74. A Dragon’s Trust
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Hyveth Arcspace didn’t seem amused by Victor’s joke—she glared at him and blinked in disbelief at how such a massive void creature that had loomed over her could instantly vanish. She had seen Stealth used many times in her long life, but even when invisible, the opponents would take up some space in reality. She didn’t see things in only three dimensions. Instead, her inhuman crystal eyes could also see the depression in a gravitational field, allowing her to see invisible targets.

But the void creature was gone as if it never existed—a blast of frozen mana assaulted her from behind alongside a gold-tinted claw. Hyveth stepped forward and space folded. She paused and looked back at the void creature over a thousand meters away. Its head turned to the side, and six golden eyes stared at her.

It was a bad matchup. The screaming void girl and this creature appeared unaffected by spatial magic as they existed on an alternate plane of reality she couldn’t affect with mana-based magic. Perhaps if she had dabbled in void magic, she could stand a chance, but her chances of victory were hopeless with the present situation.

Hyveth’s fingers twitched with impatience as she bit her lower lip, recalling her encounter with a similar void creature over a thousand years ago. She remembered that mana-based attacks were ineffective and blades passed harmlessly through its body—the only known weakness was its eyes. But how could she aim for the eyes when the creature vanished into thin air and only reappeared like a reaper aiming for her head?

But this one can talk, unlike all the ones previous, she thought as she saw the void creature vanish again. She spread her awareness and had her movement spell at the ready. It speaks of peace, but does it even understand such a concept? Even us dragons struggle to obtain peace in a world full of fighting, yet a creature from the void, destroyer of worlds, claims to know what true peace is and how to achieve it. She snorted. “Laughable and ignorant.” She suddenly felt a depression in reality behind her again, so she teleported away.

Hyveth could keep up the game of cat-and-mouse forever while she came up with a solution—her fighting power should be the highest alongside her escaping potential, but when against void creatures, she had to play to her only remaining strength.

In the past, the only way to survive these void creatures that were immune to any form of attack was to let them starve. Since it’s sentient, unlike the previous ones, maybe I can get more information from it?

Hyveth decided to humor the creature. “Say, void creature, do you have a name?” she asked the empty floor as she assumed the creature was charging toward her. Reality rippled in front of her, and the void creature appeared a few meters away, but its claws were lowered and showed no signs of hostility.

“I have a human name, but the people of this planet called me Vox.”

Hyveth raised a brow. “The people of this world?”

“Yes, I manage a town of a few thousand humans in the cursed forest.” The void creature tilted its head. “Unfortunately, the innocent people there have been labeled as subjects of the demon lord and now have a System bounty on their heads.”

Hyveth narrowed her eyes. “You run a town? They aren’t all undead, right?”

“Some are. I offered the people of my town immortality, but the vast majority are still perfectly alive.”

Hyveth was confused. The fact this void creature had sentience was already bizarre, but now it was talking about town management and granting people immortality? Was it raising a cult to do its bidding? She should go and investigate.

However, there was one other thing the void creature mentioned that didn’t make sense. “Did those humans of the town give you a human name?”

Vox shook his head. “Nope, I was once a human, so I kept my name from back then.”

“You were…” Hyveth had never been flabbergasted in her entire life, but everything coming out of this void creature’s mouth was pure nonsense. “…you were human? How?”

There was a brief pause. Vox floated there silently, six golden eyes staring at her, and he seemed deep in contemplation. “Hyveth Arcspace, you say you know what’s coming, the destruction of the world. I also know, but only as of today.” Vox’s words were cryptic and made Hyveth confused. “I am no destroyer of worlds—simply a pawn of a higher sentience known as Axon. A year ago, I was but a simple human on another world, one without magic.”

Vox pointed a claw at his shadowy body. “But now I am a human mind trapped in this body, and until today I was blinded by survival and didn’t realize I was assisting with the destruction of this world. And now I want to make things right. However, before that, I need to keep my land safe.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” Hyveth sneered. “Do you really think I will believe such a story?”

Vox shrugged—a strangely human gesture. “I can’t kill you, and you can’t kill me. Fighting doesn’t benefit either of us. As we speak, the cursed forest is being consumed and devoured. Everything within has been labeled as an enemy of the world. Through this fighting, the world weakens and leaves itself open to an invasion via the rifts of Axon—something I believe we both wish to avoid.”

Vox’s eyes flashed with intellect. “This grand dungeon is now an extension of myself…” The ground trembled, causing Hyveth to step back as a column of dirt rose from the ground along with Vox’s upward gesture.

Through Hyveth’s insight, she could tell that it wasn’t an external spell cast upon the dungeon such as Geokinesis, but rather the dungeon’s mana moving to make that possible. Something that wasn’t possible unless Vox’s words were true. He had become the dungeon.

“You speak of Axon and these rifts.” Hyveth crossed her arms with a teleportation spell primed and ready. “Explain more.”

“Axon is a super AI, something you won’t understand. But imagine a super-intelligent self-sustaining entity out there in space that requires a lot of mana to stay alive. Only other planets, such as this one, can provide that mana.” Vox paused for a moment. “For the rifts, I can only speculate, but I assume they will be portals allowing monsters from those dead worlds to come onto this world.” Vox pointed to the sky. “The world is currently protected by its abundant mana, but as its mana is consumed for spells and fighting, the protection gets weaker. Once the first rifts appear, it will only be a downward spiral as more mana is consumed to defeat them, leading to more rifts opening.”

“Until the world is a lifeless rock in space?” Hyveth asked, and Vox nodded at her words. “I see. That makes more sense now.” She rubbed her chin in thought. Vox did speak some sense, but many of his words needed verifying. She decided to visit his town. But she had a burning question to ask first.

“What is your plan for the dragons?”

Vox’s golden eyes glowed, and he loomed over Hyveth. “Those who obey my rule may live here in the Grand Dungeon and Cursed Forest forever. They can even access the lower dungeon floors, where the mana is dense with every biome imaginable.”

Hyveth frowned as she thought about the current rulers of this land, the Arcwings. They would never bend knee nor claw to another ruler. “And what of those that disobey?”

“They can serve me in death or flee to other lands,” Vox said without emotion.

“I see.” Hyveth nodded. “May I check on this town you have been managing?”

Vox shrugged again. “Sure, if it will help verify my words. It lies to the far south. I welcome all under my rule, but my rule will be absolute.”

Hyveth snorted. “Although I agree you are rather powerful, the dragons are no pushovers. I am one of eight Ancients. We may be unable to kill you, but remember the strong are only as strong as their weakest link.”

And with those worlds, Hyveth vanished.

***

Only strong as my weakest link, such as Necron and the people around me? I never really thought about that. Victor floated there for a while in contemplation, ignoring Alice’s screams and her destruction of the surroundings with void spells. He was surprised he had managed to convince Hyveth of his motives. Of course, he knew holding anything back from her would be detrimental, so he may have said more than he should have…

But Hyveth Arcspace would be an invaluable ally. Not only was she one of the eight Ancients, but she could send Terry back to Earth. If I gave her the mana of a World Core, could she create a portal to Earth?

Obviously, if he managed to kill Hyveth and turn her into an undead, he could force her to try, but that was impossible. She was far too good at running away.

Victor decided to reevaluate his plans. He had foolishly thought of the dragons as pushovers after slaughtering so many…but while he was killing the dragons, who was to say an Ancient wouldn’t eliminate Necron? Or kill Alice?

Although Victor had ensured, Alice got as much exp as possible, and with her void magic, she was stronger than almost everyone in this world. But with Ancient dragons and Hackers still running around, her life was at risk.

Victor sighed as he felt the weight of being an anti-hero bearing down on him. Being constantly hated by those he was trying to save was tough, but he needed to persevere. Then, suddenly, he heard Alice’s screams stop.

Victor turned and saw the void surrounding Alice had vanished, and she fell roughly to the ground. Her face was pale and haunted, her eyes dull, and her breaths shallow. But she seemed alive, and Victor could see mana pouring toward her. A minute went by, and her complexion began to rapidly improve.

“She should be fine,” he murmured to himself with a sigh of relief. “Now, what should I do?”

***

Hyveth Arcspace stepped out from a portal and looked around. She rarely came to the lowlands as the mana was so sparse compared to the area closest to the Grand Dungeon that it was almost sickening. She couldn’t remain for long, or her strength would start degrading, but it should be fine for a few minutes.

Sprawling out for many miles below was a town she had never seen before. “There really is a town here.” She was very surprised. She had come here a couple years ago while taking one of her many grandchildren on an expedition to capture some prey, and there had been nothing but a monster-infested forest as far as the eye could see.

But now, there was a town bustling with activity, and two roads stretched out into the distance—however, they were empty. They showed signs of heavy use, but Hyveth couldn’t see a single carriage those humans used in sight.

Hyveth scrutinized the town. She could feel some death affinity mana in the area, but it wasn’t as strong as she expected. Looking to the west, she could detect a large amount of death affinity mana. Stepping through space, she hovered above an open-air mine with undead goblins hard at work. “So Vox can micromanage so many undead from so far away?” Hyveth found it unbelievable.

“This is more interesting than I expected.” She returned to the town and located the largest and most impressive building—a palace of white stone. Which also happened to be the location of the most death affinity mana in the area.

With another step, she appeared inside a throne room. The darkness didn’t impede her, but she still raised a brow at the hideous sight of a titanic slime monster happily feasting on a human leg.

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