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Vol. 4 Chapter 4 – Part 1

Shin and Rionne shifted their gazes toward the sphere. About a minute later, the globe finally reached its limit.

“KyuAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

A huge cry was raised together with the sound of something similar to glass cracking, and something broke out of the sphere.

“What is that?”

Rionne appeared to have never seen the emerging monster.

“…Looks like a Gryphon.”

“Gryphon?”

“It’s a monster that usually inhabits the forest or highlands.”

While Shin explained, he activated 【Analyze】.

――――『Guardian of rbh%t&   Lv$%&』

“It has garbled letters, huh?… A Guardian?”

Barely readable portions of the name were displayed, and Shin looked puzzled while tilting his head.

There was a monster with a ‘Guardian’ prefix attached to their name. However, it was a huge golem with full body armor that would appear in the city and become the base of the players. On top of that, it didn’t come out unless there was a special event.

The current Gryphon before them had crystal wings. Because the wings were made of transparent blue ice and had an angular-shape, it had a solid feeling that living things didn’t have.

“Is that ice?”

Shin judged that those wings were composed of ice crystals, as he saw the cold wave of air released by the wing of the Gryphon, who was generating white mist around it.

When observed carefully, ice also covered its talons up to its foreleg and the horn that had grown from its forehead. Though they were the same base color as its wings, there was also green blended into several places.

A portion of the ground near the Gryphon was already frozen. Was it due to the influence of the ice on its forelegs?

“………”

“Shin, is there something wrong?”

“…No, it certainly resembles a monster I know, but it’s slightly different.”

The monster was similar to ‘Glass-Blue Gryphon’. It was a monster that appeared in ice and snow zones.

However, a Glass-Blue Gryphon had its whole body made of crystal-like glass, which was different than the Gryphon that had just appeared. To begin with, Shin didn’t know of any kind of Gryphon that exceeded 5 mels in body height.

“It’s looking this way!”

The Gryphon, which raised a roar, turned its gaze to the direction where Shin and Rionne were.

Since their eyes met perfectly, it’s not possible to say it was just their imagination.

“Kyuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!”

“Mu! Is it up to something?”

“It’s bad to stay here, so I’ll break the wall!”

At the same time as the shout, Shin broke through the wall in the room and jumped outside.

Rionne followed soon after, and the breath of ice which the Gryphon released hit the building directly. The building was frozen in an instant.

The Gryphon seemed to have seen that Shin and Rionne escaped, as it turned its neck while breathing out ice in order to put them in the line of fire.

“That’s dangerous! We’re gonna jump!”

“Kyaa, what!?”

Shin carried Rionne and kicked through the air against the looming breath of ice.

He dodged the breath mid-air by a movement system martial arts skill 【Flying Shadow】, and jumped into the shadow of another building.

“It’s a ‘mowing down’ breath, huh? I’m sure there’s no such attack used by gryphons…”

“I-Is that so? Rather, Shin, I want you to lower me down now.”

Rionne said, while stuttering in Shin’s arm.

The current body pose of Rionne was commonly referred to as ‘holding the princess in one’s arms’ state.

“Ah sorry. It was emergency, so it was either this or I carry you under my arm.”

When Shin pulled Rionne’s arm and evaded the breath, he was able to hold her under his arm, but as expected that may be inappropriate for a princess, so he changed it.

“You really…so what would you do? We cannot go near it since it attacked as soon as we showed up.”

“That kind of attack is a breathing spell or magic power charge; there will be a cooldown-time when the attack is used somewhere, so we have no choice but to attack at once. I will take charge of the front, so aim for its back while hiding in the building, Rionne.”

Though it was a surprise attack, Shin knew the capture method of a Gryphon himself.

Even if he was directly hit with the breath, he shouldn’t be killed on the spot.

“Will you be alright?”

“Leave it to me. I don’t want to be hit, but I’ve a way even if I’m hit.”

The worrying Rionne nodded, and Shin stood up.

After seeing Rionne off, who was moving away from him, he jumped outside the building.

“KyuAAAA!!”

The Gryphon promptly shot its breath.

As if it knew Shin was there, its aim was accurate.

Shin bent over and evaded the breath coming straight at him, then started to run.

Though the Gryphon made a mowing down motion with its breath like it was natural, a similar attack wouldn’t become a threat to Shin.

Using both movement system martial arts skills 【Flying Shadow】 and 【Shukuchi】, Shin sometimes jumped over and dove under as he closed in upon the Gryphon without slowing down.

“Hey, hey I’m here. Where are you aiming at!?”

While exercising one of the taunt skills, 【Clown Noise】, Shin stirred up the Gryphon aloud.

Did the Gryphon determine that its breath wouldn’t hit as it saw Shin’s movements? The Gryphon aimed at Shin with its left foreleg. Shin then intercepted the talons made of ice with his『Kakura』. Taking advantage of his strength, from the lower position he hammered onto the lowered foreleg to reach a conclusion.

“Kyui!!”

“Whoa!!”

The Gryphon and Shin rallied each other, and were both surprised at the weight of the opponent’s blow.

When『Kakura』was pressured by the talons of ice, Shin jumped back at once.

“This is not the physical strength of a Gryphon…”

The Gryphon in the game era was not such a strong monster to that degree.

Though it also depended on the kind, level 600 was the highest; it was an opponent with insufficient power to be considered a formidable enemy.

Yet, the current opponent didn’t appear so.

Shin’s STR was more than 500, although it was being controlled by 【Limit】. If he added the weapon compensation of 『Kakura』, his STR would be close to 600.

With that being easily overwhelmed, Shin concluded that the Gryphon’s STR was more than 700.

“Did I underestimate it? Its power is also strong. I can’t talk to Rionne either, huh?”

Shin lowered the 【Limit】 to II, as he muttered and scolded himself for being deceived by the Gryphon’s appearance. (T/N: The lower the Limit is, the stronger Shin gets. Currently his stats was divided by 2(II) from his original stats)

Though it was not a complete release, his stats still exceeded 999 in the time of the game. Unless it was a powerful boss monster, nothing could overcome the current Shin’s attacks. As for why he didn’t release the limit completely, it was because he couldn’t estimate the power when attacking.

Unlike Schnee, right after Rionne was involved, neither evasion nor defense were possible. Similarly to the battle of the Lord Skull Face, this wasn’t a situation where he could attack without thinking about the damage to the surroundings.

“If I can’t defeat it with this, it is no joke.”

Shin, in the same way as a while ago, started to attack the Gryphon.

The Gryphon, in response to that, raised its ice talons and was about to swoop down on Shin.

“*Hyaah!*”

“KyuAA!?”

Their yell sparked.

『Kakura』 and the ice talons struck each other directly――this time, the winner was 『Kakura』.

It couldn’t endure Shin’s overwhelming physical strength; the ice that covered the Gryphon’s left foreleg burst and scattered. Still, did the ice become a cushion? The Gryphon’s leg itself was safe. However, the Gryphon couldn’t escape the impact, as it had its leg lifted and stumbled back a step or two.

“Tch!”

Nevertheless, the moment the ice covered leg was smashed, Shin was surprised to see that the scattered ice that flew transformed into spears, and Shin missed the opportunity to continue the attack.

“The ice covering its legs is not an ordinary ice――tto!”

Shin, who witnessed the unexpected ability, dodged the extra ice spears that flew toward him.

The origin of the current ice spears were the Gryphon’s wings. From the large wings, which were unfolded, various small and large ice spears colored blue and green were scattered around to block Shin’s escape route.

Gryphon’s movement became sluggish, as there seemed to be damage to some extent.

“KyI!”

When the Gryphon made a cry sound, ice covered its left foreleg again.

The awkward movement of its left foot was restored accordingly. Apparently, its fighting power didn’t seem to fall at the place where he smashed it.

“Next is a barrage of breaths, huh?”

While crushing the ice spears with 『Kakura』, Shin attracted the Gryphon’s attention again.

On the edge of his view, he confirmed the figure of Rionne creeping up the back of the Gryphon. As Shin changed his standing position, he examined the attack range of the Gryphon.

The range of the Gryphon’s neck movements limited the breath attack’s direction. Also, it could only shoot the ice spears forward, and when Shin went around to its side, he wasn’t attacked. Though ice talons were equipped on both front and back legs, Rionne should have seen the situation where Shin destroyed the talons.

She should be able to take the Gryphon by surprise now.

“I should have its attention just in case.”

Shin exercised a taunt skill【Shura Rush】 when he confirmed that Rionne was ready with her 『Muspelm』 behind the Gryphon.

Even though there weren’t any other monsters around, he didn’t know when they would appear. Therefore, using a taunt skill to attract the attention of a wide-ranging enemy would overwrite the 【Clown Noise】, which collected only a single opponent’s hate; he decided to thwart the possibility of Rionne receiving a surprise attack reversely.

“KyuA!”

“That’s right, look here!”

While adding sporadic attacks, Shin fixed the position of the Gryphon.

Then, the moment the Gryphon spread its wings in order to release ice spears, Rionne started her move.

“――Hyaah!”

『Muspelm』, which gave off a vivid orange effect, hit directly on the joint of the right wing.

However, the wing seemed to have more strength than it appeared, for even with one or two katanas used to cut it, the wing was hardly damaged.

“HyaAAAAA!!”

A yell that contained a noticeable fighting spirit accompanied by a striking blow, she somehow succeeded in giving the Gryphon’s wing a small wound.

However, it didn’t restrict the Gryphon’s movement. Rionne continued as it was, attacking the back of the raging Gryphon. Arcs were drawn continuously, as the orange-colored effect covered『Muspelm』.

The rate of Rionne swinging 『Muspelm』 was faster than usual, and the power also increased proportionally to the speed.

Its fur also seemed to have high defensive power, as the Gryphon received almost no damage. However, if its back was attacked, which was the blind spot taken by Rionne, who was a melee-type Chosen One, even the Gryphon couldn’t move properly. Though it tried to shake her off, it wasn’t very successful.

The reason why Rionne could one-sidedly attack the Gryphon was because, besides it being caught off guard, she invoked fencing technique system martial arts skill 【Tyrant Beat】.

Rionne Against Gryphon

While she couldn’t use magic skills during the invocation, she raised her offensive ability and attack speed up to 1.4 times as compensation; it was a skill that dealt a stun effect for a very short time to the opponent every time the attack hit.

Even if the effect period was very short, when the condition was met, one-sidedly crushing down the opponent was possible. It was often used in the game era by players whose occupation emphasised physical attacks.

“Ugh, my skill ended! Sorry, but I’ll leave it to you now!”

“Got it!”

The Gryphon’s behind and the back of its neck, which were hacked at recklessly, were leaking little-amounts of blue mist from its wounds.

When looked at closely, it was like a blue spray that spewed out from the wounds. It didn’t appear to be a liquid, as it faded and disappeared in the air when it rose 30 cemels like steam.

“Is something leaking!? No, does the body fluid evaporate?”

Shin, who looked at the Gryphon’s state made inferences on the phenomenon he had never seen.

“GRUUUUU!!”

With Rionne separated away, the Gryphon flapped its wings in a big way and turned toward Shin.

Its four legs had firmly stepped on the ground. Its HP was almost recovered when he looked at the Gryphon with 【Analyze】.

Because the level displayed was garbled, it was difficult to determine what level the monster was, but he expected level 800 or more from the amount of damage received. Though animal-type monsters typically didn’t have high defensive power, it seemed that this didn’t apply to the Gryphon in front of him.

“This guy is a nuisance.”

While provoking it so Rionne wasn’t targeted, Shin resumed his attacks on the Gryphon.

He aimed at the parts which weren’t covered in ice. As Shin passed through the ice spears unleashed from the Gryphon, he swung 『Kakura』 vigorously at its body. What was returned was a heavy feeling like beating a large mass of rubber.

“KyII!!?”

The Gryphon’s body recoiled sideways, and the place where 『Kakura』stroked was hollowed out greatly.

While the Gryphon was hit by 『Kakura』, which unleashed its slashing attack power as if to cut up the enemy, it wasn’t the end for the Gryphon.

“GRUUU…”

Even if a normal living thing who had received that blow would have their internal organs destroyed, the Gryphon only raised a menacing growl.

Rather than the sound come from receiving damage, it was a cry that one could feel an annoying vexation from.

“Shin! Are you okay?!”

Rionne shouted from the rear of the Gryphon.

“No problem here! Don’t come to the front because of the heavy barrage!”

Shin shouted back.

The strength of the ice spears released by its wings was higher than what a half-baked weapon could produce. Even though the intensity had declined over time, the ice spears still pierced through the orichalcum paved road like the tentacles of Gilslay. In some cases, there was also a possibility that they could not be defended against with 『Muspelm』.

“If the main body is made of ice, then how about this?”

Shin, who was dodging the Gryphon’s attack, took out a card and tossed it to the sky while shouting,

“Release 【Flare Burst】!”

The card was torn and a bluish-white sphere was summoned in response to Shin’s shout.

What he threw to the sky was a shot from the front, because the possibility of it being dodged was high.

“KyUAA!?”

Did it feel the magic power in the sphere? The Gryphon raised a voice of caution. Ice spears which came flying toward the sphere were repelled, and the sign of breath forming could be seen in its mouth.

In the short time after it was launched, heat rays were fired from the sphere. Although Shin could also attack the Gryphon himself at the same time as he tossed the sphere, the effect of the magic may have weakened when Shin approached.

Therefore, Shin materialized 4 one-handed knives made of orichalcum, gripped them between his fingers and threw them.

If it was a synchronized attack from the top and the front, lowering the possibility of either being evaded.

“Shin?”

Rionne was watching Shin’s movements, but expressed her doubt.

It was mostly because the knives Shin threw were greatly off the mark.

“KyUIII!!”

The Gryphon probably also thought he missed the mark. It repelled only two of them which came flying by its wings, and a breath was fired toward the approaching heat ray from the sky.

The snow-white breath collided with the bluish-white heat rays, offsetting each other. The power of the attacks were almost equal, neither one of them overwhelmed the other one-sidedly.

However, that state was only for an instant. The knives which were thrown in the wrong direction changed trajectory and pierced the stomach and the wing of the Gryphon.

“GyUA!”

The power of its breath diminished along with the scream.

Then, the heat ray overcame the breath and hit the Gryphon directly.

“GIIIIIIIIIIII!?”

The Gryphon’s squeal reverberated through the sky of Kalkia.

Its left wing which it had promptly used as a shield was almost evaporated, and the left side of the Gryphon’s face was also burned hideously.

From the wing, which was mostly missing, and from the burnt skin, blue steam spouted out.

“What on earth was that just now…”

Rionne, who saw the knives whose trajectory changed at almost a right angle to pierce the Gryphon, muttered in a dumbfound state.

What Shin had done was called a throwing technique and wind combination skill 【Trick Throw】; it was a skill that made the trajectory of the thrown weapon go toward the target.

In this world where skills were extremely scarce, it may have been unusual for her.

“In that timing, there’s no way I could miss!”

In that single chance, Shin attacked the Gryphon which received damage and lost its balance.

As the breath was not usable as a result of half of its face being burnt, a barrage of ice spears came from its single wing; it was the ideal situation to come close.

“This time it won’t go like a while ago!”

Shin put up『Kakura』 against a blow by the right forefoot of the Gryphon.

The Gryphon’s ice talons burst open together with a roaring sound. The flying ice spears which changed into ice debris were easy to deal with if one knew how to handle them.

As the attack of the forefoot was flicked away, if he turned around to the right side of the collapsed Gryphon’s face, the ice spears didn’t show any effect.

There, Shin brandished his 『Kakura』.

“【Enchant Fire】”

Along with Shin’s mutter, 『Kakura』 was enveloped in flames.

Leaving a red trace in the air, 『Kakura』 struck on the Gryphon’s body directly.

With a thunderous sound that resembled an explosion, the Gryphon slid sideways for about 5 mels. The Gryphon’s talons scraped off the orichalcum pavement, and claw marks were carved on the ground. Though the talons seemed to break easily due to Shin’s attack, the strength of the ice talons were higher than a thin layer of orichalcum.

On the body where Shin hit, some kind of burnt traces remained. Blue steam also grandly leaked from there, as the wound had not burnt completely.

“Its HP condition decreased decently. That steam, is it different from bleeding and magic leakage?”

Shin thought while seeing the HP gauge of the Gryphon.

In case of the bleeding state, it should be the same as a poison; the HP should decrease intermittently. However, the Gryphon had not received any more damage than what Shin had dealt.

“Isn’t it an abnormal state?”

Some of the monsters at boss class often had special attack methods.

In case of the golem group it was hand throwing, in the spector group it was summoning followers, the ability that reflected each of their characteristics were typical. Of course, there were exceptions among them, too.

What he could imagine from the steam gushing out from the wound was an ability of the type that takes time, and changes the environment to one where the boss could fight more easily. This was like a Black Spirit*; many of the monsters which mainly composed of magic attacks had it. (T/N1: Black Spirit is as it sounds like, an RPG monster which is a Spirit)(T/N2: When it says ‘it’, it talks about the ability to change the environment)

“*Shoom*!”

The state of Shin and the Gryphon glaring at each other was probably to determine for a good opportunity.

From the blind spot of the Gryphon, Rionne again prepared with 『Muspelm』 and jumped out.

“KyUI?”

The attention of the Gryphon seemed to completely point toward Shin, it wasn’t able to cope with the surprise attack.

Rionne jumped onto the back of the Gryphon again, and exercised 【Tyrant Beat】. Leaving a trail of orange color, 『Muspelm』 was slammed against the Gryphon.

“GyII!”

The Gryphon which couldn’t bear it, screamed at Rionne who attacked mainly on the left half of its body which was badly burned.

Shin drew the attention of the Gryphon from the front without interfering with Rionne.

“Rionne! I don’t know whether there’s any effect from the steam coming out from the wound! Don’t let it touch you!”

“Got it!”

Rionne utilized the length of 『Muspelm』’s blade, wielding the sword skillfully so as to not touch the steam.

However, as time passed by, Rionne’s movement became too dull to keep up. If one looked closely, the blue steam was clinging to Rionne’s body before she was aware of it.

There was an indication of speed drop when he checked Rionne’s status.

“It’s a debuff system, huh?”

Shin, who had a bad hunch, immediately released cancellation of the weakening magic.

“【Cure All】!”

Though 【Cure】 was sufficient if it’s a single abnormal state, Shin chose the most effective skill he had just in case.

The ability of the enemy whose effect he couldn’t identify, he knew it from experience that it was good to be extra wary. The moment when Rionne had her movement back, she jumped off from the back of the Gryphon. Then the Gryphon waved its wing toward Rionne who was mid-air.

Rionne prevented a direct hit by using 『Muspelm』 as a shield. However, it was impossible for her to completely block the power in the air, and she was sent flying.

Rionne forcibly fixed her posture while mid-air and as she landed the ground was whittled down. Sparks scattered on the paved road and on 『Muspelm』.

“Such power from only being hit by a wing, huh?…”

A muffled voice leaked from Rionne’s mouth.

Even though 『Muspelm』 became a shield, she was sent flying for about 10 mels by the Gryphon. Even if there was almost no damage, the burden on her body was immeasurable.

“I’ll get its attention! Go into a building for a moment!”

Shin shouted and invoked flame system magic skill 【Smoke Bomb】.

A black globe appeared in the air and rushed toward the Gryphon.

“KyUA!”

Though the Gryphon only had a single wing, it still intercepted the black globe well.

When the widely scattered ice spears touched the globe, the black smoke was dispersed grandly with a “Puff” sound.

“GRURURU…”

Did it get cautious over the black smoke covering its surroundings? The Gryphon raised its voice and growled. Without a slight break, a strong wind swept along with a wind noise.

From Shin’s point of view, it seemed that the Gryphon had spread its wing and caused the wind. However, the black smoke generated by the smoke bomb was not affected by the wind. So no matter how much the Gryphon flapped its wing, the black smoke didn’t clear up.

“KyUIII!”

The Gryphon cried as it got irritated.

The black smoke of 【Smoke Bomb】 could obstruct both the sense of smell and sight. So it seemed both were effective. It obviously lost sight of Shin and Rionne as the ice spears were shot in the wrong directions.

Shin fended off the flying ice spears occasionally, and joined with Rionne in the shade of a building. After making sure the wall wouldn’t easily be broken thanks to its thickness, he checked on Rionne’s condition.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, my hands are a bit numb, but I’m all right. But I’m sorry, my attacks don’t seem to deal effective damage to that guy.”

During neither the first nor the second time, Rionne’s attacks couldn’t deal proper damage to the Gryphon.

Power was achieved with skill, so the Gryphon probably had greater defensive power than the combination of Rionne’s STR and 『Muspelm』’s attack power.

“Since I came here, I haven’t been anything other than a burden.”

Rionne put power in her hands gripping the hilt of 『Muspelm』, which touched the ground and made a clattering sound.

Shin then revealed one of his cards to Rionne whose face distorted in frustration.

“It’s also possible to increase the physical ability by 【Enchant】, but what will you do?”

“…Please do. When I’m aimed at by that guy, I’d like to make sure that it won’t interfere with you, Shin.”

Rionne hesitated slightly, but relaxed her shoulders and lowered her head.

“I’ll raise your physical strength and robustness. Please be careful as sensation related to muscle strength can change significantly. Here I go, 【Enchant • Double Strike】 !”

After adding a cautionary note concerning the rise in ability, Shin activated 【Enchant】.

A silver light shone over Rionne’s head, and faded out after it covered her body for a moment. This was the effect when an ability is more than doubled.

“…I feel light”

In the state resulting from【Enchant】, Rionne lifted 『Muspelm』 and said so.

The enormous metal 『Muspelm』 felt like a twig.

“I think you should have realized it, but you cannot treat a weapon the usual way when in a strengthened state. The swing speed is too fast and causes a gap in self-image and senses. Therefore, when trying to strike down a long-distance attack of an enemy, swinging to the sky happens quite often.”

【Enchant】 was very excellent in battle. However, it was a type of skill that only applied to the player, and not the weapon, such that there was an adverse effect.

In the game era, there were two things which caused numerous accidents.

First was as Shin said; because of a shift in timing, neither attack nor defense could be performed satisfactorily. Second, one couldn’t stop at the place they thought when their AGI raised, and self-destruct by crashing into a monster.

Also in the game era, if 【Enchant】 was applied in an unfamiliar state, it was said that it was better not to apply anything when it came to fighting power.

The reason why Shin hadn’t suggested this when they came to Kalkia, was because such risks were taken into account.

Though the rate of increase of the stats depended on the value of the conjurer’s INT, it was Shin who applied 【Enchant】 to Rionne. The effect wasn’t ordinary.

Nevertheless, Shin has yet to acquire the ability which let him adjust 【Enchant】’s rate of increase, Naturally he didn’t have the time to train and master it in Kalkia.

“Now you can dodge the ice spears as much as possible, probably using 『Muspelm』 as a shield. Don’t try to strike it down unskillfully.”

Shin didn’t forget to remind her a couple more times, so she wouldn’t do anything incompetent.

If she focused only on defense, there would be fewer odd mistakes, too.

“Indeed, this is great. It’s like holding 『Muspelm』 like a wooden sword. I may get intoxicated with this feeling of omnipotence.”

While swinging 『Muspelm』 up and down, Rionne said with an eager expression.

Even Shin understood that she would charge recklessly if he didn’t give her a warning.

Vol. 4 Chapter 4 – Part 2

“KyUAAAAAA!”

At the same time as Rionne muttered, the Gryphon’s cry echoed.

Shin was ‘waiting and watching’ in the shadow of a building when the Gryphon released its breath in every direction, trying to cover its surroundings with ice.

“Oi oi, it’s recovering.”

Other than the buildings covered with ice, Shin also saw the left half of the Gryphon’s body.

The left half of its body, which was previously burnt by the 【Flare Burst】that Shin had thrown, was already considerably recovered. Though it was not fully healed yet, its wing had almost restored to about 70% of its former shape.

The HP that Shin had greatly reduced was mostly restored, too. The current Gryphon’s HP was about 90% of complete recovery.

“It’s too fast, even for self-recovery!”

Hearing Rionne’s words, Shin looked closely at the wing.

“That’s regeneration rather than recovery. The melted wing is sucking in the blue steam and is restoring to how it was previously!”

The steam, without leaking out of the Gryphon’s wounds, had gathered on the tip of the wing that hadn’t finish regenerating.

Was it regenerating by gathering the steam? Though it wasn’t conclusive whether it hastened the regeneration speed, it was certain that the Gryphon would restore completely over time.

“It seems that the steam will disappear soon. Rather than dealing a large amount of damage all at once, it seems better to shave it down little by little.”

Shin had no conclusive evidence, but as far as he could tell, the steam that didn’t vanish was used for the regeneration of its wing and had gushed out in large amounts from its gaping wound.

Since the wound on the front leg and the body had already recovered, there was no way to tell how those places had regenerated.

“I’ll go to the front. Rionne, you observe the Gryphon’s state; if there’s any change, tell me. Because there’s a possibility that it’s still hiding something, don’t let your guard down. Just be careful.”

“Yeah, there still may be something like the abnormal state from a little while ago. But, Shin, will you be alright alone?”

“You can count on me. It’s not my first time fighting like this.”

They confirmed their course of action and Shin jumped out from the building first.

The effect of the black smoke still remained, as the Gryphon didn’t turn towards Shin.

“Going near it seems bad. I’ll do it from a long distance.”

Shin went around to face its right side where the damage was still being restored, and shot the wind system magic skill 【Air Cutter】.

A blade of wind flew and cut through the black smoke, and slashed the body of the Gryphon. It wasn’t a deep wound. He had deliberately dropped the power, and intended to make a lot of cuts on the surface of its body.

As for the length of the wound, it was about 20 cemels long. The steam, which spouted out, vanished when it rose by approximately 30 cemels. This state wasn’t really different from the one he saw in the early stages of battle.

“The damage dealt is small. Though the wound itself appears to have steam coming out, its state doesn’t seem to have additional decreases to its HP. I need to pay attention to the changes in its body movements and its attacks, huh?”

Shin thought about the countermeasure while observing the state of the Gryphon.

For caution’s sake, he didn’t forget to prepare the cure, so that it was usable anytime.

“Next, I’ll go head on.”

The Gryphon spread its wings and released the ice spears.

Even though the wing had not fully recovered, it was not inferior even when compared with the time it was in a perfect state. Among the widely scattered ice spears, Shin accurately struck down only on those whose trajectory pointed toward himself while advancing.

“KyUAAAAAA!”

Then, a breath of ice approached.

However, as the ice breath had a small range and slower speed than the ice spears, it couldn’t catch up to Shin’s speed. The ice spears that were shot in order to not interfere with the ice breath, were no longer functioned as the primary artillery barrage, and for Shin, it wasn’t difficult to break through the barrage of ice which had become weak.

“Yo, how’s the condition of your body?”

The Gryphon, which concluded that there was no effect from the breath, answered Shin’s remark with a blow of ice talons.

If one looked closely, the ice talons which extended from the Gryphon’s foreleg became one size bigger than before.

“It is reinforced each time it regenerate, huh?”

The ice talons which crashed onto 『Kakura』, shattered like the last time.

However Shin felt that even the size of the shattered ice seemed to have increased. It was likely that its strength went up, too. Though it was natural, the ice spears which transformed from the shattered pieces were just as big as the huge pieces.

By going around to the back, Shin made the Gryphon’s huge figure a shield, causing the ice spears to fly over him.

“Kyiiiiiiiiii!!”

However, the Gryphon also kicked the ground with its hind legs and tried to maintain the line of fire by hovering with its wings.

“That’s a poor move.”

Though the Gryphon displayed a nimbleness which didn’t match its gigantic figure, it was  in the line of fire of its own ice spears. Guaranteed to hit the Gryphon, it received a huge damage.

In addition, when considering their physical differences, it was like showing its belly to Shin as the Gryphon flew and floated in the air. It could be said to be a heaven-sent opportunity to drive in a single blow, although there was no guarantee that the belly was soft like an ordinary creature’s.

“Hoo――”

Without overlooking the little opening, Shin, who wielded 『Kakura』, jumped at the bosom without holding back.

From 『Kakura』 that cut up the air, a purple flame burst out.

“――raAAA!!!”

The feathers of the Gryphon were blown away and scattered at the flank of the swung down 『Kakura』, and sank into the skin and inside the meat.

Just like that, the Gryphon’s belly caved in and it slammed against the ground with its whole body.

“GIE!!?”

With a giant body more than 5 mels long falling to the ground, an earthquake traveled through the ground.

The sound of buildings, which were about to crumble, collapsed, and arrived at Shin’s ears along with the Gryphon’s groan.

“Was that about 10% just now?”

Shin confirmed the Gryphon’s remaining HP while landing.

Although his stats were restrained and although his weapon was not 《Ancient》 grade, a single blow directly from Shin had only dealt damage equal to about 10% of its total health. It was an exceptional defensive power for a monster he came across in this world.

The Gryphon didn’t continue to expose the gap while lying on the ground. A gaze of precaution was directed at Shin as it immediately kicked the ground and stood up.

“G-GIIII…”

However, there was no power in that gaze. It was because the purple flames were still spreading in the part where Shin struck the single blow.

At this moment, the Gryphon’s HP gauge was decreasing little by little. What Shin used was the mallet technique and flame technique combination skill 【Wicked Flame Fall】; it generated a flame which dealt additional damage for a certain period of time when an attack hit.

Was it because the Gryphon was clad in ice that it was weak to the fire? The Gryphon made a groan like sound. It was going to let the flame induced wound freeze, but the power of the flame was strong and continued to burn its body.

“That one blow is effective, huh?”

It didn’t seem to be able to recover the internal damage, as there was no steam gushing out that it could suck into its belly. It didn’t recover the HP which continued to decrease.

As for Shin, who judged that dealing damage by blows was more appealing, he once again thrust from the front.

Though the Gryphon came to intercept him immediately, the accuracy of its attack had declined, probably because of the flames burning in its stomach.

Shin slipped through the weakly aimed barrage, eluded the talons, and hammered 『Kakura』 on the places where it wasn’t covered in ice, such as the Gryphon’s body or its neck, etc. Along with its decreased HP, the movements of the Gryphon became duller.

Then, that moment came around. The accumulated damage had reached its feet. The Gryphon had raised its ice talons toward Shin, but its hind leg that was on the ground suddenly lost power.

The Gryphon which swung up its foreleg, couldn’t recover from its collapsing posture. Shin didn’t miss that fatal opening.

“Sorry but I can’t afford to miss here.”

The one who got attacked was the Gryphon. The one who tried to hunt was being hunted, it was the way of the world.

Shin kicked the ground and jumped up, a bluish-white sphere appearing on his right palm. This was the flame technique system magic skill which had burnt half of the Gryphon’s body;【Flare Burst】’s sphere, before the heat ray was discharged.

Shin then pushed the sphere onto the falling Gryphon’s head.

“Can you withstand this at zero distance?”

As soon as Shin finished speaking, a heat ray was discharged from the sphere.

Against the mighty amount of heat emitted from point blank, the Gryphon had no way to defend. The heat ray which charged straight, melted the Gryphon’s head as it went through the body in the line of fire, and melted the ground.

The body of the Gryphon, whose head had vanished, fell down to the ground as it lost power. The HP which was displayed was 0 without a doubt.

From its body where the heat ray penetrated its head, and other wounds as well, a mix of blue and green liquid flowed out.

“Is it over?”

As Shin landed on the ground, he was wary of the surroundings next to the Gryphon’s corpse.

He felt only Rionne’s presence.

“Shin! You did it!”

Rionne, who had been hiding, came running up. She called out to Shin, after confirming the Gryphon had ceased to breathe.

“It’s possible to go outside now with this, huh?”

“Worst case, even if we can’t go out from the side entrance, we can use the means to open the gate.”

“Will that be alright? It’s possible for the outside monsters to come in.”

“The side entrance here is somehow connected to the room with the gate opening and shutting device. Besides, it has a width to the extent where a carriage can pass through when the gate is open, and it also closes after several minutes. Even if there are monsters outside, if it’s you and I, it’s possible to escape as soon as we defeat them.”

After verifying the detailed operation and time taken, etc, when it seemed to be no problem, Shin also agreed with Rionne’s opinion.

However, at that time when the two people began to walk, a change happened.

 

◆◆◆◆

 

“What?”

It was Shin who noticed it first. When he turned around, on the periphery of the body, fluid was flowing out of the Gryphon, blue steam was generated.

“The monster’s body fluid?”

“I think it’s the steam coming out from the wounds simultaneously with the body fluids…although I have a bad feeling.”

Almost at the same time when Shin said that, the steam converged mid-air and a familiar silhouette was formed.

In just a few seconds, there was a figure of Gryphon which was exactly the same as several minutes before in front of Shin and Rionne.

“KyuAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

A roar together accompanied by ice spears assaulted the two people.

Shin and Rionne resisted it, and escaped to shelter for a moment.

“…Now then, what will you do? It has resurrected!”

“Yeah. What I think is, it has a separate main body, and the rest was created by magic.”

“Hmm, what do you mean?”

“There is another main body, it means that the Gryphon is a puppet or something, and another monster or conjurer manipulates it. As the monster is created by magic, it’s the technique to engrave on something, but it feel like the revival and the reconstruction of the monster was done automatically. It’s good if the main body is defeated. Also, in case it was engraved with magic, it’s settled when the magic formation or the catalyst is destroyed. Given the circumstances that emerged, I think it’s the latter, but…”

As far as Shin knew, there were several skills to summon a monster.

However, in this case, it was different from the monster partner of tamer and monster summon of summoner. It was also not the doll summons of exorcist’s magic and puppeteering.

The monster was created by magic ―― it appeared to be the closest method he could think of. Normally it was often used as a trap in dungeons.

“Then, there is a magic formula that became the key somewhere in this Sacred Place?”

“Maybe. Because it is usually close to the emerging monster, finding it should not be so difficult . It’s suspicious…it’s over there as I thought.”

While Shin slightly peeked out from under cover, he pointed toward the wall.

“The side entrance? Near the place where the opening and shutting device for the gate is, could there be something that would make such a monster appear, Shin?”

“That Gryphon, I think it prevents us from going outside Sacred Place. Because it holds a position in front of the gate, we cannot get close to the side entrance either. But it doesn’t mean there is no other choice, it’s the most suspicious at the moment.”

Given that the Gryphon had attacked regardless of the place, there shouldn’t be such a thing in a building where it would mistakenly bombard the surrounding area.

“I’ll become a decoy again. Rionne, you enter the side entrance in the meantime and use this item to inspect things. It reacts when there is a magic formation nearby. Here, this is for defensive use when you’re in a pinch.”

Shin said while materializing 2 items in his pocket, and handed them over to Rionne.

Both items were necklace-shaped items, so it would never get in the way of action.

“I have a feeling that these are superb items again…I’ll not ask about it now. I don’t worry because it’s you, Shin. Just don’t act too recklessly.”

Shin nodded at Rionne’s words, and jumped out ahead into the Gryphon’s line of sight.

“I’m here!”

He raised his voice on purpose to notify his presence.

The ice spears came flying instantaneously, but they were brushed off by 『Kakura』 as he approached the Gryphon.

After confirming that the Gryphon’s attention was directed at Shin, Rionne also started to run.

“It could stand a blow of Limit II. Unless I go further, it’s unlikely for me to beat it down.”

After seeing that Rionne went into the side entrance, Shin released the limit.

He couldn’t predict the impact on the surroundings due to having the biggest offensive power. However, in front of the Gryphon, he couldn’t do an instant kill, at least not with his former stats.

Then at this chance, he decided to use it as a subject for an experiment.

*Swish!*

Shin jumped off the ground and shortened the distance to the Gryphon.

To Shin, who was coming at a speed that couldn’t be compared to up until now, the Gryphon was not able to react.

Since he was faster than the ice spears that were shot, the『Kakura』 wielded by Shin reached the Gryphon’s neck. Previously, the strike was obstructed by the Gryphon’s feathers and skin, and even if 『Kakura』 only dealt the damage due to a blow, it was different this time.

The blade part of 『Kakura』 broke through the defensive power of the Gryphon and gouged out the meat while the blade creaked under the power exerted.

Right after Shin passed by next to the Gryphon, the neck of the Gryphon rolled onto the ground after a gap of several seconds.

It was so quick that less than a second had passed from the moment he closed the distance while wielding 『Kakura』 until the Gryphon’s neck was sliced. If there was an expression on the Gryphon, it would have said “I don’t understand what happened”.

However, the body which fell down and the neck which rolled onto the ground turned into blue and green steam before long, furthermore, it was revived in a perfect state in several seconds.

“Until Rionne finds something, shall we have test of who can hold out the longest?”

The distance between Shin and the Gryphon was almost 0.

He knew that it had restored. There was no way he didn’t anticipate such a presage.

Shin mercilessly beat the resurrected Gryphon with 『Kakura』. Once again, its neck dropped, its body was cut in two, and burnt down with magic.

The Gryphon was simply a target to the current Shin. Like a carp on top of a cutting board, it was merely plain food preparation.

 

“GhuI!!”

“Too bad”

The Gryphon’s struggle was futile, as its ice spears were dodged, smashed, and 『Kakura』 was swung down in return. The kill count exceeded 10, 20, and piled up to 30, but the Gryphon hadn’t weakened.

“What’s the deal with it?”

The result was the same either magic or physical.

Shin couldn’t think of anything but to confine it afterward.

“KYUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!”

The Gryphon cried, it was conspicuously high.

Soon after that, the dragged sense Shin felt at the central part of the Sacred Place enveloped his whole body.

“What again!?”

Come to think of it, it was likely that this Gryphon was connected to the haze at the central part. It didn’t seem to be his imagination after all.

Shin unleashed a magic skill while going against the drawing force, but all too soon, he was drawn in by a white sphere which appeared on the joint part of the Gryphon’s neck. Though it was possible to shatter it with 『Kakura』, the force becomes irresistible when approached and disappears in the same way of approaching magic. (T/N: He basically can’t destroy the sphere, as it won’t let him. It disappear when one get close and there is force of attraction towards it.)

The suction force gradually became stronger, and Shin’s shoes began to scrape the ground.

Shin made up his mind to attack the sphere, whether he had choice or not. For better or for worse, that happened.

“What the heck is this…”

A golden shine began to escape from Shin’s body.

That light reminded him of the last boss in the death game, Origin’s 【Golden Wave】.

“KYUUUII!!”

In response to the golden lights appearance, the Gryphon groaned. As if it was cautious of the light.

“The drawn feeling faded away, huh?”

Before he knew it, the sense that pulled him toward the center was gone.

While Shin carefully observed the Gryphon, he also devoted some of his attention to the light leaking from his own body. When he attempted to move it using same way he handled magic power, the light surprisingly obeyed Shin’s intention without a hitch.

The golden light gathered at 『Kakura』, and it turned into a golden blade.

“…Shall I try it?”

Shin muttered while he ran.

He was at point-blank range to begin with, so the distance with the Gryphon was closed in an instant, and the swung 『Kakura』 left a golden trace.

“KyuA!?”

The Gryphon also tried to avoid with its very best effort, but its left foreleg flew without it being able to evade.

“KYIIIIIII!!?”

“This is, it went well, huh?”

From the joint of the foot which Shin blew away, the blue steam didn’t come out.

As for the left foreleg which was blown off, it had disappeared as it dissolved in mid-air.

The Gryphon fired ice spears aiming at Shin, and tried to keep distance. It was not possible to read its facial expression, but that was indeed the flustered expression of the Gryphon.

If the advantage of overwhelming regenerative ability was lost, it was a natural reaction to have, because the difference between their combat strength was obvious.

“I don’t understand it well, but I’m grateful!”

Shin corrected his posture with 『Kakura』, and took aim at the Gryphon.

“KYUU…KYUA!”

In an instant when the Gryphon was aware of Shin who had the shining 『Kakura』, it donned an armor of ice on its whole body.

As for the lost left foreleg, it was compensated with an artificial limb made of ice. Its talons were enlarged further, each one seemed to be a sharp sword. Its body also became one size bigger by having ice enveloped to its whole body, and a feeling of coercion increased too. A thin blue aura emitted from the armor of ice.

“KYUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!”

“Is that your full power? Bring it on!!”

Shin also screamed back at the roar filled with thirst for blood.

It was the Gryphon that took the first move. Its flying speed, formation speed, and ice spears which was shot by its wings became remarkably fast.

In the barrage of ice which tried to bury the surroundings, Shin answered by waving 『Kakura』.

With enhanced dynamic vision, Shin firmly perceived the ice spears coming toward him. His arm which wielded 『Kakura』, responded to Shin’s consciousness without any delay.

A golden blur intercepted the blue and green barrage. More than 10 of the ice spears were shattered by one swing of 『Kakura』.

A storm of raining ice spears and hail was not allowed to advance before the impregnable defence formed by the golden blur.

“KyUA!”

However, the ice spears were only for stalling. The enemy’s favorite was the breath which came later.

The breath unleashed from the Gryphon’s mouth went directly toward Shin. Its thickness was twice the previous; it became approximately 80 cemels thick. The breath sped straight through the air like a blue laser, and Shin caught it head-on.

『Kakura』which swung downward straight from the upper position, thrust into the center of the breath. The breath then split into 2 directions with the contact portion of『Kakura』 as the base point. And then the breath ran along Shin’s left and right, and the swallowed up nearby ice spears were frozen over. In the twinkling of an eye, anything that wasn’t behind Shin was covered in ice.

“I was preoccupied by the front that I’ve become negligent of other things.”

“GHUA!?”

That Gryphon screamed almost at the same time as Shin’s remark.

Several explosions were heard; the force of the breath weakened, and the number of ice spears decreased too. Emerging from the opening  『Kakura』 made by scattering the breath, the figure of the Gryphon with the back part of its ice armor split open.

Shin, who had activated flying magic skill while facing the breath, had attacked from the Gryphon’s overhead. The explosive sounds were the result of using a skill of the flame technique system. It seemed that the damage reached not only the armor but also the inside, as the breath ceased after a few second as well.

With less ice spears, there would no longer be any obstacle for Shin. Against Shin who closed the distance instantaneously, the Gryphon answered with talons of its foreleg.

The fact that it couldn’t even react some time ago was hard to believe, as its eyes managed to track Shin’s movements. Earlier at the beginning, its left talons were swung out a beat late.

The shining talons which basked under the sun, appeared to flaunt their sharpness.

*Swish!*

To match the right talons, Shin raised 『Kakura』.

The moment they struck each other, the repelled right foreleg of the Gryphon flew into the air. With the momentum of the raised『Kakura』just now, Shin rotated sideways on the spot. The raised 『Kakura』struck against the left ice foreleg which approached too late.

In front of the Gryphon, 『Kakura』 drew a golden arc. Its left ice foot, which couldn’t withstand the power of 『Kakura』, flew into the air like its right foreleg.

“I got y――huh!?”

Just as Shin went directly to take its neck, a strike entered from the upper left sky.

He immediately repelled it with 『Kakura』, and glanced at the things that attacked him.

“That a Gryphon’s tail huh? But I suppose it should be quieter…”

What was swaying from side to side in the air was the Gryphon’s tail which didn’t have a presence until now.

It was covered in ice and had its length extended, it had become like a whip.

With an armor worn on its whole body, the number of weapons seemed to have increased too.

“But it’s futile!”

If the secret was broken, coping was possible.

It was said that the tip of a common whip could surpass the speed of sound, but the Gryphon’s tail was even faster. However, it was not a speed that Shin couldn’t react to.

He was only surprised to see an attack from an unexpected direction upon receiving it. The trajectory of the tail flying on a wall, along with the huge figure of the Gryphon, had been supplemented by his 【Mind’s Eyes】.

Shin matched its timing, and flung 『Kakura』 against the flying ice tail. As the strength of the tail was low, it was easily cut.

“…It has quick recovery, huh?”

Shin expressed his discouraged grumble.

Because in front of Shin, the tail was restored in but a moment. It was probably because the part he sliced off was not a living body.

And then both of its forelegs were reconstructed with ice too.

“As expected, I have no choice but to slice its neck.”

As soon as Shin said so, he invoked a magic skill.

The golden light which covered 『Kakura』, fused with a crimson red light. At the same time, above the sky, a flame technique system magic skill【Red Tomahawk】 was fired onto the Gryphon’s rear. An arc was drawn in the sky, as Shin began to aim the flame bullets to rain at the Gryphon.

While attacking Shin with its tail, the Gryphon back stepped with an agility that belied its gigantic figure. It spread its wings and fired ice spears at the sky, while sending forth a breath.

“What a clever guy!”

The Gryphon which dealt with simultaneous attacks from the sky and the land, was praised by Shin. That was simply because it was the composure of the strong.

In reality, the Gryphon was not able to completely prevent his attack. The flame bullets plowed through while erasing the storm of ice spears. Though several blew up on the way, the remainder were rained down on the Gryphon.

“GHUII!?”

A scream leak from the Gryphon’s mouth. Its tail strike and breath were interrupted.

“This time I won’t miss!!”

The ground was crushed as Shin stepped on it.

『Kakura』 which went into motion, cast more light.

A mallet technique and flame technique combination skill 【Flame Net Charge】.

『Kakura』was struck against the base of the Gryphon’s neck.

The armor of ice evaporated after touching 『Kakura』, and the Gryphon’s body along its trajectory was burnt off.

Along the slashing mark, a red line was carved on the Gryphon’s body.

“See you”

After leaving a parting word, Shin distanced himself immediately.

In the next moment, intense light emitted from the red line carved on the Gryphon, and exploded.

【Flame Net Charge】 was originally used for blunt weapons such as hammers and so on to crush the opponent, it was a skill to blow up the opponent as well as the ground.

Since 『Kakura』was thin this time, it resulted in an explosion along the line.

“Was it done?”

Shin confirmed that the golden light was also mixed in the explosion.

When that was considered, the effect of the golden light should have been carried on with the effect of the skill. When the explosive flame cleared up, the figure of the Gryphon was nowhere to be seen.

The remains of the Gryphon which turned into pieces, were scattered everywhere.

When he looked at the state for a while, the remains collapsed and vanished like sand. There was nothing left behind. Even the light emitted from Shin’s body disappeared after the Gryphon exploded.

Vol. 4 Chapter 4 – Part 3

“What the heck was that?…”

When Shin breathed out a sigh of fatigue, he heard a *Ga-thunk* sound from the gate.

When he turned his gaze toward the sound, a heavy gate was slowly opening.

“Shin! Are you alright!?”

From the direction of the voice, Rionne was running from the side entrance.

It seemed like she managed to open the gate safely.

“I’m okay, Rionne. I defeated the Gryphon somehow. What was that?”

“Ah, I heard an explosive sound, so I thought you had used a trump card. I was thinking about trying to escape as soon as the Gryphon was temporarily incapacitated.”

The monsters in the Sacred Place didn’t go outside. She seemed to have intended to utilize that rule.

Since the Gryphon was an unknown monster, it may have chased them later on, but she judged that it was possible to push it back with 2 people. There was also a possibility that the Gryphon couldn’t pass through the slightly opened gate with its gigantic body.

“Because it’s you, Shin, although I also felt that you could defeat it…It seem I was right.”

“More than anything, I seem to be able to live up to expectations. Now, let’s hurry up before the gate closes.”

Shin urged Rionne and moved to the outside of the gate.

Thereupon, Shin and Rionne went outside and walked on the road a little, and exactly as Rionne said, the gate closed automatically. When Shin shifted his eyes toward the sky, the magic barrier which enveloped the Sacred Place also deactivated.

What had happened? Shin didn’t understand it.

However, he made up his mind to remember this event well, and looked back at Rionne. He smiled with an expression as gentle as possible. Because she may be worried if he still had a serious face.

“It was a successful escape.”

“Yeah, for the time being, rather than being inside, it should be much safer.”

 

◆◆◆◆

 

While being cautious of the surroundings, the two people were still not as tense as they were inside Kalkia.

“Let’s run from here on out. Both of us are upper class Chosen Ones. Rather than looking for a village to procure a horse, running by ourselves is better and we can arrive faster.”

“Yeah, I have no objection. Balmel is at the eastside of the Melt Mountains, so if we run while making the mountains into landmarks, we should be fine.”

Balmel was a fort city that was built in order to respond when the monsters overflowed from Kalkia. It faced both the sea and mountains, and seemed to be a convenient place to live if only there was no mass monster outbreak.

Since there was also the promise with Schnee, he decided to go toward Balmel as Rionne said. They ran at a speed that would leave horses behind.

 

After 15 minutes of running while ignoring the monsters which were seen occasionally, Shin perceived an abnormal number of monsters’ presences in his sensing range.

“…Hey Rionne, is Balmel further ahead?”

“Yes, is there something wrong?”

“There are large amount of monsters ahead, is that alright?”

Rionne, who heard the information which Shin perceived, made a stiffened expression all of a sudden.

“Don’t tell me, the ‘Flood’ is happening!?”

“‘Flood’?”

“Around the Sacred Place, the demon essence accumulates, which overflows from the Sacred Place. Though it doesn’t have influence on the human body, when the demon essence gathers to a certain amount, all of it manifests into monsters and is unleashed into the surroundings. We call that the ‘Flood’.”

Shin, by chance, had previously read about the description of the phenomenon in the library of Bayreuth.

In the content written in the book, it was a story of emergence of the low-level monsters. However no matter how much he looked, the number of monsters would cause numerous resources to be destroyed.

“If the end of the monster line is still here, the front may not arrive at Balmel immediately. I’ll overtake it and support Balmel.”

“Roger. As expected, in this situation, you won’t just leave them alone, Shin.”

A commoner would have simply run away, but unfortunately, these two people were far from commoners.

Balmel wouldn’t fall easily; there would be enough countermeasures as it was the only purpose of the town. However the scale of the ‘Flood’ was not fixed, ‘there’s no knowing what may happen’, was also written.

It was not a thing he could ignore when he heard about it; that’s the character of the man called Shin.

 

“It seems going home will take longer.”

The running Rionne, who took a detour to chase after the group of monsters, Shin also raised his pace of running.

 

After a little while, a huge group of monsters were confirmed by sight.

In every ‘Flood’, there seemed to be a trend in the emerging monsters. This time it was humanoid monsters, such as goblins and orcs that became the majority.

Was it a blessing of God? Compared to the high physical ability beast type and the tirelessly golem type, their pace was considerably slow. However, the large crowd of monsters was certainly headed to Balmel.

 

“Hmm? Hey Rionne, there’s smoke rising over there, do you know what it is?”

At the right front of the running Shin, a big cloud of smoke that appeared suddenly was visible.

When he listened carefully, explosive sounds were audible, too. Apparently, there was something going on in the vicinity of the boundary between the forest in the plain and the Melt Mountains.

“Perhaps, the Mist Garuda have descended the mountains. Melt Mountains is in the territory of the Mist Garuda after all. When the monsters that were born, in the ‘Flood’, were about to enter the mountains, I heard they were reduced to ashes. That’s why the monsters have no choice but to advance toward Balmel.”

The Mist Garuda may not have had the intention, but they seemed to have become the figure that guided the monsters toward Balmel in a good way.

On top of that, since it killed the monsters which trespassed on the mountains, it had reduced the numbers that reached Balmel. Therefore, it was said that the act of trying to hunt the Mist Garuda in Melt Mountains was prohibited in a treaty. Because it reduced the damage of the ‘Flood’, it was outrageous to fight against each other.

“That’s the Mist Garuda, huh?”

A big shadow flying in the sky was reflected in Shin’s eyes as he ran while watching the mountains.

The Mist Garuda was flying leisurely while leaving an arc like a vapour trail. The mist was shaped like a bird, as shown in its name, and its level was high, ranged between 700 – 800. It had a lot of special attacks, and was a very powerful monster.

“Oh, that is..”

From the Mist Garuda which was dancing in the sky, a red mist was sprayed.

The goblins and ogres started to roll over with their whole bodies covered in flames the moment the mist touched them.

It was one of the special attacks of the Mist Garuda, ‘Fog of Flare’.

If you didn’t have resistance to a certain level of flame attribute, you could receive an abnormal status where your HP decreased by 10% per second and die in 10 seconds. It was even said that the setting in the game may be wrong, as it was the fog of death that burnt many players to death, although it was the monsters being roasted this time.

“Anyway, why is it that the monsters still go in even though they know they are going to be burned?”

Shin thought of such things, looking at the monsters which kept on diving into their own death.

“The monsters that emerge from the ‘Flood’ tend to have significantly lower intelligence. That’s why they charge until the last one standing.”

Indeed. The monsters which were born from the ‘Flood’, seemed to be different from ordinary monsters.

While wishing that the Mist Garuda burned the monsters as much as possible, Shin and Rionne decided to leave from that place.

 

◆◆◆◆

 

Shin and Rionne ran on the plain as they overtook the group of monsters which were previously ahead of them and became a black wave.

The map which was projected onto Shin’s view when he passed the group of monsters, displayed only a bright red marker without any gap where the monsters were. It was too crowded, and the distinction of the individual was difficult, too.

“Is it always such a large crowd?”

“Maybe. I think there are various kinds of scales in the ‘Flood’, but I don’t remember it. The number of monsters were a bit more than when I participated in the battle once. It would be nice if there were fewer to be considered…”

Rionne probed into her memories while remembering the scene from that time.

What Rionne talked about for a while was the story where she merely drove a sword into the emerged monsters, and repeatedly killed them. This ‘Flood’ felt larger in scale than the one at that time, Rionne added at the end.

Even if Rionne knew strong soldiers were there to protect Balmel, her feet naturally increased the speed.

“I understand your feelings, but you’re pushing too much, Rionne.”

Seeing Rionne who had shortness of breath, Shin called for a break.

No matter how much an upper class Chosen One Rionne was, her stamina was not unlimited. Before arriving at Balmel, there’s no meaning if she got completely exhausted and couldn’t move.

“Let’s take a break for a moment on top of that hill. We already passed the leading group of the monster too. Rest for a little bit.”

“But! …Well, sorry, you’re right, Shin.”

Rionne was probably trying to say that she still can go on, but she noticed her own state as well.

If this goes on as it is, she would run out of energy in the middle of the way. Since they kept running at a high speed, the monsters’ group was already quite far behind. Even if Shin and Rionne arrived at Balmel, several days could be expected to pass before the monsters reached them.

Considering their pace, it was reasonable to rest here, because there was still a distance to cover to get to Balmel.

“It’s called a fort city so haven’t they already repelled the enemy many times over?”

While they were on break, Shin asked about Balmel.

If it’s a city built for ‘Flood’ control, a military unit with reasonable equipment should exist.

“It is indeed, but it won’t finish without a small number of sacrifices. Moreover now, among 3 upper class Chosen Ones who should protect Balmel, one is absent.”

“Is it okay to be absent as the main part of defense?”

“It seemed there was something at the church, that he had to guard a certain person. Geez, what is the church thinking about?”

Rionne frowned as she couldn’t understand it.

The fort city according to Rionne, apart from being the ‘Flood’ breakwater, had received a dispatched upper-class Chosen Ones from the church and the neighboring countries. Because the fort city was inferior in terms of numbers, it was a strategy to compensate with quality.

However this time, since the church has stimulated a talk about pulling out a Chosen One at their own discretion, objections flooded from various countries.

(The church, huh?…Is it by any chance, that guy?)

Hearing “Church” and “A certain person”, a figure of a knight who damaged his wagon during the journey to Falnido came to Shin’s mind.

In this world, it was quite common that the actual status differ from the height of a level. However, a high-leveled person was still limited. The knights at that time, especially the man who destroyed the wheels of the wagon was level 239. It was higher than the present Rionne.

It was no more than a possible story, but if it’s the truth, it would be necessary to add restraints to the priest who threatened the knights.

“What about the other two? Will they able to pull through somehow?”

“The combination is not bad. The other two are a magic swordsman like me and a mage. If they cooperate with the high-leveled adventurers who are in Balmel, they would never lose as long as there is no accident. The problem is the number of victims.”

“How far could the enemy be reduced by magic skills of the mage, was the key”, Rionne murmured, and drank water.

Even though how much the mage was called a Chosen One, a skill couldn’t be released forever.

Though it depended on ability and skill, there was also a limit in range a person could cover.

“How is the fighting force of Balmel? There are Chosen Ones from the adventurers’ guild, right?”

“Indeed apart from the dispatched people, there are powerful people who are close to an upper-class Chosen Ones. But most of them are melee type. Only few people who can attack a wide area.”

It was alright if the monsters were in small number, but when it comes to several hundreds of thousands, defeat would happen in the long run. Since the monsters appearing in the ‘Flood’ were low-level, even with a general soldier it can help to keep it occupied.

Though the course to go over there was changed, Shin decided to contact Schnee just in case.

 

(“This is Shin, is it alright to talk now?”)

(“Yes, did something something?”)

After making sure there was no problem to communicate, Shin told the ‘Flood’ things to Schnee.

(“I can’t say anything about the scale unless I see them myself. It it’s the normal scale, we don’t have to worry about Balmel at least.”)

Schnee judged calmly after she listened to Shin’s story.

However, there was an irregular this time.

(“Have you taken that 1 Chosen One’s absence into account?”)

(“If the Chosen One who is not there is not a mage, it would be all right. Since the monster itself can be dealt with just Balmel’s forces.”)

“Although I have not considered the victims”, Schnee continued.

(“I got it. I’m going to rush up to Balmel from here, you should hurry as much as possible there, too.”)

(“Understood.”)

 

With Schnee there, it should not be a problem without the Chosen One and so forth.

Though Tiera was not able to move so quickly, she would not be late if Kagerou’s with her.

“…Now then, we’ve had enough rest. Let’s move soon, Shin.”

Thanks to having rested for a while, Rionne seemed to have recovered, as she stood up swiftly.

The talk with Schnee had just ended too, so Shin also stood up at the same time.

“Okay, but I’ll carry that.”

Saying so, Shin carried 『Muspelm』 which was placed on the ground to his back.

It wasn’t much burden to Shin due to the height of his physical strength, he determined that it would be hard for Rionne to carry it and run for a long time.

“Mu! I can carry my own weapon――”

“Rather than fussing over that now, it’s more important to move quickly. You were worn out halfway, you know?”

“Ugh, when that’s said, I cannot talk back…”

Since that was the reason they took a break, Rionne couldn’t argue.

The top priority here was to proceed ahead, and the 『Muspelm』was entrusted to Shin.

“Mumumu!”

“Why are you groaning?”

“We have to hurry up, must to but…damn, I’m ashamed to be tired out at this amount.”

“You unexpectedly hate to lose, huh”

Although they were talking, their running speed has not dropped.

Rionne’s burden of 『Muspelm』 has diminished a lot, she can afford to talk as a result.

 

◆◆◆◆

 

They kept running most of the day, and finished preparation for camping before the sun set.

As one would expect, to keep running for days without sleeping was difficult no matter how much the stamina, so they decided to get enough sleep in a simple tent they set together and stood watch by turn.

After finishing a quick meal, and Shin cleaning up, Rionne began to speak. She casually approached Shin and sent a flirtatious glance.

“You really have a lot of stuff that comes up. Even if I am prepared, isn’t this thoroughly prepared?”

“I was prepared for a journey to begin with. Because I was summoned there, these are the only things I have. Once you convert them into cards, it’s not very bulky.”

“It’s because you can use item cards, huh? I wish my country had a person with that ability.”

In the story Shin asked Wilhelm, there should be a possibility that Rionne and other countries’ Chosen Ones possessed an Item Box if they had items.

“I will not talk about cooperation.”

Shin didn’t know the detailed information, and either way he wouldn’t do it.

“No good?”

“No good.”

“No matter what?”

“Never. Hey! don’t come closer!”

He distanced himself from the leaning forward Rionne who approached him.

Around the area that emphasized her chest, ‘She’s actually aware of her own charm, isn’t she?’, Shin thought. How did the princess’s manners and so forth have fallen? He wanted to ask.

In the darkness of night, Rionne who was illuminated by the bonfire, the lively state she had during the day quieted down, and wore an atmosphere that seemed to be slightly strange.

“For you to be somewhat flustered, is this body even attractive?”

“It’s not that I understand what you have been doing. I mean I should say, is this the kind of thing you should be doing in this situation?”

“I thought you’d say ‘It’s useless to even be flustered’, Shin! If that’s the case, I’ll make good use of the time when I don’t have anything to do.”

“Where’s the effective use of time? Where?”

“It’s time effective at least for me. In this way, I can speak to you without reserve.”

While smiling somewhat lonely, Rionne corrected her sitting posture.

“Without reserve, huh? Rionne, well, there will be such a partner, like when you talked with Gadras, I think that was pretty frank though.”

“Gadras is my sword’s mentor. I’m more comfortable with him than other people. Although, there is still something like a wall to royal family. In that respect, you really have no constraint, Shin.”

“That, in other words, am I just being rude?”

“Sometimes I also want to talk with such a partner, who humbles himself all the time, but it doesn’t suit me personally; although I’m accustomed to such things.”

Rionne often went out to towns, but due to bad publicity, even the adventurers who wasn’t particular much about social status seemed to humble themselves.

“How about your family? Ah well, you don’t have to say it if you don’t want to. There seems to be a lot of discord in some places.”

“It’s not the things I conceal particularly. You’re right, our family’s interpersonal connections had…been long gone. Although we’re not on a bad terms, I don’t know whether I want a substitute family.”

“It’s that kind of royal family, huh? Well, in case you need someone to talk, I’ll be your companion. ――Hey! Why are you getting clingy!”

“Sometimes even a princess will want to depend on someone. You may hear my selfishness a little while hearing my story.”

‘Was she teasing me?’, Shin thought, but Rionne never did anything more than cling to Shin’s arm.

“I can’t show this to the people in the castle.”

“Nobody is around. It’s been a long time not being monitored everywhere other than in the battlefield.”

“Good grief, this princess…only this time.”

After a sigh, Shin tossed a branch to the bonfire with his free arm.

It was easy to pull away if he intended to. However, the unhappy speech he listened to was making his intention fade away.

A family was something very important to Shin. Though before the death game, his parents were in good health, and his relationship with his elder brother and younger sister were also good. It was noisy fun, and the place where he should have returned. As he thought to himself, he couldn’t help but to feel something in Rionne’s circumstances.

The serene expression of Rionne relieving her burden, Shin would like to see it a little longer. Speaking furthermore, there was none of the monitoring that Rionne spoke of. It’s mean that Rionne was constantly monitored.

‘You probably have time to relax now’, Shin thought.

“Shin, you’re warm.”

“Is it cold?”

“I don’t mean that.”

‘I know’, he muttered in his mind, and threw another branch on the fire.

*Pop* sounds and the noise of branches split open were heard. Shin was not that thickheaded to be mistaken on the meaning of this situation.

Was this the original Rionne? Shin couldn’t arrive to a conclusion. Where was her usual spirited mood?

“Sleep soon, we will keep on running tomorrow. Don’t reserve the fatigue.”

“Muu, it can’t be helped. Or I have to wait for the next opportunity?”

“Vacate such thinking until we pull through completely over the ‘Flood’.”

Shin who put out a mantle, wrapped up Rionne, and warned her for formality’s sake.

Rionne probably would understand that. Somehow, she took a rest well.

The transition to Sacred Place, the defeat against monsters, and the impatience due to the ‘Flood’. When such various factors were put together, the manner until now was expressed, Shin thought.

The deep darkness of the moonless night.

Groups of monsters from behind.

What can be relied upon by fellow travellers, was only a small bonfire.

Regardless of the strength of capabilities, it was no wonder that a feeling to seek one who can be relied upon was sought, Shin thought.

Speaking of why he understood it, it was because Shin had experienced similar things.

 

Shin and Rionne, Schnee and Tiera, Yuzuha and Kagerou were heading toward Balmel.

A great army of monsters exceeding 1000, approaching moment by moment.

In order to fight against the looming threat, everyone would meet at Balmel.

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