EP - 046 - Duel (2)

“…What were you thinking?”

Atallante murmured while holding her face. It was a mixture of anger and lamentation.

I don't have anything to say.

She's running around trying to clean up the mess I've caused.

Despite the fact that what I've done is a colossal diplomatic and political disaster, she still went ahead and handled all the necessary procedures for the upcoming duel.

I guess she'll trying to accommodate everything I do. 

Of course, that doesn't ignore the fact that this was crazy. 

“An academy student requested a high-ranking battle priest to a duel. Were you fully aware of what you did?”

She questioned with a sigh.


As soon as I answered so in a flat voice, Atallante's sigh deepened.

“Regardless of your exemption, you have caused quite a stir. Even the Imperial Family and Tribal Union have started paying attention to this matter.”

Atallante spoke in a hushed voice.

“Why did you do this? Considering your disposition, it's hard to believe you did it without reason.”

I smiled at her words.

The reason?

Of course, there's a reason.

“You told me to seduce the devil vessels. I found one. This is all part of the plan.”

“…I have already confirmed that a ‘fragment’ manifested in Yuria Greyhounder.”

Atallante replied in a somber voice.

“She was already one of the possible vessel candidates, but her manifestation was the fastest. This speed is undoubtedly unexpected.”


The list of 'candidates' she gave contained various names. Given the circumstances and conditions, there were several people who were more likely to manifest their fragment faster than Yuria. 

For example, Riru Garda, a key character in Chapter 3, and Feinol Raifec in Chapter 5.

Yet, it was Yuria who manifested the fastest...

“…Is it because of my frequent contact?”


Atallante gave a wry smile.

The nature of my soul, 'loved by all evil.' 

No matter which way you look at it, it's a trait that's designed to reel in the 'devil fragments'.

“Do you know what the 'butterfly effect' is, President?”

“…Yeah? What is it about?”

What is it about? It's about how much of a btch it is. 

Ever since I got involved in the main scenario, it never seemed to favor me. 

Every choice I made so far just kept on growing bigger and bigger, and it always comes back to this.

‘…Ultimately, I'm the cause of it all.’

Honestly, hoping everything will go according to the 'original' while doing what's convenient for me is quite conscienceless.

Still, I was going to overlook most things and just move forward.

I'm just surviving. I didn't really think of even touching the story. 



There is a limit.

Yuria and Lucien.

They were significantly affected by my presence.

Yuria might have never awakened as a vessel her whole life and Lucien wouldn't have experienced extreme torture. 


Then Elnore and Elijah's faces also flashed through my mind.

Them too.

I'll eventually have to face the consequences.

“Well, anyway.”

I said with a bitter smile.

“I don’t think there’s any reason why I shouldn’t have saved her right away. Rescuing someone from torture isn’t a bad thing, is it?”

The ‘gust from the butterfly's wings’ that triggered the current situation was, after all, caused by me.

That's why, I will take responsibility.


Atallante looked at me in the eye for a moment before sighing again.

It looked like she resigned herself to the situation. 

“A high-ranking battle priest is no random thug. There will undoubtedly be a reaction from the Pope's side. They might even observe directly.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes, it's not a situation we can just brush off.”

Atallante’s gaze sank.

“The Pope is dangerous. I don't know what you're planning, but if you get involved, it might be wise to reconsider.”

I fully understood Atallante’s words.

After all, this wasn't just anyone were talking about, it's the Pope. Credo Baor II. The strongest among the priest class and the leader of the Holy Land.

Even in the game, he was a villain who tormented players until the late stages.

Some might even argue that dealing with him was more challenging than the devil worshippers, who were the biggest hurdle in the scenario.

Even someone as capable as Atallante couldn't just intervene. It's not like she's simply watching Lucien suffer for entertainment, rather, her intervention would be as effective as throwing eggs at a rock.

In other words, he's nothing but danger. 


I have to do this now.

I don’t have a choice. 

‘…This is so dogsht.’

This situation is just absurd.

I can’t afford to fail the main quest, otherwise my life would be game over.

Because of my constitution, I have to tie the knots of the devil vessels that keep on intertwining with me, and at the same time, take care of their mental health. Else, who knows how the devils they harbor would rampage.


Well because of my gift, the devils naturally like me, so it might not matter. 

But depending on the devil's disposition, they could genuinely chop off my limbs, throw me into some isolated cell, and rear me like livestock.

They're called 'devils.' I can't even begin to imagine what twisted definition their affection is. 

The fact that the Gray Devil within Elnore simply treated me and then withdrew is very unusual.


1. Clear the main quest.

2. Get close to the devil vessels and manage their mental.

If I can't do both of these things, I'm dead. The difficulty level is off the charts.


So, if there is a way to break through both...

Even if it’s dangerous, I have need to commit. Regardless if the Pope's side comes. 

What else can I really do? 

“The Greyhounder sisters, artificial beings created by the Holy Land.”

Hearing what I muttered, Atallante looked at me in shock. 

This, under normal circumstances, is one of the highest classified secrets of the Holy Land.

The Homunculus Plan. The vile byproduct of the lifelong 'grand endeavor' of the Pope. 

“The President is aware of the nature of those two, right? In order to prevent Yuria, who awakened as a vessel, from getting worse, the two must be brought together. Otherwise, her sanity will truly collapse.”


“For that, I have to do this duel. We have to shake off the interference from the Holy Land.”

“…Is that even possible? From one duel?”

“Yes, without a doubt.”

Currently, it's not possible.

But I plan to make that happen "during" the duel.

An impact that will force the Holy Land to withdraw.


The means are there.

I didn’t prepare for this situation, but if my prediction is correct, I definitely have a ‘combination’ that has the value and power to overcome this situation.

“…What on earth are you thinking?”

I smiled at Atallante, whose voice slightly trembled. 

“You mentioned the possibility of the Pope coming, right?”

What am I thinking? 

In the end, all problems stem from that side.

To prevent this from happening again, something has to happen, be it negotiation or confrontation.

“Please make sure he comes. It’s rather difficult if he's not here.”

Let’s see that face.

The dueling venue was a small circular arena located below the academy.

The referee was President Atallante. Spectators include several members of the Holy Land, Butler Herman representing the Campbell Family, as well as a few obvious official representatives from the imperial palace.

Although the number of people wasn't large, those that are present hold a significant presence.


However, one stood out even amidst such figures. 

Klein glanced to the side with a slightly tense expression.

Under a luxurious canopy was a ‘communication phantom’ of a young man, who's seemingly wrapped in gold. 

The Pope is watching this duel.

His real body was probably in the Holy Land's headquarters. This was merely a projection of himself.

Then, with narrowed eyes, Klein turned his gaze at the impudent guy in front of him.

‘Just by appearances, he looks like a nobody.’

There is no need to look at him that deeply to realize that... 

While he might have some proficiency in swordsmanship, it's clear as day that his overall ability is no higher than a crawling worm. 

How this guy managed to hit him previously is still a mystery.

“The rules are as follows.”

With both swords drawn, Atallante's voice resounded.

“This is an informal duel, so death prohibited. If there's clear serious injury sustained, the duel will be stopped immediately and the victor will be declared. Otherwise, the duel will continue until one side surrenders. Do both parties understand?”


“I understand.”

Despite confronting him, a high-ranking battle priest, the other guy looks completely relaxed. 

Hearing his dull voice, veins bulged up on Klein’s forehead.

Even professors from a decent academy couldn't raise their heads properly before him, let alone a student. 

What the hell is with this guy?

‘I'll wipe that expression off your face.’

Klein didn’t know what this man was thinking, but since it was the other party who challenged him to a duel, he can legally beat him up without any restriction. 

“…It's too late to beg for forgiveness now.”

He said with a sardonic smile.

As he uttered those words, various blessings formed around him.

Scared characters formed from Divine Power materialized and began to circle around him.

Each character had an immense effect.

Enhanced regenerative ability, increased physical defense, increased agility and dexterity... 

An ordinary priest would need to use a holy piece and pray for some time to conjure such blessings. The simultaneous emergence of these blessings left even those who were watching nearby in awe.

‘…What a fool.’

And Klein, who summoned it in an instant, smirked at Dowd, who was staring at him. 

The Holy Land's Battle Priests are regarded as one of the four major forces alongside the Empire's 'Knights,' the Tribal Union's 'Warlords,' and the Mage Tower's 'Mages.'

While Knights possess versatility to handle nearly all situations and Warlords focus on melee combat prowess like humanoid beasts, the competitiveness of Battle Priests stems entirely from blessings.

The longer the battle lasts and the more blessings stack, the more vitality and defense Battle Priests possess. They get bonus physical attributes approaching infinity. 

The brief moments before these blessings were created marked the last chance given to Dowd Campbell.

Yet, he stood still like a dummy target.

‘Well, even if he knew, it wouldn't make much of a difference.’

How quickly these blessings were cast determined the skill of a battle priest. If they're classified as 'high-rank,' the only people who would be able to keep up are knights or warlords of the same level. 

No matter how good his skills might be, he's just a student.


Then, Klein's body quietly shot forward. 

The solid stone floor from which he was just standing suddenly got crushed, as if a mine exploded. It's only one stack of blessing, yet it's already this much power. 

‘I won't let my guard down this time.’

He was careless previously and allowed a strike to connect. 

But right now, the Pope is watching. Such a disgraceful display can never be tolerated.


Chaeng-, they made their first contact. 

Given the gap in their skills, it was probably a bizarre scene, but Klein was no longer as surprised. 

He knew that what's on the surface was not all it seems, after having experienced it and hearing about it beforehand.

‘Don't rush in to kill him.’

‘…What does His Holiness mean?’

Klein recalled the advice the Pope had given him right before the duel.

‘The more aggressive you charge, the stronger he will be. It's that kind of ability.’

The Pope said in a soft voice.

It’s an incredible ability.

Without any special talent or condition, just by having an opponent who rushes to kill you, you automatically become stronger.

‘I've seen something similar before. I didn't expect to see it again.’

‘…There's someone else who uses such an irrational ability?’

‘Right. Yes. There was.’

To that question, the Pope responded with a subtle smile.

‘Though it's a bit ambiguous to call it a person.’

He never revealed who it was, but Klein was grateful to be given such information. 

It was clear by observing how Dowd kept up with his attacks.

He was bridging the gap between student level and a high-ranking battle priest, that's akin to heaven and earth. It’s ridiculous.

If Klein had rushed in with no knowledge and used his full power from the start, he might have been completely overwhelmed.


That same ability not only responded to the difference in their individual strengths. It was also sensitive to how much 'hostility' the opponent harbored.

In that case, Klein just needed to take action without putting too much 'intent'.

There probably wasn't a human who could perfectly exert that level of control, but even this significantly diminished Dowd's power compared to before. And at the moment, that alone was enough.

Dowd, who had lightly countered his attacks, couldn't deflect any of his strikes now. Far from counterattacking, he was either hit or barely managing to defend against them.

And here.

‘Blessing stack.’

The light emitted by the swirling characters intensified. This was when the unique ability of battle priests, began to reveal its true worth, growing stronger over time.

His already vicious physical abilities were further amplified, bolstering his momentum.

The slight gap between the two just a moment ago started growing wider. 

Attacks that couldn't be deflected or blocked began to accumulate, and wounds started to appear on Dowd's body.

From here on, that gap would only get bigger. His defeat was already set in stone. The sardonic smile reappeared on Klein's face.

The situation was unfolding like he expected. 

As the blessings stacked, Klein grew stronger, and the wounds on Dowd’s body gradually increased.


If there’s anything Klein didn't like.

It was that the other party was still expressionless.

As if this irreversible, hopeless situation was within his calculations.

Which lead to Klein, in displeasure, do the following action. 


After a round of exchanges, Klein, who had left a long gash on Dowd's arm, slightly stepped back and said.

“How about this? If you start begging for mercy, I won’t leave you with too deep of an injury.”


Though, Dowd's face remained dull. There was not even a response.

Seeing this, Klein's fury turned up a notch. 

“As long as it's not life or death, anything goes. So, do you want to experience what it's like being torn apart alive? I'll make sure that you wish to be dead instead.”

He tried to threaten the other party. 

Yet, nothing. Absolutely no change. Dowd still looked blunt.

“Oh. What a coincidence.”

Just that.

“I'll also do that to you now.”

He finally received a reply, but it was this. 

As I said those words, a look of disbelief filled Klein's face. 


“No, as you said, it’s not life or death.”

I replied while scanning the floating window in front of me.

“I need to make sure that you'll live. You might just die right away if I don't let you stack your blessings.”


Klein's expression momentarily went blank.

It seems that he couldn't comprehend the words I just said. 

But soon, an eruption of anger akin to a volcano appeared on his face.

“…You bastard. Are you saying that you were letting the blessings stack?”

“I guess you're not that stupid, after all.”

Klein's eyes immediately went bloodshot.

“I see that you still have the leisure to engage in such a meaningless provocation.”


First of all.

I don't have that much leeway.

I was busy calculating in my head. 

Like how the actions I'm about to take mean. Or what aftermath they'll bring.


It is not a meaningless provocation. I'm merely stating facts.

If the blessings aren't sufficiently stacked, this guy will really die within seconds against me.

“…I’d rather it just be a provocation too.”

I probably have at most a few dozen seconds. 

But, that’s enough.

“Ha. Let's see how far that cocky mouth can go—”


I let out a sigh and interrupted. 

Come to think of it. The reason the Holy Land is on my as$ is ultimately because they're interested in the ‘devil’s power’.

Because it's necessary to fulfill the Pope's lifelong ambition, the 'great endeavor.'

The power of transcendents that twists even the laws of the world. 

“A really serious piece of advice.”


I'll show it to you then. 

“If you don't want to die right away, shut your mouth and focus.”

Right after I said so.

   [ ‘Skill: Guidance’ has been used. ]

   〓 Currently Available Features  


   ▶ Divine Descent - Wrath { Elnore }



   <System Message>


   [ Checking Devil Energy. ]

   [ ‘The Fallen's Seal’ is responding. ]

The world... 

Was dyed gray

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