In the beginning, many of the adventurer teams and personnel gathered to combat a potential threat to Re-Estize's capital lacked the tension required to act on a moment's notice. Honestly, they couldn't help it when they were briefed on the details of their assignment. The capital itself was put on high-alert at the behest of Gazef imploring the King to take matters regarding a threat, written on a letter by a fictious Demon, seriously.

Now not everyone was one to doubt Gazef's claims as quickly as the nobles and opposition did, but many more were neutral and preferred using their own hard evidence. Even Blue Rose was no exception.

An attack on the capital of Re-Estize would mean a siege and a certain number of attackers to even consider breaching the capital let alone the imperial palace situated at the center guarded by sturdy high-walls.

The notion of an invasion was as ludicrous at the time as it was statistically impossible. There were no signs of a sieging army, nor were there any indications of an uprising concealed within the capital's suburban zones. Further logistics in transporting a potential army to raid the capital at a moment's notice were also outside the limitations of the known magic system. Instead, it was looking more and more like the King had been played by Gazef's paranoia.

Who could have imagined things would turn into hell so fast from sheer inattentiveness?

Screams echoed across the streets, blood curdling and now dreadfully silent amidst the crackling of flames.

The scent of brimstone, acrid and pungent the likes of which should have only belonged in purgatory, pervaded the encircled capital.

And what were the highered defenders of the capital doing?

"Board it up!"

A cacophony of anxious voices and yelling.

"Hurry and nail it shut!"

"-No seal it with magic! Mere nails won't hold!"

A sentry placed at the top of the capital's adventurer hall stifled her unease while peering out through the small hole in the knot of a wooden plank that made up part of the attic wall. Even this was met with criticism by those who insisted that the entire hall be barricaded and turned into a defensive fortress to tide out the invasion. Only the thought that doing so may prevent them from spotting aid just barely convinced everyone to keep the small peep hole. The smarter ones though were more inclined to keep an eye outside to no longer remain ignorant of what may kill them.

The rogue sentry was one such person. Any hope she had left was placed in seeking the aid of a stronger adventurer team to break out of the capital. By this point, she and many of the people with her already considered the capital done for.

Escaping with their lives was now the most obvious motivator.

However, everyone holed up in the capital adventure hall for safety had already lost the initiative both to escape or retaliate and were now heavily on the backfoot.

The rogue scout pushed back a lock of grungy dirty blond hair and continued to squint her eye in search of anything still fighting outside. She'd been in the same position for hours and was falling into a state of hypertension, but she persisted anyway despite her pupils turning bloodshot.

That's why she saw them the moment they came within view.

A symbol of hope known throughout Re-Estize for their prominence.

"It's the Blue Rose!" The scout shouted hurriedly, pushing off the hall and leaping into the mess hall where the tables and chairs had been turned into makeshift door props. "The Blue Rose is fighting outside and making their way here! Take the front barricade down! They'll be here in less than a minute!"

The news stunned the people caught up in argument before realization settled in at the scout's words.

"T-The Blue Rose? That Adamantium Adventurer team?"

Rank carried far more weight in the adventurer world than anything, not only due to the status it gave, but the recognition of capability to perhaps achieve the impossible...

"Let them in!"

"If it's them, we can devise a plan of escape!"

Frantically, the upturned tables and chairs that had been propped up against the hall's main door were pulled down such that the door could be opened just enough to let people in one at a time.

No sooner than when this was accomplished, Blue Rose arrived just like the scout had said.

For the observant few, they held their breaths in disbelief.

Incredible. The entire party practically looked unharmed in that hell of monsters, demons, and undead outside.

Lakyus was the first to enter, keeping her face carefully neutral despite the twitch in her lip. Then followed Evil Eye, Tina, Tia, Gagaran, Narberal, then finally Shirou who brought up the rear.

Just before the door closed behind Blue Rose, many including the scout noticed several floating blades outside shooting towards the lesser demons intent on killing them. The scout swallowed both at Blue Rose's general calm, and the display of skill she'd just scene.

The leader of Blue Rose, Lakyus's ability to control floating swords was well known through the kingdom. It wasn't long before one of the older veterans of the adventurer hall offered his greetings.

"Hahaha! Lakyus, you've improved," the man greeted excitedly. "I thought your limit was only six swords, but I spotted at least a dozen out there!"

Lakyus refused to acknowledge the older adventurer's words even as she sensed her own team giving her undue grief behind her back. Loath was she to claim credit where it wasn't due.

"It seems the situation is worse than we'd imagined." Lakyus cleared her throat and directly changed the subject. "Anything of note that any of you are willing to share?"

Someone immediately voiced their opinion in the murmuring of the crowd.

It was a portly man with thinning hair and a beer belly. He hefted a large axe over his shoulders, and his arms were muscled to denote that he spent more time swinging than he did cardio.

"I vote to retreat. This wasn't the sort of attack I signed up to repel!" The man insisted, much to the chagrin of those who knew him.

"Shut it you fat ass. We all know what we signed up for." A lither adventure said. From his light armour, he was either of a warrior class or a fighter. "We just didn't take that Demon's letter seriously until now."

"In any case, if you want to retreat, go ahead," a more cynical yet pragmatic adventurer gave his two-cents. "There's a wall of strange fire surrounding the capital. You can be the first to try and cross it to see if you can get out unscathed. We assure you, we'll be watching if you can make it through."

And if the fatass did not? Well, that meant they saved themselves the risk.

"Bastard," the portly man was no fool, veins popping over his temples.

Lakyus shook her head and intervened, putting herself between the arguing crowd.

"That wasn't exactly what I meant." She clarified. "I'm talking about the situation regarding the capital."

The murmurs all stopped. What information could they possible have after holing themselves up here from the beginning?

"In that case, there are no survivors on the east side, however, several undead are on the move." Everyone jolted at the sudden inclusion of a voice that hadn't been heard in the building before.

Many whipped their heads to the main gate which had been re-barricaded after Blue Rose's entry. A man in black armour pushed through that door and entered as if the barricade didn't exist.

Silence ensued from the scout and the others even as the black knight sheepishly began to remake the barricade as if he didn't just force his way through.

"Ahem, I recommend cordoning off a safe area, and then setting up a temporary defensive line until the leader of the chaos is dealt with."

Several adventures swallowed, hands tentatively on the hilt of their weapons at the abrupt intrusion.

"Momon," Shirou greeted in the silence, bringing attention back onto the fact that Blue Rose had arrived with additions.

Ainz nodded back at Shirou and Narberal.

At first, many adventurers assumed that Shirou and the others were just lucky survivors the Blue Rose had saved on the way, but something about how Lakyus and the others were treating them felt off.

"And who are you all supposed to be?" The veteran adventurer who first greeted Lakyus took the initiative to probe.

"Momon, Leader of Team Darkness."

"Shirou of Team Darkness."

"Nabe of Darkness." There was no 'team' with Nabe, only those she deemed worthy.

Ainz, Shirou, and Narberal introduced themselves, but their adventurer team itself was unknown by everyone in the room. Each country had their own adventurer guilds, but there was still such a thing as a guild registry. Either Team Darkness was a new team, or it was too subpar to even gain attention. Both outcomes were less than appealing given the situation.

"Never heard of it." Many shook their heads disgruntledly and focused on what mattered to them. "What's your rank to be calling the shots?" It was clear by Blue Rose's stance that Ainz wasn't considered an enemy.

Alternatively, Lakyus didn't intervene in the proceeding as she was curious herself. She narrowed her eyes and hummed thoughtfully. Based on her speculations, Shirou, Ainz, and Narberal had to be of a similar rank to Blue Rose considering the capability of their team.

"Unranked," the black Knight Momon's answer validated the assumptions of the others, but discredited the opinions of Blue Rose who fell into silence.

Bullshit.

Lakyus knew she must have been making a face if the way Tina helped clack her mouth shut and jabbed her with an elbow not to make a scene was any indication.

Regardless, dissidence now was not ideal.

"We can vouch for them," Lakyus stepped forward before the crowd got the wrong idea. She had no clue why team Darkness would want to conceal their 'true' rank, but she could at least let the others know that Blue Rose acknowledges them.

"If what Momon said about the east side and undead is true, then no matter what, we're going to have to fight these demons back." The veteran adventurer spoke grimly. The east road was the easiest exit to depart the capital, no. It was more accurate to think of it as the only exit.

Hellish flames surrounded the capital, but the east road had a network of underground tunnels that acted as sewage ducts that shouldn't have been affected by the surface flames. However, with enemies swarming the way, conflict was inevitable whether they tried to escape or die fighting. Might as well prepare a dirge for the dead.

"Where are the majority of the surviving citizens located?" Lakyus asked something that Shirou entirely agreed with.

The adventurers were less enthused. They had no time to think of others when they themselves were in too much of a precarious situation to care.

"Near the King's palace," someone did provide and answer. "The Royal Guards were barely holding a defensive perimeter by breaking carriages and hastily piling them up to form a wall last that I saw."

"Which is to say that the demons may have yet to truly take the capital…If they're saved, we can use them to bolster our own forces," Evil Eye muttered under her breath, nodding at Lakyus. "Unfortunately, this isn't just a blind force of enemies attacking at will. Someone is directing them."

"Jaldaboath," Shirou recalled the name written on the letter to the capitals.

"Cut the head, then watch the body fall." Tina muttered while Tia nodded her head. "It's our best strategy," her sister followed up and crossed her arms.

"The issue now, is where? No leader who could orchestrate such an attack would be a fool," Gagaran grunted while scratching at her head.

"About that," Momon provided a clue. "Perhaps this could be of help."

Another letter was presented, much to the shock of the others.

"Where did you get this?" Shirou asked, feeling the suspicious gazes suddenly falling on Team Darkness. It was all too coincidental.

"I found it on the way here." Ainz could only shrug. "There are many more scattered on the streets."

"He's not lying," the scout from earlier spoke up. "I went back up the perch, and noticed several letters on the ground that weren't there before."

Hearing confirmation, Lakyus and the others quietly waited until the content of the letter was shared. In comparison to the prior letter, the writing was just as sparse.

[I'll be waiting. Come if you dare vaunted heroes of the capital.]

[-Jaldaboath]

It then listed a single location of the market square.

"A trap."

That much was obvious to everyone. They weren't heroes to begin with.

However, at least the location of Jaldaboath was now known.

To Lakyus, this was enough despite the rest of her party members showing apprehension. They all knew their leader's personality.

"The Blue Roses will move to strike Jaldaboath." Lakyus declared. Tina and Tia grumbled. It was as the twins expected. "Is there anyone willing to join us?"

Only Team Darkness seemed willing, the others stiffly inching away, or not answering at all. Their priority was to live, and with escape out of the equation, they could only depend on those more capable to defeat the ringleader.

"I see…" Lakyus snorted, but didn't hold it against her fellow compatriots. "If that's the case, the rest of you will create a defensive line and make sure to prevent other demons from interfering."

This wouldn't be a fight for duty or honor, but a fight for their lives.

Win.

They would win!

"Impossible." Already, pessimism was worming its way through, looking for any sort of excuse to avoid participation. "Our weapons can barely even do anything against these monsters."

This time, Shirou stepped forward seeing right through what the others were doing.

"Equipment won't be a problem."

He could provide the remedy.

No excuses.


"Cheer up leader. What's there to complain about?"

Nothing, obviously. Lakyus was beside herself as she crossed her arms while preparations were underway for the operation.

Gagaran gave Lakyus one of her infuriating 'is that so' expressions while Tina and Tia had mirth dancing in their eyes. Evil Eye bless her was only one not drawing amusement from the leader's expense.

Lakyus glanced away, impatiently tapping her foot on the ground. No matter how she thought about it, it was still ridiculous. And no. It wasn't because she was jealous. That was only part.

Shirou of team Darkness was a walking armory of high tier weapons. You name it, he had it. Give him your preferences, the ability you can handle, and your fighting style, and he could fit you with your most suitable weapon.

Already, Lakyus could hear the murmurs of the crowd. Then, she began picturing the news that would come of this through the world's adventurer channels should they survive. Shirou was giving out equipment that lower tiered adventurer teams could only dream of at no expense and that bastard…he still didn't give her anything.

She shook her head and focused, but drew the fucking line when Shirou glanced at her sword, and made an exact copy of it which he offered to Momon. Based on the weapon's history, Shirou found it somewhat fitting that Momon, another Black Knight was quite suitable to wield it. It could have just been him, but the demonic nature of the blade practically became tame in Momon's hands.

Oh, wait. Momon was a dual wielder.

Shirou hummed, and in the next second, he offered Momon another copy. Moreover, Momon was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth considering her may have use of them.

"-What the fuck?!" Lakyus could no longer pretend to not see it and stomped her way over.

Copy her flying swords fine, but this, this was her most defining trait. Only the most virtuous woman of faith should have had the holy energy to suppress the inherent demonic nature of her sword Kilineiram.

Those had to be fakes!

On impulse, she snatched the copies so fast that they clattered to the ground along with her own sword when she tripped onto her knees. Her legs splayed out on either side of her as she stared at the three identical blades now scattered in front of her. Each had demonic aura, were crafted to perfection, and felt the same to the point she fell into goddamn silence even after holding and testing the hilt of each one.

She couldn't tell which was hers…she let out a sob.

For some reason she felt like crying. It was the first time she'd ever felt so horribly overshadowed both in character and skill set.

"Ms. Lakyus?" Shirou sincerely offered a hand.

"…How?!" Lakyus clung to his leg, demanding answers.

Ainz preferred to keep the secrecy of Shirou's ability, but by this point it was probably too late. Instead, he was quietly thinking of how he could make use of this while Shirou gave a brief explanation without going into any details.

Shirou had already weighed his future troubles less than saving the lives of those who needed saving now. There was no point in him holding back, and so spoke in earnest.

Lakyus wasn't the only one who inevitably extended an ear over in curiosity.

The answer would stun all of them.

"Then all the weapons you gave and created…they are copies?"

"Yes. I've seen them all before."

Lakyus hissed. Her own sword was proof that this was no bluff. She dared to imagine what this could mean both logistically and tactically if Shirou laid eyes on the strongest weapons held as treasures by the kingdoms of the world.

Any kingdom would kill for-!

Lakyus glanced around at the sudden shifting expressions of those around her. The capital was a melting pot of touring nationalities and kingdom representatives. If they all survived, the ramifications of such a unique skill spreading were not lost on Lakyus.

Forget it for now.

Solving the attack on the capital still took precedence.

Lakyus shakily pulled her head out of the gutter. However, she couldn't quite contain the sour face she was making as Momon took back the copies of Kilineiram Shirou had made for him.

Bastard! How could he possibly wield two Kilineirams when the burden of just one already taxed Lakyus greatly. Was the difference between them as knights so wide, or was there some secret to suppressing the demonic energy she was unaware of?

In that case, maybe she could be supplemented by something better to make up for making her feel so depressed?

Lakyus swallowed and couldn't help but nervously raise an expectant hand at Shirou. Give it here. It was clearly her turn.

Shirou took this as a sign to help Lakyus back onto her feet. He clasped her hand with his, and gingerly pulled her up.

The utterly flat face she made at him after, had him retreating into helping others gear themselves up.

"Hahahaha, nice try leader! Better luck next time!" Gagaran patted Lakyus on the shoulder.

"Am I repulsive?" Lakyus suddenly asked, pursing her lips. "Did I do something wrong?"

In truth, Shirou didn't offer Lakyus a new weapon because Kilineiram was already more than sufficient. Still,

"Objectively, that's beside the point." Evil Eye answered Lakyus in consolation.

"Hey, are you really saying I'm ugly?" Lakyus's eye spasmed.

"You're the one responding," Tina and Tia hung their arms over Lakyus. "Maybe he's just preparing something special for you?"

She hated everyone right now. Damn it all.

Lakyus glanced around at the defensive line beginning to form on the surrounding roads to the capital square. The area had been momentarily cleared out by bolts of Tier Magic from Narberal. This gave time to form a semblance of a formation before the enemies returned in full.

For as far as Lakyus could tell, everything was going according to plan, but still, insurance was needed.

"Gagaran, Tina, and Tia. You three stay behind and help hold the line. I've an inkling that our associates may crumble too quickly without leadership." Lakyus deduced while Gagaran, Tina, and Tia nodded. "Evil Eye and I will continue forward with Momon, Shirou, and Nabe to confront the Demon."

Originally, the plan was for all of Blue Rose to participate in the battle against Jaldaboath with team Darkness. However, Lakyus made the decision to split the party after thinking better of it. A pincer at the flank would doom everyone to death.

With this in mind, a small ragtag group of adventurers were now set to enter what was likely the nefarious trap of a Demon.

It was only after Shirou and the others were out of sight that Gagaran, Tia, and Tina shifted their expressions.

They had appeared confident, but the truth was that their experiences screamed of a difficult undertaking ahead. They could already tell by the expressions on the faces of their allies that morale was low if not rock-bottom. If not for the allure of the quality equipment Shirou so readily offered, many would not even be standing here.

"Tina, Tia," Gagaran said while readying her new axe. "I'll take the front, please cover my sides."

"Of course," Tia and Tina answered, pulling a thief's half mask over their faces. "Leave it to us."

The approaching undead reached the defensive line.


The way to the capital square was clear of all obstacles. Not a single enemy appeared to impede their way, making it more and more clear that something foul was likely afoot.

For his part, Shirou was busy analysing what could be gained from all this. The Demon had the advantage of anonymity in the shadows while they ran blind in the light. Therefore, why give his or her position away? Could it be pride or arrogance?

It made sense, but at the same time, Shirou had his doubts. If pride was at the forefront, why were the letters sent so cryptic? It felt as if there was an elaborate ruse behind all the trouble, but the brutish appearance of the demon awaiting them at the center of the square alleviated such suspicions.

It looked like power incarnate as a fearsome demon. Fangs protruded from its mouth, and its body was covered by blackened scales heated on the tips and producing glowing embers. Stout arms, sharp claws, flaming wings, and swaying snake tail added to a behemoth that towered over three meters.

Upon seeing it, Lakyus and Evil Eye slowed their strides until they'd come to a complete stop. The sheer pressure of intimidation it exuded was far beyond anything Lakyus had ever experienced, and in Evil Eye's case, such a feeling had only been present in her days as one of the Thirteen Heroes.

This was a monster equivalent if not greater than the threat of the past.

Evil Eye felt her stomach constrict in deep concern.

"Allow me to take action first," Momon raised an arm and grunted almost sheepishly at Shirou as if Lakyus and Evil Eye turning to stare at him incredulously meant nothing.

Shirou gauged the relative strength of the enemy in front of him, and then compared it to what he saw of Momon's capability in his clash against Shalltear.

Shalltear was stronger. Soloing shouldn't be a problem here.

Finally, one last push by Ainz convinced him.

"You've already contributed more to the situation than you'd think with your ability to supply quality weaponry to the point I feel like I've done nothing as the team leader," Ainz pointed out.

Shirou conceded. Moreover, he was more interested in searching for any signs of life that he could save while Momon kept Jaldaboath distracted. Considering the difference in the Demon's strength and Momon's, it shouldn't take long anyway.

Team Darkness's attitude was incredibly Blaise considering the direness of the situation.

It reminded Evil Eye of the past. The odd bantering and confidence between her former comrades of the legendary Thirteen.

Evil Eye stiffened, feeling as if she'd returned to that point back then where no problem was a problem in the face of the Thirteen strong.

Heroes in every sense of the word.

That same disposition was revealed here in Momon, Shirou, and Nabe, who all remained composed in the face of the Demon silently waiting before them. The could not be said for Blue Rose's current party leader.

As Ainz stepped forward, Lakyus hurried to stop him.

"Wait wait, hold on. What are you doing?!" Lakyus hissed, scowling.

If Ainz had a face, he'd be raising his brows. "To battle," he said simply.

It was not what Lakyus wanted to hear. She wasn't stupid and could infer Ainz's actions on her own. Was he just playing a fool?

"No, I mean why are you going by yourself?!" Lakyus demanded, trying to remind them why they moved in a group in the first place. Seeing no reaction from Ainz, Lakyus turned to Shirou and Narberal. "And the two of you, do you not feel ashamed or concerned at all to not even admonish something that's clearly wrong?!"

Shirou could see where Lakyus was coming from, but he also knew enough heroes to know that many abhorred being helped in the middle of a duel. Especially knights, as Momon appeared to be. Saber would be the first to admonish him if he didn't respect the integrity of a knight's honour. As for Narberal, she'd never question Ainz to begin with.

Frustrated at Shirou and Narberal's lack of a reaction, Lakyus took the entirety of Team Darkness in and shared her wisdom as a veteran adventurer.

"It's the job of the party leader to make the calls, but it's the job of the party members to veto the leader if he's being stupid-!"

The sound of buzzing lightning suddenly resounded amidst the crackle of the distant flames.

Narberal was suddenly right in front of Lakyus's face with the coldest glare she could muster; the density of the magic energy flaring around her even put Evil Eye on edge.

Evil Eye could sense it as a Magic Caster herself. A tier that perhaps surpassed even her own…

Lakyus held her ground and refused to admit that she felt cowed at Narberal's display even for a moment. She was in the right here. Still, she'd expected some anger as no one liked being insulted for their inaction, but this felt different. It was like her foot was already pressed over a magic landmine and any wrong word or movement would set it off.

"Nabe." Momon warned without turning his back to address a murderous Narberal

"How dare-"

"-Nabe," Ainz's tone hardened as Narberal seethed and finally withdrew, features stony.

Lakyus subconsciously swallowed. She was just trying to look out for them before they get too in over their heads. How could this even make sense? Could they not feel the same oppressiveness exuding from that demon as she could?

"Ahem. Lakyus,"

Oh what now?! Lakyus rounded on her own party member, pulling on her pant leg.

Evil Eye cleared her throat and tentatively proposed her thoughts.

"Perhaps they might have their own arrangements."

…Not you too.

Lakyus felt defeated.

Was she the only sane one?!


Thanks for reading and sorry for delays! It took a bit longer than intended

Next update: To be announced

P a treon. com (slash) Parcasious

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The Lonely Peak

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