“Not going to try for the last attack bonus?” Harry smirked as they got nearer.
Kirito arched a skeptical brow. Ow.
“Hell, no,” Klein groaned. “Somebody else can finish it off.” He looked over his guild; Dale sharing a waterskin with Kunimittz, Harry poking an NPC’s bandage, Issin waiting for them with a wry look and a couple of potions. And a little ways off, Tae fussing over Dynamm’s bandaged chest.
Klein shook his head, a goofy grin softening his face. “Got all the bonus I need, right here.”
“Damn straight.” Issin gripped Kirito’s shoulder. “Sit.”
Not worth arguing about. Kirito sat down carefully, even when his knees wanted to fold like overcooked noodles. He heard shattering polygons, cheering….
He glanced back in time to see Stheno summon a blinding ball of sunfire, shattering Pollista’s statue into lifeless shards.
“It’s over.” Kirito sagged back against Issin’s hands, wanting nothing more than to crawl into the Mistfeathers’ hayloft and not come out for a week. “And we still need to find the Lignum Wood.”
Why was half of Fuurinkazan grinning at him?
“Guys?” Klein slugged back some water, giving his guild a look askance. “Want to clue us in?”
“Wasps.” Kunimittz pointed at the comb.
“Paper,” Dynamm added, leaning on Tae’s shoulder with feathers brushing his face. “I bet we’ve got just enough left over.”
Klein gaped. “…All right.”
We found the next quest item. Here. Kirito shuddered.
Klein gave him a wary look. “We haul off the comb, distill the oil, get the last mat, and finish the quest. What’s wrong?”
Kirito shook his head, trying not to think too hard. Because if he started thinking about the psiwasps being a planned part of this quest, he’d start screaming. And that wouldn’t help anyone. “This encounter. It wasn’t balanced.”
“Kind of noticed.” Kunimittz shivered. “She was purple.”
“Who was- Pollista?” Kirito said quickly, trying to recover.
Not quick enough, from the twitch of Tae’s ears. “She wasn’t purple to you, was she?” the archer said quietly. “That’s why your venom could hurt her. If we hadn’t had that to help us take down the hive….” She swallowed hard.
No, no, no! Don’t depend on me. Don’t ever depend on me. “The youkai lords showed up. That’s what made the difference,” Kirito said harshly. “Without that healing spell we’d never have taken Pollista down. Not at our level. Kayaba… SAO hasn’t done that before. Encounters are balanced. If you’re high enough level to clear a floor, you should be high enough to survive a quest in it. This quest was leveled wrong.”