Interlude 3 – At the Ruined City of the North
In the north laid the Ruined City, Belliondora.
Due to a battle with Demons in the past, the Kingdom’s old capital, or more precisely what remained of it, was now in ruins.
The city was burnt down, the earth was hollowed out, and the castle had collapsed.
The only thing left was debris. Accumulated ash and the silent corpses of people, that had long decayed into bones, laid on top.
People had long since stopped traveling to this doomed land, and whenever someone mentioned the name of this city, it was spoken with fear and resentment toward the Demons.
The silhouette of a man could be seen standing in the center of a plaza within the ruined city, which seemed to be bustling with activity.
It was a sharp-eyed, tall man with a fearless face.
You could say that he had an orderly appearance, and if one had to say something about his smile and his face, which was overflowing with confidence, then it would be that he was probably giving off a fierce impression to others.
“So you’ve come?”
The man muttered and squinted his eyes in satisfaction. Figures slowly began to appear in the ruined city, as if they had responded to the man’s voice. Amongst those people, there were those who had horns growing on violet skin. There were also those who appeared to be identical to humans…but every single one of those who appeared here, including the man, were Demons.
“Youngster, did you call for us?”
“Valross, what are your intentions?”
A voice came from one corner of the ruins. Although this voice seemed dangerous, the Demon referred to as Valross didn’t pay any attention to it. Instead, he closed his eyes and widened his smile.
“It is something urgent.”
“For you to say it like that. I guess it’s a serious matter then?”
“If it is something foolish…you do understand what will happen, don’t you?”
Valross shrugged his shoulders in response.
“Depending on the situation, it might be necessary to change our plans.”
“Why don’t you stop beating around the bush and just say it?”
This time, it was a woman’s voice.
“Not everyone is here yet, right?”
“Do you mean Myustra? That guy probably isn’t interested in attending a meeting like this.”
“Hmm…shall we get to the main subject then?”
Valross paused for a moment. His smile vanished.
“Lynette, who snuck into Termuilles, has ceased regular communication with us.”
The Demons kept silent for a moment, listening to Valross.
“…Who is Lynette?”
A confused Demon asked.
“She was just a young, female Demon who was familiar with the techniques of the humans. We had her sneak into the Large Labyrinth, in the hopes of finding a method to destroy the seal.”
“This is the matter that was important enough for you to summon us? She’s just late, isn’t she?”
“No, she was probably caught by the humans and defeated.”
“That’s correct. It was terrible. I saw her fall to the humans. Her opponent was pretty tough.”
Valross denied their optimistic thoughts, and although he sympathized with Lynette’s defeat, several of the other Demons, including those who spoke of her defeat, looked at each other and laughed. Amongst them were those who had expressed dissatisfaction towards Valross’ summons.
What, was there something funny?”
“We can’t help but laugh at this. So this is why we were summoned.”
“Geez. She’s probably just a lower class errand runner that dropped dead.”
The ones who said these lines didn’t realize the danger of what Valross had said and laughed. Valross glared at them and shrugged in a displeased manner.
Although, it was true that, with her combat capabilities, Lynette was probably inferior to the Demons here right now.
Lynette herself was aware that her strength was inferior to theirs, but she refused to bend even a little bit. It seemed that, from their point of view, they did not have a very good impression of Valross.
Speaking of which, Lynette’s dislike for Valross might have originated from her pride as a Demon. Conversely, in Valross’ case, he had not held a bad evaluation of her.
“You’re saying that after Lynette’s death, there will be a change in the plan?”
“It’s just as I said earlier. That girl was pretty intelligent. She was well versed in the humans’ summoning, barrier, and transfer techniques. She was also a necessary talent to open the path to the Moon Shrine.”
Lynette’s nature was a bit different when compared to the Demons here, who were like incarnations of violence. The combination of her techniques and knowledge made her a rare and valuable existence. At the very least, if she was compared to these guys, who didn’t bother to contemplate the cause of her death, her efficiency was far more useful.
Consequently, Valross had thought highly of her. If someone had held a high opinion of Lynette or had seen her being held in high regard, they might have already arrogantly taken her away.
“What should be done then? If we are unable to enter the Moonlight Shrine, won’t our plans be hindered?”
“I will hand over the research results that Lynette sent. If the results are good, we may be able to set up a barrier, to a certain extent. In any case, in regards to the details of Lynette’s research, we need a bit more information about the Moonlight Shrine’s seal. We probably need to send someone to Termuilles again.”
The reason that Valross had summoned these guys was to select a person to go to Termuilles.
“Yer just bearing the consequences of a young girl, right? Ain’t it fine for ya to go yerself?”
The one who said this was one of the members of the group that was dissatisfied with Valross’s summoning. His voice held a scornful tone, and those who had laughed at Lynette joined in with some more laughter. However–
A muffled scream and sounds of breaking stone resounded through the plaza.
The Demon crashed into the ground, his face grasped by Valross, who had rushed at him with an extreme speed. Although Valross wanted to use all of his strength, he settled for a simple movement and concealed his power. Even then, it was enough for fissures to run through the earth.
“Don’t chatter too much, or would you like to be crushed to death?”
Valross threw him to the ground as he spoke. He did this many, many, many times. The Demon’s limbs danced around like he was a doll, and the surrounding land, which had already been somewhat destroyed, caved in and collapsed.
The surrounding Demons, who looked out for themselves, knew why Valross was doing this. He was simply powerful.
The Demon who had his head in Valross’ grasp wasn’t someone who could endure this. In the beginning, the Demon had somewhat resisted Valross and showed a strong will, but the he finally broke down and pleaded with screams, unable to endure any further.
“P-Please, stop it!”
“Keep this in mind, then.”
After throwing the gasping Demon aside, Valross glared at those around him once more.
He had probably intended it as a warning to the others. The guys who had laughed earlier no longer gave off a relaxed atmosphere.
If Valross was acting normally, even he would have been more gentlemanly. He had temporarily been entrusted with the role of mediator. However, he was in somewhat of an irritable mood today, and one of the Demons who harbored ill feelings toward Valross had failed to see that not everything was fine, and even picked a fight with him.
“As far as I know, we still cannot move from here. I’m sure the others are wrapped up in similar situations…so, is anyone free and able to head to Termuilles?”
“Let me go.”
A Demon with burning, red eyes stepped forward.
Although he had requested this himself, amongst the people here, Zevion was a combat freak. If Zevion was unable to find any methods to destroy the barrier, he might suggest forcing their way through it. Even if that wasn’t the case, now that Lynette had been defeated, it was uncertain what Zevion would think and what actions he would take.
If possible, Valross would have prefered to leave this job to someone else. However, that didn’t necessarily mean that anyone else would be available to move to another area. It could also be said that only those who were obsessed with battling were free. As long as they volunteered themselves like this, they could probably take care of themselves, to a certain extent.
“…Will it be fine if I bring that guy along?”
He asked, pointing at the Demon who Valross had caught earlier.
“I don’t really care…but will he be useful to you? That thing.”
“If he submits to someone’s strength, he won’t defy that person ever again, whether it’s you or me.”
Valross smiled wryly, remembering the disgraceful behavior that the Demon from earlier had shown.
Well, combining this combat freak with cunningness could create a suitable balance.
Even if he gave detailed instructions to these Demons, who only abided by strength, he couldn’t imagine them following orders properly. In this sense, Lynette was definitely a talent that was hard to come by.
It was because part of her took action through logic, instead of through emotions.
“Anything else to take note of?”
“Out of the research results that Lynette left behind, the only things that remain are the techniques and tools for sneaking into Termuilles. Please use these to gather information. These tools aren’t something that can be easily prepared, so take care when using them.”
“After that, even if we deceive them when we invade the barrier from the outside, once we are inside of the barrier…we can’t deal with several of the barriers that are deep within the Labyrinth or around the Palace. Please pay close attention to this.”
Zevion put on a fearless smile, grabbed the collar of the still-collapsed Demon, placed him on his shoulder, turned around, and walked away.