The Incarnation’s screams filled with divinity penetrated deep inside, scratching at my eardrums.
Blood dripped from my ears, and I was assailed by a wave of vertigo.
A dreadful fear that anyone would feel as a living creature gripped my heart, mixed with the respect that must be paid as a lesser creature.
I stumbled back.
I wheezed as the smoke and dust-choked my lungs.
I couldn’t easily stand again as fear took hold of me…
I heard a voice through the dark.
My mind, once engulfed in chaos, was reawakened.
I forced myself to my feet and started running.
“Thank you, Mother.
I almost died.”
The Incarnation was a living disaster.
The divinity contained in their scream almost devoured me.
It was bearable at first, but as I continued to be exposed, it started eating my mind.
If the Mother of Corruption hadn’t woken me up, I would’ve lost the will to get back up from where I’d fallen.
More absorbable corpses appeared.
I stretched out my hand and shouted.
“Mother! I’ll give them to you!”
As the bodies rotted, divinity flowed in.
I shifted my stance, and a blood-red tentacle whirred by.
It scratched my shoulder and dug deep into the ground beside me.
I sliced through it with the Froststeel blade.
“It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts!!!”
The amount of divinity contained in its scream increased.
My recent counterattack intensified the Incarnation’s anger, but that wasn’t my concern.
I sprinted through the ruins of Kelton with the Corruption Arts pulsing through my veins.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
The noises the Incarnation made were getting closer and closer.
The monster continued to adapt to its own body during our bloody chase, becoming faster, stronger, and sharper.
He was reborn as a true predator.
On the other hand, I was doing my best from the start.
Naturally, the distance between me and that monster was narrowing.
I clenched my teeth and looked to my destination.
Kelton’s mansion loomed ahead.
There, right there, was a corpse with a much higher chance of giving me divinity than if I searched the rest of the city.
I lowered my head.
Two bloody tentacles shot through the air where my head was.
Feeling my muscles bursting, I swung and sliced them off.
This threw my center of balance off, and I hit the ground rolling.
The bright-red monster stared at me with a single eye protracted through its split forehead.
Was I finally caught? But I had one card saved for this moment.
The Giant of Corruption ripped through space and jumped out, striking the Incarnation with its massive fist.
Tentacles pierced the giant’s hand and ripped apart its fist.
Was it not enough even with this? I turned my back with no regrets left and ran screaming.
“Don’t overdo it! I’ll be back soon!”
The Giant of Corruption roared once more and rushed the Incarnation.
I had to use this golden moment of reprieve that the Giant of Corruption had earned for me.
Breaking through the air, I jumped into the burning lord’s mansion.
A dead body.
I needed a body.
At least the corpses of knights or well-trained elite soldiers should do.
However, too much time had passed for the corpses at the mansion’s entrance to be absorbed.
Had I known this would happen, I would have recovered their divinity first.
Had I given too much priority to blocking the evil worshipers’ plans?
Belated regrets flooded inside me, but there was no room to wallow.
I sprinted into the shimmering flames.
Each was too late to harvest.
When I turned to look at Mother’s cry, I found a corpse in armor leaning against the wall.
The flesh inside the armor rotted and spat out its divinity.
One hundred divinity, so it was worth two fingers.
Starting from where this corpse was, more that I could still harvest appeared one after another.
Each one, torn, crushed, and ripped apart, insisted on how ferocious the resistance had been in this place.
It was just revenge for a fair price.
Blood for blood.
That was all I could do for these unfortunate people.
A little bit.
A little bit more.
Finally, I absorbed all the corpses to be found here.
But it wasn’t enough.
I needed just a bit more.
I ran through the mansion.
The giant’s roars from outside stopped, and I could feel a different presence approach.
Mother’s earnest request to just run away resounded in my mind.
I gripped the Froststeel sword and clenched my teeth.
Not yet, Mother.
I just remembered where another might be.”
I ran through the collapsing mansion.
The wooden pillars fell with a crackling road.
Smoke clogged the air.
The fire had already consumed almost all of it, and now it sought to consume me as I searched.
But finally, I found them, a human worth only one finger.
The decapitated corpse of Stren Plkor, Lord of Kelton, awaited me.
The Incarnation broke the wall and stepped through.
His body, before a mere lump of flesh, now took the shape of a human.
Had he evolved this fast?
The lord’s body was behind him.
Burning Corruption divinity seeped across my skin.
Just once, and I only needed to dodge its attack once.
I shot forward.
Seven tentacles reached out to tear me apart.
I started the Butcher as they approached.
The metal saw blade screamed.
Grasping the handle, I raised it and cut the tendrils down.
One for now.
I reversed the Butcher’s trajectory, pushing my arm muscles to the limit.
They ruptured, but two more tentacles flew through the air.
Now there were four tentacles left.
I closed my eyes tightly.
The maximum I could cut with my abilities was three; if so, I had no choice but to endure the rest.
He shoved tentacles back into the wound in my shoulder I had barely covered up as if to sneer at me.
The other three dug into my thigh, waist, and the middle of my stomach, and none hit anything vital.
The unbearable pain leaked out as a groan.
The monster was laughing.
Yes, he was playing with me.
He didn’t kill me even though he could’ve.
It was like a child playing with bugs.
But thanks to that, I reached it.
The divinity that erupted from the rotting lord’s body permeated me.
“I will offer my divinity.
Your son longs for it, so give me a new power.”
There was no answer.
But a new power seeped into my body.
The monster smiled at me, showing its white teeth.
I grinned and stretched out my arms, grabbing the careless monster’s face.
My new power, called the Pit of Corruption, swallowed us.
And just like that, we fell.
The shock of the sudden fall shot up my spine.
I stood quickly and stepped back.
Blood was dripping from my open wounds.
I glared at the monster as I seared them with the Froststeel sword’s still red blade.
He was smiling, asking if this was the best I could do.
It really hurts.
It’s painful to endure the fire while hiding in pursuit of divinity, and it’s painful to run through the town to collect corpses.
But do you know what?”
The Butcher started with a harsh cry.
I raised it above my head.
The monster sneered at me and tilted his head.
Seeing that childlike attitude, I smiled generously.
“You’re going to hurt more than I am now.
Bear that carefully in mind, you monster son of a bitch.”
The Corruption Arts renewed, forcing my body to move.
My whole body was still creaking, and my arms and legs wouldn’t obey me.
I was slower than before, but I still ran at him.
Nine tentacles swung back.
He was still growing during all this.
I clenched my teeth and swung the Butcher, grinding through each of them.
The Incarnation’s one eye was colored with astonishment as I struck again.
A pair of his arms was sent flying.
Without stopping, I shoved the Butcher into his side.
Gore rained down.
I pushed the revving blades deeper in.
“Are you confused? You must be! Hahahaha! Are you wondering why I can cut through all of your attacks even though it’s slower than before? I’ll teach you something special!”
My smile broadened.
“How does it feel to rot alive? I’m pretty familiar with it.
You probably wouldn’t know, though!”
The Pit of Corruption.
All living things that entered this gigantic pit started decaying.
Even I was no exception to this power’s influence.
However, I was able to use the Corruption Arts to prioritize parts not needed for battle and make them rot first.
This way, I closed the gap between me and this monster.
The monster struggled, trying to push me away.
However, his power wasn’t enough to stop me.
“It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! Stop…!!!”
The monster learned a new word.
“Thanks to me, you’ve learned a couple of words today on your own! I should quit living as a priest and tutor monsters! Hahahaha!”
I pulled the Butcher back and lifted it.
The monster’s eyes widened in fear.
“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stooooop!!!”
I softly smiled.
“I don’t want to.”
Clank, clank, clank, clank!
The Butcher devoured his throat, finally silencing him.
I stretched out a rotting hand, pulled out the marble-shaped relic from the broken Incarnation’s chest, and laughed.
“Mother, I did it.”
It was a strange feeling, both happy and sad.
The divinity of dark green corruption flowed from the holy relic into my body and Mother’s hand.
Once the light died away, I took the hand out of my pocket and checked Mother’s condition.
The Mother’s hand of corruption shone a dark green color.
The weight I felt against my palm disappeared, and with it, the hand.
I glanced around, trying to calm my panicked heart, to find a young girl.
Her hair cascaded down to her waist in a beautiful mix of black and dark green.
Her deep black eyes stared back above a sculpted nose.
The girl wiggled, her green and black eyes wide open.
She moved her lips to speak, but no voice came out.
As soon as the girl, now wearing a slight frown, strode up to me and grabbed my hand, a thought appeared in my head.
I calmed my trembling heart at the familiar voice.
“As expected, you’re Mother.
But why are you so young? It’s something you should know, not me.
With her lips stuck out in a pout, Mother, who had been grumbling in my mind about her current state, tilted her head.
“You can’t go back to being a hand now?”
Yelling at me to wait, the girl returned to her familiar hand form.
I took Mother’s hand, tucked it in my pocket, and laughed.
It’s good to go around as yourself, but how about we just keep going like this?”
I was relieved that she said she couldn’t keep in that form for long anyway.
I was too anxious to take Mother out of my pocket just yet.
I still needed a lot of mental preparation.
“Okay, I understand.”
I closed my eyes and calmed myself.
So, it was already time to awaken another power.
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