“You better do. Now then, let’s go and find out why Balgaar is still alive, and then beat the shit out of him.”
She declared haughtily and started walking in front of me, towards the place Blagaar was.
As one might expect, we didn’t really talk with each other while going there. I am the Hero (apparently) and she is the Demon King: two people who are supposed to be in an antagonistic relationship. The very event of us walking side by side and preparing for a life and death battle together is bizarre.
After walking for what seemed like an hour, the end of the hallway came in sight. Light was coming in from there. Looks like it’s time to finally meet Balgaar.
I wonder how things will proceed. Taking into account his personality and what happened between us in the past, I guess his response won’t be favourable.
I looked at Regina and she nodded to me. Well, let’s go and see what happens.
We approached that place and exited through it. After my eyes adjusted to the blinding light, what I saw was……. a coliseum. An open coliseum, to be more precise.
In fact, it seemed that we had exited from one of the entry gates of the Coliseum. The Coliseum was colossal, and the spectator’s seats were filled completely. The spectators: Wraiths with their eyes filled with bloodlust fixed on us. Above me was the clear blue sky, with the sun shining upon us.
Given our current situation, it seems we are being treated like challengers. Who is our opponent then? Balgaar himself? Or is it going to be the cliché commonly seen in Shounen pieces of literature where we’ll first have to fight and defeat his subordinates before we get to fight him?
Does he even have any subordinates except these wraths?
No, before that, just how am I seeing the sky in an underground dungeon? What the fuck?
“Hmmm……. it seems you’re not that used to illusions.”
Regina said to me after looking at my stupefied eyes.
“Illusion? Of this scale? They are supposed to just confuse us, no?”
“Well, it is possible if the illusion is casted by a Wraith Lord.”
That’s a term I’m hearing for the first time. We didn’t have any wraith lords.
Regina started explaining when she understood that I had no idea about wraith lords. It seems we have become closer to each other.
“It’s a forbidden technique among the wraiths. When more than a hundred wraiths combine, and all but one of them gives up their life, the remaining one turns into a wraith lord. The lord’s physical prowess is at least equal to that of a dragon, while his magic skills are greatly enhanced that can produce illusions like these.”
Isn’t that a clearly illegal move? If this was a game then I would have been yelling ‘Shitty Devs!’ by now.
“On a completely unrelated note, it is said that if all the wraiths of this world combine, then can form a Wraith God. The god can cast illusion spells that can deceive the world itself.”
“Oi don’t raise flags like these!”
Deceive the world itself what the fuck? If someone could deceive the world, then he can actually do something like bringing someone back to life. Resurrection by an illusion spell. Now this is what we call a cheat ability.
“And as we are talking here, the lord is about to attack us.”
She casually informed me about something serious.
“What?! From where?!”
Because the only wraiths here are the ones sitting in the stands. The arena is completely empty.
“He is attacking from the front. Duck at the count of two if you want to live. 1-2.”
The moment she said that, I ducked. A short moment later, I felt something go past above my head, evident by the breeze that rustled my hair. Shit.
Well, at least the illusion is only fucking with my ability to see. Then I would use the classic method to handle it: closing my eyes and sensing him by my ears, the movement of air etcetera.
At that moment, I felt something closing in on me diagonally while cutting the air on my left. Its speed was fast, and it was something huge. I jumped to avoid, but the moment I did, the things from earlier vanished and another of that same thing was coming at me from above. I hurriedly used flying magic to get out of the way.
I opened my eyes and landed beside what seemed to be the Demon King.
“Your method might have worked if this was an ordinary illusion, but a lord’s illusion actually messes up with your perception. So even if you perceive him to be coming from the front, it’s possible that he is attacking you from behind.”
“Well thank you for your kind information! How about you also help me?!”
I retorted and racked my brains on what to do. The only possible option is mana sensing and presence perception. The latter is not working right now, so I’ll have to resort to the first.
As the name suggests, through mana sensing you can sense all the mana in a set area surrounding you. What’s more, you can even distinguish the mana of a non-living object and the mana of a living-being. I can use it up to 500 metres for now.
I closed my eyes, purely because it’s easier to concentrate that way, and started using mana sensing. I could feel the mana of the ground, air, rocks. And I could also perceive two large mana pools. One of them was significantly large, way larger than a human’s, in fact. The other was so large that I got dizzy for a moment.
It was as if I was looking at an ocean of mana, one that stretched into unfathomable depths. Compared to it, the former was only the size of a small lake. Now I understand why Regina was able to survive after fighting Balgaar.
I took out my guns and unloaded them on the mana of the lord, but it didn’t go as I expected. It was disturbed only for a moment, and went back to the same way it was before. Don’t tell me that I have to shoot the lord in the middle of his eyes to kill him.
“Haaah…… you are useless. Fine, I’ll do it myself.”
She sighed sounding exasperated. Well excuse me, you are the one who is the stronger one here, so you should be doing the fighting!
I dunno why people arbitrarily expect things from others and then complain when the targeted party doesn’t fulfil them. Like, I didn’t ask you to expect things from me, so who are you to be disappointed when I don’t fulfil them.
While I was thinking such useless things, Regina muttered under her breath.
At the same moment, the illusion surrounding us turned into dust, literally. It was as if a strong gust of wind had blown and blown away the illusion like it blows away sand. Except that there wasn’t really any sand: it was also the part of the illusion.
After that phenomena ended, I found myself in a large hall. The hallway we were in before was behind me, while the lord was in front of us. Its movement had stopped, as if it was confused over the disappearance of the illusion.
The Wraith Lord was like a giant wraith towering over about 10 metres. He was also robed in a tattered ashen coloured cloth, but the cloth formed a sort of head protector on his head. And he held 2-3 metre broadsword in his hands.
“This, is how you kill a wraith lord.”
Her eyes filled with confidence compelled me to not miss anything that was about to happen and learn from it.
She prepared a large spear made of lightning, gripped it in her right hand, and threw it with all of her might at the wraith’s head. The spear travelled the distance between them in the blink of an eyes and appeared before the lord.
But the lord was a fearsome opponent as well. He swiftly moved his swords to protect his head, but the spear pierced them like a bullet passing through a sheet of paper, and hit him right in the middle of his eyes. He fell on his back, turned to black smoke and vanished.
“See? So easy.”
She nonchalantly said that and started moving towards the exit of this hall which was hidden behind the lord from before.
“So easy my ass. I’m just a human from earth, you cannot expect me to pull of stunts like these.”
“Ara. You still have so much to learn, then. Why don’t you join me and let me teach you?”
She smiled coyly and asked with her sweet alluring voice.
“I’ll take you up on that offer then.”
Her expression froze and she stopped walking.
“Needless to say, I was just joking.”
She frowned and turned back towards the exit. Looks like she got too hopeful from my little joke. I have no intention of joining the Demon King after all. This situation is only brought on due to necessity, nothing more.
And we exited the room, only to end up in a hallway similar to before. We continued walking, ready to meet the Lord of Fire Balgaar.
【3rd person’s POV】
The fire crackled and lit up the faces of the figures surrounding it. The first of them, unable to swallow what had been told, spoke up.
“And why are you doing all of this? What do you hope to achieve by this?”
The one who had been spoken to sneered.
“Probably because it would be fun? I’m bored here after all.”
The first one was shocked.
“Is that all? You want to go this far just for fun?”
“Well…… you see, I’ve been observing you since the moment we met, so I know what drives you. You think the only way to gain what you want is to keep obeying him. And you may be right.”
“Then I have no reason to join you on your unholy crusade, do I?”
“But you still haven’t got what you wanted, have you?”
The first one had no answer to that.
“See? Both of us know that he is just using you. He’ll throw you away the moment he achieves his goals. You are nothing more than a puppet to him.”
“And what about you? What you are offering is the same, isn’t it?”
The first one scoffed.
“Oh yes it is. But there is a big difference: from my arrangement, both the puppet and the puppeteer will gain what they want, with no strings attached.”
The first one pondered about the offer of the other one, before raising a question.
“What guarantee do I have that you won’t betray me? And what do I do with all the time I’ve spent and all efforts and sacrifices I’ve made over these last years?”
“Now now, you have to let go of the past if you want to create your desired future. I’m willing to take full responsibility for the horrible events of the last five millenniums, but you must understand, cooperating with me is the only way you’ll ever achieve your goals.”
“And what about the deaths your methods will cause? Is there really a need to do this in such a convoluted way?”
“Believe me, we do. Moreover, sacrifices are inevitable no matter what you do. Dread it, run from it, deny it all you want, a time will come when you will be forced to make a choice. And if making a sacrifice is unavoidable, then we have to at least make it worth it.”
The first one once again fell into deep thought, contemplating its choices. The other one continued.
“But of course, I know how hard it is for you to believe me. Indeed, why should you? That’s why I intend to show you through my actions. Just follow the script I have written, and by the end, you’ll have your desired things in your hand.”
“And what if I don’t?”
The first one asked in a threatening way.
“Then you’re free to kill me, of course.”
“You’re saying your life alone holds enough value that it can substitute for my wish?”
The first one as momentarily shocked at this unexpected declaration, but its eyes soon filled with the light of unwavering determination.
“Fine. I’ll be your marionette: use me however you like. It doesn’t matter what happens to me as long as my end goals are achieved.”
The other one smiled wryly.
“What kind of brute do you take me to be? Of course, you’ll be coming out of this alive and well.”
They shook hands to complete the pact: after all, they couldn’t leave behind any physical evidence due to the fear of being discovered.
“We’ll see about that.”
“Oh yes, we will.”
The other one’s eyes shone with a malicious glint. All the ingredients had been gathered, after all. All that was left was to end this sham.
He was finally closer to his goals.