Escape from Puppetry
In front of the meeting room on the fourth floor.
Dozens of masked demons sprung up from somewhere, but I blasted them to pieces with a single attack from Explosive Thread and headed upwards.
Finally, we arrived in front of a large reception hall on the fourth floor. It had a red carpet laid out and giant round table in the center of the room.
A man with heavy cheeks was reclining on one of the seats. He was probably Bull Hound, the commander of Amrzs’ north expeditionary force.
Next to Bull sat a sickly thin man with blue hair. The man had sunken cheeks and dark shadows under his eyes. He gazed at us intently.
“Phew, it’s just a child—”
I flooded the blue-haired man with red threads from all directions and set them all off the moment they collided with him.
Bull growled and got on all fours, trying to intimidate me.
The blue-haired man stood with his hands in his coat pockets next to the round table which was now in pieces. His smile never left.
“He blocked that?” said Theo with a voice full of unease.
Well of course he’d be uninjured. He’s making the hairs on my arms stand up. He’s the kind of trash that I’ll need to go all out on.
There’s something even more important that I need to do right now, however.
I looked over all Bull, who was staring at me with bloodshot eyes.
“Come at me. I’ll send you off.”
Crack! Crack! Crack!
Bull slowly transformed. Fur began to appear over his body, his ears moved above his head, and his canines lengthened.
He let out a thunderous roar and kicked off the ground, jumping onto the ceiling. Then, he shot down straight towards me like a bullet and bit into my neck.
I used Wind Manipulation to gather the atmosphere and bound Bull.
“What I want out of you isn’t that animal form.”
I gathered up the air around Bull, who was floating several centimeters left of my neck, and threw him into the wall.
He flew back as fast as if he had been hit by a dump truck and slammed into the wall. Slowly, he slid down the wall and growled at me on all fours once again.
“What a pitiful puppet. Are you a human or a monster right now?
He’s already been transformed into a monster. There probably wasn’t any use in trying to talk to him. Until I saw Zap’s end, I hadn’t considered any other option besides grinding these demonic puppets to bits and pieces.
But after seeing Zap’s expression, I just can’t believe he had commanded the enemy soldiers. It was like he had turned to dust with a peaceful look on his face, convinced that I would surely free Bull as well.
Really, something was wrong with me. I didn’t want to betray his hopes.
“As the commander of the Radol troops, I devised the plans to kill several thousands of your troops. I even killed your adjutant, Zap-kun. Ete, too, was slaughtered at my hands.”
Like I thought, Bull didn’t react in the slightest.
“How about it? Aren’t you frustrated that your comrades, your rival, and your own men have been killed? Or has that vulgar mummy over there even eaten your resentment?”
Tosh had said General Bull had his cruel moments but was originally an excellent and brave soldier.
He wouldn’t forgive the needless deaths of his fellow soldiers.
His face twitched and he lowered his body down before jumping towards me.
“Still not enough, huh……”
I grabbed his four limbs via Wind Manipulation and threw him into the ceiling.
He spun in the air, his back slamming into the ceiling and causing estate-wide tremors. Lucia let out a small shriek behind me after the estate began to tremble.
Bull fell to the ground and jumped back to gain some distance. He continued growling but blood streamed down his face.
“That dog is already one of my products. No matter what you say or do, you can’t, can’t can’t can’t can’t can’t caan’t save him,” the blue-haired man proudly announced.
I know. That’s what I had thought until I saw Zap’s final moments.
“Think back on everything you’ve done,” I said to Bull. “You disrespect all the citizens living in your occupied territories and sentenced them to starvation. Then, you abduct them and turn them into these disgusting mummies. That alone is enough to say that you’ve committed the greatest taboo a leader can commit. What’s more, you didn’t properly investigate your enemy and created a mountain of your own people’s corpses. You didn’t even try to contact Ete or his forces in Camelot because of the friction between you two. You let your subordinates die dogs’ deaths.”
Bull wailed in anguish and began scratching and his transformed face.
His sharp nails pierced through his skin and his blooded poured out, dyeing the red carpet an even deeper red.
The blue-haired man stared at Bull, his smile no longer there.
“You’re a failure of a commander.”
Tears began to pour out of his eyes. He shrieked and finally staggered onto two legs.
His blood pressure was probably rising. His blood rushed to his face and through his left eye while his right eye was spinning around. I couldn’t believe he was standing in this condition.
And yet Bull took step after step forward.
“That’s impossible……” said the blue-haired man in amazement.
“Take your sword and remember! You are Bull Hound, the general of Amrzs’ north expeditionary force. At least take responsibility with your own hands!”
He produced a noise akin to a broken radio.
Then, he robotically reached for the longsword at his waist, grabbed it, and unsheathed it.
He raised his sword and charged at me. Each progressive step caused blood to rush out of his nose and ears. Cracks formed over his skin and raced over his body. His blood stained the floor, but he never stopped moving.
Finally, he reached me, but his skin had already dissolved.
“I am Bull Hound, the general of Amrzs’ north expeditionary force. Thank you!!”
He flashed me a grin before swinging down with all his remaining might.
I readjusted my grip on my dagger and parried his sword. Then I sliced his head off.
Bull dissolved into sand before my eyes. I looked down at his remains.
Theo and Lucia kept silent but continued to glare at the blue-haired man in abhorrence. They had probably experienced something similar.
“Amaazing!! The little doggie came back to his senses!!”
The blue-haired man spread his arms wide and trembled in ecstasy. I don’t know if it was intentional or just his actual personality, but every single action he took rubbed me in the wrong way.
I set off all the explosive threads.
Dozens of red threads that brought death with them collided with the blue-haired man from all directions and exploded.
“That’s some incredible power. I might have been burned up if we weren’t in this space.”
He squirmed around like a mollusk and took a strange pose.
So that didn’t work. Every time I’ve tried to analyze his stats there’s been some noise mixed in and I can’t get any clear numbers. But he said, ‘I might have been burned up if we weren’t in this space.’ He must have a trick up his sleeve.
That means I have to destroy this space itself.
Although the power of Ice Dragon Cetus, Explosive Thread, and Wind Manipulation were proportional to the amount of magic power inputted, they were merely high-rank spells. Their destructive power was a far-cry from the legend-rank spells.
Basically, my win condition was figuring out how to blast him with a legend-rank spell.
“Who are you with?” I asked. “That monocled guy?”
I didn’t really care but it would serve as a way to kill time.
I built up a wall around us with Wind Manipulation and began to incant a spell after isolating the sound.
“Monocle? Man you really don’t know a thing.”
Seriously, he really gets on my nerves. But he doesn’t seem to be lying. Looks like I really don’t know. For now I can assume it’s not any of my allies.
“Our lord is asking you who the hell you are! Now answer!”
Nice, she followed up on the distraction.
“What a cheerful guinea pig. Well, whatever.”
He collected himself, put his right hand in front and his left hand behind and gave an exaggerated bow.
“I am Blue Beard of the Hero’s Paradise. Nice to meet ya.”
“Why are you doing these awful things!?” Lucia cried out with tears in her eyes.
Blue Beard tilted his head to the side. Looks like he really doesn’t think that.
“You turned them all into monsters!!”
“Ah, you’re talking about the demonification of the natives here.”
After figuring it out, he placed his left fist over his right palm and gave a twisted smile.
“It’s to create the ultimate demon vessel.”
“Ultimate……. demon vessel?”
“Yes ma’am. That’s my greatest wish. And at its very essence is a human’s heart!”
He spread his arms wide and looked towards the ceiling.
“A human’s heart?” asked Theo with a slight tremor in his voice.
“A human’s heart isn’t just a code for something, but the best catalyst for manifesting the soul!” he triumphantly explained.
He then placed his hand over his chin and elatedly bounced up and down.
“The most important factor for creating a tough body fit to become a strong demon vessel is the strength of the human’s mind! And by demonifying these strong-willed people when they have a certain emotion, you obtain a body tough enough to house a strong demon soul!!”
As Blue Beard paced about , drabbling on about his nonsensical delusions, Theo grew more and more enraged. Lucia, too, glared at Blue Beard as tears pooled around her eyes.
He paid them no heed, however, and continued.
“This little doggie had a high-quality soul, despite being a human from this inferior world. Evoking that certain emotion proved very difficult you see.”
I pretty much understand what he did to General Bull. After that unprincipled shitty fiend that undeadified anything and anything, now we have this psycho who goes around demonifying people. These guys are really marring the image of my world.
“What did you do!?” Lucia screamed.
However, Blue Beard twisted his face into a hideous grin and laughed.
“I tried a couple of things, but he finally fell after I waved some tasty, tasty meat in front of him.”
“Meat……you don’t mean—”
They quickly paled, probably because they had figured it out.
“Yes, that’s right. That little doggie cried like a baby you know,” he said with a face full of ecstasy as he embraced himself like a pervert.
Let me say this. He’s a piece of trash that I need to kill right here, right now.
“Don’t you have a heart?” yelled Theo. His voice was ripe with resentment, but Blue Beard replied with a shrill laugh.
“I do, of course. Isn’t that why I crave it?”
“Damn you—” Theo began with even deeper resentment.
At the same time, I finished my incantation.
“—I liberate you from your duty.”
Good work, Theo, Lucia. Thanks to you both, we can end this charade.
Several abnormal 3-dimensional magic circles appeared before me in response to my words.
The runes that formed the magic circle peeled off and rushed at Blue Beard as if symbolizing my will.
For the first time, Blue Beard grew impatient, but it was already too late; he was already covered by the runes.
“Theo, Lucia. We’re withdrawing right now!”
I casted several Aegises and, with Lucia held in my left arm and Theo’s shirt in my right, kicked off the ground and dashed to the first floor.
Right when we arrived at the first floor, the ceiling dyed crimson. The deep red tidal wave of flames that descended from the ceiling threatened to turn even me, the caster, into dust.
A moment later, the world dyed white.
Moonlight poured through the giant hole in the ceiling. Looks like I completely destroyed that stupid world.
Blue Beard, who was floating in the air, glared down at me with bloodshot eyes.
“That took a lot out of you, didn’t it? I don’t sense a lot of strength left in you,” I said.
Blue Beard’s legs and his left arm had already been burnt off, and half his face was scorched. He looked like a zombie. But it wasn’t just his exterior—the oppressive feeling that accompanied him every time he spoke disappeared without a trace.
As I thought, that area fed off his power.
Blue Beard chose not to respond and just hatefully glared down.
“How about it? After you played around, saying this and that with such a disgusting personality, how does it feel to be done in by someone from an inferior world? C’mon, I want to know. Won’t you tell me?”
He got too cocky, so I’d knock him down to hell. How pleasant. This was how it was supposed to be done.
“Lord-dono, you’ve got quite the grin there.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty animated.”
I calmly ignored the white noise coming from behind me and ordered, “Now you should be able to get out of this estate. Take all the prisoners of war and retreat back to Silke for now.”
Then, I turned to the idiot still floating in the air.
“Will you be okay?” asked Lucia.
“Who do you think you’re talking to? You’re in the way. Hurry up and leave.”
She came up in front of me, bent over, and lightly kissed me.
Then, she gave me and Theo, who were standing there in shock, a sidelong glance and said, “You better come back safe and sound, Grey.”
Then, she kicked down the front door and ran outside.
“I pray for your safety, Lord-dono,” said Theo.
He shrugged and bowed before following after Lucia.
“It’s about time to end this now, you dummy.”
I cupped my hand over my ear.
“I’ll grind you up into pieces! I think I’ll feed you that white-haired girl first!!”
Blue Beard looked absolutely comical with his face red with embarrassment and several veins popping on his forehead.
“Ahahaha, try your best.”
I closed one eye and fully activated Analyze Environment, completely focusing on creating a Birdcage.
I still couldn’t properly analyze his stats as there was noise in the background, but he wasn’t almighty anymore after I broke that space.
Besides, the Birdcage this time was special. I should see plenty of results.
As Blue Beard began his final struggle, I aimed to put an end to this charade.
TLN: Recently I’ve begun removing the 【】and 《》and so on. Instead I just have the name capitalized like before. For example, Birdcage and Explosive Thread won’t have the fancy brackets anymore. Sorry for any confusion.