The Demonic Realm, the Karnas Mountains.
This was the northmost area in the Demonic Realm, and it was covered by a blizzard all year long. If not for the fact that the current season in the Demonic Realm was a hot summer, the blizzard there would have simply frozen all living things.
As such… everything that lived on the Karnas Mountains was undead with the gift of second life.
“Your Highness, I think that visiting the person directly… is unwise.”
As soon as Joshua stepped out of the portal that Zenarth had created, he heard the advice from his brave Lifeward.
Zenarth’s race was second only to the Chaos Demons in the Demonic Realm, and there was rarely anything that would strike fear in him. Yet, the lord of the Karnas Mountains was someone whom Zenarth feared, an existence that he needed to pay respect to.
“I have met the duke a few times. He is an easygoing person,” Joshua said.
Zenarth used to obey every single one of Joshua’s orders in the past, but this time, Zenarth could not bring himself to believe Joshua’s “easygoing” evaluation of the duke.
The Demonic Realm was divided between one King, four dukes, and seven lords. The king in reference was the Lord of the Demonic Realm, Nordlein, who was Joshua’s father. He was the existence at the pinnacle of the Demonic Realm, the absolute ruler. Beneath Nordlein were four dukes who governed the four realms of the Demonic Realm.
The person Joshua was about to visit was one of the four dukes who was known as the Duke of Bones… Zenarth had only heard a little of the duke’s past.
The four dukes of the Demonic Realm were synonymous with peril, and aside from Nordlein himself, they could simply kill anyone who entered their domain on a whim.
“Judging someone based on rumors and appearances… Isn’t that the same as those despicable humans?”
Joshua’s retort had Zenarth at a loss for words.
He then remembered the little girl he had met in the prison before. After their encounter, Zenarth hid in the shadows and turned the flames of his body into a will-o’-wisp-like beacon to lead the little girl into the portal.
Before she entered the portal, the little girl smiled and waved at the beacon. That somehow tugged at Zenarth’s heartstrings. He could not understand what kind of feeling it was, but it was… unforgettable. That scene was something that he found harder to forget than the last foe he burned into cinders.
Seeing Zenarth’s silence, Joshua did not continue to make it difficult for his faithful subordinate.
Joshua then looked at Ciri who had followed him.
The crystal on Ciri’s neck caused an inordinate amount of fear to her. To avoid getting separated during teleportation and having her head blown clean off her body, she held Joshua’s hand as they entered the portal.
“I feel like wolves and bears are staring at me in this forest.”
Ciri stepped on the thick layer of snow on the ground as she released Joshua’s hand. She pulled out her staff while she looked at the surrounding dark forest.
The moment she stepped into the snow-covered forest, Ciri felt a very familiar feeling… the feeling of being stared at by someone or something with malicious intent.
“There aren’t any harmless creatures like wolves or bears here. The one staring at you is probably a Lifestealer or a Mindflayer. If you are unlucky, you might run into a Death Knight.”
Joshua ran through the prince’s memories, and the area was basically the heart of the Duke of Bones’ domain. The undead beings there would definitely not be weak undead fodder like skeleton warriors.
The moment an ordinary person entered the place, the surrounding undead would swarm to the location within mere seconds and consume their victim until nothing was left, not even their souls.
The reason Joshua was able to stand there safely was because of his status as a Chaos Demon. It was more of a little privilege that the lord of the forest had given to him.
Ciri did not say anything since the words from Joshua’s mouth were once again beyond her comprehension.
She just needed to identify one thing—the beings staring at her from the darkness, those she could not defeat with the short staff in her hands.
“Let’s go. The castle is not too far away,” Joshua said as he led Ciri and Zenarth deeper into the forest.
There was a castle deep within the forest, and the trees outside the castle were covered with frost. The garden inside the castle, however, had all kinds of blooming unknown flowers. The flowers were dark, and dark thorns even coiled around the decorative statues in the garden. Under the shroud of the night sky, the entire castle bore a mysterious atmosphere.
The instant Joshua approached the staircase with a hundred steps, which led to the castle door, the gate opened by itself, seemingly to welcome him.
The interior decoration of the castle was luxurious, and it seemed like death had not taken away the Duke of Bones’ aesthetic taste.
Unknown music also echoed across the entire castle. It was an ensemble… and the sounds of the instruments used in the ensemble were familiar to Joshua.
Was it due to the parallel world’s blessing?
“Why do I find this music so strange?”
Ciri followed Joshua all the way up the stairs to the center of the castle hall. An oil painting portrait of a young male hung at the stairs.
“Strange? Little one, that word itself is reason enough for me to feed your soul to my dog!”
A voice so hoarse that it sounded like nails scratching on a blackboard suddenly echoed across the hall as a dark figure “walked” out of the painting.
When the Sin Demon saw the figure appearing and wanting to step up to Joshua, he attempted to block the figure. But Joshua held his hand out to stop Zenarth’s discourteous gesture.
The Duke of Bones’ appearance was very different from the image Joshua had of a lich like Kel’thuzad. Even though he had ossified to nothing but bones, his clothing made him look more like a pirate than a mage.
“You’d better give me a good reason for your intrusion into my domain and interruption of my performance, or else, I’ll be sending your flayed bones back to your father even if you are the son of Nordlein.”
When Zenarth heard what the Duke of Bones said, his flames lit up. However, a scarlet light flashed in the dark eye sockets of the Duke of Bones, and the massive Zenarth immediately fell to his knees with a heavy thud.
Was this the power that could rival the Lord of the Demonic Realm?
Joshua was indeed worthless before this being, and his identity meant nothing there, so he could no longer run his mouth like he would in the Royal City.
“I find you to be a very talented person. Form a band with me!”
The Duke of Bones’ skeletal head suddenly turned ninety degrees as he appeared to ponder the meaning of the word “band”, which Joshua had just uttered.
“Simply put, I am here to admire your performance, My Lord. If you are willing, may I have the honor of having you play a piece for me?”
Joshua made an offer that no performer could refuse.
If the lich had been a musician with attendees numbering in the tens of thousands, perhaps Joshua’s proposal would be outright suicidal. Yet, at that forsaken place, aside from the ghostly servants that attended to the Duke of Bones, there was no one else to admire his performance.