Chapter 148 - Heaven and Hell (4)
<We are the offspring of evil. We were born from the malice of humans. We were tossed into hell. The malice within hell kept growing without bounds…. In the end, we became the existences called the Demons.>
They couldn’t sleep, and they couldn’t forget. The Demon race was in constant torment as their malice grew.
They hated humans.
Humans were members of a world where they could communicate with each other. The Demons were so jealous of them that it was unbearable.
<We were in such a state when…. A life line in the form of black magicians appeared.>
At some point in history, the black magicians discovered the existence of the Demon race.
It was truly a chance discovery. For some unknown reason, there were places where the barrier between the world and hell was blurred. The black magicians were able to perceive them at these locations, so they started finding ways to bring forth the Demons into this world.
<We were seen as an intelligence of unknown origin. We occupied a different world as theirs, so the black magicians couldn’t leave this discovery alone.>
It took a very long time before the first Demon was summoned back into the world. It couldn’t be achieved in a single lifetime. It took over 400 years worth of research and experimentation. The results of these research were passed down, and the summoning technique was perfected.
<When we were summoned through black magic…. The Demons gained something they desired the most.>
It was ‘communication’.
<Then we found out something.>
By communicating with the humans, they could gain the souls of humans by leading them to their own destruction.
When they gained the soul, it was possible for them to participate in a world that they could only observe previously.
<This was how we became the ‘evil Demons’. Do you get why the Demon race had no choice but to act malicious towards humans?>
Azell was at a loss for words.
If it was as Balserk had said….
“Something is awry.”
He couldn’t pinpoint what went wrong.
However, the existence of the Demon race itself seemed wrong.
The rules of the world had birthed the Demon race, and there was a fundamental defect in those rules!
Azell asked the question.
“Why are you telling me this? I’m not a scholar or a magician. Even if you tell me that there is a fundamental defect to the rules of this world, I don’t think I will dedicate my life to fixing it.”
Azell was sincere in asking his question.
Balserk’s story was a mythological truth. However, the story didn’t really move Azell.
In the first place, the world was full of unfairness.
Each human were born with different fate. There were those that were born strong, and there were those that were born weak. There were those that were born into wealth, and there were those that were born into poverty. There were children that had guardians from birth, and there were children that were abandoned at birth.
The truth of the Demon race was just one of the many unfairness in this world, so it didn’t really tug at his heart strings.
“The world has always been a fucked up place. That is why everyone is trying to make this place better. We are fighting ad nauseum to create a place where everyone can live alongside together.”
What was worse, the Dragon Demon war wasn’t fought with such intention in mind.
Each person’s thoughts on what was a ‘good world’ differed.
Azell fought and hated the members of the Dragon Demon king’s army, but…..
He was cognizant of the fact that they were also fight for their own version of a ‘good world’.
“Why are you telling me these truths?”
<I don’t know.>
<I was given an order to tell you this story. I was told I would be freed from this torment that was worse than hell if I followed his order. That is why I’m just doing what I am told.>
<May I tell you my last story?>
“Since I’m running out of time, you should do so.”
<I’m thankful that I was able to speak to you like this. It had been such a painful experience that I wanted everything to end, but….. My last act will be a conversation with someone. It is a really good thing, but unfortunately, we have to end it here.>
This was the moment he had been dreaming about. He dreamed about being freed from the pain worse than hell and the emptiness….. However, the simple act of conversing with someone made him have a lingering attachment.
It was as if he was mocking himself for being tormented by all of this. He threw out his last words.
<The wise Dragon will inform you of the path you will have to take.>
When his words ended, the energy maintaining Balserk’s Undead form dissipated. There was only his skeleton left. It crumpled like a poorly constructed toy.
Azell mumbled to himself as he watched the bones noisily fall to the floor.
“…who’s trying to plan out my fate?”
The party continued to head east.
Somehow, they had to make it through the Iellos kingdom to reach demonic land located in the east. They had to go to the Albatan Forest. The truth about the Demon race was revealed through Balserk, and this unknown being left a message for him. The need to follow up on the lead had grown.
However, the problem was the enemies tracking them.
It was unknown as to what method they were using, but the Dragon Demon king worshippers were able to track down the party’s location. The party had started their escape only a day ago, yet the hands of their enemies stretched out towards them.
The first to realize the ambush was Kairen.
Azell was sleeping like the dead as he received Yuren’s ministrations.
Azell was still in very bad shape, and it was impossible for them to transport him through the air for an extended amount of time. They had to stop intermittently to rest and heal Azell.
When Kairen sensed someone watching them, he spoke.
“…did they catch up to us?”
“I’m not sure.”
Leticia detected the gaze a beat late. She got into her battle stance as she turned to look at Laura.
“Is it possible for you to discern who is observing us?”
Kairen and Leticia could tell that a hostile gaze was on them. However, they had no idea from where they were being observed. They also couldn’t discern if they were being observed by magic or the naked eyes.
“I can do it.”
Laura nodded her head as she used her observation magic. She looked through her surrounding, then she spoke.
“They are coming. There are around 50 of them.”
“Is Reygus amongst them?”
“There are several who possess massive amount of magical energy, but…. Reygus is not with them.”
Reygus’ magical energy was quite distinct. Moreover, if the stories were accurate, Reygus didn’t like stealth. It would be easy to identify him.
Kairen thought for a brief moment before he spoke.
“This means they probably predicted our route, and they used the Road of Emptiness to move their troops nearby.”
“Since Reygus isn’t here, it seems they predicted multiple paths.”
The Road of Emptiness allowed one to travel a long distance in an instant. However, there was a limit on how many members could go through it. Also, one could only travel to fixed waypoints. Even if Azell was injured, the party was moving at considerable speed. It wouldn’t be easy to dispatch forces into their predicted paths.
“This reveals a truth that gives us hope.”
“What is it?”
When Leticia asked the question, he quickly answered her.
“It is true that our enemies can locate us. However, it seems the precision of the method is low.”
If they could locate them in real time with precision, Reygus would have been dispatched here. Since he wasn’t, it was evidence that their method of tracking had several restrictions.
“You are awfully optimistic.”
“The fact that they don’t precisely know what we will do is very important..”
Originally, they party planned on taking the shortest distance to the Albatan forest. If one thought about the mobility of the party, it was possible.
However, the Guardian Shadows sent a message during their travel. The Guardian Shadows wanted the party to follow them.
The exact reason was unknown, but the Guardian Shadows were guiding them in a slightly roundabout way….. It probably had to do something with throwing their enemies off their scent.
“Since Reygus isn’t here, we have no need to be afraid.”
“There is a high probability that Reygus will arrive in short order.”
“We just have to slaughter them all before we escape. In terms of firepower, we can overwhelm them.”
“I agree, but…. Our core fighting power isn’t in good shape. I would like you to take that into consideration.”
It was as Leticia had said. The party was in rough shape. They were able to recover somewhat using the black magic of Yuren and Laura. They looked fine on the outside, but the internal injuries hadn’t fully healed. Moreover, they hadn’t had proper rest, so they were exhausted.
“We have no choice.”
“It is annoying, but I agree with you.”
Kairen grumbled as he looked away from Leticia. He looked towards Laura.
“I’ll leave Azell to you.”
Laura was taken aback.
“Yuren is healthier than you. Moreover, if we are going to leave behind one person to guard Azell, I believe a magician would be better than a warrior. Please take care of support from the rear.”
Laura nodded her head.
Kairen, Leticia, Yuren and the Guardian Shadows moved to attack their enemies. They used gaze detection and observation magic to suss out the location of the enemies. It was better to hit them first rather than wait for them to attack.
The Dragon Demon king worshippers calmly greeted the party.
The Dragon majin, who looked to be the leader, spoke as he clashed his sword against Kairen.
“I guess I was being too shameless in thinking that our ambush would succeed.”
It wasn’t the case with all the their members, but at the very least, the commander of this party was an elite from the Plain of Darkness. Such a being was able to detect Laura using her observation magic on them.
The Dragon Majin let out his killing intent.
“I want you to throw away any hope of escaping this place with your lives intact.”
“I’ll return those exact words to you.”
The two exchanged fierce sword strikes. Kairen was impressed by his opponent's skill. His opponent had smoothly negated the ambush earlier, and his sword strikes were sharp enough to send chills up Kairen’s spine. His swordsmanship was excellent, and his body was clearly superior to Kairen’s injured body.
‘He’s strong. Has he gone through the Dragon Slayer’s Ritual?’
Since he was a Dragon Majin, it was hard to discern this truth. Still, the Dragon Majin was strong in his Dragon Demon Qi and Dragon Arts that it naturally made Kairen wonder about it.
Sparks flew as the two swords exchanged blows.
It was a short, but intense exchange. The fight ebbed and flowed between the two. The injured Kairen was inferior in term of strength and speed.
However, he possessed techniques he had cultivated for over a hundred years. His twin swords danced in a precise and skillful manner. Kairen stopped the Dragon Majin before he could gain any momentum.
The Dragon Majin spoke.
“As expected, the fame of the Dragon Sword Duke wasn’t unfounded! However, all five of you are wounded! Even if you have some of the Guardian Shadows by your side, this will be your grave.”
“Hmmm. Thank you for the information.”
“This confirms it. You guys don’t have accurate information regarding our situation.”
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