Chapter 50.2 : Cockatrice’s Garden
Big Sis Kenya took care of the rearguard as we advanced, making sure no one attacked us from behind.
She was the fastest person in Teseshia. As long as she fought in an open space, no one would be able to match her in speed.
Big Sis Kenya swung her spear, throwing the Goblins around her in all directions.
There was also Madia, who used flash magic to temporarily blind the Goblins. That move helped us a lot.
Leylia-san was ahead of us, smashing Goblin heads with her mace.
「GOBLIN BEGONE!!! 」
「As usual you’re the first to charge towards the demons, Leylia-san.」
With her being a priestess of Rena, it was only natural for Leylia to feel intense hatred towards demons.
Her feelings were born of a demon attack she suffered a long time ago. She felt that Angel-sama had answered her prayers by giving her the power to exterminate demons.
As a healer, she should have been a rearguard.
But off she went, charging ahead of the vanguard. Thankfully, Nora-san was there to cover her back. She skillfully used her bow and daggers to dispatch of any Goblins that came too close.
As far as I knew, those two had been comrades even before meeting us. They had such good coordination that even their breaths were synchronized.
It was mostly thanks to them that we were able to advance, but some others also did their best. Namely, Novis.
He defeated one Goblin after another with his swordplay and fire magic. As expected of the one hailed as the Hero of Fire.
「That’s amazing, Novi-kun! You seem even stronger than before.」
Madi cheered Novis and gave him an appreciative look.
Yeah, he was strong. As I watched Novis’s movements, I wondered if he could be that much stronger than before.
Novis had been a gifted child. On top of his talent with magic, he had a keen instinct for swordplay. He learned magic with Madi’s mother and swordplay alongside me with my father.
I wasn’t cut out for swordplay. I lacked the most basic quality for swinging a sword: pure strength. No matter how much I trained, I couldn’t gain any muscle. As a result, I couldn’t swing my sword properly.
My father died in a fight against a demon. If he hadn’t left me his magic sword, I would have never considered becoming a Freedom Fighter.
After my father’s death, my mother remarried and I left the house. I didn’t want to live with her anymore. My foster father seemed like a decent man, but I only had one father and that was enough for me.
I became a Freedom Fighter, just like my father, and worked with Big Sis Kenya. During that time she was working with Novis, who was already a Freedom Fighter.
Novis was famous for being a magus warrior.
Not long after that, Madi joined us. Then, by the time Leylia-san and Nora-san joined our group, Novis had already been named Hero of Fire.
Our paths slowly separated. He’d receive named requests and gradually gravitated away from us. Meeting him again after a long time made me realize the difference between us. He had become so much stronger.
His talent made me jealous.
「What’s the matter, Shizufae? Did you fall in love with me again? 」
He probably noticed that I was looking at him because he was grinning.
「Haaa?! What the hell are you talking about, you fool? 」
How could he think I was in love with him?
Others may praise him and call him Hero but, to me, he was just a brat.
He was just a brat who constantly teased me when I was younger. Even after I grew up, he still teased me. No matter how much time passed, Novis would still be a brat.
I wanted him to be a gentleman… Like Reiji-sama.
[TL: Oh god, not another Shirone…]
I remembered what happened last night.
Truthfully, I wanted to speak to Reiji-sama, but I didn’t dare approach him. Sage-sama’s glare was too vicious. My time with him was cut even shorter because of the arrival of the Pashipea Princess.
Such a loveable man… Of course, he wouldn’t get close to a girl like me. I wouldn’t even look good if I stood too close to him while he was surrounded by those incredibly beautiful ladies.
Anyway, we managed to push through the Goblins.
Even I could easily deal with those Goblins, and I wasn’t even strong.
The problem was the sheer number of them. As we moved deeper into the labyrinth, we found many crumbled Goblin statues.
It was definitely the work of those foul Cockatrice.
If we fought with the Cockatrice, we’d have only a slim chance of winning. It would be better if we could avoid them completely.
The number of broken statues was staggering. The Cockatrice must be hiding nearby.
Suddenly, a loud cry rang out.
The noise was followed by many Freedom Fighters calling out in alarm.
Big Sis Kenya was the first to identify the source. It seemed like she could already see the enemy because of her height, which helped her see farther than most people.
「Crap!! Run, it’s the Cockatrice!! 」
I had seen a Cockatrice before, from far away.
I had never seen one so agitated.
They rolled around, enraged while spewing a grey mist. That mist was the Cockatrice’s poison, capable of petrifying a person on contact.
Maybe the sudden Goblin invasion enraged them.
The Cockatrice noticed us and they made a beeline in our direction.
We ran, of course, but Madi tripped and fell on her face.
「MADI !! 」
Novis immediately turned around and took a stance between Madi and the crazed Cockatrice. I took the opportunity to help her up.
Just us two against all those Cockatrice…
Novis swung his sword, ready to protect Madi and me. At the same time, Big Sis Kenya used her spear to push away the Cockatrice, while Nora-san aimed her arrows at their heads.
Then I noticed the Cockatrice’s beak opening wide.
I shouted as loud as I could.
「EVERYONE GET DOWN!!! 」
The Cockatrice let out the gray mist poison.
Thankfully, we had Novis wit us. He erected a wall of fire, which kept us safe.
Novis, seeing how the poison couldn’t make it over the wall of fire, laughed.
「Hehe, how’s that?! 」
However, he didn’t notice the danger right behind him.
「OH NO!! NOVIS, RUN!! 」
I screamed, but my warning didn’t reach him in time.
The Cockatrice charged through the wall of fire. Their resistance to heat made them a poorly matched opponent for Novis, a user of fire magic. Their tough feathers made physical attacks almost useless, and that included sword strikes.
A Cockatrice’s weakness was water. They really hated water, so rainy days were the safest days to explore the labyrinth.
Just then, Novis was sent flying by a Cockatrice’s ramming attack.
「Are you okay, Novis? 」
I rushed toward Novis, and the Cockatrice immediately followed me.
「HOW DARE YOU TO DO THAT TO NOVIS!! 」
Big Sis Keyna readied her spear and Madia used her magic to block the demons’ eyes.
We were safe for a while.
It would take the Cockatrice some time to build up enough venom to petrify someone else. Thus, we ran away at the first opportunity.
We had Nora-san covering our backs as I headed toward Novis with Leylia-san beside me.
「Sorry, that was my fault.」
Novis’s voice trembled.
When I looked at his right leg… It was pale white. He got hit with petrification venom when the Cockatrice rammed him.
「Leylia-san, anti-venom!! 」
To my surprise, Leylia shook her head.
「I can’t cure this with my healing magic… We’ll have to drag him along as we retreat.」
I immediately pulled Novis up, ready to bring him out with Leylia-san, but he disagreed.
「What are you doing?! You two leave me in this place and save yourselves! 」
「THIS FOOL!! AS IF I’M GOING TO LEAVE YOU ALONE IN THIS PLACE TO DIE!! 」
Madia’s magic over the Cockatrice wouldn’t last for much longer. We had to leave immediately. And just as I thought about it, the magic lost its effect and the Cockatrice that had been blinded became enraged.
The moment it was us, I knew we were done for. I lamented that we couldn’t get out in time.
I thought that was the end.
Suddenly, someone leaped over us and swung their sword at the Cockatrice, relieving it of its head.
… It was Reiji-sama.
Reiji-sama came to save us!
When he saw me, he let out a refreshing smile.
「Are you alright, Shizufae? 」
「Wow, that cockatrice was killed in one hit… This person is truly the Hero of Light-sama.」
Madia muttered under her breath.
As I looked at the headless demon corpse, I had to agree with her.
Then Sage-sama arrived.
「Are you okay? You look like you’re hurt.」
Saint-sama approached Novis, who laid on his side. She touched his petrified foot, and it shone with a faint light for a moment.