Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
In countless legends surrounding Abyss and demons, the survivors would always fearfully describe those monsters as such: body of flames, toxic, hulking, and ferocious. And demons were certainly such beings.
Virtually all monsters from the Abyss possessed powers related to toxic and flames. Their flesh was sturdier than iron, and every species apart from imps and worms were more than two meters tall. Born with bizarre souls, they could unleash terrifying magics in the Abyss, and though they could still manipulate mana in the normal plane their abilities were largely suppressed.
While that may be the case, their power was so terrible that they were feared widely in the outside world.
The demonic races are so diverse that even abyssal worms, the basest species of the lot, had unusual mutations, much less other higher races. However, the most famous and most powerful demons were the Abyssal Balrogs.
As its name suggests, Abyssal Balrogs had bodies completely covered in wild flames, and beneath those fires burning at thousand degrees of heat, its true form was a black viscous substance similar to petroleum. It incessantly unleashed great fire energies and radiates an invisible and intangible venom that makes ordinary people age rapidly and drain their energies while all sorts of deformations would surface in their bodies. Historical records wrote that where the Balrogs passed, frogs would grow another leg and lizards would grow another headindeed, the poison was so terrible that it could even keep a part of the land barren that not a blade of grass would grow in dozens of years, causing alarm and fear in many.
The Abyssal Balrogs had no fixed form. Their true form was that black viscous body alone, and their initial appearance would probably not differ from Fire Slimes by much. However, it is immeasurably dangerous than the slime, for once the balrog awakened its intelligence it would consciously form its own bodythese terrible beings that stood at the top of the abyssal food chain would devour any metal and monsters and used those sturdy steel and bones to shape their form and construct a humanoid figure that belongs to it.
When humanoid Balrogs exist, draconic-form Balrogs naturally exist too. To them, form is changeable, and the bigger they are the more powerful they would be. It also meant that the rewards after killing them were greater too. After all, there were not many materials that could withstand the Balrog’s body of flames and poison while the matter and bones that their form were built from are preciously rarethey tend to be used as original materials to forge divine weaponry.
And the balrog that Joshua had just pulled out from the Abyss into the Mycroft Continent in one swoop was a five-meter tall human-shaped balrog.
Until now, the Balrog named Syndicate could not grasp what was happening. It had been wandering the boiling sea amidst the Broiling Infernothe Thirty-Seventh Level of the Abyss, finding prey and rare metals amidst the toxic soup long polluted by sulfur and heavy metals. But somehow, a hand that ignored the thousand degrees fires above its head grabbed its black body that could poison an Abyssal Skeleton Elephant King, and pulled it from the three-thousand-meter depth of the scorching sea with a power capable of dragging an island.
In that very moment, Syndicate had thought that it was conscripted by some Abyssal Lord or Demon Generalor caught by some otherworld deity or Void wanderer as a test subject.
Such things were not actually rare, and being conscripted by an Abyssal Lord was perfectly ordinary. Although the Abyss was endless, there were some planes which lords that were the Abyssal Will was fond of. They therefore had the power to control every demon in that plane, and once they had the thought every demon that was had not reach Legendary would be conscripted and warped to the lord’s army, with any demon that dared to protest against the Abyssal Lord’s will were long extinct. It was the same rationale for Demon Generalsalthough they were cherished by the Abyssal Will in reality, they still could rely on their power to suppress the Abyssal Lord of a plane.
But the Thirty-Seventh Level of the Abyss should be lord-less, the demon thought bewilderedly. It would not have come to that particular plane to wander otherwise. Furthermore, balrogs were strongly territorial and rarely appear in the Abyss owned by lords or generals because each had the ambition and talent to become king.
Then could it be an otherworld deity or some profound existence? Syndicate’s plain brain guessed. But when it looked at the being that stood before it, it realized with a start that, from some unknown point in time, the Thirty-Seventh Level of the Abyss had its master.
What kind of appearance was that? The balrog could easily tell that even if it appeared to be a mortal male human, its form was in reality being suppressed by layers of shackles to maintain its human appearance. Beneath that fragile shell was something much more terrifying, grand and nobleit was a condensed matter like a planet’s core that burned in heat a hundred times more searing than a typical Balrog. His lifeforce emission was so terrorizing that even Syndicate’s own radiating poisons was easily buried and suppressed.
Undoubtedly, it was a Monarch-class Archdemon. Unlike its own body that was just five meters, its body would be as large as a hill if it displayed its true form.
With its physicality alone being so terrifying, there was no need to go in detail about the wailing souls that encircled the Archdemon (?). The agonized antemortem screams of endless life and curses wrapped around the surface of its bodyspirits of despondency that far eclipsed that of Mind-Flayers and Fear Demons. Indeed, its domain of terror unceasingly declared its existence, compelling a desire to shudder in the simple-minded Balrog.
A Monarch-class Demon King of Despair, Syndicate thought. It had a slight desire to bow in utter admiration.
In fact, it did bow.
The five-meters tall infernal human-form had simply prostrated itself in a gesture of reverence and obedience. Though demons’ inborn chaotic intelligence allows it to relentlessly shake away its fear so that it would at least punch out at the being before itself before its death, it was but a thought.
“Great and terrifying king,” Syndicate could not help quivering even as it spoke in the Abyssal Tongue, now completely subdued by instinctual fear and rationality, “Dost thou hath some bidding as thou doth summoned me?”
The balrog used mana to imitate the tremor of sound waves, but the distortion from hot fires made it sound obscure akin to the noise of bubbling magma. Neither did the Abyssal Tongue had respectful terms like ‘thou’, but with its demeanor and actions, Joshua could largely understand what the demon meant.
Staring at the earnest flaming human figure that spread itself over the ground, he showed a satisfied smile.
“Not a bad attitude,” he said. “If you could keep it up I’ll spare your life after my questions.
The interrogation did not last long, but although the balrog did know much, it was unrelated to the things Joshua wanted to know. So, after sealing its power and dumping it in a corner, the warrior started to sort out his information.
He noticed that the Book of Eibon connects to different levels of the Abyss. For one, the Balrog before him was from the Thirty-Seventh Level of Abyss, whereas the others he had summoned and killed for fun were from the Sixth and Seventh respectively. Still, their dimensional coordinates were close and each contained the power of lava and toxic.
Joshua had made the summon this time due to his discovery of demonic traces in the North. If those two Legendary mages are missing because they went from the North to the Abyss, they would certainly had gone to the Abyss closest to the Mycroft Continent. It was the same matter for the Book of Eibonits summons were Abyssal demons that lived closed to this location. The warrior wanted to try his luck and see if he could catch a stronger demon that could sense dimensional ripples and interrogate it.
If the timing was right, then Barnil and William must have dropped deep into the Abyss.
A crude plan, but a rather effective one at that. The Balrog named Syndicate had assuredly felt the energy of dimensional ripples and the phenomena itself sometime before, but unfortunately it did not match the timeframe when the two Legendary mages vanished, and the Balrog itself could only detect ripples a dozen kilometers around it. Joshua believed that those were normal dimensional shifts in the Abyss, such as a dimensional crack that would vanish as soon as it appeared.
However, it turned out that Syndicate was the tyrant lord of a small region in the Thirty-Seventh Level, and did not know that little. Through its imp lackeys and the Ferryman Demons of the Nether River, the Balrog was aware of many news in other Abyssal regions and spilled everything to the warrior, such as the war between the Sixth and the Twenty-Third Level. Many Abyssal Lords and Abyssal armies were therefore now fighting and bleeding in the Twenty-Third Level, hence most of the infernal demons of the Sixth Level were enlisted away from that plane. That was why, fearing the call, Syndicate purposefully escaped to the Thirty-Seventh Level for refuge.
The Nether River permeated the entire Abyss and was the essential medium which demons used to teleport. The Ferryman Demons was just so that could inhabit the Nether River for a long time and feed upon demon corpses and souls while making a living by exchanging information of various abyssal planes. To a certain extent they were creatures similar to couriers, but if one was not capable enough these couriers that were shaped like large crocodiles would not mind opening their gaping mouths, bare their fangs and try the distinct taste of fresh, raw meat.
Apart from trivialities regarding the Broiling Inferno, Syndicate only had three news of valuethat the Sixth Level was invading another plane, that the Pentashade dragons had occupied one abyssal level and changed its name into the Sleeping Dragon Abyss and formally become an abyssal race, and that there were tremendous anomalies in the Seventh Level. The continent at the center of that world was experiencing earthquakes so intense that the demons could not stand it.
Although those were rather meaningless to Joshua’s current objective, it was news he never heard of in the pre-existence that perhaps only existed in the thick in-universe compendium.
But now everything was so close to the warriorthat Supreme class Abyssal Balrog had spoken with reverent and respectful air, telling him of monumental events that happened in what was once faraway, but currently not far off.
Joshua could not help falling into deep thought.
But before long, a streak of holy light flashed. Archbishop Artanis, who had hurried here all the way, arrived behind him.
They were at a suburban plain some distance away from Moldavia, and the old bishop could clearly see the warrior’s silhouette that was akin to a sun in energy vision. He did not greet Joshua when he arrived, however, but stared in shock at the Archdemon that was sealed in a corner, immobile and unable to speak as it lay prone on the ground.
“Joshua,” Artanis said, turning towards the warrior. “I just felt a ripple of demonic summon”
“It was me,” Joshua replied dryly as he broke away from his thoughts. Turning to look at the old clergy, he lifted the tome in his hand and brandished it. “I planned to find a demon and ask about the situation just now, which is why I caught one with this abyssal grimoire.”
Don’t you mean ‘summon’, why would you even use the wrong verb?
Artanis blinked. Nonetheless, he did not have the time to mind the warrior’s grammatical issues at the moment, and soon his quick wit picked up the topic he had been discussing with Joshua not too long ago.
“What, could it be that the two Legendary mages’ disappearance if related to demons?” he asked, frowning. “What class of demon could have spirited them away? Even Abyssal Lords wouldn’t do.”
“Think about it in another way, Artanis.” Joshua shrugged. “They might have crossed over themselves.”
Then, Joshua proceeded to explain the results of his investigation at the Great Ajax Mountains, describing how there were residual dimensional ripples around the demonic scent.
“I have already acquired three Abyss coordinates from the book of Eibon,” the warrior concluded. “I’ll look for Master Nostradamus tomorrow morning and let him determine which of those coordinates the residual dimensional leads to. If it checks out, it could be ascertained that the two Legendary mages went to the Abyss for an adventure under their own will and aren’t missing.”
“Not just that. Right, Joshua?”
The archbishop had agilely sensed something in the warrior’s tone. Having known Joshua for long, there was nothing too complicated about his mannerisms, which was how Artanis easily saw through his real thoughts. “If that’s confirmed, you would want to look for them in the Abyss by yourself!”
In the face of the old clergy’s firm tone, Joshua did not show any dissatisfaction of having been seen through.
“Of course,” he said leisurely with a smile. “Logically, I naturally have to go myself and confirm the two Legendary mages’ whereabouts and safety since they went missing on my domain.”
“Secondly, the Abyss is so big.” The warrior said and paused for a while before continuing. “I want to have a look.”
“It’s that simple.”
Then, as if it was a coincidence, the distant skies suddenly thundered. A huge figure weaved through the clouds.
Both Joshua and Artanis looked up simultaneously; they easily found out its identity through their senses.
It was the warrior’s captive, Supreme blue dragon Socrasson.