Omniscient First-Person’s Viewpoint Chapter 137

Chapter 137 - The Slanted Ceiling and the Mountain of Laughing Corpses - 9

༺ The Slanted Ceiling and the Mountain of Laughing Corpses – 9 ༻

 

 

  The Earth Sage’s hand repeatedly snatched at empty space as I evaded her attempts to seize Jizan, guiding it with slight twitches of my fingertips.

 

  「Right, left, up.」

 

  Reading her mind, I moved left, right, and down. Oh, from her perspective of course.

 

  Either she came up empty-handed, or Jizan collided with her wrist, or she narrowly missed it. The Earth Sage was consistently outmaneuvered in this game of wits.

 

  Oh I love a fight where only I win. This is what I call a real mind game.

 

  「In that case, I will target his very hand…!」

 

  After successive defeats, the Earth Sage resorted to lunging with a wide arc of her arm toward my hand. Since Jizan’s movements stemmed from my hold, she aimed to wrest it away by seizing my hand.

 

  “Hey now, that’s cheating.”

 

  With a mere flick of Jizan, the Unswerving Blade, her hand was sent back with doubled force. 

 

  There was only one way to seize the sword: catch my hand at the exact right moment. If too slow or too quick, she’d simply be repelled. Brute force wasn’t an option, which was why even she was having such a hard time.

 

  Clenching her fists tightly, she shot a growl at me.

 

  “… I am only playing along because I do not wish to harm you, Sir Hughes.”

 

  “I know that.”

 

  “Holding Jizan does not make you invincible. How about we stop here before you suffer harm?”

  

  Indeed, the Earth Sage had in mind more than dozens of strategies to make mincemeat out of me. Dropping concrete from above, shattering the ground beneath me, or pulling me with a technique like Void Gravitation.

 

  No, in reality, I’d be done for if she just chose to get up close and personal.

 

  For the moment, I could manage to dodge thanks to Jizan’s nimble movements, controlled with simple flicks of my fingertips. But if she quickened her pace up close, my funeral would be decided.

 

  Maybe I’d stand a chance if I were holding a card, but with a steel staff, I couldn’t keep up. I had to somehow steer this dire situation into a game of wits with set rules.

 

  I provocatively presented Jizan to the Earth Sage.

 

  “Why not take it? What’s the trouble? Am I hiding it in a closet or defending it with my life? Take it if you can, yeah?”

 

  “… Very well.”

 

  The Earth Sage clenched both fists, her competitive spirit flaring. It seemed she finally planned on using both hands.

 

  「My hands are a diversion. I will use Qi to send a quake beneath him.」

 

  She lifted her foot high, intending to shake the ground and send me flying. If she could force Jizan from my grip, she could seize it and undergo the relic’s test.

 

  At the end of the day, I was an ordinary person without any special traits whatsoever. The fact that Jizan was in my hand didn’t mean it would remember me and deny its power to others… It was a relic and a tool, and I was just some guy who could hold it.

 

  And you should never let go of your test papers till you’re done with them.

 

  Reading the Earth Sage’s intent, I pretended to evade her grasp, only to catch her leg with Jizan.

 

  「Agh!」

 

  Not even the Unyielding could bear the weight of the earth itself. Instead of using the ground, she kicked off Jizan.

 

  I had basically sent a person flying with the tip of a sword, yet all I felt was the weight of a mosquito landing. I was awed by Jizan’s power, and at the same time thrilled at the sensation of being strong.

 

  “Yes, you wouldn’t fall. You’ll keep going onward and onward. You’re a builder, someone who turns ruins into results. Mourning the dead in reminiscence doesn’t suit you.”

 

  Landing in the distance, the Earth Sage cast me a chilling glare, but I continued murmuring casually.

 

  “Destroying the abyss was justification, an excuse to bypass the taboo of ignoring the nation’s summons. Your constructions with the Military State were significantly beneficial, but your failure to eradicate the abyss left you without a reason to lead the Gaian Order, didn’t it?”

 

  She could wish for nothing more than to have Jizan on top of her achievements. So long as she possessed the Grandmaster’s symbol and relic which represented the power of the earth itself, the Gaian Order would rally under her.

 

  “And you have to take Jizan to hold Sanctum accountable. You’d tell them, ‘Give us a meal! Haven’t you been feeding yourselves well enough? Share the pie!’ How perfect!”

 

  The gesture by itself would hold meaning, easing the pent-up frustrations of Gaian disciples and placing them on equal footing with Sanctum.

 

  The Earth Sage slowly rose.

 

  “… So, you truly intend to interfere?”

 

  “I won’t! I’ve been urging you to take it!”

 

  “In that case…”

 

  Qi surged from the Earth Sage, radiating in every direction. As she took a booming step forward, the ground quivered.

 

  Earth Folding. It was a technique where the user channeled their energy into the ground, instantly pulling it toward them to propel forward. The Earth Sage, utilizing more momentum than agility, lunged and aimed a punch at me.

 

  If I used Jizan to block…

 

  「If he uses it to block, I will kick him instead. Even if it breaks my leg.」

 

  Eh.

 

  「Given Jizan’s length, he cannot defend both directions. He will have to use his body to counter one.」

 

  I shuddered in disgust. Why did she insist on physically waging psychological warfare? What options did that leave a fragile mind reader like me? If this wasn’t barbaric, I didn’t know what was.

 

  But as I was grumbling inwardly, I heard a sharp cry as long silver hair and a dress whipped before me. It was Tyr. She shot me a resentful glance before raising her arms to intercept the Earth Sage’s punch.

 

  On a gut instinct, I shut my eyes. A wise choice, as it turned out.

 

A boom resonated, followed by a massive shockwave that caused the surrounding dead bodies to shiver.

 

  When I opened my eyes, I saw the earthen energy that had filled the Earth Sage mingling with Tyr’s crimson drops of blood, expanding in a circle. The earthen energy settled back into the ground while Tyr’s blood appeared to rewind in time, flowing back into her.

 

  The two women stood close, fists locked and glaring at each other. The Earth Sage broke the silence.

 

  “… Progenitor. I recall you said you would not attack.”

 

  “If you would not show aggression.”

 

  “But I have never shown you such behavior.”

 

  “Any aggression toward him is tantamount to treating me the same.”

  

  Tyr spoke as if telling an obvious fact. The Earth Sage cast me a glance before replying.

 

  “… You have been ensnared by a bad man.”

 

  “… It is undeniable. I concur.”

 

  With those words, the fighting resumed. Tyr didn’t dodge. Concentrating blood into her eyes, she tracked the Earth Sage’s fists and met them head-on.

 

  It was a pure collision of strength against strength, followed by a resultant shockwave. Tyr was slightly pushed back, but she quickly regained balance and lunged at the Earth Sage, making no attempt to protect her vitals.

 

  「The battle itself is in my favor. The Progenitor’s strength is clumsy; she appears unversed in close combat. Yet… I am at a disadvantage.」

 

  The Earth Sage revised her plan, her gaze flickering from Tyr’s arms to her body, and then to the ground beneath her.

 

  「I am taking great losses, unable to match blow for blow. She remains unscathed. Moreover…」

 

  The environment, with its concrete ceiling and mountain of corpses, had favored the Earth Sage thus far. However, that advantage held only against the regressor. Against Tyr, the corpse mountain beneath them was essentially the ideal stage for the vampire.

 

  While Tyr’s blood magic was currently limited to controlling blood in her immediate vicinity, the Earth Sage was unaware of this. And even if she did know, the terrain would still favor Tyr.

 

  「It would be quicker to shake her off.」

 

  Feinting a punch, the Earth Sage executed a swift Pankration maneuver, ducking and diving forward. Tyr, though caught off guard, immediately retaliated with a kick from her unstable stance. Her leg moved in a surreal trajectory, seemingly independent of the human anatomy, yet packing force equal to her opponent’s.

 

  But even though it was slightly more powerful than expected, it still fell within the Earth Sage’s calculations.

 

  The Earth Sage bled as her skin tore. In the same moment, she seized both Tyr’s leading foot and the pile of corpses below. Then, she hurled everything skyward.

 

  “Ahh!”

 

  Tyr could hardly endure when she was tossed along with the very ground.

 

  Whoom. Tyr rocketed toward the ceiling, as if plummeting inversely toward Tantalus. Her collision echoed with a resounding thud.

 

  Having sent Tyr flying, the Earth Sage began striding toward me.

 

  “Where do you think you’re going? Stop right there!”

 

  But at that moment, a torrent of blood erupted from behind, slamming into her. Tyr had manipulated the blood from the airborne corpses, directing it all at the Earth Sage’s exposed back.

 

  Kaboom! Blood-formed fists battered her back, shoulders, and legs. The power unleashed by Tyr’s bloodcraft caused the corpse mountain to explode, leaving behind a crater.

 

  The Earth Sage emitted a painful groan. Her earring quivered before shattering to pieces.

 

  「… I cannot face Jizan with my rear unguarded! I need more time!」

 

  Using Preceding Funeral to momentarily regain her energy, the Earth Sage clicked her tongue and spun around. She plunged her hands into midair, seemingly wrenching open a gateway. An ominous creaking sounded from her fingertips.

 

  Then, Tantalus opened. The prison yawned wide, parting into halves to consume Tyr.

 

  Realizing the Earth Sage’s intention, Tyr frantically waved her arms, but the Earth Sage’s geomancy was faster. In an instant, Tyr’s figure disappeared into the depths of Tantalus.

 

  Rumble. Though out of sight, Tyr was clawing her way out of the concrete from within. But tunneling through solid earth was uncharted territory even for her. It would take her some time to escape.

 

  With Tyr momentarily incapacitated, the Earth Sage turned to face me, panting heavily. Nothing stood between the two of us now.

  

  “Now there is no one to protect you.”

 

  I nodded in agreement.

 

  “That’s right. It’s finally time for the last test.”

 

  “Arghh!”

 

  Suddenly, the regressor emerged with a roar from the pile of concrete she had been buried under. She wasn’t in her best condition, having just recovered from exhaustion, but the fire in her eyes alone burned fiercely.

  

  “Hang in there, just a little!”

  

  The Earth Sage grew urgent at the mounting threats. She rapidly closed the distance between us.

 

  “I have no time to partake in your test. Hand it over.”

 

  「Your life is out of my hands now.」

 

  She would kill me if necessary.

 

  Just then, Ralion, Tyr’s final safeguard, stepped in front of me.

 

  The steed had suffered because of Azzy, then Nabi, and now, it was confronted with the Earth Sage. Ralion had every right to complain about the brutal lineup, yet it charged fearlessly.

 

  While the familiar held the Earth Sage momentarily at bay, I cocked back Jizan instead of running away.

 

  “No. The test isn’t for you.”

 

  There was no test for the Earth Sage, an individual who marched on simply by her own strength. The one who had to undergo trial was…

 

  I turned, glancing at the Grandmaster’s corpse, impaled and kneeling. I wasn’t sure if I saw it right, but something shimmering seemed to fall from it.

 

  “Now. It’s time for your postponed test, Grandmaster.”

 

  I couldn’t mind read the dead, and I didn’t know if I saw a tear or an illusion. Regardless, Jizan would have to answer.

 

  As the Earth Sage smashed Ralion apart, our eyes locked amidst the spray of blood. And just as I prepared to throw Jizan, her eyes snapped wide.

  

  「He cannot be trying to throw it? Right now?」

 

  Correct.

 

  「Where to?」

 

  Somewhere between the Earth Sage and the regressor.

 

  「Why all of a sudden?」

 

  Well, because of a postponed test.

 

  With a grin, I hurled Jizan far into the distance.

 

  The pitch-black stick, resembling both sword and staff, spiraled through the air. Who’d imagine such a small thing to possess the weight of a mountain? Yet despite its wonder, its trajectory in flight was no different from a typical staff.

 

  「Nice pass… or should I say too close for comfort! Throw it right, will you!」

 

  Upon its release, the regressor raced toward its anticipated landing point, with the Earth Sage hot on her heels.

 

  「He must face the test even if he catches it! It will be impossible to wield it right away! But as a weaver of earth, even without the test I could…!」

 

  Really, how many times do I have to say it? It’s not your test to take.

 

  -Was this really the only way…?

 

  The crucifix trembled slightly, a voice emanating from its end as if speaking to me.

 

  I replied without even turning my head.

 

  “Yes. Choose. It’s easier this time, right? You just have to pick the one who’ll wield your power.”

 

  -Ahh… So even in death, I could not escape.

 

  “It’s not that you couldn’t escape. You did it. If you didn’t want to leave a trace, you wouldn’t have left the relic behind.”

 

  -How cruel of you. Truly cruel…

 

  Jizan vibrated as it flew, while below it, the regressor and the Earth Sage were still in pursuit. The latter was ever so slightly closer.

 

  If nothing was done, the Earth Sage would claim the relic and embark on a relentless crusade to revive the Gaian Order. She would see it happen one day… even at the cost of her life.

 

  As for the regressor, however…

 

  -Has that young girl truly witnessed the future? She seeks to confront the King of Sins?

 

  “Believe as you wish. It’s a fluid, unpredictable future, just like the prophecy you received from the Oracle.”

 

  The choice she put off had returned. Would she leave things to the Oracle, who dreamt of better days, and lay the matter to rest? Or face forward, even if it would stain her in blood’s scarlet hue?

 

  -Ahh, your cruelty knows no bounds.

 

  The Grandmaster of the past didn’t make much of a choice. She faltered, met her end at the Oracle’s hands, and lost the chance to even decide anything as she fell into the abyss.

 

  -Yet… even if this is revealed as a mistake in the future.

 

  When it came to it, she couldn’t bury the Overlord’s soldiers. She just continued to be pushed around. Had she possessed the willpower to bury the Overlord’s 100,000 soldiers, the course of history would’ve changed.

 

  But if the Grandmaster were that kind of person, the deaths of 300,000 wouldn’t have weighed so heavily on her heart.

 

  -I… mourn death. I fear the lifeless body. I loathe foretold destruction. Rather than a grand palace built upon bloodied soil, I cherish more a single, small flower blooming on a grave.

 

  Abruptly, the airborne Jizan veered off its path.

 

  Both the Earth Sage and the regressor looked on in astonishment. The relic’s movement was solely a manifestation of Jizan’s will—subtle yet unmistakable. Nothing else could explain its illogical change.

 

  -This is not for their sake… but for my fragile being.

 

  Ultimately, Jizan’s choice settled on… the regressor.

 

  -I will bury death—within the embrace of Mother Earth.

 

  The moment she made her resolve, the crucifix impaling the Grandmaster began to disintegrate from its base.

 

  The treasure of Sanctum, which had frozen time, vanished. As if unraveling the tightly wound threads of time, the sharp edge of the crucifix rapidly corroded, succumbing to the centuries it was owed.

 

  Sensing her fading essence, I murmured in farewell.

 

“Goodbye, Chorine, the first Earthweaver, the last gravetender—the mortal who couldn’t quite ascend to divinity. Your resolve, along with your transgression, has echoed back through time. Your present choice has allowed your past self to shed regrets and reclaim sin.”

 

  On this day, she resolved the decision she had faltered upon and the lingering regret that accompanied it. At last, she could find her peace.

 

“You couldn’t become the end of 100,000 soldiers, but you were a good gravetender who comforted the souls of 300,000 captives. May you rest easy in Mother Earth’s embrace.”

 

  -Thank you…

 

  And so, the waning consciousness of the Grandmaster faded beyond the horizon, and the unfinished tale found its closure across time.

 

 

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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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