“What’s with this mass of arcane energy!?”
A whirlpool-like mass of arcane energy, not unlike the aura that Billy had unleashed earlier, surrounded Lina.
Even Lina, who had invoked this Link Magic, was amazed by the divine glow of her body.
Billy also had no idea what it was — he had never known that the physical state of Ultimate Limit even existed.
Only one individual here knew: the individual who had been in this very state before, during its fight to the death with Asley.
That individual was… none other than Bathym.
[Now is your best chance, my host! That girl can hold out until your body recovers!]
[This is the state of Ultimate Limit. It enables one to easily invoke magic — even the most complicated of spells!]
“Easily… invoke magic…? Aha! Swift Magic!”
Hearing what Gaston just said, Lina understood everything by intuition — what this strange phenomenon was, and how to make use of it…
“Everyone! Lend me your support! All Up!”
In the blink of an eye, Lina cast a complicated enhancement spell — which should have taken much longer to prepare — for Barun.
Witnessing something so inexplicable, Billy was taken aback.
“How!? How could such a complicated spell be invoked so quickly!? I couldn’t even see the formulas coming together… It’s like Swift Magic! What in the world is this mass of arcane energy!?”
Inside Gaston, Bathym was surprised as well, but for a different reason…
[–What a nostalgic aura.]
[And you won’t believe how quickly I managed to draw its whole Circle! Really, I’m even surprised myself.]
[hOW DId you even MakE A wHOlE BoX out OF A SMAlL sHiElD MAgECraFT?]
[With basic maths, that’s how. Just think about it — box has six sides, cast Unyielding Bulwark six times. The rest is just reinforcing the seams with energy to keep them together.]
[HoW COUld a foOL LIke yoU…!?]
[Stop calling me a fool already, dammit! I’m trying, all right!? I’m trying!]
[–I see. The young man, Asley… None of his efforts have gone to waste.]
Through Gaston’s eyes, Bathym looked and muttered.
Fragments of Bathym’s memories were connected together by the energy from the Key Pendant, until the entirety of them was fully reconstructed.
He shed tears — either Gaston’s tears, from understanding Bathym’s heart, or Bathym’s tears, from regaining its memories. Or perhaps, both… He clenched his right fist and wiped those tears away.
“Holy World! Transient Blades! Vortex Wing!”
Lina was brilliantly shining, and dancing like a fairy.
Taking advantage of the recoil from her previous spell’s invocation, she landed near Hornel and set up a Giving Magic spell for him.
“”This is the culmination of the bonds the young man has formed, and entrusted to Lina…””
Baladd and Maïga unleashed Zenith Breath attacks, Fuyu rode on Platina and supported everyone, Barun and Ricky attacked from long range — all to allow Lina the best performance she could pull off.
“–You know, Master, you’ve been saying ‘well done’ a whole lot today. Are you actually getting to that age now?”
“Wha–!? Konoha!? Didn’t Viola take you away!?”
“Hahahaha! Well, if you die, so would I! So as a Familiar, it’s my duty to be with you to the very end, isn’t it?”
Gaston was surprised to see Konoha appear on his shoulder, but Konoha seemed carefree as ever — or at least, the most carefree it could manage to be. Without doing this, a relatively Familiar like Konoha would have already gone insane, overwhelmed by the powerful arcane energy in the air. Moreover, Konoha’s statement had another meaning…
[Your Familiar has chosen to die here with its Master… Well? To have someone so resolved to follow you in death… it’s a precious bond you have forged, isn’t it, my host?]
“…That’s some big talk, coming from a little mouse…!”
Gaston said, his voice trembling.
Then Konoha said back, eyes trembling,
“You silly old fool…”
Meanwhile, Gaston could feel a clear decline in Lina’s arcane energy.
[She won’t hold for much longer. And while Billy can’t move now, he’s carefully preparing his arcane energy for a counterattack.]
“Always so cunning, that guy…”
[The moment Lina’s energy surge stops should also be when we regain our power. That split-second will decide the side that wins this battle.]
“Hmph, a young man gets to live forever, while I have just a few moments left… Ironic.”
[Hah! God has already given me — the soul of a Devil — much more time than I deserved. You could say that it’s the strangest thing to ever happen to his world!]
“Well, the fight shall be decided–“
[–In the blink of an eye!]
As Gaston widened his eyes, his exhausted comrades came into view — and with them, the miraculous trail of effort that they had dedicated.
Billy, knowing that the barrage on him had stopped, cracked a grin. Gaston was determined to finish things once and for all, even if it would cost his life.
[Time to finish this.]
Hearing Gaston’s ominous monologue, Billy’s eyes and face stiffened up.
Gaston started drawing a Craft Circle. It burned and radiated heat, scattering sparks of hellish flames that burned even its own caster.
What Billy was witnessing now was the most powerful fire that Bathym had ever created — more powerful than what had been used against Asley thousands of years ago.
Konoha shouted, and at the same time, Gaston stopped his fingers for a moment. Instead, he spoke up,
“”Was it like this…? Rise, A-rise, A-rise… Heavenly Inferno.””
The Craft Circle, in honor of the Chosen One, was truly sublime.
The dazzling flames engulfed Billy in an instant.
Billy’s body was enveloped in a flaming light — and then turned pitch-black.
“”Impressive… He managed to draw the whole thing uninterrupted. I see now, God. This is it… a form of happiness above all else. It is what fills this man’s life!””
Seeing Gaston bleeding all over, Konoha silently closed its eyes and shed a single tear.
At this moment, Konoha realized…
Gaston’s flame of life had already been exhausted.
Everyone cast their eyes down. Lina and Fuyu wept, and Barun bit his lip.
Even Maïga, sitting beside Hornel — and Platina, Ricky, and Baladd — surely would never forget the man standing before them.
This man had set his very soul ablaze, in a bid to save them all.
His was Gaston. The Great Mage of Flame, and the most powerful mage of the Duodecad.
On his shoulder, his Familiar Konoha kept silent.
With the Master’s life lost, the Familiar’s time was running out.
“Now, it’s time to head back! We have paperwork to take care of!”
The mouse said, forcing out a smile.
It hopped down from Gaston’s shoulder, and instead stood on the chest of the still-unconscious Hornel.
“What are you waiting for? Don’t look so depressed! We have to hurry back — Viola’s probably worried! Come on!”
Lina covered her face with her hands, while Fuyu broke down crying. They did not answer — because they could not bring themselves to.
“Great… You two are such crybabies!”
Konoha’s voice — and face — started to contort in grief as it crossed its front legs and tried to look grumpy.
“Is Sir Gaston… really…”
“SHUT UP! NOT ANOTHER WORD!”
Konoha interrupted Baladd.
“He won’t die! My Master won’t die! He… he’ll…”
At last, Konoha’s emotions were too heavy to hold in. They took shape, into drops that rolled down the mouse’s face.
Everyone else was the same — shedding endless streams of tears.
Such was how much they respected Gaston — the man they wept for.
“–iF yoU mIss hIm ThaT much, tHen HOW ABoUT I SenD yOU tO whErE he is…?”
A voice interrupted them — a voice that should not exist anymore.
The owner of that voice was supposed to have been killed moments ago.
Doubting their own ears, everyone looked in the direction of the voice — behind the still-standing body of Gaston.
There stood the Devilkin, who had suffered severe injuries and burns.
A sense of dread ran through everyone’s minds — the fear, the despair, had yet to pass.
“This… this can’t be…!”
Konoha cried out in a trembling voice.
Lina uttered, eyes full of tears.
Wholly unconcerned, The Devil — Billy — opened his mouth wide.
Fuyu’s wishful words were instantly thrown away to the wind.
The blast of light — of a breath attack — obliterated the body of the man who had just saved them.
Konoha screamed as its Master’s body faded away together with the light.
Billy, finding Konoha’s voice now to be quite pleasant to the ears, cracked the kind of grin that the Devilkin would. He happily met Konoha’s glare, filled with murderous intent and hostility.
“Do you not remember what I was called?”
Billy proceeded to say, but no one answered.
The only resistance they could put up now was… a rejection of Billy and everything he stood for.
“Holy Healer Billy. HEALER.”
Billy started drawing a Spell Circle. So quickly and so beautifully constructed, this Circle reminded everyone that the element of light fell not only on the side of good.
“High Cure Adjust.”
Despair filled the air, and inched in closer with every passing moment.
They could not bring themselves to look at the sky because they realized… that there was no hope left.
Still, hope would descend upon them — from the very sky that they rejected.
After all, this tale was for God to tell… and for someone else to weave.
And the greater the one who weaved it, the grander the heights it would achieve.
Billy looked up at the sun in the sky.
He noticed a tiny dark spot on it.
Before long, that spot became a silhouette, forming a clearer shape. Then it moved away from the sun, revealing something… truly legendary.
It was a legend that arrived with a flash of light.
In one moment, it disappeared from Billy’s sight, and in the next, it landed on the ground.
Lina, Fuyu, and Barun recognized it — and so did Hornel, as he opened his eyes.
They all recognized the unique sound of its howl.
They believed in the Familiar that had this very howl — and also in its Master.
Lina looked up, clinging to what little hope she still had as she turned her tear-stained face toward the voice.
“What do you mean, ‘perfect’!? That totally came out weird!”
“Here we go again… Cut it out, you two.”
What Lina was seeing now… was not the one she had hoped to see.
“Shut up, you two… I’m not done yet!”
“Ugh, great. Do you REALLY have to do it? This is why you’re still a little kid after all these years!”
“W-well, we’ve never managed to stop him, so…”
“Hmph, I followed father’s arcane energy trail here… But he’s nowhere around. I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.”
“But of course. We aren’t meant to meet him yet, after all… Bit the aura itself does feel nostalgic…”
“Hmph! Just get to the fighting already! The enemy isn’t going to stand there forever!”
It spread its wings.
Its silhouette, its colors — a living legend.
…If one were to ignore the out-of-place accessory it was putting over its eyes.
“You sure have been taking good care of those sunglasses.”
“Hmph, I am a hero of justice, after all.”
“I just wish you’d start acting like one as well!”
“Give it up. It’s not like he’s ever listened to us, anyway…”
The living legend took a deep breath. Then he swelled up his dark violet body and shouted with all his voice,