Darkest Void

Chapter 29: This Is Not The Library Of Babel Because The Books Actually Make Sense

Agnes rubbed the bridge of her nose, trying to stave off the incoming headache. "How many giant worms can there be in a single tunnel?" She asked at no one in particular.

If they weren't appearing from nowhere, and now with added tiny worms that tried to touch them in places that she'd rather not say, it wouldn't be a problem. If they were coming from the front, she knew for a fact that Springfield could kill them from afar.

It only made her put it into further perspective just how much of a monster he truly was. Oh, sure, he was as handsome as they come, and even she could admit that if she lost her focus she could have been more compromised regarding the true nature of the two playboys in the team that was accompanying her. However, she didn't only guard the princess' body. Her heart was also quite important and neither of the two playboys gave her a good feeling.

Somewhere during her inner monologue, something that only extremely skilled swordsmen can do in the middle of chopping a small worm's body in half, she also thought about using them to train her musketeers. After all, the two jerks were just about as pretty as one can be, and had made the phrase 'distracted by the sexy' into something that really existed.

If the musketeers could be trained to ignore them, then they'd probably be capable of retaining focus in any situation. She quickly dispelled the image in her mind of both of them wrestling shirtless. Certainly, that'd be nightmarishly effective in her training endeavor, but right now it was unnecessarily distracting.

The big worm seemed to stare at her hungrily, but again, it didn't move. It wasn't its turn. The spell binding their actions was both a blessing and a curse in the sense that in one hand, it allowed them to get through untouched. On the other hand, they wouldn't be able to dodge if the damnable things did get to their turn.

Springfield could only kill one at once, so they had to take care of the smaller mooks while he one-hit-killed the bigger ones. It was still frightening to realize that the most powerful monsters she knew of were so easily felled by a single one of his spells, and he didn't seem to be getting tired at all.

Regardless, Agnes watched as Springfield's turn came and he fried the thing with one of his insanely powerful lightning blasts. He called it 'Thousand Thunderbolts', and it certainly merited the name.

Colbert, however, stopped them as they began to run forward. "What is it? While we wait here, more could be coming to attack us."

The man shook his balding head. "They will only attack us if we move. If we stand still, we can take a breather." He explained. "It's the same with all monsters here." He added. Then Agnes remembered that he had, in fact, been here before and probably knew the system better than anyone else.

Louise collapsed to the ground, falling on her butt, causing her hair to pool behind her. "I'm so tired…" She mumbled. Having had to explode damn near everything that couldn't be killed with straight up physical force, such as the gigantic piles of slime that showed up occasionally, was taking its toll on her. That and all the running.

Negi smiled. "It seems you need more physical conditioning." He said to himself.

Louise instantly shot to her feet and began waving her hands in front of her. "N-No, no, I'm okay? See! I can run just fine for a couple hours more!"

Eleonore nodded to herself. That was simply one of the most effective forms of motivation she'd ever seen. "I am actually rather interested in your methods of training. Even I have to admit that Louise has improved immensely on making use of her magic."

"I'd be happy to show them to you, though they're just a watered down version of my master's training." He seemed nostalgic at that point. "If I could figure out how to create a diorama sphere I could have her undertake my master's training…"

"Diorama… sphere?" Eleonore asked. Even Colbert seemed entirely curious at that point.

"It's too hard to explain, so I will give you the gist of it." Negi said. "It's basically a magical pocket dimension where time runs at a different speed than in the real world. My master had one wherein an entire day inside was equal to an hour outside. That is how I became so strong so fast."

"That just raises so many questions…" Colbert mumbled. "Ah, the revelations that come from your world astound me more every day." He added, sighing.

"I'll figure out a way to open a gateport, don't worry." Negi said, smiling widely. "I'll make it so you can at least visit." Mundus Magicus already had the fake-bodies project down pat, so they could visit even if they turned out to be magical constructs like the natives from Mars. "Plus, I seriously need to get back to work." He added, blushing slightly in embarrassment.

Agnes seemed contemplative as she sat down and stared off into the distance.

"A coin for your thoughts?" Julio offered, sitting down next to her and staring away into the darkness just as she did.

"Soon… Soon I will find out who the last few culprits of D'Angleterre's destruction are…" She said, narrowing her eyes. "Soon I will bring them to justice." She said.

Julio sighed. "I can understand your pain. Before I joined the church and became a priest" Agnes scoffed, she couldn't ever see Julio as a priest. "I was a fish out of the water. I had nobody in Romalia. I had everything taken away from me shortly before I became an agent for the pope, and since he was the one who glued the fragments of my life back together, I decided I might as well dedicate myself to aiding him." Julio said, in a low tone. "I understand the need for revenge better than what you'd think I do."

"You didn't watch your family and everyone you know die right in front of your eyes and felt the impotence when you set your eyes on their murderers." Agnes accused.

"But I know who it was that took everything from me. I look at him in the face every day of my life, Agnes. Well, except for these last few ones since, well, he's in Romalia and all." The fake priest conceded, sounding far too cheerful for his words. "And you know what? I have forgiven him. I forgave him long ago, when I realized that killing him wouldn't bring my life back. When I realized that I was stuck in the life I had now."

Agnes grunted, a noncommittal sound that said nothing about what she thought about the young man's words. She couldn't quite agree with him, but she did understand his position. She could understand his loyalty to the pope. The man was probably filling the same role that the princess did for her, a morality chain that kept her from going batshit with grief and rage.

There was another thud as a second person dropped next to Agnes. "You too, huh?" Said a far off sounding voice. Agnes knew the pain of the man sitting next to her well. After all, he had shared the story some time ago. "The world must be a small place, to gather everyone who's ever sought revenge in one place."

"That was why you sympathized with my cause, right?" Agnes questioned, remembering when he had defended her reason for going into the forbidden library.

Negi nodded. "The reason I originally was so desperate to gain power was to avenge the destruction of my own home village. I eventually found both the main perpetrator as well as the people who'd ordered it. They were the same people who ruined the life of my mother and countless people when they falsely accused her as being the one who'd prompted a calamity that felled her kingdom's capital."

Agnes snorted. "Ruined lives seems to be a theme in our little group…" she mumbled.

Then he sighed, rubbing the top of his head. "I wish I could say I went the higher route on my own, but when someone who claimed to be the culprit admitted to his part in the events of my village… I kinda lost it." He said, offering an embarrassed grin. "I still have my students to thank for slapping some sense into me. If it weren't for them, that man would've manipulated me to eliminate his political enemies for him."

"I did that part willingly." Julio replied, offering Negi a rueful grin. "The Pope had many dissidents who didn't believe in his authority."

"I don't doubt it." The amount of people who called bullshit on the pope back in his own world probably completely outstripped the amount of people who did the same in Halkeginia, though.

"Most of my targets coincide with the people that need to be removed for the good of Tristain." Agnes said. "It doesn't surprise me at all." She added.

"Anyway… The point is, we know how it feels to have your revenge so close and so far away. All I could do was publically discredit them when they opposed me. I won't talk to you about moral superiority or anything like that. I have done many things I wish I could do differently." Negi explained. "But don't let it consume you. Don't let it be your only purpose for existing. There are people who care about you, Agnes."

Julio smirked. "Do you think that we'd want to get news of your death in the battlefield? Do you think the princess will think about how you died content because you'd finished your revenge or about how you died in the middle of the battlefield under her orders and blame herself for it?" He began, standing up. "How do you think your musketeers, the ones who look up to you as their leader and trainer, will react to you being an empty husk with no purpose?"

"Just think about it." Negi added, turning around and walking back to where Louise and Eleonore were discussing whether or not the latter could survive two days under the former's training regime. Negi knew the answer, but it was funny to watch them argue nonetheless.

"This is unnecessary… young people such as yourselves shouldn't have to face the horrors of war."

However, when he got back to them, their topic of conversation had changed. It had changed to Louise's intent to join the war effort. This made sense from her standpoint, as she was not gonna let the princess go off alone. No way would she ever risk the princess entering a battle without her.

Even if all she could do was soak blows for her, she wouldn't let her go to her possible death alone.

Colbert's yell made Agnes stand up. "They are fighting for their country." She said, narrowing her eyes and locking a deadly gaze upon the pacifist teacher. "It should be an honor to be allowed to do that much."

"That is absurd!" Colbert snapped back. "You are just saying that because you have never seen the true face of war!"

Agnes seemed to freeze on the spot, her right hand, the one that held the lantern, trembling slightly as she tried not to explode on the spot from sheer anger.

"Have you?" Negi asked. There were many things he didn't know about Colbert, as most of what he knew came from Colbert's current life. His past was still shrouded with mystery, as was expected from someone who wasn't particularly proud of their past.

"I…" Colbert stopped, his voice trembling.

"I have." Agnes said, her voice cold and flat. "Although, more than a war, it was a massacre." She added, gripping the handle of her blade tightly. Colbert frowned harder than ever, looking conflicted.

"Twenty years ago… with the excuse that it was a measure to destroy the last vestiges of rebellion in Tristain … The religious leaders began to wipe out any and all villages that could have been a refuge for them. Lishimon himself planned everything." Agnes explained, glaring at Colbert as she did, her voice tinged with equal parts anger and sorrow.

"That…" Colbert seemed to be shocked.

"That man obtained his position through his work in eliminating the rebels and used the massacre to secure his position even further. Due to him, my family and friends… all of them… were burned to ashes." She said, letting go of her sword and staring at the distance behind Colbert. "I am the only known survivor, rescued by a turncoat of all things."

"So, your anger is still…"

"Even if I have killed Lishimon, the group that performed the massacre of D'Angleterre are still alive! That is why I cannot let this opportunity pass me by. There must be records of that mission somewhere, and if there are, they are in this library!"

"So… that's why…" Louise said, looking away, not quite sure how to react to this. She'd come along for the sake of helping Agnes, since she felt some measure of respect and admiration for the woman, even if she'd deny admiring anyone who isn't a mage.

"Yes." Agnes said nonchalantly. "Break time is over. We should continue. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Colbert sighed. "There is something I haven't spoken about yet. There is a monster guarding the library. There always is one." He said, looking apologetic. "And it tends to be far too tough to combat it, no matter who we bring with us. So far, it has proven to be completely invulnerable to everything we have tried to use to kill it. The only way to reliably get past it is for someone to lure it away while everyone else continues."

"So coming here was a suicide mission anyway?" Asked Eleonore. "This doesn't sound like something that Osmond would ever approve of."

"The creature is very persistent, once it has a target, it will continue to chase them until it can't anymore. It, however, isn't very smart. While it does take on different forms, it is never smaller than the entrance to the tunnel, and it will try to attack those within it until it can't anymore." Colbert explained. "So if someone could gain its attention, they'd be in relatively little danger. However, it's fond of utilizing magic to flush them out, so it has to be someone who is either skilled in defense or avoidance."

"Somehow, this seems awfully convenient." Muttered Eleonore. "Almost as if it was designed that way."

Colbert smiled. "It was. I don't know much of the original design of this tunnel, as it predates the archives in the library, however, from what I can gather it was designed to hold a treasure that was incredibly valuable, but could be taken by those worthy enough to wield it. It is most likely using elven magic to achieve this."

Louise's eyes widened. "Does this mean that the treasure is still here?"

"No, it was taken long ago. Legend says that the Gandalfr himself possessed it."

During Colbert's explanation, however, Negi had hung back, actually taking a moment to have a private conversation. "You have been awfully quiet lately, Derflinger…" He said, looking with curiosity filled eyes at the sword in his hand.

"… There's something about this situation that I don't like, but I don't know what. It's just… there's been this ominous feeling I've had ever since we wandered in here." Derflinger spoke, sounding nowhere near as boisterous or confident as it usually did. "And it's been steadily getting worse. Thought you should know."

The sword had accurately guessed that Negi at some point would've wondered about its silence. Nonetheless, he rejoined the group just as they were discussing the strategy for actually confronting the creature, and possible guesses as what form it'd take and how to be prepared for them.

"Who will deal with it, then?" Asked Julio, although everyone knew the answer, since they immediately turned to Negi. "That was a dumb question, wasn't it?" Everyone nodded as an answer.

"Sometimes, being immortal comes in handy." Negi said, smiling.

They continued to walk, having already decided that there was really no reason not to have him take care of the damnable Boss. Then they came upon a gigantic bridge that was actually lit by the sunlight going through the cracks in the ceiling. Guessing this to be one of the hills not too far away from the academy, Agnes scoffed, seeing no gigantic monster…

…Only for a ludicrously huge white dragon to swoop down from the ceiling, leaving behind itself a path of white dust and razor sharp wind gales. Without even stopping for the RPG mechanics to take place, the draconic entity flapped its wings and stopped its descent a few hundred meters away from them, throwing its long neck and head back until it stared at the ceiling.

The sound of cracking lightning and of a distant thunderclap warned everyone of the gathering lightning in its maws. Negi put both of his hands forward and created a much wider barrier around himself than usual. "Kratiste Aigis!" Upon his cry, the barrier came to life, showing everyone its ridiculously overblown form as countless charms, bounded fields wards and ritual circles formed all around the entire adventuring party.

The dragon let loose its breath weapon, letting free a stream of white and yellow energy that tore through the air, the dragon's mighty roar making the flimsy bridge shake under its power and deafening those behind the barrier for an instant.

The stream of energy crashed against the barrier and maintained its assault for a couple seconds, but afterwards dissipated to reveal that it hadn't managed to pierce through it.

Negi offered the dragon a grin as he looked up to the still floating thing. It seemed outright confused. "Run along, now." He said. "This might be a bit… out of hand." He said, then he turned his head around and looked at his allies from over his shoulder, offering a thumbs up. "I'll be fine!" he added, pulling his glasses off.

Louise almost instantly, but shook her head to clear her thoughts and looked away from his face. "What are you doing?" She asked.

"If these get broken, I don't have a way to replace them, and that would be a huge problem." Negi admitted, rubbing the back of his neck. "So… Can you hold them for me?"

Louise nodded with a smile. "Don't go making the dragon fall in love with you, now." She joked. Then she stopped. "No, I'm serious about that one." She added as an afterthought.

Right as he turned back, there was the sound of another distant thunderclap as the dragon prepared to fire another stream of lightning.

Nodding dumbly, Louise began to run, seeing that everyone was already doing so. She sneaked one last look behind her to see Negi activating that ridiculously powerful lightning form of his. However, she looked up to see that the dragon's form was also ghostly white. However, she firmly squashed any doubts she might have had.

Negi wasn't gonna be killed, even if he did get his ass kicked, so she wasn't gonna worry about it that much.

The party, being down one member, continued on towards the library.

Once inside and far away from the blast zone, everyone relaxed. As they did, Colbert turned to the still panting with exertion musketeer captain. "Agnes…" he began.

"What?" She snapped back, forcefully placing her breathing under control.

"What will you do once you obtain the identities you seek?" Asked Colbert.

Agnes raised an eyebrow. "That much should be obvious."

"And what will you do afterwards? What will you do once your revenge is complete?" Colbert asked her, adjusting his glasses as he did. "You are the only survivor… will you throw your precious life away just for vengeance and war?" He asked, sounding more than a tad sorrowful about said fact.

Agnes refused to dignify that with an answer, instead adjusting the belt strapped to her waist, because her sword was poking her in places best left unmentioned.

"Have you ever fallen in love?" Colbert asked.

This almost caused Agnes to face-fault. To go from a perfectly serious conversation to… this? "What the..?"

"Love." Colbert replied. "Lust even." He added. "You are still young, you should try to experience life to the fullest. Don't you think that doing so is more important than senseless fighting?"

"That is stupid. We don't have time to speak about things like this!" She immediately snapped.

Louise, always one to be the teacher's pet, even if unconsciously, decided that that was the moment to pip in. "Actually, we have as much time as we need. Negi won't lose, and if he is in danger of losing, escape should be easy anyway." She said. "He's really, really fast." She added, seeing the looks of surprise in her companions' faces.

"I have heard a rather interesting piece of trivia that might be important regarding this…" Julio said, a self pleased grin on his face. "I wonder if it is, in fact, true that Captain Agnes of the Musketeers does not like men…"

Agnes snorted. "Most men are pigs indeed, and I have half a mind to disable your ability to be one forever…" She muttered, patting the sword at her hip. "What are you getting at?"

"Well, there are rumors, here and there. You understand, my… friends" His fangirls, everyone corrected for him. "Often spoke about them immediately after your training ended. I might have overheard a few. Would you care to learn them?"

Louise raised one eyebrow, as did Eleonore. Those moments of synchronicity were the ones which proved they were, indeed, siblings. "Now I'm curious." They both stated at the same time.

"There is the one rumor that says that Agnes does not like men because she, in fact, prefers the fairer sex." Julio said with a smile on his face that oozed smugness. He almost immediately dodged a swat to his head. "I am merely relaying the rumor, not propagating it." He said, holding up his hands in a placating gesture, seeing Agnes' eyebrow twitch and her fist tremble.

"I'm not a lesbian!" She yelled.

"… Nobody's buying it." Muttered Louise. "This explains so many things…" She added.

Julio smiled. "To be quite honest, I believe that nobody is truly straight or gay." He said, dodging another angry swipe. "Everyone has some degree of attraction for both sexes. It just takes a particularly attractive member of the appropriate sex to bring said attraction to the forefront." Agnes actually stopped trying to murder him at that point, so he decided to take another breath. Two bouts of intensive physical action in a row could destroy one's cardiac rhythm.

"Seriously?" Eleonore asked.

Julio nodded. "For instance, there have been more than one man who previously believed himself straight that have approached me." He said. "I'm just that pretty." He added, focusing his mismatched eyes on the entrance. "From what I've heard, Negi has had it worse than this, however. I'd rather not ask."

"I'm so going to ask when I get the chance." Louise spoke. Moments in which her familiar, so often impossibly cool, was on the wrong end of the short stick were few and far between and she could always use blackmail material.

"Cattleya will want to know, too." Eleonore informed. "As do I." She added.

"Do you enjoy making other people's lives miserable?" Asked Agnes to the fake priest swordsman.

"Only when it's funny." Julio spoke, offering her a beatific smile.

Colbert chuckled, seeing that their antics couldn't be stopped by something as simple as having met one of the most powerful magical beasts that live in Halkeginia. Talking about that, he was once again very surprised by the sheer power of the redheaded enigma known as Negi Springfield. To block such a powerful attack so easily…

What Colbert didn't know was that Negi had actually used a very powerful barrier to stop it.

… And such barriers were rare. Most had to take physical form. They couldn't outright manipulate raw willpower like that. It was far easier to manipulate an element than it was to manipulate raw willpower without any elemental affiliation, which is why enchanters weren't far more common than they were. Regardless, they had work to do.

"Let's get through here."

With the course set, they pushed through the double doors and entered the library, gasping in shock at the size of the incredibly tall bookcases that separated the square room into far smaller areas to peruse and search through.

"This is… incredible." Spoke Julio. "I never thought it'd be as big as the Romalian Archives…" He said, looking around as he stepped through the door.

"I wonder why there are so many documents that need to be hidden…" Louise muttered. She couldn't quite believe that the nobility would need to hide so many of their affairs' records like this.

"Little Louise, you must learn that not everything is as it seems at first glance. All noble families have done things they are not proud of, and many have skeletons in their dungeons. Records of every important event are kept here." Eleonore said. "It's just further explanation as to why the Royal Family continues to be in power to this day, and why there are some nobles whose positions are far more secure than others. It's not about money. It's about information. It's about reputation." She explained, walking behind the pinkette and gesturing towards the books as she walked. "This is the very essence of politics." She finished.

"Is that so?" Louise mumbled. "I don't like it." She finally passed judgment.

"No one does." Colbert said, sighing.

"But it's the tune that the nobility dances to, and you better learn the steps." Julio threw in his two cents.

Louise sighed in resignation about said fact.

"These documents are too recent. We should search further back." Agnes spoke, guiding everyone's attentions to the bookshelves as they continued to wander through the immense library.

It took fifteen minutes for them to come across the particular book that Agnes was looking for. It was even titled the 'D'Angleterre Incident'. Agnes sat in the stairs that lead to the second floor to read every detail of the operation, who gave the order, who formed the team, and while she was doing so, copying down whatever information she could onto a clear book she'd brought along just for said purpose.

Just then, an earthquake shook the ground.

"Well, they're taking their fight seriously, now." Julio said, smiling widely as he perused through a book that contained something that should never have been written down. He actually contemplated destroying the damnable affront against all that is the Bro Code. One of its rules was maintaining the utmost secrecy about what it entailed, which was one of the few rules that his status in the Bro Scale allowed Julio to actually divulge.

As it was, however, the book he was reading only mentioned some precepts and tenets in passing without mentioning what exactly they referred to and left them unexplained. A great risk if it came into the eyes of a woman who was aware of its existence, but nothing too dangerous to leave in a forgotten library that only politicians visited anyway.

Deciding to leave it be, he put it back in its place.

Meanwhile, Colbert went through a document regarding the funds directed towards the academy. He was outright pissed that more wasn't allotted towards his research and wanted to have proof when he called bullshit on Osmond's justifications of having limited bullshit.

Turns out, Colbert was right. There was far more funds than Osmond said there were. Well, now he would probably have enough money to actually get things done.

Eleonore was frustrated since while there was actually dirt on her family and her father, there was little to nothing of note in his youth. There were hints. Implications. Nothing explicit, however. This was incredibly frustrating, as her father and mother both kept a tight lip on the duke's past.

Louise had to admit, she was rather curious about her father's past and was actually helping Eleonore find evidence on his misspent youth. Both knew that their parents, both of them, had been considered very attractive in their youths. Louise did not, as a matter of fact, know that she was the spitting image of her mother at her age and assumed that she was as mature as Cattleya by then.

They were, therefore, going through books at an incredibly fast rate.

"I'm worried." However, this didn't prevent Louise from actually returning to worrying about her familiar. "I think he should've been done by this point…" She said. "How long has it been?"

"At most half an hour." Julio said. "Though I don't think we have been here for more than fifteen minutes." He added.

Colbert nodded. "I agree." He added, closing the book in his hands with a snap.

"The monster that Springfield is facing is very tough, but its attack wasn't able to scratch his barrier. He should be fine." Eleonore reassured Louise. "Now get back to helping me." She added, pulling on Louise's arms as they went through the library.

With a frustrated growl, however, Agnes slammed her book against the ground. "The captain's name is gone! Torn off the page!" She yelled in frustration, standing up. "This was pointless! I can't catch the main culprit of D'Angleterre's destruction!"

Colbert sighed. "I apologize for this trip being in vain." He said.

Julio sighed. "Have you gotten anything from this?" He asked.

Agnes took a deep breath and tried to calm herself down. "I have several leads. Most of which I have already pursued." She said, shaking her head. "No matter, I have the names of several officers that belonged to the unit. I will find them and I will get my answer before I kill them."

Colbert frowned at that, but didn't comment further.

"Let's go back, then." Julio said, placing the book in his hands back on the bookshelf he'd taken it from. "I'm certain that Negi must be bored of fighting that thing by now…"

Talking about said redhead…

There was a resonating crash as the draconic being slammed against a wall, it's ghostly, white form twisting and convulsing as it did. Negi floated several meters away, a frown on his face. He'd determined several things.

Whatever it was, it could change forms rapidly, even if it remained at a general size. It was also completely immune to lightning and wind elemental magic, and Negi wasn't even gonna try to use Light to fight it. He wasn't good at all in its use. He could try fire, but all the fire spells he knew were very heavy on the collateral damage part and they could make the bridge he was guarding from the being's efforts to destroy it be invalidated by his own actions.

Therefore, he settled on one of the few spells of Great Magic that he knew he could make single-target through synthesis.

It quickly changed form into something that gave Negi pause. The redhead blinked owlishly at the sight. There, about four stories tall, was… himself.

Oh, not as what he looked like right now, no. Negi was seeing what he had seen when Evangeline's scroll had taken him to the bottom of his heart. That was what his inner darkness looked like. All spikes. Pure white skin, contrasted with black lines pulsing with energy. It opened its mouth and let loose a torrent of white energy.

The young man was too shocked to block right away, and while his instincts made a barrier rise, the mere proximity to the pure light energy the creature had thrown his way had left a burning, tingling sensation all across his body.

With grim resolution, Negi had finally decided that its main element was light. Sure, everything else was decently powerful, but it had absolutely devastating light attacks, he would admit.

He had to end the fight now, since it also seemed to possess unlimited Stamina.

Deciding on what his course of action should be, the young man tagged a spot on the opposite wall to the one the monster was clinging to and flashed in that direction. This would barely give him enough time to punch through the incantation while it was convinced looking for him. Maybe he should have practiced this spell until he could get it off without the incantation, like the Thousand Thunderbolts… but he just hadn't ever thought he'd need to.

Even now, he considered, it was probably one of the very few times it'd ever come in handy.

"Obey the contract, obey me, o queen of the night!" He intoned, as he began to gather his own power. His mana reacted far more easily than it did whenever he used the Thousand Thunderbolts, cascading to where he called it. In every inch of his body, it screamed for release. It screamed to flow into the spell.

The shadows writhed, responded to his call. "Come, everlasting darkness, the eternal night!"

The world lost its light and darkness fell. The room was covered in a thick black blanket.

There was a pull, the force of mana gathering in one place, as the world stopped making sense. Where there had once been a demonic entity of immeasurable strength, aligned with the element of light, was now a tightly compressed ball of inky black stuff. Negi stared at the formed sphere, both anxious and dreading the next moment.

"In the darkness, all things become eternal nothingness."

And the ball of blackness compressed itself into a small dot.

Said dot summarily exploded in an amazing Technicolor display that forced Negi to cover his eyes.

It felt good. It felt good to use that much power at once. It felt good to stir the darkness.

It felt horrible to know that much.

At the very least, it still was as bloody complicated as he remembered it to be. Sure, his body reacted, but his mind didn't ever enter the correct state to utilize the spells of the darkness element. Even if his affinity was second only to Evangeline herself, this spell was a pain in the ass to use.

The spell itself required a good deal of knowledge of gravity magic to work. Most of the high end spells utilize a sub-element to help them do their task, such as Earth with fire to create Lava or Ice with Darkness to create the ring of coldness.

The darkness just happened to rely on gravity to the end of creating a physical space that made absolutely no sense to the laws of nature and could be freely manipulated by its creator. So far, Negi had concluded that this spell was also the basis of the one that the Lifemaker had used to create the alternate plane that housed Mundus Magicus, except in much smaller scale, and the basis in which many of the space-barrier spells were based in.

Which explains why it required knowledge of all of the disciplines that entail creating an alternate plane.

Regardless, now was not the time to dwell on the workings of one single annoying spell.

Negi sighed. The damnable thing was gone. It regenerated as much as he did. Sure, it could barely harm him, even if it struck him dead on, but its light attacks did target Negi's elemental weakness which made them be more annoying than anything else. The problem was that it regenerated just as much as Negi did, though Negi hadn't delivered a brutally lethal blow to check if it'd recover from being smeared against a wall.

He had used a bloodless method of elimination since he wasn't particularly fond of gore flying everywhere.

It still wasn't anywhere near pleasant. He just hoped that the complete destruction of the physical body wouldn't harm whatever it was. He couldn't be too sure what kind of immortality it had…

Guess who's back? Back again! I am back! Tell a friend!

Guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back!

I've created a monster. 'Cuz nobody wants to see Ingrato no more they want DV I'm chopped liver. Well if you want DV this's what I'll give ya. A little bit of weed mixed with some hard liquor some vodka that will jump start my fic quicker than the shocks when I get shocked at Iridia by the forum when I'm not cooperating, when I'm rocking the table while they are playing Rayman!

You waited this long to see a chapter 'cuz I'm back, I'm on the rack and spewing! Well I know that I've got a job you ladies but this fic's heart problem is complicating!

So the FFC won't let me be or let me be me so let me see: They tried to shut me down on the TV but it feels so empty, without me!

This looks like a job for me so everybody, just follow me, 'cuz we need a little controversy 'cuz it'd feel so empty, without me!

In all seriousness... Chapter 30 might take a while...