|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2023 characters|
|Translator: Tanaka||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 889 words|
In the name of the divine, even when your might falters, your faith shall remain steadfast, your soul eternal. A living testament to this belief was Bernardo Gloria Casas, the leader of the Cathedral Crusaders. Bestowed with the title of “Saint,” he was the human closest to God’s grace. Yet, for the first time, his visage was twisted in horror and despair.
—What on Earth is this?
Before him stretched an ocean of vampires so vast it seemed to consume the horizon itself.
—Is this even real?
Thick clouds, tinted with the hues of utter darkness, shrouded the sky at what should have been midday, shadowing an imposing, jet-black castle.
—How can this be?
An assembly of gargantuan beasts marked the vanguard of the vampire swarm.
—Is this some kind of nightmare? What am I witnessing?
Then, with a maw yawning as if to devour the heavens themselves, a grotesque creature, shaped like a decaying dragon, emerged. It was so immense that words failed to capture its sheer enormity.
“Ahahaha, how do you like my welcome? Meet ‘Nidhogg,’ my magnum opus, crafted after the failure of 500,000 would-be undead. I must say, I’m rather proud of my handiwork,” declared Pahlen, the orchestrator of the vampire upheaval. Perched atop the dragon’s head, and appearing no larger than a speck, he laughed uproariously, clutching his belly in amusement.
Those who had been morphed into components of Nidhogg—souls who couldn’t transform into vampires but were also denied the release of death—melted together in agony, their silent screams and desperate hands reaching out for some form of salvation.
The scene was hellish. It may be a trite expression, but no other word could encapsulate what Bernardo was witnessing.
As if roles had been reversed since the defeat of the monster Grendel just the day before, the once-mighty knightly order, comprising 5,000 members and advancing in a wedge formation, found their vigor mysteriously drained. Their ranks slowly diminished as they became paralyzed with inability to act.
Death, in this instance, would be merciful. Heaven’s gates would welcome them.
Yet, who was that figure at the vanguard of this monstrosity? His visage brimming with malevolent joy, and his mouth displaying unnaturally sharp fangs—could it be the comrade who stood beside him only moments ago?
“Everyone, attack the mastermind! Advance, even if you must do it alone! Claim the enemy’s head and don’t look back! Charge!”
Locking eyes with Bernardo, who had rallied the remnants of his troops for one final assault, hoping at least for an honorable end, Pahlen commented, “Impressive, you’ve got real courage.” He then casually kicked a severed head at his feet—the agonized face of a man who was once the Prime Minister of the Graviol Empire.
“Okay, Nidhogg, you’re up. Time for a test drive.”
In an instant, Nidhogg’s immense jaws descended from the sky, swallowing both the last standing knights of the church and the surrounding vampires in one gulp. Their futile resistance was barely a tickle.
And so, the Cathedral Crusaders, once the greatest military force on the continent, vanished from existence.
“This will be a hassle, sorting them out in the belly,” Pahlen mumbled, adjusting his top hat.
Pahlen murmured while fixing the position of the top hat.
No sooner had he finished speaking than Lubbock’s eight swords flew towards him, tracing erratic paths through the air.
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“—You have come, just as I anticipated!”
The eight blades instantly eviscerated Pahlen’s shadow clone, created through his use of the Shadow Branch technique. However, the real Pahlen, still perched atop Nidhogg—whose head alone stretched hundreds of meters—snapped his fingers.
Heeding the cue, the vampiric horde spanning the horizon turned their sharp claws to their necks, slashing their arteries. A fountain of blood erupted, staining the earth a gruesome red.
In that instant, what had appeared to be empty space twisted and contorted. The spilling blood disrupted the stealth skill, unveiling two figures: a handsome man clad in gleaming silver armor, and a nondescript young boy with black hair.
“Damn, so hitboxes work in the real world too?”
The black-haired youth had barely finished cursing when a bolt of black lightning shot toward them—a Warlock skill known as “Dark Blast.”
“Caught you!” declared Pahlen.
Lubbock was quick to raise his shield in defense. Yet from above—where distances seemed misleading due to the creature’s enormity—Nidhogg descended, stretching ever so slightly to close the gap and unleash its full weight upon them.
All of Lubbock’s skill with the blade proved meaningless against such a colossal force that was neither technique nor wizardry, but merely overwhelming weight.
Just as Kagerou gripped Lubbock’s shoulder, Nidhogg slammed into the ground. A deafening, yet silent roar cleaved through the air, catapulting those nearby into the sky as if they were mere dust, while even those at a distance were hurled to the ground by the shockwaves.
The impact was so monumental it reverberated all the way to the distant national borders.
“Hmm, they managed to escape, huh?”
Standing atop Nidhogg’s massive head, Pahlen shook his head in mild disappointment, feeling no significant resistance. “Ah, no matter.”
“I suppose I’ll have to be satisfied with those who were ingested earlier. That leader did look particularly appetizing…”
Murmuring to himself, Pahlen was then drawn into Nidhogg, as though sinking into a pool of mud.
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