「See you, Will – and tell Onii-san that I said I’m sorry.」
The sound of Simon’s friend screaming words of apology gets further and further away.
With his back pressed against the metal door that refuses to open, Simon collapses onto the ground.
「... There was no other choice.」
As the sounds of the battle that seems like it is in another world echo into this narrow tower, Simon whispers to himself.
「It’s... fine this way...」
He has no regrets about the choice that he made.
If Wilhart had continued trying to open the door, everyone there would have been surrounded by the monsters and retreat would have become impossible.
That is why Simon mustered his courage and told Wilhart to abandon him. He had to say those words that no friend should have to hear.
If he didn’t do this, that kind prince would have regretted his actions for the rest of his life. He would see this moment in his nightmares every night for the rest of his days.
And above all, though their time together was short, Wilhart was Simon’s second ever friend. Simon wanted to at least look manly and brave. He wanted to show an attitude and resolve that would make Wilhart proud to call Simon his friend.
There is not a shred of masculinity in Simon’s appearance; he could easily be mistaken for a girl. Even so, he still has what is known as a man’s stubbornness.
「I-it’s... Uu... Uu...」
However, it took all of Simon’s effort to put up that front.
He is different from a proper knight; his resolve to resign himself to death was brittle and short-lived.
Now that he has been left alone, tears won’t stop pouring from his eyes and the sound of sobbing comes from his throat.
「I don’t want this... I don’t want this... Help me, onii-san...」
Simon is crying.
In an unsightly, miserable way, like an infant, he is bawling.
His cute face is a mess and his cheeks are wet from the large tears that flow over them endlessly.
「No, I don’t want to die... I don’t want to die yet...」
However, as Simon sinks into the depths of despair, a thunderous roar echoes out, bringing him to his senses.
The loud sound of an impact comes not from the door at his back – but another door on the first floor, which the monsters have already occupied.
Through a gap in the warped metal door, he can see an Orc with bloodshot eyes breathing wildly as it swings its mace into it.
With the bringer of his death finally appearing before his eyes, Simon’s body freezes in terror.
But the life-and-death struggles he has gone through so far have not gone to waste.
Survival instincts kicking in, his body springs into action.
He reaches into the dimensional pouch to pull out the prototype rifle, which joins the sniper rifle『Yata-Garasu Mk. II』that is already in his hands.
The long-barreled Yata-Garasu isn’t a very effective choice of equipment in this confined space, but Simon has decided that it is better than not having it.
He loads five rounds into the prototype rifle and attaches his dagger of memories to it as a bayonet; he is as prepared as he can be.
「Seuss-san* protected me... I have to fight... I can’t give up, not until the very, very end.」
Though his body was trembling in a fear just a moment ago, strangely enough, his composure returns to him as he grips his weapons.
Holding the two firearms in his hands, Simon is no longer an alchemist, but a sniper. He belongs to the Marksman class, whose members shoot down the enemies in their weapons’ sights with unparalleled accuracy.
「I’ll do my best. Until onii-san comes to rescue me...」
With a renewed will to fight, Simon takes a seated position, raises the prototype rifle and pulls the trigger.
The Orc is still swinging its mace with all its strength, trying to break down the door. A rifle round strikes its head perfectly through the gap in the doorway that it managed to make.
As Simon sees a spray of blood as well as the purple lightning that is the body of the parasite bursting out, he pulls back the bolt on his rifle.
There is no time to feel at ease. Simon can already feel the presence of the next monster that will appear through the gap in the doorway.
The metal door is struck once more. A second Orc has appeared.
But the sound is twice as loud – no, three times.
The Orc is not alone, even the small, weak monsters including a Goblin are cooperating to break down the door.
But the monster that enters the tower is not an Orc or a Goblin.
It is a Rank 1 monster, a Slime with a gel-like body that can change form at will, that squeezes its way in through the tiny gap in the doorway.
Without a moment’s delay, a second gunshot echoes against the tower’s stone walls.
The bullet eats into the center of the Slime’s core, putting a halt to its biological functions.
The dead Slime’s jelly-like body collapses, splashing over the floor near the door to become a puddle.
However, he cannot do much more than this.
「Kuh... I can’t hit them through the door...」
The first Orc’s head happened to be in a good position to shoot at, but the second Orc’s body is completely hidden on the other side of the door.
The same goes for the Goblin.
Does Simon have no choice but to fold his arms and wait for the door to be broken?
If the door is knocked down, monsters will flood inside.
If that happens, he won’t be able to stop them with just a rifle that can only fire five consecutive rounds.
「If I survive this and make it home, the first thing I’ll do is build a machine gun...」
This is now the second time that he is regretting not having a machine gun, the first time being in Alzas.
With no amazing ideas coming to Simon’s mind, the door gets closer and closer to its limit.
The only thing he can do now is reload his weapon and pray that the number of monsters that are about to rush in is a number that he can deal with.
「... Here they come.」
The door finally flies off its hinges, allowing entry into the tower.
With a mad war cry, the Orc and Goblin who broke down the door step inside.
Fire spouts from the high-caliber『Yata-Garasu Mk. II』in Simon’s hands. The round pierces through the chest of the Goblin dashing up the stairs like a monkey and continues onto its original target, the head of the Orc.
He can take down two enemies with a single piercing round – Simon’s knowledge of the specs of the weapon he created and his incredibly accurate shot have successfully stalled the enemies.
In order to deal with the next wave of monsters, Simon lets go of the sniper rifle that requires reloading after only one shot, and raises the rifle that has a bayonet attached to it.
As he does so, more Goblins that were apparently waiting behind the Orc leap inside, and another Slime crawls its way across the floor.
But with the gun in his hands, Simon is incredibly composed, aiming at the enemies as indifferently as an ancient Golem soldier.
With relaxed movements, he lines his sights up on a target in less than two seconds and fires the rifle.
The first shot pierces through a Goblin’s brow, and the second destroys the Slime’s core.
He has three bullets left. The number of enemy shadows he can see on the other side of the door is – four.
As the third bullet hits yet another Slime, Simon stands up.
A prone position is the most stable for shooting, a sitting position is second-best and a standing position is the most unstable.
The reason he has given up this stability and changed to a standing position is because if he doesn’t, he cannot deal with the fourth enemy lying in wait.
And that time will be upon him very soon.
The fourth and fifth bullets have already turned the two Windwolves that charged towards him into corpses.
He has zero bullets left.
As if unwilling to give him the time to reload, a Goblin holding a rusty knife dashes in.
It is only a single Rank 1 monster.
But for Simon, who is weak in close-quarters combat, this may as well be the most powerful enemy of all.
Defeating it without his gun is too dangerous – However, there is only one option left, the worst option for a sniper.
He gives a spirited scream as he brandishes his weapon. He has no technique; he simply uses all his strength to thrust his rifle that has now become a short spear.
The lethality of the attached dagger’s white blade is not at all inferior to that of a bullet.
In fact, it is a common weapon of choice for Rank 4 adventurers. Even with Simon’s thin arms, he doesn’t lack the strength needed to pierce through a Goblin’s body.
The difference in reach between a knife and a bayonet decides the victor.
Before the rusty knife reaches Simon’s white, soft skin, his beloved dagger pierces the ugly green body of the Goblin.
「Haah, haah... I did it, Seuss-san...」
Cold sweat forms on Simon’s face as he emerges victorious from this close-quarter battle that he is unaccustomed to. His ears are filled with his own violent heartbeat.
He realizes that this is not a situation where he can relax.
The monsters’ attack on this tower has stopped for now, but more monsters may come up from the floor below at any moment.
The first thing he needs to do is reload.
He has just shown that as long as he has ammunition, he can stop the advance of several monsters.
「I can do this... I’ll keep this up and survive.」
With a little hope in his heart, he sits down in his original position.
First, the Yata-Garasu that he fired the initial shot with – Simon left it right here, but he can’t find it.
There is no way he could have lost it. How can he lose such a large, long-barreled weapon in such a small room?
However, the reality is that he cannot find his favorite gun.
「Huh, why, where has it –」
At that moment, a drop of water lands on the tip of Simon’s nose.
It is still raining outside. Is the roof leaking? No, this isn’t even water.
It is only a single droplet, but it is viscous enough that it feels like it is coiling around his skin. It is like a Slime’s body, but if it really were from a Slime, his skin would be burning from the acid.
There is no pain. Instead, he smells a faint, sweet fragrance.
So what is this? Before he considers this any further, Simon instinctively looks up at the ceiling; seeing it for himself is quicker than trying to figure it out.
「Ah, you’re kidding me...」
There is a mass of writhing, slippery tentacles. This shiny, oily mucus is a natural aphrodisiac. It is a sweet poison that robs the victim of its reasoning.
It came in through the window and took his weapon. But what goes through Simon’s mind is not an accurate assessment of the current situation, but the name of this hideous monster.
「... A Morjura.」
A well-known Rank 2 monster that everyone does their utmost to avoid contact with. The most horrible, most disgusting rapist.
This number of tentacles is not something that an amateur in close-quarters combat can deal with using some quick wit and a good weapon –
「Wah, ah... No... UWAAAAAAAAAAH!」