Book 5, Chapter 32

An End And A Beginning

Lying on his back waiting to be consumed by the victor of the radiant battle nearby, Richard’s hand slowly crawled up to his pocket and stroked the destiny crystal within. However, he couldn’t muster up the strength to actually break it. In the past, this crystal had given him boundless courage that let him do whatever he wanted; now, however, he hadn’t even thought of it when he charged at Ensio.

‘Right…’ His head slowly turned, catching a glimpse of milky white flashing amidst the darkness of the nightmare creatures. An angry roar rang out as countless rays of piercing energy dug through the veil of shadows, revealing Ensio’s wound-covered body for a moment. The legendary mage was suddenly engulfed by white flames, turning into a shooting star that headed straight for the portal.

*BOOOOM!* A fiery explosion shook the terrace of the Deepblue, a raging ball of flames starting to expand upwards from the location of the portal. In a mere instant it was thousands of feet wide, the bottom shaving a few dozen centimetres off the Deepblue’s crown.

The grand mages watching shuddered in fear at the sight. Only Richard realised that these flames seemed to burn a little cold, but that sensation was quickly cut off as a resplendent barrier encased him.

It took an entire minute for the flames to die down. Ensio eventually stretched his curled-up body, face ashen while his nearly-colourless eyes spat new fires of rage. The robe had vanished, revealing enormous gashes all across his body. One could finally see some natural armour protecting the most sensitive of areas, but even that had been chipped.

However, the battle had not ended yet. A few nightmare creatures were still cowering all around the Deepblue, some alive due to sheer luck and others because they were the strongest of their kind. Ensio spewed a few expletives in their direction before lunging towards them, starting to wipe them out. By the time it was all over, his wounds were regurgitating deep black blood.

The flesh around Ensio’s wounds was constantly wriggling, a testament to his great regenerative abilities. However, it only meant that the injuries wouldn’t deteriorate; with such concentrated shadowforce now flowing through his veins, healing was near impossible. His aura had weakened greatly, black smoke constantly wafting off his innumerable injuries until he was almost impossible to see.

However, his imposing presence hadn’t diminished in the slightest. The grand mages appeared on the terrace one by one, staring at him in disbelief, but not one of them dared to take action despite his great injuries. His icy glare made it clear that trying to take advantage of the situation would not end well.

Ensio grunted, disregarding them completely as he walked up to Richard. His hand passed straight through the barrier as he grabbed Richard by the neck and raised him up, “ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE?”

Richard instinctively shut his eyes, refusing to speak a single word.

“WHAT? DO YOU THINK I WON’T KILL YOU?” Ensio seethed, but Richard still didn’t respond.

*Thud!* Ensio’s expression changed constantly, but at one point he just snorted and slammed Richard face-first into the floor. When Richard staggered up, his face was full of blood with his forehead busted wide open. The nose had almost been crushed.

However, Richard just silently wiped away the blood on his face and eyes.

*Thud!* Ensio grabbed Richard and slammed him into the ground once again. This time, there was even more blood.

*Thud! Thud! Thud…* The treatment continued for a long time…

……

It was currently evening. A two-legged wyvern took flight from the Deepblue, quickly making its way towards Faust. Richard was strewn across its back, using all his strength to make sure he wouldn’t fall over.

The frosty wind left his numerous injuries seething with pain. It only took a few minutes for him to lose all feeling in his arms and legs, relying purely on instinct to hold on. His body was frozen stiff, but his face was scorching with pain and humiliation.

“So what if you have some fight in you? It just got me a little more excited!”

“You useless bastard! I’m going to kick you all I want, what will you do about it?”

“The worst potential of all of Master’s students got the most of her attention? You absolute disgrace!”

“You wanted to save her with your paltry abilities? A hundred of you would be worth nothing! What, you thought you’d just die with the enemies? Do you really think you’re worth that much?”

“Let’s see what she sees in you after I crush your face, pretty boy!”

“What are you smiling for? You think you’re being courageous? Without the strength to even fight back? Pathetic!”

Countless insults were constantly ringing in his ears, drowning out the fierce winds. Through all the dizziness, pain, and confusion, the strongest blow had been to his faith in himself. He had always been proud of his courage, willpower, and fortitude. Now, these qualities seemed completely meaningless.

‘What would that man do?’ he suddenly thought to himself. However, the thought seemed to come to reality as he suddenly saw Gaton standing before him, still caressing that infamous short beard as he laughed, “I would’ve beaten the shit out of him!”

Richard couldn’t help but feel his blood boil at that reply. However, another question immediately plagued his mind: what about when he didn’t have that ability.

“That’s your problem, you rascal. Think about why you’re so incompetent, I was never that useless!” Gaton said with disdain.

However, their abilities were too far apart. Courage, will, fortitude… were they really not enough?

“Who said that? What kind of Archeron are you, feeling humiliated on the verge of death? I spent my entire life on the frontlines, both the commander and the talisman of our power! You took over the family but you can’t even do such a simple thing?!”

Right! Was Ensio even right? Didn’t he leave the so-called legendary mage severely injured too? The thought suddenly snapped Richard to awareness. He struggled and opened his eyes, but glancing ahead all he could see was the dark curtain of the night.

There was no sign of his father at all.

He had no idea whether he would see another trace in his life. He had been determined to explore the depths of the abyss if that was what it took, but after facing Ensio that seemed like a distant dream.

Still, that man could still guide him even from beyond the grave. Even if he didn’t want to, he was constantly emulating Gaton as he grew up. It was only now that Richard started to understand his mother’s mindset. She had hated Gaton more than anything in her life, but couldn’t help but be proud of him as well. And now, he was growing into the same state of mind.

The wyvern was completely oblivious to the wandering thoughts of its rider, just continuing to fly into the night sky.

……

Ensio was stood alone on top of the Deepblue, the clouds floating all around him. Having stared in Richard’s direction for an unknown length of time, he eventually heaved a deep sigh and muttered to himself, “This is the boy you like? Not bad at all…”

It was late into the night, but Ensio remained standing there without moving. He knew Sharon’s enemies were coming soon.

Sharon’s residence was covered in magic arrays that would allow one to be isolated for a certain period of time. However, Voidbones had selfishly destroyed the Mirror of a Thousand Forms, breaking these enchantments. The enemies that would only find out years later were now certainly on their way. Compared to them, the Legion of Nightmares was nothing.

Ensio also knew he would not survive this battle. However, he simply did not care. Richard wasn’t the only one of Sharon’s students who could sacrifice his life for her.

In fact, he was quite happy that he had left a mark in the Deepblue before entering the Realm of No Beginning. He had gone to search for his own origin, to find the source of his existence, but now he understood that none of it mattered.

He knew he should have been confused, perhaps even scared. However, he couldn’t find any words to express his current feelings. A seemingly endless time spent wandering the void had forced him to make friends with himself, but in such a crucial time all he could do was laugh.

The blanket of grey covering the Deepblue suddenly started to shift, opening up a gap that allowed the beautiful blue light of the night through. It seemed almost like an ethereal moment, pure and serene.

However, Ensio knew that the time had come.

*ROAR!* An earth-shattering scream rang through Floe Bay as a ball of milky white light shot up from the Deepblue, crashing right into the source of the blue light. The two lights then merged together, ripping a hole in space itself before vanishing from existence. The clouds thus enveloped the bay once more, as though nothing had happened.

The battle was that simple.

Ensio remained standing atop the Deepblue, raising his head to look towards the battle that had just taken place. There was an odd emptiness in his eyes, but also satisfaction. He had done all that he could, fulfilling his glorious destiny.

He looked down at himself, realising that he was slowly fading away. The Deepblue under him turned dim, all colour washing out from the world before it crumbled apart. It was then that he realised he was looking at a memory, a mere shadow of what he had left behind.

This was the path to the origin of everything.

“Richard… Why do I have to be a hero? Go, the future is yours to carve…” he murmured as he slowly faded away.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA