was once again a reasonable answer, and no one objected. And then right in front of them, Hiroshi reflexively grabbed onto an oncoming arrow.
「Wait, how the heck did you do that！？」
「Uhh, I just thought I could grab it, so I did？」
Hiroshi spoke so nonchalantly that Tatsuya and Makoto just stared with blank expressions. Meanwhile, Haruna and Mio didn’t look especially surprised.
「I don’t think agility is affiliated with grabbing flying arrows. It’s probably just dependent on how good your parry timing is, I guess？」
「With Sensei’s intuition and dexterity it would probably be fairly easy.」
Apparently grabbing arrows was more dependent on parrying than agility, which only came into play when multiple arrows came at once.
「And you just casually catch all those arrows…」
「Well it’s a waste just to leave ‘em here.」
Makoto pointed out as many issues as she could while Hiroshi continued to leisurely place arrows into his bag. As they continued this rather calm conversation, the group walked onward into thicker miasma areas, amidst all the loud noises.
Several hours later…
「This is some tough stuff…」
「I think we might be getting to the natural terrain area？」
「I dunno, but we still ain’t outta the tunnel.」
At this poison swamp-looking body of water spreading out before them, Hiroshi and Haruna threw offhand comments back and forth, clearly annoyed. The previous area was a tunnel, so it made sense to be mazelike, but they really weren’t having this poison swamp terrain.
「I honestly wanted to wait till we were more united, but I don’t think there’s any point talkin’ to the other ‘bout this, so I’ll leave it aside.」
「How do we get through this？」
「Well first we look at the depth.」
Hiroshi and Haruna had plenty of bitter encounters with poison swamps, so they did not hesitate in getting to discussion. Hearing those words, Mio drank a long-lasting panacea potion before beginning the search.
「……Seems to be the usual. A bottomless swamp.」
「Thought so. Drinking a panacea potion and going through is out of the question.」
Tatsuya groaned with a grimace when he heard Mio’s report, sticking a ten foot pole under the surface. He had anticipated this, but it was still unpleasant to hear upfront that the easiest solution was unusable.