Ch 34 – Walking The Rope (3)

My strategy worked well.
Surprisingly well for something improvised.
-Kieeeek! -Kieee! Two Cockatrices were lured by Travis's stone-throwing and chased after him.
Travis, sporting a contorted expression, sprinted with all his might.
In the meantime, Eshild efficiently incapacitated the two Cockatrices with his magic.
All that remained were seven regular Cockatrices and one Cockatrice Battle Captain.
Fortunately, Max's taunts succeeded.
While Max blocked the assaults of three Cockatrices with his shield, Eshild confronted the remaining two.
So, I ended up confronting the leader, the Cockatrice Battle Captain, one-on-one.
'I can win.' I was confident.
I could win in a one-on-one battle.
Even though the Cockatrice Battle Captain is a 'named' monster, it's weaker than the real thing because it was created by magic.
Besides, I know the perfect strategies for all types of 'named' monsters.
'Let's see.' The Cockatrice Battle Captain maintained a certain distance from me, as if studying me.
In this respect, it indeed resembled a 'named' monster.
However, its combat power wasn't overwhelmingly higher than that of a regular Cockatrice.
Given that it's a magical monster, its actual combat power might be on par with a giant Cockatrice.
The Battle Captain's body was covered with tough feathers, but I could easily penetrate them with my practice longsword.
'It's rather fortunate, I guess.' If it had been a Great King Beetle, whose skin was nearly impenetrable to a sword, I wouldn't have stood a chance without Siena's assistance.
As I confronted the Battle Captain and contemplated all this, I heard Siena's voice from behind me.
“Do you need help?” I responded without taking my eyes off the Battle Captain.
“No.” It's best not to get involved with that pervert.
Unless I'm on the brink of death, I can defeat the battle captain.
“Hehe, I see.” Just as Siena smiled contentedly, -Kie, kie, kieee! The Cockatrice battle captain let out a screech and charged at me.
Its speed was much faster compared to a regular Cockatrice.
However, my [Observer's Eye] could even detect the swift strikes of experts like Piel and Irene.
A simple attack from a monster was easy to discern.
'Judging by its stride and the direction of its beak…
Huh?' The Battle Captain wasn't targeting me.
…Its target was Siena, who was behind me.
'That cunning elf must have done something.' Otherwise, there was no reason for the Battle Captain, who had been confronting me until now, to suddenly charge at her.
It was probably spirit magic.
Not fire or water, but wind, perhaps? Regardless, the enraged monster exposed its weakness.
It was a clear opportunity.
Swish─! I immediately slashed the monster's two legs with my practice longsword.
─Ki, kieeee…
Eeeeek! Of course, since it was a practice weapon, I couldn't cleanly sever the creature's legs, but I seemed to have succeeded in breaking both of them.
As proof, the battle captain let out a pitiful scream and collapsed to the ground.
I approached the creature with my sword drawn.
The battle captain looked up at me and cried sadly.
“Die.” Of course, I had no intention of showing mercy.
I needed to kill this thing quickly and go help my teammates.
I gripped the longsword hard and cut its throat.
Its neck was cut about a third of the way through.
Swish, Swish─! I swung my sword in the same spot several times, and soon the battle captain's head was severed.
“······.” There was no grotesque scene of blood spurting like a fountain.
The headless corpse of the battle captain disappeared as if it had never existed.
-Keeeeeek! -Keeeee! The ordinary Cockatrices then started to go berserk.
They screamed and flapped their wings and beaks wildly.
I quickly returned to my teammates.
“Max, can you hold on a little longer?” “···Uh, yeah.” Max, surrounded by a blue mana shield, answered.
The Cockatrices were continuously striking the shield.
Judging by the density of the mana, it seemed he still had some room to spare.
His defensive capabilities were truly top-notch.
“Just hold on a little longer, I'll be right there.” At the same time, I charged at two Cockatrices playing tag with Travis.
I quickly dealt with them.
The ambushed Cockatrices disappeared without a trace, just like the battle captain.
Regular Cockatrices were easy to deal with if there were no 'Named' ones.
I spoke to Travis.
“Travis, support Eshild.
I'll deal with the ones attacking Max.” “Ah, got it!” Travis, who had been throwing stones, now drew his short spear and joined Eshild.
“Damn, I thought I was going to die.” Having run out of magic, Eshild was confronting a Cockatrice with his dagger drawn.
'Alright, they're taken care of.' I approached the Cockatrice that was continuously hitting Max's tower shield.
I was already quite exhausted.
However, even in this state, as long as there were no 'Named' monsters, I could handle ordinary Cockatrices.
With that thought in mind, I approached the Cockatrice.
-Kee, keeee! -Keeeaaaaa! Their movements stopped temporarily.
'No, it's not that they stopped.' They were caught.
The Cockatrices were immobilized, only able to scream.
'Is it Siena's spirits?' It was just a guess.
People without spirit affinity can't see or feel spirits, unlike magic.
Of course, I have no affinity at all, so I can't feel them.
I sighed inwardly and repeatedly stabbed the sharp end of my weapon into the necks of the Cockatrices.
I must have stabbed each one about five times.
Like the Battle Captain, they vanished as if they never existed.
I moved toward Eshild and Travis while casting a glance at Siena.

She just flashed a playful smile at me.
'Really, it looks so unrealistic.
As if she's on a picnic by herself.' I quickly looked away and joined Eshild and Travis.
However, as soon as I approached the Cockatrices, ─Kii, Kiiiieeek…! Just like before, the Cockatrices stopped.
“What the hell? Why are they suddenly acting like this?” “Anyway, let's just kill them quickly!” Eshild and Travis tilted their heads, confused, and killed the Cockatrices.
With that, there were no remaining Cockatrices.
We had won.
“Wow, damn! We survived!” “Seriously, it feels like I aged ten years.” “Uh-hu, uh-huhuhuk.” Eshild, Travis, and Max hugged each other, celebrating their victory.
'Strange.' I looked at my wristwatch with a sinking feeling.
Eight minutes had passed since we encountered the flock of Cockatrices.
'…The instructors who should have arrived within five minutes still haven't come.' The implication was clear.
The other teams were also in danger.
'It's unfolding just like the original.' I addressed my team members, except for Siena, who were still rejoicing.
“The battle isn't over yet.
There's a high probability that the other teams are also in trouble.
I understand that you want to celebrate, but we need to set it aside for now.
It's time to go help our classmates.” “But…
the other teams must have shattered their emergency communication crystals…
wouldn't the instructors go help them?” “Given that no instructor has come to our aid yet, it's reasonable to assume that the other teams are facing similar predicaments.
Max, I understand your sentiments.
You just finished fighting and want to rest for a while.
But as heroes, we must persevere.” And so, I encouraged my teammates.
Of course, it wasn't easy for me either.
However, someone out there desperately needs our help.
Initially, a Great King Beetle should have appeared in the original scenario, but we encountered a flock of Cockatrices instead.
The people of this world are experiencing a changed future due to the countless butterfly effects I've caused…
I think I bear some responsibility.
And right now, we are in a position to help.
'I'll seize this opportunity to earn some reputation points for sure.' I swallowed that selfish thought.
There's no point in letting it show.
Eshild, Max, and Travis hastily readied themselves.
In the meantime, I observed Siena.
She was still looking at me with a faint smile.
For some reason, it gave me chills.
Damn, I really shouldn't get involved with her.
However, my sense of responsibility won.
“Can you find another team for us?” “Hehe, of course.
I've been waiting for you to ask.” Siena smiled sweetly.
“Wait a moment, Theo.” She closed her eyes for a moment and then spoke.
“There's another team in this direction, about 1 km away.
A human woman using a bow…” That must be Aisha.
Since we entered the same dungeon, I was sure of it.
“Thanks.” I spoke to the unhappy Trio.
“It looks like we're ready, let's get going.”

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