Chapter 194 - Mercurius (1)
Theodore's judgment was correct. There was almost no possibility of doing a general strike against Mercurius, which was like a moving fortress.
It was like how water would just split apart when cut. Mercurius didn't even have a nucleus which could be a weak point, so the right strategy to handle it would be to utilize a magician's high amount of firepower.
This didn't exactly mean that it would be advantageous.
"No way. Only two people are going to block that monster?"
"It isn't possible. It is too dangerous!"
"We'll go as well!"
Mujak, Sylvia, and William all opposed the Veronica and Theodore's opinion.
An 8th Circle magician and a 7th Circle magician were people who could sweep through the continent, but this monster was beyond ordinary standards. Since Veronica couldn't use fire magic, her combat power had dropped by half.
How could they leave the two people alone in such a situation? Three people weren't convinced, with only Para agreeing.
"That is a good judgment."
"What are you talking about?"
Para didn't care about the reactions of the party and continued speaking indifferently, "Mercurius calculates the priority of its actions based on the mana of the target. The density of magician, who is of the 7th Circle and higher, is completely different, which means it will attack them with the highest priority."
"B-But if its attention is on the Andras group..."
...Couldn't they sneak past like Lloyd Pollan? In response to the unsaid question, Paragranum calmly pointed out, "Everyone is dead. Look."
It was just as she said. The trembling of the earth stopped, and the Shadow Knights had already been turned to blood. Every one of them had been an excellent aura user, but that hadn't been enough to deal with a legacy from the Age of Mythology.
This hadn't even been a fight. They had simply been slaughtered. Additionally, Mercurius was wriggling around while complaining about having missed Lloyd. Mercurius seemed to be looking for another target to destroy.
In this atmosphere where everyone seemed convinced, Para secretly called out to Theodore, "Captain, this way for a moment."
"...?" He approached her reflexively
Then Para moved her mouth to his ear and said, "Don't worry."
"I know how to enter, but that guy dared to break in? I assure you that the rude man won't come out alive."
"Oh, a trap?"
Theodore realized her meaning at once and Para nodded with a cold smile. For a grimoire, their creator was a god who should be cherished. For that dirty being to dare step into her creator's dwelling, she couldn't stand it.
"With the sub-master privileges, I can't stop Mercurius, but I can control the laboratory's security system. I'll enter and capture him."
"...Then I'll leave it to you." Theodore felt slightly sorry for Lloyd, who made a grimoire his enemy. Then Paragranum reached out at an angle which wasn't visible to the others and pushed something into Theodore's pocket.
"This...?" Theodore uttered.
"It is the thing I promised you. I wish you can hold onto it without using it, but it is there if you need it. I can just make it again."
'The Foolish Philosopher's Stone!'
Theodore nodded as he touched it and confirmed what it was. He had been worried about not having a means to deal with Mercurius, but this gift gave him another option. After Para finished speaking with Theodore, she moved away from him.
Then Veronica, who was watching them with strange eyes, spoke, "Now, shall we begin?"
It was time to face Mercurius, the artificial guardian.
* * *
Mercurius was an artificial guardian which had been inadvertently created by Paracelsus. Was it because the divinity of Hermes had been used? Or maybe its intelligence had grown after living in the world for so long. Paracelsus couldn't return alive, but Mercurius was currently very angry.
It was because it had missed a small intruder right before its eyes.
[Mission performance, 98.2% progress... This is insulting. ]
Since Creator Paracelsus hadn't considered 'emotions' in his designs, Mercurius twitched around without knowing how to soothe the irritation inside it. Despite having been born ages ago, its mental age was still in infancy. It had been designed as a tool which couldn't move arbitrarily unless a trigger was pulled.
...Yes, unless someone pulled the trigger.
A strong impact suddenly struck Mercurius' head. It contained a mighty power which could blow up thousands of gallons of mercury! Mercurius' head was turned the other way because of the blow, and stirring up a blazing emotion inside it.
It was being irritated by the enemy buzzing around its head.
[The 1st shot from the target, the means of use is 'force bound.' 7th Circle magic...]
Toward the south of the ruins, the sun was setting. With red hair and a red robe, Veronica raised her magic power to the maximum, dyeing her body in red. She used magic to float and then smiled at Mercurius. "Oh, there was an effect. I wanted to get close."
This smile unintentionally touched on Mercurius' nerves. [Obliterate.]
The massive weight crushed the ground as dust was kicked up and shaking occurred. The land seemed to be screaming every time the huge snake moved its body. Even Veronica couldn't help feeling impressed despite being accustomed to large-scale destruction.
It wasn't easy to go against Mercurius. After all, it weighed more than 13 times the weight of the same volume of water, and Mercurius probably consisted of more than 100,000 gallons, perhaps even millions of gallons.
The tail was a natural means of pure devastation.
"Kid!" Veronica stared calmly at the figure before calling out to Theodore, who was concentrating underneath her. "I'll leave all the ice magic to you! Freeze it when it comes!"
"The rest of you will take advantage of that gap! Count it carefully!"
Mercurius made a lot of noise as it approached. Theodore ignored his increasingly pained ears and waited for Veronica to enter the full range of Mercurius' body.
At 600 meters, the dust was so thick that it was hard to get a sense of distance. At 470 meters, it was faster and more flexible than he thought. This might be difficult. At 320 meters, he analyzed the zigzag pattern that it was moving at. At 150 meters, his range overlapped with Mercurius.
In a situation where a hundredth of a second couldn't be missed, Theodore's concentration was fine enough to be threaded through a needle. This was a tactical magic which was 50 meters in radius and 100 meters in diameter.
Mercurius' body might be bent, but it was within Theodore's range of effect.
"Over the sky, under the sky! Blow unceasingly in the sky, Ymir's white fog!"
Theodore used the genius ice magic invented by Sylvia Adruncus!
Within a limited range, the silver storm which was worse than Blizzard created a wall around Mercurius. It was different in scale from that of Sylvia, who was only at the 6th Circle.
The cold crystals floated about like there was a blizzard, and they froze the mercury which had a much lower freezing temperature than water. Mercurius was surprised by the attack, since it had only been aiming for Veronica.
Unsurprisingly, Mercurius tried to escape the trap. However, it was too late as more than half of its body was already frozen. It was frozen from its head to some of its tail. There was a frozen snake statue in the middle of the desert. The rest of the investigation team used this gap to pass Mercurius and quickly entered the ruins. Their distant voices were heard in Theodore's ears.
"I pray for your luck!"
"Theo, take care of yourself!"
"Try not to die, Captain! Tower Master should also be careful!"
They were very noisy. Theodore couldn't help laughing, then he met Veronica's gaze. It was a good blow, but the damage to Mercurius wasn't significant. Theodore, who had become accustomed to fighting beings from the Age of Mythology, sighed.
'This time will be quite annoying as well.'
Resignation filled his eyes as he saw the ice on Mercurius had started to melt. If Theodore calculated the magic power he used, it should've been frozen for another hour. However, Mercurius' magic resistance was so strong that it only lasted for three minutes.
If this was its response to ice, which should be its weakness, then the other attributes wouldn't be the answer either. Was it best to buy time until Paragranum secured the ruin?
As Theodore was busy thinking, Veronica attacked without worrying. The 1st commandment of the Red Tower was that the one who struck first had the advantage!
The 7th Circle attack magic, which used force that combined all attributes equally, struck Mercurius' frozen body.
It was in a solid state where viscosity was weak, but the shock couldn't be completely absorbed.
Veronica's blow literally shattered its body. The body which was over 100 meters in length broke into pieces and scattered all over the place, along with the magic circle that generated Diamond Dust.
It was a power which was suited to be named as the god of destruction.
"Ugh! What are you doing suddenly?" Theodore scolded her as he hurriedly avoided the debris. He was almost caught up in that unexpected shock wave. However, Veronica was looking at the shattered pieces of mercury with a serious expression that was unlike her usual self.
"...Hrmm, such massive destruction is meaningless." She sensed it.
Veronica had thought the timing of the previous attack was perfect, but it had no meaning. As if to confirm her intuition, Mercurius survived.
No, survival was a term for living things. The shattered fragments gathered in one place and merged together.
Was it turning into a giant snake again? It might've fallen into Theodore's trap, but the flexible and strong body of a snake was an advantage. No defense magic or aura defense could endure the mercury's weight of hundreds of tons.
However, their speculation was betrayed in an unexpected way.
"It seems like it."
The shape didn't look too different from a human being, except for the fact that its two arms and legs extended beyond 50 meters. The two of them tensed as Mercurius transformed from a snake and into a giant.
Then at that moment...
It was the eyes. They were eyes consisting of white corneas, white pupils, and white iris. Eyes had appeared on the giant's body. If that was all, Theodore and Veronica wouldn't be surprised. However, the problem was the number of eyes. They covered its body from head to toe.
"Wow, disgusting." Veronica frowned at the unpleasant sight.
Meanwhile, Theodore's company woke up and spoke to Theodore, -It has reproduced the watcher, Argos, who has hundreds of eyes. It wasn't just nonsense that Mercurius had Hermes' divinity.
'Gluttony, tell me what you know.'
-Argos is the name of a giant who appeared in an old myth. Thanks to the hundreds of eyes covering its body, it was an expert at watching. Then it was killed by Hermes, who was trying to obtain something Argos was protecting.
Gluttony briefly explained about Argus and analyzed Mercurius, who was about to move. It might not be Paragranum, but Gluttony had a lot of experience with the Age of Mythology and explained the situation.
-An artificial creature made with Hermes' divinity... Fortunately, it can't use caduceus' strength. Indeed, if it could use it, Mercurius would be a god.
Then Gluttony spoke like it was interested, -Well, try to think of a method.
'...No, is there anything I can do? Is this the end?'
-Can you afford to not be looking ahead?
'Ahead? What is in front... Damn.'
While Theodore was listening to Gluttony's words, the hundreds of eyes had turned toward him. The eyes on Mercurius' body became red. Theodore didn't know their function, but he had an ominous feeling. He felt a chill run down his spine as he jumped back. Simultaneously, Mercurius took a big step forward.
A giant and two magicians who could destroy a mountain with a fist... This was the moment when a legend began in the middle of the desert.