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「The Shadow Saint. …the Hidden Saint. The True Saint. …Hmmm. All of them have the taste of a villain. What do you think?」
White. White. White. The walls, the floors, and ceilings too.
The furniture and clothing, everything had been painted white within the white castle.
「…why not the Great Saint?」
The man who was questioned was also completely covered in white from his hair to his clothes. Only his two pupils were of a red color.
「…Hmm. However, would it be wise to a.s.sume the name of Great Saint considering my appearance?」
Contrary to her calm tone, she had an appearance that looked no older than five or six years of age. She had long hair that reached to the floor and a cherubic face. A beautiful young girl that looked like a younger Meria, but with eyes that shone with intelligence and her expression was mature.
「…Well, perhaps that discrepancy is not so bad in itself.」
The man said, clearly not feeling that it was important.
「Discrepancy…hmmm, very well. I will a.s.sume the name of Great Saint Melisande then.」
「…You seem excited.」
Melisande raised an eyebrow at him.
「Do not be foolish, this is the first peril to our country in hundreds of years. There is no time to enjoy it.」
So you won't deny that it was exciting, the man thought without saying it.
「Demon Lord Aur. You have come to attack much earlier than I had thought. And to spring a surprise attack from underground, quite impressive.」
「Would it not save time to just follow the mines and snuff him out? If so, I will go and do it myself.」
The man said lightly, but Melisande shook her head.
「Do not be too haughty, 『Immortal』. While you cannot die, you are not unbeatable. If you underestimate him and attack, you will be met with painful retaliation. Our enemy is one who defeated King Wolf.」
「Hmm, then how many should we call?」
Melisande nodded and snapped her fingers loudly.
「I have already called them.」
From behind her, six figures also clad in white clothing and bearing white hair appeared.
「Si…six of them!? We are going in full force!?」
The man who was called the 『Immortal』 widened his eyes and shouted. Seven including him. That was the maximum number of Departed Heroes that Melisande could employ.
「Did I not just say, this Demon Lord is not one to take lightly. We already lost one Saint. …We will go with all our power and crush him.」
Melisande said with a mischievous smile. The 『Immortal』knew, through his long years of being acquainted with her, that this was an expression of fury. She had not been enjoying this at all. She was angry at those who opposed her.
「『Knight of Ignorance.』」
A man who wore a strangely shaped slitless helmet that covered his entire face stepped forward and raised his spear.
A knight who wore a pure white suit of armor kneeled before Melisande.
A lightly clothed man who carried a bow came and reverently bowed.
「『Hero of Lead.』」
A large man who carried no weapon stood without moving.
A small young girl silently raised her sword.
A man with an abundant beard slowly folded his arms.
「And the 『Immortal』. …The seven departed Heroes. You will all go forth and slay the Demon Lord.」
「Three newcomers, eh. …Well, I look forward to working with you all.」
『Immortal』laughed cheerfully. But the Departed Heroes did not react. That is how they were. The『Immortal』was just an exception, he still had a self.
「So, how will we do it? Will we seven just attack all at once?」
These former Heroes were able to take on thousands, no, even tens of thousands. With seven of them, their powers surpa.s.sed a division and were comparable to a single army. However, Melisande shook her head to the side.
「First we must a.n.a.lyze his military capabilities. Our enemies are the Demon Lord Aur and the monsters he rules, and the soldiers of his va.s.sal nations.」
Melisande began to talk without pausing as she walked back and forth in front of the Departed Heroes.
「Figuria has nearly ten thousand men, Grandiera has nearly one hundred and fifty thousand, Ravana has five thousand, Alfheim has three thousand…add in any remaining rabble and it was around twenty thousand. Of course, it was not as if he could mobilize this number of men all at once. He could perhaps mobilize around half of them for an offensive attack. Furthermore, most of these countries had become his va.s.sals after being invaded by the Demon Lord. Even if they were skilled soldiers, their morality should not be high.」
The 『Immortal』offered a noncommittal grunt as Melisande turned to him as if asking for a confirmation. He had no experience serving in an army or taking part in a war. In truth, he did not grasp what she was saying.
「If that was all, then we could well have dealt with him with our own army of holy knights instead of calling the Departed Heroes. The problem is these monsters that he has. We cannot predict their numbers or types. And we would be terribly inconvenienced should he bring his army here through a tunnel as when he abducted the Saint. We cannot build a barrier underground.」
「Ahh…Yes, that would be terrible.」
The following words were easy enough for the 『Immortal』to understand. In an extreme scenario, there was an actual possibility of the enemy suddenly appearing within the temple as an army of tens of thousands. It was a large, s.p.a.cious building, but it was still a building. It was a little difficult to proclaim without a doubt that they would be able to protect the Saint should they have to fight here.
「And the most troublesome of all is the Demon Lord Aur himself. Cautious and cunning, a man who cares only about the end and not the means.」
「…I have heard that phrase somewhere.」
「Indeed. I have too. He is very similar to me.」
The 『Immortal』straightened his back upon hearing the honest acknowledgment.
「I see. In that case, we must take this very serious or we will suffer greatly.」
「…I will accept that as a compliment. What is troublesome is that he constantly uses subst.i.tutes, his real form is never seen out in the forefront. That real form is likely hidden somewhere in the depths of that labyrinth. But this labyrinth itself poses quite a challenge. It is difficult to attack and easy to defend, the most advantageous shape.」
「It is not only surrounded by mountains but walls.」
「…And yet, you had actually been thinking you could defeat him alone.」
Melisande gave him a sharp stare as he answered leisurely.
「Oh, did you notice? But is that not the truth now?」
As his given name indicated, 『Immortal』 was literally 『immortal』. He would not die even if his head was cut off or if his body was ground to a pulp. It did not matter how numerous his foes were. He could take his time descending into the labyrinth and a.s.sa.s.sinate the Demon Lord, or so he had believed.
「Pitfalls too deep to come out of. Slimes that can melt anything. Traps that will teleport you deep underground or in lava zones. Powerful curses that will prevent all movement. Sorcery that affects your mind. It was just a cursory musing and yet I was able to think of that many ways to disable you, am I wrong?」
「Forgive me, I was carried away!」
The 『Immortal』 readily apologized with a bow of his head. He was immortal but not invincible. And it was his flaw that he would often forget this fact, Melisande had wearily repeated it to him but the words did not seem to have much of lasting effect on him.
「I am sure that at least a few of those traps actually exist in the labyrinth. Departed Heroes or not, you will not be able to easily break in. If we lose the Departed Heroes, then there is a possibility that we will have to fight army against army, they could break through our frontlines.」
The 『Immortal』had been about to say that it was over thinking it, but he swallowed his words. He escaped seeming like even more of a rash person in front of his master than he already did. It was really too late, of course.
「As long as the full size of our enemies entire force is unknown, we cannot let our guard down. We must always a.s.sume that the worst could happen while we act.」
She said, understanding what 『Immortal』had been thinking.
「That being said if I cannot invade the labyrinth alone, and we cannot wait for our enemy to march here, as they may directly launch an a.s.sault on the temple, then what can we do? Will we send our troops first and attack him?」
「That is not a terrible idea, but I have a better one.」
Melisande said with a mischievous smile, the Immortal felt a sense of foreboding.