Roast Snow Rabbit and Hope
“Hey, girl! Look what I caught!” Kurdak said as he waved the snow rabbit in his hands, “Before this, it was Cyranos who prepared our meals. But today, I’ll show you my cooking skills instead!”
Vera was as pale as before.
“I bet it’ll taste horrible,” she murmured, trying hard to crack a smile.
“That’s fine, what you need is food for energy so your wound can heal,” replied Kurdak nonchalantly as he skinned the rabbit in a practiced manner.
He had gotten quite adept at skinning after much experience with skinning fiends. He rubbed the skinned rabbit for a bit before piercing it through with a branch and carefully starting a fire with a fire starter.
“The fire starters the Eye sells are really something. It can keep a fire going even in temperatures like this!” nodded he, satisfied.
Seemingly affected by his optimism, Vera raised her head and smiled weakly. The roasted meat’s fragrance wafted over as the rabbit turned from light pink to golden brown. Drops of grease fell from the meat into the fire, where it crackled and sizzled.
“I didn’t think it would end up smelling so good! Hmph! Those heartless shops sell one roasted snow rabbit for two gold coins but they don’t smell as good as mine! When I grow old and retire, I’ll sell roast rabbits. I’ll run them out of business!” exclaimed Kurdak.
He cut the rabbit meat into chunks, still butthurt about the money he’d spent at the inn. He handed some to Vera for a taste.
“Give it a try. We don’t have any seasoning, so this will have to do.”
Though his culinary skills were average at best, the rabbit did taste rather good. The outer crust was crispy and the meat inside juicy. Whilst it didn’t have any seasoning, the skill required to get the fire just right was something from which even fine cuisine could benefit.
“How is it? Delicious?” asked he expectantly.
This brutish man almost seemed anxious about how well is meat had turned out.
“It’s very good.”
“Glad you liked it. Wait a bit, I’ll serve you the rest when it’s done,” said Kurdak happily as he wiped his soot-covered face and focused on roasting again.
Seeing his serious expression, a wave of uncontrollable feelings surged in Vera’s mind. Though she was heavily injured and the weather outside was horrendous, she had no trace of worry or anxiety. As long as she saw the dedicated man in front of her, she would be reassured and calm, as though his presence alone was enough to overcome all odds. Hardship was nothing as long as he cared for her.
After finishing half the rabbit, color returned to her face.
“I’ll leave the last leg to you. I’m full,” said she as she handed it to him.
Kurdak didn’t hold back since he was hungrier than he wanted to admit. Additionally, he couldn’t care for Vera if he didn’t keep himself sated, so he wolfed down the last piece of meat without hesitation.
“Uwoooh! I didn’t think something I roasted would taste this good!” mumbled he unclearly as he chewed.
“Hmph, it has room for improvement. You only managed to get the fire right, you didn’t add any seasoning. It’s almost tasteless.”
Vera’d started bickering with him again, clearly, she was feeling better.
“Hey, it ain’t as simple as it looks! We’ll have as much seasoning as we could want once we’re back home. I’ll roast you so many rabbits you’ll vomit when you see one! I’ll feed you till you’re nice and chubby,” laughed Kurdak.
“You’re the chubby one, you stupid black boar!” cried Vera angrily as she threw him a punch.
The swing’s force made her tug on her wound. By the time she noticed, she was bleeding again. She furrowed her brow\ as her revitalized face paled again.
“You deserve that. Sit there and don’t move,” ordered Kurdak, slightly panicked as he knelt down to check on her.
Her wound was more serious than he’d thought. Despite so much time having passed, it was still bleeding non-stop. Her back was practically entirely crimson.
“Drink another potion,” said he.
He knew she had another potion. He’d wanted to save it for later to allow the previous’ effects of to set in completely but he couldn’t do that now. He cleaned the wound again and used his bandage for some simple wrappings. Vera seemed a little better than before but he was still incredibly worried. Given her condition, she needed at least two more potions to recover fully.
Potion… potion… thought he frantic with worry.
“The heck?! Are you out of your damned mind?! You’ve doomed us all!” yelled Daver.
Though he was breathing hard from running, he didn’t forget to curse Leguna.
“Don’t put up that act now! I never thought you’d let us off so easily!” retorted Leguna.
The fellow had been pestering Annelotte the whole time. Most of what she said in reply was lies, but it still made him feel rather displeased. He’d angered the snowfiends for two reasons: first, to escape Daver’s control. Second, to vent.
“Do you think I’ll let you off now?!”
Seeing the snowfiends still some distance away, his expression turned cold as he launched two magic missiles at Leguna.
Leguna ducked immediately. But as Daver wasn’t that far behind, and given how narrow the cavern was, the magic missiles still struck his left arm. The force shifted his center of gravity and almost made him fall.
Now they had completely fallen out, Leguna stopped holding back. He subconsciously stood in front of Annelotte and flung two throwing knives at his target. Daver had been dictating his second spell the moment the chase started. It was a physical barrier that allowed protection from most projectiles. When Leguna’s knives hit the barrier, they merely bounced off. They did Daver no harm.
Naturally, Leguna didn’t think he could take out a magus of the 12th stratum with merely two throwing knives. The moment he threw them, he drew Flameblade and closed the distance. Even idiots knew one shouldn’t let magi put some distance between you and them. While it was only his first time fighting a magus, he was well aware of this principle.
When Daver saw the blade that emanated a magical glow, his eyelids twitched. He didn’t think a poor-looking brat would actually have an enchanted weapon. It was in that instant of disbelief that Leguna closed most of the distance.
Daver really got the short end of the stick this time. As a magus, it was disadvantageous for him to fight at such close ranges, not to mention the cramped surroundings. Though he was six strata higher than his opponent, being assaulted at close range by a fighter with his opponent’s speed was nothing short of terrifying.
Leguna held Flameblade tight and quickly approached Daver. He traced an arc towards his throat. The blade traveled so fast it left a trail of light in its wake.
Right before the dagger made contact, Daver completed his second defensive spell: the stoneskin spell. It was a spell very effective against physical attacks. The great difference in their strata also made sure Leguna’s attack wouldn’t reap him much benefit.
Actually, Daver knew it would take Leguna six strikes at least to break the barrier. That his strike didn’t do any damage at all was within expectation, but its force still sent him tumbling to the ground. His forehead was covered in perspiration. Had he been even a moment slower, Leguna would’ve cut his throat. The humiliation of almost dying to a weakling made him lose all rationality.
“To hell with you!” Daver flung two more magic missiles at Leguna to push him back before beginning another dictation.
Annelotte merely looked on from the side, quietly. Only six seconds had passed since the fight began. Since the great snowfiends hadn’t closed in yet, she was more than willing to let the two fight uninterrupted. She wanted to see how Leguna would perform against a magus. As she predicted, he managed to suppress Daver the moment battle broke out. Terrain, distance, and weapons were all in his favor, but they should’ve been annoyances at best.
The great divide between the two’s strength wasn’t something for which these factors could make up. Other things aside, a simple stoneskin spell was enough to withstand a number of hits. And the moments it bought was more than enough to dictate a spell damaging enough to incapacitate Leguna.
True to her expectations, Daver did just that. Dense amounts of magical power gathered at his fingertips. At first, they glowed a faint green, but, as the dictation continued and more magical power gathered, the green glow turned into a ball of light that rested in his palm.
The moment she heard the first verses, her expression changed. She realized he was going to cast a fatal sixth-level spell: the disintegration spell.