Chapter 185: Conclusion
Chapter 185: Conclusion
The first thing I had done since this battle started was to determine the total number of Lambda’s clones… in other words, the total number of cores and its location. Normally, I would have directly touched it to locate its position by [Scan] or [Search], but that was impossible because the opponent absorbed mana. To begin with, it was difficult to get close to them because of the number of tentacles. Therefore, the only way was to examine from a distance. Thus, the steps I took to predict the location of the cores…
[Playback time… decimal point difference… depth… calculation by angle… completion.]
One of the [Multitask] was turned to recording and arithmetic processing like an artificial intelligence. It was calculated from comparisons based on the playback speed of bullet holes made countless times with [Magnum] and [Shotgun]. In the case of regeneration, it would basically start with the core if it had that ability. Of course, there would be exceptions, but at least, Lambda’s bullet holes in front of me had a difference in regeneration speed, albeit very slight. Combining this with my intuition based on my own experience, I was able to predict to some extent the number and location of the cores.
“First, the side and the back…” (Sirius)
But even if I could predict, it would be meaningless if the attack didn’t reach the cores. All of the predicted cores were in positions where the power of [Magnum] and [Snipe] couldn’t reach, and [Antimaterial] could barely reach them. In addition, there were two cores that even the [Antimaterial] were unlikely to reach from their current position. So, if I wanted to get to them, I needed to move to the flank or rear. However, considering the possibility that Lambda could move the position of the cores, I wanted to shoot the cores as little pause as possible. Then, I took out the two remaining manastone cards, and sent the cards flying far away with a moderate [Impact].
[Which one are you aiming for?] (Lambda)
[No matter what happens, we can never let our guard down.] (Lambda)
[Let’s destroy it immediately… hmm?] (Lambda)
The cards flew left and right to avoid Lambda, but when the left card flew to the side and the right one to the rear, a magic formation was activated, creating a huge mass of light in its place. Unlike the magic initiator I had just used, the ball of light did nothing but exist there. Lambda, who had become more alert, hesitated for a moment before attacking with his tentacles.
While this was happening, I spread my hands out to the left and right, and fire two shots of [Antimaterial] at the ball of light at the same time. The huge magic bullet was fired in a direction where it couldn’t possibly hit Lambda, but as soon as it hit the ball of light, it turned almost at the right angle and landed on Lambda from a point and angle that it could never have hit from the front.
This was one of the forms that I put on the card, [Reflector]. It made mana bullets ricochet without attenuation. The problem was that with [Antimaterial], the ball of light disappeared after only one shot. I thought I just shot two cores with it, but I didn’t know if I hit it or not because I didn’t see any reaction like that. However, I didn’t seem to have missed completely as the attack on me had relaxed slightly.
[…Is it our turn?] (Lambda)
“Not yet. One more…” (Sirius)
At the same time as I breathed, I recovered mana and shot two [Antimaterial]s at the same time again. This time, the shots were directed at two cores that could be aimed at from the front. The reaction to the depletion of mana that struck in a short period of time and in rapid succession almost made me lose consciousness, but I managed to endure it and took a deep breath to recover my mana before moving on to the next preparation. If all went well, there should be one or two cores left. While the tentacles were slowing down, I turned my attention to the ground, and that was when…
“Next is… kugh!?” (Sirius)
After four big moves, there was a gap, and all the tentacles that suddenly became active couldn’t be avoided, and one tentacle entangled my leg.
‘That’s not good. I wonder if the reason I miss it even though I was aware about the location of the cores was because he was aiming for this moment. I had doubted he would sacrifice several of his own clones for the sake of a single tentacle, but in Lambda’s case, I guess it’s enough.’
As proof of this, I was unable to escape from the tentacles that blocked my natural movement even slightly. My entire body was enveloped by the tentacles that swarmed around me one after another.
[As expected. You’re still dangerous. I will crush you slowly.] (Lambda)
These tentacles could easily crush a human body, but I was barely safe thanks to [PAS]. However, the stranglehold by the overwhelming mass made it impossible to move. Since the mana was also absorbed, it was likely that [PAS] would disappear at this rate. In the previous life, sparks would have been flying while making a disgusting sound.
[Be my food. Become my blood and flesh.] (Lambda)
I took a deep breath even as I listened to his voice even though the situation was hopeless at best.
‘This is really the last trump card I have.’
As the force and the sound of tentacles squeezing became even more intense, I regulated my breathing and then sent instructions to [PAS].
[Lowering output… lower… release… preparation…]
[Directional… input complete… release… three… two…]
The instructions were to deactivate the [PAS]. Of course, if I did that, I would be strangled to death instantly, but instead of just releasing it, I converted all the remaining mana in the armor into a shockwave that blew away all the tentacles that were entangled with me.
It was a means that seemed completely self destructive, but the direction of the shockwave was limited to outward. Thus, there was almost no damage to me. The shockwave from the mass of extremely compressed magic power was powerful enough to destroy even a light castle wall at close range, but it seemed to have little effect on the tree, which was the main body of Lambda. However, the real aim was to escape the binding and make a way down to the ground. This was where the preparations finally began.
[You’re still able to escape, huh? But with this, things that protect you are…] (Lambda)
[No, no. We don’t need it anymore. All that’s left is to attack!] (Lambda)
Lambda, who had maintained his composure, couldn’t hide his surprise. After all, Shishou had been impaled on the tree that was Lambda’s body, in the midst of the shockwave. If it was a stab, Lambda wouldn’t have been able to get through, but the power of the sacred tree interfered with the opponent and almost stepped the tentacles from moving. This method was possible because it was the same plant and Shishou was the Holy Tree.
It would have been better if I had done this from the beginning, but it seemed that it was impossible for even Shishou to completely seize Lambda’s main body since she was basically a twig… in a knife state. According to her, the limit was to stop its movement for a few seconds. Furthermore, if the tentacles were attached to the main body of Lambda for a long time, there was a possibility that the tentacles would be swallowed by the main body, and it was likely that countermeasures would be taken soon.
In the meantime, I headed to the ground and threw the two short sticks I had on my back straight down.
“Set completed. Create… start.” (Sirius)
Upon landing on the ground, I took out a manastone and placed it near the two sticks stuck in the ground to channel mana. When the manastone and the [Create] magic formation engraved on the stick were activated by mana, the stick became thinner and stretched many times, and the raised soil began to deform as it took in the stick.
[Guh… this could be a piece of the Holy Tree, but this is the extent of it!] (Lambda)
[Yes. Then, shall we stop it?] (Lambda)
The thing that was created by strengthening and transforming the soil with mana in this way was… a large rifle with a long barrel that was big enough to be attached to the waist and held with both hands. It looked like something like a giant space-fighting robot in outer space that appeared in the creations of the previous life, but it had been a long time since I had actually held a firearm in my hands like this. After confirming that Shishou had returned from Lambda as if she had been shot, I poured all the mana I had into the rifle I held in my magic.
[What kind of mana is that? It seems to be your last trump card.] (Lambda)
The mana that couldn’t be contained in the rifle began to overflow, and a torrent of blue-white lighting-like torrent ran around me. Apparently, Lambda was trying to launch a powerful attack, but he didn’t show impatience because he was convinced I couldn’t get through the core I was targeting.
In fact, the core I was aiming at wasn’t only in a position where magic bullets couldn’t reach from any angle, but also seemed to have become so strongly armored condition. I was doubtful that even [Antimateriel] could penetrate it since the density of the trees around it had been increased to make it sturdier. In addition, he had begun to position his tentacles as if they were walls to protect himself. It seemed that he was willing to take it and aim for a counterattack as before. Well, even if he wanted to interrupt my attack, the torrent of blue mana and Shishou prevented him from doing so. It couldn’t be helped for him to devote himself to defense.
[It’s a weapon I’ve never seen before, but since it’s magic, it’s useless to me.] (Lambda)
Certainly, as he said, if he had a body that could absorb even mana bullets, he wouldn’t feel a threat to magic, and if I wanted to hit something with his mass, I would have to hit him with a huge rock like a mountain. That was how big the size difference between me and him was. However…
“Sorry, this isn’t just magic.” (Sirius)
The rifle was loaded with a special bullet made of Gravilite, which was heavy, sturdy and conducted magic well. To be exact, this was like a stake because there was no gunpowder, but it was several times larger than ordinary bullet and so thick that one would think of them as small artillery shells. And this rifle wasn’t just any rifle. It was a weapon that channeled mana of a nature similar to electricity into two rods taken inside and made bullets propagate through them and fire them. In other words, it was a [Rail Cannon] that shot bullets at high speed by electromagnetism that existed in the previous life.
Since there were parts that had been further enhanced by mana and improved in my own way using the characteristic of magic, it could actually be said to be a different weapon that even surpassed the [Rail Cannon] of the previous generation. There was no way that Lambda would instantly recognize the specification of a weapon based on technology from another world. Then, I pulled the trigger as soon as the mana built up in my rifle.
“[Lightning Bullet]… Fire!” (Sirius)
A bullet was fired from the muzzle of the rifle, emitting lightning and shockwaves from the entire rifle. The recoil from the hybrid of the mystery of magic and the crystallization of science was tremendous. If I hadn’t shot multiple [String]s into the ground as anchors, I would have been blown far backwards.
[This magic-…!?] (Lambda)
As the name Lightning suggested, the bullet was released like a flash and penetrated not only the tentacle wall but also Lambda’s body like air, making a hole through which the view on the other side could be clearly seen. The hole was clearly larger than the bullet, probably because the shock wave of the bullet created in flight was stronger than expected. Even though it was large enough for a large horse carriage to easily pass through, it would have been a small hole from the perspective of the entire tree.
‘Since I have shot all the cores I’m fully aware of, if it ends here…’
“…As expected, there are still cores.” (Sirius)
The hole made by the bullet began to regenerate. I thought about firing another round into that guy if that was the case, but the recoil from the shot would damage the entire rifle, and the hassle of reloading the next round would make it impossible to do so immediately. Lambda surrounded me with his new sprouted tentacles as I hastily began to do emergency measures to the rifle.
[Phew… I don’t think you have prepared with either shields or weapons. This time it’s over.] (Lambda)
Normally, I should have immediately dropped my rifle and kept my distance to avoid the tentacles, but I didn’t bother. I took out the next bullet while activating another magic. The time required to be able to fire again was only a few seconds, but even that small amount of time wasn’t allowed, and just as the tentacles around me were about to start moving…
With a shout from Strongest Sword that shook the battlefield, a huge blade of light… [Hard Break] that could cut through mountains was slammed right through my right side and into Lambda. Yes… before this battle started, I had asked Jii-san to stand by if I was fighting Lambda as for insurance in case I lost and as for backup in case of a situation like the one I was in now. But still, it was almost the same time I sent a [Call] signal. Jii-san’s wild intuition was really reliable. However, the special move unleashed by Jii-san was a blade of light due to the convergence of mana. Therefore, the effect is thin, and it seemed that there were only two large cracks diagonally.
“Your assault is brilliant! I’m excited!” (Lior)
Without a pause, he unleashed [Hard Break] once more, and a blade of light passed through my left side, causing more wounds to Lambda. No matter how many of them he unleashed in a row, it wouldn’t do much damage against lambda, but it was enough to buy me some time. I wasn’t sure how much damage I could do, but because of those two swings, most of the tentacles around me had been ripped off. Thanks to him, my work went smoothly and I held the rifle that was barely fireable again. This time I pointed its muzzle to the ground. The aim was just below Lambda, at the roots which were hidden and invisible in the ground.
[A little further up… yes, that’s where it’s at. It doesn’t look too deep.] (Shishou)
If it was a tree, I didn’t need to be told that the roots were important, and it was in the shape of a bulb when he appeared before leaving the front line base. Therefore, the rood had been located before the battle began, but if I had targeted it from the beginning, it would have alerted the enemy. Most importantly, I hadn’t grasped the depth at which the core was located, and I could only aim for it at the end. However, it seemed that Shishou had checked the area while I held that guy stranded, and I had a general idea of where it was located.
“The rest is luck. I depend on you…” (Sirius)
Following Shishou’s guidance, I took aim and fired [Lightning Bullet] again. However, the rifle finally reached its limit when the bullet was shot. The main body of the rifle self-destructed as soon as it fired, falling apart and scattering, unable to withstand the recoil.
“Kuh!? Is it still… no good with this!?” (Sirius)
In the midst of a heavy dust storm, I checked the landing point, which was slightly cleared, and found what appeared to be a huge bulb deep in the hole. It was much larger than the one we had seen before, so I could be sure that it was the weak spot. In addition, the rifle, which had been half destroyed, seemed to have lost half of its power. The bullets only scraped the surface of the bulb a little, but it didn’t seem to be fatal.
‘If I don’t follow up immediately, he would regenerate or defend himself, but since the rifle is broken, it doesn’t have enough power to release [Antimaterial]. I couldn’t use [Magnum] as well since he would absorb it. My knife… is light and fragile. Other weapons with more mass… yes, that’s it!’
[I… can’t lose!] (Lambda)
But as soon as my next move flashed, multiple tentacles were approaching from above my head. Even if I wanted to run away, I was in a situation where I couldn’t put any strength into my legs due to the previous blow, and it was difficult even to avoid.
There was no time to recover mana. A few direct hits were unlikely to be avoided, but… I would avoid fatal injuries at any costs. Lambda probably abandoned the area that was scraped in favor of his aim at me, and I didn’t see any tentacles trying to protect the core.
It was a dangerous situation, but also an opportunity. I decided to protect only the parts necessary for the next attack, and when I put my hand behind my waist… I noticed a presence approaching me… while tearing the wind.
It was Emilia, who flew in the air like a bullet, with her silver hair. However, the momentum was at such a speed that it completely ignored the landing. The trajectory was such that she was likely to hit me if she continued at this rate. Moreover, I had a bad premonition after looking that she was full of wounds.
‘No way… do you want to push me in your place!?’
I thought about stopping Emilia with [Impact] at worst, but looking into her eyes, I understood that it was a groundless spear.
“All the remaining mana… it’s here!” (Emilia)
Emilia’s eyes radiated the will of hope that we would all survive. Emilia cut off the tentacles approaching from above me with [Air Slash] and reached out toward me without slowing down her flight at all.
‘I see, Emilia is aiming for this…’
I grabbed her outstretched hand and flew in the sky, pulled by her as she continued to fly forward. The destination was of course Lambda’s core. However, there was no momentum to reach directly to the core, and if this continued, I would likely fall a bit short to the core, but it would be enough to get close.
“I’m going to throw!” (Sirius)
Emilia magically cut off the tentacles approaching from behind, and once again, I took out a sword from behind my waist. It was a small sword that Dee once gave me, but I rarely had a chance to use it because I was mainly using knives and magic. At this time around, it was a bit of a charm.
I threw the sword, which was made of heavy Gravilite but lightened by the magic formation engraved in old days, at the core of Lambda with all my might. I was now holding hands with Emilia, but she moved in time with my movements, so I was able to throw the sword with almost the same momentum. Just before throwing it, the sword was overflowing with mana and it destroyed the magic formation on it. The original weight returned, so the weight and momentum drove it deep into the care.
[Guh!? With just a sword!?] (Lambda)
“…I leave it to you.” (Sirius)
Shishou’s knife plunged in for good measure, pushing the sword even deeper into the core as it pushed on the hilt of the sword that was stabbed earlier. Since it seemed dangerous for Shishou to touch the core directly, she stabbed the sword to the center of the core as if the sword was a shield. Then, I activated the magic formation engraved on the knife that also made Shishou able to move freely. The magic formation that was activated was… self destruction in order to conceal information.
“It’s over… Lambda.” (Sirius)
The power of that was a bit modest since its mana had been depleted in the battle so far, but it would be deadly if an explosion that scattered flames were to occur inside. However, by the time the activation magic was channeled, Emilia and I had fallen to the ground without being able to disperse the momentum. We could only hear the explosion and feel the vibration. Then, after turning a few turns and stopping, I looked up and saw only destruction and burn marks from the explosion where the core had been.
“Emilia, are you alright?” (Sirius)
“Y-yes. I’m alright, but how about you, Sirius-sama?” (Emilia)
“I’m alright too.” (Sirius)
Although I hadn’t let my guard down, there was no retaliation from Lambda at all. While I recovered mana with deep breaths, the surrounding tentacles that had newly sprouted just now lie on the ground without power. Emilia, who still laid next to me, muttered slowly as she examined the surroundings with her nose.
“Could it be… that we have defeated him?” (Emilia)
“It seems so. Well, there isn’t any strong mana activity nearby.” (Sirius)
“Nuooo-! Are you alright, Emilia!?” (Lior)
Jii-san, who was probably held back by Lambda’s tentacles, approached us without swinging his sword. I didn’t think there was any hostile entity nearby. As I raised my upper body and checked the surroundings again, I noticed that Emilia, who hadn’t moved since she fell down, was smiling bitterly.
“Please forgive me. I would like to get you some water and clothes, but I’m still not able to move…” (Emilia)
“It’s fine. Keep on resting. Goodness… you were reckless.” (Sirius)
“Not as much as you, Sirius-sama. In fact, I’m very happy that I made it in time.” (Emilia)
In my previous life, when I fought a powerful entity similar to Lambda, I was cut off from support by my allies due to the enemy’s scheme and ended up fighting them off after being forced to take on the challenge alone. This was partly because I myself had become stronger, but most of all, it was because I was supported by Emilia, Jii-san, Reus and the others, who were fighting at a distance.
In particular, the fact that Reus and his group continued to reduce the number of monsters slowed Lambda’s regenerative ability, albeit only slightly, and made it much easier to identify the core by the way the wounds closed. Anyhow… I survived. I felt that I finally broke through an invisible barrier.
“I’m alive and well because of you all. Thank you.” (Sirius)
“Ehehe. I gladly accept your words.” (Emilia)
Emilia was tattered due to fatigue from fierce battles and dirt from the soil, but she still gave a pretty smile that never faded. I stroked her lovely head as if to express my gratitude.
After that, there was still no response from Lambda, and when the old man was right in front of me, I slowly stood up.
“Oh… what a mess! I said I didn’t like it because my Emilia was so hurt!” (Lior)
“I’m sure it’s just dirt, but not serious injuries. This is also thanks to you, Ojii-chan.” (Emilia)
“Hmmm!? Ughh… I guess I can be happy.” (Lior)
Emilia was able to fly at that acceleration because she had Jii-san pushing her with his sword. Even though she couldn’t afford to use mana to move, it was really unreasonable. Perhaps, it was also because of my influence.
“Jii-san, I’m going to check on things over there. Please take care of Emilia for a bit.” (Sirius)
“I know. You don’t have to ask me!” (Lior)
“Don’t worry about it. I’m just going to check on it for a bit, and I have to collect that one too.” (Sirius)
My entire body was sore from fatigue, but since mana had already been recovered, there was no problem moving lightly. As I approached the area where the core was located with caution, the smell of burned trees from the explosion came into my nose. It didn’t seem to be toxic, so I stepped into the burnt area and walked around while keeping an eye on the ground.
“…It’s here. Yes, yes, I’ll retrieve it right away…” (Sirius)
It was Shishou’s knife that I was looking for. It couldn’t move or talk because the magic tool that attached to the knife had disappeared, but I was sure she would complain that I should retrieve as soon as possible The knife was completely unscathed by the explosion that blew up the core which was bigger than my body, but it got dirty and needed to be cleaned. As I quickly pick up the knife before more nitpicking that would come later, I braced myself as something fell from above.
“-!? You…” (Sirius)
What fell in front of me was one of the physical parts of Lambda that had grown out of the tree. When he was a human, he only had the upper half of his body left, and that part was completely drained of color and it was pure white. From a distance, one would think that it was a dead piece of wood that had fallen. Yet, that part of Lambda was still alive, crawling slowly toward me with both hands.
‘It’s not me, but this knife huh…’
“I’m not surprised that you’re still alive, but you already seem to have no strength to fight.” (Sirius)
Lambda, who I would almost treat as a residue, looked up at me with unfocused eyes as I held Shishou’s knife in my hand. His face was expressionless, as if he were wearing a mask, but somehow, he exuded a sense of frustration and resignation.
[You… that power… where did you…] (Lambda)
“It’s a power of the world that you don’t know, but it’s probably another reason that you lost.” (Sirius)
Lambda didn’t play any tricks, but drove me into a corner with a solid attack that made use of his abilities and physical strength. I could sympathize with him as well as it was one way to defeat an opponent you recognize as a strong enemy. There was no doubt that he was calm, but still, he was also intoxicated by the power he had acquired. I understood that he had come forward to take revenge with his own hands, and if he had the power to easily reap even a country, there was no need to think about the detail, but in his case, it was a completely bad move.
He was a person who produced results behind the scenes through command, research and development, and he lacked of experience of fighting himself. Therefore, when he tried to defeat me, he was overwhelmed by the existence in front of him and overlooked the changes in the surroundings.
“If you had figured out why I could find the weak spots and reduced the sacrifice of your clones, maybe the outcome would have been different.” (Sirius)
It was partly because of my desperate attempts to get him to look at me, but I thought if one of the Lambdas had looked at the whole thing objectively, he could have noticed a lot of things. However, I couldn’t beat him with all my trump cards either, and in the end, I managed to beat him with everyone’s support. It would have been possible for either of us to have won, and both of us would have had things to reflect on, but the outcome had already come out. That was probably why Lambda didn’t say a word of resentment and kept looking at me silently.
I couldn’t believe that he would come back from this, and since it was an opportunity to be without people around, I decided to ask him the same question as before.
“What makes you want the power of the Holy Tree? Despite this outcome, you would have had enough power to bring down the country.” (Lambda)
[What I want is… a piece of the Holy Tree. But it’s not me… it’s him…] (Lambda)
“Him? As expected, someone gave you the knowledge, right?” (Sirius)
[My revenge… has been crushed. But… at least… giving the Holy Tree… to him…] (Lambda)
After asking several more questions, it seemed that there was a mentor-like figure who had imparted various knowledge and skills to Lambda, just as I had predicted. He wanted to repay his mentor, who was also his benefactor, by crawling to me. However, touching Shishou’s knife in such a near-death state would have annihilated him. At the same time, Lambda told me where to find him, and even asked me to deliver the Holy Tree to him. To put it blindly, it was beyond brazen, but Lambda was at his limit that he couldn’t think straight.
Of course, there was no reason to hear such a request. To begin with Lambda and I were enemies. According to him, it didn’t seem that the guy was interested in us or Sandor. It would be strange to antagonize him, so it would be best not to get involved unless I had a reason to. That was what I thought but…
“…I understand. You won’t get the outcome that you want, but I’ll go see him.” (Sirius)
There was something in the conversation that I couldn’t help but notice, and I responded to it reflexively.