Chapter 160

 Entering at this point seemed unwise.
 So, after a short break, just to be sure, they decided to open the big door that was still closed.
 They knew that such a break would only be a comfort in the face of days of repeated fatigue, but it was better than nothing.
 Fortunately, it was not an area boss who opened the door in front of them.
 Then, as they prepared and rearranged themselves, Alexis, who stood at the head of the group, pushed open the door.
 It opened slowly, with the sound of rotten wood scraping against each other.
 Immediately, they see a carpeted path leading straight ahead. At the end of it was a staircase of four white stone steps, now gray with dust, and at the top of the staircase was a throne made of silver chairs.
 On the throne sat a kind of branch.
 It was an old man made of bent branches, thin, hard, and stringy like branches, intertwined with each other. The old man, however, had hollow eyes with a glint of purple light in them, a face shaped like a fox with a pointed chin and lips, and long silver hair that draped over his back like a cloak.
 It was truly a deformity.
 The deformity wears the clothes of a decayed priest-king. Through the long sleeves peeked eight fingers that looked like branches themselves, grasping a long-handled silver staff.
 Only the staff shows no sign of decay. The handle is straight and shining silver-white, with a well-polished sapphire inlaid at the tip.
 Fransisca called in a muffled voice behind Alexis.
 Suddenly the creature turned its head toward them. It opened its pointed mouth slightly, and a clatter sounded.
 The king stood up and swung his staff.
 It was more a sound than a voice.
 The king began chanting with a noise-like sound, inaudible to the human ear.
 They knew it was chanting because the tip of the staff was enveloped in a blinding, magical light.
「—It's coming!」
 Alexis had his great shield in front of him.
 Fatima and Sara also began chanting.
 Fransisca gripped the hilt of her sword, waiting to see what would happen next.
 Valencia did the same, never jumping out but keeping her foot on the ground.
 The king's magic was released at the same time that Fatima and Sara deployed their protection at the same time.
 The fire was released to engulf the group.
 As soon as the transparent wall blocked it, they burst out with a crack.
「It's strong!」
 Sara shouted.
「I know it when I see it!」
 Alexis jumped out, holding his shield in front of him. Anyway, they have to close the distance between them.
「Fatima and Sara, stay on the defensive! We, the vanguard, will close the distance! Dorothea! I'll leave the rear guard to you!」
 "I-I know!" Dorothea responds with her hammer.
 Dorothea is the type of engineer who is good at dealing with traps. It is too much for her to handle to defend the two of them. And she cannot afford it. But, there is nothing else to do but to let her do it.
 Again, the king unleashes his magic. This time it was a freezing blizzard.
 Alexis held his shield in front of him, and the cold air that had been blown on him dissipated in a flash. Alexis's shield hand has no grip.
 "I can do it...!" Alexis thought.
 The shield of Lorenzo, as it is called, is a creepy thing, but Sara and the others had told him that it is resistant to both cold and heat. It seems that it is also effective against heat and cold caused by magic.
「We're going to push in at once! It's the Valencia way!」
 "That's it!" Valencia spoke.
「I'll act as a shield and wait for the magic to break! Then you guys will have to go all out!」
 Alexis instructed the two attackers behind him and decided to concentrate on his own defense.
 Alexis' big shield holds the main part of the attack, and Fatima and Sara's "Protection" prevents the part of the attack that is missed.
 In this way, Alexis thought that they could manage to cope with the situation.
 But it was short-lived.
 Anyway, it was uninterrupted. The king's magic.
 Fire, ice, thunder, wind, and even earth magic were cast at them in succession. The "Protection" seems to consume a lot of magic power.
 After all, Sara and Fatima are beginning to look impatient.
「Hey, can't we just have a break for a moment? Let's throw this!」
 Dorothea suggested, pulling out a crest stone from her bag.
「Sleeping Smoke Crest Stone! I think there's one left」
 Alexis was ready to throw it as soon as he heard Dorothea's words.
「Okay! Let me be bait!」
 In fact, he was sure that no one could do it but himself with Lorenzo's shield in his hand.
 But when he attacked while defending, his guard would be low. It was a risky gamble, but it made no difference that they would be outgunned.
 To ask the two attackers to play that role, they have no way to protect themselves.
「Let's go!」
 At the moment when the king shot out his fire, Alexis also made a move.
 He runs to close the distance with his shield at the ready and holds his sword vertically in his hand.
 The king rose from his throne and floated up.
「Don't think you can do that!」
 Alexis was waving his spear sword.
 It tore at the slightly drooping clothes of the priest-king, and pieces spilled onto the throne.
 That was the only effect Alexis' weapon had, but it broke the spell when the king rose to the surface.
 Dorothea throws the crest stone with a precise throw.
 The stone hits the king and shatters, and a cloud of white smoke envelops the area.
 It was an unpredictable move, superimposed by an unpredictable direction.
 Alexis held up his shield to block the smoke but realized that it surely could not protect all of them.
 But it was okay, he thought.
 Dorothea's throw would only have the effect of putting him to sleep.
 It seemed that the opponent had taken a decent hit anyway, and he would be in a deep sleep. So, first, he should wake up his allies slowly, and then he would be able to deal with the king.
 In this way, they will have a good chance to attack.
 Gradually the smoke will fade away, and it will be time to clear up.
 Just as Alexis is about to look around to see which of his allies has fallen asleep.
 A bright red light comes from beyond the cloudy vision.
「—It's flame!!」
 Alexis quickly rushes forward and holds up his shield. He blocked the flames.
 When the white smoke clears, there is the king, still floating in the air.
 He seems to be looking down at them with his pointed mouth twisted into an eerie smile.
 On the other hand, Valencia was lying on the ground as if she were collapsing. She was the closest to where the king had moved while floating. She must have been hit hard by the aftermath.
「No way—I'm sorry!!」
 Dorothea opens her eyes in surprise and apologizes.
 "Don't apologize!" Alexis said, running to Valencia anyway.
 Yes, it was wrong for Dorothea to apologize. After all, he was sure it would be a good move.
 More importantly, now, he had to protect the most vulnerable. The enemy would be the first to go after what they should be after—
 But, it was not long after that that he realized that he was wrong.
 The king spins around, and then he fires his magic again.
 The flames spread out in a horizontal line, and the two rear guards put up a wall of protection around Valencia as if they were a wall of fire.
 Everyone concentrated on protecting Valencia.
 A moment later, the king released his magic again.
 The only one who was not under guard was Fransisca, who was at the end of the path of the magic that ran straight ahead.
「This guy...!!」
 He can play tricks!
 Alexis thought and ducked as soon as he could.
 The defense of Valencia was all anyone cared about. It should be like that.
 And to whom did they need to protect the most? The Priest King knows that. So, now, Fransisca is the one he has to "target" the most.
 Because he has known for a long time that she exists and that without her pendant, she cannot travel to and from Avalon.
 Fransisca leaps to evade.
 The lightning crawling on the ground changes course to follow.
 Fransisca turns pale. She has realized that she cannot escape.
 Yes, it should have been.
 Alexis threw down his shield as fast as he could.
 It is not usual for a guardian to throw away his shield. But he had to do it, he had to throw away the heavy shield, or he would not make it in time.
 Alexis pushed Fransisca away and rolled on the ground.
 A bolt of lightning came from behind Alexis and engulfed his body.
 Alexis screams in anguish as his body twitches.
 Fransisca fell down and could do nothing but be stunned.

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Edited Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.
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