After passing through the X-Gate, the Ark arrived on the dark side of the moon. The moon had been crushed by Aigokeros, but this wasn’t the same moon as the one of their world. This was the moon of the Earth in the other universe.
Looking at the blue planet from inside the Ark, Virgo let out a sound in admiration and joy.
“All that's left is for us to believe in her and wait, huh…? To think that we’d be excluded due to our combat power at the very end of the end.”
Castor muttered and clenched his fist. The regret that he felt was a common feeling among everyone who had been left behind, including the Twelve Stars and Terra. They were prepared to go through whatever battlefield that they might have to traverse together. They were prepared to give their lives. However, the battle had reached such a high level that they couldn’t even stand on the battlefield, so now they could do nothing except wait here. In particular, Leon was more upset than anyone else, since he had absolute confidence in his own power.
“Dina, can you predict how the battle will end? After all, you’re the only one who knows the true power of the Goddess.”
When Libra asked Dina for her opinion, everyone’s eyes turned to the latter. The only person who really knew the Goddess was Dina, since she was a manifestation of the Goddess herself. Despite feeling uncomfortable about it, Dina revealed what she knew.
“If…If you were to write the level and status of the Goddess down here, you would be writing a string of nines that would reach the end of the universe and then circle back. Her power is simply that immeasurable.”
“In other words?”
“If it’s via a normal method, it’d be impossible for anyone to win. That’s the reason why that person is the deity.”
As Dina made her declaration, Scorpius grabbed her collar. She was exerting so much force that she was almost strangling Dina. However, Libra quickly pulled Scorpius off.
“Stop joking around! Ruphas-sama can’t possibly lose!”
“…That’s why I said, ‘If it’s via a normal method.’ The method that Ruphas-sama is using is by no means normal.”
Dina gave a slight cough and tidied her collar. Meanwhile, Libra passed the overly excited Scorpius to Leon, who restrained Scorpius with a disgusted look.
“Assimilate the universe, which is the product of the magic of the Goddess, and then use it to stand in the same realm as her…This is the method we came up with, even though it can’t really be considered a method. There was no weakness or even a strategy that we could use against an existence like her. There’s no convenient loophole that we can exploit to defeat her… Even if it comes across as unrefined and crude, we have no option but to overwhelm and defeat her with pure power alone.”
It would have been great if she had a weakness that could be easily exploited.
For example, it could be something that could be destroyed in order to severely weaken the Goddess. Or it could be a convenient item that could temporarily suppress the power of the Goddess. Or it could be a skill that could somehow kill only the Goddess. Or it could be a sword that had immense killing power against the Goddess…If something like that existed, the chance of victory would surely increase.
…Nope. There was no such thing.
She wasn’t perfect. In fact, the intelligence of the Goddess was somewhat disappointing, so she had a lot of openings. It wasn’t difficult to deceive her. But even so, she was the strongest being who stood above all. She was so strong that those shortcomings didn’t even matter anymore.
“Th—Then, Ruphas-sama can win!”
“…The chance of victory isn’t all that good. At best, it’s about zero point one percent, I think?”
Aries made an optimistic evaluation, but Dina responded by ruthlessly stating the facts. The Goddess wasn’t such an easy opponent. That was the reason Ruphas had to exploit bugs. By becoming a bug in the world, she was able to break through the system and gain the right to challenge the Goddess.
However, having the right to challenge her wasn’t the same as obtaining victory. Only when one was standing in the battlefield against her would one truly know the fear of facing the deity.
“Even so, I still believe. She has always exceeded my expectations. So all I can do is say ‘Welcome back’ when she returns.”
And if Ruphas was defeated, she would share the same fate as her. With that resolve, Dina had devoted herself to fighting alone for two hundred years. She had done everything that she could.
The baton had already been passed. There was nothing else that she could do. All she could do was bet everything on her victory and wait.
If she lost the bet, she would also perish…but that wasn’t a problem for her. After all, it was what she wanted and something she had decided on her own will. Even if she couldn’t accompany her onto the battlefield, her life and fate were still tied to Ruphas.
“Cleave it away, Selection Scales—Brachium!”
The torrent of destruction unleashed by Ruphas countered the hypernova explosion from within. Time itself no longer existed here, so it was no longer restricted to being used once per day. The swirling light of destruction targeted the entire galaxy supercluster.
If the opponent used exploding stars as an attack, she just needed to eliminate the stars from the surroundings first. An eye for an eye, power for power.
Having gotten this far, she had no interest in entertaining the idea that she could beat someone so strong by resorting to tricks. This was a battle that pit power against power, destruction against destruction in order to determine the fate of the world. This was a battle to see who was superior and who would submit to the opponent. Therefore, there was only one strategy to use. No, it wasn’t really a strategy.
—Use brute force upfront! That was the only way to break through.
While Alovenus’ attack was being countered, Benetnash and Orm flew forth and launched a series of attacks on Alovenus. Their speeds were already infinite. They couldn’t be avoided since they struck at the same time as the attacks were made. However, they were blocked by an invisible wall in front of the Goddess.
…Who cared about strategies? It was a hassle to think of a strategy since she had no weaknesses anyway. There was no point in thinking about things. It would be fine to just push through forcefully. The method they had decided to use was to simply destroy them upfront. Was there any other way to break through in the final battle?
The series of attacks by Benetnash and Orm forcefully struck the invisible wall. These faster-than-light attacks had reached an infinite amount of mass, creating black holes upon impacts and shaking the entire universe.
Such things didn’t matter anymore. Who would care about collateral damage?
Orm transformed into his ouroboros form and released a destructive light. It was a direct hit. A torrent of light rushed to the end of the universe in an instant, destroying all of the planets, stars, and galaxies in its path.
…But the Goddess was unharmed. She didn’t even receive a scratch.
“The Maiden Who Fires the Silver Arrow!”
Benetnash used her strongest Moon-attribute arcane magic, firing a silver arrow at the Goddess. Its size was abnormal. The arrow was larger than a star, and it sped towards the Goddess. Many galaxies disappeared as a result, but it still did not reach the Goddess. She smiled and caught the arrow with her fingers…Then, she extinguished it with a sigh, as if she was blowing out the flame of a candle.
“Come! He Who Gnaws At The Roots…Transmute! The Mocking Slaughterer!”
Ruphas raised her hand and used a significant portion of the universe as a base material to activate alchemy’s ultimate technique. The one that emerged from the void was an enormous black dragon…No, the word “enormous” could no longer adequately describe it. When compared to it, even an ouroboros would just be a microorganism. Its swirling body was so big that it could swallow the entire universe.
It could turn stars to dust just by glaring at them. A single breath could blow away galaxies. It was a monster among monsters that was said to consume the World Tree, which was rooted in the foundation of the universe. Its roar blasted through the entire universe before the Goddess.
Its mere roar caused cracks to form throughout the universe. The few remaining stars disintegrated into their component molecules and disappeared. Too much mass would create supergravity, twisting and destroying space itself just by its existence. It was simply a disaster. This beast of ruin would bring about the destruction of the universe by virtue of its existence alone.
However, when faced with it, Alovenus merely giggled—
She tapped it lightly and erased it. Its end was simply too dumbfounding. The previously overwhelming existence was dissipated as if it was a lie. The final ultimate technique of Ruphas was treated like dust. Faced with this scene, even Ruphas was momentarily stunned.
“Hehe. You’re really strong…But it will all be meaningless unless you bump it up another level.”
For the Goddess to be speaking while they were in a state where even light stood still, it might have seemed all too strange. After all, at this level of battle, the speed of sound was almost negligible. However, the one speaking was the Goddess, who could bend the laws of nature to her will. It was too easy for her to twist reason and disregard contradictions.
In the first place, it was already strange that they were having a conversation in space. Common sense didn’t apply…No, there wasn’t even a fragment of common sense here anymore. Everything here was paranormal, but there was one thing that had not changed.
—The stronger one would win. This was an absolute law that would never change.
“Tsk! Incinerate, the god-slaying flame—Hamal!”
Ruphas released the flame of Aries, which could reduce the opponent’s maximum HP by half, from her palm. This skill didn't care about how many digits the opponent’s HP had. Regardless of how many novemdecillions, vigintillions, or centillions the HP might be, the skill would still scrape half of it off.
In addition, she also activated the skill Ex Coalesce. Combining the former with Aigokeros’ Deneb Algedi would make the damage become irrecoverable. A black flame that could incinerate even gods engulfed Alovenus, but the latter didn’t even make a slight movement.
“Hehe. In the instant that I was struck, I increased my HP by ten digits. So the damage that the flame did to me is like a speck of dust.”
Benetnash jumped in from the side, increasing her speed and launching a series of attacks. Faster, faster, and faster! Her speed was already infinite, so it couldn’t be increased any further. But she didn’t care. If it didn’t work right now, she would just have to break through the limit. She would go beyond infinity and reach a further infinity. She would keep going over the walls and transcend beyond her previous self. It was the only way to come out of this alive.
“There’s no limit to the amount of power one can imagine. For example, we could argue about who, between the character of story A and the character of story B, is actually stronger. The character from story A might be able to destroy a universe, but story B could reveal that a single universe is just like a cell of a larger multiverse.”
Alovenus spoke, and the entire universe began to shrink. It became smaller and smaller…until it went beyond the limit, allowing Ruphas and the others to see the whole picture. Beyond the universe, a vast outer space expanded.
While the Goddess talked leisurely, Ruphas didn’t cease her attacks. She released one of Scorpius’ poisonous skills. Orm activated his breath weapon as well. However, the Goddess didn’t stop talking.
“And then, this is where story C comes in and states that the multiverse is just a single cell of an even larger cosmos.”
The multiverse shrank as well, revealing the overwhelming scale that the multiverse was just a cell of a cosmos.
“However, even with such an overwhelming setting, the strongest being within it could be unseated easily by the author (deity) with the creation of another character that could defeat the hitherto strongest character with a single punch. This would make the new character even stronger. Furthermore, the strongest D would be treated like a child by E, who couldn’t react to the speed of F, who could be killed one hundred times with a forehead flick by G, who couldn’t even be an opponent for H, who could be blown away with a sigh by K even if there were one hundred Hs…Hehehe, this is quite common in fiction, isn’t it?”
Alovenus concentrated light in her hands. This wasn’t just light. It had the power to take in countless universes and destroy worlds by the hundreds, thousands, and millions. This was the realm of God. There was just far too much of a difference in scale.
“This whole thing is like a dispute between children. Ruphas, your avatar probably did something similar when he was young, right? When there are two children, one would pretend to attack with a great beam, while the other would pretend to block it with a great barrier. But the former would say that this great beam could easily destroy a great barrier, while the latter would insist that it was an invincible barrier that could not be destroyed. The attacking side would selfishly and unreasonably argue that his beam could destroy even an invincible barrier, while the defending side would retort that his barrier would never ever break…And so there would be no end in sight.”
Alovenus giggled. It was a laugh that embodied absolute belief in her victory and her own power. She couldn’t lose. There was no reason for her to lose. Even if she really lost, she could simply fiddle with the setting. She could come up with so many ways to make herself the strongest by changing the setting, reason, and providence.
“Let me start with the conclusion…My power is infinite. I can overlay settings over pre-existing settings. For example, let’s say you somehow acquired unusual abilities and powers in order to defeat me. Then, I can simply resolve that like this. ‘Your unusual power won’t work on me, and I can still defeat you with one finger.’ Do you think this is ridiculous? Yes, that’s right. I won’t deny it. However, such an inexplicable statement can sometimes be stronger than a never-ending exchange.”
The power of Alovenus swelled further and triggered a universal explosion. Ruphas and the others tried their best to defend, erase, or assimilate the power. However, Alovenus flew over and flicked the three of them at the same time. Ruphas and the others immediately went on the offensive, but their attacks were easily evaded. Attacks with infinite speed should have ignored the entire process of hitting.
“Infinite speed? I see. How amazing. Then, I’ll answer thus, ‘Infinite speed before me is nothing more than one, and I’m one hundred times faster.’ If you have infinite power, then I’ll say, ‘Even that infinity is just one, there is always another infinity beyond.’ If you go beyond that, I’ll simply say that there’s even more beyond. If you say that you’ll become infinitely stronger and stronger, I can simply make myself become infinitely stronger, but at a rate one thousand times faster than you.
So what will you do next? An instant death attack that kills the opponent just by facing them? An ability to take away all of the opponent’s powers just by being present? A trait that always makes you stronger than your opponent? Turn back time to undo events? Become a resident of a higher dimension and toss away the opponent’s settings like a piece of waste paper? The power to nullify all kinds of abilities? An invincible barrier that can reflect any attacks at several times their original power? A constitution that manipulates the concept of victory and ignores the process to attain absolute victory? A cheat that instills the concept of defeat into the opponent to ensure absolute defeat for them? Or pure, unrivaled power that can penetrate and kill everything without exception?
Whatever is fine. Please use them until you are satisfied. They wouldn’t work anyway.”
Alovenus ridiculed them, saying that all resistances were futile. Then, the light of the universe’s beginning (Big Bang) exploded around her. It wasn’t just once. Again and again, the universe was born as if it had been erased without exceptions, while a larger universe was born outside of it. There were even more further beyond…
Did she repeat the same thing a hundred times out of whim? In any event, Alovenus immediately abandoned the newborn universe by the point Ruphas and the others had become so small within it that they were like specks of dust.
“End of the World (Big Crunch), a hundredfold.”
Countless worlds were simultaneously destroyed. The scale had become too large to make any sense out of it. Alovenus herself probably wasn’t thinking too much about it. This tremendous power made the previous battles look like children’s play. This was the reason she was said to be omnipotent.
Of course, she was neither omniscient nor omnipotent. That was the previous creator deity.
However, Alovenus had a simple and peerless power that could kill off even an omnipotent being. She was too juvenile and too childish…but that was also the reason she was the strongest.
In the midst of such an unimaginable struggle, Ruphas and the others became aware of this threat.
|Image from Light Novel Volume 9.|