Konjiki no Wordmaster Chapter 94: Confrontation, the Demon of the Desert
Liliyn and Shamoe were to watch from afar, so they were left on standby in the previous location. Hiiro’s group was to follow Jin-u’s leadership. Behind Jin-u was Camus, then Hiiro, and finally Silva, who covered their tracks as they trekked across the Desert.
(There are a lot of obstacles here. This garden of rocks may put us at an advantage, but if the other side is intelligent, then that advantage disappears.)
If it was even able to absorb Regund’s knowledge, and thought patterns, then the battle would be the same as fighting a human. For that reason, the other side may be able to use tactics as well. Hiiro’s party could hide in the shadows of the rocks to close the distance and launch sneak attacks, but if the enemy possessed human-level thought, they would be able to enact countermeasures.
The group gathered around a single large rock, and observed their surroundings.
“Last time, he was lurking in the sand dune ahead.” (Jin-u)
Jin-u says as such, while facing Camus. Sure enough, there was a large hill of sand in front of them. Nearby, a monster called a Mad Scorpion was wandering around, leisurely lifting its multiple appendages to proceed forward. Then at that moment…
From the sand, something resembling a tail emerged. It wrapped around the Mad Scorpion’s body, and began giving off a poisonous violet aura.
The Mad Scorpion cries as it desperately flails its body around, but its legs only touch air. It tries to escape from the tail’s clutches in midair, but in the next moment, the owner of the tail showed himself.
“It’s the Demon of the Desert!” (Jin-u)
As Jin-u’s words, reach Camus’s his face stiffens.
Hiiro carefully observes the Fiend. It definitely looked more like an 『Evila』, than a monster.
It had a freely extending prehensile tail, and a body covered in tough scales. The traits of the『Ashura Race』 was still visible, a flat forehead , and above was a head of white hair that didn’t give off a sense of life. In contrast, his pure red eyes surely conveyed a strong desire to live.
Drool drips from the monster’s mouth as he retracts his tail, and lifts his feet, which were furnished with sharp claws.
(…Hm? What’s that orb?)
From what Hiiro could see, there was an orb the size of a fist embedded in the pit of the monster’s stomach. And the orb appeared to be going through a steady cycle of expansion, and contraction, almost as if it were a beating heart.
“Oy, what’s that pulsating ball on its abdomen?” (Hiiro)
“We presume that that is the monster’s core.” (Jin-u)
Hiiro confirmed his suspicions with Jin-u’s words.
“So all I have to do is break it?” (Hiiro)
“Most likely…” (Jin-u)
“Most likely?” (Hiiro)
“In the past, my comrades tried aiming their attacks at the orb. But they weren’t able to leave a single scratch on it.” (Jin-u)
“I see. I thought it was blatantly displaying its weak point, but it’s not that simple. That orb’s defense must be quite high.” (Hiiro)
“The cause is probably… that.” (Jin-u)
Jin-u has a difficult expression, as he points to the monster.
Sand circles the monster’s feet, and it rises to cover its body. After a while, its whole body is coated in sand, and the sand’s color begins to change back to its violet coloration.
“What is that?” (Hiiro)
“You saw, didn’t you? It’s a long duration Sand Armor.” (Jin-u)
Hiiro narrows his eyes, and stares at the monster once more.
“So he can collect sand like that dual-wielder over there?” (Hiiro)
Though the monster’s appearance hadn’t changed in the slightest, there was definitely sand circulating over his body. It was the same magic Camus had used on his right arm in the fight before.
“But, double-sword boy had sand clearly visible on his arm.” (Hiiro)
His fist had become giant like a golem’s, so it was quite obvious. But the monster looked no different than before he cloaked himself.
“That’s… Father’s Sand Armor.” (Camus)
The one who answered was Camus. He had a slight bitter expression floating on his face.
“Sand Armor… if trained… appearance doesn’t change.” (Camus)
“Gathering sand, and compressing it to the very limit. That’s Regun-sama’s Sand Armor. An unimaginable amount of sand is currently being gathered around him.” (Jin-u)
“I see. So that’s what’s raising his defense.” (Hiiro)
Hiiro understood why Jin-u called that skill the reason. The core appeared to be out in the open, but around it was a firm coating of sand.
The monster applied more power to its tail, and the Mad Scorpion was cleanly cut in half. It fell to the ground, although even now, it continues to try and escape. But the monster approaches it, and shoves it into its mouth whole. It appears that he’s currently scavenging for food.
His tail twitches back and forth as he appears to be happily enjoying his meal. Within a minute, the Mad Scorpion, which was around the size of two grown men, had vanished completely.
(So he’s surrounding himself with sand… Then we’ll have to do something about the sand first. With that up, I’m not sure that even 『Sleep(眠)』 will get through to him.)
《Word Magic》 generally activates on contact. When Hiiro fought the Red Boar a while back, he was able to use 『Sleep(眠)』 to silence it, but that was because the character had cleanly impacted the boar’s body.
If it had hit clothing, or something else, the effect would not have transferred. The effects only manifest on the thing it hits. So in order to put the Monster to sleep, they would have to deal with the sand and hit him with magic directly.
(『Burst(爆)』 and 『Flame(炎)』 have a large area of effect, so it doesn’t matter what they hit in order to activate, because the effect of the word will still affect them, but…)
Regardless of if they wanted to attack the core, or put it to sleep, they would have to deal with the armor. And Camus and the others were thinking the same.
They were quietly observing the monster from behind the rocks, when Hiiro noticed something strange. The monster’s tail was buried in the sand. No more accurately, it had burrowed into it.
(What is… w-wait, is it!?)
Hiiro predicted what was going to happen next. But he was a too late.
Something erupted out of the sand from beneath the group’s feet. It tries to wrap around Camus’s legs. Because it had emerged behind him, Camus wasn’t able to react in time.
Just as Camus’s body was about to be grabbed, the one who saved him… was Jin-u. Because of that, Camus was able to evade the attack, but the one who fell prey to the tail was Jin-u.
The tail coiled itself around his leg.
Camus falls on his back, and cries out. The tail began reeling Jin-u in. It appears that the Demon of the Desert had long-since noticed their presence.
“Damn! We’re charging, Dual-Wielder! Old Man!” (Hiiro)
In order to keep up with Jin-u, the trio left the rocks, and ran towards the monster. Jin-u himself was lying on the ground, covered in the sand he had been dragged through.
“Don’t waver! Our first goal is to retrieve that Topknot guy!” (Hiiro)
“Yes, I’ll have you give him back!” (Camus)
The monster turned its back to the party. He steps on Jin-u as the man writhes in pain.
With a sound like that of a lion growling, the monster turns only his head to face the group. Its face was definitely that of a monster. A face that would inflict fear into the heart of any man. But still, there were traces of the individual known as Rigund left in it.
Camus swallows his spit, as he unintentionally lets out these words.
“Don’t misunderstand, dual wielder.” (Hiiro)
“That right there’s just a monster.” (hiiro)
“… Right.” (Camus)
“If you don’t do anything, the Topknot’s going to die, you know.” (Hiiro)
“!!? … I won’t let him!” (Camus)
He drew the pair of swords from his back, and pointed their ends at the monster. The monster responds by displaying clear animosity towards him. It was at that moment that Jin-u regained conscience, and turned to Camus. Thinking that an opening had been made, he took his own curved blade off of his back, and swung at the beast, but…
As if the monster had noticed his intent, it swung its right arm down on him like a hammer.
“Jin-u!? Get away from him!” (Camus)
Camus rushed forward with unbelievable speed, and tried to cut the tail in order to free Jin-U. But in front of him, a large wall of sand emerged.
“T-this is… Sand Guard!” (Camus)
He stopped his feet, but Hiiro, who was by his side, scolded him.
“Don’t stop! Head straight for it!” (Hiiro)
Around Hiiro was a light blue barrier of magic. Camus looked towards him, and understood what he was going to do. He fell in line behind him, and kept running forward.
Hiiro wore a wall of protective magic as he collided with the wall. And just like the time with the wave of sand Camus used, the wall… didn’t part.
Camus couldn’t hide his confusion at witnessing it. He was shocked at how his sand could be defeated, yet this monster’s could not. Of course, Hiiro was also shocked at the current situation. But while he was a bit surprised, he still kept his composure.
(As I thought. 『Protect(防)』 only works when guarding against an attack, but this wall of sand wasn’t made to do harm. It’s good that I foresaw this.)
The word 『Protect(防)』 could avert blows, but it can’t be crashed against other walls for offense. It only responds to moves made with the intent to attack. As Hiiro had a hunch, he wasn’t too flustered. He just wanted to try it for argument’s sake. So at this point, he had already prepared another word on his finger. He pointed his hand, and fired it.
“Now! Rush through!” (Hiiro)
“Eh? B… but!?” (Camus)
“Trust me. Aren’t you my subordinate!?” (Hiiro)
“… Yeah!” (Camus)
Camus rushed into the wall at full force. Before impact, he swung his sword as if to cut it down, but it went through without resistance as if he were cutting through tofu.
What Hiiro used was 『Soft(柔)』. It was a word he had experience using. With it, he was able to turn hard objects soft.
Camus breached the wall, and cut at the monster’s tail before his eyes.
“Kuh! It’s hard… but…!” (Camus)
Perhaps the monster had had absolute confidence in its wall. It’s body had gone stiff for a moment after the wall was breached.
Camus used both of his arms, and put in all his power. And finally…
His blade pierced cleanly through the sand wrapped around the tail. Camus kicked the monster away, took the weakened Jin-u over his shoulder, and made some distance.