Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
A keen arrow instantly broke through the air, piercing the scalp of an aberration hiding behind the shrub and killing it where it was. The powerful penetration did not dispel for a long time, causing its nock to quiver without stopping.
The creature was not small. It had the frame of a giant lizard, with distinct signs of Otherworld Blight over its back. Even after its brain had been shot through by the sharp arrow, it only died slowly after struggling over dozens of seconds—its death throes had attracted the quiet growls of other aberrations from other parts of the forests, as if in warning and threatening.
Paying no attention to the growls, Sol carefully surveyed her surroundings as she placed another bone arrow on her crude elven hardwood bow.
The elven girl who was familiar with the movement of various aberrations in the forest was aware then that the forest was now more dangerous than usual. All of the creatures usually hiding deep within the forest had now awakened, wandering the woods and venting their bloodlust.
Fortunately, those beasts would not dare approach the Sacred Altar Mountain no matter how fearsome they were. Nonetheless, the Sacred Mountain was not exactly advantageous—when the aberrations gathered into a swarm and after their last bit of rationality had been drowned in the collective, they would no hesitate to leap into the Abyss, much less the Sacred Alter Mountain.
Sol found herself troubled.
There had been only a rare few recorded instances in the long history of the Overwatch tribe where beasts crowded into swarms, and there would always be obvious signs before it happened: bloody rain from the nine moons, tsunamis by the coasts, various tremors, or thunderstorms.
After such phenomenon ceased, it was also only after seven to eight days and various anomalies that the beast would turn into a swarm, destroying everything around them as they slaughtered each other without stopping.
But has there been any anomalies a while ago? There were indeed tremors, but the beasts should not be reacting to quickly.
“Lady Sol. According to experience, when would those beasts began to attack us?”
Alchemists’s voice spoked from beside the elven girl. Sol turned toward Priest’s teammate.
At present, the four members of the Elite Party were making camp.
Caster was transfiguring mud into stone and vice versa in a lively manner to build the frame of a fortress by the foot of a mountain, while Clergy unhurriedly stabbed crystal cylinders into the base of the fortress and used Holy Light to turn it into a singular form, just as Rider assembled various bizarre components at the back.
In a dozen minutes, a crude inverted trapezoid fortress was mostly completed.
“Not sure. We’ve never came across such anomaly before.”
Sol shook her head and briskly leapt up to the crow’s nest on top of the fortress and shot down another aberration from afar with a single arrow. “But if I had to guess,” she said slowly, “there would be an hour or two in delay—the powerful ones would eat the weak ones first, and they would only have the strength to rampage when they are full.”
Alchemist nodded slightly. He informed his companions about the time they had loudly, before glancing at Sol who killed another approaching beast and then at the still-silent Hub Accrafa.
‘Our leader has a good eye,’ he thought silently.
Most elves had thin and frail bodies. Along with their beautiful faces, anyone would earnestly imagine that they were ‘delicate’, but that was a complete misconception. Having lived amidst the forest and traveling through the woods, elves were superior to man be it in power, agility, and endurance.
And Sol was undoubtedly a standard elf. The usually cheerful girl now had the viciousness of a hunter on her face at the moment, while her long green hair, tied to a ponytail, wafted behind her. Her emerald-gold eyes narrowed, precisely seeking the location of every prey in the forest—her dainty form neither presented her as delicate or gentle, but her agile movements, along with her streamline form wrapped in hunter’s habit would conjure the image of the lethal but elegant cheetah in one’s mind.
If not for Alchemist’s preference of real cheetah organs over a beautiful girl as agile as one, he might well have made an attempt.
It was at that very moment that the barrier that denies all intruders around Hub Accrafa vanished instantly, just as the gates that closed as soon as Priest entered reopened.
A figure, covered in Restoration Beam and about to fall, appeared by the main entrance.
The quickest to react, however, was Sol. She subconsciously darted toward the figure, while Hub Accrafa did not deny her entry as its barrier had been dispelled. Therefore, the elven girl arrived before Priest even as he was about to faint, hurriedly reaching out to hold him up.
The expedition members followed right after Sol, appearing intent on helping Priest up as well—but were rejected.
“Don’t come too close… There’re all kinds of surging information flow in the Restoration Beam now. It’s dangerous!”
Priest was much more spirited, perhaps because of his companions’ presence. “Stop lingering outside and hurry in,” he then called weakly as he leaned on the main gates. “I’ve obtained the clearance for the Hub!”
With that, he turned and returned inside the Hub. The other five looked at each other for a moment before hurrying after him.
“Clark, Wayne, Constantine, Said, and Sol. Now’s not the time for jokes—all that I’m about to say are true.”
Priest spoke rather hoarsely the instant they entered the Hub. “Unlike what we imagined, this isn’t a Glorious Era ruin built on this world, but the entire world itself is a Glorious Era relic.”
“They created a whole world, and sealed an Evil God inside it!”
Naturally, Sol did not understand what Priest was saying. On the other four stared blankly for a while before trembling.
“Wha—what? You’re not kid…” Caster unwittingly tried to shake his head in doubt, but stopped himself short after recalling what his leader insisted at the very start.
Beside him, Clergy, Rider and Alchemist had wonderful expressions too.
Priest, meanwhile, had activated the automated navigational system, transporting everyone to the central zone of the Hub with the sprinting energy shield. “Sixty-seven hundred years ago, nine Glorious Era Legendary champions captured a weak and injured Evil God,” he said briskly and solemnly, “amongst them is an Apostle of the Sage. With the power of the Sage and the gods, she then created a world to restrain it.”
“Wait. Sixty-seven hundred years ago?!”
At that, Mage, the most learned amongst them could not help speaking out as well. “But wasn’t that battle just over a thousand years ago? Moreover, if the Evil God really could be maimed, why not destroy it entirely?”
“Time’s not absolute. It’s relative.”
Priest turned toward Caster, his voice tired. He had just obtained substantial knowledge from the data vault about Glorious Era and learned that it was not impossible, and patiently answered his companion’s other question. “There’s a simple reason why that Evil God is not destroyed—it benefits the Glorious Era more alive.”
“This Evil God can convert Chaos to Order and vice versa.”
In the dark night sky beyond Hub Accrafa, nine scarlet moons flickered in unusual illumination. The corpses of dead Behemoths were squirming slowly and unusually—huge pieces of flesh and blood were dropping from their wounds, falling toward the quaking world.
The blood and flesh of the nine moons contained the thick scent of Chaos, with the blood turning into a bloody rain that poured over most of the world and equally covering most of the lands. But unusually, the veins of Chaos ripples arose from the ground too—withering all substances and decreasing power. In the instant both Chaos forces that were remarkably similar but actually different came into contact on the ground, each withered the other, dispelling and turning into a turbid flow of mud that raged across the earth.
The flesh of the nine moons that were far larger than ever before fell from the skies as if mountains, suppressing the lithosphere that kept wiggling without ceasing and holding down the indescribable thing beneath the land. The vague dark mist that appeared fearsome and frightening, filled with squirming tentacles and appendages gradually turned into pure Steel Strength form after both Chaos forces mutually withered, and deteriorated into normal particles.
The blood rain and the Behemoth flesh without stopping, stirring terrible tremors on the ground. All at once, apart from places protected by a Mother Lifetree, very region very assault, and yet there was no adverse outcome from the horrible invasion of Chaos.
The soils became fertile, mountains arose one after another as the stone layer of the world hardened. Powerful Chaos forces, weakened by Chaos had in turn been converted to initial Order, the frame of Steel Strength.
“There’s no historical records of the Evil God called ‘Wither’. Only partial data of it existed in Hub Accrafa.”
Outside the Control Room, Priest opened the three crystal doors as he spoke quietly. “Its power is to wither all things. Uranium would decay into lead, lead would degrade into metallic stone. Powerful mana would gradually weaken, turning into fundamental elements and ether—a process that would have taken ten billion years reduced to an instant by the Evil God of wither.”
“No shield could block its attack, and not attack can harm its true form. All stalwart defenses and powerful offensives are fragile things before it as time passes, and it could even grow inversely to time, briefly reducing powerful Legendary champions into juveniles.”
At that, the three crystal doors had opened. Priest casted a sideway glance at Sol who did not understand a thing but still listened seriously, saying softly, “Wisdom, civilization and the ability to think is certainly no exception… the Evil God of wither could affect the embodiment of memories, losing knowledge and causing civilization to decline—even the motivation to think would be lost, finally reducing clusters of dead meat, instinctive or perhaps not even.”
“Glorious Era itself only discovered the fact over a thousand years later… and it was too late by then.
“Hey, isn’t that just invincible?!” Rider exclaimed in astonishment as he followed Priest into the control room. “How could a powerful Evil God of such ruthless power be caught and sealed?!”
“In truth, Wither is not that powerful.” Priest replied slowly as he sat on the control seat again and issued a command to Hub Accrafa. “It might even be very weak—less than ten Legends could force it into retreat, meaning that it might be weaker than the Evil God of Air. A powerful ability doesn’t mean it is strong in itself—Wither is fundamentally unformidable and unable to perfectly present its uniqueness.
“Moreover, its own ability has an effect on itself.”
Priest sighed and shook his head then. “The power of Chaos eroding itself, diminishing Chaos itself and becoming a weird power, a middle ground between Chaos and Order.”
“And that power can be converted into Steel Strength that creates worlds.”
Flame burns Chaos, forging it into Steel. Steel gives births to all things bringing life and death, rust in passing. Ashes would spread into the Void, Chaos reassembling while Flame birthed amidst the embers, a repetitive cycle that moves without end.
Everyone of the Elite Party thus remembered the inscription carved upon the core building of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds.
The Initial Flame ignited the Chaotic Void, turning it into primitive Steel Strength which gathered and become all worlds and all things.
But if it existed, it would perish. All things certainly would live and die, just as worlds would—after they had perished, the husk of worlds would reform amidst the Chaos, just as the Flame would reignite from the ashes and create worlds once more. Such is the cycle of the Multiverse: a cycle that never rests.
The Evil God of Wither weakened itself, accelerating the process of ashes recombining by who-knows-how-many-times.
None would know how to convert Chaos into Order because no beings could observe the nirvana as life in the Multiverse ended—or, at least, it was the case for this Multiverse that was estimated to be sixteen hundred million years old.
And yet the Evil God of Wither did it.
It granted the opportunity for the Glorious Era to unravel the mystery of Chaos-Order conversion.
“I never actually understood.”
Clergy, who had been quiet all the while spoke out with his gaze lowered at the metal floorboards. “If our forebears of the Glorious Era believed that the cycle of Order and Chaos is so natural,” he said with a puzzled voice, “why then would there be Evil Gods?”
“After worlds were devastated and all things fell to Chaos, the extinguished Flame would reignite from the ashes… it is a perfect cycle, but Evil Gods are not. It wields Chaos powers and yet moved with Order, destroying countless worlds and civilizations just like a harvester… or perhaps accelerating the cycle of Chaos and Order.
“…Who knows? Do not guess about the Chaos.”
Priest said nothing for a while before shaking his head. “We’re just an ordinary expedition team, and thinking is merely troubling ourselves. Compared to that, we have much more important things to do.”
At those words, Priest controlled Hub Accrafa and issued the last order. “Anti-Chaos Field… commence purification at all areas!”
All of Hub Accrafa whirled with a rumble at once at his command. Starting from the silver metal mountain, boundless energies adrift in the air were extracted, gathered and converted at the peak into a cluster of colorless, transparent ripples. Its presence stopped the berserk aberrations to stop attacking each other, while incomparable presence gathered above Hub Accrafa.
In the very next instant, the ripples shattered: a fantastical ripple, as if a tidal wave, engulfed regions hundreds of miles away.
Suddenly, Sol, who had been standing beside Priest wailed in anguish, half-kneeling and dropping her bow. Priest quickly moved to carry her when he realized it, but stopped when he remembered that he was still covered by the Restoration Beam and the cascading flow of information streams within.
He must not touch her.
But soon, as piles of black air left her wounds of Chaos corruption, Sol’s wails softened as she fainted.
Although the Chaos corruption on the girl’s back did not vanished entirely, it paled significantly.
“It’s fine. She’s just unconscious after the Chaos corruption on her backbone stimulated her nerves.
Beside her, Clergy did not force Sol up, and merely used Holy Light to check her body. He then took out a blanket to cover her after getting the elf to lie down in a better, before turning to Priest.
“Weird. Why would those elves conduct those sacrificial rituals if the Hub has a purification barrier?”
“Its energy consumption is too great. A few dying is more cost-efficient than reactivating the Anti-Chaos Field.”
“Then why would you suddenly use it….”
“Because there’s no ‘after’—how long do you want to stay here?’
As he replied Clergy with another question, Priest decided not to revive the elven girl after taking a look at her. He simply turned silently and used Hub Accrafa to observe the distant elven settlements—the purification field would easily calm the beast swarm that was about to ignite while enshrouding the settlement.
“Sol… and not just you but the entire Overwatch Tribe…”
He whispered, his gaze filled with determination.
‘All of you should not be staying in this world, in this prison… Your kind had been wardens for sixty-seven hundred years, and should not slowly become monitored inmates here.
‘I would take you to see wider worlds, and bring home these elves, as well as the bones of those who had sacrificed themselves, to their homeland.’
Then, he issued a second order to Hub Accrafa.
“Activate extradimensional communications system—commence full-frequency transmitting!”
In the distance.
Both the World Fleet and Joshua shuddered at once.
“… Coordinates… Chaos alert… emergency situation… hurry…”
Listening silently as the message that was carried by dimensional ripples and was barely degraded by Chaos, Joshua could not hold back a laugh.
“Those kids. Interesting.”
It appears that they could transmit a message back to Mycroft even if he and the others did not search for them, freeing themselves from their detainment.
Beside him, the Nature’s Magister who had been finding the source of Chaos ripples asked curiously “What is it? A message from the missing expedition?”
“That’s right. It’s from them.”
Joshua nodded slightly after studying it for a while and completely gathering every message within the broadcast region. “But it’s not fine as I had imagined,” he said, grimacing, “to be precise, it’s very bad.”
“They are at the same place as the source of Chaos presence—they are right beside the Evil God!”