『For now… how about I knock it flying?』
I kick off the ground and leap.
The sound of the wind slicing fills the air.
In a split second, I close in on the guy who looks like a clown.
The clown-like man’s expression turns to one of sheer shock.
Couldn’t keep up with your eyes?
I’m in Full Body Armamentization mode right now.
Once, in this state, I even overwhelmed a disaster-class Fáfnir.
Well, only at first… then my body self-destructed.
But now, with “this body,” I have nothing to worry about.
I can utilize the full specs of this armamentization.
Black mist gathers in front of the man.
A shield, huh?
But I don’t give a damn. I extend my claws.
My claws collide with the mist.
…What’s this sensation?
It feels like my strength is being drained right from my hand.
『Lord Earth, that mist absorbs magical power』
Ann’s thought transmission reaches me.
Ah, I see. That’s how it is.
Looking ahead, the guy, drenched in cold sweat, chuckles.
What’s with him?
Is he relieved that he was able to defend himself?
Alright, alright, good for him.
I smirk beneath my armor.
————Then, I’ll just have to put more power into it.
I let my magical power surge throughout my body.
Roar! A massive wave of magical power spills out from me.
The air trembles.
The ground quakes.
The power, it swells.
The man lets out a dumbfounded noise.
In the next moment, my claws easily slash through the man’s mist.
The man before me lets out an incredulous yell.
What’s the matter?
What’s so shocking?
Your mist absorbs magical power, right?
If that’s the case, there should be a “limit” to how much it can absorb.
And this armored body of mine, the more magical power I pour into it, the more exponentially its performance increases.
Right now, I’ve channeled about ten times the magical power into my claws from earlier.
It seems I’ve surpassed this mist’s “absorption limit.”
But seriously, this body really is incredible.
No matter how much magic power I surge into it, it doesn’t scream out in pain.
『HERE IS ANOTHER ONE!!』
With all that momentum, I slam my fist into him.
The clown-like man takes the full brunt of my attack and gets slammed into the ground.
Even as a monster of mist, he bounces around like a ball.
I can hear groans.
Tsk, he’s still alive.
I really gave him all I had.
This won’t be enough to vent all my pent-up frustration.
I land, obeying the force of gravity, and charge straight at the clown.
I throw my whole body into it, tackling him with all my might.
He screams as he’s sent flying again.
And I follow up.
Punch, punch, punch.
Kick, kick, kick.
And then I smack him with my tail.
He’s desperately trying to defend himself with the mist, but it’s a futile struggle.
Oh, if I keep this up, the town might suffer some serious collateral damage.
…Well, who cares.
Honestly, I could care less about the humans right now.
As long as Ann, Una, Dos, and the others aren’t affected, that’s all I’ve calculated for.
As long as my subordinate don’t get hurt, it’s not a problem.
With that in mind, I take another swing at him.
He flies uncontrolled, covering more than fifty meters.
Now, what’s next―――
As I’m contemplating my next move, Ann rushes towards me.
I notice her outfit.
Come to think of it, what’s with that attire?
It looks similar to Ragin’s armor…
『Lord- Lord Earth, why are you here? Or more importantly, what happened to you?』
Ann examines me closely.
Seems like she senses the change in “the current me.”
She’s so observant.
I guess explaining everything would take too long, so I use memory transmission to explain my current state.
Her expression turns to one of sheer surprise.
『Is… Is that really true, Lord Earth?』
『Yeah, so relax. By the way, any intel on that guy?』
Information about the clown man flows into my mind from Ann.
Hmm… I see.
From the rubble, the joker emerges, looking worse for wear.
Demonic mist, divine disaster monster, huh…
Honestly, he doesn’t look like much.
He reminds me more of a junior who gets bossed around in a club.
Just like the usual me, he seems to be a small fry overpowered by his abilities.
Well, it’s not really my problem.
「W-what the hell are you…?」
The Joker questions, his voice quivering.
Why’s he trembling?
He was the one who started this, right?
Then he should have no complaints, no matter how I retaliate.
Magic roils throughout my body again.
Man, this body is amazing.
I feel like I can do anything right now.
I then slowly take a deep breath———
Joker is trembling.
From the depths of his being, he’s terrified.
The magnitude and quality of the magical power he senses from me are on a whole different level.
The sheer force of this overwhelming magic tramples on his resolve and the vows he made to risk his life.
（What… what the hell is this insane amount of magic…? The Celestial Dragon Yamu… no, maybe even comparable to that Divine Catastrophe Dragon King…）
This is an experience like no other.
The magical power that can even make a monster of disaster like myself tremble.
Just who is this dragon?
Covered in rugged, inorganic black armor, the dragon stands.
Judging by its appearance, maybe it’s a Mineral Dragon… No, perhaps an earth dragon fully clad in armor?
But it can’t be Jibru.
She’s outside the barrier.
As he thinks, it suddenly hits him.
―――The legendary Divine Catastrophe Dragon King had a son.
Could this be him?
I’ve never seen him in person, but I have heard of him.
If I’m not mistaken, the name was Earth.
Rumor has it, within a year of his birth, he had a standoff with the “Dragon Slayer” Wald Nored.
Rumor has it, in just a few years, he constructed a massive dungeon spanning the four cardinal directions.
Rumor has it, he made pacts with the Accurate Crow and the White Wyvernn, making his military power one of the most formidable on the continent.
Even if he’s the child of that monstrous dragon, these tales seemed too hard to believe.
But now, seeing this magical might, Joker is convinced.
With such vast power, surely he could accomplish those feats by sheer force.
A chill of dread runs down his spine.
The feeling of impending doom is even more intense now.
Then… there’s a flash of blinding light.
「Damn it! This is bad, really bad!」
―――I’m going to die.
In a split second, Joker activates a spell, using up his remaining magical power and even some of his very soul.
Another bright flash ensues.
A massive explosion and sheer devastation engulf the surroundings.
Meanwhile, deep within Earth’s dungeon, even further inside―――
「It’s so boring doing nothing here….」
Tres and Pururu sit down, looking somewhat bored.
Tres slowly reaches out to touch something beneath her.
「I wish I could have gone with Dad too.」
「What? Guarding Dad’s ‘main body’ here is an important job too? Well, I guess, but it’s still boring.」
While she speaks, Tres leisurely rolls about on “Earth’s” back.
That’s right; she’s currently atop Earth’s back.
「But that golem Dad made was something, huh?」
Pururu nods with a gentle sway.
「I mean, it looked just like Dad.」
Tres recalls the thing that had stood in this room up until a moment ago: a golem in the shape of an Earth Dragon.
Or, to be more precise, a larger version of Earth, her father.
Probably an image of the Earth Dragon in its adult form.
However, due to material constraints, the golem turned out to be only about twice the size of Earth.
It also seemed that the golem was built similarly to a vessel golem, capable of being activated by transferring Earth’s consciousness and magical power to it.
Recalling that moment gives Tres the chills.
「It’s amazing but… it’s kinda scary at the same time.」
Tightly, Tres hugs Pururu, feeling a slight tremble in her body.
「Cause the moment Dad transferred into that golem… he seemed scarier than Jibru.」
There’s no response to her words, as the main body of the dungeon’s master continues to sleep silently.
However, a massive flow of magical energy is constantly being sent to the vessel, showing no signs of depleting.
At the site of Fafnir’s lid―――
Joker is practically in shambles, it’s a wonder he’s still standing.
All around him are mounds of rubble.
But the devastation seems less than he expected.
Probably the breath was adjusted to cause such destruction.
『Oh? Still kicking, I see.』
A voice echoes.
The embodiment of terror emerges from the smog.
「Ah… Ahh… Aaahh…」
Trembling, Joker is filled with a fear that comes from the very core of his being.
『Now, how about you tell me? Why did you invade my dungeon? What were you after? What did you do with the magic power you took? How do I undo this barrier?』
The voice, although calm, resonates with an undeniable force and authority, making Joker’s very soul quiver.
He wishes he could just spill everything, bow down, and submit to this powerful presence.
「So… This is it… Uh…」
Joker stammers, struggling for words.
He yearns for relief.
———I’m counting on you, Joker.
The memory of that smile replays in his mind.
That one person who gave him his name, his cherished lady with that endearing smile.
「…Right. I’m sorry, Rias… that I couldn’t be with you till the end…」
And then, with a deep breath, Joker faces Earth.
Determination fills his features.
———This is my last stand.
「…Sorry, but I’ve got nothing to say.」
He places a hand on his chest, focusing all of his remaining magic power, his very soul, into a single point.
An intense buzzing noise fills the air, and a black mist starts to gather and concentrate.
『———! You, don’t tell me….』
「I won’t let anyone interfere with…. Rias wish!」
Earth must’ve sensed Joker’s resolve.
「Come now, die with me, Earth Dragon!」
Joker’s last resort.
His entire being turns to mist in a suicidal assault technique.
―――”Extreme Fatal Mist”
Using it means erasing even his own life. Joker’s absolute final technique.
Without hesitation, he activates it with a smile.
Ann cries out.
Beldi readies her spear.
But it’s too late.
Centered around the spot where Earth and Joker stand, a thick black mist engulfs everything.
Destruction, intense pain, and death assail Joker.
Yet, his face remains serene.
Death isn’t really that scary.
Even if he were to die, the barrier would hold for about ten minutes.
That’s plenty of time for the return of the Death Dragon.
And he doesn’t feel alone.
He’s never been truly alone.
He’s always walked side by side with Rias.
He cherishes those memories.
And as a memory of hers, he’ll continue to live on in her heart.
―――Goodbye, Rias… I loved you.
He wishes they could’ve stayed together till the very end.
And then, Joker———one of the divine disaster monster—scatters into pieces.
Suddenly, at the black altar, Rias senses the anomaly.
The strength of the barrier encasing the imperial capital increases.
In other words―――
「I see. It appears that… Joker has passed away…」
Rias instantly understands.
He sacrificed himself in a final act of self-destruction.
He even crafted a spell to prolong the barrier after his death.
To the very end, he devoted himself to her, and then he was gone.
With thoughts of his last moments, a faint smile appears on Rias’s face.
「…Truly, a useless boy until the very end…」
Her smile is one of disappointment and despair.
Indeed, the barrier’s strength has intensified, and a vast amount of magic converges upon her.
But there’s now a time limit.
It’s borderline whether it’ll last long enough.
He left her with such an inconvenient handicap.
「After all the time I spent raising him for this very day…」
I had named him, groomed him to be wholly dependent on me for such a long time.
Just when I thought I had a divine disaster monster under my control,
He turned out to be a good-for-nothing in the end.
「Well, it doesn’t really matter.」
In the end, he’s just a disposable tool.
Rias takes a brief moment to think about that deceased “someone”, but she quickly shifts her focus.
There’s a time limit set.
She must concentrate her thoughts, no matter what.
「The ritual is almost complete. The summoning will activate in just a bit. Oh, how I long to see you. I can’t wait to meet you, Ouronus…」
Rias wears a dreamy expression, her thoughts drifting to the dragon that’s about to appear.
By the time the massive magic circle illuminates at her feet, all thoughts of that long-dead “someone” have vanished from her mind.
The mist from Joker clears.
The aftermath reveals devastating scars of destruction.
Not a single living soul remains.
Except for one…
『Tch, he got away with a win…』
Emerging from the lingering smoke, Earth appears.
Of course, he’s not unharmed.
His armored skin is damaged, with cracks all over.
『…To die laughing for someone else’s sake… I just don’t get it.』
That guy had been laughing up until the moment he died, as if deeply contented with serving someone’s purpose.
To Earth, this feeling is repugnant and incomprehensible.
『If you want to laugh with someone, you should be alive to do it, idiot…』
He murmurs those words, almost to himself.
Despite only meeting for a few minutes and considering him an invader of the dungeon, Earth feels an oddly forlorn sentiment towards the enemy.
『Well… that’s in the past now. On to the next———』
There’s still a mountain of tasks left to do.
Immediately, Earth activates his magic sensing ability.
―――There you are.
The magic source is quickly detected.
Without hesitation, Earth springs off the ground, heading in that direction.
The moment Joker scatters, there’s someone else here clicking their tongue in frustration.
「Argh… Of course! That idiot! Why does he choose NOW to show himself outside!」
The flames in her eye sockets flickers as she scratches her head furiously.
It’s not just that fool, Ann too.
Why do they always act against my expectations.
「Miss Elibel, we should…」
「―――tsk. I know.」
Though she’s concerned about Earth and Ann’s movements, there’s something more pressing at hand.
They need to get to Rias fast.
Currently, the two of them are sneaking through the imperial castle’s courtyard.
Around them, knights that appear to belong to the castle lie fallen.
It seems that most of those in the castle have been knocked unconscious, their magic drained by Joker’s mist.
「Haaha! Finally arrived, have you?」
A booming voice echoes.
Emerging from the top of the imperial castle after crossing the courtyard stands a man as massive as a bear.
Wielding a giant axe and shield, he looks down on them.
“Yasha” Lau Lan Fan…
Elibel mentally clicks her tongue.
She’s received information about this guy from Léna-Lloyd.
According to that, he’s someone who has taken down disaster-designated species in the past.
A troublesome opponent, and he looks more than ready to engage.
「Miss Elibel, let me handle this.」
Saying so, Berg steps forward.
With a sinister grin, Lau Lan Fan asks,
「Oh? You’re the one who’s gonna face me?」
Berg takes another step.
「Sorry to impose, Berg. I’m leaving this to you.」
「Leave it to me. Now, to unleash my power―――」
As he says this, Berg’s body begins to bulge and expand.
He grows into a gigantic form, reminiscent of when he once fought Tres and Pururu, easily ten meters tall.
This is Berg’s true combat form, the genuine appearance of Elibel’s head follower, capable of slaughtering even a massive army of dragons.
His glowing red eyes fixate on Lau Lan Fan.
「GAHAHA! Impressive! This is exhilarating! I’ve never faced a monster like this before! I knew joining this side was the right choice!」
The jubilant laughter of Lau Lan Fan echoes in the air.
His laughter is unmistakably that of a battle maniac.
A face of someone who finds pure joy in fighting formidable opponents.
Berg stares at him, visibly annoyed.
「So, that’s why you’ve aligned with Rias?」
「Yeah. Being with Aoba and Rias lets me battle all the tough guys I want. Plus, there’s talk that if the Death Dragon revives, the world will become even crazier than it is now, ain’t it? Why wouldn’t I jump on that opportunity?」
That’s Lau Lan Fan’s reason for fighting.
To pursue the thrill of battle, he’s teamed up with Rias.
Berg finds it utterly foolish.
He remembers from two hundred years ago, during the war between the demon and human races, there were folks like this.
People who don’t judge based on right or wrong.
Beasts only chasing power and the thrill of the fight.
Well, then there’s no need for any restraint.
I’ll eradicate him with all I have.
Their eyes meet, tension palpable between them.
「Come at me!」
「Yeah, bring it on!」
Lau Lan Fan leaps off the rooftop, swinging down his axe with force.
Berg thrusts his fist forward, propelled by a forceful kick to the ground, aiming straight for Lau Lan Fan.
And just as the two are about to collide, in that very moment—
『———Move outta the wayyyyyyy!』
Suddenly, a voice breaks the silence.
Then, an intense shockwave strikes the two of them.
From the side, an unidentified massive form hurtles into them.
Both are sent flying, crashing into a nearby outer wall.
「What the… gaha…」
「Wait… could it be… Earth… cough」
Both fall unconscious.
Especially Berg, who’s caught up completely in the collision.
It’s a rough treatment, to say the least.
That massive form that crashed into them now lands right in front of Elibel.
『―――Phew… I’m glad I flew as fast as I did, but I hadn’t thought about how to stop. Well, all’s well that ends well.』
A voice, all too familiar, rings in Elibel’s ears as a deep sigh is let out.
「…You’re quite early. I was expecting you’d take a bit longer.」
Elibel gazes intently at the newcomer, the flames in her eyes flickering with annoyance.
This enhanced entity, with its augmented speed, has easily caught up to Elibel.
『Yo, it hasn’t been that long, but… I finally found you.』
He looks straight at Elibel.
『Now then, let’s talk, Elibel.』
With a hint of anger, Earth says just that.
A little explanation
About the Earth Dragon Golem:
Made from Earth’s shed skin, scales, and a mix of his blood with a huge number of magic stones.
This high-performance golem was developed to address Earth’s long-standing concern: a weak body in contrast to his vast magical power.
Its abilities are immense. It can effortlessly utilize Full Body Armamentization and fully harness Earth’s excessive magic. It also has a “secret weapon” not originally present in Earth.
Using this vessel requires a shift in consciousness, so when Earth is using it, his real body is left entirely defenseless – basically acting as a battery.
Interestingly, the reason Earth was reluctant to use it was due to his pointless pride thinking, “Wait, if I use this, won’t I be treated as entirely redundant?” For the same reason, he hadn’t made golem homunculus versions of himself.
This is the ultimate tool for a recluse to step outside safely without actually leaving.
Using such a thing doesn’t really seem like something a protagonist should resort to.
By the way, since it’s a vessel, it’s called Earth (temporary).
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