Chapter 1: Sweet Never on the Fifth Ring
Sweet Never on the fifth ring was an island of contradictions. In the south dwelled the humanoid elves, and monsters, the dark elves, made the north their home. They had been warring for many long months and years.
Many of the contradictions could have been found around the great wall of Never that divided the two domains in the center of the island, where the two sides clashed. Scores of mercenaries were stationed in the elf-occupied fortress.
Adventurers took on the role of mercenaries. They had one way or another ended up on this island. Following instructions from elf quests, the adventurers fought the dark elves day in and day out.
They had been farming. Though the battles were fierce, adventurers had come to this island in order to earn money and items.
“Trolls and hellhounds are coming from the valley on the east! Tons of them! Party numbers seven and twelve, go help out at once!”
Generally, in the fortress, a young female voice, powered by magic, gave all of the announcements. Ten perfectly equipped adventurers dashed across the passageway running horizontally across the fortress. Among them were: Jun, Kasumi, Eri, and Yukaria.
A red-robed boy straggled behind the group. Yukaria turned around and shouted to him, “Hikaru-kun, hurry, hurry up!”
With an “Ahh!”, Hikaru stumbled. He had tripped on his robe. The squirrel-like little animal with purple fur on his shoulder cried “Piih!” and tumbled onto the ground.
Jun promptly rushed back and helped the boy up.
“Are you okay?” Jun let go. Hikaru quivered as if he had been shocked by lightning.
When he got back up, Jun towered over him. Hikaru made a very child-like face. In reality, he had introduced himself as being the same age as Eri. Therefore, he was in his third year of middle school.
“Ye-yeah. I’m fine, Jun… Kah-kun, are you okay?”
The small purple animal cried out again. The peculiar creature stretched its wings, flew into the air, and then landed back on Hikaru’s shoulder.
“Kasumi-san, Yukaria, Eri. Could you guys get rid of the strongest ones first? Don’t dillydaddle.”
“Please catch up with us soon!”
After saying farewell to those three, he caught back up with the other adventurers and then looked back at Hikaru.
“Hikaru, are you sure you’re okay. Aren’t you hurt?”
“Shoot, I’m holding you guys back.”
Jun shook his head, “That’s not how it is,” to the over-reacting Hikaru. “Far from it, in fact. You’re really helping us by being here. I was the only attacker in the group. It’s nice to know we have a summoner dishing out plenty of sustained damage.”
Having only joined the party yesterday, Hikaru couldn’t have helped but feel self-conscious. It was to disperse this lack of confidence that Jun cheered him up.
Upon Hikaru’s response, Jun thought that he might have acted a bit exaggeratedly…
“Yes! Of course, summoned pets are the best!”
Smiling widely, Hikaru made a fist with his hand and began rattling off the merits of summoned pets.
“Though people say that Sylpheed (the air spirit) is the current meta for hunting in groups, I personally think that Salamander (the fire spirit), as a tank, is great for keeping up damage. Of course you’d always have to make a decision based on the specific scenario, but if you can’t manage your pet’s HP well enough, it becomes a double edged sword. But, that does make things more interesting. In the past, I think that before getting Pet Heal on the sixth ring, it would spread the healer too thin. So…”
“Pii.” The creature on Hikaru’s shoulder had an amazed expression on its face, as if it had understood everything Hikaru had just said.
“I get it, I get it, calm down.”
“That’s enough.” Hikaru put his hand on his pet’s mouth.
“I get what you’re feeling, but we’re in the middle of a battle. Let’s head out.”
Jun smiled, grabbed Hikaru’s hand, and ran off.
“U-uh, I can walk on my own, so…”
After Jun let go, Hikaru lost balance again and appeared to stumble. Jun shrugged and caught him in his arms.
Cradled in Jun’s arms, Hikaru flapped his arms and legs. His face turned completely red.
“Look, let’s go.”
This time, he stiffened himself up and began running. Hikaru hung his head in shame and obediently ran after him.
“He embraced me…”
Hikaru’s murmur was followed by a sharp “Pii!” from his pet.