Explosion for this mage!
Editor: Striker, Ulti, Xenthur
In this world, there is an organization known as the Demon King’s army.
They have power far surpassing that of humanity, and have been threatening mankind for ages.
Even after humanity received amazing powers from the gods, they were still unable to stand up to them. They can truly be called the natural enemy of mankind.
And at the home base of that organization that has spread terror amongst much of humanity, which is protected by a powerful, impenetrable barrier──
“Wahahahaha! Wahahaha! That’s it, Megumin! Give it to ‘em! You are the strongest mage in this world!”
That very same home base is currently undergoing an unprecedented crisis at the hands of a single, good-for-nothing mage.
“Look, Darkness! Behold this wondrous sight! Thinking about it, the Demon King’s army has caused me quite a bit of trouble in the past! Now I’ve finally gotten some revenge! Wahahaha! Look at that pathetic sight! And you dare call yourself the Demon King!?”
“Ah, aaah… Aaah… Top grade manatite that are each worth more than a house are disappearing right in front of me… One… Two…”
Every time Megumin unleashed her spell, the pale-faced Darkness would mutter something under her breath.
Every time that voice echoed across the plains, an unbelievably powerful explosion slammed against the Demon King’s barrier.
“Are those elite soldiers of the Demon King’s army!? They look like they’re about to piss themselves! I’m sure they’re normally pretty strong enemies, but to us right now they might as well be kobolds!”
This is the current situation. Megumin, her face one of unbridled glee, has been continuously bombarding the enemy with Explosion Magic.
By the time the third blast impacted against the barrier, the Demon King’s troops came rushing out of the castle in a panicked mass.
Most of them were clad head to toe in pitch-black plate armour, quite an imposing sight.
Alongside them were also creatures wearing loose and flowing dark robes, probably spellcasters, and winged, Gargoyle-like monsters.
It’s obvious at a glance that any single one of them is far stronger than any monster we’ve encountered before.
Just catching sight of one of them would normally cause us to turn tail and flee, and now there’s an entire army of them rushing towards us.
But we held the high ground, and none of them could even begin to get close to us without getting blown to smithereens by Explosion.
A few of the Gargoyle-looking monsters tried coming at us from the air, but Megumin needed only to raise her hand and unleash her spell, and they drifted towards the earth like fallen leaves.
Today, Megumin is casting her spell without chanting, just like she did back when she faced off against the Demon King’s General, Wolbach.
Chants are used to control and amplify the power of a spell.
Reciting a fixed chant prevents the magic from running amok, and can also increase the power of the spell.
However, for someone like Megumin who has mastered Explosion Magic, she can easily cast without chanting.
…Well, that’s only to be expected.
“Explosion! Explosion! Explosion!!!”
This Archwizard loves Explosion Magic more than life itself. She has never cast any other spell in her life.
In the face of magic that could take down even gods and devils, the elite troops of the Demon King’s army were turned into dust, leaving not even corpses behind.
Darkness looked at this scene and trembled,
“T-This is Hell… This is Hell on Earth…! Even if it used up a lot of top grade manatite, if any of the nobles or His Majesty were to witness this, they would definitely designate Megumin as the most dangerous person in the world…! There’s no way the Kingdom could ignore her…!”
“Wahahahaha! This feels great! It’s like all the gloomy stuff clawing at my chest vanished in an instant! Megumin, get them! Keep blasting even after you shatter the barrier! Aqua and the others have only just entered the castle! The Demon King’s room is most definitely on the top floor! Once you break through, raise your aim a little and take the entire top off!”
“D-Don’t do that! Considering Aqua’s poor luck, she might end up getting caught in the blast! And look at Megumin! Her eyes are already shining brighter than ever…!”
Perhaps it is because of her continuous unleashing of high level magic, but Megumin, in addition to her glowing crimson eyes, was also surrounded by a constantly fluctuating halo of electricity.
After taking so many hits, cracks were spreading all across the semi-transparent barrier. Even to my untrained eye, it was clear that it was on the verge of collapse.
As Megumin continued her devastating barrage, an endless horde of monsters came spilling from the castle like it was some kind of monster spawner.
I doubt they were eager to meet their deaths, but they probably knew that the barrier wouldn’t last long if things were to continue.
As the monsters drew Megumin’s fire, the robe-wearing members of the Demon King’s army raised their arms and started casting magic.
I’m sure they were trying to repair the barrier, but looking at them with my Farsight, every single one of them had looks of teary-eyed desperation.
As time passed, the stream of black knights was reduced to a trickle, before being replaced by a wave of large, ogre-like creatures that zealously charged up the hill.
They zealously charged up, but were just as easily swept aside by Megumin’s spells.
…Eventually, the area around the castle was riddled with craters.
The flow of monsters coming from the castle stopped completely. I was thinking that they’ve finally run out of troops, when…
──A man wearing a pure white mask walked out through the gates.
His robe and staff were also white, matching his mask.
This guy certainly had a different feel about him than the cannon fodder that came before.
Despite being in the Demon King’s army, he had a certain holy aura about him, almost like he himself was a divine presence…
“A bigshot showed up. I wonder if he is the ‘world’s strongest mage’ or whatever Serena was talking about.”
Megumin, her cheeks flushed and with eyes glowing brighter than I’ve ever seen, ceased her assault when she saw the robed figure emerge from the castle.
Still buried up to her waist in the pile of manatite, she playfully rolled a chunk around her hand.
Noticing that the rain of spells has stopped, the white-robed mage stepped through the barrier and casually made his way towards us.
A semi-transparent, membrane-like material appeared around him as he approached. It certainly seems ominous.
We are still quite some distance from each other, certainly too far to have a conversation.
Is he coming up to demand our names and objective?
Or perhaps he’s coming up here to challenge Megumin for the title of the strongest after being impressed by her strength.
Or maybe even──
──Just then, Megumin sent a spell his way without hesitation.
Darkness and I raised a yelp of surprise, but of course, it’s already too late to stop the ball of magic that went hurtling from Megumin’s staff straight towards the robed man.
The next moment, a large boom erupted where he stood, accompanied by an immense column of smoke and a strong shockwave.
The robe was shredded to pieces, revealing a pair of pure white wings.
So is he an angel-type monster?
I ran into a fallen angel named Duke in the past who got blasted to pieces by Wiz. Is he one of his kinsmen?
…Then, the naked angel shakily got up to his feet.
Darkness and I let out a voice that is both equal parts surprised and impressed.
Seeing that he managed to tank a shot from Megumin, there’s no doubt that he is the gatekeeper, the very same one rumoured to be the strongest mage in the world.
Raising himself to his full height, the angel looked up and us and shouted──
“…I am…! The Demon King’s… Strongest…! …A sudden attack…!”
He was saying something, but the distance between us is too great for me to make it out.
Probably naming himself and demanding to know why we launched such an attack out of the blue or something similar.
Megumin and Darkness too didn’t seem to have much luck in making out his words and traded looks of confusion.
I activated my Farsight and Lip Reading skills.
“If you can hear me, then respond! Just who are you!? Adventurers? How dare you bombard the castle from such a long range!? Do you not know of the legends of the Demon King and the Hero, or of the conduct of nobility!? The divine blood that flows in my veins cannot abide such an unseemly act…!”
The naked angel was ranting about something.
“Did you figure out what this guy is saying?”
Megumin asked me as she noticed my confused expression.
“I’ve used my Lip Reading skill, and he seems to be saying that attacking the castle from range is unfair. Like, super unfair.”
“That sounds really childish coming from someone said to be the strongest mage in the world… Though, it’s true that I’ve never heard of someone taking on the Demon King in such a manner…”
Darkness crossed her arms and frowned, while Megumin waved her staff in the man’s direction.
“So, can I blow him up?”
“Go ahead. We have the range advantage, and there’s no reason for us to play along with him.”
“…I feel sorry for him…”
This time, Megumin properly began chanting her spell instead of truncating it like she did before.
It seems like she intends to end it in a single blow.
“You have been warned! Behold my power! The infinite mana granted to me from the demonic realm and my vast knowledge of magic shall render you─”
Megumin unleashed her spell before the guy could finish.
The naked angel was sent flying into the sky in a parabolic arc before collapsing into the ground in an ashen heap, where he lay, twitching sporadically.
──Just then, a complex magic circle suddenly appeared beneath the angel’s body and began glowing brightly.
At the same time, the wounds on that angel’s body started healing at a rapid rate.
…Come to think of it, Serena did mention that he had powerful regeneration abilities.
The mages who were repairing the barrier stopped their work and dashed out to drag the angel back behind it.
Megumin once again raised her staff.
“He’s gone back behind the barrier. Oh well, I was going to destroy it either way. We’ll settle which one of us is the strongest after I bring it down!”
As Megumin resumed her unrelenting barrage, I focused my gaze on the mages inside the barrier in order to follow their conversation.
“Aaaaah, what should we do!? What should we do!?”
“It’s hopeless, this is the end!”
“What is wrong with her!? Is she out of her mind!?”
“The barrier won’t hold! If we don’t get away quickly, that vicious Crimson Demon will destroy us all along with the castle!”
“Why did such a last boss-like creature suddenly attack us!? How can she keep casting Explosion like this!? Is this some kind of attack by a Demon King from another world!?”
As the mages behind the barrier fell into complete disarray, the naked angel groggily opened his eyes.
Seeing that, I gave a signal to Megumin to pause the bombardment.
As surrounding mages rushed around to fetch a spare robe, I focused my gaze on him, my Lip Reading skill at the ready…
“…Even with… True power… Taken out by that… That… Small… Crimson Demon…”
“He said if he was in peak condition, he would’ve taken out that flat Crimson Demon easily.”
Megumin renewed her attack with increased vigor after hearing my interpretation.
The barrier visibly flickered. It won’t be long now before it collapses.
“K-Kazuma, did he really say that!?”
I casually replied to Darkness’s question. At the same time, the former Demon King’s General wobbled to his feet.
The wounds that Megumin inflicted on him just moments ago have completely healed over.
“All we have to do is wait for the insane Crimson Demon to run out of mana! The enemy outranges us, so we will focus on maintaining the barrier! I can draw a limitless amount of mana from the demonic realm, so if we draw this out into a battle of attrition, we’ll be able to take out that insane mage without direct combat!”
The mages around him raised a ragged cheer.
The cloaked angel, not knowing that his plan had been revealed to me, raised his hand towards the barrier and started pouring mana into it.
“He says he’s ‘waiting for the crazy Crimson Demon mage to run out of mana’. He has an unlimited supply of mana, so he can’t be bothered to deal with crazy mages. ‘Just repair the barrier and turn it into a battle of attrition’, or so he says.”
“I’m going to kill him.”
“Wait, Kazuma, did he really say that!? Did he really put it like that!?”
As the cloaked mage and his mage assistants ran around frantically trying to repair the barrier──
Megumin took a deep breath, her eyes shining crimson──
“Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion!!!”
In the face of Megumin’s onslaught, the barrier that has surrounded the Demon King’s castle for so many years instantly crumbled.
The cloaked angel once again became a naked angel. He seemed to be saying something, but…
“Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion! Explosion!!!”
The Explosion shower turned all the mages around him into dust, leaving only the nude and heavily wounded angel in the center of a large field of craters.
As expected of the strongest mage in the world.
Just as I praised his tenacity, Megumin began chanting.
This flow of magic is completely different from anything I’ve seen before.
It wasn’t drawn from the manatite, but instead from Megumin’s own reserves that she had been saving until this point.
[Thanks to Kasen for the colouring]
Right now, Megumin probably has more mana within her than is stored in even the highest grade manatite.
The angel, whose regeneration failed to keep up with the hail of explosions, seemed to notice Megumin’s unusual presence even in his half-dead state and gasped,
“I… Am… The… Strongest… Oldest… Of the Demon King’s Army… My name is…”
Taking the largest Explosion that Megumin has ever unleashed head-on, the angel vanished from this world without us ever knowing his name.
“Thanks for your hard work! Still, this is a horrible sight. I don’t think it was this bad even back when the mobile fortress Destroyer attacked us. Anyway, with this, you really are undoubtedly the world’s strongest… H-Hey, Megumin, your nose is bleeding.”
“Eh? Ah… ”
I noticed her bleed just as I transferred mana to Megumin using Drain Touch.
Upon hearing that, Megumin grabbed her robe to clean the blood off, but only succeeded at spreading it all over her face.
“Oh, come on…”
I used Create Water to drench my handkerchief before wiping her face. Megumin closed her eyes, leaning into my hand and seemingly enjoying the cool sensation.
Did she get so excited that she got a nosebleed?
No, wait, this is…
“Hey, Megumin, why is your cheek so hot? What is going on? This isn’t just from excitement, is it!?”
“N-No, it’s fine. I’m fine. Just watch, I’ll take out the top floors of the Demon King’s castle now…”
Megumin wobbled to her feet, seemingly in a feverish daze as she shakily waved her staff in the general direction of the castle.
Darkness caught her before she could slip and fall.
“Explosion Magic is the strongest offensive magic that humanity is capable of. It’d be stranger still if you are perfectly fine after casting it so many times in quick succession. Casting using manatite involves circulating the mana stored within the crystal through your body. It shouldn’t put too much strain on your body if a healthy person were to cast regular spells with it, but…”
“But it seems to be too much for Megumin’s body…”
“Don’t make it sound like it’s a problem because my body is too small! It’s fine, I can still carry on. Actually, please take me with you!”
I ignored Megumin who was clamouring for me to carry her and started gathering the scattered manatite.
After stuffing them into my rucksack, Megumin instantly extended her arm towards me.
“I’m not letting you cast any more Explosion Magic today. And I’m carrying the bag, so don’t push yourself.”
“…No matter what you say, if you are in danger I’ll still blast away. And this is something you gave me, so I’ll have to insist on carrying it myself.”
In the end, I gave in to the stubborn girl, handing over the rucksack after making her promise that she will only use Explosion if we are in serious danger.
She’s used up quite the number of them during her barrage earlier, so the weight of the rucksack is actually quite manageable, but all the same, the sight of her carrying a large rucksack while wobbling on her feet can’t help but make me worry…
In any case, the biggest obstacle in the way of us entering the castle has been removed.
The surroundings were completely silent, but I still activated my Enemy Detection skill as we warily headed towards the castle.
Even though they should be able to clearly see us approach, no attack came from the castle. They must be in a right panic.
“…Alright, here is where the real work starts. Is everyone ready?”
“Ah, let me take the lead here. Even if a Dragon shows up, I won’t give an inch. Seeing Megumin get all the spotlight is making me a little jealous.”
Darkness, dressed in a very similar fashion to those dark knights that came pouring out of the castle earlier, said with an unexpectedly motivated look on her face.
“Heheheh, I’m afraid the only way to overshadow me today would be to take down the Demon King.”
“Kuh…! The role of a female knight is to be captured by the Demon King, but we came here to take him down… Do I fulfil my role as a female knight or defeat the Demon King…”
“Why do you think we came here? Have you forgotten about Aqua?”
I ignored those two who had no sense of tension at all and carefully approached the main gate.
My Enemy Detection skill didn’t give any response, so I walked through the gate.
A sudden scream of surprise came from out of thin air, causing me to make a similar noise.
Before I could do anything else, a bunch of familiar faces suddenly appeared before me.
“Megumin! Waaah! Megumin! Megumin! I-I-I was so scared! This place is really scary!!”
“W-What’s wrong, Yunyun? You do love to cry, but you look really bad today!”
[Thanks to Kasen for the colouring]
They were Mitsurugi’s party and Yunyun.
“Satou Kazuma, you caught up with us! …Actually, I’m surprised you were safe. Wasn’t the Demon King right outside!?”
Mitsurugi suddenly said.
His two hanger-ons must have gone through quite an ordeal, they both clung onto Mitsurugi with a death grip while trembling and muttering something about the Demon King under their breaths.
…Still, Demon King?
“No, why would the Demon King be outside?”
Yunyun turned towards me, seemingly having calmed down from Megumin’s headpats.
“W-We managed to sneak into the castle thanks to Aqua-san… While we were exploring the castle with the help of the light-refracting spell, the castle was suddenly hit by a mysterious barrage… Aqua-san said that the Demon King must have sensed that his natural enemy, a goddess, has entered his castle and plans to collapse the entire structure to bury us alive, so we rushed to the entrance…”
Darkness and I slowly glanced over to the “Demon King”.
The crimson eyed “Demon King” bearing a large manatite-filled rucksack over her shoulder averted her gaze.
──Oh right, that reminds me!
“Hey, what happened to Aqua, then?”
We finally managed to meet up with them, but the most crucial person is nowhere to be seen.
Yunyun, looking quite apologetic, started explaining, but before she could start, a similarly apologetic Mitsurugi interjected.
“Aqua-sama, um… We got separated… The sudden explosions threw the castle into chaos. In the confusion, we managed to use Yunyun’s spells and my companion’s Lurk skill to make it here, but… She must be close by. She was with us until just a short moment ago. When I took my eyes off her for just an instant…”
She only left my sight for a short time and already she’s off causing trouble.
Actually, how the hell did she even get lost when they were running away together?
“I’m sorry… I couldn’t protect Aqua-sama after saying all that to you… Dammit, what Magic Sword Hero am I? I couldn’t even protect the person I love─!”
“No, wait, sorry to interrupt you while you’re getting emotional, but getting lost is like her signature trait. It happens all the time, so don’t worry about it. More importantly, we should go look for that idiot.”
I said that because I didn’t want Mitsurugi to stay depressed, but the truth is if Aqua somehow ran into a Demon King’s soldier out there by herself, that’d be the end of it.
Considering her luck, she won’t be able to avoid encounters for very long, so we need to find her quickly…
──After stepping into the castle, we decided on our course of action together with Mitsurugi.
“I don’t really want to split up, but it’s an emergency, so we’ll have to in order to look for Aqua. Shout if you run into an enemy. Mitsurugi or Yunyun will come running over. I don’t mean to brag, but we probably won’t be of much use in combat.”
“O-Okay, if you are willing to say it so boldly, then I won’t rely on you in combat. Give us a shout if you run into any problems.”
After telling Megumin and Darkness to stay within shouting distance of Mitsurugi and Yunyun, I activated my Enemy Detection skill and began scouting out the area.
I don’t have much confidence in my combat skills, but one thing I am confident in is my ability to remain undetected and locating people.
Peeling away from everyone, I moved towards the places where Aqua seemed likely to be.
…I don’t sense any enemies nearby.
It seems like most of the people who lived on the first floor were taken out by Megumin’s rampage earlier.
In this case, it’d probably be fine for me to go a little further in. I can detect traps and use the Lurk skill, after all.
“Darkness, let’s go this way. Knowing Aqua, she’s probably found some dark and out-of-the-way place to hide in out of fear of running into any enemies.”
“No, she came in with Yunyun and the others, right? Considering how cowardly she is, she would definitely head towards the widest passageways so she can be more easily noticed…”
Leaving those voices behind me, I once again took a good look at the interior of the castle.
The castle is laid out in more or less the same way as a dungeon.
Torches hang on the walls every few paces, illuminating the hallways.
The entire place was built much like a labyrinth, with twisting and intricate passageways fanning out in all directions, perhaps as a measure against intruders.
Considering this is the Demon King’s castle, I was expecting something far more dark and gloomy, but the interior is actually quite clean and well lit, in contrast to the intimidating exterior.
Well, I suppose even demons don’t like living amidst filth and darkness.
──Just as I was exploring the layout, I suddenly noticed something strange.
Right in a dead end was pasted a piece of paper labeled “Do not push.”
A magic circle lies directly in front of the piece of paper, and next to it is a button.
…This is a little too obvious for a trap.
I activated my Trap Detection skill, and expected, I got a response from the wall.
Unfortunately, the skill doesn’t tell me what kind of trap it is, and I have no idea what mechanism it uses.
I do have the Trap Disarm skill, but I haven’t used it since Chris taught it to me after my first trip into the dungeon, so I’m a little uneasy about relying on it now.
Well, as long as nobody touches it, it shouldn’t do anything…
──Then, it hit me.
Is this really a trap?
Under normal circumstances, no one would be stupid enough to fall for such an obvious trap.
So this must be a camouflage for something else.
Like, for instance, a teleport circle that connects directly to the Demon King’s throne room.
Something like a secret escape hatch placed close to the main gate in case the Demon King needs to escape on short notice…
The fact that my Trap Detection skill is going off means that there is definitely a trap linked to it.
But, thinking of it another way, you could also set up a smaller trap next to the teleporter to mask its presence.
Not everything that sets off my skill would necessarily be life threatening.
A simple trap that drops a blackboard eraser on your head after you teleport would also be picked up by my skill.
The Demon King is still a King, after all.
It wouldn’t be unusual for him to have an escape route prepared. Plus it’s not like he’d be cooped up inside his castle all year round.
It’d be terribly inconvenient to navigate the labyrinth-like path to his throne room every time he leaves or enters the castle, so installing a quick shortcut here would definitely make sense.
And I heard the current Demon King is getting up in age too, so I’m certain this isn’t a trap──!
“Hmph, you might be able to fool those simpletons back there, but you won’t fool me that easily…”
Muttering that confidently to myself, I stood on top of the magic circle and pushed the button labeled “Do not push.”
I was so elated after discovering a secret passage that I forgot to call those guys over first before pushing it.
Well, if my guess is right, this shouldn’t be a one-way passage.
I can confirm what it looks like on the other side and come right back──!
──Before I noticed it, my surroundings had changed completely.
I’m in a small, dark, and cramped room.
There wasn’t a single light source in this place, and It feels like a ghost would pop out at any moment.
On top of that, I could hear the faint sound of a woman sobbing coming from somewhere…
“Shit, it was a trap!”
I couldn’t help but curse, and as I did so, a familiar sounding scream came from the corner of this dimly lit room.
Sitting in the corner was Aqua, hugging her knees to her chest while softly sobbing.
Aqua seemed confused for a moment, before her expression gradually twisted…
“K-Kazuma…! Waaaaah! Kazuma-san, Kazuma-san, Kazuma-san!”
She must have been pretty scared, because she stood up in a state of shock and immediately tearfully leapt at my chest.
At that moment, my innate good luck happened to activate my Auto-Evasion skill, and I elegantly stepped out of the way of that flying leap.
“Waaaaah! Bwaaaaah! Aaaaah!”
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I can’t help it, it’s an automatically triggered skill! Come on, I’m sorry, so stop crying already!”
After slamming into a wall face-first, Aqua has been crying non stop.
You normally end up in far more painful situations, so why now of all times…!
…No, it’s only natural to cry in such a situation. If I went through the same thing, I’d be crying too.
“Hey, keep quiet! We are in the Demon King’s castle! If you keep raising a fuss some of his underlings might come to investigate!”
“But, but…! When I thought we finally met up again, Kazuma, Kazumaaaaa!”
Ah, what a pain in the ass!
“Oh, come on, show me where you hit your face, I’ll fix it up for you… Heal!”
I extended my hand over to the bump on Aqua’s head and casted Heal.
Aqua immediately stopped crying, so it must have worked…
…No, wait, her eyes are widening…
“It-It healed… Kazuma, Kazuma, you used Heal…! Ah, aaah, aaaaah…! Waaaaah! You shitty NEET, you came all this way to steal my role!? You’re not content with just demoting me to the goddess of toilets, now you’ve stolen the only thing I’m good at, too! Alright, bring it on, you thieving NEET! My real enemy isn’t the Demon King, but you! Let’s settle this right now!”
“Stop being a pain in the ass! Do you have any idea how much trouble we’ve gone through while you were off getting lost like a fool!? You even left a letter practically begging us to come after you before running away from home! You really are a handful, you know that!?”
I vented my frustrations at her, and Aqua raised a clenched fist,
“Seems like I have no choice but to give you a taste of divine punishment…! I’ll make you regret angering the Goddess of Water! The water will refuse to come out of the shower just as you are washing your hair!”
“Your punishments are always so petty! Anyway… No, wait!”
After hearing footsteps in the distance, I activated a certain skill.
“I really did hear a woman’s voice.”
“That’s impossible. We are on the top floor, you know? The intruders are still wandering around somewhere on the first.”
That conversation accompanied the sound of footsteps as they drew closer.
The skill I activated was Eavesdrop, a special skill exclusive to the Dark Stalker advanced class.
The person who taught it to me said that despite the class having the word “Stalker” in its name, it’s actually closer to an Assassin and really cool, but…
Then, Aqua, who didn’t know that I picked up such a skill, said,
“What’s wrong? Why are you making funny faces all of a sudden? You’re not challenging me to a ‘who can make the funniest face’ contest, are you? I might be talented, but that would tarnish my image as a beautiful goddess, so…”
“Who the hell would challenge you to such a stupid game!? I’m not making strange faces, I’m focusing! Underlings of the Demon King are coming this way, hurry up and hide!”
Aqua and I scrambled to find a place in the dimly lit room to hide.
“Come to think of it, how did you end up here? Did you press the button too?”
“Yes, I fell for that sophisticated trap that exploits your desire to push something labeled ‘do not push’! I’m sure the Magic Sword Guy and the others will be here before too long.”
“Yeah, that is a fearsome trap that exploits reverse psychology. The others will definitely be here soon, so all we need to do is to buy time… Is there any place to hide…? Oh.”
“I found a pot!” x2
Aqua and I both found a pot large enough to hide a person, and both of us put our hands on it at the same instant.
“…Hey, I found this first. Go find somewhere else to hide.”
“You should be the one to go elsewhere… Ah!”
Opening the lid, I found the pot to be filled with water.
They must be using it to store drinking water.
Aqua let out a smile and brushed her hand through her hair,
“Oh my, seems like only I, the beautiful goddess who can breathe water, can hide in…!”
Seeing Aqua’s smug expression.
“What are you talking about?”
I couldn’t help but deliver a kick to the pot.
The pot cracked open and spilled water everywhere.
“Did you hear that!? There’s definitely someone here!”
“Over there! It’s coming from that room!”
They must have been alerted by that noise. I could hear the voices of the approaching demons even without using the Eavesdrop skill.
“What should we do!? What should we do!?”
“Crap, I can’t believe I made such a mistake. It’s been a while since I interacted with you, so…!”
“I have no idea if you are stupid or smart! What should we do!? We’ll be discovered!──”
“──Who’s there!? Come on out!”
The door opened with a slam.
Aqua and I were hunkered down in a corner of the room in a last ditch effort to remain hidden.
Aqua had a firm grip on the hem of my clothes and pulled me in tightly, perhaps to take advantage of my Lurk skill.
We are both capable of seeing in the dark, so we were able to clearly make out the two demons who came in.
One of them was a knight clad in pitch-black armour.
The other one was a two meter tall ogre with reddish skin and a pair of horns growing from his head.
The two of them scanned through the room..
“…There’s no one here.”
“That’s strange. I could’ve sworn I heard something.”
And, coming from behind them, a voice said,
“No, there’s definitely something in that room. Something annoyingly bright to the point of being blinding!”
The voice of a ghost, wearing a tattered robe and pointing towards where Aqua was hiding, echoed directly in my brain.
“A mere undead, and a mere wraith at that, dares to call me annoying!? You sure are full of yourself! I’ll purify you until there’s nothing left!”
“Dammit, I knew nothing good would happen whenever you are with me!”
Aqua jumped out of the corner to confront the wraith pointing in our direction, and I followed after her with a resigned sigh, drawing the magic sword that Dust gave me.
“I knew it, intruders! Hurry up and get reinforcements… Wait. Don’t these guys seem… Kinda weak?”
“Yeah, doesn’t seem like we’ll have much trouble dealing with them. Are we doing this?”
“Seriously!? Please don’t make me deal with that woman! She’s really dangerous! She smells just like my worst kind of natural enemy!”
Pointing my sword at the Demon King’s underlings who started chatting amongst themselves, I declared to Aqua,
“Aqua, give me some support! Leave the vanguard to me. I’ve awakened to my true power in the short time we’ve been apart! Just stay back and bear witness to my mastery of a thousand skills!”
“Kyaa~! Kazuma-san, you’re so cool! Hey, Kazuma, do you need the buff that makes you a great actor!?”
“Please! That skill is really useful!”
As I took up a battle stance, the Demon King’s underlings did the same.
“T-These guys sure are noisy! Do they not have any sense of urgency!”
“Let’s do this! Let’s tear these two jokers to shreds!”
“I can feel my body growing fainter just by being near this woman!”
As Aqua prepared to cast her support magic, she said with a smile,
“Hey, Kazuma, even though we are in a crisis as usual, even though this isn’t an enviable position at all, for some reason, I feel like I’m having a lot of fun!”
“Dammit, me too! I’m conflicted about feeling this way, but this is just business as usual!”
[Thanks to Kasen for the colouring]
After receiving Aqua’s buffs, we stood back to back.
“Aqua, I’ll leave that wraith to you.”
“I’ll take care of it! Ahahahaha! An undead who dares appear before me must really be tired of this world! What should I do with this wraith? How should I play around with him!?”
“Hey, I don’t know why, but this girl is really scary! She’s really dangerous! Sorry, but can I run away!?”
In some unknown room deep inside the Demon King’s castle, a wraith is being scared near witless by Aqua.
“Payne, let’s switch targets! You and I will take care of this beansprout-looking man! Noss, you take care of that woman that Payne is so afraid of!”
“Right, leave it to me! Payne, if you have to, go ahead and hide behind us!”
“What are you talking about? He’s a vanguard class with nothing but a sword! Dealing with such people is my specialty! Hey, little man, just so you know, physical attacks won’t work on me!”
The ogre-like guy I was facing off against shouted instructions to the rest.
The black knight started inching closer towards Aqua, and the ogre and wraith started advancing on me.
….At this rate, this can only end badly for us.
“Kazuma, now’s your chance! Use ‘that’! Your instant kill ‘that’!”
“That!? What do you mean by ‘that’!? I know I said I’ve awakened and whatnot, but do I really have some secret power that will show itself when I’m in a crisis?”
The three monsters stopped in their tracks, wary of what they were hearing.
“What, no, Kazuma, you’re just an ordinary human that wouldn’t seem out of place anywhere in the world. I’m talking about that! You know, that thing you always do during such situations!?”
I looked back, and Aqua was pointing at her eyes.
…Oh, I see!
“Oh, that’s what you’re talking about! Eat this, Flash!”
This spell would blind me too, but I’m not the kind of man who makes the same mistake twice.
After casting my spell while covering my eyes with my left hand, the ogre and the knight were sent staggering, clutching their eyeballs.
“Dammit, this brat…!”
“Cheap tricks like these…!”
It worked perfectly well on the ogre and the knight, but…
“Hah! I don’t rely on my eyes to see, so that won’t work on me!”
“What about it!? Your friends won’t be able to help you now! And by the time their eyesight returns, you’ll be gone from this world! Aqua, now’s your chance, do it!”
I taunted the wraith while giving instructions to Aqua at the same time…
“K-Kazuma-san! Kazuma-san! W-Where are you!?”
But Aqua was clutching at her eyes just like the two monsters in front of me.
“You are the one who told me to blind them in the first place, so why did you get blinded too!?”
“I didn’t know you learnt such a spell! What I was talking about was your underhanded combo with something earth and whatever breath!”
Aqua, her eyes tightly closed, wandered blearily around for a while before clutching onto my clothes.
Seeing our current state, the wraith let out a victorious crow.
“Too bad, little brat. Since physical attacks don’t work on me, you have no chance of victory! Haha!”
He extended both hands towards me, his face twisting into a wide smile.
His ghostly hands extended to an impossible length, and just before they touched me──
“L-Like I’ll let you!”
I hastily dragged Aqua who was clinging onto me in front and used her as a meat shield.
The both of them screamed at the same time.
Just being close to Aqua is causing his body to grow fainter, so touching her directly is bound to hurt.
“Kazuma, what was that!? I felt really cold all of a sudden!”
“That heartless brat! How could you use your friend as a shield!? Aaah, my arm is disappearing!”
Aqua screamed, her eyes still tightly closed, while the wraith cried out while looking at his right arm.
“P-Payne, what is going on!? I know the woman is a bad match for you, but you should have no problems taking care of the guy, right?”
“I-I can’t do that! Noss, Logia, hurry up and regain your sight already!”
The knight shouted in the completely opposite direction to where the wraith is.
──Well, now I know all of their names.
Payne is the wraith, Noss is the knight, and Logia is the ogre.
Noss and Logia have yet to regain their sight.
And Logia just so happens to have his back turned to Noss, who had his sword raised in front of him.
──I see an opportunity!
“Noss, in front! That man is right in front of you! Get him!”
With the aid of the buff that Aqua casted on me, I imitated Payne’s to instigate Noss, who slashed Logia right across the back.
“Did I get him!?”
“You didn’t get him at all, Noss! You just cut Logia down! Aaah, how did it come to this… You bastard, stop fooling around! How did you imitate my voice so perfectly when we only just met!”
Payne threw himself over the fallen Logia and cried towards me.
“Ahhh, I cut down Logia!? W-What is going on!? Tell me what is going on, Payne!”
Hearing Payne’s cry of anguish, Noss shuddered.
“That man imitated my voice somehow! Noss, don’t do anything until your sight returns! If you cut me with that magic sword of yours, even I will be annihilated!”
“I-I see, okay! I’ll stay right here!”
Noss obeyed and instantly became stock still.
I quickly cleared my throat…!
“Yeah, just stay right there! Seriously, you are a real pain in the ass, you musclehead! I thought you were a fool for a while now, but I can’t believe you would drag us down like this at a time like this…!”
“P-P-P-Payne!? I-I-Is that what you really think of me!?”
“N-N-No! That was said by that man…! Damn you, what are you grinning about! I’ll kill you!”
While wary of Aqua who I’ve used as a meat shield earlier, Payne rushed over in a furious rage.
He thinks that Aqua is the only weapon I have capable of hurting him right now, but I have a magic sword too!
“Ouch! T-That is a magic sword!? Dammit, you look like a rookie at first glance, but you have some pretty good equipment on you! But now that I’m this close, the battle is mine! Eat this, the ultimate technique of the undead, Drain Touch!”
While Aqua and Noss were still struggling to regain their eyesight, Payne and I grappled with each other.
I stabbed at Payne with the magic sword that Dust gave me, while Payne grabbed me and started draining my mana.
“Dammit, get away from me! Heal! Heal!”
“Ow-ow-ow-ow! Y-You can use recovery magic too!? But too bad, it seems like my Drain Touch is sucking away more life force than your unpolished sword skills and your magic can take away!”
This isn’t good. My consciousness is starting to fade.
I wanted to use my anti-undead shield, but not only was Payne wary of me, even the shield herself is on guard against me, preventing me from making use of her.
I quickly shoved my left hand into Payne’s translucent body.
“What are you… Hyaaaaa!? Y-You, you are clearly a human, so why can you use Drain Touch!? S-S-S-Stop! I’m going to disappear!”
Using Drain Touch, I siphoned back the mana that Payne was draining from me.
The ghostly mana flowing around my body sent chills down my spine.
I get the feeling that accepting mana from an undead creature into your body isn’t terribly good for your health.
Now I understand why Wiz isn’t fond of draining mana from monsters.
Thinking back to the times I drained mana from Megumin and Aqua, I couldn’t help but…
“Graaaah! M-My body is… Why are you smiling like that!?”
“I’m thinking that there’s no meaning in draining mana from a ghost! I felt far more fulfilled when I drained mana from a beautiful female mage!”
“You drained mana from a beautiful female mage…!? S-So jealous…! I understand how you feel. If we met under different circumstances I would’ve loved to talk about drain feel… But right now we are enemies. It’s about time we settle this, human!”
If only you weren’t a wraith, we could’ve shared a few drinks together…!
“Here I go, my serious Drain─!”
Just as we were about to go all out, Aqua punched Payne and destroyed him.
“Undead are but child’s play for my might. How was I? Wasn’t I cool?”
“You really need to learn how to read the mood one of these days…”
Aqua, fishing for praise, jumped all around me, but now is not the time for that…
“Y-You bastards, how dare you…!”
Noss, who regained his eyesight just like Aqua did, approached us, his heavy armour clanging.
I readied my sword, but to be honest, I’m not sure if any of my attacks would be able to make it past his plating.
“Hey, Aqua, this guy is acting like a protagonist seeking revenge for his fallen friends despite being the guy who cut them down in the first place.”
“As expected of a knight of the Demon King’s army, he truly is vile to the core.”
“Y-You were the one who set me up to cut down my friends! You still have the nerve to say that!?”
I tried to provoke him in order to throw him off, but as expected of an enemy of this caliber, he didn’t take the bait or give me an opening.
Facing a trained knight, there’s little chance I could exploit the gaps in his armour.
Even if I wanted to use Drain Touch on him, I couldn’t touch any part of his body.
…Suddenly, Noss slashed at me without any prior movement at all.
“…Hm? Well, you certainly are no slouch when it comes to dodging. I didn’t expect my blade to be dodged so cleanly…”
Fortunately, my Auto-Evasion skill activated, allowing me to deftly evade Noss’s sword.
This isn’t good. To be honest, I couldn’t even see his slash.
As expected of a knight guarding the last dungeon. There’s no way for me to defeat him in a straight up sword fight.
But as a gamer, I’m well aware that these muscleheads are weak to magic.
This is common knowledge in games of all kinds from the very beginning.
I cast Intermediate Magic, and a bolt of blue lightning burst out from my outstretched right hand into Noss.
Noss trembled, sword slipping out of his hand.
“K-Kazuma-san really knows a lot of skills! You defeated your opponent in a head-on fight like the protagonist of some legend! This feels really strange!”
“S-Shut up. There are times when I feel like fighting properly, you know!?”
As Aqua excitedly shouted and celebrated, Noss picked up the sword that he dropped,
“Sorry to interrupt you while you are celebrating, but I was just startled. That spell only gave me a little jolt, that’s all.”
“…Don’t mind! Don’t worry about it, Kazuma! Though, I’m a little relieved.”
“Oh shut up! You two have been making fun of me for some time now! I was hoping to conserve my mana, but in this situation I have no choice but to use my trump card!”
After hearing my declaration, Noss raised his sword in front of him and lowered his center of gravity.
Aqua looked on nervously behind me, but this is fine. There’s no need for her to worry.
I have a sure-fire move that will instantly take out any creature with low magic resistance.
“Is it a beam!? Are you finally going to shoot a beam!?”
Aqua excitedly hopped about as she fussed over me. Seems like she wasn’t worried about me at all.
I quietly chanted my spell while withstanding Aqua’s expectant gaze.
Upon seeing that, Noss lowered his stance even further.
“I don’t know what you are trying to do, but the moment you unleash your spell, I’ll pierce your stomach. I’ll even tell you what technique I’ll use. It’ll be a thrust. I’m going to run you through with a thrust. If you dodge this attack like before, the woman behind you will get hit instead.”
“…You heard that, Aqua!? You better dodge with all your might!”
“You’re talking like you’re already planning to dodge it! Hey, don’t you have any desire at all to protect this frail and beautiful goddess!?”
I observed Noss’s movements.
Right now, my chant has been concluded, and I can unleash the spell at any time.
I’m a little concerned about how Aqua is holding on to my back.
Is she planning to use me as a shield?
Using a companion as a meatshield is really unbecoming of a goddess, or even as a regular human being.
…Is she holding a grudge over how I used her as a shield against the wraith?
“…Just who are you people? Where did you come from? It was only a short while ago that I heard about the barrier being destroyed. Only the most skilled of intruders would be able to make it all the way to the upper floors… Though, I think the guys in charge of traps set this place as the destination for one of their teleport traps that they created as a joke…”
Noss muttered to himself, his sword wavering slightly, before suddenly looking up like he had some manner of revelation.
“Y-You… I didn’t think it was possible, but did you two fall for that joke of a trap?”
“T-T-That’s not it! I saw through that trap! I knew that this is the quickest way to the Demon King’s chambers, so I activated it on purpose!”
“Y-Yeah, me too. I knew that there was no way that could be an actual trap! My unclouded eyes identified it as a shortcut from the very start!”
In response to Aqua and my frantic explanations, Noss let out a prolonged “…Eeeh” before saying,
“You definitely fell for…”
“Don’t you dare finish that sentence! Eat this!”
The moment I unleashed my spell, Noss leapt at me with the tip of his sword pointed directly at my stomach.
Dammit, I was planning to take him by surprise, but his reactions are too fast!
If I had casted any other spell, neither of us would be able to get out of this unscathed.
However, my trump card was…!
“!? Heheh, Teleport, huh!? Pity, but teleporting me is─!”
Noss kept his sword outstretched before him, but was whisked away before it could reach me.
For some reason, only his armour was left behind, which collapsed to the ground with a loud clatter.
“Teleport too…! How did this happen? This man really did have a trump card up his sleeve! …By the way, where did you send him?”
“Axel’s police station.”
Right now I have two locations registered as destination spots, directly in front of the police station in Axel, and the lowest level of the dungeon I went to with Vanir and Wiz.
I could’ve sent him to the dungeon, but I did make a promise with Vanir to go back there to haul all the remaining treasure back once we returned to Axel.
There is a chance that the knight would be waiting there to kill me the moment I teleported to the dungeon, so I chose not to take that risk.
“Wouldn’t the police officers cry if you sent someone like that over to them?”
“When you are in trouble, you should rely on the power of the state. They deal with the thugs in town and rowdy adventurers every day, so they should be able to deal with a single monster… Well, now that I’ve awakened, such opponents are but mere trifles to me.”
I said with a relaxed smile, and Aqua suddenly approached me with twinkling eyes,
“I’m relieved to see you’re still relying on others! It’s really best that Kazuma-san has a bit of a small-fry aura about him!”
“Ahahaha, you little brat! If you keep saying such things, I’m going to teleport home by myself.”
“Oh, Kazuma-san, you’re such a joker! Ahahaha… It was a joke, right? You’re joking, right!?”
Ignoring Aqua’s whining, I looked around the room.
The only things left in this room was the corpse of the poor ogre who was cut down by his trusted companion and the armour that Noss was wearing.
“Why didn’t his armour get teleported with him?”
“…That guy who got transported probably had low magic resistance. You remember how that Dullahan had sacred magic resistance on his armour, right? If he fails to resist the spell, he might end up instantly losing depending on where he was sent. So he must have placed an enchantment on the armour to protect against teleportation. Which would be fine if it just prevented teleportation magic, but if he got ahead of himself and placed the enchantment on the armour itself…”
“So the armour didn’t get transported, but the guy inside was? Isn’t it just defective, then?”
“I wouldn’t know. It just sounds like what a musclehead knight would do.”
So, that guy who was so confidently telling me about how Teleport wouldn’t work on him actually ended up stark naked in front of the police station?
No, I’d like to think that he’s at least wearing clothes under his armour…
“I thought there was a problem with my instant kill technique, but if that’s the case, then it’s fine. Anyway, let’s just wait for the other guys to catch up.”
“Yeah. With a trap like that, I’m sure everyone will be with us before long.”
Indeed. This is a trap that even I fell for. I’m sure they’ll fall for it too.
Convinced of that, Aqua and I decided to sit in the corner of the room and wait for everyone else──