16-49. Trial of Zaikuon (4)
※ The latter half of 16-48. Trial of Zaikuon (3) has been altered. Please note for those who haven't read it.
Satou here. Pure love that bloomed in your youth often come out as foolish, but rather than those who sarcastically make a fool out of it, those who tread upon the path of love following their heart look more wonderful to me.
I tried to slash him with my sword, but it felt like when I fought the first close-quarter combat apostle earlier.
The weight and speed of his blows are higher than Liza and the girls, but since he's lacking the battle sense, our vanguards wouldn't have much trouble going against him.
Demon lords at the level of [Golden Wild Boar King] probably could easily crush him.
『Who's that guy?』
『He's so awesoooome!』
The cheers that were directed to the temple knight turned to me.
『Guess those permanent Zaikuon Temple losers are staying losers again this year.』
『Yea well, it's Zaikuon 'fter all.』
『I ain't bettin' on them.』
『Buncha fool. Even if god Zaikuon were revived, those Zaikuon Temple bunch are just dregs.』
Attentive Ears-skill picked up many voices.
There were some who cheered on the temple knight, like 『Holy knight, don't lose!』 but most were like the above. It's not really my business, but it's a bit unpleasant to listen.
The temple knight shot out arrows created by the [Vanquish Archer].
With the magic edge-clad magic sword, I cut down the arrows in a way that won't make them hit behind me.
One of the arrow flew way off me, breaking down the transparent wall of the arena's boundary.
Cheers, hoots and disdains turned into screams.
Seeing that, the temple knight showed up a dark smile.
Looks like the thoughtless remarks earlier were heard by the temple knight too.
The temple knight roared in a rage and unleashed a roundhouse kick.
Since god Zaikuon isn't interfering anymore, I'd love to end this just about now, but judging from all the trials so far, lowering people's faith toward the god in question is not a good situation to be in for a trial.
I'll let the temple knight gain the upper hand during our fight, and then end it with either a draw or a narrow victory.
The temple knight's body and soul would not hold if I drag it on too long, let's do this quick.
And while I was thinking that--.
The temple knight roared up toward heavens.
Numerous arrows of light that look like hedgehog's needles appear around him.
The arrows were released like some sort of missile attack in a robot anime, and hit the transparent wall in the arena's boundary, inviting flashes and thunderous sounds, along with screams and angry yells from the audience.
The defensive wall that protected the audience is smashed down like scattered broken glass.
Half of the arrows went toward me and the rock miko along with Rusus and Fifi behind me, but I cut down all of them with my magic sword.
"What is this guy doing..."
I guess he must be offended by the verbal abuse earlier.
By doing this, instead of getting more believers, it won't be strange if people boycott god Zaikuon instead.
It seems as if it was the temple knight who took the initiative, not god Zaikuon, his act of aggression must be driven by his emotions.
He's going for the third volley, the amount of arrows is fewer than before, but all of them are aimed at the audience.
--Think I'll let you?
While chanting the [<<Flexible Shield>>] spell, I shot down the arrows with magic edge cannon shot out of my magic sword.
The arrows created by the Vanquish Archer move about in mid air in an attempt to evade my magic edge cannon, but I also moved my magic edge cannon mid-air to home in on the arrows.
One of the arrow dodged the magic edge cannon and flew toward the audience.
An explosion occurred at the audience seat.
Red lights flew off, blowing away the explosion's smoke.
"Master! Please leave this to me!"
Looks like Liza shot down the arrow from the audience seat.
"We'll lend her a hand."
"Satou, leave it to us to help her."
Rusus and Fifi who were done recuperating with magic potions.
"That would be great. Could you also evacuate the arena and take care of miko-dono?"
"Okay, leave it to us."
I think the miko should be fine since I've stealthily put a Fortress magic tool on her, but I guess fighting while holding back and protecting her would be a bit tough.
After seeing off the two who took the miko with them to the audience seat, I stepped forward toward the inactive temple knight.
"Did you think harming the populace is what god Zaikuon wanted?"
I asked the temple knight as I walked toward him.
"They deserved it for they spoke ill of the great god Zaikuon!"
He really did target the audience in the attack earlier.
I could hear the rock miko from the audience seat.
She came around at a bad timing.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka .com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
The temple knight spat out angrily and released a light arrow toward the miko.
Rusus and Fifi who were near her knocked down that arrow, but she couldn't hide her shock from getting attacked by her friend.
The temple knight's articulation has clearly turned weird.
A yellow crystal that appeared on his forehead began to grow out and formed a horn-like shape.
For now, I should give up on gathering piety for god Zaikuon and neutralize the temple knight to stop his condition from worsening even further.
"Here I go--"
I slipped through the rain of light arrows, and evaded the slash that cut the arena into two by a paper thin difference.
I rushed out and stopped in front the temple knight before he could unleash another attack, and then I hit him with the Piercing Fist.
Feeling the destruction of his barrier on my palm.
I snatch away the temple knight's mana with force magic [Mana Drain].
Right afterward, I lightly put my palm on the temple knight's stomach.
With my hand still on his barrier, I twist my body and hit him with a strengthened gouging motion. Moment later, a mass of pure mana struck his barrier.
It's the Mana Strike skill I learned in my fight with Goblin Princess Yuika at the labyrinth's lower layer.
The temple knight who was hit by the quiet strike convulsed and fell down like a decayed tree.
I don't think he's dead since I used Abduction skill, but that was quite a dramatic way to fall down.
Probably thinking the same, the rock miko called out the temple knight's name.
Roll roll, a circlet rolled and fell below me.
It's god Zaikuon's sacred treasure that was on the temple knight's forehead.
I picked up the sacred treasure for no particular reason and walked toward the temple knight.
Then I saw the temple knight's finger twitched.
"--I (watashi)--I (ore) am god Zaikuon holy warrIORR"
Attentive Ears skill picked up his blurred voice.
Looks like he's still clinging to his consciousness thanks to the Unique Skills.
"No--wrong... I (ore). I (boku), I am the apostle of god senuMUAWAAAAAAAA"
Yellow light courses through the temple knight's body.
"That's far enough."
To stop him from running amok, I trampled down on the temple knight's stomach to stop his breathing, and kicked his chin to induce a cerebral concussion.
If this isn't enough, I'll use paralyze type spell chantless-ly in combination with the kicking.
Something unexpected unfolded before me who was thinking nonchalantly like such.
The sound of an explosion and the rock miko's scream filled the arena that had lost any sign of human presence.
White splinters clad in yellow light jump out of the yellow smoke that appeared along with the explosive sound.
I produced <<Flexible Shield>> chantlessly to block those splinters, but they easily passed through the shield.
I took a light step to evade the white splinters while being surprised by that.
"That temple knight called Senuma appears to have exploded."
"Exploded? By Satou's attack?"
"No, not because of that. Master's attacks were all in an effort to knock out the temple knight without wounding him."
Liza answered Rusus and Fifi's inquiry.
Eventually the white smoke cleared up.
The rock miko was agape.
A cube that's been split into three are floating in the air, all of the cubes have the temple knight's face along the surfaces.
Many small cubes are orbiting around them like satellites.
This is way off my expectations.
Coarse sounds like that of apostles echoed, yellow light overflowed out of the cubes.
Each of the cube appears to host a [God's Fragment], wearing the effect of [Champion], [Vanquish Archer], and [Great Caster].
While the the temple knight's faces were still running along the cubes' surfaces, the cubes changed their shapes geometrically, and ultimately settled down into a low-polygonal humanoid shape.
The faces disappeared all at once, and then a new temple knight's face appeared on the triangular-shaped heads.
The rock miko muttered in a daze while shedding tears unceasingly.
Now then, defeating them is easy, but whatever should I do here...
"Satou! 3 against 1 is too much no?"
"We're gonna help too--"
Rusus and Fifi who were going to jump into the arena were attacked by a swarm of small cubes, stopping them in their track.
"What's with these things?"
"My sword just slipped through 'em."
It seems like those small cubes carry the same property as the apostle main body of being physically half-immortal.
Aiming at my opening as I looked away, the Great Caster apostle unleashed several telephone-pole sized holy spears created by holy magic, while the Vanquish Archer apostle rapidly shot out arrows at me at a machine gun-like rate.
While erasing the magic with [Break Magic], I swiftly slashed down the light arrows in rapid succession.
I clashed against the incoming Champion apostle with a white sword I took from my Item Box.
I parried off its sword to throw the Champion apostle off balance, kicked it away, and made use of the recoil to zero in on the two apostles in the rear.
The Great Caster apostle fortified its defense with holy magic in a hurry, but it was already too late.
I erased the defensive magic with Break Magic, and flowingly slashed down the Great Caster apostle with the white sword.
The Vanquish Archer apostle tried to get away from me while raining down arrows of light on me.
I evaded the attack by successively using Ground Shrink, and cut the Vanquish Archer apostle into two.
Yellow light orbs parted away from the apostles that disappeared into white powder.
Ordinarily, I would have immediately obliterated them with the Divine Sword, but that would definitely invite god Zaikuon's grudge, thus I decide observe them here instead.
The Champion apostle closed in at a speed rivaling that of a bullet shot out of a rail gun, I blocked it with the white sword and hurled it away.
Looks like the Champion apostle was aiming for the yellow light orbs.
"■■■■■■■■ ■■ ■■■■..."
I began to chant the [God Sealing] spell that Corpse had taught me at the labyrinth's lower layer.
Unlike with the Divine Sword, I could liberate them later with this spell.
The Champion apostle gathers light into the sword in its hand, forming a gigantic sword.
Apparently, it knows what kind of magic I'm trying to cast.
After it's done forming the gigantic sword, the temple knight's face on the cube's surface floats a do-or-die expression and then it rushes after me.
While still continuing the chant, I parry the Champion apostle's fierce attack with both the white sword and the magic sword in my hands.
White, red, yellow sparks scattered around, and even before the chant was done, the Champion apostle had been neutralized into several pieces of splinters.
I continue the sealing spell chant while gazing at the remains of the Champion apostle since there's no declaration of victory yet.
With the splinters still on the ground, the temple knight's faces are reflected on some of them like a reflection in the mirror.
I could hear a voice-like sound when I touched the splinter.
The rock miko ran up and hug one of a biggish splinter in her chest.
White thorn rises up from that splinter, growing toward the rock miko's forehead.
However, the wicked blade was naught to reach the miko.
"--Let go of it. It's dangerous."
Liza with a white spear in her hand intercepted the white thorn and turned the splinter the rock miko was hugging into white powder.
"Master, please forgive me. I used the hidden weapon without your permission."
"Don't worry about that."
I mean the white sword I'm using is also one after all.
"Pendragon-sama, please save, please save Senuma!"
The rock miko is clinging onto me.
I personally have given up on saving the temple knight's life the moment he burst off and turned into an apostle, but as his friend, the miko hasn't given up yet it seems.
The splinter with the temple knight's face on it was destroyed by Liza, but the face has already generated in another splinter.
"I don't mind sacrificing my life to make it happen."
The rock miko entreated.
"Not even Satou could possibly do that, could he."
"Right, no matter how extraordinary Satou is, he's no god."
Rusus and Fifi who had run after the miko said that.
Well, it is indeed impossible.
"Could it be, Master, you could?"
Liza who noticed the change in my expression sounded surprised.
"Is that true?! I'll do anything if you save Senuma. I offer you this body, life--no, even my soul, my all!"
The rock miko said so with a powerful will in her eyes.
It really feels like she'd even sell her soul.
"Then, please lend me your power. I need your help to do it."
The rock miko gave her consent.
"--Geez, to think you'd threaten a god."
"Like, truly unbelievable."
Once everything was over, Rusus and Fifi said that on board of an airship flying away from the Pier Rock kingdom.
"But I didn't threaten anyone. I merely made a request to god Zaikuon."
I sealed the [God's Fragments] that came out of the two apostles, linked with the rock miko's mind to call god Zaikuon, and asked him to put back the temple knight's soul that had remained in the last apostle into a new body created from the apostle's remain as a condition to release the two sealed fragments.
"Well, ain't it fine?"
"And the temple knight's rampage was treated like it was the demon's handiwork, so no harm done on god Zaikuon's reputation either."
Rusus and Fifi shrugged their shoulder.
Once everything was over, I made a show of flashy rays and sounds of explosions with light magic, produced god Zaikuon's mark high above the arena's sky to authentically make it look like god Zaikuon did something, and then I came out of the arena with the sacred treasure equipped.
A demon assuming the temple knight Senuma's appearance was rampaging, and I and the rock miko who had received an oracle stood up to eliminate the demon, or so the story was spread.
Since I came out of the arena equipped with armor befitting that of a holy warrior, a great many people appeared to believe it.
Well, perhaps it's thanks to that follow-up, I've successfully cleared the trial and got the [Mark of Zaikuon] on my title column.
There's also some disgruntled sounding titles like [One who Tricks God], and [Disrespectful Traitor] among the titles, but I don't really care as long as I cleared the trial.
"There was no riot either, ain't it fine?"
"It hasn't been long since the divine punishment, like any moron would cause a riot."
Rusus and Fifi turned their sight outside the window while sipping on ale.
"In the end, you went and donated to all temples?"
"Trifling it may be--"
I affirmed Rusus's question.
I gave donations to all seven temples, 100 gold coins and food of equal proportion to each.
According to these two, Saga Empire would come to help with provision even if I left them be, but I wouldn't want people there to starve while waiting for that.
"So, are you really going there? There's nothing but ruins y'know?"
"Yes, there's something I need to check out a bit."
I replied to Fifi who was delightfully gnawing on dry-cured ham.
"I would come to play too if the vampire survived~"
"That sounds fun."
Liza who came out victorious in a match against the rib meat took a leg meat while agreeing to Rusus.
We're heading to a city at the neighboring country that was destroyed by vampires.
Since that city has been blockaded by Saga Empire, I've asked Rusus and Fifi to let us pass while also escorting them to the Dragg Kingdom.
Since I'm planning to dispatch Echigoya branch offices in the countries around here, it'll be bad if some stray vampires that are good at hiding lurk around, so I'd like to investigate first.
"Hey hey, Satou."
"Wanna wager whether Meiko who went to Dragg Kingdom ahead of time picked a fight with the country's guardian dragon or not?"
Rusus and Fifi said some foreboding sounding thing with a smile on their whole face.
Apparently, there's a lot of brawn for brains girls in this world.
Seeing the two, Liza also smiled.
"Guardian dragon is it. I would love to have a match with it myself."
--Et tu, Liza.
※Next update is planned for 6/3