“What the heck was that?…”
When Shin breathed out a sigh of fatigue, he heard a *Ga-thunk* sound from the gate.
When he turned his gaze toward the sound, a heavy gate was slowly opening.
“Shin! Are you alright!?”
From the direction of the voice, Rionne was running from the side entrance.
It seemed like she managed to open the gate safely.
“I’m okay, Rionne. I defeated the Gryphon somehow. What was that?”
“Ah, I heard an explosive sound, so I thought you had used a trump card. I was thinking about trying to escape as soon as the Gryphon was temporarily incapacitated.”
The monsters in the Sacred Place didn’t go outside. She seemed to have intended to utilize that rule.
Since the Gryphon was an unknown monster, it may have chased them later on, but she judged that it was possible to push it back with 2 people. There was also a possibility that the Gryphon couldn’t pass through the slightly opened gate with its gigantic body.
“Because it’s you, Shin, although I also felt that you could defeat it…It seem I was right.”
“More than anything, I seem to be able to live up to expectations. Now, let’s hurry up before the gate closes.”
Shin urged Rionne and moved to the outside of the gate.
Thereupon, Shin and Rionne went outside and walked on the road a little, and exactly as Rionne said, the gate closed automatically. When Shin shifted his eyes toward the sky, the magic barrier which enveloped the Sacred Place also deactivated.
What had happened? Shin didn’t understand it.
However, he made up his mind to remember this event well, and looked back at Rionne. He smiled with an expression as gentle as possible. Because she may be worried if he still had a serious face.
“It was a successful escape.”
“Yeah, for the time being, rather than being inside, it should be much safer.”
While being cautious of the surroundings, the two people were still not as tense as they were inside Kalkia.
“Let’s run from here on out. Both of us are upper class Chosen Ones. Rather than looking for a village to procure a horse, running by ourselves is better and we can arrive faster.”
“Yeah, I have no objection. Balmel is at the eastside of the Melt Mountains, so if we run while making the mountains into landmarks, we should be fine.”
Balmel was a fort city that was built in order to respond when the monsters overflowed from Kalkia. It faced both the sea and mountains, and seemed to be a convenient place to live if only there was no mass monster outbreak.
Since there was also the promise with Schnee, he decided to go toward Balmel as Rionne said. They ran at a speed that would leave horses behind.
After 15 minutes of running while ignoring the monsters which were seen occasionally, Shin perceived an abnormal number of monsters’ presences in his sensing range.
“…Hey Rionne, is Balmel further ahead?”
“Yes, is there something wrong?”
“There is a large amount of monsters ahead, is that alright?”
Rionne, who heard the information which Shin perceived, made a stiffened expression all of a sudden.
“Don’t tell me, the ‘Flood’ is happening!?”
“Around the Sacred Place, the demon essence accumulates, which overflows from the Sacred Place. Though it doesn’t have influence on the human body, when the demon essence gathers to a certain amount, all of it manifests into monsters and is unleashed into the surroundings. We call that the ‘Flood’.”
Shin, by chance, had previously read about the description of the phenomenon in the library of Bayreuth.
In the content written in the book, it was a story of emergence of the low-level monsters. However no matter how much he looked, the number of monsters would cause numerous resources to be destroyed.
“If the end of the monster line is still here, the front may not arrive at Balmel immediately. I’ll overtake it and support Balmel.”
“Roger. As expected, in this situation, you won’t just leave them alone, Shin.”
A commoner would have simply run away, but unfortunately, these two people were far from commoners.
Balmel wouldn’t fall easily; there would be enough countermeasures as it was the only purpose of the town. However the scale of the ‘Flood’ was not fixed, ‘there’s no knowing what may happen’, was also written.
It was not a thing he could ignore when he heard about it; that’s the character of the man called Shin.
“It seems going home will take longer.”
The running Rionne, who took a detour to chase after the group of monsters, Shin also raised his pace of running.
After a little while, a huge group of monsters were confirmed by sight.
In every ‘Flood’, there seemed to be a trend in the emerging monsters. This time it was humanoid monsters, such as goblins and orcs that became the majority.
Was it a blessing of God? Compared to the high physical ability beast type and the tirelessly golem type, their pace was considerably slow. However, the large crowd of monsters was certainly headed to Balmel.
“Hmm? Hey Rionne, there’s smoke rising over there, do you know what it is?”
At the right front of the running Shin, a big cloud of smoke that appeared suddenly was visible.
When he listened carefully, explosive sounds were audible, too. Apparently, there was something going on in the vicinity of the boundary between the forest in the plain and the Melt Mountains.
“Perhaps, the Mist Garuda have descended the mountains. Melt Mountains is in the territory of the Mist Garuda after all. When the monsters that were born, in the ‘Flood’, were about to enter the mountains, I heard they were reduced to ashes. That’s why the monsters have no choice but to advance toward Balmel.”
The Mist Garuda may not have had the intention, but they seemed to have become the figure that guided the monsters toward Balmel in a good way.
On top of that, since it killed the monsters which trespassed on the mountains, it had reduced the numbers that reached Balmel. Therefore, it was said that the act of trying to hunt the Mist Garuda in Melt Mountains was prohibited in a treaty. Because it reduced the damage of the ‘Flood’, it was outrageous to fight against each other.
“That’s the Mist Garuda, huh?”
A big shadow flying in the sky was reflected in Shin’s eyes as he ran while watching the mountains.
The Mist Garuda was flying leisurely while leaving an arc like a vapour trail. The mist was shaped like a bird, as shown in its name, and its level was high, ranged between 700 – 800. It had a lot of special attacks, and was a very powerful monster.
“Oh, that is..”
From the Mist Garuda which was dancing in the sky, a red mist was sprayed.
The goblins and ogres started to roll over with their whole bodies covered in flames the moment the mist touched them.
It was one of the special attacks of the Mist Garuda, ‘Fog of Flare’.
If you didn’t have resistance to a certain level of flame attribute, you could receive an abnormal status where your HP decreased by 10% per second and die in 10 seconds. It was even said that the setting in the game may be wrong, as it was the fog of death that burnt many players to death, although it was the monsters being roasted this time.
“Anyway, why is it that the monsters still go in even though they know they are going to be burned?”
Shin thought of such things, looking at the monsters which kept on diving into their own death.
“The monsters that emerge from the ‘Flood’ tend to have significantly lower intelligence. That’s why they charge until the last one standing.”
Indeed. The monsters which were born from the ‘Flood’, seemed to be different from ordinary monsters.
While wishing that the Mist Garuda burned the monsters as much as possible, Shin and Rionne decided to leave from that place.
Shin and Rionne ran on the plain as they overtook the group of monsters which were previously ahead of them and became a black wave.
The map which was projected onto Shin’s view when he passed the group of monsters, displayed only a bright red marker without any gap where the monsters were. It was too crowded, and the distinction of the individual was difficult, too.
“Is it always such a large crowd?”
“Maybe. I think there are various kinds of scales in the ‘Flood’, but I don’t remember it. The number of monsters were a bit more than when I participated in the battle once. It would be nice if there were fewer to be considered…”
Rionne probed into her memories while remembering the scene from that time.
What Rionne talked about for a while was the story where she merely drove a sword into the emerged monsters, and repeatedly killed them. This ‘Flood’ felt larger in scale than the one at that time, Rionne added at the end.
Even if Rionne knew strong soldiers were there to protect Balmel, her feet naturally increased the speed.
“I understand your feelings, but you’re pushing too much, Rionne.”
Seeing Rionne who had shortness of breath, Shin called for a break.
No matter how much an upper class Chosen One Rionne was, her stamina was not unlimited. Before arriving at Balmel, there’s no meaning if she got completely exhausted and couldn’t move.
“Let’s take a break for a moment on top of that hill. We already passed the leading group of the monster too. Rest for a little bit.”
“But! …Well, sorry, you’re right, Shin.”
Rionne was probably trying to say that she still can go on, but she noticed her own state as well.
If this goes on as it is, she would run out of energy in the middle of the way. Since they kept running at a high speed, the monsters’ group was already quite far behind. Even if Shin and Rionne arrived at Balmel, several days could be expected to pass before the monsters reached them.
Considering their pace, it was reasonable to rest here, because there was still a distance to cover to get to Balmel.
“It’s called a fort city so haven’t they already repelled the enemy many times over?”
While they were on break, Shin asked about Balmel.
If it’s a city built for ‘Flood’ control, a military unit with reasonable equipment should exist.
“It is indeed, but it won’t finish without a small number of sacrifices. Moreover now, among 3 upper class Chosen Ones who should protect Balmel, one is absent.”
“Is it okay to be absent as the main part of defense?”
“It seemed there was something at the church, that he had to guard a certain person. Geez, what is the church thinking about?”
Rionne frowned as she couldn’t understand it.
The fort city according to Rionne, apart from being the ‘Flood’ breakwater, had received a dispatched upper-class Chosen Ones from the church and the neighboring countries. Because the fort city was inferior in terms of numbers, it was a strategy to compensate with quality.
However this time, since the church had stimulated a talk about pulling out a Chosen One at their own discretion, objections flooded from various countries.
(The church, huh?…Is it by any chance, that guy?)
Hearing “Church” and “A certain person”, a figure of a knight who damaged his wagon during the journey to Falnido came to Shin’s mind.
In this world, it was quite common that the actual status differ from the height of a level. However, a high-leveled person was still limited. The knights at that time, especially the man who destroyed the wheels of the wagon was level 239. It was higher than the present Rionne.
It was no more than a possible story, but if it’s the truth, it would be necessary to add restraints to the priest who threatened the knights.
“What about the other two? Will they be able to pull through somehow?”
“The combination is not bad. The other two are a magic swordsman like me and a mage. If they cooperate with the high-leveled adventurers who are in Balmel, they would never lose as long as there is no accident. The problem is the number of victims.”
“How far could the enemy be reduced by magic skills of the mage, was the key”, Rionne murmured, and drank water.
Even though how much the mage was called a Chosen One, a skill couldn’t be released forever.
Though it depended on ability and skill, there was also a limit in range a person could cover.
“How is the fighting force of Balmel? There are Chosen Ones from the adventurers’ guild, right?”
“Indeed apart from the dispatched people, there are powerful people who are close to upper-class Chosen Ones. But most of them are melee type. Only few people can attack a wide area.”
It was alright if the monsters were in small number, but when it came to several hundreds of thousands, defeat would happen in the long run. Since the monsters appearing in the ‘Flood’ were low-level, even a general soldier could help to keep them occupied.
Though the course to go over there was changed, Shin decided to contact Schnee just in case.
(“This is Shin, is it alright to talk now?”)
(“Yes, did something happen?”)
After making sure there was no problem to communicate, Shin told about the ‘Flood’ things to Schnee.
(“I can’t say anything about the scale unless I see them myself. It it’s the normal scale, we don’t have to worry about Balmel at least.”)
Schnee judged calmly after she listened to Shin’s story.
However, there was an irregular this time.
(“Have you taken that 1 Chosen One’s absence into account?”)
(“If the Chosen One who is not there is not a mage, it would be all right. Since the monster itself can be dealt with just Balmel’s forces.”)
“Although I have not considered the victims”, Schnee continued.
(“I got it. I’m going to rush up to Balmel from here, you should hurry as much as possible there, too.”)
With Schnee there, it should not be a problem without the Chosen One and so forth.
Though Tiera was not able to move so quickly, she would not be late if Kagerou’s with her.
“…Now then, we’ve had enough rest. Let’s move soon, Shin.”
Thanks to having rested for a while, Rionne seemed to have recovered, as she stood up swiftly.
The talk with Schnee had just ended too, so Shin also stood up at the same time.
“Okay, but I’ll carry that.”
Saying so, Shin carried 『Muspelm』 which was placed on the ground to his back.
It wasn’t much burden to Shin due to the height of his physical strength, he determined that it would be hard for Rionne to carry it and run for a long time.
“Mu! I can carry my own weapon――”
“Rather than fussing over that now, it’s more important to move quickly. You were worn out halfway, you know?”
“Ugh, when that’s said, I cannot talk back…”
Since that was the reason they took a break, Rionne couldn’t argue.
The top priority here was to proceed ahead, and the 『Muspelm』was entrusted to Shin.
“Why are you groaning?”
“We have to hurry up, must to but…damn, I’m ashamed to be tired out at this amount.”
“You unexpectedly hate to lose, huh”
Although they were talking, their running speed has not dropped.
Rionne’s burden of 『Muspelm』 has diminished a lot, she could afford to talk as a result.
They kept running most of the day, and finished preparation for camping before the sun set.
As one would expect, to keep running for days without sleeping was difficult no matter how much the stamina, so they decided to get enough sleep in a simple tent they set together and stood watch in turn.
After finishing a quick meal, and Shin cleaning up, Rionne began to speak. She casually approached Shin and sent a flirtatious glance.
“You really have a lot of stuff that comes up. Even if I am prepared, isn’t this thoroughly prepared?”
“I was prepared for a journey to begin with. Because I was summoned there, these are the only things I have. Once you convert them into cards, it’s not very bulky.”
“It’s because you can use item cards, huh? I wish my country had a person with that ability.”
In the story Shin asked Wilhelm, there should be a possibility that Rionne and other countries’ Chosen Ones possessed an Item Box if they had items.
“I will not talk about cooperation.”
Shin didn’t know the detailed information, and either way he wouldn’t do it.
“No matter what?”
“Never. Hey! don’t come closer!”
He distanced himself from the leaning forward Rionne who approached him.
Around the area that emphasized her chest, ‘She’s actually aware of her own charm, isn’t she?’, Shin thought. How have the princess’ manners and so forth fallen? He wanted to ask.
In the darkness of night, Rionne who was illuminated by the bonfire, the lively state she had during the day quieted down, and wore an atmosphere that seemed to be slightly strange.
“For you to be somewhat flustered, is this body even attractive?”
“It’s not that I understand what you have been doing. I mean I should say, is this the kind of thing you should be doing in this situation?”
“I thought you’d say ‘It’s useless to even be flustered’, Shin! If that’s the case, I’ll make good use of the time when I don’t have anything to do.”
“Where’s the effective use of time? Where?”
“It’s time effective at least for me. In this way, I can speak to you without reserve.”
While smiling somewhat lonely, Rionne corrected her sitting posture.
“Without reserve, huh? Rionne, well, there will be such a partner, like when you talked with Gadras, I think that was pretty frank though.”
“Gadras is my sword’s mentor. I’m more comfortable with him than other people. Although, there is still something like a wall to royal family. In that respect, you really have no constraint, Shin.”
“That, in other words, am I just being rude?”
“Sometimes I also want to talk with such a partner, who humbles himself all the time, but it doesn’t suit me personally; although I’m accustomed to such things.”
Rionne often went out to towns, but due to bad publicity, even the adventurers who wasn’t particular much about social status seemed to humble themselves.
“How about your family? Ah well, you don’t have to say it if you don’t want to. There seems to be a lot of discord in some places.”
“It’s not the things I conceal particularly. You’re right, our family’s interpersonal connections had…been long gone. Although we’re not on a bad terms, I don’t know whether I want a substitute family.”
“It’s that kind of royal family, huh? Well, in case you need someone to talk, I’ll be your companion. ――Hey! Why are you getting clingy!”
“Sometimes even a princess will want to depend on someone. You may hear my selfishness a little while hearing my story.”
‘Was she teasing me?’, Shin thought, but Rionne never did anything more than cling to Shin’s arm.
“I can’t show this to the people in the castle.”
“Nobody is around. It’s been a long time not being monitored everywhere other than in the battlefield.”
“Good grief, this princess…only this time.”
After a sigh, Shin tossed a branch to the bonfire with his free arm.
It was easy to pull away if he intended to. However, the unhappy speech he listened to was making his intention fade away.
A family was something very important to Shin. Though before the death game, his parents were in good health, and his relationships with his elder brother and younger sister were also good. It was noisy fun, and the place where he should have returned. As he thought to himself, he couldn’t help but to feel something in Rionne’s circumstances.
The serene expression of Rionne relieving her burden, Shin would like to see it a little longer. Speaking furthermore, there was none of the monitoring that Rionne spoke of. It meant that Rionne was constantly monitored.
‘You probably have time to relax now’, Shin thought.
“Shin, you’re warm.”
“Is it cold?”
“I don’t mean that.”
‘I know’, he muttered in his mind, and threw another branch on the fire.
*Pop* sounds and the noise of branches split open were heard. Shin was not that thickheaded to be mistaken on the meaning of this situation.
Was this the original Rionne? Shin couldn’t arrive to a conclusion. Where was her usual spirited mood?
“Sleep soon, we will keep on running tomorrow. Don’t reserve the fatigue.”
“Muu, it can’t be helped. Or I have to wait for the next opportunity?”
“Vacate such thinking until we pull completely through the ‘Flood’.”
Shin, who took out a mantle, wrapped up Rionne, and warned her for formality’s sake.
Rionne probably would understand that. Somehow, she took a rest well.
The transition to Sacred Place, the defeat against monsters, and the impatience due to the ‘Flood’. When such various factors were put together, the manner until now was expressed, Shin thought.
The deep darkness of the moonless night.
Groups of monsters from behind.
What can be relied upon by fellow travellers, was only a small bonfire.
Regardless of the strength of capabilities, it was no wonder that a feeling to seek one who can be relied upon was sought, Shin thought.
Speaking of why he understood it, it was because Shin had experienced similar things.
Shin and Rionne, Schnee and Tiera, Yuzuha and Kagerou were heading toward Balmel.
A great army of monsters exceeding 1000, approaching moment by moment.
In order to fight against the looming threat, everyone would meet at Balmel.