The army of the dead continued to swarm out from the beached Underworld.
The response of Ground’s Nir’s residents was simple.
Overall, there were two primary courses of action.
“Run away. We need to abandon the inn town. If they catch us, it’s all over. Escape to your Gates!!”
“Wait a second! My Gate is inside the town!”
“How long does it take for the Sign Out authorization? Damn, they’ll catch up if we don’t buy some time!!”
However it had happened, these were all fierce warriors who were exploring this unknown world for their own goals. So not even the humans were utterly routed from the very, very beginning.
Some fought back out of bravery and others to test out the enemy’s strength.
They had intended for it to be a quick, probing skirmish, but every last one of them lost their lives.
Figures walked with an unsteady gait between the buildings that had partially collapsed into bizarre pieces of art.
“What are those things…?”
Dawn was a long way off.
A Pure Knight man carrying a large silver shield leaned against the remains of a brick wall at the base of what had once been a bell tower used in the Griffon races and he desperately tried to suppress his heavy breathing.
One problem was how strong they were.
Lightning, gravity, and lava. Their skill with Magic alone put them squarely in the Level Capper category. And in addition to their Shining Weapons, they wielded what were essentially assault rifles and machineguns with stocks made by carving down white bones. They used a combination of high and low fantasy that left no openings in their attacks. They had polished their power to kill and technique to reap lives. These were the movements of people who breathed the air of war like it was normal and set foot on the battlefield like it was normal.
And on top of that, a female voice cried out in an unstable mixture of sorrow and anger from beyond the half-crumbled wall.
“Hey, wait! What’s with you, Befana!? We’ve always been in the same Party, haven’t we!? Please listen to me! Hey! G-gyah! Gyah, gyah, gyaaaahhhh!?”
(You goddamn idiot!)
There was no time to go save her.
This was the second problem, the true fear. No one was allowed to die here, so it was not just an issue of survival or death. The dead had risen for this limited period of time. So they would join their army and swarm the remaining survivors.
It was a snowball effect.
There was no point in even considering approaching that giant “thing” on the beach and driving it back.
As things were, even falling back was risky.
(Lives have no value here. It’s like taking shogi pieces. They outnumbered us in the first place, but if the Level Cappers keep falling left and right, there’ll be no stopping them!!)
If he was being honest, the Pure Knight man did not know if he could travel through his Gate on his own. He had no idea how many times he would have to narrowly avoid death to escape the inn town and there was a wait of a few minutes to Sign Out to earth. The value of a single second had changed drastically. If he stood still in the middle of an empty field, he would end up with a bullet through his head and that was that.
But at the moment, he was still alive.
A giant form blocked out the bright, sinister light of the moon.
A 1000m dragon flew through the moonlit night and passed over the Pure Knight’s head.
That was a Break News, a paradox with a soul.
The Thousand Dragon produced thick rainclouds from the pressure difference created by her flight and, the instant she opened her great maw, something like a beam of ultra-high pressure water tore through the main street.
No, it was not just her.
A Vampire surrounded by glowing red bats jumped along the surviving rooftops, the peak of the Mandragoras covered the ground, and the Fairy Queen spread butterfly wings made of toxic blood.
It was unclear if the violent Break News were admirable enough to want to protect the humans. They may have simply been irritated by the army wreaking havoc in their territory.
But it was an opportunity nonetheless.
By restraining his impatience and holding out to the very end, this chance at survival had rolled into his grasp.
(It’s now or never!!)
He waved to his comrades hiding behind a different pile of rubble, telling them to run. There was no guarantee those that followed his instructions would survive. They might immediately be shot in the back with an assault rifle and tormented on the bloody road. But while the dead were focused on that one sacrifice, someone else might be able to escape. Their flight had devolved to that level. Even after abandoning their pride to ensure their safety, they were still forced to gamble with their own lives.
But even that was an opportunity.
Fleeing was risky and staying meant annihilation. It was that kind of battle.
If they did not put enough distance between themselves and the dead pushing in from the beach, they would not have enough time to Sign Out through their Gates. So their only option was to flee while the Break News were fighting.
And as the Pure Knight man ran from the town with all his might, a thick gust of wind passed him in the opposite direction.
It was a hideous Nonhuman who normally would not be allowed to even set foot in the inn town.
It was Boo Boo.
He stood nearly four meters tall and he did not hesitate to attack the dead.
Ghosts were scary.
A being that had overcome death and was enveloped in enough rage and hatred to alter the laws of the world was frightening.
But as soon as he knew they were attempting to do clear harm to living people, the bonds of fear inside Boo Boo were torn apart.
Protecting something with physical form took precedence over trembling in fear over something formless.
The roar of clashing metal exploded within a plaza of the crumbling town.
The extremely muscular Iberian Orc swung a Shining Weapon as thick as a log or steel beam and it was caught by the double-edged longsword of a faintly glowing old soldier. And since the soldier held a heavy machinegun as long as a spear in his left hand, he was effectively wielding it in one hand.
This was abnormal even for a Level Capper supported by Magic.
On top of that, the gray-haired and bearded old man had a fierce smile on his lips.
“Alpha Zero to all. Alpha Zero to all.”
That included a code never heard in the lives of Boo Boo and the other Nonhumans.
They were pure war fighters and utterly obsessed with battle.
They were the Elkiad soldiers who had cast a dark shadow on Boo Boo’s kind life.
And this was them in their prime.
“Ha ha ha!! Now ain’t this lucky? This is why it’s worth stubbornly clinging to this boring world. To think I’d get to fight an Iberian Orc again!!!!!”
As soon as he heard an unpleasant bursting sound, Boo Boo’s nose twitched and he obeyed his intuition by falling back with all his might. What he had smelled was likely ozone. A roar soon followed and tremendous electricity whirled around the old soldier. The intense heat transformed the ground around the old soldier, forming a splash-shape of glass in a circle around him.
But it was not over after dodging that.
For one thing, he wielded two weapons. Now that his enemy had moved away, it was time to use the heavy machinegun he held at his hip.
He really did fire with one hand.
With the deep sound of rapid-fire, masses of lead thicker than a human thumb were spewed out. The anti-materiel bullets were fired at a rate greater than 2000 per minute and they used more than just their weight and speed. A Magically-produced and massively high-voltage current surrounded the bullets in electricity and transformed them in real time. The incredible heat melted the masses of lead and they were reformed in midair. Sometimes they tapered down like a needle to reduce air resistance and raise their speed. Other times they opened up like an umbrella to strike the air and hit their target with a shockwave.
This kind of versatility was unusual for a heavy firearm.
Predicting the line of fire from the muzzle’s direction and fleeing behind cover was not enough to escape. Anyone but Boo Boo would have been burst like a bloody water balloon before making it three steps.
Boo Boo jumped around like a pinball, rapidly moved between the walls and roofs, and fled the line of bullet holes pursuing him like a great serpent would its prey. The mad warrior narrowed his eyes and viewed him like some radiant object. The old man viewed this fierce warrior who was not killed from the first attack and could stand on the same stage as him.
That old soldier licked his cracked lips.
“Alpha Team, Bravo Team, Charlie Team, and Delta Team. Alpha Zero has visually confirmed the enemy. This one’s the real deal. I’m sure you’re sick of killing each other over and over within the Underworld in the name of combat training, so rejoice! Our war has returned!!”
A moment later, they responded in a way unthinkable for highly-trained soldiers.
They took an action that was entirely divorced from logic and efficiency.
The crowd of ghosts stomped their feet as one, as if to further shake the entire half-destroyed inn town. They showed the world the excitement overflowing from their chests, just like the moment of a decisive goal in an international soccer match.
Sutriona and Kallikantzaros grimaced while standing back to back on a partially-crumbled roof.
“Talk about a cheerful insanity…!!”
“Are they the ones known as the Stars and Stripes? As the grave keeper for the former Soviets, Ileana would probably know more about those monsters from the Cold War.”
“I’m starting to think it was a mistake getting rid of those perverts like Gullveig and Flame Bubble. We could always slap them awake again…”
“Those perverts wouldn’t be any use regardless.”
The Vampire sounded exasperated as her red negligee was pushed out by quite a large chest for her small frame.
A few historic failures had occurred in Ground’s Nir. Examples included the Next Voyager, an overseas exploration ship built by North America’s strongest, and the Enter Kosmos, a giant Labyrinth-fixation stake built by Eurasia’s strongest. Based on what they had seen of these opponents, the Underworld could only collect and use the spirits of the dead who had lost their lives in this alternate world, but that also meant that those born on earth could be controlled if they died here.
The present was peaceful when compared to an extremely unstable time when any little thing could have led to the destruction of an entire planet. If all of the dead who had used this alternate world had become the Underworld’s troops, then the nature of these old soldiers became something truly abnormal.
Fighting them had to be avoided.
But now that they had set foot on the island, there was no avoiding contact.
“Let go! I’m going to help Boo Boo fight!! If they really are Elkiad in their prime, then they know how to fight Iberian Orcs! I can’t let him do this on his own!!”
But when Sutriona heard that voice, she glanced toward the predawn inn town once more.
The usual group was having an argument.
“Shut up, Beatrice. We have to get to the Gates! You heard what Inoue said, right? The humans are settling on retreating. We need to survive this!!”
“W-Wildefrau, please help me!”
“I suppose I have no choice, But if you don’t take her Shining Weapon first, I’ll be roasted!”
She saw Beatrice being dragged away while half-restrained by a girl with curly blue hair. Then she shifted her gaze to Boo Boo who was forming a one-man vanguard as he charged toward the ghosts. That was when the Fairy Queen understood.
The old soldiers had heard the girls’ voices too, but the Iberian Orc would not let them move in that direction. And that was while he fought all alone against such a great army.
“That scaredy-cat is acting tough despite his fear of ghosts.”
“Well, Ground’s Nir’s issues are our issues. The humans have no obligation to help out.”
After jumping down from the roof, the Fairy and Vampire paradoxes landed on either side of Boo Boo.
They did not see this as being left behind. This was their world.
Thus, the Break News girls remained entirely arrogant as they spoke.
“Stay focused, Boo Boo. Let’s buy them some time by pushing these guys back!”
“If you feel like complaining, I’ll lend you some strength…with a bite from these fangs. If you don’t want that, then show me you’re a man.”
Beatrice was jostled about.
Her vision shook horribly.
As Boo Boo’s back grew smaller, he looked back toward them just once.
He did not speak a single word of resentment even when he saw them running away.
Leave it to me.
His powerful gaze spoke those words quite clearly before he rushed toward the fierce warriors once more.
And soon thereafter, red-armored and miniskirted Holy Swordswoman Beatrice returned home.
As did many other surviving humans. As if they were pulling back some kind of line.
The Ushigashira Shrine in Akasaka, Tokyo.
A college girl with long and fluffy blonde hair and coke bottle glasses breathed a heavy sigh that caused the chest of her shrine maiden outfit to rise and fall. She did not feel like watching TV and she definitely did not feel like checking the internet which was far less restrained and had no broadcast rules to follow.
A day and night had passed since then.
The flow of information around the world could change in countless ways given 24 hours. She had once obsessively checked social media in fear of being left behind by those around her, but now her view was the exact opposite. She could not deny that she wanted to be left behind by the situation that was worsening at an accelerated rate.
“I’ll be the Magic Swordswoman this time! I’ll make my sword shock you!”
“Yeah, but I’ll summon a monster. Come forth, Thunder Wyvern! Roar!!”
Young soprano voices could be heard from the neatly-laid gravel of the shrine grounds. When the college girl looked out from the shrine’s corridor, she saw small girls with similar blonde hair and shrine maiden outfits swinging bamboo brooms around to mimic a swordfight. Just as they didn’t pay any attention to National Diet broadcasts or international conferences, they had no interest in the emergency broadcasts on that dying medium of TV. They were mostly just innocently happy that school had been canceled.
Ignorance was an anesthetic. But the calm it promised you was the most dangerous one imaginable.
Unaware how much sex appeal she was scattering around, the glasses shrine maiden honestly wanted to go back.
The children were throwing a soccer ball back and forth, probably pretending it was a Magic projectile. Eventually, it rolled over to the college girl’s feet.
“Yes, yes, you cute little things. You can have fun, but don’t forget that this is our god’s house.”
“Big Nee-chan! You play with us, too!”
“I’m too busy for that.”
“Ehh? But I want to play with you, Big Boobs Nee-chan.”
“Okay, that’s it. Let’s take this out back, you brat.”
The swirly glasses shrine maiden crouched down, picked up the ball, and lightly threw it at the children.
But it slipped from her hand and somehow flew at an unbelievably sharp angle from the intended one. It broke right through one of the shrine’s sliding doors.
That pure look of disappointment was too painful.
Then a follow-up attack hit the trembling swirly glasses girl.
An exasperated old lady’s voice called out to her from above the long passageway.
“What are you going to do, Shrine Maiden Princess?”
“Apologize like crazy to mom and dad! What else can I do!?”
“Not about that.”
The swirly glasses girl sighed again and again at the old lady voice from the corridor ceiling. The information she did not want to see was everywhere. When the smartphone hidden in her cleavage buzzed briefly, she grabbed it out of habit and saw pointless entertainment news sent to the mail service by the cell service company.
That service was focused on the entertainment and sports industries, but even its articles were bizarre.
“Special report!! What is the Underworld? Information from several sources leads to a shocking prediction.”
“The alert level rises to red for the first time. The government is asking that everyone refrains from Signing In to the other world.”
“What will happen to the Tokyo market with no more Pieces from Ground’s Nir to help with pharmaceutical development?”
She felt like someone had lined up a heavy meal full of meat and fat first thing in the morning when she was hungover. She did not want to click the “read more” button for any of them. She noticed stomach acid rising in her throat, so she calmly regulated her breathing.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs just requested that everyone refrain from Signing In to Ground’s Nir, right? There is no way of opposing the Underworld. Sporadic attempts will only increase the army of the dead’s numbers and increase the overall difficulty level. So they’re saying not to make any careless attempts until they find a more drastic solution.”
She was not as obsessive a note-taker as the red-and-silver-haired Holy Swordswoman, but she still gathered the intersecting information in her smartphone’s “to do” section:
The blonde glasses shrine maiden breathed a heavy sigh without thinking.
No matter how much information she gathered, there was nothing she could actually do.
“Did you want me to say that might be fine for the humans born on earth?” asked the old lady voice.
“You understand, don’t you? Abandoning that other world is not going to leave human society perfectly safe.”
…That was right.
The modern world was supported by people using Experience Points to learn Magic and then producing the Pieces that brought about technological revolutions. The cutting-edge fields like pharmaceutical development and AI research would apparently request patents in advance when a large simulator predicted the production of a Piece. If all of those gears jammed up, just how badly would it affect the world economy? Given the number of people who would lose their jobs, it could even lead to desperate riots or wars.
“I wasn’t talking about that.”
But the attic voice scoffed at the college girl’s melancholy.
She then directly stated what she meant.
“How long are you going to watch this like it’s just something on TV? What makes you so certain that their deadly fingertips can’t directly reach you?”
“The Underworld has already seen all the fresh souls that have come from earth. So will they give up just because you’ve retreated through the Gates? It would only be natural to try to reach into that den and make a mess of things. Who can say for sure that they don’t intend to conquer absolutely everything?”
A tiny private detective agency in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
“P-please tell me you’re kidding!!”
He must have superstitiously thought he could not report this even over a “secure line”. The young man had directly walked all the way here and the young woman he referred to as “chief” sat up from her cheap office chair.
“The government gets to decide which Gates will be frozen? Are they trying to unilaterally restrict the operations of civilian companies!? I thought this was a capitalist nation that promised a free economy for everyone!”
Using obscure language was one of their old tricks, but they could not fully hide what they were doing here. Given the influence that Pieces had on the world, this was worse than freezing individual bank accounts at the click of a mouse. The corporations and investors who did not cooperate with the authorities would be immediately brought to ruin and tens of thousands of employees would be thrown out to wander the streets. It would be odd if this did not lead to riots.
“Don’t snap at me. I’m just telling you what the higher ups decided.”
Inoue raised his hands as if he were at a complete loss.
“This is apparently based on a result found using one of those grand simulators that may or may not actually exist. Y’know, like Maxwell or the National Diet’s subway station underground shelter. If things continue as is, the Underworld will reach the Gates located in Ground’s Nir.”
“Wait, you don’t mean…?”
“If they perform a cyber attack on the Gates and successfully infiltrate the system, the Underworld’s dead could come to play on earth just like we were playing in Ground’s Nir. Given the existence of the giant armory and of Abyss, we’ve seen hints that they have more than just Magic there. They apparently have some kind of complex data-processing system that exceeds even earth’s technology. So the higher ups want to seal up those entrances before that happens. …If possible, they want to blow up all of the Gates from the earth side, but they’re not sure they can go that far given the economic effects.”
They had been pushed back in Ground’s Nir where they had full use of Magic, so what would happen if they were forced to fight those veteran dead without that advantage? They would be no more than a group of raw eggs lined up on the ground waiting to be trampled underfoot.
It reminded them of the commotion caused by Demon Lord Tselika.
But this was would be an army instead of an individual and their objective would be pure, unadulterated slaughter. Given that, the threat this time would be even greater.
But the glasses beauty he called “chief” was not just worried about that.
“That’s easy enough to say, but how many Gates do you think there are in this world?”
“Umm, based on the data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 68,079 have been officially registered. Although they are not evenly distributed, so they are concentrated in developed nations.”
“Yes, but that’s only the official number. It’s entirely based on what people were willing to declare. Declare, that is, to this country that everyone tends to take lightly.” She held her head. “There are Gates protected by their governments like the one in the Detached Magic Palace and there are Gates that are hidden from the higher ups like ours. Given the economic effects, it’s almost guaranteed that some people will refuse to freeze theirs and instead keep it hidden. And the fewer there are, the greater their value will be. If hiding it will only benefit them, they’ll never cooperate and there are bound to be holes left open!!”
And if the dead entered through even a single opening, the world was doomed.
Even at times like this, she doubted the human race could put aside its internal problems.
“B-but it’s impossible to know where every last Gate is. This involves all kinds of countries and other powers: capitalist nations, socialist nations, religious states, IT corporations, and even criminal organizations and secret societies.”
“To pull it off, you’d have to be the Sage who was involved in it all from the beginning and had control of every last part of it…”
And the Detached Magic Palace in Roppongi, Tokyo.
“More and more of those in Ground’s Nir are returning through Gates around the world, but experts say the travel restriction from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be extended…”
“An ominous atmosphere hangs over Tokyo. It was only recently that Demon Lord Tselika caused a disaster here, but the Metropolitan Police Department’s tension has already exceeded what it was during that incident…”
The flat-screen TV was too large for a personal residence and yet it was arranged perfectly so it did not clash with the room’s interior. While listening to the chatter from its speakers, a girl with a red dress and long black twintails was still lying in bed despite the sun having risen high into the sky. If she was this lazy under normal circumstances, Iroka, eldest of the three maid sisters, would have let her glasses shine while mercilessly spanking her master.
But things were different now.
“P-please wait! There is no causal relationship between the Detached Magic Palace and the Sage. Do you not remember me reporting that!?”
“You’re willing to lock her up…? Are you serious!? Have you forgotten how much the lady has done for our country at the risk of her own life!?”
“What a pain. It doesn’t sound like you want to solve this at all. It sounds more like you just want a convenient scapegoat.”
The mansion had decent soundproofing, but she could still hear the maids’ voices from the hallway. The girl was the one on the chopping block, but she just lay in bed as if she had lost the spring needed to move her body.
(Oh, I get it. The Detached Magic Palace was always meant as a cage for that purpose, wasn’t it?)
It belatedly hit her. She had no idea how many members of Japan’s government had known what the Sage looked like long ago, but if they had seen her, then the girl’s own treatment made sense.
But it didn’t matter.
There was only one thing in the red dress girl’s heart.
She recalled the moment before leaving.
Had there really been nothing she could have done? Her Party members had taken her Shining Weapon in a surprise attack, preventing her from using Magic, and they had worked as a group to pick her up and take her to her Gate. But again: had there really been nothing she could have done? She had wanted to stay until the very last moment, but there had been no choice but to leave. Hadn’t she had that excuse shoved onto her and then grabbed her Shining Weapon again to Sign Out?
Boo Boo had said nothing to that weak girl.
He had looked back just once and then charged back into the swarming dead as if to say he would buy them enough time to return.
What could she do now?
No, what did she really want to do?
She breathed a heavy sigh.
And just then, she heard a quiet but solid sound.
It came from the window.
The sun had risen high in the sky.
Boo Boo and the others had been extremely worn down after constant fighting for more than a day and a night without rest. Meanwhile, the ghosts were already dead, so they did not have to worry about stamina and health. Boo Boo and Sutriona’s fierce attacks had supplied fatal blows to a few of the veteran soldiers, but…
“Heh heh. Looks like this is it for me, sergeant.”
“Go get some rest, Bravo Two. Wait in the Underworld until you’re resurrected!”
“I’m jealous. We’ll be with you soon!!”
They no longer feared what came after death.
Their dead souls were retrieved and sent back to the Underworld, so killing them did not whittle down their numbers. After a short break, they would resume the attack.
Something fluttered through the air.
They were the palm-sized Fairies named Meridiana and Alice. They were complexly dancing about in the sky. They skillfully used their thin wings to reflect the sunlight or moonlight. By combining that with acrobatic flying, they could send a flashing signal across long distances.
“#3, #5, and #8, please continue as planned. #4 and #9, add in a one beat delay.”
“Create a slight time delay so any we miss are smashed to smithereens. Fiiiire!!”
Something fell from the sky.
The Fairies specialized in Craft skills and they had built the catapults lined up in the distant forest. They were essentially large seesaws that launched stones. Since they had their own wings, the gunners could maintain an elevated vantage point not trapped by the horizon and the scouts on the front line could reflect the sunlight on their thin wings to send a signal back to the gunners. That allowed for very accurate long-range fire.
Boulders taller than a human and wooden barrels full of gunpowder rained down and collided with the dead while breaking through the walls and roofs of the buildings that were barely recognizable anymore.
Meridiana and Alice’s dangerous job was similar to the observers who blended into the front line and guided aerial bombings with a laser. Fairies were small and at the bottom of the food chain, but that small size also made them hard to hit, allowing them to persistently stick around. The only exceptions were things like Ground Spiders that had special sensory organs and could attack a full surface using their webs.
But even that was not enough.
The enemy’s numbers were simply too great.
“Ugegeh! Meridiana, retreat! Retreat into the sky!!”
“Alice!! If we don’t tell them where to fire, those catapults will go to waste…”
“Those spider web things are approaching!!”
Meridiana was more or less dragged into the sky by her little sister as something dark filled the half-destroyed and dust-filled inn town. It was like watching the waxing and waning of the moon in fast forward and it was of course caused by the Underworld. The clockwork mechanisms looked like a fusion of a spider and a crab and they stood taller than a human. They spat out sinister threads, built up more and more tunnel webs, and rapidly expanded the Black Labyrinth.
“Those mechanisms… Aren’t those Arachnes? But why are they working for the other side!?”
It was like having the entire island infected with a mysterious deadly disease. At this rate, it was only a matter of time before the entire inn town was swallowed up.
The Black Labyrinth created a lot of blind spots and dead ends and the narrow pathways were a poor environment for wielding large weapons. If the Nonhumans fighting on the surface were caught in this, it was all over. A suicide attack on the army of the dead would not stop them.
“Wh-what do we do? If we don’t push them back soon, everyone is done for…!!”
“Wait.” Elder Morgan joined them while flying at the same height. “We are acting as their eyes and ears, so if we rush things and get shot down, it truly is over. The catapults are undeniably effective. Let us narrow down our targets and support Sir Boo Boo, Lady Sutriona, and the others. Do not get caught up in the struggle over territory. We need to crush the Black Labyrinth, secure freedom of movement, and maintain an escape route for the others. We must not allow them to be isolated!!”
Meanwhile, the hell on the surface was further rewriting the familiar scenery with each passing moment.
Boo Boo held his giant Shining Weapon that looked like a log or steel beam and even he could not keep his shoulders from rising and falling. He did not have it in him to consciously regulate his breathing.
It all came down to the time of day.
In this case, daytime.
That naturally created a large imbalance in the fight between Boo Boo’s group and the Underworld’s dead near Ground’s Nir’s inn town.
“Tch!! Has that sleepyhead Kallikantzaros still not recovered!?”
Sutriona, the Fairy Queen in a black ribbon dress with large flower decorations added here and there, clicked her tongue while standing back to back with Boo Boo.
Yes, Vampires were weak to sunlight.
That meant they could only participate in the fighting for half of the day and, since this Vampire had the extraordinary power of a Break News, her absence greatly affected the power balance.
(On the other hand, that perverted carrot is stronger during the day because she can absorb nutrients from the soil and use photosynthesis to multiply endlessly.)
Sutriona glanced over, but then she grimaced.
Ileana, peak of the plant Break News, was definitely participating in the battle.
But her belly was torn through with an assault rifle’s bayonet.
Of course, she was one of the paradoxes and a simple head-on attack like that was unlikely to defeat her. Even if she was taking advantage of her endless reproduction by diving into the countless connected tunnels of the dangerous Black Labyrinth to check for soldiers lying in ambush.
There had to be some other reason she had grown so careless in this open plaza.
“A-ahh… Why, why…?”
“Krasnaya to Sinyanov, Target 1 has been destroyed.”
“You’ve joined that side!? What happened to your former morals…ghh. No, and I so loved your smiles of pure joy after you searched for sunflowers in this world and eventually found seeds with a similar feel when you chewed them. And now you’re working for the Underworld…!?”
“Target 1 has multiplied. Comrades, individual fire is ineffective. I request a volley of defoliant and incendiary rounds from our rocket system. I predict contaminating and destroying the connected water source will be effective.”
(Has she been thrown off her game after running across some old acquaintances!?)
As a plant that grew in groups, her main soul fortunately did not die even when each individual was destroyed. She was not stolen as a game piece. But their situation was only going to grow worse. Could they outlast until the next sunset?
“I will release you. Ahhhh, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”
Still skewered by the bayonet, Ileana spread her arms, embraced someone she used to walk alongside, and used the last of her strength to crush their entire body. The plant and the dead would recover after a short interval. Their total numbers did not change, but the Fairy Queen could not throw out those actions as fruitless.
Sutriona tossed Boo Boo a fruit as large as her head and a Honey Bar that she had pulled out of a collapsed shop when she saw an opening.
“Here’s some food. Don’t you collapse.”
He ate the whole thing in a single bite: seeds, core, and all. Eating the bar of hardened sugar along with it made it tastier and more nutritious. Boo Boo had excellent physical abilities, but his fuel efficiency was far from good.
Meanwhile, the old soldiers of Elkiad seemed fully aware of the advantage the sun gave them.
A short distance away, Alpha Zero chuckled in a mixture of joy at having a concrete chance at victory and sadness at knowing it was going to end so soon.
“Now then. Let’s settle this before the next sunset.”
“You claim to be berserkers, but you aren’t even going to consider continuing to fight through the night?”
“It’s true this feels more than a little insufficient, but we want to engross ourselves in a true fight to the death. We don’t want some phony show. When victory is within reach, we’ll take it.”
(It doesn’t sound like they’re being forced to obey because someone is threatening the lifeline that binds them to their temporary spectral form. So would they go on a rampage even without instructions from this lord of theirs?)
The giant spider-crab fusions had already advanced into the inn town. The black threads they spewed out wove complexly together and constructed a tunnel-shaped labyrinth which ran in every possible direction. This was an invasion trench battle that overturned the basic assumptions of war. These were offensive positions, not defensive ones. This enemy was formidable enough as it was, but they also remade the terrain to take away any geographical advantages.
Of course, Boo Boo and the others did not just sit idly by as the situation accelerated toward ruin.
Sutriona had had a reason for opening her mouth and stalling for time.
The Fairies’ catapults seemed lacking in power, but an attack from overhead had proved effective.
While circling through the sky, the Thousand Dragon began a second aerial bombing. Her target was of course the old soldiers, but even if she failed to finish them off, tearing apart the complexly interwoven Black Labyrinth and eliminating those phantom trenches would have a major effect.
Or it should have.
Something else moved alongside her.
A giant flying dragon appeared from the thick clouds and targeted the Thousand Dragon with its brutal jaws.
The Thousand Dragon was longer than 1000m using human units, but even she felt a squeezing at her heart when she saw this. Her mind went blank and she could not even respond to the cries of Fairy Elder Morgan who flew nearby.
It was a giant dragon covered in silver armor.
The Thousand Dragon did not even have time to raise her voice in protest against the unreasonable sight before her eyes.
A thick, orange-glowing beam of heat – no, it was technically some kind of metal heated until it liquefied – struck the black dragon on the stomach.
“She…she could have dodged that, but she protected us instead?”
The attack had been made at extreme close range. The pain of the cruel dragon breath was so great that the Thousand Dragon could not help but twist her body around. The stable cloud movements were thrown out of order and the aerial bombing strayed off course.
But what was that?
Had the Underworld acquired a Dragon soul and remade it into its pawn? The black dragon clacked her teeth together in pain while guiding this enemy to a new airspace where the small Fairies would not be at risk, but then she heard some odd voices.
“Found you, found you, found you.”
They did not belong to a dragon.
Those lovelier, higher-pitched, and maledictory voices belonged to young girls.
At first, the Thousand Dragon thought the formless hallucinations had returned. But that was not the case. The silver armor was folded together at the flame dragon’s jaws, but it now opened up like double doors and small figures appeared from within, as if they had been hiding under blankets and behind trees.
Yes, it was them.
Those palm-sized girls were…
If any lives lost in Ground’s Nir were captured by the Underworld, this had been inevitable. The many poor lives that the wicked dragon had devoured had sharpened the blade of revenge and returned to the Thousand Dragon.
And as Fairies specialized in Craft skills, they had brought a clockwork dragon with them…!!
“Why are you standing on the side of the heroes?”
“We could have accepted it if we were all wiped out as sacrifices. We could have accepted it if there was simply no saving us.”
“But why did you stop? What purpose did our sacrifices have now?”
The all spoke at once.
There was no sign of their former selves.
But it was the Thousand Dragon herself who had robbed that from them.
“Join us in hell!!”
The situation was underway on the surface as well.
With the aerial support lost, Boo Boo, Sutriona, and the others had lost their chance for a counterattack and the old soldiers of Elkiad rushed in toward them to attack. Some used Magic, some used bullets, and some used a combination of the two. The fierce attack was like a horizontal downpour, so Boo Boo and Sutriona briefly split up and took shelter on the roofs of different crumbling buildings. They of course stayed out of range of the Black Labyrinth as it was created from countless threads.
The scenery was being overwritten and almost the entire inn town had been swallowed up at this point.
If they had not gotten up on the roofs, they would have been driven into a deadly maze full of countless blind spots and dead ends.
“Arachnes. I thought I’d seen them before, but now it makes sense…”
Sutriona had finally grasped the situation.
Those contraptions were creating the Black Labyrinth in the blink of an eye and one group of the dead specialized in Craft skills.
The bellies of the spider-crab fusions opened up.
Just like a crab carrying its eggs, they were filled with countless girls who were small enough to fit on a human’s palm and had thin insect wings on their backs.
“Did you mess with their souls to amplify their hatred? You have guts laying a hand on my subjects without my permission, Underworld!!”
But the Queen’s words of righteous anger did not reach the Fairies.
Their souls were literally bound.
“What makes you so great? You call yourself our Queen, but you couldn’t save us. And we trusted in your protection…”
“We died. Hey, we died and we can never get anything we had back!!”
“The same crime deserves the same punishment, right? Then die. Quit acting like you deserve to live and pay for what you let happen to uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuussssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!!”
Those voices may have been a greater curse than any direct attack.
Fairies had little offensive power, so there had been no need for them to emerge from within the contraptions. But they gained an advantage by shaking Sutriona’s heart and stopping her for even a short time.
And as proof…
“That was a mistake.”
By the time the Fairy Queen heard the dull sound, the old soldier known as Alpha Zero had already kicked off the wall and climbed atop the roof to which she had fled. She was now within range of his double-edged longsword. Even if she quickly jumped back, his heavy machinegun would shoot her down before she could regain her balance.
“You lost your purity of mind in the middle of a thrilling battle! Distracted driving is a good way to get yourself killed! Toh!!”
Her slender shoulders gave a start, but her toxic wings could not physically stop the silver flash.
But then something happened.
She heard a dull sound and Alpha Zero’s body blurred before her eyes. His longsword drastically changed course and knocked down something flying in from the side.
It was a piece of rubble about the size of a human head.
While standing on the crumbling roof across the narrow road, Boo Boo had lightly tossed up a piece of rubble, made a full swing of his massive Shining Weapon, and launched it like an artillery shell.
And of course, he did not stop there.
He did not hesitate to launch his nearly 4m body.
He had made his opponent stop the rubble shell to hold the old soldier in place with the knockback. In the instant Alpha Zero flinched, he could not use his Magic or his heavy machinegun. Boo Boo used that moment to move in and launch his true, meteoric attack toward the old soldier’s head.
Another silver flash flipped around.
Alpha Zero crossed his longsword and heavy machinegun and stopped Boo Boo’s full strength from head on.
Frighteningly enough, his old bones alone were enough to equal the Iberian Orc.
But their crumbling footing sank deep down and both Boo Boo and Alpha Zero fell into the building, leaving only the slender girl on the roof. Floor after floor was broken through as they continued all the way down to the ground.
They were covered by the ceiling of the Black Labyrinth woven from countless black threads. But that disadvantage did not matter at the moment. They locked their Shining Weapons together and Boo Boo spoke in a low voice while pressing his weight down on his opponent.
“I will not forgive you.”
“Ha ha ha!! No need. We didn’t want a joint military exercise where we fire gun salutes at each other. Nor did we want an acrobatic air show with no chance of detecting an enemy radar. …This is the real deal. More than lead bullets and steel blades, you need to kill each other with real emotion!!”
“What are you hoping to accomplish by hurting everyone so much!?”
“We were jealous of you all from the bottoms of our hearts.”
He was pinned between the broken floor and his opponent’s giant body, but the old soldier actually looked entranced.
“We couldn’t bear to watch the Cold War shrink and fizzle out. We weren’t given a chance to use all the power we were dying to use, so it just sat there and rotted! …But this is another world entirely. No matter how wildly we fight and no matter how much destruction we cause, we can’t wipe out the human race on earth. See? How could there be a more wonderful hell!? Search all you want; you’ll never find a more colorful heaven than this!!”
“I don’t understand…”
“We want to fight until the bitter end. We don’t care what that end is; we just want to use every last thing at our disposal.”
Was the light in his eyes that of a berserker?
Or was it that of a gambler who was willing to place his own life on the table.
“We don’t care about nuclear war between America and the Soviets. We’re sick of only being sent to battlefields that are prearranged to not change anything in the big picture. That’s all Vietnam was in the end and we couldn’t bring an end to the white powder in Central and South America. It was all a compromise someone else decided on. The undefeated and strongest army wasn’t allowed to actually fight because it would cause too many people too many problems if it ever was defeated. But the boots on the ground didn’t give a shit about any of that. We wanted an even fight. We wanted both sides to use everything at their disposal and to fight it out until one side emerged victorious. That was all. That was all it was, Iberian Orc!!”
Boo Boo sensed a frightening surge.
The old soldier was nearly pinned down, but he pressed the bottom of his feet against Boo Boo’s belly and used his incredible leg strength to toss the Iberian Orc into the air. Free once more, Alpha Zero’s arms blurred. The Shining Weapon in his right fired lightning Magic and the heavy machinegun in his left fired lead bullets. Boo Boo had no footing in midair as those projectiles mercilessly targeted him.
“I’m jealous! So very jealous!!”
Just as Alpha Zero fired, Boo Boo twisted his body and slammed his Shining Weapon into the floor. The reactionary force pushed him a little bit higher into the air. He just barely avoided the storm of transforming bullets wrapped in electricity.
The crazed old soldier was smiling as he got up from the broken floor.
“You see, when I saw that village lying in ruins after using its full strength against us, I couldn’t help but feel jealous that they managed to enjoy the taste of true ruin.”
“Yes, I am even jealous of your hatred! Even our Magic is managed by our Shining Weapons, so we can only digitally plan out our victory. Those raw feelings are something we cannot experience. Yes, yes. But now we might be able to be defeated and destroyed. We might be able to fight a battle that truly stings!!”
Alpha Zero then whispered “so” while slowly raising his sword and gun combo once more.
He was not done yet.
“Allow me to remove another of the unnecessary bonds preventing you from fighting without reservation.”
“Oh, yes. The Underworld ordered us onto the island in order to reach the Gates the humans use. Because with a little bit of fiddling, we can reach through to the other side.”
“I don’t know if it would work for souls born in Ground’s Nir, but our souls are products of earth. Even in this state, we might be able to pass through the human Gates if the conditions are right. And you know what happens then, don’t you? The humans of earth will no longer matter. Everyone you love will drown in a sea of blood.”
That hopeless grin reminded Boo Boo of another scene.
He recalled that moment when he had been left utterly alone. When the village that had always been there had become a pile of rubble covered in blood and smoke.
The same thing would happen again.
And this time it would happen to the safe “village” where Beatrice and the others lived. From what he had heard, they had different problems there, but they said that world was not ruled by survival of the fittest and they did not have to hunt to eat. And this enemy said this destruction would be brought to the home of those girls who had filled his heart with so much warmth.
The last of the Iberian Orcs gave a roar.
He gave no thought to his overall disadvantage here.
“Come, real one!! The analysis needed to take control of the many Gates is underway. Now, treat us to a true battle that directly wears at each other’s souls, where neither side shows compromise, and where one side tastes utter ruin!!!!!”
Hearing something tapping against the glass, the red dress girl approached the window and saw two unexpected faces there.
“Armelina and Filinion…?”
“It must be chaos for the higher ups too. We’d never normally be able to infiltrate the Detached Magic Palace.”
“A-anyway, please let us in.”
That glasses duo was clinging to the wall and entered through the window. One was a college girl shrine maiden and the other was a police officer. They were also the Level Cappers the red dress girl regularly entrusted her life to in Ground’s Nir.
“Why are you here…?”
“We’re here to save you.” The tight skirt woman sounded exasperated. “Do you have any idea what your situation is here? The authorities have no way stopping the Underworld, so they’ve pulled everyone out of Ground’s Nir and they’re abandoning all the Gates. The fingers of death are approaching. It won’t be a problem if their cyber attack fails, but we’ve lost from the moment that they’re the ones that control the success or failure of their invasion. Tselika’s attack is going to seem like nothing in comparison.”
“And – as usual – the government has just given up on thinking and they’ve started treating the Underworld’s invasion like an unavoidable disaster. Well, that might have been the end of it if they didn’t need a target to absorb the hate, but they’re starting to secure a scapegoat to blame if the people riot after overcoming the sea of blood. And they’ve chosen the person who brought Magic to this world: the Sage. So if people won’t accept it as a natural disaster, they’ll call it a manmade disaster. Because that will redirect the people’s hatred away from them.”
“But no one knows what happened to the Sage after we defeated her.”
“That means they’ll use the person with the closest connection to the Sage. Just like how the garbage media loves attacking the families of criminals. Beatrice, you’re at the most risk here. It’s possible they’ll even pass you off as the Sage herself to place all the resentment on you.”
It was absurd, but actual cause and effect rarely came into play when the masses were looking for an outlet for their stress. Had there been no contradictions whatsoever in the old witch hunts? As long as there was some semblance of logic, people were willing to turn a blind eye to some inconvenient facts. The search for peace of mind could be frightening indeed when the masses fell into a state of panic.
The red dress girl sat on her own bed.
“For now, I’ll hear you out.”
“How can you stay so calm?” protested the shrine maiden. “You’re about to be arrested for a crime you didn’t commit…!”
“There is one way to escape the uniformed police officers and break free of this situation.” The tight skirt beauty crossed her arms and raised her index finger. “We return to Ground’s Nir once more. And we do something about the Underworld on our own. That’s the only way.”
The authorities wanted a scapegoat in case they could not stop the Underworld’s invasion and a great many people on earth were lost as a result. So they would no longer need that makeshift sacrifice if there was no invasion.
“I have no idea if we have any chance of success. But Boo Boo and the Break News have to still be fighting. That island is their only home, so we need to hurry. The situation will only worsen each time a powerful Break News is killed and joins the Underworld’s side.”
“Beatrice, you can’t just leave Boo Boo there, can you? We forcibly dragged you to your Gate before, but things have changed. We have to assume our last chance is in Ground’s Nir.”
She should have leapt at the chance.
She normally would have.
But the red dress girl quietly bit her lip.
“…Do I really have the right to do that?”
“This isn’t about rights! Don’t you understand the authorities are going to execute you for their own-….!?”
“But!! All I did was cause everyone problems!!”
The dress girl cut off the tight skirt beauty with a hysteric cry.
“Elkiad, Demon Lord Tselika, the Sage, and Abyss… I obeyed my own sense of justice and worked so hard each time, but all I ultimately did was give the Underworld Lord more momentum!! All of this is my fault, isn’t it!?”
“Wh-what are you talking about? Whether Abyss herself was good or evil, Ground’s Nir would have been destroyed if we hadn’t stopped her then, right?”
“And Boo Boo!! If he hadn’t been thinking about us humans, he might have been able to start fighting from a more advantageous position. No, if the Nonhumans had offered up the Gates and let the Underworld focus on earth, they all might have been spared!!”
But instead, they had been hit by a surprise attack and attempted a head-on battle without time to regroup.
And all so the humans could escape to safety after selfishly giving up on that other world.
“And what about you two!? No, and Haruka, Misoka, and Iroka too… It’s easy enough for me to pass through my Gate, but who will be blamed for that afterwards!? In the end…in the end I can’t gain freedom without someone else taking the blame! Every time I do anything, someone else suffers for it!!”
If that girl asked for it, the people watching over her might have gladly agreed.
She only needed to say that she wanted to save Boo Boo or that she wanted to escape punishment for falsely accused crimes.
“…This is all my fault.”
Because those requests made sense, they might have felt the need to respond with a smile no matter how painful it really was.
“Are you telling me to keep doing that!? Keep being the kind of garbage that has to throw everyone I care about into the engine as fuel to keep moving forward!?”
Was she really only a scapegoat?
If this was truly wrong, then wouldn’t that red dress girl be the greatest villain? While living trapped in the Detached Magic Palace, using so many other lives as stepping stones, and selfishly surviving this long, hadn’t she offered up more goats than anyone else?
Would she continue doing that?
Could she never change?
Finally, the adults exploded at the worrying girl.
“How can you be so dense!? The one whose suffered the most for the benefit of others is you, Beatrice!!”
“How can you be so dense!? The one whose suffered the most for the benefit of others is you, Beatrice!!”
The red dress girl stared in confusion at the sudden outburst.
She did not seem to understand, which only pushed the college girl and police officer further past the critical point.
“You look like the Sage, so you might be the Sage. That mere guess was all it took to build this Detached Magic Palace, isolate you inside it, and cut you off from a girl’s normal school life!! Can you seriously say you’re the one causing people trouble, Beatrice!?”
“The Sage used you and the authorities were so afraid of the Sage and didn’t know what to do about her that you ended falling through the cracks! You were shoved down there all on your own!! So complain about that!! You had your freedom taken from you during your precious, once-in-a-lifetime teenage years for some vague jinx about social stability and a trump card against the Sage that they didn’t even know would work. It’s the police officers like me who should have rescued you from that, but all I did was sit idly by and laugh! Why aren’t you criticizing me for that!? Do you not understand your rights here!?”
The baffled dress girl probably had not caught on.
Even if she saw a delicious-looking cake in front of her, she would never think there was a slice for her. She would watch the cake rot and wonder why no one was eating it.
That was why the shrine maiden and police officer were so angry.
No, it was not just them. The people meant to manage the Detached Magic Palace which had been built by the government – that is, the three maid sisters who were considered public servants – had gone beyond their official duties and were even now acting as a breakwater to hold back all sorts of pressure.
They wanted her to have the same rights as any other person.
And if that was too much to ask for, they at least wanted her to complain about each of the normal things that had been taken from her.
That was their hope.
“To hell with this, Beatrice,” said the police officer. “What do you really want to do? Do you think hesitating, letting yourself rot here, and accepting your fate will lead to a happy ending full of smiles? Do you think that won’t trouble anyone? Do you seriously think that, you damn brat!? You might see us as a symbol of lame resignation, but don’t take us adults lightly!!”
“I’ve seen your consistent behavior,” said the shrine maiden. “So can you really say it’s right to stay silent while Boo Boo is being tormented and harmed out of your reach!? Don’t hold back for anyone; just tell us what you really want to do!!”
The answer was obvious.
Abandoning someone she cared for was simply not an option. Nor did she want to collapse in a dramatic show of self-sacrifice. Letting the adults mess with her and bind her for their own purposes was out of the question. What did that girl hope for? She did not care if anyone called it silly or overly convenient. This was what she really hoped for.
“…That was my home.”
The red dress girl finally moved her lips.
A trembling voice escaped the hands covering her face.
“Ground’s Nir was my home. I wasn’t surrounded by walls there, I could freely walk through the inn town and the Labyrinth, I could buy what I wanted, and I could train my body. I never would have met either of you without that other world. And…and…”
Her voice sounded battered and rusted.
The gears she had not allowed to move for so very long were now moving.
“It was like a miracle that I even met Boo Boo! That never could have happened without breaking all the rules to connect earth to that other world!! I can’t just throw all that away now. Everything I am is contained there. Boo Boo seems to think I was looking after him, but it was the opposite. I! I could never have become who I am without meeting him!! I want to repay him for that. I don’t want it to end before I can do that. No, even that’s just an excuse. The reasons don’t matter anymore. I just…!!”
It was not about effectiveness.
It was not an issue of logic.
The blonde glasses college girl and the tight skirt beauty listened intently to her. It was not a bad feeling. No one was laying out the state of the world on the table. They had wanted a more fundamental and more primitive motivation that acted as the driving force behind someone’s soul. That was all.
“I just want to be with Boo Boo…!!!!!”
The Underworld’s invasion and the fate of the earth were of secondary importance. Her priorities were thoroughly fixated on herself. It would not be good if that line of thinking led her to bet the fate of the human race on it, but clear relief appeared on the faces of the two listeners. They knew they had made it in time.
The adults lightly bumped their fists together and spoke to the weeping girl.
“Then we need to hurry, Beatrice.”
“Yes. Those maids of yours are impressive, but they can’t hold it back forever.”
That was when they heard thunderous footsteps in the hallway. It was highly doubtful they belonged to Haruka or the other maids. This was most likely the men in black here to seize their scapegoat.
“Speak of the devil… Anyway, hurry out the window! Your Gate is in the courtyard, right!?”
Luckily, this was a Western-style mansion that did not require removing one’s shoes at the entrance. The red dress girl was still wearing her outside shoes, so she immediately left through the window. None of the men in black had been sent to guard the gazebo jacuzzi. The Detached Magic Palace was a government building and they had to know where the Gate was, so they must have concluded no one would be dumb enough to head back to Ground’s Nir with the dangerous Underworld there.
They were either spotted out the window or with the cameras and sensors because several loud sounds of destruction could be heard inside the mansion.
“Haruka and the others…”
“There’s no use worrying about them now. And how much you wanna bet those maids are smiling right now!?”
“If you’re going to strike back against the authorities for jumping the gun here, you need to regain your freedom first. And that means Ground’s Nir!!”
They reached the Gate in the courtyard.
But it would take several minutes for the Sign In process to complete. And those men in black were risking their lives to fulfill their orders, so it was unlikely they would just sit around and let it happen.
More importantly, this Gate could not transport just anyone. The college girl and the tight skirt woman had their own entrances elsewhere.
Only the red dress girl could escape to the other world from here.
So the other two turned their backs on the girl and stood in the pursuers’ way.
The tight skirt and glasses woman spoke without looking back.
“I promise we’ll catch up to you. So go on ahead, Beatrice!!”
“Don’t give us that look. When you arrive on the other side, you’ll be exposed to the fierce attacks of the Underworld. Don’t forget that you’re in the most danger here.”
There was no time to hesitate.
Each passing second had to be bought by wearing down the lives of the people she cared about. They were truly fighting with their heart’s blood. So no matter how much it tore into her heart, she could not stick around for any reason.
The twintail girl stuck a hardware key that resembled a USB stick into the smartphone hanging from her neck. She stood in the center of the Gate. The machine rapidly carried out the necessary Sign In process.
She could hear fierce fighting. She could not stop the situation before her eyes. The three maid sisters and the friends who had fought alongside her in the other world intended to act as her shield until she had escaped.
Those few minutes felt long.
So very, very long!!
The current generation of Ground’s Nir Abyss was an Experience Point multi-purpose Magic weapon shaped like a girl. She had lost an arm and taken critical damage to her neck in combat, but the physical pain was not a problem while in sleep mode.
And once freed from the bonds of reality, she could access all information within the island of Ground’s Nir. She had effectively been repeatedly optimizing herself in the depths of the Labyrinth, so this was a world she was intimately familiar with – yes, to the point of being sick of it.
While lying wrapped in bandages in the attic of Boo Boo’s brick house, Abyss accessed that world as if dreaming.
Since she had no physical body like this, it was wrong to say it filled her “vision”. She overcame the concepts of direction and distance as a massive amount of information spread out within the conscious region of her mind as if the starry sky had been thrown into a kaleidoscope. This great sea would have brought fear rather than convenience to a normal life form.
Abyss’s favorite images were the cave paintings left throughout the island.
They had originally been a high-level encrypted data medium that the ancient humans had left in an analog form because there was a limit to the strength of numerical encryptions based in a signal of zeroes and ones, but that did not matter. These were the mimicked ones the Iberian Orcs had used to crudely record how they lived without realizing what the original code had been.
How did they share their happiness with others? These recordings explained how they would decorate the forest’s trees with snacks and other food, form a circle around the trees, and dance.
The history of the Iberian Orcs was not all cheerful and they had often been treated unfairly or had what they built torn down. Nevertheless, these cave paintings contained no complaints about any of that. There were references to the island’s land, sea, and sky being ruled by the Elves, Mermaids, and such and there were references to the three royal families possessing a unique treasure such as a circlet, a ring, or an earring, but there was no mention of those groups not protecting the Iberian Orcs.
Their cave paintings only contained happy things, fun things, things they were proud of, and praise of others.
That demonstrated the disposition of the Iberian Orcs. They were the species that had misread Abyss’s existence and repeatedly invaded the depths of the Labyrinth to stop her completion, but she did not care about that anymore. She knew they were not bad people.
But Abyss’s gentle time did not last forever.
The crude but heartwarming images left on the cave walls by the Iberian Orcs were carelessly blotted out and filled in by something dark.
Lifeless contraptions that looked like a fusion of a spider and a crab spewed out black thread and created a Black Labyrinth that resembled countless writhing tunnels.
Abyss shifted her attention away from the individual cave paintings and to the surrounding caves. Then she searched the entire island once more and found that about half of it was already covered in black.
The outside world she had longed for was being defiled.
She was filled with surprise and then displeasure as an odd sensation prickled the corners of her senses like needles.
From the perspective of humans who only had their five senses to rely on, it may have been like an alarm.
“Here is a suggestion based on Code E4C3320.”
The island of Ground’s Nir was effectively a giant armory made by the ancient humans to create the weapon named Abyss. The factory area of the underground structure had contacted her.
“48% of the surface has been invaded by enemy trenches and they continue to grow. Once 60% of the island is covered, it is estimated the creatures that appeared naturally on the surface will be unable to respond effectively. Once their resistance fails, the invasion will push through like an avalanche. At that point, it is predicted the underground structure – that is, the armory itself – will be invaded.”
That was indeed a problem.
The people Abyss knew very well would be affected. No, given the possibility of a cyber attack on the Gates prepared across the island, this was no longer limited to the island.
“The grid sensors installed across the island have confirmed an attack from the expected target: the Underworld. Ground’s Nir Abyss is obligated to attack to fulfill the purpose of her creation. After accessing the armory, dismantling the facility, and reconstructing it all as armor and spare power, please swiftly take action to exterminate the Underworld.”
But responding to the armory’s request meant to sink the entire island, throw all life living there into the ocean, and using the foundation of their livelihoods to provide armor and weapons for a single girl.
That would not allow Abyss to protect anything she wanted to protect.
So there was only one answer.
“Rejection. Abyss abandons the physical fulfillment of her primary objective.”
“Abyss lacks the effective authorization to refuse. The surface will be destroyed within eight hours. And that time table is currently being adjusted downwards, so please execute the command before it is too late.”
“Even so, rejection. Optimizing processor core, securing memory. Stand by for counter cyber attack.”
“Abyss’s self-analysis functionality has clearly taken severe damage. Temporarily removing privileges to ensure the continuation of this work task. Exterior options, all sections: parallel processing. Stand by for cyber attack.”
Another war had begun.
The current invasion rate was 48% and it would reach the point of no return at 60%.
To leave the fate of the remaining eight hours in the hands of those who still lived, Abyss poured all her might into a lonely war of which no one would ever learn.
Yes, just like the Iberian Orcs had once continually challenged the ultimate weapon over and over again to protect everyone on the island who had thrown stones at them.
Not even Boo Boo knew what exactly caused it.
He might have relaxed just slightly when they managed to last almost until sunset. As night arrived, Vampire Kallikantzaros would soon return. And if they survived until then, the battle would shift in their favor again.
But he should not have forgotten that a life could be lost in an instant.
Even if hope was a minute or a second away, he had to use all his might to survive from moment to moment and continue walking toward the future or he would lose that path forward.
Boo Boo did not do anything wrong.
But when the old Elkiad soldier known as Alpha Zero aimed his heavy machinegun toward Fairy Alice and Meridiana who were flying around to relay messages and guide the gunners, he unhesitatingly ran into the line of fire.
The deep gunfire sounded like a giant hand slapping the world and this time the storm of lead rushed in from dead ahead.
Boo Boo swung his Shining Weapon around wildly and finally got to work swatting down bullets thicker than a human thumb. His movements were completely ridiculous, but the old soldier rejoiced as he charged toward the Iberian Orc.
“God, this is fun…”
His Shining Weapon longsword was wrapped in an extraordinary amount of electricity.
“This is so much fun, Iberian Orc!! I can fight all I want without worrying about the future or fate of the world!!”
The bright light and loud rumbling pushed Boo Boo back.
He was stuck in a defensive battle and had to continue falling back.
Once the equilibrium was broken, the momentum built up in a negative direction. There was not enough of a break for him to recover. Boo Boo’s group was gradually being pushed out of the inn town and the battle line was shifting from the stone-paved town to the mountains surrounded by dark soil and trees.
Now the inn town was almost instantly swallowed up by the Black Labyrinth created from the countless threads of the spider-crab fusion contraptions. The ominous scene looked more like a sudden lunar eclipse than the waxing and waning of the moon.
An atmosphere of imminent defeat hung in the air.
At this rate, the Fairies’ village would be caught in it all.
No, Boo Boo was protecting something else behind him.
“I think we’ve just about put you in check, Iberian Orc.”
Alpha Zero felt no exhaustion…no, he feared no limits, and he slowly raised his sword and heavy machinegun once more.
Instead of on Boo Boo, his eyes were on the Gate behind him. That was one of the crucial bases that would allow an invasion of earth if the Underworld got its hands on it and began a cyber attack.
“Alpha Zero to Alpha One through Alpha Thirty. Our unit will be taking the reward. Surround them. …Sorry, Bravo through Delta, but you sit this one out and watch.”
The rustling of leaves responded.
These people had to know how to walk through a forest, so they were clearly enjoying the battle and letting their opponent know their location to inspire fear.
Surrounded by that rumble of death, Boo Boo focused on his surroundings with Shining Weapon in hand.
The great tension in the air scorched his nerves. It all came down to the timing. If he misread that by even an instant, he would lose his chance to fight back and he would be devoured.
He spoke under his breath while filled with extreme tension and exhaustion.
The image in his mind was of course that village he had lost. And his younger self standing within the ruins, unable to do anything about it.
It was an image of helplessness, frailty, and loss.
But he used his willpower to cast aside that negative image.
“I can’t overlook tragedy again. Long ago, Beatrice and I promised we would become someone who wouldn’t disappoint each other. So I won’t let you take anything else away!!”
“Men, make sure to say grace. Because it’s dinnertime.”
Dark shades appeared from behind the trees and beyond the underbrush. Elites wielding deadly blades rushed in from every direction like the brutal teeth of a giant maw snapping shut.
It all happened in a slow motion world, as if swimming through sticky molasses.
But before he could cross blades with them, Boo Boo sensed a definite change.
A moment later, a lovely voice pounded on his eardrums.
And it said…
A total of eight lines of heat were launched from behind him and passed over his shoulder. At a meter long, those orange-glowing torrents of scorching heat could break through a tank’s side armor and fry the interior, but these had been extended to kilometers long using brutally deadly Magic.
A few of the shades dodged, a few attempted to defend and were pierced through, and the surrounding trees were felled and covered in flames.
That reminded the last of the Iberian Orcs of only one person.
“Don’t you remember what we promised each other long ago, Boo Boo?”
Someone set foot in Ground’s Nir after passing through the Gate a certain man had desperately defended. Yes, the girl in red armor and a miniskirt once more stood by his side.
She smiled while holding out her Shining Weapon rapier in the same way as him.
“We promised to become someone who wouldn’t disappoint each other.”
They could turn the tide of battle as many times as it took.
Like this, nothing was impossible for them.
It was truly dramatic.
Beatrice’s addition to the battle provided more than the simple skill of a Level Capper. Now Boo Boo’s group had the use of human Magic just like the Underworld did. That addition of an entire concept helped immensely.
It was like giving a gun to warriors who had only ever used swords and spears.
It really was a manmade forest fire.
Over a width of several kilometers, flames rushed in at over 60kph, so instead of pushing in, the soldiers were pushed back. And brute force was not all this opponent had to offer. The red-armored Holy Swordswoman was using flame illusion Magic to manage her data by connecting several square frames with red lines.
“(They prioritize defense over evasion for sudden attacks.)”
“(They use hand signs before attacking and they tend to match their timing to prevent friendly fire. By securing a half-tempo pause, I can dodge all of their bullets. They seem to push through using the violence of numbers, but the targets can be isolated by splitting them up with flashy Magic. By surrounding them with walls of flames, we can attack individual soldiers as a group. But if they have their numbers, we’re evenly matched and the risk of taking damage ourselves rises.)”
(She’s analyzing the distance we keep and the timing of our attacks!? This isn’t good. With systemized military standards, analyzing an individual could provide information that applies to the whole!!)
Of course, the elite veterans of Elkiad were Magic experts and they could endure the walls of flames using various Elemental Defenses or by flying, but…
“Bravo Zero to all. Emergency report!”
“Charlie Zero here. We too have taken significant damage. We were suddenly attacked from behind!”
“Delta Zero to all. It’s the Gates. Dammit, the humans are returning from all over!!”
Alpha Zero clicked his tongue at the reports from the other unit leaders.
The Gates could suddenly transport someone in, so expanding the battle line using the existing 2D maps had exposed them to unexpected damage. They could suffer the same tragedy as Charlie Unit: have a Level Capper suddenly appear behind them and hit them with some extraordinary Magic.
Their terrain advantage had been defeated by a method of moving at higher than the third dimension.
And their superior numbers were overcome by the Level Cappers who had extremely high individual skills.
…Simply put, the existing military system was ineffectual here.
But the old soldier actually laughed.
He seemed to be rejoicing at the very fact that this unexpected development was widening the wound.
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! This is what I love about a foreign world: anything can happen!! Now this is what I call a war! This is what I call an apocalypse! You can’t know from second to second who’s going to win and who’s going to lose!!”
“This is not time for celebration. And can’t you even die properly? Melt Cutting!!”
Beatrice’s rapier glowed red as she mercilessly cut forward along with Boo Boo, but Alpha Zero took a few steps back to keep his distance.
The old soldier spoke disappointedly in the burning forest.
“This is so much fun. So very much fun… But, well, I guess my fun ends here.”
Something approached them from the fiery and smoky forest.
Whatever it was seemed to restrain even battle-crazed Alpha Zero. Just how powerful was this person? Beatrice and Boo Boo held their respective Shining Weapons at the ready to cover each other.
And then he casually walked up.
He had a muscular body.
He wore thick armor.
And he rested an enormous axe on his shoulder.
Beatrice had heard of his legends. But the age in which she lived was simply too far removed from the age in which he had lived. She had spoken with that Skeleton who wore a cowboy hat, but this was her first time seeing what he looked like in life.
And yet somehow she could tell at a glance.
She knew exactly who this was standing in their way.
Palm-sized Fairy Alice was helping her older sister Meridiana with relaying messages and instructing the gunners.
That giant body rushed forward while surrounded with a gust of wind as strong as from a passing subway train. Even with the Percentage-type equipment reinforcing her physical strength, this was too much for Beatrice’s slender arms to handle. In fact…
(The flowchart I’d created to combat the American military standards doesn’t work on him at all!?)
That affected her timing and she was slow to dodge. Boo Boo immediately stepped forward. His Shining Weapon was like a log or steel beam and it caught the blow from the axe that may have been even larger.
Then something odd happened.
With a great rumbling, Boo Boo sank down as a crater formed in the ground around him.
When she heard his groan of agony, Beatrice’s rapier gave a roar. The red-hot blade could slice through steel like it was butter and it targeted the large man’s torso from the side, but…
“Alpha Zero, amplification.”
Even her scream was drowned out.
With a brief response, the old soldier detonated. No, just as announced, his electricity Magic had demonstrated extraordinary power.
A shock ran through Beatrice like a lightning bolt was passing through the center of her body from head to toe and she floated up from the ground. She somehow managed to avoid letting go of her Shining Weapon rapier, but the solid hit had left her limp. If she had not had the thick trunk of a half-burned tree to lean on, she probably would have fallen onto her butt.
The large axe man showed no mercy.
He whispered in an even deeper voice while pushing Boo Boo back.
“Alpha Eight, barrel. Alpha Nine, shell. Alpha Twelve, sight.”
“Wait…is he commanding them!? Is he messing with the shared settings of their Shining Weapons to manage…no, combine their group Magic!?”
“Data link established. Begin combined action.”
Electricity surrounded a giant pillar of steel as it rushed toward Boo Boo’s belly.
Multiple Elements of Magic had been combined to create this extraordinary fortress-breaking railgun.
That giant body spun into the air, flew in a tailspin, and smashed into the ground without being able to soften the impact. And yet that had not been a direct hit; he had to have diverted it a bit with this Shining Weapon. The deflected shell tore into the slope of a distant mountain and blew it away.
“Hm. According to our calculations, that should have obliterated the entire island, but it seems I was right that an artificial one cannot match the ideal specs. We need to make some adjustments to its sturdiness.”
“None of us can hope to match you, Omega.” Arrogant Alpha Zero sounded more like an obedient butler now. “Back when you were alive really was the world’s golden age. Everything got so much more boring after your untimely death.”
The girl’s voice was trembling as she ran over to Boo Boo who lay bloody on the ground.
If the Holy Swordswoman’s prediction was correct, this man was the husband who had exchanged vows with Demon Lord Tselika. He would be the young man who had built the inn town, approached human and Nonhuman alike, and fell in love with that demon lord.
It was true that Skeleton had said he was from the time of the Cold War and that he was from the West.
But even so, she simply could not believe it.
“Does that mean…does that mean you were from Elkiad, too!?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, little girl.”
But the old soldier rebuked her.
“It is the height of disrespect to say that hero was the same as us,” said Alpha Zero. “He is a true hero who experienced true war and he is a fierce commander who singlehandedly maintained the value of our peace-dulled allied nation. You could call him a role model for soldiers everywhere. We might view him as one of us out of respect, but that is only a one-sided addition on our part. That is why we have no numbering for Omega. We only need the one hero and it is unthinkable to place ourselves alongside him.”
“A military’s overall war potential takes into account their personnel, intelligence, resources, techniques, weapons, etc. We were all unified under the same standards, so there is no point in discussing the abilities of any one individual.”
“Your words are too much for the likes of us, sir. But if you would allow me to pathetically defend my position, I have just one thing to say: An optimized standard could never teach others to do what you do.”
Beatrice felt dizzy.
This was more than just him belonging to Elkiad. Elkiad had been formed in order to mimic him. Someone might behave differently at work and in their private life, but this was too far removed from the impression she had gotten from Demon Lord Tselika and the Skeleton.
“It doesn’t matter who you are… Squeal. If you insist on turning your blade on someone I care for and destroying somewhere I want to protect, then you’re my enemy.”
“Exactly.” The hero calmly nodded while swinging around an axe taller than he was as lightly as if it were a baton. “We only need focus on the moment, on the battle before our eyes. Our positions and situations are entirely void of meaning when faced with a fight to the death.”
Battered Boo Boo desperately worked to stand up and the man known as Omega showed no mercy. He took a large step forward and raised the giant axe as if crushing his opponent with all his might were the polite thing to do.
Boo Boo should have been helpless.
Neither he nor Beatrice should have been able to hold back that fierce attack.
But the Iberian Orc was not split in half starting from the head.
Something intervened before that happened.
“Hello, you two. You hadn’t forgotten this old lady-killer, had you?”
The collision of two thick blades produced a deafening clang. One was Omega’s great axe, but the other was an equally-large axe. However, it was made of a different substance. It was a horrifically sinister axe made from a complex combination of many human bones.
The large muscular man held the former and a Skeleton in a cowboy hat held the latter.
Their appearances clashed horribly, but they locked blades like they were mirror images.
“In an instant-death fantasy world, the addition or removal of a single enemy or ally – even if they’re a lowly grunt or green rookie – can cause one side or the other to entirely collapse. So I’m not going to hold back as I strengthen this side.”
“They’re…the same? But wait. Then which one has his soul!?”
“Think about it rationally, young lady. If the Underworld could suck up and use every last dead soul that appeared in Ground’s Nir, there are some things that wouldn’t make any sense. What about Vampire Kallikantzaros? If every dead soul went to the Underworld without exception, she wouldn’t gain anything from sucking blood.”
“Now that you mention it. But if that’s true…”
“The Underworld can absorb dead souls, but not if they’re modified by a special contract or curse. And there’s another piece of evidence supporting that theory. A pretty major one at that,” responded the cowboy hat Skeleton. “I’m talking about the Iberian Orcs. If everyone from that destroyed village attacked at once, we would’ve reached checkmate long before now.”
“But that hasn’t happened. Why not? It’s simple: Boo Boo’s Shining Weapon. The souls were digitized and sealed in there, so the Underworld couldn’t absorb them. …Although that means it’s possible the Underworld made this direct attack in order to retrieve their property.”
In that case, was the Skeleton the proper partner of Demon Lord Tselika?
He had a large red jewel on his cowboy hat. It was a Philosopher’s Stone and it was that stone’s power that gave the Skeleton his sense of self. If it contained his soul just like Boo Boo’s Shining Weapon…
“You imposter. You sure talk a lot for not having a tongue.”
“Ha ha. That’s what I thought. If I was in your position, I probably couldn’t stay silent either. Did you throw out your pride and obey the Underworld so you could reach the island and find me?”
Beatrice frowned at Omega and the Skeleton’s words.
And then she received the direct answer.
“You’re no more than a copy using that Philosopher’s Stone’s processing power to simulate my personality. It sickens me to think something sewn together from corpses claims to be Tselika’s husband.”
“Yeah, it probably does. I am Skull Wave, a talking grave pieced together from a lost ideal so the living could spend more time with the dead. But if the real one’s soul has rotted enough to become such a piece of shit, then I really don’t think I can let my wife see the real thing. Don’t you agree, Mr. Omega?”
Beatrice was not the only one to reenter Ground’s Nir.
“Onee-sama, over here!”
Noble Dancer Rusalka wore a black leotard with armor added in places and Summon Hunter Gruagach wore dark blue mourning clothes with a veil over her face. The blonde girls exited from separate Gates, fought and beat back the giant spider-crab fusion monsters, avoided the Black Labyrinth as much as possible, and successfully regrouped here.
They were relatively free to act when compared to Filinion and Armelina who had gone to the Detached Magic Palace first. When the police officer had sent out the emergency signal, they had been forced to enter Ground’s Nir from Tokyo and Kobe.
It was midday on earth, but the other world had slight differences in planetary rotation and gravity. Those small differences added up, so it was nearly sunset. Vampire Kallikantzaros would be leaving her coffin soon.
They were on a small hill overlooking the inn town, but the town was in a horrific state. Black smoke and clouds of dust were rising into the air and the entire area was covered in passageways that looked like mysterious black tunnels. Even if they kept the original street layout in mind, they would only get lost and driven into countless blind spots and dead ends. The place was even more sinister than the war-torn areas seen on the news.
“I hope everyone else wasn’t trapped in Tokyo and managed to Sign In. Including Wildefrau and Huldra…”
“Mh. What is with that scrawny mole guy? I will protect you, Onee-sama!”
“Don’t be like that, Rusalka. She’s Alchemist Cheerleader Huldra when she’s here.”
The government had to know where the Gates were and humans could only remain active here for a few days. If they did not settle the Underworld issue in that time, they would be arrested once they Signed Out.
The conditions were even stricter than the usual Labyrinth exploration.
There was no time to spare, so what was it they needed to do?
“We can’t board the Underworld unless we push back the dead troops that have invaded the island. And we can’t solve the fundamental problem without doing something about the Underworld itself.”
“The crucial key to this has to be the Break News due to their extraordinary power. Since dead souls belong to the Underworld, we can’t let even one of them die. This might sound overly dry, but the resolution will be delayed for each ‘piece’ on the board that is taken. And since we have a time limit for staying here, that would be devastating for us.”
“In other words, we have to find out where all the Break News are on the island and support them where necessary to turn things around. Right, Onee-sama!?”
At times like this, it helped to have the Student Council President who had led the Religious Society. She might look docile, but she was quite skilled at analyzing the situation and supplying a simple objective.
Merely being correct was not enough.
Explaining it simply and increasing the other person’s understanding would increase their motivation.
And a few Break News could be seen fighting from where they were. Giant butterfly wings were breaking apart and scattering a toxic red mist in the inn town and two enormous dragons were grappling and firing water and flame dragon breaths at each other in the sky above. Those paradoxes with a soul were generally uncontrollable and did not grow attached to humans, but they would take defensive action if an external threat was overrunning their territory.
“Wh-where should we start?”
Rusalka looked overwhelmed and tapped her index fingers together in front of her small chest, so she was probably in a similar mental state to someone given too many options too choose from at a store.
Gruagach narrowed down their plans to something simple.
“We start with the Thousand Dragon. We have no way of approaching Sutriona inside that toxic mist and, if we can help the Thousand Dragon recover, she should help us support the others with aerial bombings that don’t require getting close.”
“Roger! You really are the best, Onee-sama!!”
Of course, a human couldn’t exactly fly up to reach a giant Dragon soaring through the heavens, but there was one thing to keep in mind: The Thousand Dragon had a will of her own and could be communicated with. If they could not fly into the sky, they just had to get her to approach the ground.
Rusalka held a scythe with a circular blade that made it resemble the number 9. Gruagach held a large bow with close-range blades and a stabilizer. They were cutting it close with sunset so soon, but they managed to reflect the sunlight. When the flying black Dragon noticed, she rapidly descended.
Instead of grabbing them with her wings or claws, she used the power of the air to launch them up.
It was a lot like riding an aircushion. The two girls felt like dustballs in the wind as the Thousand Dragon subtly adjusted her position to catch them on her gargantuan back.
Rusalka was in a bad mood as soon as she landed in a sitting position.
“You stupid dragon!! How dare you blow Onee-sama’s skirt up like that! Oh, poor Onee-sama! It was like an umbrella during a typhoon!! But, Onee-sama, was that leather I saw below there…?”
“R-Rusalka, please don’t rub salt in the wound…”
Gruagach blushed behind the veil and hung her head, but this was no time to get dragged down by her past failure.
“Wow, look at that, Onee-sama.”
“…Incredible. It’s almost like rotting fruit.”
When looking down from above, they had an excellent view of the Black Labyrinth being laid out by the spider-crab fusions. It already covered a third of the island and was quickly approaching a half. Plus, it seemed the Underworld Lord was aiming to invade the earth. From that viewpoint, it was frightening how the black threads were gradually approaching the Great Plate Plain where so many of the Gates were concentrated.
Also, the Thousand Dragon was still fighting. She was being pursued by a silver form that matched her 1000 meters. After the recklessly rapid descent, she flapped her wings to break through the clouds. Rusalka was a Wind expert, but without the help of her Magic, they would have been exposed to such great pressure in the blink of an eye that the oxygen in their blood would have collapsed much like altitude sickness.
Everyone was in danger, but they could not move freely until they eliminated the more direct threat. Gruagach elegantly held the hat and skirt of her mourning clothes while thinking about their pursuer.
“Is that a Dragon…? No, is it a contraption built to look like one!?”
“Mh. There are a bunch of little Fairies clinging to it.”
“You can see them?”
“Don’t underestimate the kinetic vision of a dancer who spins around all the time!”
Rusalka gave a small snort of pride, so she could probably be trusted in this.
In that case…
“I see. Fairies excel at Craft skills, so their ghosts must have worked together to build an Architecture Dragon from the ground up.”
“Let’s tear it apart and get the Thousand Dragon helping elsewhere. Her aerial bombing would probably be really useful…whoa!?”
Their footing suddenly shook violently. Rusalka and Gruagach could not understand it since it was outside the audible range of human hearing, but it looked like the 1000m Dragon was throwing a fit. Just like a baby shaking its head in protest.
“Wah…oh!? What the hell is she doing!?”
“Hmm, she might know those Fairies.”
In that case, it would be cruel to just start attacking them. They realized that the Thousand Dragon was only holding the other Dragon in check and running away. She did not seem to be starting a serious fight to the death.
“Hey, Thousand Dragon?”
She had no idea if her voice could reach, but Gruagach put on her best smile to help calm down the Dragon.
“Since they’re the pawns of the Underworld, killing them simply means returning them there. So you can beat them to a pulp and put off making a real decision without having to worry about anything.”
“Eeeeek!? It’s Onee-sama’s occasional S siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide!?”
No matter what anyone said, the decision was Gruagach’s to make.
The intense Student Council President gave an order.
“S-sure. …Even after meeting people like Wildefrau and Armelina, there’s no one as scary as you when you get serious…”
The Noble Dancer, whose long blonde ponytail formed a ringlet curl, pouted her lips while obediently fulfilling her role. She raised the 9-shaped round-blade scythe, activated the Shining Weapon, and selected some Magic.
Right now, she did not need a homing bullet or a vacuum blade that could fell a large tree.
No matter how gigantic their opponent was, it was clearly gaining lift by slicing through the air. Rusalka could directly control the air with her Wind magic, so she was the worst possible opponent for it.
“You might as well drop it on the inn town to support Sutriona.”
“Umm, air pressure manipulation? Okay, Downburst!!”
It was like a fighter jet stalling.
With a blast of wind, the silver Architecture Dragon lost the power keeping it airborne and began to tilt. From there, it was straight down. The giant contraption fell in a tailspin with its head pointed down. No matter how much it flapped its wings, it could not obtain any lift.