“――I was originally an adventurer,”
Fellow believer Nebil says as he walks beside me.
I am currently outside the Nest.
That said, it’s not like I was escaping.
In the Nest, we sometimes go out to hunt monsters.
This is because hunting monsters is the easiest way to raise our levels.
Furthermore, skills are raised faster when they are used in actual combat.
This is something that is well known to <Yatagarasu> through their experiences as a combat-oriented group.
But then, I still have a few questions.
Monsters are formed by the evil god bestowing power unto living creatures on the earth through a curse, so isn’t it strange for the emissaries of <Yatagarasu> who serve the evil god to lay their hands on the monsters?
As one would expect, I couldn’t ask anyone about this so I felt a little depressed.
Come to think of it, the emissaries of <Yatagarasu> who clearly side with the evil god also have their levels and skill levels raised with experience; I wonder if this was based on the goddess’ samsara system.
Or, did the evil god’s side also have a similar system?
However, disregarding me being on the goddess’ side and the others, like Gazaine, who were neck-deep in the religious organisation being on the evil god’s side, I wonder how the guys who were brainwashed emissaries without ill will like Elemia and Miguel from the children’s group were handled.
There was no limit to these questions no matter how much I pondered in my mind so I can only try asking the goddess when I see her next time.
Our meeting last time was too abrupt so I wasn’t able to prepare that many questions, but this time I’ll prepare the questions and keep them in mind; I’d like to ask everything I should ask about, using my time to the fullest extent.
I wasn’t able to drop by the Samsara Temple in Fauno city in the end, so I didn’t manage to obtain the [Prayer] skill that the goddess spoke about.
Actually, I tried to pray to the goddess when I saw an opportunity even inside the Nest. I don’t know if there was some kind of special condition or something, but it didn’t result in the acquisition of [Prayer].
Perhaps it really did have to be at the temple, or a particular offering needed to be prepared, or possibly even some kind of special ritual like the bow twice, clap twice, bow once more ritual done at Shinto shrines was needed.
Those were the possibilities I thought of.
Melby said that she had no knowledge about that kind of thing either.
Now, I was talking about the monster hunting.
A few days ago, under Gazaine’s supervision, a report came in about wyverns appearing near the Nest.
To give you a rough explanation, wyverns are a type of flying dragon classified as a sub-dragon, and although they don’t have a breath attack, they’re considered high-ranking monsters due to their high mobility and sharp claws and fangs ―― B Rank monsters.
A B Rank monster is on par with a single B Rank adventurer.
Being on par means that a B Rank adventurer can also lose if their luck is bad.
Thus, a party of adventures at B Rank or above is necessary to kill a wyvern safely.
Now then, wyverns are troublesome even alone, but they have a habit of calling companions together and living gregariously.
Moreover, the entire dragon species, not just wyverns, are lair-builders ― they either dig their own holes underground or use pre-existing holes.
If wyverns have started building a lair near the Nest, they would be liable to dig through underground and connect the lair to the interior of the Nest.
Of course, the elites of our <Yatagarasu> shouldn’t be inferior to the flock of wyverns, but there was the danger of a part of the Nest collapsing due to the wyverns’ lair-building.
Also, if the wyverns were to build a lair near the Nest and fly about in the sky, they were bound to stand out.
There was even the possibility of the adventurer guilds in the neighbouring towns ――Fauno City for instance―― viewing them as a problem and sending people out to clear the wyverns’ lair.
If that were to happen, the discovery of the Nest’s existence would be unavoidable.
――Actually, I did send an emergency message to Alfred-tousan via Melby about the wyverns who were flying about like advertising balloons.
I wonder if my mother, an A Rank adventurer, will come out on an immediate search since the wyverns would be nothing to her.
Or perhaps I should say, after thinking about it again, Julia-kaasan would be able to take down the wyverns safely, even on her own.
She’s an amazing person, my mother.
Oops, rather than that, back to Fellow believer Nebil.
Fellow believer Nebil, a regular of my Okonomiyaki shop, has completely let down his guard against me recently and even tells me stories of his past like this.
“Even like this, I climbed all the way to C Rank.
Well, I was with a party though.”
“Oh……. Then why did you join <Yatagarasu>?’
“I was injured in the middle of a quest.
It had just been a trivial goblin subjugation, but there had been a lot of goblins.
Among the arrows that were fired, there was one that was well-aimed.
It was probably just a fluke since they’re goblins, but the arrow got lodged in my foot.
My party members, who I should have been on reasonably good terms with until the day before, all scrambled to flee and I, alone, was left behind.
The one who saved me at that time was an emissary of <Yatagarasu>.
See, it was Gazlow-san… no, Fellow believer Gazlow of the Special Forces.”
So it’s that guy with the sly-looking eyes.
I can’t see him having a trait of saving people at all.
“After that, I was given medical treatment at the private <Yatagarasu> holy residence.
Since it was back then, it wasn’t the “Crow’s Nest” but the previous holy residence.
Thanks to that, the after-effects of the arrow have mostly disappeared.
That’s why I decided.
To use this life they saved for the sake of <Yatagarasu>.”
Saying that while smiling, Nebil’s face was really cheerful.
“But if you were an adventurer, wouldn’t you have heard rumours of <Yatagarasu> at least?”
“Ah, indeed, I haven’t heard of any positive rumours outside.
But rumours are rumours after all.
People won’t understand without actually encountering them.
If you try listening to Gazlow-san’s words, isn’t he saying that Evil God-sama is actually a good god and is fighting the devils?
Gazlow-san said that saving my life was also a result of Evil God-sama’s guidance.
When I learned that, I also aspired to be an emissary.”
“What do you think about the sacred tasks?
That…. about killing people.”
When I ask that, Nebil scans the surroundings before saying in a whisper,
“Because it’s you, I’ll be frank.
I don’t really understand it.”
“What Evil God-sama is like, stuff like that.
I simply wanted to return the favour.
I never fail to attend the organisation’s religious service but, honestly, I can’t understand the teachings very well.
I think that Gazaine-san and Archbishop-sama’s remarks make sense though.”
Nebil’s speech seemed to contain some hesitation.
“Fellow believer Nebil becoming an emissary was before Gazaine…. sama became the head, right?”
“Right, that’s right!
A lot has changed since Master Gazaine became the leader.
Master Gazaine was pleased with Gazlow-san and let him enter the special forces, and I also became a member of the special forces thanks to his support.
Lately, Gazlow-san…… how should I put it……”
There, Nebil paused.
“――Hey, Fellow believer Orochi.
Do you believe in Evil God-sama?”
A difficult question suddenly came flying.
Seeing Nebil’s serious face, I realised instinctively.
If I lied here, I would lose Nebil’s trust.
I hesitated only for an instant, and deliberately plunged into danger.
“……No, I don’t believe in him.”
“Is that so……”
Nebil says, sinking into silence.
At a time like this, I can only wait.
Fortunately, we had been moving in groups of 2~3.
The number of people recruited to subjugate the wyverns total 20.
With Special Forces member Nebil as the leader, there were a few youths assigned to each team.
There were five people from the children’s group participating: Miguel, Elemia, Donna, Beck and me.
Having the children play a central role was because this wyvern hunt was not just an extermination, but also served to level up the youths.
Especially because Donna and Beck from the children’s group were preparing for their first sacred task as emissaries next month; it seems they wanted to raise their levels as much as possible so they could avoid any unforeseen situations.
The reason I was called here was probably―― not because I was part of the children’s group, but it was likely a test to see whether or not I would run away.
When I use the [Sense Presence] skill I acquired recently, I sensed a few very restrained human presences a fair way behind us.
They’re probably emissaries of the special forces under Gazaine’s orders.
As the youngest, I was put under the custody of the leader and was mobilised together with Nebil.
Elemia, who was also a member of the special forces, was also grouped with us, but she had been sent ahead to scout and wasn’t here right now.
This was because Elemia, at only 7 years of age, has learned both [Sense Presence] and [Espionage Techniques].
The wyverns were reported to be setting up a lair in a hollow located a few kilometres northwest of the Nest.
Since the environment was all wasteland with no obstructions, the emissaries of <Yatagarasu> who specialised in covert activities made up the core, approaching in a manner where they wouldn’t be visible even from the sky.
Separated into small groups, we draw closer while moving under cover.
Nebil sent <Yatagarasu>’s characteristic signal of tongue clicks, then made preparations to storm into the lair.
Incidentally, the emissaries were not wearing their usual jet-black crow outfit this time, and instead wore on a sand-coloured cloak over their standard equipment, so that it was hard for the wyverns to detect them from the sky.
Nebil slipped into the cover of another rock ahead and beckoned to me.
I used [Stealth Steps] and followed Nebil.
“……I’ll say this since you answered so honestly.
Frankly speaking, I’d like to cut ties with this organisation.”
I was quite surprised.
I had thought Nebil was a rather pious believer.
“I’m only speaking up because it’s you, but…… I’m not the only one who thinks that.
……Saying this much, you understand the rest, right?”
There are others who feel the same as him.
“But with our abilities, we’re no match for the organisation’s elites or the members of the special forces.
I’m also part of the special forces, but I got in with my scouting and intelligence gathering abilities instead.
It’s different to the combat geniuses like Elemia.
Even so, Elemia is only 7 years old. We can think of a few methods to pin her down.
The other elites too, it would be dangerous if they came in swarms, but we can probably manage if we make a surprise attack.
For him, I can’t think of any ways to escape him safely, let alone ways to win.”
I was surprised yet again.
I never thought that Nebil had planned such a concrete campaign against the religious organisation.
“So, how about it, Fellow believer Orochi?
No… Edgar, wasn’t it.”
“……How about what?”
“Don’t play dumb.
If it’s you, can you win against him?
You can think of countermeasures, right?”
Called into question, I pondered for a short while.
―― Countermeasures against Gazaine.
Naturally, I’ve repeated countless simulations but I still haven’t hit upon a reliable method of winning.
Previously, I likened the training with Gazaine to fighting games.
A truly strong player would see through all of the clever schemes thought up by an amateur, and moreover would deal a severe counterattack.
“……I’ll need a little longer, I think.”
At my words, Nebil raised his eyebrow.
“Heh! I see. That’s good.”
“……You don’t doubt me?”
“Apart from me, the special forces are a bunch of monsters.
Only Gazaine is different and stands out.
And, I think, that you, Edgar, are also outstanding in a different sense
After all, you were acknowledged by Gazaine himself.
Saying that the only one who has the possibility of killing him is 《Boundless》.”
He was referring to the nickname 《Boundless Orochi》.
“You’re overestimating me so much that it’s making me uneasy…… but I’ll try.”
It’s reassuring if you’re saying that.
I ―― We will be patiently waiting for that moment.”
Saying that, Nebil peers further ahead from the cover of the rock.
In Nebil’s line of sight, a thumbnailed-sized lump could be seen several hundred metres ahead of here.
It was brownish-grey and was around 3 metres tall, considering the distance, with angular bits here and there.
It was hard to tell because its wings were folded but that was our target, the wyvern.
The wyvern was crouching by the edge of one of the chasms in the ground that often appeared in this vicinity, and it was languidly suspended inside the chasm from its neck to the tip of its head.
It would roar occasionally but…… What was it doing?
Nebil mutters anticlimactically.
Certainly, the information we received was that several wyverns were building a lair.
Light flickered from the cover of rocks in the vicinity of the wyvern right after we identified it.
The emissaries we had deployed had sent signals by reflecting sunlight with pocket mirrors.
When the lights flicked from a total of five places, Nebil spoke.
“Fellow believer Orochi, we’ll commence once Elemia returns.
It probably has other companions, but we can’t just abandon this chance when it’s alone.”
“Where did Elemia go?
Even though the wyverns’ location is right over there.”
It was strange that we didn’t see Elemia, who had been sent ahead, while heading to the wyverns.
In a fluster, Nebil visually compares the wyvern with the rock cover where the emissaries were hiding.
Then, returning his gaze to the front, he looks past the wyvern, towards the chasm and――
Together with multiple roars, several wyverns came flying out from opposite the chasm where it had sunken in a little and couldn’t be seen.
The wyverns that suddenly appeared swooped down from the rear of the emissaries who had circled behind the first wyvern.
As expected of the assassins of <Yatagarasu>, they returned fire despite the chaos, but the wyvern’s hide was tough and knives wouldn’t damage them at all.
The attacked emissaries were masters of [Throwing Spear Techniques] and [Throwing Axe Techniques], but both skills were hard to use in melee combat.
In accordance with established tactics for fighting wyverns, restrictive nets were also brought but they targeted occasions when the wyverns were on the ground. Once the wyverns took flight, the nets couldn’t be used until after they were pulled down to the ground again.
Then, the wyvern that had been crouching at the beginning attacked as well.
The crouched dragon used its gigantic claw to lift a large boulder that was directly below it and tries to drop it on the disordered emissaries from overhead.
“H-hey, Fellow believer Nebil!”
“――ck ! Everyone, begin the attack!
Retreat as soon as we rescue Gonzack and Lazarre!”
Seeing that there’s already no point in hiding, Nebil gives an order.
From the cover of rocks here and there, the emissaries who were wearing identical sand-coloured cloaks to mine stood up and fired magic spells and knives at the wyverns to attract their attention.
I levitated a nearby boulder with [Physics Magic].
I would be able to levitate it easier with [Psychokinesis] but that is one of my trump cards so I don’t want to reveal it.
Anyway, I threw the magically floating boulder at the aforementioned wyvern that was carrying the large boulder.
It seemed that even this kind of action was affected by [Throwing Techniques]; my boulder followed the intended trajectory and hit the wyvern’s leg.
The dragon couldn’t bear it and dropped the large boulder it had been holding.
The large boulder fell into the chasm that the wyvern had been crouching by at the beginning.
I couldn’t see the situation below from here, but from the fact that a loud boom sounded, the chasm seemed deeper than I had thought.
The emissaries were moving even while Nebil said that.
Reaching the sides of the emissaries who had been first attacked ――Gonzack and Lazarre―― they divert the airborne wyverns with their respective specialised attacks, such as magic and throwing knives.
The magic was merely 《Flame Bit》, and the knives lacked the ability to leave any injuries either, but they appeared to be able to keep the wyverns at a distance at least.
The emissaries assembled in a circular formation and slowly made their way here while keeping the airborne wyverns in check.
Behind Nebil and I, there was a small grove with various trees and shrubbery, and further behind that was a rocky mountain with cactus-like thorny trees growing here and there.
The wyverns seemed to dislike those trees so if we ran over there then we could reorganise our formations.
Right when we thought we could reconvene after withdrawing another one hundred metres, Elemia returned.
In regards to where she could have been, she had sprung out from the bottom of the chasm the wyverns had been in at the beginning.
She soundlessly ran the distance from the chasm to our location at full speed.
I wondered just what had happened, as the sand-coloured cloak she should have been wearing was gone.
Elemia, who had run through the wasteland with her short, silver hair fluttering about, stopped in front of Nebil.
Elemia wasn’t breathing heavily, but Nebil grasped at his heart in suffering instead.
I see, it’s [Fatigue Transference].
There’s no effect on me, who has [No Fatigue], but I suppose this is what it does.
Breathing heavily, Nebil asks about a separate subject as if he had known about Elemia’s skill as well.
“Gh…… Fellow believer Elemia! Where did you go!?”
It’s understandable considering the situation, but Nebil’s words were a little pointed.
However, Elemia did not falter at them and instead shouted out with a snap.
“――This isn’t a wyvern nest!”
“Huh!? What are you saying! When several wyverns have already appeared――”
“Like I said, the wyverns aren’t the problem…… it was there!”
Right when Elemia was about to reply to Nebil, the ground shook.
The edges of the chasm spread out to the left and right.
At the same time, the ground where we were formed a large depression, and a fissure ran along the perimeters.
Then, suddenly a flame gushed out from that fissure.
While I was lost for words, Elemia exclaimed.
“A firedrake! This is a firedrake’s nest! A Firedrake has been living underground in this area!”
Nebil’s face drains of colour.
“Everyone, fall back!
At Nebil’s words, the emissaries start running this way.
Fortunately, thanks to the flame just now, the wyverns had fled into the sky.
However, that wasn’t the problem.
Because of the flame, the ground we were standing in completely collapsed, moreover, it started slowly inclining towards the chasm.
It couldn’t be ―― it had been gouging out the earth we were on in its entirety from underground with the flame from before――?
In that case, that would mean the firedrake was quite an unbelievable existence.
But luckily, the progression of the landslide wasn’t that fast.
The disciplined emissaries’ legs should be just fast enough to let them escape in time.
Or so I thought, but,
“Fellow believer Donna! A-are you alright!?”
“I-idiot! Don’t just stand around!”
Beck rushed over to the fallen Donna, whereas Miguel wavered before also rushing back in the end.
What Donna tripped on was a broken piece of the boulder I had thrown at the wyvern earlier.
And at that moment, the nearby ground suddenly sloped even more and the landslide increased in speed.
“F-Fellow believer Orochi! You won’t make it!”
“Idiots, come back! Fellow believer Orochi, Fellow believer Elemia!”
Elemia even followed me when I leaped out.
Nebil stretched his arm out in a hurry but wasn’t able to catch Elemia.
I extended the steel thread wrapped around the gauntlet on my left hand, and bind Donna, Beck and Miguel together.
“Elemia, hold onto me!”
The landslide finally transitioned into a pitfall and we were cast into the air.
I wound the thread around the three children and drew closer, and supported the bodies of the three children and myself, as well as Elemia who was clinging to me, with [Psychokinesis].
However, our inertia was greater than I expected, and no matter what sort of legendary class skill it was, I wasn’t able to levitate five humans in such a short time.
Despite it seeming like we would be half-engulfed by the landslide, I recklessly move my fingers and cast a barrage of [Earth Spirit Magic].
“I will help too!”
The invisible Melby also called out to the earth spirits using [Spirit Magic] and had them avert the mass of rock, earth and sand that came assaulting us.
Even though it should only have been a moment, it felt like a terribly long time passed.
I doubt the battle against the earth and sand even lasted ten seconds.
Melby and I succeeded in creating a ball of rock around the five of us.
That rock sphere was swept away with the incredible force of the landslide and in the end, it split right into two with a terrible smashing sound.
Although I was able to bypass the majority of the impact by levitating our bodies with [Psychokinesis], there was still a whiplash-like shock.
Without waiting for it to quieten down outside, we crawled out from the wreckage of the rock sphere and checked the situation.
It seems as though we had fallen to the bottom of the chasm.
We were at the bottom of a deep ravine, in the midst of earth and sand and lumps of rock that was raining down incessantly from above with a tremendous force.
“――Over there! Quickly!”
Elemia shouts, pointing to a section in the rock face.
What looked like the entrance to a cavern was there.
Anyhow, we should currently be heading somewhere where we can avoid the things flying at us from above.
We rushed towards the cavern.
The landslide instantly followed after.
The noise stopped once, but immediately after that, a hot wind blew through the cavern for an instant, and the thunderous roar of the landslide resounded once more.
Or rather, this, if we did this clumsily, wouldn’t we be escaping into the path of the firedrake’s breath……?
“Ah, it’s alright.
The firedrake’s on the opposite side so its breath shouldn’t come this way…… probably.”
Said Elemia, seeing my expression.
According to what I heard in my hometown, firedrakes use their breath to make their own lairs.
At those times, it first uses its breath to hollow out a deep pit in the middle and then builds its lair with that as the core.
And from inside that, it release their breath in all four directions to shape the surroundings of its lair.”
“……Wouldn’t it loose its shape that way?”
“I heard its breath is hot enough to easily melt boulders, but the firedrake uses its breath to melt the space underground and change the shape of its lair, then waits for it to cool down and solidify.
Apparently when a firedrake matures, it even utilises the nature of its breath to make a complex labyrinth in the vicinity of its burrow.
A few of the so-called “Dungeons” that exist throughout the world are firedrake nests with magic beasts residing in them.”
That much was never mentioned in the 『Abaddon Magic Compilation』.
“And so, when you consider our position in relation to the burrow, this place should be a dead angle of the breath.
Its breath is released diagonally-upwards from the burrow, so with this location so deep, even if the breath should pass by above our heads, it won’t be a direct hit…… I expect.”
Elemia says, a little lacking in confidence.
Her tone was unsure but I feel that what she said makes sense.
Then, Miguel cuts in.
“……But if the breath passes by diagonally above, doesn’t that mean it would harden diagonally above us and encase us?”
Elemia and I were speechless.
Miguel’s reasoning was so logical that I was surprised…… a little, but rather than that, the content of what he said was an issue.
I hurriedly rushed to the entrance we came from but,
There was a large noise, and a huge rock closed off the entrance.
Ugh, not yet!
“Ω ∨―― 《Tunnel》!”
Don’t make light of the [Earth Spirit Magic] tempered from the relic excavation and creating the ducts!
By means of my magic, a large hole was opened right in the centre of the huge rock.
Miguel gave a shout of joy.
Fufu, how is it.
With a satisfied look, I stuck out my chest, then――
With a shimmering flash of light, the large hole I opened vanished along with the huge rock.
There was no need for me to say it, the four children also started to run after seeing the lava streaming from the entrance.
We retreated into the seemingly naturally-formed cavern in desperation.
After following the winding path around several bends, we stopped hearing any noise from behind us.
All of us sunk down to the floor and let out a large sigh.
……Even I who shouldn’t tire, did the same thing just now.
I took a gulp of the water in the canteen hanging at my waist and then rose, cautiously returning the way we came.
Miguel and the others followed me in silence.
The lava had been blocked by a turn in the path.
It was still dark red but it should harden after a little while.
For the time being, we escaped being swallowed up by the lava and dying but,
“――Err. Did we just get shut in?”
In response to Donna’s words, I nodded solemnly.