We waded through the soldiers that were fleeing from Ismalia castle, and then made our way inside.
These soldiers had lost the will to fight.
They were consumed by fear, and were fleeing for their lives.
“What kind of monsters attacked the castle to make them look like this?”
Robin Hood asked with a serious expression.
“If they came from the underground, then I doubt they are human or demon soldiers.”
“Perhaps they are some kind of mole creature.”
Robin muttered. And he wasn’t too far off.
When we went deeper in, we caught sight of the things that were eating the soldiers.
Robin could not hide his disgust. And I was no different. Most people would feel the same if they saw a human was being eaten.
A giant ant was looming over a human, and using its great mandibles to sever the soldier’s limbs. Behind it, I could see other worker ants carrying body parts.
“Apparently, it was ants that came out from the ground. But these ants walk on two legs and carry weapons. Do you know of them, master?”
“I do. I’ve read about them in books. There is a race of giant ants on this continent, and they are called Hive Workers.”
After a brief pause, I continued.
“But I’ve never heard of ants that are armed like this. Could there be something else behind it?”
AsI tried to think, a blonde girl jumped out from the side.
The determined face, no it was an expression filled with anger. While these soldiers were our enemies, she felt tremendous distaste at the idea of a monster eating a human. And so Jeanne cut down the Hive Worker without a word.
“You devil. Go to hell and suffer.”
Said the furious saint. And she continued to cut down several more of them.
Toshizou was also spurred into action, and he used his sword to cut down the Hive Workers.
Arms and legs flew, and a bloody path was made.
Robin supported them from the back with his arrows. They landed between the eyes of the Hive Workers with precision.
They fell, one after another. It was happening so quickly that it almost seemed like they were weak. But it was not the case. It was just that the Heroes were too strong.
As evidence of this, the closer we got to the center of the castle, the bigger the piles of corpses became.
“So they fought with their lives in order to guard the count.”
“While he was not very kind to us, he must have been good to his people then.”
“I hope that he’s still alive. Though, it seems unlikely.”
Toshizou said. And then I heard a sound coming from the next room.
Someone was fighting. We headed there at once, and saw that the count and an old knight were fighting with swords. It seemed that they were trying to protect the count’s daughter.
“So they’re still alive.”
Toshizou said happily, but there was no time to celebrate. The Hive Workers in this room were different from the ones we had seen previously.
The ones in the hallway were what they sounded like. Worker ants. But these had wings. They were larger and looked stronger.
In fact, there was already a mountain of dead soldiers in this room.
They had died for their lord. In order that their sacrifice would not go to waste, I called out to the count.
“Count Ismalia. We’ve come to help you.”
He looked at me and said,
“…Is that you, Demon King?”
“Aye. The man you wanted dead.”
“Unfortunately, I seem to have failed. But why would you want to help me now?”
“As a king, I did not want to stand by and watch a massacre happening right in front of me. Besides, I feel that there is some good in you.”
“I don’t know about that. I am a man who drops guests into dungeons.”
“However, the soldiers here died in order to save you. People don’t die for scum.”
He fell silent after that, and cut down a winged Hive Worker. Then he pushed his daughter towards us.
“Demon King Ashtaroth. I apologize for asking you this, but please take care of my daughter. Take her and escape from this castle.”
Jessica jumped into my arms.
“That is what I came here to do. I came to save the whole family.”
“She is the only one who needs saving. I am finished.”
“What are you talking about?”
I asked, and the count pushed open his cape. His stomach was covered in blood. Apparently, he had been stabbed by a Hive Walker spear earlier.
“While I don’t like the idea of being defeated by them, this is war. However, please take my daughter. As you know, she is very self-centered, but she is my only child.”
The count’s face was both that of a fighter and a parent.
At the same time, more Hive Workers appeared.
“Master! They will block our escape route.”
Toshizou’s voice brought me back to reality, and I made my decision. I cast sleeping magic on Jessica, and had Toshizou carry her.
And so I ordered my subordinates to turn around and go back in the direction they had come.
They obeyed me readily.
When I was the last one left, I turned to Count Ismalia.
“Our meeting was very amusing when I think back on it now. I used you in order to acquire resources, which helped solidify my army, which is the reason that I am here today.”
“I was so very angry with you after that. However, perhaps it was the will of the gods.”
“Perhaps. I cannot say, ‘goodbye, may we meet again.’ But if we see each other in another life, then I hope that we can drink together.”
“That won’t happen. Heaven is for me, while you have hell.”
He said with a grin.
“…Well, perhaps you can send down a spider’s web from heaven.”
I said, and then turned on my heels.
It was harder than I thought, forcing myself to walk without looking back.