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――Even in the land of the Empire, where a wide variety of demi-human people lived, there were those who were regarded as heretics.
The “Insect Cage Tribe” was exactly that, and even in an empire where demi-humans of various species were intermingled, the reality was that they weren’t free from being seen as strange and heterodox.
In appearance, the Insect Cage Tribe did not differ significantly from the human race.
Many of them were brown-skinned and they had a custom of tattooing, but did not have any other obvious characteristics like the “Cyclops Tribe” and “Evil Eye Tribe” with their distinctive eyes, or the “Multi-Arm Tribe” and “Long-Leg Tribe” with their distinctive arms and legs, or especially the “Beastman Tribe” and “Halfbeast Tribe” who could not be any more distinctive.
Still, there was a reason why the Insect Cage Tribe were looked at in a peculiar way by other races: their way of living.
That was due to their way of living in symbiosis with “insects” within their bodies, which was a unique characteristic of the Insect Cage Tribe.
As mentioned above, compared to other demi-humans, the Insect Cage Tribe had little difference in appearance from the human race. If they did not have “insects” in their bodies, it would have been possible for them to live as a part of the human race.
However, that was not the case. The tribe had “insects” in their bodies and inherited their characteristics.
It was, so to speak, the acquisition of characteristics of demi-humans after birth, and the forbidden art of transforming the body in which one was born――That was the primary reason they were shunned by other demi-humans.
This distinguished them from the Weaponkin, who were born with a metallized part of their body that they could reforge into a weapon of their choice as they grew up, and from the Glow People, who were believed to take in the souls of the people they killed, thereby increasing the radiance of the pyroxene crystal that grew on their forehead.
The way of life of the Insect Cage Tribe, who did not mingle with others and never left their homeland, was shrouded in mystery.
Since falsified knowledge was often spread with prejudice, some of the rumors would be hard for the Insect Cage Tribe to avoid laughing at if they had the opportunity to hear them.
However, there were few opportunities for the rumors to be corrected, and there were again no opportunities for the misunderstandings to be cleared.
The most common misconceptions were the timing of when the insects were introduced into the body, as well as the connection between the insects’s way of living and the Insect Cage Tribe――In other words, it was about the history of the Insect Cage Tribe.
To begin with, it was quite dangerous to implant “insects” into the body.
In the southern region of the Vollachian Empire, deep within the village where the Insect Cage Tribe lived, there was a cave where “insects” lived, and the cave was called the “Abyss” because of the deformed creatures and poisonous air that pervaded it. The “insects” inhabiting the cave had a strange appearance and were fundamentally different from the insects that were commonly thought of.
Just who had come up with the idea of taking in these mysterious creatures, was unknown.
The consensus was that it was probably an extraordinary method discovered by shamans, shinobi, and other aberrants with abnormal principles in order to gain power that could not be obtained through conventional methods.
In any case, given their existence, the existence of the Insect Cage Tribe was merely a byproduct.
The ancestors of the Insect Cage Tribe were the ones who wished to live in symbiosis with their natural powers by implanting mysterious “insects” into their bodies, and this madness had been passed down to the present day.
Returning back to the original topic. ――The Insect Cage Tribe waited until they were twelve years old to receive their first “insect”.
Until that age, they trained their bodies and minds to be suitable vessels for the “insects” so they were recognized as an “insects” host during the actual ceremony and the time of hatching could be appropriately arranged.
After that, the symbiotic “insect” would only recognize its obedience towards the host if they had complete mastery over it, thus they were then allowed to call themselves a full-fledged member of the Insect Cage Tribe.
The ritual was forbidden until the age of twelve, because taking in “insects” was a risk to one’s life.
Those who challenged the ritual before they were physically and mentally ready would be eaten alive by the incorporated “insects”. The minimum age to challenge the ritual was twelve, but as long as the vessel was not ready, the age was allowed to be extended to fifteen. If the vessel was not ready by then, they would be deemed unqualified to be considered a member of the Insect Cage Tribe and thrown into the “Abyss” as food for the “insects”.
The suffering associated with the ritual of taking in those essential “insects” was indescribable.
There were different types of blood among the human race, and trying to compensate for a lack of blood via the transfusion of a different blood type could endanger one’s life. The suffering of the “insect” ceremony was similar to that.
The feeling that all of the blood flowing through one’s body was poison, rotting one’s organs and burning one’s brain.
The “insect” grew into a chrysalis that tested the host to see if it was worthy of being its vessel, and then spent three days and three nights deciding whether to use it as its vessel or to dissolve and devour it.
When the chrysalis finally hatched, if the human form was still intact, the ritual succeeded and the “insect” became a symbiote.
The first physical change occurred in the Insect Cage Tribe when an “insect” was taken into the body and hatched from out of their chrysalis.
Some acquired antennae and wings, some developed compound eyes, others grew multiple arms and legs, and others covered their fingers and bodies with a shell.
The fact that these characteristics were similar to those of real insects was the reason why the Insect Cage Tribe was called as such, despite the fact that the “insects” they took in were not actually insects at all.
Of course, even in a different shape, their essence remained unchanged.
However, it was also true that there were those who viewed the Insect Cage Tribe as these abnormal people performing rituals to retroactively transform themselves to become vessels for “insects”.
This was the prejudice that awaited them at the end of their suffering, and yet the way of the Insect Cage Tribe remained the same.
In order to be recognized as a member of the Insect Cage Tribe, a person must take in a single “insect”. However, the more “insects” one took in, the more powerful one became as a warrior.
Therefore, the best warriors of the Insect Cage Tribe had taken in at least three “insects”.
However, with more integrated “insects” the risk of them cannibalizing each other inside the body and endangering the life of the host increases. Therefore, the number of symbiotic “insects” is directly related to the quality of the warrior.
The current chief of the Insect Cage Tribe was known as a warrior among warriors, and was revered and respected as the hero of his tribe for having taken eight “insects” into his body.
――And Kafma Irulux was a monster that had taken in thirty-two “insects”.
The birth of a monster that overshadowed even the feats of heroes, a monster that went against the code of the Insect Cage Tribe from the very beginning.
The ritual of implanting an “insect” was not supposed to be performed until the twelfth birthday for fear of endangering the vessel’s life, but Kafma had taken in his first “insect” when he was only a few days old.
As the elder brother of the Chief, his father turned mad because he remained inferior to his younger, brilliant brother and directed it towards his own child.
Once Kafma gained awareness of his surroundings, he was made to known of his circumstances by his father.
His real father was executed by his younger brother, the Chief, his true intentions remaining unknown. However, his father had declared his son dead soon after his birth, isolating Kafma, and performing the ritual of implanting an “insect” into him every year.
Ironically, when Kafma’s existence was discovered, and he was first taken out of hiding at the age of twelve, the same year his brethren were to undergo the ritual of implanting “insects”, and Kafma was already a monster living in symbiosis with thirteen “insects”.
Even among the Insect Cage Tribe, opinions were divided on how to deal with Kafma, an existence inconceivable to the tribe.
With his father already dying after he was emotionally executed for breaking the law and cursing his child, the reason Kafma had been able to incorporate over a dozen “insects” was completely unknown――Eventually, his uncle, the Chief, declared that he would take responsibility for Kafma’s existence and allowed him to live.
This was not a lie, and Kafma Irulux was grateful to the chief.
His blood-related uncle, for better or worse, maintained a certain distance and discretion when dealing with Kafma, and did not direct any excessive blame or apologies towards him because of his father.
His uncle’s attitude of not being neither particularly kind nor heartless showed his awareness to not give Kafma special treatment as a member of the Insect Cage Tribe, for which Kafma was grateful.
No matter how my uncle treated me, the fact of the matter is that I am an anomaly among the tribe.
Yet the generation that was still unaware of the pain of implanting “insects” kept Kafma at a distance, while those who already incubated insects feared Kafma for the unimaginable number he took in.
The Insect Cage Tribe was regarded as heretical by other tribes, and Kafma had become even more heretical among them.
Of course, Kafma had no reason to be blamed or persecuted.
Kafma could have ignored the stares he received and continued to live the life he had as an unrelated outsider. However, despite being raised differently from others, Kafma’s character was virtuous.
I did not appreciate the environment in which my own people were afraid of me.
To become a member of the Insect Cage Tribe, one was required to implant an “insect” inside one’s self.
However, Kafma had passed through that stage before he became self-aware. So he spared no effort in understanding his brethren in different ways.
He actively interacted with others, learned how to be a warrior from his chieftain uncle, and showed that he was not different from them by being tenacious in his interactions with all generations.
In order to be respected as a warrior of the Insect Cage Tribe, he challenged the ritual of implanting a new “insect” into his body.
There was some opposition. Since Kafma was unique in the history of the Insect Cage Tribe, who had already taken in thirteen “insects”, there were high expectations for how much growth he would achieve simply by growing up.
They had said it was a mistake that should not have happened, that he would lose his life before it even hatched.
Kafma knew what those old men were thinking, but he did not think it was a good idea to stop.
Before receiving permission, Kafma took the “insect” and went through with the ritual unsupervised. Kafma later learned that he had inherited this reckless behavior from his father.
But this time, Kafma recklessly took in his fourteenth “insect”, and after three days and three nights of suffering and vomiting blood, he survived.
And so Kafma Irulux had finally hatched as a member of the Insect Cage Tribe.
Kafma, despite his peculiar birth, was possessed of virtuous spirit and won the outstanding respect of his tribe, making him the strongest in the history of the Insect Cage Tribe.
In the Vollachian Empire, it was the strong who were honored and glorified.
Shouldering the hopes and expectations of his entire tribe, Kafma also set out to make his mark as a “General” of Vollachia and make the strength of the Insect Cage Tribe itself known.
Naturally, there were those who liked to gossip everywhere. Sometimes, he received heartless abuse and harassment from those who believed false rumors about the Insect Cage Tribe. But these were trivial matters.
It was trivial for Kafma once he got to the outside world. Yes, it was trivial.
――Kafma Irulux was a “monster” born out of the history of the Insect Cage Tribe.
With a virtuous spirit and a sense of camaraderie with his fellow countrymen, he took the initiative to fight the enemy and protect his tribe.
However, no matter how much effort he put in, his tribesmen continued to draw a line between Kafma and themselves. Because they knew the difficulty of coexisting with insects, they could not see Kafma as one of them.
Therefore, for Kafma Irulux, leaving his homeland was his aspiration.
Only in a place without his tribesmen, the Insect Cage Tribe, could Kafma see the light that he sought.
By all rights, everyone in the Insect Cage Tribe was supposed to undergo the process of hatching as they grew up, to eclose, and to recognize that they are only one, until finally――
Kafma gnashed his molars hard at the howling, furious, golden tiger that had leapt in front of him.
Kafma did everything in his power to meet the enemy, who explosively enlarged his upper body and raised his sharp animal claws――A warrior who called himself Garfiel Tinzel.
Kafma: [I apologize for underestimating you!]
With a flap of his back-torn wings, Kafma released purple thorns from his outstretched arms.
Although a newcomer among the “insects” that Kafma had adopted, Thorns were used frequently because of their ease of use. However, even with its suppressive power, it could not halt Garfiel’s momentum.
With one fell swoop of his claws, he mowed down the tip of the thorns in every floor of the rampart, and the sensation of the insect screaming within shook Kafma’s brain.
The seemingly endless amount of thorns were part of the “insect” that Kafma had taken in.
Naturally, if they were hurt, there would be a proportionate backlash. They just suppressed it through their sheer vitality to make it seem like there is no reaction at all.
Garfiel stepped forward with unstoppable momentum, and out of the corner of his eye, Kafma slid down the ramparts with the acceleration of his wings and slipped past the fierce tiger.
The impact, a thundering roar, echoed just off to the side, and Kafma was horrified by how much the margin for evasion had been narrowed down.
Every attack was even faster and more powerful than the previous one.
Either one grew in battle, or one drew on one’s dormant strength, neither of which was realistic. Almost every change in force that occurred on the battlefield is a reduction in power.
Of course, any perfect condition set up before a battle is lost with every second that passes once the battle commences, until one’s energy reserves are depleted and the optimal results can no longer be achieved.
That was why it was important to unleash the greatest firepower and skill within the first move of a battle.
Of course, Kafma was no stranger to this rule, unleashing maximum firepower and fighting techniques on the enemy.
And Garfiel ought to have been the same, too. ――It should have been that way, so it did not make sense.
Such an increase in power and speed over the course of a fight, regardless of the particularities of beastification.
Kafma: [And you, you must be seriously injured――Hk!]
Kafma’s earlier attack, it could have been described as a sneak attack or a poisoned assassination of sorts.
Whether the means were good or bad, Kafma did not abstain from the act itself. If elegance was the difference between life and death in battle, then one should choose the means that suit one’s desired outcome.
If those fixations were related to whether or not a person was capable of performing at their best, then it would be a different story.
Whatever the case, Garfiel’s overall injuries were unusual.
The largest injury he had sustained was head trauma from Kafma’s attack, but the “insects” that had burrowed into him were also quite resounding. However, the same methods would not work again.
Having swallowed the Fire Magic Stones, Garfiel’s body was still burning red-hot.
His whole body was covered in flames, but inside his body must have been in an even more unmanageable state of conflagration.
While the host body was at risk when implanting an “insect”, an “insect” without a host was also extremely vulnerable and could easily die off if in an even slightly harsh environment.
There was no such thing as an “insect” that could live in a continuously burning body.
Kafma: [The thought of it is terrifying.]
Even if one could use healing magic, it could not kill “insects” with it. Instead, the “insect” needed to be removed in order for the magic to heal the wound.
This was the best way to break through that antinomy, but it seemed unlikely that he could think this up on his own.
Rather, it was probably the result of following instinct rather than thinking with one’s head.
If he had thought it through with his head, he would have never been able to swallow the magic stone and burn his body.
The moment he slid to an unguarded side, red antennae shot out from Kafma’s shoulders like cannonballs.
Garfiel’s body was blasted off the ramparts with a roar as the tips of the “insects’” horns from Kafma’s transformed shoulder bones pierced through his steel-like abdominal muscles.
A crushing blow, but Kafma did not come out unscathed.
Kafma’s cheeks tensed up at the bone-numbing pain of having two of the antennae snapped off at the base. If victory came at the cost of pain, it brought Kafma down to his knees.
But, Kafma was not foolish enough to kneel here.
Garfiel: [Gaa! Ohaa! Ruuuaahh!]
Garfiel, supposedly blown away, crawled up the ramparts, his claws piercing the walls, and leapt up high before Kafma’s eyes.
Red steam erupted on the side of his body where the horns had supposedly pierced, and the wound closed up. Kafma exhaled as the healing magic’s pale light violently glowed with phosphorescence, and the wound healed rapidly and unexpectedly.
Kafma put a hand over his mouth, realizing it was an impulse to laugh.
Then, as if giving up, he put his hand down and shook his head loosely.
He admitted it.
Kafma Irulux had enjoyed his battle with Garfiel Tinzel to the fullest.
The howling Garfiel brought his arms down and they fell as vertically spinning golden discs. Kafma raised both arms and decided he could not stop them, so he pushed forward, and decided to go beneath Garfiel’s groin and behind him, aiming for his exposed back, which he could see from the side.
However, Kafma unleashed his winged slash without turning back and was knocked away by a rising stone right between them. Just before Kafma’s attack could reach him from beneath his groin, Garfiel placed his outstretched leg on the floor and activated his Divine Protection, blocking the attack.
Moreover, his wings struck against the hard stone and were torn noisily――On the other side, Garfiel’s hind legs were violently unleashed.
With their backs to each other, Kafma’s body went flying after a powerful blow.
His efforts to stay on his feet turned out disastrous, and his outstretched body had failed to dissipate the impact, bouncing off the floor, spitting blood, and sending Kafma’s tall body bouncing over the wall.
Once, twice bouncing higher, he saw Garfiel’s face as he spun around over his rolling momentum.
To the bottom――,
Kafma: [A second time――Hk!]
His chest opened, and his ribs spread apart; his reddish organs stored deep within rumbled, and the shockwave emitted from them surged forward straight into Garfiel.
This, Kafma’s trump card, was not the result of introducing a new “insect”, but a new organ created by the coexistence and symbiosis of the thirty-two “insects” that had been inserted up to that point.
The functions of multiple “insects” were combined to release a shockwave that engulfed and destroyed everything in its path with a ferociously precise vibration, a destructive blow pulverizing everything into pieces.
The moment any warrior was exposed to it, invisible to the eye, it turned them into a bloody mist.
That conviction remained unshaken as Garfiel’s golden hair was now stained with blood.
Any warrior would be turned into a bloody mist. Therefore――,
Kafma: [――A monster.]
Braking his tumbling body with an arm thrust against the floor, Kafma looked up.
Then, Garfiel, with his blood-stained upper body trembling, mouth wide open, rushed in. Straight towards him, the “monster” struck a blow that would have killed any warrior.
The swing of that huge fist caught Kafma in the face, and a reflexive counter-punch rocketed upwards to his opponent’s jaw. Like that, a violent brawl ensued, red flowers of blood blooming across the wall.
It was an epic battle that no one could interrupt, a clash between monsters.
Exhaling and looking beyond the pain, Kafma poured all of his energy into it.
He was an extraordinary monster yielded from a peculiar origin, that was the reason for Kafma Irulux to be so distinct from his tribesmen, a fate which he had cursed with his very being.
Leaving his closed-off hometown and stepping forth into the wide world, Kafma had tried to discover.
He had tried to discover evidence, so that he may puff up his chest with pride that he was not a monster.
However, that was not the case in reality.
Even in the outside world, Kafma’s remarkable true strength was beyond the norm and thereby regarded as heretical. Many that he stood shoulder to shoulder with as regular soldiers feared Kafma’s prowess, and they kept away from his abnormality.
That no matter where, he was a monster, that in the end, it was a fate he could not escape, such was as Kafma had thought.
???: [――Rise up, General Third-Class Kafma! Together, let us do everything in our power for the glorious sake of His Excellency! What, don’t think too much about it, for just like you, we are all monsters!]
With a loud voice, the words of the large man who gave that masculine laugh had been a heavenly blessing for Kafma.
Wanting to deny that he was a monster, Kafma had tried to ingratiate himself with his tribesmen. Since that wish had not been fulfilled, he had tried to seek it outside, and still he had failed.
However, what if he looked upwards?
Gathered together were monsters that even Kafma Irulux, who was feared as a monster, was no match for.
It was not that Kafma wanted to be told that he was not a monster.
It was just that he did not want to be in a loneliness that could not be shared or understood by anyone.
Even though he was a monster, the world had not left Kafma behind.
Kafma: [――And with my fight against you, yet another.]
While Garfiel’s entire body was bathed in a four-pronged barrage of antennae fired at an ultra-close range, he endured it with sheer force by healing his wounds as soon as he sustained them.
The uncommon defensive power, vitality, and extreme regenerative abilities that likely included the power of a Divine Protection, were the gimmicks of the “monster” before Kafma’s eyes, and the cause of his enthusiasm.
The thorned vines released from his right arm had wound around the fierce tiger’s entire body, and the thorns were forcibly shaken off while they were tearing the skin to bits. His fists, covered in carapaces that thrust aside every slash, directly collided with Garfiel’s shining silver gauntlets, and the carapaces shattered tremendously.
The “insect” eggs that had been planted with a flick of his left hand burned in the flames, and the shockwave emitted when he was forced down to his knees, which had caused his internal organs to churn, was still unable to overcome that recovery ability, and fell flat.
Refreshing. Ahh, how refreshing.
In the end, he was a military man, and no matter how he may try to pretend, he was a monster, and going along with the “insects” that cheered from within him, before he knew it, a smile had stuck to Kafma’s cheeks and would not come off.
The thirty two “insects”, the beings that had become one with himself and were closer to him than his own family, were delighted that they finally had a chance to show their full heart and soul, and began to rant and rave.
Victory must be wrought.
For the sake of a great cause, for the glorious sake of His Excellency the Emperor who guides the Empire, for the sake of repaying his benefactor who raised him to this domain, and for the sake of his tribesmen who wished to improve the status of the Insect Cage Tribe.
Garfiel: [――Bastard, where th’fuck d’ya think yer lookin’?]
He heard a voice amidst the pain, the suffocation, and the accelerating thoughts that filled his brain.
Even though they were both pounding each other’s vitals with such ferocious vigor and might that it would not have been strange if one of them died, and even though there was no room for a proper exchange of words, he heard it.
A pair of emerald green eyes fixed their gaze onto him from in front, and a bloodshot glint pierced his soul.
The sharp fangs made a noise as to slurped flesh and blood, and the sound of creaking bones made all of his perception feel distant.
So while everything was being put to use for the stage of battle, the monster before his eyes, howled.
Garfiel: [My amazin’ self, is right here.]
Garfiel: [For just this moment, I ain’t gonna let anythin’ get in the way.]
That instant, color faded from the world, the sound of the wind and the ringing in his ears went silent, and that large enemy before his eyes became all that remained in Kafma Irulux’s world.
Kafma was ashamed of his own inadequacy, thinking how tactless he had been.
And then, he quickly tossed that shameful tactlessness aside, and nodded.
Kafma: [――Ahh, it’s just you and me.]
That moment, their fists crossed and slammed into each other’s faces, and time accelerated.
An open palm caught hold of his face, and Kafma’s skull screamed from that extraordinary grip strength. But Kafma also put his hand in his opponent’s mouth, and from there he poured thorns into his opponent’s body.
Since he could not break through from the outside, then he would do it from the inside.
The overflowing thorns rampaged through the inside of his body, and the conclusion of devouring him from the inside was imminent. However, while the thorns were flowing into Garfiel, he swung Kafma’s body up, and then swung his body down, slamming him into the ramparts.
As his back was buried into the rampart, he was lifted up and dropped again. Lifted, and dropped. Lifted, and dropped. Lifted lifted lifted lifted, dropped dropped dropped dropped, and he was trampled upon.
A crack formed in the rampart where his entire body was buried, and the tip of the bastion of the star-fortress was split in two. His vision was dyed a deep red, and in place of his breaths, blood gushed out.
Nevertheless, the thorns did not lose their power, and they continued to flow into Garfiel’s body.
Until Kafma exhausted all of his strength, the “insects” would hunger for victory.
The open mouth of the large tiger was not able to bite through the bulky bundle of thorns. No matter how much his claws tore into them, the undulating layers of thorns were too thick. No matter what he did, Kafma would not let him go.
The thorns were also finite, there was a limit to how much he could send forth.
If Kafma were to send them all forth at this point, he would be giving up his best chance of defeating the other insurgents who were closing in on the ramparts. However, this victory would be worth it.
――No, the monster known as Garfiel Tinzel, would be worth it.
Kafma: [Ah, ahh, RAAAAAAAAAAAHHH――!!]
Ignoring the pain of the broken bones in his body, Kafma’s throat raised a war cry.
The overflowing thorns filled Garfiel’s body to the brim, and the pressure of the deadly thorns, having no place to go, would cause a rupture that led to death.
No matter how hard he tried to twist his body, no matter if he completed his beastification, it would not let him escape.
Concentrating the remaining power of all the “insects” in his body, Kafma suppressed Garfiel and pitched forward to wrest victory―― and then he bore witness to the unbelievable.
The large tiger with golden-fur had swelled up to the verge of bursting from thorns that poured into his mouth. Before that body could burst, the pressure in the thorns was rapidly lost.
Why was that? ――It was because an escape route had been created for the thorns that entered his body.
Garfiel’s sharp claws tore across his own abdomen, and thorns poured out from the wound.
His terrifyingly desperate tactics were acts of barbarism which brought him close to death’s door. If thorns rushed into a wound that was created, the wound in the stomach could be opened for the same reason that the mouth could not be closed. Then his body would be split in two, and it would be the conclusion.
Indeed, to merely invite death like that, it was an act of barbarity far too foolish.
However, the instant Kafma witnessed that barbarism, the momentary emptiness in his mind gave Garfiel, who was on the verge of tearing himself apart, a moment to catch his breath.
He closed his jaws. There was a sound of thorns being torn apart, and the large tiger’s large mouth closed.
Kafma lost the decisive blow with his thorns, and before he could realize it, Garfiel stepped forth and his fist struck Kafma’s face with a hard impact of his silver gauntlets.
Collapsed on the top of the wall, a fist slammed into Kafma’s face as he lay sprawled out on the floor, and now, the impact that was deeply hammered into him inflicted decisive damage to the rampart.
A thunderous roar resounded, and the ramparts of the Imperial Capital of Lupugana, extolled to be impregnable, began to crumble.
While he felt the collapse through the sound behind him, Kafma looked straight ahead to Garfiel, who pulled back his fist.
Slowly unraveling his beastification, the boy regained his original human form―― the wound in Garfiel’s abdomen, from when he had torn himself open, was closed with a plume of blood.
It was a fatal wound, but seeing him forget about it even happening so terrifyingly quickly, Kafma bursted into laughter.
What an absurd sight.
Kafma: […A monster.]
Thus, right after he muttered to himself as if to catch his breath, the collapse was fully realized and the ramparts crumbled.
Falling amongst the crumbling ramparts and rubble, Kafma’s consciousness slowly faded away, faded away, and faded away until there was nothing left to hold on to――.
Kafma: [Your Excellency, I apologize…]
Until the very end, while he thought shamefully of himself for putting on airs of a loyal retainer, he fell.
――The voices of the “insects”, which he had been hearing since he was born, also seemed to be awfully quiet.
Forcefully grabbing the man’s body as he fell defenseless, he kicked off on the rubble to escape the scene of the collapse.
Grazing the ground with his heel, he killed his momentum and turned around to see the ramparts crumble with a thunderous roar, opening a large hole in the strong fortress.
Garfiel: [I fuckin’ opened it, a hole for th’new wind.] 
The words had been spoken before the start of the battle, remembering Emilia’s order, his cheeks contorted. Feeling pain in the corners of his mouth, which had been torn wide open, Garfiel screamed, “Gah!”
He hurriedly placed his hand on the wound and activated his healing magic.
Garfiel: [Argh… shit… that hurts… but…]
Roughly healing his torn mouth, Garfiel intently stared down at his hands.
The sudden fierce battle, and being put into a condition where, frankly, it would not have been strange if he died―― But the horrific wounds all over his body had closed up, and the seeping pain became a lingering sensation.
Even while in his beast form, he thought that he was able to maintain a certain degree of composure while continuing to fight. Thanks to that, he was able to recover from his wounds quickly. ――Was that really all there was to it?
Garfiel: […Has my amazin’ self gotten stronger?]
Clutching his opened hand tightly, Garfiel spilled that out.
He had not been entirely sure. Perhaps it would be better to call it fortunate, but until now, Garfiel had not faced an opponent to whom he had to give his all.
Except for the battle against Kurgan, the Eight-Arms, in the Water Gate City, the battles in which Garfiel was not able to use the entirety of his strength had continued.
With those shackles removed, and the result of once again being able to fight with all his might, he had a definite sensation.
He breached the wall at a level stronger than he was before. That was what he had ascertained during this battle.
That was why――,
Garfiel: [――Ya called me a monster, but I’d say the exact same thing about ya.]
With that, Garfiel lowered his right arm, dropping Kafma’s body to the ground, and snorted his nose.
Kafma’s chest was slightly falling and rising, and he was still breathing. This was war, and in order to think of it as true victory, he should not let his opponent live, though he understood this.
Emilia said they should try to reduce the number of people who would die by their hands.
And Otto, likewise, told Garfiel to beat them up until they could no longer stand on their own feet.
Indeed, Emilia had shared these words from the bottom of her heart, and Otto had said them out of concern.
He wanted to fulfill that.
Therefore, in this place――,
Garfiel: [――It’s my amazin’ self’s win.]
And so, having defeated one of the bastions on the points of the star, Garfiel pumped his fist into the air.
 – Same as chapter 88, the expression Garfiel uses here (風穴を開ける), translates directly to “Open a windhole”, but the two meanings of this expression are both to penetrate something, and to breathe a new life into something. In this case, it refers to him opening up the wall, but it is technically the same as what Emilia used in the previous chapter.