It felt as if time had frozen. My mind blanked. My blood froze. My breathing quickened. My pupils dilated.
...I thought I was prepared.
Since reincarnation inside of my novel, I knew that one day I would encounter a demon.
I was ready...I thought
But looking at the creature haughtily sitting on the throne, hallucinations of death repeatedly replayed in my mind.
'I have to run!'
...I repeated again and again in my mind.
I knew that...yet my legs refused to listen to me
The hall was silent, and only the sound of my heartbeat repeatedly pulsing could be heard.
Sweat started dripping down from my body, soaking all my clothes. With a shivering hand, I tightly clenched on my clothes, right where my heart was.
...Am I scared?
'There's no way I can fight against that!'
...was what my mind repeatedly told itself as my eyes transfixed themselves onto the demonic creature that was amusingly looking down on me from the throne. With its blood-red eyes, the demon looked down at me as it smiled widely.
"It seems like a little mouse has sneaked inside my abode"
Licking its lips, the demon eyes carefully looked at me up and down, almost as if a delicious snack had presented itself before it.
-Crack! -Crack! -Crack!
Using its thumb, the demon slowly cracked every one of its fingers on its right hand.
Letting out a long breath I forcefully tried to calm myself down.
'This is all an illusion!'
What I was experiencing was the innate fear a prey faced when meeting a predator.
If I thought about it rationally, although my opponent was strong, it wasn't to the point that I would have to despair.
The demon's stats couldn't be above F rank, else the dungeon would've already desynced.
ᴘᴀ ɴ ᴅᴀ n ᴏ ᴠᴇʟ
The fear I was experiencing was all in my mind.
I didn't have to fear what was before me.
...was what I repeatedly tried to tell myself, yet I still couldn't stop my body from trembling.
The feeling I was experiencing was similar to the moments before I took my final exams.
I knew I could do it, as I had prepared rigorously for it...but even if I was prepared, it didn't stop me from being scared.
Amusingly looking down on me, the Demon leaned forward as its red eyes carefully looked at me.
Instantly, it felt as if all my secrets had been laid bare for the demon to look at. It felt as if nothing could be hidden from its two prying blood-red eyes.
-tap! -tap! -tap!
Shaking its head disappointedly the Demon began tapping on the armrest of the throne as it started pondering.
Finally, after a couple of seconds, the Demon shook its head in disappointment.
"Too bad, too bad..."
Seemingly having come up with a decision, the demon's demeanor completely changed from its leisurely self from before.
Instantly, thick bloodlust exuded from its body, suffocating me.
"Let me introduce myself..."
Standing up, the demon's large bat-like wings expanded from its back casting a large shadow over me.
Taking one step forward, smiling from ear to ear, the demon elegantly bowed.
"I am—baron of everblood!"
Inside of a large spacious luxurious corridor, a middle-aged man leisurely walked. His hair which was tied in a ponytail, accompanied by his unkempt beard and sunglasses made him look out of place.
Walking along the corridor, the people that were next to him stepped to the side to let him walk. Despite his looks, he was treated as if he was a VIP.
Suddenly, the middle-aged man felt a small vibration from his pocket followed by a light ring.
Just as he was about to ignore it thinking that it was nothing important, his pocket started vibrating again, repeatedly.
Finally, noticing that something wasn't right, the middle-aged man took out a small black box from his pocket.
Looking at the contents on the black box, the middle-aged man's brows knit together in a frown.
"This may be more troublesome than I thought"
Sighing, the middle-aged man disappeared from where he was standing and reappeared in front of a gate with the number <<756>> imprinted on the side.
"Stop right there"
As soon as he appeared, two white-clad individuals obstructed his path.
"Timothy 1, Timothy 2...I don't have time for this today"
Yes, the middle-aged man was in fact, Thomas. Taking out the small box from his pocket, Thomas showed it to the guards.
Seeing the box, the two guards immediately moved to the side and allowed Thomas to enter the portal.
Seeing the two guards move, Thomas disappeared once again and reappeared inside of the portal.
"Let's just hope it's nothing serious..."
Those were the last words the two guards heard before Thomas disappeared from their sight.
"B-baron o-f everblood!"
As soon as the demon introduced itself, like when you replaced a rusty gear, everything started to click into place.
Baron of everblood, an elder of the vanity tribe, sub-branch of the demon clan of pride, and a baron-ranked demon.
An existence that only appears right before the third cataclysm in the later half of the novel.
'W-hy was he here?'
A Baron-ranked demon was not something a G rank like me could face.
The demons were ranked from, King, Prince/Princess, Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount, and lastly Baron.
A Demon prince and Demon princess had a power level equivalent to around SSS, in terms of human power level. Following Prince/Princess ranked demons, were Duke-ranked demons whose power level was around SS, the same as the strongest humans alive. After Duke-ranked demons were Marquis-ranked demons at a power level of around S followed by Earl-ranked demons at A, Viscount at B, and Baron at C.
Those were the approximate power levels of the demons.
Currently, humanity could only fend off at most against Duke-ranked demons. If a Prince/Princess ranked demon showed up, humanity would stand no chance as each rank increase was a substantial increase in power.
Fortunately, the Dwarves, Elves, and Orcs were keeping the Prince/Princess ranked demons in check.
If not for them, humanity would've long gone extinct.
Knowing the power levels of the demons, it came as a great shock to know that I was currently in front of a baron-ranked demon.
Keep in mind that a Baron-ranked demon was four ranks higher than me!
'No wonder I felt so much pressure...'
I thought as everything started to make sense.
If it's a Baron-ranked demon, why didn't the dungeon desync?
Frowning, a sudden thought occurred to me, causing my pupils to dilate as I silently muttered
Stopping, the demon looked at me in surprise
"How did you know that?"
Looking up, I could see the demon looking at me in both shock and surprise.
The demon was actually trying to cause a dungeon overload.
A dungeon overload was similar to a dungeon desync in that it involved a dungeon becoming oversaturated with energy. However, contrary to when dungeons desync, where the dungeon just loses connection to the demon world. In a dungeon overload, all the monsters inside of the dungeon get transported into the human world.
Imagine tens of thousands of monsters suddenly appearing out of nowhere. The consequences alone would be disastrous...Fortunately, this was not a problem for now
There was a reason why humanity had still not gone extinct. It was simply because the time wasn't ripe yet.
Because of how unstable Earth was, the Demon King was still unable to ascend into the world. Further added with the fact that the Demon King was currently being held back by various forces, the looming threat coming from the Demon King was still small.
The Demon King, one of the ultimate overlords of the universe, grew stronger the more planets it ate. Through its numerous exploits in which it conquered and ate planets, the Demon King grew into being one of the strongest creatures in the whole universe. It had gotten to the point that almost every race in the universe was forced to join hands in order to stop the Demon King.
At the moment, the Demon King was only one planet away from becoming the strongest being in the universe. Once it consumed one more planet, no being would be able to stop the Demon King. The world would be at the Demon King's mercy. Knowing this, many forces have joined together in a last-ditch attempt to stop him from conquering its next target. Planet Earth.
Apart from the Demon King's ascension, there was another factor that prevented the demons from fully engaging against humanity.
That was, apart from demons, the demon army was still unable to adapt to the human atmosphere.
Because of the low mana density in the atmosphere, due to earth only have been exposed to mana recently, monsters couldn't survive on earth.
This was why dungeon overloads weren't considered a threat.
However, before the third cataclysm, when the earth's mana density reached a certain point, the event that marked the beginning of the third cataclysm happened...Suddenly, as the people on Earth were going about their own day, dungeon overloads started occurring in almost every dungeon around the globe.
...but differently from normal dungeon overloads where the monsters inside of it would die immediately upon entering the human world, the monsters that came out from the dungeons were able to adapt to earth's atmosphere and survive. Soon the earth was overturned into an apocalyptic world where law and order ceased to exist and only your own survival was what mattered.
Who you thought were your friends suddenly backstabbed you just to ensure their own survival
...That was the beginning of the third cataclysm
Flapping its enormous bat-like wings, the demon instantly appeared before me.
Because I was lost in thought, by the time I noticed the Demon moving it was already too late...
Placing its sharp finger on my neck, the Demons blood-red eyes looked at me intensely.
"I asked you a question"
Swallowing a mouthful of saliva, I stared at those two blood-red eyes.
Soon a white glow emanated from my body, followed by a clicking sound.
p ᴀɴ da-n ᴏv el Suddenly a black finger flew in the air before landing on the cold pavement of the castle.
As soon as the finger flew in the air, I immediately retreated a couple of steps as the Demon took a couple of seconds to realize what had happened.
Bewildered, the Demon looked at its hand that was missing a finger. Soon after, the finger that was on the floor disintegrated into nothing and a new one appeared on the Demon.
This wasn't the demon's real body
Had this been a real Baron-ranked demon, I would've already been dead by now.
The fact that I could cut off its finger, albeit because I caught the demon off guard, was a clear sign that this was not its main body.
Had it been its real body, instead of a finger landing on the cold hard floor, it would've been my head.
"You actually dared to hurt this baron?"
Absentmindedly looking at his now replaced finger, the demon directed an immense pressure on me.
Feeling the massive pressure, my knees bent a little.
"You actually dared to injure me?"
Walking slowly towards my direction, the pressure that was exerted over me kept increasing by the second. Slowly, my knees bent more and more. I couldn't move. I was stuck. I could only helplessly watch as the demon slowly walked in my direction. With every step it took, I felt death getting closer and closer to me.
Sweat started dripping from the side of my face, as my body further bent downwards.
Arriving before me, the Demon slowly lifted my chin up with its sharp finger.
"For what you've done...I will make sure that you pay dearly"
Tracing his finger along my cheek, a large gash opened up as blood slowly dripped down on the cold floor.
Arriving in front of a large gate, Thomas spotted a group of people surrounding an individual donning a black butler outfit. He had neatly combed hair, wore black-framed glasses, and had a serious disposition.
"Edward, brief me on the situation"
Briefly glancing at Thomas, Edward took out a tablet and started briefing everyone on the situation.
"Reporting, ten individuals have gone past time limit."
"We tried contacting them through the safe-box but there was no response. Noticing that something was strange, we tried contacting other individuals whose time limit was still not due, and we also got no response from them"
Pausing slightly, Edward flipped through the reports on the tablet and showed them to everyone.
"...we sent two F ranked dungeon guardians to check what was going on, but they too went missing"
"Currently we are prepared to send in group [Alpha-79354] into the dungeon."
Frowning, Thomas looked at the gate. Noticing that nothing was out of the ordinary he decided to check its energy level.
"Let me check the gate"
Placing his hand on the gate, Thomas suddenly felt a strange fluctuation. Then...
The gate slowly turned black and demonic energy spread across the surrounding, causing the greenery within a ten-meter radius of the gate to wither.
Taking off his sunglasses, Thomas's expression darkened.