Volume 4 Chapter 14.2
Makoto and Mio expressed their thoughts as they ran the last spurt on the barold purge. The mass-produced barolds never did reach third form, wiped out one by one until they were all cleared out, with no real harm done to Hiroshi or his team.
「Keep it comin’ y’all！！」
While there were only three left, they couldn’t let their guard down. Hiroshi solidified his position and used Outclass to make himself the target instead of Tatsuya.
With the combined effects of the mastered Fortress skill on their equipment and Haruna’s Increase Defense magic, Hiroshi would no longer be taking damage from Barold. However, Tatsuya would still take a hefty amount of damage from Barold’s second form even with Fortress. Also, with damage came pain, as well as reduced magic control. There was even a possibility of losing control from the pain and going friendly fire on teammates.
In order to prevent such an “accident”, they really had to make sure that no one got an attack on Tatsuya. Though he wouldn’t die in one or two hits, the team could very well get destroyed if the healer and main attacker fell in power.
Makoto cut down another one. On closer inspection, he had swapped from hihiirokane to adamantite for the katana, most likely giving the previous one a rest.
Trying to take down another one, Tatsuya’s magic and Mio’s arrow reached their target.
「Next one is the last one！！」
「Hold up! Something’s comin’!!」
Makoto tried to go straight for the last one before Hiroshi hurriedly stopped her. A culmination of miasma was forming here that would put the tower golem to shame.
「……I think I get the picture, but what exactly is coming？」
「……Based on the situation, it’s gotta be the boss of the barolds.」
Tatsuya answered Haruna’s question with affirmation, gulfing down a mana potion as a precaution. While the battle up till now had felt like a breeze, it hadn’t been the easiest of battles. They had used their coup de gras several times, expending mana to take on the latter half of the wave. The only reason they hadn’t expended this resource completely was probably due to Haruna singing continuously.
And even Haruna had been singing with intent for thirty minutes. While her stamina and mana were not extinguished, Haruna’s (or rather, the daughter of the world-renowned singer yukina) nature caused her singing to consume more calories than a small battle. Potions didn’t restore calories, so this problem might actually be worse than everyone else’s.
「They’re almost here.」
As Mio spoke, the last remaining barold twisted and split into two pieces in an instant, only to be swallowed up by the encroaching darkness along with the scattered barold cores.
「We done goofed……」
「We shoulda gathered the cores while we had the chance.」
「Because they’re good ingredients? Or to prevent them from powering up？」
「I mean, both, but yeah.」
Hiroshi and Haruna had a slightly offhand conversation that was strangely appropriate for the situation as something emerged from the darkness.
「Looks like the boss is here.」
「But it honestly ain’t the same kind of pressure that the evil god fragment had, so this one’s also prolly just a minion.」
Makoto and Hiroshi expressed their thoughts as they looked at the black robed male-looking figures. While they were emitting a tense aura, it wasn’t all that strong.
The figures’ statures were equal to Hiroshi’s, and while a hood covered their faces, it was possible that they didn’t have faces to begin with. Their clothing, stature, and miasma intensity were exactly the same, so you probably wouldn’t tell the difference if they were swapped.
「So what kinda trick ya gonna pull……！？」
Before Hiroshi could finish talking smack, a multitude of hands shot up from the ground beneath their feet. The other four instinctively dodged to avoid getting captured, but Hiroshi having full plate on and unable to run very well caused him to get captured, although…
「Yer attacks ain’t nothin’, punks！！」
The moment he was captured, Hiroshi focused energy through his body and activated Outclass in a loud voice as he knocked aside the hands that had grasped him. These hands appeared to be the same as ghosts, easily crushed by using mind interference skills like Outclass.
「No comments and right into a preemptive strike, eh? Guess they ain’t talkative.」
「You’d think they’d at least say “I’ll tell you as a gift for the afterlife” or something villainous, but seeing as that hasn’t happened I would assume there’s some real bloodlust in the air.」
Hiroshi and friends felt the seriousness of this “boss” with this strange action of theirs, regaining their composure. As usual, they were never quite careless, but to have an enemy rush at you without at least talking beforehand was completely out of the blue.
Crushing the right-hand robed figure’s shockwave from above with Around Guard, Hiroshi then cancelled out the left-hand robe’s curse shot that came flying at him with Focus. Sensing something was off, he then cancelled full plate mode and jumped aside. The moment he did so, the ground collapsed like crazy.
「Watch out y’all! They don’t feel like attacking directly with magic or miasma and they got quite the strategy！」
Following Hiroshi’s warning, Tatsuya and the others shifted gears from attacking to monitoring their opponents’ attacks. Unlike before, Hiroshi wasn’t sure if he could demolish the opponent, so they had to protect themselves to a certain extent.
Right as Hiroshi warned them, darkness spread out below their feet. Hiroshi immediately launched Magic Bullet to restrain it, barely slowing down the advances. In that slight interval of time, Tatsuya had activated Hell Fire Sanctum, clearing away the darkness by burning it down. Only one instant later, a centimeter of the surface of the earth changed to sludge.
「Haruna-san, we gotta activate that！」
Looking at the boss-like members’ attack patterns, Hiroshi gave Haruna instructions. They had saved their trump card this long, and there was no better time to use it than now.
Following Hiroshi’s instructions, Haruna paused her song and prepared the trump card, which was an extravagant throwaway item given to them by Alfemina through Aearis and modified by Hiroshi to amplify its effects, which turned a certain area briefly into a holy realm; truly deserving to be called a trump card.
Haruna boldly proclaimed the activation keywords.
Aearis and Artiem casually glanced at each other and nodded after they had been drinking tea for some time in the temple cafeteria. They had finished eating the teacake and had only a third left of their tea. This was as good a time as any to leave the area.
「Excuse me. Might we borrow the Room of Ritual？」
Aearis elegantly drank down her tea and called out to the priest in the back.
「Please wait a moment.」
The priest gave a bow before going off to ask permission from the head priest. Seeing him leave, Aearis gave Douga a look, who knew what was going on and carried Aearis/Artiem’s luggage to their side.
「What does the situation look like now？」
「The big boss came out～」
「No face～、no face～」
「Cluster of miasma～」
「Haruna-chan activated Sanctuary～」
The octogals who had been minding their own business eating teacakes conveyed the situation to Artiem when she asked. Aearis and Artiem took out the pendant from their luggage that Douga had brought over and underwent the ritual on the spot.
「And now the first reinforcement is complete.」
It was a poem of three lines in a special language. After she finished singing it, Artiem looked at her pendant.
「Artiem-sama, the next one is the real deal.」
The two priestesses nodded at each other as they looked at the priest who had returned. Quickly putting on jewelry needed for the ritual (which for a few reasons had to be prepared in advance), the girls followed the priest.
The dispute with the western faction of the evil gods was reaching its starting point bit by bit.
「You impudent brats……」
The dark lord who had been until now attacking Hiroshi’s team without a word was unable to hide his bitterness with the holy realm that had just come up. That was the first sentence directed toward Hiroshi’s group.