Maou na Ore to Fushihime no Yubiwa:Volume 4 Chapter 6
Chapter 6: The Tamer of the Spirits
“… So this means the victor of the 45th ‘hundredth deaths course’ is the dark horse that came from the human world… The contestant Kusumi Manami. Congratulations.”
The contest’s results, whatever… Sure enough, Manami won.
Manami, atop the winner’s podium, received an extra-large trophy.
“… Manami-chan. Amazing. You are historically, the first human winner.”
“Yeah. Once again, we’ve been taught a lesson about that girl’s greatness.”
The buzzing at the venue showed no signs of fading.
Since the ghouls not even in their wildest dreams had thought that a human that entered on the spur of the moment would be the victor.
“By the way, Kyouko, what position did you end in?”
“Me? I was 14th.”
“Quite plain, you…”
“L-leave me alone!”
Thinking about it calmly, I believe that Kyouko achieved 14th place of nearly 600 contestants despite being her first time participating was a good performance, but compared with my sister’s active role, it can’t be seen as anything but plain.
Though in the first place, it’s not like we can talk, forfeiting in the middle.
“… At any rate, that dragon that attacked us on the way… What the heck was it?”
“About that… A while ago, I tried asking management, but… It seems they know nothing.”
“… Is that so?”
So that means, as expected, that that dragon… Though it was unrelated to the race, someone put it there to attack us.
Who was it? For what reason?
The instant that I was thinking those things.
From somewhere at the venue a cry was heard.
I looked to the sound’s source, and.
Aren’t those, a bunch of ghouls with no expression suddenly moving towards us like an avalanche?
Those numbers… A low estimate would be a hundred.
Weird. It’s strange.
The bunch of ghouls looked awfully dispirited, how would I put it… Their gait looked wobbly and their skin was pale. And above all, their eyes didn’t show a shred of life.
And once again something happened that surprised me.
All of a sudden, the lifeless ghouls started one by one attacking the other ghouls.
Holy cow… Am I dreaming?
The attacked ghouls’ gazes too became empty and devoid of life and assaulted other ghouls.
“The ghouls are turning into zombies!?”
Even I think that that unfolding looked like a joke, but even so, I didn’t find any other words to describe what was happening.
“Ghouls turning into zombies… Could it be!?”
“… Zonmi. Do you know something?”
“Long ago, I read it on some documents.
Monster tamers with the particular ability of manipulating the undead and animated corpses—necromancers.
They bestow transient souls on us undead and on other beings’ corpses and can manipulate them as zombies.
But then… monster tamers with the ability as necromancers are so scarce that, even perusing history books, can be counted with a single hand.
Still… If we take that the necromancer was the one controlling the dragon that attacked us before, this impossible scene can be explained.”
“In other words, someone with the ability of a necromancer is picking a fight and attacking us… You mean.”
“Someone… There’s no need to obscure it like that. Since there’s only one group of people we know that wants to harm us.”
Exactly as Zonmi has said, I can only think of one person that holds ill will and would attack us.
The group that commits atrocities; employing monsters—the Black Tamers.
This time, once again… Most probably, this is their doing.
And this time, the opponent we must battle… It’s an unknown necromancer able to control the undead at will.
… If that’s the case, this is pretty bad.
What’s bad… The enemy’s ability shows its max potential at the land of the ghouls.
“!? Zonmi Behind you!”
Suddenly, one zombified ghoul jumped at Zonmi.
I quickly rushed to Zonmi’s side and punched that guy.
“Thank you very much… I was a bit scared right now,”
“… It’s still too soon to be relieved.”
“It seems… We’ve been surrounded before we knew it.
The number of zombified ghouls increased explosively and our surroundings were being filled.
I, Zonmi and Kyouko covered each other backs to get rid of any blind spots.
Well… What do I do?
This situation… How do we get over it?
These guys… One by one, the zombies’ strengths were honestly nothing to fear.
If I was alone, I could forcefully break through upfront… Such action is not impossible, but the problem here is with Zonmi.
Guessing from the situation till now, Zonmi, who is from the undead tribe, will be out with the first attack from the zombies.
A zombie Zonmi… In some sense, at least my sister would rejoice with that development.
Fighting upfront may be too much risky.
“… Humph! Ghouls of lowly standing are reckless fellows for opposing my master.”
Suddenly, a huge flame pillar encircled us all around.
The huge flame pillar situated as if to protect us has power to keep the zombies at bay for about ten minutes.
“Iris!? And moreover… Lilith-san and even Manami!? Have you come to help us!?”
“… Chiharu-sama. I beg your pardon. The ones who have launched this attack, I dare say… It would be the Black Tamers.
I don’t know how they did it, but it seems that they have already found our whereabouts.”
“… Fine, monster tamer. What shall I do?
If that’s what thou wantest, I can turn to ashes in an instant every ghoul here…”
What Iris is saying is true.
Like Zonmi, monsters from the undead tribe are extremely weak to heat.
Even now, we can only talk leisurely like this thanks to the flame pillar that Iris spat out acting as a tough defense wall that’s keeping the zombies at bay.
“… No, let’s not attack them. They are just being controlled by a necromancer. I don’t want to harm unrelated monsters.”
“I agree with Haru. If what the enemy seeks is to use the zombies to engage in a battle of attrition… We’ll be playing into their hand.”
“… There’s something that we must put as top priority.
That is… To guarantee Chiharu-sama’s safety. Since the Black Tamers know our whereabouts, I suggest we part from Living Lodge at once.”
Surely it may be as Lilith-san says.
Even if the Black Tamers do have a reason to attack us, there’s no reason for us to fight the Black Tamers.
If we could avoid fighting without fleeing… That would be the best option.
“Iris… Is it fine with you?”
The problem lies in if Iris will accept…
“… If that’s thy wish, I have no reason to refuse. I’ll leave my revenge against those guysthe Black Tamers for another date.”
“… Is that so? Thanks.”
Compared with the previous incident of the attack at the Grandeel archipelago, Iris mental growth is astounding,
Before, just by hearing the name of the Black Tamers, Iris would have got excited and simply charge into the enemy camp, but… Now she respects our opinions and regards her objective as secondary.
I… am very glad for Iris’s growth.
“So, let’s first do as Lilith-san has said and, for the time being, prioritize leaving this place.
Kyouko and Iris will turn into monsters and carry us. Our destination, right… The port city we arrived at first could do. We’ll think about the detail once we’ve reached there…”
The one who suddenly interrupted my words with a loud shout was Zonmi.
“… I’ve been worrying about it for a while, but I can’t find Aruru and Meruru anywhere. It would be good if they managed to successfully get away, but… I can’t leave this city until I’ve at least confirmed my family’s safety.”
“Ghoul. I understand your feelings, but… Don’t speak selfishly. Have you forgotten our top priority?”
“… I’m very sorry.
Still… Only this I can’t afford to concede. If you have to leave Living Lodge no matter what, leave me behind, please.”
I almost… compelled Zonmi into forsaking her family and fleeing. Moreover… Thinking better now, Putting my own safety first may be an extremely irresponsible choice.
So, what do I do?
Had we never landed at Living Lodge in the first place… This city’s undead may have been right now living peacefully.
“… Yosh, understood. Before departing Living Lodge, let’s return once to Zonmi’s parent’s home.”
“… Chiharu. Is it fine?”
“Yup. If I had to put it in words, speaking truthfully, I too… am against leaving this place. We haven’t persuaded Zonmi’s father yet… We’ve not wrapped up such an important task and I too am worried about Aruru and Meruru.”
“Buu. Oniichan is too soft with the zombies.”
“… Understood. If those are your instructions, Chiharu-sama, I won’t stop you. However, I earnestly ask you to not exceed yourself.”
In any case, the talk is settled.
… At a time like this, it’s reassuring to have monsters that can fly.
We rode onto the transformed Iris & Kyouko’s backs and set off to Zonmi’s parent’s home.
“All troops! Fight from a distance using your spears! Don’t let the mob step inside the castle!”
When we reached the ghoul clan’s castle, which was Zonmi’s parent’s home, Zonmi’s father… Satosu-san, standing upon the fort, while shouting directions to many brawny soldiers, battled the zombified ghouls.
“Father, you're safe!”
“… Zonmi? More than anything, you're safe too.”
Satosu-san, sighing from relief with a face of deep reassurance,
“… You were Chiharu-kun, aren't you? It’s not like I approve of your contract, but… I’m grateful for bringing back my daughter.”
“Thank you very much… That aside, how’s the situation like at the city!?”
“Aah. The situation is plainly the worst.
… Estimating optimistically, short of 30% of the population has been brainwashed by the person that appears to be a necromancer.”
“… Is that so?”
Weird. It makes no sense.
As the enemy’s objective was to manipulate the ghouls to attack us… Was it necessary to brainwash all of the ghouls in the city?
“By the way, Chiharu-kun. Have you seen Aruru and Meruru anywhere?”
“… They haven’t returned to the castle? To tell the truth, we are also looking for them.”
“… Is that so? It would be nice if those children returned safely, but…”
Satosu-san deeply sighed,
“In any case, it’s become troubling. We have to seize that necromancer as soon as possible… The situation has once again turned to the worse.”
“By the way, is there any way to return the zombified people to how they were?”
“… There’s just one.
The necromancer must employ a cane with a unique magic stone mounted on it. In other words, if we could destroy it…”
“Then we could save the civilians?”
As Satosu-san said, to fix the chaos of the situation, it seems that we have to search for the necromancer that’s the mastermind of the incident.
“A—. A—… Kusumi Chiharu. Kusumi Chiharu. I know that you are there.
Do I have to introduce myself? My name is Lance. Lance Patriot. Would saying that I am a necromancer that belongs to the Black Tamers speed up things?”
I looked towards the voice, and.
I could see a boy carrying a megaphone in his left hand instead of on his right one.
“… Darn. As soon as he’s mentioned, he appears besides us?”
I didn’t expect that he would show himself to us so soon…
I’m grateful, but… Despite things going on successfully, I felt a bad presentiment.
Jumping down from the fortress, I confronted the necromancer face to face.
The boy called Lance was quite younger than me… His age was around the first year of middle school, perhaps?
Noelle, with whom I’ve battled before, also looked quite young… The Blacks Tamers perhaps are a group with a surprisingly low average age.
“I‘m the Kusumi Chiharu you’re looking for, but… What do you wish for?”
“… Eeeh. How fast. It seems that your brain works faster than I thought.”
The boy called Lance chuckled.
Why would Lance have brainwashed the ghouls in the city?
At first I thought that it simply was to use them as pieces once it was time to battle, but when I heard Satosu-san’s words, I knew.
The necromancer can voluntarily lift the brainwashing on the ghouls.
In other words, that’s… Putting it another way, the ghouls of the city are hostages.
There’s no reason for the necromancer to not use them as bargaining chips.
“My demand is just for you and me to have a one-on-one peaceful negotiation.
You can just hear me talk while keeping quiet, too. How’s it? It’s easy.”
“… Can I trust your words?”
“I’m not forcing you.
However, if you refuse, as you guess, it can come to the worst conclusion.
Necromancers can freely manipulate the undead… In other words, I have the lives of nearly half of the citizens on my hands.
If you refuse my proposal, those currently under my control… I’ll erase at once the souls of the zombies whose numbers are increasing at an explosive rate even now.”
He’s going to annihilate nearly half of the population?
Surely, I think that that’s impossible.
This guy… Does he truly mean what he’s said?
This city’s… Undead’s lives, does he think of them as bugs?
“… Chiharu. Don’t be fooled by the enemy’s words.
Probably… That’s a bluff. Even if he’s a necromancer, there’s no way he can erase souls.”
“Right, right. If you say you can’t believe me, I don’t mind showing you by killing a zombie.”
Lance laughed fearlessly.
Things have become very bad.
In this situation brought up by Lance, the matter is not if he can erase souls or he can’t.
With the option of trying to actually kill a hostage out of the question, we don’t have any other way to make sure.
The situation… It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it’s the worst.
“… If I accept your demand, will you free all of the hostages?”
“Of course, I promise you. Since I can’t use my full strength while controlling this many zombies. Anyway, when we face each other, I have to do it so I can protect myself.”
“… Understood. I accept your demand.”
“Ha, ha, ha. Nice answer. Then, now… Why don’t you put on this ring?”
“That’s an item called “warp ring”. Using the same principle as summoning, it can transport the wearer to a set place.
Since with two rings, it forms a pair, the moment you equip it we’ll both be warped to the chosen place.
The place I’ve chosen is a snowy mountain a hundred kilometers from here.
Moreover… One more thing. You can be relieved.
Necromancers can control zombies in a radius of ten kilometers at most.
The moment we warp, the brainwashing of the ghouls will be lifted.”
What peaceful negotiation?
The opponent that has been using thoroughly prepared sly moves until now, at this point… There’s no way that he’ll keep that promise. Probably… No, definitely it won’t unfold as a one on one dialogue.
“… Sorry. Zonmi. Everyone.”
Even so… No matter which traps he’s set after that… I can’t let people die before me when their lives are exposed to risk.
I picked up the warp ring that's left on the snow—and put it on.
So, my consciousness instantly faded and the scenery and sounds around me drowned out.
Aah. Could this be what monsters feel each time they are summoned?
“… Chiharu… Chiharu.”
Inside my dim consciousness, I think I heard Zonmi’s voice at the end.
When I got back to my senses, I was in the middle of a snow-covered scenery.
I looked around.
What the heck… It was quite an unexpected development.
For me, the worst case would have been getting summoned inside a gas chamber, or else getting trapped with monsters all around, driven into a corner, that kind of thing was what I was expecting.
Before me right now there’s only Lance, and apparently there doesn’t seem to be any traps.
“With this, good… Just now, I’ve put a summon-prevention barrier around the place. With this neither of us can make a summon. This means it will be a proper one-on-one.”
“You don’t have to be so vigilant.
I can guarantee your life at least until I finish my talk.
To me… I dislike this roundabout behavior, but… Since that was what the boss requested, I can’t bring harm to you.”
“Is that so?”
It certainly seems that what Lance is saying is true.
If Lance truly wanted to kill me, he should have set a trap or two during the warp.
More than anything, from this guy… I can’t feel a shred of any killing intent that says we’ll be putting our lives on the line from now on.
“That boss of yours… Is it Luka?”
“… That’s right. Do I need to explain from the very start?”
Lance nodded slightly with an “of course. So that’s it”,
“Frankly… I don’t give a damn about what happens to other people.
On the contrary, I rejoice on the disgrace of people unrelated to me and, if I say so myself, I’m not one of those who listen to other people’s commands, but… Just her is different. I’m greatly indebted to her. Us Firsts worship her.”
Firsts… Now that he mentions it, Noelle, with whom I fought before, also introduced herself as a First.
Thinking back deeply, I think that the black-suited monster tamer I battled first called himself a Second.
Do those words hide a secret of the Black Tamers?
“… Just a question. You Black Tamers fellows… Weren’t you born, different from me, as total humans? Despite that… How come you can transform into monsters?”
“… Ahaha. To tell the truth, I’ve brought you here to tell you about that. I want you to know about us.
And upon learning it all, I want you to cooperate with the organization. That’s what our boss… Luka-neesan wishes.
Fine. I’ll tell you. Everything about the Black Tamers—“
Lance started his speech like that.
“Are we speaking of around twenty years ago?
The secret society that rules over all of the monster tamers on the human world—the International Monster Association conducted a certain research. If we go to the bottom of it, we could call that research the roots of the Black Tamers.”
“… A certain research?”
What the heck.
If what he says is correct… Does it mean that the Black Tamers were originally a part from the IMA?
“Creating manmade monster tamers.
Even now, that’s only known to the IMA’s top brass… To them that’s the biggest taboo.”
“… Surely only humans can be born with the ability to be monster tamers. So I think they surely conducted the research in order to compensate for the chronic deficiency in the number of monster tamers.
But, you, know?… In her case, they had a problem doing that.
Do you know what’s the basic difference between monster tamers and other humans?
That’s… Putting it simply, they possess from birth, magic power generating cells… It comes to that. If they don’t exist, no matter what special training you put them under, they can’t become monster tamers.
After saying all this, I can answer to your doubt.
The reason why, despite having been born as human, we can use the power of monsters.
That’s because when we were still floating inside the test tubes, we got cells from other monsters inserted inside our bodies.
I… and Noelle, whom you already know, are like that.
The Firsts are the children brought about from that research. It would be the first artificially created monster tamers in history?”
Certainly… With monster cells that are different from human ones, they can create magic power even if they don’t have a special ability.
Artificially produced… Monster tamers?
What I’m hearing is not a pleasant talk.
Lance and the Firsts may be close to homunculi taken straight out from a fiction world.
Miraculously, I didn’t feel like Lance’s words till now were untrue.
It doesn’t seem like, at this time, Lance has to lie in such a roundabout way and… If these words are real, then I can understand how, despite having a human body, they can turn into monsters.
“I understand what you say… But, what relation is there between that research to produce artificial monster tamers and the founding of your organization?”
“… Such impatience. With this speech until now, can’t you guess what comes after?”
Lance laughed fearlessly,
“This research faced strong opposition since the project phase.
The special representatives at that time were our boss, Luka-neesan, the youngest to be promoted to high-class monster tamer, and your mother, Kusumi Kanae.
The reason is quite simple.
—The number of children sacrificed was too high.
At the research’s initial stage, there were many trial and error stages to check if the embedded monster cells were suited to their body.
Unable to control the monster cells… The number of children swallowed down (consumed by the cells) was too high to count. Can you picture it?
Inside a test tube, without time to be born, made to take many drugs before they were even given milk… Brought up in a hellish suffering before they gained awareness, all those friends just conceived… Died one after another with their monster cells on a rampage.
Their corpses, in a disgusting form unidentifiable as either human or monster… Were burned to the bone and discarded so as to conceal the evidence.
Can you understand that suffering?”
Somehow or other, this thinking may be unfair, but… I feel relieved that my mother was against that research.
And… If Lance’s words are the truth, I can understand the abnormal behavior of Noelle, who I went against before.
Her mind is aberrantly unbalanced.
In what kind of environment has one to live in to bring up a girl like her… That was the doubt I held since long ago.
“Fuu… I’m not used to long speeches. About ten years after the start of this research, it started to produce limited results.
Children like me or Noelle that luckily managed to adapt to the monster cells and lived on started to appear here and there.
Like this, since the time it started giving off definite results, the people that were against the research gradually shifted to the supporting faction, as if flipping over their hands. The one who realized the danger of the situation was our boss… That means Luka-neesan. Luka-neesan, so that us Firsts could live in freedom...helped us to defect.”
“This event could be called the biggest blemish on the IMA.
Anyhow, us First that hosted the might of powerful monsters… Since we aimed to escape, all 20 of us at once, there was a big panic.
Due to this incident, between monster tamers and nearby residents… In total, there was over a thousand victims. The IMA frantically attempted to cover it up, but as expected, they couldn’t manage an event of such a scale..
Outside rookie tamers like you… Doesn't everyone know about this incident?”
I didn’t know.
The IMA from before had such a blemish…
“Even now, the evil organization that keeps committing crimes… They pinned that label on us, but… The Black Tamers were, originally, an organization established in order to protect us firsts. So that the strong would protect the weak, naturally, they didn’t have the margin to choose their methods.
For that, they put strong monsters under enforce and exterminated the red dragons to obtain dragon blood.
Oh, yeah! I’ll add this since I forgot, Clarie-san and the lot are the Seconds.
They come from the original research that Luka-san took from the IMA.
But then… That, instead of creating artificial monster tamers… In order to empower people that had the capability to become monster tamers from the start, they are bestowed monster cells.
… Well, with this I’ve told you everything about me.
Even though things seem this way, could you one-sidedly decide that we are evil and bring down upon us the hammer of justice?”
My head unable to keep up with the successive revealing of important facts, my thinking froze.
I don’t know. Not a thing.
Until now I thought the IMA as good and the Black Tamers as evil.
Though I took everything in terms of good or bad, reality is different.
By hearing this speech… I can’t tell who’s right or wrong.
The same way that Iris went through hell due to the Black Tamers, the Black Tamers suffered due to the IMA.
“… Do you understand with this?
What you believed justice until now is indeed brittle. It wouldn’t be bad if you felt like cooperating with our organization.
The boss seems to have a special interest in you. If you manage it well, couldn’t you easily be regarded even higher than us Firsts?”
While showering me with cajolery, Lance, step by step, approached me.
… If I agree now with Lance’s words wouldn’t I once again work besides Luka-san?
Good grief… It’s laughable.
You, now… Does it look to you that I would get swayed like this by the words of an enemy?
Does it satisfy you to have anything and everything dancing on your palm as you wish?
“Well. Kusumi Chiharu. Come with us! Why don’t you make a new world with us!?”
Lance, laughing loudly, offered his hand to me.
If I take this hand, would it mean that from today on I’ll be a member of the Black Tamers?
“—My bad, but I can’t collaborate with you lot.”
I brushed aside Lance’s little palm.
“Certainly after hearing your story I can’t properly understand who’s in the right.
Frankly, even now I’m confused.
But, y’know, until I came here I had to bear with an uncountable amount of things.
I… To protect Zonmi, to protect Kyouko, to protect Iris, to protect Manami, to protect Lilith-san, so that they can live happily, I must protect the world.
That’s why I—and you lot are incompatible.”
“…… Ha, ha, ha. Right. Right.”
Lance’s smile, as if crafted from fine glass, seemed to crack with a jingle.
“Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!”
As if thinking about something, Lance suddenly laughed out loud.
Next instant, I felt a pressure leaking from Lance’s body.
There’s no mistake.
This is blood lust…
Just when the negotiations broke, the blood lust he was keeping hidden until now became irrepressible.
“Ah~. That’s good. That’s good. That’s really good. Guhehehehe.”
“… You seem to be in a very good mood, but what is it that’s so good?”
“Y’see. Deep down, I was afraid.
If you mistook something and joined our organization… How could I kill you?
Being the latecomer, receiving the boss’s favor, the nasty you…
At last with this… I can kill you without fear♪”
The instant after Lance’s staff glowed with a strange light.
From inside the ground appeared a huge monster.
A totally zombified dragon.
It was the dragon that I named before as Skull Dragon.
“… Hey, you, Hadn’t you set a summon-prevention barrier!?
It seems that I can’t use summon, but… Is the summon-prevention barrier a cheat item that prevents the opponent from summoning?”
Suddenly, Lance started laughing hugging his stomach.
“… Something’s the matter?”
“Moron! When have I used summoning?
Do I need to tell you the trick?
As you see, this guy is just a zombie. Moreover… Is a freshly made one.
I buried beforehand the bones of a flying dragon on the ground… And just now I have restored it as a zombie!
Hey, you… Do you understand what this means?”
“Well. If you’re going to tell me, by all means do it.”
“I can use the zombie as much as I waaaaaaaant!
And you, conversely, cannot summon! Lonely lonely boy!
You’ve been driven to a corneeeeeeeeeeeer!”
What the heck.
I thought it too back with Noelle, but each and every of the Firsts… Do they get a weird mood when fighting?
“Gooooooooo! My little zoooooooooooombies!”
Lance raised his cane and, right after, two Skull Dragons came out from the ground.
Along with the one that came out before, there were three Skull Dragons.
Is this the reason why Lance allowed himself to not set traps before?
Due to the summon-prevention barrier set up, I can’t use summoning, and conversely my opponent can use as many zombies as he pleases.
From his way of speaking, even if I manage to defeat these guys… Chances are high that he still has other zombies hidden.
Certainly, if you think about it normally, this may be being driven into a corner.
“What’s it? So afraid that you can’t speak?”
From when has been it.
That I lost my sense of normalcy.
From when has been it.
That I’ve ended in a kind of mental state where I don’t feel that it’s a significant crisis.
A mighty power sometimes changes people’s personalities.
So that this power doesn’t engulf me… I must be cautious.
I, with everyone… I’ll protect the world where all of them can smile!
“Agaaaaaaa… What’s with this amount of magic power!?”
The instant after releasing the power of my limiter.
Wrapped up in a dazzling flash all around, echoed Lance’s shriek.
Good. Since it’s been a long time since I last transformed into a monster, I was worrying if it would go well, but… It’s been a total success.
Transformed into a monster, my hair grew until it reached the ground.
This time, in order to conserve strength to fight longer, I didn’t grow wings from my back.
It seems that the power of my limiter, when releasing its full power, my appearance changes with the amount released.
Right after Lance howled.
The Skull Dragons attacked simultaneously from the front, the back and the side.
However, With my limiter released, to me… Something like this didn’t count as an attack.
I, lightly parrying the Skull Dragons’ attacks, nimbly kicked the ground and entered into an offensive motion.
I don’t have time to spare.
That I didn’t employ the power of the limiter during the hundred deaths course… Wasn’t because I was unwilling in the least to use it.
This power… Its durability is extremely lacking.
Before, when I fought Noelle at the Grandeel archipelago, its limit was five minutes.
This time, since I’m saving a lot of strength, I think I can keep it longer than before, but… It will be, at most, ten minutes?
If, by some chance, we engaged in a war of attrition, I would clearly be at disadvantage.
I launched a dropkick with all my might against a Skull Dragon.
My dropkick, with a power that once managed to floor a five meters tall golem, made the Skull Dragon burst.
A perfect overkill.
Even if it’s a zombie, it seems it won’t move once its skull has been smashed into tiny bits.
The opponent gave me a hard time when I was human, but now that I’m a monster, it’s nothing special.
After that, I defeated the second and third Skull Dragons in the same fashion.
All that in just seconds.
I feel that, compared to before I’ve improved in using my transformed self.
Even if I say so myself, it’s quite a good time.
“… At last next it’s your turn.”
While I was battling the Skull Dragons, it seems that Lance had put up quite a distance between us.
I don’t know if that’s where he has buried his next zombie or if he’ll pull out a different trap.
However, I don’t have the time to hesitate.
Either way, it will all go well if I strike faster than my opponent’s next attack.
So as to move faster, I released my Limiter’s power to around 50%.
This time, wings grew.
By manipulating the wings on my back, I close the distances with my enemy to the shortest possible without minding the effect of the mountain’s slope.
With this… It’s checkmate.
When I was sure of my victory, the next instant.
I noticed a faint smirk on Lance’s mouth corners.
I see… This was what Lance was planning from the start…
What Lance took out to defend himself from my attack were Aruru & Meruru. The two we knew nothing about since before.
They had been already brainwashed by Lance.
Aruru’s and Meruru’s eyes had lost their former gleam and had become empty.
So as to cancel my attack, I released the monster transformation.
I, who was already flying at high speed against my enemy, was slammed with a great force against the snow.
“Kuhahahaha! Isn't it cruel, Kusumi Chiharu!
I can’t fight a monster like you upfront.
But, moron! Right from the moment you came here, your defeat was settled!”
Lance trampled down on my face while laughing in a good mood.
“… Whaaa? Why are you looking at my with such defiant eyes?
Fine by me. I can send to heaven right now the souls of those ghoul sisters over there.”
“I know. You can’t, can you?
According to the report I received earlier, you… are an extremely hypocritical guy.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch the most important older sister, but these two are enough to shake your heart. Isn’t that right?”
Maybe this has become bad.
I was entranced by his ability as a necromancer, but… This youth called Lance is quite the strategist.
In other words, Lance… Had prepared beforehand two kinds of hostages.
The first were the brainwashed civilians to lure me here.
The second ware Aruru and Meruru, who are right here.
I’d say… Instead of brainwashing Aruru and Meruru, he put them to sleep with a drug or something and then he laid them at the top of this snowy mountain.
If he did it like that because of what Lance said about the limits of the range a necromancer can manipulate zombies in… It’s completely irrelevant.
I… am a big fool.
Even if the me until I came here has been put under several traps… I thought that with the power of my limiter I could forcibly make him surrender.
However… Reality is not like that.
Now that he has took hostages in this manner… I… How could I offer the least bit of resistance?
The opponent, foreseen my character, made meticulous arrangements.
Now that it’s come to this… I can’t do nothing by myself.
“Sonuvabitch! Don’t ignore me, you idiot!”
I was trampled with all his might.
Lance attacks were strong enough to make my head bleed… But that was all.
The injuries on my head were healed in a flash by the automatic regeneration ability of my Limiter.
“… Humph! They mentioned your healing power in the report from earlier.
If the flesh and blood me takes you on, I may break a bone… There’s no way.
You guys, take him on!”
When Lance clicked his fingers… Something surprising happened.
What suddenly appeared from the ground were the ones I should have defeated before with the power of my limiter… The three Skull Dragons.
“Whoa… The heck…”
“Hahaha! That idiotic face… It’s a masterpiece!
Didn’t I say? The ability of necromancers is controlling corpses.
In other words… As long as I still have magic power, I can revive these guys any hundreds of times!
Gooooooooo! My little zoooooooooooombies!”
The Skull Dragons went to trample on my face with their huge paws.
As I nimbly raised my upper body, I managed by a hair’s breadth to avoid that and entered once again into a fighting stance.
“Oioioioi. Who said you could evade. Is it all right? Whatever happens to these…”
Lance directed a horrifyingly lewd glance to Aruru’s and Meruru’s bodies.
“… Kukukuku. How cute, these children. I’ve decided that they will become my lovers instead of Mary.”
“. Oi. You… What are you sa…?”
“Shut uuuuuuuuup! Don’t bother meeeeeeee!”
Right after Lance yelled that, the Skull Dragon’s gigantic paw drew near me.
This time, I could evade with quite the margin.
Certainly… These zombies I’ve named Skull Dragons.
Compared with the monsters I’ve met up till now, their power is in another league and their speed is superb.
However, in the end they're nothing but corpses.
I don’t know if it’s because of that, but it seems that none of these guys holds complex attack patterns.
I kept standing and evading the attacks from the approaching Skull Dragons.
“… Tch. I told you not to evade.
Well, fine. Keep playing with these small fries. Of course… Till you die.”
I may win.
This time, a path to victory surfaced in my mind.
It’s a thin, thin thread that might break anytime, but… If I carefully pull it in, there’s no way I won’t get a hold of it.
Afterwards… If I just get the time, the place and the timing…!!
Let me properly think of a strategy!
The Skull Dragons, attacking the three at once that have literally bottomless stamina, didn’t give any rest to my body.
However, having grasped that hope, I could move more nimbly than before.
In any case, now it’s the time to endure.
Afterwards… I’ll earnestly wait for my chance.
With decision, dancing boisterously like a tempest I just tried to see into the Skull Dragons’ attacks.
How much time has passed?
I felt like it has been an hour already, but I believe it have been just ten minutes.
Like before, I kept evading the attacks from the three Skull Dragons at once.
Holy cow… Even if I say so myself, I think I’ve been withstanding it well.
Of course, in this situation I can’t achieve a godsend feat like receiving no hits… On the way, I’ve been stricken by some blows.
There was an inhuman quality.
As at the same time I received the blows, my body turned to regenerating… It seems that I didn’t receive any fatal injuries from there.
Nevertheless… My body is reaching its limits.
Due to moving at full might for a long time… I feel my consciousness growing dimmer and my regenerative power gradually weakening.
Thanks to going through these hard time, My arrangements are on the way to being ready.
After this I have to wait until the last piece falls into place.
Please… Please, be on time.
Suddenly, the foreleg of a Skull Dragon kicked my body away.
A disgusting creaking sound came from my ribs.
The broken bones may have injured my innards.
Spitting a large amount of blood from my mouth, I dyed red the snow at my feet.
This… May have become bad.
It would be fine if it was just the injuries.
However, my magic power has already reached its limits and the recovery can’t keep up with the extent of the wounds.
In other words… It’s a desperate pinch.
“Kuhahaha! You’ve caused too much trouble! At last your end has come!”
Lance took a sharp knife out of nowhere and came near me step by step.
“Are you suffering? Does it hurt?
Your last hope that was your regenerative power has started to break down and weaken.
The true hell starts now.
I’ll personally disassemble your body.
By the most wretched means than you can think of, I’ll bestow unto you a suffering unimaginable in this world.”
“Kufufufu. I think that those ghoul sisters there will also suffer a shock.
I’ll tell you one thing so that you die without regrets.
I, y’know? When brainwashing living undead, I don’t snatch away all of their consciousness, just half.
Why do I do that?
Kuhahahahaha! The answer is easy.
Because like that it’s really funny!
If they manage to dispel the brainwashing, won’t the undead that I brainwashed live the rest of their lives keeping the memories of how I disgraced them?
Your rawhide… Guts… spinal cord, from here on I’ll be dismantling them one at a time.
Don’t you think that it will be a show of too strong stimulus for tender girls?”
Making an enraptured face, Lance laughed with a coarse voice.
“… An? Whaddaya say?”
The reason of your defeat is that you get cocky when you have an overwhelming advantage.
You, who's sure of your victory from the start, or I, who doesn’t give up victory till the end.
It seems that the goddess of victory will smile for me.
“… Guh! What the heck!?”
At that time, a gust of wind blew before us.
Come to think of it, Zonmi had mentioned it during the race.
Living Lodge’s mountains are known for their sudden gusts of winds beyond common sense.
During that race with my life on the line… Somehow, I became able to ascertain the timing these winds blew at.
I couldn’t achieve victory… But participating in the hundred deaths course was very valuable.
Right after Lance’s body’s was thrown back by the squall.
There was the shadow of a person that moved faster than the blowing wind.
Once the wind completely passed.
Lance’s face had just became pale.
“… Is this what you are looking for, necromancer?”
“Idiot… Idiot… Idiotidiotidiot!
I-impossible… It can’t be… What are you doing here! Ghoul princess!?”
To be frank… The one who suddenly appeared was Zonmi.
Zonmi had taken advantage of the moment when Lance’s stance was broken by the sudden wind and managed to fetch up the cane that’s called the lifeline of a necromancer.
Zonmi kept silent before Lance’s question, took out the magic power stone inserted in the cane she had in her hand and crushed it.
The strong foes that had been giving me a hard time until now—the three Skull Dragons, immediately turned to ashes and in the end lost their shapes along with the wind.
It seems that with the destruction of the magic power stone the brainwashing has been lifted.
The AruMeru sisters instantly recovered the gleam in their eyes and, after making sure they could move at will,
“Uwaaaaan! Scary… I… It was scary…”
“Oneesama… I… Believed that you would come…”
Both of them hugged Zonmi at once.
“Yosh, yosh. It was scary. But since I’ve come, it’s all right. Calm down.”
In order to calm her sisters’ unrest, she tenderly stroked their heads.
Good grief… I grow embarrassed just by looking… It’s an intimate sisterly love.
“… Kusumi Chiharu. What the heck is this!?
Explain it! You… Have to explain this situation to me!”
“It’s not… Like I wasn’t going to explain it to you.
As you know, since you had took hostages, I… Couldn’t attack you.
That’s why I waited.
For my comrades to come rushing to my side.
I believed that if I managed to catch you by surprise, I’ll surely could destroy the staff you were carrying.
Afterwards, to raise the chances of success of the strategy, I just synchronized my timing with the wind, but… Do I need to explain anymore?”
Despite having explained it all, Lance threw me a glance of disbelief that said “it makes no sense”.
… That’s why. That’s why I said it was impossible!
This mountain is 100 kilometers apart from the place we were at the start.
Surely, if you have made contracts with several monsters, you may guess our whereabouts by calculating from the angle the magic power threads make.
However… Even if they had guessed our position, it’s still impossible!
They couldn’t have arrived to our position in such a short time!
Traversing long distances through the weather of Living Lodge with its rough climate… Don’t you understand how dangerous is it!?”
Certainly, the doubts Lance is holding is natural.
I’m embarrassed that saying this may look like showing off.
To tell the truth, I too… Don’t know in what way had Zonmi and the girls arrived here.
Asking for help, I looked at Zonmi, and Zonmi “haah…” with a long sigh, started to tell.
“That’s right. Surely, it may have been impossible on my own.
However, have you forgotten?
Our master… No, to us he is a comrade that worries us so much that we get angry…
To reach this place… The two monsters capable of flying… The red dragon and the Nephilim, until each one depleted their magic power, have come flying taking turns in this relentless weather.
After guessing the location using the magic power threads… The quick-witted succubus Lilith calculated in an instant the shortest route to come to this place.
The little sister… Though this time she hasn’t especially done anything, We are grateful instead for that.
It seems that I’ll have to change my impressions of her.
I… Though I regarded the little sister as being just a troublemaker that rummaged all around guided by instinct, I’ve realized that she has a kind heart capable of prioritizing others when in a true pinch.”
Is that so?
When I was not looking… Such an exchange happened.
For the successful carrying out of this time’s stratagem, several risk came with it… There were worries.
Among them, the one that I feared the most… Was that Lance got fed up with me, who kept evading the attacks to buy time, and took the life of either Aruru or Meruru.
Had that happened… Unable to avoid the attack, the only way left to me would have been unsightly dying.
Nevertheless, I could surmise that the probability of that was extremely low by the lewd glance that Lance had directed to Aruru and Meruru.
Really… I think that in this battle I have been walking on a tight-rope from the beginning to the end.
“… How stupid. Are you telling me that you even took the wind into account?”
With a face of having realized something, Lance dropped his shoulders disheartened.
“I can’t understand it. Kusumi Chiharu. You… How come you can unconditionally trust others?”
“That’s a given. Zonmi… Those girls are my partners!”
Stating that as a matter of course, Lance’s face distorted once again with insanity.
“… Aah. Now I understand why I can’t pick up any blood lust from you.
I… Hate brats ignorant of the ways of the world like you.
Despite knowing nothing… You babble lip service. You brandish your own convenient justice.
Someone like you… Doesn’t know anything!”
“… Chiharu. Be careful.”
“… Yeah. Understood.”
A myriad of glittering lights seemed to gather around Lance.
… No, wrong. If I express it accurately, the correct way would be saying that he absorbed them.
I’d say this isn’t but my own guess.
Like the Skull Dragons I was fighting with until not long ago… Lance has buried many corpses in this snowy mountain as preparations to battle with me.
However, it doesn’t seem that no matter how many zombies he calls forth now it would do him any good.
Isn’t that why… Lance is absorbing little by little the remaining magic power of the corpses buried all around?
“Don’t take me lightly. The match hasn’t ended yet!”
Having finished gathering the magic power from the surroundings, Lance showed a grin and,
Just spat out those words.
The next instant, Lance’s body started swelling and changing to a grotesque shape.
And what appeared before me… Was an skeleton wielding a 2 meters long big scythe.
“Death god Thanatos…
I see. So his power as a necromancer comes from the ability of the death god?”
Death god Thanatos.
So the monster cells of that guy were implanted into this guy’s body before birth?
“Kuhahahahaha! This has turned the tables, hasn’t it? Kusumi Chiharu! Aren’t you clearly in a bad shape from the previous battles?
Won’t your Limiter reach its limit in just seconds of full use?
The ghoul princess too, coming here must have depleted your magic power.
And conversely, as you see, I’m in tip-top condition.
Well, do we start?
Let’s start the decisive ba—“
“… Nope. I think that won’t be necessary.”
“The match already… has ended long ago.”
As Lance has said, my magic power has already reached bottom.
Even bringing forth the full power of the Limiter, I’ll meet the limit in just seconds.
But, that’s fine.
If I could clash with him from the front even for seconds… I feel I won’t lose to him.
“Get ready. Since the me today… I think I won’t be able to go easy.”
So, that said,
Imitating Lance, I said those words inside my heart.
It was different from when I confronted the Skull Dragons.
My full power right now… Was 100% from 100%!
My hair grew, two bat-like wings sprouted from my back.
I felt like magic power filled me from head to toe.
That amount of magic power was so vast that it melted the snow around me in an instant… If I’m not careful, there’s the danger that it will swallow me.
“… No way. Impossible. Impossible. What kind of monster do you have as a base to get this much power!?”
To tell the truth, I too am curious about that.
I was told by Lilith-san that it seem that it was one from among the devils, but she hasn’t informed me in the least about the details.
He may have realized that he has no chance of winning fighting upfront.
As such following that victory goes to the one who hits first, Lance brandished his huge scythe against me.
“… He disappeared!?”
Speaking properly, I simply circled to your side.
It’s just that our difference in power is so overwhelming that just by moving about normally it makes you think that I’ve disappeared.
Following that, I lightly kicked the ground and leaped, giving a severe blow to the crown of the head of
the huge skeleton Lance had transformed into.
Lance burrowed through the ground made of ice as if it had sunk in.
In the end… After going on for about ten meters his magic power got depleted.
Released of his transformation, Lance just spat blood with his eyes showing the whites.
Like that, since he didn’t even twitch, I think that this should be all there is.
By fighting seriously, it was a too quick and excessively one-sided end of act—.
This marks the end of our long battle.
References and Translation Notes
- Around 62.14 miles.
- Obviously, 6.21 miles.
- Artificial humans made inside a flask; alchemy term.
- Written as “monster transformation”.
- As in “doing something in the shortest time”.
- 62.14 miles.
- ~6 feet.
- Name of the Greek god responsible of death in sleep (Apollon was responsible for sunstrokes and pestilence, Arthemisia for strokes and sudden death and Hades for death in general).
- Since 100% is “a hundred out of a hundred”, I don’t know why the Japanese say this, which means “100 out of 100 out of 100 out of 100”, but they do.
- Around 32’ 10”.
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