~ Chapter 77: Broken ~
[Illsyore's point of view]
The Darkness took over in but an instant. I was unable to stop it... No, I let my guard down, and that split second was all it needed to rip the control of my body out of my frail grasp. But instead of destroying me, it kept me caged like an animal with only a small window to the outside world, through which I could watch the terror and disasters it was about to unleash upon all those unsuspecting mortals.
I was inside my Inner Mind, floating around the never ending darkness, shackled in chains made out of a cold black metal, and staring at the outside wall through a small portal. I couldn't move. I couldn't speak. I couldn't do anything but look and despair.
It won... The Darkness inside of me won... all because Zoreya hesitated... She was to blame for all of this.
Why she did this, I had no idea, but it didn't matter anymore...This world was doomed...
[Somewhere up in the skies]
“You were saying?” Melkuth asked glaring at the old senile fool.
“Well... Erm...” he scratched his left cheek and showed him a wry smile.
“Sigh... I do not blame you, old man. Even as gods we sometimes make mistakes. I will order Zoreya to retreat and regroup with the other Apostles. The Supremes of the three continents must join forces if they hope to stop this atrocity in its tracks.” Melkuth declared.
“I won't stop you this time...” the senile old man let out a sigh and looked down upon the world where Illsyore's body controlled by The Darkness was approaching a small village at the edge of the desert. “This change... it was unexpected... but I do not sense that his soul had vanished. Maybe...” he rubbed his chin as he said this.
“There is no more maybe, and this change was quite predictable! That man was a weakling from the very moment he stepped into this world. He lacked the will and ambition to make that body his own. He lacked the fighting spirit to hold onto his happy life. In a single moment of weakness, he cast it all aside like some unwanted junk. But...” Melkuth closed his eyes and crossed his arms at his chest “I will admit this:” he looked at the senile old man “This path... his meeting with Zoreya was unforeseen even by the Dark Gods. In all past oracles, including mine, Illsyore had always faced her first in battle and either killed her or heavily injured her as a result of it...” he declared.
“Oracles are nothing more than hints at a possibility of a possibility in a world filled with endless possibilities. The moment when one sees the future, be them gods or not, that future is already in the midst of changing into a different one.” the senile old man showed him a smile.
“You never were one to care for such things...” Melkuth shook his head. “But, the reality, changed or not, as the oracles foresaw it or not, is that we now must do a Hero Summoning ritual and pick a soul worthy of our blessings and gifts of power!” Melkuth declared.
“Do what you must, but I... I still believe things can be changed... As long as that one's soul's remains in that cursed body, then he might still have a chance to win this... But neither I or you can convince him to fight.” the god let out another sigh and looked down upon the unstoppable calamity.
[The Darkness' point of view]
Facing this human was nothing but a joke for one as great as me. Yet, I was well aware that my victory had yet to be complete.
The accursed soul of the mortal was stronger than I had suspected, no... it was only I... We who lacked the proper knowledge regarding the proper way to dispose or steal one's soul. What I knew so far could only be classified as a... misunderstanding... lies... The answer to my... our predicament laid in his free will...
Just like how I had convinced him he was so weak that he couldn't do anything to me, all I had to do now was to convince him that there was no reason or hope for him to remain in this world. The consciousness of his soul and that of the manifestation inside my Inner Mind were different, yet the same... Those black chains keeping him in this world were not mine but his. That gate... window... portal... whatever it was that let him see through my left eye, it wasn't mine... ours either... it was his. But how?
How was he able to make it? How was he able to stay in this body, in this world when I clearly severed him from the use of his own body? To make matters worse, he wasn't even aware of this obvious fact!
What a frightening fool...
But that was the truth... The truth? Yes. I lacked information. I lacked the truth, but I knew one thing... His will... Illsyore's will... I had to crush it... I had to destroy his free will! But how?
Trauma... tragedy... hate... destruction... Yes, I had to make it so that this world would become a place where no matter what he did, how hard he tried, he would become unable to return to it. I had to do something that those women would start to hate him.
Yes, hate... That was the answer! That was the key to solving the mystery!
With a grin on my lips, I set forth towards the nearest settlement, a village... a human village.
“Perfect!” I laughed.
I approached these mortals calmly, but as soon as the two weaklings at the gate saw me, I impaled them with an [Earth Spike] aimed at their hearts. They dropped dead, and the screams of terror and horror began to sweep through this little settlement.
Now, Illsyore... watch... gaze upon the destruction, the havoc I shall unleash and fear this world... wish to escape it... VANISH from MY body!
[Illsyore's point of view]
NO! NO! NO!
So many people... so many innocent were killed in not even half an hour...
Where once stood a village, now only burning building, charred bodies, and ripped up human bodies remained. The ground was soaked in their blood and he spared no one... not even the children...
Yet... all I could do was watch... in horror... in fear...
Because of me, because I made such a strong body, because I was a Dungeon... this thing now came into existence and used all of my power to slaughter everyone around mercilessly. But unlike me, it had no reason to withhold its strength. All those who tried to stop it ended up dead... crushed under its might... 'It' because this thing was not a living person... it was a monster running on broken memories like a computer flooded with viruses that took over it.
All I could do was watch as it brought horror around it. Now, it was heading towards another settlement, killing and massacring every group of sapient species it could find. One after another, their lives were ended without mercy, without care...
It was horrible... and it was all my fault...
[Ayuseya's point of view]
When we heard the terrible explosions outside of the city, we all knew that something was wrong. As for the source, it was clearly Illsy... or more specifically, The Darkness. If he had lost the battle with himself or not, we had no idea, but deep within our hearts we hoped and hoped that was not the case. But when we saw Zoreya return alone... we knew it was over...
“W-Where's Illsy?” the one to ask with a trembling voice was Shanteya.
Looking away, Zoreya struggled whether to give us a reply or not, but one of us wasn't so patient.
“WHERE'S MY HUSBAND, APOSTLE?!” Nanya asked with a growl.
She rushed at her and slammed her into the wall, causing the whole building to shake and tremble under the impact. The other customers here, including the innkeeper and his waitresses, retreated from the raging demoness.
The amount of Magic Energy and killing intent this one was releasing was no joking matter either, but out of the three of us, I was the calmest one.
Well, that was a lie... I wasn't calm... I simply was the best at pretending to be calm.
“Nanya, calm down.” I told the demoness as I took a step closer and gently placed my hand on her shoulder.
She glared at me for a moment, but then closed her eyes and released the apostle from her grasp.
Zoreya fell on the floor on her behind, Melkuth's Shield made a loud 'thud' next to her. With a pained expression on her face, she refused to look us in the eyes. When I saw this, I realized that maybe we weren't the only ones suffering.
I knelt down next to the blond woman, and asked her calmly “What happened?”
She bit her lip and tried to withhold the truth, but she couldn't.
“The Darkness... it won... I failed... I wasn't able to fulfill the request of my god, and I wasn't able to save him either...” she clenched her fists and looked down.
In her entire life this was probably the only time she failed in such a terrible way, but a part of her words made me furrow my brow.
“What do you mean 'save him'? I thought Melkuth didn't knew how to...” I asked.
“There's a chance of a chance of a chance of a chance... if...” she stopped and bit her lip.
“If what?” Nanya asked surprised.
“IF I LET MYSELF GET KILLED BY HIM!” she shouted back with tears in her eyes.
“What...” I said surprised.
“But I can't... I couldn't... Melkuth ordered me to... no he requested that I don't...” she looked down at her shield.
“Why do you have to die?” Shanteya asked, but just like me, she failed to see the reason behind all of this.
“I don't know... I don't know... Maybe I already missed the chance... Maybe I... I don't know!” she shook her head and covered her face with her hands.
Until now, this apostle never showed us a single tear or moment of weakness. She was supposed to be a sword for her god... a tool through which his very will manifested upon this world, but right now... she was just like us... a woman who suffered.
“Maybe your god just spouted a bunch of lies...” Nanya growled.
Looking back at the demoness, she was clearly not impressed by her tears.
“Zoreya, what was the plan? Where did it go wrong?” I asked her in a calm tone of voice, hoping to get some answers from her.
“I... I was told by Melkuth to kill Illsyore... He as a soul isn't bad. He is kind. He thinks of others. He loves and cares for those who are close to him. He's an innocent, but...” she tried to explain, but Shanteya interrupted.
“Then why were you told to kill him? Why does Melkuth want him dead? Everything Illsy did so far had been out of the kindness and goodness of his heart! He saved me when everyone had abandoned me, including the gods! She came to Ayuseya's help when nobody else would have dared, risking to make even an entire kingdom his enemy! He accepted Nanya without batting an eye at her demonic appearance! He freed Tamara and changed the way an entire country viewed slavery! What could he have possibly done so wrong as to ignite the wrath of a god?!” she shouted at the end.
“Nothing... Melkuth doesn't wish Illsyore's death, he wishes for The Darkness to be gone and to prevent it from taking over his body, but the only way to do this is by killing their shared body...” Zoreya replied as she gathered her knees to her chest.
“What?” Shanteya glared at her.
“It was my duty... even Illsyore requested it from me, but I... I couldn't do it... I couldn't kill him. I hesitated... and The Darkness took over. A split second was all it needed... I am at fault for unleashing that evil upon this world...” she confessed while shedding tears.
“You couldn't... but you intended to...” Shanteya said as she stepped forward.
I looked at the el'doraw and felt a chill running down my back all the way to the tip of my tail. Although frightening, she had yet to reach for her blade.
“I couldn't... if I did... The Darkness would have been gone... or... I don't know... I just don't know...” the apostle said.
The woman was a wreck, but Shanteya didn't stop. I moved out of the way, but I was going to intervene if I saw her go for the kill. My worries, however, were misplaced...
The el'doraw knelt before the weeping human, and she placed her hands on her shoulders. With a smile, she then told her “It's alright... it's clear that even you hold feelings of love for our husband.”
“What?” Zoreya looked at her a bit confused.
“Why else would you of all people hesitate during such a crucial moment if not because your heart was weighed down by your feelings for Illsy.” she said, but neither me or Nanya knew how she came up with such a strange conclusion.
No matter how hard I tried to think about it, I couldn't see when and where such emotions could have had a chance to sprung up. Everything pointed to the opposite, that Zoreya didn't see Illsy as such nor ever tried to.
“Nya! Shanteya is right! Zoreya likes Illsy, nya!” the nekatar said as she came over and gently rubbed her furry cheek to hers.
“What? No way! My love belongs only to my god... I can't... That's impossible!” the apostle tried to deny, but the moment she became flustered, we all knew the truth.
Our woman sense tingled and pointed at the blonde in denial.
“Sigh... so it was like that... But it doesn't matter anymore... Illsy has been taken over by The Darkness.” Nanya said and then walked past us and moved to the door.
“Wait! Where are you going?!” I asked.
“To save my husband!” she glared back at us.
“How?!” I asked.
“I don't know how, but... but...” she furrowed her brown and looked down.
“Even if we don't know how, we must still try... There has to be a way to reason with him.” Shanteya said as she sat up and walked towards Nanya.
“Indeed... Besides, I don't believe that Illsy had lost just yet...” I nodded and followed them.
“If Master is in trouble, then Tamara will give her all to save Master as well!” the nekatar pushed her chest forward and then rushed up to us.
“We'll see about that.” I patted her head and rustled her fur a little.
“Nyaaa~!” she called out.
With a smile, I looked back at Nanya and then at Shanteya. We were all thinking the same thing. We all wanted to help our husband, and none of us believed The Darkness truly managed to subdue the man who conquered all of our hearts... maybe even that of the proud apostle of Melkuth.
“Wait! You can't go! The Darkness is far more powerful than even Illsyore! He'll crush you all!” Zoreya warned us.
I smiled and then told her “He won't... Illsy will never let him do it... You'll see.”
We left the inn and rushed after him. The trail of merciless slaughter and destruction was going to lead us straight to him.
As we ran through the forest, I asked Shanteya.
“I thought for a moment that you were going to kill Zoreya, but why did you say something like that to her?”
“Actually, I really wanted to kill her... When my hands were on her shoulders, I could have easily moved them around her neck and snap it. I struggled with myself for a moment... and wondered what would Illsy do. I remembered that he was a man who would never raise his hand against someone who both regretted and felt bad about what they did... Most importantly, I remembered how he spared Dankyun... He left him with his life, but not his sanity...” she closed her eyes for a moment “I'm a bad el'doraw... I lied to Zoreya...” she opened her eyes “I said something to shake her faith in her own god in this moment of weakness... But it was better than killing her.”
I gulped... Shanteya right now was really frightening...
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