Crying was obviously not the answer to my current predicament. After all, I couldn’t even cry anymore. With just a head left, what was I to do? Even speaking was impossible so what else was I to do but quietly wait for my death?
No matter how reluctant and filled with regrets I was, I had to face my fate of being consumed by the Nightmare Steed because he was, in my eyes at least, an unstoppable force that overwhelmed me.
‘I wonder if I will even reincarnate this time…if I die, what if Mo Na also…should I struggle for a little longer? But how should I even fight back? Since this is my dream, perhaps there’s something else I can do?’
Perhaps it was out of sheer curiosity towards my calmness, but the Nightmare Steed didn’t immediately swallow me whole as I had expected. Instead, he closed his mouth and gave me an intent look like cat toying with its prey… ‘I bet he was trying to guess what I was thinking right now…’
“I don’t see in you the fear that you would expect from someone who is about to die, are you not afraid of dying? The others had a truly colorful reaction when they were in your position. Some begged me to let them go, others offered to be a slave…yet I see nothing on your face at all. Are you really not afraid of dying? Most likely not, you’re undoubtedly thinking about how to make a comeback.”
Because I had no way of talking, I couldn’t make my will known but my eyes said it all: I wasn’t afraid at all. Even though this was clearly checkmate for me, and he clearly held the upper hand here, but I really didn’t feel any sort of fear right now. If there was one thing I was concerned about, it would be that I was worried about my loved ones…maybe others would be terrified right now but me…I’ve died too many times already, to the point where I’ve almost become numb to it.
“Ah, I forgot, you can’t talk right now. Even though this world still belongs to you, it’s currently under my control.” He gave me a bored look before saying: “Alright, since you can’t talk, let’s just leave it at that then, you…can go die now.”
Having said that, the Nightmare Steed opened up his mouth once more and got ready to chomp down on the me that only had a head left…
‘I guess that’s it then…how could an ant ever hope to win against a human in the first place?’
However, no matter how much I wished to live, this ending would never change for me…or so I thought. Oftentimes, things in life were never so simple, choosing not to proceed in the way you would envision. This time, the tides seemed to be in my favor as moments after I closed my eyes to welcome the inevitable end, nothing happened…except for the awful cries of that Nightmare Steed.
‘Wait, why is he making all those awful sounds? I’m the one that’s dying here…’
“Ahhhh…” Came the panicked yet short-lived cry after which the illusion of Roscar disappeared. The same happened for Nicole as well who seemed to have never existed in the first place. All around me, the darkness of my dream rapidly dissipated, leaving behind a pure whiteness…and then, I woke up.
Opening up my eyes, I found that I wasn’t actually lying down but was instead standing erect. Because I had just woken up, my sense of balance wasn’t steady yet, causing me to wobble violently. I almost collapsed to the ground then, but because of the innate physical adeptness a devil like me was born with, I managed to forcefully correct my posture in the nick of time.
“Blasted Devil, what did you do to Grand Elder Shade?!” I still hadn’t taken stock of the situation when I was suddenly bombarded by that furious question from Warwraith.
I turned around to face the Warhorse, and all I saw was a heaving horse, glaring at me with bloodshot eyes that seemed to spit fire as they focused on me. Yet amidst all that fury, I sense a strange sense of fear in the both of them. A Six-stars Warhorse Elder showing fear in front of a Three-Stars nobody-devil like me? Would anyone even believe such a ludicrous tale? Not me, that much was certain. However, the moment I turned my head to gaze at the collapsed Shade, orifices all bleeding at the moment for some unknown reason, I finally realized something…I was missing a crucial part of the picture here…
Rather, it wasn’t me who was missing the picture here, it was that something must have happened in the interim where Shade was supposed to have consumed my soul and when he was forced to halt the consumption process. Not only did that cause him to become severely injured, his orifices even started to bleed…truly a frightful display.
“What’s he trying to pull now?” The shock was a little too much for me to handle right now so the addled me could only say this: “If I’m not mistaken, I should be dead…”
‘Exactly what’s going on here, wasn’t he supposed to consume my soul, what is he doing on the floor right now…how did everything end up reversed?’
Thankfully, things didn’t end up all that complicated as before Warwraith and I were even done arguing with each other, the Grand Elder in question woke up.
The first thing he did was to softly harrumph before slowly climbing to his feet. From the slow, deliberate way he pulled himself up, I could tell that there was something up with his condition right now. He was weakened, very much so in fact, as not only his body showed signs of weakness, his psyche did as well.
“Warwraith…don’t be rude…” As he said that, the Nightmare Steed eyed me.
‘Was he trying to throw another dream at me? But judging from how he stopped Warwraith’s hostility, I doubt he intends to harm me right now.’ The staring continued for a long while before the Nightmare Steed sighed in a resigned fashion and said: “To think your soul actually…forget it, it was an error of judgement on my part. You want the blood of those giants, right? Take it then, as much as you want…I just hope that you will spare some for us, since we’ve put in so much for this hunt…”
Still in the dark about what happened, Elder Warwraith was the first to express his displeasure about this new loot arrangement. But the moment he said that, he was strangely silenced by that shout from Shade. The Grand Elder was afraid of something…and that something must have had something to do with his failure to consume my soul.
He was trying to say that something was hidden in my soul…as for what that something could be, only Ferti’nier came to mind. Strictly speaking, Ferti’nier was basically my version of that grandpa who mysteriously aided you along in cultivation as a spirit, in short a Cultivation Grandpa, or just a hack. Even though this cheat-like existence was basically in a comatose state right now…she was still an existence that used to be a Devil King. Moreover, as someone who almost forged a divine core for herself, her spirit was definitely a force to reckon with, even if she had no body right now.
‘If it’s Ferti’nier we’re talking about here, then it all made sense now.’
‘If his current attitude was anything to go by, Shade must have really been dealt a severe blow then and had no choice but to change his tact. He probably found out that I had a Devil King’s soul hiding inside me when he was trying to consume me. At that point, he must have gotten a taste of his own medicine. Under such an unexpected circumstance, he probably assumed that I was a Devil King reincarnated.’
Still, the fact was that I was just an ordinary human reincarnated. A human who just so happened to have a Devil King residing in his soul and just so happened to be the fiancee of a princess of Abaddon…in short, ordinary. So while I might have looked frightening to him, my precarious situation hadn’t changed at all.
Seeing that I hadn’t spoken at all, Shade gingerly raised his head to look at me. Seeing that I was deep in thought, his brows furrowed even deeper as if he was concerned about something.
“I apologize, not knowing of your exalted status was my mistake…I deserve to be punished, if this is able to quell your anger…the spoils…they are all yours…”
Having said that, Shade took the rest of the Warhorses, along with Warwraith and quickly left the vicinity resolutely and without any intention of turning around at all.
Not too far away, Sinmosa witnessed this strange sight as well. She left No.3 and Big 4 in Sasani’s care before galloping up to me.
“Why did they leave? Also, why didn’t they take those three giant corpses?”
From her perspective, all she saw was that the Grand Elder suddenly collapsed for a second before standing up shortly thereafter. In the end, said Grand Elder hurriedly left the scene with Warwraith in tow. This entire sequence of events must have really confused her, I know, because I was confused as well.
“I…was dragged into the dream realm…” WIth regards to Sinmosa, she was a trusted ally so I didn’t want to hide too much from her, but the matter of Ferti’nier was special. “He ended up losing completely…so he didn’t dare to want anything from me.”
“…” Her eyes betrayed her suspicion then but thankfully she didn’t have any intention of unmasking my lie at all. She merely nodded her head and went along with me: “Then you’re sure they won’t come back again?”
“I don’t know, but he specifically said that we could have the spoils, right before leaving.”
“…alright then, I guess this matter is over.” I could tell she was still suspicious but could she really be blamed here? Those giants were a treasure trove of ingredients after all, not to mention how much casualties and effort the Warhorses had to expend in this fight…for them to give up so easily was just…unthinkable.
The fact that I was hiding something was a given but she chose to believe me in the end. “Then I’ll just go and remove the outer covering of those giants, it will be easier to extract their blood like that. Do you mind asking Sasani to bring No.3 and Big 4 over as well, it will be easier to dowse them in blood like that.”
“Alright, I’ll get right on it.”