To trace the origins of that monster, we must go back much, much further in time – more than a thousand years ago.
At that time, all of the continents were one.
It was a world of survival of the fittest, teeming with all sorts of monsters.
Among them were two exceptionally powerful monsters.
A dragon monster and a lion monster.
The two monsters competed over their territories and fought.
Their powers were evenly matched.
The dragon monster and the lion monster battled for three days and three nights, with no decisive outcome.
Both exhausted their strength and died, biting each other’s throats.
And there was a monster who benefited from their conflict:
A tiny, tiny slime.
That slime had just been born.
It was a thick pool of magical energy created during the fight between the two monsters.
It had spawned there naturally.
Of course it had no sense of self or power.
It had no intelligence or reason.
Therefore, the slime acted on pure instinct.
It was hungry.
Having just been born, it hadn’t eaten anything yet.
The slime was famished.
Conveniently, the corpses of the dead monsters were ready meals.
Acting on instinct, the slime ate the two monsters.
Luckily, there was no one to disturb it.
All the other monsters around had been killed in the fight between the two.
The slime continued eating its fill.
It finished off the two monsters.
When it finished eating, the slime thought this.
Yes, it “thought” this despite having no sense of self.
This was a change.
By devouring such powerful monsters, the slime elevated its own sense of being.
Magic power overflowed from inside its body.
It felt the sensation of gaining strength.
At this point, the slime gained a will.
Its body swelled up as it took on the power of the dragon and the lion.
The strengthened slime sought even greater prey.
From then on, the slime continued hunting, changing its form and moving between hunting grounds as it pleased.
Eating, eating, eating, eating – it just kept on eating.
Simply devouring, battling, devouring, battling over and over again.
Eventually, it realized it had become a very powerful existence.
Moreover, it had an inherent ability.
This accelerated its strength even further.
It could not die.
No matter how much damage its body took, no matter how badly it was crushed, it did not die.
It was a slime without that special “magic nucleus” that other slimes had.
Or rather, its whole body was a “magic nucleus.”
The inherent skill it possessed was called “Immortality.”
With this outrageous ability, as long as even a shred of its flesh remained, it could regenerate and return to its original form.
No matter how strong the opponent, no matter their numbers, if it did not die, eventually it could win.
The slime continued hunting, defeating, and devouring as it pleased.
At times it ate an enormous horse monster.
At times it ate a great eagle monster that flew through the sky.
At times it ate a deer monster said to be the lord of the forest.
At times it ate a snake monster that lurked in the sea.
At times it ate a pack of wolf monsters.
How long did it continue eating?
Before it realized, its form had changed.
Its body expanded endlessly, no longer retaining any trace of being a slime.
The tentacles it had extended from its body had at some point transformed into nine serpentine necks.
Each bore the characteristics of the monsters it had battled and devoured until now on its head.
Its once translucent, spherical body now had organs, skin, limbs, and bore the traits of all the monsters it had eaten.
It was no longer a slime, but a different creature entirely.
The slime had evolved.
From the weakest existence to the strongest.
At this point, the “slime,” or rather “he,” gained a unique sense of “self.”
Drawn to his great power, other monsters began gathering to him as well.
The first to submit to him was a black snake.
It challenged him while he was searching for prey as usual, and after its defeat, the black snake bowed its head and pledged its allegiance.
The more there were, the easier hunting became.
Hunting together with someone and eating the same prey was a refreshing feeling.
After that, the monsters following him only increased.
Monsters that were living swords, fire monsters, rock monsters, spider monsters, water monsters, dark monsters – all sorts gathered before him, admired him, revered him, and walked with him.
When he looked back, he saw he was surrounded by the monsters who followed him.
It didn’t feel bad.
Before long, he came to be called this:
The supreme ruler of monsters – the Emperor Beast.
It was the moment the undisputed monarch of the monsters living on the land was born.
At that time, there were two major powers on the continent.
One was the army of monsters he led.
The other was a human kingdom ruled by a human king.
That said, he had no interest in power struggles.
With his strength and increasing companions, all he wished for was the peace of himself and his kin.
Therefore, he spent tranquil days with his followers in a corner of the continent.
However, one day that peace was shattered.
Humans had invaded the land where he lived.
Naturally, this angered him.
At first he tried to drive them away with words.
This is our land, do not trespass.
We have no intention of interfering with you either, he said repeatedly.
But the humans would not listen no matter how many times he warned them.
To exterminate these pesky insects trampling arrogantly over their territory, he and his comrades rose up.
Humans were a troublesome race.
Individually weak, yet they grew strong when they gathered in numbers. There were so many of them, and they were tenacious.
On top of that, occasionally strangely powerful individuals would appear among them.
No matter how many times they were driven back, their numbers never diminished.
Left with no choice, he and his comrades marched into the center of the continent to eliminate them at the source.
There he witnessed something unbelievable.
Something gigantic falling from the sky, crushing the human kingdom, no, the entire continent.
An occurrence that was far too impossible.
Destruction that was far too extraordinary.
Amidst the chaos and destruction, he saw it.
An overwhelming presence.
Magic power that transcended all else.
What was there was a single dragon.
He could not take his eyes off that scene.
The continent was torn asunder, and the lands of humans and his kin were separated. He had obtained the peace he desired.
However, he could not forget the sight of that monster he had seen that day.
And then – he met them.
The meeting was sudden.
That day, three who suddenly appeared before them – or rather, more precisely, one creature and two people – introduced themselves as follower of the Stellar Vein.
He was challenged to a fight without understanding what was happening, and he was defeated.
『Man, you’re pretty strong huh? If it wasn’t me, I might’ve lost! But see, I’m super strong! ‘Cause I’m Big Sis’s little brother! So other than Big Sis, I don’t intend to lose to anyone, sorry about that. Right, Rias?』
『Yes, yes, I understand you have a sister complex, so please try to restrain yourself a bit more, Ouronus.』
『Ouch, that’s harsh. Don’t you think so, Joker?』
『Uh, I agree with senior Rias. Honestly, it’s kinda creepy— OW! Why am I the only one getting my cheeks pinched?!』
『Shut up! Take this! And this!』
…What exactly was going on here?
Lying sprawled out on the ground like a pile of rags, he thought about the current situation.
The more he considered it, the less he understood.
However, there was one definite thing.
That they were strong, and he had lost.
It was the first time in his life he had experienced defeat.
Even after using all his power, he had still been beaten.
The one he fought was a black-haired boy – the black dragon Ouronus alone – but to be frank, even in his eyes, the boy’s strength was abnormal.
His attacks possessed bizarre capabilities.
Attacks that seemed to erase his very existence.
Against his undying self, the black dragon boy unleashed attacks that seemed to shred his being.
As a result, he was badly battered.
He couldn’t even stand.
Looking around, Zahak, Anri, Spenta, Asha – everyone was battered and collapsed.
They weren’t dead.
He could have killed them if he wanted.
The fact that he intentionally did not only demonstrated the overwhelming difference in power between them.
He asked, what do you want?
The black-haired boy, Ouronus, clapped his hands.
『Oh right, that’s it! I got so caught up in the fight that I forgot why we came!』
Then he spread his arms theatrically.
『Emperor Beast Agil! How about joining us follower of the Stellar Vein? This is a big deal! I mean, a monster from the surface becoming follower of the Stellar Vein, that’s unprecedented! Never happened once in the long history of the Stellar Vein. You’d be the first! Of course, your followers can come too! No, I’d actually be happier if they did – it’d make our family more lively.』
『I’m from the surface too you know?』
『Rias is different. She’s my ‘special’ one, so she doesn’t count, no count.』
『There you go again, saying convenient things…』
『But she’s not as special as Big Sis of course.』
『Uh, Rias is making a really scary face. Is it just me, Joker?』
『You’re reaping what you sow. Seriously, this dragon is so dense…』
『What do you mean? Anyway, Agil! Become our comrade! It’ll definitely be fun! I could tell from our fight. I feel like we could become really good friends. Yamu and Mýrus would surely welcome you too! So what do you say, wanna join us?』
With that, he extended his hand.
After a brief hesitation, he took that hand.
It was the natural law of the world for the weak to follow the strong.
Moreover, by going with them, perhaps he would get to see that existence again.
The dragon that had mesmerized him.
That day, he became the first follower of the Stellar Vein from the surface.
And this was the first step toward ruin.
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