Thanks to the sponsors of this chapter: Tejing ($50) Sum1 ($50) Catherine ($10) TM ($40)
Due to my recent increased translation pace (which at this stage looks like it should continue through October as well), the sponsored chapter queue is now empty – This chapter was the last chapter in the current queue. The last time this happened, I contemplated three options:
- Simply stop translating until more donations come in.
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- Translate and release chapters immediately, and have the community fill the donations in for them afterwards.
Like last time, I will decide on option 3, so a lack of donations will not influence the upcoming chapter release rate. I plan to translate five chapters this week (not including this chapter) – though release might be early next week, depending on how long editing takes.
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In the world that was off-limits to everyone else, Vandalieu was preparing a countless number of human-shaped creatures.
“It seems that the improved resurrection device and masses of flesh are able to exist in this space with no problems,” one of them reported.
“The magic circle experiment is complete. Success rate is one hundred percent,” said another.
“Medical facilities and residences are fully complete.”
“The power generation squad is ready and on standby.”
As a result of the preparations that Vandalieu had been making here, this ‘Inner World’ was the strangest of them all.
There was an enormous dome-shaped structure, filled with buildings with an architecture that would never be seen in Lambda. The ceiling was painted blue, and a sphere radiating a warm light was floating in the air.
“Clothes, consumable goods, medical supplies, furniture… Everything needed to live here for the time being is in place,” said Vandalieu.
“Shall we add food supplies from over there as well?” one of the human-shaped creatures suggested.
“That shouldn’t be necessary,” said another. “We’ve become able to recreate most dishes anyway.”
“The problem is entertainment,” said Vandalieu. “I can copy their books, but what about video games?”
“I suppose they will have to make do without them for a while,” the creature said.
“Most regrettable, but it can’t be helped… From what Mari has told me, it seems that we’re out of time,” said Vandalieu.
The human-shaped creatures were Demon King Familiars. Their grotesque bodies were squeezed into what resembled protective clothing that covered their entire bodies, and they were pretending to act like humans.
Near the magic circle carved into the plaza was Vida’s resurrection device that had been in the underground space beneath Talosheim’s castle, as well as capsules filled with masses of flesh that the resurrection device had produced.
“Preparations are as complete as they’ll get. All that’s left to do is make our move,” Vandalieu said.
About a week before Vandalieu’s preparations were complete, in Origin, the ‘Avalon’ Rikudou Hijiri and his most trusted subordinates were listening to a technician’s report detailing the results of the experiments carried out on Shihouin Mari.
“She has shown wonderful results, Mr. Rikudou. She has acquired a complete affinity for the death attribute,” the technician said, unable to conceal his excitement as he played footage of Shihouin Mari on a tablet. “This is not an imperfect affinity like those of the Eighth Guidance and the other experimental subjects we have used thus far. She has a perfect affinity, just like the ‘Undead!’ She has already succeeded in recreating numerous death-attribute spells!”
The person on the screen, the one who had once been Shihouin Mari, was wearing a helmet-shaped machine that covered her head from the nose up, obeying the commands she was given.
With death-attribute magic, she turned a deadly poison into a harmless liquid, and turned ordinary water into deadly poison.
She increased the lethality of a small-caliber firearm, killing a bear whose fur and muscle would normally stop the bullet from inflicting a lethal wound.
When a bullet was fired at her, she stopped it with a barrier that absorbed its kinetic energy.
“It is as you can see. We have also been able to recreate the Magic Items that were once produced by the nation that owned the ‘Undead,’ though they are of a slightly lower quality. But we can attribute that to the fact that ‘Metamorph’ possesses far less Mana than the ‘Undead’ did. I believe we can make up for the difference in Mana quantity by mass-producing death-attribute magic users, allowing us to scale up our production,” the technician said. “Congratulations, Mr. Rikudou. Your research has been successful.”
He truly believed that the research was successful. The organization that had assigned him here, as well as the prominent political and business figures who had supported the research in various forms, would indeed be satisfied with these results.
They were now able to produce the various Magic Items that had become impossible to create after the ‘Undead’ was destroyed more than ten years ago.
This would yield unimaginable profits. The support that had been provided to Rikudou’s research would be repaid countless times over… though this would only be true if the scale of production matched the ‘Undead.’
“I see. Thank you for the report. You are dismissed,” said Rikudou, unimpressed.
“Y-yes sir. Excuse me!” said the man, taken aback by Rikudou’s reaction for a moment, but hastily bowing and leaving the room after seeing the look in Rikudou’s eyes.
Only Rikudou and those who knew of his circumstances remained in the room, and they sighed with bitter expressions on their faces.
“‘Your research has been successful,’ huh. These researchers are of terrible quality, aren’t they?” one of them said.
“Don’t say that,” said Moriya. “As a result of the Eighth Guidance’s crimes and Rikudou-san’s plans, there are almost no death-attribute researchers left. That man was just a lab worker who worked the equipment and carried out maintenance.”
“Yes, it’s as Moriya says,” said Rikudou. “It would be cruel to expect too much of him… After all, he doesn’t know that the mass-production of death-attribute magic users is impossible.”
If one were to express the Mana of ‘Metamorph’ in numbers, it was close to thirty thousand. In a world where one would be considered a first-rate mage if they had ten thousand Mana, it was an extraordinary number.
However, the ‘Undead’… the now-deceased Amamiya Hiroto’s Mana had been a hundred million. A difference of four orders of magnitude. Accounting for that difference would need over three thousand people like ‘Metamorph,’ but the topic being discussed now was the fact that this was impossible.
The number of death-attribute magic users that could possibly exist was less than a hundred.
“The conditions for a complete affinity for the death attribute are for the subject to have died a complete death while possessing no affinity for any attribute. It can’t be someone who is resuscitated after their hearts and lungs are stopped; they must die and go through the circle of transmigration. In other words, they must be one of us reincarnated individuals,” said Rikudou.
This was the method of acquiring an affinity for the death attribute that Rikudou had created.
The members of the Eighth Guidance had the death-attribute Mana of the ‘Undead’ planted in them while they were on the verge of death, and this had only given them an incomplete affinity for the death attribute.
The same was true for the experimental subjects that had been used thus far. If a human of this world were to be resuscitated after having their hearts and lungs completely stopped, they would never have gone through a complete death.
However, it seemed that the order of the two conditions – not possessing an affinity for any attribute, and dying a complete death and going through the circle of transmigration – didn’t matter. ‘Metamorph’ was a reincarnated individual who had gone through the circle of transmigration, and she had become able to use death-attribute Mana after her affinity for the attributes was erased afterwards.
Ten years ago, Rikudou had failed to realize that dying a complete death and going through the circle of transmigration was one of these conditions, because to him, it was both a cliché and a condition that was very peculiar.
He and the other reincarnated individuals were aware of the circle of transmigration because they had experienced it themselves. But the people of this world had lived previous lives just like them, and they would be reincarnated and live their next lives after they died.
The only difference was that the reincarnated individuals possessed the memories and personalities from their previous lives.
The members of the Eighth Guidance and the disposable experimental subjects that Rikudou had used thus far were also people who had lived previous lives and gone through the circle of transmigration to be born into their current lives.
That was why going through the circle of transmigration was a condition that Rikudou had never even felt the need to consider.
“Who would have thought that the condition would be going through the circle of transmigration while retaining one’s previous memories and personality… In summary, death-attribute magic is something that cannot be used by anyone who hasn’t experienced a complete death,” Rikudou muttered.
The ‘Undead, who was a reincarnated individual and had apparently been born without an affinity for any attribute, had likely become able to use death-attribute magic by continuously attempting to use magic without giving up.
“But then, what about Amemiya Mei?” asked Moriya. “Of course, we only have suspicions and no real proof that she possesses an affinity for the death attribute, but…”
“I’m sure it is because she met the condition when she was killed and then resurrected by Pluto, during a period where it would be difficult to say whether she was an embryo or a fetus,” said Rikudou. “We have not been able to observe how the circle of transmigration works, and we don’t know what defines one’s memories and personality, so we have no choice but to assume that’s the case.”
Perhaps Amemiya Mei had returned to Rodcorte’s circle of transmigration system after dying as a zygote, then returned to the same zygote when it was brought back to life. It was possible that Rikudou would have reached this conclusion if he knew that reincarnation was carried out by a system.
As for memories and personalities, Rikudou had no hope of drawing any conclusions. To begin with, he had no idea about where the line was that determined whether one possessed their previous memories and personality or not.
Even Rikudou didn’t remember absolutely everything he had experienced on Earth. He had forgotten everything from when he was too young to be aware of the world around him, and he certainly didn’t remember every single word of every single insignificant conversation he’d had with his family or classmates.
That was true for ‘Metamorph’ as well. There was no guarantee that her personality was the same as her personality from her previous life, either – many reincarnated individuals had developed an aversion for the sea and boats due to the fear and shock they had experienced during their deaths.
At the time of Amemiya Mei’s death, she had no eyes, ears, or even a brain – it was certainly scientifically questionable as to whether she even had memories or a personality.
But Rikudou and the other reincarnated individuals knew that souls existed.
Did souls possess the ability to think? Could they form memories? Or was it that the reincarnated individuals were special and the souls of ordinary people didn’t possess these abilities? Rikudou hadn’t been able to answer these questions yet.
Thus, there was no way to deny the possibility that Amemiya Mei had met the requirement. He would likely be able to get an answer once he acquired her and examined her thoroughly.
With all these thoughts going through his mind, Rikudou tossed aside the reports about ‘Metamorph.’
“However, it is clear that ‘Metamorph’ is imperfect. It’s not just her Mana; she is only able to use a small portion of the spells that the ‘Undead’ could,” Rikudou said. “She cannot create Golems and Undead. Nor can she use the spells that the ‘Undead’ used to massacre the scientists and security personnel of the research laboratory when it ran rampant, or the spell that he used to grant fragmentary death-attribute Mana to heal the members of the Eighth Guidance.”
As described in the lab technician’s report, ‘Metamorph’ was not able to use all the spells that the ‘Undead’ had used. Even taking a difference in proficiency into account, it was strange that she couldn’t create Golems and Undead, as the ‘Undead’ had been able to do this at an early stage.
Vandalieu… Banda, the being lurking in Amemiya Mei’s shadow, would be exasperated if he were to hear this. The reason would be obvious to him, after all.
Although Rikudou and his researchers manipulated ‘Metamorph’ through machines and drugs, ‘Metamorph’ was unable to manipulate the spirits of the dead. The reason the ‘Undead’ had been able to create Golems and Undead was simply because the spirits of the dead had chosen to obey him of their own free wills.
The spell he had used to massacre the research laboratory’s staff had used power borrowed from those spirits. Thus, it was impossible for ‘Metamorph’ to use this spell, as she didn’t have the ability to charm the spirits of the dead.
There was also one more condition for perfect mastery over death-attribute magic, one that Rikudou and his subordinates weren’t yet aware of. But there was no way they could know this, as they had no way to analyze the state of a soul, even if they knew souls existed.
“This is insufficient. Even if I were to acquire death-attribute Mana, it would be far from enough to achieve my goal,” Rikudou said, unable to realize this.
One of his subordinates frowned anxiously. By ‘acquiring the power of the death attribute,’ Rikudou-san means that he wants to become able to use death-attribute magic himself, he thought. But then…
He had assumed that by Rikudou ‘acquiring the power of the death attribute’ had meant creating pawns who were able to use death-attribute magic like ‘Metamorph’ and manipulating them to wield its power.
Of course, he understood the power of death-attribute magic. But he doubted whether it was so valuable that it would be worth it for Rikudou to sacrifice all magic of the other attributes for it.
Rikudou possessed the ‘Unlimited Development’ cheat-like ability, and to the subordinate’s knowledge, his Mana was several times that of ‘Metamorph.’ He had surpassed the limits of humanity. But even so, he was far from surpassing the one hundred million Mana of the ‘Undead.’ There was no guarantee that he would be able to master the use of death-attribute magic like the ‘Undead.’
“As I thought, it is necessary to analyze Amemiya Mei in order for me to become an unprecedented being… for me to attain eternal power and stand at the top of this world,” Rikudou said.
But the subordinate couldn’t voice his doubts. He could hear a strong obsession in Rikudou’s voice. He could also see the fervent sense of superiority that Rikudou’s words elicited in Moriya and the other trusted subordinates – and he could feel it himself.
They had betrayed their fellow reincarnated individuals, indirectly killed some of them, and done inhumane things to them such as the experiments performed on ‘Metamorph.’ Of course, they had also killed many humans of this world who were not reincarnated individuals.
This hadn’t been done out of self-defense or in the name of justice, nor had they simply been following orders. They had willingly chosen to betray the Bravers, take advantage of them, and kill some of them.
It may be impossible for us, but Rikudou-san might be able to surpass human limits and become a god. With the power of the death attribute, Rikudou-san will become a god, and we will be the privileged few who serve this god in a new age! If we can achieve that, then who cares about the people of this world and the fools who look up to Amemiya as a leader!
The brakes provided by their morals had been broken long ago.
Rikudou had tempted them so that this would happen… He had done this for the purpose of turning them into convenient subordinates for himself, but this was of little concern to them.
Rikudou pressed some buttons on the tablet, and the image on the screen changed from ‘Metamorph’ to some kind of cultivation device. It was a cylindrical tank, and a humanoid organism was suspended in the fluid inside, sleeping.
“I have the ‘things’ I need for me to acquire the power of death-attribute magic, but I will get no second chances, so I have to act carefully. And once I succeed, the Bravers will not only be unnecessary, but a hindrance,” said Rikudou.
“Then… we will be securing Amemiya Mei, destroying the Bravers, and disposing of the waste all at the same time,” said Moriya.
Rikudou nodded, declaring the beginning of the plan’s execution.
Mari, who noticed that only sensors were monitoring her now, laughed quietly. Not physically, as she had been robbed of the freedom to control her body, and she couldn’t even move her mouth a single inch. But her soul was laughing.
“Just a little longer…”
About a week after the conversation between Rikudou and his subordinates, Banda was standing behind Mei, teaching her a new spell.
“Hngh! Ungh!” Mei grunted.
“Meh-kun, that’s not talking with your mind, you’re just trying to speak with your mouth closed,” Banda said.
The several spirits gathered in front of Mei smiled dryly.
What Mei was attempting to learn right now was ‘Telepathy.’ It was quite a rudimentary spell, one that allowed the caster to silently communicate their will to spirits and Undead.
“Mnn?” Mei said, looking up at Banda with her mouth closed and her cheeks puffed out.
“Consciously using telepathy to communicate seems to be surprisingly difficult. And I can’t exactly teach you,” said Banda with a troubled expression as he stroked Mei’s hair and tapped his six jointed legs against the floor.
He had invented the ‘Telepathy’ spell when he lived in this world. This spell had been necessary for allowing him to converse with spirits while he was in a state where the scientists had robbed him of the ability to control his own body.
But even though he had ‘invented’ it, he had done so while in a state of being unable to move his mouth no matter how much he wanted to. Rather than an ‘invention,’ it had been more like the result of making any attempt to struggle however he could, something that he had become able to do without even realizing it. Thus, he couldn’t give Mei any specific learning methods or tips.
“Isn’t it the same as talking in your dreams?” said Hiroshi, pausing his no-attribute magic practice.
He would be turning nine this year, but he was at home because school was closed for spring break.
“That is true, but recreating the sensation of dreaming while you’re awake is…” Banda began.
“I did it! Banda, Nii-chan, I did it!” Mei said telepathically, before Banda could finish his sentence with the word ‘difficult.’
“It looks like you’ve done it,” agreed Banda.
“Wow, that’s amazing!” said Hiroshi.
“What is this?! I hear a voice in my head! A-am I dreaming?!” a startled voice came from outside the room.
It seemed that Mei had used telepathy to communicate her thoughts without selecting who would hear them, causing the person who had been assigned as the children’s guard to panic and run to where the children were… This person was the ‘Echo’ Ulrika Scaccio, one of the reincarnated individuals who, like Joseph, was aware of Banda’s existence.
She had been addicted to drugs, but after encountering Banda, Mei, and Vandalieu in a dream last fall, she had recovered to the point that she was able to live her daily life without any problems… though she often panicked when things happened that were even slightly out of the ordinary.
Seeing Mei, Ulrika shouted in relief and collapsed to her knees. “Mei-chan is still there. This is a dream, and if I’m dreaming, then I’m fine, I’m not crazy, I’m not crazy…” she began muttering to herself.
“Aunt Ulrika, are you alright?!” Hiroshi exclaimed as he and Mei ran over to her and began rubbing her back and patting her head.
“Are you okay? Sorry for scaring you, Auntie Ul,” Mei apologized.
Ulrika was a woman in her thirties from a Nordic country, and she was very tall, but… her mind had been greatly harmed by the more than ten years she had spent conducting disaster rescue missions under harsh conditions and fighting against terrorists and criminal organizations.
That was precisely why she had encountered Vandalieu and Mei in her dreams, like the ‘Druid’ Joseph.
And like Joseph, she ‘hadn’t fully recovered yet,’ so she was conveniently assigned tasks away from the frontlines of battles, such as the guarding of Mei and Hiroshi, relatively frequently.
“Ulrika… Would you like to rest for a little while?” asked Banda.
“I’m alright, once I recover… My metabolism has recovered after I lost thirty kilograms in body weight, and I have normal blood sugar levels and blood pressure… I don’t have visual or auditory hallucinations anymore, and I’ve become able to sleep like this even without sleeping pills,” she said with a happy laugh, pleased with herself.
“Aunt Ulrika, this isn’t a dream. You’re in our living room,” Hiroshi told her.
“I-I am?! Then what I heard just now really was an auditory hallucination?!” Ulrika exclaimed.
“No, that was Mei’s ‘Telepathy.’ Sorry for scaring you,” Hiroshi said.
“I see… There’s no problem, then,” said Ulrika, her tone of speech returning to normal as if the panic she had been in moments earlier had never happened at all.
“So, what was the phone call about?” Banda asked her.
“Joseph was supposed to take over for me, but he got called out on an urgent mission. The ‘Balor’ Johnny Yamaoka will be coming instead,” Ulrika said.
Recently, disasters had been occurring frequently all over the world, resulting in the Bravers being deployed. Rikudou’s crazed behavior at Mei’s third birthday party… though it had actually been the ‘Metamorph’ Shihouin Mari, had been attributed to the stress of overworking due to these disasters, and he was making far fewer public appearances.
This had made the Bravers busier as a whole. Of course, natural disasters such as earthquakes were under nobody’s control, but Banda and his allies suspected that many of the disasters were manufactured by Rikudou’s collaborators under his instruction.
“‘Balor’… I know him by name, but I’ve never met him before. Is he one of Rikudou’s allies?” Banda asked.
Johnny Yamaoka, who had been reincarnated as a Japanese person who was a citizen of the Federal States, had the codename and ability known as ‘Balor. He was mainly involved in suppressing terrorists and criminals, and fire fighting in the event of large fires.
His cheat-like abilities allowed him to sap the energy of a target and convert that sapped energy into Mana. He could remove the energy produced by the ignition of gunpowder, turning firearms into useless junk, and extinguish fires by sapping their heat energy. Of course, the Mana contained in spells was also a form of energy, and he could sap that energy as well.
And because Johnny had been born to parents who both came from families that had served the military generation after generation, he had received training in martial arts and the use of firearms even before the formation of the Bravers, so he was highly capable in combat.
There was a limit to how much energy he could sap at once, but he was an exceptional soldier who made up for the limits of his ability with his fighting strength. His style of fighting was similar to the ‘Mage Masher’ Asagi, who could nullify elemental magic.
“Whether he’s an ally of Rikudou is unclear,” Ulrika said, answering Vandalieu’s question. “He was apparently one of the ferry’s crew on Earth, like Mao, but he never got close to anyone after he was reincarnated in this world. The only time he talks to people is when it’s about his mission.”
It seemed that Johnny’s personality was the direct opposite of Asagi’s, and didn’t form any unnecessary relationships with people.
“I haven’t met him, either. Even the books don’t feature him a lot,” said Hiroshi.
“Yeah, it seems that he doesn’t handle the mass media very well. I don’t think there are many reincarnated individuals who do, but… In any case, I’m going to switch the sensors back on before he arrives, so make sure to keep any magic practice to no-attribute magic only,” Ulrika said.
“Okay,” Hiroshi and Mei said simultaneously.
Even now, there were sensors at the Amemiya residence that could detect death-attribute magic. But these sensors were switched off when those who knew of Banda’s existence, like Joseph and Ulrika, were on duty to guard Mei and Hiroshi.
During that time, Mei was able to practice death-attribute magic.
“Now then…” Ulrika said, but she was interrupted by the sudden ringing of the intercom’s alarm. “Hmm? I suppose he’s here. He’s quite early.”
Banda and Mei immediately sensed danger.
“Auntie, reflect!” Mei shouted in warning.
Out of reflex, Ulrika obeyed that warning and activated her ability.
A bullet flew through the wall of the house, destined to create a hole between her eyebrows, but it was reflected by the ‘Echo’ ability.
The thud of a body hitting the ground came from somewhere outside, presumably having been hit by the bullet that had been sent directly back to where it had come from.
“Nii-chan, over here!” Mei cried, beckoning Hiroshi towards where she was standing, near Banda’s feet.
“Y-yeah!” said Hiroshi, quickly running over.
Now, even if a missile were to hit the house, the two of them would be safe.
“What’s going on?!” shouted Ulrika.
“The enemy is here,” said Banda. “According to my ‘Detect Life,’ there are ten of them. It seems that they’ve got us surrounded on both sides. I’m sure they avoided killing the neighbors in order to prevent their spirits from coming here and warning us, and to prevent me from turning them into Undead.”
Ulrika gasped. “‘Echo’ tells me the same thing. But there are several military Golems positioned around us. The thing that shot at me just now was a Golem. That one is out of commission after I reflected the bullet, though.”
Ulrika’s ‘Echo’ was not merely an ability that reflected attacks. It was an ability that caused the phenomenon known as reflection.
It allowed her to detect the reflection of sounds – echoes – functioning as a sonar that gave her knowledge of her surroundings, and she could also reflect light like a mirror, allowing her to cover her blind spots.
It wasn’t easy for her to reflect light in a concentrated beam to shoot as a laser, however.
“To think that he would bring out military Golems that I can’t sense with ‘Detect Life’… It seems that ‘Balor’ really means to eliminate you, Ulrika. And the mysterious being in the Amemiya residence – me,” said Banda.
“I’m sure you’re right. ‘Balor’ would be a bad match for me… If we fight, I won’t be able to win,” Ulrika said.
Her ‘Echo’ was able to reflect any attack, but she couldn’t reflect the damage she suffered to her enemy like Ereshkigal’s ‘Counter’ could.
If the ‘Balor’ Johnny Yamaoka were to engage her in close-range combat, he would sap the kinetic energy from her limbs and defeat her in a one-sided fashion.
That was how strong Johnny was in combat.
“What are we supposed to do…” Ulrika muttered, grinding her teeth in frustration.
“I suppose we should go and attend to them,” Banda said calmly.
The ‘Balor’ Johnny Yamaoka was certain that this plan would result in his victory.
“I do feel that this is rather crude for the mission that concludes my years of hiding the fact that I’m a subordinate of Master Rikudou, but…” he murmured.
He had seventeen skilled men under his command, who were all mercenaries who had once belonged to the army. They were armed with magical media – crystals that had been created through military magic technology – as well as heavy firearms and ten autonomous military Golems.
The military Golems were the newest model; they had been stationed in the military bases of the Federal States located in Japan. They were powered by Mana, and several of their sensors and their entire operating system was made of Magical Items; they looked just like robots in appearance. Each one was more combat-effective than a tank.
Of course, one of them had been damaged by the bullet reflected by ‘Echo.’ The reflected bullet had flown back down the barrel of the gun it had been fired from, causing everything inside to explode.
“Still, ‘Echo’ is quite impressive. To think that she’d take notice of a surprise attack… Or was it because of the unknown enemy in Moriya’s report?” Johnny wondered. “Well, it doesn’t matter. We are making our move – we won’t be hiding or sneaking around anymore. We’re going to capture Amemiya Mei, and Amemiya Hiroshi as well while we’re at it. While I dispose of ‘Echo,’ you lot figure out the identity of that unknown monster and keep it busy!” he ordered his men.
Johnny and his men were carrying out an operation that would normally cause the police and army to rush to their location, but they didn’t care. Things were already in motion.
The police and army were currently immobilized by the provision of false information and sabotage carried out by Rikudou’s collaborators. The organizations that weren’t immobilized had all been seized by Rikudou.
The Bravers were spread out across the world, neutralizing their strength as an organization, and the plan was to crush all the problematic enemies like Amemiya Hiroto one by one.
Hearing his subordinates’ affirmative replies to his orders, Johnny began moving along with the Golems.
But in the next moment, the entrance to the Amemiya residence exploded.
Johnny clicked his tongue as he used one of the Golems as a shield to protect himself from the debris that came flying from the explosion. “Shit, she’s made her own move! That ‘Echo,’ she’s more decisive than I imagined… Huh?”
Dumbfounded, he stared at the creature that had emerged from the destroyed entrance.
It had a white face with four eyes and a mouth that stretched from ear to ear, and four arms covered in a black exoskeleton with claws extending from the hands. Its body was puffed up, as if it were wearing a black fur coat, and six jointed legs that looked like the legs of an insect protruded from beneath it.
“You’re attacking so openly, so I suppose there isn’t any need to hide myself anymore,” it said in a high-pitched voice that didn’t match its appearance with a calm and flat tone.
Johnny and the mercenaries had been informed that there was an ‘unknown being,’ but Banda’s grotesque appearance was completely unexpected; they felt an instinctive fear and disgust towards him. But they were still well-trained soldiers.
Without getting flustered, they pulled their triggers and inputted attack commands into the Golems.
Banda was exposed to a hailstorm of bullets, magical projectiles, grenades, and spells. But to him, it was like being hit by a bit of heavy rain; none of these attacks could even put a scratch the size of a fingernail on him.
Bullets that could put holes in an armored vehicle? Heat that could melt steel? Electrical attacks, blades of wind, and gusts of freezing air? If such weak attacks were capable of causing damage to this split entity of Vandalieu, which had been created from his own soul, the gods of Alda’s forces would have already erased Vandalieu from existence long ago.
“The time for you to stay in hiding has come to an end. All that’s left for you to do is to use your power to its fullest extent, Ulrika,” Banda said.
“Understood!” a voice said.
The mercenaries had a feeling that this voice had come from within Banda’s torso.
The bullets and spells they were firing suddenly turned 180 degrees and returned to where they had come from.
Heavy firearm projectiles exploded, mercenaries screamed, and the Golems shut down one after another.
“Damn it, ‘Echo’ was hiding inside its torso!” Johnny muttered. “But my ‘Balor’ should…!”
Because their thoughts were paralyzed out of fear and repulsion towards Banda, they had forgotten about the existence of ‘Echo’ for several seconds, and they were almost completely wiped out as a result.
But even as Johnny cursed himself for this blunder, he told himself that he would be able to defeat this monster with his own combat prowess and cheat-like ability.
Banda approached him head-on at a terrifying speed, sending the wreckage of the Golems flying like leaves in the wind.
“‘Super Increased Muscular Strength!’ ‘Super Increased All Defenses!’” Johnny shouted, casting spells and activating his magical power suit.
It was impressive that he had reacted in time. Now all he had to do was execute the usual strategy that always resulted in his victory – He would rob Banda of every kind of energy he had, turn that energy into his own Mana, and use that Mana to cast strengthened spells while engaging in close-quarters combat.
But Banda’s claws severed the arm that Johnny had raised to protect himself. It was so fast he couldn’t even feel any pain, and his face froze with a dumbfounded expression on it.
Even so, his mind was desperately trying to activate ‘Balor’ to sap Banda’s kinetic energy and stop him from moving.
But it was impossible.
It’s no use! This thing’s movements are too fast… too strong! My ability can’t absorb all of its energy!
Banda’s physical capabilities overwhelmingly surpassed anything Johnny could have imagined.
“I-I am… a man who destroyed a tank… with my bare hands…” Johnny groaned.
Having had his arm severed and several blows delivered to his body, he was on the verge of death.
Banda brought his mouth close to Johnny’s ear. “For your information, my main body defeated hundred-meter-tall Elder Dragons and Colossi in close-quarters combat,” he whispered.
“Huh? W-what are you…?”
“Consider it a warning to make sure that you don’t make the wrong choice in the place that you’re about to be sent to… though I’ll be having you spit out every bit of information you know before that.”
With that, Banda’s tongue protruded from his mouth like a snake, entered Johnny’s ear, and invaded deep inside.
Johnny made a noise of quiet agony.
“Are you alright? You don’t feel any pain, do you? You don’t need to speak. I’m going to hijack your nerves and extract your memories directly,” Banda said quietly so that Mei and Hiroshi, who were inside his fur layer, wouldn’t hear him. “As payment for this information, I’ll let you keep your soul. You should listen to what the ‘Laplace’s Demon,’ ‘Inspector,’ and ‘Oracle’ have to say.”
And so, Banda absorbed the information inside the brain of the ‘Balor’ Johnny Yamaoka, looking far more sinister than any child’s imaginary friend should.