『――A true genius.』
Bernst muttered to himself, not paying attention to Kurats, who was sitting languidly while removing the toxins from his body.
【”Hm…? Who are you talking about…?”】
『Certainly not you.』
【”I know, you don’t have to tell me that! “】
A genuis was someone who could make something out of nothing. No matter how strong he was, Kurats was no genius. Although he certainly was a freak of nature.
While Skuld and Gunther were first-class sword-fighters, they were no geniuses either.
Being a genius was something fundamentally different from simply excelling in a discipline.
Being able to break through the horizon of what ordinary people could even imagine; that was the proof that separated geniuses from everyone else.
That technique Gunther’s machine had displayed; Bernst knew it was a miracle that could only be invented by such people, by those who could look beyond the horizon.
『To think someone would manifest a higher echelon’s power with this world’s limited magic… Even I could not have imagined this.』
【”What’s an echelon?”】
『In a word, it is something like a soul’s status. Manifesting a higher soul echelon is also referred to as crossing a dimensionial barrier. In the terms of my world, you would belong to the first echelon.』
『Think of it this way, lower echelons cannot interfere with higher echelons. They can’t see or touch anything partaining to the dimensions beyond that. But the upper echelons are able to interfere with the lower ones.』
【”――What the hell is up with that!”】
It was understandable for Kurats to wonder how something so unreasonable could be.
If he was to believe Bernst’s words, then no matter how strong he was or how powerful his spells were, no amount of mere efforts could get through to those in higher ranks.
(That would basically make the person in the higher echelon a god to the ones below, right?)
『Indeed, the echelons are a path to godhood. I myself am one echelon away from the fourth echelon, that is, becoming a god.』
To be more accurate, Bernst was speaking of the incarnation of his conciousness.
With the rise of his soul’s echelon, he had had reached a different dimension.
At the same time, he had lost his bond to the regular world. And as he cumulated more and more power, he kept progressively losing interest.
He had the ability to know everything without moving from his spot at all. This had killed the need for him to put in any effort or go on any quests for knowledge. And as he had moved to a higher dimension, he had even lost the desire to procreate.
In the end, he was to unite with the will of the great universe itself, and the individual called Bernst would disappear.
In the meantime, Bernst had been experiencing boring days with no worries, like a great tree; unshakable, feeling no joy, no fun, no anger and no sorrow.
『Well, this manifestation of a higher echelon was the most incomplete type. As it is likely a pseudo-echelon, that technique can probably only block either magic attacks or physical attacks.』
Even so, someone had perceived the functioning of the echelons and succesfully reproduced their effect, though not completely. This was worth a glimpse from Bernst.
Bernst had reached the higher echelons at the culmination of his quest for knowledge, therefore becoming a being of a higher dimension. He had never thought of reproducing the effect of higher echelons without reaching them.
Bringing one’s soul to higher echelons also meant being released from death. He never had the idea of using a magic device to only limitedly reproduce the effects of the higher echelons.
『… I want to meet him. The magic engineer who designed this.』
Without making any effort to hide his bad mood, Kurats grandly stretched himself out as he finally felt the toxins leaving his body.
【”… So what? What’s the big deal about being at a higher echelon?”】
Vexed, Kurats grabbed a stone the size of his hand and crushed it to sand with his grip strength.
『Oh? Feeling frustrated, are you?』
It was unusual for Kurats to expose his frustration to this extent.
In the end, Gunther had succesfully escaped. Kurats could not stomach the fact that, apparently, he had been dancing in the palm of Gunther’s hand from the start.
The truth was that this was the first time Kurats had fought seriously without any results to show for it.
The timing of his last attack had been immpecably suitable for a deadly blow.
Farenheit had had no room to dodge, and Warycry, with its weight and the immeasurably powerful kinetic energy it carried, should have destroyed the machine for good.
――But that conviction Kurats once had had been shattered.
【”I won’t let him get away next time. I’ll batter him down until he’s begging and crying! “】
『If you’re dealing with someone who’s genuinely at a higher echelon, that will never happen.』
That was an implication behind Bernst’s words.
【”So you’re saying if it’s a pseudo-echelon like you said, I can still do something about it?”】
『Indeed, you can. But keep in mind that if you had been devoting yourself more to your magic, you could have realistically been at the second echelon by this point.』
Up to the second echelon, it was possible to stay attached to one’s coroporeal body. Such individuals include soul kings and heroes whose souls attained a heroic realm while they were still alive.
By the third echelon, one’s existence could be maintained through the power of the soul alone. Like in Bernst’s case.
By the fourth echelon, Bernst’s individual consciousness would diseappear and unite with the universe, making him an eternal being. However, instead of thinking of that echelon, Bernst was beginning to feel envious of the beings who still had all their desires instead.
Maybe this was proof of how he was being poisoned by Kurats’ emotions.
『Being able to emulate higher echelons is a splendid feat indeed. However, there is no such thing as an approximate ascension of echelons, temporary as that technique may be. This pseudo-acsension is pushing things too far, which implies some sort of strain.』
This fact would offer an opportunity to freely exploit.
For Bernst, the magic king at the third echelon, this fake second echelon was something to be ridiculed.
【”Well, whether that works or not, I’ll make him pay back.”】
Kurats bumped his fists against each otehr in front of his chest as if to get over what had previously transpired.
It seemed that, even now, he had still not given up on smashing Farenheit using pure strenght.
But that was just how Kurats was, and that was precisely why Bernst found his fights to be interesting.
『Good grief, why do I have to deal with this――』
Rosberg had been struggling on his own against a whole group of Chaos riders, but he had not overlooked the massive Farenheit’s escape attempt.
【”That coward of a general…! He is trying to run away!”】
A commander who would escape first while using his soldiers as his shield was a disgrace to all men.
For Rosberg, who had chosen to be knight before enve being the kingdom’s sword, Gunther’s actions seemed despicable.
However, he immediately realized that that was a misunderstanding.
That was because, thanks to their excellent cooperation, all the Chaos riders instantly retreated after Gunther did.
It was a splendid manoeuver that could never be achieved by soldiers who had lost their morale after being abandoned by their commander.
Rosberg could tell that this had all been planned from the start.
【”――Once more, the sword of the kingdom has been… Unsightly.”】
Much like Kurats, Rosberg was feeling his entrailed burning with humiliation.
The previous time, Gunther had seriously injured him, and this time around, the damage to the enemy had been kept to a minimum.
However, Rosberg was not so kind as to turn a blind eye to the enemies running away.
Freed from the shackles of having to protect his men, Rosberg pursued and defeated half of the enemy’s Chaos riders.
Translator’s note: This one was pretty hard to translate with the whole echelon stuff. I tried to make it as clear as possible, but please do tell me if you don’t understand some part.