To The Final Battle
Maal was dancing.
Her arms and legs moving spiritedly, she was dancing in delight.
Something she’d seen long ago.
The cat beastkin were dancing and laughing around Ria and the others.
Something she’d seen long ago.
Maal’s figure became more distant.
“Please, take care of the children.”
Wait. It’s too soon.
She knew that they would one day have to part. However, it shouldn’t have been this soon.
It’s too soon!
Maal vanished, smiling.
And then Ria woke up.
“Oh, you woke up?”
Shizuna was there, watching over her.
“… What happened?”
Ria sat up and used the cuffs of her shirt to wipe away her tears.
“The immigration has resumed. It’s even gotten to the point that teleportation magic can be used again.”
“How long was I out?”
“Two whole days.”
Trying to stand up from the bed, Ria staggered and was caught by Shizuna.
“What’s everyone doing?”
“Everyone’s doing their jobs. I’m useless though, so I’m here.”
It was half a lie. Shizuna, having heard what happened from Ohma, stayed next to Ria’s bedside the entire time.
“… And Maal?”
Placed in a coffin, Maal was cleaned of blood and gore, making her look as if she was sleeping peacefully.
Standing beside her were her husband and children. They were engrossed with the sadness of losing a family member.
Irina, not understanding what happened too well, was staring at Maal with a vacant expression.
She pet Maal’s now-cold fur, touching the pads of her palms.
All Ria felt was sorrow.
She was still angry. However, that anger was pointed to herself.
She had made a mistake. Somewhere.
She didn’t know where or when, but she should have been able to avoid this.
“You can stay here in the court. When this is all over, we can think about the future.”
Tears overflowing and desperately trying to keep herself from breaking down, Ria looked up and spoke to the rest of Maal’s family.
“You humans are too serious. Souls will all get reincarnated eventually.”
Ohma was sincerely trying to be sympathetic. She, as a God Dragon, just couldn’t understand.
“I’ve said it before, but you’re way too impulsive, even for an impulsive person. You caused immigration to stop for a while.”
Ria’s attack had caused large-scale meteorological disasters across almost the entire planet.
When asked how many people were dead, the responses ranged from anywhere between one and two billion.
How many innocent humans… no, even things that weren’t human, just how many lives had she taken?
It was a mistake. Even if the Earth would eventually perish, instantaneous death was very different from a cruel one.
“Well, the result’s not much different anyway. It’s just needless worrying.”
Ohma’s way of thinking was something that Ria could not accept.
Her traveling companions visited Manesh’s palace.
Carlos and Lulu arrived together.
Her face buried in Carlos’ shoulder, Lulu cried silently.
Gig had a bouquet that looked very out of place for him and placed it beside Maal’s body.
Irina still kept on caressing Maal’s forehead, her face expressionless.
Serge came last, kneeling in front of the coffin with a fatigued face.
Maal’s three children still didn’t entirely understand what had happened.
Looking at their mother inside the coffin, they clung to their father.
Their final farewells given, Maal was buried.
Simultaneously with that, a terrifying sense of despondence overcame Ria.
She sat down on a chair in her office, looking up into the air.
“Ria, even if you’re sad, a ruler still has to fulfill their role.”
Guinevere spoke. She spoke of pragmatic things, not comfort.
“You can only do what is before you, after all.”
Although clumsy, Ria resumed her duties. She indifferently put the mountain of documents before her into order. However, this was a job that was suited to her.
She missed the times when could she swing her katana in order to fix her problems.
“Guinevere, where did I make a mistake…”
“… If I had to say, it would be when you decided to help those of Earth.”
Although Guinevere wasn’t much of a gentle person, unlike Ria, she could view things cool-headedly.
“If the God Dragons destroyed Earth the moment our worlds touched, then at the very least, your friend would still…”
Even if she didn’t continue, Ria still knew how the sentence would end. However, she had stopped Ars from doing it. In order to allow Earth’s humans to migrate over.
“What a horrible story…”
“Yeah, it’s a hopeless tale. But Ria, you shouldn’t have done anything. If you did… if you did cause the human-demon war, you would have decreased the number of this world’s humans. Then, among those dead humans, many may have been your friends.”
It was an increasingly hopeless tale.
“Perhaps you just have to keep what is important to you nearby…”
“What do you consider important to you?”
“My son, and this country. That’s all.”
Ria also had important people to her. The companions she’d traveled with, the people she met in her journeys, her family, and this world.
She’d seen acquaintances died many times.
There were many beastmen who were killed by Cordova’s cruelty.
Even so, none of that was comparable to this sadness.
“I’m so weak…”
Carla tried to embrace Ria, but she was refused with a gentle motion.
“Please, don’t comfort me right now.”
If she had a shoulder to lean on right now, she might not be able to get back up.
She would live, holding this feeling of loss close to her heart. If Valis’ words were true, she would live for hundreds of millions of years. Tens, hundreds of people, including everyone she knew.
She would see them off.
Ria wasn’t certain that she would be able to endure it.
Carla gripped her hand.
It was only a week until the deadline Ars had given.
Under those circumstances, Shifaka and Valis were visiting Ria.
“We have accommodated three million people on the floating continent. Considering how long we have left, that is the limit.”
Shifaka spoke in a fatigued tone. Just before this, he’d taken ten thousand humans over to this world.
Compared to that, they would save three hundred times that amount. It was hard to tell whether that was a lot or not enough.
“The prayers will fill, soon.”
Valis spoke in her usual monotone.
Did something happen? Ria was cautious.
“The gods of the Earth will awaken.”
It was something she’d heard before.
The majority of those left behind on the Earth would pray to their gods. Then, at that time, those gods would awaken.
So that they wouldn’t become a hindrance to Valis, she would destroy the Earth’s pantheon. This was a request from the God Dragons.
“The final battle is about to begin.”
It was something that Ria was good at.
Even if her opponent was a god—rather, exactly because her opponents would be gods, she would be able to finish it without any pangs from her conscience has she destroyed them in battle.
It wouldn’t be the atrocity of killing wantonly, but a death match with her life on the line.
Old and young dragons flew in the sky.
Black dragons, fire dragons, wind dragons, water dragons. They numbered well beyond ten thousand.
Following the dragons, Machine Gods descended upon the Earth.
And although few in number, so did those who could stand toe-to-toe with dragons.
In the end, only somewhere around five million people were evacuated from the Earth.
Only five million. Upwards of 99% of Earth’s humanity were destined to die.
Ria did her best and staying calm despite that fact.
Immediately next to her was Carla. Not giving Ria a greeting, she just looked at her.
A conspicuously black Machine God came from the preceding Machine Gods and stood next to Ria.
[Yo, I want to talk about something.] Ars was speaking with telepathy, so Ria returned in kind.
[Yet I don’t.] [Good, I’ll do the talking then. In the unlikely event that I die in this battle, I’d like you to rule the Demonlands.] Ria looked at the Machine God’s face in spite of herself.
[Even if I’ve civilized the Demonlands, that only holds so long as there is an absolute existence, a Demon King, ruling them. There are many hot-blooded races.] Ria couldn’t respond. Ruling the Demonlands, something far larger than even Ogress, wasn’t something that Ria could do.
[You’re the only one. You’re stronger than anyone, know the benefits of civilization, don’t discriminate based on race, and above all, are young.] Ria thought he was overestimating her too much.
[I have my hands full with Ogress as it is. You want me to manage the Demonlands as well? Give me a break.] [You wouldn’t have to do it by yourself, of course. I’ve built a bureaucratic government. I’ve told my subordinates what to do if it happens.] This man… was he trying to take advantage of Ria yet again?
[… Do you… intend on dying?] [Definitely not. I want to see mine and Ferna’s child with my own eyes. Even so, I’m thinking about contingencies. Isn’t that the duty of a ruler?] He was right.
Even Ria had informed Guinevere on what to do in the worst case scenario.
[If the Demonlands fall into disorder, so will the rest of the world. But even so, I won’t force you.]
Breaking off their conversation himself, Ars moved forward again.
Seeing Ria place her hands against her forehead, Carla moved over to her.
“Did something happen?”
“Just something troublesome. We’ll talk about it later.”
Saying that much, Ria hugged Carla.
“Carla… don’t die, okay?”
Smiling like a goddess, Carla responded as though there was nothing to worry about.
Dragons danced about Earth’s skies.
The dragons looked similar to the devils of the west. Many people dropped to their knees and prayed to their respective deities.
People’s prayers began to take shape and, born from the Earth, they appeared.
Various gods of various lands.
Existences that were simply impossible, what could only exist in legend. Those very existences now appeared.
Although those humans had no hope left, they still clung to what they could.
Following the gods’ movements, the Earth rumbled as well.
Giant earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, and thunder assaulted not the dragons flying in the sky, but rather the people on the ground.
What appeared wasn’t limited to the various pantheons’ gods.
What also appeared were the existences known as devils.
Even though they appeared, the dragons were challenged to battle.
The final battle had begun.