V2 Chapter 72: Permission

Walking alongside Emperor Amadeus II, we journeyed through the imperial palace of Adoastera.

I wasn’t familiar with the palace’s internal structure, but judging from the lack of windows along the corridors for a while now, I surmised that the Emperor was leading us deeper into the building.

No handmaidens or courtiers were in sight. The last people I spotted were a pair of guards who seemed to be part of the palace guard. They directed a mixed gaze of caution and surprise towards me as I followed behind the Emperor.

When the Emperor gestured with his right hand, the two guards relaxed their vigilance, although the surprise seemed to linger. Perhaps this area was off-limits to everyone but the royal family.

Meanwhile, the Emperor’s strides did not cease. In the previous room, I had strongly sensed the man’s age before me, but looking at him now, his back was straight, his pace steady, and he exuded an impressive vitality.

Soon, the Emperor began descending a staircase, his steps sure and stable. There seemed to be no need for me to lend a hand.

The stairs spiraled gently downwards, coaxing its users further and further down. Peering down the central part, designed as an atrium, I could see nothing but an unfathomable darkness stretching out.

For a moment, the Emperor walking ahead seemed like a demon dragging his prey into the underworld. I shivered.

Of course, it was just my imagination — or rather, a fleeting sense of unease. But there was something about the air in this underground space that made me feel eerie.

I had felt something similar before, not so long ago. That was…


Suddenly, the Emperor called my name, jolting me back to reality. The staircase had come to an end.

As my eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness, I began to take in the sight before me.

And so, I realized that I was standing in a vast underground space, as large as the nest of the Fly King in the Titis Forest, which served as our base.

In the center of this enormous underground expanse was a large hole, as if the ground had opened its mouth.

The sight made me shiver. Simultaneously, I found the answer to my recent question.

Yes, the chill I’ve been feeling since we began descending the stairs was similar to when I discovered the dragon’s lair deep in the Titis Forest. Compared to the dragon’s lair in the Titis Forest, this hole was much smaller, and the force emanating from it was minimal, yet I felt the two were of the same nature.

As if to affirm my thoughts, the Emperor solemnly declared,

“This is the dragon’s lair. Since you’ve slain the mythical creature in the Titis Forest, I assume you already know this.”

Whether to nod to that statement or not, I hesitated for just a moment. The dragon lair I found deep in the Titis Forest, I only told a select few about. Among them, Princess Sakuya was not included, and of course, the emperor would not be able to know through Princess Sakuya.

I suspected the emperor’s words might be some sort of a trap.

However, given the existence of the dragon lair before my eyes, it isn’t hard to imagine that the emperor possesses deep knowledge about it. There’s even the case of Lascaris, whom I encountered in the Catalan desert.

While it’s premature to decide that the immortal king told the truth, he undoubtedly knows more about the situation than I do. It wouldn’t be surprising if the emperor of the Adoastera Empire, which has deep ties to the Temple of Law, had knowledge equivalent to Lascaris.

Now, the emperor is about to reveal some secrets to me – probably related to the demon gate. If I respond with deceit or falsehoods, he might change his mind, and I might miss out on valuable information.

Furthermore, more simply, if I upset the emperor here, I might not be granted permission to pass through the demon gate.

So, I affirmed his words.

“Yes. Indeed, I found a large hole similar to this in the deepest part of Titis Forest, Your Majesty.”

“Hmm. A dragon lair is the eruption point of the primordial power that flows through the dragon veins. It could also be referred to as the power of the earth itself we tread on. It is immeasurable for a human.”

Indeed, it’s like infinity.

Saying so, the emperor let out a dry laugh, then stared at me intently.

“It’s with this power equivalent to infinity that mythical creatures come into existence, Sora. To hunt us humans.”

“To hunt humans, Your Majesty?”

“Yes. Didn’t you feel it when you confronted a mythical creature? Creatures referred to as mythical creatures in this world harbor a fierce hostility towards humans without exception. Whether that hostility is directed only at humans, or also at races other than humans, differs by individual – but hostility towards humans is common to all. They are natural disasters hunting humans.”

At those words, I ponder internally.

The mythical creatures I’ve confronted so far are the Hydra of Titis Forest, the Demon God of Demon Island, the Behemoth of Catalan desert. And also included is my Anima, the Soul Eater.

Regarding the Hydra, it indeed felt like a natural disaster, as the emperor said.

While the Demon God and Behemoth differed from the Hydra, I still think they undoubtedly harbored hostility towards humans. For these three, the phrase “a natural disaster that hunts humans” was not an exaggeration.

But I’ve never felt hostility towards humans from the Soul Eater. My Anima often expresses intentions like “let me eat that,” but that’s clearly only towards “enemies.” More specifically, only towards “my enemies.” The phrase “a natural disaster that hunts humans” does not apply.

As I thought about what this fact signifies, the emperor’s words flowed into my ears.

“Mythical creatures born from the Dragon’s lair, why do they harbor hostility towards humans? Some argue that it is because the very Earth itself contains a hostility towards humans. Humans are creatures who see gods in the thunder that roars in the sky. Those people saw gods in the Earth that creates these fantastical creatures. And they revered these creatures as emissaries of gods, even to the point of hindering their subjugation. Because of this, they were initially ostracized as heretics… however, from a certain period onwards, this doctrine began to spread rapidly.”

This period refers to the old times, as the Emperor states.

As I’ve mentioned before, the old times refer to the era prior to the Great War three hundred years ago, where humans and Kijin fought. And, there are barely any records left from the old times. Many records and documents were scattered and lost due to the war.

However, it is indeed like the great kingdom of Adoastera to still have a considerable amount of literature from the old times in this palace.

“When examining the surviving literature from the old times, there are many records that mention the mythical creatures. It appears that a number of Mythical creatures appeared on the continent in the past that makes the current situation seem incomparable.”

“So, this situation laid the groundwork for the people to accept the teachings of the heresy.”

“Exactly. Those who believe in the true god will not be attacked by the mythical creatures—many gathered seeking salvation in these words. Eventually, not only did these people revere the mythical creatures and hinder their subjugation, they even started mimicking the mythical creatures.”

“Mimicking, you say?”

“Those who could not convert to their god, they began to hunt with their own hands.”

If all the humans in the world obeyed the true god, the god’s anger would be appeased, and mythical creatures would cease to appear. Consequently, peace and stability in the human world would likely be achieved.

There might have been a meaning to clear the resentment that had been ostracized as heretics until now. However, it is certain that many of the power holders at the time were still power-struggling, territorial disputes, without paying any attention to the mythical creatures.

This fact gave strength to their uprising.

They positioned their fight as a holy war to cleanse the world— they challenged the existing society, the existing power.

—Under the name of the Temple of Light.

When that name came from the Emperor’s mouth, I reflexively furrowed my brows.

“…I was told by the Pope herself that they were the organization that became the predecessor of the Temple of Law. Three hundred years ago, one of their factions sided with the Kijin.”

“Ho. I was aware that you had made contact with the Pope through Sakuya’s letter, but it seems you’ve been made privy to confidential matters.”

The Emperor raises his right eyebrow. His expression was one of surprise, of understanding, and of caution, all at once.

After a moment, the Emperor nods, as if composing himself.

“What the Pope says is true. The Temple of Light has a deep connection with the Kijin. And it ties into why the Demon Gate was born in your hometown. When the secret of the Demon Gate is revealed, it will cause a great upheaval in the human world. Sora, it is also the role of the Mitsurugi house to prevent this situation.”

“If it is the role of the Mitsurugi family to seal what emerges from the demon gate, then it is also their role to prevent anything from entering the demon gate from the outside.” So said the Emperor.

Hearing this, I was reminded of the Emperor’s question earlier and silently agreed in my heart.

The demon gate is not just a place where demon gods are sealed. It hides secrets that could greatly shake the present world. The Emperor probably wanted to confirm whether I knew this before trying to enter the demon gate.

And because he judged that I didn’t know this, he is now telling me the back side of the story with the dragon hole in front of me.

I don’t know why he’s doing this for me, whom he only met once in the past. My power to wield soul equipment may be attractive to those in power, but there’s no need for the Emperor, who could move even a sword saint if he wished, to curry favor with me.

Whether or not he noticed such inner thoughts of mine, the Emperor asked me for one last confirmation in a voice filled with unmistakable compassion.

“Sora. Once you step through the demon gate, regardless of your wishes, you’ll face the wrath of three hundred years swirling in that land. Once that happens, you can’t turn back. Not just you, but those around you may also get involved. Knowing this, do you still wish to enter the demon gate? I see that you have no interest in the truth of what happened three hundred years ago.”

I silently nodded at the Emperor’s words. Indeed, I have no interest in what happened three hundred years ago.

However, considering the Pope Noah and Lascaris, I do think it’s dangerous to remain ignorant.

Besides, my goal has been clear from the beginning. I want to respond to the wish of a sister who wants to help her missing brother, fight the powerful monsters that roam beyond the demon gate, and gain strength.

As for the Temple of Light and the wrath, I’ll think about it when they actually stand in front of me.

Above all, I can’t say to Claira, who brought me to the imperial capital, “I’ve changed my mind about helping Klimt.” That would be way too lame!

I tried to convey these thoughts to the Emperor as delicately as possible. If the Emperor said he wouldn’t allow me to go through the demon gate with such a shallow resolve, I thought I would consider another way.

However, the Emperor listened to my words until the end. After hearing me out, there was no anger on his face. No disappointment. All that was there was a look of acknowledgement as if to say, “as I expected.”

Faced with my confusion at trying to gauge the meaning of his reaction, the Emperor solemnly declared.

Very well, I grant you permission to pass through the demon gate.

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