「Finally…Wait, so you knew that they’d come!?」
「Of course. It’s because I already knew from the beginning that we couldn’t win against them with these small numbers」
Outside, riding on a flying dragon, Mio and Elen waved their hands simultaneously. While returning their wave, Lilu pressed Aur.
「Tell me those sorts of things ahead of time!!」
「They say that in order to trick one’s enemies, one must first start by tricking one’s allies, right?」
Elen and Mio’s names were spreading further than originally thought. The maiden who could spur on a flying dragon like her own hands and feet, and the beautiful dark elf who could send down arrows like rain. The devil king’s dragoon unit held popularity comparable to the armies of epic poem sagas and was well known to be the mainline of Aur’s army.
Therefore, Aur had let them out of the labyrinth. Tasking them with a secret mission that was unbeknownst even to Lilu.
「Haahahhahha! Look well at my bow! My military force is fifty-three thousand strong!!」
「…Elen’s in high spirits…That girl, her character changes when it comes to battle, doesn’t it?」
「More precisely, no matter how I look at it, I don’t think that the military forces are fifty-three thousand strong…」
Lilu and Spina quipped in a composed manner in response to Elen, who was letting down a torrent of arrows while laughing loudly. They calculated several scores of flying dragons being led. None of these dragons had lived in Aur’s labyrinth and were probably wild flying dragons that Mio had tamed with her own power.
「There are probably 53 people. They’re mighty warriors with the strength of fifty-three thousand」
The secret mission that Aur gave to Elen and the others. That was to search for remnants of the dark elves and the securing of the magical beasts’ war potential. With the white elves under Aur’s control, no one could oppose them. This brought freedom to search for their comrades.
Also, rather than leaving Mio alone and looking after the gathering of magical beasts, going outside and capturing magical beasts would make it easier to measure the increase of war potential.
The concealment and strengthening of war potential. Aur sent them out of the labyrinth with these two aspects in mind. Wait until the right time, and then, convince the confused Mio.
And now, that time had come.
Though the angels had wings and soared through the air, it was not at all possible for them to win against the speed of the huge, powerful flying dragons. In terms of ground combat, this would be like a fight between foot soldiers and cavalry. Moreover, said cavalry were even unleashing countless arrows at will. The number of angels was decreasing as they watched.
「Yeah, I know」
Aur nodded in response to Lilu’s words. The numbers were there alright, but even among the angels, these were at most low/mid level. In comparison to demon classes, they had no more than the power equivalent to gargoyles or hellhounds. Which meant that the enemy had not yet let out their mainline.
「Get ready. We’re going」
「Well this is bad…」
『Immortal』muttered, anxiously gazing at the falling and disappearing angels. He had been tagging along with Melisande for longer than a thousand years, but this was the first time that he had glimpsed her being pushed into a difficult situation in terms of battle tactics.
「Bad? What exactly is?」
But Melisande responded with a smile.
「『Avidya』, any other enemy reinforcements?」
The 『Avidya Knight』replied in a muffled voice from within his egg-shaped, seamless helmet that blocked all sight. His blind eyes could see nothing. However, his clairvoyance allowed him to see for thousands of miles without obstruction and could expose any hidden thing.
「Then we’ll finish them with this. First, silence that fussy archer,『Magic Bullet』」
「As you wish」
Gracefully saluting, the feather-capped man nocked his bow and fired arrows with a twang.
The two big, burly-fleshed men lined up.
Focusing on the flying dragons soaring far away in the sky,『Dragon Slayer』unsheathed his sword. Then he swung his sword horizontally.
『Lead』held his hands out, increasing his power as he murmured.
「Good. Now, lastly. 『Leaping Piece』,『Flame Hair』. Finish them off」
Nodding, the full-body armored knight carried the small-framed girl and『leaped』. They vanished instantly.
「With this it’s check…Everything is by and large going to plan」
「Are you all right, Master?」When Aur opened his eyes, he saw Spina’s face. She had changed to a translucent liquid form from the neck down and was wrapped around Aur. It would seem that she had protected him instantly from falling.
「…What in the world happened…?」
First, the rain and hail of arrows that Elen and the others had released was intercepted and shot down. It would be understandable if the arrows were merely blocked. But they were instead shot down with arrows likewise. Aur couldn’t begin to even imagine what godly skills were needed to shoot down arrows at high speeds through the air.
On top of that, to fire down hundreds of arrows simultaneously was unthinkable. Another impact shook Aur’s army as they were still recovering from their confusion of the unprecedented event. All of a sudden, the flying dragons were bisected, not one of them spared. Flying dragons were still『common dragons』, far from the power of the last dragon, Metus. Even in the dragon family, these dragons were only the tip of the iceberg; lacking in both strength and intelligence.
Still, this did not change the fact that these were the world’s strongest race, dragons. Far surpassing the strength of average magical beasts, their scales could not so much as be pierced by the swords of half-hearted swordsmen. Moreover, no type of swordsman or mage could split a dragon in half…Bisecting scores of dragons without so much as revealing themselves.
At the same time, an irregularity occurred with the sky-soaring carriages. It was as if a bizarre wind had suddenly kicked in, halting the motion of the carriages and reducing them to boxes made of wood. This naturally caused the carriages to begin plunging down, becoming the soldiers’ coffins.
「Lord. What on earth was that just now…?」
Elen appeared, lightly grazed. Mio and her subordinates were also behind her. Although everyone was lightly grazed, there seemed to be no heavy wounds.
「You survived, Elen」
「Yes, the forest below us was a saving grace」
Elves were a race originating from forest fairies. Though they often unveiled their skill at archery, their magic aptitude was nothing to laugh at. It was simple for them to control the various trees’ leaves and ivy to create a network that softened the impact of falling.
「Long time no see, Elen, Mio. I’d like to celebrate our reunion, but it seems that this is not the right time for it…The soldiers seem to be extinguished, Master」
With an unusually tense expression, Lilu returned to Aur’s side. They had patrolled around the fallen carriages, but there were indeed no other survivors.
「…I don’t understand what that last attack was in the slightest. But that’s why I think it was probably the work of the heroic spirits」
The thing that shot down the arrows, the thing that fell the dragons, and the thing that dropped the carriages. So long as each method was entirely different, it was natural to think of each method as something wrought by different heroic spirits.
If there were 5 or more heroic spirits it would mean defeat. That is what Aur said before the beginning of battle. Only 2 more remained for defeat to be solidified.
「At any rate, the carriages and the soldiers have fallen, and we have no more reinforcements. For the present, we’ll return to the labyrinth and revamp our battle posture.」
Drawing a magic square, Aur used Lilu and Spina’s magic and underwent transportation. Two shadows appeared in that very place once everyone had left. One of them, 『Leaping Piece』, grasped the remaining mana incense, then once again carried『Flame Hair』and leaped away.
This had been the most unprecedented surprise attack so far. The clamoring sound of the ringing alarm, and the pain of burning one’s body. Controlling a sacred object, Aur was supposed to have escaped the suffering unique to humans, and yet he felt severe pain envelope his body, tormenting him. This was evidence that the dungeon core was being attacked.
「What is the meaning of this…!?」
When Aur left the room, he was surrounded by crimson flames.
The labyrinth, was burning. The impervious stone wall, floor, ceiling, everything was spouting flames and catching on fire.
「An enemy attack…!?」
Even when Spina had attacked from underground, there was still freedom in terms of time. No matter what method they used, there were preparations to save enough time to deal with any intruders in the labyrinth.
This was, impossible…But then again, the previous defeat was also impossible and difficult to understand. It made it clear that this attack as well as these flames roasting stone and burning iron were the work of great spirits.
In the midst of the burning, flourishing flames, Aur found two figures. A small-framed girl, and a knight whose body was hardened with armor. 『The Flame-Haired Princess』and 『The Leaping Piece』…Confirming defeat, these were the 4th and 5th heroic spirits.
Then Aur directed his voice to that familiar figure.
「…Long time no see. Yunis」
Not reacting in the slightest, 『Flame Hair』drew her sword.
「You’ve…changed quite a bit」
Not heeding her actions, Aur continued speaking.
「I remember your last words. …Just as you said, I’ll believe you」
Aur swiftly held out his hands. With vacant, empty eyes,『Flame Hair』blew flames from her body and lunged for him.
The flame-enveloped sword pierced through Aur’s chest, scorching his body. Aur could derive from the pain that these flames were no ordinary flames. The passionate flames that『Flame Hair』had kept to herself burned everything. Whether it be stone, whether it be iron, whether it be the soul, it burned anything and everything.
If he was burned like this, even the sacred object would have no effect. Aur’s existence itself would be burned to cinders. And yet, Aur didn’t move a single muscle. Trusting in Yunis, he quietly gazed at her. The sword slid in the sky, shining as it was swung down in a whoosh, decapitating the neck. The neck rolled across the floor and was instantly surrounded by flames and burnt to the ground. At that moment, the flames that drifted about the labyrinth were extinguished. This was because their owner, 『Flame Hair』, had died.
「…You understood me pretty well, huh」
A muffled voice could be heard from within the helmet.
「You get it, right? Who did you think I was doing these things for?」
Aur consciously made a grimace, answering while healing his scorched wounds. Even if to create a decisive opening, it made him shiver when he was on the brink of having his own existence burnt up.]
「I’m home. …So, first off. It’s been a while, so I’d like to eat your pasta, Aur」
『Leaping Piece』said, throwing off the helmet and lifting up the usual smile no different from when they were alive.