Her attack barely missed Elma-san, but I can’t possibly heave a sigh of relief.
After all, she started running again, not towards me.
「Eriko, listen to me! Come back to face me fair and square! 」
My voice couldn’t reach her, and she went for another swing at a feeble Elma-san.
Why, wasn’t it going to be a battle between the good and evil, between both of us only?
『Hhh–hhhhollyyy shieeeeeeeet she’s crazy! 』
『That’s Elma-chan! Not a person you kill even if she’s your enemy! 』
『Eriko’s another adventurer after all!?』
『This is adventurer? That kind of howling a human? 』
Someone so dear to me transforming into a beast that attacks anything that moves. To put it in words, a nightmare, a vivid and virtual nightmare.
「Come quickly Onee-san! I can’t go on already! 」
Elma-san was getting pushed into a corner. There’s no space for her to escape.
Not good, if I can’t stop her with the resolve of crushing her head, Elma-san will die from Eriko’s hands.
But, she’s more than ten meters out of my magic hammer range, by the time I get there…….
「The odds are terrible for a bet…… this is? 」
Taking a step forward, my feet accidently kicked Eriko’s trump card, the 【Sun Gun】.
Isn’t this the fastest way I can make a move in this desperate situation?
「Using the humans’ power, I’ll put you to the ground! 」
Although Eriko could only use it at short range with her proficiency, I can easily snipe accurately at this distance.
It landed on her right leg and caused her to tumble.
With this, she shouldn’t be able to move for a bit.
「Elma-san run to the right! 」
To the right, if she makes it to me, I can better guarantee her safety.
「Eriko! I always respected you, but howling like a beast like that, you’re being really pathetic! 」
I was on the verge of panicking, or rather, I did. But thanks to a series of quick judgments, I managed to insert myself between them.
Her focus returned to me. I’ll be in control as long as I can keep her eyes off Elma-san.
I swung the magic hammer to meet Eriko’s horizontal slash and cancel it out.
Something that only looks like Eriko, is nothing at all!
「Muguguuu, I’m losing out in strength? 」
Not good, I will be the one to be crushed if I faced her attacks from the front.
Having only one arm’s strength is making it worse.
If I dodged or tried to kite her away, there’s a chance she would target Elma-san for God knows what reason. There’s no option but to face her directly.
「UUUUURRAA!! UGGHHARAAA!! 」
There’s nothing worse than lacking the power to resolve this situation on my own.
Either way, if I don’t think of the best strategies now, this will definitely be where I die.
Should Elma-san be evacuated to the spectator seats first?
No, the risk of both of us getting split in half being in the same place is one thing, if Eriko chases us up to the spectator seats, the situation doesn’t change at all.
Break Skill? If I can’t defeat her in that time and if the cost lands on my right hand, that will really be my end.
The magic hammer is too heavy for me to use it by biting on it, and changing weapons won’t do either, her attacks are so powerful that only the hammer can barely match it.
「Eriko you! Haven’t you walked through many trials! 」
While fending off her attacks, I tried to call out to her anyhow.
All because of my hope that Eriko would miraculously return and respond with her usual kind voice.
「AAAAH! Kuh, please let it reach……」
My disabled arm took some damage. As expected of losing her rationality, she didn’t care at all for her wounded right leg, it’s annoying how there’s no pattern to her attacks at all.
In any case, it’s too strange. Even if Eriko did simulate the battle countless times and made plans for it, there’s no way this is in her expectations.
Even if she was so desperate to win that she’s willing to lose her reasoning, I can confidently say that she will never allow a situation where she will go for Elma-san.
After all, Elma-san had never fought, and Eriko is a person that would go to the extent of making sure any stray attacks doesn’t land on those that aren’t fighting.
『Shit’s going down, if RIO-sama dies, Elma-chan is gone too』
『Is this some suspense movie! My brain is getting screwed! 』
『Where Eriko’s party members』
『Dear God Buddha Deus Ex Machina! Someone go between Eririo and stop them pleaseeee! 』
Although she always charged forward if it had entertainment value, she properly knew where to draw lines.
That’s why I doubted whether this was what she planned.
Which is it, Eriko, is this a fight that you looked for!?
There were three people watching from a distance as Eriko rampaged and started threatening those that weren’t meant to be harmed.
「Ohohohohoho, what a beautiful sight」
Wearing a black robe with a green inner lining, the woman 【Speed Trick】 snickered.
「That’s right, that monstrosity to completely pulverize any “evil”. 」
On the other hand, wearing the same robe but an orange lining, 【ExStrength】, grinned while responding.
The two older women of Eriko’s party walked down the corridor to get away from Eriko, all while snickering among themselves.
「……You two, explain yourself. 」
But there was one other person that stopped them angrily.
【Shiranui Yui】 was clueless.
「Isn’t it obvious? Even if you asked for an explanation, there’s nothing more to explain. 」
「What dangerous buff you used on Eriko-chi! This isn’t just having a bad personality, this is pure evil! 」
Right, at a momentum as if grasping onto their collar.
「Non non non non non non, that’s utterly incorrect. 」
Despite being interrogated, both of them took it as serious as entertaining a playful pet.
「She was the one that came to us first, asking us to buff her stats to fill the gap. Being nice, we just agreed and fulfilled her wish? 」
They were clearly trying to play it off.
The two witches with the worst personality acted as if they already expected this happening.
「You knew Eriko-chi isn’t an adventurer who would hurt Elma-chan! 」
「Knew? That’s not a good way to put it. 」
Then, they applied pressure while surrounding Shiranui Yui.
「You’re saying we are the bad guys, aren’t you an accomplice too? Buffing her with us. 」
「Accomplice…… who would!? You two deceived me!! 」
「Oh, you’re being smart. I always heard how people hated your guts for saying whatever you liked. 」
「Oh dear, what a foolish girl. Since you helped with our schemes, no matter how you explain yourselves, there’s no way anyone will believe you? 」
「That’s, I never had that kind of……」
「Facts don’t care about your intentions. How about putting a hand on your chest, then thinking about it? 」
Being told so, Yui recalled what happened till now.
Because of her youngness, she often blurted out words before thinking, and she once unintentionally slandered the adventurer guild’s justice.
Wanting to brag about how she has access to important information within the guild that almost no others have, she almost leaked the information.
Still, when she was embraced by Eriko’s kindness when they met, she confessed all her failures that might as well be evil deeds.
Instead of being blamed, she was comforted with her hands grasped, and the streamer that was supposed to be someone out of her league became her equal friend in the virtual world.
Despite all of that, this happening was because of buffs. And Yui understood its significance.
「Am I, am I really the same with them, betraying Eriko-chi? 」
Her face turned white like dead man.
Just imagining the friend that forgave her everything look at her condemningly, the urge to run far away filled her.
But before she could even start running, the other two whispered into her ears.
「But it’s alright, Yui’s a smart girl, so we’ll help you out. Unlike people in society, we can properly keep your mistake a secret. 」
「So this matter is a secret between just us three, okay? 」
And those words, they were so sweet that it felt like drugs, to the point that she heard it echoing in her ears.
These two plotters were in fact the culprit of this matter.
In the first place, they already felt negatively towards “streamers” who are idolized excessively.
But they pushed and suppressed those burning thoughts within themselves, building trust with Eriko over a long time, just to trip her at the last moment.
When their patience bore fruit, when Eriko completely trusted them, one culprit secretly casted a buffing magic with the heinous side effect 《Dwelling Dead Beast (Berserk Monster Mind Parasite) 》, and the other casted a concealment magic (Hide selected abnormal status).
Dwelling Dead Beast is a conditional buff, when the host reaches critical health, it activates, resetting all abnormal status and fully recovering the host’s HP. A one in a million buffing magic that’s not much different from a resurrection magic.
However, in exchange of a great boost in attack power, the host is inflicted with the 《Super Berserk》 abnormal status, where controls are completely delegated to AI, a very dangerous state where the host can’t distinguish friends or foe.
The 「Super」 rank berserk status can only be dispelled upon death or duration expire.
It’s obvious enough to anyone that even if it was casted on a dying comrade, it will only worsen the situation, but what about the two women?
They waited for the perfect timing, when Eriko will disregard her beliefs and kill Elma, bearing all responsibility for it and mentally breaks down.
「Right, Yui should get out soon too. If you don’t want to be killed by a rampaging beast that is. 」
「That, or maybe slicing up Eriko when she becomes a fool. 」
「Either way, Yui is already one of us, so you’ll come with us, right? 」
「We’re saying this for Yui’s sake. All for our cute and adorable Yui-chan……」
Perhaps it’s scary, although with motives, they too acted to judge those to be judged, and save those to be saved, an adventurer like Eriko.
In other words, they too, had the kind heart to reach their hands to Yui.
But they didn’t feel any remorse that their buffs might kill an innocent girl.
After all, the one directly doing the killing is Eriko, and they aren’t the one to dirty their hands with blood.
「What is it, for what sake did you try to deceive Eriko-chi? 」
「Of course, for justice, is there any problem? 」
「That’s right, for the sake of promoting “justice”, some sacrifice can’t be helped. 」
「Kuh, you two aren’t people, you’re trash! 」
Even though it was impulsive, the more she scolded, the more she realized the only thing she can do is scold, and she ended up grinding her teeth.
Eriko might be the only benevolent adventurer in the whole virtual world.
But now that she lost control over her body, she will kill RIO and Elma without hesitation.
Especially, how RIO wasn’t performing at her best is an unexpected fortune.
Just like that, RIO will be brought to despair when she fails to protect Elma, combined with a death penalty, she will be less threatening than before.
As for Eriko, since she’s a responsible person, she will agonize over how she killed the person she should save.
And if the party members were to be praised for their achievement of quelling evil, they will soon realize their beliefs are powerless, and either quit the game or become insane from the trauma.
One stone three birds.
Understanding a person’s kind heart then making use of it cruelly, while unstaging an influencing streamer, they will take the credit for themselves.
Thungaring who made opportunity for them to approach Eriko declared neutrality in this matter, now they got the veteran adventurer Shiranui Yui’s weakness, the situation can’t be overturned.
「Ahaa, I envy that girl. If I were the one fighting, maybe I have a chance at toying with the evil too. 」
「Bye bye Eriko-san, you’re free now. Play well, being the toy that can be crushed any time. 」
The two who had already found a brighter future laughed loudly before going out the emergency exit.
「I will never forgive, never……! 」
Shiranui Yui too, she could do nothing but follow behind.
The three’s plan to remove “evil” was progressing smoothly.