「We’re arriving soon. 」
Rona’s words made Ardis to be more aware of the surroundings. To check out the location in question, Ardis and the others had been travelling in the grasslands following Rona.
「I can’t feel anything like strong radiating mana at all though. 」
「That’s true. I don’t feel anything either earlier. 」
「So? Is that the small river where you encountered that thing? 」
Ardis’s gaze was on the small river while he continued talking with Rona.
「Unn, it’s that. 」
It’s a small river with nothing special at first glance. There wasn’t anything he could detect abnormal, nor any alarming presences. If Ardis didn’t hear about the story at first, he probably would’ve thought that way too, it’s a scenery without any oddities in it.
「Here it comes. 」
Just as Rona said so, the plain scenery suddenly changed. The small river changed in color, it looked like something sentient was gaining a solid shape.
「Just as I thought you fled cowardly with your tail between your legs, you dared to return here. What an unexpected fool, four-legged. 」
With a scornful tone, the dark water was provoking Rona. It’s easy to infer the difference in superiority from what he said. But Rona only snorted and answered.
「Look at the polluted water trying to be smart without even knowing what’s going on. 」
「Quit spouting nonsense! You shall not escape this time! 」
The dark water that was enraged from Rona’s provocation created tens of water needles from his own body.
「Your opponent is me. 」
Ardis stepped out between the trajectory of the needles. Creating magic barriers as natural as breathing, the water needles that were heading towards Minerva and Moore were deflected away.
A portion of the water needles were blown to other directions, while some that impaled the ground caused it to crack.
「What terrifying power……」
Witnessing the destructive power of the water needles dig a hole about fifty centimeters into the ground, Moore was speechless.
Ardis hadn’t stopped, after the barrier served its purpose, he pulled out his sword and drew closer to the dark water.
Ardis who had closed the distance in a moment slashed apart the body of water in the horizontal axis.
「Hou, slashing mine body with just a sword! 」
「Though it’s not anything particularly amazing! 」
But the mass of water that had become two parts separated didn’t show any signs of being bothered.
Since it’s a lifeform made from a body of water, a physical separation would mean nothing and it will regain its original shape in no time.
Of course, Ardis realized that already. Ardis who approached the dark mass of water wasn’t given a room for breather as more needles were heading his way.
Though this time, the countless water needles came for his back while drawing arcs. The dark mass of water didn’t seem bothered impaling himself with the water needles.
The water needles encompassed Ardis, performing a concentrated attack.
Declaring so, Ardis created same number of ice needles of his own as the water needles coming his way. The ice and water needles crashed into each other and disappeared into nothingness.
It must’ve realized Ardis’s strength looking at that.
The dark water scornfully laughed.
「Oh I see, you thought you can take on me with two! 」
「Eeeh, it sounds troublesome, I will pass. There’s no need for us both to take you on anyways. 」
But Rona naturally diverted the provocation like it’s nothing. It seems like he really intends to only stay there and look after Minerva and Moore.
It had probably realized that just water needles wouldn’t cut it. The dark water had now compressed water from the small river into small spheres of water floating in the air.
Making five of them that looked like they would explode at any time due to the unstableness of the compression, it fired all five of them to Ardis.
Judging that avoiding all of them is impossible, Ardis deployed magical barriers to defend against three of them, and the other two will just be deflected away without any care. Even if one of them headed towards where Rona and the others are at.
Minerva screamed unintentionally.
「Don’t move okay! 」
As he warned, Rona made his own magical barrier against the water sphere. The moment when the water sphere touched the thin purplish film, the intense pressure behind it caused powerful shaking that could be felt even behind the barrier.
The water sphere that unleashed all its energy in an instant shook the atmosphere all around them with a ringing sound to their ears. Following the curvature of the barrier, the water sphere dug into the ground, causing the entire grassy area to be uprooted.
The grassy land around Rona and the others turned back into barren earth.
「Hey, Ardis! One of them came here! 」
「Just move a little! 」
Rona was complaining despite being the one not willing to fight despite saying he would, but Ardis did not care any further.
「Oi oi oi, what the heck is that power. 」
The destructive power that was unleashed from a sphere of water not bigger than his palm was unimaginable. At the same time, he felt exasperated by Ardis’s power who had defended against three of them head on and Rona who managed to defend one with a barrier.
「It’s not a level I can comprehend at all. 」
Leaving aside Moore who was shrugging, the battle only became more intense.
「What, only this much? So it isn’t any kind of mutated or special subspecies huh. 」
Ardis muttered as he seemed a little disappointed, all while injecting mana into his sword that had dulled into a blunt weapon and raising the heat nesting in its blade.
「How daring to be distracted! Underestimating me means death! 」
On the other hand, the dark water only made tentacles out of its polluted body in a stance to receive the incoming attack.
Ardis jumped upwards with an invisible foothold in the air. Ardis tried to close the distance while dodging the dark water’s attack in the three dimensions. The tentacles came from all directions.
「Rot here along with your conceitedness! 」
The dark water extended its tentacles in effort to capture Ardis. The ends of the tentacles glimmered like sharp blades, and approached Ardis like predators.
「Who is the one getting conceited here. 」
Ardis said so coldly and dutifully severed the tentacles. The way he fought didn’t seem like he is in danger at all.
Ardis showed a composure as if only chasing away a dog that was barking at the front of his house, Moore imagined so with no particular reason.
「He really makes the demonic being look not very impressive. 」
「Yes, that’s true. ……But surely that can’t be the case. 」
Minerva agreed calmly at the commentating.
Even while that happened, the tentacles regrew and attacked Ardis, but the person himself only proceeded to cut down more as they came.
「It doesn’t matter! No matter how much you slice, I don’t feel any of them! 」
「So? Do you think I don’t know about that? 」
Ardis rebutted emotionlessly at the water that was getting too confident on its victory. The true form of the dark water is a shapeless lifeform that parasitize a body of liquid.
The dark mass of water they can see is nothing more than the river water flowing downstream. That’s why, it’s natural that it doesn’t feel anything even if parts of it are getting sliced off.
Although it’s a valid tactic to remove the body of liquid in order to quell the parasite, leaving aside maybe a bottle of water, it’s difficult to deal with if the body of water is too large.
That’s why it’s a difficult opponent to meet in places like the sea or a pond.
「Well, it’s not hard to erase everything that is in your influence range. 」
「What was that! 」
Ardis’s mana became agitated. As his hands reached out to the sky, large masses of heat was manifested into the surrounding.
Three, four, the masses that increased in number rotated with Ardis’s hand as the axis. The mass that was initially red lost its color and turned white.
「I’m glad we’re not in the sea here. As expected, erasing the sea is not possible after all. 」
Anxiety can be heard from the dark water’s voice after it had realized Ardis’s intention.
The white colored heat left the caster’s hand and fell onto the river. A total of seven white lumps of heat were let loose, and drawing arcs, the places it passed through turned back into normal earth.
Ignoring the pleads to stop, four had headed upstream of the river, while two headed downstream, and one of them headed straight into the dark water.
With few moments of silence in between, in the next moment, a compression of shockwave was unleashed, causing strong reverberation in the air.
The water in the small river were instantly boiled off, and became vapors in the air. And then what was left is only a trench that used to be a small river. The originally not very abundant river was reduced into nothingness.
「C-Curse you! 」
The dark water that had defended against it with a barrier on itself could no longer say anything. After all, the volume of liquid that it parasitize is akin to its life force.
With that completely lost now, there’s nowhere to escape, and there’s no way for it to recover the damage on itself.
「W-Wait. Please wait! 」
The dark water had finally realized its position begged to stop, but Ardis naturally had no reason to comply.
「What are you saying this late. 」
Biding his farewell short, Ardis manifested white flame on his fingertips and faced the dark water. The dark water tried to escape but, there’s nothing other than grasslands around.
There’s no liquid wherever he can parasitize.
The white flame on Ardis’s finger was released. Although it was far smaller in scale than the large lump that had dried up the small river, it has more than enough heat to destroy the dark water.
Easily penetrating the magic barrier that the dark water desperately put up in defense, the white flame pierced its body and evaporated it. After the steam dispersed and carried away by the light gale, what was left there is the trace of what used to be a small river.