716 – The Broken Avatar (side: Volk)
『Ku, kuku… Losing to a mere mortal warrior… To think I’ve been seen through.』
Ares’ giant body wobbles violently and falls to one knee.
『My sword… Can you return it to me?』
I hold it out to Ares without hesitation.
『Is that alright…?』
Atlach asks me worriedly. I nod.
“It seems he’s planning to injure himself. There’s no falsehood in his words.”
『…You have my gratitude. I have sullied the final years of my life, but I will at least die in a manner befitting… Guu! Uu, uguoooooooh!』
Ares clutches his crushed helmet, yelling in agony.
His armour expands. His body under it is swelling up.
『My self, my sense of self, it’s disappearing once more… I am, I am…! Oh, oooooh!』
『Volk, his behaviour is strange!』
Atlach quickly snatches away [Divine Judge Ascalon] from my hands with threads extending from her hands. She then swings her arm, and with it, Ascalon is swung down towards Ares’ crushed helmet.
However, reddish-black tentacles push out of his body as though having eaten through his armour. The tentacles bat away [Divine Judge Ascalon].
“Oh, oooh, OOOOOOOOOO!”
Ares’ body expands further and begins to destroy the cathedral.
『It’s coming down!』
Atlach shouts. She extends a thread to me and magiatite, and then swings us out of the cathedral at great speed. It looked like I’m about to crash straight into the ground, but I roll to break my fall, and then quickly get to my feet.
The cathedral crumbles down to nothing, being swallowed up by Ares’ gigantic body.
“Just what is this bizarre form…”
Ares has transformed into something bizarre. There’s already nothing left of his original form.
His new form is a gigantic, blue, four-legged beast. Ghastly reddish-black tentacles extend out all over his body. Sinister curved horns adorn his head, and his face is an ominous blend of a man and a lion’s.
『O, O, OO…! I am the absolute lifeform…! The king of this world, ruling over all…!』
Ares’ repulsive [Telepathy] resounds.
『He’s trapped in delusion… and completely lost his senses!』
“…No, most likely, it’s because he had returned to his senses that his individuality was taken away.”
Back when Ares had originally appeared in the Easternmost Strange Land, he didn’t seem to have any sense of self at all. Whether it was because he had spent a long time as a [Spirit Servant], or because he stepped foot in his hometown again, it seemed like he was regaining his sense of self, yet he probably didn’t fully regain it in the end.
[Spirit Servant] is a skill that lets the target be set to work however the user desires. Ares’ delusion is likely wrought by God’s Voice. His sense of self that God’s Voice left behind wasn’t originally an obstruction to their goals, but would end up becoming one if Ares came to his senses, and thus was taken from him.
『What now, Volk? Now that things are like this…』
Atlach asks me.
Originally, we chose to pursue Ares out of the four because we decided that we might be able to put up a fight against a humanoid enemy. That’s no longer the case now that he’s transformed into such a large monster.
Howgrey could put up a fight against even Irushia by using the distortions in the world to his advantage, but I can’t pull off anything similar. And, more than anything, my body is already reaching its limit.
“Having come this far, we cannot simply run…!”
Ares’ piercing roar echoes throughout the city. He slams his foreleg hard into the ground.
I’m sent flying upwards as a great shock travels through me. All I can tell is that my field of vision has turned upside down.
A lump of atlach’s thread appears to cushion my landing.
“Thanks, that was a great help…”
She made a ball of thread in an instant, coming to my aid as I was sent tumbling away defencelessly.
『…More importantly, look.』
She points with a claw.
Looking in the direction she points, I see an enormous cliff has arisen in a straight line, cutting through Harenae. It continues on into the desert with nary an end in sight. All around the city, the citizens are screaming and crying out in despair.
It looks like Ares has created a fissure in the earth by hitting the ground with his claws. That gigantic cliff I saw in Harenae earlier before I arrived… I knew that it was caused by Ares, but to think that he could create such a horrible spectacle so easily.
“Such power… How can we stop him…”
Ares bellows another roar and raises both his forelimbs. It looks like he’s planning on repeating his attack again.
I bite my lip. I search my mind for something that can work, but nothing comes.
Right as he’s about to pound them down, Ares’ two raised forelimbs are struck by a sudden flash.
Ares’ skin is easily pierced, and the cleaved tentacles are sent spiralling away through the air.
It seems like a sudden slash attack cutting through the air has impacted him.
I know that move. It’s Irushia’s [Dimension Claw] skill.
“Don’t tell me…!”
Turning around, I see a reddish-black, giant dragon approaching at high speed from the distant sky.
There’s no doubt that it’s Irushia, even with his form having wildly changed. That skill is his, and there’s no way any other dragon would so conveniently appear at this time.
Irushia sends a barrage of [Dimension Claws] as he approaches, not giving Ares a chance to counterattack at all. Ares can only devote everything to defence with his forelegs and tentacles.
Irushia grabs onto him upon getting close, and then forcefully drags him across the ground, leaving furrows in their wake as he pulls Ares out of Harenae.