Chapter 720: Returning the Favor

It didn’t take long for Ryone to rush into the room, Leowynn having gone to drag her back. When she arrived, and saw the material being displayed on the screen, it did not take much explanation. She quickly closed her eyes, sending a portion of her consciousness to disable the special properties of this ore.

Out of all of the stones connected to the elemental planes, it was the plane of life that was perhaps the most dangerous. If I wasn’t mistaken, those vines wrapped around the mana crystal were leeching its energy, with part of that energy going to keep the connection with those stones wide open. The fact that there were only ten spirit eaters could have simply been because there were no other powerful spirits for them to hunt, and they were thus uninterested in the world.

“It’s done.” Ryone said with a solemn nod. “I went through and sealed all of the other ones that I could find in that layer, as well. As long as we can get rid of everything beyond the scope of the floor that has come through, they can proceed as normal.”

I let out a relieved sigh when I heard that, grabbing the remote and zooming in on one of the spirit eaters. As I had expected, the wolf was merely lounging against a tree, curled up and napping without a care in the world. Navigating with the remote, I found the ‘Smite’ option.

Unfortunately, nothing happened when I clicked the remote. Evidently, the spirit eaters did not count as my ‘assets’ in the same way that James didn’t. And, since they were not technically part of my assets, I could not simply smite them out of existence. “Let’s see what James has to say about it. If he’s not confident in wiping them out, we’ll have Udona take care of it.”

Whether or not James was capable, I was at least confident that the Goddess of Life would be able to snuff out their existence. It may cost her a fair amount of divine energy, but that was not something I was exactly worried about my companions running short on.

James sat within his research lab, preparing a new device to help him measure the primordial artifact. This was a relic he had never seen in his own world, so even he was having to push the boundaries of his knowledge to find a way and study it. Doing so made him quite happy, as if reminding him that there was always more for a scientist to learn.

However, as he worked, he felt a humm coming from one of his storage devices. Raising a brow, he retrieved a pair of blank cards and held them in his hand. When he first came to this world, he had been asked the spirit of this world for three favors. In return, the world spirit had given him three cards that she could use to contact him and ask for favors of her own.

One of those favors was used when he protected the throne of Deckan, while two remained. Now, another one was being activated, with the figure of the world spirit standing within it. “Something major happened… another queen didn’t die, right?” His words caught the attention of his research team, who turned their heads to look, yet he didn’t explain.

The world spirit shook her head, transmitting her voice to him. A disaster has arisen within Fyor that threatens the existence of my sister there. She told me that you were capable of helping.

“Your sister… ah, right, her.” James nodded his head, recalling the world spirit that he had helped back when he was still traveling. Her youthfulness had reminded him of Chel at the time, and he had taken pity on her situation. “What’s the problem?”

The predator from the realm of life is living on the most recently explored floor of Fyor. The spirit said simply, causing James’ eyes to widen in shock. She said you hunted this beast to aid her. If they are not killed this time, they will cause eternal stagnation within Fyor, preventing them from rising any higher than they have already.

This request is already being sent to you through another party. However, I also wish to ask it of you, even if it means burning one of my two remaining favors. This is a beast which has tormented my sister. It no longer has a need to remain in this world.

James offered a small nod, understanding the situation. “I’ll take care of it.” He said, storing the remaining favor card away as this one disintegrated in his palm. It had been a while since he fought a truly difficult battle, and he was worried that he might be rusty. Regardless, if these creatures were on the same level as those which he had killed before, there was at least a thousand level difference between them. Not to mention that he had learned about many new energies and techniques since their last encounter.

“Boss?” Thea spoke up from nearby. “A call just came in from someone in Fyor, asking for your help with something.” The others looked over in surprise, having just heard James agree to take care of another matter.

James simply rose to his feet, vanishing from his position. “Tell them to meet me at Nexus.” His voice slowly faded away moments after he disappeared.

When he emerged again, he was standing within Fyor, looking around at the familiar landscape. He hadn’t personally come to Fyor for so long, largely because it was impossible for him to use the gates that granted passage between each floor. This made travel within this world rather inconvenient for him.

Shortly after he appeared, James felt something tugging at him from beneath his feet. Looking down, he could sense a connection with his shadow that hadn’t existed previously. I don’t mean to alarm you. His shadow seemed to speak with him. It’s inconvenient to talk openly. With your permission, I’ll bring you into the shadow world.

James thought about it for a brief moment, before nodding his head. The darkness within his shadow devoured him, with those around him being none the wiser. In their opinion, all that happened was someone using a unique method to teleport in, look around, and then teleport out.

For James, he appeared in a dark replica of the floor he had just been on, with strange patches of light where there should have been shadows. Standing across from him were two girls. One girl was a demonic youth, a black axe hefted over her shoulder. The other was a mature human woman with black hair and wearing a flowing robe.

It was the human that spoke up. “Thanks for accepting my invitation. I was not expecting you to arrive so quickly, but I am thankful that you did.” She said with a small smile, earning a nod from James as he looked around.

“This is definitely a saint-level power. But… you’ve cut yourself off from the saint’s path.” He shook his head regretfully as he sensed that Thelsa possessed the Perfect Self without the Perfect Soul. As she took things out of order, she would not be able to fully pursue that path.

Thelsa furrowed her brow, not quite sure what he meant. However, the crisis at hand was far more urgent. “I apologize, sir, but we need to be swift. If the guild sends in an armed presence, they will simply be throwing lives away.”

“I know what’s going on.” James said with a nod. “I can sense dimension-distorting properties with this energy. That will make this easier. Can you take me directly to the affected floor? If you can act as the guide to help me find my targets, that would be even better.”

Thelsa hesitated a moment, before shaking her head. “I can take you there. However, the World’s Shadow does not have a tracking function like that. The twenty-seventh floor is quite large, so I would not be able to find its trace without a detailed search.”

“That’s fine. I can get someone else to help me with that. As long as you can get me there, it won’t be a problem.” James assured her, and Thelsa nodded. With a flex of her will, the landscape around them abruptly shifted. If James was not able to sense the energy around him, he might have thought that they left the shadow world entirely.

The land around them was covered with an evening glow, a stark contrast with the floor that they had just left. Raising a hand, Thelsa created a black gate before James. Without another word, James simply exited the gate, the glow of light replaced by a creeping darkness. “Interesting… I’ll need to ask about that energy another time.”

Once he confirmed his surroundings, James closed his eyes. Little spirit, are you there? It’s me.

James… The voice was distant, as if the world spirit was doing its best to avoid this place. James simply smiled.

That’s right. I am here to help, but I need you here to do it. Without you here to attract and guide me towards the monsters, I won’t be able to find them. Although it sounded cruel, this was the only method James had at his disposal to readily locate the spirit eaters.

You… want me to be bait for you? There was a tremble in the spirit’s voice as it processed what he was saying, becoming more distant.

That’s right. Do you trust me to protect you? James stood with his arms crossed behind his back as he asked that question. If he could not gain the trust of the spirit, there was little that he could do. Both he and the spirit knew that it could not truly be killed, especially not here. However, the spirit had tasted the pain of destruction time and again at the hands of these monsters, leaving it with a trauma that was not easily healed.

I… I do. There was hesitation in her answer, but James found it understandable. Slowly, he felt the energy of the world condensing next to him, taking the form of a halfling girl in full hiking gear. “Can you… can you really protect me?”

James simply smiled, nodding his head. “By my dark promise, no harm shall befall you.” A wave of black energy rolled out from James, wrapping around the two of them before slowly settling.

“W-What was that?” The spirit asked in concern, seeing a black mark that had formed on the back of her hand. An identical mark had similarly formed on James’ hand as well.

“The power of the Dark Truth, a powerful energy that I discovered in my past life.” He explained, eyes scanning the distance. “If I make a ‘dark promise’, the energy will act to fulfill it. If I promise protection, any damage taken by the protected target will go to me instead. If I promise to perform an action, my energy will be consumed to automatically undertake the action, whether it was killing something or performing manual labor.”

Her eyes went wide again at that revelation. “You… you will take my damage yourself?” She asked, knowing just how powerful the spirit eaters were.

James simply nodded his head, smiling as he felt a distant energy. “That’s right. Though, I don’t plan to let you take any damage in the first place.” As he said that, his right eye turned blood red, a beam of light flashing into existence to strike at a rapidly approaching spiritual form.

Before the world spirit at his side could cry out, the red beam struck the spiritual form, dissolving it as if it had encountered a wall of potent acid. “The Eye of Ruin.” James explained without being prompted this time. “Another energy like the Dark Truth. This one is an energy that resides within my eye, and possesses no other function than the utter destruction of its target. So long as I understand the nature of my target, I can destroy it.”

The world spirit watched as the body of the spirit eater that had come to consume her dissolved in midair, not even having the chance to land. “Is that the only one?” She heard James ask, before quickly shaking her head.

“N-No… there are nine more. And a lot of other monsters that snuck in from that place. Most are okay, but… there are three that I think need to be destroyed for this floor to operate.”

“Well, let’s get going, then.” James said as he lifted off the ground, carrying the world spirit with his power and soaring off into the distance.

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