Icicles extended with explosive force from the cracks in the Dragon Golem’s torso.
Vandalieu and Eleanora were far away, but Vigaro and the others had been caught up in it with no chance to react.
Bone Wolf and Bone Bird let out screams as the icicles pierced them while bones and pieces of armor flew and rolled across the ground all the way over to Vandalieu.
Vandalieu’s eyes met with those of a skull that had landed nearby.
“Bone Man… What about your other parts?” he asked.
“Jyuuh! My lower half is on the other side and my left arm has been swallowed by the ice. The rest is all around this area!” replied Bone Man, his lower jaw and teeth clattering energetically. It seemed that he had split himself into pieces to escape the icicles.
“A-as expected of an Undead,” said Zadiris.
“I’ve started to lose confidence in my own immortality,” said Eleanora.
The two of them smiled bitterly with relief and looked up to see Rita and Saria, who were combining their armor pieces to make up a single suit of armor now that they lacked the parts to make two. Vigaro was unharmed and Borkus was getting onto his feet, despite having now properly lost half of his head rather than just his face. It seemed that there was surprisingly little damage done.
“Those icicles… That cursed ice moved with the Dragon Golem’s fragments that cover it like armor,” said Vandalieu. “The surface of the ice has Orichalcum fragments in it, so it nullified my Energy Absorption and Zadiris’s Arrow Evasion.”
On top of that, the cursed ice was a special substance that only Orichalcum and Vandalieu’s death-attribute magic could break down.
Bone Man and some of the other Undead had managed to avoid the icicles by splitting themselves into pieces, but Bone Monkey and Bone Bear had instinctively tried to stop the ice to no avail.
Bone Bird, who was missing a leg, gave a sorrowful cry.
Vandalieu saw the crimson color of Bone Monkey’s femur fade away, returning to its original white color.
“My lord…!” Bone Man began.
“I know.” Vandalieu used Spirit Form Transformation on his right hand, connected it to the spirits of Bone Monkey, Bone Bear and Bone Wolf and poured his Mana into them to preserve their damaged spirits. Their spirits had been gravely wounded by the Orichalcum, and though it was possible to heal them, it would be difficult to have them return to fighting shape right away.
“Is everyone alright?!” shouted Vigaro.
“Tch! My good looks have been ruined!” Borkus lamented.
They were both still holding their weapons, which were crude and barely weapon-shaped at all. But they were still weapons made of Orichalcum.
They had managed to block the Orichalcum-covered icicles with these to protect themselves.
“Here you are, Rita-jouchan,” said Borkus.
“Thank you,” replied Rita.
While Vigaro was unharmed, the skull-like right half of Borkus’s face had been broken… because he had immediately grabbed the bra portion of Rita’s bikini armor.
“I was thinking about how embarrassing it would be to fight in front of everyone with my chest exposed,” she continued.
“Chest, you say… there’s nothing there,” said Borkus, seemingly disappointed at the fact that Rita was still just a spirit other than her armor, but it seemed that she had no intention of being upset by his remark.
“Once my Spirit Form skill levels up like Father’s, you will be able to see it,” she told him. “Bocchan, what will we do now?”
“Let’s see… Is there anyone who can explain this situation?” Vandalieu asked.
“I can speculate,” said Eleanora, pointing a finger towards the combined mass of the ice and the remains of the Golem. It had begun writhing and creaking after icicles had exploded outwards.
She was pointing at the magic spear that was still embedded in the Dragon Golem’s chest.
“That magic spear, Ice Age, has probably gone wild. The Dragon Golem has been stopping its functions up until now, but I’m sure it took Mana from the Dragon Golem’s core to release that explosion of ice. I couldn’t have imagined that it would be capable of doing something like this, nor that its self-protection mechanism would still be functioning.”
In other words, it seemed that it was all Mikhail’s fault.
“Then do you know what’s going to happen to it now?” asked Vandalieu.
“I don’t know what has caused the magic spear to go wild or how exactly it is receiving power from the Golem’s core, but if it’s just on a rampage with no purpose it will keep thrashing around indiscriminately until it runs out of Mana.”
“Indiscriminately,” Vandalieu repeated. “I see.”
Into the walls or the floor, or perhaps towards the resurrection device beyond the door.
The headless Dragon Golem whose legs had sprouted Orichalcum-tipped icicles like the legs of an octopus or a squid… Or rather, the magic spear, Ice Age, was doing something far more terrible than Eleanora’s prediction.
It was moving directly behind it, towards the resurrection device.
“We must stop that rotten spear,” said Vandalieu.
There was now no other choice. There would be no point in reorganizing another party to come back; the resurrection device would already be destroyed by then.
“Yeah! Leave it to me!” shouted Borkus.
He and Vigaro began running, crude Orichalcum weapons in hand. Since the ice was cursed ice, only they and Vandalieu could deal a decisive blow to Ice Age.
Their attacks landed in an interesting way. The legs made of ice made no attempt to avoid the attacks; they were broken and pieces of ice scattered across the floor.
However, no matter how much they broke, the amount of ice wasn’t decreasing.
“Nuuuuh! There’s no end to this!” said Vigaro.
“It’s the Mana! As long as that Golem’s core still contains Mana, that spear will keep making more ice!” said Borkus.
As Ice Age’s ice was not a part of its body like a Golem, no matter how much of it broke, there was no damage to Ice Age itself. Since it was using the ice as limbs, breaking it would slow down its movement, but that would be nothing more than stalling for time.
Vandalieu was trying to stop it as well by turning the floor into a Golem, but the ice crushed it easily and continued onwards, slowly but surely.
“Then I’ll smash the spear itself! Instant Response!” Borkus moved with a speed that was difficult to imagine possible for his enormous body, running up the ice and closing the distance to Ice Age itself.
However, before he could get close enough for his weapon to reach it, countless icicles appeared and were launched towards him.
“Shit! The ice near the spear is damn fast!”
Faced with this machine-gun fire of icicles, even Borkus had no choice but to stop and fall back.
But as the icicles were being fired straight after being created, there were no Orichalcum fragments included in the attack. Even if they hit Borkus, they wouldn’t really cause any serious damage as he was a Zombie.
However, it seemed that the icicles stayed under Ice Age’s control after being fired; he could see that they writhed unpleasantly after being repelled by his sword.
If they hit him and pinned him down, he would be immobilized until Vandalieu melted them for him.
“Damn it! I couldn’t defeat the weapon’s owner and now I can’t even win against the weapon itself?!” Borkus bellowed. He wasn’t giving up; he began looking for another opportunity.
“Vandalieu, we need more help!” Vigaro was still breaking the legs made of ice away from the spear to buy more time.
Both of them were probably aiming to make it run out of Mana.
However, the ice being generated by Ice Age showed no signs of weakening.
“I can’t bear to watch this any longer,” said Eleanora, picking up an Orichalcum fragment and flying into battle.
“Rita, we’re going too!” said Saria. The two of them picked up one of the Orichalcum fragments that were shaped more appropriately and followed Eleanora’s lead.
And then they began attacking Ice Age’s legs with that Orichalcum fragment. Its shape wasn't very good for using as as a weapon, but fortunately the two of them possessed considerable physical strength. Smashing the Orichalcum into the ice with all of their strength was enough to break it.
Eleanora used her large Orichalcum fragment as a shield as she moved to join Borkus. She blocked the icicle projectiles as she looked for the smallest chance.
Even the one-legged Bone Bird was screeching as it fired its spirit form feathers. It knew that it couldn’t break the ice, but it wanted to buy as much time as possible.
Everyone was fighting with everything they had so that Vandalieu could acquire the resurrection device. But it seemed that Vandalieu could do nothing more.
He was already managing six spells simultaneously.
He had stopped turning the floor near Ice Age’s legs into Golems as it was completely ineffective, but he was maintaining the shape of two Orichalcum weapons, and the spirit form transformation on his right hand to protect each of the fallen Undead’s spirits made four more – six in total.
Even with the Multi-Cast spell, he was past his limits. His Surpass Limits skill was already active, as was his Rapid Healing skill. Zadiris was murmuring the incantations for light-attribute healing spells, but even so, it felt like his brain was boiling.
No matter how big a lake is, there is only so much water that a bucket can draw from it at a time. In same way, no matter how large Vandalieu’s Mana pool was, there was a limit to how many spells he could cast at a time.
What should I do?
What was happening now wasn’t a fight to the death. If Vandalieu left it like this, nobody would die. Only the resurrection device will be destroyed.
That spear was clearly moving with some kind of intent. It would have been unnatural for it to head in a straight path towards the place where the resurrection device was likely to be if it was simply on a rampage.
It was the spear once wielded by Mikhail, the Divine Spear of Ice, the spear forged for heroes by the god of ice who served Peria, the goddess of water and knowledge. It was unmistakably a legendary-class, or maybe even mythical-class Artifact.
In that case, it wasn’t strange to think that it had a mind of its own. And that mind considered Mikhail… the justice of the champion Bellwood and the justice of the God of Law and Fate, Alda, as true justice.
The champion who didn’t accept things from other worlds, denying and destroying existing prosperity for the sake of this world’s own culture and civilization despite not knowing how long those would take to develop.
The god who doesn’t acknowledge the lives of those who don’t obey his laws, who still passes on discriminatory teachings against the races created by Vida even after a hundred thousand years have passed.
The hero who dealt the fatal blow to the nation of Titans in their name.
The crazed magic spear of that hero was trying to destroy the resurrection device that Vandalieu desired.
There was some truth to their beliefs. It couldn’t be said that they were completely wrong.
So then, was Vandalieu the one who was wrong? Was his desire to resurrect his dead mother an absolute evil?
That wasn’t right, was it? Treating the wounded, curing the sick – extending the lives of creatures who will eventually die one day is always a good thing, so why should only the resurrection of someone who is dead be considered evil?
I won’t acknowledge their beliefs. So I have no choice but to win. How can I do that? I have Mana. I have Mana, but I can’t win like this. I don’t have enough brains, I have too few brain cells. What should I do?
“Boy, you are at your limit!” Zadiris’s voice was full of sorrow. Vandalieu was at his limit; he couldn’t do any more. Could he only watch as the battle was lost, as the hope he had gained was taken away from him?
There was one way. If he gave up on the spirits of Bone Monkey and the other wounded Undead, there would be less burden on his brain.
But he couldn’t do that. The resurrection device was his hope to gain something; what use would it be if he lost something to get his hands on it? At first, Bone Monkey and the others had been nothing but tools to him. But now they were his important servants that he had raised up to this point. He could replace their bones no matter how many times they were broken, but he couldn’t replace their spirits.
That’s right, their spirits are – ah, right. I do have another brain, don’t I?
Realizing this, Vandalieu began to split into two.
At least, this is how it appeared to Zadiris. However, she quickly realized that this wasn’t the case.
Vandalieu was now separate from his physical body… He was having an out-of-body experience.
Normally, a body with no soul would collapse and stop moving, like a dead tree. However, Vandalieu was still using his body through magic.
The spirit-form Vandalieu was controlling the physical Vandalieu through the Long-distance Control skill that he had acquired.
“With this, I have two brains,” said Vandalieu. “Zadiris, please take care of my physical body.”
“Y-yes, leave it to me.” Zadiris was startled by the fact that Vandalieu was speaking through both his spirit form and his physical body, but she quickly focused on her healing spells.
With this, he could split the six spells he had barely been managing to maintain, with each brain managing three. But it was still not enough. In order to stop that miserable, god-made stick, he needed more.
But what more could he do?
My brain is… Hmm? I’m in spirit form right now. Then do I even need to worry about my shape?
Vandalieu looked at his physical body to see his right arm under Spirit Form Transformation, split into three to preserve the spirits of the wounded Undead by providing them with Mana.
When he used Spirit Form Transformation on his physical body, he was able to freely change its shape like he was doing with his right arm. With that being the case, he would certainly be able to change his shape now that he was completely in spirit form.
Vandalieu’s vision expanded.
Manipulating his spirit form with his Spirit Form skill, his head split into two at the neck. Now he had three brains.
It still wasn’t enough. He quickly added more. Now he had five brains.
Using his new brains, he made Golems. He made more, more and more. He embedded Orichalcum fragments in the Golems he made.
In short, he was now doing the same thing as that stick. He mixed Orichalcum instead of ice into his Golems that he made from the floor and walls so that it could be used as a weapon.
Stone men with black metal protruding from their bodies roared as they rammed themselves into the octopus of ice, one after another.
“Bocchan?!” exclaimed Rita. “Why is your appearance like that?! There are two of you and you have so many heads!”
“I didn’t see nothing!” shouted Vigaro.
“Ah! How terrifyingly beautiful!” remarked Eleanora.
As Golem reinforcements appeared one after another as if Vandalieu was trying to use up all of the walls and open a giant hole in the floor, everyone had turned around in surprise to see two Vandalieus, and one of them had a rather grotesque appearance. They were surprised… but for some reason, Eleanora’s eyes showed signs of awe and excitement.
“Everyone, pay no attention to my lord’s appearance! You must fight!” Bone Man shouted from the ground near Vandalieu’s feet.
“Move your hands, not your mouths!” Borkus said, reprimanding them.
Bone Man and Borkus’s voices returned them to their senses, and they returned to work once more to destroy the ice.
Indeed, this was simply work now.
The magic spear was indeed a legendary-class Artifact. However, it would normally never have the power to fight battles on its own. It was merely using some method to utilize the huge amount of Mana contained in the Dragon Golem’s core in order to produce and manipulate ice in order to make its struggling movements.
That was why the movements of the cursed ice were slow and stiff. If it were made of normal ice, Borkus and the others would have broken all of it long ago even without Orichalcum weapons.
That cursed ice was being swarmed with countless Golems with Orichalcum fragments attached, broken by Vigaro and the armor sisters and even directly melted by Vandalieu’s death-attribute magic. It couldn’t even maintain the shape of its ice even though it had stopped firing projectiles, let alone repel Borkus and the others.
“This damn spear is so annoying!” Borkus struck the spear as it struggled in vain, sending it flying out of the thick chest of the Golem that it had been embedded in and spinning onto the floor.
The ice stopped moving at that instant.
Is it over? Vandalieu wondered as he returned to his physical body. He felt dizzy for a moment as his extra fields of vision disappeared, but Zadiris stopped him from falling to his knees.
“Whoa… Thank you, but why are you holding onto my head so tightly?” he asked her.
“I was just thinking that it would be terrible if this head were to split into multiple as well.” Zadiris had both arms wrapped around Vandalieu’s head. It seemed that she had been very shocked by the division of his spirit form head.
Vandalieu had frequently branched his arms out into tentacle-like shapes with Spirit Form Transformation, however. Did dividing his head make more of an impact than his arms?
“More importantly, the first thing I need to do is prepare bodies for Bone Bear and the others.”
Vandalieu really wanted to rush to the resurrection device. But that could come last.
Reviving the Undead came first. He could heal their wounded spirits after putting them in bodies. It wouldn’t take much time or effort.
But as Vandalieu attempted to return them to normal, their spirits growled in protest.
They had become burdens to Vandalieu; they were weak. They didn’t want to be returned to normal because they wanted to become stronger.
Bone Bird let out a cry. It seemed to be in agreement, intending to join them.
“… I think it’s possible, but are you sure?” Vandalieu asked. “If I do this, I don’t know if I can undo it.”
Bone Bird nodded, as did Bone Wolf and his companions. Their spirits had already lost the appearance of when they were alive; they were now skeleton-shaped.
They had originally been the wandering spirits of animals and insects. They had no memories of how they had appeared when they were alive, and they already had almost no memories of before they were turned into Undead. Their loyalty to Vandalieu was the most important thing to them. It was because of him that they were now immortal creatures with no limited lifespan, no need to eat or reproduce, without the chains of animal instinct binding them.
Bone Bird’s spirit came out of its body. The spirits of the others lost their shapes, and all of the spirits mixed together.
The bones of Bone Bear and the others that had been scattered around rolled across the floor to gather in one spot.
And then the spirits that had combined with each other and lost their shapes entered that spot.
A monster made of bones let out a roar as it was born. It was built like the pieces of different puzzle sets had been forcibly joined; the bones of a bear, a monkey, a wolf and a bird were combined together.
It was a Chimera with a body consisting of bones. A Japanese person might think it was a Nue* made only of bones.
“This is a Bone Chimera. A creature born of a single malicious entity trapped in the bones of multiple animals, humans and monsters… This is the first time I am seeing one,” said Zadiris. “Bone Bird, Bone Monkey, Bone Wolf, Bone Bear, Bone Man. This is a splendid display of loyalty.”
“Umm… I am still here,” said Bone Man.
“Ah, that is right.”
Bone Man’s skull was still lying on the ground. The magic spear’s rampage was over, so his bones were steadily gathering together, however.
“Bone Man, please let me know if there are any bones you are missing,” said Vandalieu.
“As you will.”
Vandalieu headed towards the magic spear lying on the floor, bringing Bone Chimera with him.
“Vandalieu-sama, it’s dangerous to approach that spear!” Eleanora said, trying to stop him, but he waved her down with his hand.
As to be expected of an Artifact; there wasn’t a single scratch on the magic spear. Vandalieu enveloped it in dark, death-attribute Mana and then touched it.
“Do not touch me!” shouted a voice echoing inside his head.
It seemed that this magic spear had a clearer personality than Vandalieu had expected. A weapon with conscious intelligence; should this be called an Intelligent Weapon?
“Filthy Dhampir! I do not know what your intentions may be, but they will certainly be crushed by Mikhail’s successor, my future owner! Enjoy your brief victory while it lasts!”
“Ah, I’m not interested in that stuff, so can I ask you to tell me some things regarding the current situation? You were a spear originally created to serve Peria, not Alda, weren’t you?” asked Vandalieu.
Judging from the angry, distressed tone of Ice Age, he could guess that Yupeon, the god of ice, had similar views to Alda and the champion Bellwood unlike Tristan, the god of the seas who had mated with Vida to become one of the ancestors of the Merfolk.
Ice Age, an Artifact created by Yupeon, shared his views. And the hero it had acknowledged as its owner over two hundred years ago was Mikhail, the Divine Spear of Ice. He had been a devout believer of Alda, a hero who believed in the justice of the Amid Empire and Mirg shield-nation from the bottom of his heart.
However, he had been narrowly defeated by the goddess-made Dragon Golem and Ice Age was left embedded in the Golem’s chest, separated from its owner.
In this world, those who lost their lives can never come back. In Mikhail’s absence, Ice Age had decided to use his cursed ice to seal away the resurrection device that overturned this law of his own accord so that nobody would ever touch it.
Normally, he wouldn’t have been capable of doing this without his owner despite being an Artifact. But by coincidence, he had been able to use the Dragon Golem’s core that was lightly touching its tip and receive the necessary supply of Mana from there. He had built multiple walls that only Mikhail could pass through.
The wall that contained Zandia’s hand was not Mikhail’s doing, but Ice Age’s.
“But it was not Mikhail or the one who bears his will, but you who came to this place. An insolent creature such as you who toys with life, accompanied by two filthy undying creatures! How regrettable it is that I was only one step away from completely crushing your ambitions!” screamed Ice Age.
“That’s – what?” Vandalieu was about to say, ‘That’s a shame’, but then he had noticed something strange about Ice Age’s words.
Two… He said, ‘two’. Even if you exclude Rita and Saria, there’s Borkus, Bone Man, Bone Bear… Six in total. I’m sure this guy wouldn’t use a different counter between Undead people and animals*.
So why two? The first time I came here, it was me, Borkus and Nuaza, the three of us. Is that what he means?
Vandalieu didn’t know how good this magic spear’s five senses were, but it seemed that it had been working even while embedded in the Dragon Golem’s chest.
It was obvious once he thought about it. In this state, Ice Age had created walls of ice at the entrance to this chamber, the distant corridor and the entrance leading to this underground area, after all.
It wasn’t strange to think that he had noticed Vandalieu and his companions when they had visited this place around two years ago.
So what has this guy been doing up until now? When a Dhampir who was able to melt his cursed ice appeared in the company of two Undead instead of Mikhail’s successor, what did he do in this period of over a year?!
“Vandalieu, what’s wrong with you all of a sudden? Are you talking with that spear? Hello?”
“Bocchan, what’s the matter?!”
Taking no notice of Vigaro and Saria’s voices, Vandalieu began to run towards the door that the Dragon Golem had been protecting.
The door, which was made of the same material as the wall and difficult to spot, opened on its own as Vandalieu approached. It had probably been set to open once its guardian, the Golem, was defeated.
On the other side of the door was a large pipe made of some unidentified glass-like substance, a magic circle, a monolith with indecipherable characters engraved on it and something that resembled a flat-screen television from Earth.
All of them had been pierced by icicles, damaged and broken.
“Fu… FUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! It seems that it has worked well! I could obtain Mana from the Golem’s core, but I had become unable to move in exchange for that. I was unsure whether I had managed to destroy the device with the ice that I created in that distant space, but it is a relief to see that I succeeded! Your evil plans have fallen apart, Dhampir!”
Ice Age’s harsh, loud laughter sounded repulsive to Vandalieu’s ears. Behind him, Bone Chimera let out a sorrowful cry while Vigaro and the others stood there, frozen in place.
And then Vandalieu turned his wide-open eyes towards Ice Age.
If it’s broken, I just have to fix it, and if that’s impossible, I just have to find another way. I’ll never give up on resurrecting Mom.
But before that, I have to dispose of this thing.
“You would destroy me, Dhampir? It is indeed likely possible for an insolent creature such as you who is even capable of manipulating Orichalcum, something that only the gods should be allowed to do. However, doing so would be meaningless. I am an Artifact created by Yupeon, the god of ice; I am essentially a clone of him. Even if this spear is destroyed, my consciousness will return to Yupeon and one day I shall stand before you once more in the hands of another hero like Mikhail. And then I shall sever the thread of your evil life, along with your filthy undying creatures!”
Vandalieu felt nauseous as he listened to the repulsively confident voice that had absolute belief in its own righteousness.
“I’ll ask you just to make sure. Are you serious?” Despite his nausea, Vandalieu asked the spear this question, just to be absolutely certain about his upcoming decision.
“Of course! If you should regret anything, regret your own cursed birth –”
“Then I will destroy you.”
Vandalieu stabbed his spirit-form fingers into the magic spear. He felt the Orichalcum resist, tearing off his skin. He felt pain, as if his exposed flesh and bone were being scraped away by a file.
Ice Age’s voice turned into a screaming noise. It sounded so pleasant to Vandalieu’s ears that he forgot his own pain.
“It seems that you’re a clone of a great god, but you’re one of our genuine enemies,” he said. “Since you’ve said that you will curse us and deny us with all of your might, with not a single shred of mercy, with no exception, then I have no choice but to do this.”
It was possible that Ice Age didn’t know why Vandalieu had wanted to obtain the resurrection device. But it didn’t matter.
In that case, that would simply mean that Ice Age had said, ‘evil intentions,’ while not knowing anything. If that was the case, Dhampirs were an absolute evil to him, worse than insects that caused only great harm while having no benefits to existing whose intentions were not even worth listening to.
That was to be expected. This spear believed Mikhail’s actions had been those of justice.
The actions of the hero who had believed his home nation was good for obeying the orders of the Empire to invade the Titan nation that was doing nothing more than prospering in the area surrounded by the mountain range. The hero who had put an end to that nation.
And he even called those who had turned into Undead after being killed by that hero ‘filthy’.
As long as this magic spear existed, he would continue cursing Vandalieu and his companions for being evil and watch vigilantly for an opportunity to tear out their entrails with his tip. That was the kind of existence he was.
“If I left someone like you alone, I wouldn’t be able to calmly look for a way to resurrect my mother, and I would definitely be unable to become happy in the future,” said Vandalieu. “Ah, there it is. I thought it would be here since you said you’re a clone of a god; I’m glad I found it. Even I can’t destroy something that doesn’t exist.”
Ice Age continued screaming unintelligibly. “You... bastard... You would turn a god into your enemy –”
“No, we’re enemies of your god no matter what we do, aren’t we? So it doesn’t matter what I do, does it?”
What was Ice Age trying to say after he had already destroyed any opportunity for negotiations, reconciliation, harmony or a truce, all on his own?
Had he said and done all of these things with so little resolve that he expected to remain unharmed afterwards? If so, Vandalieu couldn’t help but admire his nerve. He would find it impossible to be so bold.
“I think it’s impossible for you to do this, but if you can, please tell him something for me,” said Vandalieu. “Tell him that he’s my enemy.”
“Gih, gah, M-Mikha –”
Ice Age’s wonderful song stopped and the clear sound of a cloned god’s soul being destroyed rang out.
【The levels of the Golem Transmutation, Spirit Form, Multi-Cast, Soul Break and Long-distance Control skills have increased!】
【You have acquired the unique skill, God Slayer!】