The underground labyrinth rumbled as if it was alive.
For a moment, I forgot the pain from the curse. It was very obviously not a natural phenomena.
The shaking might stop if I wait, but when I think about the possibility of Senri being buried alive, there’s no time to waste.
Looks like this was unexpected for Lufry and Neville too. They’re wary of both me and the direction of the power while enduring the shaking.
As I glared at the floating Lord, he said timidly.
‘There was enough time. The array is already half-destroyed so, the ritual is not perfect.’
Well, you can’t help something that has already happened. The ones at fault are the Death Knight duo.
I can feel the power whirling. The power rising from the center of the underground labyrinth was stronger than anything I had seen before.
Undead can absorb the power of death.
A part of the erupting power is flowing into me, but most of it, the torrent of the power is gathering in one point.
I have a bad feeling about this.
Dessend had perfect vampire countermeasures. If the whole ritual was arranged, the resurrected creature will not be my ally. I must hurry up and do something.
For the time being, I stressed that I was harmless.
“It’s because of you two. Even though – I was thinking about stopping it!”
“What did you say?!”
Escaping is the priority. The exit is far above.
I’m confident that I’ll be fine even if I’m buried alive, but Senri and the others should be different. I can Leave Lufry and Neville alone, but I must make Senri escape at all costs.
I hesitate for a moment. Severe pain runs through my body, as if it had just remembered to.
I pour in blood power as hard as I can, ignoring my body’s complaints about pain.
Pain, as if I’m being dismembered into small pieces, runs through my whole body. I can feel my soul tremble.
Neville’s glistening eyes perceive me and clearly distort.
“Gh… what’s, going on…?!”
I became a vampire, fought with various strong enemies and attained the truth.
The power is – size. The overwhelming mass and physical abilities are what you can rely on the most when push comes to the shove.
There’s not enough time to return to the exit we used to get here. In that case ―― I’ll force my way through.
My skin tears and my bones are crushed. The clothes I am wearing are torn to shreds.
Perhaps, using power while under the influence of the curse was too much as expected, the pain that ran through my whole body was on the level that it almost made me, ready to do anything in order to survive, cower for a moment.
It was almost as if I was burning in the fires of hell.
The black dog Albertus transformed into had a monster-like giant physique. But the amount of blood power I can pour in is incomparable to that.
My body swells up to fill the underground passage that’s not even very wide to begin with. I bump my head into the ceiling and my forelegs that enter my vision are like pillars.
Lufry and the others take a few steps back. Death Knights, who once left me as just a head, look almost like ants. It’s a real pity that I can’t trample them like real ants.
I have no physical sensation. All I have is pain.
Only the most extreme pain, no less than the soul-consuming pain I once experienced on the verge of death, is about to engulf my consciousness.
I rebuke my tangled tongue and say quietly.
“Uu… Sen, ri… under me-“
I didn’t have enough time to confirm her reaction. I shook my body, inhaled air in my lungs and roared with all my might.
My body is about to burst. I can’t perceive my own roar as a sound. The vibrations of the air swept over the underground labyrinth like an explosion and I saw Lufry and Neville be greatly blown away.
The durable underground labyrinth is no match for a giant monster. Even Rainel could easily destroy his castle.
The crumbling debris hit me, but while it could kill me when I was bedridden in the past, right now it’s like dust to me.
I entrust myself to my instincts. I kick off the ground, raise my forefeet high and jump straight up.
The castle that stood there calmly for many years, shook.
The walls and pillars, which had been protected by powerful magic, were showing a sign of deterioration from the rain and wind. The air was cold and there were holes in the ceiling.
Everything was the fault of those damn humans. The castle where the great Mirage King ruled fell into the hands of the humans and turned into ruins.
The army of the King that was once feared by humans and demons alike, was destroyed and was now only mentioned in fairy tales.
The innermost part of the old castle. In the place which used to be a throne room, stood a single shadow.
A black robe inlaid with golden decorations. A deeply covering hood.
The long cane held in its hand resembled a bishop’s staff and the black crystal ornament inlaid in it was exuding a somewhat suspicious aura.
Hands were extending from its loose robes. Its fingers, grasping the cane, were black and dried up like a mummy.
The figure raised its voice. The dried voice mysteriously passed well through the violent rumbling.
‘O King… this time has finally ―― arrived. Ahh… how long was the wait.”
The staff hit the floor. Mana went around the nearly collapsing array.
Suddenly, its hood came off.
The exposed head was jet-black enough to melt into the darkness. Its skin was dry and a faint red light was burning behind its empty eye sockets.
It wasn’t only bones. However, it wasn’t a body with flesh and blood either.
An undead species that accumulates enormous amounts of mana by remaining as close to death as possible for eternity.
A variant of the Skeleton lineage.
The undead that’s rarely seen anymore due to the great efforts of the Order of Death Knights.
A Night Lich, who was once the confidant of the Demon King, Avicord, looked up at the heavens with deep emotions.
It was an almost unbelievable era.
Many of the Demon Kings that reigned all over the world had perished and most of the Necromancers that once existed as many as the stars were exterminated.
The warfare had decreased and magic that was once used even by ordinary people had become something that only very limited talented people set their aims on.
And above all – science. The power of science easily replicated many things that people once used to create with the power of magic.
Silver jewelry became a commonplace and the holy water that repelled darkness turned into a mass-produced product. Dessend was the countryside but he had heard that darkness was on the verge of completely disappearing from even the capital.
The years had greatly changed the world.
The once rivaling forces of the Order of Death Knights had grown more powerful through generations of studying, the tragedies had decreased and the fear of the darkness had diminished in the people.
Avicord was just an insurance. The King did not consider the defeat at all.
It took time before he resurrected — before the earthquake woke Avicord up, who was sleeping underground.
It took even longer until the preparations for the ritual were complete.
Resurrection required an enormous amount of the power of death. However, there was no warfare in the vicinity.
Who would have imagined that the era, so full of wars and death, would end?
Things had to be done carefully. Even Avicord, who could use magic, could not fight against the Order of Death Knights.
He took over a town. He lured necromancers by using fragments of his master’s power as bait and gathered death.
He was so close. One more year and he would be able to resurrect his master in perfect condition.
It was probably not a coincidence that he was noticed by the Order of Death Knights at this timing.
There is no light without a shadow. The Order of Death Knights and the Mirage King were two sides of the same coin.
They will always appear at the time of the Great King’s birth. That is how it was destined to be.
But he made it in time. Avicord’s duty was the resurrection of his King. Anything other than that was trivial.
The whirling power of darkness was revolving around the castle that was once built as the place of the ritual.
It was a close call. A part of the magic circle had been destroyed but it had enough power remaining to create a new body for the king. Now that the things had come this far, nobody could stop his resurrection.
Avicord felt an unstoppable torrent of emotions. It was a rare occurrence for an undead with weak mental impulses.
The vibrations were the first cry of the king. The dearest wish of the king, who possessed unparalleled power, and was therefore lonely, was fulfilled by the hands of Avicord.
“W-what’s this ――”
At that time, a small voice reached Avicord, as he narrowed his eyes and shuddered, recalling his past glory.
“… Just trash, huh.”
Needless to even look back. That voice belonged to one of the mercenaries that Avicord had ordered the Mayor to gather.
From the way they clung to the wall and stared at Avicord in dismay amidst the violent shaking, it was impossible to see the heroism of the mercenaries with whom he had exchanged blows with many times during the great era of war.
The quality had greatly fallen. To cut the long story short, that’s what it was.
When the wars decrease, power becomes useless. The demons had been exterminated due to the development of human civilization――the biggest offender being guns.
There was no such weapon during the era when the Mirage King reigned.
It was a terrifying weapon that enabled murder even without power. If they had a silver bullet that could exorcize demons, it might even be possible for an infant to kill Avicord.
It was much weaker than magic, but surpassed it in matters of convenience. However, for a powerful undead guns wouldn’t become a threat unless they were very careless――
After thinking that much, Avicord sighed deeply.
“But – trash like this is useful in their own way.”
Avicord couldn’t move carelessly. It was the power of the hired mercenaries that gathered the power of death.
He didn’t remember their names. They had been replaced many times ever since the preparations had started so he couldn’t bother to remember the names of humans.
The mercenaries finally talked.
“Kh… who are you?!”
Although he hadn’t mastered necromancy, Avicord’s magic was stronger than the magic of any mages of this era. The modern mercenaries that didn’t possess the power of magic weren’t even a competition.
When his King finally resurrects, he would need a new army. Even the bones of ordinary people could be of some use.
He lifted his staff. As he sharpened his will without saying anything, countless black arrows appeared in the air.
It was the corrosion magic. It was also the magic that had once greatly contributed to the King, in a sense that it could corrode blood and flesh, producing beautiful bones.
At that point, the face of the man in lead was distorted in fear for the first time.
Such a late reaction made him feel irritation before derision.
The men didn’t even try to run away from the released arrows.
The moment the darkness that came flying in was on the verge of eating the mercenaries – the castle shook remarkably violently.
The arrows were blocked by somebody who suddenly appeared from the floor. A huge piece of debris, flipped up by a giant, crushed right next to Avicord.
By that time, Avicord had already released a second wave.
He raised his staff high up and pointed it towards the black wall that had just appeared.
A skilled mage could use magic as easily as breathing. The burning arrows that appeared pierced the black wall one after another.
At that moment, Avicord’s eye sockets distorted for a bit.
The fire arrows, magic that manifested scorching heat that was impossible for humans to bear, disappeared on its surface.
It was a rivalry. Magic could be erased by stronger magic. Therefore, Avicord had ordered excessive measures against it.
A monster that carried an ancient curse that could overpower all sorts of magic. The natural enemy of mages.
Those who possessed many weaknesses yet still reigned as the symbol of the darkness.
A burning emotion that surpassed the impulse he had felt before the King’s resurrection moments ago, scorched Avicord.
“Vampire… will you get into our ways again?”
The giant black monster skillfully used its forefeet to climb up the half-destroyed floor.
Its bloody red irises shone with fighting spirit. Its pupils constricted and it looked down on Avicord.
A voice that sounded like it was echoing from the depth of the earth enveloped Avicord.
“That’s, my, line. But… this is the exact opposite of the usual.”