―――My left eye hurts.
The building has collapsed.
Hidden in the shadows of the rubble, Beldi spies on the intense battle between Ann and Joker.
Well, to be precise, her gaze is fixed solely on one.
The black ant monster — Ann.
「Why… why are you here?」
You should be in the dungeon.
Far from here, in the depths of the Eld Desert dungeon.
You should be in the very end of the dungeon I’m supposed to challenge.
So why are you here, on the surface, in this place?
She murmurs, almost to herself. There’s no one around to answer.
She wishes she could confront Ann now, demand answers.
But she can’t leave.
She looks down.
The injured form of Farley, resting on the ground.
Like other adventurers, she battled the black mist but was overwhelmed. Her magical power drained. The building’s collapse added more injuries all over her body.
I couldn’t leave her side.
I must protect her.
Suddenly, Farley’s eyes flutter open.
「Be… Beldi… is that you?」
「Farley! You’re awake? Don’t worry, I’m here. Rest assured.」
Reassuring herself more than Farley, Beldi speaks quickly.
She mustn’t let her emotions show.
Mustn’t let her worry.
After all, she is an S-Rank adventurer, much stronger than Farley.
She can’t show weakness.
Especially not in front of the enemy who once hurt her sister. She’d never admit to being shaken.
Farley stares blankly at Beldi, then her lips part slowly.
「Did… something happen?」
Beldi hesitates for a moment, hiding her reaction.
She offers Farley a potion.
「It’s more than just ‘something’. This black mist has thrown the whole capital into chaos. Here, drink this. Take your time.」
Beldi gently helps Farley sip the potion.
Her color improves slightly.
But where should I take Farley next?
Is there even a safe place left in the capital?
Between the urge to protect Farley and the pull to the battlefield right away.
However, as if sensing her hesitation, Farley speaks.
「There’s… something, isn’t there?」
「…I-I’m fine. So… please go.」
「W-What are you saying? Are you asking me to abandon you?」
I have a duty to protect her.
I wasn’t there for my sister. My sister, Paldi, died because of that absence.
So, she has to protect Farley at all costs, especially when she’s right in front of her.
Yet, Farley smiles, a reassuring look on her face.
「It’s okay… I don’t want you to have any more ‘regrets’. Right now, you’re making the same face you did when Paldi passed away.」
「I’m sorry for being a burden. But, I’ll be okay. I’ll find a place to hide and stay put. I can protect myself to some extent…」
「But it’s dangerous. I need to… I need to protect you properly—」
「Don’t… don’t be stupid!」
Beldi is taken aback by Farley’s sudden outburst.
「Protect me? That’s not your job, Beldi. As adventurers, we need to protect ourselves. Please take back what you just said.」
With a mix of frustration and determination, Farley continues.
She once was protected.
No, she was inadvertently saved.
Saved by a young magician who, even after dying and having her soul consumed by a golem, tried to rescue her.
I was alive thanks to her, escaping and living up to this point in a disgraceful manner.
I always regretted that.
But that’s not all.
Just the other day, I felt like a burden to Wald and Beldi.
Being just a protected entity?
Don’t joke with me.
I’m an adventurer too.
Even if she’s weak, she has her own stubbornness—her pride.
「I’m an… ‘adventurer’ too. So… please go.」
Seeing that determination, those eyes filled with unwavering will, Beldi can’t help but falter.
She feels a pang of shame for disregarding Farley’s pride so thoughtlessly.
The pain in her left eye seems to intensify.
―――what you are saying is an…”insult” to your sister…
A line she had once been told, by an enemy.
I wasn’t there, and that’s why Paldi died?
Because I’m here, I can protect Farley?
What an arrogant thought.
Beldi finally grasps its true meaning.
「Yes… you’re right.」
She murmurs, almost to herself.
She hadn’t understood.
She hadn’t even tried to.
How important that realization was.
Beldi gives Farley the remaining potion.
「This should help you move a bit more. I’m sorry, but… stay as far away as you can.」
「Yes, take care.」
「I will. I’m off.」
She doesn’t want to waste Farley’s determination.
And with that, Beldi heads into the heart of the battlefield.
At the site of Fafnir’s lid―――
「Why are you here, ‘World Piercer’ Beldi Raven? Why are you in a place like this?」
With the black ant, her sworn enemy, behind her, Beldi confronts a man dressed like a jester.
She can sense his overwhelming magical power.
A calamity… no, a catastrophe, or even beyond that?
From the recent battle, there’s no doubt this man is related to the black mist.
Who the hell is he?
His immense magical power and the enveloping black mist…
（Could it be…）
Beldi has a growing suspicion.
Among the three Evil God-class recorded in the guild’s official records, one is known as “Dream Mist.”
A legendary demonic mist that once wiped out an entire continent.
Is the monster before her that very legendary existence?
Ignoring her caution, the man in front of her looks completely unperturbed.
「What’s the matter? Ignoring me is quite rude, you know?」
Joker continues to talk, twirling his baton.
「To begin with, why are you helping that monster? I might not know the details, but that monster is supposed to be your nemesis, right? It killed your sister, after all. So, why help it?」
Joker tilts his head in confusion.
Beldi remains silent.
But for a split second, her spear twitches.
Joker moans thoughtfully,
「Ah, I see. Maybe you can’t stand the idea of someone else taking your prey? If that’s the case, I don’t mind. If you want to kill it, if you want to deliver the final blow, I’ll let you. Go on, do as you please.」
「Huh? What was that? I didn’t catch that.」
「I SAID SHUT UP!」
Bursts of high-density magical energy shoot from Beldi’s spear.
Joker narrowly dodges it.
「Whoa! What are you doing…? Why are you so angry—」
「I hate it… Oh, I still hate it. No matter how many times, hundreds or thousands, I kill it, it’s never enough.」
While holding down the left eye covered with an eye patch, Beldi murmurs.
“But,” she continues.
「This isn’t the place I should kill it.」
She points at the fallen Ann as she speaks.
「I’ll kill it in its dungeon. I’ll conquer every inch of it, crush everything it stands for, and then I’ll kill it. That’s my answer as an ‘adventurer.’」
A resolute gleam shines in her sole eye.
That’s Beldi’s answer.
As an adventurer, as a sister, she wants to live a life she won’t be ashamed of.
It’s her way of atoning and paying respect to her sister.
「…I don’t like that.」
Joker says dismissively.
「I really don’t like your way of thinking. You’re supposed to be an adventurer. You kill monsters, earn money, and go on adventures. Having a chance to kill but not taking it? That’s some disgustingly sweet, sugar-coated thought. It deviates from the essence of an adventurer.」
Joker stops twirling his baton.
He takes a step forward.
With a single swift move, Joker circles around to Beldi’s back.
「―――You’re also a ‘imposter’, aren’t you?」
His voice is laced with a mix of sneers and laughter.
At the same time, his black baton strikes Beldi’s side.
But instinctively, Beldi erects a wind magic shield for protection.
She manages to reduce the damage, but the force still sends her flying over ten meters.
「Haha! Nailed that combo.」
But before Beldi can get her bearings, Joker is already ahead of her, lunging from the front with a full swing.
Bent backward in the air, Beldi somersaults uncontrollably.
Joker promptly forms a trampoline out of dark mist under his feet, using it to launch himself in pursuit.
He strikes again, and without a chance to brace herself, Beldi crashes heavily into the ground.
As Beldi struggles to rise, Joker steps down hard on her head, grinding it into the dirt.
「Ha! Did you, an S-Rank adventurer, really think you could face off against a divine disaster-class monster? That’s a poor joke; I can’t even laugh.」
Joker’s words seem mocking, almost as if he’s telling her that her efforts are entirely pointless.
「Man, this is hilariously pathetic. Trying to act all cool, looking determined… And now look at you, so disgraceful. Honestly, right now, you seem more like the clown than I do.」
He increases the pressure of his foot, eliciting a pained groan from Beldi.
Joker’s gaze shifts to the spear in her hand.
The moment she tries to channel her magic into the weapon, Joker forcefully strikes her hand.
「That spear of yours—Gungnir—it doesn’t recognize you now. Without its acknowledgment, you’re hardly a match.」
「What… are you saying…?」
Recognized by Gungnir?
What does he mean?
A sharp pain throbs in Beldi’s left eye.
The same eye that had been lost when she became the owner of Gungnir.
That pain has been escalating since the fight began.
「Oops, seems I’ve said too much. But if I kill you now, it won’t matter, I guess.」
Joker concentrates his magic.
The baton in his hand sharpens, transforming into a spear-like weapon.
From point-blank range, Beldi releases a surge of magic from her Gungnir.
Using the recoil, she manages to free herself from beneath Joker’s foot.
「Oh, you dodged! Alright then, here comes the next one!」
Joker quickly closes the gap, swinging his baton again.
Beldi, thinking fast, rolls away to dodge, then springs back to her feet, launching her spear at Joker.
But he easily dodges it.
And now, he’s counterattacking, swinging his baton from her blind spot—her left side.
Fortunately, she narrowly avoids the hit.
「You dodge quite well…」
Joker mutters, clearly finding the exchange a nuisance.
「…I can’t afford to waste any more magic on someone like you.」
With a snap of his fingers, countless black tentacles sprout around him.
The black tentacles rush towards Beldi.
She tries to fend them off with her spear, but their sheer number overwhelms her.
In no time, they wrap around her, immobilizing her completely.
「Damn… Wind, become my blade―――」
Just as she starts chanting a spell, a tentacle wraps around her mouth, silencing her.
「Futile. For starters, that mist absorbs magic. Even if you did manage to cast, it would be pointless. But why take chances?」
「Wow, these tentacles sure are something. Without some cheat-like ability, tentacles are simply strong.」
Nodding in approval, Joker releases even more tentacles.
They constrict Beldi, emphasizing the curves of her feminine form.
Desperately, Beldi tries to resist, but the more she struggles, the tighter the tentacles bind.
（―――Can’t extend Gungnir. My magic’s being drained…）
The tentacles are wrapped around Gungnir too.
Anytime she tries to channel her magic, the tentacles suck it away, preventing her from using the spear.
「Looks like you’re cornered.」
「Aren’t you going to say something defiant? ‘I’ll kill you’ or something? That’s the usual script, or so Aoba told me. …Did he get it wrong?」
With a snap of his fingers, Joker releases the tentacle from Beldi’s mouth.
It’s clear he wants her to speak.
「Well? Hurry up and beg for your death. If you do, I might make it quick. Or would you rather plead for your life?」
「In your… dream.」
Who is he to demand her death?
Who is he to suggest she’d grovel for her life?
I can’t die yet.
I refuse to die.
Summoning all her strength, Beldi struggles against the tentacles, trying to break free.
「Haha, your screams won’t change anything. Now, for the finishing blow.」
Joker’s baton fills with magic, aimed directly at her.
She feels death’s impending grip. But,
「I… won’t die here!」
I made a promise.
To defeat that black ant.
To conquer the dungeon it created.
I can’t die here.
I can’t lose to this foe.
A sharp pain pierces through.
Blood flows from her left eye.
She grips her spear tightly.
Hear me… Hear me, Gungnir!
The magic spear that can pierce even gods!
If you’re a sacred weapon, then show your worth!
Lend me your power!
Fight alongside me!
To keep living, to move forward!
Become my strength!
Suddenly, an intense pain, far beyond what she had ever felt, rips through her left eye.
And in that moment, a radiant red spear shines brightly.
Beldi’s eyepatch falls away, revealing the eye she had sacrificed upon becoming the wielder of Gungnir.
An eye she had gouged out herself, to embed in the spear, is there.
It’s a gleaming golden iris.
「What the… she’s ‘awakened’?」
In the blink of an eye, Gungnir extends, changing its trajectory with fluidity and slicing through the tentacles binding Beldi.
「What… what’s with this eye?」
Her vision has shifted, revealing a world unlike before.
Joker glares at Beldi with clear annoyance.
Black tentacles lunge at Beldi once again, but she dodges them effortlessly, slashing through each one.
Her speed is completely different from before, enough to astonish even Joker.
「―――Damn it! I really didn’t want to use any more magic!」
A massive surge of magic converges around Joker.
「Summon: Black Baku!」
Behind Joker, a black beast emerges – the same Black Baku that had previously swallowed Ann.
Summoning this immense power for a second time, even the formidable Joker shows signs of strain.
「Haa… haa… Now, vanish! ‘World Piercer’!」
A torrent of overwhelming magic.
The beast, known to consume dreams and bring forth nightmares, opens its maw wide, trying to engulf Beldi.
But to the now-awakened Beldi, this threatening scene seems to move in slow motion.
She isn’t afraid.
It doesn’t feel threatening.
―――I can see.
The flow of magic, its trajectory, everything.
How to swing the spear.
Where to thrust and pierce.
She understands it all.
She sees points of light.
Several on the black beast.
Lines of light become visible.
Lines resembling threads extend from these points of light.
Following these threads, Beldi wields her spear.
She doesn’t need force.
Speed isn’t necessary either.
Her body just moves, tracing that line.
And just like that — Gungnir penetrates the Black Baku.
Joker exclaims in astonishment, watching as the Black Baku disintegrates.
「The power… it’s overflowing…」
Even Beldi is surprised by the outcome.
However, her crimson spear alone shone brightly, as if to say, “This is only natural.”
The true power of Gungnir, the Gungnir, manifests when combined with the sacrificed left eye.
The recognized wielder of Gungnir is granted an “eye” that sees everything: the flow of magic, presence, weaknesses, trajectory.
The ultimate eye that can visualize everything.
Beldi has been recognized.
Recognized by her partner to be worthy of that eye — the true power of the God Killing Spear, Gungnir.
Joker grinds his teeth in frustration.
「Pulling out your real power at the last second? What are you, some kind of protagonist? Makes me look like some second-rate villain here! This is just ridiculous!」
Countless duplicates of Joker appear around him.
I can’t waste any more magic.
Any more would compromise the barrier.
I have to somehow take down this woman using just these duplicates.
However, against the current Beldi, that was a terribly wrong move.
She can see.
She can perceive the movements of the duplicates, the flow of magic — everything is clear as day to her.
Beldi swings her spear.
Gungnir, with its ability to stretch and contract, pierces and pins down the duplicates one by one.
In no time, the number of duplicates diminishes, causing Joker to panic.
「…This isn’t good. What to do, what to do… At this rate, I can’t be of use to Senior Rias…」
My magical power is running low.
Maintaining the barrier is becoming impossible.
Facing such an annoying opponent in this condition―――
「…Hm? Wait a sec. Why do I need to face her at all?」
If the opponent is bothersome, there’s no need to fight.
———Just run away.
The only real threat here is Beldi right in front of me.
The imposter Black Ant is still trapped in the nightmare.
Leaving my post would be an issue, but it doesn’t matter.
I can regroup and plan a surprise attack or something similar later.
Such a change in strategy!
Now’s the time to act quickly.
「Dark Smoke Screen!」
He releases a black smog from his entire body.
「Hahaha! Sorry, but I’ll be making a quick exit! Be careful not to walk the streets alone at night!」
Joker says, sounding almost like a low-tier villain.
「…That’s a poor choice, jester.」
Beldi softly mutters.
『———Yes, exactly as she says.』
A clear, beautiful female voice resonates directly in Joker’s head.
In the next moment…
With a swift WHOOSH,
All the black fog disperses — as if the magic itself has been “nullified.”
Joker recognizes this phenomenon.
Cold sweat trickles down his back.
He turns around, and there… there stands someone he knows all too well.
「No… this can’t be…」
Joker murmurs in disbelief.
After all, this person should’ve been trapped in the nightmare he created, unable to break free.
Should’ve been reduced to a lifeless puppet, unable to speak or move.
And yet, why…
「Why… Why are you awake!?」
Standing before him is the Black Ant, clad in blue armor.
Awakened from the nightmare, it’s Ann.
And the great sword in her hand is brought down, aimed straight for Joker.
―――In the deep, impenetrable darkness, Ann drifts.
It’s the worst nightmare imaginable.
Again and again, she’s forced to relive it, over and over.
In reality, mere seconds pass, but it feels like centuries have gone by within this nightmare.
Worn down to the edge of her sanity, Ann, now a lifeless puppet, floats aimlessly in this abyss of ignorance.
I don’t feel like doing anything.
I don’t want to think about anything.
『―――Get out, we don’t need you.』
Earth’s voice from within the nightmare echoes, gnawing at Ann’s mind.
Ah, there are countless others who could take my place.
Elja, Rasetsu, Gonzo, Berg―――
If I were gone, Earth wouldn’t even notice.
The thought painfully clenches her heart.
The mere chance brought me to him first.
Couldn’t it have been anyone else?
Did anything I do even matter?
Could someone else have taken my place by Lord Earth’s side?
Doubts, suspicions, and wretched feelings race through her.
It’s an ugly emotion, full of envy, jealousy, and possessiveness.
Above all others, she yearns to be by his side.
She can’t bear the thought of someone else being there.
Overwhelming dark emotions engulf Ann’s heart.
In the illusionary dungeon, she cried out many times.
―――I want to stay with you.
She also pleaded with everyone.
Please, accept me again.
But each time, she faced rejection.
In her anguish, she even turned her sword against them, killing the very family she had spent time with, even if it was all an illusion.
Tears flow uncontrollably as Ann confronts the inherent ugliness of her nature.
She realizes she’s such a hideous being.
She yearns to be by his side so much that she’d even hurt or kill others.
But the response she always gets is the same.
『I don’t need you. I never needed you.』
Don’t say that!
Please don’t say such things!
I…. Ann has always cherished you, dedicating her blade for you alone…
So why… why…
『―――Just disappear from my sight.』
Oh… Oh no… Ah…
Endless despair pulls Ann further into the abyss of darkness.
Eventually, her spirit wears thin, and she stops thinking altogether.
She becomes a mute puppet.
Her world closes in.
In her self-contained loneliness, she feels happiness.
If she doesn’t interact with anyone, doesn’t think, and doesn’t act, she won’t get hurt or rejected.
In her enclosed, self-sufficient world, Ann hides away.
It’s such bliss.
No one can reject her here.
In this sealed-off realm, what greater happiness could there be?
Why had she ever tried so hard?
The reason eludes her, but it must be trivial compared to the joy she feels now.
At least… it should be.
『But… is this truly what you want?』
Suddenly, a voice reaches her.
It’s crystal clear, like that of a beautiful woman, even in the darkness.
Who is it?
Please don’t enter my world.
『My world? You say funny things. This place isn’t ‘your’ world, is it?』
No, you’re wrong.
This is where I belong.
A place where no one exists, where I’m not rejected or needed. It’s my sanctuary.
『That can’t be true, can it?』
The voice seems almost mocking.
Why are you so sure?
What do you know about me?
『I know because―――』
『Because, you――― aren’t you crying?』
Ann touches her cheek.
Only now does she realize.
Tears are staining her face.
They pour endlessly from her eyes.
Why… why am I crying?
『A person content in their own secluded world would never shed tears for someone else. Isn’t this proof enough that you haven’t given up on your connections with others, with your lord?』
He said he doesn’t need me…
Lord Earth rejected me… but I couldn’t fully give up.
I tried over and over, only to be betrayed and rejected every time.
I’ve given up…
『But you couldn’t completely let go, could you?』
Yes, that’s right.
Even if despair tries to consume me time and time again, I still…
I… “Ann” still wants to be by his side, by Lord Earth’s side…
I want to greet tomorrow with laughter, together with him…
I want to walk alongside him…
That was all I ever wanted.
That was my only wish.
For that reason, I… Ann will stand up again and again.
Someone’s voice is filled with laughter.
『That’s the spirit. Now, wake up.』
A blinding light pierces through.
Someone grasps her hand.
『Please, stop them. Save those I couldn’t… those still lost and wandering. I grant you the power to do so―――』
Ann’s body briefly shimmers with light.
A surge of power overflows within her.
———Who are you?
She questions, but no answer comes.
Yet, amidst the light, she feels as if she sees a fleeting image of someone resembling her, smiling.
I won’t waver any longer.
Before she realizes it, the fog lifts.
———The nightmare is over.
The dream has been broken.
Beneath the mask, Joker’s face tenses.
A brief moment of paralysis.
It’s a fatal opening, and Ann doesn’t miss it.
『I’m grateful, Joker… Thanks to you, I’ve confronted my true self.』
「W-What are you babbling about?」
She faced her inner ugliness, doubts, weaknesses, emotions, thoughts, everything head-on.
She’s come to understand what truly matters.
The nightmare has ended.
Dreams exist to be awoken from.
The significance lies in waking from dreams and moving forward.
That’s why this nightmare had a purpose.
She’s overcome it.
『Now, it’s over, ‘Dream Mist’ Joker!』
Ann’s great sword strikes down into Joker’s body.
With a crisp CRACK!, Joker’s mask shatters into countless pieces.
Sub29: Hey there! If you enjoy the content and want to stay updated with all the latest, make sure to follow my channel on WhatsApp! Click here to follow
October 2023 Patron: GoatBeards