85. Negotiation (3)
The door was blasted off its hinges, and part of the building caved in. Ellin flipped over a table, grabbed Halsem by the neck, and threw him behind it.
People fled and screamed at the sudden explosion, while the Magic Knights tried their best to save fellow knights who were unable to avoid the explosion and anyone else trapped under the rubble.
A chill came over the inn’s entrance as ice chunks flew around, blowing a cold air.
Holfmann shook his hands, which had a white smoke rising from them. After a few good shakes, shards of ice fell off.
“… This is awkward.”
He ended up causing trouble because he was so shocked. He had swung his hands up to shield him instinctively when an ominous combination of holy and demonic power had passed by him right upon entering the inn.
‘… He’s no ordinary necromancer. What is he?’
Holy power and demonic power opposed each other. Holy power was productive and had the tendency to respect life while demonic power was destructive and respected death. Because the two did not mix, both could only exist in separation. To go against such law would threaten this balance of this world; it was a power only allowed for God.
Upon witnessing this power, Holfmann felt a chill travel down his spine. Astonished, he broke into a cold sweat and took a deep breath with an astonished look in his eyes.
‘This… I’ve heard about it, before but seeing it in person is another thing altogether! What the hell is he? Is he a devil? Does the devil really exist? If he isn’t…’
“…Is he a God?”
The smoke and dust from the blast finally settled, revealing Tom. It was hard for him to even breathe properly as his arms and legs were slowly freezing, leaving his movements stiff. Tom threw up blood. It froze as soon as it touched the ground. His eyes were shaking badly.
Most of the organs in his body were frozen. His frosted lungs were struggling to move forcefully, and his throbbing heart was stabbed and ripped by the frozen blood around it. The disconnected sense between his dead nerves and healthy nerves seared within him.
Tom screamed inside. He was still ‘alive’, so he was feeling the pain of death coming. Death would have probably been more comfortable compared to this.
“Amazing!” Holfmann gasped. “I couldn’t control my strength so he must’ve been directly hit by my attack. I can’t believe he’s still alive…! Is he simply beyond on the level of a Hero?”
If Tom was someone merely on the level of a Hero, he would’ve been killed instantly.
Holfmann shook his hands.
“My hands are numb, they hurt. It has been a long time since I moved this old body in such a way.”
Tom glowered Holfmann as if he was going to kill him. Then, he looked to his side.
One of the past orphans from the monastery, now a Magic Knight, was barely holding on to life. If his frozen arms didn’t get treated soon, they would be difficult to heal completely. Anger at the Magic Knight’s state boiled up inside of Tom.
“You know me? But… you’re angry? You have feelings? Ha, so high on the hog! Do you think such things are allowed for a necromancer?”
Holfmann got to his feet. The ground he walked on froze beneath him. The water in the air also began to frost and condense into a white mist.
“No matter; the souls you’ve trapped can’t reincarnate—unable to even feel anger at their own misery. They can’t have a new body, they can’t enjoy new life, they can’t feel new feelings. Pain, pain, pain, pain! They can only feel pain!”
Holfmann lowered his back. He placed his feet apart and held up his clenched hands.
“That’s challenging God’s teachings! It is forbidden by an ordinance most Holy! It can’t happen-!”
Holfmann struck a pose, and the ground he was standing on froze further and exploded violently. His body burrowed into Tom’s in a flash, without leaving even an afterimage. The moment he swung his fists, Tom gritted his teeth.
Tom tried to move his hands but he couldn’t since they were nearly frozen solid. It was too late to pull out the holy sword on his waist! Tom thought to guard Holfmann’s blow with his right arm, but…
“You’re such a fool…”
Holfmann’s fist struck Tom’s arm. The moment it landed, Tom’s arm started to freeze even more, a layer of ice spreading from where the old man had touched him. The entirety of Tom’s arm, shoulder, and part of his neck froze.
As Tom’s eyes grew wide, Holfmann’s fist smashed Tom’s arm into pieces. It shattered, scattering in all directions like bits of glass. When their gazes met, Holfmann glared at him fiercely.
“… Leave this world. You heretic!”
His next strike landed against Tom’s head, freezing it almost instantaneously. Holfmann’s fist didn’t stop there, travelling straight through the frozen head and smashing it to bits.
The Magic knights, Ellin, and Halsem, watched the violent scene in disbelief. Though it was a surprise attack, someone on par with a Hero had been snuffed out in an instant
Ellin’s pale face turned more pale as she slumped into her seat. Her legs had given out. Holfmann frowned, watching Tom’s headless body crumple to the ground.
“… This was the Devil of Lania?”
Tom had survived that first powerful attack and had tried to defend himself despite being injured, but even then, Holfmann couldn’t help to feel their exchange had been lacking.
Holfmann’s technique had killed Heroes before, but someone who had single-handedly destroyed the capital of the Holy Kingdom shouldn’t have been defeated so easily.
‘… He was too weak. Was it because he couldn’t use his necromancy?’
He had come ready to face a monster possessing inhuman strength and powerful necromancy. But, since he died before he could even use that power…Holfmann was disappointed.
“Still, it’s such a waste. He looked like he had the ability. If only he wasn’t a heretic he would’ve been able to use that power somewhere helpful…” Holfmann shook his head. It was just too bad. “… No, is it… not the end… yet?” Holfmann opened his eyes and stepped back.
Black smog and a viscous looking liquid were pooling from Tom’s body. Holfmann gulped and peered down at it.
‘… Amazing demonic power, and the purity is so thick it would be hard to go closer to him! It’s the root of destruction and death! I can’t believe such demonic power exists in this world…!?
Earlier, he had sensed within Tom the tell-tale mixture of holy and demonic power, but, now, whatever was coming consisted of nothing but pure demonic power.
‘If he oozes this much demonic power… When the ‘body’ has not even shown its form…! …It’s dangerous!’
Holfmann felt ‘horror’ for the first time in his life.
“He’s still weak! I don’t know what will come out but…”
Holfmann began gathering holy power in his hands. Ellin, sensing the coming danger, grabbed Halsem by the neck.
“What? Wh, what about Tom…! He’s not dead, right? I saw it in the Golden Fief! When he lost conscience after getting shot in the head, suddenly he came out! Right? He’s still not dead, right?”
“I don’t know either! But Tom is alive! What’s dangerous now is…!”
‘That human, Holfmann.’
The Magic Knights hurriedly left as if they also felt the danger. Holfmann smiled faintly at that.
‘Right, run away as far as you can. Since everything around here will freeze!’
Holfmann had gathered an immense amount of holy power in both his hands.
“… I’ll seal you up!”
As his hands struck the ground, everything around him froze in an explosion of ice.
An entire section of the city was blanketed in frost and a huge glacier that could even be seen from afar formed in an instant.
This glacier, which formed from pure ice, took up a large area of space, even covering and freezing many buildings which had been in the way. Following its appearance, a frigid air buffeted the city. The fall air turned cold like during the harshest of winters.
Holfmann groaned and gasped for air, standing atop the glacier. The sweat on his forehead froze solid, but he hardly noticed.
“I’m, I’m going to go crazy! It’s been a long time since I’ve used such power. On top of that, I’m famished!?”
Holfmann’s eyes grew larger as he looked down. The ice was vibrating. The huge chunk of ice that should have lasted for decades to come was splitting and cracking; something was piercing its way up.
Holfmann hurriedly gathered more holy power in his hands. A huge amount of ice was summoned and formed into a shield, but it couldn’t block the thing piercing the ice.
The shield broke, and Holfmann turned his head and dodged in the nick of time. Something grazed Holfmann’s face and went up high into the sky, cutting through the clouds.
An aftershock from the object shook the glacier further, causing Holfmann to fall over.. He looked towards the sky, blinking in a daze. The clouds had been cut through in the shape of a spiral. He then got up and looked down at the ice. It was melting and watery, and multiple Undead creatures were slowly climbing up and out from its center.
The glacier turned black as the dead poured out from within.
“You’re too much…! Are you mocking this old man…?”
Holfmann looked terrified.
— Ω —