Having looked through her memories in order to know what to block, the Chancellor knew all about her final moments. Saki had been treated poorly in her previous world, and her powerlessness to save the one she loved only drove her into despair, perfect for triggering a demonification in the future.
Now, the only question that remained on his mind was whether the container of an Electi was strong enough to withstand its effects, or would she, too, fall into an unintelligible state. Having tested this on a variety of subjects and failing, the Chancellor hoped that the key to it was their mutual condition of being an Electi.
When he first demonized, he had also suffered from an enraged state, attacking everything around him. Slowly, he was able to rein in his newfound powers, grasping control of them while maintaining a sense of his own self. Time would tell whether Saki would achieve that, so he eagerly awaited the results.
After her full memories had returned, Saki’s mind became a mess. The normal Saki in this world, her possessed state as ‘Saki the Destroyer’, and her past life – they jumbled into a blob of confusion, making her unsure of who she really was. Yet, they all appeared to converge at one point – the fact that she couldn’t trust anyone. All along, she had been played around with. Everything she had done had been all for naught.
Outcast, weirdo, psycho – that was who she was. Why did she think that things would be any different? Even in a new world, she had lived a comfortable lie in which her memories were conveniently misplaced.
She was sick of it all. She was tired of being judged. The darkness seeped into her core and gave her immense power. Power – to silence the voices around her.
The handle of her large mallet started to warp from her grip. Miasma surrounded her body and clung to her appendages, forming claws and talons around them. With a snap, Saki’s weapon broke in half, the head of it rolling away. The slowly demonizing Saki threw the remainder away, not needing it any longer. It had been a weapon that hindered her true abilities anyway. It dulled the speed of her attack and forced her to limit her blows with wide, cumbersome arcs.
In truth, simply swinging her arm at something would produce the same effect. Due to her massive Atk stat, a mere slap could flatten a decent-leveled person with normal armor. A kick would tear a hole into the side of a building. With her abilities enhanced by the partial demonification, she was now a walking disaster waiting to happen.
Lau nervously eyed her.
“I may be an old man, but I really don’t consider myself expendable. I could barely parry her attacks from before. I ain’t touching that, now that she’s got claws!”
Truly, it looked like a simple swing of the arm could cut through nearly any defense. It would be too dangerous for someone to fight her in close-combat as a single mistake would result in an instant death.
“Magic! Use your magic against her! Formation B, as we planned out before!” Cornelius yelled to the members of our group.
During the return trip home, we had devised several strategies to fight against the Chancellor, who we knew was a demon harboring incredible magic powers. Depending on whether Saki became our enemy, our members were split up to face off against them.
Though we had not expected Saki to demonize, the current strategy remained the same – Facing against her with long-range magic and skills due to her limited range. In this case, Cornelius and Katsys jumped into the fray, the former pulling Eryn along to follow her lead. That left Lau and I to face off against the Chancellor.
As magic was flung across the battlefield, Lau hopped over to where I was. I was still somewhat recovering from my brief period of capture, but we didn’t have any choice but to take him down to stop his plans. I let out a sigh of relief that I wasn’t the one fighting Saki. Demon or not, I didn’t want to kill Saki. And at this point, I couldn’t rely on my cuts to hold back from delivering a lethal blow. The feeling of miasma infecting my mana seemed to give it a deadly edge like what happened when I cut the Chancellor.
“Mage Demon, we finally meet again! I will make you regret the death of Master Jiro!” Lau rushed in with a swift blow of spiraling mana.
In response, the Chancellor deflected it with a strong magic barrier.
“That technique… Why, isn’t it that disappointment of an Electi from Sanshiro? Thought you’d be dead by now after however many years it’s been.”
“The only one dying will be you!” Lau roared, sending a flurry of mana-infused attacks in his direction. Dark miasma repelled each one, shielding the Chancellor from Lau’s blows. He might as well have been pounding on an unbreakable dome. Simultaneously, he finished a chant that sent a burst of wind all around him. The effect of the magic spell lifted Lau into the air, where he did a backflip to regain his stance.
“Lau, be careful! The Chancellor is an Electi, too! Like what he’s trying to do to Saki, he has already evolved into a demonic version of one!” I warned him, recalling what he had told me not long ago.
“You don’t say. That’s his plan all along? To turn the world’s most gifted fighters into demons? So, what kind of Electi is he? What stats are left?”
I paused to think about it for a moment. I couldn’t see the Chancellor’s stats. However, Lady Kaguya had once mentioned that the same Electi do not appear concurrently. Which meant that he couldn’t be any of those that already existed.
Crit, Atk, Def, MgDef, Spd, Lck, – The only stat that seemed to be missing was Mag!
“Magic! Of course, he IS the most talented magic user in the country!”
“Well, you know what to do then!” Lau prepped his mana for another assault.
The Chancellor finished casting a spell at that moment, sending bowling ball sized orbs of hardened earth at us. I called forth my skill to see where the mana was weakest. But then, I gasped and grit my teeth as a momentary feeling of darkness clawed from inside me. It looked like I wasn’t safe from ending up like Saki.
I forced myself to bear with it as I slashed at the balls of earth in front of me. It was better than being stoned to death. Lau, on the other hand, used his dexterity to brush them all off to the side, making it appear like he was batting away balls of light styrofoam. We made our way forward, but the Chancellor had unleashed another spell already.
This time, a wave of water gushed from the ground, crashing into us. Due to the water’s lack of a defined shape, Lau couldn’t parry that, so he was swept backwards. I slashed at the wall of water in front of me with a mana-clad knife. In my case, the water parted, allowing for me to dash right up to the Chancellor for another blow. My knife sliced through the miasma shielding his body and drew blood into the air.
Stammering back slightly, the Chancellor simply smiled at my successful attack.
“Truly, your gift from the Gods is a miraculous thing. Which is even more so why I want you to turn!”
The Chancellor raised his hand. A bit too late, I noticed a surge of mana behind me. Gusts of wind knocked into my back and launched me forward. Like a doll sailing through the air, the Chancellor snatched me as I approached, lifting me right up to his face.
“What will it take? Should I destroy your home? Kill your loved ones? The more you resist, the more I’ll be forced to take!”
His gaze directed me to where the others were fighting Saki. Despite the 3-on-1 magic against a partial demon, they were not slowing her down at all. Magic flung at her was batted away with claws of miasma. Efforts to restrain her with ice were rendered ineffective as she smashed the ground in a rage, shifting the ground they stood on from the impact, thereby detaching the frozen ground around her. At this rate, they were going to run out of mana before containing her.
Was there no choice but to kill her after all?
“Oh ho, do I sense a feeling of compassion for your fellow Electi? Why not embrace your true self and become the ‘Conqueror’ you once were? Humanity is a lost cause. Living in the constraints of being human is merely a joke for those who possess power. Why not seek to rise above that? Why not transcend into that of the divine by embracing the limits of the gifts that you were granted?”
“And… be like you?” I asked the Chancellor, who was acting like some holier-than-thou prophet.
“Uncaring for anyone around them? Seeing others as merely pawns in your grand scheme? Well, no thanks. I’d rather lose and perish like the girl in my memories than be on the winning side of evil once again!”
I swung my knife at the Chancellor, nicking him in the face. It was a shallow blow that did little physical damage, but I had clearly driven my point.
“Well said, Sir Claude.”
A strong beam of earth collided into the back of the Chancellor, releasing his grip on me. I rolled away as I watched him get pummeled with enough force to destroy a castle, all concentrated into a thin column, the width of one’s palm.
That was an attack that I recognized. As the dust settled, a nostalgic old man in butler attire walked up to us. There was only one person that could fight comfortably while looking sharp, letting his thick mana be all the protection he needed.
“Young Miss Ludmila came to get me, but to my surprise, the army is gone, and a demon is in its place. It appears that I’ll have to adjust my serving tray to account for it.”
Lau came over as well, finally making his way back from being swept away by the tidal wave.
“You! You’re that bastard that took our precious Narika! How dare you show your face!”
“Excuse me, I took no one. A butler and maid are simply the essential combo for any household of nobility.”
“Butler, my ass! That’s the same mana control of that idiot who stormed his way into Sanshiro and nearly started a war! You can’t hide from me, Pythagoras!”
I looked at the two of them in shock. If we weren’t facing off against a demon of all things, it would’ve been a comical reunion.
Yet, even as the next wave of magic came flying at us, the two of them slashed and parried its effects while still trading verbal jabs at each other.
I got up to join in the fray, but suddenly, the surroundings around me flickered once again. The skill of mine was getting more difficult to control, like it wanted to run wild. And the more I used it, the worse my body felt. I checked my status window to see if something had changed. Sure enough, the mostly-empty window where my single skill had been contained another line.
‘Eyes of Ruination’
Another eye skill. This time, it carried an ominous feeling. Focusing on it, a short description popped up.
‘The vision to cleave life itself. No being can escape from its own weakness. That is the sight this bestows.’
I held up my knife, staring at my own reflection. Rather than the purple glowing irises I had with the previous skill, a visible purplish flame seemed to erupt from the corners of my eyes. My own face now gave me the chills, causing me to sink to the ground.
I watched Pietro and Lau double-team the Chancellor. Together, light blows were starting to break through his defense. But surely, they could use the help of my knife to land a decisive blow.
Over where the others were fighting, Ludmila and Yi Long had joined in to help distract Saki more while the others looked for ways to take her down. Even the magic from four separate people was not enough to bring down the raging monster that had lost control and continued stampeding around the battlefield. Fortunately for them, Katsys had portals ready to keep them out of harm’s way, no matter how fast Saki had become.
I looked once again at the ground.
Did I have no choice but to rely on that same power as in the previous world? A power that the Chancellor wanted me to use more of to hasten my downfall? What would become of me if I ended up like Saki?
‘Would I kill the others? Would the world once again end by my hands?’
The very thought of it scared me. To think, possessing nothing but ‘worthless’ skills was almost better at this point. But then again, meeting such wonderful people had been the result of it all.
“What do I do?” I mumbled to no one in particular, not expecting a reply.
But, a reply did come.
A small hand stroked my hair in a motion that I typically did for others. The same stroke of affection that one would give a child. I looked to the side to see the smallest member of our party, the elf girl named Chrysanthemum.
“Claude Evers, what do you wish to do?”