Before the tutorial begins chapter 48

Chapter 48 – The Thunder Beast and the Dreaming Girl 9

◆The Dungeon City Sakurabana – The 336th Dungeon [Eternal Darkness] 10th Layer

“Alright! One more strike!”

I swing down the great sword form of Execcudus, carving a slash into Keraunos’ Achilles tendon.

“You got careless watching the star system on the left, Keraunos!”

“AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Black lightning pours down from the ceiling with his roar.

Using the control of the [eruption point] for a close-range snipe would be the right choice to suppress his initial movement.

Good judgment.

But it’s too sweet.

“Don’t let it through!”

With her voice, Szilard’s thermal art barrage accurately shoots down the falling lightning.

Even though the accessory with conversion resistance has made her terribly sluggish, that person is shooting down the mighty lightning…Amazing.

“Damn, that’s impressive.”

The power of the five great clan leaders is truly no joke.

With admiration and respect, I swing Execcudus in a full swing.

Good, I got a solid hit in.

Alright, time to retreat.

“Haruka, it’s coming soon! Don’t overextend.”

“I know that—-Hyah!”

Haruka elegantly executes a stylish backstep utilizing a backflip to the left.

Naturally, this is in parallel with the wave attacks from the copies of the Azure Firmament.

“As amazing as always.”

“Ehehe. You could praise me a little more, you know?”

Haruka answers with a strange affectation, perhaps trying to hide her embarrassment.

Just as I was about to feel a little warmed up, I observe thorny black lightning erupting from under Keraunos’ feet.

It’s a troublesome area-of-effect attack, but we’re already out of range.

In the original specs, I might have been able to catch us, but in Keraunos’ current state, it’s simply impossible for him to hit us.

“Well, it’s functioning as a melee deterrent, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a junk skill.”

Keraunos retreats, scattering black lightning around himself.

The battle shifts to another round of artillery exchanges.

“Hahahahaha!”

“WOOOOOOOOOOO—-!”

Clashing thermal beams and black lightning.

Watching this grand spectacle of the battling monsters, I hand Haruka a portable ration as she catches up.

“You’re late, Jupi.”

“That beast and I were having a one-on-one out there. It just can’t be helped that it’s taking a while.”

To subdue Keraunos, Jupiter herself must defeat him.

Some spirits may impose peaceful trials like debates or riddles, but in Keraunos’ case, it’s probably going to be pure violence.

Facing off against Keraunos, the symbol of her life’s negatives and traumas,

It must be agonizing and painful for her.

But…

“She can do it. She’s tough-minded.”

“…I’m not really doubting her or anything. But, you know…”

“You’re worried, right?”

Leaning against the wall decorated with a coffin, I chew on the portable ration. …Ugh, it’s a bit melted.

“Yeah, I am worried.”

Nibbling on the fruity ration, Haruka gazes at the scenery towards the entrance.

There, Keraunos is unleashing linear lightning strikes with a demonic expression.

In the current specs, Keraunos simply can’t defeat Szilard, no matter how hard Keraunos tries.

Keraunos’s barely managing to resist Szilard’s restrained mode.

If the three of us attacked him all at once without a break, we could easily take him down.

But as I said before, that would be meaningless.

For Jupiter to triumph, and for us to win as well – that is the true meaning of subjugation.

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“I believe in her, but I’m still worried… Hey, Kyo san, is that a contradiction?”

“It depends on the ratio of the spear and the shield. What’s the proportion?”

“Hmm, how would you elegantly describe a fifty-fifty situation? Half and half?”

Probably wanting to say “fifty-fifty”.

“Well, if it’s blended nicely?”

Yes, yes.

“then it’s not a contradiction, it’s a dilemma.”

“How is that different?”

“Dilemma is like being torn between curry and ramen. Contradiction is saying you’ll eat curry while actually eating ramen.”

“If it were me, I’d just eat both.”

“…We weren’t discussing that.”

Or were we?

Believing in someone doesn’t mean you can’t worry about them, and vice versa.

There’s no need to abandon one or the other.

Both trust and concern can be embraced together.

At least, that seems to suit this voracious girl better.

While we’ve been wasting time on this rather meaningless discussion, it seems the conflict over there has been resolved.

Szilard’s thermal art strikes Keraunos’ head, setting it alight.

“WOOOOOoooooo…………OOOOOOOOOOOOO—-!”

Scraping his burning head against the ground, the black lightning beast writhes.

Keraunos’s taken damage and is down, but within the recovery range – just the right balance.

Truly Szilard’s handiwork.

“This is our chance, Haruka. Use the Azure Firmament Soukyuu to cut his tendons and completely immobilize him this time.”

“That kid’s been wary of me, you know-“

Even as she says that, Haruka fires the copies of the Azure Firmament Soukyuu towards Keraunos’ left leg.

“……Wooooooooooo!”

But the old thunder god’s response was quick as well.

With his head still burning, Keraunos made evasive moves using the flash of black lightning and the rotation of his body, trying not to let us lock onto him.

Despite his crazy father’s nature, his fighting style was quite skilful.

The way he deliberately left his vital spots unguarded and evaded revealed his nasty personality.

“He’s a lot tougher than his outward appearance suggests.”

“He must have figured out our intentions.”

I’ve been seeing him expose his head in order to protect his feet –

the frequency is too high to be a coincidence, and it’s clear he’s carefully wary of Haruka’s strikes. He’s no fool.

If he can prolong the battle and break Jupiter’s will, it’ll be his victory.

Even if he’s defeated here, as long as Jupiter can’t finish him, it’ll be a pyrrhic win for us. Sensing this, he smoothly shifted to a war of attrition.

“Jeez, Keraunos sure is a piece of work, isn’t he?”

This can’t drag on much longer…

Just as I was solidifying that near-certain expectation, something unexpected happened.

“Huh…?”

The first to be stunned was Haruka.

The reason was obvious.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, one of her attacks had landed.

Aono’s secret technique cleanly severed Keraunos’ left foreleg tendon.

The strike that had been evaded so effortlessly until just now had found its mark with ease.

It was a joyous development, but something seemed off.

Not only was there a strangely fatal and unnatural opening right before the attack landed, but even with his tendon cut, Keraunos didn’t even flinch.

He just stood there in a daze, as if his mind was somewhere else.

“Could it be…!”

Swallowing the words on the tip of my tongue, I issued instructions to Haruka and Szilard.

“Haruka, take out the rest of his legs while you can. Szilard, be ready to move at any moment!”

Having conveyed what needed to be said, I rushed towards the old thunder god.

I had no proof,

but I couldn’t think of any other explanation.

Dashing at top speed through the space enclosed by the coffin-like structures.

Ah, enough of this…

“I’ve had it waiting for you, you bastard!”

A dull crack ran across the beast’s lower abdomen.

The outer shell of Keraunos began to crumble and fall away,

revealing an expanding hole in his belly.

And from that hole, a petite girl tumbled out.

A silver-haired girl

with crimson eyes and twin tails.

There was no mistaking it –

the one who emerged from the beast was none other than our own gunner, Jupiter.

“Jupiter!”

Catching the girl just before she hit the ground, I called out her name.

For a moment, she blinked rapidly, but then slowly looked up at me, understanding dawning in her eyes.

“I’m back.”

“Welcome back.”

“I’m home.”

Forcibly holding back the tears welling up, I hurriedly moved away from the old thunder god’s vicinity.

It was just a beat later that his roar thundered out.

“AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

The sheer volume of the roar was record-breaking.

No wonder –

for him, this situation was akin to his dear Jupiter being manipulated by bad companions and then beating him up before leaving home. Of course he’d throw a massive tantrum.

Not that I feel bad for him. In fact, from here on out, he’s going to get beaten up by those same “bad companions.”

“For now, let’s fall back to Szilard’s position. We need to hurry, so hold on tight.”

“Okay.”

Confirming the silver-haired girl’s nod, I sprinted at full speed across the bleached floor, shouting:

“Szilard, please unleash your maximum thermal art! Haruka, fall back immediately! I’m heading to hand off Jupiter!”

My companions sprang into action.

Thermal beams of an unprecedented scale tore across the battlefield.

Haruka moved towards the exit with a face on the verge of tears.

The players are in position.

The situation is set.

The long hunt for the old man is about to reach its final stage.

“Let’s give it our all, Jupiter.”

“We’ll definitely win.”

Snorting in determination, the two of us glared at the beast behind us.

Brace yourself, Keraunos.

The constraints are gone now.

From here on, it’s an all-out fight to the death.


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