Deep in the forest, there was a craggy area that jutted out, pushing through the trees.
Ferris’ group of three slowly climbed up the craggy hill.
There were slopes where you could fall dozens of meters if you stepped off, and cliffs so high that you had to look up.
The three of us were sweating in the humid space, with hazy mist drifting around them. Even though it looked like a hill, it was now almost resembling a mountain, and the girls’ physical strength would not allow them to go very far.
Alicia looked at Ferris filled with concern.
「 Are you okay? You look like you’re in a lot of pain…….」
「 I, I’m alright! it’s not that hard!」
With that reply, she shook her head, but Ferris was breathing heavily.
「 I, I can give you a piggyback ride! Now, come on over!」
Jeanette hurriedly squatted down in front of Ferris and offered to give her a piggyback ride.
「 Jeanette-san has changed a lot since the old days……. I didn’t expect her to be such a person who wants to take care of someone else…….」
Alicia murmured, as she looks at Jeanette.
Jeanette blushed in reaction.
「 Is, isn’t it fine this way! When I see Ferris like this, I just can’t leave her alone! What’s wrong with something like this for her!?」
Alicia chuckles in response.
「 I don’t mean to make you feel bad about it. AI also would have done so myself.」
「 Yo, you, don’t just say that we are thinking the same way!」
Jeanette turned her head away after replying.
Ferris smiled as she was enveloped in the hospitality of these two people.
It was a little embarrassing to be treated like a child, but it made her very happy to be loved by the two people she likes.
The three of them climbed to the top of the hill and looked around warily.
「 The Gazulla haven’t showed up yet……」
「 Hmm, according to the book that I’ve read, it should be living around this area……」
「 Are you sleepy?Let’s finish having a meal first!」
Ferris took out some portable food from her pack bag as if she was on a picnic.
It was then that a tremor ripped through the surrounding area, and the top of the hill, and the ground, exploded.
Earth and sand scattered, and a large tube-like creature erupted from underground.
It was exactly then that……
「It, it’s, a giant earthwormmmmmmmm!!!!」
Ferris let out a heartfelt scream.
It was a giant worm that was several meters long.
It wriggled its slimy purple body and dripped filthy mucus from her mouth.
And what is noteworthy the most is the smell it released.
There was a sickening smell of decay, as if leftovers and dead bodies had been mixed together to breed the worst kind of stench in the air.
「 Th, this is…… was there a monster that is more powerful than any others living in this place……」
Jeanette said in a stiffened voice.
Alicia clenched her fist in response.
「 No, that is Gazulla. If you beat that, you’ll get 1,000 points. Let’s go for it!」
「 I, I will do my best……」
Ferris shuddered as she replied.
「 Ferris? What’s the matter? You’re in a terribly releasing cold sweat.」
「 I, Wow, I don’t like earthworms…. When I was digging for magic rocks in the mine, I once fell into a cave full of worms. …… I was soaked in their presence for three days and three nights struggling until I could finally escape, and I was soaking wet from their disgusting mucus…….」
Her eyes were no longer focused.
It was easy for Jeanette and Alicia to see how frightened she must have been.
Jeanette clenched her fists, thinking that this was the time to show Ferris her good side.
「 Don’t worry, Ferris, We’ve got your back!」
「 Ah 」
「 Uwah 」
In front of Jeanette and Alicia’s eyes, Ferris was suddenly swallowed whole by the giant worm.
「 Fe, Ferrisーーーーーーーーーー!?」
Jeanette and Alicia’s screams echoed through the air.
Gazulla swung its torso with a maneuverability that was unimaginable for its huge body, and blew them away.
The two rolled on the ground, hugging their wands, and immediately spring back to their feet.
From within Gazulla’s belly, Ferris’s voice could not be heard in any way.
Jeanette and Alicia turned pale quickly.
「 Ferris is! Ferris has been eaten by Gazulla! My Ferris isss!!!」
「 Wait, wait, wait, Calm down! We’ll be fine if we get her out of there, right away! I mean Ferris should be more than capable enough to defeat Gazulla and escape on her own.……」
Alicia judged, that aiming at Gazulla would be useless, and was thinking and that attacking it from inside would be a better choice.
「 Can we really escape if you get inside that!?」
「 If she is not fainted she should be able to get us out!?」
「 But if we can’t do something inside, we’ll be digested! What are you going to do?」
「 I don’t know what to do! What do we do? What do I do?」
Jeanette and Alicia is starting to panic.
She held her chest and take a deep breath. Then Alicia’s expression tightened.
「 Right now we have to work together in order to save Ferris. 」
「 Yes, you’re right. I’m unwilling to cooperate with a rival, but I can’t help it if it’s for Ferris! 」
They clasped hands as a sign of mutual understanding.
（ Hmm…… What is this feeling……）
Jeanette felt a tickle in her chest and quickly withdrew her hand.
A hot stream of blood burns deep inside her body, and courage started to spring up. It reminds her that she must also fight to be as good as her rivals and not be ashamed of herself.
「 Okay, let’s go! 」
「 Eh, yeah! I’ll be going! 」
They grabbed their wands and started running towards Gazulla.
「 O wind that flies in the sky, O silent, transparent blade, be my strength and cut through the wriggling enemy– Slicing Edge! 」
A kamaitachi is released from Jeanette’s staff after she chanted.
「 Droplets of flame, burning power. …… Follow my will and avenge me from my enemy – Bullet Flame!」
Flames erupt from Alicia’s staff after she chanted.
Kamaitachi and the flames hit Gazulla, but the enemy doesn’t even nudge from the hit.
It let out a high-pitched roar, gaining more momentum and sending its torso into a rage.
It was then that the ground cracked, as earth and sand was being spewed out, and a roaring wind blew.
The two of them were blown away without any way to resist, and were sent flying through the air uncontrollably.
Jeanette’s heart froze when she saw the precipice where her body have been blown away.
She tried to land as properly as she could, but she couldn’t even get herself into the right position.
Her body fell off the cliff, and she was about to fall off.
And then Jeanette’s arm was grabbed, and a jolt was sent throughout her body.
After looking back at the hand, she saw Alicia holding onto the edge of the cliff with her right hand and was desperately clutching Jeanette’s arm with her left.
「 Go, Goudenbert-san!?」
「 I’ll……pull you, up for a bit… so hold on tight……and don’t move around too much……」
Alicia’s right hand, that gripping the cliff, slowly slips away.
There was no way for her to be able to pull up the weight of two people.
Blood seeped from her fingernails, which were clinging against the rock, and her slender fingers were definitely slowly slipping down from the weight.
Jeanette then shouts.
「 That, that’s enough! Just let go of me already!」
「 I won’t let that happen! You’re going to die!」
Alicia’s hand slid down even further.
「 This is my fault! I don’t need you, my rival, to help me! Don’t worry about me, and save Ferris! 」
「 I don’t want to!」
「 Why are you doing this!?」
Jeanette grits her teeth out of frustration.
They would both die in vain in this. Even if she died, she didn’t want her rival to die as well.
She wants her rival to survive as an honorable person who defeated her. Otherwise, she would have felt like a for losing.
Thinking about this, Jeanette realized how important Alicia Goudenbert was to her.
Without Ferris, there would be no sweetness, no sparkle in the world.
However, without Alicia, Jeanette’s heart would not be burning, and her life would not be as bright as it is.
As if in response to Jeanette’s feelings, her rival whispered to her.
With sweat beads on her forehead, and her arms trembling.
「 Of course, I want to help Ferris. Because I love Ferris. But ……Jeanette-san. But ……Jeanette-san, I don’t want you to disappear, either, since you have been competing with me for so long. I want you to continue to be my …… favorite opponent. 」
「 Alicia……san 」
Jeanette felt a tightening sensation in the back of her throat.
She wondered why, her vision became cloudy.
Jeanette was at a loss, tossed about by her incomprehensible emotions.
But…… right now.
This is not the time to be confused. It’s not a time to be weak.
In order to save Ferris, she must save herself.
「…… Please, Alicia. Please, Alicia, let me hold onto the edge of the cliff. 」
「 Okay, I got it!」
Jeanette and Alicia lend each other a hand as they struggled climbing back up the cliff.
Jeanette had never felt more reassured than she did right now, even though there was a horrible void under her feet.
They climbed up the cliff at the same time, and put their hands on the ground side by side.
They were both breathing hard and looked at each other at the same time.
「 Let’s go, Jeanette!」
「 yeah, Alicia!!」
They leapt to their feet, staffs at the ready, and sprinted towards the Gazulla.
They lay their wands on top of each other, combining their magical powers and aligning their words and spirits.
Their skirts fluttered as their magic overflowed.
「「 Wind, fire, the power of two! Be our sword and destroy our enemy! Flame Storm!!!!」」
A magical cannonball shot from their wands, striking the Gazulla and exploding.
A spectacular tornado of fire was then created, sending Gazulla’s massive body into a furious spin.
Gazulla rolls its eyes and spits Ferris’ body out of its mouth.
Ferris, who had fallen to the ground in a heap, regained consciousness and her eyes fluttered.
「 Fueh……? What, what have I been doing all this time…… 」
Her gaze pointed towards the Gazulla, that was rushing towards her.
Ferriss who was startled, jumps up in surprise and shock.
She then held up her hands and shouted at the top of her voice.
「 I hate worms! Please don’t come near me!!!! 」
A huge mass of magic power was released from Ferris and flew through the air, heating the air incandescently.
It spun, tore through the ground, piercing Gazulla’s massive body.
A blast that seemed to shake the earth.
Jeanette and Alicia reflexively embrace and support each other from the aftershock.
Gazulla’s body bursts in half and was slams into the ground. The demon immediately stopped moving and turning into a silent wreck.
Ferris wiped her forehead, looking somewhat refreshed. Her entire body was sticky and slimy with the Gazulla’s bodily fluids, but she didn’t seem to notice.
Jeanette asked timidly after snapping back to reality.
「 Fe, Ferris……? Are you alright……?」
「 hai! Earthworms are actually not that scary! I feel like I’ve overcome something! 」
「 Shock therapy!?」
Alicia’s eyes widened.
Ferris looks at Jeanette and Alicia…… with the two still holding each other, she tilts her head and asked.
「 Are……? When did Alicia and Jeanette-san become such good friends?」
It was only when she was told them that Jeanette realized that she was still hugging Alicia.
Her blood rushed throughout her body, and she immediately jumped away from Alicia.
「 This, this, this is nothing! It’s not like that, I’m, I’m definitely not, I’m not getting along with you!」
She shouted in a fluster.
Seeing Jeanette reacting like that, she couldn’t help but smile and giggle from her reaction.