1

With a mixture of apprehension and determination, Raziel finally managed to cross the river, a feat made possible by the aid of Matron Selene.

He remembered her reluctance and concern, her eyes betraying a hint of unease at the mention of seeking aid from the Umbralfiends.

But he was surprised she let him go without much convincing.

However, despite her hesitation, Raziel's resolution remained unshaken; this was the only path left to take, the only glimmer of hope in a seemingly endless nightmare.

She also had to agree that he had to do this alone since if the werewolves were really keeping an eye on their place from the outside, then they couldn't risk moving together.

But a lone and weak Soul Eater's aura like his can be easily hidden with her help and sneak past the river.

After countless retries, Raziel came to know that the Bloodclaw Clan had already tracked and found their place at least a day ago!

They were doomed before they even knew it. If only he could reverse time at least a day or two more, then he could have definitely saved them all on his own.

But there was no point in thinking about it. The only thing that he could focus on was begging for the help of the Umbralfiends.

Upon reaching the northern island, the stark reality of his situation quickly set in.

"Halt!"

No sooner had he set foot on the unfamiliar land than he found himself encircled by a group of Umbralfiend soldiers.

Their sharp spears pointed menacingly at him, their eyes filled with suspicion and hostility. The tense atmosphere was palpable, and Raziel knew he had to choose his words carefully.

"You have 5 seconds to tell us why you trespassed into our kingdom. Or die," one of the soldiers barked, his voice echoing with authority and threat.

Swallowing hard, Raziel steadied himself despite the multiple powerful and piercing auras pressing down on him.

His heart raced, but he needed to be clear and concise, "I-I want an audience with your king... please," he said, trying to keep his voice steady.

The urgency of his mission lent him a sense of boldness he hadn't felt before. This was his only chance, and he couldn't afford to falter now.

"Who do you think you are to seek an audience with His Majesty. We don't let any stray meet his eyes and waste his time," One of the guards said as he pressed the tip of his spear against Raziel's neck, making him grimace while feeling a mix of fear and desperation.

The soldier's scornful tone left little room for hope, and it seemed they weren't going to listen to him.

"No, please! All I need is just a few seconds," Raziel implored, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender and earnestness.

He could feel the cold metal of the spear slightly piercing his skin but didn't let it hold him back.

Just then, the air shifted with the arrival of a commanding presence, "What is going on here?"

The deep, authoritative voice that resonated behind him made Raziel's heart skip a beat. He turned around, only to be met with the sight of a tall, imposing figure followed by a distinguished entourage.

Raziel's eyes widened as the man who had spoken was none other than King Morro, a figure of immense power and stature. His long black hair flowed down his back, contrasting with his deep azure skin that shimmered with scales. The royal dark azure robe he wore only accentuated his commanding aura.

As King Morro surveyed the scene, his presence petrified the very air. The soldiers surrounding Raziel immediately dropped their weapons and bowed deeply, "Your Majesty!" they exclaimed in unison, their voices laced with a mix of reverence and fear.

Raziel couldn't help but feel dwarfed standing in the presence of a peak Soul Devourer this close for the first time in his life.

Never before did he think he would get to meet a king personally, and someone who basically ruled half of this continent.

But he was glad that the timing was in his favor where this king was coincidentally out here, probably for a walk.

King Morro's gaze briefly fell upon him, cold and inquisitive, before looking away, "What is this little vampire doing here? You all have been slacking off to even let someone like him sneak inside? Is it?" the king questioned sternly, causing the soldiers to fall to their knees in submission.

"Forgive us, Your Majesty! But we caught him just as he tried to sneak inside. We will dispose of him for you," one of the soldiers quickly responded, his voice trembling with a mix of apology and urgency and was about to grab Raziel.

Just as one of them was about to grab Raziel, he made a bold and desperate move.

He leaped forward, collapsing at King Morro's feet, pleading fervently, "Please! M-My people need your help. The Bloodclaw Clan is going to slaughter them, but only your grace can save them. They fear your kingdom and won't dare trouble us if you can send just one of your men with me. We are willing to do anything to repay you."

King Morro, towering and imposing, looked down with a mixture of annoyance, "What is this little thing babbling about?" he grumbled.

He then turned to the guards, "Why are you standing here like fools? Throw him out unless you want to have your armor stripped off and get thrown out along with him."

"Yes, Your Majesty!" The guards, trembling with fear and resolve, grabbed Raziel by his arms, dragging him away.

Raziel's cries of desperation echoed, "NO! Please, help us!" But the king seemed indifferent, walking away without a backward glance.

In a moment of anger and disappointment, Raziel shouted, "What kind of a king are you if you are so callous despite the fact that you won't lose anything by helping us. You don't deserve to be a king!" His words were filled with frustration and despair.

It was a moment of reckless courage, but Raziel had nothing left to lose, and all he could do was vent.

The atmosphere tensed instantly. King Morro's steps halted, and an ominous silence fell over the area.

The guards holding Raziel stiffened, their grip tightening. One of them, fueled by loyalty and anger, raised his hand, ready to strike Raziel down for his insolence, "Die for insulting His Majesty!" the guard bellowed, his hand poised to deliver a fatal blow.

Raziel shut his eyes to prepare himself.

"Hold it," King Morro commanded sharply, halting the guard mid-strike.

The atmosphere tensed further as the king slowly turned around, his cold gaze landing on Raziel.

"You naive boy, have you been living in a cave?" Morro's voice was tinged with scorn, "Do you think my kingdom exists to aid weaklings like you who aren't meant to survive in our world? The more useless things like you perish, the better. You people are mere fodder for those Hunters, effortlessly allowing them to get stronger by killing you. So it's better those wretched werewolves kill you all. Barring that...I am not your king. Blame your fate and luck for not being strong enough."

The harshness of King Morro's words cut through Raziel like a knife, shattering any remaining hope he clung to.

It then dawned on him that he had never truly understood what Grandpa Caius had said about the world until now. Everyone out here only cared about themselves and was indifferent or cruel to what happened to anybody else.

His gaze dropped in defeat, his spirit broken.

In a final act of contempt, Morro commanded, "It isn't worth killing someone whose fate is sealed. Thrash him and throw him out."

The guards immediately obeyed, and while Raziel was drowning in despair, a fist struck him.

Their fists struck his face and body mercilessly, each blow a physical manifestation of his failed plea, the shattering of his naive belief in mercy and compassion.

Blood filled his mouth as his bones fractured under the relentless assault, but the physical pain paled in comparison to the emotional torment of his realization.

This world, cruel and ruthless, would never allow him or his people a chance at survival. Whatever spark of hope he had left in his heart, was now extinguished, leaving only despair in its wake.

After being thrown out by the guard, lying on the cold, hard ground, Raziel felt a deep sense of despair wash over him.

His body ached from the brutal beating he had received, and his heart was heavy with the knowledge of what awaited his people.

The sky was dimming, signaling the approach of the dreaded evening, and with it, the inevitable slaughter of his people.

The faces of his mother and Matron Selene flashed before his eyes, and his helplessness only continued to crush him.

As he lay there, trying to gather the strength to move, a gentle voice broke through his haze of pain,

"Um...This is for you," said the voice, soft and melodious.

Struggling, Raziel turned his head with a grimace and saw a figure standing near him. His vision was blurry, but he could make out the silhouette of a young umbralfiend woman. Her long blue hair flowed down her back, and she was clad in elegant azure garments.

She placed a glowing dark red potion beside him, "This is a healing potion. It may not heal you completely, but it will help you get back home. I am sorry...This is all I can do for you," she said, her voice tinged with sympathy.

However, despite her action, Raziel was filled with even more anger and muttered weakly, "You people...are no different than them...Leave me alone..." He felt her act was nothing but a gesture to mock him.

She clearly knew what kind of help he needed, and if she really wanted to help, she would have done it.

The woman seemed to look into his eyes for a few moments, but then she silently got up and walked away.

As he saw her walk away, the familiar sensation of darkness began to envelop his vision.

His heart sank with the realization that he was being pulled back into the nightmarish cycle once again. All his efforts had been in vain, and his people, the people he had tried so desperately to save, had perished again.

And the next moment, he found himself kneeling on the cold, rocky surface of the mountain.

His body shivered in the chilly air, but his expression was numb, his eyes dull and lifeless.

The endless cycle of death and despair had drained him of hope, leaving him with nothing but the dread of reliving the same horrifying day again.

Just then, the deep, resonant voice of Drakaris echoed from above, cutting through the silence, "It seems that you have given up all hope. But since things have come to this, I am going to offer you a way out. All you have to do is follow what I say, and this cycle of death will stop for everyone," Drakaris declared calmly.

Raziel's eyes, which had been void of any emotion, suddenly sparked with a faint glimmer of determination.

He looked up towards the source of the voice, his gaze meeting the massive, glowing crimson eyes of Drakaris shrouded in the mist above.

Clenching his teeth, he responded with a newfound resolve, "Whatever it is...I will do it to stop this nightmare."