Grimgal Of Ashes And Illusion / Grimgal of Ashes and Illusion Vol 2 Chapter 13

LEVEL 2: Everything is Precious, Nothing is Replaceable

Chapter 13: Combo

He couldn’t stay in the pigworm pen forever… one of the pigworms had fallen in love with him, and it grossed him out.

“Look, I just don’t think this relationship is going to work,” Ranta told the pigworm that had attached itself to him. “I’m sorry… Actually, no. I’m not frickin’ sorry at all—Hey! Quit following me! Quit it or I’ll roast you up and eat you whole!”

He was protesting in vain however, as the pigworm buu-hee buu-buu-ed at him and attempted to snuggle even closer.

“Stupid love-struck pigworm! See ya!” Ranta shook off the pigworm and jumped over the fence.

The only creature who followed now was his demon, Zodiak.

{Wimp imp! Heehehehehe… imp imp imp! Keehehehehe… imp imp imp imp!}

“Shut it, Zodiak!”

{YOU shut it! Hehehehe… FOREVER shut it!}

“You telling me to die?! Is that what you’re saying!?”


“You take that back right now!”

But no, hold on a second… Before Ranta could complete the thought, Zodiak suddenly drew near, put its rippling mouth close to Ranta’s ear and whispered, {It’s here… it’s here… hehehe… the one who has come to silence you… it’s here…}


Panicked, Ranta hurriedly looked around him. There it was: an elder kobold, one of those foremen who carried an iron-tipped whip and barbed wire. Luckily, it wasn’t looking in Ranta’s direction, but it was definitely coming his way. He hesitated for a brief second before jumping back into the pen with the pigworm he’d just rejected.

In the pigworm pen he wouldn’t be noticed by any nearby kobolds. There was another pigworm pen close by, but earlier he and the others had thrown the elder they killed into that one. After witnessing them greedily devouring the body, Ranta decided to refrain from entering that particular pen. Getting eaten was not preferred.

He was immediately jumped by a pigworm—no, not exactly “jumped”; one of the pigworms just sort of sidled up and wrapped itself around him. Soon, another one did the same and now he had not one but two pigworms that were into him. They licked his face so enthusiastically with their sandpaper tongues that it hurt. He might actually be bleeding, it hurt so much.

Shit… “Guess I’m irresistible,” he said to himself.

{Irrrrresistable! Irrrrresistable! Heehehehe… irrrrresistable… keehehehe… irrrrresistable!}

“Zodiak, you bastard…” Ranta swore from the bottom of his heart that one of these days, he was going to beat the crap out of that little shit.

But not right now. Zodiak wasn’t like the pigworms who had snuggled up to Ranta, but he wasn’t a Dread Knight’s demon best friend either. A demon’s special abilities depended on the number of Vices its Dread Knight amassed.

Zero to ten Vices was rank one and the demon would give a warning when enemies were near. If it felt like it. Eleven to forty was rank two and the demon would distract enemies by whispering things in their ears. If it felt like it. Rank three was after have collected forty-one or more Vices, the demon would trip up enemies or otherwise obstruct their movement. But only if it felt like it, of course.

However, the above only applied after sunset, when Luminous’ power waned; the god of Light and Lord Skulheill’s born enemy. At rank one, Dread Knights couldn’t even summon their demons during the daytime. And at levels above the second rank, the effectiveness of a demon during daylight hours was always one rank lower than its current rank.

Ranta was currently rank three and even though it was hard to tell time within the mines, he guessed that it wasn’t evening yet because Zodiak performed rank two abilities… if Zodiak felt like it.

“My master told me that the more Vices I collect,” he muttered. “My demon would become stronger, become more obedient but…”

{Really? Is that really true? Keehehehe… did he really say that? Heehehehe…}

“Yeah, he did.”

{You got tricked! Tricked! Keehehehe… tricked tricked tricked! Heehehehe…}

“Quit saying stuff like that. It’ll jinx me.”

{Jinx! Jinx! Jinx! Eeehehehehe… you’ll be biting the dust today! Heehehehe…}

“Fuck you, Zodiak. This is why I don’t like summoning you.”

That said, there were times—like when Zodiak warned him about the elder earlier—that the demon was helpful. And… because being all alone down here made him feel almost a tiny little bit lonely.

No no no, Ranta shook his head. “I’m not lonely. Fuck that. No way. I don’t even know the meaning of the word.”

{Liar! Liar liar liar! Keehehehe… big fat liar! Hehehe… hehe… dirty liar!}

“I’m not big or fat or dirty or a liar!”

He couldn’t help getting pissed off at the demon, but thanks to Zodiak being around, at least there was never a dull moment. Ranta nodded to convince himself.

“That’s clearly a huge constituent of things. Constituent. Man, I know some pretty damn cool words. Not ‘factor’, CONSTITUENT. Goddamn it sounds so awesome because I’m the one saying it. So that means that I’m goddamn awesome too. Got it, Zodiak? Consti—… Zodiak! Oy! Zodiak, say something insulting back!”


“Hey, why aren’t you saying anything now? Say something!”


“Zodiak! Oy! Zodiak!”


“Zoooodiak! …Zodiak?”


“Wha—what’s going on? Zodiak, what’s wrong? What happened? Are you okay?”



{Aaahahaha… tricked you! Keehehehe… triiiiiiiiiicked youuuuuuu!}


Ranta attempted to punch the demon as chastisement, but missed completely as Zodiak bounded away and out of reach.

{You don’t know how to hit a demon… even though you’re a stupid Dread Knight… Keehehehehe…}

“I-idiot! ‘Course I can! But you’re my demon, right? What kind of person would I be, hitting my own demon?!”

{Really? Really? Hehe! Do you reeeeeeally mean it?}

“Of course! Would I say it if I weren’t serious?”

{…Fuck you a hundred million times!}


{Keeehehehe… Heehehe… Keeehehehe… Hehe… Keehehehehe…}

Damn it. This was turning into something resembling a goddamn soap opera lover’s quarrel. It was kind of fun earlier, but not anymore.

“…Can’t just hide. It’s not like me. But I don’t see any other choice… maybe?”

But even if he did remain here, he didn’t think help was going to come. They’re not coming. No way they’ll come… No, there wasn’t any reason to expect anyone to come. Why am I even hoping they would? Pathetic. Am I a man or what?

“If I see the others again, I’ll deal with it then,” Ranta told himself as he decided to gamble on leaving the pen. Being on the move was more like him. It made him feel better.

He shoved all his attached pigworms aside and leaped out of the pen. There was still a long way to go before he could completely make an escape, so he scurried along the paths between pens rather than running at full speed.

“Easy. Piece of cake.”

The areas in and around the darkshroom, ogrefern, and glow blossom fields were dangerous; they were completely exposed and many kobold workers milled about. But only the occasional elder and maybe a regular kobold or two patrolled around the pigworm and pigrat pens so it was definitely safer around here. The fences around the pens were also high, so if Ranta bent low, he could remain unseen. But maybe he was being a little too careful.

“At this rate, I can probably jump around with no problems…” he chuckled.

Growing bolder, Ranta jumped between two pens and suddenly collided with a worker kobold as he landed. The kobold yelped and Ranta was about to shout, too, before realizing there was no time for talk. He moved to engage all out, but it didn’t look like he had time to even draw his longsword.

What was he going to do…?

Inspiration suddenly struck. He had seen Haruhiro use a new skill recently, [WIDOW MAKER], probably it was called. Maybe he could use that. Ranta had no idea how the skill was actually executed, but he’d seen it enough that if he just copied Haruhiro, things would somehow work out.

“Hey! Quit moving around!” Ranta demanded as he moved in to lock down the kobold’s arms.

Naturally, the kobold fought back and it was goddamn strong too. But Ranta was also desperate to win. He pinned both the kobold’s arms down with his own, and attempted to wrap his own leg around the kobold’s, but it didn’t work out the way he imagined. They went down together in a mess of tangled limbs.

As they both rolled around on the floor, Ranta hit his head several times. The thing also elbowed him repeatedly in the ribs and it hurt far more than he thought it would. This [WIDOW MAKER] skill looked easy, but it really wasn’t. Even though he temporarily held down the kobold’s arms, it didn’t look like he could do anything more.

“Gotta… strangle it!”

He let the kobold’s arms go for now, wrapped both hands around its throat instead, and applied pressure like mad. As the kobold started to suffocate, it thrashed around even more wildly than before, trying to throw Ranta off. Ranta yelled, holding on with all his strength.

The kobold swiped and clawed at his face, stuck its fingers into his mouth and tore the corner of his lip open.

“ARGH!!!” Ranta bit down on the kobold’s fingers in response and clasped down on its neck even harder.

Then finally, finally the worker kobold’s body went limp.

“Did I—?! No, not yet!”

He refused to believe it was dead and kept his strangle hold on it for a good five, ten seconds more, never taking the pressure off its throat. It’s okay now…

He checked to see if the kobold was still breathing. It wasn’t. It was dead. Ranta shoved himself away from the kobold’s body and started to get back onto his feet, but couldn’t. All his strength felt drained from his body. Zodiak bounced and floated around Ranta and looked down at him from above.

{Keehehehe… what’re you doing? Rookie! Rookie rookie cookie! Hehehehe….}

“Cookie? What the hell…?”

That was a really close fight though. Too close for comfort… or was it? Nah, not dangerous at all… He was flawlessly, perfectly fine.

“Yeah, let’s just leave it at that…”

Ranta rolled onto all fours and pushed himself back up onto his feet. How to dispose of the body? Before that, he retrieved its talisman. The acquisition of loot made him feel a little better as he shoved the body into a pigrat pen with a grunt of effort.


The sound of barking filled the air. A kobold. No, not just one, a good number of kobolds were rushing towards him from a bit of a distance away.

{Man up, Dread Knight! Eeehehehe… Fight fight fight! Keehehehe…}

“No frickin’ way! I can’t take on all of them!”

{Wimp imp! Imp imp imp! Eeeehehehe…}

“Fuck you, Zodiak!”

Ranta turned on his heels and ran, his body like lead. Maybe the heaviness of his body was just his imagination, but his torn lip sure hurt. A lot. How badly had the kobold torn it? Shit. He was going to be called Cleft Lip Boy for the rest of his life now. It’ll spoil his killer looks.

Not the time to be thinking about that! his inner voice told him.

When Ranta turned back to look behind him, he saw at the kobolds had nearly caught up to him. Of course he wanted to say something smartass-y, but he’d had enough of Zodiak’s jeers. In his current state, he didn’t know whether he could take more of the demon’s acerbic responses.

Wordlessly and without looking back, he ran for all he was worth.

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