Leguna's vision slowly cleared up. He felt the pain of being burned from every nerve cell in the body. He took a cold breath before breathing rapidly all of a sudden, trying to relieve the pain with the influx of air. However, even the air he breathed in was uncomfortably hot.
It took him a full five to six minutes to get used to the pain. It only occurred to him to get up and inspect the surroundings. Some unknown amount of time ago, he used Host of Darkness up to the ninth stage. After releasing that power, he felt that his will was being suppressed by some other power, so he fell into slumber unconsciously. Instead of slumber, it was more like he lost control just like the time when he had uncontrollable bloodlust. Now, he had finally regained clarity.
"Awake now? Hack, hack…" rang a voice not far away.
Leguna was shocked to hear Nidhogg's voice. But when he turned around, he was surprised to find the magus at his last breath. All four of his limbs were slashed clean off. He looked so haggard that he was almost unrecognizable from before, but his expression seemed oddly calm.
"What happened?" He had even more questions he didn't dare to ask. However, he couldn't be bothered to. He didn't even care about the fact that Nidhogg was still alive. He looked around frantically and the terror in his heart grew. The nearby trees had been completely uprooted. Had they not fallen further away in the distance, he would've wondered whether he was still in the wood of the magic academy at all.
If that was the state of the battlefield, what had happened to anyone nearby? Where was Annie, Leybecca, Lisana and Myr? What had happened to them?
"If you're looking for those few girls, they're there. Turn behind you seven o'clock," Nidhogg kindly reminded.
He gave him an odd glance, but he didn't seem to be a threat at all, being completely immobilized. He turned to see and thanked the heavens to see Annelotte peacefully lying on the ground. Beside her was Myr, Lisana, as well as Leybecca's charred body.
Leguna felt the rage in him burn once more after seeing her corpse. He looked at the longsword in his hands and stepped towards him. While he didn't know what had happened, since Nidhogg was no longer able to fight, he would end it all. As for Soulslay, who didn't show up till the very end, he couldn't care less!
After taking only two steps, he felt strong dizziness. His wounds had been quite serious too, and if he wasn't treated soon, he might be in danger of losing his life. He had mustered all his will to make his way towards Nidhogg. He wanted to end it all, end this terrifying nightmare. As long as he could make it there… and pierce the sword in his heart… as long as he could do that…
Even though the two of them were only some ten meters apart, Leguna spent a whole minute closing that distance. His body was on the brink of collapse, but he couldn't fall, not before he ended all this. He couldn't let Myr and Leybecca's sacrifice be in vain. And the surviving Annelotte needed him. He had to go there to settle it once and for all.
"Won't you let me say something?" he asked, seeing Leguna taking one step after another towards him.
Leguna finally made his way there. He gave him a look and pierced his sword through his heart. He was no fool. The countless novels he read taught him one thing was for certain: villain comebacks always start with a monologue, so he didn't want to waste words with Nidhogg.
The magus squirmed from the pain, but his expression seemed tranquil as ever. "Actually, would you believe me if I said I was wrongly accused?"
"Aren't you the one who ushered in the Tide of Death?" Leguna asked after seeing blood spurt out of his heart nonstop.
"No, I was referring to the incident twenty years ago," he said. Even though his heart was punctured, it seemed that he had quite the tough constitution. He looked at Leguna and asked, "What say you join up with me and destroy Hocke? You still have a chance now."
"Fool!" Leguna sat down on the ground. He was at his limits and couldn't be bothered to even talk it out. Breathing alone was a challenging enough task for him.
"What a shame." Nidhogg didn't sound surprised at all to hear the answer, despite his words. "You missed your final chance. Do you care about those girls a lot?"
"Yeah, I do." Leguna slowly slumped and laid on the ground. Though Nidhogg's words were rather provocative, he couldn't bother. He couldn't live longer than another minute anyway.
"Then, let me show you the truth of this world. I hope you can still call me a fool after seeing all of it," he muttered, seemingly to himself.
Leguna didn't overthink it and quietly awaited Nidhogg's death.
Some ten seconds later, he felt something was off. Nidhogg had been muttering softly under his breath the whole time. He had thought that it was merely his death rambles, but now, he thought differently. He could feel the movement of mana around him. While he was quite ignorant when it came to matters of magic, a high-order assassin like him could sense a huge wave of mana like that, no matter how insensitive he was towards it.
"What are you doing?!" He scrambled to crawl up and was shocked at what he saw. In a few short seconds, the fair and elegant young man had turned into a withered old man.
"Gaaaaaaaaagh!" he yelled with his last breath, before his body started to disintegrate at a speed visible to the naked eye. In three short seconds, Nidhogg turned into a completely lifeless husk. The huge mana waves stopped and left the wood in complete silence. The spell he seemed to have used didn't cause any large explosion, nor did it cause anyone to moan in pain.
Leguna was breathing heavily. He checked his body all over, but the spell didn't seem to have affected him at all.
'Do you care about those girls a lot?'
Those words floated in his mind, followed by the explosion of terror.
"Annie!" With energy he somehow still had, he broke into a run despite being barely able to walk before. Annelotte was only 200 meters away from him. However, even when he dashed to her side, she didn't move in the slightest.
He reached his shaking hand out in an attempt to feel her breathing. As if he was afraid of facing the results, he didn't dare to find out. After repeating the motion for two to three more times, he finally got his finger close enough to her, before he slumped onto the ground.
Her breathing was stable. Apart from fainting from the pain, she didn't seem to be that badly hurt. He tested Lisana's breathing and fortunately, she was fine. As for Leybecca, he could only tear up somberly beside her corpse.
Some ten minutes later, the surroundings fell silent once more. Leguna could finally be certain that Nidhogg's spell was nothing more than a final fright with no consequences. Being absolutely physically and mentally drained, he was already at his limits. He gave Leybecca one last look before collapsing.
Is the nightmare finally over? was the last thought that crossed his head. Before he shut his eyes, he saw a pair of feet approaching him. He could tell from the make of the shoes that it was Soulslay, who had remained hidden the whole time without showing up.
Leguna was correct. Soulslay had destroyed the formation powering the Tide of Death and ended the nightmare of the Chinoans, but he was wrong about one thing. His nightmare had only just begun.Previous Chapter Next Chapter