Chapter 132 - Fallen Demon (2)
The next morning arrived, and the party departed when the sun started to come out. Moreover, they were able to arrive at their destination when the sun was high up in the sky.
Yuren, who had been walking from the front, spoke.
"We are here."
All the party members had a queer expression on their faces.
There was a marsh made out of mud in front of their eyes. It was a bit too in-your-face to be a naturally formed marsh. It was as if corpses were gathered and turned into mulch in this location throughout the years. There was a dense noxious fume emanating from it.
Azell asked him a question.
"It's within this marsh?"
"According to the words of the guide, it's here."
"Hmm. How do we open the door?"
"The door is within there."
"...are you perhaps trying to say we have to dive into the marsh?"
"I believe so."
"Don't worry. I might have a way. The marsh isn't that deep, so I'll use my barrier as we head below...."
"It's all right. I'll do it.."
Azell let out a sigh as he stepped forward. Yuren asked him a question.
"What are you going to do?"
-Rise Dragon Weapon, Vitan's Chalice.
Instead of answering his question, Azell brought out the Vitan's Chalice. It was as if a lightning had planted itself in front of him. A transparent staff made out of glass was held within his hand. Dragon Demon magic poured out of of Azell.
"Path of Tears."
The surrounding space looked distorted as if one was looking through a drop of water. This distortion gathered in front of Azell, and it turned into a large pocket of air. It extended forward from him as it entered into the marsh.
"All right. Is it around 10 meters deep?"
After a brief amount of time, there was a path leading down into the marsh. The distortion of air had created a path within the marsh.
Azell spoke as he walked in.
"Everyone follow me."
"...what is this?"
Laura asked in surprise. She had been the original owner of the Vitan's Chalice, yet she hadn't known how to use it properly.
Azell answered her.
"The Dimensional distortion field can be focused into a limited space to create a shape one desires. Even if it was a volcano overflowing with magma, I could go in. The heat won't affect me."
In truth, these were feats performed by Aunsaurus in front of Azell during the Dragon Demon war. Azell had used the time on this journey to go over his memories, and he worked on replicating the feats performed by Aunsaurus using the Vitan's Chalice. The Path of Tears was one of the results of his efforts.
Yuren spoke as if he was dumbfounded.
"This is a complete cheat."
"The performance of the Dragon Weapon called the Vitan's Chalice can be described as a cheat. The Dimensional Distortion can be controlled by constructing an image in one's mind. This is why its usefulness can't be measured through common sense."
They followed the Path of Tears to arrive at the bottom of the marsh, and there found a stone gate. It was clearly a man-made stone door. As soon as the party arrived at the bottom, the door opened, and a very dark hallway was revealed.
When all the party members entered, the door closed. Yuren spoke.
"There are no traps here, so we can just head in."
"Mmm? Why is it so lax in security?"
The marsh was a troublesome barrier, but a high level magician would be able to break through it easily. Yuren spoke.
"I think the defense differs depending on who's the intruder. I think it won't be a problem since you are here."
"There aren't any signs that we are being probed by magic...."
"I concur. Since the guide said so, shouldn't we just assume it to be true?"
"...it isn't good to trust blindly. Just look around a little bit."
"I agree with that sentiment. Still, it feels as if we are doing unnecessary work.
Yuren grumbled, but he diligently searched for magic traps. It happened at that moment.
<...you are the customer I have been waiting for.>
A bleak voice rang out from down the hallway. It was a voice that sent a chill running up one's spine.
At the same time, the hallway brightened. There were magic lights placed along the hallway, and the desolate sight of the hallway was revealed. It had been neglected over the long years.
Azell mumbled to himself.
"Is it an Undead?"
"There is only one path."
"Your credibility is plummeting really fast...."
Azell was becoming wary when he felt a faint rumbling. Everyone flinched as they looked at their surrounding.
Azell assessed the situation.
"The hallway itself is moving."
As if to prove his words, a wall cut through the hallway. No, it was more accurate to say that the wall slid by. The wall moved at high speed as the hallway was revealed again. Then several wall started to move, and he thought he glimpsed the sight of several gears and other mechanisms... The configuration kept changing in front of them, and they finally arrived at a room.
The vibration ceased. A large and desolate room greeted them. There really was nothing here except for an Undead wearing a hood. It was sitting on a stone platform in the middle of the room. It was sitting in the lotus position. Its flesh had already rotted away, so only its skeleton remained. There was a ghostly fire burning within its eye sockets.
When he saw this, Azell felt a chill. There was soft magical energy emanating from it, and it had a familiar ominous stench to it.
It felt similar to the magical energy gained by Yuren when he had connected to a Demon.
"You are sealed here."
As the Undead spoke, it raised its hand into the air.
The hand reached a certain point, and......
A fierce spark erupted to repel the hand. The finger bones became charred as smoke emanated from it. Fragments of bone fell off.
However, this lasted only for a moment. It was as if time had run in reverse. The damaged hand was restored. The charred bone fragments turned white, and it started to attach themselves back to whence they came from.
THe Undead shrugged its shoulders as it spoke.
There was a black blood magic circle on the floor. It had complicated geometric shapes, and it was filled with magic characters. It created a powerful magical barrier that was confining the Undead.
"How would we know such an answer when you ask it totally out of the blue?"
"If we are using that as reference, it has been 223 years since the Dragon Demon war had ended."
"What do you mean?"
The Undead shuddered as it spoke. The party members, who listening to it, gulped.
It was a brief summary, but it sounded like a cruel punishment. Who was this Undead? Who did it piss off to be pushed into the pits of hell alive?
"What do you mean?"
At its words, the party members looked at each other. However, they didn't know the name. Kairen, who had lived a long time, didn't know it. Laura, who had lived inside the Plain of Darkness, also didn't know the name.
There was one exception. Azell looked at the Undead with a surprised expression on his face.
"Are you talking about the Demon King Balserk?"
"Of course, people don't know that name. After the Dragon Demon war, Dragon Demon king Atein's name overshadowed all the dark figures in history. They were deemed inconsequential compared to Atein. The name recognition of Balserk is probably lower than the lowest ranked general of the Dragon Demon army. You've been obsolete for a very long time."
<...after my body became like this, I thought I would never have the occasion to be wounded again. I was wrong.>
The Undead grumbled to itself.
Azell asked it a question.
"I'm just telling you the objective truth..... Does this mean you are Balserk?"
"You are the Demon King, who caused a million deaths in the Yudusk kingdom."
Yudusk was one of the seven kingdoms fighting for supremacy over the continent right now. The kingdom was located north, and it bordered the Plain of Darkness. Even during the Nadick empire, this kingdom had possessed the most land. This remained true even 220 years after the Dragon Demon war had ended. Their royal bloodline also remained unbroken, so they had the deepest history. This was also why their social structure was antiquated. There were only two amongst the seven kingdoms that still allowed slavery. Yudusk was one of the two.
"Moreover... You are the one that deepened our knowledge of the Demon race."
Azell thought about the story he heard from Carlos.
Before the Dragon Demon war, humans didn't know much about the Demon race. In truth, it wasn't as if people had a better understanding of them now. However, in the past, it was pretty much a blank slate.
At the time, Carlos insisted on making contact with the Demon race. He thought it was a solution to their hopeless situation. This was why he continued to scrap together more knowledge about the Demon race.
"The awareness of the Demon race can be divided into before and after the appearance of the Demon King Balserk."
"Why? Actually, I don't think I've even heard of the Demon King Balserk."
"The world is large. He was famous in the north. It is understandable that people, who aren't from that region, don't know about him."
"Everyone knows who Atein is."
"On top of that, everyone knows the four Dragon Demon Generals. This is why they are considered to be incredible. It isn't an exaggeration to call them the strongest beings in history."
Carlos snorted as he continued to speak.
"If you were from Yudusk, the name of Balserk would have struck fear in you. When one mentions the Demon King, everyone thinks about Atein first. However, the people of Yudusk would think about Balserk first."
The Demon race didn't exert their evil onto society before Balserk's appearance. Demons were seen as beings from legends, and the civilians didn't believe that they were real. The only ones that knew about them were Black Magicians, who voluntarily entered into the Swamp of Destruction to seek knowledge and power.
"Everyone that was called Demon King in history all possessed a real body. Most of them had an intimate relations with Black magic."
There were some that thought they would be able to acquire great power by approaching the Demon race. However, there hadn't been any cases where a Demon went out of its way to harm humans. None had tried to achieve notoriety until Balserk.
Balserk was an outlier.
"To the best of my knowledge, Demons do not have names."
Carlos had already met a lot of Demons. He called them up, and he walked the tightrope to gain power. This resulted in Carlos becoming a caliber of magician that even surprised the Dragon Demon Generals.
"However, a Demon that wanted to be called Balserk made its appearance. Creatures, who possessed great power in darkness, started to appear within the borders of Yudusk. A great calamity arrived in the region, and the name of Balserk gained notoriety......."
Balserk was like black curtain covering the region. All the people, who were called heroes at the time, were systematically killing the beings that were causing trouble. However, they couldn't locate Balserk.
"As time passed, someone figured out the truth. Balserk was a Demon, who didn't have a real body."
The process was very long and complex. The story of Balserk's rise and end is known more to the people of Yudusk compared to any other heroic tales. It would take him forever to explain everything, so Carlos gave a summarized version.
"In the end, Balserk was caught and he was deposed. The hub of the chaos was gone, but peace didn't return immediately... Afterwards, there was a period of 10 years where chaos reigned. A lot of blood flowed during this time."
"That summary is quite lackluster."
"You want to listen to the whole story?"
"Of course not. I'm past the age where my eyes would shine from hearing an old story."
"Then shut up and listen. There's a problem in this story. How did they depose Balserk?"
"Demons don't have bodies. This is why it is impossible to kill them."
"Is that so? However, aren't there cases where the Demon and a Black magician merges?"
"It has been done before, but it just amounts to the Black magician receiving a several dozen seconds of uncontrolled boost before the host goes crazy. Moreover, it doesn't mean the Demon is killed when the Black Magician is killed."
Black magicians usually didn't think about the aftermath of their actions, so there were cases where they made a deal with a Demon to merge with them. The benefit lasted only for couple seconds. At most, the Black magician would have this surprising power for several dozen seconds before being destroyed.
Unbeknownst to the two of them at the time, an exception would show up later. Yuren was surprisingly able to control the power he gained after connecting with a Demon.
"Basically, magicians need an address."
"There are countless number of Demons, and they all have no name. If one performed the Demon summoning ritual, a different Demon would show up each time. The summoner has to have a method to bring out a Demon, who has the specific knowledge that one needs...."
It was unknown as to how the Demon race had acquired their knowledge, but they weren't all knowing. Each Demon possessed different knowledge.
"First, you have to find a suitable Demon to deal with. Then you need a way to summon them, and a contract is formed. Then the methodology needed for the Demon to find the magician is established. The magician also needs a way that would allow them to call out a specific Demon. Black magicians puts a lot of value on the Demon Codex."
A trial and error was needed to summon the right Demon. This process was very dangerous, so the Demon Codex containing knowledge about different Demons were coveted by Black magicians.
"When the Black magician connected to the Demon is killed, the Demon cannot cut through the line to come to this world. The knowledge of summoning this specific Demon would fade from the world. That's it. Demons do not have a real body, so they cannot die."
"If that is so, I'm assuming Balserk had formed contracts with numerous beings. Since he is gone, are you saying all the people, who knows how to call out Balserk is dead?"
"Maybe. However, that explanation doesn't feel right. The situation surrounding Balserk was an oddity. Even if there were countless tales about heroes taking down the dark beings, the existence of Demons became known to the public. The reason why Demons were dangerous became known. That part is a bit strange."
"What about it?"
"The knowledge of magicians aren't usually shared with the masses like this. The truth about the Demon race was spread through the story of Demon King Balserk. This knowledge was something that was guarded zealously by the Black magicians. Even if a knowledge was revealed to the public, there are parts that should have been redacted."
Above all, an unprecedented number of people found out about the Demon race through this story. Basically...
"It means there would be more people, who would covet the power and knowledge. They would try to contact the Demon race."
This was why Balserk was the true Demon King. It purposefully spread the knowledge of the Demon race to entice more people down the path of destruction....