I had left the battle to the Blademaster, Calimero, to head for the Republic of Sondoze. By now, there were only three dragons accompanying me.
I glanced backward. I could sense the intensifying magic power of Fiorfata, and I could hear the rumbling explosions behind me.
Was Calimero still fighting? Or had he already fallen…?
“What troubleth thee, Dark Mistress?” The gold dragon asked.
“…nothing.” I shook my head.
I’d had some history with Calimero, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t wish him well. Even if he couldn’t win, I also couldn’t imagine him losing very easily. I looked forward, focusing on our journey ahead.
Suddenly, the World Tree sent another white magic stone into my hand.
Judging from how it felt, this was… the Sapling at Swantol Kingdom? The large country several thousand kilometers to my west. I didn’t know who did it, but they would probably head for the small country of Xantecinq to the east of Swantol next. In that case, should I meet up with them and head for Xantecinq together after I finished with Sondoze?
…no. If Fiorfata caught up, both Xantecinq’s people and my allies might just be wiped out.
What should I do? Do I leave this continent to them? That would probably be the path of least casualty. However, this conflict was supposed to be concluded with me asserting myself as the Evil of this world. A part of me was reluctant to get others involved.
“Dark Mistress! My brethren hath sent me a telepathic message. Flying ships of human are coming from the Central Continent!” The gold dragon said, worry and nervousness lacing his voice.
I immediately contacted the World Tree. Images of a far-off fleet of over a dozen flying battleships crossing the ocean were sent to me from the new Sapling of Quanneuf, a country near the sea.
Judging from the angle, they were coming right for us.
Hopefully the fleet was aiming for Fiorfata. Considering how they’d attacked the dragons, though, they might still decide to focus on me and my helpers once they arrived instead.
“Change of plans! We’ll leave the Saplings of this continent to our allies while I head for the fleet!”
“Shalt thou fight?”
“…I’ll check out their intentions first.”
I had made a decision to destroy the rampant civilization of humans. But if these people really understood the threat the world was facing, if they really were fighting for the world instead of for their own selfishness… then I would want to see if they were sincere.
The dragons told me they’d follow, seemingly thinking it’d come to a fight. They should have been near their limits by now, with how much flying they’d done… really, so stubborn.
We changed our course to head for the Central Continent.
Both the airships and the dragons could fly as fast as a passenger plane of Earth, so I expected we’d come in contact with the human fleet in this continent.
I sensed Fiorfata’s magic signal chasing us just as we changed our direction… the Demon Lord was about thirty minutes away from us, it seemed. Not that far, but not close enough for it to attack us directly either.
On Yggdrasia, the sun rose in the east and set in the west just like Earth. We’d been flying all the way west from the Western Continent, and it was under the still-bright sky that I saw the fleet of over a dozen ships slightly to our south.
“Dark Mistress, the humans are attacking someone!”
I could hear faint sounds of magical artillery now. The place I saw far off in the distance should be Swantol Kingdom, the country that had just lost its Sapling a short time ago, but the fleet was shelling the town from some distance away.
My breath hitched the moment I saw what they were shooting at.
Human refugees. And protecting them was the demihuman resistance. I jumped from the dragon’s back, using teleportation to get there as fast as I could.
I created a space of extreme cold, targeting the center of the fleet the moment they entered my range. My attack didn’t directly hit any ship, but it had caused a turbulence, forcing the fleet to stop shooting as they stabilized themselves. I continued flying, ignoring them, and I landed next to the demihuman resistance.
“What’s going on? Why are the humans shooting refugees?”
One of the elves was about to answer, a wince on his face, but he was interrupted by another voice coming from a pair of silhouettes, one large, one small.
“They claimed that they were only attacking the resistance,” said the smaller one, a girl.
She was one half of the twin elves I’d rescued at the auction back then. Beside her wasn’t her brother, but instead someone I knew very well.
“…it’s me. It’s been a while, Dark Lady.”
He was the human Hero who’d stayed until the end to fight for the people. He was… Gold, right? Considering he was with the demihuman resistance, he must have found his own truth.
But this was no time for contemplation.
“Are they shooting the refugees because they’re staying with you?”
“…yes. We’d implored them to take in the refugees, but then they suddenly began shooting at all of us, even the townspeople.” Gold replied.
“They said everyone here were resistance, with no exceptions.” The elven girl said.
So the top brass of humans were all like that, then…
“I’ll deal with the human fleet. Meanwhile, you should run into the forest.” I said.
“Are you going to fight by yourself…? Absurd! I’m going with you!” Gold said heatedly, stepping forward with a hand on his sword just as I thought he would.
I put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.
“Fiorfata is coming here in about thirty minutes. You understand, right? Get away from here, now.”
“…got it.” Gold relented, feeling the power disparity between him and me. With just a single one of my hands, he hadn’t been able to move an inch before I released him.
The fleet far off in the sky had regained their balance. They were about to resume their bombardment.
I turned myself into mist and flew upward to attract their attention. Once I made sure their cannons were aimed at me, I used teleportation to approach the fleet. I tore apart the barrier covering the largest airship and broke into the ship’s bridge.
A fearful commotion broke out among the crew members. An elderly man, likely the captain, shouted at them.
“Stop panicking! Lower your weapons!” He ordered and stepped toward me. “I am admiral Rhodon of Quinze Kingdom, and I’m in charge of this fleet. Might you be the Dark Lady?”
“…yes, I am.”
He seemed like such a calm, gentle man.
Why was he shooting at the refugees, his fellow humans? Was he really the man who’d given the order? I’d stormed the ship with full intention to kill, but the admiral had not been what I expected at all, and before I knew it, I was already listening to him. Rhodon shook his head with a pained look on his face.
“You must have come here to condemn my decision. But I had no choice. There was no way to know if there were demihumans hiding among the refugees, and if I take them in, I risk our ships being sabotaged. We wouldn’t be able to fight the Unseelie Lord then.”
We were silent for a moment as I gathered my thoughts. They were prepared to make their own sacrifices for the sake of the world, was that it? Was that what he was saying?
“You don’t have to worry about Fiorfata, I’ll deal with it. You just take the refugees. I’ll talk to the demihumans.” I offered.
“Oooh, that would be wonderful. Let us save lives, then. It is, after all, our true duty.”
Rhodon smiled the smile of a gentle old man and nodded profusely.
…was it true? Had they really come here to protect the world, nothing else?
“Then get the refugees on your ships and get away. Fiorfata’s coming soon.”
I left the bridge to go to the ship’s deck, and from there, I jumped on the back of the white dragon who’d come to pick me up.
But just as I landed on their back, the white dragon suddenly twisted their body to cover me, and not a moment too soon. A terrible impact blew us away.
“Gah!” I coughed, regaining my vision and my balance in the air. The first thing I saw was the body of the white dragon falling toward the ground. They were already dead.
The bombardment continued. The gold dragon and another dragon flew to cover me with their own bodies.
What just happened?!
I turned to look at the battleship. Rhodon was still looking at me with that same gentle smile.
But when I focused my eyes to look, for a single moment, his face blurred to instead reveal a gross smirk.
“A Child of God…?”
He must have been one of those Children of God, like Tiz, those who possessed a special ability. Something that could make others believe in him, or maybe to hide his true thoughts… damn him.
The gold dragon was still alive, but not for long. His voice reached my ears as I was about to lose myself to my anger.
“No! I’m sorry, if I hadn’t—”
“…do not… be swept by the malice of humans… do not lose sight of thy goal…”
“…I got it.”
The dragons had all died protecting me.
Do not lose sight of my goal… to protect the world? But it had been my fault… you died because I was careless…
…I understand. I won’t forget… I’m sorry, gold dragon, I won’t hesitate any more… so let me be angry for you, just this one time.
Right then, a hail of magical artillery rained down upon me. My magic power slowly decreased from the damage.
…but something inside of me clicked, and suddenly, my mana reserve shot up.
I raised my right hand. All the projectiles gathered there as though being sucked in by a black hole, transforming into a massive ball of energy.
I wouldn’t hesitate any more.
I threw the energy ball back. Rhodon’s face twitched, and the large battleship was disintegrated in a blink of an eye.[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 50] ・The demon of Laplace. One who had ascended beyond an Archdemon. [Magic Points: 107,500/172,000] 3,000↑ [Total Combat Power: 124,400/189,200] 3,300↑ [Unique Skill: