38.2 The Assault on a Fortress by the Aberrant Overlord, and the Operation to Purge the Frontier Territory
[Just blow the whistle already! Blow as hard as you can!]
The leader shouts.
[Do that and the peasant soldiers down below will come! If we show those unmotivated peasant soldiers the sight of these people being devoured by the insects, it’ll serve as a lesson for them!!]
Of the insects, 6 of the long ones with black husks still remain. Those are his favorite.
[Their shells can’t be pierced by ordinary swords. Go, 《Black Centipede》!!]
From under the leader’s feet, 6 centipedes crawl out. They’re large and their overall lengths are probably about the height of 2 adult men. Their countless legs eerily creep about underneath bodies that are covered by lustrous black husks.
[What is it?]
[Th, they probably didn’t hear the whistle, so let us personally call them!] [May we? We may, right?!]
[……You two, you’re trying to escape.]
The leader points a finger at his subordinates. At that signal, 2 centipedes begin to move.
The subordinates swing down their swords, yet the shells of the centipedes don’t yield. There aren’t even any scratches on them. The centipedes continue without pause and push down the subordinates. Then, with a creaking sound, gishigishi, they sink their fangs into their bodies.
The 2 subordinates, now on the ground, foam from their mouths and faint. Despite that, the leader doesn’t withdraw the insects.
[Why won’t you say you’ll fight together with me? The cult’s enlightened realm doesn’t have a place for cowards like you!]
[The way you’re treating your subordinates doesn’t impress me!!]
The red-haired girl’s konbou bashes a giant centipede. The impact sends the centipede rolling to the side. However, that’s all. The centipede remains unharmed. Its red eyes glow as it cries out in anger.
[Aniue-sama, my konbou doesn’t look to be effective. May I borrow Aniue-sama’s sword?]
[Got it. Here you go.]
[Is it 『Super-hard』?」
[Yes. It’s super-hard.]
[Ah, unfair. I, too, as a sworn imouto, desire Nii-sama’s sword!] (Lizette)
[Wasn’t Nee-sama was carrying a 『super-hard longsword』 to begin with?]
[There’s no meaning if it isn’t handed over by Nii-sama personally! Moou!]
The 3 intruders laugh.
[……What in the world are these people.]
Cold sweat brakes out on the cult leader’s forehead. Even though the centipedes are approaching them, they aren’t the slightest bit afraid.
[Why aren’t you scared?! Why, even when you’re being cornered?!]
The leader doesn’t even know what they’re doing.
Despite that, he has a feeling that they are dangerous. 『Absolutely never get involved with them』── such is his primal fear. However, he can’t leave from there. That’s why the leader believes more in the fighting power before his eyes than his own intuition.
[It’s already too late to do anything now! You shall be devoured, intruders!]
The longswords swung by three masked intruders cut through the large centipede’s body.
The wounded insects shriek, and the leader lets out an idiotic sound.
The swords of the intruders had easily cut through the outer shells of the giant centipedes.
Up until now, the centipede mamono have probably never been hurt before. They forget about the enemies before their eyes and writhe around as they continue to screech.
[One more time, 『Claire Flare!!』]
The silver-haired girl releases her magic at the torn black shells. The blue flames dives into the bodies of the centipedes── and roast the flesh of the mamono from the inside.
The leader feels that the man is breathing fire as well but wonders whether it’s actually an illusion produced by his fear. Even he, having attacked them without a question asked, quickly had his weapon destroyed. Rather, for a longsword to cleanly cut through a first rate sword, what the hell is that? The moment he thought of that── his mind blanked.
[…… Ho, how is this…… happening to me……?]
Once the leader comes to, he is already tied up. The intruders, as if having lost interested in the leader, have left him in the room.
Then── after a bit, shrieks like, “What?!” or “Gugyah!” begin rising up from the other parts of the fortress. Afterwards, signs of rummaging around here and there along with the sounds of people collapsing follows.
The fortress is controlled by the leader’s direct subordinates. Should all of them be crushed, all that will remain are the forcibly conscripted peasant soldiers. He doesn’t think they’d be a match for the intruders in the slightest.
Should that fortress end up annihilated, he won’t be able to face the Daidoushi.
Furthermore, the cult is built on a doctrine of meritocracy. The other leaders will not pardon his losing the fortress.
[There it is, the magic circle!]
[……Magic circle, they say?]
The cult leader inadvertently mutters out.
Speaking of which, there is a strange pattern drawn on the floor of storage room. He couldn’t understand its significance and it wasn’t useful to him, so he had left it alone, but…… that was why they came? Still, what did it mean?
[……who’s being kept on standby……]
[……for ice magic to have a turn.]
[……-chan is going to become a lord.]
They’re talking about something. Another person seems to be coming from the outside.
The leader, who had fallen onto the floor, desperately tries to listen−−
The fortress is enveloped by a white light.
[……What? What’s going on?]
In the air, pure particles of light still remained. They are strange…… but not unpleasant. Rather, the light is soothing.
The remains of the insects, bathing in that light, vanish. It was as if they had dissolved. Neither their bodily fluids, a piece of their thousands of legs, nor even fragments remain.
[It’s over, it’s over. Well then, shall we go back?]
They’re going back?!
The leader cries out in silence.
That’s great. With that, he can focus on restoring the fortress.
The second Doushi, 『Glia Treasure』-sama is on the ground. If he gives me his insects, we can return to how it was. We’ll be able to control the peasant soldiers with fear. The cult isn’t finished yet……
[What should we do after this? Should we momentarily return home?] (Lizette)
[We hardly did any fighting. Let’s look for the next fort.] (Souma)
[You’re right, Aniue-sama. There might be a magic circle in the other one too.] (Haruka)
[I, too, am in agreement. Only 1 fort remains. I believe cleaning up there and then going home would be easier.]
Did they just say only 1 fortress remains? The cult only has 4 fortresses, but…… ignoring that one, what happened to the other 2?!
[Have you finished your work? We’ve come to take you homeー]
[The rear guard is ready tooー, but it looks like they weren’t neededー]
[We’ve dropped the cloth with the letters written on itー. The soldiers-san have read itー.]
From outside the fortress comes more voices. The leader, having fallen on the floor, can’t see them. Soon after comes a sound like large wings flapping…… and then he no longer senses the presences the intruders.
[…………What was that…… all about just now?]
The leader, still on the floor mutters to himself.
Tied up by ropes, he can’t move a muscle. The interior of the fort is quiet. Probably, his direct subordinates have also been tied up like him.
The leader crawls over the floor towards the subordinates he had his insects attack. They are apparently unconscious, but one has a whistle for summoning the peasant soldiers on his chest── it’s a flute. Once he finally reaches them, the leader takes a deep breath and blows the flute without stopping. He blows over and over. Then again and again.
A few moments later, the leader hears footsteps. Appearing before him are the dozens of peasant soldiers that the cult gathered by raiding villages.
Their eyes open wide at the sight of the leader on the ground before them.
[You’ve done well in coming! Brave soldiers of the cult!!]
The leader shouts.
[Some mysterious intruders have defeated the insects given to us by the Great Founder, and I also was brought to a state like this. At this rate, our reputation will be ruined!]
The leader raises his body as he shouts, striving to maintain what little dignity he has left.
[This will not be the end! We’re going to uncover the identities of people who invaded our fortress, and we’ll make them regret ever being born! Now, first of all, untie my restraints. Then, for the pride of the cult………… ano ………… hey?!]
The peasant soldiers, all of them, are expressionless. They look down at the fallen leader, muttering simple, “eeh,” “buu,” and “hoーn.”
Several people run into the other rooms, only to return a few tens of seconds later. All of them are smiling for some reason. They make circles with both of their arms. The other peasant soldiers respond with, “I seeー. So the leader and his lot are all been incapacitatedー, you say.”
[What are you doing?! Hurry and fulfil your orders! Those who defy shall be fed to Doushi 『Glia Treasure』-sama’s insects!!]
The leader raises his voiceー and then realizes it. Peasant soldiers are coming up to the fortress. However, the Doushi’s figureis nowhere to be seen.
Doushi 『Glia Treasure』 should’ve been down on the ground to keep the peasant soldiers from escaping the encampment. He should’ve heard the whistle. Yet, for some reason he hadn’t come……
[Doushi Glia Treasure, he disappeared.]
[Just now, when the fortress glowed, he vanished. He left behind a large crystal, you see. That guy, he came from the sky and took it. The insects threatening us too, they’re all gone.]
[Im, Impossible! Th, That’s right. Search the storage! The intruders must have done something in there. If you destroy that, the Doushi-samawill be resurrected……]
[We couldn’t enter the storage.]
The peasant soldier replies as he looks down at the cult leader with cold eyes.
[The storage is surrounded by a huge 『wall of ice』. We can’t even get close to it. Then again, there’s no point in us doing that.]
[The Doushi and insects are gone. And now, you’re tied up like this.]
[You’re the cult leader who forced us to come here and fight for you.]
The peasant soldiers slowly draw closer. Cold sweat runs down the leader’s back. He can’t understand the situation. All he knows is that the Doushi and the insects are no longer there.
Cold sweat runs down his back.
In other words…… his allies are no longer there.
[…………Ano…… ano na…… I…… about that,]
The leader pales.
Eerie laughter begins to leak out from the mouths of peasant soldiers.
[[[[How dare you attack our villages, raid our crops…… and push us around……]]]]
[Wait, wait, that was for the cult’s noble goal…… that’s right, for the sake of the new dynasty! A new dynasty would be great, yes? Once we create a new dynasty, you people shall be Eiyuu1! Eh? No? Then, Shogun! Eeeii, how about Daishogun2!? An army whose soldiers are all Daishogun is a historic revolution──── ah!]
The cult leader’s screams echo within the 『Cult of Awakening Contentment』’s fortress.