Chapter 164 – Empathy Is… (1)
Hyun began thinking in Louise’s place.
All humans that lived on the surface hated her. Not only that, but suddenly, she started to feel the devils’ pain.
She received hate from the Heavens and pain from the Abyss.
She was swept away by incidents, whether she wanted to be or not, but despite that, she couldn’t feel anything—that’s why she was feeling disillusioned.
‘It isn’t going to be easy.’
The situation… maybe he would be able to change it.
It wasn’t just because of a quest—Hyun wanted to give Louise strength.
「You just have to follow me.」
「I’m going to help you become strong enough to do most things alone.」
“You’re telling me to leave things to you… If that’s all I can do…”
“What are you guys talking about? Tell me, too!”
Ain alone couldn’t hear, so she shouted but was ignored.
Hyun received a new message window.
“Then, I’ll leave my body to you one last time.”
Darkness’s will was transferred to its shadow, the Shadow Linker.
[A piece of Darkness has started to resonate!]
[Louise’s Empathy has been unlocked!]
While he suddenly received message windows…
Hyun felt his heart beating faster.
‘What’s going on…?’
Even though he was a user, he felt a bit excited, so Louise, who was an NPC, was probably feeling more excited.
「Are you okay?」Hyun asked in surprise.
“I was surprised for a bit, but I’m okay…”
「Do you want to take a break…?」
“No. We can’t change our plans because of me. Hyun, you can do as you wish.”
Although Louise was still little, she was the NPC who knew what Hyun was capable of the best.
Up to that point, all of his plans had worked. Not only that, but he’d managed to do some things that seemed impossible.
Even when she saw no way out… Every time she wanted to give up, Hyun always found a solution.
At that point, Louise completely trusted him, so she was once again going to leave things to him.
Hyun read Louise’s thoughts through «Assimilation».
He «Disassimilated» because it would be a problem if their emotions got intertwined in that situation.
“But if it gets hard to deal with, tell me.”
He recomposed himself.
He’d learned that feeling anxious and nervous increased the chances of making mistakes.
“Ain, you too, focus. We may have to fight soon.”
“Of course, I’m focused!”
“More than that.”
“You still haven’t fully come to your senses.”
Ain’s body suddenly trembled.
The Blessing of Darkness was affecting her, and Hyun’s eyes were firmer and colder than she had ever seen before.
He heard her take a screenshot out of nowhere.
Hyun was confused, but after that, Ain’s expression became serious, so he didn’t say anything else.
Slowly but calmly, they began walking forward.
* * *
In a very high place…
The Skeleton Duke, Scothanatos, was looking at his territory.
Even though Heavens users had gone through this land and the Holy Knights had invaded his territory, the Duke remained calm.
Even while devils were dying and in the middle of the chaos of the war, he didn’t lose his temper and kept thinking of the next move.
“Woah… They’re going through again…!”
After users and Holy Knights, the Heavens kept invading.
A follow-up unit arrived. That time, it was Holy Magicians wearing robes with a golden pattern. Then Scothanatos finally nodded.
The wait had been worth it.
In war, every decision could become decisive. Being able to see all of your opponent’s cards could give you a huge advantage.
“It’s about time to move…”
Scothanatos decided that he would wipe away the Heavens’ plans with his next move.
Since he knew the size, strength, and location of the Heavens’ forces, he could lead the devils himself and eliminate the enemies.
Scothanatos was sure of his success—at least until the Darkness began resonating.
The moment Louise’s heart began beating faster, the situation changed.
The Duke’s eyes shone even though he had been able to remain calm during the Heavens’ invasion.
“The land is crying… Why…?”
The Duke could even feel his bones vibrating.
To think that it would be such a strong resonation… There was no way Scothanatos, someone who served Darkness, wouldn’t know what that meant.
“Did Darkness arrive today…?”
He hadn’t realized the girl he’d met the day before, Louise, was actually Darkness.
He just knew that the weak body of Darkness was somewhere, but that was enough to make him excited.
“It isn’t time to try to make things… More effective.”
He wouldn’t have been able to act so relaxedly if he’d made a mistake.
If it was the will of Darkness, they had to make it come true—even if it required them to put their lives on the line.
“I’ll have to use all of my forces…!”
Before the Ruins of Darkness was destroyed, they had to eliminate the Heavens from the lands. They couldn’t let someone interrupt the resurrection ceremony.
Translator – Daniel Shin
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
It was at that moment that a magic circle made of fire appeared.
Thick Demonic Energy appeared.
The Demonic Energy began taking form, and then wings appeared from its back.
Scothanato’s eyes shone in a surprised reaction once more.
The one that appeared in front of him was a demon, but it was a face he didn’t remember.
As the one who served the Darkness… There was no way he wouldn’t know a demon’s face. Did that mean that it was someone who didn’t serve Darkness? Then, why had someone like that appeared in front of him?
The unknown demon began talking to Scothanatos as if he’d gone there to give him a message.
“The laws of cause and effect are being balanced. Don’t interfere.”
“I cannot… Understand…”
“It means that you should just watch.”
Even though it was a Transcendent saying it, Scothanatos couldn’t help but have some doubts.
To ask him to remain still when Darkness herself had entered the land… Even if he were a demon, he wouldn’t be able to easily accept what some unknown being was saying to him.
It seemed like he noticed, and the demon smirked and started talking again.
“My name is Djonial. I’m just here to say what Deception has told me to relay.”
“Deception…? Wants me just to watch…?”
The demon, Djonial, didn’t remain there for a long time.
For a servant-rank demon like him, even being there for a short moment was quite a difficult task.
“She said that this was all for Darkness, so I’ll trust your decision.”
After saying that, Djonial disappeared.
Even after the magic circle disappeared, Scothanatos kept thinking for a while.
‘Should I just… watch?’
Darkness and Deception became stronger when they coexisted.
Although there might’ve been some conflicts between their underlings, the demons had no reason to fight each other. Moreover, there was no way there would be a conflict between great demons.
‘Cause and effect…! What cause and effect was he referring to…?’
No matter how much he thought about it, Scothanatos couldn’t understand the meaning behind those words.
Was it referring to the Darkness awakening, or did it have some other meaning? The more he thought about it, the more confused he became.
Was it obvious that a skeleton like him wouldn’t be able to understand what a great demon said?
His two eye sockets continued to flash.
* * *
The fog moved. Whenever the fog moved, it felt as if the sky was wriggling.
Even the sun, which was getting darker, wasn’t enough to distract the group because Louise’s expression suddenly changed at a system message that appeared.
[Louise’s Empathy has been unlocked!]
Hyun had been curious about something for a while.
A Transcendent exercised its strength through Ego or Empathy, but why was it that Louise, who was a Transcendent, could receive prayers but not use her Empathy?
He’d concluded that it was probably because she was incomplete as a demon. It seemed like Hyun’s guess was correct.
[Empathy Lv.0 (+1)]
[A Transcendent obtains strength from receiving prayers from countless beings. The more your heart trembles, the stronger you’ll become, so you should be prepared to accept the turbulent emotions of the entire world.]
[ – You can feel the emotions of those who serve you.]
[ – You can also make them feel what you’re feeling.]
Empathy was one of a Transcendent’s many powers.
…And it had just appeared as a skill in Louise’s status window.
After going through a change of heart, Darkness had completed half of the awakening, and thanks to that, she had gotten one step closer to fully becoming a Transcendent.
‘Did she awaken after going through a change of heart?’
Hyun smiled bitterly.
To think someone so weak was the Great Demon of Darkness.
He didn’t suddenly see Louise as an impressive existence.
Rather than that, he was worried about whether she would be troubled… If she’d be able to accept others’ feelings with such a weak heart.
‘But her Ego… still has yet to awaken!’
She’d get devoured by the emotions pouring from everywhere in the state she was in.
In the end, she wouldn’t be able to distinguish her own feelings.
To stop that from happening… Lousie had to unlock a Transcendent’s other strength, the ‘Ego.’
The black clouds cut away and formed new ones.
Hyun suddenly felt a surge of emotions from Louise.
The sense of death… Maybe, one day, Louise would be able to Empathize with everything around the world, but for the moment, she could only feel what was around them.
It seemed like there was a fight happening close to there and that they were close to the Holy Knight.
If they wanted to move safely, it would be best to wait for a moment, but Hyun didn’t stop.
Every time he or Louise changed, the main quest was modified. Wouldn’t something like that happen right then?
– To recover the Ego, ‘Darkness’ has to reach the end of the road.
– Reach the ‘heart’ of Darkness before the enemies!
– If the Heavens’ forces manage to destroy the ruins, Darkness won’t be able to withstand the pressure of Empathy and will end up perishing. Hundreds of years will probably have to pass before Darkness is able to awaken again.
Hyun soon realized that his guess was correct.
The quest’s description changed from “Find the Ruins’ to a more precise one that gave a warning.
It was about Louise’s death.
Truth, Deception, Light, Darkness, Order, Chaos…
According to his Asra knowledge, Transcendents didn’t die.
Even if they disappeared, they just moved to the next generation.
If Darkness was reborn, would she be Louise?
That wasn’t something he could answer with his knowledge.
She would probably be someone else with another face and personality. Although Darkness may have been immortal, her body and memories could disappear.
‘I thought something like this might happen.’
The Main Quest was something capable of changing Asra’s history.
It wasn’t something you could choose to do or not; you also couldn’t take a break from it.
It was a quest that had a time limit. You only had one chance, and its difficulty was extremely high.
‘Did I think of it too lightly…?’
It wasn’t simply reaching the Ruins of Darkness—he also had to get there faster than the knights.
At first, the quest seemed easy, so he’d thought he would be able to do it any time he wanted to.
If he knew that he didn’t have much time, wouldn’t it have been better if he moved more quickly?
‘No, considering the time the fog opens, I’m not late.’
The Road to Darkness opened once a month.
There was no point in having reached the town faster if he couldn’t go down the road faster.
In the end, facing the knights was the only possible outcome.
Hyun was able to rationally organize his thoughts.
‘This is probably the fastest way… After all, it hasn’t even been a month since I received the quest regarding the Ruins of Darkness.’
The clear sound of battle entered the group’s ears. The devils were fighting against the Holy Knights.
After realizing that opponents were near them, Ain asked him a question in surprise.
“Weren’t we planning… to chase them from a distance?”
「There’s been a change of plans.」
According to the new information, Louise had to reach the place called ‘heart.’ The ruins were probably there, and they had to reach that place before the knights.
「We have to catch up.」
「All the way.」