「Buah! Damn it, some of it got in my mouth!」
After being swept away in the earth and soil from the Greed-Gore’s stomping attack, I stand up in a worse state than a kindergartener who’s been playing with mud.
The heavy rain that is still pouring incessantly acts like a natural shower that rinses it off, but the feeling of discomfort lingers. However, I have no time to be concerned about that.
The Greed-Gore that’s stopped several dozen meters in front of the fortress’s walls is taking a deep, relaxed breath, ignoring the arrows and magical attacks that are being fired at Will’s command.
「– It’s a Breath! Block it, Nell!」
For many monsters, a large inhalation indicates an imminent breath attack. This is something that even a Rank 1 adventurer knows. Even if I didn’t shout, I’m sure that Nell and the other students would be aware of what’s coming.
The reason that I couldn’t help but to shout anyway is the tremendous presence of the sheer amount of magical energy surging up from the Greed-Gore.
A chill runs down my spine. Just how powerful is this guy’s Breath going to be? Won’t it be enough to blow away Iskia Fortress in one attack?
Letting it fire is too dangerous. But I don’t have a proper plan!
My original plans for defeating the Greed-Gore were built upon the assumption that I’d have Lily and Fiona with me. Now that I’m in the midst of battle on my own, it would be fair to say that I have no plan at all.
But it’s an adventurer’s job to do something about it anyway. If I can’t, there will have been no meaning in me coming here, and if I can’t overcome the second trial, defeating the Apostles will be impossible.
I run forward at full speed, closing the distance that I’ve been blown as quickly as possible.
I reach the Greed-Gore in the blink of an eye, but ominous purple lightning is already gushing out of its mouth.
I only have time to get one attack in before it fires, huh. In that case, this attack is my only choice!
With both hands, I drive the『Absolute Malice Hatchet「Neck Cutter」』into the Greed-Gore with all the force I can muster.
With my enemy being so enormous that I have to look up to see it, the only place I can try to cut is its legs. It has its feet set deep in the earth - no, the iron sand covering its body has been manipulated and has changed its shape to become black pillars around its legs that anchors its feet into the ground.
I use the most powerful martial arts at my disposal, aiming at the ankle of one of the vertical legs that have sunk deep into the earth.
「- Guh, uoah!」
It’s hard. Harder than anything I’ve ever tried to cut into before. My blade doesn’t cut deep enough to find flesh, and instead of blood, all that comes out is a spray of iron sand.
However, the thing that surprises me more than the Greed-Gore’s sheer hardness is the force with which my blade is repelled.
I didn’t expect that I’d be able to cut through this stone-tower-like leg in one attack, even with the『Yaminagi.』But because of the unexpected, powerful repulsion, I wasn’t even able to cut through the black pillar around it. My blade has stopped about halfway in.
Damn it, what is this strange repulsion? It’s not just hard, it’s like the pillar is reacting with the same force - I see, it’s causing its own iron sand to burst out!
The moment it’s attacked from the outside, it causes an outwards explosion from inside to nullify it.
I come to the unpleasant realization that there’s still a lot of iron sand flying around, considering that my blade is already embedded in it. It’s not because『Yaminagi』is so powerful, but because the Greed-Gore is causing the sand to fly out on its own.
This kind of incredible reaction would probably be impossible through just manipulating the iron sand using an earth-element ability. It’s only because the Greed-Gore possesses powerful abilities of both earth and lightning elements that it’s possible to produce this reactive armor.
I don’t have time to be admiring the small details.
My full-power attack has merely caused some of the iron-sand pillar encasing one of the legs to spray around a bit; none of the damage has gone through to the leg itself. My blade has barely reached the brick-red carapace on the other side of the iron sand.
In other words, I haven’t managed to land a blow strong enough to interrupt the Breath.
「Damn it -」
And then a torrent of ominous purple light streams forth from the Greed-Gore’s mouth. It’s not a simple Thunder Breath. This is far more powerful; maybe it should be called a Plasma Breath.
Looking at this beam that’s like one of Lily’s that’s been magnified a hundredfold, I can feel the tremendous destructive power it contains.
Can this attack even be blocked by mere defensive spells -
「-『Lux Rampart Defan!』」
Nell’s defensive spell unfolds, a moment before the Breath is unleashed. Of course, she’s not alone. The fatigued Mage-class students, who have been fighting to hold the fortress for several consecutive days, pay no heed to the fact that they could collapse at any moment from spending all their mana and cast their own defensive spells with everything they have.
The『Shields』and『Defans』of each student’s element of specialty expand in front of the fortress’s walls, like blossoming flowers of every color.
Shining the brightest among all of them is Nell’s high-class, wide-area defensive spell of white light,『Lux Rampart Defan.』
The role of the Priest class is far from being a simple healer. In the first place, in order to heal one’s companions, they must already be injured.
The only thing that they are weak at is offense. Their main roles in battle are to support their allies with Boosts and one more task - defense.
Therefore, the defensive magic produced by Nell, a Rank 5 adventurer, is top-notch. It is only natural that her spell is overwhelmingly effective for defense compared to those of the students.
In addition to the『Lux Rampart Defan』, due to the support of the『Element Boost』from the students, another defensive spell of the light element,『Force Shield』, is layered on top of it.
The enormous, rectangular wall of light that covers all of the students atop the fortress’s walls completely can only be described as incredible. At the very least, it’s the most amazing defense that I’ve ever laid my eyes on.
However, I still have my doubts as to whether it will be enough to block this Plasma Breath.
「HAVE ONE MOOOOORE!」
As the Greed-Gore’s attack explodes against the multitude of defensive spells, I unleash my 『Yaminagi』once more.
Aware that the bright light and sounds of destruction are produced by the the defensive shields and walls being erased in the blink of eye, I slash into the same spot on the ankle that I was aiming at earlier with all my strength.
It’s hard. And once more, my attack is met with a reaction from the iron sand. Only a black spray emerges from the opening that I’ve made.
But this is enough. The blade has stopped in the Greed-Gore’s red-brown carapace; it’s not managing to reach its flesh, but I’ve managed to cut through the pillar that anchors it to the ground.
This pillar likely serves to counteract the Breath’s recoil. Cutting through it should disrupt the Greed-Gore’s aim.
Also, its Characteristic Ability is concentrated on managing the Breath, so it can’t replace the iron sand immediately. It can’t rebuild the pillar if I break it during the Breath.
It seems my suspicions were correct; the leg in front of me that’s like a massive tree begins to sway. Its claws that are as big as my arms are buried in the ground. However, slowly but surely, they are sliding through the earth.
As the Greed-Gore lets out a frustrated roar, the Breath is finally diverted away.
If it had been firing for three more seconds, the last of the defensive spells would probably have been broken through. The only one left now is Nell’s『Lux Rampart Defan.』It flickers several times before fading away.
The Greed-Gore’s mouth, the barrel through which the Breath is being fired, is now flailing around like a hose with the tap turned on too strongly. Completely unable to control the recoil, its rectangular head tilts around.
The Breath mows down everything in its path. A line of destruction is drawn on the walls of Iskia Fortress.
They are the sturdy walls that survived the territorial wars with the neighboring country of Fauren in the distant past, but they fall apart as the torrent of purple lightning hits them.
With a sound like roaring thunder, the walls of solid stone are blown into tiny pieces, drowning out the screams of the students.
It only took an instant for the breath to mow them down. Towards the end, the Breath shoots upwards, disappearing into the rainclouds like lightning traveling in the wrong direction.
After a moment of silence, the damaged walls begin to crumble loudly. The walls near the students are intact, and everyone is unharmed. In the end, there are no casualties, but… Most of the Mage class students are probably out of mana.
If the Greed-Gore fires that Breath again, everyone will be finished for sure. I’ll defeat the Greed-Gore before that happens - no, I have to at least pull off an attack that can draw its attention to only me -
I scrape together all of my knowledge on how to fight monsters to try to come up with a plan, but as if refusing to give me even the smallest window of time to act, the pillar of iron sand around the Greed-Gore’s leg digs into the earth’s surface once more.
It seems that it is using the iron sand that normally covers its tail to create the pillar; the tail’s black surface is peeling off and the original red color is being exposed all the way to its tip.
The leg-pillar that I blew away has re-formed, even thicker than the previous one. This time, it won’t be destroyed by two uses of『Yaminagi.』
No, wait. That’s not what I should be worried about right now. The fact that the Greed-Gore is taking up this posture once more means that -
「It can… use the Breath consecutively...」
It’s a well-known fact that Mages can’t cast powerful spells consecutively. Fiona runs out of mana with a single cast of『Aur Soleil』, and after Nell casts『Providence Dispel』, she becomes so fatigued that she develops a fever.
However, it seems that this rule doesn’t apply to monsters. Well, I don’t remember the Greed-Gore giving me a polite explanation like「This Breath is my most powerful move so I can only use it once, man.」
I’d just foolishly assumed that it can’t use the Breath consecutively.
This is bad, real bad. A sense of pure desperation rises up within me. With the absurd consecutive Breaths unfolding before my eyes, I can’t think straight.
As I stand here in panic, the Greed-Gore slowly prepares to fire for the second time.
This time, its legs are planted firmly in the ground so that they won’t sway. It inhales deeply, as if sucking in all the mana from the surrounding air. It takes up its stance with its head and long tail in a straight, horizontal line.
With this enormous, fixed cannon in front of me, there is no technique I can use to do anything against it.
I glance quickly at the fortress and see Nell raising the『Scale of White Wings』to cast defensive magic once more. On her own, even if she casts『Lux Rampart Defan』again, the defense won’t last three seconds against a direct hit from the Breath.
I-I have to do something, or everyone will die.
What should I do, am I supposed to do? What can I do to block the Breath? I have less than thirty seconds left. What can I possibly do in this tiny window of time -
Suddenly, I hear a voice.
I only know one person who would call me「Goshujin-sama.」It’s the talkative maid inhabiting a piece of cursed equipment whose voice I have now become very accustomed to hearing.
「Goshujin-sama, I’ll do my best.」
So are you telling me to use you? But to take on the huge Greed-Gore with only the slightly enhanced『Anchor Hands...』
「I’LL DO MY BEST!」
Whatever, I have no time to worry about that. Hitsugi, I’m betting everything on you!