“It’s my honour to be complimented by an Archdevil!” The old devil bowed humbly to Leylin, with all the formality of a noble. His eyes were filled with solemnness.
“You were already here when I took the first item. Now, tell me… Why are you here?” Leylin’s eyes squinted, and the old devil shuddered as he formed cold sweat.
“Freedom! Of course it’s for freedom! Being confined in this dark, icy place and having to guard the treasures...I’ve already done more than enough!” The old devil clenched his teeth and cursed vehemently.
“I sensed the terrifying powers of the law of gluttony on you, along with a part of Beelzebub’s powers and aura. I can pledge my allegiance to you, letting you obtain everything in here, and also inform you of all of Beelzebub’s secrets. I want a small favour in return: Annul the contract on my body. If you want, I could even serve you for a hundred years…”
“Hmm, these are great conditions!” Leylin looked in interest at the cunning demon in front of him, perhaps the strongest guardian in the City of Iron, “How are you so sure that I can annul the contract for you?”
“Beelzebub had used his identity as the lord of Dis to confine me…” The devil blinked, “As long as Dis obtains a new owner, they’ll have the authority to annul the contract…”
‘Devils really are extremely cunning…’ Beelzebub himself would never have set a rule like this. It was likely a condition that this old devil had fought for himself. Since he’d signed the contract reluctantly, this devil didn’t have much loyalty to Beelzebub. On the other hand, Beelzebub had been extremely confident of sitting on his throne forever. Before his demise, that is.
“Alright, I accept your conditions!” Leylin agreed because he wouldn’t face any losses at all. However, he did not sign any contract: once he officially became the lord of Dis the contract with this old devil would shift to him. At that time, he could do whatever he wanted with him.
Leylin had no capacity for trust in devils, especially long-lived ones like this. That was another reason why he wouldn’t sign a contract.
“My Lord!” Evidently, the old devil understood his intentions, and could only smile wryly in return.
“So then, tell me your name. Since you’re the guardian of this place, do you know of the Manderhawke Plate?” Leylin wasted no time, getting to the point directly. In front of his might, the old devil couldn’t retaliate at all.
“My name is Borke, my Lord.” A strange expression appeared on the devil’s face, “Of course I know the Manderhawke Plate, it was originally mine. But Beelzebub, that disgusting, conniving thief! He stole it away from me…”
“Yours?” Leylin was somewhat taken aback. After all, Beelzebub’s memories regarding the Manderhawke Plate had been sealed strongly. Leylin himself didn’t have much information regarding the item. Now that he had met the original owner, his interest was piqued.
“Okay, Borke, tell me. How did you get your hands on the Manderhawke Plate then?” Leylin had an extremely strong urge to research the background of that object. That clay disc could change one’s destiny.
Noticing the glint in Leylin’s eyes, Borke sounded out a feeble protest, “My Lord, that’s mine…”
“Was. Past tense. It’s currently in Beelzebub’s hands, no? Also, do you want your freedom or not?” Leylin eyes slanted. He had never held any trust for devils, so he would crush any plans they had, again and again.
Borke was most likely being dishonest with him, already engaging in wordplay. However, no matter what sort of ploy he set up he would have to give some amount of true information.
“That… It was many underworld years ago, so far into the past that I have even forgotten the history of that era. The City of Iron had not yet been built, and Dis was just a barren land…” Borke muttered, his eyes seemingly lost in some distant memory.
“As a devil my lifespan is that of Baator. I’m effectively immortal, and before we harvested souls from the prime material plane my hobby was to journey across the endless barren lands. The Manderhawke Plate was something I chanced upon in a ravine during my travels…
“I used it to travel to various planes, and I advanced into the peak of devil kind, becoming an ancient devil. It was then that I met the Lord of Gluttony, and after that…” Regret welled in Borke’s eyes.
Leylin’s eyes flashed, ‘Looks like this devil only discovered the plate’s ability to connect to other planes. He hasn’t tried breaking through the crystal sphere of the World of Gods.’
Travelling between planes was one thing, but it was completely different to break through the crystal sphere. However, regular devils would never consider such a thing. Leylin realised that Borke had a very vague understanding of the Manderhawke Plate, and likely couldn’t even use it as well as Beelzebub had. Naturally, he would not know anything about it having the ability to change destinies.
‘There’s a chance he’s trying to fool me as well, hoping to get it back another day…’ Numerous thoughts flashed past Leylin’s mind as he continued to plunder the treasure vault relentlessly. After all, this was a portion of the treasures accumulated by an Archdevil of Baator. Even demigods would be tempted.
“Ignore that for now. Do you know where he is?”
“He’s disappeared for sometime. Last time he returned, he’d come back from another plane, gravely injured…” Borke didn’t withhold any information in this regard. He needed Leylin to free him from his current position anyway.
“I searched for his soul through our contract, and I know he’s extremely weak right now. Even a mere pit fiend could defeat him!” Borke exaggerated the extent of Beelzebub’s injuries, for fear that Leylin might back down. “However, he has hidden himself well. Even I myself am unable to find any traces of his whereabouts…”
The old devil laughed malevolently, regret and greed appearing on his face. It seemed like he wouldn’t have hesitated to strike if he’d found Beelzebub himself.
“So even you don’t know where he is. Is there not even a clue?” Leylin’s brows furrowed. Things had become more troublesome now.
“Apologies, my Lord! Due to the restrictions of the contract, I can only move about within the circular corridor and its vicinity… Even if he’s hidden in a part of the Iron Tower, I wouldn’t be able to notice it. In any case, Beelzebub is the owner of this place…” Borke’s explanation was backed by logic, but somehow Leylin felt that he was holding back some information. Was it not a necessity given the crafty nature of devils?
*Rumble!* At this moment, space rippled as an explosion rocked the tower, the reverberations of the sound causing the items within to vibrate. Both Leylin and Borke turned around, looking towards the Palace of Gluttony.
‘This aura… Pit fiends! There should be at least ten of them to break Beelzebub’s seal!’ Leylin had estimated their strength immediately, ‘This degree of unity… It seems like there’s something happening that I’m not aware of…’
‘However…’ Leylin looked at Borke who resumed his calm after an initial shock, and smiled. He too adopted a calm disposition.
Borke noticed that Leylin had not taken the bait, and felt regretful. However, he still fulfilled his duty and explained the situation. “Beelzebub’s defences can’t be broken that easily by a group of pit fiends. Moreover, there isn’t any treasure there. There are certainly many guardians in the area, each no weaker than the cerberus…”
“Where are Beelzebub’s experimental lab and resting area? Mark it down for me!” Although Leylin wasn’t influenced by the plans of these hotheaded devils, he would have to take action now. He did not wish for anything to land in their hands.
‘It’s just a pity that...these remaining treasures... ‘ Leylin’s figure faded into the void, leaving behind Borke who looked deep in thought as he watched Leylin disappear.
“Baalzephon! I have never seen you in such a miserable state…” A few greater devils mocked Baalzephon. Chekov’s carcass lay at a side, and teleportations or dimensional leaps would allow one to grasp it by the claws.
“Zapan… and Lyle, you’re all here…” Baalzephon’s expression changed numerous times, finally changing into a gentle and agreeable smile, “I was about to inform you guys… that there is a great discovery here…”
“Oh really?” Zapan cared little for Baalzephon, and the other members of the Dark Eight too watched on in mockery.
“Open the Palace of Gluttony!” Zapan commanded, and many large paeliryon and various other devils ran forward in a disorderly manner. They caught the carcass of the cerberus, tossing it into the air and smearing its blood on the giant metal gates.
The huge amount of blood was quickly absorbed by the gate, and it greedily sucked Chekov dry. A crack appeared in the centre of the gate, spreading to both sides.
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