TWEM Vol. 5 Chapter 8 Part 2
At the same time, five individuals were seated around a round table in one of the rooms in the building. A subordinate, who had come to report on the explosion outside, informed them that the surrounding guards had been wiped out and that the Holy Knights were beginning to assemble.
In that moment, one of them raised his voice.
“What are you going to do about this? We couldn’t have been found out so quickly! The fact that they did is your damn fault!”
The others chimed in, expressing their agreement, but Alben fired back.
“I followed the plan as agreed, damn it! And none of you objected to it. Besides, the plan hasn’t failed yet, has it?”
The plan was in motion and Alben would be damned if it were to crumble now. Despite his insistence, the others refused to heed his words.
“The rest of us will be leaving here first. You claimed you’d take responsibility for failure. You haven’t forgotten, surely?”
“…Of course not.” Alben nodded bitterly.
“So long then—”
The other four rose to depart and as one of them was about to say, “let’s get out of here,” Alben stopped them.
“What is it? Anything else?”
“The plan has failed, hasn’t it?” another questioned.
“Besides, the strongest holy knight is right on our doorstep,” the third chimed in.
“Exactly. We can’t confront them”
The four men discussed the plan’s apparent failure and the impossibility of facing such odds.
Alben, however, shook his head in disagreement.
“From what I saw earlier, there’s no doubt the summoning is at hand. Judging by the intensity of the light, I’m fairly certain it’s the highest-rank devil.”
Alben’s comment brought those who were leaving to a halt.
While the four men’s faces were beaming with joy, Alben, unbeknownst to them, was also smiling.
“Yes, but we lack the required offering.”
“Sacrifice? Isn’t that the saint’s purpose?”
Alben replied to the question. “Not quite. She’s merely a catalyst. A small amount of blood from the saint is more than sufficient. Without more sacrifices, the devil won’t manifest for long.”
“Then, do we use the Holy Knights who are gathering?”
“No, that’s too dangerous. I thought something like this might happen, so I prepared for this eventuality.”
“Recall the cage above the saint’s chamber holding those whom we kidnapped? In addition to them, I’ve also gathered volunteers for the sacrificed.”
This was true. Alongside those they had kidnapped, there were some members of the Satanic Cult who volunteered to to be sacrificed to the devil, and if they were included, the number totaled twenty.
Hearing this, the four grinned maliciously, and Alben continued speaking.
“We haven’t much time, and judging by the magic circle’s glow, we need only deposit the sacrifices, recite the incantation, and the devil shall appear. Since we can always use the saint again, we must evacuate her first. You lot must aid in the summoning ritual, as well.”
When he told them of the plan, they all nodded with sinister smiles on their faces and said, “Certainly.”
When Alben and the other four, along with several subordinates, entered the basement, Ilmina glared at them as she saw them.
“Whoa, how frightening. A saint shouldn’t make such a scary face.”
As Alben spoke mockingly, her scowl deepened.
“And whose to blame for that!”
“Hearing you say that really hurts my feelings.”
Ilmina was seething with anger, but there was nothing she could do about it.
Then Alben spoke up.
“We’ve collected enough of your blood. All that remains to be done is to bring the sacrifices here.”
As Alben gave the order, the ceiling opened and a cage descended from above.
Ilmina’s eyes widened at the sudden turn of events.
“What! What is this?!”
“You understand, don’t you? These are the sacrifices… the victims of the recent disappearances.”
“Do you believe it’s okay to do something like this?!”
“Of course I do. It’s all for the fulfillment of our long-awaited desire.”
The other four laughed in agreement with Alben’s words.
“Release them right now!”
Ilmina demanded, but Alben ignored her plea and instead issued an order to his subordinates.
“Remove her from this room.”
At Alben’s command, the cult members seized Ilmina.
“Hey, let go of me! Release those people immediately!” she protested, but with a wound in the abdomen, and her strength sapped by the magic circle, she couldn’t resist.
Her screams echoed through the chamber, to no avail.
Even as they heard her plaintive cry, the caged sacrifices were unresponsive, their vacant eyes staring into the void.
“What have you done to them?” Ilmina cried out, noticing something was off.
Alben replied nonchalantly, “We simply used magic on them to make them more submissive, that’s all.”
“—What?!” Ilmina gasped, her shock stunning her into silence as she was dragged out of the room.
She was promptly locked in another cell-like chamber.
With no means of escape, all she could do was pray and trust that someone would intervene in this horrific situation.
Back in the ritual chamber, Alben was giving orders to his subordinates.
“Get them out of the cage and gather them to the center of the magic circle.”
The cult members opened the cage, and the sacrifices came out in droves with blank, lifeless eyes.
“Our long-awaited wish will finally be realized…”
“Now we can summon the devil.”
The four twisted their mouths as they said this.
“Well, let’s begin. The stage has been set. Position yourselves at the head of the formation.”
Alben’s words were the signal.
Those who had emerged from the cage gathered in the center of the magic circle, and Alben and the other members of the cult surrounded them.
Raising both palms, Alben and his associates began reciting an incantation. After several minutes of rhythmic chanting, Alben’s voice crescendoed: “Summon Devil’s Gate!”
As the words rang out, the magical circle’s luminescence intensified.
Those in the center of the magic circle collapsed to the floor, their souls wrenched from their bodies.
The light of the magic circle converged to the center producing a billowing black mist.
The mist coalesced into a pillar roughly one meter in diameter, extending to the ceiling and soon a figure materialized from within.
Alben and his fellow cultists shouted with joy at the sight.
“At last, finally, we have succeeded!” they cried in unison.
Then, as if in response to their shouts, the shadowy figure in the mist spoke out.
“Fufuu, mere humans dare to summon me…”
The next moment, the mist cleared away and the devil was revealed.
He stood clad in refined black aristocratic garb, his medium gray hair contrasting with his onyx eyes. His most striking features were the bat-like wings unfurling from his back, the black horns jutting from his brow, and his slightly pointed ears.
As the devil looked around, Alben opened his mouth.
“Hear our wishes, O devil!”
The devil chuckled. “Very well, speak.”
Alben broke out in smiles upon hearing those words and then announced the cult’s wishes.
“Raze this holy city to the ground!”
“Sure. But still, it’s my first time in the mundane world in a very long time. With this many sacrifices, I would say I have about two days at most. If I use my abilities, perhaps a single day. No matter, I shall use you all to compensate for any shortcomings.”
Upon hearing his words, the cultists paled and tried to flee in terror. However, they were swiftly ensnared by ebony chains conjured from the shadows, binding them in place.
“What’s the meaning of this?! L-Let go of me! ”
“Take this thing off me!”
“We are not a part of this!?”
“That’s right, we’re not supposed to take part in this!”
“We are the summoners!”
Alben and the others were screaming their heads off.
But the devil distorted its mouth in amusement.
“Fufuu, then you’d be wrong. Because you are. Since you dared to give orders to me. The sacrifice is merely the price for the summoning. But to get me to do your bidding that’s another story. You don’t honestly think that you get to order me around without paying a price? You’re not going to say that it didn’t occur to you, right?”
A black, ominous aura overflowed from the devil’s entire body.
Alben and the others, their faces contorted with fear, could not even move their bodies.
“So, I’ll be taking your souls now.”
After those words from Alben, no one else in the room was capable of moving except for the devil.
“Fufufuu, it’s still not enough. But I will grant your wishes. My word is my bond after all.”
Saying this, the devil then tried detecting those in the vicinity.
There were several reactions, but then the devil shouted in delight.
“Look at that, there are still quite a few around. One weakened woman and—?! Oh my, what do we have here? To think that I’d find a decent human in this place, should be fun. But first, let me fulfill my promise.”
With those words, the devil disappeared from the room.
◇ ◇ ◇
I, Haruto, was heading to the basement where I had picked up Ilmina’s presence.
Utilizing my stealth and concealment skills, I discreetly eliminated any cult members I encountered along the way.
As I approached the basement, I halted upon spotting two guards stationed outside the room where I had detected Ilmina’s presence.
It seemed that several people were gathered in another room, likely the location where they were preparing to summon the devil.
However, since the mana coming from that room didn’t seem to be particularly alarming and Ilmina’s reaction was weakening, I decided to head toward Ilmina first.
Quickly advancing towards the two guards, I summoned a surge of lightning magic. The crackling energy coursed through them, instantly incapacitating the pair.
Perhaps noticing the sound of the two men falling, I heard Ilmina’s voice coming from behind the iron door.
“Is someone-is someone there?”
“It’s me, Haruto.”
At my response, Ilmina exclaimed in disbelief.
“Hang on, I’ll get you out of here.”
“No! You have to stop the summoning, quickly!”
“What do you mean?”
The moment I placed my hand on the door, I froze. I knew the group I sensed earlier was preparing to summon the devil, but I hadn’t suspected they’d already finished their preparations!
“The devil summoning… we have to stop them immediately!” Ilmina pleaded desperately. But, having come this far, I couldn’t just leave her by herself.
“Ugh, hold on, let me get you out first!”
I tried opening the door, but it seemed to be locked and wouldn’t budge.
I clicked my tongue and thought, “Damn, what a waste of time.”
I swiftly activated my molding skill to unlock the door.
Behind the now-open door, Ilmina was there, weakened and chained to the wall. To make matters worse, blood oozed from a wound in her abdomen.
I rushed over to her and unleashed a wind spell to break the chains on her limbs, but it was easily repelled.
“What the hell?”
I was puzzled seeing my magic repelled, and Ilmina explained to me.
“It’s an anti-magic chain. Magic attacks won’t work on it.”
Since magic didn’t work, I tried using my skills instead. I invoked molding and successfully unlinked the chains. As expected, these chains seemed to dissipate any mana channeled into them. I placed them into my dimensional storage for the time being; they appeared to be valuable research material.
I immediately supported Ilmina, who appeared weak, with both hands.
“Thank you so much… but why are you here?”
“We can talk later.”
There was no time to explain, so I cast a healing spell on Ilmina. A pale light enveloped her, mending the wound in her abdomen.
She appeared genuinely surprised, likely not expecting me to use healing magic. However, I needed information from her.
“Just explain the situation to me.”
Now that she had recovered, Ilmina was able to speak clearly and described the current situation.
“—And that’s about it. Now hurry up and stop the summoning! Don’t worry about me!”
I hadn’t anticipated they’d finish summoning the devil this fast… What a huge screw-up. Just as I was about to bolt back to the room I noticed earlier, a powerful and ominous surge of mana suddenly appeared.
…Seems we were just a second too late.
Ilmina sensed it as well. Her face drained of color.
“Oh no, no… my god…”
“I’m afraid it’s as you feared. Looks like we didn’t make it in time.”
I was fuming inside, cursing myself for not being able to stop the summoning. But dwelling on it wouldn’t change the situation. My main priority was to get Ilmina to a safe location— the cathedral.