Develop 221

Chapter 221 Light from Sky

Edited by: Kanaa-senpai

 At a time when most people would normally be finishing up their day and getting ready for bed, a few individuals had gathered in the square that was being used as a training ground, repeating spars with Momoka.

 Because no one knew when monster attacks might occur, everyone except Momoka kept their activity to a minimum to avoid fatigue that could affect their defense.

 ”Sigh… I guess I still have a long way to go. Thanks, Momoka.”

 ”Mm, next.”

 ”It’s my turn.”

 As Ouza stepped forward from the onlookers, the woman who had been sparring with Momoka moments ago spoke up.

 ”Since it’s Ouza’s turn now, that means you’re doing three rounds. It’s getting late, and Momoka should probably rest—”

 ”I’m fine. Everyone’s been holding back, so I’m not tired either.”

 ”Well, if you say so… but it’s hard to believe.”

 The woman wore a complicated expression at Momoka’s words.

 Indeed, they weren’t giving it their all.

 However, Momoka had been practicing for over an hour, taking turns, and even though she was going easy on them, it was unacceptable to those who made a living by fighting that they couldn’t even tire Momoka out.

 ”Shaina, if you’re done, go outside.”

 ”Yeah yeah, I’ll leave even without you telling me.”

 As Shaina, called out, switched with Ouza among the waiting individuals, an alarm sounded throughout the settlement.

 ”It’s finally here, the signal of enemy attack! Everyone, move to the defense position! Ouza, you’re coming too!”

 Just as they were about to start their practice, Ouza was interrupted, and despite looking unhappy, he put his fists down and followed the others running towards the defense position.


 Left alone, Momoka stared at the backs of those running away for a while before she started running towards the direction of the mansion instead of the defense position.

 Shortly before the alarm sounded in the settlement, about 3km (1.86mil) southeast from the settlement, in the forest, there were two people.

 One person was Iko, and the other was Jott, a comrade of Harmon’s. They were monitoring the direction where Kuune predicted the monsters would come from.

 A total of ten people were assigned to the monitoring task, divided into five teams and placed side by side to cover a wide area. Iko and Jott were in the third team, responsible for the center.

 ”――Okay, we’ll be in touch again.”

 ”Roger that.”

 After Jott responded, the window opened by the item box closed.

 The person he was talking to was Alex from the Spear of Shouhyou, who was in charge of defense this time. He was communicating with the scouts from the defensive position through the item box.

 After finishing their regular communication for the umpteenth time today, Jott spoke to Iko, who was a little distance away.

 ”The other teams still haven’t spotted the enemy.”

 ”Yeah, got it.”

 ”Hey, wouldn’t it be nice if you took over communication duty for once?”

 ”No way, I’ve never even talked to that guy Alex.”

 ”I only talked to him for the first time yesterday…”

 While Jott complained about always being stuck with communication duty, Iko also had a clear reason for not wanting to do it.

 It was because Iko didn’t have magical power.

 Iko couldn’t use magic because she lacked magic power, but she was allowed to do reconnaissance missions because of her ability to manipulate gravity, which she explained to others as magic.

 While everyone who was at the settlement during the incident caused by the trio men knows that Niya and the others are ihomono, those who arrived afterward don’t know, and Niya and the others keep it a secret to avoid trouble.

 If they were to demonstrate unusual powers despite not being able to use magic, it would be like revealing that they are ihomono themselves.

 Since the item box operates with magic, Iko, who lacks magic power, wouldn’t be able to handle it, which would expose that Iko’s power isn’t magic.

 Because of the nature of the item box, only the connecting side needs magic power, and if you’re just receiving the connection, magic power isn’t necessary. However, if they needed to contact others in an emergency, Iko, who can’t handle the item box, would have to rely on Jott.

 Doing something like that would definitely raise suspicions, so Iko stubbornly refused to become the communication liaison.

 Also, since Niya, who is with Alex in the defensive stronghold, shares information without using the item box, there was no need for the item box.

 ”Oh, but it looks like another day is ending without any attacks. There was talk from the labyrinth freak that they might attack on the day they disappeared into the labyrinth, so it wouldn’t be strange if they attacked on the second night, right?”

 ”The labyrinth freak?”

 ”That researcher Kuune… Oh, by the way, you just returned to the settlement today, didn’t you?”

 ”Yeah, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of the situation from Niya, so I know what Niya knows about this guy Kuune. But judging from your tone, it seems like you know her pretty well too?”

 ”Well, that family is famous in the kingdom. They’ve been settling in the kingdom’s frontier since their parents’ generation, dedicated researchers of the labyrinth.”

 ”Are you from the kingdom?”

 ”Yeah, well, regardless of the Theocracy, it’s not uncommon to find people from the kingdom in the empire. Hmm, at this rate, it doesn’t seem like there will be any attacks today either, so I’m gonna take a quick nap.”

 As Jott said this, leaning against a tree, Iko threw a question.

 ”Are you sure about that? I think now is the time to be most cautious.”

 ”Huh? What do you mean?”

 ”If you were to command a large group to attack the enemy’s base, when would you do it?”

 ”…Given that the enemy has likely foreseen our attack and if their forces exceed several hundred, it will be difficult to approach their base without being noticed. If a surprise attack is impossible, the best time to strike would be when people are going to sleep.”

 ”Why not after they’ve fallen asleep?”

 ”If a surprise attack isn’t possible, it doesn’t matter if they’re asleep or not. They’ll all be woken up and on defense before we even attack. So it’s better not to let them get any sleep at all before we strike. Even a little sleep can’t be underestimated. It might be impossible to keep them up for a whole day, but during the defense, it might be enough. It would be easier for us if they fought while struggling with drowsiness. Look, it’s about time… Hey, wait, do you really think the labyrinth is planning that far ahead?”

 ”Isn’t that a possibility?”

 ”No way! The labyrinth doesn’t have that kind of intelligence. If it did, the kingdom would have been destroyed long ago by monsters controlled by the labyrinth.”

 ”Sure, most monsters are stronger than humans, and if intelligent beings controlled them as clever as humans, humanity might not stand a chance. But if each dungeon has its own consciousness and moves based on its own thoughts, wouldn’t it be possible for dungeons to acquire human-like intelligence over time?”

 ”I don’t even want to think about that, like monsters being coordinated like a human army—”

 Jott, who denied Iko’s imagination, suddenly cut his words and stiffened, his expression turning serious.

 ”Hey, what’s going on all of a sudden?”

 When Iko called out to Jott, whose demeanor had suddenly changed, he slowly relaxed his tense body and rose up from the tree he had been leaning against.

 ”I smell monsters.”


 ”Yesterday and today, there was only a lingering scent, but suddenly the smell of monsters is coming. And it’s a mix of several different smells. This is serious, monsters must be coming for an attack.”

 ”Wait, wait a minute! Smell of monsters? How can you tell something like that?”

 ”I’m downwind.”

 ”…You’re kidding, right?”

 Despite Iko’s questioning that didn’t lead to any explanation, Jott’s expression showed no signs of joking.

 Iko understood that Jott was serious, but just because he said it doesn’t guarantee it’s true. There’s a chance Jott might be a lunatic believing in his own fantasies, and Iko thought that was the most likely possibility.

 ”You’re not one of those dogs…”

 ”Oh, by the way, I didn’t mention this earlier, but my maternal grandfather was a Lycus, so I have some of that blood in me.”

 ”Lycus? That Lycus? The one with a unit of beast people in the kingdom, or something like that?”

 ”That’s the Lycus you’re talking about.”

 Lycus is the name of a wolf-like beast race. Aside from their ears and tails, they don’t have any obvious physical features compared to other races. But they have flexible and strong limbs like wild beasts, sharp fangs that can pierce through thick monster skin, and claws sharpened like knife tips that are said to easily take down prey.

 The kingdom, always eager to harness the power and knowledge of other races, had their eyes on the power of the Lycus. It was well-known that they possessed a special unit made up entirely of Lycus.

 ”I may not have a tail or fangs, but I inherited sharp senses and agility, which helps me earn my keep.”

 ”I see, that explains why you were chosen for reconnaissance missions. But I still can’t fully trust your sense of smell. I think we shouldn’t report to headquarters until we see it with our own eyes.”

 ”From your perspective, I haven’t proven anything yet. You can’t rule out the possibility that I’m just making this up, can you?”

 ”Well then, I’m going to take a look. Do you know which direction?”

 ”The wind is blowing sideways, so it’s not exact, but it’s that way.”

 ”Got it, I’ll go take a look.”

 With that, Iko lightly tapped the ground with her toe, and her body floated up in the air, rapidly gaining altitude.

 She surpassed the height of the trees and stopped ascending, reaching an altitude where she could overlook the entire forest, then looked in the direction Jott had indicated.

 ’Seems like there’s something moving down there… Niya, do you see it?’

 ’I see it, but it’s hard to tell in this darkness and distance. Get a little closer, please.’


 Using Niya’s ability to share visual, auditory, and cognitive information, Iko communicated while approaching the creature stirring in the forest as she descended.

 ”…A hole?”

 As Iko approached the distance where she could recognize its shape, the first thing that came to her mind was a hole that suddenly appeared in the forest. However, she quickly realized that it was not a hole.

 It was a circular space created by the ground moving as if the trees were avoiding it, and within that space, dark shadows wriggled towards the settlement.

 Similar things seemed to exist elsewhere, as if the labyrinth was dividing the groups.

 ’I was wondering how they could move such a large group in such a deep forest, but I never expected them to pull off something like this.’

 ’I heard that for the labyrinth, the territory it controls is like its own body. However, it was unexpected that it would move the ground to secure a path for the large group to move. Is the reason for dispersing the group instead of gathering them in one place to avoid total destruction by a powerful magic attack? Labyrinths are quite clever.’

 ’At any rate, it’s certain that the monsters are invading in the direction of the settlement. I’ll report to the main camp.’

 Iko adjusted the gravity and quickly descended to the ground, heading towards Jott.

 ”I saw movements that seem to be a large group of monsters, just as you said. Will you report to the main camp?”

 ”Yes, yes.”

 Feeling dissatisfied with having to contact the headquarters himself, Jott contacts them through the item box as instructed.

 ”Alex, this is Team Three. We have confirmed movements that seem to be a horde of monsters.”

 ”Seem to be? Haven’t you actually confirmed the presence of monsters?”

 Upon Alex’s question, Jott looks at Iko standing behind him and says, “Explain it yourself.”

 ”In this darkness, I couldn’t see clearly, it looked like a wriggling mass of black shadows.”

 ”Then, is it possible for you to move to the position where I can see the horde with the item box?”

 ”Oh, no way. It’s a position I can’t see unless I fly there, and when flying, I have to concentrate a lot on controlling magic power, so I can’t use magic tools. If you want it done, connect from your end.”

 ”Got it, then please disconnect for now.”

 Following that instruction, Jott stops the supply of magic power and the item box reconnects immediately, showing Alex’s face again.

 ”Is this okay now?”

 ”It’s fine. Well then, shall we go?”

 Jott handed the item box to Iko, who flew back into the air and directed the open window of the item box towards the approaching herd.

 ”Can you see them?”

 ”Yeah, I see them. So, that’s it.”

 ”What do you think? What’s your estimate?”

 ”Well… I’d say at least three hundred, maybe even five hundred.”

 As Alex spoke, the murmurs of those next to Alex could be heard through the item box.

 It was not unreasonable, as everyone had shared information from Kuune about the monster attacks on the kingdom’s pioneer settlements. According to the information, the timing of the attacks was the day the monsters disappeared from the surrounding areas, and the scale of the attacks was around a hundred to two hundred.

 Of course, this was only about the kingdom’s pioneer settlements, and it was not necessarily the same for the empire’s settlements, as Kuune had mentioned. Still, many people were unsettled by the number of monsters being more than the information they had received beforehand, and Alex reprimanded those individuals.

 ”Calm down! Everyone should know that there are abnormally many monsters around this settlement. This is also within our expectations.”

 As Alex said, in reality, Alex had prepared three strategies for when the number of monsters was less than three hundred, when it was over three hundred, and when it was over five hundred, and had shared them with those participating in the defense in advance.

 However, most people thought that it was unlikely to exceed three hundred, and even if it did, when they heard about the strategy for over three hundred and the strategy for over five hundred, there were even some who laughed at Alex for being overly cautious.

 Those who are now unable to hide their agitation are among those people facing a number as large as five hundred.

 ”Even if there are up to five hundred, there is a possibility that there are actually fewer, right?”

 ”That’s true, but it’s more dangerous to underestimate the enemy’s strength than to overestimate it. It’s better to be cautious, so let’s go with the strategy for expecting over five hundred.”

 The strategy Alex prepared is not that complicated.

 When facing fewer than 300 enemies, the strategy relies on ground combat where most fighters engage in battles on the ground while magic users provide support attacks from atop defensive walls.

 By utilizing defensive positions, it is possible to control a group of less than 300 with around 30 individuals, suppressing monsters on the ground while magic users ensure their elimination from above the walls.

 When the enemy count exceeds 300, the focus shifts to selecting elite members for ground combat while prioritizing long-range attacks from atop defensive walls.

 Those with the strength to survive within the group of monsters attract attention on the ground to stall as many monsters as possible, allowing those on the defensive walls to weaken the enemy forces with magic and ranged weapons.

 In the case of over 500 enemies, all ground forces are completely withdrawn, and everyone launches long-range attacks from atop the defensive walls.

 Conventional tactics are futile against overwhelming numbers, so restrictions on certain magic abilities used to protect allies fighting on the ground or settlements are disregarded in favor of dedicating all efforts to annihilating the monsters.

 The alarm sounded, spreading the news of a monster attack throughout the settlement.

 Those joining the defense gathered at the defensive position, while others began seeking refuge in their homes.

 ’Niya, is Momoka safely evacuating to the mansion?’

 ’Yeah, she’s heading straight there. Momoka’s probably behaving herself this time.’

 ’Well, that’s a relief…’

 Watching the swarm of monsters from above with her item box ready, Iko muttered anxiously.

 Meanwhile, at the defensive position, people were gathering in response to the alarm.

 As information was shared among them and various reactions ensued, Ouza approached Alex.

 ”Alex, I’ll fight on the ground.”


 ”No matter how many monsters come, it’s not a problem.”

 ”Indeed, with your skills, you might survive even among a swarm of monsters. But if there are humans right below, there’ll surely be some who hesitate due to the risk of collateral damage. In this case, they probably won’t have the luxury of fearing casualties.”

 ”Then why not just stay away from below?”

 Shaina interjected into their conversation.

 ”If being down there means you can’t use powerful magic without worrying about getting caught up, then it’s better to fight from a safe distance where you don’t have to worry about being involved, like inside that forest, for example. By the way, I’ll also fight down there.”

 ”Are you serious? In such a position, support is impossible, and even if something happens to you two, we won’t even notice. Moreover, are you really planning to take on a huge horde of monsters alone in a forest where no light reaches?”

 ”It’s not two against the world, it’s one against one. We’re not planning to fight together anyway; it’s easier to move alone. And besides, we probably don’t have the luxury to worry about others. Isn’t that right, Ouza?”

 ”Yeah, I’ll fight alone. No need for backup.”

 Alex found himself at a loss as the two remained steadfast.

 Just then, one of the five item boxes they used for communication activated, and the sound of rustling foliage reached Alex’s ears.

 ”This is Team One! We’ve encountered a horde of monsters!”

 ”Didn’t we order all squads except for Team Three to retreat? Why are you heading towards Team Three?”

 ”No! It’s not Team Three’s pursuing group! It’s a different one!”


 As Alex expressed his astonishment at the news of another group appearing, the three remaining inactive item boxes activated in succession.

 ”Team Four here! Monsters have jumped out of the forest!”

 ”T-Two here! We’ve encountered monsters too!”

 ”What’s going on!? Monsters have appeared here too! Wasn’t Team Three supposed to keep track of the monsters’ movements?”

 With reports of encountering monsters coming one after another, the atmosphere at the main camp froze instantly.

 Had everyone mistakenly headed towards Team Three in the dark forest? If so, how fortunate would it have been?

 ”Team Three, can you see the other teams from your position?”

 ”We can’t see them. If we had encountered them, the movements of the lower group would have been more active, so it’s really a different group that has appeared.”

 The fact that there are still other flocks out there left many people dumbfounded.

 Among the estimated five hundred bodies, there exists another group hiding in the forest.

 ”It’s impossible, we can’t win.”

 In a situation of despair, someone lost their will to fight and uttered those words, looking up at the sky – that was when it happened.

 ”What’s that over there?”

 The man who looked up at the sky pointed towards it, and everyone present looked up at the sky.

 The dark night sky, obscured by thick clouds covering the moon, had a Crimson star shining brightly.

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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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