A path had opened.
The words of Abyss, the girl-shaped weapon built at the bottom level of the giant armory known as Ground’s Nir, had hinted at the existence of the Underworld and its existence provided a path toward securing a technique of directly working with the souls of living beings – and thus a means of saving the Iberian Orc souls digitally trapped inside Boo Boo’s Shining Weapon.
It felt like the dark, dark night had been swept away as the sun finally rose above the horizon.
“What is that? It’s too soon for dawn.”
“Wait, is that lava!?”
Beatrice, the Holy Swordswoman in red armor and a white miniskirt, shouted what she thought was burning its color into the sky, but she did not have the whole picture here.
The trees of the forest and the rising and falling land produced a dark horizon. And she caught occasional glimpses of something intermittently bursting toward the heavens from beyond it.
It reminded her of a raging pot boiling fiercely to bring suffering to the sinners in the depths of hell.
“...Something's happening.” Boo Boo whispered.
It could not be sensed with one’s eyes or ears, but a highly ominous sense approached like ripples. And Holy Swordswoman Beatrice, White Witch Filinion, Fighter Priest Armelina, and Ice Waterfall Princess Wildefrau all looked to the epicenter as if their eyes were drawn toward that omen.
They were afraid to look.
But they were even more afraid to not look.
It was the worst kind of internal discord, where both sides of the scale were loaded with negatives.
To find out what was happening, Boo Boo and the others wrapped bandages around the arm of Ground’s Nir Abyss, the girl doll who was resting inside the brick house’s attic, left her there, walked through the dark forest, and climbed a hill that gave them a view of the moonlit coastline.
It may have been wrong to phrase it this way in Ground’s Nir.
But a different world spread out below their eyes. i𝘯𝓷𝚛𝐞𝓪𝐝. 𝓬𝐨𝚖
That was all Beatrice managed to get out through her trembling lips.
They had come here to find the answer, whether it was a good one or a bad one. And yet what they saw before them was enough to utterly baffle them.
Let us objectively describe what they could see.
Even though it would take three days to walk the perimeter, the entire island could be swallowed whole by what they saw. That far-too-giant thing was a massive marine lifeform that looked like a half-rotted shark or killer whale. It had run aground with such force it seemed to be trying to devour the beach and the blood gushing from its rotten cross-sections was what they had originally noticed. It glowed with a bright and sinister light, just like magma erupting from a wound in the ground.
The plain but beautiful coastline, which had been covered with white sand that glittered in the moonlight, had completely changed.
It had become a Black Labyrinth. That was due to what was overflowing from the wounds of the giant rotting marine creature. They were pitch black monsters that looked like a fusion of a spider and a crab and that stood taller than a human. They swarmed out onto the beach and spewed more and more thick threads which had a deeper color than the darkness.
Yes, it was a spider web.
But instead of a flat net, it looked more like the tunnel-shaped nests found in green hedge trees. They moved front and back, left and right, up and down. As the threads intertwined, the Black Labyrinth grew and covered the moonlit white sand in the blink of an eye. The territory of death was growing. The white was stained black.
To be honest...
Beatrice had thought the Underworld’s arrival was an opportunity. If the afterlife physically existed and there were practical methods of using and interfering with what people called spirits or souls, then they could free the Iberian Orc souls trapped in Boo Boo’s Shining Weapon. If they were resurrected, they could overcome the loathsome attack on their village.
But she had been mistaken.
A war of invasion was entirely different from a war of being invaded.
This was no time to be thinking about such a distant goal. She had to focus on today. If they did not get through this battle, they would be killed and it would all be over with no hope whatsoever.
She began looking at it like that.
But even that proved naïve.
“U-umm, what is that...?”
The next realization started with a comment from White Witch Filinion.
She touched the side of her glasses, perhaps to adjust the distance that was in focus.
“I feel like...I’ve seen that equipment somewhere...?”
Another group moved independently of the spider-crab fusions weaving their Black Labyrinth to overwrite the scenery.
Were there 100 of them? 200? ...No, more than that.
Was it the moonlight shining on them, or were they faintly glowing on their own? They were perfectly visible even in this darkness void of artificial lights.
It was an army.
And they appeared to be human.
Their equipment seemed to be the same as that of a Guild with which they had once clashed.
They wore hooded cloaks along with something like bulletproof jackets made from several layers of leather and crudely-made paper. It looked like they had used fantasy materials to create the combat armor of special forces. And in addition to their Shining Weapon swords and spears that could use Magic, they also wielded machineguns made of wood and steel.
Armelina quietly spoke the name of these former soldiers.
“Is that Elkiad...?”
But something was clearly different about them.
The guns they wielded were more combat-oriented and, more importantly, this group of experienced old soldiers produced a pressure two or three layers thicker than the group that Beatrice’s party had fought in the inn town. They knew nothing but battle and they could not imagine any other way of life. This combat group had remade themselves into a single weapon.
They were Elkiad, but they were not Elkiad.
And they had come from the Underworld.
“You’re kidding, right?” One worst case scenario occurred to Beatrice. “Is this Elkiad at their prime, back when they attacked Boo Boo’s village!? Did the Underworld swallow up the souls of the fierce warriors who fought alongside the Sage and then disappeared!?”
The souls of the dead did not deteriorate with time.
And now those battle-crazed berserkers had been released onto this small island once more.
Yes. Their next battle would not end even if they died.
Even Boo Boo uttered a weak voice at that.
The people who had personally destroyed his village were rushing in en masse. And yet the long time since that event had soothed his heart with an assurance that he would never see them again. The pressure bearing down on his chest had to be far greater than for Beatrice and the others.
And then he said something more.
By the time the girls realized they had made a fundamental misunderstanding, it was too late to stop it.
To be very clear, this was not Boo Boo’s fault.
But he had always been afraid of ghosts and he was super strong. What clinched it was having the slow glasses cow, aka White Witch Filinion, standing closest to him.
The triple sevens had clicked into place.
Ding, ding, ding, ding! Bonus Round!
“I-I’m-I’m scared, squeal, I’m sc-sc-scared, scary, ghosts are scary, g-ghosts, s-scary, help meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!”
He wrapped his arms around her.
Just like a small child grabbing their mother’s skirt.
“Wait, Boo B-...abralbghebghbgebwesquish!!!???”
Filinion’s slender waist was pushed in the opposite direction of her stomach to the point that she really did seem to have been bent in half. But she was a Level Capper who specialized in recovery. As her mind faded, she luckily moved on autopilot and reached for a test tube on her bewitching thigh. If this had happened to Beatrice or Armelina, they might have been entirely helpless and died instantly.
The heated signals piercing her entire body shook her to the core, but the White Witch managed to pop off the test tube’s cap with her thumb.
(Ah, ahhh... I...I-I-I’m not dead yet. I won’t let myself die over something so stupid...)
The glasses girl then saw something odd out of the corner of her vision. The very edges of her vision were blurry as the lenses did not quite cover that portion, but she could clearly tell what this was.
It was the Holy Swordswoman who had drawn her Shining Weapon rapier and dyed her right side crimson with hellfire.
The fire raged as she spoke.
“Why are you taking advantage of this emergency to seduce my Boo Boo, cow...?”
“Gyaaaaahhh!! Is this what it feels like to be hit by Lady Hera’s lightning after Lord Zeus assaults you!!!???”
Now that the Underworld had made an appearance, what would happen if they died here?
What fate awaited White Witch Filinion as she was nearly turned into the very first test subject?
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