Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The Black Sea Plains was vast but desolated. It was once the bottom of the ocean where remains of endless creatures accumulated over billions of years, before it became the cracked and barren gray-black land as the sea dried. However, there were searing vapors which, mixed with subterranean sulfur, ejected out intermittently from the fissures over the withered land. It slowly rose from the depths, and mingled with the particles amidst the clouds into turbid acid and plummeted as rain.
That ever-present acid rain was capable of eroding steel and melting stone. But now, a black-colored armor was advancing under it in great clamor.
It was a demon army.
At the front of the demon troops that almost amounted to ten thousand, almost four-thousand Imps were acting as vanguard. Only half the height of a human, these demons of the lowest class with bodies filled in black scales were rather similar with mini stone gargoyles at a single glance, with razor-sharp talons, pointed horns and bat-like wings, although they were far weaker than those powerful alchemy creations. The imps pushed forward with no formation at all, creating annoying noises even as they walked. Acid raindrops flowed towards the ground after traversing their bodies with no hint of erosion—Imps that could not adapt to acid would have died as gestating worms in the first place.
Following behind them were wildly bellowing monsters that were a dozen times stronger than the imps. They had sturdy physiques that were at least two to three meters long, their muscles bloated while their veins writhed as if they would blow away the black shell over their entire body. This average species were known by ordinary folk as berserk demons, and possessed a pair of non-fully developed wings on their backs that had shapes reminiscent of tumors. The moment those wings spread was the moment they ascend and become actual gargoyles. They were also often the main characters that starred in demonic legends, and warlocks often choose to summon a berserk demon with strong talent as the first demon.
These endlessly strong middling demons that were adept at both long and close-range fights were precisely the main force of the black-colored army. There were also some sporadic and distorted magical creatures in the mix, such as insectoid demons with multiple razor-sharp limbs, acid demons that resembled mud monsters, beholders that were proficient at spellcasting as well as hulking warbeasts that were five stories tall.
That was about the depth of power that a demon lord had kept in store for years. Now, they swiftly advance, with any companies that went off the line forced to rally by the commanding gargoyle with a whip on his hand. After their inborn chaotic nature was subjugated by pure violence, the demon army displayed a shocking efficiency and covered over a hundred kilometers within hours as they hurried to a predetermined assembly point.
But soon, they stopped in their tracks. The supervising gargoyle was actually pausing too, instead of walloping its kin that was not advancing with its barbed iron whip.
Because the skies were burning.
When the insignia of hands bearing swords appeared in the sky, virtually all demons in the Black Sea Plains saw that blinding mark shaped from flames. Through the support of a power, the golden-red blaze lasted for a few seconds in its full form before slowly dispersing as widespread flames had crept towards the black acidic clouds in its surroundings. In that very second, more than half the sky turned into a sea of burning flames with lightning spreading visibly within.
Unlike the lower demons with no intelligence to speak of, every high-tier demon that saw the crest in the sky fell into doubt and astonishment. They clearly understood that the crest was quite possibly a move by that foreign balrog and dragon with enchanted bloodlines to display their power to all local demon factions. It was such an unbridled overweening attitude that was expected of balrogs and dragons.
While it must be said that it was rather cliché, it was definitely effective. As they watched the skies were dyed a bright red by the flames that only died after a long time, the wandering demons and magical creatures spread around the Black Sea Plains started to cry out unusually and did their best to distance themselves from the direction of the crest. All the imps amongst the troops were trying to flee, while the berserk demons were unsettled though. Though they were fierce and cruel they were not stupid—even the local demon lord had to exhaust all efforts against such a powerful balrog and dragon, much less cannon fodders such as them.
Even if the bottom-feeder demons would panic over the enemies’ power, to Rotfiend Kalo—the master of the army, the more powerful its adversaries the faster they should be wiped out. Earlier, it had even been worrying that the other lords in the Black Sea Plains might not move against the balrog, but things were different now. Against the foreign balrog that was close to Monarch tier, any demon lord would raise their alert and excitedly tear it apart together with other demons, sharing as they feast on the newcomer’s body and soul fragment.
Sitting on a special throne above a warbeast, the giant liquid-state demon that was in the center of the army shot out a few acidic tentacles like a jellyfish and ‘swallowed’ several berserker demons that hesitated form advancing as if they planned to flee. Soon, several giant air bubbles surfaced over Kalo’s body, blowing a dull and ferocious command across the entire army. In no time at all, the demonic legion that had stopped over the flame crest stepped out again and moved hurriedly towards where the crest appeared.
Apart from them, they were also three similarly numbered troops heading and encircling towards the same target from different angles.
And in the heart of their encirclement, the balrog and black dragon that had been sprinting all along stopped at the warrior’s order. The conical dust pillar also slowly descended behind them, their world-shaking presence slowly returning to silence.
“That’s about it.”
The warrior nodded slightly after having approximately estimated the time, and looked around at the vast and desolated plains. “As long as the demon lords around us are neither deaf or blind,” he said confidently, “they would indubitably come for us after putting up such a show.”
Every level of Abyss was a different world, with the demons from varying layers divided into diverse races and characteristics—there were cunning ones that schemed and lay traps, and messy, chaotic ones that had neither order or rational to speak of. Even the gods would probably be unable to list out every type of demon in the infinite Abyss, but Joshua was confident about the characteristics of the demons in the Sixth Level.
It was a movement model similar to a beehive.
The Sixth Level of the Abyss—the Lava Inferno was one of the primary forces that had invaded the Mycroft Continent in the pre-existence. Compared to other invading Abyss that virtually all advanced at once without any formation or tactics, the demons of the Sixth Level were rather conspicuous. Despite appearing likewise chaotic and having difficulties to control their instinctive urge to destroy, they could at least form platoons and plunder with collective units.
With Gold or Supreme-tier archdemons or demon lord acting as the king bee at the hub of control, the middling or advance demon commanders as the nerves that issued orders, the chaotic lower demons could therefore display strength far above their individual combat ability. Furthermore, they could even incubate insectoid demons that were experts on grooming lower demons or logistics troops, an orderly specialization that was quite simply an elite whole stood in the midst of wild lunatics.
On Abyssal that control would be even greater. Demon lords here would use their own beehive forts as a focal point to annex territory after territory and compete against each other. But when a strong foreigner arrived, the lords would temporarily join forces to wipe out that unknown external factor.
Joshua, unaware of the reason before, was now enlightened—most demons of the Sixth Level were the remnants of an insectoid civilization that existed seven thousand years ago. Beneath their distorted and malevolent appearance, their life essence resembled that of colony insects, and with the existence of an Abyssal Lord that acted as the lord of the beehive, it was why even these disorderly demons held a certain quantity of social and territorial concepts.
At the same time, the balrog that had run rampantly for almost a day and experienced exhaustion for the first time in its life limped towards the black dragon’s feet, its body’s flames about to extinguish.
“Your Majesty, dost thou wish to claim a domain?” iIt asked the warrior excitedly.
The balrog was not aware of the warrior’s idea, and had leisurely made the conclusion with its simple mental circuits. In the end, what other reason was there for a human to bring a balrog into the abyss and so prominently provoke the local demon lords, other than to carve out a piece of territory? And after using it, the balrog as a pretext to take some land, His Majesty could easily gather all sorts of information in the Sixth Abyss.
The balrog could not stop itself from nodding from its own rare display of intelligence even as it pondered. Additionally, it favored the environment of the Black Sea Plain. There were many active magma zones underneath its thin surface, and much toxic elements that it loved in the acid rain. If His Majesty wants to take this place as base, it would definitely agree.
Therefore, the balrog was disappointed to find Joshua shaking his head.
“Taking a domain?” he asked in return doubtfully as it looked down at the archdemon beneath the black dragon’s feet. “Syndicate, why would you make such a conclusion?”
Afterward, the warrior lifted his head and stared towards the distant edge of the land. “My goal is to wipe out all demonic factions here,” he said with a nonchalant and flat voice that somehow made the balrog shrivel. “And you, are just bait to get them to come.
“Alright, Syndicate. Look up and take a look—they’ve arrived.”
At those words, the archdemon turned, shuddering a little as it looked towards the distance. In the edge of the land, strands red radiance appeared in the balrog’s special heat vision. It was four different legions of innumerable demonic troops, with each legion having several giant incandescent specks of light. There was no need to think, those were undoubtedly the figures of Golden-pinnacle or Supreme-tier demon lords that had arrived in person.
In the Abyss, demons could devour each other to acquire power. A balrog’s toxic body would be a delicacy for rotfiends, while its study metallic skeleton would become fine materials for a carver’s body. Even its energy core and soul shard would exponentially raise the fundamentals of another archdemon, granting it talent that might allow it to ascend into Monarch tier.
To maintain the realm’s ability, the Abyssal Lord of the Sixth Level [Goliath, the Demon King of Gluttony] had forbidden the demon lords from large-scale civil strife, which was why a foreign demon was a rare delicacy in the eyes of those demon lords that had long thirsted and hungered.
So many?! Even His Majesty might not be able to defeat so many demonic troops in open battle!
As the flames over its body instantly dulled, Syndicate subconsciously took one step back. It was not as if the balrog had never battled against other archdemons, but the Sixth Abyss was different. In other Abysses, the other archdemons had basically fought one against one, never did they have tens of thousands of troops to bring up the rear. Staring at the talons, tentacles, sturdy shells and flesh that incessantly closed in, the balrog’s body began to instinctive desire flight before quickly falling into despair. Leaving aside the fact that it had just run madly for most of the day alongside a crazy black dragon and that its body’s energies were almost burnt out, there was a Legendary warrior standing above that black dragon’s head!
Run? Where could it run to? It was in a hopeless situation!
Meanwhile, the four different demon armies approached without stopping. With a cumbersome stride that caused the earth to shake, four demon lords led their soldiers to utterly encircle Joshua’s party. Tens of thousands of savage demons glared with their scarlet gazes and wildly bellowed in some indistinct language, never once pausing after seeing the balrog and black dragon before them. Without any sort of plan or partnership, they followed their lord’s cold commands and charged towards their target with might akin to avalanches and tidal waves!
“Your Majesty—Your Majesty!” Even the balrog known for its viciousness could not hold its panic in at the sight, and quickly hid beneath the body of the black dragon that was so bored it started drawing circles on the ground with its talons.
“I could never hold up against all those demons…” Syndicate uttered fearfully with the corrupted speech special to demons.
“Of course you can’t, what with the way you are now.”
The warrior, standing between the black dragon’s two horns, softly stamped his feet. Promptly understanding its master’s meaning, it stopped drawing circles and raised its head high above, blowing out a draconic roar that far outclassed thunder and trembled the atmosphere. At the same time, with a hand gesture from Joshua, the balrog that hid beneath the dragon floated into air involuntary towards Joshua as if losing all weight.
Staring at Syndicate, Joshua smiled slightly and raised his right hand, his five fingers slowly grasping. The scorching and toxic viscous black body of the balrog started to trembled intensely, and with the sounds similar to scraping and twisting metals, the five-meter tall behemoth started to rapidly compress and transform.
Not long afterward, the balrog’s entire body became a black greatsword with a plain appearance. Its blade squirmed as if liquid, with circles of golden-red fluorescence reverberating around it. A demon’s face that was contorted in anguish was marked at the rather broad flat side of the blade, with incessant cries of unbelievable agony wafting from its mouth.
Then, as the warrior reached out and held it, black-red flames began to engulf the entire sword. Wild but abundant energy thus surged within, immediately changing the black greatsword into a greatsword of scarlet flames that was akin to a balrog!
“But with this, you could defeat them.”
The rather demonic mutter wafted into the balrog’s ears as the demon suffered inestimable hurt. Then, as Joshua clenched forcefully on the hilt, an even more hopeless wail rang.
“Black,” Joshua said thus towards his mount, flames burning in his hand as he brandished the greatsword, the scarlet fluorescence raising a very obvious arc.
He grinned fearsomely. “Charge!”