A note from MelasDelta

Today, I want to give a big shoutout to the Courting of life and Death by VMJ! It's a very good story which doesn't receive the attention it deserves. Seriously, check it out here!

88. Minotaurs Found!

“Hey, Sophia.”

Edithe’s voice tore the young woman’s eyes from the badge she had been holding. It was adorned in gold— well, more like yellow, really. So she finally got promoted, huh?


Sophia quickly pocketed the badge and faced Edithe. The red haired woman nodded and smiled.


“Oh, uh, thank you. I just got promoted the other week— but Hadrian only sent the request for a new badge for me just yesterday.”

“You should wear it.”

Edithe spoke simply, stepping up beside Sophia. She tilted her head up, feeling the smile threaten to disappear, but continued through it.

“When I first became Gold, I was too afraid of coming across as arrogant that I kept it hidden from everyone and anyone I knew. I thought it was the modest thing to do. But Paul told me that most people wouldn’t care if you show it— in fact, most people would be able to identify me and know that I was Gold.”

Talking of her former party leader still made her feel a slight pain in her heart. They had been her only true friends after so long. And they’re now d—

Edithe gritted her teeth and turned to Sophia.

“Plus, you’re not even Level 40 yet. That is an achievement. So, wear it with pride.”

“O-of course.”

The younger woman spoke hesitantly, but quickly took out the badge and pinned it onto her shirt. Edithe gave her an approving look before finally deciding to discuss what she had come here for.

“By the way, Sophia, could I ask you one thing?”

Sophia instantly froze. Her shoulders slumped as she groaned.

“Oh, please don’t tell me it’s going to be about Gabriel and what happened with those Iron Champion assassins the other day. I’ve answered so many questions about it— you can ask anyone, and I mean anyone, and they can tell you everything I know.”

Edithe chuckled and waved a hand.

“No, not that.”

She turned her head back slightly, towards the small figure hiding behind the crack in the door. Edithe gestured at Rachel to come, however the little girl refused to budge— not wanting to talk to anyone except for her.

“It’s about the two adventurers you traveled with. Salvos and Daniel.”

“T-the two Gold Ranks?”

Sophia stiffened and Edithe raised a brow.

“Is something the matter?”

Flushing, the young woman averted her gaze slightly and spoke quietly, almost ashamed.

“It’s… nothing. They were very helpful. What do you want to know about them?”

Edithe narrowed her eyes, realizing there was a story there. However, she decided not to press it and continued with her question.

“They were supposed to head further into the Motharis Mountain Range, after helping find Gabriel. Do you know anything about whether they got there?”

“Oh, uh, no.”

Sophia relaxed and scratched the back of her head.

“They didn’t speak much about what they were doing. I… knew they were heading somewhere, but didn’t even ask them where.”

She blushed again but quickly continued.

“However, if you’re worried about them, don’t be. They took care of all the monsters in the Moharis just fine. Even ones that were far beyond their level— ones I couldn’t even identify.”

Again, there was a story there. But Edithe didn’t prod the young woman about it. She nodded her head, and asked just to confirm.

“So, you think they’ll get to their destination just fine?”

“If my eyes weren’t deceiving me and they were actually as strong as they were?”

Sophia met Edithe’s gaze and spoke confidently.

“Then yes.”

“I see.”

With that, Edithe thanked the young woman, satisfied. She congratulated her once again on her promotion, before walking out of the lunchroom to meet the little girl hiding out in the hallway.

“There, you’ve got your answer.”

She bent over and smiled reassuringly at Rachel.

“...but they haven’t returned yet.”

The little girl spoke apprehensively, glancing around almost nervously. A few figures appeared down the hall— Hadrian was talking to Ian and Paige— and passed through, and instantly Rachel steeled herself, her face becoming cool and almost uncaring, until they were gone.

Apparently, Edithe was the only one Rachel even trusted here. Was it because Salvos gave her her approval? Edithe wasn’t sure. But once they left, Rachel returned to the scared child once again and looked up at Edithe. Or rather, just a normal, worried child.

“Salvos said they would come back. But it’s been so long and they haven’t returned!”

“It’s only been a few weeks. Just over a month and a half. Even Sophia and Cless only returned three weeks ago!”

Edithe spoke reassuringly, ruffling the palm of her hand through the brown hair of the girl.

“Don’t worry. You heard what Sophia said. They’re fine. Now come.”

She pulled Rachel’s hand gently, bringing her along as she headed out of the headquarters of the Valiant Dreamers Company.

“The others are already leaving, but it seems like Gabriel has finished making his antidote. Hopefully Baris will make a full recovery by tonight. But just in case, we’ll see what happens.”

It was a simple and straightforward reason. One that would make enough sense in and of itself. But there was a layer underneath it. That of fear.

Because even though Salvos trusted her, Edithe wasn’t sure if she could trust herself. She had failed Paul, Eloy, Silvia, and Hana. They were dead now, because she was too weak. And if she was too weak now— if the Harrowed Vindicators showed up— she didn’t think she would be able to protect Rachel from them herself.

So, what better way to keep the girl safe than to keep her surrounded by a group of high leveled individuals? Hadrian and Gabriel were Diamond. There would be a handful of Platinums there too, to watch and see if Baris recovers. Not to mention the numerous amount of Gold Ranks the Valiant Dreamers had.

What could possibly go wrong?

Daniel and I reached the base of the large castle and pushed through the broken gates into the vast chamber within. We had thought it would be empty— that maybe there would be a single [Cultist] or two hiding within, and maybe even some Minotaurs that were being controlled by Mindreapers too. We were prepared, however we weren’t prepared to face… just [Cultists].

Level 60 [Cultists]. Those who would have been leaders of their own cults and groups. They were commonplace here. A few had been standing sentry rather than just meandering about, collecting trinkets like the first one we had found. They were keeping a keen eye out for us, and despite trying to keep to the shadows, they saw us.

Magic blasted our way, and a few drew their crude blades and charged us. I ignored those, letting them take my [Hero] companion on in battle, instead rushing the ones casting spells from behind. My claws sheared through these mage-type [Cultists] far easier than it would have the warrior-types, and with my newfound [Strength] artifact, I disposed of them rather easily.

Defeated [Cultist - Lvl. 64]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

Defeated [Cultist - Lvl. 61]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!


Defeated [Cultist - Lvl. 67]!

Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!

Subspecies [Midday Changeling] Level Up!

[Midday Changeling – Lvl. 59] -> [Midday Changeling – Lvl. 60]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

The battles that took place entering the castle were won easily. Most of the [Cultists] other than the first few guarding had been busy, and were slow to drop their tasks to attack us. But they did, and we fought back.

Daniel pulled his sword from the chest of a [Cultist] wielding a flail. The weapon was clearly not suited for her— she seemed like the type to cast spells more than anything. However, she still used it mindlessly, as her ice magic had been countered by my flames.

Wiping a sweat of his brows, he produced a healing potion from his pocket and raised it at me.

“Need some?”

“No thanks.”

I spoke simply, looking through the bodies of the [Cultists] I had just finished off. Many of them had been carrying something with them, looking to deliver it to somewhere. But it seemed that we had gotten lucky with the first [Cultist] as he actually had an artifact on him. These ones were carrying old, rusted weapons, useless pieces of jewellery, or even pieces of rocks as if they had any use.

Straightening, I pulled out a ring that looked like it would be useful and identified it. Nope, it’s just a ring. I sighed and tossed it aside. I raised a clawed finger and gestured at it to Daniel.

“I can avoid most of their attacks just fine, and those that hit me are absorbed by my Ring of Lesser Protection. Although it just ran out, it won’t take too long to recharge since we’re in a Dungeon.”

He nodded and picked up the flail.

“This looks like it’s useful. A Medium Grade weapon— Flail of Power. It releases a wave of energy when it strikes an opponent which increases its damage and knocks whoever it hits back.”

“I’ll take it!”

I piped up excitedly and bounded right up to his side.

“I’ve got [Passive - Weapon Mastery]! I can use that!”

It would be just like having a Spear of Flames all over again! It was very useful, especially when fighting wild Demons higher leveled than me. Although, with only [Cultists] and monsters here, there wasn’t too much for me to worry about. I could take on a Level 70 Mindreaper just fine, as long as I didn’t waste any time trying to take it down.

“Here you go. It’s a bit heavy, but I’m sure you can handle it just fine.”

I snorted and held up the Flail of Power. Certainly, I would have had trouble using it back when I was a Level 30 [Zelus Imp]. But my [Strength] had more than doubled since then. I could pretty much use any weapons made out of ordinary iron, unless it had some kind of enchantment that made it super heavy or unwieldy to use.

Spinning the chained weapon in the air, I took a minute to acclimate myself to the weapon. The chains rattled and clanged with each other, making it very noisy and not suited for sneaking around. However, just in case I would need it for later— if we somehow went up against a Minotaur, which I wasn’t looking forward to fighting but still wanted to see— I would keep it with me.

I stored the weapon in a Bag of Holding I picked up from an earlier [Cultist], I heaved it around my shoulder and started down a long, gilded corridor. Daniel followed after me, having kept his distance from the spinning weapon when I had tested it.

“So, there are a lot of [Cultists] here.”

“Yep. And no Minotaurs.”

I agreed, casting my gaze around just in case my words would suddenly make them appear. Deflating slightly when they didn’t, I turned back to my companion.

“And they’re all under the same control spell-combination that the monsters outside are under. The one that prevents you from sleeping.”

He rubbed at his eyes reflexively as he spoke, reminding himself that he probably should sleep soon. However, he could go for days without sleep if he pushed himself, and if anything, I could always wake him back up with [Zealous Call].

“You think there’s a Mindreaper somewhere in here?”

I caught on to what he was saying.

“Yeah. There has to be one. At least one Mindreaper to keep them asleep, and one of whatever it is that’s controlling their dreams.”

“With illusion magic.”

“Or a curse.”

He spoke darkly, his face steeled from the moment of drowsiness earlier; he didn’t like how he had been controlled twice before. Apparently, having his agency ripped from him was not something he had enjoyed. And I wholeheartedly agreed with that.

“Do you think we should try to find whatever it is that’s using this curse of illusion magic and stop them?”

Tapping a finger on my chin, I asked the question as we slowly rounded a corner. We made sure to peer about first, not to run into any ambush or be caught unprepared by a patrol of [Cultists].


He finally said after a moment’s deliberation. I cocked my head.

“Why not? Aren’t you a [Hero]? Isn’t it your job to deal with things like this?”

That had been the Class description from what I had been told by Daniel and Rachel. The little girl had excitedly told me the various stories of… just the Immortal King Alexander. He had been the protector of Humanity for a thousand years, and their ruler. So, he was the most well known [Hero] to Human children.

“I am.”

Daniel halted to a stop. He glanced to his right, right at a torn and discolored banner hanging down the side of the white walls. It wasn’t banclite— although it must have been designed to look like it.

“However, I also know when I’m out of my depth. This is something we need to report to the Adventurers Guild. To the Sunmere Republic itself. Maybe if it was just the [Cultists] schemes, we could deal with it ourselves. And I would have suggested that too. But this goes beyond them.”

Turning his head in the general direction of where we had come from— when we entered the city— he spoke slowly.

“It’s an army out there, Salvos. Dozens of Platinum Rank monsters. Hundreds of Gold Rank monsters. Thousands of Silver Rank monsters. And in here, there are dozens— maybe even more than a hundred— [Cultists], all at Gold Rank or higher. It’s not something either of us can or should deal with.”

I nodded.

“You’re right. I just wanted to meet some Minotaurs, but—”

Daniel and I paused by a hole in the wall. We looked through it, out into a garden courtyard that led to another wing of the castle. There, a group of [Cultists] were passing through. They caught sight of us and instantly charged, casting spells and drawing their weapons, all the while clinging onto whatever it was they were carrying on them.

“All I’ve found are more weird Humans.”

Defeated [Cultist - Lvl. 57]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!


Defeated [Cultist - Lvl. 62]!

Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!


Defeated [Cultist - Lvl. 68]!

Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!

Subspecies [Midday Changeling] Level Up!

[Midday Changeling – Lvl. 60] -> [Midday Changeling – Lvl. 61]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

Daniel and I swept through the various wings of the castle, mostly trying to stay hidden and only getting into some engagements. However, it seemed we didn’t even need to crawl through the cracks and holes to avoid drawing attention to ourselves.

For whatever reason, whenever we got into a fight— no matter how loud or explosive the battle was— no other [Cultists] came to assail us. They would only react to seeing us, and even then, they took a moment to decide between continuing their delivery or instantly blasting us with spells.

So we cleared out all the [Cultists] we could find while keeping an eye out for Fairies. I wasn’t sure what they looked like, but Daniel described them as little, flying people who would annoy and trick you for fun. They sounded nice. But we didn’t find any of them here.

However, we did eventually find the other Species I was looking for. The Minotaurs. And…

“They’re dead.”

Daniel pointed out the obvious as we stood before a pile of discarded, rotting bodies that had been stored in a room and left on its own. They lay by the dozens, their large bodies making them obviously not Human. Their two horse-like legs bloodied and cut, as if they had been beaten in battle.

They had the face of a cow— or a bull, which Daniel said was a kind of cow, although I hadn’t seen one in any of the cities I had been in so far— with two white horns protruding from the side of their heads. Their body was muscular, almost like Haec, with a broad chest that extended beyond even my height.

If they had still been alive and standing, they would have easily doubled my current height, even though I was taller than Daniel as I was now!

They might have been Lucerna’s height. Perhaps just a little bit taller. But despite being so huge and so strong— they were dead. And beyond just what Daniel pointed out, they didn’t just die randomly. They were…

“They’re chained up.”

I spoke up, narrowing my eyes. The large links of metal wrapped around the necks of the Minotaur corpses. They were imbued with powerful magic, so much so that I was certain I couldn’t break it either.

“Someone locked them up here after beating them in a fight. And then left them to starve.”

I thought food was disgusting— I didn’t like eating. However, I knew most living creatures needed some sort of subsistence to survive. The fact that they were left here without food, abandoned after being defeated… it made my skin crawl.

Daniel took a step forward, taking in the sight with a furrowed face. He shook his head and placed a hand on the ground.

“I… don’t think they were just abandoned, Salvos. I think they had already served their purpose then was abandoned. Look, drag marks.”

I stared at what he was tracing his finger over. The floor looked like it was scratched, damaged— which was what most of the Brilsum Ruins had looked like— but it was even newer. As if someone struggled as they were being pulled out of the room against their will.

A thought crossed through my mind.

“You think it has something to do with the [Cultists]?”

I raised a nonexistent brow towards him. He blinked.

“Why would that be? This was probably the working of whatever is responsible for everything weird that has been going on in this Dungeon.”

“But then why weren’t they just taken over in their sleep?”

The question stumped Daniel. And there was more to it than just that too.

“Plus, look at the marks on their body. The Minotaurs died recently enough that they haven’t turned to bones just yet— what was it you called it again?”


“Yep, that. And that’s why you think they starved. But they were also subdued and placed here in the first place— and the kind of injuries they suffered left marks on their skin. On their bodies.”

Daniel looked around with a frown. He realized what I was saying a moment after.

“So, it was not mind magic that did this.”

“It looks like the damage was caused by fire magic. Ice magic. Wind magic. And just swords, spears, hammers, flails— nothing out of the ordinary. Things Humans would use often.”

“The [Cultists].”

The Human man cast his gaze behind us instinctively. I continued.

“And that would explain why they were being kept here. After all, [Cultists] need living creatures— usually high level ones or ones with a lot of mana— to summon Demons.”

“Are you saying—”

His eyes grew wide as I looked down at him grimly. Opening my palms and shrugging, I took a step away from the prison room.

“I don’t know. However, I do know that not all Demons are ‘bad’ or ‘evil’, and especially not all of us are wild. So, let’s not assume the worse, alright?”

Daniel hesitated. He eyed me from behind, taking a moment to gather himself and hurry after me.

“But Salvos, if what you’re trying to say is true, don’t you think we should leave right now?”

“We haven’t found the Fairies yet.”

I spoke simply, although I was a little more conflicted than that in my head. Maybe, just maybe, if there really was an Archdemon here, I could ask them to help me return— it was a hopeful thought. One that was probably not going to happen.

However, I was a Demon, right? Just like them. Even Ignavare didn’t think to attack me unnecessarily.

Anyway, it was not like we were actively looking for trouble. We were trying to find Fairies, and they had been frequently spotted in this Dungeon. It made no sense to give up just yet.

Daniel disagreed.

“Salvos, I know I agreed to help you. I know I came with you this far out of my own volition. But this is starting to get reckless. Staying here, even for another day, is very risky.”

“Everything has risks.”

“I know that, but if the [Cultists] really succeeded, and there is an Archdemon here—”

We turned a corner, and the Human man was abruptly cut off. We stared at what was waiting before us. No— there was no Archdemon there. In fact, we didn’t even stop to stare for long.

Because what we saw was something we had already agreed we would attack immediately. Leading a group of [Cultists], hovering just below the ceiling as it patrolled down the corridors of the castle, was a Mindreaper.

Daniel and I ceased our arguments and immediately rushed forward. Mind magic settled in a moment later, just as we expected, but we were fully prepared this time.


A note from MelasDelta

3,600 words. Long-ish chappie. Thanks for reading <3

Current patreon backlog is at 20 chapters or a month ahead right now. You can read it all for only $5 if you donate to my patreon here!

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About the author


  • Current Schedule: idk lmao. Professional Zoomer. Also, I write stuff sometimes.

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