The Yaksha who were looking at Laila’s smile froze for a moment. Even the density of the outward mana that could be sensed had changed abruptly. The air which was being blown by the wind oppressively stuck to their bodies, drawing close as if it were a swamp.
‘When she has the Black Sun in her hand, Laila Diablo’s true form appears.’
I knew. More clearly than anybody.
Over a hundred heroes had died — at Laila Diablo’s hands.
The title hero was normally used to refer to people who had an overall stat of between 400 to 450 or above, or else possessed a very special power. By herself, she who wasn’t a demon lord could absolutely not handle such opponents. However…
The Black Sun. And the tell-tale silver mask which identified her as the one and only ‘Queen of Thorns’. She who possessed these two things could fight without tiring, because if there is an enemy, she can ‘steal’ the opponent’s mana by simply clashing swords.
There was only one way to face her.
It was to destroy her entirely in one go — a single instant — by using mana which exceeded hers. If that isn’t done, then even that mana would be absorbed and she would brandish her sword with abandon; such is the being called Laila Diablo.
I looked at Black Sun more closely, and then Mind’s Eye opened, revealing more details regarding the sword.
A demon sword which eats away the mind of its owner.
Currently recognizes ‘Laila Diablo’ as its owner.
Siphons the mana of all it strikes and transfers it into its owner’s strength.
‘Black Sun(Lv10)’ can be used when mana reaches the limit.
The more it is used, the crazier one becomes for blood and slaughter.
Its value was unknown. I didn’t know whether it was because its ability differed depending on its owner, or if it was because the demon sword itself possessed such prestige that even ‘Mind’s Eye’ couldn’t see through it, but just looking at its explanation was enough to tell what a ridiculous weapon it was.
The reason why one had to kill her as fast as possible when facing her.
Because as if absorbing mana wasn’t enough, ‘Black Sun’ would be used when the mana limit is reached. It was a gob-smacking, horrifying Lv10 transcendent magic,which would even make demon lords wary.
‘Everyone would have died if not for Syria’s sacrifice.’
I recalled that time.
When the sun became dyed in black, when that all-encompassing magic unfolded…if Syria hadn’t given herself as an offering to activate ‘Sacrifice’, the majority of the heroes would have been massacred. It was thanks to Syria that we were barely let off with about 50 deaths.
Although Laila Diablo was pushed to the brink of death from the recoil of the magic, Black Sun was that much powerful. One could dare to speculate that might surpass S-rank when it comes to attack magic.
As she headed toward the outside of the castle, the Yaksha organized themselves outside the castle as well.
“The enemy is one. We use the 18 Arhat Battle Formation, split into two sides and take her on.”
Hwarang Gu showed extreme seriousness. He had realized on an instinctive level that she wasn’t an opponent he could go easy on. Instead, because he had acknowledged her as a ‘powerful individual’ above himself, he was going to fight using the most powerful formation tactic.
As a rule of thumb, Yaksha didn’t call those weaker than them as an ‘enemy’. But Hwarang Gu recognized Laila as an enemy, and going beyond that, he was seeing her as someone to overcome. I could feel an intense combative spirit from his eyes.
The 18 Arhat Battle formation was a strong formation which comprised of 18 people each in charge of their own defense. He intended to split that into two, and pressure Laila from both sides.
As they formed the 18 Arhat Battle Formation, it felt as if a high mountain had come into being. I did witness the Yaksha banding together like that at the time when facing the great preta, but it was definitely effective.
‘So they share the flow of mana.’
More than anything, it seemed that the 18 Yaksha participating in the formation shared the mana they each had. It became faster, harder, and stronger. Enemies encountering that formation would fall into confusion as to where to begin attacking.
I had also seen that formation tactic in the library. With a minimum of 18 participants up to a maximum of 500, it was a method which enabled facing a more powerful enemy.
Its weak point was the person who formed the center of the formation; it was either kill that person, or crush the entire formation.
Laila, however, snorted.
The moment she lifted her foot…the black waves of heat radiating from her entirety became like a brandishing whip, striking the ground.
The earth shook, and countless huge thorns sprang out of the ground at that moment. Regardless of any formation, Laila was capable of destroying formations themselves.
A natural enemy. She was the Queen of Terror who toyed with those banded together to face her.
The 18 Arhat Battle Formation collapsed in an instant.
Hwarang Gu shouted
“Do not disperse! Quickly regroup!”
But Laila wasn’t one to lose that moment.
Every time Laila swung her sword, a Yaksha was blown away. Even if they did barely block it, the difference in basic ability was too big in the first place.
Moreover, the black wave of heat radiating from Laila’s entire body was growing stronger every time they clashed. She was absorbing mana.
Hwarang Gu was aware of that as well. He knew that Laila Diablo wasn’t someone who couldn’t be dealt with numbers. He had realized that it was a mistake, believing numbers to be enough in facing her!
“You monster of a…!”
Would fighting the Twelve Heavenly Generals be like this I wonder. Would I feel such a difference in ‘level’?
Hwarang Gu hardened his expression as his azure flames burned more strongly. He then raised his sword. A blue vital power suffused the sword. It wasn’t as clear as sword force, but it was at the level where it could be called sword energy, the stage right below sword force.
It was a technique exclusive to swordsmen of a high level, and it added a cutting force which could easily cut through iron swords.
Hwarang Gu began acting in earnest, because he had realized he was the only one capable of stopping her, and that the other Yaksha banding together would only make it disadvantageous instead.
But with every clash of the sword, the sword force shook ever more precariously. Even the materialized energy was being absorbed by that black sword.
Boom! Boom! Bang!
With every downward strike of the sword, Hwarang Gu’s feet dug further into the ground. His muscles ruptured with every clash.
That wasn’t all. Laila’s eyes had become dyed in crimson.
Even Hwarang Gu shivered when he met those eyes.
It was like coming face-to-face with an evil spirit gone mad for slaughter at the sight of blood. Even he, a great warrior, was frightened by Laila’s gaze. This was something that couldn’t be, that shouldn’t be. Hwarang Gu grit his teeth.
Hwarang Gu bellowed, and then his sword blazed with flames. Azure Nine Phoenix Flames. This warrior skill at the 9th level could burn all things.
The azure flames moved and engulfed Laila. By no means were the azure flames a type of flame that was easily put out. However…
An even colder kind of energy began to whirl around Laila’s surrounding. As the azure flames finally died out, a chill settled in. It was one of the skills he possessed, ‘Unfeeling’. A skill that erased all emotions, and at the same time ‘nullified’ the things touching her.
The crimson eyes resembling an evil spirit were gone, but instead her eyes were now extremely cold.
Hwarang Gu swallowed a glob of saliva. And then…
He threw away his sword.
Following which he raised both hands.
“I…we have lost.”
A decided outcome. Realizing the situation couldn’t be overturned regardless of any struggle, he had given up.
At Hwarang Gu’s declaration of surrender, all the Yaksha abandoned their weapons.
It was then that Hwarang Gu’s right arm went flying.
Laila didn’t stop. Her eyes were cold like the pits of the abyss. She brandished her sword solely for the sake of killing the opponent, feeling not a whit of emotion.
“Kuhuk! Wait, am I not saying that I lost!?”
There wasn’t even time for him to pick up the severed arm. Before I knew it, Laila’s entire body was covered in a shimmering black haze. So black that her body couldn’t even be seen.
Hwarang Gu hastily dodged. The other Yaksha were the same.
Laila’s sword scraped by Hwarang Gu’s neck just barely. It was completely different from before. She was swinging her sword purely to kill.
‘Has there been an overlapping side effect from the demon sword and Unfeeling?’
Even I hadn’t expected to be fronted with such a phenomenon.
I raised my hands and prepared to stop her. I would stop her movements with Stygian Touch, and if even that proves not enough then I may have to resort to an all-out confrontation.
I called her name using a strong voice.
Laila’s movements stopped. She then turned her head, and stared at me.
It was effective. I once again opened my mouth,
“Stop. Your current appearance does not suit you.”
Though I had spoken in a strong voice, was I mistaken to think it had an effect?
Finally, Laila’s sword was pointed toward me. Rather than it being Laila’s will, it was as if the sword itself was moving on its own.
But at the same time, a crack appeared on Laila’s expression which was completely empty before. Eyes narrowed and body trembling, she began trying to take back the sword pointed towards me.
As she did so, the black haze eroding Laila’s body began to disperse bit by bit.
A moment later, when her eyes and expression returned to normal, she dropped Black Sun onto the ground.
An expression which said she didn’t know what to do. Her confusion was plain to see.
Her body then began trembling all over, following which she dropped to her knees, gripping her head with both hands.
“So-, sorr-…I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
She was like a child that had done a great wrong. Even in the past I had never seen Laila Diablo like this. She was nicknamed the ‘Queen of Terror’, and such was her unwavering strength that extreme organizations like Aletheia had even idolized her.
But her appearance now was far from the image of that nickname.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
She endlessly repeated saying ‘I’m sorry’.
‘So it was unstable.’
Only then did I realize. The demon sword had been too powerful. Although it couldn’t completely invade her mind, it was capable of making her momentarily lose her rationality if she continued to use it.
‘She got too excited.’
Laila Diablo. Come to think of it, this was the first time seeing her display her powers ever since I woke up. From Laila’s viewpoint it must have been 100 years.
Perhaps it was because she had wanted to show off how much she had grown during that time, becoming overly excited, that this situation had come to be.
What to do…
I heavily rose from my seat.
To be honest, to be really honest, I still couldn’t forgive Laila Diablo. No way could I forgive her.
Laila Diablo was the one who killed Syria and my good friends. Even though it had now become something that didn’t happen…it was an unforgettable memory.
She was included among the reasons as to why I had avoided using ‘Transfer’. Because every time I saw that devoted look of hers, I would feel resentment along with an inexplicable strange feeling twist my insides.
Standing up, I approached her. Then…slowly spreading my hands, I embraced Laila Diablo.
Slowly patting that small back of hers, I spoke.
“Do not be sorry. You have done no wrong.”
Did she…do no wrong?
Truly, I wonder.
Was I to treat the past as water under the bridge, because it was already past, something that didn’t happen, I wonder.
She had merely been desperate to protect Uriel Diablo, after all. They had only done their best in order to protect each other.
Laila Diablo, who was curled up and crying like a small animal. What’s more, I was the only one who could care for her, unstable as she was. Looking at her, my head was a mess.
A big, big mess…
A rather expensive potion was brought over and poured on Hwarang Gu’s right arm. The severed arm began to reconnect to the wound, slowly stitch together.
“Please tell me. What you meant when you said that the life and death of all in Rakshasa Citadale depends on your will.”
His eyes narrowed at the sudden onset of pain, Hwarang Gu asked.
I once again sat on the throne, and contemplated how much I should let on before opening my mouth.
‘The ‘darkmen’ that had attacked you. They are invaders who invade all worlds. The Yaksha, Rakshasa, and Daerasun, no matter how strong they are they won’t be able to stop all of the endless number of darkmen.”
“Darkmen? Then you mean to say you can stop them?”
I placed my hand on the armrest.
“There are 71 more beings like myself. I will be able to become the ‘Great Star’ if I were to rise victorious in the war against them. I should gain the authority to move the darkmen as I wish.”
“So you cannot be certain of it.”
“I have not become the ‘Great Star’ before, after all.”
Hwarang Gu made a serious expression as I shrugged my shoulders.
“Where is the guarantee that you would keep your promise, presuming yourself to have become the last one standing?”
Igneel tottered as he walked over to stand by my side.
“Was there any lies in my words?”
Igneel shook his head. It is said that dragons can tell between truth and lies.
“Are you trying to make me laugh by doing that?”
“Pity. I was rather sincere.”
I was exhausted. Laila Diablo…was it because I saw such a side of her, I wonder. When Laila had returned to her senses, she said she had shown an unseemly sight and went back inside the castle with her head bowed, but that appearance of hers was still replaying itself in my mind.
I spoke wearily.
“World destruction is not my objective. For what would I invade another’s land when the abyss itself is plenty wide as it is?”
“I wish for peace.”
I meant it. I valued peace more than anything.
Hwarang Gu chuckled.
“Seeing as it’s too bland for a joke, it does not seem like a complete lie.”
Hwarang Gu looked around himself.
The Yaksha together with him. He also knew that their lives were at the mercy of ‘my decision’.
I spoke finally.
“I know that you all do not cling to your lives. But if you are going to throw it away, would it not be better to use it more meaningfully instead?”
Dying like this would be merely dying a dog’s death.
Then Hwarang Gu heaved a sigh.
“You are most likely a more powerful being than the Twelve Heavenly Generals. Perhaps comparable to Daerasun…I trust that such a person would not easily speak lies. So, promise me one thing.”
“I shall protect Rakshasa Citadale and your sister.”
I declared that I would protect his sister, Hwarin Gu, as well.
I knew, in my experience at Rakshasa Citadale, that Hwarang Gu dearly cherished Hwarin Gu.
“…Truly a strange person. Do you possess an ability to see without seeing?”
“Close. Right now in Rakshasa Citadale they are holding a festival in your and the other Yaksha’s disappearance.”
As I spoke what I had really seen, Hwarang Gu appeared doubtful.
“Then my sister. How is that child doing?”
“She is hurling kicks at your portrait, asking how you could have died to the mere likes of great preta.”
“Damn it. I can’t not believe.”
Hwarang Gu kneeled at once. As he kneeled, the other Yaksha kneeled as well.
“I shall follow you.”
“I shall follow you!”
My lips formed a calm smile. I had gained the trust of the Yaksha, albeit not completely. Their martial prowess, knowledge and the like would all be of help.
At the same time, I didn’t know that I would come to have a much clearer understanding regarding Rakshasa Citadale and the Rakshasa realm. These kinds of information would be useful in their own way after all.
Having raised his head a moment later, Hwarang Gu spoke.
“Then, please tell us what we should do.”
He exuded a fighting spirit as if to fight with everything at disposal, now that he had made up his mind.
Truly. That willpower was to my liking.
I spoke lightly.
“Catch some slimes for me.”