The streak of light continued straight ahead of them, vanishing far in the horizon, its end not visible yet.
They had been flying for many hours, but it just kept on going.
The cockpit seemed a bit bigger with only the three team members and a handful of summons.
"It looks pretty desolate out there now, but it just keeps on going."
Sophie was looking out the window.
The continent with the Confederation had vast mountain ranges and forests in the central region, but this far west it looked rather arid.
Trees seemed less abundant, and bare earth was exposed as they moved forward.
They continued looking forward along the streak of light, wondering if there even was something there, where the greenery stopped.
But Sophie's face looked sullen now, without much hope left.
"Mm, at this rate we'll be at the western shore of the continent tomorrow morning."
Sophie's words sounded almost like she was talking to herself, not like she had many people to talk to either.
But Merle assumed she was talking to her, so she answered while looking at Tam-Tam's location on the map of the continent projected in front of her.
There was only Merle, Sophie, Formar, and Bird A and Wraith A summons present.
Team Allen and Team Kiel had gone in separate directions from the middle of the continent, so they were not there.
Two of the three teams had left mounted on Bird B summons.
On top of that there were Insect A summons following Tam-Tam, giving birth to Queen Bees and Beelings.
Allen had gotten rid of the Beast A and Wraith A summons in the Holy Land, freeing up slots to summon others.
He had been using nearly thirty summons to clean the Holy Land of monsters, but that changed once they discovered the other three light streaks.
The Queen Bees, Beelings, and minion A Rank monsters, would be the only ones left in the Holy Land.
At first he expected one month to be enough to get rid of the monsters, but after the change it would be around six months, definitely less than a year.
The attack happened right in April, when the fields had just started getting tilled.
That prompted Allen to request the Queen of Rosenheim to help with provisions.
He contacted the Queen again when they noticed the three light streaks, mentioning even more countries might need help, and she replied she had no issue sending more.
A portion of the Insect A summons in the Holy Land to the north of the continent had also started going east and west, taking their Queen Bees and Beelings along.
A part of them would eventually catch up with Tam-Tam.
But they were matching their speed to that of the Beelings, meaning they were somewhat slower than usual.
No one knew how far the streak of light went on for, but at the speed at which Team Sophie was traveling, they would reach the sea the next morning.
Unlike when they rushed to rescue the Holy Land, they were split into three groups, and Allen did not have as many slots left, so he let his Insect A summons use their [Spawn] Skill as much as possible.
He wanted to cover the lack of people with as many summons as possible.
"Ah! I'll resume watching dutifully, Team Leader Sophie!"
Merle seemed to remember something a moment after she replied, springing to her feet and rushing to shout that.
She strided across the cockpit, and then gave a Baukis military salute to Sophie.
That was how she always addressed her superiors during the Demon King's Army attack on Baukis the year before.
"M-Merle, there's no need to talk to me like that, okay? We're still comrades after all."
Sophie quickly made her stop that.
In a similar way as to how Kurena had been jealous of Kiel becoming Team Leader, Merle had a newfound respect for Sophie.
She thought it was amazing that Allen had basically approved of Sophie's leadership skills.
But Sophie quickly stopped it, seeing just how excited Merle was to call her that.
If that kept going on, Merle would never talk to her normally again.
Kurena and Merle got carried away really easily, so it was important to stop them right at the start.
"Still, you've been a really hard worker too, Merle."
Sophie hurried to continue the conversation while Merle was still processing things.
"Eh? You think so? Hehehe."
"Of course. Either way, we have to prepare for tomorrow, so let's have lunch. You too Formar."
"Yes, Lady Sophiarone."
Saying that, they formed a circle and sat down.
They had been looking outside for many hours already, so it was time for a break.
Even if the team was not looking, the Wraith A summon was still looking out the front window, and the Insect A summons were alert to any odd change outside.
Allen could monitor all teams simultaneously with his shared vision, even if they were far away.
He had enough Intelligence to constantly process ten different viewpoints.
Formar carefully peeled the Mormo fruits Allen had left with them.
They also had reserves of Hukama, and all together Allen had left enough food for ten days.
Even when they were going to the S Rank Dungeon, Allen had stashed enough provision to maintain the party for a year.
"You also hit that long range attack on the Demon General without practicing beforehand."
Formar was silent, preparing a simple meal for Sophie and Merle. Meanwhile Sophie spoke to Merle.
She found some of her activities to be quite brilliant.
The first one who showed impressive results in Allen's party was Kurena.
She had a rare 3 Star Sword Saint Talent, and had been able to use her Extra Skill while they were still in the Academy.
Then during the war in Rosenheim, Cecile had stood out with her powerful spells.
She had also obtained rings that increased her Intelligence and Mana in the A Rank Dungeon and by buying it from an auction. There were many times when she mounted on Allen's Bird B summon, letting her focus entirely on attacking and not worrying about protecting herself.
When they went to the S Rank Dungeon it was Sophie's turn to shine.
Even her young spirits could one-shot A Rank monsters.
That was in part due to the strength of spirits and young spirits, but the main reason was her mana consumption.
The power of an attack was directly proportional to the amount of mana spent for it.
Unlike Kurena's Skills or Cecile's magic that had a fixed amount of mana required, if a spirit wanted more mana, Sophie could channel as much as she could into them.
Thanks to that, she had been able to help a lot when fighting the Demon General, or when fighting the last boss in the S Rank Dungeon.
Then halfway through the S Rank Dungeon until the end of it, Merle had also stood out.
She had gained her Magic Board and Stone Slabs, and could fulfill various roles like being a tank, frontliner, mobilizing the party, and playing an important role in defeating the Demon General.
Kiel had also matured a lot in that latter half, finally understanding his position.
"Thank you, and you too Formar."
Merle began stuffing her cheeks with food as she thanked Sophie for her kind words, and Formar for preparing the meal.
"That's why you shouldn't worry so much about what the First Angel said, Merle."
Formar also reached into the food and silently began to eat when Sophie said something unexpected.
"It might be true that God pulled in a lot of talented individuals into Allen's village. But that doesn't change anything about your place in Allen's party."
"I-I guess. Heh? Did I say anything about that?"
Merle's eyes turned up as she began to recall what happened the last few days.
"It was obvious from your reaction."
Sophie had inferred that much from Merle, who always had a cheerful personality but low self-esteem.
Dogora had received a special Extra Skill from Elmea.
That was why he was struggling so much to activate it, and why he needed a lot more practice.
That was also because fighting the Demon King alone would be too hard for Allen, so many talented children were born in the same time period and in the same location.
Merus had not mentioned who had been pulled towards Allen after that.
Allen had also not asked, and the conversation ended there.
But Merle's face clouded over.
She had started to doubt herself, wondering if maybe she was not supposed to be at the party.
Merle had been born in the distant Baukis Empire, and had attended the academy there for one year.
She had been recruited as a state-financed international student at the end of that year, which she accepted to alleviate the monetary burden on her family.
The academies were built jointly by the Five Continents Alliance, and every country would send some students regularly to others so they could develop a sense of union and solidarity with the people of other countries and races.
Merle volunteered for the program, and was sent to the Academy in Latash.
Her father was a low ranking soldier, and was the youngest of five siblings, so her family was not the most wealthy one.
Even with her Magic Rock General Talent, the government did not give her money.
So she joined that program as an international student, hoping it would help her family's finances.
She only joined Allen because their homeroom teacher Karlova told her to.
In a way, she was only with Allen by pure coincidence.
Sophie had seen how Merle reacted hearing Merus' story, and now comforted her telling her not to worry about it.
The Spirit God had led Sophie to join Allen, but she did not feel like she needed that or any other reason to join him.
Hearing Sophie's words, Merle seemed to finally understand why Sophie had been chosen as leader.
"Don't mention it. We might not be many, but let's still do our best."
Merle answered with a smile.
Tam-Tam Mode Eagle continued flying through the night.
During the day they had noted how trees were becoming less common, and overnight the surface had turned into a full-blown desert.
"Ah! I can see the end!!"
Merle saw the streak of light make a ninety degrees turn and head down to the surface.
And it went into an area that looked like a swamp of an ominous color.