A roar reverberated across the Ford Desert.
A massive mushroom cloud formed.
The entirety of the Ford Desert, spanning nearly two thousand square kilometers, was caught up in the blast.
The might of Emperor Beast Agil’s breath was far too overwhelming.
The only saving grace was that this was a desert mostly devoid of life.
If this had been a forest or town full of people, everything living there would have been reduced to ash.
「It’s been a while since I used my breath… As expected, I still can’t control my power well.」
Agil calmly surveyed the results of his handiwork.
Despite being the one who caused this, he had an air as if it were someone else’s doing.
In fact, to him, this was just a casual, experimental blast.
As the smoke cleared, a massive crater had formed.
The sandy earth was deeply gouged out.
Yet one section was unnaturally sheared off.
At the tip of the unnaturally cut-off sand dune was the ragged, blue-armored form of Ann.
『Pant… Pant… !』
She was barely clinging to life, each breath labored.
There was no sign of the other ants.
This last attack had obliterated all the ants above ground.
One of Agil’s seven heads focused on Ann.
「That sword and armor… they belong to the ‘Blue Warrior’, do they not?」
One head cried out.
The Blue Warrior.
That was the epithet of one of his ancient nemeses―――the ally of the Hero Cadias.
The White Saintess Ariel Karla.
The Silver Magician Mirark Endymion.
The Spear Master Neumann Raven.
And the Blue Warrior, Karura Hà Giang.
He vividly remembered them, even five hundred years later.
After all, they were the ones who had driven him into this seal.
「Magic Nullification magic stones built into that specialized armament to nullify magic. To think someone in this day could wield it well. And also…」
Agil gazed at Ann with a touch of sentiment.
「The one using that power is… of all people, you…」
Agil heaved a sigh.
An enormous amount of magical energy and killing intent erupted from Agil.
The dragon’s heads opened their maws.
He was preparing to unleash his breath again, it seemed.
Through her hazy consciousness, Ann watched this.
She wouldn’t be able to defend against it this time. Her body had reached its limit.
Just barely earlier, she had managed to block the attack and teleport some of the next generation queen ants and antlings to safety, but she had been left behind.
Making matters worse, there seemed to be some kind of anomaly in the dungeon system, as the teleport gates wouldn’t open.
Even her thought transmissions to the depths weren’t… getting through.
（How in the world am I supposed… to…）
Covered in injuries. A hopeless situation.
Ann no longer had any moves left.
And once again, an explosion rocked the Ford Desert.
Ann slowly regained consciousness.
Where was this…?
She then realized.
She was in the sky.
Something was carrying her through the air.
『―――You’re awake, Ann.』
A voice spoke from by her feet.
She saw black wings. And sensed a familiar magical power.
『…Don’t tell me, Heleb?』
『Who else would it be?』
Ann was riding on Heleb’s back.
Turning her head, she could see the Ford Desert in the corner of her vision.
A hellish landscape of swirling sand and flame spread out from the intense explosions.
『…Did you come to my rescue?』
『I did not rescue you. I merely made a deal with your master.』
『Yes. That shut-in brat promised our clan a supply of magic stones for the next hundred years. In exchange, he told me to head to the Ford Desert right away. Much as I dislike it, as clan leader I must consider my clan’s well-being. Thus, I need no thanks from you.』
Heleb explained at a rapid clip.
As if saying “Don’t ask anything, don’t wonder anything, don’t question anything.”
His attitude made Ann involuntarily smile wryly. But still, she had been saved.
『I see… thank you.』
『It’s too soon to relax.』
Immediately after, a beam of light shot past Heleb’s side.
It caused a massive explosion in front of Ann and Heleb.
Looking over, one of Agil’s heads was facing their way.
It had an anteater-like head. Beams of light fired continuously from its thin mouth.
『Our opponent is that “Emperor Beast”. Even the likes of me would have trouble simply up and leaving.』
Heleb powerfully flapped his wings to accelerate.
A thunderous boom resounded as they broke the sound barrier.
Barely evading the attacks coming from behind while flying faster than sound, they still weren’t fully avoiding them.
At this rate, his stamina would give out.
『…Tch. At this rate, it’s hopeless… Ann, bear with it a bit longer!』
Without waiting for Ann’s reply, Heleb’s whole body was wrapped in flames.
The final, suicidal technique of the Accurate Crows.
It clad the whole body in flames, dramatically increasing offensive power. And with that, the magical energy covering his whole body also raised his speed.
『I told you to bear with it! Here we go!』
Kiiiin! Heleb accelerated even further.
And finally, they succeeded in shaking off Agil’s pursuit.
「They escaped, huh…」
Agil watched as they fled into the distance.
「When I heard she had defeated Spenta, I thought she would be more impressive… Or perhaps she still hasn’t fully awakened her power yet… Still, that blue armor…」
From the magical signatures, Agil already knew Spenta had been defeated.
And that it was at the hands of that black ant.
He briefly considered giving chase, but soon lost interest.
「Oh well. I’ll save the fun for later. Besides―――」
His gaze focused ahead.
There flew a red dragon clad in enormous magical power.
「I should deal with that one first.」
Now, after five hundred years, the revived Emperor Beast Agil would come face to face with the true Dragon King, Holy Dragon Harsha Lude.
Meanwhile, in Middle Layer Area 8―――
Rasetsu slashed at Yamu.
A strike infused with highly condensed magical power.
Yamu didn’t avoid it.
He simply extended a hand and caught the blade.
「What’s wrong? Was it that unexpected for me to grab your weapon barehanded?」
Then with his other hand, Yamu ruthlessly grabbed Rasetsu’s face and smashed him into the wall.
Pain coursed through his whole body.
But enduring it, he forcibly wrenched the hand off.
He poured mana into his feet for high speed movement.
Adding special footwork, he created multiple afterimages.
「Not bad speed ya got there.」
But Yamu saw through it completely.
Their eyes met amidst the ultra high speed.
Still, Rasetsu swung his sword.
It was grasped again.
No matter how many times he swung his blade, Yamu would grab Rasetsu’s sword and let go repeatedly.
What was the meaning behind these actions?
A chill went down Rasetsu’s spine.
He reflexively took some distance.
「What’s wrong? Not coming? Then I’ll go to you.」
In a single stride, Yamu closed the gap to Rasetsu.
He hadn’t seen him move.
Then at point blank range, Yamu casually swung his hand.
In that instant, glowing claws of light tore into Rasetsu’s body.
But enduring the pain, Rasetsu tried to counterattack.
With a single slash.
His timing was perfect.
His blade was seized again.
And he was blown away, tumbling along the ground.
Enduring the pain, Rasetsu grit his teeth.
Already, from just this brief exchange, he had come to an unpleasant realization.
―――That Yamu’s power far outstripped his own.
The demon king army captain-class enemy he had fought just before.
That guy was supposedly Calamity-class in strength.
According to information, Celestial Dragon Yamu was Evil God-class.
Calamity and Evil God.
In terms of rank, there was only a single level between them.
But that single level felt so vastly distant.
Proof of that was how Yamu didn’t try to avoid Rasetsu’s attacks.
He was determined to seize Rasetsu’s blade each time.
He was demonstrating their absolute difference in ability.
「You’ve got high physical ability. Nothing wrong with your magical powers either. And you even have a soul sublimation inherent skill. Just your fundamentals make you top class, more than qualified. If you grew properly, you could probably break into the upper Evil God-class.」
While it may have sounded backhanded, these were Yamu’s honest thoughts.
For him to openly praise like this, Rasetsu’s ability was extraordinary.
「But — you still sorely lack experience.」
Yamu swung his hand again.
Blades of light manifested.
「You’ve never fought someone way above you before, am I right?」
The blindingly fast light blades approached.
Rasetsu couldn’t fully evade them.
Crack! Fissures appeared in Rasetsu’s armor.
Together with his anger, Rasetsu’s magical power rose.
「Oh, you can still raise your magic huh.」
Rasetsu’s flesh and soul were remade.
Evolution. Rasetsu’s inherent skill.
Evolving into a form suited to defeating the enemy before his eyes.
Suddenly, an intense nausea assailed Rasetsu.
Furthermore, his whole body went limp, shaking with weakness.
What was this…?
「Overuse of power.」
Yamu answered Rasetsu’s unspoken question.
「I know, didn’t you already use that power once before fighting me? Against Almaty. But you see… that “power” of yours takes massive amounts of magic to begin with. There’s no way an inexperienced brat like you could fire it off so easily in succession. It’s because you don’t understand that, that you’re failing now.」
Yamu forcibly flung Rasetsu away with brute strength.
Tossed without bounds for over ten meters, Rasetsu tumbled along the ground.
「Now, what will you do? You understand the difference in our power now, right? Still wanna go?」
Yamu casually approached Rasetsu.
On the way, he lightly waved his arm as if brushing something aside.
Following that, a small explosion occurred several meters in front of him.
「If you’re gonna launch a sneak attack, at least use a slightly better spell.」
In his line of sight were several skeletons.
Judging by the staves they held, they were mage types.
Whether they had come to help out of good will or because they sensed a chance, well, it didn’t really matter.
Yamu lightly flicked his fingers.
With just that, the skeletons crumbled into dust.
「So, what’s your next move?」
Rasetsu didn’t answer.
Had he given up?
As Yamu raised his hand, Rasetsu’s body melted away.
What had been Rasetsu spread like black ink.
It rushed at Yamu.
「Shadow Step huh. An inherent spell to control shadows… in other words—」
Yamu casually swept the shadow aside.
And behind him appeared three monsters.
Rasetsu, Robun, and Othel.
Having hurried over as reinforcements, they immediately erased their presence and waited for a chance to ambush him.
In that case, the skeletons from before must have been decoys putting their lives on the line to draw his attention so Rasetsu could swap places.
「This time for sure!」
The katana, the magma, the blade of shadow assailed Yamu.
Each strike boasted lethal might.
But even so.
「Not bad moves.」
Yamu’s composure didn’t waver in the least.
In an instant, water manifested around him.
The muddy torrent swallowed the three in an instant, smashing them into the wall.
「…So, what’s your next move?」
Facing the three pinned motionless against the wall, he asked again.
No reply came. Had they lost consciousness?
Then that was the end of it.
As that thought crossed his mind and he waved his arm—Bang!!
From right beside him, a tremendous impact struck.
Blown away, he smashed through the floor’s wall and kept going until he collided with the wall of the floor below, finally coming to a stop.
Yamu pulled himself from the rubble.
Unlike before, this was clear, substantial damage.
Just what had that impact been?
He focused his eyes.
From the dust cloud, “it” emerged.
Together with its roar, a raging torrent of magical power.
It was a quadrupedal beast with gigantic horns like a Hercules beetle.
The evolved rhino-type golem homunculus, Gonzo.
Seeing its form, Yamu froze for an instant.
「The… Calamity Behemoth…?」
His voice shook ever so slightly.
As if refusing to believe the existence before his eyes.
「To think something like this was born… The seventh one! Just what’s going on!?」
With a bellow, Gonzo charged at Yamu.
No tricks, just a straightforward rush.
But for Gonzo, that was a lethal blow.
Because its charge was simply – extremely fast, sturdy, and powerful.
After evolving and growing even more massive than before, covered in even greater magical power, there were few who could stop that charge.
「―――But, still too naive!!」
Putting out both hands, Yamu created a barrier of water and ice.
Gonzo collided with Yamu’s barrier.
Their forces were evenly matched.
A dead even bout with neither giving an inch.
And that equilibrium was broken.
「Full of openings, indeed!!」
From the side, Rasetsu’s strike took advantage of Yamu’s distraction by Gonzo to open a gap in his defense.
Rasetsu had been waiting for Yamu’s attention to create an opening.
So he could gather his power for a lethal blow to finish him off.
And Rasetsu wasn’t the only one.
Magma poured in from Robun on the opposite side.
Furthermore, a blade of shadow from Othel behind.
Attacks were unleashed from three directions to surround Yamu.
And in that instant Yamu’s focus was drawn by the ambush, his barrier weakened for just a moment.
In that opening―――Gonzo stomped in with all his might!
The barrier shattered, and the debris scored a direct hit on Yamu.
Then a tremendous roar reverberated through the dungeon.
Crack crack, the walls and floor crumbled, leaving a four floor high gaping hole.
The surface portion was also blasted away, letting light stream into the dungeon.
The attacks had landed perfectly.
「―――Not a bad coordinated attack.」
Yamu was still standing.
Despite taking all those hits, Yamu hadn’t died.
Of course, he wasn’t uninjured.
He had wounds here and there.
But that was it.
It still wasn’t enough to finish him.
He looked around.
Rasetsu was there.
Othel was there.
Robun was there.
Gonzo was there.
Their gazes and killing intent still firmly locked onto Yamu.
Clearly, they still intended to keep fighting.
Even in the face of the Celestial Dragon’s overwhelming might, not one of them had their will broken.
That’s why Yamu laughed derisively.
「You’re all just too good to kill.」
His true thoughts slipped out.
He even found himself wishing he could watch them grow.
But that wasn’t possible.
That’s why Yamu had decided.
「I intended to kill time until the main dish arrived, but I changed my mind.」
Yamu’s magical power swelled.
White wings sprouted from his back as his skin was covered in blue dragon scales.
Furthermore, numerous blades of light now hovered around him.
The same combat form Elja had used, compressing the power of dragons into human shape.
Because Yamu acknowledged them and recognized them as “enemies”, he decided to use this power.
At the same time as entering Draconic Transformation, his wounds also started healing.
Overwhelming pressure pricked Rasetsu and the others’ skin.
「Now, shall we continue? Don’t die too easily now.」
The battle in Area 8 grew even more intense―――
In the depths surveillance room―――
『…Looks like everyone has finished relocating.』
「Yes, they’ve all moved to their new areas. And analysis is complete too. Oh, and a message came in from Heleb that he successfully rescued Ann!」
『I see, that’s good…』
It had been down to the wire.
With the dungeon’s teleportation functions unusable, rescue required going directly there in person.
Without Heleb’s speed, there’s no way she would have made it in time.
But the price paid was steep.
Roughly 100,000 antlings were lost.
A quarter had been vaporized by Agil’s breath.
Plus the Ford Desert dungeon was nearly destroyed.
While Ann had survived, the sacrifice was great.
But because of that, I couldn’t let that sacrifice be in vain.
『Looks like it’s about time I headed out too.』
Since Rasetsu and the others were working hard, I had to get moving as well.
Luckily, repairs on the earth dragon golem had also finished.
「Do you really have to go…?」
Elibel asked anxiously.
『Yeah, I definitely want him left to me. We’ve got stuff to talk about.』
Around the same time as when Yamu appeared in Area 8.
Magical reactions were detected in another area as well.
While he had skillfully hidden his magic and presence, only I could notice his approach.
『The “Thunder Slash” Kirishima Aoba…』
The mysterious man bearing the same face and name as me in my past life.
No matter what, I had to deal with him personally.
Scratching her long silver hair, Elibel looked at me.
「Well, I don’t have the right to stop you after all the stupid things I did… But still, don’t do anything reckless, okay? You’re still our superior, after all.」
「Good. Then—be careful out there, Earth.」
Time to settle this.
With the other reincarnator tied to my past.
Activating the dragon golem, I passed through the teleportation gate.
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