Chapter 6 : Behemoth
[Traum is German for Dream]
* * *
On both sides of the bridge, a magical formation that emitted crimson light appeared. The magic circle on the aisle side is close to 10 m. The one on the stairs side is around 1 m, but the numbers are numerous.
From the smaller countless magic circles came monsters that were sword-toting skeletons, these were called “Traum Soldier”. Their eyes were the same color as the magic circle, it sparkled and shine while they looked around. 100 Traum Soldier have already been summoned and yet the numbers were still increasing.
Even though there were so many skeleton Soldiers on this side, the other side’s monster was what caused Hajime’s danger sense to go haywire. From the 10 m magical circle, a quad pedal demon 10 m long with some sort of helmet on its head, spawned from it. If compared to any animal Hajime knew of, the closest would be a Triceratops. However, it’s eyes shone crimson, while percussing it’s sharp claws and fangs, flames gathered around the horns on its helmet.
Meld just whispered out “Behemoth”. At that moment, the Behemoth took a deep breath and let out a deafening roar.
The roar caused Meld’s senses to return, he quickly started to issue commands to everyone.
“Alan! Lead the students to the stair and break through those Traum Soldiers! Kyle, Ivan, Gale! I need you guys to extend the best barriers you can! Stop it! Kouki, hurry and get to the stairs!”
“Wait a moment, Meld-san! We’ll help! That dinosaur-like monster is the most dangerous!? We’ll…”
“Fool! That’s a real Behemoth, at your current strength it’s impossible! It’s a 65th level demon. Once a long time ago, the “Strongest” known adventurer battled it and were unable to defeat it. Hurry up and go! I can’t let you guys die!”
Even Meld’s expression faltered for a moment at the daunting monster in front of him. “I can’t just abandon you guys!” was Kouki’s response as he stood his ground. At the moment when Meld tried to reason with Kouki to retreat, the Behemoth roared and started to charge at them. At this rate, the students who were retreating would get trampled to death.
To prevent it, the strongest of Haihiri’s military spawned multiple full powered barriers.
“””Repel all Malice and Enmity, Absolute Providence from the Son of God, Herein a Sanctuary, You Shall Not Pass, “Absolute Virtue””””
The magical formula for this spell was engraved in the highest quality paper 2 m wide. The incantation having 4 phrases to activate it. 3 of the Warrior’s casted it simultaneously. A barrier manifested that could stop anything for 1 minute. The hemispherical barrier shined pure-white as it stop the Behemoth’s charge.
The moment the Behemoth clashed with the barrier, a shockwave erupted from between them. The whole bridge shook at the shockwave, and everything around the Behemoth’s feet were pulverized. The retreating students scream and tumbled at the artificial quake.
Traum Soldier were monsters that showed up on the 38th level. They were heads above anything they encountered so far. The students panicked as they were sandwiched by a monstrous demon in the back and an eerie army of skeletons in the front.
They advanced reckless, without giving care to keeping rank, and aimed for the stairs. Alan, tried to calm them down desperately, no one listed because of the imminent terror. One of the school girls was pushed from behind and fell down. She groaned as she lifted her head to see before her a Traum soldier brandishing it’s sword.
The soldier swung it’s sword down towards her.
She thought she was going to die at that moment, but suddenly the Traum Solider feet were up heaved. Losing its balance the trajectory of the blade missed the girl and struck the ground instead. Furthermore, the upheaval continued like a wave towards the end of the bridge, tripping up many Traum Soldiers along the way. This caused some of the Soldiers to fall into the abyss.
2m off of the edge of the bridge in a crouched position was Hajime as he exhaled heavily. He was continuously transmuting the ground. Like a ground slide, the monsters on the bridge were guided off into the abyss. Unaware, his proficiency in transmuting got better because he constantly used it. The range of his transmuting also seemed to have increased.
While drinking a mana potion, Hajime quickly approached the girl that fell down. He helped the girl up. Hajime spoke to the still stunned girl with a smile.
“Hurry Forward. It’s alright, if you calm down these skeletons are nothing. Because except for me, everyone else is a cheat!”
Hajime pat her on the back with full confidence, the next moment she uttered a quick energetic “Thank you”.
Hajime had ruined the surrounding Traum Soldiers’ footing and had them detained, he took that moment to survey the battlefield. Everyone was in such a panic that they were fighting without any thought and looked so sloppy. At this rate, it was highly likely that someone would die. Alan is still trying to organize them, but it is not going well. More reinforcements came for the Traum Soldiers through the new magic circles.
“We need a strong leader to guide us, Amanokawa-kun!”
Hajime started to sprint towards Kouki’s party.
Behemoth was still repeatedly charging the barrier. A powerful shock-wave was produced everything it collided with the barrier, the bridge groaned at the pressure. There were already cracks in the barrier and it was only a matter of time before it gave. Meld had joined in the reinforcement of the barrier but it was like adding a drop into a bucket.
“Ah, Crap! It won’t hold for much longer! Kouki, hurry and retreat! You guys go too!”
“No! I will not abandon you guys! We will all survive this!”
“Ku, to be so egotistical at this moment…”
Meld just displayed a sour face at their conversation. In such a narrow space, it would be very difficult to avoid the Behemoth’s rush. Therefore, the best option was to withdraw because without the barrier they would be trampled. Such a subtle perception of the situation could only come with experience, it was highly unlike for Kouki and his party to have such an insight.
Meld was urging than to withdraw, but with a heavily summarized explanation on why. Kouki did not take his advise and refused to “abandon” them. Also from the look in Kouki’s eyes he wanted to challenge the Behemoth.
It could be attributed to his adolescent mind. He was overestimating himself, because he had so much praise showered onto him.
“Kouki! Listen to what Meld is saying and retreat!”
Shizuku, who understood the situation, grabbed Kouki’s arm in remonstration.
“This is not the first time Kouki is unreasonable! I’ll back you up!”
Ryutaro’s statement just fueled Kouki’s attitude even more. Shizuku clicked her tongue at that.
“Don’t get intoxicated with the situation! Bakamono!”
Kaori is worried for the irritated Shizuku.
A boy jumped out in front of Kouki.
Everyone was surprised by how serious Hajime was.
“Hurry and retreat! You have to help everyone!”
“Why so sudden? What are you even doing in a place like this? This is not a place you should be at! Just leave this to us, Nagumo…”
“Is this the situation to say such a thing?”
Hajime showed such unexpected force in his words that Kouki stopped his rebuke. Until now, they had never heard Hajime use such a harsh tone. He had always presented himself with a smile and now seeing such an image was shocking.
“Can you not see what is going on? Everyone is in a panic, because their leader is missing!”
Hajime pointed towards the students while one hand grabbed onto Kouki’s chest. In the direction he pointed at, there was his confused classmates being surrounded by Traum Soldiers. The training that was drilled into them was nowhere to be seen, they fought willy nilly. Since they were so inefficient they were being overwhelmed by the reinforcements. Although their high stats were protecting them for now, soon it would not matter.
“We need a blow that can break through them! A power to erase the fear in everyone’s hearts! And it’s you who has such a power! Don’t just look in front of you, look at what’s going on behind you too!”
Stunned at seeing his classmates in chaos, the shaking Kouki nodded his head.
“I understand! I’ll go immediately. Sorry, Meld-san!
The moment Meld looked back at Kouki’s agreement to retreat, the barrier finally fell to the Behemoth’s onslaught. The raging shock-wave caused by the destruction of the barrier, was shooting straight for Hajime and the others. Hajime quickly stepped forward and transmuted a wall, but it was easily brushed aside. It seemed he had weakened it. Dust whirled as the Behemoth bellowed out a roar.
On the ground was Meld and three of his knights groaning. Their body seemed to have taken damage from the shock-wave, they were unable to move. Kouki and his party had fallen over, but quickly they recovered. Hajime’s wall had been useful for those behind Meld.
“Ryutaro, Shizuku can you buy me some time?”
Though they were in some pain, the two of them pressed forward at Kouki’s request. Since Meld had been disabled, it was up to them to do something.
“I’ll do what I can!”
“Somehow, I’ll do it!”
Both of them rushed the Behemoth.
“Kaori, start healing Meld and his men.”
Kaori quickly went to work. Hajime was already beside Meld. He quickly created a stone wall to prevent the affects of battle from reaching them. Although it seemed useless when looking at the battle, it was better than nothing.
Kouki at the moment had been gathering himself and chanting to perform his best skill.
“Divine will! Perish all evils with your light! The breath of God! Blow away the ominous clouds and purify this world! The mercy of God! Forgive all sins with this strike! “Heaven’s Might”!”
An aurora gushed out from the “Holy Sword” after the chant. The skill was similar to the “Soaring Flash”, but it’s power was on a completely different level. It paved a gouge in the bridge as it shot towards the Behemoth, shaking the bridge with its might. After the chant, Ryutaro and Shizuku had already cleared out. However, after fighting the Behemoth they were in a tattered state. To suffer such a considerable amount of damage in such a short time.
The bombardment of light hit the Behemoth directly. Light filled the area where the spell had impacted with the demon. An earthquake resounded in the bridge, and cracks spawned all over it.
“If it’s this…Ha-a Ha-a”
“Did that do it?”
“I hope so.”
Ryutaro and Shizuku returned to Kouki’s side. Kouki breathed heavily after using such an enormous amount of magic. That skill earlier, was his trump card. Most of his magic was used to fuel it. Kaori had finished treating the fallen Soldiers and Meld was actively trying to stand up.
When the light and dust settled down…
There it was, an unscathed Behemoth.
The beast sent a death glare at Kouki and growled. It raised its head, there was a high pitch then it’s horns started to glow red hot. Magma, that word described perfectly what the Behemoth’s helmet looked like.
“Don’t just stand there! Move!”
Meld’s voice helped the them regain their senses and they started to move. The Behemoth soon rushed them with his newly powered helmet. Like a falling meteorite the Behemoth fell helmet first towards Kouki.
Even if they were able to avoid it by jumping aside, the shock-wave caused by the impact still blew them away. When they stopped rolling, they had wounds all over their bodies. Meld, who finally regained his movement, rushes over. The other knights were still being treated by Kaori. Bracing itself, the Behemoth worked to pull out his stuck head.
“Can you guys move?”
All he got in response were groans. They were probably paralyzed again by the shock-wave caused by the falling Behemoth. The damage to the internal organs seemed to be significant.
Meld called out to Kaori. When he was looking for Kaori, Meld’s sight caught hold of Hajime.
“Bozu! Take Kaori, Carry Kouki and retreat!”
For Meld who directed such instructions to Hajime, He would only be able to carry Kouki. That instruction indicated that, no one else would be able to escape. Meld clenched his teeth and prepared his shield. He had chosen to risk his life in this dangerous situation to hold back the beast.
At such a desperate moment for Meld, Hajime made a suggestion. This method may be the only way that everyone would be saved. However, the chance of it succeeding was very low. Hajime would also be in the most dangerous position.
Meld hesitated, but the Behemoth was already combat ready. It’s helmet started to sizzle red hot. They had no time.
“Are you going to do it?”
“I’ll do it!”
Meld could easily see the resolute gaze Hajime had, and he couldn’t help himself from smiling.
“I can’t believe that I’ll entrust it up to you, I’ll surely save you. Leave it to you!”
Meld headed towards the Behemoth at that. He released a simple magic to provoke it. The Behemoth seemed to have a habit of targeting anyone who was attacking him at the moment. Man and Beast gazed at each other.
When the helmet was finally inflamed, it charged then leapt. Meld stood there poised, intending to provoke it till the last moment. At that moment, a small incantation could be heard.
“Blow “Wind Wall”!”
He back stepped at the same time as he chanted. Like a comet, the Behemoth landed at the area where Meld was previously stationed at. The “Wind Wall” was able to deflect the shock-wave and debris from the impact. Since it was just a simple attack, he was able to avoid it. He would have been totally annihilated if he was protecting Kouki.
Again, the Behemoth’s head was stuck after the attack. Hajime advanced at this, but the remnants of the blazing heat burns Hajime. He endured the pain and he started to chant. It couldn’t really be considered a chant because he just called out the spell’s name.
The Behemoth’s movement to extract it’s head from the stone was stopped because the surrounding stone buried its head. No matter how much stone it destroyed to free itself, Hajime just repaired it with his transmuting. Bracing it’s legs, the Behemoth was going to forcefully free itself, but Hajime transmuted around the foot this time. He constantly harden and transmuted the stone and finally he sunk the beast 1 m into stone. The Behemoth’s power was so terrifying that if he let up for just a moment, cracks would from in the formation and it would try to slip out. In order to prevent this Hajime did not let up on his continuous transmuting. He observed the Behemoth struggling to get free with its head buried underground. For anyone else it would have looked very silly.
In the meantime, Kaori and the recovered knights were gathered and carried Kouki’s party back. On the side with the Traum Soldiers, the students had regained some of their composure and started to cooperate with each other. The reason for the recovery was because of the girl Hajime saved earlier. A simple contribution from Hajime.
“Wait! There is still Nagumo-kun.”
Kaori protested to Meld who was withdrawing.
“This is his plan! We are going to clear the Soldiers and make a safety zone for ourselves, and then we will bombard the beast with magic! Of course, we will allow him to retreat too! He can retreat when our magic barrage holds that beast in place, then we can retreat to the upper level.”
“Then, I’ll stay and help him!”
“Not possible! Your healing is needed to back up Kouki as we retreat!”
Meld shouted at the protesting Kaori.
“Don’t let his effort be in vain!”
Including Meld, the other one with the highest power was without a doubt Kouki. If she did not use her healing magic effectively, they may eventually lack the power to stop the Behemoth. That is why it is necessary for her to join the retreating group. They did not have to time to stop and heal with other slower means, and if they were not fast enough Hajime will run out of mana to trap the Behemoth.
“Breath of Heaven, Fill to the brim, Purify and Heal, “Heaven’s Blessing”!”
Even if she had a face like she wanted to cry, she continued with her incantation. A pale light engulfed Kouki. The restorative property of her magic healed his body of injuries at the same time it enveloped him. Meld placed a hand on Kaori’s shoulder and nodded, and she nodded back. Again, Kaori turned around to look at the scene of Hajime transmuting against the Behemoth. All of them started to retreat after that.
The numbers of the Traum Soldier was still increasing. Currently, they numbered around 200. They all filled up the stair side of the bridge. But in a sense it might be a good thing. If a gap was present, the students would try to push through, but their lack of experience would lead them into getting surrounded and slaughtered. Actual this was a good number for the students who were having trouble with the 100 earlier.
Lucky, there had not been a single death, it was thanks to the earnest knights who protected them. It was not an exaggeration to say that they were desperately covering the students’ lives. The expense came in the form of all the wounds they had acquired.
If they lost the knights’ support, for the increasing number of students who were panicking and did not know the magic that caused the increasing monsters, they would fall apart in minutes.
Despair struck the students who realized it. The group that cooperated with the girl that Hajime saved earlier, even though they fought bravely their face conveyed that they were at their limits. When they thought it was finished…
A pure-white slash exploded right through the ranks of Traum Soldiers. The Soldiers near the side edges of the bridge was blown into the abyss. After the slash thought, the remaining Soldiers filled in the gap that was created by the skill. They surely saw the stair that led to the upper level though. The wished to see it but it had been covered by the sea of swords.
“Everyone! Don’t give up, I’ll open up a path!”
He spewed those lines as the “Soaring Flash” tore through the enemies. The students energized at the charisma Kouki displayed.
“What have you guys been doing this whole time? Remember your training, and start cooperating with each other! Fools!”
The leader everyone relied on released a skill that was not inferior to “Soaring Flash” at the enemies. The reliably feeling returned to his voice. His body filled with power and his mind cleared. Kaori’s magic was doing their job, the magic to calm the mind. The magic was just a relaxation magic but combined with Kouki’s performance it was super effective.
Anyone with an aptitude for healing started to heal everyone. The people with high aptitude for magic made up the rear guard, they started their chants. The vanguard formed a firm rank, they steadily moved but put an emphasis in protecting the rear guard.
The knights who recovered also join them, then the signal for their counter-attack came. The cheat class started to perform their martial arts and magic, they descended down on their enemy like a surging wave. Monsters fell so quickly that they had finally passed the spawning rate of the magic circle.
Soon, the path to the stairs were opened.
“Everyone advance! We need to secure the stairs!”
Kouki started to run as soon as he shouted. The recovered Shizuku and Ryutaro accompanied Kouki in the charge. They cut through the encircling Traum Soldier like a hot knife through butter. Finally, they broke through the besiegement. Kouki quickly cast his magic to prevent the gap from the bridge they just created from being filled by the Soldiers.
The classmates looked doubtful. It will be like that. In front of them were the stairs, and naturally they wanted to get to safety quickly.
“Wait everyone! We still have to save Nagumo-kun! Just by himself, he has been suppressing that demon!”
Kaori’s class faced her with a very doubtful expression. They all thought it was impossible, because they all thought he was useless. When the perplexed classmates looked over at the bridge, Hajime was really there.
“What is he doing?”
“That demon is buried!”
Meld answered the questions the students had.
“It’s true! It was because of him stopping that demon that we could retreat! Vanguard don’t let any soldier near us! Rear guard prepare your long range magic! He is about to run out of magic, we will have him retreat while we bombard the Behemoth!”
The students braced themselves when that voice resounded with them. There were people who looked at in the direction of the stairs in regret. No wonder, they just had a near death experience. They naturally wanted to get to safety as fast as possible. However, when Meld angrily shouted out to hurry up, they returned to the battlefield.
In there was Hiyama Daisuke. Although he thought so highly of himself, he was really scared, he wanted to run as fast as possible away.
At that moment, the scene from that day flashed in his mind. It was yesterday when they were staying in Horlad. He was so overcome by anxiety of the next day that he couldn’t sleep properly and went out to get some air then headed for the toilet. The cool breeze relaxed him and he was returning to his room when he saw something. Along the way, he had seen Kaori in her negligee. This was the first time he had seen her in such a state and he instinctively hid and held his breath at such a sight. Kaori passed by without noticing him.
Daisuke was interested and followed her, until she stopped in front of a certain room and knocked. The one to answer the door was…Hajime. Hiyama’s mind blanked at that. He liked Kaori, however he thought that he was not good enough for her. When comparing himself to Kouki, he felt like he was way out of his league, so he gave up.
Hajime was different, Daisuke thought Hajime was inferior to him. So to find Hajime in the presence of Kaori was weird. He thought that if this was the case, why won’t he do? Daisuke heard every word in his head, is his head alright? Hiyama seriously thought that though. His dissatisfaction against Hajime had always been piling up, now this had swelled into hatred. When he saw Kaori get mesmerized by the Grantz Crystal, he was probably driven by these feelings.
Hiyama remembered all that. Looking at Hajime who was suppressing the Behemoth by himself, Kaori staring worried for Hajime and even praying for him…a dark smile bloomed on Daisuke’s face.
Hajime felt his mana running out, and he had ran out of any potions. He quickly surveyed his surrounding and noticed that everyone had retreated. Ranks were being formed and magic was being prepared for the last part of the plan.
Behemoth was still struggling, at this rate there were still a few seconds of intermission even if he stopped transmuting. In the meantime he had to get some distance. A drop of sweat entered his eye. Hajime had never been in such a situation that caused his heart to thump so loudly that he could hear it. Timing was going to be important here.
Dozens of cracks formed in the restraints that held the Behemoth, and they were failing to hold it back. At the same moment, Hajime started to sprint.
5 seconds after Hajime started to run away, the Behemoth fully freed itself and roared. The rage present in its eyes could never be misunderstood. Quickly it’s vision searched for its sworn enemy and found Hajime. Behemoth roared in anger again , and collected power into its legs to chase after Hajime.
However, a barrage of magic attacks stopped it.
Like shooting stars painting the night sky, magic of countless colors bombarded the Behemoth. There was no damage, but the force prevented it from advancing.
Hajime lowered his head and dashed while taking care not to fall. With all those lethal spells passing over his head, Hajime was not afraid for his life. There was no way those cheats would be able to miss. The distance between the Behemoth and him was also 30m.
Hajime relaxed at that.
However, something happened that cause him to freeze.
One of the “Fireball” in the endless stream of spells, bent slightly and started to head his way. This was clearly aimed at him.
Doubt and bewilderment, all of this ran through his brain and it appalled him.
Hajime slid and braced himself as the “Fireball” struck the ground right in front of his eyes. He was blown back the way he came from by the shock-wave. No real damage was taken because he was able to avoid a direct hit, but his sense of balance was thrown out of whack. Seems like semicircular canal was damaged.
Standing up was a little hard because he was dizzy. The Behemoth like usual was not going to go down alone. When Hajime got up, the beast roared again. Hajime looked at the Behemoth and was stunned by the piercing eyes it had. For the third time it’s horns started to and he lunged towards Hajime.
The unsteady head, hazy vision, looming Behemoth, impatience screams and roars from his classmates in the distance.
Hajime tried desperately to muster the strength to jump away. A furious shock ripped through the entire bridge, it shocked from the strength of the Behemoth’s attack. Cracks spread out from the epicenter. The bridge screamed.
Finally, after all that punishment, the bridge collapsed.
The bridge had finally reached the threshold and gave out.
Behemoth clawed desperately to find a place to hold on to. However even the ground that connected the bridge collapsed and fell into the abyss. Death throes could be heard from the Behemoth.
Hajime crawled to escape somehow, however every place he held onto collapsed.
“Ah, it’s no good…”
While he thought that, he turned his gaze towards his classmates. He saw Shizuku and Kaori holding Kaori back, like she wanted to jump after him. His other classmates were pale and had their hands over their eyes or mouths. Meld and the Knights had a mortifying expression on their faces.
The scaffolding that held Hajime finally crumbled. He fell backwards into the dark abyss, while he tried to grasp the dimming light.