However, while he could speak the words, Shane had no idea how to comfort the girl who was hugging him. As such, the Rune Knight General, usually composed in the face of death, was unsure of what he should do. His arms were slightly raised, awkwardly attempting to pat Katsumi on the back but he stopped a few centimeters from patting her and sighing inwardly at his social ineptitude, he just let his arms drop to the side. All he would do was just to stand there and let the young girl digest her emotions.
Shane had kept his silence when Katsumi had spoken about her broken relationship, unsure how he could contribute to stabilizing her emotions but when she finally touched on her suitability with the Special Ops division, he knew he had to say something. Her leaving the Spec Ops wasn’t that huge of a deal, but if for someone of her skill with the sword to leave the Rune Knights entirely, then it would be a rather huge loss on their part. Her contributions during the headquarters invasion and during this mission had shown him the more soldier-like side of her.
“Don’t worry too much about it. We’ll see how you wanna approach this subject when we return to the HQ. For now, I agree, let’s end this.”
The moment he had finished speaking, as though a spring, Katsumi abruptly released the grip around him and fell back to the ground instead. Shane’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. However, the surprise compounded into shock when his subordinate instantly switched positions, pushing herself low to the ground in an extremely formal method of apologizing. Instantly Shane dropped down on one knee and pulled the girl up from the ground.
“What? Are we in feudal times now? Or is this a new trend among youngsters that I’m not getting?” Shane commented with a hint of exasperation in his voice, as he stood back up while pulling Katsumi up by the elbow. When they were finally standing straight, Shane nodded his head in response to Katsumi’s comment.
“Everything can be a game if you just do it right,” Shane replied with a bright glint in his eyes. With a flick of his hand, Shane had already brought out one of the many melee weapons he had obtained through the code earlier. A sword appeared in his right hand, with an oriental appearance due to the slightly wider and also shorter blade compared to a regular longsword.
Shane swung it twice in front of him in a cross, leaving two afterimages of the sword in the wake of the slash due to his excessive speed and he nodded with satisfaction. With the strategy they were going for, he was actually going to be using a sword this time around instead of a gun or knife. Despite specializing in fighting with his fists and his guns, Shane was also trained in various weaponry and had even achieved considerable mastery in all of them.
Shane narrowed his eyes, a grim expression on his face as he prepped himself to face the last of his opponents for the day. It had been a long grind, the two Rune Knights having carried out their express leveling up plan as Shane pulled mob after mob of monsters, fending them off with his sword and shield so that he wouldn’t lose their aggro from running too much out of their reach while Katsumi would take them out with precise headshots while he fought defensively.
This particular monster hadn’t been on his list at all. The ruler of the treetops, the Steel Boa had stalked Shane for some time and when it saw that Shane was slowly getting slower and slower after the continuous strain of combat, the creature took the chance to strike. The Steel Boa had surprised him with an attack from the treetops, directly going for a huge bite with its large maw open as it shot down like a spear. Shane had only managed to get out of the way with a warning from Katsumi, and he had instantly dropped and rolled to the side as the Steel Boa’s jaws snapped shut where his head had been earlier.
The Rune Knight had immediately pounced to his feet after the roll, leading to the current situation where he eyed the Steel Boa. Enraged by the miss, the Steel Boa uncoiled itself further from the branches above and repeatedly struck at Shane with lightning quick strikes. Shane held his shield up one time after another as he made the most minute of movements in avoiding the attacks from the Steel Boa, metal crashing against metal. He was waiting for the opportune moment when the Steel Boa finally let its guard down.
After ten failed strikes, the Steel Boa charged forward once more this time opening its jaws much further than previous. Shane saw the chance he was waiting for and he charged forward as well. Holding up the shield in the path of the Steel Boa’s lunging bite, the Rune Knight managed to lodge the entire shield between the upper and lower jaws of the snake. Alarmed, the Steel Boa immediately tried to shake its head back and forth to dislodge the shield. Leaving it to its futile attempts, Shane hurriedly took two steps forward and with a two-handed grip, swung his sword right down on the body of the Steel Boa with a resounding clang.
It caused the Steel Boa to stagger as it completely fell to the ground and not too long after, a bullet whizzed through the air and punched right through one eye of the Steel Boa and exited from the other eye before lodging itself into the ground. With a final shudder, the Steel Boa stiffened and then collapsed to the ground. The shield stuck in its mouth was finally released when its jaws completely loosened, rolling on its side, coincidentally returning to Shane as it bumped into his leg and fell to the ground. Shane picked it up and then pressed his finger to his ear as well, a communication device lodged in the canal.
“I’m at… twenty six,” Shane replied after checking his stats with his other hand. “Definitely. I’m walking over now.”
When he finally returned to the camp that they had set up as the base of operations, Shane let out a huge breath and dropped down to the ground on his butt.
“I just thought of this. Does sleep work in this game? I could really take a short break before we do this,” Shane asked Katsumi as he watched her busily working on refilling their ammo reserves. While waiting for her reply, he took out his sword and took a look at its condition. The edges were already completely chipped with several cracks running along the blade. He turned his head to look at the shield and found similar signs of damage as well.
Shaking his head, Shane swung both items at each other and they immediately shattered, their durability already drawn to the limits.
“I’m gonna need a new shield and sword, Katsumi.”
[Shane's WC: 11161 / 14000]