Chapter 296, The Clash
Gaston and Billy faced each other.
With each step Billy took, Gaston also took one, bringing the two of them closer and closer.
“Sir Gaston, don’t!”
Brigadier Viola shouted, warning Gaston to stay put, but the latter refused to stop.
It seemed that Gaston was not even paying attention to all the strange creatures around him.
“Stay on standby.”
He commanded, quietly yet audible by the elite soldiers.
Billy, eyes cast down, flicked up his shiny glasses and said,
“I’ll keep my side on standby as well, then.”
He commanded his grotesque creatures.
“Hmph, these things are still quite lacking in discipline, aren’t they”
Gaston said, looking at the creatures that were about to jump at him.
“Discipline Don’t be ridiculous.
I prefer the word ‘tuning,’ Gaston.”
The two men, now just a step apart, glared at each other.
“Hehehe… look at you — backed by not even fifty soldiers.
You would have a tough time against a horde of monsters or a band of thieves, wouldn’t you”
“Say what you want.
Their training was NOT a walk in the park.”
Konoha peeked out from Gaston’s collar, enraged and confused.
“Billy! What even made you change so much! You used to be close friends with my Master!”
Billy looked back at Konoha, his gaze sharp and intimidating.
“Close friends You were foolish to think that we were.
From the days we attended the Magic University together… I have hated you… Every single one of you…!”
Hearing those words full of wrath, Gaston raised an eyebrow
“Then why like Why fake your emotions”
“A matter of convenience.
Nothing more, nothing less.”
“Being close to those with ability inspires me to improve.
It was the most efficient way to use my limited lifetime — the best way to develop my abilities.”
Gaston subtly groaned.
“And so I became stronger… to the point of being called the ‘Holy Healer’.”
“…And that was not enough”
“Not even close!”
Billy exclaimed, baring his teeth as if to bite Gaston.
“No matter how much I tried, I could never reach the seat of the Six Archmages! As efficient as I was, the wall of talent stood between me and the Duodecad! So what if I’m exceedingly skilled at healing! I won’t be considered a true mage unless I master all facets of magic!”
“And so… you gave yourself to evil.”
Billy calmly denied Gaston’s point.
And the following moment, his rage subsided, his expression replaced with an eerie grin.
“YOU are the evil ones.”
“Am I not right You wield magic and magecraft, granted unto mankind by the Devilkin… against the Devilkin…”
As soon as Billy said so, arcane energy began to swirl around him, forming a circle from beneath his feet.
And then, countless birds soared up from the woods behind him.
Faced with such dense arcane energy, Gaston’s expression turned grim.
[What power…! He’s even closer to Master Tūs’ level than I am…!]
Some of the Magic Guardians slumped to the ground, unable to bear the pressure of the arcane energy.
“So… you’ve sold your body to the Devilkin…”
“I prefer the word ‘reborn,’ my friend.”
“Billy, you burned the bridge yourself just now.
Do NOT call me a friend EVER AGAIN!”
Gaston unleashed powerful arcane energy from his body.
The looks in Billy’s eyes suggested that he was delighted — in a wicked way.
“You have done well to train your human body to such heights of power, Gaston.
It’s irritating how talented you are!”
Gaston muttered, echoing Billy’s word earlier.
Then he glared at Billy and added,
“This is EFFORT!”
Billy took Gaston’s statement as a rejection — as if the latter had written him off as not putting in enough effort.
His eyes were instantly filled with rage.
“I’ll kill you!”
His pupils glowed a deep crimson, further carrying him away from the state of being human.
He crouched down and gathered the violently swirling arcane energy at his fingertip.
“Disaster of Pain!”
Then came a blast of arcane energy, dark like blood.
Gaston flipped his cloak off and took out the staff that he had been keeping within.
Cinnabar-colored flames surged forth, clashing with Billy’s spell.
The following moment, they burst into a gigantic, murky pillar of fire, shooting up to the heavens above.
Upon witnessing the impact, Billy grinned, while Gaston was blown backward.
Viola shouted as she caught Gaston before he crashed.
Gaston, not directly responding to Viola’s worried voice, immediately stood himself up.
He proceeded to shout, his voice hoarse.
The elite Magic Guardians, hearing this voice of Gaston’s for the very first time, had a surprised look in their eyes.
There was something in how Gaston sounded that clearly showed impatience, worry, and anger — but it also contained something utterly unexplainable that stood out, and it was this something that inspired everyone.
Together with Gaston, they had gone through training from hell.
Tempered their bodies.
Together, they had forged a path forward.
With just two words from him, they understood.
That this was hell… in both the best and worst meanings of the word.
That if they did not stand their ground, what would come for them was death.
That was a war cry, from his whole being — encouraging everyone to survive.
In the face of the soldiers’ raised morale, and their shout from the pits of their stomachs, the grotesque creatures behind Billy responded.
Billy raised his shiny glasses again and muttered,
“Devour every last one of them…!”
Gaston subsequently shouted, fiery passion burning in his eyes,
“Fight… to secure our future!”
Another inspiring war cry.
Everyone held up their staves, readying themselves to face the advancing creatures.
The creatures moved so nimbly that one would think their bodies were weightless.
Against their approach, the Magic Guardians were nervous — and felt quite consciously what was supposed to be subconscious.
Perhaps sensing that uneasiness, Gaston immediately issued his orders to them.
“Pincer attack! Cast only augmentation and restoration spells! Focus on hitting hard!”
“You have my permission to separate from your unit! Act as you see fit!”
“Don’t worry about me! Lead Jeanne’s unit and assess the battlefield!”
As he heard Fuyu’s nervous voice, Gaston’s eyes turned ever so slightly gentler.
The delayed instruction to her made Fuyu wonder what was wrong — but she could never know what.
Watch… and learn!”
By now, the creatures had their attention on Lina and Hornel, the former who went off to the left, and the latter to the right.
Perhaps following their instincts, the creatures slowly shifted their directions, gradually separating their forces to the two sides.
This meant that Lina and Hornel’s original plan ended in failure, but neither of them was surprised.
After all, they did have extensive experience battling monster hordes.
They knew that it would not be easy to fool these creatures, unless they had a sophisticated strategy.
“That’s it — very good.
Now that their forces are divided…”
Gaston muttered to himself and glared at Billy as the latter stood grinning in the middle of the battlefield.
“Vestment Lightning Bolt!”
For a split-second, lightning flashed in the corner of his eye — the light of the woman who had earned her post as a commanding officer of the Magic Guardians.
The veil of electricity on her body repeatedly zapped, burning the grass and weeds in her vicinity.
She lowered her stance, her eyes fixed on the core of the grotesque creatures’ formation.
This spell was one she had invented herself with a self-modified acceleration formula, to stimulate her whole body’s muscles.
The earlier iteration of it, the more flawed Vestment Thunder, had been turned into this solid armor by her unrelenting efforts.
From her lowered stance, she rushed onward, destroying the creatures in her way — the sight of her doing so truly lived up to her nickname of ‘Lightning Flash’.
The creatures’ bodies were blown away.
After only taking a brief glance at them, Billy grumbled,
“…You never learn, ‘Lightning Flash’ Jeanne.”
In the face of Billy’s irritated scowl, Jeanne sported a bold grin.