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If one were to divide humanity into those who were gifted and those who weren’t, on Earth, Rikudou Hijiri would be considered one of the former.
He had excellent grades, played sports, had many friends, and was trusted as the class president. But he wasn’t ‘gifted in a special way.’ He considered himself to be gifted, but only among ordinary people.
When he was young, he tried to be number one at everything – his studies, sports, and even arts and crafts. And he succeeded at becoming number one.
But that was only within his small community… He gradually realized that he was only the number one in his year group at his elementary school.
There were plenty of people who were smarter than him or better than him at baseball or soccer. Even when it came to art, or anything else, there were more talented people.
By the time he entered high school, he had completely accepted this fact. He even believed that life is probably about realizing that you aren’t special and just trying to be a better person among the masses of ordinary people.
Of course, even he knew that there were ways of surpassing the boundaries of what is ‘ordinary.’ One could enter a profession that ordinary people couldn’t.
If one were to become a sports athlete, an artist, a doctor, a police officer, a Self-Defense Force official, or a politician, and reached the top of their respective field, then they were undoubtedly special.
People with such professions might often claim that they were no different from ordinary people. But Rikudou believed that this wasn’t true. After all, what percentage of humanity stood at the top of these fields? How many artists? How many doctors? How many policemen, Self-Defense Force officials (or soldiers), how many politicians? If these people were ordinary, then surely they would make up a high two-digit percentage of the population. If they were ordinary… In other words, if they weren’t unusual at all, then the streets would be filled with famous athletes, globally successful artists, doctors, superintendent generals of the police, chiefs of staff, and people who had been prime ministers.
But Rikudou had no desire to enter such professions. He didn’t believe that he had the necessary resourcefulness, and he hadn’t been blessed with a particularly fortunate background.
Even if he were to aim for such professions, the chances of him achieving his goal were low. He wanted to be special, not a failure and an outcast.
That was why Rikudou had given up and been content with being ordinary, but his life came to an unexpected end when the ferry he had boarded on a school trip sank after being hijacked and blown up.
And then, thanks to Rodcorte, he began a new life in the world of Origin, a world that was similar to Earth but with differences such as the existence of magic and historical disparities due to the lack of a Second World War.
Rikudou was born into this world with cheat-like abilities: ‘Increased Learning Speed’ and ‘Unlimited Development.’
The effects of these two cheat-like abilities could not be objectively observed. However, as Rikudou learned, he stockpiled a vast quantity of knowledge, and his physical capabilities continued to improve as well.
Rikudou Hijiri was delighted by this, knowing that it would allow him to become special in any field. But then, he remembered that there were ninety-nine other reincarnated individuals. He could stand at the top of the people of this world, but wouldn’t it be difficult to stand above the other reincarnated individuals with cheat-like abilities as well?
As he was united with his friends and acquaintances from his previous life, thanks to the ‘destiny’ that Rodcorte had mentioned, these thoughts passed. But when Amemiya said that he would form the Bravers, Rikudou took a proactive role in helping him.
He believed that if the other reincarnated individuals were gathered, and he learned about their abilities, then perhaps he would be able to surpass them with the power of ‘Unlimited Development.’ And if he was in a position to lead the organization, then he would become a special person who commanded a group of superhumans.
The organization was formed and all of the reincarnated individuals were made a part of it, but he realized that the former of these was impossible – Many of the cheat-like abilities given to the reincarnated individuals were flashier, superpower-like powers than he had expected.
These abilities weren’t things that he could imitate by improving his physical capabilities and senses or recreate by diligently studying magic.
There was no lack of effort on his part, but even so, all he earned was a reputation as one of the Bravers’ top-class mages. But every single one of the reincarnated individuals had the qualities needed to become first-rate mages. Amemiya Hiroto was the perfect example of that.
Thus, Rikudou would never stand out to ordinary people, no matter how skilled he became at magic. Even if he were to show an ordinary person his exceptional magical technique, they wouldn’t understand just by watching him. He was just someone with a certain level of skill.
And so, Rikudou began heading in the direction of leading the Bravers. Given that he couldn’t return to Rodcorte to receive another cheat-like ability, he had no other choice. This was the natural course of action to take for him, as he was unaware that he and the other reincarnated individuals would be reincarnated in yet another world after they died in Origin.
His objective was indeed to lead them – not to betray them. He genuinely thought of what the organization could achieve and what results they could produce to increase its influence.
But then, one fateful day, he learned of the existence of death-attribute magic.
A type of magic that could only be used by a single person in the world – the ‘Undead,’ who would later be discovered to be a reincarnated individual. Rikudou was certain that if he became able to use this magic, he would become special.
He carried out research in secret from his companions and realized that his suspicions were right. He realized that if he were to master death-attribute magic, he could not only become a special person – he could even become a god.
After that, Rikudou no longer considered the Bravers to be an organization that he belonged to, but a stepping stone that he would take advantage of in order to become special. Betraying them, he gathered people he could use as pawns and eliminated those who couldn’t be used and those who were obstacles in his path.
This went extremely well. Nobody caught any hint of his schemes, and Amemiya and the others didn’t suspect a thing.
The fact that he successfully crushed and eliminated ‘Inspector,’ ‘Oracle,’ ‘Urðr,’ ‘Gazer,’ and ‘Clairvoyance’ was a big deal. It served as proof that Amemiya was likely just an ordinary human who had been granted special abilities – incomparable to Rikudou, who would become a god.
Everything went so well that Rikudou truly began to believe that. And this was likely his downfall. He never faced any troubles until this final step – the step where godhood was finally within reach.
It wasn’t that he had never even considered that there could be unexpected troubles and events that he hadn’t accounted for. One difficulty had occurred with the use of ‘Metamorph,’ who would later become the experimental subject with the codename ‘Black Maria,’ as his body double.
That was why he had double and triple-checked his plans and ensured that they were flawless before he began executing them.
But what had been awaiting him was a nightmare – an unidentified monstrosity that first appeared at the Amemiya residence, flying all over the world and crushing his plans.
Yes, it was a nightmare. There was no other way to describe these absurd events, and Rikudou’s plans were failing one after another. His plan of having those under his command infiltrate the police and monitor transport methods such as aircraft and ships had all been for nothing.
The monstrosity had joined the Bravers and now, the companions Rikudou had betrayed were attacking him dressed in what could only be described as costumes. When he received the reports, he had been completely astounded and wondered if his mind and eyes were deceiving him.
But Rikudou soon learned that the costumes worn by Amemiya and his companions were power suits made with some super-technology that far surpassed the latest technology that he was aware of. He was being driven further and further into a corner.
The reincarnated individuals, equipped with the products of this super-technology, and the monstrosity. Rikudou knew perfectly well that with both these forces attacking him simultaneously, he had no chance of defeating them.
With that being the case, Rikudou had been left with only one path of action to take – and it wasn’t retreat, surrender, or suicide.
Rikudou believed that there was a high chance that it would successfully work for him. It had succeeded for one other… ‘Metamorph.’ He had even used the data from her experiment to perfect the process even further.
Even if it was successful, he didn’t know whether he could become a perfect death-attribute mage. But he couldn’t give up without even trying.
He pulled the trigger, and as he thought he felt an impact, his consciousness faded… and then he awakened.
This is… It has succeeded!
He opened his eyes, and through the wall of the cultivation capsule, he could see the mass of flesh that had been his own body moments earlier, collapsed on the floor with blood pouring from its head.
At the same time, he sensed that something was missing from whatever made up his being, something that hadn’t been missing before. Still, he felt no sense of loss. In fact, he was feeling an intoxicating sense of accomplishment that sent shivers up his spine.
It was the sensation… no, the certain knowledge that he had been reborn, stripped of unnecessary muscle, fat, and worldly thoughts.
He knew that this was the moment that Rikudou Hijiri had been perfected.
Rikudou released a surge of Mana, breaking the capsule from the inside and achieving his own third birth, then let out a triumphant laugh. “I have finally acquired the power of death – the power to rule this world!”
Rodcorte, who had missed the opportunity to seize Rikudou’s soul, was surely feeling bitter regret now, but… there was no way that Rikudou could possibly know that, as he didn’t even have an inkling of the fact that he would be reincarnated in another world in his next life as well.
The reincarnated individuals and technicians that had been watching Rikudou’s experiment cheered.
“It has succeeded! We’re getting tremendous death-attribute Mana readings from codename ‘Arch-Avalon’… from the new Rikudou-san!”
“Ten million, twenty million… Eighty million! He’s reached eighty million Mana!”
“He hasn’t surpassed the hundred million of the ‘Undead,’ but it’s enough. This is the birth of a new god!”
In the experiment performed on ‘Metamorph,’ they had forced her to acquire the death attribute by simply erasing her affinities for the other attributes rather than killing her and having her go through the process of reincarnation.
However, Rikudou had killed himself and made his soul inhabit the body named ‘Arch-Avalon.’ Through technology, he had achieved reincarnation… He had created a circle of transmigration system.
As a result, he had lost his affinity for the attributes and created an ‘empty frame’ like Vandalieu, which contained a vast quantity of Mana.
This was the same process as when Vandalieu manipulated the souls of the dead with Mana and made them inhabit new bodies, but its perfection as a system was different.
To give an analogy, what Vandalieu did was similar to handicrafts – spinning threads and weaving fabrics by hand. But what Rikudou had done was like a manufacturing process. He had created independently-powered machines to perform tasks, and used those machines to spin threads and weave fabrics to create clothes.
Its scale was miniscule compared to Rodcorte’s system, which governed reincarnation across multiple worlds, and it wasn’t very precise, either. But both systems were the same in nature.
At this moment, Rikudou had certainly surpassed the ‘Undead’ – Vandalieu – when it came to reincarnation, and he had achieved a deed worthy of gods.
“M-Mr. Rikudou, is that you?” said the voice of the president of the Federal States through the monitor.
‘Arch-Avalon’ was a body that had been created with Rikudou’s genome as its base, so its face was identical to his original face. But as the result of the various adjustments that had been made to improve the body’s affinity for death attribute Mana, it was almost three meters tall and completely hairless, as every single hair follicle had been eradicated.
Nobody could be blamed for not immediately understanding that ‘Arch-Avalon’ was the same person as Rikudou.
Rikudou smiled. “Yes, it is me, Mr. President. Before your very eyes, I died and was reborn. Reborn as a true death-attribute mage… No, as a god,” he said in a gentle but arrogant tone.
Several of his collaborators that were on the screen frowned a little at his attitude, but none voiced their displeasure out loud.
One of the standards for a first-rate mage in Origin was that they achieved a number of ten thousand or more when their Mana was measured by a machine. Considering that standard, it wasn’t absurd to call Rikudou a god, as he had eighty million Mana.
“I can feel power surging through my entire body… How are my vital signs?” Rikudou asked one of the researchers.
“Y-yes sir!” the researcher said hastily. “Your body temperature is around twenty degrees, and your heart rate and brain waves are… There’s no reading?! I-It’s hard to believe that you are a living human!”
“Hmm,” said Rikudou, showing no other response to this surprising information.
If one were to look at only his vital signs, they would have assumed that he had suffered brain death and cardiac failure just moments ago. But in the new body he had been reborn in, Rikudou’s senses were perfectly clear and he was distinctly conscious. In fact, he felt even better than he had been before the process.
It was possible that he would be able to fight a tank with his bare hands like ‘Balor’ now – No, it was certain that he was capable of this now. With this sensation of omnipotence filling him, Rikudou stretched out a hand in no direction in particular.
“Flames, take form and leap forth from my hand,” he recited. “‘Fireball.’”
But no sphere of flame came from his hand.
“Hmph. It seems that my affinity for the other attributes has been erased – the same results as the experiments. There are spells that I would have been able to cast as if they were child’s play before, but I don’t feel like I could cast any of them now. However… If I recall, it was ‘Demon Fire.’”
He recited another short incantation, and this time, a blue-white flame ignited in his hand. The researchers and reincarnated individuals who were aware that this was a death-attribute spell made noises of admiration.
“Mr. Rikudou! I will spare you no praise for the success of your experiment! But we do not have the leisure to celebrate this or inspect your new abilities!” shouted the president of the Federal States.
Rikudou looked back at the screen. His collaborators were unaware of the exact situation the main headquarters was currently in, but it seemed that they had sensed how cornered Rikudou was, given that he had carried out such a dangerous gamble.
“Yes, you are right. I apologize for my rudeness – I had simply forgotten,” Rikudou said.
“You look quite calm. Are there no problems?” asked one of his other collaborators.
The panic was visible on the faces of the representatives of the Chinese Republic and Nordic Federation, and audible in their voices. They were able to receive direct reports of their subordinates who were tasked with protecting the headquarters, and they were aware just how much of a predicament they were in.
To them, Rikudou was their last hope.
Rikudou nodded firmly. “There are no problems at all. I will deal with the enemies myself. However, before that –”
In the next moment, he used death-attribute magic in a similar manner to space-attribute magic, teleporting himself, as well as the reincarnated individuals and researchers around him, to the conference room that had been on his screen.
“W-what is this?!” one of the collaborators shouted, alarmed.
“‘Teleportation?!’ That’s impossible!” another exclaimed. “‘Teleportation’ is an advanced spell of the space attribute! And even if the distance was not that far, to teleport such a large number of people at once…!”
“Is this the same death-attribute spell as one of the Eighth Guidance members?!” asked a third.
“You are correct. Of course, this was a much more advanced spell than that failed creation. I ‘Teleported’ to the location of beings who are destined to die one day – in other words, you people,” Rikudou said.
“One day, I said. After all, you are still ordinary humans, and not yet immortal. You did understand that you were destined to die one day, did you not?”
Everyone who understood what Rikudou was saying felt a chill run up their spine. They understood that Rikudou was capable of teleporting right next to any being that was destined to die – in other words, to any member of humanity, even a newly-born baby.
The danger this ability posed couldn’t even be compared to Jack of the Eighth Guidance. Every safety measure in the world was powerless against it.
But Rikudou’s next words erased all traces of these thoughts from their minds.
“Now then, allow me to make you all immortal,” he said.
“W-what?! Do you really mean that?!” one of them exclaimed.
Other than the representatives of the Chinese Republic and Nordic Federation, all of the people gathered here had sold their nations out of their greed for immortality. It was only natural for them to jump out of their seats when they were being offered immortality, the thing that they had been dreaming about.
“Of course. If you become immortal, there will be less targets that we need to protect. It is the right thing to do in this state of emergency,” said Rikudou.
“But is it really so simple to make us immortal? Is there no need for a ritual?” asked the president of a country somewhere in Africa.
In Origin, where both science and magic existed, both surgical procedures and magical rituals were performed for medical reasons. Rikudou’s collaborators had assumed that some large-scale ritual would certainly be needed to make them immortal.
“No, there isn’t,” said Rikudou. “All I need to do is this.”
He released black Mana towards the African president, who shouted out loud in terror as it enveloped him.
The Mana disappeared as if being absorbed by the president, and he screamed in agony, tearing at his chest and then leaning backwards, clutching his right eye.
“What is the meaning of this?!” demanded a general of the same African country, who was also acting as the president’s bodyguard as he immediately drew a pistol and pointed it at Rikudou.
But in the next moment, the president let out a happy shout and stood straight again. “I can see! I can see from my right eye that I had lost vision in… It is not an artificial eye; my real eye has regrown! And I suppose this means I no longer need the pacemaker that was surgically implanted in my chest!”
In his palms were the artificial eye and the pacemaker that had been ejected from his body, and his right eye socket was now occupied by a healthy, regenerated eye.
Seeing this, the other presidents, military officials, directors of global corporations, and important figures of the underworld all rushed towards Rikudou to receive their own immortality.
Rikudou granted all his collaborators the gift of immortality, and they cheered to celebrate the achievement of his ambitions.
“I must remind you that you have not become immortal superhumans,” he said with a smile. “You may feel that your physical capabilities have been improved because your bodies are now perfectly healthy and the limiters of your brains have been removed, but –”
With death-attribute magic, Rikudou had stopped the functioning of their genes that controlled aging and limited natural healing ability and prevented their cells from becoming cancerous. But that was all he had done, and it had not taken much effort to do this.
They had done everything they could to help him achieve his goal, even if they had their own reasons for doing so, so he thought it was only natural to do at least this much for them. Without their cooperation, this day would never have come. It was only right for him to be grateful.
“You are still just humans,” Rikudou continued. “Do not do anything reckless, or – Are you ignoring me, you miserable, low-class organism?”
He knew that it was only right for him to be grateful. It was certainly not right of him to grab and crush the neck of the director of a large newspaper company, who had been praising him.
But by the time Rikudou realized what had happened, he had done exactly that, without anyone being able to stop him, and the man let out a short gasp and then a muffled scream.
“Mr. Rikudou?! W-what the hell are you doing?!” one of Rikudou’s collaborators shouted.
Some of them cowered in fear, while others drew the guns they had brought with them and prepared their magical media.
“Rikudou-san?!” Moriya exclaimed.
But he and Rikudou’s other subordinates, despite being flustered, simply awaited his orders.
With everyone’s gazes fixated on him, Rikudou threw aside the man who had been the director of a large newspaper company, feeling refreshed, as if he had managed to swat a winged insect that had been buzzing around his ears.
“What the hell am I doing, you ask?” he said calmly. “My initial plan was to have you continue to rule your countries, with me standing at the top of the new world. After all, that would be the most efficient way to rule the large population that humanity has. Even if you are former politicians who sold your countries out of a desire for immortality.”
Even if Rikudou called himself a god, much of humanity wouldn’t accept that. The scriptures of their own religions did not state that Rikudou Hijiri was a god. And he hadn’t done anything like the gods described in such scriptures. In fact, he was more like a devil who tempted people with the offer of immortality.
That was why his collaborators would be important even after his plan succeeded. Even if he had successfully acquired death-attribute magic and killed Amemiya and the others, he had always known that he would not emerge victorious if the entire world became his enemy.
“But the situation has changed. Because we failed to eliminate them, Amemiya and the others are advancing upon us wearing power suits that look like costumes, and the unidentified monstrosity has even managed to kill ‘Copy.’ In the Federal States, General Sergei has carried out a successful coup d’état and has become the president. Similar events have taken place in other countries as well.”
“A coup d’état?! That can’t be…!” murmured the president of the Federal States… or rather, the former president, as he collapsed to his knees.
Rikudou offered him his hand, as if to comfort him. “Most importantly, as I am now, you people who have become immortal, look like nothing but unsightly worms to me. You disgust me so much that I feel the urge to crush you.”
He unleashed a mass of Mana from his hand, and the former president’s head was destroyed like a ripe fruit. Even with his natural healing ability no longer being limited, it could not heal damage like this.
“N-no! We have done everything within our power to aid you! Haven’t we?!” shouted the boss of a drug cartel.
“You’re exactly right. That’s why I should actually be feeling really bad about this,” said Rikudou as he released a gust of cold air that turned him into an ice statue. “But even after I went to the effort of making you immortal, when I kill you and take your life energy from you, I feel nothing but deep satisfaction, like I am swatting mosquitoes. Hmm, I wonder why? Perhaps abnormalities have arisen in my mind after I was reincarnated in this body?”
“Take our life energy?! You bastard, this is what you intended from the beginning… Damn you!” shouted another man – perhaps the general or something of some nation somewhere.
He unleashed a blade of flames that flew at Rikudou. Rikudou’s other former collaborators opened fire and cast spells at Rikudou as well.
“Do not misunderstand. Taking your life energy is something I am doing because I might as well. It isn’t the reason I’m killing you,” said Rikudou, producing barriers that blocked all the attacks. “I am simply exterminating you because I can’t help the fact that you are eyesores.”
Rikudou then sent his barriers forth like a shockwave that sent his former collaborators flying. These people had conquered old age, and yet they were now having their lives taken by the very man who had given them that power.
Rikudou’s mind was currently engulfed by the death-attribute Mana that surged up all at once. He was death incarnate in the form of Rikudou Hijiri. Thus, it couldn’t be helped that his collaborators were nothing more than eyesores now that they had distanced themselves from death. He felt an aversion to them in the same way that vampires and devils in stories and legends detested crosses and bibles.
At the same time, Rikudou was drunk on the sense of omnipotence that came with wielding such overwhelming power. In the past, he had distanced himself from the ‘Chiron’ Derrick whose ability was similar to his own, but that all seemed foolish to him now.
“What the hell is this! You’re a devil! You’re no god, you’ve become a devil!” shouted a representative from the European Union.
In the next instant, he let out a dying scream as he was torn to pieces.
What Rikudou’s collaborators didn’t realize was that gods and devils were similar in nature. They called devils that they could understand gods, and they called gods that they didn’t understand devils.
“You bastard, do you think that my country will let you get away with this?!” shouted the Chinese Republic’s representative, wiping the broken and messy fragments of the European Union’s representative from his own face.
He produced a remote control from his chest pocket. The Nordic Federation’s representative had also pulled out a short staff that looked like a fountain pen. These two were not people who had betrayed their countries like the president of the Federal States; they had been dispatched here by countries that had chosen to cooperate with Rikudou. They had acted as mediators between their countries and Rikudou, and they had also supervised Rikudou’s research.
The Chinese Republic and Nordic Federation had secretly been preparing to become leaders in a new world where the immortal ruled over the mortal. But these two large nations had provided the land and defenses for this headquarters; if Rikudou turned out to be useless or betrayed them, they wouldn’t hesitate to resort to emergency measures.
“Glory to our nation!” said the Nordic Federation’s representative.
The Chinese Republic’s representative pressed a button on his remote control. This headquarters, which had been built underground, was supposed to be blown up and collapse five seconds later.
Because both nations had been involved with the facility’s construction, they had included explosives and Magic Items enchanted with explosive spells in the materials used.
The collapse of the headquarters would turn it into a mountain of rubble, burying not only Rikudou and themselves, but also the Bravers and the monstrosity that were currently infiltrating it, as well as all the research records and experimental subjects… or at least, that was what was supposed to happen.
“Did you think that I was unaware of the bombs you planted in the headquarters?” said Rikudou.
He teleported away… and reappeared. Several masses of concrete and metal, surrounded by black Mana, were now floating next to him.
Five seconds passed, and there was no sign of any explosion. This could only mean one thing.
“Could it be that you… You teleported to the bombs that would bring about death, gathered them, and returned here in that short time?!” exclaimed the Chinese Republic’s representative.
“Damn it, my Magic Item isn’t working?!” shouted the Nordic Federation’s representative. “Is this the doing of death-attribute magic as well?!”
Flustered, both of them were trying to use their remote control and short staff again, but it was futile.
Rikudou smiled. “I left them as they were because I never intended to betray you, and I was certain that I would achieve results, but… it would be troublesome if you were to interrupt me while I defeat Amemiya and that monstrosity. So I would like to return these.”
He raised a hand in the representatives’ direction and recited an incantation. Both of them disappeared, as did the bombs that their nations had planted.
“R-Rikudou-san…?” Moriya stammered.
“Not to worry, Moriya. I’ve just sent them back to their home countries. The capital cities of those countries, in fact. I don’t expect we’ll be able to hear the explosions from here,” said Rikudou.
Although developing nations couldn’t afford this, it was common sense that the main cities of large nations had various measures in place to prevent ‘Teleportation’ via space-attribute magic. Rikudou had sent the representatives and their bombs to the capital cities of their home nations despite those measures.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from you, Rikudou-san. Even if you can’t use magic of the other attributes, you are already mastering death-attribute magic!” said Moriya.
“Yes. After all, even though I have lost my affinity for the other attributes, I have not lost my memory. I’m simply applying the techniques I know to death-attribute magic,” said Rikudou.
Each attribute did have its own unique aspects in how their magic was used, but there were also many aspects that they all had in common. ‘Demon Fire’ had no heat but its shape was identical to an ordinary fire, and ‘Teleportation’ was essentially a space-attribute spell.
Thus, Rikudou was able to learn how to use death-attribute magic at a rapid pace by using the techniques and control skills that applied to magic of the other attributes.
His actions in the past few minutes had mainly been to exterminate the eyesores that he had inadvertently created himself, but he had also been practicing and testing himself.
But this slaughter had also granted Rikudou even further power.
“Rikudou-san! The Mana measurer’s readings have gone up! Your Mana has increased past eighty million!” one of Rikudou’s subordinates reported.
“Hmm, it seems that my ‘Unlimited Development’ ability is still in effect,” said Rikudou. “The more I use my magic, the more my Mana increases…! Moriya, and the rest of you – Do you still intend to follow me, despite being aware of this?”
Moriya and the others were taken aback by this sudden question. Rikudou had slaughtered his own collaborators just moments earlier – and not because he had been betrayed; Rikudou was the one who had betrayed them.
This act had increased Rikudou’s power even further. There was no guarantee that he wouldn’t do the same to Moriya and the others.
“Please stop joking, Rikudou-san… No, I mean, God. Our lives are in your hands. Immortality is appealing, but it wasn’t our objective,” said Moriya.
The reincarnated individuals here had betrayed the Bravers and joined Rikudou for various reasons. Some had done it out of dissatisfaction with Amemiya; others had done it for a simple desire for a thrill; and there were even those who desired a new world ruled by Rikudou.
“And even if we wanted to run now, it would be too late. You can’t ask us that question when we have nowhere else left to go,” said Moriya.
The other reincarnated individuals nodded in agreement. The researchers, who simply happened to be present, were hesitant but also in agreement as they knew that they had no other choice.
“Very well,” said Rikudou. “I cannot grant you the power of immortality, but I shall have you fight with me until the very end… but before that, it seems that we have guests.”
Rikudou sensed the presence of death in the sky above this place… the approach of a bomber aircraft, through ‘Danger Sense: Death.’ It seemed that the Nordic Federation and Chinese Republic’s representatives had managed to stay alive long enough to send word to the nearest military bases to bomb this place.
It seemed that they had been thoroughly prepared and not content with just the bombs to collapse the facility.
“Of course, the presence of death I sense from this is smaller than that of Amemiya and that monstrosity, but… fine,” said Rikudou. “As you wish, I shall turn this world into a world of death. A world of death, ruled by me!”
With that, he unleashed a shockwave of death-attribute Mana that passed through the building’s walls, attacking all life other than those he designated as exceptions.
“W-what is this?!” shouted Amemiya in alarm.
The wave of black Mana that washed over him and the others surprised them, but they withstood it with ease. They didn’t even feel much of an impact, let alone suffer any damage.
However, the beasts that they had been fighting were collapsing, one after another.
“I know what it is,” said Yukijoro. “It is death-attribute Magic. But it does not belong to God or the Saintess.”
“How repulsive. It simply sucks life without any attempt of granting its victims peace!” Bokor said in disgust.
This informed Amemiya and the others that it was in fact an offensive spell of the death attribute.
“Is this Rikudou’s doing?! Shit, we didn’t make it in time!” cursed Iwao.
“But why are we unharmed? We didn’t even cast any defensive spells… Could it be because of these suits?” said Amemiya, lifting the corner of his cape.
Indeed, it was the transformation equipment that had protected them. Ordinary power suits in this world were not made to withstand death-attribute Mana, but the one who had made this transformation equipment was the original death-attribute mage himself.
Naturally, it was created to be protective against death-attribute magic itself… In fact, it would be impossible for him to make transformation equipment that would be ineffective against only death-attribute magic, as he didn’t know any method of doing so.
“Then Mei and Hiroshi will be fine, too. Press forward! There’s no time to lose!” said Amemiya.
A bomber aircraft from the Chinese Federation had been scrambled after receiving word of an emergency, and its pilot had both anger and tension in his expression as he flew towards his destination.
He felt anger because he had learned that the capital city of his nation had been attacked, destroying its highest executive committee.
The pilot wasn’t in a position to know what his country was doing behind the scenes, but given the timing of his dispatch, he couldn’t imagine that the target he would be bombarding was unrelated.
“What is this?!” he shouted as he saw something resembling a black dome expanding rapidly from below.
It grew larger and larger before his very eyes, and even reached his aircraft, despite it being thousands of meters above the ground.
“Headquarters, I have received some form of attack, and…” he began to report, but in the next moment, he screamed.
The black dome – Rikudou’s death-attribute shockwave – washed over the pilot, taking his life within seconds and desiccating him like a mummy.
With its pilot lost, the bomber aircraft crashed into the ground along with the nearby birds that had also died mid-flight.
“These guys are saying that we’re in danger,” Mei said suddenly, seconds before the wave of death was released.
Hiroshi and the others had no idea what she was talking about, but Banda sprang into action immediately.
“Everyone except for Hiroshi, come over here! Ulrika, try activating ‘Echo,’” he said.
“What?!” Hiroshi shouted in surprise.
Ignoring him, Banda reached out with his tentacles and spread his membranous wings to protect the experimental subjects who weren’t equipped with transformation equipment.
“It’s all slimy and gross!”
“God! Ah, God! I am finally being sacrificed for you!”
“I offer you everything I have, everything!”
The emotions in the screams of those who had met Banda and Mei in their dreams and those who hadn’t were complete opposites.
“Everyone, don’t worry! Banda is just trying to protect you all! You’re not going to be sacrificed, and you don’t have to offer anything!” said Mari, trying to calm them.
But only those who had been guided by Vandalieu like her were listening. However, with half of them listening, the other half also calmed down to some degree.
“I didn’t sense anything being reflected. Is this death-attribute magic?! If it is, then who cast it?” asked Ulrika, who wasn’t connected to the others through ‘Angel’ because of her mental instability and tendency to have panic attacks, which would negatively affect everyone else.
“Amemiya and the others say it’s probably Rikudou,” said Mari. “I told them that we’re fine, and they said they’re going to hurry and press forward.”
“Uncle Rikudou?! I knew he was a bad guy, but he’s like, really a bad guy!” said Hiroshi.
“… So did you know, or did you not?” asked Gabriel.
“I mean, you know! I didn’t really get it until we came to this place!”
Banda and the others had told Hiroshi that Rikudou and Moriya were bad people, but Banda had ensured that he didn’t see any gruesome things that he shouldn’t, so he didn’t really have a concrete sense of it.
But after seeing the captive experimental subjects and the Undead that Banda had deemed to not be gruesome, he had finally realized how things were. And immediately after that, the death-attribute wave had come.
It seemed that Hiroshi’s understanding of the situation had finally caught up to reality.
“I see,” said Mari.
Neither Gabriel nor Mari made fun of Hiroshi for being a child. Gabriel knew that he was still underage, and it was only through his own experiences that they knew Rikudou was the mastermind from the very beginning; he hadn’t figured it out on his own.
TLN: I’m using he/him pronouns for Gabriel from here on to avoid potential confusion with they/their (as these are normally plural pronouns), and also because the author himself used a he pronoun here for Gabriel (though that may be because there is no gender-neutral singular pronoun in Japanese).
As for Mari, she hadn’t suspected him of a thing until she was forced to become his body double.
“I’ll never forgive him!” Hiroshi declared.
“I understand how you feel, but please don’t shout while you’re in that form. I’m fine with it, but you’re scaring the little children,” said Mari.
Due to the transformation equipment that Banda had handed him, Hiroshi was currently a muscular, three-meter-tall monster with multiple enormous eyeballs on his head, shoulders, and back.
“Ah! But why did you make me look so scary? You made Dad and the others look so cool!” said Hiroshi.
“No, the one I gave your dad is a piece of hastily-made equipment and about a third of the reason for its appearance is because I wanted to harass him,” said Banda.
He had written ‘Bravers’ on Amemiya Hiroto’s transformation equipment because he wanted to declare that even if it was the traitors of the Bravers that had caused this incident, it was the Bravers themselves that would do their utmost to resolve it. But it was also his way of harassing Amemiya Hiroto for revealing the fact that the true identity of the ‘Undead’ was Amamiya Hiroto.
“And besides, the one I gave you is an excellent item that is specialized for defense, and its performance as a magical medium is several times that of regular transformation equipment. It needed several hundred times the amount of metal, too.”
Of course, because Hiroshi’s transformation equipment used a large quantity of a magical metal imbued with the death attribute, it had the weakness of not allowing the wearer to use any magic other than death-attribute magic or no-attribute magic. And as for its defensive capabilities, it wasn’t to the point where it would be useful for Vandalieu to wear, as he made frequent use of the fragments of the Demon King.
It was a cartoon-character-like-costume-type transformation equipment that Vandalieu had made for the sole purpose of protecting Hiroshi.
“You look cool, you know?” said Mei.
“Hmm, I know you think so, Mei, but… Wah! There’s another one coming!” said Hiroshi.
Rikudou had released another shockwave of death-attribute magic. This time, he seemed to have expanded his shockwave like a barrier, creating a space that would sap the life from anyone who entered it.
“Rikudou has more Mana than I thought. Does this mean that he has learned and improved faster than I expected? At this rate, it might affect not just this facility but nearby cities as well… No, it might even reach beyond the ocean,” said Banda.
But he felt no sense of danger. No matter how many hundreds of millions of people died as a result of Rikudou’s magic, they were nothing but strangers to him.
I’m sure the God of Origin is wary of Rikudou. If his Mana keeps increasing, in a matter of days, this continent and the ocean around it might turn into a world of death where not even a single bacterium could live, Banda thought.
He had no obligation to protect the lives of this world’s people. He didn’t pay taxes, wasn’t protected by any laws, and had no standing in society. He had no rights, so he had no responsibilities, either.
All of that, and the aftermath that came with it, could be left to Amemiya and the others.
“Banda?” said Mei.
“But, well, I’m sure there are people whose faces I know because I’ve seen them on television and at the park… and there are fans of Pluto and the others as well. It can’t be helped,” said Banda, changing his mind.
“I suppose I’ll make an effort,” said a voice that echoed from no direction in particular. In the next moment, a fissure appeared in empty space, and something that was difficult to describe poured from the other side.
Countless tentacles, limbs bent in every which way, eye sockets crammed full with countless eyeballs, skin that was covered in scales and fur, horns and bones that protruded from its surface like dead trees.
This thing formed a dome that expanded around Rikudou’s main headquarters, suppressing his death attribute magic.