A/N: Newest map. Story currently taking place in the southern part of the map, slightly to the east.
*Destroyed Saplings are crossed out.
“Quasix… has fallen?”
The Crown Prince Aslan muttered in a daze upon hearing the news. Tiz next to him was silent, his face grim.
Quarrevingts, Kancinq, and now Chisept. Small countries they might be, the fact that three Saplings were destroyed in a row was undeniable. Their governments had broken down.
There had been zero casualties among the governors’ families and barely any among the citizen population. However, the vast majority of their magitech weapons had been rendered useless, and the large-scale barriers protecting their cities had disappeared. The inevitable monster attacks would soon turn these countries into ruins.
Until now, a country’s refugees could rely on the prompt support and protection of their neighboring nation. But what would happen if even their neighbors lost their home?
On this isolated subgroup of continents, far away from the other landmasses, what few countries there were had forged a deep alliance with each other. But now, the small alliance had further diminished with their members being picked off one by one, and the very isolation that had been their strength was now pushing the survivors into a corner.
And now finally, the Sapling of a large country, Quasix Kingdom, was destroyed.
Part of it was because they had carelessly believed she wouldn’t be keeping her assault up for so long. Mainly, however, no one had thought a large country would fall so easily.
The reason was plain to see: Quasix had sent away too much of its soldier in helping the other countries, and the rabbit beastman girl – Shedy – had been far more powerful than anyone could possibly imagine.
The northern and southern landmasses of this subgroup of continents had held five countries. Now, only Xontdix was left standing.
Rumors had it that Quasix’s king had immediately given up on his own country when he saw what had happened to his neighbors, and that the royal family had escaped to the Central Continent on their private airship together with their riches.
Tiz looked at his butler. The old servant quietly left, heading toward Touze’s airship to give the order to hasten the mana recharging.
They needed to plan for the worst, even if the worst was something that could not be allowed to happen. With that said, they could not openly prepare their escape. Fear had driven this country’s nobilities and soldiers into a frenzy. There was a very real chance Touze’s entourage would be attacked if they were seen to be getting ready to leave.
“Damn that rabbit! I had always known she was nothing more than a foul villain ever since I first lay eyes on her. By my hand, the hammer of justice shall strike her down!”
Simple-minded Salia was getting worked up in front of Xontdix’s knights, forgetting about her own position of being the Emperor’s bodyguard. At the same time, she was unwittingly making for a great distraction to keep eyes away from their escape preparations.
Two small countries in the east still survived, but none of them had more than a hundred thousand in population. They did not have the power to help anyone else. They could only help each other to coordinate their defenses and hole up in their castles. They stayed on utmost alert for Shedy, while praying she never appeared.
In these trying times, both the adventurer’s guild and the Temples had spared no expenses in providing support. Airships carrying adventurers of Rank 4 and 5 gathered from all over the world. At Rank 5, an adventurer was practically equivalent to an officer knight.
Since half a year ago, new adventurers with explosive speed of growth were coming out of the woodwork, and a few among them had shown true talent.
But these new adventurers didn’t bring only their talents. They had also brought their own problems.
While not everyone was the same, those to whom the moniker of ‘troublemaker’ would apply were causing no small amount of headaches. Some looked as if they were coming to a festival, even when the country’s very own survival were hinging upon them. Some started fights with the tense soldiers, and in worse cases, even injuring them and getting arrested afterwards.
Ostensibly, the guild was there to provide adventurer support to individuals or small-scale mercenary groups, in order to combat the monsters that had started multiplying in recent years. Keeping the peace – for example, patrolling the streets – in place of the guards was one of their missions. Yet these new adventurers were neglecting their job. They were only there to fight the rabbit beastman girl, all the while making more problems for the knights.
“Still, this is quite the sight…”
There were hundreds of Rank 4 and 5 adventurers in Xontdix’s palace courtyard. They made for a force practically equivalent to the whole of Xontdix’s order of knights.
How would Shedy react if she saw this? If she actually attacked this place, how would she do it?
Tiz had poured a fortune into his bounty to capture her. But with the situation being what it was, he doubted many would think of taking her alive.
Alongside the awareness of being the representative of an allied country was a perverse desire to see her breaking apart this army of adventurers. A peculiarly childish excitement welled up inside him. He felt like he was once again that boy who had just acquired his magic sword for the first time.
It began the next day, in the early morning.
Thanks to the stabilizing influence of the Saplings, the three small continents had climates similar to those of tropical countries. But many of the countries on these continents were near the ocean and thus, constantly humid. No one thought the morning fog was anything out of the ordinary.
Some of the adventurers were mysteriously and unexpectedly disappearing from times to times. The lack of people on watch had been one of the contributing factors to this disaster.
“What is this chill…?”
“Weird mist, don’t you think?”
“Wait, that’s no mist!”
The several soldiers and adventurers blocking the castle gate turned into frozen statues in an instant, and the ice-covered gate shattered inward. People inside the castle witnessed the rabbit beastman girl marching right through the front door.
“That’s the bunny!!”
Whistles and bells announced her assault. As the knights attempted to leave their barracks, they found out the drifting mist was more than just a show.
“The doors are all frozen!”
“Break them open! If you can’t, then break the windows!”
Outside, there were 300 soldiers and 100 adventurers. They would need to hold on until the troops from the barracks and castle interior arrived. Against a single normal teenage beastman girl, it would have been considered excessive firepower.
She was not normal.
“There she is!”
“The Fluffy Bunny’s here!”
Some of the adventurers rushed forward in the drifting chill, sparing not a single glance for the fearful soldiers.
No one would have thought these men to be high-rank adventurers. They looked far more like clowns prancing around in their inefficiently huge weapons, spiky pauldrons, and overly revealing armor. They leered at Shedy, the girl now mid-way through her teen standing in front of them. They charged at her, looking more like they were trying to push her down rather than actually fighting.
She turned her cool gaze upon them. She dashed, several times faster than the speed the adventurers’ 1,000 combat power could afford them. Her palm smashed into the face of the man leading the charge.
He gurgled and exploded into glimmering light. The adventurer right behind him jumped toward her. She bent backwards to dodge his wild swing, leg snapping upward to deflect the enormous scythe, then twisting her torso to deliver a roundhouse kick. Her razor-sharp heel pulverized his head.
“Holy sheeeiiiit, that’s OP as fuck!!”
“Front line, surround her!”
“Back line, debuff magic now!”
The latecomers were beginning to work together. They seemed to have finally realized the threat Shedy posed.
Enfeebling spells clashed against her resistance and lost, disappearing into sparks and ear-grating crackles. She faintly frowned. The girl turned on her side, pointing her right palm at them and squeezed.
“Whoa?!” “What the fuck?!”
The adventurers’ spells failed, disturbing their battle lines. Shedy spread her chilly mist and ran through the gap in their formation, felling the now-sluggish adventurers with flashes of claws and kicks.
Since the fight started, dozens of adventurers had already fallen in just as many seconds. Around eighty percent of the corpses had disappeared, the sight chilling the spines of the soldiers and rooting them to the spot. It was then that the knights finally broke out of their frozen prison.
“Take down the rabbit!”
The officer knight’s shout turned the desperate knights and soldiers into a veritable tsunami of spears and swords.
As Shedy took in their vehemence, their zeal, her countenance turned just a little gentler than what she had shown the adventurers. Frosty mist dripped off of her, sapping heat and magic from everyone in the area, and finally freezing them all.
“What is that…?”
Tiz was watching from the upper floor terrace. He turned to his butler, seeking confirmation once more. The old man only grimly shook his head.
Just as before, they could not [Identify] Shedy’s combat power. But they did not need the skill to know that her power was far beyond imagination.
The Rank 5 adventurers with over 1000 combat power were being effortlessly dispatched, and the soldiers and knights with 300 to 500 power might as well be a mob of feeble kobolds facing a Hero.
Indeed, a Hero might be able to do what Shedy was doing right now.
In this world, there were three persons acknowledged as Heroes by the Holy City Ayune.
The Hero of Might, the [Champion].
The Hero of Knights, the [Blademaster].
The Heroine of Magic, the [Sage].
Rumors had it that these people, chosen by the elementals of light, had combat power over ten thousand; that they were acting upon a different set of principles than what the Temple at Ayune espoused; and that they were vanquishing evil all around the world.
Tiz had met the Champion before. He thought the man truly deserved being called a Hero.
The Champion, the Blademaster, and the Sage were all humans. Then what if the other races – the demihumans – had a Hero of their own?
And if such a person existed, then who would be their enemy? Who would be the Villain to the demihumans’ Hero?
To humans, Shedy was inarguably Evil.
But then, to the other races, what was she?
“…no, that’s just stupid.”
Tiz shook his head, getting rid of a notion much too silly for an emperor of a human country to hold.
He liked Shedy. But he didn’t covet her so much that he would forget his throne, his empire.
To prevent any further losses, Shedy must be the Evil they must destroy, right here and right now.
But was it even possible? It had been only a few days, yet it seemed like she had had another boost in power. They had hundreds of adventurers, over a thousand knights, and several thousand soldiers. Would it be enough…?
“Gramps, how are the preparations?”
“Going well. However, lady Salia is currently joining His Highness Aslan in combat…”
“…worst case, we leave her.”
If this army could not defeat Shedy here, then Tiz must immediately return to Touze Empire. He gave his order: if needs must, Salia – the bodyguard who had let her personal indignation and enmity pull her away from her post – would be left behind. Then he turned his sight back to Shedy.
Suddenly, pools of liquid darkness began to seep out from thin air, coalescing into monstrosities.
“What… are those…?!”
Grotesque spiders of Stygian blackness. Three meters tall. Fifteen meters wide, including their twelve legs.
There were nearly fifty of them.[MO—07—B] [Militarized Monster Avatar] [Magic Points: 1200/1200] [Hit Points: 2000/2000] [Total Combat Power: 4000]