Soulmancer – Chapter 29: New Principles

After the young demon’s carefree departure, the green-haired mage remained visibly aghast and irritated by his loud misunderstanding, indirectly teasing her. Her face exhibited a mix of frustration and embarrassment, with wrinkles forming on her forehead that, under different circumstances, might have popped. “That damned idiot calling me his girlfriend… Puff, Huff!”

However, she found herself helplessly lashing out, consumed by the abnormality that had amassed around her being. Izel, awkwardly chuckling, kept urging her to take it easy and not overdo it.

Alas, the embarrassed statement ‘really’ from the young demon struck a nerve. Typically, she wouldn’t be bothered by such provocation, but this time, he ensured to taunt her just seconds before entering the portal, implying his victory.

“Dieeeeeeeee! You Damned Demon!”

As though, imagining the demon’s grey, handsome face, he shrugged his shoulders proudly, flashing an evil yet cool smile. Jenna’s lashing out resonated through the expansive hall. As her mind cleared, frost exuded from her lips, groaning at the white currents nibbling on her internals. “Ugh!” she exclaimed, taking deep breaths.

Izel, sensing her bodily responses diminishing, sighed and asked, “And, in the end, you accepted it?”

The mage, understanding the vagueness, didn’t directly agree or contradict. Instead, she redirected with a query, “Why did you accept his friend request?”

“I meant,” he replied, “you weigh all factors rationally more than I do, so it was unexpected.”


“Umm…” Jenna rose slowly from the disheveled ground, the demerit’s effects subsiding, and a faint speck of mana gained—a small relief compared to the meager drops of water. Despite the groans escaping her lips due to the change of position and the lingering agony from stiffened bones and muscles, it was now more endurable. Still, her limbs trembled, and she summoned all the strength she could to stabilize them.

“He sent us both a friend request, and I don’t want to decline him after spouting all that nonsensical hero’s ideologies,” she explained, her face tinged with embarrassment at the sudden change in character. Balancing her shuddering limbs, she grappled with the pain from wounds obtained in the fierce battle against Tessa, the now-deceased blue-haired mage.

“I’m glad you didn’t,” Izel sighed. It was apparent the mage was cautious and calculating. While he considered forming a friendship with the carefree young demon, he couldn’t muster enough courage to ask. Accepting this irrational decision, the blind Walker hoped it wouldn’t lead to problems in the future.

Jenna, slowly channeling mana through her rigid veins and stiff receptors, finally gained a somewhat firm footing. She reflected on Izel, who, at first glance, seemed like an emotionless figure with an authoritative voice but wasn’t. Despite his mysterious blindness, he acted cautiously among strangers, humbly when requesting from others, and protectively against… Jenna couldn’t finish her thought, still unsure if it was true. However, she acknowledged his extreme danger to enemies and his awkwardly slow learning in trying to survive in this chaotic world. Overall, striving to achieve his ‘own’ goals and ambitions, he seemed to have no choice but to survive another day in the Fortress of Dungeons. Having completed her thoughts, Jenna now regarded him as, at the very least, a decent person.

“You’re strong,” Jenna declared, breaking the silence. “If only you were a hunter on Eliluam, you could probably be stronger than me.”

They had fought alongside each other during a raid, but it was merely an assumption.


“Hehehe” Izel chuckled softly as those words sent a shiver down his spine. What if she knew he had lied about being a porter, presenting himself as an F-rank Hunter in the outside world until just six days ago? The thought of that revelation lingered, bringing a hint of stress. He had just grown a little stronger after coming and struggling desperately just to survive in this place.


Out of nowhere, the mage’s snow-white finger emitted subtle currents, diffusing frost as it tapped the space in front of her. For a moment, he puzzled over this mysterious action, as his [Flawlation] only revealed black ripples bouncing through singular points. Soon, her intent became evident.

C-rank Walker Jenna Rivel Callen has sent you a friend request.

‘Huh?’ Izel briefly puzzled over this endeavor. It was one of the features of the Forum that the young demon had just used earlier. He had forgotten about it, never expecting a time would come so quickly that he would have to make use of it.


That’s not all, another familiar haptic feedback jolted through his consciousness, leaving Izel momentarily speechless. Swiftly, he sheathed his shortsword into its scabbard, deftly diffusing mana into the ‘Hunter’s Kit’ that persistently beeped within his partially burnt, pocket-sized bag strapped over his wrist. The carved orb automatically responded, causing it to levitate out of its pouch.

[An unregistered personnel asked for your serial number.]

[If this unregistered personnel isn’t a known identity, consider reporting it as spam with a ‘Yes’ option.]

The messages flashed on its curved screen, though Izel, unable to see them, heard the words echo in his mind. Regarding this orb-like Hunter’s kit, when one connects with a registered serial number, communication through calling and texting is possible as long as the Hunter is a known identity that the receiver permits. However, if not, marking unregistered personnel as spam is the best choice.

The mage observed the blind Walker’s subtly bewildered expression and swiftly rephrased her proposition with a sigh, “Uh, um, feel free to ignore both if you’d like.”

“I never thought I’d end up getting hit on by a mage.”

“I didn’t know you had jokes. I thought you’d have a stale-ass personality.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m exactly fun either.”

Izel rotated the tendrils of mana, enveloping his Hunter’s kit, and tapped its contour, directing it to Jenna. He relayed his serial number displayed on the screen. Jenna reciprocated by stating her serial number, which he absorbed into his thoughts as the Hunter’s kit retracted. When they finished exchanging serial numbers, he spoke again, “…Unlike Daniel, you’re more mysterious.”

“Awwww. Really?”

“Of course.”

As the slight wind whispered through the edges of the grand entry door, gently fluttering her partially tattered, blood-stained Vega Robe, and her long, frosty green hair lightly flapped, the mage released another burst of frost, stating, “Is that so? You may discover more about me later.”

Yawning wearily, she retrieved a piece of her broken staff and stowed it in her pouch bag. “…Well, if you’re that curious about my background, come find me in the ‘Mage District’ when you reach Eliluam. Look for me at the Archmage Tower.”

“Is that so?”

“Y-yes!” Fatigued, she trudged restlessly toward the crimson portal.

In response, Izel couldn’t help but smile at her identity, a mage far surpassing her ex-hunter rank. It indicated significant improvement before entering the Fortress, and her luck as ‘Diana Ross’ in the Forum, associated with the Archmage Tower, was unexpected. Truly, she was an intriguing and mysterious teenager. Fate had led him to this unique friend, and with her newfound attitude, he retracted any notion of her being dull at the party.

However, he couldn’t fully grasp her true face, only sensing her black outline amid a white background. Still, he could feel the autumn-like eyes and the trail of graceful features harboring around her, amid an aura of ethereal yet calm temperament following her every move and word. As someone who taught him the principle of [Mana Inspection], she undoubtedly possessed a nice side.

“Though it might take a while to find me, just chat me up once you’re there. Since you’re blind, those fools would underestimate you,” she coughed; after all, only a few are ‘actually’ great. “I mean, mages.”

Izel nodded stoically at her words, quietly appreciating the rare sight of a mage belittling her peers. It only added to his favorable impression of her. Despite the invitation, he couldn’t forget the consequences of the last one he accepted. He sighed deeply, deciding to leave deciphering her motives for later. He wasn’t thoughtless; distinguishing goodwill from ill intent wasn’t beyond him. He opened his mouth, gesturing, and the mana around his floating Hunter’s Kit disappeared into his pocket-sized bag. “Alright, I’ll leave a message when I get there.”

Walker Izel Ethalt Blind has accepted your friend request.


[An unregistered personnel had accepted your serial number.]

[Prioritize saving this personnel serial number for easy access…]

A faint smile appeared on her face as she read messages from both the side of her retinas and the black crystal-carved orb screen of her Hunter’s kit. Her expression seemed genuine.

“I’ll be heading out now too. Get to the A-rank raid waiting room safely,” Jenna declared her farewell. Her body tensed up due to abnormal conditions within her. With each flinch, a low-pitched painful groan escaped her, “Ouch!” She took slow, trembling steps and… “Damn. That bitch broke my expensive staff!” Ignoring her earlier act of throwing the other half at the young demon, she groaned again, noticing the bad shape of her [Vega] robe.


“Okay. I wish you a safe return as well.”


As the mage stepped fully into the portal, the once adult-sized crimson portal shrank back to nothingness.

The sudden silence in the hall felt foreign, but it was short-lived. Izel’s full attention swiftly shifted to the flood of notifications springing to life in his mind.

[Bonus Effect (2): Augmentation had been forcibly activated.]

[Augmentation has been acknowledged. Permanently augmenting stats using the essence reserves…]

[Strength augmented by 1.]

[Constitution augmented by 1.]

[Mana augmented by 1.]

[Stamina augmented by 1.]

[Agility augmented by 1.]


Izel’s expression shifted dramatically as a barrage of fourteen messages beeped. “This… What is this?” he wondered aloud.

Why hadn’t he considered it earlier? Why? Was it due to preoccupation with recent events, or did confusion create a tangled mess in his mind? Regardless, the mysterious out-of-the-blue notifications consumed his thoughts for the next few minutes. ‘Does this really have to do with that [Inner world] I found myself in earlier?’

He never augmented his stats with any of the essences at his disposal. Yet, his ‘capacitance’ remained empty.

[Capacitance: 0/10.]

Izel sensed nothing, not even a hint of adrenaline coursing through his body. It felt as if he hadn’t been the one augmenting his stats using the transmuted souls. Something within him, yet not quite him. Maybe it was just his imagination, not the entity he glimpsed during unconsciousness. Could this Jane-like figure be related to it? The possibility hadn’t crossed his mind. He pondered, ‘There’s no way to be certain if the Jane-like entity is real.’

But if both were true, could that entity and the enigmatic place be valuable companions or harbingers of destruction? It had protected him before, but could it bring ruin? Izel’s head shook, realizing he was overthinking. He rubbed the side of his head, attempting to relieve the pain that well up there. There was nothing to do right now, yet ignoring it wasn’t an option. He guessed all he could do was put it close to his heart and to do that, acknowledging that time was what he needed.

“What a stupid, ridiculous gamble,” he chuckled, unable to contain his bafflement. A mysterious niche bearing a resemblance to the ‘first district,’ he found himself—yet, the Jane-like entity also represented him. As confusing as it sounded, if he took proper care of this niche as instructed before vanishing from the [Inner World], perhaps

“Never let this world succumb to sorrow or tears. I cherish vibrant, natural landscapes with sunny skies, fluffy clouds, lush forests, and thriving wildlife.”

It could be his companions and powerful allies. In other words, he had to be level-headed at all times and never let his guard down. Izel stopped his train of thought as the pain swerving through his head subsided. ‘Let’s stop dwelling on it.’

Overthinking was deemed a taboo. In the present moment, he needed to concentrate on the task at hand. Instead of succumbing to despondency over these strange events, he found solace in reaching this point. Raiding in an alternate world filled with uncertainty, mysterious niches, laws, regulations, dungeons, and entities turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It granted him, a once despondent blind man with nothing, a chance at life. Despite pushing everyone to their limits through life-threatening battles and encouraging conflicts among Walkers amid fighting monsters, those fortunate enough to survive gained valuable experiences in survival and growth, coupled with enchanting rewards. However, amid Izel’s internal turmoils and trauma, he acquired something more today.

“I’ve made new friends,” he said, a faint smile curling his lips as his gaze swept over the outlines of the dead Walkers in the Hall.


Taking a few strides, his mind could finally distance itself from all of this, allowing him to see everything in a more objective light. Blinded by the rewards the Fortress had dangled in front of him and consumed by thoughts of surviving another day, Izel had concluded in his heart that the abnormal nature of the Fortress of Dungeons made people stronger. Initially, he had contemplated finding a way to avoid it, but the desire to succeed in the raid prevailed. Alas, it wasn’t the way.

However, after experiencing the terror of taking a life—the despair, agony, and profound physiological trauma that he felt for the first time in his life—he acknowledged it was unlike the normal trauma he usually experienced. Despite it being more than he bargained for, he still wanted to keep going. He still aspired to become the strongest to protect those dearest to him, live a luxurious life, and conquer all the dungeons in the Fortress.

A part of him craved knowledge regardless, while the other kept lamenting how inhuman he became with each raid. Yet, it was the elusive Fortress of Dungeons, shrouded in secrecy by the Guild, that kept most Eliluam citizens in the dark. Izel speculated this mysterious alternate world mirrored the subterranean labyrinths across Eliluam. His quest was not just to unravel the FFO secrets, but to fathom the origins of monsters’ outbreaks from Vulkan, and the creation and division of Eliluam into districts.

However, these points didn’t get to him; instead, he sought to stride toward his goals, driven by ambition. He realized that the one who adapted the most could traverse all districts and thrive among the superior races. While Eliluam and the Fortress of Dungeons differed in beings, strength, growth, laws, and regulations, Eliluam maintained a balanced system with fewer risks and greater rewards. In Eliluam, an F-rank Hunter ascending to immense power and luxury was deemed impossible due to its structured yet lenient environment. The two worlds offered distinct paths. In this case—.

“To achieve my goal through this deadly and blood-soaked path, I need to establish principles for myself.” Izel absentmindedly mused aloud. Regardless of how beneficial this mysterious alternate world is to Eliluam, his birth planet, offering a chance to surpass his intended strength, he might risk losing what he fights for or his humanity. Despite his tangled and messy thoughts resisting such a path, for the sake of his goals and ambitions, he will have no choice but to tread it. He must create principles that safeguard his actions for power, ensuring protection for love, friends, endurance through struggles, and the pursuit of revenge.

“… SS+ Raiding huh?” He abruptly thought aloud. Normally, he planned to stop when he conquered the SS+ raid, but since anyone who remained would do so of their ‘own’ volition, he had decided to also keep raiding. Nodding his head with a firm conclusion, his feet parted the ground slowly walking over…

[Special conditions have been met.

Activating ‘Soul Assimilation (E)’]

to the corpse of the Titan Orc Lord, not the rest of the Walkers.

[Would you like to devour the Goblin King ‘Albino’?


Izel decided to agree to the message to devour the stiff, gloaming Goblin King.

[Soul Assimilation (E) has been activated.]

A black hazy soul flowed from the hefty decaying body and swarmed into him. Simultaneously, another notification rang in his mind.

[Effect(1) Transduction has been activated.]

[You have devoured the Essence of the Titan Orc Lord.]

“I’ll never devour any humans to augment my stats, either in the Fortress or on Eliluam,” he declared. Despite the knowledge that consuming Walkers or Hunters he defeated could provide profound stats and enhance his growth prospects, Izel remained resolute. “I will grow while preserving my humanity,” he continued, firmly solidifying his commitment. With that conclusion, Izel sighed. Moreover, he was well aware of the immense agony he experienced simply by slaying the Dealer. To devour innocent souls would not only be devastating to his mental fortitude but also perilous to his humanity.

[Capacitance: 1/10.]

After the stream of messages, a concise message announces a new outcome of his skill.

[Due to devouring your first ‘hefty’ transmuted soul ‘essence’ in a while the proficiency had risen by 5%.]

“Oh! It increased.” Izel’s attention shifted to the beeping concise message. Simply put, the ‘Soul Assimilation’ proficiency is 30% in total, which hasn’t increased since the D-rank. Soon after, a bizarre yet somewhat familiar sensation permeated Izel as if he was overflowing with vitality. As his body flinched a little, “Hu!” He let out a deep breath. Having decided he wouldn’t kill meaninglessly, but he would if only it had to do with his survival and the lives of his friends or loved ones. And if it was those like ‘Hidden Hunter’ or ‘Acolyte’ it would be too late to have any qualms about spreading their blood anyway.

Bowing his head to each Walker’s corpse, his [Flawlation] viewed the beheaded two Walkers who fought his friends and the one he killed. All he could was pay his farewell, which brought tears rolling down his blind spot. Who would have known Izel had a soft heart for those who were controlled to fight for their survival and power? If he wasn’t lucky, he would have been the one on the chilly disheveled floor dead. He sobered silently, as the flashback of the events of the ended raid rolled like steering film in his mind. If luck wasn’t part of life and given unfairly, he would never win the lottery of having the best party mates and now friends to protect him when his luck suddenly ran out.

After sobbing while motionless for a few seconds, he patted away the tears from his blindfold, he dragged each body and ‘parts’ together, with a notion, that once party mates would stay as party mates in death forever.

“Ah!” He let out a deep breath, while the screaming and rambling of the trauma in his mind, he clutched his head from distress for a while, ‘I can’t digest these essences now…’ He briefly thought amid his unstable condition. If he pushed his mind beyond its threshold at this moment, the mental barrier that was now pieced together would be broken. And with such a terrifying experience still racing within the back of his mind, Izel grunted, wishing to never endure that again.

So he had to be more careful, and more level-headed to never let his guard down for such an ordeal again. Neglecting the unsure [Inner World] and Jane-like entity, he might not survive again if that happens again. In that case, Izel needed to be in a full or partial mental state to digest and augment his stats. Having paid his farewell to what transpired today in this lengthy and now-ended raid, he slowly walked into the crimson portal.

He could always check on the increased +20 mana stat and practice that [Mana Inspection] he learned from Jenna later. It was time to heal up first.

Teleporting to the waiting room.

* * *

You have entered the A-rank Dungeon waiting room.

Stepping out of the disappearing portal into the somewhat familiar yet different antique-ancient Chinese-era-styled waiting room. It was as cold and desolate as always, with its eucalyptus-like scent assaulting the blind man’s nostrils. Walking to the outline of the only furniture, the white bed in the middle, amidst, the jet-black croquis of glowing gems adorning the ceiling.

Healing all injuries and status fatigue. This effect is consistently applied in the waiting room.

After the resonated concise notification, a gray mist began to escape from him, while colorful lights engulfed him, mending his injuries and relieving his fatigue. With only the sticky, coagulated blood-staining parts of his cloak, Izel sighed as he removed his blindfold.

[Flawlation (F) has been deactivated.]

Finally, he was able to deactivate the skill that took a long toll on his unstable willpower. As it squeezed between his right fist, Izel fell flatly onto the white bed.

All E-rank dungeon raids of ‘Extreme’ difficulty had been completed.

Reactivating the ‘Extreme’ difficulty—fortress operating system. All commands are reactivated; commands require verbal execution.

After the series of announcements concluded, Izel returned to reality.

“So fast,” he questioned how early the re-activation of the Fortress system arrived despite the run of multiple realities in a raid, unlike the last one. Unfortunately for him, that wasn’t all as the air around him vibrated vividly creating a relapse of thought within him. Sitting upright, a familiar sensation tensed his neck again, but to his surprise, it was different this time.

Less than a thousand Walkers have succeeded in raiding the B-rank dungeon.

Due to that unexpected factor. The Fortress Expansion is starting now rather than the intended date.

A new ‘Ranks system’ has been implemented in the Fortress System. A rank system that ranks all raids, ‘Raid Analysis’ is being created.

‘New categories’ are being added to the trading center. ‘More items’ are now available in the trading center alongside ‘double’ and ‘higher’ demerits on each item that had been added.

‘Sub-Raids’ had been implemented. You are now able to choose which sub-raids you will take between major raids.

The new branch system ‘SABER’ has been further delayed to the same intended date.

New features and changes were added to the Fortress system. You are now able to change your alias.

“A Fortress System Expansion?” Briefly puzzled as he repeated aloud. He soon sighed, relieving his beating heart, which had tensed off earlier. This is the third time since the E-rank Waiting Room announcement of the entry of the administrator. “SABER had been delayed,” Izel thought aloud, clicking his tongue in disgust at the abnormal workaholic activity of the administrator.

That’s not even all, “… Double and Higher demerit on items.” His expression got pale as though the biggest fear of this alternate world had come true. He felt like crying, he had never gotten used to the single demerit feature, but now ‘double’ and ‘higher’. He doesn’t seem to catch a break.

But his gloomy expression soon returned to normal. Amid the delays, other development like ‘Sub-Raids’, more items, and new categories was implemented in the Fortress. So he needed to pay attention to the task at hand. ‘Raid Analysis.’ And most of all, ‘Was the early Fortress system expansion arrival ‘really’ had to do with the recent decrease of Walkers?’ He contemplated. Or was it something else?

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