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Chapter 318 - The One who Inherits, the One who Maneuvers Behind the Scenes (1)

    Chapter 318 - The One who Inherits, the One who Maneuvers Behind the Scenes (1)

    The underground, a subterranean world that caused instinctive fear among living creatures on the earth...

    It didn't allow for a single strand of light. This was a space that was cut off from the blue sky and the grace of the sun. If the place beyond the sky was revered as a sacred and beautiful place, then the area under the earth was considered as a place of death and flames.

    Most cultures buried a person when they died, making the underground known as the world of the dead. There was a reason for this stereotype. There was no need to go back to the Age of Mythology. In this era, there were many forces that made the underground their home.

    The underground auction house in the Kargas Kingdom was part of it.

    At any time and from anywhere, those hiding in the underground were always afraid of the sun, and they held secrets that couldn't be revealed to others. Those with wicked eyes crawled into the darkness beneath the earth to be able to display their wicked desires openly.

    After staying in the abyss for a long time, the rats were finally eaten by the abyss.

    "...Hrmmm."

    Bodies, bodies, and bodies... A man opened his mouth on top of a hill of hundreds, maybe thousands, of bodies. He let out a viciously distorted voice that caused the listener to feel fear.

    The man was wrapped in a black robe, and as he crushed one of the skulls rolling near his feet, he muttered, "Kuhuhu, I would suppose this situation is called 'boil the hound once it has caught the rabbit'?  It is my favorite expression." (TL: Getting rid of something once it has served its purpose)

    It was as he said. All those who worked as his puppets were part of the mountain of the dead. The head of the Orcus Company, Isaac, had died in a gruesome puddle of blood. With Jerem's resurrection, the Four Horsemen turned the organization, which they had created, into a meal for Jerem, just like putting a hound that had lost its value into a boiling pot.

    "Their deaths will help the king. Isn't this a rewarding experience for such trash?" Red Knight Elohim chuckled as he looked down at the mummified bodies. It wasn't just the vitality of the bodies that was drained. Their souls, the backbone of their life, had also been absorbed. Those who died here would have no room for salvation. They would constantly suffer pain serving under Jerem.

    "Well, this will keep me alive for another month or two." Jerem nodded at Elohim and pulled out his hand that had been hidden in his robes.

    Rotting skin, like that of a leprosy patient, was revealed.

    The body of the Pale Rider couldn't stop the collapse of his soul. It was due to the lack of a suitable vessel for Jerem's soul, as well as the fatal wound Mitra had dealt him. Right now, absorbing the vitality and souls of the living was just a desperate measure, not a fundamental solution.

    In order to fix this wound, he had to pay an equivalent price to a great being, Nídhöggur.

    "If possible, I wanted to be better prepared, but... I guess it can't be helped. There isn't a lot of time remaining in this flesh." Words with an unknown meaning behind them flowed from Jerem's mouth.  Just what the hell was he starting?

    Building a mountain of bodies and a river of blood... Among them was an excellent magician. There was also a swordsman who made a name for himself. One man had slaughtered all the famous people in the organization like they were chickens and completed a single magic circle.

    "I don't need to call a complete form from the beginning. It is enough to finish it after the calling. It isn't difficult to call an avatar if I use the souls gathered from Lairon and the body of Baldur."

    The altar of sacrifices was surrounded by a magic circle of an ominous color. On the left was a soul gem. It was a crystal ball made from the 10 million souls that had been stolen by the great magic circle in Lairon. Judging by its value, the volume would remain even if he called several high-ranking demons.

    However, there was an even more valuable offering on the right. It was Baldur's body. Surrounded by a brilliant light, his remains didn't allow the human eye to look at it. Jerem could only confirm the outline, and the Four Horsemen didn't even dare face it. Baldur was a god who represented light, the antithesis of warlocks.

    Therefore, the presence of darkness couldn't help being attracted to this prey.

    "「 Eater of the world tree, king of Nastrond. 」"

    The magic circle, which had been drawn with the blood of thousands, flashed red. As soon as the chanting began, the darkness in the underground area started to wriggle as if it had gained life. It was proof that the wall separating the material world and Nastrond was collapsing.

    "「 You are the one who scoffs at all deaths, who sits down on the field of those killed at the end of the world. 」"

    The taboo history from the end of the Age of Mythology flowed out, and the magic circle emitted red light like it was responding. It was the eye of Nídhöggur, Nastrond's king. The gaze penetrated through the wall of the dimension and reached Jerem.

    -Did you call this body, Follower?

    Terror flooded in. As soon as he received that gaze, Jerem forgot his position as a transcendent and became terrified. Nídhöggur was a king of monsters who could kill him with one finger... Jerem had contracted with Nídhöggur to obtain the mighty power. However, it was inevitable for him to feel fear due to the difference between them. Jerem barely controlled the shaking of his voice and opened his mouth, "Your strength is required. Receive the offering I brought, and let me borrow your power."

    -Hoh? Nídhöggur first looked at the soul gem with disinterested eyes, but he then looked at Baldur's body with intrigue. It was the body of a god from the Age of Mythology. He might already be dead, but Baldur's fame had spread throughout the world.

    Needless to say, Nídhöggur accepted it. -Okay, tell me your desire. In the name of this Nídhöggur, I will grant you strength corresponding to the sacrifices offered.

    Simultaneously, the two sacrifices on the altar were sucked into the dark abyss. It meant they had become the possessions of Nídhöggur, the ruler of Nastrond. Subsequently, Jerem's desire was conveyed to Nídhöggur.

    -Yggdrasil, how interesting. In the Age of Mythology, many wanted to take it. But in the end, it was burned without entering anyone's hands. Desire filled the eyes of the wicked dragon. -Indeed, this is entertainment after a long time. Follower, I'll match your trick. This time, I will take that seedling.

    "Thank you, great dragon."

    -On the day that this body swallows Yggdrasil, I will give you a piece of Niflheim's territory.

    Jerem grinned, and Nídhöggur opened his mouth. Magic couldn't surpass the walls of the dimension. Jerem thought this at first. Crossing the walls of the dimension wasn't a feat allowed to a 9th circle warlock, even when his body was complete.

    However, this was just a mere nuisance to Nídhöggur.

    ――――――――――――――!!!

    An odor of death spread out, and the dragon roared.

    *     *     *

    Simultaneously, Theodore's group finished their first task after the conversation in the cabin. It was to settle Veronica's matter that Titania had pointed out. The ward was completed faster than expected, and Veronica's mana calmed down.

    "...Tch." Still, Veronica's complaints couldn't be stopped.

    "Well done. There is no magic power coming from her." Titania nodded as she looked at the ward Theodore had made.

    There was no problem if it couldn't be felt with the senses of a high elf. No fires made it through the ward. However, Veronica was unhappy about the situation and muttered to Titania, "You don't have to act so arrogantly with Theo!"

    "...?" Titania didn't understand the meaning of the words and turned away with no response. Of course, her indifferent attitude made Veronica even more infuriated.

    "I'll be right back. Please wait, even if it is boring." Theodore tried to calm Veronica, then he followed after Titania. He had visited Elvenheim once before, but most places were still unfamiliar to him. Titania, who was walking ahead, looked back at her and said, "Let's go higher. It is more efficient to explain each zone from a high altitude."

    "I will."

    The two people exchanged words and flew into the air. Theodore used flying magic, while Titania relied on the ancient elemental, Geros. As Theodore rose slowly in the air, he listened to the voice coming from above him. Titania's voice was mixed with the wind as she said, "I want to ask you something."

    She hesitated for a moment before asking softly, "Is my tone that arrogant?"

    "...Huh?"

    "I didn't speak with honorifics the first time we met. I don't have any bad feelings towards you and don't want to make you uncomfortable. If you have any complaints, tell me without worrying."

    Theodore looked up at her with a subtle expression, then he realized that Titania was wearing a skirt and looked away. This was the disadvantage of flying magic. However, Titania seemed to think his silence was an answer and sighed. She spoke in a tone that was still stiff but carried some of her own troubles. "I respect you even if I don't use honorifics. You are the benefactor of Elvenheim. I'm not haughty or stupid enough to not admit them. If there is a problem... Yes, think of it as me lacking social interaction."

    "Okay, I understand your point." He accepted her words but pointed out one thing. "Then you should fix something first."

    "What is it?"

    "My name isn't 'you'."

    Titania looked down at him with surprise and smiled bitterly. It was only a slight smile, but it was the first time Theodore had seen it.

    "...Indeed. Theodore, should I call you this?"

    "Yes, I will also call you Titania."

    "This is a monumental day. Aside from the high elves and Master, you are the first one to call my name."

    The atmosphere improved as both of them continued to fly in the sky.

    After a few kilometers, Titania and Theodore crossed the clouds and landed on one of the branches of the world tree. They flew for a few minutes and couldn't even fly halfway up the world tree. Of course, they could go further up, but it would be counterproductive to their goal of understanding the different areas in the Great Forest.

    'The scenery is spectacular. If this was opened as a tourist destination, many people would pay gold to see it.'

    However, it was unlikely that would ever happen. Theodore was smiling when Titania called out to him.

    "Theodore."

    "Ah, did you want to explain something?"

    "No, I remembered that I have to give you something."

    "Huh?"

    The wind was strong. Against the backdrop of the huge tree, the wind blew Titania's hair and white fur clothing. Then she pulled out a book from inside her clothing. Theodore's eyes shook as he saw the book's cover.

    "Master asked me to give this to Theodore."

    "Hah..." Theodore laughed involuntarily and received the book from Titania. The book's cover was so worn down that it was impossible to know when it was written.

    'It makes me realize that he truly isn't human.'

    Theodore's trembling fingers touched the characters on the title, [Deeper Theories about Elementals].

    The Introduction to Elemental Magic II that Theodore bought a few years ago at the auction house had raised his understanding of magic and elementals, but he hadn't gotten a chance to talk to Myrdal again. It was the original copy of the book Myrdal had written, but a fragment of his soul hadn't remained in it.

    However, what about this book that had been written before Theodore was born?

    "...Sigh." Theodore took a deep breath to calm his agitation and a place a hand on the sage's book.

    'Appraisal.'
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