Having heard the voice coming from the back, Nainiae quickly turned her head. Along with Riley, she also discovered that the priest, Asteel, was unconscious and leaning against a wall. Looking confused, Nainiae asked Riley,
“Why are you here?”
Through the power of her eye, she was roughly aware that Riley had come to this place. However, Nainiae knew Riley was not going to step in the situation.
“I clearly remember you telling me that you will not step forward…”
When Nainiae was with Riley during the early morning, Riley had said so, and that instead he would just watch. Because Nainiae remembered his words, she stared at Riley with a question mark floating on her face.
“I know. I did say that.”
The look on Riley’s face said all this was such a bother to him. He scratched the back of his head and continued.
“I was not planning on stepping forward. It is as I said before, but…”
Riley furrowed the spot between his eyebrows and looked at Astroa floating in the air.
Astroa did have an arrow stuck in his thigh, but it appeared that the injury was not hindering him from using magic. Also, the intensity of the magic attacks that he was pouring out was not showing any signs of winding down.
Riley could see why Astroa was called the grand mage representing the Magic Tower. He deserved the title.
“…this is taking too long.”
Riley complained that it was going to take too long to defeat a grand mage like Astroa. Nainiae could see in Riley’s face that he was not joking. Nainiae asked,
The opponent that they were fighting against was the top dog of Solia’s Magic Tower, a grand mage that reached the height of Seven Circles. He was a monster that was launching a Six Circles level magic every five minutes.
Hunting him down quickly like a sewer rat was practically impossible.
“That’s right. This is taking too long.”
Despite all that, Riley was saying that the battle was being sustained for too long.
“This is being dragged on for too long, and because of that, magic attacks are about to reach all the way to where my mother is.”
Because this was taking too long, now there was a possibility of endangering his mother. This was the reason why Riley came to Nainiae.
If things went as Riley originally thought, the situation should have concluded before an incident where Astroa’s indiscriminate magic attacks came flying towards where Riley was.
“I don’t know about their circumstances, but…”
Again, the look on Riley’s face expressed that all this was such a bother to him. He turned his head toward Solia’s royal guards who were engaged in a head-on battle against Astroa.
“…Among the people from Solia Castle, there isn’t any skilled archer. This is the problem.”
The opponent was a grand mage floating in the air using Fly magic.
For Solia Castle’s swordsmen and the Holy Temple’s priests and holy knights, striking him down was certainly a very difficult task.
There were archers among the castle’s royal guards, but, because they didn’t know how to load the arrows with mana, these archers were not the ones Riley could have big expectations of.
“How could these so called knights not even know the concept of blade throw technique.”
Riley mentioned his specialty, and he clicked his tongue as he closed and opened his hand several times.
“There aren’t many that can attack from mid-range. Looking at the situation, there isn’t any among the priests from the Holy Temple that are capable of doing it either.”
“In that case, we should ask the Magic Tower…”
As Nainiae said, in that case, the only way left was magic. It was best to use magic and shoot down Astroa or bring him down to the ground.
Although they had Nainiae here, because the mana inside her was running amok, she was limited to stopping Astroa when he occasionally attempted to cast Teleport, therefore she could not be counted on for such a task.
They needed another mage.
However, to point out a problem, the question was if the mages from the Magic Tower would willingly cooperate if they asked the Magic Tower’s mages the following question: ‘would you please lend your strengths and help us hunt down Astroa, your leader?’
“Notifying the Magic Tower about this should be done after giving a serious thought first. If we just tell them about it, it might only make the problem bigger. You never know. In the worst case scenario, it may lead to a rebellion.”
Riley was saying that mages had that much influence in a country. Therefore, Riley thought that, instead, finishing the deed while Astroa was alone and far away from everyone else might be easier.
“…God damn it. Mithril net! Is there a Mithril net?!”
As a powerful voice like the sound of thunder could be heard, Nainiae’s gaze moved toward the origin.
It was from Ian, the one that immediately went up to the frontline and started leading knights and archers along with the royal guard’s captain when Riley gave Ian the permission to act.
“It… It’s at the castle!”
“What? God damn it! Even if it is now, go get it!”
“But, it will at least take 30 minutes.”
“I said just go get it for now!”
It appeared Ian was titled as the hero mercenary from the Great War for a good reason. Ian had succeeded in burying an arrow in Astroa’s thigh. However, since then, he had not managed to successfully deal another hit, which was a problem.
When Riley first heard Ian looking for a net, Riley whistled. However, when Riley then heard it will take 30 minutes, he sighed.
“If this keeps up. The problem isn’t going to be just about whether Ian would get hurt or not.”
Currently, the battle to defeat Astroa was in full swing.
Noticing the people’s gazes toward where Nainiae was standing, Riley slowly moved back and stepped on Nainiae’s shadow.
He stepped back because he had already told Nainiae that he was intending to do so and show her how.
If possible, Riley wanted to avoid having the situation head in a direction where he was getting the attention.
“Big Sis. Who is this Big Bro?”
Riley, who stepped back to hide himself, came face to face with the young child who he had his eyes met with earlier for a brief moment.
It was the child that he and Nainiae saved together from the Magic Tower’s basement laboratory. Now, because of the medical treatment from the Holy Temple, the child was able to speak a little.
Nainiae blurred the end of her sentence and looked around. It was because she couldn’t decide what to say, and she was also worried about the priest who was sticking by her until a moment ago, who was now unconscious before anyone, even rats or birds, noticed.
“Big Sis, by chance, did you see? A moment ago, this big bro moved super fast.”
Although Nainiae didn’t see it herself, it appeared that the child saw up to the moment when Riley sat the priest to the nearby wall.
Riley called the child and bent his upper body slightly to level his eyes with her.
Riley had a leisurely tone of voice, and there was no animosity in it.
However, Nainiae was still worried. All she did was staring vacantly to her front with her mouth open like a fish and shifting her eyes.
‘Will it be…okay?’
She was not able to turn around and see what was happening behind her, between Riley and the child. It was because she was currently being the wall that hid Riley from the gazes of others.
“I’m sorry, but, about what just happened, and the fact that you saw me here today…can you please keep it a secret?”
As if he was belittling Nainiae’s worries, Riley only put his index finger to the front of his lips and pleaded to the child.
Just a moment ago, without any warning, Riley had knocked out the priest that was standing by Nainiae. How he was acting towards the child was different. Compared to what he did to the priest, some would have thought it was different to the point of being unfair.
As Riley saw the child fiddling and being hesitant, he moved his hand to his back pocket.
“…Could you please?”
What Riley brought out was his mask.
It was the mask that Riley was wearing when he was at the basement of the Magic Tower and saving the child.
“By chance, back then…you are that big bro?”
“That’s right. Keeping this a secret… You can do it, right? I’ll be able to save others only if you keep it a secret.”
As the child watched Riley bring the mask toward his face, the child’s eyes were sparkling. She soon nodded deeply and said,
“All right. You are such a good girl.”
Riley smiled behind his mask, extended his right arm, and patted the child’s head.
There was familiarity in Riley’s way of gently patting her head. The child stayed put and accepted his gesture.
‘He looks like a different person…’
Seeing a side of Riley that she had never seen until today, Nainiae thought so as she heard a faint laughter coming from behind her.
Nainiae was deep in her thoughts for a moment, but she opened both of her eyes wide. It was because she recalled something she had forgotten for a while.
Nainiae shifted her eyes and rushed to find Hamil.
She couldn’t see him in the spot that he was standing a while ago. She couldn’t locate him within the range of Astroa’s magic. Among the Solia’s royal guards, Holy Temple’s priests, or even among the homeless of Lower Solia, she could not find Hamil.
‘Hamil… Where could you be?’
There was uneasiness in the corner of her mind because she was worried about him, but she decided to not worry too much.
‘When it comes to thoughts that I could think about after everything is over, I should be thinking about them when everything is over.’
It was because the warmth from Riley reaching her back felt like it was telling her to do so.
To Nainiae, who pursed her lips and was calming her mind, Riley said,
“Now, take a deep breath.”
“This has dragged on long enough. We should end this quickly, don’t you think?”
Ian would obviously have no way of knowing because he was in middle of fighting, but to his mother and Sera, who were watching the battle to defeat Astora, Riley came after giving them enough excuses.
Because Riley had no intention of letting this drag on any further, Riley put his hand on a sword that he snatched from a royal guard.
“Have a big shot prepared.”
Until now, Riley was only holding the mask in front of him, but now, he actually put it on.
Astroa cast different spells in each of his hands and attacked Solia Castle’s royal guards.
“Firewall, Poison Spray.”
Firewall was a fire-element mid-level magic. In middle of the battlefield, a wall of fire was summoned, and immediately, a poisonous mist that could spread through the air was released.
The Firewall and Poison Spray were not high circle number spells, but because they were combined together, they were demonstrating fearsome power.
The royal guards within Astroa’s magic attacks’ range got swept into its effects. Screaming in pain, they ran toward the people from the Holy Temple.
Although they were tempered knights after long years of hard training, it appeared they had no way of withstanding attacks from flames or extreme poisons that were burning or melting their body.
Instead of magic that the royal guards could easily cut down or block, Astroa was using magic that was tricky to handle or they could not even go nearby.
“Looks like I should start doing something about those priests as well.”
Astroa slowly turned his gaze.
Unlike during the beginning of the battle, the priestess’ barrier was now noticeably dimmer.
With a little bit more of bombardment, it appeared Astroa could even eliminate the extra thick barrier cast on the side of the people from the Holy Temple and end the situation.
“Bringing down the rear is the best strategy of all best strategies in a battle.”
Astroa waved his hand again and prepared a Six Circles level flame magic.
He recited a pretty long spell and collected mana.
Astroa’s plan was to either throw or launch the magic when it was complete. Once he destroyed the priestess’ barrier, the idea he had for the plan thereafter was to tear apart the priests using lightning magic, which would have resulted in rapid casualties.
Astroa had his magic ready, and all he had to do was to launch the attack, but, at that moment, he slightly tilted his head to the side and barely dodged an arrow that flew toward him.
‘I could have ended this sooner, but to think that a mercenary hero would show up out of nowhere…’
Astroa turned his head and locked his eyes with the man responsible for the arrow.
The man looked old, but his face still looked familiar.
It was a face that Astroa had ran into in his past, and that made his face crumple.
Both arrows, the one that got stuck in his thigh and the other that left a scratch on his cheek, were launched by the man.
‘Still, he is not as good as he was in his prime.’
The look on Astroa’s face was stating that he thought of Ian’s effort as impudent and laughable. Now fixated on Ian, Astroa moved his arm and cast Air Hammer.
Among the wind element spells, Air Hammer possessed considerable destructive power.
It was the same magic that he used against Aploc, who was now unconscious and stuck in Lower Solia’s sewers.
Perhaps Ian just had good senses. The old man succeeded in blocking Astroa’s invisible Air Hammer with just a sword. He was successful, but perhaps because he couldn’t beat his age, Ian was not able to stop his body from being bounced back. His body was pushed back as his feet dragged.
‘You are probably starting to feel it about now. Have you realized it? That a mage and a swordsman are different?’
Unlike those who handled swords, mages only got stronger with experience regardless of age. Having pushed Ian out of the battlefield, Astroa turned his head again toward the place where the priests were.
‘Once I clean them up and tear apart that disposed product bitch, I should pack up the stuff and leave Soli-…’
Astroa was moving his gaze as he thought about his future plans, but he suddenly twitched his eyebrows.
It was at a place pretty far from where the priests were gathered. Astroa was twitching his eyebrows because his eyes met with someone standing on a corner in that place.
“…Ah, looks like I drew his attention.”
The ‘masked man,’ the one Astroa had his eyes meet, murmured.