Spoils of Battle
The crimsonblood bear let out a pained groan as blood gushed out with each beat of its powerful heart. In a flash, the ground was dyed red. Cyranos, atop the bear, bathed in blood as well.
It felt only hate and terror. As a fiend with limited intelligence, it could feel the life seep out of its body. The sensation drove it mad, wanted to kill everything in front of it. It rose once more and unleashed a frenzy of attacks. It was difficult for Cyranos to maintain his position. He retrieved his dagger and flipped off the beast. He landed nearby and beckoned to Kurdak and Leguna.
"It'll die soon! Take Kurdak away from here!"
Leguna's mind was a complete mess. Despite his limited interactions with Kurdak, he had developed a strong sense of respect for his 'boss', though his usual laid-back attitude did not show it. Seeing Kurdak slip into unconsciousness from the injuries he had received for Leguna's sake, he suddenly didn't know what to do.
When he heard Cyranos's instructions, Leguna acted immediately. With strength even he didn't know he had, he hauled the Kurdak's heavy body up.
At that moment, however, the bear had already reached him. Even though it couldn't see, it was able to tell there were beings present by smell. Letting out a low roar, it mustered all its remaining energy and flung it against the slow-moving Leguna.
Vera suddenly appeared out of nowhere, having discarded her trusty bow. She raised Kurdak's heavy shield with both hands to block the strike. Unfortunately there was no way an archer specialized in agility could deflect the terrifying blow of a crimsonblood bear. Vera felt a huge force spread all over the shield. It almost snapped her arms. She was flung into the bushes not far away. The bear had lost all its remaining vitality and collapsed on the ground soundlessly.
Cough, cough! The bear crashing down on the sandy ground beat up a dust cloud that caused Leguna to cough. He didn't dare to stop hauling Kurdak away; he couldn't tell whether the fiend was really dead.
After laying Kurdak down somewhere safe, he began to check his injuries. Leguna was currently very tense from worry. If the man truly perished because of saving him, he would never be able to live it down.
Cyranos rushed to aid Vera. Luckily she wasn't that badly injured thanks to the shield. Only her wrist was dislocated. When she took a look at the shield in her hand and saw the indent of the bear's paw in the middle, she couldn't help but begin to worry about Kurdak. Would he be able to survive such a powerful blow?
When the two came over, Leguna was wrapping up his injuries.
Even though he had previously expressed his respect for the person called Wayerliss, it was only now that Leguna understood the notebook's true value. The information contained within was an endless treasure trove and it all proved useful in some way or another, the chief of which was the method to make proper use of healing potions.
Normal people would merely ingest potions, which was helpful for recovery, but expensive. It was the most inefficient way to use a potion. Wayerliss's notebook recorded large amounts of information concerning proper potion application.
According to the instructions, Leguna mixed a small amount of healing potion with stimulant, wet a piece of cloth with the mixture, and dabbed it on Kurdak's temples. The notebook said it was a good way to quickly wake someone up.
When Kurdak gradually opened his eyes, the three let out breaths of relief.
Actually, the moment before the bear struck out, Kurdak had already predicted he wouldn't be able to dodge in time. He made the split decision to focus a large amount of impetus on his waist. Coupled with the defenses provided by his mithril armor and impetus field, he managed to avoid sustaining heavy injuries. He had only fainted because he knocked his head against a tree trunk.
"It's dead?" asked Kurdak, wincing from the pain.
"Yes. Are you alright, Boss?"
"I'm fine. Three broken ribs won't kill me," Kurdak said, knocking on Leguna's head, "Next time, don't play the fool. I don't have unlimited lives."
"Don't worry, boss. I won't do that ever again," apologized Leguna.
Unusually, he didn't make a witty retort. He understood things had turned out as they had because of him. It was his fault that Kurdak and Vera got hurt, not to mention how Cyranos had to risk his life to get into close combat with the bear. Had it not been for their luck, lives might've been lost. That was why Leguna accepted Kurdak's criticisms obediently. He resolved himself to not drag others down in the future.
Not only did Kurdak break three ribs, his flesh had also been torn rather badly. His bones had even been exposed. Fortunately, it was just a flesh wound. His innards had been mostly safe thanks to his impetus' protection.
When they understood the extent of his injuries, Cyranos and Vera calmed down. Kurdak looked at the bears' carcass not far away.
"You two better get started on the carcass. Its hide can definitely sell for a lot."
Cyranos nodded wordlessly before he left to get to work.
"Are you really fine?" asked Vera.
"This kind of injury is only good for scaring kids," said Kurdak as he pointed at Leguna.
"Alright then," Vera agreed while patting on Kurdak's shoulder dismissively.
She turned to leguna.
"We'll go deal with the dead bear. You stay here and wrap him up properly."
"Help me remove my armor and clothes," instructed Kurdak.
Leguna followed his instruction exactly. Even though he tried to be as careful as possible, the armor still made contact with Kurdak's wound, causing him to grit his teeth in pain.
"Boss, you're really tough. You haven't even groaned," awed Leguna, feeling more and more that his boss was a true man.
"This is nothing. Do you see the scar on my back? I got it from being slashed by a bandit two years ago. If the cut was any deeper, my spine would've been damaged! I didn't utter a sound then either," boasted Kurdak while pointing at his back.
"You fainted straight away. It would've been a miracle if you managed to make a sound. Hmph, had it not been for Cyranos, you wouldn't have made it back to Starfall alive," tsukkomi'd Vera from a distance, popping Kurdak's balloon without any hesitation.
"Heh, why don't you mention the time I hauled the two of you and barged out of the encirclement and pursuit of a pack of paleback wolves a year ago?" retorted Kurdak.
"Had it not been for Vera killing the alpha paleback, would you have been able to escape?" contributed Cyranos.
"Tch, I don't have time to argue with you. Who doesn't have moments when they mess up?" Kurdak changed the subject the moment he noticed his two comrades working together against him.
"Then again, Cyranos's close combat ability is surprisingly good," added Leguna as he tightened the bandages.
"Well, it's passable. While he's most certainly faster than me, he can't match me in strength," explained Kurdak.
Leguna suddenly showed some interest.
"Oh? Have you ever dueled Cyranos? Who won?"
"Well, that... We both had our wins and losses," laughed Kurdak dryly.
"Basically, you lost more than Cyranos," added Vera.
"Just focus on your skinning!"
"Skinning? I wonder who I should be skinning?"
Vera stood up and looked at Kurdak with an insidious smile, her bloodied knife hanging loosely in her hand by her side.
"The bear's skin!"
Kurdak wiped the sweat from his forehead. Seeing Vera calm down, he looked at Leguna.
"Honestly speaking, Cyranos's close combat ability is really good. Sometimes, even I can't parry his strikes. But that's because his stratum is greater than mine, not to mention the advantages granted by his enchanted weapon."
"Just own it. It's Cyranos's own ability for having a greater stratum than you. As for the enchanted weapons," Leguna said before biting his lip subconsciously, "I don't think Cyranos would actually fight you seriously with that kind of weapon."
"What do you know?! Flameblade was crafted by the dwarf that owns the Hammer of Flame! When he fought me using it, I had to dodge like my life depended on it! I dodged so hard I began to see stars! Stars! Here's how it feels like!" growled Kurdak before he thunked harshly on Leguna's head.
"Boss, if you make me see stars, who would wrap your injuries?!" Leguna exclaimed, rubbing his head, before he asked in a surprised tone, "Cyranos's stratum is higher than yours? Come to think of it, what are your strata?"
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