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Chapter 685

“What are you here for?” A guard demanded as the group of us approached.

“We’re here on orders from Lord Reign. I was told to report inside immediately!” I declared, wondering if this would work at all.

The man’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “I didn’t hear anything about this.”

“Oh, yeah, communication throughout the Reign’s guards is awful, isn’t it? Why, the other day, I ended up spending half the day guarding a shrub. I’d still be guarding it now if a Knight didn’t walk by and correct me!”

He leaned closer to me, and I fought the urge to back away. I had thought we could talk our way in. However, it wasn’t like the girls weren’t prepared to knock them out swiftly and silently. We picked a time to approach when the street was nearly empty, and the girls had grown very skilled at knocking out enemies. Miki could also wipe their memories and keep them asleep. In short, they’d never realize why we were here.

“I know exactly what you mean!” The guy suddenly laughed, slapping me on the shoulder. “So frustrating. How are we supposed to keep the lord safe when our left hand never knows what the right is doing, right?’

“Of course, of course!” I laughed along with him.

“Well, go on, then. I won’t be the one getting yelled at if you end up late on your duty.”

“Have fun!” I waved as the group of us walked in past the two men.

Once we were out of earshot, Miki shook her head. “That actually worked?”

I already had my menu open. Unfortunately, the menu’s scan function was blocked by closed doors. In the dungeon, there were no closed off parts. It was a fundamental aspect of dungeons. If they just shut off pieces of themselves and left people to be forever trapped, then the risk of entering a dungeon would lead people to never enter them. They had to always be able to escape under their power. Of course, that didn’t mean there couldn’t be death traps and temporary blocks, such as the one I experienced with Lydia in our first dungeon.

A castle was different. It was a hallway with many closed doors. Perhaps, it was a winding labyrinth, but instead of me getting a massive view of everything the second I walked in, I had to unlock the map one room at a time. I supposed in that respect this felt more like a video game than even the dungeons. The one good thing is that doors didn’t block Sense Life. They existed somewhere the Map didn’t cover, but I could usually guess if a room contained people or not.

 Furthermore, it was a simple thing to avoid running into people. Since my main goal was to flesh out the map, the more I unlocked, the better I felt. If we did find a map or schematic of the castle, that would instantly unlock everything. That would probably be the best action, but I couldn’t guess where we’d find one.

To speed up our mapping of the keep, as well as our search for any documentation related to the Knight tokens, I had the girls break up into smaller groups and check down hallways. Of course, I told them where people were with my Sense Life, and even without my direction, Shao and Raissa were experts at moving around unheard, and Ruby and Salicia at least had the experience to keep low and not make any reckless moves.

We steadily started to get a full layout of the castle. As we continued without incident. My confidence grew. It was time we figured out where the treasure room was.

Chapter 686

Finding the treasure room wasn’t that hard, after all, I had Detect Treasure as part of my Dungeon Diver abilities. Although it wasn’t nearly as sensitive as Sense Life, and it wasn’t until we were deep in the keep that I finally found where the treasure was. Just because I knew where didn’t mean I knew how to get to it. In the dungeons, I had to backtrack numerous times to find some treasure stashed at the end of a dead-end. This was a treasure room though, so the entrance was probably hidden. There might be traps and guards as well, but that was nothing a Dungeon Diver wasn’t used to.

 I guessed that the treasure was located under the throne room, but that only came from gaming and years of lazy game design. As we explored more of the Map, I was able to confirm that the throne room was indeed on top of this trove of treasure. I didn’t get too excited or greedy. After all, ransacking the treasury was only our third goal. First, we found Lord Reign’s room.

As the girls went through it, looking for any incriminating evidence, the smile on my face started to slip. I started getting a bad feeling as I realized something was off. While it was true that I was avoiding the guards with pinpoint accuracy using my Sense Life, it stood to reason that someone on the other side would have a similar ability. They’d grow suspicious of our erratic movements and send someone to investigate.  Furthermore, there were far too few people in the castle.

We should have had a much more difficult time moving around, but we were able to get into just about every area of the keep without too much struggle. Even with Lord Reign out and most of his Knights sent out of the city to search for the notorious Reign’s End, this still seemed extremely suspicious.

With a sinking feeling in my gut, I decided that it was time to leave. We had explored a good portion of the castle at this point. If Lord Reign’s room didn’t contain anything incriminating, then it was likely somewhere we couldn’t reach. As for the heist where we would attack the treasury room, that could be planned at a later date when we were more prepared.

“Everyone,” I announced, “We’re going to go back now.”

“Really?” Miki asked. “We’re having luck though. I found some letters. I just need to read them and see if they have value.”

“Take them with you.”

Technically, stealing documents would alert him we were here, but the bad feeling inside was growing worse.

I lifted my hands and began to cast the Portal. Just as the Portal was about to form, the spell suddenly winked out.

“Ah? A counterspell?”

It wasn’t that my Portal couldn’t form, like with that artifact that Alysia used. Instead, I had cast the spell, and it had been interrupted by a counterspell that prevented the magic from working. This was the first time I had ever encountered the thing, but I knew what it was instantly.

“Don’t leave so quickly, we have things to discuss.” A dark and malevolent voice seemed to fill the corridor.

I spun around to see a man standing at the end of the corridor. The girls behind me all gasped at the same time as if they hadn’t even noticed him despite facing his direction until the moment he spoke. He was wearing a black cloak with the hood up, and just looking at him I started to feel fear.

Chapter 687

I was instantly wary of the man, and I heard my girls pulling out their weapons as well. He didn’t appear on my Map at all. His ability to hide his life was greater than that of even the Champion. Worst of all, I didn’t recognize the man. He definitely wasn’t Lord Reign. When I didn’t speak, he let out a soft laugh that made my skin crawl.

“So, you’re Lord Deekson.” He said, and when I reached up to touch my face, he let out another hoarse laugh, lifting up a necklace in his hand. “Don’t act so surprised. After all, you’re the one who gave me this little gift to see through illusions.”

“Lord… Reign?’

“Lord Reign is merely a puppet I use. You could call me the true ruler of Alerith.” He sighed, pulling back his hood.

“A demon!” Shao was the first to cry out.

He glanced at her, and then his eyebrows rose. “I heard a Demon Lord appeared in the Capital. They never told me she was so… beautiful.”

Shao instinctively grabbed onto my shirt. The other girls got close to me too. I had ordered them all to hold hands and get close through Slave Command. Only Ruby didn’t get that command, but she picked up on it. The man watching us seemed to notice the group as well.

“Are you leaving so soon?” He grinned.

“Return!” I cried out.

“Why don’t you stay awhile!”

The world began to warp as I disappeared from that place. There was no time to cast a Portal. If this guy could counterspell, then he could keep stopping me from casting Portal. Thus, I had to depend on Return. It worked almost instantaneously. The only set back was that it was one direction, taking me back to my mansion in Chalm. Given the danger I was feeling from this man, I didn’t take any chance with anyone.

However, while I said it worked almost instantaneously, it turned out almost was the problem. As the group disappeared, a hand shot through and grabbed my neck. I felt like my soul was being torn open. I didn’t even understand how, but he was forcibly keeping us from returning. Fear started to push through me, but with fear, I felt an intense determination.

He had a grip on my neck, there was no saving me, but if I stayed, so would the girls. With a scream, I wielded miasma like a blade, cutting it into my soul. Like a rabbit caught in a trap chewing his own leg off, I too cut a chunk of my soul off, and sent it with Return.

“Hmm?” The man holding my neck made a surprised sound.

The entire act only lasted a second, but when it was done, the girls were gone, and I was still there hanging from his hand. The pain was so intense I felt like I was about to pass out. That’s what I thought, but where his hand was, I felt even more pain. A burning sensation wrapped around my neck, and I felt like I was being choked. All of my life was leaving me, and I felt like death was imminent. Furthermore, he had a grasp on my very soul. If it died, there was no resurrection.

Just as fast as it started, it stopped, and I was dropped to the ground. I let out a painful gasp for air, grabbing at my neck.

“That was just a little seal. I wouldn’t have you taking off on me again, would I?” The man chuckled. “How interesting, you actually wielded miasma. Could you be… no… that’s impossible.”

“Wh-who are you?” I demanded, coughing painfully.

“I am Lord Aberis… the real Lord Aberis.” He said, grinning malevolently at me. “I’m the Demon Lord Aberis!”

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