Translator and editor: SaltyTank
The next morning, Andre was feeling an odd sense of discomfort. He urged everyone to pack their things up and hurried on their way back. None of them complained, for they knew that the situation had changed. Their previous method of predicting the gods’ attacks was now ineffective.
Andre’s senses weren’t that far off either—something had indeed happened back at the base. There were gods near the base, corpses that had their brain cores removed to be exact.
The group further upped their pace as they almost ran back to the base. They were met with a person who was donned in pitch-black armour, a dark helmet that had devilish horns, and carried a large kite shield on the back. The person simply looked at them in silence.
‘Marie! What happened?’ Andre rushed over to the swordswoman and held her hand, almost a bit forcefully.
The idea that the silent Marie was the warrior never crossed Jade’s mind, let alone her ability to kill gods on her own, just like the other two fighters in the group.
‘Got attacked.’ Marie’s muffled voice emerged from beneath her helmet. It almost sounded like she was sighing at the same time.
Jade found the helmet very unpleasant. The faceshield had a terrifying look, and as if it wasn’t enough, it had horns that resembled the ones gods had.
‘I know! Just one of them? Is the underground safe? Did the sky collapse beforehand?’
‘No collapses, underground is safe… But more are coming.’
Andre did not hold back with his barrage of questions, and Marie responded each one of them concisely with just a few words. Finally, she lifted her hand and pointed to the front.
‘That’s why I’m here, waiting for them.’
‘There’s more? How many, how far?’
‘Three, five minutes.’
Hearing her reply, the group reacted in a way as though they had drilled it before—they dropped all their miscellaneous items to the ground in a neat and tidy way. Apart from Prommel, the rest hurried out of the base, ready for combat.
Andre and Hilde looked up at the sky. Even after a while, they could not find any signs of the gods showing up. It was then Marie stepped in front of the two.
Unlike their usual encounters, the gods did not descend from above this time, but instead flapped their wings as they flew near ground level while approaching. Andre had never seen this happen before and hesitated slightly.
Meanwhile, Jade the non-combatant also snuck her way out of the base. Though she could see the gods getting closer by the second, she only retreated further away from the group and hid behind a large boulder.
The fight was on.
Marie loaded her kite shield onto her arm and dashed in to meet the incoming gods. With how heavily she was armoured, she was the true vanguard of the team, just that she had always been in charge of protecting the base.
The azure aura that had only been shrouding her skin now seeped out of the dark armour, completing the shift to her combat mode.
Marie’s ability was sensing and detecting movements. If she narrowed down the detection range, she could grasp even the tiniest of motions. This allowed her to parry or block attacks with the least energy and movement.
Pushing her shield forward at a perfectly calculated angle, she cleanly parried the slashing claws and thrusted her sword next to her shield. The counterattack lacked power and barely scratched her opponent, but she immediately gave up pursuit and took a few steps back.
The next moment, she was teamed up by three gods. Her armour and magic took the brunt of the attacks and she was unscathed, yet the powerful shock waves travelled through her armour and left her immobilised. It was exactly according to plan.
As the gods were tangled in their fight with Marie, Andre took the opportunity to send a powerful slash at one of the gods’ neck and severed it—at least it was supposed to.
Unexpectedly, the powerful attack barely managed to cut halfway into its neck.
‘Strange…!’ Andre muttered as he retreated to avoid an incoming strike.
He couldn’t help but send a suspicious glance at his sword. The blade was still fully covered in blood. Why could he not cut through its neck? Something felt wrong, but he couldn’t tell what it was.
Even more surprisingly, bubbly tissues sprouted out from the wound and sealed it in the blink of an eye.
‘Hold up! Andre, something’s not right! Why can’t I cut ‘em off!’
Hilde was rapidly shifting between her mist and physical form, dodging attacks one after another. Her shortsword broke into half, with a large part of the blade stuck in a god’s body. It was clear that she was facing the same issue as Andre.
‘Just now, the same,’ said Marie in an emotionless voice.
Once again, she shield-bashed a god and pushed it away. If she had not been covering for the confused Andre and Hilde, the two would have been in grave danger already. Andre really wanted to yell at her for not mentioning it earlier.
Not only did their activity patterns change, their bodies seemed to have undergone some changes as well. It was annoying and infuriating for Andre, and those emotions were reflected in the change in his fighting style.
If one slash didn’t do the trick, he’d slash twice; if twice didn’t work either, he’d use whatever method he could to cut at least a hole in them. Under Marie’s protection, Andre was almost fighting like a mad man with how aggressive he was.
It took them almost thrice the usual time just to get rid of the first god. They fought from the east all the way to the west, almost reaching all the way to where Jade was hiding, before the fight slowly shifted back to where it started.
The head that they had cut off with a great deal of effort yapped its mouth several times as it rolled across the ground; even the fighters who were used to blood and gore found it repulsive.
The three were burning through their stamina a lot quicker than they had expected. It had been years since they had such a tough fight.
In order to kill the gods effectively, they had studied their enemies for years, yet it felt like all the effort was for naught today. It was rather frustrating, but now was not the time for it. They spared no effort as they swung their weapons and fought back.
A god slashed at Marie with its scythe-wings, who took the attack on with her shield. The powerful strike sunk her feet a few centimetres into the ground. Noticing her situation, Andre rushed over to support her from behind.
Hilde flanked the god and sent a two-handed slash with her longsword at its neck. Just as expected, her weapon was stuck halfway through. She swiftly let go of it and circled around to the other side. With two daggers in hand, she thrusted them into its half-severed neck and yanked the short blades sideways as hard as she could. Finally, the head fell off from where it belonged and dropped to the ground.
‘Behind,’ Marie gave Hilde a kind reminder of what was to come. She shoved another god away before tripping Hilde down with her leg.
The next moment, a pair of wings impaled the ground where Hilde had been from above. The gods’ support had arrived, two of them to boot.
Andre tucked onto Hilde’s waist belt and lifted her up to retreat. Marie also shielded the group from the gods as they regrouped. After fighting so hard to kill two gods, they were now back at the initial three-against-three scenario.
‘Today’s a busy day alright.’
Hilde shook herself off Andre in dissatisfaction, but after the series of attacks just now, she only had a shortbow and two daggers left in her arsenal. It was clearly not a situation she’d want to find herself in.
‘We can only kill them all, let’s go.’
Under his command, Marie charged forward alone. The unwavering atmosphere she gave off almost scared Jade, leaving the teenage girl thinking whether or not she knew what the word ‘danger’ meant.
Andre quickly munched a brain core then joined the fray. Under the cover of Hilde’s arrows, the duo engaged themselves in the fight against three gods.
Blood and sweat sprinkled across the place; Andre was using even his wounds as a weapon, trying to spray at least some of the blood from his injuries onto the enemies.
Despite their struggle, having one less melee fighter to share the load made things overwhelming for them. After getting struck countless times, Marie’s shield was eventually shattered. Her armour faithfully protected her as much as it could, but there was a limit to its capabilities; she flew into the ground and barely managed to get back onto her feet, her legs still shaking from the trauma.
Hilde could not bear the sight and rushed in with her daggers. The short weapons, however, made it difficult for her to reach her enemies, and her mobility was greatly restrained upon being surrounded.
A sudden howl along with a gigantic halberd broke the deadlock. The god who took the brunt of the strike was cleanly cut into two halves in the waist, the two chunks wriggling across the soil in an attempt to connect once again. Before it could happen, the halberd drew an arc upwards and hammered down at its neck like a guillotine.
The cavalry who arrived just in time was none other than Prommel. Finally having a role in a fight, he held his halberd up high and roared.
Not sure if it was his splendid entrance or his shout that pierced the skies, the gods seemed to hesitate and did not immediately start attacking him.
‘Heh, it’s been so long since I had so much fun…’
Prommel looked completely different from his normal self; the modest and kind look that always hung on his face was nowhere to be seen, replaced by a ferocious grin and the eyes of a predator. Now, he was a beast that had finally been released from its shackles.
He cleared the path by swinging the halberd parallel to the ground; the god that thought it could block the attack with its claws soon realised it was a mistake as it flew a dozen metres off into the distance, smashing through a few trees on its course.
Jade finally understood why Andre had said that Prommel was the stronger fighter. With such strength in his arms, no one could withstand his trusty halberd even if he was not enhanced by magic.
Not missing the chance, Andre and Hilde swiftly surrounded the lone god and immobilised it with a flurry of attacks, giving Prommel the time to set up his weapon for a clean cut at the god’s neck.
It was then the god which had been knocked across the air finally started wiggling its way back onto its feet. Its body was apparently in mushes on the inside, for bubbly tissues were squirming all over it.
Just when the three approached the tattered god to finish it off, it raised both its arms and gathered a skull-sized blue orb on each palm then fired them at the trio.
Hilde wrapped her arms around Andre and pulled him along as she ducked as far as she could. Prommel also threw his halberd at the orbs and strengthened the healing aura covering his body to its maximum power.
The explosion almost turned the entire forest into a flatland, and two massive craters could be seen on the ground. Even the dense smog had been blown away by the blast, revealing a scenery which could rarely be seen.
Jade, who tumbled to the ground due to the blast, scrambled to get up and anxiously searched for the three. It was much to her relief to find that they were all fine apart from having minor injuries.
The god though, it dashed at the direction where Jade was. She almost screamed while back-pedalling and tripped herself.
Instead of attacking her, the injured god spread its wings and flew off into the distance from where it had come from—it fled.
‘Hey! What the hell?’ Prommel got back up but was at a loss of what to do.
‘How can we let it run away!’ With Hilde’s almost-sacrificial effort to protect him, Andre was mainly unscathed. He gathered magic in his body and wanted to chase the fleeing enemy, only to be stopped by a sword thrusted in front of him.
‘Don’t,’ Marie said with her body leaned against a tree trunk and her arm trembling. Her horned helmet was lying on the ground, deformed and clipped. She glared directly into Andre’s eyes. ‘That way, a lot.’
Andre only looked back for a second before walking around the sword and wanted to continue his pursuit.
Jade, however, heard clearly what Marie said. Without giving much thought, she threw herself at Andre just before he started accelerating and held onto him.
‘Don’t do it!’
‘If we let it go, can we feel at ease? It can bring reinforcements any time!’
‘I know! But… still! Didn’t Marie tell you not to give chase?’
‘You,’ Andre took a deep breath. ‘Get out of the way.’
He used a bit of force, wanting to shrug Jade off, but she was adamant about it and held on to him with all her might. While the two were at a standstill, the god had disappeared into the smog and could no longer be seen. Andre gave up his struggle at last.
‘It’s too late.’
Jade loosened her grip and Andre finally broke free. She kneeled on the ground, not daring to look at Andre’s face.
Sounds of footsteps finally caught on to the two. Prommel went to the two and said, ‘Listen to Marie and let it go this time. We’re all injured, might as well return and regroup. I’ve got to heal your wounds too.’
‘Whatever.’ Andre grabbed his sword and returned to base alone without batting an eye at the rest of the group.