Chapter 160 - Inherited Resolution (2)
After a short amount of time had passed, Azell returned with the beasts he had caught. Then he gave a detailed account of what had happened.
He told them about the identity of the Keepers of the Prophecy and their mission. Then the party members heard about how the Keepers of the Prophecy had met their end. The party members were at a loss for words.
“Let me see if I got this right…….”
Leticia broke the silence, and she pointed a finger towards Azell.
“Azell, you roamed around between women, and your promiscuity was the reason why we were saved?”
“…mmm. Unfortunately, you aren’t saying anything that isn’t true, so I can’t give you a rebuttal.”
“This really is…….”
Leticia furrowed her brows.
“I never knew you were that kind of a man. Since you were the legendary hero, I held a slight amount of admiration towards you. It’s pathetic that I had felt such emotions for you.”
Azell looked as if he had chewed on a bug. He really wanted to make excuses, but he swallowed any thoughts of doing so. He would probably be seen as human trash if he did so.
Even Laura looked at him with cool eyes as she spoke one word.
That single word was more powerful than every other criticism.
From Azell’s perspective, the future had been something that he wasn’t sure he would be able to see. This was why he decided to be more faithful to the present than the nebulous future. That was the type of era he had lived in. Therefore, when he caught someone’s eyes, he had share his love with her….
‘If I said that out loud, this will really turn into a mess. Shit.’
He was self aware as to how this looked like, and he had his pride. Therefore, he couldn’t stepforward to defend himself. In truth, he didn’t know if anything would change if he made a defense for himself or not. However, this was important to him.
When the atmosphere turned chilly, Kairen stepped forward to mediate.
“Let’s drop the subject for now. Our lives were saved thanks to it.”
“Does this mean like attracts like? I see how it is. You are a great noble, so your feelings towards promiscuity differs from normal people. Isn’t it normal for nobles to go after every woman they see? Isn’t it normal for them to make many children out of wedlock?”
“Nope. I have no children. I’m sure of it.”
At Kairen’s words, Leticia’s gaze turned cold.
“You were careful enough not to sire any children, but you don’t find promiscuity to be a problem?”
“Why the hell are you interpreting my words that way? Stop treating me like I’m in the same category as Azell.”
“…Duke. Instead of defending me, you are going to bury me alive.”
Kairen had been looking at Azell with playful eyes, but his expression suddenly hardened.
“However, I never expected the Keepers of Prophecy to have such backgrounds….”
The Keepers of Prophecy were allies that had been hard to trust. It was frustrating, since one couldn’t discern their true intentions. Moreover, there was a strong animosity developed when they took questionable actions to confirm whether Azell was the prophesied being or not.
However, when their backstories became known, such emotions melted away like snow.
“I still do not like the actions they had taken…. However, I think can understand the motivation behind it now.”
Laura and Leticia was also in agreement with that statement.
After losing everything to the Dragon Demon king worshippers, they were stripped of their past memories to become the Keepers of the Prophecy. They had fought over the long years with only their hatred and a sense of duty keeping them going.
They had surely been tired and worn down as time passed. After the Great Darkness, it was as if they were lost in a fog of despair. The only light they could rely on was the prophesied being. This was why nothing had been off limits when they were trying to confirm whether Azell was the prophesied being or not. Moreover, when they did confirm this truth, they willingly entrusted the future to Azell. They had sacrificed themselves for him.
“In truth, I’m still having a hard time absorbing everything, but…..”
Suddenly, Azell spoke.
“It seems I’ve incurred a big debt to my future descendants.”
He had went into slumber in an attempt to beat the curse. While he was asleep, the world had changed too much.
He had wanted to created a better future. He wanted to drive away the despair that was rampant all over the world. He had wanted to embark on the future with his people. He had wanted to do so with a smile full of hope on his face. He had fought for this ardent desire even as he stepped over the corpses of his comrades.
He had been unable to stamp out the phantoms from his past, and they had upset the world.
The Keepers of Prophecy started, because of Azell. They were his descendants, who had been tormented, because Azell had been unable to tie up the loose ends. Despite this fact, his descendants had willingly entrusted the future to him, and it left a lasting resolve that couldn’t be erased from Azell’s heart.
‘No matter what, I have to…..’
Azell firmed his resolve as he thought about the nine faces that had looked towards him.
‘I will achieve the objective you all entrusted in me.’
No one knew how many Dragons lived within the Albatan forest. It was a place overflowing with wild beasts and monsters. There were so many within the vast forest that if monsters or beasts didn’t have their own territory, they overflowed out of the forest into the Iellos Kingdom. It was common to see fights along the borders.
“Even if we go a little bit deeper, we have to be prepared for the danger we will face. It is a bit different from what I remember, but this is still one of the Demon lands. It is a place where even the Dragon Demon king worshippers avoided….”
The party had to travel to the deepest part of the forest.
It was called a forest, so it didn’t sound too large. However, it truly was a vast stretch of land. Its size rivaled the Iellos kingdom. If one sailed along the coastline, one would be able to see the Atisan mountain range. If combined with the forest, these amazingly large stretches of land was a wasteland where humans couldn’t traverse.
Kairen had heard about the Albatan forest from Azell, so he asked the question.
“While we have the Vitan’s Chalice amongst our possession, we can’t avoid being tracked.”
“Still, we can’t give up on the Vitan’s Chalice.”
The Vitan’s Chalice was too powerful of a weapon to give up on. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Laura’s battle capabilities increased several folds when she had the Vitan’s Chalice in her possession.
Then there was the other problem. If they gave up on the Vitan’s Chalice, it would be returned to the hands of their enemies.
“There is the option of sealing it. I might hide it, but it is an item that’s being preserved by Atein’s magic…..”
Azell took a peek at Laura, and he tried to see how Yuren would react. Both were high rank magicians, who boasted high level of skills. This was why they were careful in giving their answer.
Of course, it wasn’t as if Azell didn’t know what Lauren and Yuren was going to say.
Laura shook her head from side to side.
“It’s not possible.”
Yuren shrugged his shoulders.
“I couldn’t even discern what method was used to preserve this Dragon weapon…..”
At his words, Kairen furrowed his brows.
“In the end, we have no choice, but to take on the good with the bad. Fortunately, the Road of Darkness wasn’t built anywhere near here…..”
“Even Atein respected this place as the domain of Albatan.”
“Still, there is no guarantee Albatan would look kindly at our presence. What if the Demon King worshippers don’t care about the risks of following us here?”
“It’s been 220 years, so I don’t know how much the situation had changed here. By the look of things, Albatan is still alive, and it seems he still rules over this place…..”
Azell made these presumptions before he continued his thoughts.
“First, we have to go deeper into the forest despite the risks.”
“We have to go into a place crawling with Dragons, wild beasts and monsters? Why?”
“This Demon land is called Albatan, but…. It isn’t as if Albatan pays attention to everything that goes on in this large land. He’ll only use his power as the absolute ruler of this land when humans try to claim this place as their territory. Aside from such intrusions, he is pretty lax.”
“Is this akin to a lord possessing several villages within his territory? The guards and committee members take care of the minor problems, and the lord is disturbed only for the important decisions and events?”
“You have to widen the scope of your analogy. Basically, Albatan is the king, and he rules over his kingdom. Under his rule, there are lords of various factions, and they squabble amongst each other.”
“Hmm. Are you saying it isn’t a lawless region?”
“They are living between numerous Dragons, so these factions try to avoid the Dragons. This precipitates the fight between them.”
“What factions are you talking about?”
“That I do not know. It has been 220 years, so I’m sure things haven’t remained the same. However, I’m sure that Dragon Demons or Dragon Majins lead these factions.”
“Are there a lot of Dragon Demons and Dragon Majins here?”
“There should be over 300?”
Wasn’t that an incredible amount of force?
“There were also a lot of humans. Then there are the Wolfnoids that are hard to see anywhere else…….”
“When you say Wolfnoid, are you referring to lycanthropes?”
“No. Lycanthropes are cursed existences that shows up in legends.”
“What’s the difference between the two?”
“Lycanthropes are humans that were cursed, and their form became a mixture of beast and human. Wolfnoid are a race that is shaped like wolfmen. Since the Wolnoids aren’t really known to humans, Carlos theorized that the tales of the lycanthropes arose when people witnessed Wolfnoids…. However, that story doesn’t matter to our current situation.”
“Rare beings that were pushed out by humans live here. This place is ruled by the survival of the fittest, but they will prevent outsiders from wiping out the people within the territory….. This was Albatan’s will in ruling this land, and that is why humans call it the land of the Demons.”
“Did you hear this from Albatan himself?”
“Yes. However, it was a long time ago…..”
Azell let out a bitter laugh. The memory had left a deep impression within him. Albatan was an amazing existence. Carlos had been unable to close his mouth, which had hung wide open.
“A Dragon told you that. It really is hard to swallow that story…..”
Kairen shook his head from side to side. To him, Dragons were beings that were incapable of holding a conversation. They were closer to a natural disaster than living beings.
“However, there is an existence in front of me that also told me a story that was hard to believe. I guess I should believe you.”
Azell grinned at his words.
“I really is hard to believe, pervert.”
Azell’s laughter turned pitiful. Azell forcefully let out a bright smile as he spoke.
“Uh. Anyways…. It seems our conversation strayed offtopic.”
Azell explained why he had to go to the heart of the Demon land as soon as possible.
It was as he explained a moment ago. Albatan was accepted as the absolute king of this land, but he practiced a principle of noninterference. This was why several factions existed and fought amongst each other. It was the survival of the fittest. However, if Azell’s party remained here, their enemies would soon track them down. They couldn’t be afraid of clashing against the factions within the Albatan forest.
“They won’t bring a large army…. For example, there is a possibility only Reygus and Almarick will enter this place. They know this region well, so they’ll try to fight us in regions where Albatan doesn’t directly rule..”
“Are you sure about this?”
“It happened before.”
“At that time, Atein was here too.”
“What did you just say?”
Everyone became surprised by his words, so they turned to look at him. Azell shrugged his shoulders as he smirked.
“I met one of my teacher named Reshoo here. At the time, he wasn’t affiliated with any power within this place. He lived alone, and there was a big hubbub when Reshoo challenged Atein to a fight.”
Reshoo had lost in that fight, and he was at death’s door. Azell intervened, and he was able to critically wound Atein once.
“That is why we can’t take it easy by staying in one place. After everyone recovers somewhat, I have a method that will allow us to travel there in a single effort. Until that time, we’ll be careful as we move inward. We also have them with us….”
Azell looked at the Guardian Shadows that kept appearing and disappearing between the trees.