Soulmancer – Chapter 27: Lucid World & No pressure

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Izel jolted awake to the thunderous lightning tearing through the ominous clouds. Relentless rain fell, soaking not only his face but also his once-neat black curls and the ground beneath. Gasping in the heavy, damp air, each breath felt like a struggle. Amidst this tempest, crimson clouds clashed with sleek skyscrapers, raindrops adorning glass facades in an eerie dance. The world seemed caught between nature’s fury and the unyielding modernity of the cityscape.

‘Where is this…?’ The brown-skinned boy shook his head, ‘And why are my senses so heightened?’ He slowly raised his upper body from the wet ground, rain-soaked patterns imprinted around him. The alley, nestled within a glassy residential building, reeked of dampness. He took a moment to observe his surroundings, attempting to discern his location.

Suddenly, a series of heavy impacts struck his face and body as the impacts dispersed the downpour, making him floundered into the trash bin of goofy junk. It was a terrible moment to wake up to.

“WhO dO YoU ThInk Y-yOU ArE?”


His distorted senses soon clear, revealing a group of eight figures standing before him. They were pre-adults, well-built, with intimidating expressions etched on their faces.

‘Who are these people?’ Izel’s mind raced, struggling to recall as he slowly got up. Then, through his [Sound Reading]—echolocation effect—he picked up details about their attire. They wore letterman trench coats reminiscent of Balamount High School.

Memories from his distant past stirred within Izel’s mind, hazy yet familiar. The discovery of the letterman trench coat triggered recollections of his high school days. And right now expanding the ‘effect’ it seems he was in a particular dim alley of the first district. Both recollections, made him submerged in fragments of his former student life.

“SiTuAtION? SiNs!”

“HuMaN… ReVeNgE bEgANs!”

As fragmented memories coalesced into sudden realizations, Carlone J. Verdi’s ‘bodily languages’ emerged from the haze of recollection, triggering a flood of memories. The last conversation before this incident came rushing back:

[I heard you’ve been in the hospital seventy times in three years. I didn’t beat you that much?]

[When are you coming back? I want to see you.]

[I’m a little strapped for Lupin these days. Can you help?]

[Are you f*cking ignoring me? Pick up your damn Airpod.]

[You said you’d be coming back today.]

[I’m where we last met. Come right away; otherwise, I’ll get you rehospitalized.]

Those words, so malicious, were etched in his mind, echoing past instances of relentless bullying and constant demands for cash until his graduation. Bitterness gnawed at him, recognizing these guys as catalysts for his bleak and lonely life.

As these thoughts swirled, an eerie transformation seized the scene, shrouding it in an unsettling horror. Their previously coherent words now echoed disjointedly. Though he couldn’t see them, their faces became hideous, and grotesque features—revealing bones, oozing gore, and saliva—shattered any semblance of humanity. Amidst their demands for money and…

“Ple-please, I-l have the money; ple-please don’t be-beat me.”

…a plea for mercy, the blind boy couldn’t fathom why he was begging and couldn’t voice his confusion, seemingly adhering to the scene’s original flow. But he adamantly disagreed; he refused to undergo this torment again.

A sudden impact—a steel pipe whipped across the blind man’s cheek. ‘Huh!’ Izel was dumbfounded as he staggered backward. The pain throbbed through his wet cheek. How could these high school bullies dare to assault him, knowing his capabilities as a hunter and a walker? Past grievances aside, he resolved to rectify their insolent behavior.

First, he had to stop that pipe. He raised his arm to stop the pipe, but something felt wrong…



‘Slow… why?’

The pipe was fast, but why were his arms reaching for it so slowly? It made no sense—with his speed, he should already be holding that pipe and throwing a hard fist into their guts. ‘Ah!’ But confusion mounted. Was it due to past traumas? ‘Uh? What’s that?’ Then, a disturbing realization struck. His body felt smaller and weaker. Even his hand, moving at a snail’s pace towards the pipe, betrayed his expectations.

‘Too slow and too short?’

‘Huh?’ Hands this small and weak couldn’t halt it! This wouldn’t work!

Before he could act, the pipes landed squarely on Izel’s head, sending him collapsing onto the wet ground, convulsing in agony. Pain overshadowed all thoughts.

“Kuaaaaaa!” Izel clutched his head and rolled over amid the muddy water, the pain searing through him. ‘Even the audience with the gatekeeper hadn’t felt like this!’ Multiple blows from pipes, kicks, and punches rained down upon him, assaulting his every sense.

“Y-YoU BaStArD!” Carlone and the others berated him fervently, their dark eyes bulging with veins. “M-MoNey?!!!!????? BeAt YoU To DeAtH? We’LL FiNiSh iT! iF yOu gO cRaZy, yOu Go CrAzY! StUpId HoBbiT!”

Each word they uttered felt like a relentless assault, tearing at his mind in relentless waves of anguish and fear, distorting his thoughts and leaving him in a state of torment.

“Ack! Ack! Ack! Stop! I-I’m S-sorry!”

“Stop… ack!”

“Don’t Don’t!”

“Ah—it hurts! Ack!” Pain seared through Izel’s body, each strike ripping into his being. ‘Please, stop,’ he pleaded inwardly amidst the relentless assault. ‘I don’t deserve this.’ Tears streamed down his face, mixing with the rain and blood, his anguish drowned by the bullies’ malicious laughter. ‘I won’t give in,’ he vowed silently, even as his strength wavered with each brutal blow. “—Please, I only devour you for my survival—”


“—Stop! Stop it now, please!”


“—Ack! Accckk! I didn’t do anything wrong! Ack!”


“You—ah, ack! Sorry!”

The crushing continued with no remorse and increased every second.



“Spare meeeee!”

As if conveying that there were no second chances for revenge, Izel was mercilessly beaten to a pulp. However, amidst the assault, a faint hope flickered within him. It felt like someone had heard his desperate cries, emerging from a rupture in the chaos.

“Stop right there…”


The relentless beatings abruptly ceased with the persistent downpour. The bullies then shifted their attention to the approaching loud steps.

“… Vengeful souls!”

Upon the helper’s sudden appearance, it seemed to be Jane Austen, or at least that’s how it appeared to be.

— — — —

Meanwhile, Nanzahemir Hall, a once-elegant yet marred semi-large space, now bore the scars of recent clashes among mages. The atmosphere echoed the aftermath of their collision, marked by the devastation also caused by the demerits of the deceased blue-haired mage. Daniel, burdened by the weight of his actions, dismissed a message in front of his retina and sighed deeply. Despite his inner turmoil, he remained vigilant until the raid’s conclusion.

As the silence settled, Daniel turned to Jenna, seated beside the fallen blind Walker. “The battle’s over. Once the barrier falls, it looks like I’ll be the one to confront the boss.”

Observing the young demon’s face, the green-haired mage discerned a glimmer of liveliness in his eyes, yet his demeanor portrayed weariness, signaling his eagerness to conclude the lengthy raid. Jenna acknowledged her ‘own’ strained expression, realizing the harrowing experience the unconscious blind Walker must have endured. She struggled to conceal her emotions, knowing the weight of their recent actions—each taking a life—weighed heavily on their minds. Attempting to mask her inner turmoil proved futile in light of the significance it held for her companions, who hadn’t encountered such circumstances before.

“Are you okay?” Jenna inquired softly, her breath forming frosty clouds.

“I’m fine,” Daniel replied, biting his lip hesitantly.

“You don’t seem fine!” Jenna countered.

“Maybe not, but you look worse!” Daniel quipped back. But his attention was more on the fallen comrade, murmuring, “I wonder how Izel is faring.”

At the mumbling mention of Izel, Jenna’s complexion which was pale as snow, had a faint vapor emitted from her body due to a [Mana conversion] demerit as she felt a surge of concern for the blind Walker and sidely glanced at him, feeling an unexpected bond with him. Her attention returned to Daniel.

“Okay, Daniel, get ready for the boss monster,” Jenna instructed calmly.

“Why me? I’m exhausted too!” Daniel protested.

“Didn’t you just say you were the only one who could handle it?” Jenna retorted with a hint of sarcasm. She didn’t press further, returning to a composed expression.

With a click of his tongue, Daniel glanced at Izel and then at Jenna. After a moment, he sighed and stepped forward. “I guess, if you insist, this royal demon will lend a hand!”

“What are you implying?” Jenna asked, shocked by his response.

“You need my help, right? I’m here to assist,” Daniel clarified with an awkward, broad smile, that made Jenna tense up.

Suppressing her sudden frustration, Jenna shook her head. In this critical moment, she couldn’t afford to react strongly to his words. “Whatever. Just don’t get yourself killed,” she replied simply.

Their conversation ended abruptly as the entire hall rumbled, the once-protective barrier was lifted, and a grand message appeared before their eyes.

The Titan Orc Lord’s Raid began.

Time Left: 00 hours, 30 minutes

— — — —

As heavy rain poured and footsteps neared, a figure of the helper emerged. Graceful despite the downpour, she wore an overcoat resembling a refined robe, her slender yet sturdy frame framed by damp, ponytailed dreadlocks. Despite Izel’s inability to see her, the familiarity in her voice and nuances of her body language was unmistakable, instantly recognizable to him.

As he began contemplating the peculiar incident, a sudden occurrence startled him. The bullies seemed to perceive the approaching entity as a threat, reacting with thunderous roars.

“WhAt ThE FuCk?”

“I cAN’t BeLiEvE ThIS!”

“WhY’Re YoU HeRe?”

It appeared the blind man’s intuition had hit the mark. This familiar entity posed a genuine threat to them

“No, We CaN’t LeAvE HiM! ReVeNgE!” One of the figures, resembling Carlone, vehemently protested against the helper’s presence.

“Muhahahahaha!” The laughter of the helper resonated, cutting through the relentless rain. The bullies, now vengeful souls, assumed battle stances.

As moments passed, her gaze turned cold, mirroring the surge of mana that erupted through the alleyway, shattering the downpour. It confirmed beyond doubt that the entity before him was who he had suspected. The helper’s voice dripped with intense malice as she spoke, ‘You thought it was a request? It hardly matters now; I’m going to rid this place of all you lowlifes.’

As her chilling voice reverberated, instilling dread in their souls, the figure closest to her swiftly lunged with a steel pipe. ‘AHH!’ The attempt to deter them failed; Jane Austen couldn’t simply scare them away. With a composed gesture, she intercepted the steel pipe, redirecting it with precision. In a swift motion, she seized the assailant’s fist, applying a precise twist. A piercing scream filled the alleyway, the assailant fixated on their now-broken wrist, writhing in agony.

“DaMn iT—?”

“LEt’S AtTaCk HeR ToGeThEr!”


Amid their surprise, they maintained their resolve, uniting to confront the formidable entity. They moved forward together, synchronized in their approach. Jane Austen had already attuned herself to the situation. With Izel absent from the equation, she grasped the ensuing course of action. “Fear not. I’ll swiftly end this,” With her declaration, she hurled the convulsing figure forward and propelled herself toward the encroaching souls





Amid the relentless downpour and thunderous lightning cleaving the sky and the earth, an overwhelming surge of mana flooded the surroundings. Izel remained seated, blankly, as his innate ability of [Sound Reading] echoed and revealed the bone-chilling turmoil unfolding before him. Through the echolocation effect, he bore witness to the brutal scene, feeling disoriented and stunned by the intensity of the spectacle. The crackling energy of the mana and the sheer impact of the ongoing chaos created an atmosphere that seemed to rend both the very air and his senses.

After a while, the vengeful souls scattered and vanished into thin vapor, coinciding with the sudden cessation of the rain. The crimson sky gradually brightened as the clouds shifted. Jane Austen felt a sense of relief and accomplishment after defeating these external malevolent souls, now under her control. It was an easy victory, a simple conquest. Protecting the [Lucid world] was her responsibility, and despite her late arrival, this confrontation ranked among her easiest battles. These bully-like souls lacked any significant combat strength; they were merely faint echoes of transmuted Titan Orcs’ souls, ultimately inconsequential.

Looking at Izel, who was still intentively confused with tangled thoughts, Jane empathized with his vulnerability and fragility, recognizing the significant impact of his attempt to change the situation. She understood the torment his memories inflicted, evident in his struggle to connect with others due to frequent hospital visits and traumatized experiences. Jane approached the bewildered blind boy, stepping closer.


Realizing that Izel needed a blend of friendship, courage, and love, she acknowledged that he could continue raiding the fortress while receiving her aid. However, she believed that what worked best for him was an adventurous path that allowed him to grow. Discarding the steel pipes, Jane extended her hand to the perplexed blind boy.

“Hello, Izel.”

“Huh… yes.” The blind boy awkwardly responded, snapping out of his daze.

“Don’t lower your guard; avoid being infected by souls.” Jane extended her hand with a smile. “Would you leave this young maiden hanging?”

“Ah!” Izel took her hand and stood up. He noticed Jane towering over him, unable to grasp how short he was in comparison.

As if tuning into his thoughts, she chuckled, “Ohoho, comparing heights, are we? What an offense!” Her tone, though not overly intense, held a hint of irritation, evoking in Izel a familiar chill he’d felt whenever Jane grew momentarily annoyed with his weird words or expressions. However, for once, Izel was certain this wasn’t the ‘real’ Jane but a manifestation of this world, protecting him. He scratched his head and inquired, “Can you explain? Why do you resemble Jane Austen, and where and what is this place?”

“Well…” Jane hummed with her eyes closed as if pondering deeply. After a moment, she slowly opened her eyes. “…You’ll understand in time. But what I can tell you is that this place is you, and I’m you!”

“What…?” The vague response only added to Izel’s confusion. Before he could ask further questions, the entire environment trembled. Not confined to a single spot, the entire Lucid World shook violently. Amidst the unstable ground, Jane Austen spoke, but suddenly a white noise filled the space.

Despite the cacophony of words, Izel struggled to grasp their meaning amidst the distorted white noise.

“Never let this world succumb to sorrow or tears. I cherish vibrant, natural landscapes with sunny skies, fluffy clouds, lush forests, and thriving wildlife. And…” She gently touched her cherry-red lips. “Hurry back; your new friends are in danger…”


His heartbeat raced as a bright light engulfed him, whisking him away.

“… Good luck!”

As the [Lucid world] stabilized, Jane’s appearance transformed into a more mature version of Izel. This figure sported short, spiky white-silver hair with bangs over his black blindfold, a fairly brown-skinned complexion, appearing notably older – around 28 years old. “Do you think I wouldn’t know you’re still there?”

A figure emerged from hiding, visibly pale. “It wAsN’t oUr FaUiT…”

The robed blind man cut in, repulsed by the vengeful soul’s resemblance to Carlone, despite their scattered words. “You can phrase it however you like, but no one in here will live because…” His expression turned icy with a broadened smile. “…This place is off-limits, you know!”

Swiftly, he picked up a nearby steel pipe and closed the distance, swinging it toward Carlone’s head. As it neared, “AHhH, P-pLeAsE SpArE mE!”

A tap—it barely touched Carlone’s head. In that instant, fear overcame him as he wet his pants. The soul wasn’t a coward, yet this entity was terrifying. The blind man leaned in. “Do you think if you plead like this, I’ll forgive you? You’re mistaken…”

His expression conveyed a sense of annoyance rather than enjoyment. “… this is too bothersome”

A bone-jerking strike to the gut caused a shockwave. Before Carlone fell, the blind man grabbed his head, and he was devoured. Standing still for a moment, he pondered how this had turned messy, knowing the other Izel would rectify this with minimal aid. With that concluded, a rupture appeared, and he stepped through, yawning. “Izel, you better not come anytime soon, or less…” It was just too bothersome.

* * *

Izel jolted up as if propelled. He felt ‘terribly’ cold and confused. Dirt and blood patches clung to his cloak, and the chaotic surroundings outlined his disorientation. Urgent battle sounds filled his senses, coming from a specific direction.

“What’s happened? Are you okay?” A calm yet familiar voice cut through the chaos.

“… Jenna?”

At the rear, seated motionless on the floor, the blue-haired mage appeared delighted at the once-fallen blind Walker’s awakening, but her expression soon returned to indifference. “You seem okay; I’m glad.”

“Hm. How long was I out?” Despite the mage’s change of expression, Izel was attuned to such bodily language and was relieved someone was pleased he didn’t die.

“Well, about an hour or so.” It wasn’t a precise response, but better than nothing. Sensing faint, cold vapor and dense currents around her, Izel understood the obvious: she had pushed herself too far again. “Are you ‘really’ okay? How’s your body?”

She examined herself and sighed. “Not bad; I’m getting better. So…” Slowly raising her frosty arm, she rested her broken, frozen magical staff on her lap. “What about you?”

He understood she referred not to his physical well-being, but his mental state. “Hm. I’m still confused, scared, and cold.”

“I see. But why didn’t you say so earlier?”

Izel remained silent. The experience of taking a life and nearly being beaten to death in a surreal yet tormenting encounter had left him terrified. He comprehended the vulnerability of his mind at that point, haunted by the drowned-out cries of his fallen partymate.

Jenna’s heart empathized with the blind man’s unease, prompting her to console him, “There’s no rush; take your time. You’ll get through this.” Drawing from her own experience of confronting a similar challenge alone, she aimed to offer him the comfort she once craved in those moments of solitary struggle.

Meanwhile, Izel’s keen senses scoured the area for any trace of Daniel. His [Flawlation] skill meticulously examined the surroundings, revealing fallen allies but no sign of the carefree demon.

“What about Daniel?” Izel inquired, a tinge of concern lacing his voice.

“He’s facing off against the Titan Orc Lord, the Boss,” responded the green-haired mage.

Izel’s focus momentarily faltered, as if his usually sharp [Flawlation] skill struggled to capture the full essence of the scene. However, a jarring clash reverberated, followed by a menacing growl, bringing him sharply back to the present.


In the shadow of a throne adorned with grimacing skulls stood Daniel, locked in combat with the imposing Titan Orc Lord. The repulsive monster exuded a pungent stench of sulfur, its armored form brandishing a lethal, poisoned axe in both arms.

The chaos assailing Daniel clouded his senses; each clash drained his [demonic energy], intensifying the excruciating torment.

[Demonic power charge: 20.00%]

Despite the relentless agony, Daniel persevered, wielding his greatsword to fend off the monstrous assaults. Memories of past peril surged forth, reigniting the familiar tendrils of fear that gripped his heart.

“Why does it always come to this…!” Daniel’s anguished cry reverberated in the cavernous hall, the faint glow of his greatsword emitting a protective aura of [Demonic anti-magic] swung toward the Titan Orc Lord.

Izel, unnoticed by Daniel, made a resolute declaration, “He hasn’t seen me yet. It’s time to help.”

Jenna nodded, placing her trust in Izel’s decision. Their intervention signaled the approaching end of this arduous raid.

Just as he was about to cautiously step past the fallen foe, a familiar voice resonated within his mind, accompanied by a surge in haptic feedback.

[‘A Special condition has been met. Activating ‘Soul Assimilation (E)’]

Stunned, he hesitated, taking in the sight of the deceased human emitting an ominous black glow.

[‘Would you like to devour the ‘Randell Kinsey’?


Repeatedly, a series of messages inundated his thoughts. Initially bewildered, Izel swiftly grasped the implicit demand from the fortress. It upheld a centuries-old tradition, urging him to adhere to the cruel norm of consuming the vanquished.

‘Soul Assimilation’. The skill acquired post the defeat of ‘Albino’, the goblin king, now whispered enticing promises of strength through the consumption of not only transmuted monsters’ souls but also humans. The conflicting whispers left Izel torn between power and principle, an unsettling choice demanding certainty he couldn’t yet provide.

Standing amidst the echoes of his recent actions, Izel grappled with the weight of his moral code. While life had been taken, the notion of devouring the soul felt like crossing an irreversible line. The fortress subtly prodded, weaving its expectations into his consciousness, pressuring him to forsake his beliefs.

“No,” he murmured, ignoring the series of messages. “Not now. I need to think, don’t pressure me.”

Amidst the lingering resonance of the fortress’s ethereal murmurs, Izel pressed onward, the unmade decision weighing heavily on his conscience.

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