Chapter 259 – Death Mage 259 – A large airborne battle
As the sky in the east was just beginning to brighten, two people were having a discussion in the darkness.
“To think that he would not dispose of Ralmeya. Is it possible that someone as powerful as him did not notice that his Status was being viewed? Or did he spare him on purpose, in order to crush our plans and defang the duke? The gods, what are the gods saying?!”
“Calm down. Ralmeya was losing his sanity in the midst of writing; most of his handwriting is almost illegible. Its contents are incoherent and there are parts of it that don’t make sense. I am using that to lead the duke and the others in the wrong direction. They are still not aware of the important things, such as the fact that he is a Guider. I have them dancing in my palm, preoccupied with the superficial things such as his Attribute Values.”
“That is only one stroke of luck among our many misfortunes. If the ignorant who are unable to correctly obey the voices of the gods were to learn that he is a Guider, they would be taken in by him… perhaps they would even throw away all of their efforts thus far in order to come under his servitude, eager for a taste of the sweet honey he offers. That would go against the will of our gods.”
Guiders had a great influence on society. At the very least, that was what people believed in the current era.
The truth was that the scope of their influence varied based on what ideologies they held; if their ideologies were of a nature that others could not understand, their followers would not grow beyond small groups of several dozens or perhaps a hundred people.
But if their ideologies were the kind that attracted people and could be understood by them, their influence could reach beyond the borders of countries or continents.
So, which category would Vandalieu fall into? The two men gathered here did not know what kinds of ideologies were associated with Vandalieu’s guidance, but they were certain that he would fall into the latter. The gods would not be taking direct action if he didn’t.
It was unclear as to what decisions Duke Alcrem and his subordinates would make, but if they came to the conclusion that Vandalieu’s guidance fell into the latter category, just as these two had, it was highly likely that they would do an about-face and kneel before him… just as they had done when they took notice of the ‘Blue-flamed Sword’ Heinz and joined Alda’s peaceful faction.
“In the end, it is still a small hope among our troubles. We have not turned the situation in our favor. But will we even be able to depend on the Five Knights and the Alcrem house’s fighting forces? If we simply need shields, I am certain that it would be better to give the honor of participating in this sacred mission to children with no relatives. Even if the three other than Ralmeya were to attack him… would it still not be better for us to make our move from the beginning?”
“That is a view that lacks consideration. It is true that even if all of the Five Knights fought together, they would be unable to defeat Vandalieu. But could you really say that we would be able to?”
“That is… That is true, but then, what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to spread out and flee in order to survive like the rest of the potential heroes, or hold our breath and hide?!”
“I never said that. The gods never instructed us to secure a certain victory. They have commanded us to prepare against the dark times that are approaching, and gather as much strength as possible, haven’t they?”
“… So, the Five Knights are necessary as resources that will increase our chances of victory, no matter how miniscule a difference they make?”
“Precisely. The gods do not wish for us to gamble everything on a one-in-a-hundred chance. They wish for us to make every possible effort and use every single person we can in order to increase that one in a hundred to two, ten in a hundred to twenty.”
“I understand… If that is the will of the gods, I will obey it. But I cannot do any more of this peeling skins off people’s faces to imitate the ‘Face-tearing Demon.’ I have a feeling that Vandalieu’s underlings have begun to make their move. To gather more strength, we will need other methods.”
“Indeed, if they catch your tail, we will have more to worry about than the Five Knights… Very well. No more peeling faces. We have exposed enough sins and evils among Alcrem’s people. Our gods’ power will have risen to a peak as well. Meanwhile, it is clear from his battle with Fitun that Vandalieu is unable to exert his full power. When his meeting with the duke comes, let us strike with all of the fruits of our efforts over the past hundred thousand years.”
In the world of Lambda, Krakens were monsters that were as well-known as Dragons. However, while Dragons were dreaded, Krakens were beings that instilled despair in addition to fear.
This was not because Krakens had a more ominous appearance than Dragons, nor because of their repulsive biology. It was because most encounters with Krakens were indeed events of despair.
Most encounters with Kraken took place on the ocean, where there was nowhere to escape. Even if one couldn’t defeat a Dragon, it might be possible to run away from it. But if one was unable to repel a Kraken, their ship would sink and they would find themselves becoming food for the fish without having any opportunity to escape.
Because of this, there were few reported sightings of Krakens, and their biology remained full of mysteries. Still, based on the little known information that was available, Krakens were considered to be squid or octopuses that had become monsters, and they had a base Rank of 10. The majority of them had ten legs, and their bodies were between fifty and a hundred meters in length. In many cases, their appearance was exactly the same as squid or octopuses, just much larger.
Given their size, they did not appear in shallow waters even in Devil’s Seas – seas that had become Devils’ Nests. They appeared in waters that were at least several hundred meters deep.
They were considered to be ferocious in nature; they constantly looked up at the water’s surface from the depths of the ocean, and once they spotted the silhouettes of ships, they would surface and attack.
Given their enormous bodies and unpleasant appearances, one might assume that they were not suited to being eaten as food, but their rarity made them a delicacy. There was also a constant demand for their ink, as it was a top-quality alchemy ingredient.
There were also many rumors of weaker variants, mutants, and stronger variants of Krakens, and some of these rumors had been confirmed to be true.
Little Krakens were young Kraken, with a body length of twenty to thirty meters.
There were mutants such as Chameleon Krakens with transparent bodies that lurked in shallow waters and claimed large numbers of ships as victims, and Lake Krakens that had adapted to living in enormous lakes.
Superior variants included Island Krakens that measured a hundred meters in length, and Ohm Krakens that possessed a spiral shell that was harder than Adamantite.
“But I’ve never heard of any Krakens that can fly,” said Vandalieu.
“Neither have I. It’s not unusual for ordinary octopus or squid monsters to be able to float in the air, but… it’s my first time hearing of a Kraken that can,” said Darcia.
The two of them were staring at a number of flying Krakens from the deck of the flying ghost ship Cuatro.
Producing a propulsive force by expelling seawater from a funnel-shaped organ, the Krakens – which were several dozen to a hundred meters in length – were able to leap a kilometer above the ocean’s surface. It was a shocking sight indeed.
These creatures were larger than a blue whale, the largest mammal on Earth, and there was something spectacular about seeing them leap into the air and fall back into the water, one after another. It was possible that Krakens’ image of being fearsome, ghastly creatures would change after this.
“… Or at least, it would be quite the sight if they weren’t leaping out of the water to try and bring Cuatro down,” said Vandalieu.
He and his companions were experiencing chills up their spines rather than appreciating this spectacle of nature, as it was occurring due to the Krakens’ desire to devour Cuatro and everyone on board.
“For now, there is no problem because Cuatro is above the maximum height those Krakens can reach… We have named them Flying Krakens for now,” said the ‘Divine Spear of Ice’ Mikhail. “We first encountered them yesterday at dawn, when we were beginning our descent below the water’s surface. We hastily repelled them, but… the Krakens flew from the water one after another to chase us down, so we had no choice but to escape into the sky.”
“Juuh. When we fought them, their strength felt to be around Rank 10 or 11. Other than the fact that they can fly, they are only a little stronger overall than ordinary Krakens,” said Bone Man.
“If it were just a few of them, we’d have been able to take them down, but with dozens of them around, Cuatro was more at risk of being attacked than we were, so we had to retreat yesterday,” said the ‘Sword King’ Borkus. “By the way, we put the corpses of the ones we killed in the Item Box you gave us. We ate a little, and I feel like they were even more delicious than ordinary Krakens.”
“So many Rank 10 and 11 monsters… I’ve heard that there are a lot of Krakens in the sea adjacent to the inside of the Boundary Mountain Range, too, but this is on another level,” said Privel, looking like she was feeling a little faint at the sight of the Krakens.
A single Kraken was enough to endanger a large fleet of ships; these were superior variants of Krakens, and there were dozens of them.
“It seems that they expel seawater as a source of propulsive force to launch themselves, then glide by spreading membranes between gaps in their tentacles and the flat parts of their bodies. They’re using a considerable amount of Mana, too, but… it doesn’t seem like they can do what Flying Sharks and Jeena can do,” said Vandalieu.
He was comparing the Krakens to Flying Sharks – Rank 3 shark monsters that had once inhabited the waterways of Talosheim, and were capable of flying freely through the air using wind-attribute Mana – and Jeena.
“Well, yeah. Flying Sharks are about three meters long, but Krakens are bigger than ships. Something that big flying freely through the air would run out of Mana really quickly,” said the hero Zombie Zandia, who was the Second Princess of Talosheim and had debuted as a magical girl at the same time as Darcia and Zadiris.
“And Your-Majesty-kun, let’s stop comparing me to Krakens,” said the ‘Saint of Healing’ Jeena.
“Zandia, Jeena, you’re here. Do you not need to be at the concerts on the Dark Continent and in the Demon Empire of Vidal?” asked Vandalieu.
“Kanako said people will get sick of the concerts if we’re doing them constantly, so we’re on break for a while,” said Zandia.
“And we’re providing moral support and backup in battle here. There’s a lot of frontline fighters, but not a lot of ranged support,” said Jeena.
“The little princess there might be ranged support, but you’re clearly a frontline fighter…” said one of the Four Dead Sea Captains who steered the ship. “No, I didn’t say anything!” he said hastily as Jeena glared at him, shuddering and fleeing with his bones rattling audibly.
Jeena was a master of life-attribute magic and an exceptional healer, but at the same time, she was a skillful frontline fighter. Large even for a Titan woman, her body had both feminine curves and sturdy muscle.
“Leaving that aside, what do you think about those Krakens? Do you think they’re moving under someone’s will, or is it just a coincidence that we’ve encountered them?” asked Vandalieu.
He suspected that perhaps someone had sent this group of flying Krakens here to stop Cuatro from traveling any further.
But Zandia shook her head. “My guess is that it’s a coincidence. The Flying Krakens’ movements are too simple for them to be commanded by a servant of an evil god to stop us going near the place in Peria’s Divine Message.”
“Simple?” Vandalieu repeated.
“They should have realized by now that they can’t reach Cuatro at this altitude, but they’re still doing their best to leap up and end up falling back into the sea, over and over. I think that if they were being controlled by something, they’d have something more of a strategy,” Zandia said, elaborating.
“I see,” Vandalieu said, nodding.
He looked down at the sea again over the edge of the ship to see that the Flying Kraken jumping convention had finished. There were several Flying Krakens on the water’s surface, looking up at the ship, but it was quiet now.
“Huge monsters like Krakens need Mana just to stay alive. Maybe they’ve used their jumping ability too much,” said Zandia.
Creatures in this world, especially monsters, consumed Mana to maintain the biological functions that kept them alive. In the case of Krakens, it was thought that they used Mana for things like preventing their organs from being crushed by the weight of their own enormous bodies.
And since the Flying Krakens had spent Mana to leap into the air, several of them were now floating and resting on the water’s surface.
“You’re right in saying that their behavior is strange if they are trying to obstruct us,” said Vandalieu.
If the Flying Krakens were guards that some being had positioned here to obstruct Vandalieu and his companions, they would have performed a surprise attack when Cuatro attempted to sink into the water. Or at the very least, they wouldn’t have continued their meaningless jumping even after learning that Cuatro was above the maximum altitude they could reach.
“But we’ve learned why nobody has ever reached the continent we’re heading to. If people get attacked by a group of Krakens that leap into the air, they’d panic and flee or become fish food,” said Privel.
“I guess so. That’s a given for normal ships, but even flying ships made with alchemy would be helpless against this many,” said Darcia.
It was possible to create flying ships with the finest alchemy ingredients in the world. Of course, such ships varied greatly in size, flight speed and maximum altitude. However, nations as large as the Amid Empire and the Orbaume Kingdom were likely to be able to build flying ships about the size of a yacht.
Adventuring in unknown waters would proceed very smoothly if one used a flying ship that could fly at a maximum altitude of several hundred meters and with the same speed and propulsion of an ordinary yacht on water.
Privel and Darcia could imagine that one of the reasons Cuatro’s destination remained unmapped in human societies was these Flying Krakens.
“Would it be possible for us to receive assistance to defeat these Flying Krakens? They have been after us since yesterday, so it is difficult to imagine that they will give up,” said Mikhail, getting to the issue at hand.
The crew on Cuatro had wanted to show Vandalieu and the others the Flying Krakens because they were unusual, but also because they were hoping for some help with fighting them.
Borkus, Bone Man and Mikhail were capable of defeating Flying Krakens. However, defeating dozens of them while defending Cuatro was difficult even for them.
“Alright. You can’t just drag these Krakens with you all the way to the place in the Divine Message, I suppose,” said Vandalieu.
After leaping into the air, the Flying Krakens used mana to glide and slow themselves down as they landed back in the sea. However, they ranged from several dozen to a hundred meters in length, so they were unavoidably conspicuous.
They didn’t know what was at the place in Peria’s Divine Message, but there was no doubt that their presence would be noticed due to the Krakens.
“Well then, we’ll do our best too,” said Darcia.
“Me too! As a member of a species who also has tentacles, I can’t lose to them… Well, not that I think I’ll be of much help,” said Privel, not sounding very confident.
“Here, Privel, take this. Ah, and this is for you, Jeena,” said Vandalieu, taking some items from his ‘Shadow.’
He handed a decorated staff to Privel and a shield to Jeena.
“Are these the Artifacts you made recently, Your-Majesty-kun?!” Jeena exclaimed. “The ones with the power of the gods in them…”
“Huh? Then this is Merrebeveil-sama’s?!” said Privel, looking at the item in her hands.
“No, a familiar spirit of Lioen resides in your staff, Privel. Jeena’s, yours is from Talos,” said Vandalieu.
Vandalieu had recently been making Artifact transformation equipment, containing the familiar spirits of gods of Vida’s faction. These were two of them, but the one given to Privel did not contain a familiar spirit of the Evil God of Slime and Tentacles Merrebeveil, parent to the Scylla race.
“Yay! Now I’m a magical girl too!” Jeena said happily.
“Your body’s not much of a young girl’s, though…” said Borkus.
Jeena promptly grabbed him with an iron-claw grip.
“Ouch, ouch, ouch!” Borkus yelped. “Hey, I’ve got nothing but bones on the right side of my body, you know!”
Privel looked a little confused. “Umm, why Lioen? It’s not like I worship Lioen in particular.
“At first, I intended to make yours with a familiar spirit of Merrebeveil, but when I did, the result was a piece of equipment that wasn’t really suited to someone who already has tentacles,” said Vandalieu, giving a brief explanation.
“I see. Well then, maybe I’ll give Lioen a prayer next time,” said Privel.
“Unlike divine protections, Artifacts with the power of gods can be used even without worshipping those gods, but it’s still important to express gratitude and respect towards them,” said Zandia. “Well then, we should finish our preparations before the Flying Krakens jump up at us again… Ah, it seems they’ve already started.”
The sea’s surface had been quiet for a while, but just as Vandalieu and his companions finished preparing for battle, Flying Krakens appeared from its surface once more.
This time, the large ones were leaping from the water with small ones riding them, and once their momentum had been spent, the small ones expelled seawater from their own bodies to leap up even further – like multi-stage rockets.
“It seems that they’ve come back with a new strategy. Maybe they heard Zandia talking?” said Jeena.
“Huh?! Don’t blame this on me!” Zandia said indignantly.
“Well, they do seem to be monsters with the social characteristics of staying in groups. And on Earth, octopuses are considered to be animals with a high capability for learning,” said Vandalieu… despite the fact that the Krakens of this world resembled squids more than octopuses.
“We don’t have the time to be talking about things like that!” shouted Mikhail.
His spear deflected a tentacle of one of the Krakens that had managed to reach Cuatro’s altitude as a result of the multi-stage-rocket-style launching.
“Since Cuatro’s a ship, it’s structurally vulnerable to attacks from below! Do something!” one of the Undead crewmen shouted, panicking.
“Calm down! If they come over here, we can repel them with these cannons on the deck!” one of the Four Dead Sea Captains shouted, aiming a cannon at one of the Flying Krakens. “Fire!”
A cannonball erupted forth with a thundering noise. Its aim was true, and it flew towards the Flying Kraken… and bounced off its surface with a boing, leaving behind nothing that could be called damage despite the direct impact.
“Impossible! It’s unharmed?!” the captain who had fired the cannon shouted.
“That can’t be! It has the ‘Physical Resistance’ Skill?!” shouted another.
“They probably do. In any case… fire,” said Vandalieu, producing an eyeball of the Demon King on his palm and activating the Demon King’s luminescent organs, releasing a beam of light.
The beam, amplified from converging through the eyeball’s lens, struck the torso of a smaller Flying Kraken. It penetrated straight through… but the Kraken flew closer to Cuatro and attacked with a tentacle.
“Kid! With bodies that big, they aren’t going to budge just by having a finger-sized hole opened up in them!” shouted Borkus, immediately reacting to the threat by slashing the tentacle off.
Though the Kraken was a smaller one, it was still several dozen meters long. A small hole created in its body would likely have little effect unless it was directly in the heart or brain.
“So it seems. We’ve learned that they don’t have the ‘Magic Resistance’ Skill, but… what is Cuatro’s maximum altitude?” asked Vandalieu.
“We can go about another two hundred meters higher!” one of the Four Dead Sea Captains replied.
“Then it might be pointless to go up any higher. Well then, I’ll start off by prioritizing providing support,” said Vandalieu.
He produced a tentacle of the Demon King, transformed its tip into an oviduct, and planted eggs on the backs of everyone except for Bone Man and Jeena, who were already able to fly.
“W-what?! Huh?!” Zandia shouted in surprise.
The eggs grew and hatched at explosive speeds after they were laid, morphing into bat-like Demon King Familiars.
“These are flight-assistance-type Demon King Familiars, made with these fragments: sub-brains, bones, membranes, eyeballs, blood, and tentacles,” one of them explained in Vandalieu’s voice.
“With these, you can fly while you fight,” said another.
Everyone nodded in understanding.
“Wait, did you just lay eggs?” asked Borkus.
“Your-Majesty-kun, could it be that you’ve become ‘Your-Majesty-chan?’” said Jeena.
“… I’m still Your-Majesty-kun. I absorbed a fragment called the Demon King’s oviduct yesterday… I’ll explain later, so please focus on dealing with the Flying Krakens for now,” said Vandalieu.
“I guess we should! Let’s go! ‘Familiar Spirit Demonfall!’” shouted Borkus, activating ‘Familiar Spirit Demonfall’ and leaping down off Cuatro’s deck to attack the Flying Kraken with the Demon King Familiar on his back.
“My Lord! Now that I have become a Blade Kaiser, please witness my blade! JYUOOOH!” roared Bone Man.
His bones separated and scattered, flying down towards his foe. The Kraken’s ink struck his bones directly, but it seemed to have no effect.
“Is Kraken ink squid ink or octopus ink?” Vandalieu wondered.
“I’ve never thought about it, but is that an important question?” asked Privel.
“If it is squid ink, it can be used as an ingredient in food,” Vandalieu replied.
“That’s quite important, then. Let’s check later. Now then, transform!” said Darcia, activating her transformation.
Jeena and Privel followed suit, transforming for the first time.
“Transform!” shouted Jeena.
Liquid metal scattered from her shield and formed a skin-tight suit on her, making her look more like a pro wrestler than a magical girl.
“Wow, I can feel my body tightening up!” she said.
“Transform! I had to pretend to be a normal Scylla back in the city, but I’m going all-out here!” said Privel.
Her transformation added a swimsuit, dress-like decorations and long gloves to her upper body. On her lower body, the liquid metal formed to form lines attached to her tentacles.
There were sun motifs decorating Jeena’s suit, while Privel’s had numerous crystal decorations.
“Well then, here I go!” said Privel, flying off with the Demon King Familiar on her back.
“Your-Majesty-kun, take care of my lower body!” said Jeena, her upper body separating from her lower body and flying into the air.
The sight of the two of them charging at the Kraken was… enough to make even Vandalieu, the creator of their equipment, start having questions about magical girls.
“For now, let’s take care of the small Flying Krakens that are in the air right now. The large ones can’t fly up to this height, so I don’t mind leaving them until later. ‘Dead Space Slice,’” said Vandalieu.
He cast a ‘God Spirit Magic’ spell with space-attribute Ghosts, severing the tentacle of a large Flying Kraken that had been attacking Mikhail.
“I’m still not used to using the space attribute. It uses up a lot of Mana. Still… I think we’ll have enough ingredients for fried squid and takoyaki for the next thousand years,” Vandalieu murmured.
Against a group of Rank 10 and 11 monsters, Borkus and the others seemed to have a little trouble fighting them, but… just a little.
The fact that they could fly was astounding, but their movements were simple – large swings with their tentacles using no advanced combat techniques, and spitting ink that Vandalieu and his companions had already seen. They were no match for Borkus and the others now that they were able to fly.
Once over half of the Flying Krakens were defeated, the rest of them retreated away from Cuatro, seeming to have given up.
Name: Bone Man
Race: Skeleton Blade Kaiser
Monstrous Strength: Level 3 (LEVEL UP!)
Augmented Attribute Values: Loyalty: Level 1 (Awakened from Strengthened Attribute Values!)
Spirit Form: Level 10
Strengthened Attribute Values: Mounted: Level 7
Self-Enhancement: Creator: Level 8 (LEVEL UP!)
Self-Enhancement: Guidance: Level 7 (LEVEL UP!)
Physical Resistance: Level 3 (LEVEL UP!)
Murder Healing: Level 4 (LEVEL UP!)
Strengthened Attribute Values: Ruling: Level 4 (LEVEL UP!)
Enhanced Body Part: Bones: Level 6 (LEVEL UP!)
Hollow Bone Swordsmanship: Level 5 (LEVEL UP!)
Shield Technique: Level 10
Archery: Level 8
Silent Steps: Level 3
Coordination: Level 10 (LEVEL UP!)
Commanding: Level 5
Armor Technique: Level 10 (LEVEL UP!)
Mount: Level 7
Long-distance Control: Level 10
Aura of Fear: Level 6 (LEVEL UP!)
Parallel Thought Processing: Level 6 (LEVEL UP!)
Surpass Limits: Level 7 (LEVEL UP!)
Familiar Spirit Demonfall: Level 2 (NEW!)
Xerx’s Divine Protection
Vandalieu’s Divine Protection
Bone Man’s Rank has increased, causing him to become a ‘Kaiser’ and granting his wish of not being an ‘Emperor.’ The word ‘kaiser’ also means ‘emperor,’ but Bone Man is not aware of this, so he is satisfied with this outcome.
Vandalieu had never cared about Bone Man’s race title containing the word ‘emperor,’ so he doesn’t care as long as Bone Man is happy.