Chapter 5:

Cat's Meow

The Society for the Study of Otherworldly Visual Culture

The morning of the following day, all seven of us were on our way to the nearby mountains. Aoi, Midoriya, and I were still less than enthusiastic about our attempt to slay a Lesser Dragon.

"You know, I think I get it," said Midoriya. "'Being weak is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you’re willing to fight,' but I am still a bit scared."

"Well," said Kiiro. "'It's better to be hated for what you are than to be liked for what you are not.' That said, just do your best and try not to die."

"Don't worry," said Murasakino. "I'll carry our team this time!"

"You?" questioned Orenji.

"Sure, 'who the hell do you think I am!?'" asked Murasakino.

"A useless weight that is responsible for me almost getting eaten by a King Toad," said Orenji.

"This is nothing like that time!" exclaimed Murasakino. "I'll show you! 'Let's go, this is the final battle'!"

The bickering continued for quite a while before we spotted a Lesser Dragon in the skies above us.

Midoriya, panicked at the sight, unilaterally started the battle by throwing a conjured fireball at the dragon; 'It was not very effective...'

Aka tried to salvage the situation with some ropes, but the dragon focused his fiery breath at them; 'It was super effective!'

Then, after burning away all of Aka's ropes, it shifted its full attention to the ants that dared to disturb it.

"Everyone, focus!" screamed Kiiro as she prepared a close-range light spell. "Aoi, Murasakino, follow the plan and support me!"

Murasakino created a defensive water wall around us.

The Lesser Dragon, after trying to zero in on us, was blinded by Kiiro's blending light.

Pushed around by strong wind currents, conjured by Aoi, it hit a rock formation.

That one didn't seem to faze it all that much either, and its roar resounded in our very bones moments later.

The next breath of fire evaporated parts of Murasakino's protective water wall, but to my astonishment, the one person I had judged to be the least ready for combat, besides Midoriya and me, turned out to be one of our aces in this fight, be it only for the elemental advantages granted in this matchup.

I was standing by as our emergency medic, with some potions, scrolls, and spells in reserve, healing some of Orenji's light burns, caused by the few embers that made it through Murasakino's water wall.

In the meantime, Aka had finished the incantation necessary for a compacter version of Unlimited Rope Works.

Her ropes and the Lesser Dragon caught in them were immediately drenched by a deluge of water originating from Murasakino, somewhat protecting them from another fiery breath of our opponent and buying us a few extra seconds.

"'EAT THIS!'" screamed Murasakino.

Meanwhile, Orenji had set up four stone golems that now held down the Lesser Dragon by pulling the ropes with all their weight in all cardinal directions.

The Lesser Dragon, still partially blind, confused, restrained, and drenched by water, was paralyzed by a series of lightning spells from Aoi.

It struggled and tried to free itself, but Aoi followed it up by electric discharge after discharge, until it finally collapsed.

No one of us could believe it at first.

Then Aoi broke the silence.

"I... I can't believe it, I won... I mean... we won. We defeated an actual dragon!" exclaimed Aoi victoriously.

"A Lesser Dragon... probably." corrected Orenji.

"A dragon is a dragon! Lesser or not, this wouldn't have worked out without our planning and teamwork. I think we can all be proud today." concluded Kiiro with a hint of relief.

"'Real warriors don’t show off, they quietly perfect their craft.'" said Midoriya.

"Shout up! You didn't do anything useful." retorted Aoi.

"It's not my fault that fire magic was pretty much useless in all of our encounters. The Toads skin was resistant, the cave would have blown up, and the dragon would have just been freed from the ropes with no damage to it." complained Midoriya.

"Calm down everyone. Could we just bask in our victory and not fight for five damn minutes, please!?" said Kiiro.

"Agreed," said Orenji. "With that, we have all major ingredients, and I got some connections to the Botanical Club that'll allow us to gather the remaining ones... probably."


After returning to Skyward Academy, Orenji and I made our way to securing the last remaining ingredients at the far side of the campus.

"He's usually behind the school at this time of day," said Orenji. "Feeding the strays. Too bad for him that the dorms don't allow pets. Anyway, I think if you let him pet you a bit, he might give us the remaining ingredients for a heavy discount, or maybe even for free."

"Is this coming from him, or do you project your delusions upon other people?" I asked.

"Hmpf," complained Orenji. "Just for your information, you might not have noticed it, but the catgirl is a universally beloved archetype."

"So it's your delusions then," I concluded. "Well, if it'll help me return to my normal self, I wouldn't mind a few head pats. As long as this person isn't a total creep about it."

As we walked around the last corner to the back of the school, it finally dawned on me as I saw the backside of the boy with short black hair who was kneeling and petting a group of stray cats.

"Kurono?" I asked.

"Shirona? Is that you?" Kurono asked after hearing my voice.

"Wait, you know each other?" Orenji asked surprised.

Kurono stood up and turned around to face us. "I was wondering why you didn't show up at the Botany Clubroom at the start of the week."

"I didn't want my future club members to see me like this." I said.

"What do you mean? They might think it's a bit weird at first, but you look cute," said Kurono.

"Even like this?" I asked.

"Yeah, those cat ears remind me of an orange tabby," said Kurono. "You look adorable!"

"Really?" I was blushing, and so was he.

"Really. You are cute, and always have been," he said, blushing even more, and so was I.

"I should have come to you right from the start," I said, as I hugged Kurono.

He hugged me back, then patted my head gently.

"Gee, get a room," said Orenji jealously while slowly walking away.

And we got a room; and we exchanged hugs, head pats, and smooches happily ever after.

Just kidding.

The end.

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