Soulmancer – Chapter 26: Unshakeable choices

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Amid escalating tension that firmly tightened his whole being, the young demon sensed something was amiss as a notification flashed before his retinas. ‘An ultimate skill, huh?’ he mused briefly. While it served as a mobility constraint with a one-minute limit, the crux lay in the fact that during that brief span, all his stats, skills, and titles were frozen. Essentially, any futile effort would prove inefficient. This trump card posed a significant challenge for a royal demon who favored carefreeness over critical thinking in combat.

Of course, Daniel was certain; she had planned this scenario for a while now.

“I never thought you would utilize such a cowardly way, human!'” he asked indifferently, as though her plan was worthy of applause, and he expected this much from a bud.

“Shut up, grey bastard! You’re the dumb one for attacking me without thinking!” The assassin retorted.

“Ah,” Daniel sighed. “For your information, a royal demon doesn’t think too much and just lunges at the enemy.”

For a moment, Killy was dumbfounded. Just who is this guy? Is he ‘really’ a royal demon? Well, it doesn’t matter. Killy shook her head. ‘A dead demon, don’t speak!’ She sneered as she maliciously spoke. “Dumb demon bastard, say whatever you like; you shall meet your end for your overconfidence.”

With those words, Killy pointed her daggers at him, emitting a conspicuous aura of bloodlust. The black, sharp daggers reflected the level-headed young demon. It was obvious he was just babbling, and the dragon-tooth weapon would pierce straight through him effortlessly, with a difference in [Strength] and [Constitution] between him and her. Even with the newly acquired title, it wouldn’t be enough to reduce the large gap between him and her. So the only thing he could do was utilize his innate strength and the demonic energy that resides within his soul. He certainly knew that without a ‘vessel,’ it would be painful to call upon the power. ‘But I have no other option!’ Plus, the quality would be at its lowest. ‘Well, that’s good enough!’ Daniel hastily decided. With that, the young demon pulled every fiber of his being and called forth his inherent powers within him.

The assassin vanished into the wind, fluttering away.


Both daggers pierced through the empty void toward the young demon, Daniel.

‘Come on…’ Daniel, pressed for time, unable to use the system as a ‘vessel’ to call forth his inner power, making the awakening process slower than usual.


Sparks unfolded between the cold air and violently hot daggers as Daniel persistently called forth, eyes vividly opened, squirming his inner being slowly. His senses reflected the approaching daggers. ‘8 seconds, 7 seconds, 6 seconds.’ Time seemed to freeze as the innate [Strength] and [Demonic Energy] slightly awakened. Dark tendrils coiled on every fiber of Daniel’s muscles as they morphed. ‘5 seconds, 4 seconds, 3 seconds…’The young demon, unafraid of death, relaxed his body, charging his innate power through every nook and cranny of his internals.

“Argh…” He groaned as the dark energy snaked in different directions. At the side of his left retina, the lavender interface glitched into existence.

[Demonic Power Charge: 95.549%]

It was a bubbling power that needed proper charging to be utilized, but this time, it reached the threshold instantly.

Despite the lengthy explanation, everything unfolded in an instant.


His significantly morphed body jerked suddenly, contorting as it fell backward and sideways, skillfully avoiding the two lethal daggers. The attacks missed him by a hair’s breadth, slicing through space. Two red, sizzling lines materialized across his neck, and blood seeped out. Although the previous notification hinted at 30 seconds remaining, the timer’s countdown revealed an automatic weakening of the constraint. It was an evident flaw that any seasoned veteran would promptly notice and exploit.

As scorching, violent air diffused into the surroundings

“What?” The assassin experienced a brief shock, but since the demon remained bound by her ultimate skill, she dismissed that futile effort as a mere coincidence. Her daggers missed the target by chance. After all, if a royal demon were to die so easily without a bit of a meaningless struggle, it would be boring. She was determined not to miss this time, ensuring that the encounter carried the expected intensity.

Killy readied herself once more, infusing her daggers with crackling mana. She aimed to slice through the demon’s gray neck, ensuring his demise.


Daniel tensed as he felt the crafty bud reappear at his rear. The glitching notification on the side of his retina flashed the remaining time, but the pressure from the invisible constraint was no joke. Despite tendrils of innate [Demonic Energy] coiling around each invisible chain to lighten the burden, it still felt like a thousand pounds of iron bars on his arms and limbs. ‘No wonder she was so confident in her plan,’ he thought begrudgingly, acknowledging the assassin’s cunning. If not for his hidden cards—innate powers immune to the fortress’s reset—his head would be carved off his neck. He sighed, recognizing why royal demons were revered as the pinnacle of the demon district.


The icy air crackled with sizzling and suffocating mana as the assassin unleashed rapid attacks. Despite the precision of her dagger thrusts, the young demon, constrained by ghostly chains, narrowly evaded each assault, blood spurting from fresh wounds.

“What the hell is happening?” she exclaimed, the realization that this wasn’t a mere coincidence racing through her mind. Killy struggled to comprehend the situation. Having narrowly dodged her previous attack, he appeared to be biding his time, gradually exploiting a hidden flaw in her ultimate skill.

“No!” she shouted in disbelief as the unsettling truth sank in. Her ultimate skill, once believed invincible, was gradually unraveling. The assassin, intent on claiming Daniel’s head, found herself spouting nonsense in the face of this unexpected turn of events. The cold air hung heavy with tension as the battle unfolded, each move and countermove revealing the intricacies of their deadly dance.

[20 seconds are over!! All restrictions on your ‘mobility’ and skills had returned to normal.]


With enough force from his innate [Strength], the ghostly chains tightened around Daniel’s limbs, weapons, and arms, shattering and crumbling into pieces.

Her eyes widened in disbelief, “Wh-Wait! L-let’s talk! I-I didn’t do it on purpose!”

“What? You didn’t do what on purpose?” Daniel angrily retorted, raising and swinging his poisoned axe vertically. It collided with the assassin’s left dagger, empowered by her [Strength]. The sharp attack expanded the already-made crack on the weapon. Another strike dashed through the cold air horizontally, worsening the crack and scattering it into pieces. A smile curled up the young demon’s lips as he deftly deflected the right dagger attack with his greatsword. Maliciously closing the gaps between them, the assassin fumbled and disappeared in an instant.


With his stats, effects, title, and skills returning to normal, [Demonic anti-magic] and [Demonic energy] stat glowed on his greatsword, making a wide, powerful arc.


A strange warmth enveloped Killy’s feet as her field of vision slowly tilted downward. It was the intense attack that prevented her from completely disappearing into the wind. “Ahhhhhhh!” The assassin screamed in agony and terror, her feet cut off. Blood squirted as her heart pulsated. Without feet for support, she fell to the ground, attempting to crawl forward with her arms.

“Uh, ugh…”



Simultaneously, the latter’s greatsword swiftly carved out her right arm, which held one of her dark dragon-tooth daggers. Glancing back, she confronted the hazy, terrifying shadow enveloping her—an ominous young demon with a malicious grin and bloodshot eyes.

“F-fuck… A-Argh! Y-you piece of shit!” Killy cursed, tears streaming down her face, sweat mixing with blood splattering around. The immediate loss of excess blood and the echoing pulsation of her body clouded her vision. Her foggy eyes could only project the grey figure of calamity, becoming half-clearer as he approached. He wore a smile of pleasure, seemingly overtaken by the euphoria of shedding blood. His dark aura resonated with vigor, sending a shiver down the assassin’s spine.

But before anything else could unfold, the young demon spoke terrifyingly, “So, where were your confidences all mocking me earlier, human bitch?” He pressed down on Killy’s shoulder and ruthlessly slashed off her other arm, blood splattering over his blade.

“KUGH!!!!!… UGH…!” Her chilling cry of terror echoes through the frigid atmosphere.

“Where did that confidence come from earlier? If you answer earnestly, I’ll at least send you off peacefully.”

Her response, laced with fear, stumbles out, “You demonic bastard… Motherfucker. Go to hell…”

“Hell? Who told you I’d send you there?” Daniel retorts.

Hearing Daniel’s words, Killy finally grasps the grim reality – death without an afterlife. Not even Hell. Though she had heard rumors, she never took them to heart until now… Her cherry-red lips tremble in despair and fear. Just moments ago, she held hope for a successful raid and return. But reality proves otherwise. Desperation fills her gaze as she glances at Tessa in the distance, enduring multiple demerits, and at her last width. ‘Tessa?’ The desperate words can’t escape her lips. Both experienced veterans chose the [Extreme] difficulty to grow faster and survive. Yet, their goals, especially Killy’s desire to learn the [String Deviative Daggers] secret technique and double her strength, are now thwarted by this formidable party.

“I get you wanting to be welcome to hell, but I’m sorry, this royal demon can’t ‘really’ allow that.”

“UH… AH…”

“If you keep acting mute after all of this…” Daniel trailed off, increasing the pressure with innate and [Demonic energy] stats, as well as [Demonic Anti-magic] on his feet planted firmly on her chest.


Organs smashed, blood spouting from her mouth and ears, and gore spewed from her wounds, breaking down any defense she attempted.


“I’ll just continue with what I was doing,” he continued, devilishly smirking.

“I-I’ll talk! I’ll talk!” Killy screamed in agonizing pain as Daniel crushed her ribs. The force on his shoulder doubled.

“Wrong answer! Human!” Daniel’s response was jerky, shaking Killy.

“H-How… I d-didn’t e-even…?” Killy couldn’t complete her sentence, terrified by Daniel’s sudden change in expression.

“Royal demons don’t negotiate with humans.” Daniel’s arms grew as both [Demonic energy] and [Strength] swung his dark, glowing greatsword.


The assassin’s head thumped and rolled, blood splattering and coloring the ground crimson. Her eyes comprehended how her life ended, regretting that life was ‘really’ a bitch.


The young demon, tense about slaying a human for the first time, was suddenly alerted by a loud outburst and a sudden temperature fluctuation.


On the other side of the battlefield, the fierce duel between two mages approached its climax.


As the [Heatwaves] and [Ice Thorns] gradually subsided, the sizzling, freezing vapor dispersed, and…


Daniel swiftly seized a hefty shield, intercepting the scattering ice and rock shrapnel to protect the fallen blind Walker. Two distinct mana characteristics dashed past him, setting the young demon’s nerves on edge. ‘How did their battle go?’ he pondered, cautiously lowering his shield. In the wake of the tumultuous clash, the aftermath of their disastrous collision unfolded.


The area distorted, caught in the grip of extreme heat and permafrost manifestations. Gradually, the cold and warm haze dissipated, revealing two figures within.

“Both of them are alive,” Daniel pondered aloud. His cobalt-like eyes squinted. “Barely, but alive.” Confirming his statement, Jenna and Tessa were technically ‘alive.’ However, the blue-haired mage was incapacitated – her mana depleted, her magic staff shattered, both arms crippled and thick frost entwined her body. Survival would require strong will and years of experience, considering the aftermath of their intense collision.

In the aftermath, Jenna, dragging Tessa by her torn-airy robe, approached her beheaded comrade. Frost exhaled from Jenna’s lips, indicating signs of life in the blue-haired mage’s subtle trembling and frost-emanating body. Jenna, though in better condition than the blue-haired mage, relied on concentration, the [Monarch of Mana] skill, and a strong will to survive amidst the lingering white currents that surrounded her. It was a battle between mages of unprecedented power just before the boss fight, a spectacle for the young demon to witness. Tessa hadn’t perished yet, but the demerit orbiting and pressuring her body suggested an inevitable fate.

In the end, their battle concluded with Jenna’s victory, dragging the now-unkempt blue-haired mage through the disheveled, blood-stained ground. Tessa’s unstable mind pondered, ‘Where is Killy? Did she succeed?’ Her partially frozen body, as if infected with frostbite, and countless demerits resounded within, preventing any movement, let alone a glance in any direction. As fate seemingly intended to answer her query, Tessa’s unclear eyes strugglingly darted around, catching sight of a familiar decapitated head, a blood-dripping iced body, and slashed-off arms. The unkempt raven-black hair and stunning beauty—yet, no matter what, she concentrated her hardest to focus her vision on the… No, it didn’t seem to retain that beauty.


Her eyes widened in horror as familiarity snapped into her mind – the decapitated corpse’s arms holding black dragon-tooth daggers, the cold blood-dripping limbs, and the slashed-off head pieced together. “U-uhh, ahhhh!” Trembling, her entire body shook, arms, legs, and teeth clacking, filling the desolate field with a concise conclusion. ‘Killy is dead!’

Having the same conclusion, Jenna sighed sharply, confirming beyond a shadow of a doubt that Tessa’s mana had been depleted, her mana core irreparably shattered. There was no last trick she could pull off; overwhelming demerits beckoned her into the abyss.


Daniel Lan. Northwestern stuck his shield at his back, flicked his greatsword to flick off blood, and turned his head. Despite being ready for the aftermath, bitterness filled him about how things turned out. Exhaustion and faint, hollow demonic voices around him slowly plagued him. It felt as though something had died within him, and something terrifying had awakened. Retracting his glance from the approaching indifferent mage, he replayed how the battle had unfolded until now.

Meanwhile, Jenna Rivel Callen clenched her frosty fist and gritted her teeth, pondering, ‘Where did it go wrong? What led to this?’ The Fortress was known for its unpredictability, but this had exceeded expectations. Although the battle was won, Jenna’s party found themselves in a complicated situation. Her body was in critical condition, burdened with demerits; the royal demon bore countless cuts, and her last party member remained unconscious.

Both the young demon and the mage wore a dull confusion in their eyes as if they had won a battle, not the war. Despite the victory, Jenna, as the second-in-command, faced the task of deciding what to do with Tessa Kendall.

“P-please let me live… You’re not a murderer, right?” Tessa’s stiffened lips begged for mercy, a visible fear of impending death in her eyes.

“We can go back to Eliluam, right? I’ll give you all my money. I have a lot and high-grade items. I was a hunter. You can scrape like 500k I-lupin from me,” Tessa desperately added.

“I see,” Jenna responded, her tone dull.

“R-really? If y-you j-just let me live!” Tessa’s face displayed an awkward composure, pleading for a chance at survival.

Jenna firmly stated, “You know I can’t do that,” closing her eyes in reflection.

Tessa Kendall’s face crinkled in response.

“The special objective stated that no one could get out until only one party was left,” Jenna said, opening one of her emotionless eyes.

“Y-yeah, y-you don’t know that. M-maybe there’s another way,” Tessa hoped for a solution that never existed.

“No,” Jenna declared firmly, “there aren’t. That’s why we fought to the death.” Despite her initial hesitation to kill instantly, she rejected the solution the fallen currently sought. And even if there were…

Why should she let someone who would nonetheless kill her go? She had almost died when the blue-haired mage’s considerable [Heatwaves] collided with her [Ice thorns]. The pressure was putting huge stress on her mana core. Of course, she knew killing a fellow human was morally challenging, but in this world, she had come too far to feel guilty. It was too late to be a saint, especially among her two party members who had already taken a human life for the survival of this raid.

“Darn,” Jenna muttered, exhaling visible frost as wisps of white currents swirled around her. The green-haired mage found herself at a loss for words. A grimy sensation engulfed her, akin to sinking into quicksand. Lukewarm blood oozed from wounds inflicted by the enemy’s [Heatwaves], mingling with the frostbite. Carefully, she laid the blue-haired mage flat on the ground. She wasn’t a martyr, and not everyone within the Fortress of Dungeon or Eliluam was, but she certainly wasn’t a cold-blooded hidden hunter either. Straddling those lines left her feeling hesitant and burdened with regrets.

Stats, skills, titles, and job-related traits underwent significant changes a century ago when monsters invaded Eliluam from Vulkan. The location of Vulkan remained a mystery, impacting individual choices yet eluding discovery to this day.

Hidden hunters and ‘Acolytes’ in labyrinths committed unspeakable acts: killing fellow hunters for selfish greed, bloodlust, rewards, and loot. Essentially, they were like lizards cutting off their own tails in the labyrinths. Hunters were meant to hunt monsters, not each other. So, how did she differ from the ‘bastard’ who seized control of the mage districts when her father disappeared during a crucial raid, her mother was never to be found, and her brother…? She became a hunter to unravel the mysteries surrounding her family and to question why that ‘bastard’ swiftly took charge of the mage’s district overnight.

Not this. Jenna’s fist clenched tightly in disgust and pain. The Fortress of Dungeons showed no regard for anyone’s goals, ambitions, or dreams; it only cared about raids, rewards, and growth. And if anyone attempted to extract more power from the Fortress it would bring demerits upon them. At this moment, Jenna finally grasped what the Fortress expected and wanted from every walker. She wasn’t inherently evil, but she wasn’t virtuous enough to let anyone hinder her goals, survival, and ambitions.

She extended her hands and slowly stomped toward the fallen mage.

“D-don’t! L-Let’s talk this out…” Despite the latter’s persuasive words, the green-haired mage twisted her frozen neck with an impressive [Strength] stat. Without heeding another word, her frozen head was separated from her neck.


At that moment, a new message materialized in front of their retinas.

Congratulations! You’ve cleared the special objective.

Bonus rewards are calculated into the B-rank rewards.

The Titan Orc Lord battle starts in 1 minute.

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