Milkit’s voice was empty. Her master’s flesh had been torn apart by the wind magic, her body parts scattered and falling to the earth. Both arms, both legs, head, and torso: a total of six parts sank into the soft ground, blood soaking the leaves.
“Ah… oh, oh, oh!”
So much, so much – Milkit couldn’t move her legs as the feeling of hopelessness dominated her body. The Anzu snorted with satisfaction as it turned its black eyes toward her, the remaining survivor. Its mouth distorted as though it were laughing at her. She could see the wrinkles forming on its cheeks and the blood on its fangs from the werewolves it had eaten. It was like it was declaring “I will kill you next.”
Milkit was frozen.
The idea of death did not bother her. Even her own death was fine. Living was much scarier.
But now she saw sharp claws, pointed fangs, and powerful magic that easily dismembered a human body all attached to a monster over four meters long. None of these weapons were something Milkit could resist. In the face of such an overwhelming power difference, any human would feel instinctive terror.
Milkit’s legs and feet were shaking uncontrollably. She didn’t exactly feel like she wanted to live, but she wanted very badly to run away.
The Anzu roared and clawed at the ground with its forepaws before leaping at its prey. Milkit crouched down reflexively while wrapping her arms around her head at the sight of such an enormous monster approaching so quickly. The monster passed by and landed on her other side.
Milkit’s heart began to pound. She didn’t believe that she would be able to run away, but if she tried she would at least have a chance. Her feet sank into the muddy ground as she ran forward. To anyone watching her escape, the Anzu obviously had room to spare. Just jumping once would easily shorten the distance.
Milkit panted as she ran. She was not accustomed to running, but it was too late for anything but regrets. The Anzu watching her came to one conclusion: she was nothing but a toy.
So the monster began to play.
It jumped at her, aiming to pass close but not hit her directly. It enjoyed the sight as she rolled around on the ground. It tore at her clothes lightly with its claw, amused by how her voice cried out in terror. It opened its mouth and roared at her, pleased by how she flinched away.
However, Milkit’s body was fragile. In the face of such extreme stress, her physical strength was soon exhausted. Bored by her fading reaction, the Anzu prepared to bring the game to its inevitable conclusion. It gathered its energy more seriously, preparing for the lethal attack.
“It hurts, but…”
The voice came from behind the Anzu as something grabbed its tail.
“Should I say that epic equipment is amazing? Or should I cry that I can suffer so much without dying?”
Although she was complaining, she also tightened her grip. The tail was a sensitive part of a monster. The Anzu wrinkled its brow as it looked back over its shoulder.
“So, you attack people like this… whose slave do you think you’re playing with?”
Flamm swung her oversized sword with one hand and cut off the Anzu’s tail.
The monster howled and jumped away. It fell over in shock at the pain it had suffered. Flamm raised the sword higher, grimacing due to the pain from her not-fully-repaired shoulders, and slashed at the monster’s hind leg.
Once more the Anzu cried out as the sword pierced its skin. The wound this time opened up and began to bleed as the Anzu rolled away into the trees.
“Hurts, doesn’t it? You hurt me a lot more than that when you cut my body to pieces! Although it’s healing, it still hurts an awful lot.”
Flamm knew the monster couldn’t understand her, but she couldn’t help but complain. The pain was so strong.
When she was hit by wind magic and her body cut in pieces, she couldn’t do anything but wait to die. As the blood flowed, her consciousness faded, and the cold creeped in, she could only cling to the hope that Milkit would escape.
Strangely, the flow of blood stopped after a while, and she started to feel as if the divided parts of her body were connected by magical power. An invisible force attracted and attached each part together and then her wounds began to heal. While it took a while to regenerate, she was still alive, just like when she had been bitten by the ghoul. Flamm was starting to think that she couldn’t die unless her head was crushed, causing an immediate death.
The Anzu got up and faced Flamm. Its movements were clumsier than before. The fur of its back leg was matted down with blood from the cut Flamm had made. Even a big monster could be injured by such an attack from the Zwei Hander.
“Master, I’m glad you are okay… thank goodness,” Milkit said, holding her chest in relief. She was on the other side of the monster from Flamm.
Flamm was also relieved that Milkit was still alive.
“Milkit, run away now!”
“Okay! Please don’t do anything reckless!”
Milkit ran back to the road to the capital as fast as she could. With that, Flamm could focus on the battle ahead with one less worry on her mind.
“With an opponent like this, just standing here is reckless,” Flamm said, a bitter smile on her face.
The Anzu focused entirely on Flamm. It didn’t even look at Milkit as she ran away.
“It should be slowed by the leg injury,” Flamm said, thinking out loud. “Though it has claws and fangs, and I have to be careful of its magic… I should be able to win.”
Of course, she had no real basis for her conclusion.
Now that the monster was aware of her, Flamm fought with caution. She circled around it, trying several times to strike at the Anzu’s front legs. It moved to the side and continued to face her while avoiding her attacks. Neither one of them was eager to close the distance. Even though Flamm couldn’t land another hit, the blood was still flowing from the wound to its back leg. The longer the fight went on, the better, as far as she was concerned.
The Anzu acted to break the stalemate. With a flutter of wings, it took to the sky.
Flamm was surprised. She had expected the Anzu to charge forward, not up.
The Anzu’s wings didn’t allow it to fly over long distances. However, they were powerful enough for it to glide and to assist it in jumping.
The Anzu was able to get high enough that Flamm couldn’t track its position through the leaves overhead. Meanwhile, the Anzu carefully confirmed its target and took aim, using its wings to adjust its direction. Once its preparation was over, it dove straight at her. Flamm heard its approach as it closed in and jumped out of the way.
The Anzu landed with a crash.
The ground shook with the impact. Leaves fluttered down from nearby trees. A crater formed in the ground around it.
But none of that mattered if it didn’t hit her. Flamm, having moved some distance from its landing point, prepared to slash at the monster while it was overextended.
Before she could act, a gust of wind rushed forward. The previous attack wasn’t just a strike from above. The Anzu had also prepared a magical follow-up. This time it wasn’t a sharp wind blade but a simple blast of wind with the force of a storm behind it.
“I knew I had to watch out for magic… Yikes!”
Flamm was able to resist the wind for a moment, but in the end she was blown away. Despite being strong, she was still a beginner at battle. She had no ingrained fighting instinct. Not only was there a gap of power between her and the Anzu, she was also an amateur.
Flamm cried out involuntarily as her back slammed into a tree. There was a feeling of pain as if her spine had broken, but by the time her body slid down the tree to fall to the ground she was completely healed. From where she was laying she could see the blurry sight of the Anzu’s claws slashing forward.
She used her arms to help herself up and quickly jumped out of the way. She could feel the shockwaves as the Anzu crashed into the tree behind her. She felt sick at the thought of taking that attack head on.
Flamm landed on her feet and noticed that her sword was no longer in her hand. It seemed she dropped it when she was blown off her feet. However, when she looked, it wasn’t anywhere on the forest floor, and the emblem was back on her palm. Flamm focused and called the sword. It immediately appeared in her hand once more.
“Huh, as expected from epic equipment.”
Flamm grasped the sword with both hands and faced the Anzu. The monster picked itself up and glared at her. She reminded herself again to be careful of its magic. The Anzu had already shown more ways of fighting than she had expected. It was dangerous from long distance and short distance. It was probably impossible for someone like her to fight it and survive intact.
In other words, the only way that an amateur like Flamm could fight it…
“My strength is this absurd healing, right?”
She wasn’t used to the pain of cuts and broken bones, but it was just too overwhelming of an advantage for any wounds short of immediate death to heal. Using that, she could fight the Anzu.
“I really hate pain, but, well,” Flamm said, “if I die, Milkit will probably also die. If I think of it like that, I can feel that heroic desire within me to do my best.”
Flamm focused her thoughts on the figure running through the forest in search of an exit. She felt her own resolve start to take shape. She remembered the warmth when they were holding hands. She could feel her courage solidifying. In the end, Flamm’s heroic desire was somewhat simple. For the girl she just met today, she would bet her life.
“Well, let’s go, I’m going to be a hero!” Flamm said, somewhat cynically, before charging directly at the Anzu.
The large sword, held low, brushed the ground. The Anzu, knowing it was more powerful, didn’t try to avoid her. Instead it took up the challenge and stood strong. One step, two steps, three steps – collision.
As it drew close, the Anzu swiped its claws down at Flamm’s head. She ducked her body to the right so that the claws gouged her left shoulder instead. More pieces of meat were scattered around the clearing, and Flamm could feel burning heat in the exposed bones that her brain didn’t yet recognize as pain. At the same time, Flamm kept moving forward and slashed at the Anzu’s body as she passed it by.
Both of them cried out in pain.
The overall damage done by each side was comparable. However, Flamm’s wounds would heal in a few seconds while the Anzu’s would remain.
Flamm slid to a stop on the fallen leaves. She quickly spun around to face the monster once more.
Despite being in pain the Anzu’s wing began to flutter in a way that gave Flamm an ominous feeling. At that moment, she could feel that the Anzu was preparing its trump card: the wind magic that had carved Flamm into pieces earlier.
Flamm felt a chill run down her spine as she remembered the pain of her body being chopped apart. She couldn’t repress a shudder. Fortunately, it seemed the Anzu’s concentration was disturbed by its wounds, as it was not invoking the magic as smoothly as it did the first time.
Still, it would be difficult to disturb the invocation from a distance. On the other hand, if she got close and tried to go toe to toe with the Anzu’s teeth and claws, she could easily suffer a fatal injury.
If she couldn’t stop the magic from being cast, could she avoid the invisible blades that would surely target her head? Difficult. Very difficult. Not impossible, but impossible to be sure. Unfortunately, Flamm has no long-ranged weapon.
Was there no way to attack the monster from there? As she looked around and thought, all she could see was the trees growing high in the sky.
She didn’t have time to think about success or failure. She spun and swung the Zwei Hander with all her might against the trunk of a tree.
A crashing noise echoed through the forest. There was considerable resistance, but she still did enough damage to cause the tree to fall. However, it was about to fall in the wrong direction.
This time she shouts as she swings with the flat of the sword. Again, and again. Full swings with both hands. Under the impact of her unrelenting strikes the direction of the tree’s fall was diverted towards the Anzu.
The magic was on the verge of release. The Anzu, distracted by magic, did not realize the tree was falling towards it until just before impact. It landed across its back, forcing its legs to bend until its belly touched the ground. The Anzu was pinned in place. Such a strong monster, though, would eventually escape even from that if given enough time.
Flamm did not intend to allow it that much time.
“I got it!”
Flamm dashed forward at full speed. She leaped in the air as she approached the Anzu. Holding her sword before her in both hands, she thrust it down into the monster’s forehead with all her strength.
The blade penetrated the skull with a crack and a wet slurping noise. She could still hear the monster moaning. It wasn’t dead yet. Flamm added force with both arms and pushed until the blade had sunk in all the way to the hilt.
With a great groan, magic power began to come out from the Anzu’s paws. Its whole body trembled. Flamm jumped back in fright. As she watched, the monster finally went limp. The last gasp of magic did nothing more than stir up the fallen leaves.
Flamm took a few deep breaths, her shoulders heaving up and down as she stared at the corpse.
“Ah, geez… that was way too hard for the first time.”
The monster was completely dead. Once Flamm was convinced, all the power drained from her body. She spread her hands and fell forward in what was almost a mockery of the Anzu’s posture, then rolled onto her back.
Flamm sighed. The bed made of leaves was proving surprisingly comfortable. It was slightly damp and cold and she could feel her clothes getting wet, but that was no particular problem since she was already covered in sweat and blood.
Looking up through the gaps in the trees, she could see a slightly orange sky. She could almost hear it telling her that she needs to hurry home before dark.
“Even the sky is bullying me,” she complained to no one in particular.
The wounds she took during the battle had healed so cleanly that no marks remained, but she still hurt. There was nothing she could do about the phantom pain but suffer through it. It felt like little sparks were shooting up and down her body.
“I have to fight against monsters like that, the people at the guild are bastards… what’s going to happen next?”
Flamm felt swirling insecurity. Part of her didn’t want to return to the kingdom. But just as she was thinking of running away she pictured Milkit, waiting for the return of her master at the entrance of the forest. Imagining her lonely figure motivated Flamm a little, at least enough to sit up.
“Well, Dain, how do you like me now?”
Never mind a werewolf, if he knew she had defeated a C ranked Anzu, he might faint. Flamm pushed herself to her feet, imagining the look of shock on his face.
TN: Epic equipment OP, plz nerf. Although, to be fair, the body melting was the most dramatic part of the curse so it makes sense for healing to be the most dramatic part of the blessing.