From the beginning Loren had decided that his target would be the neck.
Between a spear and a greatsword, the spear was inevitably superior in terms of inflicting damages from a distance. However, the slashing strike of a greatsword had a greater damaging area, whereas the cavalry spear, which was used for thrusting, could only pierce in one point. Loren believed that if he was prepared to take one strike and avoid a fatal wound, he would be able to defeat a spear-wielding opponent. However, if the opponent was Magna, the story would be a little different.
Loren was confident that he could cut through ordinary armor, even plate armor, with a single slash of his greatsword. But, he couldn’t be that confident when it came to armor that had been infused with magic, as there was no telling what kind of properties it might have, not to mention that the armor itself might be much sturdier than ordinary one.
The greatsword in Loren’s hands was also a magic weapon that was said to have belonged to a Demon King, but there was a possibility that it would only show its true value when used by a Demon King. It was not clear how powerful it was in his hands.
That was why he was aiming for the neck.
Of course, Magna’s armor protected his neck as well. Yet, because it was a movable part like the elbows and knees, it also had somewhat lower defense power than other parts of the armor. Loren’s plan was to deliver a slash with all his might to that part. Even if he could not cut through the armor, the blow from the greatsword would surely inflict fatal damage to Magna’s neck, and since Magna was a living creature, such damage to the neck would surely result in death.
Still, there were two conditions that had to be met in order for this plan to succeed.
Fist, Magna’s target must not be one of Loren’s vital points. Despite a thrust attack carrying less killing power than a slash, as long as Loren was a living creature, he would naturally die if he was hit at a vital point such as the throat, heart, or head. Being struck at other parts of the body was also dangerous, but with two priests present, the probability of death was considered very low as long as he was not instantly killed.
Second, Loren had to still be able to attack Magna after receiving a strike from him, and that was a problem. If he faltered due to the pain of the wound, or if Magna’s spear had some kind of magical effect that prevented Loren from attacking, he might end up being pierced by the spear without being able to counterattack.
Only when these two conditions were met would Loren be able to attack Magna, but during the stretch of time when both he and Magna were charging at each other, he made up his mind.
He would let Magna hit him in the stomach, but he would take his life in return.
However, Loren had forgotten one possibility.
His plan assumed that the fight would end with a single blow. If his opponent was not willing to do that, then the plan would actually fall apart.
And Magna was not willing to go along with Loren’s idea.
“Putting your life on the line, huh. Just like a barbarian!”
Magna, who had realized Loren’s intentions during the charge, thought of aiming for a spot where he could kill Loren instantly with a single blow. However, he immediately understood that he did not have the ability to do so.
If he wanted to kill Loren instantly, who was evidently well-trained, he would have to aim for either the head or throat.
He had considered going for the heart, but under the influence of his equipment, Magna’s eyes could detect that the jacket Loren was wearing had such a strong defense property that it could not be pierced with a single blow, no matter how much his blow had been strengthened by the equipment and the magic-enhanced spear he was using. He might be able to injure Loren as Loren had intended, but he might instead receive a fatal blow to the neck.
Thinking this, Magna let go of the cavalry spear in his hand while still thrusting it forward.
Loren, not thinking about dodging, charged straight into the point of the spear as it was thrown at him. And as Magna expected, the spearhead struck the left side of Loren’s abdomen but was pushed back by the momentum of Loren’s body instead of piercing the jacket and Loren, choking on the impact, struck a sideways cleaving blow at Magna’s neck.
But by then, Magna, who had let go of his spear, had forced himself to stop, albeit with considerable force, and immediately jumped backward with a backstep. With that single movement, he had escaped out of Loren’s strike.
Loren, who had missed his aim and received a painful blow to the abdomen, was sure to be somewhat delayed in his next action, and Magna, who had successfully evaded the attack, was ready to attack again. He immediately selected his next weapon and tried to make it appear in his hand, but as he saw Loren aborted his strike halfway and stopped his forward charge, his expression turned suspicious.
It looked as if Loren didn’t want to have that gap of break after a slash, but forcibly stopping a slash halfway would create a similar gap. Still, thinking that he had to do it anyway, Magna once more chose the crossbow as his weapon.
With the crossbow, Magna could attack from outside of Loren’s range without having to try to get close. He put his finger on the trigger and met Loren’s eyes, who was holding his greatsword ready after aborting his slash. Smiling triumphantly, he shouted while keeping eye contact.
“Burn, Fiamma Unggia!”
Just then, the blade of Loren’s greatsword glowed red with the sensation that all of his strength had been drained from his body.
Magna, who thought he could win just by pulling the trigger while aiming at Loren, who seemed unable to defend or evade, squinted at the glow. He was about to pull the trigger, when the warning that seemed to have been trusted into his head made him quickly remove his hand from the crossbow and ready his shield on his left arm.
As it turned out, that act saved Magna’s life.
While enduring the sensation of losing strength, Loren held his great sword so as not to drop it, and a red flame gushed out from it. It licked and ravaged the floor, the ceiling, the walls, and everything else in the space in front of him.
The heat was so intense that if Magna’s shield and armor were mere metal products, it would have been enough to settle the fight. But Magna’s equipment protected his life, even though he was swallowed by the violent flame.
However, this came at a considerable cost.
Just as Loren’s Fiamma Unguia, the greatsword of a Demon King, sucked up Loren’s magical power and life force to create the flame, the black armor and shield that Magna wore also used the power supplied by Magna to create that much defensive power. As a result, Magna staggered with exhaustion.
If a follow-up attack had been made, Loren’s victory might have been assured, but Loren, too, had paid an enormous amount of power to the greatsword in order to push Magna to that point, and he fell to his knees on the spot, just barely holding on to his consciousness.
If this had been a one-on-one battle, it would have been a draw, as both were almost unable to move, but when Magna had no allies, Loren had friends.
“Klaus! Now! Chop that black guy’s head off!”
Lapis raised her voice from the top of the coffin.
In response, Klaus, who had been a little hesitant when Loren’s greatsword burst into flame, casted <<Boost>> on himself and slashed at the staggering Magna.
“To become like this because of a barbarian… My skills are still lacking.”
Magna, despite being unsteady on his feet and seeming to fall at any moment, caught Klaus’s enhanced blow with just his left arm.
However, Klaus did not stop just because his attack was blocked. He immediately struck another blow, and when even that was stopped, he continued to attack Magna in rapid succession, gradually increasing his speed.
But Magna was able to block all of them, then kicked at Klaus’s side, which looked light to outsiders. The kick, which was delivered with such agility that it was hard to believe that he was wearing plate armor, struck Klaus in the side and sent him flying.
The direction, in which Klaus was sent flying, was the worst direction for Loren’s group. Of all things, it was towards the coffin whose lid was being held closed by Lapis, Angel, and Laure.
Lapis, who had managed to dodge, was not caught up in it. But Ange and Laure, who were slow to dodge, fell off the coffin together with Klaus. Magna, who had straightened up with stance, rushed toward Lapis, who was the only one left on the coffin.
“Get out of the way!”
“This isn’t a very good idea, alright?”
Lapis said without any malice and made to intercept the charging Magna. But before he could reach her, who was charging forward with his shield at the ready, Gula slammed into him from the side.
“Damn! You again!”
“What the hell! You knew what that device was and still let your own follower inside?!”
“What kind of idiot uses a device that he doesn’t even understand?”
After striking Gula with a swing of the arm and forcing her to step back, Magna sneered at Gula, who was glaring at him hatefully.
“It is a device that turns even barbarians like you into beings who can serve someone from a noble species like mine. It is a great device left by my ancestors, not something you are allowed to tread upon!”
Magna continued, glaring at Lapis, who was still on top of the coffin.
“It will give some value to you, worthless people. You should be grateful!”
“What a nonsense!”
Leila was the one who shouted and cut Magna off.
Magna did not even draw his sword – he blocked Leila’s blow with his shield, then used it to bash her, knocking her to the floor. He tried to step on her, but Gula threw a punch at him.
“We had to suffer because of people like you!”
“What in the world… You can’t be…?”
Magna’s eyes widened, as if he had suddenly realized something.
“Tell me, what is the worth of such power!”
Invisible fangs bite into the Magna’s shield. While not visible to the eyes, the pressure they made on his arm and shield was very real. He glared at Gula with eyes filled with hatred for some reason.
“You! You are Gluttony!”
“H-how do you…?”
Magna kicked Gula, who was flustered by having her identity revealed, and shook off the things that were biting his arm.
“If only you had obeyed meekly… We wouldn’t be here right now!”
“What the hell?!”
Magna’s right hand, which was not holding a weapon, reaches for Gula’s neck. Gula was so surprised that she was unable to move, and her throat was grabbed in a tight grip.
“Let the wrongs of my fathers be righted here and now!”
“Gagh?! W-what the hell…?”
As her neck was squeezed tight, Gula threw out questioning words under labored breath.
Magna, however, did not answer, but instead put more strength into the hand gripping Gula’s throat. She let out a pained cry at the pressure that would break her neck instantly if she were a mere human, and Magna tried to tighten his grip even more. But at the sight of Loren getting up unsteadily, his hand relaxed for a moment.
“What the hell are you… doing with my friend…?”
“You can still move, huh. What a stubborn one.”
“I don’t know what’s going on, but… I’m going to finish you off!”
Loren, who was forcing strength into his powerless arms, charged forward and, at that moment, felt a click somewhere in his head as if a part of something was fitting into place.