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Chapter 23 : Hardcore person?
It was my fault, no matter how I looked at it.
Heath said that it wasn’t my fault, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that it was my fault. That’s just Heath being nice…
Is it okay as it is? No, no matter how I think about it, it can’t be good.
“Why did Ruki do something like that, Heath?”
“Who knows. All I know is that he seems to have ties with terrorists.”
“I’m going back to the guild hall for a while after all, I’d also like to know more about the situation, and I want to talk to Nachi and the others.”
“Neji… I see. Then I’ll go too.”
Thus, I left Heath’s house with Heath. We then walked around clock town’s square for a while before heading to Mashed Potato’s guild hall.
I was welcomed by Ango. Hiiragi and Saki also came running up to me.
“Uh, I’m scared of the hardcore players… but! Master got caught because of your fault!”
“What would you do if something happened to Master!”
The three of them looked relieved when they saw me, and then, with somewhat frightened looks on their faces, they lashed out at Heath. Their words were brash, but their eyebrows were lowered.
“I’m really sorry. It’s my fault.”
“No, it’s my fault. And thank you guys, but it’s not Heath’s fault. In the first place, if anyone’s to blame, it’s the culprit.”
Heath fell silent as I frantically tried to calm the situation, and the three of them each nodded a bit. I made sure of that and then looked around.
“Where is Nachi?”
“Ahh, he’s now almost a guild member of Genesis, saying he’ll cover for Heath’s position. It’s insane. He’s a hardcore player at heart, isn’t he?”
Ango stated. When I looked at him in surprise, Hiiragi nodded repeatedly next to him.
“He said they’re going to start attacking the bosses of the second half of EP5 today!”
I nodded my head thinking that was so, and Heath sighed next to me.
“The pace of the attack is getting faster. He seems to be a lot more reliable than I am.”
I nodded with mixed feelings. After that, the other guild members rejoiced for my safe return and I was told of the current situation. I counted, and after defeating the remaining 10 or so bosses, they would reach the mountain whale, the boss of the latest scenario before logging out became impossible.
It’s the same boss that Heath and I became friends with when I posted a party recruitment. It seems that it would be faster to log out on our own if this is the case than to wait for rescue from the outside.
What I can do… there really doesn’t seem to be anything I can do. I wondered if the only thing I could do was to stay quiet so that Ruki wouldn’t come after me anymore. It’s just my own selfishness that I cannot be at ease with.
I glanced at Heath, he then held my free hand. When I think about it, it’s the first time I’ve ever held hands with anyone in public, even though it’s not the right time, but I felt embarrassed.
No good no good no good! This kind of weak mentality is useless when Nachi and others are trying their best!
“Heath! Do Genesis or the five major guilds lack any crafted items?”
“The number of priests and bards were insufficient, so recovery potions and buffing items were more or less scarce. What about it?”
“I’ll make those! I can’t just sit around and do nothing. I want to help in some way even if it’s not much!”
Heath didn’t reply to my words, he just nodded quietly.
Heath did not stop me from what I wanted to do. But ever since then, He has been next to me. Whether I am awake, sleeping, crafting, or handing out food. Then, when we were alone, he would gently hug me.
Whenever I feel his warmth, the sense of guilt increases more and more inside me.
It was a week later that Nachi and I were reunited.
“I’m glad Neji! I’m so happy you’re safe!”
“Nachi… The attack seems to be going well.”
On that day, I was distributing pork miso soup in town when Nachi showed up with Mao. Somehow, it already feels very natural to see the two of them side by side.
Behind me, Heath had his arms folded. Mao smiled as he walked over to Heath. His expression wasn’t the same as before, only glaring at his surroundings. It seems to me that Mao has shown more gentle expressions recently. However, the same is true for Heath, who has been smiling more often lately, especially in front of me.
“Yes. Finally, tomorrow, we’ll be able to take down the final boss …the mountain whale! However, that place… was only accessible with a party of four in the game due to the scenario, remember?”
“And it was tough unless it’s a full party composed of a tank, an attacker, a recovery class and a buffer, right? Right now, there’s no one in Genesis who can handle the mountain whale as a bard. This is why the hardcore players are all talk… or rather, there is no one who can play bard better than… Neji.”
“You’re flattering me too much.”
When I blurted it out reflexively, Nachi had a serious look on his face.
“I mean it. Hey, Neji. You’re now in good health, right?”
“Hm? Ahh, I’m fine, though.”
“This is really the last time, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, so for me, I want Neji, who I trust the most, to be there. I don’t mind if the swordsman isn’t Heath, but Mao says he wants Heath in the end after all.”
At these words, I looked at Heath. And Heath was looking at me, too.
“Heath. Will you join us?”
When Mao mentioned it, Heath made a grim face. He stared at me and then let out a deep sigh.
“Indeed. If you’re only looking at the skills of a bard, I also think Neji would be the best choice for those conditions, but I object. I’m worried. It’s alright for me to go but… I still can’t do that because I can’t leave Neji behind.”
When I heard that, I couldn’t help but raise my voice.
“I’m going! If I go, Heath can go without hesitations, right!?”
“I wonder. I think you’re going to distract me during the fight.”
“Don’t say that… Were you… a hardcore person at overprotection, not a game hardcore player?
“At least call him a hardcore person at love.”1
Mao laughed at my words with a stiff face. I involuntarily felt embarrassed after saying love. All of a sudden, Nachi clapped his hands.
“Okay, let’s go with four people. First party in the mountain whale, last one also in the mountain whale. I know we can do it!”
This is how I ended up taking part in my first and last boss raid.
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