Book 1, Chapter 72

Wish

Richard hadn’t expected that the volcano in the centre of the island was actually the ancestral cemetery of the Archeron Family.

Following Gaton out of the back door of the castle, Richard stepped onto the volcano. He immediately felt a gentle fluctuation in the surrounding space, as without warning the lush green forest around them was replaced by red and black. The fresh warm air disappeared, replaced by a strong stench of sulphur. The blue sky was covered by dense grey clouds, the parts that did remain visible being tinted a fiery red. The signature pleasant warmth of Faust had been replaced with blazing heat. It was hard for even Richard to bear, almost as if the air would spark in a moment and set his hair and skin ablaze.

The entire volcano was composed of charcoal-black volcanic rock, with a single meandering path leading to the crater at the centre. The volcano itself wasn’t just spouting smoke dormantly anymore, instead shaking in its entirety from time to time. One could see huge amounts of fire and smoke from the crater rolling into the sky, merging into the dense clouds.

The main body of the volcano was no longer a mere fifty metres tall, instead near a kilometre high. Hot lava spurted out of the crater on occasion, seeping past its edges and flowing down like a river of fire. Trickling down slowly, some of the lava solidified en route, morphing into a part of the mountain altogether.

What was most unusual was that even though the volcano was trembling non-stop and lava came spilling ever so often, all other parts of the mountain except the fire, smoke and lava river remained completely unchanged, without a single loose or ruptured rock.

Richard combed through his memory, recognising that he’d been taught about such things in preparatory magic classes; this was a place with spatial properties. However, Richard was stunned the moment he realised this— the biggest example he’d read of was the Lost Paradise, but the entirety of that was as big as one of the larger laboratories in the Deepblue. And yet the towering volcano in front of him was more than a thousand metres tall, making it impossible for him to imagine how it was built from scratch. Looking at the scale and frequency of its spurts, Richard was sure the interior of the mountain was connected to at least one plane of the fire element, if it didn’t actually just contain half a plane within. Or perhaps this was a miracle from some god.

On both sides of the uneven path were tombstones of different sizes, erected upon the dark black rock. The graves looked rather strange, Both sides of the path was lined unevenly with the volcanic body, with tombstones of different sizes erected on the dark black rocks. However, the graves looked rather strange, with only the tombstones and no protrusions underneath. As well, there were at most a few hundred of them on the entire volcano, located sparsely apart. He also noticed that there were fewer the closer one got to the mouth. Although the Archerons didn’t have a very long history, even the several hundred years they did have would give easily give them tens of thousands of dead members. And surely, given the size of the volcano it would be able to more than a hundred thousand total.

Richard silently trailed behind Gaton, continuing to climb uphill. He found that the volcano was actually roughly divided into five levels, the number of tombs on each level fewer than the last. The inscriptions upon the tombs ranged from simple names to more elaborate descriptions and well-wishes for the deceased.

It wasn’t long before they were standing at the edge of the crater, lava less than ten metres ahead of them with hot air blasting into their faces so hard it was difficult for Richard to even open his eyes. This was the highest layer of the Archeron family tombs, the place his mother wanted to be her final resting place.

There were only six tombstones altogether here, spread out in a large area. The tombstones themselves were made of solidified black lava, with no ornaments or additional carvings on the tombstones as if they were just naturally formed cuboids. This level didn’t list the lifetime achievements of the deceased like there were in the last few levels. No, there were only names here; unusually long names, written in a script Richard had never seen before.

Richard started reciting the names softly as soon as he saw them, as if a power deep within him gave him an innate ability to recognise the writing at first glance. He could feel every drop of blood in his body trembling as he read the words aloud, jumping along with every syllable he uttered. Every name seemed to contain an immeasurable strength, leading Richard to feel as though something buried deep within him was being awakened from its slumber.

As if he were possessed, Richard read the names on all six of the tombstones once through before jolting back into reality, as though he just woke up from a dream. Gaton nodded at the sight, remarking, “Not bad! Your blood is extremely pure. Maybe you will be able to come to rest right here in the future, returning to the lands of our ancestors.”

Richard was still reeling from the shock, distant desolate roars still echoing in his ears. It was as though an ancient existence was within his reach, shouting across time and space without rest. He scanned the six tombstones again with trepidation, although this time he didn’t dare say their names aloud again.

“Here lie the six strongest and most formidable Archerons. They fully understood the secrets lying deep in their blood, and awakened the true ancient bloodline within them. That gave them a truename that belonged to them and them alone.

“Amongst them were extremely talented geniuses, who owned their truenames since they were young and weak. Most of them did not possess the gift from birth, however, and emerged as the strong only through battles of blood and fire.”

Gaton paused before continuing, “Truenames are the biggest secrets of every Archeron; they are the source of our strength. As you experienced just now, every truename possesses a great amount of power, each different from the other. Our truenames allow us to touch upon the laws of the plane. Although that touch may be so small it is undetectable, that touch is what allows us to ultimately understand these laws. Thus they give us great strength, and thus they are our biggest secrets. Once someone else learns our true name, they are in control of our life and death. All they have to do is say our truename out loud, and we will know the message they wish to convey. If they say it with the most malicious of curses, even an ordinary man with no special powers can remove all traces of us from the plane.”

Heart trembling with fear, Richard wondered, “If that is the case, why would we want others to know our truenames at all?”

Stroking his beard, Gaton laughed, “Oh, you brat! One day you’ll also probably meet someone you’re willing to reveal your truename to as well. It’ll allow you to immediately know whenever she thinks of you.”

Richard fell silent again. He recalled that his mother had once told him when he was very young that his father had a very, very long name.

Looking around this level of the cemetery, Richard could feel an immense invisible power coming from every tombstone, although there were only six lone tombstones in the wide area. With some difficulty, he asked, “Is this a burial spot only for Archerons with truenames?”

Gaton stared quietly at Richard, his gaze making Richard flustered as if his secrets were getting exposed. Just as Richard was breaking out in nervous sweat, Gaton said, “Only Archerons can be buried here. Upon my death, I will be the seventh.”

“What about people who are not Archerons?”

Gaton explained meaningfully, “Then they would need the approval of all the Archerons, including me. Richard, there is Archeron blood in you. This too shall be your resting place when you pass. Thus, you should know what getting the approval of the Archerons entails.”

Of course he knew. To get the approval of an Archeron, the easiest and most direct way was to defeat them. There was no other way around it. To fulfil his mother’s last wishes, Richard would have to defeat all the Archerons, including his father.

Including Gaton Isaiah Satanistoria Archeron.

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