“You stupid human!”
Marakia was originally a very incendiary being. Though he had become a weak and small chick who was suppressed by Sungchul’s might, there was no way that his original terrible personality would disappear completely.
As soon as Sungchul had entered the cave, the first thing Marakia did was to drag Stew down to the surface and hang her from a tree upside down and torture her with his beaks.
“Punishment is the only cure for stupid primates!”
Marakia’s small but sharp beaks stabbed at Stew’s back. But it was only strong enough to be slightly stinging. However, Stew was crying out like she was dying each time he pecked her and struggled in her bonds.
Her beloved mount and friend, the Wyvern, wanted to help after seeing her writhe in pain. But Baron, who became friends with Marakia at some point, stood in the way to block him.
Of course Marakia and Baron were still barely acquaintances. But irritation at Stew’s stupidity was something Baron had in common with Marakia, so he participaed in Marakia’s torture.
The Wyvern became enraged by this and tried to rescue her. If this was in the air, he might have had a chance, but there was no way a Wyvern was going to overcome a Gryphon on the ground.
Baron used his lion’s front legs and the strength of his large frame to intercept the charging Wyvern without much effort.
“Kukuku… Consider yourself lucky! If it wasn’t for that stupidly strong human, all your organs would have already been in my stomach!”
As he was making threats he had no intentions on actually committing, Marakia suddenly became aware of gloomy presence from all directions.
There were a lot of humans next to the forest. But the number of humans that came out of the cave entrance he was guarding was zero.
‘Did they go out from a different exit?’
Next, the earth began to shake and sounds of the cave collapsing could be heard.
This was no earthquake. This tremble was caused by a man-made explosion.
Marakia realized that something serious was happening inside.
Marakia released Stew who was taught up in magic rope.
Stew got on her knees and bowed down deeply to beg for her life.
“Shut up, human! Did I every say I was going to kill you?”
Marakia smacked Stew on her head with his small wings before giving her a command.
“Something’s wrong. Go up there immediately and check what’s happening.”
Stew ran like she was escaping towards the Wyvern and hurriedly went up into the air. While the Wyvern’s roar traveled far and wide, Marakia looked around his vicinity nervously. It was subtle, but there was a hair-raisingly malicious magical energy hanging in the air. Marakia folded his wings and trembled.
“Something’s going to happen.”
In the airstrip close to the Tower of Recluse, airships sent by many different countries including the Empire were gathered for the benefit of their home countries. Each of those airships were the responsibility of that ship’s captain, but the highest rank individuals were the representatives that were inside the Tower of Recluse. Although this was a job with not much to do, they did have the authority to speak on behalf of their leaders, and the power to negotiate deals with other countries.
The timing of when mysterious men in black robes appeared before these representatives were not long after the explosion in the distance.
A similar mysterious person also appeared on the decks of the Airship of the Ancient Kingdom.
“I would like to first extend my apologies for appearing without warning.”
The Swordmasters which were the symbol of the Ancient Kingdom all drew their weapons, but the men in black robes did not seem at all intimidated. In fact, they gave an unrefusable demand packaged in a polite and respectful manner.
“We are the people from the Order of Extinction. We have come here for the good of our country, so we would be very grateful if we were allowed to meet with the person of authority.”
Though Order of Extinction was nothing more than a heretical sect, the events of the last few days, with the exception of the Empire, had given them a favorable impression with representatives of most countries. Especially since the one who humiliated the Empire that had become a public enemy upon the announcement of the third Calamity was none other than the Order itself.
And their cruel and one sided assassinations not only made it clear who was their main enemy, it also proved their skill.
Those facts were sufficient to make the captains of the airships think it would be better to bring the representative to talk rather than rub off the wrong way with them unnecessarily and spill blood.
It didn’t take long for the representatives to hastily put on their clothes and walk out onto the deck. Once they were there, the men from the Order of Extinction immediately stated their business.
“The Order of Extinction possesses a secret weapon that can defeat the Empire. Seeing is easier to believe than words. So, we would like you to personally witness it.”
Schnellmerker finished speaking and then examined the face of the representative of the Ancient Kingdom. He seemed both doubtful and convinced at the same time. If one had to be picked, he was leaning more towards distrust. But that assessment was about to change shortly.
‘Brigade Leader’s response was unexpected, but nothing has changed in the big picture. No, it might even be an opportunity.’
Schnellmerker waved his hand as he was thinking.The subordinates that were standing behind him immediately aimed and fired whistle arrows high into the sky. A long eagle-like sound spreaded out from above the Tower of Recluse.
The Hermits working in the vicinity of the tower and a few villagers from Toporo looked up at the sky as they heard the unusual noise. There didn’t appear to be any noticeable change in the sky. Instead, the Ominous sign was happening on the ground.
Hundreds of black robed followers of the Order of Extinction were swarming towards the Toporo village like a tidal wave.
In front of the town was the airstrip where the Airships of various nations were moored. But the Knights of other countries did nothing to impede the followers. It was because there were already individuals from the Order of Extinction on their decks. All of them, except one. The one from the Human Empire.
“The Order of Extinction has appeared?”
The Imperial Colonel looked down at the flood of followers of the Order of Extinction and received a great shock.
‘There were so many heretics in hiding.’
The members of the Order of Extinction were passing by countless guards unopposed and only slain those from the Human Empire before going beyond the airstrip towards the Toporo village.
Colonel Brev immediately ordered his second in command to send flag signals to airships of allied nations to relay this information. But there was no activity on the decks of the allied Airships, nor did it look like they were going to move. As a seasoned veteran of Airship, he realized immediately that none of the other Airships were going to join in on the fight.
‘These sons of bitches. Are all of their contractual duties with the World Parliament already discarded into a cesspool?’
Though he was overcome with great rage, it was no time to be leisurely basking in anger.
Brev immediately issued a command.
“Ready the Magic Salvo! We shall attack those wicked heretics from the sky!”
It was at that moment that a sentry raised the alarm loudly from above.
“Port side, multiple unidentified Airships inbound!”
Brev immediately turned to look. There, he saw three Airships taking off from the shadow of the snow capped mountains. Among those, the last Airship to rise in the air had a flag that even Brev could recognize.
It belonged to the sponsor of the Order of Extinction; Count Schnellmerker’s family insignia.
“All hands on deck!”
The Airships from the Order of Extinction were the first to unleash their Magic Salvo.
The projectiles launched from open mouthed canons exploded once it neared the Human Empire’s Airship, spraying shrapnel that tore everything to pieces. The Imperial Airship’s portside sustained heavy damage, raining debris and people down below.
“What has happened outside?”
The news of the ambush reached the Tower of Recluse much later.
“What are those dispatched knights doing?”
The Hermits watched the Airship battle unfold above them as they muttered.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
The village bell rang loudly. The Order of Extinction army charged through the nearly empty town center in a blink of an eye. They soon appeared before the bridge to the Tower of Recluse.
“Everyone evacuate into the tower!”
Hermits pushed each other to get to the tower and closed the gate behind them.
“P…Please let me in, esteemed Hermits!”
A slave slacking off outside realized too late what was going on and knocked on the door, but the door to the Tower remained shut.
The higher ranked Hermits watched everything unfolding outside through a narrow window. A black robed mob began to cross the bridge in groups. Their movements as they crossed the bridge was extraordinary. Each of them were elite warriors, as swift as a tiger, as well as mages.
Porypirius eventually received the news, so he made his way to the very top of the tower to watch the mobs of Order of Extinction followers approach the tower.
“Mmm. How did this…”
The only faction fighting the Order of Extinction in a battle was the Human Empire. The Airships from other nations did nothing, even as the tower was in danger.
Only a year ago, this would have been unimaginable, but the fracture of the World parliament became reality.
Though the Airship of the Empire fought their lonely battle, they would not last very long. But even so, Porypirius was not too worried. It was because of a being known as the most powerful Hermit was on his side.
Half Dragon Half human Kha’nes.
She walked up to Porypyrius looking annoyed as she scratched her head.
“What? Order of Extinction? They dared to show themselves here?”
There were not many in the world that was capable of defeating her in the present era. Only a few among even the Thirteen Champions of the Continent could possibly beat her. This was what it meant to be a formidable warrior of strength that transcended common sense.
Kha’nes glared down at the densely packed enemies at the foot of the tower as if seeing a bug.
“Now what should I do?”
She stretched as she asked Porpyrius. Porpyrius was cautious as usual.
“Let’s at least listen to what they have to say.”
Porpyrius’s eyes were darting quickly around as he spoke. He possessed Eyes of Omniscience that was close to the power of Sungchul’s Soul Contract Eyes of Truth, and he quickly scanned each and every member of the mob for their ability status.
‘There’s no exceptionally strong one among them from what I can see.’
There were few warriors who reached the level of Transcendent interspersed among them that looked a bit worrying, but no one was close to being able to threaten Kha’nes. But there was no guarantee that Order of Extinction didn’t have more people than the ones currently at the tower, so Porypyrius decided to observe the situation with vigilance.
Soon, a young woman from the Order of Extinction walked forward away from the group towards the tower. The slave trapped outside the gate became terrified and ran around to the back of the tower.
“Holy Hermit Porpyrius.”
She looked up at Porpyrius at the top of the tower and yelled with a clear voice. Porpyrius answered with an indifferent attitude.
“What business do you have here?”
To this, the mysterious woman grinned as she answered.
“We have come to burn the book of the false god.”
The Tower of Recluse was created to house and protect the Scroll of Calamity. The Scroll of Calamity came first before the tower. Burning the Scroll of Calamity was no different than denying the existence of the Tower of Recluse itself.
“Should I wipe them out?”
Kha’nes looked bored as she turned her neck this way and that. She was likely finding it difficult to tolerate the ridiculous demands from an unsightly mob of people that couldn’t even survive one punch of hers. Porypyrius was bothered by a vague nagging feeling but, at the very least, no one in the Order of Extinction’s side had anyone to seriously challenge Kha’nes at the moment. He thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to demonstrate the magnificence of the Tower of Recluse through the display of Kha’nes’s power to the newly created heretical cult.
“Go, Kha’nes. Go and show them the power of a dragon.”
Kha’nes gave Porypyrius a brilliant smile before throwing herself over the edge. Though she was a in a form of a slim woman when she began falling, she was fully transformed into a form of dragon by the time she reached the ground.
“Who should I eat first?”
The large dragon that finally revealed its true form spoke with a voice like thunder as she glared at the black robed group surrounding the tower.
The members of the Order of Extinction did not seem all that fazed by Kha’nes’s overwhelmingly grand opening. Just as Kha’nes was starting to become uncomfortable, the woman at the front pulled something out.
It was a deeply black material. The Fragment of Calamity.
The woman lifted the Fragment of Calamity high up in the air and recited an incantation in an unrecognizable language. The dozens of others who stood behind her immediately sat down and crossed their legs into lotus position and simultaneously began to recite the strange chant in unison. An inexplicable and sinister energy began to spread in the air around the tower.
“It won’t work!”
Kha’nes opened her mouth towards the direction of those defiling the Tower of Recluse with their profane utterances. A breath of fire hot enough to be used in a forge enveloped all the members of Order of Extinction. The powerful breath scorched not only the Order of Extinction, but even a few of the houses of the village on the other side of the lake. It caused powerful waves to spread across the quiet lake.
Far away in the airstrip, Schnellmerker turned to speak softly to the representative of the Ancient Kingdom who was shocked by what he had witnessed.
“Please watch closely, esteemed members of the Ancient Kingdom. Our show begins here.”
The dark smoke lingering in the aftermath of the devastation caused by the breath slowly dissipated. Kha’nes flexed her claws as she watched the area she had incinerated. Of course, expecting to see nothing but ashes before her.
But the wind soon revealed to her that she was wrong.
The black robed woman was still there, in the wake of where her flames had been. Not a hair on her body was singed in the slightest.
‘What is this?’
The stunned Kha’nes soon witnessed an even more unbelievable sight.
Not just the woman in the front, everyone else reciting the spell was also unharmed by the breath.
The most surprised person was Porypyrius.
‘What, how did those with such mediocre…’
The robed woman suddenly began to burn, but the flames did not belong to Kha’nes. It was a strange fire with flames as white as snow. The bodies of other members of the Order of Extinction also combusted with the same mysterious flames.
The woman enveloped by flames shouted with great joy in her voice.
“Manifest yourself through me, o’ Todhou the Enlightened One!”
The air in the area began to become distorted in the midst of the large scale incantation that was steadily rising in intensity.
In the same moment in time.
Sungchul was trapped in a cavern deep underground.
“Why is it that anyone that you know always turns out to be insane?”
Of course it also meant he was stuck listening to Bertelgia’s criticisms.
“It is the world that caused them to go mad.”
Sungchul lightly tapped the collapsed boulders with Fal Garaz. It was thoroughly blocked without any gaps. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t pass through.
Sungchul took out a cloth to cover his nose and mouth and prepared to swing Fal Garaz.
“It’s going to get a little loud.”
The terrifyingly merciless digging began the instant he finished speaking. He needed to do at least this much in order to reduce the amount of nagging from Bertelgia he had to listen to.
[Um, B… Mr Bird, sir!]
She couldn’t come up with any better honorific to use, but Stew couldn’t avoid reporting to her new superior. If she were to do a poor job with reporting her findings, then she could be hung upside down to be pecked with sharp beaks.
“What do you see, human?”
Luckily, it seemed as though the little bird did not mind the honorific. Stew gave a sigh of relief inside as she continued her report.
[There is a battle going on. It looks like the Airship ‘Glory’ I’m from is under attack by other Airships!]
Stew did not seem all that bothered, considering she was relaying the shocking news of an Airship of the organization she was a part of being under attack. And no wonder. She had to endure all sorts of abuse for being such a troublemaker on Glory.
‘I hope the ship crashes! Ah… is that too harsh? Then I hope at least a few of the people that tormented me will die.’
She held onto her unsavory desire as she waited for next instructions from the Communication Stone.
“Is that so?”
Stew saw something the moment she heard the little tyrant’s voice.
Stew’s iris shrunk rapidly and an extremely loud scream escaped her lips.
“Why are you suddenly screaming, human? Do you want your back pecked again?”
Marakia asked irritably..
[Th…that’s not… Mr Bird! It’s a dragon! A dragon has appeared!]
Marakia had been aware of a foreboding magical energy hanging in the air. Of course, the magical energy emitted by a dragon was as strong as a hurricane and therefore very intimidating. But the energy Marakia had detected was fundamentally different in nature. What he was feeling was some sticky, ominous negative energy. If he had to compare it to something he had experienced, then it occurred to him that this was similar to the energy he had felt back in Ixion. It was very similar to the forboding feeling right before the Lesser God manifested itself.
‘I was right, something bad is about to happen.’
Though he felt reluctant to do so, he hopped on top of Baron and pecked the back of his neck with the beak. The giant body twitched when the beak touched the back of the neck, then Baron looked back at him with enraged eyes.
“Oy, domesticated animal. Give me a ride real quick. I know it’s strange to ask for a ride when I have my own beak and wings, but my wings have not grown enough and there seems to be something serious going on over there.”
Baron could not reply but looked like he understood everything that was said. And because of it, he forgave the offense of having been pecked in the neck and began to flap his wings. Marakia held on to the rather large reins with his tiny little hands as he waited for Baron to get up into the air. Baron soon brought them up into the sky and Marakia could finally see the things that were obscured by the canopy of trees.
The most obvious thing that caught his attention was dragon Kha’nes’s gigantic and intimidating form that rivaled the height of the tower behind her.
‘That insolent woman. So she was of a powerful dragon lineage. Impressive that even a half dragon is capable of reaching such height.’
Marakia pulled on the reins to indicate Baron to fly more to the side so he could see the things going on around the vicinity of the dragon.
Avian race of Nahak boasted eyesight superior to humans several dozen times over. They had the ability to see objects located very far out into the distance. Those eyes allowed Marakia to discover the group of black robed people arrayed near the dragon. Marakia couldn’t quite believe his eyes.
‘Is that it? The source of the unclean energy?’
Marakia saw the followers of the Order of Extinction standing right in front of the dragon as they burned in white flames. He observed that the other followers who were seated with their legs crossed and reciting the same foreboding incantations together were generating the ominous energy that fed the white flames of the burning woman. Marakia instantly recognized what they were doing.
‘Wait. Are they trying to manifest a Lesser God through that woman?’
He had never personally seen it before, but he had heard several stories from the viceroy. A few of the primitive races fighting against the Nahak race had summoned Lesser Gods as a last resort to resist the Nahak invasion.
It was standard practice for Nahak to stop the attack and retreat from the area immediately once a Lesser God had been detected. Not only were they insurmountable, the Nahak were fully aware of the price of having brought Lesser God into the world.
The Lesser Gods were beings that shouldn’t exist in the world by their very nature. There was nothing that could anchor these beings onto the world indefinitely. So the Nahak chose to escape from the area and wait when facing a Lesser God. The shortest they had to wait was a few minutes, and lengthy ones could last hours. Although it was possible to anchor a Lesser God onto the world for quite a while if one were to use Vestiare’s method of having the Lesser God directly enter the world through the sacrifice of an enormous number of people as the price, the primitive tribes facing the Nahak race lacked manpower, resources, and knowledge necessary do something similar.
They used an extremely primitive and barbaric method to bring Lesser God into the world. And that was to use an incantation called ‘Lesser God Ascension’, where the summoners themselves were sacrificed as vessels to serve as anchors.
The white flames, that burned not the body but the soul, were the definitive proof.
‘Lesser God Ascension… I can’t believe such a clumsy spell survived to the present day.’
The vessels of the Lesser God were burned like a candle until they were completely gone. The white flames were fire that completely consumed the caster’s being itself.
“Todhau the Enlightened one…! Use my body as your vessel!”
The woman from the Order of Extinction rose into the air, the sinister energy surrounding her entire body.
Kha’nes felt the ominous power and let out another breath attack, but her mighty attack was once again blocked by the strange energy surrounding the woman. A familiar voice could be heard from atop the Tower of Recluse.
“Kha’nes! It’s dangerous! Back off and retreat!”
It was Porpyrius. He was watching the status of the woman rise explosively into astronomical levels with his Eyes of Omniscience.
‘This is impossible. This status… it does not belong to a mortal…!’
And his grim prediction became reality.