The two stone spears jutted out of the ground, aiming at Haruna and Tatsuya and creating a flashy noise as they tried to pierce Hiroshi, who was trying to guard them.
「Are you two ok！？」
「I am, but……」
「Grazed my side. If I weren’t practicing Fortress with different armor then I’d be a lot worse off, even if you got to me in time.」
Hiroshi asked as he fully blocked one of the spears with his abdominal region. Haruna, who had made it within cover, and Tatsuya, who had taken it in the flank, responded.
The spear that went for Tatsuya had just barely been stopped by Hiroshi, only grazing the flank, but it was evident that if he had not worn hihiirokane equipment (the highest grade magic equipment) over his behemoth armor then it would not have been a graze, but a gouge.
Tatsuya’s reinforcement armor was made of hiiirokane because it took away any penalties for magic invocation.
「But Hiro, what about you？」
「No damage, mate. But the armor near the stomach area was pierced through.」
Hiroshi responded as he flicked off another barold come for trouble, while Tatsuya and Haruna shifted their gazes to his abdomen. Indeed, the full plated section was completely destroyed, exposing the spirit thread clothing on the inside.
Tatsuya was also not without his damage to the flank, even if it was a scrape.
「Dang, these barolds are a total pain.」
Hiroshi commented with a fed-up expression as he continued to send barold after barold flying. They just wouldn’t let up, and yes, enemies were supposed to attack, but they were still annoying.
「Why don’t y’all just git！ Try this attack on for size！！」
Hiroshi threw three super large poms near the center of all the barolds before focusing energy into Around Guard to contain the shockwave. Even barolds level 2 and above weren’t able to evade the large damage inflicted, despite their attempt at countering. Three attacks from this and any normal form barold could not endure. Honestly, if he hadn’t had the innate confidence that Around Guard was at its highest proficiency, even Hiroshi probably wouldn’t have attempted this attack from close range.
As a result of launching those essentially large scale magic attacks, 70% of the barolds in front of Hiroshi were destroyed with an extraordinary explosive sound, leaving behind only cores.
「And now I can relax and mend the armor.」
Gazing at the barolds disappearing from Haruna’s song that had started up again, Hiroshi took a sigh before pouring mana into his armor. The emergency repair enchantment reacted with Hiroshi’s mana, restoring the broken abdominal armor to its original. Likewise with Tatsuya, the ripped armor in the flank got repaired.
「But why don’t these chumps transform？」
Seeing that the front was well taken care of, Tatsuya responded with a listless answer as he lifted the lock on his Holy Octocannon to take down some more barolds. As there was always the possibility of the barolds transforming, it was good to be cautious, but thinking any further on it for lack of information was a waste of time.
「Well no matter how things go, first look at their numbers……！！」
「Yeah, seems like they can’t all transform.」
After finishing off some more barolds with roundabout attacks, they began transforming when they got to about 20% of the original number. Hiroshi commented on the situation in Tatsuya’s place as he swallowed what he said.
「So the number of enemies is what triggers the activation.」
「Hey, maybe they didn’t actually have enough miasma to transform earlier.」
Everyone nodded at Hiroshi/Makoto’s words, changing formation. At the moment, the enemies’ attacks were roundabout and unorganized, so except for the sneak attack from earlier, the team had not taken any damage at all. Still, despite their attack patterns, the barolds’ strength and range jumped up in their second form.
Things would be very different from here on. They would need to increase their caution more.
「Who wants to get a whuppin’? Step right up！！」
Regaining his fighting spirit in response to the situation, Hiroshi gathered the enemies’ attention with Outclass. The battle to drag out the mastermind had moved to a new phase.
「……Didn’t work, huh」
「The next attack isn’t going to work, I see.」
Unable to succeed with their sneak attack, the dark lords spat out their pure bitterness. Hiroshi went right to throwing his giant poms at the barolds to further decrease their number, and at this moment the dark lords knew the battle was over.
「Doesn’t seem like we’ll be getting anything more out of this.」
「The feng shui had shifted positions. We can’t interfere anymore, I don’t think.」
「It’s already too late, but we should have replaced a few barolds with succubuses.」
「I’ll say this again, but the eastern allies couldn’t even do that. I think once Farlane was crushed, the western front was decided.」
Dark lord A pointed out a way they could have done better, while B weakly shook their head. Right before Hiroshi’s group entered Forre, the amount of unstable elements had increased in this plan concerning the eastern region. In order to cover this, everyone other than them from the overwhelmed western front had gone to help out the center and the east, severely limiting the actions of lords A and B in their actions here in the west.
Now that the western team had gone to the east, the east’s situation was greatly improving. However, they could not move an unnecessary amount of people or ask them to do any unnecessary work. The situation would be precarious if they were any more careless. Now that the western front’s operations had ended in irrevocable failure, they couldn’t inflict any burden on the east side.
Hiroshi’s group was certainly a threat, but it would defeat the whole purpose to have the east side lose its footing to help them out. Figuring that they could preserve the situation as is, the two lords had things moving fine up till Crest Cave, even if things didn’t always go as planned.
In the end, underestimating Hiroshi resulted in the failure of their organization. Although they hadn’t analyzed it that far in Darl, it was a mistake to not crush them then and there, perhaps using large amounts of female monsters to strike at Hiroshi’s weak point for an advantage.
But there was no use dwelling on it. Even if A and B called back the eastern members, it would likely be a wasted venture. Yes, having someone make the female monsters would be effective to an extent in dismantling the tank of the group. However, in order to take advantage of this, it had to be when that wall of meat was by himself.
So now all they could do was go for broke.
「……Looks like all the barolds are about done.」
「……In the end, I guess we could only afford to lose a few of them.」
「And because of that wench’s singing, there’s less holy energy left than expected.」
The dark lords made sour faces at the grim situation. While this was certainly not their everything, this was their best move at the time and it failed spectacularly. They say that poverty dulls the wits, but at this point it felt like a curse to misjudge their opponents’ power.
「……Regardless of how things go, we will not be turning things around from here. We will probably not be defeating Azuma Hiroshi.」
「……Yeah. However, we cannot let them get us like this. We must take down at least one of them to help out the eastern group in some way.」
「……I will be the one to take care of that. You visit the east.」
「What are you talking about so late in? What will making them give us more help do for our cause when they’ve already given us so much？」
「It’s because it’s so late in. Taking down only one or two of them with us will not change the fact this will be a meaningless death on our part.」
「And what guarantee do we have that we don’t end up dying meaninglessly without taking any of them with us？」
B tried to get A to go east to reduce casualties, but A opposed their idea by insisting they go for efficiency.
After a staring contest of a few seconds, B was the one who caved in.
「……Right. There is a chance the goddess will directly interfere. I can’t do much by myself.」
「Indeed. We should probably avoid any further investments. Plus our failure after doing so much would be a good example for the eastern group to learn not to underestimate them.」
B nodded at A. However, the saying “poverty dulls the wits” was indeed true, and neither A nor his cohort realized they were still expending military strength.
Indeed, they had not considered the idea of themselves going out to battle alongside the barolds, which ended up being the real waste of this situation.
「Now then, shall we?」
「Yes. To fill the world with holy energy.」
「To fill the world with holy energy.」
The two dark lords, who had not seen this as an opportunity to not just take down one or two people, but the whole group, walked to their last battle without ever realizing this fact.
「Three more to go.」
「In the end, they still didn’t change up their attack pattern, huh.」
「Mako, we can’t let our guard down yet.」