The third person Gamud picked was the female archer that had joined Rashid in making fun of Dewfo. We used the time she spent approaching to glance over at the man we’d defeated in a matter of moments.
「Oh my, what a beautiful looking cut.」
「God damn, that hurts.」
「Come on, stop struggling. Get a grip already. Aren’t you supposed to be a man?」
「Gyaaaah! Stop hitting me damn it…!」
「And now you’re just exaggerating. Geez.」
The impression I got from the villager auntie made me feel like she was the type to tell the adventurers that their wounds would heal so long as they just spat on them or something, but that wasn’t actually the case. She was doing her job properly and fixing them up with Greater Heal.
Rashid’s arm was honestly a pretty terrible sight. Blood was flowing out of it nonstop. The villager auntie, however, remained unphased. She simply did her job and treated the wound with a smile. Her actions truly served to evidence that, despite her appearance, she really did have the heart of a former B ranked adventurer.
Naria turned her head towards Red, as if to ask him to verify the results of his appraisal, to which he responded by shaking his head from left to right. His expression demonstrated clear surprise. He simply didn’t understand why Fran’s abilities differ so greatly from what was written on her stat page.
「Her name’s Naria. Begin!」
Despite being confused, Naria managed to leap backwards the moment the match began. It seemed that witnessing Fran demolish both Dewfo and Rashid had been enough to at least push her to action. She raised her bow and attempted to aim it in the Black Lightning Princess’ direction, but her attack was flat out rejected before it could even be unleashed.
The distance between the two fighters had already been completely erased.
「Dammit! She’s so fast! Gyaah!」
Naria, like Rashid, lost in an instant. She too lost her right arm in a single, momentary engagement.
Next up was a larger man that went by the name Miguel. Unlike his colleagues, he was wearing a rather earnest expression. He was probably the first of the bunch to really take fighting Fran seriously.
He too gazed at Red for verification, but, the appraiser was no longer capable of providing anything more than just a pale-faced nod.
「The name’s Miguel.」
Though Miguel came at Fran more seriously than the rest of his buddies, his attack still seemed to be lacking in sincerity. He had clearly recognized that Fran had something that prevented Red from seeing her real stats, but he must’ve still held back because he judged Fran based on the way she looked. To that end, his attack almost seemed to be lacking in power.
It seemed to me that giving both Red and Miguel a good shock was probably what we needed to do to get rid of the adventurers’ hesitation.
To that end, Fran raised me and challenged the blow Miguel had delivered with his greatsword head on. She locked blades with her opponent and held me in place without budging regardless of how hard he pushed.
She began pushing back after a brief pause, sending both him flying through the air. He wasn’t able to resist her. All he could do was get knocked on his ass.
Neither Miguel nor Red could believe their eyes. They hadn’t thought that it’d be possible for her to block the attack head on, let alone overpower Miguel and push him back given the stats that showed up on her page.
Of course, that wasn’t all. There was still much more to come.
Seeing Fran cast Lightning Magic caused Red to let loose a surprised shout. The skill didn’t show up on Fran’s stat page, so, as far as he knew, there was no way it was possible for her to cast it.
Fran kicked Miguel; she smashed her leg into his face and sent his paralyzed body tumbling several meters back.
And that was that. Miguel stopped moving altogether. He didn’t even twitch. Red, however, rose to his feet. He was stunned, but still managed to squeeze out a question out of his now-dry throat.
「What’s the matter, Red?」
Gamud’s response came in much clearer a tone than Red’s. The situation seemed to have developed the exact way he’d wanted it to.
「T-Tell me, Mr. Gamud. Just who the hell is this brat!?」
「I’m not sure how you want me to answer.」
「M-My Appraisal skill looks like it’s acting up. It’s telling me that her level’s low, that she can’t use magic, and that she’s got no strength at all. How the hell is she that strong!?」
Seeing Red express his confusion caused Gamud to break out into a grin.
「So you don’t know who she is?」
「Why would I!?」
「She’s a Black Catkin girl that can cast lightning magic, and one that’s strong enough to instantly beat down Dewfo, Rashid, Naria, and Miguel. Do you really have no idea who she is? What about the rest of you? You got any clues at all?」
The only response Gamud got was silence. He’d given them a pretty big hint, so I’d been expecting at least one of them to guess that Fran was the Black Lightning Princess, but it never happened. None of them were capable of answering his question at all.
Realizing that led Gamud to heave a heavy sigh.
「Haah… This is why you guys are still stuck where you are.」
「You guys started getting cocky the moment you amassed even the slightest bit of strength. You never gather intelligence anymore, and just leave your success up to fate or chance. You rely too much on Appraisal, you don’t have the ability to judge just how strong someone is without it. And worst of all, you can’t even get yourselves ready for battle even when there’s a clear starting signal.」
Gamud immediately began pointing out the flaws shared by the adventurers he’d taken under his wing. The whole reason that he’d bothered with having us join him today was so he could leave a dent in the group’s pride, so one could say that it was this precise moment that served as the whole session’s climax.
He reintroduced Fran to the adventurers, who’s silent expressions betrayed nothing but a sort of awkward displeasure.
「Fran is better known by the nickname, The Black Lightning Princess. She’s a C ranker that participated in this year’s tourney and won herself a spot on the podium by taking down several A rankers.」
Though Fran’s nicknamed failed to ring any bells, the group appeared rather surprised nonetheless. The reason for this seemed to be that they knew just how difficult getting onto the podium was.
「And yes, I’m talking about the exact tournament that you all got kicked from a few years ago. I know for a fact that not a single one of you even made it past the preliminaries.」
「You have to be kidding me!」
「Right, I do remember hearing a few rumours about something like that happening.」
「Yeah, but isn’t she a Black Catkin?」
「I can’t believe the lot of you. You would’ve been able to recognize her immediately if you just gathered intel by talking to a few local merchants.」
The exasperated tone in which Gamud complained led the adventurers to hang their heads in shame. They knew that he was right. They’d gotten themselves totally wrecked because they hadn’t bothered keeping up to date on recent events.
「And again, don’t rely on Appraisal. Some skills will allow people to either disguise their stats or totally the Appraisal skill its functionality altogether.」
「Never forget, the world is vast. There’s always someone stronger than you somewhere out there. If you’re not on…」
Gamud continued to ramble on and on. He didn’t stop until the healer lady started to yawn out of sheer boredom.
Personally, I’d found his lecture fairly useful. Most of the stuff he said was obvious, but even the most obvious facts were often overlooked unless they were put into words and clearly expressed. Their current wasn’t one that we were unlikely to ever find ourselves in, after all.
The battles we fought in Ulmutt’s arena had taught us caution. The lecture covered similar topics, but more so seemed to be centered around the basics of adventuring.
「Whew. Sorry for making you wait.」
「I’ve covered most of what I wanted to cover, but could you keep sparring with them? They could use the experience, especially against someone as strong as you.」
Fran fearlessly grinned.
The adventurers she was pit against had lost the ability to laugh and jeer the way they had when they were first introduced to her. Their expressions had instead been warped in fear. To them, it must’ve seemed like they’d been thrown right into the jaws of a beast.