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Chapter 691

As I was brought out onto the stage, my eyebrows began to furrow as I saw more people lined up. Then, they widened in shock.

“Deek!” Carmine cried out before she could help herself.

I shook my head and gave her a look. Even without Slave Communication, she seemed to catch my meaning. She immediately glanced up at the observation box where Lord Reign would be. He was sitting there, but his attention wasn’t on the arena. Furthermore, so many people were shouting, that no one noticed her slip. I was still confused though. Why was Carmine there? It wasn’t just Carmine. There were six others on the stage. This included Bernard and a few others that looked like gladiators.

Don’t tell me that he was going to make me fight the other gladiators? Knowing Lord Reign, or rather I should say the Demon Lord who controlled Lord Reign, this would exactly be in his motif. Glancing up at the Lord, I wondered just how much free will did he have? Was he just a pawn, or was he controlled by the Demon Lord to the extent that every action was the Demon Lords, kind of like how Octius had once used my body?

I heard a click and looked down with surprise to see the guard undoing my restraints. I didn’t feel any particular excitement though. This arena housed many violent and powerful prisoners. If it was easy to escape, then anyone could get out of it. The only exit was sealed with bars and protected by four Knights.

“Don’t try anything funny.” The guard also nodded toward a line of archers with crossbows aimed down in our direction.

Since the matches were optional during this tournament, and not between prisoners, those archers usually weren’t there. It was clear that their sudden presence was making the gladiators on stage feel a bit discontent. However, no one provided them an explanation.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” Lord Reign’s voice echoed out over the crowd, causing it to finally settle into a bubbly quiet. “Welcome to the finals of the Alerith Tournament!”

There was a bubbling of excitement and cheering. Meanwhile, I was poked in the back and encouraged to move up onto the stage. With an eye on the archers, I reckoned there was no gain in being difficult. I walked up onto the stage, taking the seventh place on the stage, opposite Carmine. She was still shooting me looks out of the corner of her eyes, but she didn’t look any less curious than the other six contestants. Bernard, in particular, was watching me with a distinct frown.

“The finals always take the form of an endurance run. Three days of nonstop battle until a winner is finally produced. However, this year, I’ve decided to change things up a bit.”

His words caused the contestants, as well as their representatives and owners on the stands, to looks around suspiciously, although this only seemed to excite the crowd even more.

“There will be seven contestants in all, the six conquering gladiators…” Lord Reign then smiled at me. “And a traitorous lord.”

“A traitor?”

“Is that who he is?”

“They should just kill him then.”

“Please… my city, remember, all men deserve a chance. Even a traitor like him should have a chance to return. Am I not magnanimous?”

“Cut the crap, what are you doing?” Bernard shouted, no longer holding back.

Some people gasped, some laughed, and some shot Bernard vicious looks, depending on their feelings about Lord Reign. The man himself seemed completely unaffected.

“The finals… are a match where you put your life on the line!”

Chapter 692

As he spoke, a group that appeared to be mages had started rolling some kind of large device into the arena in front of them. It looked like a mirror frame without the mirror. This caused me to frown, feeling even more confused after his last words.

“Death? I never agreed to this!” One gladiator shouted.

“You can’t do this!” Someone from one of the manager boxes yelled out.

“Haha! What are you saying? Whether you die or not is entirely based on you. I’m not saying death is mandatory, just that death is a possibility.”

“Please, my liege, speak clearly! What is it that you want us to do?” An older bloke with a beard who seemed to be a more respectful gladiator cried out.

Lord Reign seemed to be relishing in people’s shock and confusion, but he finally put up a hand and willed the room to silence.

“Very well… for the finals, you will all be sent… to another world!”

My mouth dropped slightly, especially given his bold claim. How could I not be surprised by such a declaration? Other responses ranged from confusion to incredulity.

“It’s a dungeon!” He declared. “Although it’s unlike any dungeon you have ever seen. This dungeon doesn’t exist in levels, but locations. It’s an entire small world… a dark world. In the center of that world is a castle. You should consider just being allowed to go as your reward. After all, this place is filled with riches beyond our wildest dreams. It will be up to you to acquire said riches yourself. I should also add, that the reward I’ve promised is within that world. The first person to rescue the dwarf and take the treasure will naturally be the winner.

“We have to get the reward ourselves?” One of the gladiators growled darkly.

“Correct! There is a castle in the center of this dungeon. This castle is protected by a terrible dungeon boss. However, there is also a Portal in the treasure room that will return you to this world. It will remain open for three days. As long as you step through, you will live, and get to keep whatever rewards you found.”

“We were never told about any dungeons!” Bernard said unpleasantly.

“How could I call any of you a true champion just because you’re the best at fighting one on one? This is a time for you to truly put all of your skills to the test!” Lord Reign seemed surprisingly patient. “This way, every participant has a chance to bring home an award for their efforts.”

“And have a chance to die!” A youthful gladiator with moppy hair cried out.

“With great risk, comes great reward! If you do not like it, you may leave, and give up your chance.”

This caused even more displeasure upon the finalists.

“Look at it this way.” Carmine suddenly spoke up. “Bernard is undefeated. None of you have a chance of defeating him. Second place was always your best outcome, but now, there is a chance at first.”

Bernard jerked at those words, and I was a bit surprised she spoke as well. She wasn’t wrong though. Everyone was treating Bernard as if he had already won. Some people were already starting to call him the Gladiator Hero.

The other men seemed to realize this as well. One by one, their mopey expressions started to grow a bit determined. In a fight like this which was more like a race, every person had a chance at winning. Bernard’s greatest strength, being the best fighter, was no longer an advantage. Lord Reign’s expression turned pleased as the contestants were convinced of this.

“So, will any of you step out and not fight?” Lord Reign asked. “Put your hand down Deek!”

“Tsk… knew it.” I mumbled.

Chapter 693

The seven of us stood in place while the mages finished setting up the Portal. They then placed several reagents and began a chant. Whatever this dungeon was, this entrance was far different than anything I had ever seen before.

There were many things about entering this dungeon that I didn’t think the other gladiators had thought about. They were blinded by being so close to winning, and also the promise of rewards. After all, they had all been battling for months now, and they were so close to the end. Just three more days and a winner would be announced. Furthermore, this was some unvisited dungeon unlike anything ever heard of, so the awards had to be immense. Even without them, Lord Reign had managed to put his rewards in there for the taking.

For me, my thoughts were on the lack of Resurrection, the build-up of miasma, and the level of monsters. What was the point of these rewards if an undefeatable dungeon boss was in the way? I wasn’t scared, but I was cautious. I didn’t like the idea of jumping into the unknown. I couldn’t even understand how just a couple days ago, I had been so impulsive as to enter the castle. I wouldn’t be captured right now if I had been keeping a cool head.

I was very curious why he decided on this method for the finals. I almost felt like he had done it specifically to entrap me. I also had a feeling that even if I jumped through that portal, he wouldn’t just let me go as he promised. That means that I needed to find some way to escape while I was still in the dungeon. For everyone else, this was a three-day scramble to be the first. For me, it was a three-day trek to find a way to survive.

“You will all be teleported to a different corner of the world. You must trek across the world to reach the center castle and defeat the Demon Lord before the time is out. Once the portal closes, you will have no way to return to this world. This cursed lore is very special. It bubbled off and broke away from our world ages ago. That’s why it’s more of a world onto itself. This portal is the only way to travel between them. You may be the only humans to ever travel to this dungeon again, so make the best of it.”

As if he had timed his words perfectly, it was at this moment the portal opened. It opened a bit like a flower, the edges unfurling out far past the gate itself. It was alluring and welcoming, but this was a dungeon, so that was likely done on purpose as a calculated trap. Dungeon’s fed on mana. A detached dungeon like this… I didn’t know how it sustained itself. Its miasma had to be compromised. It might even be dying and desiccated much like Terra’s dungeon had been.

Either way, it would want to suck in and consume any creatures it could find to consume their mana. It was a dungeon trap like a Venus flytrap.

“Is three days enough?” One of the men said nervously as he looked at the glowing entrance with awe.

“Oh… I forgot to mention that part.” Lord Reign let out a laugh. “Time moves differently in this world. You’d never be able to reach the exit in three days. However, three days out here… are three months in there!”

“W-what?”

“S-seriously? I didn’t sign up for this!”

“Oi! What are you doing!”

While we were focused on the pulsating flower of light, a line of guards assembled behind us. They were now moving forward with their pikes down. They were forcing us into the dungeon. These men had already given up their chance to escape. As for me, I never had a chance. I wasn’t impulsive, but since I had no choice, I might as well get on with it. I met Carmine’s eye once, and then I took three quick steps and leaped into the light. I was the first one to enter.

[You have entered the Twilight Dungeon. Destroy the lore to break the curse, or complete the lore for extra dungeon points and a blessing!]

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