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Chapter 240 - The death of a god of war

Death Mage 240 – The death of a god of war

It was roughly 50,000 years ago when Fitun lived as a human. It was a staggering amount of time for a human to imagine… and a considerably long time even to a god.

At his core, Fitun was a fanatic for combat, a thrill-starved battle junkie.

As a human, he had desired strength. Power was necessary. Weak soldiers on a battlefield were not combatants, but worthless things to be used as a meat shield. They did not have the ability to enjoy combat or feel any thrills; they were simply cut down like weeds.

In order to be able to continue enjoying battle, the strength to survive was needed. The archery skill to shoot down mounted foes, the agility to dance around a heavily-armored soldier, the combat prowess to mow down lightly-armed fighters – all kinds of strength were needed in order to survive battles against mages, adventurers and mercenaries.

After going through the effort to become a mercenary, after all of the training that had left him vomiting blood, a single battlefield wasn’t enough for Fitun. He wanted to experience as many battlefields as possible, and to experience each for as long as possible.

But naturally, Fitun had desired not only strength, but money as well, in addition to fame, drink, food, women and every other pleasure conceivable. But the reason he desired these was because he wanted to steep his body with the feverish excitement that came with the taste of battle.

Money was necessary to attain proper equipment. In order to be hired to fight on the battlefields that Fitun found so fascinating, he had needed fame… achievements.

The alcohol, food and women to enjoy between battles were also important. In order to feel the thrill of being so close to death, Fitun needed to be living. It was because he was living a fulfilling life that he had been able to feel the raw thrill of death.

He was paid to kill, enjoyed his food and drink at banquets, and made love to women. The next day, he would resume his training and look for his next battlefield. His lifestyle had consisted of endless repetitions of that cycle.

Thus, Fitun had thought that he would die on a battlefield one day.

But before he knew it, he had been the one who was leading a mercenary band, and as a result of their rampages across the land, the war had ended.

The nation hiring Fitun had achieved victory in a messy war and risen to become a great nation, ending the era of war between rival warlords.

Fitun had hastily searched for his next battlefield, but unfortunately, the minor conflicts between small nations had not been enough to satisfy him. Even if he wanted to betray the great nation that he had once served, there had been none in that nation more powerful than Fitun.

He had been left with no choice but to wait for the next war. He would have to endure until the great nation fractured once more, and a new powerful foe was born.

But despite being a living legend, in the end, he was still a human. His incredible Vitality had allowed him to live for over 120 years, but in the end, he had reached the end of his lifespan before the great nation ever fractured.

The people had mourned him as the hero who had helped in the foundation of their nation, the one who had brought them victory after victory on the battlefield. They had thanked him for ending the chaos and bringing them peace.

They had been unaware that Fitun was the one who had desired more than anyone for that peace to become undone.

But thanks to the people’s prayers, Fitun had joined the ranks of the gods after his death. As someone who was filled with regret that he had not been able to die on the battlefield, this was more than he could have ever asked for.

He would become a god and throw himself into battles against the remnants of the Demon King still lurking in the shadows of the world as well as Vida and the gods who served her within the Boundary Mountain Range of the Bahn Gaia continent.

His blood would boil and his flesh would dance once more, and he would even be facing evil gods whom he would have stood no chance against when he was a mortal. He had expected and hoped that he would fight fierce battles unlike any that he had ever experienced before.

But those hopes had been betrayed. What had awaited him was the task of adjusting the power of the wind-attribute that filled Lambda, in order to maintain and manage the world. And the task of leading the believers who offered him prayers, nurturing them just as he had been nurtured before becoming a god.

He had spent his days tending to the world like a gardener would tend to his garden, and guiding his believers with far less effort and care than he had taken when training new soldiers as a mortal.

Of course, he had not forgotten that enemies did exist, such as the remnants of the Demon King’s army, the gods who served Vida, and Zantark, the god of fire and destruction who was said to have descended into madness. It had been decided that if these enemies were to make a move, Fitun would lead the heroic spirits in battle along with the other war-gods.

But the evil gods that had once been a part of the Demon King’s army would only move their followers in their plots and schemes; they would never take action on their own. The gods of Vida’s faction had holed up within the Boundary Mountain Range, and Zantark on the Dark Continent, showing no signs of wanting to leave.

Fitun and his subordinates were fully prepared, but they had no choice but to continue their tedious work, as they were not blessed with the opportunity for actual combat.

Fitun was aware that he had been given an honorable task, one that could only be performed by a god.

But it was not the heated, stimulating, thrilling role that Fitun had desired.

Gathering the members of his former mercenary band who had died before him and become familiar spirits and heroic spirits of other gods, gathering believers, granting pointless divine protections.

He had nothing to do but gather promising individuals and watch as they fought for their lives in the ‘Dungeon of Trials’ that he had created.

During that time, the great nation that Fitun had worked for had fallen, and even its name had been forgotten. A world of conflict had come about once more, and Fitun had felt envy as its inhabitants enjoyed the war. But he had been unable to descend upon the world himself; he could do nothing other than watch.

Before he knew it, ten thousand years, twenty thousand years had passed. The memories and desires Fitun had felt as a mortal had been forgotten, and he had become just another one of the many other gods serving Alda.

But with the emergence of Vandalieu, the desires slumbering with him had awakened.

And Vandalieu had fulfilled those desires, far more than Fitun had even imagined. Of course, those desires being fulfilled too much would be problematic.

Fitun liked battles to the death, and did not dislike combat in which he was at a disadvantage. But he felt anger when he was wounded. And it was not that Fitun wanted to lose.

Even now, he was suffering from the pain in his entire body, having been eaten from within by Vandalieu’s ‘Bloodlust.’

He had healed his body’s injuries with healing magic, but he was unable to heal his own soul. He had no choice but to endure this pain, but…

Speaking of pain, what happened to the others? he suddenly wondered.

The ‘Curse of Consequence of Action’ caused Fitun to feel not only the pain that he himself had caused, but also the pain inflicted by the heroic spirits serving him. But the instances of that pain had become fewer and fewer before he realized it.

The transparent, membrane-like wall of space was isolating this area from the outside world, but Fitun could see Kanako and her companions fighting against Bobby and the other heroic spirits on the other side of it. It seemed that the heroic spirits were at a disadvantage as they had lost one member, but they seemed to be holding on.

But what had happened to the other heroic spirits?

The fact that the instances of pain I feel are fewer, it means that they are inflicting less wounds upon the enemy. Have they been killed? Now that I think about it, the city is unharmed. The battle is continuing outside the gates, but that’s all, Fitun thought. Damn, I suppose this is the best we could do with a hastily-made plan.

In order to secure fighting forces, Fitun had prepared improvised bodies for his heroic spirits to be incarnated in, and also prepared arms that they could use even after using ‘Heroic Spirit Transformation.’

But as expected, it had been impossible to prepare the exact arms that they had wielded fifty thousand years ago. Some of them had been preserved by being enshrined in Churches and such, but there were many cases where they could not be recovered straight away because they had been lost or now belonged to someone else.

Thus, much of the armor used by the heroic spirits were items that they had chosen from the treasure boxes and treasure chamber of Fitun’s own ‘Dungeon of Trials.’ But this had not been an option for their weapons. Their enemy was Vandalieu, who in some ways wielded the fragments of the Demon King even better than the Demon King Guduranis.

If they were to kill him, they would need Orichalcum weapons or Demon King equipment.

Thus, Fitun had sent Divine Messages to the clergymen of a Church that worshiped him and commanded them to open their secret treasure chambers. He had thus acquired several pieces of equipment, including equipment made with the Demon King’s bone marrow, as well as the Orichalcum scimitars that he had used himself when he was a mortal.

Although there had still not been enough equipment for all of the heroic spirits, Fitun had used his power as a god to refine Orichalcum and coat Mythril and Adamantite weapons with it to create improvised Orichalcum weapons.

And even that wasn’t enough… but they’ve done very well if they’ve inflicted that much pain on Vandalieu’s pawns. I’m sure his reinforcements aren’t arriving because they’re either exhausted from fighting my subordinates, or because he’s mistaken to believe that they were victorious, Fitun thought. But I don’t have any reinforcements either. Well, that can’t be helped. If I am to be honest, it was not a pleasant plan to begin with.

“Now then, we’re out of time. I’ll have you help me this time, Akira,” Hajime Fitun said to Akira, who was still looking at the smoke from the explosion that had incinerated Misa Anderson.

“Help you out? … Just do as you like. Go ahead and let out some lightning powerful enough to break these walls of space or erase the ‘Bloodlust,’ if you want. We’ll be coming back,” said Akira.

“Coming back? What are you talking about, Akira?” groaned Murakami, who had been sent flying by Orbia, as he got to his feet.

Like Akira, he was almost completely unaffected by ‘Bloodlust,’ as Vandalieu had used all of it as fuel for ‘Flaming Prison Death.’

He pulled out the knife that was still lodged inside him and drank a foul-tasting Potion. Now healed, he was able to continue fighting. He possessed the ‘Super Mana Recovery’ Skill, so Mana wasn’t a problem either.

His failure earlier was due to the fact that he had not expected that Vandalieu would still have a Ghost like Orbia up his sleeve, but he would not fall for the same trick twice.

Akira stared at Murakami in disbelief. “What do I mean?! Misa’s been devoured! Don’t you understand? We’re at a disadvantage here! One that can’t be overturned, at that! We should retreat! It’s troublesome to have to die and do things over, but it’s better than having our souls broken. Don’t you understand that? Don’t tell me you’ve been infected by this god’s fanaticism for battle!”

Murakami gave Akira’s words some consideration. Indeed, Akira was certainly correct.

Vandalieu had become much more powerful than Murakami had expected, and they had lost Misa. It was possible for them to continue fighting, but it was difficult to imagine that they would be victorious if they did so.

The fear of having one’s soul destroyed… that fear was actually difficult to feel for someone who was a mortal rather than a god. For an atheist who believed in no religions, one could say that this fate was no different from death.

But to reincarnated individuals like Murakami and Akira, having one’s soul destroyed and having their existence extinguished was true death.

Of course, the situation had changed since the last time Murakami and his companions returned to Rodcorte’s Divine Realm. It was even possible that Rodcorte would deem Murakami and Akira useless and return them to the circle of transmigration like every other dead soul.

Their souls would remain intact this way, but… to Murakami, who was a mortal rather than a god, being reincarnated as another organism with his memories and personality erased was not much different from having his existence extinguished.

But if he continued to fight here out of the fear that Rodcorte would give up on him, was there any hope of victory?

I came to this battle thinking that we have no choice but to make a gamble, even if the odds aren’t in our favor, but… I suppose we had no hope from the moment Vandalieu closed off this space and used ‘Bloodlust.’ We might have had more of a chance if we’d formed an alliance with Fitun and provided him with information from the very beginning rather than try to leave it all to him, Murakami sighed to himself. With that being the case, it seems that it would be best to do as Akira says – Retreat for now and wait for someone from Origin who’s likely to join us to die and be reincarnated here.

“Alright… I’m going to kill myself. I’m sure Rodcorte’s making a big fuss in his Divine Realm right about now, but he shouldn’t have any problems recovering our souls,” Murakami said.

Akira gave a sigh of relief, seeing that Murakami seemed to have come to his senses.

Both of them pressed the slightly difficult-to-use switches in their minds. The pain would only last one second. Their hearts would stop, and their souls would leave their bodies in less than a second.

But during that single moment –

“‘Lightning Fate Grasp!’” Hajime Fitun murmured from behind.

Murakami and Akira groaned as they were pierced by the powerful lightning released by Hajime Fitun.

The shockwave produced by the lightning destroyed the walls of space, causing the space-attribute Ghosts to groan and scatter.

Hajime Fitun gave a satisfied smile as he looked at Murakami and Akira, who had just attempted to kill themselves.

“What do you think? I did as I liked. Did you not know how fast lightning is? I don’t even need a single second to shock you!” he said triumphantly.

“W-what is… the meaning of this?!” Murakami gasped.

He and Akira turned to face Hajime Fitun. Despite their bewilderment, they were trying to retaliate.

But their bodies would not move, and Murakami’s abilities would not activate despite him willing them to.

“There was an opening before your souls left your bodies, so I made use of it! I used electricity to force your hearts to move, and sealed your souls within your bodies using my power as a god!” said Hajime Fitun.

Hajime Fitun had seized Murakami and Akira in that single moment it had taken for their souls to be recovered by Rodcorte. The ‘Marionette’ ability did not have the power to seal souls within bodies, but this feat was possible for the lightning of Fitun, the god of thunderclouds.

This was normally a way to maintain cardiopulmonary functions and hold the soul inside the body in order to save someone on the verge of death, but in this case, Fitun had used it to put Murakami and Akira in the palm of his hand.

“W-what? Did you… really want to… kill us that badly?” Murakami groaned, still in pain.

“I did, but that isn’t why I did it!” he sneered. “I did it so I can use those abilities of yours to kill Vandalieu!”

“You bastard! You damn… brat…!”

Hajime Fitun gave a loud laugh. “You’re still trying to act like you’re my teacher? … Don’t look down on me! I’ve shut your soul in your bodies, and I’ll control you with my electrical currents! Rodcorte won’t be able to interfere so long as your souls are still inside your bodies! I’ll release you once the battle is over… though your nerves will probably have burnt out by then, so you’ll die the second I do. But you don’t mind, right? You’re intending to die either way! Now then, let’s work together, Murakami-sensei!”

Having lost control over his body due to Hajime Fitun’s lightning, Murakami felt fear. How would things turn out if the battle against Vandalieu continued in this situation? Murakami’s soul would be devoured if Hajime Fitun lost, and even if he won, it was possible that Murakami might lose his sanity from the pain.

To begin with, there was no way that Hajime Fitun would be able to achieve a flawless victory against Vandalieu. It wasn’t difficult to imagine that he would use Murakami’s body as a shield at some point during the battle, causing his soul to be devoured in the process.

But Hajime Fitun currently controlled even the activation of Murakami’s abilities. There was nothing Murakami could do.

Hajime Fitun snickered. “I’ve now got companions that share my mind in different bodies. It makes me sick, even though it’s only through electrical currents, but I’ll endure it for your sake. Now then… where is he coming from?” he murmured, noticing Vandalieu’s footsteps coming through the smoke that still hadn’t faded away.

Fitun knew that Vandalieu was hiding in the smoke and waiting to see what move he would make.

The truth was that Vandalieu was not simply hiding; he had cast ‘Death Delay’ when Murakami and Akira tried to kill themselves. Even with their ‘Death Attribute Resistance,’ it would have taken them at least a minute to die. Vandalieu had intended to use ‘Flaming Prison Death’ once more during that time, killing them with the explosion and devouring their souls.

As Hajime Fitun had acted first, Vandalieu had not needed to resort to this, a method that could have caused him to be burned by his own spell.

“But there is no time for us to be trying to stare at each other through this smoke,” Hajime Fitun muttered.

As Hajime Fitun was wielding his power as a god with the ‘God Transformation’ Skill active, he would die if he exceeded his limits. That was true even considering the fact that Hajime was a reincarnated individual with a body that had been created through the divine power of Rodcorte.

“I’ll make my move first! ‘Twin Flying Lightning Blade!’” Hajime Fitun shouted.

He used a martial skill and unleashed a shockwave by swinging his Demon King equipment curved swords in a cross pattern… not towards the other side of the smoke, but towards the city of Morksi that was visible in the distance.

The city was between one and two kilometers away, but such distance did not matter. In this world, an A-class adventurer could split a small mountain in two if they unleashed their full strength. Considering that Hajime Fitun was the physical incarnation of a war god, it would be easy for a full-power shockwave produced by his Demon King equipment weapons to destroy a mere city wall.

But Vandalieu leapt from inside the smoke in front of the shockwave, revealing himself.

“‘Steel Wall,’ ‘Steel Form,’” he murmured.

He activated the Demon King’s carapace on both of his arms, with his liquid metal armor and the Demon King’s exoskeleton protecting his body, and blocked Hajime Fitun’s attack.

But it seemed that this move had been anticipated.

“Stop!” Murakami shouted.

One of Vandalieu’s arms was frozen in place.

“‘Divine Lightning Enchantment!’ ‘Twin Crescent Flying Slash Dance!’” Hajime Fitun shouted, sending a series of even more powerful shockwaves towards the now-immobile Vandalieu.

Unable to withstand this, Vandalieu’s carapace and exoskeleton were torn to pieces, along with the Demon King’s skin beneath. However, none of his blood was spilled.

Hajime Fitun’s lightning enchantment had burned Vandalieu’s wounds shut.

“This is your way of dealing with ‘Bloodlust,’ I see. Then I think it is best that you don’t attack the city, however,” said Vandalieu.

The reason Hajime Fitun had not attacked from a position where he could target the city of Morksi thus far was because he intended to use the city’s people as hostages against Vandalieu.

He did not mind applying a moderate amount of damage to the city, enough to kill a little over a thousand people. But he had made sure not to attempt to inflict enough damage to kill most of or all of the citizens.

The reason for that was because… what would happen if Vandalieu abandoned the city, and the city’s people lost their value as hostages? Hajime Fitun had known the answer to that, even before experiencing the pain of ‘Bloodlust.’

But this hostage-taking plan hinged on Fitun’s belief in a certain thing – the fact that Vandalieu would continue to defend the city even at the cost of having to put himself at risk to do so. If Fitun was unable to believe this fact, then his plan would not work.

“Are you expecting me… the enemy that you are fighting to the death, to have a conscience, a sense of justice, a sense of compassion, because you will protect the insects in the city until your dying breath?!” Fitun muttered.

Believing that the Demon King would continue to defend the weak, in order to defeat the Demon King.

Such a thing would likely have been impossible for the Five Colored Blades. But Fitun was absolutely certain that Vandalieu would truly try to defend the city until he was no longer able to.

On the battlefield, there were many people who would risk their lives for reasons that others would consider worthless. As a human, Fitun himself had been a mercenary who risked his life in order to be paid.

These reasons included love, friendship and justice, and Fitun knew that people were willing to truly lay down their lives for these reasons.

That was why it was possible to believe that Vandalieu would risk his life for a reason that Hajime Fitun could not comprehend at all, at least for the ‘previous’ Hajime Fitun.

But it seemed that the ‘current’ Hajime Fitun was unable to believe that.

“That’s impossible! When your life is really at risk, there’s no question that you’re going to abandon them! After all, there are plenty of other cities, but you only have one life!” he shouted.

This was why he had used ‘Death Scythe’ to stop one of Vandalieu’s arms and stop all of his movements, fixing him in mid-air, then attempted to put all of his effort into this one moment.

“I see,” Vandalieu said with a nod.

Using the Demon King’s eyes that had opened on his forehead and one of his palms, he unleashed beams of mysterious-looking light at Murakami – in order to erase him and undo the ‘Death Scythe’ ability.

He had destroyed the previous owner of the ability, Konoe Miyaji, simply by reflecting the ability with the ‘Abyss’ Skill, but… as Murakami had a physical body, reflecting the ability back onto him would have no effect other than immobilizing Murakami’s own arm.

As the beams of light unleashed by fragments of the Demon King were not spells, they would be unaffected by Murakami’s original ability, ‘Chronos.’ He would be unable to avoid the beams and simply die as they created holes in his body.

However, with clumsy movements, Murakami avoided the beams – as if he had predicted that they would be aimed at his head and stomach.

Akira had not foreseen the attacks and instructed him to dodge – and yet, Murakami’s movements could only be seen as those of someone who had seen the future.

“Their thoughts are being shared by a connection between the biological electrical currents in their brains?” Vandalieu murmured.

“So, you’ve realized it!” said Hajime Fitun.

Hajime Fitun had taken over not only Murakami and Akira’s bodies, but their brains as well – and through that, their abilities and senses.

Right now, the ‘Odin’ Akira’s eyes were Hajime Fitun’s eyes. Hajime Fitun had used that to see the future and make Murakami dodge Vandalieu’s attack.

“But you’re still lively, aren’t you? Well then, I’ll cut you down to size! ‘Thunderbolt God Spear!’” Hajime Fitun roared.

He stopped his shockwave attacks and cast a wind-attribute spell. With a thundering noise, a bolt of lightning, equivalent to the spear of a god, shot forth… towards Kanako and the others who were fighting Gordon Bobby.

“Wha –?!” Kanako began to scream, but she wasn’t the only one.

“C-Commander?!” Bobby Gordon shouted, as Hajime Fitun’s spell was certainly large enough to engulf him as well.

Legion immediately attempted to shield her allies, but she was engaged in battle with the other heroic spirits and would not make it in time.

But Vandalieu stood in the path of Hajime Fitun’s spell, with a considerable amount of time to spare. He had severed the arm that had been immobilized by ‘Death Scythe.’

“‘Magic Absorption Barrier,’ ‘Demon Steel Shield,’” he murmured, putting up a barrier.

The lightning collided with the wall of death-attribute Mana, gradually fading away as its Mana was absorbed, but –

“I won’t let you!” shouted Hajime Fitun, sending a shockwave with his Demon King equipment and tearing the barrier open.

As what was left of the spear of lightning struck Vandalieu, he collapsed backwards, and a violent pain wracked Hajime Fitun’s body. Hajime Fitun was certain that he had pierced through Vandalieu’s ‘Magic Resistance,’ inflicting great damage that incinerated his internal organs.

Indeed, great damage that incinerated his internal organs…

Hajime Fitun screamed in agony. “W-why…?!”

His own organs were incinerated, his chest was pierced, his body was frozen, and he felt himself being crushed by an unbearable force. Unable to withstand the extreme pain that made him feel like his soul was about to crack, Hajime Fitun collapsed to his knees.

He had been prepared to withstand the same pain as that felt by Vandalieu, but this was clearly a different pain. What was it? What was this pain that even Akira’s eyes had not been able to see?

With his eyes watering from sheer agony, he looked up at Vandalieu to see that the space behind him had been unnaturally distorted.

“Great god of war, it seems that you have enjoyed the mirages that I conjured,” said the voice of the light-attribute Ghost Chipuras.

When Vandalieu was struck by the lightning and Hajime Fitun’s attention was focused on him, Chipuras had conjured mirages, which were now fading away.

Behind Chipuras, Hajime Fitun could see Kanako and her allies attacking Gordon Bobby and the other heroic spirits with spells… No, Hajime Fitun was mistaken. Those spells weren’t from Kanako and the others.

Princess Levia, Orbia, Daroak, having received Vandalieu’s Mana, had joined Kimberley to attack with ‘Dead Spirit Magic.’

“I have been quiet up until now, but I will burn you now!” Princess Levia shouted.

“Your opponent is me this time!” Orbia said to her foes.

“Super grateful for the reinforcements!” said Kimberley.

Daroak let out a mad cackle. “Go, light!”

“I’m grateful for the backup, but aren’t we worrying too much about Vandalieu’s reputation?” questioned Doug.

“Well, if we’re being asked to put on a show, we have to live up to expectations!” Kanako replied.

“Not that I think we’re visible from the watchtowers,” said Melissa.

The three of them were casting their own spells, so from a distance, the Ghosts’ spells would likely look like their own. Incidentally, Legion was actually crushing a heroic spirit underfoot.

“Bobby… Those useless fools! But why am I feeling the pain from their defeats?! It’s not my magic that is causing their destruction!” Hajime Fitun shouted.

The ‘Curse of Consequence of Action’ was supposed to be a curse that caused the cursed target to feel the pain that they had inflicted upon others. So why was Hajime Fitun feeling this pain?

“Unlike Bobby, Gordon and the members of the Flame Blades that you have used as vessels are not your subordinates; they are simply victims who have had their bodies stolen from them. I think it’s only reasonable that the pain felt by those victims is returned by the ‘Curse of Consequence of Action’ back to the one who caused it, don’t you?”

“Then the pain that I’ve been feeling up until now… Damn it, no wonder no reinforcements have arrived,” Hajime Fitun muttered.

The pain that he had thought was the pain inflicted by his subordinates was actually a combination of that and the pain of the wounds that had been inflicted upon the bodies used as their vessels.

And since Bobby and the others had been defeated by dead spirit magic, their souls had been devoured by Vandalieu. As their Commander, Fitun felt that pain returned to him as well.

“But… don’t get too full of yourself! I can still fight. Pain is just that – pain. It won’t kill me,” Hajime Fitun muttered, letting out a low laugh. “Nothing will change from a bunch of loose traitors and the remains of a group of insane fanatics joining the battle. In fact, they just make more targets for ‘Marionette!’”

Vandalieu had been able to deal with ‘Marionette’ due to his abnormal strength. But Kanako and the others could not do the same. She, Melissa and Doug were reincarnated individuals, but as they had betrayed Rodcorte, Vandalieu did not know whether they would still be protected from the abilities of other reincarnated individuals.

Legion had no nerves or brain, but their muscles moved in response to electrical signals.

If Hajime Fitun were able to control any of them and take over their abilities, the tables of the battle would be turned.

There was no end in sight for this battle… this fight to the death.

“Now then, let’s continue…” Hajime Fitun began, but in the next moment, he screamed and fell to his knees once more.

A soul-warping pain prevented him from standing, and Murakami and Akira’s bodies, which were under his control, began convulsing in a peculiar way as well.

Impossible! Bobby and the others have already been destroyed! Why am I still feeling this pain?!

“That’s because of the souls of the heroic spirits that were defeated by my allies on their way to the city. Gufadgarn and Sam collected them and brought them here for me,” said a faint, semi-transparent Vandalieu as he appeared before Fitun.

His cheeks were a little expanded, as if he were sucking on some candy.

“Wha – a clone?!” Hajime Fitun uttered in shock.

“No, I used ‘Out-of-body Experience’ inside the smoke. The one you have been wounding so far is the me that consists of just my physical body,” said the newly-appeared Vandalieu.

“The one that has just arrived is the me that consists of just my soul,” said the physical Vandalieu.

“In other words, both of us are the real me,” the two of them said in unison.

Well, Vandalieu was controlling his physical body with the ‘Group Control’ Skill, so it was likely more accurate to say that the soul-Vandalieu was the main body.

In any case, when Vandalieu split in two inside the smoke, his soul had climbed into Sam’s carriage, filled his mouth with the souls of the heroic spirits that Sam had gathered for him, and even changed Jobs while he was at it.

He had considered choosing ‘God Destroyer’ in order to inflict more damage against gods, but Hajime Fitun was currently a physical incarnation; he was not a pure god. Thus, he had decided upon ‘Divine Enemy,’ since it seemed that it would be useful against a wider variety of enemies. There had been several other new available Jobs, but Vandalieu would need to wait until the next opportunity to consider them.

He would reflect on the improvements to his Skills later as well.

“I thought that my physical body would be able to block most things, you see. Now then, shall we continue our fight to the death?” said the soul-Vandalieu as he continued chewing on whatever was in his mouth.

At that moment, Hajime Fitun felt even more violent pain. Judging from this pain, the sense of loss that he was feeling and the words Vandalieu had just spoken, Hajime Fitun sensed that something was happening to him.

H-he’s eating them?! The souls of my heroic spirits, right in front of me?! Fitun thought in disbelief.

Though he did not have much in the way of compassion, this act of Vandalieu’s was enough to render him speechless. But both Fitun and his heroic spirits had come to battle Vandalieu to the death.

They knew that they could be devoured and extinguished from existence. They had prepared themselves for this… in fact, they had believed that there was no purpose in coming here if that possibility did not exist.

Stand up. Resist the pain and take his head. Not the physical body’s one, but the soul’s head! With Demon King equipment, it should be possible to inflict a deep wound on the soul, even if I can’t break it! Wounds of the soul can’t be healed with magic or Skills, so this is my big opportunity! Hajime Fitun told himself. Now, while he is still gloating with his guard down –

As Hajime Fitun stood up, his face pale, his mouth opened. A single, quiet word escaped his trembling lips. “N-no…”

His feet began carrying him not towards Vandalieu, but towards the forest.

W-what?! Hey, wait, what is the meaning of this?!

“No, I don’t want to die! There’s no way in hell I want my soul to be broken! I… I DON’T WANT THIS!”

M-my body, Hajime’s body isn’t obeying me?!

Hajime Fitun – no, he was no longer in a state that he could be referred to by that – screamed and broke into a run, trying to escape from Vandalieu.

Stop! Don’t you run like a fool, like a cowardly villager who has been conscripted to fight against his will! Our enemy isn’t one that you can escape from! Fight until the very end! Your body is going to collapse anyway, you know?!

Fitun, the god of thunderclouds, currently existed inside Hajime’s body. But he did not have control over that body anymore.

“Shut up, shut up! I’m not going to listen to you anymore! Making me a hero, a champion, all of it was bullshit! I listened to you, and look at what happened – rather than defeating him and becoming a hero, I’m in pieces!” Hajime shouted.

Control over his body had been returned to him. Unlike the hosts who had become vessels for the heroic spirits, Hajime had not been rendered disabled; the two of them were now fused, as if Hajime’s soul had been swallowed by Fitun’s.

Up until now, Fitun had been using Hajime’s body, Skills and ability as his own.

But having had his soul wounded numerous times during the battle with Vandalieu, and with his mental fortitude having been worn down by the pain from the ‘Curse of Consequence of Action,’ Fitun had become unable to suppress Hajime’s soul and retain control over him.

Under Fitun’s influence, Hajime’s personality had changed, but he had now returned to his original, cowardly self. He was exposing his defenseless back to Vandalieu, but his control over Murakami and Akira through electrical currents remained intact, so he was attempting to run, with the two of them following him.

But of course, he was bound to get chased.

“Of course, we can’t let him get away, can we? I heard him calling us ‘loose traitors,’ after all,” said Kanako.

“Yes… Vandalieu, use your mirages, please,” said Melissa.

“Yes, yes. I’m counting on you, Daroak,” said the soul-Vandalieu.

Kanako suddenly appeared right before Hajime’s eyes.

He let out a high-pitched scream. “GET AWAY, DON’T COME NEAR ME, YOU DAMNED BITCH!”

It’s an illusion! Don’t stop! Fitun’s voice said inside Hajime’s head.

But driven by his trauma, he ignored Fitun’s voice. He made Murakami immobilize Kanako with ‘Death Scythe’ and thrust his Demon King equipment towards her.

However, the Kanako that had appeared in front of him was an illusion created by ‘Dead Spirit Magic.’ Even ‘Death Scythe’ could not stop the movement of an illusion.

I told you! Fitun’s voice shouted.

Mentally shaken, Hajime stopped moving, and he heard the sound of something exploding behind him as a warm liquid sprayed over his body.

Hajime turned around and screamed as he saw Akira, with Vandalieu’s arm protruding from his chest.

“I have no grudge against you, but… you are troublesome. Just accept that you picked the wrong side and give up,” said Doug.

He had used ‘Hecatoncheir’ to manipulate the arm that Vandalieu had severed earlier as a weapon. Naturally, Akira’s soul had been devoured.

Covered in the red of Akira’s blood and fragments of flesh, Hajime fell backwards onto the ground.

Sam appeared in front of him with a triumphant laugh. “Dying like a squashed frog is a very fitting end for you!”

As a result of his repeated training, Sam had strangely achieved his goal. He had become able to have his carriage run through both ordinary space and the space of another dimension, separate from this one, at will.

Thus, rather than having appeared in front of Hajime, it was more accurate to say that his carriage had run through space in the alternate dimension and then returned to the ordinary dimension at that location.

But to Hajime, it made no difference.

“S-stop him!” he screamed in panic, instinctively trying to have Murakami stop Sam with ‘Death Scythe.’

Dodge him yourself! shouted Fitun’s voice.

“Now! Charge!” said Saria’s voice from inside Sam’s carriage.

“Your soul will become Bocchan’s meal, too!” said Rita’s.

The two sisters leapt out from the carriage to strike while Hajime had stopped moving. Hajime attempted to stop them with ‘Death Scythe’ as well, but… they did not stop.

The two of them were Living Armors. If their arms were immobilized, they would simply leave them behind, and if their heads were immobilized, they would leave those behind. Disassembling them to pieces and leaving their immobilized ones behind, they attacked Murakami relentlessly.

Their weapons had been immobilized as well, but… they were Rank 12. Their fists and kicks had plenty of lethality.

Murakami let out a grunt as the sisters’ blunt attacks struck him. In the next moment, Vandalieu’s arm, under Doug’s control, devoured Murakami’s soul just as it had devoured Akira’s.

“Now, retreat!” said Sam.

His daughters leapt back into the carriage, and he disappeared back into his alternate dimension.

I’m saved, Hajime thought for a moment.

But then a voice spoke from behind him. “You’re the last one, aren’t you?”

A low growl accompanied that voice.

Hajime turned around to see Akira with a hole in his chest, and… Berserk, who had infested his corpse and was covering around half of it. Isis, who had transformed a part of her flesh to form her face. And finally, Vandalieu.

Hajime screamed.

“Since we were well-acquainted in our previous lives, I suppose I will finish you off. Do you have any last words?” said Isis.

“W-wait, don’t eat me!” Hajime shrieked.

Stop this unsightly nonsense… I didn’t come and fight a battle to the death to meet an end like this!

“This is all a mistake! I was tricked by this god called Fitun, I was under his control the whole time! I didn’t want any of this, I swear! Please believe me!” Hajime begged, now free from Fitun’s control.

“That’s a lie, isn’t it?” Vandalieu said emotionlessly. “Even partway through, you should have been able to resist if you wanted to. And at the very least, when your first-person pronoun changed from ore to boku, I’m sure your influence was greater than his.”

TLN: This is a part of the story that simply can’t be translated into English, sorry readers. There are multiple pronouns for Japanese people to refer to themselves – the equivalent of the English “I” or “me.” This is based loosely on gender and men generally use 俺/ore or 僕/boku in non-formal situations. Fitun uses ore while Hajime uses boku. All of Fitun’s thought dialogue uses ore. All of Hajime Fitun’s spoken lines in this chapter use boku, indicating that Hajime had regained some control. Hajime Fitun also used boku once in the previous chapter, in the dialogue line: “You bastards, do something! If you don’t, [I’ll] use my power to purge this entire place along with you traitorous sons of bitches!”

Hajime’s face twitched as he realized that the truth had been discovered.

Still staring at him, Vandalieu applied ‘Bloodshed Enhancement’ to Berserk and ‘Deadly Venom’ to the Demon King equipment that Hajime had dropped, as the hand of Akira’s corpse picked it up.

“It seems that you remember things very clearly,” said Vandalieu.

“W-wait, I didn’t do anything wrong –” Hajime began.

“I’m not devouring your soul because you are in the wrong. I am devouring you because it would be troublesome if you came to try and kill me again, and because you are a nuisance. That’s all.”

“It seems that you can go ahead,” said Isis.

Akira’s arm, controlled by Berserk, came swinging down. Hajime was paralyzed by fear and defenseless; his neck put up only the smallest amount of resistance as his head was sliced clean off.

And so, the final battle of Fitun, the god of thunderclouds, ended in Hajime Fitun begging for his life in an unsightly manner and a subsequent decapitation.