With hope in my heart and dreams driving me forward, I chased after the shadow of the Cerberus. Every now and then, the Cerberus would turn around to check if I was still following it. Whenever I lagged behind too much, he would call out to me and rush me along. If I stuck close to him however, he would merely continue onwards without saying a thing. Like that, we ran for roughly five to six minutes before coming upon a black mountain roughly a hundred meters high.
The Cerberus brought us right up to the mountain base where I found a cave right ahead that didn’t seem too deep. Upon reaching that cave, the cerberus hurriedly brought his kid into the cave without once turning around to check on me as if he was in hurry to be somewhere.
‘Legendary treasure trove, here I come!’
With that thought, I took my first excited step into the cave and then I had my mind blown. ‘Where’s my divine weapon?! Where’s my miraculous encounter?! Did I miss a flag somewhere?’
What I saw instead was a prone Cerberus with a half revealed belly. There I saw a hideous gash that leaked out blood each time the Cerberus breathed. Judging by how the pitiful hellhound laid there in a pool of its own blood, gasping for air and in an extremely weakened state, it wouldn’t be long before that hellhound died.
“Wooof wooof…” The male Cerberus lowered his child right next to the body of his injured kin and there the little puppy cried. Even though the puppy was a newborn, it wasn’t dumb. It clearly understood something the moment it laid eyes on that injured Cerberus. Though its wailing was soft, the grief within it was deafening to me.
Seeing that, I roughly got the gist of the situation.
‘An injured b*tch…err, I mean Mama dog…I’m not trying to cuss anyone here…yeah, let’s go with Mama Hellhound from now on.’ Mama Hellhound must’ve gotten seriously injured while giving birth to her child. Most likely that egg was the result of a premature birth and that explained why it kept leaking life force.
Dog Daddy…Papa Hellhound brought the egg to one of the platforms floating on the lava lake because there was an abundance of fire energy there, unlike the cave we were in right now. Using those energies, he planned on breathing fire while recovering his mana at the same time. Like that, he managed to maintain his breathing for a much longer period of time.
While my brain filled in the gaps, Mama Hellhound tenderly extended her head out to snuggle against the baby hellhound. Unfortunately, that simple act caused her wound to tear slightly, sending ripples of pain rushing through her body in an instant.
‘I wonder how long has she been in that state…’
‘So this isn’t a treasure trove of divine weapons…it’s actually a giant pit waiting for me to jump into it…all that talk about Papa’s instincts is nothing but a load of hogwash…based on that fact, I can at least say that I’m still a man.’
‘After all, a man’s sixth sense will never be able to compete with a girl’s.’
“I thought our child would never be able to survive…there must’ve been some special reason for that…I can roughly guess who is responsible for that already…you have my thanks…beloved guests…” Mama Hellhound spoke, in fluent devil’s tongue no less. The fact she was able to speak so fluently had exceeded my expectations, but not by much seeing as Violet Snow had already set a precedent for that.
Seeing my lukewarm reaction, Mama Hellhound opened her mouth in what looked like an attempt at a toothy grin: “Even though I wish to say that I’m happy…seeing as my child’s life is safe…but I’m afraid I don’t have much time to live…”
“Your wounds aren’t able to close up?”
There was no need for formalities between us right now because I already knew Papa Hellhound’s motive for bringing me here: he wanted me to save her.
“I was injured by a slash from a Purgatory Warhorse’s horn…my child was birthed prematurely because of that…that childbirth drained too much of my energy…my body is…at least the child managed to survive…our child looks so healthy…I thought that even if we our child survived…” As she said that, tears rolled down all of her cheeks. However, she immediately apologized upon realizing how rude it was for her to cry in front of her guests: “I’m sorry…I couldn’t control myself there…”
Seeing his wife cry like that, Papa Hellhound gave a couple of mournful ‘woof woofs’ and gave me an expecting look. What he was thinking right now was extremely clear to me.
Fortunately for him, I rather liked hellhounds thanks to my time with Violet Snow. To be exact, I liked all kinds of tiny animals, cats, dogs, whatever. Hellhounds were completely different from devils, they were hounds. Engraved in their bones was a sense of loyalty to their masters. Even if they possessed an intelligence equal to a human’s, they would never strike out against their master.
Since I was here already, there was no way I would leave her to die like that.
“Will a Red Lotus help?” During our journey eastward, we managed to harvest quite a number of Red Lotuses. The majority of them ended up in Mo Na’s belly but I made sure to keep a reserve just for such emergencies. I had Mo Na take out our emergency supply; there were three fruits left. “I’m sure you know better than I do what these can do for healing wounds.”
“I’m extremely grateful for the gesture…but…please take them back…they…are no longer able to help me…”
From the looks of things, Mama Hellhound must have already eaten quite a number of them but to no avail.
“Wooof…” Papa Hellhound lifted his heads and howled at the tiny box attached to Mo Na’s waist.
“Are you referring to this?” I had Mo Na take out the last remaining core stashed in the box. That was probably the real reason why he brought us here.
Turning my head to face Mama Hellhound, I gently placed the Five-stars Fire Elemental Core in front of her: “If it’s this, I think it might just be able to heal your wounds.”
“That’s a fire elemental core!” Seeing the crimson pearl brought before her like that, her hope was rekindled in an instant. Voice trembling, she asked: “Is this really for me?”
I nodded my head before giving her a faint smile: “ I’ve already taken it out so there’s no way I’m keeping it again. Besides, I’m an obsessive compulsive person, unless the ending’s perfect, I can’t settle down at all.”
“I’m so grateful…”
Having said that, she swallowed the core and closed her watery eyes.
While Mama Hellhound recovered from her injuries, I began pondering the whole situation we were in right now. According to her own words, that injury was from a Purgatory Warhorse’s horn. Within my inherited memories were records of just such a creature.
These horses had a black hide and a fiery red mane. Those above the level of Four-stars were adults and would grow out a lone horn as proof of such. Upon reaching Six-stars, there was a certain probability of evolving into a Nightmare Steed. These horses were able to traverse the dream world and cast illusions. Their Dreameater ability allowed them to even swallow an opponent’s soul in his dreams. However, they had to spend a considerable amount of time to do so and this amount varied with the difference in power.
If Mama Hellhound was really injured by a Purgatory Warhorse, did that mean that the two races were at odds with each other? Purgatory Warhorses were known for being arrogant. In order to ride them, one had to first gain their approval. As for Nightmare Steeds, they were considered a rare mount amongst the devils. Even within my inherited memories, there was no record of how these horses evolved into a Nightmare Steed; most likely there had to be some kind of secret requirement.
‘Well, there goes that plan of keeping those cores for No.3 and Big 4. Somehow I ended up give them all away to other people…I mean to dogs.”
In order not to interrupt her healing, I brought our little party out of the cave for a stroll. Having finally found a devil life form, I had a ton of question to ask, so for the time being I had no plans of leaving.
Just as I stepped out of the cave however, Mo Na immediately wrapped her arms around me before asking a question filled with sarcasm: “ Mama, didn’t you say that there was treasure here?”
“…well, Mr. Treasure is not home today, he’s out visiting his friends.”
“So when will he come home?”
“I don’t know…”
“Mama’s instinct isn’t accurate at all, Mama clearly said that there would be treasure here and yet there’s nothing here at all. We ended up giving them two treasures instead.”
“…that’s enough little girl, is it that fun making fun of your Papa?” I picked her up with my left hand and gave two resounding spanks on her little butt. “Just look at them, their entire family of…dogs already have it so tough, we should help them if we can instead of nitpicking about such worldly goods. Life is priceless, got it?”
“Life is priceless? So Mama is saying we should protect the lives of others?”
“Mhm.” Clearly this was a mess I started so no matter what I had to see it through to the end. Thus, I said: “Do you have a problem with that?”
However, having experienced my spanks of fury before, Mo Na didn’t fear them one single bit and instead tilted her head before giving me devious smile: “Mo Na has no problem with that but what about Mama? Mama kills so many Demon Fire Worms everyday and yet she talks about life being priceless…is that really all right?”
‘Don’t you dare doubt that I will teach you what a head to ground smash is, right here, right now.’
“Master, the hellhounds are stronger than us, what if…” Amidst my moment of awkwardness, No.3 came rushing to the rescue while casually voicing out his concern: “If they decide to betray us, I’m afraid we…”
“It’s all right. I’ve been Violet Snow long enough already. She told me that the hellhounds are a race that will always repay their debts. They are utterly faithful to their masters while still possessing a formidable combat strength. Even if they don’t reward us with anything, there’s no way they would turn on us.”
It was precisely because of all that time I spent with Violet Snow that I ended up learning so much about the hellhounds. Thanks to that, I ended up liking the hellhounds and ended up saving that pair of husband and wife.
If I didn’t save those two hellhounds, Violet Snow would most likely throw a furious fit the moment I saw her again.
Thinking back to my time with that adorable puppy, I couldn’t help but think of Numila, Eugenia and Elena as well.
‘I wonder how were they doing right now, it shouldn’t be too bad over there, right? They have so many people there after all. Besides, with Flametail by Numila’s side, I doubt they will face too much trouble there in Abaddon unless someone really strong came knocking on their door.’
‘Even if someone came knocking, Habona’s with them as well. The medusas are pretty strong too. Bacarel and his half-orcs lived there before entering the Prison of the Dead so they should at least count as half a native, even if the location they teleported to wasn’t the same as where they lived before.’
‘They should be fine, right…those ladies…’