My body shook with the thunderous explosions. Fiorfata’s magical blasts rained down to create craters dozens of meters wide all around us.
The sleipnir was carrying me southward, all the while weaving and dodging through the Demon Lord’s attacks. We were heading to the final city on this small continent, the small country of Oisanonze.
“We’re nearly there!”
My sleipnir gave an affirmative neigh.
He would evaporate from just a single direct hit of Fiorfata’s blasts, while I’d be damaged quite severely. The only reason why I was still without a scratch was thanks to his speed, and also because Fiorfata hadn’t gotten serious yet.
Even when I’d known Fiorfata was a Demon Lord, I’d still thought that I could handle it, if only barely. I’d thought that I could grind down its magic power given enough time, even if it had six times mine.
In retrospect, I had been much too optimistic. I hadn’t understood what it meant to fight a vastly superior enemy.
For demons, the amount of magic power they possessed directly tied into their combat power. An attack worth 1000 magic from me could only deal around 200 damage to Fiorfata, while an attack of the same cost from Fiorfata would take away over 5000 of my life.
There was a gap in power, in pure power, between us. Furthermore, Fiorfata had existed for millennia, while I hadn’t been a demon even for a year. Its experience in manipulating magic power far outstripped mine.
I’d moved the battlefield over here because I had thought the weapons of Earth, being without magic, would have been useless to Fiorfata, but I hadn’t expected this level of toughness. Even if the humans here had their magical siege artillery, killing the Demon Lord would still probably take several tens of thousands of shots.
It seemed I had no choice but to deal with it myself. And I would, no matter what it would take.
“There it is…”
Far off in the distance, a city surrounded by tall walls of stone appeared in my view.
I stretched out my hands, getting ready to break the magic barrier with my Dimensional Manipulation. But after a few moments of thinking, I changed my mind.
“Sleipnir… this is far enough.”
My steed gave an insistent whinny.
“Please, listen to me.”
Until now, I’d been opening holes in the magical barriers whenever we came to one of my targets to let the sleipnirs in, but my steed was already at his limits from all the shockwaves of Fiorfata’s attacks. I pulled on his mane, forcing the reluctant sleipnir to change his direction, and I jumped from his back toward the city, rolling in mid-air to blast cold mist toward Fiorfata behind me.
The mist was slow-moving. The Demon Lord could easily dodge it if it wanted to, but Fiorfata just charged right through it. The mist wasn’t powerful enough to do anything to it.
But it was enough to deal with the dark pixies gathering around the Demon Lord. Fiorfata was releasing miasma and creating more dark pixies just by existing. Even if I’d planned on dragging the human countries into my fight with the Demon Lord, I had no intention of also letting the dark pixies in.
The Demon Lord and its accompanying tens of thousands of dark pixies moved into my mist. The tiny creatures froze the moment they touched it and disintegrated.
“Come and get me, Fiorfata!” I shouted and dove into Oisanonze.
The sleipnir I pulled away was still trying to come to me even when he already looked dead on his feet. I shot off a bit of weak magic to stop him.
This was why I hated making allies who could join my fights. It wasn’t my place to say this, considering how I was already forcing the living beings of this world to sacrifice themselves, but… if someone had to fight… if someone had to be hurt… then it’d be better if it was just me.
My heart was wavering between being a ‘demon’ and the ‘individual named Shedy’.
After its demonic transformation, my heart now valued no other living beings in the material world other than the kins I’d bonded with and the secret alpha testers that had been my fellow victims.
It was why I’d ruthlessly killed, why I’d stained my hands with the blood of my enemies. I understood that to defeat Fiorfata, there’d be many, many more sacrifices.
But all the same… the part of me that had lived for twelve years as an individual still lived on. Even when it understood what must be done, it still balked at the idea of an excessive waste of life.
Was this the price I had to pay in abandoning my humanity to become a demon?
I hadn’t the courage to surrender myself to the madness of a demon. Instead, I continued to flounder, trapped in ideals that would never be realized.
“There it is!”
Oisanonze’s soldiers had noticed my and Fiorfata’s approaches. Magical artillery fired at us from the top of the ramparts.
I was right to have driven the sleipnir away. He had suffered, had been wounded in his pure determination to protect the world, and I didn’t want him to be forced to kill his fellow living beings of the same world. After all, I was still here.
A sudden chill ran down my spine. I ducked to the ground without a second thought.
Fiorfata was already out of my cold mist, and it shot another magical blast. It passed above me, vaporizing Oisanonze’s walls and the artillery on top of it in an explosion dozens of meters wide.
Just as the attacks stopped, I dashed through the hole in the walls.
Oisanonze was also in the magic circle’s area of effect. The city was being attacked by dark pixies.
Yet despite that, none of the people had evacuated. They only realized danger was near when they saw the walls blowing up, and mass panic began to spread through the populace.
Someone among them seemed to know me. The voice belonged to an old man who’d jumped out. He was armed.
“Y-you’re the Dark Lady! If only you hadn’t come—”
“Yes, I am.”
I softly replied, throwing out a wide-ranging cold mist to kill only the dark pixies.
“So run if you don’t want to die!”
He saw the shattering dark pixies that had been trying to sneak up behind his back. The old man looked at me, eyes wide open.
I didn’t reply. I turned my demonic Fear skill on full blast and ran toward the palace, giving a final warning.
“Get away from here, now!!”
On the way, I killed the soldiers heading towards me and spared the ones running away. The resistance dropped to nearly nothing once I entered the castle — looked like while the civilians still remained, the owner of the castle had long since left. I easily reached the deepest area and destroyed the Sapling.
[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 32] ・The rabbit demon of Laplace. Trickster and guide of man’s fate. [Magic Points: 118,000/118,000] 12,000↑ [Total Combat Power: 129,800/129,800] 13,200↑ [Unique Skill: <Causality Alteration> <Dimensional Manipulation> <Absorption> <Materialization>] [Racial Skill: <Fear> <Mist Form>] [Simple Identification] [Human Form (Wonderful)] [Subspace Inventory] [Dark Lady]
Luckily, there was a huge magic stone nearby that had been serving as a mana battery, so I used it to refill myself.
The battery, big enough for me to need both my arms to hold it, still had a bit of power left. I took it outside, punching a hole in the castle walls, and I commenced my attack on the approaching Demon Lord in the distance.
“Causality Alteration, Absorption, parallel activation! —[Nadir]—!”
I absorbed the heat and light of the surrounding, combining the space of nothingness with the mana in the magic stone to create a white ball of magic power inside my mouth. I spat it at the Demon Lord.
The white projectile crossed several kilometers of a city now mostly evacuated, freezing everything in its path. It hit Fiorfata as the Demon Lord was about to enter the city.
But Fiorfata appeared from within the kilometer-wide frozen crater barely wounded. It wiped away the ice on its wings and laughed.
[Unseelie Lord・Fiorfata] [Race: Dark Pixie] [Demon Lord] ・One of the seven Demon Lords ruling Netherworld. A god of the Netherworld. [Magic Points: 573,000/600,000] [Total Combat Power: 643,000/670,000]
What a freak…
Yet it was exactly that freakish power that was keeping Fiorfata from being serious, to my benefit. The real battle would only begin once I gained enough power for Fiorfata to consider me a real threat, but it was still a long, long way away.
…no, this wasn’t the time to be pessimistic. I slapped my own cheeks, trying to psyche myself up.
Next up was Sanhuit, an island country to the south. It would be another few hundreds of kilometers of ocean to cross. At least I was a little faster now.
I stepped on the ruins of the walls, getting ready to leave right away. But then suddenly, my unnecessarily-capable rabbit ears caught the whistling sound of something cutting through the air far away.
An explosion rang out.
Far in the distance, a building resembling a clock tower burst open and folded in half. I could hear screams from nearby the collapsing clock tower, probably from people who hadn’t gotten away in time.
It was only the beginning. A moment later, the urban area began to be torn apart by a constant rain of explosives.
Who was doing this? The attacks were also hitting Fiorfata, but the way I see it, it just looked like an indiscriminate bombardment.
The castle where I was at was also hit. I pushed the rubble aside and went outside. There, in the sky far away, I saw some ten-odd flying airships.
Were they the attackers? Why were human airships attacking a human city…?
As I wondered in puzzlement, a voice amplified with magic sounded out from the fleet of airships.
“—We are—the alliance army of—Lansis Empire, Tolldorre, and Luselle Kingdom. This airspace is now—under our fleet’s control.—In order to—defeat the Unseelie Lord—and the Dark Lady, and to cleanse—the dark pixie infestation,—all upon this land shall be purged.—”
…were they serious?!
A/N: Shedy’s still a kid. It’s the reason why while she can be ruthless to her enemies, excessive losses still make her hesitate.