Extra chapter thanks to the support from T.
A long chapter, 2-3 times the usual length … but best read in one go so I kept it that way.
Chapter 0068 Devil
The investigation team from the Kingdom Central University was at the destination of Abel and his group.
But they couldn’t afford to check their surroundings.
Dozens of Fire-Attribute Magic flew towards them while they were still trying to figure out what had happened.
“Hot hot hot.”
It was unlikely that the word would apply better in any other situation.
They were just researchers.
Moreover, not everyone had a connection to magic. Rather, the majority of them could not use magic.
After all, researchers who excel in magic would mainly conduct research at the Magic University.
In addition, few there had experience on the battlefield.
They could not respond to the sudden attack.
It was the adventurers who were able to respond.
“Magicians, deploy magic barriers.”
A magic barrier is a kind of Non-Attribute Magic, and it is an outstanding spell that can deflect most attack magic.
It could even be used by beginner Magicians and could be said to be one of the first spells learned by Magicians planning to go on adventures and appear on battlefields.
However, it had by no means high durability.
Therefore, once a Magician advances to some extent, they would use the option of striking the opponent’s attack magic with their own attack magic to negate it. It was called 『Annihilation』.
However, when it came to the situation where they had to protect many non-combatants like this time, there was no choice other than the magic barrier.
“Damn, what the heck is that?”
“I don’t know. A monster I’ve never seen before … it’s a monster, right? It has a tail.”
From a distance, they could see creatures standing on two feet, wearing something that appeared to be armor or robes, and appeared to be humans.
However, the stark difference they had from humans was their large tails like a reptile.
Perhaps they could be called 『mutants』.
The other adventurer could not clearly answer the adventurer’s question either.
However, there was one person who stood stock still with his eyes wide open.
And Clive muttered.
“Those are … Devils …”
His murmur was very soft but it was heard by a nearby adventurer.
He was the leader of a C-rank adventurer party hired from the royal capital as guards.
“Clive-san, did you just say Devil?”
“Ye-yeah … I’ve only read about them in literature, but they look exactly like the features described …”
Clive replied, but couldn’t look away from the Devils.
“Shit … fifty Devils are too far from a joke.”
The leader had also heard the legends of the Devil.
They say, they are an adversary to God and Angels.
They say, they are a creature immune to magic.
They say, they are an existence no human can beat.
They say … all there is is despair.
The adventurers hired by the Kingdom Central University investigation team were fighting well.
While protecting the investigation team with magic barriers, they counterattacked with magic at the right timing.
However, as the legend claimed, all their spells were repelled.
In that case, there was only one way to go.
A melee battle.
However, as long as the Devils didn’t approach, the adventurers had no choice but to take the initiative.
The distance between them was about 100 meters.
It would take a dozen seconds to close that distance.
During that time, they would have to get closer to the Devils without getting hit by their magic.
Either dodge their spells, prevent them with magic, or deflect them with shields.
Each party had established the know-how to evade magic and bring the fight into close-quarters combat.
Some monsters mainly relied on long-range attack magic, and in some cases, it was necessary to hunt them.
“Lads, let’s go!”
And the adventurers started running.
Wizards protected non-combatants with magic barriers.
The Priests healed the injured.
The vanguard threw everything they had into closing the distance to bring a close combat fight with the Devils.
The distance was 100 meters and the time was slightly more than 10 seconds.
At best, they had to endure just two or three shots before they reach them.
And, as expected, many vanguards succeeded in launching into a melee battle against the devils.
“Ora, die! Guhu.”
But … the Devils were also strong in close combat.
The adventurers were torn apart along with the sword they used to defend.
The Shield-holder, who was proud of his strength, was blown off his feet with his shield.
The high-speed spear strike was evaded and was stabbed with a thrust from their sword.
Meanwhile, attack magic mercilessly fell on the investigation team from the rearguards of the Devils.
The magic barrier was re-established many times and the Magicians who were out of magic laid on the ground.
Overwhelmed by magic battle and close combat didn’t work.
The situation was gradually becoming worse.
At that time, all of those who could use magic in the investigation team, including President Clive, were extending magic barriers.
But … the collapse of the front was just around the corner.
It was at that time that the investigation team of the Court Magic Group and Abel’s party arrived.
It was only a matter of time before the investigation team from the Kingdom Central University was crushed as their vanguard was shattered and their rearguard out of magic.
Finally, they reached a distance where the enemy could be seen and confirmed …
“No way … Devils …”
The Priest Rihya muttered unintentionally.
“Yup, those are Devils. What a rare sight … the investigation team over there has almost collapsed. It’s Clive that is supporting that magic barrier.”
Advisor Arthur found that Clive was the only one holding the last magic barrier to protect the Kingdom Central University investigation team.
Although Clive was a non-combatant and a scholar, he was the president of the Kingdom Central University.
He did not bring shame to his position.
“Deal attacks from the side. Magic Group, prepare combined three shots for one.”
Under the command of Advisor Arthur, members of the Court Magic Group chanted the spells for long-range attack magic.
The highly penetrating javelin-type spells released by the Magic Group pierced the group of Devils who were trying to break through President Clive’s magic barrier.
With that one strike, more than ten Devils were forced out of battle.
“Wow … even though they said that Devils are immune to magic …”
After learning about Devils at the temple, Rihya was amazed at the incredible sight that unfolded in front of her.
“That’s not accurate. It’s possible to break through the magic barrier of Devils by having a group of three aim at an individual Devil. Although this would not work if the target had a 『Wind Defense Film』 like Wyverns.”
Advisor Arthur said and laughed a little.
(It’s possible to defeat them. It’s possible but … there are too many. The javelin-type spells consume a ton of magical power and we have at most four shots … it’s impossible to defeat all of them. Will close combat be necessary in the end? )
While laughing, in his heart, Advisor Arthur was calmly calculating as a commander.
After that, the combined three shots for one were repeated while they gradually reduced the distance.
With a total of four attacks, they had defeated more than thirty Devils.
However, all the members of the Magic Group, except Arthur, had fainted due to a lack of magical power.
At the Kingdom Central University investigation team end, Clive had finally exhausted his last dredges of magical power and collapsed as well.
The only remaining forces were Arthur, an adviser with little magical power left, and four Crimson Swords.
On the other hand, on the side of the Devils, there were still nearly 20 remaining.
Moreover, behind the group was a Devil with a huge body and an extraordinary presence.
“There seems to be something dangerous. Alright, we’ll reduce their numbers in close combat. Warren, charge in with a frontal assault.”
With Abel’s instructions, Warren began to run while holding his huge shield steady.
Abel, Rin, and Rihya lined up in a row, hiding behind his shield and body.
From the Devil’s point of view, it must look like a huge shield was approaching.
Warren was often thought to be sluggish due to his huge body and huge shield, but that was not the case.
His top speed was comparable to Abel’s, and his endurance was almost inexhaustible. His arm strength exceeded that of even a huge Ogre.
Despite being an adventurer, it was not just for show that he was said to be the best Shield-holder in the Kingdom.
Of course, in a frontal assault, not only Abel but also Rin and Rihya were following behind, so he reduced his speed.
Even so, with a distance of less than 100 meters, they could traverse it in less than 20 seconds.
All attacks directed at the party during that time were deflected by Warren’s shield.
When he reached the group of Devils, he slammed into the Devil vanguards with that momentum and blew them off their feet.
Abel jumped out from behind Warren and cut into the hole of the Devil’s formation that was formed.
In addition, Rin and Rihya fired what could be called an improvised 『combined two shots for one』and struck the same target with short-range magic.
Warren entered the hole again and blew away the Devil with his shield to secure the bridgehead.
『Crimson Sword』 was centered around Warren, with Abel on the right and Rin and Rihya on the left. They spread out like a fan from the position they cut into such that they won’t get taken from behind.
Among them, Abel had the fastest annihilation speed.
He parried the Devils’ swords without fully committing and sent their heads flying when the opponent’s posture collapsed.
However, some individuals were unusually proficient in handling swords and he was having a hard time.
Among the monsters that they had fought so far, these were top-class troublesome opponents.
After the 『Crimson Sword』 assault, the target of the Devil rearguard’s magic changed from Clive from the Kingdom Central University to the Crimson Sword and Arthur from the Court Magic Group.
Moreover, when the vanguard was defeated, the attacks were focused on Abel and his party.
As expected, when it boiled down to a melee battle while dodging magic, the burden was considerably heavy even for Abel.
That was even more so for the Magician Rin and the Priest Rihya.
In the first place, Magicians always carry the risk of running out of magic.
It was not possible to fire off attack magic while deploying magic barriers.
It may be possible for a certain Water-Attribute Magician … no, in the first place, that Water-Attribute Magician had never used a 『Magic Barrier』 … In the Central Nations, the method of simultaneously casting magic had not been established.
In that case, they had to fight while switching between barriers and attacks in a short window of time.
Furthermore, they were attacking with an impromptu 『Combined two shots for one』 strategy.
Normally, under such circumstances, Magicians would quickly reach magic depletion, but both Rin and Rihya had been trained in countless battles so far.
The title of the B-rank party 『Crimson Sword』 was not just for show.
Although the Crimson Sword had slain 12 Devils in close combat after a single frontal assault, they were approaching their limits.
The first to break was, as feared, by magic depletion.
Rin collapsed the moment Rin released an Air Javelin to match Rihya’s Light Javelin.
Abel, who caught the scene at the edge of his eyes, shouted.
“Rin is out of magic. Warren, cover us.”
Rihya called out as she pulled Rin’s body and retreated.
Warren covered their bodies with his shield to prevent them from being chased.
The magic potion that 『Crimson Sword』 carried had already been emptied, and Rin’s magical power had also hit rock bottom.
Rihya’s magical power was almost zero and she didn’t even have enough magical power to hold one magic barrier.
The remaining Devils were six. And one of them seemed to be a boss.
However, besides the boss, Abel noticed that three of the six were clearly different in atmosphere compared to the Devils he had defeated so far.
“The boss and those three surrounding him …”
“Abel … that boss, might be a Devil Prince …”
Rihya whispered from behind Warren’s shield.
What are you talking about, Rihya, that can’t be true, what are you talking about, Rihya, ahahahahah.
Abel wanted to escape from reality and say that.
But he understood that Rihya wasn’t joking.
“The colors of the left and right eyes are different … that is one of the characteristics of a Devil Prince.”
If they looked closely, they could see that the right eye was red and the left eye was golden.
“A Devil Prince, not a Devil King?”
“Yes. The Devil Prince is a Devil who may awaken to become the Devil King. Only four exist at a given time. One of them becomes the Devil King. That was what I learned in the temple.”
“I’ve heard of the name. They are strong … right?”
“There is no record of anyone defeating them other than the Hero …”
Having said that, Rihya’s voice trembled as expected.
It was said that the Hero of this generation was in the Western countries … but the details had not been passed on to the Central Nations.
There was only one Hero in every era.
“For the time being, I will try to defeat the ones apart from the Devil Prince. Don’t worry … that might not be possible, but something unexpected may happen and this barrier-like space might break, or something of that sort might happen. Don’t give up hope.”
Abel smiled and turned to the Devils.
Two ordinary Devils, three strong Devils, and one Devil Prince-like Devil.
Abel didn’t think that he could win one-on-one even against the three strong Devils.
Not to mention the Devil Prince … he couldn’t grasp the depths of its power at all.
(No, I guess it is still better than that time I stood in front of the Griffon …)
On his way back from the Rondo Forest, a Griffon suddenly landed in front of him … Abel decided that it was better than that situation.
At that thought, he felt extra power surging from within.
“First of all, two small fry …”
Abel stepped into the two normal Devils at once.
A Devil swung its sword sideways.
He dodged it in a forward-leaning posture, entered striking range, and thrust into its heart from below.
He felt the sensation of its magic stone crushing.
From the previous battle, he verified that there was a magic stone near their hearts.
And like other monsters, he knew that they would be killed if he crushed their magic stones.
Pulling out his sword, he rotated his body once with the momentum, leaving the defeated Devil behind, and decapitated the second Devil with that motion.
To defeat a Devil with a single blow, the only choice was to either crush their magic stones or decapitate them.
Abel learned so from experience.
And finally, he faced the final test.
But then, something unexpected happened.
The moment he registered that the Devil Prince raised its hand, a spell was released.
The target was Warren’s shield.
Warren was blown back along with his shield, and Rihya and Rin, who were behind him, also flew backward.
Abel shouts unintentionally.
“It’s okay! All three of us are okay.”
Rihya shouted her reply.
Why did the Devil Prince do such a thing?
The reason soon became clear.
The Devil Prince came forward with a sword, holding back his three followers.
It seemed that it wanted single combat with Abel.
“Did you just blow those three away to secure this location? Devils are so rough.”
He didn’t think that it could understand his language, but Abel intentionally said it.
He felt that the Devil Prince grinned a little bit.
Well, it wouldn’t think of having single combat with a creature that it felt below itself … but Abel couldn’t tell if it was respect for a strong opponent or if it was just playing because it was bored.
(This is a godsend. I wouldn’t be able to fight the Devil Prince without defeating its three followers but now I can suddenly fight it. Well, it’s a different matter whether I can win or not …)
Abel held his sword alert.
The Devil Prince held a sword in its right hand, and its hand remained lowered.
But Abel knew it wasn’t off guard.
Unlike the swords that the Devils were swinging around, its sword was thin.
It was not a large sword.
The length of the blade was about one meter, and considering the strength of the Devil, it can be imagined that it would be swung at a considerable speed.
It was the Devil Prince who broke the lull that had lasted for a while.
The distance between them was closed in an instant and the sword sliced upward from the lower right.
Because it was faster than expected, Abel, who couldn’t dodge it, pressed down the sword of the Devil Prince from above.
No, he tried to hold it down, but his whole body was blown away.
(Extraordinary speed and extraordinary power. This is bad.)
The moment he noticed that he couldn’t hold it down, he jumped backward on his own, so he suffered no damage.
Although there was no damage … he couldn’t imagine defeating it at all.
This time, the Devil Prince switched to an upper stance. (TLN: Jōdan-no-kamae 上段の構え)
(No no, it was an upward swing just now, so I could jump backward to release the impact, but if I am hit from above, I won’t be able to dissipate the power.)
Just a stance could make the other party despair…
Normally, Abel was on that side.
(It’s not that its technique itself is amazing, but it’s a sword that makes full use of its speed and power. But the way it moves its feet is not that of an amateur either. Does it have confidence because its followers can suppress the surroundings and it can focus on the one-on-one combat?)
Abel also readied his sword and closed the distance slowly.
However, at that moment, more than ten spells were cast from the side toward the Devil Prince.
The adventurer Magicians hired by the Kingdom Central University investigation team channeled all the magical power that they managed to save by resting into those spells.
It was released all at once toward the Devil Prince who seemed to be the enemy’s boss.
Perhaps the Devil Prince was also off guard, or because he was concentrating on single combat with Abel, all the magic released hit the Devil Prince.
The Magicians were completely out of magic again and they fainted the moment they released the spells.
That might have been a blessing in the sense that they would not know the results.
Because their magical attack did no damage at all.
“All the spells were deflected …”
Rihya, who had been blown away to the area around the Court Magic Group with Warren, unconsciously muttered at the sight.
“A normal Devil can be defeated with combined three shots on one, but it may not be possible to defeat that Devil with magic …”
With a pale face on the verge of running out of magic, Advisor Arthur instinctively said.
The reactions of the Devils were fierce.
The three Devil followers fired long-range Fire Magic attacks at the Kingdom Central University investigation team one after another.
No one had the magical power to deploy the magic barrier.
That not only applied to the Kingdom Central University investigation team, but also the Court Magic Team and the Crimson Sword …
Arthur, who had no way of stopping the attacks of the devils, bit his lips and endured.
Rihya collapsed to her knees and her eyes burst into endless tears.
Although it was such a dire situation, it hardly registered in Abel’s consciousness.
He was concentrating on the battle in front of him.
The Devil Prince in his upper stance would definitely charge in.
There was only one chance.
And it came.
It stepped forward faster than before. However, that was expected.
The downward slash from the Devil Prince was even faster than its step.
That was Abel’s aim.
“Sword Art: Zero Rotation”
It was a technique to dodge the point-blank attack of the enemy who rushed in by rotating 45 degrees with the right foot and piercing the left side of the enemy with that momentum.
Indeed, there was no other technique that suited the word deadly.
Abel’s sword wrapped around and pierced from the left side of the Devil Prince …
But he struck air.
The Devil Prince slightly averted its upper body back and evaded it.
“No way …”
Abel involuntarily exclaimed.
In a sword fight, that was a deadly opportunity.
The Devil Prince struck Abel’s chin from below with the back of its left hand, which had no sword.
Abel quickly avoided the backhand blow from the left fist but it barely grazed his chin.
His brain was shaken.
Immediately before it struck, he turned his upper body and jumped backward at the same time, so he managed to gain some distance, but he suffered a clear concussion.
Due to the structure of the human brain, it was a weakness that could not be avoided even if he trained.
He landed … but he couldn’t stand up.
Thankfully he barely held onto his sword.
With one knee on the ground, Abel held his sword and glared at the slowly approaching Devil Prince.
He could hear the voice of Rihya from a distance.
(Sorry, Rihya, but this may not be possible …)
But then the battle situation changed once again.
The ceiling cracked and clumps of rock fell to the ground.
Naturally, the Devil Prince and its three followers looked up to see what happened.
At the same time, Abel heard a nostalgic voice.
“<Ice Wall 10-layers>”
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