“Will Shin and the others be alright?”
After Shin’s party left, Lilishila’s group was waiting in her room.
In the current situation, even if they acted, they wouldn’t accomplish much. As it was unthinkable that only Eline was under Bulk’s command, acting carelessly would have been dangerous.
Waiting without doing anything, though, was painful not only for Lilishila, but also for the knights at her side.
“Shin and Yuki will not have any trouble even if they face Eline head on. What we should worry about is the movements of the enemy’s other troops.”
Casting Lilishila’s worries aside, Shibaid leant against the wall of the corridor leading to the entrance. His words were filled with the absolute trust he felt towards Shin.
Not knowing that Shin was a High Human, Lilishila’s group was probably worried at the thought of a head-on battle against Eline. Eline’s fighting ability was just that great.
“Well then, it appears it is time for us to move too.”
Less than an hour since Shin’s party left, Shibaid spoke while staring at one point in the room.
“There’s a group of people walking in this direction. Judging from the fact that they are not hiding their hostile intentions, they must be Bulk’s lackeys.”
Shibaid’s words made Lilishila feel more anxious.
On her side there were 4 people, Shibaid included. Even if they were all competent fighters, depending on the enemy numbers, they might be at an overwhelming disadvantage.
Shibaid’s party left the room, thinking it would be dangerous to fight inside. As they got out, there was a group of people heading towards them.
Leading the group was none other than Bulk himself.
“Oh my, where are we going now?”
“Nowhere that may concern you, Father Bulk.”
“My apologies, but I do have business with Lady Lilishila. If you would kindly accompany me, I am sure Her Highness the Holy Woman would be pleased as well. ”
The sly grin formed by Bulk’s lips made Lilishila feel goosebumps.
If it was possible, she would have crushed him to the ground, then and there. Her clenched fist and teeth expressed that wish very clearly to anyone who would look at her.
Someone then put a hand on Lilishila’s shoulder.
“Lady Lilishila, it appears you do not need to accompany this charming fellow anywhere anymore.”
“But…could it be that…!!”
Lilishila, who had understood the meaning implied by Shibaid’s words, completely changed her expression.
“Yes, I just received contact from Yuki. They are heading here as we speak.”
Shibaid nodded strongly, and not only Lilishila but also the knights erupted in cheers. At the same time, their hostility flowed freely to the group blocking their way.
“W-what’s with those looks? Have you forgotten what it means to defy me!?”
“How could I forget. Or rather, it’s impossible for me to forget.”
Lilishila could not contain a chuckle, as her body was wrapped in highly dense magic power.
Bulk, feeling the danger emanating from Lilishila’s clear intentions of attacking, drew his weapon and stepped forward.
Those behind him also took out their weapons.
“Ko, Konig! Protect me!! You all too, step forward!!!”
“Konig? It can’t be, you too…?”
Looking at the knights before her, Lilishila too said that name, with surprise in her voice.
Konig was a knight that was dispatched to Balmel, and by that logic, he was not supposed to be here at Palmirack.
“Lady Lilishila…I apologize..”
“Do not apologize. I am aware of the circumstances.”
Konig, who had stepped forward as well, showed eyes clearly filled with regret.
His struggle to stop the body that was moving against his will was palpable to Lilishila, who was also well versed in the ways of fighting.
His regret was felt by the people opposing him, as if it was their own.
“Flee, I beg of you…! Or I will cut you down…!”
Konig’s arms slowly reached the blade at his waist. The brilliantly decorated weapon was the legend-class magical sword 『Haufer』.
『Haufer』, unsheathed with a brilliant sound of metal, sparkled with an almost transparent silver gleam, in utter contrast with its owner’s will.
“Is that a real magical blade?”
As he drew the magical blade, an overwhelming pressure emanated from Konig’s body, as if to crush his opponents. Despite his manipulated state, his strength did not waver an inch.
Lilishila’s party, who was prepared to fight, could not help stiffening before Konig’s presence.
“Ha-hahaha. What happened to all your confidence and boasting?”
Noticing Lilishila’s party’s hesitation, Bulk had regained his composure and was now jeering at them, standing right behind Konig.
None of them, however, had lost to Konig’s aura of pressure.
“Well then, I suppose we should start by stopping this man.”
These nonchalant words were spoken by Shibaid.
His equipment was the same as when he joined with Shin’s party, light gear covering only part of his body.
The only difference was the silver-colored gauntlet he was now wearing. Lines of black mixed with silver grain covered the whole item.
Shibaid had materialized one of his original pieces of equipment.
“Hmph. Konig is one of the most capable upper class chosen ones. If I were you, I would not boast so quickly.”
Bulk, enjoying the view of Lilishila’s party being pressured by Konig, bit back at Shibaid.
To Bulk, it looked like Shibaid was just bluffing.
“You petty scum…do not think that you have angered only Lady Lilishila.”
As Shibaid uttered those words, the pressure bearing on Lilishila’s party suddenly vanished.
Immediately after that, as if the pressure had simply changed targets, the knights standing before Bulk kneeled to the ground.
They looked as if an unseen giant was pushing on them with all its weight.
The sight of his knights groveling had shaken Bulk, who too was forced on his knees slightly later.
A pressure so strong, trained knights succumbed to it: it was impossible for Bulk to resist. He cried, lying on the ground like a flattened frog.
Originally, techniques that pressure the opponent with one’s aura or spirit did not have the effect of pushing the opponent down physically. The pressure was felt simply on an emotional level.
However, in Shibaid’s case it was slightly different.
“I have heard of all your despicable acts. You will not escape me.”
Shibaid’s deeply resonating voice shook Bulk’s eardrums. As if responding to his anger, the pressure emanating from Shibaid grew even more intense.
At the same time, the floor around Shibaid started cracking.
Shibaid’s main job is Holy Knight. Its role is to be an iron wall, a shield to repel enemy attacks.
If we were to compare skills that attracts the enemy’s attention and pressure enemies into submission. Shibaid boasts the best aptitude among all the support characters.
Against enemies with great difference in abilities, it even manages to pressure them physically.
“The church headquarters…is vibrating…?”
Konig, the only one of Bulk’s entourage still on his feet, looked at Shibaid with disbelief in his eyes.
Konig felt that Palmirack itself was resonating with Shibaid’s anger.
“I know you are being controlled, Sir Konig. As I have no way to break that collar, I will have to be somewhat rough…I trust you will understand.”
“…I would rather be killed than for my blade to slay those without sin”.
“Your spirit is truly commendable.”
Shibaid’s words provoked an explosive acceleration in Konig’s movements. The afterglow following his blade swings painted streaks of light in the air.
As a weapon worthy of its “Legendary” grade, 『Haufer』 sliced through the air with little resistance, aiming at Shibaid’s neck.
It all happened in an instant.
Being controlled allowed Konig to perform a movement he would normally find difficult, a swing at his maximum speed.
The blade, however, was stopped right before meeting its target, by a silver gauntlet.
A sharp metallic sound. It was 『Haufer』’s cry after grinding against the gauntlet.
The shock of the impact and the difference in quality between the two weapons resulted in only 『Haufer』 to be damaged.
A result which left Konig wide-eyed and speechless.
Immediately after that, the gauntlet, which had stopped 『Haufer』, vanished in thin air, together with Shibaid himself.
“…..Go to sleep.”
The instant those words reached Konig’s ears, he was already drawing his blade…only to be hit vertically into the air.
Where Konig was standing just before, now stood Shibaid, his fist raised in the air. The armor which saved Konig’s life so many times on the battlefield now bore a deep dent in the shape of Shibaid’s fist.
Konig, blown in midair by Shibaid, crashed against the ceiling with roughly the same speed as he had stepped in to swing his blade.
A counter performed after blocking the opponent’s attack.
That single blow was enough for Konig’s body not to follow its master’s will anymore.
Yet the emotion filling Konig’s chest was not surprise.
Towards the existence of an overwhelmingly powerful warrior, capable of dealing with upper class chosen ones with ease, who did not accept or forgive evil.
Towards the fact that a person like that appeared before him.
After uttering these words, Konig lost consciousness.
“If you lose consciousness, you cannot move even under manipulation, is that it?”
Shibaid went closer to Konig’s body and confirmed that all strength had left it.
As he did not know how the control worked, Shibaid put restrains on him to be sure.
“I cahn’t, beliive it…”
Watching Konig be defeated so easily left Bulk flabbergasted.
The other knights too seemed to grasp just how dangerous an enemy Shibaid was, and they were desperately trying to crawl away to safety.
“Lady Lilishila, could I ask for your help in restraining them?”
Shibaid captured the higher-leveled knights, while Lilishila took care of the rest. Bulk tried to flee too, but he was obviously captured as well.
“H-how dare you treat me like this!!”
“Your subordinate in the other room has been defeated already, did you know?”
Bulk was cut off as he was trying to talk. Shibaid informed him about Eline’s capture and Hermie and Millie’s rescue.
Bulk’s expression was one of utter shock. Considering that Lilishila’s party turned against him, he realized that Shibaid must have been speaking the truth.
They did not need to endure humiliation to protect the controlled ones any more.
There wasn’t a reason anymore not to oppose him directly.
“You have done as you pleased more than enough…”
Probably because of the anger within her, a heat haze was surrounding Lilishila as she walked towards Bulk.
Her beautiful features hid a strong aura projecting a “I will beat you till you’re an inch away from death!!” vibe, was abundantly clear to anyone who would look at her.
Her pressure was so fierce that even the valiant knights present stepped back.
“I-I don’t deserve to die in a place like this!! Teleport!!!”
Under the weight of Lilishila’s pressure, Bulk frantically chanted the keyword.
It was the same teleport crystal stone that Shin had used before.
Bulk disappeared before Lilishila could prevent it. It was as if he never was there in the first place.
“Kh…! To think that he had a teleport crystal stone that was supposed to be lost…!”
Lilishila’s expression was distorted by regret. The other knights too were left stupefied by Bulk’s sudden disappearance.
Differently from Lilishila, however, Shibaid showed no sign of apprehension.
“Do not fret, Lady Lilishila. Bulk hasn’t escaped us yet.”
“But he already completely disappeared…”
“This building is the High Human’s – Cain’s – base. A crystal with such low purity can’t teleport outside its walls.”
“I-is that really true?”
“I have lived my share, you see. I have had the chance to learn about this Palmirack from High Elves and High Lords. He is likely regretting trying to escape right now.”
Shibaid nodded with confidence, which let Lilishila feel at ease.
Some time later Lilishila, who had reunited with Hermie’s party, felt as if something akin to Bulk’s screams reached her ears.
“Subduing Lilishila’s party while the main force is headed to the Holy Woman. That much is easy to predict. Thus we only needed to set a fitting opponent in wait for them.”
“Ridiculous…Konig will be accompanied by other upper class chosen ones! No matter how strong your comrades might be, they too surely have their limits!”
Konig, a warrior close to Eline in ability, was heading to Lilishila’s location. Shin did not know Konig very well, but he was not worried in the slightest about the possibility of Shibaid’s defeat.
“If that Konig is close to you in terms of strength, as you say, then it will be child’s play.”
Even if there was another chosen one on the same level as Eline, Shibaid would not have trouble defeating him. It was a definite fact.
Shin spared no expense to reinforce his support characters, his companions were not to be trifled with.
“Well then, now that you know that there is no way left to stop us, let us talk about what to do with you.”
Shin walked closer to Eline, slowly. The latter, remembering the punishment he had just received, let out a cry and tried to flee.
No matter how much of an upper class Chosen One he was, not enough time had passed for him to recover. The type of movement available to him was on all fours at most.
Maybe because all he had in mind was to run away as fast as possible, Eline crawled away with a speed Shin and Wilhelm did not expect. He could not truly escape, obviously. Shin gradually closed in on the distance between them.
“S-shit!! Why am I…why is this happening to a chosen existence such as I..!!!”
As if he failed to grasp his current situation, Eline was muttering senseless words.
Eline had advanced for several mel when it happened.
His body started convulsing wildly, with jerky movements like a puppet with unoiled joints.
“What’s going on?”
Shin was puzzled at Eline’s sudden strange movements.
Eline screamed out of the blue.
Perhaps he had been hiding something in card form, Eline was holding a short sword with a black blade in his hand. After that, right before Shin and Wilhelm’s eyes, Eline stabbed himself with that same blade.
The sudden insane act stopped both Shin and Wilhelm in their tracks for an instant.
The moment the blade penetrated Eline’s body, his HP gauge, as it appeared in Shin’s eyes, instantly dropped to 0.
Eline whispered something, spat blood and dropped to the ground. A mixture of fear and confusion remained on his face.
“Give me…a break…suicide all of a sudden? Is this a sick joke?”
Unable to understand what had happened, Shin grimaced at the blood flowing from Eline.
“We don’t know for sure. That bastard sure didn’t look like someone who was thinking of offing himself.”
It was clear that it had not happened because of Eline’s will. His movements, as if under someone’s control, led Shin to think of a certain item.
Shin drew closer to Eline and examined his neck, arms, legs. However, not a single submission item similar to Millie’s could be seen.
“So, he wasn’t controlled via an item?”
“Looks like it. Did he have any abnormal statuses?”
“No, it didn’t look like he was affected by anything…”
Shin checked Eline’s general status display, but found no trace of status abnormalities.
He wasn’t controlled by an item, nor under the effect of confusion or brainwashing. It was a very odd situation.
(Could it be something I’m not aware of? Or is there something I missed…?)
As the game turned into reality, it was highly possible that something not existing before now did. However, it could simply be that Shin had forgotten about it.
Even a long-time player like Shin could not remember all events and in such detail.
“I can’t think of anything related, but it’s probably better to check with Schnee too.”
“Well, it could be something I forgot about.”
As Shin mentioned that Schnee and the others might know something about it, Wilhelm nodded in approval.
“It’s surprising that there are things that even you don‘t know. Anyway, he was raised by Bulk since he was a child. The Summit Faction likely did something to him, not that I pity him though.”
Rather than an item, he could have been under the effect of magic. If that was true, that could perhaps also explain his contorted personality.
Wilhelm, having heard of Eline’s feats from Jai, did not have any compassion to spare.
Memory manipulation by an item could delete memories but it could not affect the person’s personality. And Eline who actually used this type of item, said as such.
Even after such a death, it was clear that he wasn’t worthy of pity.
“We got the information, but I can’t call this a pleasant way to close the curtains.”
“I feel the same. The body…I suppose we can leave it here.”
This room too was inside Palmirack.
As with the chosen one who exploded, after some time passed the corpse would be dispersed.
The two removed all of Eline’s equipment and items, searching for what could have been manipulating him. Not even Shin knew of a way to preserve corpses, thus they left it to be dispersed.
As Shin left the room with Wilhelm, a Mind Chat from Shibaid reached him.
“(Shin, we have subdued Bulk’s subordinates who attacked us.)”
“(They came to you then, as expected. What happened to Bulk?)”
“(He ran away with a teleport crystal stone. However, the crystal seemed to be quite low in purity. He should have fallen in the maze section.)”
“(Please give me a second…yes, I found him. Leave the rest to me.)”
Shin, who had activated Palmirack, could use part of its functions even without the control console.
He used the search function he had previously used to find Wilhelm and confirmed that Bulk was moving within Palmirack.
Even a teleport crystal stone of the highest purity would not allow instant escape if used inside Palmirack.
Even Shibaid, whose fighting-oriented job did not grant especially high appraisal ability, understood that the crystal stone used by Bulk was a low purity one. Such a crystal stone would not allow the user to flee, but instead would transport him directly to the maze section, built for intruders.
As he closed the Mind Chat with Shibaid, Shin called to Wilhelm, who was walking ahead.
“Listen, Wilhelm. It looks like Bulk ran away. I’m going to go catch him, so go ahead and join the others.”
“He ran away? You don’t need any help?”
“I already know where he is, so no problem. He can’t get out, or rather, he ended up in the maze section we used for training. If we leave him there, he’s going to die. We have information to extract from him too, so I’m going to secure him.”
“Looks like his luck finally ran out, eh? I’m going ahead then. Make sure you give him a good scare.”
Wilhelm, with an evil grin, walked on through the corridor.
After seeing him off, Shin used Teleport.
“Aaaahh!! Eeeekk!! What, what’s going ooon!”
Forcing his pudgy body to an awkward run, Bulk cursed his fate.
Bulk, church priest and central member in the Summit Faction at the same time. After gaining a pawn such as Eline, he had stained his hands in all sorts of evil deeds.
Drunken by the vision of attaining High Human status, he had slain not only monsters but also other humans.
He was responsible for the death of many humans with special abilities, offering them in ritual sacrifice.
After gaining control of the Holy Woman and the knight guarding her, thanks to an item obtained by chance, he even managed to control a girl with the “Star Reader” title. In that moment, he thought that the whole world was moving to help him become a High Human.
“Shit!! Someone of my caliber is not supposed to end in a place like this…..! Bwah!”
Bulk was running frantically, but finally his unhealthy lifestyle caught up and his feet tripped each other up. He fell to the ground and, unable to break the fall, was struck badly all over his body.
“Gaah! Where is this place supposed to be anyway! I used the teleport crystal, so why am I not outside!?”
Bulk flew in a fit of anger while squirming because of the pain.
He was supposed to have been transported outside Palmirack, but he found himself inside a dark cavern instead. The unexpected situation was already pushing Bulk’s frail mind fortitude to its limits.
What eroded Bulk’s spirit the most was the roaring cry which would sometimes resonate in the cavern. The cry, clearly coming from a monster, was coming closer and closer to Bulk’s position.
He could not see where the corridor lead, no exit was in sight, nor were any of his guards escorting him.
The increasingly louder roar was shaking Bulk to his core.
A hand touched Bulk’s shoulder as he was about to run again. As Bulk turned around, his field of vision was filled with the figure of a man emerging from the darkness.
This new surprise caused the already tense Bulk to utter an incomprehensible scream: “KWESDRFIGYYFIJIKIIII!!”
“Fijiki” is the only thing I could make out from that.”
Bulk had jumped up, crashed back down, and was now looking up at the face of the young man who talked to him.
“W-what in blazes is going on!! But no matter! You, take me out of here! Now! I am a church priest, you shall be amply rewarded.”
Bulk, in a state of confusion because of the extreme situation, barked his orders without confirming the young man’s identity.
To such a Bulk, the young man talked with a smile and a menacing tone.
“Hahaha. Your face is the only joke we need here, pig bastard.”
“W-what did you say? I’m a priest of the church, I said!!”
The young man walked closer to Bulk while cracking his knuckles. The closer he came, the farther Bulk crawled.
In that moment, Bulk finally understood that the young man had clearly hostile intentions.
But it was far too late.
“I have a bunch of things to ask you. You better answer if you want to stay in one piece.”
Eyes lit up in the dim darkness.
A completely artificial smile.
Hostility so palpable that his instinct was screaming to run away.
It was the manifestation of fear, a terror the likes of Bulk had never experienced before.
Bulk had no room to crawl backwards anymore, and part of his clothes had started to become slightly damp. A faint scent of ammonia pricked the two men’s noses.
“Let’s start talking.”
Bulk’s screams resounded through the barely lit corridors.
Lilishila’s party had reunited with Hermie and Millie, led by Schnee, and was in a joyous mood.
Lilishila shed tears of happiness at the sight of Hermie’s neck, finally free of the black collar; seeing her in tears made Hermie cry as well.
The knight cheered loudly, confident in Bulk’s downfall.
As Wilhelm arrived, Millie, who had been eagerly awaiting him, ran up to hug him.
“Oh, nice cheery mood here folks.”
“Here you are. Hey, it’s still alive right?”
“He’s not dead yet, nope. I doubt he’ll be able to continue being a priest though.”
Wilhelm sighed while talking to Shin, who had joined them with some delay. Millie was still stuck to him and wouldn’t let go.
The reason was an unconscious Bulk, carried by Shin’s left arm.
Seeing the priest with white eyes, drooling and sometimes trembling would have provoked the same question not only from Wilhelm but from anyone who witnessed it.
“Shin-sama? What did you….”
“I just squeezed information out of him. I’ll let the church decide what to do with him next.”
Shin handed Bulk over to the guard knights and opened a Mind Chat with Schnee and Shibaid.
“(According to Bulk, there’s a high chance that Filma was captured by the Summit Faction. It looks like 『Exvaine』 was given to him by someone claiming to be from the Faction.)”
The two’s eyes narrowed after hearing Shin’s information. They could not remain indifferent after hearing that a comrade might have been captured.
“(Is there no information about the ritual site?)”
“(Someone was supposed to come pick him up. I know the date, but who knows what this messenger will do.)”
“(Any other clue?)”
“(Nothing. I had the impression that he doesn’t know anything either. Looks like they deleted the important parts of his memories.)”
Making Bulk sleep and using an item like the manipulation collar on him wouldn’t have been difficult. Lilishila’s method too would allow a similar result, if used with ill intentions.
“(Mind type skills are a real pain.)”
Right next to the rejoicing Lilishila group party, Shin’s could not feel at ease.
After Shin and Wilhelm left, something started moving in the room where Hermie had been captured.
The figure awkwardly standing up was none other than the man who was supposed to have died on the spot after piercing his own chest, Eline.
“Kaah, he’s finally dead!”
Eline’s smile was even more distorted than before. More than half of his face was covered with a tattoo of thorns.
“This guy’s contortion was of decent quality, but it was pretty obnoxious.”
Eline talked as if concerning someone else. To a third party’s eyes, he would look like he had become someone else.
“Aaaah, having a body is really fantastic after all. Better not waste any more time here though, let’s hightail it before that monster notices us.”
The words coming from his mouth clearly showed how the spirit inhabiting the body was no longer Eline.
Something was controlling Eline’s body. With a small chuckle, Eline’s body vanished into the darkness as if melting in it.
Nothing else was left.
Tiera, who was heading to the inn after parting ways with Shin, was suspicious of the lack of any pursuers. She tried asking Kagerou and Yuzuha, but apparently there were no hostile presences in the surroundings.
Tiera too was worried about Millie, but she knew well that with Shin’s party heading to rescue her, there was nothing for her to do.
Tiera climbed onto the inn’s roof and stood gazing at Palmirack. She let slip a small grumble.
“They told me to stand guard from outside, but I can’t see anything. Someone that could slip away from Shin and the others…who could ever do something like that?”
She ended up wondering if she was really being of help to them.
Yuzuha and Kagerou, who were on lookout, drew closer to her as to reassure her.
“Thank you. Should something unexpected happen, I’ll do my best.”
Tiera answered to the two and focused her sight on Palmirack.
Her focus then paid off, as she perceived unrest among the spirits around Palmirack.
Tiera followed their trail with her eyes and saw something fly from the roof of a building on the edge of Palmirack.
Tiera’s excellent eyesight allowed her to recognize the flying figure as humanlike. However, there were two pairs of wings sprouting from its back.
As far as Tiera knew, all Bird-type had just one pair of wings. None of the ones Tiera knew had two.
In addition, those two pairs of wings were one bird-like and the other insect-like, completely different types. It was clearly something abnormal.
The fact that the figure looked almost transparent must have been due to a skill.
“What in the world is that shadow? Is there any skill we can use to track it?”
Yuzuha activated a skill after Tiera’s request. A bird-like something, melting in the moonlight, danced in the sky and flew after the shadow.
“Did something happen to Shin and the others…?”
Tiera then was informed of Millie’s rescue by a late message.
The shadow she had witnessed.
That very shadow would decide the next destination of Shin’s party.