AN: Repeating my previous warning, if you want to read a truly happy ending, skip this chapter.
In the very centre of Heaven, within the grand temple that bore her name, the Goddess Ilias sat atop a throne and hummed with satisfaction.
I had to intervene at the end but, on the whole, this plan was a resounding success.
Ever since the end of the Great Monster Wars, Ilias had been plagued by a growing feeling of frustration. She had failed in her goal of exterminating the parasites created by her archenemy. Moreover, said parasites had learned to put on a more benevolent façade to make humans abandon their rightful goddess. Every human who submitted to monsters felt like a personal insult to her.
But now that I've captured one of Alipheese's progeny, I can go through with this plan. No longer shall monsters run amok on my world.
It would have been… better if my hero had done as I wished. Perhaps if I had contacted him more than once, reminded him of what he should do… hmm, that may be worth remembering for the next time…
Ilias shook her head and looked around. She was in a large room constructed of pure white marble and with large windows open to the outside. More than fifty angels, of various circles, were standing attentively. If Ilias gave them an order, they would immediately rush to fulfil it to the best of their ability.
If they complained for once, that might actually make things interesting – no, now is not the time to dwell on this topic. Now I must administer punishment to a certain sinner.
Ilias held out her hands, palms facing forward, and gathered holy energy between them.
Holy energy and dark energy were the two main forms of magical energy in the universe. Dark energy was associated with the material, especially living flesh – this was the reason for monsters being so varied in form compared to the other two races. In contrast, holy energy was associated with the spiritual – with the spirit and the soul. It was the reason for angels being immortal and requiring no sustenance to live. More importantly, it allowed Ilias to summon the souls of dead humans. She normally did this to the most faithful of humans, to give them their due reward… but now she was doing this for an entirely different purpose.
The spell was complete. Ilias released the holy energy, now in the shape of a perfect sphere, causing to float forward and slowly sink. When it touched the ground, the ball burst into motes of white light, leaving behind a human man with a translucent body.
The soul of Heinrich sat up, visibly confused at his situation. He looked at his body and then his surroundings. When he caught sight of Ilias, he jumped to his feet.
"Welcome to Heaven, brave hero," Ilias said, in the maternal tone she usually used when speaking to humans. "I am the Goddess Ilias, and I have brought you to my temple."
Screaming obscenities, Heinrich charged towards Ilias, apparently intending to fight her with his bare hands. Ilias didn't even have to move a finger – with a single thought, she conjured up a region of increased gravity that pinned Heinrich to the floor. The nearby angels were angered by the attempted attack, but Ilias raised a hand to order them to stay back.
"So you weren't satisfied with starting a war and forcing me to kill the woman I loved," Heinrich said. "Fine. Do your worst."
"You dare behave in such a way before the one true Goddess?" said one of the Archangels. "Goddess Ilias, allow us to punish this so-called hero for his insolence! Twenty thousand years of rape should be appropriate!"
"No, thirty thousand!" said one of the Virtues. "We must ensure that he is broken utterly!"
"No, that is too good for him!" said a Cherub. "He killed hundreds of our kin, he does not deserve even the slightest bit of pleasure! Instead, he – "
Ilias cleared her throat, causing all of the angels to immediately fall silent.
"Really, Heinrich, do you believe that I will do something so crass as torture you?" Ilias said.
"You've been doing an excellent job of it so far," Heinrich said.
"I have brought you here simply to clear up a misunderstanding," Ilias said. "But, if it reassures you, we may talk alone."
Recognising the implicit order, the angels left the room. They were not like human servants, who would object to leaving their ruler alone with an enemy – they were fully aware of Ilias' unmatched power.
With the two of them alone, Ilias released Heinrich from his invisible restraints. Heinrich stood up and made no further attempts to attack her, though he very clearly wanted to.
"Now then, are there any questions you would like to ask me?" Ilias said. "For example, would you like to know the reason behind my recent actions?"
Heinrich said nothing, but a slight flicker of his eyes betrayed his emotions.
"As you did not refuse, I'll consider that a 'yes'," Ilias said. "First of all, I know that you are aware of the outcome of the last war – I will not dignify it with the name used by most. You are aware that my dark counterpart and her first six creations are sealed away."
"Yeah… and I was actually surprised," Heinrich said. "I've seen quite a few atrocities, but I never thought that anyone would actually be willing to do what you did."
You know nothing – you did not see the human farms, or the fall of Babylon, Ilias thought. "And you are also aware that they will be unsealed if sufficient monsters die and release their dark energy. This has forced me to stay my hand for the past few centuries. But I have not been idle – I have spent every waking moment searching for a solution."
"When other people did their best to stop you from committing genocide, you looked for a way around it," Heinrich said, shaking his head. "Now I wonder why anyone ever worshipped you."
Ilias did her best to ignore these words. "Moving on, I needed to control the release of dark energy if I wished to exterminate monsters without compromising the seal. But as a being of pure holy energy, I cannot control darkness – not directly, at least. Only monsters are capable of doing so. And while it might be possible to manipulate a lesser monster into serving me, such monsters would be far too weak to control dark energy on the scale I need. Only the descendants of Alipheese herself can do that… but I could never convince any of them to serve me."
"Then – wait, you didn't!?"
"I believe you are aware that holy magic can be used to manipulate souls?" Ilias said. "However, there is one important limitation. I, and any angel, can manipulate the souls of humans with no issue, but the souls of monsters are another matter entirely. I won't bore you with the details, but the darkness of their bodies interferes with any attempt I make."
Heinrich submitted to his anger and charged at Ilias, who restrained him in the same manner as before.
"Allow me to finish my explanation," Ilias said firmly. "A few years ago, I thought of a solution. There is nothing inherently impossible about manipulating the soul of a dark-tainted being. If I could only inject my own holy energy into a monster, I could then take its soul. It would be more difficult than taking a human's soul, but not impossible. Of course, that led to the question of how I could accomplish such a thing. I spent decades watching the world, looking for an answer… and I found you."
Heinrich continued his futile struggles. He glared at Ilias, a mixture of hatred and despair on his face.
"A human who was close to a Monster Lord – and not one of the abominable traitors, like those on Hellgondo," Ilias said. "A human who had been raised to worship me. I watched you for months, eventually deciding that you were ideal for my purposes. I sent my second daughter, Lucifina, down to the surface world to observe you from a closer perspective, then to pass you a sword and armour that I'd infused with my own power, and finally to lay the seeds of conflict. When the war began, I told Lucifina to continue following you and – if necessary – to block any attempts by the Monster Lord to contact you. Though the monsters took care of that problem by themselves, freeing up Lucifina to do additional duties. I expected you to believe that the Monster Lord had changed, become someone that you had no choice but to kill."
"I… would never… if it wasn't for you…"
"But that part of my plan failed," Ilias said. "I watched your conversation in the Monster Lord's Castle for as long as possible, hoping you would understand… but alas, you chose to shirk your duty as a human and as a hero. Thus, I implemented my backup plan… and now I have the soul of a Monster Lord, for me to shape as I please."
"That won't work!" Heinrich shouted desperately. "Alice will never do as you say!"
Ilias laughed. She had been wondering how he would react when he learned the truth… but to think he was still so deluded about the true nature of monsters…
"If you don't believe me, observe."
Ilias raised a hand, distorting the light in a small area to produce an image of a distant location. It was a simple spell, one that even the lowest of angels knew.
The image displayed Alice VIII, surrounded by the withered corpses of a dozen humans and in the process of adding another to their number. It was a scene truly fitting for one who was called "Black Alice".
"When I brought her here, she was soon able to create a new body to house her soul – such is the utility of dark energy," Ilias said. "She is now indulging in her true desires."
"No… no, it's a lie!" Heinrich shouted. "You're just – you're just making that up! You think I'll fall for an illusion!?"
"I swear, on my name as the Goddess who created the world, that what I show you is the unadulterated truth," Ilias said. "But if you do not believe me…"
Ilias stood from her throne, grasped Heinrich by one arm and teleported. Rather than the audience room of the Ilias Temple, they were now in a mansion recently built on the outskirts of Heaven. Specifically, they were in the same room that Ilias had just shown to the hero.
Alice VIII stopped her current activity and looked up. "So you've decided to talk to me again, Ilias… and look what you've brought me!"
"Alice… Alice!" Heinrich said, foolishly trying to break away from his Goddess and run towards the Monster Lord. "You… what are you…"
"Hm? Why are you talking to me like that?" Alice said, looking at the hero in a way normally reserved for vermin. "Do you think that will make me give you a less painful death? Think again. For nearly killing me, I'll make you suffer for a long time – "
Alice writhed her tentacles menacingly. Some were covered in spikes, other in digestive fluids.
"You don't… remember me?" Heinrich said weakly.
"Unfortunately, I have not brought the hero here to be your toy," Ilias said. "This was merely a demonstration for his sake. I have something else planned for him. Aside from that, have you decided to accept my proposal yet?"
"I have, it sounds like it will be quite the experience," Alice replied. "It's a small price to pay for you saving my life."
Heinrich ceased his struggling entirely.
Ilias bade farewell to Alice, teleported back to the Ilias Temple, released Heinrich and returned to her throne.
"As you can see, I did not lie," Ilias said. "What you just saw is the true nature of monsters."
Heinrich shook his head, but with far less strength than his previous attempts at denial. "That can't be her… you must have gotten someone else, to pretend to be her…"
"That is unmistakeably the former Monster Lord, Alipheese Fateburn the Eighth," Ilias said. "You should know better than anyone what her aura feels like."
"It can't be…"
"Did you truly believe that she loved you?" Ilias said. "Only my creations, humans and angels, are capable of love. Alipheese' creations are twisted abominations who can do more than simulate love, as one of their many tools to lure human men so they can breed. As you have seen, she has already abandoned you and now fornicates with others."
Heinrich could no longer reply. He held his head in his hands and trembled. Now, no one would be able to look at him and call him a hero.
"I have told you the reasons for my actions," Ilias said. "Now it is time for your punishment. I will not kill you, hand you over to my angels, or do anything else so predictable. I will seal your soul away, isolated from any other person, allowing you to spend eternity remembering and reflecting on your sins."
Ilias called for her angels to re-enter the room. She ordered some of them to fetch her a large stone. When they returned with the stone, Ilias pushed Heinrich's soul into it and inscribed his name on the surface, sealing him within.
Ilias then closed her eyes and used her clairvoyance to scan the world for a suitable site. She decided on a set of ruins in the sparsely populated eastern region of Hellgondo. Fittingly, these ruins were close to the location where the hero had slaughtered so many of her angels. She ordered another group of angels to deliver the stone to the ruins and fix it in place.
Once the issue of the fallen hero was dealt with, Ilias relaxed on her throne.
It seems that Heinrich believed that.
In her previous conversation, Ilias hadn't revealed the full truth. She had indeed collected Alice VIII's soul, and Alice VIII was now acting just like her popular reputation, but she had neglected to mention the changes she'd made to the soul in between these events. She had removed many of the Monster Lord's memories, chiefly those about her positive interactions with family, friends or her lover, and inserted new ones to make her more agreeable to Ilias' desires. The process had taken more than a month, but it had ultimately been successful.
With a Monster Lord serving me, I can finally exterminate those damned monsters. But I can't do it yet… it will take time for her to learn how to control dark energy on the scale I need. If I begin too early, I risk releasing the Six Ancestors' Great Seal and losing everything. I must be patient. I've already waited five centuries, I can wait another five if that's necessary.
Ilias then recalled the recent battle between the hero and her angels. She'd expected the first wave to defeat him without sustaining any casualties – without the spirits, he was only human, after all. Instead, more were sent in and over six hundred were killed before Lucifina finally brought him down.
It will take centuries to replenish those losses. And then there's the other humans, and the monsters… To be sure of success, I must make my angels stronger. Their main disadvantage is their lower numbers compared to the humans and monsters. Even if one angel is stronger and faster than one monster, ten monsters can surround the angel and overwhelm her with a barrage of attacks.
But if I modify the angels, somehow make them invulnerable to any attack –
Suddenly, an angel burst into the room. Ilias looked up, wondering who would be so bold as to enter unannounced, only to see that it was Eden – the third Seraph and the angel most loyal to her.
"T-Terrible news, Goddess Ilias!" Eden cried out.
Several possibilities flew through Ilias' mind – the hero escaping from his seal, the Monster Lord regaining her original personality, the Dark Goddess and Six Ancestors escaping their seal – but the answer proved to be none of them.
"It's Lucifina, she's – she's rebelled!" Eden said.
Micaela shot through the air of Heaven at a speed faster than sound.
When the lesser angels had told her what was happening, Micaela initially thought that they must have had nightmares. But the trail of burning buildings and unconscious angels was undeniable.
Micaela finally spotted her target near Heaven's Gate. However, said target passed through the gate, forcing Micaela to follow.
Now in the skies above the centre of Sentora, Micaela confronted her younger sister.
"Why are you doing this, Lucifina!?" Micaela shouted.
"Oh, you finally decided to catch up to me?" Lucifina replied. "The answer is easy: because I've had enough of that old hag!"
In one instant, Lucifina was hovering in mid-air and talking casually. In the next instant, she charged towards Micaela, sword aimed at her throat.
With skill honed by millennia of experience, Micaela deflected the sword with her spear. She was still shocked by the sudden attack from her sister.
"Have you completely lost your mind?" Micaela said. "What reason do you have to rebel?"
"If you want one reason, I'll give you five!" Lucifina said. "She keeps me from playing around as much as I want, she forces me to pretend to get along with other angels, she makes me do all the jobs she's too lazy to do, she doesn't actually care about me or anyone else and, above all else, she's a hypocrite who doesn't even have any principles!"
Lucifina accompanied each of her reasons with a vicious stab towards one of her opponent's vital points. Micaela parried them all, then produced an explosion of holy energy to knock her sister back.
"I know that you've had your grievances with Ilias!" Micaela said. "But you've kept them repressed all this time! Why are you doing this now!?"
Lucifina began firing a barrage of lasers, each powerful enough to vaporise a large boulder, forcing Micaela to devote her effort to dodging.
"You really need to ask that?" Lucifina said. "You should be the one rebelling here! You claim to love humans, so what are you doing about that Monster Lord!? The one who's eating them as we speak!"
"That's – Ilias said that she is necessary to – "
"'Ilias said this', 'Ilias said that' – think for yourself for once!" Lucifina shouted. "If she was just doing all that to get a Monster Lord killed, I'd be fine with that – but it's all to get a Monster Lord slave, and all so she can go ahead with her stupid plan to kill all monsters! I don't even like monsters and I'm still disgusted by that!"
Micaela realised that there was no way to stop Lucifina without fighting her seriously. Fortunately, they were in an uninhabited area. She ignored all of her sister's words, conjured a barrier of light to protect herself, and charged.
The two Seraphs clashed, shaking the sky with their combined might. Whenever their weapons met, they produced shockwaves that blew away the clouds and scared away any nearby animals. Whenever one fired a laser or other holy spell, the other dodged and the spell left a massive crater in the ground. And the Seraphs had incredible speed in addition to their power; they accelerated and changed directions at supersonic speeds, faster than even the hero Heinrich had ever achieved.
After twenty seconds of fighting – long enough for hundreds of blows to be exchanged – it was clear that Micaela was gaining the advantage. While they were very close to being evenly matched, Micaela had slight edges in strength, speed and skill. Slowly but surely, Lucifina was pushed back.
Of course, the rebellious angel didn't simply let the battle go as Micaela wished. When the two of them clashed weapons, Lucifina took a hand off her sword and fired a laser directly into Micaela's face. With no charging time, the laser was easily deflected by her barrier.
Instead of attacking Lucifina while she was vulnerable, Micaela retreated. She flew backwards until there were roughly fifty metres of distance between her and her sister. This proved to be the correct decision – a few seconds later, a massive sphere of blue light enveloped Lucifina, one that resembled a miniature star. When the light cleared, Lucifina was still there, unharmed.
"Aw, I really hoped you'd fall for that," Lucifina said.
"I fought alongside you in countless battles," Micaela said. "Do you truly think that I'm unaware of your Daystar?"
The second Seraph Lucifina was feared for many reasons, one of which was her ultimate technique Daystar. This involved accumulating holy energy for several seconds and then releasing it in an uncontained manner. It was powerful enough that if Micaela had been hit by it just now, she would have immediately lost the battle. And Daystar could only be dodged – if the user was struck during the charging phase, the energy would simply be released prematurely, cancelling out the attack and catching the attacker in the blast.
"Even if you know about it, you could at least let yourself be hit," Lucifina said. "Can you really call yourself my sister if you aren't willing to at least do that much?"
Micaela resisted the urge to bring her palm to her face. Her younger sister was always so infuriating…
But if she's like this, perhaps I can still talk to her.
"Lucifina, please surrender," Micaela said. "It isn't too late. I will apologise to Ilias together with you – "
Lucifina let out a long and exaggerated sigh. "So you're still going to stick with her. In that case, there's no point in this conversation."
Micaela grit her teeth. She didn't want to resort to this – even thinking about it was uncomfortable – but she had no choice.
"Lucifina, you have to give up, Ilias is too powerful to resist," Micaela said. "You know it just as much as I do. Even if you're among the most powerful beings in existence, she is far greater still."
"For once, you've raised a good point," Lucifina admitted. "And that's why I haven't tried rebelling until now. I kept silent even when Ilias brought in the Monster Lord and proved just how much of a hypocrite she is. But yesterday, when I met that little hero, I realised something."
Micaela fell silent.
"He was weaker than either of us even with the Four Spirits," Lucifina continued. "And when I killed him, he didn't have even them. He was weaker than even the weakest of angels – but he still challenged Ilias! After seeing that, how can I do anything less?"
"But Heinrich died!" Micaela retorted. "You can't do this – I'm not going to let you just throw your life away!"
Micaela gripped her spear and flew towards her sister one last time, aiming to bring her down non-lethally. Lucifina also flew towards her opponent – though Micaela wasn't sure about her intentions.
Lucifina's sword destroyed Micaela's barrier and cut her left arm – and then Micaela's spear knocked Lucifina's sword out of her hands.
There! Now I just have to –
Micaela came to an abrupt stop. Lucifina was holding a second sword and had thrust it deep into her opponent's chest.
Before Micaela could react, Lucifina withdrew the sword. Blood did not spurt from the wound – in fact, there was no wound at all. But Micaela felt her holy energy drain rapidly through the spot pierced by the sword.
"What is this?" Micaela said, having trouble even staying aloft. "What is that sword!?"
"It's the one used by the hero in his final battle," Lucifina said, holding up the weapon. "After being used to kill six hundred and sixty six angels, it took in so much energy that it gave it a new form – and an interesting new ability."
Micaela examined the sword. The blade now seemed to be composed of numerous miniature figures of angels entwined together, all with expressions of unending agony. The point consisted of a ring resembling an angel's halo, and just below this was a collection of deep purple crystals resembling eyes. The guard consisted of extended angel wings. The entire weapon was a dull grey colour, unlike the silver of the original orichalcum. In summary, it was as grotesque and impractical as a sword could be without becoming unrecognisable as a sword.
"Did the – did the angels become trapped within the sword!?" Micaela said.
"As far as I can tell, no," Lucifina said. "I think it just took on this shape because it killed so many angels. More importantly, it has the unique ability of inflicting spiritual wounds instead of physical wounds, causing the victim's energy to escape. It's what I used to take down all the others who tried to stop me."
Now that Lucifina mentioned it, Micaela realised that none of the unconscious angels she'd seen had any visible wounds.
"Anyway, I've spent enough time here," Lucifina said. "Farewell."
Lucifina returned the bizarre sword to a pocket space, then turned around and prepared to fly away.
"Wait!" Micaela called out. "You're… not going to kill me?"
Lucifina paused for a moment, muttered, "Of course not, you idiot," and left.
Micaela was too weak to follow her sister. She was forced to land near Heaven's Gate and wait until reinforcements arrived.
Five minutes later, Ilias stepped through the gate in a flash of light. She glanced at Micaela and held out a hand, instantly replenishing her lost energy and healing the cut on her arm.
"Thank you, Goddess Ilias," Micaela said, kneeling. "Unfortunately… I have failed you. I could not stop Lucifina."
"There is no need to apologise, you have fulfilled your duty," Ilias said. "You may stand."
Micaela followed this order. "Goddess Ilias, I will return to Heaven and gather a contingent of the strongest angels, and – "
"No," Ilias said. "You will return to Heaven with me and stay there. We will leave Lucifina for now."
"A-As you command, but if I may ask, why?" Micaela said.
"Lucifina left because she had accumulated too much stress," Ilias said. "It's not an uncommon phenomenon among the humans, especially among children of the nobility. I have decided to do as the humans do in this situation, to let her roam free while keeping an eye on her. I am confident that she will return after tiring of the surface world."
Micaela nodded obediently and followed Ilias back into Heaven. But her heart remained disturbed.
Lucifina might have been annoying, but she was still Micaela's sister and, along with Ilias, the only person she'd known for millions of years. Now she had gone… and her parting words were something Micaela couldn't forget, no matter how hard she tried.
Tamamo walked through the corridors of the Monster Lord's Castle. Despite her childish appearance, everyone around her treated her with a mixture of respect and awe. It was to be expected, as she was not only a nine-tailed kitsune but also the new advisor to the Monster Lord.
Two weeks had passed since Heinrich's suicidal rebellion against Ilias. It was still unclear what precisely had happened. Shortly after Heinrich left Remina Castle, there had been a massive spike in holy energy in the east of Hellgondo. Tamamo had investigated this personally but found only craters and lingering holy energy – no signs of Heinrich could be found. Then the Monster Lord's agents had reported the return of the Four Great Spirits to their abodes – though the spirits refused to speak to them. And then there was a second spike in holy energy, this time in the Navel of the World, the area at the very centre of Sentora where Heaven's Gate was located. However, one thing was clear – Heinrich was no longer in this world.
Edina was distraught. She now refused to leave Remina Castle or to speak to anyone, save the servants and her parents. There were rumours among the servants that she was pregnant with the hero's child. For now, Tamamo decided to leave her, feeling that her parents would be better suited to helping her recover.
Speaking of rumours, one that had appeared recently was the claim that Heinrich had been lifted up to Heaven by the Goddess Ilias herself, as a reward for his achievements. This seemed to have been spawned by Heinrich's unexplained disappearance and by the holy energy sensed near Heaven's Gate. This rumour had spread like wildfire and was now impossible to stop.
With all of these issues, Tamamo had decided that she could no longer remain idle. She'd done so originally to avoid provoking Ilias, but recent events showed that this was no longer a wise course of action. She had therefore approached the current Monster Lord with a proposal to become her advisor, as well as the advisor to future Monster Lords. As the only one of the Six Ancestors who was still active, she could not do anything less.
One of Tamamo's first suggestions in her new position had been to pass a new law, one prohibiting a Monster Lord from marrying a man unless he was stronger than them. This wouldn't interfere with the continuance of the line, since the Monster Lord could still take lovers. Alice IX had been confused by the suggestion initially, but then she'd realised the intended purpose: to hide the truth of Alice VIII's and Heinrich's relationship. This new law would cause people to assume that it had been passed to solve a problem faced by the previous Monster Lord, thus preventing them from ever suspecting that she had, in fact, been in love with a man stronger than her (though that had been with the help of the spirits).
These days, Tamamo had to deal with mountains of paperwork and speak with countless people. She welcomed the work as it kept her from feeling bored… and, if she was honest with herself, it helped assuage her guilt for her previous crimes.
Tamamo arrived at her office and began the day's work. An hour after she started, a human woman stepped in, one wearing travelling clothes and a blue cloak with a hood.
"Yes, what is it?" Tamamo said, glancing at the visitor.
"Come on, have you forgotten me already?" the visitor.
Tamamo recognised the voice. She immediately used magic to shut the door and stood up.
I have a few talismans under the table – but if I try fighting here, then everyone will –
"Calm down, I'm not here for a fight," Lucifina said. "And if I was, we both know that I'd win."
"You overestimate yourself, Seraph Lucifina," Tamamo said, her face twisted into a scowl.
"If it was a fight out in the open and you weren't sealed, sure, you'd have a chance," Lucifina said. "But there's all the innocent bystanders above, below and around us. And you've gotten soft now, haven't you? You would try to protect them."
Tamamo realised that she had a point. She relaxed… slightly… and observed her old enemy carefully.
"Aside from that, I knew you were like this, but I still can't believe how – how adorable you look!" Lucifina said. "You look like a little girl playing with her mother's clothes! Don't you feel stupid wearing a kimono off the shoulder when you don't even have any – "
"Why have you come here, Lucifina?" Tamamo asked sternly. "What does Ilias want?"
"Let me make things clear – I'm not working for her anymore, and I never will again," Lucifina declared.
Tamamo blinked. "You… but there's no way Ilias would – "
"She didn't, that's why I ended up having to fight with Micaela and the old hag came down to the surface briefly," Lucifina said. "Now, I'm no longer an angel of Heaven. I'm something new: a fallen angel."
"'Fallen angel'… your naming sense is as bad as ever," Tamamo said.
Lucifina shrugged. "I used to live up in Heaven, now I'm on the ground, 'fallen angel' sounds as good as anything. And if you think that's bad, how about 'Angel Halo'?"
Accompanying these words, Lucifina took out the most bizarre-looking sword Tamamo had ever seen, one that looked like numerous tiny angels melted together into a simple mass.
"This is a pretty unique weapon – basically, it inflicts spiritual wounds and can be used to subdue people without killing them," Lucifina explained. "It also used to be that little hero's sword."
"Heinrich's!?" Tamamo said. "How did you… ah. I see."
"Yeah, I killed him," Lucifina said brazenly. "I was still following Ilias' orders back then. Now, do you want the sword or not?"
Lucifina set the sword on the table.
"Aside from that, I have some interesting information about what Ilias is planning…" Lucifina said.
Tamamo listened carefully, her scowl deepening the more she heard. If she had been more proactive earlier, she might have been able to save just two more lives.
But on the other hand, Ilias would never stop even if she had failed here. She would continue searching for a way to kill us all. She would still need to be dealt with eventually…
"Anyway, that's all I know," Lucifina said. "I'll leave you to handle this, since you seem to be doing pretty well for yourself. I'm going to travel the world, see the sights and experience all the things I never got the chance to before. Oh, and I'm not going to indulge my usual hobbies, since I don't want to attract the old hag's attention, so you don't have to worry about entire villages being slaughtered overnight or anything. Don't bother trying to track me down if you need help."
"…That's reassuring," Tamamo said. "It has been pleasant speaking with you after so long, Lucifina."
"Likewise," Lucifina said with a smile. "Seeing you in this state will give me something to laugh about for years."
Lucifina moved towards the door, gave a mocking bow, and left.
Tamamo settled back into her chair. She would need to update the castle's security measures – she could not let angels simply enter here as they please. She would also need to tell the Monster Lord about this unexpected meeting. Fortunately, no one else would have eavesdropped on this – Tamamo had come up with several entirely new spells after what had happened with Heinrich.
To think that Lucifina, of all people, has changed… Though the same could be said of me. We are not so different in the number of people we've killed, Lucifina merely carried out most of hers personally. Still, I'm surprised that she was the first to rebel, instead of Micaela…
Tamamo's thoughts then turned to the issue of Ilias. It was clear that war would inevitably break out again. The Dark Goddess and five of the Six Ancestors were no longer here to fight the forces of Heaven, while the remaining Ancestor could not make full use of her power. On the other hand, Heaven had also lost one its strongest fighters as well as a large portion of its forces. Moreover, the average monster or human was considerably stronger than in the ancient era, and their numbers far greater.
There's a chance we could win… but the casualties would be enormous, possibly even greater than in the last war. So many lives cut short…
Then Tamamo looked at the strange sword on the table, the one that Lucifina had imaginatively named "Angel Halo". She would need to test it first, but if Lucifina's claims were accurate, it held considerable potential.
There's far too much killing in this world. To defeat one's opponents without killing them… it's an ideal worth fighting for.
AN: For those of you who haven't figured it out yet, my plan is to have two different endings for this fic, something inspired by the multiple endings of visual novels. This is the one that's a tragedy, but sets up the events of the original trilogy. The next chapter will feature the happy ending.