Renya and the demons quickly agreed to an investigation by the three races, resulting in a mixed investigation team entering the demon city located next to Klinge to begin their examination. Just to make sure, it was decided that Renya would accompany them as an observer, but as soon as he saw the members of the investigation team, Renya was immediately assaulted by many doubts.
Renya had clearly believed that it would be an investigation to check whether the demons were doing something weird or had brought some strange items into the human territory, and thus expected the team members to be some rough, scary-looking folks like soldiers.
But, the members had been selected as if to completely betray Renya’s expectations. First, the beastmen, who could be considered to have the strongest fighters among the three races, didn’t dispatch even a single member. In other words, the investigation only contained humans and elves. Moreover, the dominating majority of the team members were elves.
On top of that, the humans and elves had only gathered somewhat slender and weakly-looking people who didn’t seem suited to anything entailing physical violence unlike trained soldiers.
“Somehow, they’re kinda different from what I’d expected.” Emil, the one representing the demons, voiced suspiciously, apparently harboring the same feelings of discomfort as Renya.
“Is something wrong?” Shion asked as representative of the three races.
In response, Emil nodded and worded out what felt out of place to her, “It’s just I was sure they’d sent a lot rougher and burlier folks over.”
“Wouldn’t it scare the demons if such people showed up here?” Shion objected, clearly looking as if she couldn’t comprehend what Emil was talking about.
Emil traced her cheek with a finger, “No, I mean, look, we’re demons, okay? Even if some scary-looking humans and elves were to show up here, it wouldn’t be a big deal.”
“If it doesn’t matter anyway, why would you care either way?”
“Well, it’s not like we’re completely unaware of what the other races think of us. At times like these you’d totally expect events where brawny soldiers flood into the town in droves, kidnap a few young girls, and interrogate them – through their bodies, of course.”
“Do you think that I’d allow anything like that to happen?”
Once Renya audibly tapped the pommel of his katana, it immediately caused the surrounding investigators to turn ghastly pale. And following that, they started to furiously shake their heads. For some reason, all of them were fully aware of the fact that their heads and torsos would become separated for life if they should entertain even the faintest trace of wickedness.
“But, if that’s the case, just what do those people want to investigate here in the first place?”
Now that it had become clear that it wouldn’t be a direct investigation of the demons themselves, Emil had absolutely no clue why the three races would go out of their way to use a part of their personnel to visit this town. Since it was a town inhabited by demons who excelled in what was called magic arts, it was certainly a fact that they had remarkably improved various functions of the town, when compared to human cities. But, Emil was sure that they might as well investigate Klinge if this was their objective.
Klinge, a city which Frau and Emil had built from scratch on an empty plot of land, was overflowing with facilities and functions that seemed to surpass even demon cities in many parts. Of course, even if the three races tried to copy all of Klinge’s features, it’d be impossible for them to achieve that since a great deal of Klinge’s functions depended on Renya as an absurd mana supply.
Still, if that was the goal of this whole endeavor, there would be no reason to choose the demon town as target since another place, where they could investigate what they wanted to know, existed without requiring the permission of the demons.
“It’s a foreign culture that’s fairly unknown, so it’d be helpful for a friendship between races to investigate the demon’s culture, or something like that?”
“Partner, if that was the case, the world would’ve perished by the time they were done with this.”
“An entertainment trip then?”
“At a time like this?”
“An investigation to discover the delicious food of the demonic cuisine?”
“I can guarantee you with absolute certainty that the food eaten by Klinge’s residents excels our cuisine by leaps and bounds when it comes to taste.”
While ignoring Shion’s opinion which was completely off-mark, Emil turned her eyes at the investigation team which had scattered all over town and started to check things. Emil thought that they would soon shift to a search of the private houses, assuming they were looking for suspicious items as she had suspected at first, but the team didn’t even try to take a look at the demons’ residences. If pushed to say, it rather looked as though they only cared about the townscape itself, such as streets and the walls of buildings.
This triggered Emil to rack her brain again.
Just because it’s a town built by demons, it doesn’t mean that we’ve used some extraordinary materials for the construction. Most of the buildings were erected with very ordinary materials such as wood and stones. If there’s anything special about it, it’d be the buildings made out of wood that can only be procured in the demon territory. But even that wood only differs in color, basically making it very normal lumber without any special properties or outrageous traits.
“It sure is a mystery, isn’t it?”
“Isn’t it fine like that since they’re not tampering around with anything?” Renya told Emil who was tilting her head in confusion over the incomprehensible goal of the investigation team.
Certainly, it wouldn’t feel very nice if they randomly and irresponsibly went around messing up things in town, even if they claimed it as inevitable, Emil assessed. But, it’s undeniable that I can’t really calm down because of that. Rather than them doing something like this, I could still somehow understand the situation if they were to kidnap several young women and examine them in ways that can’t be mentioned publicly, just like I joked about earlier. It’s not like I’m desiring for that to occur, though, Emil started to make excuses to herself as she turned her look outside the town.
The area over there was adjacent to Klinge and the demon town. It was a place sporting a fairly vast, level ground. But even over there a scene Emil couldn’t make heads or tails of seemed to play out.
A huge mountain of materials was being erected on that plain. Be it wooden or iron materials, a huge amount of materials in all kinds of shapes and sizes started to pile up into a mountain (not figuratively spoken). It was such an enormous amount of materials that it led Emil to ask herself whether they intended to build another city. Moreover, the amount kept growing day by day without an end in sight.
Unlike the investigation team that had entered the town over here, burly beastmen had been dispatched over there in great numbers. Muscular youngsters with animal ears could be seen far into the distance, carrying huge amounts of materials to the left and right.
“This side does bother me, but I’m also kinda curious about what’s going on over there.” The point bothering Emil was her complete lack of understanding what they were trying to build over there while being sure that they were trying to build something. “Renya, you haven’t heard anything?”
When Emil brought her question up with Renya, he followed her line of sight, wondering what she was talking about. He immediately noticed that she was referring to the mass of materials, which couldn’t be described as anything other than a mountain even when looking at it from a far distance.
“Ah…I had also tried to question the archduchess and the elven emperor about it, but they evaded giving me a clear answer.”
“Just now you totally excluded the beastman queen as if it was the most natural thing in the world, didn’t you?”
“If anyone would be scheming something, it’d be either the archduchess or the emperor, wouldn’t you say?” He retorted with words none of those present could deny.
While folding his arms, Renya continued speaking as if he was talking about someone else’s affair, “Considering the timing, I’d think it’s something related to the war against the demon king, but I haven’t the slightest idea what they could be doing there. Given that they’re going to build something after investing that many materials into it, I doubt it’s going to be anything half-assed, though.”
“Let me just ask in case, but partner, you haven’t heard anything?”
Assuming the archduchess was scheming something, the ones closest to her would be Shion and Mayria. When asked by Emil, Shion pointlessly threw out her chest and boldly answered, “There’s no way that mother would let me in on her plans.”
Renya and the investigators in the vicinity all fell over at once due to Shion basically admitting that her mother wouldn’t tell her information, which must be kept confidential, as it’d be likely for her to spill it all over the place. Only Emil alone tapped Shion’s shoulder, who kept acting all braggy about it for some reason, with a weary, exhausted expression.
“I suppose you’re totally right there, partner…”
“Maybe she did tell me something, but I don’t remember it anyway.”
Renya barely managed to stay on his feet this time after hearing this awfully pathetic comment of Shion said with a very decisive tone, but as the investigators apparently weren’t as steadfast as him, they toppled over while crashing into walls or weakly flopped down on the ground as if their knees gave way. Either way, they exhibited a variety of reactions.
“Your condition is seriously bad, partner…it’s making me worry, you know?”
“In the first place, it’d be unthinkable for me to participate in some kind of conspiracy, you know?”
At this point she had obviously given up on trying to hide her own muscle-brain ways of thinking, and instead flaunted it so offensively that it was actually refreshing in its own way.
“Yep, I got it. This is a lost cause. I guess I’ll try to ask Mayria or Rona later on…”
“Well, considering whom you’re talking about, I think your prospects would be grim.”
The question of how Mayria and Rona measured up to the archduchess remained unclear, but it was undeniable that both had their fair share of experience and understanding when it came to scheming. With just that, the idea of not mentioning anything unnecessary should be deeply ingrained into their bodies. It was difficult to think that they’d carelessly disclose important information in an outspoken, haphazard way like Shion would.
Very likely they’re going to stick to pretending to not know anything about the whole matter, even if I ask them, and if that’s impossible, they should keep their mouths shut, persistently claiming that they are not allowed to speak about it.
“I guess it’d be next to impossible to make those two spit out what they know.”
“Wouldn’t someone like Rona readily confess everything if we throw her into an elven village?”
“Stop it, okay? Don’t do it, no matter what. Got it?”
Unfortunately Mayria hasn’t a body that would draw the attention of the elves as she’s still growing. But, if it comes to Rona, she’s got a firmly-rooted, enthusiastic fan base in the elven country. Since Rona herself seems to hate those elves, it might show quite some effect if we used the method mentioned by Emil as a threat. But, if we did that, it’d obviously and fatally hurt Rona’s feelings. I’m not really eager to draw anger and resentment towards me when not necessary, Renya concluded.
“At this point, we’ve got no choice but to put the screws on the archduchess or the emperor then.”
“That’s not realistic either, is it? It’s not that it’d be impossible, but the timing would be bad.”
Although it wasn’t as though Renya couldn’t use that move, him forcibly interrogating the archduchess or the emperor now that they were about to start a huge war would be quite capable of dampening the morale of the soldiers. He wouldn’t be able to avoid being blamed for causing discord among allies.
“Even though it’d be just fine if they could honestly tell us what they’re doing over there.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s gotta be a reason for them to want to keep it concealed.”
Emil suspected that they kept it confidential because Renya’s side would protest if they heard of it or because they were fully aware of it being something bad to begin with.
And very likely it’s also connected to Renya in one way or another. That’s why the people around Renya haven’t been given any information either. Considering it like that, Rona and Mayria might have been left in the dark as well, seeing how they belong to Renya’s circle as well, Emil assessed.
Just then Shion called out to her, “I think there’s no point even if you brood over it all the time, partner. Rather than that…”
“Is something the matter, partner?”
“I’ve heard that it’s been decided for you to join the upcoming war as hero of the demons, but did you finish checking back with the other heroes?” Renya and Emil exchanged a look when suddenly confronted with this question. Without minding their reaction, Shion continued, “Sure, it’s not like it’d be your first meeting with them, so it might be alright to skip it, but since it’d be your first time to meet with them as fellow hero, so wouldn’t it be better to extend some proper greetings in light of an improved cooperation between you guys in advance?”
“Considering it’s coming from you, that’s a rather good idea.”
“Partner, do you have a fever?”
“…Since I know we’re talking about me, I’ll take your comments for what they are, but still…” Shion responded in disappointment to the two who both completely looked at her like pigeons who had been shot by a peashooter. “There’s also the matter of the dragonoid hero having pulled out. I find it hard to believe that the other heroes would do something similar at this point, but wouldn’t it be better for you guys to properly meet up at least once? I think that is much more fruitful than speculating here about things we don’t know anyway.”
“You might not be wrong about that.”
“If you like, you can head over right away. I mean, all that’s left to do here is endlessly observe some cryptic investigation, so I can take care of that part by myself as well, you know?”
For some reason Emil smiled complacently at Shion, who added that the heroes should spend most of their days working off their sweat on Klinge’s training grounds.
“Alright, I’ll take you up on that then. Is it okay for me to borrow Renya?”
“No problem. Renya, you don’t mind either, do you?”
“You’re right. I’d be definitely worried if I let Emil go there by herself.”
After all was said and done, Emil was a demon. In the eyes of the heroes, she should be a member of a hostile race, even if she was allowed to be their ally. Renya couldn’t tell what would happen if he allowed her to go meet them by herself. Thinking that things might proceed a bit smoother if he served as a mediator of sorts, Renya decided to leave things over here to Shion, and accompany Emil.
“Okay, sorry, but I’ll leave this place to you then.”
“Count on me. It’s not like I got anything to do anyway.”
“Well…that’s certainly true, but…”
While hearing Shion’s words, which made him wonder whether he should feel relieved or worried, from behind, Renya started to walk towards Klinge while taking Emil with him.
Shion, who had followed his back with her eyes, spat out a deep and long sigh once the two weren’t visible any longer.
“Thank you very much for your efforts, Shion-sama.” One of the nearby investigators said to her. “You somehow managed to deceive them, I suppose.”
“Really? Don’t you think we were able to trick them because it’s now? I felt somewhat nervous all the time.”
As a matter of fact, Shion and the surrounding investigators had been told about what was going to be built from now on, and what they were supposed to investigate. The reason why they didn’t let Renya in on it was the archduchess and emperor’s anticipation that he’d be strongly against it, so Shion and the others had been ordered to keep it confidential for as long as possible.
However, Shion thought that Renya and Emil might start to interrogate the investigators at the rate things were going, and thus came up with a means to have them leave this place by switching the topic, albeit somewhat unskillfully.
“Anyway, since I’ve got them to leave, proceed with the work. As fast as possible.”
“As you command, is what I’d like to say, but it’s quite difficult to understand. I wonder how long it’ll take to just grasp the whole thing.”
The investigator returned to her work even while making it clear that it’d be quite a chore. While watching her leave, Shion looked up to the sky and sighed once more, wondering whether she’d really be able to keep deceiving Renya until everything was done.
————– End of Part 1 ————–
When Renya and Emil arrived at the training ground after separating from Shion, a scenery so awful that they’d have never expected it spread out in front of them.
Originally this place was designed as a training field for many soldiers and as such it had been alloted a remarkably huge space, considering it being an area inside the city of Klinge. Moreover, it was surrounded by a thick and tall stone wall so as to not let any noise or damage spread to the city itself. The wall had been built while investing a substantial amount of money, but when Renya and Emil got there, cracks were running across its surface at many places, and at some points big holes had even opened up. Due to the wall’s disastrous state, Renya unintentionally stopped in front of it.
“How did it come to this?”
This was the question that left his mouth, but next to him, Emil had no answer at hand.
Given that Klinge’s facilities were used by many folks with abilities outside any norm, Renya intended to put plenty of care in making the wall as sturdy as possible. Since most things would end up becoming rubble when exposed to Renya’s katana or magic, he couldn’t test the wall’s performance himself, but even so it should have been equipped with enough durability to easily withstand something at the level of a battering ram attack as they were used during wars.
Renya had believed that destroying the wall wouldn’t be such an easy feat, even when taking the heroes’ power into account, but now he cocked his head in doubt, wondering whether he had possibly underestimated their capabilities.
As he was looking at the wall, it suddenly began to tremble. Renya and Emil exchanged a quick look, and then watched the wall continuing to shake. It was impossible to tell just what was going on beyond the thick and tall wall from the outside. And yet, going by its shaking that clearly followed a set rhythm while getting damaged, both immediately grasped that something human was probably the cause behind this.
“Renya, the cracks in the wall are…”
After vibrating for the umpteenth time, the wall finally became unable to endure the impacts, and huge cracks started to develop on its surface.
Seemingly sensing something unsettling, Emil leaned close to Renya.
Since you’re a demon, you should be able to cope with most things yourself. Renya thought something that would very likely earn him a scolding if Emil learned of it.
In front of the two, the wall finally started to crumble, starting at the places where it got heavily cracked, thus creating a new hole in the wall.
“Lepard, you’re out of the premises again.”
“Tsk, what a brittle wall!”
The one clicking his tongue and cursing as he brushed off the dust within the cloud of sand that got whirled up by the wall collapsing was Lepard, the beastman hero. On the other side of the hole, Kurz, the human hero, hopped up and down while manifesting something like black mist behind him. Moments ago he had hurled his complaint at Lepard, who had apparently caused the big hole with his own body.
“You have to dodge, Lepard! If you stop moving your feet, it’s only natural for you to become the perfect target for a shower of blows, right!?”
“That’s easy for ya to say. That black stuff is cheatin’, don’t ya think? It’s way too fast!”
“Though it’s no wonder that your body is regarded as a mystery, seeing how you only feel a bit of pain after having hit the wall so many times.” The one saying so through the gaps in the mist behind Kurz was Grün.
Without Renya even having the time to get astounded about him suddenly popping out from who-knows-where, the black mist extended without Kurz even looking back. While nimbly dodging Kurz’s backwards sweep by crouching down, Grün jumped backwards so as to open up some distance between them.
“Uh-oh, how dangerous.”
“Guuh! I’ll definitely hit you!”
While Kurz turned around, suspecting that some random attack would never be able to land on Grün, he unleashed several streaks of the black mist, wriggling like giant snakes, towards the elf. Unlike with Lepard, a single hit by something like that would very likely result in a serious injury for the slender elf, but while starting to move very quickly, he dodged some of the swaths while repelling or cutting down others with his katana, not allowing even a single of their attacks to graze him.
“Get hit by at least one!”
“Don’t be unreasonable. Just one of these things would be enough to completely incapacitate me.”
“It’s going to be just one blow, so don’t be such a tease!”
The black mist, which had looked like giant serpents up until then, changed its shape, split into several clusters, and assailed Grün as black orbs.
Kurz’s attacks, which had increased in quantity albeit being weaker now, were more than enough to cause Grün’s face to cramp up, but even so, none of them reached him. As Kurz attempted to hit Grün, who continued to dodge, freely relying on his defensive body maneuvers and the katana in his hands, by increasing the barrage even further, someone tapped his shoulder.
“Aren’t ya forgettin’ about me?”
Having focused too much on landing a hit on Grün with his attacks, Kurz allowed Lepard, who was still able to fight, to draw close. Kurz was lost for words as he knew that he had messed up while Lepard grinned broadly.
Looking at Kurz with a smile, Lepard suddenly poured strength into the hand placed on Kurz’s shoulder, lifted up Kurz’s small body, and began to whirl him around as if he was holding a twig in his hand.
“It’s my return gift for ya, so enjoy it to the fullest!”
Carefreely performing the heavy labor of swinging a person around while grabbing their shoulder, Lepard whirled Kurz, who released something similar to a scream out of his mouth, to his heart’s content, before throwing him towards the wall as if to give his performance the proper finishing touch.
As Kurz couldn’t even adopt a defensive posture since he got dizzy from all the swinging, his body got heartily smacked against the wall, resulting in a cloud of dust rising up while the wall itself got pulverized.
“How about this? Did ya see!?” Lepard triumphantly shouted while clenching his fists.
If any ordinary person had experienced the outrageous act of being swung around by their shoulder, their shoulder bones would have very likely broken or fractured, and at the point of their bodies colliding with the wall, it’d have been impossible for them to avoid suffering heavy injuries all over.
However, we were talking about the body of a hero here. Something that was far removed from any ordinary person.
Even though the wall fell apart due to the impact, Kurz himself didn’t look like he took much damage. He immediately stood up within the cloud of dust, and fixedly glared at Lepard while stroking his shoulder and head which seemed to hurt quite a bit.
“I told you that hurt, Lepard!!”
The black mist furiously gushing out at Kurz’s feet transformed into countless tentacles at such a density that it completely shut out Kurz’s visual field, and flooded towards Lepard.
Lepard, who didn’t possess a body as nimble as Grün’s, intercepted them with his gloved arms. Without minding a certain extent of damage, he chose to only knock down the attacks which would become fatal if they hit. The tentacles, which got flicked away by that defense method, trashed around, breaking and drilling through everything around them, regardless whether it was wall or ground, causing a shower of fragments to rain down into the vicinity.
“Uuuuoooh!? Hey! That’s friggin’ dangerous! Are ya plannin’ to kill me!?” Lepard yelled in protest after experiencing the power behind the tentacles he repelled, but Kurz didn’t ease up on his onslaught.
Rather, one could get the hunch that the ferocity of his attacks increased in proportion to the pain Kurz became aware of over time as visible from the tears accumulating in his eyes.
“It’s because it hurts so much!”
“That ain’t no reason for anythin’! This is trainin’! Trainin’! Don’t forget that!”
“Well, Lepard, I believe you also launched many attacks that can’t be described as training anymore.”
Because the tentacles repelled by Lepard flew all over the place in addition to the barrage of new tentacle attacks aimed at him, the entire training ground had turned into a danger zone. Grün had shrewdly escaped to the only place outside the range of the attacks – behind Lepard, and used his safe location to retort Lepard’s bickering from behind.
“Usually you’d die if you got slammed against a wall with such force, wouldn’t you?”
“He didn’t die, so what’s the problem anyway!?”
“Going by that logic, you could also say that Kurz’s attacks are alright since you haven’t died, but…would you actually agree with that?”
“If I take these head on, I’m toast!”
Lepard had adopted defensive measures that also included his resolve to suffer a certain extent of injuries. Currently he was getting grazed or weakly hit, but he was literally in the process of experiencing the power behind the tentacles with his own body. His insight to only fend off those tentacles that would hurt him badly was terrific as it avoided him dropping out of the battle right away, but considering things from the slowly accumulating smaller injuries, Lepard could immediately predict that things wouldn’t end nicely for him, no matter how sturdy his body might be, if he was directly hit by just one of the tentacles he was repelling.
Hiding behind him, Grün apparently hit upon a good idea. He sheathed one of his short swords into its scabbard, and casually placed the free hand on Lepard’s back.
“Hey!? What ya plannin’ to do!?”
“As far as I remember we said that this training wouldn’t be us two versus Kurz, but a battle royale.”
“Wait a sec! Ya usin’ me as a shield has been for…no way, don’t tell me…!”
“Personally I think that it’s one of a hero’s duties to carry out what’s necessary without any hesitation.”
“Don’t use the word ‘hero’ as it suits yar damn needs!”
Lepard raised his voice into shouting as he couldn’t turn around in response to Grün’s words, but likewise he couldn’t do anything about whatever Grun was doing behind him as he had to deal with the frontal onslaught of Kurz.
Under these circumstances, Grun had placed a hand on Lepard’s back. Now he powerfully stomped one foot down, and without alleviating the recoil from this, he let the power pass through his body, converging it towards the palm resting on Lepard’s back.
Lepard was hurled towards Kurz as if being intensely pushed from behind rather than receiving a blow. Without a single change on his expression, Kurz reacted to the approaching Lepard cannonball by intensifying his tentacle attacks.
“W-Wait a moment! Like this, I’m gonna be the only one drawin’ the short end of the stick, won’t I?”
“You can’t underestimate Grün.”
There existed two reasons why Grün blew Lepard towards Kurz in addition to attacking him.
First, it followed the thinking that Lepard’s big beastman body might squash Kurz with its sheer mass by a stroke of luck. However, Kurz prevented this by increasing the intensity of his attacks and thus knocking down Lepard mid-flight.
Second, he planned to use Lepard’s body as cover and distraction. While Lepard hit the ground with a squishy sound after being shot down mid-flight, Grün, who had been running after him in his shadow, brandished his two swords, slashing away at Kurz.
“Kurz, here I come!”
————– End of Part 2 ————–
Capitalizing on his own strength, his speed, Grün used his two katana to keep repelling and cutting down the attacks unleashed by Kurz. In response, Kurz began to gradually retreat while growling lowly.
Kurz had expended quite a bit of power to kill the momentum of the approaching heavy object called Lepard and moreover knocking it on the ground, thus he was unable to meet Grün, who charged in the instant Kurz had launched his attacks against Lepard, with the same density of blows as the beastman before. Another major issue playing a role here was Kurz’s lack of combat experience when it came to dealing with swift attacks like Grün’s, who boasted the highest ability among the three heroes when it came to quickness.
If it had been Lepard, Kurz would have been able to at least hold him back as long as he gathered his attack power in one point and threw all of it at Lepard, but if he did the same with Grün as opponent, the elf would dodge this full-power attack at hair’s breadth, and very likely use the time Kurz would require to pull back his mist to enter a fatal combat range.
Because Kurz was aware of this, he avoided any bigger attacks, and relied on many smaller and compact attacks instead, but these attacks were easily cut down by Grün’s two katana.
“What’s wrong, Kurz? You’ve already got your back to the wall, you know?”
Kurz’s boot bumped against a hard obstacle when he backed off even further. Noticing that he had reached the wall surrounding the training ground, Kurz realized that he’d been cornered by Grün without him being aware of it.
“It looks like I’ll come out as the clear winner this time.”
“N, nn…” Kurz frowned as Grün slowly closed the distance.
It wasn’t as though he had already lost, but it was also true that he had no solution at hand to overcome this pinch. This caused Kurz’s mind to become panicked. If he didn’t make some kind of big gamble at one point, he wouldn’t be able to stop Grün from closing the distance, yet it was difficult for Kurz to discern when and where he should make that bet.
As long as he landed the hit after making a big move, it’d be all fine, but if he missed, he’d expose a fatal opening instead.
“Now then, prepare yourself, Kurz.”
“…Ah, Lepard is back up.”
“Even if you pull such a bluff, do you think I wo…uld…”
Grün believed that Kurz, who had glanced behind him, was just trying to trick him, but his words were interrupted by the presence he could sense behind himself. After all, he could clearly feel Lepard being back up and running although he should have been down after suffering Kurz’s attacks from the front and his own from behind.
“No way…for him to still have power left after getting hit by all that…”
“I can’t believe it either, but it’s reality.”
“Ya two assholes…how dare ya do all that to me…!?”
Grün and Kurz, who were in a state where they’d immediately lose if they stopped their hands, were unable to take any actions despite knowing that Lepard had gotten back up.
Probably having perceived as much, Lepard didn’t seem to be in a rush as he made his palms face each other in front of his chest while keeping a space open between them.
“Isn’t that kinda dangerous?”
“I can’t see it from my position, but it sure feels like it’d be dangerous.”
Even though they fully understood that Lepard was getting ready to attack, neither Kurz nor Grün could ease on attacking each other.
“I’ll pay ya back double! Eat this Roar of the Fang King!!”
The violent power bursting out from in-between his palms headed straight for Grün and Kurz while gouging out the ground in its path. Due to the incoming roar which wouldn’t end at a light injury even for a hero if they took it on head-on, Grün and Kurz at once adopted a defensive maneuver Lepard hadn’t even considered as a possibility.
“Twin Katana Chain Slash!”
The two, who had duked it out so far, instantly directed their attacks against the approaching roar as if having arranged it in advance.
The black tentacles unleashed by Kurz and the wind blades created by Grün’s katana clashed against the roar, offsetting each other’s powers while whittling down the force of the respective other attack.
“Ya fuckers! What’s with this peaceful defendin’ ‘gainst my attack! Ya shoulda have have been good boys and taken my hit just like that!”
“I really hate the idea of losing against you, Lepard.”
“I’d also rather agree on a temporary ceasefire than losing.”
“Hey, Renya.” Emil, who had been watching the whole chain of events from the other side of the wall, called out to Renya next to her while watching how the heroes resumed their battle royale. “I’ve got a tiny bit worried whether I’ll really be able to fit in as a hero, you know?”
“You’d be totally okay with this, wouldn’t you? If it’s something at this level, at least.” Renya’s reply towards Emil, whose face started to get drenched in sweat, was truly simple, irresponsible, and half-baked.
“Now then, finally we’ve got all four bums assembled in one place.” Renya said while looking at the faces of the heroes who had lined up on the training ground.
Due to Renya’s way of phrasing, Lepard frowned and Grün smiled bitterly, with only Kurz keeping smiling innocently. Just Emil, the last one to have joined the line-up, protested.
“Isn’t that a terrible way to put it!?”
“Though, it’s somewhat problematic that the dragonoid hero isn’t present.”
Ignoring Emil’s objection, Renya stated his thoughts, resulting in everyone’s faces ¯ except for Kurz’s ¯ darkening. Even in the eyes of the heroes, this state of missing one of the heroes, who should have originally assisted them in the demon king subjugation, seemed to be a matter of concern. On top of that, with Emil herself being the actual reason for Albert dropping out, her reaction was just normal.
Kurz remaining unfazed was either him not understanding the situation or him not wanting to understand the situation. However, Renya couldn’t tell which of either applied here.
‘It’s also possible that he has already forgotten about Albert who protested against my rescue of Emil by running away,’ Renya secretly suspected.
“There’s no point in bothering about something that can’t be changed anyway. I think it’d be a more realistic approach to consider how to handle things with the combat forces we’ve got on hand.”
Renya was the only one to not regard Albert’s absence as much of a problem. For Renya, someone, who didn’t really feel like participating in a battle, would only become an increasing burden, the harsher the battle became. Hence, he thought of it as a simplification of the issue if he didn’t have to waste any thoughts on such a person from the very start.
“If I had to say what worries me, it’d be the prospect of having to wage war against the demon king with people who can’t work together.”
No matter how outstanding their individual abilities might be, a group that didn’t know how to cooperate was brittle. Of course, if the opponent was someone they could overwhelm with individual strength, it wouldn’t pose a problem. But, if they had to fight opponents who were equal in individual strength or actually excelled, it’d be bad if they got crushed one by one or got in each other’s way.
“With that said, it’s become necessary to consolidate your teamwork.”
“Okay, I get a really bad feeling about this.”
Kurz’s face remained unchanged, him still smiling as before whereas Lepard looked puzzled since he didn’t understand what Renya was trying to say. On the other hand, Emil had understood what Renya was planning even without him having explained anything yet, and sighed in resignation. Only Grün put the bad premonition he was feeling into words.
“Bad feeling? About what?”
“Lepard, what methods could you think of to consolidate our teamwork as heroes under these circumstances?”
Lepard, who had his questions answered with another question, didn’t mind this fact and pondered about Grün’s words while being watched by Renya who believed that it might be Grün’s notion to make Lepard use his brain even a bit by not providing the answer right away.
“Well, it’s gonna be battle teamwork, right? So actually dukin’ it out would be the fastest and best way, wouldn’t it?”
“I also agree with that opinion, but in that case, who’s going to become our opponent?”
“It won’t be much of a teamwork trainin’ if the opponent ain’t as strong or stronger than us heroes, I’d say, so…”
Thinking up to the point that it’d be meaningless if the opponent wasn’t at least strong enough to force them into working together since a weak opponent could be handled by each of them individually, Lepard’s face turned ghastly pale when he realized who might be such a strong opponent. Seeing the change in his expression, Grün judged that Lepard had finally grasped their current predicament.
“Of course, I’ll take you on.” Renya declared after having judged their conversation to be finished.
But, Lepard immediately snapped at that, “Just wait a sec, margrave! Do ya intend to slaughter the heroes before the demon king subjugation!?”
“Don’t worry, all will be fine. I’m promising you that you won’t die. I mean, I’m just a simple noble of a small area in one of many, many countries, am I not? Compared to the demon king, I’m insignificant to say the least.”
“Ya kiddin’!? Who’s gonna believe such bullshit!? Someone like ya could easily butcher the likes of the demon king while pickin’ yar nose, no!?”
“Aren’t you a bit unreasonable there? I’m a human, you know? A petty, frail, mortal, insignificant human, right?”
“If yar a human like that, what does that make us!? Ants? Maggots!?”
“You’re so damn noisy. Come on, get ready. I’ll start, okay?”
Having looked at Lepard, who kept protesting, as if watching an annoying bug, Renya lifted a hand.
————— End of Part 3 —————