Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“It is impossible for humans to use the Chaos with present measures.”
Boom, boom, boom, boom—
The sound of the earth’s crust being torn by a brute force echoed through the near-liquid form air, resounding across most of the world in seconds.
It was a world of complete darkness.
There were neither stars nor sun. The icebound surface of absolute cold temperatures of hundred degrees below was harder than diamonds, while the violent gale of frost formed by the breaking continent stirred waves in the atmosphere that was about to freeze into pieces.
Over the glaciers, Priest held back supreme fear and shudders to stand on the only perfect surface. The young warrior, having arrived at Gold-level could survive in such extreme cold, as well as see in the absolute darkness—which was why he simply stared at the glaciers before his eyes.
The vast glaciers that covered the entire world and stretches over a hundred thousand kilometers had now shattered beneath the brute strength of a certain person. Priest watched as the glacier and the earth’s crust was torn apart by Steel Giant’s silhouette, forming a deep, vast ravine without an edge, just as there was no telling how deep it was. Its borders soon vanished from the edge of vision, as if the entire world was torn apart.
Perhaps, the world had truly been torn apart.
“Priest, don’t keep the fluke in mind. Keep every word I say to heart.”
The sonorous, deep and godlike voice spoke to him. Priest hurriedly lowered his head to indicate that he was listening, just as he saw from the corner of his eyes that, before the Giant God, the earth which had been harder than steel was torn into streaks of stony crust just like paper, crushed into the finest of powders and fusing into that imposing, massive body.
“It is impossible for us to use Chaos with the methods and technology we have at the moment.”
The Giant God was feeding—he was swallowing the world, crushing rocks that were as large as mountains and fusing it into his body. Even as he spoke, the Giant God tore another boulder over ten thousand meters long as if it was a piece of meat.
Priest sensed an incomparable gravitational disturbance, his throat hence squirming and gulping when he saw the giant crust of earth larger than Mycroft’s highest peak was turned instantly into a clump of silver dust, vanishing in the deep and dark maw of the Giant God.
Soon, the ravine turned into an abyss. The vast land that would have been enough for millions of inhabitants was devoured entirely by the Giant God, and in that process, his calm voice resounded in the atmosphere.
“I’ve told you and you only, Priest—you are different from others, even my apprentices. That is why I must remind you to be alert against all that has to do with the Chaos.”
“How… how am I different, mentor?”
Despite being left shuddering by fear and his entire body shuddering irrepressibly, Priest still calmed himself. Taking a deep breath and pressing the air that was a hundred degrees below into his lungs, calming with that extreme cold.
“Why are you telling me that?” he asked calmly.
Always able to maintain calm and summoning courage. Such was Priest’s strong point and the reason he could become the Giant God’s pupil.
“Because of choice. Priest, you are unlike your fellow apprentices since they have chosen to stay in Mycroft. That’s why they would remain within the Empire, becoming champions stationed in one faction, maintaining Order and peace.”
The Giant God did not cease its feeding. It had come to this frozen planet precisely to ‘feast’ on most of its rocky layer, drawing out the metal core of the planet as a desert to replenish nutrients for the world inside his body.
“But you’re different,” he said slowly and very serenely.
“You have chosen the path of the adventurer, exploring faraway places. That is why you are more likely to encounter Chaos hidden in the Multiverse, even touching the other side of the world.”
‘And more likely to follow my footsteps.’
Priest could see windstorms abruptly surging across the dark world, as if some colossal presence was rapidly stirring the atmosphere. Mustering strength in both feet, he trampled and crushed the glacier beneath his feet, wedging himself fixedly where he was.
In the very next moment, Priest could see that the Giant God had turned, lowering his head to level his gaze at his own.
What sort of eyes was that?
Priest could hardly describe it, the pair of eyes that resembled two miniature suns, emanating infinite heat and light… And yet, the sun’s brilliance was being distorted by formless gravity, forming a vague, incandescent ray that flowed mildly along the corners of the Giant God’s eyes, forming veins of orderly but mysterious patterns on his cheeks.
“Never use the Chaos, never approach the Chaos—do not try to control it nor attempt converting it. Seal it as soon as you could if it can’t be destroyed, or simply leave. Such is the relationship between us and the Chaos: mortal enemies to each other.”
Priest did not say a thing for some time; his gaze was still attached to the Giant God’s own. He appeared to be immersed in the immeasurably profound shock, but just as the Giant God turned to conclude his advice to his pupil and continue his lunch, Priest suddenly spoke.
“Not even… with your power, mentor?”
A long silence followed in the frozen world.
Then came a discreet but rather awed laughter.
“You’re still filled with hope even if I kept insisting otherwise. I like that about you.”
“As for me…” the Giant God said quietly and thoughtfully, “I could at least say that I’m still trying hard, and not giving up.”
Priest suddenly jolted awake from his dream.
“Damn it… did I have a nightmare…” he groaned, turned and rose from a primitive cane hammock—his head throbbed and he had difficulty thinking.
“No, not a nightmare…” he muttered, “a lesson from my mentor.”
But as for what lesson it had been, he could not remember for the death of him.
“It’s fine, it’s just a dream.”
Having arranged his thoughts after quite a while, Priest looked up and found Caster’s eyes, who had been keeping watch for the night opposite a bonfire. Both nodded in understanding, and did not say anything else.
It was the third day since the Elite Party had arrived on the nameless world, and just two days after they had come to a temporary settlement with the elves calling themselves ‘Tribe Overwatch’.
The hills and mountains of the east undulated. Amidst the fallen leaves and the dried branches of endless forests were many underground caverns, and apart from the minor few elven leaders, most of the elves lived in those caves nearby the Mother Lifetree. Priest and others were living in one of those caves as well, one which had been cleaned and had fine ventilation.
“Really, there’s no telling when those elves would conclude their counsel and decide whether they would cooperate with us.”
Mage sighed and closed the grimoire in his hand—he was on watch until dawn as he sat on the other side of the bonfire. “Longevity-types resemble tortoises remarkably,” he said feebly, “slow and dull.”
“They will cooperate.”
Priest replied softly, shaking his head. “If they were hesitant from the start, why would they go through the trouble of keeping us five Gold-tiers right beside their own tribe? That way, they would suffer great losses even if their entire tribe come for our heads, and procreating is very difficult for elves.”
Mage did not retort, but nor did he agreed seriously as he simply replied, before turning to faint sunlight appearing by the mouth of the cave. Dawn has arrived out there, and it was the third day since they have arrived in the otherworld.
Meanwhile, Priest sighed and recalled the scene two days ago, late into the night.
In the dense forests, almost thousands of elite hunters and archers had encircled the five members of the Elite Party. Under such besieging, even a swarm of Gold-tier magical beasts would have held themselves back… but Priest and his team were five Gold-tier adepts who had mastered various combat strategies and magic—even if they were yet to fully grasp their own Glorious Strength, they would not be taken by the elves without inflicting significant damage.
However, just as they stood off against almost a thousand elven hunters, the leader of the elven tribe – the elven druid who wore a crown of deer antlers appeared at the center of the crow.
His appearance broke the wordless silence between both sides.
“You… are humans?” He asked in shocked. “Not monsters of Chaos?”
With their exchange being commenced with such dialogue, what followed certainly was not conflict.
Then, following complicated and repetitive questions and questions in return, both factions which had been showing mutual hostility forcibly ended their standoff and generally understood each other’s circumstances.
Priest and his party learned that the elves were a tribe known as the ‘Overwatch’. All of them, including their leader, were no older than three hundred years old, making them an unusual tribe of elves. They lived around a colossal Lifetree, building houses by its roots and trunk, living by harvesting, hunting, and fishing.
Essentially a very primitive but unified tribe of elves.
Just as the eight-legged fungi never saw through the fact that it was armor that Priest’s party were all wearing and not exoskeleton, the Overwatch elves who had never seen steel armor or so many metal items naturally could not understand what ‘sealed full-body steel armor’ was. Furthermore, Priest and the others had destroyed plants without a care when they had been trying to open a path in the forest gave the elves further confirmation that they were some terrible otherworld monsters—the gap between their civilization, race, and technology was simply too great that such misunderstanding was inevitable.
On the other hand, the elves also learned that the Priest and the others were stranded in the forests due to an accident, and the incidents at the mountains had nothing to do with them—or, in the very least, the elves indicated that they could not refute the fact after the party had sworn the truth of their own words.
Even so, they appeared impassive, and could have either bought their words or were simply nonchalant about it.
“The Sacred Altar Mountain is forged from steel in the first place. That is certainly what our ancestors had told us, but as time passed, steel rusted, while the erosion of wind and sand buried it, finally turning into sturdy rock.”
That was what the antler-crowned elf told them then. He appeared unsurprised at all by the reactivation of the dimensional hub.
In fact, it left the Elite Party, who acted as if they were facing a great foe, puzzle—they realized that the mountains they had been, which in other words was the location of Hub Accrafa, had been what the elves referred to as the ‘Sacred Altar Mountain’. That same summit had now collapsed, and yet the elves were neither shocked nor surprised.
Was that mountain even sacred to them?!
Moreover, there were paradoxes in the elves’ civilization progress.
According to Priest’s inferred, the elves in this unusual world must have been accidentally stranded here like them due to a teleportation error, during the Final Battle of the Glorious Era some thirteen hundred years ago. To put it in another way, they should be descendants of the colonial elves back then—but if they were, there was absolutely no way that they would devolve to primitive ways now, such as how they lived in caverns!
What was more, elves boasted longevity that perhaps surpasses the ages of most mortal dynasties. Their knowledge and legacy were far more stable than that of humans as well, so how did a mere thirteen hundred years degrade them to such a state?
Priest could even tell that the elves here were using arrows fashioned out of bone. They had even lost the skill to craft metals!
Be that as it may, the elves did give an answer to part of the unusual paradoxes they had found.
“Are you curious about the scar on my arm?”
As both sides ceased their tense standoff during the exchange, the antler-crowned elf extended his arm. He had already noticed that Priest and the others appeared obsessed with the scar on his right arm and smiled widely.
“This is Otherworld Blight. There are times when the fleshes of those perished gods in the skies dropped down, corrupting the beasts or elves roaming the forests. Basically, anyone who was touched by the flesh and scratched by infected beasts would not survive… My injury is comparatively light, and it would take decades before it claims my life.”
“There’s no meaning in cutting it off either. It would simply move to other parts of my body, a fact proven by countless predecessors.”
The antler-crowned elf called those nine Behemoths ‘perished gods’, but his words were rather carefree as if he did not mind his lifespan at all, and he had even joked with the companions beside him.
“Am I not about to break the record for longest-living leader?” He had laughed.
“Quite.” One of his companions replied.
From that information, the expedition party could somehow understand how those elves were losing their legacies so quickly and reduced to such primitive state. If the first generation of colonial elves had mostly died out from the corruption of Chaos just as their descendants eventually would, longevity would thus be unable to preserve their civilization.
That was also precisely why these elves at once assumed that the Elite Party were some infected otherworld aberrations after they had fallen from the skies. The black enchanted armor certainly did not look like some equipment of a faction on the side of the angels, instead emanating a sinister and oppressive air on first glance.
It was simple as to how the elves could recognize them as humans too. There had been humans allegedly living around the mountains as well, but they were not seen recently, and could well have been slowly dying out.
“To be frank, the situation here is far weirder than what we imagined.”
Priest ended his recollection, shaking his head and muttering—perhaps to himself or Mage across the bonfire. “Starfall history spans across eight hundred and thirty-nine years which doesn’t exactly count as long… Added with the eighty or hundred and thirty years after the shelters were opened and the primitive, chaotic era fighting the tides Dark Forest beasts, as well as the Lost Three Hundred Years before the shelter was reopened. At most it was around twelve hundred years. Counting in other extra periods would at most make it thirteen hundred years.”
“Even if this tribe of elves is plagued by the light Chaos infection known as the ‘Otherworld Blight’ leading to reduced longevity, that is still a two-hundred-year lifespan, give or take. Thirteen hundred years are therefore just six or seven generations, there is no way they would lose their legacies so completely!”
With Priest’s voice, the others regained consciousness as well. Meanwhile, Mage, who had kept watching the mouth of the cave, his thoughts inscrutable lowered his voice, muttering, “perhaps… it’s not only thirteen hundred years?”
“What do you mean?”
Priest, who sharply heard Mage’s mutterings, pressed him puzzledly. “Could you mean to say that that tribe of elves was living here even before the final battle?”