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Kuro no Maou 338

by Hishi Kage Dairi


Yoshi (Translator), Tamamo (Editor)

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Hitsugi does her best


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「Anchor Hands!」

I store my hatchet away and use my now-free hands to concentrate on using the『Anchor Hands.』

Now that I think about it, I’ve never poured so much of my power into just making tentacles. Even I’m surprised by the sheer number of tentacles extending forth from my arms.

I aim at the cannon that is the Greed-Gore’s head. The countless tentacles entwine themselves around the object that looks like it’s made out of solid rock.

They wrap around the Greed-Gore’s head and neck firmly, like the reins of a horse. My plan is to pull on these with all of my strength to throw off its aim.

No matter what attack I use, I can’t prevent it from firing, and no matter what defensive magic is used, it can’t block that Breath. With that being the case, the only option left is to make the attack miss.

「Give me power –『Force Boost.』」

Right now, I have the Boost that I had Nell cast on me as we charged towards the fortress. Combined with my own『Force Boost』, it’s effectively a double-effect strengthening, but I wonder whether it’s enough to move the Greed-Gore’s enormous body.

Even so, I have no choice but to do this.

「Pull, Hitsugi!」

「FOOOH!」

I wonder if Hitsugi is serious about this; a strangely silly-sounding, yet cute war cry reverberates inside my head. At the same time, an image of a small, elementary-schooler-sized maid with her teeth clenched appears in my head – Hitsugi’s original appearance.

I find this extremely intriguing, but right now, I have no choice but to focus on combining my strength with hers.

I pull on the tentacle-reins with brute, physical strength while Hitsugi retracts the tentacles, like pulling in a rope using a winch, adding even more force.

My reconstructed body, the double-cast strengthening effects and the assistance from my cursed item – with these, I would be able to pull a semi-trailer without a problem.

However, the Greed-Gore is simply too heavy. It really feels like I’m trying to move a mountain.

Even so, I can’t give up. This is the only thing I’m able to do right now, isn’t it?!

「Guh, ugh, UOOOOOOOOH!」

Finally, I feel some movement.

However, at the same time, an ominous sound reaches my ears.

「Fueh~ Goshujin-sama~」

As Hitsugi lets out a voice that sounds like a complaint, I want to do the same. My worst fear is coming true.

Unable to bear the force with which they are being pulled, the『Anchor Hands』have begun to tear.

They should be as strong as steel cables, but even so, they’re not strong enough to bring down this ridiculously heavy monster.

It’s not Hitsugi’s fault; it’s because I’m inexperienced at using the『Anchor Hands.』

Even so, I don’t have the time to be regretting that fact now.

I have to think of some kind of plan, any kind of plan, otherwise that Breath is going to hit Iskia Fortress, where Nell and everyone else is.

Damn it, what do I have to do to make the『Anchor Hands』stronger? Putting more mana into them isn’t the answer.

I need something even harder than steel – wait, I have it! I have the best material right here!

Yes, the Greed-Gore’s iron sand armor that I blew off with my『Yaminagi』is scattered around my feet. This place has turned into a sandbox; there’s plenty of material here.

With the second Breath incoming, the Greed-Gore didn’t have time to return this iron sand to its body. Since this high-quality iron sand is no longer under the Greed-Gore’s control, I’ll gratefully accept this gift and make use of it.

「Blackening!」

I tread firmly in the iron sand and use my feet to invoke Blackening. Since the iron sand is black in the first place, it’s difficult to see the Enchantment taking place, but I can feel the sensation of my magic taking effect.

All of the iron sand spread around my feet is now under my control.

I use the stolen, Blackened iron sand to cover the surface of the tentacles. Like a swarm of countless ants, the iron sand streams over the tentacles in the blink of an eye.

For now, I’ve attached the iron sand to the tentacles, but whether this works as an Enchantment depends on Hitsugi.

Please absorb it. No, this isn’t a request, but a『command』from your goshujin-sama.

「Do something with this! HITSUGIIIIIIIIIII!」

「Yes! GOSHUJIN-SAMAAAAAAA!」

Hitsugi answers my command. I can clearly hear her response. The『Black Hair Curse「Coffin」』begins to absorb the iron sand.

This isn’t a temporary strengthening caused by an Enchantment. It’s absorbing this new material and integrating the iron sand completely.

The『Anchor Hands』that are already deployed change their composition to include this iron sand. They become stronger, harder. They are cursed tentacles that will never let go of their target.

The wire-like tentacles made of black hair have transformed – no, evolved into a new shape.

「Well done, Hitsugi, now you are –」

They have become chains. Pitch-black chains, made of steel links strengthened by black magic, with the iron sand as their base.

「– the『Black Chain Curse「Iron Cage!」』」

Indeed, the tentacles as strong as steel have now become chain reins that are strong enough to move the Greed-Gore’s body. They won’t break like before.

「UOOOOOOOOOOH!」

「YAAAAAAAAAH!」

I use the last of my strength and the evolved Hitsugi lends me her assistance as well, pulling in the tentacles with even more force.

Finally, the fixed cannon made of black steel begins to lurch sideways – and immediately afterwards, it fires.

The second shining, purple Plasma Breath only brushes against Iskia Fortress slightly.

As a result of the Greed-Gore’s aim being forcibly altered, this second beam misses by even more than the first one and buries itself into the earth of the Iskia Hills.

The sound and tremors make me think that the hills themselves are collapsing. Along with the thunderous ringing, I can see the Breath causing the dirt to erupt into the air and dance in the sky.

The particles and dust expand, threatening to swallow the whole of Iskia Fortress.

The rising pillar of smoke spreads out to form a thick layer in the sky, even blocking out this heavy rain.

I once again realize just how powerful the Breath is; it’s a terrifying wave of pure destruction.

Even so, I stopped it. What do you think of that? Nobody died; everyone survived the second Breath.

Now that I’ve stopped it twice, even the Greed-Gore can’t ignore me. It swings its head around violently, as if to shake itself free of the chains wrapped around it.

I would be easily sent flying by the force of the Greed-Gore pulling on the end of the chains. I quickly return the chains to my hands, undoing the Greed-Gore’s bindings.

「You finally turned around, huh. That’s right, your opponent is me!」

The ominous, shining purple gaze pierces me. Honestly, being glared at by this enormous Rank 5 monster sends a chill down my spine; there’s no life in its eyes at all.

But now I’ve finally figured a way to deal with this guy.

In my two hands I’m holding the『Absolute Malice Hatchet「Neck Cutter」』and『Hungering Wolf Sword「Evil Eater.」』As well as the key tool I need to win this battle, the evolved『Black Chain Curse「Iron Cage.」』

「Let’s go!」

「Here we go! Nata-senpai! Wan-chan!」

I have a feeling that Histugi is using some outrageous nicknames, but I don’t pay it any attention for now.

TLN: In Japanese, 鉈/nata is hatchet and ワンちゃん/Wan-chan is a common “cute” way to refer to puppies – these nicknames are referring to the two weapons that Kurono is using, Nata-senpai for the hatchet and Wan-chan for the Hungering Wolf Sword.

 

「Double Kuronagi.」

First, I attack the tree-like leg before my eyes.

Evil Eater deals the initial blow.

The Greed-Gore’s iron sand armor is being manipulated by the magnetic control of its lightning-element ability and the direct control of its earth-element ability – in other words, it’s maintained by both of those abilities.

It’s a powerful Characteristic Ability, but magic is still magic. If it’s mana, whether it’s in the form of a magnetic field or direct control like telekinesis, Evil Eater will devour it.

The fang-blade is repelled by the Reactive Armor, but the Evil Eater’s ability cuts out a large amount of the iron sand.

In the next moment, my second attack explodes – the cursed hatchet that surpasses the Evil Eater in sheer offensive power.

The damage dealt by the double Kuronagi is zero. However, I’ve succeeded in blowing away a portion of the iron sand covering one leg.

If I leave it now, the Greed-Gore will manipulate the iron sand again and its armor will be back to normal before I know it. But I already have a way to prevent that from happening.

「Blackening.」

That’s right, I just have to steal all of this iron sand.

Since I’m holding weapons in both my hands, I leave Hitsugi to take up the fallen iron sand with her tentacles. Now that I think about it, this is the first time I’m using Blackening through the tentacles, but this should be easy enough for the evolved Hitsugi.

The dozens of tentacles are coming not from the gloves, but from my shadow. It’s as if they’re coming from the inside of my『Shadow Gate.』

I’m sure I look creepy with tentacles coming from my feet, but I don’t care about something like that. Do as you want, Hitsugi.

「Foooh~ Gather up!」

Tentacles rise up and extend in every direction from my shadow, touching and absorbing the iron sand that’s still in the air as well as the stuff that’s fallen onto the ground.

As if answering Hitsugi’s call, the scattered iron sand immediately collects itself together to be absorbed by the tentacles.

Alright, the Blackening is quicker than I’d expected, and works in a wide area. This will work; with this method, it’s not impossible to chip off all of this guy’s armor.

I suppose I’ll pick up the pace.

「Bullet Arts – Grenade Burst.」

As I summon the『Wrath-Pun’s Right Arm』and control it to make it float in the air, I fire.

Even though I invented the『Grenade Burst』recently, since I used it plenty before arriving here, I’ve become accustomed to using it. Nothing beats real battle experience.

The magical high-explosive projectiles strike the Greed-Gore’s side, high above my head where my blade can’t reach.

Monsters with a shell or carapace generally have thinner protection on their bellies than on their backs, but the Greed-Gore has its own belly well-covered with its versatile iron sand.

Black flames erupt from the iron wall that is the Greed-Gore’s abdomen.

Even though the Greed-Gore’s body is dozens of meters above me, I’m still within the blast radius. However, the majority of the heat is blocked by the『Nanablast Amulet』that I received from Fiona, so I have no hesitation in firing grenades even at short ranges as long as there aren’t any allies nearby.

The explosion blows away a considerable amount of the iron sand armor. At the same time, the Greed-Gore’s body tilts to one side significantly.

Were my attacks that powerful? No, that’s not possible. This guy normally wouldn’t even blink at this kind of explosion.

That means that it moved of its own accord. To be more specific, it is lashing out with its tail in an attempt to crush me.

「UOH?!」

It’s like a tower has just collapsed. In fact, the destructive power of the Greed-Gore’s tail is equivalent or even greater than such an event.

I managed to avoid it by the width of a hair with a back-step, but the earth before my eyes rises up to form a wall.

If I get caught up in this, even though I’m wearing the demon’s coat and blackened armor on my arms and legs, I’ll be turned into a pancake by one hit. Each and every movement of a monster this size is a lethal attack.

「Sword Arts – Nameless Nine.」

As I land on the ground, I summon the cursed weapons. I’m sure these guys can shave off more of the iron sand armor with their cutting and stabbing attacks.

Including the『Wrath-Pun’s Right Arm』, I’m controlling every weapon I have at my disposal, a total of ten weapons. At the same time, Hitsugi’s tentacles are still twisting around, collecting the iron sand. My brain is on the verge of overheating from managing all of the magical formulas.

Even though I’ve received the『Concentration Boost』from Nell, this is my limit.

Dual-wielding the cursed hatchet and the Evil Eater, Blackening, managing the tentacles, magic bullets and magic weapons – If it weren’t for the semi-independent nature of Hitsugi and the Nameless weapons, I wouldn’t be able to use all of these simultaneously. I’m thankful for the will of the curses.

「Pierce it!」

「Go, newcomers!」

Hitsugi’s shouting in a senpai-like tone is loud, but the Nameless weapons are following their own cursed, bloodthirsty instincts and dashing through the air.

And as if directly opposing me now, the Greed-Gore’s enormous jaws are closing in on me.

Only a moment has passed since the curtain of dirt kicked up by its tail disappeared. It has transitioned from a tail swing into a biting attack with incredible speed. It attacks far faster than I would expect of a monster of this size.

The nine blades are scratching at the Greed-Gore’s face, but that kind of attack won’t stop it. I have no choice but to dodge this attack after all.

As the jaws large enough to devour both me and the ground I’m standing on whole close in with a fearsome biting attack, I dodge sideways – no, I have to jump straight up.

My legs want to retreat, but I harden my resolve, take a firm step forward and leap into the air. With my reconstructed, strengthened body and the effects of the Boost, a large leap impossible for a normal human is possible for me, but even so, the Greed-Gore’s bared fangs pass below just a few dozen centimeters beneath my toes – it’s a close call.

「Hitsugi!」

「Yes, Goshujin-sama!」

Hitsugi immediately understands what I intend to do and extends tentacles towards the Greed-Gore’s body. The tentacles for Blackening and absorbing the iron sand are wire-like in shape, but these are the strong chain-shaped ones.

I’ve managed to leap into the air without having my legs torn off, and now I’m high enough to be able to look down on the Greed-Gore’s back. One of Hitsugi’s chains has wrapped itself around one of the rugged projections on the back of the Greed-Gore’s body.

She pulls the chain in, causing my body to accelerate downwards rapidly, beyond the speed of free fall. A moment later, I’m standing on this huge monster’s back.

It’s like a pathway on top of a castle’s wall. The width of the surface I’m standing on and the height from the ground make it difficult for me to believe that I’m standing on a living creature. I might feel the same thing if I were standing on a blue whale – no, I don’t have time to be thinking such carefree thoughts.

Standing on this black, mountain-road-like back, I quickly grab onto it with both hands.

「Blackening!」

Now I forget about everything else and concentrate all of my focus and mana into Blackening – Shit, as I thought, since I’m trying to use Blackening directly, it’s being resisted!

Covering it in black mana works well, but right afterwards, purple lightning repels it and blows it away.

It seems that I can’t steal iron sand that’s still attached to its body.

「We’re going to be shaken off, Goshujin-sama!」

I know, Hitsugi. This guy isn’t going to let me ride on its back gently forever.

As if doing a sideways tackle on an invisible enemy, the Greed-Gore shakes its body violently. For me, standing on its back, it’s like experiencing a huge earthquake from the roof of a three-story building.

Unable to withstand this, I’m thrown off the Greed-Gore’s back.

Even as I spin through the air two or three times, I call the Nameless Nine back towards me and then order them to attack once more. As long as you shave off that iron sand, attack wherever you want, guys.

I give that command and land on the ground. I’ve been sent flying really far, so I end up rolling across the grassy meadows of the hills to minimize the damage.『Diablo’s Embrace』can handle this level of impact.

「I have no choice but to steadily shave off the rest of the iron sand, huh...」

The Greed-Gore and I face each other once more. Its body is still pitch-black; there are no visible gaps in its iron sand protection.

I think its armor has grown thinner, but if I don’t get rid of it all, my attacks won’t get through.

My opponent can kill me in a single blow, while I have to land hundreds and thousands of attacks just to get rid of one layer of its defense. A single mistake will be fatal; I’m constantly walking a dangerous tightrope.

I wonder how long it’ll take for me to erase all of that iron sand armor. Will my ability to concentrate hold out for that long? And even if I manage to do it, I don’t know if I’ll be able to land an attack to finish it off afterwards... Even so, having that small chance at victory is better than nothing.

There’s no simple way to tear off all of that iron sand in one go –

「... What?」

As if it has read my naïve thoughts, the Greed-Gore suddenly undoes its iron sand armor.

Starting from its snout, then the rest of its head, the back of its neck – the iron sand is released progressively downwards, finally stopping at its waist. The carapace of the upper half of its body is reddish-brown, while the lower half is still covered in black. I wonder what the Greed-Gore is planning to do, changing into this strange two-color combination.

Well, there’s no need to wonder – of course, it’s planning to attack.

「It’s different from the Breath from before?!」

The iron sand that’s fallen off gathers into a single mass at the Greed-Gore’s mouth, from which purple lightning is surging out.

A moment later, as the ferocious mouth lined with sharp fangs opens, the mass of iron sand changes shape. It has turned into a sword. It’s an orthodox double-edged sword, the kind you would see at any weapon store in Spada. It’s pitch-black as if I’d used my Blackening on it, from the point down to the hilt, and it can be described as monster-sized.

And from this distance of several dozen meters, I can tell that its blade is filled with the fearsome power of a lightning strike.

This isn’t a Breath; it’s firing a black sword of lightning – this is the Greed-Gore’s Sword Art.

「STOP IT WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE! HITSUGIIIIIIIIIIII!」

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