“Damn it.” Agil rubbed the top of his shiny head, frustrated. “Field bosses don’t usually have hostages.”
“I’d kind of like to have a wizard fireball it too.” Klein looked over the dozen or so hastily-assembled clearers, and the even hastier map they’d drawn up in this clearing on a deer-path; hopefully far enough away from the nest that roving soldier psiwasps wouldn’t come looking. “But Kunimittz and Dynamm aren’t fireproof.”
“We should fix that.” A stocky Knight of Blood chuckled as he stroked his reddish beard; Godfree, Kirito thought his name was. “It’d make messes like this so much simpler.”
On the edge of the group with Kirito, keeping watch for stray mobs, Tae’s wings flared. She bared fangs-
“Don’t.” He kept his voice low as he almost touched her shoulder, but kept his hands in sight, away from vulnerable wings. “Save it for another time. When we have time, before we fight.”
“The NPCs aren’t fireproof,” Tae muttered. “And….” She swallowed, face pale.
“If there’s a nest, and they’re breeding, then they have to have taken other people. I know.” Kirito nodded. “Tinctoria Village had a lot of people go missing. I guess it wasn’t just the weretiger rogue…. We’ll get everyone out we can.”
Silver eyes flicked at him, haunted. “Even NPCs?”
“We’re all real here.” He wasn’t sure if a smile would help or not. “It’s the only way to stay sane.”
“All right!” Agil clapped his hands together, drawing everyone’s eyes to him. The merchant had cleared out Giant Wasp nests himself more than once, Kirito knew. It was a running joke among the clearers that the tough gray paper Agil kept his permanent ledgers on was the last remnant of some of the shop’s previous occupants. “Given the numbers Fuurinkazan took down without the psiwasps even blinking,” the axe-wielder stated, “there’s a lot of psiwasps. You look at the size they are and the size of that nest in the Giant Spruce, and there’s for damn sure not much room to maneuver inside. Anything we can’t lure out here is going to be close-quarters fighting in the dark….”
Kirito let Agil’s words roll over him. He already knew his part in the plan. It wasn’t the physical part of the fight that worried him.