TNG Vol. 14 Chapter 3 Part 3

When Shin and Schnee returned to the headmistress’ office with Luxuria in tow, Hilamee’s face was still red. Luxuria didn’t let go of this chance.

“Oh my, are we blushing, headmistress?”

“Not another word, please.”

Hilamee replied right away. After that, she complained to Shin for a good while.

“What is your business today, anyway? I suppose it is something different from yesterday?”

“Yes, I was wondering if we could set some anti-devil traps around Luxuria.”

Shin explained that if the enemy initiated battle unaware of the traps, the tide could easily turn in their favor.

“Wait, let me make sure, but wouldn’t these traps activate against me too?”

“Yes, so you’ll have to learn their locations really well.”

Anti-devil traps would react to any devil. It wasn’t possible to set them such that Luxuria wouldn’t set them off. At the very least, Shin could not do it.

Luxuria put her hands on her cheeks and sighed.

“It’s all that Avaritia’s fault…go ahead and install something huge, so that he can suffer massive damage at least.”

“Are you sure? You’ll risk suffering high damage too.”

“I just have to dodge it.”

Luxuria seemed very confident in her dodging skills, but Shin couldn’t help but worry. It was also true that average traps would mean little against Avaritia’s abnormal recovery abilities. 

Shin then took out one of his highest quality traps, which he had prepared the night before.

“What’s that?”

“The immobilizing trap I mentioned before and a trap that inflicts great damage to devils only. The right one is for immobilizing, the left one for damaging.”

Shin did not yet have traps that could target human form devils, but only ones meant for their true devil forms.

“Avaritia’s lower body doesn’t have a fixed shape, so the immobilizing trap uses a water spell to freeze and stop it. Even if activated inside the institute grounds, there’s no risk of blowing up buildings. However, if there are people other than devil within its radius they will freeze too, so be careful. As for the damaging traps, I have basic ones that just shoot beams of light while others that damage anything inside their radius. It only affects devils, so there’s no concern even if there are people inside the radius.”

“Would people die if they got caught in the activation radius?”

“The main purpose is immobilization, so it barely does any damage. The damaging types are specialized against devils, so make sure you stay away from it.”

Shin estimated that a direct hit would shave off about 10% of Avaritia’s HP. At the very least, 【Lifedraining Sludge】 would be blown away.

“Will you try it…on me?”

Shin was serious when he mentioned testing the effectiveness of anti-devil items on Luxuria before, so she asked Shin if he really would. Her complexion was very pale.

“Things would turn nasty, so I won’t. I packed it with magic, after all.”

“I see. I don’t really like it too rough, after all.”

Luxuria seemed relieved. The conversation was supposed to be serious, but her last words seemed to head in a completely different direction: after all, she was the devil of lust.

“I’d like to set them up as soon as possible, can you give us permission?”

“Just to make sure, the students will not be in danger, right?”

“They won’t be. These traps only react to devils, so even if the students touch them nothing will happen.”

One of the characteristics of the traps was that they would show no reaction to all species except devils.

“Then it’s okay. That kind of friendly fire would be too scary.”

Hilamee was tasked with preserving the students’ safety too, so Shin’s words gave her relief.

Shin then went to install traps with Luxuria. As there was the possibility of being spied upon by people from Avaritia’s side, infiltrated in the institute, they made sure to camouflage their actions.

“I really can’t tell that there’s something there…I have to be really careful.”

Luxuria carefully looked at Shin setting up traps, then spoke with a tense expression on her face. In order to make sure the enemy did not find out about the traps, they did not create any maps or write down the locations.

Only Shin, Schnee, Luxuria, and Hilamee knew about the location of the traps.

“Aaah, it’s all your fault, Avaritia!”

As Luxuria frowned, Shin and the others could feel her heartfelt exasperation.

 

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After Shin’s group set up the traps, Hilamee left the institute to go to the royal palace: she had to report the information received from Shin to the top brass. She had actually planned to go first thing in the morning, but news of Avaritia’s defeat was being spread around the castle, so it took some time before she could schedule an appointment.

“There’s still some time before Avaritia arrives, though…”

She wanted to relate the news as soon as possible. She thought that Shin’s group would be authorized an audience with the king quickly, but apparently some nobles did not see them positively. They were people who did not know how fearsome devils could be: if Shin and Schnee requested an audience, they would surely get in the way.

Hilamee also realized that Shin had entrusted her with the task because he expected something like this might happen.

“I suppose Shin and Schnee would easily realize if someone was looking at them with malicious intent.”

Hilamee could tell, so Shin surely would too. She had heard from him about such bothersome looks in the game era too.

Hilamee was lost in such thoughts when a knock was heard at the door.

“I apologize for the wait. His Majesty cannot move for the time being, so I have come in his stead.”

The king’s envoy was one of the kingdom’s guardians and heroes, Sherlene. Hilamee, who often visited the royal palace due to her duties as headmistress, often had the chance to meet with Sherlene, so they had become close.

“Thank you for sparing time for me in this hectic period.”

Because of their positions, their first greetings had to be formal. The mood quickly lightened, however, as smiles appeared on their faces. No one else was present, so there would be no problem even if they talked informally.

“There’s something you need to report immediately, right? Could it be related to the devil?”

“Yes. Shin realized that Avaritia hasn’t been completely defeated yet. According to Luxuria, Avaritia is still a few days from here.”

“How can that be!? Sir Shin defeated it, I…I saw it with my own eyes!”

The usually composed Sherlene couldn’t help losing her cool.

“Devils can use the abilities of other devils they absorbed, albeit as weaker forms. Shin said that Avaritia probably absorbed Sloth. That devil can create copies of itself, so the Avaritia you defeated was probably a copy created like that. Avaritia’s main body will be stronger than that.”

“Oh god…so that wasn’t its actual strength…”

The battle had been one-sided, but only Shin could do something like that. Without the anti-devil weapons, Sherlene wouldn’t have stood a chance.

“The news of Avaritia’s defeat is spreading through the palace…and this happens.”

Sherlene held her head with her hands. The king and his aides with some knowledge about devils would understand that a devil could not be defeated easily, but the soldiers’ morale would definitely take a hit. Some might even say that Shin had made a mistake.

“I suppose it’s better to say that the report came not from sir Shin, but from our research. We haven’t even distributed all weapons yet…”

“I agree, that would create less of a commotion. There were no casualties among the soldiers in the previous battle, so if you riled them up with a speech, saying that now it was the knights’ turn to protect the kingdom, morale won’t decrease too much…I hope.”

“That’s for me and Fagall to think about. If Avaritia is heading here, the institute is the area in the most danger. Will you be alright?”

Luxuria was in the institute’s infirmary: being Avaritia’s target, it was only natural for the institute to be the enemy’s number one target.

“We are making countermeasures. In case of necessity, there’s always the emergency escape function.”

“Emergency escape? That’s a first.”

“We can instantly transfer all people in the institute to the underground shelter. It can be used only once, so it’s for emergencies only, but that’s the situation we are in right now.”

Hilamee planned to use it without hesitation if Avaritia entered the institute or any equal emergency occurred.

If devils fought in their true forms, their surroundings would turn to rubble. It would be impossible to have people take shelter by other means if a battle between such humongous beasts broke out.

“Teleport, again…”

“Again?”

“Sir Shin gave me a teleportation crystal card for emergencies. He took it back after the battle against Avaritia, but to see supposedly lost magic mentioned so often, I started thinking that maybe it’s not actually so rare.”

It was a technology impossible to replicate at present: only former players, chosen ones and a few inheritors could use it. In addition, not even all former players or chosen ones could use teleportation, so there was no progress in its research.

“I too only had the guild house function, so I can’t actually use teleportation. Depending on how it’s used, it can become a lethal weapon, so this ability would be dangerous if it spread.”

It could be extremely effective for assassination or invasion: while convenient, Hilamee thought that it shouldn’t be spread. Sherlene could understand her opinion too.

“We went a bit off topic…today I came to report only about the devil.”

“That’s fine. I will duly report to the king.”

“Thank you.”

Hilamee added that she would get in touch if there was anything new and left the palace via horse cart, as Sherlene saw her off. She still had many things to do in the institute, as its headmistress.

“A devil more powerful than that is coming? We really must be ready for anything.”

Sherlene went to report to the king as soon as Hilamee left.

Sherlene recalled the pressure she felt during the fight against Avaritia and clenched her fists. Shin and Schnee would surely be wary of any signs of Avaritia. It might be possible not to have to face it directly. Sherlene, though, asked herself what she could do.

Thanks to the weapons Shin gave her, she could put up some resistance, but depending on the location, even those weapons might not be useful. Sherlene, who had heard from Shin about Avaritia’s abilities, sadly concluded that if the devil appeared in the city, all she could do was buy time until Shin arrived.

She would have to entrust someone else with the protection of her country. This was what frustrated Sherlene the most.

“Lady Sherlene, the meeting is already over?”

“Sir Namsaar? I thought you were overseeing the soldiers’ training.”

Sherlene was stopped by Namsaar on her way to the king’s audience room. The leader of knights had his usual gloomy expression and mood, but Sherlene was used to it.

“An urgent request from Hilamee, who is connected to sir Shin…I thought something serious happened, so I left the training to the vice-captain. There is no concern about that.”

“I see. Indeed, there is something I need to report to His Majesty as soon as possible. It appears that Avaritia was defeated was just a copy and the main body is still alive and well out there.”

Sherlene made sure no one was around them and whispered the news. Namsaar simply raised an eyebrow.

“I see. So it hadn’t been defeated after all.”

“You do not seem very surprised. Did you foresee this happening?”

Sherlene was surprised that Namsaar seemed to know that something like that would happen.

“……”

“Sir Namsaar? What do you…gh!?”

Before Sherlene could act on her suspicions of Namsaar’s peculiar silence, something wrapped around her neck. That something, which did not emanate the slightest presence, tightened its grip more and more.

Because of her high stats, Sherlene wouldn’t have trouble breathing if she was just being choked, but she was having unexpected difficulty now.

“!?!”

The situation was completely unexpected, but Sherlene would not faint without a fight. Thanks to her diligent training, she had managed to materialize one 『Guildern』 as soon as she realized that she was under attack.

Before she could attack whatever was constricting her neck, however, a shadow extended from Namsaar’s back and knocked 『Guildern』 away.

The unexpected development increased Sherlene’s agitation. She had been caught just when she exhaled, so her consciousness was starting to fade. 

If she took out other weapons they would be just knocked away, so she tried to forcefully remove what was wrapped around her neck, but its grip was too tight to budge. It was so tough that Sherlene’s muscular strength wasn’t enough to rip it apart.

“As expected of a hero, not giving up till the very end.”

A male voice came from somewhere. It sounded rather young and gave Sherlene a strong feeling of uneasiness. She couldn’t understand what was going on. Even as her consciousness was fading, she knew that she couldn’t let Namsaar go like that.

“You can’t do anything. Stay quiet.”

Sherlene was about to resort to a self-detonation spell, when a shock ran through her body. Almost unconscious, Sherlene could not resist anymore.

 

◆◆◆◆

 

“Nngh…where am I…?”

Sherlene mumbled to herself and stopped. She looked around and found the familiar corridor of the royal palace.

“Lady Sherlene? What’s wrong?”

“Ah, no, it’s nothing.”

Sherlene reassured Namsaar, who was walking a few steps ahead, that nothing was wrong. She wondered if she had fallen asleep while walking, then resumed her pace.

“Don’t you think that everyone is a bit too festive about the “Avaritia has been vanquished!” business?”

Sherlene sighed after hearing the conversation between some passing nobles.

“I agree. The spread of the monsters surrounding the kingdom is still unclear and there have been sightings of high-level monsters as well. On top of that, the merchant convoys are being attacked by monsters, so trade and supply are stalled…it certainly isn’t the right time to be festive.”

Just as Namsaar said, there were many problems left to solve.

“The defeat of Avaritia, however, is one of the few great news as of late. I suppose we can turn a blind eye then.”

“That might be true. I shall take my leave, then. Lady Sherlene, please take care of your health.”

With an expression that suggested all but such sentiments, Namsaar left. Sherlene watched him go, then headed towards the troops’ barracks. She still had many missions of monster research and extermination to organize.

“Okay, time to work.”

Sherlene did not notice that her neck still showed faint traces of being choked. Nor that she lacked the memories about what happened before she regained consciousness.

Avaritia was not dead yet. The threat to the kingdom was approaching quickly.

 

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