Chapter 11: Let’s Crush the Foolish Emperor, Part 3
「Uwaah, you were right, he’s really here.」
They were at the foot of the Yaegaki mountain range, at the side that was facing the desert.
Mari reacted strongly when she saw the figure that was standing there.
It was Uzermart, The Emperor of the Sands.
「You wanted to have an audience with me, so here I am.」
「Indeed I wanted to, but I didn’t expect you’d come in person. I’ve expected you to hole up in your Dungeon and spend the rest of your days playing around with your slaves in bed.」
「Just what kind of deviant are you taking me for?」
He was somewhat frustrated at Mari’s harsh words.
「Lord Aur will never make any deals with you.」
「I figured as much.」
「So strike a deal with me instead. Your demands might be unreasonable, but I don’t want anything to happen to Sofia and my loved ones who live in the Dungeon.」
“Uzermart will surely respond if you offer to strike a deal with him. But you mustn’t let Aur know about this”. That was the advice that Zana gave her.
She knew that what she was about to do was an utterly stupid thing. But she just couldn’t stand idly by and watch Sofia get hurt.
「A smart choice. Now, I’d like you to put this on.」
「I will become your puppet if I wear this, right?」
Mari gave a dissatisfied voice when she saw Uzermart presenting a Collar of Obedience to her.
「Then I have no guarantee that you’ll actually hold to your end of the bargain. Are you planning to bring me under your control and then claim that there was no agreement between us at all, taking advantage of the fact that I won’t be able to retaliate at all?」
「In other words, you thing that I’m going to break my promise to you?」
She asked him without hesitation. If there was one thing she learned from Aur, it was to doubt people’s intentions to the very end. There was no way she was going to put that collar on just like that.
「You can rest easy, girl. I am the ruler above all rulers. Deceiving the common folk is below me.」
「You say that, but I do not know you. For all I care, you are just feeding me with honeyed words to win me over.」
「Watch your tongue there, girl! There are things that even I will not tolerate!」
Oh-ho, someone’s got pissed, Mari thought.
He looked like he was in his mid-twenties at best. Judging by this reaction of his, he was the opposite of Aur, where his looks didn’t match his actual age.
「If you can’t guarantee to me that you will uphold our deal, then I suppose we have nothing to talk about.」
「So how can I convince you?」
「You tell me that. You’re supposed to omniscient, after all.」
He seemed to be preparing a response to her cheeky attitude, but bit his tongue at the last second.
「Come with me, girl with sharp tongue.」
He turned around and raised his hand, and the Stone Dungeon emerged from below the sands.
Looking at it, Mari breathed quietly.
For now, everything was going exactly as planned.
「Quite strange, this Dungeon of yours.」
Contrary to Aur’s Dungeon that was used by altering the environment, Uzermart’s Dungeon seemed to be one hundred percent artificially created. There was no doubt that great effort was put into making it, but the entrance was only wide enough for one person to pass through.
「This is not a Dungeon. It’s a pyramid.」
The emperor answered.
「Make sure to stay close to me, or else you will end up getting lost.」
The Undead soldiers were stationed at both sides of the passage. This must’ve been a mechanism against potential invaders. Having to fight them in such a narrow space is going to be really annoying.
They were walking for quite some time, and Mari noticed that as they progressed, the road gradually became wider and pointed them upwards. It was very subtle and hard to notice, but for her, who grew up in a Dungeon, it was something that could be easily spotted. And Aur had something similar in his Dungeon, a path that one was sure to get lost on without a proper map.
「Welcome back, Your Majesty the Emperor.」
When they finally entered the large room, they were greeted by human soldiers armed with swords and spears. The brown-skinned beauty, Eldav, Zana’s sister, was also present there.
「These people are not Undead.」
These were probably ordinary soldiers. Unlike Eldav, they didn’t have collars around their necks and the light of will still shone in their eyes.
Uzermart pointed towards the ceiling, which bean to open up with a roaring sound, revealing the blue sky above. Mari realized that this was how he managed to escape during the previous battle.
「The sun….. there are two?」
And in the sky, two suns were shining brightly.
「One of them is the Heat Core created by the blessing of our god, Atom.」
Mari repeated the unfamiliar word like a parrot.
「The Primeval Fire that continues to burn stronger than anything in this world, a true sacred flame that destroys everything that opposes it.」
Saying that, Uzermart put his hand on the desk in the middle of the room. Once he did that, the sand began to move on its own, creating a painting on the desk’s surface.
It was the image of two mountains and a dividing line between them. And above them was a circular shape surrounded by radial patterns. It was a simple picture, but Mari realized that it was like a map of sorts. The mountains probably represented the Mountain of Trials, now a part of Aur’s dungeon, and this pyramid thing. Then the dividing line would be the Yaegaki mountain range, and the shape in the sky would represent Uzermart’s Heat Core.
「It will still take a few more days until the sufficient amount of power is gathered.」
When Uzermart waved his hand over the picture, the flames in the sky began to scatter.
「Is this enough of you to believe me?」
She was still unsure of whether or not he was telling her the truth, or was he just trying to trick her into believing him. But she was not in the position to make any rush movements now. If she plays her hand right, then maybe Uzermart will show her more of his secrets. Her mouthing off to him right now would not only void that chance, but it would probably also get her killed.
「All right. I believe you.」
「Splendid. Now, before we go any further….」
He grabbed her neck and raised her chin.
「I will get rid of the useless things.」
Flames leaked out of his palm, burning Mari’s throat.
It was momentarily burned out, and her head fell to the ground along with a cascade of golden hair.
But in spite of that, the head and the body continued to function even when they were separated.
「I was right after all!」
Mari’s head bulges and swells, until it finally erupts into a storm of leafs. Making use of the commotion, the body, again with its whole head, jumps to its feet and makes its escape together with the small girl that appeared out of thin air.
Zana forbade her to tell Aur about this, but she didn’t mention anyone else. If she asked Lilu or Spina, she had a feeling that they would have informed Aur about this immediately, therefore Yutsu was her only remaining option. And, as it turned out, she hit a bullseye.
「After her! Do not let her escape!」
The soldiers chased after her according to Uzermart’s order.
Yutsu took out more leafs from her pocket and scattered them around, creating countless copies of Mari and herself.
「 『Mimicry Imitation!』 」
Using the resulting confusion, Mari and Yutsu escape through the pyramid hand in hand as to not get separated.
「Mari, where now?!」
Mari memorized the entire way from the entrance. The inside of the pyramid was extremely complex and everywhere she looked, the scenery remained pretty much the same. Yutsu also tried to do the same, but she gave up after the first one hundred steps.
But Mari managed to create an accurate map of the road in her head. She remembered each and every scratch of dirt and made them her landmarks. Since she was living in the Dungeon most of her life, something like that was as natural as breathing for her.
「Next we should be turning right here… eh?!」
But instead of the further road they stumbled into a stone wall.
「Why? I could’ve sworn that this was the right way!」
She was sure of that. There was no walls here earlier.
「Mari, look at that!」
Following Yutsu’s gaze, she saw that the road they came form was being filled with stone walls rising from the ground.
「The road is changing!」
Mari totally forgot that it was a possibility since the pyramid itself was buried under the sands of the desert. She should’ve expected something like that from a building that could move freely between the sands and the earth.
If that was the case, then the escape via teleportation magic was probably a no-go too. Surely Uzermart took countermeasures against something so obvious.
「This wall wasn’t really here?」
Yutsu asked as she touched the stony surface with her hand.
「At least not when I came here.」
「Leave it to me then!」
Yutsu then transformed her tail into a hammer, and rammed it against the wall. First strike made a dent in the wall, second one resulted in a small hole, and the third one brought it down completely.
「That’s my Yutsu for you!」
Mari shouted happily….
Until she saw Uzermart’s ugly mug at the other side of the collapsed wall.
「I’m afraid that playtime ends here, ladies.」
Mari tried to grab her sword from her waist, but before she could do that, a thick fist was driven into her stomach.
A huge Immortal Sand Soldier they met during the battle appeared before them. Mari thought that he was washed away together with the rest of them. Apparently she was mistaken.
While he held her down, Uzermart put the Collar of Obedience around her neck. The moment he did that, all light was gone from Mari’s eyes and her limbs were robbed from the will to move.
「How dare you!」
Yutsu tried to bring the hammer down on the Undead soldier, but he caught it as if it weighted nothing, and lifted Yutsu in the air as if she was a kitten.
「Well well well, you weren’t a part of our deal, and you certainly weren’t by the girl’s side when we entered here. Are you perhaps her friend? If that is so, then how are you going to compensate me for intruding into my fortress without permission?」
Yutsu’s body trembled with an incredibly bad feeling when she saw Uzermart’s amorous gaze crawling all over her.
「Your majesty, what would you like to do with her?」
One of the soldier’s asks while taking Mari into custody.
「Hmm, do whatever you want with her, just be careful not to kill her.」
He declared while glancing at Mari from the side.
「Release Mari. AT ONCE!」
Mari grabbed the undead soldier by the arm and transformed her tail into a huge snake that dashes for Uzermart’s throat with its fangs bared.
「Be silent. Who was it that allowed you to speak?」
But before it could reach his neck, an intense light shone, and when it was gone, the snake disappeared.
「You and your cheap tricks are nothing against the light of Atom.」
Uzermart orders the soldier to take Yutsu to his bedroom.
「But do not worry, I will show you all of his glory once I f*ck you senseless.」
Tossing his kingly demeanor aside, Uzermart showed his true, animalistic side.
「Well, it looks like we’ve got ourselves quite a catch this time!」
The soldiers were surrounding the expressionless Mari from all sides, smiling unpleasantly.
The deep blue eyes like the waters of the ocean. Hair as golden as the rays of the sun. And the skin as white as snow from the lands outside the desert. It was quite a fresh sight for them.
「What was His Majesty thinking, handing such a cutie over?」
「I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t care. Let’s just be thankful that we can have her all to ourselves.」
It was virtually impossible to run a country only on brutality and Collars of Obedience alone. But Uzermart was a man who proudly believed in his divine right to rule. If he smelled even a whiff of rebellion, he changed into a crusader and crushed his opposition with utmost vehemence and cruelty.
Still, fear alone was not enough to grant him control of peoples hearts. They might obey him on the surface, but inside they would resent him and plotted against him.
So from time to time, he granted to his man a women that he was no longer interested in or got tired off. They were used by the soldiers as cum-dumpsters to release their pent up libido until they broke.
「We have to be careful not to kill her, orders and all.」
「Why does it matter anyway?」
The oldest of the men stands before Mari and pulls out his thing out of his pants.
He threw Mari on the bed, but one of the swords at her waist cut the skin near his member, resulting in slight bleeding.
「Ooops, those things are dangerous, better remove them first.」
The man tried to touch her swords, but his hand stopped midway.
A little above the elbow, his hand had been cut off and rolled on the floor, and the man looked at it with a dumb expression. Everyone, including him, did not understand what exactly happened here.
「Don’t you dare touch my Mari with your filthy hands, you bitches.」
Vulgar words were said by a lovely voice.
Before he could finish his next words, the man’s head was cut off by one of Mari’s swords.
「H-How can you move?!」
「I’m sorry for being late!」
One by one, the man were being cut down by Mari. Or to be precise, by Logan who was manipulating Mari’s body.
「This collar thing… I guess it’s purpose it to eliminate the will of anyone who wears it by containing their souls in it.」
When he touched the collar with his hand, he could hear Mari’s voice clearly.
「Logan! You’re alive!」
「Well, somehow. Even I don’t know what exactly is going on.」
Logan thrusted Mari’s hand into the chest of one of the men, pulling a glowing ball out of it and eating it. It was the human soul.
「Not tasty at all, but beggars can’t be choosers.」
The soul is basically a concentration of high magical power. Therefore magical creatures such as demons could consume them and thus regain their own magical power.
「My arm was cut off by one of the undead ones, remember?」
He was talking about the time when they fought that undead horseman with a spear. Mari was convinced that his missing arm disappeared along with the rest of his body when he was killed.
「It is half-correct and half-wrong. My whole body did disappear, but some of my essence managed to survive thanks to this little thing here.」
Logan picked up one of Mari’s four swords, the one responsible for controlling heat. It must’ve been possible because their natures were quite similar.
「The thing is, my essence cannot do much on its own, not even swing a sword. But it can, however, possess a body and use it as my own.」
「Talk about the stroke of luck!」
Logan sighted deeply while Mari was overjoyed.
「You know that Master is going to be so pissed at you when he finds out about this?」
「Y-yeah, but, how should I say this…? I‘ve felt that you are somewhere nearby and I knew that you would come to my rescue should anything happen.」
Mari could not believe that Logan was really dead.
At first she was just refusing to accept reality, but she understood it when she looked at Uzermart. That Logan was somewhere nearby.
「Is that so?」
Logan does not answer anything to that.
It was like that since long ago. No matter where he went, where he hid, Mari was always able to find him and always believed in him.
「Eh, now is not the time to get all sentimental.」
「That’s right, Yutsu!」
Remembering about Yutsu, Mari’s mood worsened considerably. This time Logan was here to help her, but Yutsu was taken away by Uzermart.
「Don’t worry, she’s probably okay.」
Logan says with a light tone.
「How can you be so sure of that?」
「Because I can hear her all the way here.」
「Huh? Don’t be silly.」
But right as she was saying that, a commotion and an angry voice could be heard outside. It was Uzermart’s voice.
Logan rushed after the voice without hesitation.
「How did you know?」
「Just a hunch, really.」
Logan explained as he broke through a brick wall. And before his eyes was Yutsu, who desperately tried to escape.
Her clothes were a mess, and she had some burn marks on her.
「I’m sorry! I’m so so sorry! Because of me, you…!」
「Did he tried to hurt you?」
Logan asked through Mari’s mouth.
But she just shook her head. That was such a relief to them. She was hurt here and there, but he didn’t manage to hurt her in any other way.
But the fact remained that he wanted to corrupt her in the worst way possible.
For such a transgression, a judgement needed to be passed upon him.
「YOU FILTHY LITTLE BITCH! HOW DARE YOU DEFY ME…..」
「Well buddy, you made a big mistake.」
「You crossed the paths with the wrong lolicon!!!!!」
Logan shouted so and rushed straight at him.