Solo Leveling Novel Chapter 102

11

“I am Esil, the first-born daughter of House Radiru. And my clan is…”

“No, not that.”

Jin-Woo cut Esil off.

He didn’t really care about the finer details of a monster family’s history. What he wanted to know was the reason why monsters and instant dungeons existed.

How should he go about asking this question, so he’d get himself a satisfying enough answer?

No, he would still be okay if there was no concrete answer. He’d be happy enough to get a single clue, a lead of some kind.

He tried asking the same thing to monsters in the regular dungeons, but the only thing he got to learn was that they could only hear the order of ‘Kill the humans’ inside their heads.

‘In that case, do these guys receive the exact same order, too?’

In order to help him compare the current situation with the monsters of the regular dungeons, he simplified the question a bit.

“Hey, do you also hear a voice telling you to kill humans?”

“Pardon me?”

Esil looked at him with a pair of confused eyes.

Because she was still kowtowing on the ground, he had to continue staring down at her if he wanted to talk to her face to face, and he kinda felt a bit uncomfortable about this arrangement.

‘Tsk.’

Jin-Woo lightly clicked his tongue, and as if Esil was a little kid, picked her up and made her stand straight. And then, he stared at her face again.

Maybe she got scared of the unannounced physical contact, he heard her heart rate quicken noticeably. Not minding that, Jin-Woo asked her again.

“I’m asking you if you hear a whisper of someone busy telling you to kill humans.”

“Oh….”

Esil hesitated and pondered for a moment, before opening her mouth.

“No. But, we do hear a different voice all the time.”

“Okay. What does it say?”

“It tells us to… protect the space we’re residing in.”

Esil spoke cautiously while being extra mindful of Jin-Woo’s reactions.

‘The purpose of the instant dungeon’s monsters is different from monsters of the regular dungeons?’

The sole purpose of the monsters from the regular dungeons was to kill humans, while the monsters of the instant dungeons were to guard where they were. The nature of the two camps’ aim was quite different from each other.

‘Wait a minute….’

Now that he thought about it, wasn’t Jin-Woo a monster-like existence to these monsters of the instant dungeons??

Esil’s complexion was still quite pale after bearing the full brunt of his skill, ‘Intimidation’, and he couldn’t help but feel a wee bit of pity for her.

Just a tiny bit, though.

“How long have you been hearing that voice?”

“It’s right after we opened our eyes in this place.”

‘After opening their eyes in this place, is it?’

Didn’t that imply that she and others were living in another location before this? Whether that was a genuine or a fake memory, that’s what was left imprinted in her brain.

Jin-Woo continued on with his questioning.

“Okay. Then, where have you been before waking up in this place?”

“We were in the Demon World. We just woke up one day and found ourselves stuck here.”

“And what were you doing back in the Demon World before that?”

“We were…. getting ready for war.”

“War, you say?”

“Yes.”

Did she recall the memories of back then? Esil’s expression no longer had any traces of fear when she was begging for her life, now only filled with grave determination.

“We were in the situation of preparing for war against a horrifyingly powerful foe that necessitated every demon scattered around in the Demon World to unite….”

….And that’s where Esil’s words were cut off.

“…”

No, accurately speaking, Esil was still talking. Her lips were clearly moving up and down even now. However, Jin-Woo couldn’t hear her voice at all. Instead, he was blessed with the monotone mechanical voice spat out by the System.

[You have exceeded the allowed information threshold, therefore this conversation has been blocked.]

[You have exceeded the allowed information threshold, therefore this conversation has been blocked.]

[You have exceeded the allowed information threshold….]

Right until Esil’s explanations came to an end, that exact same message played over and over again.

Jin-Woo’s eyes gleamed suspiciously.

‘Had you left it alone, I wouldn’t have suspected anything, actually.’

Indeed, he might have thought Esil’s explanations as a backstory for the monsters of this place cooked up by the System or some such. Levelling up, instant dungeons, quests, quest rewards, penalties, and even the process of getting his Class…..

He was faced with one situation after another that resembled video games, so if monsters had a game-like backstory as well, it’d not come across as strange at all.

However, the moment the System forcibly intervened, Jin-Woo became sure of one thing.

‘Talking to her might give me a clue to solving everything, in other words.’

The System made a clear and definite mistake here, just now.

“Did…. Did I make a mistake somewhere?”

When Jin-Woo’s expression became graver, even Esil’s own expression darkened.

‘What does the System want to hide? This unknown foe the demons were supposed to fight? Or the reason for the war? Maybe the end result?’

In order to figure this out, he narrowed down the scope of his next question.

“What was the identity of those horrifyingly powerful foes?”

However, at that moment….

Like a toy with a dead battery, Esil froze up on the spot. But, that lasted only for a little while. She suddenly lost consciousness and powerlessly collapsed to the floor.

Jin-Woo quickly snatched her, and carefully laid her down on the ground. Seeing that her breathing was steady, it didn’t look like she was in any danger.

However, there was a frown on her face; perhaps she felt a bit uncomfortable somewhere. She seemed to be having a bit of trouble breathing properly, too.

In order to help her rest more easily, Jin-Woo began ripping her armours off.

Riiiip.

Her armours came off rather easily. He also tore the mantle on the back of the armour, rolled it up and placed it under her head like a pillow. It sure was a lot of work for a monster, but he didn’t think this was him being too nice at all.

Because she ended up in this state, he got himself yet another clue, that’s why.

‘The foes demons fought….’

The System reacted way too sensitively towards the identity of this unknown foe, or foes.

‘Could those beings be related?’

What if those beings possessed some kind of incredible transcendental powers, and for some reason, exerted their influence on Earth and more specifically, him….?

Jin-Woo summoned the Store interface.

He tried to wake Esil up with a potion, but it didn’t seem to work.

‘I guess I don’t have a choice but to wait it out.’

Plop.

Jin-Woo sat down next to Esil.

And until she woke up, he systematically pieced together each tidbit of info she supplied him with.

“….Uh?”

Esil quickly raised her upper body.

Sensing another presence nearby, she looked to her side and found the totally-wordless Jin-Woo sitting there. Her shoulders flinched a little, just then.

‘S-so, I wasn’t dreaming….’

Slowly getting to terms with her new reality, Esil took a look around her. And there were huge piles of dead Superior Demons found nearly everywhere. Her brows shot up immediately.

Demons with little intelligence didn’t treat other demons with intelligence as their kin. So, an unconscious demon like her would’ve been seen as a tasty meal.

However…..

The only reason why she was unscathed like this, was….

“Were you protecting me all this time?”

Rather than answering her, Jin-Woo raised his body up and then, extended his hand out to Esil.

Esil looked as if she was profoundly moved and, after holding onto his hand, cautiously stood up from the spot.

“Thank you.”

“How long will we take to get to where the Entry Permit is?”

“It’s not too far from here. I’ll take you there.”

Esil then presented Jin-Woo with both of her wrists.

“…..?”

“…??”

Jin-Woo and Esil stared at each other in confusion. Feeling a bit frustrated, Esil opened her mouth first.

“I’m your hostage, so aren’t you supposed to bind my hands first before moving out?”

“Don’t wanna.”

He was confident of stopping her from resisting or escaping even without the aid of restraints. Besides, way too much time had been wasted already for him to waste even more on something useless like that.

Jin-Woo spun Esil around and pushed her slightly on her back.

Maybe she was still scared of him, he sensed her heartbeat getting faster, but Jin-Woo didn’t mention it. Instead, his gaze shifted over to the horses the demons rode on.

“What about them?”

“I’ll take them along.”

With a slightly flushed face, Esil took the reins of the horses and took the lead. Jin-Woo quietly followed her from behind.

Just as Esil said, they didn’t have to travel far before arriving at a location where the Entry Permit was likely to be present. And it just so happened to be a large castle.

‘A demon’s castle inside the Demon’s Castle, is it….?’

The Demon’s Castle was only a ‘castle’ in name and was actually a tower, but the one in front of his eyes seemed to have taken quite a lot of inspirations from the ancient castles of the medieval times.

The soldiers guarding the castle gates became tense instantly after seeing Jin-Woo, but….

“He’s a guest.”

Esil spoke disinterestedly and pointed with her chin, causing the guards to quickly open the castle gates. Soon, a group of knights came out from the inside of the castle to greet her.

“Lady Esil. We were waiting for your return.”

“Where is my father?”

“The lord is waiting in the audience chamber.”

“Understood.”

One of the knights glanced at Jin-Woo and asked.

“Lady Esil…. This gentleman is…?”

“He’s an important guest, so do not forget to mind your manners.”

After hearing Esil’s solemn tone of voice, knights quickly parted ways and lowered their heads.

Jin-Woo wordlessly followed after her and entered the deeper part of the castle. After a long walk down a wide corridor, he found himself entering a very large chamber that looked like a boss room in a dungeon.

‘So, this is the audience chamber?’

Jin-Woo scanned his surroundings.

Other than tall stone pillars reaching up to the ceiling situated at a regular interval to either sides of the chamber, it was pretty much wide open and empty. It was as if this whole place had been prepared for potential battles that could break out.

‘If I were to fight my way here, then I guess I was supposed to face the boss in this chamber, huh.’

Which meant, the male Demon Aristocrat sitting on a huge throne atop a rostrum located on the other side of the audience chamber was the boss of this place.

Esil and Jin-Woo stopped before the ‘boss’.

The boss was the first to break the ice.

“Esil.”

“Father, this person is….”

Even before listening to Esil’s explanation, the boss met the gaze of Jin-Woo, and its brows shot up high. The irises of the boss were quaking visibly now.

“Y-you!! Just who did you bring before me?!”

“F-Father, this man is a guest….”

Esil desperately tried to explain, but the boss’s agitation didn’t want to lessen at all.

“A guest?! Just what kind of a guest invades the home of the inviter with an army?!”

“Pardon me?!”

Esil quickly shifted her gaze over to Jin-Woo. Just where was this army her father was speaking of here?

The boss, meanwhile, kept his eyes firmly fixed on Jin-Woo and spoke with a trembling voice.

“Esil, do you not see it with your own eyes? Can you not see the countless soldiers hidden in that man’s darkness?” (TL note at the end)

Jin-Woo’s glare sharpened up a notch.

Flinching from the sudden change in the atmosphere, Esil quickly took a step back. Meanwhile, Jin-Woo was somewhat surprised by this development.

‘I guess he’s got pretty good senses.’

It seemed that the boss was able to ‘see’ the soldiers hidden inside Jin-Woo’s shadow.

‘Not sure whether I can call this a good thing or not, though.’

He had recalled all of his Shadow Soldiers and stored them back in his shadow to prepare for battles, just in case, before arriving here.

“How dare you bring soldiers into my house?!”

As soon as the boss roared out, many knights rushed inside the audience chamber.

“Father!”

Esil cried out to her father in a loud voice of her own.

The boss was now standing up from his throne, glaring down with anger-filled eyes. Staring silently at the developing situation until then, Jin-Woo finally opened his mouth.

“We made a promise.”

Failing to sense any form of tension whatsoever from Jin-Woo, the boss’s brows quivered greatly.

“What kind of a promise did you make?”

“The Entry Permit.”

Jin-Woo took a step forward.

“As long as you hand over the floor entry permit, I’ll quietly leave this floor.”

The boss swallowed his saliva nervously.

‘The man who hunted down demons at a frightening pace while climbing up the floors must be him.’

The boss recalled how despondent he felt when the news of the much-trusted Vulcan and Metus falling reached his ears.

Even though the Radiru clan was nominally aristocrats, they were actually ranked 20th, the very last spot on the list of the demon’s hierarchy. Meaning, they were the weakest among the aristocratic clans.

If they were to face off against an enemy that took care of Vulcan and Metus quite easily, the boss knew that he’d have to sacrifice quite a lot of their own. However, such a terrifying enemy was saying that he’d leave on his own volition.

‘Should I believe him….?’

The boss asked, feeling not entirely convinced.

“Is that the only thing you want from us?”

As if he was waiting for that, Jin-Woo spoke up.

“And also….”

‘But, of course….’

The boss’s forehead creased up in a frown as the situation unfolded as he expected. The demands of the strong were always unfair and constant.

Even before hearing the ridiculousness of the demands that would insult the clan’s honour, and ridicule his proud soldiers, the boss could feel his chest tighten in frustration already.

Sure enough….

The man placed his hand on the shoulder of the boss’s daughter and spoke.

“I wish to borrow this kid from you, too.”

“….What did you say??”

The boss and the knights all cried out in astonishment simultaneously. Jin-Woo scanned his vicinity, feeling genuinely puzzled now.

‘Mm?’

Esil told him that she knew where the Entry Permits were at in the higher floors. He only asked to ‘borrow’ her for a little bit so she could guide him to where the permits were, but this was…..

‘Did I say something wrong?’

Jin-Woo could only tilt his head this way and that as he alternated his gaze between the heavily-trembling boss, the knights who couldn’t hide their astonishment, as well as Esil and her deeply-blushing face.