Several men were traveling along the dark, stone-paved road. Torch in hand, sword at the waist.
The men behind were equipped with staves or bows. From their orderly movements, it was obvious that they were veterans who overcame a lot of hardships. However, fatigue was evident on the faces of such robust men. Numerous scars were left on their armors. A man in the center, who seemed to be a wizard, was missing an arm.
It had been hell up until this point. In the past, Ruphas Mafahl mass-produced golems—each considered to be comparable to the Sword Saint of today—for the final battle. These golems wandered around, attacking them in multiple ambushes.
A large party of more than fifty men had now been reduced to merely ten survivors.
This was the place where the treasures of the overlord were kept. This was the Black-Winged Royal Tomb, whose soul slept through the ages according to legends.
Seeking the hidden treasures, the tomb was infiltrated at times by treasure hunters, invaded at times by tomb robbers, and at times entered by soldiers like these men, who were dispatched in the hope of reversing the dire situation facing the humanoids.
However, this place was a merciless hell. Intruders would lose their lives and be slaughtered mercilessly. Even if there was only one golem, it would still be a threat. In a head-on battle, they would be instantly killed. Therefore, they avoided combat and escaped from traps, losing companions constantly along the way until they reached the top floor.
"A bit more…A bit more, and we are there!"
"Ah. Everyone's sacrifices wouldn't be in vain…We must bring out the weapons here."
Honestly, they did not have the strength to challenge this tomb. In this current world, only the Seven Heroes were powerful enough to challenge this tomb. Despite this, they came anyway because they hoped to achieve victory for the humanoids. They sincerely hoped to end the darkness of this world, no matter the sacrifice. This was for the sake of the children and for their families and loved ones.
These ten men overcame their fear of death, abandoned their self-preservation, and moved forward.
But reality was unforgiving. The unavoidable, unpassable, and biggest obstacle waited at the top floor.
"—Intruders confirmed…Warning…Leave this place in ten seconds. Non-compliance or hostile behavior will be—gak gak—met with elimination by force."
The treasury on the top floor was guarded by one of the Twelve Heavenly Stars. As the most powerful golem in history, this merciless guardian was Libra of the Scales.
Her appearance was that of a lovely girl. A hairband adorned her shoulder-length, light brown hair. Her maid dress was torn and had deteriorated over the years. The girl herself exuded a sense of ageless youth and her eyes were like emotionless glass orbs. Her sleeves were torn, exposing her arms as if to show that she was an inhuman construct. Her stained joints were squeaking and cracked.
As the men confirmed her identity, they got into position.
"This is…Libra of the Scales!"
"Please wait, Twelve Heavenly Stars! We are not here for a fight! Please listen to us!"
"I beg you, please listen! Currently, humanoids are being cornered by demons! To escape this fate, we had to come here!"
"For the humanoids' victory! The Black Wings' legacy here is absolutely necessary!"
"Four…—Stopping countdown. Clarified intruders' goals…Acknowledged as foreign enemies after master's treasures. Elimination condition met…"
The countdown stopped, but the men realized that did not mean the end of hostility. Instead, the other party had judged that countdown was no longer necessary! Her "elimination condition" had just been met!
"Proceeding with elimination—Program selection. Brachium, activate!"
Everything was stained white.
That was the last sight of the world seen by those men.
In the end, they vanished from this world without leaving a speck of dust behind.
The camping car (Tanaka) traveled for approximately two days, arriving at our second destination—my tomb. It felt surreal to be visiting my own tomb. If someone was crying before the tomb, I would definitely sing, "I am not there."
"I think around here would be nice. Tanaka is too conspicuous, so let it stay in the nearby forest."
I told Tanaka, who replied in English for some reason, to stop at the forest and await further orders. Otherwise, this car would automatically follow behind. Then, I alighted along with Dina and Aries, and aimed for the place where there might be a tomb. I said "aim," but it could already be seen right before us—a huge pyramid.
I heard about it from Megrez previously, but this was really unnecessarily big. Even with alchemy, it was impressive that a structure of this size was built and still stood unbroken today. Although the Tower of Mafahl would not lose in terms of its ridiculous architecture, only someone like Mizar could have built something like this.
…Oh. Actually, both structures belonged to me, although I didn't know about the tomb previously.
"Why is there a village around the tomb?"
"Oh—Well, this is tourism…Adventurers and treasure hunters gathered here to raid the tomb, so merchants gathered here to make a profit out of them. Population increased over time, and eventually it became a village."
"…My tomb is practically a tourist attraction."
"It is actually a tourist attraction. The tombs of world famous people usually become tourist attractions in later generations."
Hearing Dina's explanation, I helplessly replied with an "Ah". I supposed it was not surprising that my pyramid would become a sightseeing spot in this world.
Even though I was still here, I had a tomb, and it even became a tourist attraction.
Ah, this…this was pretty disturbing.
"Lady Ruphas, leave it to me!"
As I considered this, Aries pounded his chest enthusiastically for some reasons. However, because of his facial features, he looked like a determined maiden instead of a resolved man. This nearly brought on tears.
"Let me kick these people away! It's outrageous for them to gather to raid Lady Ruphas' tomb!"
As he said so, Aries enveloped his entire body in flames.
Hey, stop it, you fool! Surely you don't intend to become a giant sheep here!?
You are the outrageous one, you stupid sheep!
"Stop it, Aries. There's no need for a pointless disturbance."
"There's no 'but'. Besides, since I'm still here, that cannot be my tomb. I feel bad for the people who built this…but that is merely a structure that I do not know of. It doesn't matter even if such a place is raided."
I had to calm Aries down and avoid causing a disturbance.
That was dangerous…Despite his appearance, this guy became really reckless when it was something that concerned me. Surely not everyone in the Twelve Heavenly Stars were like this?
I appreciated the devotion, but this was giving a headache.
"So…what now, Dina? Should we infiltrate as traveling merchants again?"
"Of course. Since this is a tourist attraction, it's not unusual for merchants to come here. Well, you can leave all the negotiations to me."
Well, this adviser was still reliable as usual. Nothing went wrong so far when I left things to Dina, so let her handle it this time as well. Or rather, if Dina was not here, I would be seriously stuck.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the village was temporary shelters like tents deployed everywhere. These probably belonged to merchants or traveling adventurers. There were wooden houses too, which were probably the homes of full-time tomb raiders or people providing service support. Inns and taverns existed as well. The liveliness here did not seem like it was next to a tomb.
If I was really dead, it would be impossible to rest in peace here.
"Now then, I will find the agent to acquire a trading permit. Lady Ruphas, you—yeah, that inn looks quite nice. Could you get a room at that inn? I will go there after I'm done."
Dina ran off without waiting for my reply.
She sure was energetic. Well, if she was so confident, there shouldn't be a problem.
"Ha—Dina is amazing."
"Yes. She's surprising useful. Why was she so stealthy two hundred years ago though?"
I wondered what race Dina belonged to. She did not have elven ears, so she couldn't be an elf. She did not have wings, so she couldn't be a flügel. She had no fangs, so she couldn't be a vampire. Since she remained youthful after two hundred years, she couldn't be a human, dwarf, hobbit, or beastman.
She also could not be a demon due to her skin color.
Then again, there were many ways to conceal one's features, such as how I hid my wings. Therefore, I shouldn't judge only by appearance. Currently, her most likely race would be an elf with her ears concealed. If she was a flügel, she would be disgusted by my black wings. If she was a vampire, she couldn't walk around in daylight.
But this begged the question, "Why did she conceal her features in the first place?"
There was no doubt that she was helping me, whatever she might be.
This was simply unjustified suspicion.
"Let's go to that inn Dina mentioned. I hope there are vacant rooms."
Ideally, there were three vacant rooms. Firstly, I was mentally male, so I couldn't stay with Dina. But since my body was female, the same would be true with Aries. Likewise, Aries couldn't stay with Dina due to their different genders. Therefore, the ideal would be to have three rooms.
As I pondered this, I opened the inn's door and entered. There were four men, who appeared to be adventurers, talking with another man, who appeared to be the innkeeper. Upon seeing me and Aries, the innkeeper jumped over the counter and came forward.
"Oh, welcome, ladies! I'm honored to be visited by such beauties! If you want rooms, they are available and are very cheap!"
"Eh? But, uncle…currently, we have room reservations…"
This innkeeper seemed like someone who stayed true to his desires. He was truly "manly" in the sense of ignoring the customers who came first in order to prioritize us. Well, this must be what was meant by "beauty always wins." When you actually experienced it yourself, it was somewhat uncomfortable.
"Well, cheap is good. Innkeeper, do you have three rooms?"
"Three rooms…Aren't there only two of you?"
"There will be one more coming later."
"I see…Of course, there are!"
Oh, there were vacant rooms? That would be nice.
As I thought so, the four adventurers yelled angrily, "Hey!"
"Hey, uncle! There are only three vacant rooms now, right? If you let her have three rooms, what about us!?"
"Lady first. Give up."
"Between four men who delayed payment and a beautiful woman, anyone would choose the latter. I'm no different. Blame yourselves for delaying payment."
"Like I said, we already paid!"
Anyway, I finally understood the situation as I looked on the men who were still arguing. These adventurers frequently delayed payments, and were about to reserve the rooms again after paying.
At that moment, Aries and I arrived, so that uncle prioritized us.
It wasn't like I couldn't understand their feelings. After all, I used to be a man. Even now, I intended to remain male mentally, so I could understand them. However, the order was important. Since they came first, they should get priority.
Then, what would be a good solution…
…Well, it wasn't like there were none.
"Innkeeper, do you have a moment?"
"Oh, lady. Please wait a while. I will drive them away now."
"Concerning this matter, I feel bad about depriving the people who came first. Since it couldn't be helped, we will take only two rooms. How about this?"
It couldn't be helped that it became like this. Since there were two rooms, Dina would get one, while Aries and I would stay in the other. Aries probably wouldn't assault me and probably wouldn't get in heat. Although it was not ideal, it should still be the better choice.
…I hoped Dina wouldn't complain later about being left alone.
In a room that could not be described as wide.
People were sitting by a seven-sided table inside. The seven sides symbolized the main elements of this world—fire, water, wood, metal, earth, sun, and moon. Only demonic commanders, who were given titles of the associated element, were allowed to sit there.
There should have been seven people, but only six were there now. The one who should have been sitting at the Seat of Fire was absent.
"…What happened to Mars?"
The man at the Seat of Wood said with dissatisfaction.
They were usually at odds with each other. Despite being comrades sitting together, there was no trust between them. Each individual was plotting to kick someone else. Since the remaining others became deterrents, nobody could anything.
Under such unstable equilibrium, the Seven Luminaries were formed.
Now, he was anxious that they were still waiting for the one who was supposed to their equal.
"Who knows? He's probably dead, right? The monsters following him were gone. Aries was also gone. I doubt he is still alive."
The woman at the Seat of Earth said happily. There was no lamentation or indignation in her voice regarding the possibility that her comrade died. Instead, there was delight as if saying, "It's better if he's gone."
"Was he killed by Megrez…or attacked by Aries? In any case, it became like this because he tried to manipulate the Twelve Stars without understanding his own capabilities."
"Ha! He is the weakest among the Seven Luminaries. It is a disgrace to all demons for him to be killed by the Twelve Stars."
"Hey, stop it, idiot. That line is somewhat tasteless."
The man at the Seat of Water speculated about the cause of death, while the ominous woman entitled "Gold" made a joke as if she was waiting for the opening. The man at the Seat of Moon quickly stopped her.
"Anyway…Mars was probably killed by someone. Aries of the Twelve Stars also disappeared…This is a very serious situation."
Finally, the male leader entitled "Sun" spoke softly and looked at the others. He was not angry at the death of Mars, but if there was someone who could defeat one of the Seven Luminaries, the matter could not be overlooked. If it was the Twelve Stars or Seven Heroes, it might still be acceptable. But what if it was someone else?
…That would be a threat that could not be disregarded.
"Venus, you should be in Svalinn then. Did you see the killer?"
"Oh. Who was it?"
"I don't know. I felt that I would be killed if I came too close. However, I remember she has beautiful black wings—It was a female gorgeous enough to mesmerize onlookers."
Regarding the Man of Sun's question, the woman named Venus smiled pleasantly, while the surrounding people were far from smiling.
A beautiful, black-winged female who could kill the Seven Luminaries.
There was nobody here that wouldn't think of "her" upon hearing those words.
But…but it was impossible. She should have died two hundred years ago.
"Could it be Ruphas Mafahl…!? Is she still alive!?"
"Impossible! She should have been killed by the humanoids two hundred years ago!"
That was a name more frightening to the demons than "Hero".
That was a tyrant who dominated the entire world and successfully unified the humanoids.
Her fighting ability was greater than those of comparable heroes and was considered among the best in the world. More importantly, her existence embodied fear itself. It didn't whether one was hostile or not, whether one was a demon or not, she would kill everyone.
As if to crush the enemies' fighting spirits, she impaled their heads on spears and exposed them to the sky. Begging for mercy was useless. Combatants who pleaded "Please spare me for the sake of my family" had their skulls crushed under her feet. She caught fleeing enemies by their heads and pulled them out along with the spinal cords. She crushed absurdities with extreme absurdity and shattered unreasonableness with extreme unreasonableness. She dismembered invaders into eight pieces. She was the invader of all invaders.
—The black-winged angel was a terrifying nightmare to demons.
Everyone was afraid of coming into contact with her. There would be no escape and no help forthcoming. If anyone encountered her, it would mean the end of his life. There were no exception. There were no demon who survived entering her line of sight.
Fortunately, Ruphas' extreme cruelty provoked the fear and backlash of her fellow humanoids. She was eventually put to an end by the heroes, but she already slaughtered countless demons by then.
If she was still alive, the situation between demons and humanoids might reverse itself. The possibility that this fear-incarnate might still be alive made the place turbulent.
"The black-winged queen, the only one whom the Demon King would avoid a direct battle…If she is still alive, we should be discussing about the crisis facing the demons instead of the Seven Heroes. Venus, do you know her current whereabouts?"
"Yes, she is currently at the Black-Winged Royal Tomb."
"Good. You continue to monitor her. Report to me immediately as soon as you find anything."
The girl, who was entitled "Metal", acknowledged the order from the leader of the Seven Luminaries with a single word.
Illuminated by the light shining in from the windows, her respectful bow somehow seemed like an act—
—And her smile seemed to ridicule everything.
※ Author’s Notes: Black-Winged Royal TombKnown as the most difficult dungeon in the world, this pyramid has one hundred and eight floors. It is impenetrable from the outside. Golems, mass-produced by Ruphas Mafahl two hundred years ago, patrol the interior. Even the weakest one is as strong as the Sword Saint.
The number of golems increased as one ascended the floors. Frequently, Level 300-400 golems appear in groups. A Level 600 gatekeeper stands before the stairs leading to the 107th floor. After defeating (or avoiding) it and somehow reaching the top floor, Level 910 Libra of the Scales awaits. A defense-ignoring attack with fixed damage will be initiated.
No matter how you struggle, it will be game over.
|Light Novel Vol.2 Cover|
※ Foot Notes"I am not there" is derived from "Do not stand at my grave and weep / I am not there. I do not sleep.", which are the opening lines of the poem Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye. The poem was translated into Japanese and composed into a song called 千の風になって ("Become a thousand winds") by Man Arai.
A WILD LAST BOSS APPEARED!
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