“Well, first of all… Amanokawa, charge forward!”
While Hajime and the Frost Turtle let out enormous waves of pressure towards each other from their killing intent, Kouki had thought they would start fighting. Instead, he was called forward, and thus gave Hajime a startled response.
“No ‘eh’, charge forward and quickly crush that turtle.”
“W-why me?” Kouki asked instinctively.
Hajime turned around and gave him an amazed look while continuing to shoot down the surrounding monsters one shot at a time.
“Ah, you guys came here to do what? It’s not likely to count if we just do it all for you…”
“… A that’s right!”
“Amanokawa, use all of your power to crush the big guy. The other three of you (Suzu, Ryuutaro, Shizuku), support him while the rest of us keep the small fries off of you. Do it quickly. If you wuss out, I’ll finish the job.” Hajime smiled provocatively.
Kouki gave a strong nod, flames of determination sprouting in his eyes.
“Leave it to me. I’ll show you I can absolutely knock it down. Shizuku… Suzu, Ryuutaro, Let’s go!”
“Oo, Let’s go!”
“I’ll cover you. Take care of the icicles behind me. There may be some trick to them.”
“Leave the defense to me. I’ll show you I can protect everyone!”
After everyone answered energetically, a silver flash struck the monsters near the Frost Turtle, disintegrating them in an instant.
“Go! Don’t do anything rash!”
Thanks to Kaori’s silver bombardment of disintegration, an easy route had been opened up between Kouki’s party and the Frost Turtle. They ran forward while thanking her.
While its red eyes shone, the gap they formed immediately began to fill with demons once again.
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“What are you doing? Your opponent is me! Trembling Heaven Triagram!”
As the turtle was focused on Hajime, Kouki’s party ran towards the Frost Turtle while Kouki shouted out his favored technique.
A killer attack of light flew forward, directly striking the eerily shining eyes of the Frost Turtle and tearing them up. A shock wave followed, hallowing that wound.
With part of its head crushed, and only one eye remaining, the Frost Turtle raised a roar while shooting killing intent at Kouki’s party. This was all going according to Kouki’s plan.
And with its mouth gaping open, a breath of ice and snow was expelled out!
Spiraling like a tornado filled with ice chips, any who were caught in it would freeze immediately. Even if you could endure the cold, the ice would cut you to ribbons.
However, they had a master of magical barriers they could rely on.
“Faster than the wind, quicker than the water, Over Saint Scatter!”
By reinforcing the magic’s image with chanting, Suzu created a Barrier that dispersed energy. The bombardment of ice and snow collided with the barrier, making a “gou!” sound. And even though it came with a terrific impact, the energy was dispersed and could not overcome the barrier.
“It will keep regening indefinitely as long as it contains the demon stone. Don’t waste time. It is necessary to end this in one blow.”
“My Heaven’s Might takes thirty seconds to reach maximum power.”
“Then, in the meantime, it’s fine if Kouki doesn’t need to do anything.”
While Suzu prevented the attack with her barrier, Shizuku explained while giving Kouki a look. Considerable thermal power would be required to destroy the demon stone and crush the gigantic figure of the Frost Turtle. Kouki would be the most suitable.
Kouki understood this, given the time it’d take to execute his attack. Before, it took over a minute or more to reach maximum power. The time had been shortened considerably and amplified by several times, thanks to the revision of the Holy Sword.
“Everyone, the attack is weakening!”
“Good. When the attack stops, spread out… Suzu, stay with me.”
“Understood! You can count on me!”
At almost the same moment as Suzu’s words, the attack came to an end. The ice and snow fell down and Shizuku and the rest spread out as Kouki ordered.
Shizuku dashed out low to the ground, slipping under the Frost Turtle.
“The first attack, Flashing Blossom!”
With a sharp aura drawing black tracks in the air, her target was the Frost Turtle’s legs. To the large transparent foot, a gap of space formed diagonally, cutting the foot in two, which slid roughly and dropped to the floor.
“Flashing Blossom! Flashing Blossom!”
Without a pause, Shizuku kept advancing while sliding around, severing the second foot on one side. It slipped out, leaving the remainder in the rear side.
Cheers! Feeling pleased, the sword returned to its scabbard. The two feet slipped down diagonally and with a scream the Frost Turtle went down.
The Frost Turtle that had lost its balance made the Earth tremble. Immediately, a strong thirst for blood was shot behind the Frost Turtle stretching across its long neck.
With her skin raising like goose flesh, Shizuku’s intuition convinced her to dash from the place she was standing. A large number of icicles pushed out from the ground where she had been.
Like frozen flowers blooming from the Earth, sharp icicles bloomed in a trail following Shizuku.
While being chased by quickly forming icicles, Shizuku barely made it into the air before flowering icicles swallowed her path.
However, at that time, three frost eagles with exquisite timing attacked her from three different directions, respectively.
While attempting to shoot out a Flashing Blossom, she didn’t seem to be able to make it in time. There was no way she could avoid the terrible claws from at least two of the frost eagles.
At that moment, Shizuku prepared to take damage—
Three red flashes passed by her surroundings.
With unflinching aim, those flashes shot through the center of the chest of each of the frost eagles, causing them to burst into shimmering pieces.
In recognition of the attack, Shizuku’s eyes flickered to the origin… where Hajime was enclosed by a considerable amount of demonic beasts. He was using a combination of cross bits and Metsurai. However, what caught her eye was the muzzle of Donner.
“From there, precision fire without even seeing.”
Even with a distance of twenty meters or more, and with the power of the bullets and the penetration for the bullets having increased by three times, the shock wave from the explosive bullets couldn’t reach her with so many demons between them.
So, how did the precision fire reach Shizuku?
The answer was easy: You only had to shot through them.
That is to say that Hajime shot through the openings between the frost eagles and other monsters -between their groins, under their wings… Shooting with precision like firing through the eye of a needle. Without visually checking, he executed a perfectly cheat-like ability that could be called a miracle.
While forgetting the battle surrounding her, Shizuku was charmed by the power that Hajime wielded. It wasn’t until her childhood friend shouted that her consciousness came back into focus.
“Don’t get carried away! Heavy Crash!!”
While attempting to wake up Shizuku, who used aerodynamic, Ryuutaro ran through the air and flew down from above, striking the Frost Turtle towards the head using a fist wrapped in a gauntlet artifact with the strength of a meteorite.
With a roaring sound, the Frost Turtle’s head crushed with a shock wave. Thanks to the gravity magic on his gauntlet, an icicle attack following Shizuku was interrupted. Ryuutaro gave a premature grin after seeing the results of his attack.
Immediately after the head was crushed, a new head appeared from the root.
To the dark red eyes glinting from inside the shell, Ryuutaro let out an expletive instinctively. The next moment, it let out a breath attack of ice and snow, and Ryuutaro attempted to execute Vajra while crossing both of his arms at once.
However, a hexagonal barrier immediately came into existence, parting the attack. Bikibiki sounds denoted the cracks forming thanks to the powerful attack. A second later, the same barrier formed again, doubling, and then doubling again.
“Suzu’s Heavenly Barrier?”
While Ryuutaro exclaimed in surprise, he turned his gaze to the small magical barrier master who was chanting ahead near Kouki.
Suzu returned a smile at Ryuutaro’s look.
Ryuutaro’s guess was half right.
Expulsion space was a defense magic made when compounding magic of two or more barriers. Heavenly barrier was joined with expulsion. Originally, Suzu didn’t have the ability to compound magic, however, thanks to her iron-ribbed fan artifact, the function that allowed magic compounding was obtained.
To Ryuutaro, who was stuck in the barrier under attack from the breath attack, Suzu cast Expulsion Space in a panic. Particularly after seeing a frost eagle attempting to assault him from behind. However, it was unnecessary. Immediately before reaching him, a powerful thunder dragon appeared and consumed it.
“UoOO!? That surprised me!”
While shooting sparks, the great magic dragon passed Ryuutaro who had a drooping expression while uttering such a complaint.
Yue, while directing the seven-headed serpent with slender fingers which danced like batons, turned a quick glance at Ryuutaro, causing his jaws to drop.
With an expression of impossible confidence, she put out a gesture that scolded him which seemed to say that he shouldn’t react to every little thing, and should instead concentrate on his target. Even the thick-headed Ryuutaro seemed to get what she was trying to express.
“Really, every last one of Nagumo’s women are amazing. I can’t imagine how he managed to make them all fall in love with him.”
Ryuutaro had a wry smile, struggling to imagine how the Hajime he knew from back in Japan managed to do it. While executing Vajra, he began to charge, motivated by the fact that Yue was watching him.
As a matter of fact, he fell in love with her at first sight, and was disappointed in love immediately thereafter, thanks to the pink space generated between her and Hajime. He couldn’t even tell his best friend Kouki.
After being showed that sweet space many times between the two, he was able to arrange his feelings. Still, if Yue glanced at him, he couldn’t say he didn’t become happy for a moment.
While ridiculing himself again, he crushed the head of the frost turtle, while Shizuku again chopped the feet that regenerated on the lowered side.
Naturally though, it was incapacitated, its temporary stop in movement would be over soon, and after just thirty seconds.
It is, in a word…
“Shizuku! Ryuutaro. Fall back. I will go… you monster… Heaven’s Might!”
That’s right, the time necessary to execute Kouki’s Heaven’s Might was reached, the enormous light like a fixed star spiraling from his holy sword proved as such.
Kouki lept forward using a disc created with Aerodynamic, swinging to pierce the frost turtle whose eyes were bugged out.
The aura undulated, and it almost seemed like the sun rose in the hall, such a huge quantity of pure-white light dyed the surroundings.
The Frost Turtle, to that bombardment of light falling towards it, transformed its shell into a cone, in an attempt to distribute the power of the attack. A five meter diameter light impacted the back of the Frost Turtle.
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A terrific impact sounded and reverberated in the entire area. The screaming of the Frost Turtle resounded with frustration. Its shell, even with its transformation which according to its plan, would distribute the power of the attack - Heaven’s Might was indeed distributed.
However, while under normal circumstances this attack was powerful - thanks to Hajime’s remodelling, it was now even stronger. Kouki’s last resort melted the conic tip, and the armor of ice surrounding the shell disappeared magnificently while white smoke rose.
“Please disappear as it is! Let this power be enough!!”
The Frost Turtle’s eyes began to brighten as it absorbed the surrounding ice to regenerate. Kouki let out a shout with a desperate look. If his authentic maximum attack that spent all of his magical might was endured completely, it’d be proof that he still hadn’t reached the level of attack needed for a Great Dungeon monster.
Since meeting Hajime again, the unpleasantness and painful feelings overflowed. He wanted to do it by means of his own power, by all means.
Nearby Suzu said, with a slightly frightened expression after seeing Kouki’s look.
The screaming of Kouki and the Frost Turtle collided.
In a moment.
After hearing such a sound, innumerable fissure appeared around the Frost Turtle, and ice chips scattered with a pitter pater to the ground.
The light of the Heaven’s Might crushed that gigantic figure from the back, eliminating the surrounding ground so that there was no free time to allow regeneration. Light swallowed up the front and back of the Frost Turtle.
The scene was like a sea liner breaking in half while sinking.
With a sighing rattle, the dark red light went out from the Frost Turtle’s eyes.
And after a beat the light that swallowed the Frost Turtle gradually reduced, returning the space to normal.
“Woot! Haha… defeated, by me…”
While intensely panting, Kouki tottered. Aerodynamic lost its power, and his body fell, only supported by the nearby Suzu.
“Kouki, are you o…”
Suzu, while supporting him, starting to ask anxiously at that time -
While making such a noise, a frost eagle swooped up from the crater where the remains of the Frost Turtle were scattered, while gripping something with both of its talons.
“Why, how come it’s still moving?”
“Kouki… Look at that.”
Kouki looked with tired eyes in astonishment after seeing the area Suzu indicated with a strained voice where she pointed. A dark red crystal was gripped in the talons of the frost eagle…
“Da-damn it! It wasn’t destroyed? However, you’re not getting away.”
While grinding his teeth, Kouki who had used up all of his power while thinking he had destroyed the demon stone with his Heaven’s Might snapped.
The moment the Frost Turtle had judged it wouldn’t be able to win against his attack, it seemed to have returned to its origin within the demon stone and created a frost eagle to bear it away.
Kouki again rose his holy sword with an unsteady hand. Because the mana absorption effect was added to Kouki’s armor by Hajime, he didn’t feel the effect of mana exhaustion.
With no time to delay thanks to the frost eagle with the demon stone that started to make sounds of transformation, Kouki started to press the attack. Not heading for Suzu, he ignored his mana exhaustion like he was possessed.
Even if he had a strong will, the light that gathered in the holy sword was weak. Looking at it, Kouki started to chant the spell for Limit Break.
“With Limit Break…”
“Kouki… listen to me!”
Suzu yelled angrily. Though it’s possible to regain his strength after using Limit Break - the after effects would be great, and it wouldn’t be easy to recover even with recovery magic - and while it would most likely be able to recover completely with regeneration magic, it would use a considerable amount of Hajime’s party magic.
Even though he was pushing ahead alone, Kouki was surrounded by allies… and there was no need to overwork himself.
“The importance of flash claw, break!”
With her sword drawing skill, Shizuku raced through the air while firing a blade of wind that cut the demon stone and the frost eagle that was transmogrifying into pieces.
A dark blue light expanded, along with a shock wave that came from the demon stone in front of Shizuku. She faced it, blocking with her sheath.
The ability of impact conversion was granted to the black sword’s sheath.
The impact was transmitted directly to the demon stone, a fissure began to form with a “bikibiki” sound, and finally…
It was crushed completely, detailed splinters of dark red sparkling crystal fell to the Earth.
At the same time, the large amounts of monsters filling the hall all collapsed together with a rattle, becoming nothing more than lumps of ice.
Kouki looked at the scene dumbfounded. Though Suzu supported his shoulder, he was staring around uneasily and didn’t seem to notice.
A splendid, cheerful voice rang out.
“Hahaha. We’ve done it…! Kouki! We won!”
“Yeah… how to say it… look at that spiraled shell. Heaven’s Might look at that crater. As expected of Kouki.”
Thanks to the expression of his best friend who was hitting his shoulder, Kouki’s obsessed expression returned to his normal one. However, Suzu who was supporting Kouki was still panicked.
“That’s right. I, No… we won. To the Great Labyrinth monster.”
“Yeah, it’s refreshing. After pushing on since before…”
“Haha, certainly, for a moment it is a little refreshing.”
“Right? The day when we can catch up to Nagumo seems to come a bit closer.”
“… Its good if that’s the case.”
While expressing gratitude to Suzu, whose shoulder he borrowed, Kouki stood tall by himself with a wry smile. Thanks to the brightness of Ryuutaro, his dark mood cleared up a little. However, a deep regret remained that he was not able to do it with his own power.
“? Thanks for the hard work, Kouki.”
Shizuku returned by jumping down to Kouki’s position. Kouki smoothed over his sharp glance while panicking. Though Shizuku felt somewhat uneasy after looking at Kouki’s appearance, she gave thanks for the hard work after their long awaited victory.
“Is that right? Apart from that, Kouki’s Heaven’s Might, your strongest attack, since strengthening the holy sword, was more than I imagined.”
“That’s right! That’s right! An amazing blow.”
“Ma… something like that is…”
While Shizuku modestly praised the Heaven’s Might that caused the crater before her eyes, making light of her own achievements, Suzu tried to dispel the desperate feeling in the air with clichéd praise.
As might be expected, Kouki felt embarrassed: being praised by two girls in parting, while smiling and scratching his cheek.
A voice comes from behind Kouki’s party.
“Oo~i, though it’s good to enjoy your victory, it would be good to leave soon!”
While looking at Hajime, who was standing on a mountain of ice showing a cool appearance without an indication he had taken on a thousand opponents, he tapped his shoulder with Donner while indicating a direction.
An advancing passage seemed to have appeared in the wall where the Frost Turtle had come from.
While Kouki’s party nodded to each other, they headed over to Hajime, who released Aerodynamic.
“Grats. You seem to be able to fight without any trouble against the Great Labyrinth monster.”
For Hajime that expressed rare words of praise, a look that seemed like it was observing a rare animal was turned towards Kouki. Do biting words come from such a glance? Shizuku answered with a panic towards Hajime who gave such a look.
“Yes… thank you. Thanks for the power of these artifacts.”
“Well… you seemed to have mastered them well. Although, I wasn’t worried since we’re fighting as a group, anyway.”
“Yeah? While you might think it was trivial, the precision firing I saw Nagumo use sent shivers up my back.”
“… When death approaches - a person can do the unexpected.”
To the faraway look in Hajime’s eyes while recalling the past… Shizuku expressed a smile while thinking about his reliability.
“As far as that goes… Nagumo. Did we pass?”
Irritated, Kouki diverted the conversation between Hajime and Shizuku.
“N? Ah, to say were your efforts accepted?”
“It should be alright, given the concept of this Great Labyrinth.”
“In what way…”
Kouki inclined his neck to the previous comment. Hajime turned his eyes to Tio, seeking her confirmation. Tio, who opened her mouth, expressed her full approval.
“With infinity reproducing monsters, with the ability to freeze you to death, and a master-class monster built like a fortress, it was certainly troublesome. However, if you fight only a strong monster, isn’t that the same as Orcus? The concept isn’t clear for the Ice and Snow Cave.”
“Though all of us knocked down at least three digits worth of monsters.”
“Because there were over a thousand monsters to overwhelm us, I don’t think we failed.”
“… Nn, without question.”
Hajime’s group said one after another, calm and composed as those who had the most experience in great labyrinth clearing compared to Kouki’s party.
While thinking such differences were being shown off, the dark and unpleasant feelings once again swirled in Kouki’s heart while he showed a consenting face.
Shizuku, who was worried about Kouki’s appearance, left it for later, since Hajime was urging them forward.
And again… they went forward into the passage enclosed with large ice walls.
After walking for thirty minutes, as the last light was seen at the tip of the passage… the extended maze was vast, like a joke.
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