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I confronted Yuuki, and we began to size each other up.
And in the middle of the tense atmosphere,
「Oh yeah, I was wondering…… How did you find this place?」
He seemed to be either bold or stupid.
Who even asks this kind of question to the enemy?
「I ain’t supposed to tell you that man!」
「Ah, I guess that’s right?
I didn’t really expect an answer, and I guess Rimuru-san isn’t that gullible huh.」
Yuuki shrugged as if disappointed.
Well, he probably isn’t.
He probably kept talking, to try and find out my weaknesses.
Actually, just like Diablo said, Moss’ recon was perfect.
He had sent out both an appropriately sized dummy body, and a mini body.
It didn’t matter if the big one got found.
Rather, the plan was to let the enemy find it, and let their guard down, while the smaller clone would remain in contact without them suspecting a thing.
As one of them got found out and destroyed, the other would use that chance to get into camouflage.
Really, his abilities was excellent for this kind of work.
Now then, let’s recap.
First, the strategic victory conditions from before recovering Veldora.
1. Recover Veldora.
2. Eliminate the threat.
3. Annihilate the Imperials.
Of those, most of the work was done.
One could say operation complete. The only thing left would be the releasing (finishing off) the Emperor.
In that case, the new victory conditions,
1. Recover Chloe.
2. Finish off the Emperor.
3. Finish off Yuuki.
Would become like that.
The most important and given most priority was the task of recovering Chloe.
But as long as there were the three Wishes (Orders), I couldn’t just take her back.
Worst case, there was the option to eat Chloe and use Soul Analysis to try and find a way to break the curse……
Even with Wisdom Lord Raphael doing the Soul Analysis, there was a big risk of failure.
If possible, only after eliminating the controller = Yuuki, should I calmly start working on the curse.
In any case, I wanted to finish things before Yuuki made Chloe do anything.
Similar to Rimuru planning his bout with Yuuki, the latter also, looking at the unexpected situation, let out a sigh.
When he noticed the spy, he did anticipate something like this, but of the things he anticipated, this was the worst of the worst, and he couldn’t help but sigh.
(Geez, can’t you just leave me alone……)
In any case, he needed to do something about this.
In this situation, Yuuki’s options were limited. It was pretty bad that Vega was eliminated in an instant.
Well, Vega didn’t really matter that much……
But, ordering Chloe now would be a bad move.
Currently those stronger than Yuuki would be : Guy ・ Crimson, Milim ・ Nava, and the one in front of him, Rimuru.
There was also Demon Lord Leon ・ Cromwell to whom he had suffered defeat once, and to whom his powers were known. But he was now someone Yuuki had some chance to win against the next time.
But against this Rimuru with his unusually high growth speed, he honestly couldn’t predict anything.
If he made Chloe deal with Rimuru, in that instant she would be released.
Therefore, they would need to finish each other off. And in an ideal scenario, just before that happened, Yuuki himself would step in and steal their powers.
But failing to get the powers, he would then have to face an angered Milim.
It was good that Chloe wasn’t hostile towards him, but he was running out of options.
If he atleast had 2 wishes (orders) remaining, he could order the elimination of Rimuru now, and somehow escape……
His only saving grace was the fact that Rimuru and the rest didn’t know that he had only one remaining.
Yuuki considered putting Chloe in hiding a good decision.
Rimuru would therefore take into account the possibility of him issuing an order to Chloe, and wouldn’t be able to act carelessly.
Using that opportunity, he would somehow survive this event.
And in the worst case scenario, he would be forced to play his trump card, he expected.
(Yeah, I don’t really wanna have to do that though.)
But as he thought so, there didn’t seem to be any other means of him escaping his current trial.
The Demons working under Rimuru.
Yuuki truly understood the breadth of power of those elite Demons.
3 of those pillars had appeared.
Each, making even Demon Lords look like weak, were the very definition of danger.
(The hell. They’re too OP.)
That was his honest feeling.
He could likely have faced one of them and won, but all three at once would spell certain defeat.
Demons never obeyed those weaker than themselves. And obedience time after a summoning would be shorter, the higher their Nobility.
It was unlikely that Rimuru had summoned all three and put them under leash. That left the possibility that Rimuru had become a much higher class than them.
Yuuki was on the fine line of actually just using his trump card right now without hesitation.
(Man, I could’ve atleast made the Emperor use Armageddon (Angel Army) before Rimuru-san came……. )
As he thought so, everything changed.
And it changed for the better, for Yuuki of course.
Testarossa surveilled the surroundings, making sure there were no threats lurking about.
There were none, she determined.
Around them were the outskirts of the Imperial Capital, with no signs of human presence.
Other than a line of corpses, 100,000 soldiers who seemed to be in pain but not actually alive, there were no others.
Being wary of them without negligence, Testarossa assured Rimuru.
That they could promptly handle whatever Yuuki was planning on doing.
Being done with eliminating Vega, Carrera faced Ultima.
Releasing the Emperor was the wish entrusted to them; their contract. They had to accomplish this without fail.
Ultima would be the one to do it.
Since Rimuru had decreed so, Carrera had no complaints. That being the case, she was given the duty of eliminating Vega who had soiled her battle with Kondo.
That being done, it was only a matter of taking care of the Emperor and the mastermind.
At a glance, Yuuki, the mastermind, didn’t seem so much a “danger”. However, he exuded a presence that made her “uneasy”.
Not “danger” but yet “uneasiness”.
Carrera therefore judged Yuuki to be a genuine threat.
He could perhaps even have the might to oust her and her fellow Demons.
(I want to think that I’m just thinking too much. No, he might just be thinking of making us think like we’re thinking like that.)
It was her first encounter with the boy named Kagurazaka Yuuki.
Even so, his cunning presence that didn’t match his face had put Carrera’s instincts on top alert.
Perhaps that vigilance and observant eye was something she inherited from the ever diligent First Lieutenant Kondo.
At present, the one who was on highest alert towards Yuuki was, unmistakably, Carrera.
As for Ultima,
She faced Emperor Rudra.
Hair turned pure white. Pallid skin. He had a sickly frail presence, but the strength of his will still shined brightly in those eyes.
She faced the young Emperor who could still be called a boy.
For a while now,
「What? just what nonsense do you speak?
Kondo Tatsuya and Damrada dead?
The hell is Velgrynd even doing……
Damrada? And even Kondo Tatsuya?
…….No……. Impossible. If they’re dead, why was I even…….」(TN: fuck I’m sad again.)
He had been muttering deliriously.
The strength in his eyes began to flicker and fade, as if his heart was being reflected in them.
It was of no concern to Ultima, but seeing as he had calmed down,
「That Damrada guy asked me to kill you.
When I accepted, he’d seem to have died in peace.
Same for that Kondo guy.
He fought my fellow demon, Carrera, over there and fell valiantly.
The both of them were your underlings, so aren’t happy you’ll be joining them?」
She asked him in a carefree way.
It was her slight way of being considerate.
But those words had tremendous effects.
「I see. So they both fell with pride.
Therefore, I too shan’t allow myself to fall in disgrace.
As a Ruler of this world, I shall persevere till the very end.
I shall make Justice King Michael bend to my will!」
Clad in the Aura of his former days, the Emperor declared with his will of Nobility.
As a ruler, who lived long, and wagered the fate of the world in his Game.
Unlike before, he released the chains on his powers, and wielded the Justice King with all his might.
To go berserk, and cause the erasure of civilization; to meet the expectations of his subordinates who had sacrificed themselves.
To meet the conditions of his final decree.
His loyal subordinates had kept their word.
So in the end, he would meet his demise as the Emperor.
……. The Emperor however, didn’t realize that those thoughts were had been planted into him via Yuuki’s Thought Manipulation.
His heart weakened, his mind damaged, he never realized that he had become vulnerable to Ultimate Skills.
In addition, there was fault in his reliance on the Absolute Defense of “Castle Guard”.
Being protected from all fronts, he didn’t have experience in safeguarding his mind.
The Absolute Barrier would project from all evils as long as those swearing fealty were nearby.
But without those loyal subjects, it had no effect at all.
He had only hoped to slightly influence him…….
But Yuuki’s Thought Manipulation “Worm” had, facing no resistance, encroached the Emperor’s mind, and made Yuuki’s plans come to fruition.
In other words, Armageddon was unleashed.
Sensing danger, Ultima went into full gear.
「Oh no you don’t! “Bloody Bite” !!」(TN: Damrada’s chuuni caught on lol!)
But she was the slightest bit too late.
「Yield to my power! Armageddon Activate!!」
Using the last of his spirit, Rudra summoned the Angel Army.
Her claws were weakened by the sheer Holiness of that Skill, yet “Bloody Bite” still forced its way towards Emperor Rudra’s heart.
However, using Rudra as the key, the Gates of Heaven spread open.
Ultima’s “Bloody Bite” was nullified a single moment before reaching him.
The skies of the Imperial Capital became saturated with Holy Aura.
And thus, the Ultimate Army against Demons, The Angel Army had begun to manifest.
The circumstances flipped.
Yuuki had made the first move.
The Emperor had exceeded his expectations in moving according to his plans.
The “Worm” he had unexpectantly used showed great results; it was a happy mishap.
Rather than the “Worm”, it was most likely because the broken Emperor couldn’t resist Justice King Michael’s temptation.
The current situation could be said to be born only because the goals of Yuuki and the Justice King were one in the same.
At any rate, it was Yuuki’s move.
Was that of stealing the Ultimate Skill 『Justice King Michael』 from Emperor Rudra.
Normally, one could only attain an Ultimate Skill with a strong will. However, in Rudra’s case it was being borrowed.
Knowing this, Yuuki was determined to steal it.
Obviously, there were certain conditions. The soul needed to be expressly weakened or else it would be impossible.
Meaning, making him activate Armageddon which put him in his weakest state, it was the perfect time to plunder the Skill.
「Ahaha! Sorry Rimuru-san. I’ll be winning now!」
Yuuki activated his Ultimate Skill 『Greed King Mammon』 , and began approaching the Emperor.
Turning the tables.
Stealing his Skill and putting the Angel Army under his command.
It was the only plan that he could use to overcome the current circumstances, but then…….
He heard Rimuru mutter.
Ha-? Before even thinking of complaining, his cheek received a dizzying shock.
「Kufufufufu. Those actions are well within calculations.」
Yuuki was blown away by Diablo who had, completely erasing his presence, perfectly hidden himself.
That single attack, breaking through his multiple force fields, felt as if it was reaping his soul away.
Even then, the attack seemed to not be at full power.
After all, it was only a bare-handed strike using no weapon.
「 ―― Kpff!! The hell, there was another one……!」
At this point, his composure had all but disappeared.
Yuuki changed his expression, and laughed.
「Ku, kukuku, ahahaha ha haha ha! Gimme a break!
Really, I need one……. So you really were my worst enemy huh.
Fucking bravo Rimuru-san.
I really did want to end the world with my own hands.
I really can’t imagine myself winning against you. Not to mention, even that Demon over there――
―― You’re power is just too insane. That chill I got when we first met was right on the money.
I should have ended you then.
Did I lose my marbles somewhere? Well, doesn’t matter at all now.
No no, in fact, if you can stop me, that’d just be fate, the will of the world.
I guess will decide the rest.
I kinda liked you a bit too.
―― Honestly, we could’ve been pals you know……」
And started saying incomprehensible garbage.
Did he break from getting hit too hard? I was thinking when,
I shouted as my sense of danger went crazy.
Just then, Yuuki had made his move at a speed which I could barely follow.
And just barely, Diable faced Yuuki’s flexible serpentine attack Snake Sword, and dodged ―― failed to dodge it, removing the smile from his face.
Diablo’s abdomen suffered a light slashing damage.
「To have injured me……. It seems I had taken you lightly.」
「No please, I praise you for being able to dodge. But well―― 」
Yes, Yuuki’s goal wasn’t to injure.
It was simply having Diablo, who blocked his way to the Emperor, move out of the way.
Carrera immediately shot her gun, but the flexible Snake Sword acted like a whip and thrashed all bullets away from Yuuki.
He repelled the bullets with overlapped effects of Ultimate Skills.
He nullified Testarossa’s oncoming magic attack, and evaded Ultima’s lunge.
With a technique surpassing that of Damrada, he shifted Ultima’s center of balance and thrust his palm at her.
The sudden concentrated palm thrust sealed Ultima’s movements in an instant.
And that instant was all that was necessary.
Moving at unfathomable speeds, easily doing away with the Demons who reacted――
Yuuki reached the Emperor.
「Come, Justice King Michael!」
Yuuki’s hand made contact with Emperor Rudra.
And then, all went white.
Ordinarily, actually stealing an Ultimate Skill from its owner was impossible.
For that Skill would be born from oneself, deep from one’s soul, and would be etched into their Nucleic Heart.
The Ultimate Skill was truly personal, as opposed to Normal Skills beat into the body, or Unique Skills engraved into the outer crust of the soul.
However, Rudra’s 『Justice King Michael』 wasn’t etched into the Heart, rather, only buried into his soul, and was only under control through the strength of his will.
And now, after activating “Armageddon”, his (spirit) Energy had been vastly depleted, and using the Steal Skill ability from Yuuki’s Ultimate Skill 『Greed King Mammon』 , it was possible to plunder the skill.
The Emperor made a soundless scream.
The Skill buried into his soul was gouged out.
The unimaginable pain caused the already broken Emperor’s mind to crumble even further.
And with an expressionless face,
「With this, I just summoned the Angel Army without using any of my own Spirit Power.
There were a few mishaps, but in the end, all according to keikaku.」(TN: keikaku means plan)
And then, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, he issued orders to the Angels.
Incarnate! He commanded.
As if it was his own from the start, Yuuki showed excellent control of 『Justice King Michael』.
The Angels which flooded the skies heeded Yuuki’s orders, and to attain their bodies, began their incarnations.
However, the 100,000 prepared bodies were not enough for the 1,000,000 strong Angels.
To compensate, yes ―― innocent, uninvolved civilians, the citizens of the Capital were put forth as tribute.
Receiving such a report from Moss who was stationed at the Capital, I was infuriated.
「Yuuki, you bastard! Stop the Angels now! Don’t get unrelated civilians involved dammit!」
Yuuki, with an emotionless face, only glanced towards my yells.
As if he had no idea what he was hearing. Or rather, it was completely unbecoming of the Yuuki who always made such rich expressions while ridiculing others.
As if he had nothing at all but his objective in mind…… for comparison, it was similar to Wisdom Lord Raphael or the “Voice of the World”, an emotionless instance of personality.
―― Goodbye, Rimuru-san ――
I remembered Yuuki’s words from just now.
―― I see, Yuuki was only the outer shell……
Like the Wisdom Lord, Yuuki must have also had some kind of personality “existing” in him.
However, unlike Raphael, it was a cold, crude personality that didn’t even try to understand human emotions.
Thinking back, Yuuki’s actions were full of inconsistencies.
Even when sincerely wishing to end the world, he would hesitate and fail.
What that meant was that, inside him, there must be an unconscious “hesitation”; That, as he was acting so carefreely, there were seeds of worry and doubt under the cover.
And his final words, were his true feelings. (TN: Rimuru x Yuuki !? I’m gonna get so much flak for this…)
(You idiot…… You should have said something dammit……)
Hesitating till the very end, he made his choice.
Between, ripping up his plans and giving up on ending the world, and forcefully pulling the final trigger……
And he had pulled that trigger.
He released (the Destructive Spirit) Angra Mainyu, residing inside him.
This spirit would, without the slightest hesitation, force the end of the world. It must not be left alone.
Yuuki had now changed to something completely different; he had become a “menace” to the world.
After his quick emotionless glance at Rimuru, he immediately faced the Angels performing their possession.
And then, he ordered.
「Feast on the Seraphim, and resurrect. Kagari, Vega. 」
Kagari’s prepared corpse, and Vega’s body, whose head was smashed, beckoned by Yuuki’s words, began their rebirth.
Carrera’s “Resentment Fire” that had entrapped Vega’s soul was nullified with Yuuki’s “Eraser Shot”.
Normally the soul itself would have been eliminated, but Vega’s soul was of a special genre which, Yuuki knew, could handle substitutes.
After all, they were the ones who had created Vega.
Vega was a Battle Creature, whom Yuuki had created taking inspiration from Rimuru’s powers when they first met.
In terms of specs 『Plunder』was better than『Predate』.
『Plunder』 could attain powers of the same level as the one it took, whereas 『Predate』 only got a degraded version.
But 『Predate』had its advantages too.
This was its integration ability. It could make optimum use of the powers in its possession.
That led to the very real possibility of developing an Ultimate Skill after attaining and integrating multitudes of Skills.
This was the basis under which Vega was born.
Therefore, he could also receive substitute souls, and his body was now regenerating.
For this reason, he wasn’t affected by Carrera’s cursed bullet.
As for Kagari, she needed no explanation.
Kagari, or rather, Kazaream, the ex-Demon Lord, who held out even as a soul, believed in the success of their plan and was diligently waiting.
Knowing the true nature of Yuuki, Kagari never once doubted that he would lose.
Kagari and Vega successfully completed their resurrection.
As holy beings, who ate the Seraphim, who rivalled the strength of even Awakened Demon Lords.
Confirming both of their revivals, Yuuki now turned to me, and spoke.
「Hey, let’s play a Game.
If you can stop me, you win.
If not, you lose.
The prize for the winner will be: this world.
We start in one month.
You need not reply.
The countdown has already begun.
This is Yuuki Kagurazaka, my creator’s, final desire.」
He selfishly declared.
Continuing, he called out to Chloe who was hidden away all this time.
And issued her an order.
「Go keep Guy busy.
I don’t care if you kill him.
However, don’t let him interfere with the Game!」
Chloe came out with a sullen face, and looked like she wanted to tell me something, but only nodded to Yuuki’s order.
I too wanted to say something to her, but the timing wasn’t right.
Thinking that Yuuki would send Chloe after me was one big cause for worry.
In any case, I was very glad I didn’t have to fight Chloe here and now.
If that had happened, while I faced Chloe, the Devil Lords would have to deal with Yuuki, Vega, Kagari, and the whole Angel Army; not exactly a piece of cake.
I could call over the rest of the Demon Nobles, but the Angel Army would definitely still be troublesome.
This was, as Angra Mainyu had said, going according to Yuuki’s wish of playing a Game with me.
He had made this his last order right before releasing Angra Mainyu, very Yuuki-like.
Was it to buy time against me, or for buying time to save me, I didn’t know.
He was hesitant about ending the world, so I believe he wanted to settle everything with a game.
A very crazy-like, Yuuki-like idea.
At any rate, it was not time to fight just yet.
Even if I attacked now, it’d have not effect as Yuuki was now in possession of “Castle Guard”.
We were the ones at a disadvantage, so I’ll take this opportunity as a saving grace.
As if he had finished his work here, Yuuki took his two underlings, and the Angel Army, and teleported somewhere else.
They probably returned to the Heavens using Justice King Michael.
I wondered if you could go there with Bodied Angels, but they did do it, so yeah.
Anyway, a month remained till the game starts.
Yuuki probably needed more time to get used to the Angra Mainyu’s powers, and give time for the Angels to get adjusted into their bodies.
As for me, I too gained the time to integrate my Skills, and wait out the ascension of my subordinates.
This time was very precious.
I should contact Ruminas, Leon, and Guy, and let them know about the happenings.
Throwing another Walpurgis (Demon Lord Festival) should be a good idea, I started planning for hereafter.
The results this time were good, that was without a doubt.
I didn’t want to think my decision was wrong, but that could just be a failure caused by “self-conceit”.
Or maybe it was because I had yet again attained new powers, overcome the worst case scenario, and still ended at a good position.
Though I did have “Soul Protect”, just to be safe, I had only brought along those with Ultimate Skills to fight the mastermind.
It’s because I suspected Yuuki to be the one behind it all, and feared he might take away my subordinates.
But being wary of Yuuki was a good decision.
We were completely prepared.
Except, I didn’t think the Emperor would be broken, and would actually use Armageddon.
No ―― I had considered even that possibility not to be much of a problem.
I had somehow gained such tremendous strength that my bar for threat was raised much higher.
And also, according to Velgrynd, there was no need to worry about the angels……
That precisely was my worst mistake.
Prioritising Yuuki and ignoring the Emperor was the very reason the situation took a turn for the worse.
But still…… If everything was within expectations, we could handle it.
Unfortunately, there was one thing that was far beyond my imagination.
That was: Yuuki’s true power.
The hidden personality that could be called another Yuuki, had power far beyond my expectations.
That result was, as expected, the worst case scenario.
It was what the result of him exhausting all other options.
The Emperor’s funeral was conducted.
Among the 3 million, or rather, because a third of them were sacrificed to Angels in an unprecedented “genocide”, the remaining civilians of the Imperial Capital.
Velgrynd oversaw the event.
After being summoned by me, she cremated the corpse with her Flames of Purification.
It was a mournful event marking the end of a long lived Hero, but he was probably glad to be seen off by his sworn friend Velgrynd.
Me talking about his (Rudra’s) life would be presumptuous.
So, I won’t say anymore.
Just one thing, it was a fact that the “contract” had been fulfilled.
Thereafter, I declared my reign of the Capital, and expressed my condolences to the public.
I decreed to eliminate all insurgencies, and put priority in public peace.
Also, I contacted Krishna at Tempest, and told him to come to the Capital with an army.
He should be travelling at full speed so, it would take 5 more days.
I planned to leave the rest to Krishna.
I had planned to destroy the Empire in retaliation to the attack on Tempest, but somehow or other, had taken control of it.
But it couldn’t be helped at this point.
The Empire’s ruling party was eliminated, and only the Nobles remained.
Leaving them alone would destroy public order, and cause civil wars.
I wanted to at least abide by Rudra’s wish for the citizens’ happiness.
Not as a Demon Lord, but as one “Ex-” human.
When Krishna arrived, it came time for me to return to Tempest.
I had already put in many orders.
They must be busy preparing.
For the final battle.
―― A month had passed.
A war that engulfed the whole world broke out