༺ Nazrea, City of the Dead (4) ༻
On the second day, the three of them defeated the Abyss Shrieker and the Wight King.
Even though Korin and Alicia were much stronger than average students, each of those enemies was Grade 1 undead boss. Defeating them in a city full of countless undeads was only possible thanks to Erin Danua.
As if she had done it hundreds and thousands of times, she gave out a perfect set of commands. In fact, she even held back for the two young students to build up experience.
“The Immortal King is the only one left now.”
On the night of the third day, the three of them stood before Gerolge the Immortal King.
“We are finally going against Gerolge. We must stop him from awakening into the Immortal King.”
“Ehk… H, he looks very intimidating!”
Immortal King Gerolge.
He was the black mage behind the Immortal Legion incident of Nazrea 300 years ago, and was a weird man who wanted to become the king of undeads.
But unlike his grandiose aspiration and his title, the undead did not give off any dignity nor pressure. Even in terms of appearance, it simply looked like a drowned corpse with unsightly swells all around.
Parts of its body were swollen like malignant tumors, whereas some parts had no flesh covering the bones.
Fat but bony – it was an imperfect being that could be accurately described by that paradoxical set of words.
“Did it fail at becoming a Lich?”
“That is the case. He is not a Lich because the soul is still inside his body, and he does not have the wisdom of a mage either.”
“So he’s just a random guy who couldn’t even become a Lich.”
Korin said while walking forward. Erin and Alicia were surprised by his sudden movement.
“What are you trying to do?” Erin asked.
“Please stay back. I can deal with him myself.”
“Mr. Korin! Even though it looks like that, it’s still at least a Unique Grade!”
As Alicia said, even a half-complete Lich was technically the King of Undeads that was born from a grand ritual. It was probably as strong as Marie Dunareff, with no questions about it being a Unique Grade.
“Well, just watch.”
At the center of the city, Korin walked to the wriggling Immortal King by himself. The Immortal King was outside his own workshop which had a panoramic view of the whole city, but was staring at who knows where.
The undead immediately turned its face in response to Korin’s words. And…
It automatically used one of its strongest spells at him.
The Doom Bolt was like a whaling harpoon that was 20 times bigger than its original size and it divided the town into two while penetrating through the place where Korin used to be at.
Despite seeing that overwhelming destruction, Korin nonchalantly whistled in marvel.
After noticing that its enemy was still alive, the Immortal King began to gather a dumbfoundingly large amount of mana.
❰Curse of Time❱, ❰Wind of Death❱, ❰Apocalypse❱
Following that, it started firing all sorts of highest-grade spells. The Immortal King displayed its powerful might as a mage by shooting those absurd spells without any delay.
Even the ground and the buildings were deformed by its showy attacks and Korin would’ve been reduced to dust by simply coming into contact with any of those spells but…
The Immortal King was confused. Its senses were telling the undead king that its enemy was still alive.
“They are quite impressive but…”
And by the time the Immortal King realized it, the spearman was right in front of its face.
“If you randomly use big spells like that, you’ll just end up covering your own line of sight.”
Like a leopard, Korin quickly approached his target and after noticing him, the Immortal King shot the same Doom Bolt – the magic arrow of overwhelming penetration that had divided the city into two.
The silver spear gently tapped on the side of the Doom Bolt. That soft touch only ended up altering the path of the Doom Bolt by 1cm, but that was enough to make the Doom Bolt point at the sky instead of the city.
“Large spells like these might be effective against armies and demonic beasts, but they’re uselessly big against people. Using dozens of medium-grade spells would be a lot better.”
The thick and swollen finger pointed at the spearman. Just by pointing, the Immortal King made enough preparations for a Doom Bolt but… what would happen to the accuracy if the finger was cut off by the spinning spearhead before it could release the spell?
“A mage without guards and intellect is nothing.”
The spear rotated. It rotated tens of times in less than 3 seconds. There was no way that a mage that wasn’t even a knight – an imperfect and irrational being that couldn’t even become a Lich could ever read through the complex pattern of that spin.
The Spinning Heaven of the Void continued its rampage and cut out slices of the king’s flesh with each spin.
Gerolge’s doubt couldn’t even leave his mouth. The accelerating spear sliced off the Immortal King’s vocal cords and mouth more than ten times in just 0.5 seconds.
—! —! —! ——————!!!!
Without any rest, the spear turbulently raged on. That was truly the Spinning Heaven of Void – Turbulent Spear. The boy was slicing away in real-time, and the mage couldn’t even lift a finger to create a spell.
The Immortal King’s body crumbled down. Its body was sliced down into hundreds of pieces and among them was the Soul Heart which Gerolge hadn’t been able to separate from his body.
That was the biggest weakness and the fundamental core of a Lich. Liches were supposed to extract this Soul Heart from their body and hide it in a safe place, but the fact that this one couldn’t even do that proved just how imperfect of a being it was.
The silver spear pierced down and pulverized the Soul Heart as the surroundings echoed with a bizarre and deathly scream.
It was an overwhelming victory.
Gerolge the Immortal King couldn’t even retaliate properly and ended up dissipating to nothing.
Nazrea Field Quest.
This quest that took place inside the infinitely rewinding Undead City was a ‘repeat’ quest by nature.
Three bosses of Nazrea.
Wight King, Abyss Shrieker, Revenant Titan.
By defeating those Grade 1 bosses to weaken the power of the Immortal King, the player had to defeat the Unique Grade undead, Immortal King Gerolge.
Even though it sounded challenging, it was only slightly difficult which was to be expected from a repeat quest. By clearing it multiple times, the player could build ‘Grim Reaper’s goodwill’ to acquire one of the ‘Treasures of the Underworld’.
What that meant was that I, as a veteran player, had killed Gerolge hundreds and thousands of times. I could tell which spell was coming with my eyes closed.
Alicia said after staring at me funny.
“It feels like you’re going further and further away, Mr. Korin.”
“Well, I can tell you that the result wouldn’t have been much different even if it was you.”
There would have been no need for her to slice like me. If it was Alicia… she would have bisected the Immortal King into two the moment she got close enough.
“That guy was nothing. It’s easier than the other undead bosses.”
A monster like the Immortal King that had nothing but strength was very easily defeatable for people like Alicia and me. Someone like Marie, who was of a similar type as the boss, would in fact have a harder time beating it, but she would have beaten it regardless with the help of Doggo.
In any case, if you had the skills to overwhelm it, the Immortal King was nothing but a weakling that you could one-sidedly play around with.
A half-assed Lich that didn’t even know how to effectively use spells like a normal mage. It only relied on the heavily destructive and highest-grade spells, which was exactly why it would never be able to beat Alicia or me.
‘And that should be the same for Erin Danua.’
“I’m going to go to Erin. Stay here and kill any undead that comes here for me.”
“Ah, sure! Mhmm…? ‘Erin’?”
Alicia tilted her head after hearing my way of calling her, but started vigilantly watching out for undeads before long.
Even after defeating the main instigator of Nazrea’s incident from 300 years ago, the city did not change.
The Immortal King had the power to control all undeads, but it wasn’t like all the undeads would disappear by themselves just by killing the Immortal King. It wasn’t that simple.
The city was still full of the dead that cursed the living.
This was where one might raise a question.
300 years ago, why were the undeads of Nazrea unable to leave the city walls?
“I don’t think it’s a good enough sight to gaze at for a long time.”
On top of a building that allowed one to gaze down at the crumbled state of the entire city, Erin was blankly staring off into the horizon.
“There is nothing else to do, you see.”
I stood next to her. Seeing me stand by her side, ‘Erin Danua’ casually spoke to me.
“That was even better than I thought. I really found myself a great disciple.”
“You could say I’m just that good.”
I said while triumphantly raising my chin.
Her sparkling eyes were still facing me.
“This is not the first time Gerolge the Immortal King was born, right?” I asked.
“How did you find out?”
Without replying to her question, I wondered. How many times has it been? Instead of asking her, I calculated it out loud.
“300 years, 3 months, and 27 days. 109,617 days. A repetition of 3 days so 36,539 times.”
Instead of saying anything in response, she simply stayed quiet and listened on.
“300 years, 3 months, and 27 days ago, Gerolge the Black Mage used the lunar eclipse to change the entire city into undeads.”
The city population of that time and the corpses that were in the cemeteries added up to about 1.2 million.
1.2 million. 1.2 million undeads had suddenly appeared out of the blue.
By nature, undeads were corrupt beings that created more and more powerful undeads by gathering together. That was why monsters like the Wight King, Abyss Shrieker, and Revenant Titan appeared from the very first day of the 3-day-loop that this city was going through.
“The repeating cycle of 3 days is the time it took for you to defeat Gerolge, right?”
“Yes. I am sure you know but Gerolge was not in his full Lich form yet. He was in fact easier than the rest.”
“Right, but even after you defeated the Immortal King, the undeads of the city were still there.”
“What a clever child.”
“Then who was it that made this repeating time loop of 3 days? Do you want me to say the rest?”
Erin heaved a deep sigh with a lonely look on her face. While sending me a reproachful gaze that seemed to be blaming me for making her say it out loud, she opened her mouth.
“I am the one who made it happen.”
– I created the loop.
Erin confessed her sin – or rather, her sacrifice at saving the world.
“If 1.2 million undeads were to leave the city at once, it would have been a matter of time for this continent and the whole world to be destroyed. That is why I used a Primal Rune to interfere with Gerolge’s magic circle.”
Primal Rune, [ n ]
A set of eight letters that promised the eternal existence of Paradise – by using that, she added a new great ritual to this entire city.
The first night when the ritual started, to the third night where she defeated Gerolge the Immortal King.
She created a City of the Dead that had to forever go through those 3 days.
“But there is a ‘current me’ in the outside world, right? Don’t worry, ‘she’ and ‘I’ are different beings that separated from the turning point 300 years ago. You knew that and that was why you refused to call me ‘master’ until the end, right?”
Right. I knew that Erin Danua here was slightly different from my master who taught me everything.
“Are you not going to say it until the end?” I asked.
“…What do you mean?”
She tried to be as carefree as ever but her eyes widened a little and she covered her body with her arms. That was one of Erin’s… master’s habits that she did whenever she wanted to hide something.
“I’m sure you didn’t lie, but you didn’t say everything either.”
“What are you… trying to say?”
“Master doesn’t even know about your existence. She just knows that this city has been repeating itself ever since the incident 300 years ago.”
Even though they separated from the turning point 300 years ago, how was master unaware of this as the very person who made this 3-day time loop?
Why did Erin of this city repeat through those 300 years and continue defeating the Immortal King?
How could she be so selfless?
It was then. Something appeared from the wriggling darkness.
《Clever, are you not.》
Rather than a voice emanating through the vocal cords, it sounded like it was being forced into the dimension itself.
What appeared from the darkness was a skeleton wearing a bluish-black robe that had the appearance of a typical grim reaper.
Even though its characteristic large scythe was not something I could see, it was the ‘one who collected souls’ that had been present both in the game and in the last iteration.
Grim Reaper. It was literally the god of death.
“I knew it had to be with the help of the Grim Reaper.”
Despite its menacing ability and appearance, it was just an NPC that gave out quests in the game and hadn’t been any different in the last iteration either.
《How daring, o deceiver. You must know that you are facing death.》
Grim Reaper approached me in the blink of an eye. In its hand must be the invisible scythe that could cut through my body in an instant.
I would definitely die the moment he ‘harvested’ my soul. That was what a Grim Reaper was – regardless of how strong or weak the person was, they could not defy death itself.
However, Erin agitatedly turned her eyes away without even attempting to save me. It was because there was no need to.
“Don’t bluff. You’re one who harvests death, not someone who sentences death.”
Grim Reaper shook its head in response.
《No. That is not it. At least it is different for you, Korin Lork, for you have deceived death.》
…Did he know that I had regressed back in time?
Erin told me that the incident on the first day was because the Grim Reaper had taken interest in me, which was why the undead bosses started coming after me.
In other words, Grim Reaper was the one overseeing the deads of this city.
“So why aren’t you harvesting my soul then?”
《Because it is very ambiguous. The death you deceived is from the future, not the present.》
“Okay. So you mean you’re still thinking about it. You’ll soon change your line of thought.”
Grim Reaper gave an intrigued nod as its blue eyes flickered like flames.
“Erin. You made a ‘contract’ with the Grim Reaper, right?”
“Repeating 3 days of a city forever. It sounds like an amazing feat at first, but it means you are ‘deceiving’ the death of 1.2 million people.”
Why was Grim Reaper in this land? What was the thing that Grim Reaper had to do as a conceptual being that harvested death?
Everything was linked to the ‘3-day repetition’ caused by Erin.
“…Yes. I’m the one who made the 3 days go on forever. That is why the Grim Reaper came to this place.”
Grim Reaper hated undeads, because they were the prime example of ones deceiving death.
The souls that were supposed to be harvested were intertwined with the body of the dead and stayed firmly attached to the ground. That was already very unpleasant but that much was okay, because even the unaging undeads would one day be killed by someone; whether it be a soldier, a knight, or a mage.
Souls were still in line for the circulation. After waiting for about a century or two, most souls would come back again.
The issue was with the 3 days that Erin had been locked inside the prison of time. In order to stop the destruction of the world under the feet of 1.2 million undeads, she had to make Nazrea unendingly repeat those 3 days.
As a result, the undeads started being brought back to life after those 3 days regardless of their death. Their souls stopped going back to circulation.
Even though the Grim Reaper couldn’t interfere with most of the works of the real world, it could when it concerned this law of circulation. The god of death could have used his own authority to separate the Primal Rune from the magic circle cast on this city.
“That must be why you requested a contract with the Grim Reaper; one that was needed to continue these three days.”
After heaving a deep sigh, Erin gave up and started talking about the past.
『Wait. Please don’t separate them.』
《Erin Danua. Are you even aware of what you have just done?》
『I know and I still decided to do it. If the undeads leave this city, they will kill countless people worldwide.』
She needed to come up with rational and utilitarian arguments to persuade the Grim Reaper.
1.2 million undeads. It was a ridiculous number of undeads and the possibility of defeating them was very questionable. What was even worse was that undeads had the power to turn the living into undeads like themselves after killing them.
Zombies, raised deads, skeletons… After all, undeads were the deceased that were made from former living creatures as well.
What would happen if humanity had lost to the legion of undeads led by the Immortal King?
The discontinuance of humanity and the abundance of undeads would lead to the worst scenario of having zero soul circulation. Erin Danua tried to persuade the Grim Reaper using that possibility.
She introduced two sides of the scale: losing the circulation of 1.2 million souls, compared to a possibility of losing the worldwide circulation of souls itself.
However, that wasn’t enough to persuade the god of death.
《Very superficial. You are talking from the perspective of humans. It is very unlikely for humans to lose. Several million will die and it might take hundreds and thousands of years but they will survive in the end. Everything will be cleansed again.》
《However, watching on for now as you suggest might not be a bad choice. Because this magic will be dispelled before long.》
『What do you… mean by that?』
There was something Erin hadn’t taken into account – Immortal King Gerolge. As a ‘long friend’ of hers, Grim Reaper was considerate enough to give her some advice.
《You are not the only one in control of this magic. There is still the mage who made this wicked city. Do you think he will be clueless to the repetition of three days forever?》
“I had to ponder for a long time. My original plan was to leave the city after having it repeat itself for those 3 days.”
That was exactly what she did, because outside, we still had my master and the Chairman of Merkarva Academy, Erin Danua.
『Grim Reaper. Let’s make a contract.』
《…Why do you wish to walk the arduous path all the time, Queen?》
Despite the discouragement of the Grim Reaper, she went through with the contract.
- The Grim Reaper overlooks the repetition of three days.
- Every time the ‘Immortal King Gerolge’ is defeated by ‘Erin Danua’, his memories are to be rewound back by 3 days.
- ‘Erin Danua’ inside the repetition of 3 days is to be separated from the ‘Erin Danua’ that will be leaving the city.
The above contract will last until ‘Erin Danua’ is no longer able to kill Gerolge.
Like that, those three days started an endless repetition.
Defeating the Revenant Titan, Abyss Shrieker, and the Wight King, she had to kill Immortal King Gerolge on the third night.
She had been repeating that 3-day story for 300 years.
“In fact, it was starting to take a toll on me. Ever since it exceeded the 20,000 mark, Gerolge slowly started to realize the time loop.”
I did have some guesses but I wasn’t expecting such a backstory. To think that Gerolge was slowly starting to notice the repetition…
“There was no need for you to know about this.”
Crouching down on the spot, she buried her head into her knees, while murmuring that it would have been better if I didn’t know about it.
She was probably in the mindset that she was the only one that needed to know about her endless fight where she had to set off to kill the Immortal King tomorrow, in four days’ time and in a week’s time.
“How long were you going to repeat this stuff for? How long can you even do this for? How much longer can your mind last, and for how long do you think you can continue killing Gerolge?”
The most important condition in this contract was that she had to kill Gerolge to rewind his memories to the one he had 3 days ago.
Even though Erin had the advantage in terms of skill, it wasn’t strange for her to make a mistake as a living person. It wouldn’t have been strange for her to have failed already.
“For as long as possible.”
Her eyes were already looking beyond me, fixated at a place that I couldn’t see.
It was a helpless future. A repetition of 3 days for 300 years. She had been repeating it for 300 years, which was more than enough time to make every other person give up.
The only thing supporting her was duty. Thinking and acting like a machine was the only way she could support herself through those three days.
That damn selflessness of hers.
I knew about her selfless and self-sacrificial mindset. I had already experienced her gladly putting her life on the line to protect children.
That was the kind of person she was. I respected her for it but I couldn’t accept it either.
“Grim Reaper,” I said as the god of death turned its flickering eyes at me.
The Grim Reaper was a conceptual being that followed the balance of causation and circulation. Since that was the case, it should definitely answer my call.
As if she realized what I was trying to do, Erin started dashing to me but it was already too late.
“Let’s make a contract.”
A contract with the Grim Reaper.
It was the only way to save Erin Danua from the time loop of this city.
And besides, it was something I was going to do anyway.
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