The Black Demon King 499
Chapter 26: Storm of Gluttony
The Man-Eating Mountain – Part 2

“You have to run away, quickly.”

A Crusader cavalryman that appeared with wounds all over his body. A green octopus-like monster that popped out of his mouth like a parasite. And above all, the red light in my left eye announcing that the time of the Fifth Test had come –in other words, a powerful Rank 5 monster was soon to appear.

It would be completely impossible for me to protect this village while avoiding any casualties all by myself. No matter how much I tried to think of a way to do so, there was no choice but to run away.

“…Right, I understand. Let’s start preparing for evacuation right away.”

Randolph’s decision was quick.

Neither of the villagers knew about the secret of my eye, but it was natural for Randolph and the other villagers to feel a strong sense of crisis after having seen what had happened right before their eyes.

Randolph’s high determination was made evident after immediately declaring that they would be evacuating the village without even stuttering.

“Should we escape to the nearest supply base for now?”

Ryan didn’t seem to have any particular objections to evacuating the village. I had been wondering if he would insist on us staying here and fight to the end, but after being appointed chief of the vigilante forces, he has become somewhat more composed.

“I don’t think we’re facing an enemy that can be stopped with nothing but a stone wall. But we should escape to the Alsace Fortress.”

I knew how strong Trial monsters were. The best way to face a Rank 5 monster is to wait behind strong walls for it to come to us..

“It’s a bit far from here… But looks like we don’t have any other choice, eh?”

“Well, that fortress can accommodate all the nearby villagers, us included.”

I had caught only a glimpse of the Alsace Fortress in a fragment of Sariel’s memories, but it was enough to understand how large and sturdy it was. If the villagers could shut themselves in it, they would be definitely safe from harm.

The question was whether I could defeat the approaching Gluttony Octo.

“Hey priest, do you know anything about this octopus-looking thing? I’ve never seen such an unpleasant monster in my life.”

“I’ve never actually seen one before, but I’ve read about it in the guild.”

I couldn’t say where the Adventurer’s Guild is.

I would tell them all the information about monsters that I had right away. Since I always fought Trial monsters, I remembered their details quite well, so I could share this information without a problem even if I don’t have the actual documents at hand.

“The name of the monster is Gluttony Octo. It looks like a green octopus, so there’s no mistaking it. It also seems that these monsters act in groups.”

The one that had come out of the cavalryman-s body seemed to be quite small. I didn’t know exactly how their ecology was, but it could be that either they lay eggs inside the host’s body, or the younglings simply invade the body as part of their predatory behavior.

Either way, it’s a horrifying experience for the human host, but since it was relatively easy to defeat, the young ones don’t seem to be very threatening.

“When they become adults, they grow two extra tentacles for a total of six, and each of their tentacles reach a length of 10 meters.”

“Whoa, that’s pretty big.”

“Yeah, and according to the record, it wasn’t just a single adult that spawned all the younglings either. There are a few fully-grown adults of the 10-meter class, and hundreds of smaller 3-meter ones. If we include the younglings like the one we just dealt with, there might even be thousands of them out there.”

“Wait, what? So more than a swarm of them, it looks like an entire army!”

“The subjugation record says so. But now, these guys have no choice but to hope to thrive in a smaller scale.”

In the material I read, there was a good deal of detail about previous fights against the Gluttony Octos, unlike the missing details for the defeat of Lust Rose after the one who did it chose to remain silent.

The Gluttony Octos had been defeated before, about 100 years ago.

Back then, they had appeared in large numbers, mercilessly eating livestock, fields, people, and even eating everything else, such as houses and trees in the forest, quickly leveling them to the ground and turning them into wasteland.

They were named Gluttony Octos due to their insatiable hunger for absolutely everything that stood in their path.

After naming these monsters, the Spada army, seeing them as an urgent threat that had to be taken care of immediately, was finally dispatched.

With their numbers and a solid strategy, the subjugation of the Gluttony Octos had gone smoothly, albeit with some costs. After driving them to some small foggy mountain –which forced them to struggle harder– they somehow managed to annihilate them back then,

They wrote that these monsters had a high resistance to physical damage due to their soft, slippery bodies, and that they could keep on moving despite cutting off their tentacles, but were susceptible to fire.

Therefore, it seems that the basic strategy of the Spada army at that time was to have their sorcerers set them on fire to weaken them, and then the infantry would deal the finishing blow on each of them. Of course, it was also written that the elite “Braveheart” knights –who could also wield flames thanks to their fire-attribute martial arts– succeeded in killing them one after another without needing the support of a sorcerer.

“Perhaps one of these monsters managed to survive and reproduce in this area all this time.”

“Tsk, and they have the nerve to show up after we’ve come to settle in this village…”

Indeed. If these monsters had shown up in the First Fire Month last year, they could have stopped the Crusaders’ advance altogether. However, at that time, I wouldn’t have known that there was margin for the final MPK tactics.

“I see, after all, they don’t seem like the kind of monsters we can somehow manage to beat on our own.”

“Ok, send word to everyone in the village that we’ll be evacuating as soon as possible.”

This settlement didn’t have a bell to announce emergencies like the one like Ils Village used to have. The only bell here was the one at the top of the church, and it was only used to tell the time.

“Yes, of course. But, um, Priest Kuroe…”

“I have no other choice in this situation. I will fight. Be sure to evacuate everyone to Alsace Fortress. We’ll engage the Gluttony Octos there.”

“Are you sure about this?”

“Don’t worry about me. I was going to head that way either way.”

The cavalryman that escaped the attack of the Gluttony Octos had arrived on the east side, in the opposite direction of Spada. In other words, it’s like we’re being driven towards Spada by the swarming enemy.

If the Gluttony Octos instead decide to heading east towards the capital Daedalus, the villagers may be safe from danger, but it would be too stupid to stay in the village hoping for the best possible scenario to happen out of sheer luck. There was no other way but to evacuate until the enemy was completely defeated, just to be on the safe side.

“Thank you, but please be careful, Priest Kuroe. We will have no choice but to use the help of the Crusaders once we’re there. You should hide your face completely to avoid the risk of being recognized by the knights stationed in Alsace Fortress.”

I had nearly forgotten about that very important point.

Of course, if we evacuate to the garrison in Alsace Fortress, Baron Hermann would certainly be the one to take the lead at the interception battle.

There would be Crusader eyes all over the place, and in the worst case, some of them could have seen me on the battlefield during the Galahad War. The Coloring Eyes alone won’t deceive them.

“That’s right. I’ll get that ready.”

“If there’s anything at all I can do to help, just say the word.”

I thanked Randolph for always being so attentive, and then we started to set things in motion.

Randolph immediately began to outline the evacuation plan to the villagers who had gathered here, and Ryan rushed to gather the rest of the vigilante forces to get them ready to evacuate and prepare for the upcoming battle.

I would go back to the church and get myself ready, but before that, I had something to say.

“Reki, Ursula”

I turned to those two, who were once again by my side listening to my every word.

I kneeled down to their height so I could look them straight in the eye, and noticed a slight hint of concern in both of their young faces.

“Do you understand the situation?”

“Yup, we know!”

“A huge number of monsters are coming, so we’ll be running away to Alsace.”

“That’s right. I will be escorting the evacuation, and if monsters come in, I will participate in the interception battle. So I will postpone our farewell for a little while.”

I realized that a grin had formed spontaneously on my face. For a rather strange reason, we were allowed to delay our painful and sad farewell for a short time.

And both Reki and Ursula seemed to feel the same way. A smile blossomed like a flower on each of their faces.

“All right!”

“That’s good.”

I hugged them as they jumped at me, burying their faces into my chest, which had a mixture of honest delight and an indescribable feeling of guilt swirling deep inside.

“I love both of you.”

Somehow, I had forgotten that they had asked me which of them I liked the most just a few moments ago.

But since I would be granted a few more moments with them, I wanted to take the opportunity to settle this once and for all, and hope it will solve their differences.

“I cannot like either of you more than the other. I feel like you’re my little sisters, and both of you are equally important to me.”

But in the end, I felt a bit frustrated that I could only say that.

I had shared my feelings with honesty. However, was it correct to leave the rest up to them? Wasn’t there something else I could do, something else I could say?

“…Ehehe, so that’s how it is in the end, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I think I already knew this, somewhere deep down…”

Their faces were still buried into my chest, so I couldn’t see their faces. But I had this mysterious feeling that told me that they were probably crying.

“Reki also loves Priest Kuroe!”

“I love you too.”

Saying only “Thank you”, I released them from my embrace.

Sadly, we didn’t have too much time to spend being emotional.

“Both of you, hurry up and get ready to leave the village.”

“OK!”

“What about getting ready to fight?”

“…Yeah, that too…”

This too couldn’t be helped this late in the game. After all, they’re no longer “just kids”.

“Please lend me your strength.”

“Yeah! Reki will do her best! Let’s go fight!”

“You can count on my Origin Magic.”

After all, it seemed that the feeling that both of them were crying was just my imagination. They were smiling brightly, and nodded cheerfully.

Then they rushed to the church to pack up.

After seeing them off, I said to myself –actually no, to Sariel, who was always on my back, motionless like a real doll:

“It’s all kind of ironic, don’t you think?”

Sariel responded to my sighing words without faltering.

“You’ve fought so hard to escape the Crusaders and now you’re going to walk straight back to them.”

However, I was protecting the Sinclairians, and the enemy we’re facing is a swarm of monsters. The situation is too different from that time.

“It’s okay, this time I will…”

Still, my determination remains the same as at that time. Stronger and tighter.

“I will protect everyone”

Thus I set out to Alsace to defend its fortress for the second time.

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