I say to the man in front of me.
How to describe the expression on Aoba’s – no, Cadias’ face at this moment…
If I have to put it into words, perhaps “What are you talking about, you fool?”
His mouth hangs open and he has even lowered his stance.
But soon he comes to his senses and glares at me sharply.
「Me, Hero Cadias? That’s nonsense… He lived five hundred years ago!」
『No, you see, you’re his reincarnation. And I got “caught up” and reincarnated along with you』
I explain, though more precisely it was my other self.
「A transparent lie. Why would I ever believe the words of a monster like you?」
Cadias draws his sword.
『In the research institute, you readily believed the words of Léna-Lloyd. That’s why you wanted to stop her halfway through. You didn’t want to hear any more. But she could have been lying too, right?』
Or maybe she doesn’t know the full truth either.
…That’s more likely. It seems she didn’t know about me as Aoba.
「What are you talking about…!?」
At that point Cadias’ expression changes.
「I see… So you were that lizardman back then…!」
And you’re slow to realize it.
You should be able to tell from my magical energy.
『Yeah, well, that was a golem.』
More precisely, that was my normal self, not me.
And just to be clear, I’m a golem right now too.
『You get it now?』
In the next moment, Cadias’ form vanishes.
More accurately, he moves at an incredible speed.
In an instant he circles around behind me and swings his sword down.
Of course, there is no reason I have to take that blow.
The moment Cadias moves, I also begin “armoring” my legs.
With this body I can complete partial armoring in an instant.
Purple streak races along the spot where I’d just been standing.
Is he channeling electricity through his sword too?
Don’t click your tongue at me.
It’s normal to dodge when someone tries to cut you down, right?
『Hey, we’re not done talking yet, are we?』
If anything, we’ve barely started.
「Silence! I won’t listen to your words! If you really are that lizardman from back then, that’s perfect! I’ll have my revenge on behalf of Suiren and Dia!」
Once again Cadias came slashing down at me.
He got me a little. How fast is this guy?
And with a blade that can cut through my skin, his edge must be pretty sharp.
Anyway, I’m not the one responsible for your companions.
It was Léna-Lloyd and Rugios!
And that tight-lipped sister didn’t die!
『Ah geez! We’re not getting anywhere like this! Fine, I’ll just talk on my own!』
I focus magical energy into my legs and eyes.
This should let me keep up with Cadias’ pace.
『The Demon King and the Brave Hero! And everything else I know about the Stellar Veins that caused this whole incident – I’ll tell you all of it!』
These are my memories.
Things the other me doesn’t know – memories only “I” possess.
As I continue battling Cadias, I start speaking to him and my other self who is still feigning sleep―――
Once there is a dragon called the perfect follower in the Stellar Vein Dungeon.
He always values discipline and pride no matter when or what time it is. He is always thinking of his master and fellow followers. Whenever crisis visits the dungeon, he is the first to stand up against it, protecting and fighting for everyone. And when the battle ends, he heals everyone with his unique spells.
His way of life is vivid and intense.
Everyone looks up to him as a dragon.
A certain mist monster deeply respects his way of living.
A certain celestial dragon acknowledges his way of being, though laughing.
A certain black dragon shows no interest in his way of life, yet relies on him to a degree that he would be troubled without him.
A certain black ant appreciates his way of living, yet worries about the fragility within him.
He who prioritized the mission and protection of the Stellar Veins above all, unchanged more than anyone else, changed five hundred years ago.
It is after the guardian of the eighth layer at the time betrayed the Stellar Veins, and after he himself met a woman called the “White Saintess.”
「Harsha, you wouldn’t know. But I acknowledged you, more than anyone inside the Stellar Veins. But you changed. You changed too much.」
Agil’s voice echoes through the deserted desert.
「You should have maintained the barrier as you were… With the curse too, if it was the sage’s life extension magic, maybe there was still time until Jibru’s recovery.」
If that had happened―――…
No, that’s a meaningless if at this point.
The reality is Harsha made his choice, and perished.
Agil killed him.
「To ‘remain unchanged’ is far more difficult than to change. It was impossible for you, Yamu, and even those Ouronus and Mýrus.」
And for myself as well.
A thousand years was far too long.
The bonds between them that had seemed so strong and absolute faded away.
Like ice fallen to the floor, melting bit by bit until gone.
The only one who didn’t change… No, who hasn’t changed, is just one being.
The one who wounds has yet heal in the Stellar Veins.
One of the heads that just changed earlier.
The snout of the dragon head covered in crimson scales, its green mane fluttering, has a beautiful gem floating before it.
It is the “magic core” of the Holy Dragon Harsha.
Though his flesh was completely annihilated, Agil intentionally left this “magic core.”
「…It’s better you watch what I’m about to do together with Mýrus and Joker.」
Gulp, Agil swallows the magic core.
Thump, Agil’s body pulses.
He has absorbed the holy dragon’s magical power.
Agil dispels the barrier.
Then, light from a teleportation gate appears at his feet.
What appears is a demon with a lion’s head, clad in a tailcoat.
It is Zahak, supreme commander of the Demon King’s army.
「It has been…settled, has it not?」
「Ah, I won.」
Zahak bows his head in silent prayer.
Though an enemy, he was leader of the holy dragons and true dragon king, and his lord’s longtime acquaintance.
He deserves respect.
After a moment, he raises his head and asks his lord:
「What will you do now?」
「Obviously, head to the holy land like this and invade the Stellar Veins. Come with me.」
「And, are the preparations ready?」
「Yes, everything is complete.」
Hearing Zahak’s reply, Agil sways his seven heads in satisfaction.
「I see. Then let’s begin.」
「Will you be alright? Your magical power…」
「It’s fine. The magical power I used to return to this form was about thirty percent of what I stole from the Stellar Veins. There’s still plenty left. Besides…」
Here Agil hesitates for a moment.
「Besides what, my lord?」
「…I want to end this already…」
In an instant, Agil’s body shines brightly.
A roar that shakes the continent resounds.
The sky darkens, and a ring of light appears above Agil.
It spreads in an instant, covering not just the Ford Desert but the entire continent.
Countless magical formations that seem to engulf the dark sky begin to unfold―――.
Seeing that sight, Elibel is struck speechless in the surveillance room.
The scene displayed on the monitors.
That scene is beyond words.
What in the world is this?
Countless magic circles spreading across the sky.
They’re not just huge, it’s as if they form a collective whole.
Like fish gathering in a school to appear gigantic, the magic circles floating in the sky are each independent, yet all combine together in an orderly fashion to depict an even larger magic circle.
Elibel has never seen magic like this before.
Grand sorcery that even she in her prime isn’t sure she could have pulled off.
Just who in the world constructed this absurd magic inscriptions?
But then it hits her.
That’s right. It was recorded in the documents.
The Demon King Agil mastered all four major attributes to the Soul King-class.
And having regained his power as an emperor beast, isn’t it possible for him to wield even greater power?
And Elibel’s instincts tell her.
This is bad.
The magic inscriptions floating in the sky must not be activated under any circumstances.
「Tch, it looks like it’ll be over soon on our end…! That idiot, what’s taking him so long…!」
Glaring at the monitor, Elibel types away at the terminal.
Their strategy can be executed soon.
Their trump card.
If they can activate this, it will change the tide of battle.
（Just a little more…）
Four more stanzas.
That’s all that remains to complete it.
But then, a voice rings in Elibel’s ears.
「…Hoo-Hoo… won’t let you…」
It’s a cracked, grating voice.
Elibel stops typing.
Who is it?
No one else should be here right now.
Reflexively, Elibel turns around.
Someone who shouldn’t be there stands behind her.
It’s a mummy-like man wrapped in robes.
Missing one arm, and gripping a short sword in his other hand. His sunken eyes are abnormally bloodshot.
「Wh-…who are you!?」
The man swings the short sword in his hand down at Elibel.
Meanwhile, the battle in the eighth area was also intensifying.
Robun and Othel were already covered in wounds.
Additionally, Pururu and Ljung who had rushed over as reinforcements were shaking their bodies painfully.
Even Rasetsu and Gonzo were breathing heavily through their shoulders.
Their whole bodies were covered in injuries. There were cracks all over Rasetsu’s armor, and Gonzo was bleeding from various spots.
Despite overwhelmingly outnumbering the enemy, the difference in power was cruelly vast.
「Ha, not giving up yet huh」
Yamu still looked completely at ease.
With his “Draconic Transformationn,” Yamu had powered up even more, easily pushing them around.
「Damn… To think even our trump card had no effect…!」
Robun lamented in frustration.
The moment Ljung had rushed over to assist, they had fired off at Yamu the sure-kill technique they used against the captain-class enemy from earlier.
But even their combined sure-kill – Robun, Ljung, and Othel’s Trinity Arts “Eternal Flame of Darkness, Shadow, and Fusion Metal” – which had taken out that calamity-class monster in one hit, had no effect on Yamu.
「It was a pretty good technique. But it still needs more polish for practical use. If you’d refined it a bit more, it might’ve worked even on me.」
Taking advantage of Yamu talking, Pururu expanded her body and produced countless tentacles.
Tentacles with enough power to swallow and digest Yamu along with the entire third division of the Demon King’s Army.
But Yamu just looked at her with a bored gaze, casually waving a hand.
「―――Heavenly Ice Burial」
The tentacles freeze in an instant.
Then with a snap of Yamu’s fingers they crumble away with crisp cracking noises.
「First time being frozen, huh? That sort of thing works great on slimes. Now to shatter you―――」
To prevent Yamu from swinging his arm down to smash Pururu, Gonzo charges in.
A compressed lump of water fired from Yamu’s hand slightly deflects Gonzo’s charge, slipping right past him.
And unable to stop his momentum, Gonzo crashes violently into the wall.
「No way am I taking that charge head-on. Even I’d rather avoid it.」
Gonzo tries to break free from the wall but can’t get out.
「I’ll deal with the most troublesome one first.」
Seeing Gonzo stuck in the wall, Yamu begins to activate a magic.
Of his current opponents, only Gonzo’s charges can deal proper damage to Yamu.
If he kills him off, the rest will be child’s play.
The countless swords of light floating around him turn to point at Gonzo.
「―――This is bad, indeed!」
Rasetsu, the closest one, tries to move.
But no, he won’t make it in time from this distance!
At this rate Gonzo will die!
Just as Yamu is about to fire his attack, a voice rings out.
「That’s far enough, Yamu!」
It’s a voice that feels completely out of place, pointlessly cheery.
Yamu inadvertently stops his hand and looks in the direction of the voice.
He can’t help but gasp in surprise at what he sees.
There stands the plain looking woman called a witch..
Though that alone wouldn’t have surprised him.
The reason he was shocked is the tearful blonde boy next to her, a blade held to his neck.
The boy sobs.
And the Witch, Léna-Lloyd Reynolds, wears an utterly delighted smile.
「Now now, Yamu! If you want this child unharmed, surrender at once!」
Taking the celestial dragon boy Baal hostage, the Witch Léna-Lloyd Reynolds finally returns to the battlefield.
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