G.o.ds were close to a concept. They existed in wors.h.i.+p and didn’t disappear unless forgotten. It was safe to say that there was no physical way to kill them. This didn’t mean that they were invincible.
“Hayate…” Zeratul felt enough of a threat.
A dragon slayer—Hayate made an accomplishment that wasn’t lacking compared to the G.o.ds. The decisive reason was that the G.o.ds of Asgard and dragons didn’t fight, but it was impossible to disparage Hayate’s achievements.
A world that had been repeated infinitely for eternity—throughout all those times and worlds, Hayate was the only person who killed a dragon by himself. It was supported by coincidence and luck, but it was still the final result. An irregular among irregulars, Hayate was one of the targets Asgard was most vigilant about.
‘Why is he standing in front of these people?’
Was he trying to save Biban, a fellow tower a.s.sociation member? No, it couldn’t be. The lives of the tower members were like worthless things. From the moment they decided to fight against dragons, it wasn’t strange for their lives to disappear. Therefore, they tried their best to be generous about each other’s life or death.
Hayate was even reluctant to leave the tower. He knew that his traces stimulated the dragons.
‘He would’ve stepped forward earlier if he wanted to save Biban.’
Hayate didn’t appear during Biban’s crisis. There was only one conclusion that Zeratul could reach.
‘Does he want to help Grid?’
Zeratul’s heated blood cooled down as he thought up to here. Grid had gained strength and grew thanks to the mercy and grace that Rebecca had shown. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that the blessings of the three G.o.ds had made him who he was today. Yet he betrayed Rebecca.
He looked down on Asgard, such as arbitrarily calling himself a G.o.d and suppressing the Rebecca Church. He was an ungrateful guy and it wasn’t enough to be torn to death. Yet rather than being punished by heaven, he was living well. He was even protected by Chiyou and Hayate, the two existences to be wary of.
Zeratul was overcome with great anger and hatred. It was unpleasant. He never imagined that his great self would shamefully feel such low-grade emotions.
“…You want me to step back? Hayate, you dare to command the G.o.d you should wors.h.i.+p? You are too arrogant.”
Zeratul’s emotions were distorted. The anger and hatred toward Grid were turned to Hayate. It couldn’t be helped. Hayate was protecting Grid. In order to pour out these unpleasant emotions onto Grid, he inevitably had to collide with Hayate.
Hayate read Zeratul’s momentum and folded his sleeves. He was preparing his clothes so they didn’t get dirty. During the time when Hayate was human, society was much more secular than it was now. The n.o.bles were forced to be lordly and Hayate was a n.o.ble to his bones. The evidence was that the tower was built to practice n.o.blesse oblige.
“The longer I live, the more I sympathize with you. It might be too harsh on you, who isn’t much different from humans emotionally, to be given the time of eternity. Zeratul, does the G.o.ddess look at you with tranquil eyes? Perhaps there is compa.s.sion in them.”
“It is a petty provocation,” Zeratul replied like it was trivial. However, his eyes were trembling slightly. He was inwardly fl.u.s.tered. He might simply be angry.
“Swallow it. Come on, swallow.” Meanwhile, Grid was still holding Biban in his arms. His fingers trembled as he pushed the white peach into Biban’s mouth. Fortunately, the white peach was a very soft and juicy fruit. It was like a lump of sweet water, so the juice flowed down his throat little by little, even though Biban couldn’t chew.
Even so, his color didn’t return. The eyes that had lost their light and become dim still didn’t move. Perhaps…
Grid thought of the worst scenario. What if… what if Biban had already eaten a white peach?
“Sehee. I need to call Sehee…”
“Did you notice why the battle between Biban and Zeratul ended so quickly?” Hayate asked a question to the panicked Grid.
Grid didn’t answer. To be exact, he had no time to answer. He was busy shouting his sister’s name to summon Ruby, who had been registered as a knight in preparation for this type of situation. However, there was no response. Reinhardt was currently suppressed by Zeratul’s divinity. In order to enter or exit the area without Zeratul’s permission, they needed a status close to Zeratul. For example, Hayate.
“It is because both Biban and Zeratul have honed their skills to the utmost limit. The moment that the tens of thousands of possibilities contained in their one step collide with each other, they cut off the other person’s retreat and turn defense into nothing.”
“Hayate, you… are you conversing with that guy in front of me?”
It was a mess. Grid was only pus.h.i.+ng the white peach into Biban’s mouth, Hayate was talking to Grid who didn’t answer, and Zeratul criticized Hayate.
“What? Who is it now?” During the uproar, Zeratul found something ridiculous. He didn’t have much time left now. Just as he was about to attack Hayate before going back to heaven, an insignificant person blocked his path and spoke to him.
It was Mercedes. She had experienced Zeratul’s overwhelming combat prowess not long ago, but she was unusually calm. She wasn’t intimidated at all against Zeratul. She didn’t just block the way. She was also glaring fiercely with killing intent. “Don’t disturb My Liege and close your mouth.”
“Ha, ha…? What the h.e.l.l is this crazy person saying?” Zeratul’s head was blank and he was so dumbfounded that he could only laugh. His emotions distorted once again. His anger and killing intent turned to Mercedes this time.
Grid suddenly came to his senses.
Hayate drew his sword. His gaze and posture were as calm as usual as he spoke in a tone that had no fluctuations, like he was reading a textbook, “The battle between masters who have reached the peak often ends as quickly as it starts.”
“Mercedes! Stay back!”
“Receive this divine punishment!”
At this point, it had gone beyond a mess. There was no sense of unity at the scene.
Mercedes backed down the moment she heard Grid’s order. Meanwhile, Zeratul swung his feet while crus.h.i.+ng the s.p.a.ce.
“In other words, in order to defeat a master of the same level—” Hayate was still giving a long speech.
“Biban?” Grid felt Biban’s throat slightly move and caught a glimpse of hope.
“Um.” Mercedes realized she couldn’t retreat and tried to fight back against Zeratul.
The reason why everyone acted separately like this was because they were too excellent. Grid continued to focus on Biban, Mercedes dared to block the path of the martial G.o.d, Hayate was obsessed with teaching, and Zeratul’s goal changed in real time. Each of them clearly recognized what they could and should do.
Unlike what it seemed on the outside, they weren’t acting because they were swept away by their mood or the atmosphere. They were setting the most reasonable priorities and acting accordingly. It was called higher cognitive ability. Everyone here was naturally equipped with the ability due to acc.u.mulating experience or talent.
It just seemed like they were acting separately because their roles were different. There wasn’t a single person who couldn’t figure out the situation.
‘I can hold on long enough.’ Mercedes was a legend. She wouldn’t die easily. Furthermore, she had Keen Insight. She knew she could hold out against Zeratul for at least seven seconds and within that time, she could receive Hayate’s help.
‘Mercedes won’t die.’ Grid also knew the ending. He focused on Biban because he judged that he would only worsen the situation if he stepped forward.
‘Hayate will come.’
First, it was Biban’s life, next was Grid’s divinity, after that was dealing a blow to Hayate, and at the end, it was Mercedes’ life—Zeratul, who had continued to adjust his goal, once again identified and prepared for the situation in real time. He tore off Mercedes’ s.h.i.+eld with his left hand while grabbing Mercedes’ sword with his right hand. He slammed his shoulder into Mercedes’ chest and bent down while putting his toes in his field of view. His body that was curled up below Mercedes contained extreme elasticity. The moment he straightened his knees, he shot forward like a ray of light.
It went beyond the metaphor of ‘breaking the speed of sound.’ If Mercedes hadn’t immediately injected sword energy into the pieces of shatter armor and used them as a weapon, there wouldn’t have been any blood flowing from Zeratul’s cheeks. It was impossible to follow his movements even with Mercedes’ Keen Insight.
Grid just vaguely saw it. Apart from a few people, those present at the scene couldn’t detect Zeratul’s movements at all. They just felt a light flas.h.i.+ng.
Zeratul smiled. It was because Hayate was right in front of him. Hayate said he wanted to teach Grid, but it felt like he was nagging all alone. Still, it was good. If Zeratul could deal a blow before going back to heaven, his anger would subside a bit.
“You need destructive power.”
Hayate’s advice ended when he and Zeratul clashed. Hayate directly showed it.
The sword that cut a dragon’s neck, the sword of the only Dragon Slayer in the world, cut Zeratul’s body into pieces. He also suffered a deep wound from his chest to his pelvis, but the only absolute in this world couldn’t die from this much. He recovered his internal organs that were pouring out and tightened the muscles to seal the wound.
Everyone was speechless. Even Grid almost dropped the precious white peach to the ground. Hayate burned the blood staining his sword with sword energy and smiled brightly.
“How about it? Did you study hard?”
Only silence followed the question. Just now, Hayate showed how to defeat a G.o.d even if he couldn’t kill a G.o.d. It was almost impossible to guess what it was like for the martial G.o.d, who was supposed to be invincible, to be defeated and to lose. Yes, Zeratul was the martial G.o.d. He might just be a copy of Chiyou, but he couldn’t be denied. Not achieving the Trinity or losing strength after being in the human world for a certain amount of time were no excuses. It was natural for him to be invincible.
Hayate, who defeated him, naturally achieved a mythical feat. So how could he be talking so calmly?
“Ah…” The apostles and knights were enlightened just because they ‘witnessed’ the mythical achievement. Grid also had his stats increased.
Grid, who had been staring at the constantly updating notification windows, suddenly came to his senses. It was because the size of the white peach in his hand decreased dramatically. He looked down and found the conscious Biban devouring the white peach. “Biban…!”
He was glad. It was really fortunate.
Biban struggled to speak to the relieved and tearful Grid, “Why…?”
“Biban, calm down and speak slowly.”
Biban was seriously injured. It was a serious wound where it wouldn’t be strange if he died at any moment. He survived purely because he was a transcendent. What was it that he wanted to convey as he endured his pain? Grid attached his ear to Biban’s mouth and his expression gradually cooled down.
“Why… didn’t… you… say… you had… white peach…”
This person didn’t change even when dying. In another sense, the startled Grid became dizzy. Then before he knew it, Hayate had already approached, placed Biban on his shoulder, and bowed to Grid. It was embarra.s.sing for Grid.
“Companion… thank you for saving my colleague.”
“No, what do you mean…?”
He was the one who should be grateful. Grid was trying to say so, only to shut his mouth. It was because he saw Hayate’s eyelids tremble. Grid realized it at this moment.
It wasn’t that the tower members weren’t afraid of death. They knew the value of life more than anyone else. Therefore, Hayate took responsibility as a powerful person. He hid his fears and built the tower as he prepared to sacrifice himself to protect people’s lives. How anxious must Hayate have been when seeing the dying Biban? Grid only realized it now. “…I also want to thank you. I will surely repay this kindness.”
“Come and talk to me occasionally. Additionally, I hope you don’t forget my small advice today. You have the potential to carry out my advice and you have a good example.” Hayate’s eyes turned to the 30 G.o.d Hands. “Make the meteorites fall.”
The potential Hayate mentioned was Greed and the example was Braham. A being who had honed the utmost limits of technique—Hayate meant to supplement the destructive power needed to ‘hit while being hit’ by using the physical power of Greed combined with reproduced magic. He thought it would be a really powerful weapon if it was possible.
Grid realized it and noticed another fact. The 400,000 Army Swordsmans.h.i.+p that he just learned from Madra’s diary—Hayate made no comment on the use of Open Potential to activate 500,000 Army Annihilation Sword.
‘Yes, the undefeated king is just the past.’
Undefeated King Madra—he always had the premise of ‘he would be the strongest if he hadn’t died.’ However, he died before he became the strongest. It meant the swordsmans.h.i.+p he left behind was lacking to be called the strongest. In fact, the Undefeated King’s Swordsmans.h.i.+p that Grid acquired wasn’t invincible.
Grid was convinced—it was his own potential, not the remnants of the past, that he had to sharpen and polish in order to become stronger in the future. The Undefeated King’s Swordsmans.h.i.+p only played the role of helping him. It wasn’t something he should rely on.
Didn’t Braham say it as well?
The greatest legend of all time is me, Grid.
“Yes, I will engrave your teachings deeply.”