Ignoring the devastated Gaiuz entirely, Meisian then turned towards me with eyes more serious than I had ever seen. Gone was the frivolity she showed when we first met, instead what faced me were deeply furrowed brows and a piercing gaze.
“Devil, I know you’ve become Gaiuz’s trump card. Back then, I only sent you away to cause trouble for Weiderly on a mere whim, to think it would end up like this now…in that case, I’ll need to you leave, now.”
“Leave? You wish to attack me?” At that, Sinmosa, Sasani, No.3 and Big 4 all put up their guards and ever so slightly shifted their positions to surround the Shadowcat.
Meisian ignored their aggressive posturing and continued speaking, with that same placid expression on her face: “No, I wish to give you what you seek beforehand.”
“What I seek?”
“That’s right, the answer which you’ve been searching for all this while.”
“…” I had to admit, her newfound seriousness spooked me a little and struck me as not at all adorable. Given a choice, I would rather she return back to that brash kitty who addressed us while munching on snacks. Even though there was no shred of propriety to be found in her then, it was kind of adorable in its own way, not to mention interesting.
“If I give you the answer which you seek now, there shouldn’t be any reason for you to stay in this fight, nyah. From that moment on, the matters of our clan shouldn’t concern you any longer.”
Seeing that I was still confused, Meisian then proceeded to elaborate: “I was hoping to simplify this mess by hiring you as my external help but seeing as you’ve now become a hindrance, that clearly isn’t true anymore. I do not have a suitable reason now to act against you and even if I did, Gaiuz would most likely interfere, making the entire mess even worse for me. Given that, sending you away would be for the best, if you catch my drift.”
In other words, as long as I lost the sole reason for my participation in this war, the method of entering Abaddon, I wouldn’t have any reason to stay here and be a hindrance any further. In her eyes, our withdrawal was more a plus than anything else.
To being with, she didn’t want to hand us the answer for free when we first met because there was no such thing as a free meal in this world. Take for example, a person who so happened to dig up a chest of gold bars and thus became rich. While others might have construed that as merely being lucky and not working for his own riches, that wasn’t true at all. The act of searching and digging up the chest was his labor and the gold, his fruits. ‘You reap what you sow’ that was the unchanging law of Earth and of this world as well.
That was why she gave us that mission and just like that example above, while it might seem like I hadn’t labored for this answer…the truth was that I did…so much so in fact that I…sigh, my scruples…
“I remember you mentioning that you all were sent here by a teleportation gate in the Prison of the Dead, am I right in saying that?”
“Can you give me a brief introduction? Like your origins and the situation in the Prison.”
“Alright.” Given that there really wasn’t much to hide there, I told her whatever she wanted to know: “I first started off in the Blood Sea…”
As I recounted our entire adventure thus far, the Princess listened with rapt attention, taking care not to miss out any detail. Upon finishing my explanation, she sighed deeply before falling silent. Even though I still didn’t know what all these had to do with entering Abaddon, I had everyone keep quiet so as not to disturb her.
Not long after, Meisian came back to her senses and inexplicably stated: “So that’s why…I think I roughly get what’s happening now.”
“”Huh?” Hearing her say that, it almost seemed like we were the ones who gave her an answer instead…
“We are currently in the remnants of the ancient kingdom of Sable Radiance, you know that as well, right?”
“Sable Radiance used to be a thriving kingdom till one day, in just the span of one night, every devil, including the Devil King, disappeared without a trace, you know of this as well right?”
“Mhm, I’ve heard of this strange legend as well but I’m not sure how much stock to put into that…how can there be anyone or thing powerful enough to cause the devils to vanish like that…or cause that mysterious barrier surrounding this region…moreover, only the devils were affected and not the other fiendish creatures…”
“How can you be so sure that the Hellhounds or the Purgatory Warhorses are perfectly fine? Besides, such a power does in fact exist…” Having dangled that tantalizing bit of information before us, she then took a deep breath before putting on a rather strange expression: “Long ago, when our clan had nowhere to go, it was the Devil King of Sable Radiance who offered us refuge. It was thanks to his magnanimity that we were allowed a place to live in. The favor that he showed us that day was an enormous one. Back then, our clan desperately wanted to repay his kindness but one day, he simply vanished. Ever since then, our clan had endeavored to locate his Excellency and yet…who would’ve thought that your coming was the clue we needed to solve this mystery…”
“I’m still not too sure what you’re trying to say but since my coming is a revelation of sorts, why didn’t you notice anything when we first arrived in your castle?”
After pondering on this issue for a long while, I finally decided that this tsukkomi was one that had to be tsukkomied.
“Because I didn’t connect his Excellency’s disappearance with the Prison then…”
“In other words, you messed up?”
“…” She glared at me.
“Hey, don’t give me that look, please. Continue, just continue, please.”
She gave me an ‘at least you know what’s good for you’ look before continuing on with her hypothesis. “If I’m not mistaken, that particular Prison of Dead you broke out of was formed out of countless devil corpses…”
*cough cough cough* ‘A prison constructed out of countless devil corpses? So you’re saying I’ve been walking on devil corpses up till recently?! Also, didn’t she just say that particular…there are more of those prisons out there?!’
‘I had considered that possibility before…but to think it was actually possible for an entire realm to constructed of bones…’
“You mentioned being teleported to the Prison after leaving the Blood Sea, right?”
“That’s right, I’m still in the dark about that too, why would the entrance of the Blood Sea link to the Prison?”
“If that is true, then the disappearance of his Excellency…might have to do with that being, nyah…no, it has to be connected to him…” Having said that, Meisian couldn’t help but shiver as if she was frightened by the mere thought of something. She peered around for a second and upon seeing that nothing was amiss, relaxed somewhat.
“What does ‘that being’ mean?”
From her actions alone, I could tell that the being she was referring to must have been someone great else why would she act so timidly as if she was afraid of being implicated in something.
“It’s better for you to not know about his existence, in fact, don’t bring this up in the future…that being is a deity that can easily wipe out his Excellency with a mere thought…”
“By His Excellency, do you mean the previous Devil King?”
“That’s right, the former Devil King of Sable Radiance, and the benefactor of us Shadowcats. Even though he might have had some kind of ulterior motive in allowing us to stay here, it didn’t change the fact that we would have perished without his aid…well all that’s in the past, let’s talk about the present instead.”
I could tell that she no longer wished to dwell on the past of her clan. Well, it wasn’t like doing so would benefit either of us so I decided to skip right ahead.
“Your Highness, I’m rather curious about this Ten-stars Devil King you keep mentioning, can you describe exactly how powerful he is?”
“You really wish to know?”
“See that mountain over there?” Meisian pointed at a distant volcano which had been terraformed to not erupt by the Shadowcats. While we were a good distance away from it, I could roughly tell that it had to be at least over a thousand meters tall.
“Yeah, it’s a rather tall one.”
“If it’s a Devil King, he can slice the mountain in half just with his bare hands.”
‘What the f***, that’s a mountain we’re talking about here, not some tree! A mountain that’s over one thousand meters tall too, you’re saying he can slice it in half, just like that? Are you sure you aren’t exaggerating here? And for someone that powerful to disappear in one night…how strong did that being have to be…’