Soulmancer – Chapter 25: Party mates

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Witnessing the spectacle, Tessa quivered with delight and whispered, “It appears that damned dealer managed to inflict some damage this time.”

Though she hadn’t anticipated this turn of events when the dealer fell, it presented a golden opportunity to catch the mage off guard – a chance she couldn’t afford to squander. Without a chant, but merely a flick of her finger, a faint, intertwined crack formed on the ground. A sharp wooden tentacle then emerged, looming towards Jenna’s back—or at least, that’s what it seemed like.


As it approached its target at breakneck speed, Jenna exerted all her strength to swiftly deploy a robust barrier forward.


[‘Tier Two Barrier’ combats against Tier Three ‘Earth Stem Root’.]

[‘Monarch of Mana’ is resisting Earthly Mana.]

[‘Vega Robe‘ is resisting Earthly Mana.]


The [Monarch of Mana] skill effortlessly supported, controlled, ruled and dominated mana. However, its proficiency fell short when attempting to manipulate the dense [Earthly Mana], also referred to as ‘World Tree energy,’ emanating from the wooden log tentacle with a sheer (S) rank.

[You have failed to resist Earthly Mana.]

[The ‘Tier Two Barrier’ had shattered.]


The barrier shattered, and a sharp, log-like tentacle pierced Jenna’s robe. Though it couldn’t puncture through, the intense burning pain from the impact gripped her. Surviving the attack, Jenna realized, ‘Ugh! Perhaps some extra vests from my inventory would have helped.’

She wondered how different it could have been if she had layered vests under her robe. Despite feeling a bit distressed and heavier, she might have had better resistance to physical attacks. ‘Well, no use wondering about it now,’ she decided, choosing not to dwell on what could have been.


Tessa’s next attack was already incoming, hurtling toward Jenna. The wooden log-like tentacles, resembling waves, enclosed Jenna from the ground. They appeared more like swarms of log-like snakes than actual wood. Tessa couldn’t summon the ‘world tree trunk’ in the Fortress of Dungeons due to a recent reset on her former powers. However, High Walkers with mage-related traits and considerable growth might still have that ability.


‘I can’t seem to catch a break.’ Jenna, grappling with a relentless onslaught, briefly pondered her situation. Despite her significantly diminished mana in this intense battle, she conjured twelve Mana Blasts—slightly fewer than usual, yet a testament to her substantial mana reservoir and unwavering concentration. With a determined signal, she unleashed their formidable power upon her adversary


Consecutive explosions reverberated as each [Mana Blast] extended, colliding with crashing tentacles. However, their impact merely lessened the overall force.



Wave-like tentacles thrust forward, crashing into Jenna. She strained to shield herself with a [Tier three Barrier], leagues beyond the [Tier two Barrier]. The robust shield resisted both [Earthly Mana] and the reinforced [Vega] robe.

[‘Tier Three Barrier crashes with Earthly Mana.]

[‘Tier Three Barrier’ is resisting Earthly Mana.]

[‘Vega Robe’ crashes with Earthly Mana.]

[‘Vega Robe’ is resisting Earthly Mana.]

[You have failed to resist Earthly Mana.]

[The ‘Tier Three Barrier’ had been broken.]

As a barrage of messages inundated Jenna, a corrosive surge of negative energy seemed to infiltrate her body, manifesting as leafy veins and weakening her legs, causing a wobbly dance reminiscent of a withered tree swaying in the wind. Soon, her Vega robe shimmered, exchanging stamina for healing effects. Despite its remarkable properties, the process of dispelling the corrosive Earthly Mana took time, especially given the formidable presence of an experienced veteran of earthly mana.


Yellow currents and green pigment danced across Tessa’s body, highlighting the drawbacks of certain skills like [Earth stem roots]. Her mana dwindled steadily, and despite severe exhaustion, she fought to remain standing.

‘I need to go all out,’ Jenna thought. ‘But if I do that, what will I use to defeat the Titan Orcs?’ Contradictory thoughts echoed, as she clung to hope in the relentless battle for survival.


She blinked for a split second, convinced of ample distance from Tessa. Suddenly, around Tessa, a multitude of ice icicles and mana blasts, nearly a hundred in number, materialized, resembling swords and bullets aiming in all directions. With a finger signal, Tessa vanished as the bombardment commenced.


Tessa, creating a glacier against the onslaught, briefly felt the shock of the powerful attacks. Before she could reinforce the wall


In an instant, Tessa closed the gap between them. The base of her staff struck into the green-haired mage’s chest.


Jenna, baffled, felt her ribs breaking. ‘Teleportation?’ No, something akin. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end.


With a murmur of “Explosion,” a spark blast erupted at the staff’s base. A familiar chant to the green-haired mage propelled her into the air.


Her body soared through the air, colliding with the wall. The rigid structure crumbled, burying Jenna beneath the rubble of the Nanzahemir main hall’s opposite wall.


Pieces of the cracked wall trickled down, landing on Jenna’s head. “Ugh!” She dusted her robe and attempted to move, but the throbbing pain in her chest forced her to lay back down.

‘Maybe I underestimated her too much,’ she briefly pondered. The blue-haired mage might have honed her skills in the Fortress, surpassing her Eliluam abilities. Jenna realized that despite the extreme exhaustion and demerits, her opponent could still surprise her and catch her off-guard. While plagued with these challenges, the green-haired mage wasn’t an adversary Jenna could defeat without going all-out. She had assumed the other mage, burdened by exhaustion and demerits, would be the first to succumb. However, facing the [Extreme] difficulty, Jenna now realized it wouldn’t be as straightforward as she initially thought.

“Ugh… [Heal].”

While Jenna lay flatly, grunting in pain, she chanted, and her body shimmered faintly, healing her broken ribs. Simultaneously, her [Vega] robe activated other healing effects, concluding the healing process in exchange for stamina. It was all possible due to the additional proficiency of her skill [Monarch of Mana], gained from defeating many Titan Orcs.

Time left: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Jenna thought about the upcoming fight. ‘Just that, huh?’ she mused, envisioning the rest of the battle in her head. ‘For me to endure that…’ Recognizing the strength and craftiness of the blue-haired mage, she knew some tweaking would be necessary for victory. Jenna took a deep breath, surveying her surroundings, her fist quickening. ‘Father, I’ll prove my worth today,’ she vowed, striving for success.

The crash had filled the air with clouds of dust, making it difficult for her opponent to spot her. Jenna seized this advantage, deciding to prepare for the adjustments she had in mind. She smiled as she slowly sat in a lotus form, staff on her lap.

— — — —


More currents and green pigment sprayed around Tessa’s trembling body, a result of the overutilization of [Earth stem Root] and a single usage of [Mana Warp]. The intense pressure relentlessly cracks through her body, forcing her to grit her teeth in an attempt to endure the bone-crushing sensation. As the demerit subsides slightly, her knees give in, and she flops onto the floor.

“Kegh!” Tessa vomits clotted blood; evidently, some organs have burst.

“Blegh—” More crimson flesh spouts out as she coughs violently, unable to keep her mouth closed. ‘So… this is what being overwhelmed with demerits is like,’ she thought. Tessa had never pushed herself beyond her limits or properly experienced being engulfed with two or more demerits until this raid. Even when she did encounter one or two, the experiences were neither too prolonged nor as intense, leaving her with no previous fear of demerits.

[XXX: Demerit? This disgusting feature can kill you.]

[XXX: Those bad karma activated unexpectedly… I almost died.]

[XXX: Damnit, I hate that fucking feature; I don’t understand why that admin created such an impulsive ‘equivalent exchange’.]

[XXX: Every time that ‘Shit’ activated, I feel my insides are going to burst out. I don’t want to be a Walker anymore.]

This was what she often saw on the forum after raids, but

[XXX: According to a High-Walker, this demerit existed because of the difference in skill, amazing effect, power, and capabilities. So it acts as a limiter.]

she struggled to grasp the essence of ‘equivalent exchange’ that left even seasoned veterans in awe and frustration. ‘Limiter, my ass!’ Tessa cursed silently, the realization hitting her after a firsthand encounter.

‘I can actually die,’ she acknowledged, recognizing the stark contrast from the ‘will of Eliluam’ she had once encountered. Tessa attempted to articulate the sensation, uttering a single word—.


As the feeling of her existence teetered on the brink, a profound force surged within Tessa, emanating from the Fortress of Dungeons. It harbored a desire to curtail any Walker from exceeding its intended limits. This epiphany startled her. Initially viewing the Fortress as a mere alternate world to gain stats and skills at the cost of burdens, she now discovered it possessed its own consciousness and desire to regulate power beyond designated levels. It was an unexpected revelation.

“But with this, all I need to do is eliminate that blind Walker…”

Upon her command, formidable [Mana Blasts] and [Fireballs] materialized, swirling around her and converging on the unconscious blind Walker.


An unusual yet steering voice cut through the air. “I can’t let you do that.”


A gray figure leaped in, intercepting the impending [Fireballs] and [Mana Blasts] with a conspicuously large shield, and a rush of hot air swept past him.



Tessa and Killy exchanged furious glares, realizing that the potent attacks capable of ending the battle had been abruptly halted.

The audacious individual who risked himself amid the assault to protect a comrade was


none other than Daniel Lan. Northwestern, the first son of one of the ancient demon lords of the demon race.

* * *

“… You demon bastard.”

“What reasons does such a wretched demon have for protecting a human?”

An attractive man with raven-black, shoulder-length hair, and cobalt-like eyes stood before her. His elegant and carefree radiance set him apart from other demons. Tessa recognized the face, recalling the dangerous and superior origin of the first descendant of the main progenitor in the last great war and one of the famous ancient demon lords—ascender Gabrillius Northwestern, the guildmaster of the renowned guild [Reaper] — Daniel Lan Northwestern, was now standing in front of her, protecting a human.

At first glance, she couldn’t discern him due to different characteristics and wear, but the oddly dense [Demonic energy] orbiting around him hinted at his entrance into the Fortress. Tessa wondered how she had missed such a significant detail. ‘Is he really alright in the head?’ she briefly pondered. Her face relaxed, and she couldn’t bring herself to care about why a royal demon would protect a blind human.

Of course, rationality dictated protecting a party member during a risky raid, as Beelzebub had said. However, a royal demon shouldn’t be bothered by such trivial reasons to save a mere human. The situation was strange and unusual.

Focused on the fallen Walker, Tessa sighed, “Ha, Sir Daniel.”

Her nonchalant response prompted Killy Douchue, who was not fully tense and unaware, to ask, “Do you know him, Tessa?”

“Daniel Lan, Northwestern. The royal demon outcast who mysteriously disappeared,” the blue-haired mage responded.

“Disappeared? What the hell are you talking about?!” Daniel vehemently opposed her statement, unable to fathom the inaccuracy. He had severed all ties with his family, descended to the First District, and only later received an invitation from the Fortress. How could he be labeled a ‘missing royal demon’? The frustration was so intense; that he felt on the verge of tears.

“No,” the mage shook her head, a sly smile playing on her lips. “Surprisingly accurate,” she added, detecting the fishiness in her expression.

“That’s absurd!” The young demon clicked his tongue, his [Demonic energy] tense around him.

“Absurd? Whatever. What I’m suggesting is that all your formidable stats, skills, and traits have been reset now,” she continued, her eyes overlaid with mana to assess his strength. “From what I can see, you seem to be from the [Medium] difficulty.” Her fishy smile widened.

Daniel’s ears twitched in annoyance.

“It appears my guess is correct!” Tessa’s response caused Killy to ease her guard slightly.

“I was concerned for a moment, thinking he possessed some inherent [Strength] and [Demonic energy]. Hahaha,” the assassin chuckled lightly. “Hey, grey kid! What made you think you could interrupt that attack when facing me? Well, I guess I haven’t been taking our fight seriously.” It wasn’t entirely truthful, yet not an outright lie.

Daniel’s annoyance gradually escalated to anger, his [Demonic energy] orbiting around him growing.

Instantly, the atmosphere shifted to mockery. Discovering that the greenhorn, a royal demon, was a [Medium] difficulty Walker and that all his abilities had been reset prompted Tessa and Killy to laugh and taunt him.

‘There’s nothing that he can do by himself.’ The blue-haired mage pondered briefly, acknowledging that despite the impressive performance on Eliluam, surviving this raid alone was a feat comparable to Randell Kinsey, likely earning him at least a C-rank Hunter status by Eliluam standards. Unfazed by the presence of Tessa and Killy, who held little fear for the young demon, a lingering tension remained.

“… What do you think you’re doing?” Killy questioned, interrupting the mockery.

Despite the taunting, Daniel appeared composed, channeling his anger into the slow orbiting and charging of dark energy. Encircled by two [Extreme] difficulty Walkers, including an unstable one with two bothersome fighting styles and job-related traits, he stood dependable next to the fallen Izel.

Killy considered Daniel’s actions, on the verge of voicing her thoughts, but Tessa beat her to it. “Are you planning on standing there and protecting that human until he awakens?” Tessa inquired.

The young demon remained silent, his fist tightly gripping his weapon as wrinkles formed on his arms. He directed his finger toward the clearing dust in the distance, where Jenna had previously landed. The unspoken tension lingered in the air.


From within the collapsed wall, rubble erupted, and a cloud of dust fanned out. Jenna emerged from the mess, holding her staff.

A fire reignited in Killy’s eyes.

“I thought you had killed her…?” Killy asked, confused.

“I thought so too.”

“Thought so?” Killy retorted.

“It seems I underestimated her.” Tessa shook her head. She never imagined this mage was actually this tenacious, even after enduring two hefty demerits to inflict damage. Perhaps the mage could be a hotcake on Eliluam before her stats, ability, and trait were reset.


The green-haired mage’s feet majestically continued walking as the dust dissipated.

“She’s…” Tessa trailed off.



The orb on her staff gleamed with a white glow, and suddenly, the surroundings became chilly, fanning around tendrils of crystal frost. It was as though she had converted the neutral attribute of the large pool of mana into the rare and uncommon ‘Tier seven’ ice attribute, endlessly overflowing.

“… Chilling,” the blue-haired mage concluded.

The wall she had previously landed on collapsed, revealing its shabby state and exposing the barrier placed by the Fortress. Jenna took an off-guard attack from Tessa, sending her flying into the wall. Within the rubble and knocked-up clouds of dirt and dust, she decided to go all-out in a different way, attempting [Mana Conversion] on her remaining mana to a certain (-3) degree Celsius of that of her father… Indeed, it was a more refined [ice] attribute than her father’s, or at least that’s how it seemed.

“What do you mean ‘chilling,’ Tessa?” Killy asked, confused by her words. Annoyance wrinkled the assassin’s face as her eyes darted between Tessa, Jenna, and Daniel amidst the chaotic mess in the hall. She had wanted to end this lengthy raid, return to Eliluam, and learn the [String Deviative Daggers], but everything seemed to be falling apart. A partymate was killed, and now this…

“I’ll kill her again; there’s no reason to be afraid of her,” Tessa assured. “This suffocating refined [Ice] is a special case, and it seems her tenacious body wouldn’t be able to handle it, though her mana had changed—”

“Whatever…” Killy cut her off. Her patience finally hitting its limit, she took a deep breath and retorted to the blue-haired mage. “You look very tired and exhausted, Tessa. Just end it here. Randell is already dead.”

Tessa nodded, redirecting her focus to the approaching mage, shrouded in tendrils of permafrost. “But their party mate is down as well.”

“Nonetheless, go all out and…” Killy insisted, her words trailing off due to the strange event that followed. Amid the freezing blizzard enveloping the hall, Jenna, who was walking from the pile of rubble a moment ago, had disappeared.

‘Where did she go…?’ Tessa coated her airy robe in mana to shield herself from the intense cold suffocating her. With that done, she conjured a cube-like barrier strengthened with [Earthly Mana].


A loud collision of permafrost with an obstacle echoed from Tessa’s direction. Surprised, Killy protected herself from the icy wave combusting about. Daniel blocked the diffused icy shrapnel with his shield, shielding his fallen comrade and himself. ‘So Cold!’

“Kugh…! Ahhhh!” Tessa spouted in agony.


Sharpenels mixed with icy snow storms erupted, instantly plunging the battlefield into chaos once more. [Ice Thorns], one of the most lethal ice attack skills that Jenna Rivel Callen possessed, caused the turmoil, albeit with hefty aftereffects.

“Annoying bug!” the green-haired mage shouted with fighting spirit, tightly gripping her rising staff.

The significant barrage of [Ice Thorns] colliding with Tessa’s [Tier Six Barrier] intertwined magical circuits. In response…


Tessa, gritting her teeth and coughing up blood, channeled [Earthly Mana] into the cube-like barrier, conjuring three protective magic circuits overlapping each other. “I won’t go down so easily, you disrespectful brat!”


As [Ice Thorns] clashed with [Tier Six Barrier], [Earthly Mana], and [magic circuits], they unleashed more ice storms and potent permafrost, capable of freezing the entire hall. The resounding clash echoed through the hall, ringing in everyone’s ears.

Amidst the relentless ice waves, white currents crackled around Jenna, and yellow currents with green pigment sprayed, pressuring the blue-haired mage. Undeterred as blood seeped at the corner of her lips, Tessa summoned [Mana Blasts] and, this time, unleashed [Heatwaves], attempting to counter the drastic temperature change.


The storm, a fusion of ice and heat, persisted.

— —- — —-

“Shall we continue our death match?” Killy, who had nothing to lose anymore, stared back at the young demon. The raid had already been lost for them.

Daniel didn’t utter a single word.

Taking that as a yes, Killy could feel dense tendrils of dark energy dancing around his body. It must be the demonic energy she had heard about—the sinister force of demons. She took a deep breath, feeling the ominous aura, and adjusted her daggers from a reverse grip to a normal position. The most shocking part is that she intends to go all out this time around.

“What are you waiting for?” Killy asked, raising one of her daggers and pointing at Daniel. “Bring it all, and I’ll fight you at full power.”

It was a provocation to the royal demon, whose mind was in turmoil; his body shook with temporary thoughts, urging him to regain his irrationality. ‘I have to calm down; the fight isn’t over. I’ll protect Big Bro Izel and kill this human in full strength,’ he decided. After all, the other party had nothing to lose but to fight to the bitter end. Any more contemplation could put his life at risk. The young demon’s feet parted the ground, currently wielding his axe and greatsword, and threw himself into battle toward the assassin in full power. His body shot out like a rocket as air dashed across his face.

“Getting serious, huh? I like that!” The assassin burst out in full battle mode against the demon, unlike before.



Hot and violent air started blasting past them, trembling the already freezing-cold atmosphere. Killy couldn’t help but gnash her teeth at the tension throbbing in her heart as they crashed. Two energies of entirely different attributes and characteristics diffused, causing the ground to erupt.

Amid the chaos, Daniel sidelong peeked, resisting the knockback from the collision, preventing him from getting close to Izel.



After enduring the powerful blast and its aftershock, Daniel emitted a slight groan but pressed on. Possessing innate strength and infused with Demonic energy, in addition to his recently acquired title, he faced an opponent who proved to be an experienced veteran.

[Demonic Power Charge: 82.549%]

A bubbling power that required proper charging before use, and it wasn’t fully charged yet.

He tilted his head, narrowly dodging a swift swing from the cunning assassin. His heart thundered, body heating up as he gripped his greatsword against the other’s dagger. The insufficient [Demonic charge] left him exposed, both physically and emotionally, but his confidence stemmed from other qualities.

With a resolve to protect and counter, he swung his greatsword in large arcs, deflecting chained dagger attacks. The poisoned axe moved horizontally and vertically, blocking any stealthily thrown decoys. As the battle continued, the assassin vanished into the wind, and then, a sudden


Two daggers, empowered in both [Strength], [Constitution] and [Mana], darted towards Daniel. His heightened senses signaled the danger, making his heart race. A broad smile crossed his face, the sudden excitement jamming his mind. Pouring [Demonic Anti-magic] onto his arms, they morphed considerably, combining innate abilities with [Strength] and [Constitution]. The large sword in his right hand and the axe in his left traced the path of the approaching daggers.


The defined attack sent shivers down Daniel’s spine. The joy he felt intensified, making his blood rush.

“Nice…!” The assassin marveled at the latter’s endeavor. Her voice echoed from the invisible realm, intending to trap him and restrict his mobility before executing her plan. For this to happen, the young demon had to either block or parry the strengthened magical daggers, making the activation of her highest proficiency, the [Ultimate skill], efficient. If her [Ultimate skill] triggered as per its conditions, it would imprison an ‘A-rank angel hunter’ for two minutes with a critical hit. Against a royal demon, perhaps just a minute. ‘Just keep on, grey bastard! Keep on!’ She assured herself.


Unbeknownst to her plan, Daniel, who despised thinking too much because it was too bothersome and he was carefree, decided to deflect the heavy attack. In that case, he slightly raised the axe and slammed the tip of the first dagger against his chest. In a smooth motion, he also parried the other dagger approaching his neck. The young demon almost let out a howl of victory as the sound of metal hitting metal resounded, diffusing dense mana into the cold atmosphere.


He really did it. With a delighted grin, he closed in on the assassin, who finally re-emerged, focusing fully on him as though her plan had worked perfectly.



Out of thin air, by the cold murmur of Killy, “Ghost Restraints!” Glowing yet discreet chains loomed toward the young demon’s legs, weapons, and arms. Daniel’s body froze amid his onslaught, a confused expression filling his face as certain messages appeared in front of his retinas

[Due to the effect of the Ghost Chains, all effects, titles, and skills of the user are halted. Your mobility is restricted for 1 minute.]

[Break free from the restriction to release your ‘mobility’ and skills back to normal.]

Soon enough, the invisible chains tightly gripped his movements.

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