TLN: I missed Borkus’s new Title in the last chapter: ‘Grim Reaper of the Former Scylla Territory.’ My apologies.
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The moment Vandalieu took out his Gyubarzo staff, it wasn’t only Hajime Fitun who sensed danger; Gordon Bobby and the other heroic spirits sensed it as well.
Vandalieu had gone to the effort of wielding a staff, something that he had never done before. Not being cautious was out of the question.
“‘Hollow Bullets,’ ‘Death Bullets,’” Vandalieu murmured, unleashing spells just as Melissa undid the ‘Aegis’ barrier.
The projectiles he fired appeared to be nothing more than ‘Mana Bullets,’ but in reality, they were ‘Hollow Bullets,’ a spell of ‘Hollow King Magic,’ consisting of highly condensed Mana. Gordon Bobby and his allies repelled them with the throwing martial skills, throwing weapons and spells that they had been using previously.
“Don’t let them hit you! Dodge them like your life depends on it!” Hajime Fitun shouted.
Gordon Bobby and the other heroic spirits, who had undergone ‘Heroic Spirit Transformation,’ obeyed that command immediately. Even the Titan shield-bearer threw himself to the side in order to avoid the projectiles.
The heroic spirits leapt towards the forest, destroying all of the black, fist-sized ‘Hollow Bullets’ that were still in the air. At that moment, when their formation was broken, Doug aimed a telekinetic fist at them.
“‘Lightning Beast Assault!’” said Hajime Fitun, summoning a horde of beasts made of lightning.
Doug clicked his tongue. “I won’t let you do that!” he muttered, shifting the aim of his telekinetic fist towards the beasts instead.
He had to be cautious of the ‘Marionette’ ability.
In general, the effects of the reincarnated individuals’ abilities were weaker when used on another reincarnated individual. In addition, Rodcorte had adjusted abilities such as ‘Chronos,’ ‘Mage Masher’ and ‘Venus’ to have no effect at all on other reincarnated individuals other than Vandalieu.
But some abilities would have their effects suppressed only by a little.
And it had been over two years since Hajime was reincarnated in this world. There was no telling how much he had improved himself. Even now, he was casting spells that did not exist in Origin. It was possible that he had some secret trick up his sleeve.
It was unlikely that he would have full control over Doug, but it was possible that Doug’s body and mind would be paralyzed for a while, which would be fatal if it happened in the middle of battle. That was why Doug needed to destroy the beasts with his telekinesis.
“‘Super Rapid Reaction!’ HERE I COOOOOOME!” Hajime Fitun roared, leaping in right behind his lightning beasts, as if he had expected Doug to choose this option.
“W-what?!” Doug uttered in surprise.
“Atlas! Do you still have your habit of turning into a coward at critical moments?!” Hajime Fitun taunted.
Doug’s telekinesis was weakened by Hajime’s presence, and although about half of the beasts still vanished in a flash of sparks, Hajime and the remaining beasts kept charging through.
“You bastard! Don’t you dare call me by that name!” Doug spat, forcibly reminded of the name he had on Earth – Shirai Atorasu.
“Doug, you back up Melissa and Kanako. I’ll be sending them* some presents, so look out above you,” said Vandalieu, dashing past Doug to meet Hajime Fitun in battle.
TLN*: This will be explained a little further down.
Gordon Bobby and the Flame Blades, having returned to their original formation, were now fully directing their bloodthirst towards Kanako and Melissa.
“Alright! Hey, senior! I’ll use you as a shield like you told me before, so don’t go too wild!” shouted Doug.
He didn’t know what Vandalieu meant by ‘presents,’ but things would probably be fine as long as he kept an eye out above himself. Not questioning anything else, he used his telekinesis to grab Isis, whom the enemy had decided to deal with later.
“Oh my, how rough of you,” Isis remarked.
In the next moment, Isis was thrust in front of the enemy.
“Your barrier or my spear! Which will win?!” Gordon Bobby shouted, thrusting his spear that had been strengthened by a martial skill to try and break through Melissa’s barrier.
But as Isis suddenly appeared in front of the tip of his spear, he hastily changed the course of his attack.
Naturally, he had heard of the ‘Counter’ ability of Isis… which extended to all of Legion’s members. A light attack intended to suppress the enemy’s movement would be fine if it were countered, but not a full-blown attack that had been enhanced by a martial skill.
Gordon Bobby narrowly managed to avoid that happening, but he lost his balance and his movement had stopped entirely.
“‘Powerful Acid Bullet!’”
Kanako and Melissa’s offensive spells flooded in – acid projectiles and shockwaves created by warping space.
Gordon Bobby shouted in alarm and fell back.
“You fool! That’s what happens when you charge in without thinking!” one of the Flame Blades said as he and the others leapt in to cover Gordon Bobby.
“‘Colossal Ice Beast Assault!’ Kill that piece of meat that looks like a woman!” said the half-Elf Flame Blade mage, creating an enormous bear made of ice and sending it at Isis.
“I see. That does work,” Isis observed.
Just as she finished her sentence, the enormous bear of ice swept her head off with its front paw. In the next moment, the bear’s own head shattered and crumbled with a ringing noise.
The half-Elf mage had avoided taking damage from Legion’s counter by using the servant he had created with magic to receive the damage instead.
Although a bear made of ice wouldn’t be enough to take down Legion as a whole, he had decided that it would be enough to take down one of their personalities.
He gave a surprised laugh of triumph; he himself hadn’t been sure that it would succeed. “W-what do you think of that! I think it went rather well!” he said in a tone that one might expect from an elderly person; perhaps the heroic spirit controlling his body was quite old.
The heroic spirit controlling the body of the man who had been the Flame Blades’ leader clicked his tongue. “Being so loud after defeating just one part of them,” he muttered. “But still, this makes it six against three. You are at a disadvantage in both numbers and strength; your chances of victory are – huh?”
He stopped mid-sentence as a Mountain Giant came flying down from above.
The monsters turned into Zombies and controlled by Vandalieu were fighting in a forest some distance away, but a Mountain Giant had been thrown from there in this direction.
The Flame Blades immediately fell back to avoid being crushed by the Mountain Giant. They could have destroyed it while it was still in mid-air, but they were wary that Doug and the others might use that as an opportunity to attack.
Meanwhile, Doug was falling back as well, using his telekinesis to carry himself and the other two.
“What is that?! They might land on us, you know?!” shouted Kanako.
“Apparently it’s a present to his girlfriends.* You don’t have any idea who he’s talking about?” asked Doug.
TLN: In Vandalieu’s previous line of “I’ll be sending them some presents,” the ‘them’ in this case is 彼女達/kanojo-tachi, a plural form of 彼女/kanojo, which means ‘her.’ However, depending on context, 彼女/kanojo also means ‘girlfriend.’
“At the very least, it isn’t me and Kanako,” said Melissa. “Still, I’m glad for the backup. These people have suddenly become so strong with that ‘Heroic Spirit Transformation’ or whatever.”
Just then, there was the roar of a Thunder Dragon Zombie and the footsteps of Mountain Giant Zombies.
And Kimberley, who had transformed into black lightning, combined himself with the Thunder Dragon’s breath and charged towards the Flame Blades… It seemed that Vandalieu’s clone was continuously supplying him with Mana.
“Thunder Breath!” he shouted, cackling maniacally.
The Titan shield-bearer immediately stopped Kimberley with his shield. “‘Great Magic Steel Wall’ – !”
Unable to fully deflect the lightning, he screamed as sparks ran across his entire body.
“GAH! You made my body go numb through my ‘Shield Technique’ and ‘Wind-Attribute Resistance?!’ How can a powerful thunder breath like you exist?!” he shouted.
“I probably just look like the breath of a mutant Dragon!” Kimberley said, still cackling. “Here comes another one!”
With that, he returned to the Thunder Dragon Zombie’s mouth, turned to black lightning again and charged at the Flame Blades once more.
“I guess he does. Now then, shall we transform and use Demonfall while he buys us time?” said a rather strangely cheerful Kanako.
“I didn’t want to show that to people who are from the same city as us. It’s especially depressing considering that Murakami and the others are probably watching from somewhere. We… can’t get away with using only Demonfall, can we?” Melissa sighed, taking her transformation staff out with a glum expression.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Doug. “I’m sure there are a ton of people elsewhere who have transformed. And at this distance we’re pretty much impossible to see from the city.”
“Transform,” Melissa muttered, telling herself that this wasn’t as bad as performing live on stage.
Meanwhile, Vandalieu was a little surprised by Hajime, who had charged in towards him and his allies.
Vandalieu didn’t have much of a sense that he and Hajime Inui had been students in the same year; he had almost no memories of him at all. But based on what he knew of Hajime’s personality and abilities that he had learned from Legion, Kanako and the others, he had expected that he would maintain his distance to take the battle from medium range.
But Vandalieu was not so astounded that it affected his movements.
“‘Death Bullets,’” he murmured, intercepting Hajime with a death-attribute magic spell, firing black, walnut-sized projectiles that sapped the life from anyone they touched.
But Hajime Fitun laughed as he dodged them without stopping his forward momentum. “Is that supposed to be a greeting? Then take this in return!”
Rather than creating more beasts made of lightning, he unsheathed a knife enchanted with lightning and threw it. If Vandalieu was wary of the threat of ‘Marionette,’ he would need to block it with a barrier or avoid it.
“What a poor greeting,” Vandalieu said, deflecting the lightning-covered knife with his extended claws.
He felt nothing that would suggest that ‘Marionette’ had taken effect.
“Sorry about that. I wanted to check that my ‘Marionette’ wouldn’t work on you!” said Hajime Fitun.
Vandalieu was a Dhampir born to a Dark Elf mother. He had possessed the ‘Magic Resistance’ and ‘Status Effect Resistance’ Skills almost from birth.
Even Hajime Fitun hadn’t expected that Vandalieu could be affected by the status effect of having his body being controlled by the special ability of someone else.
“But I’ll show you… ‘Marionette’ isn’t just a boring ability that manipulates others!” said Hajime Fitun.
In the next moment, Hajime was right in front of Vandalieu, as if he had teleported there.
“‘Super Rapid Response,’” said Vandalieu, calmly activating his ‘Armor Technique’ martial skill despite his enemy having entered close range in an instant.
He swung his Gyubarzo staff in a downwards arc. This attack was powerful enough to pulverize a C-class adventurer in a single blow, but Hajime Fitun avoided it.
However, this was all according to plan. Vandalieu didn’t expect this brute-strength attack with no technique to it to actually land on his foe. Even as Hajime dodged, Vandalieu continued his attack.
“‘Spear Kick,’” he murmured, sending out a sharp kick like the thrust of a spear.
At the same time, he threw a kunai hidden up his sleeve with the hand not holding his staff and spat a powerful, corrosive, venomous saliva from his mouth.
An ordinary opponent would be distracted by the martial skill whose name Vandalieu had spoken out loud, and get hit by either the kunai or the saliva.
But Hajime dodged not only the kick, but the kunai and saliva as well… by throwing himself onto the ground. “I admire the audacity you have to do something so dirty in front of people! But at this distance, you can’t run from these!”
The remaining lightning beasts leapt over Hajime Fitun’s back and charged at Vandalieu, who reflexively put up his ‘Magic Absorption Barrier.’
The lightning beasts disappeared helplessly as they were swallowed by the barrier. But Hajime Fitun wasn’t shaken; he extended his bent knees to leap forward off the ground and drew the two curved blades in the sheaths on his back.
“‘Twin Fang!’ ‘Million Slash!’” he shouted.
“‘Claw Wall,’ ‘Thousand Beast Claws,’” Vandalieu murmured in response.
The dual-wielded curved blades… Hajime Fitun’s scimitars, pierced through the barrier. Vandalieu stopped them with the staff in his left hand and the claws of his right. Hajime Fitun went on to deliver a series of countless follow-up attacks, which Vandalieu dealt with using a countless number of his own claw attacks.
The black barrier was shredded to pieces, and as Vandalieu’s staff and claws collided with the scimitars, blood sprayed into the air.
Having wounded Vandalieu’s fingers and hands, the corner of Hajime’s mouth rose in a smile. “You’re using only your anti-magic barrier and not your anti-physical-attack barrier?! I intended to cut you to pieces when you stopped moving, but I see that I’ve only managed to cut your hands!”
“Since your intent is to kill me, I expected that you would at least come equipped with Orichalcum weapons or weapons made of the Demon King’s fragments, after all,” said Vandalieu.
His shallow wounds healed within seconds due to the ‘Rapid Regeneration’ Skill. He had turned the blood that had sprayed into the air into venom, but there was no sign that Hajime Fitun had been affected by it.
“So, you’ve seen through me. I created an illusion to make my weapons look as if they were made of iron, but it seems that it was pointless,” said Hajime Fitun.
The two scimitars he was wielding were made of Orichalcum. His plan had been to fool Vandalieu into thinking they were made of iron and deal a fatal blow while Vandalieu stood still to use his ‘Impact-Negating Barrier.’
Illusions that refracted light like a mirage might have worked on Vandalieu, but illusions that affected their targets’ minds to make them see things that weren’t there wouldn’t work due to the effects of ‘Deformed Soul.’
However, Vandalieu had expected that Hajime Fitun would make at least the minimal preparations to kill him, considering that he wielded the fragments of the Demon King.
“So… What are you? You’re not the ‘Marionette,’ are you?” Vandalieu asked with a feeling of certainty, as he and Hajime Fitun continued to exchange blows with their claws and scimitars.
“Hey, that’s cold. You don’t remember your own classmate? Wait, were you my classmate or not?” said Hajime Fitun, trying to play it off.
“There weren’t any gods among my classmates,” said Vandalieu.
“You just said ‘god,’ didn’t you,” Hajime Fitun said, his expression suddenly turning completely serious. “The subordinates I brought with me are gods, rather than heroic spirits. When did you notice?”
Vandalieu fell silent.
His familiars and Demon King Familiars were stationed all around the city of Morksi and inside the Dungeon that he had created to look like Morksi.
Thus, he had witnessed Hajime Fitun’s subordinates undergo ‘Heroic Spirit Transformation’ and speak their own names. And Kanako’s mentioning of the strange feeling she had when using ‘Venus’ on the Titan shield-bearer had given him a clue about Hajime and his subordinates’ true identities as well.
And most importantly –
“I can smell two souls inside you. One of them smells… delicious, like Hihiryushukaka’s,” said Vandalieu.
It was as if there was a delicious dish and one that wasn’t so delicious, served on the same plate.
There was no way that an ordinary human’s soul would smell delicious to Vandalieu, and yet, he felt a desire to consume every time he directed his anger and bloodthirst towards Hajime Fitun. That made him absolutely certain.
A shiver ran up Hajime Fitun’s spine as he saw a glimpse of the primitive hunger lurking deep within Vandalieu’s clouded eyes.
Fitun, the god of thunderclouds, felt a thrill at this sensation, something that he hadn’t felt in tens of thousands of years.
“Good, that’s good! That’s what I’m talking about! This is exactly how a battle to the death should be – right?!” he shouted.
He had narrowed his lips, and as he shouted the word ‘right,’ he spat out small needles that he had concealed inside his mouth, which entered Vandalieu’s eyes.
“Foam at the mouth and die! ‘Dark Night Blade Wind!’”
With a hidden weapon often employed by assassins rather than mercenaries, Hajime Fitun robbed Vandalieu of his vision and activated an ‘Assassin Fighting Technique’ martial skill. He then rushed forward with a fast attack that Vandalieu’s eyes were no longer able to see – as if ambushing Vandalieu on a moonless night.
“If you insist, I could give you something from my mouth,” said Vandalieu.
He activated the Demon King’s eyeball, creating a third eye on his forehead, and stopped Hajime Fitun’s scimitar with his claws.
And this time, it was Vandalieu’s turn to spit something at Hajime Fitun. Deciding that it was likely venom, Hajime Fitun decided to continue attacking, relying on his ‘Status Effect Resistance’ Skill and the effects of his Magic Items.
But his face stiffened as he saw that it was a slimy liquid and realized that he had made a mistake.
“‘Flame Prison Death,’” said Vandalieu, casting a ‘Dark King Magic’ spell that recreated the combustion ability of Baba Yaga, one of Legion’s personalities.
With the Demon King’s fat that Vandalieu had spat from his mouth as their fuel, flames enveloped Hajime Fitun.
Hajime Fitun screamed as he quickly became a mass of flames, and Vandalieu was slightly burned from being too close to him.
But Vandalieu quickly extinguished the flames on his own body with ‘Demon Fire,’ a spell that conjured a mass of blue-white flames that absorbed heat energy.
“I can’t make foam from my mouth, so you’ll have to make do with this fat,” Vandalieu said to Hajime Fitun as he extended his tongue into his eyes to remove and throw away the needles.
“Everything is wrong with this damned Demon King!” Hajime Fitun screamed in anger as he extinguished the flames.
It seemed that he had forcibly extinguished them by using a wind-attribute spell that removed all of the oxygen from the air around him.
“This serves as proof that the oxygen in the air is necessary for things to burn, even in this world,” Vandalieu observed, having figured out what Hajime Fitun had done based on the movement of his Mana.
“Why are you saying something so stupid? Are you trying to provoke me?” Hajime Fitun said, sounding relatively calm for someone who had just been turned into a human torch.
He was almost completely unharmed.
He had received the ‘Death Attribute Resistance’ Skill from Rodcorte, and before facing Vandalieu, he had taken the time to acquire various resistance Skills and gather Magic Items in preparation for this day. He wouldn’t receive fatal damage from the likes of shallow magical attacks… though of course, the reason why he had managed to get away from Vandalieu’s ‘Flame Prison Death’ with only minor burns was because Vandalieu had only cast it at a shallow level.
Vandalieu had held back, as the flames would have engulfed far too large an area if he had cast it at full strength.
“Are you trying to buy time by angering me? If you’ve noticed that we’ve undergone ‘Heroic Spirit Transformation,’ you’ll also have realized that we have a time limit imposed on us. Once that limit is reached, not only my subordinates but I myself will also lose our power and become helpless. Is that what you’re aiming for?” Hajime Fitun questioned. “This won’t be enjoyable at all if that’s the case, so I’ll tell you this: Buying time is pointless.”
The heroic spirits had incarnated inside the bodies of adventurers forced into a vegetative state by the ‘Marionette’ ability. If they wielded the full power that they possessed as heroic spirits while in this state, the bodies of the adventurers would collapse within minutes.
But through harsh training in Fitun’s Dungeon of Trials, they had trained these weak bodies into ones that were fit to be used by heroic spirits. On top of that, each of them had been given a Magic Item that continuously repaired any damage to their bodies, though the items’ effectiveness varied.
By doing this, they had succeeded in extending that time limit of ‘several minutes’ to over ten minutes.
Gordon Bobby and the Flame Blades were those among Fitun’s subordinates who had been exceptionally compatible with the bodies of the adventurers they had taken over; they had become able to fight with ‘Heroic Spirit Transformation’ for long periods of time.
The time they could fight for was still less than an hour, but a little conversation posed no problems.
And Hajime Fitun himself was not using a Skill like ‘Heroic Spirit Descent.’ What he was using was the ‘Marionette’ itself, in order to manipulate his own body.
While living in Origin as Inui Hajime, he had only used his ability to control others. But Fitun, who was a god of war and had been a mercenary during his mortal life, had thought of using the ‘Marionette’ ability to freely control his own body.
Fitun was a man who had become a god through the worship of his strength and his countless achievements in battle. His experience in combat against other humans alone was vast.
He was using that experience to the fullest while controlling Hajime’s body as he fought against Vandalieu.
Naturally, there was no time limit for him.
“If you do nothing but buy time, your precious allies will be killed by my subordinates…” Hajime Fitun began, but he was interrupted by the loud noise of a Mountain Giant’s corpse landing after having been thrown by its own allies that had been turned into Zombies.
“Transform!” said Kanako and Melissa’s voices as they raised their staves, drowning out that thundering sound.
“What the hell is that?!” Hajime Fitun shouted.
The liquid metal separated from the staves and changed form, completing Kanako and Melissa’s transformations in an instant.
Both of them were now in mini-skirts that appeared easy to move about in, but although Kanako’s clothes featured a large number of ribbons and frills, Melissa’s was a more reserved, tight design.
When Vandalieu first started making transformation staves, there was the alchemy-related issue of having to make sure there was enough surface area to draw magical circles upon, so he had been forced to make transformations include a surplus of decorative parts. Considering that, Melissa’s clothes were a significant technical improvement.
“What is that?! They look completely different!” one of the Flame Blades shouted.
“They’re Magic Items! They’re definitely their trump cards, don’t let your guard down!” Gordon Bobby warned his companions.
The heroic spirits possessed the knowledge that Fitun had gained from acquiring the body of a reincarnated individual, but they hadn’t been taught about Earth’s sub-culture work.
Though Kanako and Melissa’s appearances were very peculiar and surprising, the heroic spirits became even more cautious rather than letting their guard down and laughing.
But Fitun possessed Hajime’s knowledge and understood where Kanako and Melissa’s transformation staves came from.
“D… Damn you! Transform?! You’re fooling around and playing games while we’re having a battle to the death?!” he shouted, his surprise turning into anger at this sacrilege of the sanctity of combat.
Seeing an opening, Vandalieu flew in. Putting his Gyubarzo staff back on his back, he swung the claws of all four limbs.
But all of this was an act from Hajime Fitun.
He fell for it!
He activated ‘Marionette’ against Vandalieu, who had already come into contact with his electricity. But he didn’t expect to be able to manipulate Vandalieu.
Vandalieu was an inhuman being; even if Hajime Fitun somehow managed to gain control of his body, he would simply use ‘Out-of-body Experience’ and continue fighting. Hajime Fitun hadn’t counted on being able to control him at all, right from the very beginning.
But there’s another way to use this ‘Marionette’ ability. I’ll read your thoughts!
‘Marionette’ could not only manipulate nerves, but read the small, biologically-produced electrical currents flowing along them, which meant that it could read the thoughts inside the brain. This was one of Hajime Fitun’s trump cards.
This was an advanced use of the ability that was only possible through the knowledge Hajime possessed as a reincarnated individual and the power that Fitun possessed as a god of the wind attribute.
This isn’t directly reading the mind with magic; it’s just reading the small electric currents in your nerves and predicting your thoughts! It’s like lip-reading but with brain waves; even resistance Skills are useless against this! Now then, let’s have a look inside your brain… WHAT IS THIS?!
As Vandalieu flew towards Fitun, Fitun read his thoughts, but his astonishment caused his reaction to Vandalieu’s attacks to be delayed. His act almost stopped being an act.
“‘Thousand Beast Dual Claws,’” said Vandalieu, unleashing a flurry of rapid, consecutive claw attacks.
Hajime Fitun shouted in alarm. “‘Extreme Rapid Response!’”
Barely managing to deflect Vandalieu’s attacks with his scimitars by improving his reaction time with ‘Extreme Rapid Response,’ Fitun broke out into a cold sweat.
What the hell kind of brain does this guy have?! I get that he’s thinking multiple things at once, but there has to be a limit! Fitun thought in disbelief.
Vandalieu, swinging the claws of all four of his limbs while also occasionally using ‘Sharp Tongue,’ a thrusting attack with his tongue, was operating with a countless number of simultaneous thought processes through ‘Group Thinking Technique.’
It wasn’t just his fine control over his limbs; he was also focusing on providing Mana to Kimberley, giving orders to the Dragon Zombies, controlling his Demon King Familiars and keeping alert to his surroundings. With a countless number of thought processes happening at the same time, Hajime Fitun had been unable to immediately decide which to read.
But I see now. This is the one I should be reading, Hajime Fitun thought, successfully identifying the thought process that he should be reading after exchanging several more blows with Vandalieu. This is it. If I read this, I’ll know what he will do before he does it!
However, this thought process was far faster than could be explained through the science of Earth. On Earth, there was a limit on the speed of humans’ thoughts… In principle, it should have been impossible for thoughts to occur faster than the speed of the electrical currents traveling along the neural network.
Despite that, the electrical currents traveling across Vandalieu’s brain were moving at incomparably faster speeds.
If scientists on Earth were to observe this, they would be astonished by the impossibility of what they were seeing and think that there was some kind of mistake. But this was Lambda, not Earth.
This was not only a world in which magic existed; it was also a world in which Dragons roamed the skies, where Giants strode across the land, where even humans could run on the surface of water if they were S-class adventurers. As the laws of physics were different in this world, it wasn’t unusual at all that Earth’s scientific knowledge didn’t apply here.
The other problem was whether it was possible to read those high-speed thoughts; it would have been impossible for Hajime, but Fitun was a legendary mercenary who had become a god of the wind attribute. He was confident that he could do it.
Hajime Fitun gave a triumphant laugh. “Die! ‘Transcend Limits,’ ‘Transcend Limits: Magic Sword,’ ‘Twin Heavenly Thunder Blades!’”
Pushing Hajime’s body and his magical swords to their limits, he unleashed the martial skill of an advanced Skill.
“… ‘Hollow Bullet,’ ‘Impact-Negating Barrier,’ ‘Screw Sharp Tongue,’” Vandalieu murmured in response.
Surprised by Hajime Fitun’s sudden decision to attack with full strength, he activated ‘Transcend Limits’ and began attacking more aggressively.
But Vandalieu’s attacks had suddenly begun to not work against Hajime Fitun at all.
There were more instances in which his claws were deflected by a scimitar and attacks that should have at least forced Hajime Fitun to block were dodged completely. And in turn, there were more instances in which Vandalieu was forced to block Hajime Fitun’s scimitars.
Deciding that it would be bad if the exchange of blows began disfavoring him, Vandalieu fired ‘Hollow Bullets,’ put up a thin ‘Impact-Negating Barrier’ for an instant to try and stop Hajime Fitun’s movements and used a thrusting attack with his extended tongue.
But Hajime Fitun dealt with all of these. He slashed through the barrier with an Orichalcum scimitar the moment it appeared, and avoided the black projectiles and tongue without stopping his movement at all.
“One blow to begin with!” Hajime Fitun mused to himself as his scimitar struck Vandalieu’s torso in return.
His lips twisted in a smile of joy as he dealt proper damage to Vandalieu for the first time. But the smile quickly vanished and he clicked his tongue as he realized that the wound was shallow because of the liquid metal armor that Vandalieu was wearing beneath his clothes.
Meanwhile, the exchange of blows continued.
It’s a good thing that he’s not using the ‘Radiant Life’ that Heinz used or any spells that delay regeneration, Vandalieu thought.
The shallow wound had regenerated immediately. The damaged liquid metal armor had returned to liquid form and repaired itself within seconds as well.
It was indeed fortunate that Hajime Fitun wasn’t using anti-death-attribute magic like the ‘Blue-flamed Sword’ Heinz had.
But why is he able to read my attacks? Vandalieu wondered. Even considering that he has the advantage when it comes to experience in combat, his overall strength shouldn’t be that much different from my own.
From what Vandalieu had seen, Hajime Fitun possessed significantly greater strength than what Vandalieu could display due to the need to protect his reputation. But he was dealing with Vandalieu’s attacks as if he could see the future; it was difficult to imagine that the difference was so great that Vandalieu should be forced into a one-sided struggle to defend himself.
With that being the case, he must have done something. The one who predicts the future is the ‘Gazer’ Hitomi, so that can’t be it… Is he reading my thoughts to know what I’m going to do?
‘Marionette’ was an ability that controlled others. But it was possible that it could be used as a way to read their thoughts as well.
Then let’s test this… Staff, he said in his mind.
The Gyubarzo staff on Vandalieu’s back let out a peculiar noise in response from the ominous-looking merman-like skull on its tip.
The skull’s jaw opened with a click and released a strange beam of light. Vandalieu had placed a Demon King’s eyeball and the Demon King’s luminescent glands inside it.
There was no way that Hajime Fitun could anticipate a ranged attack from a staff that wasn’t even in Vandalieu’s hand.
But Hajime Fitun managed to hastily avoid the beam, cursing as he did so. Seeing this, Vandalieu was certain that his thoughts were being read.
Hajime Fitun himself knew from Vandalieu’s thoughts that Vandalieu was aware of it. But at the same time, he thought: So what?
Humans could not think without using their brains and nerves; the brain was absolutely essential for fighting by casting spells and using one’s body.
But with this, it was possible that Vandalieu would now bring out his full power as the Demon King, abandoning his attempts to protect his reputation and prevent damage to the city. Hajime Fitun began preparing a special, deadly attack to put an end to this battle before that happened –
“Hmm? W-what?!” He shouted in alarm.
In the next instant, he screamed in pain as Vandalieu’s claws gouged out a large chunk of flesh from his side.
If the wound had been a little deeper, or if his armor wasn’t made of the hide of a high-Rank monster, the wound could have reached his internal organs.
But Hajime Fitun received a bigger shock not from the wound, but something else.
He had suddenly become unable to read Vandalieu’s thoughts.
Impossible, he thought in astonishment and panic.
Meanwhile, Vandalieu disconnected his limbs from their sockets with popping noises. “‘Whip Strike Claws.’”
He unleashed an attack that combined ‘Whip Technique’ and ‘Unarmed Fighting Technique.’ Vandalieu’s disjointed, extended limbs flew about in a rapid assault upon Hajime Fitun.
Hajime Fitun screamed in anger. “What is the meaning of this?! You bastard, how did you stop my ‘Marionette?!’”
Unable to defend himself from all of Vandalieu’s claw attacks that came swinging in from strange and unpredictable directions, Hajime Fitun became covered in his own blood in an instant. He hadn’t sustained a fatal wound yet, but that was only because he had only barely managed to succeed in protecting his vital spots like his head.
He knew he had to regain his composure, and for that, he needed to read Vandalieu’s thoughts. In order to do that, he put more of his concentration into his use of ‘Marionette,’ but that caused a drop in the attention he paid to his own defense.
But that effort paid off; Hajime Fitun now understood what Vandalieu had done.
“You bastard… You’re not using your brain?! Just how much of a monstrosity can you be, Demon King?!” he exclaimed.
Using ‘Marionette,’ Hajime Fitun had searched for signs of Vandalieu possessing some other organ that carried out the function of the physical brain, or him having been replaced by an illusion or a Golem by a third party.
But it wasn’t that he had become unable to read Vandalieu’s thoughts. Vandalieu’s brain had simply stopped all activity and was doing no thinking whatsoever.
“Don’t say that like I’m some kind of idiot,” said Vandalieu as he cast ‘Flame Prison Death’ and ignited Hajime Fitun’s blood that was on the surface of his body.
Suppressing a scream, Hajime Fitun extinguished the fire in the same way as before and recovered by drinking a Potion taken from his pocket.
He looked with an expression of fear towards Vandalieu, who was speaking and casting spells without using his brain.
“It’s regrettable that you’re looking at me that way when all I’m doing is controlling my body directly with my soul and spirit rather than using my brain,” said Vandalieu.
From his perspective, he wasn’t doing anything extraordinary. He was simply controlling his body with just his soul and spirit.
In Origin, he had spent a long period of time in the presence of other spirits, with the freedom of control over his body having been robbed from him. Ever since his experience of turning into an Undead, Vandalieu had always possessed the ability to think without using his brain, and it didn’t take him much effort at all.
That was why he was able to do things like multiply his thinking capacity by using ‘Out-of-body Experience’ and multiplying his spirit’s heads.
To Vandalieu, the brain was important but not the only important organ in his body; it was nothing more than a supplementary organ to his soul.
Well, it would be inconvenient in various ways if I stopped ALL of its functions… I’d have to manually control my breathing and heart rate, so I’d die if I lost consciousness, Vandalieu thought to himself.
This was why Vandalieu didn’t choose to do this when it wasn’t necessary.
“It seems that ‘Marionette’ is unable to interfere with my soul and spirit… ‘Whip Tongue,’” said Vandalieu.
He swung his tongue that was extended from his mouth like a whip, aiming for Hajime Fitun. The whip of flesh struck Hajime Fitun’s arm and wrapped itself around it.
“Not yet, it’s not over yet!” Hajime Fitun shouted.
He made no attempts to remove the tongue from his arm; he grasped it instead and tried to pull Vandalieu towards himself.
He was likely under the impression that unlike a whip, Vandalieu would be unable to let go of his own tongue if it were to be pulled. He intended to strike Vandalieu’s head with his scimitar once Vandalieu lost his balance.
But this was a bad move. It would have been understandable for Hajime to make this error, but it was carelessness on the part of the war god Fitun, even if that carelessness was because he still hadn’t regained his composure from the shock and surprise that he had experienced moments earlier.
As Hajime Fitun continued pulling, Vandalieu’s tongue simply grew longer. And without any hesitation, Vandalieu closed his mouth and bit off his own tongue once it had reached a sufficient length.
Now free and separate from Vandalieu, the whip made of flesh turned into a snake and coiled around Hajime Fitun’s body.
Hajime Fitun screamed. “‘Flame Prison Death’ again?! It’s no use, I’ll use my own magic to put it out no matter how many times you –”
“No, I’m going to put a sinister curse on you with my whip-like tongue,” said Vandalieu.
The moment he finished speaking, the tongue wrapped around Hajime Fitun’s body began glowing with a venomous-looking color.
Skill explanation: Assassin Fighting Technique
A Skill specialized for combat against other humans, combining ‘Assassination Technique,’ ‘Unarmed Fighting Technique’ and ‘Dagger Technique.’ It is effective when attacking other humans, and there are specialized martial skills, but it is not well-suited for use against monsters with significantly different anatomy like beasts and Dragons, or monsters like Slimes and plant-type monsters that possess no internal organs.
Thus, this Skill is more often acquired by mercenaries and assassins rather than adventurers.
However, it is still effective against demi-human-type monsters, so some adventurers do possess it.