Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Death Shades did not exist on Grandia for the first time; they were not always in such savage form too.
The majestic and monumental defense line [Fort Construct Corolla] was built entirely from steel and artillery barrels upon the Four Great Holy Cities northwest to the Tomb of the Saints. For some unknown reason, an officer wearing heavy protective clothing and staring out at the distant horizon was suddenly remembering these lands thirty years ago.
Death Shades were not called Death Shades then. People had once called them “Resonance”creatures that spawned from those who once lived. Through a certain function of the unique protocrystal energy on Grandia, human souls would leave a personal mark before in this world before dispersing, forming something similar to an epitaph. Under circumstances where all conditions were met, a Resonance would re-live certain dialogue and behavior it had done in life. Kin who saw those scenes would view it as a sign of good luck and thank the protection of the dead.
Grandia itself was a singular world made out of one whole continent. According to the Saint’s Creation Myth, the continent was dead center amidst the Four Oceans, and at its edges were the nothingness of Chaos. Naturally, there was no shortage of curious adventurers who wanted to explore the ends of the oceans, but they and their boats would ultimately vanish from the edge of vision.
On the other hand, according to stories from adventurers who had decisively returned midway from their quest, they had seen and heeded the warning from the Resonance of their predecessors. Therefore, they swiftly turned back instead of continuing forward.
In short, Resonance were not savage forms that devour life in the beginningthey existed from the start as epitaphs of the dead, as a blessing before death and as a certain form of legacy carrier.
The Tomb of the Saints was thus a place where countless Resonance resided.
Nonetheless, unlike the Resonance of common folk, the specters that champions left in this world were more powerful. They possessed certain abilities to think and keep part of their legacy, but their very existence would plunder the wandering energies in the world around them.
In their very presence, bountiful lands would become barren, forests and lakes filled with life would wither and dry. Therefore, most champions and great men were sent to the vicinity of the Tomb of the Saints just before death, where they would later be buried and sealed whenever possible for the safety of this world.
Now, the world changed dramatically. Resonance were now Death Shades that desired to extinguish all life, and a tremendous collection of seals in the Tomb was the final line of defense for the human world.
If they were destroyed, there would be no longer any place to survive in the world of Grandiathe phantom of bygone greats and champions would be enough to vanquish the world they once lived after they awakened.
Touching the barrel of a Mana Crystal Cannon, the officer remembered many things. He recalled the scenes where he had peacefully spoken with the Resonance of his own father, and the scenes where his hometown was devoured by the black Death Shades.
Nevertheless, his thoughts were quickly shortened by the scene before him.
Black fog suddenly appeared at the very edge of vision, directly in front of the fort construct’s walls that flashed in the silver-gray radiance of steel. It was wafting towards the city from the northwest, blocking out every light along the way.
The sun was dimming little by little as if something was gnawing at its inner radiance.
The grand army of the Death Shades had now arrived.
On the walls of Fort Corolla, the angles of innumerable cannons were adjusted and loaded with round shots. Streaks of clear and visible runes as well as magic circuits appeared out of thin air, while old copper war flags danced above cannon towers and watchtowers.
Everyone was ready to meet the attack.
Apart from that, at the other three directions from the Tomb of the Saints, the three other cities were reacting in the same manner as well.
In front of the city walls, an uncountable amount of seeds poured down like rain. Soon, self-destruct pods and thick tendrils appeared, glinting dangerously in pale blue illumination around those cities as if they would explode at any moment. The cities were also immeasurably colossal, as if they were vine growth that could wrap around mountains. Within them, gigantic ancient war trees were rising from their slumber one after the other and advanced towards the battlefield.
Below the city within the mountain and the foot of the peak, multitudinous shattered stones started to assemble autonomously as if alive. They shaped into robust earth-elemental guardians, forming a multitudinous elemental army that stood vigilantly by the foot of the mountain.
Sounds of moving bolts could also be heard behind the grand city walls under the jurisdiction of giants, and the entire city became shrouded in a colossal semi-spherical barrier. As the giant on the throne hosted and countless human supported, the entire town itself had seemingly become lightningeven steel would be vaporized the moment it came in contact with those bolts.
But directly in front of the defense line formed by the four cities, a gloom fog quickly spread, expanded, and occupied half of the skies.
Black ripples, as if a tidal wave, were cascading towards the fortifications.
The final battle had arrived. Whether they were the grand commander of the undead spirits or the lords of the four cities, all of them know part of the truth of this world. They were clear about their duty, and also understood how cruel and hopeless their ending was.
A hundred and three thousand soulsthat was the number the creator had left them with. Apart from the hundred and three thousand left, every other individual would become nothing and die along with Grandia.
But however hopeless things were, you still have to fight till the very end to prove your courage.
It was the guidance the Saint who was as if a star left during Creation, a guidance that never disappeared in a period of a thousand years, staying all along within the legacy of these pinnacle beings.
Prove the worth of your existence.
That’s the essence of salvation.
In front of the walls of Fort Corolla, the officer who wore heavy protective clothing clenched the command pistol in his hand. Though he was unaware of the guidance, his decades of toil, battle, the loss of family along with the fall of his homeland had filled him with rage and courage.
“Ready!” he roared, raising the gun in his hand.
Before his chest, the voice-boosting circle carried his voice across that flank of the city wall. Over the cannon barrels, charging mana crystals illuminated determined facesall of them were looking out from above the city wall, where a visible darkness had covered the distant mountains and plains. Endless black Death Shades were spawning from the fog, Resonance dead in the past and awakened by a mysterious power, turning into barbaric and blood-lusting monsters that came, cascading like a turbid wave.
After the trigger of the pistol was pulled, four pale-white beams rose in four directions, reflected in the vision of every person.
Instantly, the colossal steel walls of Fort Corolla started to tremble violently. As the order resounded, uncountable amounts of runes rippled in a lively illumination over the silver-gray walls, while arched rays lit up on the energy pathways that were fixed in the air. Having adequate energy, millions of cannon fire that came in various colors burst forth powerfully, the recoil quaking the entire city. Many of the constructs within crumbled while the radiance cannonballs drew long arcs over the sky, falling on the ground and emitting the most blinding of light.
The detonation and shockwave engulfed the Death Shade army in front of Fort Corolla, with much of the gloom fog dispersed by the incredible energy shockwave. However, though the first wave of Death Shades was completely annihilated, the other monsters behind poured forward ceaselessly. Still, they were not limitless, and merely equal to the number of the dead.
Naturally, that was virtually no different from endless.
In the other directions from the Tomb of the Saints, the three other cities were starting to fight too. Cannon fire blasted out in an orderly and rhythmic manner while magic swept across the ranks of the enemy. The brute strength of the earth elementals army and ancient war tree were also efficiently cutting down the Death Shade pawns.
Meanwhile, streaks of Earthly-tier or even Heavenly-tier war spells were shooting out from the cities. Those grand-scale magic engulfed areas of several square kilometers up to the edge of vision, washing the world white and turning things around completely.
Despite that, after several or maybe a dozen waves of Death Shade assault, the defensive formations of the Holy City had to retreat without stopping. In just half a day, the front line of the battle was pushed from almost ten miles away to the perimeter of the city walls. Under restraint, the living faction could not use most of their grand-scale magic.
On the watchtower over the city walls of Fort Corolla, a soldier wearing black skeleton armor stood before the officer who ordered the attack.
“Chief!” He bellowed under the cracking sounds of cannon fire and confusing booms of detonations. “The enemy’s vanguard is too close to the city walls, have the gunners and spellcasters to retreat! It’s time for us to face them!”
“Damn it!” The officer wearing heavy protective clothing fumed, gnashing his teeth.
Still, the truth was as his subordinate had said after one glance at the frontlines. Some of the Death Shades were using their special aspect of weightlessness to climb the city walls. Furthermore, no matter how modern the mana crystal cannon was, there was no way it would leave the city wall undamaged after striking enemies that were atop of it.
Even if that were so, the officer turned to glare angrily at the young man.
“Son no, Captain Farin. Is your death wish that strong?”
The young man, born and raised in this post-apocalyptic world, smiled helplessly but resolutely.
“Everyone has to die,” he said thus. “But I want to die a worthy death.”
Still, while he spoke, a watcher who was observing movements to the rear of the Death Shade’s army at the edge of the watchtower suddenly exclaimed. “Chief! Something’s up!”
“What is it?!” Waving the wall defense captain away to prepare for battle, the officer frowned as he barked. “Be specific!”
“There!” The watcher handed the binoculars in his hands to his officer while he pointed towards the location. “Ten o’clock, by the very edge of the visionbehind the Death Shade army!”
As the officer looked out in that bearing after grabbing the binoculars without hesitation, he blinked in shock.
It might have been an illusionor perhaps not.
One way or the other, by rear-center of the Death Shade army, waves of black ripples surged like a cyclone. Still, the officer could distinctly make out that the ‘tides’ were in fact Death Shade troops, pulled off the ground by a certain power by tens of thousands and sent flying into the sky in layers that created a sight reminiscent of tides.
A dull red light appeared amidst the waves while a low but indistinct sound resounded from the distance. If one did not pay attention, it would easily be missed under the heavy cannon fire around Fort Corollabut the officer certainly caught it.
What was it? A hidden Death Shade move? Reinforcements from other Holy Cities?Many ideas darted through the officer’s mind but were dismissed.
The power of the Death Shades was a constant. After verifying information regarding bygone champions who had perished away from the Tomb of the Saints, the Holy City had a fair idea of the Death Shade hierarchs that were once champions or great men that had not been sealed, and none of them was the red light tearing up huge waves in the distant.
As for reinforcements, it would be a joke. Although the Four Holy Cities were the only surviving human settlements, their ideology remained different and they were all competitors towards each other. It was already the limit to their partnership by working together against the Death Shadeswhy would any of them send champions to help defend another city?
So where did that light come from?
“Ah! The Death Shade army is confused!” The watcher yelled loudly in surprised delight as he used his own backup pair of binoculars.
Indeed, in that faraway spot, the crimson light had swept away a large portion of Death Shade along with the black cloud above them as if a meteor, revealing the gray-blue sky. The orderly army of darkness thus became restless and scattered, with some of them continuing forward towards Fort Corolla while the others moved to encircle the light.
And upon the land, man bathed in starlight for the sun was smothered.
The sun and moon of Grandia were but clusters of energy condensed to the brim, burning and extinguishing as the world itself did. Such was the essence of a small celestial body within the universe, with the Nuclear Star itself being a fragment of such marvelous energy.
However, the stars were different from these illuminations that would grow dimmer as their end approached. These were reflections of the infinite number of worlds that existed within the multiverse, and one flashing star meant a world in danger.
And now, the stars in the sky were disturbed by a fog of light that resembled a galaxy which engulfed the multiverse, emanating a light that far surpasses its usual intensity.
The Great Mana Tide was looming, and the broken world of Grandia was about to be baptized by it.
That was when the end arrives and all things return to death.
The warrior stood upon the land and advanced slowly. There was no trace of a single Death Shade in the region of three-hundred square kilometers around him.
Legions of callous monsters wanted to rush and tear that seemingly ordinary human, only to feel their bodies suddenly become weightless when they entered that region. It was as if the power that kept them standing over solid ground disperse violently or was canceled out by some other power.
Thus did the incalculable armies of Death Shades dashed towards the man in droves, but the ending never changed. Each moment they stepped into the region they would be swatted off up into the clouds by a herculean and invisible power. Since they were also denied gravity, the Death Shade armies were sent flying by the tens of thousands like a tidal wave, sinking into the clouds and utterly incapable of approaching the target.
The man walked, with nary a change in expression, under the numerous sanguine stars. His clothes scattered amidst the gales as stone and dust floated and orbited around him like satellites. The land, soaked in fresh blood and the power of darkness was cleansed by the searing radiance of life his body emitted, turning into sheets of white ground that released warm breezes.
There was also visible cooled dim-gold lava where the man stepped.
Without a word, Joshua van Radcliffe walked amongst the legions, the savage Death Shades no more dangerous than dust to him. The cannon fire that resonated and the fight within the city could not attract his attention eitherthe warrior never disturbed the battle of others or influenced their resolve.
At the moment, he was only fixated upon moving forward, heading towards a higher place within his heart.