(TL: You won’t be getting another chapter today, just to let you know.)
Those Who Move
… A large crater was made in the ground, and in it, with her two golden horns with split tips out, May lay without moving.
Her mouth spat up blood, and her eyes were empty.
The perpetrator who’d made that crater, Marina, breather roughly as she leaped all the way over to May. She landed, and to lay the final blow, she raised her hairy arm, and extended her claws…
… Jumped back, and took some distance from her.
Narrowing her eyes, she raised a growl.
Extended canines, the lycanthropic form of a beast walking on two legs. The instinct of Marina, in her Skill’s second form was the wild itself.
May let her golden horns glow, as she leisurely stood. She spat blood, and after wiping her mouth, she pat at her clothing to remove the grime.
“You’ve got good instinct, ma’am. You’d make it out in the wild. Of course…”
A single red line appeared across Marina’s face.
A quilin horn protruded from the ground. May had extended her horn from her right hand, and stuck it in the ground, waiting for Marina to approach before commencing her attack.
“… Even I have a trumpcard or two. Fredricks taught me. Last resorts are to be saved away.”
Putting her horn away, she did a somersault on the spot, and changed to her quilin form.
From a girl of small build, to a large-bodied scaled horse. A golden mane, with sharp horns extending from her forehead. At the same time, she grew her golden backwards-growing split-tip horns as well.
Not on the ground, she created a foothold in the air, and landed on it, charging electricity even more than ever before.
“Now, let’s get this started!”
Kicking the air, May charged at Marina. Unable to dodge in time, Marina crossed her arm protectors, and tried to block the attack.
But in impact, she was lifted into the air, crashing into a tree, and then another, mowing a few down in her path, and when she finally came to a stop, her beaten body was embedded in the trunk of a great tree.
“You sure are sturdy. Normally, you’d be mincemeat.”
Fed up as she was at that durability, May was also impressed. In her original unhumanoid form, this was the power she could exhibit.
And still stuck in the tree, Marina let a laugh towards the sky.
Did she lose it? When May thought that and looked, Marina’s body had started to change once more.
“… Onto the third form? That’s fine, I don’t mind keeping you company.”
May watched Marina. Her overcoat flew off, and her muscles swelled to such an extent her shirt’s stitching began to snap. Her injured parts, and even her broken bones had rapidly begun to regenerate.
Her boots were blown off, and her arm guards and knee guards fell off as well. Perhaps they were heavier than they looked, as they embedded deeply into the ground.
Her body hair grew, and when she finally thought she had taken her final monstrous form, that body was immediately swallowed by flames, and set alight. What emerged from the blaze wasn’t that monstrous form from before. Just a little taller than the usual Marina… a well-balanced beast-woman.
Rationality could be felt from her eyes, and on top of that, her body had been enhanced with Mana. She touched a hand to her neck, and made a cricking sound, as she twisted it back and forth.
Wearing nothing but pants and shirt.
“Now you’re finally looking the part.”
On May’s words, Marina laughed.
“I know, right? I can’t help but have to pass through the Second Stage to get her. And when I go that far, most opponents are already dead, and it’s over. But if that form realizes it can’t win, I finally get back my rationale. It’s quite nice, this Skill… let’s me enjoy battle. Makes sure the opponent isn’t one where it’s over before I realize it!”
Jumping up, Marina closed in on May in an instant. But May lowered her body, and tried to pierce her through with her horns.
The moment she thought she’d stick in…
“… Hey, you’re wide open.”
Twisting her body in midair, her sharp claws grazed May’s flank, and left a mark. They broke through her scales, skimmed the meat, and released the flow of red blood.
Skillfully jumping among the trees, Marina started into hit-and-run tactics to chip May away. Leading her to believe she was lacking in a decisive blow.
May raced into the sky. Marina narrowly passed her by, falling, and hitting the ground feet-first, making a large crater form around her.
Perhaps she had even more power than her reasonless state, as the way she gouged out the ground below her was strange.
A large indent had been made for Marina alone. And from that crater ten meters across, Marina looked up at the sky as she rose through it, approaching May.
Moving her body freely through the air, she landed in a fist, and a kick.
Unthinkable for a human.
May was sent a distance, making a foothold in air to recover her posture. Falling to the ground, Marina looked at May’s form, and laughed.
“Girly… you’re nothing special. If that’s all you are, then you’re still weaker than a dragon.”
Among the monsters, the race of dragons held a meaning. They were counted as the strongest point of monsters, and those that defeated dragons were the heroes admired by children everywhere.
What’s more, Marina was alone… a solo adventurer. To exterminate a dragon alone, she really was a human you could call a monster.
“… So you’re a dragon killer? But do you think I’ve never fought a human like that?”
May’s body let out light again…
… It was the station of the rear forces of the mercenary brigade.
There were tents prepared prepared, and around, the adventurers looked excitedly at the Valkyrie equipment being brought in.
The smiths and other workers were extremely busy with the broken weapons.
In one of the tents, the Valkyries stripped of equipment were loaded. The Valkyries the mercenary brigade had collected were thrown and piled like a mountain.
The ones collected by the adventurer party were tidily lined up. Even if they were adventurers all the same, these differences of handling came out.
And in that tent, a two-man adventurer party entered.
Neither had any decent equipment. They were working at the bottom of the brigade, and they had diverted the surrounding eyes to enter the tent.
“Oy, if we take their parts and return, they’ll sell for a lot, right?”
“From what I’ve heard, they were made by a famous blacksmith. So it wouldn’t be strange if they sold for a fortune.”
You couldn’t call the two particularly smart. As they looked upon the mountain of Valkyries stripped of all but their undergarments, they swallowed their spit.
“Yeah, that’s right. It’s not like anyone’ll know if they’ve been used. Taking out one in good condition, and having some fun isn’t…”
The two with a minimal salary didn’t have the funds to commute to the brothel. And besides their arms and legs, the Valkyries of beautiful flesh were existences the two couldn’t resist. Not taken seriously among their comrades, and mocked by female adventurers, the two of them took out a Valkyrie.
“I-is this one fine?”
“Then I’ll just…”
Saying that, and extending his hand, his arm was grasped y the Valkyrie that suddenly sprung to motion. The eyes of the piled Valkyries opened, and their red pupils glowed as they began shuffling about the dim tent.
Those with their heads bent at impossible angles.
Those with swords and spears stuck through their beaten bodies.
The adventurers had no idea how to unfasten their arms and legs, so with them still attached, the Valkyries stood with unsettling movements, and came down on the two adventurers before their eyes.
Attacked by many, they lost their lives without being able to utter a sound.
“… I-it is… time.”
“This body’s movem ents are… as expected, our internal flu… id…”
“Profess or… Damien and boss Letarta… will re pair…”
Making metallic groans, and unnatural movements, to carry out the scheduled actions, took out the metal cylinders hidden within their arms.
After which they took some cylinders filled with gunpowder.
“… The East Bra nch… sur vives.”
“A portion… es… cape.”
Clink clank, whirrrrrrr… entangled in the tent, from the mountainous pile of Valkyries, one and then another stood to go outside.
It was night.
Right on time, the Valkyries moved.
Setting the bombs in their hands alight, they blew up wherever the important materials were kept, and attacked the men. In that place of gathered mercenaries and adventurers, it had instantly become hell.
Even if they were pierced through with weapons, or burned by magic, the Valkyries that continued moving started causing the adventurers to flee out of fear…
… Sensing an irregularity, the chief turned around.
He had the feeling he heard a strange sound.
His subordinate nearby looked over the magicians firing magic with the same pattern to conquer the third fort they’d encountered.
“Oh look, seems they’ve put up some countermeasures. I guess you get used to it after a few days.”
Hearing his smiling subordinate’s words, the chief put a hand to his chin.
A few days.
In these past few days, Marina had continued fighting the quilin. If you were too close, you’d get dragged in, but he had put people to observe them from afar, so there was no doubt about it.
From how that quilin didn’t flee, there was no doubt she had some sort of relation with Lyle’s party. And after making the first fortress fall, they got their preparations sufficiently together, before conquering the second.
By the Third fort, the enemy had seen through the mercenary brigade’s tactics, and had put up countermeasures.
“… Even so, they hold out well.”
It wasn’t just a magic barrier, they dealt with each individual magic soming at them. For the water, they deployed ice to kill the momentum, and with the ice strengthened by the water, it would stop the rocks.
The flames had no effect either, and no matter how many times they tried it, it was blocked.
With a repetition of such actions, only time was going by. The chief planned to wait for his foes to exhaust themselves. Of all else, in numbers, his was the greater.
Having them endure and wear out, he need only overrun them, he thought. But the leader was the one not able to endure it anymore.
“Isn’t it strange? It’s true it’s been smooth sailing up to now, but come this far, we’ve suddenly stagnated. Is this how it usually is?”
For they, who specialized in Labyrinth work, and never went out for mercenary jobs, rather than placing importance on the site, they stressed information and the method. Even if it looked futile at a glance, if it were a necessary action, he didn’t like how inefficient it seemed.
“In that case, do you lot have any good ideas?”
“Our offense is too monotone. How about we try something more effective? If ice is coming out… then melt it away?”
The adventurer party, having obtained some Valkyries, thought they had earned an amount they were satisfied with. But the chief was different.
To maintain a force on a large scale, a small profit wasn’t enough. Burning everything away with fire may have him lose his precious treasures.
“Rejected. Like this, we’ll wait for the enemy to wear themselves out.”
The leader shrugged his shoulders. Seeing that, the chief was irritated. An adventurer oblivious to the battlefield shouldn’t open his mouth on it, he thought.
And irritatingly enough, Lyle’s party’s resistance had grown to heights he had rarely seen before.
“Damn, it’s as if we’re attacking a fortified castle. Are there really just a few dozen of them?”
On the chief’s words, his subordinate laughed.
“Well, however they go about it, their limit will come. It’s about right time they slump over, isn’t it?”
There was no sign of such a thing, so the chief couldn’t help but feel something was very, very wrong…
… A humanoid form.
Covered from the arms to the thighs in blue scales, the form of an adult woman. It was May.
Her long golden hair swayed, and that form with golden horns looked like the assimilation of man and beast.
Ironically enough, she had arrived at the same point as Marina’s Skill.
They exchanged punches and kicks, sending one flying, being sent flying…
It was practically a fight of those beyond humanity.
Unlike Marina’s wild ecstacy, May was level-headed to the end.
“Splendid, girly! That form of yours is just like mine!”
Power, speed, with all those limiters removed, the two of them clashed, bringing atrocity to the surrounding forest.
But when night fell, and May looked at the blazing point a distance away, she led out a sigh.
“… Now then, is it about time I end this?”
While she spoke the same, her form more curvaceous than usual boasted a high stature. Her usual attire had gone from cute to sexy on that body.
Looking at Marina, May spoke.
“It was fun. But it wasn’t enough, ma’am… at the very least, I’ve fought a human like you four times so far. You’re just the fifth.”
Marina kicked the ground, and May kicked the air, the two of them meeting in the middle. Twisting her body, Marina launched a kick.
That kick that seemed it would slice even the air away came from May’s human form in a straightforward attack.
The impact shook the surrounding air, and Marina was slammed on the ground.
Marina’s elbow she intended to pierce through hadn’t hit anything.
“… That was my best, so I’ll praise you for surviving.”
Her body slowly shrunk and once back in human form, Marina looked at May and laughed.
She looked completely satisfied. Saying she had no regrets left behind, she was a self-centered warrior to the very end.
May released a shimmed light to her surroundings, as she steadily took on her smaller human form. Returning to the usual May, she gave a yawn.
“I’m sorry. You’re of the East Branch, so I can’t kill you. I was fighting with the intent to kill, but as I thought, you were strong.”
When May said that with a smile, Marina’s expression showed she didn’t know what was going on as she closed her eyes…