Space itself was distorted.
It was like a landscape painting by a child, twisted beyond its original shape. Such a surreal landscape would not be real.
An illusion. This was the illusory perceptions of Sei and the others, caused by fear and the enormous presences of Ruphas and the Demon King. Space was not actually distorted. However, even if everyone present recognized this, it was no different from reality itself as the Black-Winged Overlord and the Demon King faced each other in this distorted world.
The hero was not even acknowledged in their eyes. They merely confirmed each other’s identities, completing a world that consisted only of themselves. The unfortunate hero who was sandwiched between them was an existence no different from a rock. As such, both sides ignored Sei and his companions, staring intently at each other.
“…I have waited a long time for this.”
Very soon, the man’s voice broke the silence. It was a deep and calm voice. Unbelievably, there was no sense of sharpness. Instead, it was like a young man who met his unrequited love.
“Unbelievably, this is the first time we met. Even so, we are familiar with each other. Therefore, this does not feel like our first meeting.”
The man spoke with the hero in between them. The Demon King was the archenemy of all humanoids, the pinnacle of demonkind, and the threat to the world. He was the manifestation of death and horror. The king of demons, who overwhelmed the Seven Heroes, continued speaking without reservation before the Black-Winged Overlord.
“Well, this may seem unnecessary now…Greetings, Alcor. I am Orm…Your people know me as the Demon King.”
“This is the name we have for you. It is certain death for us to encounter you. Out of fear, we call you Alcor, the star that brings death.”
His eyes narrowed in vertical slits like a snake as he gazed affectionately at his rival whom he did not battle in the past two hundred years. Before such a gaze, Ruphas remained unmoved and returned a fearless smile.
If the Demon King was a monster, she would be one as well. They could stand before each other as equals precisely because they were on the same level as each other. Thus, there was no reason to fear. Her face had the expression of someone in a position of strength. That was why she was not afraid. Or so others would think, but in truth, she was thinking: “What’s with this pressure? I should just smile through this.”
“It may seem unnecessary, but it’s good manners to return a self-introduction. I am Ruphas Mafahl, the being your kind calls the star that brings death.”
Although they knew each other, this was still the first time they met. It was weird, even funny, to call oneself by this hitherto unknown nickname. They were talking calmly on the surface, but the fight had already begun.
The Demon King, Orm, was using mental skills, which were negated by Ruphas’ equipment that granted immunity to abnormal statuses. On the other hand, Orm resisted her Coercion skill by virtue of his level. Both sides were using powerful skills. If it were not Ruphas and Orm, the fight would have already ended. However, this was just child’s play to both of them. Both sides understood that it would not be effective, treating it only as a simple greeting.
However, the hero and his companions, who were sandwiched between the two, were in a pathetic state. They were afflicted by Fear (attack power reduced) and forced to the ground by Coercion (movement disabled).
“Honestly, I didn’t expect you to take action personally. Are you really that afraid of the hero?”
“Don’t be a fool. There are only two people that I fear. One is the omniscient and omnipotent goddess. The other is the one before me, the star that brings death. Everyone else is merely dust.”
“So is this current situation beyond your expectation?”
“No. I expected this. I came here to meet you.”
What a contradictory statement. He said he wanted to meet despite being afraid. Ruphas prompted him with her silence. Orm continued:
“Ah, let’s be honest here. I was afraid of you. I wanted to avoid having a direct confrontation with you. I was frightened of fighting the star that brings death and the twelve stars that follow you as well as the heroes who gathered under your leadership. I feared, I was frightened. I thought of you day and night. I will not deny my cowardly nature. This is an undeniable truth after all.”
“Yet you show up so easily this time.”
“After you were gone, I finally noticed that you were the only being that existed outside the goddess’ scenario. I realized you are an existence that the world could not afford to lose.”
Ruphas narrowed her eyes at Orm’s mysterious explanations. Her expression suggested that she did not know what he was trying to say. No, not just her. Sei and the rest also could not understand what the Demon King was saying.
“…What do you mean?”
“Do you want to know? Then, use your full power and find out. Use simple violence, like you used to do two hundred years ago. Well, even if you refuse, I will still attack.”
Crack. Orm cracked his finger joints. In response, Ruphas slowly clenched her fists.
—And it began.
Sei and his companions felt it in their bodies, predicting the fight that was about to start.
Here and now, it was starting. The fight between the Overlord and the Demon King did not happen two hundred years ago. This would be a top-notched duel that nobody had ever seen.
“—How fearless! Then, let me grant your wish!”
“—Let me witness if the power of the star that brings death had dulled over the past two hundred years.”
Top: Libra, Virgo, Dina. Bottom: Ruphas, Aigokeros, Aries, Karkinos.
Top: Scorpius, Luna, Orm (Demon King). Bottom: Venus, Terra, Sei (Hero).
The air exploded above the heads of Sei and his companions, but both of them were no longer there. This was a speed that the human eye could not follow. The two kings fought in the air over their heads at an unrecognizable speed, repeatedly coming into contact and then separating. The battle was fought in the air.
Moving at a speed that the others could not follow, the two people exchanged countless fists using the sky as their stage. Blows after blows, all of them were advanced skills with the power to kill. There was neither a feint nor a dirty trick. All of them were great skills that could kill in a hit.
However, using such skills were as easy as breathing for both of them. They were fighting precisely because both of them were at the top of their games. Of course, they did not stop moving. In fact, they were in constant motion, flying around to each other’s blind spot.
Flying at a speed that could not be followed by an ordinary person, the two transcendent beings became flashes of light that ignored the laws of physics, turning at right angles, swirling, and testing out each other.
They are like light…Sei thought.
The crimson and black lights were surreal, flying around in the air like the dogfight scenes of a robot anime. This was what reflected in his eyes.
Ruphas seized an opening in Orm’s punches and struck him. A roaring sound like the explosion from a cannon was heard. This should not have been the sound of two people fighting. But by the time the sound was heard, it was too late. Ruphas was already flying high into the stratosphere, overtaking Orm.
This time, it was a kick. An explosive noise was heard once more and Orm crashed into the ground like a cannonball. At the same time, cracks stretched endlessly across the ground. As if it was an earthquake, the ground shook, collapsed, and crumbled.
Ruphas followed up and dived towards the ground. But at the same time, Orm flew up with a kick, sending Ruphas flying. Crashing through rocks, trees, and other things, Ruphas flew away from him. Immediately after, Ruphas, who was sent flying at an unknown speed, returned at an even more incomprehensible speed with an attack directed at Orm.
Orm struck with his fist once more. Ruphas jumped up to dodge the attack and landed behind Orm, striking with her elbow as if she was dancing. But it was ineffectual as Orm also struck out with his elbow to counter it. A roar resounded belatedly, sending a shockwave that spread three hundred sixty degrees around. Furthermore, the ground caved in to form a huge crater with the two of them in the center, uprooting the nearby trees with a shockwave.
The golems formed a wall around Sei and his companions, while Cruz raised a defensive shield. Even the winds from the shockwave were deadly to them. The defensive barrier shook unreliably as Cruz’s face distorted in frustration. Furthermore, some of the golems outside the barrier were reduced to dust.
“…As expected. This is the first time I experience a battle like this since the fight with the Seven Heroes two hundred years ago.”
“…Me too. You are indeed worthy of the title of Demon King.”
They laughed and slowly backed away while facing each other. To escape? No, it was for a running start. After increasing the distance, both of them kicked off explosively and charged forward.
With a running start, their strikes were more intense than ever before, shaking everything and changing the terrain with the shockwave. But the two culprits were no longer there. Instead, the air detonated high up in the sky. At the same time, the sounds like roaring cannons were heard, sending out explosive shockwaves.
All that remained were belated sounds and shockwaves. Sei and his companions could only understand that a fight occurred there earlier and that they almost died. This was the saddening result of their efforts.
Ruphas’ kick sent Orm flying towards the sea. Several golems shattered in his trajectory, while the sea split in two. Orm disappeared into the far end of the sea. But the battle resumed in an instant.
A few golems that happened to be in the trajectory vanished as Orm fired his magic, which cleaved its way forward and swallowed Ruphas. In time, it left Mother Midgard and broke through the atmosphere, vanishing into the other side of space. Yet Ruphas, who was engulfed by it, stood there calmly.
Ruphas’ knife-hand strike missed and ripped the earth all the way to the horizon. The wind pressure from Orm’s missed fist parted the sea. However, only the two of them could see the effects of their own attacks. Other observers could only notice the residual effects of the collisions and the shockwaves. There was no one to be seen. Their existences could only be inferred from the sounds of collisions and shockwaves.
Over and over, the sky exploded, the pathetic golems were destroyed, the trees uprooted, the ground caved in, and the sea was split apart.
This was supernatural. This was the ultimate.
It was abnormal. It was strange. It was an aberrant power.
This was not something that ordinary people could understand. They could not follow the pacing of the battle to begin with. High-ranking skills were unleashed like the rain. It was impossible to tell exactly what skills they were even using.
This was a battle between monsters. There was no other way to describe it. Ignoring the narrative of a heroic saga, the last boss A and last boss B just appeared arbitrarily and started fighting after acknowledging each other.
This was beyond understanding. It seemed that nobody cared about Sei and his companions, making them feel rather miserable.
“…What is that?”
Alfie muttered with a pale face. Her teeth were chattering and her eyes were unfocused.
This was what everyone present thought. There was no answer to the question, “What is that?” That was beyond reason, beyond understanding. It completely ignored their common sense. Therefore, nobody could answer the question. There was no possible answer to such a question.
“This is hopeless, isn’t it? …That kind of…You say we are to defeat…How? …It’s impossible to win…That kind of monsters…Hey, right?”
Sei looked and saw Alfie in tears. Alfie, who was strong and confident before the journey, was now a terrified little girl whose will had been broken. Yet who could possibly blame her? Who could remain calm in the face of this ridiculous battle?
“Such…Against those two monsters…What are we supposed to do?!”
As Alfie cried out in tears, the sky exploded once more. This was a battle at super-sonic speed. Both of them had compressed their bodily sensation of time so that they could simultaneously attack and defend as if time itself had stopped.
Of course, they did not actually use any skill (to stop time). If one could move fast enough to be in a state where time was infinitely compressed, it would be no different from having stopped time. The key would be to reach the level where one could move with full power as if time had stopped.
The sound had already vanished. The two people continued to battle each other in a silent world where even time had been left behind.
Dodge, being dodged; defend, being defended against; beat, being beaten; kicked, being kicked; shot, being shot.
Absolute defense, defense penetration; absolute accuracy, absolute evasion; single attack, continuous attacks, chaotic attacks; damage increase, damage reduction.
Divine magic, arcane magic; acceleration, deceleration; attack reflection, skill penetration; attack increase, defense increase, speed increase; attack decrease, defense decrease, speed decrease; buff, debuff; inflict stun, stun immunity.
Every constant (passive), normal (major), and counter (reaction) skills that activated was invalidated, skills that penetrated were defended against, and skills that avoided were offset. Even so, they continued to make deadly attacks without being able to land a decisive blow.
Ruphas twisted her body. With attack increase, defense penetration, and all possible skills, she prepared for a single strike. Compared to the ridiculous cannon-like attacks so far, this was an even more ridiculous cannon-like attack. In the end, the cannon-like aspect was no different. It merely increased in power.
Orm also turned his body, putting all his power in his right fist. This was probably a full-powered attack on par with, or even higher than, Ruphas’ skill. It would likely devastate the environment, but that was unimportant right now. The important thing was now, this moment of the battle.
—Collision. Even time began to shudder.
This was probably the most powerful attack released by two of the strongest in the world of this era. They collided with hesitation, undoubtedly shaking the entire world. At the same time, it released all the sounds and shockwaves that were contained in the compressed time.
Distant forests shook violently, causing panic among the animals. The seas raged, while the living creatures all over the world felt vibrations in the air. The ground everywhere ruptured. Avalanches happened on snowy mountains, while countless rocky hills collapsed. The shockwaves caused windstorms. Typhoon-like winds ravaged the entire world. All the remaining golems were annihilated while protecting the hero and his companions.
In a city that was shaking due to the earthquake, the vampires were agitated at the unknown cause. However, the girl who was their princess was unmoved. She sat gracefully on the throne, stirring the wine-glass containing fresh blood. Surrounding her were the corpses of magical beasts, which were minions of the eyesore lion sent for her head.
As if to announce that her rival was still alive and well, the world trembled in a wave of power. Although she was already certain, she could now feel the healthy state of her rival. At the same time, a surge of frustration came from her chest. Selfish jealousy burnt in her heart as if she had been abandoned by the other person who was playing with someone else.
Joy and jealousy…She was like a foolish girl remembering her first love. Pondering this, Benetnash glanced through the window. Who was fighting her beloved and hated rival?
In the wilderness, a single male muttered in a delightful voice. Surrounding him were the corpses of vampires. Vampires had a high level of immortality, yet these had been ravaged beyond their abilities to regenerate. The one responsible was the huge lion sitting on the throne in the center.
“I’m getting hard…Are you trying to charm me? Ruphas.”
His body was over one hundred fifty meters long, even bigger than Aries in his true form. His eyes were full of arrogance as if everyone else was merely prey. His muscular body had the flexibility of cats and the hardness of steel. His body hair was crimson red.
The reddish black, huge lion was currently drooling, desperately carving for the best prey in the world. The world shook. Feeling this waves of power was the ultimate seduction, stimulating his fighting spirit.
However, the desired opponent was not here. Oh, what a slaughter it would be. This was frustrating enough to drive one crazy. Unable to sate his fighting spirit and beastly appetite, Leon the Lion King took pleasure in feeling the shockwaves of battle.
This was no joke. Sei was shivering miserably from the shockwaves of the battle. It would be impossible to defeat these monsters. No, they were not monsters, but calamities. They were calamities in the shapes of people. Look, even the tiger had his ears frightfully lowered and his tail between his legs.
The two of them, who had finished a collision somewhere else, landed on the ground and stood as if they had not moved before the battle started.