For some reason there was a bug just like the praying mantis before us. Unlike the praying mantises I knew, however, this one was as big as me with scythes fit for its size. It’s definitely a monster.
…If not, then I feel sorry for all the bug-hating people. This world must be hell for them…
“Do you see that, young master? That’s a bug-type monster known as the Cave Mantis. It uses the scythes it has for hands to dig holes. It likes to live in caves or tunnels.” [Camil]
“Tch! Looks like an annoying one’s taken root here…” [Hyuzu]
“Is it strong?” [Ryouma]
“Not really. Its scythes aren’t sharp and its carapace is soft, so miners are actually able to deal with them with just their pickaxes.
The problem is that they reproduce really fast, so there’s a chance the more advanced variant, the blade mantis, might show up when they’re around. Unfortunately, blade mantises look just like their lesser variant, so it’s hard to tell them apart.” [Zeff]
“Unlike cave mantises, blade mantises actually have sharp scythes, so if you let your guard down, it could be fatal. Please be careful.” [Jill]
“How do you tell them apart?” [Ryouma]
“Blade mantises are just a little bigger, but the difference isn’t obvious, so some experience is needed to tell them apart. That one over there is cave mantis. I’ll lure it here, so make sure to get a good look.” [Zeff]
As Zeff-san said that, he approached the cave mantis alone and led it here.
Elia and I watched as he easily received the attacks of the cave mantis with his small buckler.
“That’s a cave mantis. Those scythes are pretty fast, so please be careful.” [Jill]
“Ojou, please take out the cave mantis while Zeff has its attention.” [Hyuzu]
“No fire magic, though. The smoke won’t have anywhere to go.” [Jill]
“I’m ready whenever!” [Zeff]
“Then… ‘Ice Arrow’! Tsk! ‘Ice Arrow’!” [Elialia]
The first Ice Arrow the ojousama casted was dodged, but the second one she casted immediately successfully took down the cave mantis.
“There’s no problem with your casting speed, but you should aim more carefully.” [Jill]
“I understand.” [Elialia]
After that we continued walking for another two minutes before we happened onto another cave mantis. This time, however, there were 4 of them.
“Now what? The ojousama took care of the one before, so I thought we could let Ryouma have a go next, but 4 right out of the blue?” [Hyuzu]
When I heard that, I told them that I wanted to try.
“Be careful.” [Hyuzu]
Nodding to him, I drew the two short swords sheathed by my waist and invoked Body Reinforcement, then I ran for the cave mantises.
One of the cave mantises raised up its right scythe when it noticed me, but I sent a kick flying toward its right leg before it could attack.
As its left leg was broken under the might of my kick, the cave mantis lost its balance and fell to the ground, then as my right foot descended onto its head, a nice crunchy sound resounded.
At that, two more noticed me and headed my way.
Matching the timing of the second cave mantis as it lifted up its scythe, I turned my body counterclockwise 90 degrees, barely dodging its attack, as I cut off its joint with my short sword. Then as my body swung back into place, I lopped off its head with my left short sword that was held in a reverse grip.
Behind the second cave mantis was the third one.
Shifting grip on my left hand from a reverse grip to a proper grip, I turned my body counterclockwise and parried its attack, then I claimed its head with my left sword.
The fourth cave mantis swung its left scythe in hopes of claiming my neck, but I dodged it, received its attack with my right sword, and cut its joint with my left.
It swung its right scythe next from the side, but I received it with my left and cut its joint with my right. With both arms gone, the cave mantis no longer had any cards left to play.
It could only helplessly watch as I lopped off its head.
…Doesn’t look like I’ll be having any problems here. My swords are doing well too, not a single crack on them.
“Good job. Looks like you can handle yourself in close combat too.
Ojousama, bug-type monsters are tough, so make sure you don’t attempt what Ryouma did and try to lop their heads off.” [Zeff]
“I understand.” [Elialia]
“You played it smart invoking a hardening spell there. With that it wouldn’t have mattered even if one of the cave mantis had landed a hit.” [Hyuzu]
“As expected of Ryouma-san.” [Elialia]
It’s because I’m already used to bug-type monsters. After all those years living in Gana Forest and hunting those tenacious critters to feed to the slimes, it’s only natural I’d get used to them.
As our first battle concluded, we continued along the tunnel.
10 minutes later, I was walking in front while the ojousama followed from behind. Somehow, it was decided that we would be taking care of the monsters we happened across.
There were nothing but cave mantises along the way, and the fights were really closer to pest cleaning than a fight, but their numbers were gradually increasing. At one point, we had to deal with 4 or 5 of them at the same time. What’s worse was that the intervals between each battle was getting shorter and shorter.
Of course, that meant nothing to me.
“Heave… ho.” [Ryouma]
But not for the ojousama. She’s been casting one ice spell after another at the enemies we’ve encountered to weaken them and reduce their numbers.
I’m grateful to have her support, but all that casting has left her exhausted.
She’s also using more and more mana with every spell casted.
I know the four guards following us will step in when things turn for the worse, but…
“‘Playing Clay’” [Ryouma]
I caught the leg of an attacking cave mantis with earth magic and broke its balance, then I finished it off in a single hit.
“Why don’t we rest for a bit?” [Ryouma]
After that I suggested we take a breather.
“Here, dried meat. You’ll feel much better once you’ve eaten.” [Hyuzu]
“Thank you.” [Ryouma]
And so, a breather we took.
Although we were still deep inside the tunnel and couldn’t let our guard down, we sat ourselves on the ground and rested.
We had the Light spell for our light, so the area was well lit. There also seemed to be a vent connected somewhere, so it wasn’t hard to breathe.
“Are you alright, Ojousama?” [Jill]
“Thank you for worrying about me, but I still have strength to spare. Mana too. It’s just that for some reason, I feel like I get tired more easily.” [Elialia]
“That’s normal when fighting in a place you’re not used to. Especially, places like these where we can’t tell the passage of time. Anyway, there’s nothing else to it but to get used to it. It’s that sort of training after all.
How about you, Ryouma-kun? Are you alright?” [Camil]
Camil-san turned to me after advising Elialia, but unlike her, I’m actually used to places like these.
“It’s just like my house, so I’m ok.” [Ryouma]
“Ahh, right. Now that you mention it…” [Camil]
“Hey, Ryouma. What spell did you use on that cave mantis just now? I know it’s an earth spell, but I don’t recognize it.” [Hyuzu]
“You mean Playing Clay? It’s a spell that temporarily turns soil and stone into clay.” [Ryouma]
Like Create Rock, which I used back during the landslide, Playing Clay is also a spell made from the combination of Rock and Break Rock. It’s a spell that continuously uses Break Rock to break down the soil to keep the particles connected.
It’s also one of the games I used to play back when I had difficulties using magic. It’s literally playing clay.
“It’s a spell I created back when I had difficulties using Rock to help myself learn it. You get stones and stuff like this and use magic to knead them into clay. Eventually, you’ll get used to it and you’ll be able to use Rock.” [Ryouma]
The clay form will only last as long as there’s mana. Once the mana used to invoke the spell is exhausted, the spell will wear off, and the object will go back to its original form. If it used to be soil, then it’ll go back to being soil. If it used to be rock, then it’ll go back to being rock.
Because of that it can also be used to fill in gaps between walls or to fill cracks. It can also be used to repaint walls. Of course, I didn’t think all that when I first came up the spell.
After explaining the spell, the ojousama and the 4 guards looked at me, dumbfounded.
“Oi, Camil, Jill. What do you think? You’re the magic guys from our group.” [Hyuzu]
“Coming up with a new spell because you can’t use a beginner spell? Ryouma-kun, the things you do are really… different.” [Jill]
“I won’t say it’s impossible, but it’s definitely a hassle. I mean it’s one thing if someone else had taught you, but coming up with a new spell just to learn a beginner spell? Usually, it’d be a lot easier to just train normally.” [Camil]
Like that we chatted and relaxed.
While we were doing that, the slimes were behind us eating all the monsters we defeated.
We’re not doing anything out of the ordinary, but we’re making great progress in cleaning up the path.