Yeah. I should just go to Earth and wipe them out.
Which was all fine and good, but there were a few problems with the idea.
For one, while I’d managed to go to Earth last time by going through the World Tree, that was only because my body and soul were still there for me to possess and manifest myself.
But now, there was no longer anything there.
I had no one on Earth who loved me. There was nothing tying me there — at most, there was only the desire for vengeance against those who had betrayed me and my secret alpha tester comrades. I’d always thought this would happen one day, that I’d go to Earth after I got powerful enough to rip apart space-time and cross dimensions by myself. I also knew that it’d take me around three hundred thousand magic points. I didn’t know how I knew that. I just did.
Then how would I do this? I already had the answer, as a matter of fact.
I would use No. 01’s ability, [Cyber-Manipulation], to once more manifest myself on Earth the way the avatar technology worked, then I would use No. 08’s [Materialization] to incarnate myself.
But to do that, I would need a digital connection to Earth.
There were a few possibilities. The first I could think of was the player character, but I felt like that sort of connection was a bit too weak for my purpose. I once tried to use [Cyber-Manipulation] on one of the players I defeated to dig for more information about Earthside, but the line was too weak. I barely got anything.
Besides, even if I could go to Earth through the player connection, whoever they were would be getting a huge surprise from seeing a real bunny girl suddenly appearing in front of them. And if I lacked the materials to incarnate myself, they might just be sacrificed.
Man, demons sure were scary, even if I say so myself.
“So that’s why I can’t take you along this time.”
Blobsy and Panda clung to my legs in response.
I mean, of course I wanted to bring them along if I could. They kept me sane, after all. Maybe I’d be able to if I was actually crossing dimensions myself, but what I was about to do this time was faxing myself to the other side, for lack of a better word. I wouldn’t even be able to bring along the stuff in my [Inventory] such as money, weapons, or snacks for the two, much less other living beings.
As I explained as much, Panda reluctantly gave up once he heard the part about the snacks. I wasn’t about to tell him bananas also existed on Earth.
Blobsy still didn’t like it. I pleaded with her as we played for a whole half a day, and she finally acquiesced.
“Alright… I guess that’s it. Let’s go.”
I left all my stuff at the World Tree — why did I have a troll’s loincloth in there? — and used the World Tree network to teleport to the new Sapling near the fallen large country of Xontdix.
I picked a location somewhat farther away as my landing spot just in case, but thankfully I didn’t sense any humans around. As I quietly approached the Sapling, I saw some pitch-black unicorns — actually called bicorns, I think? — of over 2000 combat power grazing on a nearly grassy field. There was a whole herd of them. With them there, the humans probably wouldn’t be able to get close.
My eyes met with a bicorn’s. It wasn’t exactly hostile, but for some reason, it just scoffed as if disappointed… what was that all about?
I headed toward the capital of Xontdix. It had been quickly abandoned after my attack.
The fate of the other fallen countries varied. In some, the humans still remained in an attempt to rebuild their country and were fighting against the demihumans. In some, the country was claimed by the former demihuman slaves as their new home. Here though, all living beings had been frozen whole. I only saw some rats scuttling around at most.
In fact, the frozen people were still here, perhaps because my magic was still lingering. The whole place was looking incredibly dreary.
There shouldn’t be anyone here, yet there was something strange in the air.
The doors of several shops had been broken in. A closer look revealed that most of them were of restaurants. Probably fiend wolves making a mess of the places, since they were strong against the cold. This was a southern country, with the climate of one ever since the Saplings were destroyed. The fiend wolves might have moved in since then. Although… were there wolves in the south?
But more curiously, it wasn’t just the restaurants that were broken in. Shops selling bottled and canned products were also ransacked… were the wolves that smart?
I did a quick search of the adventurer guild I found on the way, found a guide map, and moved toward my destination, staying silent all the while. Finally, I arrived at the Temple.
Horrid shrieks rang out. Several men and women jumped at me from the shadows.
The dissonance I felt upon entering the city had prompted me to pay more attention to any possible presence. They didn’t surprise me. I calmly dismantled them with claws and sharp pin heels.
They looked human, but then why were they here, and in such small numbers? Were they refugees immigrating from some other place?
Damn it, I shouldn’t have done that. They’d been so disgusting I couldn’t help myself. I should have left one of them alive, or maybe identify them before I did anything.
No use crying over spilt milk, I suppose. After all, the moment they attacked was the moment the distinction between humans and wild dogs disappeared in my eyes.
I entered the Temple and saw traces of people living inside. Still recent. So they must have been doing something here, then. What were the humans doing inside one of the corporation’s bases? Were they just clinging to the World Tree that they called their god? Or…
Deeper inside was a strange altar. An altar by itself wasn’t surprising considering this was a temple, but drawn on it was an eerie black-colored magic circle. On the circle was a pile of something that looked like rotten hearts. You couldn’t make it any more suspicious even if you wanted to!
On a closer look, I noticed there were traces of magic running through the circle. I wanted to destroy it, but my abilities were way too lopsided. I had problems actually just destroying things normally. And it looked way too disgusting for me to absorb the magic power, so I just froze it for the time being.
As I moved away, however, I noticed a few sheepskin scrolls lying on the floor. I picked one up. This world had paper made from tree bark, which meant these scrolls were old stuff…
“…summoning the Fairy King…?”
Fairy King…? This world even had that sort of thing? The other scrolls didn’t hold any information I could understand, and I couldn’t bring them along anyway, so there was no use worrying about them.
More importantly, I had something to do here.
“…there it is.”
In front of me were chairs and desks neatly arranged. On top of them were crystal tablets. People of this world probably wouldn’t understand what they were: office desks and work PCs. They weren’t on right now due to a lack of magic power, but magic was what I could supply. Hopefully they still worked.
I touched one of the crystal tablets and gently poured magic in, and the screen lit up and began displaying text. I started up the dimensional network connection as gently and quietly as I could, so as to avoid the attention of the corporation on Earth. I began hacking the other side.
I managed to dig into the fourth informational layer, but couldn’t go any further with the skills I had. I had the ability, but not enough practice.
I supposed I couldn’t dive directly there… well then, let’s go somewhere easier to find.
The medical facility of a certain conglomerate had previously housed a large number of staff members, researchers, and patients, but a tragic accident several months earlier had frozen and killed everyone. The facility had been locked up ever since to preserve the scene for investigation.
“…man, still creepy as fuck.”
Hard footsteps echoed in the locked-down facility in the middle of the night. The patrolling guard expressed his displeasure in an attempt to stifle his fear, but his voice had sounded a lot louder than he intended. He winced.
“What, not used to it yet? Not like I disagree though.” His partner replied teasingly. Yet he, too, was shivering as he pointed the flashlight into the darkness. The pair of night-vision goggles he had on weren’t working very well. He gave it a few knocks.
It wasn’t fear that made him shiver. The guards here were all ex-mercenaries or ex-military. The corpses here might disturb them, but they didn’t scare them.
Ever since the incident, this facility had been covered with an air of coldness that no amount of effort could dislodge. The corpses on the ground floor were already taken away, but countless bodies still remained underground, fixed in place by unmeltable ice, their moments of death perfectly preserved.
According to the 5th research center’s investigation, this coldness was apparently caused by ‘mana’, a hitherto unknown form of energy. While this ‘mana’ was energy with high purity, it existed in no conventional form. Its purity and efficiency could change in a heartbeat depending on a living being’s will.
The researchers had hypothesized that due to an extraordinarily intense will, the efficiency of the mana here had been stimulated to near the maximum limit, turning it into a sort of ‘curse’ that would remain for over fifty years before dispersing.
Perhaps it was the reason why there had been many reports of malfunctioning electronic equipment in this facility. Equipment such as surveillance cameras weren’t working, forcing the need to have real people patrolling the place.
“I mean, who the hell would sneak into this kinda place anyway?”
“You know why, stop being an idiot. If the mass media found this place, we’re gonna be up shit creek. Really, if anyone could get in here, they might as well sign up for the special forces already.”
The men laughed at their own silly joke.
They weren’t scared. They were still disturbed, however, as they’d known how their comrades here had died.
It hadn’t been their shift that day. By the time they were called back, what greeted them were nothing but frozen faces of terror and madness. And then they’d heard the muttering of the shivering staff members.
A white bunny girl.
They’d thought it some sort of joke at first. On a whim, they had asked about the matter with the interim Deputy Director of the 7th research center, a beauty they’d been interested in since quite a while. She immediately turned pale and told them to forget about it.
It was no accident. There was somebody behind this tragedy.
“…hey, isn’t it kinda cold?”
“It’s always cold here.”
“I mean, colder than normal… there’s… air moving from somewhere?”
On a normal day, the guards would still feel the cold seeping into their core after a round through the facility despite wearing cold-resistant suits, which should have been enough for them to withstand even the summit of the Alps. Yet the bitter cold just now had been painful, as if their exposed face had been iced over.
The cause of it was a faint breeze blowing from somewhere within the sealed facility, the men noticed. They turned their eyes.
It was the place with the most bodies, as well as where their comrades had been executed to a man. The room with innumerable cold-storage capsules.
“Huh, nothing… wait.”
A small lamp was flickering. Was the electricity still on? Inside the room… at the center of the room, a mass of white mist was slowly dancing, twisting like a gentle whirlwind of cold air.
The sight wouldn’t have looked out of place if they were outside in the Antarctic.
The mist slowly changed shape, forming a human silhouette like those in spirit photographs from the analog age long ago.
The men gasped. In an instant, two hands appeared from the white mist to grab their faces.
“Be quiet at night… okay?”
A heart-meltingly demonic voice whispered deep inside their ears.
They couldn’t even move a single finger, much less scream. The frigid air felt as if it was swallowing whole their lives. Like a withered tree, the men’s bodies visibly thinned, their skin and lips cracking. The sight in front of their forced-open eyes was that of a human taking shape as if in inverse proportion with their leaking vitality. It turned into a pure-white bunny girl.
They crumbled like dried wood. The white girl took her hands off of them, picked up the men’s mobile phones and weapons, then disappeared in silence.
It was the day the white demon once again visited Earth.