The instant Lucard leaped into the transportation circle, Faltima shouted, “Teleportation!”
For a split second, their field of vision went black.
In the blink of an eye, Faltima teleported them to a grove of trees near the royal capital. Unfortunately for them, this was the furthest a single person could teleport, unlike any other transportation circle.
Faltima had nevertheless used up every drop of her mana, and she was assailed by a sudden sense of fatigue.
She couldn’t afford to collapse yet.
Did Lucard make it?
Using her staff to support her, Faltima looked left and right.
Her battle-hardened, tall-figured partner was nowhere to be seen.
“LUCARD!” she screamed.
But alas, her voice futilely faded away into the horizon.
“Where the hell am I…?”
Lucard couldn’t begin to fathom the scenery before him.
Black—he was enveloped in jet-black nothingness. There was no ground. Lucard remained suspended in a sea of darkness. There was nothing to push against, so he couldn’t so much as move.
To put it another way: he was being kept in place.
“Humans. I can’t stand their odor.” A pair of eyes emerged from the void.
“You must be the sacrifice.” A pair of eyes emerged from the void.
“He shall be terminated all the same. Patience, patience.” A pair of eyes emerged from the void.
Instantaneously, a blinding light came into being before Lucard’s eyes.
“Uoh!?” Lucard couldn’t help but yelp. He covered his face with his hands.
A glittering white dragon appeared before him.
Three necks extended from the dragon’s torso. Lucard couldn’t tell the difference between each head, but they were different colors.
Blue, silver, and gold.
Three heads of those respective colors overlooked Lucard.
W-What is that?!
He felt a chill go down his spine—no, Lucard felt like the Grim Reaper himself was grabbing him by the heart.
Lucard instinctively knew—
He would die here.
He trembled, a primordial fear taking hold of his body. His very heart screamed out for dear life.
There’s no way out of here!
“Ah, you must be someone of Darkness,” the blue head said, closing its mouth. Blue light leaked from its closed lips, which grew in brightness and intensity by the second.
“Shall we purify your Darkness with our Light?” the silver head said, closing its mouth. Silver light leaked from its closed lips, which grew in brightness and intensity by the second.
“We shall teach your kind time and time again: Darkness cannot defeat Light,” the golden head said, closing its mouth. Golden light leaked from its closed lips, which grew in brightness and intensity by the second.
Lucard tried moving out of the way, but his body wouldn’t budge.
After all, he was floating in a vacuum of pure nothingness. There was no ground for his feet to step on, nor any water for his hands to swim across.
In this void of oblivion, there wasn’t any possible way to move.
…What should I do?! Lucard panicked. He tried searching for a way out—but there was none.
He was out of options, through and through.
Even if Lucard didn’t exhaust himself at the academy and was in tip-top condition, he wouldn’t dare oppose the dragon before him.
The light leaking from their mouths reached maximum output.
“Farewell.” The blue dragon opened its mouth. Akin to condensed magma, the back of its throat was filled to the brim with blue light, waiting to be unleashed.
“Farewell.” The silver dragon opened its mouth. Akin to condensed magma, the back of its throat was filled to the brim with silver light, waiting to be unleashed.
“Farewell.” The gold dragon opened its mouth. Akin to condensed magma, the back of its throat was filled to the brim with golden light, waiting to be unleashed.
Deathly silence followed, like the calm before the storm.
Then, cutting through the stillness without warning—
—three beams of light spewed forth from the dragon’s three mouths. The light struck Lucard with deadly accuracy, swallowing him whole.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Lucard screamed, scorched alive by its radiance.
Lucard’s body was slowly disassembled at the atomic level—
Lucard regained consciousness.
It was dimly lit, yet familiar. He felt the cool sensation of stone at his back, and he could make out a roof above him.
He didn—no, he did know where he was.
He knew, but in his bewilderment, he couldn’t help but give mouth to his doubts.
This was Darkness’ base, a shrine.
He reflexively jerked up. This was, without a doubt, a building he was familiar with.
Lucard looked at his hands. They were intact.
He touched his face and body with his hands. He was intact.
He was alive.
He was alive, and he had returned to the shrine.
He had thought he died after being engulfed by the three-headed dragon’s breath.
…What in the world…?
He heard the tap of a cane. “Hyohyohyohyo, you quite literally made it out by a hair’s breadth.”
Lucard looked in the direction of the sound. There stood a small-statured elderly man with a hood covering his face—Hermit.
“Allow me to explain… Judging from the mana residue, you were sent straight into the Divine Dragon King’s nest, o Son. That damned Carlyle must’ve used a divine-class spell.”
“…So Carlyle really was behind everything…”
“You then took a tremendous amount of damage, but just before you died, the Mask of Darkness’ power took effect.”
“The mask’s power?” Lucard placed his hand on the mask covering the top half of his face.
“Hyohyohyohyo. Did you think it was some useless, tacky mask? Good thing you had it on.”
“What’s this mask’s power you speak of?”
“When the wearer’s life is in danger, it teleports them to our shrine.”
To think it had such an ability. I thought it was just some useless, tacky mask.
“What a handy ability. Does the wearer make it out in one piece?”
“Indeed. However, it’s lost its effect.”
“…Lost, you say?”
“Teleporting requires a vast amount of Dark Power. The Mask of Darkness had accumulated such power for many moons, but it’s all dried up now. Please bear in mind that it won’t be available next time.”
I see, Lucard thought, satisfied with his explanation. Though I suppose it really is just some useless, tacky mask now.
“I suppose I ended up expending a trump card. How wasteful of me.”
“Hyohyohyohyohyo. No, not at all. It existed to protect your life, o Son. So long as you’re alive and kicking, it’s served its long-awaited purpose.” Hermit then changed the subject. “On that note, how was visiting the academy after all this time?”
Looking back, it went horribly. I used up the Mask of Darkness’ power, and Dáinsleif was broken into pieces.
Even after making so many sacrifices, I still didn’t manage to obtain the Seal of Darkness.
The only thing I did manage to obtain was information.
The white arrow magician who defeated the Crest Master: Albert Luminous.
Lucard’s school friend flashed through his mind.
“Guhah!?” Lucard let out a groan. Pain surged throughout his entire body. Even Lucard, a warrior of remarkable endurance, found himself unable to withstand the intense pain.
Lucard reflexively placed his hand on the stone bed. “W-What’s happening…?”
“I believe this is due to the Divine Dragon King’s breath.”
“…The Divine Dragon King…? Didn’t I avoid it… with the Mask of Darkness?”
“That dragon’s breath reduces the very soul to ashes—it’s quite the dreadful attack. You likely didn’t completely avoid damaging your soul.”
Lucard’s vision became blurry, and his breathing was rough.
He felt his consciousness sink away into a dark well. This sensation was similar to the fatigue he felt after training endlessly, his every cell screaming for rest.
“You require extended sleep… Recovering damage to the soul takes time,” Hermit said. Lucard could barely even hear him anymore. “…Although, we still have time before the fated day arrives. Rest for the time being, o Son. Sweet dreams—”
That was the last thing Lucard heard.
His consciousness slipped away into a dark abyss. His body lost all strength, crumbling to the ground.
Today’s chap. Next one coming later today or tomorrow, but pretty confident I can get it out today. Thanks for reading.