Elsewhere, Eryn and Saki were caught in their own battles.
Having moved separately from Claude’s group, they led the charge into Engelburg from the eastern gate, where the buildings had already been demolished by destructive magic. Having surveyed the area with Hal, Cornelius determined that whatever was responsible for this act needed extensive firepower.
The incredible raw magic of Eryn Faulker, along with the unstoppable Electi of Attack, Saki, hardly needed restraint in these areas, since they were unsalvageable. It took no time at all for them to encounter three demons who had been responsible for the destruction.
Distracted from their senseless rampage of magic slinging, they cackled as the two girls raced towards them, faster than Roderick and the other troops could move.
The first one, who used to be a young noble that was gifted with the power of fire, raised his arm and created a fireball above his head. It grew and grew to the size of a house, causing some soldiers to slow their pace and gawk in terror at it.
However, Eryn was unintimidated by this. She simply drew her sword and slashed forward.
“Wind Blade – Sword Form!”
A gush of compressed air launched forward as her sword escaped its scabbard. Boosted by her magic power, it drew an arc faster than one could blink. In an instant, wind held together by mana formed a blade that collided into the glowing ball of fire. Like a candle flame being blown out, the demon felt the fireball snuff out above him.
The demon barely had time to look up in surprise before the flash of a blade entered its vision.
After Eryn had released the wind blow at the fireball, the momentum of her sword caused her to spin around. Rather than fighting it, she dove with the spin, adding an extra step at the end to launch herself forward with that added momentum.
This gave her a brief burst of speed, which allowed for a single follow-up slash that bisected the demon at an angle, from his waist diagonally up to his shoulder. There was no time for him to even howl in pain as the dirtied core within him had been sliced cleanly through. The first demon dissolved into a pile of purplish flames and ash with this lone, powerful stroke.
In the time that this happened, the second demon covered himself with earth, encasing his body in a giant ball that rolled around to flatten the landscape. As a nobleman, this demon had prided himself in being able to bowl over his opponents with his magic. But with the demonic power boosting him further, one would hardly fathom seeing a rolling orb 30 feet tall coming after one’s armies!
However, the Japanese girl named Saki merely paused and looked around for a long object to wield. Finding a stray metal bar that fell from some building, she hunched over into a position that many a Japanese sports enthusiast would recognize.
With a fierce swing, the metal rod moved horizontally in the air and collided with the massive rolling ball of earth coming for her. An ear-shattering boom erupted as the ball exploded into countless shards, destroyed by the raw attack power of the Electi. This metal rod continued through the ball of earth until it met the inner crevice in which the demon was hiding within.
The demon marveled at how his ball could simply be smashed in such a way, as the earth was coated magically to be as hard as gemstones. But that mattered little as the rod smashed into his chest and pulverized his body into the remaining half of the earth surrounding him. The impact was so heavy that the core within his body was crushed into little shards, snuffing out the demon entirely.
Saki watched as the back half of the ball sailed into the sky. Who knew where it would end up landing? But for the moment, it cleared the capital’s perimeter walls.
“Home run…da yo ne?” Saki placed her hand over her eyes and squinted to confirm where it ended up. Afterward, she looked down at the horribly bent metal rod, warped as it was unable to withstand her attack power. She lightly tossed it aside before dusting off her hands.
The last demon was a noblewoman who had secretly been one of Prince Oswald’s admirers, despite being nearly twice his age. She fell backwards in awe. The spell that she had started casting extinguished in her hands at the sight of her two fellow demon partners being instantly killed.
She had voluntarily become a demon after the Princess had told her that her beloved was killed by the rebels. Driven by despair at the news, it appeared that her willingness to dive into darkness allowed her to retain some sense of cognitive ability.
An overwhelming rage to torture those who would support the rebels had built up within her, but even that paled in comparison to the two girls standing before her now. The incredible power coming off of her opponents was enough for her to hallucinate.
In front of her, they were the true demons. The long tresses of white and black hair quickly converged in her muddled vision and gave her a sense of unimaginable dread. Even with her increase in powers, she could never hope to beat them.
So she turned tail and ran, screaming in a delirium. As she did, what magic power she had was spent on littering the ground around her with poison. Due to the nature of her personality, she looked venomously at those beneath her. She treated them as toys and conveniences. It had not always been that way. Only through the slow poisoning of herself by the youthful, fiery prince had she grown into a person that sneered upon those unworthy of her.
As such, she had spent her time as a demon toying with the townspeople – watching them suffer and wither away from the effects of her poison. Their whimpers of agony and their sense of helplessness were candies in her mouth.
But poison was not enough to stop these two. It was designed to make people suffer slowly, rather than a swift strike offensively. She would perish before the effects would fully kick in. The best she could hope for was to poison the entire grounds and wait it out in hiding. Hopefully, she could buy enough time.
However, a familiar voice betrayed her. A swift cry sounded as a sword appeared in front of her, piercing her navel. As she was still looking back in fear, she had not caught the new attacker’s approach in time. Whether by luck or by a measure of skill, the sword happened to collide into the core within her, cracking it slightly.
With the sword still stuck in her belly, she staggered a few steps more, staring down at her misfortune. The form in front of her followed along, his grip on the sword remaining firm. She looked up and saw the familiar face of Roderick, her once retainer who left and joined the Royal Guards.
He had originally done it to impress her. By gaining a position in the castle in which she always cast her gaze upon, he had hoped that she would recognize him. But in the years after leaving her domain, he finally saw how twisted her obsession had made her, nothing at all of how he perceived her in their younger days.
“Rest, Lady Gildebrande. There is no longer a castle for your admirations to fall upon.” Roderick looked to the side at the majestic building looming at the back of the city. Surely, many people looked up at the place where royalty sat as a source of faith and strength, but its glimmer had long been lost in his eyes.
With a grimace, Roderick applied pressure to his sword, adding cracks to the purplish core it rested against. He grunted bitterly as the core finally gave in, allowing the sword to run through her the rest of the way.
Just then, he felt a hand brush against his cheek. Roderick looked forward and met the gaze of his former master.
“I see… I forgot that there was more than one who deserved my attention…”
Slowly, her body fell away and turned to ash as the unleashed flames of her core consumed her. The residual feeling lingered on his cheek as he sheathed his sword and turned away.
With barely a moment to mourn, a shriek echoed across the sky. As dragons fell to the ground around him, he shrugged the feeling away for now and doubled back to rejoin the others.
Dragons were not something that he had faced before, but the strength of those beings were not beyond his ability. Or rather, that was what he believed. In reality, the first one he encountered certainly changed his perception of them.
As Roderick backed away from the one he was facing, Eryn called out from behind.
“Be careful. These dragons feel nothing at all like the one fought in the mountains.”
She had found her magic to be completely ineffective against them. Dragons, in general, had very high base stats, especially in respect to resisting magic. However, she had become much stronger since the last time encountering one.
Yet, these dragons gave off a particularly ominous aura, one that seemingly cancelled out her spells upon impact.
“This feels familiar to what I was afflicted with when demonizing…,” Saki commented.
“Oh great, demon dragons! Who decided to create such abominations!” Eryn retorted in response.
However, they all had a feeling as to who was responsible. The Chancellor, or rather, the Demon inside of him had likely gathered them up and warped them into the current grotesque beings. Somewhere in Saki’s memories, she recalled a few times in which her former master had apparently gone ‘monster hunting’. To think that it was for this purpose…
“Dang it, we don’t have any choice. Physical attacks have to be used!” Eryn gripped her sword and was about to get into her stance for ‘Flash of Strength’. The dragons outnumbered them, and they would pounce on the soldiers nearby if they couldn’t hold them back.
At that moment, Saki pushed Eryn back, breaking her out of the stance.
“The two of you, I will take care of this. It is my fault for letting the Demon run wild. Even though I was dutifully serving the Chancellor, that is no excuse for how things have led to this point. Please, let me atone.”
“Do not worry. I do not plan to sacrifice my life here. Not after Claude has graced me with acceptance. I still owe everyone a debt for saving me.”
Eryn looked at her skeptically before nodding slightly. She and Roderick raced back before deciding to split up. Roderick would protect and evacuate the army, who would have difficulty facing these dragons. Eryn decided to move onward, worried about her familiar.
As for Saki, she watched them leave before turning toward the dragons with a sigh.
“Good. It’s best if no one were around for me to activate this. Aura de Gigante!”
A purplish aura, not unlike those that were demonized, emitted from Saki’s body. However, she had perfect control of this, unlike the time that she had fallen into despair. The only good that had come out of that perilous moment had been this one skill.
As the dragons approached her, they were suddenly swept with a feeling of intense dread. Rather than the small girl that was before them, in which a single stomp would likely crush her underneath their talons, they saw a being that towered even above them.
Nervously, they started backing away, with a feeling of helplessness enveloping them. The ‘Giant’ form of Saki turned to one and swung her massive fist into it. The first victim flew backwards, launched with a great force, until it fell to the ground in a crumpled heap.
Several of its bones had been broken and one of its arms had been twisted backwards. It futilely tried to claw itself away as Saki walked over and slammed her foot down into its stomach, crushing its organs into the earth. If that weren’t enough, that same blow had crushed the core along with it. Immediately, the dragon burst into flames and disintegrated.
From a distance, Roderick marveled at the sight of Saki casually walking over and beating the rest of the dragons to a messy pulp before they burst into flames. However, he and the rest of the army gawked in wonder as to why the dragons had suddenly become so afraid of her.
In their eyes, nothing appeared to change about her. She had simply walked up to the dragons and planted her attacks into them, allowing for her massive attack power to obliterate them. They did not see the ‘Giant’ that the dragons thought they saw.
The skill ‘Aura de Gigante’ had actually been nothing more than a psychological attack for those within range. By injecting the malicious aura that came from her partial demonification into her foes, a vision of what the dragons feared came about. Nothing could unnerve them more than a ‘Giant Saki’ that towered over their own massive forms, exemplifying the power her blows possessed.
For that reason, she needed others to be at a distance, lest they fall under the same delirium. The last thing she needed was for more people to become afraid of her. That was why she wished to keep this ability secret for the time being.
Grabbing the last frightened dragon in the vicinity by the snout, she simply slapped the dragon’s face across the cheeks. For any normal person, the simple attacks would seem like a light scolding to a mighty beast. For the Electi of Attack, her resulting attack power made the creature’s jaw nearly rip out of its socket.
“That hammer really did hold me back, didn’t it?”
She lightly lamented as she slapped the dragon across the face a few more times. By now, its face was barely recognizable. Many of its teeth had fallen out, the bridge of its snout had caved in, and one of its eyes had been crushed. It fell over with a whimper, no sign of its demonic aura bolstering its once prideful self. With a swift stomp, Saki ended its suffering, watching it burst into purple flames.
With a deep breath, Saki released the skill before clutching her abdomen. While she was not physically hurt, the skill did tap into the miasma resting in her core. It was a risky move for one who had been close to demonizing, but thinking about the others slowly pushed the dark sensation back. After several deep breaths in meditation, her gratefulness to her friends overcame those negative feelings.
Once again, she was back to herself, not the ‘Dark Saki’ that hovered on the edge of madness. She was just plain old Saki, defender of those she cared for.