Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Cataclysm Year 27, the 11th of July, nighttime.
Guetard, the city of psionics and former capital of the Ulan Empire, northwest of the continent.
On the boundless sky above all things, the warm blue moon was illuminating the silent land in the company of dazzling light from countless stars.
There were no plants here. Above the gray-brown stony highlands, there were only endless black Death Shades with their scarlet but lifeless gaze, wandering around the huge boulders within the Guetard highlands.
Between the thin vapor that was everywhere, there were many Death Shades flying visibly in the air. They appeared to be powerful and strong-willed, leading the Death Shades on the ground that had no will to speak of in a certain order, circling and patrolling the center of the highland where a majestic city stood, concealed by the fog.
Chilling winds were billowing with a roar from other parts of the world across the Guetard Highlandsthe hostile cold and gravel it carried a suffocating and deathly miasma, soon growing into a hellish sandstorm that even Heavenly champions would frown at. Through it all, the city of Guetard that should have turned into debris in that earthquake which almost tore the continent apart some thirty-years ago stood aloft, unscathed in that sandstorm.
There was no hint of light within the dark citadel. Through the weak starlight and the dim moon, cluster of dark silhouettes squirmed within the houses that appeared to be in perfect condition, calling out in what could be sorrowful wails or spiteful curses. The position of the housesor to be precise, the entire townhad been changed in its entirety. Now, they appear to be a part of some tremendous formation, fortifying seven obelisks that had been raised during an unknown point in time.
Over the seven obelisks built with obsidian and some extraordinary metal, a purple-black energy radiance flashed, with layers of complicated runes that seem to be imbued with endless mysteries flashing beside the energy circuits. They were placed at the center of town, absorbing all energies adrift in the entire Guetard Highlands and supplying it to an unknown existence.
Suddenly, the cold and dismal sound of an air current resounded in the darkness. Deep within the lightless town, a streak of dim-silver ray suddenly flashed, breaking through the violent sandstorm outside of the city, covering almost ten kilometers within a single second and arrived at the obelisk in the heart of the city.
The one who came was a swordsman. His entire body was shrouded in a gray vapor that obscured his face, but it could not hide the plain longsword that hung over his waist. There was lightning flashing over its scabbard, emitting the scent of unparalleled danger.
As the swordsman stood upon the obelisk carved with a huge number ‘3’, purple-black energies surged ferociously into his body, restoring energies that he recently expended. Apart from that, the swordsman had no other movement. He merely stood, waiting in silence.
Soon, however, incessant reverberations echoed through the air as oddities happened one after the other.
A dimensional doorway opened, and a mage whose chest was adorned with a Jewel Seed that flashed with a blinding red light stepped through. Seven crystal balls of different colors floated around his body, and he soon reached obelisk marked with a huge number ‘2’.
A warrior, carrying a dragon-slaying greatsword over his back and wore a heavy set of armor decorated with a ferocious dragon head, stepped across empty air and came to the obelisk marked with ‘4’.
As a cluster of shadows cascaded, a wispy human-shaped fog appeared. It had an imperceptible appearance and such weak presence it would be completely missed if one did not pay attention to itcondensed over the top of the obelisk marked with ‘5’ at some point.
A hooded spellcaster in robes soon approached, riding an Ender Dragon, as well as a skeleton archer who held a crude black steel longbow, arrived above the obelisk marked with ‘6’ and ‘7’ respectively.
The last to arrive was a knight.
This knight neither displayed any unusual ability nor concealed his own face. He was an elderly rider who had ordinary facial features and long gray hair, riding a withered and skinny warhorse just like himself and stumbling step by step through the dark streets covered in fog.
Where he passed, the wailing and cursing from the shades within the houses stopped immediately and turned into prayers, seeking release from unbearable agony. The knight then stared at the shades with a gaze with a compassionate and kind radiance, before finally shaking his head while the shades sighed in disappointment.
The knight took a long time to move past the stretching stone path and arriving at the circle of the obelisk. As the six other indefinitely powerful existences looked on, he led his horse and stepped over empty air, arriving at the top of the obelisk marked with ‘1’.
None of them showed a hint of dissatisfaction, while the heavily armored warrior who ranked at four as well as the skeleton archer who ranked at seven bowed to him reverently.
Then, without a word of nonsense, the warrior spoke with an unexpectedly thick and mighty voice that did not fit his image towards the other beings around him. “I’ve gathered everyone here,” he said, “because there is something important that must be discussed with each of you present here. But before that, we need to compile our recently gathered intelligence.”
“At the edge of the Autumn Waters Forest, located in the Misia Plains within the borders of former Gelug Empire, a Divine-domain poweror perhaps one that virtually surpasses the pinnacle of Divine-domain had split apart the dimensions, allowing the descent of a powerful existence from another world.”
“The preparations for our plan are almost completeall that is left is removing any obstacles and execute it. Therefore, the champion from another world had arrived at the worst timing. Now, everything unexpected has to be removed.”
With those words, the ancient knight turned to a swordsman who was ranked third.
“I’ve already got the swordsmen to dispatch his subordinate and investigate the situation. Is there any result?”
“No,” the swordsman replied thinly, his arms folded before his chest. “My subordinate hasn’t repliedbut he is Loze the Shadeshifter, I believe he would acquire information that would satisfy us.”
“Then we shall put that matter aside first.” The knight nodded, and turned toward the crystal mage ranked at second. “Has anything come of the pursuit after the dragon-blood girl who carries what’s suspected to be the mystical ‘Saint of Origin Robe’?”
“No, my lord.” The spellcaster replied, leaning his back over slightlyhis voice stiff like a machine as if it was synthesized. Around him, the seven crystal balls floated sprightly in the air, forming runes and circles, one after the other.
“The power of the mystical Saint of Origin Robe possesses power that escapes my imagination. Its last explosion had leveled an entire army of Death Shades, and though I’ve sent my three giant crystal puppets after her, the Dark Creek King obstructed them.”
“So the Dark Creek King is sheltering her? Well, that it certainly can’t be helped.” The knight said, a sense of nostalgia flashing through his eyes as if he fully understood their opponent’s ability.
“You people might not really understand its true power. Recall your puppets and don’t clash with it for the time beingwe need to focus our strength for other more important matters.”
Afterward, the knight inquired about the latest information every other being accordingly. None showed a hint of disgruntlement and replied truthfully.
After the skeleton archer had reported the most recent happenings with a voice synthesized from magic, the knight nodded slightly and said calmly, “Very good. Everything is still going according to plan.”
“The issue I’ve gathered everyone here is that I’ve successfully restored the method in which the Ulan Empire summoned and ‘controlled’ Heroic Spirits,” he then said straightforwardly. “Furthermore, there have been certain improvements tailored to our conditions.”
At his words, the seven powerful beings smiled coldly and disdainfully. Even the completely unemotional swordsman’s shrug his shoulders for a bit.
They were not mocking the old knight, but the Ulan Empire.
If not for that prideful empirewhose insatiable greed fueled their intent and drove them to reverse the taboo between living and dead, just so that they could forcibly bring the heroic spirits that had gathered countless faithful hearts under their control, would they have reappeared upon this land?
“Grandia is a world without gods.” The spellcaster who was riding Ender Dragon laughed softly; his voice that rang from under his hood was surprisingly youthful.
“It’s completely different from the other worlds I visited beforeall their faith is centered around their ancestors and heroes. If they want to control me they would have to fight against the entire world, and the will of all humans.”
The heavily armored warrior, too, sneered with a low and obscure voice. “Hubris.”
As if already expecting their opinions early on, the old knight simply waited until the sarcasm stopped before speaking again.
“After the method had been restored, our next target is the southwest regionthe ‘Tomb of the Saints’, staunchly guarded by the four largest human resistance factions.”
Then, the knight’s voice seemed to turn illusory. “Bygone heroes and wisemen, our old friends, even ‘us’ are all buried in that place.”
Suddenly, the vague fog human silhouette over the fifth obelisk spoke with a soft voice that nobody heard clearly.
However, after the old knight heard his words, he replied distinctly.
“Yes, we do not have the power to mount an assault up front. The remaining human resistance factions are quite stubbornif we want the plan to complete smoothly, we must not use up too much of our own strength.”
“That is why we must first wipe out the other resistance sprinkled around the continent, ‘converting’ those scattered beings into our own force.”
As the old warrior spoke, he lightly touched the lance that hung at one of the flanks of his warhorsethere was no mirth traceable in his voice. “Then, we’ll cut off their source for intelligence, food, and water, seize protocrystal ores and contaminate their water sources.”
The soulfire within the eye sockets of the skeleton archer flashed as the being that was ranked at seventh clenched its longbow. The heavily armored warrior too could not help gripping the hilt of his greatsword with emotion, appearing immeasurably expectant.
Though the other powerful beings did not move, their expressions unfathomable, their presence was rather different from the bored one they bore a while ago.
A thick fog swirled over the sky above the Geutard highlands. Lightning zigzagged toward the land, entering the sandstorm and turning into flames that gleamed infrequently within the dust.
Pale-white radiance illuminated the city that had long become a dark ghost-town, as if dawn finally arrived in this land that had been consumed by the abyss.
“This is war,” the old knight said as the lightning illuminated him, his tone carrying the sentimentality and anticipation of something that came at long last.
“After twenty-seven years, the final battle begins.”