Running from roof to roof, Harold carefully observed the monsters. They remained in the vicinity of the central plaza, yet showed no signs of heading toward the main gate where he had spotted the silhouette of a child.
It would have been troublesome if the monsters had scattered in different directions after losing sight of their target, Harold. However, this situation was convenient for him to attract their attention and lead them.
(Yes, it’s quite convenient. Suspiciously convenient)
One of the concerns during the battle with the monsters was the unpredictable behavior they might exhibit after Harold disappeared. Although they were likely under the control of Justus to some extent, their limited movement was not a reassuring sign. Furthermore, with the added effect of the Red Bottle, it was impossible to predict the outcome. It was a strategy that relied on improvisation.
Fortunately, it worked out well, but such smooth progress made Harold excessively suspicious and filled him with doubt.
It had been over twenty minutes since Harold left the battle. While the monsters continued to appear, they remained gathered around the central plaza, not venturing toward the main gate.
If they could maintain this situation, there would be no need to fight the monsters anymore. Harold could wait cautiously until the evacuation was complete. During that time, it should be possible to search for the aforementioned figure.
(Well, it’s probably just the calm before the storm)
Harold contemplated these thoughts while observing the monsters from the shadows of the buildings near the central plaza. Now, it was crucial to stay quiet and not let the situation escalate in the wrong direction.
This conviction stemmed not only from his trust in Justus but also from his trust in the existence of Harold Stokes itself. Therefore, Harold concealed himself in the eerie silence, expecting a moment to strike when necessary.
That time did not last long.
After observing the situation for a while, suddenly, the monsters started moving simultaneously in a clearly coordinated manner, breaking the silence and tension. Harold couldn’t tell whether the effect of the Red Bottle had worn off or if it had never been effective, and the monsters had been under Justus’ control all along. However, at this moment, without a doubt, Justus’ will was reflected in their actions.
【”So, the target is indeed the main gate.”】
In a sense, it was as he had anticipated. It was the most challenging action for Harold to deal with.
Emerging from the shadows of the chimney and descending to the ground, Harold fearlessly confronted the approaching group of monsters head-on. He ran straight through what could be considered the main street, leading to the main gate. Stepping forcefully on the ground, he accelerated his speed. In response, his black sword, held firmly in both hands, emitted an electrifying glow.
At the moment when the glow intensified, Harold’s figure seemed to vanish into the light.
【”Kaminarikiri ? Rensen!”】
It was a scene where a flash of light pierced through the group of monsters. After the zigzagging trajectory of the flash passed, the corpses of the monsters that had been alive just moments ago littered the ground. Each one had been severed at the neck or torso, with the severed sections blackened and cauterized, with almost no bleeding present.
The technique called “Kaminarikiri” (Thunder Slash), which Harold had used in the battle with Vincent as a finishing combo, was one of his most powerful moves. It was an ultimate skill where the sword itself transformed into electricity. As it required charging, its power was among the top tier of Harold’s skills.
In the game, it was a technique that closes the distance with the enemy through instantaneous acceleration after charging and strikes them with a single blow. However, Harold had modified it to be a continuous attack by combining it with aerial dashes. He engaged the enemies at top speed, slicing through them, and in the next instant, while airborne, he accelerated with an aerial dash to launch an attack on the next enemy.
There was a risk of colliding with enemies or nearby buildings if mistimed, but Harold had refined it into a technique that could be used in practical combat with his natural physical abilities and dynamic vision.
Having swiftly dealt with the monsters at the forefront, Harold leaped forward toward the enemy’s main camp and immediately unleashed magic. Not directed at the monsters, but at their feet. Google search free𝓌𝗲𝒃𝓃𝒐𝐯𝒆𝙡. 𝑐𝗼ｍ
Several three-meter-long rock spears sprang from the ground, impaling the monsters and creating barriers to hinder their progress.
In an open area, this magic wouldn’t have a significant impact as an obstacle. However, in the current situation where the monsters were densely packed in a narrow street flanked by buildings, it was a different story.
Within this range, repeatedly using Rockneel could reduce the number of monsters and block their path with the spears.
Of course, this alone was not enough to completely halt their progress.
For now, they had only managed to stop the advance toward the main gate, and their plan was to divert the monsters’ attention while aiming for the north side, opposite the gate.
(Why aren’t they coming towards me at all?)
Harold climbed onto the roof and relentlessly unleashed magic spells at the monsters who were blocked by a temporary wall made of Rockneel. He had intended to attract their attention again and proceed with his plan, but for some reason, they didn’t even glance at Harold.
Considering this possibility as well, it could be said that the monsters’ actions were completely under control.
Perhaps the Red Bottle had no effect. Nevertheless, at first, the monsters moved as Harold had anticipated…
【”Damn it, is this intentional…!”】
The plan might be going well, it might succeed.
The thought of “I might be able to guide the monsters” led Harold to believe that he could keep them from moving from that location, and the option to observe until they moved was born.
Certainly, it would buy time for the residents to evacuate. However, at the same time, it could also become a time for Justus to set something in motion.
Harold had always suspected the movements of the monsters. Because of that, he couldn’t act recklessly.
Even though he had been vigilant, he had somehow been led to believe that everything was within the expected range and that he could deal with it. The monsters had repeatedly acted in a way that made him think so.
As a result, his judgment and choices were falling behind due to the thought that “the plan I came up with might work.”
If this choice of Harold’s had been forced upon him by Justus, what would he do in this situation…
As if being dragged into the water, Harold’s thoughts sank. Taking advantage of that moment, a monster passed over Harold’s head.
It was the surviving griffin, the only flying-type monster in this place that he thought he had continuously attacked and exterminated with Bolt Lances. And it headed toward where Harold had not paid attention…
There was a small child who hadn’t been there just now.
How and when did they appear? It was suspicious. But if they had really failed to escape…
In an instant, various thoughts crossed his mind. However, before he could organize them, Harold’s body moved.
He understood instinctively that if he didn’t move now, he would never make it.
Just before the griffin’s large and sharp claws could reach the child, Harold’s sword severed the griffin’s neck.
As he bathed in the blood splatters of the dying monster in front of him, the small boy, with unfocused eyes, stared not at Harold or the monster, but into empty space.
It was clearly an odd state, but Harold recognized something familiar in the boy’s condition.
The same eyes as Ventos and Lilium.
In other words, this boy was also a victim of Justus’ human experiments.
【”…You’re in the way, stay asleep.”】
As he had done with Ventos, but gently this time, Harold pressed the hilt of his sword against the boy’s abdomen. The boy let out a slight groan and collapsed into Harold’s arms.
Justus must have had some purpose in mind, but Harold had no idea why things had turned out this way.
But for now, he had successfully secured the child. All he had to do was hand him over to Frieri’s members and quickly leave this place.
While he was thinking that, an explosion resounded behind Harold.
With a swift leap and a turn, the wall of rock spears conjured by Rockneel obliterated the monsters in front of him.
It was undoubtedly a magical attack, given its power and range.
There was no time to ponder who was responsible. The monsters, previously held back by the destroyed barrier, began to move again.
Their speed was noticeably faster than before, and this time it seemed they had set their sights on Harold.
Even Harold couldn’t face a horde of monsters while carrying a child. He had to evade their attacks and quickly devise a plan in his mind.
He could try to shake off the monsters and escape through the main gate. While this was possible, it would mean leaving behind the remaining members of the Frieri group in the town and having to block the main gate as a final measure to prevent the monsters from getting out.
If that happened, the stranded members would either burn to death or be killed by the monsters.
If the monsters were solely targeting Harold, he could hide the boy in a seemingly safe indoor location and act as a decoy, allowing the other members to be rescued. It was a better plan than the initial one, but the safety of the child was uncertain. Clearly, the monsters’ actions were being altered in real-time. They could change their target in an instant, leaving the child vulnerable and beyond rescue.
Drawing the attention of the monsters while carrying the boy back to the center of the town was also difficult. It would be possible with a direct, linear movement like escaping through the main gate in a short amount of time, but the strain of continuous high-speed, multidirectional movement was considerable. There was no guarantee that a small child could endure it.
And that meant he couldn’t choose to continue evading the monsters like he had been doing.
(What should I do? What can I do!?)
He had no choice in battle, attack, evasion, or escape.
Choosing any of them meant sacrificing either the boy or the Frieri members. It was a true life-and-death decision.
In this desperate situation, two voices overlapped and reached Harold’s ears. He didn’t need to see their faces.
It was Sid and Keith, along with Irene and other knights and Frieri members who should not have been there. Were there ten of them?
(Has this also been predicted? Justus… even so, I’ll play along.)
If there was a possibility of saving everyone without choosing lives, even if it was a trap, he would bet on that side.
The only thing at stake was his own life.
Dodging the relentless onslaught of the approaching monsters, Harold managed to reach Sid and the others. Without a word, he handed the boy over to one of the members.
【”It’s a kid who got left behind. Take him and join the remaining scouts.”】
【”Huh? Uh, understood!”】
【”The rest of you, be their escorts. Isn’t that the duty of the Knight Order?”】
Without even glancing at the members and knights running away, Harold turned to face the monsters closing in on him from behind.
Numerous lightning blades soared in a fan-shaped pattern, reaping the lives of the monsters.
But naturally, that alone couldn’t stop their advance.
【”Never did I imagine that the day would come when I could fight alongside you, shoulder to shoulder,”】
【”Hmph, don’t get conceited. Your job is just cleaning up the leftovers,”】
【”You really are not cute at all. How about showing a little gratitude?”】
【”Well, it’s somewhat fitting for the Boss,”】
Harold didn’t need to say a word. Sid, Irene, and Keith stood beside him, each wielding their respective weapons.
Even if there were two who had set up a fatal death flag by announcing they would get married after this battle, it didn’t matter. In fact, it would be satisfying to break not only his own death flag but also Sid and Irene’s flags right here.
【”I will lead. I’ll give you a chance to strike. If you mess up, I’ll kill you,”】
Although the responses to Harold’s orders were all over the place, each voice carried a strong determination.