When he heard the voice of the
From the depths of his empty eye sockets, his weakened eyes of darkness searched for the boy, but he could not find him.
He tried to flee despite that, but he realized that his legs were missing.
He tried to used his hands, but he had only one arm with no fingers. It had also lost half of its mass and was much lighter, so he could not move his body as he wanted.
Despite that, he was so stricken with fear that he scratched at the earth in a vain attempt to escape.
But then his arm suddenly became heavy.
“You’re panicking too much. First of all, you should ascertain where the voice is coming from.”
As though beguiled by that voice that held neither mockery nor pity, Gulde found himself opening his normal sight.
As he tried to gather what remained of his skeleton soldiers, he realized for the first time that he could see through their sight unique to the undead, then with an expressionless face like a mask, he looked down on himself and finally realized that the boy was stepping on his arm.
“Eek, ah, gah… Ah… How… Did you do it?”
There was a part of Gulde that wanted to scream, but what came out of his lips instead was a question.
How could this boy accomplish such a feat?
It was precisely because he had seen the boy thoroughly that the question begged itself.
“I-I don’t understand. How could you accomplish such a thing!? You’re a creature even weaker than commoners! There’s no way you could have enough mana to accomplish such a thing!”
He might have been rotten and made of bones, but he was still someone who lived in pursuit of knowledge.
It was true that the slightest damage could accumulate and break through the resistance of an undead, but every one of those turrets needed mana to be deployed, and every bullet they shot needed mana. Though such consumption was trivial individually, the concept of accumulation applied here too, and the amount of mana required to pull off what the boy had accomplished was nothing short of tremendous.
As unscrupulous as the
He had used the mana residue left in the surroundings, but even that wasn’t enough to make up for the mana required by such a grand undertaking.
“…I knew your head was empty, but I see now that your eyes are too.”
The boy sighed in disbelief. Poor Gulde had been turned into such a terrible state, yet he still couldn’t put two and two together, so he lifted up that thing in his hand.
“Gulde-kun, why do you think I bothered to bring the princess with me?”
“Uu, ah… I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
Though the princess groaned out in pain at first, she started apologizing repeatedly like a broken doll.
That in itself was plenty strange, but as expected from someone who has lived for 300 years,
Gulde could tell what the boy was getting at.
“Don’t tell me… You used the princess’ mana!? But that’s impossible!”
A sly grin appeared on the boy.
There was indeed a way to transfer mana with both party’s consent, but forcefully taking a person’s mana was a technique that encroached into the realm of the dark arts and the forbidden.
Of course, Gulde knew about it, and he has used it many times himself, but mana could also be referred to as a person’s energy of life, and to take such a thing by force would leave the target in a great pain that eventually led to death.
The princess was certainly acting strange, but she did not appear to be in any pain of sort and was clearly still alive.
“Yet that’s exactly what I’ve done. This girl’s Magic Power is at S-, so the mana I used is at most 30% of her reserves.”
“And I’m saying that’s impossible! It’s precisely because of the princess’ vast reserves that multiple seals and spells have been used on her to protect her from anyone attempting such a thing! In the first place, how could you even take mana from a person without consent and not subject them to any pain!? You didn’t use any tools; you didn’t even use a magic formation! This is impossible! It goes against the rules!!”
Just what kind of method did the boy use?
Gulde scoured through all the forbidden and evil arts that he knew of, but he couldn’t find anything that resembled it.
The many spells cast on the princess were still functioning too.
The princess might have been in a trance, but it was still impossible to take away so much mana without touching those protections and without making her feel anything.
Such a feat was akin to stealing treasure from a place protected by layers of locks and solid walls without breaking any of that and without letting anyone know.
Just what kind of foul trick did he use to get his way?
“Sigh… The maids were terrible at this too, but you know… You really should make it a habit to check your opponent’s Status first. The more confident someone is in themselves, the more likely they are to be negligent of that, but it’s precisely because of that that you ended up doing something as stupid as fight me.”
The boy shook his head in dismay, while Gulde just tilted his head, wondering why he would suddenly bring up the topic of Status.
It was then…
That a woman suddenly screamed.
They turned to them slowly, and there, they saw that one of the maids had collapsed.
That maid had gone completely pale and was holding up a small card.
“Clara! What happened!?”
“H-His Status! Why? Why did we pick a fight with someone like him!?”
So great was her fear that she couldn’t even put down the card.
The other maids came running, and when they saw what was on that card, their eyes opened wide.
“No way… Skill ranked S!?”
They were stunned for a moment, but they quickly recovered themselves as they realized that that couldn’t be possible and held up their own Status Cards to measure the boy’s Status, but…
“A-Ahh… Y-You’ve got to be kidding me…”
“The other stats are all D, but… His Skill is at S… What is that!?”
As the maids screamed, what followed after was dead silence.
The air changed. The girls had been cowering until now because of his incomprehensible strength, but now that that strength was expressed in a way they could understand through Status, they looked at him with fear in their eyes and trembled.
And Gulde too came to understand that the rank the maids mentioned was neither a mistake nor fake.
Above all, it finally made sense how the boy could accomplish such a feat.
“A Skill of Rank S? …Ha, ha ha, that’s ludicrous.”
The other stats being All D did little to console Gulde at the absurdity of an S rank.
Though it was ranked similarly to the other attributes in Status, even children knew that the significance Skill held was on another level.
Rank C in Skill signified one’s adulthood, Rank B meant expertise, and Rank A meant hero class.
Beyond that were AA and AAA, then finally, S Rank, a rank that existed purely for convenience’s sake, a rank that did not appear even in legends.
Already, that was something that had transcended monsters and legends, encroaching into the realm of those creatures that existed only in myths.
A being that could only be defeated by a band of heroes equipped with powerful weapons and a winning strategy, and yet even then, only managing to find triumph through destiny, courage, and the power of plot.
On its own, the mythical creature was greater than the heroes that ultimately defeat it, and even an army of a million would find defeat should they find themselves standing before it.
Nay, this was not an opponent that could be described with concepts such as defeat and victory. Such a being was simply not something that ought to be fought.
Yes, this was a walking calamity that should be avoided at all costs.
──That was the true identity of the boy before them.