“I think you owe me an explanation and it better be a good one.” My finger shot out and pointed towards the closed doors of the tower as I said so.
“I got curious and entered…” Nine-finger pitifully lifted his head as he said so, his body pinned to the ground by One-eye’s leg. “It was really scary inside…there were those flying stuff that weren’t afraid of my attacks…”
“So you came running back with them in tow?”
Don’t give me that puppy dog look, you aren’t the least bit cute!
“Did you find anything else in there other than vengeful ghosts?”
“I found a strange chest on the third floor but just as I was about to open it up, those flying things appeared. They passed through the ceiling and started chasing me. No matter how hard I hit them…it just didn’t work…it was terrifying!…”
Those memories seemed to have scarred him terribly as he began trembling just from recalling them.
The guardians appeared only when he tried to open the chest? If Nine-finger was able to stumble all the way up to the third floor without being challenged, doesn’t that mean that all we had to do was kill off those two ghosts to get that chest? Plus, guardians equals treasure and treasure equals let’s go!
Just to be safe, I reconfirmed this with him: “You are very sure that those two ghosts were the only enemies in that tower?”
Nine-finger: “Definitely! If there were other ghosts or monsters in there, wouldn’t they all have attacked me at once?”
Logically speaking, that was true but unexpected situations were considered unexpected precisely because you couldn’t expect them.
Anyway, it seems like there aren’t many defenders in that tower so I’ll just bring my elites along.
Having made this decision, I turned to Nine-finger: “Lead the way. No.3, Big 1, bring along another 10 more large imps and follow me in. The rest of you stay here and await further instructions.”
“Master, I wish to enter as well.”
One-eye knelt down in front of me as he protested my decision. All this while, I had groomed him with the intention of making him my commanding officer. However, this wasn’t because his combat strength was low. Just the opposite, his strength was definitely among the top few in my army. The reason why I chose him was due to a lack of options. Within this army, the only one who had a decent head on his shoulder was him.
Take for example No.3, he loves to use violence to solve his problems. He was a typical muscle brain who didn’t think much. No.5 was really lazy, to the point of being too lazy to gather food from the corpse mountain. He always instructed his subordinates to bring the food to him in a doggy bag. Big 1 was slightly off his rocker and as for Nine-finger…he’s a potato.
One-eye was definitely the better option out of all of them. Only by a bit though…even among dwarves, there was always a tall one.
“No way, you still have to command these devils.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Plus, you have the strongest leadership abilities within our group. You shouldn’t squander that talent.”
“…Yes, your subordinate will manage your army well. Master doesn’t have to worry about this as he goes on his exploration!” One-eye was extremely touched by my praise and readily accepted my order. From the looks of it, he would accept anything I said right now.
“Move out. It’s time to have a look inside.”
Having settled One-eye, I led our team towards the tower. Nine-finger gingerly followed us from a slight distance away. He clearly didn’t want to go back in. and attempted to find an excuse for this.
“Master, as you’ve seen, those two ghosts aren’t afraid of our attacks…”
“That only means they are immune to physical attacks, magic should work.”
“But I don’t know any magic…”
I shut him up with a sharp glare as I said so. Seeing my stern expression, he immediately shut up.
As we approached the tower, the deathly coldness within the air grew stronger. Just by standing at its doorstep, I felt like the temperature had dropped by several degrees. The surroundings of the tower were surprisingly tidy and clean. Outside of the usual messiness of a ruin, there weren’t any corpses or items scattered around.
From up close, the tower seemed really oppressive. Its 30 meters tall reverse V and ghostly green exterior gave off the oppressive aura of a dark forest.
“Go open that door.”
As I signalled to Nine-finger, his face immediately fell. He pointed at his face with his right hand as if to say “You want me to go?”. I glared back at him, clearly not happy with the stupid look on his face.
“Alright…I’ll go…I’ll go.”
Nine-finger gingerly approached the giant door and lightly pushed it as if he was a burglar breaking into a house…Naturally, it didn’t budge an inch, putting him in an awkward situation. He gave up his stealthy approach and heaved on the large door. The metallic hinges on the door creaked as it finally began to open.
We were greeted by a vast hall that was empty except for its messy floor, scattered with the shattered remains of various objects. There was a spiral stairway near the side of the hall, leading upwards.
Each floor was 10 meters tall and filled with various rooms of unknown purposes. This continued up to the 7th floor where the tower was broken in half which meant the highest we could climb up to was the 7th floor. As for the other half of the tower, we can leave that for when we finish this half.
The entire tower seemed to be made of a slightly luminescent material which gave off a bit of light. While it wasn’t much, it was enough for us devils.
Our excursion proceeded uneventfully, as Nine-finger said, all the way up to the third floor. Within a few minutes, we were in the room where he found the chest. It was large enough to accommodate all of fourteen of us, and even had enough space for us to brawl. Judging from the operating table in the center and the strange objects scattered all around, it seemed to be a large laboratory.
Right at the back of this laboratory was a chest made of a special material. What made this material special was the unique color it came in. When Nine-finger mentioned the chest, my musings revolved around whether it was a gold chest, a silver chest, an iron chest or a wooden chest. They definitely didn’t include a bone chest!
That’s right, that unique color was the easily recognizable creamy white color of bones.
“Master, this was the chest I encountered. One touch and those ghosts will come flying out…” Nine-finger tried to hide behind my back as he said so but was given a shove by No.3 and failed. If it had been a normal situation, the two would’ve gotten into a fight, but the eeriness of this place suppressed any protest by Nine-finger.
As for who was to open that chest, that duty naturally fell to Nine-finger. He trembled as he slowly approached the chest, clearly he was deathly afraid of things he couldn’t harm.
Just as he touched the chest, a group of vengeful ghosts entered the room from entrances only they could use, the ceiling, the floor and the walls.
S***, there’s 15 of them! I’ve been had!
“Protect the Master!”
Big 1 and No.3 immediately formed a defensive formation around me as they wielded their bone clubs. The usual confidence that holding these clubs gave was noticeably absent today as they did so.
“Hey, hey…let me in…” Nine-finger loudly wailed from his vulnerable position outside the formation. No.3 who had been annoyed with him for a long time, kicked him once more towards the vengeful ghosts. It was a delicate looking teenage girl wearing a maid dress. As she saw Nine-finger tumble towards her, her face distorted into a wicked smile. Her normally delicate and cute face was replaced in an instant by a savage face.
The vengeful ghost pounced onto Nine-finger in that instant, her slender white arms transformed into a pair of ink black claws as she did so. With a vicious swing of her razor sharp claws, Nine-finger’s hide was instantly ripped through, and blood could be seen flowing out of the gash.
The vengeful ghosts were able to inflict physical harm!
While Nine-finger had been scared stiff by the ghosts, this pain brought him back to his senses. He instinctively counterattacked and actually managed to send the ghost flying!
“This…” He stared at his arms in disbelief. Seeing another ghost approach him, he attacked her preemptively, his confidence boosted by his recent success. However, his fist passed through the ghost, and the ghost passed through his body harmlessly. As it passed through his back, the black claws appeared once more and viciously slashed at his back.
“Why isn’t it working again…” Nine-finger’s confidence was quickly crushed by this turn of events as he began avoiding the ghosts once more.
“Just defend first and avoid getting hit. When they try to attack you, counterattack.” Those two attacks had given me an idea. Those ghosts were able to inflict physical damage despite their incorporeal form because they assumed a corporeal form as they did so. As long as we made use of that opportunity to attack, we can defeat them!
The devils immediately understood my hint and took up a defensive stance. They waited for the ghosts to attack before counterattacking. The results were good as expected. When they swapped injuries with the ghosts, their ethereal bodies shimmered out of existence in that instant, kind of like those old televisions which experienced a temporary loss of signal. After getting hit, those ghosts weren’t as eager to attack the devils anymore.
Their biggest advantage was their immunity to physical attacks. As long as we countered this advantage, the ghosts were merely at the level between a small and large imp.
It was at this moment that an impatient imp swung heavily at a ghost with his bone club. The bone club passed through his target harmlessly as if he was hitting at smoke. Making use of this momentary vulnerability, the ghost materialized and attacked with its claws, leaving a horrific gash on his face, any closer and it would’ve blinded him.
He gritted his teeth and swung out once more despite the pain. Unfortunately, he was too late as it adopted its incorporeal form once more.
I aimed my arrow at the now incorporeal ghost and fired. The black mass of mana pierced through the air in an instant and shot right into the ghost’s body, dispersing her body.
The vengeful ghost gave a mournful wail as it dispersed into the air, leaving behind a black pearl.
The other vengeful ghosts cried in unison as soon as that vengeful ghost died. It was a piercing scream that overwhelmed our ears and brains. We immediately covered our ears to prevent ourselves from going deaf.
The vengeful ghosts didn’t try to attack us during this moment of vulnerability but instead merged into an ever growing mass of ghostly energies. The new ghost finally stopped growing when it congealed into a 5 meter tall deformed apparition!
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.