Chapter 170 - Chapter 33: Victory #2
At the lake shore, a white boat was waiting for In-gong’s party. It was wide and long, but it was a transportation ship, so it didn’t have a roof.
Only one person was on the boat. Moriyu climbed onto the boat first and bowed politely. In-gong understood intuitively as to what she meant: only In-gong’s companions could visit the Dragon Temple.
The 61 lizardmen were In-gong and Felicia’s escorts. By requesting for them not to enter the temple, it could be interpreted as being rude. However, In-gong didn’t mind. If the Dragon Temple was plotting something, then he would just destroy the conspiracy.
Looking back at Felicia, it seemed like she also understood the general situation. She agreed with a wink and climbed onto the boat first. Then she was followed by Delia, Karma, Carack, and finally In-gong.
The lizardmen realized belatedly that they couldn’t visit the Dragon Temple. They were upset but chose to wait on the shore instead of making a fuss. They respected the authority of the Dragon Temple and were also faithful to In-gong and Felicia.
The boat carrying In-gong’s group moved quickly despite having no sails. After moving 100 meters, they arrived at the Dragon Temple where several priests in hoods were waiting.
"Drakon Kechatulla, we greet the Great Dragon Warrior.”
The priests removed their hoods and greeted the party. Looking at them, In-gong could understand why ordinary lizardmen called the priests of the Dragon Temple as ‘those who were closer to dragons’.
The male priests were one or two heads taller than ordinary lizardmen, and their scales were bigger and thicker. The female priests were beautiful like Moriyu. Each time they moved, their scales seemed to shine.
"The high priest is waiting for you inside."
A male priest, who acted as the representative, said politely to them. The priests acted like they were facing the dragon warrior, rather than the royal family of the Demon World. The priests’ interest was focused solely on In-gong. Rather than complaining about that fact, Felicia urged In-gong on. She wanted to enter the temple quickly.
“Please guide me.”
In-gong refrained from laughing as he instructed them, causing all the priests to get up at once. Despite their big size, their steps were light. When they got closer, the temple itself looked like a huge dragon. The white plates attached to the outside of the temple looked like dragon scales. Inside the temple, the ceiling was high and simple, and it shone like bright, white light in the sun.
Moriyu and the priests continued straight ahead, and a big room soon emerged in their sights. There was cold water flowing along the rim of the room, with a small waterfall on both walls. Felicia let out a sound of admiration as soon as she entered the big room. However, it wasn’t just due to the sacred feeling of the room. Felicia’s gaze was sparkling with curiosity as she gazed at the lizardman in the middle of the room.
"The high priest greets Drakon Kechatulla. I would also like to greet you, Princess of the Demon King’s Palace.”
Felicia was the first to bow to the high priest. She had a bright smile on her face.
"I am delighted to meet the descendant of the great dragon.”
Felicia said elegantly. In-gong agreed with Felicia’s words in his heart.
‘It is real.’
The lizardmen claimed to be descendants of a dragon, but they were very different in comparison to the draconians.
However, the high priest was different. Wings sprouted from his back, making him look much more like a dragon than the draconians, who had a human-like appearance. It was enough to make one believe he was a polymorphic dragon, instead of a lizardmen.
The high priest was an old man, and the deep look in his eyes proved that.
"Drakon Kechatulla, the great dragon warrior. I would like to speak plainly. You are here because I have something to tell you.”
The high priest didn’t waste time with unnecessary rhetoric. Among the lizardmen, he was particularly gigantic. He stared into In-gong’s eyes and said,
"A few days ago, the dragon warrior awakened the Giant King's Sword. Thanks to this old body, I can finally be sure that the dragon warrior is back after a long period of time.”
"High Priest, do you have a Giant King's Sword here?”
Felicia asked. The high priest shook his head.
"The dragon warrior only had one Giant King's Sword. Instead, there is something which can be called the brother of the Giant King's Sword. It is this.”
Like In-gong and Felicia, the high priest was dressed in golden ornaments, and he lifted up something which was hanging from his waist. It was a beautifully painted horn.
"This is the Dragon’s Horn. Just like the Giant King's Sword, it has the power to rule the lizardmen. It has been sleeping for a long time until it woke up a few days ago."
There were several large gems embedded in the horn, and the gem on the Giant King's Sword shone with a similar light.
"Great Dragon Warrior, you may wonder why these things exist and why they respond to the dragon warrior. From now on, I will tell you everything I know.”
The high priest took breathed deeply for a moment. Then his gaze looked far away, like he was engrossed in his memories.
"The giants were divided into three during the turbulence of time and lost their traditions. We lizardmen have also forgotten most of the traditions and our mission after so many years. I am the only one who can remember, just barely, some things that occurred in the past.”
It hadn’t been a thousand years; it was much longer than that.
"Drakon Kechatulla, the warrior who fought against the evil red serpent god... The giants and lizardmen were created to help the dragon warrior. These species were born to fight the evil red serpent god.”
Felicia said suddenly. The swamp mammoths they’d had to fight when they faced the Red Lightning tribe were treasures of the Great Enkidu, and the swamp mammoths lived with the lizardmen.
The high priest smiled.
"You can say that they are like treasures, just on a larger scale. The lizardmen and giants were made by the ancient dragon.”
"Are you talking about the elder dragons?”
The high priest shook his head at Felicia’s question.
"I don’t know for certain. However, the creation of the lizardmen and giants happened at least 10,000 years ago. The elder dragons known today aren’t that old.”
10,000 years... That was a large unit of time. Once again, Felicia asked hurriedly,
"High Priest, do you know about the indigenous species?”
"They certainly existed. But they disappeared 10,000 years ago. Their civilization was destroyed by the wicked red serpent god.”
This was the first time In-gong had heard this story, but he was convinced that it was true. Ruins of the indigenous species could be found all over the Demon World, and such large destruction wouldn’t occur naturally.
"But you can rest assured. The red serpent god has disappeared. It is thanks to the work of the indigenous species and the great dragon warrior.”
There was a kind smile on the face of the high priest. He looked proud of his ancestors. In-gong asked,
"High Priest, what is the dragon warrior?”
"The dragon warrior refers to a person with the heart and soul of a dragon—an agent of the sacred dragons to maintain the world.”
In-gong currently had a dragon heart because of Ainkel, but according to the words of the high priest, people like In-gong existed 10,000 years ago.
“High Priest, do you know about the Four Knights of the Apocalypse?”
The high priest’s eyes sharpened at the question, and he expressed a fierce hostility.
"They are called the riders of destruction—the unique people who fought with the evil red serpent god. Dragon Warrior, can you take this?”
The high priest handed over a ring. The ring was made out of platinum and embedded with a blue gem.
"This is something that one of the elder dragons, the Recorder Torres, left at the Dragon Temple 1,000 years ago.”
In-gong received the ring. Then miraculously, the size of the ring was reduced to fit In-gong’s finger.
Felicia said in a somewhat uneasy voice. However, In-gong smiled reassuringly at her. The ring was a relic of an elder dragon. Until now, the relics of the other elder dragons had accepted In-gong as soon as he touched them. It was as though they had been waiting to be conquered.
In-gong exchanged one final glance with Carack before putting the ring on his index finger. At that moment, he heard a man’s voice in his head.
'I am the Recorder Torres.’
In-gong was in the dark, and he heard the voice coming down from a high place. He raised his head and saw a huge dragon’s head with beautiful white scales.
'The magic was triggered, just like with Ainkel.’
In-gong sensed it intuitively. This wasn’t a conversation. It was a one-sided notification, like a recorded video. Torres's voice continued speaking,
'There isn’t a lot to tell. I don’t know how long it has been or what is going on. Therefore, this story will be brief. Many thousand years ago, the civilizations, which had been rooted in the Demon World, were destroyed. The records were destroyed and history was lost. It was an evil red serpent god who destroyed the world. The Red Dragon of the Apocalypse— The beast who sings for the end of days.’
The ground started burning, and a huge presence emerged. It was a red dragon with seven heads and ten horns. The presence of the red dragon itself was a huge catastrophe. Just by spreading its wings open, it seemed to cover the sky, like a shadow bringing death to the earth.
‘The fight from thousands of years ago ended with failure. The Red Dragon died as well. But it was difficult to say that it was a victory. Civilization was destroyed, and only a handful of species were left to build up a civilization again. The preceding elder dragons were wiped out. So, the world had to be built up from scratch again.’
No species had a history longer than 10,000 years. The oldest records belonged to the dark elves who had only preserved 7,000 years. The elder dragons were all dead, and there was a new generation of six elder dragons. They were the six elder dragons whom In-gong knew.
'And yet, they remained.’
In the darkness, there were four flames of different colours. The white Conquest, the red War, blue Death, and black Famine.
‘They are called the Four Riders of the Apocalypse... Those who craved for the end of the world along with the red dragon.’
They didn’t disappear. It was only the red dragon who was gone.
‘The elder dragons, including myself, knew that the other riders would always be back. Finally, they returned after thousands of years.’
Torres showed some records of the past, and In-gong sensed that it was 1,000 years in the past.
‘Violent Kaltein was the first to suffer a fatal injury. It was due to an attack from one of the strongest and fiercest of the four riders, War. With only one fight, Kaltein lost almost all of his power.’
In-gong remembered Kaltein’s lair. There was evidence of fighting where the language of the indigenous species was carved.
‘The next one attacked was Watcher Ainkel. But her case was different from Kaltein.’
‘Conquest. She was in the fight.’
Torres’ voice was filled with emotion, but it wasn’t hatred toward the enemy.
‘I fought with Ainkel against Conquest and War. It was a fierce battle, but we were finally defeated. I suffered a fatal injury, and Ainkel couldn’t avoid dying. But shortly before dying, Ainkel said something to me. I could also feel it in the course of the fight. Conquest didn’t want the destruction of the world. She didn’t want civilization to be erased from the world once again. Conquest mourned the destruction from thousands of years ago.’
In-gong’s heart throbbed. The appearance of the white woman, deep in his soul, came to his mind. It felt like when he was fighting the Famine Knight.
‘The Great Enkidu didn’t believe Ainkel and my words. The Cruel Talia also said that we were misled by the wicked enemies. Just as we want to protect the world, the riders want to bring about the end. It is their instinct.’
The record which remained at Thunderdoom Fortress... The four riders were going against the six elder dragons.
‘But I wanted to believe it. No, I had to believe it.’
Ainkel had faced Conquest head on. Torres himself felt the Conquest’s sorrow. Torres took a deep breath, then he spoke with heavy fatigue,
‘Soon, there will be a big fight. It is a big fight between the elder dragons and the Four Riders of the Apocalypse. I will face Conquest in that fight. And with the soul of Ainkel by my side, I will free Conquest.’
That fight had been 1,000 years ago. And since that fight, the elder dragons had disappeared from the world. The Great Enkidu abandoned his lair, and the Cruel Talia disappeared. The Guardian Queian faded into the background of history.
'I will need to risk my life. Maybe I’ll fail, but I think it is worth it.’
Torres smiled. That smile was really warm, and it resembled that of Watcher Ainkel’s.
‘I don’t know what happened later. I am a recorder. Thus, although I know the past and present, it is impossible to get a glimpse of the future which has infinite possibilities. But I will make a prediction.’
Torres gazed at the sky as his voice shook the entire world.
‘This record won’t be transmitted to anyone else. But I also hope that it will be transmitted. If this record isn’t transmitted, then it means the first fight against the Riders of the Apocalypse ended in our complete victory or our elder dragons were defeated. The fact that this record was passed on means that Conquest was liberated from her fate of ending the world.’
Torres looked at In-gong again. However, Torres was no longer a huge dragon. He was now a white haired youth wearing loose robes.
‘Conquest Knight, the fact that this record was communicated means that the fight didn’t end in either side’s victory. The fight between the Four Riders of the Apocalypse and the elder dragons has been postponed to the future.’
That was indeed the case. After a thousand years, the knights who followed the will of the Riders of the Apocalypse had appeared.
‘Conquest Knight... one who wants to maintain the world, not one who craves the end. Even if the gamble is successful, I don’t know what Conquest’s state will be. Maybe she can’t even communicate properly with you. Gather the equipment of the elder dragons. Become a Conquest Knight and Dragon Warrior. The fight in the future won’t be a direct confrontation between the riders and the elder dragons but a fight between the Knights of the Apocalypse and the dragon warriors. If you have the strength of both then you can surpass the other Knights of the Apocalypse.’
In-gong could understand this, and he now realized...
The reason why the equipment of the elder dragons had been conquered as though they had been waiting for him, and the reason why Ainkel’s soul and dragon heart embraced In-gong. This was the process of becoming a Conquest Knight and Dragon Warrior.
‘It is time. This is the last record. Conquest Knight, I pray for your victory. And Conquest, I will be fighting you soon.’
Torres stared at In-gong and saw the white woman within In-gong. Although it was just a recording and there was no interaction between the two, In-gong could feel Torres’ gaze. The white woman was no different.
‘I hope you have been freed from your prison. Don’t be sad anymore.’
Torres smiled. In-gong felt the emotions of the white woman; sadness and joy flared up violently within him. Then the young man disappeared, and beyond the darkness, there was a huge white dragon.
'I am the Recorder Torres. My record will end here.’
Torres turned back and vanished into the darkness.
However, In-gong was able to see it—Conquest’s memory. She recalled Torres’ end. He had smiled at Conquest until the end. Watcher Ainkel and the Recorder Torres... They were the ones who had liberated Conquest.
[The level of Conquest has risen.]
[The level of Conquest Knight has risen.]
[Armament has been acquired.]
[Dragon Warrior Lv1 has been learnt.]
[Dragon Words Lv1 has been learnt.]
In-gong closed his eyes and listened to the voice of the white woman from deep in his soul.
The War Knight looked at a deep hole in the ground.
It was a place which the species of the Demon World called outside the limit line. The area outside the limit line was an abandoned land which used to belong to the indigenous species.
The War Knight laughed, and it was like the fire of War. In front of the War Knight, there was the body of a huge white dragon. It didn’t seem dead, and the War Knight knew its name.
He had directly witnessed the fight 1,000 years ago. Since that day, the dragon had been a hateful enemy he would never forget. Since the War Knight first awoke again, he had been searching for it.
The War Knight could feel the emotions of War, and like the red flames, she sang with a violent anger.
The Recorder Torres, the cursed elder dragon who had corrupted Conquest... For a moment, he had tricked her into being sympathetic toward her enemies.
Conquest was the leader of the riders. The riders had lost her and scattered. Even now, after they had woken up again, War was separate from Death and Famine. She could only feel them dimly. It was a terrible feeling of loss. The biggest sadness was that Conquest was no longer with them.
Then the War Knight discovered that his apostles had vanished and that the Conquest Knight had intervened.
The War Knight had been with War for over 1,000 years. Therefore, it was fair to argue that the War Knight was War.
The Recorder Torres’ soul had died 1,000 years ago on that day. The body before him now was just a shell.
War caused a huge fire which burnt Torres’ body. The War Knight stared at the flames and went into deep thought.
Death’s plan was underway. It wouldn’t be long until the separate pieces of the plan that the Death Knight had laid out carefully would come into fruition.
The War Knight left the hole.
He stepped beyond the Northern Limit Line toward the land where the Death Knight was located.
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