As Zich had ordered them to, Hans and Snoc waited for him inside their lodging. But even after the next day arrived, Zich still didn’t return.
“Sir Zich will probably be fine, right?”
It was the first time Zich hadn’t contacted them for so long that Snoc grew worried.
So, Hans suggested, “Try to imagine Sir Zich getting defeated.”
“…I can’t imagine it.”
It was like he had no imagination—Snoc couldn’t imagine the sight of Zich’s defeat no matter what.
“Nothing will change even if we worry about it. Let’s just prepare for possible scenarios.” Hans was also worried about Zich, but he couldn’t tell Snoc that. This was because Hans thought that once he expressed an emotion like worry, it would only increase by several folds. Furthermore, like Snoc, Hans also couldn’t imagine Zich getting beaten up.
“Sir Zich can handle his own problems better than us.”
“That’s for sure…”
In the end, they—including Nowem—reached the conclusion that it was pointless to worry about Zich.
“Actually, rather than Sir Zich—I am more concerned about what our enemy told us as he died at the ruins.”
“Ah, you mean how he said that a terrifying nightmare would soon come down upon this city and perish with us.”
Snoc tried to remember. “Didn’t he just say that to scare us?”
“I wish that was the case.”
But Hans couldn’t shake off this uneasy feeling. As the man said, Hans felt that something bad might happen to this city.
“What if, maybe...” Hans carefully said, “…An uncontrollable nightmare really arrives in this city? …To the point that it might even threaten our lives? Then, what are you going to do? Sir Zich isn’t even here right now.”
Snoc fell into deep contemplation. He tried lifting Nowem up and meeting his eyes or tried looking up at the sky. “Well, I’m scared of doing something that may cost me my life. I mean, I don’t want to die.”
“But I have to help people. That’s the reason why I left Suol in the first place. I have already decided to share the burden of Nowem’s sins, so I can’t escape just because a situation became more dangerous.”
Nowem rubbed his face on Snoc’s arms.
“Since I have Nowem and learned many things from Sir Zich, I will try my best to save even one more person.”
“…Yes, definitely.” Hans stared at a corner of the room where Estellade sat modestly while wrapped in layers of fabric. It was the holy sword, Estellade, which was said to choose its own master.
‘As someone chosen by that sword, I can’t run away.’
Hans steeled his resolve.
* * *
It was late at night. The vibrant, round moon tried to bless its viewers with a silverish light, but mischievous clouds blanketed the sky. The city fell into darkness, and both Hans and Snoc were asleep. They were getting their money’s worth on their pricey beddings and blankets, and after eating a good meal and resting, both of their conditions were splendid. They were consciously keeping their bodies in the best condition for the worst-case scenario. Soon, their uneasy feeling proved to be correct.
Hans, who had been snoring with his face on the blanket, opened his eyes. He threw off the blanket he was using and raised his body.
It was very faint, but he could hear something. It was a human’s scream. Hans quickly grabbed Estellade and opened the window. The faint scream grew a bit louder. What was it? Hans turned around to get out of the room when—
From a distance, a building lit up instantly. It wasn’t yet time for the sun to rise, and the light came from a fire that had erupted near the castle walls.
‘Is there a fire?’
Did people scream because of the fire? But the incident didn’t end with a single building erupting into flames. The sparks in the sky were just the beginning. A burst of flames shot up from many places, proving that this wasn’t simply an accident; and Hans was reminded of his enemy’s last words again.
He kicked the door open and went outside. It seemed that no one else had noticed the disturbance yet, and the hallway was empty. Hans went to the room next door.
Before Hans could place his hands on the doorknob, the door opened and revealed Snoc. He had also noticed the abnormal happenings.
“Is this perhaps…!”
“I don’t know yet.” Hans pushed off making any judgments for now since he had no information. “But it’s possible.”
Snoc’s face stiffened for a moment, but his face soon regained color and he stepped out of the room. “Let’s go, senior.”
“Are you sure? We don’t even know what is happening outside.”
“We know for sure that it can’t be anything good. So, we have to go. If we back off in a situation like this because we are scared, Sir Zich will laugh at us. No, we should be grateful if it ends with just that.” Snoc waved his hands like he didn’t even want to think about that.
“Fine. Let’s hurry up then. People might be suffering even right now.”
Hans and Snoc jumped out of their lodging and ran to where the fires were. On the streets, people were outside, watching the flames from a distance. Some faces were filled with worry or curiosity. Hans and Snoc avoided them and continued to run. As more time passed, there were screams, and the power of the flames grew bigger. And mixed in with the screams, they heard more ominous noises. It was the sound of people shouting, weapons colliding, and shrieks that didn’t seem to belong to a human.
“This is…” Hans was unable to continue his words.
Snoc had his mouth wide open. The place they reached was a literal battlefield. A hoard of monsters was storming in through the completely open gates, and the Violuwin soldiers were desperately trying to fight them off. However, the soldier’s efforts were in vain; there were just too many monsters. Just by using his senses, Hans could sense that monsters completely surrounded the city’s walls.
“Can you sense how many monsters are outside the city’s walls?”
Snoc put his hands together and felt the vibration from the earth. “Senior, I think there are more than hundreds of monsters!”
“Damn it!” Hans removed the cloth that was covering Estellade. A white holy sword came into view.
“Let’s first try to block the monsters in front of us! Are you ready?”
Hans held up Estellade, and Snoc put Nowem on his shoulders. They headed straight towards the monsters.
* * *
With the Key That Distorts Destiny leading them deeper into the natural cave, Zich and Lyla continued to walk forward. Before they went inside the cave, their only concern was that the paths were like a maze. But as soon as they entered the cave, there were more things to be concerned about.
Zich swung his sword. His mana-infused sword sliced the target flying towards him.
But Zich sensed nothing when he hit the target. Did he miss? No, he did hit it.
The target was cut into two, and it exploded in front of him. Dark energy floated in the air and disappeared as if it was absorbed into the air.
“What the hell was that?”
More of the dark beings that Zich just exterminated began squirming towards him. They looked gross and bizarre. It was as if shadows rose from the ground and were moving around. The shadow-like beings had no clear shape, and they looked like moving clumps of darkness. However, they all roughly had an outline. There were some beings that had four prominent parts sticking out so they looked human, and there were some that were lumpy and small like animals scurrying around. Some of the beings that were shaped like humans had a long extension like an arm holding a weapon.
Even though most of the shadow beings were just squirming around the cave, a couple of them came towards Zich and Lyla and tried to attack them. However, these beings barely possessed any strength.
Zich burst another shadow being. From across the cave, a couple more shadow beings moved closer to them.
A fireball flew past Zich and burst all the shadow beings that were coming towards Zich.
“They are really endless.” Zich began complaining as weak shadows continuously attacked them without stopping. “Do you know anything about these creatures?”
“No. Nothing comes to my mind at all, so it seems like I really don’t know anything about them.”
“Wow, even you, who has seen so many different kinds of futures, don’t know about them? Are they actually a big discovery?” Zich used Piercing Space to cut one shadow being. “I would have been fine with never discovering them though.”
The Key That Distorts Destiny spun again, and they turned towards a different path.
“Man, when will this thing stop?”
“Are you worried about your people?”
“Who? My servants?” Zich thought of Hans and Snoc. “They might not look like much, but I trained those guys. They also have talent and passion, and they are keeping up with my training. So I’m not very worried about them.”
No matter what happened, Zich thought that they would be able to adequately deal with any situation.
“Of course, both of them have a ridiculous dream, so they might willingly put themselves into dangerous situations.”
“They want to be heroes.”
“…They are working under you with that kind of dream?” Lyla thought it was a very strange combination.
On the other hand, Zich puffed his chest. “Just so you know, I’m very knowledgeable about heroes. I’m also extremely skilled. Even if you search the whole world, no one is as lucky as those two.”
“…I’m a bit jealous of your optimism that has no limits.” Lyla thought that at least, Zich wouldn’t suffer from stress. She was genuinely a bit jealous of Zich’s way of thinking. “But I guess if those two really have that kind of dream, they would really get stronger. There’s nothing more dangerous to a person than a sense of righteousness without any abilities.”
“Even though I agree with your point, don’t worry about those two.”
“…But didn’t you just say that they could be in danger?”
“It’s not like I’m their parents. I can’t be with them whenever they are in danger. If they do die while trying to achieve their dreams, it’s what they chose. There’s no need to worry or sympathize with them.”
“But still, I will make sure to avenge them.”
“That’s not reassuring at all.”
Even though Zich said he wouldn’t become a Demon Lord anymore, his personality was still awful. Lyla shook her head.
As they went deeper and deeper into where the key pointed them towards, more shadow beings appeared. The source of the shadow beings was definitely in the direction where the key was pointing.
After bursting another shadow in front of them, they walked further and reached the end of the cave. An enormous space appeared in front of them.Previous Chapter Next Chapter