The party headed to the Holy Land on the Mithril Golem Tam-Tam in Eagle Mode, which was called by Merle.
The Holy Land was located in the continent to the south of Rosenheim, being one of the many allied countries that populated that southern continent.
It was located slightly north from the center of all those countries.
"I'd hate running into monsters, so let's go a bit higher...right about here.
Nice! According to the map, we should be arriving by tomorrow morning!"
Merle stood up from the cockpit seat, and went to Allen and the rest who were sitting a distance away.
The cockpit seat had an opening in front so they could look outside, and there was also the map floating in mid-air.
Even if Merle left the seat, Tam-Tam would continue flying forward at the same altitude and direction.
The map also had a marker with their current position, so it was easy to measure Tam-Tam's speed and when they would arrive at their destination.
You might run out of mana so equip this."
Checking the Grimoire, it was clear that Merle's mana was decreasing at an alarming rate, even when she left the cockpit.
The Magic Board was taking in her mana, and spending it to keep Tam-Tam in the air.
(I guess her mana resources are being drained to make such a large Golem fly.
Her mana is literally being sucked away.)
Sophie had also gotten rather familiar with spirits, so she made a Mana Recovery Ring for Allen, to return the favor of helping her level up her skills.
He had just given that ring to Merle.
Allen could count on his fingers the times he had traveled on Merle's Golems.
During their time in the S rank, they had a schedule of resting two days out of every five, and Merle had dedicated her free days to practicing controlling Tam-Tam.
This year they had also started hunting for Iron Golems, which increased the Stone Cards that she needed to try out to learn how to use.
So every day she was free, she would thoroughly test the new Stone Cards she obtained.
That familiarized her with all the skills at her disposal, which also made their current travel possible.
Since they hunted Iron Golems, she had obtained pretty much all the Stone Cards for her Mithril Golem.
She also had plenty of cards to let the Hihiirokane Golem fight and move without much issue.
The Stone Cards she had currently inserted in the Magic Board were the following:
A build focused on mobility, given the danger the Holy Land was facing.
- Main Body Stone Card (Full-Body) 5
- Giant Form Stone Card 2
- Goliath Form Stone Card 3
- Mobility Stone Card (Air) 5
- Map Stone Card (Entire World) 2
- Strengthening Stone Card (Agility) 3x3
Other than the Map Stone Card for the entire world, there were also simpler ones that only showed one of the five existing continents, and a last one for the sixth Forgotten Continent where the Demon King resided.
(It would be even more useful if we could see cities and fortresses on the map.
But at least we can leave markers when we see them.)
The map showed hills, rivers, and shorelines, but man-made cities, buildings, or bridges, were not shown.
But by manipulating the Magic Board, merle could add as many markers and pins as she wanted, so with time the map would get populated.
"Wouldn't it be better if I ready the Vulcan Cannons"
Merle asked Allen.
"No need, prioritize speed."
- Long Range Attack Stone Card (Vulcan Cannon S) 1
- Long Range Attack Stone Card (Vulcan Cannon M) 2
- Long Range Attack Stone Card (Vulcan Cannon L) 5
With the current set of Mobility Stone Cards, they had no way of attacking from range.
Merle asked if it really was okay to have no way to attack while moving, but since they were pressed for time, they had to focus on speed.
The Golem's configuration was all that decided how fast they would be able to travel.
It was possible to equip the Golem's wings with Vulcan Cannons, making it able to attack while flying.
Though using the Vulcan Cannons would also drain Merle's mana.
(Merle's skills are still on full display even outside the Dungeon.)
She also had an important role when hunting the Iron Golem.
Tam-Tam Eagle Mode was around a hundred meters long from the tip of one wing to the other, and the cockpit had plenty of space for eight people to sit in.
There were personal rooms for each party member as well.
"Merle is so cool!"
Kurena's eyes glittered as she looked at Merle.
Everyone was gathered around Merle.
"...Tomorrow morning, huh.
I'll rest a bit till then."
Dogora seemed to feel a bit awkward after shouting angrily earlier, so he went to his room to rest first.
"Shouldn't you do something, Allen"
Cecile wondered if it was alright to let him be like that.
"Mm, for now yeah.
I can't let Merle do everything alone here, so we should take turns sleeping."
We're not in a Dungeon, but we still need a night watch."
Merle was staying there in case there was an emergency.
The others would get some rest, but in turns, to which Cecile agreed too.
Dogora had been on Allen's mind ever since they worked on beating the S Rank Dungeon.
While Dogora was part of the party, Allen's insistence on valuing each of their lives so much might have been wrong.
And today, Dogora had made an important decision.
He would never give up on becoming a hero.
But that choice has made his friends worry.
He could not decide whether that had been the correct choice.
That was the reason why he left to rest first, so he could think about it alone, and calm his emotions.
Allen told the rest that it was best to let him fight through those thoughts alone.
They had left a bit before noon, and while they flew the sun set, before reappearing from the eastern horizon.
Shortly after they saw a shape that appeared to sprout from the area below the sun.
Kurena exclaimed, seeing the distant continent.
"Where should we go first"
Allen wanted to use Bird A's Special Skill [Nest Transfer] to return to Fortenia and receive everything he needed.
Bird A's Special Skill [Nest Transfer] and its Awakened Skill [Homing Instinct] had quite broad usage.
During the audience with Baukis' Emperor, Allen had verified that if he left the [Nest] in a Magic Ship, even if the Magic Ship moved somewhere, once he returned to it he would appear inside the ship.
Merle's Tam-Tam also worked that way.
If he built a [Nest] there, even if Tam-Tam went somewhere else, he would return to it.
As they traveled, Allen opened a map which included the biggest cities of the Holy Land, and looked for Niel's location.
Both the World Map and Continental Map Stone Cards showed the limits of each country, but they were not detailed enough to show every single city.
"What do you mean, 'Hrmm'"
(Hm Well, it's those two after all.
I did expect at least Kiel to react.)
Hearing Allen's groan, Kurena and Kiel looked at him.
"Kurena, Kiel, I don't think we'll be able to save Theomenia.
It's been three days already."
They could not save Theomenia.
That was Allen's way of saying it was unlikely they would find any survivor.
The request for help to Baukis Empire had been sent from a magic device in Niel.
That message had been sent two days after Theomenia had been attacked.
In total, that meant three days had passed since the attack.
The officer who sent the message said that monsters disguised as priests and regular citizens had infiltrated the city,before attacking from inside.
It was very likely that Theomenia had already fallen.
Kurena seemed to accept that fact rather easily, but Kiel looked hesitant.
His friends often called him the priest of riches, but Kiel actually had a rather strong sense of justice.
Probably the strongest out of his friends.
There was something that happened during the rest days while beating the S Rank Dungeon in Baukis Empire.
Kurena and Dogora were sparring with the Master Swordsman Doberg.
Merle was testing her Stone Cards with Tam-Tam.
Allen was together with Cecile, Sophie, Formar, growing Mana Seeds, as well as Gold and Silver Beans.
As for Kiel, he was attending the church of the S Rank Dungeon.
He gave out rations of food, and used Healing Magic on people who were hurt.
The reason for all that, was that when the Carnell Family was about to fall thanks to Allen's efforts, they were saved by the church.
After that, he used his talents as a Saint to use Healing Magic on those who needed, earning a wage from it which he used to rear his little sister Nina and the younger servants.
That also gave Kiel the position of Apprentice Priest of the church, recognized as a proper member.
Kiel had been determined to resort to any means necessary to maintain his family afloat, even if it meant going down a dark path, so he would never forget what the church had done for him.
Coupled with that gratitude, Kiel's routine now included visiting the church to see if there was anyone in need every time he entered a city.
Any time he had nothing to do, he would go to church.
He was already doing that back in the Academy as well.
Because of that sentiment, he could not accept Allen's decision.
"Well...I'll go alone then."
Even if there was only one person left alive in Theomenia, he was determined to save them.
I guess we can split the party up."
There was no need for the entire party to go.
Theomenia had been the first place attacked, so just one person could go check it out.
Cecile was also in agreement.
She said it was best if separated into smaller groups to help more places at the same time.
"Wait no, we've barely been here for a few hours and we don't know the situation on the ground.
I'll just send a summon, or even better Merus to check it out, that's the best I can do."
With that, Allen began explaining the strategy he had come up with the night before during his watch shifts.
The message they had received had been way too vague.
They did not know exactly what had happened, or how strong the enemy was.
So splitting the party was a very bad idea for Allen.
If they get scattered and one group encounters a Demon General, they would have no way of fighting back.
Merus had strong individual stats, and could use the Special Skill [Angel's Ring], allowing him to use summonings just like Allen.
He could go to Theomenia and look for survivors.
Just one entity was enough to check the situation there anyway, and even if Merus went missing in action, Allen could re-summon.
Merus was the First Angel, and now a summon.
Even if he was killed, he would simply return to the Grimoire to be summoned again, deterring any risks.
(I'm not sure if this really is the correct choice, but I have no time to ponder about it now.)
"So Theomenia will be merely a source of information, but we'll head straight to Niel to help there."
Cecile had already grasped Allen's strategy.
Kiel was appeased with Merus being the one sent to Theomenia.
"Merus, you heard that, right Do you know how to get there"
No one had any questions or objections, so Allen addressed Merus.
I went there many times in the past.'
Theomenia was the capital city of the Holy Land, the land revering the God of Creation Elemea.
The First Angel Merus had appeared there many times in the past as well.
Soon after that, the party arrived at Niel.
The city that had sent the message.
"Monsters are attacking them!!"
"It looks pretty bad."
Droves of humanoid shapes clung onto the gates and outer walls of the city.
Many strong men were inside the walls, desperately holding the gates closed.
That situation had been going on for an entire day, so the gates looked heavily damaged, like they could crumble at any moment.
Along with the humanoid monsters, there were other larger ones, many times bigger.
There was a considerable number of B rank monsters like Orcs and Ogres as well.
The Trolls and Ogres used their clubs and maces to hit the gates above the heads of the smaller humanoid monsters.
A moment later, the gates of Niel gave out.
One last hit from a Troll reduced them to dust, leaving a gaping entrance.
The city was flooded by an onrush of small humanoid monsters, as well as the giant ones.