Chapter 26:

A Witch by Any Other Name

Why Kill? When Witches Can Be Tentacled!

Bella sighed as she flapped alongside Bernardo, annoyed at her current situation. A collar hung around her neck, attached to the leash that was held by the silent priest. That was the only way she would be allowed to roam outside of the castle. Given to women who were imprisoned in the castle as Witches, they were set to explode upon command. That showed her how little she was trusted, even after all she had done for them.Bookmark here

The trigger for her collar was in Bernardo’s pocket. As her keeper, that ensured everyone that she was the loyal tool of the kingdom.Bookmark here

Looking around her, those with similar collars were strapped tightly to the magical cannons pushed forward. Since her test runs finally yielded enough power, the kingdom didn’t hesitate to build an entire fleet of them, allocating every single prisoner as fuel sources.Bookmark here

Now, they were heading towards Yggdrasil, home of the Witch of Orphans. She was a criminal that harbored a large group of Witch candidates. Containing them was for the purpose of eradicating grimoire bearers immediately.Bookmark here

But Bella knew that was just some holier-than-thou bullshit that the kingdom’s leaders spouted. Few at the top were really scared of the grimoires, the few of them they had found.Bookmark here

Even if a Witch possessed one, her abilities only did harm when gone unchecked. Since their manipulative powers could only target a small group, a grimoire didn’t help against large-scale assaults. And now, they had the capability to flush the Witch out from her hiding spot.Bookmark here

As the soldiers pushed the cannons into position, Bernardo gave the signal for one of them to fire. With a whirl, the machine started to glow before sending a beam of pure mana forward.Bookmark here

Trees disintegrated as the light struck them, and soon, the ground shook as the beam finally rammed into something more solid. But by the time the light died down, a massive path was cut through the forest, clearing the way for them to charge. Even the fog that kept them from proceeding parted way, eviscerated by the sheer power of the attack.Bookmark here

But that wasn’t enough. They had an entire army of several thousand that needed to advance. The other cannons kicked on and fired more bursts of light, tearing into the forest like it melted the landscape. With a total of seven cannons, each being supplied with the mana of six women, a single round of cannon fire had bulldozed an entryway that could fit several platoons marching side by side.Bookmark here

With a hearty cry, the soldiers charged forward.Bookmark here

“Capture those Witches!”Bookmark here

The Kingdom of Roswalia’s massive Witch hunt to fuel their future conquests was just beginning.Bookmark here

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Seraphina trembled in anger. She could feel her hands twitching uncontrollably at the sight of cannon fire. That which stripped their home of its protection. A feeling of madness gnawed at her. A lust for fresh blood and the screams of agony tickled her tummy.Bookmark here

But before she could let herself go wild, she forced a stony expression and turned toward her new companions. They were trying to calm the petrified children.Bookmark here

“Maribell, Snazzy, could you please lead them to safety? Their big sis is going to have to punish some very bad people.” At this point, Seraphina could barely hold onto a face of neutrality.Bookmark here

“No, let us help you fight.”Bookmark here

Pinoa, having been with her the longest, could tell that Seraphina would sacrifice herself to keep them all safe. A few of the older girls also picked up on that, joining in to stand against their attackers.Bookmark here

“No, you cannot. If you go, who will be left to protect the younger ones? It will be easier for me to go alone. Then, I wouldn’t have to worry about any of you. If they get close, bombard them with magic. Don’t worry about me. I will be fine.”Bookmark here

With that, Seraphina quickly leapt down from the root and sprinted forward into the ruined forest. Soon, she had made enough distance such that her children could not see the monster she became when hunting prey.Bookmark here

Bursts of magic emerge in the distance, shooting towards her. Fire, ice, lightning, wind, earth – magic of the various elements blanketed the area in front of her, with the intention of tearing her down.Bookmark here

But Seraphina simply smirked at the bombardment. With a wave of her hand, a fierce gust picked up and deflected the magic. She stared at the magicians and soldiers like they were ants trying to crawl up her foot.Bookmark here

Perhaps, it was due to pure hatred, her wind magic developed a merciless edge to it. With another swing of her hand, a sudden pressure erupted from her, sending blades of wind forward. Meanwhile, the sky darkened ominously.Bookmark here

The nearly-invisible sharpness turned armored men into shredded dolls. The heaviness of a storm from above then slammed into the ground and blew away those approaching like sand upon a table. That was all she could count on as she stared at the endless swarms of attackers charging forward.Bookmark here

Her Witch powers would do her absolutely no good here. Given what she could cast from the grimoire, only a few people would be mesmerized at a time. And the fog that stripped people of their will required a long setup. Not possible in this chaos and rendered worthless by their cannons. None of the devious tricks that the grimoire offered could overcome this situation.Bookmark here

But she had no need for that. Her magic was powerful enough, and it was only just starting to grow.Bookmark here

The bloodcurdling death cries as her wind flattened bodies and tore limbs off gave her a sense of euphoria. A dance of death that made her blood pump with ecstasy.Bookmark here

Seraphina was, in fact, the most powerful magician in the kingdom, once riled up by her bloodlust. That was what the kingdom truly feared. Her potential had probably attracted the grimoire to her in the first place. Who else but her would be more suitable to stand by the side of the Demon Lord?Bookmark here

Ah, but I would have to survive this first, wouldn’t I? If only I had Snazzy’s help, I could go all night long!Bookmark here

But there was no time to think of what-ifs. She cackled loudly as blood splashed like a veil around her. Like a typhoon of knives, Seraphina dove right into the crowd and bowled over anyone that dared to be in her way. Throughout this, not a single speck of blood dyed her. The wind didn’t allow a single touch from their vile parts. But this only lasted several minutes before the other side shifted strategies.Bookmark here

In a panic, Roswalia’s magicians banded together and synchronized their magic, no longer caring who it hit anymore. Those close to the Witch of Orphans were deemed lost causes anyway.Bookmark here

Ordered to go all out, the barrage of magic spells became a dense web, catching everything, regardless of friend or foe. The rows and rows of magicians sent their magic flying toward the lone enemy in the battlefield. The wind around Seraphina did its best to repel it, but eventually, stray attacks broke through, leaving blemishes upon her lovely body.Bookmark here

Even the greatest of magicians couldn’t overcome sheer numbers at this point. Seraphina was no exception. Gradually, the strain of battle decorated her body. Blood dripped from her wounds, and her attacks slowed against the continuous onslaught. She could barely send out one of her own in between.Bookmark here

Her remaining mana no longer able to keep up with her bloodlust. A quick glance at the fallen bodies didn’t even put the death count over a hundred. And ahead, she didn’t even need to count to know that there were thousands. Much more than she could handle. A worthy last stand.Bookmark here

That was fine. She lived on the battlefield so that others didn’t have to. It was natural that death would come for her as she embraced it so closely. Alone. Unseen. Her wickedness swept away by a swarm of attacks.Bookmark here

Seraphina closed her eyes and waited for the taste of pain and blood to hit her tongue. Surely, it will be as sweet receiving it. For I have engorged myself in giving. Bookmark here

But yet, her lip quivered, and tears slowly trickled from her eyes. Her heart was pounding with the will to live. Her body trembled in fear of what was to come.Bookmark here

“Bombs away!” a familiar voice yelled out. Seraphina’s eyes popped open. Massive fireballs bowled over the crowd ahead.Bookmark here

Seraphina looked above her, where Maribell was held up by a flying Snazzy. With the wind magic learned from Seraphina, he could generate enough lift to carry the full weight of a person.Bookmark here

However, he insisted on swinging one of his tendrils above his head in a circle rapidly, despite the lack of purpose. When asked why he did it anyways, Snazzy commented on how it looked cooler that way.Bookmark here

“It’s called a helicopter! I don’t care if it looks dumb to you. The spinny spinny was cool enough for a fighting game!”Bookmark here

On the other hand, his passenger was looking quite uncomfortable being carried. That was because Snazzy’s tendrils were tightly wrapped around, like some kind of bondage play. Maribell squirmed as she tried to focus on her attacks. The tendrils rubbed against some sensitive parts, making her concentration twitch and her situation all the more embarrassing.Bookmark here

If Snazzy hadn’t been pepped up already, then Maribell’s cute moans would have surely done it. But since there was no other compromise, they had to settle on that.Bookmark here

Slowly, the two of them drifted to the ground to join Seraphina. With a nod from Maribell, Snazzy released her from his restraints. It had been a while since she had gone all out with her powers, and the army in front of her was good reason for it.Bookmark here

She was no longer the coward running away from enemies to keep her identity secret. In a kingdom where she would be labeled as one anyway, there was no reason to hide her true self.Bookmark here

Maribell stepped forward with a fireball that towered like a building above her head. To the army that paused in dread of this new combatant, she called out to them.Bookmark here

“I am Maribell Schuzen, the Witch of Truth! I will not allow you to harm others because of your petty fabrications! In the name of the Grimoire of Lies, I will be your opponent!”Bookmark here

Pitching her arm forward, the giant fireball slammed into the middle of the crowd, instantly turning several hundred into ashes. But they hardly had time to counter before another surprise shouted at them.Bookmark here

“And I am Snazzy-chan! Your new Demon Lord! With me around, these lovely ladies you call Witches will be invincible!”Bookmark here

The jellyfish’s remarks drew gazes of confusion.Bookmark here

Demon Lord? they all thought, wondering if they had misheard. The statement was so outlandish that it created an awkward pause between them.Bookmark here

“Son of a-, I knew they wouldn’t believe it!... No matter! Let ‘em have it, Onee-san!” Snazzy fumed as he floated over to the battered Seraphina, who was still stunned by their arrival. She had explicitly asked them to evacuate with the children. These two were the only ones she could trust.Bookmark here

“What? Not happy that we made a dramatic entrance? It took me a good ten minutes to convince Onee-san to give in to such a plan!” Snazzy beat a tendril against his chest, looking smug.Bookmark here

“No, but why would you…” Seraphina couldn’t finish that statement. They shouldn’t have cared enough to save her. They had seen her in action. Her venom and unsettling demeanor no doubt made them uncomfortable. She had given them no reason to think she was anything but unworthy. Her children needed better role models to live by.Bookmark here

But that was just the kind of person she was – broken, ruthless, held together by the slimmest of rationale.Bookmark here

“As for you…,” Snazzy imitated the voice of an old Sensei from a martial arts flick, “it is time for the young apprentice to claim the path that is rightfully hers. Ohoho~!”Bookmark here

Seraphina stared blankly as Snazzy flew into her arms. As he rubbed his head against her busom, she felt a sudden warmth spread across her body. All at once, every bit of her felt revitalized, and the pain that lingered from her wounds hurt no more.Bookmark here

She looked down at herself, seeing the same glow around Maribell, now bestowed upon her. Her face was frozen in shock at what Snazzy offered – a personal connection, a sign of acceptance, and a place in their hearts.Bookmark here

“Now, now. No need to go all apeshit on them anymore. Remember, you are doing it for the children. There’s no need to feel evil with such a noble goal. If I’m going to be a Demon Lord for you, then I have to make sure that I set you straight, ya hear?!”
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Snazzy wiggled out of her chest and looked straight into her eyes, grabbing both sides of her cheeks.
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“You have nothing to be ashamed of. Protector of the innocent, punisher of evildoers, what you really want is to guide the world back on course, no? Rather than Witch of Orphans, I think the Witch of Discipline has a better ring to it.”Bookmark here

A feeling of joy swept over her at this new title. A baptism of sorts granted unto her. It was enough to bring her to tears. Another voice called out to her.Bookmark here

“Let’s go, Witch of Discipline. We have some bad people to punish.” Maribell said, letting a wall of fire rise up to intercept the attacks of the Roswalian army. She didn’t really feel like being disturbed in this tender moment that Snazzy had orchestrated.Bookmark here

“I-I’ll… even let you… fondle me a bit later… but only a little!” Maribell added with a blush. The embarrassment in saying that line was almost too much for her. It was all too obvious that someone had put her up to it.Bookmark here

Seraphina broke into a hearty laugh. Now, that is quite demon lord-like of Snazzy! Such a charmer of his ladies.Bookmark here

Wiping the tears from her eyes, she walked forward to join them in battle once again. Her motivation set ablaze; she could keep going as long as she had companions such as these.
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