My conquest of Xontdix’s castle was interrupted by more militarized monster avatars.
They looked similar to the crab-spiders I encountered that first time. Their design was seemingly less armored in comparison, instead focusing on mobility judging from their long legs. But higher combat power meant higher defense in the end, anyway. At least that’s what I thought.
They had around 4,000 in combat power. 1,200 magic, too, so they were going to be slinging quite a bit of spells. How did they get so strong? There were even fifty of them. I might have ten times the power of each, but that was enough number to overwhelm me.
Also, I’m surprised they sent so many monster avatars inside a human country’s barrier. There weren’t just humans here, there were tons of players too. What was that corporation thinking?
Oh, crap, all of them just started buzzing. I immediately jumped away. A blast of force exploded not a second later, shattering the frozen statues and turning even uninjured players and soldiers into minced meat, spraying the pristine castle wall with a new coat of paint.
Mute screams from the blood-splattered survivors and the spectators from inside the castle rang out, echoing, coming together to form a low rumble of horror.
I mounted an immediate counterattack, spraying out cold mist, but their response was no less prompt. Several spiders shot out smaller blasts of shockwave to blow away my fog.
Damn them and their training. So annoying.
My unique skill [Causality Alteration] was also not very effective against avatars. Sure I could force them to fail their actions just like always, but that was it. They had just been created, after all. Their past barely held any significant events for me to mess with, and Earth was still much too far away for me to actually try to reach all the way over there. Still, there was something I could do.
I created some more mist. The spiders attempted to blast it away once more, and I forced their spells to fail.
My mist touched and froze a few of them, but did no damage other than simply stopping their movements. Looked like they’d taken measures against the cold.
I instantly attempted to follow up and destroy them, but interference came in the form of more explosive bullets from the other spiders. I pretended to dodge the projectiles, swerving ninety-degrees to the side and utilizing my 40,000 combat power to accelerate towards a few of the spiders. My claws tore them apart as I ran.
…and even all that only netted me two kills.
They weren’t impossible to put down, but I had to expend too much mana in comparison.
This couldn’t continue. I couldn’t stay like this.
To pick a fight with two worlds and survive, I needed more than just power. I needed to change.
Just a little more… just one more, and my transformation would be complete.
“Deputy Director, what in the world are you thinking?!”
The secretary slammed open the door. Inside the room, Brian was setting up his personal VR device. He turned to look at her, a beaming grin in his face.
“Heeey, Audrey, what’s up?”
The individual thought to be No. 13, the girl who had attacked the facility on Earth, had begun destroying the corporation’s sources of mana over in Yggdrasia. Security and surveillance was more stringent than ever, and the top brass was demanding the white girl be captured as soon as possible.
And so Brian had requested more budget for his special plan, which was an operation to capture the girl by utilizing the players, as a surveillance network, and the guild. But just as soon as it began, every single one of the new militarized monster avatar models were deployed. The operation did not call for this.
“Why did you deploy the new models in front of the public?! And what was with that amount of magic and power?! That was far beyond the allowed value!”
“You’re asking me why…? Isn’t it obvious? I’m killing the bunny.”
Seeing Brian’s twisted smile, Audrey clenched her teeth.
With the current technology, 800 was the limit for the militarized avatars’ starting magic power. Any further and the link between the user and the avatar would degrade, causing unpredictable behaviors on the avatar side and increasing the mental burden on the user side. Originally, the militarized models were supposed to be gradually building up their magic in a process similar to ‘leveling’. The corporation would then move to analysis for several years before beginning development of high-leveled monster avatars.
Pushing the starting magic all the way up to 1200 must have been Brian’s own unsanctioned idea.
Ever since the white girl had taken his leg, Brian had been displaying more and more instabilities with every single passing day, and now, he was even ignoring his orders. Vengeance was the only thing on his mind.
“Come on, little bunny…” Brian chuckled darkly, “let me hear you scream…”
Despite the large-scale monster-repelling barrier, dozens of black spiders had suddenly appeared and began attacking people.
At first, many had thought the monsters were minions of Shedy’s, the mysterious rabbit beastman girl possessing an unknown mean of transport. Contrary to their expectations, however, the girl was no exception to the black spiders’ assault. Battle was joined between the two.
“Regroup! Regroup while they’re still busy! Bring the magicannons, now!”
Those who had recovered from the chaos were beginning preparations for a counterattack.
The magicannon was an enlarged version of the guns that used magic to shoot out lead bullets. Due to the mana consumption, the cannons required a supply line directly from the Sapling in order to shoot. They had enough power to shoot down a flying dragon from several kilometers away.
As they expected Shedy to fight their soldiers and adventurers in a melee, their original plan did not call for the cannon. But now that she was busy with the spiders, there was no more reason to hesitate.
Three cannons were set up on top of the castle wall to point inward. With a roar of thunder, the whole courtyard was blown away, ground and all.
“Serves you right, damn rabbit!”
“Fucking rabid demihuman, that’s what you get for biting your masters!”
Between the spiders and Shedy, who was more dangerous here? To humankind, the girl destroying Saplings was Evil, that much was true, yet it was not what had guided their aim in truth. No, it was simply the hatred they felt for the cattle that dared to rise up against humankind.
However, their decision had led to a tragedy. The cannon shots had damaged the black spiders, making them lose track of the girl that had been their objective. Abnormalities began to show in the monsters’ actions, and they started attacking humans with no discrimination.
“Exterminate those spiders!”
“Fuck, they’re toug-aaAAAAAAGH!!!”
The spiders clung to the castle wall, attacking the nobles standing behind windows or on terraces. Several black shadows descended upon the cannons, massacring the adventurers and soldiers nearby. In his desperation, the last soldier managed to fire a single cannon shot moments before his death. The projectile punched a hole through the castle wall. The spiders began pouring inside through the new opening.
“Your Majesty, please evacuate!”
Led by his knights, Tiz left the terrace. No matter how confident of his skills he was, Tiz could not stand up to the spiders and their 4000 combat power.
Still, he did not think Shedy would be so easily brought down. He looked back for a moment. In what remained of the courtyard, he saw a mass of white mist bursting out from the cloud of dust. It streamed through the hole in the castle wall as if it had a will of its own.
Something is about to happen, Tiz thought, and I’m not going to miss it.
“I’m going down! Follow me!”
“The secret beta testers are showing signs of mental collapses! The experiment can’t go on!”
The staff members monitoring the secret beta testers shouted, panic coloring their voices. Audrey hurried to give her order.
“I authorize the cessation of-”
“Oh no no no, Audrey, can’t have that now.”
The muzzle of a handgun was touching the back of her head, she realized. Audrey gasped.
“Oh, you sure asked some silly questions.” Brian laughed. “Anyway. By my order, freeze Audrey’s authority for today.”
With Brian’s voice, the green lights on Audrey’s mobile device all turned red.
The secret beta testers were showing signs of mental collapses much too quickly. Yet despite that, Brian seemed intent on driving them to their limits in order to kill No. 13.
Audrey stood, aghast. Brian took a look at her, nodded in satisfaction, then booted up his personal full-dive VR system.
“You just stay there and watch. I’m going to kill that little bunny myself.”
Inside, the castle was a mess.
I managed to turn into mist right before that surprise bombardment hit me. Once I flew into the castle, I returned to human form.
The militarized avatars had suddenly gone on a rampage. They weren’t moving mechanically like they did before; they were acting like a swarm of actual locusts, attacking anything alive and devouring humans left and right. Messy eaters, too.
Metallic screeches reached my ears.
Some of them had found me, and they promptly attacked. Their combat power hadn’t changed, but their movements had gotten much smoother, displaying a kind of animalistic nimbleness.
I immediately froze one of them, gouging out its head with my claws.
They might have gotten individually stronger, but they’d lost their cooperation in exchange. One on one, they posed no threat to me. Well, the humans being attacked probably wouldn’t think so, but it wasn’t like I had any obligation to save them anyway.
At any rate, I needed to deal with this group. Just as I finished off the last of them, I noticed a few humans approaching me from behind.
He was still here? I thought he’d skipped town already.
Well, it wasn’t like I cared what happened to him anyway. I made to return to my search for the Sapling, when Tiz called out to me again.
“Are you so set on killing humans that you would even recruit monsters to do your bidding, Shedy?!”
It was his tone of voice, not what he said, that made me stop. I quietly turned around.
“…no. The spiders are enemies. I’ve nothing to do with them.”
“But,” I looked into his eyes and declared, “destroying the Saplings is my wish. Humans are just reaping what they sowed.” If you must hate, then hate me. That’s the only thing I can do for you. For humankind.
Tiz heard what I left unsaid. He scowled. After a few moments of thought, he raised his hand toward a direction.
“…Xontdix’s Sapling is over there. The path’s tricky, so go through the walls if you’re in a hurry,” he said, his words bordering on treason.
“Boy!” The old butler raised his voice in rebuke. The young emperor paid no heed to him and continued.
“I’m taking Xontdix’s royalty family to escape. I won’t stand in your way, but do something about those spiders until we can get out of here.”
“…understood.” I quietly nodded.
I didn’t care all that much, but if people I knew were to die, I’d prefer they at least do so away from my sight.
We shared one final glance, then turned away from each other and ran.
I took his advice and simply went through the walls. Several minutes later, I arrived at the Sapling.
I was greeted with a cackling laugh.
“Did you think you could save them?! Too bad for you, rabbit!”
Salia, the supposed bodyguard of Tiz, was standing there together with the knights of this country.
Below her feet lay dozens of beastmen and elven corpses, all cut into ribbons and charred black.
“How’s the taste of despair?! That’s what you get for getting in my way and making me look like a fool… t-the hell is that look for?! Brazen vermin!”
Salia had killed the demihuman slaves of this castle. Apparently, her grudge had convinced her I was trying to rescue them.
I supposed it wasn’t surprising people would think so. I had saved demihumans, even if it was all on a whim of mine.
“Out of my way.”
I clenched my right hand. The knights, including Salia, instantly had their arms and legs broken. They collapsed into pools of blood, howling cries of agony.
I leisurely walked through them. Salia still struggled. She reached a hand toward me, eyes full of hatred. I froze only the surface of her face.
The woman renewed her screams and scrabbled at her iced-over skin. It only made things worse. Oh well, I’d be spending some time with her later on anyway.
“…sorry I made you wait.”
I whispered. Xontdix’s Sapling scattered into light, and I grabbed hold of the white magic stone inside.
“Where, oh where are you, little bunny…”
While the dozens of spiders were ravaging the castle interior, an enormous monster appeared outside. A bluish-black centipede twenty meters long and one meter in diameter went through the castle wall, crushing the fortifications with claws and the sheer weight of its armored body. Whoever could use [Identification] despaired, when the skill revealed its combat power to be over seven thousand.
At that moment, the barrier protecting the castle disappeared, announcing to the world the destruction of the Sapling. All hope was gone for the humans.
From inside the ruined castle, the source of the calamity quietly walked out. The white rabbit showed herself.
“There you are!!”
The giant centipede attacked as soon as it caught sight of Shedy. The knights ran towards her in a last-ditch attempt of revenge.
And as she raised her right hand, everything stopped moving.
Her cold, impassive eyes swept through the men and monster standing stock-still as if frozen in time. Her hand clenched into a fist, and corpses of knights fell down in bloody showers.
Brian, sitting in his VR device, was forcibly logged out when both his eyes and arms were suddenly pulverized.
And Shedy began her silent transformation.
Pale skin, yet still faintly pink of flesh and blood, was now being bleached of all color, turning alabaster white. Scarlet pupils bled out to stain the white of her eyes crimson-red.
An enormous cloud of fog billowed, exploding to cover the whole capital city in a blink of an eye. All living creatures — including the human population of one hundred and fifty thousand — were turned into ice sculptures.
Tiz looked back from the airship that had just barely cleared the blast zone. He saw Shedy standing in the center of a wasteland of frost, of deathly silence, as though the ice had entombed even the resentment of the deceased. He thought her cold gaze was pointed at him. He forgot to breath for a moment.
And so, Shedy had shown herself to be the worst Evil of this world. People started calling the sorcerous rabbit something else.
Whitehare, the Dark Lady.
[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 10] ・The rabbit demon of Laplace. Trickster and guide of man’s fate. [Magic Points: 56,000/56,000] 19,800↑ [Total Combat Power: 61,600/61,600] 21,800↑ [Unique Skill: <Causality Alteration> <Cyber-Manipulation> <Absorption> <Materialization>] [Racial Skill: <Fear> <Mist Form>] [Simple Identification] [Human Form (Wonderful)] [Subspace Inventory] [Dark Lady]
A/N: Readers who have read my other work might think something’s a bit strange. That’s because Shedy isn’t the ‘savage’ or the ‘hedonistic’ kind of demon. She’s a ‘cold-hearted’ demon.