「Is that where we’re going to launch our assault today?」
「Seems like it. It’s a research facility under that woman general’s direct control. 」
Greyth nodded at Lexy’s question.
Wisteria had accepted a request from the five allied countries and had arrived near Rodelia Kingdom’s border.
The request requested that the research facility be taken over. Ardis and the others were staring at a gray-colored research facility built in a secluded forest. Given the scale of the structure, there are most likely more than a hundred individuals inside. It is quite hidden away――, or not, seeing how grand the facility is.
「Also, we’re not here to assault, but to take it over. 」
Seemingly bothered by the wording, Greyth corrected Lexy, however, Lexy didn’t lend him an ear.
「Isn’t it the same thing? 」
「There’s a big difference. This time, our opponents aren’t soldiers or mercenaries. Of course, there’s no need to spare any mercy if they come at us with weapons in hand, but we’re not here to massacre unarmed people. 」
「Yes yes, of course. Securing the research documents and the researchers is our utmost priority. If not, we burn down their documents and equipment, right? 」
Darwat interjects into the conversation.
「Then, isn’t it easiest to just surround them from the outside and light the entire building on fire? 」
Victor rejected his idea.
「Killing non-combatants unnecessarily isn’t praiseworthy. We’re not bandits, you know? 」
Darwat who was treated like a bandit looked irritated for a moment, but turned his gaze to the three soldiers in the distance.
「Will those soldiers that are here to monitor us be satisfied with that? 」
「They’re not here to monitor. They’re guides, guides you hear. 」
「Ain’t it the same thing? 」
「The wording is very important. 」
Repeating the same interaction for a while, eventually, Darwat shrugged and withdrew.
「Well, it’s not like I kill people as a hobby. I will just tie them up with a rope or something if they aren’t resisting. 」
Darwat who changed into his easy-going mood peered at the building with his hand above his eyes as he voiced his question.
「But, why the heck did they even build a research facility in this remote place? Normally, wouldn’t something like this be built in the royal castle’s grounds or something? 」
「Who knows. Maybe it’s something that must be hidden, or they’re researching something dangerous……Getting inside may reveal that. But……」
「Frankly speaking, there might be ominous things inside. 」
Ending the meeting that also served as rest time, Ardis and the others soon headed to breach the facility.
The facility had a total of three entrances.
Dividing Wisteria into three groups, they surrounded the facility to not let any researchers escape.
「Say, Ardis. 」
While waiting for the signal to breach, Luciel asked Ardis with an anxious expression.
「Somehow, the buildings look familiar to me. 」
「……How coincidental, me too. 」
The gray building that they were going to breach soon.
The color and shape were reminding Ardis of his unfond memories.
A shape that was unusually straight without any decorations, a mysterious wall of grayness that has no seams anywhere.
The atmosphere of the building felt terribly like the facility where Ardis was imprisoned when he didn’t have his ego as Ardis yet.
「As Victor mentioned, there are undoubtedly things that shouldn’t be viewed here.」
The moody atmosphere was almost too overwhelming for Ardis, but he thought he shouldn’t keep his mind like that.
At Greyth’s signals, everyone rushed towards the building at the same time.
The people that appeared to be gatekeepers pointed their spears at them, but the difference in their strength and numbers was clear as day.
Unable to stop them, Ardis and the others easily defeated the gatekeepers and intruded the facility.
「Isn’t it exactly the same? 」
Following after Greyth who was leading the group, Ardis muttered after seeing the corridors and the equipment inside the building.
After all, everywhere he looked, the layout was the same as the insides of the building where Ardis and Luciel were imprisoned.
Eventually, everyone split into teams of several people and scattered over different areas of the buildings.
Ardis was heading deeper inside the building with Luciel, a member of Greyth’s squad.
They ultimately arrived at a location that was distinct from the rooms they had visited previously after reconfirming every split corridor on their path and inspecting numerous smaller rooms.
With a long desk and many chairs lining up, it was probably a room used to hold meetings or gatherings.
There was nothing out of place even when they investigated.
It was an empty hall with no one or anything significant.
While doing that, they heard battling sounds from afar.
The other comrades that breached from the other two entrances were probably fighting.
However, where Ardis and his group were at was silent, far away from any noise like that.
「This is strange. 」
「What is? 」
Luciel asked Greyth who had a suspicious expression while looking around.
「Don’t you believe there aren’t enough people? 」
「It might be that there were just fewer people where we came from, but……the noises that we hear are still lesser than expected. 」
Greyth is right.
Certainly, they could hear sounds of battle from a distance, but they were all intermittent and short.
It’s a building that should be housing more than a hundred people even if it’s only a research facility.
Considering that there should have been proper securities, it can’t be helped that Greyth thought that there was too little resistance when the facility is under attack.
「It’s not like we can regroup now……soldier, what do you think――」
「A monster!! 」
As Greyth asked the guiding soldier, screams were heard from above.
「The people that went upstairs! 」
The screaming voice was probably familiar to him, as one of the members started running immediately.
Greyth followed behind tightly.
「We’re going to help them! Don’t let your guard down! 」
Naturally, Ardis and the others wouldn’t leave their comrades in a pinch.
With their own weapons in hand, they followed Greyth to the stairs, and ran up the next floor.
When Ardis and the others found the room where the screams came from, they were speechless.
A tragic scene too intense to look at unfolded in front of their eyes.
It was a room that wasn’t special nor large.
However, what wasn’t special was only the shape of the room.
The reason being, from the floor to the walls, even the ceiling was dyed in red.
The paint used was human blood.
And as if proving that reasoning, there were chunks of flesh stuck on them with no resemblances of its original shape.
「W-hat…… this is!? 」
In the middle of the carnage, there was one existence seemingly out of place.
The shape itself was like a human.
Two arms, two legs, and a large head on top of its torso. Looking at its size, it was about a child in his early teens.
However, it was also clear that it was not a human.
What covered its whole body was not armor nor clothing, rather it was something hard that looked charred.
The abomination was on the ground with its mouth in a pool of blood.
Someone’s words boomed out amid the quiet, with sounds of sucking blood from the earth resonating.
True to his words, it was a monster.
Intense fear ran down Ardis’s spine.
「This is no joke. 」
Shaking off the thoughts in his head, he gripped his sword firmly.
The monster faced this way.
With a torn face with no features, only a small red stone embedded in its forehead stood out.
In an instant――.
One of their comrades had his head tore off and instantly died.
「It’s fast! 」
「Spread out! 」
They were surprised only for one moment.
The mercenaries who had met with so many deaths began moving again right away.
「Put your back against the wall! 」
「Don’t forget your barrier! 」
Calling out to each other and positioning themselves to better surround the monster, however, the monster’s speed was greater than what they expected.
Another one of them couldn’t evade the monster that closed the distance in an instant, and his arm was bitten.
「Fuck, let go! Fuck off! 」
His remaining arm stabbed at the monster’s back with a dagger, but the opponent didn’t faze at all.
On the contrary, it forcibly tore off his arm with its tremendous grip.
「This bastard! 」
Others closed in to help swung their swords at the monster.
However, their blades were all deflected away by its skin.
The monster’s skin that was full of tearing and splits, was much tougher than it looked.
The monster muttered something.
Depending on how one heard it, the sound that was like a human’s voice felt like it was trying to tell something.
The monster dropped off the torn off arm in its mouth and immediately switched targets.
Its next targets were the three mercenaries that just attacked itself.
Closing the distance instantly, the monster opened its torn mouth and spat out some kind of liquid.
「Get back! 」
Faster than Greyth’s warning resounded, the three of them had already taken evasive measures.
However, the monster was even faster than them.
Two of the three couldn’t evade the incoming liquid and were showered in it, and their body melted like wax, leaving not even bones behind.
「M-My legs! 」
Even the remaining one had one of his legs showered in the liquid.
From below his knee, his entire leg melted in a blink of an eye, the remaining stump was entirely red as if they were burnt off.
Having seen a terribly grotesque scene, Luciel yelped.
As if that being the reason, the monster looked at Luciel next.
Ardis immediately stood between Luciel and the monster while stacking many layers of barriers.
The monster’s face that looked burnt and torn had no distinguishing features like eyes or a nose.
However, at that moment, Ardis certainly felt the monster’s gaze on himself.
After letting out what sounded like a groan, the monster closed in on Ardis.
Half-assed barriers can stand no chance to block his opponent.
Understanding that, Ardis gave up thinking about any hopes of counterattacking and poured everything into defense.
The monster’s hand stretched, and Ardis’s barriers were shattering in the attempt to stop it.
First, second, third…….
Ardis panicked at the rate of his barriers shattering.
The moment he thought he couldn’t defend against it, another barrier expanded in front of Ardis.
Believing that it was Luciel’s without any basis, Ardis’s body moved itself naturally defensively.
Considering how he couldn’t discern an eyeless monster’s intentions at all, he had no other choice but to move his sword to try to hit the incoming hand.
Ardis’s sword made contact with the monster.
Suddenly, an irregular amount of strength pushed against Ardis’s sword.
The incredible strength that the creature radiated from its body twisted Ardis’ sword. The blade’s nasty whining sound indicated that it was approaching its limit.