Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
There was a myth that transcends the endless worlds in the Multiverse.
In the distant past, a time much further than the history of civilization, there was no difference between the skies and the earth. Neither was there death nor life, light nor darkness—cold and warmth intertwined, Order and Chaos fused. Indeed, there was not even a clear boundary between existence and nothingness.
Thus, fire was born from nothingness, its light illuminating the Void and separating all things and concepts so that, for the first time, life and death, darkness and light were sundered. The world had its first life that bathed in dazzling fiery light, and naturally had its first deceased too that sunk into the waters of a dark river.
If the blazing sun hanging on high was the source of life while the Nether River that permeates the endless Abyss was the representation of death, the dark stream that had no ripple insinuated the departure and fading of things and was the boundary between life and death. Drinking from the river was to abandon the world of colors and choosing to fall into the eternal slumber.
That was certainly an exaggeration. While normal individuals would die instantly when they touch the Nether River, adepts could slightly resist the extreme negative energies of its water. In fact, undead spirit or demons could endure its power temporarily, and used that river which permeates all of the Abyss to head to other abyssal levels. It was because of the Nether River’s existence that the Abyss was one single body, and not countless sporadic husk of worlds.
All rivers had its Source, and according to its own myth, the Nether River also possessed its origin. Legend dictates that its Source was the first world that had died naturally, while on its End, the utmost divine being named ‘Death’ was being nurtured. He would be born when the Multiverse dies, and the very myth had entranced numberless people and demons, drawing them in as they attempted to seek the Source by following the river’s flow. They explored innumerable levels and designated each world, and was how the Abyssal levels came to be.
However, no one ever succeeded in ten million years.
The Sixth Abyss, the endless Nether River in the Lava Inferno.
The Nether River was situated in the central region of the Sixth Abyss in the thick of boundless black volcanic plains. The river appeared to dissect the black plains from top to bottom in a straight line on the maps of demon lords, its orderly shape considered a wonder in itself. However, this was not its most eye-catching moment—instead, it was instant when the Abyssal Lord that was out on an expedition returned with its armies, turning the plains into a boiling sea of lava with endless souls as its fuel. That was when the Nether River most majestic moment, as it would not shift one bit despite standing in the middle of endless magma.
And now, a huge army was amassing to the right of the Nether River.
Dull bloody light reflected off the sharp blade, tearing apart the darkness of the Sixth Abyss. On the flat sandy land over the plains beside the river, sporadic yet heavy footsteps kicked up winds of sulfur and pungent sanguine, that sent surging waves of dust. The Nether River flowed in silence even as tens of thousands of demons and magical creature troops assembled across all directions. Unlike their unorganized kin that were found in fringe regions, even the cannon fodder imps wore leather armor recycled from the shells of their own kind. As for the berserk demons, their sturdy mail forged from black iron absorbed all light and. Under the instruction of gargoyle commanders, they assumed positions and formed one organized legion after another as they all assembled under a black flag.
Demons have neither loyalty nor organization and only knew slaughter and destruction. They were the creatures in this world that was the most unlikely to work together, and was also the species that would never build armies. These living things that grew by devouring each other would fundamentally self-destruct. There were scholars that once claimed that with the speed in which demons slaughtered and vanquished each other, six hundred years was all that was needed for all life to be extinguished from the Abyss, with the remnants becoming precious rare species. As incarnation of Chaos, they would never gather beneath a single beneath even if they were purified into ash from the Holy Light.
The scholar was certainly right and demons were such creatures. However, he failed to mention a prerequisite.
And that was for the absence of a Demon General or Abyssal Lord to lead them.
Black flags of the [Golden Thousand-Eyes] that were raised in the very front of the demon army flapped loudly against the pungent wind. The meaning of its existence was just one—to represent the might of [Helm of the Thousand-Eyes], one of the Four Grand Demon Lords in the Lava Inferno, also known as the Sixth Abyss.
There were imp sapper units, the heavy armored berserk army troops and the beholder phalanx, each terrifying legion that could only be trained under the influence of Demon Generals were lining up, covering the broad plains to the right side of the Nether River in blackness. As each demon breathed heavily, low air-pressure unfurled at the surrounding air and spread the imposing scents to the distance, as if the already cumbersome air of decay was about to be drained dry.
Looking down from the [Dark Blood City]—the demon fortress nearest to the Nether River, there were tens of thousands of demon troops surging as if a black ocean, with quite a few ‘rivers’ coming from some distance away to consolidate and continue to strengthen it. As the archdemon Guwaganda, the insectoid proxy commander for the day oversaw it all, it could not help being dazzled.
It has been too long.
How long has it been since the demons of the Sixth Abyss gathered together so solemnly—and not to invade, but to defend?
Three hundred years? Four hundred years or perhaps Five hundred? Since the First Abyssal Lord and the Four Grand Demon Lords was born in the Sixth Abyss, the Lava Inferno had never been challenged—even Monarchs from other worlds would behave prudently in their domain, fearing and shrinking attracting their attention. It should also be noted that the relationship between their Sovereign and the four Monarchs was different from the relationship of other Generals in different Abysses. While they were not peaceful, they would never fight internally since they were much more willing to invade other worlds compared to tearing each other apart.
When they combine, any world would tremble, all life would fear so much they forget to breathe while even plants would wither from terror.
But now, the Sixth Abyss was at its weakest moment in its history.
The Sovereign and all four Monarchs had already left the Lava Inferno, either heading for a new world with Order to plunder souls and lives or to another Abyssal Realm to wage infinitely savage Blood War against other endless ranks of demons. It was not a rare situation since Abyssal demons believed that as long as any ambushes from their surrounding Abyssal Levels could be handled, they did not have to worry about being attacked from their rear. Since they also had many demon lords staying behind to keep watch, their bases were not too empty.
What was more, no person from a world of Order would inexplicably enter the Abyss for rampant decimation. To them, there was zero benefit in killing demons, and yet they did, incensing the many Monarch’s in return. None would do that other than lunatics, and lunatics would never ascend as Monarchs.
That was why, Guwaganda, the insectoid-demon commander thought, the being that had wiped out every demon lord around the Black Sea Plains and the Gray Salt Mountains was undoubtedly a Monarch from another Abyss. It was a probe from that unknown Level, and it was the same whether it was the being’s methods or the description by surviving lords.
And now, he’s coming.
A wave of rowdy cries of surprise echoed from the right banks of the Nether River. The formations that were at first well-organized trembled all at once, and Guwaganda could feel it too—an unusual disquiet in its heart, the burning anxiety that kept circling its long ribs. The insectoid-demon commander knew that ‘that person’ was coming.
‘That person’ was the alternative name for the unnamed Demon General since none knew about that person’s titles. There were some demons that discreetly called it [Devastator] because no magical creature survived where he passed—even remotely monitoring it through a communications circle would get one’s eyes incinerated and dealt severe injuries by their incredible power. That title, however, never spread as Guwaganda intended, for it did not want its subordinates to adulate the enemy as some Demon King creature.
Its endless mandibles opened and drew in a huge amount of air as the insectoid-demon leader tried to calm its anxiety. It turned its four compound eyes and stared at the Nether River plains where the winds kicked up by the army’s movement was visibly dying down. However, not far off, another cyclone that wrapped around a long pillar of sand and dust was darting towards them.
A balrog, a black dragon… and a Demon General.
The sharp cry that belonged to insects reverberated throughout the plains. At the same time, the insectoid-demon leader’s incredible spiritual energy engulfed the entire battlefield and began issuing different orders to each legion, and the final goal of each command was very clear—to use tactics, numbers, their own flesh and lives and try their best to kill, or at least delay the enemy before them!
For General Helm that is hurrying to return from an otherworld!
He must never be allowed across this line, nor let him lay waste to the [Dark Blood City] fortress! Guwaganda thought. He must never be allowed to threaten the [Tear Valley Fortress], the Sovereign’s residence in the heart of the Lava Inferno!
Standing on top of the fortress, the insectoid-demon issued his second command.
At Guwaganda’s command, the black Thousand-Eyes banner promptly unleashed a powerful might. It was precisely the scent which General Helm left on the flag, now directing a terrific army consisted of extraordinary parties that could slay dragons to move. Little vanguard imps bellowed shrilly, raising their spears and swords despite their fear of the presence emanating from the other side, for they fear the scent that was wafting from the flags behind them. They reached the other end of the Nether River—where the black dragon must pass, and prepared countermeasures against a charge.
Behind them, the berserk demon army that height did not lose out to half-breed giants formed a second line of meat shields with their weighted and sturdy armor. Their black armor clustered together into a single layer, resembling a great steel wall when seen from above.
Thousands upon thousands of beholders and another group of berserk demon stood behind those two meat shields, preparing spells and bow. Indeed, berserk demon archers that had egregious, inhuman strength could unleash destructive power that surpasses human imagination. The Abyssal black steel arrows could penetrate stone city walls several meters thick—Gold or even Supreme-advanced demons would be maimed if struck directly.
They were the top elite platoon under a Demon General, having destroyed dozens of worlds and surviving one Blood War after another. Furthermore, their opponent was merely a single Monarch demon—it was nothing they have not faced before, and even if they could not overcome him, they could still hold them back.
That was why, at this very moment, all of them mustered themselves, awaiting the instant when the enemy arrived to unleash their fury.
But it was also that very second when all demons were still preparing to face the onslaught that the incomparably huge dragon drew in a very deep breath. It lifted its chest, the golden core crystallization before its chest flashing in a blinding light that even demon could not stare directly at.
In the very next moment, a distinct hum resounded, and ray broke through the air like a flying star, shattering the heavy silence!
A tremendous flash blasted the imp formation by on the other side of the Nether River. In the thick of the deafening detonation and the hissing sound as soil melted under the searing blaze, dozens of imps’ remains were sent flying by the shockwave, their flesh and blood vaporized even before they dropped to the ground, turning into bloody that spread over its surroundings.
Guwaganda knew the moment it saw the attack that the black dragon some leagues away was probably some abyssal abnormal species. It was clearly the black dragon species that manipulate negative energy, and yet it could unleash such blistering long-distance dragon breath. That, however, was not much of an issue. Under its command, the blood spilled from the imps were absorbed by the beholders to the rear through a ritual, and during the next shot of dragon breath, a sanguine shield spell suddenly appeared and completely withstood it, a spectacle that drew cheers from the vanguard demons.
Though the attack was foiled, black dragon and balrog did not give up and kept launching their offensive. Guwaganda could see that the balrog had such pure energy it was rather different from Abyssal lifeforms had started to release a multitude of golden-red fireballs from all over its body, each the size of a human head. All of them slowly rose and then accelerated as if arrows, sweeping towards the demon army in different curving angles. At the same time, the core on the black dragon’s chest lit up rapidly, and if its luminosity before was just a normal but blinding sun, the luminosity now was equivalent to a supernova. There was completely no way for one to look at it—the radiance would break through eyelids and dealing a dry, stabbing pain on the eyeball.
In moments, a streak of pure, unsullied fiery ray combined with the balrog’s fireballs that spread everywhere and plummeted down on the demon general like rain!
Booom! Booooom!! Boooooooom!!!
The sky thundered incessantly as gray-white shockwave shaped into infinite halos. The insectoid demon watched every move of the enemy intently but with immeasurable anxiety. Its four compound eyes had incredible sensory, granting it inconceivable motion perception.
As Guwaganda hurriedly used its spirit link to communicate with every demon in the army, a blood red energy shield quickly surfaced over their formations. Under the insectoid demon’s control, it blocked all assault by balrog and black dragon with relative ease, the price being just several hundred imp lives.
Seeing that their attacks were foiled one after the other, both dragon and balrog seemed to lose any desire of keeping it up. Instead, they ran unimpeded towards the edge of the Nether River where, due to the inference of their previous attacks, no demon could stop their approach.
Then, black dragon and balrog paused by the banks of the Nether River.
The stream itself was not too vast, and was in actuality quite narrow when compared to real rivers and was just almost a thousand meters wide. Even so, that distance could not be traversed lightly, for both black dragon and balrog were well aware that they could not force their way across the river under the ranged attacks tens of thousands of demon troops after failing to distort their formation. If they did, they would meet the cruelest walloping from the demons.
Assembling the army in this spot was right, the insectoid demon thought, calming slightly at the sight. The power of the Nether River surpassed all imagination that even Monarchs could not simply fly over it and must cross it guilelessly, and it was also absolutely impossible for a Monarch to safely cross the river under the besieging of an entire demon army.
The thoughts appeared to calm the insectoid—everything was in its grasp. The plan was flawless, it could delay the enemy long enough for Helm, His Majesty, who would soon return.
Guwaganda could never imagine the general losing, and was so firm in its convictions that it was until a gargoyle officer beside it prodded it that the insectoid noticed what was happening on the other side of the river bank.
It then saw.
The Monarch had alighted the dragon’s head. The horrifying Monarch who wore an armor with a dragon helmet came before the Nether River, arched his back and scooped up some of the river water. Then, he simply extended his hand at the balrog, and, amidst the demon’s agonizing screams, forced it to transform into a great sword burning with pure flames.
Joshua looked up towards the other end of the river at the densely packed demon army before his eyes, and the city behind them.
He weighted the composition of sword with his hand.
It’s sufficient. The warrior thought, and showed a smile.