『Jibru…miscarried? What do you mean? After all, Lord Earth is still―――』
I am about to say “alive.”
But no, that would make his age strange.
Mýrus’s story is from at least a thousand years ago.
So does that mean Jibru had children before Earth?
No, somehow that doesn’t seem right. At least from Jibru’s words and actions up until now, I can’t imagine she had children other than Earth. So what’s going on?
Various questions well up inside me, and I try to voice them, but Mýrus speaks over me first.
『Yes, your master Earth is alive. There is no mistake about that.』
『What was stillborn was the ‘original’ soul that became Earth.』
『Yes. Ann, are you familiar with the concept of ‘reincarnation’?』
Tilting her head at the unfamiliar word, Ann frowns.
『It literally means being reborn. A soul that has died receives life once more and is born again into this world. That is reincarnation… Although I should say this applies to all living things.』
As she speaks, Mýrus gazes around at the white space.
『The souls born on this planet all gather here, then begin their new lives again from this place. That is the cycle for souls born on this planet. I too am ‘in this form now,’ but my soul has lived as a plant and as a fish before.
However, you remain unaware of that fact. Since souls lose all their memories when they are reborn, they emerge as a completely blank slate.』
『Isn’t that a contradiction? If you lose your memories when you are reborn, how do you know about that?』
『This place is an exception. Here, all souls and all memories are gathered together. Here, memories are not lost, and you can see how your soul has existed up until now. Since I died as Mýrus, I have remained here.
It’s an in-between state where I’m neither dead nor alive. And that’s why I can know about my past lives and…call you here like this.』
After she says that, Mýrus raises her hand again.
Another large picture frame is pulled in front of her.
『Let’s get back to the story. I will show you what happened to Jibru and us Stellar Vein follower back then―――』
An image flows across the frame once more.
It shows an enormous continent—the prototype of the current world.
『This was the original unified landmass. At that time, all the continents were joined as one.』
There were two forces on that ancient continent:
One was the demon. The other was the human.
Leading the demon was the Emperor Beast Agil, the absolute sovereign beast.
Despite being the weakest and lowest slime species, he acquired the unique skill of “immortality” and after many long years rose to the seat of ultimate power.
At the sight of him, Ann twists her expression in hatred.
He was the one she had been fighting to the death against just moments ago. Her reaction is only natural.
Mýrus gently soothes the agitated Ann.
Next to appear is the human’s king.
The one person who accomplished what no other human at the time could—continental domination.
『To be more precise, he ‘unified the regions inhabited by the human.’ Still, that was no small feat. The larger a ‘swarm’ grows, the harder it becomes to lead. Since he unified the billions of humans living on that continent, there’s no doubt he was an exceptional hero.』
Mýrus spares no praise.
As a fellow queen of a “swarm” like ants, these are especially weighty words.
Ann can fully comprehend that greatness.
And the human king’s might stems from more than just charisma.
He had bathed in the magical energy gushing from the stellar veins, taking in that excessive power without self-destructing and making it his own.
That abnormally mighty human king with his ambitions for conquest continues waging wars and expanding his territories.
『At that time, the greed of the human king made him want to rule over Agil and the other demons too. But Agil and the demons prove unexpectedly stubborn opponents. So the king devises a plan to gain even more power—invading the Stellar Vein itself. He would go to the place where he first gained his power and take even more, or so he plots.』
At that time, the Stellar Vein Dungeon had long been rendered out of reach for humans and demons thanks to the absolute power of Jibru and Ouronus.
However, the human king reached out his hand towards it.
Because he had absolute confidence in his own might.
『But no matter how strong he was, they were still just humans. He shouldn’t have been a match for us Stellar Vein guardians—that’s what all of us dwelling in the Stellar Vein thought…but…』
Mýrus’s faltering words make Ann tilt her head quizzically.
The image switches.
It shows humans pouring into the Stellar Vein “hole.”
Jibru and Ouronus go out to intercept them.
Behind them, the other guardians wait in reserve.
『W-Wait a minute! It looks like Jibru and Ouronus came out right when they entered the dungeon?!』
『Yes, back then it was safer and led to less dungeon damage for them to fight upfront rather than rely on the dungeon’s traps and defenses, even if they were stronger.』
Ann thinks, wouldn’t that make it not much of a dungeon anymore? And don’t you and the other guardian lose your whole reason for existing?
『The truth is Jibru and Ouronus’s power far outstripped the other Stellar Vein guardians. With fewer ‘holes’ and no Jokers born back then, having these two fight on the frontlines was the safest, surest defense for the dungeon.』
Relying entirely on overwhelming might rather than tactics or strategy for their defense—that had in fact been the right approach.
In barely a few seconds, Ouronus and Jibru slaughter most of the invading humans.
Then one human steps forward.
A man carrying a gigantic sword, his whole body covered in tattoos resembling dragon claws.
『This was the human king at that time. He challenged Jibru and Ouronus to battle.』
It was a recklessly foolish provocation.
All the Stellar Vein follower surely thought so.
Even Ann watching the scene thought so.
Yet the outcome differed.
That human king fought evenly against Jibru and Ouronus.
Ann unconsciously murmurs it.
Even in her eyes, the human king back then had been strong.
Strong enough likely even Wald and Beldi at their best couldn’t have withstood.
『I would like to add that, in this battle neither Jibru nor Ouronus used their ‘Awakenings.’ If they had, their tremendous power might have destroyed the Stellar Vein Dungeon itself.』
Even unrestrained, for that human king to stand up against Jibru and Ouronus, he might well be called a monster too.
『And in this fight, Jibru sustains injuries. Those wounds led to her stillbirth.』
Hearing those words, Ann stares in shock.
This human had certainly been strong. But even so, Jibru was injured?
She couldn’t believe it at all.
『Why in the world did that happen?』
『Jibru had been weakened…by her pregnancy.』
Yes, Jibru hadn’t noticed.
She didn’t realize her own abilities had dramatically deteriorated due to the pregnancy.
Why hadn’t she noticed?
The reason was far too simple and foolish.
Jibru had been “too strong.”
Precisely because Jibru’s strength so outstripped others, because every contest was settled in an instant, effortlessly, she had been unable to notice the change.
On top of that, the long era of peace and stability within the Stellar Vein Dungeon had spurred it on.
With few chances to fight or wield her power, she could hardly notice her weakened state.
Neither she nor the other follower noticed anything amiss.
In a sense, you might say that oversight itself had been the greatest “gap” in the Stellar Vein follower’s defense.
『―――Ouronus was the first to perceive Jibru’s change. In the midst of battling the human king, he swiftly noticed her weakened state.』
Ouronus steps forward to shield Jibru.
「Leave this guy to me, big sis should fall back!」he shouts.
To Ouronus, his sister Jibru and the child in her womb are irreplaceable existences. At times like these, as the younger brother he has to work extra hard in her place. That was the thought behind his actions.
But Jibru, unaware that she had been weakened, couldn’t grasp why he said that for a moment.
That instant’s opening created a fatal gap.
Exploiting that brief gap, the human king approached Jibru.
His blade sliced open Jibru’s stomach.
If Jibru had retained her original power, he couldn’t have inflicted a single wound on her.
Even if by some one-in-a-million chance he managed to injure her, it would have healed instantly through her “Gluttony.”
But just for this moment, it was a blow capable of damaging Jibru and the child inside her.
That blade had reached the child in her belly too.
And so―――Jibru was stillborn.
『I’m sorry, big sis… I’m so sorry… If I had been more reliable, this wouldn’t have…』
Ouronus grieved bitterly over his failure to protect Jibru and her child.
That was why Jibru seized Ouronus’ “memories.”
Or rather, devoured them, through “Gluttony.”
She ate up the very recollection that she had been pregnant and stillborn, erasing it as if it never happened.
If she hadn’t, Ouronus surely would have been consumed by guilt and taken his own life.
They couldn’t resuscitate the dead child either.
Not even with Zepar and Holy Dragon Harsha Lude’s powers could they bring the stillborn back to life.
She robbed them of their memories too.
Through her “Gluttony,” Jibru erased from the Stellar Vein the very fact that she had a child.
―――If she hadn’t, she couldn’t have endured losing her child, who meant more to her than anything.
After consuming everyone’s memories, for the first time ever Jibru left the Stellar Vein.
Her reason for going outside was simple:
To exact vengeance.
While she had been slashed and the dungeon thrown into turmoil, that wretched human king slipped right past them.
It could not be forgiven.
What first met her gaze upon emerging from the “hole” was the infinitely sprawling earth and sky.
Ah, what a cruelly beautiful vista.
Somewhere in this scenery was the human who stole her child’s life.
The bastard who took her most precious person.
Just thinking about it makes her guts writhe and boil.
The prey is easily found.
For whatever fool reason, the human king believes it is him who have descended upon them.
She nearly faints from the sheer stupidity of it.
Then, still consumed by rage, Jibru unleashes her power.
Her “Gluttony”—she releases its entirety.
An overwhelming liberation of “power” occurs.
Its aftershock alone kills the human king. It kills the humans clustered around him too.
Yet Jibru’s fury does not abate.
She destroys the country ruled by the human king and in her wrath shatters the continent itself.
Along with the crumbling continent, the Divine Catastrophe Dragon King Jibru descends upon the world.
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