The animals living on the continent were the first to notice the “strange occurrence”.
The birds that noticed it flapped their wings at once and fled, while the animals also escaped together.
Far, far away. They tried to get away from this place as soon as possible.
It was a primal fear engraved in their instincts.
They felt the awakening of “that beast” which would bring “death” and “fear” to them.
The awakening of the “king”.
A roar rises up.
The ground shakes and rumbles.
It was as if the continent itself was trembling in fear of the awakening of “that beast”.
The Eld Mines collapsed, and the surrounding mountains lost their shape and crumbled as well.
The terrain kept changing one after another.
A single beast was unleashed upon the surface.
It was a beast far too massive with seven heads.
Even the mountains at its feet didn’t even reach half the height of the beast.
It was hard to describe what kind of beast it was.
It had a mouth like a lion’s. A body like a leopard’s. Hands like a bear’s. A tail like a snake’s. Wings like a great eagle’s. Scales like a dragon’s. Fins like a fish’s. Eyes like a human’s. Sections like an insect’s.
The beast possessed features of every creature that existed in this world.
Overwhelming size. Overwhelming weight. And overwhelming magical power unleashed.
Every time the beast breathed, clouds were blown away.
Every time the beast moved its body, the earth split apart.
A single beast born on the earth, invited to the Stellar Veins, and became the Demon King.
The beasts respectfully called that monster―
―――”The Emperor Beast”.
The king who once ruled over all beasts on this planet.
Now, it has appeared once again.
Looking down at the Emperor Beast below, Yamu was floating in the air.
Behind him, Aoba was also floating similarly, but his expression was not as calm as Yamu’s. He was literally speechless.
Ignoring him, Yamu spoke to his kin who had regained his original form after a millennium.
「How is it, being back in your original form after so long?」
Then, one of the seven heads turned towards them.
It was a head like an anteater.
「It still feels a little off. After all, this is my first time in this form for a millennium. I think it will take a little more time to get used to it.」
Agil shook his massive body as if to test it out.
Just that shook the ground violently.
「I see. Well hurry up and get used to it. I’m heading to the dungeon as planned.」
Yamu spoke bluntly, making Agil wryly smile.
「Understood. Then I’ll keep going north from here. Almaty should have dived somewhere around here too.」
「Then we’ll dive from here. Come on, human.」
「Ah, yeah… Hey, don’t pull me.」
Although confused, Aoba followed after Yamu.
「Well then, I guess I’ll head for the holy grounds too.」
After Yamu and Aoba’s figures disappeared, Agil slowly moved his massive body and began to move.
Before him spread the Second Middle Layer Area―――the Ford Desert.
Meanwhile, deep in Earth’s dungeon―――
I muttered while looking at the image projected on the monitor.
I’m getting visuals from an bird-type golem outside, and projected on the screen is a massive beast crossing over a mountain.
It feels like I’m watching a kaiju movie.
「An unbelievable size… So this is the ‘Emperor Beast’? It’s quite different from the legends, isn’t it?」
While checking Elja’s condition, Elibel also stared intently at the monitor.
Oh right, there was that stone tablet in Elibel’s ruins…or rather, the three-headed King Ghidorah-like creature depicted on the walls.
「But its magical energy pattern matches the one that appeared in the Holy Cityl before. …What’s going on? I don’t think my research was wrong…」
『It’s not wrong. That was Agil’s form from a millennium ago. What was drawn on Elibel’s mural was his form five hundred years ago when he was the Demon King.』
That form was from a millennium ago―――Agil’s peak.
And what was recorded on Elibel’s mural was his weakened form as the Demon King afterwards.
Somehow, Agil has regained his peak form.
Though I can guess how.
The place he appeared was the Eld Mines.
That was originally where a ‘boil’ oozing the magical energy of Stellar Veins existed.
He must have intervened there to gain massive amounts of magical power.
On top of that, by using a ritual similar to Elibel’s ‘Sanctuary Breach’, it’s possible to regain his original form.
Hearing my explanation, Elibel looks at me with a troubled gaze.
「Hmm… I see. So that’s how it is. Is that ‘knowledge’ from you? Or ‘memories’?」
Elibel has been told everything about my current self.
So that’s why she asks.
I answer honestly.
『Both, I guess.』
Saying that, Elibel shifts her gaze back to the terminal.
It’s an unexpectedly quick acceptance of it.
Well, I’m grateful for that too.
「Anyway, about Elja, for now I’ll put her in a medical capsule. That should slow down the curse’s progression a bit.」
The medical capsule also used for Fáfnir’s life extension huh.
Yeah, that’s the only option for now.
『Got it. Thank you.』
For Elja’s curse, I currently have… no solutions.
Frustratingly, neither my [Gluttony] nor Pururu’s [Absorption] could completely erase that curse.
Probably because our power isn’t enough. To completely devour a calamity-class curse.
Most likely, if I was in my mature form, even that curse could have been completely eaten away by [Gluttony].
But that’s impossible for my current self.
I considered using the earth dragon golem, but that only reproduces the combat power of a mature being. So [Gluttony] is only optimized for combat aspects.
No matter how much magical power or strong abilities you have, it means nothing if you can’t utilize them fully.
This body really is inconvenient…
「But thanks to you and Pururu, we’ve made progress in analyzing the curse. If we take time, we should be able to remove it. No, I’ll definitely do it.」
Very reassuring words.
She’s usually like that, but she really is a wise woman you can rely on.
『Then we gotta do something about Harsha somehow.』
Somehow we have to prevent Harsha from finding out about this.
His idiot parent tendencies are real.
If he knows, there’s a high chance he’ll undo the barrier and rush over here.
If that happens, we’ll lose the number one card for defending the Holy Land and the Stellar Vein Dungeon.
Now that Agil has regained his peak power, that would be very unwise.
Ah, if I knew this would happen, I wouldn’t have sent Elja to the frontlines.
I counted the holy dragons’ reinforcements as extra fighting strength.
But it’s still okay. It’s not worst case yet.
After all, we can extend Elja’s life. The barrier is still maintained.
The dungeon’s defense functions are active too, and there are ways to stall Agil properly.
If we explain it well to Harsha and focus on defense, we should somehow manage until Jibru recovers in around half a year―――
「…Earth, this is bad.」
Elibel’s voice brings me back from my thoughts to reality.
『What’s wrong? Did something―――』
Elibel silently points at the monitor.
I take the bait and look at the monitor.
…My mouth hangs open, unable to close.
What’s going on here?
What are you doing, hey…
「Harsha has… released the ‘Holy Barrier’.」
Projected on the screen was the holy dragon Harsha flying out from the Holy Land.
Neither Elibel nor I could find any words.
There are various questions, but he probably sensed Elja’s abnormality somehow.
But… even so.
I can’t believe he took action so quickly without any contact from here or waiting for our response, deciding this on his own…
My mouth just won’t close. It was too foolish to comprehend.
And then, further despair assails our stunned ears.
Suddenly, Gijie’s announcement echoes in the surveillance room.
『Immensely powerful magical reaction detected! Identifying target from magical reaction. Individual confirmed to be the heavenly dragon Yamu!』
Don’t tell me Yamu has come at this timing too…
Hard to see this as a friendly visit.
「…Where is he?」
With a bitter expression, Elibel operates the terminal.
『Answer. Location is Middle Layer Area Eight. Already engaged in combat.』
Area Eight…where Rasetsu and the skeleton corps are…
『Another magical reaction detected… Accompanied by the individual “Thunder Slash” Aoba.』
Kirishima Aoba… for real? So they did team up huh.
Even just one of them would be troublesome, and they come together? Seriously, give me a break.
Even Rasetsu would be overburdened against these two.
We should send reinforcements from the other areas too.
And for Harsha… no, the Holy Land side, we have to do something too.
Then there’s no choice but to go with the method Elibel considered.
「Yes, I know.」
Realizing my thoughts, Elibel immediately operates the terminal and sends out instructions.
『Oh right. Separate from that, contact Tsumugi, Gonzo, and that guy too. Content is―――』
Nothing to it but to grit our teeth now that it’s come to this.
We moved into action to improve the situation.
Meanwhile, in the forest near Eld Mines―――
「My my, what an unbelievable sight…」
From afar, the Dragon Slayer hero Wald gazed upon the existence that suddenly appeared in the Eld Desert.
Despite being dozens of kilometers away from that mysterious monster, its figure could be seen clearly. It was so enormously huge that he wondered if the scale was distorted.
「Just when the rampaging monsters in my territory suddenly fled, this freak suddenly shows up. Honestly didn’t expect that. I wanna fight it but I’ve got no clue how. Master might know about that monster but he went somewhere a few days ago. What should we do, Beldi?」
No response. She must be too confused to reply.
「Hey, you listening? Beldi?」
Getting no reaction, he looks at her. And notices something is off with Beldi.
She was crouching, clutching her left eye which had an eye patch.
「W-What’s wrong, Beldi!?」
「Huh? What’d you say?」
「It’s calling me over there… I can hear a voice calling me…」
As if in pain, she removes the eye patch.
Her exposed left eye shone brilliantly.
「Who…? Why do you cry so sadly? Why beg me for salvation? …Who are you…?」
Beldi mutters incomprehensible murmurs.
Noticing something is clearly wrong, Wald calls out to her worriedly.
「Beldi? What’s going on? What’s happening…?」
「It’s calling… I have to go there…」
As if responding to Beldi’s voice, Gungnir also shone bright red.
As if having located an archnemesis after many years.
「What in the… Oi, Beldi!?」
Leaving the stunned Wald behind, Beldi broke into a run.
As if drawn by something, she headed towards Agil.
In Middle Layer Area Eight―――
Cracking his neck, Yamu looks at the armored warrior before him.
Holding a greatsword, he vigilantly glares at them.
The moment they set foot in the dungeon, he appeared.
He probably judged that others or traps could not hold him back.
That judgment isn’t wrong. And those with the guts to still challenge him despite knowing of his existence aren’t disliked. Hence, Yamu sneers.
「Nice welcome. And that magical power… As expected, you’re the sixth one. His replacement, huh…」
As if responding to Rasetsu’s overflowing magical power, Yamu also unleashes his power.
「You’re just something to kill time until the main dish arrives. I’ll play with you, newcomer.」
Immediately after, Rasetsu and Yamu collided.
Meanwhile, in the Second Area―――Ford Desert.
Ann stared in disbelief at the sight before her.
What lay before her gaze was a gigantic monster crossing over mountains―――the Emperor Beast Agil.
『What in the world is that…!』
Every step the Emperor Beast took shook the continent, every breath blew clouds away.
She wondered if the sheer size was messing with her eyesight.
Something like that was not an existence that could be dealt with through ‘numbers’.
No matter how many tens of thousands swarmed it, they would be swept away like ants.
『Given the situation I should try to stall it but…how exactly am I supposed to…』
But how was she supposed to stop that thing?
She couldn’t imagine it at all.
And time wouldn’t wait for her.
One of his seven heads.
A head like a dragon’s slowly opened its mouth.
Massive magical power gathered around its jaws.
Ann instantly understood what that meant.
『―No good! All troops, evacuate! RETREAT―!』
Together with Ann’s shout, a gigantic explosion assaulted the Ford Desert.
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