"We got out!"
"They're still following us!"
Kang Oh's party defeated countless Kalma and were able to escape the Ant Tunnel.
With Malak dead, the Kalma's command structure fell apart. Kang Oh's party took advantage of the confusion and were able to break through the blockade.
Of course, they were still being followed.
Kang Oh's party blew their whistles.
A high-pitched 'whistle' rang out, and their horses came running.
"Run as fast as you can!"
Kang Oh's party forcefully pulled on the reins.
Their horses galloped away.
"They're running away on horseback!"
"We can't let them get away!"
The Kalma quickly got on their horses or camels, and followed Kang Oh's party. They even followed them all the way to the River of Despair.
Kang Oh's party used the canoe they'd left behind to cross the river.
"They're crossing the river!"
"B-Bring over a boat!"
They didn't have a boat ready, so that's where their pursuit ended.
"Good job everyone. Since they've lost their leader, there'll be a lot of infighting. They won't be able to hunt humans for some time." Kang Oh smiled.
"Yes. I'm glad it went well. But it was kind of scary when we couldn't use our return scrolls," Sephiro said.
He'd felt light-headed when that system message popped up, indicating that he couldn't use a return scroll inside the base.
"Mm, the fact that we can't use return scrolls in the ashen wastelands is a huge problem," Kang Oh said.
They'd need to come to the ashen wastelands often in order to rescue the prisoners and kill the Mayanes. But if they were in danger, they wouldn't be able to use their return scrolls, which definitely posed a problem.
"We should be more careful when we go through the ashen wastelands," Kang Oh added.
Eder and Sephiro nodded their heads.
"Oh, and..." Kang Oh pulled out Malak's black skull necklace from his inventory. "Please grab onto this. It has Malak's memories inside."
[Malak's Black Skull Necklace]
The necklace that the Kalma Leader, Malak, also known as Ill Omen Malak, wore.
An item that represents the Kalma Leader. An unknown black dye is painted over the skulls.
[This item contains memories. Would you like to view Malak's memories?]
Eder and Sephiro stretched out their hands, and grabbed onto the skull.
Waryong popped out of Sephiro's chest. It was as though it wanted to see it too.
Kang Oh completely ignored Waryong.
"View Malak's memories!"
Kang Oh, Eder, and Sephiro were shown a recording.
Malak was the leader of a group of bandits. He and his bandits would steal from small villages in the jungle or the grasslands, or extort money/valuables from pedestrians.
They stole from another pedestrian, but they accidentally died in the process.
However, that pedestrian wasn't just anyone; they had been training to become a priest at the Church of Death. Thus, the Church of Death's paladins began to pursue Malak and his bandits.
There was only one way of escaping the Church of Death's paladins in the Goddess's Land: entering the forbidden northern and western areas.
Ultimately, Malak and his bandits crossed the River of Despair and entered the forbidden area, the ashen wasteland. The paladins could pursue them no further.
Malak's bandits began to die of starvation, one or two at a time. But all of a sudden, two entities appeared before him.
One of them was a man. He had giant white wings and two horns protruded from his head!
The other was a woman. Her hands and feet were wrapped in rose vines, and she too possessed beautiful white wings!
He would later learn that they were a part of an ancient tribe, the Mayanes; he'd also learn that they were sealed within the forbidden zone.
Anyhow, the two offered him something that neither he nor the bandits could refuse.
"We'll give you power, food, and money. In exchange, provide us with humans."
"Yes. Yes, we'll do it."
They didn't have a choice in the matter. Malak and his bandits knelt before them and bowed their heads.
That was when the Human Hunters, the Kalma, were born.
"I'll grant you a unique power," the horned man placed his hand atop Malak's head and said.
That's how Malak gained his ability to absorb strength from others. With this absorption ability, Malak was able to become much stronger than the other Kalma.
Of course, he paid a heavy cost for it; he was transformed into a hideous batman.
After that, Malak added criminals into the fold, causing their numbers to swell. At the same time, the Kalma hunted humans and gave them to the Mayanes.
Soon, all would learn of Malak and the Kalma. The word 'Kalma' became a term synonymous with fear.
That's where Malak's memories ended.
"It contained some good information," Kang Oh said.
"The horned, white-winged man is our target, Mayanes Diabol," Eder said.
Cyndia had given them some information regarding the Mayanes. The horned man in Malak's memories matched her description of Mayanes Diabol.
"The white-winged woman is..." Sephiro said.
"Her name is Mayanes Krishan," Kang Oh said.
"We'll probably have to take her out after Diabol, right?"
"Yes. Once we've killed Diabol, the goddess's quest should change. It'll probably tell us to kill Krishan next."
"Could you get me in on the quest then? Please? Pretty please?" Sephiro grabbed onto Kang Oh.
"I'll ask her."
"You promised!" Sephiro said yearningly.
'I really want the goddess's quest!'
"Understood." Kang Oh nodded his head.
"Seeing the inside of Diabol's castle and what his creations look like via Malak's memories is a huge win for us," Eder said.
While looking through Malak's memories, they were able to see what Diabol's base, as well as his creations, looked like. That was indeed a huge win.
"I'm glad we learned about the chameleons, which can completely camouflage themselves. If we hadn't known about them, then we'd have been in for a huge surprise."
"Let's return to Latnia, and use our newfound information to come up with a plan."
Kang Oh's party headed for Latnia City.
* * *
Axes, swords, shields, etc. hung on the black walls. All of the weapons seemed usable.
However, they weren't actually fit for combat. After all, the real weapons were left in the display stands!
The flame-shaped sword, Fire's Heart, was created by a Master Blacksmith that somehow managed to store the mystery of metal within the weapon.
Beside it lay the adamantium, which was considered the toughest metal in the world, Dragon Bone, which came from the most powerful creatures in the world, and finally, Violf's Platinum.
They were located in the innermost area of the Black Hammer Dwarves' Hideout: the smithy!
Flames blazed within the giant brazier, revealing the shadow of a dwarf repeatedly slamming his hammer down.
At the same time...
Clang! Clang! Clang!
His hammer hit metal, resounding with a metallic 'clang'.
The dwarf, whose mouth was set in a tight line, was called Hoffman.
His eyes suddenly became moist.
The reddened metal reflected an expression of yearning.
The name of his dead wife lingered on his tongue.
He pounded on the metal once more. Hoffman could see a smiling, laughing child reflected in the metal.
His lost treasure.
Hoffman raised his head and stared at the Dragon Bone. His face crinkled, as if his heart had stopped. He couldn't help himself from gritting his teeth.
The one who'd killed Liza and Hoff!
Hoffman could never forget the day that the black dragon snatched his everything, his family, away from him. No, he wouldn't let himself forget it. Never!
His hammer moved more fiercely than before.
'Enough power to slay a dragon...'
Hoffman stopped pounding on the metal. Then, darkness crept out of his body, flowed through his hammer and permeated the metal.
Producing weapons with the darkness element was the Black Hammer Dwarves' specialty!
Hoffman briefly stared at the dark red metal, now imbued with the darkness element, but soon used his tongs to throw it into the brazier.
'It's not enough.' He stared at the adamantium gemstone. With this level of skill, handling the adamantium gemstone was impossible.
"Hoo." Hoffman caught his breath, placed another piece of metal onto the anvil, and began pounding away.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
His hammer resounded throughout the smithy!
At the time, no one had any idea. The Fire's Heart, which contained knowledge of the mystery of metal, shook ever so slightly.
It wouldn't be long before another Master Blacksmith was born.
* * *
Diabol's domain lay west of the River of Despair.
It was an ashen wasteland, but it also contained a giant forest and an ancient golden castle too. The golden castle was Diabol's home base, and the forest surrounding it was where Diabol's various creations lived.
And right now...
Kang Oh's party secretly entered the forest.
"I sense a presence over there. It seems like one of Diabol's creations." Sephiro pointed at one side of the forest, and Kang Oh's party slowly made their way over.
Something heavy appeared.
It was a giant monster that resembled a turtle. Like a true turtle, its back was covered by a shell, but its legs were thick like an elephant's and its face resembled a lizard's.
This was one of Diabol's creations. It was called Madon.
Liquid filled spheres were embedded in its shell; these spheres actually contained huddled together humans.
The Mayanes were beings that gained power by draining humans' life force! To that end, Mayanes Diabol created these Prison Beasts, and these beasts imprisoned the very beings that gave him his strength.
Like the Madon that lay before them.
They also acted as batteries; Diabol could drain the life force of the captured humans whenever he needed.
Kang Oh's party planned on confronting the Prison Beasts and freeing as many people as they could. The more people they freed, the weaker Diabol would become!
Anyhow, Kang Oh gave Sephiro the signal. He wanted him to take the first shot.
Sephiro slightly nodded his head and notched an arrow.
The arrow flew from his fingertips!
It was time to fight.
Kang Oh rushed through the thicket, and Eder began casting a spell.
Their rescue operation had begun in earnest.Previous Chapter Next Chapter