Yuuto gasped for breath and, in a show that was awfully close to incurring some form of divine wrath, leaned on his holy sword like a cane.
‘So that’s how it is… The Hero hasn’t learned to use the full potential of the Holy Sword.’
Laladi was somewhat shocked to see him so drained of strength already. Though she had deigned to give him the benefit of the doubt and place some faith in his strength, it seemed that she had been misguided.
As Yuuto was now, he could only call upon the powers of the Holy Sword once, and Laladi made a mental note to report this when the next guild meeting came around.
“Haah… Did we win…?”
Even Maho’s exhaustion was evident on her face, though it was nowhere near the same level as Yuuto’s. Her repeated usage of the powerful Earth Needle spell had whittled away a great deal of her magic reserves.
‘Hah… She’s got ways to go, herself. She’s no match for someone like that cow-titted, high-and-mighty Vampir, or even Krankheit, self-deluded as she is. If she were, Lala’d use her to attack the others back at the guild, but…’
One could never be faulted for whatever thoughts roamed in their minds, of course, provided they remained there. Laladi, however, had the unfortunate habit of vocalizing said thoughts, and would, therefore, need to exercise a little more caution.
“Haah… I think I might be just a little exhausted…”
“Hey. Don’t you dare lean on the Master.”
Maho, behaving in a manner that could almost be called spoiled or childish, leaned against the Master, to which Laladi responded by glaring her down with anger simmering in her eyes. It was safe to assume that, had the Master not been present, Maho would have been on the receiving end of a killing spree. Laladi was certainly enraged enough for that to be a possibility.
“Fuhuh… She’s just lost a little bit of focus. We did just defeat an ogre, after all. Please, could you give her pass this time around?”
Yuuto’s words, prefaced with a handsome smile directed at Laladi, were only met with a very sharp comeback. She had been pressed to the point where she had little intention of hiding away her true nature. The only thing that she now kept concealed was the nature of their guild.
“Do you even hear those words coming out of your mouth?”
“Well, I mean… You know…”
Under the mercy of Laladi’s fixed and unwavering stare, he could only draw back a little. To her credit, the expression on her face did indeed indicate that she couldn’t even grasp what he’d said.
Yuuto, realizing that her adoration for the Master went rather far, felt a little shiver of fear and mustered a somewhat strained smile. It was true that the depth of Laladi’s infatuation with the Master was so great that it was nothing short of incomprehensible, but resuming speech at this moment would bring to light another matter entirely. Laladi huffed out an exasperated burst of air and went on to enlighten Yuuto, who seemed none the wiser about anything right then.
“…You would need a much stronger attack to defeat an ogre.”
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Laladi’s eyes were focused on the spot right behind Yuuto as the words left her mouth, right where the ogre was supposing to be lying, defeated by the Holy Sword, but…
“No… No way…”
Yuuto’s eyes became saucers, and his mouth opened and closed in repeated, fishlike futility, his sudden mutterings brought on by some great disbelief he had just come to harbor.
Maho, likewise a member of this party of heroes, felt similarly, though she did not attempt to give voice to her thoughts. Had she not been at the Master’s side, she would have burst into high-pitched shrieks containing a string of words whose sense and meanings were far removed from reality.
The roar was so powerful that it had chased away the lingering cloud of dust. The ogre stood tall.
Though he had undoubtedly gotten a taste of the powerful light that had sprung from the swing of the holy blade, he still stood there, his trunk-like legs firm upon the earth. However, even the thickness of his hide and tough constitution hadn’t completely spared him from injury at the hands of the Holy Sword.
Blood gushed down his head in straight rivers, and his breathing was greatly labored. That, however, was the extent of his wounds.
‘That’s all these heroes can manage now, Lala guesses.’
The Master and his perpetual smile aside, Laladi was the only one who kept some presence of mind. She was, in fact, just thinking with her usual bitterness, though even she had the single decency of leaving it all unspoken.
She had already predicted that Yuuto’s attack wouldn’t be enough to fell the beast, largely through the experience she had gained through her being charged with the unwilling observation of the group.
While she had, by all accounts, only met and spoken to them the day before yesterday, she had been keeping an eye on them for much longer. She had done so ever since Ritter, who had been charged with the affairs of the Kingdom, had shared the necessary information.
With her analysis of the party, it was all too obvious to her that they wouldn’t be able to defeat the ogre. Even the most valiant of the party’s efforts hadn’t done much to impose on the ogre.
In the face of an ogre, a higher-tiered monster that boasted great strength and endurance, there was really very little that a party that had only been in this world for half a year could do to win. That, of course, only raised the question of that very same party was able to chase away someone like Doss, a lieutenant in the Demon Lord’s own army. Simply put, it was in part thanks to the efforts of Kühling, who had been charged with the affairs of the demon armies, and her persistent but well-hidden means of harassing the lieutenant.
The Dark Guild Yelquchira had their eyes and ears everywhere.
A larger factor, however, was the effect of the Holy Sword.
While the Holy Sword possessed the power to deal a killing blow to those with inherent demonic power, to everyone else, it was just a normal, albeit powerful blade. That explained why they had been able to fend off Doss but now found themselves unable to defeat the ogre.
While ogres did constitute as proper monsters, they had little demonic power to speak of. Furthermore, the actual strength of the Holy Sword rose in proportion with that of its user and given Yuuto’s current aptitude, that was the most he could do.
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Laladi enjoyed a complete understanding of the matter but didn’t bother to inform the others. She couldn’t care less about them, after all.
With a hate-filled battle cry, the ogre tore what few thorns had survived the onslaught of the Holy Sword to shreds and charged towards Yuuto, the same person that the ogre deemed so foolhardy as to even attempt retaliating against him.
While Yuuto was successful in shielding himself and dodging the swing of the club that would have surely mowed him down, he could not find the strength to sidestep the ogre’s rushing leg. The impact was so strong that one could easily imagine it grinding their internal organs to dust. Blood spurted from Yuuto’s mouth.
With Yuuto defeated, the ogre turned his attention to Maho, who had been the one to invoke the power of the earth to curb his motion. Had it not been for her, the ogre would have had little issue with the strike of the Holy Sword; the astounding power of his legs would have allowed it to avoid the attack with ease. If not for her, he wouldn’t be dripping blood.
The ogre was by no means a creature of high intellectual capacity, but that didn’t stop him from knowing to direct the simple emotion of rage towards the girl. Captured by the glare of his red and blood-smeared eyes, she felt how a frog might feel before a serpent, and not a muscle found the power to even twitch.
Standing in front of this girl, almost protectively, almost as if to ward off what would come her way, stood the Master.
“W-What do you think you’re doing?! It’s dangerous, fall back! I-I’ll be alright, so please…!”
Maho’s legs trembled slightly, in spite of what she said. It was unclear to her whether the Master was aware of this or not, but he nevertheless looked down at her with a warm smile.
The ogre howled as if wishing to drown out the sound of Maho’s voice. He had already forgotten his anger towards Yuuto and Maho, that tell-tale smile bringing the memory of the Master back to the forefront.
That was the creature it had deemed prey, the one that had shot an orb of magic so powerful that his instincts impelled him to avoid rather than block with its club. Yuuto, who now lay there powerless, would be taken care of alongside Maho, but all in due time.
For now, the ogre’s mind was focused on the Master, whom he deemed the biggest threat present. He was completely unaware that there was someone else there who, while so uncaring of the heroes that they wouldn’t even lift a finger took almost exaggerated umbrage with any ill will sent the Master’s way.
“…You there. Don’t you think you’re getting a little ahead of yourself?”
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The ogre felt the full brunt of the overwhelming wrath and bloodlust that rolled off the Master – rather, off the small, frail-looking girl that clung to him. So stifling was the feeling that the ogre could not recollect a single instance among the plentiful strife and victories he had amassed thus far which could even compare. Laladi finally opened her mouth, her eyes almost humming with an odd glow.
“You can do whatever you want with these people. Go on, Lala wouldn’t even notice. But you should know that the Master’s different… Right?”
Laladi was so angry that her entire tone of voice had changed, though she hurriedly rectified this. She had, of course, no doubt in her mind that the Master would accept her for what she was. Still, she found herself very much inclined to only show him her more presentable qualities.
“Master, these heroes are useless. Can Lala do this instead?”
Laladi’s voice had taken a drastic shift from the sharpness with which she’d addressed the ogre, and her pleas for the Master’s permission were spoken adorably and childishly. The Master showed some degree of reluctance at first but then turned to see how Maho and Yuuto were faring.
The damage the ogre had dealt Yuuto was immense, and he seemed in no position to stand any time soon. Maho, sensing that some change had come over the Master, looked up at him worriedly.
Having observed the two, the Master kept to his bright smile and nodded his head at Laladi. Now that she was permitted to join the fray, a wide grin split across her face.
The joy she felt came from the knowledge that she could act as his own limbs and exact due justice upon those who had thought it wise to bare their fangs at the Master in defiance. Laladi slid down the Master’s back to which she had been clinging the whole time, and let her frail legs stand on the earth.
“I-Is this really a good idea? Laladi’s even younger than I am…”
“You’re being rude. No worries, Lala’s a much better fighter than you are. Also, she’s older than you are, you brat.”
Maho could easily deal with the knowledge that the Master wielded immense magical power, but she was rather hard-pressed to believe that a girl as tiny as Laladi could even fight. As far as she was concerned, her taking a stance against the ogre that none of them could best was plain suicide.
She had judged Laladi by her appearance, believing her to be younger, and the revelation that the other girl was, in fact, the older one brought with it a shock equal to the one she had felt upon being summoned into this world. Seeing her sorry state, Laladi huffed through her nose. She was, after all, fully aware of her own powers and always quick to flaunt and boast. The idea that Maho, a magic-user much weaker than her, felt worried for her safety; now that was grounds for irritation.
The ogre’s outburst, while also an attempt at intimidation, was just as much an attempt to regain his courage and drive away the feeling of inferiority he had felt at the ire of such a tiny girl. That said…
“You’re being noisy.”
With no preamble or warning, something of abnormal size and girth shot from the earth like a whip, knocking the ogre’s titanic body away. Thanks to the protection offered by his skin, however, the ogre was back up in no time flat, glaring at the flogging implement that had attacked him.
“Is that… a plant…?”
Maho’s mumbled words could be seen as a fitting substitute for what the ogre might have said had he been capable of speech. The girl was staring at the enormous vine that had slammed into the ogre with a dumbfounded expression. They writhed about like tentacles, awaiting the next command to attack.
“Hmhm, it really does have a thick hide. That didn’t do much damage.”
Had Maho been the one to summon such a plant, then the well of her magic would have run dry in an instant. Laladi, however, showed no signs of even being winded despite her use of such sorceries. Maho stared at her, finding herself unable to even imagine the girl’s limits, and gulped audibly.