Act 2 – 18.1 : Striges’ Tower 3
Since the Striges were members of the winged demon tribe, they didn’t actually need the entrance at the base of the tower. The only reason they created an entrance at the base of the tower was to allow their prey, the humans, to enter the tower.
According to the story Kuroki heard from Rember, several countries around the tower— including Rox Kingdom—had once formed a coalition force to challenge the tower, but no one had ever returned. Some had died after their blood had been sucked dry by the Striges while others had died in battle and turned into undead.
The inside of the tower itself was extremely dangerous due to the existence of numerous monsters and traps to kill any intruder.
（Even though everyone should be safe as long as Shirone and I are still around, I can’t let my guard down.）
Kuroki looked at Gallios and the others.
Though Kuroki could literally speedrun the tower with ease, such a thing was impossible for Gallios and the other Freedom Fighters, natives of this world.
They had to be very careful in order to avoid any fatal injury.
「Which reminds me, why are you hiding your face, Kuro-dono?」
Suddenly, Rember asked an extremely important question.
Although there were various reasons for that, Kuroki’s top priority right now was to hide his identity from Shirone.
But of course, he couldn’t use that as an answer.
So, Kuroki racked his brain to find the most suitable answer to deceive Rember.
「Well you see, Rember, actually…」
Gallios then came closer to Rember and whispered something to the latter with a wide grin on his face.
「I see, so that’s the reason, huh. That’s quite a surprise, Kuro-dono.」
Rember spoke to Kuroki, smiling lightly, after hearing the truth from Gallios.
「W-WHAT DID YOU TELL HIM JUST NOW?!」
Kuroki loudly exclaimed after seeing Gallios’ teasing smile. However, despite his protests, Kuroki still felt a bit relieved as, thanks to Gallios, he had managed to deceive Rember. Well, it didn’t matter, he couldn’t remember what happened last night for some reason anyway.
「My bad Kuro. Well, let’s get going.」
「My apologies too, Kuro-dono. We’re falling behind Shirone-sama.」
The two apologized while grinning at Kuroki.
Kuroki had no choice but to accept Gallios’ story to hide his real intention.
The inside of the tower was spacious and dark. Such a thing wasn’t a big deal for Kuroki who had night vision to aid him. However, unlike him, Gallios and the others couldn’t see anything without a source of light.
Though their only magician, Nimri, could illuminate the path with his magic, it wasn’t bright enough to illuminate a wide area. As such, Gallios, Rember, and the men following them couldn’t help but fall behind, squinting as much as they can to search for the traps and monsters ahead of them.
On the other hand, Shirone kept advancing forward at full speed without even caring about the others’ pace.
「Rember. This tower is still a scary place even without the Striges living in it. Are you sure we can let that young lady go ahead on her own?」
Gallios looked at Shirone who was walking ahead of the party.
「There’s no need to worry. Shirone-sama is far more powerful than all of us.」
Shirone’s appearance was that of a cute girl, the exact opposite of the image of "strong" Gallios had in mind. He couldn’t help but worry about her.
「Shirone-sama is a magic swordsman who is both skilled in the sword and magic. In addition, while weaker than her peers, she can use sunlight magic, healing magic, and spirit magic. Even if all of us worked together to beat her, she would still emerge victorious with ease. That’s why there is no need to worry about her, Shirone-sama won’t fall into any predicament.」
Rember explained to the others.
「Nimri-sensei, please focus on illuminating our surroundings, Stor, make sure that there’s nothing dangerous around us. The people behind, protect those two from the side.」
The vanguard was the same person as the day before yesterday, Steros, while Kuroki acted as the rear guard. At first, someone else was assigned the vanguard; however, later on Steros requested this position. While others seemed to praise him for his bravery, Kuroki knew better of the reason he chose this position. It was probably his impure desire to see Shirone’s exposed back as she fought in front of him.
Her attire today was normal, but Kuroki understood Steros’ desire very well. In fact, all men would understand after seeing the suggestive attire that Reiji’s party members wore yesterday.
Naturally, Kuroki would do everything to stop Steros if he tried to do something funny to Shirone.
Steros hadn’t realized yet that death would await him if he made a wrong move.
Shirone suddenly halted in her place.
「There’s something in there.」
Steros, who walked behind Shirone, told everyone to stop after noticing that there was something in front of Shirone.
Though Gallios and co’s eyes couldn’t see that "something", Kuroki, who could see in the darkness, noticed figures approaching them.
They were zombies, moreover, they seemed to be former humans since they were armed.
Most probably, they belonged to the failed subjugation’s team. There were five of them approaching.
Shirone’s palm emitted a dazzling light as she shouted the name of the spell.
It was sunlight magic.
The light of that magic had the same properties as the sun, it could annihilate the undead.
Touched by the beams of light, the zombies started to dissolve, their bodies releasing smoke as soon as they were exposed to the sunlight, and vanished a few seconds later, leaving only their clothes and weapons behind.
「Wow, instant kill.」
Nimri praised Shirone.
The undead were rather troublesome opponents to defeat as they couldn’t feel any pain and, of course, never died, which rendered most weapons useless against them. The only thing that could affect them was sunlight.
Moreover, some zombies retained the abilities they learnt when they were still alive, which made them even more troublesome and harder to deal with. For example, the zombies that just got annihilated a few seconds ago showed signs of being able to wield swords and shields. If Gallios or the others fought those zombies, it would become a close call to victory
That’s just how big the difference is when fighting the undead without a magician.
「Defeating them with magic isn’t interesting at all.」
But, Shirone was dissatisfied.
「Another batch is coming!!」
Stor shouted to warn his comrades.
This time, more than ten zombies came towards them.
The zombies came en masse as soon as they entered the tower.
But, Gallios and the others weren’t worried at all since sunlight magic could annihilate those zombies in an instant.
And yet, Shirone pulled out her sword as she headed towards the crowd of zombies.
「EH, NOT SUNLIGHT MAGIC?!?!」
Kuroki exclaimed in surprise.
After Shirone’s shout, flames coiled around her sword.
Fire blade was a spell that enchanted a weapon with the fire element. It was really effective against opponents who were weak against fire.
That was Shirone’s, the magic-swordswoman, prided technique.
Shirone raised her sword as she charged toward the zombies, and sliced them apart with her flame sword.
Gallios let out a dumbfounded voice.
「Fire should be less effective against the undead compared to sunlight and yet…」
Even Nimri couldn’t help but be dumbfounded by it.
The reason why zombies were regarded as difficult opponents was because once you burnt off their flesh, they would become skeleton zombies, and once you smashed their skeletons, they would turn into ghosts— zombies with ethereal bodies.
Normal weapons couldn’t do anything against an ethereal body, the only way to defeat an enemy with an ethereal body was using an enchanted weapon.
Shirone’s sword that released blue light was one of those enchanted weapons. On top of its normal damage power, her fire elemental spell made it so her sword could slice through a zombie’s flesh, bone, and ghost forms in one fell swoop.
Shirone’s terrifying might annihilated the zombies in a matter of seconds.
Gallios and co were left in awe upon seeing her combat prowess from close by.
Amongst them, Kuroki was the only one who was desperately holding himself back from retorting with a "WHY AIN’T CHA USING SUNLIGHT?!".
「Well, let’s get going!」
Shirone turned around with a refreshed look on her face.
Seeing that face, Kuroki and the others could only look at her with an indescribable feeling in their heart.
But, Shirone just walked ahead, ignoring the look on their faces.
After that, their investigation squad advanced quickly until the middle of the tower thanks to Shirone’s active role as their vanguard.
Naturally, whether it was a giant spider or a swarm of bats, or even a vampire, none of those undead could match Shirone’s strength.
All monsters that were blocking their way got annihilated by Shirone.
Naturally, they ran into traps too, but Shirone destroyed all of those traps with brute force.
The flying arrows trap was sliced apart even before it arrived in front of her. She simply used her flight magic to escape the pitfall trap. She stopped the falling ceiling trap with one hand.
「This miss is way too amazing Rember… seriously, the Hero’s wives are seriously strong.」
Gallios muttered in amazement.
「Yeah, I feel the same. I saw how amazing Hero-sama’s power was before, but I never expected his wives to be this powerful too.」
Just like Gallios, Nimri gave his praise too.
Even though Shirone’s show of power didn’t seem to be that special in Kuroki’s eyes, the same couldn’t be said for the others.
（Moreover, like hell I can overlook the fact that they’re calling Shirone "Reiji’s wife".）
Kuroki couldn’t help but ponder about that matter. She was treated as one of Reiji’s women back in Japan, and that fact didn’t seem to change even in this world. Upon realizing that, Kuroki’s motivation to protect Gallios and the others took a nosedive.
（As I thought, should I go trim the dragon king’s horn immediately? That way, I’ll get a beautiful woman like Rena even faster.）
Kuroki’s heart beat faster for some reason when he recalled Rena’s face.
（Rena’s actions have been in my mind. Good grief, just what in the world is she thinking about?）
Shirone suddenly stopped her gait while Kuroki was wondering about Rena’s plan.
「Is something the matter, Shirone-sama?」
Seeing Shirone suddenly stop for no reason, Rember couldn’t help but ask her.
Shirone was looking at the door in front of her.
It was a door with a rather bizarre ornament.
The air around that door was different from the one they saw so far.