The international summit between the heads of state of Yggdrasia’s large countries, conducted through the ‘clairvoyant mirror’ magitools, had been going on for days.
The destruction of the Saplings that were the cornerstones of human civilization had begun with the Dark Lady Whitehare. It had subsequently given rise to an insurrection of demihumans, the resources of the human race, and even sabotage in the name of their so-called ‘resistance’.
And then, in a treasonous act to mankind, the Sage had summoned an Evil God: the Unseelie Lord. Its manifestation had set off a battle of supremacy between itself and the Dark Lady to determine the owner of the throne of Evil. And as though the floodgates had been opened, the Dark General monsters and even the hitherto silent dragons had joined the demihumans in attacking human cities. Of the ninety-nine human countries, nearly half had already fallen.
While the flames of war had still not yet spread to the Central Continent, the Southern Continent and the Western Continent — where the Unseelie Lord had been summoned — had lost most of its countries, giving rise to a vast amount of refugees and casualties.
The human leaders had engaged in some measure of censorship to avoid panic among the populace, but there had been a particular rumor that was suspected to have been disseminated by the demihuman resistance.
The Dark Lady and the Evil God are aiming for the World Saplings.
The rumor had caused those living in settlements lacking thick, protective walls, such as small countries and rural cities, to start looting food from stores and evacuating. Several cities within the Central Continent were already beginning to be paralyzed.
And finally, the biggest problem was that the gag order was already slowly leaking. A certain piece of information formerly dismissed by leaders worldwide had now become a matter of extreme contention.
The mana coming from the Saplings wasn’t infinite, and exhausting it would bring the world to ruin. Thus, the Dark Lady’s objective hadn’t been the extermination of mankind as was originally believed, but to build a new World Tree system by destroying the old Saplings.
If this was true, then the Evil of the world wouldn’t be the Dark Lady but instead mankind. To humans, those who had prospered due to their monopoly of mana, this possibility was not something they could accept.
But there were dissenting voices, still.
There was information that the Dark Lady gained strength with each Sapling destroyed. In which case, this was simply the Dark Lady rampaging in her desire for power, and once she had it all, all of humanity would be trampled under her feet. So to preserve the peace of the world, the Dark Lady must not be allowed to gain any more power.
This was the belief advocated by those who believed in the God of the Temples, beginning with the Holy City Ayune.
Nobody knows which was the truth. Perhaps both might be wrong, or both might be right. The only one who could know was the Dark Lady herself.
As war neared their own countries, the heads of state continued their fruitless arguments. And then the alliance of the Academy City of Cinqres and the Marine City of Vingteun poured oil into the fire with a new proposal.
“We, the Academy City of Cinqres, propose to abandon the Saplings to remove ourselves from being targets of the Dark Lady and the Unseelie Lord.”
“We, the Marine City of Vingteun, support the proposal together with our neighbors, the countries of Handt and Ouze.”
Of course, the idea was immediately decried by many other countries.
“Are you insane?! You would abandon the very cradle of humanity?!”
“Why would you throw away the Sapling’s mana?! Have you forgotten the pride of mankind?!”
“And how are we going to explain to our people that they’re going to have to live like animals again after all this time?!”
“Who would take responsibility if monsters attacked?!”
The proposers replied, scoffing.
“What, are you actually thinking you’ll get off lighter if the Dark Lady or the dragons attacked you instead? Dream on.”
“Demihumans aside, we can’t afford to let our countries be involved with the Dark Lady’s fight with the Unseelie Lord. It’ll be the end for us.”
“There have been reports that the Dark Lady does, in fact, possess some intellect.”
“If the Dark Lady gains strength by destroying Saplings, then why don’t we let her kill the Unseelie Lord for us?”
The pointless argument soon devolved into insults, and the host of the summit, the Pope of the Holy City Ayune, was forced to announce a vote. Only three large countries voted for: the Academy City of Cinqres, the Marine City of Vingteun, and the Free City of Seis. Two countries abstained, while everyone else voted against. The motion to abandon the Saplings failed.
Afterward, the militant faction led by Vingtuit, Battrol, and Quinze Kingdom proposed further deployment of flying battleships, and the motion passed. Thus ended the summit.
The images and sound on the clairvoyant mirror cut off. Within a windowless room, Tischlar, the emperor of Touze, leaned deeply back on his chair. He called for the only other occupant in the room.
“…hey, old man.”
“I am here, young master.”
“That first vote… you know who the other abstainee is, right?”
“I believe it is likely to be the City of Medicine, Lantoure. At the moment, most of Lantoure’s neighboring countries had already fallen. They don’t have the resources to support their neighbors and take in the refugees.”
“Yeah, of course. And Lantoure’s governor fears the loss of their knowledge more than the loss of the Sapling’s magic… Old man, can you contact Cinqres, Vingteun, Seis, and Lantoure? Make sure nobody knows you’re doing it. Oh, and call the ambassadors from Qatore and Quaronze to meet me.”
“I leave it to you.”
The old butler quietly bowed and left the room, himself already no longer on Tiz’s mind. As he stayed seated in his chair, the emperor tightly grasped the scabbard of the magical sword on his waist.
Together with my new companion, the white dragon, we’d destroyed the Saplings of two small countries named Barrhuit and Barneuf, all the while dodging Fiorfata’s attacks and keeping it on our tails. We were now crossing the ocean to head to the next continent.
The ice dragon flying at our rear had stayed back to delay the Demon Lord. I could hear the booming explosion behind me as the dragon was slain.
It had been several hours now. There wasn’t a second when I didn’t see Fiorfata behind us.
It was, in a way, not very surprising when I think about it. Enormous creatures like dragons consumed a lot of magic when they flew, and they were also physical life-forms. They would tire in time.
As the flight of dragons began to flag, they could no longer keep Fiorfata at range. One after another, they stayed back to delay the Demon Lord, and one after another, they fell to the ocean, unable to dodge its attacks.
“It’s going to catch up with us at this rate… Everyone, get away. I’ve recovered quite a bit already.”
“Yet not completely, is it not? Believe in us. We swear upon our pride as the sovereigns of this world that we shall carry thee safely to shore. Do not worry.”
The dragons… the monsters were much too stubborn. Too pure.
They wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t compromise. No matter how tired or how close to death they were, they’d still fight on for the sake of the world.
Yet if I tried to take them away from the fight here, I might just be doing nothing more than spitting on their pride, their way of life.
…I was still naive, it seemed. If I still feared losses, if I wasn’t determined to walk my path no matter who was blocking my way, I wouldn’t ever win again the Demon Lord.
The World Tree just sent me more white magic stones.
Somebody else was also fighting for the world, someone whose face I didn’t even know. I couldn’t hesitate any more, otherwise their resolve would all be for nothing.
[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 49] ・The rabbit demon of Laplace. Trickster and guide of man’s fate. [Magic Points: 107,500/169,000] 21,000↑ [Total Combat Power: 124,400/185,900] 23,100↑ [Unique Skill: <Causality Alteration> <Dimensional Manipulation> <Absorption> <Materialization>] [Racial Skill: <Fear> <Mist Form>] [Simple Identification] [Human Form (Wonderful)] [Subspace Inventory] [Dark Lady]
The sight of the Eastern Continent heartened the dragons, and they managed to make a bit more distance from Fiorfata. I took a short breather and tried to remember what the World Tree had told me.
There were three Saplings remaining in the southern region of the Eastern Continent that was coming into our view, as well as just a few more in the central region.
I relayed the info to the dragons. The gold dragon flying alongside me approached and spoke.
“Mistress of Dark, my brethren had communed with me through our mind connection. They are working with other monsters to liberate the Saplings of the central region of this land.”
“Yeah. The World Tree also told me demihumans and monsters all over the world are doing their part.”
Monsters and demihumans were helping me. My power was growing steadily with every Sapling freed.
…but would it really be enough? It looked like my power could only get to around half of Fiorfata’s even if all the Saplings were liberated.
Until then, I had to continue grinding away at its magic power, no matter what price I must pay. I had to weaken it into an opponent I could actually fight at all.
A sudden ice-cold chill ran down my spine. I shouted before I could even think.
The dragons immediately scattered from their formation. Fiorfata’s curse, something that almost sounded like a voice, rang out not a moment later.
Comets began to fall from the sky like rain, raising columns of water dozens of meters high as they slammed into the ocean. The range of the bombardment even reached the Eastern Continent in front of my eyes. Far away, mushroom clouds of dust rose into the air.
How powerful had it been? How many lives had been lost? Just a single strike had torn chunks of flesh out of a silver dragon, and their body was now sinking into the ocean depths.
The Demon Lord suddenly changed into long-range attacks, perhaps tired of the chase, or perhaps getting impatient.
I couldn’t be careless even for a single moment here, no matter how much distance there was between us.
It was a Demon Lord. The pinnacle of all demons, and one of the gods ruling the Netherworld.
I unwittingly turned around to look at it. Fiorfata was still laughing… so it wasn’t going all-out yet. It was why I was still alive, and it was the message it was sending me, telling me it could kill me any time it wanted even without using its full strength.
It wasn’t the magical blasts that Fiorfata had been using to beat down on me, nor was it the large-scale bombardment just a while ago. From its extended fingertip came a beam of light, as if a laser.
The higher my combat power was, the faster both my body and mind could move.
Then how much combat power would I need to see the speed of light? The dragons tried to dodge by watching the direction its finger was pointing to, but an unfortunate fire dragon, being less agile compared to the others, got their wings sliced off. As they plummeted into the sea, Fiorfata waved its laser through the body, carving them into pieces like a child playing with a knife.
“Get to ground, now! Fly close to the surface! The dust will scatter the light a little!” I ordered the dragons, even when I knew it’d do nothing more than just giving some measure of perceived safety.
The remaining three dragons still followed my order, all the same. They dropped their speed, flying in evasive patterns, while I let loose wide-ranging mist in an attempt to weaken the laser.
The gold dragon’s shout reached my ears. Fiorfata was aiming its laser at me and the white dragon I was riding on with pin-point accuracy, probably because my magic had painted a target on me.
And suddenly, a gleaming something leaped out from the ground, twisting and turning in the air. The laser was deflected away from me by what looked like a sword to instead cut a swath through the forest.
What just… wait, a human?!
He landed right between us and Fiorfata. He flourished, swinging his sword to cool down the red-hot blade. His fingers swept the golden locks in front of his face as he affected a pose, and he pointed the holy sword toward Fiorfata. His blade caught the light as though a mirror.
“Hahahah! Calimero, the apostle of love and justice, is here to bring down the Unseelie Lord! Leave this to me, my beautiful Dark Lady, and go on ahead!”