༺ Subjugation Force (2) ༻
The task I gave Gideon and Kraut was simple.
I’d support the person who contributed more to solving Chester County’s problem through the Demonic Creature Conquest.
Actually, it could be considered incredibly risky.
While the origins of the demonic creatures spread across the entire Empire had not been properly identified, it was certain that these creatures had always formed clusters and lived together.
There was a reason why regular Demonic Creature Conquests were a large-scale event. If you were to subjugate one, the rest would swarm out as if disturbing a hornet’s nest, so everyone prepared thoroughly for such a case before going.
According to the general classification of demonic creatures, Low-Grade demonic creatures were equivalent to the combat power of a regular Knight.
While there was a record of Iliya singlehandedly dealing with several times that number, that was because she was a special case.
During a Demonic Creature Conquest, there were dozens, or in severe cases, hundreds of such demonic creatures pouring out. Therefore, the danger was all too apparent.
Even with such danger, if there were two individuals who couldn’t even be considered as human anymore, the story would become quite different.
A wolf-like demonic creature shattered under Kraut’s fist.
I had already seen dozens of them suffer the same fate. Demonic creatures were something that couldn’t even be pierced by ordinary swords or spears, let alone with your own fists. Yet, that person was effortlessly bursting them like balloons as he slaughtered them with his bare hands.
Even Iliya, who fought with her life on the line against six of them, looked dispirited as she watched such a sight. It had only been a few minutes, but the number of demonic creatures that had crossed into the afterlife was already over twenty.
What about Gideon, you asked?
With a short exhale, Gideon drew his sword.
A Flash Sword that was nearly at the level of being invisible. The sword stroke cut through the air, instantly swept away the demonic creatures around him.
Although it was a light movement, within its trajectory, only the vital points of all the demonic creatures were severed.
While Kraut was hearty and ferocious, ripping apart anything he got his hands on, Gideon exhibited precise and accurate combat techniques, reminiscent of a machine.
At this rate, it wasn’t a conquest nor a subjugation. Instead, it seemed more like ‘labor’ where they grinded down anything that faced them, almost akin to weeding.
Caliban had doubts about where I could manage such individuals, but the clear answer to that was here.
There was no need to manage them.
They were so powerful that just leaving them to their devices would solve everything.
“…Is that the level of the two warriors that represent the Empire…”
As Iliya sighed in admiration at such a sight, Eleanor remained silent, as if in agreement.
Unlike Iliya, Eleanor probably had some unfavorable emotions towards her father, but there was no room for her to deny those words.
The achievements of those two were truly at an awe-inspiring level.
By the way…
[ The proficiency of target Eleanor’s ‘Mastery: Tristan-Style Swordsmanship’ ‘is increasing! ]
[ The proficiency of target Iliya’s ‘Mastery: Sustained Combat’ ‘is increasing! ]
I didn’t drag these two out here for no reason.
All things considered, those two were the epitome of geniuses. To put it in another way, they were monsters.
They could absorb everything in real time, just by seeing the way someone stronger than them fought.
‘Perhaps by the end of the subjugation…’
The development of their Masteries would be noticeable.
Then, I could inherit their acquired Masteries through the form of a Gift.
It was the definition of killing two birds with one stone.
Hm? What was I doing while those monsters were fucking around, you asked?
“Oh, this one isn’t dead yet.”
I was collecting the demonic creatures that had collapsed nearby.
They were on the verge of death, but there were still some lingering signs of life.
It might look crude, but this was also necessary labor, okay?
As I raised the amulet towards the near-dead demonic creature, its body began to glow with radiant particles and soon orbited around me.
[ You have obtained a medium for a Tattoo of ‘Forbidden Sorcery’. ]
[ Through this medium, you can carve patterns on your body. The effect of the each Forbidden Sorcery varies depending on the form of the pattern. ]
‘Let’s fucking go.’
The condition to use Forbidden Sorcery was more restrictive than one might think. After all, only living organisms could be used as its medium.
According to the system, for a living organism to be acknowledged as a medium, it had to satisfy one of two conditions.
There had to either be ‘consent’ from the party becoming a medium, or it had to be when said party was on the verge of death.
No suitable living organisms around me would fulfill the former and I didn’t even want there to be either. On the other hand, the latter required an ability to precisely predict the moment just before their death, which I didn’t possess.
In that aspect, the current subjugation was, without exaggeration, the only opportunity for me to activate Forbidden Sorcery.
“Is this the right way to do it?”
[Yes. You chose a good medium. Demonic creatures are very efficient.]
Valkasus responded as such within Soul Linker.
For now, the number of demonic creatures I had picked up like this was approaching five. At the very least, I could display the minimum performance of the Mastery by carving a Tattoo according to a pattern.
[Originally, Forbidden Sorcery is a type of Sorcery that puts a burden on the body of its carver. You can tell just by looking at my previous appearance.]
A voice mixed with a bitter laugh followed.
[Once Forbidden Sorcery is carved, it can’t be erased. So originally, it must be chosen very cautiously, but…]
[I can recommend you a few Arrays. Why not try using them once? It’s a product of my ambitions.]
[You are currently with the world’s greatest Forbidden Sorcerer. Trust me.]
Valkasus said this with a voice of pride.
He wasn’t wrong. Where else could I find an expert of his level in this specific field?
Should I trust him this once?
While following Valkasus’s instructions, I quickly drew the Tattoos on my arm and completed the Array.
The number of Tattoos weren’t many, so I couldn’t do large-scale abilities such as summoning an army of Ruined or calling forth a Special-Grade demonic creature, as Valkasus did.
Even so, out of all the types of Sorcery, Forbidden Sorcery had the most powerful abilities. Hopefully, this will be something decent…
[ ‘Forbidden Sorcery: Seal’ Acquired! ]
[ This ability will be added to the Skills Tab! ]
As I read the contents of this new technique, I fell into silence.
I really hoped for a good ability, but…
“Doesn’t this only utilize 5 Tattoos…?”
[Don’t worry. It will get stronger later.]
As I heard Valaksus’s voice that seemed to say ‘I did well, right?’, I could only let out a forced chuckle.
Yeah, he did well.
So well that it was ridiculous.
‘Should I try it out?’
Since I received such a gift, it was only right to try it at least once.
As I searched around while thinking this, a suitable opponent conveniently came into view.
Even Gideon and Kraut, who were basically weeding out the creatures with their sword and fist, paused their movements with furrowed brows when they saw the opponent.
“…A piece of shit like that is in this remote area?”
Kraut mumbled as he saw a gigantic wolf with grotesque spikes growing from its body.
Judging by its size, it was an Intermediate-Grade demonic creature. It was probably the leader dominating this area.
Even these guys, who had cleared almost all the other demonic creatures with a single strike, seemed hesitant to recklessly attack this creature.
As I mentioned before, Intermediate-Grade demonic creatures were usually strong enough to have a few special abilities.
‘Judging by its color, it looks like it’s packed with such abilities.’
A bitter smile involuntarily formed.
The danger of a mutant was usually discernible by the body color and that bastard was red.
Among entities of the same grade, red was the most dangerous. It probably had a maximum of three special abilities.
Moreover, this bastard had a certain combination that all Sera players would hate.
“…[Adaptive Skin], [Refraction], and [Super Regeneration]. What a pain in the ass.”
Gideon sighed in agreement with Kraut.
Adaptive Skin would grant its user an incredibly high resistance to any weapon that they previously had come into contact with.
Refraction would reflect the damage the user received back in its entirety.
And Super Regeneration, as its name suggested, would continuously regenerate the user’s wounds.
In other words…
One would have to deliver a blow powerful enough to kill the bastard in one hit, but this bastard wouldn’t die easily. Moreover, the person dealing the damage had to endure the entirety of it when it was reflected back.
Even one such ability would be a pain in the ass, but a mutant had appeared with all three at the same time.
Basically, it was not for show that it was just standing there boldly, even while other demonic creatures were being swept away.
“There’s a simple solution.”
Kraut had a smirk on his face as he spoke.
“…Is there such a thing?”
As expected of the Margrave who ruled the North, the most hazardous region of the Empire. He had a solution even for such a hellish combina—
“Just beat the shit out of it until it dies.”
“…What about the reflected damage?”
“Just tank it.”
“Just send it and bet on who dies first. I’ve never lost such a bet so far.”
Yeah, obviously you won. That was the only way you can still be alive, you crazy motherfucker.
They were supposed to be Holy Knights, but their actions were closer to that of Lunatics.
“…I’ll take care of it. We haven’t encountered the truly dangerous opponent yet, so there’s no need for you to waste that much energy already.”
The key to this subjugation was to conquer the ‘Devil’s Fragment’, which was fused to a demonic creature, with the Homunculus sisters, who will join us tomorrow.
As such, there was no need for them to waste their energy here.
As I stepped forward with a sigh, the eyes of all the members of the subjugation force widened.
“Take care of it? How?”
“On my own. However I want to. Well. You’ve been carrying me so far, so I should try to earn my keep, right?”
As I spoke while stretching, Kraut let out a cynical laugh.
“…If you’re willing to take on such a difficult task, I won’t stop you. But will you be fine? You might die if you mess up, you know?”
True, this task was difficult enough for this boomer, out of all people, to say such words.
I felt Eleanor looking at me with a grim gaze from the side.
It was a look that said, ‘Are you planning to get hurt again?’
I sent a gaze of reassurement.
‘No, really. I wouldn’t get hurt this time.
You really didn’t need to worry…
“…Even so, it’s not something you can handle alone. At the very least, I should he—”
I pointedly gazed at Giedon’s slightly trembling hand.
It was a symptom that wasn’t there before the battle, but now it was so noticeable that even I could see it.
As I looked towards that direction, Gideon startled and hid his hand behind his back.
“…I’m fine. This is nothing.”
“I know you’re not fine.”
The madness flowing in the Tristan Duchy’s veins was not something that could be solved by cutting mere Low-Grade demonic creatures.
The method of resolving it was a very harsh phenomenon where they had to cut a ‘living person’.
Even though I had often helped Eleanor release some steam, Gideon was different. On top of not being in a position to easily meet people, he had also been stuck in a distant place under my command for a long time. Thus, it was even more unlikely that he had an opportunity to let off some steam.
In this situation, if such impulses were further encouraged by ‘combat’, well…
The fact that he was still holding onto reason was a miracle.
However, I couldn’t solve that right now.
No, I shouldn’t solve it right now in the first place.
If I were to do that, it would only make the present situation even worse.
At the very least, until the end of this ‘subjugation’, it was best for Gideon to stay in this precarious state.
With that, I leapt toward the gigantic wolf.
At the same time, it recognized me as an opponent.
[ A moment of danger has been detected.]
[ Determined the situation as life-threatening. ]
[ Skill: Desperation raised to EX-Grade. ]
[ ‘Skill: Swordsman’s Focus’ Activated!]
[ Reaction speed and precision are increased! ]
WIth a beastly roar, its front legs shot out.
What a ridiculously fast speed. If I hadn’t activated Swordsman’s Focus, I wouldn’t have even been able to see its trajectory.
It was certainly not as fast as Riru, the fastest human I had ever encountered. Even so, if I lost focus for even a single moment, I would get mauled to death.
‘As expected, it’s strong!’
Even if I excluded its special abilities, the physical abilities of an Intermediate-Grade demonic creature was threatening enough.
It was even more so when considering that mutants, such as this bastard, had more spikes than usual. Thus, they were generally stronger than typical Intermediate-Grade creatures.
Still, my stats had also skyrocketed insanely with the help of my skills. It was definitely possible for me to react.
A claw narrowly swiped my chest, as a few drops of blood splashed.
Following that, I brought my sword down on the front leg that was swinging at me.
With a clang that hit its front legs, the blue energy emanating from its body flowed to my sword before spreading onto it.
Although I managed to deflect it a bit, such measly damage was quickly regenerated by [Super Regeneration].
I couldn’t read the beast’s expression, but it seemed like the wolf was in high spirits.
[ Contact with ‘Adaptive Skin’ of the demonic creature! ]
[ The effectiveness of the corresponding weapon is reduced by 90% against the target demonic creature! ]
‘So this is how it works.’
Just by blocking my attack it rendered one of my equipment useless. While I understand that it was a rare mutant, this was still a bit much. There clearly was a reason why Sera users would grind their teeth when encountering these types of creatures.
“You idiot! Why would you use your weapon like that! That sword is now useless!”
From behind, Kraut yelled in frustration.
“Run away! Fighting beyond this point is a waste of—!”
Just before Kraut could finish his sentence, he promptly closed his mouth.
It was because I had dashed toward the demonic creature once again.
Seriously, I said it was okay because it really was okay. I never intended to defeat it like this.
In a way, this was just to lull it into complacency.
The demonic creature seemed bewildered. It was a natural reaction when a human, who had even lost their weapon, charged at it barehanded.
But soon enough, a sneer appeared in its eyes, as it raised its front legs again. It probably intended to finish me off with a single blow, even disregarding its own defense.
After all, it would think I had no means of attack.
[ Using ‘Forbidden Sorcery: Seal’! ]
[ Target silenced! ]
The Array engraved on my arm shone.
At the same time, an Array identical in shape, but much larger, was created under the wolf’s body.
The color that permeated the wolf’s body..
The wolf’s eyes widened. It seemed to have instinctively sensed that something had changed; a fatal danger had emerged.
After all, the abilities that protected it had ‘vanished’ in an instant.
However, it was already too late.
Mastery: Arcane Gale 裏疾風
Description: If you accurately ‘deflect’ the opponent’s attack with precise timing, you can return a considerable portion of the damage to the opponent.
Even though it was a sword that had lost its ‘attack ability’, I could still use any ‘techniques’ derived from Tristan-Style Swordsmanship.
As its foreleg was deflected, simultaneously, the physical force generated by the wolf was returned right back at it.
In order to finish me off with a single strike, it swung with full force, thus, the energy in its attack was immense.
As such, I managed to penetrate the leather that would’ve been burdensome for me to deal with alone and had cut deep into its chest, almost to the point where organs were visible.
[ Using ‘Skill: Stigmata’. ]
I created a shield of divine power and ‘squeezed it in’ the wounded area. Due to this, the gap in the slightly opened leather widened significantly.
Although it lacked any attack capabilities, it was quite a useful shield in terms of toughness. As such, I could also use it this way. It was one of the niche techniques I had acquired while grinding as a Sera sweat.
And before the demonic creature could even scream in agonizing pain, I thrusted the sword into the gap where its heart could be seen.
And with just that…
Light faded from its eyes. After staggering, it collapsed to the ground.
After seeing the wrecked body of the demonic creatures, everyone’s jaws dropped.
And when the huge body made a dull sound as it fell to the ground, it seemed like everyone was at a loss for words.
“…Hey, Dweeb. That took five seconds, didn’t it?”
After Kraut and Gideon exchanged such words in awe…
“Wh-What, What… What was that just now? How. What. What did you just do, Teach?”
Iliya exclaimed in shock.
Her reaction was perfectly understandable.
After all, even I was astonished when I saw this for the first time.
Forbidden Sorcery: Seal
Grade: 5 Tattoos
Description: Restricts the opponent’s skill usage for a certain period of time.
Duration: 0.3 seconds.
A debuff skill with an extremely simple effect.
However, as seen from the description…
It was a cheat.
Crazy shit right there.
To the point where it felt like it was shameless of Valkasus to say it would become stronger in the future.
‘…It was a good decision to slot him into my spirit collection.’
With such thoughts, I had a wry smile on my face as I fondled the amulet on my wrist
As expected, a Final Boss of a chapter wasn’t one for no reason.
I continued to gaze at the fallen demonic creature.
There could be something to pick up here.
‘I mean look at it. It’s clearly a pile of ingredients.’
The demonic creature’s body itself was top-quality material for equipment. No, even more so, especially with such a rare mutation.
As I giddily approached it, I overheard a conversation between the two major nobles nearby.
“…The more I see it, the more useful that guy seems. He has good senses when it comes to fighting. I should also use that method of widening wounds with a shield.”
“Go away, Barbarian. It’s none of your business. I was the one who established a relationship with him first.”
“You fucker. Does sharing something make it wear out faster? Huh?”
“It does. Get lost.”
Come to think of it…
Gideon had a tendency to get strangely childish whenever Kraut got involved.
Was it because they were rivals?
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