[Status Magic or other reference to a system or power]

Before the light even faded, they knew something was wrong. There was smoke and blood in the air and people were crying. The light hadn't even fully left them before they heard Eclair. "Finally! Naofumi, there are many that need medical attention! Immediately!" She shouted desperately.

The light fully left their eyes and all was clear to see. The village was attacked. The village that Raphtalia wished to raise a flag on again and had fallen twice seems to have nearly been destroyed again. While they were having a feast and celebration in Siltvelt, the people they were responsible for protecting were fighting for their lives.

A quiet anger and sense of duty filled them one and all. They would fix this, whatever it was.


Naofumi raced toward Eclair along with Teal. They'd do all they could to help. Raphtalia and Filo ran to Melty who was crying near a body. Monti and Leon transformed and took to the sky. Everyone rushed to help.

"Tell me what happened! Who attacked!?" Naofumi asked Eclair while dressing a wound.

"Monsters attacked. Not just here, the whole of the territory and beyond. Everywhere is being attacked by these." Eclair pointed to a corpse of a bat-like monster with a turtle shell on its back.

[_'s Familiar (Bat Type)]

Naofumi couldn't even see the name. That shouldn't be possible. That hadn't happened since he was level 1. As Eclair explained what the enemy was and what they could do, Monti and Leon learned firsthand. The pair dodged rays of heat midair and returned fire with spells.

When Eclair heard that, she raised her voice. "Tell them to avoid being touched! Or they'll end up like…"

Eclair turned to the body Melty was crying over. It belonged to the lizard therianthrope named Gex. The one rescued slave that agreed to keep the slave crest to grow stronger. His body was not just dead. Most of his stomach and midsection was deformed, with some kind of creature forming. It was killed before it managed to exit the body.

Naofumi took a moment between patients to look at him. He removed the small bit of leather he wore over his torso, revealing the slave crest to everyone. All surrounding demi-humans had a very big question now, but knew it wasn't the time or place.

"It's because he wasn't wearing full armor like the knights." Teal observed. "He was too big to give him any available gear. Physical contact with the enemy must be the cause. So… Keel!" Teal realized that Keel could also be in danger.

"...I'm right here…" Keel responded from a tent. She was only lightly wounded, but looked completely defeated.

"Let me fully retell the events." Eclair offered.


Only a few hours after Naofumi and the others left, a messenger's filolial came running into town frantically with the messenger dead still strapped to the mount. Eclair pushed past Zeke and Ake to see the source of the disturbance. She rummaged through his bag to find a letter addressed to Naofumi and herself, unsealed.

"Remove the body and get this filolial some fresh drinking water." Eclair said as she tore open the letter.

She read it quickly before looking to the skies. She saw nothing.

"We have little time. Flying enemies are attacking everyone, the neighboring town sent this. All knights prepare for combat!" Eclair ordered.

It wasn't three minutes later, the enemy appeared. Had Eclair thought things through or asked Melty for advice, they could have sent the weak to the valian tunnels along the shore near the cliff. They'd have all been much safer there. Combat wasn't terrible at first. They simply flew towards their target and tried to tackle them. They hit pretty hard, and could knock most of the knights down, but they'd never retake flight again, cut down in response.

It wasn't until they began firing beams of concentrated heat that they began failing. The knight's armor withstood one, but if two or more hit them at the same time they'd scream in pain and need to retreat to the shade of a tree or building for reprieve. Despite Eclair doing her utmost to lead her men, Ake was the only one not falling behind her terribly. The lizard therianthrope was struck once earlier and seemed to have fallen ill. They were being pushed back by the sheer number of enemies.

[Drifa Aqua Slice]!

Melty appeared and cut clean through a number of the enemy. Her power gained on Cal Mira meant that she had Eclair easily beat in terms of stats.

"Princess! Retreat, we will protect you!" Eclair yelled.

"Absolutely not! While Naofumi is gone, I am in charge. Those in charge are duty-bound to lead. I will not abandon my people." Melty argued. "I have the ability to strike more enemies than any of you. Therefore the optimal tactic at this point is to protect me while I deal with the enemy." She commanded.

"U-Understood!" Ake responded, running to her side, alongside two other knights and her shadow.

They did what they could, but they saw a man clearly picked up by several of the monsters at once and spirited away, screaming for help the whole time. No one could help him due to the sheer number of enemies they faced. They had to leave him to die, and he was only the first. They were still being pushed back and now using what would be Naofumi's home as shelter, since that was all they had left. They killed more than 100 of these creatures before the numbers seemed to have softened a bit.

Eclair almost allowed herself to see hope, but caught sight of something, something larger. It grabbed one of the bats out of the air and reeled its arm back. The bat tucked in its wings in anticipation. The beast stepped forward, revealing itself. It looked similar to a yeti, but had the same odd turtle shell on its back. It was nearly 7 feet tall. It threw the creature in its hand like a rock, aiming at Melty.

Eclair went to defend her, but saw that someone else was already intercepting the attack.

"Hya!" Keel jumped off the roof and crushed the incoming creature, shell and all with an open palm to the ground.

Keel was playing with some of the kids on the beach at the time. She led them into the valian caves and had been fighting her way there the whole time, just now arriving.

"What do we do? There are so many left and they have already set fire to the house!" Eclair was looking for an answer.

Suddenly, Gex, the lizard therianthrope screamed out a blood curdling cry. Everyone gasped as they saw a creature forming out of his own flesh, stealing his torso. "Gaaah! Mercy! Mercy! A blade! Someone give me a blade!" He cried.

Eclair knew what he was asking for, but she couldn't do it. Melty's shadow nodded with Melty before appearing before Gex and impaling the not yet formed creature and Gex. It was a mercy kill. There was no way someone could survive half their organs being stolen. No medicine could ever exist to have saved him.

Eclair watched his breath slow, then stop.

[Drifa Squall]!

Melty caused rain to fall. It put out the fires, but she'd soon regret it. The familiars used their heat beams again, this time doing far less damage to the house, however… The steam created by Melty's rain when super-heated meant that the soldiers were no longer able to deal with the pain. Even one beam could kill if it held it for five or so seconds.

They were in a destroyed building with little choice. Eclair had to lead a charge. Defense was impossible in these conditions and if they didn't do something fast, the heat and water would cause fog. They were already at a disadvantage, if they lost sight of the enemy too…? They'd all die

"We have to cull their numbers, now!" Eclair shouted.

What followed was not the most coordinated effort, but it was necessary. Eclair's decision to focus on offense the moment their numbers started falling was the right call…, but when it was over, 9 knights were dead, 19 non-combatants died with them or were carried away. The house was basically destroyed and most of the remaining combatants could hardly fight.

Flashback Over

"-and we survived… I am sorry." Eclair finished her report to Naofumi.

"No… This is my fault. I should have been here." Naofumi did what he always did, blame himself.

"You were fighting a wave in another country and doing what you could to enact long-lasting peace. You had the very best reasons for not being here." Melty's shadow argued.

Melty wiped her tears as best she could. "W-We have to do something. We fought those monsters off, but what about everywhere else? Your territory is larger than just this village… and all of Melromarc and beyond could also have been attacked…"

"Likely, but I assume we had it the hardest. While Princess Melty and Dame Eclair are mightier than most we could find, this was an issue of numbers. A normal town with proper buildings, infrastructure, and more guards probably fared better than we did… I hope." Melty's shadow said.

Naofumi used [Tele-communication] with everyone.

"I can't go to the queen for an hour, we dig our heels in here and beat these fuckers as far back as we can. Monti, Leon, Filo. You three are on 'seek and destroy'. Chase down any that you see. Pursue, I do not care how far you have to travel. If you see a town in your path, clear it out before continuing. Teal, Keel. You two take as much food as we can into the caves. When I go to the castle, Teal will come with me. Raphtalia, help everyone get to the caves and protect what you can. Eclair, ride to your town and assess the damages there… I have something I want to find out in the hour we have." Naofumi ordered.

"Right!" Everyone acknowledged their roles and acted as directed.

Raphtalia lead everyone through the valian caves to the very back of it. Melty assisted as best she could. Keel and Teal made several trips to the cave. After the 8th trip, Keel was getting winded, but Teal's unique biology meant she was never pressed in that manner.

Seeing Imiya shaking and scared, Raphtalia decided to say something to her. "I know you're all scared, but we are here now. This village isn't exactly on its own feet yet, but it won't fall again."

"But your home…" Imiya softly argued.

"It's just a building, like any other. My home's been burned to the ground twice, and here I remain. We'll rebuild it. Stronger and better than ever… We even have Siltvelt's support now." Raphtalia did her best to cheer her up.

"Are they sending aid as well?" Another villager asked.

"Naofumi-sama expects a lot of aid since he spoke of the village in such a public manner. Nothing from Siltvelt as a country officially. It's more likely that individuals or small factions will send competing aid to outdo one another. That was Naofumi-sama's plan." Raphtalia told them.

"If the rest of Melromarc is fine… Mother needs to send more help. We had the workers and everything ready, the city planned, the materials waiting… And now it's being pushed back again…" Melty sounded frustrated. "And more than 25 dead or missing…" Melty's thoughts turned to an even worse subject.

"Missing? They're dead." One of the women popped Melty's hopes, seeming scared herself.

"Well, not all of them." The voice came from the former bandit Zeke.

He came in holding a man over his shoulder. The man's arm was missing, but it was clearly the man dragged away by the familiars. He sat the man down and turned to Raphtalia.

"Savior did something to him and told me to bring 'em here." He informed her.

"Did something to him? Wait, where have you been this whole time?" Melty asked in an accusatory manner.

"I was out checking the area of the planned wall when shit hit the fan. Luckily the little bastards seemed to be going straight for the town. Had they just been searching for prey like normal monsters, I'd have been overrun. Of course, I still fought a lot of them. Found 5 of the bastards chewing on this guy. Figured I'd save him if I could, throw him to the enemy to escape in the worst case." Zeke spoke with blunt honesty.

"...What did Naofumi do?" Melty asked.

"I don't know. Said something about infections, poured some medicine on the guy, some ugly things fell out of him and told me to bring him down here. That savior is a damned sorcerer, I swear. Saved the man's life in the blink of an eye, and while doing all that crazy shit up top."

"Guys! Bubba Shield did something amazing!" Keel came in with another load of food.

While the town bunkered down, Monti, Filo, and Leon were doing as they were told. They were apex monsters themselves, but never before had any of them dominated their enemies so ruthlessly, killing them with nothing held back. Monti's lightning leapt to any bats nearby, only needing to pay attention to the rare yeti. Leon flew around surrounded by balls of fire, sending them off as needed. Filo was the fastest, but had to actively hit each enemy. The three tore a path through these enemies and each reached a town. It took them less than a minute to clear them. Afterwards, they explained that those touched by the beasts and felt sick had an hour to reach Lurolona for Naofumi to heal them.

The sheer number of enemies was terrifying. No matter how many they killed, there were always more.

Back with Naofumi, he looked at the burnt down house and the other makeshift buildings. He would not have Raphtalia's home reduced to nothing again. He was going to use a shield he just mastered. He also upgraded it in several ways first, wanting to see if that made it better.


[Golden Shogun Shield] +4 (Awakened) 60/60 SR

+5 Mdef, +10 Lightning Resistance

[Ability: Stun Resistance] Resist stunning effects slightly and recover from them a bit faster.

[Unique Ability: Lightning Shield (Large)] If attacked, deal a moderately strong shock to the attacker.

[Unique Ability: Territory Reform] Allows the user to place, move, create, combine and otherwise dictate terrain that is rightfully theirs.

Item Enchantment: Level 3: Magic Defense +9%

Ink Spirit:+50

Status Enchantment: Agility +13


After that was done, he activated [Territory Reform]. It showed a large map showing the whole of the Seaetto territory. The territory that was legally his. He accepted and suddenly he was looking at the village from above. It was a little disorientating, but for someone without motion sickness, Naofumi recovered quickly. To the left-hand side of his vision he saw five options.

Those being [Move], [Place], [Remove], [Create], and [Combine].

Just below them sat a sizable number and next to it was the words [Offering Points].

Naofumi tried selecting [Place]. A second window appeared, but there was nothing there. It was empty or blank. Naofumi then went to [Create] and saw a huge list of potential things he could make. Buildings, roads, fences, and more. They had their own costs, both in [Offering Points] and raw materials. Roads and fences seemed really cheap. Something like a stable or a water well was more, and buildings seemed the most expensive.

Still, something felt off. He had an insane number of points and he didn't understand how he got them. Then there were concerning options, like "bio-plant wood" options. Even though he no longer had the [Bio-Plant Shield] or its [Plant Reform], it still incorporated it into this skill. Maybe the same can be said for his [Carpentry] and [Metalworking] skills. "Is it the number of incorporated skills that gave me so many points? Or maybe… Because I own the entire Seaetto territory?" Naofumi wasn't sure.

Naofumi made a building where the remains or the old house were, scraping that first. Afterwards, he saw a description.

[A large domestic home, usually meant for a larger family. May be further adapted as needed.]

"That means… Yeah… Once something is placed, it can be greatly altered on an individual level as desired." This was turning out better than expected.

Naofumi altered the house quite a bit to see what was possible. He added a large amount of stone to the structure, making the bottom floor and external walls up to 4' tall made of nice looking stone brick. He wanted to customize more, but he had a bigger task.

By the time Zeke showed up to have the survivor treated, Naofumi had placed Keel's new home, rebuilt the chapel, and placed a dozen other buildings. All residential, nothing else for now.

In the span of a few minutes, Naofumi had accomplished more for the town than they did with an entire week of work before. Keel saw her house on the last trip for food and nearly cried. Her house was in shambles and she was hiding several critical issues to keep Naofumi from condemning it and tearing it down. And now it stood, similar to how it was before the waves, before her life as a child was stolen from her. Rather than cry though, she ran to the caves to tell everyone.

Naofumi eventually called Monti, Leon, and Filo back with [Knock Knock II].

"Dad, a lot of people will be coming here for medicine. A lot of people were touched by those monsters." Filo told him.

"Teal will do for now. She can at the least stave them off until I return. So I guess I'll be leaving you here… Monti?" Naofumi switched subjects.

"Yeah, dad?" Monti responded.

[Inheritance Menu]

[Select a valid shield]

[Golden Shogun Shield selected]

[Select a valid receiver]

[Monti Iwatani selected]

[Granting inheritance]


"Wha!?" Monti felt it.

"I just gave you the shield that let me build all this." Naofumi motioned to the buildings.

"Whoa…" The kids hadn't noticed because they were laser focused on their father. They looked around a moment before leading their gazes back to Naofumi.

"Wouldn't it make more sense for you to-" Monti went to protest the decision.

"Nope. It has lightning bonuses, and your mind power would probably make better use of this than me. Plus, I know this is the kind of thing you want…, right?" Naofumi asked.

"..." Monti was given the ability to help the village more, more than anyone else, of course he wanted that. He nodded in agreement.

"Good. I'll tell you the little I've figured out so far. I'll be leaving for the castle in a few minutes… Were there any left?" Naofumi asked about the familiars.

"Nope. We were searching, but there were none around and the towns were cleared." Leon answered.

"Yeah, they went towards the towns mostly. The only time I found them outside a town was when they were in small numbers or were heading for a town." Monti added, speaking while also operating his new ability.

Soon enough, Naofumi left without Teal, changing plans due to others needing medicine nearby. Monti got to work. His first order of business? Finishing the large wall that was still just in the planning stages. He would block all except the roads, forcing any future yeti type familiars to come from known directions. He even built the wall down the steep sides of the cliffs that weren't originally part of the plan. Monti's ability to fly and think about both visions at once gave him a way better understanding of placement and details. He'd adjust every building, reinforce every secure wall. He'd make the place his mother had been waiting to see again.

Melromarc Castle

Naofumi returned to the hourglass with knights desperately waiting for him, a shadow amongst them.

"I'm happy you are here. You are the first to arrive. Please make your way to the queen at once." The shadow said, before disappearing, likely to inform the queen that he was here.

Naofumi wasted few words, but the few he said were gravely important. "Don't let them touch you directly! They have a killing infection that turns your body into more of them! Tell the apothecaries to use the same medicine they use to remove parasites!"

Within 3 minutes, Naofumi was running through the opening gates of the castle. They barely opened for him fast enough. He soon enough arrived in front of the queen, who was speaking to Aultcray, and four knight officers.

She dropped what she was speaking about immediately to speak to Naofumi. "You returned already? Thank goodness. How is the Seaett- Iwatani territory?" She asked.

"No time for small corrections. We lost 27 people by our last count in Lurolona. No idea about the surrounding towns. The invaders are all dealt with… What the hell is going on?" Naofumi spoke.

The queen reached for her fan to cover her face, but it wasn't on her. Her lips soured a bit, giving Naofumi the impression that she used the fan when her facial expressions were too honest. "We honestly don't know. These creatures have assaulted most of Melromarc. They came from the east and the only part not attacked was the western front." Mirellia informed him.

It was disappointing. The western front was one of their stronger territories and now had the strongest new lord after Liviccic, yet not a single enemy was wasted on them. That made Naofumi ask, "What about the others? Were they able to hold them off?"

"We've received initial contact reports. They-"

Flashback begins

In Briarhaven

Liviccic had gotten ahead of his work and finally had some extra time on his hands. Time he planned to spend with Sophia. She was more keen on helping him grow strong now that he was a hero. She didn't want to have a repeat of so early in her life where another hero she cared about died while they were weak. So while cuddling and relaxed discussions were always nice, she preferred to spar with him from time to time now-a-days. Little did he know that a new threat had already arrived.

A man riding a filolial raced up to Liviccic yelling. Mounts were not allowed in the inner-most walls, so Liviccic knew it had to be serious before he heard a word.

"Monsters! Hundreds or more! They're coming directly here!" The man yelled in a panic.

"We'll bar the gates. Bring everyone into the outer-most wall. Then we'll-" Liviccic went to give ordered.

"No my lord! They fly!" The man added.

"...Even better then. Sophia! Put up as large a proper web as you can!" He told her.

In minutes the enemy arrived, but it was more than enough time. Liviccic had everyone enter the walls then closed the gates. Sophia then placed webs all over the top of the walls. The soldiers readied their ranged weaponry while the noncombatants went to the homes and businesses for safety.

"There they are!" One yelled as the saw them fly over the wall.

"Hold!" Liviccic commanded.

A moment later, the first enemies made contact with the web. Once caught, that was it. Sophia hadn't the time to make anything fancy, each web could catch at least five enemies before breaking free of the wall.

"Now!" Liviccic commanded.

The wall caused every enemy to not only attack in the same direction, but meant firing larger magic wouldn't cause collateral damage. After all, the spells went nearly straight up. The enemies were bombarded with arrows, thrown weapons and spells of all kinds. As soon as the first volley was done, Liviccic sent out [Drifa Seeking Skulls VII] to keep them back for the next volley. Liviccic was starting to get used to the Vassal Staff, though it did still feel weird in his hands, like it was upset or something.

As the bodies of the bat familiars piled up, Sophia kept adding more and more webs, weaving past the ranged attacks of others while weaving her web. After an intense and exhausting 30 minutes, the bats were beaten. Having the three walls, Sophia's web, and a hero there from the start meant that Briarhaven suffered the least of any town attacked. The scout that reported the news fell ill, but Sophia was able to determine the cause and she and Liviccic saved his life. They used Sophia's venom to kill the growing parasite, then removed the poison with a skill Liviccic gained from having the staff absorb that very venom.

With staff in hand and Sophia at his side, things were better than they'd ever been for him, and he still had more to show for it.

"My lord, larger land-based creatures are hammering at our doors." Silvius reported.

"Their numbers? How large?" Liviccic asked casually.

"No more than 10, but they are every inch of 7' tall." Silvius informed him.

Liviccic smiled and Sophia knew what was coming. "Then I'll allow Vasteel to put on a show." He announced.

At the calling of the name, a towering haunted suit of armor began to march towards the gate. This was Boris, or at least what Liviccic was able to salvage, placed in a suit of blackened armor. After several trials and errors, he had produced results. He gave the suit a different name than Boris to not let others in Briarhaven know. Boris was one of the Briarhaven knights. He was also a traitor. Depending on their view, Liviccic was either exploiting a dead ally or giving mercy to a criminal. So, he settled on the name Vasteel, a combination of 'vast' and 'steel', eluding to the fact he was just a large amount of metal.

The soldiers at the gate seemed nervous from the banging of the yeti creatures outside the gate and the approaching Vasteel. They looked for confirmation from Liviccic and opened the gate. The moment the gates began to open, the yetis pushed the gates open and tried running in. Vasteel swung his greatsword with one arm, cleaving three of the monsters in half. Before their top halves hit the ground, Vasteel took another step forward and swung with a backstroke, killing two more. He killed all of the yetis at the gate, then slowly circled the town, killing what remained.

His first showing only made Liviccic look even better in the eyes of the people. Sophia had helped in such a way that no one else could have. Had she not added a canopy of webs, a number of people would have been overrun. They also saw his latest undead, one that did not seem nearly as unsightly, and demonstrated worthwhile power.

Liviccic waited for Vasteel to return to his side before checking something, then gave more orders.

"Sophia, fix up the web canopy as well as you can. Soldiers do not leave the city without a mount to guarantee their escape. Someone send a message to the queen at once." Liviccic felt more in control than ever. Secure in his power, personal and professional. The time in his life of standing on shaky ground had long since passed.


In Crowood


Fitts and Chloe had finished creating a training regiment for their secret police project and found 10 eager volunteers. They had wanted as many as 50, but they lacked the time and resources. That, and Chloe had to fully vet a person before they'd even offer them the chance to join. Most of them were low level citizens upset by the corruption they endured. Two simply chased a better opportunity for themselves.

None of them were higher than level 13, meaning leveling them would need to become part of that training. However, the threat they were suddenly facing wasn't something these greenhorns could help with.

Chloe arrived at their home in as fast a manner as she could manage. Fitts was with the recruits and were waiting for her, but before they could welcome her return, Chloe warned loudly.

"Flying monsters are attacking all over town. They're strong too. I'd say level 30 to 40 in strength."

"What!?" Fitts immediately rose at the news and grabbed his ax.

He went to leave, but Chloe added. "Their numbers are in the hundreds and they can burn homes…" He alone, with only a solid swing of a melee weapon, was not going to solve this.

He stopped for a moment. Chloe had her doubts about Fitts' leadership herself. He was a good man and was smart, but he always thought of things in such simple terms. She didn't expect him to have an answer for such a situation.

But he did. "Put slave crests on every criminal. We'd yet to send them to the capital to receive a level reset, so we can still use them. Tell them they will get a reduced sentence for the number of enemies they kill." Fitts decided, knowing that without that benefit, the prisoners wouldn't be cooperative, slave crest or not.

They both hated that idea, but they had no other choice. Chloe would need to inflict more people with the slave crest, and Fitts would need to let these bastards have a reduced sentence if they were to save as many people as possible.

The citizens were attacked with little help for nearly 10 minutes before Fitts, Chloe, and the criminals exited the keep to engage the enemy. The criminals were armed with what weapons they could spare, with the weak secret police candidates being ordered to not leave the keep. In those 10 minutes without Fitts and Chloe, 14 soldiers and 29 citizens had died. A further 10 soldiers, 14 citizens, and 9 criminals lost their lives in the proceeding battle.

Fitts saw to the few yeti familiars himself. Chloe focused on killing the bats that attempted to use their heat beams on homes and calling out things as a scout from the roofs. The criminals were more useful than initially thought. They were mostly thugs, but they had the stats to win their freedom. With the reduced sentence dangled in front of them, they operated more orderly than they assumed. One even ordered thugs and soldiers alike as needed, similar to Chloe. He wasn't one of the men involved in the slave trade, he was connected to another noble's land grab attempt that Chloe discovered.

The man was middle-aged with a dull expression and the kind of appearance that seemed wholly unremarkable. He was the kind of generic looking person you'd mistake for having met before. Fitts and Chloe saw his manner of acting and ability to fight well and both had thoughts themselves.

By the end of the fighting, the death toll was at least 76 people, with 6 houses and a shop burned to the ground. This wasn't a victory by any measure, but with as little as Fitts had to work with, the people were surprised it went this well. Without needing to be told, Chloe sent a messenger to Castletown, and specifically the queen, granting the messenger their best filolial to outrun any monsters found on the road. Fitts Removed a month from the criminals' sentences for each enemy they killed. He used an order to not lie to get an accurate count.

Of the 32 surviving criminals, three got to walk free, and most of the others had their sentences reduced by half or more. Fitts grimaced. He wanted so badly to throw the book at them, but he had to prioritize saving the innocent over punishing the guilty.

The only good thing that came out of this tragedy was the criminal Fitts and Chloe noticed. Upon offering to let the man serve his remaining sentence as the 11th member of his planned military expansion, he agreed.


In Evergreen


Mia had been in her lab working on a new item as always when the news reached her.

"We are under attack! Enemies from above, hundreds of monsters!" The alchemist yelled.

Mia stalled for a moment, not used to such abruptness. She said nothing, only motioning to Walter and the others. She made her way out of the lab after a moment, Walter right behind her, the other alchemists behind him. The elite knights had just barely come to attention at the keep's entrance before Mia's arrival.

"I'd prefer if we could test these more before, but now is the test. Everyone, take those prototype guns and aim at the enemy." Mia ordered them all.

"Those aren't guns. They're like… crooked wands." Walter commented out of spite.

"All the same, you will be using them. You're the only one that can tell me how the long range accuracy is on these." Mia started handing out the weapon in question.

The 'guns' were much like what Walter complained of. The general shape was the same, but the bulk of the weapon was made from ivory and bone, there was no trigger and where the exit of the barrel would normally be there was a polished crystal. To Walter, it was an abomination. To Mia, it was a proof of concept for something even more ambitious she wanted to make in the future.

The knights took their 'guns' and melee weapons and rushed out of the keep, Mia and Walter behind them. The other alchemists stayed in the keep, firing their weapons from the windows. It was quite a sight to see the weapons fire. They produced a beam of magic that mimicked the magic projectiles fired by the interdimensional whale. Which made sense, seeing as these weapons were made from its body. Though, far less impressive considering the monster could fire dozens of them and they curved to hit the enemy. Here they shot a single ray in a straight line. So much less impressive.

The knights could simply point at a target and concentrate their mana into the object to send the attack out. The bat familiars were dying in a single hit, but Evergreen had more enemies than anywhere else. Each knight could fire a minimum of 10 to a maximum of 12 times before their mana was drained. That was because the mana conversion of the weapons was quite poor. Mia knew this, but they were only the first prototypes and turned out well enough to keep around. She never thought that decision would come to benefit her like this.

After the knights could no longer use their newest weapon, they returned to the much more comfortable melee combat they knew. Walter and Mia, however, had much higher stats now, meaning they could fire 20 or more times. Walter hated using them, but their damage was undeniable. He only fired if the resulting hit took out 2 or more enemies, instead using his normal gun in his other hand. It hurt to hold, but he had no choice. After minutes like this, the yeti familiars appeared. Walter struck one in the head, but it was his last bit of MP. From there, he shot bats out of the sky to land on the yetis to grant the knights an opportunity to follow it up. Mia herself had to return to using her javelin crossbow.

The forward momentum was great, but that also meant they broke rank a bit. A yeti familiar grabbed a bat familiar out of the air and launched it at Mia when she was reloading. She braced for impact, but it never came.

"Shit!" Walter leapt between them and took the hit. It was a heavy blow and left his arm unusable in the slightest. Mia proceeded to kill the attacking familiar. Walter stood again, but his arm was left limp. He grit his teeth and returned to fighting with one arm. He couldn't take out the yeti familiars with his traditional gun, but he could kill a bat familiar the moment it tried using their heat beams. After a few more minutes, he ran out of ammo and was far more tired than he should be. Something was wrong, but he couldn't exactly call in sick right now. He had no choice but to grab a melee weapon, but the moment he gripped the weapon, he was brought to his knees.

Mia was nearby and returned to his side. "We've turned the tide, you ought to return to the keep."

Walter went to give a sarcastic retort, but started whimpering. "The-There's something wrong. My arm!"

"I know it hurts, calm down." She tried telling him.

"N-Not that, I can feel something moving around in my-fuck it hurts!" Walter grit his teeth and continued to suffer.

Mia watched the area for a moment and saw movement beneath his skin. A cold sweat broke out on the both of them. "What the hell is this!?" She thought. She had no choice but to cut Walter's shoulder open right the and there. She saw the parasite, but it was too deep and growing fast. She had to act right away or the person that saved her life just now was going to die. "The medics are too far away. All I have is fusion-based alchemy. I can't… Wait!" Mia's panic became a eureka moment.

She pulled a piece of metal plating from her pocket, then opened Walter's jacket and shirt. "Walter. I have to do something. I can save your life, but at the worst, you'll lose your arm. I need your consent." She asked him.

He just wore a goofy grin. "I was hoping to get undressed for different reasons, but… I trust you. You're gonna use alchemy, right? I'm sure you'll do whatever it is flawlessly and still say you could have done better." He answered.

Mia ignored him a bit, as the moment was quite serious. She slowly pushed the plate of metal into Walter, but not strictly physically. She was fusing it into him. After a moment, she began to defuse the two. When it was done, Mia held a familiar parasite suspended into a metal plate. It was not alive or dead. She had just done two things she thought were impossible.

Fusing an animate and inanimate thing together with alchemy wasn't something she'd ever seen. The two categories never crossed before in any book she saw. Then diffusing them to extract the parasite and leave Walter alive seemingly able to recover. Normally diffusion wasn't possible, for there was no way to tell what used to belong to what. The process would take weeks and was never used…, yet she did it so easily. It seemed that because they were animate and inanimate things, separating the two was actually achievable.

Walter had saved Mia's life and she had returned the favor, but now she had something else. This wasn't something she ever considered, the ability to change a living thing's body. Without meaning to, Walter had led Mia to her next project.

Walter fell unconscious at some point and by the time Walter was awake again, the fighting was over. Like with Walter, Mia was able to extract the parasites herself from any unlucky enough to have been infected. Between that and the impressed townsfolk learning the strange weapons that dwindled the enemy's numbers at the start were an invention of Mia's, the people were reflecting on their opinion of their new lord. Had it been Grimwald still, surely she'd have sent out poison fog to kill the monsters along with many of the people.

While their bigotry would not be defeated in a day, Mia had shown them that her being in charge was just as beneficial to them as it was her. While they put up an efficient fight, they were hit harder than most places. They'd lost many people that day. Mia had a letter sent to the queen directly through the guild, informing her of what she could.

Flashback over

"Other areas were also attacked, but without strong lords and with the military still low from recent events… it's worse than it should have been. The only surprising news is that some gladiators from Zeltoble seemed to be visiting High Peek at the time of the attack and defended the town well… The monsters are still attacking each area again, but the first contact seems to be the worst of it." The queen finished.

"That Mia girl also seems to suggest that their numbers are so high because they convert the flesh of their victims with parasites. Hundreds to thousands of weaker monsters were probably killed and converted to make these large numbers." Aultcray added, still holding the letter.

"If the worst is past us, then we need a plan to wipe out those that remain." Naofumi suggested.

"Yes, offense becomes our best defense if our losses become their renewed numbers. We'll need to organize groups of mages with knights that can defend them to use ceremony magic and purge them. I'd suggest starting westward then beating the advance back to the east where it comes from. I'd also suggest asking permission to send troops beyond our borders to beat the enemies back further. Assuming our eastern neighbors were hit at least as hard as we were, if not more so, they should welcome the help." Aultcray proposed.

Aultcray was acting weird to Naofumi. The way he spoke during the Cal Mira wave discussions was odd, but it has become even more noticeable. He wasn't acting anything like the shitty king he knew. Naofumi thought if he had anything to add, but Aultcray covered things well.

Suddenly, another shadow appeared in front of everyone. "Ren Amaki, the sword hero, has just arrived at the hourglass and is approaching now." She informed the room.

Naofumi felt some relief. As things stood, he'd even welcome Motoyasu's cooperation, if only until this problem was solved. Ren and his party arrived soon enough, having run the whole way. What he said next was the beginning of an even larger tragedy.

The queen went to speak. "It's good you have arrived, sword hero. We were just discussing this disaster and-"

Ren interrupted. "Spirit Tortoise-! It's the Spirit Tortoise! Just like my game-" Ren managed to say while trying to catch his breath.

"One of the 'world event' bosses in my old game. We have to find the Spirit Tortoise or the familiars will never stop!" Ren warned.


[Author's Notes]

Alrighty, so, yeah long wait, sorry. Life be like that.

A lot of people died in some places, depending on the area. And while it is a tragedy, it also gave a swift opportunity for the new lords to show what they can do and earn some recognition from their citizens. Gex's death and revealing to everyone in the village that he was a slave when he died will matter later, way later, but know that this plot thread is not pointless.

Naofumi using, then gifting [Territory Reform] to Monti means that things will go a lot smoother later on. Plus, Monti doesn't want or need more direct power. The ability to help people is far more appealing.

A few places we know were hit, giving us some more information. Fitts lacked manpower and had to enlist criminals to help. Liviccic finished Vasteel and he works as intended. Mia's first attempt at 'guns' at least works in concept and she has an even more ambitious project lined up.

Most importantly at the end, Ren. He can tell them the information he has, and that means less time spent trying to figure out where the source of the problem is from. Now the only question is how do they tackle the issue.