Kei was quick to move. He cursed, “God damn it!” while kicking the camp fire wood. The fire scattered and went out, covering the area in darkness.
He quickly grabbed Aileen and nimbly carried her, practically tumbling behind the rock. It was the so-called ‘Princess Carry’. However, this heroine lost her romantic appeal due to the arrow stuck in her chest. The petite girl, snugly held in his arms, was surprisingly light.
“Get it together,” Kei told her quietly.
But she couldn’t answer. Her face was distorted with pain and she breathed in short, shallow breaths.
—We were careless, he thought in disgust as he clenched his teeth.
It was a new moon, only the faint light of the stars shone upon the grassy plains. The light from their fire would certainly stick out, even from a long distance.
Even in the game we needed to remain vigilant…!
NPC thieves, monsters that were unafraid of fire, even PKers. Carelessly standing out at night, especially with only a small party, was dangerous even in the game. The same was true especially if this was a parallel world.
If we had at least not kept our backs exposed, Kei cursed his carelessness.
Aileen’s 『Enhanced Vision』wasn’t as good as Kei’s crest-engraved eyes in the dark. Therefore, her ‘Passive Sense’ couldn’t optimally activate.
He had the highest level of vision, being a long-distance archer. Combined with his sensitivity to bloodlust, he should have been the one to keep watch.
Kei had also panicked about the day’s events. They completely forgot the idea of keeping watch.
“Ugh… Ke…i…” Aileen groaned, her forehead damp with sweat.
Everything swirling around in his head suddenly stopped. He changed gears and thought, Well, what do I do now? There isn’t much time.
Kei popped his head out from behind the rock and looked over the area. Without the light of the fire, it was nearly pitch black. However, with his vision, his eyes quickly adapted to the darkness.
Three, five, no—six people that I can see.
Camouflaged with grass, the shadows of people wriggled. Taking the rock’s blind spots into account, Kei estimated two or three more waited in ambush. They were completely surrounded.
Who the assailant was didn’t matter in this situation. What was important was their intellect to maintain archers and surround them.
“……Ｏй……Пｏчｅ……ｙ,” Aileen quietly muttered something seemingly incoherent while slightly trembling. Kei had trouble hearing it, and didn’t understand the meaning. Her gaze was distant and unfocused. It was hard to see her pupils, but her face was pale.
“Don’t speak, just stay still,” Kei whispered into her ear while trying to think of what to do next. It didn’t take long to decide. “Mikazuki, Sasuke, come.”
Mikazuki answered with a, “Bururu.”
Quickly, but careful not to touch Aileen’s wound, Kei straddled Mikazuki. “Aileen, this will hurt a little, but please bear with it.”
Perhaps she caught his words. She muttered something quietly and faintly nodded.
“Here we go!” Kei spurred on Mikazuki.
Sure enough, the dark brown horse cantered forward without as much as a whinny.
“They’re on a horse!”
“They’re getting away!”
The hidden assailants stood up after seeing Kei and Aileen burst out from behind the rock.
Their bow strings made a twang and sent arrows whistling through the air. Kei’s face stiffened, but it seemed like they weren’t going to be hit. The bloodlust felt as if it were aimed in an entirely different direction. He let his tense shoulders relax a little.
Turning around, he saw the leather-clad men flail their weapons in an uproar. Another arrow was shot at them, but the archer probably couldn’t see them well since it missed by a few meters. Out of the remaining men, Kei couldn’t spot a single one riding a horse.
–They managed to easily escape.
Kei checked to make sure.
Naturally, Aileen’s treatment should have come before running away.
From what he could see, the arrow in her chest barely missed a group of arteries. Depending on the tip, it may still have damaged some veins though.
At the very least, she had a ruptured lung. She’d have trouble breathing if this kept up. Also, holding her while being jolted on top of a horse certainly couldn’t be good for her.
But being surrounded by the enemy made treating her rather difficult.
Of course, if they used a potion, then the wound may have healed completely then and there. But when he thought about the pain she went through when healing the cut on her palm… It would most likely not show immediate effects on a wound this serious, either. In the worst case, she could pass out from the pain.
During recovery Aileen would be completely defenseless. Even after—if she fainted, then he would have to fight while protecting her. Taking all that in to consideration, he was left with only the safest option—escape.
Before setting up camp, Kei climbed up the rocky mountain to survey the geography. If they continued west as they were, they would run into the woods.
It wasn’t exactly safe; he didn’t know what kinds of monsters could be lurking there. But at the least, it would be difficult for anybody to pursue them.
He would heal Aileen in the woods, and then they could continue to flee. Or, depending on her condition, he could have her ride Sasuke while he turned back and attacked them alone—
A beast’s cries from behind interrupted Kei’s train of thought.
He turned around. Low to the ground three large black shadows ran toward them.
They had black, unkempt fur and sharp, pointed ears. Even with only the starlight, their eyes glowed eerily. The leather collars they wore around their necks showed that they weren’t wild, but were owned by a person.
Hound Wolf, otherwise known as, ‘Black Siccer’.
In the game, they were an offensive type of pet and were extremely popular. The hardest part of taming one was stripping it of its brutal nature. Once tamed, they would carry out any order in any situation with complete loyalty.
They were far more nimble than their large stature would suggest, were quick witted, had unparalleled stamina and high attack power. And above all else, they had a frightening tracking ability.
The wolves used their sense of smell to obstinately chase down their prey wherever they went. Even after galloping throughout the night on horseback, it was possible for the wolves to catch up in approximately thirty minutes.
Even if they were to run to the ends of the earth, their ‘scent’ would still linger for the wolves to follow.
There were only two ways that the Hound Wolves would stop their pursuit. If the owner called them off with a whistle, or when they took down and killed their prey.
They could even be called the Forerunners of Death—and three of them were chasing Kei and Aileen.
“…This isn’t good.”
The wolves ran like they were a pack, driving on together. Surprise flooded Kei’s face. Until just a moment ago, they had an easy-going flight. But now, it had changed completely into a difficult situation. Even Sasuke, running behind Mikazuki, showed signs of panic.
For a horseback archer like Kei, Hound Wolves weren’t such a frightening foe. In a confrontation with Kei’s infallible marksmanship and his top-of-the-line horse, Mikazuki, an enemy who only had speed wasn’t good enough. Their larger bodies made them easier to take down than a rabbit in the grassy plains. At least, that’s how it would be in a normal situation.
But now, he was holding Aileen and couldn’t use his bow.
He couldn’t use his bow.
…We’re in trouble, thought Kei as sweat dampened his brow.
To Kei, who mainly used a bow from horseback, having that taken away from him was an unforeseen situation.
For argument’s sake, if it had been a game then Kei would have immediately dropped and left Aileen.
She could possibly die from the impact of hitting the ground, or could be devoured by the Hound Wolves. However, in that short moment Kei would’ve been able to use his bow to kill off the wolves.
Afterward, everything would be fine because he would collect the loot, including Aileen’s, and have her respawn at her base. That way they could avoid losing any items and minimize the death penalty.
In short, inside the game, if victory was assured then there would be no merit to keeping his offensive abilities inhibited.
However, when it came to reality—
I suppose I can’t just drop her and go.
In Kei’s arms, Aileen grimaced as if trying to deal with the jolting from the horse.
Abandoning such a fragile girl would be no more than an act of savagery. Even if he was ordered to, he wouldn’t be able to do it.
If this were『Demondal』then even reviving would be possible, but…
As long as the possibility existed that this was a world that just looked like the game, he couldn’t be too rash.
It was too dangerous to be thrown onto the stage with no practice.
“Awoo, ohn!” a wolf howled. The hound wolves slowly caught up as he was thinking.
The black-furred pursuers ran full speed and easily passed Mikazuki with their lightning speed.
It was unfortunate, but even as the horse with the highest level in stamina and speed in the game, prided for its excellent long-distance performance, Mikazuki was weak to this type of foe. Mikazuki was not the powerful kind, but rather the fast kind. Having even just one more person like Aileen on the horse dropped the maximum travel distance sharply.
“Hey, Mikazuki, step on it! I know you’re faster than this!!”
Mikazuki glanced at Kei as if saying, don’t ask for the impossible. Even so, he ran hard.
While his muscles weren’t too dense and he didn’t appear to be, he was actually pretty heavy. Overloading Mikazuki with another rider was what caused this sticky situation.
…Looks like we won’t be able to just run away.
He knew it, but he thought it over again as he stared into the distance. Aileen’s throwing knife pouch came into his view momentarily. Sadly, Kei was no good with throwing knives. Honestly, he had never tried it seriously.
Thoughts like, if I had known it would come to this then I would’ve practiced seriously, crowded his mind. But it was too late for regrets.
Life is about playing the hand you’re dealt, huh.
He reached into the pouch slung at his waist and pulled out a smooth and round lead ball about the size of a quail egg. It was a pebble.
It was something he carried with him as a personal protection charm. Its effects on the thick-furred wolves would be limited, but still better than nothing.
“If it could at least trip them up…”
Kei decided to aim for the Hound Wolf to his right.
Mikazuki sensed what Kei was doing from the movement in the stirrups and turned his head sideways and turned on a dime.
The rapidly approaching wolves ran low to the ground in preparation to pounce. Just as they put power into their hind legs to attack Mikazuki, Kei threw something down from his right hand.
Kei moved nimbly as he threw various pebbles from point blank range with his above average strength.
The wolves weren’t even given the time to react, the power hidden in the pebbles blew up in their faces.
“Gyan!” The Hound Wolf yelped and tripped from the strong attack.
It lay on the ground, writhing and covering its nose as it shrank away into the distance.
After defeating the lead runner, Kei relaxed a little. But, “Bururu,” Mikazuki warned him.
On the left was a wolf already at point-blank range preparing itself to pounce.
He determined that taking out another pebble would take too long, so he reached for the short sword on his hip.
The Hound Wolf kicked off the ground the same moment that Kei drew his sword.
However keen and nimble a wolf it was, once airborne it couldn’t change its body position. Kei stabbed directly at the scruff of its neck.
He felt his short sword cut through the flesh and all the way to the bone. A wet cough escaped from the wolf’s throat. However, the Hound Wolf didn’t falter; it opened its mouth wide and twisted its head to go for Kei’s right arm.
Its tenacity and willpower surprised Kei to the point of dropping his sword.
The Hound Wolf with its throat cut failed to bite its target, and died just like that in the grass.
“Only one more to go…!”
He looked at the last, oncoming Hound Wolf, and rummaged around his pouch.
Two pebbles left.
He held one in his right hand. He carefully aimed at the wolf.
“Grrr…” It growled as if on guard. The wolf lowered its body closer to the ground, and bit by bit it changed its course, trying to toy with Kei. It knew he held something dangerous.
Kei thought to himself that the beast in front of him was truly intelligent, but while he admired it, he was also a bit annoyed.
“Just like the game, as long as I calmly let it come at me it should be okay…!” He spat out and glared at the black beast.
Kei filled his body with strength and used the strongest killing intent he could. His bloodlust gave off such a dense pressure that it could even be felt physically. It made all the fur on the Hound Wolf stand on end.
It unknowingly began to tremble, and for just a moment, it froze up.
At just that moment, Kei’s right arm became a blur.
The lead pebble whistled through the air. He threw it with all his strength; a guaranteed kill shot.
Luckily for the wolf (not so much for Kei), he messed up his aim.
The pebble was slightly off of its brow, where Kei aimed. Instead, it barely clipped the hound’s ear before hitting it in the back.
The pebble went through the pelt and hit hide. It sounded painful. But, to the Hound Wolf this amount of pain was nothing more than being rubbed the wrong way.
Shrugging off Kei’s earlier frightening presence, the wolf bared its fangs and barked viciously while charging towards Kei.
“So ‘Offensive Sense’ doesn’t work well…”
He sighed, if only I were more used to thrown weapons…
The wolf’s eyes became bloodshot after the pebble missed. It rushed right in front of Kei, but even then Kei was calm.
It was all coming to an end anyhow.
The wolf focused all of its attention on Kei, forgetting the other one only until the dark brown hair came into its peripheral vision.
From behind the wolf, Sasuke came fiercely charging in.
Involuntarily, the Hound Wolf was taken aback in surprise. Sasuke used his right fore-hoof and mercilessly kicked its defenseless flank.
It sounded like the ground being torn. The black wolf’s stomach was ripped to shreds.
The wolf spat up blood and stumbled to a halt, where Sasuke kicked with both rear legs. Bits and pieces of entrails scattered and flew.
Hearing Kei’s joyous voice, Sasuke wore a proud expression as if saying, haha, aren’t I strong? Sharp, hardened bone was hidden; folded under the heel portion of his hooves.
He was a Bowser Horse.
They had the highest performance abilities of all horse type mounts, but strictly speaking, they weren’t horses.
Camouflaged as high level horses, they were ferocious omnivorous monsters.
Taming one was considered to be even more difficult than taming a Hound Wolf. Even once successfully tamed, they required proper care.
“…You did well too, Mikazuki. Thank you.”
Kei patted his neck as thanks. A reply was unnecessary, but Mikazuki seemed to try to. He glanced up at Kei and whinnied.
If the horses weren’t shown gratitude, it would ruin their moods and they’d become as stubborn as donkeys. That was how the AI was in the game, so it should be similar in this world.
I need to buy some carrots once we get to town… No, I worked Mikazuki hard, I should get some meat…
Kei thought to himself as a grove of trees came into view in front of them.
Well, tending to Aileen comes first, I suppose…
Thinking about it made him depressed.
He anxiously rode Mikazuki into the dark grove.
† † †
Inside the grove, it was nearly pitch black. The overgrown leaves overhead blocked out the starlight.
Mikazuki had the vision enhancing crest just like Kei, but Sasuke did not, so he had a hard time walking. Kei had to lead him by the reins.
“…Now then, I guess this is good.”
He stopped Mikazuki about 100 meters in. There were absolutely no living creatures in sight. Mikazuki was calm, so that meant there were no enemies, even above them.
“Hey, Aileen. Can you hear me?” Kei asked as he wiped the sweat off her brow.
“где…кто…?” Aileen muttered quietly, as if she were plagued by a nightmare. Kei couldn’t understand what she was saying, as it was entirely in Russian.
Holding Aileen, he slowly dismounted. He took off his cloak and laid it over the dead and decaying leaves, then laid down Aileen.
“Okay. Mikazuki, Sasuke, you’re on guard duty.”
Mikazuki replied with a snort, and Sasuke began wandering and looking around with a smart expression. Even though he most likely only saw darkness.
Kei lightly washed his hands with water from the canteen and inspected Aileen’s wound.
Her black clothes got in the way, so he went to pull out his short sword to cut it, but nothing was in the scabbard. Then he remembered, he’d just parted with it during the fight with the Hound Wolves.
“Aileen, I’m going to be borrowing your knife.”
He pulled out a throwing knife and cut the cloth at her chest.
As one would expect, he didn’t feel any ulterior motives even while looking at a cute girl’s chest when there was an arrow sprouting from it.
“…Just two centimeters higher and this would’ve hit her right subclavian artery.”
The arrow was stuck snugly between her rib bones. Judging from the wound, the arrow wasn’t a broadhead nor barbed. Kei determined that it was a simple blunt tip, or at least similar in shape. Therefore, pulling out the arrow most likely wouldn’t make the wound bigger.
Kei wanted to tend the wound immediately, but before pulling it out he thought that Aileen should heal a little first. “Aileen. Can you hear me? Can you drink a potion?”
He repeated it in her ear, but that didn’t elicit a good response either. Aileen had been quietly murmuring to herself ever since earlier, but through her hoarse voice it sounded like it was Russian.
With no other choice left, he would have to slowly dribble it into her mouth, but she spoke, “…не вкусно…” Most of the liquid spilled over her lips as her expression turned into a grimace. He still had no clue what she was saying, but it was probably ‘Yuck’. At any rate, as long as she was out of it, they wouldn’t be able to communicate properly.
…But if I think about it, isn’t this actually a good chance?
With the potion in hand, he reconsidered.
Extreme pain could possibly accompany the healing from potions.
Just by healing a cut on her palm, Aileen was coated in cold sweat. And now, pulling an arrow out of her chest and closing up the wound—he didn’t even want to think about how painful it would be.
He thought about it briefly before deciding. “…I guess it would be best to hurry and get it done while she’s still out of it…?” He nodded once to himself and then removed his gauntlet and rolled up his sleeve.
Just in case, he placed several ready to use potions at his knees. Kei exhaled and gripped the arrow.
He had pulled out countless arrows in the game, but the pressure was different in reality. Holding the wound with his left hand, he felt her heart beating.
Kei took a deep breath, “Let’s do this.”
Preparing himself for the worst, he took care not to open the wound further and then, to minimize the pain, he boldly pulled the arrow out in one swift motion.
“Nngh…!?” Aileen grimaced in pain and twisted her body while groaning. Black-ish blood came spilling from the wound. It was venous blood. No arteries were hit.
“Now then, don’t blame me for this, Aileen…”
Muttering that it was for her sake, Kei tipped one of the potions over the wound.
The viscous light blue liquid trickled down and touched the wound.
It sounded like the sizzling of meat on a grill. Aileen snapped her eyes open, “Gii—!!!”
As she shrieked he pinned her down while she began to violently struggle and continued to trickle the potion on her wound. Not using enough of the potion and leaving the wound only half healed would be the worst outcome in this case.
It may have been due to the pain, but Aileen tried to push away Kei’s arms with a surprising amount of strength for such a small body. Her shrieks then sounded like the howl of a beast, completely unlike a young girl.
“Sorry, Aileen, calm down! Forgive me!”
The light blue liquid suspiciously inched its way to the wound as if it was a worm and had its own will. It sounded eerily like a pot of boiling water.
Before long, her violent struggle became small spasms and her eyes rolled back into her head, exposing only the whites of her eyes.
Occasionally, she coughed violently, spitting up a reddish brown mass each time. Then almost at the end, some strange steam or vapor came out of her nose and mouth and began to rise. Perhaps the potion had fully volatized.
At the very end, when she settled down, foam started to come out of her mouth. Like the potion, the foam was a faint light blue.
Kei forgot to breathe and drew away from the pitiful scene for a little, but then, concerned, he took Aileen’s pulse.
“…Thank god. She’s alive.”
She continued to foam as she twitched, so it should have been obvious that she was still alive. However, after checking her pulse himself he sighed in relief.
Next, he checked the wound. Just like with her palm, there was a white scar left behind, but the wound itself was completely closed.
He put his ear on her chest and checked her breathing as well. It was a bit fast, but he only heard well-regulated heart beats and nothing to indicate any abnormalities with her respiratory system.
“Safe for now, huh…”
No matter how much time passed, her eyes still remained white which creeped him out, so he closed her eyelids.
“…I’ll have to be careful to not get seriously hurt.” Kei muttered, “Otherwise I’d end up just like this.”
“Bururu.” Mikazuki clearly agreed with a quiet snort.
“…Hm?” Kei raised his head and looked into the distance.
It had been nearly pitch black in the grove earlier, but now he could see a light at the edge.
The orange light swayed slowly.
While he was watching he saw one, two, and more and more lights.
Kei was suspicious of the low-ranking spirits of the deceased, but soon realized that wasn’t what they were.
They were man-made fires. It was torch light. Their movements were small, but he was certain that they were approaching. Although they had torches out, it was too dark and they were too far for him to make out who they were.
“…It doesn’t look like those guys from before…”
They were coming from the opposite side. Besides that, it was too soon for them to have gotten here on foot.
What to do.
Kei hesitated for a short while before reaching a conclusion.
“Let’s go check it out. I’m counting on you, Mikazuki.”
Carrying Aileen, he once again mounted Mikazuki.
Kei put on his headpiece, fastened a cloth around his mouth to hide his face, and checked his backup weapon. He’d lost his short sword and used two pebbles, but everything else was in order. No problem.
He gave a small nod and grabbed Sasuke’s reins, then lightly kicked Mikazuki’s flank.
The distance between them was quickly covered by trotting, as they weren’t all that far away. The lights became clearer and clearer as they narrowed the gap.
In the grove, a cleared out section of land turned out to be a small village. Kei could see a number of villagers holding torches coming and going hurriedly in front of a large log house.
“…Hey, something is coming!”
“Everybody, gather up!”
“The light! Bring the light!”
They probably heard Mikazuki and Sasuke’s hooves, throwing them into this panic.
…English, huh. At least we’ll be able to understand each other.
As he thought to himself, the small village was suddenly illuminated by several fiercely burning cressets placed around it.
About ten villagers readied their clubs or bows and arrows, facing in Kei’s direction.
He lightly pulled Mikazuki’s reins, slowing him down to a walk, and they slowly approached the village.
Among the villagers, one spear-wielding man with a tough face stepped forward and challenged Kei. “Halt! Who goes there?”
It had only been several hours since Kei and Aileen had been transported to the world of 『Demondal』.
—The first villager confronted them.
A Note From the Author
Chapter 6. Escape (Afterword)
By the way, Kei and Aileen are generally speaking in English.
 right subclavian artery: Check out the first picture :p
 venous: Arterial blood is a bright red color, and venous blood is a dark macaroon color, so that’s how he concludes that no arteries were hit.
 cressets: A metal container of oil, grease, wood, or coal burned as a torch and typically mounted on a pole.