~ Chapter 80: Tears (Part 1) ~
[Illsyore's point of view]
The battle with Zoreya had began, and I couldn't help but worry about her. In my mind, I prayed and urged her to run away, to hide from this abomination created by my own hands, but this one was a crusader and an Apostle of Melkuth, the God of War. Running away from an opponent would have been considered cowardly, maybe even disrespectful towards the one she prayed to.
Then again, fighting a hopeless battle was worse than retreating and gathering your strength for a better chance at winning. A true warrior was supposed to know when to fight and when to run. There was nothing shameful in a strategic retreat.
Yet, she wasn't running away... She stood there... challenging the monster known as The Darkness.
“Illsyore! I've come to help you!” she suddenly shouted.
What? Are you mad? I thought as I looked into her eyes.
Determined, unwavering, proud and strong, this was how I saw this woman. But then... it happened.
The Darkness changed his sight towards the nearby city and unleashed a merciless attack.
NO! DON'T!!! I shouted in my mind, but only the rustle of my chains could be heard as I struggled to stop him.
It was hopeless... useless... All those innocents were gone in the blink of an eye. Thanks to my body's magic sense, I was able to identify the life force of everyone there. One by one, they all perished until none was left behind. No one was spared... neither child, adult, or elderly. It didn't matter their species. It didn't matter their sins... they were all wiped out in the blink of an eye.
From this sight, I could only feel despair and anger. Yes, I felt angry, but not at The Darkness... No, I felt angry at myself for being unable to do anything to stop The Darkness. I was angry that I let it control me, and yet, I was fully aware of the fact that I couldn't do anything about it.
The Darkness then asked Zoreya who was powerful enough to stop him, but her answer... was absurd...
“Illsyore.” was her reply.
It shook me to my very core.
How could I stop this thing?! I tried! I shouted back in my mind, but again, only the rustle of my chains could be heard.
It was painful, but if Zoreya came here believing that I could do something about it, then it was already a lost cause. Her mission had failed from the start. Who would dare put their hopes in a loser like me? Even my wives hated me now! Even my wives...
I took a peek at them...
“I hate you!” Shanteya said, but it was weird... that gaze of hers... those eyes... they didn't match her words.
“Monster!” said Nanya, but again... her eyes didn't match her words.
Closing my eyes, I looked away.
No... don't get your hopes up... This is nothing but a lie... a curse to make you suffer! I told myself such words, but were they truth?
“When I traveled with you, Illsyore, I never saw you as a weakling... but instead as someone with monstrous strength. You acted like a monster during that time I was with you, didn't you? In the village, in the forest, in the city, everywhere we went, you acted like a monster, didn't you?” she asked, but her words confused me.
Why would she say such things when her desire is to save me? Why is the meaning hidden behind her words so clear to me? Is it a lie? Is it the truth? What is it? Why? Why? Why did she make me remember those moments when I... when I... when I didn't act like a dungeon but a human? I kept asking myself as the thick mist of confusion surrounded me.
I shook my head, rattling the chains around me, and tried to understand, but I couldn't... or didn't want to.
The Darkness is right... she's just mocking me. Zoreya is just mocking me. I let out a weak, defeated smile as I looked up at the window and over at the Apostle.
“I'm mocking you Illsy because I care for you...” she said.
I blinked surprised.
Through that strange window floating in front of me and showing me the outside world, I saw a cute and shy Zoreya, who was... blushing.
Why would she blush? I wondered.
Nothing made sense anymore... but when did it?
Is she mocking me? No, that can't be... but if she isn't then... is she... is she... as I tried to get my thoughts in order and make sense of this, I heard her next words.
“You asked me to kill you, but I didn't... That was only because I was selfish and wanted you.”
Wanted me? I blinked surprised.
With my mind confused and going left to right, the only thing I could have thought to make sense of this whole mess was the fact that she might truly love me. She wanted me in the sense of being my lover... as one of my wives...
Wait! Wasn't she the one who was against the whole polygamy thing? I thought, but then things were about to take a turn for the worse.
“What foolishness do you speak off? Ah~ It matters not... I'll just kill you.” The Darkness said and pointed his left palm at her.
I felt my Magic Energy charging the Power Crystals, and I knew what was going to happen. The tragedy, the death... the horror I experienced with Nanya, Shanteya, and Ayuseya before was going to happen again.
Zoreya was about to be killed. The Darkness wanted to kill Zoreya! It was going to kill her in front of me!
“NOOO!!!” I shouted at the top of my lungs just when the beam was about to fire.
The chains rattled loudly and tried to pull me back, but I couldn't let The Darkness do it, I didn't want to... To kill her... would be the same as killing Nanya, Shanteya, Ayuseya, and Tamara...
I pulled on those chains as hard as I tried and reached out for her. A crack echoed in the space behind me and a wave of light spread from my body, causing The Darkness to shiver as though it was in pain.
There was no way I could tell what was going to happen, but at the very least, I was able to shift its palm just a little bit to the side. The beam of light missed the crusader, and I let out a sigh of relief.
However, in that exact moment, shadow tentacles sprung forward from the darkness around me and tried to grab a hold of me, but they sizzled away at the touch of my skin. Even so, that little bit of contact made me scream in pain.
It hurt... It really hurt...
I felt like a criminal being whipped for a crime he had not committed, yet besides my screams of anguish and pain, I could do nothing... Even my wives seemed to be overjoyed with hearing me suffer like this...
For a moment, I thought this was going to be it, that I was going to let myself get drown in this misery and suffering for the rest of eternity, but then... it happened again.
The shout echoed throughout the darkness loud enough to wake up from their deep slumber even the fabled dragons from Earth' fantasies. It was loud enough to make even the whips of shadow stop in their tracks, and the window to the outside world opened again.
I was staring directly into Zoreya's beautiful blue eyes. In them, I saw an unyielding determination and courage to push through and help me. Despite her job supposedly being that of ending my life, this woman, courageous and pious in her faith, she struggled to save me, the target of her god.
It was an impossible situation when thinking about it from many points of view, yet here she was, trying her best to make me not surrender to The Darkness... No, struggling to save me from its grasp in which I had let myself get plunged into...
“Fight.” she told me in tone of voice that could only reflect the kindness and care she had for me, her enemy.
I was left without words...
I couldn't understand. No, I refused to understand why she was doing this, why she was struggling to no end to reach out to me, an idiot human soul trapped inside this darkness. There was nothing to explain this situation, especially since if I looked back, I would see my three wives and slave cursing at me, regretting to have ever met me.
Their words were harsh and stung my heart, yet they seemed to lack the true emotion behind them. Even so, I ignored this fact and kept on believing the hate cast upon me. That was why I believed I would hear the same words from her... from Zoreya.
If even in this situation she was unwilling to give up and let me succumb to my fate, I could only wonder if maybe she was mad?
Yet, while I was pondering such things and had my heart and mind tossed around inside this dark world, the battle outside grew more and more intense. It had even reached the point where it wouldn't have been odd if one of us died by accident...
I know this is wrong... I know I shouldn't give up... but this emotion inside of me... this feeling of hopelessness... I can't get rid of it... I'm not a hero, Zoreya... I'm not someone who can put up a smile and move forward. I'm not someone who can fight to the bitter end... or am I? No... I'm not... I'm a coward, a weakling, a maggot... I'm someone who doesn't belong in this world... I'm someone who is hated by all even my wives! I'm a loser... that's what I am. Besides, what can I even do when they all hate me?! It's just me... against the whole world, no... the whole Universe. After all, look... The Darkness is winning, isn't it? I'm surrounded by it... I can't move... I can't dare to fight... So why? Why are you... still fighting for me, Zoreya? I thought as I felt myself get consumed by the darkness, slowly vanishing from this world.
“Illsy...” I heard her soft words one last time and raised my eyes to the small window before me.
On the other side, I saw... tears...
[Zoreya's point of view]
The beam of light shot by The Darkness didn't hold even a single drop of Magic Energy. This I could easily tell and confirm, but its strength and power was not to be underestimated. Every time The Darkness shot it at me, I had to duck and cover behind my shield. If not for this divine item, I would have perished a long time ago.
Still, his body was severely weakened. The Darkness couldn't fly anymore or cast any sort of magic at me. Even its attacks had lost their strength. His body was strengthened by Magic Energy, but it was from the inside. The [Barrier of Annulment] couldn't cancel or remove the energy inside a living body or gathered in an enchanted item. It canceled only what was released on the outside. Thus, I could feel Magic Energy inside of me, but without forming a Magic Armor or casting it in the form of a spell, it was useless.
Even the spell category of Buffs and Debuffs was mostly useless seeing as they worked by applying a thin layer of programmed Magic Energy outside the body. The [Boost] was the only thing that would work, but it required Magic Armor in order to maintain and keep the Magic Energy focused on the body. When using it, normally one would also release a part into their Magic Armor in order to make it powerful enough to sustain the sudden growth in strength and speed.
Without a doubt, my [Barrier of Annulment] was a spell that could force even the strongest of Supremes to basic combat. As far as I knew, only other Apostles with their divine items could stand a chance against me inside this barrier, but apparently, Dungeon Lords in humanoid form could do so as well... or to be more precise those with a body similar to Illsyore's. Then again, who could have guessed that at one point in time, I was going to do battle against an opponent who had inbuilt weapons?
“You are as pesky as an insect!” shouted The Darkness as he attacked me with his punch.
I blocked his attack with my shield and countered with my sword. He dodged and jumped back.
In this sort of situation, I would have believed that he was going to use one of the swords built by Illsyore, but apparently his ability to Absorb and take out stuff from inside his body was canceled out by my [Barrier of Annulment].
It made sense, seeing as one couldn't use Crystals inside this place. As such, this was also the perfect Supreme Spell to use against other Supremes. It was the perfect trap designed to hunt them down.
Even so, despite The Darkness being empty handed, he was unexpectedly good at fighting like that. As I rushed at him, I took aim with my sword and blocked his attack with my shield, but he dodged, causing me to miss. Grabbing my hand, he attempted to throw me over his shoulder, but I shield bashed him and pushed him back.
The movement was awkward, and I nearly lost my footing, but I avoided a potentially fatal throw. Unyielding to my attack, he rushed at me and launched a series of fast punches aimed at my shield, but I hid behind it and pushed against it with all my might. Even so, I was the one being pushed back by his tremendous strength.
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