“All right! Get it in position and stun it, Barun!”
“Hah hah… ugh! Youre such a slave driver, you know that, Asley! Im not a hard hitter, for Gods sake!”
“Then just taunt it or something! Ill cover you!”
So here we are, fighting against the Wilhelm, a gigantic serpentine-form Dragon.
The things we needed to watch out for were its tail attacks, the toxic Purgatory Breath, and most important of all, the occasional acid spray from the upper-side surface of its body.
The last one in particular made it quite dangerous for us to attack its sides.
“Boss, breath attack incoming! Pochi! Cover me!”
“Youre such a slave driver, you know that, monkey! GAAAARRRR!!”
Of course, Pochi could still get some solid damage in its flanks with her Zenith Breath from a safe distance.
But despite its exploitable weaknesses, its strength was definitely fit for the S Rank.
Pochis attack this time also managed to interrupt the monsters Purgatory Breath.
I cant let this chance pass me by!
“One, Cross Wind!”
“Two, Cross Wind!”
“Three, Cross Wind!”
“Four, Cross Wind!”
“Five, Cross Wind!”
“Six, Cross Wind!”
“Seven, Cross Wind!”
“Eight, Cross Wind!”
“Nine, Cross Wind!”
Although the Cross Wind was normally an intermediate-level spell, its formula had been modified to make it as strong as an advanced spell.
Utilizing the openings the Wilhelm showed upon being staggered by Pochis breath attack, I aimed my spells at the monsters sides, sending concentrated blades of wind to tear its flesh to shreds.
All right, it worked! I knew the Deca Spell would be easier to pull off with a party backing me up!
“My God, whats with that crazy magic spell!”
“This is the first time Ive ever seen that, too! I swear, youre always full of fun surprises, Asley!”
Although the Dragon was suffering severe cuts, the life force of its kind was still exceptionally high.
It was still alive, albeit with its offensive power now cut in half.
The Wilhelms severed tail end was still wiggling in the mud, and its front half did not show even a sign of willingness to back down.
But weve gotten it this far now – the rest is only a matter of time!
“Guys, watch out for attacks from both of its parts! Were going in for an all-out attack!”
“I would if I could!”
“Fine… Ill do it myself!”
Pochi and Ricky, in their gigantified forms, charged head-first at the Wilhelm.
Pochi dug her fangs into its neck, while Ricky held its upper and lower jaws and pulled them apart.
Now thats gotta hurt!
At the same time, Barun and Betty each dealt a heavy blow on either side of its head.
Ricky, taking the Dragons sky-quaking scream as the opportunity to exert one last burst of strength, completely ripped its mouth open.
“Rwikkey, ghwet bwhack!”
Pochi, after telling that to Ricky, unleashed another Zenith Breath while her mouth was still around the Wilhelms neck.
The Wilhelm, getting a breath attack blown in through the holes in its neck, gradually lost its strength and ceased its struggling.
“Here comes a big spell! Get away, guys! Gatling Lightning!”
Countless lightning bolts lashed forth around the Spell Circle, rushing straight at the Wilhelm.
They passed cleanly through the monsters body, streaking through and fading into the ravine behind it.
Its body, already barely moving in the first place, finally was completely immobile, save for its toppling down, signifying the definite end of its life.
“Oh, I knew having strength in numbers would make things this much easier, sir!”
“Boss, I must say that you have done your part as the decoy quite splendidly.”
“And now theres the sweet 78 grand waiting for us back in town! Say, Barun… you sure you dont want your cut”
I wasnt in this for gold in the first place, anyway.
I mean, were still doing the thing, right The Regalia Ravine is right there.”
Barun had never been interested in the Wilhelm hunt in the first place, and was rather fixated on investigating the Heavenly Beast.
As pushy as Bettys invitation had been, even one of the Six Braves such as him couldnt resist the driving force of human curiosity.
The Heavenly Beasts were the unknown.
With them having been represented in so many fairy tales and folklore, just about anyone would surely feel the d.e.s.i.r.e to encounter the real thing.
And so I nodded to myself, and then, remembering one thing, preemptively stopped everyone as they began to walk away.
“Oh yeah, almost forgot… I gotta loot the Wilhelms eyeballs and fangs.”
“Huh, is there anything they can be crafted into, though Its fangs are super tough and all, but I thought they were considered too small for equipment manufacturing”
“Oh, now that you brought it up… I completely forgot that you were an alchemist, Master!”
Seriously Was that part of me that forgettable
I hadnt been using it for anything much these past few years, but I HAVE been stocking up on the essential materials and components.
Ive got something planned with it for the Fourth Month of this year, so I would like to encounter and loot the materials of some specific monsters before then, if possible.
After reaching the Regalia Ravine in the afternoon, we proceeded to trek through the narrow, rough path.
It did help that none of us was particularly fussy about the quality of the road, though.
Sensing no monster presence whatsoever along the way, we ended up talking among ourselves to pass the time.
Many of the topics among us involved Betty asking Barun things she was curious about, and Barun reluctantly answered as much as he could.
She had acted fairly humble when she interacted with Irene and Gaston, but was now quite casual toward Barun, despite all three belonging to the Duodecad Conference.
Did she find him more approachable because of him being the younger one, or something of the sort
“So… who would you say is the strongest one of the Six Braves right now”
“Ah! Im curious about that, too”
“Good God, you have become more lacking in tact since I last met you, dog.”
Ricky, riding on Baruns shoulder, spoke in a condescending tone toward Pochi.
In response, Pochi looked up to briefly glare at Ricky…
“Im curious about that, too!”
…And then decided to ignore the monkeys statement completely, repeating her statement as if to rewind the scene to where she once was.
Then, after a playful snicker at Rickys frustration, Barun proceeded to answer Bettys question.
“So, among our members are… Sir Charlie the Thousand Morphing Blade.
Sir Dragan the Dainty Tiger.
Miss Catherine the Benevolent Petal.
Sir Jacob the Demon Blader.
Miss Natasha the Unholy War Princess… then theres me, Barun the Scale Tipper.
Well, lets just leave me out of this ranking for now.”
Oh, I see…
I do remember seeingThe Scale Tipper as one of Baruns titles.
It probably was derived from his style not adhering to the definitions of warriors nor mages.
It just didnt sound right for him to call himself by his nickname, but at least he was being humble about it.
That, or the rest of the Six Braves were actually significantly stronger by his standards.
But still, it sure feels crazy that Im already acquainted with four of those awesome-sounding people.
That number excluded Charlie the Thousand Morphing Blade, since I had only caught sight of him from a distance, of course.
Warren had told me that Charlie had been quite interested in me, but that was a story from two years ago, so hes probably forgotten about me by now.
“Hmm, Sir Jacob and Miss Natasha did go at it fairly recently and came out with a draw, so Id say theyre equally strong.
But Sir Jacob did lose to Sir Dragan in a sparring match some time ago, and then theres the time Sir Dragan lost to Miss Catherine when he first entered the ranks of the Six Braves…”
I can understand his roundabout explanation, since he was probably listing his thoughts out as he went along, but can Pochi follow this ranking
Well, all things considered, it should be straightforward enough.
I mean, Barun even listed that persons name out first.
“From how youre talking, the strongest is still Sir Charlie, after all”
Hmm Is it just me, or was Betty talking like shed met Charlie before
“Oh Well, since he lives and works full time in Beilanea, I did get to see him fight a few times.”
Betty followed up on her own statement, making it seem like she had read my thoughts just now.
Then she proceeded to elaborate on her point as if she had experienced it herself,
“I swear, hes an absolute beast.
You know how different people prefer different kinds of weapons Like those who prefer the raw power of great swords, the nimbleness of short swords, the precision of daggers, so on and so forth.
But Sir Charlie lives up to his nickname of Thousand Morphing Blade – hes mastered the wielding of all bladed weapons.
My stupid brother even said thathed be a great match for ol Argent, man, and Im actually inclined to agree.”
And Betty even effortlessly imitated Bruces manner of speaking right there – goes to show how close they are as siblings.
“Yeah, its like she said.
Sir Charlie is the strongest among the Six Braves, and at the very least the second among the Duodecad Conference.
Try not to be vaporized when you get too close to him!”
“Ooh! Id actually like to see him vaporize stuff!”
He didnt mean it literally, you dunce.
…Anyway, back to Barun…
“Well, Id say Sir Gaston of the Six Archmages is equally beastly strong, though.”
“Heh, I can agree with that.
Hes so hyperactive that I wouldnt think he was over eighty years old.”
Betty had actually fought Gaston before, so if shes saying that, then it must be right.
That, and Charlie did slay Baladds parent dragon, or, so he himself had claimed.
Considering that, it would be reasonable to assume that Barun was quite under-powered as far as the Six Braves went.
I was particularly curious as to who Natasha the Unholy War Princess was.
Presumably a woman, asprincess would usually imply, and perhaps one of aristocratic origin
Ill remember to ask Blazer for some details later.
And now that I think about it, out of the Six Archmages, Ive only ever met Gaston and Irene.
The rest of them are… hmm, lets see……
I scratched my chin as I tried to recall.
But then, when Pochi tried to join in on the conversation, I felt an extremely powerful presence in the vicinity.
It took me a second to realize that it was a great mass of hostile arcane energy exuding extreme killing intent.
Pochi, even with her power level to go toe-to-toe against SS ranked monsters, was now shaking like crazy.
At this time, Ricky had already gigantified, Barun already had his blade ready, and Betty was already activating all her special skills.
Whats this… Im feeling an overwhelmingly oppressive aura – it reeks of impending doom and death.
“Thats… the Heavenly Beast…”
Im not seeing anything from here, but Im really FEELING it.
All of us kept ourselves on high alert as we looked deeper into the ravine.
Nothing in the span of two-hundred meters ahead.
“Guys, maybe we should turn back,” I started to say, but that moment, an intense gust of wind blew me down onto the ground.
Uh… I think Im hearing my bones breaking.
The sense of confusion preceded the pain, and then the following pain further worsened that confusion.
Everyone else was still standing up.
However, the wind pressure, streaming down at us from directly above like a hammer, pinned them to the ground and disabled the movement of all their limbs.
Several seconds later, everyone just up and lost their consciousness.
T-this is BAD! Were gonna be wiped out… I need to stand up! And get my staff… and cast a recovery spell… AHH!!
“…Agh, AHHHHHHH!! MOVE, DAMMIT! CMON!!”
I had gone through that crazy, limb-breaking movement training under Tūs! I should have been able to do this!
…But my limbs aside, my spine was now a mess, and so were most of my muscles, and some of my internal organs were hit, too.
Hurry… I gotta hurry!
Move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move, move!!
Get up! Heal! Help everyone! Run! Just run! And live! Damn it, Asley! Stand up, YOU FOOL!
When I thought that, my body suddenly released all the arcane energy it could possibly handle, all at once.
Then, when I felt that I could actually move, I shouted with all my might at the Torrent Dragon Staff,
“High Cure Adjust!!”
…But even though the magic healed up everyones wounds, its not waking them up! Damn it!
I forced my trembling, barely-functioning legs toward the person closest to me – who happened to be Betty – so that I might haul her over my shoulder and bail her out.
I felt as if my heart – as in the organ itself – was being squeezed.
I heardbreathing from behind me.
But there was no one there.
Im a mage – the formations rear guard.
There SHOULD be no one there.
As for my feet… Although they were supposed to guide me toward Betty, an overwhelming stream of murderous intent swept over them… forcing me to turn around.