|Author: Firehead||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Hands of Vecna||English Source: Hands of Vecna|
|Editor(s): TpstT, Keii|
Aries was thinking.
When should he join the battle? Or was it better for him not to interrupt?
It would be easy for Aries to finish off Mercurius here. Regardless of their attribute compatibility, there was an insurmountable difference between them since his level was more than double of the demon’s level. He could forcefully defeat him while ignoring the advantages and disadvantages.
Although Aries had struggled against the water golem Levia, the level difference could not be easily overcome as long as it wasn’t an exceptional foe like that. Levia was created out of a lake which was rich in mana, and mana could empower objects and creatures by allowing them to level up.
Basically, golems could not possess mana. Even if its raw materials were created by magic, it would eventually revert back to mana. However, Megrez overcame this weakness by using a vast quantity of water containing pure mana, successfully creating a contradictory existence—a golem with an abundance of mana. Although Aries did not like it, he had to admit that Megrez was worthy of being called the Wisdom King.
Returning to the topic at hand, Aries could defeat Mercurius without much effort. It might be a bit trickier than the other Seven Luminaries, but that was all. The opponent would be a little stubborn and troublesome, but it wouldn’t be possible for Aries to lose.
But…Aries pondered. If he were to interrupt here, would it be beneficial for Virgo? If any of the other Twelve Heavenly Stars had been here, they would have interrupted without hesitation. They would have jumped at the Seven Luminaries and slaughtered them without worrying about revealing their true identities. That would be the correct thing to do.
If Virgo and the Seven Luminaries were on equal footing, it was not guaranteed that she would come out victorious. In that case, it would be better to not risk it and quickly finish it themselves. It was the correct option to take.
However, Aries could empathize with Virgo’s feelings. Aries was different from the other Twelve Heavenly Stars. All of them were strong to begin with. Libra was the strongest golem. Aigokeros was the devil king of the underworld. Karkinos was the top among the crustacean monsters of the seaside, while Scorpius was the empress of scorpions. Parthenos was the leader of the tribe which served the Goddess. The rest of the Twelve Heavenly Stars were all just as exceptional, including the queen of the fairies, the son of the Goddess, and the strongest magical beast.
The Twelve Heavenly Stars, with the exception of Aries, was a group consisting of the strongest individuals from different regions. Every one of them were considered legendary and fearful existences in their own regions of residence. If they were not already following Ruphas, they might have been competing with each other for dominance. The strongest members of different races from different regions came together to form the Twelve Heavenly Stars.
However, Aries was different. He was simply lucky. Because he was the first to be captured, Ruphas was attached to him, seeing him as a weak monster that needed to be strengthened. Originally, he was not someone who could even begin to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest. No, he was the weakest magical beast that could not even compare with ordinary magical beasts. This was Aries.
Therefore, only Aries understood Virgo’s feelings—the heart of the weak. The current Virgo was like him in the past; surrounded by the strong, he could not be confident of himself and was overcome by an unbearable sense of inferiority.
Why am I here? Am I really needed? Shouldn’t I give this position to someone else?
Overwhelmed by such thoughts, he could not understand the value of his own existence. It was unclear if Virgo had the same troubles as Aries had in the past, but it was likely for her to have such thoughts to some extent. Therefore, Aries decided to leave things be.
This was because it was very mortifying for the party that was receiving help. Even though it was a battle that could have been won, the other Twelve Heavenly Stars would interfere when it became even slightly dangerous. It was not just once or twice that he was told to stay back because he was weak. And then he would think, Oh, why am I so weak?
The regret, pity, and misery would result in sleepless nights. Aries knew that feeling. The other Twelve Heavenly Stars never understood such things because they were strong without exception. This was why Aries suppressed his urge to bash the Seven Luminaries.
Not yet…It wasn’t the time to act yet. If he took action now, he would be saying to Virgo, “You can’t win, so just leave it to me.” In that case, nothing would change and Virgo would never have confidence in herself. So for now…he should just watch.
“Who are you?”
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“There’s nobody else except you.”
Mercurius asked without hiding the hostility in his eyes. Virgo, subjected to the query, was puzzled. “Who are you?” It was hard to answer such a question.
Although she was one of the Twelve Heavenly Stars, she merely succeeded her grandmother. She did not think that she had such power. However, the man from the Seven Luminaries was somehow cautious. He quickly drew a seal and told Virgo in a low voice.
“No, it doesn’t matter who you are…A person who can use that skill must not be left alive. Here, I will do my best to get rid of you!”
Mercurius declared and shot compressed water bullets from his palm. It was water, nothing but water. However, a compressed high-speed jet of water could even shatter rocks. As he made his attack, everyone spread out and the water bullets easily destroyed the rocks behind them. If humans were hit by that, they would not come out unscathed.
The first to the frontline was Gants. He swung a large battleaxe, one of the treasures of the Black-Winged which he received from the king prior to their departure. There were no special effects. It was just a strong, heavy axe, but it fitted just right in Gants’ hands. Compared to the axes which he had been making do with up until now, it had tremendous power.
The destructive blow cut Mercurius in two and crashed into the ground, creating a cloud of dust. But even with such an attack, Mercurius did not change his expression.
“It’s useless. Such an attack won’t work on me.”
“Oh, that’s true! But it will still take some time to restore your body!”
The attack was ineffective, dealing no damage. That was true, but so what? Gants swung his axe with a ferocious smile and shredded Mercurius. He wasn’t trying to damage Mercurius to begin with. Based on the information provided by Kaineko, he already knew that physical attacks would be ineffective. In that case, the deciding factor would be none other than magic. As such, he understood that his role would be to engage and occupy the enemy.
The pieces of Mercurius’ body started to swell and tentacles of water shot towards Gants. The tips were sharp and pointed, obviously capable of penetrating shabby armor. However, Gants smiled widely like a beast. Instead of dodging, he increased the power of his assaults. As a result, all of the tentacles stabbed at Gants…but all of them got stuck in his flesh. Gants’ well-trained muscles had stopped the tentacles.
“Your attacks are…lukewarm!”
Gants swung his axe again, slicing up Mercurius. Mercurius’ attacks would normally have penetrated Gants’ muscles, therefore he must have been weakened. Although it was not at the point of being able to call it easy, it had certainly been weakened to the extent where even Gants’ defenses were enough to protect against it.
But he was still one of the Seven Luminaries. He still would not lose to physical attacks. Mercurius changed his arm into a whip and sent Gants flying. But he was replaced as the adventurers Jean and Nick charged forward.
“Let’s go, Nick! Don’t give him time to use magic!”
They were originally members of the same adventuring party, so there was no fault in their coordination. Although they were deemed “too weak and unnecessary” by Ruphas, they were in fact veterans among the adventurers of this world. Jean’s sword and Nick’s dagger sliced into Mercurius ceaselessly, giving him no opportunity to use magic.
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From behind, Shu’s arrows provided support fire without ceasing, aiming for Mercurius’ fingers so that he could not draw the seal necessary for magic. They were not aiming to win. This time, their job was not to win. Buying the time for their allies to win—this was the job of the vanguards.
“Don’t underestimate me, you bunch of weaklings who don’t realize your own limit!”
Mercurius directed the water tentacles towards Virgo in frustration, but the attack did not reach her as Ricardo, a big man in armor, cut in to receive the attack instead. There was damage as the attack was beyond what the armor could withstand. However, it was not fatal. As long as he didn’t die, Virgo could heal him with recovery magic. And it was amazingly fast! Gants had already been healed and even though Ricardo had just received damage, he was almost already fully recovered.
Mercurius yelled and struck Jean’s solar plexus. With just one blow, his ribs were broken and Jean’s mouth was filled with fresh blood. He then kicked Nick and disengaged the two adventurers. At the same time, he activated a spell that required no action! He skipped the process of drawing a seal, generating blades of water which then scattered across the room.
However, an actionless spell was naturally weaker than normal. Virgo unleashed a barrier that easily blocked it and he understood that this was far from being a decisive blow.
Sei kicked off the ground, jumped in, and swung his sword down. Although it was a physical attack, it was not to be underestimated. As a hero, his skill had unnatural effects that went beyond its appearance. This was one of them. As a hero, he was the only one in the world who could use this skill—Magic Break.
Its effect was not to reduce the opponent’s HP, but to reduce his SP. It could disperse mana, even if it was only a little. In other words, even though it was a physical attack, it was still effective against the demon.
However, Mercurius would not just stay still and take the beating. He instantly hardened his body, transforming it from water into ice. Then, he stopped the attack with his hardened arm and counterattacked by kicking him in the jaw.
Sei was sent flying off in an arc. Immediately after that, a blade of light came flying over. That was a slashing light emitted from Virgo’s sword. Although Mercurius somehow avoided it, Virgo herself closed the distance by flying in low.
And they passed each other in a flash! Her sword struck Mercurius and his expression changed.
It worked! Virgo felt a solid contact in her hands, but her lack of combat experience and alertness brought on a disaster. Mercurius immediately turned on Virgo and reached out his hand. He was aiming for her head. Believing her to be too dangerous if she was not killed in one blow, he launched a deadly attack.
However, the earth itself shook violently just at the right moment as if it was calculated. As a result, he lost his balance and the opportunity to attack Virgo. And then, Virgo approached, slashing at him again.
Just now…that guy in black! The man in black, who…
The earthquake just now was caused by that mysterious man in black. He silently ignored Mercurius’ gaze, but this only made it more unsettling. Mercurius had to admit that the battle was not going as he expected. He understood now that he made a wrong judgment.
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It was a complete mistake to come to this mountain because he was afraid that the elixir would restore the guardian dragon. He knew that he would be weakened by the barrier, but he had thought that he could flush the hero and his companions away with water magic by taking advantage of the mountain’s terrain. Even if that failed, he should still be able to withdraw cautiously.
What went wrong? It was his miscalculation that they had someone with an anti-magic skill and they just rushed up the mountain without a care. Even so, he was confident he could win. Despite being weakened, he could still win against the hero’s party.
But…that girl named Virgo, she was too annoying. She could heal whatever damage he inflicted and she would slash at him immediately when given the opportunity.
Defeat—this word flashed across his mind in a realistic manner.
“…No! I won’t lose!”
Mercurius steeled himself and turned his body into a blade to attack the hero and his party.
Yes, he could not afford to lose.
Even if his body was merely a puppet of the Goddess, could he admit that it existed only to be defeated?
No, it’s fine if it was just him…If it was fate, he could calmly accept it.
We demons may be dolls…but there are things even a doll wants to protect!
In his mind, there was the smile of a familiar girl who bore the name of the moon.
And she would never turn to him, yet she was a priceless treasure to him.
Image from Light Novel Volume 4