A figure emerged from above the woman burning in white flames surrounded by ill boding energy. For those watching, it was a form that compelled both fear and helplessness to a level they had never experienced before. Kha’nes finally realized what was going on after seeing a gigantic black figure that rivaled her in height.
‘That’s Lesser God…?’
A memory of the far distant past of an ancient story she heard from one of her acquaintances crossed her mind. Of tales of tribes of primitive humans in primordial times using a method that sacrificed their own lives to manifest Lesser Gods into the world.
This forbidden spell that had been suppressed after the Humans began to worship proper divinity was thought to be completely eradicated. But against all odds, it was somehow passed down and preserved even to this day.
The black figure pulled something out. It was a very long scroll. It was a scroll of magic. That black figure opened the gigantic scroll and shouted something in an indecipherable voice. Large tornados began to form around it and sweep across the land close by. Kha’nes’s eyes grew wide.
‘That’s Mega Cyclone. With such a short incantation, it cast two spells on the 7th circle of magic at once.’
Even a dragon was not safe if they were to be enveloped by those winds. Even one was difficult to deal with, but if one were to be stuck between two of those tornados, then they will quite literally be torn apart down the middle.
‘Getting hit by that… death…!’
The tornado pulled everything towards itself towards the spinning axis of destruction. It’s power was truely overwhelming.
The slave abandoned outside of the Tower of Recluse was sucked into the whirling winds of the Mega Cyclone despite having been hiding on the far side, and was seen flying around the inside of the tornados before disappearing.
Kha’nes ducked and backed away. She grabbed onto the ground with all four sets of her claws and retreated while crawling away. It was faster to move with her wings, but flying in this situation was nothing short of suicide. Luckily, the mass of her body helped stop her from being pulled into the winds of the tornado.
The two tornados slowly moved towards Kha’nes while displaying their overwhelming power, but there was still a bit of distance before it could effectively affect Kha’nes. But the black figure containing the power of the Lesser God put the half dragon through another ordeal.
The shouts that would seem natural from an unhinged madman emanated across the land. Thick storm clouds rapidly formed like ink spreading across the surface of water above the Tower of Recluse, from which rumbling thunder danced in the clouds menacingly. The clouds were so dark and dense that it looked like the world suddenly plunged into the night.
The Hermits watching the battle from the tower were left aghast at the seemingly boundless magical capabilities of the terrifying black figure.
Something happened the moment the black figure brought its arm down with a shout. The clouds covering the sky so close to the ground gave a foreboding rumble before a hail of thunder began to rain down upon the earth. It was a literal thunder storm.
The thunder with the absence of rain burnt and destroyed everything in its vicinity.
Kha’nes immediately deployed a defensive spell to protect herself, but the seemingly endless barrage of the thunder quickly overwhelmed the shield and there was a moment between the cast of the defensive spell where she couldn’t stop a single bolt of lightning from slipping through and making a direct hit upon her body.
Kha’nes was being forced to make a choice as she was experiencing the electricity travel the length of her body.
‘My body is too large to be able to protect it using defensive magic.’
Give up the dragon form and resume the human form to avoid the thunder storm and make herself vulnerable to the tornado, or remain as she was and continue taking hits from the thunder to avoid being sucked into the tornado.
Neither were optimistic choices. She glared at the black figure standing afar like some sort of calamity. The human that floated in the core of the black figure was still burning in white flames.
‘That’s impossible. How is a normal human being able to withstand such a state and still be fine?’
Kha’nes looked around to find an answer to her question and the rows of members of the Order of Extinction seated behind the black figure caught her eyes. Something was different about them. Kha’nes soon found the reason.
There were fewer of them. There were originally fifty or so in the group, but they were down to about forty now. After another thunder hit Kha’nes, she was able to witness it clearly, the sight of one of the chanting followers suddenly disappearing into white smoke which then was absorbed by the woman burning in white flames.
‘It’s being sustained by the power of human sacrifices?’
It was a late realization. The thunder continued to hammer away at her defensive magic formations and the tornado was inching ever closer towards her.
Kha’nes was able to experience why the Lesser Gods were beings that were not permitted to exist in the world. Their powers were comparable to those of the gods.
It was beyond the capabilities of an ordinary mortal to stop them. This was why God did not allow immortals to remain in the world, and created a separate world for the immortals to live in instead.
But this realization did not change the ticking of time towards the moment of Kha’nes’s fate. She only had about a minute. If she doesn’t act, then she was going to be killed by the tornado or the thunder.
Even now, one of the thunder made contact with her shield and dispersed across its surface. The thunder was far more threatening. Kha’nes made up her mind and returned to the human form.
As expected, Kha’nes experienced a terrifyingly powerful pull towards the tornado the moment she returned to her human form. The mighty winds of the tornado was forcing the now-light body of Kha’nes into itself.
Kha’nes had intended to resist the strong winds with the assistance of magic, but it wasn’t going as she planned. She started to panic. Then she caught sight of the grey robed slave that had already been pulled into the tornado earlier, floating around like a leaf within the columns of wind.
‘That’s what’s going to happen to me…?’
As despair spread to the farthest reaches of her being, something fell from the sky and slammed onto the ground. It was a black thunder.
The black figure that had been mumbling strange sounds immediately turned around to see. The black thunder had landed squarely on top of the group of praying cultists. Five or so followers were dead on the ground, limbs spread out like a frog.
They were instantly killed by the unexpected attack and weren’t able to respond.
Schnellmerker was watching from the airship and tilted his head when he saw this.
‘What? Did he already escape? More importantly, what is that spell? I’ve never seen this magic before…!’
It was unavoidable, because the black thunder was not summoned from a human spell, but from a spell of an entirely different and powerful race.
“Heh… I’ve done it now.”
There was a lone Gryphon in the sky far away. Marakia who was seated on it was holding onto a long staff more than five times taller than his body as he looked down onto the ground.
“Not only pardoning the insolent dragon, but having the magnanimity to take it under the wing to protect. If this act does not demonstrate the qualifications to become king, then what will?”
The next moment, the black figure turned to face Marakia’s direction.
Marakia’s beak became firmly shut. It was then that something hidden under his fluffy feather began to glow.
[Excuse me, Mr. Bird, Mr. Bird!]
The communication stone began to broadcast at an inopportune moment.
In the next moment, a storm of countless thunder rained down upon the location of Baron and Marakia.
Marakia grabbed onto Baron’s reins and deployed a defensive spell that covered the whole body.
Unlike before with Kha’nes, these bolts of lightening were concentrated and aimed specifically at Baron and Marakia.
They had enraged the being.
“Ooo. Can’t you fly any faster? You’re such an embarrassment to all winged creatures!”
Marakia complained without end, but he was efficiently and effectively using the defensive spells to stop every thunder going their way.
Patiently waiting until the defensive shield reached its limit and casting a new defensive spell automatically like a machine at the moment the previous spell broke was easier said than done. Though he was Mr. Bird now, Marakia had once been the king of the final age. And like a king, he was doing his work meticulously without a mistake. He had no choice but to do this, because unlike with Kha’nes, a single hit would reduce him to cooked chicken in an instant.
“Get out of this area as fast as you can! If we reach the edge of the clouds, then that monster won’t be able to do anything to us any longer!”
Baron understood what was said and began to flap his wings as hard as he could to reach the edge of the storm.
Luckily, making some distance reduced the strength and frequency of the thunder, which meant he didn’t have to pour as much attention into his defense.
[Excuse me, Mr. Bird. Mr. Bird? Mmm? Maybe he can’t hear me? Is he ignoring me? I don’t think stew did anything wrong to Mr. Bird though!]
Thanks to it, he could finally listen to Stew who was speaking through the Communication Stone unceasingly.
“Oy, Human. I’m going to bend you over and see your back later.”
Marakia who was strong without equal against someone weaker added emotions into his words to Stew to send her a threatening message through the Communication Stone.
Before Marakia was about to drain the remaining mana out of the Communication Stone to turn it off, he heard Stew’s desperate and nearly hysterical voice.
[He’s come out!]
[Um… To be exact, he’s in the process of getting out. He’s smacking up the stone. I can feel the tremors from all the way over here!]
“Tell him to get over here immediately! Something big is going on out here!”
Marakia shouted angrily as he urged Baron on with the reins to escape the field of battle.
The edge of the storm was finally within Marakia’s view.
‘Are we safe?’
Not a moment later, Baron’s body was shaken violently. If it were any other situation, Marakia would have yelled at Baron, but it was different this time. He also felt it, the cause of Baron’s shaking. The air was unstable.
‘Could it be?!’
Something was rising up towards them. Dust, leaves, snow and earth. Everything.
“Lifestock! Dodge to the side!”
Marakia shouted as he pulled Baron’s reins to one side and leaned away.
Marakia felt all the blood on his body be pulled in one direction as he held onto the reins and looked down at the ground.
There was another column of tornado beginning to form down below. The tornado strong enough to pull everything and rip it to shreds had materialized right below them.
‘He deployed such a spell across such a distance?’
Marakia was an exceptionally gifted mage, but the abilities of that Lesser God holding a scroll was far greater than what Marakia had imagined. Of course, this was not the time to be leisurely analyzing the Lesser God’s powers.
“Fly like your wings will fall off!”
Marakia ducked as he held on to urge Baron to go faster. Baron, too, understood that being sucked into that tornado was a death sentence, so he flapped his wings as hard as he could. But Baron’s wings were only recently healed. His flapping started to become dull and slow. He was starting to feel immense pain in the area where the bone had been forcefully broken and reattached.
“Stay strong, livestock!”
Marakia flapped his small wings as well to try and help, but the two of them were being sucked into the tornado more and more. That when Marakia finally regretted his decision.
‘Damn it. All this because I wanted to appear benevolent!’
He had been confident in himself, and his actions did yield an important information. It was possible to attack from long range and inflict damage if the followers of the Order of Extinction were caught off guard.
But the might of the Lesser God exceeded his wildest imaginations. Even now, a tornado that had been cast far outside the expected spell range was pulling him towards death’s gate.
“Descend, livestock! Let’s try and hold onto a tree and survive!”
But Baron couldn’t descend. Descending would require Baron to stop flapping his wings, but they were going to be devoured by the tornado the moment Baron stopped resisting the winds.
Marakia felt his breathing becoming difficult and knew he was very close to death.
‘Damn it! I am the King of the final age… I cannot die in this manner!’
He saw something pass in front of him. It only took an instant.
‘What was it?’
Marakia looked behind.
There was a mighty blow so powerful that the planet itself might have been shaken from its orbit. A literal world shattering strike.
The mountains and the fields trembled from its shockwave, and far away snow capped mountains experienced mass avalanche as the snow was knocked loose. Marakia’s eyes opened wide in surprise.
There was only one man he knew capable of dealing such a miraculous attack.
‘Is it him?!’
Sungchul had arrived.
He was standing alone at the site of the impact where his attack had blown away the seemingly unstoppable tornados that had been wreaking havoc. The snow and countless other debris that had been trapped by the tornado was falling down like rain.
[Mr Bird! I brought the man!]
Marakia’s Communication Stone lit up and puked out Stew’s carefree voice. Stew and her Wyvern mount were orbiting above Marakia before he noticed. It was as if they were appealing the fact that Sungchul was able to arrive at the scene so quickly thanks to the Wyvern’s great speed.
“I already know! Prepare your back!”
Marakia angrily replied through the Communication Stone before looking at the man who had erased the tornados. The man lifted his head to look in Marakia and Baron’s direction.
“Are you unharmed?”
Marakia nodded vigorously and flapped his wings. Once Baron landed on the ground, Sungchul asked Marakia about the current situation.
“What is going on?”
His eyes were not nearly as good as Marakia’s. Marakia relayed only the most important points of the scene he had witnessed.
“You’re better than that woman.”
Sungchul understood what was going on right away.
“So the Order of Extinction brought a Lesser God into the world. How is Kha’nes?”
“That I’ll have to check.”
Marakia answered and then used magic to fly up into the air so that he could examine the vicinity of the Tower of Recluse. Luckily, it seemed as though Kha’nes was able to escape thanks to Marakia’s surprise attack.
“That Dragon. Her ability to escape is exceptional.”
Sungchul felt relieved that his acquaintance was safe. He hoisted up Fal Garaz. Marakia looked at the weapon as he asked his question.
“Are you planning to go fight?”
“Do I have any other options?”
To this, Marakia put his small adorable hands upon Sungchul’s shoulder and shook his head.
“There’s no need to right. Lesser God Ascension’s duration is incredibly short. It’s not the same as when the Lesser God itself came to the world in Ixion.”
“Lesser God Ascension?”
To Sungchul’s question, Marakia summoned a screen and then projected the images of the Order of Extinction that he had seen up close.
The scene of the believers burning in white flames was at the center of the image.
“In Ixion, they had sacrificed a great number of people to bring the Lesser God itself into the land, but what they are doing here is simply offering themselves as sacrifice to borrow the Lesser God’s power. It’s basically a way to become a medium for a possession by the Lesser God. That’s the nature of Lesser God Ascension.”
“A medium you say…?”
“If that white flame finishes burning, the Lesser God as well as that human will cease to exist. And that flame cannot be sustained indefinitely.”
In other words, there was no need to fight. It was the most efficient and the simplest choice. Sungchul understood Marakia’s explanation and put away the Fal Garaz.
Bertelgia must have been tired of Sungchul facing off against powerful enemies, because she extended a rare word of compliment to Marakia. Marakia smirked and replied arrogantly.
“The uncivilized and savage humans were originally beings that had ties with evil gods. The worship of evil gods is something of a trait commonly found among lower barbaric species.”
Either way, it was still true that there was nothing to be done despite the speed at which they had come in haste. Sungchul listened to Marakia’s suggestion to watch the situation through the magic screen while they were still hidden in the forest.
There was no reason for him to rush anyway. Kha’nes had already escaped and the only thing in front of the Order of Extinction was the Tower of Recluse itself. The Tower of Recluse was a structure built through divine power. At least, that was what Sungchul was told, and he had seen with his own eyes that the Tower of Recluse was made of extraordinary power.
‘There’s no way a tower constructed with the power of God would crumble to the power of just a Lesser God.’
Sungchul who himself had god-like strength chose to sneak in rather than try and force his way in.
The Tower of Recluse was probably safe. It would not be toppled by a mere Lesser God. Of course, it still didn’t save anyone inside the tower from terror.
Sungchul relaxed and watched the scene through the screen. As Marakia had said, the white flames seemed to require human lives. The people who were covered in flames looked frail and ready to collapse. The only problem was that the Order of Extinction had figured out a way to extend the short duration of the Lesser God Ascension. The group of people seated behind the woman were consumed one by one by the white flames and vanished as if absorbed.
‘I guess they’re serving as a type of battery?’
Whether it was true or not, it was a hair raising sight to see. The concept of using humans as a battery was horrible enough, but what sickened Sungchul the most was the believers who willingly accepted death to serve as batteries.
‘What pushed them to want this?’
To the rest of the world, Sungchul was supposedly considered the Order of Extinction’s target of worship. But Sungchul had never seen anyone wearing those black robes ever showing any sign of respect towards him. It was likely that they had someone else who they worshipped in the background. The true icon hidden behind the shadow of Sungchul.
The Lesser God, sustained by the sacrifice of the fanatical zealots, continuously attacked the Tower of Recluse without rest. The two tornados from Mega Cyclone was pounding away at the tower and completely destroyed the area. And as Sungchul had predicted, the Tower of Recluse remained unharmed despite the devastating magic thrown at it.
“Hmm. It’s like watching a monkey that saw a coconut for the first time.”
Bertelgia expressed her brief evaluation.
“And on a strict time limit too.”
Marakia added on to Bertelgia’s statement.
Sungchul, however, silently watched the screen with his arms crossed.
‘I guess that means time is on our side.’
Time is a wonderful ally to have.
Being able to win without having to do anything meant that it forces enemies to overextend and commit to risky moves.
Back in the rebellion days, there were a few sieges among the countless battles. The shortest were for a month or two, with longer ones lasting months on end. The current situation was nothing in comparison to those sieges. This one would end in mere hours. This was confirmed by the fact that the followers of the Order of Extinction were steadily decreasing in numbers at regular intervals. Thanks to Marakia’s surprise attack with the black thunder that wiped out a third of them, the maximum time the Lesser God Ascension could be sustained had decreased substantially.
After about an hour, the number of the followers finally fell below ten. Throughout that time, the Order of Extinction continued their futile attacks against the Tower of Recluse.
The black figure armed itself with a trident and stabbed away at the tower.
Each of its strike were strong enough to shake the earth, but it wasn’t enough to damage the Tower of Recluse or leave any marks.
“You have to give them credit for their perseverance.”
Bertelgia said with great reluctance. Sungchul felt the same, but on the other hand, he also fet perplexed.
‘Schellmerker. Is this all he could do?’
The former second in command Sungchul knew was a man who would make meticulous and impeccable plans. He particularly disliked a plan that hinged on a chance. He often said that any plan that relies on even a single variable wasn’t a plan, and was no better than a gambler’s bet.
‘He’s a man who would prepare for contingencies even with a plan with 99% chance of success.’
Even in the case of his attempt at Sungchul’s recruitment, he had prepared secondary plans in case it didn’t go as planned. Meeting Sungchul in a maze-like cave was probably one of his contingencies he had prepared ahead of time. But that wasn’t enough for Sungchul’s understanding of the man. The attack they were committing to at the moment was an ineffective waste of their resources. This plan was a failure.
Sungchul was thinking, when something finally happened.
The figure of the Lesser God grabbed a hold of its trident with two hands and brought it down upon the tower with all of its strength.
A dull thud no different than any previous strikes rang out, along with the inevitable prediction that nothing was going to happen. But something unexpected happened soon.
A part of the Tower of Recluse formed a crack.
“Kasha! Ur! Jenka!”
The figure of the Lesser God saw this and gave out a triumphant roar. It was a shout composed of pure joy.
Sungchul couldn’t believe his eyes.
‘Tower of Recluse, made by God’s power… was broken by a mere Lesser God?’
Something that couldn’t and shouldn’t happen has just happened.
Fal Garaz made an appearance.
10 days to audiobook release!