༺ Apostle (3) ༻
The earth heaved upwards as the ground trembled violently.
Despite his splitting headache, Vera raised his head and saw the giant figure rising to its feet.
The colossal giant loomed at a distance that distorted all sense of scale, once again looking down at Vera after four long years.
The giant let out a ponderous rumble.
His eyes shifted from Vera to peer at the spot below.
[…What is happening here?]
With a voice that shook the very air, Terdan looked in the direction where Vargo and Alaysia were.
As Vera raced towards the two once more, the giant Terdan spoke.
[There seems to be an unwelcome face here.]
Vargo’s eyes blazed fiercely.
After days of ceaseless battle, his clothes were tattered rags, and his body was covered in blood.
Gasping for breath, the first thought that came to Vargo as he gazed up at Terdan was, ‘Why has he awakened?’
His body had already reached its limit, and his divinity had weakened to a level incomparable to the start of this fight.
Taking on two ancient species at once in this state was impossible for him.
Though he hoped the giant wasn’t an enemy, that couldn’t be guaranteed in this confrontation.
In the midst of this, Alaysia spoke.
“Long time no see.”
Those words came out as she was regenerating her body, which had been shattered by Vargo.
And with a flick of his hand, he swatted Alaysia away.
She dissolved into droplets of blood, but Terdan acted as if this wasn’t a problem and proceeded to ask a question.
[How dare you greet me with that face?]
It was clearly directed at Alaysia.
The fact that she had become bloody scraps of scattered flesh didn’t matter to Terdan.
He had suffered through her immortality too many times to be bothered by this, and he knew that this level of damage wasn’t enough to harm her.
Terdan’s thoughts were correct.
Alaysia, who had splattered into lumps of human flesh, started squirming around and reattached herself.
First, she reconstructed her head and looked at Terdan with a mischievous smile.
[Abomination. I will not forgive you.]
“It hurts so much.”
[Do you truly know what pain is?]
During their conversation, the base of Alaysia’s neck bubbled.
Her arms grew from her shoulders, her chest connected to her waist and hips, and her legs formed sequentially below that, returning her to her original appearance.
Vargo’s expression twisted in anger.
Terdan glanced at him, gave a hollow laugh, and said.
[My, my. You tried to face this woman with a human body? The Mace of the Parent is truly courageous this time.]
His voice was so loud that it seemed to tear through the eardrums.
After fixing his grip on his mace, Vargo glared at Terdan as he spoke.
“…For what reason have you awoken?”
Although his appearance was friendly at the moment, Vargo remained alert with an underlying tension.
Believing it was a priority to find out why Terdan had awoken in this situation, he asked that question. However, the answer that came back was something Vargo hadn’t even considered.
[Hm…? Ah, it was not you who woke me up.]
Terdan’s head lifted slightly with a rumbling sound.
Following his line of sight, Vargo’s eyes widened.
Someone was running towards them.
It was a gloomy-looking young man with black hair and gray eyes.
Seeing him running urgently and gasping for breath, calling out to him, Vargo laughed in disbelief.
“So, it’s you who caused this mess?”
Although his words were scolding, they carried a warmth amidst the situation.
Having confirmed that Vargo was still alive, Vera let out a sigh of relief and came to a stop at his side.
‘It wasn’t too late.’
With that thought, Vera could finally let go of the tension that had been wrapped around his body.
“Are you alright?”
“Do I look alright to you?”
“I apologize for being so late.”
Vargo gave a rough reply to Vera’s words before looking ahead again.
It wasn’t the best time to exchange greetings.
Alaysia’s gaze turned to Vera.
Likewise, Vera stared back at her.
At last, he stood face to face with the true enemy, whom he had only been entangled with indirectly until now.
Alaysia greeted shyly, covering her body with her arm and blushing.
Vera felt every hair on his body prickle.
The malice pouring from her and flowing through the realm of Intention was revolting beyond description.
Vera readjusted the grip on his sword.
Vargo, too, drew out every last bit of his remaining divinity to reforge his mace.
“Um, um. I shouldn’t be introducing myself like this… This is so embarrassing…”
Alaysia giggled with a smile on her face, but her eyes weren’t laughing. Then, she clawed open her own chest and smeared the blood gushing out all over her white naked body.
“Is this better?”
It would be abnormal not to feel utterly repulsed by her bizarre actions, which were accompanied by such a beaming smile.
“She’s dangerous. Be on your guard.”
After Vargo’s warning, Vera began layering his divinity over the Holy Sword.
In that instant—
[Let me toss out the trash first before we talk.]
Terdan reached out his hand.
There was a shockwave and a deafening roar.
It was caused by that giant body moving at a speed too fast for the eye to track.
He skillfully swept past Vera and Vargo, grabbing only Alaysia, and hurled her skyward with all his might.
The air burst.
Underneath the moonlight, soil and blood scattered like rain, leaving a dark streak behind.
Watching Alaysia fly away with blank expressions on their faces, Vera and Vargo turned their attention to Terdan.
[I have thrown her quite far, so she should not be coming back here. Hm, she probably landed somewhere around the Western Sea.]
At his nonchalant remark, the two clenched their jaws tightly.
Through a series of events, Vera and Vargo confirmed that Terdan had a friendly disposition toward them. As they finally let go of their tension, Terdan spoke.
[That wicked thing seems to have caused trouble again.]
As Terdan said those words, he dropped onto the ground with a rumbling sound. Shortly after, Terdan glanced at Vera and Vargo before adding more.
[The Time of Promise must be at hand. I may have to move soon.]
A storm brewed in response to his action, which seemed like sighing to others. It was due to the magnitude of Terdan’s size.
A light gathered by Terdan’s chest, and a ring sprang forth, flying towards Vera.
It was ‘his’ legacy that required no further explanations.
Vera received the ring, examined it briefly, and then pocketed it while continuing his train of thought.
‘Terdan said, the Time of Promise.’
It was the attitude of someone who had anticipated such an event.
Thus, Vera needed to confirm his suspicions.
“There is something I want to ask you.”
“Did you know that Alaysia was after Ardain’s body?”
It was a direct question.
If Terdan’s favorable attitude towards them wasn’t fake, he would surely answer.
After some consideration, Terdan rubbed his chin and then nodded.
[Yes. That is why Ardain left us his legacy.]
Vera’s fist clenched tightly.
“What did Ardain want?”
There was a lingering question in the back of his mind.
As though expecting his own death, what did Ardain truly desire by preparing measures like the artifacts and Elia in advance?
So far, the information gathered pointed to Alaysia as the one who had torn Ardain’s soul apart. However, it didn’t make sense for Ardain, who possessed all nine powers, to die at the hands of Alaysia.
The only conceivable conclusion was that Ardain had intentionally allowed himself to be killed by Alaysia.
After a moment of silence, Terdan’s answer emerged.
[I do not know.]
Vera’s expression crumbled.
Terdan continued, seemingly unconcerned with Vera’s reaction.
[We cannot know what intentions he had. Thus, we can only resent her.]
“…Resent, you say.”
[Yes. We cannot help but hate her for erasing the brother whom we loved so dearly, even if those were his intentions.]
After those incomprehensible words, Terdan spoke again.
[Yet, we can only remember. The dying wishes of our friend, brother, and father. What he left for us.]
Vera stared fiercely at Terdan before asking before asking another question.
“…What were his dying wishes?”
It was a question aimed at uncovering everything he could.
Terdan raised his head, gazing at the moon hanging in the night sky, then recited.
[When the Time of Promise comes, our era shall end. This land will truly be free from its shackles, leaving only pure possibilities and the unknown. Prepare yourselves. On that day, my siblings, you shall finally see the end of this long nightmare. Welcome the coming Shepherd, bearing only proof of my existence.]
Vargo’s eyebrows furrowed.
“He speaks rather cryptically.”
[Indeed. He has always spoken in such a cryptic manner. However, worry not. His words will become clear when the time comes. Simply think of it as his wretched temperament.]
The seeds that Ardain had planted sprouted so neatly that he couldn’t help but smile.
[I am truly relieved. Once again, I have confirmed that Ardain was correct.]
With that, he closed his eyes.
[I am slowly growing drowsy. I should sleep a while longer. When the time comes, I will awaken, so do not try to wake me from my slumber. My sleeping habits are quite terrible.]
The mention of his sleeping habits brought something to mind.
It was none other than that moment four years ago, when Renee had used her powers to awaken him.
‘So that’s his sleeping habits…’
It was absurd.
Should he really be called an Ancient Species?
Even his sleeping habits seemed to be on a different scale.
Terdan laid his body back onto the earth.
It was hard to believe that just moments ago, he had taken on the form of a human. Now, lying on the ground, Terdan’s shape was that of a perfect mountain range.
After the surreal moment had passed, Vargo scratched his beard and spoke.
“…Let’s go. The children must be waiting.”
In response to these words, Vera nodded silently.
The gates of Elia were drenched entirely in blood.
A sea of blood had formed, and the Alaysia clones they had previously seen in the Empire were scattered throughout it.
Standing in front of the castle gates were the twins with stoic expressions.
They looked at Vera and Vargo as they approached and spoke immediately after.
“We made pink and red.”
Their faces were filled with pride as they puffed out their chests and spoke.
At a loss for words at the scene before him, Vera curled his lips for a while before laughing and responding.
“…Well done, you worked hard.”
Belatedly, Vera thought of the unharmed twins standing there, Vargo beside him, and the other Apostles awaiting within.
In this life, he had succeeded in protecting them by taking action.
No one had died, and they all survived to plan for the future together.
He didn’t know what the future held.
He didn’t know what Ardain wished for or how to defeat Alaysia.
Yet, Vera was happy.
Whatever might happen, he believed this life would be better than the last.
Vargo clicked his tongue.
Vera and the twins turned their attention to Vargo, who was scowling at the blood stuck to the soles of his shoes.
“Go and get this cleaned up. What the hell is all this?”
At the grumpy old man’s complaints, Vera laughed while the twins wore sulky expressions.