The Battle Begins
“We brought it.”
“Ooh, this is perfect.”
After passing him the corpse of the bonobo, Asterios nailed it to a simply built wooden cross that Cudd and Shirley then helped him raise in the middle of a magic circle.
“With this, the preparations are complete. Now we just need to wait for the other two to return.”
“Where are they?”
Cudd asked about the whereabouts of Kyle and Leia. Asterios pointed one of the holy nails towards the mountain as he answered.
“The two of them are setting up similar magic circles around the mountain. They should be back soon.”
Just as soon as he had said so, Kyle and Leia indeed came back.
“Have you two finished your preparations?”
“Yes, we’re ready.”
Asterios nodded as the two of them caught their breath, then rang his bell.
Light originating from the established magical circles formed a barrier in an hourglass shape between their position and the mine. Shirley was impressed that despite using such large-scale magic, Asterios didn’t seem fatigued at all.
“To so effortlessly create a magic barrier that large with such simple preparations… I’m surprised it only took one ring of the bell.”
“If it were a smaller boundary, I would not have had to use the bell at all. That said, let us begin.”
The E-Rank adventurers tense up at the commencement of their strategy.
As Asterios chanted the two-verse spell, a blue flame ignited from the magic circle swallowed the crucified corpse of the bad bonobo.
“《INSANE MONKEYS OF THE BEJEWELLED MOUNTAIN・BATHE IN THIS LIGHT LIKE MOTHS TO A FLAME・AND BEHOLD THE REMAINS OF YOUR COMRADE》!”
Even if he was skilled enough to raise the barrier with a simple ring of the bell, strategic magic of this complexity was something else entirely.
As soon as he had finished singing those three verses with a booming voice, a cacophony of roars that seemed to shake the very mountain rose up inside the mine.
“Uwaa!? T-they’re coming!”
A long black cloud descended from the mine’s entrance… No, not a cloud, but a stream of enraged bad bonobos.
The crazy monkeys that sweep down to attack the party are frothing at the mouth with bloodshot eyes, seeming nothing like the intelligent monsters they were before.
The strategic magic called 《Hate Area》is a spell that maddens and draws the attention of a large group of enemies by burning the corpse of one of their group with a magical flame.
The magical influences all the targeted monsters in a wide area, and it’s especially effective against monsters with inherently low magical resistance that operate in herds or colonies, such as goblins or bad bonobos.
It’s also a magic that is often used in human wars. Although it may seem like drawing a large number of enemies towards you is a disadvantage, the reality is that it’s very easy to set a trap as those same enemies are completely heedless of any danger in their single-minded desire to kill.
The hourglass-like barrier constricts the flow of the bonobos.
The monkeys cram into the narrowing passage in an attempt to attack the adventurers, with many becoming trapped and many more getting trampled underfoot.
It took a while, but eventually, a young bonobo managed to squeeze through. Even though one of its arms is already dislocated and broken from the struggle, its eyes are full of hatred as it looks to rush at the human beings before him, but-
A club is swung with force at its head, and one of the nails hammered into it pierces its skull.
The maddened monsters no longer have the intelligence to use tools or magic to break through this situation.
All they can do is be trampled to death by their comrades before making it through the chokepoint, or drag themselves through bloody and battered.
But, they no longer feel pain. With their fangs bared and nails flashing, three more bad bonobos tear through the gap and jump at their enemy’s throat.
With a single blow from the war ax, the bodies of the three monkeys are cleaved in half, their blood raining on Asterios.
The Minotaur who butchers the monsters left and right is from a race full of proud warrior clans, using his immense strength and powerful magic to protect his friends with his body and barriers, he is the very image of a dignified A-Rank adventurer.
But, it isn’t just injured bonobos who are managing to get through the narrowest point in the barrier.
On top of the pile of struggling monkeys, two individuals manage to jump over the top seemingly completely unharmed.
“Hey! Those ones aren’t injured!”
“Leave them to me!”
Even if she doesn’t have the strength or reach to pull back a regular bow, the shooting accuracy of those with elf blood running through their veins is second to none.
The dwarven built rapid-fire crossbow launches two bolts, both with harpoon-like tips that would be difficult to pull out.
They didn’t quite hit where they were aimed. But, the bolts still pierced the bodies of the two bonobos. The two monkeys fell back from the recoil of the shots, but in their crazed state of mind an injury that light wouldn’t be enough to stop them.
They both jumped back up immediately and rushed at Leia who had shot at them, but she held her ground and chanted a single word.
Flames erupted from the bolts, and the upper bodies of the bonobos were swallowed in fiery explosions.
Since time immemorial elves have been using runic magic to enhance the power of their archery, the magic of all different kinds are unleashed using a 24 character runic alphabet.
The runes are engraved into the arrowhead beforehand and the power is channelled during the shot, and the same applies to the bolts that Leia uses.
Whether it be bombs or poison, a skilled elf warrior can activate the spell with a single runic chant, that is the magic archery inherited by the half-elf.
“There’s no time to stand around!”
Determined not to lose out to Leia, Cudd started to cast earth magic to stop the growing number of bonobos who are breaking through the barrier.
Even though there are plenty of different types of magic in the world when it comes to combat none are more effective than earth magic since it can shape the very battlefield to one’s will.
Numerous small rocky spikes smash through the ground and pierce the feet of three onrushing bonobos, causing them to fall and injure themselves further. It is the most elementary earth magic, 《Needle Field》.
During a battle, the spell will turn the ground beneath the enemy into a rocky hazard. It both deprives them of mobility and injures them at the same time.
At the bonobos who are injured on the ground, Kyle fires a 《Fireball》and Leia unleashes another barrage of bolts.
The fire rages.
Instead of aiming to kill, the swings of the Minotaur’s battle axe are aimed at keeping the enemy back. Asterios shouted to Shirley as more earth magic and bolts are unleashed around him.
“Leave this to us. Before the dragon comes down on us, find its nest!”
This battle is merely the opening act. Shirley glared towards the peak of the mountain where she predicts that nest is, and entrusts this battle to Asterios.
“You’re the only one who can take on that dragon! Please leave the rest to us!”
“To be honest, I really wanted to fight it as well!”
“Shut up, you shitty little brat!”
In response to the party’s words, Shirley nods silently.
Gripping curved blades in both hands, the Demonic White Sword leapt over the piling bodies of bonobos and cleaved through the necks of the ones who stood in her path as she ran.
As if rushing through a field of blossoming red flowers, the heads of the monkeys flew high into the sky as she ran towards the mine, leaving only fountains of blood where they used to be.
Every time a sword became dulled because of the blood, she would simply stick it into the heart, skull or neck of a bonobo and call another one into her hand as if it had always been there. Leia murmured in admiration.
“Hey, just who was it that said she didn’t seem like anything special?”
“Wasn’t that you? Wait, focus on the enemies! There’s more coming!”
Leia shot more iron bolts towards the bonobos that just kept coming, shouting “I know, I know!” to Cudd, who used the body of a bonobo with a cut windpipe as a shield against another monkey rushing at him.
Shirley’s prediction that the dragon would make its nest on the summit turned out to be correct, since she knew there wouldn’t be a cave big enough in the mine to house a creature with that much pride.
As she approached the mountaintop, she didn’t see any more bad bonobos. Judging by the throng of black haired monkeys she can see far below the mountaintop, Asterios must have drawn out all the bonobos in the mine.
The summit aside, she didn’t see any signs of life as she rushed up the mountain, moving as if she were dancing and not breaking a sweat.
(Even so, this presence I’m feeling near the summit… It has to be a big one, right?)
‘An air of pride’ doesn’t seem like merely a metaphor to Shirley right now.
In this dog eat dog world where only the strongest survive, the proud monsters that sit atop the food chain literally exude an atmosphere of strength.
Just how strong is the dragon that awaits her on the summit? It seems similar to the Black Dragon of the mountains and the Vampire Princess who attacked the capital she dealt with in the past.
(It’s currently eight in the morning… If nothing gets in the way, I should make it back in time.)
She looked at the pocket watch she pulled from her cleavage and nodded confidently. If everything goes to plan, she should be able to eat dinner with her daughters tomorrow night.
If she had to deal with both the monkeys and the dragon herself, it might have taken her more than three days to make the round trip, so maybe teaming up with a party wasn’t such a bad idea.
…Well, she still can’t say for sure if she’ll do something like this again, though.
“So, you’ve arrived.”
Shirley, after scaling the mountain in record time, looks up at the dragon’s nest and the gigantic monster at the centre of it.
It was about only slightly larger than the dragon she had fought against before. But, the difference in magical power is absolutely palpable, and this dragon has two sets of wings on either side of its body.
Even more distinctive is the horn that shines like a jewel on its head, a symbol of authority amongst dragons.
“Ho… I thought the monkeys were acting queerly, so that was your doing?”
In addition, a soaring intelligence that can even understand the language of many different cultures. Even if she wasn’t fully aware of the details, Shirley could guess at just what was in front of her.
“An Ancient Dragon?”
“Kukuku… The very same.”
Except for the dragon king, which was a unique existence, ancient dragons were the strongest dragons that existed in the physical realm.
They are immortal and accrue an immense amount of experience and knowledge in their old age, and are said to be a match for a party of S-rank adventurers.
Before this mighty foe, only a single B-rank adventurer stands. It’s a fight that should be decided as soon as you read the titles of the combatants.
“Truly, for those monkeys to be so ensnared by man’s chicanery. Resourceful they may be, but they remain a base creature. In the end, they were not worthy of being below me.”
The ancient dragon speaks coldly as he blows air through his nose. For such a high ranking dragon, all other races are mere dirt to him.
As it lifts itself from the ground with its huge body, it is like a mythical beast from the old stories, and any ordinary warrior facing it would be rooted to the spot in fear.
“Very well, little human. In recognition of making it this far, I shall personally-”
Those sonorous and proud words were cut off before they finished.
“I don’t have time to listen to your monologues forever.”
A small sound could be heard near the dragon’s neck, then he landed heavily back on the ground.
Blood gushing from its mouth, the ancient dragon had no idea what had just happened.
The dragon was still wondering just when Shirley had managed to get behind it, as blood poured out of its throat.
“I appreciate that you wanted to make a speech. But, unfortunately, I’m just not interested.”
Instead of swinging the sword to clear away the blood that coated it, Shirley simply let it disappear and held a new one in its place the next second.
The injury she had inflicted was fatal, cutting a major blood vessel in the neck. The Demonic White Sword didn’t relax her stance, and as the dragon lay in a pool of its own blood, it stared into those blue and red eyes that shined in the morning sun.
“Why are you posting chapters in the middle of the night again?” Because I’ve lost control of my life.