The Hero’s Defeat
With Suzu raising a groan and slowly opening her eyes, Kaori and Eri who were always beside her, called Suzu’s name with anxious voices mixed with relief. Suzu spaced out for a while with only her gaze moving around, and finally opened her mouth.
“I-I don’t know this ceiling~.”
“Suzu, I know you like acting, but wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t say something like that at time like this?”
She should be thirsty. However, Suzu desperately said so with hoarse voice, which made Shizuku retorted in a half-amazed, half-praising tone when she heard her. Afterwards, Suzu moistened her throat using the water from the leather flask by her side.
With lovely sound of gulping, Suzu, who sated her thirst, said, “I’m revived! Literally!,” words that couldn’t be taken as a joke, and she tried her best to stand up with Kaori and Eri supporting her. The class’s moodmaker who regained her consciousness from a critical condition, radiated a cheerful atmosphere which made the classmates who had been depressed until now show smiles.
However, the bright atmosphere was very contrary to Suzu’s complexion. She was exhausted and suffered blood loss. With a pale face and thin lines below her eyes just like a bear’s, her smile looked miserable. Some parts of her body were pierced, but it was unmistakably her “strength” to be able to smile as soon as she got up. Shizuku and Kaori watched her with respect.
“Suzu-chan. It’s okay for you to rest some more. After all, your blood shouldn’t have been replenished yet, even if your wounds have recovered…”
“U~n, so that’s why I feel dizzy~. That bastard~, to pierce the beautiful Suzu… even though, “Can I penetrate you now?,” is better to be said in bed!”
“Suzu! That’s vulgar! Be more prudent!”
Suzu said while hatefully gazing at empty space, and Eri scolded Suzu with flushed cheeks. Some of the male students inadvertently, “Bff!?,” but averted their gazes due to Shizuku’s glare.
“Suzu, thank God you woke up. We were worried, you know?”
“Yo, are you really okay? Isn’t your face completely pale?”
Because Suzu suddenly caused a commotion after she woke up, Kouki and Ryuutarou approached her. While being weakened for a period of time as an effect from using “Limit Break,” Kouki became depressed because they were severely beaten. However, he seemed to have recovered somehow since a moderate amount of time had passed after they had retreated and hid where they currently were.
“Morning~, Kouki-kun, Ryuutarou-kun! Looks like we somehow got away, huh? Umm, is everyone saf—… Wait, one is missing…”
“Yeah, it’s Endou. He retreated ahead alone. We think he should be able to break through the floors alone by hiding himself…”
After greeting Kouki and Ryuutarou with a smile, Suzu noticed one person was missing from the surrounding classmates. Suzu had lost her consciousness in the midst of battle, so Kouki and the others answered her doubt while they explained the current situation.
Incidentally, Kondou and Saitou had been de-petrified, woke up earlier than Suzu, and had already been debriefed of the situation.
“I see, looks like a lot of time had passed since Suzu fainted… Ah, that’s right. Kaorin, thanks! Kaorin has become Suzu’s life benefactor!”
“Suzu-chan, it’s my duty to heal everyone. So don’t exaggerate it by calling me your life benefactor because it was a natural thing for me to do.”
“Heh~, even stoic Kaorin is wonderful! Shall we get married?”
“Suzu… it’s eerie if you say that with pale face. For now, shouldn’t you rest some more?”
Suzu was scolded by Eri while she was clinging to Kaori. If she over did it, Shizuku would physically stop her. It was the usual way of things. Even the classmates who wondered whether they’d be able to survive and return to surface again, gradually regained their composure thanks to Suzu and the girls’ conversation that didn’t mind their defeat.
However, the atmosphere which was starting to turn bright was douse with water by a person who always ruin the ambience.
“…What are you grinning about? We almost died, you know? Moreover, our situation hasn’t changed even now! Think of how we can get out of here if you have time to joke around!”
The one who shouted while glaring at Suzu was Kondou Reiichi. And though he didn’t express it, Saitou Yoshiki by his side also watched her with criticizing gaze.
“Oi, Kondou. Can you not say such a thing? Suzu only did this to change the moo—…”
“Shut up! It’s not like you can say anything to me! After all, you lost! I almost died! Shit! What a Hero you are!”
Although Kouki tried to admonish Kondou due to his remark, Kondou suddenly burst like fire that got poured with oil and began to criticize Kouki.
“Bastard… Thanks to whom do you think we could retreat, huh? We could do that because Kouki opened a path for us!”
“To begin with, there’s no need for us to retreat if he wins! More importantly, we obviously had our chance. It would have been all right for us to receive the invitation from Demon Race and defeat them later! But, you selfishly started the fight! Everything is your fault! This is your responsibility!”
This time, Ryuutarou began to admonish such a Kondou. Kondou stood up and confronted Ryuurarou. Sympathizing with Kondou, Saitou and Nakano also stood up and faced Ryuutarou.
“Ryuutarou, I am okay… I’ll accept my responsibility, Kondou. We won’t lose this time! We already understood the characteristics of the demonic beasts, and we won’t get attacked by surprise again. So, we will absolutely win this time!”
Although Kouki made a gesture where he clasped his clenched fist, Saitou muttered with darkened eyes.
“… But, you could not win even with “Limit Break.”
“Th-That’s… i-it’ll be okay now!”
“I’ll use “Divine Might” and attack the Demon Race woman from the beginning. That’s why, if everyone could cover me…”
“But, won’t she know a troublesome attack is coming with such a long chant? Even our enemies will have their own plans, right? Besides, we don’t know if those were all of the demonic beasts she has.”
Even if Kouki said it’d be okay, Kondou and gang complained while beginning to doubt Kouki’s ability, and were looking at him with doubtful eyes. With this, even though Kouki could not help but take responsibility to make sure they win. They would not calm down because of the fact that they had almost died as a result of the enemies’ unbelievable strength and number.
The main cause for them to heat up were because Ryuutarou had a low angry point while Kondou and gang were being belligerent by objecting constantly. Gradually, Ayako, Yoshino, and Nomura tried to stop their quarrel, but a dangerous mood began to drift around.
As such, Ryuutarou began to ready his fists while Kondou readied his spear. Tension immediately filled their location. Kouki shouted, Ryuutarou!, and grip his shoulder to stop him. However, Ryuutarou could not be stopped and veins popped on his head while glaring at Kondou. Even Kondou and gang were partly obstinate about it.
“Everyone, please calm down! No matter what you say, we can only bet on Kouki to survive! We must defeat the Demon Race woman even if Kouki was at the time limit of his “Limit Break.” We can only do that since she won’t let us escape. You understand that, right?”
Shizuku entered between them and frantically tried to persuade them to calm down, but it didn’t work either. Swaying while standing, Suzu seemed to not want to hear what Kondou said even if he apologized. Finally, Kaori thought she needed to restrain everyone and began to prepare her restraining magic… when they heard something.
A growl. A growl so familiar, so low that came from the bottom of abdomen. The appearances of Chimeras and the four-red-eyed wolves crossed their minds. The dangerous mood immediately dissipated and everyone stiffened. Even the smallest breathing seemed to resound, and their breathing became smaller. Their gazes turned towards the passage camouflaged as a wall before them.
Whoosh! Fwiiish, Whooosh! Fwuuush!
Sounds of scratching and rough nasal breathing could be heard from the wall. Someone was gulping. Even trace of their smells should’ve been erased by Endou, so the demonic beasts shouldn’t be able to perceive that Kouki’s party were inside no matter how strong they were. Even though they thought so, they were tensed and unpleasant sweats flowed.
Some time was still needed before they completely recovered. Suzu was not in condition to fight, Kaori and Ayako had used too much magic to heal the others and had hardly recovered. The vanguard group were almost fully recovered, but the magic users in the rear group only had recovered half of their magic power. The healing potions they had also been exhausted, so they still need to wait for sometimes to recover at the earliest.
They could not overlook the holes in terms of roles created by Kaori and Ayako as the healers and the barrier user, Suzu. That’s why Kouki’s party were hoping they would not be found out now as they watched the wall separating the outside and the hidden room.
The demonic beasts wandered outside for a while, but their presences gradually began to fade before long. Thus, silence returned once again. Even so, everyone was standing still for a while, and breathed great sighs of relief when they knew the demonic beasts had completely disappeared; some of them crumpled on the spot. The extreme tension made their sweats overflow like a flood.
“…We’ll be found out if we keep making a commotion. That’s why, please just calm down and recover for now.”
“Y-You are right…”
Shizuku wiped the sweat off her cheek which fell and created weird dripping sound. Kondou and the others replied while stammering and withdrew their arms. It was as though they got doused by cold water.
Having thought the crisis was through, everyone relaxed… and at that moment,
The wall separating the hidden room and the outside was crushed to pieces along with a tremendous roar.
The wall’s fragments were blown like bullets due to the impact into the hidden room, and hit Kondou and Yoshino who were in its trajectory. The two spontaneously fell flat on their butts as they raised screams.
In the next moment, before the dumbfounded Kouki’s party were the incoming blurred spaces whom they still didn’t want to meet.
“Prepare to fight!”
“Damn it! How did they find us!”
While ordering so, Kouki immediately drew and slashed the Chimeras with the Holy Sword. They didn’t move because they would lose sight of the enemies if they distanced themselves from them. As he cursed, Ryuutarou positioned himself before the passage connected to the outside, and tried to prevent the demonic beasts from invading any more than this.
A Brutal-look-alike immediately hurled its steel-like body like a cannonball into the room. Thus, it grappled into Ryuutarou with tremendous momentum and pushed him down.
Using that chance, tens of black cats dashed into the room and immediately fired tens of tentacles. Fired like a barrage, they mercilessly attacked Kondou and the others who remained on their spots. And though Kondou and the others immediately readied their weapons, the tentacles were too much in number and would skewer them as-is.
15 shields of light slantly appeared in the space before Kondou and the others and managed to deviate the trajectories of the attacks. To be capable of activating the shields even with such short chants would make anyone marveled. Ten of the shields were Suzu’s, while the other five were Kaori’s.
However, even though they immediately cast them, Suzu’s physical condition was still in a bad shape while Kaori’s magic power was still exhausted. Those facts affected the strenght of the shields.
Whiiiish! Fwooosh! Whiiiish! Fwooosh! Whiiiish! Fwooosh!
They should’ve been able to change the trajectories and endure the impact, but vigorous attacks from the tentacles broke the shields one after another. Thus, several of the tentacles’ trajectories could not be changed by the crushed shields and attacked Nakano and Saitou. The two immediately bend their bodies. Since both were in the rear group, their physical strength weren’t that high. Because of that, even though they avoided mortal wound, Nakano shoulder and Saitou’s thigh were gouged, and they raised screams as they were thrown to the ground.
“Shinji! Yoshiki! Shit! Daisuke, help them!”
“… Ah, of course.”
Always brooding over something since they escaped into the hidden room, Hiyama did not pay much attention to what Kondou said. However, the situation didn’t let him say anything otherwise, so he dragged the wounded Nakano and Saitou towards Suzu’s side. Even though her physical condition was not good, the area around Suzu, whose magic power still had a lot remaining, was the safest. Besides, they would be easily healed by Kaori at Suzu’s side.
“Kuh, Kouki! Use “Limit Break” and get outside! We will do something about these guys inside this room!”
“But, Suzu and the others cannot move…”
“We will face them as-is! Please! Break through them and kill the Demon Race woman!”
“Kouki! Leave this place to us! I absolutely won’t let them die!”
“…Okay! I will leave this place to you! “Limit Break”!”
After thinking about Shizuku and Ryuutarou’s words for a moment, he thought it was certainly the only way to break through this situation. With a resolute expression, Kouki activated “Limit Break” for the second time today. The reason “Limit Break” must not be used for more than once a day was because it put considerable burden into the body. That’s why, “Limit Break” which usually had an eight minute limit, but it might be shorter now. Expecting that, Kouki would ignore the others and only concentrate on defeating the Demon Race woman, he went out of the hidden room.
Going out of the room into the huge octagonal room, before Kouki’s eyes were a large amount of demonic beasts. And within the stationary demonic beasts stood the Demon Race woman looking at him with cold eyes, and a white crow on her shoulder. The inside of Kouki’s mind was boiling with a sense of mission to save his comrades and anger that they were put into such a predicament. Thus, he glared straight at the Demon Race woman.
“Hmph, you made me waste too much time. I also have other missions too…”
“Shut up! I will surely defeat you! Prepare yourself!”
Declaring so, Kouki used short chant, and magic power was immediately sent into the Holy Sword. “Divine Might” would normally reach the Demon Race woman, but even so, he used the chant omission version of “Divine Might” since he believed it would be able to open a path for him.
However, the Demon Race woman showed a smile before the Holy Sword, whose radiance increased, and she ordered the Brutal-look-alike standing by near her to drag something from the back.
Kouki put a dubious expression at first which then turned into an aghast expression when he saw that “something.” He instinctively lowered the Holy Sword with eyes wide opened and called his name with a trembling voice.
That’s right, there was the dying Meld whose limbs were crushed and whole body drenched in blood being dragged by the Brutal-look-alike by the scruff of his neck. With a glance, his whole body was limp and seemed to have died, but sometimes small groans arose and demonstrated that he was alive.
“Y-You! Let go of Meld-san—!?”
Kouki was enraged because of Meld’s state, and in a split moment, he tried to rush towards the Demon Race woman, losing himself. Suddenly, a huge shadow shrouded over Kouki as though it had been waiting for such exquisite timing. Hah, before Kouki noticed it and turned his gaze, there was the spectacle’s wall-like fist approaching him with tremendous momentum that made even the air exploded.
Although Kouki spontaneously used his left arm to guard, the fist swung with tremendous force easily crushed his guard, and Kouki’s left arm and body received a powerful impact. Kouki flew towards a wall and crashed into it with tremendous speed incomparable to being run over by a dump truck. The wall behind him was crushed radically by the impact.
Because of the impact he had taken, Kouki air was released from his lungs, and he slipped down from the wall, in all fours. Kouki desperately tried to support his body using his healthy right arm, but a lot of blood flowed from his mouth. The earlier attack had most likely damaged his organs. He might have died instantly if it wasn’t for the skill derived from “Physical Resistance,” “Mitigation of Impact.”
In addition, because of a concussion to his head, he desperately tried to understand the situation even with an unfocused gaze. Then, he saw it. A three meter, huge demonic beast was in the location where Kouki was before, with its fist thrusted.
It had a horse-like head where fangs grew, four thick heavy arms growing from its muscular body, and its lower half was that of a monstrous gorilla. Glaring at Kouki with bloodshot eyes, steam gushed out from the long horse-like mouth every time it breathed. Its atmosphere was obviously different from the demonic beasts he had faced until now.
The horsehead withdrew its fist and immediately rushed out while firing a dense bloodlust to the still unable-to-stand Kouki mercilessly. Jumping only a little away from the place where Kouki was crouching, it swung its fist down with tremendous momentum towards Kouki. Because of the warning from his instincts, Kouki laid on the ground and rolled over, desperately getting out of his location.
Immediately, the horsehead’s fist pierced the ground and at the same time, a reddish black ripple extended on the ground along with a roar. The destruction was just like an explosion. This was the horsehead’s peculiar magic, “Magic Shock Wave.” It was an ability to convert magic power into a shockwave. However, as simple as it might be, it was an immensely powerful peculiar magic.
Due to the skill derived from “Physical Resistance,” “Recovery Rate Increased,” Kouki somehow recovered from his head concussion. He desperately stood up and readied the Holy Sword. At that time, the horsehead had already approached before him and swung its fist once again.
With a crushed left arm, Kouki used Holy Sword as a shield and the impact received by his right arm blew him away again. Afterwards, even though Kouki managed to avoid a mortal wound, the four arms sent out “Magic Shock Wave” with all of their might, and he, whose movement had slowed down due to the damage from the first impact, couldn’t counter attack at all.
“Kuuu! What’s with this thing’s strength! Even though I should be strengthened by “Limit Break”!”
With pained expression, Kouki was frustrated because the horsehead demonic beast could overpower him who was under “Limit Break,” and he went for a counterattack, prepared for damages while thinking he couldn’t let it continue.
Right before he began, the limit of Kouki’s “Limit Break” had arrived, and power suddenly left him. Because he used it twice in such a short time, he was attacked by powerlessness incomparable to what he felt earlier, and he fell on his knee with no power entering his legs.
The horsehead didn’t miss that chance. With him suddenly losing his power and balance, Kouki was in a hopeless situation as the horsehead’s fist, bam!, hit his abdomen with a sound of impact.
Splurting blood, Kouki’s body was made into ‹ shape, blown away, and crashed into the wall once again. Being weakened thanks to the side effect of “Limit Break,” Kouki’s consciousness was drifting away. Being mortally injured, he fell down without even twitching. Rather, it was strange for him not to die instantly in his current state. Perhaps the horsehead was taking it easy so he wouldn’t.
The horsehead approached Kouki and lifted him by grabbing the back of his neck. The unconscious and completely powerless Kouki was hung by the horsehead to show his state to the Demon Race woman. The Demon Race woman nodded in satisfaction and ordered the demonic beasts that rushed into the hidden room to withdraw.
After a while, Shizuku and the others went out with full caution.Their expressions were dyed in despair when they saw the powerless Kouki being lifted by the huge horse-headed demonic beast they had never seen before.