An Inescapable Question
The dwarf anxiously watched Cain's clash with the Ice Bear.
The few bolts he mustered up his courage to fire off didn't harm a hair on the Ice Bear's hide; they were shaken off when it rolled on the ground.
Furthermore, the Ice Bear was continuously moving, over half of the bolts flew wide, and if he were to randomly fire, there was a chance he'd hurt a team member.
"Cain, back up a little and cast perception magic. Everyone close your eyes." Ellen who had been shooting from the fringes of the battle suddenly spoke up.
At this time, the bear once again let out a threatening roar.
"Rowenna, flashbang spell."
A massive ball of light engulfed the area; it was so bright that even they closed their eyes, the light still pierced through their eyelids. This sort of magic that affected the surroundings, even magic-immune creatures could not avoid its effects.
When Julian opened his eyes, he saw the Ice Bear rolling around painfully on the ground; although it stood up regardless, its movements were noticeably more sluggish.
Every so often it would stop moving, as if hesitating over something. Quite evidently it had been blinded.
The pressure on Cain to defend had been greatly lessened, and his attacks likewise flowed more smoothly.
Julian lifted his crossbow and moved around carefully in the outer ring of the fight. Finally, when the Ice Bear had its back turned, he took the chance to let loose a volley of bolts into its side.
This time the attack was successful, but the Ice Bear bellowed before instantly switching targets and charged towards him.
Although it suffered grave injuries, because of its fury, the speed at which it ran had increased instead.
Julian moved to hide behind a tree, but his feet slipped and he tumbled onto the ground in a sorry heap.
He frantically tried to regain his footing, but whether it was due to nervousness or fear, his body was frozen stiff and he could only watch, wide-eyed, as the massive figure of the bear drew closer.
At this moment, a figure moved to block in front of him.
Ellen stood in the path of the Ice Bear's attack with his bow drawn, waiting for it to come closer. Only when it was less than 20 yards away did he let loose the arrow.
The arrowhead pierced into the bear's left eye and its enraged roars turned into howls of anguish before abruptly cutting off.
The Ice Bear's body continued to be propelled forward by inertia, and when it stopped, it landed right at Ellen's feet.
"It sure is tough." Ellen studied the Ice Bear's corpse as he spoke, "is its brain also made of ice?"
He turned around to help Julian up, brushing off the ice shards on his body.
"Julian, are you alright?"
Julian's face was pale as he nodded his head. Ellen loosed a sigh of relief, a smile coming to his face.
"You did pretty well; next time, try not to be so tense. Also, while you're running, be mindful of the ground."
Shelly eagerly ran over to check out the body of the Ice Bear, turning his head to look at the approaching Rowenna.
"Teacher Rowenna, is this thing edible?"
When the Ice Bear collapsed, Cain had been rushing over. Now, he wound past the fallen Ice Bear and grabbed Ellen, pulling him to the side.
"Did you have to let it get so close before you took the shot?" Cain frowned, speaking lowly, "is it thrilling?"
"That's not it," Ellen lowered his head with some guilt. "It's because if I wanted to destroy its brain… I don't have the strength to do so at a longer distance."
"It's not like you have to kill it with one arrow, after attacking you could at least dodge-" Cain spoke halfway before he realised and sighed.
Of course Ellen wouldn't dodge, and of course it had to be a one-shot kill; because Julian was behind him.
Although this sort of method was risky, it wasn't due to him wanting to kill his opponent and not caring about anything else.
"It's my fault for not being able to block him," Cain shook his head while saying, "Julian's attack was unexpectedly powerful."
"It was me who failed to remind him."
Cain looked at Ellen's serious expression and smiled helplessly, extending a hand to help him tidy his cloak before walking towards Julian.
Julian couldn't hear what they were saying, he only saw Ellen's apologetic expression as he quietly explained something and then Cain shaking his head as he looked in his direction.
Julian's heart sunk like a rock.
–It's my fault.
Obviously at a distance of 20 yards, the crossbow's power is greater than a bow.
Yet Mr. Ellen had to protect me and even help me finish off what I started.
I shouldn't have run, all I had to do was reload and fire another bolt.
Even if I were to run, I shouldn't have been so flustered.
Julian, what on earth are you doing?
Throughout this whole journey, this was the first time you could be useful in a battle, yet all you did was drag your teammates down.
Cain walked over and patted his shoulder.
"There there, don't be sad. As a newbie, you already did pretty well. However, it's best if you're more careful; the crossbow's firepower's too high. It's easy to attract the enemy's attention."
"I understand, Mr. Frank." Julian replied distractedly, "I will keep that in mind."
'Rosanna' - shining as brightly as a radiant little star - your performance has been noticed.
As expected, if it were someone else besides me who was your wielder, you would certainly perform even better.
The ice beneath their feet melted at a speed visible to the naked eye, vanishing with the death of its master; evidently, this was an attribute of the magical enchantments placed down here. The frosty air had also slowly ebbed away.
Rowenna walked over.
"Many thanks for just now, Mr. Frank. Before the fight, I—"
Cain took a moment to react from his surprise, saying in a light tone, "No need for thanks, we're teammates after all."
Rowenna hesitated before nodding her head, her expression also became much warmer.
Ellen winked at Cain, and a grin rose on Cain's face.
"Alright, do we want to continue walking?" Cain asked, "Or should we take a break?"
"I'm not tired." Shelly replied.
"It's fine." Julian said.
Cain swept his gaze over the area, noticing that Rowenna's face was a little pale.
"Miss Silva, do you need to rest for a moment? It seems…"
"I'm fine," Rowenna stonily cut off Cain's words. "No need to treat me like a piece of glass, thank you."
Her tone had regained its previous indifference, causing Cain to feel at a slight loss.
"Let's take a short break." Ellen suddenly spoke up, "This place is chilly, I'm not too used to it."
Rowenna hesitated before replying, "There is a rest stop nearby, it's a five minute walk away."
Once again, she took the lead to guide the way. Cain no longer dared to go near her so he caught up with Ellen and kept silent as he walked.
"Ellen," Cain began in a soft voice after some time passed, "are you still cold?"
"I was never cold from the start," Ellen replied lightly, "but she does need rest."
"Eh…" Cain blanked out for a moment.
"Cain," Ellen chuckled lowly. "You don't interact with a lady often, do you?"
"It… it can't be called few," Cain stammered, "but I rarely meet women who are so…"
"Women who can remain unmoved when faced with a handsome young knight?"
"Ellen… please don't tease me." Cain's face was red.
"Even though Sistare has had several female monarchs," Ellen said, "Many men are unable to accept women having an equal, or even higher position than them."
"Oh, I've never thought this way before…"
"I know you haven't," Ellen replied, "but in the army where majority of the soldiers are men, this issue is especially prevalent. Of those that take special care of these women, few are doing it out of the kindness of their heart. If it's not to take the chance to cultivate some feelings, it's out of a sense of superiority, the thinking that these women are naturally weaker and thus should be treated differently."
"Heavens." Cain sighed. "Can it be all of you feel that accepting protection is humiliating? If this goes on I'll begin to suspect I chose the wrong career…”
"As teammates? There's nothing wrong with that. But as a teammate's burden- that's another story altogether." Ellen responded, "However, this is not your fault. Though she can't be blamed for being overly sensitive about this either."
"Even so, I still feel quite dismayed. Really."
"Cease worrying about it," Ellen smiled. "Just leave this to me to handle."
TN: Hi all! I’ve decided to pick up The Unicorn Legion as I absolutely love this novel, and this year’s going to be a busy busy year for me so I’m looking for a novel with simpler and shorter chapters to translate. Rest assured I haven’t given up on Jellyfish yet but it’s going to be slower from now on.