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Chapter 142 – The Desert at Midnight
After meeting with my dad, I continued to walk around the city to calm myself down. By the time I noticed, the moon was already high in the sky, signifying that the time to fight the monster is approaching.
『We should go back soon.』
When we arrived back at the mansion, two girls were already waiting for me.
Eris, carrying the black bayonet Envy, scolded me for being a tad bit late.
[You really took your sweet time, being late like this.]
[Sorry… various things happened.]
[Fu~hn, do you think you can appease me with such an excuse?]
I looked at Eris and Roxy… then to Mimir and Lishua who stood behind them, wondering whether I should tell them or not.
It’s after all my family problem.
But when I was met with Roxy’s straight gaze, I just had to tell them.
[I met my dad.]
Eris was shocked. Roxy, similarly surprised, covered her mouth with her hand. Both sent me a worried look.
[Are you okay? Did you two fight?]
[We simply couldn’t. Otherwise, the city would’ve been in chaos by now.]
[Of course. Then, did you two talk?]
[About that, well, it’s an information from my dad, so I have no idea how trustworthy it is. First of all, Raine is safe. And she’s working with my dad now.]
Roxy and Mimir seemed relieved after hearing that. Roxy was indebted to Raine during that body switching event, while Mimir had her medical examination and blood test conducted by Raine…
Both interacted with Raine quite often.
They’d always been worried about her safety, so hearing that news really took some weight off of their minds.
[Raine-san is… thank goodness…]
While listening to their sighs, I kept talking.
[One more thing. About that monster in the desert, dad told me that it’s a sacred beast.]
Eris was visibly distraught upon hearing those two words.
This made Roxy and Mimir worried, since the queen barely, if ever, showed that kind of face before. Even Lishua who didn’t know Eris that well was also upset.
[What’s wrong? Do you know what a sacred beast is?]
[Un… well. A sacred beast…]
Eris raised her sullen face up towards the sky. And while still staring far into the night sky, she said.
[This battle, it’ll be better if it’s just me and Fate who go.]
That surprised voice belonged to Roxy. She was supposed to participate in the subjugation, so the sudden change of plans really shocked her.
She knew that she couldn’t help dealing damage because she’s not an Area E. Therefore, she would’ve taken the rear support role.
But Eris is against her even participating. If the queen ordered her, Roxy couldn’t really say anything about it.
Still, I couldn’t help but ask why.
[That maybe a bit too much. Can you tell me why?]
[Sacred beast… it’s not just any Area E monster. Are you sure you can protect Roxy while we are fighting it? If you are unsure, then it’s best to just leave her out of this]
[I will protect her. We will not only fighting the sacred beast alone anyway. We already know that the other monsters around it will also become aggressive.]
I gave Lishua a look, which she replied with a nod.
[We will not be able to focus our efforts on the sacred beast if the small fries keep getting in our way. That’s where Roxy comes in]
It’s a well known fact that Roxy had inferior stats compared to me or Eris.
That’s something that she couldn’t control with her own hands.
When I tried to persuade Eris so that we could still bring Roxy along, she in turn approached me and whispered something to my ear so that only I could hear her.
[What I’m trying to say is… If you bring Roxy along to this battle for whatever reason, then you should be prepared for the consequences.]
[You should’ve realized this already. If she really loves you, then she would’ve done it without any hesitation! Even if there is a risk of collapse phenomenon after reaching Area E.]
If someone entered Area E like Rafal and Hado did, where their heart couldn’t endure it, they will be transformed into something inhuman.
If, like Eris said, Roxy joined us in battle, reached Area E but struck by collapse phenomenon… then she would turn into a monster…
That possibility, it terrifies me.
Further reducing the distance between us――creating a bond with her, also sometimes scares me, because I don’t know what would happen in the future, now that Gluttony skill wants her dead…
[Yeah… I’ll be okay if it really comes to that. Just, give me some time.]
[Fine. That’s what I want to say, but it’s all up to Roxy to decide.]
Good grief, Eris was right. So I turned my gaze toward Roxy.
We are going to fight a sacred beast, a monster whose power is unknown to us. And yet she still strongly nodded.
Having said what she wanted to say, Eris walked away from me. Then, with her usual tone announced our departure.
[Well then! Shall we go now?]
Lishua and Mimir saw us off.
[I’m sorry that you have to bear my burden. Godspeed.]
[Fate-sama, Eris-sama, Roxy-sama! Please do your best! If we fail here, then we won’t even succeed in Hauzen.]
[Leave it to us!]
I deliberately used cheerful tone because I don’t want to make them worried… but the vague anxiety of having to fight an unknown monster still lingered in my mind.
Because Roxy was more nervous than usual for this battle, I had Lishua to encourage her earlier today. And probably because of that, Roxy’s expression was a lot less tense now. Being a female Holy Knight, just like Roxy, Lishua truly delivered what I requested of her.
When this battle is over, I should thank her properly.
Keeping that in mind, I waved at Mimir who will be waiting for our return, then left the city.
The place called the Desert of Ruin was located on the east of the city. As we entered its periphery, a chilly wind struck me, and the sight of the sandy land that stretched into the horizon under the moonlight entered my field of vision. A monster that brought a nostalgic feeling of when I visited this place in the past greeted us. However, it looked a little different.
Roxy and Eris seemed to be aware of this too.
[The sandman’s appearance… it changed. Its form is more rugged, and how should I say this… it’s like they become engulfed in the shadow of madness.]
[No, not that. It’s like… they were forcibly blessed by the sacred beast.]
[What kind of blessing is that?]
Apparently, the blessing could draw out the creature’s hidden potential.
[Is that even possible? It looks like just causing an already ugly monster to become an even uglier monster to me.]
[Ahaha, that’s true in a way. Not everyone can adapt to the sacred beast’s blessing. If the target can’t adapt, then that is the result. An ugly monster becomes even uglier. But don’t worry. Fate, try to use appraisal skill on them.]
I used 《Appraisal》 on those sandmans.
At the same time, Eris’ explanation intrigued me. When the blessing is used on inappropriate target, the target will turn into a more monstrous appearance. It’s almost like the bond created by Mortal Sin skill holder. Anyone who couldn’t handle it would experienced collapse phenomenon and be turned into a monster.
It’s not yet clear, but this sacred beast must have a connection to the mortal sin skills. The fact that Eris seemed upset when she heard about the sacred beast gave me a bad feeling.
But this isn’t the time and place to ponder about that. I turned my attention to check the monster’s stats and skills.
Normally, it should be below level 30, with stats not surpassing 2000. Agility should be 100 since it’s a slow moving monster. And the skill… should be Spirit Strengthening (M).
But what was shown by the appraisal skill this time…
Durability : 239000
Strength : 29000
Magic : 132000
Spirit : 176000
Skill: Wind Cutter Magic, Auto Recovery
Oi oi, what’s with that stats, and that new wind cutter magic plus auto recovery skills.
Auto Recovery was one of the more useful skills I have. It can gradually heal any kind of wound, except a fatal one.
This Darkness=Sandman was not a crown monster. But it’s certainly something close to it. And that auto recovery skill made it even more dangerous. No wonder Lishua had some trouble dealing with these monsters.
After appraising the wind cutter magic, I reported the result to both Eris and Roxy.
[Its name is Darkness=Sandman. Its stats are way above the regular sandman. Its strength is close to 300000, and its worst stat is agility at 10000. Its skill is wind cutter magic and auto recovery. The magic seems to be a long range attack by creating a vacuum blade. If you’re out of luck and can’t dodge in time, they could tear you apart from a distance.]
[That’s why, Roxy, please be careful.]
Roxy is the one who needed this information the most. As both me and Eris would not receive any damage from them.
For example, even if we were bombarded by the Darkness=Sandmans with wind cutter magic en masse, not even scratch will be inflicted to us.
Although some of the impacts would still affect us.
That means, if we let a large amount of them attack us at the same time, they’ll cause us to leave an opening in our defence. The sacred beast might inflict a fatal wound through that opening.
Thus the strategy was to have Roxy dealt with the Darkness=Sandman around the sacred beast.
Eris then gave Roxy a look.
[Yosh! Roxy, are you ready?]
[Yes. You will be on your own against them, as we will have our hands full dealing with something else. And I give you one more condition.]
[Fufufu… how feisty. Before that, these monsters that couldn’t adapt to the sacred beast’s blessing, all of them have『Darkness』prefix. Since Darkness=Sandman is quite a mouthful, let’s just call them Darkness from now on. Fate too]
Eris then turned to the darkness, and smiled.
[My condition, Roxy has to be able to kill that darkness within 10 seconds. How about that? If you can’t then it’ll be better if you return to the city]
[Eris!? Are you still against it?]
[Of course. Let me be frank with you. If she has trouble beating that darkness within the time limit, she’ll get into even more trouble later on. I’m very strict when it comes to battle. So, are you up for it?]
Eris turned her line of sight toward Roxy. The girl in question replied without hesitation.
[I will do it. Even without Eris-sama giving this challenge, I myself also wish to know if I am truly capable of doing this.]
[Good! That’s how I like it. Well then, go ahead!]
Roxy drew her holy sword out of its sheath, brandishing it. The darkness was still unaware of our presence yet.
If she struck now in surprise attack, Roxy would’ve been able to complete Eris’ challenge easily.
The problem was the soft desert sand. The stronger your steps, the deeper your feet will sink into it, and the harder it is to maintain momentum.
But I did not tell her this. Because I do want her to complete Eris’ challenge with her own power. Without any external help.
[It seems that you’re ready.]
At first, as she was still a bit nervous, Roxy’s feet sunk into the sand which made her lose balance slightly. She immediately fixed her posture and came up with a method to attack the darkness unhindered by the sand. She then began to run with a lighter footsteps, as expected.
But the battle has only started. One shouldn’t let go of alertness yet. I silently watched Roxy, wishing for her to succeed.