Now, while Ann is somehow taking on a protagonist-like role and battling it out with Joker, what was our real protagonist, the so-called ‘Worthless Dragon’ Earth, doing? Well, he was holed up deep within a dungeon, just like a shut-in dragon.
Deep within Earth’s dungeon, even further in its “innermost depths”―――
Anyway, I decide to leave the path to the surface to Ann and Elja.
For now, I have my own preparations to make.
To prepare for battle.
Huh? You thought I was down and out?
I’ve made a comeback.
To be clear, even I can get angry.
At least, this is the first time I’ve genuinely snapped since being reincarnated as the Earth Dragon.
Moreover, I’m currently in a mental reversal state.
I bounce back quickly… sniffle.
It―It’s not like I care about the opinions of my subordinates!
How everyone usually sees me or how I sometimes recklessly do things without listening – I truly, honestly, absolutely don’t care about all that! …sniffle.
「Dad, here’s a magic stone.」
Crunch, crunch, gulp.
Mmm, it’s salty…
Thanks, both of you.
Your kindness touches my wounds.
With that, we arrive in my bedroom.
Of course, we’re not here for an afternoon nap.
The bed made of dirt and branches.
When it’s moved, there’s a hidden passage beneath.
Going down that passage, an open space reveals itself.
「Dad, where are we」
Tres and Pururu, who’ve come with me, ask the question.
Honestly, I wanted to come alone, but these two just wouldn’t leave my side.
It’s very cute to see Tres holding Pururu while gently grips one of my scales.
It’s so soothing.
But, any intruders? I’ll annihilate them.
This is a secret room known only to me, hidden even from Elibel and Ann.
The room is dark.
The room’s light magic stones aren’t usually powered.
I have to consciously channel magic into them to light the space up.
『Just hang tight for a second. I’ll turn on the light now.』
I pour my magic into a nearby light magic stone.
The light from the magic stone illuminates the space.
There, something sits majestically.
Something I’ve crafted with the utmost care to ensure my subordinates don’t discover.
To me, it’s my final and greatest “trump card.”
「Eh, is that…?」
Both of them seem surprised.
Well, I expected that.
This is kind of my last resort.
―――To be honest, I really didn’t want to use it.
But, I’m at my limit now.
People might say I’m going overboard, but do I look like I care?
With this, I’ll wipe out both the intruders and those on the surface.
Just thinking about it gets my blood boiling.
I slowly approach “it,” touching and channeling my magic.
Yep… looks like it’ll work without a hitch.
Simultaneously, the light of a teleportation gate appears beneath me.
Ah, it seems Gijie’s analysis is complete.
Now, let’s fight back―――
Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the Imperial Capital―――
The moment Ann’s strike lands on Joker, the barrier wavers for an instant.
And there’s someone who doesn’t miss that fleeting moment.
「―――The barrier’s weakened!」
Ever since the mist barrier appeared, she’s been watching it intently, not missing a beat.
That’s why she notices the anomaly right away.
「Well, looks like it. You think you can handle it, Eli?」
「Obviously. Who do you think you’re talking to?」
Elibel responds, her stance firm with her staff at the ready.
The magical force of the barrier is fluctuating.
If they miss this chance, they might not get another.
Elibel has already finished her incantation.
Without hesitation, she activates her magic.
A forbidden magic that interferes and dominates the opponent’s spellwork.
Numerous magic circles emerge around Elibel, beginning to interfere with the black mist.
At first, the mist resists, but soon after, a hole forms in the misty barrier.
「Wow! As expected of Eli. Being able to interfere with even a cataclysmic barrier. That’s truly awe-inspiring.」
Says Léna-Lloyd, dripping with genuine admiration.
In terms of calculation speed in magic, interference power, and analysis capability, Elibel surpasses even the cataclysmic monsters.
And she does all this with the limitations of being physically and magically on a rank of General-class.
Léna-Lloyd fully understands just how formidable that is.
Of course, had the barrier not shown a moment of vulnerability, even she might not have been able to interfere.
But there’s no use in thinking of what-ifs.
What matters is that they’ve created an opening.
「Alright! Let’s move!」
Following Elibel, Berg and Léna-Lloyd also dive into the breach.
The moment they pass through the misty barrier, the devastated and ravaged streets of the Imperial Capital come into view.
「Wow… seems like Rias has been more rampant than we imagined. Or maybe she’s truly desperate. What do you think, Eli?」
「I don’t care about that. For now, we need to get to that woman quickly―――」
She stops mid-sentence, realizing something.
———Jibru and Gwyve are missing.
Why haven’t they entered yet?
Why on earth?
She glances back toward the hole.
Jibru seems to be holding her mouth, as if suppressing something.
What’s going on?
Just as she’s about to investigate the entrance she created, a voice interrupts her.
「Eli, watch out!」
Suddenly, Léna-Lloydd shoves her aside.
A lightning bolt blasts through where Elibel just stood, striking the hole in the barrier.
The barrier closes once more.
「―――Damn it! What the hell!?」
「….Don’t worry. It’s not that bad」
Léna-Lloyd reassures, even as her right arm is gruesomely scarred.
「…Tch, I missed…」
A low voice resonates.
Turning to its source, they see a young man dressed in the traditional garb of Wano Country, with eyes sharp as lightning.
「So… ‘Thunder Slash’ Aoba Kirishima. Seems you really are on their side.」
Léna-Lloyd murmurs to herself.
Aoba glares at Léna-Lloyd with contempt.
「Witch of Reynolds… You owe me for the comrades you took from me.」
Confused, Léna-Lloyd tilts her head.
After a moment’s thought, she recalls.
Right, I had instructed Rugios to eliminate everyone I thought was working with Rias.
When in doubt, just kill them.
Seems a few of the “hits” were closer to the mark than she realized.
She had forgotten, what with the joy of being with Elibel and all.
「The foes of ‘Ice Flame’ and ‘Sound Sealer’—I’ll take you down right here and now.」
He says that, but I really don’t know.
Who the heck is that anyway?
Honestly, I couldn’t care less.
After all, she’s only really interested in Elibel and those she’s close to.
「Humu, Eli. I’ll hold this guy off for now, so you can go ahead.」
「Of course, it’s no problem. Actually, I’ve always wanted to say a line like that… Plus, I have a few things I want to ask this guy.」
「A shy person like you, interrogating someone?」
Léna-Lloyd took damage.
A direct hit!
It’s super effective!
「No, I’m fine. I’ll just leave the questioning to Rugios later… Come on, leave this to m—
「Then I’ll be heading out. You got this!」
「Blessings on your quest, Léna-Lloyd!」
Before Léna-Lloyd can finish her line, Elibel and Berg already start to move.
「Hey! At least let me finish my line! Hey!」
Amidst her pitiful shout, Aoba speaks up.
「…Are we done with the clown show?」
It seems he’s been waiting patiently.
Aoba draws his blade and takes his stance.
Seeing this, Léna-Lloyd gulps.
The immense pressure she feels standing face-to-face is daunting.
It’s so intense.
I feel like my heart’s being crushed.
———Talking to strangers is…
She takes a deep breath.
Trying to ignore the pain from her charred right arm.
Compared to the pain of conversation, it’s just a mosquito bite.
Focus on the conversation.
You can do it, you can!
「…Were you really okay with letting them go?」
Good job, I didn’t stutter!
Léna-Lloyd feels like doing a little victory dance inside!
I can do this if I try.
「They can go. Lau is at the Imperial Palace, and Rias’ ceremony is almost over. The Death Dragon will be resurrected. They won’t make it.」
「Well, we’ll see about that.」
Léna-Lloyd exudes confidence as she responds.
―――Amazing! I’m so incredible!
To think I could speak with others this calmly.
I won’t let anyone say I’m just a boring, loner girl anymore!
「Oh? Do you have some sort of ‘plan’? Did I make the right call in keeping you here after all?」
Despite her defiant laugh, Léna-Lloyd is secretly exhilarated.
But with that excitement comes a torrent of sweat down her back.
Yet, the giddy Léna-Lloyd doesn’t notice it at all.
Essentially, just like Elibel, she belongs to the category of “smart idiots”.
That overconfident idiot opens her mouth first.
「Before we fight, could I ask you something?」
「…What is it?」
Taking her time, Léna-Lloyd poses her question.
「’Lightning Slayer’ Aoba Kirishima (アオバ・キリシマ). Or should I say… Kirishima Aoba (斬嶋青葉)? Have you found someone from your ‘vorld’?」
I messed up my words with a smug look on my face!
I couldn’t do it after all!
She realized she can’t converse with others without getting her mind straight first.
She panics. An uncomfortable sweat drips down her back.
「…You witch. How did you know that?」
In response, Aoba stares at her with slightly widened eyes.
He doesn’t seem to mind that Léna-Lloyd fumbled her words.
It’s not really the time to care about that.
「W-Well, who knows?」
Feigning calm, Léna-Lloyd evades the question.
（Damn it! I should have just started the fight silently!）
She screams inside her mind.
She can’t handle any more conversation, mentally speaking.
Her armpits are drenched in sweat.
Léna-Lloyd gets into her fighting stance (obviously trying to look cool and serious).
「So, if I want an answer, I have to fight and win, is that it?」
Mistakenly jumping to conclusions, magical power erupts from Aoba.
The air vibrates with his overwhelming aura.
Léna-Lloyd laughs fearlessly, not losing her composure.
But inside, she’s panicking.
（Oh my god, why did I mess up in such a crucial moment?! I ruined the intense mood! Eli, help me! I’m at my wit’s end!）
That’s pretty much the situation.
It’s too disappointing.
Yet, possessing combat skills comparable to Elibel in her prime makes the situation unbearable.
「―――Let’s do this!」
The Witch of Reynolds and the legendary adventurer known as the “Thunder Slash”.
A battle between two of the strongest, bound to leave their mark on history, begins.
…With a stark contrast in intensity between the two.
Meanwhile, near the site of Fáfnir’s lid―――
The shattered mask reveals the true face of Joker.
Surprisingly, underneath, he looks like a young boy.
However, his face is drenched in sweat, and dark circles under his eyes radiate a sense of despair.
Joker subconsciously touches his wound.
The bleeding won’t stop.
He feels like he’s about to lose consciousness.
The magic-nullifying properties of the Magic Sword Ridill, can indeed inflict “wounds”, even on a misty creature like Joker.
It’s a terrible match-up.
Inside, Joker raises a white flag.
He’s done. He had underestimated this “imposter”, but this enemy is genuinely powerful.
Powerful enough to overcome the nightmare Joker has conjured.
And what’s this strange sensation?
This “imposter” exudes a familiar magical aura, one that feels oddly nostalgic to Joker.
『With such injuries, and you still stand? Admirable spirit, even for an enemy.』
The black ant before him praises.
「Hah… Like I’d feel happy being praised by you…」
There’s only one thing that brings him joy.
When he’s of use to her – to Rias.
『So be it… It ends now!』
The black ant in front of him lunges, attempting to land the finishing blow.
That’s not all.
From behind, “World Piercer” also makes her move.
A pincer attack.
Joker can’t dodge in his current state.
The word floats up in Joker’s mind.
Me, who’s counted among the calamities?
「You’ve gotta be… kidding me…」
Joker’s eyes aren’t lifeless.
I haven’t given up.
I can’t afford to lose.
I can’t die.
In a split second, an image of a woman surfaces in his mind.
『You always have such a gloomy look on your face.』
He remembers when she first spoke those words.
That monster had been weak.
The weakest in the dungeon he inhabited.
So he had no place there.
No name either.
He was all alone.
It was lonely…
『―――You can relax. Even if you end up all by yourself, I’ll be watching over you』
Then she reached out to me.
She gave me a name.
『―――How about ‘Joker’?』
He’d asked what it meant.
『Among the humans, it means ‘wild card.’ What do you think?』
Honestly, he felt it didn’t suit him.
Too grand for someone as weak and timid as he was.
But she just smiled and said,
『Then work hard to make it fit.』
Her smile was blindingly beautiful.
『Work hard to become a monster worthy of that name. Be proud of it. So, take care from now on, ‘Joker’―――』
Like a ray of light cutting through the mist.
He felt saved by that smile.
She gave meaning to his existence, a sense of worth, when no one else noticed him.
She needed him, despite everything.
With a swift move, Joker grabs the large sword that’s been thrust at him.
「…I remember now.」
Even with a face twisted in pain, Joker forces a grin.
「My name is ‘Joker’! I’m Rias’s trump card! I can’t… I can’t lose! Not ever!!」
The mask shatters, revealing his true face.
Deep within his eyes, a fierce light resides.
The intensity of his spirit, or perhaps his obsession, is so strong it’s almost palpable, pressing down on Ann.
An intense, swirling black mist gathers around Joker’s other hand.
It’s so dense and dark, it’s reminiscent of a miniature black hole.
At point-blank range, Joker releases his magic spell, hurtling straight towards Ann.
Joker’s most powerful technique, “Fatal Mist”.
The essence of Joker, a creature of mist, is condensed in this black sphere – to confuse, bewilder, and obstruct.
Anyone or anything that touches this mist will find their very existence bewildered.
And the result of this is―――
「Damn! Dodge it, Black Ant!」
In a split second, Beldi impales Ann with Gungnir, pulling her out of the trajectory of Joker’s black sphere.
Immediately after, the spot where Ann had been is completely shrouded in black mist.
ZOZOZOZO!!! A dull noise reverberates.
Where Ann stood moments ago, everything is obliterated, as if nothing ever existed there.
To be precise, it was made to seem that way.
This black sphere induces self-destruction in everything it touches.
The ultimate destruction technique. That’s the true nature of Joker’s released sphere.
Beldi understands its power.
Yet, at the same time, a question arises in her mind.
「How can he wield such immense magical power?」
Right now, Beldi’s eyes can visualize anything.
Because of that, she can “see” that there’s hardly any magic power within Joker’s body.
Still, how on earth did he manage to activate such powerful magic?
She looks at the man before her again.
He’s grimacing, clutching his chest.
Not magic, but something “else” is depleting from Joker’s body.
「Could it be… he’s using his very soul as the price to wield his magic!? Insanity! If he does such reckless things———」
To shave off the soul to produce magic.
The idea is simple, but it’s not just about cutting off one’s lifespan.
At its worst, one’s very existence might vanish.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a human or a monster.
Despite the immense pain and exhaustion, Joker still laughs.
「What’s the big deal?」
He speaks as if it’s nothing.
「I’ve been ready to give up my life for a long time. Ever since that day… the day she gave me a name. Everything I am is for her… for Rias! If I can be of use to her, I don’t care if this body or soul is destroyed!」
A black sphere appears again in Joker’s hands, many times larger than before.
The intensity of the magical energy is on a whole different level.
「Now, be gone, you imposters! Our—no, Rias’s wish will not be hindered!」
A look of sheer determination.
He’s betting everything on the next strike.
This time, dodging probably won’t be possible.
So, the only option is to take him down first!
「…Black Ant, can you still move?」
『Who do you think you’re talking to?』
Ann grins defiantly, sword at the ready, her stance itself an answer.
「It irks me to admit it, but there’s no choice. I’ll create a trajectory with my spear. Drive your great sword into it. Think you can?」
『Obviously. But… interesting. It seems you’re in much better spirits than before.』
「Don’t flatter yourself. One day, I’ll kill you. Don’t forget that.」
Beldi readies her spear without another word.
Red, dense magical energy radiates from it.
Echoing the energy, Beldi’s golden left eye shines brightly.
Visible to her is the path her spear will take, the flow of magic it follows.
Ann also readies her Magic Sword Ridill, holding it horizontally.
The blue armor she wears starts peeling off and gathers around the magic sword, Ridill, morphing its shape.
Although a sword, it now resembles a charging lance.
『―――Blue Armor: Assault Mode.』
The mightiest attack Ann is capable of at the moment.
A trump card she learned from Ragin.
This will be the real showdown.
The die is cast.
「Now, this ends!」
From Joker’s hand, a massive orb is released.
「―――Let’s do this!」
Both Ann and Beldi propel off the ground, betting everything on this strike.
But just as their attacks are about to clash―――
―――A bluish-white light appears, perfectly centered between them.
While the other two express their shock, only Ann remains calm, understanding the phenomenon before her.
That’s because she recognizes this light.
This light is―――
『―――A teleportation spell….?』
A hand suddenly emerges from the teleportation gate, effortlessly crushing Joker’s most powerful magic.
Joker can’t help but let out a stunned exclamation.
Even Ann and Beldi are taken aback by what they’re witnessing.
The light from the teleportation gate intensifies.
The figure belonging to the arm reveals itself in full.
Ann’s voice suddenly leaks out.
Beside her, Beldi is left speechless.
There stands a colossal figure, clad entirely in inorganic armor.
The vast magic it emits…
An overwhelming presence that forces all who see it to bow in submission.
It’s the grandiose figure of a dragon.
Slowly, “it” opens its mouth.
『Phew… It seems I’ve managed to safely enter the barrier.』
The figure that appeared looks around, its eyes darting to every corner.
Its gaze meets Ann’s.
Ann is lost for words, her face a mask of disbelief.
Then, its eyes shift to the jester-like man before her.
Joker’s entire body sounds an alarm.
What is that thing?
Dangerous. Very, very dangerous. Incredibly so.
That is bad news.
Fear overtakes him.
『Hmm, I don’t quite get the situation… but it seems like ‘that’ is the ‘enemy’…』
“It” nods slowly, then…
『For now… how about I knock it flying?』
―――The wheels of fate begin to spin out of control.
All because of the appearance of a single monster.
This monster is of the strongest dragon race, the Earth Dragon.
It is descended from the bloodline of the Divine Disaster Dragon King.
This monster’s name is Earth.
The real joker, causing chaos and engulfing everything, finally descends onto the battlefield.
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