Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
In most worlds with undeveloped civilizations, Ancient Dragons were seen as calamity instead of creators of all things.
The power of those Primeval Beings could detonate volcanos and tremble the earth, causing lightning and windstorms at a whim, altering oceanic flows and surging tides. The cities raised by civilizations are as fragile as white paper before them, being easily flattened at their will.
And yet, Ancient Dragons did not live to destroy; their power was simply exceedingly profound. In fact, those calamitous powers were precisely the origins of life.
Volcanic explosions provide warmth to cold worlds allowing the elements buried deep beneath the ground to arrive on the surface. Lightning and windstorms nurture the compounding of atomic particles, substantially raising the percentage for organic particles to appear, the most important condition for the birth of primeval life. Powerful magnetic fields stir weather but also withheld the energy radiation that falls from the skies, protecting microorganisms that barely gained their first form. As for the shift of tectonic plates, it was to fuse earth elements sufficiently, an important procedure to form living primordial soup.
As for the world itself, calamity was but a typical natural phenomenon that is as ordinary as rain and snow. It was precisely because intelligent beings exist that calamity was ‘calamity’, and because they were weak, they would name those power that gave birth to life as destruction… However, not all civilizations thought the same way. There were those beings in the Multiverse who had already learned the power of Ancient Dragon a long time ago and attempted to adapt it to their own uses.
The beginning of everything must be traced back to a time several thousand years ago.
“When our ancestors were still farming schools of fishes, the battle of the Dragon God and the Darkness had already begun on the other edge of the Multiverse. At first, the Darkness of unknown origins could not even scratch the Dragon God, who in turn paid not much attention because it believed it to be a mere trifle.”
“But as time passed and technology advanced by generations, the once harmless child grew into an adult who wielded a keen blade, and that Darkness gradually became able to fight the Dragon God in direct battle.”
Beneath the underground ruins at the heart of the Kronos Mountains, faint footsteps rang as the elderly Drakonid held the hand of a silent Lisa, heading deeper below the surface along the translucent crystal corridor.
He was looking straight ahead, speaking softly, calmly and unruffled while detailing the secrets inherited by Drakonids from ancient times. “After fighting for hundreds and thousands of years, the Dragon God could no longer repel them. Then, unable to bear the harassment, it chose to distance itself by entering the Void, but that Darkness followed it like a gangrene of the bond, chasing to the very edge of the Multiverse.”
Eve Lisa was aware of what happened next: The Darkness chased the Dragon God to a world where the Drakonids’ ancestors were present, and, fearful of the threat to themselves, the Dragon God and the Kronos civilization combined to utterly defeat the pursuers. Nonetheless, the Dragon God itself was heavily injured, while the Motherworld of Kronos, unintentionally exposed, was destroyed by devastating magic. The continent was shattered stone, the oceans dried and became deserts and thus the entire plane fell into the Abyss.
The Kronos civilization was hence ended, its living races virtually extinct, with only their final fleet surviving.
“For guilt and gratitude, the Dragon God resolved to connect itself with the entire world that faced destruction to repay the aid given by our ancestors… It slumbered at the heart of what was once oceans and what was presently the Desert of God, assimilating itself to our world. That way, when the Dragon God recover from its wounds, it is equal to repairing the Roots of our world—according to the Dragon God itself, it was the rebirth of Steel Strength.”
“Now, the Kronos Mountains we live in is the starting point of rebirth. When the Dragon God completely recovers, the entire world would be reshaped from its Roots, its vigor restored. To wait for that very day, our ancestors who had lost their civilization chose to accept the Blood of the Dragon God, attaining its power to flourish in these mountains and maintain the existence of our race.”
The other elders did not follow the elderly Drakonid to the deepest level of the ruins—most of them had headed for other parts to repair and calibrate the ancient ruins. Only Lisa and the elder kept going down and down, as if there was no end.
The elderly Drakonid had a face full of wrinkles. His hair and beard were all white, with a tinge of whiteness also found by his horns where there were signs of fragmenting. And yet his voice was clear, with no hint of the vagueness found in aged individuals. Through it all, he narrated the ancient secrets, holding on to Lisa’s hand as they journeyed below.
“But there is a price for a world’s rebirth… the Dragon God had linked itself to the world, meaning that it is now the world’s heart—and could a heart leave a body? Therefore, before the world heals itself, the Dragon God could never leave this world. Bound by the pact to stay on the ground, it would never rise to the skies to fight the enemy.”
At that moment, Lisa no longer knew how far below ground she was—neither did Syndicate. She could sense that she must have walked past a thick layer of stone and ventured beneath the earth’s crusts, while the balrog unwittingly noticed that there were specks of golden-red magma on both sides of the translucent crystal corridor, spreading and flowing beneath the ground.
The Drakonid girl should not have been able to survive if they were really so deep below. But the crystal corridor that intermittently flickered with microscopic magical energy—a creation of the Kronos civilization—perfectly barred the surrounding pressure and heat, allowing Lisa to walk steadily ahead.
“Linking itself to the world is the only way the Dragon God could save our way, which also meant that the Dragon God was bound in the cage known as the world… it would not even be able to retaliate when the enemy comes.”
And the elderly Drakonid appeared to have come here frequently. He calmly took Lisa’s hand, walking deep toward the earth’s mantle wrapped completely in magma, seemingly intending to head toward the world’s core.
But that was not the case. Just as Lisa felt that she had completely entered the earth’s mantle, they had arrived at their destination—a huge hall built entirely of pale-silver crystals.
A dodecagonal space, it was filled with a mysterious presence, with every wall inscribed with completely different complex runes. On the pale-silver wall, pale-blue lightning bolts were dancing in patterns akin to an electrical circuit, while many grooves and runes of unknown usage flashed in magical radiance.
At the center of the hall was a large pyramidic altar. It was completely silver, with red light flickering over its artery-like crystal patterns. On the top of the altar was a cylinder half the height of a person, holding aloft an exquisite pallet, while a cluster of blue light without a fixed form hung above the pyramid like a projection.
Lisa had been shocked so much she took a step back when she saw it. It was not cowardice on her part, but because the environment was simply too malevolent—the path toward that huge pyramidic altar was laden with sanguine magma, boiling metals and suffocating heat. Purple-red lightning encircled the cylinder and the pallet, emanating an incomparable presence as if the rage of the gods were given form.
The Drakonid elder stopped when they arrived at the hall, clenching on the girl’s hand. “The earth acknowledges, Steel promises, the trials of Air and the pact between God, world, and Drakonid.” He said softly with nostalgia, reluctance, and relief. “This is the center of the world of Kronos, a place where the Flame once burned.”
“The Dragon God certainly is bound to our world, but our ancestors had fortunately foreseen such a thing. That is why they designed that altar and the ritual.”
Just as Lisa looked up to the elderly Drakonid, intending to ask the purpose of the hall and the altar, he released Lisa’s hand. He stepped slowly ahead to the altar as if the magma, liquid metal, and distorting heat were nothing. Though his clothes began to burn the flames never touched him, instead revealing his aged body that was filled with wrinkled, spots, jutting veins, and scars.
How many battles had he gone through for such substantial scarring? Lisa was left shocked for a moment, even forgetting that the aged person was walking over magma.
Meanwhile, the old Drakonid’s clear voice wafted to her.
“With several Drakonids possessing pure Dragon God Blood and their own bloodline as a base to create a false mirage, the world could temporarily be fooled and the chain would not restrain the Dragon Gods for moments. With the pure-blood power as guide, not only would the Dragon God be granted brief freedom, it would be empowered, becoming stronger with the strength of our entire race.”
Though his shows were already burnt away, the old Draknoid stepped upon the boiling sanguine magma, green-blue lightning shielding his horns although the fragrance of burned flesh was still present. Even so, he took no notice and shook his head. “It’s a shame. The original ritual requires at least twelve pure-bloods standing beneath the twelve walls, using runes to work together and calm the raging magma, liquid metal, and hot gale, placating the rage of this world that is about to die, given form.”
“Otherwise, the burden would be too huge and likely to cause death or injury. And now, the number of pure-bloods is critically insufficient—much less twelve of them.”
At that, the old Drakonid that kept going toward the pyramidic altar sighed. “Not even half.”
Lisa’s lips moved tentatively in response, as she watched the Drakonid elder whose body began to be engulfed in electric bolts to resist the surrounding hotness. “Because there aren’t enough people, that’s why… I’m needed?” she asked softly.
“That’s why, sacrifice is needed.”
Arriving at the tip of the altar, the old Drakonid stopped in his tracks. He did not turn, and began to laugh instead. “We have let down the expectations of our ancestors and lost the way to awaken the bloodline. That’s why only two pure-blood Drakonids awakened in our generation.”
Quickly looking up to where the elder was, Lisa mumbled in surprise. Then, her eyes widened, as she stared at the Drakonid elder whose hair and beard began to burn, a guess in her mind.
“That’s right—it’s me, Lisa. I’m the awakened pure-blood Drakonid of the previous generation.”
Still not looking behind, the old Drakonid had arrived in front of the cylinder and pellet, while his skin was filled with dark charred traces as if burnt by the purple-red lightning and flames that encircled him. The heat around him had also reached a terrible threshold, that was the same even with the partially awakened Ancient Dragon bloodline of the Drakonid elder.
Be that as it may, the old Drakonid’s voice was unfettered. He stared at the pellet up front, and the cluster of blue light hovering above it, and spoke with infinite calm. “Blessed be our ancestors that I did not die easily, or the minimal requirements of the ritual would not even have been achievable. Things are truly urgent, I don’t even have the time to explain everything to you.”
He then raised his hand to stop Lisa, who wanted to step up, and raised his index finger, slashing the veins on his wrist and placing it over the pellet, where purple-black blood sprayed out along with lightning bolts.
It was then that the old Drakonid finally turned behind, and laugh softly with a kind gaze at the young girl. “It’s fortunate that I’m alive, and therefore your sacrifice is unnecessary… Lisa, you are so young and yet possess such power—you will definitely be the hope of Drakonids in the future.”
Therefore, the sacrifice of I, who had not a future, is enough.
The Drakonid elder thus turned again to level his gaze at the altar, where the cluster of light was flashing with unusual numbers—12.47%, 24.91%, 37.32%, 49.11%… The numbers flew just as the old Drakonid’s blood poured forth rapidly, the scent of the power within pure Ancient Dragon blood burning within.
Even so, the elderly Drakonid did not appear satisfied. Taking a deep breath, his entire body beginning to flash with lightning bbolts He closed his eyes, and smiled for the last time.
Goodbye, my comrade. Keep striding forward, live well and help me watch over the hopeful future of Drakonids.
Pang. As Lisa looked on in utmost astonishment amidst the sound of something shattering, the green-blue bolts quivered violently and the old Drakonid’s body instantly turned into a cluster blood mist. As if alive, the blood mist surged toward the highest point over the altar, and a tremendous bloodline power that made Lisa tremble exploded. The power was distilled by the magma around them, refined by the boiling liquid metals and calcified by the distorted and hot air. Having passed through the trial and purification by Earth, Steel and Air, the blood mist that the old Drakonid’s full power had turned into became a vein of silver lightning, mixed with a green hue.
As if from ancient times, the lightning caused the electromagnetism between matter to fuse, causing macromolecule polymers to blend beneath high-energy impact, shaping the most basic of lifeforms while the lightning cascaded into the depths of the altar, creating a mild illumination.
The earth began to tremble.
The purple-red lightning appeared to have dulled. The boiling metal also began to cool and assemble around the altar, even as the searing winds that could incinerate all things stopped, with the magma turning into the black stone. The rage of the world had seemingly calmed, and silver radiance was focusing across all directions, vaguely giving form to a silver metallic chain around the altar.
In the distant heart of the desert, the raging Ancient Dragon suddenly paused. It could sense the power that bound it to the world was slowly weakening while the power that shackled it gradually became distant. It turned toward the Kronos Mountains; the Dragon God knew that was ancient promise being carried out.
The Drakonids had unbound its chains, allowing it to rise to the heavens and fight the hated enemy.
Beneath the depths of the land, Lisa looked on toward the silver-blue bolts kept circling over the altar and the little residual blood mist—those were the final remains of the elderly Drakonid who never gave her his name. The girl’s lips parted, as if intending to say something and hear something in return, but there was now no one to hear her, no one to tell her the secrets of the world. She was alone once again, this time at the depths of the world, at the earth’s mantle that who knows how many meters deep it was.
In the end, the girl was just a little over ten. Death, sacrifice, the fate of race and world, civilization and the possibility of a future were all too profound for girls of such an age. The furthest plan Lisa had for the future was just to explore the faraway Desert of God, and now, the girl who could not understand anything felt difficulty in breathing as the weight of the mountain named responsibility was about crush her.
Luckily, she was not truly alone.
“Step forward, Lisa.”
In the silent hall deep underground, Syndicate spoke softly into its spiritual link with the girl. “That old person had already done the had part. It’s now up to you to complete the final step.”
“Like me, you could no longer turn back—so stop staring blankly, wake up.”
“Is that so…. My turn, huh.”
The girl awakened from her bewilderment thanks to the balrog’s words, and looked up toward the nearby pyramidic altar. She took a slow step forward on to the stone floor boards over the altar hall, and then another—there remains incomprehension and fear in her face, as well as bewildered and troubled expressions.
But Lisa kept walking ahead, step by step without any sign of stopping.
—Indeed, she was still very much lost.
Lisa still did not understand what was all this, why she was here and why she had taken up such tremendous responsibility… but even if her mind was still at a loss and still had much that she did not comprehend, cowering and sadness, fear, and anxiety, she kept walking ahead.
She treaded upon the path of black stone condensed out of magma, strode over the silver ramp composed of metals, passing through the now-gentle lightning bolts and sanguine fog that had yet to disperse, moving with long steps to the top of the pyramid altar.
Even if there were great responsibility which she knew nothing about, as well as unknowns before her, Lisa courageously met it all. She was aware that the path would be a hard one and did not know if she could finish walking it. But since she had already stepped on it, she would never look back nor look around, or pause where she was.
She would advance, and only advance.
For that was her chosen direction from the very beginning.