“Eh? What? That power is resistible?”
Gula was as confused as Mammon . Unlike the powers of other Evil Gods, Mammon’s power wasn’t the offensive type, so she had always thought that it couldn’t be resisted . Yet Loren’s greatsword wasn’t snatched away, and he was able to continue attacking Mammon . This completely overturned her belief that the only way to fight against Mammon’s power was to dodge .
After failing the first time, Mammon tried using his power on Loren again . But his power continued to fail without showing any effect for the second, then the third time .
“The atmosphere is kinda strange . ”
Gula folded her arms and turned to Lapis, who was hopping over . Her face was still red because of whatever Mammon had snatched from her, but Gula couldn’t afford to tease her right now . She had her own pants snatched away and if she made fun of Lapis, the counterattack would be very harsh .
“Isn’t that power too unfair? Even if he can’t see it, as long as he knows it’s there, he can snatch it . It’s just absurd . ”
“Well, aren’t we Evil Gods? Our very own existence is absurd to begin with, isn’t it?”
Losing before Lapis’ threatening attitude, Gula uttered those excuse-like words while wondering why she had to give excuses .
But as Lapis reached Gula’s place, she decided to bury the hatchet .
“But why wasn’t Loren’s greatsword snatched?”
“I wonder why? Even if it’s a magical equipment, as long as it’s a sword, it shouldn’t escape Mammon’s recognition, and his power shouldn’t fail . ”
Lapis nodded in agreement at Gula’s reply, but she suddenly recalled something and asked again:
“Is it correct to say that if Mammon can’t recognize something, he can’t steal it?”
“Yeah, that’s correct . For example, if he thinks your jacket is your breast cover and exercises his power on it, he won’t be able to snatch your breast cover . ”
“You feel like attacking me while talking about examples?”
“Let’s stop here, Lapis-chan . I don’t think I can handle your attacks right now . ”
She was dead serious . Gula, who had her hotpants snatched away and had nothing but her arms to cover her fully exposed lower body, was in no state to respond to Lapi’s attacks . If Lapis went serious, she might even send her flying in her half-naked state . Gula wanted to avoid that as much as possible .
“Leaving that aside, according to your explanation, it’s very likely that Loren’s greatsword isn’t actually a sword . ”
“Eh that’s stupid . No matter how you look at it, it’s a sword, right?”
Even Lapis had the same opinion . But from the fact that Mammon’s power failed to work on the sword, the most probable explanation Lapis could think of was that it wasn’t a sword .
“What the hell is it then?”
“I took it from my parents’ warehouse . I don’t know its true form either . ”
Loren’s greatsword looked like any other greatsword that could be found in any weapon store in Kapha, but it was an open secret that it came from Lapis . Loren knew it, but still continued to use it . If even Lapis, who brought that sword here, didn’t know its true form, then no one did .
“What’s your appraisal of it?”
“It’s expensive . ”
The truth was, Lapis, despite being able to appraise all kinds of goods, didn’t really know much about Loren’s swords . She had given it to Loren knowing only that it must be a very good item to be carefully stored in the deeper part of her parents’ warehouse . She had never truly tried to get information about it .
While Lapis and Gula were talking, Loren continued to attack Mammon to prevent him from directing his attention elsewhere .
“Even though my power doesn’t work, the lack of progress on your end is irritating . Don’t you think so, onii-san?”
“I do not notice you injuring me either!”
In return for Mammon’s provocation, Loren provoked him right back . Even though he was the one who started it, Mammon’s face still twisted in anger . Loren was amazed at his lack of patience . He found a small opening in his storm of attacks, probably caused by anger, and threw a kick to take advantage of it . It hit Mammon, who had been focusing on repelling his sword, on the side .
Being a magical being, Mammon didn’t sustain much damage despite Loren putting his strength into the kick . In fact, it didn’t seem to have much of an effect at all, except for inciting a grunt from the Evil God . But the kick did halt his movements for a moment, and Loren seized it to strike with his sword .
Unable to put up a defense on time, the sword struck Mammon’s shoulder, but the blade wasn’t able to cut into his flesh . The Evil God had quite a high toughness, which made Loren reflexively click his tongue, but Mammon let out a painful groan at the first strike he received since the battle started .
“So it does hurt when you get hit!”
“This… Don’t make fun of me!”
Without losing his pace, Loren swung his sword, trying to give Mammon a follow up strike . Mammon, who had received a clean hit, looked at him with eyes full of anger . Aiming for the top of the Evil God’s head, Loren slashed with all his strength . Mammon met the blade with his fist, which was trembling with power . It was the first time he had used that much strength in this battle .
When the fist met the blade, both of them recoiled at almost the same time .
In that moment, Loren heard a small but ominous crack coming from his greatsword . The blade couldn’t withstand the force of his slash and Mammon’s fist anymore . Loren understood that, but he had no other means to attack the Evil God .
Hoping to at least be able to somehow finish Mammon off, Loren fixed his stance and struck again . Meanwhile, Mammon’s fist started to bleed a little from the impact of crashing against the blade, and the pain seemed to have made him tear up . But he still clenched his fist to meet Loren’s sword .
Just like the first time, the impact of the crash sent both of them flying backwards . The difference was the wound on Mammon’s fist had gaped open wider .
And then, Loren’s greatsword broke with a dull sound . Tiny fragments of the black blade scattered in the air, and Mammon smiled widely despite the freely-flowing tears caused by even more intense pain, a feeling of his certain victory prevailed .
However, Loren continued on to his next move with no care about the broken fragments of his blade . The reason was, even though the blade had seemingly broken, the weight of the sword in his hand hadn’t changed . It made Loren believe that the blade was still there, and he swung the sword for a third strike without confirming the state of the blade .
Mammon’s eyes widened at the seemingly bladeless sword coming at him . The sword swung down coldly in a white flash of light and hit the left arm directly, which Mammon had raised to defend himself . No attack had ever touched Mammon’s body before, but this strike cut deeply into Mammon’s arm and even reached his shoulder .
The Evil God screamed in intense pain, and Loren knew this was the deciding moment . Leaving the sword still biting into Mammon’s body, Loren let go of its handle and reached into his jacket to pull out a dagger with a red gem inset in the pommel .
“I’ll give you this too! Savor the rich taste of pain!”
Even though Mammon’s body was protected by some kind of force, Loren reckoned that since his greatsword was able to injure him, it would probably work if he struck him again at the same places . He rushed at the Evil God, pulled his head towards himself with his left hand and thrust the dagger into his flank .
Loren felt a strong force pushing at his chest just then, and was sent flying backwards . He bounced on the ground a couple of times while hearing his ribs and sternum creaking painfully and ominously, and even rolled on the ground a few times before finally coming to a stop . The shock and the tumbling disoriented him, but he placed both hands on the ground and pushed himself up . When he lifted his head to check the result of his attacks, he saw Mammon writhing on the ground and shrieking in agony, the dagger stuck deeply into his side . The greatsword that was biting into Mammon’s shoulder was lying on the ground near him . It seemed to have come off due to some impact .
“So, does it hurt? It’s a magic weapon that can amplify pain . Feel it to your heart’s content . ”
The dagger was one of the magic-infused items they had salvaged from the depot . It could amplify the pain of the stabbed person by a couple magnitudes . Injured by both the greatsword and the dagger, Mammon was bearing unimaginable pain, and was writhing about on the ground .
It seemed like Evil Gods’ appearances did reflect their mentality . Loren had guessed from Mammon’s words and behavior that he had the mentality of a child, and should be extremely weak at pain . He had planned to take advantage of this weakness when the timing was right, and the effect was immediate .
Still, it might not be the decisive blow . With that thought in mind, Loren creeped on the ground, got near to Mammon, and grabbed the handle of his greatsword . The sword originally had a black blade, which should have been broken . But there was another white blade there in its place, slightly thinner but almost as long .
Loren put off thinking about the true form of his sword, which was able to cut through the protection force of an Evil God and injured his body . Instead, he stood up, intending to finish off Mammon . But when he turned around to face him, he saw Gula kneeling on the floor as if protecting Mammon, who was sobbing due to the pain on his shoulders and side .
“I’m sorry, but can you let him off? I’ll take responsibility, and will take him away, so I want you to spare his life . ”
“Keeping him alive gives me no benefit, doesn’t it?”
“Just make it work somehow . ”
Gula prostrated herself before him . Loren’s expression turned troubled, and he looked at Mammon behind her . He was still crying from the pain of his wounds even now, and was looking at Loren with frightened eyes . But he endured the pain, sat up, then kneeled down like Gula .
“S… Sorry . ”
No matter what Mammon really was, Mammon’s appearance was still that of a child and of one covered in blood, at that . The sight of such a child kneeling before him and apologizing… It somehow felt like he was the bad guy here . Loren lowered his sword .
But Lapis and Tizona also had their feelings hurt because of this . Loren turned towards them, but Lapis just shrugged without saying anything in particular . And Tizona, who was wrapping herself in the cloth Loren had given her, gave him a single nod . It seemed like they had let him make the decision . Loren looked down at the Evil Gods prostrating before him .
“Can you promise that you will break up the bandit gang, and will not be hostile towards us?”
“Apologize to those you stripped too . Then let them hit you a few times, alright?”
To Loren, it was unforgivable to strip someone naked or steal someone’s pants . Mammon nodded multiple times at the punishment Loren had issued for him .
“And we’ll confiscate the goods and treasures you’ve collected . I really thought this was a ploy from some countries… I’ll report that you’ve escaped . ”
Their purpose was to obtain the treasures inside the ruin, not to subjugate the bandits or to hand their head over to the kingdom . Loren believed that it was good enough to get the money and goods to fulfill Tizona’s purpose . Anything else was just extra, and thus inconsequential .
The bandits wouldn’t be able to cause much damage by themselves . Their leader, an Evil God, was now Gula’s responsibility, and would be under her supervision . Loren thought that it should be safe .
“If we hand defeated Evil Gods over to the kingdom, they’ll either destroy the kingdom or will be used by it, which could turn out to be even more troublesome . ”
“It’s alright, isn’t it? As for hitting him, let’s wait until his wounds are healed . If we go at it now, he might die . ”
Lapis declared with an ice-cold smile . It seemed like she was still holding a grudge over her stolen chest cover . Mammon looked at her with a tear-stained face, his eyes were as frightened as when he looked at Loren .