Chapter 9 – Gluttonous World Tree II
Sylvird was in the audience chamber.
He did not sit on his throne but stood still by the window, so he could see the direction of Heim from this corner.
He saw the sky glow in the distance and felt a shiver run through his body.
“──A Jet-Black Sun”
The clouds that had been drifting across the sky of the royal capital of Ishtalika were also being drawn in, and their destination was like the light seen through a purple crystal. Even in the middle of the darkest night, it had an exceptional presence.
What was going on? What happened to Ain?
Of course, he was also concerned for Krone’s safety, but his neck felt cold at the sight of the unknown presence.
A few minutes later.
“Your Majesty! Please excuse me for this urgent matter!”
Sylvird replied, “No problem” to Lloyd, who entered without knocking on the door of the audience chamber, without making a single disgusted face.
His face was still turned to the sky outside the window in the direction of Heim.
“You have seen it, have you?”
“How could I not have noticed?”
Then Lloyd bent down on his knees beside Sylvird.
“The battleships that returned after the battle are already heading back out to sea.”
“Where are my ships?”
“Still in port.”
“Then send my ships out as well. That leaves only the Princess Olivia──”
Before he could finish, he saw something strange in his vision.
The jet-black sun in the sky over Heim cracked, and Sylvird did not miss the sight of something peeking out into the world.
“──What is… that… thing…?”
Even though it was supposed to be so far away, he recognized it.
His inorganic eyes, which showed no glimpse of emotion, seemed to smile happily when their gazes met.
◇ ◇ ◇
The situation near Krone had also changed drastically.
Flower monsters surrounded her, along with tree roots and ivy. The fruits of magic were also exploding, pouring down, again and again, trying to take her life.
But she was not taken, thanks to the veil of blue light. This became a barrier that blocked the attacks of the Gluttonous World Tree and was the last fortress to stop its full awakening.
The fingertips caressing his cheeks trembled slightly.
She was not afraid of dying. She didn’t want to say what she was afraid of, and she definitely didn’t want to reaffirm it in her mind.
…..It felt like there had never been a day that she cursed herself for being as wise as she was today.
A voice arrived from outside the veil of blue light. Drool dripped down the celestial sphere of the barrier.
Little by little, she felt his body grow colder.
Her facial expression trembled. The sensation of his lips dulls, and loss of heat attacked her eyes.
As tears dripped down her fingertips that caressed Ain’s cheeks, she held him close to her in order to warm his body. In this way, she feels extraordinarily comfortable.
In this way, she could feel his body temperature drop to the point of pain.
──The three people who had just rushed to the scene saw it and felt pain in their hearts.
But the group approached the veil of blue light with one possibility in mind. The Gluttonous World Tree interfered with them, but they fought it off with their slightly recovered strength.
“Both of you. It seems that what we need to do is not to keep Krone-sama away!”
“It would seem so──Misty. Was this part of your plan?”
“It can’t be! If I had known that, I would have planned my strategy with that girl in mind!”
On the other hand, Krone was unaware of the arrival of the three.
Tormented by an impatience she had never experienced in her life, she directed her gaze only at Ain’s face, or more precisely, she directed all of her senses only at Ain.
…..She knew this without having to be told by anyone else.
It was easy to guess what had happened to Ain, as the Gluttonous World Tree had been strangely active for some time now.
Tears flowed unceasingly from Krone’s purple crystal eyes.
She wiped and wiped and wiped until her eyes were red and swollen, but it didn’t stop.
“I will never waste any more time again…..! Absolutely, absolutely, from now on, I will….. always be honest with you…..!”
She clung to him for the first time. She had never clung to anyone in her entire life.
She hugged Ain’s face tightly and pulled her cheeks together as she cried.
“Hey….. wake up…..”
The one who responded to the grief-stricken voice was not Ain.
The veil of blue light cracked. The whole fury of the three protecting her, taking advantage of the gap, attacked to take her life.
But the weeping Krone was not afraid, and with tears in her eyes, she looked sharply at him.
She would never, ever let them devour him.
◇ ◇ ◇
The Gluttonous World Tree, whose hands were trembling with joy, smiled softly.
He said to Ain, who had turned immobile, “This is what it means to be one,” and looked around at the world on the verge of complete collapse.
The will of Ain’s main body had already collapsed. This world would soon disappear.
It was supposed to.
With a look of incomprehension on his face, he stared at the edge of the world.
The Blue Fire Rose had withered away without a trace. He had surely won the game.
“He must be dead, but why hasn’t this world gone away?”
No matter how much he thought about it, he could not find the answer. Without knowing why, the Gluttonous World Tree turned around and looked at Ain, who had fallen.
“No way, not yet.”
Wasn’t he dead yet?
“…Gahh… Guhh… Ahh…”
A cough in place of an answer and a voice in pain.
His body… didn’t move.
He couldn’t open his eyes and didn’t know what was happening to him. But Ain was not dead yet.
“──I can’t help but be amazed. Even though the power just now unleashed outside, it could have annihilated this entire continent. I didn’t think a single person could have killed you.”
He tried to move his fingertips, but it was of no use.
The sound of the world tree approaching made Ain impatient, but he couldn’t budge.
His whole body was discolored black, but this was not scorching. He was cursed and eroded by the magic of the Gluttonous World Tree.
As he pleaded, the Gluttonous World Tree stood beside him.
Holding the black sword in his opposite hand, he aimed at Ain’s forehead.
“I am even proud of your strength of mind.”
Ain could not move, nor could he speak softly.
It was supposed to be a body just waiting to die.
“Hey….. wake up…..”
It was her voice coming from the pitch-dark sky.
The Gluttonous World Tree opened its eyes, stopped its hands, and looked up at the sky where the voice came from.
(Is she near me?)
He thought it was impossible, but he could not dismiss the voice as an auditory hallucination.
If possible, he wanted to be sure of that much.
He would have to open his eyes and look next to her, and if she were there, he would have to reprimand her for coming to such a dangerous place.
──If I can move my body, that means that I can still fight.
With the current situation where he couldn’t even blink at will, let alone move his fingertips, it’s all just a picture.
“Out of respect, I promise I will not send you away.”
The tip of the black sword was held in the opposite hand.
It was aimed at Ain’s neck and swung down in a straight line──.
“What… is that light…?”
The tip of the black sword was bounced off by the veil of blue light that enveloped Ain.
The only thing was, it shattered immediately.
It protected Ain’s body from being pierced only once, and immediately. But it didn’t disappear just like that; the piece of azure light melted into Ain’s body.
“What happened──no, there’s no need to worry about it.”
Never mind, just kill him.
There’s nothing left to protect, so just swing the sword down again, and it’s over.
He moved his hand, which had stopped in surprise, and thrust the black sword towards Ain’s neck once more. But this time, his own body was drowned by the wind of silver light.
Warmth rushed through Ain’s entire body from his fingertips. The blood color returned to his skin, his wounds healed, and he repeated the correct breathing.
The words “I can still fight” appeared in his head.
He reached out his hand fearfully and grasped the changed Ishtar tightly.
He raised his upper body without worrying about the Gluttonous World Tree that had receded, and as he stood up with Ishtar as his staff, the sword blade of Ishtar cracked open, releasing a silver light.
The changed blade quickly regained its original brilliance and shimmered with silver light.
The whole body was clothed in a high spirit no less than that of the hero king.
The jet black covering the sky and the jet black covering the end of the world were pushed back by the light and wind.
“I can still──fight.”
“…I wonder where you got your vitality from, but still, your end is near.”
“It doesn’t matter. I just have to defeat you before this world collapses.”
The Gluttonous World Tree frowned in front of the high spirits and strong will that was being released.
There was no need to be hasty. Darkness was covering this world once again. He only needed to buy time, and even his earlier attack could still be unleashed.
When he came up for breath, his victory would be unassailable.
The Gluttonous World Tree reiterated his confidence.
“No matter, I will congratulate you as much as I can.”
Will he make that sound again?
Seeing a jet-black ball of light born in midair, Ain stepped low.
The situation changed drastically from earlier when Ain rushed to unleash a slash.
With the first swing, the Gluttonous World Tree caught it with a smile on its face, but its expression immediately changed.
The second strike, this time, he avoided it without catching it and moved away from it.
In the third swing, it no longer looked like he was running away from Ain’s sword.
“I don’t understand. I don’t know where you got this much power──.”
The world of Ain, which has almost collapsed, was the physical strength left to Ain as it was. The sky was now clear, but the place where it collapsed was still covered in darkness.
Even so, Ain’s movements were more aggressive than at the beginning of the battle.
It was not a case of coming back to life. He was boasting of his physical strength and swiftness, which were far superior to when he fought Gail at the Great Temple.
“Are you really going to surpass that man?”
“Yeah! I will surpass the first king and defeat you right here, right now!”
Blue-glowing magical power overflowed from his body. Ain’s arm followed the movement of waving the Ishtar, creating a number of illusory afterimages that boosted his body. The combined magical power of the silver light carved a number of unhealed wounds on the body of the Gluttonous World Tree.
──The power of the demon king’s inevitable destruction was revived.
The power of the hero king, which Ain, who had lost most of his power to the Gluttonous World Tree, was not able to handle, hunted down the Gluttonous World Tree with the same──or even better special effects that Gail used.
Just snatch it, just be near it.
This alone was enough to drown out the magic, and the sensation of being drowned out by the magic disrupted breathing.
Even if it avoided Ishtar’s swing with its fluid footwork, it found itself with a new wound.
“Are you saying that I can’t see through──?”
A blue afterimage.
If observed carefully, it could be understood.
It could not follow the image with its eyes.
The eyes looking up at the heavens were invaded by impatience, and the fact that the jet-black ball of light had not fully expanded made it click its tongue.
Ain chased it down with one swing and then another.
“If this is a joke, it’s not funny!”
“Joke? I’m serious!”
“Kuh──you’re even more annoying! How many times are you going to get up? How many times do I have to cut you?”
“I will get up again and again! I will not give up until you fall!”
“Oh, I hope you know that’s what bothers me the most!”
Then the time came.
The jet-black ball of light was filled with power and expanded.
The sound of a hymn echoed through the air, and tension flashed across Ain’s face.
“Even I have no intention of giving up!”
To satisfy instinctive hunger, they must become one.
What it wanted was violence──that surpassed anything else.
To eat the world, power was needed.
“I will bless you again!”
The Gluttonous World Tree opened its arms and flew away into the sky.
The jet-black sphere cracked open, and that light was released.
“This time, it will come to an end!”
Ain stood there, Ishtar in hand, ready to greet it.
He was different from before. His body was filled with power.
Ain held Ishtar in the upper position──.
Just before the jet-black glow reached his body, he swung down with a roar.
The wind of silver light became a whirlwind.
A furious fire rode the wind from the sword blade and met the jet-black glow.
The power of the Gluttonous World Tree, which brought curses, did not reach the earth this time.
The glow was blocked in front of Ain’s face, in opposition to Ishtar, which was being swung down.
“What a sight you see! If it were impossible, I wouldn’t be here….. anymore!”
The mass of power that could destroy a continent, as it was said.
It was an anomaly to direct such a threat at a single individual, Ain, and he was right to do so. Ain, who received the threat, proved it.
The Gluttonous World Tree was not letting its guard down.
“Haha….. hahaha! Brilliant!”
The Gluttonous World Tree smeared a slight relief on its face.
Arrogantly from above Ain’s head.
“Only, unfortunately, not enough, it seems!”
While the world tree exuded relief, Ain’s body was slowly retreating.
The silver light that was struggling was also pushed, and finally──.
The shock that rushed through his entire body caused the air to instantly escape from his lungs.
The curse, which could not be fully erased, touched his body. Every part of his body turned black. The well-groomed face was also dyed black in no time, but the silver magic power overflowing from Ishtar purified it in the blink of an eye.
“…..Are you saying you endured it?”
Ain knelt on one knee, using Ishtar as a support. It sounded painful, but on the contrary, that’s about it.
It may be misleading to say that he had regained his power since he still could not use his skills, and he knew that the bulk of his power was still under the control of the Gluttonous World Tree.
(But it doesn’t matter.)
I can fight, I can lie in these words. I could say that nothing else matters. He said.
“But what needs to be done remains the same. I will bless you again and again! I will embrace you again and again until you can’t get up!”
“I will get up as many times as I have to.”
Ain was able to withstand the earlier attack, but he was aware that he was completely worn out. He just hid it and had no leeway.
On the other hand, what about the Gluttonous World Tree?
Although it was surprising and impatient to see Ain come back to life.
(He still had plenty of leeway.)
As he was thinking of finding a way to get out of this situation, he received a jolt. He felt pain in his hand on the ground. When he turned his head, he saw a single Blue Fire Rose.
(Had it escaped from the light?).
It was not destroyed by the power of the Gluttonous World Tree but was still shining its beautiful radiance toward Ain.
Even at a time like this, he couldn’t help but smile.
As he stroked the petals, he saw something glowing under the Blue Fire Rose flower.
When he reached out his hand, he found a pale blue magic stone that had fallen out. It was the magic stone of the first queen, Raviola.