Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
The black shroud of the Chest of Erebus proved greatly resistant against spellsa fact already proven at the underground ruins of the Orc Palace. As it spread beneath the surface, most of the mages could do nothing to stop its movements. There were just a few spells they could use to hold it within a white crystal box that quarantines all negative energies.
Where did that bizarre anti-magic force come from?It was a mystery that the second research team of the Imperial Royal Mage Guild had been investigating since they received permission to examine the chest.
However, they yielded no results after months. All they found out was that Sacred Light and positive energies had the purification power to hold back the spread of the black shroudand weaken it to some extent.
And all of them were ignorant of the fact that the black shroud was ‘enraged’ whenever it was exposed to those powers.
How could a shroud get angry? It was a rather extraordinary truth.
Starfall Year 833, early summer.
It was late in the night at the Imperial City. On the Avenue of Truth, the black shroud swarmed furiously as if boiling and alive, the layers of gloom wafting towards Robzek’s position.
The waves held such pressure that its force could pulverize the whole street. The sharp ring of atmosphere tearing echoed above Imperial City, jolting most of its citizens awake.
Robzek squinted. The holy knight’s body and spirit were in tip-top condition after years of long battles and meditation. As the shroud simmers he prepared against the attack. Standing against the waves that come at supersonic speeds, the Supreme-tier holy knight took a step forward solemnly, raised his left hand where sacred bolts whirled in his palm.
A silvery semi-circle screen of light quickly spread with him at its center by his crisp command, shrouding the knight and the streets behind him.
[Holy Word: Barrier]
The dark ripples were repelled instantly by the scorching illumination and scattered; its violent surge was dispersed across every direction, turning roads and houses into huge craters. Meanwhile, runes also appeared as a hexagon grid upon the screen of light, making it appear indestructible.
“Tell the city guards to evacuate the area! This is not a place for them to hang about!” An old mage yelled within the screen, ordering the peasants who were still lingering to retreat. “Lock down the three zones closest to this location, and notify Nostradamus as well as His Majesty!”
If those two were here, the black shroud would be vanquished regardless of how mysterious it was.
The other mages did not hesitate after hearing those orders. They quickly got the citizens to safety and notified Nostradamus through spells. The white-haired mage saw that and his expression relaxed slightly, although a sense of foreboding lingered within him.
Like the demonic sacrifice incident, the Chest of Erebus was a result of a critical error. The former had caused several high-ranking city guards to be demoted or transferred to sinecure posts. This case, caused by a mistake on part of the mages’ guild had far serious consequencemeaning that the punishment would be far more severe too. Several group leaders may be sacked, and the budget for the guild would also be shredded.
The white-haired mage was not worried about this; he did not fear any reprisals since he was not a member of Group Two and their fault was not his. Instead, the reason his foreboding sensation had remained was due to the eerie but divine singing voice that rang out from the black shroud just now.
It was no real sound but a reverberation within his mind. He should definitely stay vigilant against such a sound that penetrated the will barrier of a Perfect Gold mage and appeared in his mind.
As if catching up to his thoughts, a slight but distinct song wafted from the shroud. Robzek and the old mage widened their eyes as both of them felt a sinister but untraceable threat.
“What sound was”
Before he could finish, the holy knightwho was still holding the Holy Word Barrierblanked out. He could hear a curious whisper from afar. Intermittent and fragmented, it was both a complaint and a praise. The song was supposed to be the lyrics of a holy hymn but it did not offer a single hint of comfort; it was twisted, unsettling and repulsive.
And because of that, an opening began to surface on the orbiting Sacred Light, cracking a minuscule fissure within the silver-white shield. The black shroud which had been held back charged and streamed brutally into the hole. Robzek and the white-haired mage was swallowed at once without resistance, as if turned into stone.
“Group leader Moore!”
The other mages and the knights of the church who had come as backup cried out in shock. Vera, the young mage who had called for Nostradamus with a magic circle of communication, watched in fear as the black shroud calmed after eating the pair.
The white-haired mage known as Moore was the leader of the Third Research Division and Vera’s instructor. The black shroud from Erebus’s Chest may be bizarre but it still should not have been able to defeat a Perfect Gold-tier mage so easily.
Standing beside them, the church’s knights were even more stunned. Robzek was stronger than Moore and was a Supreme-tier holy knight. His occupation meant that his resistance was a notch above that of any mage who was at the same level as he was, which made it even more inconceivable that both he and the mage were consumed by the shroud at once without fighting back.
Even the Grand Army of Monsters in the Plaguelands would struggle to do that.
Rushed footsteps could be heard from the other direction as the citizens in the vicinity escaped hurriedly. Thousands of Imperial City civilians that been violently woken from their sleep, as the mages used spells to half-force everyone to leave their houses and distance themselves from the shroud.
Under the protection of several church knights, a beautiful platinum-blonde woman whose gaze was concealed behind a black eye mask entered the Avenue of Truth. Her presence helped the clergy regain their spirit and lose their confusion after seeing Robzek being eaten alive, and the knights quickly gathered beside her.
“Sister Saya!” A knight who had witnessed the battle bowed before the nun known as Saya and gave a brisk report. “Lord Robzek had fought against the black shroud but unexpectedly failed; he was consumed and missing in action!”
“I know.” Saya nodded and replied calmly with a soft yet graceful voice. “Lockdown the scene and stop the gloom from spreading Robzek is fine, his life’s flame is still stable and burning.”
“Yes, Sister!” A few knights sped to the edge of the shroud at her command.
The Avenue of Truth was soon cleared of citizens; all that was left were the cratered streets, empty residences, and the black shroud. The knights quickly combined and summoned circles of holy spells around it. While it was not entirely effective, they could still keep it at bay for a while and they would do it as long as they could.
At the same time, Saya turned silently towards the black shroud. Her eyes did not seem to be hampered by her eye mask as she watched the now-peaceful gloom with a slightly shifting expression.
“This is not a mundane existence What is it that lies inside the Chest of Erebus”
Dimensions rippled, and this was the scene that greeted Joshua and Nostradamus as they approached the Imperial Mage Guild.
A great yet mysterious ozone of darkness occupied half of the urban zone. It spread over an area of hundreds of meters and was as thick as the taller buildings. Though it looked like it could be blown away with a single breath, it was the condensation of bottomless dark energy.
It was even more surprising that both the warrior and the old mage could not sense any obvious negative energy.
More than ten knights from the Church and several mages from the guild had set up blockades around the shroud. They were also forming magic circles and barriers, prepared to keep the gloom within the zone.
“It’s quite big.” Joshua nodded and frowned. He could not help but admit that it was much larger than he imagined. “I thought that however large it could get it would only be able to swallow a few houses. Archmage Nostradamus, this is not merely a lab accident anymore.”
It’s a lab disaster!
“… Embarrassing! Where’s Husk?” Nostradamus stared blankly for a while. He was familiar with the streets surrounding the guild, and he could tell that the black shroud was consumed it in its entirety. To have an outsider like Joshua witness such devastation, Nostradamus could feel that he was losing face as the leader of the guild, and instantly roared in fury.
“Did that old bag of bones blow things up so magnificently only to just up and vanish? Humiliating, he needs to leave the guild as fast his legs could carry him! And where’s Moore? He should be at the guild at this hour, but there’s not a single soul in sight! Leaving such a monumental mess to me, what purpose do any of you serve!”
A younger mage who was drawing a magic circle heard the ruckus behind him and turned to look; he was so surprised that he dropped his staff, but he ignored it and quickly ran to Nostradamus.
Nostradamus’s expression turned for the better after seeing the youth. “Vera, what is happening?” The elderly mage asked gravely. “It wasn’t spreading on such a scale according to your report! And where’s Moore, your instructor?”
“My lord! I do not know either!” Although the young mage appeared slightly nervous and confused, his report was still coherent. “I had been conducting tests with my instructor and suddenly there was a huge sound of a crystal shattering at Laboratory 2. The instructor thought something wasn’t right he stopped the test and told me to take a look, and”
“The shroud was spreading.” Nostradamus cut him short as he turned to glance at the gloom again, squinting at it with a rather scary expression. “That fellow Husk must have defied lab protocols. Well his time limit was approachingif he still couldn’t produce results his reputation would definitely have taken a plunge That short-sighted fool!”
“Continue.” He nodded lightly, telling Vera to finish his report.
“Yes, my lord!” Gulping, the young mage then narrated everything else. He explained how Moore stopped the other mages who were still conducting experiments and told them to evacuate, and then led several others to stop the spreading shroud. The shroud, however, had anti-magic elements that limited the effects of spells. As things turned for the worse, Robzek, the leader of the Church’s diplomatic corps arrived and helped Moore controlled the shroud for a while.
It was here that Vera’s expression became puzzled. “Robzek had indeed suppressed the shroud since the holy knight’s abilities proved effective against it. But the shroud suddenly exploded violently and struck the two of themthey didn’t fight back as if they were turned to stone, and were consumed by it!”
His last description was rather hazy and carried obvious self-doubt. He even thought that he was imagining things, but both Joshua and Nostradamus easily understood. It. Supreme-tier holy knight and a mage who was almost at the same level to be defeated by a mysterious black shroud was something unimaginable for the common folk after all.
And without resisting, too.
This thing is quite formidable.
Joshua nodded after thinking for a while, and turned towards the rather tranquil shroud. That thing’s ability did ring a bell in his mind, but it did not really resemble the ability of any shroud monsters. Those monsters were strong, but they were not at this level.
The warrior seemed to notice something after just one glance, and his expression turned grim against that bottomless black. Meanwhile, Nostradamus and Vera were still discussing the case beside him.
After ascertaining several details, the archmage sighed deeply. “A shroud with life Looks like we’re wrong. The chest of Erebus was not carrying ancient holy offerings. Instead, it’s something like a box that carries the life of a lich, ferrying parts of ancient evil existences that were sacrificed.”
Nostradamus paused, before issuing a determined command. “It has caused severe destruction and has already harmed the division leaders of the second and third research group as well as Robzek, leader of the Church’s diplomatic corps. Destroy it if need be.”
A soft voice rang behind the elderly mage. “They’re not deadwhether it’s Robzek or the few mages you’ve mentioned. The flames of their lives are still raging even though shrouded.”
With a cluster of knights around her, a platinum-blonde woman slowly walked towards Joshua and Nostradamus. She wore an eye mask but her face pinpointed their positions accurately.
“The shroud may be mysterious and severely corrosive, but it has no way of killing those champions. We could save them if we act quickly.”
“the Great Nun of the Second Regiment of Battle Monks, Saya of Glaydon Abbey.” Nostradamus acknowledged her curtlyit was hardly the time for manners. “Commander Robzek of the Church’s diplomatic corps is in the dark shroud,” he said, cutting to the heart of the matter. “Your expression, however, does not seem too troubled.”
He paused, frowned, and changed his question. “In other words, your people have a solution against the current situation?” He asked solemnly.
Saya nodded. As she prepared to say something she promptly turned beside the archmage.
Or to be precise, she was turning her attention towards