A few weeks after the big battle at the colosseum, Dream was observing the portal that was being built within the demon's empire.
He always had Sophia monitoring it, and as of now, it was about 90% complete. There was still one section that wasn't yet built, but it wasn't much, and Dream was planning on enacting his plan within a week or so. Until then though, he was just locked away in his factory, as he had been for most of his days.
As Dream floated in the air within a big room within the factory, his cosmic form manipulated strands of mana and gray mist, forming a complex magical network. In the center of this network was Aegis's armor body made of platinum.
Dream hadn't used the armor much at all lately, and he had been mainly focused on optimizing it and testing its limits. As they had expected when they first made it, the platinum was indeed more conductive to mana and could store much more. In fact, after messing around with flux ratios to find the highest stable grade, Dream found that the platinum was able to store twice the amount of mana as well as conduct it with much higher efficiencies than his steel. This led to a stronger material than his steel particles, and they were naturally able to contain better enchantments.
So with the better hardware, Dream continued to create better software utilizing the universal language script. He enchanted the suit primarily with gray mist, but also used some mana. The two were easily able to work alongside each other since the gray mist was of a neutral nature, so no problems arose.
"Although it can get difficult, enchanting with the universal language really is great. It makes everything so much easier and streamlined. Oh! How are the girls adapting to the language? Have they learned it yet?"
Suddenly remembering something, Dream asked Sophia.
[They have. A while ago actually. They picked it up about two months after you gave them some script to analyze.]
"Nice. Now, what do you think about this section? I'm thinking the connection to the heart can be strengthened, but I don't know if I want it to be spacially fixed."
[Maybe if you changed the throughput. The suit only needs so much from the heart, so we can split it.]
"Very true. Alright then, let's try that..."
Focusing on the suit, Dream continued to work and experiment.
"Hmph. She always has some kind of meeting to go to. Whatever. Hmm, maybe I should try hitting the empire again. They've been quiet lately."
Iris, who was flying through the air, set herself on a path and blasted off. Soon, she was outside the biggest demon empire where the portal was being built.
Iris had been coming to this place more frequently as she enjoyed doing flybys and harassing the demon populations by annihilating millions at a time. She would also test herself against the powerful class 4's that lived there, taking on many at a time. However, in the past couple weeks, the demons had been quiet.
The lands were sparser, the number of class 4's was dwindling, and the power that radiated from the main castle was odd. As the portal still wasn't finished though, they didn't make a big deal out of it and assumed it was because the demons used sacrifices to build the portal, resulting in the number of demons declining. They had at least proven that sacrifices were indeed happening, so the risk of them being mistaken was low.
After flying outside the castle, Iris looked it over and changed into her fox form. Her eyes were narrowed though. Something was different about the place.
"Weird... Hey! Get the hell out here!"
Iris shouted as her fur flared up, ready to battle. However, her shout garnered no response like it always did. Snarling, she released her aura.
"Did you not hear me?! I said get out! Don't make me destroy your fancy portal."
Releasing fire, she used her influence and ruinous mana to send an attack toward the castle. However, before it did, 4 figures flew out and blocked the attack.
"You! Are you looking for death, you wench?!"
A demon cursed at her, clearly recognizing her. She wasn't exactly popular here, but that didn't mean she wasn't very well know. She had been causing problems there for months.
Seeing the 4 demons that came out to meet her, Iris narrowed her eyes further. Usually, over 40 would come out. Something was definitely up.
"Hey, where are your friends? Don't tell me they ended their own worthless lives so as to not be eaten by me?"
"Hah! You're only half right."
The demon smiled to her with a profound gaze. Seeing that, she was about to alert Sophia, but suddenly, her influence that had washed over the castle picked up on something.
Down underground, there was a large room. In the center of this room was a throne, and all around the throne were red runic lines, script, and enchantments that covered the floor, walls, and ceiling. It looked like some kind of devil summoning ritual.
Meanwhile, on the throne sat a single figure. The figure was at least 8 feet tall, and its red body matched the lines at its feet. Some specks of blood on the floor were still being drawn to it and absorbed into the body.
After Iris's influence washed over the place, it found this room and garnered a reaction from the being on the throne. The demon, or devil, raised its head that held four large horns which curled upward like a crown. It looked up through the ground above it and out toward Iris who was in the air. Iris also met its gaze as if the ground between them didn't exist.
Seeing those solid red eyes that seemed about to cry blood, Iris shivered in terror. That being didn't release its aura, but Iris didn't need it to to sense the boundless power it contained. That gaze alone seemed ready to swallow up her very soul.
Her predator instincts were squashed, and the only thought in her head was to leave that place as quickly as possible. Before she could though, the devil stood from its throne, and disappeared, the next moment reappearing behind the 4 demons that were facing off against her.
Seeing the devil appear behind them, the four demons shivered in fear and respect, immediately falling on their knees in mid air before it.
"Oh, great Duke! We hail your presence!"
"...You are the last ones..."
The devil spoke as the sun shone off its red, androgynous body that rippled with muscles. Its crown of horns gave off a sense of royalty and magnificence, and Iris felt even more stifled. Its very presence seemed to order all living beings to bow in reverence.
"Great Duke, allow us to be of use! We give our lives for thee!"
"...I will grant your wish."
"Our greatest thanks, great Duke!"
Hearing the devil, the four demons took on euphoric expressions. After that, the devil raised its palm toward them, and an attractive force was given off. The demons began to shrivel up as their blood and marrow was sucked out of them and shot toward the devil's palm. Iris could even see their souls shoot toward the devil and stream into it, being absorbed.
After only a few moments, all four demons were no more than dried skin and bones, and when the wind brushed past their bodies, they blew apart into ashes.
After that, Iris and the devil looked at each other. One party was apathetic, as if nothing in this world were of interest, and the other was about to pass out from the other's pressure.
"...I see they failed to eradicate all of you."
"...W-what are you."
"A city... underground. I see..."
Hearing the Devil, Iris's eyes went wide. He had seen the Haven!
'I have to get back to Dream! Activate!'
Biting her tongue, Iris activated a skill through her contract and disappeared, shooting back to Dream who was in the factory. The devil didn't seem to care as it looked off in the direction of the Haven.
"They must be eradicated."
Saying that, it too began flying, though contrary to his powerful presence, it wasn't fast. If Iris were to look closely, she would've actually seen that its power was leaking...
"Huh? What happened?"
When Iris appeared on top of her contract next to Dream's soul, he was startled. Her aura was unsteady, and she was panicked.
"Dream! A demon! He's going for the Haven!"
"What? A demon?"
"Not just a demon! It's... It's a devil! It's powerful... Wait!"
Iris stumbled on her words as her fox form appeared in front of him. After thinking for a second though, she used her power to write some universal language script and sent it to him. Dream quickly absorbed the script and analyzed it, seeing the memories within.
"...What the hell is that..."
"I don't know. I was just at the empire and that guy popped out. You have to get down to the Have-, wait, no. We need to get away from that thing! We need to hide! It's too powerful! I've never felt anything so powerful before..."
"Aegis, to me."
"Yes, my lord!"
Ignoring Iris, Dream called over Aegis who rushed to him. After they merged, Dream looked at Iris.
"Go to your sister."
"I'll see you down there."
Saying that, Dream's cosmic body suddenly disappeared. Iris attempted to teleport to him again, but he had blocked it. Gritting her teeth, she teleported to Luna instead.
After Dream disappeared, he entered the 4th dimension and traveled through it. This was how the girl's teleport function worked, and it was an extremely fast method of travel. However, to control it, one needed to be able to at least somewhat control Aether, the spatial energy. Only Dream could do that freely, so only he could travel this way on command. This was only something he figured out after many months of tests.
It took him less than a minute to appear on the ground above the Haven. Nothing had happened, which meant he had beat this devil. However, he could sense a menacing aura over the horizon coming straight toward him.
Dream nodded. He finally knew why Iris was so overwhelmed.
Standing in place, Dream faced the direction of the devil. After some time passed, the devil appeared in the air over the horizon. Seeing Dream though, it stopped about 10 miles away, its gaze falling on Dream's cosmic form.
As that happened, a couple dozen people appeared behind Dream. It was Luna and Iris along with every single class 4. Luna was about to rush over to him, but froze in place upon seeing the devil in the distance. The other class 4's did the same, and one of the somewhat weaker dwarves threw up after only laying his eyes on it.
"You all, stay back."
Dream spoke, his tone serious and commanding. Luna looked at him.
"You too. Nobody steps up. You'll just be killed meaninglessly."
Hearing him, Luna thought for a second before nodding. She then used her power to help the other class 4's and move back a few dozen miles. She wasn't totally willing to leave, but she would stand by temporarily.
With them out of the way, the devil and Dream continued to stand off from each other 10 miles apart. The class 4's all watched as invisible power clashed between them without them even releasing their auras.
"All life must be eradicated for the descent of the Demon Lord. I will give you the chance. Become a Demon, and you will have the glorious opportunity to witness his descent."
Dream was silent as the devil spoke. After thinking for a bit, something clicked into place in his mind.
"So... The portal was only one ingredient. You need the power of a higher being to open it. The sacrifices... They were all to create you, and you're the key to open the portal."
"I see not all humans are lowly and stupid. That is correct. Now, will you submit and become a Demon, or will you stand against me?"
The devil spoke apathetically as if he didn't care about Dream's choice. Dream wasn't really listening to him though. He was just marveling at the truly deep power the demons contained.
"Man, you guys really are a parasite. Are there any other tricks I should know about? The amount of curveballs you've thrown is just astonishing, really. I'm impressed."
"...I see you've decided to stand against me."
"Honestly, I'm really only trying to decide whether to use you as an Aether source or analyze your soul. I was wondering what the advancement to the next class looks like, and it seems I have a live test subject right in front of me."
Dream spoke with genuine curiosity as he felt the aura of the devil. This devil definitely wasn't a class 4, so he must be a class 5. He had yet to see or learn anything about what a class 5 was, so this was an amazing opportunity.
Hearing him though, the devil frowned, taking on a facial expression for the first time. Luna, who was a distance behind him, also felt her eye twitch a bit as she heard his words.
"Since you will stand against me, I will grant you the death you seek."
Displeased, the devil spoke and released his aura. The unfathomably powerful aura washed over the land for hundreds of miles, consisting purely of the devil's influence. Dream's eyes narrowed seeing that, and he released his own aura. His power seethed from his cosmic body, taking control of the immediate vicinity.
Then, the devil took a step forward, as did Dream. They both then disappeared simultaneously, and the next moment, reappeared next to each other, both throwing punches.
The space between the punches shattered, and a shockwave was released like a wall between them. The ground underneath was sliced open like butter, creating a line between the two as if declaring the territories of two kings.
For a moment, the two observed each other. The devil gazed into the colorful cosmos that constituted Dream's body, and Dream looked into the bloody eyes of the devil. The devil smirked.
"You don't match my power."
As if assuming his victory, the devil proceeded to throw more punches, as did Dream. The two bashed into each other faster than any of the class 4 spectators could follow, zipping in and out of space. The power that each punch released was enough to annihilate them.
This went on for a few minutes. As the blows were traded, Dream watched as his arm continuously grew destabilized. The overwhelming power of the devil was enough to harm him directly, something that had never happened while in this body. He was calm though, and soon called upon his weapon.
With real feelings of exhilaration, Aegis activated. His heart, which had been hidden from the devil, suddenly released its boundless power. The armor then appeared over Dream's body in splits of a second. The gray platinum covered the cosmic body, and its red, vein-like lines glowed intensely with power.
An even bigger explosion of power was released, and the devil was thrown back for the first time. Startled, the devil looked at the transformed Dream.
"Time for a change in tactics."
Clenching his fists, Dream withdrew his influence and all the mana he radiated. The devil watched as his presence became thin and faint, as if he were a weakling who couldn't even cultivate power.
"I bet you don't have this kind of control over your own power, right? I wonder, are you a real class 5?"
Dream spoke, but his question was rhetorical. Even now, the devil failed to have absolute control over his own power. He leaked aura constantly, and when Dream observed his soul, he saw that it was a bit unstable. While this didn't mean the devil wasn't far above the class 4 level, it meant he may not be a genuine class 5. If he had to guess, the devil was an artificial class 5. And given the sacrifices of the class 4's, he knew this was probably correct.
The demons had sacrificed their cumulative power to produce this class 5 being. All for the sake of opening the portal. It truly amazed him, all the tricks they had up their sleeves. If it wasn't for him, this world would have been doomed long ago, and the natives here wouldn't have even been able to put up a fight. It wasn't even fair for them.
"Oh well. Now that my reactor is ignited, why don't we continue?"
Dream inwardly smiled as he faced off with the devil once more. The reactor on his back was glowing brightly with plasma several times hotter than the core of the sun. Energy surged through his suit because of this. All that along with the magic power of the heart made him feel like exploding with strength.
He was filled with the euphoria of absolute power. This is the strongest he has ever been, and he was finally going to be able to use everything he had against an enemy of similar caliber. He would be forced to use everything he had, but Dream couldn't be happier to do so. After all, this is one of the biggest reasons he's built everything he has.
"The cumulation of all my knowledge and power against the conglomeration of every demon. Either you defeat me, or I will finally have surpassed you and all your tricks. Come, devil! Our battle will be legendary!"
With the zealous shout of a warrior, Dream challenged the devil with everything he had. They were soon interlocked in battle once more, and the planet was carved with the remnants of their mythical conflict.