Return To Player Chapter 291

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Return To Player

# 291

Breaking Through Limits (1)

“Until what point can you become stronger, Lord Azazel?”

That question was asked only days before the Publisher would invade Earth.

After being sequestered in her room for a while, attempting to foresee the future, Minsuah emerged and immediately questioned Azazel.

“Hooh.”

It was a rather impertinent question to ask one of the seven great demons, the demon of sloth, Azazel.

Even Minsuah seemed to realize the insolence of her question as she shook her head in a flutter.

“No, no! It wasn’t my intention to provoke you, Lord Azazel. It’s just that…”

“Just what?”

“I was simply curious about how strong you can truly become.”

Minsuah’s face was not in the best state as she spoke.

There was only one reason she would bear such a grim expression.

“What could possibly come in the future to make you like this?”

“I’m not sure. The future has become twisted, and there’s little I can properly see.”

“But you feel something uncertain.”

“Yes. There was the most blurred future.”

The most blurred future.

Azazel leaned his chin on his hands on the table and stared at Minsuah, silently urging her to continue speaking.

“It wasn’t the Giant King. There’s something unknown, something so immense I dare not observe it might appear on Earth!”

“An external force, then?”

“That… that seems plausible, but I’m not certain. I don’t know if it should be called an external force….”

Minsuah spoke uncertainly, and Azazel shifted his gaze away from her.

He then looked out the dark sky outside the window.

They were currently in the Demon World, and thus, all that could be seen was a sky of different shades of gray than the Earth’s.

A quiet silence lingered in the room, only broken about five minutes later when Azazel opened his mouth.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

“You asked me earlier. About the extent of my strength.”

“Oh.”

“Sorry, but I don’t know either. I have only had one true challenger who required me to unleash my power.”

In truth, even on that one occasion, Azazel hadn’t felt like he used all his power. Therefore, he did not know the limits of his abilities.

“Who was the opponent you used your power against?”

“The former demon of sloth.”

“I see…”

Azazel was relatively young among the seven great demons, and few among the other demons even knew the specifics about him.

Rumors had it that he was a half-angel, half-demon who one day appeared in the Demon World and took up the mantle of the demon of sloth.

But that wasn’t important at the moment.

“Indeed, who might it be.”

Azazel mumbled to himself as he looked out the window, thinking about the ‘unknown entity’ Minsuah had seen.

If it had been an external force, Minsuah would have mentioned it so.

‘Could it be…?’

Azazel smiled wryly, thinking of a certain supreme being that came to mind.

Even so, he thought it was too far-fetched.

At least, that’s what he believed then.

***

Azathoth looked down at the life on Earth with a gleeful eye; the despair of the surface dwellers pleased him.

Some players lashed out at Azathoth in desperation, but since he was so high in the sky, their attacks didn’t reach. Even if they did, it would merely provoke laughter from Azathoth.

As for the gods, they were calmer in comparison.

Even with Azathoth’s arrival, they remained composed, merely observing the situation.

“Hm?”

Azathoth, who was watching the situation on Earth with interest, noticed a white girl.

It was the demon who had met his gaze earlier.

The chaos around her went unnoticed, but Azathoth was perfectly aware of her presence.

‘So it is.’

Relative to the other beings around her, she might have been powerful, but to Azathoth, she was hardly significant.

Yet arrogantly, the demon bowed slowly to Azathoth, like a lady greeting a partner before a dance.

“O most exalted deity.”

Her voice carried clearly through the stillness, and all those around could hear her speak.

“If it pleases you, may I request a dance?”

If any god or giant recognized Azazel, they might’ve looked his way with a notion of ‘perhaps,’ but the players looked at the insane act with bewildered eyes.

Azathoth was of the latter opinion.

He scoffed at the insignificant creature making bizarre requests.

“Fine, dance all you want.”

“Honored, I am.”

“If you can make it here, that is.”

Snap!

With a smirk, Azathoth snapped his fingers.

At that moment, the two external beings, Nodens Iedic and Diendre, were released from their restraints, which were bound by the power of the key.

“Ah!”

Jisu hurriedly attempted to intervene, but alone, she was no match against the might of Azathoth. Instantly regaining their physical forms, Diendre and Nodens Iedic presented themselves by Azathoth’s side, expressions filled with endless remorse.

“Father, we beg your forgiveness.”

“We, we were inattentive for a moment. If we were to fight again, it would be different…”

“It matters not.”

Azathoth carelessly twirled his finger in the air.

The tiny sphere that had been merely a speck began to expand.

“I was just feeling what humans call ‘boredom.’ Eradicate this unpleasant sensation for me.”

“Understood. Shall we crush that insignificant demon?”

“Hmm, yes. This is displeasure… isn’t it? I don’t like the way that demon is looking at me.”

To Azathoth, Azazel was no different from a human.

Even though Azazel stood calmly in contrast to the trembling humans and gods nearby, Azathoth didn’t appreciate the situation.

“Don’t let her reach this place. Let her know that no matter what she does, she cannot come here.”

“Assume human form again this time?”

“Do as you wish, but if they’re not in human form, they can’t be properly seen from this petty planet.”

“Understood.”

So they were to fight in human form again.

Diendre decided to obey Azathoth’s words.

Even though they had been humiliated by the demons, that was due to an abrupt intervention by a goddess.

Against a single demon, Diendre thought human form was sufficient to win.

“Hmm.”

Watching the external beings, Azazel fluttered her parasol in her hand.

She had heard everything Azathoth had said.

Was it that he had been swayed by human emotions, even obtaining their arrogance?

Well, it didn’t matter either way.

“Phew.”

Since the day she became the demon of sloth, this was her first proper fight.

To Azazel, the minor battles she had experienced thus far didn’t qualify as ‘fights’.

Azazel slowly bent her knees, as if focusing on drawing a bow.

Her target: right in front of Azathoth.

Boom!!

As if shot by an arrow, Azazel’s figure launched through the air.

It was a speed that could only be described as momentary, yet the two external beings clearly saw her movement and reacted.

“Ha!”

In front of the flying Azazel, space twisted.

She used her parasol to deflect and redirect the warped space.

But that was just the beginning.

“What do you think you’re doing alone? We won’t be caught unawares this time.”

Space opened up all around, and countless tentacles sprouted out.

These tentacles, armed with bizarrely shaped teeth, seemed like the limbs of an octopus.

Roarrr!!

As the tentacles thrashed, thousands of teeth rained down upon Azazel.

Should she be torn by those teeth, her very existence would be obliterated.

Azazel deflected them with her parasol and shielded herself.

The scene was astonishingly miraculous, but soon, Azazel’s movements reached their limits.

The space around her began to twist with the teeth.

“Begone.”

Just as Iedic’s terse command was heard, Azazel sensed an otherworldly presence near her ankles.

‘The hound of Tindalos.’

A bestial horror that inhabits the shadows of all space and time.

The creature, which can’t be killed and once pursues someone, does so for eternity, bit into Azazel’s ankle.

“Agh.”

With a faint moan, Azazel’s figure was dragged downward by the hound of Tindalos, unable to reach even halfway to Azathoth’s position, and plummeted to the ground.

Then, a massive tentacle crushed her down as if stepping on her.

Boom!!

The earth trembled violently, and those who had been watching from a distance wore faces of dismay.

It appeared that even Azazel couldn’t withstand two external beings and reach Azathoth.

“…It hurts.”

Azazel shared their sentiment.

She emerged from between the tentacles that had tried to mash her, looked at her rapidly dirtied white dress, and noticed wounds on her legs as well.

Things were not looking good.

“And you claimed you wished to dance? How amusing, to boast with such weak ability.”

Azathoth scoffed at Azazel.

On either side of him, Iedic and Diendre shook their heads in agreement with Azathoth’s mocking words.

Undoubtedly, the beings known as external beings were powerful.

They were absolute entities that shed the framework of deities.

Even Azazel found it challenging to face both simultaneously.

The usual Azazel might have found it bothersome and would have simply collapsed in place.

‘Had it been before, I would’ve done so.’

But right now, she did not wish for that.

Azazel had seen something in the Demon World.

A woman who endlessly longed for a sole existence.

Why would she go to such lengths?

There was no need for her to sacrifice herself.

There was no need for her to become stronger for someone else.

Yet, for one man, she put all she had into the fight and brought down even Lucifer by drawing out the utmost strength she could muster.

From the woman’s actions, Azazel felt fear.

Not because the woman was stronger than herself.

Fear usually emerges from the unknown, after all.

That fear posed questions to Azazel, and she was prompted to ponder whether she could do the same.

And surprisingly, she found her answer in the most unexpected place.

“…Sigh.”

Azazel had never tried before.

She neither wanted nor needed to.

That was until now, anyway.

“O greatest deity. Are you aware?”

“Aware of what?”

“When humans become their strongest.”

“…?”

Azathoth, of course, couldn’t know. He had no interest in knowing.

Even if humans became stronger, they were still just humans.

“The answer is…”

Slowly, Azazel lifted her half-broken parasol.

The parasol began to shine with a pure white light, absorbing brilliance.

Gripping the light with both hands, Azazel slowly snapped it in two.

“When they feel fear.”

In both her hands, a radiant pure white light shimmered.

That shining light dwindled and took shape, forming into a weapon.

Two swords.

“When fear is felt at the moment of greatest weakness.”

Azazel, with her newly-formed twin white swords, thrust them into either side of her tattered dress.

Riiip!

As the dress tore on either side, Azazel’s white legs stood bare.

Feeling lightened by the change of outfit, Azazel gave a slight smile.

“O deity.”

“What now?”

“What do you think about it?”

Azazel’s question caused Azathoth’s face to darken in displeasure.

He was truly irritated by this demon’s endless strange behavior.

“I don’t know. Nor do I want to know or care.”

Responding thus, Azathoth gestured to the two external beings by his side.

It was an order to deal with the chattering demon immediately.

He thought it would be more interesting to deal with other humans than to contend with an annoying demon.

Azathoth’s command barely issued when Diendre and Iedic began to move again.

Azazel laughed scornfully, sensing the twisting space around her.

Even she didn’t know the answer to her own question.

“The demon of sloth in the Demon World… that position is only granted to the most talented among demons.”

Azazel was a demon of exceptional talent who had never known fear.

However, due to this, she never fully harnessed her abilities.

Her power was to break through limits.

Azazel’s inability to recognize her own limits made it impossible for her to wield this power.

She never had a reason to push beyond her limits and never felt the need for it.

Azazel had only used her limit-breaking power once.

When she had killed the previous demon of sloth, Belphegor.

Even then, it was incomplete.

To surpass one’s limits means overcoming the terror of facing a dead end.

It was natural for Azazel, who knew not fear, to be unable to wield her abilities properly.

A power she owned yet could not fully control.

It was why Azazel didn’t know how strong she could really become, nor how far she could push her limits.

So now, there was only one thing Azazel could do.

“—I’ll just have to find out for myself.”

To discover her own limits.

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