Lapis knew that Loren’s black greatsword had been granted some special abilities. She didn’t know all of them, but she knew that one was the offensive power against magic. In short, Loren could defend against and intercept magic attacks with that sword. Lapis had never thought that there would come a day when she found that ability so reproachful.
“This is quite dangerous.”
The blade of that greatsword was currently right above Lapis’ head. Her magic-coated arms were protecting her against it, but the sword was cutting into the protective magic layer by layer. In addition to the weight of the sword and the strength put into it, the pressure of the blade pushed down on Lapis and made her unable to move.
She tried to push back but couldn’t at all, as the strength of a berserk Loren surpassed that of Lapis, who was trying to keep her power in check. If she didn’t handle this well and let herself continue to be pushed like this, it was not unlikely that the blade would split her head. Lapis had to give Loren’s true strength an upward revision.
Of course, Lapis had no plans to just obediently let her head be split, so she switched to a more powerful spell and loaded a large amount of magic into her arms. This stopped the blade from cutting into the magic layer and began to push it back.
Loren didn’t seem surprised at that. During a rampage, his mind only thought about fighting; there was no room for surprise. Instead, he pulled the sword back and struck down on Lapis’ head again in a second, even more powerful blow.
If Lapis received it directly, she didn’t know if she would be pushed back this time. So, she gave up defending and used her magic-clad right arm to fend the blade off. She could still feel the weight of the blow, but was able to dodge the sword as planned. Making use of the opportunity, she stepped into Loren’s space.
“It’ll hurt somewhat, but please bear with me!”
A dull pain coursed through the right arm she had used to ward off the blade earlier. It probably couldn’t be used properly in this state – Lapis gave up and extended her left hand to hit Loren’s torso.
At the same time, she forcefully stomped her right foot and let the impact run through her body while twisting to amplify it. She let the force pass from her shoulder to her left arm, then struck Loren.
Lapis’ palm strike was loaded with enough power to break a normal man’s ribs and if it was taken directly, to make him writhe in pain. Loren didn’t put up any defense, so that was what she had expected.
But after that decisive blow, Lapis immediately jumped backwards to gain some distance and cautiously stood in a fighting stance while scowling at Loren.
Her strike had contained enough power to make an ordinary man faint, but the sensation from her palm had told her that the force hadn’t struck Loren at all.
“I know that an armor gifted by the Elder, the highest ranking vampire, must have its own defensive power, but I didn’t think that it’ll be this strong.”
Lapis’ blow had hit the leather jacket Loren was wearing. This jacket was a reward from a being called Elder, the highest ranking vampire in their previous mission. It was made from three layers of Pegasus hide, with ultrafine chain mail and shock absorbent materials inserted in between. It had nullified Lapis’ moderated blow.
“Isn’t it too effective?!”
Lapis complained in a scream. But the berserk Loren didn’t understand her circumstances at all, and didn’t take a break from his attacking frenzy.
He hadn’t received any damages from Lapis’ blow and immediately went for a counterattack. His blade came in at a wind-cutting speed, and Lapis twisted her body to dodge it.
“No, really, I’ve come to not wanting to become your enemy, Loren. In a lot of ways.”
Lapis muttered while looking at Loren, who immediately pulled the sword back after that strike and returned to his assured stance. Be it emotion-wise or ability-wise, Loren had become someone Lapis didn’t want to make an enemy of. That didn’t mean this battle could end here though.
“Really, what should I do now? What a pain.”
A pursuer whom Loren had missed killing earlier crept up on Lapis from behind without notice. But his head suddenly shot up into the air, and it was Lapis who had hurled it away. Thanks to the spells, she now had the stamina and attack power to kill normal humans with ease, yet it didn’t work with Loren.
As his ally, she would think that his armor being able to nullify her attack was a good thing. But in the case where she had to stop his rampage like this, Lapis just wanted to spew venom at the so-called Elder that had given Loren the armor. But there was only Loren in front of her now, so there was no one to direct the venom at.
“If things go wrong, do I need to be ready to kill you…?”
Lapis wasn’t willing to. But if she wasn’t prepared to do it, she herself might be in danger; the rampaging Loren did have the power to endanger her.
“There is… no other choice! If you die, please don’t blame me!”
An unprecedented amount of magic surged up from Lapis’ arms. Unlike the heat haze from before, it burst into a flaming white light while her ponytail and priest robe fluttered. The earth and wood blocks under her feet were blown away. Her eyes shone with violet light as if they were artificial. Her face, which usually emitted a calm aura, now carried a stern and razor-sharp look.
Loren didn’t seem faltered at her changes at all; he just rested his greatsword on one shoulder. Lapis expected the blow he would strike next to be stronger than ever. She clenched both of her fists, ready to catch it directly and crush the blade.
“I can’t believe that Loren will be the first opponent I fight in earnest with!”
It was not that bad, Lapis thought and laughed.
In contrast, Loren just kept silent. Even the part of his mind that had originally been reserved for conversation now only focused on the fight. He charged forward without so much as a battle cry.
Lapis had raised her fists, ready to rush in to meet Loren’s strike when something so golden that it was almost white suddenly blocked her vision.
Lapis reflexively stopped, but Loren didn’t.
He charged on without losing momentum, but when he was still a distance away from Lapis, he suddenly stopped and flopped down to the ground.
Lapis didn’t think that he had used up his strength. From his state, she could see that he was still able to go on for quite a while.
He would have exhausted his strength much earlier had Shayna stopped supplying him with power. Basically, it seemed like Shayna didn’t try to look at the outside world while she synced with Loren’s senses. She had answered Lapis’ call earlier because Lapis had touched Loren’s body and directly addressed her. If one spoke normally, it almost never reached Shayna.
Whatever it was, Lapis turned her eyes to the being that had interrupted her vision for a moment.
Appearing right between Lapis and Loren was a woman with almost-white blond hair, which she let flow freely down her back. A bright red tube top hugged her voluptuous chest, and the hotpants she was wearing fully exposed her belly while barely reaching her thighs.
She was quite tall, and her line of sight was somewhat higher than Lapis’. She looked down on Lapis and immediately grinned.
“It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Do you remember me?”
Strange quirky tone, frank aura. And above all, the purple eyes that were looking at her. Lapis did remember.
“Eh? Why is your aura different from last time? Are you getting serious? Being two-faced is so cool! Or something like that?”
“I-it’s not like that!”
As Lapis unintentionally blushed and raised her voice in protest, her tone returned to normal.
“Oh, you changed back? It was you being serious, right? Well, whatever is fine, I guess?”
The woman facing her totally suited the word “grinning”. Lapis muttered her name with a weary and confused tone.
“Gula Gluttony, the Evil God of Gluttony…”
“Why don’t you call me Gula-chan?”
“There’s no way I will address you so intimately.”
Seeing Lapis being so guarded, Gula looked a bit sad. It was not the kind of sadness that came from the bottom of one’s heart; Lapis knew it was just for show.
“I’m sad. I’ve gone through the trouble to help you, and yet…”
“That boyfriend of yours. Loren, isn’t it? He seems strange, so I help a bit.”
Lapis’ eyes widened slightly at Gula’s words. She had even had to make up her mind to face the berserk Loren, but this evil God had quietly and easily neutralized him. Lapis couldn’t help but feel surprised.
“How the hell did you…?”
“It’s a s-e-c-r-e-t. If you are friendlier to me, I’ll tell you, but… You, what’s your name?”
“…It’s Lapis. I’m a priest.”
“Priest?! Are you lying? Huh, what a strange child.”
Gula said, a hand on her forehead as if she was recalling something. Lapis relaxed her stance and asked while still keeping an alert eye on Gula.
“What did you come here for?”
The woman called Gula standing before Lapis looked like a normal human but bore the same eye color of demons. She was a being called an evil god, and had even been sealed.
Lapis had asked, thinking that such beings would never come for nothing. But Gula kept silent for a while, then turned her eyes towards Lapis and clapped.
“You see, I said before that I wouldn’t forget Loren’s favor, didn’t I? If you get into any trouble, I’ll help.”
“So that’s the reason you’re standing here? That’s the reason you came?”
Gula claimed that she had somehow known that Loren was in a dilemma after seeing him going berserk, and had come to intervene. There was nothing wrong with that; whether it was trustworthy or not was a different story though.
But it didn’t explain why Gula had come to this forest.
“A too-smart child is not very charming, you know?”
“I won’t be discouraged that easily, so please stop.”
Lapis’ shoulders drooped miserably. Gula seemed to find it amusing and laughed loudly. She stopped after a while and wiped away the tears at the corners of her eyes.
“Actually, I sensed the presence of an old acquaintance around here. So I wondered if I should come to collect them.”
“I didn’t expect much, but it seems like I’ve succeeded in attracting their attention somehow.”
Gula licked her lips and turned her eyes to their surroundings.
Noticing her glance, Lapis once again got back into a fighting stance.
From the shade of the trees outside the area Loren had wrecked destruction upon, a fresh group of human figures began to appear one by one as if they had been lying in wait.