City Series:Volume2 Chapter 7
Chapter 7: Blissful Death
The Savoy Hotel was far from silent.
The alarm Fir had activated filled it with hysteric noise.
It pierced through and echoed off the entire building, gathered in the lobby, and finally reached Ralf’s ears.
“What a racket.”
He gave a sigh after finishing off his fleeing prey. He shook his head to loosen up his shoulders and Overlossed the rifle in his left hand. He grabbed a shotgun instead.
Finally, he took a step from the center of the lobby.
He made his way to the hallway leading to the Savoy’s first floor. More accurately, he made his way to the fire shutter blocking the way.
He used his real left arm to swap out the shotgun’s magazine.
“There’s no point in running, you know?”
He cocked it with one arm. After sending the first round to the chamber, he opened the magazine and loaded another round. He swung the gun to close the magazine and aim at the shutter with a single smooth motion.
With a loud gunshot, several small holes appeared in the pure white shutter.
He nodded and took a few steps back. He lightly swung the shotgun forward and back to cock it. The used cartridge was ejected and fell to the floor where it scorched the carpet.
Another gunshot rang out.
Another group of holes appeared like a swarm of ants, but over a wider area this time.
Without a pause, he cocked it again and fired the final shot.
He Overlossed the shotgun at the same time and held a submachine gun in his left hand instead. He fired it.
The bullets had less penetrative power, but when they struck the fire shutter, they connected and widened the previous holes until they became a single large hole.
The alarm grew even louder.
Ralf ignored it, slipped through the hole in the shutter, and looked around.
“Where did she run off to?”
He needlessly spoke his question aloud and pushed his sunglasses up his nose. Beyond the round black lenses, his blue eyes looked to the floor. His gaze was sharp and still.
The thick Savoy carpet clearly told him where his target had run.
He turned toward the dining hall.
After looking at the glass door from the side and entering, he found a large open space.
The dining hall was actually a world-famous English restaurant known as Simpson’s. A tie was required when dining there and it had the formality and ambiance to match.
Of course, no one was eating there now.
The wooden tables, wooden chairs, lace tablecloths, and everything else were covered with the scorch marks of Ashing.
Ralf had killed and destroyed everything here.
“The roast beef was pretty good, but just that’s not enough.”
While giving a completely different comment from the day before yesterday, he looked around the half-ruined restaurant. He searched for his target. He Overrode behind the tables, beyond the decorative plants, on the other side of the curtains, and everywhere else as he searched.
He could not find her.
He frowned, but then he heard a noise.
It came from the kitchen in the back of the restaurant. It sounded like something small falling over.
It was enough of a sound to warrant walking that way.
He pulled out the submachine gun magazine and threw it aside. He pulled a new one from his pocket and slammed it in. His eyes were trained on the kitchen the entire time.
He started walking as soon as the magazine clicked into place. The bottom of his minister’s clothing fluttered behind him.
After a few steps, he reached the counter between restaurant and counter.
The kitchen beyond the counter was large. Just to be safe, he took a step back and walked from left to right along the counter.
Once he reached the open door, he twisted his head to loosen his shoulders again. He continued doing it for a while but finally Overlossed his action and continued on.
He took a breath and quickly entered the kitchen.
He moved silently, pressed his back against the wall next to the door, and searched for his enemy. He could see past the kitchen counter on the right, but not the one on the left.
He saw no sign of anyone.
But then he heard another noise.
He looked over and saw an open door in the back of the kitchen that led to the back entrance. The wind or something was moving the door enough to tap against the wall. That was the small sound he had heard before and what had led him to enter the kitchen.
…Did she get away!?
He briefly wondered if he had been led here and subconsciously started walking between the two counters.
But then he saw something odd as the door moved.
It was a cat.
He guessed it was a pet of one of the guests he had killed because he saw a Siamese cat with black paws. It was playing with the door by pushing it into the wall.
He had not seen it before because the kitchen counter had been in the way.
He reflexively aimed his gun at it and smiled bitterly.
“What a cute trap.”
Had his target thought this cat would distract him with the noise?
He lightly poked at his head with the grip of the submachine gun in his left hand.
He started to take another step but suddenly stopped.
His eyes were focused on the door the cat pushed with its front paws. He stared at the metal door.
The door was polished like a mirror and it reflected the kitchen from an angle he could not see. It showed the area behind the left kitchen counter.
The large door reflected a blue form.
The reflection was far from perfect, but he recognized it. It was the Scotland Yard uniform worn by the girl who had escaped down the hallway. There was no mistaking it.
He Closed his feelings so she would not notice. Instead, he made a smile so large even he noticed.
He must have surprised the cat because it stopped pushing on the door and moved away. It looked afraid and it escaped to Ralf’s right with its fur standing on end.
He did not pursue the cat.
He held the submachine gun in his left arm and made his way to the left kitchen counter.
He moved in an instant.
He jumped up on the counter, aimed at the corner she was hiding behind, and pulled the trigger.
He fired again and again.
Shell cases flew and smoke scattered from the gun while wood splinters and metal fragments burst from the counter. Even if it was only a submachine gun, it could still pierce a two centimeter steel panel at close range. The bullets half-destroyed the counter and turned what hid behind it into red pieces.
The scattering tempo was eight per second. The music ended after just over two seconds.
Ralf immediately threw away the magazine and loaded the next.
Meanwhile, the blue uniform was thrown from behind the counter and into the wall. He looked to see her Ash…except she did not.
The blue uniform came apart and he saw its contents roll out.
It was filled with hunks of flesh.
However, the body wearing the uniform had something it should not have.
A femur grew from the top of the white and red flesh like a head.
“It can’t be!” he shouted.
At the same time, he heard a sharp voice from his right.
“Freeze! I’ll blow your head off!”
He moved just his eyes to look over.
He found the girl pointing a handgun at him from behind the right kitchen counter. Her naked upper body stuck up above the counter and held the gun.
“Sorry, but everything in the uniform was edible meat.”
“Hm. But I didn’t see anyone back there before…”
He did not avoid looking at Fir’s body.
“Was that cat you? Come to think of it, I feel like I’ve seen it before.”
“That’s right. We met in St. James’s Park.”
“Oh, that’s right. That’s right.”
He nodded and seemed oddly calm.
The girl aiming a gun at him blatantly frowned at his attitude.
“At any rate, put down that dangerous thing you’re holding there. Don’t try to shoot because I’ll be faster. Yours is in your left hand after all.”
“I see the Yard makes up for not using guns by knowing how to handle an armed opponent.”
He smiled bitterly.
“But it doesn’t go beyond that.”
She grew more defensive and he laughed.
“Did you not notice I haven’t Overridden my right arm this whole time?”
She stared at him as his body appeared more clearly.
There was nothing inside his right sleeve. The false arm he had shown off on the terrace was gone.
His gaze turned to the kitchen entrance he had used.
The girl looked there too.
“It seems setting up this trick paid off.”
He focused on the kitchen entrance.
At some point his metal right arm had appeared on the floor there.
It held a rifle. Its aim was not perfect, but it was pointed at his final target.
“Crap!” shouted the girl.
Ralf’s face twisted into a slight smile.
And he Opened a powerful Task.
The false arm reacted to his will and moved.
It squeezed the trigger and fired.
The girl’s white naked body was blown away. She was knocked into the air and slammed into the wall. She knocked kitchen tools to the floor and collapsed.
The bullet had not been fatal, but it had torn into her side.
Regardless, it was still a serious wound.
Ralf looked down on the silent girl from atop the counter.
Her blood pooled on the cement kitchen floor. Her white skin and scarlet blood contrasted each other nicely and seemed to give off a scent.
She was no longer moving. The shock may have knocked her out.
“You put up a good fight, just like a final target should.”
With that, he jumped down from the counter, started toward his false arm by the entrance, and sighed.
“In the end, there’s no one to save you in times like this.”
He picked up his false arm and slowly stuck it into his right sleeve. He gently closed his eyes and attached it as if twisting his shoulder.
After a metallic sound, the contents of his right sleeve moved.
Satisfied by the sensation, he aimed the rifle still held by the false right arm. This time, his aim was accurate. He targeted her head.
His eyebrows twisted a bit and he silently tightened his grip on the trigger.
But just before he pulled it, an impossible voice stopped him.
“Don’t give in like that, holy man.”
The voice came from the restaurant beyond the kitchen entrance.
He turned around and saw someone who should not have been there.
He saw the target he had only just killed. He saw the man known as the Inspector.
Amon and Klausl ran.
They had reached Westminster Cathedral.
They ran across the open area the bazaar had been held in, passed through the main entrance that sat wide open despite the late hour, and ran down the hallway to the sanctuary.
They did not have much time left and it was all over if they did not make it.
Amon cursed his lack of wings.
If he had them, he could move more quickly and he would have the power to fight as a demon.
He felt that he was still a hindrance to himself.
“Amon, what is it?” asked Klausl.
He turned toward her and found her running alongside him with her usual expression.
She was a bit out of breath and she smiled at him.
“It’ll be okay. Let’s do our best!”
He smiled bitterly at her words and faced forward. They were approaching the door to the sanctuary.
He had a feeling that he would reach the conclusion of it all beyond that door.
Would it be death?
…Will it really?
It was very unlike him to question death like that.
To find the answer, he kicked open the wooden door in front of him. There was little resistance, so it flew open with a solid sound.
A large space welcomed him in.
The atmosphere was very different from during the day. The dark dome contained a deep dark pressure. It was a cloudy night, so no light entered through the skylights.
At the center of the candlelit sanctuary was a large hole that looked like a bottomless pit. Two giant chains rose from its depths.
Beyond the hole was the sanctuary’s altar. The altar was dyed slightly red by the candles’ flames and a man sat on it.
It was Valeath.
He held a drawn sword that shined in the candlelight.
“So you’re here.”
When he saw Amon, he slowly stood. He moved silently, but the presence accompanying the motion carried an impact on the level of the earth shaking.
Amon received Valeath’s presence head on. He also shouted back to deflect that presence.
“Why do you want to bring down heaven!?”
Valeath looked upwards without answering the question. Amon followed suit and looked to the sanctuary ceiling.
He saw the large hanging bell and the hammer to hit it.
The hammer glowed red in the candlelight and it had a strange machine attached.
It was the size of a human head and it had vacuum tubes, cords, and a strange antenna. Overall, it somewhat resembled a flower. Like vines, the cords extending from it continued straight down with the chains and vanished into the darkness.
Valeath and Amon both lowered their raised heads and their gazes met.
Amon was directly pushed back by the other man’s murderous aura, but someone supported him from behind. It was Klausl.
“It’ll be okay.”
As she spoke those quiet words, the floor began to shake.
“Amon! The chain!”
He looked in the direction she indicated and saw the thick chain connecting the hole to the ceiling beginning to move down. The series of ellipses large enough for him to pass through clearly picked up speed as it moved further and further down.
“It is almost midnight. It is time for the Babel Cannon to be fired.”
The sounds of the pipe organ and the bell would reverberate through the deep pit. The resultant sound would grow as the voices of London’s monsters resonated with it and it would all be fired toward heaven.
Millions of monsters’ voices would be concentrated into a single blast to destroy the chapter title pages protecting heaven.
Heaven would then lose its balance and fall down on London.
“Once the bell rings twelve times, London will be destroyed. And in exchange, the knowledge of heaven will escape to the human world.”
Amon listened to Valeath and looked up at the hammer on the ceiling. The metal device slowly moved according to the movement of the chains. It gradually pulled back and built up power.
“If the bell rings twelve times, it means London and I have lost. That’s a lot of responsibility.”
As he spoke, Amon moved his legs to circle around on the right and toward Valeath. He heard Klausl’s footsteps following him. They gave him an odd sense of calm.
…It’ll be okay, hm?
He Opened that thought so she could read it. He kept his eyes on Valeath and tensed his body. He snapped his suspenders with his fingers and created a rhythm.
He detected an odd scent.
It did not belong in this building. The sanctuary only smelled of stone, of the night air, and faintly of machinery, but a scent he knew all too well mixed in.
It was the smell of alcohol.
“It can’t be!”
He quickly stopped and turned around. He was a little panicked because this smell of alcohol was mixed with the fragrance of blood.
His gaze moved past Klausl and to the sanctuary entrance.
Something strange appeared there.
It looked like a person, but not quite. Its right arm ended partway down and looked like something had bitten it off. Its head lay on its side.
It was Moyla.
Her face was completely unrecognizable. Her head was twisted perpendicular to the floor, the front looked like a peeled tomato, and it looked like it could fall off at any moment with how much it shook with her movement.
Either from the wine spilled from the bottles or some other liquid, her dress was stained pure red.
“She can still move!?”
Amon shouted out with pure revulsion in his voice and the bell rang.
The great noise was accompanied by deep music bursting from underground.
The noise was intense.
The wave of sound could easily be called a physical impact.
As if that had been her cue, Moyla ran straight forward.
She made no wasted movement. Most of her body had been destroyed, but her feet kicked solidly off the floor and brought her to Amon and Klausl.
She was fast.
Amon, the primary cause of her injuries, grimaced.
“Geh. This is pretty bad.”
The bell rang again.
A moment later, Moyla jumped toward him. Heavy with a variety of liquids, her dress waved behind her.
She flew quickly through the air.
Amon tugged on Klausl’s hand and escaped along the hole’s railing. A red flower landed on the spot he had just vacated and a chop of the hand smashed the railing in a spectacular fashion.
The sound was great enough to be heard over the bell.
The sound must have scared Klausl because she frantically ran alongside Amon.
“That was intense.”
“Don’t point out the obvious.”
The two of them moved back and turned the corner. The straightaway felt long, but they were just one corner away from where Valeath was.
The bell rang for a third time.
Klausl looked up at Amon with her brow furrowed worriedly.
He tried to decide what expression to give her, but finally Opened a thought.
…We’ve got to do something, don’t we?
Now he was pointing out the obvious, but she nodded and the two continued to flee.
Moyla pursued with long strides.
Pulled by Amon’s hand, Klausl reached into her apron skirt as if searching for something.
“Hey! What are you doing!?”
Just as he shouted at her, the bell rang for the fourth time. Moyla charged headfirst toward them as if driven on by the sound.
Amon reached for Klausl and tried to pull her toward him, but she looked over her shoulder at him. She gave a closed-eyed smile as if telling him not to worry.
“Hey!” he shouted in surprise.
In that instant, Moyla’s shoulder collided with Klausl.
The slender back in front of Amon’s eyes bent and the blonde hair flew through the air. A complex metallic sound passed from inside her body and out her back.
It was a sound of destruction.
What had caused it?
That was simple.
He could tell at a glance. Moyla’s left hand had pierced through Klausl’s back. That was all.
The red-nailed fingers were surrounded by wires and small gears. Those were the parts that made up Klausl.
Amon opened his mouth wide and tried to shout something, but he only managed to inhale and no voice came out.
The bell rang for the fifth time.
Klausl moved a little in front of Amon. Her slender arms wrapped around Moyla’s body.
He saw a match in her hand. It was a waterproof match used for cooking.
“You mustn’t let yourself smell of alcohol.”
Her trembling voice spoke kindly to Moyla and lightly struck the match. Even amid the din of the bell and pipe organ, the quiet scraping sounded clearly in Amon’s ears.
The sound briefly hung in the air, a flame lit, and a soft aroma filled the area. It was a sweet aroma often smelled when cooking. It was the aroma of meat cooked in wine.
Moyla’s entire body was immediately enveloped in flames.
The back of the burning red dress jumped up.
The flames rose along her entire body, her head, and her mangled face.
She pushed at Klausl’s arms, let out a wordless cry as if afraid of the flames, and swung her body around.
Klausl was removed from her, starting with the left arm.
The bell rang for the sixth time.
Klausl leaned back against the railing and just barely managed to remain standing.
Moyla seemed to perform a crazed dance next to her.
The dead could not feel pain, but the nerves controlling her muscles still functioned. Burning her body caused those nerves to burst and she lost control of her body.
Her sickly white skin turned to keloids which then burned away along with her other wounds.
Her right arm ended at the elbow and her left arm was wrapped in flames, but they both moved as if swimming to gather in air. Her lungs must have been burning. The arms pounded on and broke the railing.
Now nothing supported her.
But as she became a mass of flames, she walked aimlessly forward and seemed to beg for air.
The bell rang for the seventh time.
Her foot stepped out past the edge of the hole.
As if called by the sound of the bell, she collapsed forward. Her arms and legs seemed to be swimming as she fell into the abyss. She fell into the hole that produced the pipe organ music.
As a flower illuminating the darkness, she slipped down.
For a while, an unpleasant sound of something being chewed to pieces came from far below.
That may have been why the eighth ring of the bell seemed somewhat hesitant and awkward.
Klausl stared down there. She supported herself on the railing while looking down to the bottom of the hole.
Amon held her in his arms and supported her.
He held her tight as she could not stand due to the hole in her gut.
And he cried her name.
She looked up at him with her eyes still closed.
As a doll she may not have felt pain because her expression was the same as always. However, her clothing was scorched by flames and covered in Moyla’s drying blood.
Worst of all was the gaping hole from her stomach to back. Wires and chains dangled down from it, something like mercury dripped down like raindrops, and small nuts sprinkled out.
The shaft that acted as her backbone seemed to have broken, so everything below her waist was unsteady and swayed just like a doll.
She felt sadly fragile in his arms.
He tried to say something, but stopped when her hand touched his cheek.
“You finally called my name.”
His lips trembled.
“Please don’t apologize,” she said.
He swallowed the words.
After a short delay, the bell rang for the ninth time.
“I decided on my own to do this for you. It would be too tragic if you apologized.”
She smiled just as all strength left her lower body. The full weight of the doll filled his arms.
The end was near, but she did not stop speaking.
“I’m worried about you. You always blame yourself for everything.”
“You try to act cold and push others away, but you still get so desperate when something happens to me.”
Her hands grabbed his right arm.
He was confused, but he did not fight it. He reached his right hand in the direction she led it.
His hand touched the hole in her stomach. He felt the soft and warm skin inside her torn clothing and then his hand began to enter her body.
He wrapped his left arm around her back and she wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight as if embracing him.
The next thing he knew, his right hand had entered her body through the hole in her stomach.
His hand slowly buried itself in that manmade body.
First just the fingers and then up to the wrist.
She gasped as he moved his fingers and she pressed her body into his arm.
A metal component touched his fingers. It was not cold. It was a hard object with an almost damp warmth to it. He guessed it was a rim.
But that was not what he was looking for.
He reached further inside her.
A quick tremor ran through her body.
“Does it hurt?”
“Deep in my stomach…I felt… No, don’t worry about it. Keep going.”
He silently nodded.
Sometimes he came across something wet and sometimes he came across something sharp and he searched through her body. He lifted his hand inside her stomach, scraped along the inside of her ribs, and moved toward the chest.
By that time, his arm was in up to the elbow.
Each time he touched a component, she would let out a small breath, but it only lasted a moment.
Just as the bell rang for the tenth time, strength filled her hands.
Her face flushed all the way to the ears and she clawed at his jacket as she endured something and spoke.
“That’s…it. You’re…touching it.”
His hand grabbed the object within the left side of her chest.
“I’ll be taking this.”
She slowly nodded.
With a sound much like spilling coins, he pulled out his right hand.
She pulled back from him as if from recoil and grabbed the railing behind her again. She then raised her head and forced a smile.
The smile on her slightly flushed face looked somehow satisfied.
He looked at her face and then down at what he had pulled from her body.
He held the red gear said to be her heart.
She may not have been able to speak any longer because she faced him and asked an Opened question.
…How strange. Why am I smiling?
He was taken aback by her voice and slight smile.
This was the same situation as in his nightmares. It was the same smile he had seen on his mother and Eilen.
…How can you smile? What are you trying to say?
Had she seen his question? She gave him the biggest smile he had ever seen and replied with her own words.
…See you…again someday.
She threw herself backwards and fell down as if pursuing Moyla.
Amon stretched out his hand, but he could not reach her.
His yell did not reach her either. All that remained was the gear in his right hand and…
Valeath’s voice reached him from directly behind.
Amon began to turn toward the man who had approached at some point.
Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw a silver arc filled with intent to kill.
Ralf stopped trying to kill the girl and entered the restaurant.
“You weren’t dead? But I shot four times in the limbs and cleanly blew off your head.”
“The world is a tricky place.”
The Inspector was elegantly drinking wine at a table and chair that had escaped destruction. He drank the wine from a water glass he must have found on the floor.
“Yes, Savoy’s Simpson’s really is the best. This is French, isn’t it?”
The bottle had lost its top half, but he picked it up and tried to read the label as he took another sip from the glass.
Ralf silently approached and aimed his gun at the man from a few steps away.
“I will make sure to kill you this time. …I won’t spare you even if you beg.”
“No, probably not. You really seem to hate monsters.”
“What’s wrong with hunting monsters? It’s a natural punishment. Anything dangerous to mankind must be destroyed.”
“Some probably do say that.”
The Inspector nodded, placed the glass on the table, elegantly crossed his legs, and looked over at Ralf.
“But have you ever felt you were being hunted?”
Ralf’s answer was incredibly easy to understand.
The shock of the blast shook the glass and smoke rose from the gun.
However, one thing did not change.
The Inspector remained sitting in the chair. He had not moved in the slightest.
Ralf quickly loaded the next round and the Inspector gave a quiet announcement.
“You have devoted yourself too much to hatred, sorrowful human. Will you repent?”
Those words stopped Ralf just before he fired again. This gunman had never hesitated in his hunt, so it meant a lot for him to pause.
But he did continue aiming at the Inspector.
“You’re asking me to repent?”
Hearing the Inspector’s low and powerful affirmation, Ralf asked something else.
“And who is going forgive me if I do that?”
The answer was brief.
Another gunshot rang out.
But still nothing changed.
The Inspector remained in the chair. There was no sign of the bullet having hit his body or clothes.
Ralf knew of a being that could do that. Any holy man would know of that being that was referred to with a simple name.
He rejected the word that nearly appeared in his heart. He fully rejected it. Allowing it would make everything he had done meaningless.
He fully Closed his thoughts and held a weapon in each hand. He made the rifle in his right hand vanish and held the submachine gun. He held the shotgun in his left hand.
He then looked to the Inspector and spoke with a slight smile.
“I won’t rely on god.”
“I will determine my own destiny. Even if it ends in failure.”
He turned the two firearms toward the Inspector.
“I couldn’t save the villagers in the past, but they didn’t just let themselves die. They picked up weapons and fought.”
He took a breath.
“I want you to know that so something like that will never happen again!”
Hearing those words, the Inspector stood. He took a step and removed his coat as if swinging it around.
This revealed the back of his suit which slowly swelled out. It continued to swell like something was growing underneath and then it burst.
Ralf looked to the man’s back and saw large white wings that far outshined those of an angel.
“I knew it!”
Ralf cried out and pulled both triggers.
Amon was slammed against the wall. He knew exactly why: he had been hit by that kick again.
He coughed up some blood and shook his foggy head. He cleared his mind and the sound of the bell reached his ears.
This was the eleventh ring of the bell. Once it ended, the chain lowered, and the hammer struck the bell again, the ceremony would be complete.
That ceremony would gather all of the voices in London.
He felt something throbbing in his throat.
It was his own voice.
His voice could hardly wait for the twelfth ring and wanted to burst out of him now.
Just as Ralf had said, the demon Horn used in the Babel Cannon was resonating with his own Horn.
…This isn’t good. For once, I’m actually acting like a demon.
An instant later, a sharp kick from Valeath stabbed into his side. His body floated up into the air a bit, but he withstood it. He did not fall.
The Hound looked at and gave his judgment of the man who had been known as the strongest in his Urban Hero days.
“You can never win if you stay the same as me.”
Amon pressed his heels against the ground in a defensive stance.
Valeath attacked him without delay. The weighty attack sliced through the air and flowed into his next movement. His movements were quick and filled with intent to kill.
That deadly intention was fully Opened and they were the words held by Valeath.
Amon blocked the kick and Valeath’s intent to kill directly shouted at him.
…Why can’t you dodge this!?
He ducked to avoid a sword strike.
…Why won’t you start attacking!?
The attacks overlapped and his words grew more intense. Amon could not catch his breath, so he replied with his own Open Words.
…What’s wrong!? You have no time!
…Shut up, you deadly bastard!
Amon kicked. Valeath raised his leg to block it and shifted into a kick of his own.
…Is that all you have!? You can’t do any more than that!?
Amon did not answer. This meant he could not attack.
But Valeath did. He sent out attack after attack without using his sword. The barrage of blows and kicks carried murderous intent and words into Amon’s body.
…Why!? Why can’t you do any more than this!?
…Can you do nothing more than me!?
…Can you only be the same as me!? Can’t you do anything else!?
A sharp attack came. It was a right kick.
Amon had blocked, but he was knocked through the air and he read Valeath’s words.
These words had more power than any of the others.
…Was I doomed to become what I am no matter how hard I struggled!?
That may have been what Valeath truly thought.
Amon regained his footing on the edge of the hole Moyla had fallen into. He somehow managed to remake his fighting stance.
Valeath also took a fighting stance from a few steps away. But he now raised his sword instead of his fists or legs.
“It is time to end this.”
Amon heard the chain begin to move behind him. It raced downwards while it gradually picked up speed.
…I can’t believe this.
He muttered under his breath in self-deprecation.
“I need to do something.”
He was shocked by his own words.
His mind had grown somewhat unclear, so he Overrode it and his body. That brought the pain back to his body and woke him up.
He spoke the same words again, but this time as a question.
“I need to…do something?”
That meant he wanted to win.
That meant he would break out of this situation.
It meant he did not wish for death.
…Why do I want this?
He suddenly noticed the gear he still held in his right hand.
He recalled the words of the girl who had left it with him.
“See you again someday.”
What had she meant?
He squeezed the gear and closed his eyes.
He thought some words as if speaking to himself.
…Don’t try to show off.
He thought on those words and let out a forceful sigh. He glanced at the large hole behind him.
Why had Klausl thrown herself into that hole?
He felt like he knew the answer.
He tightly squeezed her gear and Opened a thought.
…It’ll be okay.
In the corner of his vision, the chain was approaching its limit.
Valeath was also approaching.
“This ends here!”
A powerful strike came to slice Amon’s torso in two. He had no way of avoiding it.
But he avoided it regardless. He leaped back into the darkness at the bottom of the hole.
“Are you following after your woman!?” shouted Valeath.
Amon twisted in midair, took an upside-down position, and spread his arms.
He resembled an upside-down cross as he fell into the darkness.
Next to him, the chain was moving downwards to gather strength. The hammer on the ceiling had to have started moving too.
But he did not care.
He had a single reason for falling: he wanted to confirm his thought.
He tore through the darkness.
Far below, he saw a faint light. A steam-powered automatic pipe organ was lit by a small torch. And the giant steam-powered machine that moved it emitted a bit of light too.
There were two giant gears directly below Amon. They were larger than water wheels and the two chains were wrapped around them.
The chains moved sharply and the two gears suddenly moved. They were quickly wrapping around to provide the last bit of power for the hammer before they released the chains.
The giant gears rotated as their teeth engaged with each other.
Amon looked to the right gear. Exactly what he was looking for lay on top of it and moved along with the gear’s movement.
He called out its name.
Her metal body was caught in the gap between the two gears and was crushed.
Valeath was the first to notice the change.
The chains had stopped moving.
Even the hammer stopped just before it moved to hit the bell.
The battle was not over yet.
Amon was certain of everything. Klausl had thrown herself into the pit because she had noticed the strange ring of the bell after Moyla fell.
If a human body could do that, what would her metal body do?
She would not die. She would continue to live as long as her heart remained. She had wanted him to handle what came after that.
The gears slowly turned while pressing her body.
He had to win before they fully turned.
He had to win.
Because he held a certain gear in his right hand.
He held his own body in his arms as he fell. If he continued to fall, he would die.
What did he have to do to avoid that and to win?
There was only one answer.
He gathered strength in the arms holding himself and tensed the flesh of his back. He let out a yell as if releasing everything he had been holding inside and enduring.
He remade his body. Just like a beastman, he strongly Tasked himself. He Tasked and Tasked and Tasked.
He Overrode his own form.
Something ran through his body and mind and released everything that had been locked up.
The transformation appeared instantly like a burning flame.
Valeath saw Amon.
He saw the full demon flap its wings in the deep hole and burst out into the candlelight like solidified darkness.
“A demon god!?”
The demon stood tiptoed on the railing and six giant owl wings grew from his back.
These were not the two thin bat wings of a lesser demon. These were wings of a pure demon or a fallen angel and they were filled with a complex pattern.
The wings slowly wrapped around Amon’s body like separate living beings and then forcefully opened.
At the same time, Amon flew toward Valeath. His new wings scattered feathers as he flew forward.
“So you’re coming!?”
Valeath raised his sword and leaped forward to meet Amon.
Valeath was the first to move in midair.
He released his breath just as the silver line raced forward and cut through one of Amon’s wings at the base.
But that was all.
Amon swung a fist down after Valeath’s blade and smashed it from above.
With the sound of shattering glass, the white blade turned to snow.
They both landed.
Valeath had already cast aside the hilt. He approached in a lowered stance and reached Amon in only three steps. His right hand was pulled back for an open-hand jab.
He cried out as he struck and Amon received the blow while turning around. His eyes were still closed and he received it on the left side of his chest.
The sound of impact was dull.
It was the sound of something breaking and it sounded empty, fragile, and even soft.
The man known as the strongest Hound gave a gasp of surprise.
His eyes were trained on Amon’s chest where his hand was buried to the wrist. He stared at it for a while before gasping again.
With a damp sound, he pulled his right hand from the left side of Amon’s chest.
His hand was wet with blood.
But it was not Amon’s blood. His hand had been crushed beyond recognition.
He had poured everything into that strike, but it had been blocked by something. His hand had been smashed by its own destructive force.
“What was that?”
Amon answered that question in a different way. He stuck his hand into the breast pocket of his jacket where Valeath’s hand had stopped and he pulled out a piece of paper.
It was the demon contract Jonathan had left.
The contract now contained Valeath’s handprint. It had a bloody print of his mangled hand.
Valeath drew back and Amon pursued him.
Amon opened his eyes and looked at Valeath. His golden eyes stopped Valeath.
Amon then spoke.
“The contract is complete!”
With a sharp cry, he released his full power.
The light that exploded inside Westminster Cathedral’s sanctuary was pitch black.
It rose with the force of a wild beast and surged toward heaven.
It looked like a reverse waterfall. It was fierce, large, and unstoppable. The cathedral ceiling could not hope to contain it.
The light’s destructive power tore the chains to pieces, smashed the bell, and blew away the brick dome.
The sounds of destruction continued. The broken bricks, metal, bell, and hammer all fell into the abyss never to return. The light swallowed it all and sought even greater heights.
The dark light instantly shot into the sky and broke through the clouds.
It moved fast and rose high.
As soon as it struck the clouds, the light roared. It was the frightening sound of striking a cliff face barehanded. Pushed on by that Task, the clouds covering London’s sky cleared away.
The moon floated in the darkness that seemed to ripple out through the sky.
It was not a full moon and it had shrunk down like a living thing, but it shined with a pale light. It was a cold but refreshing light.
The pitch black light must have been satisfied with that because it mixed with the moonlight, spiraled around, looked like it would shoot in all four directions like a group of dragons, and suddenly vanished.
It looked like a celebration of something.
And with that light, a certain incident came to its end.
In a stupor, Fir heard someone calling her name. It was a nostalgic feeling. She had been woken like this as a kid living on the streets of the prostitution district.
…Fine, fine. I’ll get up.
She Opened her response in a good mood. She slowly opened her eyes, but found a familiar face instead of those old streets.
“Oh, it’s you, Inspector.”
“Have you finally woken?”
Seeing his exasperated behavior, she fully woke.
He propped her up in his arm while she half lay on the floor. What she wore were not her clothes.
She smelled the Inspector’s cologne on the item wrapped around her. It seemed to be his coat, but why was she naked underneath?
She dug through her memories. A lot was missing because she was a Werecat, but she managed to remember it all.
“Inspector, weren’t you dead?”
With that horribly casual comment, she checked her surroundings.
She was in the kitchen. It was the scene of a massacre and the scorch marks of Ashing were just as she remembered.
…But this is odd.
“Isn’t something about this weird?”
“You’re the weirdest one,” said the Inspector with a frown. “Don’t be killing me off in your mind.”
“Quiet. The case is over and you helped quite a bit.”
There was nothing she could do when he said that.
She tilted her head and looked up at his face.
For some reason, he was staring at the restaurant past the kitchen.
“What is it, Inspector? You’re looking sad for once.”
He trailed off before opening his mouth again. He must have decided there was no point in hiding anything from Fir, so he asked her a question.
“Hey, am I a hypocrite?”
Hearing that, she blinked her large eyes in surprise.
“Do you have a fever?”
He blatantly frowned and Fir must have found the expression amusing because she smiled bitterly.
“Just kidding. I’m just kidding. I couldn’t help myself when you said something so weird.”
“Is it that weird?”
“It is, it is. Besides, anyone who asks that about themselves isn’t a hypocrite. They’re what you call…um…”
She paused to choose the right word.
“A coward, I guess.”
He laughed quietly.
As he held her up, Fir felt over her body below the coat.
When he realized what she was doing, he spoke up.
“I didn’t find any injuries on you.”
He sounded like he was hiding something and Fir glared at him.
“You saw me naked, didn’t you?”
“Eh? Oh, well, um… Is that anything to say to the person who saved your- ow, ow, ow, ow!”
He smiled bitterly as she tugged on him, but he was back to his normal self.
Fir breathed a sigh of relief at that and placed a hand on the cement floor to get up.
Her hand touched something.
She picked it up and found it was a single feather.
She assumed it was a chicken feather since this was a kitchen, but it was not. It was longer, it was sharper, and it glowed.
“Inspector… What is this?”
He gave a simple answer to her simple question.
The night sky visible through the broken dome was so clear it seemed to suck one in.
The moon in the center of the dome was a half-moon.
Its moonlight directly and softly illuminated the people inside the sanctuary.
That pale moonlight lit two people. One was Amon who stood with his wings and the other was Valeath who sat on the floor.
“So man truly cannot defeat the monsters…”
Valeath looked up at Amon with a trail of blood dripping from his mouth.
The blood from his mouth joined with the blood spilling from the hole in his stomach and spread across the sanctuary floor.
Based on the amount of blood, it would be stopping soon.
His end was near.
All harshness had left Valeath’s face and he gave a small smile.
“Sorry, but can I ask one thing?”
Amon frowned at the unexpected question, so he asked a question of his own.
“Are you going to sell your soul to me?”
“My soul is already filled with darkness. I already know I can’t escape hell.”
He spat out those words in a definite tone and looked Amon in the eye.
“I want you to call in the soul of a girl.”
He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and used the blood on the floor to write out a contract.
“She is the precious girl who trusted me to the very end.”
Valeath signed the contract, drew a circular emblem, and wrote out the girl’s name.
That was enough for a contract.
Amon took the cloth contract from him and read through it.
He had nothing to say.
The moonlight simply poured kindly down on them.
The feathers that had scattered from Amon’s wings shined in the moonlight as they fluttered through the air.
It was a truly, truly quiet night.
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