With a deep breath, Klein opened his menu, and offered a friend request.
“Hmm.” Stheno stepped into the light, and Klein jerked his gaze down-
Wait. Wait a minute. Did I see-?
A clawed finger tapped Yes.
<<Stheno the Fierce has been added to your friends list.>>
“You may look at me.”
Klein took the opportunity to do just that. Platinum wire and obsidian lenses, medieval style, but- “You were wearing sunglasses the whole time?”
Stheno chuckled, one hand poised on a silk-skirted hip. “You should have seen the look on your face!”
“Aoneko?” Kirito asked later.
Klein breathed in the green air outside the cave, kind of relieved that Stheno had retreated into the darkness with an ominous smirk and a mutter of girl talk, heh heh heh….
Now they stood on a grassy hilltop with a good view of the cave mouth and the low, wet marsh leading away from it, seven relieved warriors drinking in the sunlight. Dragonflies thrummed through the air; one intrepid green-and-blue flyer perched on Dynamm’s helmet to munch a mosquito, before taking off again.
“The youkai lord who adopted me into his clan,” Issin answered. “It was a quest reward, we think. I don’t know if any other party’s done <<The Cat’s Up a Tree>> yet.”
“The background information said it could be possible,” Kirito mused. “Are you okay… no, never mind, you don’t have to talk about it-”
“You know, you’re the first guy outside Fuurinkazan to even ask?” Issin scratched his head, claws lightly tugging apart a stray snarl of hair. “I think I am. It’s kind of weird, hearing so much. And the scents… whoof.” He shrugged. “I’m getting used to it. At least I can dive into a fight with a lycan without worrying about anything but my HP.”
“Then other people will be trying to get… adopted.” Jaw set, Kirito looked out over the marsh.
“For a while there, I was wondering if you had been,” Issin admitted. “The first day after Aoneko touched me with the Bloodstone, I still looked pretty human, even if I felt a little weird. It was the second day that stuff got freaky.”
And that had been a handful and a half, Klein recalled, dealing with a friend suddenly as clingy as a scared kitten.