Volume 8, Chapter 23: The Demon’s Trap, Part 3
“Everyone, this isn’t a time for us to fight each other.”
“Now, it’s time to show those Demons the power of us all.”
““Let’s stand together and take on this threat to all of us!””
The voices of the little girls echoed out across the battlefield of despair.
The soldiers of both the human nations and the forces of darkness stopped fleeing, and inspired by the beautiful girls and their dignity, began a counterattack.
The millennia of prejudice was not easily dismissed. Yet, seeing these twin girls who looked no older than 5 fighting on this dangerous battlefield, the soldiers’ hearts were lit with the “thought” of a new era.
Mankind would not lose to the Demon Lord or the Demons. In order to win their futures, the soldiers stood beside those they once called enemy, and confronted the common enemy of all together.
“…… How did this happen?”
Sefira stared out at this spectacle from the tents of the Allied Command.
Far from their innate sense of superiority causing them to scorn each other, they joined hands to deal with this “external enemy” called the [Demon Lord] and the [Demons], confronting them as one.
It was, in a way, the “peaceful world” that Sefira has been working towards.
“… It’s different.”
This was different from Sefira’s goal of a [world where everyone was equal and kind].
All this time…… for the longest time, Sefira had tried to guide humanity. Having failed once, a long time ago, Sefira understood that she needed a certain “something” absolute in order to lead the foolish human race into an eternal peace.
It was supposed to have been within reach right now. That is……
“I won’t allow it to end this way……”
It was a play that was too good to be true.
But at the same time, although it wasn’t exactly her last card, Sefira had made contact with the Dark Elven Princess, Nefertia, and tried to get rid of the youngsters that the Saint had taken in. But then two young princesses suddenly appeared and censured her…… and immediately after she seemed to have immediately pivoted her plans, the female knight in her entourage acted, and Nefertia lost her young life.
Despite that…… or rather, because of that, all of the forces of darkness had gathered under the twin princesses, and in a very real sense, they were now united with the human forces into one.
“…… What happened?”
Sefira felt as if she was being played for a fool by an enormous “something”.
As if everything had been “foretold by a story”, the Demon Army was gradually being pushed back by the new combined forces.
There was no [Hero] here on the battlefield who would have originally changed the tide of battle as expected by Sefira, and there were rumors and mysterious “strange reports” that the Heroes had fled the battle.
And so, Sefira disappeared from the battlefield alone, quietly leaving without notifying anyone.
She was headed to the one place where the heroes would gather to be guided.
The final hope for Sefira’s dreams …… [The Land of Origin].
* * *
“Hey, how much further are you going to flee?”
The hero of Earth, Kanzo, was following the traitorous hero of Flame, Minkichi, all the way into the caves of the mountain ranges that separated the human nations from the forces of darkness.
Kanzo knew that Minkichi’s betrayal had been the machinations of the Hero of Water, but Minkichi, who had been driven into a corner and could no longer pretend, had made her way here to get rid of the other two before they could pin the “crimes” that they had all together committed in the past on her.
But even as a Hero, Kanzo’s party members were unable to complement her strengths as much as Minkichi’s were, even as they pushed her here.
“Sir Kanzo, how about we split the party and pincer her here? I’ve investigated the geography of this cave. If we do it right, pinning her should be possible.”
“…… Oh well.”
She didn’t know why Minkichi went to that place in the middle of the forces of darkness, but it might be that there was some sort of weapon that was hidden by the forces of darkness there.
Even in these labyrinthine caves that were so intricate that even the human forces could not invade this far, Minkichi’s party had proceeded without hesitation, as if they were being guided.
And then ……
“I’ll leave it to you, if you say so.”
In the past, she had been the party adjutant who had only superficially obeyed her, but ever since they had gone to the dungeon with the Elder Lich and met that Saint, she had become incredibly capable, as if the “person” inside had changed, and become loyal to Kanzo.
It seems as if it would be good to favor them once this fight was over……
(…… No, I can’t. I already have Noa, so cheating is no good.)
Kanzo shook her head for a moment to clear her thoughts and then accepted the proposal of her trustworthy lieutenant.
“I’ll leave it to you. I will definitely dispose of Minkichi.”
Kanzo’s party split in two and pursued Minkichi.
It would normally be incredibly foolish for them to split the party in this intricate cave system, but for Kanzo, the Hero of Earth, the [Hero’s Secret Art] taught in Genble allowed hrr to sense where the location of her party was to some extent, even when separated.
Although she didn’t know where his adjutant had gotten this geographical information from, she moved to catch up to Minkichi’s party.
But the reactions of four people, including his adjutant, suddenly disappeared.
For an instant, Kanzo suspected that Minkichi’s party had beset them or that Demons in the caves had struck, but Kanzo’s party members, including the adjutant, were all considerably well-known knights in Genble. It was impossible for them to simply disappear while moving without a fight.
“…… Let’s go to where they were last seen.”
The three knights with her were slightly upset with Kanzo’s decision, but they acquiesced.
And a few minutes after they weaved their way into the caverns……
“Sir Kanzo, that’s…”
One of the young knights who had been with the lieutenant was lying there in a gruesome state.
“What happened to them……? This is…”
The dead knight had a frozen expression of fear on his face, and his chest cavity was hollow, as if his heart had been eaten.
Were there any monsters that could kill knights like this? Or had they been attacked by Minkichi, and then disguised to look as if they had been attacked by monsters? Looking at it skeptically, there was no way that this corpse hadn’t been laid here as bait for a trap.
“Let’s move out now. We’ll go check out where the lieutenant disappeared.”
…… She hadn’t noticed it yet.
Irritation rushing through her, Kanzo ran through the cave system.
And once again, she found the body of another knight.
This one had managed to draw his sword, but there were no markings on the blade nor scuffing, and the knight’s head had been bent back over itself.
“Arrgh, just what is happening?! Let’s go on.”
Then Kanzo and the knight arrived at the location where the adjutant had disappeared.
“……What is the meaning of this”
There was a knight’s corpse there as well.
That knight had been one of the old-timers in Kanzo’s party. A strong knight that could have been her lieutenant if his noble house had been high enough.
He had died with an expression of great fear, crying like a child. How in the world was this happening? What the hell was going on in this cave?
Kanzo finally realized that she was alone.
Kanzo pulled her magical greatsword from its scabbard and became wary of his surroundings.
And with a momentary flourish, Kanzo swung the massive blade like a twig, and shot out a shockwave towards the darkness of the cave.
It didn’t sound like the sound of something being killed. It wasn’t the sound of a rock being cut, either.
It wasn’t the sound of contacting something hard like a sword or armor, but rather that something had “gently” accepted it.
It meant that whatever it was he was facing, it was at least of the Hero class…… Kanzo thought that it was worth it to see something that was in the realm of [Heroes] like herself, and pretended to anticipate the enemy’s move while casting her own buffing and support spells on herself.
“Oh, if it isn’t Sir Hero.”
Even though it sounded mostly emotionless, she could still hear the carefree tone in the voice.
A girl who had blonde coronet hair, who wore a pure white apron dress over a jet black maid’s outfit that was even darker than the pitch black of the darkness, suddenly appeared as if she had been out on a walk.
“…… y-you are”
“It’s been a while.”
It was the attendant of the Golden Saint. Yurushia’s sole lady-in-waiting. Tina.
They were acquainted with one another, and given what she’d heard about the abilities of his friend’s attendants, there was no way that she was meeting here by coincidence.
“What are you doing here even though Yuru is in such a grave situation……?”
Her mistress Yurushia, who was too pure as a Saint, had been swallowed by darkness, and had become the [Demon Lord] that was the natural enemy of all creatures.
Was it because of the “sin” of humanity for waging war without end like this……
It was unclear how it had happened, but both that evil presence and that cataclysmic power were truly worthy of the name of Demon Lord.
Tina and the rest of the attendants ought to have been fighting on the battlefield to save their mistress.
“Yep, my mistress will be rescued by the hands of Lady Mizuki and Touka, with the help of the lovely pets the twins.”
It was a harsh statement, but Kanzo was far more disturbed by the distortion in her words.
“…… And so, what are you doing?”
Kanzo readied her greatsword and slowly moved to a more advantageous position for herself.
A wide space where she could make full use of the greatsword. A place with things like soil or sand that would move more easily than rock…… Even as she faced against Kanzo, who was being incredibly vigilant of her, Tina hadn’t even budged or moved to put her hands out from the neutral curtsey that she maintained ever since she had appeared before them.
…… no, it was strange.
Kanzo was moving. But despite that, Tina, who hadn’t even stirred was always facing Kanzo.
“What was I doing…… that’s right.”
Tina tilted her head slightly as she heard Kanzo’s question.
“That’s right. The time has come for Sir Kanzo’s soul to be harvested.”
The meaning of those words. Hearing Tina talk about him as if he were cherry tomatoes in the kitchen garden to be harvested, Kanzo unleashed the magic power that he had been storing up in a flash.
“As I expected, you were being possessed!”
A single blow that borrowed from the power of the spirit of light. As the energy wave struck forth, Tina nimbly ducked away from it.
“…… once again, small proves to be better.”
If Tina had had Fannie-like chest armor, it might have grazed her.
Even while Tina convinced herself of irrefutable fact, Kanzo, whose full-power blow had been readily dodged, gnashed her teeth, her lips pulling back.
Kanzo thought that Tina had been tainted by that [Evil Power] just like Yurushia. She thought that those incomprehensible words she said was evidence of it.
She was being possessed by a powerful [Evil], just like Yurushia had been turned into the [Demon Lord], so Tina was quite the threat, but she didn’t think that she would lose.
Those who were being possessed took a while to fall completely under the control of their possessor. For an existence like Yurushia, who was called a [Saint], corrupting her would threaten the world with despair, and it took more time to corrupt her, and this opened up a chance for them to save her.
However, something was off.
She thought that it was merely some sort of mistaken messaging because she was being forcibly controlled and not completely dominated, but Tina was saying that Yurushia was “destined” to be rescued.
“…… well, that’s that. I’m not going to bother saving you!”
“……You don’t understand.”
As Kanzo wielded his sword and cast while shouting, Tina tilted her head to the side while she dodged.
And Kanzo, who had been fighting as a hero for well over a decade, finally caught up to Tina, but Tina formed a fist of magic power and deflected the blow.
“You monster! As I expected you were the one who killed my companions!”
The left hand that was used to block the sword was scorched by the power of the light, and Tina knitted her pretty eyebrows.
Tina was surprised to find that she had been scratched, but Kanzo was even more surprised at the scratch.
As a [Hero], Kanzo was capable of fighting and defeating powerful demons if his party supported him.
There were also the blessings of the spirit of light. An environment that was favorable to human beings called the material world. The long history of humans fighting powerful enemies for many years. The strange combination of their techniques and combat technology. Their combined power was enough to fight on even ground against mighty, legendary-tier monsters like the [Evil Dragon], the [True Ancestor Vampire], the [Elder Lich], or the [Greater Demon].
And Kanzo, who was alone, still had the benefit of her decade-odd experience as a hero, and the [Combat Skills] that formed the core of her [Hero’s Secret Arts].
Especially for [Combat Skills], which would allow one to automatically wield a sword and defend themselves and get optimal battle results.
Even though other worlds didn’t have [Skills], in this world, even if the enemy was legend-tier, Kanzo should have been able to compete.
“It’s about time.”
Kanzo suddenly felt as if his sword had slowed.
Tina had said [It’s about time]. Did she do something? Was it like some sort of undetectable poison? Was she cursing him?
Just like before, Tina was using her bare hands to receive the blow that was infused with the power of light.
Even so, Kanzo couldn’t control the power, and her hands burned, but Tina seemed to be mostly unfazed as she slightly knitted her eyebrows.
“It hurts. But, it will make this by far all the sweeter.”
Certainly her physical capability had been altered, but even so, there shouldn’t have been any way that a mere possessed human could have caught her sword with their bare hands.
“How does it feel? To be unable to use what you previously could?”
It was an ambiguous line that showed that she had seen through his situation.
Kanzo desperately swung his sword and tried to use her [Sword Skill], attempting to use her [Sword Technique], but it didn’t activate.
Even as Kanzo continued her desperate struggle, Tina, who had been completely emotionless up until this point, smiled, the edges of her smile reaching up inhumanly to her ears.
“Sir Kanzo, you thought I was being possessed, didn’t you? It’s a secret…… but… I’ve always been a Demon, yaknow?”
Tina’s coronet hair turned into hundreds of golden serpents, and as Kanzo looked up at her face at the rapid transformation, an earth-shaking magic power and a miasma so thick that it would rot the very earth erupted.
If it had been a normal [Arch Demon], Kanzo might have been able to cope.
But his opponent Tina was one of the greatest [Arch Demons] who had been personally remodeled by a Devil.
Her greatsword crumbled in her hand, and Kanzo, facing the miasma that far exceeded that of a normal [Arch Demon], was torn apart, unable to even scream as she crashed into the darkness at the bottom of the cave.
Next time, The Evil Nightmare Clown attacks the pitiful Hero of Flame!
And so, the attendant channel Queen for their Queen today. Another one bites the dust.