2 – The Sandbox

A/N: The first chapter I wrote turned out to be exactly 6666 Japanese characters.


Hello everyone. Fleurety here.

The fog upon my mind has cleared. I’m feeling great.

My lady’s brain still seems to be blue-screening. I give her a smile and walk over to stand beside her.

Not right next to her, of course. My place is one step behind her.

 

Then my lady finally reboots, jerking her head around at me like a broken phonograph.

 

“W-w-w-w-haaaat?!” At last, she blesses me with her adorable voice. “W-why did you, umm…”

“I am Fleurety, milady.”

“F-fuh… flur…etti…?”

“If you’re not used to it, feel free to call me ‘Letty’. Oh yes, which reminds me, I have not yet asked for your name. My apologies.”

“I am Sharon de… hold on, why are you standing next to me?! And what do you mean, your lady?!” Lady Sharon says, her hands flapping so much it looks like she’s doing sign language in fast-forward.

I give her a few gentle taps on the shoulder and a smile.

“Of course, that is because I’ve decided to serve you, lady Sharon. Or might you be dissatisfied with me, perhaps?” I reply.

“N-no, that’s not what I meant! I—”

 

“A moment, please, Sharon.”

 

And then some asshole decides to interrupt our heartwarming moment, right when I and my cute-as-a-button lady were in the middle of affirming our master-servant relationship.

“Sir Joel!” Lady Sharon says, turning around in surprise.

With his air of composure and striking looks that would probably make him quite attractive to a certain demographic, the guy looks like the quintessential fairy tale’s prince, even with the slight bit of confusion showing on his face at the moment.

Oh, right, I almost forgot. Judging from the architecture and clothing I see around me, this world’s probably somewhere around the Middle Ages, or maybe nearing the end of it. I also see light sources floating in the air that use no electricity, so I guess we’d been magically summoned.

“Excuse me, Sharon. Would you allow me a few moments to talk to her?”

“…yes, your highness.” Milady answers, looking strangely… meek? Her face now seems sort of stony-looking, and her voice sounds stiff. Does she not like this man?

This cannot stand. For milady Sharon, this lowly maid Fleurety shall send this brute away from the mortal coil… if not for the fact that she called him ‘your highness’. A wrong move here might just worsen milady’s standing.

“Miss, I would ask for your name.” He says, his question sounding more like a command. The guy’s obviously used to giving orders.

“Yes, milord, I am Fleurety.”

“My name is Joel, and I am the second prince of this country, Argrey Kingdom. Miss Fleurety… do you understand what is happening at the moment? Why have you decided to serve miss Sharon? You have been summoned here—”

 

“That’s right! There’s no way that halfwit girl could get a Partner first! There must be something wrong!”

 

So today is the day for interruptions, is it…

This time, the one who spoke up was a tall, brown-haired boy. Ignoring the fact that he has just insulted milady Sharon, just his frivolous-looking face alone is already criminal enough for a sentence of a million deaths. Sir Joel is a real prince in comparison.

“Karl, enough! You’re in the presence of his highness!”

One of the knightly-looking guys standing on guard scolds him.

“Be quiet, elder brother! In this academy, you’re just an imperial knight! You can’t tell me what to do!”

And now they’re getting into an argument.

What a pain… I’m not so good at remembering people’s faces and names, so having so many new characters showing up all at once is way more than my memory can handle.

“We’ll have her choose again after she gets a full explanation! Once she knows who that idiot girl is, there’s no way she’d choose someone so inferior!” Karl says, all the while ogling me from top to bottom without even trying to hide his gaze.

I must say, this doesn’t feel very comfortable. My mother had been pretty developed so I’d like to think I inherited a bit of that, but my body is not for your pleasure, Karl.

Beside, my own pair is just about average. I would have thought lady Sharon’s huge tracts of land would make the guys a lot happier, right?

Anyway, I have to say my lady’s bosom is truly amazing… not like I’d say it out loud, though.

“Milady, your breasts are breathtaking. May I touch them?”

“W-w-what are you talking about?!”

My, I accidentally let loose my true thoughts. Unbefitting of a maid indeed, but it can’t be helped. There’s no way anyone can possibly dislike a cute big-boobed girl, be they men or women.

 

“You shut up already!” The knight from earlier pinned Karl to the ground, eliciting a grunt from him. “Your highness, I must apologize for my brother’s discourtesy…”

“Pay it no mind. As Karl said, he and I are but classmates of the same year at the same school. He has not insulted me. Please let him go.” The prince says.

“…understood. My apologies to lady Sharon, as well.” The knight says, turning toward milady. And blinks his eyes several times as if not comprehending the sight before him.

No surprise there. He didn’t seem to have heard our talk, but he is seeing milady turning crimson-faced as she covered her chest with both hands.

Noticing something strange, lord Joel and several others turn puzzled eyes on us. In place of milady who’s looking seconds away from blowing her fuse, I pinch my skirt and smile, trying to pass the matter off as nothing important.

 

“…umm, excuse me!”

I hear a voice, somewhat nervous, coming from within the summoned (and subsequently ignored) classmates of mine. Sei is speaking with his hand raised.

“What will happen to us…?”

 

“””…ah.”””

 

***

 

After the summoned Earthborn students received a quick summary, they were guided into the academy’s guest rooms to rest. The detailed explanation would be done tomorrow.

The academy had prepared enough private rooms for all of them, but anxious as they were, many had asked to stay in groups of two or three people. Each group was now having whispered discussions of their own in their respective rooms, talking about the day’s events.

 

In a room for two, Fua was the first to speak.

“Hey, Ginko… what’s going to happen to us?”

“Yeah…” Ginko replied to her best friend half-heartedly. With what had happened, even the strong-willed girl was finding herself at a loss for words.

Is there a way to return to their old world? Would they be forced to live in this one? Would they ever see their parents again? What would their lives become?

In this world, fifteen was the age of majority, while the girls were only fourteen this year. Even here, they were still considered children.

Their anxiety felt crushing. In an attempt to look away, to not have to face their unease, both began to search for something to talk about. Anything at all.

“Umm… so, about Kamishiro-san. Has she always been like that?”

“…I dunno. We never talked much… she walked out so confidently back then. Alone. It’s like…”

Her personality’s switched completely, the two shared the thought. Bewildered as they were of Kamishiro’s actions, they still felt as though their worry had lightened, just a little bit, as they recalled the sight of their classmate.

“And also…”

“Yeah…”

 

“”Has that always been her given name?””

They spoke in a chorus, the same question passing through their minds at the same time.

 

Meanwhile, while many of the students were distressed, there were several girls who shared their anxiety only on the surface. Inside, they were shouting with joy.

These girls knew what this world was.

 

There was a certain otome game with the title The Lines of Light, Darkness, and Love.

The game was set in ‘The Sandbox World of Fanteria’, or to be more precise, the ‘Argrey Kingdom’ inside of it.

 

Ten years ago, this game was first released for household game consoles.

Despite the content being a typical otome romance game, it had enjoyed a period of popularity among gaming enthusiasts thanks to its extremely detailed setting and dialogue writing for its characters.

The game’s main character was an Explorer who would find her true love among the many, many ‘capture’ targets. At the end, she, together with her chosen lover, would create a new country of “Argrey”. The game was rather unusual due to having an element of city-building in its gameplay.

 

Three years after the first game, the second iteration, Light, Darkness, and Love 2 was released.

The developer was a no-name company, and the first game hadn’t been exactly a best-seller, so gamers were rather justifiably suspicious of the second title. But once more, the game made waves on the internet.

The second game’s story was set two hundred years after the birth of Argrey Kingdom, in the Magic Academy newly built in the capital city.

Similar to the first, the amount of possible dialogue were so numerous as to make walkthroughs useless. The game gained popularity for its high replay value, and different from its predecessor, it even had an element of country-management such as allowing the player to make changes in the school’s educational content or pass legislations. The game was such a mish-mash nobody knew what the target audience was.

 

And another three years afterward, the game Light, Darkness, and Love Online was released.

The second game had looked as though it took the budget of an AAA game to be made, but there hadn’t been any news about it selling particularly well. And yet, the third game seemed to have gone a step even further beyond. Rumors began to circulate on the internet that the games were being made as a hobby of some millionaire somewhere.

This time around, the game’s peculiarity was mentioned right in its title: it was an online game.

Like a certain hunting game, this game allowed people to join password-protected rooms to play in groups with a maximum of four people, and they could play as female protagonists in the same game world.

The game was set in the magic academy of Argrey Kingdom, another two hundred years after the setting of the last game. The player played as one of the summoned heroines, and their goal was to ‘capture’ one of the target male characters. Except for when playing with friends, there were cases where two or more people chased after the same target, which sometimes even led to flame wars on the internet. And with its inclusion of an element of action-RPG gameplay, the game was the very definition of chaos.

 

And then, at the end of last year, the fourth game, Light, Darkness, and Love Online 2 – The Millefeuille of Love, was released.

Once more, the game was so detailed people were outright making conspiracy theories now, about how the developer could afford making a game at such a scale when they had absolutely no other intellectual property to make money from.

The newest game was, once again, an online game, and this time it allowed over 10 people to play together at the same time.

The stage was set in the magic academy after another two hundred years had passed. A whole middle-school class with eight female students and eight male students, for a total of sixteen, was summoned to the academy. The player would either play as the first heroine, a daughter of a viscount, or choose from one of the sixteen students.

The first twist of this game was that the player could choose to play as one of the male students.

Perhaps the game had intended to attract more male players with this decision, but in case the player chose a male student, not only could they choose to seduce one of the villainous female characters, they could even go for the male characters (though the difficulty in this case was stupidly high). This had resulted in the game attracting a lot of girls and women who wanted to see sausages rubbing together.

Another twist was that the game was a 3D open world game, something very rarely seen in this genre. There was a character creation process for the player character too, and the students that would become NPCs would be randomly created from a pool of several thousand different appearances and personalities, and even they could be capture targets. The insane degree of freedom had induced many an exasperated laugh from the players.

 

The strangest thing about this series was that despite all the development cost, there had been no advertisement at all. The developer had also refused any and all reporters, from game magazines or otherwise. The series became legendary on the internet as memetic games that normal people would never know about.

 

And now, the middle-school girls who knew about the games had been summoned into exactly that world, just like how it had gone in the fictional story. They did notice that there were seventeen people summoned, different from the sixteen in the game, but their excitement had quickly overpowered their vague puzzlement, and they soon forgot about it.

 

There were five main capture targets, plus extras. (The age mentioned was the age they were at during the current school year).

 

Yuri de von Argrey, 19 years old. The Crown Prince of Argrey Kingdom.

Joel de von Argrey, 15 years old. The Second Prince of Argrey Kingdom.

Andy de Mercia, 24 years old. Son of a marquis. Commanding officer of the imperial knights.

Yohanne de Michel. 14 years old. Son of a marquis. Fourth-year student of the magic academy.

Eric Marsaw. 27 years old. A baronet. A teacher at the magic academy.

The extras were non-player characters that the player could talk to.

 

Serving as the villains were three noble girls, plus extras.

 

Emilia de von Argrey. 13 years old. The first princess of Argrey Kingdom.

Camilla de Reese. 20 years old. Daughter of a duke. Guest lecturer at the magic academy.

Sharon de Michel. 15 years old. Daughter of a marquis.

Other antagonists included some other player characters.

 

No matter who the player’s target was, the villain girls would always be heavily involved, making trouble for the player. As there was no precise route to follow, the players hated these villain girls.

 

The students who knew of this game world began to think.

Within one year, they had to find a Partner and ‘capture’ them.

But in case there was another Player Character beside them, then there was a risk that this other PC would be chasing after the same target as them, or making trouble for them.

That meant they must not let anyone else know that they were a PC. Information was the most powerful weapon here, and by hiding what they knew, they would also be keeping the other PCs in check.

 

Among the female students, the girl named Kamishiro had offered herself as a Partner candidate to Sharon, one of the villainesses. They suspected her to be a Player Character too, but to confirm it would require them to reveal their own knowledge. It was risky.

 

As they hid behind their smiles and their nervousness, the girls quietly sharpened their fangs. They were ready to put all they had into this, to hold nothing back.

So began a deadly game of romance.


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1 – The Summoning

T/N: No this isn’t more bunnygirl. This is another novel from Haru no Hi written about a year or two before that one, and this one has a much more direct connection with Akuma Koujo.


Inside a dilapidated castle was an old, dusty room, built out of stone and used for ritualistic purposes. A small magic circle was drawn on the floor, squiggly and deformed.

“Yes, I did it!”

It was the voice of a young girl. In this dwelling that looked as though it belonged to an evil witch of children’s fairy-tales, the girl seemed less an inhabitant and more a captive.

A child no more than five, she had silver hair and violet eyes, wearing a dress somewhat worn-out but distinctly of the noble caste. She beamed at the thing resembling a small slime that had appeared in the magic circle. Her hand stretched toward it as she spoke gently, adorably.

 

“Hey… I want to…”

 

***

 

Drip.

Drip.

Cold droplets of water wet my cheek, and I slowly, blearily open my eyes to an unfamiliar ceiling… just kidding, nothing so cliché, it’s just a cloudy sky instead.

Hold on… why am I sleeping here… ?

Had it been soft grass that I was feeling on my cheeks and my back, then it would have been possible that I’d accidentally dozed off from the comfortably wide-open outdoors. But as it is, I’m currently lying on something hard and uncomfortably angular. Considering the rusty bikes and refrigerators I see around me, this should be the illegal garbage dump near my school.

I remember now… I came here to clean up the trash as an extracurricular activity.

Looking from the school toward this direction, you’d see a cliff several meters high. And since there was a natural dip in the ground under it, people from nearby towns have been coming here to throw away their fridges and TVs. The unlawful dump had been a bit of a problem.

Really, what were they thinking…

And while I don’t exactly hold the school in high regards for making its students clean the mess up, I think even less of the more idiotic of the students who were only making things worse when they throw away their water bottles and convenience store lunchboxes. At this rate, this dump is never going to go away.

And those who contribute to the problem are also the same one who never help out with the cleaning. In the end, it’s only the serious students that get the short end of the stick.

…by the way… who am I?

 

“H-hey, isn’t this kinda bad…?”

“What the hell are you saying Denko, didn’t you agree to this?”

“B-but, I mean…”

“…d-did she die?”

“No way…”

“Hey… let’s get away already…”

“But our group’s gonna be suspected…”

“Then do you have an idea, huh?”

“Wasn’t it you who pushed her, Botan?!”

“B-but Hina-chan told me to do it too…”

 

Oh yeah… I think I remember a bit now.

I was pushed by the girls who are, even now, getting into a hullabaloo (do people still say that these days?) on the cliff.

They’re only speaking about how to protect themselves. I hear nothing about calling for the school nurse or an ambulance. None at all.

The cliff looks… about five meters high? If below me had been smaller pieces of trash, then maybe they could have acted as a mattress to cushion my fall. As it is, however, it was after our cleaning, and so the only garbage left were the large stuff that the students couldn’t deal with. Basically, I was pushed from a height equivalent to the second floor of a building onto a pile of metal, landing either on my head or my back.

Yup, that’s more than enough to kill.

If a person falls from high enough for them to do half a roll in the air, then it’s also a height very much lethal. I could have broken a bone even if I landed on my legs, and I could have been stabbed by a rusty, broken length of metal from a bike, too.

 

“Oh, it’s raining…”

“We really should go…”

“Come onnn, let’s get back to the classroom. I don’t think anyone’s gonna come looking in the rain.”

“…but what if they find her?”

“W-we’ll just tell them we only poked her a bit and she fell all on her own! It’s an accident!”

 

“…are you leaving?”

*kracka-thoooom!*

 

“””AAAAAAAAAHHH?!”””

 

Ominous lightning struck at just the right moment, and the three girls screamed in chorus. They screamed because of the thunder, obviously, and not because I’d talked to them after I got up and climbed the cliff. Who would scream when their classmate was just asking them a question? That’s just rude.

 

“K-Kamishiro-san?!”

Oh yeah… that’s my name… isn’t it? My family name, anyway.

 

The three girls who pushed me are now staring at me with a bit of guilt, a bit of relief… and a lot of fear.

“…w-why…”

“W-weren’t you dead…?”

“The blood…”

“It’s… it’s not my fault!”

“NOOOOOO!”

 

“Hey, wait—” I say, but they’re already tripping over themselves in fright as they run toward the school.

“Come on…” I mutter, exasperated.

They acted as though I should have died. Such rude people.

The drizzle turns into outright rain, the beads of water soaking my hair heavily. I absentmindedly bring a hand to my head and notice a strangely thick wetness on my finger that isn’t water. A closer look reveals that my hair is matted with an amount of blood in far excess of a scratch.

Ahh, I see. No wonder. Normal middle-school girls are totally gonna be terrified by this.

 

The sky rapidly darkens. The rain is a downpour now, the water beating on the schoolground to turn dry dirt into darkened mud in short order.

I’m soaked anyway, so I just use the rain as an impromptu shower to wash out the blood, then head toward the girls’ locker room to get my change of clothes.

I enter the school building, ignoring my indoor shoes — as dirty as I am, changing shoes would just be a waste of time anyway — and go right for the sophomore locker room.

I don’t meet anyone on the way. The juniors and seniors are probably still in their classes.

Luckily, I’m wearing my PE jersey for the extracurricular cleaning. If I had been cleaning with my uniform, I’d have to go home wearing this eye-searingly red jersey.

There’s nobody else in the locker room beside me. I take out a small key from my pocket.

…my memories are getting clearer now.

I open the correct locker, my locker, without having to think twice. It’s not like it’s difficult. Mine is the only one as dirty as it is.

I suppose those three girls might have done it because I erased their scribbles from my locker. It’s amazing, in a way, how they could be so childish.

I take out the towel from my locker, undo the long braid that comes to my chest, and thoroughly wipe off the moisture from my hair.

 

“…why’d I keep this?”

My front bangs go down to my nose like a black curtain.

…oh, yes, “I” kept this so long because “I” used to not want to let other people see my eyes.

When my hair was dry, my bangs only went down to my eyes, so it hadn’t bothered me that much. As I am now, though, it just feels really irritating.

I take a look around. As luck would have it, there’s a sewing kit somebody left behind, and I find what I’m looking for inside. Small, but serviceable.

 

Snip.

 

Locks of hair fall to the floor.

As amateurish as I am, getting my front bangs straight was the best I could do, but I still looks a lot better than the walking curtain that I used to be.

Now that that’s done, I’ll have to change… luckily, my underwear’s still dry.

I quickly change into my blazer uniform (it’s a public middle school’s uniform, and there isn’t much about it you can describe as “cute”), then take a look at myself in the full-length mirror placed against one of the walls.

 

“Oh… so that’s what my face look like…”

 

The lights suddenly buzz and begin to flicker, covering me in bouts of alternating light and darkness.

In the mirror, I see a girl with glossy black hair and dark-red eyes. She looks like an unfeeling doll, with all the things that were keeping her on the right side of the uncanny valley stripped out.

Might have sounded like I was describing someone else, but yes, that’s me.

 

*CRACK-krrrr…”

Another flash of lightning, followed by rumbling thunder. The lighting gives out completely. In the pitch-black darkness, a pair of crimson eyes flicker as though candlelights.

 

***

 

The town was neither an urban city, nor was it in the countryside. It neighbored a government-designated city and was also adjacent to a national highway, but at the same time, it was why the town was only a place for people to pass by and rarely go into.

The town had no lack of households, though the vast majority of them were old families. There were barely any young people. All the children of age within thirty-minutes walking distance from the public middle school didn’t even take up more than one class for each grade.

 

“…teacher’s late. And we just have homeroom left, too.”

Ginko, the class vice-president, a girl with an assertive streak that showed in her appearance, grumbled.

“I think she’s dragging out the staff meeting again…” Fua, a timid-looking glasses-wearing girl, answered.

Ginko thought of their homeroom teacher, an old maid with so much enthusiasm in making her students do “voluntary service” that she half suspected the woman to be involved in some sort of shady religion, and she nodded, convinced by Fua’s words. Ginko then released a small sigh.

Nevertheless, she understood why the woman was giving them the work. It was this class.

Sophomore year, Class 1 — there was just one class anyway, so it wasn’t like the numbering meant anything — but the point was, the class only had seventeen students who were all in their second year, and yet there was still a distinct lack of unity.

The eight male students weren’t the problem. They fit together well enough.

Part of it was because most of the boys were quiet, but mainly it was thanks to Sei and Hao, two good-looking students who acted as the leaders to bring them together (despite their somewhat strange names — “saintly garment” and “feathery king”, respectively).

On the other hand, it was exactly the two’s handsomeness that broke apart the nine female students.

 

Three of the girls were actively chasing after the two boys and sabotaging each other.

Another three were watchers, who mainly involved themselves in malicious gossip and bullying as an outlet for their frustration.

Ginko and Fua, who tried to stay away from the mess, unwilling to be involved in the drama.

And finally, a girl shunned by all the other girls.

 

At first glance, the female students seemed harmonious enough. The grade only had the seventeen students, plus there was no other class to change to, so the group was “tight-knit”, so to speak. Now, most of the class just called everyone else by their first names, no matter if they were a boy or a girl.

The only exception was the ignored girl.

 

When they had been in their first year, Ginko and her friend had thought to bring the lonely-looking girl into their group. But before they could, the two aforementioned boys had approached her, either out of kindness or a sense of duty, and it had been the beginning of her misfortune. Aside from Ginko and Fua, all the other girls began to pretend she didn’t exist.

Even Ginko didn’t think the situation was anywhere close to being good, for sure, but if she had gone ahead with her original plan, the two boys would make things complicated with their own unwanted actions.

It was another one-and-a-half year until graduation, give or take a few weeks. The undeniable fact was that she didn’t want to rock the boat, to have to spend that much time in a class split into two warring sides when there were no other classes to change to.

 

“…it’s kinda quiet today.” Fua said.

“It is.” Ginko replied, turning a quick glance around the class.

Everyone had already changed out of their jerseys back into their uniforms, except for the three bully girls. They kept whispering to each other, looking scared.

That reminds her, where was that girl…? She was the only one to not be back yet.

‘…and what was her first name again…?’

 

*CRACK-grrrr…* 

“Kya!” “Waah!” “Eep!”

A bolt of lightning struck, this time quite a lot closer to the school, and the lights shut off. Several students screamed.

The rain intensified, beating down on the building. The sky grew darker and darker. Somebody gulped, and silence descended in the room.

 

“My, what’s wrong?”

 

The voice of a girl softly rang from the classroom entrance, triggering another chorus of screams. Since when had the doors been open?

 

“…K-Kamishiro-…san?” Sei, one of the aforementioned boys, whispered raspily. The confusion in his voice was shared by everyone else in the room.

The girl, Kamishiro, had been the target of bullying due to her mixed heritage, being half-Japanese and half-Turkish. It showed in the lines of her face, the color of her eyes… and children were creatures that could so easily reject those different from themselves, even if no one would bat an eye at her once she grew up.

The girl had been the quiet type in the first place. Early on in her life, she had realized herself to be different from those around her, and soon afterward she began to keep her head down, hiding her face.

But now, she wasn’t doing that anymore. Now, she carried a completely different air, a cheerfully intimidating smile on her face.

As though she had died and been reborn…

 

*CRACK-grrrrTHOOOM!!*

 

Blinding lightning and deafening thunder drowned out the students’ screams. The glass windows shattered, and the classroom was flooded with light.

The students continued their screams of terror and shock except for a single girl, the girl named Kamishiro, who showed a look of surprise on her face for a single moment. Afterward, she smiled and slowly closed her eyes in realization and acceptance.

 

***

 

“Success!”

“Yes, we did it!”

“EEEEeee that’s awesome! They’re humans!”

 

A chorus of cheers mixed with relief came from the students of the magical academy as boys and girls appeared from the enormous summoning circle.

For many students at the academy, it was the fifth and final school year, the year when they would turn fifteen. The noble children with strong magic among them would summon intelligent creatures from another dimension to contract them as servants called “Partners”.

While the summoning was a part of the curriculum, to the students with strong enough magic to handle spellcasting, the Partners that they summoned themselves would be their proof of graduation from being magicians to become ‘magi’. And among nobles, being a magus was a certain kind of prestige.

 

There were many, many dimensions of all kinds to summon from.

There had been summonings of dragons, lunar wolves, or other such mythical beasts with both power and intelligence; and there had also been summonings of elves, dwarves, and other such Demihumans that didn’t exist in this world.

And they were still the safer results. Depending on the school year, there were also cases of monsters such as ogres and trolls being summoned, and it had been the reason for the tense atmosphere and subsequent palpable relief among the students.

Now, the relief of the magi-in-training were turning into loud and excited cheers. After all, the summoning this time had given them humans, life-forms of the same appearance as them.

 

Unconfirmed information had it that human-inhabited worlds were dimensionally far apart, and so summoned humans were rare. Furthermore, summoned humans often gained powerful magic, and legends had it that they only showed up every several centuries.

 

“…phew.”

In this year’s summoning, the students with powerful magic numbered seventeen.

Among them was a severe-looking girl with silver hair and violet eyes named Sharon. She rubbed her fingers, trying to relax from the white-knuckled grip she had on her staff, and she breathed a sigh, expression still tense.

Looks like I managed somehow… she thought.

Sharon wasn’t very good in her magic control. If the summoning had failed here, she might just become the target of blame from everyone else. As the daughter of a marquis, she couldn’t afford to invite any further disgrace.

 

The cheers gradually died down as the academy students remembered what they had to do next, and the tense nervousness returned.

The “Servant Contract” mentioned earlier was a ritual with quite a few similarities to the “Slave Brand” curse, and by law, it was only allowed to be used on dangerous subjects such as criminals or monsters.

But the summoning of intelligent creatures would have abruptly ripped them away from their normal lives. Rarely were they friendly.

They might be fearful due to the change. They might wail in grief. Or they might even forget themselves in rage and attempt to bring harm upon the summoners.

It was why the tense atmosphere wasn’t limited to the students alone. Even the knights standing by, those who had been deployed by the kingdom to protect the young sons and daughters of high nobility, were waiting with bated breath.

To the noble students who had summoned members of a sapient species, those to whom the Servant Contract wouldn’t be allowed, not being chosen would be considered a shameful stain on their records.

As nobility, they needed to be able to display their worth to the summoned, to convince them to become their Partner and servant, and they had one year until graduation to do it. After that year had passed, the Partner candidates would be employed by the country. Those who hadn’t been chosen would never again have the chance to gain a Partner.

 

The results of the summoning this year were children the same age as the summoners. They were seemingly of the same ethnic group, judging from the black hair they all shared.

The sudden summoning had made them fearful and heavily confused. There was even a girl among them who looked as though she was about to cry at the drop of a hat, and a few among the student summoners hesitated to speak up, feeling somewhat guilty.

The first to speak would make an impression, but also risked being the target of the summoned people’s grudges. Who would take the role?

The air was charged with tension as the students’ mind whirred with thoughts on how to best approach the situation and how to obstruct their rivals. Meanwhile, Sharon took deep breaths, trying to calm her thundering heart, and she began to search among the summoned humans, seeing if any would deign to serve someone like her.

The laws only allowed one to summon intelligent creatures from another world once, no more. The reason was because supposedly, the first time was the only time a Soulbond could be established, and the Partner who had chosen and been chosen by a summoner at that time would empower their master to their maximum potential.

And the more powerful the Soulbond the summoner had, the more likely they would be chosen.

But Sharon felt nothing but unease with the knowledge

‘…what do I do if no one chooses me…’

 

Sharon had made a mistake in her younger days. A mistake that made this summoning no longer her first.

 

As tension mounted, Joel, one of the students and the second prince of the kingdom, decided to become an example for his subjects. But just as he was about to put his feet forward, one girl walked out from the group of summoned people, her steps calm and composed.

 

The noble students gulped, drawn by her presence, by her exotic beauty that could only be born from a confluence of bloodlines, from a meeting of different cultures. They lost themselves in her hair, a gleaming black of obsidian; her skin, fair and delicate as velvet; and her eyes, a mesmerizing shade of vermillion that spoke of the powerful will behind them.

 

As everyone continued to be captivated by her beauty, the beauty of a doll, she walked onward, unmolested even by the knights that were supposed to be protecting the academy students. She headed right for the second prince Joel… and quietly passed him by, instead stopping in front of Sharon who was standing in the back of the crowd. She daintily pinched her skirt and gave a curtsey, one practiced and full of elegance.

 

“Greetings, my lady. I shall be in your service. Please, call me ‘Fleurety’.”

 

In the year 893 of the kingdom’s calendar, the month of Firstfall, thus began the story of a single clumsy villainess and a maid who came from another world.


| Index | Next Chapter

100 – Final Chapter – The Wish

A certain nation of Earth had, by sheer happenstance, discovered a new planet. An extraplanar one. They had then begun to plan an invasion to this new world for its resources.

Especially for the unknown new form of clean energy called ‘mana’. Seeing the potential military applications, the government, as well as the defense industry, had ‘recruited’ unaware people to gather mana as players in an MMORPG game, as well as one hundred children as live testers for a military experiment.

All of them were orphans, and all possessed some form of special ability.

Through studying their powers, fields of science and medicine entered an unprecedented golden age. But once the children were no longer useful, the corporation deemed them ‘disposable pawns’, and used them as such in an attempt to develop mana-using weaponry.

 

However, the plan had been forcefully brought to a stop by a single girl, the final and only survivor of the experiment. Multiple research centers of the corporation and the accompanying research data had been destroyed. Even the army of the nation that boasted the most powerful military in the world had also suffered heavy losses.

The only facility to have escaped destruction was the game department, which had been left alone as her eyes to monitor the situation of Earth. Otherwise, facilities with either the equipment to connect to the new world or to collect mana, as well as the knowledge about the technology itself, had all been thoroughly wiped out. Now, even if they could revive the plan and keep it hidden, it would still take them at least decades to get back to the stage of practical applications.

Furthermore, those involved in the plan now feared the shadow of The Girl of White. The very idea of resuming the plan already terrified them.

 

Yet there were those who hadn’t known that fear. There were those who were unaware of The Girl of White that had returned to this world.

No matter how much they’d tried to control the information, the more people involved, the more chances it had of leaking. Secrets had a tendency to percolate, like water through stone.

They had been doing their utmost to defend themselves from foreign espionage. Industrial spies and similar infiltrators snooping around had been a constant threat, but the intelligence departments of the corporation and the military had always been prompt in their countermeasures. As such, there had been no major problems.

But the destruction of the chain of command by the girl of white had become a vulnerability to be taken advantage of by the foreign agents.

And today was the day a certain militaristic nation in the Orient began their first connection test to ‘The New World of Yggdrasia’. This achievement had been built from the information they had stolen, as well as the cooperation of the researchers they had bought off.

 

“Begin operation test.”

 

This nation sold a lot of cheap electronics as one of its main industries, and by hiding tiny organic chips inside their products, they’d learned of the secret of the new world that a certain Occidental country had been hiding.

Year by year, they’d slowly gained more and more of the related information and technology by bribing researchers and high-ranking government workers, and a few months ago, they’d finally succeeded in acquiring a researcher possessing critical knowledge of the technology.

Yet the equipment they’d developed were still several generations behind, as shown by their need of a facility so enormous it took up a whole baseball field. Perhaps the researcher they’d bought off hadn’t been that involved in the really important research.

If one of the main researchers of the Western corporation was here to see this facility and the equipment it contained, they would have thought it would be several decades more before the Eastern people could even begin sending avatars to the new world and gather mana.

But the Eastern country’s leader and higher-ups coming to observe the operation test hadn’t known that. They were only imagining the bright future waiting for them ahead with grins on their faces.

“So this will allow us to send more of our citizens…”

They had been making use of their overwhelming population to execute a policy not unlike a human wave attack, sending their people as immigrants to other countries and using them to take control of the country from within. However, these last few decades had seen fewer and fewer countries willing to take immigrants, and their overcrowding population was growing out of their control. They needed to find a new land to be their citizens’ destination.

None of them had been aware that they wouldn’t be able to send live people to Yggdrasia, much less that the atmosphere itself wasn’t even breathable to Earth humans.

They believed that their problem would be solved as long as they could send their people. They had proceeded with their plan upon that assumption, and finally, they began their operation test to connect to the new land today.

 

The enormous screen started to show images, albeit still blurry, of a gigantic tree that pierced the sky.

The room was astir with astonished exclamations. “…the World Tree…” whispered one of the governmental higher-ups. All were beaming, certain that this sight would soon belong to them.

But then, the scenery on the other side of the screen was suddenly fogged in white, as though covered by a mist.

 

“…what… is that…?”

 

And then the screen showed a life-sized silhouette of a girl with drooping long ears that looked like they belonged to a rabbit. A crimson crescent of a smile abruptly appeared where her mouth would be.

A white finger poked out of the screen. Somebody squeaked in fear.

Next came a pair of deadly sharp pin-heels, red as blood. Scarlet eyes, snow-white hair, and long rabbit ears poking out from her locks. The rabbit girl looked about mid-way through her teens, and she wore a crimson dress reminiscent of a tailcoat.

The girl of white gave a faint smirk, her gaze frosty. The researchers and engineers around her were frozen, spellbound expressions etched on their faces, and they crumbled into snowy powder.

 

Screams rang out the next moment, mixed with shouts of the soldiers.

“FIRE!”

There were enough bullets to pulverize the enormous screen behind the girl, but she stood unharmed. The girl of white gently spread wide her arms and clasped her hands before her chest as though in prayer.

 

“—[Nadir Beyond]—”

 

The next instant, all was white ice.

People, machines, grass, even the ground — flesh and iron froze all the same. The largest military compound of the country, together with many, many soldiers and high-ranking officials, were within the freezing sphere of dozens of kilometers in radius. All vanished as dust.

 

.The moment had been captured in real-time by the eyes of multiple military satellites.

But the instant the image of a girl standing in a desolate, white-colored crater appeared on-screen, her head turned to look at the satellites’ cameras. The last thing the satellites saw was her smile as she touched her index finger to her mouth. The very next moment, all the military satellites in orbit ceased operation, terrifying the operators affiliated with the armed forces.

 

***

 

Yggdrasia, the new world. A world held up by the World Tree and ninety-nine Saplings. A world slowly on the path toward ruination due to the human race monopolizing the World Tree’s boons, as well as the nations of Earth seeking to steal the unknown form of energy called ‘mana’.

 

Yet Yggdrasia’s fated end had been averted upon the appearance of the Girl of White, that small girl who had been called a ‘demon’, who had suffered from the cruelty of others. In time, she had walked through the door of godhood, and it had been by her hands that the Evil God summoned to this world by the sins of mankind was repelled. The path toward apocalypse had been closed shut.

The battle between the goddess and the demon had been truly fierce, and it had left behind a severe wound to the planet. But the reborn World Tree Saplings had healed the scarred lands, bringing new life to the world once more.

 

The human race that had monopolized the Saplings, those who had built their prosperity on the suffering of other life, had rapidly declined upon losing their blessing.

They had been dragged into the worldwide conflict, losing their barriers and their protection from monsters, and so it was no surprise that many lives had been lost. And with how dependent they had been on the Saplings’ blessings, many more would.

Still, it hadn’t been enough to make up for the crimes the human race had committed. Many demihumans and sapient life still bore a grudge against the humans. In a way, the humans’ true ordeal was only just beginning.

Nevertheless, their experience of this disaster had taught many among the humans to realize their sins.

These people had then gathered under the leadership of Tischlar, the former emperor of Touze Empire, and the Warrior Hero named Gold. They searched for the path of survival together with, and helped by, the elven and beastman people.

 

“So this is where you are, sir Tischlar.”

“Sir Gold…”

 

The two men said no more, standing in silence to watch over the town being restored.

Even if the settlement could be repaired, there was no longer any barrier protecting the people from monsters, and neither did they have the magic to power all the magitools of convenience that they once had. People once more survived by burning firewood for warmth and for cooking food.

On the other hand, it was fortunate that they still have a place to return to. Gold’s hometown, the desert country, was no longer an environment to live in. The overuse of magic had turned the land into a lifeless desert, and it would be centuries before people could make it their home again.

At the moment, the revived Saplings were beginning to regulate the environment once more, although now they no longer focused their blessings only on their surroundings, instead spreading it to the whole planet.

The people had been lucky to have survived, and many of them knew it.

That was to say, however, that some still didn’t.

Humans were weak. It had been the reason why the other races had allowed the humans to leech off the World Tree.

Among those who had gotten used to their former life of abundance, there were surely some who still hadn’t learned their lesson, who were thinking of taking the Saplings’ magic even now.

And perhaps it would be the demihumans this time, of which some had already turned the tables on the humans and had become oppressors themselves. Perhaps one day, they would be the ones to desire the Saplings. If it happened, it would be a true war between all the races, one that would spell doom for this world.

But Tischlar and Gold knew that such a future would never come.

Their eyes were drawn toward the new temple that had been erected in the reviving town. People were praying, wishing that they would never see war again. They prayed in front of the statue of the Girl of White.

As long as the new Goddess born of this world still existed, they were sure that such a future would never be.

 

“As long as Shedy’s here…”

“Indeed. She would never allow it.”

 

Men would always desire. But the new Goddess of this world would surely not forgive fools.

 

“Sirs, the conference is soon to commence,” said a voice behind them. Tischlar and Gold turned around.

It was the elven princess and her brother, the prince. Near them were demihumans that seemed to be their bodyguards: Selille, the former leader of the rural resistance, and Isaac, the young man who had introduced himself as her adjutant.

 

A connection from Yggdrasia to Earth still remained. A small group of players were continuing to log in even now.

The MMORPG game World of Yggdrasia had had their ties to the defense industry cut completely, and the scale of the game had been dramatically reduced.

The country never wanted to let go of their access to the new world, of course. Regardless, the development team, which had since gone independent from the corporation, continued to maintain the game. Their expenses were paid with donations from those who knew the truth, and a neutral observing organization to watch for invasion attempts from both sides had been established.

The game was now completely pay-to-play with a service fee, no longer freely opening its doors to anyone as it had before. Nonetheless, the more respectable players such as Sandrea and Weed continued to enter the game, helping to keep the peace for the locals by hunting savage, unintelligent monsters.

As the representative for the players who knew the truth, Isaac had come to this town together with Selille.

 

On their way to the joint human-demihuman conference, Tischlar spoke.

“Which reminds me, sir Isaac. You have gone to inspect the countryside, if I’m not mistaken. Has peace still not yet return?”

Isaac smiled as he replied.

“There hadn’t been any conflict between demihumans and humans. The region had calmed down, relatively. There’s been rumors of a swordsman going around subjugating dangerous monsters with a horde of women behind him… would you happen to know who he is?”

“No?” Tischlar said, tilting his head in puzzlement.

Walking behind him, Gold wryly smiled in remembrance.

 

*

 

Upon defeating Fiorfata, I returned to my home. The World Tree.

“I’m back…”

The World Tree replied with a gentle shake of its vast canopy, welcoming me back.

The World Tree. The one single green giant that held up this whole world. I squinted, looking through the swaying leaves and the rays of dappled sunlight that danced as though a kaleidoscope, and I gently took a seat on the immense root.

 

I had been an unwanted child.

Born with my albinic looks and the power to bring misfortune to others, I was shunned by my own birth parents, scorned as the “demon child”, and thrown away as they told me they “never wanted me”.

I had wanted to be irreplaceable to someone. I had wanted a place where I belonged, a place just for me.

But nobody looked at me.

I never knew how to communicate with others.

That corporation only ever wanted me for my power. It was why once they finished analyzing it, they could so easily throw me away and into another world as a disposable pawn.

Even when I became a demon, even when I became a Dark Lady, the demihumans only wanted me for the power I could wield.

I knew nothing of people’s feelings.

I had only ever known humans as creatures that did nothing but bring suffering to others. But slowly, as my opportunities to talk with them became more and more frequent, I’d learned that it hadn’t been all that they were.

All the same… the only one who would hold me dear, who would protect me, was you alone.

 

*boing.*

“Ook.”

“Yes, yes, you too.”

Blobsy and Panda leaped into my chest as soon as they returned. I kissed them, lightly and full of gratitude, and I gently brushed the white sword faintly trembling on my hips.

 

The only ones I could trust in this world were Blobsy, Panda, Palesnow, the secret alpha testers… and you

“…the World Tree…”

With my kins in my arms, I closed my eyes, surrendering myself to the world.

I’ll protect Yggdrasia.

Now that I’d become the goddess of this world, I would protect you, forever.

 

Embraced by the World Tree, I dreamed.

I saw humans aware of their crimes, sweating as they fixed up the streets with their own hands.

I saw demihumans handing out bread to human refugees, even when their own grudges were still yet to clear.

I saw monsters trying to protect the Saplings, trying to keep history from repeating.

I saw the secret alpha testers smiling as they greeted me in my dream. They took my hand, pulling me into their circle.

 

—thank you—

—you’ve worked so hard—

—rest—

—and let’s play when you wake up—

—we’re here—

—we’ll always be here—

—welcome home—

 

My eyes turned watery.

 

“…I’m home.”

 

I had been an unwanted child, a ‘demon’, and now, with my transformation into a goddess of this new world…

 

…finally, my wish, the wish I’d had for years, had been granted.

I had a true family. I had a true home.


Author’s Note: Apotheosis of a Demon — a Monster Evolution Story ends here. Thank you for following me all this time.

I wrote this in a bit of a hurry, though, so there might be some fixing later on.

 

This story is about a girl who’d lost everything and her journey to find a true family and a home to return to. I might have gotten distracted a few times, but I think the story pretty much went how I planned it to.

A lot of my stories are comedies, so this one might have been a bit unexpected to some, but a departure could be interesting once in a while, right?

While this is the end of the main story, I’m also thinking a bit about writing an after-story kind of thing.

 

Well then, let us meet again in the other stories that I am and will be writing, too. And if it’s not too much to ask, I hope to see your comments and rating.


Previous Chapter | Index | Extra Chapter (release TBD)

99 – The Final Battle

“—Load—”

 

I activated the four evolved abilities I had — Causality Alteration, Dimensional Manipulation, Consumption, The Divine Language — in parallel, and my magic power surged. Demonic power covered my right hand in a glove of faintly-red flower petals, while divine power covered my left hand in another one of the same, only azure-colored.

 

“――̴̨∋̕∮̕͝͞‡̴∩∝̡͢‡͘͏―̛―̸”

 

In response, Fiorfata released its own outpouring of magic from its whole body. Our powers clashed, sending the earth and the skies of the Central Continent trembling.

 

“Hah!” I shouted, dashing as I tore through the air, rolling forward during my charge to bring my heel down on Fiorfata. It snapped its long, withered arm like a whip in defense, vibrating its wings just a fraction to repel me with a shockwave.

Firebloom!”

Mist flowed from my left hand. As the white petals touched Fiorfata’s miasma, they blackened and burst into flames.

Yet the blast was still not yet entirely nullified, flinging us away from each other once again. Fiorfata released beams of light from its right arm, and I answered by thrusting out my own.

Rimeblossom!”

The blizzard coming from my right hand clashed against Fiorfata’s lasers.

Its magic power was converted into icy petals as its lasers seared away my magic power. The collision resulted in an explosion that reverberated all across the Central Continent. The shockwave tore trees off the ground, enormous trunks tumbling in the air as though they were nothing more than leaves. Hills were grated away and the land flattened.

We slammed into each other once more, ignoring the damage we had taken. Fiorfata’s fist hit my stomach while my kick crashed into its face.

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Joker]
[Magic Points: 453,000/500,000
[Total Combat Power: 503,000/550,000
[Unseelie LordFiorfata] [Race: Dark Pixie] [Demon Lord]
[Magic Points: 431,000/600,000]
[Total Combat Power: 501,000/670,000]

Fiorfata had answered my provocation. It hadn’t tried to attack anything else to recover its magic, instead agreeing to fight me head-on.

Was it the pride it had as a pinnacle being? Or was the cruelty of demons spurring it on?

As a demon, I’d always thought my aspect was ‘ruthlessness’, and now, I could feel that I’d gained the aspect of ‘rationality’ as a goddess.

Our combat power were about the same. Yet I was taking slightly, but distinctly, more damage that Fiorfata was, perhaps due to its superior experience in being a pinnacle of demons.

Which was why I knew that to have a chance of winning, I had to fight with an actual plan. I had to be as ruthless as demons and as rational as machines.

Fiorfata once more split its face apart in a smile. Had it noticed my determination, I wonder?

…fine then, Fiorfata, let’s get to it!

 

“—[Nadir Beyond]—”

I clapped my hands as though praying, teleporting a freezing mass of space to cover Fiorfata whole in an instant, engulfing it in white frost.

 

“―̡―͘∋̨̛͜∮◆̨̢͘―͠―̧͘”

 

Fiorfata shook it off with brute magic force and countered with lasers, but I was no longer there. I was already charging forward the moment I made my attack. The multiple beams of light changed their directions to chase me.

I dodged, grazing them, and got into melee range with Fiorfata. I used [The Divine Language] to create a five-meter chain of cold iron, throwing one end like a whip to wrap around Fiorfata’s left arm.

“Well then, let’s see who last longer.”

“◆̢l̨ơ͘̕☆n̶̵͟‡g̸͜◇̴̢e̕͢r̴̀?̸̸”

I pulled my left arm wrapped with the other end of the chain and slammed my right fist, wreathed in magic, into Fiorfata. It answered in kind and swung its right arm, which I blocked with my left.

Our attacks blew us away from each other, but the chain held us back.

Fiorfata immediately tried to cut the chain. I ran reinforcing magic power through it and while Fiorfata was distracted, I whipped a kick toward its head with all my strength.

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Joker]
[Magic Points: 442,000/500,000
[Total Combat Power: 492,000/550,000
[Unseelie LordFiorfata] [Race: Dark Pixie] [Demon Lord]
[Magic Points: 418,000/600,000]
[Total Combat Power: 488,000/670,000]

As I expected, I had a much better chance when it was a melee fight. If my guess was correct… then Fiorfata was only making do with the experience it had gathered during its long, long life, and that it hadn’t had much experience in close combat itself due to being originally a dark pixie.

Cold iron could suppress evil, and could be strengthened due to its high affinity with magic power. I wasn’t good enough with the material to make a weapon, of course, but I could make a very tough chain.

 

“HAAAH!”

I unleashed the whole of my magic to swing the chain and Fiorfata with it, slamming and burying the Demon Lord into the ground. It pulled at the chain to bring me close and released a blast from beneath the earth.

The ground exploded. I was blown into the sky, and the taut chain brought Fiorfata with me.

The next moment, both of us pulled at the chain, flinging us together. Once we were so close our hands could touch, Fiorfata released beams of light at point-blank range.

Rimeblossom!”

I didn’t care about offsetting its attack. The blizzard released from my right hand was purely to whittle Fiorfata down.

Two immense sources of magic power clashed with barely any distance between them. The violent explosion cut into both our magic reserves. For an instant, I took a defensive stance to minimize the damage—

“Wha-?!”

—but Fiorfata took the opportunity to pull at the chain to throw me away, taking me by surprise.

Fiorfata followed, connected by our binding. It snapped its long arm at me like a whip while I was still unbalanced. I strengthened the cold iron chain as much as I could and held it up to block. The impact rang in my ears.

I followed through, wrapping the chain around Fiorfata’s neck, pulling its face to meet my knee.

“―̀―̴‡̵̷̀◇͞――́?͘҉”

The impact cracked its head. It tilted its head just a fraction.

Too bad for you, Fiorfata…

“Looks like I’m better at fighting dirty!”

Once more, I jerked the chain back and slammed my elbow into its face, creating another crack. Yet even fractured as it was, its head once more split open in a smile.

It headbutted me in my face.

“Oof!”

I held back my reflex to bring my hand to my nose, instead swiping at Fiorfata with a kick. Both of us crashed into the ocean surface at such speed it felt like solid ground, the water erupting violently. I idly wondered how long ago we’d left land.

We were sinking deeper and deeper. This was bad. Underwater was bad. I couldn’t turn into mist to dodge with water around me.

But just as I struggled to rise from the water, I heard a heavy crash. Something had just chomped at Fiorfata underwater.

“GRAAAAAAGH!!!”

A sea dragon?! There were still monsters trying to help me!

Get away! I shouted, but underwater, all that came out were bubbles. The sea dragon broke the sea surface, dragging the chain — and me with it — out of the water.

Fiorfata struck, and everything above the neck of the sea dragon just vanished. Some of the splattering blood hit me.

I slammed both my hands at Fiorfata in anger, using Rimeblossom and Firebloom at the same time.

Crack! The fractures on its face widened. The cold iron chain was torn apart, the stress finally too much for it, and Fiorfata was flung away.

 

“…̸…́͢‡◆̢́∮͘◆̶∋ヾ̡͏̸∬́†̷―̨―́́͡?͠”

We floated above the waters, once more facing each other from a distance. Fiorfata stared at the torn chain in apparent puzzlement. Then it smirked, an enormous amount of magic power suddenly surging from it.

“――͜∬̷͜ヾ̵́‡͡͡͞―̧͟―̷̶̵ńu͟͟i̸͟͡s̀͡͠a͏̷͜n̷̛c̛͠͏e͟͝――̵͞͡”

 

Crap!!

 

Thousands upon thousands of beams of light shot out from Fiorfata’s whole body to pierce into the sea dragons that had been lurking beneath the ocean, waiting for their chance.

For the first time, the sounds coming out of Fiorfata weren’t the bizarre noise it had been releasing, but instead a recognizable word in the common language of Yggdrasia.

We had been completely ignoring our defense in our brawl, and both of our magic reserves had gone down quite a bit. But Fiorfata still chose to remove everything that could disturb us first, so that it could put a decisive end to our battle.

With most of the larger creatures under the sea eliminated, Fiorfata now turned its lasers toward land.

 

“—[Nadir Beyond]—!!”

A glacial cold covered Fiorfata. It didn’t take more than a few moments for it to be dispelled, however, and Fiorfata once more cracked open its head in a smile and resumed attacking the continent.

All the dragons that I could see, waiting for their opportunities as the sea dragons had, were being shot down, their wings full of holes. They fell to the ocean.

This was really bad. This was exactly what I had been trying to prevent by keeping its focus on me, but Fiorfata finally realized this whole world was against it.

 

Even if I had arrived at Fiorfata’s level, I had only just evolved. I didn’t have the experience. I had no way to prevent the Demon Lord’s wide-range attacks, nor a method of assault powerful enough to stop it.

I stared at my hands.

The right hand of demons, and the left hand of gods. A while ago, using both of them at the same time had allowed me to deal quite a bit of damage to Fiorfata.

But… should I use it?

It had been more powerful than I expected, that was true. But it had also been more unstable, more than what I thought I could control.

The demon inside me was whispering to me, telling me that if I did it right, I had a chance to win. But the goddess inside of me disagreed, telling me that in the worst case scenario, I could inflict a serious wound to this world.

But I couldn’t do nothing. At this rate, this world would—

 

—believe—

 

A voice interrupted my thoughts, covering me with its warmth. My hesitation and worries melted away.

It wasn’t the voice of the secret alpha testers. It was…

 

“—Load—”

Once more, I activated all my abilities and charged up my power.

Yes… I’ll believe. I’ll believe in this world, and I’ll believe in you, its protector.

Through the World Tree, I saw flashes of images from throughout the world. Everyone was looking at the sky, offering their prayers for their home to be saved.

 

As Fiorfata continued its onslaught, I poured all the magic I could into my hands and charged at the Demon Lord.

A demonic frost erupted from my right hand, and a divine flame burned on my left. They crackled in contact with each other, but I forced them together, weaving them into a single mass. My hands touched as though praying to the sky.

 

“FIORFATA!!!”

 

Upon my shout, its beams of light converged upon me.

I charged forward anyway even as the lasers threatened to burn holes through me, slamming the volatile demonic-divine mixture of power into its face, putting all my weight behind the blow.

Both my arms shattered under the overwhelming force.

At the same time, a large crack formed on Fiorfata’s head, which then soon expanded to cover its whole body in a spiderweb of fractures. The Demon Lord began to crumble from its extremities.

But it wasn’t enough. Fiorfata still lived.

The light of magic shone from its arms. As soon as I saw it, rather than using my divine power or my demonic curses, I was already stretching out my fractured hand into my inventory in a reflexive return to what I was most used to: fighting with weapons.

Space clattered and shivered. I took out a sword and threw it with all my strength, shouting in pure effort.

“HAAAH!!!”

 

Tiz’s enchanted sword struck Fiorfata’s magic in a flurry of sparks and shattered into pieces. The magic that the Demon Lord had been charging was scattered, glittering in the air together with the fragments of the blade. I hid behind the dazzling sparkles, squeezing out what strength I had left to draw the black-scabbard sword on my hip.

The blade tore through space, absorbing my now-godly magic power, Fiorfata’s own scattered magic, and even the flying fragments of Tiz’s magic sword to evolve, transforming into a slim longsword of pure white. Its name, the name of the sword that was my kin, rose unbidden in my mind.

 

Palesnow.

 

The blade cut into Fiorfata’s crack-filled face and became a channel for me to slam my demonic and divine magic power into the Demon Lord.

 

Fiorfata’s head shattered as my magic power erupted from all the fractures on its body. As the Demon Lord crumbled, it chuckled, whispering to me its final words.

 

“.̢́͘.̶̢.̛͟w̨o̷̡n̵̕d͏è̸͠ŕf͝͏͞u̷̡҉l͘..͝.̢́͟”

 

The Demon Lord’s body collapsed into particles of black light, and they too soon vanished.

Goodbye, Fiorfata… if you hadn’t agreed to face me head-on, I would have lost by now.

 

I raised my right hand to the sky to absorb all the miasma that Fiorfata had left behind. Then I pointed my left hand toward the ground, sharing power to the lands wounded in our battle.

My mist covered the world. The life-giving mist healed the wounded earth and creatures, and from the scorched dirt, the ninety-nine young seedlings of the World Tree rapidly shot up to maturity to heal the world.

Even a goddess’ power couldn’t revive the dead. But it could allow new, strong life to be born into this world.

 

And so it was that my battle with Fiorfata came to its end. The world was saved.

I, the girl who was once called a ‘demon child’ that brought misfortune to everyone else, had become a goddess, protector of a new world.


Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter

98 – Gods and Demons

Tiz stood in the castle’s courtyard. He whispered, staring at the remains of the destroyed Sapling.

“…Shedy?”

Shedy had used the magic sword to cut down the final Sapling, taking something from within the vanishing light into her hand. Then she disappeared into the cocoon of light.

She wasn’t gone. She was there. He could feel the enormous weight of her magic power, the presence of a true Dark Lady, still there.

But she wasn’t moving.

She was frozen as though a victim to her own power, as though her snow-white form had meant something far more literal.

As worries gnawed on Tiz’s mind, he, together with everyone else still staying behind in Touze Empire, all shivered as they suddenly felt a malevolent presence outside the city.

 

“…the Unseelie Lord…”

 

Fiorfata, the Unseelie Lord. A pinnacle of demons, a terrible being worthy of the name Evil God, summoned by mad humans. It wielded enough power to swat down the prided battleships of humans as though they were nothing but flies, and to bring cities and countries to ruin with a flick of its hand.

It was the face of the sins of the human race, the sins of mankind.

The humans had claimed the World Tree, what should have been the very lifeline of the world, as their own; had brought suffering to so many lives; had set the world onto the path of ruination. And now their sins had manifested themselves in the worst way possible, to enact indiscriminate retribution upon the whole world.

Despite how irresponsible it might sound, this was no longer a matter that humans could solve. And even if they had the power to, in all likelihood they would have used it only for themselves.

They had done it for their citizens. For mankind to prosper. And it might have even been necessary to some degree, but to the world of Yggdrasia, it was nothing more than a sin.

This was what Tiz had realized. It was the reason while despite being the emperor, he had abandoned the very keystone of his country that was the Sapling, gambling everything on the only one with a chance to win against this apocalypse: Shedy.

 

The Evil God Fiorfata silently floated above the city.

It didn’t need to do anything. Just the sight of it had sent people shivering, and those unfortunate enough to be showered in its overflowing, malevolent miasma soon decomposed, even as they stayed conscious through it all.

Fiorfata pointed its featureless face toward the white cocoon of light.

 

“――̀͟͠∴̀͞͡≠̸̡∬̧͢†̨‡∝̶͞∮̛̀―̵―̸”

 

A vast amount of magic power gathered at Fiorfata’s fingertips. Nearly a hundred beams of light shot toward the castle, centering on Shedy.

Just as Tiz readied himself for his impending death, he sensed a powerful surge of magic from behind him, from the light that had been the remnants of the Sapling. And he finally heard the voice he had been waiting for.

 

“—Bend—”

 

Upon the voice, enormous crystallized snowflakes appeared, each around a meter in diameter, and they instantly dispersed to cover the castle. They reflected Fiorfata’s beams of light away and into the sky.

Then they shattered. The fragments glittered in the light of the scattering lasers, turning into white, powdery snow that danced as they descended. And just as the first specks touched the ground, the cocoon of light slowly gave form to a person.

 

The girl of white stood there, with skin and hair of snow. Her eyes gently opened to reveal a vivid scarlet.

A pair of fluffy rabbit eyes draped on her lustrous, somewhat-messy locks of hair. When she had looked about fourteen before, now she had grown to fifteen, perhaps sixteen, the childishness fading from her features. The survivors of Touze all released an unwitting sigh as they saw her.

Her scarlet dress, modeled after a bunny girl outfit, had had some changes. Her bunched-up skirt had unraveled to resemble a tailcoat, with the long-extending hem wrapping around her legs. Depending on the angle, it almost looked like a gown.

 

Powerful magic surged from the white girl — from Shedy, the magic different from what she had before. The skies trembled in front of her.

From above, Fiorfata showed a fissure of a smile as it looked upon the birth of a new God-class. It pointed toward her and toward the city stretching below it, and it released an enormous magical blast.

Facing the approaching sphere of magic that was dozens of meters across, Shedy silently raised a finger of her left hand toward the sky.

 

“—Firebloom—”

 

With the power of The Divine Language — the evolution of Materialization — a glove, resembling azure flower petals, appeared to cover her left hand from the wrist.

A pure white mist burst from her left hand. As the mist touched upon the foulness, it transformed into black petals as though absorbing the malevolence and erupted in blazing flames.

The white mist purified, sealing and burning the wickedness. It clashed against Fiorfata’s magic power, and the two opposing forces sputtered and died out.

 

Space twisted, and a vast swath of the sky shuddered. Shedy suddenly flew out from the haze toward Fiorfata from the front, and a kick struck it in the back.

Fiorfata instantly reacted to the spatial reversal, blocking Shedy’s kick with its own arm. The two’s magic power clashed in flickering sparks of lightning.

Both were blown away several hundred meters from the impact, but Shedy had rolled with knees hugged to reduce the force. She forced herself to a stop in the air and pointed her right hand toward Fiorfata.

 

“—Rimeblossom—”

 

Her right hand was covered by a white glove glowing faintly red, and from it came a raging blizzard that shone with a similar shade. All the miasma in its way were transformed into petals of ice, and the storm lunged toward Fiorfata.

 

“‡̵∴̸*͟∋͟͠**̢͜†̢”

 

Fiorfata released a sound that sounded half-singing, half-laughing. Its wings flapped at blurring speed, and it released a wide-ranging magical blast to blow away Shedy’s curse, that which turned everything it touched into icy petals.

 

Her left hand was the merciful hand of a goddess. From it came a mist to heal all living beings and to turn all evil into flower petals that burned in eternal purgatory, burning until they were no more.

Her right hand was the ruinous hand of a demon. From it came a blizzard to bestow a peaceful death to the sinless and to turn the wicked into flower petals that froze, annihilating them to their very souls.

The left hand of gods, and the right hand of demons.

The flames of mercy that burned all into nothingness, and the blizzard of destruction that brought death equally to all.

The power of gods, and the power of demons.

Gods purified one’s sins by granting never-ending suffering, while demons cared nothing for purification, only granting equal destruction to all.

 

An artificial goddess faced a demon of the Netherworld. The clash of two absolute powers had cleared away the clouds of the whole Central Continent, and once more, they took to the skies of Yggdrasia to resume their battle.

 

*

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Joker]
・Dea Ex Machina. An artificial goddess born in cyberspace. Possesses the right hand of a Demon to destroy all, and the left hand of a Goddess to save all.

[Magic Points: 489,000/500,000
[Total Combat Power: 539,000/550,000
[Unique Skill: <Causality Alteration> <Dimensional Manipulation> <Consumption> <The Divine Language>
[Racial Skill: <Fear> <Mist Form>]
[Simple Identification] [Deity Form (Lovely)] [Subspace Inventory]
[Overlord]
[Goddess from the Machine]
[Unseelie LordFiorfata] [Race: Dark Pixie] [Demon Lord]
・One of the seven Demon Lords ruling Netherworld. A god of the Netherworld.

[Magic Points: 445,000/600,000]
[Total Combat Power: 515,000/670,000]

Under the cloudless sky of Yggdrasia, we faced each other with nearly a hundred meters between us.

With my evolution, I finally gained power equivalent to Fiorfata.

…and as traditional whenever this happened, another one of my abilities evolved weird

…so anyway, I got the evolution for my final ability. I’d arrived at the same plane of existence as Fiorfata, and I had gained the power to defeat it.

But… without Blobsy and Panda, without the dragons’ sacrifices, without the many, many monsters and demihumans, and without the help of some humans to grind down Fiorfata’s magic power, I couldn’t have stood in front of it as I was now.

 

I had evolved. I was a Joker. I was the final and the greatest trump card.

I was both a deity and a demon, a man-made goddess born from the world of cyberspace.

I was dea ex machina.

My new power had been granted to me by the secret alpha testers… no, not just them, but by the whole world of Yggdrasia.

 

All the same, even if we were now on a level playing field, I still only just evolved. I didn’t know how much of my power I could use. Still…

 

“Fiorfata. Ready yourself.”

 

I wouldn’t let it recover any more magic. I would end this, here and now!


Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter

97 – The Final Evolution

Everywhere I looked, I saw only white, except for the girl holding my hand. She told me she was number 99, and that she had been waiting with “everyone else”.

“Where is this…? And what do you mean, ‘everyone’…”

 

—we are inside of the World Tree. Open your eyes. Open up your heart… if you’re scared, just a little bit is enough… don’t worry. All of us are on your side—

 

Deep inside me, I knew she was speaking the truth. So she must have known, too, that I still could not trust, still could not let anyone into my heart.

But… even when I knew she was truthful, my door had been shut ever since I was born. I no longer knew how to open it.

 

—don’t worry—

 

Someone touched my shoulder. I turned around to see that it was a boy who looked about the same as the age of my current appearance. He was looking at me kindly.

Was he… number 01?

And it wasn’t just him. An Asian boy about ten years old and a slightly-older black boy were holding my hand in encouragement.

Number 17…? Number 08… ?

Their thoughts poured into me from their magic stones that I’d taken into myself, and my sight expanded as the world was painted over.

 

The ground was thick with green foliage as far as I could see, dotted with beams of dappled sunlight that had found their way through the green canopy covering the whole sky. Above the labyrinthine and enormous branches of the World Tree were many, many children. They all greeted me with a smile.

The secret alpha testers… the ninety-nine orphans who had died to the corporation’s betrayal…

There were kids from ten to fifteen years old, both boys and girls, of all nationalities and races. I only barely managed to recognize where they had been from by looking at the traditional clothing that they wore.

 

—thank you—

—thank you—

—thank you—

—number 13… you have saved us—

—you have saved—

—you have saved our souls—

 

The secret alpha testers spoke with gentle voices, full of warmth.

I see… so what I’d done hadn’t been for nothing, then. I did it… I actually saved them.

I closed my eyes, immersing myself in the warmth of their gratitude, the warmth of the sunlight.

The sun then darkened for a fraction.

 

—sorry—

—sorry—

—sorry—

—we’d let you be in pain alone—

—we’d forced our burden on you—

—we’d made you bear the resentment, the hatred, all by yourself—

 

“That’s not true!”

I was just trying to survive. I’d even told myself it had been for you, when all I was doing was justifying my vengeance.

“I… I don’t deserve your apologies…” I said, biting my lips.

The girl of number ninety-nine gently shook her head.

 

—we were the same—

—it hurt. It was unbearable. It was terrible—

—we died, bearing dark hatred for the world, cursing it—

 

As the other children followed up with their own words, the sun once more darkened.

But then… the light slowly returned together with its warmth. The ninety-nine secret alpha testers gathered around me, touching my hands one after another.

 

—but we were saved—

—you have freed us from our hatred—

—you have taken us away—

—from the darkness—

—so now—

 

Their voices joined together as one.

 

—it is our turn to save you—

—take it. Take our final power—

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 100]
・The demon of Laplace. One who had ascended beyond an Archdemon.

[Magic Points: 338,000/338,000] 3,000 ↑
[Total Combat Power: 371,800/371,800] 3,300 ↑
[Unique Skill: <Causality Alteration> <Dimensional Manipulation> <Consumption> <Materialization>
[Racial Skill: <Fear> <Mist Form>]
[Simple Identification] [Human Form (Wonderful)] [Subspace Inventory]
[Dark Lady] 
[Final Evolution Available]

***

My vision blanked out. Once I could see again, the World Tree and the secret alpha testers were already gone, leaving me once again in a world of white.

It wasn’t the blind whiteness as before. Instead, everywhere I looked, I saw geometric shapes and lines with the same basic white tone, as though I was inside the world of cyberspace. So I wasn’t inside the World Tree, then. This must be my own personal mindscape.

 

“…final evolution…”

It was the last bit of power given to me from all the secret alpha testers. This was probably where my final evolution would happen, then, and the reason why it looked like cyberspace was probably because I was an artificial demon, and the evolution process had based itself on that same artificial system.

Evolve.

I focused on my decision. Boxes of text appeared, floating in the air to my left and right.

[Demon Lord]
・The pinnacle of demons, a ruler of the Netherworld. The diametrical opposition of gods. The granter of the fruit of wisdom to mankind, and the devourer of their ripened civilization.
[Beast]
・The pinnacle of demons, one who takes the shape of an animal. Savage and cruel. A predator and a destroyer, eternally seeking conflicts.
[Devil]
・The pinnacle of demons, the traveler of dimensions. One who gorges on souls of humans, who understands and charms the hearts of humans, who grants otherworldly knowledge on a whim.

These boxes were filled with red text and were on my right. Next were the blue-colored boxes on my left.

[Draconic God]
・A supreme creature, one who has lived through an eternity to acquire a spiritual body. Possesses great wisdom and force of will, as well as immense power.
[Minor God]
・An intelligent creature who had reached the threshold of godhood. The protector of life, and the ruler of the cycle of reincarnation. Rarely is there a natural Minor God, as most manifest by stealing power from another god. Called a [Goddess] when female.
[True God]
・A Major God born from the minds of intelligent beings. A true god, one created solely for the sake of those who are both their creators and their worshippers. Possesses no physical form. Power drastically fluctuates depending on worshippers.

“Umm…”

On the right side were demons, and the left were… gods? So I could evolve into these?

I was honestly surprised becoming a god was even a choice for me. I guessed I had the secret alpha testers to thank for that.

But could I win against Fiorfata as a god?

Among the choices was a Demon Lord, the same as Fiorfata, and the explanation mentioned being diametrically opposed to gods. If Demon Lords were godkillers, then I didn’t think becoming a Minor God would be much of an improvement from what I was already. Draconic Gods had the same problem.

True Gods were born from the thoughts of their worshippers, so I might not be able to keep myself as me if I chose that.

If I wanted power to fight Fiorfata, then perhaps I should choose to become the same Demon Lord as it was. Being a Beast or Devil might be good too, though I felt like a Demon Lord was the most balanced in terms of offense and defense.

Artificial or not, I had been evolving as a demon in the first place. I should be able to get used to the new power right away if I continued that line of evolution.

But I’d already made my choice. Not out of these six.

I chose the seventh option hidden among the others.

 

I had been a human who had no understanding of humans. I had only gained my insight into the hearts of others after discarding my humanity. From my wavering heart came a fragment of itself…

I took it. I grasped the white box of text hiding itself right in front of my eyes.

 

Then the white space that was my mindscape shattered. A vast world stretched out in front of me as I looked down on Yggdrasia, my new home.

I will protect this world. I will protect it for you.

 

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Joker]
・Dea Ex Machina. An artificial goddess born in cyberspace. Possesses the right hand of a Demon to destroy all, and the left hand of a Goddess to save all.

[Magic Points: 500,000/500,000] 162,000 ↑
[Total Combat Power: 550,000/550,000] 178,200 ↑
[Unique Skill: <Causality Alteration> <Dimensional Manipulation> <Consumption> <The Divine Language>
[Racial Skill: <Fear> <Mist Form>]
[Simple Identification] [Deity Form (Lovely)] [Subspace Inventory]
[Overlord]
[Goddess from the Machine]

Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter

96 – The Last Magic Stone

“Old man… how many countries have agreed by now?”

“I would say about half.”

“Damn it, half of them still believe they can win even now…?”

“Most of the small countries have joined in. I believe the large countries with powerful militaries would be more stubborn, however.”

“Well, ours is as well, isn’t it? Anyway, you’re certain the hardliners in the army haven’t found out about this?”

“I… would not say they absolutely haven’t, though I do believe they are currently much too occupied for that.”

“At any rate, we don’t have much time. Continue with the plan.”

“Understood.”

The presence of a person vanished from the hidden room. The man remaining behind leaned deeply back on his chair. He sighed, whispering a name.

“…Shedy.”

 

***

 

I’d entered the Central Continent. I continued on my route to destroy the Saplings starting from the north, all the while dodging Fiorfata’s attacks.

 

“―́́͠―∴̀́͟≠∬̶͢†̡͟‡∝͟∮̢͡―̡―̧”

 

Fiorfata’s magic surged, and the night sky fell. The wide-ranging meteor shower tore apart the forests and the geography.

“—[Absolute Nadir]—!”

My mist of extreme cold froze the scattering earth and trees. Then Fiorfata just swatted it aside.

“Gah!”

Our powers clashed. I crossed my arms to protect myself from the shockwave several kilometers away that was racing toward me.

I took damage, but not as much as before. With Absorption evolving to become Consumption, I could now convert even a portion of the damage into magic power and take it in myself, giving me more power to fight.

The small country Dixseld was virtually empty of people by now, and I freed its Sapling. Then I headed toward my next target, Quinze Kingdom. It was the large country that had been sending its battleships at me multiple times, and perhaps that had been the reason why it no longer had any firepower to resist. The whole capital city of Quinze disintegrated as it got swallowed up in my battle.

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 70]
[Magic Points: 218,000/232,000] 12,000 ↑
[Total Combat Power: 241,200/255,200] 13,200 ↑

And then, in my expanded perception, I felt several flying battleships.

…four of them? Judging from the direction they were coming from, they must belong to Vingtuit and Battrol, the two countries that had also attacked me multiple times as Quinze had.

The humans were still thinking they could do something even now, were they…

Iron bolts were fired from the ballistae set up on the ships’ decks. They didn’t do anything to Fiorfata, of course, but they were also no longer effective against me as I was now.

Fiorfata ignored the battleships to continue attacking me. I did the same, putting the ballistae and magical artillery out of my mind to focus on my dogfight, dodging only Fiorfata’s attacks. One of its stray projectiles downed a battleship.

The humans’ military was nothing but a hindrance now.

“Leave!!” I shouted at them, pouring magic power into my voice. The remaining battleships abruptly stopped moving. One of them then charged forward at full speed, as though they’d lost their calm.

I was sure they must have their own reasons to fight, even if they fought only for the sake of the human race and no one else. A ballista bolt grazed me to fly toward Fiorfata, directly hitting its head by sheer coincidence.

Such feeble physical attacks weren’t even capable of scratching it, of course, but the fact remained that Fiorfata had been hit by humans. It had been hit by puny humans.

Its blank face slowly turned toward the ship.

“‡҉̶͜∴҉͞*͢∋͜͜◇̷̨∮!̡”

 

Hundreds of beams of light gathered together and with a wave of Fiorfata’s hand, they tore into Mount Leonard and its summit.

“Oof!”

I barely managed to dodge. The battleships weren’t so lucky; they took a direct hit, the lasers slicing all of them into ribbons.

But the lasers hadn’t stopped there. Fiorfata swung them horizontally, the beams of light extending far past what I could see to cut into the land thousands of kilometers away, and the Demon Lord continued moving its arm until it began to point south. The lasers touched the barrier of the World Tree that I could faintly see far off in the distance, sparking an enormous explosion upon contact.

My mind blanked out for a moment upon the sight.

 

“NOOOO!!!”

 

I tore open a hole in space and teleported to throw a punch into Fiorfata’s face. The direct clash between two sources of magic power blew away the dust and clouds for dozens of kilometers.

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 73]
[Magic Points: 233,000/241,000] 9,000 ↑
[Total Combat Power: 257,100/265,100] 9,900 ↑
[Unseelie LordFiorfata] [Race: Dark Pixie] [Demon Lord]
・One of the seven Demon Lords ruling Netherworld. A god of the Netherworld.

[Magic Points: 475,000/600,000]
[Total Combat Power: 545,000/670,000]

We stared at each other with only meters between us. There was a crack, albeit faint, on Fiorfata’s face for the first time. It grinned, its mouth opening like a fissure, as though it was delighted of the battle.

But it hadn’t been an equal trade. To deal just that little bit of damage to Fiorfata’s face, my right arm was crushed in exchange, turning grey as the curse spread through it.

 

“◇҉͏∝̕ヾ̴͏̢!̡”

Fiorfata kicked. I immediately blocked it with my right arm, sacrificing the cursed limb.

“Aagh!”

It was the first time I got hit by a direct attack from Fiorfata. I was blown away for hundreds of meters, the right side of my body was mush, and my magic power went down by several tens of thousands.

I gritted my teeth. The precious balance I’d been trying so hard to preserve was broken by my own hands. I’d lost control of myself when I saw the World Tree being attacked, and before I knew it, I was already charging in.

The World Tree was the only thing that must be protected, no matter the cost.

…no, not the only thing. There was another reason for me to protect this world.

 

—don’t worry—

—you are not alone—

 

“Huh…?”

The World Tree sent me more magic stones, and it wasn’t just one or two. This wasn’t the first time it gave me so much. Had Fiorfata’s long-range attack hit a country somewhere?

No… the new Saplings hadn’t reported being attacked by anything.

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 81]
[Magic Points: 254,000/281,000] 40,000 ↑
[Total Combat Power: 282,100/309,100] 44,000 ↑

I used my refilled magic to turn mist and back to human, regenerating my right side.

People, beings all over the world were fighting for the sake of their home, even if I didn’t know who they were. I had help.

“∝̵̛́◇͞!͜”

“HAAH!”

Fiorfata closed the distance of several hundreds of meters in a blink of an eye, and I slammed into it in mid-air. While I’d nullified the worst of it, I was still the only one to be blown away.

That attack damaged me, but the magic-covered arm I’d used to block was still intact, and there were no signs of a curse on it.

I could fight… the gap was still there, still large, but it wasn’t insurmountable!

 

“—[Absolute Nadir]—”

“―̵͠―̵͘∴͜≠̵̵͘†̵‡͘∝̷͠∮̷―̧―͏͝”

 

My blast of cold and Fiorfata’s magical blast detonated as they came into contact. The impact ravaged the land for dozens of kilometers.

The World Tree once more sent me white magic stones.

I could see… something. Flashes of images passed through my mind, images of places, locations. Is that… Blobsy? Panda?

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 83]
[Magic Points: 282,000/287,000] 6,000 ↑
[Total Combat Power: 310,700/315,700] 6,600 ↑

We wailed on each other as we flew in subsonic speed. The shockwaves alone were already enough to shear off the upper half of Mount Leonard.

More white magic stones. Still more unfamiliar scenes flashed through my mind.

This time, it was… the players? Isaac…? Even Weed and Sandrea… wait, was this monster Jennifer?

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 88]
[Magic Points: 287,000/302,000] 15,000 ↑
[Total Combat Power: 317,200/332,200] 16,500 ↑

Demihumans, monsters all over the world were fighting to liberate the Saplings. I could see them! There were even countries among the humans who had allowed the demihumans in themselves!

I continued to consume magic power in my fight, and I continued to recover with the magic stones and the mana the World Tree was sending me.

I could still fight!

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 92]
[Magic Points: 296,000/314,000] 12,000 ↑
[Total Combat Power: 327,400/345,400] 13,200 ↑
[Unseelie LordFiorfata] [Race: Dark Pixie] [Demon Lord]
[Magic Points: 452,000/600,000]
[Total Combat Power: 522,000/670,000]

The gap was closing. I could handle close combat now. But as an Archdemon, I still lacked a decisive method to bring down the Demon Lord that was Fiorfata.

In front of me was a large gap that couldn’t be measured by magic power alone, the gap of existence itself. I knew that. I might not be able to close it even if all the Saplings were liberated.

But I won’t give up. I’ll fight until the very end!

 

As the fight carried me toward the center of the continent, a fleet of about ten battleships arriving from the west came into my view… more humans?

This direction was… Touze Empire? Tiz’s country…

So he was just another of the same, was he… I pushed my slight disappointment to the side, ignoring the fleet to head for Touze Empire.

The ten ships approached. As I dodged Fiorfata’s attacks, I pointed my hand toward the fleet, getting ready to deal with the distraction… when all their engines suddenly stopped working. The ships began to slowly drop out of the sky.

“What happened…?”

I used Dimensional Manipulation to take a look into Touze Empire. In the courtyard of a large palace, I saw Tiz holding something in his hand. It looked like a switch of some sort.

“Tiz… did you do that?”

The next moment, another whole bunch of magic stones were sent into my hand.

[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 99]
[Magic Points: 328,000/335,000] 21,000 ↑
[Total Combat Power: 361,500/368,500] 23,100 ↑

The humans… the remaining human countries had all set their Saplings free by their own hands at the same time.

They weren’t all rotten… they weren’t!

Just one more Sapling! I knew where it was, and it was right in front of me! Inside the palace of Touze Empire — right behind Tiz!

The barrier protecting Touze’s palace vanished. The door behind Tiz was open. I saw the final Sapling with my own eyes.

I was so impatient I didn’t even use teleportation, instead blasting magic power to propel me forward. Roofs of houses were torn off, and the royal knights protecting the emperor were blown away in my wake. Yet even within the tempest, Tiz was still there, kneeling to keep himself from the wind and taking not a single step back, waiting for me. He pulled out the sword on his hips and threw it above his head.

 

“Use it, Shedy!”

 

It was… the magic sword that Tiz held as his greatest treasure, if I remember correctly…

As the naked blade flew toward me, our eyes met for a single moment.

I flew past Tiz, grasping the sword in my hand. I poured magic into it and slashed toward the final Sapling, shearing it into halves.

The Sapling vanished into glittering motes of light, and from within it dropped the final white magic stone. I dove toward it and took it into my hand.

 

I opened my eyes to a world of white.

The hand that had been holding the final white magic stone, I realized, was now being grasped by a girl I didn’t know, both of her hands covering my own.

The glasses-wearing girl seemed to be about ten years old, with a somewhat dark complexion and distinctly Indian features. Standing in the world of white, she smiled, looking truly happy.

 

—we finally meet. I’m number 99… I’ve been waiting for you, together with everyone else—


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「今日のお兄ちゃんはおかしいよ!怖いよ!ッ!?いやだよっ!いやぁ!やめて!やめてぇっ!!」