ANNOUNCEMENT: CHE SERIES IS DROPPED!

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    [Didn’t I tell you not to get into trouble like this? Just where do you think your sense of danger has gone, acting so recklessly…]

    [No, Father, Your Majesty. Although I suddenly died like this, I still protected Delcross from the threat of the demon realm!]

    The brat even pouted as if he’d been wronged. He hadn’t even finished half of what he wanted to say, but now that he’d grown a bit, he knew how to argue against his father’s scolding.

    As Nate opened his mouth to say more, a certain scene suddenly flashed through his mind.

    It was the sight of the outskirts of the Delcross capital, shrouded in black smoke. Part of the residential area was completely shattered, and casualties could be seen here and there. The Knights of St. Gracia were visible, carrying out rescue operations.

    On one side, the Knights of St. Marcias and St. Aurelion were together battling against giant moth-like monsters. The odds were in their favor, but the damage to the knights was no trifle either.

    And far in the sky, an ominous hole wrapped in a black whirlwind could be seen. From that huge open black hole, an immense number of moths kept flying in.

    The vision ended in a fleeting moment.

    This was the brief illusion created by Nate’s premonition. The catastrophe that surely would have occurred had his son not intervened.

    Once aware of the anomaly, Nate would have returned and shut that gate, but the damage that would have occurred in the meantime was not something even he could ignore.

    In the end, he had no choice but to say with a disgruntled face,

    [That… you did well.]

    Hmph. Seeing his son’s face instantly turn confident, Nate realized he had completely missed the timing to scold him.

    Feeling somewhat deflated, his eyes fell upon the small soul his son was holding. Now reduced to a trivial appearance, that ominous red-flickering thing was undoubtedly one of the wicked beings that deserved a thrashing. It was likely the very thing that had dragged his son into this mess.

    However, as he had done initially, Nate decided to ignore that irksome thing this time as well.

    When his son, who had been ill with a fever not long ago, entered the audience chamber, the moment Nate first saw him, he could sense it. That worthless thing would remain by his son’s side even in the distant future.

    —I pray you do not blindly trust your premonitions.

    The man, Cornsheim had said that, but that old man would never understand.

    Some of those premonitions were not mere foresight, but an inevitable future that must come to pass. That child’s path would continue to embrace wicked beings alongside him.

    [Can you tell me what my soul looks like now? How did you know I suddenly died?]

    Unaware of Nate’s tangled thoughts, the brat threw out difficult questions with an innocent face, chirping away. This clueless thing.

    Moreover, it seemed they had lingered too long at the dimensional boundary. Suddenly, an unpleasantly sticky gaze sweeping over them could be felt, so Nate swiftly added another layer of barrier to his son’s soul.

    It appeared they had caught the attention of one of the unsavory beings that occasionally coveted this place from the outer realms.

    After the two connected primal worlds separated and the dimensional wall weakened, those things would sometimes gaze this way with eyes full of greed, as if looking at an exceedingly appetizing meal. However, the fiends who seemed ready to charge at any moment would poke around the boundary a few times before meekly returning.

    Perhaps they were simply waiting for Nate, who stood guard against them, to die. Their concept of time was difficult for him, a human, to fathom.

    In any case, he had to send his son back first.

    [Go now. Don’t make Masain worry too much.]

    Surely that boy was blaming himself this time as well. That stubborn fiend shouldn’t be too shocked.

    Nate once more impressed the designated location for his son to return to upon his soul.

    [Return, [Morres].]

    And you brat, let yourself get hit just once. There’s a limit to making people worry.

    He flicked his son’s forehead, imbuing it with his own feelings.

    Thwack.

    Guh. The brat’s soul vanished in an instant, heading toward Delcross.

    After watching the direction the child had flown off for a moment, Nate soon drew out Nutcracker in his right hand and quietly waited. Because among the sticky gazes sent from afar, multiplying one by one, one fiend was flying toward the boundary at rapid speed.

    The pressure bearing down upon his soul grew heavier and heavier.

    Before long, a black smoke-like substance began rising around Nate’s soul. No, with its sticky and heavy texture, it was closer to mud than smoke. It steadily increased in volume, then soon began pouring out as if to fill the empty boundary.

    Groooooan.

    Following that, an eerie resonance, perhaps a moan or a sigh, began to shake the boundary. Whatever its confidence, the fiend was directly gracing this place with its presence, even pulling along part of the hell it belonged to.

    Nate spread the light enveloping his soul a bit further, pushing away the surrounding mud. Then, as if finding it ridiculous, a phlegmy laugh rang out. Hahahaha.

    In an instant, the scenery before his eyes changed. The surroundings had become a vast and deep cavity enclosed by black walls.

    In that immense space of unknowable end, Nate’s soul appeared as nothing more than a single shining dot.

    The black walls were covered in finely wriggling protrusions that looked like cilia, but upon closer inspection, each one was a soul, starved to the point of being hideously emaciated. It was part of the hell the fiend had dragged along.

    The fiend was a vassal of [Famine].

    Soon, part of the wall before Nate split open, and a giant black octopus-like being covered in tumors revealed itself. It was wriggling its thousands of deformed legs, a gruesome shape that dealt a blow to the soul just by looking directly at it.

    Hahahaha. As the deformed octopus laughed once more, the tumors densely covering its body trembled.

    [Are you the king of this place? I was always curious, as He had His eye on you. But though you possess the caliber of a king, are you not still human?]

    Indeed, upon examination, it seemed to think it was quite worth a try. The laws of cause and effect were also ambiguous at the dimensional boundary, so it could pull up its main body without burden. That was why it had excitedly rushed over with its original form, not just its spiritual body.

    He was a bit tired from fitting his soul under the rules of the primary world for the past few days, then escaping from there again. However, he wouldn’t be looked down upon by the likes of this fiend.

    Nate smirked and gripped the Nutcracker. But the fiend’s next words caused his face to stiffen instantly.

    [And what was that soul just now? What a pity, sending it away in such a hurry. Was that not also a young soul that looked extremely delicious?]

    Slurp. The sound of the fiend licking its lips greedily was conveyed without filter.

    Nate’s eyes grew cold. He was involuntarily reminded of Kaien, left behind in the western mountains.

    He had intended to lightly greet the guest who barged into someone else’s home, but now the thought of sending it off nicely had vanished.

    As he aimed his sword straight, the fiend let out a scoff in disbelief. Of course, at that light laugh, the walls of hell shook and the bound souls screamed, “Groooooan,” but…

    [To think you would charge at me with a mere spiritual body, not even your original form! Moreover, that spirit has yet to shed the lowly human habit of wielding a lump of metal! How utterly ridiculous!]

    The octopus fiend spread hundreds of its thousands of legs to the walls, dragging its massive body outward while sneering.

    As the fiend said, without his original body, Nate’s greatest weapon, aura, was tricky to use.

    Of course, if he put his mind to it, pulling aura all the way here wasn’t entirely impossible, but he was currently too far from Delcross. If he drew power here, the entire continent would instantly fall into an aura-depleted state.

    However, by leaving his body behind, Nate also gained other options.

    This was the boundary between dimensions. Even if he borrowed some unfamiliar power and caused a bit of a ruckus, the impact on the primary world would be extremely minimal.

    Once his decision was made, execution was simple. A small red dot appeared at the tip of his sword, gradually growing and beginning to envelop the Nutcracker. It became an ominously glowing red blade, extending its length until it reached dozens of meters.

    […!?]

    The being did not know.

    To Nate, swordsmanship was not some inescapable human limitation, but merely the most efficient way to move power.

    Swish. The quietly swung Nutcracker drew a red line in the air. A long line that sliced through many of the fiend’s legs, including one side of the hell’s wall it had opened.

    Kwaaang!

    And the aftershock surged forth. The fiend’s severed legs flew everywhere, and souls were pushed away up to dozens of meters on either side of the line, temporarily creating an empty space in the wall of hell.

    [Wh-What?]

    The octopus fiend looked at its severed tentacle legs in bewilderment. It seemed it never imagined there would be a power that could so easily ignore the caliber of its main body and penetrate it.

    Seeing the dumbfounded fiend’s appearance, Nate suddenly recalled the reaction of Balthazar, the commander of the Imperial Guard, when he first demonstrated this technique with aura. The stern old man’s eyes had grown as wide as saucers as he stuttered. Nate involuntarily grinned at the memory.

    Back then, the knights, who had only focused on increasing the intensity and range of cutting, were astonished to the point of fainting at the idea of launching the aura blade and detonating the aura as is. In a sense, aura explosion also signified a lack of proficiency in aura manipulation.

    Now, even Masain could imitate it to some extent, so it had become a familiar technique in the palace.

    However, just now was excessively wasteful. Perhaps because the nature of this power itself had a destructive tendency, it seemed fine to conserve strength a bit more compared to when using an aura blade. Should he further reduce the width?

    Swish. The subsequently swung red light had thinned to nearly finger-width. Instead, its length was far greater than before, reaching hundreds of meters.

    Kwaaang!

    A long gash appeared on the fiend’s body, and the hideous tumors on its wounds all burst open at once. To the extent that one side of the hell’s wall had been sliced through, creating a gap.

    Through that open gap, emaciated souls began flowing out, screaming, “Aaaaaaah.”

    The deformed octopus finally seemed to realize the gravity of the situation. It swiftly extended its remaining legs toward Nate and shouted,

    [Why? Why do you wield the [Calamity] of the vanished world?]

    [I borrowed it for a bit.]

    I had the authority because there’s a necessary task. Separating dimensions can’t be done barehanded.

    Hundreds of legs with terrifying strength were swung at Nate. It was an overwhelming force that would instantly crush any ordinary soul with a mere graze, but to him, it was an extremely inefficient and self-destructive attack.

    In fact, the fiend’s legs were smashing the very hell it had summoned. To the point that there were far more souls being crushed and vanishing after being struck by the fiend than by Nate’s attacks.

    If each of those legs had been wielded like the sword of a trained swordsman, even Nate would not have been able to face the fiend so easily.

    Anyhow, since the other side was wasting strength, this side should conserve a bit more. Let’s try drawing it out as thin as thread.

    A [Calamity] line, so fine it was nearly invisible, came into being. This time, it was of tremendous length, reaching hundreds of meters.

    Its power would not be very satisfactory if detonated as is, but there was no form more efficient for holding and swinging it. Nate swung that slender and long sword to his heart’s content. The fiend’s approaching legs were all severed, and the walls of hell began to shatter along the sword’s trajectory.

    Before long, the deformed octopus completely lost its strength and slumped down. The passage of hell it had summoned was already largely destroyed, mostly resummoned, and only fragments of the walls remained, supporting its body.

    The starving souls clinging to the walls of hell were directly exposed to the chill of the dimensional boundary, unable to endure the bitter cold, and began freezing and crumbling one by one.

    The octopus’s appearance was truly wretched. Most of its legs had been sliced off, and the tumors on its surface had all burst, oozing pus. It seemed like a rotten, collapsing pumpkin settling down. What was thought to be a large tumor blinked like an eyelid, shedding pus-like tears.

    Should he finish it off? Nate gripped Nutcracker and pondered for a moment.

    However, what made him hesitate were the multiple gazes observing them from beyond. Particularly the gaze of [Famine], who had sent its vassal for amusement and was quietly spectating.

    Eyes waiting for something to happen. Was it perhaps hoping he would draw more of the [Calamity] and lose balance? Or was another trap hidden?

    Right then, a scene flashed before Nate’s eyes.

    A blood-red sky and a black earth covered in mud. Amid thousands of tentacles pouring down like rain, a sudden upsurge of dark red flames.

    Within the storm of terrifying power sweeping away everything around it, the steadily growing flames eventually transformed into the shape of a giant sword, and the blade exploded as is.

    The deformed octopus’s legs and countless tumors burst, unable to withstand the scorching heat.

    This time, even Nate was truly astonished.

    The one to completely finish off this fiend someday was not Nate himself.

     

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