The black magic spread and rotted everything, regardless of whether it was organic or inorganic matter. The ground became compost, and the air turned into a poison which would decay the lungs. It was a level of pollution which even aura users couldn't tolerate.
The 6th Circle magic, Life Drain, was completed. The elder lich, the top ranking undead, was immortal. Fighting him with 5th Circle magic was unreasonable.
Thanks to that desperate gap, Sylvia reacted one beat later. "Freeze!"
The air and ground froze, stopping the pollution. The high speed freezing was due to the artifact, 'Jack Frost's staff.' Addition, if it wasn't for her overwhelming sensitivity, she would've suffered more.
Other magicians would've already reached their limits, but she had just under 3% magic power remaining.
"Hah…! Hah…!" Her hair stuck to her sweaty face in an unpleasant manner.
She wiped angrily at her hair and glared at the white bones floating before her.
Her opponent's capabilities were a few times higher than hers. The amount of magic power and speed of magic casting didn't fall behind either. If the immortality was added, there seemed to be no way for Sylvia to attack.
The situation was similar for Randolph who was fighting nearby.
Kakiing! The two swords collided with two swords, causing sparks to fly from the four swords.
The blades moved faster than the sound. Randolph's left sword broke the opponent's shoulder, while the skull knight drew a line of blood on Randolph's neck. The incessant attacks caused a fearsome wind to rise around the two swordsmen.
The knight was just a mere skeleton, so its swordsmanship lacked flexibility after becoming an undead, Randolph cleverly moved through those gaps. However, that didn't change the fact that the skeleton knight was a tough opponent.
'Damn old geezer!'
At the same time, Randolph blocked three of the skeleton knight's stabs with a single blow.
Keeng! Randolph let out a huge sword pressure.
He retreated a few steps from the pressure. It was a perfect type of counter attack which could have come straight from a textbook. If the opponent wasn't hardened as an undead, his head would've fallen off around 10 times now.
'Still… I found a gap I can dig into.'
The skeleton was using a swordsmanship which had stopped improving 100 years ago, so Randolph didn't miss the small loopholes which were revealed.
[Young Lady.] Randolph's voice was heard using a trick which directed his voice toward only one person. [I will give you a gap. Use the biggest technique you have available…!]
Without waiting for a reaction, Randolph focused on his dual wield. For the first time in this battle, the skeleton was thrown back by pure strength. Randolph's momentum had changed in a very short moment.
'Have I seen this posture before? An old-fashioned inspiration…'
If a technique had been lost 100 years ago, there would also be a new technique born 100 years later. However, there was no such posture in Randolph's family's swordsmanship. The moment it changed from a familiar posture to an unfamiliar one, there was a gap in his body's defense. It was a mistake Randolph wouldn't have done if his opponent were alive.
Randolph's two swords were like two fangs—two streaks of light!
Cracks occurred in the two swords as they accelerated to the extreme, and light flowed from the cracks. Just like a thunderbolt running through the ground, the two swords, which were covered in aura, struck the skull knight's upper body. Then an intense shock wave was generated and knocked firmly against the skeleton knight.
The large skull knight flew right toward the elder lich.
[What is this…?] The elder lich's chanting stopped at the unexpected situation.
If he completed the magic, then he might destroy the precious corpse with his own hands. Right now it was just a skull knight, but it was valuable material which could someday be transformed into a death knight.
During that moment of hesitation, the cold magic power grew. "Master of the cold, Ymir! I beseech you…!"
It was the final magic Sylvia had used in the final match of the tournament, but its completeness and power had greatly increased. The elder lich belatedly noticed the movements of the magic power, but the skeleton knight before him hindered him from avoiding it. At that moment, Sylvia's magic was completed.
'Minor Force. Blizzard.'
A terrible whirlwind swallowed up the two undead!
Jjejejeok! Jjejeok! Jjejejeok!
The ground and even the water in the atmosphere froze. Even the black magic power had no way to resist this overwhelming cold. The skeleton knight turned into a statue as it brandished its swords, while the elder lich's skull was visible in the translucent ice.
In a sense, it was the best attack. The Life Vessel couldn't be destroyed while the elder lich was still safe. If so, using ice magic which restrained his freedom was the most effective thing to do. In an instant, a huge sheet of ice was built in the middle of the room.
[…How great. Truly excellent skill, girl from the Blue Tower.]
However, his attitude was unchanged.
Despite being trapped in the ice, the elder lich was still in a relaxed state. There was no way for them to destroy his immortality. The result had been decided from the beginning, and this battle was just a process of getting there.
[Nevertheless, you can't escape from death. The moment that your magic power runs out and this ice dissolves, that will be your last moment!]
"Ah, you're still barking a lot even until the end," Randolph murmured as he released his grip on his two swords. He knew this was a fight which couldn't be won. It would've been the same if all three people were present.
As long as there was no means to overthrow the elder lich, it was all was just a meaningless struggle. Sylvia's magic power, which had been maintaining the ice, reached its limit.
Jjejejeok… The ice capturing the two undead started to split apart.
As Sylvia's magic power was depleted, the cold air thinned. Small cracks spread, and the ice mountain soon collapsed. Finally, the skeletons emerged from it.
[This is the end… From now on, you will become my servants and forever serve the great death…!]
Sylvia and Randolph had no power to resist or get away. As the two people stood in place, the black magic of the elder lich reached out like a wave of fog. It was black magic which would rot the body of a living person in an instant. Not long after that, Randolph would become a skull knight and Sylvia a banshee.
Then at this moment, an unpleasant sound rang out from somewhere. Gulp.
The fog stopped and the skull made a confused sound. [Um? What does this mean…?]
The sound was accompanied by a strange sense of loss. It felt like something had disappeared from his body as an inexplicable emptiness tickled his head. The soul of the grimoire's host, the man called Giovanni, had ended up in someone's stomach.
His end came shortly after that.
[———–!!!] The elder lich struggled noiselessly as his soul melted. The skeletal body rattled, and magic power was scattered randomly.
Sylvia and Randolph saw the immortal flesh turn into ashes. This was the fateful end of the elder lich, Giovanni.
As he disappeared into ashes, the two people gaped with blank expressions. Victory and defeat had been decided in a place they didn't know.
The dungeon which had lost its core would certainly collapse. According to that principle, the dungeon created by the elder lich started to shatter back to its original form. It became a cave which was just a few meters wide and a few hundred meters deep.
The core room that Theodore was trapped in was no exception.
As the earth trembled, everything returned to its original state. The expanded walls, the bizarre sculptures, and the soil contaminated with a red power all recovered their original vitality. The core room wasn't a newly created space but a remodelled one.
Theodore understood this fact as he looked around. "Indeed, this is the room that was written in the report."
He nodded while looking at the antiques and ragged parchment paper on the ground. According to Giovanni's report, he had found a room full of treasures, including Randolph's heirlooms.
'But there isn't anything that looks like a sword… Perhaps it is somewhere else?'
The positioning of the items might have changed after the dungeon had been created and then removed. Theo placed the antiques into the dimension pocket and stepped out of the room to join the party.
No, it was more correct to say that he tried to.
Feeling an eerie presence behind him, Theo widened the distance reflexively. He was one step ahead of the ominous presence due to his sensory perception. Theo's eyes looked around quickly, and he found a book covered in darkness.
It was a book which stretched out chains of darkness!
"Grimoire!" As Theo cried out with shock, a hole opened in the palm of his hand.
–Huhu, you found it! Leave it to me from here on, User!
Gluttony's usually emotionless voice was filled with a fierce joy. The tongue extended, grabbed the dark grimoire and threw it to the ground.
–A fresh guy!
Gluttony ignored the eerie scream coming from the grimoire and continued to beat the book. The grimoire was just like a fly caught by a toad. Darkness occasionally seeped into the cave, but Gluttony's tongue ignored the shock and continued to hit the grimoire persistently.
Gluttony's attack proved to be effective as the darkness gradually became silent. It was like a person getting thrashed. Theo felt sorry for the grimoire as he was forced to stand still and watch the scene.
The grimoire was probably hit roughly 30 times? It flopped wildly on the ground.
–Impertinent fellow! Daring to take over my user… It would have been better to pick a random person to run away.
Gluttony laughed in a pleased tone. Based on his ridiculing words, the grimoire seemed to have attempted to steal Theo's body as its next host. The grimoire admitted defeat and became like a piece of food as it rolled toward Gluttony.
Just like a beast grabbing its prey, Gluttony placed its tongue on the cover of the grimoire. At the same time, the information of the grimoire flashed in Theo's head.
[This grimoire contains the soul of the legendary warlock, Jerem. As a 9th Circle necromancer who attacked mankind on the side of the demons, Jerem will steal the body of any creature who reads the grimoire and turn them into an undead. He dreams of the perfect resurrection as his soul awaits in the abyss.
* The rating of the grimoire is 'Legend.'
*When consumed, there is a very low chance of absorbing 50-100% of the abilities possessed by the warlock, Jerem. The 'Negative Dimension' and undead which belong to Jerem will also belong to you.
* When consumed, there is a very high probability that the warlock, Jerem, will rob your body. If you want to hinder this possibility, release another one of Gluttony's seals and increase your achievements.]
"…9th Circle?" Theo let out a shocked cry when he saw the number.
The peak of magic, the 9th Circle magicians had disappeared from the continent for nearly 1,000 years.
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Only the Blue Tower Master and Red Tower Master had reached the 8th Circle, and they were transcendents who dealt with power beyond the limits of humans. They were also the reason why the Meltor Kingdom was able to compete with the giant Andras Empire who surpassed them in size and strength.
However, the 9th Circle? If a 9th Circle magician reappeared, they would be able to dominate the continent alone. Alas, the advice written on the explanation suppressed his greed.
"…Hey, you can't eat this now."
–Let's see? This is an extremely rare chance. Isn't the opportunity to become a 9th Circle magician worth the cost to your life?
"Don't speak such funny words."
Theo could tell by the exchange of words. If he had nothing to do with Jerem, Gluttony wouldn't have prevented the grimoire from eating Theo. Maybe Gluttony had a separate means of capturing the book or the ability to suppress it.
Theodore's conviction caused him to open his mouth and say, "You… do you have a way to handle that grimoire?"
–Yes and no.
It was a vague answer, but that was enough.
Theo's concentration reached its peak, and he quickly found the answer: feed it the dimension pocket and open the hidden function. It was the reason why Gluttony had given Theo the hint without any price.
"A hidden feature. Right?"
Theo might be imagining it but Gluttony's mouth seemed to distort.
–I can't answer any more than that. Ah, and the time I can hold onto the book is only five minutes from now. I just wanted to let you know, so don't worry.
It was a devilish and enticing answer. If Theo didn't unlock the hidden function, he would be unable to capture the book. Once that happened, the grimoire would escape from Gluttony's tongue and find another host.
In the near future, the elder lich or a host, which had reached a higher level, could cause an unprecedented catastrophe. Thanks to the dangerous grimoire, he didn't have time to worry about the value of the dimension pocket.
In the end, Theo's right hand reached into his clothes.