I casted 【Flash】and zipped around as I pleased, but the purple sphere and the blue dragon continued to chase after me.
“Hey, hey. It’s about to catch you♬” he gleefully sneered.
I should hurry up and finish this up. But that didn’t mean I had even the slightest intention of losing.
I deployed【Aegis】and crashed into the purple sphere, but it merely split into more spheres.
My Magic Endurance wasn’t anything special, so I’d die in an instant if I got hit by any of those. But that was only if I got hit.
“Hm. It’s about time.” I thought.
I stopped myself, and the purple spheres quickly surrounded me on all sides. The blue dragon craned its neck and opened wide, and purple spheres began to form in front of its mouth.
“What’s wrong♪ Already tired?” he laughed, certain of his victory.
I currently didn’t have 【Aegis】deployed, and I certainly had nowhere left to run with this many purple spheres surrounding me. That, I’ll admit.
“Yeah, because there’s no meaning to it.”
Yes, I had no need to run anymore.
“So you’ve resigned yourself ♩ Even though you’ve said all that, you couldn’t even become my plaything. I might’ve overestimated you♫”
“Yeah. It seems I’ve misunderstood as well. Sorry. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”
It was true. I didn’t think I’d be pushed this far.
“It’s pathetic to beg for your life this late into the game.”
“I agree. Regardless if it’s pathetic or not, this isn’t a game; you can’t take back moves.”
He narrowed his eyes at my words and stared at me again, asking, “……What are you planning?”
What a trite question.
“Nothing, just the end to that (your sinister designs). Still, you’ve been in checkmate for quite a while.”
With perfect timing, the floating purple spheres vanished in an instant.
“Blue, retreat for now and keep some distance!”
Having lost faith in his absolute superiority, the purple-suited man ordered the blue dragon, but it didn’t budge an inch.
“What’s wrong! Blueeeeee!!?”
He lowered his sights to the dragon at his feet and widened his eyes in astonishment.
A ridiculous number of ice dragons had come up from the ground and stared back as they bit into the blue dragon’s thick legs.
He cursed out loud for the first time as the ice dragons rose up and teared into the beautiful blue dragon like maggots before jumping back.
“Oi, oi. That’s an awful move you know?”
One of the invisible 【Explosive Threads】laid out around the battle field brushed against his arm, setting off a huge explosion.
“You!!!” he screamed.
He gripped his burnt arm and glared at me with absolute abhorrence.
“Now, let’s compare answers, youngster.”
I snapped my fingers and exposed the outline of my plans. There shouldn’t be any problems even if I show him.
He trailed off in a daze.
Of course he did. At the end of his gaze, a giant red web towered over us like a birdcage.
But he was naïve. This was just the beginning.
“Look below,” I said and pointed at ground.
I’ll show you how superior I am.
He slowly lowered his gaze, when—.
An innumerable number of ice dragons that seemed to fill the entire ground peered out from below, and their sharp jaws bit and snapped at him.
—CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK!!
Their clacking echoed to form a surreal chorus.
“Y-you’re insane……” he managed to squeeze out as he manifested countless more purple spheres around him.
“I’ve commanded these little dragons to devour any existences in this birdcage other than myself. Plain and simple, right?”
He signaled to the blue dragon with his jaw. “This madman!”
However, the ice dragons continued to munch on the blue dragon, which had already become unrecognizable.
Even if he were to revive the dragon, I’d just obtain the most superb research subject, but I was fine with just letting it perish. I could just find another undead somewhere else; there weren’t any drawbacks.
“No, no. I’m just being creative here. Isn’t this quite the inspiration?”
While that was true, I had also obtained an essential element in my experiment. And if I’m going to experiment, I might as well go all out.”
“Well, let me give you my thanks. Now I can go to the next stage of my experiment and test the effectiveness of my 【Birdcage】.
You could call this 【Birdcage】a fusion of multiple spells in a sense. I made use of superior-rank spells whose power was in direct proportion to my Magic, my strongest boost-type magic in the super-rank spell, 【Magic Synergy Boost】, and my gift, Analyze Environment.
I grasped my surroundings with Analyze Environment, constructed several programs, and inputted automatic orders with impermeable-type spells and more. There were strict conditions for setting this up in my surroundings, but once set up, it became an invincible region where there was no hope for escape.
Since all the conditions had already been fulfilled, the only thing left was to cast it. The winner had been decided.
“What a repulsive idea, are you even someone from this world—”
“I think it’s about time to end the chatter. As promised, I’ll show you how to fight.”
I let the little ice dragons loose.
An ominous number of small dragons jumped out of the ground like flying fish and rushed at the purple-suited man.
He created more purple spheres, enough to erase all the dragons. The innumerable ice dragons teared into his body and dug in.
“Gooo!!” he yelled, biting back the pain. He fired off the purple spheres in desperation, but they all collided with the ice dragons and dispersed.
“It’s no use,” I said. “I’ve equipped the little dragons with at least a standard amount of automatic defense, you know.”
In reality, I gave the ice dragons several vague orders when I created them. Then, I prioritized the orders with the highest being, “Protect me.” And as I had thought, these kinds of simple orders were much more effective.
“Shiiiiitt!!!” he screamed while being devoured alive by the dragons. He tried to close the gap but was stopped by the invisible threads and abruptly set off the explosions.
“My 【Birdcage】isn’t so weak that you can break through by just recklessly charging.”
After all, I had created this 【Birdcage】to immediately replenish any dragons or explosive threads that had been used up. The longer this went on, the more exhausted the bird in the birdcage would get.
“Dammittttt!!” he roared as hundreds of purple spheres appeared around him.
His veins popped out all over his body and a dense aura rose up like a muddy stream.
“Woah, so you can do it if you try. Then let me see how you’ll struggle.”
One of the purple spheres transformed into a longsword, and another into a pike.
More transformed into a short sword, an axe, a great sword, an iron ball, and other weapons and affixed me as their target.
“Go all out and attack those weapons.” I commanded.
The moment he released the weapons, the ice dragons surged forth and filled the sky, rushing towards the weapons.
The weapons rushed towards me, and a ridiculous number of ice dragons collided with them, coiling around and fissuring the weapons. At the same time, several crimson 【Explosive Threads】dismantled the swords into pieces.
He probably had an ace up his sleeve. He seemed confused, and his face was drained of all blood and he kept trembling all over.
In reality, it was quite powerful. If he had used it before I had finished setting up 【Birdcage】, I don’t know if I could have fully repelled it.
But now, the situation had turned on its head.
Even he, who had the upper hand, had no choice but to submit to my power. The spell had proved to be very useful, and I had obtained plenty of data from this experiment. I didn’t have any interest in continuing to torment him without reason, so it’s probably time to wrap things up.
And so, I gave my final order to 【Birdcage】.
An invisible pole of air struck his sides. I had used all my might to compress the air into a pole.
He yelled in pain as the force bent him over and sent him flying. He crashed into the ground and gouged out a trail. He desperately tried to cover himself with the black membrane he had showed me just before, but—.
“It’s no use.”
My words echoed throughout the battlefield, and he was blanketed in the invisible threads in his path which exploded all at once. The scorching heat engulfed his entirety, black membrane and all.
“You—” he began.
Idiot. If you have the time to open your mouth, then you should be trying to escape from 『Nine Punishments』.
In an instant, another invisible pole of air swept into him from the side.
From the northwest—.
From the southeast—.
From the northeast—.
From the southwest—.
From the center of the birdcage—.
Like a ping pong ball, he bounced about the battlefield, setting off explosion after explosion.
Finally, he was raised into the air, setting off yet another explosion. And then—.
A colossal air pole dozens of meters long crashed into his head from above.
He rapidly descended, piercing into the ground, causing a cave-in. The pitfalls we had dug day in and day out had probably weakened the earth, causing this collapse.
I manipulated the air to fly up and confirm whether he was dead or not.
“Woah, I’m surprised.”
His legs were torn apart at the femur, and his left arm was crushed to bits, but his head and chest were mostly fine. He had judged that the black membrane wouldn’t cover his body in time, so he had protected the more vital parts.
I had predicted I would take his life with that attack. He must have even more battle sense that I had thought to survive that attack while on the brink of death. It’s a good thing he underestimated me. If not for this birdcage, I might have had a lot of trouble.
In any case, he can’t fight in that condition anymore. It’s check. Let’s hurry up and end this.
I raised my right palm in the air and casted【Skaði Palm】, and a whirlwind of black clouds appeared above. Two arms, dozens of meters in length, slowly appeared out of the clouds.
This magic would cleanly erase everything, the birdcage included.
“Are you……part of……The Council?” he asked with a fiery rage in his eyes. I felt a sense of déjà vu at his question.
“The Council? No idea what you mean.”
Although I had said that, his words had stimulated something deep inside me, and I subconsciously scratched at my chest.
I can’t control my own emotions? Me, of all people?
“Haha……I guess I’m……wrong. You seem……to be just like us ♪”
His fiery rage from before disappeared, and he grinned at me in ecstasy.
“The same? What do you mean?”
“Yes……You are……that kind of existence……so……no matter who you are……it……doesn’t matter huh ♫”
“Can you not just reject me and act like you’ve understood everything?”
“Seriously. Stop saying these vague words and acting like you know everything!”
Talking with your enemy in the middle of battle was not only frivolous, but harmful. That’s what I should have believed, but I lashed out in irritation. I can’t keep up with my feelings. It’s like I’m actually 12 years old.
“Dad—” he began, but began coughing up blood as strength drained from his body. He probably lost consciousness.
I had already casted 【Skaði Palm】, and this shitty incident would meet its end once I lowered my arm. And yet—.
“I wonder why?”
Was I hesitating? I couldn’t deny the fact that he, who had been spewing philosophical stuff, had unsettled me. Still, he had hindered my goals, and had turned tens of thousands of humans into undead. This was a war, so I had no intention of bragging about how evil he was. But if I let him live, he would surely become an obstacle in my plans. Yeah, I should just dispose of him here.
I ignored the smoldering alarms that were going off in my head and lowered my arm.
The moment the two arms from【Skaði Palm】converged into a dazzling light, they burned up in black flames and turned into fine charcoal in an instant before falling to the ground. At the same time, the black flames raced out in all directions and burned all the threads to ashes.
Then, I saw a man with black, swept back hair wearing a monocle standing before me with the purple-suited man slung over his shoulder.
He radiated black mana that threatened to shake the ground and an intense pressure that seemed to burn at your skin. I had no doubt he was above me. And though he was just standing with his hands in his pockets, I couldn’t imagine winning.
I had very few memories left of my previous life, but my soul had faintly remembered men like him who had specialized in battle, no, broken men who could only find meaning amidst conflict.
—Conflict over love!
—Conflict over friendship!
—Conflict over lust!
—Conflict over greed!
He would offer not just himself, of course, but everything that was essential as a human to the gods of war to get drunk on the fine wine that was victory. He had no concept of carelessness. I’d have to face his full brunt from the get-go if I wanted to take him down.
These past couple of years, I had been immersed in lukewarm water, and would be at a slight disadvantage to this insane man.
“The fact that that I’m here means our plans have come to naught. These guys won’t come out anymore,” he said.
“That’s good to hear.”
This is bad. It looks like he’s enraged. I might have stepped on a landmine.
“Should I kill him here……yeah, let’s do that. I’ll feel refreshed if I kill him.”
His black eyes dyed red, and the color diffused over his hair and skin. At the same time, his canines lengthened, and the ground beneath him boiled like lava as a faint amount of miasma seeped out of his legs.
“Let’s try this out.”
He was a monster, not in a metaphorical sense, but a true monster. Not only was he not underestimating me as a child, but this was already a disadvantageous fight. However, I still had a chance. I’d fight back with all I had.
The man, who had literally transformed into a monster, silently stepped forward, but something grabbed at his sleeve.
The monsterified man knit his eyebrows and looked down at his shoulders at Nero, the purple-suited man who was supposed to be unconscious.
“I see. This was your game.”
The red-haired monster closed his eyes and looked up at the sky but turned his back to me when he reverted to a human and looked over his shoulder.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Grey Millard. I’ll come kill you when I feel like it.”
The red flames around him quivered as he disappeared in an instant.
I’ve caught the eye of quite the troublesome guy. I really can’t deal with battle-crazed people. Those kinds of people stuck to their word. I had no doubt he would soon appear before me.
There was nothing more annoying, but I probably needed to become at least as strong.
In any case, the mastermind left, and the undead returned to dust. I still didn’t really know what they were aiming for, but the black-haired man had oh so thankfully burned the blue dragon for me.
Now, this farce was finally over. I raised my right hand, and a tsunami of cheers assaulted the once-silent battlefield.
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