I seriously feel annoyed that I had to leave those two in the church alone, but I’d regret it even more if I let this city be overrun just because I couldn’t let some potential future enemies go. These were my thoughts as I flew across the city towards the center.
It was while I was flying that I also noticed how big this city is. I’ve been flying for almost five minutes and it’s only now that the Adventurer’s Guild has come into view. Beside it was the large fort-like entrance to the Labyrinth and from where I am, I could hear the sounds of ongoing battle.
“M-Master, over there!”
Shaking in my arms, Vai shakily pointed towards the field in front of the entrance. She insisted she’d head for the Labyrinth her own way, but I felt that it would take too much time and just swept her off her feet as I took to the skies.
Seeing her in this state made, I thought to myself that she’s really cute. I didn’t think she’d be afraid of flying, but then again not many people would probably have this experience in this world.
I circled a bit to find a good place to land, but sensing a familiar magic signature, I flew towards it instead. Awakening to my magic sense sure made a few things convenient I thought as I landed to where I sensed Sorena and some of the girls.
“Camus! You’re here!”
She called out to me as soon as she saw me fly closer.
As I was gliding down, I noticed the monsters coming out of the entranceway as some were facing off against the soldiers and adventurers. Based on what they looked like, they were aptly called Devils.
The smallest and most numerous ones were literal eyeballs with bat wings and teeth. Then there are the ones that are purple humanoids with bat-like wings, sinister pointed tails, and tiny horns, which would best be described as imps. The most dangerous ones were the man-sized goat-headed humanoids who sported spiked bone-like clubs or serrated hooked spears.
As far as I could see or sense, these three were the only monster types present, but oddly enough there weren’t as many as I thought there’d be. Not to mention that rather than fighting… they seem rather more frantic to run away. Are the adventurers that scary?
As soon as I let Vai down, I had to confirm what’s going on.
“Sorena, either things seem to be in control here or am I missing something?”
“You’re right to be confused. I was on my way towards the church when I sensed the malignant mana coming from the entrance of the Labyrinth. When I arrived, I saw the adventurers were forming a wall keeping the devils from escaping, but…”
Sorena made a concerned face before she continued.
“Let alone causing fear and suffering, the devils were instead fighting hard to run towards the surface… none even tried to attack the adventurers that tried to escape to the surface… they only scattered and fled as soon as they got out through the entrance.”
That IS odd. I tried to sense deeper into the Labyrinth, but the dense fog of miasma cut off my senses at the entrance.
“Not only that… the devil horde also wasn’t as large as it was originally projected by the detection devices set up by the guild… what’s strange though, is that they do detect a massive presence in the lower floors, but the number of devils didn’t add up.”
Hmm. Vulkratos threatened to overrun the city with devils, but could he and his order be hiding an even bigger threat? As I was contemplating on whether I should lead the charge, suddenly the situation took a sudden turn.
“Everyone, look out!”
“Something big is flying out!”
As soon as someone cried out, we all turned towards the Labyrinth’s entrance and we all saw something massive flying out and falling to the floor… something big, had four legs, scaled and – I sighed as soon as I realized it was only Fenril.
What the hell was he doing in there? I swear, if this was all because of him, I’m gonna give him an earful.
[What the hell are you doing? I though I told you to watch over Sorena and the girls.]
[Be careful, My King! It approaches! One with great power!]
When he strongly sent that message, I belatedly realized he was in full size with blade cuts all across the scales on his body. One of his horns was even chipped.
I immediately turned my attention towards the Labyrinth. The fog slowly cleared and made way for a large devil with skin like molten rock, horns like a bull, and the wings of a bat. On its right hand was a whip seemingly made of fire dragging across the floor. This thing surely would’ve been a fearsome presence… if it weren’t for the fact it was covered in wounds and looked close to dying.
As soon as it stepped out, it fell forward onto the ground. A few seconds passed, and it simply laid there on the floor. Everyone was speechless and confused… until something with an incredible aura of death radiated its influence outwards making everyone drop on their asses or faint from the shock.
In a swift motion born of reflex, I readied a great bow aimed towards the entrance. I would’ve preferred Ichaival, but given its condition, I don’t really have better options at the moment.
As we waited, the fog of miasma suddenly cleared and a gigantic skeletal claw appeared as it reached for the devil’s leg and dragged it back in. What followed after was only silence.
I slowly let go of the tension as seconds turned into minutes while nothing happened. I also could no longer sense the presence that was there earlier.
Since things seemed to calm down, I started asking, “…does anyone have a clue what that was?”
Sorena nodded as she answered, “From what I could see… it appeared to be a giant skeletal undead… but… that doesn’t make sense. Undead only appear in places where a great number of creatures have perished, such as old war zones or destroyed cities. While some adventurers have died in the Labyrinth over the years, it wouldn’t nearly be enough for it to fall under that category.”
I nodded as I finished up the rest of that explanation, “That and undead could never appear in regions where devils thrived since they enjoy devouring the souls of the living.”
They all nodded in response with looks of anxiety.
This just jumped from one mystery to another, but there’s no point sitting about making guesses. I turned towards a familiar old mad and called out.
“Guild Head, Furen. As a bearer of the Mithril plate, I request permission to enter the Labyrinth and verify the level of danger.”
He nodded towards me then with a loud voice announced, “With my authority as the Head of Llorden’s Adventurer’s Guild, I formally request Camus Helmight, the Scaled Destroyer King, to investigate the Devil’s Crater and to subjugate any threats that would threaten Llroden!”
“I accept the request!”
I said with a straight face, but holy stinking fuck. Who the hell chose my adventurer title!? I haven’t formally filed for one yet since I couldn’t think of something less embarrassing, but it took a lot of my willpower not to curl up into a ball and bury myself in a hole!
My feelings aside, this play had to be done in order for me to have full reign over what to do within the Labyrinth. This should also help people feel secure knowing a Mithril rank is doing the raid.
“Camus, please bring us with you!”
I turned towards Sorena. I looked behind her and saw Azula and some of the Pavilion girls.
“I can’t bring too many. If whatever’s in there is strong, you all might get caught up in the fight.”
“Then only me and Azula will come along. We’re the strongest here from the Pavilion and I can assure you we won’t get in your way.”
She told me while having that look on her face that says she won’t take no for an answer. I have confidence in Sorena’s magic, but I’m not sure about Azu-
“Hold your thoughts. I only lost to you since you fought me in a manner where I wouldn’t be able to fight back. If I was fighting to kill, I guarantee you, you’d have lost a lot more even if you’d win the fight.” said Azula as she crossed her arms and gave me a serious look. How the hell could she tell what I was thinking?
I then turned to Vai and she only gave me a nod and a determined look.
I sighed as I turned around, but I couldn’t help a smile forming on my face seeing these determined women.
I looked towards Fenril and gave him a pat as I said, “Looks like we’ll be taking the lead, eh boy?”
[Even if we’re pretending to be a tamed beast and his master, please refrain from treating me like a dog, My King.]
As he spoke these thoughts, Fenril snorted as he went on ahead. Well, someone’s upset. I’ll have to groom him up later after he regrows his scales.
As we head inside, I could see the interior of the building housing the entrance was mostly made of grey stone, like medieval castles. Contrary to the outside, which had a monastery-like feel, the inside was quite mundane.
Strangely enough though, the place seemed mostly fine considering it wasn’t actually part of the Labyrinth.
Vai was a little wary at first towards Fenril, but after explaining to her that he was my companion and that he can be trusted, she calmed down. Sorena and Azula already saw him back at the Pavillion, so they weren’t as concerned, but they were surprised to see him at his full height and form.
They were quite curious as to how I was able to tame a massive and powerful beast related to Dragons, but they later shrugged it off saying there’s nothing to question since it’s me. Somehow, I felt quite annoyed by that.
As we neared the center, what I saw was a massive two-lane spiraling staircase that went downwards. To the sides appeared reception desks and booths of sorts which probably managed entry into the Labyrinth. Aside from several broken pieces of furniture, decorations, and some gash marks on walls, the place is relatively intact.
One thing’s bothering me though…
“This is odd…”
Seems like Azula had the same feeling.
“I see signs of struggle and battle… but no bodies or even blood.”
Sorena and Vai nodded in turn.
Considering it was a giant skeleton arm that we saw earlier, I had to confirm and ask, “Hmm… can devils become undead?”
Sorena turned towards me and replied, “No, not really. Devils are entities born from the Undervoid, and are thus composed entirely differently from the creatures born of our world. One major difference is that they lack a soul and a true body, two major requirements for the manifestation of an undead.
While they possess flesh, it is made of whatever matter composes the Undervoid, and not a body born through natural means in our world, which for some reason makes them incompatible with life altering magics of our world. Not possessing a soul also means that their vessel is either incompatible with one, or is filled by something else entirely.”
“That’s… good to know.”
That was quite a lot to take in, but I get the gist of it. While I know a lot about undead, I hardly know anything about devils, so this helped. Sorena also seems quite pleased with herself as she was able to answer it thoroughly. She might be the kind of person who enjoys teaching people.
I guess this means the devil corpses were simply eaten or something. Just to be sure, I asked her again.
“That’s the only likely case. Devil bodies, while filled with alien energies, still constitute flesh and magic, hence would still be attractive to undead.”
Then that settles it. There’s only one thing to do now and that’s to figure out what are undead doing in a Labyrinth that spawns devils then clear them out.
I thought that as we continued our descent to the actual Labyrinth.
We eventually reached the bottom and as soon as I step foot on the earth that connects to the actual Labyrinth, I sensed it… the cold aura of undeath.
Rather than unsettling discomfort as the girls are showing, I instead felt… nostalgia.
How long has it been since I’ve felt the cold air of the underground? The stench of decay has ironically brought back warm memories… memories of a time I spent with my dad.
I must’ve looked strange considering I had a smile on my face while in this deathly aura, but good thing I was ahead and had my back towards them.
The trip to memory lane was cut short, however, as I soon sensed an overpowering presence ahead of us.
[My King! It’s the strong one!]
Just as Fenril called out to me, I saw it. A few meters from the mouth of the cave entrance, there it stood… a massive black form with an equally massive sword.
If my eyes weren’t so sharp, I could’ve sworn it looked like my dad, but my senses told me otherwise.
Almost three meters tall, its body was a dull black armor wielding a massive two-handed sword with a broad face. It lacked a head and all that appeared from above its shoulders was ensorcelled bluish spellfire.
“That’s… a Dullahan!”
I heard Sorena cry out with shock in her voice. This being does seem familiar in my old memories, but I recall the entity being a headless rider. I sense no undead horses within the vicinity though.
“Not just any old Dullahan…”
We all tensed as we heard it speak. Any undead with the capability of speech means they have retained a certain level of their reason and resisted the Decaying Corruption, which can only mean it’s a high level one.
“I sensed one who hails from the old kingdom… the stench of ageless decay present only within the ranks of our Lord…”
The being grew higher… or at least appeared to be standing up? Apparently, it was kneeling all this time as it picked up its greatsword. It was now well over three meters and its lower body was revealed to be armor split into four legs. In other words, its quadrupedal with the upper body of a humanoid – the form of a centaur.
“I… am Himalgrim… and I serve He who holds the Throne of Death. I have been waiting… by my lord’s command… to judge the last son Ellara… if thou art worthy to ascend the Temple of Magic…”
It raised its sword and pointed it towards us.