The blades of the wraiths shot through it, and it dispersed, then cracks appeared on his arms.
His fingertips shattered, but with all the malice that filled Gulde, they grew back on their own.
What grew back were not the same bones that shattered but a new bone hand.
That was not the regenerative power of an undead, but the forceful regeneration of overflowing resentment.
Something was strange. But by the time he felt that, his volume had already increased by three times, and cracks appeared all over his body. In the next moment, his body shattered and regenerated.
“Ku, what’s!? Just, what, is… Gu, oo!”
Both of his tibia cracked and rolled over into the mountain of swords.
He tried to get up, but his humerus popped off, then amidst his confusion, his two legs recovered, and he was forced back up.
His lower jawbone shattered and regenerated many times too, making it hard for him to speak.
He was moving like a terrible singer and dancer atop the sword mountain.
“W-What, is, happening, gyaah!?”
Why was his body destroying and regenerating itself? It didn’t hurt, but he had no control over his own body.
To an undead such as he, his body was just a way for him to interact with others.
But having his bones break and regenerate on their own was not what he wanted.
If anything, it felt as though his soul within was being thrown around, and this situation irritated him to no end.
“Just what is happening!?”
“Fu fu fu fu.”
Laughter resounded. It was quieter than his shattering bones, but for some reason, he could hear its scorn loud and clear, and it drew his attention.
That crescent moon smile was back on the boy’s face.
Gulde gulped. And all that happiness akin to intoxication and even his irritation fizzled out all at once, and Gulde remembered.
The words that this boy told him before all of this started happening.
‘I see, you don’t want to disappear… In that case, do your best.’
Was he not implying that he would disappear if he didn’t do his best?
Gulde turned his attention to himself and chills crawled down his back as he saw clearly for himself what was wrong.
“D-Don’t tell me… Are you trying to destroy me, a lich lord, by crushing me with hate!?”
But the boy didn’t answer and just continued to smile at him.
However, there could be no other reason here than that. The true body of the undead was the soul itself.
And the sustenance of that soul that had been transformed from a human’s soul was malice.
His power had certainly grown from the pure hatred and lamentation that poured into him.
He could even feel his existence continuing to evolve.
It had nothing to do with his skills, the capacity of his soul, or his skills in the dark arts, his power just grew on its own.
But while he could feel his soul growing stronger just like his bones, Gulde couldn’t help but find this situation similar to pouring water endlessly into a skin bag.
“Impossible, this is impossible!”
“You didn’t study properly, that’s why it’s turning out like this.”
The boy scolded him like a parent would his child for being idle.
Hate was continuously being poured into him regardless of his ability to contain or control it.
『Unforgivable! Unforgivable! Unforgivable!』
『You said you would help me!』
『Why!? Why!? Why!? Why!?』
But the wraiths were ignorant of Gulde’s situation, and they continued to pour their hate and grief into him.
There were so many of them, but their numbers only continued to increase along with their grudge.
“Guah, o, OOOo! Stop it already, I can’t take anymore!!”
For the first time in a long while, Gulde felt full, and his stomach felt like it would burst open.
Yet the wraiths didn’t care and continued to feed him.
Unfortunately for Gulde, a lich lord’s soul could not stop absorbing their hate, for it was just like breathing to their kind.
That’s why he begged the boy to let him off, but the boy just shrugged, as though to say he already wasn’t doing anything.
“…Sorry but, I haven’t been controlling them from the start. I just turned the residual grudges that clung to you into wraiths so that they could interfere with you…”
Without the slightest hint of guilt, the boy simply said that he could no longer do anything about the situation.
But of course, the smile on him suggested that he’d originally intended to drive Gulde into a corner by doing so.
“Ah, agah!! Damn it, this can’t be! Leave me alone! I can’t take any more! It’s too thick! There’s too many! I can’t digest everything! To think that a lich lord like myself would be crushed by hate, ugoooo!?!”
It was atop many grudges and corpses that the undead and the lich lord were born.
That was their source, and they were also the fuel that drove them, but now, Gulde was about to meet his end by the very same thing that began him.
The irrationality of it all made him shriek, during which the balance between destruction and regeneration broke, and the latter could no longer keep up with the destruction coming from within.
That was because the lich lord’s soul had already expanded to its limits.
By this point, it finally occurred to him what was causing his bones to grow.
His bones were growing to accommodate the rapid increase in his soul’s size.
But even that desperate measure reached its limits.
『Receive your punishment!!』
“Please stop —Ogahhh!? It won’t fit, no, please stop, i-it hurts!!”
『Suffer like we suffered!!』
Before the bottomless grudge of the wraith, his
“Ah, gah, gu… GAHHH!! M-My body is, ah, uwaah ah ah ah ah ah!!”
With a desperate cry, his innate bones, which had been with him for 300 years, shattered abruptly, and even the bone fragments turned to sand and scattered in the wind.
“…Is it over?”
“Can you stop it with the flags? Seriously, he might just start laughing. Well… it doesn’t look like they’re planning on letting him off, though.”
One of the maids muttered, and the boy said that in response.
At the end of his gaze was Gulde being repeatedly penetrated in the air by the wraiths.
Even now, the grudge of his victims were continuing to pour into him.
“You want to abandon your vessel to run away? Naive, too naive… Have you forgotten that those blades have penetrated your soul itself? Besides──”
A finger snapped, and in the next moment, that reflected on everyone’s eyes.
Floating there was an hair-raising skull formed by the power of a dark soul.
It was easily as big as three people’s, striking fear into those who saw it, but having been penetrated by several layers of vengeful blades, that soul was surely screaming in agony.
“O, OOOo! Stop it, I’ll disappear! I, a man fit to be king, am going, to be crushed! I’m going to disappear!!”
『Taste the pain we tasted!!』
『Disappear from this world!!』
“Evidently, their hate has yet to be quelled. Well? Wasn’t this a feast to you? Go on then. Feast until you disappear.”
A mocking laugh resounded from the depths of the boy’s throat.
And despite having no strength left to pay him attention, that tormented Gulde’s heart.
He had already reached his limits. Even if he used all the knowledge and power he possessed, he couldn’t accept any more resentment than this.
Even if he endured, it was only a matter of time now, and just like before, his soul would burst.
Despite that, despite being in that state…
“Oo, why! Why would someone as capable as you aim for someone the likes of me!?”
A questioning voice rose from Gulde.
Was it because he realized there was no saving him? Was it because of his pursuit of knowledge? Or was it because the boy had given too much thought on how to torment him?
Whatever the reason, this calamity had targeted him, so he wanted an answer, but…
A fiendish smile surfaced on the boy as though he had been waiting for that question.
For a moment, Gulde, who was being crushed by vast amounts of hatred, forgot his plight and cowered.
It dawned on him that perhaps that was not a question that he should have asked, and he trembled despite his lack of body.
“Sure, I’ll tell you why. A reason so sad it would make any all all who hear it cry, yes… The reason I’m doing this is because—”
The boy could see the fear written all over him, but he still casually answered him.
For a moment, Gulde felt as though the crescent moon smile on the boy had grown sharp enough to penetrate even his fear.
And as though to prove that, the words said next resounded loud and clear.
“────────I needed some stress relief.”
By the way, I picked up another series. It’s a murder mystery novel. Please do check it out as well.