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 Chapter III: Agartha, the Mechanical City

“As far as underwater Gollems go, the maestro would be the best person to ask. But they’re a misanthropic and totally eccentric sort, so they stopped living in civilized parts a long time back. Can’t think where they are now,” our guest, the professor, mumbled to himself as he stroked his wispy beard.

We weren’t on Babylon itself. Instead, we were in Doc Babylon’s research wing at the far end of the castle. It had been specifically built at the far end because I didn’t want anything exploding and damaging anything important to daily life.

“I could adapt a Frame Gear to work underwater, but it wouldn’t be half as good as something built from the ground up for deep-sea exploration. I think as far as tracking the Ark goes, we’ll probably want the latter.”

After saying all that, Doc Babylon produced a plastic model of one of our Chevalier Frame Gears. It was wearing some kind of backpack with built-in torpedos and anchor attachments.

Hm... Those attachments would definitely help us fight underwater, but she’s right. We should make new drones.

“If we were to design something new, how long would it take?”

“Hm... Might take a while if we work with no basis at all, so we should at least work with a blueprint to start. If you ask me, we should go with an Over Gear instead of a Frame Gear.”

...An Over Gear? Those Frame Gear variants designed to work with the crown Gollems? But why?

“Humanoid forms aren’t the most versatile for swimming. It would be wisest to make it resemble an aquatic animal. And our Over Gear designs are already based on animals, no?” Elluka replied curtly. She had a point. A streamlined design would be best for maneuvering through the waves.

“We could even attach Frame Gears to it if we go that route. I approve. Would we make it fish-shaped, Doctor?” Quun asked, unable to resist chiming in. She’d been anxiously listening to the entire conversation up until that point.

Doc Babylon clicked her tongue and folded her arms in response before saying, “Hmm... It’s a bit uninspired to just go with a fish. Perhaps a turtle design like Sango would be a bit more my style? A Frame Gear could easily ride that too.”

“Whatever do you mean? We should obviously go for a shark-shaped design. It needs to look intimidating to keep it from running into any undersea trouble.”

“No way, a shark’s a bad look. If we’re going in that general direction, then it should be a dolphin. Dolphins are far cuter!”

The four mechanically-inclined geniuses began a heated debate about the shape of the new machine. I ended up slinking away, as I was nothing more than a sideline observer. It wasn’t like I had anything of value to input, anyway. Though honestly, I did have one question.

“If we’re building it as an Over Gear, then what crown will we use as the core?”

Noir had the lion-shaped Leo Noir, Rouge had the tiger-shaped Tiger Rouge, and Blau had the deer-shaped Deer Blau. The question now remained, who would be the pilot and core for the new one?

Elluka looked at me like I’d asked something dumb and replied, “Your Yumina can do it, no? She has the white crown, Albus.”

“But Albus and Yumina only have a temporary contract, don’t they? Will she be able to pilot it safely?”

Albus’s ability, Reset, came at the cost of his contractor’s memories. That was why I hadn’t allowed Yumina to make a full contract with the white crown. I didn’t want her putting her very mind at risk, after all.

“Even if she’s a submaster, she can still operate it. The crown ability doesn’t need to trigger to operate the Over Gear, and the main master isn’t around to assume direct control, so there’s no issue.”

That made sense to me. If that was the case, I was comfortable enough leaving the underwater piloting to Yumina.

“I’ll also start cooking up an aquatic Frame Gear prototype. If I make it in the shape of a mermaid, we can repurpose the torso designs from the other models. Then, we can mass-produce them. Better to have them in bulk than keep them as unique ones like your Valkyrie Gears.”

Mass-produced mermaid Frame Gears? That would be pretty handy for accidents at sea, so why not?

“We should also have your Reginleif and the Valkyrie Gears refurbished for underwater operations, since it would be inefficient to have you pilot mass-produced variants. I’ll be sure to send a bill for the development costs, all right?” Doc Babylon said and grinned, rubbing her hands together as her eyes narrowed.

Damn it... I know you need it, but you guys really piss away my money sometimes...

I grumbled quietly...only to snap out of it when Quun tugged on my sleeve.

“Is that a problem, father?” she mumbled, looking up at me with pleading eyes.

Hngh...! I-I have to hold fast! This is a trap! I’m being tricked here! Quun, stop! They’re all grinning at me over there!

“...I’ll pay. Just try not to overspend, okay?”

“Thank you, father!” Quun exclaimed, then jumped for joy and gave me a big hug. Doc Babylon, Elluka, and the professor smiled wide. They all flashed thumbs-up at me in sequence.

Damn it all... They got me hook, line, and sinker.

“Now then, let’s get to work on the concept stage. I’ll handle the Over Gear, but who wants to start inroads with the mass-production Frame Gear?”

“Oh, me! Wait for me! I’d love to help!” Quun yelled, then parted from me in less than a second and ran after the engineering trio. It sure was tough being a dad...

My coffers were running low, so I needed to go make money. I’d been leaving most of the gold-rank jobs to Ende, but I figured that had to change sometime. He’d just gotten married, after all. In a way, you could see it as me doing him a favor. Yep, that was it. Just me being an all-around great pal.

That’s me. Touya, the regular family man.

◇ ◇ ◇

“Touya-dono! If you are going to the adventurer’s guild, then we would like to join you, we would.”

The next morning, I was about to head off to the guild in search of a job when Yae and Hilde approached me. Apparently, they were right on the cusp of reaching gold-rank status. That would make them the fourth and fifth people in the world to do so. The way things were going, more than half of the gold-ranked adventurers in the world would be my direct family members. Hilde’s grandfather was the first one to ever attain that rank, so he was positively giddy that his offspring was following in his proverbial footsteps.

I felt that the two had probably been motivated by the fact that they knew Yakumo and Frei both had gold status in the future. I was sure that their parental pride made it impossible for them to be a tier below their future kids.

Brunhild didn’t really have any requests at the silver or gold level, but that didn’t mean you couldn’t find any in other places. It was just a matter of looking around. Ende and I could teleport around, so we managed to do work all over the world and raised our ranks fairly quickly. I wondered if my kids had such high ranks thanks to Yakumo and Yoshino’s abilities to move long distances in short amounts of time as well.

Ordinary silver-ranked adventurers needed to travel for days on end to reach their target, then actually fulfill their objectives before trekking back to the place they got their mission. People like me had an innate advantage that took out a lot of the busywork, so it was only natural there was only one gold-rank before I showed up. The introduction of the magic train might help speed things up in that regard, though.

Yae and Hilde had probably approached me thinking my spells could get them an easy quest clear. I wasn’t about to deny a request from my wives, but they could’ve easily asked Yakumo.

“It is a touch awkward to ask one’s daughter for help with reaching her level, it is...” Yae said before letting out a nervous chuckle. It was just as I’d thought, she had her parental pride on the line. I couldn’t blame her, really.

“Didn’t Elze want to go for gold too? Should we bring her along?”

Ende had reached gold-rank and he was Elze’s sparring partner, so she’d been eager to match him.

Hilde spoke up in response, saying, “Elze is out shopping with Elna today. I believe they’re looking for clothing at Zanac’s shop, so we’d best not interrupt them... I think she’s obsessed with dressing the poor girl.”

Hilde smiled slightly after sharing that information. That definitely made sense to me. All my wives loved their kids, obviously, but Elze and Linze went above and beyond when it came to fussing and fawning. Yakumo, Frei, and Quun were the oldest kids and they all had some air of independence about them. They were still children, obviously, but they’d grown out of going out for activities with their parents. Yoshino and Sakura didn’t really do all that much together beyond music, while Arcia and Lu had more of a friendly mother-daughter rivalry going on.

Elna and Linne were the youngest children we had here, so they were the ones who got fawned over and spoiled the most. Elze was particularly attached to Elna. Elna wasn’t a big fan of fighting, so she didn’t train with her mother, but they spent just about every other waking moment joined at the hip. Elze loved taking Elna out and buying her all kinds of cute outfits. She was one of the proudest mothers I’d ever seen.

“I never thought that Elze would be such a doting mother. She’s the fussiest among us! Elna’s definitely the cutest of the lot, though, so I understand.”

“I would say that you are the second-most doting out of all of us, I would.”

“It’s not my fault Frei’s so cute, is it?”

Frei was definitely cute, that was for sure. I was just glad that my kids were so well behaved.

“If we do not give them proper will be hard for them to find spouses, it will.”


Yae’s words hit me right in the gut. I didn’t want to think about my kids getting married!

I know it’ll happen someday, but... Hm... Maybe I can stop my kids from getting married, somehow? If I just come up with a scheme...

“Come now, let’s get going.”

“Yes. There is not any point fretting over inevitabilities, there is not.”


Yae and Hilde started marching toward the guild, so I wearily followed them.

◇ ◇ ◇

“If you’re after gold or silver about these? Nobody’s taken any of them yet.”

We were in the adventurer’s guild talking to Relisha. She handed over two slips of paper to Hilde and Yae respectively.

Brunhild’s guild didn’t have any silver or gold postings, but Relisha had access to the global network, so she was able to relay information on foreign jobs.

“Hm, let’s see... A Thunderwyrm has attacked Palouf, it has.”

“And this one tells of a Frost Giant in Elfrau.”




Both of those creatures would have given any average silver-ranked party a run for their money, but I felt like Yae and Hilde could work together to take them down in no time at all. That didn’t mean we could afford to be complacent, though. Safety was always paramount.

“You need not worry, you need not. Our sister-in-law has trained us well every day, she has.”

Hm... I don’t know how to feel about that line. It’s almost like she’s saying my worrying is pointless. But I guess that’s a relief to hear too...

Either way, I sent Luli with Yae and Kougyoku with Hilde just to be safe.

Luli could talk with the Thunderwyrm, so Yae could possibly end her quest without conflict. And in Hilde’s case, Kougyoku could keep her warm over in Elfrau.

I opened up [Gate] and sent the girls to their respective destinations. I told them to have their summoned companions notify me with telepathy when they were done. Then, after I saw the girls off, I turned back to Relisha.

“So, are you after a job?”

“I sure am.”

“I’m afraid to say that I have no quests befitting your stature at this time.”


No gold-ranks at all? Nothing? No national crises?

“Ende took care of all the outstanding requests prior to his wedding, since he wanted to take some time off...”


That bastard! I go out of my way to do him a favor...and this is how he preemptively repays me?! No, no... Ende taking care of business before his break is pretty commendable... I can’t fault him for it. Damn him. Damn him to hell!

“Are there any high-value quests available? Anything that’d help me make some quick money?”

“I must admit, hearing a world leader almost beg for money is a little concerning, but... Hm, let’s see... There have been reports of a stampede around Roadmare,” Relisha replied after flipping through a pile of papers on her desk.

Stampedes were bad news. If left to its own devices, the horde of monsters would end up endangering innocent people. It was definitely something that had to be dealt with immediately. However, there were other things to consider.

“Is this the kind of situation Roadmare’s adventurers could handle on their own?”

“It is.”

“Tsk... I can’t take it, then.”

I could have easily gone over there and solved it in the blink of an eye, but then I’d be depriving the honest adventurers of Roadmare of a job well done. It was an awkward situation. Even if I was a gold-rank, I was still an adventurer, so I didn’t want to be a glory hog.

Still, when it came to stampedes, there was no simple way to harvest resources from the massive amounts of monsters. The carcasses were usually left behind. The guild would then have specialists go collect stuff later and distribute them to the adventurers as rewards. The rewards were doled out based on participation, and the adventures that didn’t do much of anything typically weren’t rewarded. The way this was done was by having some trusted adventurers act as watchdogs for the guild. Such individuals were heavily vetted for reliability before being entrusted with the role.

“But wait, another stampede? There’ve been tons of those lately, huh?”

“There certainly have. The reason isn’t known either. Whether they’re being spooked by something or not is to be determined...”

The most typical reason for a monster stampede was the presence of an invasive species. When a particularly powerful monster showed up, the weaker ones native to the area would find themselves driven from their homes. And eventually, they’d gather up and form a monster horde. It was the same with that giant Zaratan we’d encountered not too long ago. The creatures, startled by its sudden appearance, ended up grouping together and running amok until they formed a stampede.

That made me wonder, though... If the cause of that stampede was the Zaratan waking up...could that truly be called a coincidence? Perhaps the Zaratan sensed something as well. Zaratans were cowardly creatures despite their huge size. It was entirely plausible that it started to move because it sensed something it needed to flee from. The merging of the two worlds had increased the ambient mana in the atmosphere, resulting in the emergence of more Behemoths. More Behemoths showing up definitely meant more stampedes, but would it necessarily mean more stampedes everywhere at once?

“If you get reports of any Behemoths in the stampede areas, please let me know. I’ll deploy Frame Gears to help fight them off.”

“Of course. I’ll be sure to do just that.”

Slaying Behemoths was still a bit much for ordinary adventurers, so I was sure that could be excused. Either way, that didn’t help solve my current predicament. I was out of pocket money and out of ideas.

Hm... Maybe peace was a mistake after all. Wait, no! Don’t think like that! Peace is good!

I left the adventurer’s guild and started walking around town. I had no clue what to do next.

“Hm... Maybe I can start a business?”

Clothing had already been covered by Zanac. Hospitality was pretty much on lock with Micah. Aer’s café was the most popular one around...and miscellaneous stuff like gadgets and ether vehicles were all under the thumb of Olba Strand. I wouldn’t have felt right intruding on any of their business endeavors at this point, even if the ideas were originally mine to begin with. I’d also basically abandoned the Moon Reader library café idea, so I didn’t even know what they were up to.

Money for clearing contracts was pretty good, but it was a feast or famine lifestyle. I wanted to start up some kind of long-term sustainable income, a steady stream of cash to keep me from getting into this kind of mess again. Plus, money wasn’t the only issue I had. We needed specific materials for our aquatic refurbishing project. Iron, mithril, orichalcum, and so forth.

Should I just go mining myself? I dunno, it’d be kind of a pain... Are there any places where I can even get the materials directly? I guess it’d be useful if we had a mine, but I don’t even know where we’d... Wait!

“Am I stupid or what? There’s an entire mining nation I’m forgetting here.”

Gandhilis, the Steel Nation. Most of the Gollems on the western continent were created from the raw materials produced by that country. I’d met their ruler before, so I could probably negotiate some kind of bulk deal at a discount. People could typically get price reductions for buying large amounts, so surely it’d be fine.

“All right, lemme double-check what I need with Doc Babylon,” I mumbled, then opened up a [Gate] and headed back to the castle.

◇ ◇ ◇

“Hey, you guys... Did you go all night without sleep or something?”

“Hm? Is that a problem?” Doc Babylon replied, tilting her head in response to my question.

It wasn’t a problem for her, sure, but that was only because she had an artificial body. In the case of Elluka and the professor, however, they were painfully prone to mortal fatigue. It was bad for their health.

I narrowed my eyes at Quun, my suspicion fairly plain.

“I-I slept properly, promise! Mother actually dragged me back down to the castle herself!”

I wasn’t surprised Leen had done that. She had a good grasp on the kind of person her daughter was, after all. I’d heard Quun still came here as early in the morning as possible, though. I wondered if there was a way to curb those bad habits of hers...but unfortunately, all I could really do was sigh.

“I’m going to Gandhilis to pick up some raw materials. I need to know what you guys need.”

“You’re going to Gandhilis, father? Take me with you!”

I wondered what Quun wanted in that country of all places.

“Oh, that sounds like a good idea. I wouldn’t trust Touya to know the best kinds of ores, so having Quun go with him is perfect. I approve.”

Ugh... Sure, I don’t know the best stuff, but it’s not like I couldn’t just cast [Analyze] to get a general idea, right?

“A general idea isn’t good enough, father. Iron, for example, can end up being completely different depending on the carbon content. Pure iron has higher levels of plasticity, but it’s still not enough to simply know that. You need an expert.”

“All right, I get it. You can join me.”

Quit using all those weird words I don’t understand. It’s like you’re speaking in tongues. What the hell is plasticity?

“Ah, lass, let me know if you find any good deals.”

“Yes, and don’t mind the cost. Just beg Touya for it and I’m sure he’ll surrender in no time flat.”

Ugh, you devils! Quit corrupting my daughter! Damn it... The whole point of the trip to Gandhilis is to get stuff on the cheap. If I end up buying expensive stuff, then I’ll have defeated the entire purpose!

The worst part was that I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist if Quun actually started begging. The sight of my daughter looking up at me with tears in her eyes...was far too much for me to bear.

I decided I needed to call in reinforcements... Very special reinforcements, actually. And so, I turned away from the scheming researchers and quickly sent out a message for help on my smartphone.

“What the...? Why is mother here?! I thought this was a father-daughter trip!”

“Goodness, that’s a mighty rude thing to say. I’m your parent too, Quun. Can’t I join you?” Leen smirked as she spoke nonchalantly.

Quun looked positively incensed, but Leen appeared more amused than anything. She looked like she was enjoying herself, even...

“Ugh... And here I thought I’d be able to get father to buy some special Gollems!”

“Darling... Does she really have you so wrapped around her little finger?” Leen said, narrowing her eyes slightly as she looked from Quun, to me, and back again.

It’s not my fault... I know she’s using me but still...

Any father would jump at the chance to make his daughter happy! It was basic paternal instinct! Still, even I had to admit that buying her multiple Gollems was a very big ask.

All right. Now that I’ve got Leen here to back me up, it’s off to Gandhilis!

◇ ◇ ◇

I called up the leader of Gandhilis and asked if I could buy the products directly from him. He gladly agreed and we negotiated a price. However, while we were on the call, he said he wanted to consult me about something, so I couldn’t help but wonder what he wanted.

“Guess we’ll find out soon.”

“Did you sort a deal out?”

“Sorta, yeah. But they want to speak to us at their palace.”

I shrugged over at Leen before opening up a [Gate]. Quun bounded through the portal before I had a chance to even step through. Clearly, she was in a hurry.

“Honestly... What an excitable girl. Just who does she remind me of, I wonder?”

“Hmph! I know that’s a dig at me, but I seem to remember you being just as excitable when we were looking for Babylon’s library.”

“I wasn’t as bad as her.”

Oh, come on...even Paula knows that’s not true.

“A child will naturally resemble their parents in some ways.”

“True enough.”

The two of us chuckled softly. Shortly after that, Quun poked her head through from the other side of the portal and said, “You two will have plenty of time to flirt later on. Let’s not keep Gandhilis waiting!”

“O-Oh, uh, right. Let’s go.”

“Y-Yes, let’s.”

Leen and I were a little embarrassed, but we quickly recovered and headed on our way.

◇ ◇ ◇

“Oh, father, that high mithril is a must.”

“Sure thing.”

I went around listening to Quun’s instructions, placing various ores and metals into my [Storage].

After we met with the Gandhilis royal family, we were led to a storehouse beneath the palace that contained various processed and refined materials. Alloys and ingots and stones were piled up into huge, neat stacks all around us. It was insanely impressive just how much they had. Then again, they weren’t the Steel Nation for nothing.

Gandhilis was a country that was home to hundreds of mines. And thanks to their abundant underground resources and incredible smelting technology, pretty much every nation on the western continent relied on them for metal. The country had been invaded for its resources in the past, but it had managed to repel the invaders every single time. Foreigners were rarely prepared for the rugged terrain of the country, nor were they any match for the incredible military Gollems Gandhilis commanded.

It came as no surprise that many dwarves called Gandhilis home. I was just glad I hadn’t brought Frei with me. She’d never want to go home.

“I wish we had a mine in Brunhild...”

“Now, now, Touya. The grass is often greener on the other side.”

Leen had a point. I mean, I didn’t know the first thing about mining. I couldn’t tell the difference between ores at a glance, so not even my [Search] spell would help very much unless it was something really distinct.

I could identify Mithril or Orichalcum Golems, at least. I remember hunting down the latter a lot when I was trying to get the resources for Sue’s Frame Gear. Back then, I had to hold myself in check to keep them from becoming an endangered species... The other world leaders also got mad at me for that incident...which was understandable, since I’d traveled around the world on my hunt. Thankfully, I managed to set that right by showing some of the countries the locations of nesting grounds where Mithril and Diamond Golems tended to gather.

“We’re buying an awful lot, though... Do we really need this much just for one Over Gear?”

“We absolutely do! I can’t go into the details, but I promise we need all this!”

“...Are you sure you’re not just trying to scam extra materials out of him?”

“What a terrible accusation, mother! I’d never! Oh, let’s buy these ones as well. Here, father.”

Quun hurriedly dodged Leen’s suspicions and moved on to the next set of metals.

...It definitely feels like we’ve got more than enough. There should be plenty of materials in Babylon’s storehouse too, right?

I knew that Over Gears were bigger than Frame Gears, so I was prepared for some expenses...but it was beginning to reach the point where I feared I wouldn’t be able to pay.

I couldn’t help but let out a nervous sigh as I watched Quun pick out more and more ingots.

◇ ◇ ◇

“That’s quite a lot... I can’t help but wonder what it is you even intend to make.”

The king of Gandhilis gasped in shock when I listed off everything I’d put in my [Storage]. But honestly, he couldn’t have been any more horrified than I was. I’d ended up buying far, far more than I’d anticipated. Did they really need this much? Just how many things were they planning to make?

I could only assume they were going to make the Over Gear and the underwater Frame Gears at the same time. Quun wouldn’t tell me, though. Instead, she just grinned. She and Doc Babylon were far too secretive for their own good. I was their sponsor, so they could at least let me in on the details!

“So, uh, how much am I gonna owe you?”

“O-Oh, well...”

The king looked a little awkward as he scrawled out a number on a piece of paper and handed it over to me.

Huh? Wait. This is way cheaper than I thought...

“Uh...isn’t this too big a discount?”

“Yes, but there’s also the matter I wanted to discuss with you, remember? If you can help me with it, I’ll mark down the price to the amount on this paper.”

Figures there’d be a catch. Wonder what he wants from me.

“Look over this map, would you?” he requested as he spread a map of Gandhilis out over a nearby table. It was a map that had been created thanks to the data from my phone that I’d provided to the world leaders a while ago. The capital city of Gandhilis rested in the center.

“This city here, Mercurium, has the biggest mine in the entire nation. However, the Gandhola Mountains sit between it and the capital. The only way to transport ore from that bountiful mine is by expending vast resources flying them over the mountains or carting them around the entire stretch.”

Hmm... I bet you can’t carry much ore on an airship. It’s too heavy. The mountain routes aren’t great either. It’s a pretty long distance just to haul resources...which is why I think I know what he’s gonna ask.

“So you want me to dig you a tunnel here, huh?”

I tapped a finger on the map and traced it from Mercurium to the capital. The king smirked, and that was when I knew I was bang on the money.

“In all honesty, yes. That’s about what I need from you. We’ve always wanted to build a tunnel, but there are structural risks at play. Our previous attempts have led to cave-ins and other dangers. But this magic from the eastern continent, Earth magic specifically, may well be what we need.”

That made sense. Earth magic could be used to dig through an area while simultaneously reinforcing the surrounding area to prevent any cave-ins. It was basically the same as a tunneling shield from Earth.

“This is quite the distance, though...”

When we were preparing the trail for the magic train, I’d dug out a huge tunnel through the mountain range that bordered Belfast and Refreese, but this tunnel would be nearly twice as long as that. It was over a hundred kilometers at a glance. It wasn’t an impossible request, but I also didn’t feel like wasting a ton of time on it. And so, I decided that I’d just dig it all out in one go.

“All right, cool. I’ll do it.”

“Oh?! You will?!”

“Sure. So, where do you want me to start? Oh, and where do you want me to end it?”

“Mmm... The shortest distance between Mercurium and the capital would be the best, I think.”

As the king and I deliberated on the details, Leen was having a spot of tea with the queen. Leen was a grand duchess of Brunhild, after all. When it came to meeting other royals, she had to act the part. Her daughter, however...

“Oho ho ho ho ho! Ether lines all the way through the structure? Most fascinating... Oooh! Is it for emergency power settings, perhaps? That’s very, very fascinating...”

Quun was hassling one of the royal guard Gollems as it stood in the corner... I could only hope that nobody in the palace recognized her as my daughter...or we’d be breaking several rules of decorum.

The Gollem remained motionless as Quun eagerly inspected every one of its joints. Even though I knew it was just a machine, I couldn’t help but feel bad for it.

“Sorry about her...”

“No, not at all. If anything, I’m honored by her keen interest in my nation’s Gollems.”

I smiled awkwardly at the king, and he simply smiled back. I could tell he was trying to be polite, given what I was about to do for his country.

“My, I’d expect no less from royal Gollems. What intricate wiring... Maybe I can open this one up and...”

You better stop, Quun... I can see veins bulging out of Leen’s forehead. It’ll be your funeral if she... Oh. Oh no! There she goes.

Leen quietly murmured an apology to the queen before standing up and marching straight toward Quun. I could barely watch what was about to unfold.

Quun didn’t even notice Leen’s approach. She was so absorbed in her inspection of the Gollem that she couldn’t avoid the attack from behind. Leen’s fists closed in on Quun’s temples, grinding and pressing in hard.

“Hm... If we were to design it this way, then the friction coefficient would— Ow! Owowowowow! M-Mother?! Why?!”

“Quun... Would you please behave? Are you trying to make us look bad?”

I could only watch as Leen continued to press her knuckles in against Quun’s head. Even Paula seemed terrified by the sight.

“...Sorry about them,” I said.

“Oh, don’t worry...” the king replied, no longer bothering to hide his confusion.

We finished finalizing the start and end points for the tunnel, as well as agreeing upon the width. I figured if we introduced a magic train to Gandhilis later on, it’d be better to have a tunnel big enough for one.

“Darling, can we help dig the tunnel?”

“What, mother? Me too?”

“You’re benefiting from these materials, no? You should earn them.”

“Okaaay...” Quun grumbled quietly. She was probably just happy to be free of the deadly attack. I had a feeling Leen would’ve resumed her assault had the girl refused to join in.

Much like Leen, Quun had an aptitude for every magical element except darkness. That meant they could both use Earth magic. With their help, we’d get done that much faster.

I nodded my head, ready for some parent-child cooperation.

◇ ◇ ◇

“Come forth, Earth. Perforating Excavation: [Dig Spiral]!”

“Come forth, Earth. Barrier of the Mother Soil: [Earth Wall]!”

Leen and Quun took their positions on either side of the hole I’d made, immediately reinforcing the hole I’d dug out. The excavated soil was packed tight by the [Earth Wall] spell, then smoothed out and made into a perfect hallway.

I could dig about ten kilometers with each cast, then use [Teleport] to get to the end of the area I’d dug out. At that rate, it would only take about ten casts to reach the other side of the mountain range.

“We’ll need to put some wards up to keep monsters from nesting in here.”

If that happened, this place would turn into one long dungeon tunnel, and there’d be no way to escape if you ran into any monsters halfway through, which wouldn’t exactly be good for Gandhilis.

“We’ll have to add a rest stop too, I think. Maybe more than one, even.”

“A ventilation system would also work wonders.”

Gollem carriages moved at a speed of roughly twenty to thirty kilometers an hour. That meant spending about four or five hours in the tunnel, so a rest stop seemed necessary.

After digging about halfway, we carved out a large room to act as a rest facility. Then, I dug a few small holes upward for ventilation.

“I almost feel like a mole, digging like this.”

“I can’t blame you, darling. How do the dwarves live like this every day? Though, I suppose they’re often hunting for ore, so it’s probably worth it.”

“It’d be nice if we hit an ore vein during all this. They might give us a discount if we strike big.”

As we were talking, a huge mole with giant claws suddenly dug up from the soft earth below us. Paula trembled and clung to Leen’s leg.

“Wow, that’s rare! It’s a giant mole. What are the odds of finding one of those?”

“It appeared because you tempted fate with your words, father.”

“What? It wasn’t my fault.”

I’m pretty sure it was attracted to the sounds of our magic. It couldn’t have shown up just because I mentioned moles, right?

“Graaargh!” the giant mole roared, glaring at us from down the passageway and brandishing its claws before charging directly at us.

Hmm... Maybe it heard me after all? It was probably attracted to our voices. Bet it thinks it found some food or something.

I wasn’t really sure how to handle it, but...

“[Aqua Cutter].”



Quun cut in with a spell, promptly dispatching the beast. The mole was at least six meters tall, yet it had been sliced in half like a stick of bamboo. I couldn’t believe it...

“ should consider the spell you’re using, girl.”

“Hm? But Fire magic wouldn’t be good in this tunnel, right? Water magic made the most sense.”

“You’re not wrong about that, but your method was flawed. Even if darling places the body in [Storage], you’ve still stained the ground with blood.”

Leen wasn’t wrong. I could already smell the coppery scent of blood as it pooled around the giant mole. It was rather gruesome.

I shoved the remains of the dead giant mole into my [Storage], then used some Wind magic to waft the immediate scent of blood and decay off into the air.

“Using Water magic to choke the creature or Ice magic to seal its body or freeze it would’ve been smarter, dear.”

“Hmph... I’ll try that next time, I guess.”

Leen smiled and patted her sulking daughter on the head. Quun was a smart girl, so she likely would have figured out that stuff on her own at some point...but that didn’t save her from her own impulsive nature. She’d made a mistake.

We kept on digging, and whenever another mole or a giant worm or something showed up, Quun showed us that she’d learned her lesson by promptly dealing with them through her Ice magic. These creatures seemed to be pretty common in this earthy tunnel, so I made a mental note to put up proper wards once the construction was complete. As I thought about that, I casually activated [Dig Spiral] again, excavating more of the soil in front of me...except my spell ended up hitting an open area.

At first, I thought maybe we’d reached the other side, but it couldn’t have been that. We still had a good deal of mountain to get through, after all.

“Hm? Is this a cave of some sort?”

“Oh. Perhaps it’s a limestone cavern.”

The tunnel was dark, so Leen and I had one [Light Orb] each cast above our heads, but even the light from those couldn’t fully illuminate the hole I’d tunneled into.

Quun made an orb of her own and ran over to the opening.

Hey, wait! That’s dangerous, you moron!

“My goodness! Father! Mother! Look down here!”

“Hm? What is it?”

Leen and I were a little surprised by Quun’s excited voice, so we hurried over to look.

“Wait, what in the world?!”

There was a dim light within the cave, like the kind you’d see faintly emitted from luminous moss, but that wasn’t what caught my attention. No, what I couldn’t help but look away from was the sight of the massive city spread out beneath us. We were high up above it, but looking down I could see roads, buildings, obelisks, fortified structures, and even a pyramid. It was an underground city... Or, to be more specific, it was the ruins of an underground city. Some of the buildings were clearly in a state of disrepair...and I couldn’t see any movement. Though, I was looking from a far distance, so I could’ve been wrong.

I wondered if it was a city from an ancient civilization or something. Whatever it was, I hadn’t anticipated bumping into it during my tunnel digging operation.




“That’s incredible! I don’t remember anything like this being on the maps, not even in the future! What a discovery!”

“I have to agree with her, darling. This is quite the find. We might get some free resources out of this discovery.”

“Hah. That would be nice. Maybe I’ll save enough money to treat us to a nice dinner, huh?”

Quun was raving excitedly, while Leen and I exchanged some playful banter. Still, there was a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that I’d just found something troublesome. After all, Quun was acting as if she’d never even heard of this place. Did that mean I’d changed the future? Or perhaps Gandhilis had elected to hide it? But why would they have done that?

I quickly called up the king and he seemed just as excited about the discovery as Quun was. He immediately said he’d be on his way, then hung up.

...He’s on his way? But even if he comes by airship, it’ll take a while to get all the way through here... Maybe I should go pick him up? Nah, I’m sure it’ll be fine. Guy’ll be an hour or two tops, probably.

“Father! Father! Let’s investigate! Please? Can we?!”

Hmm... I doubt I’m gonna be able to keep Quun under control until the king gets here. We should probably scout it out and make sure it’s safe, right? It’d be bad if the place was home to monsters, like those moles and worms.

In the end, we decided to follow Quun through the hole I’d opened. The way down was a sheer drop, so I used [Fly] to get us down safely.

I landed in what seemed to be a plaza, but the paving stones were cracked and many of the buildings were on the verge of collapse. Like I’d assumed, it was an abandoned city.

“It’s like this because protective spells aren’t very common on the western continent. Only Gollems get that kind of treatment, as far as I know.”

“Yes. It’d be difficult to protect an entire city from wear and tear without large-scale protection spells.”

Doc Babylon had told me that the buildings from her era were usually reinforced with Earth magic, then kept free from natural erosion with protection spells. However, because such magic wasn’t common on the western continent, it wasn’t used for things as regular as buildings. Only especially valuable things were treated with that kind of magic. That potentially meant we could find preserved treasure...

I wasn’t quite as excited as Quun, but the prospect did intrigue me. But, as if to put a damper on my excitement, I suddenly heard a noise from the dark.

“...You guys hear that? Is something out there?”

More noises began to ring out from the dark. The three of us stood on edge, waiting to face whatever was shambling our way.

We kept hearing metallic clunking noises...and before long, a Gollem emerged from the shadows. It was slowly crawling our way. It was about the same size as an average man. At a glance, one might assume him to be a knight clad in brass armor, but his face was largely featureless and he had a single mechanical eye that slowly veered from left to right. Four exhaust vents jutted out from its back, a glittering gas slowly leaking from the pipes. The gas also vented out of the Gollem’s limbs and joints as if it was on the verge of falling apart.

Several of these brass Gollems shambled out from the dark of the city. They weren’t armed, but the way they slowly lumbered or crawled toward us made them look like zombies from a horror flick.

“Never thought the city would be filled with weird Gollems...”

“What shall we do, darling? Should we destroy them?”

“Huh?! What was that, mother?! These are valuable legacy Gollems! We couldn’t possibly do that! If we break them, we might not be able to reassemble them!”

“...Please save your troublesome prattling for another time, Quun.”

Leen let out a frustrated sigh as Quun began to panic. I could understand my daughter’s feelings, but I wasn’t about to let these things just attack us.

Since Quun seemed worried, I quietly decided to at least spare one. I could just deactivate it instead of destroying it, after all.

Right when I began to invoke [Eternal Coffin] to capture some Gollems, a woman’s voice rang out, saying, “Fall back, my children. You shall not harm these intruders.”

The sudden voice caught us unawares, but then the brass Gollems began to slowly slink away from us. And then, out of the shadows, came a woman. She wore a loose-fitting white toga, the kind you’d stereotypically see in media depicting the Romans. Her silver hair glimmered in the dark and her eyes gleamed gold. A beautiful smile crept across her face as she bowed in the dark.

“Welcome, overdwellers. Welcome to Agartha, the mechanical city.”

The silver-haired woman...warmly welcomed us.

◇ ◇ ◇


“That’s right. This city was founded by refugees who fled Darnassia, a civilization that once thrived to the north,” the silver-haired woman answered, smiling all the while.

“...Darnassia? Never heard of it.”

“Darnassia was one of two ancient countries that once vied for supremacy on the western continent, father,” Quun chimed in, filling in the blanks.

I’d heard of the two ancient civilizations, but I didn’t know Darnassia was one of them. In the Reverse World’s history, legends told of an ancient Gollem war that erupted between two nations, leading to widespread devastation. The current world of the western continent was what rose from the ashes of that war.

“During the great war, there were those who didn’t wish to engage in combat. They fled their homeland, came across this underground facility, and hoped to wait out the conflict here. Yet decades passed and the war showed no signs of ending, thus the people came to call Agartha their new home.”

“Hm... That makes sense. From what I recall, the war lasted over three hundred years...” Quun mumbled.

Her words seemed to corroborate the woman’s story. Though personally, I found the idea of a war that could last hundreds of years hard to swallow. Then again, there was the Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years’ War back on Earth. It had technically ended after a year when one of the sides surrendered, but there was no formal treaty signed by either party. So later on, historians noticed this and went, “Wait..did this war actually end?” and then a formal declaration was finally signed over three hundred years later. It was a funny story, really. If only all wars ended so peacefully, without a single shot fired.

“Does that mean you’re a descendant of those ancients?” Leen asked, raising a brow as she brought her question to the toga-wearing woman who simply shook her head in response.

Oh? She’s not?

“The people that settled here slowly dwindled in number, and after about two hundred years, they all died out. It’s difficult for humans to survive beneath the ground, away from the light above, after all.”

Oh, yeah... No daylight. Being cooped up with the curtains closed is bad enough, so I can only imagine what living this far beneath the ground must be like.

“Ah. It was likely due to Vitamin D deficiency. That can leave one far more susceptible to death through disease, and is a considerable cause of osteoporosis.”

“You sure know plenty, Leen...”

“I read about it in a book I brought back from your home, darling.”

Leen had picked up just about every textbook she could get her hands on during our honeymoon. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she knew more than me about Earth at this point.

Hold up... If all the people died, then what’s with this woman? Who is she? Didn’t that war end like five thousand years ago? Unless...

Quun suddenly snapped her fingers, her eyes widening.

“I see! You’re a humanoid Gollem, aren’t you?”

“I am. My name is PEL-42. I am from the Perlagione Series of healthcare Gollems. My individual name is Perlulushka,” Perlulushka replied, bowing her head.

A humanoid Gollem, huh...? Legacy Gollems really are on another level. I took her for a human. Though I guess looking at her eyes, the irises are a little different from a normal person’s. Honestly, she’s like Cesca or any of the Babylon sisters. It’s pretty crazy.

Leen shot a confused glance at her and asked, “You’re a healthcare Gollem? Then why did the people here die?”

“They died in spite of my best effort. As generations continued, fear of the outer world only intensified. They chose to wither here instead of venture outside. The land above was an earthly hell, or so they said. Thus, they resolved to stay.”

Hmm... Guess the folklore carried on from generation to generation until the younger people were too scared to go up there. Well, I can’t exactly blame the refugees for not wanting their kids to go above ground and possibly face murderous robots.

“So you’ve been tending to this empty city all this time?”

“I have. Even after this place became the city of Gollems, even after all the people died, I have remained. I stay in a low power state, but occasionally I wake to survey the surroundings. I’ve taken it upon myself to be the warden of this dead city, as well as the Gigantes.”

“The what now?”

Perlulushka raised her hand slowly, pointing off toward something far in the dark. The dim lights of the city were enough for me to make out that she was pointing at something large not far from the pyramid-like building, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was.

“Come forth, Light! Sublime Incandescence: [Megabright].”

Leen cast a spell to illuminate the dark. The ball of light she conjured made its way to the tip of the pyramid, lighting up the entire city as if it was just a small room. And that was when I saw what was behind the pyramid.

A massive machine, half-buried in a wall, towered over the city. It was an unfathomably large Gollem with a strangely humanoid form. However, the most shocking thing about it was that I’d seen something identical to it before.

“The Hecatoncheir?!”

It looked almost identical to the ancient weapon that the witch-king of Isengard had attempted to restore.

“...Hecatoncheir? You mean the one you fought in Isengard, father?!”

“Oh? You’re familiar with the endweapons? That machine over there, Gigantes, is a match for the Hecatoncheir. It is the foul legacy left behind by my ancient masters...”

In other words...this ancient city wasn’t a city at all. It was a production facility of sorts. A factory that rested deep underground that produced Darnassia’s most heinous weapons of war.

When the refugees had come here, everyone working in the facility was dead. Their bodies were twisted in agony. It wasn’t known if there was an accident, or if there’d been some kind of sabotage involving poison gas, but once they’d confirmed the immediate area was safe, the Darnassian refugees decided to live in this place. As frightening as it was, it was safer than the war above ground.

Unfortunately, the people gradually learned horrifying information as they combed over the research notes that had been left behind. The Gigantes weapon had already been completed. It was just in a dormant state.

“The Gigantes is currently in a state I would refer to as sleep mode. But if it was to be activated, it would begin to act based upon its final orders. And regrettably, it had only one command. Defeat the enemy.”

“And who would be the enemy?”

“All Gollems that aren’t affiliated with Darnassia.”

What the hell kind of order is that?! If this thing wakes up, it’s just gonna start attacking every Gollem in the world!

“The Gigantes has no reason to exist other than that one order imprinted within it. Even without a contracted master, it shall attempt to carry out that duty indiscriminately. And it won’t just stop at Gollems either. Anything unrelated to its homeland will be scorched. People, cities, countries. That is why this is such a foul legacy. For when it awakes, it shall raze the entire world.”

The witch-king had mentioned something about how at the end of the great war, multiple countries scrambled to make ultimate weapons. Perlulushka had referred to this thing as an endweapon too. I could only assume the Gigantes was made to combat whatever country had produced the Hecatoncheir.

“This is apocalyptic... What do you make of it, darling?”

“Hrm... Sounds like it’ll be a problem, so maybe we should just trash it.”

“You can’t think of destroying it! That would be a waste! Er, I mean...I know it’s a threat to world peace and all, but still...” Quun objected before shirking back as both Leen and I glared at her.

This is kind of an annoying situation, though. I’m in another country’s territory, so I can’t just destroy this thing without running it by the king. I dunno if I have the right to do that. Sure, I found it, but it’s technically in Gandhilese territory. Still, even if Gandhilis claims it, I’ll have to make sure it can’t actively be used. That’s way too risky.

“Can I go take a look at it?”

“...So long as you do nothing to disturb it, you may. Please take extreme caution.”

Gollems without masters were still conditioned to obey humans within all reasonable bounds, so Perlulushka accepted my request. It was probably a little awkward for her, though, since she was the protector of this place. I could understand her apprehension. Plus, the first thing it would target upon awakening would be the Gollems in the immediate area...and she probably wasn’t that eager to die after surviving this long.

Perlulushka led us over to the Gigantes. As I got closer, I realized it wasn’t really embedded in a wall, it was more that the cavernous area around it had caved in and covered it.

Right when I was about to take another step, Perlulushka stopped me.

“Don’t go any further than that. Watch and see.”

Perlulushka picked up a small rock and tossed it toward the Gigantes. The second the rock flew through the air and made it a little bit past where I was standing, a laser sight beam suddenly locked onto it. Then, a gun popped out of the gigantic Gollem and fired a single shot, blasting it to smithereens.

The sight caused Quun to blink in surprise. Then she smirked and said, “So it has an active interception system, does it?”

“It does. The system functions independently of the Gigantes. It targets anything and everything within a certain range.”

Wow, talk about intense. Guess that explains why nobody from Agartha ever destroyed the thing.

“So, uh, what do you want to do with it?”

“We of this city are Gollems. We obey the will of mankind. Whatever you and the other humans decide is our course, though my personal hope is that you will fulfill the wishes of those who once called Agartha home. That you will destroy the Gigantes and restore peace to this land.”

The refugees who came to settle Agartha must have spent generations trembling in fear of not only the outside world, but this terrifying Gollem on their doorstep. Given that she must have been witness to this generational trauma, I could understand Perlulushka’s feelings.

“Father. [Prison] should suffice here, no?”

“Yep, yep...”

I couldn’t help but feel like my daughter was treating me like a utility tool, but I understood what she was getting at. And so, I activated [Prison] and took a step forward. A tracing laser sight settled on me, then several others, but none of their shots hit me.

Perlulushka stared in wonder as the bullets bounced off the invisible barrier around me. I was a little amused at how expressive she was. Given that she was a medical machine, she probably needed to be able to display more humanity than most of her fellow Gollems.

It would’ve been more convenient just to destroy the turrets firing at us, but I didn’t want to disturb the Gigantes and wake it by accident. It was annoying, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

I had Perlulushka, Quun, and Leen join me inside the protective barrier. We then made our way toward the Gigantes’s foot together.

“Oh yes, the mana circuit here is alive and well... The ether lines are running all along its surface... Incredible. Does this have a dampening effect, I wonder? It’s almost like a soft defensive line of magic. Not even charged bullets would have any effect...”

...Crap. Quun’s nerding out again. Guess I can’t be surprised, but it sure is tiring.

“Speak more plainly, Quun. Can we destroy this thing?”

“Well...the ether lines and the mana circuit work in tandem to create something equivalent to human skin. In other words, when it’s attacked, or touched, the ether lines work like nerves to tell the Gollem what happened. If you don’t destroy it in one instantaneous attack, the Gigantes will awaken. Even the slightest touch is probably enough to make it activate.”

...So, in other words, we can’t go near this thing without risking an extinction-level threat. I sure dug the wrong tunnel today, didn’t I...?

“Hmm... It’ll be a bit of a pain, but I can probably destroy it in one go. I could open up a [Gate] under it and send it into a volcano, maybe...”

“I’m not so sure that would do the trick, darling. Its defensive functions would probably shirk off the lava, and then it would simply crawl back out of the crater.”

Leen promptly shot down my suggestion, and I couldn’t argue with her. At the very least, I couldn’t dismiss the possibility. I didn’t want to gamble with something so risky either...since an exploding volcano wouldn’t have been much good for the world.

“It might be a good idea to move it, though. If we transport it someplace uninhabited and fight it with multiple Frame Gears, I’m sure we’d win.”

That definitely made sense to me. It was an apocalyptic weapon, but it couldn’t be stronger than the wicked god. I was sure I’d be able to take it down if I had all my wives supporting me.

Hmm... I really need to talk to the king about all this, but he’s probably left the castle by now, so I can’t just teleport to him.

I estimated that it’d probably be about an hour or so before he reached us, so I decided to return to Agartha and wait. We left the Gigantes behind and had Perlulushka show us around the city. Since the place was an ancient weapons facility, Quun was practically giddy as she walked through the streets.

An hour passed by in the blink of an eye as Quun meticulously documented everything she came across. At one point I looked up and noticed King Gandhilis and his men peering through the hole I’d made above.

“I had no idea my country was home to such ancient terror...” King Gandhilis mumbled as he and his entourage looked across the city and the Gigantes with faces that seemed both awestruck and horrified at the same time.

I quickly introduced Perlulushka and briefed them on the matter at hand. The Gigantes situation wasn’t something I wanted to neglect, after all.

“An ancient civilization’s weapon of mass destruction... I knew of Isengard’s, but to think we had one too... This is indeed a troubling matter.”

King Gandhilis sat there in thought, pinching the bridge of his nose. I could understand his dilemma. Gandhilis had a great many engineers and researchers who would surely have loved to investigate every inch of the ancient weapon, but if they handled it in the wrong way, then the entire world would be at risk.

“Your Majesty, this is a prime opportunity for our nation. Should we reverse engineer this Gollem, we can learn untold secrets of the past...”

“And risk doing what Isengard did? Risk scarring the world further? Are you mad? I can’t simply weigh this situation myself, it is far beyond a single man such as I...” King Gandhilis let out a deep sigh as he admonished the soldier who’d spoken up.

Eventually, he stood up, looking over at the Gigantes, and said, “This ancient technology would be a boon to Gandhilis, that much is true. Yet I cannot risk the safety of my people. I would defer to the Grand Duke of Brunhild on this matter. However, should there be wreckage after all is said and done...I would like to have my engineers examine it.”

“Sure, that sounds fair. We’ll have Elluka and some assistants go over it with you.”

The assistants I had in mind were Doc Babylon and maybe some of the gynoids, but I had a feeling the professor would want to investigate the Gollem as well.

“I’ll move the Gigantes to a place without any people in it, and then we’ll fight it until it’s broken.”

I’m gonna have to call everyone in for this, aren’t I? I guess that includes the kids too...? I dunno, though.

“Oh, might I be able to watch you fight it?”

“I would also like to see the Gigantes face its end.”

Both King Gandhilis and Perlulushka requested to be present for the battle. Given that Perlulushka had been watching over it for thousands of years, I could understand why she’d want to see the end of it. The king probably wanted to confirm the destruction for the sake of his country, and I didn’t have a problem with offering the two of them peace of mind.

“Mmm... I guess it’s fine, but...”

I didn’t know what kind of weaponry the thing had, so I didn’t want to put either of them at risk. In the end, I decided to set up a live feed and have them watch on a monitor. I also figured that the kids could watch the feed as well, so they could feel involved without being in any actual danger.

...It was starting to feel like I was setting up some exclusive showing for a mecha movie or something.

◇ ◇ ◇

“It is huge, it is... Far larger than the one in Isengard,” Yae murmured as she looked up at the Gigantes in wonder.

We’d managed to take out the Hecatoncheir with just three Frame Gears. My Reginleif, Yae’s Schwertleite, and Hilde’s Siegrune. If this thing was about as strong as the Hecatoncheir, then I wouldn’t need all my wives to fight it, but its strength wasn’t actually known to me. Since it was made by a different country, it probably had different capabilities...and I didn’t want to take any chances.

“Where are we going to move it?”

“I was thinking either some place in Isengard or Yulong. Just in case, you know?” I replied, quickly answering Linze’s question. But on second thought, I decided that Isengard was the best bet. That country was basically completely ruined, while Yulong had begun to slowly build up various villages and settlements from its earlier destruction. I didn’t see the need to get in their way if they planned on civilizing the place.

“So we’re all going to fight it?”

“If you’re up for it, yeah...”

Even though I was talking to Yumina, she wasn’t the one who responded to my proposition.

“I wanna! I’m up for it! Dad! Please! Me!”

“Yeah! Me too! C’mon, lemme at it!”

Linne and Allis jumped up and waved their hands. I let out a small sigh, wondering why Allis was even here. I’d warped back to Brunhild to get Yakumo to help bring the others over, and for some reason, Allis tagged along. Ende was there as well, of course.

“No. It’s too dangerous. You guys can watch on the monitor, okay?”

“It’s okay! We can pilot Frame Gears!”

Hmm... I know they can do that, but still... I guess there’s the auto-eject function in case of extreme emergency, but I’m really not sure this is... Huh? What’s this presence?

“Fret not, dearie. Should the worst come to pass, I shall see them to safety.”

Granny Tokie suddenly appeared, walking over from behind Linne and the others. I hadn’t seen her in a while. Apparently, she’d been busy with some business in the divine realm, but I didn’t know what kind. She had dominion over Space-time, which meant she could freely teleport or even freeze the flow of time itself. Looking over the safety of a couple of children was nothing to her.

As if emboldened by Granny Tokie’s words, Allis and Linne looked back up at me with puppy dog eyes.

“I’m not sure if Linze and Ende are okay with it, though...”

“I’m sure Linne will do fine! And I know Granny Tokie will keep her safe. I approve!”

“Look, man...we both know I don’t want her to do this...but she’s gonna end up getting her way no matter what I say.”

Linze replied with enthusiasm, while Ende replied with dejected resignation.

“Go ahead, Linne. You can borrow my Gerhilde. I think it’ll be easier for you to fight in than Linze’s Helmwige, right?”

“Yay! Thank you so much!” Linne exclaimed as she leaped forward and gave Elze a big hug.

Yeah, I guess as far as punching goes, Gerhilde’s the best Frame Gear for the job. Wait...can you even punch this thing?

I looked up at the massive Gigantes, wondering if smacking it around would even do anything.

“What about you, Allis? Gonna take your dad’s Dragoon?”

“Umm...I don’t really like the Dragoon... It’s too speedy...”

“What?!” Ende yelled, his shoulders slumping.

Ende’s Dragoon was a specialized Frame Gear that emphasized mobility over all else. It fought the exact same way he did, effectively. The mention of it reminded me that it was probably due an upgrade. I hadn’t given the thing any attention in a long time. Allis could coat her Frame Gear with crystalline armor, so that still gave weaker Frame Gears like the Dragoon a combative edge...but she didn’t seem to like the idea.

Allis suddenly spoke up, saying, “Umm...I want to ride Ortlinde, but...I probably can’t, right?”

“Hm? My Frame Gear?” Sue mumbled, looking over in confusion.

Oh... Yeah. Sue’s Ortlinde is definitely second only to Elze’s Gerhilde when it comes to punching and kicking, and it’s the most defensive out of all of our Frame Gears as well.

“My Ortlinde is far slower than your father’s Dragoon. Are you sure you’re fine with that? I suppose I could let you use it...”

“I am! I’d really love to! Thank you!” Allis cheered and gave Sue a big hug.

Ende, unfortunately, continued to mutter quietly to himself, sounding rather depressed.

Yakumo, Frei, Quun, Yoshino, Arcia, and Elna declined to participate. They were happy just watching on the monitors. Well, Quun wasn’t exactly happy. She thought destroying Gigantes was a terrible waste, after all.

We decided that Yumina, Lu, Sakura, and Leen would serve as the rear support team, while Linne, Allis, Yae, and Hilde would be in the vanguard. Linze, Ende, and I would respond accordingly when we were needed.

We set up the monitors in Agartha’s plaza, then had Kougyoku’s birds carry the cameras to shoot a live broadcast.

All right...let’s take down this hunk of junk!

◇ ◇ ◇

I hopped to Isengard to scout out the area before the battle. It would’ve been bad if there were people around when we awoke the Gigantes, after all.

Isengard’s capital, Isenberg, was still in a state of ruin. I ran a [Search] to look it over and quickly realized there weren’t any humans around. Though while I was at it, I ran another search.

“...Run search. Evil cyborgs.”

I’d wondered if that masked woman and her weird minions that Yakumo had mentioned were around, but apparently, they weren’t. They might’ve left after Yakumo escaped, fearing that someone like me might show up in her wake. Whatever the case, I’d secured the knowledge nobody was in the area. Even if we got a little rowdy, there’d be no risk of hurting anyone.

The plan was simple enough. I’d bring all the others over and have them board their Valkyrie Gears. Then, I’d head back to the underground city and pick up Gigantes using [Gate]. After that, I’d travel to Isengard with Reginleif...and just kind of play it by ear at that point.

I brought everyone over as planned and they got into their Frame Gears. Ende was joining in the fight as well, presumably to keep an eye on Allis.

“Wow! I can see all over the place! This thing feels so much heavier than normal Frame Gears too! Amazing!” Allis exclaimed as she stomped around in the Ortlinde Overlord, which she’d apparently never tried out before. She flexed the mech’s arms, waving them around wildly.

Ende nervously stood nearby in his Dragoon, watching her intently.

Relax, old man. She’ll be fine.


As Allis did that, Linne was flexing her skills in Gerhilde. She fired out a pile bunker shot from one of the arms. She had a surprisingly good level of control over the machine, as if she’d piloted it before. I personally felt she wasn’t quite as adept as Elze, though that was only natural.

Linze was looking over her daughter, much like how Ende was watching his own, but she was much calmer than he was. She had confidence in Linne’s skills, so there was no point in her fretting.

Typically, a special Frame Gear could only be piloted by the person it was made for, but there was a degree of leeway for immediate family members or those with similar magical signatures. Since Elze was Linne’s aunt, they were close enough for there to be no issues in terms of piloting. And as far as Allis went, she was part that made her a lot more adaptable when it came to magical signatures. Though that could’ve actually been a trait from Ende, honestly. I didn’t actually know.

All right, they’re all geared up. Time to head back to Gandhilis and send the Gigantes over...

I made it back to Agartha and saw everyone huddled around the monitors I’d set up. The cameras mostly showed Ortlinde Overlord and Gerhilde warming up.

King Gandhilis was staring intently at the screen as he asked, “These are the gigantic Gollems found in the Duchy of Brunhild, aren’t they? The Frame Gears, yes? I’ve heard much about them.”

“They’re not exactly Gollems, but...yeah. Basically. They’re what we’ll be using to take the Gigantes down.”

“Are you sure they’ll be enough? Weapons of its scale brought devastation to our entire continent in the long past, you know...?”

“I’m sure it’s a powerful weapon, but it can’t match up to the wicked god. I’ve beaten things far stronger than this before, and I have a backup plan in case stuff goes south. Anyway, I’ll send it over now.”

In the absolute worst-case scenario, I was ready to fully unleash my Divine Apotheosis and use the power of my godhood to obliterate the Gigantes. That kind of attack would totally trash the Gigantes, though, and I had a feeling both Quun and Gandhilis in general wouldn’t appreciate that solution, so I wanted to avoid it if possible.

All right, I should quit wasting time. Let’s just warp this damn thing over already.


I opened up a portal beneath the Gigantes, and it fell through the bottom to Isengard along with bits of rock and soil. As it fell, a flash of light roared out from the Gigantes. I had a feeling that the sudden motion was registered as an attack, which woke it from sleep mode.

I closed up the big portal, then opened up a smaller one underneath me. In a flash, I was standing in Isengard. As I looked around, I saw that the Gigantes had landed exactly where I’d planned, but it was already rising from the heap of rubble. It was much smaller than the wicked god, but its body was still larger than the Hecatoncheir. In terms of size, it was comparable to an Advanced Phrase. And as far as its actual form went, it looked like a gigantic humanoid. It wasn’t quite as streamlined or sophisticated as a Frame Gear, however, so it still looked pretty blocky and rough around the edges. Something told me that it hadn’t been created with style in mind. It looked more like a mishmash of various parts that didn’t quite fit properly.

Several pipes and vents jutted out from its back, fumes of glimmering residue sputtering out. It had long, bulky arms and thick tree trunk legs, but its head was tiny, giving it a somewhat uneven look. Its head was shaped like an armet helm, with no facial features to speak of. A faint red camera light peeked out from the eye slit, moving left to right and back again.


It slowly creaked and rumbled, its massive arms rising upward.

“Ah! It’s lunging forward! Yae, Hilde! Incoming!”

“Mmm?! Understood!”

“G-Got it!”

Yae’s Schwertleite and Hilde’s Siegrune were right in front of the Gigantes, so they quickly responded to Yumina’s command. The very next instant, the Gigantes brought its huge fists slamming into the ground. The earth rushed out of the impact point like a tsunami of soil. It rumbled outward, surging like a mighty wave, kicking up rock, dirt, and dust in its wake.

Had they not heeded Yumina’s warning, Yae and Hilde definitely would’ve been caught right in the middle of it. I had a feeling Yumina’s precognition had been triggered.

“That ability’s not unlike the [Earth Wave] spell... I wonder if that’s a Gollem skill...or perhaps something more akin to an artifact?” Leen murmured. She couldn’t help but analyze the situation from within her Grimgerde, but I personally felt we could save the postulating for later. Quun would probably have a lecture prepared for us by the time we got back, anyway.

Wait, I shouldn’t just stand around gawking.

“Reginleif!” I called my Frame Gear out from [Storage] and immediately used [Fly] to rocket into the cockpit. It’d been a long time since I’d actually fought in it, come to think of it.

As my Reginleif took flight, I received a communication from Linze’s Helmwige.

“Touya. Could you let us try on our own first?”

“Huh? I mean, sure, but are you sure it’ll be fine?”

I wasn’t necessarily worried about my wives, but I had some level of concern about Allis and Linne. They weren’t used to the Frame Gears they were piloting, and they were up against an unknown foe. Even if I knew they’d be safe, I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d be able to fight to their fullest.

“I can do it without your help, father! Just watch us!”

“Linne’s right! You can stand by, okay?! You too, dad!”

“W-Wait, me too?! But Allis...!” Ende exclaimed, letting out a sorrowful yelp.

Hmm... I guess it’ll be fine. Linze and the others have divine blessings on their side, and there are seven of them here. Couple that with the fact that Granny Tokie is watching over the kids and it’s kind of overkill even without me.

“All right. I’ll stay back. But if it gets too bad, I’m interfering.”


I could hear Linne and Allis cheering happily through the speakers. I also heard Ende yell some kind of protest, but I elected to ignore it.

“All right, let’s do this! Charge!”

“Wait there. It would be folly to charge in against a foe you know nothing about. We should wait and observe its movements before making our own move.”

“Aww... Okaaay,” Linne mumbled, pouting a little as Hilde stopped her. However, I definitely agreed. There was no point in rushing in.

At that exact moment, the Gigantes’s shoulder armor opened outward like a gull-wing door, revealing rows of missile pods inside.


A roaring sound rang out as hundreds of missiles were launched into the air, glimmering trails of magical residue trailing behind them.

“I’ve got this! Stardust Shell!” Allis roared as she charged forward with the Ortlinde Overlord, raising its left hand high into the air.

Several starry lights coalesced above the battlefield, weaving together into a huge defensive barrier. The missiles struck the wall of stars, exploding on impact. Those that were merely deflected detonated in the debris below instead.

The destructive power unleashed by the missiles was immense... Had the Gigantes unleashed them down in Agartha, the entire place would’ve caved in.

Once the hail of missiles ceased, the Ortlinde Overlord’s right arm came swooping upward.

“Eat this! Cannon Knuckle!”

The Ortlinde Overlord’s right arm detached from the elbow and flew over toward the Gigantes. It was quite the delightful rocket punch to witness from a distance.

“And now this! Crystal Arm!”

The airborne rocket fist suddenly found itself coated in phrasium, coiled with crystal vines until it was more like a gigantic arrow barreling through the air. Compared to the Gigantes, even the thirty-meter Ortlinde Overlord looked small. If the Gigantes was the size of a human man, then the Ortlinde was a baby in comparison. However, a sharpened rock the size of a baby’s fist would still hurt an adult if it went hurtling into them at high speed.

The Gigantes took the impact square in the chest...yet the mighty impact failed to make a dent in the Gollem’s armor.

“What?!” Allis exclaimed, letting out a surprised yell. The rocket fist then fell limply to the ground, and the Ortlinde quickly reeled it back in.

“It didn’t work?”

“Even the Ortlinde’s fist wasn’t enough...?”

Hilde and Yae looked up at the Gigantes in shock. As far as raw destructive power went, the Ortlinde was the strongest Frame Gear in our entire arsenal. The downside was that it was fairly easy to avoid its attacks, since they were slow, but this had been a direct hit, and it was even coated in phrasium. Just how thick was this Gollem’s armor? I wondered if it was made out of something equivalent to phrasium.

“When the fist hit it, I heard a peculiar noise... It was like hard rubber, I think...almost like a reverb of sorts. I don’t think the chest armor is metal...” Sakura said, sending us a message from her Rossweisse.

Huh, really? So it’s like a shock absorber or something?

“Then we must slash it, we must. Sakura-dono, support us with your magic, please!”

“Got it.”

As soon as Yae finished talking, Rossweisse’s symphonic horns moved from its back to its shoulders. A song then began to blare from the speakers, and it was a melody that I recognized...

Sakura’s singing voice was as beautiful as ever. The song was written as the main theme song to a movie in which the main character rode a funny-looking white dragon. The song started and ended with a fade in and a fade out, suggesting that the song had no beginning or end. Apparently, it was deliberately done that way, as the story itself was a never-ending one.

All the Frame Gears in Sakura’s range were immediately bolstered.

“Kokonoe Secret Style: Phoenix Blaze!”

“Lestian Sacred Sword: First Cutter!”

Yae’s Schwertleite and Hilde’s Siegrune blasted forward, their slashes rippling through the air as they lunged toward the Gigantes. The massive foe was unable to avoid the incoming attacks, resulting in direct slashes to the flanks of its legs.

The Gollem didn’t come out of the attack unscathed, losing a piece of its outer plating. However, the attack barely did anything at all, the results comparable to a tiny scrape if it had been on a person.

“Hm... It was not quite enough, it was not.”

“Yes, its size is certainly an issue.”

The Gigantes reflexively swung down at Yae and Hilde, as if it had flown into a rage. The girls easily avoided the attack, but the impact kicked up more debris and dust. Fortunately, they’d already anticipated that, so the flying rubble was easily slashed down in midair. The speed at which it all happened was hard to process, even for me.

Laser sights suddenly appeared all over the battlefield, and turrets jutted out of almost every part of the Gollem’s body.

“Whoa! What?!”

Linne’s Gerhilde seemed to be within range, and it was already under attack. Luckily, it was a dexterous Frame Gear, so Linne was able to deftly avoid the hail of fire.

“Linne! Grab on!”


Helmwige rushed over in flight mode and swooped in low above Gerhilde. Linne had Gerhilde grab the hook that Linze dropped from above, allowing her to fly off into the sky with her mother.

The Gigantes suddenly looked upward, its two head-mounted cannons moving to track the girls as they fled upward.

“I don’t think so.”

Seconds later, a storm of crystal bullets smashed into the Gollem’s face, courtesy of Leen’s Grimgerde. That attack didn’t do any meaningful damage, but it was enough to grab the enemy’s attention. The Gigantes was now solely focused on Grimgerde instead. It lunged forward with a sweeping punch, but Grimgerde merely floated above the point of impact.

I was actually a little worried about Leen’s ability to dodge, since the only Frame Gear less mobile than Grimgerde was Ortlinde in its Overlord form.

More laser sights came out from the Gigantes’s turrets, this time trying to focus on both Ende in his Dragoon and Lu in her Waltraute. However, the two were far too agile for it to get a clean shot in, so they simply weaved their way across the ground and made it waste its shots.

As all this went on, Yumina’s Brunnhilde slowly picked off each turret, one after the other, with its sniper. I was honestly shocked by how accurate her aim was...

“Hm? It has recovered from our earlier attack, it has?”

Yae’s voice made me raise an eyebrow, and I quickly noticed that the wound inflicted by their earlier attack had regenerated. Apparently, it had self-restorative capabilities much like the Hecatoncheir. In other words, the only way to beat it was to destroy its interior faster than it could repair itself. It wouldn’t be able to restore critical damage, after all.

“Dad! Get me a weapon! Something good for kicking and punching!”


A message suddenly came in from Linne in Gerhilde. I looked over and saw she was riding Helmwige through the air like a surfboard.

Didn’t you say you wanted to do this without my help...? Well, whatever.

“Uhhh... Okay... Mode change: Knuckle & Greave!”

The Fragarach plates on Reginleif’s back disconnected and flew over to Gerhilde as they changed shape midair.

Linze told me not to interfere, so this is all you’re getting.

Gerhilde’s fists were coated with phrasium, but clearly, Linne needed something a little extra to get the most out of her attacks.

The Fragarachs transformed into gauntlets that wrapped themselves around Gerhilde’s fists, spiked prongs jutting out of the knuckles. They also wrapped around Gerhilde’s legs, creating reinforced leg armor with spikes on them

“All right! Now I can do this!”

Helmwige zoomed forward until it was right above the Gigantes. The massive Gollem was distracted by Ende’s Dragoon and Lu’s Waltraute, so it was completely oblivious to the duo above.

The sight before my eyes made me pause for a moment to think about the difference between Gollems and robots. This Gollem clearly had the capacity to be distracted, which made me think it had some kind of human trait to it. Gollems weren’t merely robots, after all. They all had some element of personality to them, and legacy Gollems usually had more personality than most.

In the Hecatoncheir’s case, the old witch-king overrode any hint of personality, but it felt to me like the Gigantes had a sense of self that operated alongside its programmed orders. Though obviously, that didn’t mean we could negotiate with it. We were already in the middle of battle, so I saw no reason to stop.

Linne took advantage of its distracted state, leaping Gerhilde off Helmwige’s back and hurtling down toward the Gollem below.

“Meteor Kiiiiiiiiiiiick!”

Gerhilde, its entire frame made intensely heavy thanks to [Gravity], landed a direct hit on the top of the Gigantes’s head from above. Moments later, a dull metallic clunk rang out, and its entire head caved inward and smashed into its torso.

Gerhilde’s base weight was around seven tons, so I couldn’t even begin to imagine how heavy it had been after being amplified. This wasn’t just something falling out of the sky and conking a person on the head, it was more like a lead golf ball falling from a skyscraper directly onto someone’s skull.

The Gigantes, understandably, couldn’t recover from that. It stopped moving entirely, lurched forward onto its knees, and eventually fell flat.

◇ ◇ ◇

“...Did they defeat it?”

The people watching on the monitors in Agartha were stunned beyond belief. The Gollem had fallen so unceremoniously that they’d barely had any time to register what had happened.

“I’m not surprised my Frame Gear and one of our daughters could pull that off. It was a fine finisher, to be sure. Still, it’s not over yet...”

“Mhm. There’s more to come, I think.”

Elze and Sue calmly watched the situation unfold on the monitor, their comments prompting everyone else to cautiously look back at the biggest machine on the screen.

A low rumbling and a mechanical roar creaked out from the Gigantes, its prone body spewing puffs of magical vapor.

“Auuugh! They totally scrapped it! I told them to be gentle!” Quun yelled, losing her cool. She seemed genuinely distressed as she looked at the Gollem’s caved-in head.

Frei and Yakumo silently shook their heads at her and turned back to watch the screen. The monitor only showed more billowing vapor rising from the Gigantes. And then...with a dull clunk...the Gigantes’s right arm fell off at the shoulder. Another clunk rang out a second later, and the arm broke off at the elbow. Magical vapor filled the camera feed, obscuring what was happening. Only clunking sounds rang out across the battlefield.

When the smoke eventually cleared, the Gigantes’s body was broken into several pieces. The left and right arms had come off and broken apart at the elbows, producing four pieces in total. The left and right legs had also come off and broken apart at the knees, producing another four pieces. Then there was the head, the upper torso, and the lower belly.

The Gigantes had broken into eleven distinct parts...but not as a result of Gerhilde’s attack.

“A-Ah! Look!” one of the people watching on the monitor yelped, finding themself unable to hold their voice back any longer.

One of the separated chunks of the Gigantes slowly began to shift and reassemble...and it eventually took the form of a smaller humanoid Gollem that was roughly the same size as a Frame Gear. The other parts followed suit, and all eleven parts transformed... The head part didn’t finish its transformation, however, meaning ten smaller Gollems remained.

“Hm... The Gigantes was structured similarly to my Ortlinde, was it?”

“My goodness! Merging and separation functions?! That’s incredible!”

Sue could only sigh as she realized what the Gigantes was truly capable of. Quun, on the other hand, looked more excited than ever. Frei and Yakumo once again shook their heads in disapproval before turning back to the monitor to see what would come next.

◇ ◇ ◇

The Gigantes had split its body apart and separated into different Gollems. Its head wasn’t functioning properly, so it ended up becoming ten Gollems in total. One from the upper torso, one from the belly, two from the upper arms, two from the forearms, two from the upper legs, and two from the shins downward.

I never expected it to be a segmented Gollem. Honestly, it was remarkably similar to the Ortlinde Overlord.

Just because it split didn’t mean things were easier either. Each individual piece was still larger than the average Frame Gear. They were all at least the size of the Ortlinde Overlord. The two torso pieces were the biggest by far, though. Not necessarily in height, but certainly in width. If each of them had their own Q-Crystals and individual power sources, then it stood to reason that the head was the one that kept them cohesive. Once the head had been crushed, the Gollem split apart because it wasn’t able to remain synchronized.

“There are ten of them...and ten of us. This seems perfect to me, it does,” Yae said, her cheerful voice flowing through the speakers.

Huh? Does she want us to each take one?

“I’ll take the biggest one then, okay?!” Allis exclaimed, her voice ringing out over the speakers as she made the Ortlinde Overlord’s knuckles smack together.

The biggest Gollem was probably the upper-torso one, but that was also the one that had deflected her Cannon Knuckle attack earlier. I wondered if she’d be okay. Though that said, it was probably best for us to have our biggest Frame Gear take on their biggest Gollem. Ortlinde didn’t just have the Cannon Knuckle at its disposal, after all.

“It’d be wisest to take out the weakest one as a group first. After that, we should each split into teams and take them on one at a time.”

Yumina was right. It seemed far more advantageous to whittle down their numbers. Sure, in battle manga it was more flashy or cinematic to do one-on-one battles, but when it came to actual combat, it was always better to gang up on your foes and take them down one at a time. The opponent might have been thinking of that too, though, which was why you had to identify the weakest link as soon as possible. And as far as the weakest went, those would probably be the Gollems that formed from the Gigantes’s upper legs. They looked the frailest by far.

The Gigantes didn’t have very long legs, but since they had to support the body, they were still probably pretty thick.

“Let’s get ahead of this while we can,” Yumina stated. She then trained her sniper rifle on one of the upper-leg Gollems.

“We should attack them from beyond their active range. That’s the best way to ensure our victory,” Leen said, her transmission punctuated by the shoulders, legs, and chest armor on Grimgerde sliding open, revealing multiple missile pods. Grimgerde’s arm Gatling guns and finger vulcan cannons primed themselves and aimed at the same Gollem as Yumina.

“Let’s settle this!”

Lu’s Waltraute suddenly transitioned into caster mode, the large cannon on its back tracking the same Gollem as the other two.


A massive hail of bullets rained down on the enemy Gollem, riddling the machine with holes. The armor on the legs clearly wasn’t as sturdy as the plating on the chest, since it blew open and fell backward after the volley.

The other nine Gollems began to move immediately. They split into two groups, one in a defensive formation and another in a counterattack formation. The two upper-arm Gollems had long-range capabilities, so they unleashed the Gigantes’s shoulder missiles.

Yumina and the others promptly spread outward and avoided the missile shower.

The upper-leg Gollem that had been attacked recovered and stood up, but it was missing most of its armor plating. Smoke billowed from its body. I could hardly believe it had taken such heavy fire and come out unscathed. Talk about tenacious...

“Cannon Knuckle!”

A moment later, out of nowhere, the Gollem was suddenly smashed into smithereens by Allis’s well-timed rocket punch. It was so thoroughly pulverized that there was no hope for it to regenerate, which meant there were only nine left.

“Let’s go after the other one.”

On Yumina’s command, the long-range trio focused their attacks on the other upper-leg Gollem. Much like the first one, it was blasted until it was smoldering...leaving the perfect opening for Linze to swoop in with Helmwige for the coup de grâce. Her Frame Gear’s crystal wings easily sliced through the dazed Gollem, bisecting it cleanly.

Two down, eight to go.

The upper-arm Gollems began firing on Helmwige as it circled them in the sky. She deftly dodged every attack with ease, swerving and sliding past every missile and bullet launched upward.

When’d you get so good at maneuvering like that? You’re like an ace pilot...

During our honeymoon, we’d ended up visiting a few arcades and I ended up being pretty surprised by how good Linze was at the shooting games. Actually, all my wives were surprisingly deft at stuff like that...

“Hilde-dono and I shall take out these attackers, we shall.”

“That’s right! We’re perfect for the job!”

Yae’s Schwertleite and Hilde’s Siegrune closed in on the upper-arm Gollems that were firing on Linze. The Gollems had missile pods on their backs, Gatling guns at their sides, and shields on their shoulders. They were clearly long-range attackers. That said, they did have spears for close encounters as well. However, even with those spears, Yae and Hilde had the clear advantage if they could push them into a melee fight. Normally, it would have been impossible to make it through the hail of bullets, but Yae and Hilde were powerful and agile enough to knock bullets out of thin air.

“What are the two forearm Gollems like?”

“They seem slow, but also quite tough.”

Yumina asked for a status report, and Sakura quickly replied. The two Gollems were definitely on the stocky and heavily armored side.

“I’ll handle them! I’ll use Mama Elze’s pile bunkers to break them to bits! Can I, mom?!”

“Sure, you can... Could you offer her some support, Sakura?”

“Mhm. Got it. I’ll help Linne out...and make sure she stays safe.”

Apparently, Sakura’s Rossweisse and Linne’s Gerhilde were the ones selected to face down the forearm Gollems. Rossweisse’s soundwave magic could probably make that thick armor more brittle.

The sight of Linne charging forward must’ve sparked Allis’s competitive streak, as she quickly pointed Ortlinde’s finger over towards the upper-torso Gollem.

“I’m gonna trash the big one now!”

“Sure. Ende can take on the second-biggest Gollem.”

“Huh?! Touya! You can’t just decide stuff like that!”

Ende started complaining over the speakers, but I just mentally tuned him out. I knew he was capable of resonance stuff similar to Rossweisse, so it only made sense to assign him to a heavily armored target.

“Hey, Allis, you wanna see your dad beat a bad guy, right?”

“Yeah! I’d love to see him do it!”

“W-Wait, she would? You would?! H-Ha ha... Th-Then yeah, I’ll do it, Allis! For you!”

Pfft! You’re dancing in the palm of her hand, Ende. You’re one useless man, you know that? Powerless in the face of your daughter... I’m in the same boat, it’s not like I can talk.

With those targets decided, that left Yumina, Linze, Lu, and Leen to face the lower-leg Gollems. Those Gollems seemed to be designed for hand-to-hand combat, with bladed weapons jutting from their arms. It wasn’t that they were wielding swords, it was more that their hands were the swords. They weren’t quite as large as the other ones, but they still stood taller than regular Frame Gears.

Even though it was two against four in this case, most of the remaining girls were long-range attackers. The key to winning this fight would be for the girls to maintain their distance.

“Let’s do this!” Linne exclaimed as she took Gerhilde and had it charge toward one of the forearm Gollems. Sakura’s Rossweisse began to transmit her singing voice in tandem with the strike.

...Why this song, of all things?

From what I understood, it was a famous American rock song. The lyrics were apparently about the lead singer finding the girl he had a crush on in high school on the pinup page of an adult magazine.

Sakura’s wedding ring was imbued with all kinds of divinity, so she should’ve been able to understand the English lyrics...

The resonance pulse emitted from Rossweisse rocketed against the forearm Gollem, shattering its armor in an instant.

“Let’s go! Pile bunker!” Linne roared, smashing Gerhilde’s fist hard into the exposed innards of her Gollem foe. The pile bunker hissed as it shot forward, penetrating the shattered armor and stabbing through the Gollem.

“One more!”

Gerhilde’s left fist raged forward. A loud bang rang out as the next pile bunker drove forward, smashing up the circuitry inside the Gollem. The Gollem shuddered and trembled, convulsing in a spastic fit as it fell forward. And with that, it powered down.

Wow, she killed it with one blow. Oh, wait, I guess it was two.

“Now, onto the next one!”

Gerhilde turned to face the next forearm Gollem, but it suddenly fired the Gigantes hand on its back toward her like a rocket.


Linne hurriedly tried to dodge the incoming strike, but she wasn’t quite fast enough. And so, the hand managed to grab Gerhilde.

Oh crap! Should I interfere?!

Right as I was thinking that, four dagger-shaped Fragarachs shot out from Rossweisse, aiming at the thumb of the giant hand that held Linne in its grasp. Linne took that opportunity to wriggle free, putting some distance between herself and her foe.

“That was scary!”

“You let your guard down because the first enemy was weak... Always be alert, okay?”

“Okaaay...” Linne mumbled, her voice sounding a little dejected as Sakura told her off. I couldn’t blame her for being rash, though, since she’d so expertly dispatched the first enemy. She probably thought she had a good thing going.

I looked over and saw Allis in the Ortlinde, struggling against the chest Gollem. They’d locked hands and were pushing against each other, vying for supremacy in a contest of physical might.


Ortlinde’s raw power output was higher than even Reginleif. It was the single strongest Frame Gear we had. The boosters on its back roared as Ortlinde gained ground, pushing the enemy backward. However, right when the chest Gollem looked about ready to crumble, a vulcan cannon popped out by the side of its head and aimed directly at Ortlinde’s face.

“I don’t think so!” Allis roared, leaning Ortlinde back slightly and smashing it forward in one heavy motion. She actually had her Frame Gear headbutt the Gollem, knocking it on its back.

Wow... It’s like pro wrestling...

The toppled Gollem quickly rose to its feet once more, bringing its fist smashing toward Ortlinde. Allis blocked the attack with Ortlinde’s left arm, bringing her right fist up in a counter.

Unfortunately, the impact barely did anything at all... It was just as I’d thought, that Gollem had the thickest armor of them all. The headbutt from earlier had simply knocked it off balance, rather than actually damaging it. It had a kind of inverted triangle shape, so it wasn’t too hard to topple.

The Gollem seemed completely sure of its defenses, enough to abandon any attempt at self-preservation. It pushed the offensive against Ortlinde, forcing Allis to shield herself.

“Dang it!”

The drill bit attached to Ortlinde’s leg separated and fit itself onto the Frame Gear’s right arm. That arm then swung forward, getting through one of the gaps the Gollem left during its flurry, the drill’s tip pressed against the Gollem’s rubbery armor. And yet, it still wasn’t enough to penetrate the plating. The most it had done was dig a little dent into the supple surface.

“I’ve got you right where I want you!” Allis shouted. A second later, the drill began to rapidly spin. Bit by bit, the drill bit began boring through the rubbery armor.

“Prisma Rose!”

Crystal vines began digging into the Gollem’s armor, cracking it apart. The vines seemed to snake outward from the Gollem’s insides, fixing it to the floor. After a few brief moments, it powered down.

Apparently, Allis had triggered her prisma rose on the tip of the drill, allowing it to enter the Gollem and destroy it from the inside. As a result, a haphazard mess of vines and thorns protruded from the chest Gollem’s armor. It had been thoroughly annihilated. Unfortunately, that told me the insides were probably completely wrecked... I had a feeling Quun was probably screaming at the monitor...

“I did it, dad!” Allis cheered as she looked out toward her father, who was locked in battle with the Gollem that had previously been part of the Gigantes’s belly. It was a thick Gollem with short, stubby legs that had two arms with Gatling guns attached to its sides.

Ende’s Dragoon easily dodged the bullets it was firing, however. In terms of raw speed, it simply couldn’t match up to what Ende brought to the table.

“Looks like Allis is done, so I’ll wrap things up here too.”

The Dragoon pulled two short crystal swords out from its waist, brandishing them. The high-speed rollers then went into full acceleration mode, sending the Frame Gear rocketing forward. Ende masterfully sliced off one of the Gollem’s arms as it charged by, before promptly doubling back around and catching the other. Then, in one final motion, the Dragoon turned and sped forward once more. It held both blades out as it moved, letting the speed do all the work. The Gollem was bisected before it had time to process what was going on.

“That’s the end of that.”

Just to be sure of his victory, Ende brought both blades slashing through the Gollem’s chest. It fell to the ground, glimmering smoke pluming upward from its destroyed frame.

The fight had ended so quickly that it almost seemed unfair. But in terms of raw matchup...Ende probably would’ve done that to any of the Gollems here.

“Not bad, right, Allis? Your old man’s pretty cool when he tries, isn’t he?!” Ende said as he turned around in an attempt to get his daughter’s attention... Unfortunately, she hadn’t even been watching him. The moment her battle had finished, Allis had left her father behind and went to join the other girls.

“Sh-She left?!”

...Damn. I feel your pain, man... You tried your best, but sometimes that’s just not enough.

Ende sent his Dragoon running after Allis, ready to meet with Yumina and the others.

I glanced over and noticed that Linne had already taken down the second forearm Gollem. At the same time, Yae and Hilde had also dispatched the upper-arm Gollems without taking a scratch.

All that remained were the two lower-leg Gollems that Yumina’s group was facing. It was ten against two at this point, so our victory was all but assured. There was nothing I could imagine our enemies doing to win at this point.

I kind of felt bad, honestly. The fully combined Gigantes was clearly the full-power version of the ancient technology. Once we’d crushed the head, we’d basically divided its strength.

Linne’s crushing attack had secured our victory at the very beginning, so this was basically just cleanup.

Linne really was the MVP here, huh...? Guess that’s one of my daughters for you. I’m pretty impressed.

◇ ◇ ◇

“Goodness me... I expected a racket, but it turned out to be rather interesting, no?”

“That’s one of the endweapons... Where was that thing resting, I wonder?”

Far out on the outskirts of Isenberg, two shadowy figures stood watching the battle from afar. One was a red-haired woman in a domino mask, the other a man in a diving suit. The woman held an orange mace in her hand, while the man carried a blue hatchet.

Tangerine and Indigo were their names. They’d come here after hearing a report from one of their Gollems that had been stationed in the area. Thanks to Indigo’s weapon, Deep Blue, they’d been able to teleport a little bit away from the battlefield with relative ease.

When Touya had run his search spell to keep an eye out for evil-looking Gollems, he’d made a critical error. The Gollem working for the duo was a perfectly ordinary one. It wouldn’t have aroused any suspicion at a glance, so it slipped by his spell.

“Those are the giant Gollems of Brunhild... It’s my first time seeing them, but I must say they’re rather impressive. Scarlet’s right, I think. Our creation won’t be a match for them.”

“Hah! Do you think we’ll be able to achieve our goals with thoughts like that?” Tangerine said, sneering all the while. She was evidently irritated by Indigo’s defeatist tone.

“I’m not worried, Tangerine. Scarlet will create a machine that far outclasses theirs. Just give it time. That’s why we secured the Ark, after all. With Chrom Ranchesse’s legacy on our side, how can we fail? We’ll create a worthy vessel for our new god to descend upon this world.”

“Hmph! You sound awfully confident. Is your piety so strong because you were a man of the cloth once, Indigo? Not that I care, mind you. So long as this world suffers in the process, I’ll be happy,” Tangerine said, shrugging casually as she spoke. She then hoisted her mace, Halloween, up against her shoulder. Though they called themselves the wicked devout, not all of them were especially pious. Some just wanted to watch the world burn.

“Either way, we can’t just leave after seeing this. Let’s bring a few gifts back for Scarlet to take a look at, all right?”

Though the diving helmet obscured it, Indigo flashed a sinister grin.

◇ ◇ ◇

“Cannon Knuckle!”

Allis used Ortlinde to defeat the last remaining Gollem. Defeat was an understatement, though... She blasted it to smithereens. I had a feeling Quun and Doc Babylon were already upset.

“We did it! They’re all down!”

I heard Linne celebrating from within Gerhilde.

All’s well that ends well, I suppose. Was a lot easier than I expected, even... Not that I can talk. I basically did nothing.

I quietly hoped the people watching on the monitor weren’t judging me for my inaction... I didn’t want to be perceived as some deadbeat husband who made his wives do all the work for him.

Ugh... Whatever. I’ll pick up the slack during cleanup duty.

I gathered up all the broken Gigantes pieces, but just as I was about to open my [Storage], the ground began to rumble and bubble upward and the Gollem head and chest pieces were enveloped in blue bubbles... And then, they fell through the ground, leaving watery ripples in their wake as they vanished.


“Touya! Someone on the cliffside, three o’clock!”

Yumina’s voice made me turn Reginleif’s camera. I saw two shadowy figures on the nearby cliff, but they rippled away just as the Gollem pieces had. I could only make them out for a split second, but I distinctly saw a red-haired woman and someone wearing a diving suit. In other words...they were the wicked devout!

“Run search! Wicked devout! Now!”

“Searching... Search complete. No results found.”

Dammit... They’re blocking me off again!

I quickly ran a search for Gigantes parts, but nothing came up either.

Ugh... That can’t be regular teleportation magic. Maybe they can transfer to another space or something...?

“Tch... They let us do the hard work, then made off with the spoils...”

It was the Ark all over again. I should’ve taken more care, especially considering the fact that I knew I was up against foes that had access to warping magic...

I quickly pushed the remaining Gigantes pieces into [Storage], just in case they decided to come back for more. I wondered why they only took the head and chest parts... It was either that they couldn’t take more, or they didn’t need more. There was no way of knowing which was the correct answer, though.

I can’t believe they did that... They’re getting more brazen, that’s for sure.

I sighed quietly, thinking about the situation from Reginleif’s cockpit. My introspection was cut short by my phone, however.

Ugh, Quun... Right, she was watching the whole thing from the monitor. You can’t blame me for this, though! How was I supposed to deal with the situation if I didn’t even know it was gonna happen? Cut me some slack!

The ringtone kept on buzzing away at me, heralding the inevitable doom I’d suffer if I picked up. I gulped nervously before finally accepting the call.


◇ ◇ ◇

“Auuugh! How could you have been so reckless, father?! You’ve broken more than half of them beyond repair! What were you doing out there?!”

“I mean, technically, I wasn’t doing anything at all... It’s not my fault!”

“I don’t wanna hear your excuses!”

Quun was positively fuming. I could understand why, though. The Gollem we’d fought was a priceless remnant from an ancient civilization. It was truly one of a kind...and we’d just about trashed it. The upper-leg portions were shredded, and the forearm Gollems were covered in cracks thanks to Sakura’s symphonic horns. The pieces Ende and Hilde had fought were in better shape, but for the most part, everything was scrap metal. I mean, the stuff Ortlinde had hit with its cannon knuckle was basically dust...

The head Gollem, which would’ve housed the main Q-Crystal that functioned as the Gigantes’s brain, had been stolen. The chest piece, which apparently housed the primary G-Cube power source, had been whisked away by the wicked devout as well.

You didn’t have to be Quun to be mad about the thievery. It was my own carelessness that got us into that mess. Still, I didn’t think it was my fault the Gigantes pieces got so badly roughed up. I didn’t even participate in the fight.

“Agh! Don’t you understand a thing?! That Gigantes was a priceless relic! We could’ve reconstructed it to fight for us using the power of Babylon! But even putting that aside, don’t you have a heart?! Think about the blood, sweat, and tears that must’ve gone into building that thing! Think about the poor ancient engineers! And now it’s junk! It’s glorified scrap!”

“Huh? Oh, uh, yeah. I get it. Sorry... Are you still mad?”

“Of course I’m mad! You’re not even listening!” Quun yelled, stomping her feet. She resembled her mother when she was angry... The sight made me a little nostalgic, even. It caused me to think back to when Leen threw tantrums like that.

I couldn’t help but smile, seeing how alike they were. She truly was her mother’s daughter.

“What’s the smirk for, father?! Is this funny to you?!”

“Oh, no... Sorry...”




My unconscious smirk provoked Quun into hurling a lightning bolt at me.

Whoops... I must’ve really ticked her off.

“Calm down, okay? It’s not like you expected to recover it intact, right?”

“I suppose you’re right, but still...”

Elze, who hadn’t participated, came over to save my butt.

Finally... She’s been lecturing me for like thirty minutes straight, you know? Couldn’t you have saved me a little sooner?

“Well, it’s fine. I’m sure we can still recover enough of the technology from the broken parts. Plus, it’s better to lose the technology than have Gandhilis come under threat...”

“Thanks for understanding...”

King Gandhilis offered me some words of consolation. I wondered if Quun had intentionally reprimanded me so harshly so I wouldn’t get in any political trouble.

“Augh! What a waste! This is a tragedy! It’s awful!”

No, that’s probably not why.

“At any rate, shall we get to dismantling the Gigantes here in Agartha? My lab is most interested in analyzing it.”

“Of course. I’d be happy to cooperate with you.”

Doc Babylon quickly chimed in after I brought out the remaining Gigantes pieces. I had a feeling she’d already cast [Analyze] and gotten an understanding of it, though.

“By the way, I’m curious. What will we do with Agartha itself?”

“Hmm... It falls within the confines of my nation, yet this place existed before Gandhilis was even conceived of... Under ordinary circumstances, we’d recognize the autonomy of the native inhabitants, but it would seem all of them are Gollems...”

Perlulushka and the other Gollems didn’t have designated contractors, since the people they had originally contracted with and served were long dead, and none of their descendants remained to take on the sub-master role in their programming. They were the only remnants of a long-dead civilization, and they had nobody to serve any longer. The typical protocol would have been to just reset them and have them assigned to new masters, but...

“Don’t be absurd! These are ancient legacy Gollems with memories of the past several thousand years! You can’t just reset them! The information they carry, as well as the things they’ve seen, are far too valuable!”

Elluka was vehemently against the idea of resetting them. There were a handful of Gollems that retained their memories through contracting. Albus, the white crown, and Blau, the blue crown, were among those that could still remember the distant past. But in general, it was considered highly abnormal for humanoid model Gollems to maintain their memories. They were far more fragile than some of the more heavy-duty Gollems, and they tended to be the kinds of Gollem that were more regularly transferred from master to master.

Of course, whenever a Gollem was transferred to someone who wasn’t blood-related to their previous master, they had to be fully reset in order to make the new contract. That was why there was so little living memory of the ancient civilizations among them.

Humanoid Gollems were built to live with people, which was precisely why Perlulushka and her kin were so valuable. They had intact memories of the culture, customs, and daily lives of the people who lived all those years ago. It remained to be seen if the more generic Gollems had those memories, but at the very least, Perlulushka did, so erasing those memories in the form of a factory reset would be tantamount to destroying precious historical records. That was why we couldn’t have her contract with a new master. Frankly, it would have been historically and morally wrong to have her do it.

Perlulushka was a Gollem, but she had a will of her own. I personally felt that leaving her to manage the underground facility was for the best. And so, I brought the idea up with King Gandhilis. He agreed and began drafting up a plan to have Agartha be a checkpoint midway through the tunnel I’d built. Perlulushka lived to serve humanity, and as such, she had no objections to the proposal either.

Oh yeah, I was in the middle of digging that tunnel, wasn’t I...? Finishing it off is gonna be a real pain in the ass.

“What, why us? We didn’t sign up for that!”

“You didn’t fight, Elze. Why not help now?”

“I can’t use Earth magic, remember? If it’s digging you want, just make Ende do it. That’d be way faster.”

“Huh?! What do I have to do with this?!” Ende asked, jumping up in a panic after Elze volunteered him.

Quun was too busy looking over the Gigantes pieces to help, while Leen was tired from the battle. Thus, I could only count on Ende.

“Man, gimme a break! You guys have been using me like a workhorse lately!” Ende grumbled. However, I didn’t understand what he was complaining about. If he didn’t want to be a workhorse, why did he let us treat him like one?

“C’mon, let’s go! I’ll flatten things out, then you can do the digging.”

I buffed myself with [Power Rise] and grabbed Ende by the scruff of the neck, carting him away. I just wanted to get this over with.

“Ah! T-Touya?! A-Allis! Help me!”

“Good luck, dad! Do it for me!”

“A-Aaaugh! O-Okay! Your dad’s gonna give it his best!”

Whew. Good thing Allis has him whipped.

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