Volume 3 Chapter 1
Instead of devouring the incoming sunlight, the obsidian walls in the black palace reflected the rays of light. The palace’s cone-shaped roof gathered the sunlight and redirected them towards the front of the throne, onto the bodies of Witsen and Karile.
“Witsen! Witsen!” Karile shouted while shaking the unconscious man laying besides her. As she tried to wake him up, the undead army had already begun surrounding them. The undead exhaled white mist while their bones creaked as they moved.
“Witsen! Wake up already!” Karile shook Witsen more violently but to no avail. She glanced towards the skeleton army and realised they were opening a path. From the rear, a fully armoured undead walked towards the two through the path. Karile instinctively knew that he was the army’s leader.
He stopped in front of Karile and bowed. From within the thick metal helmet came a hoarse voice.
“Esteemed Obsidian Princess, would you please kindly move aside?”
Karile stood up, but only barely. With her body covered in wounds, she shakily held Witsen’s obsidian sword and pointed it at the undead army leader.
“Ha! Don’t even think about it. He’s mine.”
“Is that so, then I apologise in advance.”
The undead leader unsheathed his sword and attacked Karile. The sounds of swords clashing resounded throughout the throne room. Blood dripped from her body as they crossed swords, creating a bloody abstract painting on the ground. Karile who was severely injured could not withstand the incoming attacks and steadily retreated.
Damn! Faster! Faster!
She screamed in her mind, hoping that her hand would swing faster and faster. If she continued to retreat, she would be unable to protect Witsen. Despite her mental struggles, her arms were already extremely fatigued and could only do the bare minimum to block the incoming strikes.
Karile accurately timed her attack, slashing her sword horizontally immediately after sidestepping a heavy strike from the undead.
“That is useless.”
The undead leader twisted its wrist in an angle only the undead could accomplish and met Karile’s slash with a powerful downward slice. His strength was so great that her arm was trembling and numb after receiving the full brunt of his attack. Staring at Karile, the undead lifted his sword up high and hacked at his target who had dropped to the ground.
Move! Please! I beg you, move!
“Move!!!” Her mental scream turned into a verbal one.
A strong wind blew into the room. The curtain fluttered, and the books on the table scattered across the ground.
“Gulp… Ha… Ha…”
Witsen abruptly sat up while breathing haggardly.
What was that? A dream? What is this place? Karile… Where’s Karile?!
He looked around in search of her, but she was nowhere to be seen.
I… I fell down a cliff just now…
Strangely enough, he was now in what seemed to be a study room. The windows were all opened, the strong breeze making a mess of everything in the room. Witsen stood up by holding onto the table and looked outside the windows in an attempt to determine his location.
This… This is…!
After looking through the windows, he realised the room was floating in the sky. The entire room was surrounded by white clouds, while sunlight barely shone through the clouds.
Nope, can’t see anything.
The moment he had that thought, he could see the moon and stars hovering under the room.
“Witsen.” A mysterious voice resounded inside his head. It felt strangely familiar, as though it belonged to a close friend.
“I’m Mauss, but I’m not exactly Mauss either. We’ve met many times before, old friend.”
“Um, weren’t you eaten by… that thing?”
“Ah, no need to feel sorry about that. It was just a mere container anyways. Getting devoured hundreds of times was pretty irritating, but I removed my sense of pain, so it’s not a big deal.”
“What exactly are you?”
“G…od? Just think of me as a god, though hearing that from you is quite hard to bear.” The casual voice suddenly turned into a stern one. “Witsen, the bet between us, how much about it do you remember?”
“Ah, this is a problem. You actually forgot about it! Well nevermind, you’ll remember at some point. Just go back for now.”
Witsen felt like he had been pushed off a cliff by a massive force and was getting sucked downwards, crashing right through the floor. He could see the sun above him as he fell towards the moon below. This mystical sensation lasted for a while until he suddenly came to a halt. Just when he thought his fall has finally ended, he was sucked downwards once again, only this time with even greater force and pace.
When Witsen came back to his senses, he was back at the cliff with Karile besides him. However, he still felt that something was wrong with the situation. Right—he felt that he was still falling downwards when he shouldn’t be. It was only then he realised that they were all falling towards the bottom of the cliff.
“Stone giant! Cave!” Rawls did not panic and instead told the giant about his idea after seeing that there was a cave below. “Throw us over into the cave!”
The stone giant tossed them over one after another. Rawls and Witsen were the first to land in the cave. They slowed themselves down by stabbing their swords into the ground. Plato who was next was caught in Rawl’s sturdy arms.
“Witsen! Catch me!”
Although Karile could have done the same as Witsen and Rawls, her daggers were less capable of slowing her down than the two’s swords.
“I’m ready, anytime!” Witsen opened his arms and braced for the impact.
“Crap, that hurts…”
The stone giant was indeed quite accurate with its throws; Karile crashed right into Witsen. She eventually landed, but with Witsen squashed beneath her like a landing pad.
“Hah… Your catching skills are terrible,” Karile complained.
“Get… off… me… I can’t breath!”
Karile instantly got up, freeing the poor Witsen beneath her. The group walked over to the edge of the cave to witness the descent of the stone giant. They could not help but feel sorry because they were the ones who asked for help.
“Don’t… worry… about… me… It’s… great… you… lot… are… alright…”
Loud crashing sounds soon followed.
“Well, let’s go now,” Rawls patted Witsen and Karile on the shoulder.
Plato held up his staff and muttered something. His staff then started glowing, lighting up the pitch-black cave.
“Now the dark’s not a problem,” he proudly proclaimed.
When the group finally got a good look at their surroundings, they could not help but gasp. The small cave was connected to a larger cave, and embedded within the wall of the larger cave was a spiral staircase that lead downwards.