With a roar, Loren crushed to pieces several trees as thick as adults’ necks with a single slash of the sword. While wood blocks danced in the air, their pursuers’ bodies became chunks of meat and red droplets that fell to the ground.
Loren dashed through them with a terrifying smile etched on his face. He was not that fast, but the brute strength of it made even Lapis shudder.
It would be understandable had he only cut through them; his sword was sturdy and sharp enough. It would still require unconventional strength, but it was still under comprehensible category. But instead Loren had just smashed several trees to bits. It showed how exceptional the weight of the weapon as well as the strength of its wielder was. It was beyond Lapis’ understanding.
Lapis had witnessed Loren being like this multiple times so far. It was a kind of rampage where he went berserk as if his shackles had suddenly been removed, then lost consciousness like a suddenly-snapped thread. The more immense the power was, the bigger impact Loren’s body received. He usually ended up in the hospital afterwards.
For a moment, Lapis wondered if this was a poor choice. No matter how powerful the attack was, it was a useless ability if he couldn’t fight continuously and had to pull back.
But at the same time, Lapis could think of another possibility, and it might have been the best; she immediately changed her mind.
It could be said that the situation was getting worse and worse. The soldiers that had gone with them into the forest had been wiped out almost completely, and the ones who had brought this to them, Klaus’ party, had been incapacitated. Moreover, the missing villagers and soldiers had lost their minds and were chasing them in a disgusting-beyond-words state. She couldn’t think of any good outcome if things went on like this.
But if Loren had to pull back, they could use it as an excuse to run away from this place.
Of course, there was still the problem of dealing with their pursuers in order to be able to run away, but the rampaging Loren had almost finished with that. As for the problem about being trapped in some weird space as Shayna had feared, once they didn’t have to worry about the pursuers anymore, Lapis was confident that she could manage it somehow.
So, letting Loren continue to run wild, then carrying him and quickly escaping once he had lost consciousness was not bad. In the current situation, Loren going berserk was not as bad as the worst scenario.
Lapis watched Loren’s back with some concerns. He had leapt right into the midst of the enemies, and was smashing them down together with the trees. She was worried that Loren would use up his strength before the enemies’ number decreased, but Lapis had prepared herself for the worst. She would deal with the remaining pursuers then, and give those half-naked men some flying kicks right at their lower bodies.
If Loren knew of her resolution, he would just scoff ‘It’s your prosthetic legs!’. But from Lapis’ point of view, whether prosthetic or not, it was still connected to her body and was still her own legs that she used.
To touch something, one didn’t want to touch, some resolution was needed after all. While Lapis was gathering her determination, Loren was turning their pursuers into meat chunks one by one. His greatsword smashed down trees and bodies alike just like a storm. Loren moved in the center of that storm, wrecking destruction on his surroundings. Lapis watched him, and noticed something a bit strange after a while.
Loren’s rampage normally didn’t last this long.
This kind of rampage continuously and viciously consumed a lot of Loren’s various strengths, from physical strength to magic and mental strength. The price for such power was immense, but this rampage Loren was displaying seemed to last longer than usual.
“Maybe that’s why.”
The reason for it suddenly struck Lapis. It was the existence of Shayna inside Loren.
Shayna, who possessed the abilities of the No Life King, was making free use of <<Energy Drain>>, a spell peculiar to the undead. It enabled her to steal power from living creatures in her surroundings and poured it into someone else.
Lapis had taught Loren self-boosting spells before, but he had never been able to use them for an extended period because the amount of magic power his body had, was too little. To make up for this shortcoming, Loren had thought of a solution: asking Shayna to use <<Energy Drain>> to prolong the spells. This helped Loren be able to use strength boost for quite a long time by continuously consuming magic. Lapis realized that it could also be used for rampages.
With this, Loren’s rampage would not stop as long as there were still living things around him. No matter how much power he used, he would not lose consciousness. He would eventually stop when the power consumed exceeded the power supplied, but as things were now, no one knew when that would happen.
“If that’s the case, then this is problematic.”
Lapis sounded impatient.
Loren’s rampage was a phenomenon that brought about great backlash to Loren himself. It hadn’t become too bad because his power would run out before anything too serious could happen, and he would lose consciousness. But now, because of Shayna’s <<Energy Drain>>, his power would not run out that easily. His rampage would continue on, and he would continue to fight for a long time.
Until now, he had always ended up in the hospitals after shorter rampages. How much worse would the backlash to his body be after a longer one? Lapis couldn’t predict it, but there was no doubt that Loren would sustain more damages than ever. She feared that if he was unlucky, he might even receive some fatal damage that he would have to deal with for the rest of his life.
She had to stop him – Lapis didn’t take much time to make that decision. If she let him continue to fight like this, his body would definitely fail.
“Loren! Don’t do it! Please stop fighting!”
If it could be stopped by words, it wouldn’t be a rampage. Lapis knew it was impossible, but she still tried with words first. Loren’s movements didn’t falter at all.
In that case, violence would be the only way to stop him. That led to another problem though: if she wanted to, she had the confidence and power to kill Loren.
Only her arms had been returned, but compared to when all of her limbs had been prosthetics, she was now able to use considerably powerful magic again. Despite Loren being a capable mercenary, despite the armor being a gift from an Elder, despite his weapon being something Lapis had brought her from her hometown, she still believed she could overpower him.
But she couldn’t afford to kill Loren here. In the first place, the purpose of her fighting him was to stop him before his body failed; if he died because of their fight, then everything would be meaningless.
On the other hand, she also knew very well that he was not an opponent she could go easy on or just try to immobilize. Normally, he was below her level, but he could still retaliate. Now, in the midst of a rampage, his combat ability had increased.
The only saving grace was, Loren was not in the condition where he could fight with a perfectly clear mind. If he had been, with his experiences in combat, Lapis might suffer an embarrassing defeat at some unexpected point.
“Let’s prepare to give each other some injuries, shall we?”
She wouldn’t be able to restrain Loren without hurting him, but she didn’t think she would be unscathed either. Lapis wrapped both arms in magic and used spells to enhance her strength.
Lapis had wondered if she should use some weapons against Loren, who was still swinging his greatsword and mass-producing corpses, but she felt that using subpar weapons would give her disadvantage instead, so she decided to face him bare-handed.
And it was probably unlike that Loren had a lot of experience fighting with bare-handed opponents. After all, it was not strange to associate standing barehanded before a greatsword-wielding Loren with death. There was no experience to gain from fighting someone that got killed immediately, so she believed that he was not used to fighting bare-handed enemies.
Also, an unrestrained Lapis could still easily kill a man even barehanded.
“Loren! That’s enough already. Please stop!”
The number of their pursuers had dropped to near zero at that time. Smashed wood blocks and human remains had covered the ground and around them, trees had been cleared from an area as large as a public square.
In such a setting, Lapis rushed straight towards Loren while raising her voice. The gross state of the ground under her feet didn’t slow her down at all. She stepped on chunks of wood and lumps of meat alike, scattering them around.
The Loren she confronted wasn’t in a normal state.
Lapis spread her arms, kicking at the various things under her feet while running; magic could be seen like a shimmering heat haze around them. Right in front of her was Loren, who held his sword high above his head and swung downwards with great force, as if he didn’t care about defense at all.
Lapis felt a little worried about being attacked by Loren.
A sane Loren would probably never, ever do such a thing. But in addition to him going berserk, Lapis had now directed hostility towards Loren to attract his attention; it couldn’t be helped that he now considered her an enemy.
She told herself to be patient until she could stop the fight while crossing both arms over her head to receive the sword’s blow and stop it. As the blade crashed against her protective magic and sparks of fire rose up, Lapis felt the strength of the blow she had somehow stopped, and involuntarily gulped.
In her current condition, she could probably stop a blow from a sliver rank adventurer with just one arm. But Loren’s attack, which she had stopped with both her arms, had not only stopped her track but had even pushed her back two or three steps while scraping off her magical protection.
Lapis had expected this, but she was still surprised.
Of course, she was not in top condition herself, and she had to go somewhat easier so that she didn’t kill him. Still, she was a demon, and it was unexpected for a human to be able to make her switch to defense. But Loren’s blow wasn’t something that can be blocked with just one arm, and she had to use both instead.
“How unexpected, Loren.”
Lapis said with admiration. She was still good: no matter how powerful Loren’s blow was, she still had managed to catch it. It would be a simple strength contest from now on, she thought. If she pushed using her strength, she could easily incapacitate him.
That was why when Loren began putting even more strength into the sword, surprise was clearly shown on Lapis’ face.
“No way… I can’t push him away?”
They were in a strange state where Lapis’ arms and Loren’s sword were crashing against each other. Lapis tried to push the sword away, but she could feel the blade pressing at her instead.
She planted her feet on the ground and braced herself, but she was being pushed back little by little. She once again looked at the swordsman called Loren before her with surprise.
“Loren… You really…”
On the other side of her arms and the greatsword was Loren’s face; he probably had no self-awareness. If she lost focus even just a little, she would easily be blown away, or fell to her knees due to the pressure. She stared at that face and muttered with fear.