Chapter 105 – Conceptual Whack-A-Mole
After smashing through the wagons of the lined Transportation Corps, the legless dragon emerged its head above the ground.
Although we cannot see the full extent of how huge it is, it is more than 100 meters long just by being exposed to the ground.
Its cylindrical body was about 10 meters in diameter. Its pale pink body surface was coated with thick white mucus, and it was constantly wriggling.
It is rare to see a close-up of an invertebrate but, to be honest, it is quite grotesque.
“It’s just like the name says… it’s a complete worm, except for the size.”
“Yoshua, you’re going to get eaten if you don’t get away!”
“…Oh, I knew it?”
I don’t know where the sensory organs were, but the legless dragon shook its head in our direction and opened its tip. There, twisted like a bud, it opened up, and there were layers and layers of teeth like a lamprey eel.
What is that thing? That’s definitely not a creature that fertilizes the soil.
“I hear it produces a paralyzing poison from its fangs, so stay away from its mouth!”
“Oh, that’s not a mouth. It’s called prostomium.”
“This is no time for commentary! Let’s get out of here!”
Holding Myrril in my arms, I teleported to a location in the direction of the legless dragon. I tried to concentrate the fire on its head with an RPK, one of the AKM’s 30-round magazines. Then, as a finishing blow, I fired four shotgun rounds.
After all, they were bullets for humans. There was no damage, not even a reaction, against a monster several hundred meters in length.
“I don’t feel it’s working at all. The fact that it doesn’t get angry means it doesn’t have a sense of pain.”
The head swung without any preliminary movement, and the huge body bent like a whip was struck sideways. I barely made the teleportation carrying Myrril, but if I had been careless, I would have been blown away.
The fog-like mist that spurts out from the head after the swing is probably the paralyzing poison that Myrril was talking about.
I moved around the area with a short-range teleport and fired several 7.62mm rounds at it.
“Is this… not going to do much?”
“Yes, I guess. The body fluids are gushing out, but we’re losing ground at this rate.”
The rain is getting heavier and heavier. The environment here seems to be more slippery on the feet while also making it easier for the legless dragon to move around.
If the rain intensifies, the winged tribe’s air support will be cut off. I searched my storage to see if I could get some RPGs into my hands now, but I didn’t have any more on hand. I had left all but one of the projectile tubes I had brought with me, just in case I wanted to use them in defense of Casemaian, I thought.
“I gave it away to them a while ago, so I guess it’s all there…”
“Evacuate, Your Majesty the Demon King!”
I heard Luvia-san’s shout from the sky, probably deciding that there was no time to go through the communicator.
As I fled, I looked up and saw Luvia-san and Owe-san pairing up and circling low in the sky. Their flight trajectory was a little wobbly, perhaps due to water in their wings from the pouring rain.
I used teleportation to move all the way up to the top of the ramparts. As soon as I confirmed that the line of fire was open, an RPG rained down on the legless dragon.
It exploded as it pierced deep into its throat through the prostomium. The slimy cylindrical body of the dragon swelled up and scattered pieces of mucus-mingled flesh all over the place.
Since it was relatively close to the city walls, many of the soldiers screamed as they were covered in the stringy white slime-like filth. It seemed to be harmless, but it looked very bad.
Me? I’m fine since I’ve already moved out of the way by teleporting. I don’t want to get Myrril-san covered in that filthy thing, let alone myself.
The winged girls descended and landed on the edge of the city walls. The feathers may be repelling water to some extent, but the surface is soaked and looks heavy.
“Thank you, Luvia-san and Owe-san. I appreciate your help. This one is no longer needed. There should be towels and a change of clothes in the back of the bus. After that, please stay in the car and escort the mother and daughter.”
The situation was not so much of a struggle, and it seems that the magical beasts were defeated in relatively good order, but Myrril has not let her guard down.
“Is there still something out there?”
“I don’t know. But the only mage we defeated was the one who was on the ship. If a giant ogre, an orc, and a legless dragon came out after we killed him, …then there must be at least two magical beast users.”
“Can you find his presence?”
“I don’t know. The rain has drowned them out, and since the magical beast users don’t emit magic power, their presence is weak, to begin with.”
Looking down from the city walls, the soldiers of the southern noble territory army seem to be excited because they think that the battle is over. There should still be remnants of the national army soldiers left, though.
“No, wait. Where did the royalist national army soldiers go?”
“Until the monsters came out, they were encamped in the front part of the forest. They must have pulled their troops deeper into the forest.”
That may be so.
The question is, why did they do it? It was not to take shelter from the rain in the middle of a battle. If that is the case, it would be more natural to think that they were trying to avoid being caught up in some kind of offensive that was about to take place.
“If the enemy soldiers did not come out when they saw the death of the legless dragon, the magical beast user must still be coming up with something.”
“I thought we had defeated all the magical beasts that were sighted. Haven’t they already played their cards?”
The person who unexpectedly emerged from the forest was a mage-like figure wearing a hood and holding a magic wand. The distance is about 200 meters. He was walking toward us alone, but he didn’t appear to have any soldiers with him.
“Should I use the UZI to take him down?”
As I was about to nod to Myrril’s words, a spray of water went up all around the mage.
“…A legless dragon? No, it’s too small for that. That’s…”
The creature that emerged from the ground was a strange, eyeless, serpent-like creature that had lost its white pigmentation as if it were an albino.
At about four meters long, it was certainly smaller than a legless dragon, but the problem was its lame, erratic movements and the sheer number of them that filled the flat ground. At the very least, there must be at least a hundred of them.
“They are deep-dwelling salamanders. They’re dangerous. They’ll… curse you.”
Chapter 106 – What Lurks In The Abyss
I tilt my head back in my mind at Myrril’s unexpectedly serious comment.
“…Cursed? Does that mean that the white snake is going to use some kind of sorcery on us?”
“Not exactly, but it’s not far off the mark. And they are not snakes but newts or salamanders that live in swamps. I’ve heard that deep down, where the sun doesn’t shine, their eyes and legs degenerated into that… But that’s not the problem; it’s the disaster that happens when you kill them.”
“Um, Myrril-san. I appreciate your concern, but the salamanders are already approaching the city walls…”
“Hey, everybody! Take shelter inside the city walls! Those who can’t make it in time flee to the trees or onto the wagons! Do not attack!”
The soldiers were frozen in place in the face of the sudden appearance of a large number of monsters, but they soon screamed and took refuge within the city walls.
They managed to close the gates, but as expected, not everyone was able to take immediate action to evacuate. Some soldiers were seen here and there on the plain, but they seemed to have escaped by climbing trees or horse-drawn wagons in accordance with Myrril’s instructions.
The swarms of deep-dwelling salamanders were wriggling and slamming into the city walls. There is no moat in Meteora, so the slimy white worm-like creatures are accumulating under the wall.
So far, there seems to be no direct damage, but it is disgusting. I can’t decide if I should shoot… or not until I hear what Myrril-san has to say.
“It’s okay. It’s not very strong for its size, and its only attacks are clamping and biting… Hey, don’t kill it!”
I don’t know what the warning was for, but it was too late.
They were soldiers on the edge of the forest who had failed to escape. Whether or not they heard Myrril-san’s voice, they saw what looked like a giant slimy white snake-like creature crawling toward them and swinging their swords and battle axes at it.
The head was split open, or the neck was cut off, and the deep-dwelling salamander spurted blood and died in a daze. It seems that they are neither as tough nor as ferocious as the legless dragons and sea wolves.
“…Oh, you fool.”
“Eh? What do you mean? What’s wrong?”
The soldiers who had killed the deep-dwelling salamander screamed into the empty space and began brandishing their weapons.
Panic gradually spread, and the soldiers who had only been watching around them joined in. Soldiers on the wall side of the city began to murmur at the sight of them.
The soldiers within the city walls didn’t know what they were doing, and neither did I.
“I don’t know all the details. Some say they hallucinate, others say they revive past fears, but whatever the case, the one who kills the deep-dwelling salamander loses his sanity. It will be a quarter of an hour before they return to their senses, and usually… before that time.”
A battle-axe wielded by one of the soldiers smashed into the head of a fellow soldier, a spear thrust out by another pierced another, and a sword reaped from a fall cut the head off a soldier who was still alive.
In the blink of an eye, the four soldiers had killed each other.
“Oh, it’s already happened!”
“If we kill the magical beast user, won’t the hallucination disappear?”
“No, the mage is only using the beast to move. It is said that the panic is caused by the poison contained in the bodily fluids… or the breath of the deep-dwelling salamander itself.”
“Then why don’t we just use a gun and kill it from outside the poison’s range of effect?”
Myrril looked at me, a little lost.
“The only information we have about its ecology is based on hearsay. It is rare for such a creature to appear on the ground.”
Rare monsters, huh? I’m not happy about it. If there were an option to sell them to the Adventurers’ Guild, that would be one thing.
Poisonous or not, it has just proven to be dangerous and ineffective from a distance of two to thirty meters.
I point to the scattered remains of soldiers and white snakes-like creatures.
“We can try it from this distance.”
“I think you’re probably right. The swarm is already close. Yoshua, is it really necessary to take the risk in this situation?”
No, but. It is someone else’s war, to begin with. But will we leave them bobbing around under the walls all the time? I’m fine with that, though.
“Even if we don’t touch them, they will attack us, won’t they? Not so much at us, but at this white snake. Will they go away if we wait a while?”
“I hear they don’t like the sunlight and go back underground.”
“It’s still late in the evening, so we’d have to wait more than half a day.”
I’ve got an idea.
“Myrril, will you keep an eye on that magical beast user to ensure he doesn’t do anything unnecessary?”
I went down inside the walls and stored the dirt vertically, just a few feet away from the wall.
Storage, storage, storage… and then. Don’t let it yaw and crumble askew. I should have brought a shovel to shape it.
The soil was only on the surface layer due to the proximity to the ocean, and after digging for 5m, stones, gravel, and hard bedrock appeared, and the seawater started to overflow more violently. After storing the materials at random to create a vertical hole three meters in diameter and 30 meters deep, I was teleported back to the surface and flew to the top of the ramparts.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”
“That mage, maybe he ran away. He’s still in the forest and hasn’t shown up.”
“…Hmm, did he think they could win if he just left them alone already?”
The ground surface along the outside of the wall is scraped with storage to create a wide funnel-shaped slope about 10 meters wide. The deep-dwelling salamander slides down the slope. The destination is the vertical hole I mentioned earlier. If it hits the bottom, it might spit out poison, but if it’s done quickly, it won’t be a problem.
“Do you want me to drive them into that hole?”
“Yeah, just try not to fall in yourselves.”
The soldiers watching from the top of the ramparts offered to help, and with ladders, fences, and torches, they drove the remaining salamanders into the slope.
“Okay, that’s enough.”
When the last one was dropped, I asked the soldiers to stand back and throw in the stored dirt and chunks of bedrock to bury it. For some reason, what I dug out wasn’t enough, so there remained a vertical hole about five meters deep, but I guess the poison wouldn’t have any effect under such deep soil.
“Fumu, good work, Yoshua. I hope this will do the trick. But… that’s it.”
Myrril-san looked back at me, brushing my wet hair out of my face.
“It was the last big job, and yet it’s so plain.”
“RIght. I know, so don’t go into that.”
Now the only thing left is for the humans to kill each other. We’ll just sit back and wait for the rest as outsiders.