168. Lightning Rush
Fran flew; the attack that followed Rumina’s shout launched her a whole 30 meters. Her body sank into and shattered the wall despite it looking like it was made of a rather tough material.
Holy fuck! The hell just happened!? The attack was so quick that I couldn’t see shit!
I had no idea exactly how it all happened, but Rumina was now standing exactly where Fran had been just a moment ago. We, on the other hand, had been sent flying. I mean, I did feel like we’d gotten hit by something, but I wasn’t able to tell what that something had been.
Only a few moments after receiving the attack did I finally begin to process any information pertinent to it. The attack’s name, the fact that I’d felt a slight shock right as Rumina collided with us, and the smoking burn mark on Fran’s chest all pointed towards the fact that she’d attacked us with something based in the lightning element.
『Fran! You okay?』
Fran coughed up a wad of blood as if to evidence that her internals had suffered a good bit of damage. Luckily, it looked like she was still alive and kicking regardless.
Rumina really had followed through with her declaration. She’d inflicted a pretty major injury, but Fran had managed to live through it. It seemed that she’d only used this attack because she’d become convinced of the fact that Fran would be able to tank it.
「Are you alright? I accidentally put a slight excess of force into the attack as it has been far too long since I have had the chance to enjoy a battle like this one.」
Though it looked like she messed up a bit.
「I had only intended on blowing you aback.」
Rumina hurried over and used a potion on Fran.
Man, just what the hell was that Lightning Rush thing anyways? It was so damn fast that I honestly couldn’t tell.
That, however, didn’t mean I didn’t have any idea as to its identity. The term Innate Skill floated through my mind despite the fact that I had no confirmation as to whether or not she’d even used a skill in the first place. Rumina’s words had mentioned that she wanted to show Fran what was to come, that she would show her a Black Tigerkin’s power. In other words, the attack she just showcased would logically be a skill innate to Black Tigerkin.
Though I hadn’t been able to observe it, I had at least learned that the epitome of strength still lay far beyond.
「It is regrettable, but I must not keep you in a pen with me in perpetuity.」
Rumina spoke to Fran, whose wounds had been healed, in a tone filled with lament.
The younger Black Catkin seemed to feel the same, as her gaze was cast downwards in loneliness. However, her feelings were only second to her goal. It was mission critical for her to go back out into the world so she could find out more about evolution. We were still betting on us being able to get a few hints from Aurel seeing as how he’d gone out of his way to ask us to do this and everything.
I mean, I didn’t think him sending us here was just a coincidence, as he knew Rumina. He himself had evolved as well, so I figured there was no way he didn’t know she herself was someone that’d evolved. He also knew that Fran was a Black Catkin. Throw in all those factors, and you have for yourself something that could only possibly be some sort of setup.
In fact, it almost felt like he’d only acted in order to acquaint Fran and Rumina with one another. It would only make sense for him to know something about the Black Cat Tribe’s evolution, or at least something that’d be of help to us.
「The teleportation device left in the boss room has yet to deactivate. Entering it will allow you to return to the dungeon entrance.」
「Can meet again in future…?」
「Hahaha. That, I would enjoy. I shall arrange it so that you will have the opportunity to visit me simply by visiting the boss room. 」
「Nn. Got it.」
Rumina ruffled Fran’s hair, which caused the younger girl’s eyes to narrow and ears to twitch in delight.
『You sure you’re all set?』
The two stalled for about 10 or so minutes because they were rather reluctant to part. I myself thought it’d be fine for the two to enjoy a bit more time together, but Fran herself had decided it was time to go. She said goodbye to Rumina and started walking back towards the boss room.
Fran turned back several times, but eventually managed to get herself to leave, albeit whilst looking back in Rumina’s direction.
「A path to your goal most definitely exists. ‘Tis narrow and full of obstacles, but it is not one you will be unable to traverse so long as you persevere.」
Rumina gave her one last shout of encouragement as the the teleportation circle’s light enveloped us and brought us back up to the surface.
The dungeon’s entrance looked just the same that it had a few days ago.
『I guess we might as well go hit up Aurel and tell him we’re done.』
We tried to leave the fortress that surrounded the place in order to make our way over to Aurel’s mansion, but we weren’t able to as we were almost immediately swarmed by the guards and adventurers in the area.
Apparently the adventurers standing right outside the dungeon had noticed that we teleported in, and immediately started spreading the news.
「Damn! Looks like she’s back in one piece.」
「You just teleported, right? Doesn’t that mean you beat the boss?」
「Really gotta give it to her. That’s the girl subjugated those dirty thieves for you.」
「You planning to stay solo? Cause my party would be glad to have ya.」
「She’d be much more at home in our party. We’ve got way more girls than you guys.」
Holy crap. Everyone was acting like they loved us.
It seemed that beating the boss, and by extension, teleporting back to town, was a status symbol of sorts, an act that earned the respect of Ulmutt’s adventurers. This held especially true if the dungeon in question was the eastern one, seeing as how it was the more difficult of the two.
The fact that she was young and entirely solo, Urushi aside, only made her achievement shine all the more.
All ten or so of the adventurers bombarded us with their questions and comments. The answers she gave them caused their eyes to sparkle as they raised their voices in wonder. Even hardened veterans far older than herself were looking at her with admiration. I thought it to be a rather funny sight, but Fran seemed happy, so all was good.
「You charged into a horde of High Ogres all by yourself?」
「Wow, I can’t believe you actually managed to disarm that trap!」
「What was the boss like?」
A certain blob of muscle raced over and liberated Fran from the onslaught shortly after it started.
「Mmkay everyone, that’ll be it for questions.」
「It’s been so long since I last saw you! I was so worried cause you never came back out of the dungeon.」
「Nn. Was training.」
「I know, but I just couldn’t help but be worried.」
Erza’s eyes dampened as he twisted his body back and forth on the spot. It looked like he really was worried about her. I mean, I was grateful that he was, but I honestly couldn’t stand how uncute his actions were.
「And I’m sure you’re just exhausted from the boss fight, mh,m. This dungeon’s really well known for how it likes to throw bosses that scale with you and work against your weaknesses. You’re really strong Fran, so I’m sure you would’ve gotten a magic beast whose threat level was at least a C.」
「Nn. Got one.」
「Weally? Are you okay? You’re not hurt, right?」
「Already? So you really did get hurt? Waaaaow, I really should’ve come with you. Everything would’ve been totally A-Ok.」
「But then not good for training.」
「Mhmm. That’s true. You know, I really love how stoic you are Fran. It’s so adorbs. Being able to beat a C ranked threat with just you and your puppers means you’re reallllly strong too.」
Wait, why’s Erza here anyways? Is this just a coincidence, or?
「Hey sis, Erza, weren’t you here because you had something you wanted to talk about?」
「Ah, right! Yeah, I did!」
Apparently it wasn’t any sort of coincidence, as one of the guards that’d promptly called out to the buff dude had also stated that he had actually asked to be notified when Fran appeared back in town. Said guard also reminded him that he apparently did have some sort of business.
「Whoopsie daisy. Sorry, I almost forgot. I was just super excited because I hadn’t seen Fran in so long.」
Oh god why. Please, no. Please never stick your tongue out and wink at the same time ever again.
I mean, I knew Erza was actually a pretty good guy, but that’s just gross.
「Mhm! But it’s not something we can talk about out in the open, so let’s head back to the guild first.」
「But need to tell Aurel quest clear.」
『We can have the Guildmaster just send him a message or something, so there shouldn’t be any issue with us heading there first.』
「Nn? On second thought, will go to guild first.」
「Is that really okay? Are you sure you don’t need to talk to the old man first?」
And so, we had Erza lead us back to the guild.