Ara murmured as the carriage traveled on the road towards the dungeon.
「That certainly is so. However, well, there’s no need for pointless fights.」
Elena, who was reading a book on tactics, lifted her eyes up at Ara’s words.
The carriage had already left the highway and was advancing along a road that wasn’t a road.
No, to be accurate, it was a compacted dirt road formed due to people like them traveling to the dungeon.
Although they were all advancing along like this, Ara’s words indicated that this smooth travel was boring.
Though normally, it would take about two nights to travel from Gilm to the dungeon, the magic item carriage demonstrated effect on the warhorse, strengthening it and allowing it to pull the carriage much faster. In the first place, the warhorse pulling the carriage was an excellent horse, even for the Mireana Kingdom. It was impossible to not make good progress.
In addition, if any monsters that found the carriage wanted to attack, thinking they were prey, most understood the difference in strength upon seeing Set walk along side the carriage and hid themselves. There were monsters that weren’t able to see the difference in strength and still attacked, like the Iron Snake from the day before. However, that was because their intelligence was low. They were literally stomped by Set, killed and stored into the Misty Ring by Rei as food for Set.
As a result of the smooth journey, at their phenomenal pace, they would likely travel from Gilm to the dungeon in a single night.
「But you know Elena-sama. If there isn’t anything, I can’t maintain the feeling of tension. At least, we could attack some thieves to kill time.」
「Ara, that’s a bit too aggressive.」
Kuust muttered amazed as he read a book on dungeons while on the sofa.
「What. Even Kuust has become used to the leisure.」
「Hmph, don’t drag into trouble with you Ara. Because I learned about the dungeon like this it’s not for leisure.」
Maybe those words raised a flag. The sound of a whistle, that had been heard several times before, resounded through the carriage.
「Because you said something strange……」
「Don’t blame me. And anyway, the Griffon will tidy it up again.」
But contrary to Ara’s words, the whistle that had always been stopped after a brief moment by Set during the journey, continued to sound without stopping.
As expected, Kuust become a bit uneasy and stood up from the sofa to open the door to the driver’s seat to ask Vel what was going on.
Going that, Vel’s usual light expression was gone. He had an unusual severe look on his face.
「What monster is it?」
「……It might be a little awkward.」
Vel gave a brief answer to Kuust’s question. With that alone, all the people inside the carriage understood that the situation wasn’t simple.
Kuust grabbed his magic spear and Ara, her sword. Elena also raised her hand to her sword whip.
Rei, who had been dispatched as a guard, also stood up, ready to take out the Death Scythe from the Misty Ring at any time.
Speaking of why he hadn’t taken out the Death Scythe inside, it was simply an issue with the door of the carriage. Though the door was big in its own way, he would be held up taking out the Death Scythe, which was over 2m long.
「Vel, is there a problem with advancing in the carriage?」
「It’s a little difficult at the moment.」
「What’s the reason? Is it the enemy’s speed?」
Vel shook his head in silence at Elena’s question. While speaking, he turned to look ahead frequently to control the warhorse.
「No, in the first place, I can’t even see the enemy. Yet, the hostility perception of the carriage won’t stop.」
「Can you confirm if you can’t see it or they are aiming at this carriage from a distance?」
「If it is an Undead or a Ghost, it will be troublesome.」
Giving a small nod at Ara’s words, decided what to do.
「We can’t go all the way to the dungeon taking along this enemy and more that anything else, it isn’t our nature to run away. ……Kuust, stop the carriage. We will stop it here.」
「Is that fine? I feel like it would be better to escape.」
「Yes, yes. Seriously, our Miss is quite brave to make such a reckless rush……no, I didn’t say anything.」
When Ara silently pointed the tip of her sword at Vel’s face, he stopped the carriage in cold sweat.
「Rei, because we haven’t been able to cooperate together yet, move on your own without minding us.」
「I appreciate that. Then I will be with Set as usual.」
Giving a small nod at Rei’s words, Elena turned to Ara. Ara understood her at a glance and slammed open the door the moment the carriage stopped. Kuust readied his magic spear at the back as Rei dashed out and immediately took the Death Scythe out of the Misty Ring.
「Elena-sama, I can’t find the enemy.」
「I know right? And yet the hostility perception keeps whistling without stopping.」
Vel told everyone while holding a bow from the top of the driver’s seat and looking around sharply.
「……I certainly can’t see the enemy. However, if the hostility perception is reacting, there is definitely something watching with malicious thoughts. Watch out and don’t drop your guard.」
While listening to Elena’s words, Rei held the Death Scythe and watched the surroundings as he headed to Set, who was near the carriage.
In the surrounding area, or rather, all around the area of the carriage where Rei had stopped, was grassy plains. A bit further away was a forest where reasonably trees grew densely.
(Though I’m suspicious of the forest.)
「Set, do you feel anything?」
Set also shook his head at Rei’s question, even with a Griffon’s five sense, he was unable to sense the presence of the enemy.
「As it is, what if we are attacked. In that case, insurance is necessary. ……Magic Shield」
He used Magic Shield, which was one of the skills the Death Scythe obtained after absorbing a magic stone. Then, the next moment, Rei moved the shield of light that was formed to a position that wouldn’t interfere with the movements of the Death Scythe.
Seeing the shield of light suddenly appearing, Elena glanced at it before immediately looking around for traces of the enemy.
However, several minutes passed without an attack from the enemy, not even its figure could be seen.
「Rei, were you able to find the enemy?」
Though Elena called out from the other side of the carriage, the enemy couldn’t be found, even with Rei and Set’s senses.
「There’s no sign of the enemy here……」
To the words which suddenly broke off, Elena asked again.
However, Rei turned a sharp eye to the surroundings without answering the question.
Set probably felt something similar. He looked around while giving a growl of warning.
From the surrounding plains and forest, a peculiar wind blew, like the change from summer to autumn.
Under such circumstances, a faint sound was heard.
「Rei, what is it? Did you find something?」
The moment he heard Elena’s voice, Rei instinctively swung down the Death Scythe.
A metallic sound echoed.
At that moment, Rei definitely saw it. The thing that had attacked. In other words.
「Elena-sama, please watch out. It’s a huge mantis. Around the same size as the carriage. It went invisible to target us!」
Rei yelled out. Yes, Rei had seen a huge mantis the size of the carriage. The mantis had appeared for only a moment to unleash its attack. Right after it was blocked by the blow of the Death Scythe, it disappeared again.
(Is it something like optical camouflage? But I couldn’t even hear it. And in that case, Set should also be able to smell it.)
Thinking about that question in his mind, he immediately dispelled it when remembered the knowledge from when he lived in the countryside.
A mantis basically killed its prey in ambushes. In other words, him not hearing anything was because the mantis had hidden here in ambush. And by chance, Rei had entered the mantis’ attack range and blocked its attack.
Though the reason for not smelling it was still unknown, he judged that he would think about that after repelling it.
He suddenly heard a scream while looking for the mantis. When Rei looked at that direction, he saw the figure of Ara catching the mantis’ scythe with her sword while the right shoulder of her armour had been destroyed.
For the first time, Rei clearly saw the appearance of the mantis.
It was about 4m long. It’s body was covered like the exoskeleton of a beetle and had 2 pairs of scythes. In other words, it had 4 arms.
While block Ara with a single scythe, it stopped Kuust’s magic spear on the other side with another scythe. Though the mantis tried to kill the two of them with its remaining two scythes, Vel’s arrows, shot from further away, and Elena’s sword whip obstructed it.
Confirming the situation of the battle, Rei shouted to Elena.
「Elena-sama, Set and I will attack from the sky.」
「I understand! However, since it’s a mantis, there’s a possibility it can fly. Take enough care.」
Hearing Elena’s reply, he sat astride Set’s back.
「Set, you understand.」
With a short cry, Set flapped his wings and took a run up of a few steps. He then kicked against the air as he went up into the sky.
As Set turned sharply, Elena and the other 3 were fighting against the mantis on equal terms.
(……No, it’s not quite even. Because the two vanguards are locked down by the mantis, Elena can’t use magic with her sword whip, which is her true strength. Or can she not use her full power because of the limited trajectories?)
The situation of the battle could be confirmed from the sky. Maybe the mantis had a decent intelligence or maybe it was instinctive, it acted to use both Ara and Kuust as a shield against Elena. Vel’s bow and arrows, lacking power, could only wear down its exoskeleton and had no impact on the balance of the battle.
「Seriously, if it’s a mantis, it’s belly should be soft. It’s like it’s wearing armour. Set, let’s go. Follow after me. We’ll attack in waves.」
Hearing Set’s cry, Rei jumped off Set’s back. He fell right above the mantis while swinging the Death Scythe at the same time……
At that moment, Rei saw the mantis’ face turn 180 degrees to look at him.
After blasting Ara into the air with a single blow, the mantis swung its large scythe, which was about the same size as the Death Scythe, against Rei, who was in the air.
At the mantis’ actions, Rei immediately judged that it looked like the Flying Slash skill of his Death Scythe. This judgement saved Rei. He immediately released the same Flying Slash from the Death Scythe against the one the mantis had launched. They collided in mid air between Rei and the mantis and canceled each other out.
But don’t forget. Against Rei’s single Death Scythe, the mantis had four scythes.
As Elena shouted, Kuust and Ara were blown away. It then targeted Elena.
Though Elena wanted to block the attacks against Rei, Kuust would get caught up in the attack. Judging that Kuust had a high probability of getting injured if she evaded, she made her choice to catch him.
Because Kuust, who could use healing magic, would have been blown away and injured, she wanted to avoid that by all means against a monster that they couldn’t even see before.
「Shoes of Sleipnir, start!」
Rei, who was unaware of what was going on on the ground, activated the Shoes of Sleipnir that allowed him to step on the air. And quickly readying himself, he kicked against the air.
Set gave a sharp cry, flapped his wings and caught Rei on his back before moving away from the mantis and landing.
「Set, I’m saved.」
Giving brief thanks to Set, he turned his eyes to the mantis again with the Death Scythe readied in his hands.
Forming a line next to him was Elena, who had caught Kuust who had been blown away.
Quickly looking around, Kuust was trying to sneak around to the back of the mantis with his magic spear. Vel was shooting arrows to restrain it. Ara had been knocked away earlier and had lost consciousness after smacking into the carriage.
「Rei, it will become troublesome if this takes any longer. We have to kill it in one go.」
「I understand. It will be troublesome if the mantis escapes by flying away.」
「Ahh. Then in the mean time, can you distract it? I want to kill it in one go with magic.」
「There’s no problem. Then……I’m going!」
「Don’t miss the signal.」
While hearing Elena’s voice from behind, he closed the range while holding the Death Scythe.
The mantis waited silently for Rei, raised its four large scythes……and swung them down!
It threw out four Flying Slashes, identical to the ones from before. Further more, though Rei realised that each one was sent out at a slightly different time, he disregarded it and kept going.
(Compared to before, there are plenty of countermeasures if I know about it!)
The first slash was avoided by tilting his body. The second one was cut apart by the Death Scythe’s magic power. The third one was simultaneously blocked by the handle of the Death Scythe. The last was blocked by the Magic Shield which hadn’t been used in the aerial fight before. Like that, the Magic Shield disappeared into mist in the corner in front of him. After that, the figure of the mantis awaited in before Rei.
Against the scythe of the mantis that was swung down, Rei met it with the Death Scythe.
The magic empowered blade of the Death Scythe collided with the scythe of the mantis…… At the rear, the moment Kuust was waiting for arrived. Zak~, the Death Scythe cut through the scythe of the mantis without much resistance.
Though its upper right arm was cut away, the mantis silently swung down the remaining three scythes without a cry of pain.
While avoiding the scythes, he struck out again. Its upper left arm was cut off and sent flying.
(What, this sense of incongruity.)
Certainly, there were insect type monsters that felt no pain. However, it was still normal for them to show some sort of reaction if they were shocked or suffered fatal damage. But the huge mantis in front of Rei continued its next attack without emotion even though it had just lost two of its arms, which also acted as its weapons.
The sense of incongruity only distracted him for a moment……but that moment brought up a fatal opening.
As if the upper left arm that had been cut away was a decoy, the mantis swung down its remaining two arms.
Normally, it wasn’t a difficult attack for Rei to avoid. However, the sense of incongruity caused by the mantis made him miss his timing……
「Don’t blank out in the middle of combat!」
Kuust’s magic spear flew out from behind the mantis, intercepting the attack of the scythe that would have killed Rei.
Repelling the scythe, the magic spear pierced the ground next to Rei.
Rei didn’t miss this chance and leaped aside. An arrow shot by Vel stopped the mantis from pursuing.
Elena’s voice echoed out. Hearing the voice, Rei reflexive kicked against the ground and quickly took some distance from the mantis.
Only Rei had been near the mantis. After throwing his spear, Kuust had quickly left. Vel was attacking with a bow and arrow and wasn’t there in the first place. Ara had fainted next to the carriage.
Confirming that Rei had moved away, Elena invoked the magic she had finished chanting.
The moment the magic was cast, wind gathered around the mantis as if drawing a circle, forming a tornado. At first, the tornado was only large enough to stop one of the mantis’ legs. However, it rapidly increased in size to surround the 4m long mantis and kept growing bigger. Matching its name, lightning began to wrap around the tornado at the same time. The mantis at the center continued to take attacks from the wind and lightning until the tornado disappeared.