The Great Temple of Life reminded him of a maze composed of trees and vines. Fireflies, which were about as large as his fist, lined the walls and ceiling, radiating dim light. Overall, the temple evoked a sense of mystery.
Waryong found the fireflies fascinating, so it tried to touch them, but Gainus smacked its head with his staff.
"Just sit still."
Waryong groaned, as if saying, 'Why are you picking on me!?'. However, Gainus didn't pay any attention to it.
"This way." The temple's protector, Ruinari, led Kang Oh's party to a large room.
Kang Oh and his party widened their eyes. The only ones who weren't shocked were Ruinari and Gainus.
[You have been granted an audience with the Protector of Life, Gracius.]
[Pay your respects!]
There was a giant bird within what looked like a nest. The Death Eagle, which Kang Oh had fought not too long ago, was quite large, but this bird was incomparably larger.
'It looks bigger than a dragon.'
It was definitely bigger than Bone Dragon Akite.
The bird's blue feathers were adorned with a spiral pattern, and its comb was shaped like a crown; it also had a golden beak, with flames covering its torso.
"Mother." Ruinari spread his wings and bowed. Gainus dropped his staff and did the same.
She was a bird worthy of the Divine Dragon's respect, so Kang Oh and his party quickly knelt onto the floor and bowed.
The bird slowly opened her clear blue eyes.
"It's been a while, Gainus."
She wasn't actually speaking; she was communicating telepathically.
"Indeed it has, Lady Gracius."
Gracius was the mother of all birds/Birdmen, and was the Protector of Life! She was Luhan's first disciple and companion. It was said that their union created the sky!
"You came without prior notice, so it must be important." Her voice was the textbook example of 'benevolent'.
"It has to do with the Mayanes," Gainus said respectfully.
"The Mayanes? What about them?"
"The Goddess of Death wishes for us to kill the Mayanes and collect the God of Creation's sources. She plans to revive the God of Creation, Maya."
"Please grant us permission to kill the two Mayanes sealed here."
"The Mayanes are outside my jurisdiction. Only Luhan can make a decision regarding them," Gracius said. Her voice was kind, but firm.
"Then please let us see Lord Luhan."
"Someone of your stature is perfectly qualified to meet Lord Luhan. But keep this in mind. Luhan hates any sort of discussion that involves killing others. Even if it has to do with the Mayanes, who performed an unforgivable sin."
"I'll keep that in mind," Gainus replied, and Gracius closed her eyes once more.
A short while later...
A pillar of light fell from the ceiling, and a giant of light appeared amidst the pillar. The God of Life, Luhan, had personally made an appearance.
Like Gracius, Luhan spoke telepathically.
"Greetings, Supreme One." Gainus knelt onto the floor, and his head touched the ground. Everyone else followed suit.
"Their crimes are severe, but killing them isn't the answer. I cannot allow you to kill them."
"Gathering Maya's sources and reviving him is also a mistake. After all, it was his actions that led to the Mayanes rebelling against us."
The God of Creation, Maya, had loved the Mayanes far too much. So much so that he named them after himself. Eventually, he made a fatal mistake. He gave his power to his creations!
Due to Maya's obsession, the Mayanes became increasingly arrogant, and ultimately, even dreamt of supplanting the gods themselves.
The other Primordial Gods sacrificed much, and were barely able to kill the Mayanes. Then, Maya sacrificed himself and revived the eight Mayanes that he loved the most.
With his power, the Mayanes became immortal, and the Primordial Gods were unable to kill them. Thus, they had no choice but to seal them away.
In other words, this was all due to Maya's misplaced love. Thus, Luhan didn't want Maya to be revived.
"If Maya is revived, then all of our efforts will go to waste. He will either revive the Mayanes, or create a 2nd or 3rd Mayanes. Once again, we will have to sacrifice much to stop him. Gainus, you led the dragons in the fight against the Mayanes. Don't you remember? How many tribes were lost in the battle against them?"
Gainus's face stiffened.
Originally, so many more dragons existed. However, they had almost gone extinct from the battle with the Mayanes, and now you could count how many were left with a single hand.
The gods gave the remaining dragons enough power to reign over all other species, and had also given Gainus eternal life so that he may watch over Mayanes Orga and Mayanes Jigon.
Anyhow, the fact of the matter was that Gainus had lost several friends. And if the Mayanes were revived, then the cycle would continue. That was Luhan's point.
"Supreme One, I understand what you're saying," Gainus said respectfully.
"Then why do you agree with Deborah?"
Before he could reply...
Cyndia's body suddenly radiated purple light. The light transformed into a veil, and a giant woman appeared behind it.
Kang Oh had seen this when he'd first met Deborah!
Both the God of Life, Luhan, and the Goddess of Death, Deborah, had come in person!
"Luhan." Deborah's calm, yet dignified voice rang out.
"Deborah." The light his giant body gave off intensified.
"The reason Gainus agrees with me is because he wants change."
"Me, you, Ulam, and Maya are the wheel that makes the world turn."
The God of Creation, Maya, created new things, while the God of Life, Luhan, breathed life into them. The Goddess of Death, Deborah, took life away, and the God of Destruction, Ulam, destroyed old things.
"But with Maya dead, we've completely stopped. The world has stopped changing ever since Maya's passing," Deborah added.
New living things couldn't be born without Maya. Pre-existing life was born and died in a repetitive cycle. The Arth continent hadn't changed for a long time. Indeed, the world had completely stopped.
"I understand what you and Gainus want. But I'm still against you killing the Mayanes and reviving Maya. Reviving Maya will just bring about another tragedy. Deborah, how many living beings died in the war with the Mayanes?"
Luhan still wasn't convinced.
"As you say, reviving Maya may cause the cycle to repeat, and it may bring about another tragedy. However, I believe this unchanging world is a far greater tragedy than the one you're alluding to."
"This world is tragic?" Luhan shook.
"That's right. You know better than I as the God of Life. Life equates to change. Death is just a process of life. As you say, stagnation is a tragedy. And I want this tragedy to end."
"..." Luhan remained silent. His light intensified and then died down repeatedly. It was clear that he was thinking about this.
Deborah remained quiet and patiently waited for Luhan's response.
How much time had passed? Eventually, Luhan spoke once more.
"Deborah, I'm still not sure about reviving Maya. However... I won't stop what you're doing. You're right. This unchanging world is a tragedy."
"Thanks for understanding."
Then, the purple veil disappeared. Obviously, the goddess's silhouette that had been behind it disappeared as well. At the same time, the giant of light transformed into a pillar of light and went back the way he came.
The only people left were the Protector of Life, Gracius, the Divine Dragon, Gainus, the Birdman, Ruinari, and Kang Oh's party.
"Lady Gracius," Gainus said.
"I know what you want to ask me. You want me to take you to Mayanes Jacques and Mayanes Kragon," she stared at Gainus and said.
"Hoo, I got it."
The giant bird's body suddenly diminished in size. Not only that, but her shape changed too. She retained her spiral patterned blue feathers, but she had transformed into a Birdman like Ruinari!
"Follow me," she said, and Gainus and Ruinari immediately stood up.
Kang Oh had been quietly watching the situation unfold with his mouth set in a tight line. He immediately stood up, and Eder, Sephiro, Cyndia, and Muhawk followed suit.
"I'm glad things went well," Eder whispered into his ear. He'd been uneasy throughout Deborah and Luhan's entire exchange.
Only by agreeing to kill the Mayanes did he gain his body back. But what if they were unable to kill the Mayanes? The Goddess of Death may curse him again. He really wanted to avoid that if at all possible.
"Yeah." Kang Oh agreed absentmindedly and stroked his chin.
'Reviving the God of Creation, huh...'
He hadn't really thought about it before, but Deborah and Luhan's exchange made him realize what a huge quest he was undertaking.
Let's assume that Kang Oh kills all of the Mayanes and collects all of the God of Creation's sources. Let's also assume that the God of Creation is revived thereafter!
What if Maya does something crazy again? It'd be war. A huge war at that.
But what if things went according to Deborah's wishes? The continent would change, and new living beings or even monsters would appear. Areas or dungeons that'd never been discovered before might appear too.
Either way, it was good news for Kang Oh. If there was a war, then Kang Oh would gain a huge reward for siding with the gods, and if there were new dungeons or areas to explore, then he'd take them all for himself like Despia or the soul dungeons!
"Hehe." Kang Oh laughed. 'Nice, nice.'
Meanwhile, Gracius led while the others followed.
Kang Oh came back to reality, and quickly caught up with them.
* * *
Two giant, 10 meter tall metal mirrors lay side-by-side within the deepest part of the Great Temple of Life.
"The left mirror contains Mayanes Jacques, while the other contains Mayanes Kragon," Gracius, in her Birdman form, said.
"Who should we kill first?" Cyndia asked.
"Let's kill Jacques first," Gainus said.
"Go into the left mirror. Since Lord Luhan has granted you permission, you should be able to pass through the mirror," Gracius said.
"Understood. Alright, let me tell you about Jacques. Everyone, listen up," Gainus looked around and said.
Kang Oh pricked his ears and listened carefully.Previous Chapter Next Chapter