It’s the last boss fight.
Please play your choice of BGM.
Chapter 17 – Imperial Death
The large doors creaked as they opened.
With nothing to block it, the overwhelming sense of presence from inside the room increased, and the mixed party faintly trembled before the door.
『…Let us go.』
With the Demon King’s voice, the party came back to their senses, and their vigilance naturally made their steps slow.
Ahead of them was a throne on a platform a step higher than the rest of the room, and upon it sat the lord of the room.
Sitting on the luxurious throne and waiting for the Heroes and demons was a skeleton clad in a jet black robe. He was much smaller than the Black Dragon and Armour of the Evil God, and could only be taken as the size of a normal human. However, the people gathered in that room withered in face of the pressure greater than any of the previous foes.
The party advanced as far as just before the throne, but he merely sat there and gazed at them with his dark, eyeless sockets, and showed no further reaction.
Because of the feeling of pressure that he released, the party found themselves unable to speak first, and waited wordlessly.
In that tense silence that discouraged even clearing their throat, when the party was about to reach their mental limits, the skeleton spoke first.
In a voice that may well have invited death upon anybody with a weak mind, a low voice that seemed to shake the soul, he welcomed them.
『Welcome, my guests. You are the first to have reached here.』
That line was similar to his previous one, but the only one who knew that was Leonora and myself.
『You… “What” are you?』
『Fumu. In the past I may have answered “a King”, but at present I am nothing more than a single servant of my God──Anri-sama.』
『Anri… Evil God Anri?』
The skeleton had quietly replied to the Demon King’s question. Hearing my name, the expressions of the Heroes turned grave.
『So we can take it to mean that you’re the boss here, right?』
『Indeed. I have been appointed by my God as the guardian of this room. Therefore, I cannot allow you to proceed beyond here.』
Hearing the skeleton’s words, their vigilance heightened, and they prepared their weapons.
『!? What’s so funny!?』
The skeleton laughed at them, and Orlaine gave an exaggerated reaction. It told of her nervousness.
『Not funny, but joyous, …Young Miss.』
『Young-…!? T-, Then joyous about what?』
『As I stated earlier, you are the first ones to have reached this floor. Although it was an honour to be appointed as guardian of this place and I had not an iota of dissatisfaction, it is also the truth that I found it vexing to have no opportunity to display my loyalty to my God. And in this moment, that opportunity has finally arrived; what could this be but joyous?』
Having said that, the skeleton stood up, flicked back his jet back robe, before spreading his arms wide.
『Let us exchange our names; I am Imperial Death. A retainer and kin of my exalted God──Anri-sama, as well as the one appointed as guardian of this room.』
The skeleton──Imperial Death, gave his name, and in response the Heroes held out the weapons that could be called their symbols, and the party members named themselves one by one.
『Hero of the Holy Sword, Arc.』
『Hero of the Holy Spear, Lionel.』
『Hero of the Holy Bow, Orlaine.』
『Demon King, Eligor Romariel.』
『One of the Four Heavenly Kings, Fierce Gale Knight Renarve.』
『Likewise, Bloodfrost General Vikuto.』
Imperial Death gave a satisfied nod in response, and displayed his intent to fight.
『Now then. Come. To demonstrate my loyalty, I shall be your opponent with all my power.』
『I’m going to attack!』
『Please leave the support to me!』
The first move was taken by Orlain and Vikuto, who had begun to attack from afar. They released as many arrows as they could at once, and they rained down towards Imperial Death. However, he raised his right hand, and a round barrier appeared, easily blocking the rain of arrows.
Seeing Imperial Death defend against the arrows, Lionel rushed up and aimed for the torso with his Holy Spear. No matter how overwhelming he might have been, Imperial Death was still an undead. In that case, the Holy Weapon that was effective against undead should have dealt him huge damage. Lionel had attacked with that belief, but the strike was all too easily stopped.
With his right hand still maintaining the barrier, Imperial Death blocked the incoming Holy Spear with just his left hand. No, more accurately, he stopped it with just the index finger of his left hand. The brittle-looking finger bone blocked a strike from one of the strongest weapons in the world; seeing that seemingly impossible scene, not only Lionel, but everyone in the room froze. Did this mean that Imperial Death himself boasted greater defence than the Armour of the Evil God?
『If you wish to aim for an opening, then you ought not shout your intentions to do so.』
Saying so, Imperial Death reached out and grabbed the Holy Spear, before casually waving his hand. His strength was impossible to imagine from a mere skeleton the size of a human, and together with his Holy Spear, Lionel was sent flying parallel the ground.
『Kuh-, make it in time!』
Renarve immediately reacted and ran towards the flying Lionel, before catching him. Had Renarve not been there, Lionel would have hit the wall dozens of metres away, and become unable to fight in that instant.
『It is no big deal.』
Lionel thanked Renarve for saving him, and Renarve shook his head with a smile.
『Would I let you!』
While Lionel and Renarve exchanged their short lines, they heard a voice from somewhere else.
Wondering what had happened and turning around, Renarve and Lionel found that right next to them, something black was flying their way at incredible speed. The other voice had come from the direction of the Demon King and Arc, who were attacking Imperial Death with their swords.
Realising that they were saved by a hair’s breath because Imperial Death had been attacked when he was about to fire, Lionel and Renarve got up and ran to join the two engaged with Imperial Death.
『Sorry, you saved me!』
『My apologies, Your Majesty.』
Because Arc and the others were fighting at close range, Orlaine and Vikuto had stopped their attacks and watched for an opening. Because of that, Imperial Death’s free right hand turned to the two he had been fighting with. However, with Renarve and Lionel joining the frame, the situation began to change.
Perhaps because he really could not handle a four-on-one close combat battle, Imperial Death released mana from his whole body, and blew the four away to gain some distance.
『Speaking of which…』
Just as Arc and the others were about to close the distance to attack again, Imperial Death spoke before they could. Having lost the timing to attack, they could now do nothing but lend him an ear.
『Although I said that I would be your opponent with all my power, if I remain barehanded it would hardly be truth, would it.』
In front of the surprised party, Imperial Death held his right hand out. The party watched with bated breath. Under his hand, a black pole of some sort came out from his shadows. Grasping it in his right hand and swiftly pulling it out of the shadows, Imperial Death held the weapon with both hands.
It was a single-edged scythe, that was about as long as he was tall. A skeleton clad in jet black robes, holding a scythe… It was the very image of the grim reaper from the legends. It might have seemed ironic that the undead emperor who rejected death was taking the form of the reaper that invited it, but it was probably partially because of the image I had when I gave him the divine protection.
『I have kept you waiting. Shall we continue?』
Hearing this, the party couldn’t make any careless moves. The overwhelmingly powerful barehanded enemy was now holding a weapon. Nobody in the room was foolish enough to not be vigilant about that.
『Whatever is the matter? Will you not come? Then I shall move instead.』
With those words, Imperial Death suddenly disappeared.
『Wha-!? Where did he go?』
They frantically searched for him, but couldn’t find him anywhere. Then in the next moment, in front of the backline support Orlaine and Vikuto, Imperial Death suddenly made his appearance.
『It can’t be!?』
Cutting through Vikuto’s promptly made water barrier as though it was paper, and smacking away like a twig the Holy Bow that Orlaine tried to shield herself with, Imperial Death’s swinging scythe cut deeply into the Orlain’s shoulder and Vikuto’s abdomen.
The other tried to run up to the two who had collapsed with a cry, but before they could, Imperial Death disappeared once again.
『Kuh-, he disappeared again.』
『Incredible speed… is not, what he’s using. Short distance teleportation?』
『Yes, although this ability is limited to use in the dungeon.』
Hearing the words from behind himself, the Demon King immediately cut backwards without even turning his head.
『Mu-, this will not do. The one who advised against speaking when attacking an opening was I myself, wasn’t it.』
Blocking the Demon King’s swing with his scythe, Imperial Death laughed wryly as he disappeared.
『Kuh-, this is bad! At this rate, it’ll just be one-sided attacks.』
『Take up a circular formation! We will remove our blind spots!』
Following the Demon King’s instructions, Arc, Lionel and Renarve gathered together, and they stood back-to-back so that they could defend against attacks from every angle.
『Where. Where will he attack from?』
The four searched in vigilance, but Imperial Death wouldn’t appear at all. Although they grew tired of waiting, they desperately tried to concentrate, when a voice called out to them.
『Remove all blind angles… huh. Not a bad idea…』
The party turned to the voice, and found that Imperial Death was seated back on his throne, with his right hand aimed towards them.
『However, just because I am holding a weapon, does not by any means suggest that I cannot use magic, you know.』
Faster than they could react to the Demon King’s voice came a mass of darkness from Imperial Death’s hand, flying towards where they were gathered.
They immediately jumped down on the spot, but Lionel who was closest to the throne was hit, unable to dodge.
Lionel was hit terribly hard, and collapsed on the spot with a groan. Although the other three avoided a direct hit, they still received damage from the aftermath.
『Kuh-, what strength!』
『He certainly is far stronger than any enemy before. Even if we continue to fight, our defeat will probably be inevitable.』
『Your Majesty, and also Arc-dono… I will try to block the next attack. Can I leave the offence to you?』
Arc raised a shocked voice at Renarve’s determined suggestion, but the Demon King agreed with a stern expression.
『Are you finished with your discussion? Well then, let us continue… No, perhaps it is about time to end it. You all fought well. I shall remember this fight for eternity.』
Muttering this quietly, Imperial Death once again disappeared.
Up until now, they had frantically searched for him when he vanished, but this time they just wordlessly concentrated, swords at the ready. Also, Renarve had closed his eyes quietly, and spread wind magic through the area.
Renarve thrust with all his might towards the disturbance in the air flow. Although Imperial Death’s skull made a shocked expression, as he had appeared right before the attack, he calmly dealt with Renarve’s attack and swung his scythe.
If he had retreated then he could have avoided any large damage, but instead Renarve chose to stand there and block the scythe’s attack with his body.
Renarve gave the signal even with his expression twisted in anguish, and Arc responded.
Imperial Death tried to respond to Arc’s swing of the Holy Sword, but Renarve had gripped the scythe, and unable to block with the scythe, he let go of it and stopped the Holy Sword with his arm.
『Your aim was fine, but I see you lack power… Nu?』
Imperial Death had laughed after blocking the Holy Sword, but after seeing that Arc’s expression was not one of despair, he raised a quizzical voice.
『Then I shall… add to that power.』
The Demon King ran up, and smacked his Demon Sword onto the Holy Sword pressed against the skeleton arm. The impact caused the Holy Sword to push deeply into it, and snapped the arm beneath it.
The Holy Sword with two people’s strength had snapped Imperial Death’s arm, and continued to swing down. The flash of the sword had failed to reach the enemy, but it cut into his robe, and black cloth danced through the air.
『Kuh-, he evaded it?』
『But it is a fact that we have pressured him. There is nothing to do but continue to attack… Mn?』
Arc and the Demon King had jumped back to observe their enemy, but seeing Imperial Death’s lack of reaction, the two made puzzled expressions. Looking carefully, he was looking at the ground a small distance away from him, and paid no heed to Arc or the Demon King.
Although he was much too filled with openings, that instead begged suspicion, and the two could not attack. Wondering what was happening, he followed Imperial Death’s gaze, and found that something black was lying there.
Noticing Imperial Death’s quiet murmur, the Demon King raised a voice of question, but Imperial Death continued to stare at the floor, completely motionless. The black thing on the ground was part of the robe that had been cut earlier.
Hearing the deep, ominous voice that seemed to come from Hell itself, the two of them reflexively flinched.
『CURCURCURCURCUR! HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU CUT THE ROBE BESTOWED BY ANRI-SAMA!』
Imperial Death began to fly into a rage, and the two of them stiffened at his intense anger.
And then, floating into the air, Imperial Death began to release incredible pressure. But although I say pressure, it wasn’t the type that seemed to put force on the surroundings, and instead the surroundings seemed to be drawn into an invisible ‘something’. Continually sucking and concentrating, that ‘something’ started to be dense enough to see… It was miasma from all across the dungeon.
The miasma was thicker the deeper it was in the dungeon, and on the 30th floor that was close to the very bottom, the air was filled with the thickest miasma. And that miasma was now being drawn into a single undead.
Imperial Death took that concentrated miasma into himself, and his figure changed into something ever more sinister.
『Looks like we stepped on the tail of a dragon, huh.』
『So this is as far as we go…』
In front of the two exchanging their words of resignation, Imperial Death placed the concentrated miasma around his scythe, and he swung.
(eyes closed, facing up to the sky)
The scene was such a tragedy that I couldn’t bear to look, so I closed my eyes, shielded my ears, and accompanied it with a sound effect in my mind.
Wondering if I could open them yet, I had a peek, and found on-screen the tattered Arc and Ojisama lying on the floor. With the collapse of the final party members, the party was now wiped out.
Wondering why there was no reaction, I looked at the people in the room, and found that everyone had their mouths hanging open in a daze. Since it was a climax, everyone was here today, but every single one of them was dumbfounded.
Seeing this, I decided to stealthily head to the exit.
But my efforts were fruitless, and I had the nape of my neck violently caught by Sophia.
“What on earth is that?”
“What, you ask? It’s the other kin that I told you about earlier.”
When I replied as such, Sophia gave a deep sigh.
“No matter how I look at it, that is no regular kin. Isn’t he already close to reaching the realm of a divine? That has to be foul play, right!?”
“There was no rule like that.”
“No, I have to agree with her, yanno? That ain’t something a human or demon can stand up to, right?”
“But even so, I’m not breaking the rules.”
“To begin with, why does somebody who just became a divine have a kin that became something like that?”
“She’s got a point, yanno. Unless a kin with terribly strong faith spends a few hundred years like that, then they basically ain’t gunna turn into something like that, but…”
“Well I don’t know why he’s like that either.”
I thought things would turn out like this. Since he completely ignores words like prudence or restraint, I thought that Sophia and Anbaal would get mad if they found out about him so I was really depressed when I realised that the mixed party had made it this far.
But there’s no option left to me except talking back.
It’s true that it wasn’t breaking the rules, so there shouldn’t be a problem.
Side-stepping Sophia and Anbaal’s questioning, while avoiding Tena, Leonora and Lili’s stares, I silently came to that conclusion all by myself.
Mixed party was defeated!
Anri obtained Holy Sword, Holy Spear, Holy Bow, Demon Sword!