「Hiroshi, here comes the big one！」
It appeared that one of the dark lords was storing up a large amount of miasma to move into an attack. This was definitely a coup de gras. In order to stop it, Tatsuya fired three shots from Holy Octo Cannon, but although it damaged the enemy a bit, it wasn’t enough to halt the move from preparation.
「You cannot stop this attack with your paltry defense screen！！」
The dark lord seemed to have seen through Hiroshi’s actions as he created a giant dark mass.
「Devour all before you, Hell’s Dinner！！」
The giant darkness opened its maw to swallow Hiroshi as he spoke. If he didn’t do anything then all three would be swallowed. Still, no matter how great the effect or high the firepower, area of effect was area of effect.
「Too bad so sad, Around Guard！！」
Hiroshi’s Around Guard twisted the environment, preventing the darkness’s jaw from getting Tatsuya or Haruna. This was the moment where the weakness of area of effect attacks was made clear.
On top of that, this kind of attack that used miasma clusters had a deficiency not too different from most magic attacks. In other words, depending on the opponent’s magic resistance, your move could lose both power and range. Conversely, the majority of attacks were exceedingly difficult to evade (including singular-target attacks) as well as having more power than physical attacks, and magic defense/magic resistance were much harder to raise than physical defense.
「Guess we can’t go totally unscathed.」
Blowing away Hell’s Dinner with Focus, Hiroshi grumbled about his situation. As a result of having the defense field from earlier still active, his actual defense had decreased which had increased the damage received. He hadn’t taken that much damage, so without the defense field deployed, Hiroshi probably wouldn’t have received any damage.
Hell’s Dinner seemed to be a drain-type attack. Hiroshi felt something sucked from him, and the damage that Tatsuya had dealt was slowly restoring. Still, the damage Hiroshi had taken was negligible, so the dark lord was hardly “healed”.
「If that was yer trump card then y’all ain’t got a chance.」
Nearly at the same time as those words, the power that Aearis and Artiem borrowed from Alfemina and Aranwen as a result of the ritual traveled through the feng shui and poured out into the divine realm.
And with this, Hiroshi’s team’s overwhelming victory was solidified.
「It looks like he managed to gain the first technique with no problems……」
Elza had primed herself to intervene whenever necessary, but breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that Hiroshi’s team had overcome this difficulty.
With Divine Realm activated, nearly all the prerequisites for the goddess to intervene were fulfilled. She could certainly come through right now, but there were more dark lords than those two, and there were higher ups who hadn’t even shown up, let alone expend energy. Elza lightly pulling some strings wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea, but neither was it good.
Now, no matter how many hundreds of dark lords showed up, they wouldn’t win with Elza and the others. Even the higher ups could be dealt with, albeit with a little more work. This was precisely why there were many restrictions on divine intervention. In order to make waves without priestesses as media, goddesses had to either follow the rules or pick a fight with the world’s rules. Without evil gods as opponents, they couldn’t continuously go against the world, and obeying the rules required a good amount of time and effort for even one venture.
This was why Hiroshi wasn’t able to learn the earth-type extra skill Guardian Field and Elza had waited until the worst case scenario of Divine Realm running out in order to advent.
In order to advent without Divine Realm or being called by priestesses, goddesses had very struct rules to follow. In addition, it took a lot of time to have the same god advent with the same conditions. As she couldn’t afford to lose Hiroshi or his friends over this, Elza was prepared to shoulder whatever risks were necessary, but now that it was clear that she needed to directly advent, she wanted to save her attempts for later, which was reasonable thinking.
「Alfemina, Aranwen, thank you.」
「That’s because we intervened via priestess rituals. With Artiem or Aearis’s qualities, there are no risks for this level of intervention.」
「However, without either of them on site, we can’t intervene more than this.」
「Yes, I know. Now we just do what we can in light of the risks.」
Thanking Alfemina and Aranwen as they looked in on her, Eliza checked to see what else she could do.
「……I suppose I could at least try streaming large amounts of power into the feng shui and strengthening Divine Realm further.」
Eliza came to that conclusion after analyzing the situation. Only fools would risk this perfect opportunity by being careless and losing their ability to advent. She kept her intervention on the downlow to conserve power for later.
「……So it would appear we have a foothold now.」
Makoto was hopping up and down around one of the dark lords in the divine realm in order to shift the situation.
The dark lords were frantic.
（Not even Hell’s Dinner worked? Are you kidding me！？）
Now, the dark lords were aware that Hell’s Dinner would get blocked. Of course they wouldn’t be taking down Hiroshi like that. Still, it was most certainly a miscalculation for Hiroshi to not even get a single scratch on him despite having an active defense field that ate at his defense.
「If that’s all you got, I’m coming for you！」
After Mio used Minor Heal on her, Makoto’s accumulating damage vanished without a trace before she loudly proclaimed her advance. Hearing this, the dark lords prepared the appropriate skill to counterattack, but
『Haruna, can I have you use Over Accelerate！』
『Mio, I’m sure they’re still up to no good, so go ahead and shoot one in to distract them！』
Secretly contacting each other via the party chat, the attack/backup troop discussed what they might do to outwit their opponent.
「Opening debut of our country! Extra Skill Ignition Soul！」
In order to follow up immediately, Makoto activated the peak of self-amplification skills given to her from Igreos, Ignition Soul. Being an extra skill, the cost was heavy, but when activated, it would boost stats well past their initial point, such as Hiroshi’s endurance/mentality, Haruna’s agility, and Makoto’s muscle strength. However, stats like HP, MP, or stamina wouldn’t increase, and neither would intelligence, perception, or dexterity.
Just by how powerful the move was, both the startup cost and the maintenance cost were heavy. Makoto could hold it for five seconds at most. However, this team was capable of utilizing these five seconds.
Indeed: this was due to Over Accelerate, the acceleration spell. This is a questionable topic, but items and skills would last only as long as they lasted in real time. The same could be said for magic requiring maintenance costs, such as with Ignition Soul. While activated, Makoto could use Over Accelerate to act for a value of 100 seconds but only having to pay 1 second worth of the cost.
With this combination in play, she could just momentarily gain greater attack power than a low proficiency Gale Slash.
「We’ll show you how feeble your resistance is！」
As if scoffing at Haruna for stopping her song and beginning something else, the dark lords deployed dark fog all around to counter her move. At the same time, one arrow flew in to pierce through a dark lord’s head before it was swallowed by the fog.
But as if this were some sort of trap, the fog that had swallowed the arrow cleared up in an instant. Throwing in a follow-up attack at the startled dark lords, another arrow came rushing in before one beat later, the dark lord’s body was ripped to shreds.
「I can easily predict your actions！」
「As I thought, the liquor that Elle and Artiem directly cleansed works well.」
Indeed. Mio, who had anticipated their opponent moving for a counter, saw that Divine Realm would strengthen divine-type attacks and had dunked the arrows in Liquor for the Gods, turning them into hamayas.
Now, of course mere Liquor for the Gods would not have brought about such drastic effects. Mio was only able to get the desired effects by getting the highest quality god’s liquor from Hiroshi and having Aearis and Artiem purify it with their respective deities adventing.
Of course, with an item of this caliber, you could deal plenty of damage by directly sprinkling it on your opponent. However, they only had three bottles of the stuff, which was not enough to substitute for flame bottles, hence why they used the divine bottles in placement of a simple divine enchantment.
Seeing that his partner was already losing their corporeal form, the dark lord who was not attacked burst out in rage. His partner saw this, barely managing to squeeze out a voice.
「……Are you sure？」
「……It’s much better than……disappearing……」
「……Alright. I will use it as much as I want then.」
The mysterious conversation finished, the unaffected lord pierced their partner’s chest, digging out the core.
「Sensei, is that……」
「Yeah, seems that way.」
Hiroshi squeezed out a dry voice as he looked at the dark lord who had taken the core out with a big wound on it.
「They took out Barold’s core so there’s no reason why they can’t do the same with their partners.」
As if reacting to Hiroshi’s words, the dark lord who took the core out immediately grew gigantic.