Urushi’s attack functioned as the finishing blow; Rynford was deprived of his life force and left only the ability to voice one final hateful cry before passing away. His body promptly reacted to his passing. His flesh began peeling off his muscles and his corpse rapidly decomposed into a fine ash.
His end was abrupt, so abrupt, in fact, that it almost seemed underwhelming.
Urushi popped out from the shadows as Rynford’s remains continued to degrade. The combination of his pain filled whimper and the blood dripping from his mouth indicated that something wasn’t quite right.
『What happened boy? You alright?』
We quickly peeked into his maw and found the source of his pain. The large wolf’s fangs were in a sorry state. Ever last bit of his jaw seemed to have been suspect to some sort of damage. Worst of all were his canines, which had been torn out altogether. Their now empty sockets had even started to hemorrhage.
Despite all the damages incurred, I couldn’t really say I was even the slightest bit surprised. The attack Fran and I had used was one that came with enough drawbacks to completely wreck my blade. Urushi had copied us, so it only made sense for something similar to happen to his fangs.
『Don’t be pushing yourself too hard now, alright?』
「But, actions performed were cool.」
I quickly patched him up by throwing a few heals at him.
〈Fran has leveled up.〉
〈Fran has leveled…〉
The battle had ended, so the System Announcer chimed in with a few notifications.
Rynford had been worth a tonne of experience. Fran managed to gain three levels; she hit level forty despite the fact that the exp had ended up getting split nine ways.
Species: Beastman (Black Cat Tribe)
Job: Magic Warrior
Status Level: 40/45
Espionage: Lv 3
Court Etiquette: Lv 4
Presence Detection: Lv 4
Sword Techniques: Lv 5
Sword Arts: Lv 6
Blink: Lv 3
Fire Magic: Lv 2
Cooking: Lv 2
New: Evil Killer
New: Evil Resistance
Black Cat’s Divine Protection
Match for a Thousand
Lord of Dismantling
Recovery Magic Adept
She who Slaughters
King of Cooking
New: Evil Killer
Black Cat Set (Body Armour, Gloves, Shoes, Earring, Cloak, Belt)
Power Bracelet + 1
Bracelet of Substitution
The Evil Resistance skill looked like it was something that’d resulting from all the damage she’d just taken. Her new title was pretty interesting as well. Appraising it ended up giving me the following results.
Evil Killer: A title bestowed upon those that have felled Evil Beings.
Effect: Grants the user the “Evil Killer” skill.
It seemed to be the type of title you got from killing some sort of super strong enemy as opposed to just killing a certain number of weaker enemies.
More importantly was the fact that she was about to hit her level cap. Thinking about what would happen filled me with curiosity. I couldn’t wait.
Naturally, Fran wasn’t the only one to level up. The same had happened to Urushi.
Species: Darkness Wolf (Magic Wolf (Magic Beast))
Status Level: 22/50
Darkness Resistance: Lv 8
Darkness Magic: Lv 3
Sense of Smell: MAX
Espionage: Lv 7
Fang Techniques: Lv 6
Fang Arts: Lv 6
Shadow Dwell: MAX
Shadow Travel: Lv 6
Air Jump: Lv 8
Fear: Lv 4
Vigilance: Lv 6
Presence Concealment: Lv 6
Regeneration: Lv 5
Deadly Poison Magic: Lv 1
Blink: Lv 5
Muffle: Lv 6
Spirit Magic: Lv 5
Life Force Detection: Lv 7
Resistance to Mental Abnormalities: Lv 6
Poison Magic: MAX
Echolocation: Lv 7
Roar: Lv 8
Shadow Slip: MAX
Dark Magic: MAX
Greater Poison Fang
Automatic HP Recovery
Automatic MP Recovery
Immune to Poison
New: Evil Detection
New: Evil Resistance
Kin to the Sword
Kin to the God of Wolves
Looked like Urushi had managed to get himself a pair of new skills too. Wait, Evil Resistance? I don’t recall him taking nearly as much damage as Fran… Hmm… I guess it was probably because of Prey Absorption. The skill would let him absorb a portion of the abilities of anything he ate, and I guess he did technically ingest Rynford’s flesh and blood when he finished him off, so that’s probably where he got that.
There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with him, but would it perhaps be better to have him not eat Evil Beings from now on?
『Alright, that’s done and over with, so we should probably be going after Zerais now.』
The only issue was that we had absolutely no idea where he was. I really wish we’d managed to get Rynford to tell us or somet- Oh wait. We could probably just get it out of that Zerrosreed guy instead.
『Or… not? Where’d he go?』
「Huh? Oh! Darn it! The Berserker got away!」
Amanda had overheard Fran’s muttering, so she ended up giving the surroundings a quick once over that ultimately culminated in a frustrated shout.
When the hell? Didn’t he literally just try finishing Rynford off?
「It looks like he might have the Anti-Perception skill…」
「Oh, I see him! He’s right over there!」
The spot Amanda was pointing to was about fifty meters from where we were. Holy crap, when the hell did he leave…?
「The last hit should’ve been mine! I could’ve gotten my hands on a good chunk of that shitty old geezer’s power! Everything would’ve gone perfectly if not for that god damned meddling dog! Fuck this, I’m out!」
「You won’t be getting away!」
Colbert immediately dashed after Zerrosreed, but the berserker had been one step ahead of him.
「Hahaha! Zerais’s up in the Alchemist’s Guild if you need him, by the way, so goodbye to you!」
「Huh? He teleported?」
As evidenced by Amanda’s surprised response, Zerrosreed had teleported himself away. Appearance wise, it looked pretty much identical to the stuff I could use. Rynford did something similar just a bit earlier as well, so my guess was that it was the effect of some sort of skill derived from the Evil Arts. Neither Zerrosreed nor Rynford seemed to have been able to use the skill on more than one occasion though, so it probably had a few constraints on it or something.
「Tsk. I should’ve expected as much from someone with such a big bounty on his head, but he sure is good at running away. I’ll definitely get him next time!」
It looked like he managed to escape, but I figured we could still get him if we had everyone give us a hand. That said though, I decided to put the idea aside for the time being as capturing Zerais was much more important. We had no idea as to whether or not Zerrosreed was telling the truth, but he did already have a pretty good track record as far as betrayal went, so chances were that he was. Having some of us split off to go after Zerais served in his favour, so there was all the more reason for him not to lie.
「The air still gives off a sense of evil…」
Forrund’s words momentarily cleared my mind of all my thoughts regarding Zerais and Zerrosreed, and reminded me of the Evil Crystals Rynford had been using. I didn’t really know if they’d cause anything bad to happen without any outside fluence, but it probably wasn’t a good idea to just leave them be anyways.
「Might still be here. Evil Crystals.」
「What Evil Crystals?」
Fran quickly answered the Guildmaster and began talking about the crystals Rynford had been using. Her explanation immediately led everyone around her to turn pale and immediately start digging through the temple’s debris.
Charlotte played a pretty key role. Apparently, she was fairly sharp as far as evil energies were concerned, so she managed to find both crystals almost immediately. They were buried under a bunch of other stuff, but Gamud was pretty good at earth magic, so he managed to get them out in a jiffy.
「So these are the Evil Crystals you were talking about…」
「Evil energies thinner?」
Fran had been on point. The Evil Crystals were giving off much less energy that they’d been prior to Rynford’s transformation.
「You said that these were placed within the temple’s grounds?」
「Nn. Rynford performed ritual.」
「Have you figured anything out, Charlotte?」
「I’m not too confident in my theory’s correctness, but…」
According to Charlotte, temples effectively functioned to allow communication with the Divine Realm in which the Gods resided. Oracles and other similar individuals could use the connection in order to create a path, which in turn was used for job changes and the like. A job change in particular involved making use of the Divine Realm’s axioms in order to overwrite the data that pertained to one’s job.
The paths were governed over by the Gods themselves, so it was impossible for normal human beings to use them as they pleased.
Charlotte had deduced that the Evil Crystals had the ability to warp said path, and instead direct it towards the sealed off Evil God.
A few of the people that’d fought with us, Colbert included, immediately voiced their objections, but they were quickly overruled by Amanda and Gamud, who stated that it could be possible. Very little was known about the Evil God’s powers, and thus, warping the path could potentially fall within the realm of the Evil God’s capabilities.
Apparently, the Evil God had been split into a great number of smaller pieces upon its defeat. The core in particular had been taken into the Divine Realm, where it was placed under surveillance. We had no real way of confirming whether or not that was actually truth, but we assumed it was as that was what the legends said.
Either way, we decided to destroy the Evil Crystals. They probably wouldn’t see any decent use even if we did just leave them here, and not a single one of the individuals presented objected to the idea, so we had everyone join in and quickly smashed the crystals to bits.
Alright, that’s another task done. All that’s left for us to do now is hunt down Zerais.
「Amanda. Need help with something.」
「Sure, what is it?」
「Can request anything? No objections?」
「There’s no way I’d turn you of all people down, Fran. So, out with it. What did you need me to do?」
Luckily, Amanda was more than willing to cooperate, so we quickly told her and everyone else about Zerais. Specifically, we explained that he was the mastermind behind all this, that he was still at large, and that he still seemed to be up to something.
「I am surprised to hear that Zerais has yet to leave the city… I shall make good use of this opportunity and pay him back in full force for involving my brothers in his schemes.」
「I hadn’t heard his name in quite some time. I’d assumed that he’d already dropped dead.」
「We may be able to encounter the Berserker should we track him down.」
「I’m going to have to give those baddies a bit of punishment for the children’s sake.」
It seemed that everyone was willing and ready give solving this whole case a go, so we had Colbert, the person most familiar with the city’s layout, lead us over the Alchemist’s guild. The party we moved with was one of extraordinary strength. With them around, taking Zerais in would be easy as pie.