「I wonder if I can really get Nero to follow me out here...」
Charlotte, who left Iskia Fortress alone last night, is hiding beneath the Wrath-Pun's enormous body in a thicket, taking shelter from the rain that began pouring down as the sun rose.
Although she wouldn't be alone for long, how long has it been since she last came to a dungeon by herself?
Charlotte has absolute confidence in her own ability, but she is also a young girl; she gets lonely when on her own.
She wants for her companions, for Nero, to hurry and chase after her.
But as if to refuse to admit that, she begins complaining under her breath.
「Jeez, if this doesn't work, I won't forgive Safi.」
The plan to force the extermination of the Greed-Gore was formed by none other than the prodigy child of the Hydra house, who prides herself on her unrivaled ingenuity.
According to her, if Charlotte left the fortress on her own, Nero would surely come after her to save her, as he is not the kind to easily abandon his companions.
As Safi said these words with a serious expression, Charlotte had listened with slowly reddening cheeks.
To think that that lazy Nero would do something for her sake -
「I-it's not like I'm happy about it or anything!」
With this mysterious way of hiding her embarrassment, Charlotte pounds her fists against the red-furred arm next to her.
The Wrath-Pun's long ears are drooping as if to say that it is troubled, but perhaps this is just a trick of the imagination?
「Still, what's with this Greed-gore guy. It's just lazing about and doesn't seem to have the motivation to do anything...」
Charlotte has already spotted the large black body of the Greed-Gore, sprawled out at the edge of a pond.
These green woods growing thickly over this slightly elevated hill can hide even the Wrath-Pun's enormous body as it lays down, so naturally Charlotte’s tiny figure is completely obscured.
This position, with a clear view of the pond, is perfect for observing the enemy.
It has been nearly an hour since Charlotte began hiding here and silently watching the Greed-Gore.
She thought that the general leading a two-pronged attack against both the fortress and the village would be busy giving instructions to its subordinates, but the Greed-Gore didn't do anything apart from the occasional slight movement.
The most it ever did was to push its snout into the pond, still in its sprawled position, to suck up some water.
Charlotte has never seen a monster that gives off such an impression of laziness.
That is why she is letting out words of exasperation.
「Could it be that I could even defeat it by myself...?」
She gets the feeling that if she fired her greatest, most powerful lightning magic at it from here, things would be settled.
Charlotte at least understands that if Wing Road were to leave the fortress as well, the students' capability to defend it would drop remarkably.
That is precisely why the Greed-Gore should be brought down as quickly as possible. Yes, if the chance presents itself, she wouldn't need to wait for Nero's arrival.
「... I might get to see Nero get fired up for once, so I won't.」
As she comes to this decision, something changes in her view of the pond.
「That's a flock of Silent Sheep...」
The Silent Sheep with their characteristic black wool approach in an organized row.
There are ten, twenty - the row stops at thirty Silent Sheep. This is fortunate for Charlotte, who may have fallen asleep if she continued counting them.
As if their master has summoned them, they head towards the Greed-Gore.
「Why are just the Silent Sheep...?」
The Greed-Gore's laziness is strange, but the thing that makes Charlotte more uncomfortable is that there are no monsters from the pond in this place.
She expected there to be other generals or subordinates, or even Centaurs, Orcs or other suitable monsters to be guarding the surrounding area, but the Greed-Gore has been alone until the appearance of these Silent Sheep.
Is it about to give them a direct order? Just as Charlotte wonders if this is the case -
「It ate them?!」
The Silent Sheep are devoured.
No, to be more accurate, they are going forth to be devoured.
The Greed-Gore is still sprawled out, and merely raises its enormous jaw.
The fatty mutton simply leaps into its open mouth.
Its sword-like, sharp fangs grind loudly against each other to chew the Silent Sheep whole, black wool and all.
「I suppose the parasite allows it to guide them into its mouth...」
It seems that the Silent Sheep have not been eaten out of pure coincidence.
One by one, the Silent Sheep are leaping into its gaping jaws.
It is different from a bird feeding its chick. The prey is forcing its own way into the Greed-Gore’s mouth.
Just how lazy is this monster?
An indescribably unpleasant feeling rises up in Charlotte's heart.
A chill passes through her body as the Greed-Gore lets out a belch at the end of its meal that reeks of blood.
Charlotte unconsciously tries to avert her eyes, but as her vision shifts horizontally, she catches a glimpse of a purple flicker.
If she were to observe carefully, she would see that this purple flash is coming - no, gushing forth from the Greed-Gore's jaws.
It is not simply a light shining around its mouth, but snakes around a meter in length.
A number of snakes made of purple lightning equal to the number of the sheep that disappeared into the Greed-Gore's stomach are now slithering out through the crevices between its fangs.
「Those must be the body segments of the parasite.」
It cannot be said for certain whether they are the same ones that infested the sheep that were eaten or whether new parasites have been born, but that isn't what Charlotte is currently concerned about.
Now that the Greed-Gore has eaten all of those Silent Sheep, it is alone in this place once more.
It has released these parasite body segments, who is it going to infest next -
In the next moment, the Greed-Gore's violet eyes look directly into Charlotte's golden ones.
Their eyes have met - no, that can't be.
Charlotte wants to deny that possibility, but the thirty parasite-snakes that were released are now slithering their way up the hill, directly towards her.
The flickering purple lines heading towards her are just like light-type magical attacks with a self-guided targeting function.
「Kuh, it knew I was here from the very start...」
Charlotte has been meticulously cautious up until this point to avoid being detected by monsters.
She found an appropriate gap to escape the monsters' surround on the fortress and used wind magic to erase her scent and the sound of her footsteps.
However, given the current situation, the fact that she has been detected is undeniable.
「Jeez, it's your fault for being so big!」
Hitting Wrath-Pun's arm with her wand in anger, Charlotte stands up boldly as there is no point in hiding any longer.
「Nero hasn't arrived yet... This leaves me no choice, I'll face you alone!」
With her red twin-tails and cape fluttering, Charlotte leaps out of the woods in high spirits.
Though facing a Rank 5 adventurer full of fighting spirit, the Greed-Gore remains lying at the side of the pond.
The princess of Spada is a little irritated.
「Hmph, you can stay there and act like you're calm if you want to -」
She decides on her plan of attack immediately.
It is the same plan that she thought of earlier and immediately discarded - in other words, the plan to fire her strongest lightning magic and settle this with a single attack.
And so, Charlotte holds up her beloved『Crimson Bolt』and raises her voice.
She shouts the name of the god that grants her the mana befitting of a Rank 5 adventurer.
「Come forth and roar, red lightning『Reinhardt!』」