Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Towards the end of Starfall Year 833, the thick dark clouds that hung on the overcast skies over Moldova were brushed away by the violent winds coming from the extreme north. As it slowly diffused under the shining sun, the snowstorm that lasted for one whole month finally ended.
At Mount Mordus, northwest of the domain, many adventurers came out of their tents and stared at the blue yonder. Streaks of golden thread stabbed out from the cracks between the cloud layers one after the other, falling above the earth and marking the white snow with golden stripes.
The snowstorm has ended.
Such was the thought that flashed across everyone’s mind. Thus, they turnedadventurers, scholars, mages and Moldova knights aliketo look towards the rather plain summit.
At the moment, there were eight whole factions and more than fifteen Gold-tier champions beneath Mount Mordus. Amongst them, Moldovia’s Prefectural Government, the Skypiercing White Tower Mages’ Expedition Team, the Imperial Royal Ancient Ruins Inspection Group as well as the Council of Seven’s Discovery squad were the official factions. The rest were several large mercenary bands and adventurer guilds that possessed Gold-tier champions.
The eight factions had kept each other in check to ensure that they would be the first ones to explore the ruins. If not for the accumulated snow that blocked the cavern entrance as well as the stormy weather that impedes excavation, one of the factions would probably have slipped within and conduct their own exploration.
But now the snow had stopped, and the agreement between the different factions would soon end. They would soon start digging together and discover that mysterious ancient ruins in Mount Mordus.
Brandon Kaos and his lady Vale Dani Scarlet stood above the watchtower within the Scarlet Family camp. The blond swordsman’s right hand was pressed on the hilt of his treasured sword by his hip, his eyes filled with worry. Beside him, the purple-haired mage was caressing the sapphire on the staff in her hand, her heart encumbered with anxiety too.
The pair glanced at each other, holding each other’s hands as they stood by the edge of the watchtower, staring at the other factions gathered not far away.
Beneath the mountain, robust figures were hurrying towards their direction from afar and assembling under the flag of their camp. Soon, there were over a hundred people from the various groups gathered here.
Eight factions, a hundred and twenty-nine individuals and seventeen Gold-tier champions. Such a powerful force would be enough to a standard military platoon. If everyone let loose and started to fight, it would not be difficult to flatten Mount Mordus and the Dark Forest that surrounds it. A moment of carelessness, too, might prove threatening to the town areas around Moldova.
Brandon was also aware that if not for his and Vale Dani’s Gold-tier abilities, along with the Empire’s forces that kept the adventurers and mercenaries on their toes, there would already have been a large armed confrontation between all factions for the right to dig first. Things would even further unlikely than they were now, as everyone prepared to work together for the excavation.
Still, these trivialities were not what maintained the worried frown over their faces.
It was the Cult of Pestilence.
According to the ranger’s scouting reports from across the domain, Brandon and Vale Dani knew that there were at least two cultist elite cells with Gold-tier champions currently hiding amidst the Great Ajax Mountains.
Earlier, one of the cells had vanished entirely as if they had left Moldova, but the remaining team was a considerable force. If they seized the chance to attack towns and villages after the couple left the main city for Mount Mordus, they would definitely cause severe damage.
Two mere elite cultist cells had already left the husband and wife exhausted, not to mention the existence that was far more terrifying than the cult members.
Herlas the Witherer.The very thought of the name made Brandon let out a long sigh.
The most powerful individual of the Cult of Pestilence’s current generation, the high priest just one step away from Legendary and a man who appeared during Brandon’s father’s generation. Before Brandon was even born, Herlas had already gained a reputation in the West Mountains that struck fear in the hearts of men. Now, he had arrived at the Northern Realms and was striding towards Mount Mordus.
Compared to him, the dangerous characters here and two elite cult groups were tame little lambs.
“Dearest, is there still no word from Master Nostradamus?” The weary Vale Dani asked with a soft voice beside him. “The North alone could never hold against a Supreme-tier cult priest.”
“No.” The blond swordsman tightened his grip over his lady’s hand as he shook his head gravely.
That, naturally, was a lie.
Compared to his wife who had been in the North throughout her life, Brandon, an imperial noble would definitely be more well-informed. He had already contacted his own family with a magical telegram, but the news he got in return was grim.
Nostradamus was now within the Void Star-Observatory that was located at the outer reaches of this world, a secret place used to investigate flowing objects in different dimensions or other worlds. Even Brandon’s own clearance level could never get him further information, for it was an undebatable fact that the elderly mage was currently separated from the world. Nostradamus himself would be unable to return even if Brandon got the observatory’s employees to notify him about the current situation.
Even the Sovereign of the EmpireIsrael Diamond was not at the Imperial Capital. In fact, there had been no word from most Legendary champions the last few days and not just the Northern Empire itself. Rumor has it that Pope Igor of the Seven Gods Church had called for a Legendary-class forum, with every famed Legendary champion in this world being invited to discuss a huge issue.
Apart from that, the other few Supreme champions such as army commanders seemed to be preoccupied too. Every single one of themwithout any exemptionswere in the Dark Forest or other dangerous regions, carrying out large-scale winter season culling.
Even if the blond swordsman was as stupid as a pig, he would be able to guess that this was a surging period for the Dark Tide after having acquired so much information. Something big was happening, and Brandon’s lightning fast thoughts could grasp a little of what it was through some information he had exchanged with Nostradamus and Joshua.
As such, he knew that backup would not be able to make it in time when the Cult of Pestilence came for their necks. All he could do was wait as long as possible by delaying them. Brandon’s heart sunk further at that very thought, but he had none he could confide this matter ineven telling Vale Dani the bad news would not help.
Instead, it would cause a panic. Brandon, who was very well-acquainted with his lady’s personality, knew that she would rather die than to abandon her subjects. If Herlas did come, she would never run and fight to the death for her land.
At that thought, Brandon lifted his right hand that had been clasping his sword hilt, studying the lines on his palm.
He was already Perfect Gold.
The blond swordsman was silent. There was no other person clearer on how close he was to Supreme.
He had dabbled on the three masteries of skill, strength, and soul, even if he was much more acclimated to Skill Mastery himself. Brandon had long been soaking in the tier of Gold, often getting frequent guidance from Legendary champions. He naturally understood that if he was willing to calm his heart and set a path of understanding, he would just a few minutes to break the barrier of Supreme and reach the threshold of extraordinary.
If Brandon did so, he would definitely be able to grab the others and flee even if he could not beat Herlas.
Still, with such shaky foundations to his ascension that did not fulfill all preconditions, his later ascensions towards Legendary would be greatly hampered.
Brandon turned to stare at his own lady. Vale Dani was tiredly rubbing her eyes. Although the sorceress did not appear aged thanks to her powers, the labor of the last few months began to form irremediable wrinkles over the corners of her eyes.
The blond swordsman held the sorceress’s hand tightly. He watched her as she turned towards him doubtfully, but with that exchange of a glance, Brandon knew that he no longer had anything to hesitate over.
In their most dire moment, he would not hesitate to ascend into Supreme and flee with Vale Dani in tow.
But just as Brandon made his decision, a blinding red light appeared within the northwestern reaches of the Great Ajax’s mountain range. It was both sun and flame, rising to the sky and carrying scorching airflow and penetrating the gloomy northern clouds like an incomparably sharp sword.
In the very next moment, a streak of terrifying life radiation that made humans feel anxious and fear closed its distance, sweeping across ten snow mountains as it approached Mount Mordus.
None of the people around the encampment could reactapart from Brandon. He widened his eyes and stared at the familiar life radiation as it swept through the foot of mountain, before extending even further into the distance.
Then, the blond swordsman’s eyes were filled with shock.
When on earth did he arrive?!
Because of his familiarity with his friend, Brandon easily identified the owner of the lifeforce which had seemed tyrannical and ignorant towards all.
It was certainly the Liege of Modavia, Joshua van Radcliffe. As for why he would be here, the blond warrior could come up with the answer with just the hundredth of a second thanks to his swift brainwork.
Herlas the Witherer! Only a Perfect Supreme-tier champion could get that combat-thirsty friend of his to leave his domain and get him to use such a tremendous tracking method!
Now, not just Brandon, the other seven factions beneath the mountain were in an uproar too after sensing that shockingly majestic life radiation. Everyone instantly pulled out their weapons and anxiously guarded against their surroundings. They still could not single out the source of the radiation, believing that there was some horrendous daemon sneaking a peek at them.
And right then, at a part of the Dark Forest close to Mount Mordus, a team of people who wore black or gray robes was also caught by the horror.
When Randall, the priest of the Cult of Pestilence was swept through by the life radiation, he sensed his heart being pinched by an invisible hand. Extreme terror rendered the gray-robed priest temporarily speechless and breathless, unable to respire even as his lungs drummed.
He only managed to recover his spirit after quite some timethe cult members around him were far worse off. They peeked at their surroundings nervously, wailing shrilly with words that nobody understood, as if that would get the person who unleashed the life radiation to show himself, allowing them some form of comfort.
Randall had to calm his group despite the lingering fear in him. He scolded the more agitated few, before moving on to soothe every single one of them. After that was done, the gray priest took a deep breath.
“That might be some special detection skill of Moldavia,” he said with a sinking voice. “One way or the other, we have been found out by the factions under Mount Mordus. The plans to lie low are now moot, it’s time for a full-charge!”
Then, Randall’s voice turned to one of fervor. “Obey the will of the Merciful Father, offer Him the blood of the infidels!”
“Merciful Father above! Blood for Offering!”
“The Light of Life protects us, all things return to the bosom of the Merciful Father!”
The many cultists roared in reply, their expression fanatical as they tore apart their own clothing. In an instant, their bodies started to expand, each one of them turning into three-meter tall monsters.
With muffled sounds, small gaps opened over the body of those expanded cultists. Fresh blood and muscle streamed out as jointed tentacles resembling that of arthropods stretched out and cut into the ground. The ballooned bodies then utterly exploded, revealing a bizarre shell that had a myriad of colors as more than ten slimy tentacles waved around, spraying highly corrosive mucus.
In no time at all, the tens of cultists had all become gigantic spider aberrations over three meters tall, with human heads adorned at their cranium and tightly shielded by a translucent armor.
Blasphemous Spider-Demon, a human reconstruction secret technique of the Cult of Pestilence. This malevolent remolding grants incomparable power when needed, while the terrible spider-demon itself is a carrier of incurable toxic and diseases, possessing a sturdy shell that easily withstands blades. The weaker ones were already armed with Silver-pinnacle ability, while the stronger ones could hold against Gold-tier opponentsunquestionably, they were meat -grinders when placed on the battlefield.
Still, only the finest cultists had the chance to be reconstructed as a Pestilence daemon. After they changed, their rationality would gradually vanish and could only be regained if they returned to human form. Somehow, these spider-demons were not movingthey obediently stayed where they were and stared in front of them at Randall.
The priest was transforming tooafter a cold grunt, the gray-robed priest body bloated hurriedly too. Two tentacles that looked unbreakable punched out from his eye sockets, before fusing to form a huge horn akin to a beetle’s.
Another human reconstruction secret technique, Abyssal Giant Armor.
Noises that resembled cracking bones and rubbing steel rang incessantly. In a flash, the creature that was half-insect half-human, covered in augmented chitin shells and possessing muscles that were about to burst raised its skull, its mandibles crying out in a sharp insect sound.
The spider-demons responded with their own fluctuating sound. Soon, these horrific demons that seemed to have come from the otherworldly Abyss raised their appendages and dashed towards Mount Mordus.
The observers who stood at the perimeter around Mount Mordus quickly noticed the monsters that seemed to have no intent for concealment. The crowd who had been uptight after the life radiation thus found an outlet immediately, and made the utmost preparations before facing them head-on.
“It’s those Cult of Pestilence zealots!”
Brandon and Vale Dani naturally noticed the monsters in the distance. The purple-haired mage furrowed her brow, stood by the edge of the watchtower and used a spell to amplify her voice as she called out to the people in the camp.
“Listen up! Prepare for battle!”
On the other hand, the blond swordsman appeared distracted, his gaze remained latched to the distant horizon. Through his spiritual sense, Brandon could tell that at a distance of tens of miles away, a crimson star that resembled a sun was unleashing endless amounts of life radiation, breaking through the atmosphere rapidly as it flew towards the banks of Magel’s Unfrozen River.
There, a black vortex of utter darkness stood, seemingly capable of consuming and obliterating everything.
Meanwhile, at the banks of the Magel’s Unfrozen River.
Here, the snowstorm was yet to pass. The suffocating and compact snow plummeted from above as if spilled over by a deity, covering the plains and forests with layers upon layers of ice and frost.
However, the sky above the southwestern riverbank remained clear for miles. The crimsons star broke through the air at speeds ten times above supersonic velocity, arriving over the river bank. The sharp whistle, coupled with rolling thunder and impact waves spread across all directions, easily breaking away half the cloud layers of this sky.
In that very second, the sky was distinctly divided in two. Half of it was sunny, bright red and scorching, with two sunsone above and one belowunleashing unstoppable radiance that blazed.
The other was completely silent, all colors and sounds being swallowed by some existence, leaving a cold emptiness and desolated grayness.
In the sky, the man with black hair and red eyes looked below upon the earth.
On the earth, the man with dark-green hair looked up towards the sky.