… Fighting outside the royal palace, Vera looked on in surprise as the dead soldiers who’d broken through the window stopped moving.
Gripping gun in her hand, she looked around to see just what could have happened.
Her sweaty skin had several tufts of her black hair stuck to it. Getting her breathing in order, she sent a glance around to her sailors who held their guns in a similar manner.
“What does this mean? Could it be Lyle went and did it?”
Before the dead men that showed not a twitch beyond the window, she saw her troubled comrades. But a single Valkyrie barged into the room.
“Everyone prepare to evacuate. No, you will not make it in time, get out of there at once.”
Vera tucked her gun away.
The Valkyrie looked up at the palace.
“Everything was going according to plans, but things have gone somewhat awry. Master and the others are dealing with it, but we shall retreat.”
“What about Lyle and everyone else!?”
The Valkyrie left a moment of silence.
“They are alive. But this is an order. Perhaps keeping close will only be a hindrance.”
Unable to provide a certain answer to Vera’s query, the Valkyrie continued to evacuate everyone…
… A number of the large-scale Porters packed with people had already departed.
Damien had boarded one of them, and from the ceiling he could see the palace. To Damien’s side, old Letarta was there as well.
And the golems Damien manipulated followed along beside the porter. Over the creaking and shaking loading tray of that oversized Porter, Damien looked at the palace.
“I’ve got a bad feeling. It’s much too quiet.”
Letarta supported the bad feeling Damien spoke of. It seems he felt something as well.
“After those dead men suddenly stopped moving, we’re told to evacuate. This means something terrible’s going to happen, right?”
Baldoir climbed up from the loading tray.
“Evacuate and leave Lyle-sama behind, you say!?”
Clinging onto his hips was Alette. Alette was grabbing him and making sure he didn’t get away.
“Wait! I’m sure he’ll be just fine!”
“Abandoning my lord under such speculation…”
There, the three automatons near Damien noticed an aberration. Seeing the light coming from the palace, they stood in front of Damien, and readied their shields.
Damien lowered his hips.
Right after… when a white light blew the ceiling off the palace, that light expanded to cover the royal capital… the entirety of Centralle.
The moving fortress that had attacked the palace was blown away as well, and thrown into the air, it was right up swallowed by the light.
As old Letarta looked at the light, Damien’s Automaton Unit One opened her mouth.
“We’re crossing the ramparts.”
As the large-scale Porter leapt over the wreckage of the ramparts, as if to claim everything within the city walls, the white light shone through to the ramparts before they suddenly cut off.
Damien’s giant automatons protected them from the rubble raining down.
From the shockwave, the large-scale porter rose in the air a bit.
Once the light had subsided, a dust cloud assailed them. A strong wind of sand and dust.
As it all died down, they gradually secured their lines of sight. And the scene that expanded before them was what had been completely reduced to a mountain of rubble: the city of Centralle. The walls were lost, and only a portion of the royal palace just barely remained.
Damien looked at the something floating about the palace…
When I thought I had been swallowed up by the light, the shock died down, and I could look ahead.
Before my eyes, the Valkyries should have been there expanding their binders to contain the blast… but all that remained were their ankles, and a pink, knit thread swept away by the wind. A portion of it was burned, but Monica standing before my eyes took it in her hand, and carefully tucked it away in her apron.
As I looked around, the view grew clearer. The ceiling was blown off, the walls long-gone… the city of Centralle had been cleanly erased, leaving behind a space of scattered rubble.
And the cloudy sky had been opened up just above the royal palace alone; within the light that streamed through, floating in the air was Septem… Agrissa’s form.
She had grown even bigger since I first saw her, and her limbs looked as if they were completely protected by hardened skin of deep red. From her back, those horn-like things that protruded… their numbers had grown even more, and they had grown larger.
Floating in the sky, Agrissa looked down over us.
“I’ve misjudged my moderation. As expected of Novem. In order to protect humans, she stuffed memory… and records into her human body. Because of that, I feel I’ll regain my complete form. Well, it’s an ugly one, so I’ll take on human form eventually.”
She turned an eye to me.
“For I cannot embrace you looking like this.”
She said and laughed. With just a single attack, she had blown away a prominent city of the continent. Monica spoke to me.
“Our allies already finished evacuating. While they’ve escaped safely…”
I felt like I would burst into laughter.
“With an attack like that, it’s all the same no matter where they run.”
Agrissa had said she’d held back in that last attack. Flinching at its power, I affirmed my grip on the Katana’s hilt.
“… But even so, we have to stop her here.”
As I glared at Agrissa, she seemed delighted.
“When shown such a difference in power, you’ll still take a stand!? No wonder Novem took a liking to you. And I love those sorts of humans as well. But against me, you’ll only be killed, so… I’ll leave these ones to take you on.”
Looking around, I could see everyone holding up their weapons like me. The remnants of the Valkyries clenched their weapons in both hands as well.
However, it seemed Agrissa didn’t have the intent to keep us company.
“Perhaps one or two of you will die, but… well, if you die, then that’s just as far as you could go, is all it means. This is my favorite, try to beat him.”
Still in her gargantuan form, she made an imposing pose in the air as she snapped her fingers. Around… and through Centralle, as magic-circle-like things manifested, armored knights of bone… the undead began to appear.
But before our own eyes, fully armored with a large sword on his person… the origin of my name, the First’s grandfather Lyle showed himself.
“A doll? And the others around are summoning magic?”
There, Agrissa touched a hand to her mouth.
“I’ve no intent to create monsters like Novem. Those ones only hold such appearances as they strike more fear that way. They’re not really the living dead. Well, to put it simply… all of these ones are dead men. And it won’t go down as it did with Celes. I can call them forth in unlimited numbers. For in this world, the dead outnumber the living!”
I was surprised that they were all dead brought back. Around… the soldiers that filled and flooded the area around the palace made a commotion as they raised their weapons.
“You assembled a force of six hundred thousand. So I prepared one ten fold. Six million soldiers. As a start, they’ll sweep away the surrounding trash. I could just wipe them out myself, but it’s more fun to take my time.”
As Agrissa laughed, she seemed to be having fun from the depths of her heart.
“You’re just playing around!?”
There, Agrissa smiled.
“Yeah, so? Sorry. You’re all just too weak for me to take you seriously. But it’s no fun if you crumble either. Hmm, I’ll leave a tenth and regulate the population of the continent… no, the world. I just can’t wait to see how long it will take to reach ten percent.”
I gripped the hilt of my Katana, and as I took a step forward, Agrissa spoke. Touched her lips with her fingertip.
“I’m happy you’re looking at me so, but as you do your ancestor comes to kill you.”
As I abruptly directed my attention back down, the full plate knight with his greatsword thrust towards me. I was about to parry it with the Katana, when Monica pushed me out of the way and rammed her hammer against it.
“… Fu… tile.”
It was shocking to hear a dead soldier speak, but it was surely the voice of the Walt House ancestor I saw within the memories… that of the hero who vanquished Agrissa.
Monica unhanded the hammer. The greatsword cut it through.
From above, Agrissa spoke.
“Without any magic tools. A warrior of an era where gems weren’t commonplace. It was only natural for him to train himself. And he pushed his own Skill to the very limit, polishing his craft to reach the pinnacle of fighters. That man’s a strong one. For he was strong enough to kill me!”
I confirmed Agrissa wasn’t going to attack before slashing at my ancestors. Aria circled around and tried thrusting with her spear.
“… Fu… tile.”
As he said that with broken words, he swung his sword and took a full turn. Repelling my Katana, and repelling her spear.
Eva fired an arrow, and he grabbed it with his left hand.
As Eva cried out, Elza jumped.
“Then I’ll freeze him with magic!”
While arrows of ice rained down on him, Agrissa laughed from above.
“The past me excelled in magic. And he’s someone who took me down. This isn’t a matter you can just brush away like that.”
It was just as she said.
As he raised a war cry, perhaps he was raising his body enhancements to their limits as he brushed away Elza’s ice with his sword. The wind pressure, and it looked as if steam was rising from his armor.
When Gracia tried to prepare flames, he noticed, and closed the distance with her.
“He’s fast… Shuffle!”
I swapped Gracia’s position with Ludmilla’s, and their swords clashed. In regards to Ludmilla’s sword she could manipulate at will, he repelled her with simple, honest skill. Ludmilla tried to take distance.
“W-what’s with this one!?”
He had used Ludmilla’s attempt to take distance to reposition himself. He had brought Ludmilla right between himself and our support, preventing us from offering a ranged offense. This man was accustomed to battle.
Above us, Agrissa laughed.
“They appear in the world from time to time. He was a warrior with strong instincts by nature. Strong in his base state. And he had polished his power in order to defeat me. Exhilarating, isn’t it?”
I took out the silver gun and fired it at Ludmilla. The blue magic bullet jumped past her and hit him directly.
“… No good.”
He said as he parted from Ludmilla, this time aiming for Miranda who had Shannon nearby. As I swapped out Shannon with Aria, Miranda and Aria faced our ancestor.
“If it’s this!”
Miranda manifested strings from both hands and bound him. When Aria held up her spear and took a swipe…
My string-bound ancestor used brute force to swing Miranda into Aria. As the two were blown off their feet the strings disappeared, and this time I cut at my ancestor.
Catching my strike with his sword, he looked at my face.
Saying that, he kicked me in the stomach. The moment I was sent into the air, I couldn’t tell what he had done. My sword of tempered rare metal was shattered, and I was shot away.
Agrissa spoke up high.
“Manipulating a number of Skills is a sort of talent. But… devoting it all to a single Skill and taking it to its limits is also an art. He’s really strong, isn’t he? There are barely any of his type left in the world today, so maybe this is a fresh start.”
Just as Agrissa said, he was a type you’d be hard-pressed to find in the current world. Unable to supplement himself with Magic Tools, he was a warrior that fought only with what he was.
Perhaps all the warriors who fought Agrissa long ago were those sorts as well.
Monica came to my side.
“Chicken Dickwad, the army of dead men outside has begun to move. They’ve launched an attack on the allied armies.”
Ludmilla, Gracia and Elza were teaming up to attack the ancestor. Yet those three who were specialized to battle were being played with quite skillfully.
Meanwhile, Clara was conducting emergency measures on Porter. Apparently both its shoulders had gone strange during the impact. The Valkyries were helping her.
“There’s no way they can do anything about a ten-to-one difference.”
As I held my stomach, Aria, Miranda and Shannon raced over to me. I looked at the sky. At Agrissa’s chest, I could see Novem hang limply.
“Lyle, what will you do? You still have something up your sleeve, right?
As Miranda mentioned my ace, the First Generation’s final Skill Full Burst, Aria made a conflicted expression.
“If you use it to defeat the enemy before your eyes in one burst, defeating Agrissa up there will be difficult. And even Novem’s been taken.”
Aria looked up as well. Eva offered support to the fighting three.
I could feel the pain in my stomach recede. Rather than her own injuries, Miranda was prioritizing me and casting healing magic.
“No matter how you go about it, defeating that thing is impossible. She’s in another league. All the Mana all around is gathering to her, and obeying her…”
I stood from my knees.
“Even so, we have to do it. Having come so far, there’s no way I’ll let anyone become part of Agrissa’s collection. And I… still have something I have to say to Novem.”
Looking up at the sky, I reverted the gun back to the necklace, and gripped the Jewel.
Monica informed me of the outside situation.
“Battle with the dead army has commenced. May and Marina are with them, so our own army is able to buy some time, but a portion of the other armies have run away. In such a situation, I can only say they’ll crumble.”
Before a force of such numbers, the alliance was collapsing.
We had prepared for this moment, but I never thought a goddess who’d regained her powers would be this troublesome. I wanted to settle things before it came to this. As the leading power, I wanted to settle things before it collapsed. And as an individual, I wanted to defeat Celes and end it all.
Right, as an individual…
“Yeah, I’ll have to use my trump card.”
Saying that, I laughed only to get a few worried looks. I didn’t want to use it for personal reasons. If I used it, the Jewel would go back to being just a gem. And if I used it, all I’d built up to now would disappear.
On top of that…
“I really hate it… why do my Skills have to be so hard to use? The first one didn’t show any effect and yet it just kept stealing away all my Mana.”
Experience… a constantly active Skill that let one gain loads of experience. At the start, it had activated half-way, becoming a useless thing that accomplished nothing more than sucking my Mana away.
“To use Connection, you need to kiss first… what’s more, a deep one.”
As I turned bashful, Miranda smiled.
“And because of that, you’ve become quite skilled at kissing.”
Really, why do my Skills have to be so terrible? Could it be they actually hate me?
“… My last Skill has me lose too many things.”
There, Monica looked at me.
“I’d like to confirm it beforehand. For if you say there’s a need for you to throw down your life here, this Monica will forcefully choose the road that allows a damn chicken’s survival.”
Aria spoke with rage.
“Hey, you should think about Lyle’s feelings. You mean you’ll let Lyle live on as Agrissa’s little doll!?”
“If he endures even so, perhaps the chance will come one day. If I let the chicken dickwad die, I would never be able to forgive myself. I would never be able to look my fallen sisters in the face…”
I spoke to everyone present.
“No, it isn’t my life… How should I put it, in a sense, it’s like being dead, but what it takes isn’t life.”
Shannon looked at me and covered mouth.
“Then your memories!”
“… That would be infinitely better. Perhaps it would be best to just lost my memories of it all.”
Everyone looked at me with eyes that shouted for me to say it already. Ludmilla and the others fighting wanted us to hurry up with it. It seems their hands were full with containing my ancestor…
I stood and gripped the Jewel.
“What I lose is… my… dammit, I didn’t want to use it!”
Why didn’t I want to use it? There were two large reasons.
First off, my final Skill, ‘Forcefully brought about a single Growth’. Though my body wouldn’t go through the usual pain beforehand. However, as a penalty it held a condition of, ‘Never being able to go through Growth again’.
Honestly, I didn’t care about the latter part. The problem was if I used it, I would have a growth.
“Ah, goddess! All of you, don’t laugh! You definitely can’t laugh! If you laugh, I’ll hate you for the rest of my life!”
Saying that, I gripped the Jewel. The greater reason I didn’t want to use it was the second one, but I thought there was no choice but to use it here.
As the Jewel glimmered, a pale blue light wrapped around me, raising a wind. While Agrissa’s eyes narrowed, it wouldn’t take any time for it to activate.
“Ludmilla, Gracia, Elza… Eva, everyone stand down. Don’t raise a hand.”
And enveloped by light, I called out the final Skill’s name.
The final Skill…
A gentle breeze swept over the land.