73. Reality Check
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Victor felt immense pain as if his leg had been snapped in half. The dungeon shuddered; the walls that had seemed impenetrable with enough mana running through them to form a small star began to crack and groan.

Hyveth Arcspace, an Ancient dragon with domain over space, grunted as purple runic circles spun around her arms at varying speeds. Her inhuman crystal eyes shone with light, and she clenched her shark-like teeth. Throughout the chaos of the situation, Alice continued screaming. At first, Victor was worried that she was shrieking due to Hyveth’s spell, but within seconds it became apparent that wasn’t the case.

The world was shifting as if a line had been drawn through the middle. The top half tried to remain stationary, while the bottom continued moving with the planet’s rotation. But Alice was…fine—if screaming and evaporating in real time was considered fine.

Alice remained suspended in midair, unaffected by the laws of physics in either of the two planes of reality she occupied. It was as if she was not even part of this plane of existence, leading one to wonder if this world was merely two-dimensional to her and if she existed in a third dimension.

Victor had assumed her Void Form was simply void armor, similar to how she used Mana Shield in the past to shroud her body in a suit of darkness. But perhaps that wasn’t the case.

Alice had become the void, much like himself. Is she burning stat points per second as well? Is that why she’s screaming? Victor was unsure, but he needed to end this fight quickly.

Hyveth faltered slightly, leaning to the side as if winded. However, her arms remained raised with purple rings of runic formations spinning around. Some were the size of a bracelet—the ones further out took up a couple meters and spun faster.

Victor came up behind Hyveth. Despite all her power, she couldn’t see through his maxed-out Stealth skill. If even she can’t detect me, then can I hide from the gods themselves…assuming they exist? He loomed behind Hyveth Arcspace; the chaotic spatial mana surrounding her made space compress and expand randomly.

But Victor was unaffected—able to pass through the distorted space with ease. Well, this confirms that void creatures are unaffected by space. He raised his claw and thrust toward Hyveth’s head. As he touched her skin, his Stealth deactivated, and Hyveth instantly vanished—reappearing a few meters away while clutching her neck.

Blood seeped through her fingers, and she glared at Victor with wrathful eyes. Finally, the draconic spell canceled out. Victor felt the pain subside as the dungeon stopped consuming copious amounts of mana to resist breaking under Hyveth’s spell and began repairing itself. So I am not only the Demon Core, but the dungeon has become an extension of my body? That made Victor shudder. The idea of people running around inside his body and casting spells felt weird.

Hyveth brought her pale, blood-stained hand in front of her face and stared at it in disbelief. “You…you hurt me?” Her hand started shaking as if attempting to suppress an uncontrollable rage. “How? I have not received so much as a mere scratch in the last thousand years!” She gnashed her teeth. “I have gazed at the stars and know the nature of your kind. You are destroyers, bringers of destruction.” She hissed, “All I see beyond the veil of this world are dead, lifeless planets floating in the cold expanse of space orbiting harvested stars.”

Although Hyveth was tall in her human form, she still had to look up at Victor’s face, which loomed over everything. Victor’s eyes were swirling orbs of pure gold, and his many gold-tinted lethal claws hung lazily at his side. “I have not come to destroy.” His ancient voice, a chorus of a thousand souls, echoed through the land. “The world and its denizens force this role upon me. They pin the role of Demon Lord on my back and wonder why I fight back.”

“Lies. All you speak of are lies.” Hyveth straightened up, and the wound on her neck sealed. “I have faced your kind before—many, many times over the millennia. Every time the citizens of the world, dragons included, have had no option except to flee as your kind wreck destruction.”

Hyveth clenched her hand. “Do you know why I became this strong? Why I don’t sleep for centuries to extend my life like the other Ancients?” She stepped forward, and the world quivered. More runic rings sprung to life and began rotating around her arms. “I know what’s coming—there may not be a tomorrow or next year. The distant worlds are evidence of this inevitable truth. Some lasted a long time, but they all fell…eventually. I watched it with my own eyes, the slow death of the universe to the disease of your kind.”

Victor shook his head. “I know not of the distant worlds, but my creator had one goal: to incite hate upon me to gain a foothold on this world. The rifts will come soon, Hyveth. This world is already doomed, like the others you speak of…” He reached out a claw. “Unless you join me. Then we can face this threat together.”

“Do you take me for a fool?” Hyveth roared. “Gained a bit of sentience, and now you think you can trick ageless dragons such as myself? I will not fall for your nefarious schemes.”

“I only kill those that oppose my rule. Under me, the world will be safe—” The word’s died in Victor’s nonexistent throat as he realized how selfish and self-centered they were. No wonder Hyveth struggled to believe his words when he sounded like an unreasonable dictator. But despite their meaning, they were the truth. He had gone too deep down the rabbit hole and was now stuck with no way out.

Hyveth sneered at his words. “Everyone on this planet has been doing just fine for thousands of years. Are we perfect? No. Do we wage wars and kill each other? Sure. But at least the world is teeming with life, not a floating rock of nothingness like the lifeless worlds consumed by the void.”

She was right. Victor’s words were the equivalent of an alien race landing on Earth and demanding that all humans fall under their tyrannical rule. Unfortunately, Victor had become that alien. He knew of the consequences and threats that faced this planet and its people and believed he was the only one that could save it—even though he was the one that brought doom upon them in the first place.

But was a tyrannical rule the only way? It might be possible if the dragons weren’t so hardheaded, but was their relationship irreparable at this point? He had slaughtered and enslaved over a hundred dragons by now and had even wiped out an entire generation of dragon eggs.

Just how terrible had he been? He had just told Hyveth with a straight face that he came in peace and not for destruction…yet all he had done was destroy and kill without remorse. I even made them fight against their own kind by raising their children as undead. Hell, I even drove Genus to become a cannibal to survive as we delved into the dungeon’s depths.

“Do you even care for life?” Hyveth jeered. “Are there any emotions swirling around in that shadowy body of yours? Are you even alive?”

Victor paused. It was easy to put everything up to circumstance. He had picked an undead creature to be reincarnated as. Therefore he would have dulled emotions and a natural aversion to the living…but what was the definition of being alive? He may be undead, but if his stat points reached zero, he would cease to exist, just like a mortal human reaching the end of their lifespan. I am a living creature, am I not?

As Victor debated what to say, Alice’s screams reached a new high, and void spells suddenly appeared randomly around her in droves. Ice bolts that looked like black lines that tore through reality began firing out in random directions. Finally, hellfire exploded, and everything the purple flames touched was deleted from existence for miles around.

Hyveth was a blur as she teleported, avoiding the void bolts with inhuman precision and speed. On the other hand, Victor could stand there deathly still as the void bolts simply joined his own body. He stared at his clenched hand, how the light reflected off his lethal claws that had scratched an Ancient dragon mere moments ago.

Victor snapped out of it and flew toward Alice. With Hyveth on the run, he finally had space to tend to her. “Hey, Alice!” he shouted, but she ignored him and continued howling in pain. Not knowing what to do, he pulled up the party status screen.

[Name: Alice]

[Race: ???]

[Body: Darkness Mana Body]

[Level: 317]

[STR: 335, DEX: 347, CON: 354, INT: 678, WIS: 670]

(Dulled Emotions) (Void Form) (Insanity)

[Name: Victor(Main Body)]

[Race: World Core]

[Class: Demon Core]

[Skills…]

[Name: Victor(Avatar)]

[Race: Netherborne]

[Class: Demon Lord]

[Level: 905]

[Stat Points: 903+ Million]

(Lifeforce STABLE - 10451 Days)

[Name: Terry]

[ERROR: CONNECTION LOST]

Ignoring that the party screen treated his two bodies as separate party members, Victor looked at Alice’s debuffs. Void Form and Insanity were both listed, but he couldn’t see the lifeforce debuff he had suffered from. Her stats were also not decreasing…which was both good news and raised questions about why her void form was different from his own.

Victor debated using a spell to break her out of her stupor as mana reacted so aggressively to void creatures, but she seemed in enough pain already. Was it real pain, though? Or was her mind breaking due to the Insanity debuff?

He returned his attention to Hyveth. In the corner of his vision, he saw the black dragon still in the submissive position. Was that really what he wanted? Hyveth had led to many more profound thoughts on the meaning of life that he didn’t appreciate having to think about right now. The other world cores cared little for his morals, and without an army and the power to protect his Demon Core, his life and everyone associated with him would meet their demise. He simply did not have time to make a political relationship with the dragons.

“Hyveth Arcspace, I wish for peace, but that peace requires control. The Cursed Forest, the land we currently reside in, is now the enemy of the whole world. Only with my death will this end.”

Hyveth, as a creature outside of the System’s influence, would see no logic in his words. She stopped teleporting and glared at him. “So your death will save the world?”

Victor nodded. “It would seem so.”

Mana began pouring toward Hyveth as she looked at him with a wrathful expression. “Then so be it—you will die here today. I only have a few years left to live anyways.”

“Trying to kill me is rather brave, but I must point out I am already undead,” Victor said with a haunted laugh before vanishing and charging toward Hyveth, claws outstretched and ready to rip her head off.

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