80: Mistery in the desert
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Brokeback desert. A vast area filled mostly with sand. Even if you make a 360 degree turn, you could only see sun. And the hot sun creates temperatures almost unbearable. Even using the thermo isolation spell [Niphtet] you would still feel the scorching sun. 

You would believe that life in such a harsh environment is impossible. But there were creatures living in here. Lizards, snakes, insects, camels and desert wolves. And of course, giant sand worms.

However what makes this desert truly dangerous are its illusions. Everyone knows that a mirage can occur in the desert. But this desert is different. It is said that someone or something is creating illusions so realistic that many Mazoku found their doom. 

On the outskirts of the desert…

*Brushing off sand from clothes*

"Pathetic. You resorted to a drastic method. You 3 deserve to dry up here."

Dante has left the 3 Mazoku that started the fire in the Fallen Forest unconscious.

"Are you so dumb that you didn't realize how much your fellow classmates will suffer? Dirty tactics like that… a maou would never resort to that."

Dante then looked up at the sun. Large sweat drops flowed across his face.

As expected, even I am feeling the heat in this environment. Crossing it will really take a toll on stamina. And the only option is… to go around it. Even if it takes longer to circle it, it's the safest option. Only a complete idiot would cross it straight forward.

------

~10 minutes later~

"Alright, girls! We're crossing this straight forward!"

"Lady Yurishia… are you sure about that? It's a known fact that the safest route is to circle around it."

"That would be a total waste of time. Besides, this is a race. We wasted a total of roughly 4 hours on the other 2 locations. So that leaves us only 5-6 hours until the day is over."

"Well… let's start walking then. My fucking hoves will burn if I stay put in one place too much."

"Bessie… don't make me regret giving you permission to swear again. Also… we won't be walking."

I crouched down and put my hand on the hot sand.

"Lady Yurishia, what are you… Eh, woaaah!!"

On this precise moment, a rock golem appeared from the sand! After one golem, two more, no… a total of 6 golems emerged from the sand…

"We are going to ride on the back of these golems."

The big hand of the golem grabbed everyone and placed us gently on their backs. This was an earth type spell called [Rock Warrior].

"Eh!? But, why!?"

"This land is a desert area. Don't forget that sand worms are monsters that try to drag you into the hot sand like small ants. It will be safer if we ride on the huge golems’ backs. Besides…"

"Besides what?"

"…Isn’t it fun?"

"No…Absolutely not! This isn’t fun at all…!"

"Are you scared of highs, Nelia?"

"Of course not, but…"

"Yuri-nee,I think that this is extremely fun! It's almost like riding a horse!"

"All right. Let’s go now."

And then, we…no, actually, the golems with us on their backs began to move forward. Thanks to their size we managed to cover a nice distance. I don't know how much we traveled, but after a while the heat started to make the horizon sway… And soon, a town appeared before us.

"Are you girls seeing what I'm seeing?"

"Is that some kind of mirage?"

I gazed with my Ruin Eyes, but… the town really looked real. 

"Yuri-nee… I can sense mana there. I sence life forms. It really is a town."

"Don't be deceived. A town in the middle of the desert is impossible. Maps would display it if such a town existed. Remember the stories about Brokeback desert. Illusions can be extremely realistic."

"Still… I don't think they can make my senses go wrong."

"Regardless, stay sharp girls."

When we walked a few steps closer to the town, the sand in front of us rose up, and a few human-like bones appeared from the ground!

"Wha…What on earth!?"

A skeleton with a sword emerged from the sand! Before long, there were nearly ten skeleton swordsmen in front of us!

"He…Hey! That’s a horde of skeletons!! It's not an illusion. Aneue, should we get down from the golems to fight them!?"

"That’s not necessary. They are nothing more than ants. Let’s leave this to the golems."

The skeletons swung their swords and ran towards us with cracking noises as if their bones were breaking apart. However, they flew away and broke into pieces when the golems’ intense fists smashed into their heads. As expected of my creations, they have a tremendous power. Still… it doesn't make sense. Undead skeletons? I've never heard of something like this. What's happening here?

Regardless, the golems whipped out the skeletons easily. So we finally approached the town. Seems real enough… but… I can't put my finger on it, but I feel something familiar about this place. Something I felt before.

On this moment, something happened on our way to the town.

"Ahhh!?"

There was a sudden gust of wind. The sand got into my eyes, and I closed my eyelids instantly. 

"Hm…Hmmm…"

I opened my eyelids while rubbing my eyes.

…What…?

Suddenly, I felt extremely uncomfortable. It seemed that the appearance of this town, which I had been observing even from far away, had changed slightly.

"Be careful, girls. There was a strange feeling with that gust of wind."

"Ah! Aneue, did you feel that too?"

"Ye…Yes!"

We got off the golems and prepared ourselves for the worst. We need to pass through this point to reach the end.

At the entrance stood a woman in a traditional costume who hid her head in order to avoid the wind and sand. She uncovered her face when she noticed our presence. It was a beautiful woman with a suntanned skin.

The woman had a suspicious look, maybe because we rode on top the golems. But, as soon as she noticed us, she received us with a bright smile on her face.

"Your Highness, Yurishia!!"

"Who the hell are you? Don’t get close to me."

"Ehh! Have you forgotten? I’m Zeta. Baron Cyrus's wife." 

"I don’t know any Zeta or Cyrus."

"It can’t be…! Your Highness, is this some kind of joke? Is that also why you are using your usual disguise?"

"Excuse me, let me step in for a moment. Lady Yurishia isn't feeling quite well right now."

Nelia stepped in to try and sort the scenario. Then, that woman softened her expression and laughed a little bit.

"Is…Is that so. But, when I met you the other day, you seemed to be fine…"

Hmm? The other day? It's the first time I'm coming here. Even 10 years ago I never traveled to this desert. I only researched it through books.

"Miss… Zeta, was it. You seem to be aware of Yurishia's identity. Do you perhaps know her?"

"Know her? There isn't a single person in this town who doesn't know who Yurishia Bahamut is!"

We looked somewhat confused. I was shocked. She knew my actual identity. But Zeta said with a smile.

"After all, lady Yurishia has saved this town from the humans and killed the hero not too far from this place. Our great Warlord. And now… the great Maou! Yurishia Bahamut!!"

… what sort of sorcery is this…?

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