This time as well, I took 15 days to complete the dungeon’s capture. The star fragment was a round, milky-white gem. I didn’t know this kind of gem was called, but it had a strange glow to it; when I held it in my hand, I could still sense its enormous mana.
I hopped on the magic circle which led to the main hall and left the dungeon. It was just before dusk when I left. However, the sky was cloudy and overcast, and it looked like it was going to rain. I took a few steps forward, intending to get back to the inn before it started raining. But then I stopped.
About ten people were standing in front of me. They were all wearing hoods to cover their hair, just like me.
—I see. I guess there is no escaping the will of the world, after all.
“Nice to meet you, Abyss of the Dark,1 Zagan-dono. You have obtained the star fragment once more, haven’t you? As expected of an S-rank adventurer.”
“…Get out of my way. I’m tired. I have no intention to associate with hecklers.”
“Don’t say that. Why don’t you have a little chat with us? What? It won’t be a bad deal for you.”
“I’m not interested at all. You’re wasting your time. Get lost.”
“Well then, how about this?”
The man who seemed to be the leader of the group took off his hood. Then the others took off their hoods one by one. What they bore was the noticeable trait of Dark Attribute users.
The man in front of me had dark purple hair. The man and woman at his sides had the same deep purple hair. That was proof that they had considerable mana, even among those with the dark attribute.
Oh, come to think of it, I had seen them before. They were the three who always appeared in the second half of Lumiere’s main storyline. Of course, they were only an illustration in the game then, but the features were the same. A middle-aged man as the leader, and a surly bespectacled man on his left. As well as a woman who wore a short hooded cape, and extremely revealing clothes.
The others had purple hair too, though their shades varied in intensity.
“If the people coming out of the dungeon were to see you in this situation, they’d think you’re one of us. As an adventurer, wouldn’t that be a problem? You can try to run away if you want, but be warned that we’ll kill every last person in this city if you do.”
“…Alright. But I’m only going to listen to what you have to say.”
When I acquiesced, the middle-aged man smirked and began walking. I had no choice but to follow behind him. But I did so only after slightly emitting an intimidating aura around me. I didn’t want them to think that I could be brought into the fold just because I had the same attribute as them.
I was taken to an abandoned building on the outskirts of the city. It seemed that even in a prosperous metropolis, there were places that people avoided.
Inside the building were nearly a hundred people, all possessing the dark attribute. All of them had hair with a considerably dark shade of purple. I see, so these people here were the sum of the fighting capability that the kingdom would be up against. If you considered those with light purple hair and children as civilians, then there were nearly 4 to 5 times more people than I’d expected in the Dark Organization. …These are all the people they have, huh.
“So what do you want from me?”
“To put it simply, we want you to be one of us. You also have the Dark Attribute, don’t you? Let’s destroy this country and build our own instead.”2
“No thanks. I’m not interested in such things at all. I’ve never harboured any hatred for this kingdom ever in my life.”
The crowd buzzed. Whispers of “You’re lying” and “That’s impossible” echoed throughout the building.
“I’ve always lived alone in the Great Forest. I’ve been able to survive by myself since I was a child. And if I hide my hair, I can walk the streets as normal. You can also do the same.”
“I can’t bear the thought of living in secret, always hiding my presence!”
“That’s right! Why are we the only ones who have to go through this tragic fate? We’re also human!”
“All we want to do is pay them back for what they have done to us. What’s wrong with that?”
I could hear sorrowful cries and protests coming from all around me.
It was easy to understand why people were shouting about how unreasonable it was. I also had the dark attribute. No matter how much Luca invited me, I still had to capture the dungeon alone. I couldn’t accompany him on the way from one city to another, as I would be fighting monsters on the way.
“Hm. It seems that lately, you’ve been getting along quite well with the second prince, Luca Soleil.”
We wouldn’t know when someone would be watching us when we’re together. If a person who possessed the Dark Attribute hung around someone of a different attribute, then it was obvious that people would complain even if this person was a prince. Despite it having nothing to do with them at all.
“Do you have a problem with that? Are you saying that I’m betraying you? We’ve never even been allies to begin with.”
“Wha-!? Don’t we have the same dark attribute!?”
“I just heard you say that we are all humans. Luca and I are also humans as well. We happened to meet in the dungeons, and then we also occasionally met at the adventurer’s guilds. And then we became friends. That’s all there is to it.”
“I see. Then, Zagan-dono, would you like to be our friend as well?”
“No thanks. I’m the type of person who finds communication with others tedious. He’s the only friend I need. Since you’ve finished your business, I’m going to go.”
As I was about to leave, I sensed mana closing in from behind me. I instantly pulled out my dagger and cut off all the tentacles that were reaching for me. Too weak. If you couldn’t condense more mana, you’d never be able to catch me.
But in the meantime, a number of people moved to block my path from the front, cutting off my escape.
“Do you really think you can escape from this many people?”
“You bastards, you plan to drag me along?”
I unleashed a large amount of mana with a roar, intimidating the people around me. That itself forced more than half of the people in that place to its knees. I could hear groans and curses all around me, but I did not pay any attention to them.
“Have you ever thought about it…? Most of the people with the dark attribute are killed right after they are born.
“…I cannot deny that. Either they are killed right away, or they are abused and eventually die. Although some of them are protected by their parents, they are persecuted by the other parents and the people around them. You guys are saving those children as far as you can, right? That’s a wonderful thing.”
“If you know that, then don’t you want to change this country? Don’t you want to make this country a place where we can live happily?”
Of course, if I could change it, I would.
If Dark Attribute users weren’t being persecuted, then I could have had dinner together with my whole family. I could have been there to witness Noel growing up and the two of us, along with our mother, could have taken walks together. I could have even learnt magic from my father. As Luca’s senior, we might have trained together in magic. I was certain Luca and I could have explored many places together in our childhood.
If I hadn’t been persecuted in that way, I could have spent my days with people of other attributes.
That was why I had no desire to oppress anyone else.
“What are you going to do after you have defeated the king and destroyed the royal family? Are you going to persecute and enslave all the other attributes? Are you going to do the same thing those shitty people did, and become shitty yourselves? That’ll just make you a target for their hatred, and you’ll eventually be killed.”
The man simply glared at me and didn’t say anything back. Of course, he couldn’t because I had told him the inevitable truth.
“How many people do you think are in the Kingdom of Soleil anyway? There are said to be over a hundred million people. Even if you could march into the castle and defeat the king, you will be quickly killed by the overwhelming numbers of the other attribute users.”
“…Yeah. This is why I want your strength. With you and the star fragments you have collected, we could easily bring down the royal castle.”
I see. Even if I said this much, it was no use. This man must have witnessed the tragic fate of those with dark attribute too many times; he could only think of destroying the country.
“I’ll say it again, I don’t resent this country. I’m collecting the star fragments in order to purify the Lumiere and protect my country, not to destroy it.”
“It seems that our negotiations have fallen through. …That’s fine. We’ll withdraw quietly this time. At any rate, we have no way of winning against you with our current strength. I never thought you could render so many people immobile with just your bloodlust. Your hair must be darker than mine, after all.”
He didn’t say it was jet black. I didn’t reply, as I had no intention of showing it, and this time I finally turned my back on them and left the ruins.
I headed back to the inn. The sky was overcast and the rain was finally starting to fall. If I didn’t get to the inn soon, I would be soaked. But I couldn’t help but stop in my tracks. My rational mind was telling me that it was not too late, and that I should turn back.
But my emotions didn’t want me to, and I couldn’t turn around. I had to go back, but my feet kept moving forward, albeit slowly.
I had already reached a spot where there were more people around. Those without umbrellas were hurriedly making their way home.
Shaa! The rain was growing heavier. My body was getting soaked. My hands and feet were slowly growing cold, and then my footsteps …stopped.
“What am I doing?”
My self-derision leaked out. At my own stupidity. I was sure it was only for that moment just now. The only time I resisted the will of the world.
That was why I had to kill him. That man. Because if I didn’t, he and the others there would kill the in-game Zagan.
— Because they’re going to kill me in the future.
After I captured the dungeon in Chapter 9, they were going to summon five dark dragons. Only those with the dark attribute could summon monsters by manipulating the miasma. Though it was impossible for one person to do so, if more than a hundred people with the dark attribute worked together to gather the miasma, they could even summon five dragons.
Seeing those people made me think that this was actually possible. Even if the dragons were incredibly strong, it would be relatively easy to summon monsters with the same dark attribute.
Truly, Dark Magic was terrifying. I completely realized then why the horrors of dark magic and the deadliness of its possessors were drummed into me by my father. I was a dark magic user myself, but I had believed that I had understood how dangerous it truly was up until now.
No. Even if I had understood it properly, I couldn’t have killed that man.
If it weren’t for that man, more dark attribute users would have died. Babies would have been killed right after birth. Children would have been abused and died in anguish. Thinking about those children made me sad, and that was why I admired that man who was trying to save them.
But although he saved childen who had the dark attribute, he also killed and robbed those with other attributes nearby. Most of the unsolved murders that appeared in the newspapers were assassinations carried out by the dark organization.
After all, they were a group of murderers. That was why it was easy for them to say they were going to kill the people in the city. Their plan was to break the seal on the evil god.
The reason I couldn’t kill them was because of a more fundamental problem.
…I had never killed anyone in my life.
In my previous life, I was born in a peaceful Japan. I had a job as a systems engineer, and I was not at all concerned with the life and death of people. I had lived a normal life in peace. How could such a person take a life so easily?
Even when I fought a monster for the first time, I was quite hesitant. The reason why I was able to defeat it was because it was a slime, which didn’t have a humanoid or animal appearance. Also, I knew that most of the monster’s body was composed of magical elements, and even if I killed it, all that would remain were magical stones and raw materials.
Even when I was requested to be an escort at the adventurer’s guild or to take on bandits, I never killed anyone. Once I had restrained them with my tentacles and sealed their movements, it was over.
I suddenly remembered what I had said to Noel before. ‘I can easily kill humans, it’s just that I don’t feel the need to.’ It was nothing but a bluff. There was no way I could easily kill anyone.
But the result was this situation. Tens of thousands of people, including me, were going to die because I couldn’t kill a single person. Even if I wanted to resist, I knew from past experience that there was no way to escape the will of the world… the game’s scenario.
— Absolute death was inevitable.
Hasr: After a small scale discord poll, I’ve decided to release full-length chappies July onwards~ P.S. We’re also teaching folks Japanese on our discord, feel free to join!
I reported the outcome of the subjugation to the guild staff who were staying in the nearby village. Since the contract was signed in the big city, I still had to give a proper report there. But for the time being, I let them know that there was no more danger in the area.
Towards the end of that day, we set up our tent once more at a resting place a short distance from the village. We spent a leisurely evening sitting in front of the bonfire. As I looked up at the night sky, I had a conversation with Luca.
“You see, the day after we talked about the moon, I wrote a letter to my brother while everyone was still sleeping and you’d gone ahead. I told him that there was a moon in the night sky, and that there was someone who had gone to another country and confirmed it. From what was written in the picture book, there was probably some event that had occurred a thousand years ago. I also included the picture of the moon that you had given me, and the image from the picture book. I mailed it as soon as I arrived in the Sixth City. So I’m sure my brother will look into it.”
“I see. I hope we get some answers.”
“If he could use his position as the Crown Prince to get his hands on the forbidden books, then maybe. There are a number of books in the Great Library of the Royal Castle. If my brother asks them, my younger brother and sister will help too. Oh, and Cindy’s going to look up books in the libraries wherever she goes as well.”
“It’ll be great to have someone that talented giving us a hand. It’d definitely be impossible for me.”
“Did you try to look it up on your own, by any chance?”
“Yeah. I tried to read a history book, but it just made my eyes tired.”
“Pfft, you did well.”
The next morning, on the 9th, I rode out with Luca on the back of my bike and headed back to the 6th city. We didn’t need to rush as we had on the way to the mountain, so I slowed down to conserve my mana.
Dusk caught up with us as we were travelling. As such, we looked for a resting place where monsters couldn’t get close to us and pitched up our tent. Then I was embraced by Luca again. Since we had done it the day before, it was mostly just kissing and caressing, with plenty of skinship. He was inside me for a long time, but only came inside once. It felt good, and Luca seemed very happy, which made me feel warm and tender too.
Then, before the evening of the 10th, we arrived back in the 6th city. When we reached the guild, I presented the chimera’s magic stone and items, and received a reward for completing the subjugation. Since the request from the adventurer’s guild had been commissioned by the kingdom and was for three S-ranked monsters, I was able to get a substantial amount of money. I only sold the items from one of the beasts and kept all the magic stones. This was because they could be used as components for magic circuits.
Incidentally, when I entered the adventurer’s guild, the guild employees were all relieved to see Luca. The staff member who couldn’t stop Luca was markedly sobbing. Perhaps he was relieved that he wouldn’t incur any punishment. Apparently, he was given a direct order from the king to tackle the dungeons on his own, a task which would’ve certainly led to his death, though once we’d safely returned there was no need to worry about it anymore.
Anyway, that was the end of my four days alone with Luca.
The next day, the sixth dungeon opened. I stashed away my singed armour in my magic bag, put on some spare armour, and dove into the dungeon alone as usual.
Since it was only the sixth dungeon, there weren’t any S-rank monsters until one reached the deepest part. Besides, the bosses along the way were all quite weak; even the sole S-Rank monster that appeared as the boss of the lowest level was rather low-ranked.
Starting from the first dungeon, the enemies would gradually get stronger and stronger. Just like how many game protagonists started at level 1 and the enemies that appeared then were at the weakest level to match them, the protagonist of ‘Lumiere’ became stronger as you captured more dungeons.
But in reality though, Luca already had a certain level of skill from the start when I met him unlike in the game. His skill was initially around the level of a B-Rank Adventurer. Now he was probably already at the level of an A-rank adventurer. If he had used his sword skills instead of magic then, he would have been able to deal more damage to the Minotaur last time.
Collecting the star fragments was for the sake of the kingdom, but it was also training for the youth to grow stronger. As such, the participants for this quest, especially the knights and mages from the royal capital, have all been around the age of Luca and Noel from the beginning. And as more people continued to drop out one by one because of the growing difficulty of the dungeon, the stronger and more experienced people living in the city replaced them and joined in on the dungeon capture.
Among them, the in-game Zagan was an overwhelmingly strong participant. He had gained an insane amount of strength through the process of killing countless people. Therefore, it was Zagan again who had gotten the star fragment in the sixth dungeon, although Luca had beaten him to it in the previous dungeon.
However, as I walked through the dungeon, I couldn’t help but wonder how Zagan got through the traps and puzzles scattered throughout the game. Since there was originally no description of such scenes, it was interesting to imagine how he might have cleared the dungeon. Maybe he had cleared it in a straightforward manner, which would be a surprising twist for a madman like him. Or perhaps, he just demolished the floor into nothingness with his strength.
I liked solving puzzles and disarming traps, so I could move forward without resorting to destroying the floor. I could destroy the floor if I wanted to, but since the dungeon was created with the world’s power, it would consume a significant amount of time and mana. Therefore, if you understood the puzzles, then it was just faster to solve them.
Well, if I really couldn’t solve it, I would destroy the floor though. I couldn’t help destroying it if it was necessary.
Hasr: This part is a slightly short one coz we got some major plot in the next half~
Also I hear you folks shitting on my word choice in the smut T^T, alright I’ll stop with the bussy (Goodbye my Debussy puns)
I know you degenerates are here for the goods, but before you go there PLEASE SOMEBODY FIX THE EROGE VILLAIN COVER ON NU. I only planned to use that as a placeholder on the site, it’s actually the cover for Settling the Affairs of an Atrocious Noble. We now have a real fanart in its place, just switch that please QAQ.
Someone was patting my head lightly and softly. I tried to open my eyes when I felt it, but my eyelids wouldn’t open.
As I dozed off under the gentle caress, lips brushed against my chin. He kissed me lightly on my eyelids, cheeks and lips.
I stirred but I couldn’t make many movements. His chest was right up against mine, and our legs were all entangled. His arms were wrapped around my waist, hugging me tight and I could feel the blanket brush against my skin. It was warm.
Gradually, the sounds of the rain pouring reached my ears. It seemed that the downpour was still going strong. It didn’t seem like we could go anywhere today.
At long last, my eyes opened. At that moment my eyes met with Luca, and he smiled. “Good morning, Zagan. You sure slept well.”
“Mhm… good morning.”
I replied, and he kissed me on the lips again. It was very early in the morning, but since we were in a tent away from prying eyes, I silently accepted it. His kisses were fleeting. He stroked my back and pulled me closer to him, and our crotches touched. And then I suddenly realised.
“…Luca. You didn’t do anything to me last night, did you? Then why are you sleeping naked too?”
“Of course it’s because I want to feel Zagan up close. It would be a shame to wear pajamas when you’re here.”
He nonchalantly patted my butt and squeezed it lightly. He probed a finger between them, aimed for that tight place. He lightly prodded its surface. Since I wasn’t a woman, there was no choice but to use that place that will not get wet.
Ah, yes, I’m not a woman. I had totally forgotten this after subjugating the chimera, but I couldn’t just silently accept it.
“It’s morning now. And we did just the other day, didn’t we? If you’re pent up, get a woman to let it out.”
“…Zagan? Why are you being so mean to me? Do you hate sleeping with me because I’m weak? Or are you just exacting your revenge on me because I made you feel lonely? ”
Luca, who stared at me intently, was extremely cool and handsome. He was also very masculine, with well-developed muscles. For even me to think so, he must be seen as perfect by the women. I hadn’t thought about it before, but I’m sure he’s always been popular. I wonder how many noblewomen had courted him.
“…You must have been constantly surrounded by good women. In that case, normally, shouldn’t you have had your way with some of them? There’s no need to take the trouble to sleep with a man.”
“Huh? What are you saying? But I like you, Zagan? Still, why are you suggesting me girls? And good women, you say… did one of them perhaps catch your fancy? Who? Tell me, who is it?”
“That’s impossible! ” I unknowingly glared and yelled at Luca, who scrunched up his eyebrows in displeasure. Seeing his thoughts take an absurd turn, I slammed my fists into his chest.
“I don’t even know what love feels like…!”
The moment I said that, my chest hurt and I felt like crying. Ahh, right, I don’t know what it is like. Perhaps I had one in my previous life, but I can’t remember that feeling anymore. Because I had always been alone in this world.
“I have always been alone. I was fine being alone. I have lived my life without depending on anyone. Not once have I had someone else in my mind. Yet ever since you…you came, I-”
Yesterday night, all I could think of was going back to your side. And upon seeing the light, seeing you waiting for me, I was strangely relieved. I was happy that you hugged my wet body without hesitation and that you were worried about me. I never knew I could feel like this. …Because I had always lived my life alone.
Before I knew it, Luca had grown to become a significant existence in my heart. He had become important to me. However.
“…I don’t understand. What is love? If I say it’s someone you think of as precious, even my parents and my sister are precious to me. You too, are the same. I think you’re precious to me. But this could also be a deep friendship. What in the world would lead to love? You and I are both men, so which of my feelings towards you would lead to love? I don’t understand.”
A sharp pain stabbed my heart. I felt like tears would fall from my eyes. If only it were the case.
Endure. Endure, and force out a voice.
“That’s why I…… can’t answer your confession.”
No matter how much I think about it, I can’t come up with an answer because I don’t know how I feel. If this went on, he would be waiting forever for an answer. I’d rather have him with a woman who can accept him more easily, rather than having to lead myself and Luca around like this.
If I wait long enough, a day will come when Luca will no longer want to see me.
It’s alright. Right now, the wound is still shallow.
“—Gee, you’re too cute.”
Ha? A strange voice escaped.
Huh…huh? Why did he say such sappy lines at such a time? And why was he looking at me with so much love? I just dumped Luca.
When I looked up at Luca in surprise, he gently stroked my cheek. His palm felt warm.
“Zagan, there’s no need to panic. It’s fine to accept me at your own pace, little by little. It’s natural that it’s difficult for you to suddenly fall in love with someone… when you’ve been alone for so long.” Luca spoke relaxedly. His voice seemed like a gentle embrace.
Perhaps I looked like I needed it. He smiled softly and then kissed me. Just like always, it was fleeting. That was why it pierced my heart. It was as if he were telling me, who said that I couldn’t answer his confession, that he would still kiss me, just like usual.
When our lips parted, he hugged me and rubbed his cheek against my head. It was just the same as always.
“You were troubled by my confession, weren’t you? I’m sorry. But I’m glad you did your best and thought about it carefully. Thank you, Zagan.”
I was trapped in his arms, my cheeks pressed against Luca’s chest. I could hear his steady heartbeat. It was Luca who had taught me that the sound of another person’s heart could be this soothing. It was he who taught me that the touch of bare skin could feel so comfortable.
“You don’t need to hurry. We can still be friends. I’ll also do my best. I’ll take good care of Zagan and tell you that I love you more and more, so that you won’t be taken by someone else. I’ll love you lots… and then slowly teach you to love. It’s alright, I can wait till Zagan grows to love me.”
Ahh, my nose stings. My throat felt constricted. My shoulders were trembling.
With Luca’s help, I was able to reach my destination before nightfall. If it had been just me, it would have taken me at least till noon the next day, as I’d have to balance between dealing with monsters and providing mana for the bike. That was why I felt thankful to him. But I’d never tell him that to his face.
It was a vast mountainous region, with mountains soaring over 3,000 meters high at the lowest point, and over 10,000 meters high at the highest. It was said that there was a village of dragons, or perhaps a city of demons hidden inside the mountains. However, no one went out of their way to verify this in the midst of such a formidable landscape.
At the foot of these mountains was a gentle slope where nearby villagers farmed. It was said that there were some crops that could only be grown in this area.
While the people who lived nearby these fields could escape, the same could not be said for their crops. We didn’t know if the chimera would destroy the fields, but if we didn’t suppress it soon, the people wouldn’t be able to farm and all their crops would be ruined.
I instructed Luca to wait for me at the foot of the mountain and started heading into the foothills alone. It was dangerous to walk around the mountains under the cover of darkness, and with poor footing to boot. Besides, if I lit up my surroundings using magic, the enemies would notice.
It has always been dark within the great forest, so I was used to it. Plus, dark magic was almost indistinguishable in this pitch-black darkness. You couldn’t learn this if your skill wasn’t high enough, but both I and the in-game Zagan could use it. I could blend into the darkness and erase my presence, then sneak up close to my unwitting target and assassinate them. This was one of the reasons why dark magic was considered to be so terrifying.
As I swung from tree to tree using my tentacles, I scrutinized the presences that were near me. S-Rank monsters knew how to erase their presence from the beginning, and their ability to scan for enemies was also high. However, the Chimeras’ attribute was fire-based. Unless I erased the darkness by setting the trees around me on fire and filling the area with a blazing flame, I probably would not be noticed.
There, I found it. As reported, there were three of them, just a bit further up. One was moving around about 1.5km away from me. The other two seemed to be a mated pair, but they didn’t seem to be moving. Perhaps they were asleep. In that case, I should kill those two first.
Wielding my staff and dagger, I blended into the dark and approached my targets. As expected, the two were asleep.
I faced one of their tails, then instantly poured my mana into my dagger and swung it down.
Roaaaaaaaaar!! There was a loud screech. The Chimera spread its flames around in a rage.
The other one woke up too, and growled lowly as it warily started to scan its surroundings. Although flames lit up the area, I used the darkness of the chimeras’ shadows to blend in. Then I circled behind the one that was scanning the area and cut down its tail too with my dagger. Screeeeech!!! It cried as well, and recklessly began spitting flames.
A chimera’s tail spat poison and regenerated very slowly, so it was a textbook move to cut down its tail first. While the chimeras deliriously raged from the pain, all I had to do was release a spell that did as little damage to the surroundings as possible.
I poured my mana into the staff I held in my left hand.
“From the silent abyss, lead us to the end — Death Abyss.”
A black sphere was summoned and it moved and swelled up to swallow the two chimeras. It was a spell that sealed the enemy’s movement and destroyed their body. However, even as they were being swallowed up by the magic, they continued to rampage. The six heads continued to spew flames everywhere. I put up a magic wall to stop the flames. It was so powerful that it could destroy me if I didn’t pay attention, but I held on and poured more mana into my staff again.
Even after the spell ended, the two chimeras were still alive. They were S-rank monsters, after all; they wouldn’t die so easily, even if you cut off their tails and hit them with one big spell. But even so, half of their bodies were gone.
Since I had revealed my existence by unleashing so much magic, they naturally noticed me and started rushing towards me.
“Dark Blast. …—Dark Blast!”
Black spheres struck them one after another in rapid succession, eating into their flesh. The chimera in front was annihilated by them. One down. However, it wasn’t able to destroy the chimera behind in time, and it swung its claws down on me. I instantly blocked it with my dagger.
It was a dagger that I had received from my father. It was an extraordinary dagger that greatly increased my stamina, mana, and critical damage. My father himself had been using it for a long time. It was thanks to the protection given by such a powerful piece of equipment that I was able to grow this strong.
Although the magic wall started to crack from bearing the brunt of the flames, it managed to stay up. And then I hit the chimera’s chest with magic too.
The chimera slowly turned to dust, leaving no traces besides a magic stone and some items.
I defeated them. The moment this thought passed my mind —
A powerful force blew my body away from behind. The intense pain made me lose my consciousness for a moment.
I was slammed into the ground, and the pain radiating through my body brought my consciousness back.
What was it? No, I knew what it was. It was the remaining chimera that had just arrived.
I rolled over and tried to use my tentacles to gain some distance by pulling myself up from the ground and towards the trees. But before I could leap, the flames had engulfed me. I immediately put up a magic wall, but I was a little too late, and the arm I was guarding grew hot.
My armour prevented me from being burned all over, but the pain made my left arm grow weak. It felt like I was about to lose my grip on my staff. If that happened, I wouldn’t have the means to face my enemy. I quickly attached it to my thigh so that I wouldn’t drop it.
I landed on the ground, and the chimera pointed its tail at me. It spit out poison. But the gap of time between its movements was huge. I avoided it by extending my tentacles again and keeping my distance. Since the area around me was engulfed in flames due to the previous two chimeras, I quickly left the place.
As I had escaped without erasing my presence, the chimera naturally started chasing after me. This was fine.
Run, run, run. As it grew dark and the distance between us increased, I let my body fly high into the air.
I poured my mana into the dagger in my right hand. I also let all the mana I had diffuse through my whole body, strengthening it.
I landed on the back of the chimera. Then I plunged my dagger into this beast that was trying to attack me.
The moment I uttered the name of the spell, my body accelerated. I slashed my blade, striking it once, twice. I boosted myself with a large step, then leapt into the air. Soaring above the chimera, I continued to strike the chimera several times in quick succession.
The moment I finally cut down the tail and landed, the chimera let out a loud cry and writhed around in pain. Black liquid started gushing out from its body here and there. What spewed out from the wounded monster was the magical element that formed them.
I pointed my dagger at it to put an end to its misery. I took a step forward and unleashed my spell.
Slice —— … a black line appeared as if cutting through space. Then this line crumbled, grew dim, and disappeared. Taking the chimera along with it.
Magic stones and items dropped down. Seeing that, I breathed a sigh of relief.
It was over. I had successfully defeated them. As I had expected, the fight was down to the wire.
Suddenly, my burned arm and my body, which had been slammed into the ground, started to throb in pain and I broke out in cold sweat. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t stand, and I crouched down with both hands on the ground. It hurt. I was wounded all over. But I was able to defeat them without losing any of my limbs, so that was great.
I took out a high-grade potion from my magic bag and was about to lift it up my torso to drink it. However, I was suddenly assaulted by a sense of light-headedness and drowsiness. I had more or less run out of mana. I had to drink some MP Potions.
After I was able to drink the high-grade potion, the pain in my whole body visibly subsided and the burn on my arm disappeared. However, since the arm portion of my armour was seriously burned, I would have to send it in for repair or get new armour.
I drank the MP Potion and restored my mana. I still felt sleepy; perhaps it was because it was the middle of the night, or perhaps I was just drowsy. Maybe I was awash with a sense of relief after defeating the monsters. It could’ve been a combination of all these three reasons.
As I got up to pick up the large magic stone and the other item drops — plip! Something wet fell on my cheek. Drop by drop, it fell. …It was raining. Come to think of it, it was June, which was the season for rain.
The light shower started to grow stronger. It was quite good timing. If this goes on for some time, the flames of the chimera would be put out.
Before the flames were extinguished, I headed for the place where I had fought the first two chimeras earlier. I picked up the two magic stones I had left behind and collected the items each of them had dropped. With this, I could now report that the subjugation to the Adventurer’s Guild was successful. Well then, let’s get down the mountain.
Just as I did when I climbed up, I used my tentacles to move from tree to tree.
After going downhill for a while, I could gradually see a light appear. It was Luca.
“…Zagan! Zagan! ”
I could hear Luca’s voice through the pouring rain. When he noticed me, he waved his hand. He had found an overhang which could shelter us from the rain and had set up a tent inside of it too. I was tired, so I was grateful.
When there were no more trees around me to grab on to, I ran up to him. The moment I reached him, Luca hugged me tightly.
“Zagan! Thank goodness, you came back. Are you hurt? Ahh, you’re soaked to the bone.”
“…You’ll get soaked too, so quit hugging me.”
“I’m fine with that. Anyhow, let’s go rest. Oh, and take off all your wet clothes.”
At his urging, I took off my wet armour under the overhang. Luca put them on hangers and placed them to dry upon a rack. Both the rack and hanger were taken out of his bag. What he was doing in this situation might seem like something common folk would do, but these items were originally kept within the tent. I felt that he was out of touch with common people as he didn’t even think of simply folding up the clothes and putting them in a corner.
“Now that I’m looking at you, aren’t your clothes in tatters? Your left sleeve is burned to a crisp!”
“That’s to be expected when you’re up against an S-rank opponent. In fact, my injuries this time around are a lot lighter than I thought they’d be, and I was able to finish the subjugation quicker too. The power of my magic was also greater than before, and the time I took to fight was also more efficient.”
“…Do you have any idea how worried I was, waiting for you? Do you know how many times I had to stop myself from running to you when I saw the flames rising?”
“I see. You waited here for a long time too.”
“I don’t want to lose you. I knew that if I went, I’d only be a burden. Sigh, I have to become stronger.”
I stripped down to my underwear and started wiping myself dry with a towel. As I did that, Luca, who had finished hanging my clothes, hugged me from behind and dragged me into the tent like that. He took off my underwear too, and wrapped me in a towel he had prepared instead.
“You’re too careless, Zagan. What if you catch a cold?”
“I’m not that weak.”
“I’m worried about you, so keep warm.”
He took the towel from my hands and carefully started drying my hair. It felt nice to have my head massaged. As I grew drowsier with his ministrations, I closed my eyes without resistance.
We drove for about four hours north towards the mountainous area. After passing several towns, we spotted a large monster walking ahead of us. It was a Minotaur. It had a body three times the size of a human, and a tremendously muscular physique. It was an A-ranked monster. It would be dangerous to leave it as is, so we decided to defeat it.
As I rushed towards the Minotaur, it swung its fist towards me.
The magic arrow that Luca fired hit the Minotaur square on the arm. In response, it bellowed angrily, and recklessly began swinging both of its heavy arms at us. I instantly put up a magic wall to prevent myself from being flung back. The body of my bike began to rise up and wobble, but I stabilized it by using my feet and tentacles to keep us somewhat anchored to the ground.
The bike began to drift. I took advantage of the momentum and made a U-turn. Then, I grabbed the staff attached to my thigh and pointed it at the Minotaur.
“Luca, put up a magic wall just in case. —Dark Blast.”
It was an intermediate level skill of dark magic. Dozens of black orbs floated up around the Minotaur and then began to strike. Bam! Bam! Bam! They exploded in quick succession, shattering the defensive wall that surrounded the Minotaur. Each consecutive strike continued to destroy its body. The orbs didn’t even give it a chance to regenerate.
In no time at all, the Minotaur could no longer maintain its existence. It crumbled like sand and disappeared, leaving behind a magic stone and some items, such as its horns and meat.
“Haah, that was some power. As expected of Zagan.”
“You didn’t get hit, did you? ”
“I’m fine. Thanks for worrying about me.”
I wasn’t particularly worried about you, and there was no reason for you to thank me either. That’s why, you don’t need to kiss me on the cheek!
I stopped my bike next to the dropped loot and picked up the magic stone. As expected, the A-rank monster left behind a large magic stone. The horn could be used as crafting material for a sword and could be sold for a high price. Its meat could become food as well.
“I’m all out of mana. We should eat something soon too, so let’s take a break here.”
“You’re right. Looking at that meat is making me feel hungry. Can I roast it? ”
“We defeated it together, so half of it is yours. Do as you wish. Luca, I’ll be taking the magic stone, so you can keep the horns.”
“I wasn’t much help this time, but I’ll gladly accept. I’ll keep this horn as a memento of our time working together. Fufu, for there to be a day when I can fight by your side like this. It makes me happy.”
Working together. It was a subtle way of putting it, but considering that we were the hero and villain and only ever clashed with each other in the game, I was deeply moved by the fact that we were able to work together to defeat monsters, even if it was only for a short time.
We drank some MP potions to restore our mana, and then prepared a slightly late lunch. After building a fire, we cut up the edible parts of the Minotaur meat we had obtained into bite sized pieces, and then skewered them together. It was a very luxurious item; you could think of it as something similar to the high-quality Wagyu beef from my previous life.
He placed a grill over the open fire and laid out the meat, glazing it with sauce when it was ready. This was all done by Luca. As I looked on from the side, I thought the Prince was surprisingly quite skilled at this.
As I waited while subtly inhaling the delicious aroma, he offered me a meat skewer. I took it and stuffed myself immediately. Hm, delicious. Luca took a bite as well and nodded his head happily in agreement, perhaps due to my praise.
“Adventuring is a good job, isn’t it? It’s great to be able to roast and eat such delicious food by ourselves. Of course, you have to be strong to do it, but it feels so freeing.”
“…Well, it might feel quite freeing from a prince’s perspective. I don’t know if it’s really that hard for you though.”
“There’s nothing that is particularly hard for me because I am Prince. It’s just that I feel a great pressure from everyone to be the strongest. Maybe it’s because I was born as a prince and have the same attribute as the God Soleil.”
“Stronger than everyone, huh? That must be tough.”
“You’re right. I have to be stronger than Zagan, so it’s really tough. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anyone defeat a Minotaur that easily.”
“The first time? I’m sure that there must be quite a few knights and mages who are at my level. I’ve heard that they are even stronger than the adventurers.”
“That only holds true till the A-rank. They could never match the strength of an S-Rank adventurer.”
“…Is there really that much of a gap between the S-Rank and A-Rank? ”
“Zagan, you must know well enough what you need to do to raise your rank, right? ”
I was an adventurer, so of course I knew it. There were some exceptions, like my case when I joined, but basically you had to complete 20 quests of the same rank as your current one, as well as 10 quests that were one rank above. Additionally, you needed to submit 100 magic stones of monsters with the same rank as yours, and 50 magic stones of monsters one rank higher.
“Also, to reach A-rank, you’re still allowed to attempt this with the help of a party. However, to become an S-Rank, the conditions are different. You must do it on a per-person basis. The upper limit of a party is eight, but if an eight-member party wants to become S-ranked, they’ll have to work eight times as hard as before. But wouldn’t it be hard enough to just search for 400 S-Rank monsters? Having said that though, if they reduced the party members, they wouldn’t be able to fight S-ranked monsters.”
“I see. I was solo, so that’s why I got to S-rank so fast.”
“Almost no one can defeat an S-rank monster solo, though? You’re just that strong. Even for knights and mages, it would take at least 10 people, and also they’d have to be from an advanced division to fight an S-rank monster. To fight 3 chimeras, even more people would need to be gathered.”
I didn’t know that. So the request was sent to the adventurer’s guild because of the time it would take.
“That’s why S-rank adventurers are really strong. I’m stronger than I was before, but I’m still not as good as Zagan. I have to work harder. It’d be frustrating to keep losing to you.”
Luca smiled bitterly. Come to think of it, I had provoked him in the past. It was only to raise the heroines’ favourability, but it seemed that he was making an effort to win against me.
Perhaps I should give him some advice.
“Luca, from what I could see of the magic wall you put up, the ratio of physical ability was surprisingly high. Despite the huge amount of mana you possess, you’re not that good at magic, are you?”
Magic walls and body enhancement magic, like life magic, could be used by anyone and did not require spellcasting. This was because, unlike normal magic, it was influenced not only by your mana, but also by the limits of your physical ability. Basically, it was Mana + Physical Ability.
In my case, most of my magic wall was made of mana. It’s not that I didn’t train my body, rather my mana pool was just incredibly high. And Luca has just as much mana as I do.
“That is actually true. I’m better with the sword. That’s why my teacher always scolded me.”
“The basis of magic is the manipulation of mana, but father…uhm, your teacher must not have had the light attribute.”
Fire and wind were elements that released mana. If you released mana from your palms, they would disappear just like that.
Water and earth were elements that created mana. Thus, when you brought them forth from your palms, they would remain.
“Perhaps he thought of light as the releasing kind too. They are certainly similar, but in terms of actual usage, they are different. Light and Darkness are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, you have to condense your mana. Just like with the darkness, you have to try to grasp that which you cannot hold.”
I brought forth black tentacles on my palm. Although they certainly looked like tentacles, they were actually a condensation of my mana that I had simply released.
I brought the mana tentacles to Luca, and after wrapping them around the section from his arm to his wrist, I touched his palm. When I did that, Luca tightly gripped the tip of the tentacles to ascertain its texture. Though faint, I sensed the feeling of touching and being touched through them.
“If you practice, even with your light attribute, you can learn to manipulate your mana into something like tentacles, Luca. And once you’re able to freely manipulate it, the magic you can use will also grow and so, too, will your power.”
“I see. I, too, can use tentacles…”
Luca, who had been squishing my tentacle, suddenly looked up at me and grabbed both my hands as he leaned closer. W-What?
“Zagan. I’ll definitely learn to use tentacles. So wait for me!”
No, what are you going on about? What do I have to wait for here?
I nodded my head unknowingly under the tremendous pressure he was exuding, but for some reason, I couldn’t help but feel that I was in danger.
Hasr: Zagan doesn’t know it, but he just dug a pit for himself lol.