Chapter 104 – The Forest Hermit
The lion spoke to us in the old, affected style. It was looking down at us now for an answer.
「When did this thing show up?」
『I didn’t sense it.』
Luka and Femm were both surprised.
It was a strange that Luka didn’t sense it, but a real shock that Femm didn’t. Apparently the sight and smell covered the lion’s presence.
「And it’s so huge.」
The lion growled at us. It had a large body…and so a large growl.
Its fangs sprung out from its mouth.
The lion was about half the size of Moofy at her full size.
I jumped off of Femm’s back.
After I did, I turned to address the lion directly.
It was a lion that could speak in human words fluently. I was hoping that we could avoid a fight by talking things over.
「Great lion, what matter would you speak to us about?」
「How shameful…I’ll make you regret what you’ve done!」
The lion then opened its mouth. It roared with a magical shot of some kind.
Since Femm and Luka were far from it, they dodged it.
「Hey, WATCH IT! Let’s talk this over…」
「NO NEED FOR TALKING!」
I guess this lion wasn’t going to talk with us.
The lion again opened its mouth and spewed multiple magical roars…they had the strength of charges of magical force.
It blew down trees and exploded into the earth.
If one of them hit us…it wouldn’t end without us being injured.
「Al! What now?」
「Get some distance and I’ll do something, Luka!」
If this lion was going to fight with magic, then I should take it on.
I generated some magic while calling to Femm,
Femm understood what I wanted to do.
We were going to run right up to the lion and challenge it. I deflected its magic attack with a magical barrier.
Then, I shot my own magical charges of force at it.
Two, three, four, five, six shots.
After that, the magical barrier the lion erected was shattered.
As I was about to attack the lion’s exposed torso with more magic, it quickly moved and dodged me.
「Wow, it’s fast!」
『It can’t beat me!』
Femm saw this lion as its rival. It dodged another shot from the lion by the skin of its teeth.
Just like a heavenly wolf would. Femm was even faster now.
「Femm, you’re fast too.」
Femm looked at me happy after I complimented him. Seems like Femm still had the upper hand in this fight.
The magical shoot and dodge fight continued for a while.
Finally, one of my magical shots struck the lion in the gut.
「Bastard! You’ll pay for that!」
The lion screamed. I shouted back just as angrily,
「I’m not going to lose a magical fight, friend! Are you sure you don’t want to talk this over?!」
I was going to shout back that it was already speaking to a ‘common brute’…but no time for sarcasm.
「You will pay!! Even if you apologize, you will suffer! I will not allow you to flee!」
The lion glared at me, and then over at the distant Luka.
In that instant, a magical circle activated among the charred remains of the great dragons.
A massive magical cage surrounded us.
It had prepared this ahead of time as a trap.
「Al, this isn’t good, right?」
「Yeah, this is going to suck.」
The magical cage wasn’t going to just keep us humans inside. It was also going to entrap heat.
Just like the circles Vi-Vi used, the inside could be heated up all at once.
If that was the case, the heat from the dragon’s corpses would eventually burn us up.
「Al! Al, you have to do something!」
「You’ve never seen a magic circle like this! No one has ever escaped one of my magic circles before! Everything inside of it is affected by a paralyzing effect…you can’t move!」
Luka was really worried.
However, this lion’s magic circle wasn’t the end of anything.
If it was just a paralyzation effect, Luka could break it.
But the magic cage itself had a paralyzation effect inside of it. You would have to break the cage to break the effect.
「Relax, there is a way. If I can break the cage then the effect will be gone.」
「Sure, I trust you.」
Luka seemed to relax at my words.
The lion looked enraged as it growled,
「A way?! Even if you were a skilled necromancer, there’s no way you could break my magic circle!!」
Normally, the lion would be right.
However, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a magical cage.
「It’s pointless to resist!!」
The lion tried to strengthen the paralyzing effect on me, as I allowed my magic to flow into the the magical cage.
I could sense out now how the magic circle was constructed. It was made much like the magic circle that Vi-Vi would make.
There was a high-pitched sound, as the magical cage cracked and broke. In that instant, Luka’s paralysis effect was gone.
If I only had protected Luka from that effect, then the magical circle would have been broken much quicker.
「I’ve never seen anyone break this during a first encounter…who are you?」
The lion said with surprise in its voice.
「It’s not the first time I’ve encountered a magic circle like this…but even if I had…I could still break it.」
「There’s no way…」
The lion looked lost.
However, I remembered several ways to destroy a magical cage like that.
Ways to break it with force and ways to overload the flow of magic.
It was difficult without the strongest magic and the greatest skill, but I could do it.
I bet this magic circle was the lion’s weapon of last resort. Now that it was easily broken, the lion seemed to back off.
Then I said to the lion,
「I’m not going to let you run, so how about talking?」
The lion seemed quite flustered.
With nowhere to flee, you could tell it was desperately trying to find a way to escape.
And just before the lion was slowly about to retreat.
The heavenly wolf Femm howled out. It was mixed with magical power. It had much more power than before.
Shiggy imitated Femm’s cry, but there was probably no effect from Shiggy.
The lion’s massive body seemed to collapse.
At the same time it made a small squeal, a girl fell from the mane of the lion to the earth.
It was probably hiding inside the soft mane of the lion.
The lion hurried in order to bite down on the girl, but I used gravity magic on the lion.
I pressed it down with a gravity spell so it wouldn’t move.
The lion glared over at me and growled.
Femm’s howl must have worked. The girl couldn’t stand either.
She seemed to crawl backwards, away from us.
「You…you human low lives…How could you do that to me…」
It was a devil girl…her breasts were large and she seemed tall, but she looked just like Vi-Vi.
「So it was you speaking in human language and not the lion…I see.」
「Something seemed strange about that.」
Luka said…as it seemed that this girl spoke hidden in the lion’s mane.
Luka understood everything now and nodded.
「Even if you try to shame me, human, I…」
「We’re not trying to shame you.」
I remembered back to the first time I met Vi-Vi.
After all this conversation, I established that this girl wasn’t the one that had caused all the zombification.
So I spoke respectfully to her.
「You are the forest hermit…Vallimie Lindobal.」
「You even know my name?」
Vallimie’s voice was lost in confusion.
She took a small knife from her pocket.
「Since it’s come to this…」
She was probably going to harm herself with the knife, so I shouted for her to stop.
「Don’t be hasty. I won’t kill you, and I’m not trying to harm you either.」
「You’re involved with the zombies?!」
「Is that what you think?」
It seems there was some misunderstanding.
Vallimie thought we were pursuing her because she thought WE were the ones creating the zombies.
「We’re actually trying to find the one creating the zombies…」
「I don’t believe all of you!」
I removed my wolf mask, and showed her my adventurer card.
「I’m one member of an adventurer party. Could you help us find the one that’s making the zombies?」
「I guess…I could.」
Vallimie finally seemed to understand.
A follower of a hero that was imbued with sacred strength in no way would be involved with zombies…you could trust in that.
So I finally was able to speak to her calmly.