The sight before me caused my body to grow cold. It would be a stretch to say that Ruin was a lover. I didn’t believe the monster felt anything for me other than a curiosity and perhaps as a source of pleasure. I had no delusions that he was special in any particular way. He represented security and peace of mind within me. This demon lair I had made my sanctuary, my home, and not only had that home been invaded, but the one protecting it had been murdered.
Had I killed those guards earlier, acted more ruthlessly, I would have been back here in time. I could have healed him. I could have helped him. I could have… what? Killed Bryson? Reveal myself?
The hero of the human realm, Bryson, must have been sent by the human realm to take care of the Labyrinth, or maybe his mentor had sent him down here to train. I knew I hadn’t seen the boy in a week or two. I would never have guessed that he was working his way down my Labyrinth. Well, it wasn’t like I could sense everything. Even if I knew there were people in the Labyrinth, I wouldn’t know who they were. As for their progress, I hadn’t been back here in over a day, and I hadn’t noticed someone rapidly making their way down from which to grow concerned.
As for Bryson, I didn’t know how I felt about him. I didn’t feel security around him. After all, he was there when I was branded, and he did nothing. Lord Typhon wouldn’t have died if they hadn’t allowed that to happen. In fact, none of this would have happened. In some ways, it was Bryson’s fault. I didn’t say that to absolve myself of my own mistakes. I was very aware of my own involvement in everything, and how I had caused this all myself.
However, at that moment and time, the person I wanted to blame the most was him. He pretended to be a hero from another world, but he was really just a guy with a sword. He wanted to act high and noble, but he only acted that way. Rage, anger, and frustration filled my face, and I didn’t bother to hide an ounce of it with any kind of deception.
“What… did you do?” I hissed at him.
He cocked his head in a way that felt familiar but also distant. “You… have been staying here?”
His eyes seemed to fall on a small corner where I had erected my own creature comforts. Of course, after spending so much time, I had managed to erect a bed and brought in some changes of clothing and the like for convenience. I couldn’t have sex all day on the rocky floor and stumble home in a ruined dress, after all! Still, the appearance of a room was quite clear, constructed out of a small corner of the boss room, somewhat close to the Labyrinth Heart’s chamber.
At this point, the entire room began to shake, and there was a low groaning sound. “Shhhh… my love. We’ll get rid of him shortly.”
I was speaking to the Labyrinth, of course. It wasn’t like I truly could understand it, but it gave me a feeling like it was worried for my safety and distressed over the boss being destroyed. Bryson had a helmet on his face, but I didn’t need to see it to know he had a frown on it.
“There have been reports of monsters growing organized and performing raids on incoming supply trains. Women have been being kidnapped from nearby towns and villages. The Labyrinth has recently been feeding on the local mana much more aggressively. Furthermore, there were signs the Labyrinth was going to release a flood soon. That was why I was sent down here to take care of it. You were the last one who attempted to clear out the Labyrinth, and the result was you were the only one who came out alive.”
“So, it seems,” I responded darkly, adjusting my stance.
“Aria… what you’re doing here is wrong. I don’t know what kind of deal you cut with these monsters or this Labyrinth, but you can’t trust them.”
“I disagree…” I responded with a sneer. “Monsters are easy. They obey. There wants, needs, and desires are all extremely clear. It’s people who can’t be trusted. You… Devon… Demons… Humans… it doesn’t matter. In my world… my real world, people were awful, but they tried to make themselves better. Here, all pretense has been lost. As long as mana exists, there will be miasma. A never-ending cycle of death and creation. Murder and Rape.
“The Demons want to kill the humans. The humans want to kill the demons, and everyone wants to kill the monsters. Yet… you’re all so blind. You think you’re so special and unique. You think you’re all entitled to have the whole pie. But I have news for you. You’re all just the same. You’re all just another cock for me to enjoy. Another body for me to control. You’re all nothing!”
He reached out to me, his voice quieting a bit. “Aria… what happened to you? The Cambions?”
“Oh, so you’ve done your research on me?” I snorted a laugh. “They were a kind and peaceful people, who were slaughtered just because they needed to eat. Meanwhile, humans slaughter countless monsters and animals to do the same and call it justified.”
“You can’t keep going down this path.”
“What path? There are no paths! The path of a seductress? A hero? A slave? The system is a lie! This isn’t some role-playing game with a set campaign! I used to think there was a goal. I used to think this was all heading somewhere. Maybe I’d defeat the demon lord, or kill a dragon, or save the world! However, the system only pretends that there is linearity. It tries to trick us into thinking there is a purpose, that there is a path we all must follow, and choices we all must make.”
“We could still do that! We could still defeat the demon lord, together!” he cried out.
“Do you want to know the truth?” I ignored him. “The universe is large and empty, and nothing we do matters to anyone, least of all some god. It’s a world that wants to rape and murder you. It chews you up and spits you out in a never-ending grinder that it calls life. So… I’m done! Done playing by your rules. Done following the made-up path your gods set for me in this so-called status system!”
“I… I have to stop you…” He responded back, hesitantly, “For your own good.”
“Let’s see if you can!”
I let out a cry as I raced toward him. I remember our first fight. I had only one in extremely questionable conditions. However, I was a higher level now by 15 levels, not to mention 15 more special skill points which had evolved and changed the kind of person I was. I now not only had the Art of Manipulation but also had Illusion Master and the Master of Dreams.
I didn’t hesitate to activate it, and in an instant, my body disappeared from his view. Bryson took a step back, his eyes spinning wildly for me. I pulled out my astral whip and then slashed it out. I hit his ankle and then pulled, causing him to fly forward and hit the ground. He broke into a roll, but I had already dropped it and disappeared again.
The next time I appeared, Bryson was able to block an attack as I swung the sword, I had held on to from the guards I had killed. As soon as he went to retaliate, my body broke into fifteen Aria’s all surrounding him. He spun around in confusion and shock.
“You have an ability like Devon’s?”
All of the Aria’s attacked except for the real one, which rose her hand and cast “Seduction.” He spun his sword at the Aria’s whom as soon as it touched disappeared like smoke. I attacked with a fireball while using sex Paralysis. It hit him in the back, causing him to lurch forward.
“Seduction, Seduction!” I layered spell after spell on him without care.
I no longer cared about what happened to his mind. Being hesitant and soft was what kept putting me in these situations. I would be ruthless now.
“Those won’t work on me!” Bryson shot back, patting he remaining flames still licking at his cloak. “You can’t seduce me.”
“I beg to differ.” I shot back with lowered eyes. “There isn’t a man that I can’t break.”
“You don’t get it…” he shook his head. “You can’t seduce me, because I already love you absolutely! That’s why you need to understand, that what I’m doing… I’m doing for you.”
He sheathed his sword and then pulled out a bow and arrow. Of course, he trained with an elf, so he must know how to use one of those. I created another fireball in my hand, aiming to stop the area directly. He was using some kind of skill because I saw a glowing blackness coming from the tip of the blade. The skill looked vaguely familiar, but I was too busy preparing to stop it.
“Come on! Do your worst!” I screamed.
“Oblivion!” He screamed, but then suddenly jerked his aim to the right.
Where he was positioned, he was standing right in sight of the Labyrinth Heart through the doorway into his chambers. I released my fireball too late.
The arrow cut through the air, seemingly drawing in all light as it flew across the room in a perfect arc. It slammed directly into the dead center of the Labyrinth’s main body. It was too much to ask that he be a bad aim. A black sphere erupted around the arrow, obliterating everything in its wake. Turned away as he was, the fireball struck him. However, I was running right behind it, and I even used dream walker to cause him to blank for a second.
As the Labyrinth died, the ground began to shake, but all I could feel was endless fury. I slammed into Bryson, causing him to drop his bow as he slammed into the ground.
“You fucker! You fucking prick!” I screeched to the point that it hurt.
The last vestiges of my home were gone. My sanctuary was ruined, and my greatest assets were literally obliterated. I could bottle up the hatred I felt at that moment. After hitting his armor painfully twice, I didn’t hesitate to grab his helmet and rip it off his head, only to slam it into his face. I started to bash him in the face, again and again. He tried to fend me off, but first, he was dazed by my illusions, and then he was dazed by his nose breaking and his face being smashed in.
Blood splattered everywhere as I struck him again and again, unwilling to stop as I felt intense anger. It was only when I stopped to take a breath that a bloody hand reached up and grabbed my wrist. I swatted it away, but then I looked down at the broken deformed face of the man I now hated, and my heart sudden broke. The entire world started to shake, and for a brief moment, I thought I would collapse.
The person lying under me wasn’t Bryson. They had blond hair to Bryson’s brown, and bright green eyes instead of brown. Rather, this person’s features were much more feminine. Most predominately though, were two-point ears on either side of her head.
“M-min…” I gasped.
It was difficult to see through all the blood and broke features… but underneath it all, it was unmistakably the elf girl.
“Aria… I… love… you…” She said, the voice modulator seeming to have broke in the struggle.
As she spoke, blood spurted from her mouth, and bubbles rose up as she tried to breathe. My hands fell to my hands, covered in blood, and the helmet she had just been wearing fell to the side. I couldn’t breathe. Mana breath be damned. I couldn’t breathe. I jumped off her, clutching my chest as unbearable pain and anguish flooded through. This was an illusion, right? I couldn’t take it. This was too cruel. She tricked me. They all tricked me! I ran straight to the crack in the wall and began to push my way through.
“Aria!” I heard a cracked voice cry after me, but I kept running.
I felt the crack starting to close. When Labyrinth’s died, they began to shrivel up, much like a spider. Perhaps this small entrance I had made was shriveling closed, or perhaps the Labyrinth had chosen to close it off and spare me in his last moments of existence. Who could say? I barely managed to pop out the other end just as the rock came together and sealed permanently, cutting me off from the boss room, and the Labyrinth in general.
I looked up to see nearly a thousand monsters staring back. Those that had the ability to make expressions had confused or worried looks on their faces. They all came from and lived in the Labyrinth. Its death had touched all of them. A few monsters that had been dependent on the Labyrinth, living off its miasma, but were summoned for breeding or teaching purposes, were already dead.
My body shaking and covered in blood and dirt, I stood back up only to activate Perfection. I looked out across the crowd of monsters, my family, with my chin raised and my back straight.
“Get ready. The battle starts now!”