Machine Translated By:
- Cirdan Lunae
Japanese to English Checking By:
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Todd: [――They’ve only recently turned into zombies. Some of them were alive just a few hours ago. Those who died in this battle are coming back to life one after another… But we can’t say for sure yet.]
Subaru: [But I understand what you mean about them having just turned into zombies. It’s like they don’t know what their own weaknesses are. We aren’t the only ones who don’t know much about zombies…]
Todd: [They themselves are the same. However, if they have a head to speak, they probably have a head to think as well. The more time we give them, the more they can fill in those unknown parts, and the more their possible weaknesses disappear.]
Subaru: [That’s why we need to strike before the enemy becomes fully prepared―― Oh.]
Todd: [What? What did you notice?]
Todd: [Don’t be coy, out with it already.]
Subaru: [I’m not being coy. It’s just that zombies don’t really understand their own bodies. So if we inform them instead――.]
He let Louis cling to his back and squeezed Beatrice tightly against his chest.
The same basic position as when they were riding on the back of the Galewind Horse; however, the situation they were placed in was quite extreme, and he did not have time to worry about the girls.
The surrounding scenery changed in an instant, and soon after, beside a house that was shattered by a furious blow, Subaru and his allies had appeared from thin air, taking the back of the hostile zombie.
Tanza, who threw houses, and Idra, who threw rubble, attacked in waves―― it was a pretty funny battle strategy when put into words, but it was not only the words that were funny, but the picture as well.
Not because the child was throwing the larger ones, rather than the adult. In the first place, the tactic of throwing a house itself was ridiculous.
Tanza: [Since I am receiving Yorna-sama’s love, then I have to do at least this much.]
Since she had accepted it in such a reliable manner, the impact of the scene could be shelved for now.
In fact, the mysterious enhancement of the entire Pleiades Battalion applied to Idra as well, but it was not as good as Tanza, who had stacked Yorna’s as well. It was all about being the right person at the right place.
From that perspective, their opponent’s attention was drawn by the wave attacks using big and small tools―― once their focus was on Todd, Subaru and his allies made a surprise teleport attack.
The zombie twisted in mid-air; the enemy, with his distinctive one-eyed face, blackened the white part of the large eye in the center of his face, while his golden pupil glowed brightly.
A terribly cruel, blood-scented evil sneer was etched upon his mouth, sending shivers down Subaru’s spine.
Had he always been the type of person who would smile hysterically in the midst of battle? Or perhaps he had changed since he became a zombie; they did not know which one it was.
Beatrice & Subaru: [El――]
Quickly, Subaru and Beatrice simultaneously held up their hands and pointed them at the enemy in front of them.
If their opponent showed a move to avoid Subaru and Beatrice’s attack with the utmost effort and no hesitation, then their strategy would fail.
In that case, perhaps they would not be able to surpass this enemy, even with their best efforts.
But that would not happen. Because Subaru―― no, because Subaru and his team forced them into this situation.
Sure enough, the zombie turned around with a startling gait and, catching Subaru and the others in its large single eye, took a posture of swinging his battle-axe in his grip instead of taking evasive action.
It was a strategy that involved taking Subaru and crew’s attack, then defeating them with a counter―― the traditional tactic of incurring damage so as to inflict greater damage on one’s foe, but the desperation put into the attack here was different.
The zombie’s body regenerated inflicted wounds in little to no time.
That was why the enemy had believed himself able to take Subaru and his team’s attack with no risk, and then use it to launch their own counterattack.
Beatrice & Subaru: [Minya――!!]
――Unbeknownst to them, that was the path to defeat that Subaru and his allies had carved out.
With his battle-axe swung to riposte, the enemy took a serious hit from the purple arrows released from the hands held up by Subaru and Beatrice.
Three brightly shimmering, amethyst crystal arrows pierced the left half of the Cyclops’ body.
Izmail: [Brilliant tactic, but――]
Without paying attention to the purple arrows that had pierced him, the enemy bared his teeth and howled at his prey, Subaru and his friends.
A zombie’s body, oddly enough, broke in a brittle manner upon being shattered, much like pottery cracking, even though it retained some strength.
His broken body would then be repaired like a video played backwards, and the zombie would attack as if nothing had happened――,
Izmail: [Wh, at…?]
――But he could not do it.
The amethyst arrows that had pierced the zombie’s body did not shatter its body from there, but rather remade the body into the same amethyst crystals as the arrow. The crystallized part of the zombie’s body then cracked, and this time the zombie’s body shattered, but the parts did not regenerate.
The particular effectiveness of Yin Magic against zombies―― that was the enemy’s weakness that had been identified during their retreat up to this point.
――Although there had not been an abundance of opportunities to check over a long period of time, several common characteristics were observed in the zombies.
For example, a zombie’s fatal wound was closer to the heart than the head.
However, since piercing their chest would not kill them, fatal was perhaps not be the right word. Nevertheless, it was a fact that zombies, their bodies regenerating wounds with abnormal resilience, healed more slowly when the wounds were close to their heart.
Since blood did not flow when an arm or leg was lost, it seemed that the heart probably no longer served to pump blood to the body, but it had not lost its function as a vital part of the human body.
As those characteristics of zombies that could not be beaten were revealed, Beatrice’s Yin Magic came to be recognized as effective at defeating zombies.
Beatrice had explained that Minya, a spell of Yin Magic, had the effect of freezing the time of the target, which was a kind of instant death magic, and it seemed to be especially effective against zombies, who relied on their regeneration.
According to Todd, if one were to burn a zombie’s body down to ashes, they could stop the enemy from regenerating just as if they had hit them with Minya, but there was no use in asking for something they did not have.
Subaru: [This is the strongest use of the hand we have!]
Regardless of the strength of the enemy zombies, they could be defeated if hit with Beatrice’s Minya.
In that case, the result of thinking about a strategy to hit it was to make the enemy, who continued to demonstrate the ability it had possessed in life, understand the merit of becoming a zombie.
Beatrice: [They aren’t damaged by attacks. If one gets attacked and finds that they can heal quickly, anyone would contemplate relying on that power, I suppose.]
Subaru: [I’m sure he would have easily avoided that before being turned into a zombie.]
It was a declaration of victory for Subaru, Beatrice, and Louis―― or rather, both admiration and pity for their enemy.
This warrior who had come back to life as a zombie had been, undoubtedly, quite the skilled warrior in life. Even as a zombie, there was no discernible change in his fighting ability, but there was a distortion in the ideology with which he approached battle.
If only he had not been so arrogant as to think that receiving an attack would not be a problem.
Subaru: [There was no way he could have seriously taken that shot.]
The zombie’s eye widened as it spun with the shock of the magic he had been subject to.
The look in his eye was a whirlpool of mixed emotions, a mixture of astonishment and understanding as he realized his defeat; Subaru bit his lower lip and cursed the unreasonable fate that had befallen this warrior.
Even if Subaru was cursed at for crystalizing the left half of his body and making him taste death for the second time――,
It came to pass immediately after a moment of sentimentality washed over his heart.
Subaru was called by Tanza in an urgent voice, and he suddenly realized the truth of the situation. Spinning in the air, turning away, and then turning back to face him, the look in the enemy zombie’s eye had changed color.
It was not as if the color of the dead’s distinctive golden eye had changed.
But the astonishment and understanding that had been floating in it had faded, and it had been replaced by an intense hostility.
At one point, the enemy had almost accepted his defeat along with the impact.
That had changed the complexion of his eye. ――Perhaps Subaru’s last words had been the catalyst.
Izmail: [Not yet.]
Subaru: [――He’s not dead!]
In front of Subaru gasping at the sight in front of him, the enemy, whose crystallization was advancing across the left side of his body, kicked something into the air.
It was a fragment of a shattered house-cannonball. Albeit merely a fragment, it was as big as a person’s head. Kicking it into the air, the impact shattered the zombie’s left arm from the shoulder down, blowing it away.
In return, the flying debris instead flew straight at Subaru’s face――
Just before he was hit, Subaru had a vision of his skull being shattered by the fragment.
It would have been a fatal blow, but it did not reach Subaru. Because a figure, Louis, had intervened before it hit Subaru, and took his place.
Clinging to his back, Louis forcefully pushed Subaru’s body down, moving him out of the path of the debris and into the line of fire herself instead.
As a result, Louis took an unguarded hit from the debris, detached from Subaru’s body, and sent flying.
Beatrice: [Subaru, don’t look away, in fact!]
As Louis was blown away, Beatrice called out to the distracted Subaru. Keeping her body in Subaru’s arms, she reached out her hand to attack the enemy.
However, the opponent was not so simple-minded as to be fatally struck twice.
With fragments of his arm flying through the air, the enemy skillfully read Beatrice’s follow-up with Minya and used what little remained of his left shoulder area to receive it.
He took on the damage in areas that were already crystallized, minimizing the progress of damage caused by the progression of the cracks.
It was truly the skill of an exceptional warrior――.
As soon as he was awed by his skill, Subaru’s collar was grabbed by an outstretched arm.
He had abandoned his battle-axe―― No, after losing the ability to wield the battle-axe, he displayed his obsession to not let Subaru escape.
Subaru’s body, holding Beatrice, was forcefully sent to the ground by the pull of the enemy’s arm. Choking from the pain of his back hitting the hard surface, Subaru saw the form of the enemy up close and attempted to raise his hand with haste.
But, however, the opponent’s determined form met his gaze, and his movement stopped.
――The way he looked, full of ambition and the will to fight, it was hard to believe that it was from a body that was already dead.
His neck being constricted, desperate voices struck Subaru’s eardrums as he gasped.
Hearing those frantic voices and the sound of the bones in his neck fatally creaking, Subaru’s arms still did not rise. It was not that he was deprived of strength, but rather that his heart was no longer invigorated.
Even though he knew that if he did not do it, he would die.
Even though he knew that if he did not kill, he would be killed.
Subaru, unable to move, was supplanted by Beatrice, who had leaned in and fired her magic at the enemy.
Covering Subaru, resulted in also covering Beatrice, who was in his arms. Naturally, the magic reached the target from a distance that ought to have been called point-blank range.
However, the enemy endured. ――TThe right arm that had tightened around Subaru’s neck was defended to the death, the enemy attempting to at least to take him along with them, even if his torso were to be crystallized.
???: [It’s because you are being strangely merciful.]
Immediately after such nonchalant words were spoken, the head of the enemy, the blazing sparkle in his eye trying to kill Subaru, was severed at the neck.
Instead, emerging on the other side of the vanished enemy’s head was a stone-cold-looking Todd.
With a swing of the axe in his hand, Todd had decapitated the zombie.
The head that had been lopped off by Todd attempted to turn its hatred toward him,
Tanza: [How dare you!]
And then Tanza’s diving kick ruthlessly blew its head away. As it was, the Cyclops’ head continued to bounce down the street like a soccer ball.
Then the torso, having been left behind by its head, slowly crumbled, turning entirely into deep purple crystals.
Tanza: [Are you all right, Schwartz-sama!]
Subaru: […Coughcough, I-I’m fine. Sorry, thanks for the help.]
Shaking off shards of the enemy’s collapsed torso, Subaru lifted his hand to Tanza running toward him, assuring her that he was unharmed.
Tanza was relieved to hear Subaru’s response, and then Subaru’s face turned into an expression of sudden realization,
Subaru: [Louis! Where’s Louis? She covered me and…]
Idra: [It’s nothing serious, it seems. Although it looks like she got hit by a piece of debris and has a concussion.]
The hasty Subaru received an answer from Idra, who was crouched a short distance away.
At his feet lay Louis, her upper body propped up, blood streaming from her forehead, her head swaying unsteadily.
Subaru: [Her head isn’t looking good…! Beatrice, please!]
Beatrice: [――. Of course, I know, I suppose.]
Subaru took in Louis’s condition and rushed to his feet, pulling Beatrice’s arm. For a moment, there was hesitation in her demeanor, but Subaru did not notice it.
Beatrice was the only one currently present who could use healing magic.
The other user, Rem, had been asked to go with the non-combatants to bypass the area of battle toward the inner city in order to avoid an all-out battle against a strong enemy.
The more they were able to pull the strong enemies away from beside the ramparts, the more likely it was that they would be able to get out of the city safely, but that was where the impact of the lack of possible healers came into play.
Subaru: [Louis, you’re going to be okay…!]
Subaru crouched down beside Louis with Beatrice as she held her hand over the wound on her forehead; while Beatrice activated the healing magic, Subaru held Louis’s hand.
Subaru’s tight grip was returned weakly, as he uttered a repeated “I’m sorry…”.
All he could do was apologize. For it had been entirely his fault.
Todd: [So that girl can use healing magic, too? You’ve sure got a lot of people with rare powers around.]
Todd then called out to Subaru, who was watching over Louis’s treatment.
He carried the axe that had decapitated the enemy’s head on his shoulder, fixing his gaze on Subaru’s slightly tense figure,
Todd: [And yet, if you keep being like that, their talent’s going to go to waste. You’re aware of that, aren’t you?]
Todd: [Those who place confidence that they won’t die in anything other than their own strengths are weak.]
Todd: [This applies not only to the Cyclops we just killed, but to you as well.]
The reason why he could not respond to those indifferent words was because they had unmistakably hit the mark.
That moment of weakness that had passed through Subaru’s mind as he saw his enemy shake off his looming defeat, grasping at victory. It was, as Todd said, the result of being overwhelmed by a thirst for life.
Subaru was not so naive as to dismiss it as a matter of course, but――.
Tanza: [Is it not rude to speak like that?]
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama is someone who was of great contribution to the current battle. The way you talk about him, pointing that out, is…]
Todd: [Don’t snap at me. I acknowledge his contributions. It’s just that I think they’re insufficient. That, and the person who was of greatest contribution was either you or the girl that’s collapsed over there.]
Tanza’s cheeks stiffened upon that statement from Todd, pointing his chin towards the girl.
The girl who had taken a major role against such a strong opponent upon herself, did not seem to care about the praise directed at her, but was rather worried about Subaru, who had been struck with those heartless words.
She was a girl whose facial expression would scarcely be altered, but the feelings she kept hidden inside were rather strong.
Ever since the Gladiator Island, she had considerably deepened her relationship with Subaru, and so she would understandably display an attitude of anger on Subaru’s behalf if he were to be insulted.
The absence of Todd’s fiancée, Katya, from this situation also added to the intensity of her tone.
Tanza: [Do you consider yourself to be correct no matter what? In that case…]
Todd: [I said, don’t snap at me. What I said is just a fact. There are monsters out there so incredibly strong that they can be sure they won’t die, and there are others who think they won’t die for an external reason to that. ――Neither you nor I are either of those things.]
Tanza: [That is…]
Todd: [If the former is an ally, things go easily, but I wouldn’t want the latter to be an ally. If they’re an enemy, you’ll be able to take advantage of them, like we did just now. Your friend’s plan was spot on.]
Tanza: [――Hk, you do not…]
Speak for Schwartz-sama; had she tried to snap at him with such words?
With her face slightly flushed with anger, Tanza tried to snap at Todd. But quicker than Subaru could stop her, Idra intervened.
While he was supporting Louis’s body, he called out her name, “Tanza”,
Idra: [That’s enough. This isn’t like you. Your istinctive characteristic is that you always keep your cool, right?]
Tanza: […It is just that I am unskilled at managing the fluctuations of my emotions. Moreover, Idra-sama, you should also understand.]
Idra: [By understand, you mean…]
Tanza: [After all, Idra-sama, you and I are both connected to Schwartz-sama. Whatever Schwartz-sama is feeling, it should be transmitted to us in no small amount.]
Idra frowned and kept his mouth shut at Tanza’s complaint as she kept her back turned. Seeing Idra’s expression directly in front of him, Subaru unconsciously gulped.
Although the Pleiades Battalion was graced by the exceptional strength they received from the effects of Subaru’s Cor Leonis, the members with whom Subaru had a close relationship―― Idra and the others who had originated from the same Unit, and Tanza, who had a closer relationship with Subaru than the others, received his deficiencies.
Subaru felt a sense of relief that Tanza and others did not see that as Subaru’s failure or lack of virtue.
On the other hand, he felt sorry, he felt that he was still lacking.
And thus, when Subaru had thought just that.
Louis: [Aa, uh.]
Suddenly, Louis squeezed Subaru’s hand back and let out a weak voice.
As usual, the details of what she meant, not having formed words, were not known. However, it was clear that she was concerned about Subaru. Even though she was in a situation where she was more injured than he was.
Beatrice: [If she can talk, there’s no need to worry, in fact. If the treatment is over, it would be best to take her outside and have Rem give her a checkup, I suppose.]
Subaru: [I, see. Yeah, that’s right. With great trouble, we’ve cleared the way. If we linger here…]
It’s not unlikely that other zombies will gather, making sure not to get those priorities backwards; it happened at that moment.
――Whoosh, he heard a strange sound, cutting through the wind.
It sounded like the swinging of a rope with something light strapped to it, but the events that occurred immediately after he heard the sound of cutting wind, were not light whatsoever.
A short groan spilled out, and Tanza’s body trembled.
Then, as she looked down at her shivering body, her round eyes widened. ――Having pierced through her back and abdomen, something akin to a tentacle with a sharp tip protruded.
The tentacle, having pierced Tanza’s small body, extended from the direction of the street that had been destroyed in the aftermath of the battle, a long way from where Subaru and the others were.
Extended like a writhing serpent, the origin of that tentacle had been――,
A grotesque torso growing from the head that had been kicked away, extending tentacles outwards, was the figure of the zombie from just before.
A momentary standstill, Subaru’s thoughts were dyed white by the figure that trampled upon his imagination and understanding.
But in order to avoid that moment from becoming fatal, a voice spoke up.
Beside him, Beatrice’s face had turned pale as she screamed, bringing Subaru’s attention back to reality.
A sound like blood rushing through his head echoed in Subaru’s mind, and he once again took in the scene before him―― a one-eyed zombie standing on the destroyed street, its grotesque appearance caught in his gaze.
Their head had the same black eye with a golden pupil as before.
However, below the neck was not the sturdy body of a warrior, but a monster that could only be described as grotesque, with different thicknesses and lengths of paired left and right arms and legs.
From one of its arms, the monster extended a tentacle——No, that was not quite right. It was not a tentacle, but a finger, and it pierced through Tanza’s body.
The moment he saw it, the monster withdrew its long finger that had pierced through Tanza’s body, and her body trembled again.
Her body, pierced through the torso, spurted blood and she collapsed onto her knees with a powerless thud.
Idra: [――Hk! This is bad! Schwartz!]
Immediately after his shout, Subaru, having reached out and began a sprint, was forcefully pushed by Idra’s palm, thrust out from besides him.
Subaru’s body flew through the air without resistance due to Idra’s enhanced push. However, through his inverted vision, he quickly realized that Idra’s push was the correct decision.
The monster’s shriveled fingers had struck the position where Subaru had been until just before.
The pavement and buildings along the way had been sliced vertically with terrifying sharpness, destroying the city; were it not for Idra’s push, Subaru’s body would have been sliced as well, possibly.
As it was, Subaru’s body continued to fly through the air with great momentum――,
Todd: [Tch! Don’t tell me it regenerated from its decapitated head.]
Todd grabbed hold of Subaru with his arm, reaching up from below.
Stiffening at the sound of Todd’s voice coming from overhead, Subaru was shocked by the meaning of his words―― to regenerate from a severed head, “You gotta be kidding me”, he muttered.
Todd: [Even though we crushed and crystallized its torso, it’s still moving! How is this possible!?]
Subaru: [I don’t want to admit it, but we’ve got to face the reality that it exists. That eerie appearance of theirs…]
Beatrice: [That’s because the formula for regenerating its body is bugged, in fact!]
Beatrice was the one who provided an answer to Todd’s question, holding Subaru.
She was wearing a look of frustration on her cute face, staring at the grotesque monster,
Beatrice: [Perhaps it’s the result of rejecting death from damage that should have killed it, I suppose!]
Todd: [――. In other words, it clings to its life even more than other zombies… No, since they already died, it might be more appropriate to say that they more stubbornly clinging to death?]
Subaru: [Ugh…! Beatrice! Idra! Hurry and save Tanza…!]
Idra: [I know! I know, but…]
In response to Subaru’s desperate plea, Idra gritted his teeth and raised his voice.
He shared the same concern for the injured Tanza. However, if they acted recklessly, they would draw the attention of the monster. It was already evident that the monster’s attacks could reach the Pleiades Battalion.
If even Idra were to fall, their chances of winning would vanish.
Subaru: [I mean, in the first place…]
Louis had been injured by the fragments, and Tanza also had suffered serious injuries that were clearly life-threatening.
The zombie that they thought they had beaten not only had not been completely defeated, but they had also transformed into a grotesque creature that stood in their way. This situation seemed as if they had entered a dead-end loop.
Subaru: [――Don’t be ridiculous.]
Subaru cut off the foolish thought that had briefly crossed his mind.
A dead end of fate, there were loops that could not be resolved no matter what one did. Todd, who carried Subaru, had even brought about such a situation before.
However, Subaru was there. ――Moreover, Subaru had been saved.
Even if he had given up on himself, he could not give up on everyone else.
Todd: [――You have a disgusting look in your eyes.]
Todd: [That’s the look of someone who treats their own life and the lives of others differently.]
Subaru switched gears with a loud sound in his mind. Todd muttered those words while looking closely at Subaru’s expression, but Subaru could not understand what was going through his mind.
There was no doubt, however, that disgust must have been seeping through.
Todd: [Let’s go.]
After saying that briefly, Todd kicked the ground strongly while holding Subaru.
And then, unbelievably, he turned his back on Tanza, Beatrice, and everyone else and made a beeline for escape.
Subaru: [Wha!? What are you doing! If we separate from everyone…]
Todd: [You’re the one who needs to look closely. That thing’s aim is the two of us, both you and I.]
As he said that, Todd leaned his body and jumped into a side road.
In that moment, Todd’s afterimage was grazed by a finger that seemed to pierce through the pavement, and the smell of burning air tickled Subaru’s nostrils.
For a moment, something flashed before his eyes.
It was that monstrous creature, its single eye glowing ominously, chasing after Subaru and the others.
Todd: [That thing’s target seems to be me, who killed it first, and you, who killed it the second time.]
Subaru: […hk! So you lured it away from everyone else?]
Todd: [When others are involved, you don’t think straight.]
With that declaration, Todd looked down at Subaru with his green eyes.
Held by him, Subaru was shaken, and as he was stared at by those icy eyes, he felt a fear equal to or greater than the approaching grotesque figure.
Even in this situation, Todd’s gaze towards Subaru was nothing more than appraisal.
Todd: [Can you think of a way to take it down without your partner?]
Subaru: [What if no way exists?]
Todd: [In that case then, although I hate it, we can do nothing but leave things to chance.]
Subaru understood that Todd did not really mean what he said.
Since they shared the same conditions of being targeted, Todd would use Subaru as a decoy and make a run for it if the situation turned unfavorable for him.
He was not doing it right now because the plan of using Subaru as bait to escape had a low chance of success.
Subaru: [――If there’s a way, you’ll lend me a hand, right?]
In response to Subaru’s question, Todd’s expression tightened again.
Todd skillfully used the obstacles to hide from the monster’s line of sight and evade his attacks. Meanwhile Subaru, while being carried by him, kept scanning his surroundings looking for a particular building inside the Imperial Capital.
It was the building that Idra had mentioned as they escaped.
He had come up with a plan besides the one to hit with Minya, but since he had no way to lure the enemy to the building, he had eliminated it as an option――.
Todd: [Can you do it?]
Subaru: [――I’ll do it.]
As soon as Subaru answered the question, Todd raised his eyebrows slightly in surprise, and then sneered with a cruel twist at the corners of his mouth.
Todd: [All right. ――I’ll follow your plan.]
――As he chased after his fleeing targets, the “Giant Eye” Izmail’s thoughts had shattered to thousands of pieces.
With flickering vision and scattered thoughts, his boorish movements were far from refined.
With limbs of varying lengths scraping against the ground, with instability akin to a newborn beast, as he was crashing into walls and against the ground, he stretched his hands, his fingers, out towards those backs that were growing distant.
The reason for his obsession over those two fleeing enemies, was something Izmail could no longer recall.
With the fact that it had once been Izmail already fading into oblivion, the grotesque monster grew new limbs from the cracks that it sustained every time it fell, continuously furthering its repulsiveness.
――That was undoubtedly the obstreperous behavior of the regeneration ability that Beatrice had pointed out.
However, after being resurrected by the will of another, those mutations occurring in Izmail’s body, which had been exceptionally estranged from the concept of death, were something that not even the caster would be able to control.
Achieving its goal, slaughtering the two targets of its obsession, what would become of the monster thereafter?
Eerily letting out hollow roars, that was something of no interest whatsoever to this monster.
The larger of his two targets was carrying the smaller one as they fled, and as soon as it seemed like he could seize their backs, they would pull away, and so the situation that forced him to repeat his unsuccessful strikes continued.
However, his opponents could not keep fleeing forever. Through continuing his unshapely sprint, limbs had grown all over his fallen body, to the point that Izmail could no longer fall.
And since he would not fall, it stood to reason that the one with more limbs would run faster.
Therefore, to his targets trying to escape, little-by-little, little-by-little-by-little-by-little, Izmail shortened the distance, shortening it and shortening it and shortening it――.
With a short roar, Izmail’s finger gouged his fleeing target’s back and shoulders.
Blood spurted, and a heinous smile appeared on Izmail’s face as he heard the screams of his enemy. It felt good. With incredible enjoyment, more and more blood, more and more screams, he wanted to hear.
Recklessly taking a turn onto another path, his opponents, unlike how they had been up to this point, gave off a sense of desperation.
Chased by Izmail, being caught up to by the monster, hating the idea of being torn to shreds, his targets desperately fled. Aiming for their limbs, especially those on their upper bodies, he would wound them.
If he aimed for their legs, his targets would no longer be able to escape. If that happened, then this would come to an end.
If it ended, he would be lonely. If it ended, he would be disappointed.
That was why, forever and ever, in order for it not to end――.
Raising a low war cry that caused the air to tremble, Izmail smashed into buildings and trampled the streets, kicking off the flooded ground in pursuit of his targets.
He closed the distance in an instant; perhaps the stamina of his fleeing enemy had finally been exhausted, and shedding blood, they clicked their tongue as they leapt into a nearby building.
With nowhere to run, they made the foolish choice to dive into a dead end.
Sensing the end of this hunting period, Izmail―― No, the monster that had ceased to be Izmail, tore down the closed door and slipped inside.
His limbs had multiplied, his body had swelled, and with a frame incomparably larger than his original body, he became unable to easily open the door and enter the building.
Then, entering the dim building into which his targets had fled, the monster looked around inside.
The sources of light were meager, but even if he had transformed into such a grotesque state, his special eye alone remained unchanged. With a blink, he switched the way he saw the world, and searched for the figures of his hidden prey.
As he searched, the monster realized.
――In the building it had entered, there was so much flour fluttering around that it was enough to stain the monster’s entire body white.
The darkness was not the only reason for his hazy vision, but also because the air inside of the building was filled with scattered flour. Looking around, he saw that the building was lined with shelves, and that each shelf had been lined with sacks filled to the extent of bursting.
Those sacks had been torn open and a large quantity of flour had been scattered throughout the building.
???: [The thing that beats you isn’t gonna be magic or a killer technique.]
At the same time the flour-covered monster had noticed the situation inside of the building, he heard that voice from behind. The monster turned around, and in his field of view, there was a small, bright-red silhouette.
It was one of the fleeing targets――No, at some point, the fleeing target had become just one person. Separated from the larger one, the smaller one that he had lost sight of now stood there.
???: [Eat this, the soul of science—— Dust explosion!!]
Right after that shout, the small figure’s surroundings were also all dyed red in one fell swoop――,
――A tremendous explosion blew away the flour mill, and the monster was engulfed by a bright crimson lotus.
Idra: [――Schwartz, look, let’s use that flour mill as a landmark. It’s the building with the waterwheel beside it.]
Idra, taking the non-combatants with him and staying vigilant of his surroundings while spurring on the Galewind Horse, was the son of a miller before he had been sent to the Gladiator Island.
Subaru had not known exactly what role a miller played, but he had been told that they used the power of a waterwheel to grind wheat into flour.
In other words――,
Subaru: [If we use the ingredients in that mill, we can make a dust explosion.]
A dust explosion was a phenomenon in which flammable powdery materials were scattered in the air, and when kindled, fire would spread in a chain reaction, igniting and exploding all at once.
In addition to the enclosed space of the flour mill, with a large amount of wheat flour fluttering about, if an incendiary material were dropped in with definite vigor――,
Subaru: […I had no idea it would end up being this powerful.]
Leaning his back against the battered wall, Subaru muttered while coughing.
In front of Subaru’s eyes was the flour mill that had been blown to grains by the dust explosion that was triggered, and the charred remains of the monster that had been engulfed in it.
The plan that had come to Subaru’s mind, at a time he and Todd needed to bait and defeat the monster together, had been to make a dust explosion using the flour mill.
Of course, a dust explosion was not something that was easy to pull off, and he had no confidence that he would be able to successfully lead his opponent there in the first place.
Therefore, it was not just Subaru’s strength that had made the plan so successful.
Subaru: […Are you alive, Todd?]
Blown away by the impact of the explosion, Subaru stood up, blinking his eyes while shaking his head.
After the division of roles, Todd had taken on the duty of drawing the monster’s attention and running away until the flour mill was ready, while Subaru snuck into the mill and spread the dust aptly through the building.
Then, upon seeing that the time was right, Todd would burst into the mill, and throw an incendiary at the place where he had guided the monster to. Todd had also been the one to prepare that incendiary.
Subaru: [Todd, Todd…!]
???: […You don’t have to call out to me so pathetically. I’m still alive.]
Subaru, who had been calling out to the area around the epicenter of the explosion, evidenced by the many embers that remained, heard a slightly hoarse voice; then, he turned to face in that direction.
Looking over, he spotted where the wall of the mill had exploded onto the destroyed street, coming to lay eyes upon Todd on one knee. Once he saw Subaru walking towards him, he spat out the saliva in his mouth and said,
Todd: [You nearly got me killed there, man.]
Subaru: […You’re making me look like the bad guy. After all, I told you it’d be very powerful, yeah?]
Todd: [An accident like this does happen from time-to-time, but when I heard the principle behind it, it made sense.]
As expected, Todd was breathing with difficulty as he fell back onto the street. Then, as he looked toward the blown-up mill,
Todd: [What happened to our opponent?]
Subaru: [He was blown away. Completely… Look.]
With that, Subaru pointed to a part of the blown-up monster that was just visible from their position. Then, a part that was seared by the embers crumbled like sand and lost its shape.
Like the dispersal of the other zombies, it was the result of completely crushing its regenerative abilities.
Subaru: [How are your injuries?]
Confirming that they had defeated the formidable zombie this time around, Subaru asked Todd a question.
In the division of roles, Todd had no choice but to play the role of decoy as he was able to keep running for a while longer, since they could not afford to be caught by the enemy. However, he had volunteered for the role himself.
It had defied Subaru’s expectations that Todd would absolutely avoid any plan that would endanger his own life.
Todd: [It wouldn’t make for a good story if I lost my life that easily while being unwilling to suffer fresh wounds. We both just did our required roles. Although…]
Todd: [I was gouged out pretty much everywhere. I feel like I’m missing a lot of blood.]
As he said this, Todd raised a hand, and it was clear that his injury was quite severe.
Although he had no wounds that could be called deep, his shoulders and thighs were soaked with blood, and his face was pale from the amount of blood that he had lost.
If left unchecked, it would undoubtedly endanger his life.
Subaru: [I’ll immediately――]
Go and call Beatrice, Subaru tried to move with such intentions.
With Subaru and Todd’s separation, Beatrice would have surely been left in a panic. But, he was sure that she would prioritize Tanza’s treatment.
Louis and Tanza’s safety was also a concern, so they needed to hurry to meet up with Beatrice and the others.
Todd: [――After all, if we’ve done this much, Katya won’t be able to complain.]
Todd: [We talked about this at the mansion, didn’t we? Because she seems to think I’m lazy. I helped us escape, defeated a really strong enemy, and even suffered honorable injuries. Don’t tell me you’re also going to take all the credit for yourself, huh?]
Todd said that with a shrug of his shoulders and a pale face that was drained of blood. For a moment, Subaru was taken aback before letting out a “Hah”, exhaling a weak breath.
Despite being in such a battered state, the one that still weighed on his mind was Katya. Perhaps he had also planned to untie Subaru’s mental tension, but either way.
Subaru: [Katya-san truly is important to you, huh.]
Todd: [That’s a given. She’s my fiancée. Katya is my very life.]
Todd declared this without any shame.
Upon hearing that response, Subaru took a deep breath, held it momentarily, and then by saying “Alright”, he fired himself up.
Even now, he was afraid of Todd. The things that man had done had left deep scars on his heart.
Still, the fact remained that they had cooperated to defeat that monster here. Even to the extent of getting completely battered, Todd had devoted himself to ensuring everyone, including Subaru and his friends, could get out of this alive.
If that was the case, then now it was Subaru’s turn.
Subaru: [Wait here… No, someone who heard the explosion might come here. For now, just return with me along the way. Once we find a suitable place, wait for me there.]
Todd: [Ahh, I understand. I’m counting on you, so please don’t leave me behind.]
Subaru: [I wouldn’t do that!]
Todd made Subaru think that it may have been possible to finish things without doing that.
However, even if Subaru’s position towards Todd had been a hostile one, he was unsure of whether he could have left him there on the verge of death.
Subaru: [No, if I overthink it, I’ll get stuck in a rut. Anyway――]
Even if he were to lend a shoulder to Todd, their height difference would make it difficult. Subaru looked around the blown-off mill, hoping to find something he could use as a makeshift cane.
Then, he found a support pole for a shelf that had been blown into the midst of the embers――
――At that moment, a hard sound rang out.
The moment the hard sound resounded, Subaru cast his eyes down and tightly clenched his fist. As his lips trembled, shoulders trembled in fear, and black eyes trembled, he muttered.
His question receiving no response, Subaru turned around as he exhaled.
Having turned around, before Subaru’s eyes was the blade of an axe that had been swung down, stopped just a hair’s breadth away from crushing his skull.
――For it was restrained by that which was visible to none but Subaru, the Unseen Hand.
Todd: [Tch, my bad, my bad.]
With a small click of his tongue, Todd released the axe from his hand and jumped backwards. His swift movements showing no signs of blood loss or injury, Subaru grit his teeth.
Even that had been an act. The pain from his injuries, the plea for help from Subaru, speaking of his feelings for Katya, which had softened Subaru’s heart, all of it had been just an act.
Three times, Subaru had fired off the same question, glaring at Todd with a face that looked like it was about to cry.
While glaring at him, he felt tears welling up from the overwhelming frustration.
Subaru: [Up until now, you haven’t done anything. You haven’t killed anyone. I could have even forgiven you!!]
Todd: [Quietly, you’ve slowly damaged my trust in you.]
Listening to Subaru’s screams, drawing a knife in place of the axe he had released, Todd readied himself.
That had been the declaration of the irreparable separation between Natsuki Subaru and Todd Fang.