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984 Teleportation Core

 The moon tonight is as beautiful as ever.

Erin gazed at the bright, round moon and heaved a meaningful sigh. After arriving at the Void Territory, admiring the night sky had become her favorite hobby. Unlike the bloody moon hanging in the sky of Country of Darkness, the moon here was larger and glowing with white, gentle light. Not only that, but there were also several craters, adding some scars to the smooth surface. But for some reason, even though there were many guesses as to why the moon became like this, this seemed to be the most natural way the moon should look like in her eyes.

"The night sky is mesmerizing, isn't it, Angelina?"

"Yes... Your Highness."

Angelina answered hurriedly. At this moment, she was feeling really depressed. She hoped to use this time to improve her relationship with Rhode but after the Order Ceremony ended, he left her to serve this princess. Angelina couldn't understand why the Dark Dragon sent his younger sister to this place alone. No matter what, both sides didn't have a particularly great relationship. Even though Erin was one of the most powerful figures in the Country of Darkness, Angelina knew that there were many people in the Void Territory who could defeat her. Be it Marlene or Alice, Angelina sensed mighty auras from them which were comparable to the Dark Dragon. In this case, if the Void Territory ever hurt Erin, Angelina could forget about returning to the Country of Darkness alive. If Erin was here to be a spy, should Angelina tell on her or help her?

Fortunately, what Angelina expected didn't happen as the princess basically stayed in her room all day, admiring the scenery through the window and only went out for occasional strolls. But... What exactly was she here for?

"By the way, Angelina, I haven't seen Mr. Rhode for quite a while. Do you know where he went? Also, where's Christie? I miss them a lot."

"This..."

Angelina hesitated. She didn't know if she should reveal their whereabouts. After all, Rhode was her master and they had signed a contract. It was common for one with a lowly identity to be punished in the Country of Darkness for shooting one's mouth off.

"... His Majesty is out for the moment."

Angelina answered softly. She believed that she should be fine since Rhode didn't specially advise her anything before he left. But shortly after, Angelina realized that she made a huge mistake because the princess's eyes flashed with a glint as though she just heard interesting news.

"Out? I didn't expect a dragon soul heir to have time for an outing. It must be fun, right? What do you say, Angelina? I want to check it out too. Can you bring me there?"

"T-This isn't convenient, Your Highness!"

Angelina shrieked. As a high-class royal vampire, she had heard rumors about this princess. Even though her low profile gave her a lack of presence, most higher-ups were aware that she had a peculiar personality where even the four legendary generals couldn't handle her. Angelina thought that the rumors weren't true as the princess had only been admiring the scenery and wasn't up to no good. But now, it seemed like the rumors were right!

"... Your Highness, you're our guest, after all, so it isn't good to head out now... Besides, His Majesty must be dealing with something important. This..."

"But isn't it also important to entertain your guests?"

Even though Erin said with a smile, her tone sounded rather displeased.

"I've arrived at the Void Territory for a long time but Mr. Rhode hasn't even met me once. This isn't great hospitality, I suppose."

"This..."

Angelina was speechless. In fact, Erin was right. Even though she returned to the Void Territory with Rhode and the rest, Rhode left her aside without a formal greeting. After so many days, Angelina thought that Erin was well-mannered and wasn't mindful of it. But now... It seemed like she had been waiting!

"... I'm not too sure where His Majesty has gone to, Your Highness."

"Could I trouble you to inquire about that please?"

"..."

Angelina was speechless as she gazed at Erin who had put her hands together and smiling at her. After all, this wasn't an issue that she could resolve. She took in a deep breath, before pushing a smile on her face and bowing respectfully.

"Yes, Your Highness."

Since this wasn't something that she could resolve, she was better off getting someone else.

"... That's what Her Highness Erin said?"

Marlene shifted her gaze away from the scroll in her hands and lifted her head with a difficult expression. Angelina nodded in response. Marlene heaved a long sigh. After returning to the Void Territory, Marlene was anxious about having the princess around. Not only did she send Sara to monitor her actions 24/7 through the Projection Crystal, but she also requested for Gillian to watch her closely. But to her surprise, the princess was more honest than they thought. But she didn't expect for trouble to arise at this moment.

Also, in terms of monitoring Erin, Lize was more careful than Marlene. But no one knew if it was due to Lize seeing her other self in Erin.

"Sigh..."

Marlene rubbed her forehead, before closing her eyes for some peace. Angelina continued to gaze at the young lady, waiting for her response. After a few moments, Marlene opened her eyes and said. "Please get her to wait for a while more. I will personally..." She paused abruptly. She revealed a strange expression for a split second. Then, she continued with her usual expression. "... Actually, it isn't a big deal. His Majesty is in the Deepest Labyrinth now. If Her Highness Erin wants to go, just let her be. You have a contractual connection with His Majesty, so get instructions from him after you've arrived there with her..."

"Yes, Madam."

Angelina felt dubious but eventually nodded and left the room. After she turned the corner, Marlene shook her head and continued with her work. Just like Angelina, since Marlene couldn't resolve this issue... She could only leave the problem to someone who could resolve it.

***

Everything's going well.

In the dark underground maze, Rhode gazed pleasingly at the heavy doors before him. Even though there were more members in his group now, he didn't face more problems. Thereafter, the devils stopped launching attacks on them, perhaps realizing that they were much stronger than expected. But Rhode wasn't sure if the devils were aware that the teleportation crystals had been destroyed by them. At least judging from the system map, apart from Adella's team who was more unlucky, the other teams progressed safely. Although there were some casualties, it wasn't serious enough that they had to activate the teleportation crystals. If not, perhaps these weren't the only devils Rhode's group had to face.

He pushed the doors open at this thought. Shortly after, radiances from the burning torches illuminated the vast, round space. Borrowing the light, the group clearly witnessed a circular stone ritual. This was the core of the tenth floor, the location for the teleportation ritual. According to the next step, they should report to their mentors of the progress and place the crystal on the stone column beside the ritual. After every member stepped into the ritual, they would activate the teleportation ritual and this would signify the end of the test. But now...

"Sir Kyle!"

Adella's team shrieked in disbelief after discovering a mage in a black robe lying in a pool of blood in the middle of the teleportation ritual. They darted to the unconscious mage who had two deep gashes around his waist and stomach, almost tearing him apart. Fortunately, he was still breathing. Rhode gave a command.

"Bubble."

"Got it, Leader."

Bubble snapped her fingers. In the blink of an eye, a flawlessly white light beam shone from above, illuminating the injured mage. The mage groaned in pain while a black aura exited his body and got purified by the holy radiance. Shortly after, the ghastly injuries healed before their eyes and he slowly opened his eyes, letting out a couple of coughs. After seeing Adella and the others, he revealed a surprised look which immediately turned into a tense gaze.

"L-Leave this place, Adella... This is a trap. Those devils... Cough, cough. Where are the rest? Be careful, those devils are..."

Boom!

Suddenly, a loud boom sounded from the opened doors that were shut by an unknown force. Then, a creepy laughter filled the room. Everyone looked up and witnessed two distorted figures in ragged mage robes in the shadows of the room.

"Sir Shawn... and Sir Andy...?"

The apprentices froze to the spot. They couldn't be more familiar with the mage robes clad on the two distorted figures. The mentors whom they were so familiar with had turned into these filthy, terrifying creatures. Adella turned ashen at the thought of her almost becoming like them.

"Be careful, they've lost all consciousness and became devils!"

As though verifying Kyle's words, the two twisted figures let out a burst of eerie laughter and extended their arms. In the blink of an eye, they blasted two blinding beams of magic from their palms. But before the scorching beams filled with evil aura struck their targets, they were negated and extinguished by a translucent barrier like a violent wave. At the same time, Celia and Celestina flew forward from the left and right. The two devil emissaries let out ear-piercing and unpleasant chants, swiftly twisting the surrounding darkness together to create creatures of various shapes and sizes, pouncing on the angel and demon.

"You're asking for death!"

Celestina grimaced, lashing the chain sword forward in a dazzling trajectory that erupted black flames to devour the creatures. At the same time, Gracier and Madaras appeared behind her for a split second before vanishing into the shadow.

On the other hand, Mini Bubble Gum, who had cast that defensive barrier, let out a grunt. She swung her right arm forward and two light beams suddenly blasted from above, striking the two devils heavily like steel hammers. The devils screamed mournfully and fled from the hateful holy radiance. Of course, Mini Bubble Gum had no intention of letting them off. She cheekily extended her hands and gestured in midair. Then...

"Trying to escape? Do you think it's possible?! Stay where you are!"

She snarled. Countless golden runes appeared and covered the entire floor. The two figures floating in midair stopped moving abruptly. Their space had been contained by the holy runes. Not only that, but at the same time, two razor-sharp daggers also struck their chests from the void. The invisible threads reflected sacred radiance and turned into a spider web-like presence that trapped the two preys. Karin stood at the side, devoid of emotions. Her right hand gesticulated in midair.

"Heh, heh. Let's see where you're running to..."

Mini Bubble Gum rotated her wrist with an evil laugh as though she were the final BOSS. Rhode lowered his head and gazed at Christie.

"Christie, can I ask for your help?"

"... Okay."

Christie hesitated before nodding firmly.

"... I will do my best... Rhode..."

Christie extended her right hand. Then, a white fear pen, as well as an empty, golden scroll appeared before her. She held the feather pen and inked the scroll...