“Chris, please explain a little more!”
“I’m not sure yet, but if it really is a form of monsterization, then I think Edward is going out of control.”
“I see! That means he’s lost his mind!”
In contrast to Lloyd, who has come to an agreement, Lily was not entirely convinced.
“It’s a little bit unclear to me. In the first place, is he really a demon king? If he were a demon king, we would not be able to win even if we were all together, right?”
“──Maybe it’s because of his rapid evolution.”
After saying this, Chris continued.
“So we must not let this opportunity pass us by.”
Chris started to advance ahead of everyone else, her back carrying the royal high spirits that the other two remembered from Sylvird.
They forgot to breathe in the face of this awe-inspiring, exceptional nobility. She really was royalty, they thought.
Lloyd stared at her back and listened intently.
“Edward is still growing, I think. Both physically and mentally. In other words, he has yet to become a demon king.”
Would this really be an opportunity to take advantage of him? Or would it be a prelude to despair? No one knew the answer.
It was clear that once he fully transformed into the demon king, there was nothing they could do. If the game was to be decided here, even a single second was too close to call.
“…There’s room for a few more recoveries.”
Lloyd speaks to them, looking at Edward, whose attitude has changed.
With a lot of sweat on his hands, he braced himself for the battle that was about to begin.
“The one that Majolica-dono has refined. It’s a precious little thing, but it can be used with a little effort.”
Chris and Lily looked at Lloyd. They watched with bated breath, imagining what he was about to say.
“I will force myself to be a wall. I will leave everything else to you. If I find myself unable to move after the battle, you must abandon me.”
“The three of us will do everything in our power to prevent that from happening.”
“Yeah. I hope all of us remain safe and sound. Then──let’s go!”
Lloyd took the lead and started running.
As Edward exchanged glances with him, he regained his composure, and after the spear was swung lightly, a red aura formed the mark of the spear’s passage.
“If you are the true demon king, perhaps I am a happy man!”
Lloyd delivered the most powerful swing with all his might today.
The blow, which used his muscles without thinking about the consequences, drove Edward, who caught it backward slowly, but he had the composure to catch it as if he intended to.
“We can do the same thing as our first king! If it is you, then there can be no greater joy!”
“Kuhaha… I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, but it’s ludicrous to worship that man. To want to do the same thing as a family murderer, as expected, you are barbarians!”
“His Majesty the First, a family killer…?!”
“Oh, it seems that this story has not reached Ishtalika now.”
Edward raised his spear and flicked Lloyd’s big body.
He was a completely different person in terms of his physical strength and speed than he was just a few dozen seconds ago.
But Lloyd roared as if every fiber of his muscles was on fire. He was just about to position himself in midair and attempt another lunge when he heard something.
“My crimson is──.”
Edward’s crimson aura contracted, and the tip of his spear began to tremble.
The hands gripping the spear were weak at first but soon began to twitch wildly.
He let go of the spear and lost strength from his knees. Although the situation was unknown, it must have been an opportunity.
And this time, without a second thought.
The thrown dagger pierced through Edward’s shoulder, and Chris’s rapier stabbed him in the back again and again.
Fresh blood and a red aura flew around.
Chris and Lily continued to attack without worrying about the burning heat on their skin, and Lloyd also approached to swing his great sword.
Edward’s red aura pushed him back, and he retreated with his great sword as a shield. The three of them looked at Edward in unison and furrowed their brows.
His red aura was not as strong as it had been at first, and he looked terribly weak.
The skin, which was supposed to be youthful, was rapidly wrinkling, and the muscles seemed to be atrophying.
──Chris, who saw it, opened her mouth.
“I don’t know if it’s because it was halfway through his evolution or what, but he doesn’t seem to be able to handle his own magic. Now, it’s just a… waste of treasure.”
This probably would have been a different story if he had been in good shape.
Chris thought that, in addition to the wounds he sustained in the battle with Ain, the wear and tear from fighting against the three of them had made his body unable to withstand the drastic changes.
“I see… it’s like forcing a sick person to take nutritional supplements! …So maybe we should try to stall for time?”
Lily suggested stalling, but Lloyd quietly shook his head.
“No. There is no way that man could have been unaware of this. Let’s bring the curtain down on this stage. ──See, that’s what I’m talking about.”
Edward, with bloodshot eyes and restless breathing, stood up weakly.
The thick veins floating in his neck pulsated eerily, sometimes leaking a feeble light like fireflies.
“Hah… hah… hah… but I’m getting a little used to this body!”
Lloyd was unable to defend with his great sword in time, so he blocked Edward’s spear with his right arm. Thanks to the fact that he avoided the cut, no cuts were made, but the blow that Edward fired was too heavy.
The next moment, a sound of impact echoed from Lloyd’s arm as if he had been dropped from a high place onto the cobblestone pavement.
The pain was so great that Lloyd could not even scream, and the impact was more powerful than he had ever felt in his entire life.
Edward kicked Lloyd down on one knee like a stone on the shoulder of the road, and the next person he turned his giddy eyes on was Chris.
“You’re no stranger to this.”
Edward seemed to be rapidly mastering his power, but in fact, he didn’t seem to be able to afford it.
The red aura was still weak, and he seemed to be using what little pride and power he had left to muster.
He indeed seemed to be able to use it better than at first, but he was close to his limit.
“If it weren’t for that man, you wouldn’t be such a pain in the ass!”
An exhale was heard behind Chris as the roar from his step echoes through the air.
Then she was dismayed by the tip of a spear that appeared in front of her face.
Sticky, warm blood adhered to the tip, which grew out of an impossible place and dripped onto the ground.
Soon, there was a sound of metal cutting through the air—the sound of Chris’s armor being smashed echoes somberly.
“Huh… hah… hah….. Edward…!”
“I was surprised. I didn’t think you could be strong even with that wound.”
She repeated breathing erratically and glared hard at Edward even as she fell to the ground. But Edward, who was nowhere to be found, lost interest in Chris and turned his hatred most of all on Lily.
“You will die soon anyway. So go ahead and die without thinking about the rest.”
Just as he was about to attack Lily, a great sword was swung down from behind Edward.
Lloyd must have used the heal-bird’s magic tool.
However, it seems that this was not enough to completely repair the shattered bones. And Lloyd’s complexion turned pale, and sweat was pouring from his forehead like a waterfall.
His voice was shaky in places, and it was clear that he was trying desperately to endure the pain.
“A terrible man who never stops till the end…..”
Just before Edward turned around and plunged his spear into Lloyd’s neck, Lloyd noticed.
Edward’s arm had shriveled even more, and now it looked like a combination of skin and bone. Then the red aura evaporated after a blink, and the master of the aura clutched his neck with one hand.
Struggling to breathe, he opened his eyes and distanced himself.
“You say I have reached my limit…? I won’t admit it. I won’t admit it…!”
Further, he held his chest, enduring the pain.
“The stone must be returned to the castle… and the magic stone to absorb the magic power──Kuh, but…!”
He said these words one after the other, looked at Chris, and tried to pull out her magic stone.
But he had no more strength left than Lloyd and Lily had imagined. If he were to attack Chris and try to remove the magic stone, there was a much greater chance that he would be defeated by Lloyd and Lily.
“I’ll just leave the game to you.”
Finally, he reluctantly decided to escape.
Lloyd advanced on his feet, trying not to let him escape, but his legs were heavy as lead and the pain rushing through his arms appealed to his survival instincts.
There was another reason why he could not pursue him.
“Chris! Hey! Chris!”
Chris’ body, which had collapsed on the ground, was raised, but there was no response.
Lily rushed over to see what was going on, and she patted her chest in relief.
“…It seems that she fainted from excessive blood flow, but if we hurry and treat her, she will recover in time.”
This was a battlefield, not Ishtalika.
Without satisfactory facilities, it would be difficult to treat Chris. This practically meant death, but fortunately, the port town of Roundheart is nearby, where there was even an advanced battleship, the Leviathan.
“Lily. You are the same, aren’t you? You can no longer fight with any complacency.”
“…No, no, no, this Lily-chan can still fight.”
“Don’t be so stubborn. Are you aware that you are dragging your feet now?”
“You say that, Lloyd-sama?”
The reality was that Lloyd had lost the use of one of his arms.
But the pain was muffled by the use of the last remaining magic tool.
“Don’t worry about me. ──Someone gets me a horse!”
Lloyd called out loudly for the knight of Ishtalika, and the knight who had been watching the situation came over.
“I’ll borrow your horse.”
Lloyd borrowed a horse from a cavalryman, and he lifted Lily up with one arm and put her on the horse.
Having been entrusted with the unconscious Chris, Lily panicked.
“Eh? Wha… W-wait! Lloyd-sama!”
“You should get on the Leviathan and go and heal Chris. The Leviathan is equipped with many of the latest magic tools.”
“I will now march on Heim royal capital in pursuit of Edward!”
The scene of the battlefield in the suburbs of the royal capital had been transformed far more than it was before the battle with Edward. It was clear that the Ishtalika side had the upper hand, and many of Heim’s forces were out of action on the ground.
Even if Edward could not be pursued, Marshal Lloyd would never escape the battlefield here.
“Lloyd-sama! Here’s my horse!”
Receiving a horse from a royal knight who had arrived late, Lloyd rode on, enduring the pain.
“I have a report on the battle situation──”
“I will listen to it as we ride. The objective is the royal capital! Let’s go!”
“Lloyd-sama! Please wait! What about your body, Lloyd-sama?”
“If I don’t defeat that man, he’ll be a hindrance to us! For the sake of Ain-sama, I cannot be weak! If I, who have been entrusted with that man, do not go after him, then who will!”
Lloyd, who rushed out with the knight, was very dependable, and even though he should have been wounded to the bone, he was on the verge of boiling over with vigor.
Lily delivered the words “Godspeed to you” in a small voice to his back, and in view of Chris’s wounds, she hurriedly drove the horse.