“Get up! It’s not over yet!”
As the people were being overwhelmed by a sense of despair, a voice that refused to give up rang out.
“It’s foolish if you just sit there and accept death! If we’re going to lose anyway, then you should at least try and fight our way out!”
It was Claire-sama.
While everybody else was still kneeling, she was the only one who was still standing proudly as she shouted.
Yep, this is it.
This is Claire-sama.
“Even you, Rei. What’s with that hopeless look on your face? What happened to your usual insolent attitude!”
Claire-sama smacked me strongly across my back.
That’s right―― this was considered a reward in our industry.
“I’m sorry, Claire-sama. I’m fine now.”
“Glad to hear it.”
Claire-sama had a satisfied smile on her face.
She was always there to lift my spirits whenever I was feeling disheartened.
“Huh, I have to commend your courage.”
Even Plato on the side of the demon queen didn’t hold back his admiration.
That’s how formidable the demon queen was.
“Thanks, Claire. I’ll fight to the end as well.”
“I have to do my best too, huh.”
“Yuu-sama, I’ll fight with you.”
Manaria-sama, Yuu-sama, and Misha joined in.
All of them acted as the escorts alongside the main group, but once they seemed to realize something was happening, they came running to the vanguard.
“You all came. Fine, first of all, I’ll–”
It was none other than the demon queen who interrupted Plato’s words as he tried to take initiative.
“You don’t need to meddle. Let me do it.”
“No, but, Demon Queen. What about Claire François?”
“I’ll need your help eventually. However, until they give up, let me take care of it.”
Saying that, the demon queen slowly walked towards us.
“Now, come at me if you want.”
The demon queen beckoned us a voice that sounded strangely human no matter how inhuman it was.
“Every, let’s go! As long as we can bring down the demon queen, we will bring the war between humanity and demons to the end!”
“I’ll support you with all my strength, Claire-sama! Don’t hold back!”
“I won’t give in either.”
“Misha, we’re going!”
The curtain rose on the battle against despair.
“Onee-sama, Yuu-sama, I leave the vanguard to you!”
“Count on me.”
Manaria-sama and Yuu-sama took positions in the vanguard, Claire-sama was in the center, and Misha and I were in the rearguard.
At Claire-sama’s orders, Manaria-sama and Yuu-sama closed the gap with the demon queen.
Yuu-sama’s technique called Ice Princess looked terrific, but Manaria-sama surpassed even it.
“First, how about this?”
Manaria-sama generated a coldly shining ice sword and slashed at the demon queen.
However, the demon queen didn’t even flinch.
Manaria-sama’s ice sword shattered before it could touch the demon queen’s body.
The magical barrier surrounding her was like a thick wall that blocked the attack.
“I’ll use those, okay?”
As Yuu-sama said that, the shards of Manaria-sama’s shattered ice sword poured on the demon queen as if they had a will of their own.
“It’s not over yet.”
While the demon queen was left vulnerable by the rain of ice shards, Manaria-sama cast another spell.
Earthen fangs that looked like the jaws of a dragon snapped at the demon queen.
“… I didn’t think it would be easy, but…”
“It’s disheartening when we go that far without any results, isn’t it?”
The demon queen didn’t even do anything to stop the attacks.
She just stood there, looking at us.
“Misha, how is it going?”
“No luck. My sound magic doesn’t seem to be working either.”
I’d thought Misha’s special wind magic could perhaps get through the barrier, but it didn’t work as expected.
“Onee-sama, Yuu-sama, please step aside!”
At the sound of Claire-sama’s voice, they instantly reacted and cleared the way.
She must’ve judged that flame arrows or spears would be ineffective against the demon queen.
Claire-sama started off with her trump card, Magical Ray.
Four dazzling beams of light assaulted the demon queen.
“Take this too!”
Together with Claire-sama, I also used my spell with the highest firepower – Absolute Zero.
The magic power of my Absolute Zero, that can instantly freeze and crush the target, rushed towards the demon queen.
The demon queen was alive and well.
“Kh… There’s no scratch on her…”
Even with our strongest attacks, we couldn’t make the demon queen flinch.
The demon queen was just calmly looking at us.
“… Are you… satisfied?”
That voice that sounded both like an infant and like an old man again.
In a tone that sounded more like she was pitying than mocking us, the demon queen asked us if we were already surrendering.
“Not yet! … Onee-sama, can you do something about that barrier with Spell Breaker?”
Claire-sama firmly replied and then secretly asked Manaria-sama a question.
“It’s impossible. I’ve been trying to analyze it since a while ago, but I can’t figure out the structure of the magic. I’ve never seen such a complex structure before.”
Manaria-sama’s forte, Spell Breaker and Dominator, were immensely powerful, but the activation conditions were difficult.
Once they were activated, they had deadly power, but to do that she had to completely analyze her opponent’s magic.
“Rei, let’s try the chorus. That’s all that we have left.”
I agreed with Claire-sama’s suggestion.
I approached Claire-sama in the center position and tried taking her hand.
At Claire-sama’s warning, I immediately twisted my body.
Sharp pain ran through my right upper arm.
I stopped Claire-sama as she tried to come closer with my hand and looked at the demon queen.
Before I knew it, she’d been pointing a finger at me.
I couldn’t perceive, but she’d probably attacked me.
… But why?
Until then, she’d shown no signs of moving.
“Even if you are the demon queen, you are afraid of our chorus?”
The demon queen didn’t answer.
Instead, she increased fingers pointing at me to all five.
I hastily sank the ground under my feet and squatted down.
A moment later, a line of darkness passed where my body had been.
“What’s the matter, Demon Queen. Aren’t you being extremely hostile against me?”
The demon queen remained silent.
However, was it just my imagination that I sensed vague irritation from her.
“Rei, don’t say anything that could provoke her!”
“It’s okay, Claire-sama. Please watch from over there.”
Nothing was okay, but I put on a brave front.
“If you want to fight me, that’s just perfect. Let’s both go all out!”
Before I even finished saying that, I activated Judecca.
I froze the entire space around the demon queen to block her movements.
Serial Magic Cocytus.
Although it couldn’t match Absolute Zero in terms of concentrated firepower, it was superior when it came to the area of effect and difficulty to avoid.
And the result was–.
I heard Claire-sama’s scream.
I thought her voice was strangely close to me, and the next moment my body was strongly pushed away.
I watched what was happening in slow motion.
I saw Claire-sama pushing me away, and dozens of dark flashes about to shoot through her body.
I reached out my hand.
But, I couldn’t reach her.
Was it hopeless?
Would I lose Claire-sama this time?
The moment I thought that.
At the same time as that spell was swiftly chanted, Claire-sama’s body was pushed high up.
The dark flashes that impacted too late shattered the earth.
In a fluster I caught Claire-sama after she’d lost her footing and fallen.
“Are you okay, Claire-sama!?”
“Yes, although it was a close call. More importantly, that magic――.”
The magic used now to create the footing and push Claire-sama up was very familiar to me.
It was nothing else but the magic I often used for emergency evasion.
As I mentioned before, I added my own spin to this magic.
And the Uplift the demon queen used matched that spin to the tee.
“.. I see… So that’s how it is…”
When I lowered her, Claire-sama directed a sharp gaze at the demon queen, pointed at her, and said.
“I’ve always wondered why the Three Great Archdukes are aiming at me. That’s because you can’t kill me, right, Demon Queen?”
The demon queen didn’t answer Claire-sama’s question.
However, that silence was all the answer we needed.
“I don’t know the reason why you’ve called yourself the demon queen. I don’t want to know either. But, at least answer this. Why are you trying to destroy humanity?”
The demon queen remained silent.
Witnessing that, Claire-sama said impatiently.
“I’m asking a question! Answer me, Rei Taylor!!”
Having been called by that name, the demon queen showed a sign of being shaken for the first time.
The demon queen slowly took her veil off.
What appeared was a familiar face that looked both joyous and sorrowful – it was my, Rei Taylor’s, face.
This marks the end of chapter 16 (“Attack on the Imperial Capital Arc“)!
The release date for chapter 17 is slated to come out during mid-November. As always, the pre-release will come first, with the public release following it one week after… Please stay tuned for more information about this, which you will be able to find on Inori-sensei’s pixivFANBOX.
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As always, thank you all for reading I Favor the Villainess! We’ll be back with chapter 17 in about a month.