“Oh-ho, isn’t that impressive…”
Billy voiced his admiration, seeing that Jeanne was fighting without a staff despite being a mage.
The lightning around her body reinforced her fists and feet, enabling her attacks to easily knock away the strange creatures.
“I never expected anyone to fare this well against the Alphas. They may not be very smart, but being outclassed physically as well is… a problem.”
Jeanne asked as she parried away an incoming attack.
“It’s what these creatures are called. Hehehehe… you’ve always been one who frequently asked questions, Jeanne — back in your school days. But there are times and places in which you should refrain from doing so, don’t you think?”
Billy’s grin implied more sinister thoughts in his head.
With Alphas approaching her from behind, Jeanne blew them away with a roundhouse kick.
“I see… you’ve trained to enhance your awareness in all directions. Good thinking on Gaston’s part, I suppose.”
Billy instantly saw that Jeanne’s combat approach had been improved upon by Gaston’s advice.
“Stop talking in riddles, Professor Billy!”
“Hmph, I’m no longer a professor. I’m one of the Duodecad — the leader of them all, in fact. Properly address your superior, soldier!”
As Billy spoke, he held his arm up, then slashed it down.
A powerful gust of wind infused with arcane energy blew at Jeanne, causing her to fly toward Gaston as if her direction had been manipulated.
Gaston caught her and put his burning yet gentle hands on her shoulders.
“Be careful, Jeanne. I’ll fight him — you concentrate on taking out the creatures.”
Jeanne saw from Gaston’s face that he was not calm and composed as he usually was — that was how serious the situation was now.
Still, even if all of the Magic Guardians felt the same way — and it had crossed their minds that their Commander did as well, now was not the time to get hung up on that one detail.
“Ngh–! Curses! Take this! BURST!”
Hornel, with his horse already killed, was now fighting on the ground, wielding his Blazing Dragon Staff.
“ORA! SHAAAAAA! Gah–! Shit shit shit! That freakin’ hurt!”
And to his side was his partner Maïga, fighting hard despite the countless wounds on his body.
“Curses…! Middle Cure!”
“Hey! You’re not supposed to heal me that often! Look how many enemies there are! You’ll run out of energy!”
“Hah! Better that than being killed without getting to use it all!”
“You talk too much, you little shit!”
Each of the Alphas, able to use Arcane Drain, were equivalent to S-ranked monsters in strength. Familiars could not use breath attacks against them, and attack magic was not an option for mages, either.
With their options so limited against such opponents, the elites of the Royal Capital Magic Guardians were in for quite a challenge.
“Gyah–!? Captain Lina! Help!!”
Lina’s subordinates lost their lives, overwhelmed by the wave of Alphas.
Their outstretched hands grabbed on to nothing as death came for them. Although visibly horrified, Lina could only fight on.
“Master Lina! Watch out!”
Baladd, Lina’s familiar, flew behind Lina and used its body as a shield to protect her from an attack.
“I-I’m fine! My fat defends me!”
Due to Baladd’s sheer size, the Alphas’ claws did not manage to dig in deep, but the sight of her Familiar suffering still hurt Lina on the inside. Regardless, so long as she could keep moving, she resolved to keep fighting, swinging her Blazing Dragon Staff. The very same staff once owned by the Commander who she considered a father figure, passed down to her most respected and beloved teacher, then to her.
“Out of my way!”
The Great Mage threw out his fists, blowing the Alphas in all directions. Seeing that, Billy started laughing.
“Hahaha, your strength is as ridiculous as ever.”
“Oh, you’ll also get a taste of it soon enough…”
“I suppose I can look forward to that… After you manage to overcome this wave, that is!”
Billy waved down his arm, and then countless more Alphas emerged from his shadow.
“Now let’s see what you can do… Gaston.”
On the battlefield, amid the clashing of fists, staves, and recovery magic, the sounds of the soldiers’ last moments reached their Commander’s ears.
The soldiers, many limping and bleeding from their foreheads, were as close to running out of arcane energy as one could be.
Gaston, just like all the others, fought off the advancing Alphas with punches, kicks, and sometimes with his staff.
“Hahahahaha! I still have plenty!”
Just as the old wave was cleared out, more Alphas appeared again.
Gaston could not handle them all alone, inevitably passing the burden down to the others.
“BRING IT ON!”
“Hah… hah… hah…!”
…Were clearly at their limits by now.
This was a heavy burden for Gaston, their Commander, as well.
More than half of his subordinates were already gone. It was clear to just about everyone that they would eventually be wiped out.
That was why a certain girl’s action now was not a mistake, technically speaking.
“Rise, A-rise, Arise… A-rise! Teleportation!”
Her name was Fuyu. Her talent had caught the attention of Commander Gaston, who had chosen her as his assistant.
The Teleportation Spell Circle, set up a safe distance away from enemy lines, radiated a luminescent light to signal its invocation.
“Sir Gaston! Please retreat!”
Fuyu — the girl who had been on standby this whole time, just as Gaston had told her to — shouted as loud as she could. The situation was so bad that she felt the need to act on her own. No one blamed her for disobeying orders, for if they were in her shoes, they likely would have done the same.
The elite soldiers, seeing the Teleportation Circle, had hope in their eyes for a brief moment.
“Ground Spell Delivery…”
Billy tapped his hand on the ground just as Fuyu’s spell was invoked.
A surge of arcane energy ran through the ground, almost instantly destroying Fuyu’s Teleportation Spell Circle. Fuyu’s scream echoed together with the sound of breaking glass.
“Well, well… I might’ve overtuned my power. I’ve gone and made an adorable little girl cry, Gaston.”
“……This is a battlefield. I didn’t bring any crybabies here.”
“I’ve bought — with money — this magecraft from Asley, you see. It’s only normal that I customize it to suit my needs. It’s not much, but my version can send surges of arcane energy as well.”
“Shut up! I don’t want to hear the young man’s name from your mouth ever again!”
“Unfortunately for you… I don’t care.”
Gaston mowed down the Alphas that were coming at him and, seeing that his student was showing a moment of hesitation, said firmly to her,
“Eyes forward, Fuyu!”
Fuyu kept her eyes on Gaston as the latter kept on fighting.
“Don’t bother! That old coot’s not going to let anyone get away, anyway!”
“Hahaha, listen to yourself. Now you’re calling ME old…”
“Always keep your eyes forward! Follow the path of the one who came before you! The path may seem endless… but the young man is surely waiting for you at the end of it all!”
Fuyu stood up and answered.
Billy, in response to Gaston’s words, lowered his voice and grumbled,
“Well, he’s right — As soon as I find that young man, he’ll be dead like the rest of you…!”
“You think I’m about to let you do whatever you want?”
For a moment, Billy was taken aback by what Gaston had said.
Then he erupted into laughter.
“Hahahahaha! What does your approval even matter when you can’t reach me!? Can you even do anything!?”
“Any second now…”
“You thought I didn’t know the magecraft… of Shadow Domain Summon?”
Staring at Billy, Gaston whispered,
“Ground Spell Delivery.”
Barely a moment later, the shadow under Billy’s feet cracked apart with a high-pitched sound and then disappeared.
“What the–!? GWAHHHHH!?”
At the same time, a sudden, powerful impact blew Billy up into the air.
He scrambled to re-adjust his posture in mid-air and narrowly managed to land on his feet, after which he glared at Gaston.
“Damn you… Gaston!”
“I’ve bought — with money — this magecraft from the young man. It’s only normal that I make it better — so that it could send POWERFUL surges of arcane energy as well. What, was that too much for you?”
Gaston’s words definitely rubbed Billy’s emotions the wrong way.
Billy’s face twisted with anger.
The dead body of an Alpha flew right at his head.
“Sorry, my hand slipped.”
Gaston’s snark brought Billy’s rage to its peak.
“You’re dead! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you myself, Gaston!”
It looked as if Billy’s mouth was about to tear apart.
“You’re more Devil than human now…”
Gaston heaved a deep sigh, knowing that his friend was already too far gone.