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I have lost again.
I have certainly gotten stronger than before, and this time I even had location advantage.
Everyone had become stronger with the equipment obtained at Tsige.
The way of thinking and fighting style of the adventurers that came with us from Limia have also been a good influence to the Kingdom’s army.
It was for me too.
It isn’t to the level of Mio-san and Beren-san who I met at the remote region, but there were a lot of things I learned.
It wasn’t just skill at hand-to-hand combat.
I also began acting towards breaking down the fetters of the nobles that have been clotted, the discomforting politics.
It would be one thing if it were after bringing down Stella Fort, but in the current state, the position of the capital is quite dangerous, and I thought that each noble held way too much power in military affairs.
In that aspect, I have shown a relative amount of results.
Repeating careful talk with the heirs of the next generation, I was able to focus their attention in the view that the Kingdom’s current way is wrong.
It wasn’t like the objective was a rebellion against the royal family, and I can’t just create a big civil war in the middle of our war against the demon race, so right now I am just stopping it at only awareness in reformation.
The second son of the Hopelace who are high nobles and yet are very close to the royal family.
The fact that Ilum-kun approved this proposal of mine in an early stage allowed me to move smoothly and it was also a big help.
I think that in the future I will be asking for his cooperation too.
Facing the plan to bring down Stella, I felt like I was doing everything I could.
Not only were we unable to defend against Io’s surprise attack, we were pushed back. We let them reach till the audience room.
I intended to run away, but after coming this far, it was difficult.
I honestly can tell that it would be hard to leave the castle and escape the town with Io chasing after us.
And I don’t know how much damage our surroundings would take because of this.
In the end, I chose to settle this in an early stage with the support barrier of the audience room.
Using the Minotaurus and the Centaurus that Io said he brought from the border’s wasteland, Bredda was completely shut out, and I was forced to fight with him in a one on one.
With Wudi’s support attacks, Chiya’s healing support, and also the support barrier of the audience room, furthermore, the silver band which Horn dwells in, and the sword Beren-san made for me.
Even if it’s against Io who has already turned black and going at full-power, I thought I would be able to confront him.
Right now, in front of my eyes, there’s a white guy that suddenly bursted in and joined the fight.
I felt like shouting: what kind of joke is this?!
That guy had an attire like one of those daily special effect heroes. He stopped an attack of Io right from the front, and while receiving two of those attacks, he made Io step back and gave one attack to him.
I felt like an idiot for warning him to not compete with Io in strength.
He is strong.
And quite strong at that.
His moves are not that good, but the white guy has already deployed a pretty high-ranked enhancing magic and fighting in close quarter combat against Io.
For me who knows about special effect heroes, his appearance is quite embarrassing, but he is defending against the attacks of Io precisely.
Physical strength and speed; in my eyes, it looks like the basic specs of him are higher than Io’s.
And in another aspect, the body movements and technique are higher in Io.
… Well, in terms of attires, I don’t have the right to say much about others.
I take a look at my own body.
There’s no wound that can be considered a wound.
I have already used my own healing magic and I had Chiya heal me as well.
I have quite the amount of physical and mental fatigue, but I will have to hold it down with willpower.
I am practically naked, so I can tell that I don’t have any sort of scars.
It’s embarrassing, but this is necessary to display my best performance so… I can’t just not do it.
In the resonance with my guardian spirit Horn, I always end up in this appearance so it can’t be helped.
A strenuous skill that lets me clad the silver band and Horn at the same time.
Different from possession, my will doesn’t get inhibited in any way. It is uncomfortable that I end up in a state as if wearing a risque fur-made string swimsuit. The defensive field that it creates is slightly superior to the equipment the dwarf Beren-san made for me.
To fight against the blackened Io, it was necessary to have the power and speed of this form.
It wasn’t the moment to say that gravure would be a lot better.
That’s why I had to do it.
He is not an opponent that a normal bluff would work on, so I perform the weakness I showed in the past and tried to lure some sort of opening.
It was practically useless though.
I was somehow able to do some effective attacks in my starting dash, but with his usual regeneration, it was all made into zero again.
That’s right, this sword.
As expected, Mio-san and Beren-san are incredible.
The moment they made this sword for me, I could tell that those two had already seen through my specialty.
A great sword that had its wind power sealed, in the past.
In Io’s battle, I finally realized the power of this.
With an inhuman voice, the sword called me.
Just like how it asked me, I forcefully controlled the power that the sword emitted.
I didn’t unify with the sword like I did with Horn, it was as if I was doing a competition of power with the sword.
An ear-piercing metallic sound rang in my ears several times, and the great sword compressed into the size of the bastard sword I used in the past.
The originally transparent emerald green sword blade became more pronounced and the degree of transparency decreased.
In exchange, the power of the wind was felt even stronger.
It’s not to understand the weapon; the condition for activation is to thirst for power and make the power obey. I felt like it was a latent disposition with bad specifications and I felt grudge welling up.
But its power was tremendous.
Just by holding it, my power increased by several times and my senses became sharper.
The sharpness also increased remarkably and I was able to cut even the blackened Io.
If I used my specialty attacks that harbor the fire element, the wind element increased its power by even more. If I endowed an element in the sword, the fire would not be red but became an emerald green that looked as if it gushed out from the blade of the sword.
In the past I wasn’t blessed with a good weapon, but now I was being brandished by the weapon itself, is what I felt like bantering about. It had such a high efficiency that I even felt uncomfortable.
The wind element boosts the fire element.
Beren-san must have thought that, going by my style of fighting, instead of a fire weapon, it would be better to use a wind element one.
Io was unable to catch up with my speed and I was able to continuously attack him. ‘With this, I have won’, is what I thought at that moment.
Becoming black wasn’t his trump card.
Those big gauntlets that were equipped on his arms that served as weapons as well as armor… those were his trump card.
That he didn’t use them last time, was it because at that time they still weren’t made?
Each one of the 4 gauntlets had one of the 4 main elements: fire, water, earth and wind. Even when it is simple, he cladded elements in his attacks.
Wind with earth; my movements were restricted.
Water with fire; my attacks were weakened.
If he didn’t have those, I would have been able to decide the battle before he got ‘used’ to my attacks.
It was only a single pattern he read from me.
From there, I received a counter, and Io, without defending against the follow-ups of Wudi and Chiya-chan’s spells, he received those attacks with his body while approaching me, and I received a combo attack that felt as if my body was being torn to shreds.
Counting the kick, I received a combo of probably 7 attacks.
The rapid fire of Wudi that disregarded his remaining magic, created a smokescreen, and I had Chiya-chan heal me.
When I reached the state where I can make arias myself, I added my own regeneration spell.
In the moment Wudi’s magic power was sacrificed by quite a lot and our force had diminished, the situation showed a change.
A black mass with slight golden light clad on it, plunged onto the audience room from the sky.
In front of us, a sinister skeleton and a white guy that looked like a special effect hero appeared.
He ignored the words of Io and drew closer and the skeleton easily took care of the ambush troops that we didn’t even notice.
After saying something vague that I couldn’t understand if he was an enemy or an ally, the skeleton led me and my comrades to lean on a wall.
It is probably a subordinate of that white guy, but I was silently looking at the fight between the white guy and Io.
The skeleton didn’t show any signs of entering to help.
It seems like he affixed a field of some sort around us, but it doesn’t look like he is doing anything aside from that.
It is certainly true that the white guy is fighting Io in a more than advantageous way, but I have to question that skeleton’s action of not even providing support.
“He is… not your master? Is it okay to stay here without going to help him?” (Hibiki)
“… No problem. If it’s only at that level, supporting him would only serve as an hindrance. Hero… Hibiki, was it? That weapon, is it something you obtained in Tsige?” (Shiki)
“What’s with that so suddenly?” (Hibiki)
“I just thought that it is most likely a weapon from Kuzunoha Company” (Shiki)
“You know them?!” (Hibiki)
“Only slightly. It is more like, I have have a past connection with that material” (Shiki)
“Yeah, there was an experimental subject that I had it eat a wind spirit. It resembles the sickle of it” (Shiki)
“… T-That was a mamono you made?! Or more like, it was used as a raw material for this?!” (Hibiki)
“Well, that doesn’t matter right now. That just means it was an individual that served only as a mere material after all” (Shiki)
“… So you say. Just who in the world are you?” (Hibiki)
“Larva. Experiment loving and former Lich. Hey, that magician and knight over there. Don’t move. Stay there” (Shiki)
The skeleton that named himself Larva stopped Bredda and Wudi who were trying to stand up, while he talked to me.
Wudi still hasn’t recovered his magic power properly.
I do think that it is still impossible for him to resume his actions.
I knew the reason why.
At the line of sight of those two, there’s two enemies.
The Centaurus and the Minotaurus.
As expected from enemies native of the wasteland, they are strong.
At this situation, I should be the one going.
I can already move my body after all.
“Hero, you as well. Stay there” (Shiki)
“Can’t you see the enemy? Against that level of enemy, I wouldn’t even take 3 minutes. Just leave it to me” (Hibiki)
“… Don’t misunderstand. I am not giving advice nor am I asking for an opinion. I am ordering you” (Shiki)
“Quite the words there. I am grateful for your help, but this is also something that benefits you too, right?” (Hibiki)
I take my sword in hand and stand up.
It’s not at the quality of that white guy, but even so, to use standard enhancing magic exhausts quite a lot of magic power.
Slightly feeling that my strength was giving away, I place the spell again.
The weakness is that it is easy to cancel if I lower my concentration.
But its effect is balanced, so for someone like me who has a lot of magic power, this is a magic that fits me.
“If there’s even a slight chance that you will be wounded, there will only be disadvantages for me. Sit down. Be silent and don’t move” (Shiki)
A tone of voice from the former Lich that didn’t forgive any objection.
It seems like these guys are not enemies but they are not our allies either.
“I will finish it quickly” (Hibiki)
“If you leave the field, I will kill your companions” (Shiki)
“In the agreement we exchanged with the Goddess, there was nothing mentioning the safety of your companions. As long as you are okay, I don’t care about what happens to the other hyumans” (Shiki)
What a thing he is saying.
Just what was the Goddess thinking when he brought this kind of people to the capital?
I can’t feel any sort of joke in his words.
At the very least, I could tell that he doesn’t feel anything for the life of hyumans.
“… In that case, what are we going to do? See, they are coming!” (Hibiki)
“I will do it. You guys should just silently wait here” (Shiki)
“You bastard, there’s a limit to rudeness—” (Bredda)
“Bredda-dono, let’s leave things here to this personage. Increasing our enemies in this state is a bad move” (Wudi)
Wudi holds back Bredda who couldn’t endure it anymore and was going to complain to Larva.
It’s certainly true. This is not the time to be increasing our enemies.
As long as we have decided to fight Io, we have to speedily drive out the demons attacking the capital.
For that sake, I would have to steal the march on Larva somehow, but…
“Then, I will be seeing what you got. The power of Larva-dono, please show it to me” (Hibiki)
I decided to send slight sarcasm to him.
It’s true that this Larva is strong.
That instantaneous movement and the speed of his spell activation, the weapon he holds is not normal either.
In terms of magic power, Wudi is lower than Chiya-chan and me, but just like in levels, the magic power doesn’t completely decide the skills of a magician.
That Centaurus and Minotaurus are not normal enemies.
If it’s me, I would be able to push them back with overwhelming speed, but just how will the most likely-magician Larva fight?
Let me see it.
A big frame ox faced warrior swings down his battle axe.
Fumu, is this a demi-human, or a mamono?
It is kinda… interesting.
If I meet another one in the future, let’s check it up.
Because I stepped back and avoided it, the axe hits the floor and it left slight damage on it.
What an excellent support barrier.
If it were average, fragments would have scattered and the floor would have been splendidly gouged.
“And you use a bow huh” (Shiki)
I slap down the shot arrow with my staff.
The Centaurus is a demi-human and quite the prideful race.
It seems there’s many who choose bows and spears, and it seems this one has chosen the bow.
A vanguard and a rear guard; their roles are properly set.
As expected, these two are stronger than the ambush troops from before huh.
“Io-sama is fighting. We can’t just stand and do nothing. Move aside, Lich”
“You have shown us your power, but that level won’t work against us”
“… I don’t like showing more power than necessary after all. Sorry for that. Master said that he would be giving me my turn later. In that case, I will be using you guys as warm up” (Shiki)
Those so called warriors are really easy to utilize by using their pride.
Their temperament clearly changed.
“Very well. You are without doubt an obstacle that has defeated our brethren as well”
“I already know your power to a certain extent. In our home, you would be treated as a troublesome livestock” (Shiki)
“Fool. Just what benefit would it bring you to anger us?”
“Who knows Horses would be too frail for us to mount after all. I don’t know much about you. Sorry” (Shiki)
The Minotaurus and the Centaurus heat up in an amusing manner.
Well then, let’s begin.
“I was a former Lich you see. Why I am ‘former’, I will show you here” (Shiki)
I finish my aria. I release the spell that is suited for me from within me.
“How long will you accompany me for? I am looking forward to knowing. ‘Thirteen stepping-stones’” (Shiki)
The moment I became a servant of Waka-sama, I was embedded an uncontrollable amount of power inside of me.
I assimilated it, but it is a power that is not mine.
I have finally been able to change, not everything, into my power.
You guys are my first prey.
Inside of me, it has been sleeping, changing, and has awakened.
… the power of Waka-sama’s rings that is.
“From the first step to the fourth, release. ‘Wand’, ‘Sword’, ‘Cup’, ‘Coin’” (Shiki)
I won’t say 4 times, but I can tell that a magic power close to that is sprung out to the surroundings.
I can tell there’s a different nature of magic power raging about in my body.
This sensation that enlarges my maximum amount of magic power is peculiar.
I look at my left hand.
There, I see 4 rings dyed in crimson red in all the fingers aside from the pinky finger.
Power wells up as well.
Until the fourth step there’s: magic empowerment, body enhancement, magic power enhancement, equipment enhancement.
Until this level, I am able to utilize it without any risks.
Depending on the situation, I would want to release higher steps, but that is slightly harsh.
“You guys are also stirred up because your superior is there right? Try to struggle a bit, okay?” (Shiki)
I prepare my staff.
The two instantly take defensive stances.
Directly below them, several floor-turned-spears thrust upwards.
I have to properly utilize the support barrier after all.
“Hoh~, the horse evaded it huh. The ox… it seems he has endured it” (Shiki)
The Centaurus shoots an arrow towards me.
In the middle of its way, it splitted up and rained down.
The Forest Oni Akua does something similar to this.
Instead of magic, I used a special soul language to forcibly activate a spell.
I changed all the arrows into dust.
This time is the Minotaurus.
Can’t see the difference in power yet?
At the battle axe that was swung down obliquely, I purposely don’t take a defensive position and decide to take it.
The axe stops at the tip of my shoulder.
My magic power, equipment and even my physical body has increased in power.
I don’t even need to defend against this kind of attack.
“Well then, it is my turn now, right?” (Shiki)
I prepare my black staff and begin an aria.
While looking at the expression of despair from both of them, I finished the remainder of my spell.
“Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. That life, offer it up” (Shiki)