Translator and editor: SaltyTank
It took Geraldine a day and a half to finish the weapons for Marie and Hilde. She was almost working the entire time without rest, fighting her battle beside the furnace. Sometimes, she would go out for a breather, but it never lasted too long before she hid herself back inside the forging room again.
It was impossible to forge Hilde’s entire arsenal out of lightstone, so Geraldine made her two single-edged sabers instead of her usual long and short sword combo. For Hilde, if she had weapons that could easily cut through the gods, swords that specialised in slashing and cutting were probably a better choice than her previous ones that emphasised utility.
Andre and the group had not been idling around while Geraldine was busy crafting their weapons either. Together, they began making plans for their upcoming operation.
Unexpectedly, when Marie was monitoring the region passively with her magic, she noticed the gods that had originally been spreading out into different regions were all heading back to the Tunin ruins. There were currently over a hundred of them gathered there and more were on the way.
Not that it affected their determination to see through their plan.
In the end, their so-called plan was to simply break through the enemies head on. This time though, everyone had a specific role, and their top priority was to cover Andre so he could destroy the urn.
It was the most straightforward and direct method; they would exterminate their enemies with their new-found weapons.
Once they destroyed the urn, Jade, by forcing herself a little, could dissipate all the smog with her magic. By then, their enemies would not stand a chance. Just like that, the group could rout all the monsters that had gathered in one go.
‘Are you all ready?’
Andre tied the sheath to his belt and strapped his round shield properly before asking the other three.
‘…’ Marie silently nodded.
‘Great,’ Andre said and inspected everyone, then nodded. ‘Let’s go then.’
After confirming their battle formation again, the four said their goodbyes with Geraldine, Arnold, and Lenora. They left the base and headed straight for the Tunin ruins.
Unlike last time, Andre was not feeling anxious, but instead full of spirit.
He was not only going to avenge Prommel, but also use this battle as the basis of their counter-offensive. By spreading swords of lightstone throughout the world, humans would gain the power to fight back.
At the entrance of the Tunin city, the stone stele with ‘Welcome’ carved onto it was still greeting its visitors. After decades of weathering, it was now covered in algae, but Andre could still feel the irony from the sign whenever he came back to his hometown.
He could not help but pat the stele. If possible, he would like it to do its job properly in the future by turning Tunin back into the small but prospering city it had used to be.
‘Andre, they’re here.’
‘What a warm welcome…’
The monsters that had been encamping there were not giving Andre time to reminisce about the past. Soon after they reached the borders of the city ruins, a large group of gods came to intercept them.
The group drew out their weapons.
Four versus fourteen; they were at an absolute disadvantage in terms of numbers. Still, they probably would not have fled even back then, let alone now that they had brand new weapons.
Jade stood behind a tree at the rear, holding a brain core in her palm for replenishing magic power in battle later.
At that moment, Hilde disappeared. Turning into mist, she assimilated into the surrounding smog, making her move before the two sides started engaging in combat.
She became a silver tornado among the enemies, spinning herself with her blades out. In one go, she managed to hit four enemies, beheading two of them.
It marked the start of their fight.
Hilde was extremely bothered by the fact that she could not join them in their previous operation, all despite knowing that she would not have made a difference. The thought had been swirling in her mind for days already.
Now given the rare opportunity and new weapons, Hilde’s emotions were running high. She zigzagged through the enemy formation with her magic and danced with her blades, striking dread throughout the enemy as she cut them up into chunks.
She slid her left sword along the shaft of the god’s spear and cut off its claws. Taking another step forward, her right sword had already severed its arms. Hilde swung her swords and pranced forward, and as though she herself was also a blade, she tore a path through the sea of thorns.
With Hilde’s active participation in the battle, Andre and Marie were not given the chance to shine, only having the simple task of beheading the injured gods. Together with Jade, they hurried to catch up with Hilde’s pace.
As they pushed forward, enemies kept flooding in, filling the tattered streets to their limits. Perhaps because space was rather limited, the gods did not dare to bombard them with magic, which saved the group a lot of trouble.
A while earlier, Andre also took the chance to undergo a short experiment. He confirmed that weapons made of lightstone had the ability to cut down magic.
Looking at it, apart from constituting the gods’ bodies, smog was likely something necessary for them to cast magic as well. If it was indeed the case, it could finally explain why their magic had become more powerful when the smog had turned denser.
Hilde eventually slowed down her pace. There were too many enemies approaching, and the reinforcements were coming too quickly for her to handle alone as well. Slightly out of breath after her charge that lasted all the way from the start of the fight, she hurried back to Andre and the group.
It was finally Andre and Marie’s turn to show their worth as warriors in battle.
Clack! Cling! Clang!
The series of clashing sounds came from the gods’ fierce onslaught, but they were blocked and parried one after another; all because Marie was now standing at the very front.
As the vanguard, she dutifully held off most of the gods. Her shield was still an old model, but Geraldine, with her smithing talents, embedded a few sheets of lightstone onto it. It was just a makeshift measure, though that did not matter as long as it could show its effects in this fight.
Despite not being as well-forged as the weapons, the sheets were still made out of lightstone and were enough to counter the gods’ spear to a certain extent. And that alone was enough.
Under Marie’s lead, Andre and Hilde were pushing forward smoothly. Jade finally joined the fray as well, using her magic to summon storms that made it difficult for the pursuing enemies to catch up, which put a dent to their combat strength.
‘Jade, keep it up, we’re almost there!’
Andre snapped a kick at a god that was throwing itself at Jade and beheaded it with a slash. Despite feeling a bit shocked, Jade recovered her step and continued to control the winds.
Thankfully, the city was not a big one. The path from the entrance to the city centre was not too long either. Their progress slowed down a bit, but they were still closing in on the urn every moment.
In front of them lay the obstacle they had failed to overcome last time. The crater that had once driven Andre to despair was now right in front of their eyes, along with the urn that he could not destroy despite sacrificing his blood.
‘Andre! Go, leave the rest to me and Marie!’
‘Take care of yourselves!’
Hilde gave Andre a mischievous salute before blending into the smog to sneak around the nearby enemies. After a round of hack and slash, she successfully attracted a group of gods to run after her.
Meanwhile, Marie came to a halt in front of the crater and made use of the terrain to fight the gods one by one. Some gods tried to fly around and attack her from behind, but Jade who was slowly retreating into the crater would always summon some turbulence and ground them.
The three were acting as multiple layers of cover just so that Andre could reach the urn. Andre, of course, would not let them down. Boosting his magic, he accelerated further and quickly arrived at his destination.
‘I’m finally back again…’
He looked up at the squirming urn and lifted his sword high up into the air. Adjusting his double-handed grip, Andre unreservedly shrouded himself in a blue, magical aura. He planned to put an end to this evil object with one strike, not giving it the slightest chance of regenerating.
The sword in his hands absorbed his magic and sucked up energy from the surrounding smog, revealing a blinding light while white hot flames lined along the edge of the blade. Andre bent his knees, steadied himself, and leapt!
A shockwave travelled through his arms upon impact, but his longsword successfully penetrated the urn.
The squirming tissues made a wild response, as though it was trying to crush the weapon with its motions. Andre put more strength into his arms to resist the grinding from the urn, slowly but surely opening up the urn further. Although the defensive magic had long since activated, it would disappear whenever it touched Andre’s blade, rendering it essentially useless.
The struggle went on until Andre could feel his sword come upon something hard.
Brain, brain core? The urn, it actually has brain cores?
Andre could not spare the energy to speak and only screamed in his mind.
Suddenly, a surge of power pushed against the sword, sending it away from Andre’s planned trajectory. He could not slice it into two halves right in the centre, but with a clean swoosh, a large chunk from the urn’s upper section was cut off.
It was not quite as planned, though the urn no longer wriggled regardless.
‘Is it a success…?’
Andre anxiously approached the urn and found that there was a cavity in its interior. Just when he tried to get a closer look out of curiosity, an exploding surge of smog slammed right into his face and sent him tumbling to the ground.
Looking upwards, Andre noticed that the smog had pierced through the sky and turned into a tornado. The entire atmosphere was changing, with the skies suddenly darkening.
‘Andre! What happened?’
The three girls rushed over to join him. All the nearby gods stopped moving abruptly and simply stared at the tornado like dolls.
They glanced at each other, all of them unsure what to make of the situation. They had not anticipated such a thing would happen, and all they could do was to hold their weapons tightly while sticking together as a group.
‘Eh? Look, look at… those monsters!’
Jade pointed at the nearby gods, clearly baffled. Grey mist kept seeping out of their bodies, and at the same time, their bodies were slowly dissipating into thin air.
Hilde widened her eyes and could not help but take a few steps back.
More and more smog gathered in the sky, and under the suction of the tornado, they slowly formed a massive storm. The hundreds of nearby gods evaporated and were drawn into it in no time.
Before they could react, the storm spiraled all the way down into the cavity within the urn. The resultant shock sent Andre’s group flying a few metres back.
The commotion then came to an end. Andre stood up vigilantly, not daring to be careless now.
‘Could it be… Reborn?’
‘No, it looks like—Wait, Andre look, something’s coming out!’
The dust dispersed as something crawled out from the urn. Andre and Marie quickly stepped forward to protect Jade while Hilde lifted her swords, ready to strike immediately if things turned bad.
They could finally see its true appearance. However, it was not a god, or at least it was not quite the same as the gods they had seen so far.
Despite knowing full well it was a monster made out of smog, that appearance made it difficult for them to believe it. After all, it was a familiar one.
The god that emerged from the urn looked exactly like humans. She was a petite female with a similar physique to that of Hilde’s, though the former was comparatively lacking when it came to certain feminine features. It would not be a surprise if someone mistook her as a boy.
‘Her’ amethyst hair fluttered in the air, and ‘she’ also unreservedly displayed ‘her’ naked body without a tint of fear. ‘Her’ blood red eyes stared right at Andre.
‘Nate um toja.’ An unknown language emerged from the god’s mouth. ‘Na, you—’
The monster spoke.
For over two decades, no one had ever heard them speak. She cleared her throat and practiced a bit with her pronunciation, then started speaking in the language that humans used.
‘Who, art thou?’
Just looking at her creepy smile sent chills down Andre’s spine. Unwilling to answer her, he instead turned the tables and asked her a question.
‘What on earth are you?’
‘This one is Seide, a god.’
‘God?’ Andre furrowed his brows. ‘You’re clearly a monster… Stop pretending to be a god!’
‘This tattered body of mine, indeed, looks like a monster. But thou shalt stop doubting this one, for this one is truly a god.’
At that moment, Hilde turned into mist and charged at the self-proclaimed god.
Seide lifted her hand, and the dim blue aura enshrouding Hilde immediately flickered out of existence. Hilde who was using the momentum in her mist form tumbled to the ground, rolling a few turns before finally shrugging it off.
‘This one sees everything.’ Seide ignored them and simply spoke her mind. ‘Lifeforms that devour this one’s soul shards, intriguing indeed—so much that this one cannot wait to meet thee.’
Realising things were taking a turn for the worse, Hilde quickly returned to Andre’s side.
Andre tried it out himself and found that he could not produce the blue aura as well. It looks like the god has commanding authority over the use of magic.
‘This one is curious… Why do thou resist, at such great cost no less, when all was bound to be in vain? What good do thou gain out of it?’
‘We don’t want anything whatsoever! All we want is to purge you from these lands, so we can live the life we long for!’
‘This one has been tolerant.’
Seide tilted her head, seemingly unable to comprehend the hostility coming from Andre.
‘Tolerant?’ Andre, instead of getting mad, laughed coldly. ‘For decades, you’ve killed so many humans and destroyed so many cities. Do you really think this is tolerant of you?’
‘Life withers away in no time. They come and go by even when left alone. This one only sped it up by removing the troublesome ones. Perhaps it is different for thee.’
It was like both parties were not on the page, and their dialogue was not connecting with each other. If Seide was indeed a god, then humans were mere ants to her. Twenty years was literally nothing to her, so she would not mind at all either.
‘It’s only your one-sided arrogance! You’ve never cared about the feelings of mankind.’
‘Arrogance, is it… If this one has to care for humans, then should this one also care for the bushes, flowers, and other animals? ‘Tis mankind’s arrogance, is it not?’
Seide’s words left Andre speechless.
She was right, his statement was full of contradictions. For other animals in the world, mankind was acting just like Seide, harming them at will without ever thinking to care about them.
‘Never mind, humans do indeed excel in their own ways. At least thou have become subjects this one is interested in. For that alone, giving thou differential treatment is something that can be done.’
‘What… What are you trying to say?’
Andre knew it was impossible for her to come all the way here just for a casual chat. Making such a scene before descending to the world right before their eyes, she must have some goals in mind.
‘A deal, shalt we.’ Seide announced. ‘Form a contract with this one. This one shalt grant thee the honour as “Proxies”, and thou shalt rule the lands as this one’s arms and legs.’
‘You, you mean…’
‘Put down thy weapon and become the king of men.’
Seide spread her arms and welcomed Andre.