“Woohoo! That was awesome!” Q extended her fist towards Kukis who rolled her eyes in response.
“…I’m not doing it.”
“…” Q continued to hold out her fist.
“Ugh, fine.” Kukis bumped her fists with Q, and they began an elaborate handshake filled with jumps, twists and more. “I can’t believe you made me do that.” Despite her complaints, she still wore a begrudging smile on her face.
“I can’t believe you still remember it,” Q grinned, “that was what, two years ago since we last did it?”
“It’s honestly just muscle memory. You drilled it into my body so thoroughly I’ve almost done it on reflex a few times.”
“W-what was that?!” Sunflower dashed over to the other two with her eyes sparkling. “Could it be that was the rumoured… secret handshake!?”
“You know it. Wanna make one together?” Q offered.
The two girls then began the arduous task of creating a secret handshake while Kukis walked around the battlefield picking up the various acorns that had dropped during the battle. She even picked up a special item that was dropped by the Squibble King, which was a small crown with an acorn imprinted into the center. Hmm, this isn’t really my style, but maybe it’ll suit Q. She stowed it in her inventory, and by the time Kukis finished collecting all the acorns Q and Sunflower had completed their custom handshake and were excitedly doing it over and over again.
“Hey Q, I don’t know what your thought process was, but these acorns are actually super valuable,” Kukis said while reading their description, “the normal ones have a two percent health recovery on consumption, and the golden ones recover five percent. Not only that, but it’s also an ingredient which can be used in alchemy or cooking! I bet we’re the first ones to find this thing, otherwise people would be swarming around this area farming acorns.”
“I’ll say,” Q grinned, “but let’s not forget the fact that we’re complete badasses, and not just anyone would be able to handle that crowd.”
“That’s very true!” Sunflower nodded in agreement. She approached Kukis and retrieved some acorns from her inventory, then gently handed them over. “Here are the acorns I collected.”
“Thank you. When I start making potions I’ll be sure that you get the best ones!”
“What about me?” Q asked as she unceremoniously dropped her acorns in Kukis’ hand.
“…You can have the leftovers.”
“Eh, better than nothing.” Q shrugged. “So… It’s about time we got out of here yeah? I think we’ve gone far and beyond what was asked of us to do.”
“Oh yeah… I forgot that we were here for herbs in the first place. Let’s get going then.”
The group then left the forest in high spirits. Along the way Q was showing off the stacks of round leaves she had collected during her little side quest, while Sunflower showed off what she and Kukis had managed to forage while searching for herbs. Just as the three were about to leave the forest, the sound of a tree snapping caught their attention. The tranquility of the forest was disturbed as a giant figure came barreling towards the three girls.
At first Kukis began spinning her hammers while Sunflower was frozen like a deer in headlights, but then the two of them were pushed to the side as Q tackled them out of the figure’s path. As the three of them collapsed into a pile the giant figure let out a squeal and continued to destroy everything in its path. Before they could even react they heard an irritated voice speak.
“I cannot believe that boar escaped. Did you go easy on it Rain?” The owner of the voice turned out to be the white wilding they had seen earlier in the Primrose base.
“No milady,” an inorganic voice responded, “I was taking it seriously, but this body’s strength is not quite at the level I expected.”
“Hmph. How very annoying,” the white wildling sneered, “it seems we must…” Her words trailed off as she spotted the trio who were currently dusting themselves off.
“My deepest apologies.” The maid-like construct stepped forward and gave a formal bow. “We did not mean to put you in harms way. Are any of you hurt?”
“Nah, just a little surprised is all.” Q dusted herself off and took full stock of this pair which appeared in front of them. The white wildling known as Brie wore a sharp look in her eyes, and held an equally sharp rapier in her right hand. The construct maid Rain held what appeared to be a tonfa and some throwing knives. “More importantly, shouldn’t you go and chase it? That boar was yours right?”
“It appears there is no need.” Rain’s eyes flashed with a dark gleam. “I apologize for getting you involved in our hunt, but I suggest that you prepare yourselves for a fight.” She looked over to Brie, who simply let out a dissatisfied huff in response.
As all the girls prepared for a fight, they were made aware of a powerful tremble in the ground that slowly increased in intensity. “Hey… you were just chasing one boar, right?”
“Yes.” Rain responded.
“Then what the heck is that!!?”
[Boar Stampede] – Level ???
“It appears to be a-”
“I know what it is! Everyone scatter!” Q and Kukis split off to the left and right while Sunflower looked down with concern as she took to the skies. Q looked back to the crowd of at least twenty boars which were heading right for the stationary Brie and Rain. Before she could yell at them to dodge, Brie took a stance with her rapier, and with a flash of light suddenly appeared behind the stampede as a few boars suddenly had wounds appear on their bodies.
Q’s eyes widened at such a display of power, but it wasn’t over yet as Rain ran up a tree and leaped over the heads of the boars. With a twirl in midair she threw a few knives down and at the end of her jump she stabbed one into a boar and clung onto it, effectively riding the beast as it squealed in pain. “Damn.” For a moment Q felt her competitive spirit flare up, but she pushed it down as she thought about the circumstances. If we all fought together, we might be able to take down this stampede but… She quickly shot a glance to Brie, who made a flourish with her rapier and turned to face the charge that was coming back around. Those two started this monster train, so we don’t necessarily have to fight it.
Her thoughts were cut off as Brie made a large leap backwards and ended up beside Q. For a moment their gazes matched, and Q felt an arrogant look from Brie’s eyes, as if she was mocking her for backing down. Now thoroughly incensed, Q brought out her staff and happened to leap forward at the exact same time Brie did, and they plunged into the mass of boars head on.
“Aw jeez, she’s flipped her switch.” Kukis had a strained look on her face as she watched Q jumping around in the midst of the stampede. She was quickly joined by Sunflower who had descended upon seeing that the boars were more interested in fighting the others.
“Should we… help out?” She asked with a worried look.
“Honestly speaking, no,” Kukis shook her head, “Q just randomly gets competitive and wants to ‘prove herself’, and interfering in that would be… troublesome.”
“But shouldn’t we help out just in case? After all, friends are supposed to help each other right?”
“Haaaaaaaaaaaah…” Letting out a long sigh, Kukis brought out a hammer and began spinning it in her hand. “Yeah, I suppose we should.” She began throwing hammers at the boars while Sunflower took to the skies to look for an opportunity to dive into the fray.
While the other two were having a relaxed conversation, Q was in deep concentration as she cursed herself for temporarily giving into her emotions and jumping into the fantasy equivalent of ongoing traffic. She gritted her teeth and concentrated on the gaps in between each boar as they threatened to flatten her. As they got closer and closer she began feeling a pressure, but seeing the composed look on Brie’s face she pushed down those emotions and ran forward.
Each step taken was carefully calculated in order to slip through the gaps between each boar, but even then she couldn’t help but get grazed occasionally, and these casual touches were shaving off her health bar at a significant rate. She didn’t forget to counter in return though, as for each time she was hit she would either smack it with her staff or send out a [Spark] in response. By the time the last boar passed her she was dangerously low on health but ultimately remained intact.
For a moment she felt proud that she managed to avoid death, but when she looked to the right and saw that Brie was completely unscathed her mood instantly dropped to rock bottom. At the same time, Brie was looking at her as if she was an idiot, making Q feel even worse.
“Q, are you okay?” Sunflower descended from the skies and laid her hands on Q to heal her. “I can’t believe you jumped into that crowd so recklessly!”
“Yeah, me neither…” Q seemed to lose all enthusiasm as she looked back at the stampede which was making another turn. “Ugh. I feel stupid. Let’s just go back.”
“That would have been the smart option.” Kukis suddenly appeared as she retrieved a hammer. “Unfortunately, you’ve aggroed about half of them. It’s time to clean up your mess Q.”
“No buts. This is what you get for being so impulsive.”
“Aww.” With far less energy than before, Q grabbed her staff and faced the boars which split off from the group and were charging at them. Despite the negative air around her, Q still properly fought against the boars by attacking the ones on the sides with [Sparks] and the occasional staff smack. Kukis took the other side, and as her hammers increased in power they began to slightly stagger the boars as they continued to run. Sunflower flew in front of the crowd, leading them in a wide circle to allow Q and Kukis to attack it more often.
As the trio slowly dealt with their group, Brie and Rain were wreaking havoc on their boars. Each time the boars tried to charge against Brie she would always disappear in a flash of light and ended up on the other side, causing their attacks on her to be fruitless. On the contrary the boars kept getting hurt every time she did that, making them trial blood with every step they took. Rain on the other hand kept leaping from boar to boar, stabbing a knife into its back for support and began to beat on its spine with the tonfa in her other hand.
It didn’t take long for them to slay the boars, and once they were done they both looked over to the other girls who were still steadily whittling down their own. “Milady, it appears as though we have cleared the quest. Shall we assist those other players?”
“No.” With a cold gaze Brie watched the girls working together. “They brought it upon themselves, and besides… they do not need our help.”
“You’re thinking about the red one, correct?”
“I see. I was truly surprised to see her jump headfirst into the stampede without any plans, and even more so when she managed to get out without using any skills.”
“…Rain, be honest. Do you think you could get through that like she did?”
“That is difficult to say, milady.” Rain’s sapphire eyes flickered with light.
“I do not have the confidence to say I could do that.” With one last look, Brie turned around and walked away, her faithful maid trailing behind. As for the girls who were left with that mess…
“Grrrr…! Just die already!” Q soared through the air and landed on a boar’s back, hitting it with a [Gathering Storm] and killing it. “These damn, stupid, boars!!!”
“Kukis, I’m scared…” Sunflower shook a little seeing the ferocity Q had as she continued to savagely beat down the remaining boars.
“It’s alright hun,” Kukis patted Sunflower on the head, “this is just her way of venting out her frustration. She’ll be back to normal when they’re all dead… I think.”
At some point the girls had managed to whittle down the numbers to three boars, at which point Q suddenly regained her fiery drive and began to go all out on them. She was mad at both herself for making such a stupid move, and at the white wildling for simply leaving after essentially starting a monster train. “RAAAAAAGH!” With one final blow, she managed to kill the last boar, after which she collapsed to the ground breathing heavily.
“Huff… huff… Oh hey… I leveled up.”
“So did I, but let’s not do something like that again okay?” Kukis approached Q and lent her a hand.
“Yeah. Sorry for losing my cool.” Q took her hand and got back up. “Let’s go back now.”
The other two nodded in agreement, and the group made their way back to the town of Foria.