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Chapter 327 - The Night that Swallowed the Sun (3)

    Chapter 327 - The Night that Swallowed the Sun (3)

    Compared to Jerem's small and weak body floating in the sky, the black magic emanating from him was like a tidal wave.

    Red lights shone out a few times from the center of that darkness, which was emitting the waves. The magicians who communicated with mana of the material world had a higher influence on the surrounding environment as their level increased, but warlocks were an exception in a bad way.

    It was like dropping poison into a clear pond.

    This magic power, which drew from two dimensions, contaminated this world's mana and hindered the flow of normal magic power. Life forms would lose their shape after continuous exposure to this black magic, and the ecosystem would collapse after a short period of time.

    Considering the power of the world tree, it wasn't a big problem for the moment. However, with the amount of magic power Jerem had, it was just a matter of time. Theodore raised both of his eyebrows and spread his palms open before him. "Hap!"

    His magic power emerged like a storm.

    Kurururung.

    The black magic power was suddenly pushed back, and the fog of darkness shot up instead of falling to the ground. It was proof that for a very short period of time, Theodore's magic power had exceeded the enemy's.

    The dark red light around Jerem became thicker as he saw it. Theodore had defeated Jerem's subordinates in a short amount of time and operated a magic power that went beyond the 8th circle. Theodore was also a magician with a grimoire as his base, so Jerem had to be careful.

    'What? He feels much stronger than before?' Theodore had time to talk to his advisers, thanks to Jerem's caution. Theodore had only spent a short amount of time dealing with the Four Horsemen. However, in the time he had been gone, Jerem had become more powerful in a manner that Theodore couldn't understand.

    Nonetheless, it wasn't a problem for Gluttony.

    -That is Soul Partition! Did he recover the pieces that he planted in the Four Horsemen? The pressure must be quite serious in his injured state, but he must be confident about ending this quickly.

    Theodore couldn't understand all of what Gluttony said, but the reason behind Jerem's increase in strength was clear.

    'Is it because I knocked out the Four Horsemen? But the connection between the necromancer and undead is a one-way path... Isn't it theoretically impossible to reclaim the magic power that he gave to the undead?'

    -That's right. The magic power can't be taken back.

    However, the thing that Jerem recovered wasn't his magic power.

    -The cost of maintaining the highest level undead is high. In order for them to have been active for thousands of years after their master died, magic power the level of a dragon heart would have been needed. Jerem probably broke off parts of his soul and planted them in the Four Horsemen.

    '...Indeed, he was a transcendent in that age.'

    The current Jerem was sealed in a grimoire. He was weathered by the thousands of years, as well as injured by Mitra. As such, his power was limited compared to what he had in the past. Despite Jerem being in a very weak state, it was understandable that his level had jumped so much after regaining some of his past power.

    Theodore grew cautious as he realized the sudden change in circumstances. Meanwhile, Gluttony spoke in the same tone as normal, -But he isn't able to utilize all his abilities. He can't resurrect the Four Horsemen, and the range of spells has only increased somewhat.

    'In other words, he hasn't reached the 9th circle?'

    -That's right. The wound that your kid dealt to his soul isn't easy to recover from. If that was possible, Jerem would've torn out the souls in the Four Horsemen sooner in order to recover.

    Theodore laughed at the words and agreed, "I got it."

    He faced the red light of Jerem in the distant sky and became conscious of the foreign object in his hand. It was a foul that Theodore decided to use in this fight. The item's size had been reduced to make it easy to carry, and it could be used as a portable magic power stone. This was a treasure he had gotten by finding Paracelsus' laboratory in the past and unraveling an unexpected connection.

    It was the heart that the sand dragon, Desertio, left behind! The item which contained the magic power of nine circles was inside Theodore's robe.

    Of course, it was impossible for Theodore to do anything with it other than use it as a supply of magic power. Resistance would occur if another species consumed it without refining it first, and the power of the dragon heart would destroy the person's body.

    Only Theodore, who had the absurd 'Forced Harmonization', was able to utilize the ridiculous magic power.

    "Veronica, how long can you keep that state?"

    "30 minutes on the premise that I'm not injured. But if we keep fighting, it will be limited to 15 minutes."

    "15 minutes... It is a bit close."

    Theodore conveyed instructions to Veronica and Titania. Veronica was in a dragon state, while Titania had two more shots left. If Titania, Veronica, and Theodore were unable to stop Jerem even with the dragon heart, then it would be impossible.

    "Okay, I'm beginning." Theodore moved with a sense of responsibility that had become heavier.

    Memorize.

    All Slots Open.

    Octuple.

    The efficiency of his magic power consumption was good. The moment Theodore held the dragon heart in his hand, his magic power became close to limitless. There was a limit to the amount that could be drawn out at one time. However, once he poured out all his magic power, it would return to being full in an instant.

    The magic power around Theodore's body took the form of blue lightning and turned into the shape of a giant spear. It was literally a divine lightning spear. The spear had a full length of 20 meters, and thunder echoed around it, attracting attention. Before Jerem could respond-

    「Убирайся-к-чёрту (Go aw-ay)!」 The sound of a human voice beyond the limit exploded outward.

    "...What?"

    The fog cleared. It was due to the Dragon Words, one of the strongest powers in this material world. The fog of black magic covering the sky was lifted with the strong but simple words. Simultaneously, the huge lightning spear thrust forward.

    Kwarururung!

    However, it didn't reach its destination. A wall of darkness had appeared and blocked the lightning spear. It was a black magic spell that rendered the power of all physical attacks to zero. However, it was difficult for Jerem to cope with the power of Theodore's attacks, and a small crack appeared in the wall. Before the gap could be filled up, another storm struck.

    Theodore's tactic of penetrating the damaged defenses and hitting Jerem was repeated in a second attack!

    "―Hah, not even funny." Jerem's eyes glared angrily as he faced the series of attacks.

    Peng!

    Jerem broke the arrow from Hurricane Bow like he had been waiting for it. After all, he had a lot of defenses, not just the wall of darkness. Then the wind scattered, sucked away like it was in a vacuum.

    Magicians were readers. They were the type of people who read the opponent, and their plan and weakness, then they would pierce through the gap to win. Yet a magician was reusing the same tactic as if they were unaware of this fact...? That wasn't possible unless they were making fun of Jerem. Therefore, Jerem's response was one beat late.

    Peeeeeong!

    Veronica's fist stopped in front of Jerem. In her draconic form, her strength was a few times stronger than normal, but it still couldn't break through the magic power barrier.

    "...Hiding behind the storm and unleashing a series of attacks," Jerem commented.

    Nevertheless, a shock was delivered. It was enough to damage Jerem's robe through the magic barrier that was almost at the level of the 9th circle. His robe fell down, revealing an undead wrapped in a dull darkness. It was the undead body of the Pale Rider which had been created by collecting the power of death. Jerem's anger could be seen clearly as even his bones were shaking.

    "How interesting. But you haven't reached this body?" Jerem spoke in a dry voice.

    A lump of rage and dark energy headed toward Theodore's party with an enormous amount of power. It wasn't a spell, just pure magic power.

    "I will make you know your place!"

    An image of the reaper came to mind. There were also unknown existences hidden in the darkness. The summoning of a grim reaper and opening a lower dimension... They were spells from an ancient era, and in these times, it was doubted they had ever even existed.

    Reality and nightmares started to cross in the sky above Elvenheim.

    *     *     *

    The darkness swirled vigorously, and flames poured out without rest. Lightning struck brightly, and gusts of winds blew. The fight which had started in earnest was now much fiercer than before. It was a battlefield without a single moment of rest, where one mistake would mean death.

    Veronica was like a raptor wandering in this vortex.

    "Shit!"

    90 degrees left, 30 degrees right. She avoided the dark spear and creatures hidden in the darkness with her flame wings. The creatures that got caught in the flames burned and fell down to the ground, but there were no gaps. As soon as she tried to take a break, the fog that stopped all life came at her.

    When she saw the wave of black magic power, Veronica screamed, "Inferno!"

    A spell cast with one word destroyed the fog. She smiled wryly at the sight of this battlefield where spells, which determined victory or defeat, were being used instead of shields. Veronica looked at the lightning rushing above her.

    'I am proud to have a lover like that.'

    At first, the fight centered around Veronica's draconic form. The 7th circle magic, the durable body, and the strength she placed in just a single fist wasn't something that even Jerem could ignore. The problem was that the transformation had already ended after 15 minutes passed.

    Pipipipiping!

    Hundreds of arrows flew toward the ground, while Veronica burned a few ghoul wyverns around her. Titania's use of the Hurricane Bow was no different from Veronica's state. As it was a battle of two beings near transcendence, Titania and Veronica didn't dare interfere with Theodore's and Jerem's strength. Currently, Veronica and Titania were at their limits just by attracting attention.

    "...Win, my Theodore." Veronica looked up at the darkness and lightning swirling in the far sky.

    She never thought that she would be lacking power after reaching the 8th circle, but the world was full of strange things. Veronica formed a fist one more time as she recalled her beloved's face.

    Kkieeeek!

    "Shut up! I can't concentrate!"

    She was going to beat up all these small fries.

    *     *     *

    'They seem to be holding up well down there.'

    In the slowed down world of lightning, Theodore was able to see flickering flames. It was Veronica's breath.

    The soul connected to his through the eternal contract was still calm, and her magic power was fairly intact. If it continued like this, they would be able to endure for another hour. Theodore judged the situation calmly and moved as the death knight's sword aimed at him.

    Fairy Dance's Direct Transmission.

    Hand Counterattack Technique.

    Both Hands Wind and Moon.

    Lightning and the fairy dance at the same time...! It had been impossible in the past, but Theodore deepened his understanding after reaching the 8th circle. Now, he could combine the two different fields without difficulty. He used one hand to block the blade and the other to attack.

    Kwarurung!

    As the palm containing lightning slammed into the death knight's body, the death knight's black armor broke down, and the large body was thrown back. It might be different for a normal sword master, but the body of a crusader picked up from Lairon was unable to bear the fusion ability.

    The death knight crashed into the ground from the blow. Theodore left the death knight for Veronica to finish off, while he stared at Jerem. Then Jerem spoke from where he was floating in the air, "How annoying. Do you want to do a war of attrition?"

    "There is nothing else I can do."

    Unlike his casual way of speaking, the emotions in Jerem's gaze were unclear. Despite having a contract with Nídhöggur, Jerem was being pushed by Theodore, who was a mortal. Additionally, he was consuming power to maintain the summoning of Nídhöggur, so Jerem didn't welcome a war of attrition.

    '...I don't have much time left either.' Theodore ignored the throbbing pain in his heart and looked at the sky in the east with a more relaxed expression.

    The presence of the dragon heart didn't mean that his available magic power was infinite. Theodore's physical body was taking a lot of abuse from the process of accepting and discharging the enormous power in his body. If he compared it to a rubber band, it was the repetitive act of pulling and releasing hard.

    'I have to take his life in the next two attacks.'

    Theodore accurately diagnosed his limitations and examined the tactics he had available. In the meantime, Jerem's minor summons were still interfering with Theodore.

    Kiiing-

    An evil spirit, made from 7th circle curse magic, was broken into pieces by the sword in Theodore's right arm. The Soul Calibre directed by Reynolds was more effective than he had expected. Reynolds allowed Theodore to kill enemies that were resistant to magic power. Without Reynolds, this fight would've been much more difficult.

    "Tsk, you learned a strange magic from somewhere." Jerem clicked his tongue at this scene.

    It was a magic that Theodore hadn't known a few months ago. Looking at it, the power was absurd. How could he have learned a magic like that in a short period of time and become so skillful in it? It wasn't a standard ability of the seven sins grimoire.

    However, it was fair to say that Jerem would've have been capable of it if the grimoire had chosen him as its master.

    "Ah."

    At that moment...

    "It is over," Theodore muttered words that Jerem didn't understand.

    "What is over?"

    "Look at the horizon to the east."

    "What?" Jerem looked in the direction mentioned and his expression stiffened. A certain phenomenon was getting closer.

    "Daybreak."

    The sun was the enemy of all undead, but its influence varied greatly with time and location. For example, the undead wouldn't be affected at twilight when the sun was starting to fall below the western horizon. Then when did it have the most deadly effect on the undead? People often said noon, but magicians knew better.

    The moment when the sun rose in the east at dawn had the biggest impact on the undead.

    "...Were you planning for this from the beginning?"

    "Half. If possible, I wanted to win with my own strength. However, it is difficult to endure."

    "You rat bastard...!" Jerem was angry, but there was nothing a mortal could do about the rising and setting of the sun.

    No matter how much magic power Jerem had, he couldn't cover the whole sky and block out the darkness. That was also impossible for Theodore. Based on the rules of the material world, Theodore judged it as his victory. For these rules to be overturned, a presence from outside these rules had to intervene.

    -Pathetic, Follower. The being that was physically outside the world looked down at his follower and scoffed. He gave off a crushing presence with just a few words! Theodore closed his mouth while Nídhöggur looked at the eastern sky. The sky was golden, with dawn coming like a wave.

    -This is truly an unpleasant light, he spoke unpleasantly and then yawned widely.

    -From now on, I prohibit sunrise, Nídhöggur said absurd words.

    Huk.

    This was the end. With just a few words, Nídhöggur's command pressed down on the material world. Despite the sun that was peeping out from the east... Theodore didn't know how it was possible, but the sky that was about to brighten turned dark again.

    Death and darkness, the power of the dragon who ruled over Nastrond! This was a transcendent's power.

    "...Damn," Theodore cursed.

    Meanwhile, the two camps of light and darkness felt sorrow and joy respectively.

    Flash!

    Behind Theodore's back, a bright light suddenly rose from the center of Elvenheim. It pushed away the darkness filling the sky, spreading out like the sun. No, it was different from sunlight. The moment the light touched his skin, Theodore could see the absurd source of this light. It was a power that was one step closer to the gods than humanity, a feeling that came before the five senses.

    "Perhaps..."

    As if to confirm his intuition, he heard voices, that had been silent for weeks, cheer.

    -It has finally succeeded! Theodore, look!

    -It isn't too late? Please tell me it is alright!

    -Stop beating around the bush! We can't see it from here!

    --...I... see...

    They were the four high elves. These were the voices of those doing the summoning circle. If so, then there was only one possible source of this light.

    Kiaaaaaaack!

    It was of a ridiculous size. Two huge wings spread out over the horizon, and a beak moved through the clouds. The being called the legendary giant bird of the east... anyone who saw it would think it was Hraesvelgr. A single flap of his wings could cause a hurricane, and he had fought with an evil dragon over the world tree.

    Hraesvelgr had been summoned to greet his mortal enemy.
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