Chapter 163 – The Time The Road Opens (3)
“Damn, today’s the day the fog clears up!”
“So this is what those guys from the Heavens were after! This is dangerous. We mustn’t let them step in the sanctum!”
Mayday tilted her head as unknown words kept coming out of the old vampire.
“This isn’t the time to be like this. We need to move quickly! Even if it costs my life, I’ll defend the Sanctum of Darkness!”
The Priest began running toward the road that was clear of the fog.
“Human, don’t bother me! I must block the forces of the Heavens!”
“That’s my quest! I received a petition from a Duke!”
The Priest frowned at Mayday’s shout.
“Yes. It’s a quest that says that I should stop the Heavens.”
“Yes… Anyone that’s part of the Abyss has the right to offer their life, but if you’re a bother, I’ll throw you to the fog!”
The Priest began moving toward the road after warning her.
Mayday quickly followed him.
Was it going to be okay? Wouldn’t she die? Mayday thought numerous things while walking through the chilly, dark road.
She decided that, if things got too dangerous, she’d use a return scroll.
* * *
[…The road that leads to the Darkness starts from the lighthouse, gets connected to the canyon, and leads toward the heart, but to reach the heart, you have to wander through the fog.]
Hyun was lucky to have found that passage in the interloop.
It was information he’d found by combining numerous keywords.
The lighthouse probably referred to the town. It was probably the ‘Pitchblack Lighthouse.’
‘What do the canyon and heart refer to?’
The village’s name at the entrance was ‘Pitchblack Lighthouse,’ so those behind were probably called ‘Pitchblack Canyon’ and ‘Pitchblack Heart.’ But he wasn’t exactly sure what it meant.
Hyun slowly started walking down the road while he thought of many different things.
“Look over there!”
Ain’s shout led to him discovering the answer to his question.
The road that led to the Ruins of Darkness was uphill and connected to a mountain.
—A mountain surrounded by black fog.
The fortress wall and watchtower that were along the endless mountain were truly a beautiful sight.
Below the mountain, there was a canyon so deep that they couldn’t see the bottom of it.
‘Is that the canyon…? The fog is thicker over there.’
It couldn’t be seen very well because of the fog, but it seemed like there was a road that let them down into the canyon.
“It seems like it already broke…”
“These are probably traces that the knights left behind.”
The watchtowers all around were destroyed; it wasn’t hard to imagine what had happened.
“It seems like they destroyed everything they could on the way.”
Deep pits and destroyed towers…
Although there weren’t any corpses left, there were traces of devils offering resistance.
Even if there were some high-ranking devils, they probably weren’t able to face the knights with just the few that were in the watchtower.
Louise stared blankly at the destroyed remnants.
The winding road went on for quite a long time.
Due to the narrow field of view, they felt like they were heading toward an invisible road.
Hyun kept searching for information in the Interloop.
‘Lighthouse’, ‘canyon’, ‘fortress’, ‘heart’, he used numerous keywords… He soon found some drawings that seemed useful.
‘Wait. This… is a map!’
He became excited for a moment but soon realized the map wasn’t going to be very useful.
The map didn’t have the location of the fog.
It was impossible to put the location of a fog that constantly moved on a map in the first place.
‘There’s only one road, so we probably won’t need a map for a while.’
Seeing how there were traces of footsteps below them, it probably meant the knights had passed through that road.
Figuring their intentions while hiding and trying to avoid them was probably the first thing he had to do… He would make a plan after that.
While they were walking through the road, he suddenly heard Louise’s voice.
“There’s something strange…”
“What, are you still bothered?”
They had just passed through some traces of destruction.
He was wondering if Louise was still thinking about dead devils.
“You didn’t use «Assimilation» just now, right…?”
“Just now… I think that a weird memory came into my head.”
What did she mean?
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He scattered away and entered Louise.
While «Assimilated» to her, he shared her senses and soon understood what she was talking about.
「I feel like I’ve seen this before…」
Louise was feeling deja vu.
The mountains covered with black fog, sheer cliffs, and the canyon that you just couldn’t tell the depth of…
If she felt that she’d seen that other world-like scenery before, they were probably memories of Darkness.
「Is there anything you remember?」
「I’m not sure… Maybe it was my mistake.」
「If there’s anything you remember, say it because it might be important.」
Translator – Daniel Shin
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
The middle of the mountain…
There were many towns that were bigger than Pitchblack Lighthouse on the road towards the Ruins of Darkness.
The group that passed through tens of watchtowers looked at the destroyed towns.
The remnants of destroyed lands were scattered all over the place.
The difference between them and the one before was the size.
Louise realized something and took a deep breath.
“It seems like «Incineration» was used here as well.”
The city that was surrounded by fog might have been a natural fortress, but even a strong fortress couldn’t resist the knights.
‘Not even a lich could…’
Hyun looked at the magic circles that were all around the place and realized it was a place where liches, which were high-ranking devils, lived.
The liches used strong magic, so they were an object of fear for humans, but to Holy Knights, they were just ill-tempered devils.
‘It seems like there were also some hybrid beasts and golems.’
It seemed like there were also other monsters mixed among them.
The only thing that was left was silence.
Louise bit her lips while remaining quiet and looking over the destruction.
Since she had the name of Darkness, she probably couldn’t help being influenced by the deaths of devils.
“There could be enemies around here, so I’m going to use «Assimilation»,”
Louise silently nodded.
Hyun realized that he’d guessed correctly.
Louise’s heart was swirling with emotions.
It felt as if someone was stinging her chest with a needle, and her heart was thumping in her chest. It was obvious that she wasn’t in a normal state.
‘Are they all dead?’
Hyun looked around.
Although no corpses were left, the place was no different than a devil graveyard.
Louise couldn’t say anything, but her feelings weren’t like that.
Was Darkness paying her respects to the devils that had died?
‘No, not everyone is dead! Someone is approaching us!’
Hyun grabbed Ain and hid in the debris.
They heard a noise coming from somewhere.
There were some clashes, and the hum of mana became louder.
The low sound soon became loud.
While they watched the scene unfold from their hiding place, a big body fell and scrambled on the floor.
A beast’s hair, sharp claws, and teeth…
They soon realized it was a werewolf.
「It’s a devil! It’s still fighting against a Holy Knight!」
「Should we get involved?!」
「No, wait. Be quiet…!」
Hyun grabbed Ain’s hands and tried to calm Louise down.
They just looked at the one-sided battle happening from a distance.
The werewolf was fast and strong.
It was at a level that was comparable to the one they’d seen on the fifth floor of Kaidan Castle.
The problem was that a normal Holy Knight, who wasn’t even the vice-captain, was overwhelming such a werewolf.
GRRR! The werewolf cried out, but the Holy Knight’s expression didn’t change. He was as stoic as a soldier who took care of the deceased on a battlefield.
“This will probably kill it.”
The Holy Knight’s sword drew a line of light.
Although it might’ve looked weak, it contained a strength that the werewolf couldn’t handle.
Crack! The solid claws were destroyed, and after that, the werewolf’s body was split into two.
A sharp twinge affected Louise’s heart when the giant body scattered into light.
A demon was influenced by the death of a being that served her.
Ah…! Before Louise’s mouth opened, Hyun blocked her from saying any sound.
「Hyun, we aren’t going to fight? Seriously?!」
He calmed Ain down.
「There’s more than one enemy around us.」
Hyun, who had taken a step back to analyze the situation, realized they were in danger.
He heard the sounds of explosions and screams.
Dozens of Holy Knights were eliminating the devils that had managed to survive.
Hyun quickly realized the situation because, every time a devil died, there was a fluctuation in Louise’s heart.
‘There’s at least 10… We can’t win against them.’
The group silently waited for time to pass while the screams went on around them.
The only thing that Hyun could do was to try to calm Louise down.
Only after they could hear no more screams and the Holy Knights left could they walk out of the remnants.
‘This isn’t good.’
Louise was in a bad spot.
Up until then, she had never been so distressed.
Louise especially always tried to hold her emotions down when Hyun «Assimilated» to her.
“Hyun…” Louise mumbled with a blank expression on her face. It was as if she’d given up on everything.
“Didn’t you feel that?”
“My chest feels hot… I also don’t know what’s wrong with me. My head just feels messed up, but…”
Louise was talking using her mouth rather than her soul, so even Ain could hear what she was saying.
“I don’t know why, but for the first time… I got the thought and desire of wanting to become stronger.”
Louise’s voice was louder than normal.
“I heard that demons are strong beings. Isn’t that right?”
“Then, am I really a demon?”
「You’re a demon?!」Ain suddenly interrupted, but Hyun put his finger near his mouth and said, “I’ll tell you the details later…”
“If, just like you say, I’m a demon… why is it that I’m so weak?”
A Transcendent needed to have a strong Ego and Empathy.
Because Louise had lost her memories, her Ego was weak and couldn’t be compared to a Transcendent’s.
That meant she couldn’t use her strength.
She also couldn’t use Empathy as her own power, which meant she couldn’t use the strength of those who believed in her.
Hyun didn’t explain all of the details to her. What she needed wasn’t an explanation.
‘Is it destiny?’
Louise was experiencing a dilemma.
Those that served the Darkness called her name before dying.
Desperation, pain, revenge…
Their Empathy made of negative emotions joined Darkness.
A demon with a weak ego couldn’t help but suffer if receiving countless arrows of emotion that flew toward her.
Louise’s desire to get stronger was probably a reaction to that—she probably wanted to offer resistance to those that hurt her.
“If… I had a strength comparable to yours…!”
To a little girl, the weight of the name ‘Darkness’ was too much to handle.
Before Louise could keep talking, Hyun opened his mouth.
「You can easily become stronger than me.」
“There’s no way that’s true… I realized something while hunting—my body doesn’t level up!”
If you were a demon, you would forever be a demon. You couldn’t change your destiny.
Since Louise realized what the devils were feeling, she had two choices…
Was she going to live a life that was swayed by Empathy, or would she try to get a strength powerful enough to control that?
It meant that, if Louise didn’t want to be devoured by the emotions of others, she had to become Darkness.