「We must hurry, or else Greyth and the others will leave us――」
The moment he stepped into the building, Ardis and the group were welcomed by an unexpected party.
Ardis reflexively swung his sword at the shadow that appeared from the edge of his field of vision.
Despite how the shadow should’ve received the brunt of the damage of a sword crashing into itself, it still nonetheless managed to crash into Ardis without any visible slowdowns.
Ardis’s reaction was one beat slower at the unexpected happening.
Beside Ardis who basically ate a counterattack, Kyo stabbed forward, and following that, Reina too slashed at the shadow horizontally.
Receiving help from both, Ardis got enough room to stabilize his posture, and took a step backwards to gain distance from the shadow.
When he finally noticed the appearance of his opponent, his eyes widened in surprise.
「This is!? 」
Its appearance was not of a person.
Despite having a head, abdomen, and four limbs, similar to a human, its body surface was more like some kind of mineral rather than a living thing, giving off an inorganic glow.
Reminiscent of solidified lava, it also looked like a whole burnt corpse was moving.
Ardis’s cursed memories resurfaced.
It was one of the monstrosities that almost pushed Wisteria to the brink of extinction in the past.
「Put up barriers that are at full power! This guy is dangerous! 」
Raising a warning, Ardis himself deployed five layers of barriers.
Since it’s not an opponent he can win by continuing his defenses, he took the initiative to cut at the monstrosity.
But, the monstrosity didn’t sit quietly to be cut.
In human terms, it would be swinging its right arm widely to try and block Ardis’s sword.
Despite how the feedback was as if he was cutting a boulder, it was still a strike delivered by Ardis with five years of constant fighting experience.
Unlike how he couldn’t do anything previously, his sword attacks were now sharp enough to cut off the monstrosity’s limbs.
「Eat this! 」
Naturally, the monstrosity didn’t stop even after losing one arm.
Not giving his opponent any pause for a breath, Ardis smashed a block of ice he made from arts into the monstrosity’s head.
Despite how the chunks of ice shattered into everywhere from the impact, the monstrosity didn’t seem to be damaged at all.
However, as expected, the momentum it carried wasn’t completely cancelled out, as the monstrosity’s head snapped backwards from the blow.
Reina from the side slashed at the monstrosity that lost its balance.
The sword that slashed from above tried to reap its head, but to defend against it, the monstrosity forcefully turned its body half a rotation to receive the slash with its left arm.
Leaving a heavy sound, the monstrosity’s arm was severed.
「Got it! 」
Answering Reina’s call, Kyo’s blade ran through the space faster than his words.
Towards the monstrosity that was basically cornered at this point, Kyo stabbed through where the chest would be for a human.
However, they couldn’t be careless thinking that it’s the end.
Ardis didn’t forget about the monstrosities they fought previously.
「Not yet! 」
Adding a full-powered slash onto the monstrosity that stopped moving, Ardis cut off its head.
Even so, Ardis didn’t stop his hands.
A second, third slash continued to rip the monstrosity apart, and at the same time, both Reina and Kyo helped damage the monstrosity.
The seventh time that Ardis’s sword slashed at the monstrosity, the monstrosity finally stopped moving completely.
However, it was also a momentary pause where he could take a breather.
After defeating the enemy in front of him, Ardis finally had a chance to look in the building and was shocked by the unbelievable scene.
The large room that could even house a sparring session between platoons was dyed in nothing but red, red, and red――.
The tall ceiling, and the room that even had an atrium on the second floor was entirely covered in blood.
Looking for the source of so much blood, Ardis finally understood the graveness of the situation after seeing the appearances of his comrades.
The blood spilled was from all his comrades.
The same monstrosities that Ardis managed to defeat just now, were chasing his comrades to the abyss of death.
All of them, amounting to about fifty.
「There are so many……」
They knew the power of the monstrosities after fighting it once.
Reina muttered as if groaning.
Certainly, the participants of this fight are all veteran mercenaries.
If against the same numbers, then they wouldn’t be weaker than Rodelia’s regular army.
However, that is only if their opponents are similarly human as they are.
The story is different if their opponents are monstrosities.
In fact, their side is overwhelmingly disadvantageous.
Although the number of their comrades is still more than the opponents’, that wouldn’t hold true forever.
One after another, while seeing his comrades decreasing after being chased into a corner, something flew towards Ardis who was standing still momentarily.
Ardis reflexively put up a barrier to block the something, but in the next moment, he swallowed his breath from what it was.
What crashed into the barrier and rolled on the ground was from a senior female mercenary he knew very well ―― Lexy’s newly decapitated head.
Fresh blood oozed out of the cross section that was just severed.
「Al-nii, they’re coming! 」
Ardis who reacted to Kyo’s voice saw the appearance of the monstrosity that headed towards him.
「Both of you, think of it as a fight against Greyth! 」
It’s not an opponent that they can win by reserving strength.
Saying that for himself too, Ardis received the attack from the monstrosity.
Unleashing an aimed strike at the monstrosity that rapidly closed the distance, he made use of its momentum.
An opponent that he was helpless against five years ago.
However, Ardis’s strength after fighting years and months for the sake of revenge alone was heightened.
「If it’s just one……! 」
Even if it’s impossible against multiple of them, if just one of them, Ardis is strong enough to handle it.
Despite it being difficult, he managed to defeat the second monstrosity, and after confirming that there’re no new enemies heading towards him, he looked over the surroundings again.
The situation wasn’t great at all.
Despite already soaked in blood, more blood continued to spill, and the number of comrades only decreased.
The number of fighting comrades had already decreased to about fifty, but there were still more than forty monstrosities still alive.
The difference in number between both sides would probably soon reach a balance.
「If it continues like this……」
It’s clear that they are disadvantageous.
At a little distance away, Reina and Kyo were taking on one of the monstrosities together with magnificent coordination.
Able to do that at their young age signified their strength are out of the ordinary, but in fact, they can only fight on equal terms against one monstrosity with both.
Victor as expected, was able to hold back one of the monstrosities just by himself, and any other mercenaries were already at their limits even if they fought in a group.
It’s only Greyth alone that can take on multiple monstrosities at once.
A few more mercenaries fell to their prey, as another fierce monstrosity found their new target and changed to Greyth.
Even Greyth couldn’t handle three monstrosities all by himself.
Ardis picked up the three swords that fell beside him and put them under his control.
Controlling them with his mana, he sent them over to support Greyth, as well as started running towards there on his own.
「Behind you, Greyth! 」
Greyth who noticed the newly approaching enemy from Ardis’s warning distributed five flying swords to protect his back.
However, that meant making an opening at his front.
It should be considerable burden already just taking on two monstrosities at a time.
As expected, countering the attack from the monstrosity from behind naturally broke his balance.
「Kuh, make it in time! 」
Ardis’s flying sword headed for support, but they were going to be late by a few moments.
One of the monstrosities’ arms broke through Greyth’s defenses and grazed him.
Ripping apart his defensive gears, the spewing out blood dyed Greyth’s back red.
Ardis who finally arrived to help crashed his sword into one of the monstrosities.
Ardis dodged the counterattack from the monstrosity without pauses, and stood against Greyth’s back to protect him.
The monstrosity that just received Ardis’s attack and suffered grave wounds didn’t look like it was affected at all and continued to attack with agile movements.
Along with the heavy feedback, the damage inflicted on the monstrosity didn’t seem to do much.
「Sorry, Ardis. 」
「Can you still move? 」
Greyth smiled fearlessly and responded to Ardis who was worried while hitting at the monstrosity fiercely.
「Haaahn, who are you saying that to? 」
「I see. 」
The moment he can’t move is the moment he dies.
In a battlefield, it’s a common situation.
Smiling fearlessly despite in a corner near death is what directly connects to victory.
Even if he tried to suppress it and faked a casual expression, it was a natural instinctive reaction of someone who had crossed many battlefields for many years.
「I can’t quite lose to a little boy yet, right? 」
「And you’re still too early to retire, right? 」
「Don’t treat me like an old thing! 」
Standing back against back, Ardis and Greyth covered each other’s blind spot and delivered continuous attacks towards the three monstrosities.
They were close enough to know each other’s habits.
Ardis as well is someone that has received sword training from Greyth.
Even without words, they could communicate just by having the will to communicate their intentions. It is surely what both felt at that moment.
As if overlapping Greyth’s attack, Ardis swung his sword, and as if following Ardis’s forward step, Greyth threw his sword to hold the monstrosity in place.
With their coordination, one monstrosity after another was slowly defeated.
Eventually, they defeated the three monstrosities in front of them, but the situation nonetheless is grave.
Even if Wisteria is a gathering of elite mercenaries, all of them were not strong enough like Greyth or Ardis that can take on one or even multiple monstrosities by themselves.
But that didn’t mean they were weak; it’s just the monstrosities are too strong and out of league for a human.
They have lost their upper hand in numbers, and more monstrosities started heading for Ardis and Greyth.
Greyth muttered as he was forced into a restless battle and was gradually being cornered.
「To think that they are rearing this many monsters under the daylight. 」
While swinging his sword, Ardis agreed in his mind.
They are not in a remote research facility or anything.
It’s one of the kingdom’s bases that more than several hundred humans had been crammed inside just a few hours ago.
Even Ardis never expected there would be this many monstrosities coming out from the castle of a central axis of the kingdom.
Greyth clicked his tongue at the visibly worsening situation and dying comrades.
「Oi, Ardis. 」
Replying while dodging attacks from a monstrosity, Greyth kicked away the monstrosity that was aiming at Ardis.
「You go ahead first. 」
After making a foolish sound from thinking what was it that he heard, Ardis immediately understood what Greyth was saying.
「Looks like we have no choice but to decide the battle here first. We’ve come this far. We can’t return without any result, or else we don’t have any face to look at those that died, right? 」
Looks like Greyth had already judged a high possibility of defeat in this fight.
Ardis too had noticed it already.
Despite the thorough plans and attacks with only a small number of elites, they were inferior in individual strength, and were now losing their numerical superiority.
Ardis isn’t optimistic enough to think that they will win in this situation.
「There’s no end to it at this rate. It’s not funny, but looks like there are a lot of us that don’t have the strength yet to go against that woman. 」
Now that their path is blocked by unexpected enemies that are the monstrosities, it’s more realistic to bet on the possibility to send someone stronger forcefully ahead to defeat the enemy general than letting everyone die here.
In other words, he had entrusted that role to Ardis.
「……Then, shouldn’t it be Greyth that should go ahead instead of me? 」
「What’s with that. Trying to use an old thing? 」
「Who was the one to say not to treat you as an old thing just now? 」
While rebuking lightly, the calm reasoning in Ardis knew that Greyth’s judgement is correct.
Leaving aside if he’s in perfect conditions, Greyth’s back suffered a great wound as his entire back was fully dyed in red.
Even so, it’s as expected of him to be able to fight as more than equals against the monstrosity, but still, his movement was a bit duller than before.
And it only worsened as time went on.
「You have Ruu’s matter to deal with too. You are the most suitable one here. 」
Just by having Ardis leave this place, the power balance in this place would suddenly worsen by many folds.
However, with no other methods to break through the current situation, if there’s no result here, then everyone here would have died in vain.
After cutting down another monstrosity, Ardis accepted Greyth’s words with resolve.
「Good. A teacher’s words are to be heard and heeded. 」
Dodging the attacks from the monstrosities, Greyth kicked it away as a counter before pushing Ardis’s back.
「No need to hold back. Go beat that woman even once for my sake too! 」
Carrying those words, Ardis leaped ahead as if being shot forward, deeper into the building.
The ones blocking his path were restrained by Greyth’s flying swords, as Ardis ran through the narrowly opened path.
「Sark, Elion! Go with him too! 」
Greyth’s voice shouted from behind, and matching that, the twins ran through the monstrosities.
Ardis, Sark, and Elion.
Just by having three of the strongest members in Wisteria leave the battle, it would mean the fight becomes many times harsher.
However, they couldn’t turn around at this point.
What Ardis must do at this point is only one thing.
It is to deliver his revenge to the perpetrator of everything, the owner of this castle.