Hearing that sound, Michelle and Helena exchanged gazes. That unique sound akin to the low tune of a flute. Hearing that, Michelle and Helena have understood that it was the Whips.
「Get back, you all. Michelle-san, any magic gems? 」
「I guess I do have some. But I didn’t bring that many. Three is all. 」
「Sorry but, I will need your help. 」
「Of course. If I died because I was stingy, then there’ll be no point at all. 」
Helena and Michelle stood in front as if to cover for the others.
From the curved passage that led to the outside of the cave, something hard was audibly slithering closer.
「Here it comes. 」
As if responding to Michelle’s voice, a demonic being with a brown body appeared while illuminated by the lantern. Its lower body had scales like a snake, the upper body was that of a short-mane horse, and its head shaped like an owl while having a human-like features.
Its height was about two meters. The grotesque figure, with two front legs and its snake lower body, gradually approached.
One strike from its short beak was even more powerful than the Despairs that are known as the『Despair of the Grasslands』. In front of this demonic being, even a Ractor is only a prey.
The face that was covered with white feathers let out a strange noise.
The sound of the dry footsteps from its front legs, became the countdown of Michelle and the others’ lives every time it sounded. There wasn’t a slightest hint of intelligence in its pupils, only the instinct of hunting its prey shone along with a reddish glint. It is the appearance of the strongest monster in Corsas forest, the nightmare called 『Whips』.
「Don’t ever come out front! 」
As soon as Michelle’s warning came out, the Whips opened its mouth wide, and screeched loudly.
「Fuo―OofuoOfuoo―, FuoOofuo――Ofoo―FuoO―oo―fuoO―! 」
The screeching that has a mix of different tunes is a Whips’s special ability to steal one’s consciousness. Incapacitating them, with the meaning of bringing silent to the scene, it’s called the 『Silent Song』among the mercenaries.
「Hansrick-san! Everyone! 」
Behind Michelle, Solte’s panicked yell was heard.
「Michelle-san! Everyone suddenly collapsed……! 」
「Just leave them be! They just passed out! 」
Among the students, only Solte could endure the Silent Song. On the other hand, Michelle barely held on to her own spirit while Helena easily withstood it.
Now, it’s time for their counterattack. As Helena started swinging her sword, the Whips tried to move its upper body to dodge but, Helena’s attack was faster.
The sharp blade reached the Whips’s shoulders. However, the skin was much tougher than it looked, and the damage inflicted was just a few shallow cuts.
As if trying to crush Helena, it put all its upper body weight onto its feet and brought it down. The blonde swordswoman dodged with the slightest movement after predicting the area that it will land on.
Along with the yell, Michelle hurled a pebble-sized mineral towards the demonic being. It hit the torso of the Whips, letting a dry crackle before getting deflected. A beat later, a layer of ice started to form on the part that was hit.
What Michelle had hurled was generally called a magic gem. To people unable to use magic, they are a miraculous item that can bring the same effect as rudimentary attack magic.
Said to be a relic created in the ancient times or even the mythological age, the technology to fabricate them is already lost. Since it is able to be used by anyone, and because of its rarity. Even the magic gems containing the most basic spells would cost the high price of five gold.
Of course, there are peddlers who carry them for self-defense, but it doesn’t mean they can use them freely.
「Doesn’t look like it’s effective at all. Well, I guess it’s better than nothing. 」
Having said so, the magic gem that cost Michelle quite a lot didn’t look like it had inflicted any serious damage to the Whips. Not batting an eye at Michelle who hurled the magic gem, it didn’t shift its hostility from the blonde swordswoman in front of it.
Helena’s sword danced in the narrow cave.
As she threw feints with small steps, she circled around to its back and dealt blows. Even though the damage was definitely piling up, the Whips didn’t show any sign of fatigue.
A sword is just too small of a scale.
Against the skin that’s tougher than its looks, Helena’s sword is failing to deliver a critical hit. In comparison, a single blow from the Whips is heavy. The sharp beak, the front foot that carried its weight, and the huge tail covered with scales, it wouldn’t be pretty if any of that landed.
Even more so when Helena’s stamina is depleting by the minute as she moved continuously.
Inside the narrow cave that had little space to evade, with six people to protect, it’s a situation that she can’t afford to be hit. And all of that had been cutting away at Helena’s stamina.
It could be that a moment like this is inevitable. The tail that swiped horizontally ripped apart the air and hit flatly on Helena’s flank.
Helena collapsed with a cry of agony.
The Whips cried out while looking at Helena that collapsed with a cold gaze.
「Fuo, FuoOO――! 」
It was as if announcing its own victory.
「Helena-san! Healing……! 」
Solte started running towards Helena who is on her knees.
「Idiot! Don’t go in front! 」
Michelle’s warning was late, setting Solte as its next target, the Whips started approaching.
With the grotesque demonic being within a few meters, Solte’s face was white with fear. Her eyes were wide as she looked at the Whips, but her body was unmoving as if bound by chains.
A ruthless pair of eyes with a red glint reflected in her light red pupils.
The moment when Solte’s life was about to end, when the Whips aimed its beak at its prey’s head, it suddenly stopped moving. The demonic being ignored the defenseless Solte who was its prey, and started looking around cautiously.
Without waiting for Michelle who couldn’t catch up to the change in situation, the second surprising change came.
A surreal scream came from the Whips. It started coiling around sporadically as its lower body splashed out blood.
The first who noticed was Michelle. The long lower body of the Whips that is covered with scales. A part of it is dyed red in blood.
Where the blood spurted out in large volume, a short sword stuck in it. But where that short sword had appeared from, no one there could’ve answered.
Along with the agonized cry of the Whips, something flew in from the entrance along with the sound of the winds getting teared apart. By the time Michelle perceived that sound, the second short sword had lodged itself in the Whips’s head.
Even if a demonic being has tremendous stamina, there’s no way it would be alright after getting its head punctured. Leaving behind a loud cry of pain, it collapsed onto the ground after a short moment.
As Michelle and the others were standing on the ground in a daze, footsteps of multiple people were heard from the entrance.
「Michelle-san! Helena! You alright!? 」
The purple-haired man who hurried here first, was Clente who went to Thoria to get help.
And following him were, the other escorts that were with Michelle before. And behind them, the figures of mercenaries that Michelle had never seen before appeared. It seems that Clente did his job properly.
「Just in time……」
At the sight of the long-waited rescue party, Michelle let out a sigh of relief.