Chapter 27:

A Clashing of Wills

Why Kill? When Witches Can Be Tentacled!


Bella stared nervously at the battle. The tide had turned against them. Roswalia’s troops had rushed forward, expecting only the Witch of Orphans. But just as the pressure of numbers pushed her against the ropes, another magician girl also claiming to be a Witch, joined the fray. And not only that, a jellyfish boldly declared himself the Demon Lord of all things!Bookmark here

That has to be a joke! Bella thought as massive fireballs slammed into their soldiers. But then, why would someone specifically claim to be one? A threat? To unnerve our men? Ha! That is utter bull hockey!Bookmark here

But then, her jaw dropped when the jellyfish creature reached over and made the Witch of Orphans glow. Within moments, a Witch that should have been on her last legs came out swinging even fiercer than before.Bookmark here

The combined waves of fierce gale and raging inferno cast hundreds of men aside at a time. There was no doubt that this situation was growing out of hand. She looked down at the stoic Bernardo, who didn’t so much as flinch at this unexpected outcome.Bookmark here

“Bella,” he said flatly. “Can the cannons fire?”Bookmark here

Stunned by the unwavering, unfeeling voice from him, she hesitated for a moment to reply, prompting him to turn his head her way.Bookmark here

“Uh, ah, yes! Plenty of energy left!”Bookmark here

“Then, fire. At the Witches.”Bookmark here

Bella gulped in response. The highly destructive power of the cannons would no doubt decimate a Witch, no matter how much she tried to block it. But they needed to preserve its energy, just in case. Their power sources could only handle so much. This consideration was simply tossed aside to get rid of a troublesome pair first.Bookmark here

Directing the nearest cannon to aim for one of them, she watched as the army quickly parted ways for a beam to shoot down the battlefield, knowing that it would obliterate everything in its path. The magenta-haired Witch who had entered the battle late was in its sights; it took mere seconds for the beam to reach her.Bookmark here

But then, Bella’s jaw dropped once again as a tiny figure, the one calling himself Demon Lord, hopped right into its path. She knew not what to think when the little creature fanned out its tendrils and batted at the beam like an umbrella spinning to deflect a torrential river. And to top it off, the little bugger hadn’t disintegrated into dust, against a power that could bring down an entire fort!Bookmark here

As if enough surprises hadn’t been stacked upon each other, the creature was still there, looking like he didn’t have a care in the world after the attack. Bella’s mind was blown as to how it could just shrug it off. That was truly a slap in the face at her efforts.Bookmark here

What is this madness? The hell kind of creature is-Bookmark here

Her thoughts were cut off as the creature opened its mouth and shot out a giant beam in response, sweeping it across the battlefield and obliterating the soldiers with it. The entire army froze at this. Never had they imagined a counterattack in such manner! To have their secret weapon be aimed at them instead!Bookmark here

Hints of fear crept into their minds. The poisonous thoughts of a being of great power infected the ranks.Bookmark here

Demon Lord!Bookmark here

It wasn’t kidding!Bookmark here

What manner of sorcery is this?!Bookmark here

And those thoughts resulted in one thing – an absolute panic of what to do in an uncertain situation. And when humans had no choice but to face whatever calamity was coming for them, there was only one course of action, however short-sighted it was.Bookmark here

“ATTACK! ATTACK! FIRE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE!!!” the leaders cried. But despite that, many just wanted to run.Bookmark here

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Snazzy watched as the empowered Witches wiped the floor with the Roswalian army. As their personal cheerleader, it was his duty to keep them buffed up like one-man armies in a hack-and-slash video game.Bookmark here

But then, he noticed some people signaling to the cannons all the way in the back. Recognizing them immediately as the weapons that tore through the forest earlier, Snazzy dashed forward to intercept it as fast as his magic and tentacles could take him.Bookmark here

And just in time, he stepped in the path of a bright beam that was headed towards his Onee-san. Surely, it can’t be much worse than eating Maribell’s giant fireball, now can it? That’s a spicy meato-ballo! he joked as it struck him.Bookmark here

Spreading out his tentacles and spinning like a fan, he was able to successfully block the beam that would have otherwise hit Maribell. Although he could handle a spell of this magnitude somehow, it wasn’t like it didn’t hurt. The tentacles felt like someone was roasting them upon a grill, slowly charred until they disintegrated into ash.Bookmark here

Ha! You think that’s all it’ll take to bring me down!Bookmark here

Immediately, a fresh tentacle emerged from underneath, replacing the fallen one’s stead. Despite the damage that beam was causing, his body managed to absorb it all. He was too brimming with pure mana to let himself get knocked down. And that simply restored in a blink of an eye what was lost.Bookmark here

A few seconds passed before the beam finally died down. Given that the enemy’s secret weapon was no problemo, he felt deserving of a little jig to celebrate. But as he started to dance, a strange gurgle echoed from the pit of his stomach. Like he had just eaten an expired burger left in the car for too long, something shot up his throat and projected out.Bookmark here

“BLEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”Bookmark here

A beam of energy burst from his mouth, and not knowing where to aim it, he opted to send the mana throw-up at the ones responsible. It swept across the field and sliced through the soldiers, obliterating nearly the entire front row.Bookmark here

When the mild sickness subsided, Snazzy dry heaved a bit. Sucking up air through his mouth, he tried to cleanse his palate of the nauseating feeling. The resulting attack, although accidental, had caused a dramatic change in the atmosphere.Bookmark here

All at once, the army started to flee. Some shot magic towards them as they did, but many more just decided that enough was enough. Snazzy tried to laugh at their cowardice, but even the thought of chuckling gave him the urge to go somewhere and spray out a rainbow mosaic of whatever he ate last.Bookmark here

Maribell and Seraphina ran up to him, looking worried but relieved that their enemies decided to flee. However, Seraphina noticed that some mana signatures were not retreating. Rather, it continued moving towards them.Bookmark here

She motioned to Maribell, who also turned toward the approaching figures. Amidst the scrambling army, a certain sight tore at their hearts. Their faces twisted in disgust as the sight of women chained onto the cannons became apparent. They could already guess what they were for, and Maribell’s mind reading only confirmed it.Bookmark here

The women were the magicians that Roswalia had gathered, treated as munitions to wage war.Bookmark here

One of the cannons glowed, signaling the attack. Before the two Witches could do anything, Snazzy leapt again into its path, determined to absorb the energy. He did so again, but this time, he struggled as the feeling of vomiting once again assailed him. Bookmark here

With haste, he tilted his head up to the sky and let the rampant energy loose, leaving it to part the clouds. There was no way that he could fire it back at the cannons, as hostages were being held to power the weapons.Bookmark here

Snazzy couldn’t harm innocents, despite declaring that he was a Demon Lord. It was one thing to kill those with intent to harm his friends, but the women held in captivity were different. They were held against their will, victims with no fault of their own.Bookmark here

Maribell moved towards him, but one of his tentacles quickly pushed her back as another beam fired. And once again, Snazzy put on a brave face, sucking up the energy before turning his head in the nick of time to send it sailing into the forest.Bookmark here

This was his battle to fight. He was the only one that could absorb so much energy. He had to keep going. He had to tough it out. Kami-sama had given him the ability to protect those behind him, did he not?Bookmark here

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On the other side, Bella looked nervously between the so-called Demon Lord and Bernardo. Even after seeing that destruction, he had not moved a single step backward. With an utter lack of fear, he simply waved his arm and commanded the few soldiers pushing the cannons to keep advancing.Bookmark here

There was not an ounce of doubt in his actions, something that made Bella tremble to no end. She didn’t want to be involved any further. But as long as his hand connected to the chain leading up to her neck, there was nowhere to go but to follow.Bookmark here

Perhaps, the unrelenting bravado was exactly the thing to display against a Demon Lord. Strangely, the creature no longer fired its beams toward them, but instead, someplace where the damage was minimal.Bookmark here

Unsure at first, it took a bit of time for Bella to finally pinpoint the reason. And then, she smiled. Wickedly, like it was such a sick joke. The creature avoided striking back the cannons they were using. Or more specifically, the women that were attached to them. How incredibly soft-hearted and foolish!Bookmark here

Maybe Bernardo picked up on that at the very beginning, but she didn’t know. He didn’t say anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Instead, his eyes continued to watch the creature like a hawk, commanding the cannons to continue firing.Bookmark here

To Bella, it seemed like a hypocritical act of mercy. A naïve sentiment purely because the women were aesthetically like the Witch of Orphans and her new companion.Bookmark here

Truly absurd, but then, is it really? The thing is likely a blessed beast like me. Which means that it came from another world… But wait? Not an ‘it’, but a ‘he’…Bookmark here

A sudden thought came to her mind. What if the creature was just a worthless male that thought he was some big hero now that he was reincarnated in another world? Certainly, that would be a likely scenario. After all, protagonists in an isekai always believed that they were somehow special. Bookmark here

Bella scoffed at the possibility, made more likely as the jellyfish continue to weather the beams of energy, all while shielding his companions. How cute his efforts were.Bookmark here

“What a foolish, foolish little man. To pose as the Demon Lord, while acting like some noble protector?” A smile crept upon her face as the fear was driven out of her. She floated down and placed her hands upon Bernardo’s broad shoulders. Even in his silence, she could count on him. His clear, unwavering eyes saw nothing but his own goal, whatever that may be.Bookmark here

He never spoke more than what was needed. He did what he had to do. And in the end, he would be the victor, supported by Bella’s handiwork. There was no better feeling than to see one’s own fruits of labor crush the roars of some fake that thought he could get by, purely by enthusiasm. Bookmark here

And it was even better that Bernardo never flinched, even when her clawed hands gently brushed against his cheeks. No one else remained unbothered by it. Just him.Bookmark here

His eyes remained unmoving from his task, even as she played around with his ear to get his attention. Together, they waited, to see whether the creature would give up, or if the cannons would run dry.Bookmark here

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Snazzy felt ill.Bookmark here

But taking in massive amounts of mana and regurgitating it repeatedly would do that to a guy. Forcing himself in the path of the massive energy was only something he could do.Bookmark here

Yet… he felt ill.Bookmark here

Ill, like the feeling of getting punched in the stomach repeatedly by bullies for being different. Like the times he stared at his barely budging view counter. The belittling comments, the ostracizing stares, the asinine insults – the times Snazzy felt when the people on the other side of the screen seemed so unlike him.Bookmark here

He wanted so much to protect Maribell and Seraphina that he didn’t hesitate to do so when given the chance. But now, those same spiteful glares were at it again. He didn’t even need to see the faces of the soldiers to know – You are not like us! Begone! Abomination!Bookmark here

But he was Snazzy, right? If he didn’t do it, who else would? Who would help shoulder the pain that befell the girls behind him? Bookmark here

After all, that was the mission he was given to do. Kami-sama gave him a second chance, a world of his choice, just so that he could make it a better place.Bookmark here

He had pushed himself on and on, ignoring the sickness, ignoring the pain. His new persona would be the strength to move him forward. Always. With a smile. Until finally, he was just numb… Bookmark here

numb… Bookmark here

numb.Bookmark here

Eh? I can’t feel my tentacles anymore…Bookmark here

Snazzy looked ahead, seeing that the tips of them had burned away. The energy blasts shaved at them gradually, until even the stumps had disappeared. His will could no longer keep up. He had been numb to the lack of recovery. He had chosen to ignore it all and fight through it, not realizing that he could no longer bounce back.Bookmark here

For what?Bookmark here

So that he could feel like he succeeded this time? So that, at the end of the day, he could pat himself on the back, and say that he tried.Bookmark here

That he gave it his best effort and that was it. That was it. Everything that he could muster.Bookmark here

Some things were truly futile. After all, it was an entire world that he was fighting, all to protect a small group that were unjustly criticized. No one could blame him for giving up and calling it quits.Bookmark here

No one could blame him.Bookmark here

But myself. I always blame myself for being... So. Damn. Weak. Weak, old Sunou Kazuki.Bookmark here

As the smile finally dropped from his ever-jolly face, Snazzy felt himself fading in the light. The burning pain, the roar of magic crashing, the taste of mana, the blinding white, the sickness – everything felt dull and pointless. He had given up. A sense of nothingness enveloped his body.Bookmark here

And with a sudden Pop! noise, the massive beam of energy disappeared, and along with it, Snazzy.Bookmark here

Before Maribell and Seraphina could realize what had happened, the glow around their bodies disappeared. And all that was left was the sound of cannons slowly rolling toward them.Bookmark here

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