Having left Eva, the human forces joined up with the Federation at the Hiral Mountain Range. The full power of the two nations together created an enormous force that was a spectacle to behold. Lines of troops connected from one end of the mountain range to the other, making literal sense of the phrase sea of people forming a mountain.
The war had already begun. To be more precise, it started when they stepped into the Parasites’ territory.
The corrupted land consumed the vitality of non-parasites in its domain. The effect was minimal since the allied force was still at the border of the Parasites’ territory, and the Federation had brought a countermeasure as well.
But the situation was bound to get worse the deeper the allied force went into the Empire. Furthermore, there was a good chance time would bring about a change.
The allied force was marching into the enemy territory, yet they couldn’t see a single parasite. Not even a single Cockroach or a Bug.
This wasn’t a good sign. The Parasite Queen’s intention was clear. She wanted to make full use of the corrupted land’s effect.
Since her enemies were invading her land, she must be planning to sit back and drain the allied force’s strength as much as possible.
It was a logical decision, as expected of the Parasite Queen.
A few days went by.
The situation everyone feared occurred. When the allied force entered the central region of the Empire, more and more people began to fall behind from fatigue.
While Seo Yuhui left to tend to the patients, Seol Jihu got a report from Kazuki.
“What’s the number? Not the people who are simply fatigued, but the people whose conditions are severe to the point they can’t participate in battles.”
“607 from our side and 178 from the Federation’s side.”
“So that’s 785 people…. It’s less than I thought.”
“Because we have this.”
Kazuki took out a palm-sized leaf from his pocket. It was an item that the Federation had prepared—a leaf imbued with the blessing of the World Tree.
Simply possessing it delayed the vitality-stealing power of the Parasites’ corrupted land. The allied force was thoroughly enjoying this effect.
The only problem was that the leaf wilted black in less than a day, having to be replaced by a new one.
“How many do we have left? I heard the Federation brought their entire supply.”
“I don’t think we have that many left. The Federation is trying to conserve as many as possible in consideration of carrying out missions after the war starts.”
“Gabriel said it was a miracle that we even have any left. If it wasn’t for Lady Seo Yuhui….”
Seol Jihu turned around. In the far distance, he could see Seo Yuhui chanting a holy spell on a group of heavily corrupted individuals.
Level 9 Saint Empress’ Class Ability, Wide Area Purification — Descent of Brilliance.
This was the new skill Seo Yuhui obtained by being promoted to a Saint Empress. Although it couldn’t turn a parasite back to its original form, its powerful purification ability could heal anyone if the corruption had only progressed halfway.
Just like Kazuki said, it was thanks to Seo Yuhui that they could save so many leaves.
“...It can’t be helped.”
Seol Jihu sighed. He had expected this much from the start. He knew he wouldn’t be able to take care of every member after coming this far.
“Tell the Federation to prioritize Magicians and Priests, who have weaker endurance and stamina. As for the ones who can’t join the battle… send them back before it’s too late.”
Seol Jihu spoke while being relieved that the worst-case scenario had happened.
“Got it. I will relay the message.”
Kazuki nodded while taking out a communication crystal.
Another few days went by. The allied force marched onward without any hindrance, and they were now crossing Via Lactea.
This was the place that the expedition team of the second Imperial Oath expedition teleported to, and it was no different than the heart of the Parasites’ territory.
The capital of the Empire, Gloria Aeterna, which became the final bastion of the old Empire’s defense, was now just around the corner.
The Parasites were still nowhere to be seen, but Seol Jihu could feel them. The temperature plummeted as they headed deeper into the capital, and the grey color dyeing the land turned thicker as well. Furthermore, the earth seemed to be made of hard pebbles rather than dirt, and the speed at which the World Tree’s leaves burned up hastened as well.
Seol Jihu slowly raised his head, an inexplicable sense of foreboding creeping up on him crushingly.
The clouds of war were gathering in the sky.
And Seol Jihu’s hunch came true quickly. In just a few hours, the frontline troops stopped. It was because the scouts returned with news of discovering the Parasites.
The allied force buzzed.
“Jan Sanctus! Lead your men to the front!”
“The Thunder Squadron will fall back behind the central line and set up camp!”
Teresa, Vidalif, and other commanders shouted. They were changing the troops’ formation at the sight of the enemy’s large-scale appearance.
Seol Jihu’s eyes narrowed as he walked to the front, cutting through the nervous, stiff bodies of the frontline troops.
The first thing he saw was a wall several times longer and taller than the one in Eva. He also saw black things that looked twice as large as usual. Right, they were Parasites, covering the land and the sky as if to swallow the vast capital.
There was the corpse army, composed of all kinds of foreign races. There was the parasite army, stretching out far and wide, not distinguishing between the sky and the earth. There were Medusas, Temerators, and Reginae, constantly giving birth to new creatures. And then there were the Nests, giving birth to these mother species.
There was Unsightly Humility standing at the forefront, Exploding Patience and Vulgar Chastity taking up the wings, and the Army Commanders’ personal armies.
And finally, sitting in the air above the wall, arrogantly looking down at the allied forces, was the Parasite Queen.
‘Creating such a large scale force in such a short time….’
Seol Jihu chuckled after scanning the enemy army from left to right.
Not much time had passed since the major defeat at Haramark. Seol Jihu realized just how the Empire letting their guard down led to their demise. The Parasites’ reproductive ability was simply too terrifying.
The enemy army was one thing, but what really made the allied forces buzz was the appearance of the Parasite Queen. For several years, she had not appeared on the front lines. Now that she had, her presence was enough to make every member of the allied force stiff with nervousness.
And because she was openly revealing her rage at the insects that dared to invade her territory, ordinary humans and foreign races shrank back. They had no choice when a god, who was on a higher level of existence than even the Seven Sins, cast her energy down on them.
Even Seol Jihu’s body was trembling faintly, so it would be wrong of him to expect ordinary humans to be calm.
The situation wasn’t good. Although the allied force resisted the corrupted land’s effect with the purification power of the World Tree’s leaves, most people were feeling tired before the battle even began.
And with the Parasite Queen exerting such tremendous pressure, the allied force’s morale plummeted in an instant.
‘What should I do…’
Seol Jihu, who was watching silently, suddenly felt a soft touch on his hand. Glancing to the side, he saw Seo Yuhui gazing at him.
Facing off against a great, vast enemy force, the man and the woman exchanged a look while staring fixedly at each other. Sometimes, a single glance was worth a thousand words.
Seol Jihu let out a light sigh. Then, he walked forward.
Gabriel predicted the allied force’s morale to be at its lowest upon first encountering the Parasites. As such, she asked Seol Jihu to prepare an encouraging speech, but that went against what Seol Jihu was comfortable doing.
Still, Seol Jihu was the representative figure of the allied force. This could be seen just by looking at his status window’s level of cognition.
His comrades saw Seol Jihu as a leader. Reading the explanation, the significance of his existence wasn’t just confined to being the Apostle of Gluttony but rather the entirety of Paradise.
This could be seen just by looking at the allied force. Most who chose to participate in this war only did so after seeing Seol Jihu.
As such, Seol Jihu had the duty to prove his ‘worth’ as the leader who shouldered the fate of humanity, the Federation, and Paradise itself.
Tap, tap. As Seol Jihu walked forward, countless gazes fell on him. After coming to a stop, Seol Jihu roused his energy.
Then, a fascinating scene occurred. Just by revealing a bit of his fighting spirit, Seol Jihu caused the Parasites’ frontline forces to step back. The parasites in the air also buzzed their wings and became disarrayed.
The members of the allied force widened their eyes and swallowed hard. Parasites were incapable of rational thought. Still, they had taken a step back, feeling an instinctive fear. Even the Army Commanders flinched slightly and raised their guards noticeably.
But perhaps, such reactions were to be expected. Seol Jihu had once crushed through the Parasites’ army alone. Now, he was back, stronger than ever before.
The important thing was that the Parasites, who always treated humanity and the Federation as though they were insects, openly showed apprehension and fear.
To the allied force, this was a refreshing shock.
That wasn’t all. Everyone could clearly feel that the battlefield encompassing the two sides had transformed into a strange space where no sound traveled. Here, only indescribable vibrations were resounding out. Furthermore, everyone could distinctly feel that a powerful, boundless energy had taken control of the area.
Woong, woong, woong, woong, woong, woong!
Then, just as six formless undulations burst out of Seol Jihu—KWANG! A thunderous sound suddenly struck everyone’s ears.
A brilliant electric discharge erupted from Seol Jihu’s body at the same time that a giant orb, radiating a light that was brighter than the sun, rose from the ground.
Seol Jihu’s Unique Spatial Ability — Supernova Explosion.
The orb detonated and shot out a terrifying energy in all directions. The burst of mana swam through the air and fanned out far and wide.
Setting aside the terrifying speed at which the energy swept across the air, Vulgar Chastity screamed at just how far-reaching it was, encompassing all of the Parasites’ forces.
‘He got stronger again….’
Exploding Patience’s face sank in despair.
“We have to stop him…!”
Remembering what happened after taking the same thing head-on, Unsightly Humility hurriedly raised his sword.
Twisted Kindness did the same. She created hundreds of magic circles reflexively but did not know what to do with them. It wasn’t as if there was a lot of time. She just couldn’t think of a way to stop such a wide-range attack in an instant.
Even as the Army Commanders were startled and taken aback, Seol Jihu’s energy wave was shooting toward the Parasites. However, just as it was about to make contact, a giant shadow suddenly cast over Twisted Kindness.
A terrifying explosion erupted again.
Twisted Kindness blinked in confusion. The explosion that was about to swallow the Parasites, suddenly stopped in front of their army.
It was disappearing while splitting left and right. It was as if an invisible barrier was keeping it back.
After spectating the intense undulation, Twisted Kindness subconsciously looked back.
The Parasite Queen was standing with her arm stretched out.
She had interfered directly since the Army Commanders were helpless against the attack.
Her hand shook faintly as it blocked the Supernova Explosion.
The alien goddess and the godslayer met each other’s eyes. The Parasite Queen’s eyes narrowed, and Seol Jihu grinned.
Seeing the absurd explosion that rendered the entire world bright, the members of the allied forces all widened their eyes as if they just woke up from a dream.
This was because the Parasite Queen destroyed the energy from Seol Jihu’s Supernova Explosion, which had joined up with his Authority to take control over the land.
What the allied force saw now was a tug-of-war between the chief commander of both sides. Their widened eyes, bloodshot from fatigue, then began to look determined.
There was someone among them. An existence that could fight with the Parasite Queen on equal grounds.
The rumors were not a lie. They were seeing it now with their own eyes. And with this, an inexplicable sense of pride welled up in everyone’s hearts.
Seol Jihu retracted his mana, noticing the morale of the allied force rising.
By the time the aftermath of the explosion subsided, he had activated his Innate Ability. He was curious about what the Future-Gauging Nine Eyes thought about the situation.
Would it be red, orange, or yellow?
However, the result went against Seol Jihu’s expectations. Several colors popped up, but one color was overwhelming the others.
Seol Jihu turned around with a slightly surprised look. The allied force was burning with a fighting spirit. Glaring at the Parasites with a sharp gaze, they breathed heavily and held their weapons high.
Seol Jihu could tell that they were ready to rush out at any moment. In this very moment, the hearts of the allied force had become one.
Turning to the front again, a faint smile hung on Seol Jihu’s lips. He couldn’t help but feel a little refreshed.
...Right, it was a completely different feeling than when he fell into the enemy’s trap.
The Dwarves were aiming their cannons, Cave Fairies and Sky Fairies were preparing to summon Spirits, Beastmen were honing their claws, getting ready to charge forward, and the Fallen Angels were preparing to transport the World Tree.
The Earthlings were led by five Executors and soldiers of six kingdoms were ready to give their lives for their planet.
His precious comrades were ready to protect his back at a moment’s notice.
Then, there was Seol Jihu himself.
They were all shining in a golden light.
A golden current was undulating in the empire.
The scene was so beautiful that it would take away the breaths of anyone watching.
Seol Jihu did not hesitate any longer.
He raised his hand, holding the Spear of Purity into the air.
The spear blade reflecting the light of the sun radiated a blinding, cross-shaped light.
This was the cue signaling the start of the war.
Without a moment of hesitation, Teresa pulled out her silver longsword. Then, she shouted.
The sound of angry bulls stampeding through the ground and the clacking of horseshoes resounded.
The combined shout of the allied force shook the heavens and earth.
The battle that would determine the fate of each side and the future of Paradise finally began.Previous Chapter Next Chapter