Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
An inconspicuous carriage was leaving the wastelands and heading northwest. In it, a girl whose back has grown dragon wings was slumbering in exhaustion.
Countless sights flashed in front of her eyes in her dreams. Her five senses became distanced and illusory, and as she soaked in the fluctuating sense of being adrift, Hillya could fell that she was returning to the past.
Her calm, peaceful and carefree childhood.
The girl was born in ancient mountains to the east of the Grandia Continent, and lived an ordinary life in seclusion with her parentsa half-blooded dragon descendant and an elf of the plains.
There were many races in the Grandia Continent. Be it kobolds, gnolls, saurok or the rarer Avian people, each race had their countries and factions. Though most of them were vassal states to the two great empires, the races that appear grotesque to humans such as gnolls, kobolds and a few others were discriminated. Even so, they were far better off than the most unwelcome dragonkin.
Giant dragons were the most hated species in this world, with the all-out-war between the Central Empire and the Dragon Island that caused innumerable deaths amongst innumerable races being one of the many reasons. More importantly, these dragons were completely different from the other dragons that came in different shapes and sizes albeit maintaining a slight kinship. The dragons in Grandia had actually came from another world and was of another origina genuine alien race.
That was why most of the surviving true dragons and dragonkin could not be spotted walking round in the continent, and could only live in seclusion deep within the mountainsjust like Hillya’s parents.
Nonetheless, both parents possessed considerable abilities. Her dragonkin warrior father and her spellcaster mother could easily enter the ancient mountain forest that was usually inaccessible to most people as if it was a garden. With their protection, the young girl could wander the forest as she liked, developing a strong body and affinity for nature.
In the old forest wrapped in thick fog and vapor, even the most experienced hikers would occasionally find themselves lost. On the other hand, it felt right at home for Hillya with her elven bloodline. She would go on adventures in the thicket, interact with beasts, and speak to the slow but friendly trees, flowers and creepers.
Soon, ten years had passed and Hillya now had a younger brother and a younger sister. The family of five could no longer stay within the mountainsin order to make life easy, they disguised their draconic features with a secret spell and moved to live at a border town in the Gelug Empire.
Unlike the mountains, living amongst humans was far more interestingwhether it was the many different peoples or the varieties of objects they created.
To Hillya who could only meet tree and earth while eating fruits and flesh of beasts, the prosperous human city was her new playground. Every day, she would stare at the many different adventurers who held great hope and dreams as they entered the forests where she once lived. Listening to them laugh as they spoke of the ravishing sights around the world, her heart too developed a desire for adventure.
Hillya had prepared a lotshe learned the ways of the sword and bow from her parents, mana sensory and the law, how to observe beyond the expression of others so that she could determine the gist of their thoughts.
Day after day of cultural learning and training was definitely cumbersome, but she bit down and endured it for her dreams, for she looked forward to the day she could walk further and see the bigger world, freeing the curious heart and intrepid desire that burned within her.
She was filled with hope and expectations for her future life in this world.
That was why she could not fathom how things turned out this way.
On the 4th of July in Year 617 of the unified calendar, a smug Hillya had been prepared to bid her parents farewell early next morning as she prepared to leave the warm little city in search of adventure around the world.
That was also when the endless spirits the undead awakened from their distant slumber, wailing in rage as they attacked the living.
Countless violent beasts, humans and undead spirits revived from within the deathly fog. With scarlet eyes and zero intelligence that stared only at everything living around them, they tore everything alive apart, venting a rage of an unknown source.
Why did this happen?
Citizens sleeping soundlybe it stalwart strongmen or newborn infants were sliced by these monsters without compassion into a pile of flesh. Although there were certainly many champions in the small border town Hillya lived in, the powerful adventurers and city guards were unable to help the citizens as they were suppressed by the boundless Death Shades amidst their panic and wit’s end.
What happened to this world?
Exposing his own dragonkin identity, Hillya’s father combined with her Earthly-tier spellcaster mother to repel all the undead spirits around their family. But everything was simply to suddennext door, the family of Hillya’s good friend and the kindly woman all met their demise, with none of their corpses intact.
Even her parents’ actions made stronger undead spirits rise from their ancient slumber. Hillya and her family had been living in the borderlands by the Denaan Mountains, a place that was once the territory of blue gemstone dragons. In their war against men five hundred years ago, several Heavenly-pinnacleeven ‘Divine’ champions were stationed here, resisting the assault of the berserk giant dragons.
And on this apocalyptic day, all of them awakened.
Suddenly, the mountain forest that was shrouded by the long night was engulfed by endless presence. Giant dragons that were virtually extinct centuries ago bellowed long cries, carrying a chest filled with hatred and grudge as they returned to this world. Champions of all races that had died in battle were revived there too, intending to cut down powerful foes once more.
Wind and thunder billowed as the city was shredded by the shockwaves from those long-dead champions. Everyonebe it a crying girl who had no way to fight, or Earthly champion whose expression was filled with despairwas devoured by the energy shockwave that overwhelmed most of the province.
One night passed, and only one survived.
Still in her dream, Hillya perplexedly touched the white gown over her body.
On that night, it was an unbreakable milky-white shield that perfectly withstood every impact. It was a treasure given to her by her mother, who took it off her own body after learning that Hillya was about to leave home on an adventure.
Even so, that gentle matriarch had never spoke of her past or how she came to know her father. That was why the Hillya always believed that they were just an ordinary dragonkin-elf couple who eloped, but now it seems that were many secrets hidden behind their matrimony.
And their secrets were now all but ashes following their deaths.
Trembling and slowly kneeling on the ground, the dragon-winged girl wailed as she lay prone on the ground, fruitlessly reaching out those warm but minute dust. Those were her parents and siblingseverything she loved was now floating dirt.
But what good is crying, what could tears save? Even if she bit her lips until she bled and her heart was about to split apart, everything had already happened.
Thus, the entire world fell into darkness as the dead from the past mercilessly consume the present and the future. And on the first day the light died, the girl who once expected adventure embarked on an absolutely undesired journey.
Twenty-seven years that were seemingly endless and utterly hopeless.
To a mixed-blood child of dragonkin and elf, a mere period of twenty-seven years would not have changed their facial features or allowed them growth into adulthood. But although the girl was still herself, her heart had long been honed into steel.
In those twenty-seven years, Hillya bore witness to innumerable encounters and the rise and fall of many shelters. She had wanted to help those in need, only to find that she could do nothing apart from fending from herself.
Cities and fortresses started to fall one after the other. Even if those dead Heavenly or Divine champions would no longer rise, an Earthly ghost alone would be able to destroy and line of defense.
And at some unknown point, the scattered wandering Death Shades began to organize themselves. Tens of thousands of undead soldiers would pursue and attack her every knightshe had a very difficult time facing them alone by her own abilities, but the mystical robe she inherited from her mother rescued her in several near-death encounters.
Still, there were the occasional things that the robe could not do. Facing an entire army hot on Hillya’s heels, it could only do its best to help her escape. The girl herself would also occasionally use the rare protocrystals she collected from abandoned towns and fortresses to make deals with champions from other shelters so that they would protect her.
While most would refusejust as many had developed ill-intent to steal the gemsthere were also quite a few champions who were willing to keep their promises. By their power, Hillya had lived to this day despite many close shaves.
But what does that achieve?
In reality, the corners of the sleeping girl’s eyes streamed with bitter tears.
She had grown weary after running and hiding for twenty-seven years. Unlike those survivors who lived in shelters deep within the mountains, Hillya never had a day of peaceful rest. There would always be Death Shades chasing and attacking her, ghost of undead champions who would awaken just for her head.
The girl also became accustomed to injury and being at death’s door. After all those years of hurt, her parts that had been cut off and later regenerated would have been enough to piece together two Hillyas. Many times, she would think about why she would keep running during her brief moments of respitewould it not be better if she just simply died than suffer this fate worse than death?
The answer to that was simple. She did not want to die.
It was not out of survival instinct, but of the things she carried.
Her father, mother, younger brother and sister, as well as her next-door neighbors, Maya and the kindly woman Suna On that day many had died, the calamity where the Death Shades awakened for the very first time, Hillya’s life was no longer her own after surviving thanks to the white gown.
It now belonged to everyone, for only she remembered those dead.
If she died, everything would be forgotten as if nothing had ever happened.
That was a greater horror than death.
In that very moment, her gown began to resonate lightly, gradually waking Hillya from her dream.
On the other end of the carriage, a rather tired woman also rose from her dream. She opened her eyes and looked at the dragon-winged girl, and said with a mild voice, “You’re awake? I’ve seen you faint beside the road and brought you along Why are you crying?”
The woman whose features was above average certainly seemed tiredshe could not stop herself from yawning despite having just woke up. She also planned to press Hillya on whether if a nearby shelter had been attacked and how many survived if so, but her mouth suddenly closed before opening again in astonishment.
“Wait, why are your clothes shining?”
Hillya did not know, and neither did she thought about the woman’s words at present.
Because she seemed to have fallen into an illusion.
As light and shadow jumbled, the girl promptly noticed that she was in a giant temple made from pure-white marble. Before her was a searing altar where a flame burned. It was without form or coloror might not even exist at all, although it seemed to carry the specter of the entire world.
At the same time, an imposing white-haired man wearing a mystical robe was staring at her with a solemn and judging gaze.
Amidst her absentmindedness, Hillya seemed to see other sights.
A smiling youth who held an Azurite in his hand, a cold Saint whose hip from which two shining blades hung, the imposing middle-aged man who wore the pure-white mystical robe, and a gentle old man whose hand held a bright scepter.
Those were him just as those were not him. They were his childhood, his struggle, his watch and his ending.
But who is he?
Hillya could feel that her elven blood was resonating. Her crimson flow that befriended plants and animals involuntarily bonded and revered the imposing middle-aged man. It as if a prodigal son returning to his parents after wandering for a long time, or an unworthy student who reunited with a strict but concerned teacher after many years.
She became aware of his identity in an instant.
During creation, crimson flames were everywhere. The skies were gale and thunder, the earth was scorched and molted. The continent was unborn, the oceans nonexistentall things were not shaped, and all life was yet to spawn.
However, a saint broke through the barrier between worlds and came, bringing thirteen thousand pioneers and settling here. The saint ordered the flames and gales, scolded the thunder, raising land from lava while cooling and stabilizing the fusion core. The saint even separated toxic gases from water, created the first rains and shaping the oceans.
The saint also spread seeds and bestrew life. Under his divine power, the land that still had lava over it became lush. Young beast prowled the earth while the pioneers settled here, spawning the scent of life.
The Saint of Origin’s legend thus spread throughout the Grandia Continent. Though many historical records were lost when the Central Empire split apart five-hundred years ago, dedicated souls could still verify the information regarding Creation in ancient documents.
Nevertheless, it is also through these old texts that one could understood that the Saint of Origin was not the true Creator. He was merely using the powers from a divine artifacta mystical robe to activate the power of the Sage, calming the flames at the moment of Creation.
“Could it be.”
Touching the robe over her body, Hillya’s spirit was so shocked she was unable to think.
“Sa Sage” She was barely able to mutter.
Before her, the imposing white-haired middle-aged mirage nodded lightly, his gaze softening.
“Descendant of my apostle,” he said calmly. “You have forgotten your purpose.”