39. Traces, Exhausted and Written in Brush
Reiji is taken by a feeling that they’ll be seeing something incredible. The smell of iron mixing with a stench of something rotted chokes him as it assails his nose. Then, for some reason, the air turns warm. Goosebumps break out across his body.
Can’t the others feel it? Or am I just not used to it? Or maybe they’re all pretending not to be able to see it? Is the calmness exhibited by the soldier only superficial? Are they hiding a maelstrom of nervousness deep inside? Only Hadrias remains steady fast. Titania’s eyes betray her, they depict her nervousness.
Reiji casts his gaze downward and rubs his eyes. The rain water that flows out from underneath the leaves, maybe the light is playing tricks on him, but it sometimes flickers red.
A sudden clearing appears through the trees.
“….This is.” Everyone hears Hadrias’s gasp. The situation is just like the scouts reported. Everyone doubts their eyes, but the scene before them is one littered with the corpses of mazoku.
“What is this….” Reiji too stares at the scene before him. It is beyond words. A terror filled sigh escapes him. The scouts brought everyone away from the mountains to the vast plains where they see a deep fissure, ground that was melted due to being exposed to high temperatures now cooling and hardening, something like an iceberg jutting into the sky, an incomprehensible black marsh, and the uncountable remains of mazoku.
What the heck happened here? The bright sun shining through the clouds illuminates a scene no one would ever expect to see, a countless number of corpses. A natural disaster appears to have struck. No matter how you look at it, that’s what this looks like.
That’s also the only way anyone can describe this. Reiji can still hear the mazoku’s agonizing death screams if he strains his ears. It’s a gruesome sight. Even though they’re mazoku, the surrounding carnage evokes a sense of pity. It’s a painting straight out of hell; it’s hell on Earth.
With the scouts and soldiers leading the way, Reiji follows Hadrias from atop of his horse. “This is a road…right?”
The straight path before their eyes is a blemish to the surrounding carnage. Only there is the destruction that surrounds them absent. There are no traces of blood or pieces of flesh. It’s as if someone just forced his way through- no as if that person were determined to go that way. That person went straight to the foot of the mountain without hesitating or curving even once. The corpses of mazoku lay scattered alongside the road’s entirety.
Mizuki mummers from the back, “Result of magic…”
“I’m positive. Magic caused all of this.” She speaks with complete certainty. She trembles as she surveys their surroundings and gestures to the unnatural iceberg and melted ground. “They are the result of magic.”
“You understand it well, Mizuki…”
“No, really. There are faint remains of magic residue. The ice and molten earth still emit traces of their magical procedure.”
“….You’re right.” Reiji focuses his vision as he sharpens his senses. He too has, [Detect Remnants]. He didn’t understand how to use it before, but now, the magical procedure is clear to him. It’s like a thick cloud has been cleared away. However, the residue within the molten earth and ice hold a surgically precise magical procedure. Spells only need to be complicated enough to defeat mazoku. Yet, the remains here are incredibly detailed— “Mizuki, what is this?”
“Yeah, whoever created these magical procedures is incredibly skilled. I can’t understand them at all…. It might not even be the same magic we’re using.”
“True, but a sophisticated technique like that, does it have any use except against large numbers like this?”
This isn’t normal. The large mazoku army was destroyed out of nowhere. The belief that this situation was impossible vanishes from Reiji’s head.
As impossible as it is, this isn’t a situation in which two large armies clashed against one another. If two such powers did collide, then casualties would have been incurred from both sides. Instead, every corpse here belongs to the mazoku. More importantly, before all that, where would such a powerful army even come from? Preparing such a military force and unifying it around a powerful spell caster is impossible. Yet, it’s that sort of overwhelming event that seems to have happened.
The horses, sensitive to the tension everyone is releasing, cry out. Everyone, while attempting to soothe their restless horses, continues forward on the damp path. They hear Titania say, “This is…!?”
Hadrias’s gasp follows hers as she stops to stare. He says, “Even a Baymass….”
Reiji and his party, prompted by Hadrias’s low groan, also investigate. It’s the remains of an enormous mazoku. “It- It’s huge…”
The body is no less than 200 meters long. To Reiji, its size invokes the image of a pitch black cruiser. The massive beast possesses thick, leathery skin, limbs unproportioned to its body, and a giant horn. Its dimmed, large scarlet eyes are wide open in fright. A terrifying power caused it to freeze up in fear. According to Mizuki, the missing half of the demon’s body was buried underground with magic.
“To take down a special, second class demon…” Fear captures Titania’s heart. She names the demon’s rank, but forgets to follow up with an explanation. She just breathes in and out because of shock.
The Baymass is a substantial mamono compared to the surrounding mazoku and mamono. The surrounding soldiers, Gregory and his knights, and Hadrias look at it with grim expressions. The remaining soldiers soon draw near and are also overwhelmed by astonishment. The weakening of knees that overcomes everyone is not from fatigue, but from incredibleness of their surroundings.
“Th-this…situation…. As reported, the mazoku have been annihilated. I’d say all of them are gone.” Many soldiers speak with anticipation as they drop onto their knees and swallow their saliva.
Hadrias maintains his stern expression. He refrains from putting on airs or saying anything foolish.
“Who did this?”
“Ha, ha, there might be more than 10,000 here….”
That’s when everyone forgets themselves. Ten thousand, no one doubts the number. Everyone roars in exhilaration. Once they return to their senses, Hadrias speaks his disbelief. “Except, that figure doesn’t appear to match the number of corpses?”
“Te- Ten thousand….”
Another soldier says, “As frightening as it sounds, the number is reasonable once the scope of the mazoku’s offence is calculated.”
Hadrias once more makes a grim face upon hearing the scout’s words. His voice is one of surprise mixed with multiple emotions.“Wasn’t the estimate 1,000 before?” Against that number, they would have mounted only a brief struggle. Even the most excellent strategy would falter against such an unimaginable number.
Hadorias readjust his expression as Titania glances towards him. “We miscalculated the mazoku forces. I shiver at what might have happened had they attacked Metal or Klant—”
“What happened here? When could this have occurred? Hadrias-kyo, do you have any ideas?”
Hadrias shuts his eyes as he considers Titania’s questions. He soon arrives to an answer, “….I cannot think of a single person who might be responsible for this, but there was a furious thunderstorm seven days ago. I believe the mazoku must have been eliminated then.”
“During the thunderstorm…”
Hadrias continues his lie after Titania’s murmur. He says, “According to a bishop from the Salvation Church, the goddess was shaking with fury that day. That thunder may have been the embodiment heaven’s fury.”
Could this really be Goddess Arushna’s deed? Impossible, there’s no way a convenient development like that could have happened. If such situations were possible, then there would be no need for Yuusha. But this just deepens the mystery. With no idea as to what happened, all they can do is guess.
During the middle of that conversation, Mizuki’s anxious voice leaks out, “Suimei-kun, I hope you’re okay.”
“I hope so, too….” Reiji is in complete sync with her anxious feelings. Just where is Suimei? It would be great if the mazoku were eliminated before—
“Mazoku! There are survivors!”
Everyone turns around to look towards the warning. A soldier that was searching the area screams there are still mazoku.
The remaining mazoku swarm the sky. Whether they mixed themselves among the corpses or are fling in from somewhere close by is uncertain.
Hadrias draws his sword from atop of his horse as he issues quick commands to the surrounding soldiers, “—They’re coming towards us! All hands, prepare for battle!” They move without flaw. The soldiers armed with spears take formation to fend off the mazoku while the spell casters line up behind them and begin chanting.
While Hadrias gives out orders, Reiji turns towards Luka. “Luka-san, protect Mizuki!”
“I’m going to back them up. Mizuki, wait here with Luka-san. Tia!”
Reiji gives some quick orders and draws his sword. “Tia, back me up with magic! Let’s use our horses to attack from the side!” There is a group of soldiers trying to ambush the mazoku from the side. He rides his horse to the same place with Titania, Loffry, and Gregory following close behind. Meanwhile, Hadrias commands his soldiers left and right.
The soldiers already have the mazoku surrounded by the time Reiji and his party arrive. While a spearman restrains a leaping mazoku, a spell caster uses that gap to cast a spell. They have complete control over the situation. Not only do they demonstrate a magnificent grasp on both combat theory and tactics, each soldier also possesses a high combat ability. The way they are now, they’re able to suppress the mazoku without injury.
Despite what the situation looks like, the mazoku are also desperate. With their main fighting force destroyed, they can’t allow any more casualties.
Casualties, they appear on battlefields. Their defeat has already been decided, but the amount dead continues to rise. This battle won’t end until humanity’s rejected enemy is eliminated. There is no turning back for the mazoku. They do not fear death and all that awaits them is death. That’s when the mazoku deals a powerful strike against the soldier’s stomach.
The weapons of the fallen soldiers tell everything that happened on this dangerous battlefield.
Before long, against enemies with no regard to their own life, the line crumbles and the soldiers are pushed back. The mazoku rampage in their attempts to reach as many people as possible. As the soldiers are dragged into free-for-alls, their lives are endangered.
Hadrias saves the lives of his soldiers by plunging his giant, black steed into the fray and bisecting the mazoku before him with a single swing of his sword. Yet, despite his feat, several mazoku slip through his sides. They’re aiming for Luka and Mizuki.
Reiji is on the opposite end of the field. It’s already too late the moment he realizes that. The flying mazoku are like jets. There’s no way Luka will be able to fight properly while defending Mizuki. Even if Mizuki were to join, the battle would still be two against three.
Titania calls out on reflex regardless of whether he can hear her or not. Gregory does turn his horse around, however— “Ku! Mizuki-dono, please, just hold on!”
“Ye, ah, yes!”
Luka manipulates her horse into escaping from the mazoku, but the muddy ground disrupts the horse’s footing. The obstacle is minor, but in this situation, that small problem has deadly consequences. Balance is snatched away from the horse’s footing as it stumbles.
“Damn— Stain Scarlet!” With a swear, Reiji throws magic fire at the mazoku. Titania follows up with her own spell, but fails to hit the suicide-running mazoku.
This is bad! If nothing changes…
The mazoku fast approach Mizuki and Luka. Mizuki faces the mazoku with her own magic, but only succeeds on setting them ablaze. The mazoku do not die.
Anyone who can help is too far away. Reiji feels a chill run down his spine.
Something’s happening. Reiji sees it with his peripheral. A tornado of white flame takes form and tears through the heavens. A pure white blaze envelops the attacking mazoku. The white flames scatter across the sky, incinerating all within.
“That magic! It can’t be?”
Reiji and Titania cry out in shock and realization.
What just happened? Right as Reiji discerns the answer, he hears the gallop of a horse. Someone is approaching them, and not at a normal speed. Could magic have been cast on the horse? It’s as fast as a meteor. As a distinct figure comes into view, Titania cries out in joy. “—White Flame-dono!”
Riding on that horse is the one who called Reiji and his friends into this world. Clad in a pure white robe, the Imperial Court Magisterium, Felmenia Stingray.
Reiji shouts as he turns towards Felmenia. “Sensei!? What are you doing here!?”
“Yuusha-dono! We can exchange stories later! There are still mazoku remaining!”
“O- Of course!”
At Felmenia’s rebuke, Reiji turns his horse around and slashes his orichalcum sword at a mazoku. While bisecting the mazoku’s top from its bottom, he hears Hadrias say, “Spell casters, prepare another round of magic!”
The army jumps into action at the powerful command. Soon, the soldiers skillfully drive back the mazoku and the spell casters exterminate them with their magic. Dirt and debris fly everywhere as a great number of spells explode. The rising smoke and steam lowers visibility of their surrounds. The mazoku are annihilated and there are no signs of anything still alive beyond the veil of smoke and vapor.
Felmenia dismounts and pulls her horse along. “Your highness-hime, Reiji-dono, Mizuki-dono, a long while has passed since I have last heard from you.”
Titania closes her eyes and nods in appreciation as Reiji and Mizuki respond to Felmenia’s greeting.
“Long time no see, sensei.”
“Felmenia-san, thank you very much. You saved me.”
Felmenia takes Mizuki’s hand within her own while saying, “No, I was just passing by. But, I’m so glad I was.” Mizuki smiles and thanks her again. Felmenia turns towards Hadrias. They exchange a few words and he lowers his head. Are the two acquainted with one another? Their words are business like, but her tone carries the same repulsion as Titania’s.
Titania once more expresses her appreciation. “White Flame-dono, you have my gratitude. However, what brings you to this place?”
“Fumu, have you not heard? His majesty has relieved me from my position as the Imperial Court Magisterium.”
Felmenia maintains a humble expression as Hadrias joins the conversation. “Haa, instead of fulfilling the duties of Imperial Court Magisterium, I am currently acting under his Majesty’s direct orders.”
“By imperial command….” Felmenia being relieved from her duties as the Imperial Court Magisterium surprises Reiji. If this was a direct order from King Almadias, that means— “Were you asked to come help us?”
“No, I was not….”
“White Flame-dono, what are your orders?”
Felmenia doesn’t answer Titania’s question. Could the decree be so severe that she can’t answer the princess’s question? Well, it is an order from the king.
A breathless soldier runs up to them during the middle of their conversation. “Ho… reporting!” Tensions run high as everyone wonders if any mazoku remain. Reports are coming from all around, even the forest, but no mazoku have been found.
Hadrias asks the soldier a question, “What happened?”
“Th- The Empire’s third princess, Graziella Filas Raizeld broke through our border with a squad of soldiers!”
It’s an emergency report. The soldier chokes as he reports the information. Titania’s face twists in terror as she says, “Her highness, Princes Graziella!?”
“Ha… ha…! Her highness forced her way across Aster’s national border without notifying any of the stationed troops. They’ve already passed Klant and are coming here.”
“For what reason?”
“— Isn’t that obvious, Hakumei-dono?”
A voice brimming with authority forces itself into the conversation. Titania turns in shock towards it and finds a woman crossing through the smoke.
T/N: Okay, I know I promised Friday, but stuff happened last weekend. Then, during the end of that, I got sick. That made translating really hard. I’m just now starting to feel better, but I’m behind schedule. As a result, there won’t be an update this Friday. You’re going to have to count this one for two. Anyway…
I’m not sure what the author is trying to say with Baymass. The katakana goes “Be-I-Ma-Su.” Honestly, it makes me think of Big Hero 6. If anyone has any ideas to what it could mean, I’m all ears.
Finally, did anyone else feel that excitement at Felmenia’s appearance? To be honest, with all the tension building up to it, I was hoping Megumin would show up shouting “Explosion!”