Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「Those Who Bare Their Fangs」
I materialized in-between King Asparuf and Palermo with my shield raised to block the cardinal’s swing.
The impact of the collision sunk my feet into the street’s stone pavement.
I clenched my teeth and pushed against the force of the blow with my shield, creating an opening for me to slash at Palermo with my sword.
Although the air itself was parted, Palermo had leaped back to avoid the blow, furthermore, he added a backflip to his retreat, to put even more distance between us.
Palermo’s massive size caused cracks to form in the patch of stone pavement he landed on.
“Hm, never came across a monster like this before……”
I shook my left arm to get rid of the numbness as while I grumbled.
My easygoing manner only seemed to anger Palermo. His bloodshot red eyes grow brighter and brighter as his face transformed into an even more frightening visage.
“What in the world are you!? You share the Pope’s transfer methods! There’s no way a human could block my attack with one hand!!”
While saliva flew out from Palermo’s beak-like mouth as he yelled at me, Ariane, Chiome and I shared a look.
If his words were to be believed, the Pope of the Hiruku religion was capable of using transfer magic just as I was. While it was extremely useful in it of itself, it became a rather troublesome tool in enemy hands.
I thought we’d found the mastermind behind these church-related incidents when one of the cardinals appeared, but it appeared that the Pope was the true ringleader.
……No, even if undead soldiers didn’t require much logistical support, it would be strange if the one controlling the organization hadn’t been involved with preparing a hundred thousand soldiers.
I bottled that chain of thought for now, and I fixed my gaze on the enemy before me.
Ariane and Chiome were slowly approaching with weapons raised, most likely intending to aim at Palermo’s blind spot, so I needed to offer them support in the front.
“I’m not a human, but an elf. Sorry that your opponent is of such a lowly race.”
The hairs on Palermo’s body stood up when I shrugged my shoulders and spoke.
『An elf!? You’re an elf too!!』
Palermo smashed one set of his hands against the ground in anger while the other set of hands caught the debris that created, launching the chunks of pavement towards Ariane and Chiome.
Their preternatural reflexes allowed to two to dodge the surprise attack.
However, some of the other soldiers standing behind them were torn to shreds by the flying debris.
He hadn’t taken his eyes off of me when he’d attack them, so he must have had a wide field of vision.
The soldiers’ morale plummeted when they witnessed Palermo’s overwhelming destructive power.
Palermo smiled when he noticed that his encirclement had been broken before he returned his focus to me, apparently noticing something.
『I remember now. You’re that silver knight who killed Charos!』
Palermo nodded his head along with that insertion while I was left there holding my sword and trying to figure out what he meant.
Around my neck, Ponta let out a “Kyun?”, seemingly as confused as I was.
“Who’s Charos? I don’t remember killing anyone named Charos.”
Though I never even met the person Palermo called Charos, a former enemy that the name belonged to suddenly came to mind.
…… I had no proof, but he could have been the mo
nstrosity I fought in Tajiento.
Palermo, as if he’d been reading my thoughts, pointed at me and started laughing.
『That’s right! The one you fought in Tajiento was cardinal Charos!! That guy was the weakest among the seven of us, but he wasn’t so weak that an ordinary man could defeat him! However, don’t even treat me in the same way!!』
Ariane and Chiome watched our exchange play out with shocked expressions.
There were at least five other monsters such as this one.
So, the monstrosity I’d faced Tajiento wasn’t only this Charos person, had been clearly stated that he’d been under control of the Hiruku religion.
“So that vulgar caterpillar was a friend of yours?”
Was the Hiruku Theocracy just a country of undead?
『Gahahaha, caterpillar! A fitting description of that groveling fool…… I have to ask though, what are elves doing in a human city?』
A brutal smirk formed on Palermo’s face as he laughed.
Even though he was aware that I’d killed Charos, due the fact that he’d been the weakest of the seven Palermo didn’t fear me.
Although I wouldn’t say that Charos had been a powerful foe under any circumstances, he wasn’t someone I’d call weak either.
And Palermo had ranked himself above the fallen Cardinal.
I was still feeling the after-effects of using the heavenly Knight Skill outside the city, so this would be a difficult fight.
I cast my gaze on both sides of Palermo as I thought things over.
……However, this time I had reliable companions by my side.
Ariane’s golden eyes and Chiome blue eyes met my own beneath my helmet. We were all in agreement.
“We have our circumstances. I don’t have to explain myself to a monkey general.”
It was a cheap provocation, but I wasn’t used to provoking people, and it was the best I could come up with on the spot.
That’s what I thought, but the enemy didn’t think the same.
『Bastard!! How dare you, an inferior race, to ridicule the power bestowed onto me by the Pope!!』
He was exactly like an angered monkey.
His muscles swelled up and veins bulged on his head as he screamed his curses.
His eyes were consumed by an even bloodier red as Palermo’s massive body leaped towards me.
It looks like he became really reckless.
The destination of Palermo’s leap was just in front of me, my sword began to light up as I invoked a skill in retaliation.
“【Sword of Judgement】!”
A magic formation appeared at the location that Palermo would land before a sword of light meant to hit him shot into the air.
However, Palermo let out a mighty roar and smashed the sword with his hammer-like fist.
The sound of shattering glass filled the area as Palermo utterly destroyed the sword of light.
Although I expected him to dodge the 【Sword of Judgement】, I never thought he’d crush it with his bare hands.
Honestly, his hulking ape-like form had me treat him like a run of the mill physical-based monster instead of an undead.
『Heheh, while it’s the first time I’ve seen this magic, it’s not that strong!』
Even as he chuckled upon landing, Palermo’s body tensed in preparation for his next attack.
I blocked the first blow with my shield but he’d already prepared himself for the follow-up.
He’d readied his third fist for another blow, but Palermo fled onto the sidewalk in order to avoid my counterattack.
However, Ariane and Chiome had already covered the distance between us and launched their own attacks.
『─ Infernal Flame, reduce all that you consume to ashesー』
Ariane unleashed her fire spirit magic…… the flames started to coil around her blade before extending out like a whip, lashing out at Palermo as if they had a will of their own.
However, the flames were extinguished with a swing of his arm.
He’d easily blown away the Holy Knight’s magical skill 【Sword of judgment】 with his bare hand, and it appeared that he could do the same with other magic.
…… However, there were results.
Small patches of burnt fur appeared on the arm he’d used to extinguish Ariane’s attack.
While he was capable of resistant magic, he wasn’t able to prevent the heat generated by the magic. Moreover, he seemed to lack the rapid regenerative ability that Charos had possessed.
『Water Style: Water Spear!!』
Chiome made her move and attacked Palermo with her ninjutsu.
Her right hand glowed slightly before a small, undulating stream of water gushed forth. The stream immediately took the form of a spear which Chiome proceeded to throw at our enemy.
『A beastmen capable of magic!? Impudent wretch!!』
Palermo glared at Chiome as he cursed her.
I expected Palermo to simply knock the water spear away as he’d done with the other forms of magic, but he must have been bad with penetrating attacks because he simply leapt away.
However, Chiome had predicted Palermo’s reaction and prepared another attack in advance.
The instant he leaped to avoid the spear, two water wolves created by Chiome’s ninjutsu attacked him from behind.
Her nearly transparent wolves were hard to detect if given enough distance.
The flashy manner in which she threw her spear had been nothing but a distraction to conceal the true attack.
Such was the tactic of the ninja Chiome……
Unlike wild wolves, which would have gone for their victim’s throat, under Chiome’s control the water wolves targeted Palermo’s ankles.
Palermo was four meters tall, his sheer size and muscle mass should have been a natural blind spot. Not to mention that the water wolves were nigh-invisible.
『Ghaa! Damn it! Beastmen pest!!』
Palermo’s grimaced as one of the wolves bit into his ankle, indicating that damage had gotten through.
Still, before the other wolf could attack, Palermo hopped away on one leg. However, Chiome’s wolf hadn’t released its grasp.
Her ninjutsu was a technique gave her complete control over the manifested water wolves.
She wouldn’t allow her prey to get away that easily.
The moment Palermo leaped into the air, Chiome climbed atop a nearby building and used another ninjutsu.
『Water Style: Water Spear!!』
Palermo was still being carried by the momentum from his leap and had no way to avoid the spear flying towards him.
The spear managed to pierce the surface of Palermo’s shoulder. Unlike Ariane’s wide-spreading flames, the spear’s power had been focused into a minimal strike zone.
Palermo shouted as his posture was shattered while he was still in mid-area.
Regardless of being a human or an elf, Palermo’s tremendous power was a threat best neutralized by restricting his movements.
Perhaps for someone like Ariane, Chiome, and Glenys his attacks were nothing more than brutish movements.
Power was meaningless if your attacks could be predicted well in advance.
…… As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as the unhittable.”
I stepped forward to deliver a decisive blow.
“【Evil Sealing Holy Sword】”
It was a Holy Knight skill super effective against the undead. The 『Holy Thunder Sword』 began to shine with a brilliant light as my eyes locked onto the falling Palermo.
When I tightened my grip and raised my sword to cut him down, Palermo managed to jerk away at the last second, but his body’s sheer size and abnormal form made it easy to hit.
One of the arms growing out of Palermo’s back had been severed by my slash, his body rolling to the side by the time I readied my sword again.
The light that had coated my sword was extremely toxic to Palermo’s undead body, as the flesh around the wound was charred and crumbling.
The air vibrated, as the monster that Palermo had become screamed in agony.
Cracks started to form in his chest, leaking blackened blood, as Palermo managed to dodge my next attack by desperately rolling away.
Victory wouldn’t be so easy to obtain.
Slime-like drool dripped out of Palermo’s beak as his round eyes frantically darted around the area, apparently searching for something.
His gaze finally honed in on his own severed arm.
However, along with his arm, Palermo was also treated to the sight of Ariane fearlessly laughing as she rolled it across the ground with her foot.
『─Infernal Flames, reduce all to ash─』
In response to her chant, an intense flame ignited the severed arm, completely devouring it in a matter of seconds.
Every hair on Palermo’s body stood up as he let out another angry shout.
Based on the way he’d acted, Palermo didn’t have the ability to regenerate the arm but some way of reattaching it.
However, Ariane had literally reduced those hopes to ash.
With a primal shout, Palermo charged towards Ariane with superhuman speed.
Stopping a heavyweight wouldn’t be easy.
“Ariane-dono! 【Flying Dragon Slash】!”
I urged her to dodge while launching a mid-ranged attack.
The beam of energy the 『Holy Thunder Sword』 released hit Palermo head on but it immediately dispersed.
While his momentum was slowed, the attack was ineffective overall.
Elsewhere, the resulting shock wave from my attack blew the shingles off the rooftops.
It couldn’t be helped, the narrow streets made it difficult to use mid- and long-range attacks.
Ariane clicked her tongue and had an exasperated expression when I used 【Dimensional Step】 to place myself in-between her and Palermo.
The implications of her look were clear.
『─Mother Earth, return all things to tranquility, swallow everything beneath the ground─』
Ariane gradually pierced the ground with her sword as a song like incantation escaped her lips.
The tip of her sword sank into a gap in-between the pavement, and ripples began to spread out in a fan-like pattern from the point of contact. Mud erupted from the ground and began to erode the stones one by one.
The ground had been turned into a quagmire, but it moved as if it were alive, swallowing everything into a bottomless swamp.
The quagmire’s range rapidly spread, causing some of the nearby buildings to start collapsing as it devoured their foundations, while the soldiers who had been watching the fight fled screaming.
In the middle of Ariane’s carnivorous bog stood a halted Palermo.
He was already knee deep in the quagmire and his weight was causing him to sink even further.
『What is this!? My legs won’t move. No, something’s entering my body!!』
Shouted the enormous confused monkey monster within the quagmire.
As his maneuverability was lost, Palermo’s movements gradually became more sluggish as a white substance began to creeping up his body.
The spreading of the quagmire eventually halted and almost every living thing that had been caught in it was returned to the earth.
There’d been a considerable amount of collateral damage done to the city, and I was mildly surprised that Ariane would use area-of-effect magic here.
“I’m surprised that this undead was able to retain its body even after being affected by this magic. Still, once something is dead it will sooner or later return to the earth……”
Ariane had a small smile on her face as she removed her sword from the ground and cleared off the dirt with a graceful swing.
『Imbecile…… Imbecile…… I-I’mmm!!』
Even as his gigantic chest began to turn white and his body started to resemble a dead tree, Palermo was slowly approaching Ariane through sheer rage and determination as he screamed at her.
『─ Infernal Flame, reduce all that you consume to ashesー』
Intense flames sprung from the base of her sword once more when she repeated her chant, simultaneously raising the temperature as it took shape.
Ariane ignored Palermo’s curses as she pointed her sword towards his chest.
The flames that flew from the tip of her sword buried themselves into Palermo’s chest, the fire spreading across his body for a moment before they erupted into a pillar of flames.
As his body was consumed by the flames, Palermo’s death wail could be heard throughout all of Soulia.
However, it was but for a moment and only the sound of burning flesh remained afterward.
「Hmm, I guess that’s it then.」
As I sheathed my sword, Ponta uncoiled herself from around my neck and let out a cry to signify the conclusion of the battle. Before hopping onto her favorite spot, she dusted off my helmet with her bushy tail.
While I smiled at Ponta’s antics, my eyes gradually combed over the area once more.
Though the city’s inner wall somehow got away unscratched, several of the nearby houses had been half swallowed by the earth.
However, it was still a better outcome than Tajiento had received.
Not that that would be a consolation to the affected residents.
“That was amazing, Ariane-dono.”
“Chiome-chan, you were pretty good yourself.”
The two of them expressed mutual praises for a well-earned victory.
While Ariane said that she and Chiome were friends, the two were closer to comrades in arms than anything else.
Sometimes it seemed as if the two of them had made an arrangement between themselves, and that bond shined through here.
Personally, I thought it was very pleasing to watch a cute girl and a beautiful woman interact with one another, but I seemed to be the only one.
All the humans who had witnessed our battle were left in a state of shocked awe as they gazed at us from a distance.
Without paying them any mind, Ariane looked by at what had once been Palermo, before opening her mouth again.
“I overdid things a bit, but hopefully their impression of Arc has faded somewhat.”
When she let out a slight sigh and made her statement, I understood the point of this whole incident.
She’d been trying to diminish the impact of my rampage outside the city.
Certainly, the reveal of Palermo’s true form and the magic that destroyed part of the city would leave a strong impact on the people.
“Hou, you were acting in an unusually over-the-top manner, Ariane-dono. And while it had been a bother for me…… is this alright? All that seems to have been accomplished is that the people now think there’s more than one monster……”
Ariane shrugged her shoulders and avoided eye contact when I questioned her.
“It’s okay. We’re speaking with the King after this, right? Having an effective threat should move things along easily, shouldn’t it?
My eyes looked for the person she was casually speaking of and found King Asparuf standing in the center of a circle of soldiers with a solemn look on his face.
While I think that too much of something could be poisonous, I didn’t have any idea about how Asparuf would approach this situation.
“Nevertheless, we have to consider what Palermo said. Since we were here, the damage was kept to a minimum, but there are five more monsters just like him out there. Arc, he boasted that he’d been stronger than that Charos fellow we dealt with in Tajiento, was that the case?”
Ariane looked at me again when she asked that question, while Chiome’s ears perked up because she was also interested in my answer.
I recalled my battle with the monstrosity named Charos before I responded.
“Well, I don’t mean to boast about my own heroics, but Charos had definitely been the more troublesome of the two.”
I looked straight at Ariane as I spoke my honest opinion about both fights.
She seemed to have taken my opinion to heart and started stroking her chin as she thought something over.
“Of course, my opinion is based on having Chiome-dono’s and your help this time.”
I didn’t understand the purpose of her initial question, but Ariane bushed off my additional comment.
“I don’t care about that, but…… something has to be done about the Hiruku religion.”
She narrowed her eyes as she looked off in the distance.