Marlene? The Heroine who’d summoned Fiorfata together with Brian? What was she thinking, showing up now of all times?
At the moment, however, I found myself not quite caring about that.
“…get off.” I growled.
Being trampled under her feet was the still-warm body of the wind dragon that had been fighting together with me, before they were killed by the Heroine.
“Haah?! The hell are you talking about?!” She screeched, slamming her heels downward.
The next instant, the dragons circling in the air let loose a spine-chilling killing intent. Another wind dragon dove down to unleash its rage on Marlene. They suddenly exploded during their descent, blasting off and crashing on the ground outside the city.
During my moment of surprise, Marlene turned the staff she was holding in a strange stance toward me. The ground below me abruptly erupted, flinging me away dozens of meters.
“Tsk, small targets are such a trouble to hit,” Marlene spat out. She swiftly jammed something into the end of her staff and once more pointed it at me.
That wasn’t a staff. It was… a musket gun? I’d thought it to be a staff since it looked different from modern firearms, plus it was made from wood, but on a closer look I could see the resemblance to a rifle.
I didn’t feel much magic coming from the musket itself. However, the thing she’d just stuffed inside the gun was giving off a crazy magic signal.
“…what’s that bullet?”
I stood up, getting out of the rubble. Marlene scoffed, her unhinged smile once more showing on her face.
“I wouldn’t have thought a demihuman to know about guns. Brian’s got some weird but really good ones of his own, but this thing here? We made it in Quarancinq by ourselves. It shoots monsters’ magic stones that have been compressed with special magic. It can kill even you, Dark Bitch!”
As Marlene spoke, she took out another bullet from her chest. I felt an even more powerful emanation of magic from it than the one before.
“This is a bullet made out of a dragon’s magic stone. As you can see, a single shot can kill even a dragon. This thing is more powerful than the magical artillery. Be grateful, animal, I’ve had to gather magic stones for nearly ten years for this!”
Seeing the bullet that used to be a dragon magic stone, the flying dragons all roared in rage. Marlene pointed her gun toward the sky.
“No!!” I shouted, immediately stretching out my hand to squeeze.
Marlene shrieked. But the Causality attack only bounced off her with a spark, together with something peeling off of her. It looked like a talisman.
“I’ve long since prepared for your tricks, rabbit! You’re not so scary if I have my scapegoats!”
Marlene smugly showed off one of her amulets.
A magitool to protect her? But how much magic had she poured into the thing for it to actually be able to defend against me?
“…fight me alone. One on one.”
“Fine. I’ll show you the power of a Heroine. The power of the Sage!”
I told the dragons to stay back with a glance of my eyes. As I got close to her, Marlene aimed her gun at me.
“Why aren’t you fighting the Unseelie Lord? Didn’t you call it up?”
“…shut up. Like hell I can do anything about it by myself.”
“Aren’t you a Heroine? Don’t you have your responsibility?”
“Shut up, shut up!” Marlene shouted in hysterics, unwilling to listen. “It’s not my fault! …that’s right, it’s Brian’s! It’s all because of him! They’re not going to put all the blame on me, they can’t! I just need to kill you by myself, and I’ll be forgiven. They won’t do it!”
I didn’t think her name would be cleared just by killing me, but it looked like to her, the reputation she had as a ‘Hero’ was more important than anything else.
Even more important than the lives of others or the fate of this world.
I couldn’t understand her, but there was one thing I did understand: I couldn’t let her insanity be the cause of any more suffering.
“Die, Dark Bitch!!”
Her magic gun spat out fire. I had promptly dodged, but the shockwave still blew me several meters away.
This was difficult to dodge. The blast range was way too big. I landed, rolling on the ground, and I threw a large cloud of cold air at Marlene.
“You can’t hurt me!”
My magic once more bounced off with crackling electricity, removing another of her talisman. Her gun fired off another shot.
“Stop running, rabbit!”
[Marlene] [Race: Human ♀] [The Heroine “Sage”] [Magic Points (MP): 757/800] [Hit Points (HP): 293/300] [Total Combat Power: 14590]
She wasn’t much different in combat power to the other Heroes, yet the dragons with over twenty thousand combat power still died in a single shot. Which meant the attack power of that gun must be over twenty thousand.
If I assumed that power hadn’t come from the gun itself, then the only other possibility was those magic-stone bullets.
Even I would have been hard-pressed if Marlene was firing it at full-auto, but she always stopped to check the results of each shot. She was showing a lot of irritation each time she missed.
…did she not have much ammo?
If those bullets were made from dragons and similarly powerful monsters, then even if she’d stockpiled them for a decade, I didn’t think she’d have that many.
And perhaps the same went for her defense.
Single-use or not, it was unlikely that she could have an unlimited number of such powerful defensive charms.
“What? Have you finally given up, then?”
Marlene was puzzled for a moment, seeing me suddenly standing stock-still, but she still quickly re-aimed her gun. I waved my fingers at her in provocation. Her eyebrows raised, and she shot at my face.
I kept my eyes on the speeding projectile, confirming its trajectory, and twisted my head just enough to let it pass me by. The bullet hit what remained of Soixansept’s palace behind me and blew it up.
“Wha-?! S-stay still, fucking rabbit!”
Marlene shot twice, thrice, all aiming for my head. I dodged them the same way as before: by centimeters.
If I made a mistake here, I would be in for a world of hurt. Luckily, the speed of bullets was still barely within my capability as long as I knew where they were coming from.
And as I expected, she was a Heroine, not a soldier.
When I was fighting with Earth’s military, the people using explosive weapons never aimed directly at me, instead at the ground under me. They relied on the explosion itself to do damage.
If Marlene started doing that, I’d be in trouble. Luckily, she kept shooting high as a result of me standing still and provoking her.
“Damn it, why…”
After several more misses, Marlene’s expression paled slightly as she was about to load the next bullet in.
Was she running out? Or was she worrying that she wouldn’t have enough to deal with the dragons if she used her gun any further?
I didn’t miss my chance. My hands pointed at her to squeeze.
Magical sparks flew all over her. A bunch of charms peeled off.
How many did she have? Fine then, I just needed to beat her up myself if I had to. As I stepped forward to approach her, Marlene aimed her magic gun, hesitated for an instant, then switched to casting a spell at me.
A bolt of lightning ran from the tip of her finger toward me in a straight line. I could feel that it wasn’t going to chase me, so I simply sidestepped it. I arrived at melee range just as Marlene, having not yet learned her lesson, once more pulled the trigger on her gun.
My right hand swatted the gun away, while my knee slammed into her stomach. She coughed painfully, blood spurting out of her mouth as she fell on her knees, her charms scattering from the impact. The gun was out of her hands.
And so it ended… but what do I do with her?
If I let her go and if the humans caught her, she’d probably be executed. But maybe I could use her magical defense against Fiorfata?
With the new idea in mind, I picked up one of the fallen charms, unwittingly Identifying it.
I could not believe my eyes.
I picked Marlene up by her neck. She yelped.
“What are you…”
[Scapegoat Talisman] [Defensive Item] ・A consumable item. Sealed within is a soul of a living being. Serves as a scapegoat to protect user from instant-kill attacks. ・Material: [Infant Elf]
“…and you call yourself human?!”
“B-because you… keep using your… weird tricks…” Marlene said, unrepentant even with her face bloodied, her words straining in agony.
“What are humans… what the hell is humanity?!”
I slammed her into the ground, eliciting a scream of pain from her, and once more brought her up by her neck.
“There was an old man over there who died protecting a demihuman kid! Even I knew humans can be so selfless! Yet there are humans killing their own kind, humans like you going around blaspheming the life of others without blinking an eye, all just for fame, for glory! WHY?!”
“…d-don’t care… not… my fault…”
“…right, I see.”
I smashed Marlene to the ground one more time. I searched her chest for that most powerful magic-stone bullet that she’d shown me, and I loaded it into the gun, trying to remember how she’d done it.
“O Mistress of Dark! The Unseelie Lorde cometh! We must depart, hurry!” The gold dragon warned me from the sky.
I looked toward Fiorfata’s direction, giving it a glare. I then turned to the dragons above me and called at them.
“Go ahead first! I’ll follow you right away after I get a hit in!”
“Art thou certain? It shan’t be simple.”
“I’ll be fine! Go!”
The five dragons hovered uncertainly, but they still slowly flew away in the end.
I picked Marlene up as the woman tried to crawl away. With the magic gun in hand, I flew toward Fiorfata.
“…w-what are you… going to do?”
“Making your death at least be useful.” I coldly replied.
Her face visibly paled.
I didn’t understand humans. It was like they had both an angel and a demon living inside their hearts.
But there was one thing I did know.
Humans were weak. They were overwhelmingly weak compared to other creatures. It was why they sought power in their fear. Their weakness was why they could be kind to others.
Humans must never gain power.
And I would remove those who had to keep it that way.
Fiorfata was showing up clearly in my view now. It didn’t seem to have lost much of its magic. Upon seeing me, it vibrated as if laughing. It greeted me with an extra-big magical blast.
I dodged it, grazing the projectile. It wiped out a whole forest and a human city upon impact.
It was taunting me, telling me to stop running, to face it head-on.
“Not yet. Wait a bit, and I’ll fight you seriously… here, something to tide you over.”
Marlene squeaked fearfully as she felt my rising magic power.
I used Causality Alteration to break open the talismans and free the souls trapped inside. Next, I turned the talismans’ residue and the bullets into magic power, then stuffed it into Marlene to turn the woman herself into a bomb.
And with all my power, I used Dimensional Manipulation and Causality Alteration to throw the struggling woman at Fiorfata several kilometers away.
Marlene flew through the air like a bullet, screaming soundlessly all the while. The moment Fiorfata raised its hand toward her, I aimed and fired the magic gun, using Causality Alteration to make sure I hit the currently-very-volatile woman.
She detonated in an enormous explosion right next to Fiorfata. I was flung away even when I was already several kilometers from the blast.
Aaaah, damn it… I used too much magic.
I turned my eyes toward Fiorfata while my body continued to be tossed around in the air by the shockwave. It appeared from within the explosion unharmed… well, maybe a little harmed this time.
It resumed throwing magical blasts at me. Unable to dodge in mid-air, I took a defensive posture.
But right at that moment, a dragon, white as snow, caught me between their teeth. The beast immediately carried me away, flying as fast as they could.
“Do not overexert thyself, Mistress of Dark. I am the last of my brethren tasked with the mission to distract the Unseelie Lorde. Whilst thou hast been most reckless, I expect thy attack to have prompted the fiend to pursue only us for the nonce. I shall be thy wings henceforth. Thy battle continuest yet!”
“Yeah… let’s go!”
A/N: The Sage had exited the game.
Shedy has decided to take power away from the human race. Human military power is the deterrence that preserves the balance on Earth, but on Yggdrasia, Shedy’s existence itself serves the role.
As for the other Heroes… well, it depends on their actions from now on.