The smell of hellfire was like burnt flesh . It was seasoned well with the howls of the damned souls who were permanently trapped in this place . The above experience was made complete by the shadows that swayed unnaturally due to the hellfire . When he saw and heard all of this for the first time in ages, Mamon couldn’t stop himself from grinning .
This must be what they called ‘feels like home . ’
This place was the Outer Hell, the land of the dead, also known as the kingdom of no return . Monsters would appear in this place after dying from something other than a player, living aimlessly and eternally .
Hell was a place located in the Monster Realm . Unlike the difficulty of crossing between the New World and the Monster Realm, the method for entering Hell was well-known . In fact, accessing Hell was an easy feat if the requirements were met, one being that the one wanting to enter is in the Monster Realm . Instead, it was returning from Hell that was extremely difficult .
A penalty is applied to all visitors, fixing their level at Level 1 Squire Rank . The only beings who could exert their full power in Hell could be divided into three categories . The first consisted of the ones who willingly stepped into Hell, while the second was made up of those born in Hell . The final category was exclusively for any and all Gods of Death .
For the record, Mamon was born in Hell . He was originally a small frog born from the remnants of negative energy that naturally accumulated . He had to constantly hide, avoiding conflict that always occurred when recently deceased monsters emerged in Hell . With his ambition, he had been gathering and accumulating energy, no matter how small each drop was, and resorted to all kinds of underhanded tricks . He then started to conquer parts of Hell using any means necessary, be it manipulation, betraying allies, or just pure savagery . In the end, he became known as the Demon of Greed .
Mamon relied on his abilities to conquer the three outer layers of Hell . These parts of Hell were easy to conquer as the Gods of Death often neglected them, leaving them as wastelands . Seizing the chance, Mamon built his own kingdom and expanded his forces, hoping to conquer all of Hell one day .
Later, a war broke out in Hell . It lasted more than ten years and showed no signs of stopping, until Thanatos paid Mamon’s land a visit and initiated a truce according to the will of Lord Yama . The Gods of Death were willing to grant Hell’s fourth layer to Mamon as well as bestow upon him a title of nobility: the Devil Prince .
From then on out, Mamon established the ‘Devil World’ using the four parts of Hell belonging to him . It could be said that with the Devil World consisting of four parts, it was essentially half of Hell .
Mamon didn’t know the reason behind the truce, but he decided to accept the deal anyway . From then on, instead of aiming at Hell’s inner parts, he pointed his attacks outward . He changed his approach to expand his territory outside of Hell and into the Monster Realm, and come back for the rest of Hell later when the time was ripe .
Sadly, he was sealed before his dream came true . It had taken him a long time to finally obtain a chance to return to his home .
Mamon felt his power surging, which was the result of him visiting his own territory . It was the result of Lomyok obtaining an Emperor Rank weapon . All beings would become more powerful inside their territories .
With his elevated strength, Mamon was confident that, in this time and at this place, he would be able to turn a cheap potion into a powerful tonic or change a plain stick into a mighty spear . It was a power-up that was extremely beneficial to him .
Mamon spread his signature psychic power out . It was accompanied by a sense of terror and revulsion that evoked a memory that had been imprinted into every soul living in this place .
There used to be an unwritten rule: “When Mammon appears, all beings in his lands must show up and express respect . ”
Coming into contact with his psychic power, several small souls quickly ran away while trembling in fear . Mamon waited for a moment and found that nobody had come to greet him . No traces of the Minotaurs, his most faithful servants, could be sensed at all . He frowned before sinking into his own shadow and reappearing next to an unfortunate soul that didn’t flee far enough .
“Where is everyone?” Mamon asked coldly .
The pitiful soul restlessly quaked inside Mamon’s clutch . It was too afraid to even speak .
Mamon added more strength into his grip . “Don’t you know who I am?”
The soul became paler as it spoke in great fear . “L-Lord Mammon . The great Devil Prince, the sliest and evilest in all three worlds . All beings shall feel nauseous with your aura . All kings and gods shall evade your presence . When they feel your gaze, angels let loose a torrent of tears . With a mere raise of your hand, the ground will—”
“Enough . Enough . Stop that for now . Tell me where my servants are . ” Mamon didn’t want to waste time listening to people praise him even though he was the one who wrote the script for it, which was three pages long . All souls living in the Devil World were required to etch every single word of it onto their hearts .
“Yes . . . ” Lowly souls shared similar shapes and auras, so Mamon couldn’t tell the identity of the one he was conversing with . He only realized that its gender was female once she had calmed down and her voice became stable . “Everyone died, my Lord . ”
“What do you mean?!” Mamon unleashed more of his psychic power and demanded in a loud voice, “Explain!!”
“I’m sorry . I’m so sorry . I was wrong . I’m sorry, my Lord . ” The white soul quickly apologized despite being clueless about what mistake she had made .
Mamon sighed . Given the strength of her soul, her existence would come to an end if he pressured her too much . Thus, he lowered his voice as he asked her again, “Calm down . Can you please tell me what happened to them?”
The soul seemed to become speechless as she had never heard of any instances where the Devil Prince Mammon used the word ‘please . ’ Even his grip loosened . Still, she chose to answer his question with caution .
“Yes . . . After Lord Mammon, the great Devil Prince, the sliest and evilest in all three worlds . All beings shall feel—”
Mamon interrupted, “Drop the formalities . Just call me Mammon . I’m in a hurry . ”
“Y-Yes, yes . . . After Lord Mammon, the great Devil—” She stopped briefly, showing a stiff expression, before continuing, “After Lord Mammon disappeared during the siege of the lands of the Golems residing in the Sunless City, the devils suddenly became weaker without your lead . Without Lord Mammon who acted like a shelter, your enemies decided to join forces and slaughtered the devil race, eliminating all devils from the Monster Realm . ”
Mamon was filled with stress . It seemed his skill was forcefully canceled with him being sealed . It wasn’t that the devils suddenly became weak . Their strength simply returned to the state it was in before he shared with them the Hidden Gifts he had stolen from others .
“What about you? Who are you?”
“I’m a soul, my Lord . ”
Mamon shook his head . “I mean, who were you before you became a soul?”
“I don’t remember, my Lord . I only know that I have been a soul for thousands of years . ”
Mamon understood . It was natural for a soul staying in this place for so long to have a vague memory . Some even forgot their own names, so it wasn’t weird for her to forget her identity . Well, based on the fact that her appearance was a lowly soul, not a being in a soul form, it indicated that she wasn’t born in Hell . If her memory wasn’t hazy and it was true that she had lived for thousands of years, that would mean she was an ancient monster from the primal era . Looking back into the long battle-filled history of the Monster Realm, it was highly likely that her race had already gone extinct .
“What about your name?”
“Seraphine, my Lord . ”
“Do you remember the faces of those who killed my servants?”
The soul was paralyzed briefly . “I do . . . but not all of them, my Lord . ”
Mamon took a Soul Crystal out . “You will have to come with me, then . I will drag every single one of them to pay the price, at an interest rate of 2000% . ”
There was no way a lowly soul could have the strength to resist the Soul Crystal in Mamon’s hand . Her existence was absorbed into it, becoming a white dot lingering in a small orb . Mamon placed the orb within a glass jar and stored it in his pocket . He tried to inspect her but didn’t find any useful information .
Mamon went deeper into Hell . He went past the area with hot lava and scary-looking stalagmites .
After being split into two territories, Hell was separated into the Outer Hell and the Inner Hell . The Outer Hell was the Devil World—Mamon’s territory—while the Inner Hell was Lord Yama’s terrain . Mamon had never stepped past the fourth layer of Hell even once . However, today would be different . There was no way the Demon of Greed like him would return empty-handed . He intended to acquire a lot of souvenirs during this trip .
“When those Minotaurs died, they must have become souls and are trapped in the Inner Hell . Fortunately, I have secured a lot of Soul Crystals without that brat knowing . What I can do now is collect their souls . I will forge new bodies for them later with my elevated alchemy skill . ”
Hell consisted of nine layers, with the next inner layer being free to enter . Nobody would stop you from proceeding deeper . However, exiting the place was another story . Each part of the Inner Hell had a Hell Keeper who would allow no one to exit .
Mamon stopped his feet right in front of the border between the two sides of Hell . He brought many Soul Crystals out and utilized his power to trim them into spheres . He also injected his psychic power into them to modify their functions . Once his task was completed, they began to hover around him automatically .
“Let’s call them Fairy Spheres . ”
Mamon used to be a small animal, so he developed a habit of naming his inventions after small creatures, resulting in names such as Fish Tank, Spider Blade, Turtle Cage, and Frog Bomb . It was his own way of saying that even small creatures can be powerful .
Once he crossed the threshold into the Inner Hell, Mamon immediately felt the change . His previously erupting power vanished without a trace . An uneasy sensation began to creep into his mind and the feeling of fear latched onto his body like a plague . Mamon spared no second thoughts and activated Perfect Physique, Lucifer’s Hidden Gift, to regain his composure and stay in peak condition .
His small figure grew up into a man . His black hair was messy and two sharp horns protruded from his head . Mamon continued to unleash his psychic power outward to let his servants know of his arrival .
Unrelated souls quickly flew away, not wanting to be involved . They had lived in this place for a long time and had seen many instances of arrogant monsters daring to invade Hell, yet nobody could return—nobody except Lucifer .
Mamon slowly strode forward . As long as he didn’t turn back, no one would come out to obstruct his path . Hell always welcomed visitors .
A group of hundreds of Minotaurs, with their height taller than three meters, were waiting for him on their knees . They were aware that the owner of this sickening and repugnant psychic power could be none other than their prince—the one and only person who pioneered a bright future for the devil race, the prince from the kingdom with no king, the Demon of Greed Mammon . They bowed their heads in unison and made a speech with all their respect .
“We show respect to Lord Mammon, the great Devil Prince, the sliest and evilest in all three worlds . All beings shall feel nauseous with your aura . All kings and gods shall—”
“Enough . ” Mamon put a stop to their speech . Honestly speaking, he wanted to let them finish, as he felt like it had been forever since the last time he received words of deep respect from others . Many in the New World seemed to have forgotten that he was the sliest devil, the symbol of Greed . However, no matter how he had longed for praise, he was in a hurry . He had to return before Sila finished his business with the Sealed One .
“We always knew you would return one day, Your Highness,” the Minotaurs said simultaneously . With Mamon’s presence, their usual strength gradually returned to them even if they were still in soul forms . The minds and power of all Minotaurs were linked to one another . No one was superior and no one was inferior . They became an army with flawless unity and teamwork .
Mamon opened his mechanical chest, revealing a purple Soul Crystal at the position that was supposed to be his heart . “Get in here first . I will bring you out and find better and stronger bodies for you later . ”
With their minds linked to each other, no words were required . Hearing the order, all of the Minotaurs immediately complied as their souls flew into the Soul Crystal without them asking anything .
Mamon closed his chest . He then spent some time collecting a dozen stones in the Inner Hell before turning back .
“Whose shift will it be this time? Will it be the three-headed puppy? It has been a long time since I last saw it . I wonder how strong it has become . ”
For the record, Hell was the fairest place in the three worlds . Exiting this place alone meant there would be only a single Hell Keeper blocking . On the other hand, if one more person intended to exit the Inner Hell, exactly one more Hell Keeper would show up . Defeating them meant the invader could enter the next outer layer of Hell .
This time, Mamon came to the fifth layer of Hell without stepping foot into the sixth one . Theoretically, only one Hell Keeper would show up to prevent him from exiting .
Four flashes of light emerged, thwarting Mamon from going further . The lights soon transformed into four knights riding horses . They all had veils covering their faces . The first one had a bow in his hand, riding a white horse . The second one sat on a red horse, and in his hand was a sword . The third one held onto a set of scales, and rode upon a black horse . As for the last one, they sat on a skeletal horse, their scythe ready to be swung . Their eyes that looking through veils emitted an imposing aura .
“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse . ” Mamon whistled . He didn’t flinch even though his opponents were dangerous .
“You actually returned, Lord Mammon . We anticipated this day would come,” said one of the Four Horsemen .
Mamon checked the time . If he took too long, Sila might come back before him . “Stop talking nonsense . I never heard of a change of rules in Hell . I’m exiting alone . How can there be four of you?”
The Horseman who held the scales pointed at Mamon’s pocket . “Even after excluding the hundreds of your servants dwelling within the crystal in your chest, it can be said that she is worth three souls . She was the ancient monster who has lived since the beginning of the world . ”
Mamon took a glance at Seraphine’s soul in the Soul Crystal he kept within the jar . “I can’t tell whether you guys are telling the truth or spouting lies . Even if what you said is true, is such a single lowly soul enough for you to come out together? Could it be that you are intending to exploit the rules and gang up on me?”
“It’s actually you who is exploiting the rules by sealing those Minotaurs’ souls within your body, making us think that you are exiting this place alone . ”
Mamon grinned . “Heh . So we are both cheating, aren’t we?”
The last Horseman said in a calm manner, “You’re wrong, Your Highness . Death is always fair . We have never cheated . ”
Mamon stroked one of the Fairy Spheres hovering around him . He burst into a high-pitched laughter full of contempt . It was a given that he had prepared himself before stepping into the Inner Hell . Soul Crystals were hard to find in the Monster Realm, with the only ones found in small bits . On the other hand, they could be found in bulk in the New World . They were fraudulent items that had the property to contain souls . With them being in the hands of Mamon, who was an item specialist, both their value and power naturally shot up by leaps and bounds .
“Kiekkiekkiek . What a coincidence . I’m a fair person as well . Let’s fight fair and square to our heart’s content . ” Mamon declared with an evil grin, surrounded by his trademark murky psychic power .