A Wild Last Boss Appeared! Volume 4 - Firehead - E-Book

A Wild Last Boss Appeared! Volume 4 E-Book

Firehead

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Beschreibung

Things are as busy as ever as the legendary Lufas Maphaahl continues her journey, setting out to collect more members of the Twelve Heavenly Stars and beat the evil threatening the world!


When word reaches Lufas of the beastfolk’s hunting festival, she and her Twelve Heavenly Stars set out for beastfolk territory. This seems to be just the opportunity Lufas was looking for. Once there, Virgo—newest member of the Twelve Heavenly Stars, second-generation “Maiden”, and in desperate need of a confidence boost—is entered into the festival. But there’s another group participating as well...


The existence of a mysterious elixir is also revealed, and someone’s put out a request to retrieve it from a sacred mountain. By whose hand was this legendary remedy which can heal all wounds and illnesses created?


Will the other former members of the Twelve Heavenly Stars come back peacefully? Or are there more unexpected events in store for Lufas?!

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1

The mass-produced Libras led us through the streets of Blutgang. According to them, they were taking us to the royals-only section. It seemed they wanted us to meet their master or whoever, but their creator could only have been Mizar. Does that mean Mizar’s actually alive?

There was also the possibility that they had a new owner. For example, Libra had also been made by Mizar, but she called me master. Something like this might be normal, since it had a precedent.

For now, let’s just prepare to run away if need be... I’d need to be ready to leave quickly in case they wanted me to hand over Scorpius. Sure, I’d feel guilty doing it, but I still wouldn’t hesitate to get violent either. I wanted to avoid that outcome if possible, but I valued my subordinates.

As we walked, the real Libra and Aries came running from the other side of the street. Libra glanced towards the three mass-produced, half-broken Libras, but she quickly turned back to me as if they were nothing.

“Reporting in, master. We have successfully eliminated the devilfolk in the city. By the way, about those golems there that look to be the same model as me...”

“Pleased to meet you. I am Mass-Produced Libra Unit 3. I take it you are the original? Welcome to Blutgang. We welcome your arrival.”

“Thank you for the polite welcome. I am Libra.”

Both Libra and the mass-produced Libras bowed to each other and then proceeded to stand in formation, as if it were only natural.

Huh...? Is that it? Shouldn’t there be, like... Something? Like, something more? The conversation between the Libras was surprisingly short, and afterward, they exchanged no more words. I guess I should have expected that out of golems. They’re really indifferent.

The only one we’re missing is Aigokeros... Oh, there he is. He was standing in a hole in a wall, completely out of it. The hell is he doing?

“Hey, Aigokeros.”

When I called out to him, he reacted in a really exaggerated manner. As soon as he turned around, Aigokeros turned into his human form and prostrated himself before me right then and there.

Ohh, I get it. He doesn’t have legs in his goat form, so he can’t prostrate properly. Not like I wanted him to, though.

“M-My apologies, master! I was unable to fulfill the grand role you had given me: to capture one of the Seven Luminaries alive...!”

Ohhh, I get it. It seemed like the fact that he’d failed to carry out my orders was getting to him.

It’s not like there was anything he could have done about it, since the Devil King’s son showed up on top of one of the Seven Luminaries already being there... It’s my fault for not seeing that coming. But it looked like Aigokeros didn’t think the same way, since even now he was repeatedly apologizing.

“I see, I see. So you ran in the face of one of the Seven Luminaries when you have such an overwhelming level advantage? What a stupendous failure on your part.”

“H A H A H A! I see your strength hasn’t accompanied you through these two hundred years, Aigokeros!”

While I was trying to come up with a way to comfort Aigokeros, Libra and Karkinos came in with the speed and smoothness of river rapids and started throwing salt in his wounds.

Hey, stop that! Do you guys not know the meaning of mercy?

Dina even said to Virgo, “See that? That’s what a useless man who can’t do his job looks like.”

Come on. Stop that!

Only Aries tried to comfort Aigokeros, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Ah... Hmm... Well, don’t worry about it. Just make sure to learn from this failure.”

Please don’t change, Aries.

“Wh-What touching mercy! I will succeed next time! Even if I have to sacrifice my life!”

“No, don’t do that. Don’t just kill yourself like that!”

Oh no. What should I do? This goat’s loyalty just hurts. If things stay like this, Aigokeros might seriously commit suicide. If I don’t give him some easy job next to help him regain his confidence, this might turn out badly. Or maybe I should put together some sort of event to help him feel better? Maybe one where he can eat as much grass as he wants?

At any rate, with Aigokeros’ reappearance, we’d all managed to regroup. Scorpius, who was still unconscious, was being carried by Karkinos while we once again started following the mass-produced Libras.

After we reached the fourteenth town by riding some sort of elevator-like thing, we were greeted by a giant door and several dwarves. They weren’t armed, so it didn’t seem as if they intended to fight... I should be ready just in case, though.

“Welcome to Blutgang. We’ve been waiting, Lady Lufas Maphaahl. I am Jenner. I have the honor of being in charge of Blutgang’s military branch.”

“We see... So you already know about us. Then We suppose there is no need for these bandages.”

Apparently I’d long been found out. Well, I suppose I couldn’t have been anyone else, given that I had the original Libra with me, had managed to punch Scorpius out, and then had recovered Scorpius instead of killing her.

I handed my stealth bandages to Dina and took off my fake glasses. When I did, the dwarves all groaned. The impact of my undisguised appearance must have been too much for them.

“So, why were We called here? Was this an ambush to try and capture us?”

“You jest. If we dared to antagonize you with Scorpius inside Blutgang, we’d all be dead. I’m quite desperate not to anger you right now, actually.”

“Then that is fine.”

Apparently the dwarves were really nervous right now. It made sense, though, since I was basically a world-renowned villain. To them, it was as if they’d let a last boss who should have already been defeated into their country. Of course they’d be nervous. I’d started to forget, but in this world, I was the symbol of fear. There wouldn’t be many people who would still interact with me normally after knowing that I was Lufas. In that sense, these dwarves were really trying their best.

“Then please, tell us what you want. You called us all the way here, at great risk to yourselves. What is worth that?”

“About that. You won’t be meeting our current royalty. You will be heading further in, past the royal area.”

“What? What do you mean?”

“It would be faster for you to see for yourself. I will lead you from here.”

The dwarf, who’d named himself as Jenner, pulled on a lever beside him. When he did, the door opened, and the view of the royal area greeted us.

The first thing I saw was a huge garden. In the distance, there was a pool and a court, which was probably used for some sort of sport. In the center of the area was a huge, white building that looked like a high-class luxury hotel. There were also several gigantic dog monsters with lion-like manes that seemed to be fulfilling the role of guard dogs.

There was something that looked like them on Earth, I think. They were Tibetan mastiffs...?

The upsized, Tibetan-mastiff-like monsters looked really imposing, but given how this world had dinosaurs in it, they weren’t that big a threat in comparison. In the grand scheme of things, they were actually quite cute for monsters. I bet they’re fluffy and nice to pet.

But they were all trembling with their tails between their legs. It was quite shocking. I like dogs a lot, though...

I passed by the terrified doggies and continued even further in. Every once in a while I sensed someone glancing at me... It seemed as if there were several people in the castle who were interested in me. I locked eyes with the dwarven children who were the culprits and waved, but a woman who seemed to be their mother hurriedly pulled them away.

It’s not like I’m gonna up and eat them just because we met gazes or something...

“I’ve never seen anyone so rude. I will go massacre—”

“Stop that, you fool.” I scolded Aigokeros and threw in a little poke on top.

Whoops. There’s an idiot who actually would do that. I bet at least half the reason I’m so feared is this guy’s fault. I mean, look at how scared the dwarf showing the way is. He’s even putting on a brave face as he looks at me, like he’s prepared to sacrifice himself when the time comes... The hell am I supposed to do with that?

Eventually we were shown to the deepest part of the royal area... In other words, we reached a wall. There was nothing there. One of the dwarves laid their hand on the wall and muttered something. When they did so, the wall opened, revealing a room. The dwarf must have muttered some kind of secret password or something.

“This is...?”

The room was bare. Compared to the flamboyantly decorated areas before, it was like this room existed in a completely different space... The room was enclosed by bare stone walls and a bare stone ceiling. Something that looked like a crystal, which faintly glowed blue, stood in the center of the room and was the only thing within it.

“Is that a golem...?”

“Yes. This golem is the center of all of Blutgang and serves as its brain. It is also our great king, who entrusted all of his knowledge and memories here right before he died...”

“What? That’s ridiculous.”

Having heard Jenner’s words, I couldn’t help but stare at the crystal.

Is he really “here?”

Are you really there, Mizar?

As if to answer my question, the crystal glowed stronger before emitting a voice that I didn’t remember... But it still sounded very familiar.

“So you’re here. It’s been a while, Lufas, my friend. As well as you, my greatest creation, my daughter.”

“Mizar...”

“Sir...Mizar...”

Apparently it was the real Mizar. It was obvious from Libra’s reaction. But I was convinced regardless.

There’s no doubt. This is Mizar.

I had no actual proof, but somehow, I didn’t need any. Something inside me was convinced.

“We see. So Blutgang was not just a protective charm you left to your people but you yourself. To think you became a golem... There’s a limit to how much of a golem fanatic one can be.”

“Khaa ha ha! Is that a compliment?”

“Fool. We are exasperated.”

Seriously. Who’d expect someone to become a golem?

There was a fun character in an RPG I’d played once upon a time called “Dungeonman” who loved dungeons so much he ended up becoming one. But I never expected to know someone that foolish.

“Aw, don’t be like that. This was necessary. After all, I wasn’t exactly myself back then.”

I paused. “You mean two hundred years ago?”

“Yeah. I’m not trying to make excuses, but Mizar was acting strangely. I can say that, since the crystal that was to be the control golem for Blutgang—otherwise known as me—was finished early. Something forced Mizar to act back then. That was painful to watch. Imagine seeing the original you becoming stranger day by day. It was like watching myself transform into someone else. It’s funny, right? That the copy is closer to ‘Mizar’ than the real thing?” He was quiet for a moment before continuing. “Soon enough, I couldn’t tell which one of us was the real Mizar.”

I had no reply to that.

By copying his personality onto a golem, temporarily there had been two Mizars. One had been the real one, who’d then changed and became stranger every day. The other was the copy that had maintained Mizar’s original personality. Since the copy had been there, it’d experienced that weirdness, watching itself change from an objective point of view. He’d literally seen himself becoming someone else.

What torture... That’s something that would drive anyone crazy.

“When did it start happening?”

“Let’s see... Probably when you all came back from the Goddess’s holy land. I think after that he started treating you as an enemy. I bet Alioth, Megrez, and Dubhe were the same.”

“What about the others?”

“Merak was always in danger, since Vanaheim is right at the Goddess’s feet. As for Phecda... Well, that one always wandered around here and there. I bet it just happened at some point. No idea about Benet, though. She’s always been really attached to you. To be honest, I feel like she’d have picked a fight with you even without the Goddess’s interference.”

Benetnasch... No matter where I go, whatever I hear about her is always the same. It’s always that “she’s always been dangerous.” Seriously, you vampire? Just how bad do you have to be in order to be regarded like that by your friends?

Anyway, I should put her aside for now.

“You know, I’ve always been a little afraid of you as an alchemist. I couldn’t help but feel like you might take the title of Mizgarz’s best blacksmith out from under me, you know? But wanting to kill you because of that was just unnatural. That’s why I transferred my consciousness early, while I was still myself, so that this version of me would still be me.”

“...”

“At the end, ‘I’ was completely gone. All the original could think about was defeating you. He stopped listening to me completely. And, well...” Mizar paused before delivering the next sentence in a regretful, pitying tone. “You know the rest.”

“After you were gone, it was like whatever demon had possessed him left. But it was all too late. At the very least, he wanted to defeat the Devil King to make up for what he’d done. But there was no way anyone could win all desperate like that, so he lost, and his arm was taken. In the end, the original Mizar... He lost his friend, his arm, the peaceful world, everything... He regretted everything from the bottom of his heart, and even into his old age he’d weep and mope about... It was so hard to watch...” Mizar said, his voice quiet and forlorn.

I had no reply. I just didn’t know what to say.

2

“Oh, sorry. Got all dark and depressing there. I didn’t bring you here to say all that.”

The crystal shined faintly as it talked. On the outside, it may have looked like nothing but a diamond-like object, but strangely, I could see an unrefined dwarf with a smile on his face. Somehow, I knew that was exactly what Mizar would’ve been doing if he’d had a body right now.

Just as an aside, the Mizar I remembered was also indistinguishable from other dwarves. Shave, goddammit. Your hair’s the entire reason you all look the same.

“I wanted to tell you all the information I knew about the Goddess. Still, it might not be anything new to you.”

“Let’s hear it.”

Info on the Goddess? That’s the one thing I want most right now.

While it had basically been confirmed that Alovenus was behind all this, I just couldn’t imagine what her end goal even was. Though Dina, or someone like her, might know.

“All right. First, I’ll talk about the devilfolk and her connection to them. You probably already expected this, but the devilfolk and the Goddess are indeed connected. Also, you should know about the true nature of the devilfolk.”

Aigokeros cut off Mizar with the answer. “They’re magic.”

Everyone’s attention gathered on Aigokeros.

“Oh, you already knew? Well, I guess that isn’t so surprising.”

“Of course. There would have to be something wrong with someone for them to not notice those badly made defects.”

Well, sorry for having something wrong with me... If I’d actually said that out loud, it might have killed the conversation, so for now, I decided to shut up and listen.

“Magic? Like an actual spell?”

“Exactly, Aries. Magic is a technique to cause a phenomenon by altering mana. Using the Metal element as an example, it becomes possible to create physical things.”

“But aren’t the devilfolk living...?”

“They are not. They are simply a spell which creates something that imitates a living thing.”

While listening to the conversation between Aigokeros and Aries, I remembered what the Devil King had said to me before. He’d told me that the devilfolk were something that had been created by the Goddess, and they would disappear when they died.

I evidently used to spit devilfolk heads on posts, so apparently they remained for at least a while after they died. But the fact that they became mana when they died and that the bodies disappeared without a trace did give them something in common with any other spell.

No, wait a second. Was I beheading them as an experiment to see how long it would take for their heads to disappear?

“They are a magic spell that was unleashed upon humanity... That is why they all instinctively attack humans. It’s just like Fire magic. The magic doesn’t wonder why it was unleashed. The devilfolk are an attack spell cast by the Goddess and aimed at humanity.”

“N-No way...”

“O h...”

After hearing Aigokeros’s explanation, Virgo turned pale, and Karkinos tilted his head back and stared up into the sky.

I’d long known that the Goddess and the devilfolk were connected, but I’d never expected that the devilfolk would be a magic spell. Reality turned out to be nothing as sweet as I’d expected. She hadn’t simply given orders as their creator or manipulated their minds. The devilfolk themselves were an attack upon humanity by the Goddess.

“Though there are some exceptions.”

“Exceptions? Do you mean that guy, Terra?”

“Exactly, my master. There is no doubt that Terra is the result of magic, but the caster is different. Terra alone was cast by the Devil King.”

“We see. So that is why he is the Devil King’s son.”

So the devilfolk are literally magic... I see. Actually, it makes a lot of sense, now that I think about it.

Still, that’s a really harsh truth...

“They are simply a magic spell that thinks it has free will... They are puppets created by the Goddess with no souls of their own.”

“Like an NPC...”

“Master?”

“Nothing, never mind.”

“Puppets with no souls.” After hearing that, the first thing I thought of was video games. I was reminded of NPCs that game devs would prepare to give life to the in-game world. While at first glance they might have seemed like real characters with their own wills, there was actually nobody inside the character. They were simply puppets that moved according to prewritten programs. That was the true identity of the devilfolk.

From the opposite perspective, though, that also meant that the regular townspeople and monsters I normally thought of as NPCs no longer fit that definition, since they weren’t magic but actual people with clear wills. If there happened to be another person with knowledge from my world, they might also have equated the devilfolk to NPCs with this knowledge.

Mizar waited for Aigokeros to finish before continuing his speech. I returned my attention to him, temporarily putting thoughts of NPCs aside. Even if I pitied them, it would amount to nothing.

“There’s also one more ‘magic spell with a consciousness’ that the Goddess created. I managed to get an idea of it after many years of research.

“Once upon a time, the Goddess planned to use this being as an agent or representative, but the being rebelled due to a difference in their perceptions of humanity and left the Goddess’s control. It was said to have changed into a fish and fled into the oceans.”

“Hmm, if Terra is the Devil King’s son, then this being would be the Goddess’s child? So, what is its name?”

“Eros.”

“What a name...”

I couldn’t describe the feeling that welled up in me after hearing the name from Mizar.

The hell is that? That name is definitely going to cause bullying. So if you combine this name with the name of the Devil King’s son, the two children can be called Terraeros? I’ve heard of some just god-awful names before, but Eros is up there with the worst. What the hell was Alovenus thinking when she named it?

But as I looked around at my party, the Twelve Heavenly Stars—Aries, Libra, Aigokeros, Karkinos—all of them looked surprised.

“M-Miss Lufas!”

“Hmm?”

“How are you so calm?! It’s Eros! You know, Pisces the ‘Fish’...? It’s his real name!”

What...?!

The bombshell that came out of Aries’s mouth caused me to freeze.

Alovenus’s child is one of ours?! Actually, wait... I managed to capture one of the Goddess’s children?! Panicking, I quickly sunk my consciousness inward. When I did so, I did indeed discover memories of a blond young man.

Is it just me or was he being surrounded by my party members and being driven half to tears by them calling him Eros over and over?

“A-Ah, right... Now that you mention it...”

“What? He was your subordinate?” Mizar said exasperatedly.

Hey, this is the first I’m hearing of it too.

“Oh, right. Hey, Lufas... If possible, could I ask you to repair the mass-produced Libras? You can use any of the materials in Blutgang.”

“We do not mind, but there’s nothing We can do about the one that was blasted to pieces. Is that okay?”

“For the one that’s in pieces... You can use it to make whatever you wish. Just disposing of it doesn’t feel right.”

“Understood.”

I took on Mizar’s request, but an idea suddenly came to mind. Why not take the scrap parts from the broken Libra to make a new armament for Libra?

I’d always thought that golems did not grow and could not surpass their limits. It was common sense. But I had an idea. If Libra herself couldn’t be strengthened, why not simply bolster her strength with separate equipment? For example, if there were a golem that was super-specialized in STR, it would be shit on its own. However, if the golem were actually a weapon and could be freely wielded by Libra, then that would mean Libra’s ATK stat would be boosted.

“There was actually something We wanted to make. It’s been a while. Why not team up together once more, Mizar? Even if you can’t use alchemy yourself, your knowledge still remains, no?”

“That sounds fun! Your wild ideas always manage to surprise me. What did you just think of?”

It seemed like Mizar was happy to go along with my idea. Then from now on it was alchemist time. Since it wouldn’t be any fun for anyone else, I thought Aries and the others should wait outside. With that in mind, I ordered everyone to leave.

Noooww, then... What kind of fun weapon should we make?

*    *

Yeah. I’m tired.

I repaired all the broken golems, as well as the three mass-produced Libras that were still standing. Then after that, I used the permanently busted mass-produced Libras’ parts to make a weapon. Still, with Mizar’s knowledge, I had managed to make something much better than I’d expected. I suppose that’d only be natural for Mizar, though. Well, I wouldn’t know how good the weapon actually was until it had been used, though.

“Let’s go give it a test run first.”

“Yes, master.”

The new weapon I ended up making wasn’t technically a weapon. More accurately, it was a “weapon-type” golem that was autonomous to some extent. Basically, it was something similar to Tanaka. Its most defining feature was that it would respond to Libra’s call and rush to her from anywhere.

In order to test its capabilities, Libra and I had come to a deserted place outside of Blutgang. I’d confirmed there was no one near the rocky mountain that would be our target, which was one kilometer or so off in the distance. I’d had to. If anyone got killed there by accident, a “sorry” just wouldn’t cut it.

“Then I will start...” Libra raised her voice and shouted, “Armament Selection: Astraia!”

The golem port in Blutgang immediately opened, and a set of steel wings came flying out. The object, which resembled a small plane, rotated in the air a bit before stopping directly above Libra and transforming. At the same time, Libra jumped, and lines of red light connected the two golems. Then, the two golems approached each other as if magnetically drawn together before the Astraia golem docked onto Libra’s back.

Once that was done, two large cannons deployed over Libra’s shoulders, facing forward. Each of those cannons were copies of Libra’s right scale, Zuben El Genubi, which had only existed in her right arm up until now. By equipping Astraia, Libra effectively tripled her attack power.

On top of that, there were a further two cannons deployed at either side of her waist. This method of powering her up was far away from the usual fantasy rules and relied on pure firepower. However, that firepower could turn any fortress to ash with just one salvo.

Lastly, Astraia’s wings split, turning into three steel wings on each side of Libra’s back.

This was the new form of the fully autonomous killer maid Libra. I named it “Super Libra.” Or maybe “Astra Libra” would be better?

The superpowered Libra deployed her right arm’s cannon and aimed all five of her weapons—her three electromagnetic cannons on her arm and shoulders, and her two anti-fortress cannons on her waist—locking them all on the rocky mountain that was her target.

“Maximum power... All cannons concentrate on one point... Fire!”

For a single moment, my vision was turned pure white.

Three rounds accelerated by electromagnetism and two rounds propelled by gunpowder flew in a straight line, accurately impacting the poor, innocent rocky mountain, turning it into a pillar of fire which erased everything within it from the face of the world.

“...”

Yeahhh, uhhhh... Crap.

By my estimation, the results would be catastrophic, even with Blutgang as the target. While it probably wouldn’t destroy Blutgang in one salvo, it’d probably still pierce through and completely mess up the insides. It might even instantly evaporate Levia.

Of course it would. After all, there were a couple conventional cannons on top of all the firepower three Zuben El Genubi’s brought to the table. If this were a game, would this be a five-hit attack? It was so powerful that I was left seriously pondering whether even Karkinos could survive it.

The rest of my companions were all staring at me with exasperated expressions, and all I could do was avert my gaze.

I-I couldn’t help it... Any guy who gets hooked on stuff like this would want to make one... We’re all romantics for this sort of thing...

Still, I had no choice but to accept that this was too much firepower. Like, Libra could one-shot all the Seven Luminaries at once with that attack just now.

When Libra once again descended to the ground, she gave me a bow. “What wonderful power, master. With this, I will be able to lay waste to any enemy.”

“I-Indeed.”

“Thank you very much for granting one such as me a weapon. By the way, master...”

“Hmm? What is it?”

Libra was looking at me with upturned eyes. Normally, this wouldn’t happen, because we were very similar in height. When I looked closer, I noticed that Libra was standing on slightly lower ground than I was. It seemed to be a clearly calculated move.

“Where is the enemy I should use this on? Or should I ask, when will we encounter this enemy?”

Faced with that question and Libra’s undoubtedly excited tone, despite being outwardly expressionless, I instantly decided to seal Astraia away. At the very least, I’ve got to make it so that she won’t be able to use it without my permission. I didn’t really have a right to talk, since I was the one who’d made Astraia, but Libra was the type of person who should never have been given heavy firepower.

3

Far above in the skies of Mizgarz, someone flew close to the stratosphere, even higher than the peaks of Vanaheim. He had blue skin and golden eyes. His black hair reached down his back, and his pitch-black cloak signified to the world that he was the king of devils. Behind him was an army of high-level monsters, all of whom tirelessly followed the Devil King’s orders.

The Devil King Orm had a goal and was single-mindedly flying around the skies looking for “it.”

It had been one week since he’d started his quest. He had heard that what he was looking for was around here, but since it was constantly moving, it was very hard to get hold of, even for the Devil King. His efforts had been worth it, though. The thing he’d been searching for was currently right in front of his eyes.

“Found you,” Orm muttered, looking up.

He was looking at a ship. More specifically, he was looking at the top of the mast of the ship, which had gigantic wings sprouting out of it as it flew through the sky. There, a single man stood. His bright, golden hair shone in the sunlight and was styled slightly spiked. His face managed to maintain manliness while still giving off a feeling of delicate sensitivity. His muscular body probably stood over 180 cm tall. Coupled with his beautiful features, he looked amazing just standing there. One of his eyes was hidden under an eyepatch, and his outfit screamed “I am a pirate!” He wore a white coat which was decorated with an emblem emblazoned with a black wing on the back.

His name was Castor. He was also known as one of the Conquering Twelve Heavenly Stars, Gemini of the Twins.

“So you came... I learned that you were searching for us a couple days ago. What do you want, Devil King?”

“Castor... I have no business with you. What I want is the treasure hidden within the ship.”

Castor didn’t flinch or fall back even one step in the face of the Devil King, but Orm also never stopped smiling his fearless smile. The situation was reaching critical mass. Both sides maintained their composure, though, as if both sides knew they would win if it came down to a fight. Even so, neither let down their guard.

“I see. So you’re after the treasure. If that’s the case, want me to give it to you?”

“No, no. Unfortunately, what I’m after isn’t anything that I can exchange for money. I want the key that will allow me to reach the heavens.”

“Now that would be impossible. The only one who will be reaching the heavens is my one and only master. Not you.”

“So you insist on staying under Alcor, huh? You and your little sister... I suppose that’s all you’ll amount to.” Orm laughed tauntingly, but Castor coolly refused to take the bait.

They were first playing a game of verbal dodgeball.

“True, I am Lufas’s subordinate. I won’t deny that I am her loyal servant. I have no memory of ever having to answer to you, King of Devils.”

“Oh? Are you implying that I come up short against the Twelve Heavenly Stars? Now, that hurts my pride. I’m very sensitive, you know.”

“Well then, I apologize. Unfortunately, I’m rather honest and blunt. I’ll only tell you the truth.”

Neither of their smiles held any enmity. In fact, their smiles were so clear they almost seemed refreshing. If one didn’t pay attention to what they were saying, it might have seemed as if they were two good friends reminiscing or something. But the words they unleashed were like poison, and they both dodged the storm of barbed words in order to throw their own.

“Oh my... Would you like to test that?”

“I don’t recommend it. I don’t like fighting battles where the conclusion is obvious.” Orm narrowed his eyes tauntingly, and his surroundings started to waver as if they were just a mirage.

At the same time, Castor picked up his weapon, an anchor.

Anchors were normally used to stop boats, but this one was the size a human could hold, long enough to be akin to a spear. It might be more accurate to say it was a spear shaped like an anchor rather than being a real anchor. Even if its size was something a human could wield, its weight was an entirely different matter. The anchor was heavy enough that simply dropping it would crack the earth, but Castor lifted it easily as he jumped off of his beloved ship, the Argo.

Castor stopped in midair, facing Orm. “But if you’re going to come at me, then I’m not going to let that go unanswered. You’re gonna have to be prepared to get burned if you want it.”

“So all I’ll get is a burn? How kind.”

“It’s still a burn if you’re only ash.”

One flash. Two.

Castor swung his anchor so fast that the sound of his swing had to catch up. Those attacks, which caused gale winds, were aimed straight at Orm. Orm blocked them with his bare arm before unleashing some compressed mana from his palm. Castor easily spun his anchor and deflected the compressed mana before throwing out another large swing.

“Wind!”

The swung anchor conjured a blade of wind. While this was the same kind of Wood-element attack Jupiter had used, its strength and scope were far removed from what that member of the Seven Luminaries could achieve. It was a great invisible blade that could bisect a small island. If it hit, even Libra would be hurt.

Even that Orm defended against with only a single hand. Orm then rushed Castor and threw out a kick, the aftershocks of which managed to leave a wound on Castor’s cheek.

“Heh. I already knew this, but you really are stronger.”

The skirmish only lasted a scant few seconds, but Castor had already gotten a pretty accurate sense of the difference in their power levels. As he’d expected, Orm was stronger. Castor wasn’t sure he’d be able to win, even if he bent over backward for it.

But he’d already expected this, and he’d planned for it. There was nothing for Castor to be worried about.

Castor’s true strength wasn’t in one-on-one fights in the first place. As an individual, Castor lost out to the likes of Leon and Libra. Even so, he never doubted that he could bring to bear the greatest strength among all the Conquering Twelve Heavenly Stars. Fighting wasn’t just all about the individual. The overall strength of the group, or “army,” was what truly counted.

Castor raised his right hand into the sky. It served as a signal, and dozens of human forms gathered on the Argo’s deck. Each one of them had the aura of a strong fighter, and they all waited with an imposing air for the command to sortie.

Orm’s composure disappeared, a grim expression on his face.

“Argonautai, my comrades! Show me your power! Our great enemy is right here!”

Castor gave the order. Instantly, the heroes identified as the “Argonautai” jumped.

They numbered in the triple digits, and every single one of them was over level 500. In fact, the strongest of them were level 1000, even surpassing Castor in level. They were all survivors of the great war two hundred years ago. Actually, they hadn’t exactly “survived.”

They had all undoubtedly died before. They were all ancient heroes who’d sided with Lufas during that battle. Even after having been defeated and losing their lives, they’d managed to be reborn thanks to a fairy and were all still warriors who’d pledged loyalty to their black-winged lord.

A small fraction of the dead didn’t ascend to the afterlife but instead remained in the world. They became ghosts, walking corpses, or some sort of other monster. But an even smaller fraction of them, the ones with the strongest souls, had managed to retain their reason and nobility to become “heroic spirits.”

Castor’s little sister, Pollux—the other half of Gemini as well as the Fairy Princess—had the ability to use mana to grant heroic spirits temporary bodies and essentially revive them. The skill, which essentially made her a personal army, was named “Argonautai.” While the skill was basically cheating, Pollux herself had no combat power and no leadership ability. That was why her older brother, Castor, was the one leading them.

In other words, the skill was only successful when the two of them worked as one. That was the true power of the Argonautai skill.

“Pay close attention, Devil King! This is our power and our bond! This is the Fairy Princess’s sword, the black-winged army led by me, Castor!”

In perfect timing with Castor’s shout, the heroic spirits all attacked at once.

Orm’s magic bullet was completely defended against by a priest’s shield. A swordmaster’s blade cut into a monster that followed Orm. A grappler’s fist blew another monster away. An alchemist transmuted blades through which it created a storm, and another alchemist transmuted a giant golem which crushed several monsters all at once.

The power of those from two hundred years ago was tremendous. Each and every one of them could have been substituted for an army of thousands. Each was basically an entire national army unto themselves.

Since the skill was canceled when not in combat, the Argonautai’s Monster Tamers and alchemists couldn’t use their skills to grow the army’s strength. Even so, the Argonautai could be considered Mizgarz’s strongest army. Even the Devil King knew of its power. That was exactly why he’d taken his army of monsters with him.

But their strength was just different! The monster army, which was certainly not weak, was getting steadily and one-sidedly destroyed!

“You are certainly strong, Devil King. As an individual, you probably rival my lord. Your monsters as well. They’re not weak. But that’s all.”

As lone units, the monster army wasn’t inferior, but the fight was still one-sided. The monsters were indeed grouped together, but they were no army. No matter how far you tried to stretch the definition, they were simply a “herd.” The monsters had no teamwork, and with one hundred monsters there would be one hundred individual fights.

But the heroic spirits were different. Even with one hundred of them, they fought as one. All one hundred of their powers converged, and they used their perfectly synced movements and loyalty of steel to face their enemies. Each one of them relied on the other in battle. They encouraged each other and inspired bravery among themselves in order to face strong opponents. With the Argonautai, one plus one was not two. It was ten, or even one hundred. That was why they were an army. They were the definition of united.

“You and your horde that knows nothing but straightforward clashes have no chance against us, who have united under Lufas Maphaahl’s banner! As a leader, you are far outmatched by our lord!”

Castor veritably slid through the air and slammed his weapon at Orm.

Orm’s arms and Castor’s anchor clashed several times, each accompanied by a shower of sparks. Orm’s black cloak flapped in the wind, and Castor’s white coat similarly billowed. Both men were like comets, speeding through the skies and clashing over and over. If the one-on-one battle continued, Orm would probably win.

A strider jumped in to help Castor, managing a shallow cut on Orm’s wrist while a sorcerer’s magic engulfed him.

“This is the end, Devil King! Scatter, heroes! This last hit will finish it!”

The heroic spirits heeded Castor’s orders and retreated all at once. Then, Castor unleashed the greatest Wood element attack spell he could manage. A storm was conjured, lightning struck, and behind Castor appeared the majestic, shining forms of fifty giant gods.

In this world, the one true god was Alovenus, but religion would always branch off and splinter depending on the times and the area, so the gods born from humanity’s imagination were endless. These conjured forms were all apparitions of gods that had been buried in the darkness of history in Alovenus’s name, their religions brought low as heretical cults, and their worshipers possibly even thrown to the demons. It was a summoning.

“Gods of Fifty Names!” With Castor’s cry, the fifty false gods attacked at once.

There was a main god of a mythos born from human imagination. There was also a war god and a god of the underworld. There was even a half-deity, one with human blood. Some false gods breathed fire, and some attacked with their fists. They brewed up storms, caused lightning to strike, and used their divine brilliance in other ways to trample the enemy.

Eventually, their attacks finished, and not a single monster was left standing. As for Orm, he was no longer there.

“So it’s over.”

Castor, who’d still been floating in the sky, dropped to the ground, exhausted, and looked around at the monsters. Those who had lost their lives would eventually return to the earth and dissolve into mana, which would circulate the world.

I’ve somehow managed to protect that which my little sister left me.

For two hundred years after his lord and master was defeated, Castor had been safeguarding this item using his ship and heroic spirits. It was a key to reach the heavens, which, if used incorrectly, could destroy the world. There was no way he could allow it to fall into the hands of the devilfolk. It was for his lord who would eventually return and her only.

While his little sister didn’t have any combat power herself, she was the Fairy Princess and possessed a mysterious ability. It had been she herself who’d told Castor that their master would one day return.

So, Castor had been ordered to protect the key. That was two hundred years ago.

I can only lead armies and fight, but my little sister definitely sees what will happen in the future. Either that, or our lord gave her an order before that battle.

That was why Castor was still here. He believed in his lord and his little sister, so he had continued to fight for two hundred straight years.

“Now then, I should move the ship before the next challengers come.”

Convinced of his victory, Castor made to return to the ship.

That’s when it happened. Suddenly, a black flash parted the clouds and sliced through the ship.

“What?!”

There was someone left?!

While being forced to watch his smoking ship sink, Castor readied his anchor and turned around. His heroic spirits also prepared for battle, each one readying their weapons. That was when they saw their enemy. It was big—too big—and it writhed beyond the smoke and clouds.

“Wha— What...?! Th-That’s...? No way... That’s impossible...!”

Just how long is it?! One kilometer? No.

Ten kilometers? No!

Its form was way too large and way too long... Long enough to wrap around all of Mizgarz...

The huge shadow pierced through the clouds to show its face, giving the heroic spirits a large dose of fear.

“W-Waaaaaaarrrrgghhh?!”

As an army, they had certainly won. Orm’s horde had been completely destroyed, but they weren’t aware... They didn’t know that some truly unfair and unimaginable beings existed in this world, or that devastatingly powerful individuals who could overwhelm entire armies existed. But they realized that fact today, just as they realized the real reason why the Seven Heroes had been defeated two hundred years ago...

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