Chapter 38: Flames dancing in the snow
One of Ren’s feet lands on the wooden floorboards of the suspension bridge.
Soon both feet are on it, and further on, Fiona also has a foot on the suspension bridge. The young lady, who until recently had been sickly, would never have experienced anything like this.
(I wonder if she’ll be all right.)
After Ren and the others, adventurers, knights, and the remaining students also advanced.
From the front and behind, the anxious voices of the boys and girls reached us faintly.
But no sign of this came from Fiona, who was right behind Ren, reaching for his coat.
Turning around to see if she was afraid, Ren almost doubted his own eyes.
Fiona noticed that Ren had turned his head, and she looked exactly the same as she had before they had gone over the suspension bridge.
“Nothing. Fiona-sama, you don’t seem afraid at all.”
“Yes. I’ll be fine. I have an adventurer protecting me now—-“
Fiona suddenly scoffed at herself.
“I used to spend my days going to bed, waking up, and not knowing if I would live to see the next day. Compared to those days, there is nothing to be afraid of.”
As she walks along the suspension bridge, she reminisces about those painful days.
At some point, Ren’s coat, which should have been pulled and taut, loosened, and Fiona was a little closer to Ren than before.
The suspension bridge creaks and squeaks incessantly.
The long suspension bridge eventually reached its center. Some people who had already crossed the bridge were just beginning to arrive.
Then Ren stopped here.
Fiona stopped here as well.
“What was that…..?”
“Was that wind….?”
The wind was one that froze everything and the other that was filled with heat, reminding us of the remnants of war.
The two touched their cheeks in the same gesture as if they were looking at themselves in a mirror. They rubbed their cheeks repeatedly to confirm the existence of the mysterious wind that caressed their cheeks.
Ren and Fiona, almost at the center of the suspension bridge, furrowed their brows as the distance between them and the knights who were moving onward grew shorter.
Those who had been advancing behind them were now right behind them.
It was Ren who was the first to notice something unusual—-
He gently swallowed hard at the red light he saw at the bottom of the canyon.
“…… take my hand.”
Fiona didn’t ask why, but responded to Ren’s impending voice. She put her own hand on Ren’s without hesitation, and he, without hesitation, squeezed her hand back tighter.
This time, there was no purple lightning like before.
Ren ran without a pause.
“—- Run! Quickly!”
He shouted back and forth in sudden encouragement, warning the knights and adventurers who had moved away from him.
The knights and adventurers turned around and raised their eyebrows at Ren’s demeanor, but when they saw his panicked appearance, they all started to run at once.
The anomaly came at about the same time.
It was a heat wave.
Heat waves surged up from the bottom of the canyon, mixing with the snowstorm and reaching the cheeks of the group as they proceeded along the suspension bridge. A red light shone on everyone from below.
“Hurry up! Something’s wrong here!”
“Hey! What’s going on? You adventurers know what’s going on!?”
“I don’t know! If you know it’s dangerous, don’t worry about it and just run!”
The ghastly voices echoed in front of and behind Ren.
A blizzard of snow quickly enveloped the area around them, just as the heat wave had done. The suspension bridge shook. Not by the blizzard, but by some other effect.
Fiona’s breathing reaching his back was disordered.
He could also hear the desperation caused by nervousness.
“Is this also part of the final exam?”
“Uh… You must never stop! Never!”
The impassioned voice of the knight escorting a student.
There are no more students in awe of the swing of the suspension bridge or the perpendicular view.
Fearful of the heat waves reaching their cheeks and the irregular swaying of the red light….., they were thinking only of getting out of this suspension bridge as soon as possible.
But things didn’t go as planned.
A vortex of flames extending from the bottom of the canyon swirls through the air, creeping and crawling.
It approached Ren and Fiona, scattering red flames as it approached them, and it approached them from the opposite side of the air, claiming the presence of several of them as they looked around.
Fiona held out her hand and released a blast of cold air colder than the open air into the vortex of flame.
The vortex of flame, which had lost its fury, quickly regained its momentum and attacked the two in the blink of an eye in its original form.
The vortex of creeping flames increased in size and attacked the two.
…… No, not the two of us.
(What are these flames……it’s as if they are aiming only at her……)
Ren had his doubts, but he was convinced that this prediction was correct.
The new vortex of flame, in addition to the previous one, if you look closely, the tip of the flame is aimed at Fiona, rather than at Ren.
But this wasn’t the time to worry about that.
“Run—run–run—- I said run faster!”
The adventurer’s voice rings out.
The blizzard and heat waves made it somewhat difficult to hear, but I could sense his impatience.
Ren and the others, who hadn’t stopped running but were now running even faster, were out of breath as they tried to pass the suspension bridge.
We’re almost through the suspension bridge.
Some of the group in front of them had already passed through the suspension bridge.
—- But Ren was forced to stop.
Fiona’s weak voice.
Suddenly, a strange pressure separating Ren and Fiona’s hands shook the space.
Ren, who had put all his strength into his hand holding hers, never letting go, was certainly not letting his guard down.
And yet, their hands parted.
A red wind passed between them, as if the blizzard were a wind monster with a will.
Fiona’s body was taken by the wind and sent flying over the railing of the suspension bridge and into the air.
It was as if an invisible force had forced her away.
At the same time, a powerful explosion sound echoed from a distance, and lava soared up.
Ren felt the presence of something in it.
There was definitely a sense that a much more vicious strength reached out to him than the true maneater that Jerukku showed at the end, and it was hard not to think so.
“Tsu— Adventurer-san!!— Ad—”
I reach out my hand. But it doesn’t reach her.
My fingertips and that of Fiona who’d been thrown in the air lightly brushed past each other.
…… Ren doesn’t hesitate and leans his body over the railing as well.
“This …… what the hell is going on….!”
Then, he himself threw his body into the air.
At first I tried to help Fiona with nature magic with the wooden magic sword, but I stopped as soon as I saw the whirlpool of flames that loomed over her back. The swirl of flames was coming from above, below, left and right to envelop Fiona, so when I used natural magic, it would burn it out.
Instead, I summoned my shield magic sword.
Realizing that without it, I could no longer protect her.
“I’m going to be selfish, but please forgive me —-!”
Ren embraces Fiona’s body and without a moment’s pause, uses the power of the shield magic sword.
The shield of magic power that he created in the air enveloped himself and Fiona and protected them from the oncoming whirlpool of flames.
“Please …… freeze!”
Fiona also exercised her magic.
She released cold air as before and suppressed the flames that attacked the magic shield.
While doing this, the two of them fall. They were quickly moving away from the suspension bridge toward the bottom of the canyon.
The knight’s voice reaches them. But there was nothing they could do.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the adventurers and knights who had passed through the suspension bridge take the students with them.
Meanwhile, Ren, too, is struggling to deal with the vortex of flames.
He gasps when he sees the magical shield on the verge of collapse.
(I could have taken the steel-eating gargoyle’s thrust so squarely.)
This flame is more than that. Then it’s definitely not just a flame.
But eventually, the swirl of flame reduces its momentum, and the red light reaching from the bottom of the canyon turns weak.
I don’t know the reason for this, but this should allow us to return home.
With the power of the wooden magic sword I had summoned at the same time, I stretched out the ivy and returned —- to the suspension bridge, and that was all I needed to do.
“Wha—Damn —- damn ……!”
The remaining vortex of flame hit the suspension bridge and burned out where they were before they were thrown into the air.
The vortex of flame exploded as it was, splitting the suspension bridge in two. It began to sag according to gravity, and the knights who had been worried about Ren and the others held on to the suspension bridge in a panic.
There were no more students on the bridge.
The bridge had been crossed by adventurers and knights, so only a few knights and adventurers were caught by the bridge.
(This would burn out the ivy of natural magic…!)
The ivy cannot extend forward.
Then, how about the suspension bridge that leads back to the fort?
(We can go there. It’s longer and closer to the ground, but as long as I can hold on, I should be able to do something with my power. —-!)
There’s no vortex of flames approaching behind the suspension bridge.
This way, I can deliver the ivy and get a grip. At least it would be much better than falling to the bottom of the canyon.
If the vortex of flame reached there too, we would have to think about it then.
“I’ll definitely send you back safe and sound!”
Fiona immediately responded to that.
“Yes! I’ll leave everything to you, adventurer-san—-?”
Before they could finish their reply, the two of them looked ahead, to the left and to the right. The swirling flames and scattered lava from the bottom of the canyon turned the area red.
It was almost at the same time that Ren exercised his nature magic.
“Make it in time!”
Worried about the safety of the knights trapped on the suspension bridge, Ren swings his wooden magic sword to protect Fiona.
When I looked into Fiona’s face to see if she was trembling while I was holding her in one arm, she was leaning strongly against my arms, even though her lips were tightly tied.