Chapter 299, The Soul’s Vessel
“Hello, hello! How have you been, Sir Gaston”
His appearance seemed to have not changed at all since years ago, but his arcane energy had gotten much stronger than when he was among the Six Braves’ ranks.
That much was clear to both Gaston and Billy.
The Alphas reacted to Barun’s arrival, with many of them running toward him as soon as they detected his presence.
The only one their Master had forbidden them from attacking was Gaston.
Barun was not exempt from their list of targets.
Barun kept smiling in the face of the gathering Alpha horde, showing that he was perfectly calm and collected.
Four of the Alphas leaped at Barun, who proceeded to swiftly dodge him, looking as if he had just phased out of existence and in again.
The moment that the others around him saw anything was when he pulled out his dagger — which no one had even noticed before now that he had been carrying in the scabbard on his back.
The Alphas, stabbed precisely in the head by the magic-imbued dagger, collapsed without a sound.
The other Alphas, surprised by the sheer strength wielded by someone so young-looking, stopped dead in their tracks.
“Hmm, he’s made good progress.
The last time I saw him, he was getting close to Dragan… but now he’s almost as strong as Charlie.
He’d put up a good fight against you, don’t you think, Gaston”
Billy directed his attention from Barun back to Gaston.
“What’re you saying I’m nowhere near Sir Gaston’s level yet.”
Billy noticed Barun shrugging behind him.
“Barun, we’re counting on you…!”
Gaston’s voice, talking over Billy, certainly was heard by Barun.
It was without doubt that Barun had gotten stronger.
Nothing was a match for him on this battlefield… except for Billy and Gaston.
He could not measure up yet, however, to the top of the Six Archmages who had never stopped surpassing themselves…
Barun himself understood that.
His role here was to provide support — which meant, in this case, to get everyone out of this battlefield.
“Ricky, go help those guys out.”
Barun whispered as he looked in Hornel’s direction.
Answering him, Ricky — the red-furred Spicy Money — appeared from the collar of Barun’s shirt and ran off, gigantifying while rushing to Hornel’s side.
Barun looked at Gaston for a moment, then proceeded to run toward Lina.
“You seem surprisingly calm, Gaston… Why didn’t you have him join our fight as well”
“Hmph, I know you know why.
You never even really looked away from me…”
“Right, first of all, I’ll deal with you.
Barun comes next.
I ought to destroy him as soon as possible, too…”
“What What are you on about”
It was only natural that Gaston would ask.
He could understand why Billy would kill him, but it was suspicious why Barun would be mentioned by name as well.
Billy did not reply, only mumbling things to himself,
“So he’s the Monkey.
It’s a good thing that he came to me himself — and I see that the candidates for the Dragon and Tiger are here as well.
I’d better get rid of them all while I can… Hehehehe…”
Billy chuckled to himself, quietly yet creepily.
Meanwhile, Gaston made his next move.
After taking a considerably long time to draw up a Spell Circle, the spell he cast was a physical enhancement spell, the special formula of which had been obtained from Tūs’ teachings.
“Oh-ho, isn’t that a spell you learned from the Philosopher of the Far East Seems like it made you quite powerful…”
“We never told anyone about Master Tūs, but I suppose you already knew, huh”
While he spoke, Gaston plucked Konoha from his chestpocket and placed the mouse down on the ground.
“Whatever’s coming next is too much for you to handle.
Go to Fuyu now.”
Konoha looked down, spending a moment saying nothing before quickly running over to Fuyu.
“Saying your last goodbyes Good thinking.”
“No, I don’t think this will be the last they see of me… Konoha believes in me.”
“No, they won’t see you anymore.
Gaston… You will die.
Billy’s eyes glowed with a suspicious, purple, flame-like light.
Exploiting the opening during Billy’s monologue, Gaston managed to cast a physical enhancement spell on himself, but could not actually find an opening to attack at all.
The reason was that under Billy’s feet was a Craft Circle, packed with even more complex formulas than those of Gaston’s magic.
“Hmm! Whatever are you planning with that thing!”
“Cry and beg for mercy all you want, Gaston, but I will never stop.
I will destroy you and everything you stand for…!”
A gust of chilling wind blew from Billy’s direction as Gaston braced himself.
Billy muttered, invoking the Craft Circle under his feet.
It was the same magecraft that Tzar, Familiar of War Demon Emperor Sagan, had told Asley to prevent at all costs during their battle against Cleath back in Faltown.
Asley had managed to stop Cleath from pulling it off, but this time–
“You’re… summoning a Devil!”
“So you knew about this magecraft.
The one drawback of it is that it consumes a great deal of arcane energy, which is… fair, considering that it calls the Devilkin into this world regardless of whether or not the Devil King’s influence has encroached over it.
But I have found a way to overcome that difficulty — and that is by becoming a Devil myself!”
Another gust of wind hit Gaston, though this one was a different, piercing cold.
Even Gaston could barely keep himself standing.
Amid the frightfully powerful, violently rampaging arcane energy, Billy’s appearance gradually changed.
He turned red, then darkened further until his whole body was jet black, and all the while, his muscles bulged up, ripping apart all his clothes.
Eventually, Billy was so large that Gaston had to look up to properly see him.
What was more surprising than Billy’s mutated body, however, was the overwhelming amount of arcane energy he now had.
The power spike was so sharp that whatever much he had before seemed like a drop in the bucket.
Fuyu, Lina, Hornel, Viola, Jeanne, Barun — and even the Alphas, the creatures on Billy’s side — were all intimidated by Billy’s mere presence.
“What’s wrong Too scared to even say something Hehehe…”
“……I never thought your thirst for power would be so disgustingly bad…”
“Oh-ho, so you can still speak… Well, don’t expect to die so peacefully, Gaston.”
“Don’t expect to kill me so easily, you little **–“
Gaston shouted, but was suddenly cut off.
He stopped all movement.
Billy’s gigantic right fist was planted into Gaston’s abdomen, and his left hand was holding Gaston’s back, so as to prevent the latter from being blown away by the impact.
Gaston opened his eyes wide, debilitated by the shock.
The pain that soon followed was worse than anything he had ever experienced.
“Sorry, I didn’t quite hear you…”
Billy proceeded to kick Gaston up.
In mid-air, Gaston tightly gripped his Damascus Rod, practically his lifeline now, and forced himself through the pain to utter out,
“High Cure Adjust…”
The spell’s invocation removed all injuries from Gaston’s body, but the impact of the hit had been too great that the pain still lingered.
[…Ugh, I might’ve taken too much physical damage…!]
“You know that I’m not about to stop now, right”
Billy, as if to pay Gaston back for the combo from before, jumped above Gaston and threw a heavy, arcane energy-infused strike at his back.
Gaston flipped over and attempted to block with his staff.
The result was as bad as one would expect — the Damascus Rod was destroyed.
The weapon did not absorb the entirety of the blow’s impact, either, causing a great deal of pain to Gaston’s shoulder.
During Gaston’s descent, a mysterious voice echoed in his head.
He barely managed to land on his feet, but Billy did not stop giving chase.
Gaston dodged the incoming attacks while also attempting to escape — a sensible choice, going by his training and experience.
He managed to avoid the first few hits… but the following combo, he could not keep up with.
Forced to take some blows while dodging others, Gaston’s form grew more and more awkward as he struggled to minimize the damage taken.
Up against the Devil-transformed Billy, Gaston was not much more than a source of amusement for the latter.
He sustained more and more injuries, his body quickly falling apart.
“Hahahahahaha! It feels so GOOD…”
“Ha ha hah… Guh… Ngh…… Gah–!”
At this point, Gaston was full of wounds and coughing up blood.
The mysterious voice echoed in his head once again.
[So very unfair, don’t you think]
He had no time to pay it any attention, but he was sure that he was the only one hearing it.
It was not quite the same as a Telepathic Call, but those words were surely being transmitted directly into his head.
Gaston managed to start drawing a Spell Circle again.
Billy laughed, seeing his opponent’s fingers shivering.
“Hahahahaha! How unsightly!”
And now, the voice caused something to happen.
Gaston’s fingers, in the middle of writing the last formula of the spell, suddenly stopped.
It was neither physical force nor arcane energy.
He was being stopped by some inexplicable force of will.
“Hehehehe… Looks like you’re at your limit…”
Billy stepped forward.
[That formula won’t hurt him]
“What in the… are my fingers moving on their own”
[Was he worried that this would happen As interesting as he is as an individual, I don’t quite appreciate being drawn out deliberately… Assuming that he thought I would no longer keep quiet after being beaten down by my own kind, of course — Although, as much as I don’t want to admit it, he may be right.]
“Where’s this voice coming from…”
[Observe carefully, my host.
This is how you properly wield fire.]
[Once, there was a Devil who engaged Holy Warrior Poer in a duel to the death.]
Billy had taken the magecraft under his feet with negligence, thinking it to be nothing.
That was the first complacent move he had made on this battlefield.
The magecraft was one that Gaston did not have in his arsenal, but regardless, it was so powerful that the transformed Billy was now down on the ground, thrashing around in pain.
[And in the end, that Devil was defeated…]
“What… did I just do”
[…But not killed.
The Holy Warrior refused to deal the finishing blow.]
“That magecraft…! I’m sure I know it! Could it be what I think it is!”
[Instead, the Devil took its own life.
Its soul had no place to belong.]
“I’ve heard of it from Lady Ishtar! That magecraft was wielded by a former associate of the Devil King–“
[That was me… A Devil, but a noble one now, from a certain point of view.
One that had its soul accepted by Gold Himself.]
“You’re the only Devil who had disappeared from the Realm of Darkness shortly after the final battle–“
“”I am the Devil that wields the flames of hell itself… No Devil can match the heat of my fire.””
An eccentric voice left Gaston’s mouth.
“”My name… is Bathym.””