If someone who did not know anything were to see this battle, this is what they would think:
A brave hero wielding a shining sword was fighting a visibly disgusting monster.
“What is this thing?” the ‘Light-speed Sword’ Rickert muttered suspiciously as he sliced apart dog-sized masses of flesh one after another.
He continued to defend against the strange attacks of Legion, who were tearing off their own arms that made up part of their body and throwing them at him.
But there was sweat on his forehead, his fringe plastered to it in a single line.
On the other hand, Legion were chatting idly among themselves.
“They get cut in strange ways, don’t they!”
“The ones I’m throwing aren’t getting cut, though?”
“Pluto, I don’t think that person would go out of his way to cut the ones that wouldn’t hit him anyway.”
“… You have no control.”
Since Legion had the appearance of a countless number of flesh mannequins being entwined around each other to form a sphere, it was difficult to imagine their emotions just from looking at them, but even Rickert could tell that they were showing no signs of exhaustion.
In fact, they were repeatedly performing attacks that cost them their own body parts, but the removed parts were swelling and regrowing back to normal in a matter of seconds. Thus, their Vitality and Stamina weren’t decreasing at all.
“Kuh! Don’t underestimate me!” Rickert shouted.
He was unharmed, but his Stamina was being gradually chipped away.
The cutting edge of the holy sword Nemesis Bell, and the skill with which Rickert was wielding it, were tremendous. The movements of the blade were unperceivable to the eyes of ordinary people; they would only look like flashes of light.
But the masses of flesh that Legion was throwing were far heavier and harder than they looked, but perhaps there was fat contained in them; every time Rickert cut them, oil stuck to his blade. That was why Rickert’s Stamina was being drained every time he swung his sword.
Of course, Rickert himself knew how much of a disadvantage he was at, trying to have a contest of endurance against a monster. He had tried to counterattack numerous times.
Rickert swung Nemesis Bell at a high speed, activating a Swordsmanship martial skill that released a slashing attack. It severed several of Legion’s arms that had been throwing pieces of flesh.
But all of the arms regrew from where they were severed within seconds, returning to normal.
“Hitomi-chan, did that guy do something? Jack and the rest of us are completely fine, you know?”
“Jack, that guy made what’s called a ‘useless effort.’”
This was the same result as all of Rickert’s attacks so far.
“… It’s not an Undead, and since the wounds inflicted by Nemesis Bell’s slashes are healing, it isn’t related to Vampires or the Demon King’s fragments, nor has it been created by life-attribute magic… this is hard to believe,” Rickert groaned in frustration. If Legion fell under any of these categories, Nemesis Bell’s power would seal away their tremendous regenerative ability.
“How terrible of you to judge a person by their appearance. Did your parents not teach you any better?” said a woman’s voice.
Rickert changed his mindset. “My apologies. But my private teacher taught me that one’s human nature is reflected in their appearance,” he responded casually, avoiding the new masses of flesh being thrown his way as he examined Legion more closely.
Monsters with a powerful regenerative ability should have a method to cut it off, a weak point. Find it. What this monster is instinctively protecting is… that part called Pluto!
“I’ve seen through you! Great Sky Rend!”
Rickert released a superior version of the Sky Rend martial skill, which cut through a thrown mass of flesh and then struck the upper body of the person-shaped part that Pluto’s personality was in charge of, cutting her clean in two from the top of her head down to her navel.
“Seen… through what, exactly?” asked Pluto, her split left and right halves joining back together right away.
“Impossible!” Rickert exclaimed, astounded that this wasn’t a vital point.
He had seen all kinds of enemies before – enemies more skilled in swordsmanship than him, enemies who were so quick that his sword could not hit them, enemies with astounding defensive abilities, enemies that were unaffected by physical attacks to begin with. On each of these occasions, he had survived by coming up with plans or being saved by Ervine and the other true members of the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords.
But it was his first time encountering an enemy that he could damage easily by cutting with his sword, only to have the damage immediately recover, while also possessing no vital points.
On top of that, the other members of the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords were not here. Rickert, trying to escape from Vandalieu, had continued moving while exchanging blows with Legion, so he had already moved a large distance from where he’d started.
Should I keep this up and forcibly make an escape? In sheer speed, I have the upper hand. But can I get away from this thing when it can float in the air? If I had some kind of invisibility technique like Sleygar… I should have received training as a scout as well.
Now that things had come to this, his only options were to attack recklessly or make an escape attempt that was unlikely to succeed. This was the thought that surfaced in Rickert’s mind.
At that moment, several knives buried themselves inside Legion.
“Duke, please take this opportunity to escape!”
“We shall buy you time!”
The ones who had thrown the knives were the members of the Hilt that Sleygar had stationed in the surrounding area.
Rickert wasn’t aware of this, but they had been ordered in advance to support Rickert’s escape if something unexpected occurred.
“You guys… Forgive me!” Rickert said to them, turning around to ensure that the Hilt members’ sacrifice wouldn’t be in vain.
But before he could break into a run, the countless number of large, heavy masses of Legion’s meat that were lying on the ground began trembling ominously.
“The ones that were hidden have conveniently come out, so it’s about time we made a move, Izanami.”
“Yes… Devour them.”
Legion’s own flesh that they had been throwing at Rickert. These were not simply replacements for throwing weapons; they were part of a strategic preparation to make use of the power of Izanami, one of Legion’s members.
With deep roars, the masses of flesh transformed into Yomotsuikusa, monsters that had the appearances of skinless apes with their muscles exposed.
“Damn you! So, this was a trap to lure out the Hilt!” Rickert shouted in frustration, cutting down the Yomotsuikusa one by one as they leapt at him with their sharp fangs and claws bared.
With Rickert’s ability, the Yomotsuikusa were nothing more than small-fry, but for the Hilt members that were not specialized in combat, they were not enemies that could be defeated with ease. They could somehow manage to handle one or two of them, but every single piece of flesh that Legion had thrown, including the ones that Rickert had cut apart, had turned into Yomotsuikusa. There were over a hundred of them.
“Please pay us no attention and escape!” the Hilt members shouted.
Despite the situation, Rickert thought that he could still succeed in escaping by sacrificing the Hilt members. The Yomotsuikusa could barely slow Rickert down at all, and they weren’t strong enough to kill the Hilt members instantaneously.
The situation was quite different from when Yomotsuikusa had been used to fight against soldiers in Origin, but that was because in this world where the Job system existed, people’s abilities in battle were higher than those of the people of Origin.
“No, you can’t do that. Burn!” Baba Yaga shouted.
The members of the Hilt, the Yomotsuikusa near Rickert and the remains of the dead Yomotsuikusa were set aflame by an explosion.
“AAAAAH?!” Rickert shouted as his entire body was scorched by high temperatures without warning.
The Hilt members, who had been surrounded by a large number of Yomotsuikusa, collapsed without even being able to let out dying screams.
This was a combination technique of Izanami’s power to turn the tumors of her own body into the fighting creatures called Yomotsushikome and Yomotsuikusa, and Baba Yaga’s power to cause organic matter to fiercely combust.
“That went well, didn’t it? Well, we got a little burned as well, though,” said Baba Yaga.
“If we had used that at the start, that swordsman might have been able to get away. Fighting people is a pain compared to monsters in Dungeons,” said Izanami.
The two of them were talking to each other while scraping off the burnt flesh on the surface of their own bodies, but they quickly stopped when they saw that Rickert was still standing.
“AAAAGH! GAH!” Rickert shouted as he opened a concealed bag, a space-attribute Magic Item that could carry much more than its appearance would suggest.
He took out a Potion and smashed the bottle against his own head, pouring the liquid inside all over himself.
It seemed to be quite the high-grade Potion; the terrible burns covering his entire body healed rapidly.
“A Potion, huh. Come to think of it, those things existed as well, didn’t they?”
“I’m surprised that it’s even more effective than Blood Potion!”
“Wait a second! How come he didn’t die instantly after being burned by my flames?!”
“Maybe his armor is a heat-resisting Magic Item? Or maybe he just has a lot of Vitality… You can’t think of things in the same terms as in Origin, Baba Yaga.”
Rickert threw aside the broken bottle and barely managed to raise his sword, breathing heavily. “You bastards, wasn’t fire your weakness?!”
When Ervine swung his whips that were covered in flames, Legion had made larger movements than necessary to avoid them. Having seen this, Rickert had thought that flames were Legion’s weakness. He hadn’t thought that they would use flames.
But Legion answered his question with ease.
“Indeed, it is a weakness! But we cannot just leave our weakness as is!”
“Yeah, we worked hard and got burned and paralyzed multiple times a day to get the Flame Resistance and Lightning Resistance Skills, didn’t we?”
“It was really harsh. Well, it wasn’t much compared to the pain we went through as guinea pigs, though.”
“Valkyrie, Shade, Ghost, there’s no need to go out of your way to explain that to him, is there?”
“Enma, this is what’s called a pleasant memory for him to take into the afterlife.”
As Rickert had thought, flames and lightning were weaknesses for Legion, whose entire body was made of exposed flesh.
That was why Legion had decided to overcome that weakness. Using the power of the Skills that existed in this world.
“… Th-that’s not a sane thing to do. You’d normally die before acquiring that Skill,” Rickert muttered.
Even in this world where resistance-type Skills existed, anyone trying to do what Legion had done without any additional preparations would have a high chance of dying or sustaining irreversible injuries. To begin with, the mind wouldn’t be able to withstand the pain.
Legion had been able to use their tremendous Vitality and their experience of having been through torturous human experiments as weapons to push through and make this process possible.
“So, what will you do, knowing that we’re your opponent? If you’re willing to be killed quietly, we could consider doing it painlessly, you know?” said Pluto.
Rickert acknowledged that he was in a situation where he had to harden his resolve.
I’ll do everything I can to defeat this powerful enemy and survive!
Pushing the pain of the burns still remaining here and there on his body to a corner of his mind, Rickert raised Nemesis Bell, the weapon that had determined his fate up until now, over his head.
Transcend Limits, Transcend Limits: Magic Sword. Heroic god Bellwood, give me power!
With a familiar spirit descending upon him, Rickert’s body overflowed with power, his holy sword shining. Legion watched him silently.
Is this still some kind of trap? No, there’s no turning back now!
“Take this, my secret technique!” Rickert shouted.
With the power of a killing blow, he kicked his foot against the ground. This powerful step closed the distance between him and Legion in an instant.
The deadly martial skill that had the same name as Rickert’s Title struck Legion directly, slicing them in two. Seeing the objects behind Legion through the gap between the now-separated left and right halves, Rickert was certain in his victory.
“We’ll return that right back to you.”
The moment Rickert heard these words, his vision blurred… Sliced apart from his head to his crotch, the left and right halves of his body separated and fell onto the ground.
“This is the victory of Ereshkigal’s counter. Just as I’d expect,” said Pluto.
“I’m happy that you’re praising me, but even if we didn’t know how much damage it would take to kill him, was it really a good idea to receive our enemy’s deadly technique head-on?” Ereshkigal asked.
As Legion talked among each other, their two separate halves fused together and became one piece again, returning to normal.
They had defeated Rickert with Ereshkigal’s Counter, which reflected the damage they received directly from an attack back to the attacker.
“Vandalieu said that we would be able to win, after all. There was no way that we would be killed by this guy… if that wasn’t the case, he would have told us,” Pluto said as she looked up.
Above Legion was a small insect monster, hovering in the air while holding an eyeball… a Demon King’s eyeball that belonged to Vandalieu.
“Now then, let us take this guy’s corpse and sword and go back.”
“I hope that bag isn’t broken.”
Ignoring the burnt, black corpses of the Hilt members, Legion began retrieving Rickert’s corpse and belongings.
Meanwhile, Vandalieu and Ervine’s battle was reaching a climax. The shockwaves released by their attacks had caused the trees in the surroundings to either break apart or wither and rot in an ominous way; the landscape had already changed around them.
Having seen high-Rank Undead and Vampires appear from within Vandalieu one after another, Ervine had prepared himself to having to try to find a way out from a fight where he was hopelessly disadvantaged, but Vandalieu had come after him alone.
Borkus and Bellmond, with whom even Ervine wouldn’t be able to avoid struggling against, showed no signs of making a move.
This was because Vandalieu had brought them out in order to have them protect Miles and Iris, making sure that Ervine didn’t attack them.
“How dare you underestimate me! Are your subordinates that precious to you?!” Ervine shouted, swinging his Orichalcum whips angrily.
Vandalieu created a wall using the Demon King’s carapace and blood to stop his attack.
“… Do I really have to make the effort of answering this question that you already know the answer to?” he said.
However, a large crack formed in the wall from a single blow. The Demon King’s carapace split as if bursting and deep fissures formed on the Demon King’s coagulated blood. The Demon King’s fragments were harder than steel, but they were not superior to the Orichalcum weapon they were facing.
The equipment of the champions who had defeated the Demon King Guduranis had been made of Orichalcum, so that was only to be expected. But Vandalieu had already known this before the battle started.
That was why Vandalieu had thought to fight with magic. Without warning, he used Out-of-body Experience and split his spirit form’s heads.
“Death Bullet,” said Vandalieu.
“Death Bullet,” repeated three of his spirit form clones.
“Black Flame Spear,” said three others.
“Death Ice Attack,” said three more.
“Dark Lightning,” said yet another three.
A barrage of Death-Attribute Magic spells and Dead Spirit Magic spells was cast. Each spell would inflict no small amount of damage if it hit directly, but Ervine swung his whip in a circular motion.
“Circular Whip Magic Shield!” he shouted.
Vandalieu’s spells disintegrated the moment they contacted the rapidly-spinning whip. The black flames, deathly-cold air and black lightning were all repelled.
“Flash Snake,” Ervine said as he swung his other whip.
The whip curved as if it were a snake with its own will, striking from the side and smashing one of Vandalieu’s spirit form heads, aiming for the physical head behind it.
The whip’s kinetic energy was absorbed by Vandalieu’s barrier, and it twisted and stopped inside.
“Tch, using such strange tactics!” Ervine muttered.
Using the anti-magic properties of the Orichalcum whip that were greater than that of Mythril, as well as his own physical strength, he forcefully pulled his whip back out of the Impact-negating Barrier.
“He’s quite tough, isn’t he, Your Majesty?” said Princess Levia.
“Should we attack with more powerful Dead Spirit Magic spells? Like the one you once used to erase a mountain, Van-kun,” Orbia suggested.
“I think it will end up getting blocked,” Vandalieu replied as he restored the spirit form clone that was broken. “I said it back then as well, but that was something only possible because the target was a mountain that didn’t move.”
Corpse Flame Prison Destruction Barrage, the Dead Spirit Magic spell that had erased a small mountain. Vandalieu’s spells boasted tremendous power when it came to wide-area attacks. However, it was highly unlikely to work against a powerful superhuman like Ervine.
In fact, there was the danger of giving an opening for a counterattack.
“Fuuh… He’s even tougher than Bugitas, maybe even tougher than Gubamon and Ternecia,” Vandalieu murmured.
“That Elf bastard is that strong?!” Kimberley exclaimed, astounded.
“He’s that strong,” Vandalieu said, nodding. “He doesn’t have a particularly large amount of Mana or special Skills. But he is simply very skilled. And even though he talks and acts like a hoodlum, he’s calm inside his head.”
All of the powerful enemies that Vandalieu had faced up until now were those with large mental problems. Not problems with their personalities, but being deranged and having almost lost their sanity, or actually having lost their sanity, from being cornered.
That was why they had been easily shaken by Vandalieu’s attacks, easily showing openings for him to take advantage of.
But Ervine was different. He showed some surprise, but he didn’t show any openings. He was continuing to fight in a calm state.
He was certainly living up to his declaration that he would show off human strength.
“Even now, I’m using the Demon King’s scent glands to release an odorless form of Deadly Poison, and releasing Incurable Disease into the air, but it doesn’t work. It seems that he’s fully prepared,” said Vandalieu. “Well, that doesn’t change the fact that I have the advantage, though.”
“Then will you win using a method that will allow you to win with certainty, Your Majesty?” asked Princess Levia.
“No, it seems that he hasn’t given up on winning against me, so I’m not going to go into a war of attrition and wait for him to run out of Mana. I don’t want to risk Iris and the others being aimed for, so I won’t have Mikhail and the others move, either.”
“… Van-kun, you look calm, but your blood’s risen to your head, hasn’t it?” said Orbia.
“Yes, I’m furious.”
Vandalieu released more Death Bullets to hold Ervine back as he thought of a method to kill him.
Ervine struck down those Death Bullets, but he was actually being cornered by Vandalieu.
Is there no limit to this brat’s Mana?! And just what kind of a brain does he have?! Activating multiple fragments of the Demon King at once while casting different spells in quick succession, simultaneously as well, isn’t something a human can do! And this is even ignoring how abnormal it is that he can use elemental magic!
Ervine was defending against these fierce attacks while counterattacking when he could find the opportunity. He was indeed very skilled; he was proving that he belonged in the realm of superhuman heroes.
But on the inside, he was shaken by the way Vandalieu continued fighting without slowing down his pace at all.
Ervine had expected that Vandalieu would begin a reckless aggression at the beginning of the battle, and that a chance to win would definitely come once he endured that, but Vandalieu’s fierce attacks didn’t let up at all.
Like a mirage in a desert, the approaching opportunity for victory was actually growing further and further away.
I can’t even get one attack in like this… even though I need to somehow smash this brat’s skull, heart, his entire torso if possible, into tiny pieces!
There wasn’t even a scar left from where Sleygar had cut Vandalieu’s head off. That was why Ervine thought that in order to kill Vandalieu, he needed to break and crush his body to the point it couldn’t regenerate. But despite that, he couldn’t even put a single scratch on him.
In fact, at this rate, he would certainly be defeated. If Vandalieu wanted, he could have Borkus and Mikhail, who were protecting Iris and the others, join the battle anytime.
No matter how strong Ervine was, if he were to fight multiple enemies at once who all possessed strength rivaling his own, he would be defeated without a doubt.
In order to survive, Ervine needed to not only defeat Vandalieu, but also Borkus and the others behind him, or somehow successfully escape them.
Even though he was trying to find a way out of this hopeless situation, he couldn’t see any possibilities.
At a glance, the fight between the two would look as if it were in a stalemate, but in a battle to the death, Ervine had almost no chance of victory to begin with.
On top of that, he’s trying to kill me with poison and diseases. If it weren’t for the Level of my resistance Skill and the Magic Item bracelet I’m wearing, I would be vomiting blood and collapsed right about now. Shit, what do I do? Even if nothing can be done for Ricky-boy now…
Ervine still didn’t know whether Rickert had managed to escape Legion’s pursuit or not. Judging from the sounds of fierce explosions and shockwaves that he felt even from here, he could guess that it hadn’t gone so well, however.
So then, what was he able to do as a member of the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords? Surviving was out of the question. It wasn’t Ervine’s job to make it back with information.
Even if I have to make a desperate effort, I have to make this guy reveal as much of his hidden power as possible!
Having decided this, Ervine was quick to act.
“Familiar Spirit Descent!”
He activated the Familiar Spirit Descent Skill, summoning a familiar spirit upon himself –
– As he tried to summon a familiar spirit, a pillar of light descended from the sky, and then Vandalieu’s Artillery Technique, used with a barrel made of the Demon King’s blood and a projectile made of the Demon King’s horns, destroyed the familiar spirit.
“Hmm, ordinary familiar spirits are quite bland. Insufficient,” Vandalieu murmured.
“Y-you struck a familiar spirit?! Do you not fear the gods?!” Ervine shouted, his discomposure surfacing for the first time since the beginning of the battle.
“I do fear them. I fear them, so I’m well-prepared,” said Vandalieu as he resumed firing more Death Bullets.
Ervine wanted to shout, “That’s not what I mean!” back at Vandalieu, but instead, he used the same Skill once more. “Familiar Spirit Descent!”
“Impossible! Boss, it seems that this guy is crazy as well after all!” Kimberley laughed.
A pillar of light extended from the sky once more. And once more, it was destroyed by Vandalieu’s Artillery Technique.
Ignoring Kimberley’s derisive laughter, Ervine let go of his Orichalcum whip. “Thanks for your noble sacrifice, familiar spirit!”
And then he took out the handle of another whip that had been hidden behind his back. It seemed that Ervine had used his god’s familiar spirit as a sacrificial pawn to create an opening in Vandalieu’s attacks.
“Ah, this is a little bad,” said Vandalieu, noticing the reaction from Danger Sense: Death and starting his attacks once more, but he wasn’t quick enough.
“Demon King equipment: Antennae, activate!” Ervine shouted.
With an ominous sound, a long, black whip extended from the handle of Ervine’s weapon.
“Shining Flame Whip! Whirlwind Whip!”
Ervine cast an enchantment on the whip to increase his attack power, then activated a martial skill to attack Vandalieu. The shining, black whip that was emanating a scorching heat easily cut through Vandalieu’s Impact-negating Barrier, closing in on his body.
“Demon King’s jointed legs, carapace, exoskeleton. Rock Shield, Rock Form.”
Four pairs of legs resembling a spider’s sprouted simultaneously from Vandalieu’s back, an exoskeleton and carapace formed on the legs and all over his own body to provide two layers of defense, and then Shield Technique and Armor Technique martial skills were activated on top of that.
With the liquid metal armor that had already taken form beneath his clothes, his defense was beyond that of a fortress.
But Ervine’s whip broke and cut into the jointed legs and carapace, digging into the exoskeleton that covered Vandalieu’s torso.
Princess Levia and Eleanora screamed, and the corners of Ervine’s mouth rose in a smile.
But this was far from a fatal wound.
“… It’s been a while since I took damage from an enemy’s attack in battle,” Vandalieu said calmly, regrowing the broken jointed legs and carapace.
Incidentally, Sleygar cutting his head off had been a surprise attack, so that didn’t count.
But there was no despair in Ervine’s eyes. “I used my Demon King equipment and only just managed to scratch you. As expected of a monster. Kukuh, but next I’m going to make that person-shaped face of yours twist in pain.”
Ervine’s trump card, the Demon King equipment. These were Artifacts created by those who fought enemies who unsealed and misused the Demon King’s fragments, created from the sealed fragments of the Demon King themselves.
Though it wasn’t clear when or by whom they had been made, but the Demon King equipment was equipment made by turning the Demon King’s fragments, still in a sealed state, into weapons that humans could use.
In its earliest appearances in history, Demon King equipment was said to be effective weapons against those who had absorbed fragments of the Demon King, powerful monsters and evil gods.
But once, a piece of Demon King equipment was destroyed, and the hero who had been wielding it was parasitized by the Demon King’s fragment and went on a rampage. This incident caused Demon King equipment to be treated not as the weapons of heroes, but cursed weapons, and they were sealed in the deepest chambers of palaces and churches.
But thanks to Marshukzarl, whose eye had been caught by their potential use, several pieces of equipment had been retrieved by the Amid Empire’s hands.
One of them was the whip in Ervine’s possession.
Vandalieu was not aware of these details, but he could tell just what kind of a dangerous weapon this piece of Demon King equipment was by looking at it.
“You use a fragment of the Demon King as a weapon without allowing it to parasitize your own body. That’s why you don’t lose your sanity while using it, and you can still use elemental magic. It seems likely that it doesn’t use much Mana, either,” Vandalieu observed. “But it seems that in exchange, you can only make use of a fraction of the fragment’s power.”
The Demon King equipment that Ervine was using, the fragment that it was made of, was an antenna. An organ possessed by insects and crustaceans such as crayfish. There were some creatures like spiny lobsters that used antennae as weapons, but they were primarily sensory organs.
But judging from the way Ervine fought, it seemed that he could only use the antenna as a whip.
“That’s exactly right,” said Ervine. “But using it as a weapon is enough! Sky-tearing Whip!”
The Demon King equipment wielded by Ervine tore through the air as it closed in on Vandalieu. Vandalieu used the Demon King’s fragments to defend himself once more, reducing the damage to a mere light wound.
Even though Vandalieu was using his own fragments of the Demon King, defense-oriented fragments like the carapace and exoskeleton at that, he couldn’t fully block the attack of the antenna whip.
He had tried to use the Surpass Limits: Fragments Skill this time, but it only had the effect of reducing the size of his wound a little further.
“It seems that it’s not the number of fragments that counts, but my own strength and skill,” said Vandalieu.
“So you get it after all!” Ervine shouted.
He was powerful enough to have awakened Whip Technique into a superior Skill, Killing Snake Whip Technique. If he were an adventurer, promotion to S-class wouldn’t have been a mere dream.
But he himself was actually surprised as well.
Someone as skilled as me, even using Demon King equipment, can only put light scratches on him? The guys I disposed of just a few decades ago were crushed along with their fragments… This brat, how much of each individual fragment’s power is he drawing out?! This monster!
But since Ervine didn’t express his astonishment, Vandalieu and his companions decided that he still had room to breathe in this battle.
“Vandalieu-kun, what about your Magic Absorption Barrier?! You could at least take off his enchantment spell, right?!” said Orbia.
“I did try it, but it didn’t work,” said Vandalieu.
It seemed that the Demon King’s fragments’ barrier-destroying properties was stronger; the Magic Absorption Barrier that was supposed to absorb any kind of Mana had been destroyed before the Shining Flame Whip enchantment could be removed.
“Then let’s do it just like when you killed Gubamon!” said Orbia.
“Yes. Furious Death Ice Blade.”
Using Dead Spirit Magic, Vandalieu released a blade of ice created by Orbia, but as expected, it was struck down by a single slash from Ervine’s weapon. But the Shining Flame Whip spell on the weapon was removed.
“Bone Flame Jailing Destruction Bullet.”
Next, with the Dead Spirit Magic spell using Princess Levia’s flames, he tried destroying the weapon the same way as he had done with the Demon King’s carapace used by Gubamon – causing thermal expansion by creating an extreme difference in temperature.
“I’ll teach you why I’m called the ‘Five-headed Snake!’ Wind Ice Whip!”
Ervine’s enchantment imbued the ice and wind attributes to his weapon and smashed the skeleton made of black flames to pieces.
Ervine’s Title originated not only from the fact that he could wield his whips skillfully like snakes, but from his affinity with five attributes – earth, water, fire, wind and light – and his specialization in casting enchantments of each.
Marshukzarl had named him this, with the metaphor that Ervine wielding a single whip was as if he were manipulating five snakes.
“Death Bullet, Dark Thunderbolt, Spiral Strike, Thunder Fist.”
“Trying to hold me back?! Circular Whip Magic Shield!”
Vandalieu’s Death-Attribute Magic and Dead Spirit Magic spells, as well as the Throwing and Unarmed Fighting Technique martial skills activated with the Demon King’s horns and the Demon King’s jointed legs that had been extended outwards, were all easily repelled by Ervine’s whip.
Two voices called out to Vandalieu from behind.
“Hey, kid! Is it my time to shine yet?”
“Your-Majesty-kun~ it’s not good to push yourself, you know~!”
It was Borkus and the ‘Saint of Healing’ Jeena, a former A-class adventurer Titan Zombie who was once in Borkus’s party. They were still protecting Iris and the others.
They were equipped with equipment made from the Demon King’s fragments. If they were to join in on the battle, Ervine would stand no chance.
“That’s right, come! You filthy Undead!” Ervine shouted at them.
Ervine knew that he would be finished if they fought him, but he had already given up on returning home alive. Considering the exchange of blows that had taken place so far, his hopes of taking Vandalieu with him were slim as well.
But if he could at least defeat one of the powerful Undead that Vandalieu was unlikely to be able to create very easily, then that would be plenty.
Even without Familiar Spirit Descent, he still had several cards up his sleeve, like the Transcend Limits Skill that would rapidly exhaust his Stamina and several kinds of martial skills that he hadn’t used yet because they would take heavy tolls on his body. Ervine guessed that if he made use of these, he would at least be able to take one of the Undead with him.
“No, I’ll try a little longer,” said Vandalieu.
It wasn’t that Vandalieu had seen through Ervine’s intentions, but even so, he refused Borkus and Jeena’s aid.
“What, you want to kill me yourself so badly?!” Ervine shouted as he avoided the simultaneous martial skills used by the eight jointed legs growing from Vandalieu’s back, twisting his whip around them and crushing them.
“I won’t deny that,” said Vandalieu. But although he was enraged, he still had a strange calmness about him. “That one weapon isn’t the only piece of Demon King equipment, is it?”
Taking the victory before his eyes would be simple, but his enemy was not Ervine. It was the Amid Empire.
There was no doubt that other pieces of Demon King equipment existed in the empire. It was also possible that arms made from the Demon King’s fragments produced by the weapons also existed.
And there was no telling how many others as skilled as Ervine the empire still had.
So, if he was struggling to defeat Ervine alone, wasn’t it quite uncertain as to whether he would win a battle against the Amid Empire? Even though he would soon be an emperor himself.
“I’m fighting on the frontline despite being someone who will become the emperor, so it would be irresponsible of me to not become powerful enough to be victorious without any chance of dying,” Vandalieu said.
“Become the emperor? Your blasphemy is too much!” Ervine spat. “You’re not deluding yourself into thinking that your true power will awake when you’re cornered or something, are you?!”
“As for a plan, I’m already executing something that I’ve thought of.”
What Vandalieu was aiming for was the piece of Demon King equipment that Ervine was wielding. The Demon King’s jointed legs, which had been frozen by the wind and cold air of the enchantment on Ervine’s weapon, were leaking an ominous fluid –
“Flame Prison Death.”
In the next moment, the piece of Demon King equipment and its wielder Ervine were engulfed in a flaming explosion.
“Eh? Dead Spirit Magic?! But Princess-chan is over there!” Jeena shouted in surprise over the explosion.
“No, this is new death-attribute magic… Dark King Magic,” said Vandalieu.
He had already known that barriers didn’t work against the Demon King’s fragments. But Dead Spirit Magic had worked normally against the Demon King’s carapace when Gubamon was using it. Thus, he had concluded that the Demon King equipment, which was made of the Demon King’s fragments, wouldn’t nullify all kinds of magic.
And he had thought that if he used a magical attack that surpassed the equipment’s anti-magic properties and Ervine’s skill, it wouldn’t be repelled like all the other attacks before it.
“It’s an imitation of Baba Yaga’s combustion, though. The fuel for the fire was the Demon King’s blubber, which I’d stuffed inside the jointed legs that he just crushed,” Vandalieu explained.
There was a scorching fire blazing in front of him. The shockwaves from Vandalieu’s spells and Ervine’s whip had already smashed the nearby trees and boulders; the surrounding area could no longer even be called a forest. If that hadn’t been the case, a forest fire could have been started.
But Ervine appeared once more. “Great Circular Whip Magic Shield! Hard Ice Armor!” He scattered the flames with his whip and covered himself in an armor of ice created through an enchantment spell, throwing away an empty Potion bottle. “Damn it… You just have no limits…!”
The ice armor quickly crumbled away, revealing his tattered leather armor and cloak, as well as several burns that had only been partially healed.
If he were to be wrapped in Flame Prison Death again, he might no longer be able to stand.
“But I’ve endured it! I won’t fall for the same trick again!” Ervine shouted.
“Then I’ll use a different one,” said Vandalieu, pointing a finger at him.
A Death Bullet concentrated at his fingertip.
All of the Death Bullets up until now had been easily broken. So then, what would happen if he were to concentrate more Mana, more killing intent into it?
Something resembling a black laser beam was unleashed in Ervine’s direction.
Its speed was greater than the Death Bullets that had been fired so far, Ervine hastily swung his weapon.
The moment the Demon King equipment struck the Death Cannon, it began to crumble like dirt where the Death Cannon contacted it.
Ervine’s discomposure caused him to lose his balance, but he barely managed to avoid the attack. The Death Cannon struck a tree growing a long way behind him, and it crumbled like Ervine’s Demon King equipment.
“You destroyed the Demon King’s equipment… not with an Orichalcum Artifact, but with magic alone?!” Ervine shouted, unable to believe his eyes.
“Now, it seems that I’ll be able to kill you even on my own,” Vandalieu said, speaking this fact in a matter-of-fact tone.
Ervine was taken aback by these words.
“Now then, I’ve seen your limits, so I’m going to do this quickly. Demon King’s blood, jaws, eyeballs, activate.”
An enormous amount of black blood came from Vandalieu’s back, turning into a red-black snake that bared its newly-formed fangs.
As if he were a personification of all of the fear and despair in this world, Ervine let out a scream. “D-don’t underestimate the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords, the ‘Five-headed Snake’ Ervine-sama!” he shouted spiritedly.
He poured Mana into his weapon and produced the Demon King’s antenna once more, but the emotion spreading through his chest was not anger, but fear. His shouted words were a bluff to try and conceal that.
But he had thought that if he didn’t do this, he wouldn’t even be able to speak.
An absolute despair that he had not felt in a long time engulfed Ervine.
Where is this guy’s limits?! Is there really any meaning in my battle, my defeat, my death?!
Until just a short while earlier, Ervine had been prepared for his imminent defeat and death, but he hadn’t been in despair. He had believed that the Amid Empire would be victorious after his death. He had even been intoxicated on a feeling of joy at being able to contribute towards that victory.
But would the empire really be able to defeat this monster, this monstrosity, this bizarre, grotesque being?
And was there any meaning in his actions? During the battle between them, this grotesque monster had invented two new spells and gained a method of fighting against Demon King equipment. Rather than trading his life for the empire’s gain, hadn’t he actually helped the enemy gain more power?!
Even now, he’s looking at me with a face like a doll’s, his claws –
Ervine had allowed Vandalieu to close the distance without realizing it, and barely managed to avoid an attack from his claws.
“… Blind Spot. Imitating Ghost is difficult,” Vandalieu commented.
The Dark King Magic spell that imitated Ghost’s ability to erase his own presence was not as powerful as the original. But as it delayed the enemy’s reaction to an attack that they would otherwise be able to see, it was effective for close-quarters combat.
There would normally be an overwhelming difference between Ervine and Vandalieu’s physical abilities, particularly in how agile they were. Vandalieu had been able to close that gap significantly.
“G-get away from me! Don’t come close!”
Unable to endure his fear, he activated the Transcend Limits Skill that he had kept in reserve, trying to deal with Vandalieu’s Blind Spot spell.
He desperately glared at Vandalieu, trying to make sure he would never let him slip out of sight.
“If it’s a staring contest, I’ll definitely win, you know.”
The closed eyelids on Vandalieu’s forehead opened, revealing the activated Demon King’s eyeball. The gaze of a third, hollow eye caught Ervine.
“Demon King’s luminescent glands, activate.”
A pale light shone from within that lifeless eye. The Demon King’s luminescent glands became focused in place of the eyeball’s lens.
“Seriously, how many fragments –”
As Ervine’s face twisted in fear, his body was pierced by a bluish-white laser fired from the Demon King’s eye.
His shoulder was pierced as if being gouged out, the arm holding the Demon King equipment falling to the ground.
The convergence is lacking, Vandalieu thought as he saw this.
As Ervine screamed, he desperately reached out for the Demon King equipment that he had dropped, but then the Demon King’s jaws attacked him.
His reaction delayed by Blind Spot, Ervine was caught in its fangs and sent flying into the air, scattering around blood and pieces of flesh.
Damn it, a meaningless death! Someone as great as me! But I won’t hand it to him! Ervine thought as he flew through the air.
With his imminent death right before his eyes, he tried to take the action fitting of a member of a secret force.
By killing himself, he could escape feeling any further fear and pain than this and prevent Vandalieu from gaining the Experience Points from killing him. If he used the special poison implanted in his molar, his corpse would melt apart as well.
Ervine could at least perform this act of revenge. Though it was strange to say this was fortunate, his poison and disease nullification bracelet had been torn off along with his arm.
At least feel this bitterness!
The moment he crashed into the ground Ervine bit into the molar that contained the poison.
But his consciousness didn’t fade away!
“What…? Why can’t I die?!” Ervine shouted as he lay on the ground, his body having grown considerably smaller.
He heard Vandalieu’s voice respond. “I cast the Disinfect spell. Judging from your reaction, it seems that you had a trick to end your own life.”
Vandalieu had cast a spell just in case as he attacked Ervine with the Demon King’s jaws a moment earlier. That spell had removed the toxic properties of the poison in Ervine’s molar.
Now knowing that he couldn’t even kill himself, clear despair emerged in Ervine’s facial expression.
Vandalieu took hold of Ervine’s hair and lifted him up. “Bellmond… This is the appetizer. Please cut him into portions.”
“As you wish,” said Bellmond, and then she turned to Ervine. “Dear guest, I offer my condolences. It seems that the ‘human strength’ that you spoke of was nothing more than an appetizer to Danna-sama.”
In Ervine’s field of vision, he could see a silver-haired female Vampire give a graceful bow, a long tail swaying behind her back.
In the next moment, his field of vision shifted, and then he became unable to think of anything at all.
『The levels of the Rapid Regeneration, Dark King Magic, Enhanced Physical Ability (Hair, Claws, Tongue, Fangs), Spirit Form, Unarmed Fighting Technique, High-speed Thought Processing, Dead Spirit Magic, Artillery Technique, Armor Technique, Shield Technique, Surpass Limits: Fragments, Grotesque Mind and Demon King Fusion Skills have increased!』
『The Surpass Limits Skill has awakened into the Transcend Limits Skill!』