The rise of the Hypocritical Hero and the Shield
A crossover between The Raising of the Shield Hero and Fate/Stay Night
Chapter 10: Escape from Melromarc/Royal Coronation
I sighed, as now I had one of the four heroes, knocked unconscious and tied up in the cart.
This idiot, he thought he was a hero.
He was the furthest thing from a true hero, not even in the category of an anti-hero.
He would be a villain, not because he was evil, but because his actions caused negative consequences.
I could not fully blame the kid, after all the way he came to be here was ripped right out of a light novel.
I think I remember one where a kid died saving a girl, only to learn in the afterlife that she would've been perfectly fine even had he not done anything. The unpleasant goddess explained that he had had a heart attack from the shock of what he thought he saw, to the humor of the medical staff at the hospital.
Can't quite remember the name.
Anywho, I am rambling in a thinly veiled attempt to ignore the troublesome thing in front of me.
I had not only defeated one of the saint heroes (though saint and hero most of them were not, and honestly skillswise they all were far from heroes, save Naofumi-san, and that was due to me training him and the girls,) but they had no sense of preservation, then again most heroes were not really the sharpest of tools.
Itsuki was suffering from a backlash from me suddenly severing his connection to the curse of the Pride series.
By what I managed to gather, his ego had fragmented, making him as obedient as can be due to having no will. Not only that, but he also had a 30% global status drop due to the curse.
The fragmentation of the ego would occur either when he defeats his opponent or is rendered unable to continue the fight. However if he continued to use the cursed series, the fragmentation would, at some point, become permanent.
My attack severed the curse, but it did not prevent it from wreaking havoc on the poor idiot as it was not external, it was tied to his soul by his weapon.
I untied him as Rishia was taken back and I told Itsuki to perform a dance and then to sit down… she was taken aback by his robotic actions.
"It seems the curse is going through… he should be fine in a week or two… just in time for the next wave," I said.
Rishia was surprised, "How did you know when the next wave will be?"
"I didn't tell you? I am Naofumi-san's… I mean the shield hero's friend and the one who has been training him" I said with a smile.
After a few hours of travel we arrived to a nearby town, I left Itsuki near a church of the four saints, to make sure the church of the three heroes would not try and meddle with him while he is incapacitated and further twist him into a puppet, with a note explaining that he had been struck by a curse and he was in need of cleansing, this should shorten his recovery by at least half, while giving me time to put distance between us.
I learned something important about the curse series.
Each one was about each of the deadly sins, by that we can take that there will be seven, I've seen the shield of wrath, and the bow of pride, I was wondering if each weapon could embody one sin, or if they could activate any combination of the seven sins simultaneously.. If that was the case I would have to either take the hero down or break his connection to the holy weapon.
I had no idea what would happen if I did the former, but the latter would probably make the weapon try to latch onto me, and that would be rather problematic.
I also received a report from Zelretch, it seems that the reason he has been unable to whisk me back was two fold.
One was due to the power of a certain Divine being blocking him, said being had power akin to one of the true magic he himself had. The second was one chilled me to my core.
That was scary, but if I deployed Avalon…. No… I would have to do so in all locations of the time axis… I would have to live inside it else I would be destroyed.
"Damn… this is why I am glad the age of gods died back in my world" I muttered.
Rishia asked me what I meant by that.
I explained to her about my world, how the magic system differs to this world's and about the age of gods.
She grew interested, it seems this girl was quite the bookworm.
As I told her the stories of the myths in my world and their relationship to the magical system she was taken back, the magic in my world had many separate branches, not just elemental and the like.. and then learning about origins and even mystic eyes made her wonder about parallels in this world.
Then I told her about the human side of the world. About the inventions made and how it helped people live more comfortable lives and be more productive.
Vehicles that requires no dragon or filolial? Devices that let a large group of people fly? It felt like fantasy to her.
They went back to Melromarc, as he was mere days away from the next wave. I wished to see Naofumi and the rest of the party's growth since I left.
As I approached the city I was met with many citizens fleeing.
I asked what was going on, Rishia was also taken aback by what was going on.
It seems that the shield Hero and Motoyasu were going at it again…
The bitch princess had sent an attack against her younger sister, who was actually the rightful heir apparent.
Knowing her she tried to do so while making it look like an accident.
I saw Naofumi's shield and saw the history that they shared.
She was in a clearing with filolials when they had found her, not only that but when Motoyasu and Naofumi had been ordered to fight, Melty, the youngest princess had vetoed it and said it was an affront to humanity to let this run its course, as the waves took priority over petty squabbles.
My impression of the young lady increased, unlike her sister she actually had brains.
It also seems as if Naofumi had told the king, in no uncertain terms, to go fuck the right off.
Naofumi-san's stats had increased quite a bit, but found himself unable to class up himself or anyone associated with him, making his growth go even slower as his stats would not increase as much until he gets a class up, not only that but border patrols were expressly ordered to keep him from leaving the kingdom and were told to use extreme force to make him retreat in an attempt to prevent him from doing so in another country.
With the church of the three heroes plotting behind the scenes, this became a clusterfuck.
Naofumi, however, had leveled up beyond the other heroes not in term of levels, but in skill and stats and was now with such a high defence stats that their attacks would just be shrugged off, not only that but his overall stats were many times higher than the other heroes, save his attack of course. Still his attack was now capable of doing considerable damage without relying on crits.
He had also mastered many of the shields, save for Svalin as that shield was special, it would increase its properties depending on how worthy it's wielder was.
It had, so far, doubled all its stats and bonuses and would increase its bonuses at least 7 more times as it had made one out of the 8 jewels shine, which showed its approval.
It was the best shield so far, and allowed to calm the raging inferno that was Naofumi's mind due to exposure to the curse of the Shield of Wrath. It also helped him cool his mind when in use of the Shield of Wrath
So far, Svalin had managed to mitigate the effects of the cursed series, allowing him to be able to use it and mitigate as much as possible the ignition of his wrath and channel it to his foes by forcing him to be cold headed.
They had to flee, as the king got really tired of them and was raging due to the fact this little upstart dared to speak to him that way. Naofumi had defeated a wave when the others couldn't and said to the king that he should be on his hands and knees begging for Naofumi's help. This did not go well. The king wanted to kill him, regardless of the negative outcome. Combined with his daughter fanning the flames of discord, the soldiers were all ready to attack and kill him.
"Are you sure you want to do that? After all, I was the one who beat the leader on my own when none of you could" he said as he looked down at the soldiers, at Trash AND at Bitch. The two biting their lips in anger and rage.
And Malty also took this opportunity to try and get rid of Melty. By causing a scene and making her want to leave with him, she would then convince Motoyasu that the Shield Hero had kidnapped her sister and they had to rescue her, and use this opportunity to kill her and make it look accidental, shift the blame on the Shield, and secure her rightful position as the next Queen.
Once Motoyasu heard her lies, he decided to also free the Lovely angel girl as well and had commissioned alchemists to make a strong magical chain, to prevent Filo from changing to her bird form and keep her this way as to 'save her from Naofumi's tyranny'. Things looked rather grim, even if they were stronger than them, they held numerical superiority, also Raphtalia and Melty did not have his defensive stats, they could be harmed.
"Damn… this is so stupid, this idiot can't even see what's in front of him… Spear hero… ore like 'an idiot wrapped around the bitch's finger.' not only that but he wants to take Filo?! Screw that!" I thought as I charged at him.
His party stood ready smirking condescending at me and tried to pelt me with their strongest fire attacks of the Drifa level, however knowing that they used fire I changed my shield into Svalin.
A new skill allowed me to use my shield to bash my opponent, and with the attack bonus this shield had I made all those craven bitches fly sky high.
I hoped that it also gave them a concussion as they landed hard on the ground.
I then felt something coming fast by my peripheral vision.
I rapidly twisted my body and blockedMotoyasu's sneak attack with a loud clang.
He glared at me, and shouted some nonsense about me obtaining a brainwashing shield and having all my party members under its influence, no doubt another lie spoon-fed to him by the bitch as she smiled cruelly at me, mocking me.
Don't worry, you will get yours soon enough.
His attacks became much faster than before, it seems that he was powered by ero power, much troublesome as those are always hard to deal with.
However, he was easy to block and deflect his attacks. Where he had not grown a single inch in battle skills or techniques since our duel, I had, and by miles.
Just cause I could not hurt you directly did not mean I couldn't use the environment against you.
Also I noted the Shield now showed a passive debuff effect against anyone who attacks me and I block or deflect their attack.
Chill of the Nordic
Passive Effect: Causes ice damage (small) and reduction of speed by 25% (scales up with approval of shield) when an attack is blocked, parried or deflected (melee only)
Motoyasu's attack had slowed down and his joints started to Chill, his breath became foggy feeling the accumulated effects of the Shield.
I can win this!
...I should've kept my mind shut. I raised a flag there.
It was then when the knights came as reinforcements as Malty finally cornered her sister in an effort to kill her.
I heard a single phrase as I inwardly pled for someone, anyone to help this girl.
I may hate this world… but…
Shirou taught me that not everyone is evil, that some may try to screw me over… but that is no reason to lose faith in all of humanity, Melty had become attached to Filo and she as well… they became friends, Filo was a good judge of character and I trusted her.
It was a single phrase that held much power. My shield resonated to those words.
"I am the bone of my sword"
A hail of spears and swords rained down caging the soldiers in then. A small prismatic dagger hit the chain that kept Filo in her human form and shattered it into particles.
I knew that phrase.
Coming from the town's entrance he came back, his face hidden behind the hood but with a pair of swords I recognised immediately. I could tell those blades where of mythical quality, even if my shield did not tell me, the sheer conceptual weight behind them easily felt by me.
He rushed over and as he passed by me and whispered, "I recommend you all retreat, I will provide cover, outside you will find a cart with a young girl with green hair, join her at the South Gate and go. after you get about forty minutes away I will catch up with you in no more than three hours." Shirou said to me in a whisper.
With both swords he stood against Motoyasu and the bitch.
Motoyasu glared at me before changing targets. He had no idea who he was. His body still feeling stiff from the effects of my Shield, but was gradually recovering as the debuff started to run out.
I smirked as I imagined the one sided beatdown that will happen as I gathered my party and retreated.
I readied my two swords, Kanshou and Bakuya at my side as I looked at the spear hero.
0 form, 8 combat awareness, 20 battle instinct and 10 battle skills. All rated out of a scale of 100.
I showed him a lot of holes to exploit.
The fool charged in as he tried to pass me.
Kanshou slashed at his spear and then an incredible horrible sounded erupted.
His spear… it was marred.
My sword managed to cut into his spear, shocking Motoyasu and Malty. His spear let out a sound akin to a struck beast, but with metallic overtones.
She then began casting a lot of fire spells at me as I simply slashed them with my swords.
"Ren? Is that you? Why the hell are you siding with that rapist!? What's wrong with you!? He even took princess Melty as a hostage!" Motoyasu yelled furiously.
I twisted my body as he charged with [Meteor Spear], I used my hand to shove his spear out of the way and gave him a powerful blow to the stomach with my reinforced knee, it managed to dent the armor somewhat, while I gave him a followup with a roundhouse kick to send him back several feet back.
The place I had hit was smoking.
He quickly stood up as the other girls woke up feeling dizzy. His armor slowly mending itself, I wouldn't be able to exploit that it seems.
"It will take more than that to take me, the holy hero of the spear down!" He said as he made a rather overly pompous flourish with his spear.
So you want to experience a real hero of the spear? Fine… how about one of Fianna's best?
2 spears appeared in my hands, he gasped as he saw what I held.
And he understood something important…
"That's not Ren" Motoyasu said. As he noticed the spears I was brandishing. He paled.
Name: Gáe Dearg the crimson rose of exorcism
Level restriction: 180+
Bonus: +80 agility, +90 dexterity +20X damage against magical constructs and demonic beings.
Protection from arrows (Huge)
Battle continuation (Large)
Magic Resistance (Medium)
Special property: renders magical enhancements and projections useless by severing all ties with magical energy
Name:Gáe Buidhe the golden rose of mortality
Level restriction: LV. 180+
Bonus: +80 agility, +90 dexterity, +20X damage on beings with high regeneration
Protection from arrows (Huge),
Battle continuation (Large)
Magic resistance (Medium)
Special property: lowers the opponent's maximum health limit, thus limiting healing and regeneration abilities to the point where the opponent received the injury. Requires death or destruction of the owner or spear to undo the curse.
"Well… shit." Motoyasu said as he grimaced. The stat boosts alone were troublesome, not to mention rank and abilities.
And then he noticed something.
"SHIT! THIS GUY IS AT LEAST LEVEL 180! WATCH OUT!" Motoyasu shouted to warn the girls.
I was an impossibility, as people could only level up to lv 100.
The only exception would be…
No, it can't be, all heroes were accounted for! The old ones died so there was no...
I had suddenly vanished in a puff of dirt. As it was displaced violently due to my speed.
He turned around, his instincts saving him from a stab at his arm but not a blow to the face with the other spear as I move behind him faster than his eyes could track.
He was weary of the golden spear, good… keep your eyes on it.
He attacked me with skills but the red spear shut the skills off forcibly and pierced his armor, ignoring it's magical defensive properties and piercing his chest in a non vital area. I also slammed the shaft of the spear to knock him off balance and continue to assault him.
His girls attacked me with any and all magic at their disposal from every angle they could muster, all in the hopes that they could buy their spear hero a few precious seconds where he could get a hit in while I was distracted.
Under normal circumstances, that might have worked. Unfortunately for them, I was channeling the history of the original wielder of these spears: Diarmuid Ua Duibhne. And he fought more competent mages than noble daughters playing at adventurer.
With expert movements, I dodged their magic or dispelled it outright with a slash or a spin of the spears.
I got tired of their attacks so I grabbed one of the girls and used her as a human shield to blocka fireball from Malty. She screamed and cried in pain.
The blast of fire shot by Malty scorched her face, leaving her with horrific burns that reflected the twisted woman she was inside.
"NOOO CLAIRE! YOU MONSTER! HOW DARE YOU MAR A WOMAN'S FACE!" He said as he forgo of any skills and went to attack with the spear with pure rage and anger.
Parry parry, block block, dodge left, dodge, parry, slam the shaft of the spear to his face, retreat and pierce his armor once more. All of his attacks, no matter how ferocious and swift were blocked and parried with ridiculous ease as sparks flew from the exchange we had, each sounding like ricocheting bullets.
More and more was Motoyasu tiring up, he had lost a LOT of blood and used his SP a lot without restraint but it seems like he had something akin to battle continuation… if only at the rank of E.
Malty, the bitch was taken back, seeing that it was useless to continue, she did not want to get scarred, her good looks was strongest weapon after all.
She took a single step back, that was my cue.
In a single movement I threw one of my spears at her, piercing her left leg and foot to the ground, she yelled in bloody murder
"MALTY!" Motoyasu yelled as he turned to look at her.
I reinforced the spear and slammed the shaft of it at the base of his neck, knocking him out.
I then made the spears vanish as Malty fell to the ground in pain, unable to move but glare at me venomously. I made a fast retreat, as the health of the princess and the spear hero would be a top priority to them, however taking revenge on my attacking them would be high as well. A few guards chased after me, I needed to get them off my tail.
Over 20 giant swords appeared and embedded themselves by the gate, blocking access as I continued undeterred to the rendezvous point. I had to deflect a volley of arrows shot at me as I rushed beyond the castle town walls.
I continued as I avoided guards for a while, hiding around as I managed to get into the farmlands, many of then had been abandoned due to damages caused by the last wave and so I used them to hide in and wait for the guards to tire and changed out of my armor.
I stepped out and whistled loudly as the carriage Fafnir was pulling arrived promptly, Naofumi and the rest where hidden under a runic cover that made the inside appear empty.
Rishia was currently with Fafnir's reigns.
"Quick! Get in!" She said hurriedly.
I jumped into the carriage as we exited the place, becoming hunted by the crown.
"Sooo… I see you been busy Naofumi-san" I said as Naofumi and the rest emerged from the runic tarp cover.
He was smiling, genuinely happy to see me back.
"Shirou… glad to have you back" Naofumi said.
"Indeed, I am very happy that Shirou-sama has come back"
"Yay! Uncle Shirou is back so we get to have lotsa tasty food!"
As we continued we managed to get into a forest, were we updated each other to what we have done when we split up.
In order to make sure we would not be followed I tied up a lot of branches with leaves at the back of the cart, so as it passed the leaves would obscure the tracks by brushing them, it should buy us some time, Thankfully Fafnir had been equipped with what passes for horseshoes for dragons, making his steps much softer as to not tire the creatures much, it had been reinforced by Shirouso it was even better.
I did not take into account that the bitch did not care about anything except to make sure she was the only one in line for the crown.
It was night, several hours had passed as we went to another town to scape the corrupt crown. It seemed that Motoyasu had woken up and gave Malty any and all healing potions and restorative potions as well as holy water given by the church of the heroes of the highest quality.
The wound on her leg remained, the curse still prevailing regardless of the church's best attempts.
However she decided to bandage it and take potions to dull the pain and went along with Motoyasu to find us.
They had no luck as I had obscured our tracks, however she knew we couldn't have gotten too far, so instead she opted for scorched earth tactics.
A bottle of linseed oil shattered against a tree trunk, and with an incantation of "First Fire." a flame sprang from her palm to the puddle, setting the tree alight, the rest of the canopy swiftly following as the mages in her group bombarded the forest with fire spells of their own.
Malty was perfectly willing to burn the whole forest just to make sure we would die, along with her sister. It would be a bonus as she could blame the Shield for "kidnapping" her or she could also frame him for starting the fire, either way she would win.
If only she used her mind for better things.
I had to prevent the fire from spreading too far, Melty was a water user, but she couldn't do anything too big, she would need something to enhance her water ability.
I may just have the solution.
"Trace… on." In my hands formed a short blade with a circular decoration at the end of the pommel.
I gave it to Melty.
"Use the biggest water magic you have, pour everything into it, and don't worry about the results, just believe that it will accomplish what it needs to do," I said to her, she looked at Naofumi and he nodded.
She nodded and her face was determined to accomplish this.
"I am the source of all power. Hear my words and heed them. Drop rains of mercy! First Squall!" she said.
The blade shone with an aquamarine light.
What was to be a small area of effect became a downpour as it rained heavily all over extinguishing the fire made by her evil elder sister.
"Th- this is at the level of Driffa… no, higher! how?" Melty asked in shock and awe.
The Sword of Paracelsus, a powerful mystic code, it used its ability to further enhance her magical attack with True Ether (false) enhancing it to levels unheard of.
She looked at the blade as it disappeared into small lights.
"We need to keep moving, your sister will be pissed, I must say she is quite resilient, I did spear her leg and foot into the ground, even with healing magic she shouldn't have been able to move, is she really like this or only her desire to be queen that motivates her?" I asked as we continued going south-south west.
However it seems as if Motoyasu had an inkling as to where we would be going, we wanted to meet the queen, but he predicted our movements and closed that area.
"Could it be that Shadows have been feeding him information about us?" Naofumi asked.
I shook my head, "no Shadows have entered the area, any of them that come would have been noted and dealt with" I said.
That reassured them.
Melty looked as though she'd had a realization. She was staring at Naofumi.
"What?" he said.
"I know a wealthy family in this area. They might let us hide out until Motoyasu has moved on. Then we could escape without being seen."
"You want to head into town? You? And me? Even Filo is pretty recognizable these days."
Their faces were very well known. The crystal ball they had used was like a 3-D photograph back in my world. There wasn't a soul alive in Melromarc that didn't know their face.
If someone saw Filo, they'd report that too. She'd been turning into a more average-looking filolial these days.
We'd seen the village from a distance, and there were clearly a number of guards posted there.
"And you say they are wealthy?" Naofumi asked.
The powerful families of Melromarc tended to really hate the Shield Hero. According to what Meltyy said, and as far as the teachings of the Church of the Three Heroes were concerned, the Shield Hero was Melromarc's enemy. It didn't matter how many people's trust Naofumi managed to earn on his mercantile wanderings. The nobility and the powerful families would still hate him.
"I think it will be fine." she said
"This particular family always worked very closely with my mother. I think they share her way of thinking."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"They were very involved in demi-human to human relations in Melromarc. They tried to help everyone get along."
"Then why don't they speak out against your father, Trash, and the Church?" Naofumi asked.
If they were so enlightened and active, why did everyone still disbelieve me? Why did they all hate me?
If they had really worked so closely with the queen, then they certainly couldn't claim ignorance about Melromarc's internal affairs.
"They were a noble family in charge of managing a territory called Seyaette. But they died in the wave."
Damn… I see, it wasn't their fault, they couldn't due to the virtue of being dead. Why is it that good people die young while the bad people are allowed to live luxuriously?
"They were vacationing in their lands when the wave happened. They fought to protect the people who lived there… until the end." Melty said solemnly.
"That's terrible…" I said sincerely.
"Yes. We lost them in the first wave. It was a great sacrifice." Melty said.
Huh? The first wave?
I looked over at Raphtalia. She had met a hard fate during the first wave too.
"My village was under the protection of the governor. But the governor died, and we tried to rebuild… the village was…"
So it was all true.
"When we lost that family, we lost the last voice that spoke for the compassionate treatment of demi-humans. Any remaining powers that held the same views were given reassignments by my father. That's not the worst of it either. I've heard that the inhabitants of Seyaette met a hard fate in the ensuing violence." Melty said as she found out of her father's machinations.
"Violence by the Crown's soldiers." Raphtalia said with ill concealed irritation.
"I believe my mother, once she returns, will see that they are punished. She sent a letter, but it seems to have been ignored. Once all this is over, Raphtalia, please tell me about the soldiers that did these things." Melty said.
"I don't think it will be as easy as you say" Shirou said.
They all turned to look at him.
"From what I have seen your father and the many corrupt nobles have already set fail safes to keep up the corruption even if they are dealt with, they would surely have asked someone to handle their affairs secretly while also undermining your mother's authority from the shadows, there is only one way to deal with them…" h said and held off as they all looked at him, until I started laughing.
"No way! Really? This is so hilarious!" I said as I tried to breathe.
"Shirou-sama? W-what do you mean?" Raphtalia asked with trepidation.
"The complete extinction of said noble's family and any and all who had ties with them, this will in turn will make sure no one can retaliate as they would all be dead." Shirou said in a cold and clinical manner.
Both Melty and Raphtalia were shocked by his statement.
"Yeah, that makes sense," I said. "But that would leave a foul taste in my mouth, I may hate them but I don't wanna kill people who got involved without knowing, it would make me no better."
Shirou nodded, approving of what I had said.
"As I said, that would be the easiest, the other would be by making an example of them and having trusted demi-humans in places of power to give a balance and checks of powers." Shirou said.
Melty and Raphtalia blinked owlishly, not comprehending what Shirou said.
"Ah! You mean like the diet?" I said remembering about how Japan and many other governments had a system so no governmental branch had too much power.
"Diet? What are you saying? Am I fat? I been eating a bit more lately but surely-" Raphtalia said worried.
"No, a diet is when a group of governmental branches are given powers to act according to what they are to do, however there are others that keep an eye and are given power to stop the other if they are doing something bad or wrong, to balance things and keep then even and clean, counterbalancing influences by which an organization or system is regulated, typically those ensuring that political power is not concentrated in the hands of individuals or groups." I said as I remember some of my lectures back in college.
"That sounds like a good system!" Melty said. "Wait… it kinda sounds like Siltvelt!"
"Yes, but it does have it's faults, still it is better than the mess we have here, no offence princess, Also the system implemented back then is not as modern as the one we are from… so differences may exist." Shirou said.
"Please, call me Melty." she said giving a curtsy at him.
"Call me Shirou." he said with a smile.
We had arrived at the town Melty had told us about.
"Everyone hide under the tarp." Shirou said.
As we did we saw Shirou changing his hair and skin color, his hair changed into one of pure white, like someone who suffered from Marie Antoinette syndrome and his skin turned tanned.
We got into the checkpoint of the city, the guards checked the cart but found it empty save for a few crates with fruits and dried meats.
He paid his entry fee and we left without further interruptions.
We tried to flag some demi-humans for help, but all fled, it seems as the church of the three heroes was disseminating a misinformation campaign as a way to further hinder us.
According with what Raphtalia found, they said that "the shield Hero has asked to be left alone and unmolested.''
"Crafty little bastards" Shirou said with a chuckle.
It was then when someone I knew spotted us.
It was a fellow I sold some of my merch to, he looked like an intellectual and has an affable aura around him so I took to giving him the nickname of " Guy"
I looked out to the road from the cart, and Nice Guy was there. He wore glasses, and was sitting in a high-class carriage. He stopped it and called out to us.
Yeah, I remembered. Nice Guy had been nobility in that town.
"Could that be Princess Melty and the Shield Hero in there?" he asked.
"It's dangerous to speak here. Would you accompany me back to my residence?"
Judging by the direction he'd come from, he must have come out here to meet us. So he HAD been thinking about us.
"If you try to hand us off to the other heroes, we'll cause a big ruckus." I said
"Naofumi, you shouldn't…"
"And by 'We,' I mean my subordinates and this barbaric princess."
"What was that?!"Melty shot me an ice-cold glare."YOU'RE the barbarian!"
"What are you saying? I'm the most sophisticated hero by a long shot." I said waving my hand.
"You once sold me an item, for which I am very grateful. The materials are quite simple, so you see pieces like it everywhere, but your design, Hero, makes it much more valuable to me. It cost five times more than similar items, but I still feel like it was worth it."
Melty was really glaring at me now.
"I'm very sorry." Raphtalia held her head in her hands.
"Anyway, Naofumi, we should go with this man for now. We can hear all about how you've behaved later."
"Why do I have to talk with you about my behavior?" I said giving an air of being offended.
"Because these issues are going to keep popping up. Could it be your fault that people call you the Shield Demon?" she asked as she poked at my chest.
"Any stories you hear will be stories of my valorous deeds." I said with a smirk.
"Don't act like you are proud of your crimes!" she said feeling scandalized.
Whatever. I can deceive my enemies all day long and not feel a bit of guilt for 's all about perspective. Modesty can look like cowardice to an enemy.
"Okay kids, settle down that's enough for now. If you cause a fuss here, Motoyasu and that nasty piece of work of a princess will find us." Shirou said.
Hm… Shirou was right. We silently followed Nice Guy's carriage to his residence.
We were given a great meal and a place to stay as Mr. Nice Guy asked us a few questions, he heard that a considerable portion of the forest was set ablaze but was promptly extinguished by a rather miraculous downpour.
We explained that it was due to Melty and her magic, it was for his own safety that we did not tell him the whole truth, if word leaked of Shirou's abilities… we would have a shit ton of more trouble.
Mr. Nice Guy understood that we couldn't tell him the whole picture and so he did not push it further.
I asked if it could be possible to stay for a while, and also asked if he had information of the other heroes.
It was then when the green haired girl coughed.
"I may be able to tell you about one of the other heroes..." Shirou said.
30 minutes later
All of the staff of Mr. Nice Guy was shocked, I was trying to hold in my laughter, Raphtalia had her hands on her face shaking it and begging that this was a joke, Melty was equally appalled by the description of all that he did to the best of his ability, not only that but once he said just how those silver effigies people of the church of the three heroes had, it sickened everyone present, more than three of the maids had to rush to vomit due to the sheer horror of what they had heard.
"I was aware that the church of the three heroes hated demi-humans and had a human supremacist view, but to go to this extent…" he was appalled at all this his face turned a shade of green.
"I am quite sure that the king facilitated this to happen." Naofumi said.
Melty looked cross at him "Yeah, he had… I managed to see that from the staff he carries" Shirou said.
I rose an eyebrow, and then remembered what he explained about his magic.
"You read the accumulated history of his staff uh?" I said.
The man became one sick bastard. After the loss of his sister he went on a one man crusade against all demi-humans, specially the white tiger ones… he developed a bit of a murder bonner about it, but something did not add up… there was something missing here, why would that had happened? Why would the Hakuko attack?
Melty was confused "I am sorry… but I must be honest and direct with you, your father is a rather bad person to his core, he wishes for you to not take the throne, rather Malty, as she is his favorite daughter, with the same views as him towards demi-humans, once crowned she could continue to spread the poison of hatred until all demi-humans are exterminated. This was due to him losing his young sister due to an attack by a demi-human tribe." Shirou said.
"Is that how you knew about Bitch being up to no good?" I asked.
"In part, the other is due to me noticing the sheer amount of hatred and contempt she and her father had for you." Shirou said.
Shirou took initiative and said he would keep watch as he made runic symbols on the doors, he made some on the door-frame at the entrance as well.
It wasdusk when I heard the sound of a carriage.
A small, fat man jumped out of the carriage and knocked on the door of the mansion. He was followed by a large group of soldiers. I was at the roof of the mansion with my bow at the ready as well as many nameless swords ready to be altered into arrows and shot when needed.
They came here due to suspicions of the 'Shield Demon' being harbored here.
I understood it now.
They had known of this man's views and knew they could corner us here, while at the same time further destroying Naofumi's faith in people.
The fat lard of a man reminded me of a pig to be up honest, ugly, yet it seems that he had no small amount of combat experience, more than the other three heroes at least.
It seems Melty had decided to try and clear Naofumi's name and agreed to go with him.
Quickly once the fat man had left I, along with Naofumi, noticed Raphtalia's change… her face looked deathly pale and her body shivering.
She knew that noble that had come in.
Judging by her reaction…
"Melty… she is in trouble isn't she?" I asked as Raphtalia nodded as tears threatened to flow out.
I looked at Naofumi and he nodded, "She might be Bitch's sister, but she never betrayed my trust, the least I can do is save her" he said.
I asked Mr. Nice Guy to give me a rundown of the fat noble's mansion, making a diagram I propositioned the plan, they would enter and cause a commotion, Raphtalia, due to knowing him, would cause problems but it also served a secondary purpose.
She needed revenge.
This noble had broken her and killed her friends in front of her when she was but a child.
She held the knives I gave to her before my leaving, and so I decided to give her something she would have a much better use of.
The Azoth blade.
I told her to shout the activation word "release" one she plunged the blade into the bastard.
I did not tell her what would happen after.
I smiled as I remembered that fake priest… no wait… that was not my own memory but other Shirou's.
I would sneak around and get into his dungeon.
I was pretty sure it wouldn't be as bad as the last one.
It was almost as bad. It seems these noble bastards seemed to share similar hobbies. Inside were many dead bodies of demi-human children, inside one of the jail was a pile of bones of a small girl… possibly decades old. Darkly, it seemed as though some of them were spared by this noble's bigotry, as there were no signs of rape that I could see.
"Man… this whole world is a shit-hell" I muttered as I continued.
"Who's there?" A raspy and tired voice asked.
"Are you a okay? Let me get you out" I said.
"Just… just leave me here… there is nothing for me to go back to... Even she is gone…" the voice said dejectedly.
"Who is?" I asked.
"Little Raphtalia…" the voice said.
I followed the voice and found a small child handcuffed to the wall, the child was around age 10… short spiky dark hair and dog ears and blue eyes.
"Raphtalia isn't dead." I said.
"Don't do this…. Don't give me hope… she is dead… I am all alone now" the child said.
With a slash of my blade the kids changes shattered, and he fell to the ground.. Gently picking him up, I gave the kid a piggyback ride outside.
Once we got to the outside gardens we heard a violent explosion.
It was the pig noble… whose name I learned was Idol Rabier.
It seems Raphtalia has used the blade's magic.
About 30 minutes earlier
He was the monster that haunted my dreams… he was the reason she had panic attacks and night terrors, all her friends dying in front of her.
"YOU MONSTER! YOU KILLED THEN ALL!" I yelled.
"Oh, be quiet you subhuman, you are things to be used and disposed of! You subhuman are for torturing and killing as a service to our God." He yelled as he grabbed his whip.
As he used it to try whip Raphtalia but she dodged it and hit a nearby soldier.
"Gyaaaaah!" The soldier yelled as his armor twisted and killed the poor idiot with his own armor.
"Careful not to get hit" Naofumi-sama warned.
I dodged and used a minor illusion spell and had him kill his own men.
I parried his whip attacks with my sword making sure to avoid it hitting my armor or body.
Naofumi-sama blocked anyone from interfering as I was about to get my revenge.
As I managed to close the distance between us he pleaded for mercy.
Mercy? We're was mercy for my dead friend?
"Die you sub creature!" he yelled as he wielded his whip with more vigor, he did not care who he hit, friend or foe, he had to kill her, it was his duty, it was his pleasure…. His whip demanded him to.
After using this whip for so long and commit such atrocities, the whip gained something akin to sentience, much like muramasa swords, it was cursed, its curse was to always kill in the most violent way possible anything it hit. The noble thought it was a blessing from his God, but it was the sheer pain and anguish of all his victims seethed into the whip, making it something akin to a noble phantasm prototype.
Many of his soldiers died as their armors twisted themselves with their bodies still in, all dying in ghastly and horribly manner.
But he did not care, he had tunnel vision, this was his old slave that he could not finish off, he had to! He had to for his god! He had to kill these subhumans and destroy the demon that was the shield!
Then I pulled the blade Shirou-sama had projected for me.
"YOU KILLED THEM… YOU REJOICED ON THEIR SUFFERING SO NOW FEEL THEIR PAIN! RELEASE!" She said as she lunged and plunged the blade at his heart.
She pushed herself away as the jewel began to glow.
There was now a fist sized hole in his chest he fell down from the 3rd story.
I began to cry… as I have lost them, my village friends. My legs gave up and I started to cry, I may have killed him… I had avenged my friends...but I still felt empty, this action would not bring them back… once the clock marches, it cannot go back
Naofumi wrapped his arms around me as well as Filo and Melty.
No one said a word… what there was to say?
We began to make our way downstairs as we found Shirou-sama carrying…
"It can't be… Keel?" I said.
"Who are you?" Keel said.
It was to be expected… I had grown in levels…
"It's me, Raphtalia" I said.
"No… you can't be… she wasn't as beautiful as you… she was so cute and small." Keel said.
Then I decided to prove who I was by telling rather embarrassing stories of the dumb things he'd done back at the village when he was mortified and beleive me to be me.
Shirou-sama also managed to bring back the remains of my old friend… the poor thing was nothing more than brittle bones, he used a shroud of a saint to protect the bones until the time we could give it proper burial, as a way to about it coming back as a wraith or the like.
Just as we thought we were safe that bastard came back.
He had a hole in his chest… blood pouring out of it but he had a manic look on his face. Naofumi-sama handed Keel to the good noble...
Mr. Nice Guy took Keel and ran while the rest of us approached the fat man as he chanted at the sealing stone.
"You've finally come, Shield Demon!" He was screaming like an insane person now.
"I don't know what's sealed inside that thing, but you better stop that right now." Myself and Filo readied for battle.
Now that we were outside, it would be easier to fight than it had been in that small room.
"You're too late. If only you hadn't shown up, this town would still be peaceful!" he said as he held his ungodly effigy in his hand .
"Peaceful? Ha! If you hadn't stolen Melty and dragged her here, none of this would be happening!" Naofumi-sama said.
"It's all your fault, Shield Demon!" the bastard exclaimed, denying any fault for his actions.
"I don't have time to listen to the complaints of a coward who gets his kicks from torturing children." I didn't know what was sealed away in there, but I had to find some way to stop him.
The longer we wait, the worse things were going to get.
The other heroes would probably look on with relish. They would want to fight a monster to get its rare items and experience. But I say it's better to let sleeping dogs lie.
"I am not a coward! I am purging the world of its lower life forms! I am a righteous man!" he exclaimed with insanity in his eyes.
Dammit… there was no reasoning with him.
I knew how it felt to find joy in the misery of people you hated, so I thought that maybe we could come to an understanding. But I was wrong. I never truly wished for the death of anyone, ever.
Even if it was about a specific person, maybe that was understandable, but to hate an entire class of people made no sense at all!
Anyway, who knew what this guy was up to?
I stepped forward and began to prepare a skill that would restrain the nobleman. But before I could use it, the stone cracked and fell to pieces.
"It is finished. If I can kill the Shield Demon, my place in God's heaven will be secure! Ah, ha, ha!" The nobleman let out a laugh like a broken toy. The ground began to shake. Cracks appeared in the earth.
"Yes! Destroy it all! The sealed monster will destroy the Shield Demon!"
The sky over the mansion was filled with purple light.
I looked up to see cracks appearing in the sky, like a tortoise shell. It was at that very moment that the sealed monster appeared.
"Master!" All of Filo's feathers stood on end. She was staring at the sky.
"What is that?!" Large reptilian feet, tipped with large, sharp claws, slowly stepped through the crack. They were followed by a large, muscular body, then an enormous eyeball, and finally a massive jaw appeared, rimmed with teeth so large and sharp they could shred metal. I saw what the monster was. It was a 20-meter tall, carnivorous… dinosaur.
"This is a joke right?" Shirou said feeling kinda like this came from the left field.
A huge dinosaur appeared in the sky. I didn't call it a dragon on purpose. It looked exactly like a dinosaur. To be more specific, it looked like an overgrown Tyrannosaurus Rex, but meaner and scarier.
It wasn't like a normal monster in the field. It was a dinosaur. A rift opened in the sky above us, and the massive beast came crashing down into the mansion.
"Ha, ha, ha! For the glory of God!" he yelled maniacally as he fell down with a satisfied grin dying from his destroyed heart.
The mansion collapsed under the weight of the dinosaur. Then, with insanity still in his eyes, the nobleman was instantly crushed under the foot of the advancing beast. He was crazy all the way until the end. And he did crazy things until the end. How were we supposed to defeat such a huge monster?
"We're all escaping together! Filo, you understand?!"
"Yeah!" Filo ran back to the courtyard entrance, and picked up Nice Guy and Keel before running away.
Raphtalia, Melty, Shirou and myself all took off running in unison. We made for the property exit.
It seems like this guy honestly wanted me dead and then some.
"Probably a true zealot of the church of the three heroes, they noted your growth and compared to the other three… well… let's just say that they don't like their so called saints outdone by the one called the demon." Shirou said as he took a few shots at the T-rex monstrosity.
A bunch of us wanted to fight it off, however there was a problem, "This is a residential area! If we do this here many will die in the crossfire" I said.
We needed to lead it away from here, and cause the least amount of damage possible.
The dinosaur was sniffing around to see where its prey had vanished too.
This didn't feel right. There, I caught sight of its name: Tyrant Dragon Rex. Something on the dinosaur's chest began to glow. At the same time, Filo's stomach started glowing too.
"What?" she said as she turned her head sideways in her filolial form.
"The dinosaur is looking straight at us, and I think it might have something to do with your glowing stomach."
"Hm…. Well, you know what? I think that big gecko wants to eat me!"
"Okay, Filo, you run! Lure the monster out of town!"
"What? Naofumi? Are you going to abandon Filo?" Melty said in shock.
"No, I want her to lure the monster somewhere away from people and then come back!"
"But he's after Filo, so I don't think he'll just let her go!"
"…You're right." I'd thought that Filo was fast enough to make it, but I shouldn't use her as bait.
"No! I want to stay with you, Master!"
"Naofumi-sama, you shouldn't ask that of her." Raphtalia said.
"No… he is right, but she is not going alone" Shirou said as a familiar bridle appeared in his hands.
"You got this?" I asked.
"Filo, listen, I will use the bridle on you once we got that overgrown lizards attention, once we manage to get him away from town, that's when we will counter attack" Shirou said to her.
"UMU! Understood!" She exclaimed.
Shirou mounted up in her and got near the dragon, the son of a bitch had crazy plans but I know he would never put anyone in danger… if anything he would put himself in the thick of it.
Filo would be fine.
And so we all left to do out part of the plan.
I was on top of Filo once more and got close to the t-rex.
My bow was ready, tracing and altering unnamed swords I swiftly shot at the monstrosity.
The sword arrows pierced deeply into its leathery thick skin, making it roar in anger but with a flex he broke the sword-arrows that bit into him.
It then noticed the glow on Filo's stomach and chased after us.
"Quick, go by where are the least amount of buildings!" I said.
"Hold on tight!" She said as she kicked the ground.
We were now on the roof of a house, she swiftly ran making sure that I was stable with her wings so I could harras that overgrown lizard with my attacks.
I needed to buy some time in order to put the bridle on her.
"Trace… ON!" I shot six black keys at the T-rex and four of them bit into his shadow.
"It won't last long, quick let's get this on you!" I said as I affixed Bellerophon on her.
A powerful roar.
The monster attacked with its tail… it was too late for me to dodge.
"Uncle Shirou!" Filo yelled.
"My body… is made of blades." I said as the tail was but mere inches away.
My body had changed, my body was made of swords… I had changed the perception by which I viewed myself from human to a being which is a sword.
My muscles changed, it was now blades interlocked into muscle shape, same as my bones, I would have some internal bleeding, but it beats being outright dead.
The tail impacted me, thankfully along with reinforcement I managed to tank the worst of it, still a fair few ribs got broken.
Avalon's passive regeneration was slow going as I was not Saber. Even if it acknowledged me as its new user I was inferior to the original, I did not have the sheer amount of mana she could have when alive.
Filo picked me up and put me on her now attached saddle.
"OH! Filo feels many times stronger now!" Filo said as she looked at the monster with anger.
"How dare you…."
"How dare you hurt master and uncle Shirou!"
I quickly charged at the dragon.
My speed was godly, my strength could cleave a mountain.
Using my magic I enhanced my speed further.
My body broke something in the area… everything felt like it was so very slow, like that time when I raced against Fafnir when he was with creepy stalker guy.
Over 50 kicks in the span of a single second.
Once I landed carefully as to not further injure Uncle Shirou theground melted a bit. The speed and force was such that my claws hot heated up enough to burn the ground.
The huge dragon had multiple stamps of my claws on its face, breaking it's ugly nose.
I understood one thing.
"This is not my power…"
The dragon glared at me with fury as it charged once more.
We were doing something called a "game of cat and mouse" as uncle Shirou explained.
We needed to act as the mouse and rile up the big ugly brute and lead it away from the city to make sure casualties are kept down.
There was a lot of complicated things but I was told if I did a good job I would get extra helpings so I eagerly agreed.
Still the power I had was enough to harm it greatly, but not kill it, I could feel uncle Shirou getting better but not fast enough.
Once we got into the forest and found the rest of the group I threw uncle Shirou to Raphtalia-oneechan, she quickly gave him a health potion as his body began to mend faster.
It was then when Master got on top of me.
More power was siphoning to me.
I trilled with excitement.
This was insane, how the hell is a T-rex here… and worse, made into a dragon?
I called out "Air Strike Shield! Second Shield!" and used them as a platform to deliver another attack with Filo to its face with a sickening crack. The monster roared in pain as blood began to pour from its nose.
Filo was glowing in a golden light that enveloped us, her attacks now leaving rather deep marks on its face and breaking its bones. A sickening crack was heard around its jaw.
It was then when shit hit the fan.
It's scales began to change into a black color and it's eyes turning white. Arcs of red lightning emerged from its body.
It's power has begun to climb.
With a single swipe of his tail he nearly killed us, if it wasn't for my armor and the many stat bonuses I had in my defense we would have been a red paste on the ground.
Now? I would need to use it.
Raphtalia engaged and stabbed it with her sword, leaving it stuck on the body of the saurian.
It took a few minutes but Shirou stood back up.
"I am the bone of my sword"
"Steel is my body… and fire is my blood"
Filo's feathers stood up.
"What is uncle Shirou doing?" She asked a bit fearful.
"I have created over a thousand blades, unaware of loss nor aware of gain"
Something was forming in his hands.
Warning! Erosion of Reality! Heroes are not permitted to cross between worlds..
The shield warned me of this…. What the hell? Another world?
"Stay your hand offworlder, I shall deal with this pest myself." a voice came out.
Off in the distance I heard some kind of animal call.
What was it?
The area started to fill with small floating lights, like fireflies.
"Huh?" Filo held her wings against her head, like she was trying to concentrate.
"What is it?" I asked.
"I can hear someone talking. They're saying that they will be here soon, so we should wait." Filo said.
"Who said that?"
What was happening? We were right in the middle of a battle here! The Tyrant Dragon Rex seemed to sense that something was happening also. It raised its head and was looking around.
"There's some kind of bounded field." Shirou said.
"Yes. Can't you see it? It's like a mist hanging over us. I can't tell what it does, but it's meant to not allow people in"
I tried to look far into the distance, but the air grew thick, and I couldn't see very far.
"That looks like a very powerful bounded field." Shirou said worried. "Territory creation?"
"What is it?"
"I've heard of a mysterious forest. There are legends about it. I heard that the old weapons of the Heroes from long ago are sleeping there, and that it's protected by a force field to keep people away." Melt said.
"Sounds like you know all about it." I said.
"My mother likes legends, and she took me to see the mysterious forest. The force field looked just like this."
What was that supposed to mean? Did it mean that we weren't going to be able to escape even if we tried?
"When you try to cross over it, it brings you back to where you started. I think someone has cast a force field over us." Someone was trapping us? That didn't sound good at all.
I imagined that Bitch or Trash had hired an assassin to do this to us. I imagined them reclining back and watching us to make sure we died at the hands of the Tyrant Dragon Rex.
What it meant was this: there was no way out. I looked around. The grass and trees were filled with strange lights.
What the hell was going on?
Suddenly an enormous herd of filolials appeared and came running straight for us.
The whole field was covered in filolials. This was turning into a traumatic experience.
Melty's eyes were shining. She looked so happy.
Why did she like filolials so much?! Whatever—this was not the time to entertain her hobbies.
The dinosaur howled in anger at the new developments. Then he lowered his head to attack.
Dammit… We had no choice.
I prepared to switch to the Shield of Rage.
My shield arm flew back, struck with a sharp pain.
I looked down to find the shield itself glowing. I was still able to change shields if I wanted though.
I tried, again, to switch to the Shield of Wrath. But…
—Due to interference, you may not change weapons.
A flashing icon appeared in my field of vision, and I was no longer able to switch shields.
There was also a small clock displaying the remaining time before I could make a switch. I could probably switch shields again when the timer ran out.
"Who's there?!" A voice I'd never heard before had interjected and kept me from changing shields. Why would they stop me? What were they after?
"You will be alright. Just wait. You do no need to turn to that power."
"Hiya!" Filo flipped through the air and delivered a solid kick to the dinosaur's jaw before landing deftly in the grass and dashing back, picking up Raphtalia and I to take us back to Melty, Shirou was on the other side pelting the ugly brute with his arrow-swords.
"What's happening?" Melty asked.
"They said to stand back." I didn't hear that. Or did she mean that strange voice?
We were completely surrounded by filolials. There were too many to count. Their eyes were shining in the dark. The sheer number of them was unbelievable.
What was happening?
My only idea was that they were somehow trying to trap the monster there. Could it be that they formed giant herds to hunt giant monsters? Or maybe they were trying to get Filo to join their group? The herd of filolials split around the monster. It was just like the parting of the Red Sea.
One of the filolials stepped out of the group and started to walk in our direction.
It looked a lot like Filo when she was in her "normal" filolial form, but this one was light blue. It stood about two meters tall, and looked a lot like a large ostrich.
But it looked… fluffier than other filolials. Like its feathers were softer. It also had a single feather that stuck vertically up from the crown of its head.
Most filolials were pink, we also seen some other colors as well, but this one was a light blue color. There were still white patches, but most of it was blue. It was pulling a gorgeous carriage, and a large gemstone was set in the center of it.
The jewel reminded me of a gemstone I'd seen before… but I couldn't remember where.
I looked at my shield. Then I realized… It was the same shape as the jewel in the center of my shield.
"Hey! It's that filolial from before!" Melty exclaimed.
"You know this thing?" I asked.
"Yes. I met her before I ran into you guys."
"Really?" She had a sense of authority about her. She was clearly the leader of the herd, and she didn't seem as dull-witted as a typical filolial.
Shirou looked at it, his hands flexing.
"I saw this one before… when I saved the people from Rishia's lands" Shirou said.
The Tyrant Dragon Rex appeared to recognize these qualities in her as well. The beast seemed to be on guard and ready to attack at any moment, but was holding back to see what the blue filolial would do.
"Wow! What a cool carriage! I'm jealous…" Filo's eyes sparkled when she caught sight of the carriage.
I didn't like it. The last thing I wanted was to parade around like new money. Besides, I could imagine what the public would say if they saw me in that thing.
"Gah!" The blue filolial removed the reins from herself and stepped forward. Another filolial swooped in behind her and removed the carriage.
"Gweeeeeeeeeeeh!" The blue filolial let out a sustained call. All the leaves on the trees and bushes began to shine a bright green, and a powerful wind blew through the area.
What was going on?
The blue filolial began to grow. She expanded into a large, black silhouette.
She was huge…
The silhouette was big and puffy. She was transforming, but she was able to grow much larger than Filo could. When she'd first stepped forward she stood about two meters tall, but in almost no time she'd grown to at least six meters, andshe kept growing until she was the same size as the Tyrant Dragon Rex. .
"Wow! She's so big!" Melty was unable to hide her joy. She whispered to herself like a giddy child. Compared to the pink and white filolials below, this filolial Queen was clearly light blue.
The major difference was the three vertical feather that stood from the crown of her head.
"I've kept you waiting, Shield Hero. And you too, little girl who likes filolials."
The huge filolial Queen finished greeting us and then directed her gaze to the Tyrant Dragon Rex. Her voice sounded a lot like Filo's but was perhaps a bit deeper.
"Filo talks too."
"I know that!"
"Woooow! She's so big!"
"Uh… Uh…" I stood there, mouth agape, as the huge filolial queen took a step towards the Tyrant Dragon Rex.
"It looks like the Dragon Emperor fragment has puffed you up a little. That's the only way you, a pathetic little lizard, could have grown so big. I don't think it suits you." "
The enormous filolial queen spoke to the dinosaur.
"If you give me the fragment now, I will let you live. Hand it over and go." The Tyrant Dragon Rex lowered its head and roared in response.
Shirou rushed in.
"In the name of the saint, Mark of the dragon!"
An image of the face of a dragon appeared on top of the beast.
The air around the monster began to change, a blade materialized in Shirou's hands.
"This is the truth of Ascalon! Thou art a dragon, a sinful beast! Ascalon!"
He launched his attack.
His attack was of a golden light in the shape of a cross.
A large gash appeared on its body as Shirou's body gave up on him, he might have healed somewhat but this was a bit too much.
He had a large amount of magical power, or Od as he called it, however the rate of recovery he had was rather low.
The huge filolial queen then finished Shirou's job and completely destroyed it, ripping it apart with a kick.
It was so powerful that even a more than half a dozen trees were felled by the ferocity of the air displacement.
The felled Tyrant Dragon Rex lay in bloody strips, and there was something shining among them. It appeared to be some kind of glowing ore. The filolial queen picked it up and then turned to us. "Sorry I kept you waiting."
We were all speechless.
Not even Filo had been able to deal that much damage to the massive monster, and this huge filolial queen had defeated it so easily! Sure Shirou gave it a huge gash, he didn't surprise me much anymore… but this?
"You're so big…" Melty's eyes were shining as she looked up at the huge bird. She sure did switch moods quickly.
Whenever she spoke to me she bordered on hysterics, but she was polite when she spoke to others, and obsessively fawning when she spoke to Filo or other filolials.
"You must be the Shield Hero." it said.
"Oh… Yeah." When something the size of a building speaks to you, you answer the best you can.
Had we been enemies, well, I don't think I could beat her in a fight… I couldn't see how that would be possible…. Maybe if Shirou didn't overexert himself like he did, he could have pulled out a legendary weapon that could've made it possible.
And if Melty had been right—if we really were enclosed in a force field—then we wouldn't be able to run either.
I even thought about trying to escape on Filo, but if this was a filolial queen, she'd be at least as fast as Filo. There was no escape.
"Do you need something from me?" I asked, doing my best to not be antagonistic.
"I have many things I wish to discuss with you. But it's not polite to speak to you like this. Wait a moment please." The huge filolial queen closed her eyes and seemed to be concentrating. As she did she began to shrink. Finally her large wings closed around her body completely.
When she opened them again, there was a young girl standing there, about the same height as Filo, with wings on her back.
Her hair was silver with thin streaks of light blue, and it was cut in a short bob.
But there were three tufts of hair standing up vertically from the crown of her head, like cowlicks.
Her eyes were red, and her gaze carried an air of authority about it.
Her face was small and well-composed. Quite beautiful, really.
She was dressed in a red and white gothic-style dress.
"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Fitoria, the Queen of the Filolials." She flicked her head and smirked, a rather child-like movement that stood in opposition to the air of power and authority that hung about her.
It's hard to describe, but because she was in human form, I sort of got the impression that she was a small child trying to act like an adult.
"Fitoria?! But that's the name of the filolial in the legends!" Melty was shocked.
"Really?" Shirou asked as he laid on a rolled out sleeping bag.
"Yes. There is a legend saying that Fitoria was raised by four Legendary Heroes in the past… when they were summoned during a wave of destruction."
"The past… Well, I don't know how long ago you are referencing, but she might be the successor?"
I think I remembered that, back when Motoyasu and I were being summoned, they had said something about waves in the ancient past.
If we were talking about something that far back, then she couldn't be the filolial of the legends, could she? It must have been a name that the current leader of the filolials inherited or something.
If not… just how old was this girl?
"My name has always been Fitoria, and there has only ever been one." Fitoria turned her head to the side in confusion while she spoke.
She was very serious and powerful, but occasionally she displayed those very filolial-like moments of animal stupidity.
"Are you saying that you've been alive since ancient times?" Shirou asked.
"Yup." She said it very matter-of-factly. I looked at Filo, then back at Fitoria. I guess I could believe it.
Just think how fast Filo had grown. If Filo had gotten that big, I don't think we'd have been able to feed her though.
We had enough trouble feeding her as it was. I didn't want her getting any bigger. If she got too big to feed than we'd probably have to part ways.
But then I remembered how much money I'd invested in Filo. I couldn't let that go to waste.
"Master, you're thinking of weird stuff." Filo said.
"You're right. That face he's making—it means he's thinking of something unrelated." Raphtalia said.
"You can read him so well. I have no idea." Melty said.
"You'll figure it out." Raphtalia said.
Annoying brats. I wished they would stop trying to figure out what I was thinking.
"You were thinking that if Filo got that big, you'd have to abandon her… weren't you?" Shirou said.
"Abandon her? How could you think such things?! To think, only minutes ago you'd asked her to try and get bigger!" Melty said enraged.
"Oh relax. How would we feed something that big?!"
"Naofumi-sama… I don't think she would get so large overnight…"
"Sure, but think about how fast she grew to this size. If she had another growth spurt, she might end up like that!" I said.
"Raphtalia-san! Why aren't you saying anything?" Melty grabbed onto Raphtalia's hands and shouted.
The scary part was that it could really happen. Maybe.
"It would take a long time to grow to that size, so don't worry about it." Fitoria seemed hesitant to intrude, but she raised her hand and answered my concerns. "Normal filolials have fixed life spans of a few decades."
Well, that was a relief. I didn't want her to have a growth spurt and turn into a mountain or something. But then I realized that Fitoria's phrasing implied that she had been alive for much longer.
"Now then, Shield Hero and friends, may I ask you to introduce yourselves?" Well… she was right. If she had given us her name then I guess it was our turn.
"I'm Naofumi Iwatani. Iwatani is my last name, and Naofumi is my first name. It sounds like you already know I'm the Shield Hero."
Fitoria looked to Raphtalia next.
"My name is Raphtalia. Pleased to meet you."
"I'm Filo!" Filo didn't wait to be addressed before jumping in.
Fitoria stared at Filo for a moment then directed her gaze to Melty.
"We've met before, haven't we? You love filolials. You protected me then. Thank you for that."
"Yes. My name is Melty Melromarc."
"Okay. I'll call you Mel-tan."
Meltan? She didn't have good taste in nicknames.
Back in my own world, I had a friend that used to add "tan" to everything. That just reminded me of it.
Being an Otaku myself, I was probably in the same category as people that did that though…
"Meltan… Please to formally meet you." See? Even Melty made a weird face when she heard it.
Filo shifted her weight and stepped forward. It almost looked like she was trying to protect Melty from Fitoria.
Was she jealous? She looked like a jealous friend who was mad that their friend was talking to someone else.
"And you, otherworlder? Who are you?" She asked.
Something made me slightly worried, it might need to how she said her question to the imposing pressure she now had.
"I am Emiya Shirou" he said.
"I remember you, when you were traveling using that knight dragon, you seemed odd, your very existence is an irregularity, were you summoned here along the heroes by design or by accident?" She asked.
"I am afraid it was by accident, as I don't possess the knowledge or ability to do such things" Shirou replied.
She nodded and then… "Then why were you rejecting it? The world I mean?" She asked.
She could feel it!
My trump card… it was somehow seen by this bird god.
No, not quite, she knew what I was doing but not what it does.
Reality Marble, the true origin of my meger abilities of my magecraft.
My tracing and alteration and structural grasping were but branches from it.
It was also, paradoxically, my would-be tomb. One that I actively seeked for should the battle warrant the use of it.
My final resting place.
So I decided to tell her an abridged version of this.
"My magic… magecraft to be exact works against the laws of the world, to do so I have to deny certain things in order to make fantasy into reality, in the shape of my weapons." I said as I traced Kanshou and Bakuya.
"Those are indeed strong blades, but you were doing something more weren't you?"
"I needed something bigger, so that is probably what you felt."
This was quite a gamble… I wasn't lying… but I also was not telling the truth either.
Hope my lessons with Rin pay off or else I would have to fight a bird goddess.
There was a tense silence…
If we all fell silent here, the conversation would take a weird turn. I decided to hurry things along.
"So? Of course I'll thank you for defeating that huge monster, the Tyrant Dragon Rex, for us… but… what can we do for you now?"
"I'll explain the details of it all, but this is not a good place to talk. I'll show you where to go, so please follow me." Fitoria pointed to her carriage. Did she want us to ride in it while she took us somewhere?
"First, we should…"
"Should what?" Fitoria turned her head to the side again.
I looked over at the Tyrant Dragon Rex's corpse.
In response, Fitoria furrowed her brow. "I would rather the Heroes did not use things from dragons to improve their weapons."
Oh that's right, filolials and dragons didn't get along. Apparently the Queen of the Filolials had the same way of thinking about them.
But that had nothing to do with me. I had to do whatever I could to get stronger.
Especially considering how powerful the Tyrant Dragon Rex had been… I couldn't afford to ignore materials like that.
"Very well then. I'll have my tribe bring it after us then. Please get into the carriage.
"Will you bring the organs too? Filolials sometimes can't control their appetites, and I need more than the bones."
"As you like."
"Naofumi, you're so petty." Melty said.
I went over to the shredded Tyrant Dragon Rex and let my shield absorb various parts of its body.
I let it absorb the flesh, bones, scales, horns, fangs, and organs. It unlocked a new shield.
…Or so I thought. Apparently I couldn't completely unlock the shield without reaching a higher level.
Compared to our own strength, the Tyrant Dragon Rex had been much more powerful, so I suppose it only made sense. My level still wasn't high enough to unlock the shield I'd gotten after defeating the Zombie Dragon anyway.
"Are you ready?" Fitoria asked calmly.
"Okay. And your name was Filo, right? Can you turn into a human and ride with them?"
"I could… but I'd rather pull the carriage."
"That is my carriage, so you can't pull it." I didn't know if she really couldn't let someone else pull it, or if she was childishly rebuffing Filo.
Maybe she really was just like Filo but was pretending to be really important.
"Filo… don't be selfish. Respect what Fitoria says." Shirou said as he patted her head affectionately.
"Okay!" she said with a smile.
Filo calmed down and turned into her human form.
What was with them? Whatever. We all climbed into Fitoria's strangely gorgeous carriage.
The interior was more spacious than I'd expected. But… I guess we were going to start traveling by carriage.
We were surrounded by a vast herd of filolials. If we weren't careful, we'd be spotted soon enough. I guess Fitoria had cast a force field over us though, so that should keep people away.
If Motoyasu realized that I was in the carriage, he'd come chasing after it—no doubt about that.
"Portal…" Fitoria stepped in front of the carriage and took the reins before shouting something.
When she yelled, the scenery around us instantly changed.
"Wh… What's happening?!"
"Haven't seen this since my fight with Medea…"
What the hell? This girl clearly had some impressive powers.
"Did we move?"
Games often provide the player with a magical form of transport that will allow them to teleport to places they have already been. Most famous games seem to have them… I guess they were part of this world too. And yet… If I hadn't heard of it yet, then it must be pretty rare.
The Legendary Filolial… Yeah, maybe she did have reason to claim that title.
"We should be able to talk safely here." We climbed down from the carriage and took in our surroundings. It was dark, which made it hard to pick out much, but we seemed to be in the forest.
Was it some kind of village in the forest? No… Ruins?
It appeared to be a destroyed castle.
There were stones laid out in lines and buried in the dirt, and here and there stone houses poked out of the gloom. Plants had grown over everything, and the size and extent of the root systems meant that these things must have been here for a while.
Further out, and the forest had taken over.
There was a thick white fog over everything, which limited how far we could see. Vines and shrubbery covered everything, as far as I could see. I couldn't discern a way out.
"Where are we?"
"This is the country that the original Heroes fought to protect, or the ruins of it anyway. That's what they say."
"That's a vague answer."
"Well, it's been here since before I was born. I try to watch over it."
"Do you live here, Fitoria?" Melty's eyes were sparkling again.
"About half the time. My real home is… well… I don't take people there."
"Probably the forest."
"It's so ooooold!"
"You can really feel the history."
"Tell me how you really feel."
Saying it's old, or that you feel the history here… Filo and Raphtalia were apparently really sharing the experience. As for me, the fog was so thick that I really didn't know.
She didn't really "lead" us here, after all. She'd just transported us. How convenient. How were we supposed to get back?
"Hey, since you just transported us here, I was wondering if you could teleport us to a specific place when it's time to leave."
With any luck we could get Motoyasu off our tail for good. Or even better, we could find asylum in the demi-human kingdom without needing to rely on Melty's mother.
"You just got here, and you're asking about how to leave?"
"It doesn't seem like the kind of place we should hang around."
"What?!" Melty shouted in disappointment.
What was that all about? Did she want to hang out with the filolials THAT badly?
I wanted to keep this as short as we could. We were just visiting. That's all.
"For the time being, you should try and get some rest."
Fitoria raised her hand, and a filolial appeared from the fog tugging a carriage loaded down with firewood. She set it on fire, making a large bonfire.
That was a good idea, and we probably didn't need to worry about attracting enemies. The woods didn't seem to be populated by anything more vicious than a filolial.
Since the filolials had invited us here and asked us to rest, there was probably nothing worth worrying about.
Night was falling too. We should probably talk while we rested.
"Okay. It's definitely better to rest here than where we were before. C'mon everyone. Let's rest up." I said.
"That was a long, tough day."
"Yes, it was… I sure hope that Keel and the others are alright."
"Worrying about it won't help them. If we try to go back to the town they'll catch us for sure."
We all sat down before the campfire and relaxed.
We had piles of Tyrant Dragon Rex meat, and Shirou and I started to prepare it for dinner.
Luckily enough, the well still seemed to be full of water. I checked to make sure it was safe then decided to prepare a stew.
"Let's get some food in our bellies." I said to Raphtalia and the others as I cooked.
Filo stuck her index finger into her mouth and stared greedily at the bubbling pot.
There were less of them due to the teleportation, but the surrounding filolials were looking on hungrily as well.
Dammit. It was hard to eat when everyone was staring at you.
"Naofumi-sama. It's hard to eat with everyone looking at us."
"Yeah, me too."
"Huh? You think so?" Raphtalia and Melty felt the same way I did. They cradled their bowls and looked around nervously.
Filo was just greedily slurping down her food without a thought.
"You want some food too?"
"Well, we don't have enough food to feed you at the size you were earlier."
"That's all right."
All I'd done is offer Fitoria some food, but the surrounding filolials started gawking in response.
"Be quiet." All of them fell silent at Fitoria's reproof but they kept staring on with oppressive determination.
"This is delicious!"
Ugh. Now Filo was staring at me with that look in her eyes. She and Fitoria were like two peas in a pod.
They were different colors though, so I suppose that was proof they weren't related.
With Melty next to them, they could have all been sisters. They were pretty enough. I could have painted a picture of them.
Raphtalia had better manners than any of them. She was more dignified.
Melty was dignified too, but she shared something with the ravenous filolials that made me want to lump them all together.
"What?" Melty made a face and glared at me.
"Were you thinking rude thoughts again?" Raphtalia half asked, half stated.
"That means yes, doesn't it?"
"I was thinking that those two make you look a little unrefined. You should pick your friends better."
"What was that?!" There she went again. She could be so noisy.
"Now, now… I was…"
Raphtalia paused in the middle of her sentence to look around at all the filolials. They stared back.
I couldn't ignore them either. I felt like the food was going to get caught in my throat. It was starting to get annoying.
"This is getting so annoying! Can't we just make a really big pot of it? I'll make whatever they want, just bring me some tools!"
Shirou sighed as he traced a huge pot.
In the end, I couldn't endure their incessant stares, so we made a giant pot of soup and let them go at it.
All in all, it took a few hours.
Before they'd all finished eating, Raphtalia, Filo, and Melty had all fallen asleep. I was exhausted from all the cooking.
I was cleaning up the dishes and complaining to myself about why I had to spend my time feeding a bunch of birds when Fitoria came over to me.
"What do you want? There isn't any left."
"I know that."
"Oh. Okay then. What do you want? Can't it wait until morning?" I wanted to get some rest.
Huh? Melty and Filo were leaning against some fluffy filolials and sleeping soundly.
How convenient. It must be nice to get some sleep while someone else does all the work. She was clearly accustomed to living the royal life.
"I was thinking the same thing. But the timing is right, so I'd like to talk a little."
"What is it?"
"I'd like to know how the sealed monster came to be released."
"Huh? So you came without knowing that?"
"No… I came because I'd been given a report that a new queen candidate had appeared."
"A queen candidate? You mean Filo?"
"Can I ask you one thing?"
It was a suspicion that had been growing on me ever since Filo had hatched.
"Why does Filo grow so differently than other filolials?" Fitoria had said that she was a queen candidate. That's why I thought that she might have known the answer.
"Because she's being raised by a Hero."
I suspected as much. Filo clearly looked different from other filolials, and she could even transform into a person. It was because I was raising her?
"I've answered your question. Now answer mine."
"I don't know how much I can tell you. How much do you know about me?"
"I know that you are a Hero that was summoned here because of the waves. I know that you are considered the religious enemy of Melromarc, a human-supremacist nation."
"Oh…" Had she learned all of that through word-of-mouth from the other filolials?
I didn't know just how well filolials were capable of communicating with one another, but I wouldn't have guessed that they were so good at gathering and transmitting information.
"I'm not all-powerful, you know. I forget things a lot."
"You said it, not me. So anyway…" I explained everything about how the Tyrant Dragon Rex had come to be freed from the sealing stone.
Then I started telling her about myself. I told her how I'd been summoned, then framed and discriminated against. I told her about all the major events that had happened up until now.
"….Whew." Fitoria sighed deeply.
"I just get exhausted when I hear of the stupid things the Heroes are occupying themselves with, considering that the waves of destruction are what they should be focusing on."
"It's not me. It's them."
"I don't care about that. I just have to carry out the task entrusted to me by my old master… the Hero."
"From my perspective, the little fights between humans and demi-humans are irrelevant. The world does not exist just for people. Even still, I cannot stand to see the Heroes quarrel. When the Heroes fight, I can't achieve what my master entrusted to me."
"And what is that?" I guess she meant that a hero from the past had asked her to do on what she'd just said, I guess I couldn't expect Fitoria to intervene in the battle between humans and demi-humans any time soon.
"It sounds like you're saying you don't plan on teaming up, but that you feel like you have to help me because I'm a hero."
"That's right. Both the humans and I are in the midst of a very long conflict. A long time ago I decided not to participate. I decided that I would only associate with my tribe, the filolials."
What would a long-living monster like this filolial think of humans? How would she use them?
For convenience? No—if there was a stronger power, a power they couldn't understand, they'd try to get rid of it.
At first they might try worshiping it or something.
Could it be that she'd grown tired of authority and renounced the world so that she could live with her filolials in the woods? She might pretend to be a normal filolial and just travel around.
Before Melty had fallen asleep, she kept talking about how she'd met Fitoria before. She was clearly very proud of herself.
It sounded like Fitoria was standing back to watch the way that normal filolials interacted with humans—something like that anyway.
"Do the four Holy Heroes know? About the hourglasses? I've been covering the area entrusted to me, but the four Heroes aren't doing their part elsewhere."
"Hourglasses? I know about those."
Yes, Shirou reported to me that in other places there were other dragon era hourglasses, so the wave was not exclusive to Melromarc.
"Then why aren't you participating in the waves?"
What was going on? I was getting a bad feeling. A strong one.
I knew that there were dragon hourglasses in other countries too.
Could it be… Was she saying that waves in other countries came at different times?
"What are you talking about?"
All I knew was that the waves came about once every month.
If they were happening all over the world, I don't think I'd be able to do much about that.
You'd think that the other countries would try to build up their defenses, so that they wouldn't need to depend on the heroes for protection. Oh well.
I assumed that one of the past heroes must have asked Fitoria to see to that.
But now she was upset that the summoned heroes weren't fully devoting their energies to battling the waves?
"I'm not like the other heroes. I may have been summoned here, but I don't know anything about anything. No one explained anything to me. I just found out there were hourglasses in other places the other day."
"Very well. I understand. I have another question."
"I feel an ominous power coming from the Shield. Have you used the Curse Series?"
"You sure know your stuff." She really was the stuff of legends. She even knew about the Curse Series. She knew about the Shield of Wrath.
"I understand that the Curse Series is very powerful, but it asks for much in return. Eventually it will consume you. You mustn't use it."
"But there are battles I cannot win without using it. I've been able to control it so far, so I think I'm okay, I also got a boon with another shield that helps me keep a cold head when using it."
It was true. There had been a number of battles that I wouldn't have been able to win if I hadn't used the Shield of Wrath. She was right that it asked for a lot in return, but I figured I'd be all right if I was able to control it.
As long as Raphtalia and Shirou were with me, I should be able to fight off my rage should Svalin was not enough..
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah." Fitoria reached out and touched my shield. She shut her eyes.
"The cursed Shield will, one day, overpower the Shield Hero's strength. The dragon's consciousness entered the Shield when its core was absorbed. It must not be used near the person that killed a dragon—or the rage will become too powerful to control."
The Shield of Wrath had grown stronger after absorbing the dragon's core. Did that mean that it absorbed the dragon's anger too?
If that was why the shield had grown so powerful, then who was the person that it hated? Who was the person that had killed it?
Could it be Ren? The Sword Hero had killed the dragon.
So what Fitoria was saying was that I shouldn't use the Shield of Wrath when Ren was around? That, if I did, the power would get out of control?
I had fought with Ren recently, but I'd maintained plenty of distance. And Ren hadn't really been trying to fight me anyway.
Was that why nothing had happened? Or could it be that the shield had tried to take over, but it wasn't powerful enough to control me?
"But if I want to survive the battles to come, I might have to use it."
I understood that it was dangerous. But if I wasn't able to protect people without using it, then what choice did I have?
After the waves ended and the world was restored to peace, I planned on going back to my own world.
It was easy to say that the shield was dangerous and that I shouldn't use it—but there were times when I had no choice.
"Very well. Allow me to change the subject."
"It doesn't look like you agree with me."
She nodded. I guess she didn't agree but was ready to move the conversation to the next topic.
"The world is in great turmoil because of the waves. Why are the Heroes fighting among themselves?"
"It's not my fault. It's them—and the country. They framed me and are discriminating against me."
"I've heard the basics. They are irrelevant. The Heroes do not have time to spend on such trivial matters."
"Such high ideals."
"I've been charged with the protection of the world. But I cannot do it alone. I cannot do it without the Heroes."
After all the power she'd just showed off? Was she sure she couldn't save the world from the waves?
From what I'd seen, she was already much more powerful than Itsuki, Ren, or Motoyasu.
She still wasn't powerful enough to save the world.
Or maybe she was saying that she wouldn't be able to do so forever.
Did that mean that the heroes could still become much more powerful? More powerful than she already was?
I guess they were still heroes, even if they were rotten to the core. If the heroes weren't inherently useful, I suppose these countries wouldn't go through all the trouble of summoning them from another world.
"Honestly, the affairs of humans do not concern me. How they fight… what they fight… But the Heroes are different."
Fitoria silently shook her head. "It happened… so long ago, so long ago that I can't really remember. All I remember is that I cannot permit the Heroes to fight among themselves."
She forgot the very thing she is so upset about?
Well, she was a filolial, after all. I couldn't expect her to be some kind of genius with a photographic memory. Just look at Filo.
But she still remembered it. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something felt very wrong.
I had felt a strange pressure coming from Fitoria for a little while.
It was then from behind her Shirou appeared with the ying yang swords and had them like scissors on her neck.
"If you try to harm him… I will kill you," Shirou said.
His eyes were hard and cold, I had never seen that look on him.
Fitoria stifled up when he heard his voice and noted the blades on her neck.
"I have heard enough, he did not ask to be a hero, he was taken against his will to fight a battle not his own, being ridiculed, framed for a crime he did not commit, and the government had attempted to cripple his growth, and yet you have the audacity to say those things? There is a limit to the amount of foolishness and selfishness I can tolerate." Shirou said as his blades began to dig deeper.
"You would damn the world to protect a single person?" Fitoria asked.
Damn the world for the sake of another.
The me that I have become would not, however…
"I will not allow Sakura to die!"
Being swallowed by the curses of the Grail mud and being reborn in a new body made by Aozaki.
"No… I would do it for a friend" I said. "This is not our world, nor is this his fight, whether he fights or not is up to him, yet you expect him to fight without an incentive and threaten him with death should he not comply, what a contemptible creature you are."
The girl sighed. "I suppose I earned this talk to, you are indeed correct, however my mission has not changed in the slightest, if need to, I will simply remove you."
"Then how about a compromise?" I asked.
She tilted her head sideways.
Well she understood the precarious situation she was in.
You see, Kanshou and Bakuya had anti-monsters properties, for all the talk of her being a bird God, she was a filolial, ergo a monster.
"You said you believe him to not be qualified, that the other heroes should work in harmony, then how about a test?" I offered.
"A test, yes I see…" she said pondering on it. "Very well, I have decided… the test will be held tomorrow, rest easy, nothing shall harm you" she said as she disappeared into the fog.
"Are you sure this was such a good idea?" Naofumi asked.
"We are not dead… right?" I said.
"For now… we don't know what that loon will think of" Naofumi said worried.
"I can make an educated guess." I said.
Naofumi glanced at me, as though suggesting I continue. "She said she was looking for the filolial queen candidate right?" I said.
I could see the exact moment in Naofumi's eyes when he realized that the test they would be put through was a test of how he raised Filo.
Everyone's lives now rested on Filo's shoulders.
"Damn it!" Naofumi growled.
Meanwhile, I began making preparations in the event Filo failed. While her skills are great, she will be put up against a trial set by a royal beast. And when the alternative is fighting a murderous bird god unprepared, my confidence in Filo will just have to be set aside.
The next morning
Shirou had woken up earlier than us
He was using some of his rations to make some breakfast, long with so.e rice and the like… he made a rather hearty breakfast, Fitoria and Filo ate enough to satiate them and with the leftover dragon meat he made something like karaage for the herd.
Fitoria was talking to Melty, about old stories of the heroes and her own adventures. It was then when it happened.
I figured that Fitoria was probably powerful enough to teleport us all to wherever the queen was. I'd have to find a way to convince her to help us though.
"Okay… now then." Fitoria rose to her feet and began to cast a spell on Melty. The wind rose and formed a sort of cage around her.
"Wh…what is this?!" Melty grabbed the bars and tried to escape, but they were sharp and cut her hand. A little blood trickled over her finger.
"What are you doing?!" Filo glared angrily at Fitoria.
"Mel-tan, you'll have to be my hostage for now."
"…" Fitoria didn't answer but continued to glare at us. The air was crackling with tension.
Was this… Was this the continuation of what she'd been talking about last night? Was she going to kill us… and then go kill the other heroes too? We should probably assume so. "Wait… could this be part of the test?"
"Melty!" Raphtalia shouted for Melty.
Damn… did we have to fight that giant filolial here? I couldn't imagine a way that we could win.
The area was filled with a threatening atmosphere, but it wasn't coming from me.
What choice did I have but to use the Shield of Rage?
"You mustn't use the cursed power."
Light appeared around my shield.
—Due to interference, the shield may not be changed.
…Appeared in my field of vision. It was the same thing that had occurred the day before.
"Please listen to me."
"Why should I listen to someone behaving as you are?"
"If you refuse to listen, I'll have no choice but to kill the rest of the Heroes."
Shirou then laughed, "You are using the wrong way to threaten him, he has no love for the other 3, they left him out to dry, remember? You would be doing him a favor."
Fitoria blinked owlishly.
She looked to the side as if embarrassed.
"Very well then…"
Fitoria raised her index finger and leveled it at Filo.
"Then I demand a duel with the filolial you raised. If she is strong enough then I will release Melty, and offer you a postponement."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You'll figure it out."
What did she want from me?
"I will battle in my current form. Filo, I ask that you also fight me in this form."
They had to fight in human form? Filo might stand a chance after all… considering the combat training she took with Shirou and the fact that she had been diligently practicing ever since had made her much more skilled.
Had they fought in their true forms, Filo didn't stand a chance. But if they were both humans, maybe Filo could win. Luckily enough, we had a weapon that Filo could use when she was in human form.
"Okay!" Filo reached behind the wings on her back and produced the power gloves.
The old guy who ran the weapon shop had originally made them for me so that I could pull the carriage if I needed to. But Filo's magic had turned them into something more like claws. They'd served us well the last time we'd gotten into a scuffle with Motoyasu. And yet…
"Hey! Don't just start whenever you want."
"Yes, Filo. You should do as Naofumi-sama says."
"If you don't fight, then everyone will die. We don't really have a choice."
"Filo, come here" Shirou called her.
"Uhmmm? What is it uncle Shirou?" She asked.
"Let me see your gauntlets" he said.
She raised her hands up to him.
"Trace… on. Structural analysis, reinforcement… trace off", he patted her on the head and smiled. "Use everything I taught you, ok? Don't hold back."
"UMU! I will uncle Shirou!" she exclaimed before getting serious.
I dashed out at full speed towards Fitoria, who was not expecting my speed to be quite that.
I opened up by trying to deliver a powerful blow with my knees to her stomach, she jumped over and used it to propel herself up.
I quickly dashed half a step as she landed, continuing to attack her with my knees, her hands looked a bit red as I continued.
It was when she threw a powerful kick.
I quickly dropped on all fours, and when she noticed that she had missed I put my hands on the ground and quickly spun, delivering many kicks, she grunted as she blocked the final one that was to hit her on the base of the neck. Uncle Shirou told me that if you want to end a fight fast, that would be the best place to attack.
Fitoria then attacked me, she used her magic to create claws that ripped my clothes a bit… that made me mad!
"Hey! This cost Filo a lot of work!" I said as I jumped high.
I tensed my toes and enveloped my feet with wind magic.
Like a powerful beak, each of my kicks was strong enough to render even armor.
Fitoria winced in pain
"HAAAAA!" I continued for over 20 kicks and when the final one came I used it to make distance between us
She was looking at me seriously now, she was looking at my legs now.
"Show the enemy an attack that they can't ignore, but make sure it is not your strongest card… when they least expect it, use it to deliver to most devastating blow to end the fight"
That was what uncle Shirou said and I decided to follow it.
She was blocking my kicks before I was able to fully extend my legs, decreasing it's damage output, as she landed a few solid hits on me. I gasped for air as a few got me good.
We were both running out of stamina and we both looked like something a cat dragged in… or rather like we all looked like after training with uncle Shirou.
We exchanged attacks as we were all over the place, moving so fast that Raphtalia-oneechan's skirt flipped a bit.
Uncle Shirou and Naofumi-sama had to defend onee-chan as our running around and hitting each other caused shockwaves.
I got a punch on her face, she got a punch on mine, I got a hit on her shoulder and she on my chest.
Our attacks made a lot of loud noises and a few trees got blown away.
I was certain of something…. This is not her full power.
She then got suuuuper close to me as to not let me use my legs to full power.
"Caught you!" I said with a smirk.
My fist was on her chest, then collected all the wind magic on my elbow and pushed it with it as fast as I could. It was like a drill.
"Don't think about hitting her chest, but way further, deeper, further!"
The attack connected!
Fitoria was send flying back a couple yards, some spit flew out as she rolled on the ground, her breathing hard due to the hit being in a place called the diaphragmnu? It was a hard word.
Anyways I rushed up to her and landed the last blow right next to her head.
She rolled back and stood up, she looked a bit dizzy as she held her chest.
She sighed in resignation.
"Do you understand? The test is over." Fitoria said.
"Test?" Filo asked quizzically.
"Just a little one. I have my own situations to deal with also."
"Oh yeah?" Filo didn't immediately trust her but turned her head to the side as she listened to Fitoria.
They'd just been locked in battle, but all the tension seemed to have evaporated.
"Filo, she was just testing you." Raphtalia and I walked closer and tried to explain.
"Yes… It was a test. But I did truly intend to do as I'd said if she didn't come through." Fitoria explained simply.
I didn't know why she felt like she had to do this. But, because of the fight with Fitoria, Filo had learned some great experience for fighting in human form.
"Filo, you have to think about your opponent. If you fight against humans when you are in filolial form, it's like fighting with a giant target on your back." Shirou said as he patted her gently, he laughed and looked at him.
It was true that Filo was very large in her filolial form. Even if she could move very quickly, it made for a bigger target when facing a powerful enemy.
Also, when she fought in her filolial form she basically had to make all of her attacks into kicks.
It wasn't that she couldn't use magic or rush attacks, but it would be best to think about what kind of opponent she was facing. Fitoria was trying to get Filo to notice that there were other ways to fight.
It would be useful to switch tactics in the middle of a fight anyway. It could confuse the enemy.
So basically, Fitoria told Filo that she should stay flexible about her options—and she taught her some new moves.
"This is proof that you have passed my test." Fitoria said, and pulled out a tiara. She gave it to Filo.
"What? What's this?"
"It's your reward for passing my test. Now lower your head."
"Filo, you're supposed to go like this." Melty grabbed Filo's sleeve and pulled her down into a bow.
Would you look at that? Melty was acting very princess-like for a change.
"Yes, that's it."
Filo was bowing before Fitoria, who placed the tiara on her head.
"Filo, you will be my heir."
"It means that you will be the next great Queen of the Filolials."
"Filo! Good for you!" Melty was so excited. She jumped up and down. Filo didn't seem so excited herself.
Suddenly the tiara on Filo's head twinkled and shined. It sent light out in all directions, and then…
Ping! A single cowlick appeared on Filo's head. One strand of hair stuck straight up.
"…" Raphtalia and I were both silent. Was that some kind of prize?
"Filo! You're so cute!" Melty was very excited and was practically dancing in place… But Filo didn't seem to understand what was happening.
Melty hadn't noticed.
Wait a second. I considered myself a real Otaku. Did that mean I was supposed to get excited by this cowlick?
Nope… I wasn't feeling it.
"What happened?" Firo asked
"Well…" I pointed to Filo's head, and Filo herself followed my gaze. She reached up and…
"What's that? There's something weird on my head!" Filo screamed and nearly jumped. She grabbed the clump of hair and…
"Wh?!" She pulled it right off.
Filo was really something. It looked like it must have really hurt.
"Ouch!" It must have hurt, but Filo seemed proud of herself for getting rid of it.
But after she'd torn it off, another strand of hair popped up to take its place.
"What?!" Filo's eyes filled with tears as, time and time again, she ripped the cowlicks off of her head. A new one always popped up to take its place though, and so she eventually gave up and hung her head.
It was a weird little cowlick,
"It'll only keep growing back, so you'd better give up. The more you grow, the more cowlicks you'll have."
"What? But I don't want…" Filo was looking at the cowlicks on Fitoria's head.
What did the Legendary Filolial have in mind by giving something like that to Filo? I decided to have a look at Filo's status screen.
Her stats had improved. It seemed like the tiara had conferred some abilities and status improvements.
Considering that, for the time being anyway, Filo had maxed out her level up potential, it was a good reward.
"And for the Shield Hero…"
"Huh? I get something too?" Fitoria pointed in my direction, then curled her finger up and beckoned for me to come over.
Wait a second. If I walked over there, was she going to give me cowlicks too?
"I don't need a new hairstyle."
"Hairstyle?" I didn't explain further. It would only cause a fuss if I did.
"It's better than that. And it will heal your wounds."
"Well, then…" I didn't know what she was going to give me, but I hoped it wasn't anything too weird.
I probably couldn't have refused anyway, so I walked over to her. She reached out and touched my torso, healing my wounds. I hadn't been able to completely heal them, so there had been a dull pain in the area. She took the pain away.
"Show me your shield." She pointed to the shield and motioned for me to hold it up.
"Like this?" I held the shield up. Fitoria pulled out her cowlick and held it up to the center of the shield. The shield immediately reacted and absorbed the hair.
Filolial Series Forcibly Unlocked!
I checked the tree, and there was a "Filolial Shield" glowing on it.
It had a bunch of equip bonuses that all seemed to benefit filolials, like power and growth adjustment (large, medium, small), detailed growth stat adjustment (large, medium, small), and others.
One that immediately jumped out at me was called Ability While Riding (large, medium, small). It must have meant that Filo would fight better with someone riding on her back.
Still, my level wasn't high enough to use most of the shield's abilities. Luckily the shield was unlocked, so if I just met the requirements I'd be able to use its powers.
It looked like the requirements had been met to unlock any shield related to filolials.
"You are welcome. However I still have something I would like to discuss with you."
"I'd rather talk in private." This was becoming a rather strange reward.
Hey—did this mean that all of the filolial's powers were concentrated into those cowlicks?
Filo couldn't level up anymore, at least for now. So I suppose it was a good thing.
"Um… Uh…" Melty was hesitant, and somewhat embarrassed to speak to Fitoria.
"That was just to test Filo, right? You weren't…using me?"
"Of course not. Isn't there anything you want, Meltan?"
"Um… Can you become a really big filolial and let me ride on your head?" Oddly engaged and passionate, Melty made her request.
"…Very well." Fitoria seemed a little put out, but as she patted Melty on the head, she started to grow larger.
Then she smiled deeply.
"Wow…" Then, just as she'd promised, she set Melty onto her head.
"It's so high up here!" Melty was very excited.
"Shield Hero, please back up a little."
"Okay." I stepped back as I was asked.
And… Fitoria soon grew to be about eighteen meters tall. Just how big could she get? She was like a building.
"Wow! Wow!" Melty's voice came down on the wind. Was it okay to take her so far from the ground?
But seriously, just how big could she get?
Or maybe that was her real size, and she had just transformed to match our size.
"Wow…" Melty seemed very relaxed.
"It's like a dream…"
"Too bad it's not." Filo was powerful enough to defeat a dragon, and that girl had used her like a toy… that wasn't a good sign.
"Now then. The day has only just started. I'd like for you all to get a little more rest."
"Sure—if you'll take us to where we want to go later."
"We'll talk about that later. For the time being, just try to relax. My friends here also extend their greetings."
"What? Celebrate the birth of a new queen? You mean me?"
"Congratulations Filo! Ah, ha, ha! Look how happy the filolials are!" The other filolials all crowded around Filo and lifted her up.
"M…Me?" They had picked up Raphtalia as well.
What was going on? We were suddenly very popular.
We spent the rest of the day with the filolials. It was a festival-like atmosphere. Shirou was on the side making meals for all.
So there we were in seclusion. But once we left, how long would it be until the rest of the world believed in us too?