All posts by Ph.D

93 – To the Final Battlefield

…’Consume’? My words surprised myself.

I thought I was using [Absorption]. The power I’d inherited from No. 17 could be used to absorb the mana from my surroundings, but more than that, it also worked with heat and kinetic energy. And just like how the creatures of this world could gain a part of the magical energy of those they defeated, this power was capable of stealing the magic and life-force of others to turn it into my own.

Using it to steal power from others, however, was most efficient when I directly touched my target. ‘Absorption’ wasn’t supposed to be able to turn enemy spells into mana for me to take.

And yet I had managed to gather the magical artillery projectiles the battleships shot at me in my hand and threw it back at them. I’d done it so naturally, without a second thought, as easy as walking or breathing.

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 50]
・The demon of Laplace. One who had ascended beyond an Archdemon.

[Magic Points: 107,500/172,000
[Total Combat Power: 124,400/189,200
[Unique Skill: <Causality Alteration> <Dimensional Manipulation> <Consumption> <Materialization>
[Racial Skill: <Fear> <Mist Form>]
[Simple Identification] [Human Form (Wonderful)] [Subspace Inventory]
[Dark Lady]

…my Absorption ability had evolved, just like how Causality Alteration and Dimensional Manipulation had.

And my description also changed a little bit. I’d ascended beyond an Archdemon…? Was this something similar to a Rank-up, not an Evolution?

What had caused these changes? Had it been because I’d reached level 50? Or had it come from the anger I felt upon losing the dragons?

Both my magic and total combat power hadn’t drastically increased like my previous evolutions or rank-ups. But I could feel something like a core forming inside of me.

It felt as though the tree log I’d been swinging around all this time was now a weapon made out of metal with the same weight… or maybe like the oil fire was now a gunpowder blast… I wasn’t sure how to describe it, but well, it felt like my very existence had reached a higher level.

 

The loss of Admiral Rhodon’s ship had sent the fleet into momentary panic, but they were already recovering, reforming their formation and aiming all their guns at me.

Were they really doing this? I narrowed my eyes. I stayed silent, stretching out my hand toward the fleet in the sky and squeezed.

Space creaked.

The next moment, fire burst out from the engine rooms of two of the ships. One exploded in mid-air, while the other one dropped out of the sky, slamming into the ground and shattering into pieces.

 

In a world relying as much on spells and magic circles as Yggdrasia, complex machinery, such as the magitech engine, was a new field, and as such was still rife with defects or instabilities. The machines only continued working because the arcane aspect of the design were forcing them to. And when dozens, hundreds of such defects suddenly worsened at the same time, what came after was a foregone conclusion.

What happened was a result of my newfound ability to use Causality Alteration even through their magical barriers. Although I was honestly quite surprised at how many of the ships were actually quite well-made.

 

The ships repeated their salvoes. The explosions themselves were a little bit painful, but now that I could consume magic power from the projectiles, I wasn’t just taking zero damage — the attacks were actually healing me.

“I don’t need this much, so you get them back.”

I gathered the excess magic power and the force of the explosions in my hand with [Consumption], adding some of my power, and lobbed the magical blast back at them.

Three more ships were now covered in flame. They lost their ability to stay afloat and crashed.

“Mm?”

I heard a whistling noise. I dodged with a short-range teleportation, and an enormous iron harpoon shot through where I used to be. I’m guessing this was for towing large creatures? Looked like the fleet changed into using simple physical weapons after they realized I could return their magic back at them.

“…in that case…”

I turned into mist and zipped toward the fleet. I still received a bit of damage even when I was incorporeal, but with my current power, it wasn’t enough for me to care.

I approached one of the ships. Its rudder turned in a hasty attempt to dodge while another of its harpoons were shot at me.

I enveloped the four-meters-large harpoon as mist and turned back to human form, using Dimensional Manipulation to offset the inertia and Consumption to devour the kinetic energy. Then I used the enormous lance as an impromptu blunt weapon to bash in the ship’s bridge.

As I stood on the wreckage of the bridge, an arrow whiffed my cheek. It had come from the soldiers on the deck of a few other ships that had gotten close.

Well, if they’re offering themselves as sacrifices…

I swung the harpoon to knock away the subsequent arrows, then flooded the two ships with mist of extreme cold, freezing them into a single falling lump of ice.

 

The fleet had lost half of their numbers in a blink of an eye. They began to retreat.

It was less a retreat and more a rout, really. I ignored most of them to head for the single ship that still stayed. It was the same kind of large battleship as Rhodon’s.

Several men had gotten out to the deck with hands behind their heads.

What were they thinking? I threw the harpoon into the walls of the bridge, covering the slowly-approaching ship with cold mist, and I landed. The moment I did, the men wearing officer uniforms on the deck all dropped down, their heads touching the deck with hands still locked behind them.

They looked like they were… prostrating themselves. If I remembered correctly from the information package that had been downloaded into my brain in the very beginning, this was the sign of surrender for humans of this world.

 

“…what are you planning?”

“Dark Lady! Please stay your hands! We do not wish to fight!” An older man said hastily, looking desperate. The ship’s captain?

“What are you talking about now? Didn’t you attack me?”

“W-we were just following Rhodon’s orders! We did not want to be your enemy—”

“And you kept attacking even after he was dead.”

“T-that is… H-how will you stand against the Unseelie Lord if you don’t have us?! Without our help, you can’t—AGH!”

As the captain began to run his mouth, I shut him up with a kick, hurling him away and shocking the other crew members into silence. I looked down on them and spoke frostily.

“I’ll deal with it myself. I don’t need humans.”

 

I covered my hands with mist. Armed soldiers jumped out from their hiding spots on the deck.

I released my mist to turn them all into statues of ice. The captain took out the handgun he’d hidden, aiming it at me, even as he was already half-frozen. Ice covered him whole just before his finger could pull the trigger, and he took his last breath with an expression of fury on his face.

What a farce, setting up an ambush while they pretended to surrender. Not like I had any intentions of accepting the help of humans anymore anyway, even if they had been sincere.

 

What should I do with the escaping ships that still remained? I was quite sure they’d be destroyed by my hands one way or another, but I had to deal with Fiorfata right now. I didn’t have the time.

But while I was occupied with my thoughts, a beam of laser flashed in front of my eyes, shooting down the escaping ships one after another.

Damn it… it already caught up!

[Unseelie LordFiorfata] [Race: Dark Pixie] [Demon Lord]
・One of the seven Demon Lords ruling Netherworld. A god of the Netherworld.

[Magic Points: 523,000/600,000]
[Total Combat Power: 583,000/670,000]

…that was quite the decrease in magic power. Calimero must have gone all out, then.

On top of the thick forest of the Eastern Continent, the two of us faced each other over a distance of several kilometers. The Demon Lord must have noticed the gain in my power. It cackled, its body trembling in amusement.

A chilling cold ran down my spine.

The miasma dripping from Fiorfata covered the forest below us, turning the land a rotting black in a blink of an eye and spawning a vast amount of dark pixies.

Fiorfata had finally decided to be serious. Its attacks were going to be deadly… no, cataclysmic from now on.

 

In response, I pointed my hands at it.

“Causality Alteration, Dimensional Manipulation, Consumption, parallel activation!”

Just combining three of my evolved abilities together was already taking a huge chunk out of my magic reserve.

 

“—[Absolute Nadir]—”

 

I clapped my hands together. A space of absolute zero formed right in front of Fiorfata, expanding into the shape of a perfect sphere with a radius of several kilometers.

Tens of thousands of dark pixies were turned into diamond dust in a flash. Fiorfata was being covered by the cold mist, and the white world slowly engulfed him.

But not for long.

 

Crack! The sphere of absolute zero was broken with countless beams of light, forcing me to twist and tumble through the air to dodge. Fiorfata once more appeared from the world of white, a bit of frost clinging onto its body.

I still couldn’t win yet… but I could dodge its attacks now.

And I knew that my cold mist was now capable of slowing it down, even if only for a little bit.

Come on, then. Chase me until I can win.

Before Fiorfata started moving, I left for the ocean. I headed for what would be our final battlefield: the Central Continent.


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92 – Evolving Power

I had left the battle to the Blademaster, Calimero, to head for the Republic of Sondoze. By now, there were only three dragons accompanying me.

I glanced backward. I could sense the intensifying magic power of Fiorfata, and I could hear the rumbling explosions behind me.

Was Calimero still fighting? Or had he already fallen…?

“What troubleth thee, Dark Mistress?” The gold dragon asked.

“…nothing.” I shook my head.

I’d had some history with Calimero, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t wish him well. Even if he couldn’t win, I also couldn’t imagine him losing very easily. I looked forward, focusing on our journey ahead.

“…mm?”

Suddenly, the World Tree sent another white magic stone into my hand.

Judging from how it felt, this was… the Sapling at Swantol Kingdom? The large country several thousand kilometers to my west. I didn’t know who did it, but they would probably head for the small country of Xantecinq to the east of Swantol next. In that case, should I meet up with them and head for Xantecinq together after I finished with Sondoze?

…no. If Fiorfata caught up, both Xantecinq’s people and my allies might just be wiped out.

What should I do? Do I leave this continent to them? That would probably be the path of least casualty. However, this conflict was supposed to be concluded with me asserting myself as the Evil of this world. A part of me was reluctant to get others involved.

 

“Dark Mistress! My brethren hath sent me a telepathic message. Flying ships of human are coming from the Central Continent!” The gold dragon said, worry and nervousness lacing his voice.

“What?!”

 

I immediately contacted the World Tree. Images of a far-off fleet of over a dozen flying battleships crossing the ocean were sent to me from the new Sapling of Quanneuf, a country near the sea.

Judging from the angle, they were coming right for us.

Hopefully the fleet was aiming for Fiorfata. Considering how they’d attacked the dragons, though, they might still decide to focus on me and my helpers once they arrived instead.

 

“Change of plans! We’ll leave the Saplings of this continent to our allies while I head for the fleet!”

“Shalt thou fight?”

“…I’ll check out their intentions first.”

 

I had made a decision to destroy the rampant civilization of humans. But if these people really understood the threat the world was facing, if they really were fighting for the world instead of for their own selfishness… then I would want to see if they were sincere.

The dragons told me they’d follow, seemingly thinking it’d come to a fight. They should have been near their limits by now, with how much flying they’d done… really, so stubborn.

 

We changed our course to head for the Central Continent.

Both the airships and the dragons could fly as fast as a passenger plane of Earth, so I expected we’d come in contact with the human fleet in this continent.

I sensed Fiorfata’s magic signal chasing us just as we changed our direction… the Demon Lord was about thirty minutes away from us, it seemed. Not that far, but not close enough for it to attack us directly either.

 

On Yggdrasia, the sun rose in the east and set in the west just like Earth. We’d been flying all the way west from the Western Continent, and it was under the still-bright sky that I saw the fleet of over a dozen ships slightly to our south.

 

“Dark Mistress, the humans are attacking someone!”

“Hurry!”

I could hear faint sounds of magical artillery now. The place I saw far off in the distance should be Swantol Kingdom, the country that had just lost its Sapling a short time ago, but the fleet was shelling the town from some distance away.

My breath hitched the moment I saw what they were shooting at.

Human refugees. And protecting them was the demihuman resistance. I jumped from the dragon’s back, using teleportation to get there as fast as I could.

 

“—[Nadir]—”

 

I created a space of extreme cold, targeting the center of the fleet the moment they entered my range. My attack didn’t directly hit any ship, but it had caused a turbulence, forcing the fleet to stop shooting as they stabilized themselves. I continued flying, ignoring them, and I landed next to the demihuman resistance.

 

“M-milady!”

“What’s going on? Why are the humans shooting refugees?”

One of the elves was about to answer, a wince on his face, but he was interrupted by another voice coming from a pair of silhouettes, one large, one small.

“They claimed that they were only attacking the resistance,” said the smaller one, a girl.

“…it’s you.”

She was one half of the twin elves I’d rescued at the auction back then. Beside her wasn’t her brother, but instead someone I knew very well.

“…a Hero?”

“…it’s me. It’s been a while, Dark Lady.”

He was the human Hero who’d stayed until the end to fight for the people. He was… Gold, right? Considering he was with the demihuman resistance, he must have found his own truth.

But this was no time for contemplation.

“Are they shooting the refugees because they’re staying with you?”

“…yes. We’d implored them to take in the refugees, but then they suddenly began shooting at all of us, even the townspeople.” Gold replied.

“They said everyone here were resistance, with no exceptions.” The elven girl said.

So the top brass of humans were all like that, then…

“I’ll deal with the human fleet. Meanwhile, you should run into the forest.” I said.

“Are you going to fight by yourself…? Absurd! I’m going with you!” Gold said heatedly, stepping forward with a hand on his sword just as I thought he would.

I put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

“Fiorfata is coming here in about thirty minutes. You understand, right? Get away from here, now.”

“…got it.” Gold relented, feeling the power disparity between him and me. With just a single one of my hands, he hadn’t been able to move an inch before I released him.

The fleet far off in the sky had regained their balance. They were about to resume their bombardment.

I turned myself into mist and flew upward to attract their attention. Once I made sure their cannons were aimed at me, I used teleportation to approach the fleet. I tore apart the barrier covering the largest airship and broke into the ship’s bridge.

 

A fearful commotion broke out among the crew members. An elderly man, likely the captain, shouted at them.

“Stop panicking! Lower your weapons!” He ordered and stepped toward me. “I am admiral Rhodon of Quinze Kingdom, and I’m in charge of this fleet. Might you be the Dark Lady?”

“…yes, I am.”

He seemed like such a calm, gentle man.

Why was he shooting at the refugees, his fellow humans? Was he really the man who’d given the order? I’d stormed the ship with full intention to kill, but the admiral had not been what I expected at all, and before I knew it, I was already listening to him. Rhodon shook his head with a pained look on his face.

“You must have come here to condemn my decision. But I had no choice. There was no way to know if there were demihumans hiding among the refugees, and if I take them in, I risk our ships being sabotaged. We wouldn’t be able to fight the Unseelie Lord then.”

We were silent for a moment as I gathered my thoughts. They were prepared to make their own sacrifices for the sake of the world, was that it? Was that what he was saying?

“You don’t have to worry about Fiorfata, I’ll deal with it. You just take the refugees. I’ll talk to the demihumans.” I offered.

“Oooh, that would be wonderful. Let us save lives, then. It is, after all, our true duty.”

Rhodon smiled the smile of a gentle old man and nodded profusely.

…was it true? Had they really come here to protect the world, nothing else?

“Then get the refugees on your ships and get away. Fiorfata’s coming soon.”

“I understand.”

 

I left the bridge to go to the ship’s deck, and from there, I jumped on the back of the white dragon who’d come to pick me up.

“Danger!”

But just as I landed on their back, the white dragon suddenly twisted their body to cover me, and not a moment too soon. A terrible impact blew us away.

 

“Gah!” I coughed, regaining my vision and my balance in the air. The first thing I saw was the body of the white dragon falling toward the ground. They were already dead.

“Dark Mistress!”

The bombardment continued. The gold dragon and another dragon flew to cover me with their own bodies.

What just happened?!

I turned to look at the battleship. Rhodon was still looking at me with that same gentle smile.

But when I focused my eyes to look, for a single moment, his face blurred to instead reveal a gross smirk.

“A Child of God…?”

He must have been one of those Children of God, like Tiz, those who possessed a special ability. Something that could make others believe in him, or maybe to hide his true thoughts… damn him.

The gold dragon was still alive, but not for long. His voice reached my ears as I was about to lose myself to my anger.

“…Dark Mistress.” 

“No! I’m sorry, if I hadn’t—”

“…do not… be swept by the malice of humans… do not lose sight of thy goal…”

“…I got it.”

 

The dragons had all died protecting me.

Do not lose sight of my goal… to protect the world? But it had been my fault… you died because I was careless…

…I understand. I won’t forget… I’m sorry, gold dragon, I won’t hesitate any more… so let me be angry for you, just this one time.

Right then, a hail of magical artillery rained down upon me. My magic power slowly decreased from the damage.

…but something inside of me clicked, and suddenly, my mana reserve shot up.

 

“—[Consume]—”

 

I raised my right hand. All the projectiles gathered there as though being sucked in by a black hole, transforming into a massive ball of energy.

I wouldn’t hesitate any more.

I threw the energy ball back. Rhodon’s face twitched, and the large battleship was disintegrated in a blink of an eye.

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 50]
・The demon of Laplace. One who had ascended beyond an Archdemon.

[Magic Points: 107,500/172,000] 3,000↑
[Total Combat Power: 124,400/189,200] 3,300↑
[Unique Skill: <Causality Alteration> <Dimensional Manipulation> <Consumption> <Materialization>
[Racial Skill: <Fear> <Mist Form>]
[Simple Identification] [Human Form (Wonderful)] [Subspace Inventory]
[Dark Lady]

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91 – The Blademaster’s Battle

The Blademaster Calimero?! What the hell did he mean, “leave this to me”?!

My head was still turned backward as I stayed seated on the back of the white dragon when the sight of a Hero wielding the holy sword, his back facing me, entered my eyes. Calimero made his sword dance, the blade so polished it looked like a mirror, and he turned toward me and winked.

 

“…”

“Mistress of Dark, let us go. Do not let his bravery be in vain!” The gold dragon flying to my side reprimanded me.

“Y-yeah.”

I turned forward.

He was buying time for me, not as a Hero of humanity, but as a Hero protecting the world.

But even with the power of a Hero… no, that wasn’t quite right. Rather, I should say that as long as he was human, he would never win against the Demon Lord Fiorfata. The gap between humans and the pinnacle of all demons was far too big.

I wouldn’t let his determination go to waste.

…yet on the other hand, for some reason, I felt a strange kind of sympathy, not for Calimero but for Fiorfata, the one who was going to have to fight him. I slowly closed my eyes, fingers pressing on my brow.

 

***

 

“Come on, Unseelie Lord or whatever your name is! For the sake of my 12,755 lovers all over the world, I, Calimero, fight as a champion of love!”

 

The Dark Lady Whitehare and the dragons were gone. Calimero, the Blademaster Hero, swept aside his front locks of golden hair while the fingertips of his other hand twirled the holy sword, the most powerful weapon of mankind that had been entrusted to him by the Holy City Ayune. He pointed the sword toward Fiorfata as the Unseelie Lord calmly approached him, and he struck a pose.

 

“…̸̡͡…̸̀‡̵̶∴̵͡*̵̵ヾ…̸͟?”

 

Fiorfata stopped moving. It stared at its fingertip, its head slowly tilting to the side.

It had been a moment’s fancy when Fiorfata, the Demon Lord, answered the summon. There hadn’t been any particular reason or emotion behind its decision to destroy this world — it was only thinking to ‘get some fresh air’ after staying in a closed room for years, so to speak.

If there had to be a reason, then perhaps it had been the Malice of Men, that which was so attractive to demons.

Sane people wouldn’t try to summon a demon. It was exactly that suicidal malice of humans that served as bait to lure in demons.

In that sense, the malice that had called up Fiorfata had been quite the amusing morsel. It had accepted the offering and had decided to destroy this world as payment in return, when it noticed something much, much more interesting.

A white demon that didn’t fear the superior Demon Lord.

She dared to stand against it even when she had no more power than an archdemon, provoking it, gaining more power even as she continued to scurry around. It hadn’t had this much fun in millennia. So much fun that it even decided to leave destroying the world for later.

Still, its chase of the white demon was nothing more than a game. It was cornering a running baby rabbit just for fun. There was no need to get serious.

It wasn’t serious, but Fiorfata’s attacks — with intentionally limited range, granted — were still enough to inflict near-fatal damage on an archdemon if they hit directly.

And a human had blocked it.

 

“…́…҉‡̨̕∴͠*◇̀͡∫́…̕͟?̢”

 

Fiorfata once more released a beam of light from its fingertip at Calimero, the sudden intruder who was pointing his weapon at it.

The light, as hot as modern laser weaponry of Earth, should have been enough to flash-vaporize the fragile human body. And yet…

“HAAAH!!”

Calimero shouted and swung the holy sword together with an explosive surge in his magic. The beam of light was deflected away from him to instead cut down a large area of forest to the left.

 

“…̴̨…̷‡∴*̡ヾ́͡…͢?̸́”

 

Fiorfata once more slowly tilted its head.

This was impossible. Yet the impossible was happening right in front of it.

Calimero hadn’t relied on any tricks or special skills.

Faced with an attack as fast as light, Calimero had observed Fiorfata’s head direction, the movements of its fingers, the minuscule changes in its magic flow, and he had immediately released the mana he had been focusing and compressing within him, at the same time establishing a magical barrier to restrict the scope of the laser. He wasn’t blocking, instead leveraging the reflective property of the material of the holy sword to deflect over ninety-eight percent of the energy away from him.

He did all these within a twentieth of a second. And afterward, to deal with the leftover radiant heat, he intentionally overcharged the mana that he had used to create the magical barrier into a blast to disperse the heat.

If he had been late for just a hundredth of a second, if his sword angle had been wrong, if he had overcharged his magical barrier at the wrong time… any of these mistakes would have been enough to kill him.

Yet the most astonishing thing about him was his ability to carry out his actions. The unbelievable courage to stand tall in front of an enemy over forty times more powerful than him had been the reason Calimero still lived.

Many would have been content to simply wave off what he did, saying it was just because he was a ‘freak’, but at the same time, one could say his achievements had only been possible purely due to his inborn gifts.

 

He was a true genius born of Yggdrasia, and the most powerful Hero of all history.

This was the truth of Calimero.

 

Still, it was true what they said. There was a fine line between genius and… whatever he was.

 

“Hahahah! Is that it, Unseelie Lord?! If so, then you will never be able to defeat Calimero, the guardian of love!” He loudly exclaimed, displaying a handsome smile while his fingers swept across his bangs.

For a moment, Fiorfata stilled.

No one could understand what it was thinking. A two-dimensional being could not ever hope to comprehend one living in the third.

But still, Fiorfata grinned. The miasma clinging to the Demon Lord turned pitch-black, and the obsidian egg it had for a head cracked apart in a grin no one had seen until now.

 

“WhooaaAAA?!!”

 

Fiorfata expelled beams of light from all of its left-hand fingers, tearing apart the whole area where Calimero was. The mushroom cloud reached as high as three hundred meters, and the dust was thick enough to block out the sun. A flash of sharp light pierced through the cloud, only to bounce off of Fiorfata’s head and vanish.

 

“Did you actually think that was enough to kill me, Calimero?!”

 

Calimero, the hero of light, danced in the air as he sliced apart the cloud of dust. His clothes and armor were grimy with dirt and mud, but there wasn’t a single speck of dust on his face and hair.

Out of the six lasers coming out of Fiorfata’s fingers, Calimero could only parry two. But the deflected beams had hit the others, changing their paths, and he had even utilized the explosion caused by the projectiles hitting the ground to jump and take refuge in the air.

Even Calimero himself wouldn’t have been able to explain how he had done it.

The man possessed the calculation ability to create intricate solutions in a blink of an eye, as well as the capability to carry it out without a moment’s hesitation. But he was also incorrigible.

 

“For the sake of my 12,756 lovers all over the world!”

 

At that moment, the cloying miasma surrounding Fiorfata abruptly turned a shade blacker.

 

A hail of comets rained down on Calimero as if the whole sky had fallen, turning the shoreline of the Eastern Continent unrecognizable. But even inside the localized apocalypse, Calimero still laughed, his cheerful voice unfaltering.

At first glance, he seemed to be on equal grounds with Fiorfata, a demon some would call an Evil God, yet this was not so.

Calimero was making hairline dodges of attacks that would kill him with only a scratch, while his own attacks couldn’t deal even the least damage to Fiorfata. While the Hero was still unharmed, the magic power that he needed to dodge wasn’t infinite. The magic stones and magitools he’d prepared were slowly but surely depleting, and Fiorfata’s attacks were grinding his life down.

Why was Calimero continuing with such recklessness, then?

 

“Come on! Don’t hold back now, Unseelie Lord!!”

 

It was to buy time, and it was to lower Fiorfata’s magic power as much as possible.

By instincts, Calimero had known that the Dark Lady Whitehare wasn’t his enemy. And by instincts, he’d known that taking her as his lover would bring peace to the world, which had been the reason why he had continued to pursue her until now.

 

Blows after blows struck him. As Calimero stood battered and bruised, Fiorfata released an enormous magical blast at him.

The Hero swept his pristine bangs aside with bloodied fingers. He smiled gently as he looked into the approaching mass of magic power.

 

“…my beautiful Dark Lady. The rest is up to you.”

 

As long as he succeeded in weakening Fiorfata’s magic and combat power, he was sure the white girl would win. So spoke his instincts of a Hero.

The massive magical projectile crushed into Calimero, his smile still unwavering until the very end. All that was left behind was an immense crater.

 

“…̛͟…‡̢́͠∴̴́͞*͞?”

Upon the sight, Fiorfata faintly tilted its neck to the side… and then it left once more to resume the chase.

 

On a land now scoured of all moving creatures, the holy sword tumbled through the air to stab into the ground. It shone, catching the light as though a gravestone.


A/N:…did that kill him?


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90 – Confusion

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.”

“…understood.”

“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.

“…aargh!”

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.

 

“Ah.”

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]

“…there’s land!”

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.

“Get away!”

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.

“…Fiorfata…!”

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.

 

“Beware!”

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.

“Dodge!”

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.

“Dark Mistress!”

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.

It fired—

 

“HEEEYA!”

 

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!”


Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter

89 – The Brazen Heroine

Marlene? The Heroine who’d summoned Fiorfata together with Brian? What was she thinking, showing up now of all times?

At the moment, however, I found myself not quite caring about that.

“…get off.” I growled.

Being trampled under her feet was the still-warm body of the wind dragon that had been fighting together with me, before they were killed by the Heroine.

“Haah?! The hell are you talking about?!” She screeched, slamming her heels downward.

The next instant, the dragons circling in the air let loose a spine-chilling killing intent. Another wind dragon dove down to unleash its rage on Marlene. They suddenly exploded during their descent, blasting off and crashing on the ground outside the city.

What happened?!

During my moment of surprise, Marlene turned the staff she was holding in a strange stance toward me. The ground below me abruptly erupted, flinging me away dozens of meters.

 

“Tsk, small targets are such a trouble to hit,” Marlene spat out. She swiftly jammed something into the end of her staff and once more pointed it at me.

That wasn’t a staff. It was… a musket gun? I’d thought it to be a staff since it looked different from modern firearms, plus it was made from wood, but on a closer look I could see the resemblance to a rifle.

I didn’t feel much magic coming from the musket itself. However, the thing she’d just stuffed inside the gun was giving off a crazy magic signal.

 

“…what’s that bullet?”

I stood up, getting out of the rubble. Marlene scoffed, her unhinged smile once more showing on her face.

“I wouldn’t have thought a demihuman to know about guns. Brian’s got some weird but really good ones of his own, but this thing here? We made it in Quarancinq by ourselves. It shoots monsters’ magic stones that have been compressed with special magic. It can kill even you, Dark Bitch!”

As Marlene spoke, she took out another bullet from her chest. I felt an even more powerful emanation of magic from it than the one before.

This is a bullet made out of a dragon’s magic stone. As you can see, a single shot can kill even a dragon. This thing is more powerful than the magical artillery. Be grateful, animal, I’ve had to gather magic stones for nearly ten years for this!”

 

Seeing the bullet that used to be a dragon magic stone, the flying dragons all roared in rage. Marlene pointed her gun toward the sky.

 

“No!!” I shouted, immediately stretching out my hand to squeeze.

Marlene shrieked. But the Causality attack only bounced off her with a spark, together with something peeling off of her. It looked like a talisman.

“I’ve long since prepared for your tricks, rabbit! You’re not so scary if I have my scapegoats!”

Marlene smugly showed off one of her amulets.

A magitool to protect her? But how much magic had she poured into the thing for it to actually be able to defend against me?

 

“…fight me alone. One on one.”

“Fine. I’ll show you the power of a Heroine. The power of the Sage!”

 

I told the dragons to stay back with a glance of my eyes. As I got close to her, Marlene aimed her gun at me.

 

“Why aren’t you fighting the Unseelie Lord? Didn’t you call it up?”

“…shut up. Like hell I can do anything about it by myself.”

“Aren’t you a Heroine? Don’t you have your responsibility?”

“Shut up, shut up!” Marlene shouted in hysterics, unwilling to listen. “It’s not my fault! …that’s right, it’s Brian’s! It’s all because of him! They’re not going to put all the blame on me, they can’t! I just need to kill you by myself, and I’ll be forgiven. They won’t do it!”

“…right.”

I didn’t think her name would be cleared just by killing me, but it looked like to her, the reputation she had as a ‘Hero’ was more important than anything else.

Even more important than the lives of others or the fate of this world.

I couldn’t understand her, but there was one thing I did understand: I couldn’t let her insanity be the cause of any more suffering.

 

“Die, Dark Bitch!!”

 

Her magic gun spat out fire. I had promptly dodged, but the shockwave still blew me several meters away.

This was difficult to dodge. The blast range was way too big. I landed, rolling on the ground, and I threw a large cloud of cold air at Marlene.

“You can’t hurt me!”

My magic once more bounced off with crackling electricity, removing another of her talisman. Her gun fired off another shot.

“Oof!”

“Stop running, rabbit!”

[Marlene] [Race: Human ♀] [The Heroine “Sage”]
[Magic Points (MP): 757/800] [Hit Points (HP): 293/300]
[Total Combat Power: 14590]

She wasn’t much different in combat power to the other Heroes, yet the dragons with over twenty thousand combat power still died in a single shot. Which meant the attack power of that gun must be over twenty thousand.

If I assumed that power hadn’t come from the gun itself, then the only other possibility was those magic-stone bullets.

Even I would have been hard-pressed if Marlene was firing it at full-auto, but she always stopped to check the results of each shot. She was showing a lot of irritation each time she missed.

…did she not have much ammo?

If those bullets were made from dragons and similarly powerful monsters, then even if she’d stockpiled them for a decade, I didn’t think she’d have that many.

And perhaps the same went for her defense.

Single-use or not, it was unlikely that she could have an unlimited number of such powerful defensive charms.

 

“What? Have you finally given up, then?”

Marlene was puzzled for a moment, seeing me suddenly standing stock-still, but she still quickly re-aimed her gun. I waved my fingers at her in provocation. Her eyebrows raised, and she shot at my face.

I kept my eyes on the speeding projectile, confirming its trajectory, and twisted my head just enough to let it pass me by. The bullet hit what remained of Soixansept’s palace behind me and blew it up.

“Wha-?! S-stay still, fucking rabbit!”

Marlene shot twice, thrice, all aiming for my head. I dodged them the same way as before: by centimeters.

 

If I made a mistake here, I would be in for a world of hurt. Luckily, the speed of bullets was still barely within my capability as long as I knew where they were coming from.

And as I expected, she was a Heroine, not a soldier.

When I was fighting with Earth’s military, the people using explosive weapons never aimed directly at me, instead at the ground under me. They relied on the explosion itself to do damage.

If Marlene started doing that, I’d be in trouble. Luckily, she kept shooting high as a result of me standing still and provoking her.

 

“Damn it, why…”

After several more misses, Marlene’s expression paled slightly as she was about to load the next bullet in.

Was she running out? Or was she worrying that she wouldn’t have enough to deal with the dragons if she used her gun any further?

I didn’t miss my chance. My hands pointed at her to squeeze.

“AAAAAAAAGGHH?!!”

Magical sparks flew all over her. A bunch of charms peeled off.

How many did she have? Fine then, I just needed to beat her up myself if I had to. As I stepped forward to approach her, Marlene aimed her magic gun, hesitated for an instant, then switched to casting a spell at me.

“—[Lightning]—!”

A bolt of lightning ran from the tip of her finger toward me in a straight line. I could feel that it wasn’t going to chase me, so I simply sidestepped it. I arrived at melee range just as Marlene, having not yet learned her lesson, once more pulled the trigger on her gun.

My right hand swatted the gun away, while my knee slammed into her stomach. She coughed painfully, blood spurting out of her mouth as she fell on her knees, her charms scattering from the impact. The gun was out of her hands.

 

And so it ended… but what do I do with her?

If I let her go and if the humans caught her, she’d probably be executed. But maybe I could use her magical defense against Fiorfata?

With the new idea in mind, I picked up one of the fallen charms, unwittingly Identifying it.

I could not believe my eyes.

“…YOU!”

I picked Marlene up by her neck. She yelped.

“What are you…”

[Scapegoat Talisman] [Defensive Item]
・A consumable item. Sealed within is a soul of a living being. Serves as a scapegoat to protect user from instant-kill attacks.
・Material: [Infant Elf]

“…and you call yourself human?!”

“B-because you… keep using your… weird tricks…” Marlene said, unrepentant even with her face bloodied, her words straining in agony.

“What are humans… what the hell is humanity?!”

I slammed her into the ground, eliciting a scream of pain from her, and once more brought her up by her neck.

“There was an old man over there who died protecting a demihuman kid! Even I knew humans can be so selfless! Yet there are humans killing their own kind, humans like you going around blaspheming the life of others without blinking an eye, all just for fame, for glory! WHY?!”

“…d-don’t care… not… my fault…”

“…right, I see.”

 

I smashed Marlene to the ground one more time. I searched her chest for that most powerful magic-stone bullet that she’d shown me, and I loaded it into the gun, trying to remember how she’d done it.

 

“O Mistress of Dark! The Unseelie Lorde cometh! We must depart, hurry!” The gold dragon warned me from the sky.

I looked toward Fiorfata’s direction, giving it a glare. I then turned to the dragons above me and called at them.

“Go ahead first! I’ll follow you right away after I get a hit in!”

“Art thou certain? It shan’t be simple.”

“I’ll be fine! Go!”

 

The five dragons hovered uncertainly, but they still slowly flew away in the end.

I picked Marlene up as the woman tried to crawl away. With the magic gun in hand, I flew toward Fiorfata.

“…w-what are you… going to do?”

“Making your death at least be useful.” I coldly replied.

Her face visibly paled.

 

I didn’t understand humans. It was like they had both an angel and a demon living inside their hearts.

But there was one thing I did know.

Humans were weak. They were overwhelmingly weak compared to other creatures. It was why they sought power in their fear. Their weakness was why they could be kind to others.

Humans must never gain power.

And I would remove those who had to keep it that way.

 

Fiorfata was showing up clearly in my view now. It didn’t seem to have lost much of its magic. Upon seeing me, it vibrated as if laughing. It greeted me with an extra-big magical blast.

I dodged it, grazing the projectile. It wiped out a whole forest and a human city upon impact.

It was taunting me, telling me to stop running, to face it head-on.

“Not yet. Wait a bit, and I’ll fight you seriously… here, something to tide you over.”

 

Marlene squeaked fearfully as she felt my rising magic power.

I used Causality Alteration to break open the talismans and free the souls trapped inside. Next, I turned the talismans’ residue and the bullets into magic power, then stuffed it into Marlene to turn the woman herself into a bomb.

“N-no, please…”

And with all my power, I used Dimensional Manipulation and Causality Alteration to throw the struggling woman at Fiorfata several kilometers away.

Marlene flew through the air like a bullet, screaming soundlessly all the while. The moment Fiorfata raised its hand toward her, I aimed and fired the magic gun, using Causality Alteration to make sure I hit the currently-very-volatile woman.

She detonated in an enormous explosion right next to Fiorfata. I was flung away even when I was already several kilometers from the blast.

 

Aaaah, damn it… I used too much magic.

I turned my eyes toward Fiorfata while my body continued to be tossed around in the air by the shockwave. It appeared from within the explosion unharmed… well, maybe a little harmed this time.

It resumed throwing magical blasts at me. Unable to dodge in mid-air, I took a defensive posture.

But right at that moment, a dragon, white as snow, caught me between their teeth. The beast immediately carried me away, flying as fast as they could.

 

“…you’re…”

“Do not overexert thyself, Mistress of Dark. I am the last of my brethren tasked with the mission to distract the Unseelie Lorde. Whilst thou hast been most reckless, I expect thy attack to have prompted the fiend to pursue only us for the nonce. I shall be thy wings henceforth. Thy battle continuest yet!”

“Yeah… let’s go!”


A/N: The Sage had exited the game.

Shedy has decided to take power away from the human race. Human military power is the deterrence that preserves the balance on Earth, but on Yggdrasia, Shedy’s existence itself serves the role.

As for the other Heroes… well, it depends on their actions from now on.


Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter

88 – Monsters

“D-DRAGONS!!!”

 

Dragons had always been a reclusive race, sequestering themselves in terra incognita regions of the world such as the Nidh mountain range, and only showing themselves in rare occasions. But now, they’d broken their seclusion in order to begin their campaign of assault upon the capital cities of human countries all over the world.

There had been dragon attacks in the past. To the human race, the proud, regal, and powerful dragons who only ever attacked alone had been a symbol of awe and fear. Regardless, the humans had continued to perfect their magical artillery, and soon they had gained the capability to repel dragons.

But on that day, for the first time, the dragons revealed their true power to the human race.

 

The dragons that had attacked human cities in the past had been around ten meters in length, capable of breathing fire, approximately ten thousand in combat power, and colored in green and dirt-brown.

But the dragons joining the campaign this time were covered in beautiful scales, as if they were clad in coats of shifting metals and gems: bronze and brass, silver and platinum, rubies and jades. They were much larger, some ranging from fifteen to twenty meters in length, and some were even releasing scorching lasers and bolts of lightning from their jaws as they streaked through the sky with tremendous speed.

Some among them even possessed twenty, nearly thirty thousand total combat power, equivalent to that of a Dark General. The humans trembled with fear as they realized that the dragons they’d fought until now had only been immature ones.

 

The large country Torbasept and the nearby two small countries on the northeastern small continent had fallen by the dragons. Two small countries on the Southern Continent, Rassept Kingdom and Sarkann, were also attacked by dragons, and while the two large countries deployed their armies, the demihuman resistance took the opportunity to attack and conquer the small country of Rutohl.

 

But the dragons hadn’t been the only monsters to have taken action.

 

The Dark General of the Northwestern Continent, the Orc King, and all thirty thousand of his subordinate orcs began to march, putting an end to their inactivity.

The Orc King had only stayed quiet until now due to the three nearby large countries that were keeping them in check: the Empire of Lansis, Tolldorre, and Luselle Kingdom. And if the orc army still decided to march regardless, the Sage at the City of Magic Quarancinq would arrive to deal with them immediately.

At the same time, it was noteworthy that the Orc King still survived despite being surrounded by such firepower. It wasn’t because the orcs were powerful, but rather, because of their prodigious number. It was nigh-impossible to wipe them out completely.

And there was another secret reason: Marlene the Sage wanted the glory to be hers alone. In every joint operations with other large countries, she had always been holding back her power to keep the orcs alive.

 

Trees cracked and crashed, giving way to waves and waves of orcs. The enormous forest trembled under their footsteps.

Orcs were humanoid monsters that resembled boars on two legs. A single, normal orc wasn’t much of a threat, with their combat power ranging from 300 to 700. Their evolution, the High Orcs, were only about 1500, while the leaders of orcish forces called Orc Generals were only around 3000 in combat power.

In a comparison of pure combat power with the other Dark General armies — a normal troll had about 500, while an ogre had 1000 — orcs were notably weak. Their strength instead lay in their reproductive ability and their incredibly robust digestion: they could turn almost everything other than minerals and metals into nutrition.

When an army marched, it would need vast amounts of food. With humans, the larger the army, the bigger their supply network would need to be to transport the necessary food, medicine, and other consumables, and the slower their marching speed would become.

The orcs, however, were even eating the trees they had felled, and any wild forest animals they caught would be consumed alive, bones and all. There was no drop in the army’s speed.

 

“MOOOO!!”

The enormous Orc King raised his battleaxe and roared a furious battlecry.

He, too, had realized the appearance of the Evil God on Yggdrasia. He had also felt the Will of the World Tree, telling him to liberate the Saplings, but he didn’t care as much about this world as his grudge against the human race.

 

Orcs were more than the people’s common perception of them. They weren’t just crude, savage monsters.

They were fertile because they were weak. They knew they were big eaters, and so they had learned to farm, to cultivate fields, even to raise large herbivorous animals as food.

But ever since the human race monopolized the World Saplings — monopolizing the boons that should have been equally bestowed upon all living beings of the world — the orcs’ lifestyle could no longer continue.

Humans stole mana from the Saplings, turning it into military power in order to drive all other races away from the Saplings. That alone hadn’t been enough to satisfy them; they had even begun to take anyone not of their race as their slaves, their livestock.

As the humans took mana from the Saplings, the life-force that nurtured the surrounding forests began to drain away. There had been many, many deaths among the population of the exiled races.

But things got even worse. In just a few decades, the humans had proven themselves even more fertile than the orcs, and they began to invade the orcs’ forests to massacre their inhabitants.

“The orcs threaten our new villages and towns.“

“We can use their skins as material and feed their meat to our cattles.”

“If we kill them, we would gain fame as adventurers.”

These were the reasons the humans used to continued their killing of orcs all over the world. In the end, the only large-scale orc settlement left was on this continent.

 

The Orc King would never, ever forget this grudge.

He had taken the appearance of the Evil God and the subsequent worldwide chaos to be an opportunity.

Just as he expected, his scouts had reported that the humans’ flying ships, the terrible machines that had stymied his many attempts to advance his armies, had left for somewhere far away. The Orc King immediately raised his army.

Luckily, there was none of the usual interference from the Heroine. The orcs hated her too, of course, but they detested the whole human race far more.

 

“The damn orcs are attacking?!”

Lansis’s emperor, an elderly man, was in the middle of a meeting to discuss the dark pixies. The shocking news jolted him out of his seat.

“Yes, sir! The western army had already moved out, but as we have confirmed the existence of the supposed Orc King, it is likely only a matter of time before they reach this capital…”

“What the fuck were the lookouts doing?! Damn it, call the battleships back! And where the hell is the Sage?”

Faced with the emperor’s terrifying visage, the reporting prime minister paled.

“We still can’t contact the fleet, likely due to the distance. Lady Marlene’s whereabouts is still unknown ever since the incident…”

“So that foxy bitch really did summon the Unseelie Lord then! Request aid from Tolldorre and Luselle Kingdom, now!”

 

Out of the ninety-nine countries of Yggdrasia, only two countries bore the title of ‘empire’: this Lansis Empire, and the Touze Empire of the Central Continent.

They both had an old history, being no more than a hundred years apart in age, yet Lansis Empire had always been seen as inferior to the Central Continent’s Touze Empire.

The twisted inferiority complex of Lansis’s emperor had been the reason why the country had proposed the plan to subjugate the Unseelie Lord to Tolldorre and Luselle Kingdom. They wanted to steal a march on everyone else.

And so, the flying battleship fleet that should have been used to deal with the Orc King was now deployed, together with the commander-in-chief of the military, to subjugate the Unseelie Lord. Only their knights and soldiers were left. Lansis’s military strength had practically been cut in half.

Lansis’s emperor gave the order to ‘request’ military aid from the other two large countries. Went unsaid was the understanding and the threat that if Lansis Empire fell, they would be the next.

 

As the two countries had also sent away their own battleships, they requisitioned civilian airships and the magitech train to deploy several tens of thousands of ‘reinforcement’ soldiers to Lansis Empire.

Despite the fact that both Tolldorre and Luselle had to deal with their own dark pixie incursions and consequently did not exactly have much leeway to help, they understood far too well the inevitability of their own ruin if Lansis Empire fell here. Thus, they were forced to send away most of their reserve force.

 

The orc army of thirty thousand faced the human alliance army of fifty-eight thousand.

At first glance, the humans were superior in number, if one ignored the fact that they needed three of their soldiers to only barely be able to deal with one single orc.

But the humans were still yet to lose hope. They weren’t defending a village or a small town with only a barrier; they still had the enormous walls of the capital to slow down the orcs’ march, and they had access to magic artillery and the unlimited mana of the Sapling to arm the weapons.

The advancing orc army was being bombarded. Dozens of orcs were blown to pieces with every single cannon shot.

The orcs’ strategy was a simple one: do everything they could to allow the King to tear open the barrier, so that they could rush inside. Luselle Kingdom’s army had arrived upon the beginning of the battle, as well as Tolldorre’s on the following day. It seemed victory was assured for the human side.

 

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!”

 

But the humans had not truly comprehended the fury of the orcs, the fury of those who’d had the Saplings’ blessings stolen from them.

The orcs still moved forward, consuming enemies to heal themselves and ignoring any remaining wounds. They marched fearlessly, recklessly. None stopped as long as they still drew breath.

The avalanche of orcs, and the enormous herbivorous beasts that they used as their steeds, stared death in the face as they slammed into the barrier.

Upon the overwhelming impact, several magitools sustaining the barrier shattered. The Orc King, himself bloodied by dozens of magical cannon shots, dealt the final blow to the barrier with his two-handed battle-axe Combat Art.

Roaring orcs flooded into the city. Most of the townspeople still hadn’t evacuated, and they were cut down mercilessly. Meanwhile, the Orc King led several of his Generals toward the palace.

 

The bombardment intensified. Generals after Generals fell. The near-death Orc King howled in mourning, and with the last of his strength, he reached the Sapling and smashed it apart.

The barrier vanished. A fire of unknown origin slowly began to spread through the palace. The Orc King collapsed to his knees, and he let loose a voiceless laugh.

 

Lansis Empire, the head of the Northwestern Continent alliance, fell, as well as a majority of the alliance’s military force together with it.

With the King gone, the sole surviving Orc General took up his mantle, inheriting the will of the old King to lead the orc army toward the weakened Luselle Kingdom.

 

***

 

“—[Nadir]—!”

 

Five thousand meters above the sky of the Southwestern Continent, two flying battleships belonging to the large country Soixansept Kingdom disintegrated within the space of extreme cold.

Once I eliminated their air force, two wind dragons clad in beautiful aquamarine scales soared forward. They slipped through the attacks coming from Soixansept’s capital to destroy the city’s barrier-sustaining facility.

“I’m going!”

I jumped off the gold dragon and dove straight toward the palace. I went through the roof and walls, freezing the knights in my way, and arrived at the Sapling. There were no soldiers there, only a white-bearded old man.

 

“…you’re the king here?”

“I am.” After a pause, the king continued. “Dark Lady Whitehare. Why are you disrupting the peace of the world? Is this not the time for all of us to stand together against the Unseelie Lord?”

“Then free the Saplings right now. It’s all because you humans are stealing the life of this world and the World Tree for your own purposes.”

“…what do you mean?”

“Mana isn’t infinite. The mana stored inside Saplings are the souls of living beings of this world. Figure out the rest yourself. I don’t have the time.”

“…I see.”

 

His shoulders slumped. As I walked past him, I could hear him whispering. ‘So the rumors were true…’ he muttered.

Perhaps one of the demihumans had revealed the truth. But the humans hadn’t believed it… or to be more precise, they didn’t want to admit it, fearing the wrath of their citizens who’d gotten used to luxury.

 

As I destroyed the Sapling and left the place behind, the icon notifying there was mail being sent from the World Tree appeared in my sight. I touched it, and white magic stones dropped into my hand.

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 42]
・The rabbit demon of Laplace. Trickster and guide of man’s fate.

[Magic Points: 113,000/148,000] 30,000↑
[Total Combat Power: 127,800/162,800] 33,000↑
[Unique Skill: <Causality Alteration> <Dimensional Manipulation> <Absorption> <Materialization>
[Racial Skill: <Fear> <Mist Form>]
[Simple Identification] [Human Form (Wonderful)] [Subspace Inventory]
[Dark Lady]

That was a lot… were there other people helping me besides the dragons or demihumans, then?

Just as I exited the palace and took a step toward the wind dragon who’d come to pick me up, I suddenly sensed an enormous surge of magic right at the dragon’s feet. It transformed into a huge explosion that blew away half the palace. I immediately used Causality Alteration and Absorption to lessen the impact, but I was still flung through the air.

As I got up from the wreckage, I saw the wind dragon already dead, body mangled and misshapen. A woman was trampling on the dragon. Her lips twisted in a deranged smile, and she pointed her staff at me.

 

“Dark Lady! I, Marlene the Heroine, shall be your death today!”


A/N: Map update.


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87 – Humans

“—Commence the purge—”

 

The airship fleet of the Lansis-Tolldorre-Luselle alliance had announced their intention to sterilize this whole dark-pixie-infested region to kill both Fiorfata and me. They began their bombardment at my and the Demon Lord’s locations.

 

“Guh…”

They appeared to be aware of my position the same way that Heroine once sent her subordinates to me so accurately. Several hundred cannon shots hit the castle, pulverizing it in a blink of an eye.

The explosive rain falling on the city was killing the dark pixies, certainly, but also dozens of times more of the townspeople who hadn’t managed to evacuate in time. Their screams of pain and hatred filled the air.

What were they thinking?

Were they trying to protect the world in their own way? But what need was there for a massacre, to kill even their own people who were only trying to escape?

“…what…?”

A sudden sense of vertigo overcame me, and I held my face with my right hand.

I was fighting to avenge my murdered comrades, and to save the world for the sake of my own savior, the World Tree. I would even take the lives of millions if they proved to be an obstacle.

Since when had I begun to lament the death of others?

It felt as if I had been in the presence of humans for far too long, and now my heart, that which I never had thought to have anything it holds dear, was throwing me an error.

This wasn’t supposed to happen… I’d promised the World Tree. I’d sworn that I’d protect this world.

I didn’t understand what was going on with myself… All I knew was…

 

“…this feels terrible…”

 

Through the gaps between my fingers, my gaze was fixed on the flying battleships. My eyes narrowed, the whites of them turning scarlet, and colors pulled away from my whole body to bleach me white.

 

One of the battleships flew toward me and began its bombardment.

My foothold crumbled. The building that had been barely holding together now collapsed, the rubble falling to bury me.

I immediately transformed into mist to slip through the debris and flew high up, then turned back to human. My hands clapped with force.

 

“—[Gospel]—”

 

My demon’s blessing ripped out the magical barrier protecting the flying battleship, wiping out most of the crew. The airship gradually dropped in altitude, finally crashing into the ground in a shattering impact.

As they saw their ally’s demise, several other flying battleships began heading towards me. Projectiles of fire and ice were flung from the magicians that had probably been stationed on board as anti-air.

I dodged them with a somersault in mid-air, blasting my cold mist at one of the approaching airships and freezing its external systems. It crashed after a slow descent.

 

Shooting them down with pure power was taking a lot of my magic. I couldn’t continue like this.

Deciding to board them and deal with the airships from the inside, I charged straight at one of the ships, flying through and taking hits from the magical scattershot they were firing at me. I landed on the deck, freezing the dozens of magicians there with my cold mist.

“No idea where the engine room is… but it looks like the bridge’s that way.”

Spear-wielding soldiers poured out the deck from inside the ship. They held out their weapons while looking awfully scared. They probably didn’t think I’d actually get on. I jumped above their heads and crashed through the bridge’s windows with a flying kick.

 

“T-the Dark Lady?!”

Inside were a crew member standing in front of a wooden wheel that looked like it was taken from a museum, as well as several navigators. A middle-aged man wearing an extravagant-looking uniform, probably the ship’s captain, gaped as he saw me entering through the windows. He shouted, enraged.

“Wretched rabbit! You dare to stand in front of our conquest?!”

Something was strange in his words.

“…what do you mean?” I asked, “didn’t you fire on the city to kill that thing and me?”

“Hah, isn’t it obvious? Once we’ve purified this land of your and the Unseelie Lord’s foulness, we, the Western Alliance, shall gain supremacy over the Central Continent!”

As the man continued his spittle-laden tirade, he unsheathed a rather garishly decorated sword hanging from his waist.

“You’ve made a mistake coming aboard my ship. No matter how skilled you are at magic, it won’t help you when you’re in reach of my sword! You’ll be a foothold to my own ascendancy, so DIE!!!”

“…ah, right.”

 

The man swung diagonally downward. I crouched to evade and swept my leg through his own. The black-scabbard sword once more appeared in my hand by itself, and I slammed it through the man’s shoulder to pin him to the ground.

 

“AAAAAAAHHH!”

“Shut up. If you want to save the world, then give the order to shoot the Unseelie Lord right now. I need to kill it too.”

“D-don’t bother tricking me, like hell I can believe the words of an animal!”

Right, so negotiations already broke down the moment I looked like a demihuman…

Then maybe I should just kill him and threaten his second-in-command. As I put more force on my grip of the sword, the skewered man laughed, his face beaded with cold sweat.

“Oh, you’re not going to get what you want. I’ve already announced your boarding to our fleet admiral, a general from Lansis Empire. The magical barrier from the other ships will be coming soon, and elite soldiers will be coming to save me! Your reign ends here, Dark Lady!”

 

The ship shook with an impact. Just as the man finished his words, I felt myself becoming slightly heavier.

From what I could sense, this barrier being created from the other ships wasn’t the type of barrier that was used to protect cities. It was the stronger type used to cover the palace of a capital.

Yet what came next hadn’t been the elite soldiers as the man had said, but an even more powerful impact. The ship listed. Someone who looked like a communication officer shouted, their report filled with panic as they fell halfway out of their seat.

 

“C-captain! The surrounding ships are firing on us!”

“WHAT?!”

The captain screamed and began turning hysterical. Had they intended for this to happen all along, or had it been a sudden change of plan?

“Sir Admiral! I’m still here! Baron Horae is still alive! Please stop the attack!”

The flying battleships’ salvoes of cannonfire sunk their target without giving a chance for any of its crew members to escape. I slipped out as mist just before the airship crashed into the ground and shattered.

 

“…so they’re going to be that ruthless, are they..”

 

Within the burning ruins of the former city, within the field of corpses of civilians who hadn’t managed to escape, I saw the old man who had been hostile to me when I first came here.

He didn’t get away, then… but for some reason, inside the arms of the old man was a canine beastman boy who looked like a slave, as if he had tried to protect the kid before both of them died.

Had he had a change of heart after I parted with him, I wondered?

I stepped on top of the city’s debris and looked up at the flying battleships.

They hadn’t deployed this fleet to save the world, but for the achievement of having saved the world. They’d done it because they wanted more influence than the Central Continent, and not only would they destroy their fellow human country for it, they wouldn’t even hesitate to sink the ship of their allies…

But at the same time, there were still people like the old man who’d tried to save a demihuman child even at the cost of his own life.

Was this what it meant to be ‘humans’…?

 

In the distance, I could see the flying battleships attacking Fiorfata being shot down one after another without dealing any decent damage to it. Even with so much firepower, the humans could still do nothing more than just delaying the Demon Lord for a moment.

Yet even when the fleet was being dismantled, the largest flying battleship on top of me was still aiming all its cannons at me.

Must be the admiral’s ship, right? Were they still thinking of killing me for their fame and glory even now?

 

But just as their cannons were ready to fire, a beam of light streaked through the sky to pierce through the admiral’s airship.

“What…?”

The shock rooted me to the spot for a moment. Far, far away, I could see the silhouettes of some sort of bird rapidly approaching.

“…dragons!”

 

The dots in my vision were getting bigger very, very quickly. Before long, over a dozen dragons of all colors arrived to burn down the flying battleships around me with their breath. Half of them then split off to head for Fiorfata.

From the remaining half came a gold-colored dragon that was visibly larger than the rest. It blew away the debris and landed, its golden reptilian eyes staring at me.

 

“So, thou art the Dark Mistress of the present. We have heard the Call of the World Tree. Ride upon my back.”

“Wha…”

“Hurry! My brethrens yet delayeth the Demon Lorde, but they shan’t hold for long!”

“Y-yeah.”

 

Swept along by the force of the golden dragon’s will, I jumped from the debris to their back. Massive wings spread out to bring us soaring into the sky.

“O’ Dark Mistress, whither be thy next destination?”

“South…”

“Hark, all! We are southbound!”

“W-wait!” I said, trying to assert myself as I returned to my senses, “I need to deal with Fiorfata…”

“I am aware. Upon the demise of all but one of mine own brethren hindering the Demon Lorde, it shall be lured to me.” The gold dragon said with a kindly voice.

“But then your comrades would—”

The gold dragon slightly shook their back, interrupting my insistence.

“Worry not. Until now, we have lived unconcerned with the mortal world, even when the human race attempted to take the Saplings for their own. And even if it leadeth to disaster, we, possessors of power supreme above any other, could not allow ourselves to wipe a single race out of existence.”

“But…”

“Hear me, youngling… Now, we limit ourselves no more. Through the wickedness of mankind of this world and the foreigners, a calamity hath come from the Netherworlde. Thou art still but a fledgling. We could not let thee bear the burden all by thyself.”

“…”

“O, Dark Mistress.”

The dragons flying behind us were now circling around me. The gold dragon gently spoke.

 

“The World Tree worrieth for thee. Thou art not alone.”

 

“…mm.”

I gave a small nod, nuzzling against the dragon’s back.

The scenery blazed past us. We crossed hundreds of kilometers of ocean in only a few dozens of minutes, and my next destination, the island country of Sanhuit, was coming into my view.

 

“Come! Give thine order as a Mistress of Dark!”

“…raze the palace, and liberate the World Sapling!”

“We hear and obey.”

 

The gold dragon roared. The six dragons behind us followed suit with their own howls in concert.

A dragon’s roar was said to break the minds of men, and theirs had driven the streets below us into full-blown hysteria. We arrived at the palace, turning it into ruins in an instant, and the World Tree once more sent a white magic stone into my hand.


A/N: In more conventional stories, the commoner protagonist would grow as a warrior and conquer their hesitation to kill. But in Shedy’s case, her growth happens in reverse. She’d become a demon in order to live exactly because she had nothing. After becoming a demon, as she continued to be in the company of others, she began to understand the heart of ‘humans’.


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