Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 22: Pochi
—It merely loved its master very much.
In this world, dogs are treated as livestock.
They, who lived in packs, were loyal to the people who kept them, and possessed an exceptional sense of smell that was well suited for hunting.
They could detect demons if properly trained, and were capable of warning their masters of a faraway threat, long before it could reach them.
In this world, where you never know when a demon might strike, dogs were an irreplaceable existence to humans.
As such, this animal naturally found its place in military use, and every small unit would have at least one dog accompanying them.
Pochi too, was one of the dogs trained for military use but… unfortunately, its capabilities didn’t reach the minimum standard, and as a result it was abandoned.
As cruel as it sounded, dog food was not free.
In this world where the Witch and demons would often wreak havoc, there were places where they lacked food supply. Everyday, any number of people died due starvation, therefore there was no reason to feed a useless dog.
The food situation was much better nowadays due to Saint Elrise spreading crops like potatoes and soybeans which were capable of surviving even on infertile lands, but back then everyone could barely feed themselves.
This was because of the prolonged age of darkness caused by the death of the Saint from two generations before Elrise. She had died before she could fulfill her duties as a Saint.
The one who saved Pochi from its fate of being abandoned was the Saint from the previous generation — Alexia.
Back then she had said, she wished to have a dog for herself.
At her words, that generation’s Prime Knight, Diaz, told her to choose a better dog, but she picked up the small dog and said with smile,
“I want this as my own.”
For Pochi, this was its strongest… most unforgettable memory, even up to this moment.
It never forgot the warmth of her hand from that day.
It still remembered the happiness it had felt then when she had embraced it.
That’s why– that’s why… please, just one more time…
Vernell and Mary shook hands and praised each other for the good fight.
While this was happening, it suddenly appeared.
A shadow suddenly loomed from above, and caused the area surrounding these two to darken.
Before Mary had noticed the unusual situation, Vernell had instantly grabbed her and jumped away.
In the next moment, the ring was crushed by a huge monster, nearly 4 meters in size.
It had a dog’s head and its body was humanoid and covered with fur.
The monster revealed its tongue as it panted like dog who was about to be taken for a walk by its master, then started to sniff around
“FuU-… WhErE iS Saint… Saint, KiLl…kIlL… I… WiLl bE PraISeD bY Witch-sAmA…”
The monster didn’t even notice Vernell and Mary, who had almost been killed by its landing. Instead, it just kept searching for the Saint. Finally, its gaze found Elrise on the VIP seat.
“Saint… Kill… I, PrAIsed.”
It growled as it strode forward and the students that were on its path started evacuating in a panic.
The monster seemed to be focused only on Elrise, as it didn’t pay any attention at all to the running students.
Sensing Elrise was in danger, Vernell hurriedly drew his sword but then remembered… what he held was a competition sword with a dull blade.
While it could still be used to kill someone, it wasn’t a reliable weapon to use against a demon.
But he had no choice. If he did nothing while the Saint was in danger, that meant he has failed as a knight.
Yet before he could jump forward, Mary grabbed the sleeve of his uniform.
“Wait… I think that is a “Great Demon”… it’s not something we could win against.”
“Great Demon? I think it was… a Demon created by forcing many Demons to kill each other, according to the lecture…”
“Yes. Even if we go… we have no way to win.”
It has been said that not even expert knights could defeat a Great Demon solo.
They were only students, and were using blunt competition weapons on top of that… trying to fight against that kind of opponent would only lead to a meaningless death. This was what Mary had reasoned.
While they were talking, the monster had gotten closer to Elrise.
However, Elrise only sat in her seat and didn’t move at all to escape.
Elrise just looked towards the monster’s wounded body, then at its lonely eyes.
“StoP… DoN’t LooK aT Me wITh… FulL oF PItyyYYY!”
For there was only pity in Elrise’s eyes.
There was neither hostility nor fear.
But to the monster, it seemed like this was more painful than anything else.
As the monster raised its hand in confusion, Vernell instantly leaped towards the monster and struck its face with his sword.
The damage was obviously light. It merely surprised the monster for a bit.
“Don’t… DistURB mEEEE!”
The monster raged, and punched towards Vernell.
However, its hand was suddenly frozen.
The one who had done it was Mary, who was pointing her hand then in its direction.
“…Reckless. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if you died here”
“Sorry, that helped!”
Vernell, who survived somehow due to Mary’s help, distanced himself from the monster and then readied his sword.
But as mentioned earlier, it was still a competition weapon which was about the same level as a toy.
That kind of weapon wouldn’t work against such a monster.
And then, Eterna ran towards Vernell and stood beside him.
“Eterna! Why did you come here!”
“It’s because you’re doing something absurd alone!”
Eterna used a staff as her main weapon.
She was a long-range fighter, not a close-range one.
Due to that, she was ill-suited for the tournament’s format, but she would be able to work better if there were people who could protect her.
Even so, it was still 3 against 1 now. It still wasn’t enough to win against this monster.
Suddenly, an arrow flew towards the monster, surprising it. John then leaped forward and attacked the monster’s face once before quickly dodging away.
“Heh, I won’t let you look cool alone”
“We will also fight! We will protect Elrise-sama together!”
The ones who had arrived were their friends, John and Fiora.
Both were still using their competition weapons, but they weren’t hesitating at all.
As people who aimed to be knights, they would put the title of knight to shame if they didn’t do anything when Saint was in danger before them.
Without a doubt, it was courageous of them.. But at the same time, it was also reckless.
There could only be death waiting for those in the way of this monster… it stepped forward as if to express this. Suddenly, a bullet made of stone flew forward, and hit the monster.
“Well, well… you all seem worked up about something. But you guys started fighting and didn’t evacuate, which is not a good thing to do. Every one of you will get a credit penalty. However, I applaud your bravery to stand up and protect the Saint. So I will let you guys off with just supplementary lessons. Actually, I’m not into barbaric activities like fighting but… if it is to protect our Saint, we must do it. While it’s not much, I shall give my help.”
The one who magically grew plant roots to hinder the monster’s movement was one of the academy teachers, Supple Ment.
With a thin smile and suspicious glint in his glasses, he stepped forward.
“Also, although it’s only a temporary measure, use these instead. At the very least, it will do better than the competition weapons.”
As Supple said that, he gave a long sword to John, a proper staff to Eterna, and proper arrows for Fiora.
As for Vernell’s weapon… unfortunately it was too big to procure a substitute for.
With this, 6 actors stood on the stage.
Then, Elrise held out her hand and a sword formed from the earth.
It seemed that just then, she created a sword from the composition of the soil using earth magic.
It was a sword made within 10 seconds— a sword made for Vernell.
“Vernell-kun, please use this!”
Elrise called this out as the monster roared and rushed towards Vernell to bite him.
Vernell immediately grabbed the sword Elrise made and swung it.
As a result, one of the monster’s hands was severed and flew in the air, and Vernell was surprised.
It wasn’t heavy at all like how metal should be
Even so it was sturdy, and had easily cut off the monster’s hand.
“Thank you very much, Elrise-sama! With this… I will win!”
He spun the great sword high over his head as if it weighed nothing, and took a stance for a downward slash.
He planted his feet firmly to the floor, with his right foot in front and then aimed the sword towards his enemy.
The length of the blade reflected sunlight, which surprised the monster.
Looking at that scene, Leila felt slightly envious.
To be given a weapon directly by the Saint was an honor for a knight.
The sword Leila has was also given by Elrise when she became a Guard Knight, but it was only out of formality. It wasn’t a sword Elrise made herself.
Strictly speaking, it was the sword of the previous Prime Knight which was given back to Elrise before being given to Leila who inherited the post.
Even so, it wouldn’t be becoming of Leila if she childishly said she wanted a personally crafted sword by Elrise as well.
She glanced at Elrise as she was thinking that…
“? What is it, Leila”
“Ah, no… there’s nothing”
… unfortunately, her thoughts didn’t reach her.
Perhaps Elrise didn’t think much about it. Maybe she just saw that Vernell had no weapon and gave him one out of worry.
Perhaps if Leila did ask for it, this Saint would gift her one but… wouldn’t that be like a child throwing a tantrum for a toy?
Even as Leila was lost in these complex feelings, the battle continued.
The now one-armed monster roared and caused the ground at the party’s feet to explode.
Everyone jumped away from it, and Mary shot more ice magic from her finger.
It hit the monster’s chest, and partially froze it.
However, that wasn’t enough to stop the monster. It strode forward and opened its mouth wide.
A big fireball came out from its mouth, to which Eterna reacted by bringing her staff forward.
A wall of light appeared before the fireball, weakening its power.
Yet the fireball still advanced and was approaching Eterna.
Supple then cast earth wall using his magic and weakening fireball even further.
Mary cast ice magic on top of that, which finally cancelled out the fireball, and while all this was happening John and Vernell jumped forward, and slashed toward both of the monster’s legs.
Furthermore, arrows kept stabbing its face, keeping the monster in check.
The monster’s leg was cut deeply by Vernell’s sword and that made it lose its stance.
But still, it wasn’t enough to end it yet.
It opened its mouth to spew fire again, this time on the ground.
The debris hit Vernell’s party, and the impact blew the monster away like a bullet.
The impact also blew everyone away and knocked them to the ground.
John and Fiora were blown outside of the arena and had collapsed, while Supple spun around in the sky a few times before he landed and was buried among the audience seats.
Mary still managed to stay conscious somehow, but no longer had the power to stand back up.
However, the damage Vernell and Eterna took was still manageable.
Eterna stood up somehow and aimed her staff toward Vernell, healing his wounds.
And Vernell used his sword as a crutch, and stood once more against the monster.
He ran forward as he shouted, facing the monster directly.
The monster also rushed towards its remaining opponent.
But a few moments before they reached each other, Mary shot ice magic towards the monster’s eyes, slowing its momentum ever so slightly.
And that became the decisive factor.
Vernell’s sword pierced through the monster’s throat, and at that the monster lost its strength and collapsed.
Its blood flowed out without stopping. Even if it wanted it, it was no longer able to stand.
“We, we won…”
Vernell tiredly sat down, and looked at the monster.
It was truly a fearsome enemy.
Even though the six of them fought together, they still almost lost.
But even though it was such a monster, when he saw its final moments, it truly seemed pitiful.
“Witch-saMA… I… wORk HarD fOR Witch-SAma…WoRK HarDEr…AgAin…I…EmBracE Me, PLe…A…”
In its insane eyes clouded by tears, the monster still sought its absent master.
It was a fearful monster, but it looked tragic right now.
Elrise slowly walked towards the monster.
She slowly rubbed the monster’s fur as if cherishing it, then gently embraced the monster’s head.
The monster’s eyelids then drooped, as if it were a puppy being embraced by its master.
“Elrise-sama… this monster…”
“…Perhaps it failed to become a Great Demon. Perhaps it was just a dog which dearly loved the Witch. Maybe all it wanted was to be embraced by the Witch. It only thought of how to be praised by the Witch above anything else… yet the Witch… didn’t come to love it back.”
As if to confirm the Saint’s words, the monster body was covered with wounds.
It was unknown how the Witch treated this monster.
Perhaps it was used as a tool to relieve her stress, maybe as target practice for demons other to confirm their strength level.
Whatever it was, without a doubt it seemed like it had continuously received suffering from the Witch.
The monster called its master as if it wanted to be spoiled.
Maybe it was no longer able to recognize who was embracing it.
It was just seeing a sweet dream it once had.
Elrise spoke to it as if she were putting a child to sleep.
“You have done enough. You have worked hard… no one will get angry if you rest now. So… good night”
Elrise gently petted it while kindly speaking as such.
The monster peacefully closed its eyes—
It was a precious memory he had never forgotten even now.
At that moment, it… Pochi looked towards the figure of its master before she had changed.
She sat down, and just like that time she smiled towards it while opening her arms.
Towards that voice, it ran without waiting.
Regardless of how she changed, it still loved this person.
In the happy dream it saw during its last moments, it was a puppy again being embraced by its beloved master–
–and it stopped moving.
Elrise stroked the pitiful monster one more time, before slowly drawing away.
Vernell saw the sad scene, and unconsciously clenched his hand.
He did think it was a fearful monster, and it was he who killed it.
So he knew he likely had no right to think like this.
“…I can’t forgive this.”
Eterna agreed with him in a tearful voice.
This monster was merely loyal to the Witch. It merely loved the Witch.
Regardless of how poorly it had been treated as a useless thing, it still loved the Witch.
All it wanted was to be praised… to be petted and embraced.
As he now knew its true form and saw its end, he came to a resolution.
“We will… definitely defeat the Witch…the person who did this kind of thing… is unforgivable…”
This kind of tragedy could not continue forever.
He had to end it.
Vernell swore to defeat the Witch… and dedicated a silent moment for the monster.
Believing that at the very last moment, it met its salvation…
Illustration from 海鷹様
Unexpectedly, all are 3 Pochi illustrations!
“Random supplementary information”
– Only seen in the game’s Witch route, Pochi caused the Witch to greatly regret all her evil deeds.
– Afterwards, it reappeared as a guardian spirit-like existence for the Witch (in a puppy form). It appeared before the Witch as an Illusion to comfort her and led her back to proper path, it was that kind of existence.
– in New Game+ for the Witch’s route, the battle BGM against Pochi is a sad music box version, every time you deal damage toward it, there will be a flashback scene when it was happy, dealing mental/psychic damage to the player.
(Because of that, speedrunners would hate the time loss due to all the flashbacks, so they would stack several buffs to Vernell (Strength oriented) so they can one shot Pochi, and no flashback scenes appear)
SpeedRunner: “So that’s the reason you need pile up buffs to one shot it”
– In every other route, it stays as a useless thing who doesn’t get explored any further.
– In the original version of the game, quite a few players think, “I don’t want to defeat this Pochi for the sake of that scum (Elrise (true)) thoooouuugh!?”
– After being defeated, Elrise(true) kicked its corpse and spat at it. Obviously, making the hate of Vernell’s party increase even more.