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“Lord Hargreave ? Lord Hargreave ? Are you and Myra okay !?”
“Yeah, we are fine !”

My eyes projected a sharp afterglow in this darkness as I spin horizontally. Knocking back a creature in the dark underground network. Because of her impulsiveness, we had been completely separated and only two of us under heavy assault.

I could feel a heavy wind behind me as well as many presence around but limited to only half of a meter. Even when I landed off my blade somersault, I could feel damage done to my back, indicating more enemy than I had felt

“If it had come to this….”

Assistance ? Obstruction ?

I closed my eyes as I browse my extended memory, what kind of tribe or warrior that has the ability to fight efficiently in the dark ? while my surroundings itself is full of slithering and skittering sound, I had been completely static.

“Wake up, Sleepy head ! We are in dire situation, no time for dozing off !”

Myra’s shout fell on my deaf ears while I was absorbed into my thoughts as I put a finger on my forehead. Let’s see, it’s not necessary for a living thing, well…maybe….

“I gotcha”

I stabbed my claymore backwards, causing a spurt of blackish liquid and painful squealing to sound off while I could feel my vision turned into a thermo-vision. Being said, there is one tree out there, which has roots that searches for water independently, using heat as guide to locate water.

“Dark Tree:  Water-seeking Roots”

I pulled my blade and thrust it upwards, hitting a kind of Antlion that has been spitting acids from the ceiling before I activated my thermo vision. It then falls off with a screech as I rip off the blade through, slicing it in half.

“Heey, Myra ? How’s it going for you ?”
“I can barely see things a meter at the front of me !”
“Sucks to be you”

I materialized a knife and threw it at her direction right beside her head that hits a giant spider’s mouth and piercing it to the wall as I smiled smugly and put my hands at my hips, ready to almost boasting as my bad habit. But a gust of sharp wind passes my left as a fallen snake head dropped next to me

“You, don’t get cocky”

She sheathed her blades back to their scabbards hanged on her waist while I look behind, the heat signatures had been running away, seemingly startled because of the sharp wind earlier.

“Well….I think you are really suitable on coming along.”
“What do you mean by that ?”
“Well….You know….”

We continued our way through the underground tunnels, as I am the only one who can see through this darkness. Myra herself was almost tripped around 3 times because of feeble rocks and also brittle minerals down here, but somehow, this tunnel is sturdy enough that it doesn’t fall on top of us.

“I couldn’t have really brought 2500 guys on a suicide squad”

I grabbed her arm and pull her up as she tripped the 4th time while stating my thoughts. She responded with a rather disturbed tone

“Wait, does that mean….You considered the other guys sacrificial pawns ?”
“Yeah, they would die in 5 hours if they can’t even obey orders”

She slapped my hand from her arm as I chuckled but I caught a heat signature below. The moment She started to fall, I jumped and pushed her forward with my body before a flame pillar emerged from the ground, scorching the ceiling open.

“But, I don’t leave the capable ones behind”

********

“Alright, let’s do this. Device: Musician of Bremen”

I casted the device command, I named it musician of Bremen based on that fairy tale from one of the owner’s book collection. I then took a seat on the stool that also spawned along with it. Giving a vibe of a concert.

I tried to touch the keys with my bloodied and bandaged hand, it stung out badly, obviously. I felt stupid because I called Konohanasakuya by playing for more than 10 hours non-stop, and yet I forgot I have to play this time too

I sighed heavily and closed my eyes. As always, a dark and gloom blue sphere-confinement in my mind. I had been talking with my inner darkness for the past 2 years and perhaps could control my powers well even though it has a tiny chance of backfiring and actually burst me to pieces.

The ghastly board appeared as I demanded it to be, floating in the gloom sphere of my own loneliness. In fact, as I am always confined since then, my figure when I closed my eyes or “Dream”, is a dark, faceless, silver robe-wearing  priest that moves as I imagined myself playing Bremen as normal.

I soon opened my eyes and realized that my fingers are moving on their own, feeling no pain whatsoever, as if my blood and injuries are nothing more than decoration. Bremen itself sounded as I wanted it to be. loud, blaring, like a drums of war used on raising morale.

“This is nothing, even that Hellish pit is nothing if I create it anew” I thought to myself as the majestic sound chained one to another, performing a sheet that commanded to strike precisely, but, Why do I feel like something is off ?

Suddenly, a large bright infernal pillar soared to the skies, leaving a trail of crimson flame in shape of enraging volcano. This must be what I felt of something being off from their place…

*********

“Shit ! Run !”
“Volcanic activity !? What the heck !?”

After that large eruption, a dozen of smaller pillars emerged in a fierce succession. Almost like a snake of hellish carriage that is said to bound sinners and take it to hell.

I stopped at my tracks and step behind while Myra took a wall-running route to avoid the fires that appears to spawn randomly, but like it was on our own cost when a large steam poured from the hole the red tongue stroke. Melting my claymore that was in it’s way and Myra’s greaves that it had been seemingly targeting.

My eyes widened as they scoured the holes and the flames while I pull my companion from imminent danger of the vaporizing steam as She frantically removes the remains of her former greaves that already half-melted into a sticky pool of liquid metal.

“What do we-“
“Shut up ! I’m busy !”

I leaped upwards and ricocheted myself through the small gap near the ceiling as the ground turned into a sea of lava, this is merciless, what kind of powerful magician is able to produce something like this !?, Even though both of us has incredible agility, this is still an overkill even with all considering about how heavy the enemy forces are !

I stomped my legs to the wall with great force that makes it burrow to the wall, twice, as I need to make sure this won’t crumble or else, both of us are ended as a rock-material.

Planting my feet in the wall and also supporting both of us with my elbow planted in the same wall, I saw the large field of fire and carcass of creatures drown in the flame, burning of dead flesh.

“Oh my god…is this an assistance ? or….”
“No, all of these were aimed to kill, not to cover us.”
“Figures, But I think I might know how to get out of this”

She stares at me from behind with her amber eyes, seemingly curious when I said I know how this works. Well, I kind of do, because I had seen something similar to this

“Well, Deign you to be my partner on this dance ?”
“…What ?”

I changed the way I hold her, from the over the shoulders to a way a gentleman hold a lady during a ball. By holding her waist itself is already bad enough, because I saw that as a violation of self-impeded confidence. See, even Myra was showing the reaction of my theory, her face turning red, although matching with her pink hair.

“Wh-What are you doing !? In fact, What are gonna do !?” Her voice is flustered all over so much that I ignore as I spawned a clawed knuckle used by one of the martial arts clan. Then, I continued to leap forward and thrust the claw to the ceiling, acting like a grapple hook as I connected the other on her waist to her hand smoothly

“2 step forward ! Go !”
“Wha- “

I slipped from the knuckle as it connects to Myra’s hand, She reflexively stabbed the blades upwards copying me, and not long after,  a steam emerged from the molten floor, causing a hole to be opened right at the space between me and her, had she not moving, she would be dead

“Here I go ! Move by a tempo of 3 knacks ! Go”
“Ugh, What dance is this !? This is more like-“
“Martial arts training !? Yeah !”

I swung forward and entwine my leg to hers and keep up by pulling myself upwards and removes her claw and keep on the tempo by anchoring my bladed hand upwards when she is hung upside down, as expected, the ceiling soil she had anchored upon crumbled a second after.

“Heh, This is one I would expect ! Wind Striker Martial arts that was famous for not touching the floor !”

******

“3,2,7. Moves to 3, Strike to 2 and Spit on 7”

My fingers continued to glide through the keyboard, in a complete harmony, I had actually played a note of “March of Cranes” to the movement three without actually moving at all. But actually, my mind is getting dulled after constant of “Concepts” and also, Impeded recovery of “Device”.

My hands slammed the keyboard with a slide following it, and once again, a smooth simultaneous keys on both sides of my hands. Indicating the end of movement three. I fell on my face on the keyboards as I huffed heavily, being drained of energy more than I am capable of.

“Dammit…They gave me nothing and less than 24 hours worth of stamina ? Such unfairness…” I took a great effort of pushing myself against the keys with great pains in my hands but being slow and things, My body bent backwards too much, causing a cracking noise from my back.

“Fuck…I can’t even….No no no, I shouldn’t, even when I think I so want to throw myself up on a bed right now” I whispered to myself as I wipe my forehead that sweated profusely, trying so hard to drop my hands on the key but in vain as it couldn’t even go from it’s flailing position at my sides.

After a hard minute, they finally placed on their supposed place while my own breathing disorient. The sun itself is already a bad influence to me because of it’s glare that practically melt me. But my ear wiggles even with all complaints my mind made.

“Whoever there, come out. When I’m on a break” I called dubiously although I already knew who it is, a walking exhibition of sexual hormones. Yes, of course. She was left on the camp because she is unsuited for brute force combat.

“You looked busy, So, I did not dare” She slowly comes out of a tent and spoke in low voice. Being said, She is now wearing a less revealing attire, something to be surprised of.

I lifted my head off from the keyboard and spun the stool to look at her with a weak and exhausted gaze that makes her wince and dashes right to the front of me. She looked at me suspiciously with her bewitching glowing rubellite eyes before touching my forehead with her hand that is surprisingly warm.

“You have a sign of shortage of energy…It is true that I traded your freedom with you trying to minimize the casualties, but that doesn’t mean you should just exhaust yourself”
“Hmm….Just as you say, I think none of them are dead….well, as for now”
“Oh ? Is that a context of yours to ask for a reward ?”

I bit my tongue when she answered, By the looks of it, She said “Freedom” yet she doesn’t look like she will let me go in the first place. I screwed up so bad, didn’t I ? Without warning, She locked her lips with mine as she do her work.

What I most feared just happened, My body starts to be invigorated, as my wounded hands start to heal rapidly. As an Apostle, I had the features more than Human or….Well, what I am supposed to be.

After a minute of the interlock, She finally let go while I skid back like a flustered cat, it’s hard to say, it tasted sweet but wet…and fuck, I can’t even describe it.

She licked her lips and touch the corner of the mouth with a quite satisfied expression “an Unique taste, I knew it. Well, this way, it’s a win-win situation, no ?”
“Well…I suppose… But how about….”
“Do not worry, I won’t turn you….yet”

She said something dreadful with a bright smile on her face, although it was a misfire, it still sent a chill down my spine as my flustered emotion just got flushed down the chute and spin back to Bremen’s direction.

“I…I’m gonna continue working…”
“Oh, You sure will.”

******

“Hold on ! Last move !”
“A-A-Alright !”

I hugged her tightly as I leaped down to the floor in a spinning motion, the floor itself is still a molten lava pit but along the way, a myriad of creature carcass was being consumed by the fire, luckily they made a makeshift floor on the top of the deep tunnel floor.

The claws on my hands blazed with great flames from the all heat it was being used from the recoil, heat of the lava, et cetera. Now it is already literally almost  melt. The millisecond before we touched the ground, I let go of Myra but she still holds to my body that hands pierced the molted lava, creating a makeshift platform.

“Now ! Jump !”

I bent my body backwards that she used as a platform to stand and jump to safety, but, before she jumped, She grasped my legs and thus, smashing me to the ground when she landed.

“Consider that retribution of all that embarrassment !”
“C-Couldn’t say it was an embarrassment….it was only a dance….”
“a MARTIAL ARTS DANCE you said “

She turns away from me while I remove my head from the faceplanted position. Her face seems a little red, illuminated by the burning lava. I’m quite worried about her being dehydrated and probably being a dead weight, So I just stare at her with sympathy

“Don’t.look.at.me. especially like that, I will stab you !”
“Eh…but, Your face is kinda red, fancy some water ?”
“It’s not red, you idiot !”

She tried to deny that desperately, well, being able to do that means she is okay….I think. So, I leave it at that and continues walking with her still looking at me with uneasy gaze.

Suddenly, a bright light came from upwards, along with a bright blue fire. Burning the entire glade I and my companion just stepped. Luckily , it just burnt my jacket a little….FUCK !!

“The heck…was that ?”
“What !?”

I snapped to the direction of the glade along with a mighty roar as I saw a giant fox with a burning blue fire at the ridge of the newly formed giant crater.

“….is that…?”

Unseen Factor

“Say….”
“Yeah ?”
“Were you completely serious in your words earlier ?”

I winced when I heard that, for some reason, She chose to sit on my lap after I told her I’m going to continue to play. Well, She looks like a 15-years old so I don’t think that will obstruct “Concepts” but still….

“I mean it…” I reluctantly, and finally said it. I could imagine my face right now, Red and steamy. I just couldn’t say the fact that I was lying but, batshit…

“I see, I see….Then, I…humbly accept.” I snorted a little when I saw and heard her reply and a shy expression on her face, for a second , I think she was cute there for a second but…I can’t let that happen, unless I want to be driven off course.

“So, it was really okay right ? Because I think…You are a royal and I am but a mere commoner….”
“Doesn’t matter. If I want you, You would be brought to the royal demon realm posthaste.”

I can’t even counter-attack. How this girl think is scary, although selfish, but scary. I sighed and scratch my head, because after the movement three, there is nothing else in special to do, So even if I just stay like this, Sakuya would protect them because the flanks are cleared already.

After a short talk about how I would do her, a single, small but disturbingly brutal passed my mind, as my mouth starts opening crankily

“Irene…”
“Yes ?”
“Could you get the book that I had with me but confiscated ?”
She squinted her eyes in response and replied in low tone “Who are you to dare to order me around ?”

I shed cold sweat but managed to keep my composure, after a while of silence, She hopped from my lap and winked while smiling playfully before getting to the camp to retrieve it

“My Dark Gods…”

*******

“Hold on…Hold on…”
“Don’t need to speak, I know already !”

I slowly climbed the hole while leaving Myra down, This is a really tight-rope-walk. Even an Inari was being hostile !? That Tatsumi bastard really must be as strong as Silver said.

I poked my head a little over the edge as a normal residence area came into view. A Normal residence complex of Zipangu, but in this war, it is strange. Because of all this firepower, shouldn’t they all be destroyed already ?

I sneered at the right side, only to be surprised of a skull at the front of my face that has no body structure and charred black. I tried to touch it, but it broke into a powder of charcoal.

Not long after, a Snarl came from the left side as I saw the Giant fox with a huge sealing circle bearing the character of “Seal” character in Zipanguese language around it, but sadly, The fox roared and the circle shatters with a sudden field of blue flames in it’s place.

A Cacophony of screams soon resounded, a painful scream of burnt to death inmates. It seems that was The Monster Slayers or “Onmyouji” that resided at the north side. After it stopped, The Fox roared that I need to cover my ears

Everyone, Change of Plan.” I pull myself up as I tried to communicate through the letter bee, as I acted like in death throes of shambling before dropping dead “Yes, sir ?”
“What do you want to change ?”
“People, I am going to do the last part alone, return to base and save whatever you manage to save”

They all left wide-eyed and with opened mouths with my announcement, do not even able to speak their protest as I lay down on the ground behind the fox.

WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, YOU IDIOT !?”  Myra shouted through her mind, protesting my judgment, I like that, but well…
Y-Yes, Sir ! If you go, What will-“
“Just shut up and do that, You don’t want we return in vain right ? If someone were to die, it’s me”

They soon gulped their words, although Myra could be heard gritting her teeth in protest but immediately runs back into the tunnel network. Yes, I know, The magma should be cooled off right now. While I can feel my consciousness fades away….deliberately.

*********

“Here you go”
“Thanks”

She handed me a familiar book after a moment of absence, an usual shabby looking book that has a tint of red at the end of it’s pages. No matter how I look at it, it’s still sinister, the book cover has a name scribbled all over “Tatsumi” that could mean “Sleeping Dragon”. Yet this book contains something I shouldn’t read in bliss

I knocked my head with the middle finger and start opening the book, 17 august to December 1516 are all normal but, the moment I touched the pages after 1 January, I got goose-bumps and yet…I still flip it although my hands are shaking.

“All done is all that has been done” I flipped the page slowly with a burst of demonic energy gushes out from the pages. If I had been opening this if the other is still here, well, I don’t think I will survive.

“is that ?”
“Yes…”

Irene stood at my side while reading the book that has runic alphabet because of “Memory”. It is said in this book “Tsukuyomi-sama, Let me down the mountain !” and “I was forced to kill a White winged devil, but I didn’t mean it, I swear !”

“White winged….Devil ?” Irene pushed my hand aside and sits on my lap again, starting to take interest in the latter of the mentioned “White-winged Devil”. Even with all this dense demonic energy packed in the page, She still won’t budge ?

“I’m opening the next page…” I gulped a little as she nods. I flip open the next page which suddenly the energy turned into more ferocious as I feel a slight anger.

“I see…”
“Yeah…”

I stood up from the stool after she gets off my lap. Our thoughts are the same. Full-Retreat, That mountain has a barrier of rage-inducting miasma around it as mentioned in that book. I then took the scamper to the direction of The Army, although pointless. Because My legs are already afloat.

I looked up to find that Irene has pulled me up and spread her wings, her head grows horns and her tail has becomes lively it came out of hiding. Her expression looks like a quiet anger that I do not dare to interrupt, even for a second as we flew all the way there.

********

I slowly opens my eyes, my body feels heavy that I can’t even breath properly. But somehow, I am completely calm. Because I know that I am in hell.

I painfully pushed my body off the ground while my other hand holds my head throbbing with pain. The oxygen in this place is limited, so I could do with a lack of blood-circulation.

I proceeded to the next phase, I started to stand up with my two legs. Being with no oxygen, that means no energy restoration for my lung, which if I stay too long here, I will suffocate.

I wandered off this cursed place again, The Cursed Deep Layers of The Dark Gods. Although I could only see this in my dream, this is already heretical enough.

After a time of wandering, I could hear a faint laugh in the distant, a laugh of a girl that I do not have any other choice but to follow. Soon enough, I regret the decision, as many bodies with swapped body parts scattered around with a  little girl with black dress at the center of them.

“Oh ? it is rare for you to come on your own” She waved at me while holding a head with her other arm that She throw away after wards, She then settled on a pile of dead bodies as I get there

“Go on, Sit. What do you want to know ?”
“Well….Rion, Could you guarantee that I can defeat this Tatsumi ?”

She giggles at my question, then with a sharp glare, she replied “Do you start doubting yourself ?”
“Well…I-“
“Disgusting.”

An Anger suddenly lit in my heard when I heard that, no matter how frequent it is, hearing insult from this creatures made me hit my tolerance in a second. Although if I go now, I may get ripped a new one.

She remained silent for a few minutes before letting out a little laugh “You were angry, weren’t you ? It is not good for your body to hold it in. Let it out and do not doubt yourself. It will work out.”

She looked at me as I pondered about what she just said, then I decided to cut off this topic “Anyways, Do you know about…uh, Popularity means ?”
“Popularity ?”
“Yes”
“Well, you are popular enough. Although not with Humans perhaps”
“Seriously ?”

The Dark sky suddenly spotted a single glint of star, although in this term it means disaster. Well, I am prepared for the worst. The star winked at me as Rion’s laugh resounded through as I woke up from my dreams.

“Now, Where am I..?” I wiggled my head to shake off my blurry vision. It took me 2 years to start to control all of this, after the dream, I would be left partially blind for undefined time, but I think I am fine because I can see a large room that around 27 tatami in space.

As I slowly regain my vision, I could hear a marching noise from outside. Out of curiosity, I peeked over a torn slide door, revealing a scene I do not want to witness

Brutality is not an option

“What now….I suppose I couldn’t get near them…”

I crept along the corridor after I took a step back from the door, because of my terror, I unintentionally drop back through a door and hit my head. I hold my head in pain as it was quite hurt to his something from behind “Ow, The heck…”

I looked at my right which my hand has grabbed something, a human head which still breathing and intact ! looking at left and right and behind. This room is filled with people, all still alive ! What does this mean !?

“Would they be used for a sacrifice ? No…if that is what he want, He would just kill them all…” I stood up and exited the room while thinking “If I want to find out, I guess I would just knock him down and interrogate him myself…”

I exited the building in no time, it seems to be a shrine or some sort. Because the properties are all there. Priestess’s clothes, Great hall and also a table to present offerings, it even came with a bell. Well, The rooms are all filled with people…Even with this ominous presence of a huge mountain whose shape is like a volcanic mountain that isn't active again.

I put my back behind a large boulder nearby as the army far at the front of me seems also approaching the mountain, looking at it, it would be wise for me to take a detour.

I didn’t even consider to stay and listen to what they said, but I bet they aren't that important anyway, because of faint voice I heard from them after I walked out quite far to the side of the mountain.

“Well, Here goes” I looked up at a cliff, 5 meters in height from where I’m on. Do not doubt yourself, She said. So, I just jumped and surprisingly, I managed to catch the ridge and pull myself up.

I felt a sudden chill when I just got back up as a sudden swift slashing motion comes from behind luckily I was able to dodge.
“Wow !”

I sidestepped unconsciously while assessing my surrounding to calculate where the strike came from. A rather dense woods with strange feeling, the branches have been shaped like…intentionally. Along with a blackish purple atmosphere surrounding the area I am in, no, the entire mountain.

“Does this purple fog covered the mountain the entire time?”

a Thought crossed my mind as I involuntarily knelt down with a sudden shock the moment I regain my ground, The sensation felt like I was electrified !

“…Excuse me…Do you need something ?”

a Sardonic voice called to me as I sprawled to the ground by a kick, before a sharp sword point is directed to my neck.

I switched my view to the one who is holding the sword, an Ebony-haired Boy that has a few strands of white hair hanging loose at the both sides of his face that seems in his teens, maybe early twenties. With a red left eye and multi-colored right eye.

“You !” I quickly rolled aside, although the point grazed my neck, it was feeling like nothing as I pulled out a long sword from my ring.
But, as I jumped back up, a Cross made of lithe fingers is already crackling with a blinding purple light.

“Fire Release: Emanating Blaze”
“Darkness Release: Vortex of Malice”
As Two different voices echoed through the groves of trees, a swift motion flicked my forehead, I was instantly knocked out, but I could feel I was sent flying a few meters away, breaking trees in the process.

TL Note:

Just what I managed to scrape by between my studies, I got an exam tomorrow and also assignment on next week. So, please leave a comment if I made a mistake, critics are appreciated

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