Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Humans are restrained constantly.
Their parents would keep them protected when they were children, weak and ignorant. Their family controlling every word and every action they made—such as prohibiting them from entering deep waters, touch fires or approaching strangers—the most fundamental rule set for safety.
Their teachers and significant others would instruct them in the principles of self-conduct as they interacted in the halls of learning when they were youths. They would learn that others were bodies no different themselves, with moral standards that varied depending on the individual gradually marked down in their hearts and becoming the cornerstone when they enter society later.
As adults, they would have understood reason, while their bodies would not be as weak as they had been as infants. But it was also exactly because their power was capable of disobeying rules and hurting others that another restraint would appear—a lot more things would now matter, such as stricter law, complicated social environments, their relationships between people, the amount of gold they have, marriage or their possession of progeny and affection… All of it were threads that wrapped around them, steel that hung over their bodies albeit stabilizing all unfixed variables.
It sounds cumbersome, even suffocating—safety, morals, laws, self-conduct, relationships—the regulations and norms were so innumerable that people would not feel any sense of freedom.
There were many who therefore envy the birds that soar freely and the fishes that swam with no worries. However, the truth was that even birds have to search for food day and night while fished must perpetually be alert of natural enemies, which was why some shifted their gaze to the Abyss.
Indeed, the first to come in contact with the Abyss believed that such a world, one that had no government and law. With power being only the thing that mattered, that world was the embodiment of freedom and ideal, while the demons of Chaos were free creatures.
Even so, the warrior treated such ideas with contempt because freedom did not come from being unbridled.
Joshua stood to the left of the Nether River and stared, at the demon army that stood, densely packing the entire riverbank plains. Both sides stood on both sides of the banks tensely but kept silent out of a fragile balance. Countless pairs of ferocious eyes—either scarlet of dull-yellow—focused on his body, but could not change Joshua’s expression one bit. His body gradually warmed, with golden-red radiance starting to surface over the black armor as if cracks. Still, the warrior merely grasped the balrog greatsword in his hand again, and exhaled a breath that distorted the atmosphere around him.
Joshua hated demons. He hated those abominations of magic that were wanton and viewed life as nothing. He hated those monsters that never restrained their lust and cared only about destruction and slaughter. Humans were humans because they understood self-restraint, which was why demons were never intelligent lifeforms in the first place but were beast of utmost savagery.
A malevolent beast representing freedom? How laughable.
The essence of freedom was not to sway the freedom of others. It was dancing and rejoicing under fetters and manacles, doing as one’s heart wished while not overstepping the reservation. It was never built upon the torment of the weak, and neither would it ever appear in the hearts of Chaos.
Such was true freedom.
Joshua took a step ahead and into the wildly surging Nether River. The waters of the black ‘river’ rippled, with infinite orderly undulation spreading towards the endless distance. It carried the power of the warrior, breaking through the fragile balance.
The moment they saw it, the immeasurably tensed Guwaganda that stood atop the Black Blood Fortress issued the simplest and most direct order.
Even as shrill cry of the insectoid demon was still reverberating and unfurling in the air, its spiritual communication had already been delivered to every unit in the army. Thus, an even simpler answer unfurled from the thousands of demons.
On the right banks of the Nether River, the tens of thousands of berserk demon troops finally reacted after hearing the orders in their mind. They raised their blades, extended their talons and ignited the flames over their body before advancing unhesitatingly, diving viciously towards that unfamiliar Demon General!
Without waiting for the melee platoons to go up, the thousands of beholders, berserk demon archers and other miscellaneous spellcasting demon troops had finally moved. With the flash of thunder, corrupt magic elements trembled the atmosphere as thousands of fallen spells that had long been prepared turned into streaks of beams that shot across the sky and struck down like rain towards Joshua, with a multitude of black iron arrows that blanketed half the heavens following immediately behind!
And yet, Joshua had no intention of parrying at all. Against the ink-green rays of decay, fire dragons that were combusting and blinding lightning, her merely ‘seriously’ breathed in once.
In that very moment, air waves raged while cyclones flowed in reverse. In the company of the abruptly appearing hurricanes, the Nether River gushed while the mana elements in the air started to become supremely erratic. Before most of the weak spells could strike their target, the construct of attack comprehensively dissipating due to the storms that exceed force ten. On the other end of the river, the demon army was affected by the suddenly flying dust, the darkened sky becoming infinitely chaotic.
Without waiting for the demons to calm amidst the airborne stone and dust, they could feel a suffocating chill rapidly spreading. Soon, the air within a radius of several thousand meters thinned, whereas heat also seemed to be dried by something, with many demons that were blazing just before watching as the fires over their shells extinguishing and then condensing into frost. It was nothing they had ever experienced before.
But soon, they had not the focus to mind such things.
Because Joshua stopped inhaling.
In that very brief instant, most air and energy within thousands of meters were already drained, turning the blistering Lava Inferno as cold as the North. The warrior’s chest did not even expand—it was as if there was a bottomless abyss in his body that could devour all things by breathing alone.
Then, he exhaled.
Unlike the inhaling that wrought incredible chill, sweltering cyclones bellowed out from Joshua’s mouth, the terrible heat igniting and exploding the in second it contacted the outside realm, blasting plasma out of ions in the atmosphere. The windstorm, jumbled with flame and lightning, swept at the demon armies by the river in a straight line—the black iron arrows that had been raining down along its way had just covered half its intended distance before being melted into clusters of golden molten iron under the violent gales that burned at thousands of degrees, subsequently being engulfed by the gales and shooting towards their original masters heartlessly.
Boom! The imps on the frontmost lines of the armies were collectively turned into ash on contact. They never even lasted a second before being blown away by the tempest hotter than lava. Behind them, the berserk demons held on a little longer—not because of their considerable ability, but because of the decline through the extended distance that the burning winds were not so terrifyingly searing. Even so, the first scores of berserk demons also screamed as they were torched into nothingness, while the demons behind too started springing about one by one, unable to withstand the torrid molten iron of what were once melted arrows.
At first, the armors over their chest deformed under brute force, with outer shell and skeleton punched through by the golden molten iron. Horrifying shockwave carried the large demon’s bodies up in the air, vibrating all innards, blood, and flesh within a glob.
After dozens of elite heavy-armored berserk demons were send flying by the eruption, they became misshapen corpses when they dropped to the ground.
In an instant, one-thirds of imps and one-tenths of core infantry amongst Demon General Helm’s demon army was vanquished by one ‘serious’ breath from Joshua. Such a phenomenal blow would have routed an army, and was not trifle even against the innately brutish demons. They paused in their tracks, looked at each other in astonishment, not daring to advancing.
On top of the fortress, the insectoid-demon leader was not astonished by the spectacle. As a Supreme-tier archdemon it certainly was aware of the depth of that Monarch—they would never defeat or kill him, and forcing him to retreat would also prove extremely difficult. Nevertheless, Guwaganda never placed its hope on the troops—those things were solely tools to buy time, targets placed down to be killed.
The genuine killing stroke was being reserved.
With that order, the nervous and jittery demon army advanced once more—when they arrived at a suitable distance, they flung boulders and lances that they carried with them in different orders to suppress Joshua. Then, with the drumming sounds of machinery, gigantic siege catapults almost ten meters large were completely assembled. In seconds, giant fort-breaking bolts that resembled steel pillars shot out at the warrior, breaking out a resounding boom over the air.
But all the offensive was meaningless to Joshua, who actually was not moving to block it. He stepped over the Nether River simply and plainly, crossing the river that insinuated death with every step. Boulder and lance that approached him would be immediately be pressed down by the massive barrier around the warrior’s body into the river. Magic that struck the black armor would only pop up helpless bolts and sparks—even the Great Corrosive Bind that allegedly could melt all things was impotent against it and were absorbed instead into the black steel.
As if sensing something, the warrior looked up toward the Black Blood Fortress, while three giant siege arrows that could blow a clean hole through city walls streaked towards his body. Joshua raised his hand to swat one away as if a fly, slashing apart another with the balrog greatsword, but the final steel arrow struck through on his body with a prompt and resounding blast, while a brutal wave too kicked up from the waters of the Nether River.
The steel arrow that was almost ten meters long and resembled the pillars that held temples aloft was used expressively against cities. Any creature struck—even the incomparably large mammoth—would have been penetrated and reduced to inorganic material, much less normal humans who would die wretchedly with no remains. At the sight, the endless ranks of demon could not help pausing their attacks, believing that not even Legendary champions would definitely not be feeling great after enduring such an attack.
The result disappointed them.
The huge arrow slowly dropped, revealing the unscathed Joshua who did not even take one step back. The ratio in sizes between the human-sized warrior and the arrow was so glaring, but the result was simply ironic—there was a visible armor-shaped crease by the tip of the arrow, whereas the arrow shaft was misshapen too. Utterly damaged, the siege arrow simply dropped away from Joshua’s body into the Nether River without a single splatter.
Be that as it may, a series of preparations were complete above the Black Blood Fortress. Guwaganda, its body now flashing with lightning bolts, prepared to issue its final order. Thus, with the sound of metals scrapings as contraptions were being moved, the entire stone fortress swiftly transformed. Crystal mana tubes poked out as two parallel golden tracks rose from the citadel and rapidly extended, targeting the center of the Nether River and the guidance of mana, at Joshua, who was just staring towards it.
The insectoid demon stood at the center of the citadel that was the colossal war machine, supplying mana alongside hundreds of beholders to the weapon beneath them. With the Sixth Abyss having invaded innumerable worlds, this nightmarish weapon had precisely been acquired from the world that resisted them the most fiercely. Its damage yield was so great that any mountain would be shattered into dust—it would be difficult even for a Monarch to defend against it.
The unnamed machine began to move, each of the pale-blue crystal tubes charging, humming and vibrating. The two tracks also started to glimmer with thick and dangerous mana lightning that condensed into lightning halos of equal sizes. Terrible electromagnetism assembled and circled within, and red rays started to appear in the air and vanish at almost the same time. Those were self-combusting metallic particles in the halo, forming after being accelerated to its very limit.
At that moment, the insectoid demon’s final order was issued.
As dimensions surged, a robust steel sphere appeared over the dozen lightning halos. Drawn by the harrowing magnetic field as soon as it formed, it accelerated on every layer naturally and, within temporal fragments imperceptible to humans, it passed through a dozen layers of accelerator tracks and transmuted into an orange metal liquid that continuously evaporates and as bright as the sun and burst forward at Joshua!
There was no time to react to the incandescent flash that illuminated heaven and earth, and neither was there time to be awestruck by the gale that uprooted large chunks of earth and demons. Everything happened so instantly that the demons that happened in its path could not even tell that they were already dead when the bullet that was completely vaporized covered almost ten miles of distance towards the warrior’s head!
It was as if time had stopped for a moment. The black dragon that followed behind the warrior widened its eyes having sensed the danger and tried to warn its master. The balrog, too, appeared to have wanted to wail as it sensed that it could not shake off the mortal danger. On the other hand, the demon army before them was still left in astonishment, even as the waters of the Nether River beneath their feet kept flowing.
The odor of ozone wafted in the air; it was the product following the fission of oxygen.
Meanwhile, in that paused environment thanks to his heightened speed of thought, Joshua sensed everything around him and did not become animated or excited against the unfathomably threatening electromagnetic missile. His black armor categorically emitted sounds as if vibrating liquid pressure in the face of the attack which the enemy had placed all their hopes in, while he seriously tightened his grip over the balrog greatsword, seriously aimed at the supersonic liquid metal shooting at him, and seriously pressed his weight down and sliced towards it.
Such was the definition of freedom. In the Abyss, the warrior did not have to be mindful about hurting the citizens in the vicinity or environmental damage. He could unleash his might and power as he wished in the absence of all restraints—none could stop him, none could disturb him, allowing freedom to fill his entire body.
That was why the warrior did not even think with this one swing of his sword, for he did not have to consider the outcome of this fight and could focus on destroying his foe.
In Joshua’s hand, the balrog went into shock and lost consciousness in the very second of that swing. A broiling hotness rapidly unfurled, incinerating all oxygen, gas, and sulfur in the atmosphere instantaneously. A dimensional fissure that tore everything apart therefore formed from that heat and the turbulent air flow, and so a streak of immeasurably dense golden sword flash that was seemingly solid met the equally dense electromagnetic missile, with an echoing blast following in an instant!
Some lengths away, the insectoid demon that burned most of his body’s energy to trigger the war machine suddenly shuddered. Unlike the immense burn that spread after the missile accelerated, it was a cold fear, reminiscent of ice water being poured directly into Guwaganda’s heart, virtually starting to contort and freeze the demon’s innards. Its compound eyes had seen that the faraway sword flash that suddenly broke down, that the metal missile was split in two and that the swing had also parted the Nether River.
It could see that the land was sent flying in its entirety, that the demon army had long scattered haphazardly.
Of course, it also saw the conclusion where its own body was split into two by the sword flash that stretched on to infinity.
Ah, it’s over, the insectoid-demon thought.
Spectacle of its long life flashed by before its eyes—from its origins as an abyssal worm that metamorphosized into the weakest of Abyssals, the worm demon. Afterward, through incessant concealed and persistent callusing and sublimating, it finally ascended and became a herder demon, a capable subordinate to an archdemon, shrugging away the chaotic surroundings in which lower demons devoured each other. Then, hundreds of years later, that archdemon became a General, while it too improved and became the archdemon it always aspired to become.
Demons never regret—it was an emotion rarely forming in their mental faculties, which was true for Guwaganda too. At present, the demon simply murmured in wonder.
What power it was, so powerful and focused.
That flash of the sword had neither hatred nor Chaos, greed nor pleasure—not even rage.
There was nothing that came with that swing apart from destruction.
It was immeasurably pure, borne for the express purpose of slaughter and ruination, and was exactly why it was invincible.
The insectoid demon closed its compound eyes; it peacefully awaits the arrival of death.
But suddenly, the shell layers over its face piled, its expression shifting immensely. Guwaganda’s calm and determined demeanor vanished, replaced by astonishment as it turned, raising its head. Just as it turned, a golden-orange beam rocketed from some extreme distance, blasting through the atmosphere, passing the insectoid demon’s body and arriving before the Black Blood Fortress.
A golden-red ray then broke out from the beam, tearing apart the sword flash that had spread before the Fortress. Its edge glinted with pale-blue lightning and cut the plains between the Nether River and the Fortress in two, leaving a terrible magma scar.
“Guwaganda, you have done well. However, it is too weak to wait for death—I shall punish you after the battle.”
A turbid, rumbling voice rang from within the beam. Soon, the beam slowly dissipated, and the true body of the voice became visible.
It was a demon that was not quite large. It had thousand pairs of evil eyeballs that squirmed constantly, while its body was covered in a black, streamlined shell. On its head, a pair of menacing demon horns stood, flashing with thick mana bolts. The thousand-eyed demon’s body flowed with torrid waves of air, the residual heat from traveling at a blistering speed throughout its journey.
After reprimanding its lackey, the demon turned its head towards the warrior who stood over the Nether River as it slowly closed itself.
“Foolish fellow. You actually dare to venture deep into the Abyss and lay waste to my domain.”
The raging demon’s voice contained immeasurable fury, which in turn slowly changed the color of the black shell over its body before ending up in an orange-red as if magma. “I have lived for endless times,” it said profoundly, “mastering every way to torment. You will regret being alive.”
“Foolish demon,” Joshua said, grinning.
The warrior of freedom raised the balrog greatsword that was slowly melting and changing form, and stared at the enemy before him which he had long awaited.
“I’ve mastered destroying you,” he replied profoundly.