Magnus:This is the moment many of you were waiting for, Izuku finally exploding in rightful rage! I was going to divide this in two chapters, but decided that you had way too many cliffhangers already, so enjoy!

Disclaimer: The next chapter was meant to be the last one, but since you love this story so much, I'll be adding between 5 to 10 more chapters. Hopefully they'll still be to your liking.


Chapter 19

Wrath

Moving towards the town of Axel, one carriage was being pulled by what even an illiterate would call a Behemoth. The sight of the impressive vehicle and the mythical creature sharply contrasted with the mood of the one holding the reins.

"Why did this have to happen?" Izuku asked to no one in particular, sighing at his luck, and his inability to ignore those suffering, "Why can't I move forward already?"

The gates of Axel were visible now, and with each step, the growing dread became more obvious. What was he supposed to say now, after his rather heroic speech when he left?

"Master… regret?" Liza's question carried too much weight for someone who supposedly lacked intellect.

For the entirety of a second, Izuku thought about how to answer that question. He wondered what could have happened if he had said no back then, if he had ignored that sole suffering person in order to continue his quest for the Greater Good.

"No." Izuku replied in all honesty, "I just wish that hadn't happened."

His heart was that of a Hero. Even if he wasn't fully aware of that.

"Then stop feeling down already." Megumin added, admittedly tired of hearing her boyfriend sigh every fifteen minutes, "What's done is done. Instead, let's take this time to prepare for a longer journey."

Izuku smiled at the idea of a better opportunity given. He was grateful of having Megumin and Liza sitting on either side of him the entire trip, even if he loathed the reason behind such a blessing.

The Knight finally revealed her name after night had fallen. Her demands for speeding the pace were met with the sensible request of revealing the identities of everyone interrupting the journey of the owner of their ride.

Probably thinking that doing so would increase the speed of the beast, she revealed her name as Claire, and that of her charge as Lady Iris. There was no mention of a house name though; the only explanation given was that her noble lady was traveling incognito to avoid unscrupulous people trying to get a hold of her.

The soldiers, Wedge and Biggs, seconded Claire in mentioning how often lesser nobles tried to gain some favor from their charge when her house was revealed, and how insincere officers could get when hearing her actual station.

Remembering how Darkness preferred to hide her true identity, Izuku decided to not inquire any further. Claire, though, didn't stop demanding for the carriage to speed up. At least until she noticed that night had fallen, and the beast didn't stop even once, nor did it stop to rest as any horse would do.

She stopped her demands altogether when she finally recognized the beast, and the very real fear of being trampled into oblivion by an angry Behemoth took root in her mind.

"Hmmm~ hmm~ hmmmm~"

Perched upon one of the Behemoth's antlers, Chika hummed some incoherent tune. Moving her tail feathers with the senseless rhythm, it made for quite the adorable sight for the verdant Arch Druid and his entourage. It made him feel elated, to be responsible for some level of happiness from someone who had suffered so much not too long ago…

"Why does he keep that devil?" Biggs, the bigger and rounder of the two soldiers, spoke in a barely lowered voice, "Feral Harpies are the worst."

The soldiers belonged to the Eris Faith, and thus, they made their dislike of his dear Chika clear as day.

"Shush Biggs!" Wedge, the rather squalid companion, rebuked with poorly maintained neutrality, "We are lucky he gave us a ride to the town, so we shouldn't be ungrateful. Besides, he may not even be a believer; it is not our place to try to convince him of their evil ways!"

Izuku was truly tempted to kick the two from the carriage's roof. Even if they were still weakened by the Revivification sickness debuff, the town's gate wasn't too far as to call the action evil.

"Indeed! It is not your place to judge such things or decry evil that doesn't exist!" The final passenger spoke, the blond Priestess with the nun habit.

She introduced herself as Cecily, a Priestess of the Axis cult… a Priestess of Aqua.

"Just look at such love and acceptance! The way he accepts everyone regardless of race or status!" Cecily began to speak with a certain zeal, "If he hadn't clarified it already, I would say he is the perfect follower of the all-loving Aqua!"

As the priestess continued her ramblings and show of devotion, Izuku repeatedly told himself that just because this girl worshiped Aqua, she wasn't evil. At least she only pestered him thrice about joining her cult before taking the hint and leaving him alone.

Now at the break of dawn, and getting ever closer to the town's gate, Izuku took the end of the journey as a blessing. The group that had forced their way into his carriage, interrupted his mission, and acted rather rudely against his friends would be finally left behind, and he'd be free to search for a place to hole up for the winter.

He pitied the Sage they were looking for though. He certainly wished his hunch was wrong, and that poor Keel wouldn't be the one to have to deal with them.

The sliding window behind the driver seat opened up, revealing the gaze of his second Crimson Demon companion.

"Izuku, Izuku!" Yunyun sing-sang with an odd level of excitement, "Wiz and I have finally put together the symptoms of the malediction!"

Izuku couldn't help but smile at the enthusiasm of the Crimson Demon. He hated to admit it, but he found her cheerful disposition charming. Then he remembered why this little advancement could happen in the first place.

As a worshiper of Eris, Claire saw Wiz as an omen of good fortune, and her offer to help as a helping hand from who she called a benevolent goddess. At least Wiz hated the idea as much as him.

"Good!" Izuku replied good-naturedly, "What did you find?"

Izuku held no hopes of being able to diagnose the illness as the knight had vehemently stated that her lady had protection against curses and poisons, after all. Still, if there was an illness that they had overlooked, and he was able to at least alleviate the symptoms…

"She has been having difficulty keeping food in her stomach for a couple of days, which probably led to her weakened state." Yunyun started her report in her usual happy tone, making it sound odd for such a time, "To make things worse, it seems she has been bleeding when she… goes to the restroom."

Izuku frowned. In the corner of his mind, something was telling him that he had heard those symptoms before. Then again, a lot of illnesses had those, including poisoning.

"Then there are these weird bluish-grayish patches of skin that…" Yunyun continued, and then Izuku's brain called for something he shouldn't overlook, a common symptom that could, and would get in the way of everything.

"What?!" Izuku was at the end of his rope, his mind had come up with an answer that he really didn't want to consider, but he needed to make sure, "STOP!"

As his uncharacteristic yell, the Behemoth stopped, almost making the guards and adventurers fall from the roof of the carriage. Cecily went face-first into Lynn's chest though.

"Why are we st…" Claire tried to demand an explanation as to why the vehicle had stopped, to demand to be taken to the town post-haste.

"Does she go into random fits of anger?" Izuku asked in a rather angry voice, surprising even Megumin, "Fits that she then forgets about?"

There was a heavy silence as those accompanying the blonde noble were shocked.

"That's right." Wiz suddenly spoke, only a bit of her face appearing on the small window.

"How…" Claire could barely find her voice, "How could you know the signs of this strange malediction?"

Izuku wanted to explode.

These people had mistaken poisoning for poison, and a sickness for a curse. There was a voice in the Druid's head, telling him to bring judgment unto all the idiots in this world. The other voice, his hero dreams, his good heart and the love instilled in him by his dear mother, reminded him that this world's knowledge was medieval at best.

Taking a deep breath, Izuku convinced himself that, for once, the people of this world had no way to know the differences between the afflictions.

"That is heavy metal poisoning." Izuku replied with a rather stiff voice.

Coming down from his seat at the reins, he moved to the door of the carriage, earning the questioning stares from the entire group.

"That's impossible." Claire retorted, although she didn't make any effort to stop the verdanette, who, in her eyes, seemed to know what he was talking about, "As I explained before, my Lady can't be poi…"

"Heavy metal poisoning is not the same as being afflicted by poison." Izuku replied, still rather stiff, as he opened the door and entered the carriage, "Rather than only binding to nerves and blood, heavy metals tear apart tissue, organs and take the place of important nutrients. They can't be digested."

Neither Claire or the soldiers risked questions or retorts. For all they understood, the verdanette was speaking magical language. Dust's party, however, decided that attempting to even understand the words would make their heads explode. Lynn may have understood that Izuku had explained something exceedingly important, but the details went way over her head.

"Wait!" Megumin entered the conversation, "If that's true, then half of the curses could be the result of heavy metals entering the bodies of dungeon delvers?!"

Rather than answering Megumin's question, or rather, asking what the heck she was talking about, Izuku requested Claire to uncover the noble lady. Claire was somewhat reticent, but a sudden idea had entered her mind now that the malediction had been seemingly identified.

"But how does something like heavy metal enter the body?" Yunyun asked, wondering how something so big could stay inside someone.

"Maybe an arrowhead that couldn't be removed? Eating a coin?" Wiz joined the pondering, still nested on the cargo net.

"My Lady has never been injured in such a way as to leave a shard of metal in her body, and she is not a crude commoner to attempt to eat something like a coin." Claire clarified as she helped the young blonde to sit in the couch, "But I can't discard the idea of some evil witch trying to teleport something like that into her body…"

Izuku was about to start asking specific questions, when he noticed something tucked in the bag beside the noble lady. Some sort of flask filled with tiny golden balls; so tiny they could be easily swallowed.

Medieval stupidity indeed…

"What is this?" Izuku asked as he reached for the flask, holding it up for everyone to see.

"That's a new medicine that is going to hit the market in the capital." Claire replied with ease, knowing very well that no one could know what it was, and thus asking was natural, "The alchemist assured us that it would help my Lady with her constant cravings, and would also help in keeping…"

Izuku had enough. He had enough of the stupidity, of this world full of morons, idiots and greedy bastards who wouldn't mind destroying lives for a gold coin. He reminded himself that these morons had medieval level of knowledge, and that ignorance was a thing.

"This is gold!" Izuku interrupted, his voice nearly reaching hysterical levels, "Gold is a heavy metal!"

Izuku really wanted to tear into the group. To unleash a verbal beatdown of biblical proportions, but then again, he had to remember that most likely these idiots honestly thought that ingesting gold was a safe practice. He was still too angry to try to tone down the verbal lashing, so he decided to do the right thing, and help the suffering girl.

"Forget it…" Izuku muttered to a still reeling audience, even his companions had flinched at his tone, "Now I know how to help her."

At such words, Claire showed a bright smile… which then disappeared as she noticed vines growing out from below the adventurer's sleeves. Then she saw them grow thorns, or rather, thin needles…

"What are you…" Claire began to ask for details. As much as she wanted her Lady to be saved, what the Arch Druid was doing looked more dangerous than not.

"Don't interrupt me." Izuku deadpanned, while still creating a knot with the vines, giving the impression of a heart.

Removing heavy metals from a human body required specialized treatment with advanced tools and reagents. While this world was ages behind in medical technology, his knowledge and his skillset gave him an option to deal with this particular problem.

Organic needles existed in the natural world, grown on plants and insects to inject toxins. Thanks to his plant modification capabilities, he could recreate them to serve as IV needles. Recreating an isotonic fluid dedicated to bind the gold and not affect the body of his patient was tricky, but that only required focus. The pump system was what forced his concentration though.

Recreating a heart with his vines had been a delicate process, but matching the pump's rhythm with the heart of the patient was going to require every bit of his concentration.

"What… are you doing?" Claire asked in obvious alarm; she had expected some sort of spell or ritual, not this weird plant-thing about to latch into her Lady. Then she saw the vines, with the thin thorns, latch into the arms of her charge, "Hey! What do you think y…"

"Get her out." Izuku commanded, knowing he couldn't risk any sort of distraction at the moment.

Liza obeyed instantly.

"Out." The Albino Gator-girl stated while taking a hold of the knight's arm.

"Unhand me you br…" Claire tried to call on her station and rank, just to be unceremoniously thrown out of the carriage.

"UGH!" The knight grunted as she hit the ground.

She would concede that the brute of a slave was strong and loyal, but this wasn't the way to handle nobility!

Trying to turn to peek inside the carriage to ascertain the safety of her Lady, the only thing she found was an albino Gator-Girl standing tall and steadfast. It was obvious that she wouldn't move out of the way even if it meant forfeiting her life, just as it was obvious that the brute didn't even acknowledge her status.

It was possible to see inside the carriage though…

"First, the sap goes in, and the blood comes out." Izuku described the process in a simplified way, mostly to keep proper focus and not rush things out.

"The heartbeat must remain in synchrony, neither faster or slower." The organ made of vines did beat like a heart, pushing the purifying sap into the veins of the blond noble girl, while taking her blood into the filters, where the heavy metal would be retained before returning the blood to her body.

Everyone looking was mesmerized by the process. If they didn't know better, Megumin and Yunyun would have screamed at seeing a new spell being created, but they knew about Synergies, Izuku's unique wisdom. Wiz, less used to witnessing the impossible on a regular basis, was trying to get as close as possible without interfering.

Outside the carriage, Claire could only bite her lip at the scene. Whatever the boy was doing, couldn't be interrupted without risking the life of her Lady.

"There we go!" Izuku cheered after a surprisingly small amount of time, "That's all the gold that was poisoning her."

In the hands of the Arch Druid, the heart made of vines was now a shriveled mess, looking almost like rotten fruit.

"The gold is…" Biggs, who looked down from the roof, began to ask, "Inside that… thing?"

"You can take it if you want it." Izuku replied while throwing the dead plant toward the roof, "It's probably a gram or less. Good luck extracting it."

"A what?" Claire was confused, forgetting the names of measuring could be forgiven due to the shock, "Anyway, is my Lady safe?"

"Almost." Izuku replied, and then turned to look at the roof again, "Miss Cecily, can you please cast healing magic on the Lady? I'm rather tired, and can't keep up with the job."

A job well done. One less person suffering, and no true risks taken. It may have resulted in missing the window to reach the next town, but at least his conscience wouldn't be torturing him. He didn't know who was the Sage they were looking for, but imagining that this individual couldn't ask a king's ransom for some obscure treatment was en…

"Could it be…" Claire interrupted Izuku's train of thought with a relaxed face full of surprise, "That you are the Sage? Midoriya, the Sage of Axel?!"

Even though they were still somewhat distant to the town's gate, the guards swore they heard someone curse the heavens and the goddesses with unnerving clarity. An hour later, they would attest that the Behemoth crossing said gate had nothing on the angry Arch Druid holding its reins. They didn't even dare to ask anything, or do anything other than bowing their heads as the carriage entered the town…

Later at the Guild Hall…

Entering the town's gate had been embarrassing enough, but then being tackled and hugged by not just one, but two girls upon entering the Guild made things worse, especially because said pair had screamed his name with tears in their eyes. He had been really happy to see them again, in fact, he felt as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. And still…

Izuku Midoriya, Arch Druid and someone considered by most as the Hero of Axel, was having an honest-to-God meltdown. For those outside his party, it was difficult to tell, as for them he only seemed tired and annoyed, but for those in his party?

"There, there…" Megumin was patting the back of the emerald Arch Druid, her eyes betraying how much she actually enjoyed being in no danger whatsoever right now, "There is nothing we can do right now. It wasn't your fault."

The words of the explosive Arch Wizard were true on so many levels it wasn't even funny. Izuku, being humble by nature, never called himself a Sage, nor accepted such a title. A Sage was someone with great wisdom and knowledge, someone who could understand greater mysteries and find solutions to delicate problems. A Sage was someone who people would go to in order to solve terrible disputes.

Not some Druid upstart who had only lived in this world for not even a full year!

"It's ok… it's ok…" Yunyun joined the back-patting, oblivious to the fact that she was not officially immune to reprisal, "There was no way for you to know. We certainly didn't know you had that title!"

"No one knew, actually." Darkness added, taking a sip from her beer while failing to hide her smile, "I was certain you'd be known as a Saint instead."

Izuku didn't know whether to groan or sigh in relief. The title of Saint was too much for him to bear.

"It actually makes sense, you know?" Aela joined too, openly smiling at being able to stay with her party leader for a bit longer. She had found a way out of her family problem, but Izuku didn't need more fuel to his rage, "Being first renowned as a Sage, before aiming for the title of Saint."

Izuku decided to groan. He loved how earnest his companions were, but they were getting too overzealous.

GGRRROOOOWWWWWLLLLL!

The rather intimidating sound had all eyes turning, all falling on a certain albino Gator-Girl. Liza merely tilted her head in confusion, although the way she was nursing her belly made it clear that she was about to enter a critical moment for her hibernation.

"Girls, can I ask you to…" Izuku began to make his request, but both Aela and Darkness smiled as they stood up.

They understood perfectly, and without any more directions, they left to order the biggest amount of food possible; they also decided to order extra, as Izuku was most likely in need of extra energy.

As the duo walked away, Izuku pondered his situation, his predicament and the series of misfortunes that had led to it.

Worse than not knowing about holding a title, was the inescapable fact that the rescued group had failed at communicating, well, pretty much everything.

He could somewhat understand that asking for the true identity of the rescued noble was perhaps a little too much, as it stood to reason that due to her delicate state, her guardian would be absolutely paranoid and see everyone as a potential enemy. He could understand the reticence at explaining the affliction, as misreporting anything could have been disastrous. But Claire had refused to even mention the name of the Sage they were looking for!

"I'm back!" Wiz called as she entered the hall, earning gasps and stares, "I tried to explain everything to our guests… but…"

Izuku hated the staring. While he understood that seeing an Avariel would always be awe-inspiring for the followers of Eris, he couldn't help but notice the greed and lust oozing from some of those eyes.

It was hard not to want to gouge them out…

"She insists on talking to you." Wiz finished, just as Claire stepped forward.

Izuku sighed, and with a rather forced polite gesture, he motioned for everyone to sit down at their usual table. He made an effort to sit at an angle that avoided looking at Luna as much as possible. The young woman was swooning at the prospect of him staying, or at least that was the impression she was giving.

"Master Midoriya…" Claire began, just to stop at seeing the face of rejection from the young Sage before her, "Or rather, Mister Izuku?"

While she personally believed that commoners were inferior creatures, she respected powerful adventurers, because those, with enough effort, could be knighted and then welcomed into the ranks of nobility. The Adventurer Kyouya was one such prospect, until the Guild marked him. Izuku Midoriya, the Sage and hero of Axel, was also a candidate, with a much more prominent record.

"I want to apologize for all the inconveniences, especially for hindering your campaign against the Devil King." Claire took a solemn tone, showing seriousness on the topic touched, "The delay on your quest is unacceptable by any standards, and I understand that no monetary reward will ever compensate for sacrificing your time, but alas, the service you provided demands…"

Solemn as she sounded, and serious as she was, the knight didn't feel any guilt. Her charge was more important to her than the potential lives lost on the frontlines. Keeping her charge's mission and identity a secret was her priority. Her lady had thoroughly scolded her though, and demanded the young Arch Druid be fully compensated and rewarded.

"Before any of that." Izuku interrupted, surprising the knight, "How is the young lady?"

Claire's semblance softened, pleasantly surprised by the good manners of the young Sage. For her, it all but cemented the idea of this boy being of noble blood. It explained both his brilliance and the fact that he had a family name.

"She is still weak, but is awake and lucid." Claire answered, happy to report that her lady was already recovering. Then she steeled her features, returning to her duties, "This is your reward, for saving my lady, and for sparing some of your invaluable time."

She calmly placed a signet and a neatly folded letter on the table. The way she did so made it seem as if those items were more valuable than her very life.

"With these, you will not only be able to recover the three days lost of your journey, but will find it much easier to…" Claire seemed way too proud to explain the significance of the items, however, the Arch Druid was not in the mood.

"I don't care." Izuku interrupted, making her reel back as if struck, "The window for departure has already closed. Thanks to you, I'll be stuck here the entire winter. Those trinkets will not help me in the slightest."

As Izuku retorted, Darkness and Aela arrived with large plates filled with food, mostly fried frog and other types of meat. With a nod toward the albino gator-girl, Liza quickly began to gorge on the food.

"What?" Claire was in shock, both for the audacity of rejecting such invaluable treasures, and for the declaration, "Why?!"

It didn't make sense to her. Three days had been lost, but if he was that worried about winter, he just needed to push his Behemoth a little bit harder to reach the next town before the first snow began to fall. Even at the normal pace shown, he would easily arrive before the snow could even start to pile up.

Her confusion was so great that she managed to ignore the demi-human eating like a starving pig. She even managed to not show disgust at the Harpy taking quick stripes of meat from the albino girl's plate.

"I travel with a Harpy and a Gator-Girl. One of them is about to enter hibernation, the other is irrationally hated by a large number of religious nutjobs." Izuku opened his explanation in a rather aggressive way, even the Crimson Demons by his side were taken aback, "Let's assume I rush towards the next town, and that I arrive the day before the cold winds send Liza into deep sleep. I would have to find an inn ready and willing to let me rent a room for the entire winter. A place able to guarantee that no one would be able to disturb my party."

"That shouldn't…" Claire tried to retort, but got immediately cut off.

"Who is going to guarantee that the inn I choose in a hurry won't allow a bunch of zealots into our room so they can get a hold of Chika?" Izuku asked, now openly glaring at Claire, who never tried to hide her religious standing as part of the Eris faith, "Who will take responsibility if either of my girls is harmed during such a critical time?"

Claire went silent for a minute.

She needed to think of a way for the Sage to take the gifts; she was sure once he looked at them closely, he would understand their importance, both as national treasures and as tools for his crusade. With the signet in hand and the letter at the ready, even the most zealous of the priests would have to bend the knee and accommodate his needs. He would be able to conscript anyone he wanted too, regardless of social standing.

Unfortunately, direct communication was impossible without revealing the secret. She then decided to bring up some logical points.

"So, what you are telling me is that the slaves are holding you back?" Claire asked as neutrally as she could, "Can't you leave them behind and continue with your crusade? I'm not saying you should abandon them, but leaving them with someone you trust, or selling them to someone worthy…"

Claire couldn't continue. Before her three forces of nature were now standing, ready to unleash a natural disaster that may as well erase the entire town rather than just kill her. Now, of all times, she began to piece together the character of the Sage. A demi-lover.

Personally, she had nothing against demi-lovers; her lady was one after all. However, she couldn't understand them. What was there to love about inferior races better suited to serve than to live on their own?

"Enough." Darkness was the first to act, placing a rather heavy hand on Claire's armored shoulder, "You have trampled on the patience of my party leader for far too long. You'll leave now, or I'll remove you. Your choice."

Under normal circumstances, Claire would have scoffed at the demand, calling on her heritage and lineage. But as arrogant as she may have been, she was aware of her place in the world, and that was beneath Lady Dustiness Ford, the daughter of the Duke. In truth, only her Lady had the authority to talk this woman down. In truth, not being recognized by the daughter of the Duke was not surprising in the slightest…

BAM!

The doors of the Guild Hall slammed open, interrupting any potential show of violence.

"THE DESTROYER! THE DESTROYER HAS BEEN SIGHTED! IT'S COMING HERE!"

One of the town's guards entered, screaming at the top of his lungs. For a total of three seconds, the entire hall fell into absolute deafening silence. During that time, Izuku remembered the name uttered. He had seen the requests almost every time he and his party had searched for a quest to take, however, due to the difficulty of the task, and the reported distance, he never bothered with it.

"What is t…" Izuku's question died the instant the three seconds passed, as hysterical screaming erupted all around him. In fact, it erupted all around the town.

"MY LADY!" Claire screamed as she darted toward the door, "WE NEED TO EVACUATE!"

As the entire population descended into hysterical panic, Izuku noticed that some people were still rather calm and collected.

Munch! Munch! Crunch! Munch!

Or didn't give a single fuck, like Liza.

"Oh, how terrible." Aela muttered in a deadpan tone, "Whatever are we going to do?"

It seemed the Ranger wasn't all too worried about the situation, or didn't care if the town was destroyed. Darkness taking yet another sip from her beer made it seem like the situation wasn't as dire as it seemed at first glance.

"So…" Izuku tried again as the screaming inside the hall had died down, "What is the Destroyer?"

"The Destroyer!" Yunyun replied in surprise, "The Destroyer is the Destroyer! You know, the Destroyer!"

"How can you not know about the Destroyer?" Wiz asked, surprised too, as she had come to believe Izuku was a living source of knowledge, "Everyone knows about the Destroyer!"

Izuku failed to understand.

"Master comes from a distant land." Chika suddenly intervened, her raspy whispers a welcome aid for the Arch-Druid, "His land is so far that the Destroyer can't reach it."

While everyone in his party had heard that part of his origins, they couldn't believe such a safe land existed. Megumin was the first to recover, and the next to remember why their beloved leader held no knowledge of this ancient evil.

"The Mobile Fortress Destroyer." Megumin started, earning Izuku's full attention, "It is an ancient super-weapon created by a long-lost civilization. It was given the power to erase pretty much everything in its path; from tiny villages to large cities, from defenseless farmers to entire armies. For a couple thousand years it has been running rampant, destroying kingdoms, moving frontiers, erasing cultures. The first to fall was the empire that created it, and not even the Devil King has been able to stop it."

The more Izuku listened to the explanation, the more he regretted never taking a look at the quest. If he had taken the time to at least scout this foe, he would have had more than enough time to develop a strategy, either for an efficient evacuation, or for a way to alter its trajectory to save towns. Now he was left with a catastrophe that he had no time to plan for, and only poor choices that would lead to someone suffering…

"It's armed with dozens of rapid-fire magi-cannons. Its body is made entirely of an adamantium-mithril alloy, which makes it extremely resistant to both physical and magical attacks." Yunyun continued, supplying more bad news for the stressed Arch Druid, "Even the grass won't grow again due to the toxic waste it spills as it moves!"

Something shifted inside Izuku, something akin to a spark. The mere thought of something as destructive as the Destroyer being allowed to rampage for millennia was sickening; so much indeed that he felt anger swelling up. It was as if the very planet was suffering, and it only made Izuku feel worse.

How could this abomination be allowed to exist?

Didn't Aqua send several other people to be heroes?

"Worse still is the super magic barrier surrounding the Destroyer." Wiz joined now, adding even more things to the list of worries, "That dome is practically indestructible!"

Izuku's brain came to a crashing halt. Did he just hear that the barrier was a dome?

"Wait a second!"

Izuku's scream earned everyone's attention. Not only from those in his party, but from the Guild's staff members, who were still in the process of saving as much paperwork as possible before fleeing for the hills.

"Are you telling me that the barrier is a dome?" Izuku asked, getting stares, which forced him to elaborate, "As in… it only covers the Destroyer above ground, and not below? Like a sphere would do?"

Three arch wizards looked at the arch druid with nothing but honest confusion in their eyes. Izuku could only facepalm as said geniuses blinked in silent wonder.

"Why would a barrier ever need to go underground?"

"It is very difficult for magicules to travel underground, you know?"

"If barriers worked underground, the focal point wouldn't be able to move…"

Izuku began to tremble, lightly at first, but then the shakes started to become apparent. His bottled fury, combined with the cries for help of the very world, and fueled by the constant slapping in the face that was the stupidity of this world's inhabitants had reached critical mass. Something needed to become the receptacle of his anger, and he had just been given the target and the opportunity.

"I'm sorry." Izuku stated with a wavering smile while standing up, "I need to go out there and punch something, really hard."

The Arch Druid didn't wait for a reply, or anything really, he just walked out at a rather fast pace, fists balled and brows furrowed. He didn't even hear the girls calling for him to wait and explain, he even missed Liza abandoning her food in order to follow him.

"Izuku!" Megumin's scream finally registered for the enraged Arch Druid, although he didn't stop, "I know you want to put a stop to the Destroyer. But, do you have a plan?"

The petite Crimson Demon knew from the get-go that abandoning the town wasn't an option, if not because her boyfriend was a true noble hero, it would be because he wouldn't risk Liza's life by traveling during winter. And as terrifying as it was to stand in the path of the Destroyer, she was ready to stand by his side to the very end.

"Of course I have a plan!" Izuku retorted in uncharacteristic fury, "I'm going to punch it!"

"That is not a plan!" Yunyun retorted, turning into the voice of reason within the group, "You can't just walk right up to it without being vaporized by all the magi-cannons! And there is the barrier too!"

"Izuku, we know you want to save everyone, but charging head-on is not the answer!" Wiz joined, not wanting to see her savior die so soon, "We should have hours before the Destroyer gets near, we can still make a better plan!"

Izuku didn't slow down in the slightest, and the gates of the town were now in sight. What the girls didn't know, was that the young Druid was aware of the suffering. When the machine monster was far away, there was nothing to hear, but now that it was getting closer, Izuku could feel the cries for help. Forests were being razed, rivers and lakes left tainted, and plains rendered barren, not to mention all the people perishing as the Destroyer simply trampled over everything and everyone.

"Chika thinks Master needs to stop!" Chika said as she jumped in front of her beloved master, extending her large wings to provide a living barricade. He was her hero, and the number one in her heart, and as such, she didn't want to risk his life against this ancestral foe, "Master is not thin-ugh!"

Rather than stopping, Izuku just scooped Chika up in a hug, carrying her as he continued his march towards the gates. While she knew she should continue her efforts to stop the enraged Druid, Chika was too busy enjoying the hug to say anything.

Thanks to the black harpy's warmth, Izuku managed to calm down just enough to finally start thinking on a plan more complex than just punching the enemy like All Might would do.

He, Izuku Midoriya, was not All Might. He would never be like All Might. He'd never be able to swoop in and brute force his way to victory. He'd never be capable of punching adversity away while smiling at the people with enough confidence to defeat fear itself.

He'd never be the kind of hero he used to idolize. He needed to be his own hero.

"Do you even know how to get past the magical barrier?" Megumin's voice finally reached the emerald Druid, making him stop.

Turning around to look at his party members, he finally noticed the worry in their eyes, and the fear of losing him. It made him feel a knot in his stomach to notice that the same look of worry and love in Megumin's eyes was also present in Yunyun's and Wiz's. It was also worrying to notice how Liza seemed to not doubt for a second that he would succeed.

"Yes, I know how to bypass the barrier." Izuku replied as he placed Chika down; noticing the looks of confusion, he decided to further explain, "You gave me the answer, the barrier doesn't go underground. I can attack it from below."

The girls frowned at the obviously flawed tactic.

"The Destroyer moves very fast." Yunyun spoke for everyone, "I get that you can imitate World of Thorns, but by the time you can use it, the fortress will have moved from the spot."

"Then I'll stop it." Izuku replied like it was the most logical thing in the world.

"And how, exactly, are you going to stop it?" Megumin wanted to know every angle. She really didn't want Izuku to get hurt, or killed.

"There are multiple ways a Druid can stop something big from moving." Another voice joined in, Keel having approached them as they were discussing things, and he seemed keen on helping out, "For starters, there are massive beasts that can shrug off magical attacks with ease, and then there is the fact that Druids have spells that can modify the geography if given enough time and mana."

Megumin and Yunyun were awed at the information. Of course they knew about such spells, but since almost no Crimson Demon would use it by virtue of not being part of the advanced magic branch, they forgot their applications on a large scale.

"But what animal could prove a challenge for the Destroyer?" Wiz asked now, unable to think on a beast powerful, or even big enough, for the task ahead, "The largest beast is the Berserker Gorilla standing at five meters tall…"

"Ha! You disappoint me child!" Keel was quick to answer, "The Death Worm that rules over the mana-eating desert stands over thirty meters long, and is near damn immune to magic! Not to mention it has the burrowing prowess required for the assault."

"That monstrosity is a beast?!" Yunyun was horrified.

"Actually, all insectoids are considered beasts." Megumin added, not failing to jump at the chance to lord her knowledge over anyone, even Yunyun… especially over Yunyun.

"Not a bad option, but…" Izuku interjected, grateful for the sudden injection of common sense. Said injection gave him the focus required to finally find his answer, "I want to test something. Something that bothers me about the skill Wild Shape."

Izuku turned to look outside the gates, the forest line close enough for Izuku to now hear the voice of nature calling to him for aid. Then he turned to look at his hands, hands too weak to attempt to act like All Might, and yet, they had to be strong enough to save those in need.

"Wild Shape allows us, Druids, to transform into animals of any size. This depends on our power, our mana reserves, our focus, and our understanding of the creature. As such, Druids can't transform into magical beasts, chimeras, dragons or plants." Izuku explained to an audience that didn't understand why such widely available information was important right now, "But why?"

At Izuku's question, all present couldn't help but to blink as their minds went blank. As far as common knowledge dictated, Izuku had just explained the answer to the question.

"Because they aren't beasts?" Yunyun shyly replied, just to feel disappointed when Izuku shook his head.

"A Druid can't turn into a bird until they understand how birds work. But understanding how magical creatures work, even how plants work, is not part of the available knowledge of this world." Izuku answered the obvious, then he smiled in a rather terrifying way, "But… what if that knowledge existed? If I understand how the biology of such creatures works, would I be able to transform into one of them?"

His party members suddenly had dumbfounded expressions, as if their minds had been suddenly blown away. Megumin was now muttering something about such a thing making sense, while Liza looked as if she had been lost somewhere during the explanation.

"You reincarnated a bunch of ancient undead, and even brought back a woman that had been waiting at the gates of heaven for centuries." Keel suddenly reminded everyone, "I wouldn't be too surprised if you said you understand how the gods work and then turned into one. So go ahead and blow everyone's minds yet again my friend!"

Izuku smiled at the odd show of encouragement, and then began to focus.

He needed something big, strong, and capable of great magical feats. The list of creatures that could fit the bill wasn't very long, but when he took into consideration all the required skills for the operation, and his own aesthetic, only one creature fit the bill.

For everyone else looking, Izuku had first turned green, and his hair had become leaves. Then his clothes merged into his body, revealing a genderless figure made of wood. It hadn't been hard for the Arch Druid, imagining how a humanoid body made of plant tissue would work. All organs were there, just made with different cells, muscles replaced with cellulose cords braided for maximum strength output, skin reinforced with ironbark, and bones replaced with hardened ebon wood.

Before anyone could start speaking the word 'Dryad', Izuku began to walk towards the forest. The moment he stepped outside the town, he began to grow. Little by little, step by step, he was getting taller, and his features were getting wilder and wilder; the hair was starting to become thorny vines, the skin turned rougher and rougher, growing thorns and tiny branches, and as he got closer to the forest line, he started to look less human, and more like…

"A treant?!"

They had been so focused on slowing Izuku down, that no one noticed that Keel wasn't the only one to join them at the gates. At first it was only staff members of the Guild, then Dust and his party, and now half the town had joined the group to witness Izuku do something impossible yet again. They all had the hopes that somehow, the Arch Druid would be able to change the path of the ancestral super-weapon.

'This may not be enough…' Izuku thought as he continued to move forward, fully intending on stopping the monstrosity before it could start destroying the forest surrounding Axel, 'I need more… more power… more strength… more mass!'

Izuku was already halfway through the forest, already the size of a large tree, well over ten meters tall. The change in size was already making him feel disoriented, the weight of his new arms and legs trying to slow him down in order to adapt to his new biology.

But there on the horizon, the sight of a mechanized spider-ant-thing was starting to take shape. It was big, bigger than what he'd imagined. Mounted on the back of the machine appeared to be an actual castle, indicating that calling it a mobile fortress was no joke. And it was running rampant, trampling over everything standing in its way. It shouldn't have been possible, but the damn thing seemed to seek the path that would lead it to more destruction.

As his mind went into overdrive, as the world slowed down around him while making calculations, Izuku was answered.

You are not alone!

Roots began to sprout from the ground, meeting his every stomping step. Rather than trapping him, or slowing him down, they fused with his body, increasing his mass.

Take my strength!

The few trees he could have collided with outstretched their branches, catching his own arms and torso. These trees came out of the ground, not as if they'd uprooted by force, but like they had stepped out themselves, twisting and fusing with the new body of the Arch Druid.

Let me help!

The few remaining flowers and even the grass began to fuse with the ever-changing and growing body, increasing not only the mass, but the size too. Their mana fused with the magical core that was the soul of the emerald Druid.

Let US help!

A group of Dryads, the very guardians of the forest, darted into the chest of the now massive tree-like warrior. Izuku, without knowing or noticing, had surpassed all living organisms. Now, standing slightly above sixty meters tall, the massive tree-like humanoid did not resemble a treant, or even an ent. While humanoid in shape, the arms and legs were longer than what would look correct, the torso was a single piece, giving nearly no flexibility, the head had a face, but it looked inhuman and yet very humanly angry; countless branches sporting leaves of all shapes and colors were poking out of the head, giving the impression of poorly kept hair. The very size should have made it impossible for the creature to even move…

But it was moving faster.

LET US JOIN!

Izuku finally felt the voice, it wasn't just the forest giving him its strength, it was the very world.

"RRROOOOAAAARRRRR!"

The massive creature, the Titan, roared so loud that back in the town everyone felt their very bones shaking. Eyes glowing in a blinding emerald light looked at the enemy now fully visible, and just as it was about to get into range, a massive amount of Mana Eaters bloomed through the entire body, especially covering the arms.

What should have taken several hours went by in mere minutes. Rather than allowing the Destroyer to trample the forest and reach the town to make a last stand, Izuku was meeting it in the plains beyond the forest line.

"SSCCREEEECCHHHH!"

The mobile fortress Destroyer let out its own war cry, seemingly accepting the challenge of the one defending all life.

BBBBOOOOOMMM!

The two colossal monsters clashed at last, the shockwave felt even all the way back in town. Rather than metal meeting wood, the barrier flashed continuously as Izuku pushed against it, still separating his hands from the face of the metal monster he wanted to rip off so badly.

Izuku failed to stop the monster though, and now was being pushed back. However, he had succeeded where everyone else had failed. The Destroyer slowed down by at least one quarter of its original speed.

"You will stop!" Izuku shouted as he raised one foot, barely managing to keep his balance and the required force to slow down the monster, "NOW!"

STOMP!

Izuku stomped against the ground hard and fast, and at the same moment, vines the size of enormous trees sprouted from below the Destroyer, lashing and thrashing while ensnaring the multiple legs of the enemy of nature.

"SCREEEECCHH!"

The Destroyer made sounds akin to anger, and perhaps pain. Its speed was lowered even further.

The anger of the monstrosity was made even clearer as all the magi-cannons aimed at Izuku. A veritable volley of what the Druid would easily call laser beams rained upon his transformed body.

It hurt, a lot.

It felt like red hot steel was trying to puncture his skin, but at the same time, he could tell that the Mana Eaters were doing their job. The strength of the beams was but a small fraction of the actual output, a kind of power Izuku really didn't want to receive. The flowers died almost instantly upon impact, but new ones bloomed just as fast.

It happened fast, too fast, and yet, just as fast they had entered the forest line. Izuku had had enough.

"YOU SHALL…" Izuku intoned as he raised his other foot, "NOT PASS!"

As he stomped, colossal spikes came out from below the Destroyer, this time suspending it in the air. Some of the spikes even managing to pierce the thick armor of the rampant superweapon.

The mechanical monster screeched and tried to thrash, but the massive vines had all but immobilized its legs. The magi-cannons, usually fast to turn and shoot, were now struggling against constantly growing plants blocking their gears and aiming systems.

"Just die already!" Izuku screamed, getting desperate.

Everything hurt. Every place that had been shot felt like he had been stabbed. His hands felt as if they were holding fire. He wanted to finish this quickly, but the barrier didn't show signs of breaking, so he had to keep pushing power into the spikes and vines, hoping to overrun the insides of the monster.

CLANK!

Some of the legs came off, taking with them the vines that had them entangled.

CLANK! CLANK! CLANK!

Those very same legs were then replaced by brand new ones, which proceeded to attack the spikes holding it in the air.

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!"

This was the worst.

More vines were commanded to seize the newly grown legs, but then the other legs came off, and were quickly replaced by new ones. Izuku soon found himself focusing more on creating new vines rather than empowering the spikes to break the Destroyer.

This wasn't a standstill; it was an attrition battle. Izuku didn't know what kind of power source the Destroyer had, but it seemed unlimited, unlike his own mana reserves, and the reserves of the forest. He needed a solution, fast, or everything would be for nothing.

"Izuku!"

"Master!"

Megumin's and Chika's voices sounded by his side. Without noticing, Chika had carried Megumin and placed her on his now colossal shoulder. The horrible screeching of the harpy felt like the caress of an angel, and the voice of her girlfriend like the voice of a goddess… a true one.

"Master is not alone!" Chika yelled while flying in front of Izuku's face, looking angry for being left behind in this important mission, "Master needs to remember that everyone will back him up!"

"You have fought with bravery beyond that of a million heroes! Now is my turn to aid you!" Megumin shouted, for once managing to sound as epic as she always intended, while dropping the chuuni act completely, "Now watch how I can also modify a spell in the fly! Hold fast and have faith in the power you unleashed in me!"

Words spoken; the petite Arch Wizard began to cast Big Bang.

Under any other circumstance, Izuku would have panicked. They weren't just within blast range; they were going to be right at the epicenter of the singularity!

However, he chose to believe. Believe that his girlfriend would be able to pull off a miracle, or that at the very least Chika would be fast enough to carry her away in time.

Megumin, however, had managed to imitate Izuku to an extent. Rather than modify the spell, she just modified the containment field rather than shooting the ball. As careful as it was possible, she opened a tiny slit in the field, specifically on the side facing the Destroyer. Her true aim was to make a thin but powerful beam that would pierce the barrier, and nail the monster in the head, hopefully killing it, or at least stunning it enough for Izuku to finish the deed.

"ERASER BLAST!" Megumin shouted the new variation of her spell. She fully expected it to be a repeat of her first Big Bang, a disappointing looking thing ending in a bombastic show. Instead…

VVVRRRRROOOOOOOOMMMMM!

A column of blinding light was what shot from her hand. A massive stream of accelerated particles flowed savagely forward with a potency never seen before. It had been too much for Megumin though, the backlash too strong for her frail body to handle, her arm too weak to tolerate such pressure. Said arm broke barely a second after casting the new spell and she fell backwards; the beam had been directed straight for just that instant, immediately moving upwards into the sky and away from the Destroyer.

But it had been enough.

The perfect barrier protecting the monstrosity had broken like delicate crystal trying to stop a freight train. The beam even managed to nail its head while moving upwards, splitting it, and leaving a gaping hole through half the castle on its back.

Izuku managed to grow soft vines and branches to catch and protect his girlfriend, just as he reared back his massive arm. This situation had been going for far too long, and now his beloved Megumin had been hurt. Fury renewed, he prepared himself to unleash every bit of anger, every bit of delayed justice.

"RRROOOOAAAAAAAARRRR!"

Izuku launched his fist forward, the mass of such, and the speed it gained, generating a sonic boom as it moved.

CRASH!

The impact, brutal as it was, was not the end. Vines burrowed inside the Destroyer, seeking the source of power within the monstrosity, to leave no chance whatsoever of it regenerating. Guided by Mana Eaters blooming at the tips, the vines quickly reached the pulsating orb giving life to the fortress.

It was unnecessary, but the plant appendages yanked out the orb with gratuitous violence, annihilating the entire chamber while doing so. They also thrashed about as they pulled out, regenerating as they were burnt by the orb, even as the metal around them began to melt due to the intense heat of the now unstable power source.

Once it was out, Izuku spared just one second to look at what seemed to be a mini-sun sitting in his hand. It wasn't bigger than an adult's head, and yet…

"You have caused too much suffering, too many deaths." Izuku intoned, taking notice of how the orb was actually concentrated mana, "Return to the earth! Fuel new life to replace what you took!"

With that said, Izuku, in his colossal form, ate the orb. Using his current connection with nature, he decompressed the orb, and then channeled that energy through his feet-roots into the ground. The earth happily received the mana, dispersing it through the land in a massive radius, but the action had come at a price.

While it lasted just one minute, the process had been excruciatingly painful to the Arch Druid.

His insides were set ablaze. His mind assaulted by endless jolts of pain. It was like his body was breaking apart. And yet, he endured. And when it was over, the colossal tree-Titan knelt down, and Izuku embraced unconsciousness.


Magnus: While this story is not over yet, I'll be leaving a poll for you to vote for the next possible story. Summaries for these stories will be on my profile page!