Translator and Editor: SaltyTank
While Prommel and Geraldine were putting their utmost efforts into modifying the flares, Andre further refined his plan by incorporating the information Hilde had brought back from her trip. She also gave some suggestions to his deployment strategies in hopes that it could increase the chance of success.
Although Jade was basically the dogsbody in the team, she still carried out her duties diligently together with Arnold and Lenora so the others could focus on their tasks. From preparing food to cleaning up every last bit of the base, she did everything in her power to help out.
Just like that, the day went by. Andre swept his gaze across the newly drawn tactical map and confirmed every detail. He took a deep breath and finally sat down in relief.
‘Thanks for the good work… Have a bite maybe?’
Jade, who had been sitting beside him for a while now, saw that Andre finally decided to rest and quickly brought food to him. Still managing the thoughts in his mind, he simply grabbed whatever food there was and started eating.
While he ate, sounds emerged from the tunnel; Prommel and Geraldine were back.
‘We’re done as well.’
They held three box-like objects, each strapped with ropes. The bombs were nothing like their predecessor, and the only part that remotely resembled a flare was the fuse.
‘We have no way of predicting how powerful and stable this “bomb” is. If we mess up, it’s possible this base might be gone too.’
Andre carefully handled the bomb Prommel gave him and felt the weight on his hands—the weight that possibly carried the future of mankind. It was incredibly heavy.
‘That’s great… We can finally put the plan into action.’
‘When should we move out?’
‘Everyone’s tired after a day of hard work, how about next morning?’
Prommel laughed and said, ‘Hey, actually I’m not tired at all, and I can tell it’s the same for you. You want to head out now don’t you?’
‘Is it that obvious?’
The two men chortled, which brought a sigh of disapproval from Geraldine.
‘You guys are mad.’
‘We’re crazy people in the first place, how could we fight them for so long if we’re not?’
‘Ah whatever, you two have always been like this. I should’ve seen this coming.’
Geraldine picked up a bag and tucked away the three bombs along with a dozen vials of blood before handing it over to Andre. Everyone else was making final preparations for their mobilisation.
Jade handed Andre’s sword over to him with a worried look. It was Geraldine who slapped her on the shoulder, telling her to cheer up and showed her the proper way of sending off their companions to battle.
She pulled Prommel over and lightly kissed him with a face full of smiles.
Andre, Prommel, and Marie, all donned in full sets of armour and had all the supplies they needed, went over the plan one last time. Confirming that there were no issues with the plan, they waved goodbye to the two and headed out in confidence.
It was currently midnight. Within the silent forest, the trio’s footsteps and sounds of armour clanging were particularly crisp and noticeable.
The smog that they had been so used to was now a disgusting presence that bothered them. Every time they reminded themselves that the smog was something the gods made, it felt like being within the yellowish particles was an ill omen in itself. They huddled themselves even tighter within their cloaks.
Not much was said during their short journey; perhaps it was because they were about to undergo a crucial mission, but for Andre, his mind was occupied with various thoughts.
He understood this was an extremely critical battle, but it might not even matter a lot on the overall scale of things. After all, this was just to impede the enemy’s invasion. On a fundamental level, there was not much humans could do to threaten the gods.
However, now that they knew the secret of the smog’s origin, this battle might as well buy them the time needed for a future breakthrough.
‘Right, Andre,’ Prommel said out of the blue.
‘Hm? What is it?’
‘I suddenly have this idea. If the third one’s a boy, I’ll name him Leno.’
‘Uh, why’d you think about such a thing now?’
‘Ha ha ha, who knows, it just comes to my mind.’
Prommel made his usual laughter and scared away the birds resting in the trees. Andre shook his head in response.
‘You should discuss this sort of thing with Geraldine when we get back.’
‘Ah, if it’s gonna be a girl, let’s name her Leanor.’
‘Hey, hold on…’
Just as Andre was getting a bit annoyed, Prommel matched his pace to Andre’s and walked alongside him. His cheeky smile was nowhere to be seen, replaced by a calm look.
‘I know you’re nervous.’ He hung his arm over Andre’s shoulder. ‘But the most important thing now, is to do the best we can for the task ahead of us.’
‘I’m not nervous though?’
‘I’ve never seen you put on such a face.’
Andre couldn’t help but clasp his hands on his cheeks, but that obviously didn’t help him get a good look at himself. He simply felt that there was nothing odd with himself.
‘You’re getting impatient lately, always trying to solve everything in one go. But that’s impossible, there are things that have to be done in order, and there’s also a matter of priority.’
‘So you think this mission is… too hasty?’ Andre turned slightly cold briefly.
‘Why would I?’ Prommel smiled lightly. ‘This is a battle that has to be done. What I’m saying is your attitude. Don’t push yourself over your limits, and don’t always think about achieving results, so much that you ignore your own safety.’
‘This feels like something we should’ve talked about back in the base.’
‘Must be Hilde’s fault. She always says this, no? “Say the stuff in your mind whenever they pop up, do everything you want right away. Why wait till tomorrow?” It’s not a bad mindset at all.’
‘Well, you’re not wrong.’
‘Anyways, let’s just do our best!’
Andre nodded and took in a deep breath, slowly exhaling it out of his mouth. It stirred up the surrounding smog, making several small whirlpools of smog near his face. He shook his head and put everything out of his head; his heart was finally brought to a calm.
He realised that he really had been a bit too tense. Still, just when he was about to thank Prommel, they had already arrived at the cliff where they stopped to start their operation.
Andre quickly set up the ropes needed for abseiling, while Prommel and Marie gave him their cheers before moving on to one of the forks ahead. Prommel could see that Andre had now stopped thinking about the pointless things that had been bothering him and was looking a lot better than before.
He felt at ease knowing that Andre was doing fine again. Pulling himself together, he followed Marie over to a gentle slope.
They were ready; giving each other the ‘okay’ sign, the two slowly entered the city without any attempt of hiding their presence.
Back at the base, Prommel had been wondering how he was going to create a ‘disturbance’ like Andre had told him to. After a short walk, he immediately spotted a decent target for his purpose—it was a structurally damaged mansion that looked like it was going to topple over any moment.
‘Hey Marie, let’s start here.’
He walked over to the mansion that was barely standing and made his preparations. Marie also used her magic to detect how Andre was faring and swiftly gave him the green light.
Prommel lifted his halberd and yelled as he smashed his weapon into a crumbling pillar, sweeping away an entire wall along with it. Losing its support, the mansion finally stood no longer and succumbed to gravity, causing an uproar of dust at its final moments.
‘Hoh? What a warm welcome.’
Not long after marking their presence, Prommel was attacked by beams of blue rays. Thankfully, he had been swift enough to run away from them upon seeing the eerie lights.
Unlike magic orbs, the lights were basically laser beams that had immensely higher intensity and power within them. Prommel, having been the one who had treated Hilde’s injuries, knew clearly that it was asking for the impossible to block it with just a flimsy cloak.
The enemies were gathering, and that marked the true start to their mission. Prommel lifted his halberd and took the right flank while Marie routed from the left, the two intentionally moving out separately to divide the enemy into two groups. It was necessary for drawing the enemy away from Andre.
Injuring the gods was the least of their priorities and they had no intention of doing so. Fighting off so many enemies all at once was difficult enough already, not to mention that they were now stronger and had equipment.
Defending, dodging, feinting, then repeating the cycle—if they did not have to defeat the monsters, the chance of pulling out of the operation unscathed was not zero at all.
The thing that they worried the most as they carried out the diversion was that they might actually get surrounded by the enemy. To avoid such a situation, they used their movement and footwork to gather the enemies in front of them so as not to get hindered before they could lead the monsters away. Having fewer paths to run away greatly increased their chance of injuries after all.
Among the monsters, some wore armour while others did not. Prommel tried to probe the strength of their equipment by sneaking in a few attacks as he ran, but the halberd that boasted great mass couldn’t even put a dent in their thin spears, let alone the incredibly sturdier armours.
As for those familiar faces that had no equipment, Prommel did not spare them any greetings as he hacked them into halves whenever a clear opportunity that posed little risk showed itself. Most of the time though, the two halves would join together again not long after he pulled away. Still, the sheer force of Prommel slowed down the enemy slightly.
Prommel almost treated his halberd like a lump of metal as he swung it around again and again, knocking away spears and sweeping the gods to the ground occasionally while backtracking. Although he was on the defensive the whole time, this much was doable as long as he did not have to defeat them.
‘Heh, this is fun…’
He had never been on the frontlines as part of the team. Most of his fights were defensive battles that involved gods attacking their camp at night back when they had been travelling around. After settling down in the current base, it had been years since he had actually fought a real battle.
With this rare opportunity, he would not hold back in the slightest. The rage that had been suppressed deep within him, the hatred that stemmed from the bottom of his heart, it was time to let those emotions and memories of the deceased out.
Back then, he had been travelling with his close childhood friend Geraldine to a nearby hill to collect herbs and ingredients. As they happily returned from their bountiful trip, they were greeted with a devastated home that had been razed to the ground.
Ever since, the two had led a life of constantly running away from both monsters and the harsh reality, all until they met Andre’s group.
Even now, it still tugged on his heart that he had received a support ability when he mustered the courage to eat a brain core. Why was it not a combat-suited ability? Why did he have to hide behind everyone as just the doctor?
It was why he was particularly in the mood today; he did not have to kill the monsters, but this was his battlefield nonetheless.
‘Hah! Oorah! Marie, run!’
Putting up with the fury of attacks for a while, he noticed that the number of enemies that had gathered was beyond them. Just dodging the deadly rays of magic was enough to stop him from retaliating in any way. He hurriedly shouted at Marie who nodded in response from afar.
Prommel turned and swiftly took on his heels. Much to his delight, the enemies pursued him without any hesitation. He then ran in the opposite direction from Marie.
As Andre had told them the rough layout of the city and never to run into a deadend beforehand, things were not as dangerous during their retreat.
It was especially easy for Marie who could detect the enemy’s movement. Prommel, on the other hand, knocked down a house whenever the gods were about to catch up to him. It only bought him a few more seconds, but that alone was more than enough.
The diversion had been going on perfectly up till this point. Everything was all up to Andre now as they waited for him to set the bombs off.
‘Andre, it’s your turn now.’