Soul Of Searing Steel - novelonlinefull.com
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It was not known how the old city built within a valley got its name, but now, it was a.s.suredly a steel bucket-like defensive perimeter made by the alert Drakonids. Every spot convenient for defense around the Iron Hill City had now been set up with simple forts and archer towers, with battalions of thousands of monster hunters patrolling around the fortifications, watching vigilantly at all times for any demon and wyvern that could appear.
On the fourth day after the calamity began, there were still many Drakonids surging into the city from all directions, most of them women and children. They were arranged to enter the city center—a huge gap directed underground. Tens of thousands of Drakonids had already entered to take shelter from the calamity, while the entire city having no inhabitants apart from the monster hunters and the adult males who were grouped together.
It was only when Lisa saw the valley her father once drew that she realized she had arrived at her destination with a start. Subconsciously, she clenched the papers for entry in her hand, the corner of her eyes reddening.
Still, it was no time to delve in sadness. Mustering her spirit, Lisa strode forward once more toward the valley.
However, she never expected to find that there was already a single stretching queue at the checkpoint set up by the entrance to the valley. Some of the Drakonids were allowed to enter, others declined, and sent to a temporary a.s.sembly point outside the valley.
"The shelter is almost full. Your papers are not of use."
A monster hunter who was making rounds nearby noticed that a girl of her kind was staring blankly at the queue of more than a thousand people, and hence kindly stopped to explain. "Although the elders of the Iron Hill City had spent years digging the shelter and reserving rations, it still has its limits. To ensure the continuation of the Drakonids, only those who excel are allowed entry."
"What excel?" Lisa asked unconsciously.
"Monster hunters, of course. Next would be young Drakonids who could awaken, and children who had not reached the age for Awakening. The families of monster hunters are also considered a priority."
The monster hunter who wore black leather armor studied Lisa, before smiling and nodding. "Haven't you already awakened? Your bloodline power is concentrated and you're still a kid—you would definitely be allowed entry."
"…But, those who can't enter…"
"…There must always be some who would be sacrificed. This is no time to be emotional." The patrolling monster hunter sighed, half-knelt and patted Lisa's shoulder, urging her on. "Hurry, little girl. Those big monsters would come anytime—this place is very dangerous."
At those words, he turned and continued his mission. After a moment of silence, the Drakonid girl joined the queue.
The long queue was extending incessantly, but apart from the occasional child's cry none of them made a sound. The queue had people of varying genders, strong middle-aged individuals or even children in their mother's bosom, the only thing lacking were elderly people. Lisa could see that many old people did not join the queue, instead voluntarily walking toward the a.s.sembly point outside the valley.
"So calm even in the face of death, and neither are there any fellows who are raising a ruckus. You Drakonids are so orderly."
The balrog's a.s.sessment wafted in the girl's mind as Syndicate spoke with a tinge of emotion. "Although primitive, your kind would become a prosperous civilization given time… it's a pity that this isn't something you could weather easily."
Syndicate could not help shaking its head. Recently, the abnormal meteorological phenomenon was becoming rare, but that did not mean that the battle between Legendary champions had ended—in fact, the fight must have become so violent and unstoppable, but everyone had to leave the world of Kronos so as not to destroy it with the shockwaves from their attack.
—The Drakonids would no longer have the chance of development if either demons or Pentashade dragons conquered this world, and the civilization of golden flying transports might not be on the side of the angels either. There is only one shred of hope for the Drakonids, and that is if That Person who even I, a demon could forgive wins this battle.
There remained another possibility—the victory of the Dragon G.o.d of the Drakonids by expelling all invaders. Syndicate, however, did not believe it to be likely. After all, if the state of affairs went awry, the demons and Pentashade dragons might work together again.
Just as Lisa remained silent while Syndicate thought about the state over the skies, the long queue moved quickly, and soon it was the Drakonid's girl turn.
"Child, put your hands on the crystal plate."
On the checkpoint, an elderly Drakonid called out softly to Lisa, drawing her out from her reverie. He was protected by two fully-armored monster hunters, his two horns on his head rather white while his enter body flickered with bolts visible to the naked eye.
Once Lisa saw the white crystal plate placed before her, she quickly reached out and pressed her hands over it. A warmth that was unlike crystals appeared in her palm, and before she could react, the old Drakonid spoke again. "Use your full strength, and pour your bloodline power into the plate."
"Full strength, huh?"
Lisa did not think much since she had been blanking out just a while ago, subconsciously using her full power before the balrog could even warn her—abruptly, the surrounding air crackled, and as green-blue lightning arcs leaped, a fine and orderly electric net appeared over the Drakonid's girl entire body. Actuate Bolt had activated, and the electric net was following Lisa's will and contracting into a huge pillar of lightning, seeping into her hand that was pressed upon the crystal plate!
Bang! A loud sound echoed and green-blue radiance exploded. The colorless crystal plate that had been used to test for Drakonid bloodline power instantly changed from 'blue', 'green', 'red', 'purple' to 'black'. Then, as the others behind Lisa were left in astonishment and the elderly Drakonid gaped, the plate was shattered by the bursting bolt!
"Ah… um, sorry!"
Lisa quickly realized that she had gotten into trouble once she finally realized what happened. The bloodline power in her body might not exceed that of typical monster hunters by much, but the empowerment of Actuate Bolt granted her the power of a dozen—or perhaps dozens of ordinary individuals. Because of that, the testing crystal plate was instantly destroyed.
Ultimately, the old Drakonid was knowledgeable. He was a veteran monster hunter who had survived a thousand hunts and yet lived to an old age, and was certainly aware of what power of bolt was required to destroy the trial plate which had great endurance… It would not be unusual if that cla.s.s of power had appeared in some genius monster hunter, but it was a young girl who was barely over ten years old who stood before her!
"Even the captain of monster hunter party in the village isn't that formidable…"
"At such a young age, her future is immeasurable."
The Drakonids in the queue behind Lisa also began to chatter. The incredible power was truly eye-catching, especially given that the wielder was so young. And at that moment, a rather loud and clear voice exclaimed, "If it isn't the little girl of the Blake Family, hailing from the Shamu village? She's a pure-blood, rarely born even in a hundred years!"
That promptly made most of those who were in doubt understand.
"A pure-blood, huh… no wonder."
"It isn't weird if it's a pure-blood. But to have such power so young, it should be rare even for a pure-blood." The voice brought the old Drakonid back to his senses, and studied the bewildered Lisa who was still a hot topic of discussion.
"Enter, child," he said with a mild voice. "You can enter the shelter."
He then nodded, gesturing for one of the monster hunters who was standing guard beside him to escort Lisa into the shelter while he waited for a new testing crystal plate.
Dazed, Lisa followed the hunter into the underground shelter. Meanwhile in an encampment close to the trial grounds, a middle-aged Drakonid who had been paying close attention to the situation of the trails frowned, before turning to speak with the others behind him. "Do you guys see? The power of that girl?"
"I saw it."
"Very powerful, very pure."
"Good control, not even I could compare."
"Stronger than previous pure-bloods."
Those who were sitting in the camp were some middle-aged or elderly Drakonids. Their bodies were flowing with distinct lightning flow, and they were evidently powerful monster hunters.
"But it's a little unusual… Although she really resembles a pure-blood, she should not have awakened at such an age according to logic." One of the monster hunters said after those brief moments of being awestruck. "We had lost the vital method to awaken pure-bloods in that earthquake three hundred years ago. No matter how us successors improved to the point that even us non-pure-bloods could awaken, there was no way that pure-bloods could deliberately awaken."
"Indeed. Most of the pure-bloods would occasionally awaken partially when they approach adulthood, but even that partialness was very powerful… For that girl to awaken so much bloodline power at such a meager age, I think that she could awaken by a hundred percent with her talents.
Another elder nodded. As monster hunter veterans and elders of the Iron Hill City, they had been waiting here all along just to wait for awakened pure-bloods like Lisa to appear.
"The prophecy says that when the Dragon Gold awakens from its long slumber, the flames of the Apocalypse would arrive once again…" The middle-aged Drakonid who had been watching from the start paused for a moment, muttering irresolutely. "Now, the so-called Apocalyptic calamity has come. Countless abnormal monsters appeared out of thin air, the skies shifted, while most of the Drakonid villages outside the Iron Hill City had been destroyed. That alone proves that the prophecy is true."
"Then, that final line…"
At that, he stopped speaking, just as the other elders and monster hunters in the camp did not—they had already known what those words meant.
—Only the blood of the pure.
Only the one who possessed pure bloodlines could save the Drakonids from the calamity where the skies fell.
"She's the only pure-blood we could find. We must meet that girl."
Meanwhile, Lisa was led by the hunter guard into the underground shelter.
The entrance to the shelter resembled a mining shaft, with a large gap directly dug into the mountain wall. There was a twenty-meter wide path within, illuminated on both sides with fluorescent moss as a source of light, stretching down in a slope and seemingly endless. Other Draknoids who came afterward were guided by several monster hunters deep within.
A few dozen meters into the path, there was a fork in the path directed to the distance, with voices wafting from deep within. Noticing Lisa's doubtful expression, a hunter whose throat bore a large scar explained things with a hoa.r.s.e voice. "This is the two shelters of the first level, the second level is below… There are five shelters in total, and the prepared rations are sufficient to last twenty thousand Drakonids for half a month."
Although it did not sound impressive, it was an unimaginably profound project for the Drakonids who lived in primitive towns and villages. Lisa could not help being utterly shocked, and began to mumble subconsciously. "There are about four hundred from the village… twenty thousand, that means five hundred villages…"
"Just fifty. There are almost a thousand Drakonid villages in the mountains."
The leading monster hunter shook his head and said nothing more, while Lisa stepped forward silently as well. The two walked for a long time and turned inside another fork. Eventually, she realized that she had been led into some secret pa.s.sageway under the dull radiation of the fluorescent moss, and that there was something not right: According to the speed they had moved just now, she should now be somewhere deeper than the fifth level of the shelter.
Where is this place? What does the Drakonid leading me want?
However, before the cautious Lisa could speak, the monster hunter spoke first. "Don't worry," he spoke once more with his hoa.r.s.e voice. "I don't bear any ill-will. The elders merely wished to see you, and for that, a safe and quiet place is needed."
Even as he spoke, the two Drakonids and one balrog arrived before a huge stone door. The monster hunter who was rather young stepped forward, pressing a hand flickering with lightning arcs on the door, and veins of electric circuit patterns appeared at once. Having done that, he turned toward Lisa and sighed. "Don't be so wary… Drakonids would not harm their own at this hour…" At that, he took a look at her height and chest, and shook his head. "Don't think so much… You'll be staying here—the elders would come to meet you a little later."
At that, he turned and left the rather awkward Lisa alone by the opening stone door, vanishing from the illumination of the fluorescent moss.
"What… I'll grow taller and bigger in time! Just like mom!"
Lisa grumbled with a slightly red face in frustration, while the balrog kept quiet and said nothing.
In the end, Lisa was still a child. There was nothing wrong even if she was unreasonably led to a secret path deep underground, since she was just following orders. Therefore, the balrog did not voice out in protest, because it already knew that the higher-ups of the Drakonids would definitely notice the moment she exposed her own exceedingly formidable powers.
—Perhaps it's a special shelter for protecting important individuals?
Syndicate found that inference very likely, since this place was even deeper than the fifth-level shelter and at least hundreds of meters deep below ground. Leaving aside how the Drakonids could achieve such a construction feat, with such depth and anti-tremor equipment, this place was definitely safe as long as Legendary champions did not fight directly above the shelter.
At least, it was safer than any place on the surface.
The stone door had now completely opened thanks to the stimulation from the monster hunter just now. The balrog hence urged Lisa to quickly enter, while the Drakonid girl, curious about what was inside as well, simply walked within.
Despite that, when Lisa moved past the door, she noticed that the door was not made entirely out of stone… On a corner of the door, a certain spot that appeared to have been frequently knocked upon, a layer of stone had been shaven off, and beneath that layer was an unknown silver substance.
Did it not resemble Steel a little? Even so, Lisa did not ponder much about why there would be stone layered over it, and hence entered.
What she saw quickly dulled all that previous inquisitiveness.
"A mural! I've seen it before—the elder of the village used to love drawing those in his house!"
What appeared before Lisa was another long underground corridor that was over ten meters wide, with countless murals distinctly laden on both sides. For some reason, the corridor was unexpectedly bright despite there being no apparent illumination, as if the corridor itself shone.
Curious, Lisa found the starting point of the murals, and began to study it from that point onward. Even so, it disappointed the Drakonid girl that there was no impression depicting Drakonids, instead showing the life of a race that was similar to, but not quite Drakonid.
In the beginning, those curious beings lived in the water with a fish-like tail. They did not have feet or twin horns, but apart from that was a species identical to Drakonids. They were pure aquatic creatures as well, thriving on aquatic plants as well as farming sh.e.l.l creatures and fishes, and slowly developed a civilization underwater, using certain curious sound waves to converse. Then, under the guidance of an unnamed Sage, they even developed text.
"Weird, what place could it be that have so much water… the biggest lake in the mountains isn't that vast." Lisa mumbled to herself and looked toward the second mural. The balrog, which had not been paying attention, soon became serious and studied the meticulously drawn mural through its shared vision with the girl.
After constructing a language, the race of humanoid fish-tail people quickly developed, rapidly sensing the ion energies in the water and from there learned fundamental magic. Through spells that manipulated water flow and underwater sand, the merfolk built villages and cities in calmer deep sea regions, even learning how to use crystals and metals to make tools. Then, through the heat from undersea volcanos and geysers, they learned crafting and smelting, which promptly accelerated their racial development.
They would melt sand to procure the elements within, producing certain translucent materials that resembled the crystal plate which Lisa used in her Drakonid bloodline test. Through inscribed runes on that translucent—occasionally transparent—substance called gla.s.s, the merfolk's magical technology development became even faster. Huge underground cities appeared for the first time thanks to the progress of materials, and through combined factions, nations were soon founded. Powerful magics even allowed the merfolk to domesticate behemoths beneath the sea, growing to become a species with no natural enemy. In the end, however, the merfolk that were loved by the sea left their homes beneath the waves, and went to the surface.
There, they saw the skies, the land, jungles, beaches, birds that soar the skies and beasts that walked the land… a whole new world. Thus, through magic, the merfolk changed themselves to a form capable of walking upon land. It was a form that made Lisa unable to suppress a gasp, for without the tail and twin horns, that form was virtually identical with Drakonids!
However, the young girl did not spare the time to wonder, and impatiently went on to the next mural: the merfolk sensed after arriving on land that metallic erosion speeds here were unusually slow, with many unique mineral veins that could not be found undersea. Therefore, the merfolk split into two—one lived on the colony above ground, and another in the undersea city. But as time pa.s.sed and civilization gradually improved, most merfolk came to the surface, keeping only their pa.s.sion for the sea for that was their true home.
Still, Lisa only saw the bustling state of their civilization, while the more the balrog looked, the more Syndicate felt a shock within—the Drakonid girl could not understand the meaning behind the mural, but it could as an archdemon. It was hence clearly aware that, after arriving on solid land over two millennia, they had raised floating cities that hovered the skies freely through advanced magical technology, and after another few centuries, entered the Void!
The primitive undersea gla.s.s buildings, up to the anti-erosion deep sea metal city, and then floating raising floating cities through runic power… With just a little common knowledge, anyone could tell that it was an advanced civilization that had set peak achievements in magical technology! And that civilization somehow has thousands of links to the primitive Drakonids of the present!
Lisa remained absorbed in the murals after studying through more than half of them, while Syndicate noticed that the materials made to build the surrounding corridor were changing drastically as well… The outermost doors were made from stone, and as they went deeper within, the corridor turned from stone to metals, and finally became crystalline walls—only Lisa who was not perceptive about such things did not notice the fact.
—This is no shelter dug by the Drakonids… It's the relic of an ancient civilization!
Syndicate shortly found that many things were now explainable after realizing the fact. After all, it was no simple job to build such a large underground shelter even for demons, and with the Drakonids' scarce population and ability, it was an impossible task.
But now was not the time to think such things, and hence Drakonid and balrog kept studying—it was then that the content of the murals changed dramatically.
The merfolk could easily access the Void, and their crystal s.p.a.ceships could withstand the effects of dimensional turbulence. As they slowly navigated the Multiverse, they tried to explore many worlds, but failed due to the rejection from those worlds. Nonetheless, those positive fellows never gave up and kept exploring the Void—it was the golden age of the merfolk, with countless individuals diligently striving to walk toward the distance, leaving their homes to explore uncharted regions. Their magical technology rose explosively as well, as their Void ships were upgraded over nine distinct generations within a brief dozen years, and everything was on the path to glory.
And then, everything ended on that day.
As the murals approached the end of their story, both Syndicate and Lisa focused to study its contents, with the young girl unable to hold back a surprised exclamation when she saw it. "Ah! That—that's the Dragon G.o.d!"
"Ancient Dragon!" The balrog said with a deep voice. "That's it!"
The mural showed a silver dragon that wandered the Void. It had broad wings, its entire body flickering with lightning, and yet it was clearly not in a fine state with its pursuers chasing it right behind. The murals did not detail the appearance of those pursuers, depicted hideously with lines instead as a sheet of mysterious darkness… the darkness blocked out more than half of the Void, always looming behind the silver dragon. The silver dragon thus sought help from the merfolk civilization, and somehow the merfolk agreed without hesitation.
Thus, war began.
It was an extremely terrible war. As the darkness that came striking from various regions of the Multiverse, both silver dragon and merfolk civilization were forced to retreat at every turn, with the latter ceasing eternal exploration and focusing entirely on emergency war research. At first, the merfolk was very much crushingly defeated, but actually became capable of fighting against the unknown darkness on equal terms as time pa.s.sed. The silver dragon's combat prowess was also greatly above imagination, and the two combined force had definitively resisted the invading darkness.
Even so, the merfolk civilization was too young, having carelessly exposed the coordinates to their Motherworld in one of the smaller defeats. The darkness naturally would not let the chance pa.s.s them by, and charged into the planet, destroying the balance of the world's ecosystem with devastating magic—only for the dark force to be jointly defeated by the silver dragon and the enraged merfolk.
Still, it was ultimately just revenge and not victory. The tectonic plates of the world which life-cycles had been completely devastated began to shift violently, with the seas devoured by the endless rifts that broke out over the ground, and thus the entire world turned into a deathly desert beneath volcanos and dust. Having paid the terrible price, the merfolk no longer had the strength to prolong the continuation of their own world, and thus the world and its civilization slowly walked toward its end.
Until the silver dragon descended upon the world and connected itself to the land.
In the final mural, the dragon created vast mountains out of the desert that was once sea. It shared its bloodline to the last of the merfolk, turning them into their current Drakonid appearance so that they could live on after the seas had disappeared. Soon, the equally heavily-injured dragon hence slumbered within the desert, until the mural ended.
Both Lisa and Syndicate were left in stunned silence. The two never imagined that the origins of Drakonids were so winding and yet so unimaginable.
The balrog also finally understood why Lisa always unwittingly seek the seas that she had never seen and none described to her… For that was the true bloodline of their race that lived undersea just hundreds of years ago. However, what was once the oceans were vaporized into desert, while former cities were crushed and sunk deep beneath the earth's crust—becoming ruins only found hundreds of meters beneath ground, just like the underground corridors they were now present at.
Just when Lisa blinked and found herself unsure how to express her awe, footsteps wafted from another end of the corridor.
"Have you finished, Lisa?"
It was the elders of the Iron Hill City, with the elderly Drakonid who tested Lisa bloodline at the entrance to the valley in the lead. He watched her with a mild gaze even as she failed to hide her shocked expression, and said softly, "That is the origins of us Drakonids… the origins of us, the people of Kronos. To protect ourselves from the darkness of the stars, our ancestors made a pact with the Dragon G.o.d to combine our power and stand against a common enemy."
"Those invaders on the skies are now spying upon the power of the Dragon G.o.d, but they do not know that they are simply no true enemy of the Dragon G.o.d… The darkness is coming, and in the face of such apocalyptic calamity, everything else is just a joke."
The old Drakonid looked up, reaching out with a hand where a sphere of green-blue lightning bolts appeared in his palm. He pressed the sphere into the mural, and the entire corridor promptly began to tremble violently. As Lisa looked on in surprise, all the murals on the crystal walls vanished, the walls itself turning transparent, while the entire corridor changed shape beneath the influence of an unknown power, finally becoming a square hall.
"This is the Void observatory of the former civilization on Kronos, a city once forged from iron and crystals… and where the Iron Hill City got its name."
As the old Drakonid spoke, a static chaos began to appear over the entire crystal hall, but the static soon dispersed as immeasurably clear pictures appeared before Lisa's eyes—it was the sights of the Kronos Mountains above ground! It was even being focused without ceasing, projecting the vision to the skies up to the heavens!
The crystal hall could directly observe the Void!
Above the cloud layers and in the Void beyond the world, energy flashes that stunned the heard raged. The battle between superior beings was continuing in the dimensional turbulence, with corrupted dark radiance piercing through runic barriers, while steaks of invisible ripples flattening a frost offensive, even as a radiance resembling the sun stood aloft at the center, with all attacks unable to shake its posture… Several celestial specks were moving rapidly and flickering, the darkness of the star sky as their background. They had fought a good few days, but as long as their vitals were not damaged and their energy source was not sealed, it would not be an issue for the battle of those cla.s.s of superior beings to last for days, years, or even centuries.
Normal people would have been absorbed by the dazzling lights of the battle, but Lisa quickly noticed that even as the superior beings were left preoccupied with their fight, the stars around them were dulling bit by bit. Somehow, the dimensional turbulences were growing even more violent, while the starlight of worlds grew fainter, as if a blanket of dark fog was spreading to grasp the entire Void within its embrace.
In the end, a darkness that shrouded the stars suddenly materialized, consuming all starry specks that were fighting into its bowels!
Thus, the star sky became ink-dark, and no longer flickered.
On the surface, a raging draconic roar resounded. The silver dragon raised its head toward the starry skies, its eyes resembling burning flames. Hence, the Ancient Dragon flapped its wings, driving thunder and magnetic fields to rise into the air to do battle against that ancient nemesis. But just as it rose completely above, breaking through the world barrier to enter the Void, a silver metallic chain suddenly appeared out of thin air and pulled the Ancient Dragon back to the ground!
As the chain shuddered, the entire world of Kronos trembled as well. It was not a swaying on a physical sense, but the swaying from the heart of every being: as if, if that chain was broken, the whole world would be consigned to eternal d.a.m.nation with no hope of revival.
The elderly Drakonid sighed and turned, starting at the quiet Drakonid girl.
"What happened?" He asked mildly.
"Why… I simply don't understand all this…"
Lisa had kept her head lowered after seeing all the murals, her thoughts unfathomable. She then started to mumble with a low voice, before suddenly raising her head and screaming at the old Drakonid. "Why do you tell me such things? Why do you have to let me know such things? I simply don't understand! Merfolk civilization, Drakonid origins, battle between the Dragon G.o.d and the Darkness… I don't understand anything at all—why do you have to tell me, why do you have to tell me now?!"
"Why are we telling you?" The elderly Drakonid repeated those words, smiling bitterly.
"Because, only you…"
Thus, the band of Drakonid elders joined in simultaneously. "…Only you could aid the Dragon G.o.d, to sever that Steel Chain that bound to the world."
"Only you who possessed the purest blood of the Dragon G.o.d could do it!"
Above ground, in the center of the desert, the silver dragon was still trying to fly. However, despite trying a few times, the restraint from that silver chain prevented it from rising into the skies and into the Void.
The dragon's eyes were filled with rage and reluctance; the depths of those draconic pupils flickered with purple-red radiance. And yet, it did not dare to shrug off the chain, not even daring to attempt breaking it.
For it was a pact it had made hundreds of years ago, with a civilization that had given all their race could offer and the full might of their world to aid it.