Translator and editor: SaltyTank
Andre abseiled down the cliff as planned. With Marie’s ability, the two on the other side could know exactly where he was so they could start their diversion only when he was ready.
Everything was set.
Guessing based on their pace, Andre surmised that they should have arrived at their destination already. He confirmed that the rope was secure and that his equipment and explosives were on him, then started sailing downwards. The slope was around the height of ten or so people, and in a few swings, he was already at the bottom.
The moment he landed, Andre intentionally tapped the ground forcefully with his foot and pricked his ear up. It did not take long before a loud sound could be heard from the distance.
Andre supposed those were the sounds of a house collapsing. He did indeed ask Prommel to stir up something to attract the gods, though he had not expected him to mow down a house.
‘Ha, this guy really…’
Starting the mental stopwatch in his mind, he casted magic on himself and zigzagged his way towards the city centre. The effects of their diversion was yet to be known, so he was a bit more conservative at first.
After passing through several alleys, Andre looked around and saw no enemies at all. He then sped up and quickly arrived at his destination.
There it was, the human-sized urn silently sitting there. It was covered in holes and looked like some sort of weird egg, which only served to further pique his interest in what was inside it.
The wriggling urn that spewed smog looked almost comedic enough to bring Andre to a chuckle. Still, witnessing this for the first time, he was rather anxious and hesitated for a brief moment before heading closer to the urn.
Confirming that he was undetected, he hurriedly put down his bag and took out the bombs to place them at three of the urn’s corners.
Next up was blood. Andre carefully took out all the blood vials and splattered them over it, dying the target of destruction in red in no time,
Its surface started to wriggle slower after being showered in blood, and most of the tissues seems to have been dissolved. Andre then took out the flint to light up the fuses one by one accordingly as planned.
Everything till now was proceeding smoothly, but as he proceeded to light the fuses, his hands were shaking ever so slightly. It was a relief that it did not affect what he was doing.
All was set now.
Andre looked at the sparkling fuses and the blood-red urn, emotions swirling up from within. The flames of his rage shall devastate everything soon—he could not wait to witness the outcome.
He spared no time to savour the moment and turned to leave without caring about leaving tracks behind. The only goal was to get as far away as possible, for even Prommel and Geraldine had no idea how powerful the bombs were.
Andre crouched behind a massive, sturdy boulder and waited.
Flames erupted into the night sky.
His vision shook along with the tremendous pseudo-earthquake that almost threw him out of range from the boulder’s protection. The terrifying boom ravaged his ears and tore through his mind, forcing him to cover his ears and bury his head in his cloak.
All sensations were lost from the overloading signals, leaving him immobilised as though the bombs had shattered the world itself. The explosion was a lot stronger than he had anticipated, though he could feel the corners of his lips sliding upwards even under the scorching heatwave.
As he slowly recovered from the shock, Andre finally managed to open his eyes after ten or so minutes. The first thing he saw was a clear sky without smog. Blown away by the shockwave, the smog was nowhere to be seen, revealing the sun hanging high up in the blue sky.
As his gaze turned from the sky to ground level, the sight that entered his vision crumbled him from within.
‘How… is this possible!’
A blue magic aura formed a shield and stood as an absolute layer of defence over the urn. Everything within a fifty-metre radius was blown to smithereens, leaving behind nothing but a massive crater. However, the urn that was at the centre of the explosion was not damaged even in the slightest.
Andre lost strength in his legs and dropped to the ground.
He had never considered the possibility of failure, for it meant there was no way to fight the gods if they failed. The bomb was their final lunge at the enemy.
He had no idea how long it would take for the monsters to come find him after such a flashy explosion, nor did he know if he should run away and meet up with the two like they had agreed on beforehand.
That sort of plan, though, he really wanted to tear it up at that moment.
‘Running away’s impossible, right…’
Andre crawled back onto his feet, his head still in pain. His body had not completely recovered from the shockwave either. Still, as long as he could move, he had to try everything in his arsenal. He unsheathed his sword and staggered towards the urn.
Hilde had not mentioned anything about the urn having the ability to use magic. If he had known about it, he would never have come up with such a plan. She probably had not expected such an outcome either.
Humans, in the end, still could not escape from the grasp of gods.
Perhaps it had deployed the magic shield the moment the detected the destructive blast, the blood splattered near where the bombs had been planted had long since disappeared and the damaged tissues had regenerated already.
Andre climbed up the urn as there was still plenty of blood on its top. The urn wriggled in response to his movement and weight, but it was not enough to shake him off.
He casted magic and shrouded himself in a mystical aura. Holding the sword with both hands with its tip pointed downwards, he thrusted it into the urn. Andre’s strength was much stronger than Hilde’s, so a third of the blade managed to slide into the squirming object. The resistance he felt from it though was surprisingly high.
It was the thing that produced smog, as such, its regeneration rate was disgustingly high. Not even allowing the slightest thing to intrude upon it, it started bubbling new tissues to push the blade out.
Mustering every ounce of his strength, he could not sink the sword further downwards and it was only a matter of time until the blade was repelled. Andre decisively sliced a wound on his arm. Blood gushed out, flowing along the blade into the urn.
The sword was no longer getting pushed out now that the regeneration rate had greatly decreased. Putting his weight onto his weapon, the tip managed to drill its way another centimetre into the resisting target.
He laughed almost evilly as he opened his wound further, blood drizzling down the sword even faster. It was probably more than all the blood vials he had used for spraying the urn added together; it was frightening how much blood there was in a human.
At that moment, he had such a thought: if he poured every last drop of blood within him into the urn, would it disintegrate from within?
All of his effort was for naught. The combination of blood and sword had dealt enough damage to reach its threshold, and the urn activated its wall of magic again.
His weapon melted. Suddenly losing support, Andre toppled forward and came into contact with the blue barrier. It burnt away his skin without him even feeling any pain.
Andre dropped to the ground. Having lost so much blood, the falling impact knocked the last bit of strength out of him and he could not get back up.
Andre could hear noises coming from not far away. He had no idea who was approaching, but he knew everything was too late by now—they had failed to stop the gods’ invasion.
Their final lunge ultimately missed its target.
Along with the shout, he could feel blue mist slow descending upon him. It was Prommel and Marie who hurried over to him.
‘Why’re you injured? This wound… you didn’t cut yourself, did you?’
‘Prommel… We failed.’
Prommel turned silent and looked at the urn.
‘That can wait, let me heal you first.’
‘No, it’s meaningless, everything’s over.’
Andre tried to shake off Prommel but was instead held even tighter.
‘The mission failed, but the battle isn’t over just yet! Marie, help me pin this dumbass down.’
With the aid of Marie, Prommel finally managed to patch up the wound on Andre’s arm. Still, even though it looked fine on the surface, the blood he had lost was still gone.
Andre who had lost way too much blood lay limp in Marie’s lap. After finishing the treatment, Prommel lifted his halberd and stood up—they were surrounded. The gods stood around the crater, looking down at them from above.
‘Cheh, not gonna give us a break… Such harsh opponents.’ Prommel grinned despite the grim situation. ‘Marie, you know the plan. Time to retreat.’
Marie nodded and carried Andre while standing behind Prommel in vigilance. The gods seemingly knew that there was no escape for the three, so they were in no hurry to kill them and instead slowly closed down their encirclement.
‘The plan, it’s useless!’ Andre spoke with much effort. ‘I was the one who ignored the plan! This situation, it’s not within my expectations.’
‘I knew you just made up some sort of random plan for retreating, so I thought of my own plans as well.’
Prommel ran towards the direction where the encirclement was less tight and swirled his body to throw the halberd out. Turned into a deadly discus, it travelled with deadly momentum and blew away several enemies, creating an opening.
Marie who was carrying Andre followed Prommel as they climbed out of the crater.
His halberd now far from his grasp, Prommel made no effort to retrieve his weapon. Beams of magic kept flying towards them from behind, but it was rather difficult to hit them when they focused solely on running away.
Prommel then took out the two last flares he had hidden away in his bag beforehand. Lighting it up as he ran, he tossed it behind him without looking.
Though the gunpowder within the flares were not enough to hurt the gods, it was enough to stop some of them in their tracks. After two loud bangs, their pursuers were reduced by half.
Andre did not say a thing as Marie carried him away from the site. He still believed that running away served no purpose; at least he could feel better by fighting till his last breath. He even thought, if those two flares Prommel had hidden away had been added to the bombs, would it have made a difference?
Still, those thoughts were too little too late. Going ‘if I knew’ now was not going to change things. Andre felt defeated and had lost all his motivation.
Shaking around in his dazed state as they ran, the three had arrived at the cliff where he had sailed down from.
‘Marie, you two go first.’
Prommel helped Marie remove the shield on her back and replaced it with Andre, then tied his arms onto Marie’s body so she could spare her arms for climbing up.
Knowing the gods would catch up any moment, Prommel urged Marie onto the cliff and silently took out the sword hanging from his waist. Andre who saw his actions felt a shudder in his heart.
‘Wa, wait… Prommel, what are you trying to do!’
‘Andre Kramer.’ Prommel turned around and called him in his full name. ‘I’ve always wanted to thank you for everything. If it weren’t for you, I and Geraldine would never make it this far. I’m really happy that I can stand here fighting like a warrior to protect you two.’
Prommel readied his sword and held Marie’s shield.
‘No… You… Don’t do this…’
Andre started struggling on Marie’s back. Perhaps Prommel had tied him onto her tightly, or perhaps he was out of strength to free himself, he could not break free.
‘Marie… Stop… I’m telling you to stop!’
He was met with silence. No matter how hard he swung himself, Marie remained indifferent to his pleas and simply climbed up, reaching further upwards one hand after the other. The pair of hands tied to her chest was showered with her sweat.
Andre turned around once again to find that the gods had reached the cliff. They tried to spread their wings and chase after Marie, but at that moment, Prommel threw himself into the crowd of enemies.
As the sword danced between the enemies, Prommel’s blood sprayed along with the tune. Using his magic, he kept healing himself while fighting.
Marie had finally reached the top of the cliff. Right in front of Andre’s eyes, Prommel was going to disappear within the crowd of gods.
‘Andre!’ Prommel looked around and yelled, ‘The kids, I’ll leave them to you.’
Andre totally did not want to see the smile on Prommel’s face; even at such a moment, he was saying such things with such a look.
Andre roared as countless blue particles seeped out from within him. Although his body was void of strength, he still squeezed out the last bits of his magic and tore apart the cloak tying his arms. Finally escaping from his restraint, he ran towards the cliff.
A solid impact struck the back of his head, shuddering his vision and freezing it at the last scene he saw—it was Prommel waving his arm, bidding his final farewell to him.
Marie looked aside in pain and picked up the now-unconscious Andre before running to the base without looking back.