I had tried to use Return, yet somehow the Demon Lord had found some way to hold me there. I had managed to send my girls on their way, but the cost was extreme damage to my soul not unlike dying. However, I had succeeded and they were safe.
Some kind of seal was around my neck. It wasn’t a slave mark, but something else. It prevented me from being able to access my skills. I couldn’t use Portal, and I couldn’t use Return. I also tried Slave Communication, but I only received silence.
As for my girls, they were in Chalm now, about six weeks travel away from Alerith. In other words, no one was going to save me from this predicament but myself. Actually, some of the girls had Portal equipped the last time I checked, but since I usually cast the spell for them, I hoped they didn’t think of it and put themselves back in danger. A bunch of Demonic Knights grabbed me and picked me up, and I was dragged underground into a keep and jailed. They tossed me into a dark, damp cell with a dirty ground.
There was a dull ache that filled my body from what I had done to my soul. It was difficult for me to recall what I had done. It had been something I did in the moment, desperate to protect the women and not let them get captured. As a result, I was the only one in prison. That’s when I remembered that Carmine hadn’t gone with us either. She must have been in the fight. I didn’t know if the Demon Lord knew our connection. If he did, Carmine might already be dead.
“Widow’s Dungeon.” The Demon Lord’s words brought me out of my thoughts.
He was standing on the other side of the cell, watching me with just a hint of curiosity.
“What of it?” I responded after a few moments of silence.”
“You’re the one who destroyed it, correct?”
Of course, I didn’t destroy it. I completed it. This was a radically different thing, so I didn’t mind letting this lie stick. He could have seen the tattoos on my body. I thought it a little weird he didn’t seem to mention them.
“I had planted that dungeon so long ago.” He sighed. “I have to say, seeing you destroy decades of work was painful. It was especially depressing since I had come so close to finally achieving my goal. I had that Hero King right where I wanted him, and then you had to go about freeing his soul and letting him be reborn.”
“You want sympathy?” I responded, my lips curling spitefully.
“No… I suppose not.” He chuckled. “How could a human ever relate to a demon? Ah! Then again, you have that Demon girl as your slave, right? I suppose that is the nature of humans and demons. One always has to be Master over the other. Well… I don’t intend to be anyone’s slave!”
“How are you alive?” I finally demanded. “Elaya and Xin killed you!”
“Did they now?” His eyes twinkled. “Well, they tried. I’m surprised you haven’t figured it out yet. After all, the lore of Widow’s Dungeon wasn’t just their story, it was my story as well.”
My eyes widened and I jerked up. “You don’t mean…”
He nodded. “I’m the son of the King and Xin.”
“How is that possible?” I asked weakly. “You should be… dead.”
He waved a hand. “It wasn’t so difficult! Right before they killed me, I used the soul of one of my followers and let them destroy him while I attached myself to Xin. Then, she became pregnant, so I infested that child. At that point, I was able to start gaining enough power to influence her.
“Of course, I wanted her to kill the Hero King. The Maid Hero might have slayed me, but it was the Hero King who made my broken lands into a country. So, I had her kill him. The plan went perfectly until that damn Maid Hero gave her life to bring him back! Well, killing either one of them was enough.”
“And then you fled to Osteria and started a war!”
“Haha! That’s the best part! I never even reached Osteria. I had managed to get control of Xin’s mind before we reached the border. I tricked that dumb king and doubled back. While he was busy fighting with Osteria, thinking they were protecting his assassin, I was born, took control of Lord Reign, planted my dungeon, and prepared my trap. It was all perfect.” His face turned into one of displeasure. “Then you came, and mucked it all up!”
“What did you do with Xin?”
He raised an eyebrow. “After she served her purpose, I didn’t need her anymore. I took care of her, naturally.”
I lowered my head, feeling just a bit bad for Elaya. I had hoped at some point I could reunite the two women. If he said he killed her, then it was her soul that would have been killed. There would be no chance for Resurrection, or to even show up in the dungeon for that matter. It’s no wonder that Widow’s Dungeon didn’t have any knowledge of her fate.
I had nothing else to discuss with this man. I simply needed to find a way to escape from him, but he didn’t seem quite done talking to me, as he was still watching me with some interest.
“What is it?” I demanded.
“It’s just… I’ve captured you and have you chained up, and you haven’t questioned what I plan to do with you.”
“What does it matter?” I snorted. “You’ll probably execute me, right? You’ll do something that doesn’t leave a soul behind.”
“You should be afraid.” He frowned.
“Who would fear you?” My expression turned ugly and I spit on the ground. “You’re a coward! If you want to fight me, let’s fight!”
“How interesting…” he scratched his chin. “You’re not you, but you’re you. Is that what you did? I definitely must observe you further. Maybe, I can get an answer to my own… well, nevermind that.”
I had no clue what he was talking about, and it only seemed to irritate me more. As the pain diminished a bit, I found myself growing a bit bolder. I guess that now that things were out in the open and I was captured, I didn’t have any reason to fear him anymore. I only had to defeat him!
He turned and walked away, apparently being done with his conversation. As for me, I gave a derisive snort into the darkness. I had only let myself stay captured to try to find out a bit more about him. Amongst my vast dungeon point store options, there were ones that should be able to cancel a seal with ease. Yes, I couldn’t cast spells, but the blessings and the dungeon store were something else. For example, if I picked up Poison Resistance, I’d have that resistance whether I could access my active skills or not.
However, when I tried to access the store, nothing happened. I tried three more times. Only then, with a frozen look, did I pull back my sleeves which usually hid those markings. It was at that moment I realized why the Demon Lord didn’t mention my tattoos that signified I had completed several dungeon lores, because I no longer possessed any tattoos! My access to the dungeon store, and all the abilities that came with it, were completely gone!
I managed to stay calm and didn’t panic at all. I coolly considered the situation. I couldn’t access the store, and I didn’t have the dungeon lores anymore. However, I did still have the dungeon skills I had selected before it went away. Although I couldn’t use Portal as it was locked by whatever binding he had done to me, I still had four jobs equipped. My ability to switch out jobs at will hadn’t gone away.
So, the seal was able to block active skills, but not skills that worked passively. Although my blessings were gone, I still had the last few skills that I had equipped before I lost the blessing and the access to my store. That meant that I had Four Jobs, 10X Experience, 3 Portals, Silent Feet, Hide Presence, Map, and Reset. I usually had Advanced Learning equipped, but because we were assaulting the castle, I thought it best if I had a few sneaking skills active.
I also surveyed my jobs. It had been a very long time since I had taken a look. White Mage was now 45, and True Dungeon Diver had reached level 50 without unlocking any new job. That meant that there might be some other condition for more Dungeon Diving. Slave Master was at 48. It leveled faster given that it was attached to my girls. True Hero was now at 32, so it was lagging behind the other jobs. I had also gotten Harem Master up to 15, Dark priest up to 15, Cartographer to 7, Linguist to 5, Monster Tamer to 30, Intermediate Magician to 10, and Merchant reached 8.
These levels came both from using skills and also the occasional leveling I was able to do on Bandits or in the dungeon. With a 10X experience, levels could come quite easily. I also got experience from my slaves too, although I wasn’t clear how it all got factored in. I knew I leveled far faster than a normal person though. After all, I hadn’t even been in this world for half a year, yet I already had levels you’d likely see on a skilled adventurer in their 30s.
I tried to gauge my strength in the Adventuring Guild, and I was told that I sat at around a B rank. I think they were still underestimating me. After all, I did defeat the A-rank adventurer Alysia in one on one battle. Then again, that was kind of a conditional fight, and I really couldn’t take credit for all of it. Octius had aided me a lot in weakening her and teaching me, and even then, there was a bit of luck involved.
With these kinds of thoughts, I managed to drag things out until someone came to my cell. It was a day or two later. I actually couldn’t remember how long I had been there. I was grabbed and pulled out of the cell. Chains were placed on my hands and I was dragged forward by several guards, or Demonic Knights, I suppose. The mystery of where Lord Reign was getting all the knights was finally answered, although I wasn’t any happier with that knowledge.
We ended up walking down a large, dark hall for some time. Were they bringing me to my execution? I looked around, trying to come up with a means of escape. Even then, I still didn’t feel fear. I could hear the sounds of constant screaming, but it wasn’t until they pulled me outside that I realized where I was. I found myself covering my eyes as I was brought out into a cheering arena. This was the gladiatorial arena. This is where I was going to face my punishment, as a public spectacle.