"I think we've established a situation where 'punch it until it keels over' is not the answer," Ringabel said crisply, detailing their latest adventure—or rather, misadventure—in the journal.

Tiz had the good grace to look ashamed, rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment. "I'm sorry. It was just, there isn't too much else I can do as a monk…"

"Word to the wise, Tiz!" Edea called out from her seat on a fallen log, her voice slightly breathless from exertion. "Please do not imitate Barras Lehr simply because you're using his asterisk."

"But you were striking them as well, Edea," Agnès pointed out. Of the four, she looked calmest at the moment, though still tired; her fire spells had helped them regain their footing when the Myconids' spores had been shaken loose and caused the plant monsters' numbers to multiply… multiple times. It had taken a few bewildered moments for the connection between cause and effect to be made, and then some angry shouting for it to get through everyone's heads.

The blonde flushed. "Well, it is my job…! I thought the fire spell on my sword would finish things…"

"You cut a very dashing figure, but I think we're better avoiding physical strikes as much as possible against those creatures in the future." With a small flourish, Ringabel finished his entry and closed the journal. "I suppose I'll refocus my efforts on spell-casting to back up Agnès. We still need physical attackers for other enemies, so you two seem fine as you are—but if we run into those things again, please err on the side of caution. Default."

"I suppose that really is for the best," Edea sighed as she stood up. "Well, you're bound to make some mistakes as you learn! At least we know now. Let's keep going and get out of this forest already!"

Tiz laughed, his mood cheering to match Edea's energy. "That's a nice way to look at it. It was almost a disaster, but it's done now." He jumped up to his feet, ready to follow her example—

And promptly yelped as a Myconid sprouted from the ground, nearly right underneath his feet. Before anyone else could even react (a lucky thing, considering Edea's hand twitched toward Ise-no-Kami), it burst into flames four times over, flailing every time. Tiz practically flung himself away, and he and Ringabel and Edea watched in a quiet horror as the plant creature browned and blackened, curled up on itself, and died.

Agnès' breathing had picked up, and there was a bead of sweat on her forehead, but she had not moved an inch from her seat. Were it not for her hands clenched on the rod in her lap, her posture would have still seemed calm. "I am," she said slowly, "beginning to dislike those things. Very much. How could it have simply come out of nowhere?"

"Um," Tiz said. And found no other words would come to his tongue. Not between Agnès' fiery outburst and Ringabel now grabbing his shoulder and examining him closely.

"…Agnès, do you feel up to another bonfire? I believe Tiz's clothes are in need of incineration."

That snapped the vestal out of her slightly terrifying expression of furrowed concentration, as her mouth and eyes both widened dramatically. "Wh-what? Ringabel!"


"Tiz, you have spores all over yourself. Not surprising, as a monk always gets into the thick of things, but I do not think any of us feel like fighting those things every time another jars loose from your clothing. Now be a man, stop blushing, and strip."