「... How noisy.」
This is the first thing Judas whispers to himself as he wakes up.
The ancient magic of the Media Ruin, a Rank 4 dungeon on the outskirts of Daidalos’s capital district, was used to establish the Fourth Research Laboratory. Bishop Judas, the founder of the『White Sacrament』, has been busy ever since.
Since the Month of First Flame (Hatsubi), the month in which he first stepped foot into this enormous Geofront, he hasn’t seen the light of the sun even once. That applies for the white-masked researchers employed here as well, but they haven’t been working as tirelessly as Judas has.
There is a single bed installed in this room in the deepest part of the laboratory complex, which simultaneously serves as a research room, office and personal room. Judas only uses it once a month. But today, his sleep lasted less than an hour before it was interrupted.
Just as Judas himself whispered, it is noisy outside.
The only sound inside the room is that of Judas throwing aside the bedsheets to rise from the bed.
A dim magical light on the ceiling is lit, illuminating the disorganized interior of the room and a muscular body that one would never imagine belonging to this old man. His stark-naked body is just like an ancient statue of a hero. Any man would yearn for such a strong body. Not only its muscles, but also the size of its manhood.
Judas’s bare body is seen by no-one. As he reaches out with an uncoordinated-looking movement, putting his hand on the bishop’s robe next to him that has been folded in a slightly crooked way –
The thick metal double-doors that cover the only entrance to the room open with a heavy creak.
The one who enters is one of the researchers wearing a white mask and cloak that Judas is so accustomed to seeing in this place.
「B-Bishop-sama... Please, run a...」
Not managing to finish his words, the male researcher collapses.
A pool of blood spreads across the floor. There is a large red stain on the back of the face-down researcher’s white cloak. It is clear that a sword has stabbed him from behind.
「Hmph, I don’t need you to lead the way anymore.」
No, there is no need to confirm the corpse’s condition after witnessing the murder first-hand.
「Oi, old man, you’re the boss of this place, right?」
Speaking in a deep, threatening voice, an Orc wearing a black helmet and suit of armor steps over the researcher’s corpse to enter the room. In his hand is a longsword stained with the researcher’s blood.
Judas’s body is large for a human’s, but it definitely looks small compared to the enormous Orc who stands at a towering height of over two meters.
The Orc is not the only intruder. Behind him is a group of knights wearing similar black armor, all of large races such as Lizardmen and Cyclopes.
Knights. They are not just any enemies, but genuine knights appointed by the king himself.
「Remnants of the Daidalos army... I was in the middle of my rest; would you please come again tomorrow?」
Judas lets out a huge yawn as he scratched his head that is covered in white, shoulder-length hair. As these knights barged in before he managed to put on his bishop’s robe, he is still naked. He is incredibly defenseless.
「Don’t go senile on me, old man.」
There is no way that Bishop Judas, the man who has accomplished the incredible feat of artificially creating the seventh Apostle, has gone senile.
Judas has only just awakened from slumber, but he understands the situation better than anyone else at the Fourth Research Laboratory.
Rebellions have been occurring frequently as of late, all over the country. With Sariel in command, the Crusaders have been running around to suppress them, but it has been largely unsuccessful.
While that was happening, there were rumors that the remnants of Daidalos’s army were gathering troops once more and planning to recapture the capital district. Small-scale rebellions occurring all over the country caused the Crusaders’ forces to be divided. In other words, they were a diversion. Even if one guessed that this was the case, the rebellions needed to be dealt with quickly. As a result, the Crusaders were forced to dispatch troops everywhere.
But even though these rumors were unconfirmed, the defenses in Daidalos’s capital district weren’t critically lacking. Additional reinforcements had even been dispatched from the Sinclair Republic. There were no gaps in Crusader troops’ positions. Even though the Daidalos army couldn’t move openly, they would have surely been aware of this, at least.
So then what move would the Daidalos army make? Would they decide that the enemy forces had been divided sufficiently by their diversionary tactics and move in on the capital district? It seemed that those at the Crusaders headquarters were making various predictions and forming plans to counter the Daidalos army’s movements, but Judas arrived at the correct answer a long time ago.
「Your objective is those Black Dragons, is it not? It makes no difference whether you come today or tomorrow. Those things have already been fully trained.」
「Y-you shitty old man! What have you done to his highness the prince?!」
The Dragon King Garvinal has been slain by Sariel. There are none other than his sons who can succeed him. The blood of the royal family is absolutely crucial for the nation of Daidalos’s revival.
Garvinal had left a considerable number of children, but right after Daidalos was seized, they were all brought to the Fourth Research Laboratory to be used as experimental subjects. Normally, at least one of them would have been moved to headquarters to be used for political purposes, but every single one of the Black Dragons have become materials for Judas’s experiments.
The Crusaders’ main army that took the capital district is fifteen thousand strong, and Cardinal Ars holds command over them. He owes a debt to Judas. If Judas asks something of him, he can never refuse. Of course, Sariel, who is the supreme commander of the Crusaders, cannot refuse any of Judas’s requests either.
In any case, all of Garvinal’s orphaned children have been gathered here at the Fourth Research Laboratory. That is why the Daidalos army has attacked this place.
Rescuing the royal family. That is their true objective.
They divided the Crusaders’ troops all over the nation, and confined the remaining troops in Daidalos’s capital district. All for the purpose of diverting attention away from this Rank 4 dungeon on the outskirts.
And now they have stepped foot into the deepest parts of this research laboratory. Both adventurers and knights have become familiar with the Media Ruin over many years as it is the closest dungeon to the capital district. As they were familiar with its layout, they would easily gain control over the whole dungeon if they were to use the secret passageways and hidden doors that have yet to be discovered by the researchers. In fact, these surprise tactics partially worked.
However, Judas whispers as if sneering at them.
「His highness the prince... Ah, Garvinal’s eldest son, Black Dragon number 13. Give up on that one; it is currently flying somewhere over Pandora with a hero on its back.」
The royal family member that they are supposed to serve, the first prince of Daidalos who was to become the next generation’s Dragon King, is being used as a mount by a human – how humiliating this must be for these knights. Judas does not understand – no, he does not even think about it, but he does understand that this Orc Knight has lost himself in anger.
「I WON’T FORGIVE YOU! I’LL CUT YOU DOWN RIGHT HEEEEEERE!」
Raising his bloodstained longsword, the Orc steps forward at a speed too quick to be seen by the eye.
Judas simply stares at his killer’s blade with an unchanging sour look on his face – or so it appears.
「First technique – Flow.」
The entire room shakes with a thunderous sound.
It takes some time for the Daidalos knights behind the Orc to comprehend what happens next.
The ceiling collapses. The floor caves in. The Orc’s magnificent black Daidalos-style armor is pulverized and his whole body collapses, covered in blood.
From one moment to the next, the situation has changed to this. They cannot understand what has happened.
「Hmm, my strength has grown quite dull. I thought that I would at least be able to break through the ceiling.」
The naked old man is still standing there, whispering these words of uncertain meaning.
The one who attacked him was a strong Orc knight, one of the elite. He was not simply a skilled swordsman; in the instant he attacked, he was using a deadly martial arts skill.
But he was unable to land even a scratch on this unarmed old man, this mere human, and now his body has plunged into the ground – the knights cannot understand, but they soon begin to recall what they just witnessed in that split second.
『First technique – Flow.』Judas used the Ancient Jujutsu by this name.
The Orc swung his blade downwards to split his target’s head in half. He used the master-level martial arts skill,『Break Impact.』The tip of Judas’s finger merely pressed lightly against tip of the sword from the side.
Touching a blade mid-swing is an unbelievably risky move, but the result of that move is even more unbelievable.
Just what kind of flow of power was at work here? At that moment, the Orc fell against the floor, as if choosing to kneel of his own accord.
His body fell with even more force than his original attack. No, it’s not that simple. His body was thrust into the floor with incredible speed, as if an invisible giant’s hand crushed him from above.
That was the first impact. The stone floor was pulverized by the Orc’s enormous body crashing into it, and countless cracks appeared in his armor of black steel.
The excess kinetic energy from the impact brought the already unconscious Orc upwards. It would be more appropriate to say that he was sent flying. He bounced violently into the stone ceiling that is just as solid and hard as the floor.
That was the second impact. The ceiling caved in. Indeed, with a little more force, the Orc’s face that resembles that of an evil demon would have broken through the ceiling and reached the floor above.
The third impact was the gentlest, with only the force of the Orc’s fall from the ceiling. For the Orc who had already suffered fatal damage from his collision with the ceiling, the force of this impact was meaningless, however.
As he landed for the final time with a dull sound, his armor fell to pieces like broken porcelain. In the next moment, blood and cerebrospinal fluid spilled out of the helmet whose horn ornament was crushed flat.
「This guy is ridiculously strong! Taking him alive is impossible, we have to kill him here!」
The knights have finally processed what has happened. The Lizardman who appears to be the second-in-command after the Orc gives these orders in a spirited shout.
Though the chamber is quite spacious, there is not enough room to wield a spear or halberd. The Daidalos knights choose to use more maneuverable weapons like swords and knives, though they are less suitable for their large bodies, and slowly close the distance between themselves and Judas.
「Wait, Vice-captain, there’s a hostage right here. Isn’t it alright if we don’t fight this dangerous-looking old man?」
The light-toned voice that seems to break the air of tension filling the room comes from among the Daidalos knights – no, from behind Judas, from on top of the bed that he just got out of.
Judas calmly turns around to look at this new person who has suddenly appeared, as well as the aforementioned『hostage.』
「Hyi, ah... Judas-sama...」
A single girl calls Judas’s name, sounding as if her voice is being squeezed out of her.
She is neither a beauty nor unattractive; her face is incredibly plain and inconspicuous.
Her thin body is also lacking in the sex appeal that a young girl should have. Her skin is white, but it is pale to the point of looking unhealthy.
Judas’s dark blue eyes look at the crying, trembling, naked girl whose youth is her only redeeming feature.
「Bringing a girl into a cave like this. You’re quite a popular old man.」
Indeed, this girl hasn’t suddenly appeared out of nowhere. She was sleeping in the same bed as Judas to begin with.
Up until now, she has been holding her breath and waiting for the danger to pass – no, it was likely that she suppressed her fear and stayed hidden by wrapping the bedsheets around herself in order to avoid getting in Judas’s way.
「A Slime Assassin? I see, such things exist.」
A blue, semi-transparent person thrusts a knife towards the plain-faced girl who is sobbing with fear of the danger that she is in. To be more precise, only the top half of this person’s body is actually person-shaped. Presumably, he needed a head with which to speak and arms with which to hold onto the girl. The lower half of his body is the same globular shape as a Slime monster, bobbing up and down on top of the bed. Of course, there is a shining red core at the center of his body.
The room is arranged in such a way that there is a ventilation duct right next to the bed. It is certain that the Slime Assassin used its flexible body to navigate freely through the narrow ducts and entered the room from there. With this method of entry, he was only able to bring with him a single knife, however. And this knife is now being pressed against the back of the girl’s thin neck.
「Hey, if you don’t want your woman to be killed, surrender quietly. Careful now, there’s no time to think. I’m only going to wait ten seconds. Here we go, ten! Nine –」
「Uu, uu... I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Judas-sama, for being so useless...」
As if repenting for the final time before she dies, the plain-faced girl repeatedly apologizes to Judas with tears flowing from her eyes like a waterfall.
Even so, the Slime man’s heartless countdown does not stop. His tone sounded like he was joking, but he is dead serious. He is unlikely to care whether Judas surrenders or not.
The power that Judas demonstrated when he instantly killed the Orc knight is worthy of admiration, but if they were to attack him with this many elite knights while being careful not to drop their guard, they would suffer some losses but be able to take him down.
Judas knows that this is probably what the Slime is thinking, and is partially exasperated by his foolishness. Even unintelligent monsters can use their instincts to perceive when an enemy is stronger than them.
「I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry that I’m such a useless woman, I’m sorry I’m ugly, I’m sorry my body is unattractive –」
「Dorothy, hurry and put your clothes on.」
Judas gives another exasperated look, this time towards the girl, as he speaks.
「I’m sorr – eh?」
As Judas calls her name and calmly tells her to get changed as if nothing is out of the ordinary, Dorothy stares at him in puzzlement through teary eyes.
「Three, two, oi! What kind of stupid stuff are you saying, you shitty old man –」
「No, I suppose a shower comes first. Make sure you wash all of that Slime’s mucus off your body.」
Saying only these words, Judas turns his head to face the Daidalos knights standing at the room’s entrance once more.
Before Dorothy processes the meaning of Judas’s words, she sees it. The red crystal-like orb clutched in his right hand.
「Kah, haah! H-how...」
As this small voice fades away, the knife that has been pressed against Dorothy’s neck drops silently onto the bed’s surface.
「Eh, huh, eh?!」
Before she realizes what has happened, Dorothy lets out a shocked voice; she is covered in the mucus of the Slime that has melted away.
The fearsome Slime Assassin is no more. All that remains of him is the mucus that covers Dorothy’s naked body and the bedsheets.
「Y-you bastard! What did you just do?!」
Seeing the Slime Assassin suddenly die a mysterious death, the Lizardman vice-captain raises his voice.
「You do not know? Slimes’ cores are their weak point; if their cores are destroyed, they perish instantly.」
With the tone of an instructor at a knight’s school teaching something to a bad student, Judas tosses the Slime core to the floor. The impact causes the core to shatter to pieces like glass.
「That’s impossible, when, how did you...」
「Just now, I simply pulled it out. Is it possible that you could not see it?」
There is no way that the knights could have seen it. There is nothing to suggest that Judas has even taken a step; as far as they are aware, he has been standing in the exact same spot without moving.
Perhaps if Judas had used the legendary, time-stopping space-time spell known as Eternal, they would have reacted the same way.
Of course, Judas has already confirmed that a spell with such a legendary effect never existed even in ancient times, so he knows that this is an absurd comparison.
「Look, Dorothy. Our long-awaited experimental materials have come to us. We will be busy from now on.」
With his strong, muscular back facing Dorothy, Judas takes a step towards the Daidalos knights.
「Kuh, this man is dangerous! We have to bring him down here at all costs!」
The Daidalos knights have finally gotten serious, and they attack simultaneously.
Their battle formation is poor, but they possess formidable individual strength and the ability to work together in small numbers. They make full use of their numbers to deliver slashing and stabbing attacks from multiple directions. In response, Judas murmurs to himself.
「Oh dear. It seems that my sleepless nights will continue for some time.」
As a mere researcher, Dorothy cannot comprehend what happens next. All she can see is the gruesome corpses of the knights whose chests have been gouged out through their black steel armor. And in the center, there is the naked body of Judas, who has not been touched by a single drop of blood other than the red-stained right hand that plucked out their hearts.
The only thing she is sure of is that the battle is over. She didn’t even hear a single scream of pain. It was all over in an instant.
Dorothy gives Judas a dumbfounded look, as if she is dreaming.
「Hmm, it seems that suppressing the rest of them will be impossible with just the adventurers that we have employed as guards... There is no other choice, I will lend them a little assistance. Dorothy, activate all of the altars before I return.」
「Fueh? I-I’m sorry?!」
But Judas’s voice sounds incredibly real. And the contents of his orders are also very real. They are harsh orders that Dorothy wishes were a lie. But she is the only one other than Judas who understands the processes involving Ancient Magic that are required to activate all of the different kinds of altars, so she has no choice.
「I am leaving it to you.」
And Judas who is walking out of the room, still naked, is also definitely real.
「Judas-samaa~! Your clothes! Please put on your clooothes!」