Translator and editor: SaltyTank
They decided to run away.
Although they had no idea where they could go nor how long could they run for, instead of waiting for their deaths here, they might as well try to pass their remaining days a bit more happily. A life in which they could pretend this was a nice world, forget about the gods’ threat, and live peacefully albeit only a facade.
Andre was the one who made the decision.
He could not accept such an ending to their tale, but just as those monsters that were a hideous mess, many unacceptable things existed in the world, almost too many.
Abandoning himself to despair and avenging Prommel was nothing but an act of selfishness. It was just a means of freeing himself from this world and escaping from Hilde and Marie, perhaps even from Jade.
Now, he had made up his mind to shoulder the responsibility forward and complete Prommel’s final wishes.
Andre originally planned to search for Prommel’s body, but the gods had strengthened their security and patrols after their previous operation. Even after camping for an opportunity half a day, he could not find an opening and dared not to act rashly. Upon losing Prommel, they could no longer extract blood for combat use.
Still having the power to resist the gods for now, they would run away as far away as possible when they could.
‘Then… I’ll go to the warehouse in the workshop and see if there’s anything useful.’
While everyone packed their necessary belongings, Jade who had nothing to do said so.
‘Oh, thanks lil’ Jade. It’s late already, hurry up and tuck in kay? We’re almost done too.’
Hilde waved at her, her face showing a smile with much effort.
Jade nodded and headed towards the workshop area. Along the way, she subconsciously stopped by Prommel’s laboratory. She stood blankly in front of it and her hands moved to open the door on their own.
She entered the messy room where traces of Arnold and Lenora’s mischief remained. They did not have the time to tidy the place up, and after the meeting everyone had been busy with preparing for the operation. The god’s arm that the kids used as a piece of cloth was still lying there on the ground.
Jade sighed and picked it up. For some reason, the arm was almost divided into two from the centre, the other half dangling. Surprised, she carefully inspected it and noticed that the tissues in the centre were almost completely destroyed, and the arm was just barely held together.
It was a repulsive sight, so she did not give it much thought and simply tossed it back onto the cart filled with god corpses, not sparing it another look.
Turning around, Jade faced the shelf full of failed prototypes and felt emotions stir up within her. Prommel had spent so many years and invested so much effort into the project, yet it ultimately did not produce the results he had longed for—the god slaying sword was nothing but a dream.
Jade could not find anything of use in the room. Shaking her head, she left the laboratory.
Next to the lab was a room for storing books and records. It was likely full of items they would not need to bring away, but she still went in out of curiosity. A few books lying on a desk caught her eye.
‘Hm? Tunin—The Final Ritual?’
She flipped open the book and realised it was about the ritual that had brought the gods’ wrath upon mankind. On the day which the Tuninese thanked the gods for their blessings, the people were instead massacred.
‘Holy Calendar Year 732, they could see the sun and exclaimed about the azure, pure sky—then the sky collapsed. The gods descended from above, and they dyed the land blood-red.’
‘Collapsing…’ Jade murmured. ‘What does a pure sky look like?’
She closed the book and picked up another one titled Minerals of Light. It was a story about how the Tuninese discovered lightstones. Jade never knew about the origins of lightstones and had not expected such a story.
‘Holy Calendar Year 725, two Tuninese fell down a ravine. Under the gods’ guidance, they walked for two days… After going through the mountains, they discovered a land void of smog and stones that radiated light.’
She had learnt something new, though upon the thought that they never knew how long they could survive for, Jade could not help but chuckle and stopped reading further.
It was then she saw a slightly worn out book that seemed to have been flicked through many times. Perhaps it was a book Prommel frequented, so she picked it up.
It was a travel diary and dictionary written by a person who had loved Tuninese culture.
Prommel had once said that he really liked Tuninese culture as well. It was not much of a surprise to find on a slightly folded page that his name was indeed a Tunin word which meant ‘protect’.
Tears almost felt from her eyes again.
Flipping through the book quickly, she was trying to find out more about Prommel when a word entered her eyes—Brynhildr.
Jade immediately stopped right there.
‘Brynhildr refers to people who “have courage”, in short, a brave hero.’
‘A brave hero…’ Jade spaced out on the spot. ‘So this is your dream and expectations?’
Recalling about the sheets of information scattered across his desk in his laboratory, Jade now understood how serious and determined Prommel had been.
Indeed, without such determination and bravery, how could one have eaten something as disgusting as brain cores? How could he fight against such monsters?
He had great hopes on what he could do for his world, hoping he could be the world’s Brynhildr and defeat the monsters. This was the Project Brynhildr he had always hoped to complete, aiming to create a god-slaying weapon that could rival the monsters.
And yet, the plan had come to a halt along with his death. He failed to become Brynhildr.
Jade slammed the book shut and placed all the books back onto their shelves, closing her eyes and sighing. She shook her head, as though she was trying to shake off all those depressing emotions within her.
She left the room. To avoid falling into the whirlpool of depression, Jade did what she initially planned on doing and went to search for useful tools in the storage rooms. Most of the stuff could not be carried away, so she picked a few tools that were useful in the wilderness and scurried back to the common area.
Everyone had returned to their rooms to rest already, with no one to be seen in the empty common area.
Jade walked over to the round table. Prommel’s manuscripts were still lying there. Giving it some thought, she decided to tidy them up and place them back into his laboratory.
A noticeably newer manuscript that had somewhat sloppy handwriting caught her attention, probably something that had only been written recently. Many seemingly unrelated terms were written on it, such as ‘monsters’, ‘smog’, ‘collapse’, and many more. These three terms in particular were connected together with lines along with several question marks. Giving it a closer look, Jade could see the word ‘produce’ in the middle of the line connecting ‘smog’ and ‘monsters’. On the other side of the line was ‘constitute’.
‘Monsters constitute the smog…?’ Jade shook her head. ‘No, Prommel should be saying that smog constitutes the monsters.’
The gods placed a heavy emphasis on smog, so much that they started producing it on the ground in order to carry out their invasion and heavily guarded the site. To Jade, it was unfathomable. If smog could aid in their regeneration, perhaps there were some similarities between the two. Once she had such an idea, the smog filling the atmosphere felt even more disgusting than before.
‘Ugh… I wanna suck up all the smog with lightstones,’ Jade grumbled.
Upon saying those words, a rough concept suddenly started forming within her head. At the same time, the knowledge from the manuscripts and books rushed through her mind.
Gods needed smog, while lightstone could absorb smog.
The people who had discovered lightstones were none other than the Tuninese.
It was the Tuninese who bore the brunt of the gods’ wrath. The world was not small at all, and the Tuninese was not that big of a tribe—so why them?
In Holy Calendar Year 725, lightstones had been discovered. In Year 732, they could finally see the clear skies. Not long after, the skies collapsed along with the gods that punished the city of Tunin.
But where did the rocks come from? Where did the gods come from?
Jade then remembered about the eerie shadows she had seen in the sky. Maybe, there were lifeforms living on those shadows?
Smog had existed for centuries already. Humans had never glimpsed into the skies all that time, what if it was the same for the existences living above? Did they not know there were humans living below them?
If lightstones had indeed broken the equilibrium, causing the islands in the sky to crumble and fall… That would be a reasonable explanation for why the gods descended from above. The gods’ actions also left a strong impression in Jade; in every village they had attacked, they would destroy almost all the lightstones.
‘What, what am I thinking…’
Feeling dizzy, Jade staggered and almost fell, scattering the documents in her hand all over the floor. She crouched to pick up the sheets of paper but ended up falling onto her bottom.
Jade looked around the base just because she was reminiscing about Prommel, yet by following his heritage, she had seemingly opened up a new path by stepping over his footsteps.
Prommel’s studies had not finished just yet, perhaps there were still new clues to be found—he just could not complete the journey in time. Project Brynhildr which he left behind might still be possible, even if there was only a sliver of chance.
Discovering such a thing when they were preparing to leave, it was as though Prommel was the agent of fate who guided Jade onto his path. Everyone had already decided to run away, but was that the right decision? If there was even the slightest of hope, should they try and grasp it?
Jade simply sat there, her mind occupied. She recalled something Prommel had told her before: ‘Everyone has things that they can do.’
Discovering such things at the last moment, did it mean it was something she could do? At that moment, Jade felt that perhaps it was her destiny.
They were bound to meet their demise anyways. She might as well finish the journey Prommel could not complete on his own when she could.
Making up her mind, she looked up.
She half-ran and half-crawled her way to the laboratory and picked up the tattered arm, the one which Arnold had used to wipe the lightstones.
Back then, she had not given it too much thought, assuming it was because of the blood. Thinking in retrospect, how could a mere child who had never received combat training cut the god with just a few swipes, when even Andre had to muster every ounce of his strength just to sink his blade into the gods?
Jade moved the lightstone over to the desk and rolled it over to the side where there was no blood. The pointy edge she was looking for was there.
If the gods’ tissues indeed had smog-like components… Maybe, just maybe, the lightstones that could absorb smog and had always been targeted by the gods could…
Jade picked up the arm and pushed it against the lightstone’s pointy edge.