After the end of a suffocating conversation, a battle to defeat Astroa had begun.
It was one versus many, a little less than 50.
“Stop him from uttering spells! Stop him from using magic!”
“Archer squad! Ordinary arrows won’t work! Bring something else!”
There were about twenty of the elite royal guards from Solia Castle, and there were about twenty of holy knights and priests from Solia Holy Temple.
“Don’t get hit by magic! Always look at his mouth and check for any lights appearing around him!”
“It’s… It’s coming again!”
“Step forward if you can use the Aura Blade technique! Cut down magic attacks coming at us!”
Considering the fact that there was Ian with his sword drawn, Priesia using her holy powers, and even Nainiae launching arrays of small magic attacks, an ordinary man would have died several times over by now in face of their combined firepower.
“Injured! Priest sir, we have an injured here!”
“Hey! Fire, fire! Your back’s on fire you rascal!”
“Ugh! My arm! My arm won’t move!”
If one was to point out a problem in this situation, it was the fact that they were fighting against a grand mage that represented a city.
He wasn’t an ordinary level mage. He was at Seven Circles. The man was a magic specialist.
“Huh! Staring at my mouth? Fools.”
Astroa saw his opponents on the ground giving a blank stare towards his mouth. Astroa snorted and swung his hand.
“Something like Three Circles magic and below…”
Following Astroa’s arm movement, several dozens of flame and ice arrows were created behind him.
“…I can launch them without having to recite the spells.”
The sky was dark because it was night-time, but now it suddenly became bright.
It was because of magic attacks Astroa generated.
Solia Castle’s royal guards and the people from the temple looked up and saw vast number of magic attacks that were about to be poured down on them like rain. They opened and closed their mouths wordlessly, like fishes.
They were starting to realize whom they were up against.
“When you are in Hell, blame the priestess who sent you to your grave.”
As if he was done with the preparation for his bombardment, Astroa murmured as he lowered his arm.
“Here they come!”
“I will stop this wave of attacks.”
As Astroa’s magic arrows were launched towards the ground, Priesia took a step forward and raised her arm.
A gentle golden light surrounded her, and soon, a protective layer wide enough to surround everyone within Astroa’s bombardment range appeared.
Unlike the blue-colored barriers that mages could generate, her barrier was golden and contained holy power.
Fire and ice arrows rained down on them, and the golden barrier stopped all magic arrows.
The expression on the priestess’ face was as strong and enduring as always.
Having confirmed that the magic attacks were blocked, Astroa clicked his tongue.
She was annoying the hell out of him.
Although she would not be able to inflict serious harm to him, to Astroa, the priestess was like a thorn poking at his eyes.
“Archer squad! What are you doing? Stop sitting on your asses! Take aim!”
Solia Castle’s archers were giving vacant stares and watching the priestess’ might and grace. Roused by the captain’s shouting, they fumbled, placed arrows in their bows and took aim toward the sky.
Astroa, the one floating in the air, was their target.
“Prepare to shoot!”
Noticing the tightly drawn bowstrings, Astroa directed his gaze toward the archers. He prepared his mana, pointed his hand at the direction where the arrows would be launched from, and recited a spell.
All arrows were launched with ferocity. Although they were launched...
None of the arrows were able to hit the target. The arrows were either swept away by the wind and fell to the ground or were cut in half by invisible blades.
It was because Astroa used the wind magic to block the arrows.
“God damn it!”
Seeing the attempt going down the drain, the captain of the royal guards clicked his tongue. It was because they had no means of attacking the mage floating in the air other than with arrows.
‘From this distance, I could launch an energy blade attack, but there is a limit on how many shots I can handle. If he dodges it using a short-distance teleportation spell, the situation will turn for worse for us. I can’t afford to be reckless.’
It was not like the captain had no other means of attacking Astroa who was floating in the air.
He could launch an energy blade to a mid-range target. It was a technique that could be considered his most powerful attack. There was a drawback, which was a severe drain of mana. Because of this, there was a limit on how many times he could launch the energy blade attacks.
‘God damn it! If only we had just one of the bow masters…’
Because of a situation, Solia Castle’s bow master was on a mission in some other country. The captain thought about the bow master as he gritted his teeth.
‘If this keeps up, there will be no end to this.’
With an anxious look on his face, the captain looked toward the direction where the people from the temple were gathered.
To be precise, he was looking at where Nainiae was.
‘It looks like it will be also difficult to count on our little friend there.’
Unlike the tough looking scars on her face, still, the best way to describe her would have been ‘frail.’
Although she was standing still, expression on her face looked like she could collapse out of exhaustion at any moment. Having noticed this, the captain’s face darkened.
At the moment, she was limited to stopping Astroa from casting Teleport, which he tried occasionally.
‘God damn it, there is no end to this.’
Just like the Solia Castle’s royal guard captain, Astora was also scrunching his face as he thought about the same thing.
Because of the priestess’ Barrier and constant healing by the temple priests, there have not been any lethal casualties.
Astroa could not be certain if he would run out of mana first or if the priestess would run out of her holy power first.
Astroa cracked his neck left and right and said,
“In that case, I think I had enough of getting warmed up.”
Priesia’s face crumpled. Astroa said,
“It’s about time. Slowly, I will throw you a big one.”
Astroa pulled his upper body back and raised both of his hands above his head.
It appeared like he was preparing for a massive attack.
Although the homeless of Lower Solia were not capable of seeing mana, even they could see distortions in the air around Astroa.
The object was beyond red-hot. A lump of flame, which appeared to be like lava out of a volcano, appeared above Astora’s palms.
It looked as if a sun appeared in the night sky all of sudden.
Because of its blinding brightness, Priesia squinted, and at the same time, Astroa swung his hands wide.
As she opened her hand and raised it to generate a barrier once again, Priesia cringed. It was because the heat was extraordinary.
The flame had not even touched the barrier yet, but she was already furrowing her eyebrows due to its intense heat. Looking at her reaction, others could guess just how powerful the magic attack must be.
“It’s a Six Circles magic. Why don’t you try taking one?”
Priesia had not had a ceremony for her adulthood yet. It also meant she had not completed her priestess training and she was not a full-fledged priestess yet.
Of course, her barrier had a limit.
Priesia was maintaining the barrier, but she grunted as she took a step back.
Fortunately, the barrier was being maintained, but it looked critical.
“…How about I send you another one?”
Astroa pulled his hands toward his chest and started to recite a spell again.
Blue lightning sparks formed between his hands, and their size and length started to grow.
It looked like Astroa was intending to launch Six Circles magic attacks continuously.
As if they were trying to say that they weren’t just going to sit and watch, Solia Castle’s archers went around to a side, tightly pulled the bowstrings with all of their strength, and launched the arrows upon the signal.
Could it be that they properly seized the right opportunity when Astroa was in the middle of casting a large spell?
Of the arrows that were launched, one of them hit right on Astroa’s thigh.
At the same time, the large spell that Astroa was preparing was canceled.
Astroa’s forehead was bulging with veins. Astroa rapidly turned his head toward the direction of the arrow’s origin and put forth his hand.
Around Astroa’s shoulder, arm and hand, three purplish circular magic circles were formed.
It was signaling that he was about to use gravitation magic, and it was a Six Circles level magic.
Solia Castle’s archers started to float up in the air. Defying gravity, their bodies rose up continuously with no end in sight, but then, along with Astroa’s shouting…
…their bodies were thrown downwards, to be smashed to the ground to be exact.
Horrifying sounds of people being squashed after falling to the ground could be heard.
Their bodies were thrown to the ground at a speed far greater than it would have from simply jumping off from a high ground. Obviously, the archers’ bodies were not in good shape.
“This… God damn it…”
As the battle continued, as feared, death toll started to pile up.
Once again, Nainiae canceled the teleportation magic that Astroa was trying to cast just now. Struggling to stand her ground, she took a deep breath.
‘How many more times…will I be able to withstand this?’
It was extremely fortunate that casting the Teleport spell required a long time before it could be attempted again.
If it was like Blink, a short-range teleportation magic, which had very short preparation and recovery time before reuse, Nainiae would have coughed blood and fainted several times over by now.
“For you…isn’t this too dangerous? Since a while ago, healing measures have not been very effective.”
The priest Asteel had been standing by Nainiae like a partner since the beginning to heal her. With an anxious look on his face, Asteel stared at Nainiae’s face from the side.
Although they roughly cleaned her horrid appearance back in the temple, that was about it.
Under her pitch-black eyes, her mouth was unable to close because of all the murmurs of pain, clearly indicating the critical state that Nainiae was in.
“B-Big sis… Are you okay?”
A voice could be heard from nearby.
It wasn’t just Asteel that was right by Nainiae. The little girl who Nainiae and Riley rescued from the laboratory was also sticking right next to Nainiae.
Thanks to the Priestess Priesia’s help, the child was able to wash away all her injuries from the basement. Seeing the little girl being concerned for Nainiae, although she was not sure how, she was able to gain strength.
Having realized that there were eyes watching her, Nainiae stopped shaking and answered.
‘My job. I must do it.’
Nainiae’s eye looked toward Astroa who was floating in the air.
Having finished casting gravitation magic, it appeared he was preparing a large scale spell once again. Nainiae gritted her teeth.
Because the people on the ground didn’t have many options for a long-range attack, Nainiae was well aware that her role was more important than ever.
‘What I have to do… I must do it…’
Nainiae’s gaze, which was aimed at Astroa, slowly moved downward.
Her body hasn’t reached the limit yet. She lowered her gaze to the ground because she could feel someone’s gaze.
Even though there was Astroa in the air randomly launching magic attacks of terrifying power, there was someone fixated at Nainiae.
‘Who is it?’
Nainiae bowed her head down and checked who it was. It was a face that Nainiae was familiar with.
Nainiae made a vacant stare and opened her mouth.
There were only a few people in Lower Solia that knew her face, and one of those people was looking this way.
He was one of the homeless that had spent all of their savings to purchase her, a disposed product.
Although they never spoke of it, he was also Beta’s lover.
It was Hamil.
‘Why is Hamil here?’
With her eye trembling, she looked at Hamil. As if Hamil also realized that Nainiae was looking at him, he asked Nainiae by mouthing words,
‘What happened to Beta?’
Hamil was asking what happened to Beta. As he was making the inquiry, the look on Hamil’s face was desperate. It was certain that he couldn’t sleep through the night worrying about her.
In his eyes, there was a sliver of hope. They looked like he was saying,
‘You probably protected her? You were able to protect her, right?’
With his gaze locked onto her, Nainiae’s breathing started to speed up.
“Beta is… That is…”
Nainiae was blaming herself for not being able to protect Beta in the end. Nainiae was hesitating and was not sure of what to do, but then, a familiar voice could be heard in her head,
Nainiae flinched and looked around.
The voice belonged to the boy whom she spent the entire early morning with.
<I know what you are thinking about right now, but do you have the time for that now?>
In light of the question being heard through her head, Nainiae turned her head towards the back.
Right now, there were other people watching her, not just Hamil alone.
“Big sis…are you really okay?”
She heard the question from the concerned child. As Nainiae was giving a vacant stare and just standing still, the boy’s voice could be heard again,
<If you end this with a vacant stare like that, will that be all right?>
To Nainiae, who was still hesitating, the boy asked the question.
Hearing the question, Nainiae slowly shook her head.
“…When it comes to thoughts that you can finish after everything is over, you should finish them when it is done.”
This time, instead of the voice being heard in her head, from the back, the voice could be heard directly from the boy.