The dust which rose because of the attack, penetrated through the darkness. They could see unpleasant pieces of something falling from the sky through their restricted field of vision.
It was the flesh of the Devil, a horrific remnant that drove people into panic just by touching it.
Fortunately, no one was directly exposed, nor was anyone caught in the aftermath.
Lulu, who transformed, was guarding the exploration members, but all the destructive power was concentrated on the Devil.
It was a miracle created by Ignet Crescentia’s amazing swordsmanship coupled with Anya’s sorcery which had used up 3 years of her savings.
‘… it rendered me speechless.’
Sevion Brooks and Perry Martinez had the same thought.
They had seen too many things in the last 5 minutes.
The young man who had performed better than them, both of whom were known to be strong people on the continent, and the Devil, which was still intact despite being hit by the Golden Aura.
It was beyond their imaginations. And it had a strength completely on a different level when compared to a demon’s. 1
However, a swordsman smashed apart such a powerful creature to pieces in just one blow.
And her identity was Ignet Crescentia, the commander of the Black Knights.
‘She isn’t even 30 yet…’
‘To use such strong swordsmanship!’
Ha, Sevion Books closed his eyes.
The scene he saw was vividly stored in his mind now. However, even his own eyes couldn’t see Ignet’s sword.
He couldn’t even understand what had happened. Everyone there felt a similar sense of confusion.
No, not all of them.
His eyes, which hadn’t yet been drained of the golden light, continued to pursue the sword of Ignet Crescentia.
The Devil, and it wasn’t just a demon but an actual Devil, and that too a Great Devil.
The clown, was a powerful existence that appeared long before even the Demon Dragon King, who was known to be the most powerful devil.
Even in front of such a being, Airn still turned his head away.
He had no choice but to look at the sword of Ignet, her body, as well as her aura.
Just like the dozens or hundreds of muscles that work together to move the human body.
The red sphere created by the greatest genius on the continent was also created by numerous auras.
No, it was more than that.
The working of Ignet’s aura had a complex and esoteric process which even Airn, who had the eye to see aura, couldn't understand right away.
‘I think what I see with my own eyes isn’t everything there is to it.’
Airn closed his eyes, remembering Ignet's sword.
He didn't just think about it; he recalled it slowly as if time had slowed down.
Still, there were parts that he didn't understand. He couldn't observe nor understand it.
Was it something his current self couldn’t understand?
If not… was it a power that combined the aura with something other than just aura and the spirits?
Airn, who thought till then, opened his eyes.
It was the moment when his eyes that was filled with inspiration, turned towards Ignet.
“How did you get to the devil first?”
"Say it. All the Black Knights, including the priests and me…. No one has reached the Devil’s source so quickly.”
The complexion of Ignet, who asked this, wasn’t great. It was mainly because she had drained most of her power.
No matter how gifted she was, she couldn’t hold back in the face of the devil.
And taking a break now would be the right thing.
But she couldn't do that properly either.
Because of the young man in front of her.
In front of the monster who had grown and changed so drastically in just one and a half years, Ignet had been feeling a sense of exhilaration after a long time.
‘It is odd.’
It wasn’t just the strength of his swordsmanship.
The growth of this man was shocking to her, but that alone couldn’t break her composure.
No matter how fast Airn’s growth was, he was just following the path Ignet had already crossed.
If she found out how he had become so much better in such a small amount of time, then maybe she could move forward at a faster rate as well.
And there was also something else. She would be able to understand this ticklish feeling she felt each time she saw Airn.
What was this weird atmosphere of the guy who kept attracting her attention? Was he trying to say something?
‘… this is important.’
Perhaps as important as the subjugation of the Devil, which had happened 150 years ago.
Was it because of such thoughts?
Ignet’s tone and voice were higher and more rushed than usual.
It was the same in the banquet hall as well. Even though that wasn’t Ignet’s intention, it felt like she was interrogating him.
Knowing that, she pressed Airn more.
Airn just calmly organized his thoughts.
Unlike Ignet, he could vaguely understand the current situation.
Just as she could feel something from Airn, he too could feel something from Ignet.
His intuition, which was more reliable to him than any other evidence, was telling him that.
The problem was that he couldn’t give a short answer to Ignet’s question.
‘Where do I even start explaining?’
Should he start from the man in his dreams?
Or the story of the clown devil who was entangled with his past life?
Would that work? Or would he have to say more?
No, before that, shouldn’t they solve this dungeon first?
It was okay for the strong ones, including him and Ignet, but the commander of Calven knights and the others were hurt….
It was at that moment when his train of thoughts were broken.
Airn’s head turned.
Not too far from him, Ignet's gaze turned to Ilya, Lulu, Anya, Georg, Sevion, and Perry.
It wasn’t over.
The blood that was spread on the floor.
The blood came together and created a puddle which eventually changed into a human form and then into a clown in the blink of an eye.
No, there was only one difference from before.
The cracked mask on the clown was broken now, revealing a bit of its face.
“Euk, ah, ah….”
“Ah aha ahahah….”
“Uh, that? The…”
"Everyone, be alert!"
Ignet exclaimed, and Lulu again cast sorcery to block the magic.
The rotten angry face of the devil was exposed.
In its eyes, there was a swirl of anger and hate that would be hard to find even in the abyss.
And he raised one arm.
After realizing that what the clown had in his hand was a half of its mask, Airn and Ignet rushed forward at once, but they couldn’t reach him.
The mask broke, and darkness fell upon them.
A black darkness that couldn’t be compared to the one that was present when they had first entered the dungeon.
And they were all inside it.
Airn felt something inside him escape.
It was all dark.
Even if he opened his eyes, it was no different than moving with his eyes closed..
And it wasn’t just the eyes that the darkness affected, but even his hearing and smell were taken away by the darkness around. And this made his stomach churn.
And not long after that, he got up, gaining his senses back.
“I remember now. I was chasing him.”
He had come all the way here to destroy that clown devil.
Not out of anger and hatred but out of hope and happiness.
Instead of pointing a finger at him and blaming him, he followed after the girl who had given him the wild flowers.
“No one can stop me now.”
And he unconsciously opened his mouth and said those words.
As he let those words out, he felt his will turn stronger.
Full of confidence, he raised his old iron sword and walked forward.
The darkness which disturbed and engulfed his senses was still around, but now, he had the strength to overcome it.
He would no longer be hurt by the pouring hatred around him.
And he would no longer grieve over the heartbreaking betrayal he had faced.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t upset anymore. He just realized that there was something more important than revenge.
What he had to keep.
What he had to protect.
As long as such things existed, he would pursue the clown forever and ever, unbroken and unstoppable.
‘Right. Do your best while wandering.’
Looking at the man’s face, the clown grinned.
For a period of a thousand years, the clown had thought about how he could beat that man?
And how he could protect himself from that terribly painful silver-grey sword?
Fortunately, there was a way he could defeat the man.
And that was by weakening the man’s sword.
And to weaken a man’s sword, he had to first weaken a man’s heart.
That was the only way to victory.
‘A man can’t stand being blamed, hated, ridiculed, or deceived.’
Just one of these were needed to break a man like a marionette doll.
But not this man. No matter how painful it was, no matter how unfair it was, he didn’t give up on training.
And in the end, he found the devil and struck him with the old sword.
The clown, who felt the throbbing wound from that time, mumbled with a laugh.
“All I need to do is make sure you see nothing.”
Right. That was the only answer.
He just had to erase the flower which was handed to the man from the world.
He just had to erase the girl who awakened his will to protect.
And even the mother of the girl.
Along with the village and the estate he belonged to too.
And even the knights and the villagers.
He had to show the man a futile world, where there was nothing left for him to protect.
That would be the only way to break down the iron will of the man.
“Fine. This is fine. Umm, really good, actually.”
Despite being in pain, the clown was able to relax.
He was in bad shape thanks to that lightning-fast attack of the man, but it was fine.
A barrier was created by sacrificing half of the mask. And unlike before when he was careless, this time he made sure no one could find him.
Good, good, good, very good.
The clown, who was in joy, looked at the man who was still wandering.
Still holding up as hard as steel.
But nothing lasts forever. No matter how great the sword is, that too would rust with time.
The devil shook his head and sang a song he made.
And then he stopped, and it was not because of the man who was walking in all directions in the darkness.
He thought it was an illusion.
How could he have expected that a young man who seemed to hold the same will of the man, a vessel of the man at best, would break the barrier and reach him?
It was a crucial mistake.
But he wasn’t a vessel.
And he wasn’t a puppet either.
It was clear at that moment, a short moment of agony that the young man went through, that this young man had conceived the man’s own will.
He straightened his sword.
Did it have any importance when the sword he was wielding wasn’t something he achieved on his own?
You didn’t necessarily have to be alone to stand strong.
The clown’s expression was distorted horribly.
And unlike before, he didn’t have a mask to cover it. And there was nothing to block the light leaking out of the darkness.
And then another one appeared.
Airn opened his mouth.
“Karen Winker.” 2
The name he called, wasn’t the devil’s.
Because, at the place where Airn’s gaze was turned to, the man from his dreams was standing.
While wandering around a bleak world with nothing around, a brilliant light bloomed, and it would have been strange if he didn’t notice it.
“How do you know my name?”
“Just, I knew it the moment I saw you.”
“You are an interesting young man.”
“Is that a compliment?”
Airn bowed his head.
The man pondered for a moment and asked again.
“You seem to know a lot, so I will ask one more question. For a long, long time… I have been wandering around the world, but I haven’t been able to see anything. The village I lived in, the city I visited, the city I went to and… my estate, where I was born and raised, Kascodo.”
“Can you explain what happened?”
Airn closed his eyes.
He didn’t think that the clown would attack him.
The clown wouldn’t risk it. Because he knew that the man’s will wasn’t broken yet.
A cowardly and cunning man such as him would never move when he was in a disadvantageous situation such as this.
Thanks to that, Airn was able to choose what he wanted to say, and looking into the man's eyes, he said.
"Your estate is no longer in the world. It disappeared hundreds of years ago. Your family, your people, and your descendants… probably aren't alive now."
“But, there are still those who need to be protected.”
Airn opened his heart.
And everything he had seen, heard, and felt till then were transferred to the man in an instant.
In a brief moment, the man, who was the past life, was able to understand what Airn, the present life, was trying to say.
“I see. I am dead.”
“But it is fine. Because such a wonderful young man has the same will as I did.”
“I want to rest a little. Look after things for me.”
And those were his last words.
He lowered the sword to the ground and closed his eyes.
A faint smile on his face as if he had finally put down the heavy burden.
A light wind.
The man’s body, which had transformed into fine particles, didn’t fly away randomly, but they entered the sword of Airn.
They filled in the void that the sword had, and made it sharper and stronger.
Airn examined his sword.
After confirming that not just the handle, but that the entire blade was now dyed in gold, he raised his aura with all his might.
This chapter might’ve been confusing to many, especially concerning the old man, since the change was very abrupt. So, what I’ve understood from it was that, there was always a part of the old man’s soul chasing the clown. What we see here is not the physical body of the old man but rather a form of spirit.
I’m convinced that this is so since the old man goes into Airn’s sword after he decides to rest and also because, he could live for so long. He also says, "I am dead" which tells me that, that exact moment is when that part of the old man's soul realized that his real body had already passed on from this world.
Alternatively, the old man's soul probably could've resided in Airn (which I see a strong possibility for as well) the entire time. It would explain the sentence 'Airn felt something inside him escape.' It might've been an indicator of the transition from the soul being dormant inside his body before, and after it woke up, it was attributed to Airn's sorcery sword changing.
- This sentence leads me to believe that what I thought the last chapter and included in the editor's notes were indeed correct. Devils are stronger than demons are. And while demons have been found on the continent even now, it is very hard to come across a devil.↩
- 192 chapters of 'old man' and now, we get Karen. This author and his love for naming male characters with female names is mindblowing.↩
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