Shadow Slave

Chapter 446 Relentless Destroyer
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Chapter 446 Relentless Destroyer

Sunny slept for a long time, the exhaustion slowly leaving his battered body. After a while, though, his consciousness rose from the deepest layers of slumber, summoned back by pain and thirst. With a sigh, he turned to his other side and tried to go back to sleep. After a few more hours of tossing and turning, though, Sunny was finally awoken by the loud sound of something crashing to the floor.

'...What is Saint doing?'

He reluctantly opened his eyes and sat up.

As Sunny's weight shifted, the bed beneath him suddenly broke with a loud crack. He rolled onto the floor with a startled yelp.

"Huh?!"

Standing up, Sunny looked at the broken bed, then at the hall of the Obsidian Tower, which was now submerged in darkness. A bewildered expression appeared on his face.

The room he had entered before had gone through a dramatic transformation while he was asleep. The magical lanterns were now extinguished, and everything inside seemed dilapidated and decrepit, almost on the verge of crumbling to pieces.

The magnificent tools and implements had rusted through and deformed, the worktable had collapsed under its own weight — that was the sound which had awoken Sunny — the food he had enjoyed yesterday had turned to dust. The pristine condition of the hall was gone, and now it was full of darkness, debris, and dirt.

It was as though eons had passed since he fell asleep.

A cold feeling appeared in his chest.

'...Have I slept for a thousand years?!'

Remembering fairy tales where similar things often happened, Sunny felt a hint of horror, but then thought about it for a few moments and calmed down.

No, he had not… judging by how much shadow essence had accumulated in his cores, he slept for about twenty-four hours straight, which was a lot, but nowhere near a thousand years. Saint, who was keeping watch nearby, also didn't look as if she had been guarding him for a few centuries.

Instead, it was the pagoda itself that had aged. As if an invisible seal that had kept it untouched by the passage of time for all those thousands of years was now broken, and time was finally catching up with it.

Time was the most relentless destroyer, after all.

Sunny sighed with relief, then grimaced.

'Curses! I should have eaten more yesterday… much, much more!'

All that delicious food, wasted!

Shaking his head dejectedly, Sunny looked around, then accessed his own state.

His wounds were already much better than they had been the day before. The burns were still rather painful, but within his capacity to endure without being slowed down in battle… too much. A couple more days of rest, and he would be close to being fully functional again.

He was really hungry, though.

But that was going to have to wait.

Summoning the Moonlight Shard, Sunny gave Saint a command to follow, and went to explore the Obsidian Tower.

***

It took Sunny about an hour to fully explore the first level of the ancient pagoda. Some of the doors in the outer corridor had collapsed and turned to dust, some remained standing and required him to use a tiny bit of shadow essence to unlock them.

Behind the doors were all kinds of rooms. Most of them were empty, suggesting that the master of the tower had moved away a long time ago, taking all the valuable things with him, while some contained weathered debris and dust. Sunny spent a lot of time trying to understand what all these things had once been, by the damage done by the accelerated time was too extensive to even guess.

'...Such a shame.'

Feeling strangely disappointed, Sunny decided that it was time to move on to other levels of the tower. He still had to find the thing that had pulled him toward this place, as well as — hopefully — some means of returning either to the Chained Isles or to the real world.

The idea of being stuck on this island forever did not seem very appealing.

Especially now that there was no food anywhere around...

Not finding anything interesting on the first level, Sunny decided to explore further.

From the outside, it had seemed as though the Obsidian Tower had six levels, which really surprised Sunny. He had expected there to be seven. However, after finding two stairwells — one stair leading up, the other down — he realized that there was an underground level, too, which explained this small discrepancy.

Everything having to do with the Spell and the Dream Realm had a tendency to be tied to the number seven… except the gods, of whom there had been only six.

'I guess that's why they are called gods… no law can bind them. Not even such a weird and random law as all things coming in sevens.'

Sunny looked up, then looked down, and decided to explore the underground level first.

Letting Saint go ahead, he entered the spiraling staircase and descended into the depths of the dark island.

Unlike the ground level, the basement of the Obsidian Tower turned out to be one giant hall.

And in it…

Sunny recoiled.

For a second, it seemed as though hundreds of dismembered corpses were piled at the center of the hall, forming a morbid hill. But as Sunny took a step back and instinctively raised the Moonlight Shard, he realized that he made a mistake.

The bodies piled in the center of the chamber were not that of people. Instead, they were… dolls.

Hundreds of broken porcelain dolls, each the size of a human, were discarded in the underground hall. Their fragile bodies were shattered and broken, laying there like abandoned toys. Some were missing limbs, some were left with gaping holes in their torsos. Some had long ago turned into piles of small fragments, with not even their faces remaining.

But those faces that did remain…

Sunny tilted his head, then glanced at Saint.

Every broken doll had the same face, or rather, all of their faces looked alike… as if they were all imperfect copies of the same original.

They had the same flawless, inhumanly beautiful features that Saint had, only the craftsmanship behind the faces of the broken dolls seemed much less refined, as though the sculptor had not yet perfected his skill when creating them.

There all looked like Saint's lesser siblings.

...If Sunny ever had doubts that the Obsidian Tower had once belonged to a certain Underworld Demon, now there were none. The last child of the Unknown had clearly spent some time here. Was probably the one who had created the black pagoda, in the first place, for some mysterious purpose Sunny couldn't even begin to guess.

Then, however, his attention was drawn to something else.

The floor of the vast hall was covered by a thick layer of dust, which should not have been disturbed in a few thousand years.

…But it had been.

A set of fleet footprints led all the way from the bottom of the stairs, where Sunny was standing, to the pile of broken dolls, circled it, and then mysteriously disappeared.

Sunny stared at it for a few moments, surprised.

'Someone… someone had entered the Obsidian tower before me."

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