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[SS] Chapter 31: Disband

As Irina had finally started to settle down, and Hydra was enjoying embracing an attractive woman, she stood up and awkwardly fixed her appearance. Her hair was a mess, and static electricity existed in this game as well, as her hair was frizzing about. With her tear-stained face she looked only like an adorable child who just threw a tantrum, naturally for his own safety he didn’t say anything.

He just patiently waited for her to be ready while playing with Pan. As Pan wouldn’t care for anything in the entire world if Hydra was giving him attention he was simply cutely folding his ears. Then Hydra decided to try something he heard about from Sarah. It was apparently possible to tickle animals, and as he wasn’t sure he thought he might as well try it on pan. Thus he picked Pan up and laid him on his back. Carefully, as not to hurt Pan, he started to tickle Pan’s belly. The reaction? Was thoroughly addicting for Hydra.

Pan who started to love it was crying in a laugh-like manner and started look like he was swimming in the air. Adorably pawing at Hydra with no real strength behind those paws. Pan’s tails wrapped swung back and forth enjoying the situation more and more. Normally, to most people they wouldn’t be able to stand being tickled however Pan loved it. As Hydra would pause in between, Pan would stare at Hydra with his adorable giant black eyes and red and white furred face as if saying ‘Do it again!’. Unable to resist the temptation Hydra would indulge in tickling Pan.

It didn’t take long for Irina to regain her full composure and after hearing Pan laugh she was unable to resist the temptation to see. After she came up and saw the adorable sight that Pan was, she looked back and forth between Pan and Hydra. Hydra who noticed that and felt a little guilty behind today’s actions he handed Pan over to her as he said.

“He likes to be tickled. If you do it I’m sure he’d love it as well.”

“…Okay”

Irina, quietly nodded. She then as Hydra directed started to tickle Pan. It might not be obvious, but an animal was without a doubt the best way to increase one’s mood. They were oblivious to the world’s surroundings and the only thing that mattered to them was their family’s happiness. In this case Irina had grown close to Pan as well, it was no doubt that Pan thought of her as a family member as well. As they both indulge in the pleasures of the tickling fest, Hydra was only able to stare at the this scene with a smirk covering his face.

‘It’s a good thing I have Pan. He was able to cheer her up more than I ever could.’

As he thought about how bad he was with dealing with girl’s even though his friends in real life were only girl’s he was completely unable to understand their mindsets half the time. As the smile on Irina’s face grew, Hydra knew she was okay now and decided to call out to her.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes…. Let’s go!”

Hydra took a few steps forward but before he got too far he turned around again and stared at Irina.

“Put Pan down and let him work….”

“But!”

“You want food later?”

“….Yes.”

Irina reluctantly put Pan down, before sticking her tongue out at Hydra who had already turned around. Naturally he was oblivious to her sticking out her tongue, but even if he did would only wave his hand ignoring her displeasure. It wasn’t cause he wanted to make Irina unhappy, and especially after today’s incident. But he definitely 100% wanted Pan to gather more items for him. At this point in time there was nothing in this room any long so they could only continue their journey.

As they arrived at the next doorway it was once again a straight hallway. However as they approached the end the sleek wall’s became cracked and distorted. The blue flames were flickering and looked as if they were angry trying to fight off something.

“Hydra…. Something’s wrong.”

“Yeah… I can tell by that blackness at the end of the hall.”

As the two and pan started to carefully approach the end of the hallway they noticed that there was something severely strange going on. In a place where darkness did not exist, it existed right in front of them. There wasn’t a lot and they were still a few dozen feet away or so. But it didn’t change that they could see shadows in front of them.

‘This must be why the flames are reacting so strongly. They aren’t close enough to affect the shadow.’

Hydra was unsure whether or not their was supposed to be blue flame torches in the next room but he knew that if there were, something was happening in that room.

Finally after approaching closer they noticed it wasn’t that there was pure darkness. There existed countless dots of shadows. As they entered the next room they were shocked by the scene. The ceiling of the roof was raining droplets of shadow. But the moment they fell they were quickly drawn to the blue torches. But the amount of shadow was too much for the blue flames to completely absorb and they flames then turned black. But they continued to absorb the shadow droplets, and this gave off the impression of a roof that let the droplets flow downwards into the flames. As they just entered and saw this, a window popped up in front of Hydra.

The domain skill [Shadow Rain] has been used.
As a warrior that uses darkness yourself, you are unaffected by the decrease in stats that is applied to normal users. Instead you are given a +10% increase in all stats while under the effect of [Shadow Rain]. For normal users if they dwell under the rain for too long they themselves will be possessed by the darkness and become a minion for the rest of their lives. [Shadow Rain] will stay in effect until the monster who summoned it is destroyed.

As Hydra was surprised by the sudden appearance of the window because he was staring in awe at the rain, he quickly recovered himself calling out to Irina.

“Irina. You need to be careful this rain has the chance of shadow possessing you. Don’t let any of it touch you. As we don’t know how much longer the flames can handle the droplets if the fall you need to leave immediately okay?”

“Alright. What about you?”

“Shadow possession doesn’t affect me ever since I became a [Aether Bladist]”

“Okay, then that’s fine. But……Remember what you promised me…”

“Sorry what was that last bit?”

“Nothing!”

As Irina looked downwards in embarrassment she didn’t want Hydra to die for her sake. Not to mention she was reluctant to let Hydra lose at any moment while she was near. If it was for Hydra she would do everything in her power to make him the strongest and undefeated hero. But unfortunately Hydra didn’t hear her mumbling and struck with nervousness she was unable to repeat her words again.

As they kept walking they realized that this area was completely different from the previous areas. This area had large stalagmites covered the floor and didn’t allow for any large path to be constructed on the floor way. It was as if the temple only reached to this point before having to stop by some unknown reason.

As Hydra’s group kept walking, he over heard some noise and quickly signaled Irina. As they crept behind a stalagmite, Hydra peeked out and saw the cause of the [Shadow Rain]. In front of him around 50 feet away was a group of monsters. There were a bunch of smaller monsters and one large monsters. This large monster sat in front of a giant circular door that has inscriptions on it. The doorway covered the entire wall face and the stone was finely cut dark blue stone. As the monsters were unable to walk close as the their shadows were slowly being eaten away by the wall. In order to counter this and at the same time open the door way the large monster was condensing shadow from an object in his hand towards the door. As if the shadow was alive it was attacking fiercely at the door only to be repelled with some of the shadow never to return.

Hydra was amazing at this sight and had no idea what to do. As he was staring at the group, Irina grabbed onto his sleeve and tugged it. Hydra who noticed this reaction and turned around whispering in her ear the things he could see. Irina replied back but it wasn’t anything good.

“There must be something of great importance in that room. We mustn’t let them get it.”

‘Easier said than done. If we attack them it’s a dozen or so small creatures.’

Without a doubt, Hydra could not argue with Irina. At least if he fought with the monsters he could die peacefully, but with Irina? Irina would pound him into dust, but she wouldn’t kill him, oh no. She would pound him and once he recovered pound him again. While pain couldn’t be felt being bombarded with a numbing sensation countless times over was not something he wanted to experience. Thus he only agreed however he had one condition and explained to Irina.

“Okay, we can do this, however! In case things go wrong we need to disband the party, and you’re not allowed to join the fight until we know for sure that we can win it.”

“Fine.. But..”

“No. I know what you want to say. However at this point and time your life matters to me don’t throw it away when I can die whenever I want. Hero or not If i can’t protect you I don’t deserve to be called one.”

“….Okay!”

Somehow Hydra was confused at how fast Irina’s attitude switched over. As now she was brimming with smiles but he had no idea why. Hydra, could not possibly understand the fickle emotions of a girl. Thus he could only prepare for battle after disbanding the party as if she didn’t attack a boss herself she could still escape without any trouble.  After entering a battle with a boss until it was over you could not leave.   He was unsure whether the moment he aggravated the monsters if the large one would join in as well.  As he didn’t know if the large monster was a boss or not and because he was too far it was impossible to identify them. But if he got any closer they would notice him as there was no more cover after this point. Therefore it was all of nothing. He had only one option, that was to fight for his life!

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