Act 2 – 23.1 : Black Mist 2
Shirone kept swinging her sword, defeating one zombie after another.
「GEEZ, WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS MIST-LIKE THING! IT EVEN BLOCKED REIJI-KUN’S LIGHT!」
Shirone looked up to the sky. It was already as dark as night but she could still see the sun above the city. However, the sun’s light was blocked by the black mist, which covered the entire kingdom. Since the mist had also blocked the effects of Shirone’s sunlight magic, she had no choice but to apply the magic to her sword.
Shirone was breathing heavily even after not exerting too much effort. She felt that her exhaustion was abnormal.
When she looked around, she saw that Gallios and the other Freedom Fighters were fighting the zombies too. Without them, the zombies might’ve already entered the main street.
（Even though it was an emergency situation, it was thanks to the Freedom Fighters’ early appearance that the damage was insignificant. And yet, the soldiers and the knights of this kingdom have yet to arrive. Did something happen in the royal castle?）
Shirone wanted to confirm the situation in the royal castle but she had to do something about the swarms of zombies before her. Her sword tore apart every zombie who dared to get close to her, and with Gallios and his subordinates’ help, they managed to somehow stop the zombies from advancing any further.
However, the zombies kept coming one after another, their numbers infinitely increasing, it was only a matter of time before they reached their limit.
In fact, zombies were but small fry and Shirone alone should have been enough to deal with all of them. But, she felt abnormally powerless right now, and that caused impatience to grow in Shirone’s heart.
「Is this the effect of this black mist…? Could it be that we’re in an extremely dangerous situation right now?」
Reiji, who had arrived in the royal castle, quickly defeated the Temple Knights. However, he held back from killing them because he realized from their movements that they were brainwashed by the mastermind.
Reiji might be strict towards men, but it didn’t mean that he would go as far as killing the innocent amongst them, even more so when his opponents were Rena’s knights. Thus he held back even when the other party attacked him with killing intent.
Almina called his name with a delighted look on her face upon seeing Reiji’s appearance, he was the same man who had once saved her when she was offered as a sacrifice for the Striges. Moreover, the same exact thing was happening now, yet he was still the one who came to save her again from the Strige’s clutches of death.
Just like before, he would protect her with everything he had.
「Amazing… to be able to beat Lucullus-dono and co that easily. It’s vexing but… I’m no match for him.」
Someone groaned in frustration upon seeing the scene of Reiji beating Lucullus and the other Temple Knights so easily. According to Reiji’s memory, it was the knight called Rember. Despite his injury, he was still praising Reiji’s strength. Rember understood that he had failed as a knight when he failed to protect Almina.
「Well then, there’s only you left.」
Reiji pointed his sword toward the Strige. He knew from Nao that this Strige was none other than pharmacist Orua. Since he had already defeated the Temple Knights, she was the only one left along with a soldier in full plate armor, who stood next to her.
「As expected of the Hero. Normal humans can’t win against you. I’ll leave him to you then, Zagbar-sama.」
At Orua’s command, the warrior beside her stepped forward. He wore a helmet that hid his face, but Reiji knew from the miasma released from his body that the warrior before him was not human.
「Well then, you play with Zagbar.」
The warrior called Zagbar then unsheathed the great sword on his back, which was clad in ominous-red aura. Several human skull images floated on its polished, mirror-like sword blade, and then vanished a moment later.
「I see, it’s not just you, you’re colluding with someone else too, huh. But, I won’t lose against the likes of you.」
Reiji readied his sword.
「I know your strength, Hero. But, you should’ve already felt… ITS effect. Now here’s a question, how long can you survive under the effects of the Great Death God’s barrier?」
Reiji tilted his head upon hearing Zagbar’s words.
「Effects? What are you talking about?」
「I’m referring to this black mist! This black mist will make any living being inside it lose their power. The only exception is the bearer of black flames and the one blessed by the Death God himself. As for you, you should’ve realized that you’re starting to lose your power.」
Reiji was really surprised upon hearing that remark. Looking back at it, he finally realized that his movements and power indeed seemed to be duller than usual.
Almina called his name in worry since she also realized his strange state.
「Don’t worry, Almina! I’ll be able to bring him to his knees easily!」
Reiji spoke to Almina with a strong tone to make her feel at ease. But, that didn’t change the fact that Zagbar was far more powerful than Lucullus.
（But, I won’t lose. I’m the Hero of Light after all.）
Reiji flashed a daring smile as he made such a resolve.
◆Black Haired Sage; Chiyuki
「To think that there’s an underground passage hidden beneath this kingdom.」
Chiyuki muttered as she walked along the passage.
When investigating the black mist with Nao’s ability, Chiyuki discovered this underground passage right beside the royal palace. Though the entrance gate was usually shut off, it was wide open right now, so Chiyuki guessed that Nao might’ve entered the passage too.
Upon entering the passage, the dark invading it limited her viewing distance.
「Nevertheless, it seems I consumed more mana than I expected.」
Chiyuki felt that her mana was draining at a fast rate just by using illumination magic to light up the dark passage she walked along.
（This might be the effects of the black mist that is covering this kingdom. I have to hurry and find Nao-san…）
Chiyuki judged that her current situation was caused by none other than the black mist that covered the kingdom. From there, she could guess the vast amount of mana the caster of the black mist had.
After walking for a while, she discovered a door in the middle of the passage. She guessed that Nao might be on the other side of that door.
After she opened the door, she arrived in a big room.
Though not much, the room, unlike the passage, was still dimly lit with the help of a couple of small lamps. Chiyuki scanned through the room, her eyes catching the figure of Nao, who had collapsed in the middle of the room.
Chiyuki rushed over to Nao.
「HANG IN THERE, NAO-SAN!!!」
Nao replied to her with a frail voice, which was rather unusual for a lively girl like her.
Though she was still alive, her face was pale and her usual liveliness was gone.
「Who did this to you Nao-san?」
Chiyuki couldn’t hide her shock. Nao was the most agile member in their party. No one from this world could beat her agility. But now, the one who was always hard to pursue, catch, and beat down, was lying on the floor almost lifeless.
「No, Chiyuki-san… you mustn’t touch Nao…」
Nao warned Chiyuki.
Upon a closer look, Chiyuki saw black briar coiling around Nao’s body. She guessed that the briar might be created with magic and was the reason why Nao couldn’t move.