The Hero of Regression – The Talentless Boy Vows to Protect His Childhood Friend, the Female Hero, This Time Around – Chapter 16

𝐕𝐒 𝐍𝐞𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐫

𝐕𝐒 𝐍𝐞𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐫

So, how should I fight these two demons?

I had mostly thought through the strategy before launching the attack.

First and foremost, facing both of them simultaneously is risky.

I’m not familiar with magic, so I can’t fully measure the power of the Old Hag Demon.

A wizard whose abilities are unknown is a real problem for someone like me, where getting hit equals death.

And that’s not all; from the other demon, the Patchwork Demon, I sense a distinct aura of strength.

If I trust my instincts, this Patchwork Demon is quite strong.

I don’t think it’s as powerful as the Sword Saint Skeleton, but it’s definitely not comparable to any minor demon grunts.

It probably has the strength of about ten Demon Mantises.

Considering the necessity to exert considerable effort against this demon alone, let alone being surrounded by a zombie army controlled by the Old Hag Demon and receiving support from unknown magic. . . . . .it’s impossible.

With my current fatigue from the Sword Saint Skeleton battle, the odds are too low.

I need to be strategic in my approach to battle.

Facing them head-on isn’t the only way to train.

Win by any means.

Survive and win, no matter the circumstances.

That is the most important thing in real battle and the most crucial skill to acquire through it.

So, the plan is this:

First, strike them to a certain extent, then gradually fall back, feigning retreat, and use the labyrinth’s layout to split up the pursuing enemies.

Then, bait either the Old Hag Demon or the Patchwork Demon, and if they separate, pick them off one by one.

If they ignore me and head towards the town, I’ll use guerrilla tactics, hitting them from behind, and eventually lead them into a pincer attack with the town’s forces.

If the two don’t separate and continue to chase me. . . . . .as frustrating as it is, I’ll use the labyrinth’s layout to shake them off and retreat to the town.

I’ll relay the information and leave the rest to the town’s judgment.

If Rin’s information is correct, a Sword Saint should be in town by now, and we should be fine.

Alright, with that settled, it’s time to execute the plan.

Start by striking the enemy to chip away at their strength, while retreating to scatter their forces.

But don’t rush.

My swordsmanship is much better suited for receiving and countering than attacking.

The enemy has a large number of zombie pawns, not to mention a powerful piece like the Patchwork Demon.

Diving in recklessly would just get me overwhelmed and crushed.

I should focus on a defensive stance, land the first blow securely, and conserve energy while maintaining a retreat route.

The plan is set.

Now, come at me!

“Franke, go ahead and crush the town. I’ll summon the pawns myself.”

“. . . . . .Eh?”

Eh?

While I was thinking about the splitting strategy, it seems the enemy is already dividing without me doing anything.

Oh, I see.

They must be underestimating me.

“B, But. . . . . .”

“Sigh. You should have more confidence.

I don’t have much time left, so stop hesitating.

Think of it as a practice run for your independence.”

“G, Got it.”

And so, the Patchwork Demon accepted the Old Hag Demon’s words and dashed out of the labyrinth at an incredible speed.

Uh, lucky. . . . . .?

“Well, sorry to keep you waiting, kid! Let’s play!”

Though I was slightly puzzled by the overly convenient development, I immediately shook off the confusion upon receiving the Old Hag Demon’s words and hostility.

The Old Hag Demon pointed her skeletal staff at me, which seemed to serve as a command, as several zombies charged towards me.

There are four of them.

One bear zombie, one wolf zombie, and two adventurer zombies.

The adventurer zombies are a swordsman and a spearman, respectively.

The remaining zombies stay near Old Hag Demon, unmoving.

Guarding while attacking. . . . . .not quite.

She’s just playing around, releasing a number of creatures that a hardworking kid adventurer might just barely escape from.

She’s totally underestimating me.

Fine then.

Now that the Patchwork Demon is gone, time for a change of tactics.

I’ll cut her down while she’s off guard.

I don’t run away; instead, I charge forward.

Closing the distance to the approaching zombies.

First, I deal with the fastest attacker, the Zombie Wolf.

While running towards the right side of the Zombie Wolf, I parry its claw attack with Kurotenmaru, pivot on my left leg, and rotate to the right.

Upon completing the spin, I smash my right leg into the Zombie Wolf, using the kick to propel myself further.

“『Rapid Current』!”

With that, I shake off the Zombie Wolf and come in contact with a spear-wielding zombie next.

He thrusts his spear at me.

This spear-wielding zombie, although not possessing divine protection, is a middle-aged man with a refined skill set.

Even a single thrust reveals years of hard work.

It’s a shame that such talent is being exploited by demons.

Just wait, I’ll free you soon.

“『Rapid Current』!”

I deflect the spear-wielding zombie’s attack, converting it into the energy of Rapid Current.

The next to attack is a sword-wielding zombie.

This one is a young girl.

Though older than me, she has undeniable talent.

She could have been a great adventurer if she hadn’t died here.

“『Rapid Current』!”

I turn her attack into the energy for Rapid Current as well, moving forward.

Lastly, the one standing in my way is the slowest and last to arrive, a bear zombie.

However, it’s not just any bear, but a monstrous bear zombie, making it the most powerful among the four.

I’ve used its power for my escape before, and I’ll do so again.

“『Rapid Current』!”

With four consecutive Rapid Currents, I shake off all four zombies.

Every time I use the technique, I gain propulsion and my speed increases, making me one of the fastest I’ve been in recent years.

I might even match the speed of a hero.

Caught off guard by this unexpected speed, the Old Hag Demon’s eyes widen.

The Old Hag Demon is now within my reach.

It’s common knowledge that wizards are fragile when you close the distance, yet her reaction is woefully slow.

That’s what you get for underestimating and being careless.

Time for your reckoning.

“『Dark Moon』!”

“GYAAAAAA?!”

Riding the full momentum of acceleration, I sliced through Old Hag Demon with a dark-tinged slash, reminiscent of the veteran knight’s ultimate technique 『Instant Slash』, as we passed each other.

The Old Hag Demon tried to guard hastily with both arms wielding a staff, but there was no way those frail arms could withstand a slash imbued with the destructive power of Kurotenmaru and the force of four rounds of Rapid Current. The demon was cleaved in two, along with its staff, by my diagonal slash.

It would be a fatal wound if it were a human, but I can’t let my guard down.

The Demon Mantis was barely alive even after part of its brain was destroyed.

Among demons and monsters, there are occasionally those with such mysterious vitality.

Therefore, I can’t relax until I’ve dealt the decisive blow for sure.

Utilizing footwork to control the remaining acceleration energy, I prepared to deliver the final blow from behind this time.

“Tch!”

However, just as I was about to land the final blow on the Old Hag Demon, a horde of zombies nearby started to move, trying to mob me.

I quickly shifted my blade from a killing stroke to a counterattack, fending off the zombie horde.

Taking advantage of the opening, the Old Hag Demon, being carried by a zombie wolf, fled toward the exit with half its body gone.

So it wasn’t an instant kill after all.

Oddly enough, there was no blood, but I had suspected as much.

But if it’s running away, all I have to do is chase it down and finish it off.

Using Rapid Current again, I converted the zombies’ attacks into propulsive force, broke out of the encirclement, and pursued the Old Hag Demon.

Good thing I’ve practiced this in the depths before.

No training is a waste. Experience is life.

The fact that the zombie horde was uncoordinated was also fortunate.

Whether the Old Hag Demon was too weakened to give detailed instructions, or whether they were simply uncoordinated from the start, I don’t know. But it made breaking through easier, as it was similar to conditions in the depths I was more familiar with.

However, it’s true that I was slightly delayed.

I hurriedly chased after the Old Hag Demon, heading toward the labyrinth’s exit.

As I finally reached the exit and saw the sunlight for the first time in a while, the zombie wolf that was supposed to have carried the Old Hag Demon lunged at me.

With a single stroke of my blade, I cut it in half and returned it to dust, then looked around for the Old Hag Demon.

I found her right away.

Lying on the ground in a pitiful state, with cuts from its right shoulder to its left side and only its head and left arm remaining, it was muttering something.

“Ah, my body is falling apart. . . . . .! I let my guard down. . . . . .! I thought he’s were just some brat with a magic sword, getting cocky. . . . . .!”

I thought it might be casting a spell, but it seems it was just lamenting.

The Old Hag Demon’s body was turning to dust from the area I had sliced, slowly disintegrating.

That’s a zombie characteristic.

So, the Old Hag Demon was a sentient zombie, I see.

I’ve never heard of such a thing, but maybe it was born in the Demon Realm where our common sense doesn’t apply.

What irony that a necromancer who defiles the dead is also among the dead.

Well, none of that matters.

If it’s a demon that holds enmity toward mankind, then it is Stella’s enemy as well.

There’s no reason for me to let Stella’s enemy go.

Regardless of how pitiable it looks, I won’t hesitate, won’t show mercy, won’t be careless—I’ll deliver the final blow.

I gripped Kurotenmaru tightly and dashed toward the almost decayed corpse to cut it down.

“But you see, this isn’t enough to kill me. . . . . .!

I’ve been through hell like this many times. . . . . .!

I’ll show you my trump card, my ace in the hole. . . . . .!”

The moment I heard the Old Hag Demon’s words, chills ran down my spine.

It wasn’t the words that scared me.

A more tangible threat appeared before my eyes.

In front of the Old Hag Demon, a swirl of magical power emitting an incredible pressure materialized.

From within it, an enormous magical circle glowing ominously emerged, and something started coming out from the center of the circle.

It was a gigantic monster.

It was one of the monsters called the strongest.

With purple, resilient scales and all four powerful legs planted firmly on the ground, it was a three-headed dragon.

The wingless giant dragon, with its six lightless eyes, was looking down at me, its length exceeding 20 meters.

“Hih hih hih! The corpse of the Poison Dragon Hydra, once the pet of the former Demon King and the ruler of the toxic swamp in the Demon Realm! A monster capable of even fighting the Holy Warriors!”

The Old Hag Demon laughs in triumph.

Despite this, I don’t change my course of action. I tried to attack the spellcaster, but the Dragon Zombie, the zombified version of the Poison Dragon, uses one of its heads to shield the attack.

Tough!

As expected from dragon scales.

Even with the power of Kurotenmaru, my current strength isn’t enough to even scratch it. . . . . .

In the meantime, one of the remaining two heads grabs the Old Hag Demon and places her on top of its last head.

Then the Old Hag Demon uses magic to secure herself to the dragon’s head with a slime-like black mud.

I can’t easily attack her now.

As I thought, demons are not so naive as to be taken down by just a surprise attack.

“. . . . . .Tsk.”

Moreover, I felt the presence of others approaching from behind.

The zombie army from earlier is crawling out of the labyrinth.

Front gate, Dragon Zombie; rear gate, zombie army.

There are not many places to run, and they will chase me wherever I go.

My opponents are zombies that don’t know the concept of fatigue.

There’s no chance of winning a chase.

I have no choice but to fight.

“Hih hih hih! You did well earlier! Now, it’s time to start the counterattack!”

“. . . . . .Bring it on.”

At the signal of the Old Hag Demon’s words, the Dragon Zombie and the rest of the zombie army began to move and attack.

This is likely the final battle in the long journey through the Cave of the Dead.

Let me overcome this final challenge on this land.


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