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Chapter 7: A Goddess Revived

A Goddess Revived

... Celes swallowed the Jewel whole.

She had expected some resistance as it passed through her throat, but without such a thing- as if melting its way through- it settled comfortably in her stomach. She had looked up to swallow it down, but now she slowly returned her gaze to Lyle's party.

The flames of high-density Mana whirled around to protect her. It was a Skill that had been made for suicide, and those flames had stored Mana from Celes- a being with enough Mana one couldn't think her human- over the course of many long years.

There's no way Lyle's party would be able to lay hands on it.

For an output large enough to blow the imperial capital away was now being used to protect her body.

It was a Skill Agrissa had granted to Celes, and from the start, they were flames prepared to illuminate any hindrances.

[Celes, are you ready?]

Agrissa's voice was kind. Celes nodded.

"Yeah, I'm ready. It was a promise, after all."

Celes recalled. The events of that day.

It was back when eles was six. Carrying on the memories of Septem, she strongly inherited the recollections of her oppression under humanity, just as Agrissa before her. Having been born carrying those memories from birth, she couldn't help but think of all those besides her parents as trash.

They were all nothing more than noisy insects she could vanish with a touch, and that's all she could see them as. To Celes, whether she liked them or not was all that determined a bug's worth. That's what she had thought.

But...

(That thing alone I won't forgive. I definitely won't forgive him.)

Her brother Lyle had somehow managed to succeed all the memories of Septem. And even as he carried them on, he definitely held an existence he could call his own self.

Saying he wouldn't look back on the past, he even found out how to seal some of the memories of his own accord.

He was talented. He had surpassed Celes.

And just like the Septems of Celes' memory who had always been pushed down and trampled... Lyle was kind to those around. He answered to his parent's expectations, and was loved by all.

Even if he didn't rely on Septem's power, Lyle was loved.

Just like a shadow to the sun, the stronger Lyle shone, the darker grew her darkness.

And usually hiding behind a cheerful fa?ade, Celes would detest him. What only served to strengthen her hatred was that Lyle had noticed it... and even so he was kind to her.

Beyond the tempest of flames, she could see the others looking her way, frustrated they were unable to raise a hand.

When she saw Lyle without his smile of old, Celes' feelings cleared up.

Under Lyle's continued kindness, while her sense of overwhelming inferiority tormented her, the moment the Jewel she found after her grandmother's death whispered to her, she felt her fate was calling.

She had entered her grandmother's room, looking around to see if she could find anything interesting. She found it disgusting to see everyone around grieve so. To Celes, that's all her grandmother was to her.

Of all else, faint as it was, her grandmother had noticed Celes' abnormal nature as well.

It was boring. She had slipped out of the funeral services, and spotted a box locked up right and tight.

As she opened it...

[Hmm, you're not Zenoire. Her grandchild Celes? You've sure grown a bit.]

The moment she found the Yellow Jewel was the moment she met Agrissa. And from there, everything had begun to move.

What Agrissa desired was Celes' body. And it's not as if she had a particularily strong desire for it. To Agrissa, Celes was a cute descendent. An existence with value to Agrissa as well.

On the other side of the flames, the existences who tormented her so were in a panic.

Celes spread out her arms.

"... Now taste despair. I'll be watching it all from hell."

Even though she was fading away, Celes laughed to the end...

-

-

-

After Celes' final laugh, she spread her arms. Her body swelled up, spat up blood and burst.

I thoughts the bits of flesh would scatter about, but absorbing in the surrounding flames, the meat and blood gathered to form a sphere. As the dark red sphere pulsed, I held out my gun and fired.

Everyone immediately attacked with their magic, arrows and cannons, but...

The dark red mass burst open, and from it came the form of an unclothed woman wet with blood.

Her long, golden hair was soaked in blood, but even so it shimmered. The violet eyes I could see from the gaps in her hair sparkled like precious gemstones.

Pale sking, and a beautiful body. Her large chest and narrow waist... there, I shook my head. As everyone was taken in, I called out.

"Get a grip on yourselves!"

There, the blood-soaked woman... perhaps in her mid to late twenties? The woman of around that age looked at me and raised the corners of her mouth.

The woman who had been beside the throne, in the brief moment I turned to call to my party, had found her way to my side.

"At least allow me some reverence. And I should say, pleasure to meet you, Lyle."

She hadn't the slightest presence. Even when I was sharing Shannon's sense of sight, I couldn't sense her. While I leapt backwards, the woman didn't get chased.

She looked over at me with a gentle smile.

"Don't be so scared. I hold some affection for you. It really has been a while since I last felt like this. Let's see... I'm just about as excited as when your ancestors landed the final blow on me."

From the flow of the conversation, this was the one my ancestor finished off... Agrissa.

"Miranda!"

Miranda, who'd recovered faster than any of the others, wound Agrissa in her threads. Whils her naked form was bound, even Miranda's threads were unable to damage her skin.

"How hard can she be!?"

There, Agrissa laughed. She laughed as she cut the threads.

"You say some terrible things. Even like this, I have soft skin here. Want to test it out? As expected of the ones Novem chose. The place is full of cuties."

Unlike Celes, she continued on with an affectionate attitude. But that was contrarily terrifying. If she had been serious there, perhaps she would have been able to kill me. And yet she didn't.

She couldn't, or such wishful thinking was a taboo.

Novem came out in front of me. While she held up her staff, that staff had taken the form of a scythe as she put up her highest level of vigilance.

"Agrissa... no, Septem!"

There, Agrissa's expression clouded.

"Don't call me that. I am Agrissa. I'd like you don't call me a fool's name like Septem. Well, I'm sure Septem isn't the only fool out there, though."

In the later half, she took an attitude to provoke Novem. There, Novem approached her with a speed she hadn't displayed before, swinging her staff with her aim on the woman's neck.

And Agrissa grabbed it with her left hand to stop it.

"Hey, hey, don't be so angry. I've finally revived over here. Even so, it's been a while since I took in this scent of Mana activating. The stench of the battlefield. I'm sure they're fighting outside as well. How nice... when I think that humans will die, it's simply exhilarating. As I thought, there are some things you can only sense with a body of your own."

I felt some fear as Agrssa's face flushed, as I issued orders around.

My comrades linked with Connection started to action. Ludmilla and Gracia attacked to pincer her.

They were strengthened with Skills. Both their speed and output were well above the norm, but...

"Oh, the descendants of goddesses? With a better look, it seems you've gathered others as well. Lyle, you're amazing. Did you gather them unaware of it all, or could this be fate... well, that doesn't matter."

The blood scattered around swelled up, and forming a large arm, it blocked Ludmilla and Gracia's attack.

"Damn this thing!"

As Gracia let out flames, Agrissa looked at her.

"Oh, how hot, very hot indeed. Looks like you're not part goddess for nothing. But that's all it is. I'll add you to my collection, so pipe down for now."

Sending tem flying, Agrissa erased the arm protecting her. As she stretched out, it was Monica's and Elza's turn to attack.

Clara went off to collect those blown away, while Miranda shook as she clung onto Shannon.

"Automaton. You've brought back quite a nostalgic thing. Well, I'm sure it hates me."

Agrissa looked over Monica with intrigue. Monica lowered her giant hammer.

"You're even more dangerous than that damn vixen, my core is telling me. Dissapear!"

Stopping that hammer strike with the palm of her hand, Agrissa used her other hand to grip the staff Elza swung. While she had coated it in a blade of ice, when it touched Agrissa, the ice easily shattered.

Agrissa looked disappointed.

"It's a shame. You guys were the best. And you're valuable things the humans left behind. I'd like to keep you by my side, but... well, if Lyle becomes mine, I'm sure you'll consent."

As Agrissa looked at me, she sent Monica and Elza flying. Aria came out before me, but Agrissa slipped past her and came out to my front.

"Wha..."

As she touched a hand to my cheek, she looked at my face.

"Splendid. Since you carry my blood, I can feel true affection to you. What's more, despite our blood connection being a thing of the distant past, you are strong. Even with everything stolen away by Celes, you've filled your vessel with a different power to take its place. It seems Celes hated you, but... I've taken a liking to you."

Could it be she was a surprisingly better person than the legends spoke of? I had gotten around to thinking that. As I shook my head to part from that delusion, Novem lowered her staff at Agrissa.

There, Agrissa let out a sigh.

"Hah... Novem, don't get in the way."

Novem's face was dyed in more rage than I have ever seen before.

"When you've killed Celes-sama, you're...!!"

As the staff of scythe form caught ablaze, Agrissa hurled her away. But Novem cut at her.

Her movements were even faster than the last time. As if... Novem was gradually beginning to change.

"It's something Celes wished for. In the first place, you made good use of what we were trying to do, did you not? You didn't want my blood to get into Lyle, so you used Celes to rid him of it."

"Shut up!!"

Novem's violet eyes looked as if they were glowing. Mana welled up from her, and her power...I saw it as the same sort of thing as Agrissa's.

"So you'll exceed humankind. Interesting. MY base this time's a more talented one, so don't think I'm the same as before."

I could tell Agrissa's provocations were enraging Novem. From the line the joined us, so much of Novem's emotions flowed in I couldn't even process it.

"...!"

I held my chest.

Novem had forcefully severed out line. And Shannon cried out.

"Stop Novem! Agrissa... Agrissa's aim is Novem!"

We approached Novem and Agrissa at once, but while Agrissa looked a little disappointed for a moment, she instantly changed it to a smile.

"How unfortunate. I thought I've be able to find love in your figures of despair as well, but you have a perceptive child among you. Though you're too late."

Novem spouted Mana, her storm of magic sweeping the audience chamber in its midst. Looked at from aside, perhaps it would merely look like a wind was blowing over the room. But in our eyes, we could perceive the flow of Mana Shannon saw as well.

I looked at Novem.

"Novem is... changing."

It looked as if she was changing into something inhuman. While she remained her human form, the same something as the Agrissa she raged at and despised so... around Agrissa, two giant hands of dark red amassed.

"Septem!!"

In her rage, Novem could only see Agrissa.

"So you've gone into a rage at my ending of Celes!? It looked as if you put on airs when in Lyle's presence, but as I thought, this is how you've got to be! The same as that time! The time that you killed me! You haven't changed a bit!"

Seeing Novem's anger, Agrissa laughed. We were blown away by the wind, and collided with the walls. The Valkyries received us, while the large hands enveloped Agrissa and Novem in their palms.

Those swallowed two... and forming a deep red sphere once more, Agrissa showed her form from within.

"What's this. The hell is all this..."

Agrissa before my eyes had grown larger. Her womanly form showed no change, but speaking to height, she exceeded four meters. And at her chest was Novem, her head lowered languidly.

At her arms and legs rose vessels of blood, changing them to limbs of hardened deep red part-way through. On her back, what I couldn't call wings, a number of horn-like somethings stuck out.

"... I can't get used to this. It'll take some more time, but... as expected of Novem. So she had her memory handed down in its entirety. With this, I can cleanly fill in whatever parts I was lacking."

The enlarged Agrissa looked down over us. And her expression turned to a smile.

"What's wrong Lyle? Why do you look at me so?"

I pulled my Katana and took a stance.

"What did you do to Novem!?"

"Don't be so angry. I merely took her in. I'll have her become my flesh and blood. Though there's no salvation for her even if she suffers such a fate. You want to hear? Of what Novem did? You want to know? Of what the existences called goddeses really were?"

I looked at Agrissa's chest. My Skills told me Novem was still alright. But I couldn't think she'd be safe forever like that.

Aria looked up at Agrissa.

"Goddess? This thing is...?"

There, Agrissa glared at her.

"Yeah, that's right. This wretched form is what man once revered as a goddess. It was humans who worshiped we made by man! And so we became their god. So... the slaughter here to come is the retribution god decided."

Agrissa leisurely raised her arms, and in lieu of Shannon, Miranda cried out. She directed her voice to everyone connected on the line.

"Have everyone evacuate! At least make them take refuge!"

From the flow of the Mana wafting around, and the result of Shannon's reading, I was shocked.

"Everyone, evacuate at..."

Everyone didn't just mean the people right here. She meant our entire army that had invaded Centralle.

But Agrissa Laughed.

"I'm going to go easy on you. But it's far too late for that."

The light fired from the hands she raised ahead tried to blow everything away. Its output held all of Centralle in its effective range.

Porter immediately moved to cover us, but determining that was insufficient, the Valkyries leapt up front and all deployed their binders.

At the moment all was enveloped in light, all I could hear was Agrissa's voice.

"I'll dye this continent in blood, and this time it'll be my turn to take the rule. Novem, I'll give you a box seat to watch the spectacle! Now watch from there as your beloved humans fall to ruin!"

I gripped the Jewel.