Regardless of how things were in Abaddon, our situation right now wasn’t going to change one bit. For now, the best thing I could do was to find a way to enter Abaddon as soon as possible…lest I spent several hundred years wandering around here…the lifespan of a devil made such a wait technically possible but still, a few hundred years would be…unbearable.
Having said that, I ended up spending the next half an hour or so loafing around before the hellhound family finally came out of the cave. Leading the pack was Mama Hellhound who looked noticeably livelier now. The hideous gash on her belly was gone and her body was practically brimming with mana. Looking at her, one wouldn’t have thought that she was a dying hellhound just moments ago.
“Words cannot describe the kindness you’ve shown us today, my savior.” Mama Hellhound stood before me with her family and then, prostrated herself along with family.
Being a little puppy, the baby hellhound didn’t take too well to the uncomfortable posture but just as it tried to stand up, Papa Hellhound forced it down once more with a pat of his giant paws.
‘I guess I can’t really blame the kid for that, after all who enjoyed kneeling, barring those who were craven.’
“There’s no need for that at all, please, just stand up first. I have my own motives as well for helping you.” I rushed towards them and tried to get them to stand up with my hands. “Truth be told, we just came from the Prison of the Dead. We intended to teleport to Abaddon but we had a little accident mid way and ended up here. A while ago, we helped some fire elementals and they pointed us in this direction. That’s how we came to be here…”
I briefly retold our story to Mama Hellhound who first expressed shock and then understanding.
“No wonder…actually, it has been over 80 000 years since we last had a devil appear here. Had it not been for our inherited memories, I’m afraid we might not have recognized you at all…”
‘80 000 years since the last devil? Then what was Arca talking about when he pointed us eastwards? Ah, perhaps in his eyes, hellhounds and Purgatory Warhorses were all different types of devils.’
Strictly speaking, they were all devils of the category, fiendish creatures, otherwise known as devil life forms. From a traditional perspective however, they weren’t devils. To most humans, devils were considered humanoids who evolved from the imp evolutionary tree.
In reality, devils weren’t only the races blessed by the seven original sins. The seven clans built around the sins were merely the most well-known devils; there were still other comparatively weaker devil clans such as the Ice Devils living in Gehenna, or the Wendigos who were once humans but became devils due to their cannibalistic acts. Essentially, there were a huge variety of devil types that weren’t known to humans.
“Can you tell me what happened 80 000 years ago, I’m rather curious about that.” I had a ton of questions I want answered but like all things, they had to be done in order. “According to legends, this land was once a prosperous territory ruled by a Devil King. That Devil King suddenly disappeared, resulting in the land’s eventual decline. I heard all the subordinates of that Devil King disappeared soon after as well. Was all that…true?”
“They are, even though I wasn’t there to witness it personally, but my inherited memories clearly held a record of such an event. The details aren’t known but such an inexplicable event did in fact happen and the kingdom fell apart as a result. The kingdom was known as the Demonic Kingdom of Sable Radiance and was overwhelmingly powerful in its heyday. However, ever since its Devil King vanished, the entire territory has remained sealed up by some mysterious power that bars anyone from entering or leaving…”
‘Kingdom? Demonic kingdom? So the devils actually created a kingdom and even had a king?”
“What was the Devil King’s level?” Devil King, words you would normally find in a novel, and words you normally used to describe a powerful being. Such figures were often slain by heroes in those novels but that didn’t mean they were weak at all. Just the opposite, they were terrifyingly powerful, it was just that the main character halo of those heroes were just that overwhelming. It was for that reason that the words ‘Devil King’ immediately perked my interest.
Mama Hellhound pondered for a moment before finally giving an answer: “Devil King…Devil Kings belonged to the realm of demigods…those above the level of Seven-stars were known as Lords, next came the Nine-stars Overlords, and finally the Ten-stars Devil King…”
Just from the terms alone, I could tell how massive the difference between each power level was. As the name suggested, Eight-star Lords were basically commanders while the Nine-stars were the rulers of a territory. As for Devil Kings…they weren’t even mortals anymore.
According to the ranking system of the humans, Devil Overlords were of the same level as a Sword Saint or a Hierophant.
One thing had to be made clear however, reaching Nine-stars gave one the ability to become an Overlord of a territory but it did not automatically grant them the title. Stil, it was basically impossible for anyone to become an Overlord without that level of power in Purgatory. Naturally, that didn’t mean that there weren’t Devil Overlords who were below the level of Nine-stars. While these exceptions were still known as Devil Overlords, that title meant a lot less when used on them.
With regards to the history of Sable Radiance, Arca and Mama Hellhound both didn’t have too much information on that subject. Thus, I was unable to uncover the truth behind the Devil King’s sudden disappearance as well.
In conclusion, the lands of Sable Radiance were now forbidden grounds that barred thoroughfare completely.
Throughout all that, I also learnt the names of Mama Hellhound and Papa Hellhound; they were Sinmosa and Sasani respectively. As for the little puppy, it was nameless for the time being.
Sinmosa was extremely grateful for my aid, and volunteered to follow us on this journey to find an exit to Abaddon.
Her main motive was to repay the favor I showed them; a motive which I didn’t mind one bit. Sasani and Sinmosa were both Five-stars experts and even their child was a powerful Three-stars hellhound. That was in large part due to the elemental core it absorbed at birth. Not only did the core replenish its leaking lifeforce, the core also levelled it up in general. All it needed to do was evolve one more time to become a Cerberus. Naturally, I was more than happy to accept them.
Now that they had become our travelling companions, I took the opportunity to ask about our surroundings as well, before deciding on our next course.
Accordingly, I made the decision to head West. To be honest, it wasn’t even much of a decision at all. The south was the lava lake so that was out of the question for now. The north belonged to the Purgatory Warhorses. Those horses were communal creatures and preferred moving around as a herd —clearly not easy prey at all.
As a side note, the reason why Sinmosa got injured in the first place was because she encountered those horses while foraging for necessities in the north. The northern regions were mostly grasslands and were home to a rare plant known as Flamegrass that boosted the fire element of those who ate it. More importantly, this strengthening effect would not only apply to Sinmosa if she ate it, but also to the egg she bore then. For a pregnant hellhound like her, there was no better nourishment.
Were there parents who didn’t wish for the best for their children? The answer was obviously a no. This hellhound couple was the same as well. They hoped to give their child a leg up in life so they decided to search for the Flamegrass despite knowing that it was a rare herb valued by the Purgatory Warhorses as well.
Initially, they didn’t think that they would have to venture deep into the lands of the Purgatory Warhorses, but because Flamegrasses weren’t often found in the border regions, they ended up doing so anyway. As they cautiously traversed the grasslands, they prayed that they wouldn’t be found by the Purgatory Warhorses. Naturally, there was no god who would listen to a devil’s prayer so they ended up bumping into the horses. With just two of them, there was no way they would ever win against a herd of demonic horses. Thus, they fled with their tails between their legs. The fact that they made it out alive was a miracle in of itself.
However, there was one thing about their story that struck me as strange. Purgatory Warhorses were communal creatures, that much was true, but weren’t the hellhounds communal as well?
If a question needed answers, then it had to asked, that was my motto. “I remember hellhounds being communal creatures as well, are there not other hellhounds in this region?”
“There are…the reason why we had to live alone out here is because…because…” Sinmosa stuttered, word after word. Clearly, there was some kind of reason behind that decision that was hard to say out loud. However, she finally relented under my questioning gaze. “Truth be told, Sasani and I…are siblings…”
‘What the heck! Is it really all right for the two of you to act like that? Aren’t you worried that your child might end being born with disabilities?”
The moment that explosive bit of news hit me, I couldn’t help but turn my eyes onto the little black puppy. As of right now, it was busy playing with Mo Na and from the looks of things, it didn’t seem to have any intellectual disabilities…
‘Ahem. Tripping on its own feet doesn’t count, I think…come to think of it, how did a dog even trip on its own feet? Sounds really difficult to me…maybe that little puppy is actually a genius…in a certain sense…’
At first, I thought that Sasani must have had some kind of intellectual disability, since he couldn’t speak and all, but upon giving it more thought, I realized how wrong I was. I was the one that was stupid instead. After all, wasn’t Sasani the real winner in life? Marrying your younger sister and all that, didn’t that only happen in fantasy novels…
‘A sister, a real life imouto! You b*stard, I curse you to a life of instant ramen without any flavor packets.’
That piece of news was a truly a shocking revelation. Even now, I still couldn’t wrap my head around Sasani’s unearthly fortune.
“Mama, if a pair of brother and sister can give birth, then Mama and I can as well.” Hugging the little puppy in her arms, Mo Na flew over for an adorable little quip: “Mama, when can we have a kid? I want our child to be as cute as Blacky over here.”
“Shoo, stop messing around and go play over there.”
‘This brother is still searching for his pee pee, what are you insinuating by asking me this? Also, I’ve always treated you as my daughter and yet you wish to ride me…I swear I can’t keep up with this world anymore…’
Seeing my ever-changing expression, Sinmosa immediately launched into another explanation about their backstory, fearing that I might misunderstand them if she didn’t do so.