—Red, red, all she could remember was everything being wrapped in flames.
The calm, stagnant, and self-indulgent days had suddenly come to an end.
In the face of that senseless violence, the title of “Strongest Demi-human Race,” the position of the most feared village chieftain, and the universal law of parents protecting their children all held no meaning.
It had been a pity that she had been late in noticing the mayhem that was going on around her. —No, perhaps in this case it would be appropriate to praise the cleverness of the other party. They had been hated, alienated, repelled, and persecuted by the world. Therefore, they were very good at hiding in the darkness, masking their presence, staying silent, and being sneaky.
At the time of the first surprise attack, the outcome of the battle had already been decided. It had already been too late when their horns finally sensed that there had been a slight peculiarity in the mana in the atmosphere.
First of all, half of the villagers had been eliminated with the first attack, and less than half of the survivors were capable of fighting at that point. On top of that, half of the survivors felt like something was wrong but did not see the urgency of the situation. In short, being in a state of peace and harmony for so long had made them soft-hearted and weak-minded.
It had once been said that if the Oni Tribe—once called the strongest demi-human race—had participated in the Demi-human War, the situation in the Kingdom of Lugunica would have changed drastically. —However, even if an historical ‘what-if-scenario’ like that had happened, they wouldn’t have been able to do much.
In any case, the first attack had halved their fighting forces, and their fighting forces were again reduced by half by the second attack. At this point, many parts of the village had already been engulfed in flames, and by the time the death howls of the Oni’s had begun echoing in the night sky illuminated in red, every Oni in the village noticed something wasn’t right. However, there were only two people who had realized that this was going to be the end of the Oni Tribe.
“—Ram! Escape the siege! All you need to do is survive!!”
The Elder barked that at her as his two horns grew larger and his body increased in size.
The Elder had said that to Ram, who had been cutting down the enemy with her Wind Magic, as he jumped out of the house. And he had said that not because he cared about her, but because he believed she was the future of the Oni Tribe.
To restore the former glory of the Oni Tribe, it was imperative to bring back the Oni God who had been an unstoppable force during the era of the Witch. That had been the role that had been forced upon the child prodigy named Ram, and that had most likely been the last wish of the Chieftain of the Oni Tribe, who seemed to have forgotten how to fight.
Ram felt like that was the most ridiculous thing in the world, and scoffed at the thought of it.
In these current circumstances, was the only desire of the representative of the Oni’s really only to entrust the realization of his unfulfilled dream to her? There were many more important things he could be doing, such as rallying his people and trying to fight back against the enemy. However, Ram had no intention of advising the Chieftain about such things. —And the events of this night weren’t the cause. She had forgotten about her tribe a long time ago.
“The glory of the Oni’s…”
It’s stupid. It’s worthless. It’s absurd.
The fact that the pure blood of the Oni’s was flowing through her veins terrified her to no end. If she desired power, her blood would boil, feelings of excitement would fill every pore of her body, and she would feel as if she were invincible and could do anything she desired. In fact, if Ram had grown up normally, that omnipotence might have become a reality. However, she had no desire for it.
Ram wanted to choose her own future instead of pretending to be the child of a god in a tiny world. That was far more valuable to her than being seen as the second coming of the Oni God, or being the portable shrine of a relative who continued to obsess about the glory of the Oni’s that was already a thing of the past.
Then Ram focused on her forehead and absorbed hot mana from the atmosphere into her body through her white horn. After getting into a state of deep concentration, her perception was greatly expanded, and she was able to sense all of the living people around her, and was also able to get a good idea of what was going on in the small village. There were many enemies, and they had surrounded the village so that none could escape.
Their response had been delayed at the beginning, half of them had perished, and the other half had put up a great resistance, but the current number of fighters left was so small that they could be counted on one hand, and the Oni’s seemed to be losing the desire to resist.
There was an Elder struggling in battle, but their enemies were also quite skilled, and the Elder, whose defeat was imminent, seemed to be wrapped in an aura of Death.
Ram wrapped her body in the wind and flew through the village like a strong gale. The only person that occupied her mind and whose name came from her lips was her one and only ■■■■■■. It wasn’t that she was heartless, she had only changed her focus. Her parents had been killed during the first attack, so there was nothing she could do for them now.
—Ram had never hated her parents.
However, both of them had been born in this village, for better or worse, grew up in this village, and chose to die in this village as Oni’s after unconsciously accepting the destruction that occurred. And so, their deaths had been inevitable on this night.
“—That doesn’t mean I won’t retaliate in kind.”
Ram then saw her enemy that looked like black shadows and wore robes that covered their bodies from head to toe, and unleashed a powerful gust of wind at the fools wielding cross-shaped daggers.
Were they underestimating her because she was a child, or were they just lacking in ability? They were unable to handle Ram’s countless wind blades, so the black shadows were cut down one after another, and their corpses began to litter the ground. After that, Ram wrapped herself in the wind and continued to massacre them as if she were dancing in the flames. It might have even looked like a beautiful dance performance to an onlooker. However, the reality was that every time she swung her arm, a life was taken, and every time she made something with a form disappear, dark pleasure filled her immature heart and shouted for joy.
It howled at her to kill more and more. That inner self desired blood, flesh, bones, souls, and lives. And that hadn’t been the first time she’d heard it make demands.
—At all times, ever since she had been born, that voice tried to coax her into doing its bidding at every opportunity.
For it needed blood, flesh, bones, souls, and lives to awaken itself from within. It told her to kill more and more, and destroy more and more. And Ram didn’t understand what was so great about that. Neither the Elders nor her parents understood either. Those who wanted Ram to be something other than herself did not want to see that reality.
It was as if the horn had been controlling her. Without a firm grasp of herself, she would have been easily swallowed up and destroyed, and the Oni God would have returned just as everyone around her had hoped. But that never happened. Because—
A high-pitched voice called out to her, and as she turned, ■■■ was lit up by flames. A moment later, a powerful gust of wind blew away the swarming black shadows, driving them away in a single breath. And then Ram ran over to her ■■■■■■.
■■■ stared at her with fear in her eyes, and she seemed to have no strength left in her legs. Then she reached out to her beloved ■■■■■■ and tried to get her to stand up. She thought that she needed to survive just as the Elder wished. However, not only Ram, but ■■■, too—
—That was the moment.
She confirmed the safety of ■■■ and was able to relax for a second. However, by the time she noticed what had happened, she was surrounded, and it wasn’t going to be easy to find a way out of there. She could have easily saved herself, but being the only one to survive would be the same as dying.
She needed to break through the current situation somehow. And to do that, she decided to remove all of the shackles placed on her power that had been sealed, and directed a raging gust of wind towards the enemy.
Perhaps it had been brought about by the feeling of omnipotence she’d been feeling at that moment, but a black shadow managed to weave through the gust of wind and struck her forehead, which split her field of vision.
Ram looked at it, which made her feel a great sense of loss and greatly shocked her. Twirling and twirling, the white horn twirled round and round into the red night sky, which had been lit by the flames that engulfed the village. She understood that it was her horn, and a pained scream came from her thin throat due to the loss of it. But while screaming, she noticed something.
Ram could no longer hear the voice that had been inside her ever since she’d been born. Realizing how easy it really was, she went crazy due to her own stupidity.
Looking at the horn that drew a parabola in the red night sky—
—Oh, it’s finally been broken.
Yes, that’s what she thought at that moment.
—A black ground dragon could be seen desperately running away in the field of vision shared using Clairvoyance. The girl on its back was supposed to be Ram’s other half, but she couldn’t remember that missing other half and only felt a sense of loss—
Ram’s heart trembled with anger when she understood what it meant.
It annoyed her to admit it, but with Subaru’s help, she’d been able to regain the powers she had when she was in her prime, and she managed to overpower the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony, Lye Batenkaitos, as a result, which put him in a tough spot. She could easily declare that there had been countless opportunities to kill him if she wanted to do so.
However, due to the presence of his troublesome Authority, which had the power to eat the Names and Memories of others, she hesitated to take his blasphemous life so carelessly. She didn’t make that decision because she was warm-hearted, but because it was necessary. And the outcome was the outcome.
As a result, Batenkaitos used his Authority to escape from right from under Ram’s nose, and set out to capture her other half, Rem. The purpose of such an action was obvious—he knew he couldn’t beat her by fighting fair and square.
He had fought her head-on, and when he realized that he wasn’t going to win, he escaped and changed his fighting tactics. The archbishop was no warrior. He had no reason to fight fair and square, and he was only concerned with fulfilling his own greedy desires. Therefore, his retaliation plan against Ram for humiliating him was to waste her time due to the time limit in her Oni form, which had been based on the memory he had stolen from Rem.
This strategy was infuriating to her, albeit a good choice of action for him. If Rem got captured, then Ram would be easy to neutralize. Even if that doesn’t happen, their fighting strength will be greatly reduced if she takes more time. The odds of winning will decrease as time goes by.
“—I’ll catch up to Patrasche as soon as possible.”
Fortunately, Patrasche, who was in charge of looking after Rem, was the most clever ground dragon in the tower, second only to Julius in terms of cleverness. Subaru and Beatrice were on opposite sides of the spectrum, and she didn’t know about Echidna and Meili. What was even more outrageous was the atmosphere that Emilia gave off that made Ram hesitate to want to rely on her.
And though it was complex, Batenkaitos was clearly playing around with Patrasche. He would deliberately let up on his attack and let her gain some distance so that he could enjoy hunting his prey—prey that he could cut down at any moment if he so wished.
Ram had had enough and wasn’t going to let him play his games any longer—
It had been at the moment she sped up and tried to fly forward while wrapped in the wind. When she tried to go upstairs via the spiral staircase, her vision blurred, and her Clairvoyance had come undone for but a moment. Her right eye was still linked with Batenkaitos’, but her left eye had been unlinked and her view was blurred as a result.
But that wasn’t all. A heavy feeling of fatigue, which she had not felt before, and a feeling of pain and discomfort, as if invisible hands were caressing her internal organs, had just been thrown upon Ram. This was undeniably the fatigue that she usually felt when she used her powers to their limits.
The price that every Hornless Oni had to pay, which Subaru had promised to pay to a certain extent, had just been returned to Ram. The first possibility that popped up in her mind was that Subaru had died in a careless manner. However, she judged that that wasn’t the case due to how light the effects of the rebound were. Only a few minutes had gone by, but given the amount of power she had used, this was nowhere close to the price she usually paid. Normally she’d be in an extreme state of suffering by spitting up blood and rolling around in pain.
In other words, whatever unforeseen circumstances he’d been dealing with that made this happen didn’t mean he was completely out of commission. Or perhaps it meant that the exact opposite happened, and another person in their group had suffered more damage than Ram did, and Subaru was currently undertaking their burdens.
“Lady Beatrice or Meili, or perhaps Julius the Knight.”
That was what she came up with, but there was no point in trying to figure that out right now. The only thing that mattered at this moment was that Ram could no longer exert the same amount of power as before which could overpower Batenkaitos. —There was only one that could be removed, as far as shackles were concerned.
It may have been possible for her to remove the second one if she overdid it, but it was another story when it came to keeping it active for ten or more seconds. So, is it even possible to defeat Lye Batenkaitos now?—
“Now isn’t the time to get weak-kneed. —I have no choice but to do whatever I can to win.”
In the meantime, the camp’s chances of winning was going down little by little.
Then Ram once again took a step and started running up the spiral staircase.
—Ram’s breath caught as she felt the pain of loss, as if she had always rushed to her side like this when she was being chased in this way.
“Ha-ha! Hey, It’s pretty nice! Keep at it, you’re a ground dragon, after all!”
He praised the ground dragon that was currently running through a narrow corridor, whose scales had been damaged by a dagger he threw earlier. Bleeding painfully from the gouged wound, the ground dragon, who had made the wise decision to escape, was determined not to let this victory go to waste.
The Divine Protection of Wind Evasion was something that all ground dragons had. As long as the ground dragon continued to run, it wouldn’t need to worry about wind resistance or its footing, and could keep running as much as it needed. And it’s range extended to the dragon carriage attached to it and to the person on its back.
In other words, it was largely due to the Divine Protection of Wind Evasion that the Sleeping Beauty, who was firmly fastened to the saddle, did not fall off. Without it, the Sleeping Beauty would have already fallen into the hands of Batenkaitos.
“Amazing, so amazing, so brave, so courageous! Although I’ve tried to stop you from running so much, you’re still doing your best to keep running with those legs of yours. Well, if you stop, your Divine Protection of Wind Evasion will be cancelled, so we can see why you’re so desperate!”
“This ground dragon is great. It’s tenacious and loyal to its master. I’m sure that if it were a human, it would have become one of our most coveted dishes as Gourmet! But, butbut, butbutbutbutbutbut! Alas, a ground dragon won’t fill our belly!”
There was a Will, a Soul, a Memory, and a Name.
Despite that, the Authority of Gluttony can’t eat That which is not human. Therefore, Batenkaitos cannot love the ground dragon that was fighting so desperately, so hard, and so courageously against a tough enemy, in the best way. It looked so delicious and made him drool, but he could not eat it.
It was like a painting of a meal that had been drawn by a master painter. —He had heard an expression that people could not live off of the sticky rice cakes they drew in a picture.
“Ah, that’s it! That’s totally it! When our belly gets smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller, and we can’t help it! The picture of such delicious food is just making us suffer on purpose. Isn’t that a form of child abuse!?”
His face had been crushed in the battle he had just been in, and the eyeball in his left eye socket was on the verge of falling out, probably because the fundus had been crushed. His sharp fangs had been broken and his tongue had been torn apart, and blood was flowing endlessly onto his lower jaw, but it didn’t matter to him.
—Just the thought of Ram watching him right now made him giddy with excitement.
A pure, noble, perfect, and flawless complete being. It was what the Memories that slept in Batenkaitos thought of her, and he also believed it was a good evaluation of her after being nearly killed by her without being able to put up a fight.
A serious Ram would make short work of Batenkaitos. —No, no matter who the deadly Sin Archbishop was, a serious Ram would squeeze them to death. Well, perhaps Regulus would have been able to compete with her due to the invincibility of his Authority, but—
“Well, there’s no way that idiot could kill Sister. Anyways, if she can’t kill him, then she wouldn’t try to kill him, and would just throw him over the Great Waterfall instead.”
Even if they couldn’t be killed, there are many other ways to keep them contained. Just like how the Witch of Envy wasn’t able to be killed by the Three Heroes but was still confined in the Evil Sealing Stone Shrine. In the end, that’s how it is—
“In order to entertain our best and perfect Sister, we must prepare accordingly, otherwise it would be rude!”
With his wobbly left eye open, Batenkaitos smiled gruesomely with blood dripping from his face.
The speed of the ground dragon was impressive, but its mobility indoors was a wasted treasure. Moreover, Batenkaitos could even cross the space easily by using a skill from a Memory, even if there was no open space in front of him.
“As Sister’s little sister, we have to grow up without shame.”
With a growing sense of mission, Batenkaitos pulled out the Memories in his possession.
One of the Authorities of Gluttony was a skill called Eclipse. It could be divided into two categories, Solar Eclipse and Lunar Eclipse, but finding a good way to use it was quite challenging.
Lunar Eclipse was the phenomenon where the moon appeared to be missing. —It drew out the Memories of the people he had eaten and reproduced them in Batenkaitos’ own body.
One of the main advantages of Lunar Eclipse was that Batenkaitos could look at any of the Memories in his possession, combine them, and create any sort of synthesized super-class technique he desired.
Solar Eclipse, on the other hand, was the phenomenon where the sun appeared to be hidden. —In other words, it was a skill that not only used the Memories of the person but also the body of the person themselves, and the body could be operated just like the original owner used it.
Naturally, using the body of the person that mastered the skill would strengthen the skill itself since it was originally theirs. However, when they transformed into another person, there was a fear that the influence of the other person’s mind would become too strong, and it could have major repercussions later on. For this reason, Batenkaitos and Alphard did not use that skill often unless something extraordinary happened.
Lye Batenkaitos and Roy Alphard favored using Lunar Eclipse.
Louis Arneb, however, favored using Solar Eclipse—a hand that could be easily used because she had no physical form and no fixed ego.
However, in the battle with Ram, he almost died, and in order to survive, Batenkaitos broke out of his shell the moment he turned into ‘Leaper’ Dorkell using Solar Eclipse. He had found a way to maintain his sense of self while in his Solar Eclipse form that he had originally been afraid of losing. Now he could enjoy the main dish of their Life without being wasteful.
“Growing up in the midst of a battle is something that would never happen to an old guy like me. Ha-ha! This is a masterpiece! Sister!”
Having established a stronger ego, he felt very refreshed.
He wanted his wonderful sister to take a good look at him while he was still awake, and to do that, he would have to find a way to incite her hatred even more.
He wanted a full-course meal with the scent of anger, the taste of anger, and the texture of anger and hatred. What on earth would a Gourmet be without enjoying everything that could be experienced by a loved one? He would use his other self on the back of the ground dragon for that purpose.
“Come to think of it, I’ve never done it before. I wonder if I can discover new values by killing myself?”
In the blink of an eye, the world warped with the activation of his Leaper technique. The ground dragon emitted a groan from its throat and was startled by the sudden appearance of Batenkaitos, who should have been far behind it, and ran as fast as it could without looking back. It was brave, very brave, however, that braveness would only spice up the future tragedy.
“—Palm of the Fist King.”
A palm strike was unleashed and pierced into the side of the ground dragon. Normally, that would have been an attack unleashed by the dwarf form of Batenkaitos, but that was no longer the case with a Batenkaitos who had awakened from his shell and gained more power.
Then the original form of Neiji Rockheart pierced the body of the ground dragon with a powerful strike. That was The Palm of the Fist King, which had even killed countless opponents with giant bodies on the Gladiator Islands.
The ground dragon bathed in it and let out a deathly groan before being slammed violently against the wall of the corridor. However, as it fell, it continued to protect the girl from his strikes, the wall, the floor, and from its own giant body. It then gently grasped the falling girl’s body with its long tail and lowered her to the floor of the corridor. It was supposed to be a female, but the treatment was so gentle that it could serve as a model for all gentlemen. Involuntarily, even Batenkaitos applauded.
“Ta-da! Even if you gently lay her on the floor like that, I’ll still be beheading her and giving her head as a present to Sister.”
“Yes yes, don’t act violently, don’t struggle, here’s your reward for all of your hard work.”
He kicked at the ground dragon that was lying on its side trying to bite him. Their hard work would normally have brought tears to his eyes, but this time, it was hate. Batenkaitos and the ground dragon were enemies. He could praise his opponent for the good fight, but they would not be able to look up at the same sky as victors. If one side won, the other side lost. Alas, that was the way reality worked.
“That’ it! Do! You! Understand! Hey!”
A single word, a single pause, one word at a time, he drove them each carefully into the black ground dragon. Its cheekbones and forefoot were crushed, and the ground dragon that had been hit should have learned its lesson with pain by now. Fortunately, Batenkaitos could not eat the Memories of the ground dragon, so there was no reason to take its life. It was something he wanted them both to remember.
“For Sister, for Sister’s precious Rem, with Rem’s own hands…”
“—Don’t say anything weird.”
Immediately after hearing a dignified voice, the face that was hovering over Rem was powerfully repelled. What the face saw when it was raised due to hearing a voice came in the form of a direct hit from the soles of her shoes that had come from the front. As it was, Batenkaitos had been thrown backwards onto his back and was skidding on the ground. And—
“Aha-ha-hahahhaha… You finally caught up with us, Sister. We…huh? We… We…? —Our Rem has been waiting for you.”
He slowly got up from his position on the ground with only the strength of his feet. When he looked at his beloved other half from the front, Ram had an expression on her face that he had never seen before.
“…You’ve become considerably more ugly looking in a very short time.”
“…You’ve become considerably more ugly looking in a very short time.”
That had been Ram’s honest impression after catching up with them. While linking with Batenkaitos’ vision, Ram had forced her incompletely transformed body to move and rushed to the scene, believing that Patrasche could get through it.
In the corridor of the fourth floor, a bit far away from the spiral staircase, she found a ground dragon that was hurt and in tatters, with Rem lying beside it. And the one that was hovering over her was—
“You think we’re ugly… Sister is so cruel…to us, like this, in this way! We were thinking that Sister s-s-s-s-shined and is so important to us.”
The way in which he spoke and acted was indecisive and his way of thinking was extremely uncoordinated. Ram felt like he was suffering from a mental disorder—no, anyone could tell he was with a quick glance. Since Batenkaitos’ appearance looked so distorted.
This must have been the secret technique of Batenkaitos that he had showed her earlier where he could transform into another person using their Memories. However, it seemed to be preventing him from doing it, and the current appearance of Gluttony standing in front of Ram contained none of the Memories he had pulled out before. They had all been jumbled up together instead.
There was a part of the old man who could seemingly teleport; there was a part of the fat giant who defended against Ram’s wind blade with ease; a part of that martial artist who had seemingly divine fighting abilities, and various other physical characteristics of human beings that made up his unearthly body.
The length of his right and left hands were different, and his face seemed to be made up of different people. The only characteristic of the original Batenkaitos that remained was the way he looked, but that too may have just been a borrowed appearance. And it appeared as if he was unaware of his own distorted appearance.
Batenkaitos was becoming something that was no longer anything. Batenkaitos, who specialized in taking the Memories of others, may have actually had a weak sense of self, and because of that, he completely broke. And so this thing was born—
“—You’re just a monster pretending to be Rem. If I’m being honest, this is the first time I’ve felt so angry.”
Looking down at the broken pieces of his face where she could see some of her little sister’s features, Ram absolutely hated Batenkaitos, who had added her features to a part of his face. How is he so good at getting on people’s nerves? She thought Subaru and him could have a good match to see who was better at irritating people.
“Thank you for your hard work, Patrasche. Take Rem and get out of here.”
The sound of the reply was very weak, and she sheltered the bleeding Patrasche behind her. And then Patrasche grabbed Rem by the collar and dragged her away with her large body. Ram hoped they could get away from the battlefield—
“That’s no good, Sister. That’s an important appetizer… Isn’t it absolutely essential to eat it before the main dish?—”
He had stepped on the ground with a foot that was bigger than a person’s head and tried to rant at her with a palm on his face. In response, Ram unleashed a wind blade that was as powerful as a small storm and capable of ripping her enemy’s neck to pieces. —At this point, she was no longer messing around.
As a result of trying to find a way to restore everyone’s Memories without killing him, Ram’s mission had been jeopardized, and had led to Patrasche getting seriously injured. She then firmly decided to start being serious. —And she needed to deeply apologize to Subaru for this.
And so, Ram began unleashing attacks with the intent to kill so as to not make that same mistake twice. It was unlikely that Batenkaitos would give a straight answer, even after giving that confusing remark earlier. All in all, this was the right choice.
Ram needed to defeat Batenkaitos and take back the burdens being placed on Subaru. Then Patrasche and Rem needed to be taken to the Green Room, and she needed to hurry and help the others. That was what she had been thinking about.
Just as his face was about to be torn apart by the torrent of wind, Ram gazed in amazement at the changes that occurred. Nothing happened, and only Batenkaitos’ appearance had changed. However, that change was what was hard to overlook for her.
—A white horn appeared on his forehead, which was a conglomeration of features of many different people.
She had no choice but to take her hat off to him if he really was acting according to his instincts. Because the actions of Batenkaitos were all about making a mockery of Rem.
For a moment, Ram felt like she had been called by a voice that sounded like Rem’s, with a face that looked exactly like Rem’s. And then a punch from Batenkaitos’ giant arm flew into her rigid face.
It hadn’t been fatal. But it hadn’t been a light blow at all, not one that she could be optimistic about. It had shaken her brain and caused blood to drip out of her nose. The fact that her feet had become unstable even though she hadn’t been taking on all of her burdens meant that she had taken quite a bit of damage. And it had come from a pretty girl with blue hair and a lovely face—three faces lined up that gave off the same atmosphere. What kind of joke was this?
“Please cry, Sister.”
His fist was thrown with tears in his pale-blue eyes, as if he were pleading with her. The impact from each strike reached the marrow of her very bones or even deeper into her very soul.
“Please be angry, Sister.”
She got hit in the stomach, causing her to lower her face, and then her chin was struck with an uppercut from below. She managed to avoid biting her tongue, but she was forced to eat a few elbow attacks to the head before being struck in the gut again, making her take a few steps backwards.
“Please smile, Sister.”
The deep affection in that voice plucked at Ram’s heartstrings with every word.
Rem had been sleeping in Ram’s view for a long time. Her Memories had been wiped away, and she could not recall her at all, despite having been together for their whole lives. She had been looking forward to hearing her call out to her when she woke up.
At that time, Ram wasn’t sure if she would regain her memories of her. Regardless of whether or not they came back, the first word out of Rem’s mouth would be as a special as the sound of a baby’s first cry.
“Please cry, get angry, laugh, worry, smile, feel pain, get worked up, be in a bad mood, be shy, sleep, blush, get surprised, be congratulated.”
“Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister—”
As she was about to respond, her mouth was forcefully closed by his palm and she could no longer speak. This was the monster that Ram had created by driving him into a corner. —His power was overwhelming.
There was no hesitation and no limits on how much he took out. He didn’t even seem to recognize that he had lost his sense of self, and so he did not change out of the form of Ram’s other half.
Despite the Sun and Moon being hidden, the darkness painted Gluttony perfectly.
Of course, Ram wasn’t going to let things stay as they were, either. She was going to fight back. She removed as many shackles as she could, but only as many as Subaru could handle, and then went past the limit she had placed on herself where could only stay in that form for ten seconds. This time, she would try her absolute best to kill him. But, he was a little too hard to defeat right now.
“Sister, Sister, I think it’s unlike you to look like that.”
With pursed lips, the form of her lovely little sister corrected her mistake with her fist. Although her face had been punched and smashed into the wall behind her, Ram managed to keep up with that blasphemer. However, that was the best she could do for now.
How long had it been since the battle with that monster started? There was no doubt that she had already exceeded 20 seconds of the original 10 second time limit. She had no time to count in her head, and her perception of time had been warped. However, the most important thing she needed to think about was whether she could escape or not.
She had probably been trying to help Patrasche escape with Rem, but she couldn’t remember possibly due to getting hit in the head so much. Her body felt heavy; she was out of breath; her head hurt; her throat was swelling up; her limbs felt numb; and she was bleeding from her old forehead wound. And blood was spilling out from where her horn used to be, covering her entire face.
“—Such a dirty thing, that’s no good.”
And then her blood-covered face was hit again by his palm. The blow pummeled into her body until her knees could no longer support her own weight. And when she was about to fall over, a quiet voice broke in and said “Oh no you don’t” before a kick was unleashed.
Then Ram was smashed into the wall, her sternum creaking. Before long, the material that made up the Pleiades Watchtower, which was supposed to be quite strong, lost its strength and turned into a material that could be easily broken. In other words, the wall finally shattered after that relentless assault.
Then Ram broke through the stone wall and rolled into the other side of the corridor. A thick fog of dust filled the air around her, and she coughed as blood and dust formed a powdery texture on her tongue. And her broken bones and crushed flesh immediately began to scream and shriek in pain.
Ram then craned her neck and tried to figure out where she had been kicked into.
A small, breathless sound leaked out from her mouth. It may have been due to her own disappointment or had been disappointment mixed with dismay.
Ram could see Patrasche and Rem in her sight at the end of the corridor. The distance couldn’t be more than 40 feet (12 meters) at most. —And the time she had earned was a dozen seconds that felt much longer than it should due to how much pain she was in.
“Sister, Sister, are you safe?”
As she relished in her momentary safety, Batenkaitos did not jump over the wall that he had broken, but instead tried to get over there by finding another way into the corridor.
In the meantime, Ram managed to get to her feet by pushing herself off the ground with her arms. Leaning her body against the wall, she exchanged glances with Patrasche, who was in a tattered state.
“…Yes, I know. When all is said and done, let’s punish Barusu together.”
She actually did not even know what Patrasche had said. However, the fact that the black ground dragon did not try to correct her answer meant that her answer was not wrong.
Ram had to admit that her decision had backfired on her. Not killing Batenkaitos first was the trigger for all of this. In an attempt to correct her mistake, her next step was to quickly take his life, but Batenkaitos, who survived being half-dead, was able to develop an eye for finding the best possible solution to his problems.
Ram had used up all the cards in her hand, and had been betrayed by all the cards she drew. She had been aware of her own superiority, but there was one thing she was unaware of and could do nothing about.
It hadn’t changed since the day she lost her horn and ceased being a proper Oni. However, she had not been interested in being a proper Oni, anyways, for it was Ram herself who hated the white horn that had been on her forehead. And yet, ironically, she now wished she had the horn she had lost.
—No, that’s not quite right. To be precise, the horn itself was still around.
The horn was still in Ram’s possession. Her broken horn served as the base of her favorite wand, which she always carried around with her.
The horn, which assisted in the collection of mana from the atmosphere, was a very important part of an Oni’s body, since their strong bodies needed a constant supply of mana to function properly. Therefore, as a catalyst for using magic, there was nothing that Ram was more familiar with. As a result, Roswaal went out of his way to find the broken horn and had it used as a piece in Ram’s wand.
The horn didn’t operate differently when she compared how it was used on her forehead and how it was used in her wand. It’s like this—
Ram suddenly had a thought in her mind as she was thinking about the horn. It was the same whether the horn was there or not. This was due to the fact that she had overpowered Batenkaitos. Then she mobilized her collection of knowledge in order to overcome the situation and connected all of the possibilities.
Ram had a broken horn and Rem was sleeping.
The latter was simply a consequence of what had happened, but what about the former? —Why did Roswaal retrieve Ram in the first place?
Ram knew what role Roswaal wanted her to play, and she knew he was planning something as well. She had heard that he needed her to do it, but she would only find out about it in due time, so she decided not to pry until it was necessary to do so.
However, at this moment, Ram was trying to come up with a plan so that she could survive with Patrasche, who was protecting Rem, and Rem, who continued to sleep.
It was a terribly absurd possibility, but at the same time, she couldn’t help but feel proud of her reasoning.
If it were Ram’s beloved Roswaal L. Mathers—
“It’s really something he might do even if he were to be verbally abused and thought of as a brute.”
Spilling that out, Ram pulled out the wand that had been strapped to her thigh with trembling hands. She then gazed at the wand she had used for ten years and slammed it against the wall. From the inside of the shattered wand, she saw something she hadn’t seen in a long time.
—It was just like that time when it whirled around and around so much that it became unpleasant to look at.
Batenkaitos slowly cleared the white dust from the corridor by hand and then moved forward. It was the Way of the Maid to be gentle, move with neat gestures, and to not make unnecessary noises, and that was the bare minimum they had to do in order to not feel ashamed.
Beyond the smoke was where his sister should have been. He wanted to see her various faces. He wanted to look straight into her crimson eyes that held powerful emotions and burned brilliantly. It was a desire that was so innocent that it felt like an awakening of love.
Once he got past the smoke, the first thing he saw was a black ground dragon writhing in pain. During the time he had been in contact with and speaking with his sister, the ground dragon had disappeared. He was not really interested in it, but he had to do something about the existence the ground dragon was carrying. He wanted to erase the existence that carelessly attracted his sister’s attention. He believed that only he could call his sister his sister and that his sister belonged to him alone.
“Ah, I found her.”
On the other side of the writhing ground dragon was the figure of the Sleeping Beauty leaning against the wall. She had been placed there in the perfect position, so perfect that he could easily aim at her neck or heart. He firmly decided that he must make her breathe her last breath and then move on to his sister, who was the main dish.
And then Batenkaitos noticed something as he was getting closer to the Sleeping Beauty.
—The drooping forehead of the blue-haired girl was shining with a dim light.
He wondered for a moment what that light was, but it couldn’t be possible, and his own self-awareness made him deny any answers he came up with. How could a sleeping girl do something like that?—
“I’ll make it right.”
“I thought I had been out of luck. —But, I wasn’t.”
He tried to call out to the voice he heard, but couldn’t. An attack much faster than that had struck Batenkaitos’ face. There was a sense of astonishment, and in the next moment, he felt a shockwave and was blown into the opposite direction of the corridor he had walked through.
The force of the attack had been so strong that Batenkaitos did not stop until he had broken through two walls. A feeling of surprise preceded the feelings of pain and suffering, and after trying to stand up, he immediately fell into onto his knees due to how much damage he had taken. It had been a blow that smashed his body to the core.
And then Batenkaitos wondered what on earth had happened with a look of astonishment painted on his lovely face—
“It appears that even the heavens have fallen in love with the loveliness of Ram and Rem.”
A plumb of smoke rose from the hole in the wall that he had been thrown through, and just as he was about to look beyond it, his face was grabbed by a hand faster than the speed of sound. And then, with his cheeks and jawbones creaking in their grip, he saw the person behind it.
“Unfortunately for you, Ram’s sister is sleeping over there. Synesthesia makes that clear.”
“Synesthesia. It appears that Ram and Rem were good sisters. We could share joy and anger; sorrow and pain, and so on. —The broken horn was reactivated, and the burden too.”
The meaning of her words were not clear, but what Batenkaitos had seen with his own eyes was affirmed. Before he got beaten up, what he saw on the forehead of the Sleeping Beauty leaning against the wall was a white horn. —The only thing that the daughter of the Oni’s had that allowed her to surpass her older sister.
Because it was there, because it was glowing, because it was working, what was it?
“Although it annoys me to admit that it was a hint from Barusu’s strategy, that’s okay.”
“—Don’t call Barusu’s name with that face and voice.”
In a single moment, Batenkaitos was lifted up by the face, which had been in her grasp, and slammed into the ground. Trembling, trembling, Batenkaitos’ arms and legs were involuntarily shaking. In front of him, Ram opened and closed her hands just to make sure, and was bleeding a lot from the old wound on her forehead.
However, instead of being bothered by the bleeding, Ram loosened her lips as if welcoming it. As if the blood and the pain proved that their lost bonds were real.
“If you were born in a dark place, return to that dark place. If you were born crying, die while crying.”
Then she gently wiped the blood off of her forehead with her palm and looked down at Batenkaitos with her pale crimson eyes.
Everything that Batenkaitos had done so far had been for this moment. He wanted to see that look of fury in her eyes.
—Ram looked down at the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony with cold, icy eyes.
“The second coming of the Oni God. It’s not something I’m fond of, but I’m going to perform my role, at least for today. —I’m going to tear the fake version of my lovely little sister into eight pieces this time.”