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Chapter 370 - Choice and Responsibility (3)

    Chapter 370 - Choice and Responsibility (3)

    Chiiiik!

    It was a strange landscape. The ground was dried out from a drought, and the countless scattered chunks of charcoal were barely recognizable. The haze rising from the ground and the heat that melted rocks like butter added goosebumps. Had a pyroclastic flow occurred here? No, it was still strange.

    "Hrmm."

    Above all, one had to look at the figure in the center. The ice golem melted in a matter of minutes, while the beauty who breathed naturally was the source of the discomfort. As she stood on the lava that wasn't set, she looked around and muttered casually, "...Okay, this much is fine without me."

    The beauty, Veronica, flew away from this spot after knowing there were no more variants in the area.

    This was after the negotiations between Theodore and Lust were finished. Veronica followed his instructions and led the survivors to the Baekun Mountains. Escorting wasn't her style, so she used her own method. However, the effects were good. She was moving one step ahead of the party and getting rid of all variants!

    Veronica preferred head-on confrontations due to her nature, but her capability for high-speed flight and her overwhelming firepower made her a fearsome guerrilla.

    'Pour out attacks from the sky in a one-sided manner and then escape at a speed that can't be followed. It is a winning strategy of one against many.'

    Veronica had used this to tie up the feet of the Andras Empire back when masters were lacking. The sword masters hadn't been able to catch up with her.

    She had gotten the nickname, Witch of Heat, when she cut off the supply routes of the empire with her bombardments. In comparison, these monsters were nothing. They didn't have any tactical ability and couldn't cope with unexpected situations.

    'Sometimes strong ones pop out, but... it is useless.'

    They were so dumb that they would chase her desperately her for dozens of kilometers. Once they were exhausted by the chase and unable to fight properly, she would kill them. The variants who were capable of high-speed flight would be led into the trap that Veronica had laid in advance. Thus, she had killed tens of thousands of variants in just three days.

    Tak.

    Once she returned to the point where the survivors were, they were just getting up and packing to leave. Simultaneously, the monk who had been on watch throughout the night welcomed Veronica.

    "Welcome back. How is it at the front?"

    "I swept them all away. There were around a hundred that fled, but you can handle those, right?"

    "It isn't a problem. Will you be going back to your husband?" Taeryun said while riding on a bony horse.

    "Hey! My husband is coming to me! Are you making fun of me? Yes?" Veronica couldn't repress her shout.

    Taeryun laughed, raising both hands, "Huhu, don't be so angry. It is because the two of you look so good together."

    "R-Really? Then, well..."

    "Thank you for escorting us this far," Taeryun bowed and thanked her sincerely.

    They were saviors from foreign lands. Theodore, Veronica and Sylvia-if it hadn't been for the three of them, there would be no survivors. Taeryun didn't know what ties there were, but he promised to return the favor if they met again. As the two of them talked, the survivors started moving.

    "I will be going now. Do you have anything left to say?"

    "Um... Ah, yes," Veronica remembered something. "Once you arrive in the Baekun Mountains, tell that guy something for me. Not in my name but in Theodore's."

    "What is it?"

    "That..."

    The story wasn't a long one. Once she told him Theodore's message, Taeryun nodded and turned away. It would take a day or two for the message to reach Orta's ears. Veronica's task was up to here. She waited as the procession headed toward the horizon and gradually became invisible.

    There was something she hadn't said in advance. Deeper than the heart, the connection from inside her soul was getting closer and closer.

    'Ah, they're coming.'

    She had a hunch before the signs of space movement occurred.

    Flash!

    Unsurprisingly, two people appeared inside the light.

    "Theo!" Veronica knew he was safe thanks to the contract, but she was excited to see his face again. She was about to jump into Theodore's arms when she paused. It was because he had a passenger.

    "...R-Red Tower Master."

    Why was Sylvia staring at her with wet eyes trembling with guilt? Veronica saw the way Sylvia was half-leaning against Theodore on rubbery legs and laughed as she grasped the situation. "Hah."

    Sylvia stiffened as she interpreted the laugh in her own manner.

    "Well, I knew this would happen one day." Veronica winked at Theodore before looking at Sylvia leaning on his chest.

    Red and silver...

    Blue and gold...

    The two beautiful women with contrasting colors faced each other.

    "But shouldn't we organize the hierarchy?"

    "Huh?"

    "The title is... Yes, will you call me older sister in private?"

    "T-That..." Sylvia was embarrassed.

    As Veronica glanced at Sylvia's legs, she whispered, "You. Did you intentionally not use healing magic? I thought you were old-fashioned, but you're quite cute."

    "Ah, t-that..."

    "You're mature enough not to be a child. I'm looking forward to the future. I hope you can show me the same face you are making now." Veronica patted the cheek of Sylvia, who turned red because she was unfamiliar with this type of contact. Looking at the relationship that went more gently than expected, Theodore recalled a forgotten fact.

    Veronica was much older than she looked. Moreover, Veronica had the blood of the red dragons, who were big on love. This made her flexible about old-fashioned notions of sex.

    "Theo." After Sylvia melted from a few words and actions, Veronica approached him and spoke in a small voice. "Let me know what happened."

    "Ah, yes."

    It was a shortcut that was only possible with her. Theodore closed his eyes and sent the full story of what happened with Lust a few days ago through the string of their contract. Veronica made an unpleasant expression while viewing the content, then she frowned like she was worried about something.  "Tch, so that is what happened. Then what are you going to do?"

    "Once we return Sylvia to the kingdom, we must join the supporting forces in Japan and move to Geongun Castle. If it is as I expect, the defenses will already be complete..."

    "Hrm," Veronica made a subtle noise and poked his side.

    "What is it?"

    "That isn't all. With your nature, you won't move according to the wishes of another party. Did you do something? Just let me know."

    "Let's see?" Theodore smiled with a strange expression. It was neither positive nor negative. Veronica saw his expression and laughed. It was clearly a suspicious expression. If he couldn't tell her, then there must be a reason. It was enough to know that the foundation was laid.

    Theodore turned away from the laughing Veronica and smiled coldly. In any history, the winner was the last one to smile.

    *     *     *

    From that day on, the landscape of the East Continent started to change at a speed that no one could catch. Variants were created through Lust's work, and those who refused had their lands stained with blood and death. They were residents who ran away from the castle, shamans hidden deep in the mountains, and warriors who knew honor.

    Of course, there were separate factors that caused a change. On top of a mountain peak, a voice entered Theodore's ears, "South Army, the 5th unit under the command of Kamiizumi Nobutsuna. We have come."

    Seimei's strategy was to advance southward and have the forces of Japan to meet up at a promised place. Kamiizumi Nobutsuna and his immediate relatives had made it. They were injured in the process, but it wasn't a big loss because Suzuka and Seimei had leeway to heal them.

    "Kuahahat! North Army, I, Shuten-doji, have come to play!"

    Following the southern army, the northern army soon arrived at the mountain peak. The blood-covered Shuten-doji gave a hearty laugh and looked much more lively than when they first met. He lived to fight and fought to die. For Shuten-doji, the strongest of the Oni clan, the last few days had been more pleasurable than the one thousand years he had spent on Oe Mountain.

    "Shuten-doji, I don't see Tsuchigumo?"

    "Oh, he died. The feudal lord was quite strong. They left together, so there is no lingering attachment."

    "...I see."

    Indeed, it was an oni-like way of thinking. However, Daitengu had no objections and just nodded. For youkai, there wasn't much difference between life and death.

    Theodore looked at those gathered here and arranged the present situation.

    'The two feudal lords in the west have escaped to Geongun Castle, and I missed one of them. This means there are at least three sacred creatures at Geongun Castle.'

    That wasn't a fatal mistake. After all, there wouldn't be a big difference with Geongun Castle's defense system. It was troublesome if the feudal lords controlled the variants, but their combat power wasn't enough to control this phase. The first objective was to enter Geongun Castle.

    The last troops arrived as he reached this conclusion.

    Flash! It was a spatial movement. Theodore recognized a familiar flash and heard familiar voices.

    "Theo! This bastard went and left us alone!"

    "...I am embarrassed. I'm glad we're not too late."

    Randolph and Titania, the companions Theodore had left behind when he crossed to the East Continent, looked disgruntled but didn't care about the danger. The reason to not be defeated increased by one more factor. Theodore smiled happily and thanked them while apologizing.  Randolph grunted while Titania accepted the apology.

    Then it was at this moment that...

    "―Eh?"

    "Huup!"

    "Heok!"

    Everyone went into combat mode as an enormous magic power was felt above their heads. It felt like the sky was falling down. Out of nowhere, a big shadow shrouded the sky. Only Theodore was able to greet them with a slightly surprised expression.

    "...I didn't know you would come."

    He didn't know why they had come to the East Continent despite their battle wounds from last time still not being fully healed.

    [We didn't come to help you, human. Don't be complacent.]

    [Huhu, we can't help you much. Please use us properly.]

    A dragon of the red clan, Brasmati, and a dragon of the green clan, Erucus-the dragons whom Theodore met during the battle against Sloth were now staring at him with golden eyes.

    Theodore welcomed them with open arms and thought, 'I will win.'
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