Volume 3 Chapter 2
The group walked down the spiral staircase. The stairs’ edges were all rather smooth from water and wind corrosion, and water droplets were slowly gliding down the walls. In short, the whole place was quite damp.
“Witsen, got any idea what’s this thingy?”
Plato moved his staff closer to the wall, the light showing a worn out mural. It was nothing fancy, and the mural itself was very simple. Although it looked sort of creepy, one could still make out the general idea of the depicted image.
In this particular mural, a man was kneeling in front of a white-robed elder who had a halo above his head and held a staff in his hand. The background was almost completely grey, but it could be guessed that it was the interior of a palace from its shape.
“You’re asking me if I’ve seen it before?”
When Witsen neared the mural to inspect it, his head suddenly seemed as though it had been struck by lightning and was aching like crazy.
Witsen knelt down while holding his head in pain. As he suffered from the excruciating pain, a scene began to emerge in his mind. It was a conversation between him and a god.
“Witsen, you should not have come.”
“But this is something I must do! You don’t want to see the world that you created fall into ruins right!”
“I know, child, but you lack power…”
The scene played like a vintage movie in his mind. The black and white scene was muted, and the dialogue was carried out through subtitles.
“Witsen!” Karile’s shout brought him back to reality.
His headache quickly faded as he recalled the scene. However, the scene escaped his mind quicker the more he tried to remember it.
What… was that?
“Witsen, are you fine?”
Karile helped him get up on his feet and patted the dust off his body.
“There’s another one here,” Plato said as he walked down the stairs. “There also!”
Plato shook his staff twice, and the staircase was immediately lit up brightly. The group was awestruck as they realised the murals covered the entire wall down the stairs. It seemed that the murals were depicting the same scene over and over again.
All of a sudden, Witsen was forced to view another scene that abruptly emerged from deep within his mind. His brain was running at full force in order to process the scene that seemed to be a sealed memory, and that process was a painful one.
“Please grant me your strength! I swear to fight against that monster.”
“Give you my strength? Child, how can I be sure that you’re not one of the enemy’s pawns? It’s not that I don’t want to trust you, I just can’t. I don’t know when you humans received the ability of ‘deceit’. It made your race stronger, but it also made all of you untrustworthy.”
“Please trust me, I belong to the side of light.”
“Sigh… Witsen, do you still not understand? Light and darkness are no more than two opposing factions. Every creature, regardless of the faction it chose to side with, has what it deems to be right within its heart. The side of light is not absolute righteousness, and darkness also has its reason to exist.”
“Right…” Witsen held his fists tightly. He could not think of anything to refute the god’s logic. Tears flowed down his cheeks and dropped to the ground.
“Go back, child. I’ll think of a way to protect you all.”
Should I give up just like this? No, I cannot give up.
Witsen thought before saying the phrase he had prepared beforehand. It was something he did not want to resort to, but he was left with no choice.
“I want to make a bet with you!”
“Hoh? A bet?”
“Yes,” Witsen replied as he took out a circular disk. “Please use this on me!”
“That’s!” The god suddenly became serious. “Where did you find that thing!”
The disk was an item that originated from the Norns. Born from chaos, their divinity was greater than any other god. They knew that despite their great divinity, they were not the strongest beings within the chaos. The Norns called the native beings that dwelled in and were the original rulers of chaos the “Ancients.”
When the Norns created the other deities and the world, the Ancients madly invaded their world. As such, the Norns had been defending against the Ancients the moment the world was created. With their last bit of strength, the Norns sealed the invaders inside the chaos and ended the invasion temporarily.
However, they knew that the invaders would never give up; in fact, they were just animals without intellect that acted on pure instinct. One day, the war would resume. For this reason, the goddesses sealed their very own power into the disk and tossed it into the world. Only those who passed the disk’s trial would be able to obtain their strength.
The people gave the disk the name “Norns’ Force”. The condition to pass the trial was to learn the seven aspects of strength through an endless cycle while maintaining rationality. However, only deities could activate the trial, thus mortals had little use for the disk.
“Please let me undergo the trial!”
“You! The prophecy, huh… Fine, I’ll permit it! I also wish to know how much you, a mortal, can do! Your bet, what is it?”
“If I pass the trial, you have to become the lord of the undead army.”