Omniscient First-Person’s Viewpoint Chapter 136

Chapter 136 - The Slanted Ceiling and the Mountain of Laughing Corpses - 8

༺ The Slanted Ceiling and the Mountain of Laughing Corpses – 8 ༻



  「…It oddly sounds like criticism.」


  Well of course, I was trying to make her feel bad. Despite being the Earth Sage, the first thing she did upon seeing those corpses was start a fight, no?


  Still, she brought her expression under control like the disciplined taoist she was and made a request.


  “That is a relic crafted by the Grandmaster of the Gaian Order. I hope to retrieve it.”


  “Don’t wanna. I passed the relic’s test. By the ancient rule of ‘finders keepers’, this Jizan is now mine.”


  My words could come across as a sudden wave of greed or a rightful claim. To the Earth Sage, it would naturally sound like the former.


  “Do not press the matter. I humbly admit to my shortcomings, but I am one allowed the title of Sage. On behalf of all Gaian disciples, I implore you to return it.”


  “Don’t press the matter? I could say the same. As the most ordinary human in the world, and on behalf of my kind, I declare this to be mine.”  


  Jizan trembled, as if trying to scream at me to stop lying. Dead things were so strange these days.


  I smacked it for being noisy. It hurt my fingers.


  「Did his desires ignite upon seeing the relic? Such is the unreliability of a prisoner’s character.」


  Clicking her tongue, the Earth Sage made one last attempt to persuade me, ready to resort to force if needed.


  “I devoted twenty years to reach the heart of this place. Two full decades. Even Tantalus itself was shaped by my hands. I personally descended to overturn the earth. My commitment is unparalleled.”


  “Ah, are we discussing stakes now? That sounds more like an adventurer than a Gaian disciple to me!”


  The Earth Sage’s eyes twitched.


  Adventurers. Self-proclaimed treasure hunters, or known by others as tomb raiders who disturbed the dead in search of personal effects and treasures. Likening a Gaian disciple to one of them was one of two things: being naive or politely throwing a calculated insult, asking for conflict.


  “You said it was to vanquish the abyss, yes? Then all’s well! As the holder of Jizan, I’ll get the job done! And it’s staying with me!”


  I hiccuped in the middle of my words.


  “Whew, talk about striking gold!”


  “Are you perhaps drunk?”


  “No? I’m not drunk at all? Nrgh, burp. Yeah, feels good! Never thought I’d pick up such a gem here!”


  As I blabbered in excitement, the Earth Sage shook her head and extended her hand.


  “It appears you are drunk. Then, if you will excuse me.”


  She intended to snatch Jizan from me. But as she was inches away from it, Jizan slightly flipped over, warding off her advance. But how could that work?


  The Earth Sage’s body was filled with extremely powerful Qi. She dispersed this energy throughout the earth with every step taken, rooting her to the ground. This was why she didn’t fall. With her advanced proficiency of the Earth Arts, and the Moon Arts she refined through training, she was veritably an ancient tree.


  Yet, an ancient tree cannot exist without the earth.




  With a creak, the Unswerving Blade, Jizan, effortlessly deflected her hand.


  Jizan felt light to me, but to anyone else, its weight was like that of a mountain. And not in the figurative sense. The sword was heavy like the heftiest rock on the planet.


  Could anyone match it in strength? Impossible. Could anyone resist it? Absolutely not. So long as I held it, I would never be outmatched in “strength”. It would consume any opposing force with its sheer mass.


  This was why Jizan was called the Unswerving Blade… though it was a staff in my hands.


  「He can not only carry but harness its power…? Why?」


  Shock and fear filled the Earth Sage’s eyes as I easily brushed her off. She wasn’t afraid because of the power bestowed upon me. Her fear arose from the unsettling thought that I could genuinely be Jizan’s master.


 Her gaze turned guarded.


  “…I do not know how you were chosen by the relic, Sir Hughes, but I must humbly ask again. Please relinquish it.”


  “Now we’re seeing eye to eye. Well? Ready to hear me out?”


  “Please go ahead. I am always ready to listen.”


  “Ahaha. Don’t you lie now. Listen? When you believe you’re the only worthy one? This’ll be like talking to a brick wall.”


  She didn’t flare up at my words, having realized my right.


  If a concrete building stood in my way, Jizan could easily force it aside, yet I found it only slightly heavy. Going by my experience, it weighed about the same as a magic wand with a knife hidden inside.


  I twirled Jizan around like a windmill as I spoke.


  “These days, magic is so advanced that we don’t need to worry about firewood. They say even ordinary households just cremate their dead now. How many have you interred lately?”


  “…You need not worry, for I have buried plenty enough.”


  “Yet you seem out of touch with handling the deceased?”


  “You are peddling falsehoods. How could I be out of touch?”


  She spread her arms wide, as if to emphasize her composure amidst this mountain of dead bodies.


  I pointed out exactly that.


  “That’s what I’m talking about. You standing on these bodies so nonchalantly.”


  Her arms stiffened, her voice quivering in response.


  “…What did you say?”


  “What’s the reason? How can you tread so calmly on the dead? Why do you casually channel Qi into the ground of corpses to support yourself? Why do you nonchalantly blow up the whole mountain?”


  The regressor had an aversion for corpses, so much so that she momentarily froze when covered in the undying’s remains. It was why she used the inverted Tantalus or her Stepping Clouds as leverage. It never occurred to her to destroy her opponent’s footing until she was defeated.


  No one found that odd. The aversion to corpses was close to an instinct, after all.


  “People hate death, even when it’s not their own. That’s why we avoid corpses and bury both the deceased and our feelings in the earth and our hearts. Gravetenders are disciples who uphold this sentiment.”


  The Earth Sage, on the other hand?




  The Earth Sage flinched at my sigh, like a guilty student. My stern admonition pierced her ears. 


  “As a gravetender, you’re less than Mr. Shei.”


  My words were straightforward, devoid of condemnation.


  “Even after seeing this mountain of corpses, you were the first to move forward. Even though you saw those specters still bound by duty, you failed to recognize them. And shockingly, you even made a mess of graves made by others.”




  The Earth Sage opened her mouth to make an excuse, yet no words came out.


  I bluntly assessed her.


  “You’re a failure as a gravetender.”


  A mix of embarrassment, shame, and defiance rose inside her. But before she could protest, I spread my arms and emphatically continued.


  “But it’s okay! What’s the point of being good at burying bodies? You’ve done so much more than all that honoring the dead business!”


  I wasn’t lying. Again, I meant it. She had likely made a hundred times more concrete sacks than the funerals she conducted, saving just as many more lives than she laid to rest. The infrastructure she established still remained integral to the Military State.


  I might’ve heard people curse the country itself, but I never heard anyone fault the Earth Sage. Only mock resentment, with people jesting, ‘She should have fixed the country before the dam.’


  I conveyed my sincere admiration.


  “I respect you, Lady Earth Sage. I’m not lying. While it’s honorable to make graves for the departed, does it compare to constructing buildings for the living? Would the engineers buried by your hand be happier, or the engineers who live because of you?”


  She didn’t respond, lost in thought. I read everything that passed through her mind as I pressed on.


  “You spoke of destroying the abyss to reinstate Gaian power, but let’s face it.”


  This was a cold truth she probably knew herself.


  “Destroying the abyss won’t restore faith in Mother Earth. Because no matter how you spin it, what happened, happened.”


  War continued to rage along with the rise of Sanctum, and communal funerals became the norm. As magic and alchemy advanced, the need for firewood diminished, and the trend shifted toward cremation. The impoverished, lacking both the land to bury their dead and the money to purchase coffins, sought out Sanctum’s affordable services.


  Thus, gravetenders gradually fell out of favor.


  Putting aside the period before the Grandmaster emerged, the Gaian Order later clearly showcased miracles. So why did both the Dharma King and the Overlord oppose the Gaian Order?


  The Overlord had simply claimed it was because they were a nuisance, but there had to be more to it.


  “There were just too many deaths, I guess. With limited land, burial’s a hard option. Everyone’s occupied with work, yet those unknown gravetenders were running around. A bother for sure.”


  The Celestial Order may have attributed it to divine will, but it was just the ebb and flow of time.


  “If the Gaian Order seems resurgent, it’s because they’ve moved past their old stubborn stance of not siding with certain countries, and laid the groundwork for the Military State instead of digging graves for the dead.”


  When the Military State beckoned, the Gaian disciples were wary. It had long been taboo for religions to answer the call of a nation. They felt all the more reluctant considering the case of the Overlord, where gravetenders were summoned only to be massacred.


  But the Earth Sage persisted, leading to the rise of the Military State and the Gaian Order. The uncompromising State recognized her contributions with a star, albeit honorary, and she didn’t refuse. As a result, her faith gradually gained recognition.


  “To be exact, it’s thanks to your endeavors, Lady Earth Sage. The lives you saved, the facilities you built, and the feats you accomplished established sacred authority itself. That lost power wasn’t ‘recovered’. It was ‘rebuilt’.”


  Following the embarrassingly lavish praise, I turned slightly to reveal the Grandmaster behind me.


  The Grandmaster was dying in solitude as she knelt in respect atop the mountain of corpses, offering solace to the souls of the dead.


  The Earth Sage, on the other hand, was less a burier and more a builder. She moved only forward, not looking back. That’s why she didn’t fall.


  “You claim to have inherited the Grandmaster’s will, but is that true? When comparing you now to the Gaian Grandmaster of 1300 years ago, what do you have in common?”


  They only shared the same religion and wielded similar powers. I highlighted their stark differences.


  “So, you are suggesting, Sir Hughes…”


  The Earth Sage inhaled deeply, her voice low and tinged with bitterness as she stood before the Grandmaster.


  “That I am not deserving of Jizan.”


  I chuckled.


  “No. You have the same right as any ordinary person.”


“Meaning, I am not the rightful owner of this relic and…”


  “You need to earn it. Just like everyone else.”


  “Very well.”


  The Earth Sage nodded, coming face to face with her true desire through my words.


  “You are right, Sir Hughes. Indeed, I have made a spectacle before Jizan, desecrating graves. I understand why Master cautioned me against arrogance…”


  She grew more forthright.


  “However, I am a servant of Mother Earth. I require the Grandmaster’s relic, this symbol of hidden legacy. To unite the scattered disciples, reveal the truth to the world, and have Sanctum answer for their sins.”


  In other words, she revealed her true colors.


  “Give it to me.”


  「Or else, I will take it by force if necessary.」


  I burst into laughter.


  “Aha! Ahahaha! Ahahahaha!”


   It was natural. A person doesn’t need qualifications to act. What else defines limitation apart from a lack of ability?


  Speaking for the dead? Who could dare? How can you speak for those you know nothing about, especially concerning events from 1300 years ago?


  “Haha. Very good. I love that kind of honesty! You should’ve been upfront from the start!”


  “Then, will you hand it over?”


  “Take it…!”


  I promptly offered Jizan. But the regressor, who had been groaning beneath corpses and concrete down below, yelled with her eyes wide.


  “You can’t give it to her!”


  What, all of sudden? Well that’s unfair. It’s going to look like I changed my mind because of you now—I wasn’t going to give it up yet!


  The Earth Sage’s hand grasped at empty air as I deftly maneuvered Jizan out of her reach. The corners of her eyes twitched, while my face lit up with glee.


  “…If you can, that is!”


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Omniscient First-Person’s Viewpoint

Omniscient First-Person’s Viewpoint

Status: Ongoing Author:
I, a mere con artist, was unjustly imprisoned in Tantalus, the Abyssal Prison meant for the most nefarious of criminals, where I met a Regressor.   But when I used my ability to read her mind, I found out that I was fated to die in a year…   And that the world would end 10 years later.


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