“I have to hurry.”
After the guards and adventurers left, the High Elf looked at the walls and whispered to herself.
Overwhelmed by the monsters and magic spells, the guards had not realized that the High Elf was Schnee in disguise. Because of the disguise, she had chosen light equipment that was easy to move in.
Except for the one spot that had crumbled, the outer walls were untouched. It wasn’t clear how much they had been damaged by the aftershocks.
In order to prevent further damage to the walls, Schnee had first crushed the closest enemies with 【Thunder Split】 and 【Eis Ast】, then took care of the rest with 【Crimson Ray】.
If she started with【Crimson Ray】 , she would have dealt with them even faster, but the resulting explosions and flames risked damaging the walls even further.
“I better reinforce them to be safe.”
If the walls were left as is, they would invite invasions by other monsters. Schnee used Earth magic to form a net of tightly packed earth, then created a giant wall of ice to contain it.
Thanks to Schnee’s magic power, the resulting barrier was as sturdy as the walls. The ice would melt over time, but, as an emergency countermeasure, it was more than enough. Even if Schnee did not do anything more, it would last one full week.
“Were those all the monsters…?”
Schnee climbed on the outer walls and surveyed the forest where the monsters supposedly hid. Her detection range wasn’t as wide as Shin’s, but it was wide enough to cover her field of view. There were no movements similar to the one just before in the forest or other locations.
The monster presences were just in groups of two or three. Their directions and movements were all different, so they were likely unrelated to the invasion.
“Let’s take care of the monsters inside, then.”
She could go to the closest location, but instead peered at the map and the presences she had detected. Defeating monsters alone would not resolve the problem, so she first tried to find monsters that exhibited unique behavior or locations with abnormal concentrations of monsters.
If not defeating Avaritia meant that monsters would continue spawning, she just needed to keep going until Shin defeated it. But, if that was not the case, Schnee had to find the cause behind the monster’s appearance and deal with it.
A few minutes had passed when Schnee’s eyes focused on one point of the map. After the monsters moved away from a spot where they were looking for prey, it suddenly happened. In the now empty spot, new monsters suddenly appeared.
“I see, the monsters are being sent from somewhere. I guess they setup such points throughout the city.”
It was either a Tamer’s 【Summon Partner】 or a teleportation point. Schnee ran towards the spot where the monsters appeared, using the rooftops as platforms. She found monsters running wild with greater quantity near the spawning point.
“Out of the way.”
Schnee resolutely advanced through the monsters in the streets. With pale blue flames from 『Lazuli Flare』 in her left hand and blazing red flames from 『Scarlet Blaze』 in her right, Schnee let out fiery slashes that scarred the monsters before spreading to their whole body and burning them to cinders.
As if performing a beautiful ritual dance of slaughter, Schnee advanced while leaving mounds of ash in her wake. The monsters in town were low level and unarmed, so it was an inevitable result.
She could have used the roofs to proceed while ignoring the monsters, but she opted to use the ground route to help the citizens and adventurers in trouble. Crushing the main cause was the quickest way to solve the situation, but Schnee wasn’t so cold as to let people die in front of her.
Shin would do the same, she thought.
Schnee arrived at her destination and found a store like any other. The entrance, however, was destroyed and monsters prowled about. She quickly incinerated them and entered the store.
The main cause of the issues was likely to be found inside the destroyed store. What Schnee found, however, was slightly surprising.
The stockroom was about five mel wide. In front of the magic circle drawn on the floor, a wizard-looking silhouette was wielding a staff. Before Schnee’s eyes, the magic circle glowed and a monster appeared. Accompanied by a groan of pain from the man.
A strained voice escaped the man’s lips, his wand still in the air, the monster before him.
Schnee noticed that the man’s cheeks were emaciated, his skin ravaged, as if he was about to die. What hair remained was unnaturally white. He was just like a mummy wielding a wand.
All the signs indicated that the man had been subjected to powerful drain attacks.
Schnee realized the truth by looking at the man. During the 500 years she had spent waiting for Shin, she had seen many, many things, of which some were unspeakable horrors.
The perpetrators were sometimes people, sometimes monsters. What happened to the man was not too rare. He had been forced to summon monsters, effectively being used as a magic battery. This often happened when the culprit was a person.
Schnee silently wielded her 『Lazuli Flare』. A blue slash streaked through the air and severed the man’s neck. His corpse was engulfed in blue flames as it hit the ground, burning into ashes.
When the man died, the magic circle went silent. It was connected to his lifeforce, which was converted into magic power to feed the magic circle.
When Schnee found the man, his HP and magic were already zero. The only reason he was conscious was that he was kept alive to drain away his magic power. There was no way to save him, but it was possible to at least put him out of his misery by finishing him.
“Is this happening in the other locations too?”
Just in case, Schnee used the screenshot function Shin taught her and recorded the magic circle. If the same method was used elsewhere, the summoning would stop when the caster died. It was possible that, if enough time had passed, the summoning circles would become useless on their own.
Of course, there was no concrete proof. Some areas might have had different summoning methods, or the monsters summoned could constantly increase in power.
Schnee decided to disregard this option and crush all spawning locations. She checked her map again, narrowing down the options to stores or stockrooms large enough to house the magic circle.
“This is strange…”
The monster presences in the city.
She had not kept count of them, so she did not know at what pace they increased, but according to Schnee’s experience, magic circles allowed to summon one monster every few minutes. In one hour, that would amount to 20 or 30 monsters at most.
Only about 30 minutes had passed since the outer walls crumbled, yet, the monsters had increased at an extremely fast pace, which meant that there was a large number of magic circles.
However, Schnee felt something strange from the numbers of spawning locations, as well as the locations they were set up in.
In the beginning she only searched for location large enough to house the magic circle, so she hadn’t noticed, but she realized that monsters were appearing in very unusual places.
“There’s a spawning location in the middle of the street? The citizens or guards would definitely realize…”
The location was easy to find, but difficult to set up. As far as Schnee could tell, the magic circles were not concealed in any way.
“This presence…is moving despite there being no paths here…?”
Schnee spotted a few presences moving through walls in the shopping area. However, they were moving far too fast. It was like there were no obstacles in their way. Schnee then had a realization and modified the map to show a 3D display, showing the underground too.
“I see…the underground waterways.”
Even if they weren’t as developed as the former Sacred Places, cities that reached a certain size created underground waterways. They reached everywhere under the city, just like waterways of modern cities, and it was said that few people in the country knew about their total extension. That is where the magic circles were set up.
“This is not good.”
They were far too many for Schnee to crush by herself. Some of the presences were also moving beyond the internal walls, inside the royal palace.
The numbers were not on their side. Schnee was thinking of a countermeasure while going to the closest point, when she heard someone shouting her name.
It was Masakado, his loyal weapon at his side, with a group of adventurers in tow.
“I apologize to bother you when you’re in a hurry. Is there a way to solve this situation? We have been destroying all monsters we saw on our way here, but it doesn’t look like they’re decreasing at all.”
It was the first time they talked in a while, but Masakado skipped all preambles and went straight to the point. Schnee quickly reported her findings.
“Summoning using people as fuel, and the underground waterways…”
“There are many monster summoning magic circles above ground, but the numbers underground are considerable as well. Maybe the pace of the summoning will not increase over time, but considering who our opponent is, I doubt things will go over easily.”
“I’ve seen them too, they seem like a pretty nasty bunch.”
Masakado said that many witnessed the destruction of the walls. He himself never participated in a devil extermination mission, but he had seen what devils looked like from message boards related to the game. When he saw the monster destroying the wall, he remembered instantly.
“It might be dangerous, so I don’t like saying this, but we seriously need manpower. Rather than waiting for the summoners turned magic batteries to expire, we should defeat them in order to reduce potential casualties. If you have a map, I can show you the general locations. I need the cooperation of as many people as possible.”
“Roger! I’m sure I can help with that!”
Based on the monsters being summoned, simply putting the magic circles out of commission was possible even for those who weren’t Chosen Ones, so Masakado turned to the adventurers.
“You heard, right? We need numbers more than anything. If we subdue the places where the monsters are being summoned, the situation will improve significantly. We can’t let them do whatever they please like this! But if things turn sour, run!”
Masakado’s words were met by an energetic “Roger!!”.
It would be just as dangerous to fight the monsters prowling the city. All the adventurers present nodded without hesitation. Some of them ran to contact the guild and the guards.
Schnee wrote down the location of the magic circles on Masakado’s map, made copies with a skill and gave them to the other adventurers, who split in groups of three and scattered throughout the town.
“What will you do Masakado?”
“I’ll stay above ground and deal with the more difficult looking spots or areas with a higher density of monsters.”
“Understood. I will go underground. Just in case, take this.”
Schnee then gave a stack of cards to Masakado, potions especially made by Shin. They healed more than regular ones and acted instantly.
“Never let your guard down. Or Hilamee will be really sad.”
“Yes…I know. I am more worried about her though, since she is in the institute.”
Luxuria is in the institute: Avaritia was surely headed towards her.
“Shin is going to the institute as we speak. He also set up anti-devil traps, so I believe everything will be alright.”
“That’s true…okay, time to get busy!”
Masakado ran off towards the monsters with an expression full of confidence.
While he was worried, he didn’t let it show. He knew what he had to do.
“I can’t lose either, can I.”
Schnee also started moving right away. Her first destination was the entrance to the underground waterways. She had to exterminate the monsters, as soon as possible.